a/n Full summary and author's note will be at the beginning of the next chapter.


Sasuke stood in an expansive field. It was strangely illuminated on all sides though there was no sun present. The grass all around him was an almost artificial shade of chartreuse, and though there was no breeze the field undulated in waves. Nearby, a creek idly gushed, creating a backdrop of static sound, and somewhere in the distance he heard doves murmuring, like a chorus of mourners. A peaceful but eerie scene.

It had been a long time since Sasuke had this particular reoccurring dream, and he was surprised at the detailed world he found himself in. He had been blind now for over ten years, and his dreams had faded in all that time from perfectly rendered pictures to darkness accompanied by muffled sound. That is, until now. His sight unnaturally restored in his dream, he found himself squinting in the brightness of the light.

Behind him he heard the sound of flapping wings, a rush of feathers, bringing darkness which quelled the light.

"Itachi," Sasuke muttered, even though his lips did not move.

Sasuke heard gentle laughter, echoing hollowly throughout the hillside and mingling with the noise of the rushing creek. It was an oddly liquid sound.

Sasuke continued speaking as he spun around to face his brother, "It's been...some time."

In fact, Sasuke could have sworn that it had been years since he had a lucid dream like this...and it had been just as many years since Itachi had come into his dreams. Some part of his mind, still awake despite his dreaming state, idly noted that the two phenomena seemed to be related. Sasuke again was amazed at the vivacity of the scene around him; as he faced his brother, he perceived how each line of Itachi's face seemed etched with a fine tipped pen, and drawn with ink as dark as a night without moon or stars.

Itachi nodded silently to Sasuke's greeting. His long black hair became unbound in that motion, and flowed around his head as if suspended in water; his locks formed arabesques that framed him like a dark halo. Itachi turned away from his brother and walked to the babbling creek with slow, deliberate strides, seeming almost to float over the rolling grass. He procured a silver bowl from the folds of his black cloak, then dipped the vessel into the creek. He returned to where Sasuke was standing with the same eerie floating quality to his stride, and held out the bowl full of clear water in front of Sasuke.

"Look," Itachi's voice rang like a hammer hitting hard metal, echoing painfully inside Sasuke's skull. As if transfixed, Sasuke edged closer to the bowl and peered inside-

The water swirled and flashed in the light's brilliance, silver shining like a thousand suns. Sasuke blinked- the light dissolved into thick, paste-like darkness, and he found himself standing on a murky steppe, barren save for small patches of brown grass and dried out thistles. In the center was a large pile of decaying corpses, putrescent, the forms of individual bodies indistinguishable from the greater mass of limbs protruding from the heap. From the wreckage emerged a spider the size of a small house; it began weaving a web around the carnage, a thick, gauze-like blanket that soon enshrouded the mound. When its work was done, the spider blinked a myriad of glassy eyes at once and looked up at Sasuke, its eyes and fangs gleaming metallically in the darkness.

The arachnid blinked again, then focused its multi-faceted gaze on Sasuke once more before it advanced towards him on its long, hairy legs. When it was only a breath away from Sasuke, the creature's dark eyes swirled with crimson and cadmium, whirling to reveal three dark commas on a field of blood, mirrored a thousand times in a thousand different eyes-

Suddenly, the space shifted again. Darkness dissolved back into light, and Sasuke found himself in the original, bright grassy clearing once more, his brother beside him. Itachi, birdlike, blinked down at his younger brother. The silver bowl was still in Itachi's hand, but now it was empty. Itachi threw it up into the air where it transformed into a field of crows, their cries filling the sky like falling snow. Then Itachi's body also dissolved into innumerable black wings, turning the bright clearing dark once more under the weight of black feathers...

And as the dream began to fade, and Sasuke returned to consciousness, Itachi's final words rang in his mind like an echo trapped in a deep canyon-

"He's coming..."

When Sasuke finally woke, blinking blindly at the sunlight streaming in through his window, he fought in vain to forget the darkness.