Theme #21 Innocence

As he looks at the picture in his hand, he can't help but remember how cute Sasuke was back then. He had wide innocent onyx eyes, a bright smile, and the cutest pout. Now, he's a dark, revenge-driven teen with no sense of pity. It's sad to think that such an innocent boy could turn into such a heartless teen. Tragedy can do that to a kid, especially one as innocent as this one. If only he didn't have to do that… to kill his clan… to kill his innocence.

"Itachi, it's time to go. Sasuke is nearing fast," Kisame said softly, placing his large hand gently on the smaller man's shoulder.

Placing the photo in the center of his neatly made bed, Itachi walked out of his room in silence. Today was the day he'd die. Today, he'd allow himself to succumb to his disease. Today, Sasuke will think he killed his older brother.

"Are you sure you want to do this, Angel?" Kisame asked, attempting to persuade him to not die, to live, one last time.

"My mind is made up. You can't stop me and you know that," Itachi paused and turned to his partner. "No matter what happens, know that I love you and only you, Kisame." Itachi leant forward and pressed his lips against the blue ones. Backing up, Itachi locked eyes with his lover, one last time. "I have to do this." With that, he disappeared.

Kisame fell to his knees and sobbed. He'd no longer see Itachi's dark eyes, his flowing jet black hair, his onyx eyes turn red when he's mad, or even that cute expression he gets when he's afraid. None of that. For the rest of his life, he'll have to live without his angel, his Itachi.

Gathering himself, he rose to his feet. He'd have to fulfill his lover's dying wish, to make it a fair fight, brother-to-brother, shinobi-to-shinobi. He quickly formed the hand-signs and teleported to a place over a mile away from Sasuke and Itachi's meeting place.

After five minutes, Sasuke and his team skid to a halt in front of him. "Get out of my way. I need to fight Itachi," Sasuke growled, his eyes flashing a dangerous color of red like what Itachi would do when he would be telling Kisame off.

"Itachi-san would like a fair fight. Only Sasuke may pass," Kisame stated in monotone. His eyes locked with Sasuke's and then nodded. Sasuke then turned his glare onto his team.

"But Sasuke-" the girl started.

"Karin, urusae," Sasuke ordered. "Juugo, make sure they stay in line. I'll be back." The large orange hair man nodded without saying so much as a word. Sasuke turned and without saying anything else, he jumped up into the trees, past Kisame and toward his brother.

A minute ticked by in silence as the four stood. Another minute and soon five had past. Suigetsu, fed up with the stillness, broke the silence. "Kisame, I'll fight you for Samahada," he yelled. Kisame shook his head and summoned his sword to him.

"Unfortunately for you, Samahada here won't work for you. She's got to like your chakra and right now, I can hear her growling," Kisame shot back. He didn't feel like fighting at this moment.

"Then, I'll just have to fight you to earn Samahada's trust," Suigetsu yelled, drawing the Executioner's Blade and lunging forward, swinging it down in an arc. Kisame held Samahada in a defensive position when an explosion went off in the distance.

Taking the force of the impact, Kisame pushed Suigetsu far away from him. "Angel!" he cried. Silence engulfed the shinobi as Kisame fell to his knees. The only thing that broke it was the sounds of Kisame's muffled sobs. Every time an explosion or crash could be heard, Kisame would visibly flinch and begin crying harder.

Juugo quietly walked over to the broken man and knelt down beside him, placing a gentle hand on his shoulder. "He was close to you, wasn't he?" Juugo whispered. Kisame nodded into his hands. "How close was he?" Curiosity had taken over.

He breathed a shaky breath and turned his head to the sky. "He… is my angel… He…" He stopped to take another shaky breath. "He understands me. He listens to me. He laughs at my cheesy jokes. He even puts up with me! He was amazing! He was mine! He was mine!" he screamed, pounding his fist against the ground.

Sasuke walked into the Uchiha Hideout and into Itachi's view where he sat at the throne that was once Madara's. "What do you see with your Sharingan?" he asked. He rested his arm out of his sleeve.

"What do I see, Itachi? With the power I've gained, I see one thing that is crystal clear," Sasuke strode forward to face his brother. "I see you dead."

"You see me dead?" Itachi asked, tilting his head back. "Well then…" Itachi shot forward. "Let's see how good your eyesight is." A smirk crossed Sasuke's lips as he turned to punch his brother, who in turn blocked it with his forearm, kunai in hand. Sasuke drew his kusenagi to block the now upcoming kunai. Itachi used his momentum to throw himself into the air and hit Sasuke with a sweeping kick to the face.

As gravity forced him toward the ground, Sasuke drove his kusenagi upward. Before it could come into contact with Itachi, he grabbed the scruff of Sasuke's clothes and shifted his weight to get behind him. Now firmly planted on the ground and still with a hand on his clothes, Itachi threw Sasuke back.

