"I hate him…"Izuna mumbled once he had woken up the next day after the fight. "I hate him so much…"

"So do I." Itachi agreed, sitting beside his cousin. "He's always been like it. I don't know what kaa-san ever saw in him…"

"Poor little Sasuke was so scared…" Izuna turned sad eyes upon his fellow Uchiha. He gripped the bed sheets tightly in his hand and looked around the small bedroom.

"Well, he's only a boy. He should be used to it, in my own opinion. I got used to the fights before I was Sasuke's age."

Izuna mumbled something and rolled over onto his side, placing his head back on the velvety pillow and stared at the wall. "…"

Itachi knew not to push Izuna, so he remained silent. He didn't want to leave his cousin's side and instead busied himself with tidying up Izuna's bedroom.

Izuna ignored the younger boy and instead closed his eyes, thinking about his brother and that day at the prison. He soon enough fell into a troubled sleep, dreaming about Madara's abuse.

-XX-

Days later, cops showed up at Izuna's home.

Izuna was confused at first when the police explained that he needed to make a court appearance, but the situation quickly explained itself – the police wanted Izuna's help to put his brother away.

"No," Izuna had spat with tears in his eyes. "Not a chance. I've seen what you all do to my brother… You just want to keep him so he can be your little fuck-toy!"

One of the officers narrowed his eyes at Izuna.

"Listen here, you little shit," he snarled. "Your brother deserves his treatment. He's a whore so he'll be used to it! He just needs to adjust to a new environment!"

"Don't speak about my aniki like that!" Izuna screamed. "He's not a whore! He only wanted the pain to stop! I hate you!"

"Brat! Whether or not you show up, your brother is most likely going to rot in jail! I hope he does!"

"No!" Izuna screamed again. "Go away! I hate you! I hate you!"

With that said, Izuna had fled from the living room, running to his bed to cry into the pillows once more.

-XX-

Just a month later, Izuna had found himself sitting in a courtroom, sobbing softly as the guards brought in a very confused and frightened Madara.

"Aniki…" Izuna whimpered, tearing up at the sight of his brother.

Madara was looking around the room, terror on his face. His eyes were wide and tearful, his mouth hanging open as the male shook violently and he kept stumbling over his own steps. He soon enough caught sight of Izuna and that was when all hell broke loose – Madara was screaming for Izuna and kept trying to approach him, but the guards who were escorting him refused to allow them anywhere near each other and kept pulling Madara away with carelessness.

"Aniki…" Izuna sobbed as Madara reached out to him from halfway across the courtroom, grasping desperately at thin air.

"Izuna!" Madara screamed. "Izuna, I'm sorry! I'm so sorry! Please stop this! Please!"

As much as Izuna wanted to help, he knew that he couldn't do a thing. The second the judge had entered the room, that fact was made clear as day – this was a judge who had never put up with nonsense of any kind in her courtroom. In a way, she reminded Izuna of Judge Judy.

-XX-

"Do you honestly think that your brother deserves to be in jail?" The judge had asked Izuna gently, trying to be kind with him – she must've felt sorry for the boy. She was speaking to Izuna over a closed-circuit TV.

Izuna shook his head, wiping at his eyes. "No…"

"We have so many reports from the hospital regarding your admittance, Izuna. All of them were for serious causes. You can't deny that at least half of those visits are because of your brother – not only that, but the majority of your visits to hospital had clearly been delayed by days – even when you needed immediate help. It's not just this, but the drugs are making everything worse. He's been accused of being a neglectful drug addict. Why would you say that he shouldn't go to jail?"

"…" Izuna choked on a sob. "…He's my brother… And I love him… And I know that he loves me, too… And aniki… Aniki is the most loving, kind person, but… He suffered so much inside that he had lost himself…"

"He has a point, Your Honour." Izuna heard the man they called Kakashi speaking. "I would like to back up Izuna's statement with notes that had been taken during a psychological evaluation. I've found…"

Izuna didn't stay around to listen to the grey-haired man – he quickly explained to the police officer with him that he just couldn't do it, and with that said, the boy fled. Izuna didn't want to know about whatever was going to happen further in that room.

-XX-

Only half-an-hour later, the doors to the courtroom opened and Izuna looked up from the seat across the hall. He had wandered aimlessly after leaving the room he was being interviewed in and soon enough found himself sitting outside the courtroom.

The police officer that had been with him was standing several feet away, keeping a close eye on the boy.

Izuna's heart stopped when he saw his brother walking out without handcuffs and the only person who was with him was Mikoto. The woman had a hand on his shoulder, speaking to him softly as they stopped by the courtroom doors.

