Fandom: Naruto
Title: Amaranth(1)
Author: hana-akira AKA rurichi
Genre: Angst, General
Character: Uchiha Madara, Uchiha Izuna
Rating: 17+
Warning: OOC, doesn't-really-follow-Canon-at-all
Prompt: Madara never wanted the Mangekyou Sharingan. Amaranth: an imaginary, undying flower known to have a deep, dark purplish-red color. "That flower is just an illusion." Inspired by -Man Chapter 186.
Summary: "I entered a dream from which there was no waking." There's a reason why Madara is a realist and why he still went insane anyway.

A/N: Just… just ignore everything from Canon. It'd be better appreciated that way. Also, there's implied!IzunaxMadara. I was really inspired to write this when I read the -Man chapter 186, the sentence: "I entered a dream from which there was no waking," and the word amaranth.

The hallucinations of "seeing things" start to come shortly after he awakens his bloodline.

The illusion of a flower at the edges of his sight… Madara knows he should have told someone, anyone, but at the time he had thought it was just a figment of his imagination, his mind just playing tricks on him or simply just stress from all the fighting and the war going on. It hadn't seemed serious at all or even a problem.

It was just there—this one, single, solitary flower—and it did nothing except just stay innocently rooted in its place. If anything, it was beautiful in a very unusual way—like it was bleeding but not and how it would never die no matter how many times someone would go through it or crush it accidentally because they couldn't see it. He knew ultimately that it was just an illusion so he simply wrote it off as just temporary exhaustion, not knowing that this purplish-red flower, this amaranth of blood and bruises, was going to haunt him.

Uchiha Madara, age 12, could see an imaginary flower and though having delusions could be considered of him having a psychotic disorder, didn't think much of it until many years later because of his little brother and one taboo subject:

The Mangekyou Sharingan(2).

Madara is going insane, but it doesn't mean a thing if he's able to hide it.

(And I'll bleed, just to know that you're alive.)

"The Sharingan(3), the Copy Wheel Eye, is a Doujutsu Kekkei Genkai, an eye technique bloodline limit that enabled its users to perceive chakra despite the fact that it ALSO consumed chakra from the user when it's being used. It is activated only under stressful emotional situations and has different levels depending on the number of tomoe(4) the user has around their pupils with one around each pupil being the lowest and with three being the highest. The Sharingan can evolve and is capable of seeing chakra flow, memorizing the movements of opponents, and several other abilities that usually outweigh the cost of using it.

The Mangekyou Sharingan, the Kaleidoscope Copy Wheel Eye, is an advanced and better form of the third stage of the Sharingan—a secret "fourth" level one could say and it has a more detailed form of the basic three-tomoe Sharingan."

- Ancient Uchiha Ancestor, The Secret History of the Uchiha, [Month XX/Day XX/Year XXXX]

The entry ends there and what the dead man doesn't say, Madara finds out later firsthand, is that achieving said "secret fourth level" would cause eventual blindness and getting said "secret fourth level" is only possible if one felt the loss of a loved one.

He also notes, to his consternation, that nothing in any of the records say anything about the chronic hallucinations continuously reoccurring after activating the Sharingan.

(And out of the corner of his eye, Madara could see a bruised red flower blooming.)

Everything goes downhill when his younger brother Izuna gets it in his head that it's a good idea to get the Mangekyou Sharingan.

They fight over it, of course: With him vehemently opposing it and Izuna desperately trying to plead to him to just try it. Once. Just once. His little brother pleads as though he's pleading for another's life (Which it might be in this case because if they're able to use that tool just right, the children may never have to go into battle ever again—)

He doesn't want it, though—those thrice damned cursed eyes. He doesn't want it and he doesn't understand why Izuna would either. The cost of getting it, the price for it… just wasn't worth it. It outweighed the benefits too much and in the end both knew it wouldn't be enough. But Izuna would not be deterred (He never was one for backing down, not even when it was for his own good.)

"It's your funeral," he says to the younger man bitterly, a pained wince and grimace on his otherwise resigned face, an ominous feeling crawling up his skin.

(What the records didn't tell you, however, was that it also deteriorated certain users of their minds and suffice to say, Madara was going to be one of them and it is all of Uchiha Izuna's fault.)

Izuna simply smiles in triumph, not knowing that he will be the trigger and catalyst of his older brother's continued illness.

It gets worse after he gets the Mangekyou Sharingan.

Getting the Mangekyou Sharingan is ridiculously easy—so easy that it wasn't even funny (All they had to do was remember all the children who had died, all the innocents caught in the crossfire, and their eyes were bleeding like a river, their tomoe morphing and forming something else entirely.)

It's the aftermath that's not.

The flower starts to appear in his dreams; slowly, so slowly like a disease and by the time he notices it, it's already too late.