Coming to a stop, Sasuke formed the hand signs and charged forward with a Chidori where he grabbed his now discarded kusenagi to initiate Chidori Nagashi (Lightning Current). To avoid the current, Itachi sprang up into the air, but Sasuke was too quick and stabbed his kusenagi through his chest, where gravity forced them both down.

"You've gotten… much stronger," Itachi bit out.

Still kneeling over Itachi, Sasuke answered, "This is the, Itachi… But before I kill you, I have one last question." Before Sasuke could continue, Itachi raised his hand and pointed.

There sat Itachi. The one under the knife was part of a Genjutsu. It dispersed into crows. "The end is a long way off, but I'm willing to listen. What do you want to know?"

"Have you gone deaf?" Sasuke growled. Quick as lightning, Sasuke appeared behind the throne and stabbed his sword through his brother's chest. However, he purposely missed hitting anything vital. "You will answer me this one question. Until you do, your pain will not end… The third one… that other Sharingan user… that other Uchiha, who is it?"

Itachi sighed, "Why do you ask me this?"

"Once I'm through with you… I will kill him next," Sasuke snapped.

"Kill him?" Itachi questioned.

"On the night you slaughtered the entire Uchiha clan, you saw fit to mention this one other person… an Uchiha you did not kill, your accomplice. No matter how strong you were, you still could never have taken on the entire police force on your own… so, you realized that. Now tell me, who is he?" Sasuke demanded.

Itachi turned and smirked. "Uchiha Madara, he is one of the founding fathers of Konoha… the first man to ever awaken the Mangekyou Sharingan," he stated calmly.

"A founder? Then this Madara should be long dead! Don't fuck around with me!" Sasuke yelled agitated. Itachi paused before answering.

"Madara still lives whether you believe me or not is your own choice," he replied still not moving. Before he could continue, Sasuke cut him off.

"Cut the crap!" he shouted, his anger rising.

"All people live relying on their knowledge and perception and are thus bound to them. Those boundaries are what they tend to accept as 'reality.' However, knowledge and perception are both ambiguous, so 'reality' could be nothing more than an illusion. People live trapped by their limited perception, do you see?" Itachi said.

"Where are you going with this?" Sasuke questioned.

Itachi chuckled, "To say that Madara is dead is the trapping of your own limited prospective in the same way… that you fooled yourself in believing that I was a caring older brother."

"What I saw that night… I thought it must have been just an illusion. I wanted to believe that I had stumbled into a terrible Genjutsu… BUT I HADN'T! I KNOW IT WAS THE TERRIBLE REALITY!" Sasuke screamed letting out his pent up anger. He shot a line of lightning to his other side, to what seemed to be nowhere. "My eyes are not as blind as they once were. My Sharingan can see through all of Genjutsu."

"Hmph… I see you are still as noisy as before. Although, I'll grant that your words may be true this time," Itachi said. The lightning blade had just barely missed him. The Itachi that had the sword through him disappeared.

"I've had enough of your charades," Sasuke said retracting the lightning. The room shifted back to what it was like at the beginning.

"Even then Sasuke, you still do not possess the same eyes as I do," Itachi stated. Sasuke grunted.

"Then go ahead and try to kill me with your Mangekyou Sharingan! Or have I long surpassed your so-called 'capacity'." Sasuke cockily stated

"You seem full of confidence," Itachi stated rising to his feet. "Mangekyou Sharingan… this eye is quite unique… The day it is awakened, it begins its slow descent into darkness. The more often it is summoned forth, the faster the decline."

"What do you mean?" Sasuke tilted his head as he asked the man.

"The kaleidoscope will in time lose its light," Itachi replied. His vision was failing and now he'd no longer have to suffer with that.

"Blindness… that is the price you have to pay to control the Kyuubi," Sasuke said and Itachi began to slowly approach.

"So, you did read the inscription in the shrine after all." Itachi said, coming to a stop a few yards away from his younger brother.

"Madara, who is he really?"

"A man whose eyes tamed the Kyuubi and controlled it like a pet. My accomplice, my teacher, the only person in history to learn the Sharingan's final secret, an invincible immortal, that's who Uchiha Madara is," Itachi explained.

"Uchiha Madara… learned the 'final' secret of the Mangekyou Sharingan?" Sasuke raised an eyebrow in confusion. "There's more than being able to control the Kyuubi?"

"Yes… the last and most important piece of the puzzle." Itachi then proceeded to tell the story of Madara and his brother, and of how all Uchiha brothers were destined to do the same, to steal the other's eyes, to get the eternal light of the Mangekyou Sharingan.

The Genjutsu faded and Sasuke was thrown back into reality. Itachi managed to pull of the façade. He managed to make Sasuke believe him that he was going to steal his eyes, when really; Itachi was going to give him his eyes.

