Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.


It's spring.

The snow is melting in the mountains to the North, and rushing down through the rivers, sluicing away all the cracks from hard ice. The trees have the tiniest of green buds on them, little seeds just beginning to perk. Tufts of grass are just beginning to push up. There are no flowers yet.

The water is cold.

That's all Itachi can think of, as it washes over his hands. The water is cold, and the water is high, and the water is moving fast this season.

There is a spasm, and his hands tighten.

He can't think of anything else. If he does, he'll break, he knows he will (and he's already done it before and he can't do it again and there's still blood running down his chest and his back and his head where Shisui had been stabbing again and again and again) and then he'll never survive this world of bared tooth and claw.

His legs are on arms, his body flat against another, and he is at least two sizes too small, and exhausted, and he doesn't want to do this.

But Shisui has tried to kill him one too many times now. Six were passed off as accidents (and maybe they were, because Itachi can never know for sure, right? Right?) but the last two were anything but. The last two—

Itachi presses his arms against Shishui's neck, the stitches pulling in the wounds gouged just above and just below his heart. Mementos, of the times that weren't accidents—he has many others from "accidents". He can't let Shisui live, he knows this, he must drown—drown—drown—

No, he realizes with sudden and sickening clarity, I can do something else. It was something that might end his friends (and he was his friend so how, how, could he do this to him?) and he lets go, pulls back, and Shisui comes up gasping for air.

Itachi does not give him a chance.

(Not another one. His stitches have snapped, and he is bleeding.)

He grabs the misery and the anger and the hurt in his mind, shoves it forward until it fills his eyes, and then he turns Shisui's (blue, trembling, cold, coughing, miserable) face towards him and sends him deep into a genjutsu of his own creation.

It's nice in there. Shisui has no guilt (if he ever had it), no sadness (if it ever mattered), and no duty (which is most crushing of all. Because they both have orders, and loyalty has always weighed more than friendship among Uchiha.)

He does not notice when Itachi stabs him. He does not notice his neck being laid open by the sharp edge and the way his head flops slightly, the skin tearing, as his body crumples. He does not notice the cold shock of water as Itachi rolls him in, and watches the current carry him away.

At that moment, Itachi wants to die, and he bends down and puts his hands in the water, wondering how long it would take.

But Sasuke is at home. Sasuke, whose father could care less and his mother who only cares at times, and it is Itachi he is waiting for. Itachi, who has to go home so he can see his little brother grow. And he will grow up, the council has at least promised Itachi that.

He takes a deep breath, stands up, and leaves a trail of blood home.


Author's Notes: Please review this bit of angst.