Reality and fantasy blends into one and where one ends, another begins to the point that Madara can't even tell the difference anymore and by the time Izuna notices that his older brother isn't going to get out alive, the nightmares and the blood of the dead have already sunk their claws into the older one's eyes.

(It's suffocating, it's smothering, and it's like he's drowning in a pool of his own blood and no one is coming to save him.)

It takes all of Madara's self-control to not suddenly go berserk when he starts seeing the flowers blooming from the eyes of others.

(The eternal flower forever blooms in a midst of blood and the others go on as though the fact that there are a flower's roots in their eye sockets doesn't bother them at all.)

I will never die and you will always be by my side—

He covers his mouth and he wants to throw up.

[Someone, please help me.]

The dreams and delusions don't stop there.

They continue on, like a radio on repeat, and they never stop. Not when he's eating, not when he's fighting, and definitely not when he's sleeping. (They follow him like shadows, like ghosts that will never leave him alone.)

You have to keep things real, he tells himself. You have to keep your sanity intact. For them, for him, for you. You have to.

It doesn't stop the fact that he's spiraling down, anyway.

(He is hyperventilating now, though outwardly he shows no sign of it.)

Eventually, all Madara can see is red. A dark, dark red—blinding him, smothering him—blood, that was all he could see and it was on the walls, on the ceiling, and everything else. (It was everywhere and he couldn't see and he couldn't breathe.)

Bloody tears run down his face constantly at night and he can't eat, he can't sleep, and he certainly can't speak no matter how hard he tries. (Haunting eyes following him everywhere, staring. Just staring and he cries silently.)

It was too much. Everything—it was just too much.

(The immortal flower stays innocently still in its venom and poison and it spreads all across over Madara's vision.)

"This is just a dream, a nightmare: An illusion."

(He remembers vividly of the flower's unnatural beauty and of its underlining cruelty and so he doesn't believe his own words at all.)

(And you smother me and you love me and you murder me in my sleep and in my dreams to show that you'll never leave me—)

And it hurts; it hurts, it hurts, it hurts so much that he can't tell friend from foe and he feels like he's bursting at the seams even though that's not what it seemed.

(It terrifies Izuna how his older brother can't sleep, how he can barely eat, and how rarely he speaks now and Izuna doesn't know how at all to cure his older brother who's falling apart in front of him.)

His brother is constantly in a cold sweat, tossing and turning, and he can't go out to battle anymore unless the Uchiha Clan wants to kill everything in their sight and a lump is in Izuna's throat because he knows that the state his big brother is in is his fault.

(You pulled the trigger and now you're the catalyst, the catalyst of dreams, and deep in you, a small part of you, had wanted to hurt people but you never wanted to hurt him, no not him because he always gave in no matter what you did and he loves you unconditionally and he loves you he love you he LOVES YOU and it's all your fault that he's forced into leaving you behind.)

Izuna holds Madara's left hand (The hand closest to his heart) in both of his and Madara writhes tightly into a ball.

And you helplessly try to help him, anything to make him feel better—brushing his hair back, changing the cloth on his forehead every hour, murmuring that it'll get better—and he looks at you with the same wish on his lips in those brief moments of strange and desperate lucidity that come and go as swift as it came before he's back again into a trembling mess—

"Please kill me. Anything to make the pain stop."

And he's once again turning inward into himself, shutting his eyes tightly, his breath labored, and you can't do anything except stay by his side miserably, not able to do anything at all but be useless. (So much pain. Please make it stop. Please, please, his brother begs, but Izuna can't, no he can't at all. He loves his brother too much to let him die like an invalid, bedridden and ailing and so he'll do anything to prevent this from happening.)

I'll love you forever and you'll never get away—

(There's blood on the ceiling, there's blood on the walls, and all the while the everlasting, imaginary flower is everywhere and nowhere at once and Madara lets out a blood-curdling scream not unlike how one finds that they just entered a dream, a nightmare, an illusion from which there was no waking whatsoever.)

I promise you, for the rest of my life, you will be the only one on my mind—

(It terrifies his enemies, his allies, and everyone else that Uchiha Madara wants to die. It terrifies them.)

[Someone, please make this dream on repeat stop.]

It's the same dream again and the dead haunt him like shadows that never sleep or even go to bed.

They follow him; dead children, dead women, and dead men, and Madara knows that the reason that they do is because he killed them. Enemies who were all capable of killing, who had started killing since they could walk and talk, and who had all in the ended up being part of the growing body count of the pile of bodies that Madara had left behind him unburied because there was no time to bury the dead.

(He had wanted to at least bury the children, little boys and little girls who should have been playing hero or in flower fields instead but were playing killer because Mama and Papa said so. He had wanted to, but there was no time, no time at all to even stay still and so he had to run, run from the dead bodies that were imprinted in his mind for the rest of his life because of his Sharingan.)

