A/N this is my attempt to capture some of the strain between Itachi and his father… as well as the love that used to lie between them.
DISCLAIMER: don't own, don't sue.
Mikoto gasped, her breathing becoming ragged and heavy as she held on tight to her husband's hand. With her free hand, she cradled her swollen belly, groaning in pain.
"You're doing great," the doctor assured her. "Just a little more…"
Soon, her cries of pain were drowned out by the cry of a new life as it drew in its first breath of air.
Fugaku smiled for the first time in what, to him, felt like an eternity as their child was placed in its mother's arms, its crying dying away as Mikoto nursed it for the first time.
"Congratulations," the doctor said, "you have a healthy baby boy."
Fugaku reached out to touch his son. The baby looked back at his father with wide, black eyes, the expression on his tiny porcelain face almost one of curiosity.
"What should we name him?" Fugaku asked.
"I like Itachi," she said at last. "What about you, my sweet little baby?" she asked the child. "Do you like that name?"
The baby gurgled, then yawned.
"I love it," Fugaku replied.
"Sweet dreams, Itachi," Mikoto cooed as he fell asleep.
Fugaku's smile widened.
"…That's my boy," he whispered.
After returning from a mission, Fugaku walked into his house to be greeted by his wife's flustered and tear-streaked face.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"It's Itachi, he…" Mikoto burst into tears once more.
"What's wrong? What happened?"
"…I told him to stay inside, but…he went outside anyway, and he…well, saw some things he really shouldn't have…war, I mean…and now I can't get him to eat or come out of his room. It's been three days, Fugaku, I'm really scared!"
"What did he see?"
"While you were gone…our village was attacked. There were so many people killed…and Itachi…he saw it all."
"I'll talk to him, don't worry."
Fugaku walked into his son's bedroom. Itachi was hiding under the blue covers, a small bump in the thick fabric.
"Son, come out from there," Fugaku said, sitting down on the bed.
"Come on, Itachi, I need to talk to you."
Itachi poked his head out from under the blanket.
Fugaku wasn't entirely sure how to deal with this. He'd talked himself out of hard situations before, he could deal with that, but talking to your traumatized four-year-old son…no, not so much.
He took a deep breath to settle his nerves.
"Itachi, your mother told me what you saw. I know that must be hard for you, but that's just the way things are in war, do you understand?"
"Then why do we bother fighting wars in the first place?" he asked.
Fugaku was silent. Never, in all his life, had he bothered to ask himself that question. He had always just accepted it as the natural order of things.
Those somber eyes were surveying him critically, waiting for an answer.
"…I don't know."
Fugaku took Itachi and held him. Itachi trembled all over, clinging to his father's shirt.
"Daddy, you've never killed anyone, have you?"
His dark eyes turned pleading, and Fugaku thought, just this once, it wouldn't hurt to tell a lie.
"As long as you and mommy haven't ever killed anyone, I guess I'm okay."
Fugaku scratched his head and smiled sadly, pushing his guilt into a far corner of his mind.
"So, you'll be tough for your dad?"
Itachi nodded, and Fugaku ruffled his hair.
"That's my boy!" he chuckled.
Itachi smiled and waved to the crowd, dressed in a ceremonial kimono as he received his village headband, seven-year-old face beaming with pride as he joined the throng of about twenty other graduates, all older than him.
But he was stronger than they were, and that was all that mattered.
"I did it, daddy!" he hollered. Though the sound never reached his father's ears, Fugaku knew what he meant.
"That's my boy!" he shouted proudly. "That's my boy!"
"Itachi, you are the pipeline that connects the clan to this village. Do you know what that means?"
Itachi nodded slowly.
"So you want me to spy on the village," Itachi said. Not a question. Just the truth.
"Yes. Do you think you can handle that?"
Fugaku ruffled Itachi's hair, feeling as though he could trust his son completely.
"That's my boy."
"Like I've said before, appearances and preconceptions aren't going to tell you anything. For instance, you've made the mistake of assuming that I'm a patient man."
Itachi's rage was barely hidden by a forcibly calm voice. He trembled ever so slightly, anger showing on every inch of his body.
"The clan, the clan!" Itachi's voice oozed disgust and disdain. "You overestimate your own abilities, with no idea of the depth of my own. And look at you now, groveling in the dirt!"
His eyes narrowed with hatred. Fugaku had never seen his son this way, with contempt for his proud heritage etched onto his face.
"Obsessed with the organization. Obsessed with the clan. Obsessed with our lineage. A worthless compulsion that enslaves us, and limits our capabilities. Leading us to fear what we don't understand."
A kunai suddenly appeared in his hand. He thrust it into the clan crest, cracking the stonework. Fugaku couldn't understand. What had caused this? When had Itachi become so bitter?
"I've had enough. There's no hope left for this pathetic clan."
Fugaku couldn't wipe that memory out of his mind, even now, as sleep evaded him. It had taken the knowledge that his younger brother had witnessed his entire act to get Itachi to calm down.
He got out of bed and went outside, into the fresh air. Itachi was already there, gazing up at the full moon, a remorseful look in his eyes.
"What are you doing awake, Itachi?" Fugaku asked.
Itachi didn't turn around.
"Nothing, father. Why do you care?"
"Because I'm your father. What's bothering you so much?"
"What's bothering me?"
Itachi whirled to face his father.
"Oh, I don't know. Maybe it's the fact that this clan has lost Konoha's trust. Or, maybe it's the fact that the clan is planning a fucking coup de etàt against the village when they know it could cause another god damn fucking war!"
"Itachi, watch your language!"
"My language? In the midst of your clan planning a fucking war, you're worried about my fucking language?"
"It's your clan too, Itachi."
"No, it's not!" Itachi shouted. "Not anymore…"
As Itachi walked away, Fugaku tried to remind himself that this was still his son.
That's my boy, he reminded himself. That's my boy. That's my boy. That's my boy…
Pain shot through Fugaku's body as Itachi's sword slashed through him. He caught one last glimpse of his son as the world went dark around him. Tears and blood streamed down Itachi's face as he watched his father die at his feet.
When did this happen? When did the love between father and son die?
That's my boy, Fugaku reminded himself one final time. No matter how much he's changed…no matter what he's done…still…
A/N reviews and criticism are welcome.