Sasuke threw off his cloak and bandages. "Finally, it all ends here," he smirked. Itachi stuck his arm into his cloak sleeve. It was then, he finally noticed the seals on Sasuke's wrists.

Sasuke began to summon shuriken from the seals and began to throw them at Itachi, who in turn blocked them with his own. The two shot forward and clashed in the center, each holding the other in place by their forearms. Itachi quickly made a Kage Bushin (Shadow Clone) that threw kunai at Sasuke. Using his curse seal to his advantage, he made a snake stop the attack. But, Itachi was already on the offense and drove a kunai towards him. The snake wrapped entirely around Sasuke, stopping the attack and Itachi in its tracks.

When it uncoiled, Sasuke had a Fuma Shuriken and had thrown it towards Itachi. He blocked it with a kunai, but it was too much. It cut through to him. Luckily, it was the Bushin and it disappeared into crows.

Itachi then kicked Sasuke back into the wall. His hands and legs were held to it as he was punched in the stomach. "I'm sorry Sasuke," Itachi said, pretending to try and steal his eyes. Activation his curse mark, Sasuke forced his brother away from him. That Genjutsu was broken and the brothers still stood apart, unhurt and untouched. Sasuke collapsed to his knees from the mental strength it took to deactivate the Tsukiyomi. Itachi, too, collapsed to his knees moments later.

Both getting to their feet, Itachi turned to the other power of the Sharingan. Sasuke saw him forming the hand signs and threw a Kage Fuma Shuriken. Itachi crept down low and jumped in between the Fuma and its shadow in a twirl. Grasping the wire rigged on them, Sasuke pulled them towards his brother again. Kicking most of it away, Itachi cursed his disease as one part was stabbed into his thigh. He pulled it out as Sasuke formed hand signs for a fireball.

"Katon: Goukakyou no Jutsu," Sasuke said as a giant fireball shot from his mouth. Using this as a diversion. Sasuke shot forward with a Chidori charged hand. A blast was heard and Itachi landed on the top of the building after performing his own fireball. Luckily for Sasuke, he had guarded himself with his curse seal.

They now were squaring off on the roof of the building. As if in unison, the brothers formed the hand signs, and shot a grand fireball at each other, causing yet another blast. As Sasuke's flame began to dominate, Itachi finally released the Amaterasu. Both flames died.

Itachi shot forth another Amaterasu. This one caught Sasuke's curse mark wing/arm and was soon engulfing him. Itachi stopped the flames. Sasuke had replaced himself with a snake and was now back in the room at which they started at, dripping with sweat. He allowed the curse mark to finally cover his whole body as he shot, yet again, another fireball up. He missed Itachi, though, and instead it flew up into the sky.

The curse mark retreated as the sky began to fill with storm clouds. Both were out of chakra. The next move could very likely decide it all. Rain began to pour as the thunder crashed above them. Jumping up to face his brother, Sasuke raised a hand in the air. He took control of the lightning. Kirin finally crackled as Sasuke brought his hand down to end his Aniki's life.

Sasuke walked into Itachi's bedroom. He had just found out the truth behind his brother's actions. He felt sorry for hating him for so long. He walked over to the bed and sat down, putting his head in his hands. Calming down, he caught sight of the picture on the bed.

The picture showed a park with Itachi and Sasuke on the swings. Both were smiling as they competed to see who could swing higher. Sasuke smiled as he remembered all the good times he had with his brother. His smile grew slightly happier because all those times were not faked as he had once thought.

"You know, he liked to keep photos," Kisame said walking into the room. "He would also draw all sorts of pictures in his spare times, when he wasn't reading. They were mostly of you and me." Kisame moved to the closet and retrieved a box.

In the box were pictures of Sasuke and Itachi in varying stages of their lives. Some were of them together playing or training. Some were of Itachi and Kisame training or doing something lovingly. Sasuke started laughing when he saw a picture of all the guys in the Akatsuki shirtless with Itachi trying to hide behind Kisame. There was even a picture of Kisame and Kakuzu having an arm wrestling contest with Itachi and Hidan glaring at each other as if saying, "My boyfriend's going to win." Some pictures were drawn while others were actual photos.

Sasuke had to admit; the drawings were amazing, as were the photos. Where did his brother get all these? As if reading his mind, "He would drag me to Konoha with him to check up on you… He really did care for you, Sasuke," Kisame said.

"You should know that by now," Itachi said, coming into the room and wrapping his slender arms around Kisame's waist.

Sasuke actually smiled from where he sat on Itachi and Kisame's bed. "I do now, nii-san," Sasuke said.

"Maybe his innocence still remains," Itachi thought to himself. "It's just buried deep down like everyone else's."

I think this is probably my best writing so far. I personally love this one. The battle was taken straight out of the manga so I hope you like it.