He sobs into his pillow, muffled, and he is faced down sideways on his futon(5). (And his baths are full of warm blood and what he's smelling isn't rose-scented candles at all but sandalwood incense and it's burning and he's drowning again in a pool of his own blood—)

His head is listlessly tilted back when he is in the bath, his black eyes staring blankly at the ceiling above him, thoughts in his head buzzing like a white sound that are never said aloud. (And the water is thick, thick like blood, and there's that saying running through his head that blood is thicker than water, but what does that mean what does that mean WHAT DOES THAT MEAN—)

The air is heavy like a hospital and the dead behind Madara whisper in his ears like they're telling him the secret to immortality or the meaning of life.

Madara, Madara, kago no naka no tori wa
Itsu itsu deyaru? Yoake no ban ni,
Tsuru to kame ga subetta.
Ushiro no shoumen daare?
(6)

Madara can recall a legend, a tale of the immortal flower that lives on forever and forever in the dreams of the damned. It stays there, rooted, and it grows with every moment of passing despair.

The flower is the color of bruises, the color of freshly spilled blood, and the color mixes together to create a dark crimson that's like the color of an aged wine.

He can also recall that the damned, like the flower, will never die. (They will never grow old, they will never wither, and it's a curse, it must be a curse because living forever is the worst.)

The coffee Madara drinks is a shade of brown (Like the color of dead leaves) and as he drinks it (A golden goblet of poison), it chokes him from the inside out like herbal medicine taking root in the pit of his stomach.

Izuna watches Madara stare despondently out the window into the night and the proximity between them is only a breath away. (And as Madara tiredly puts his head onto the crook of Izuna's shoulder, he resignedly accepts the fact that Izuna's Mangekyou Sharingan eyes, which are looking at him in concern, are the color of an amaranth.)

It's a secret between he and I that I love it when you are by my side—

[Someone, please save me.]

Sooner or later, though, the hallucinations will prove to be too much for Madara and he will do the only thing that will solve his problem for him without him dying: He will claw out his eyes, finally bringing blissful darkness to his warring mind. And for the first time since he was 12, since he awakened his bloodline, he will not see a bleeding, bruised flower at the end of his vision or a ghost haunting his side.

(He will smile and he will sleep peacefully without thrashing for once and he will studiously ignore the foreboding feeling that creeps onto his skin as his eyelids start to close, his mind falling into a sleepless dream.)

A screen door will open—a glint in a shadow's hands—and a new nightmare will begin.

He wakes up, with his dead brother in his arms, his vision in a permanent crimson red; the amaranth still there, in his dreams, except this time with his brother holding it in his hands toward Madara in offering.

(And he screamed.)

A/N: Footnotes ahoy!

(1) An amaranth is an imaginary, undying flower that's known to have a dark purplish-red color. It's not real and I'm not really sure what it looks like, but the one that I had in my head was similar to that of a red lotus that was darker in some parts of its petals than others.

(2) The Mangekyou Sharingan, which means literally the Kaleidoscope Copy Wheel Eye, is an upgrade of the bloodline limit, the Sharingan.

(3) The Sharingan, which literally means the Copy Wheel Eye, is the bloodline limit of the Uchiha Clan and is known to be red in color and have black tomoe around the pupil of the eyes.

(4) Tomoe is a Japanese abstract shape that resembles a comma.

(5) A futon is a Japanese term that refers to the traditional style of a Japanese mattress and bedding. It's literally what people what people call a "Japanese bed". What's usually included in one is a bottom mattress, a quilted bedcover (Like a comforter or blanket), and a pillow and it's generally designed to be placed on tatami flooring.

(6) Kagome, kagome is a Japanese children's game where one child is chosen to be the oni (The "demon" or "ogre" but really means "it" like how one is in the game of tag) who sits with their eyes blindfolded or covered with their hands and the other children join hands to form a circle around the oni while chanting the song for the game. When the song stops, the oni has to speak aloud of the name of the person who is behind them and if they're correct, that person will exchange places with the oni. To my understanding, if the oni gets it wrong, though, the song is started again and then stopped until the oni gets it right. The song the children sing goes like this:

Kagome, Kagome, kago no naka no tori wa
Itsu itsu deyaru? Yoake no ban ni,
Tsuru to kame ga subetta.
Ushiro no shoumen dare?

And it literally translates to:

Kagome, Kagome, the bird in the cage,
when will you come out?
In the evening of the dawn,
the crane and turtle slipped.
Who stands right behind you now?

There are other translations to the song, but that's the gist of it. I've never played this game and as you've probably noticed, I switched the "Kagome, Kagome," with "Madara, Madara," for the sake of this story.