Madara's face was red from crying and he seemed disbelieving when, only seconds later, he saw his little brother staring at them from across the hall. Without hesitation, Madara ran to Izuna and pulled him into a tight hug. He cried into Izuna's shoulder, whimpering.

Izuna hugged back – with uncertainty. He wondered whether or not Madara was free and glanced over at his aunt who was still standing away from them.

"Aniki…" Izuna whispered.

"Izuna, I love you…" Madara whispered back. "I'm so sorry… Please forgive me…"

"I know… I know… I love you, too…"

"I'm free… I'm finally free… They let me go… Probation…"

Izuna couldn't help but break down in his brother's arms.

-XX-

Two days had passed since the court day and Madara had moved in with his aunt and uncle. Mikoto loved Madara just as much as Izuna and her own children, but Fugaku didn't even try and hide his hate for the younger Uchiha like he did with Izuna – he loved to show Madara just how unwelcome he was in the home.

Fugaku had taken to locking Madara out of the house and refusing the younger meals. He had even shouted at Madara to get out of his home and go live out on the streets with all of his 'drug addict friends'. The worst was when Fugaku had shoved Madara down the flight of stairs, hoping for the long-haired male to break his neck.

But as they all sat around the dinner table once more that night, Fugaku was quieter than usual. Madara was speaking to Sasuke happily, oblivious to Fugaku's red face and quivering body. The only one who seemed to notice this was Itachi – his eyes narrowed at his father and he shook his head, almost as if he were warning his father about something.

"Aniki," Izuna called softly, also unaware of the danger, "May I join the conversation?"

Madara smiled. "Of course, baby brother."

Fugaku's eye twitched. "…"

Itachi stood up, clearly not wanting to chance the danger. "Tou-san, I know what you are thinking, and if you dare attempt it, you know that you'll need to get through me first."

Fugaku growled under his breath before getting to his own feet. The speed in which he had arrived at Madara and Sasuke's side was almost unbelievable.

Izuna screamed as Fugaku begun beating both Madara and Sasuke, but just like last time it was Itachi who came to the rescue.

Fists and feet flew everywhere has Itachi managed to push Fugaku away from his family. Fugaku was on the ground, struggling to push his son off him, but Itachi had too great a grip, pounding away into the older male's face powerfully. Blood was everywhere, and before anyone could realise it, Itachi's entire fist was covered in Fugaku's blood.

"Fugaku!" Mikoto screamed, running to Itachi in an attempt to pull him away. "Fugaku – Itachi, stop!"

The only thing that Izuna could think to do amidst the chaos was to grab the phone and call the police – he couldn't bear to watch as his brother sat, crouched on the ground, protectively holding Sasuke in his grip in an attempt to shield the youngest boy from all of the violence.

-XX-

"How is he feeling, Izuna-kun?" Mikoto stepped into the bedroom that Izuna and Madara were currently sharing a few hours later. The woman was mindful of the way Fugaku had punched into the now-frail Madara, worried for his health.

Izuna looked down at his sleeping brother, twirling some of the elder's charcoal-black locks in his hand.

"He's sleeping…" Izuna said softly. "How are Sasuke and Itachi?"

"They are fine – just glad that Fugaku won't be coming home. I have organised some help for your brother, so will you tell him once he feels better?"

Izuna bit his lip and nodded – he hated the thought of his brother needing help but he knew that it was for the best; Madara was so much better, but was still recovering.

"Mikoto-oba-san…?" Izuna called softly as his aunty had turned to leave the room.

"Yes, baby?" She turned back and smiled at her nephew.

Izuna ducked his head and smiled back. "Thank you… for loving us…"

"It's okay," Mikoto beamed. "Have a good rest. Love you both."

"We will. Love you, too. Goodnight, oba-san."

"Goodnight, sweetness."

-XX-

The next morning, when Izuna had woken up, he found that he was all alone in the bed. He briefly wondered how his brother was doing from that night before and climbed out of the bed. He made his way out to the kitchen and was surprised to find that Mikoto was the only one in there and that his brother was nowhere in sight.

"Good morning, Izuna-kun!" Mikoto smiled. "How did you sleep?"

"Good." Izuna grinned. "Have you seen my brother?"

"Yes, he just left before you came down."

"I see." He smiled. "Where did he go?"

"A meeting, of course. He loves you so much that when I told him what I had done for him, he agreed to go almost immediately."

"That's great!" Izuna exclaimed. "When will he be home?"

"This afternoon. Would you like any breakfast?"

Izuna nodded. 'Thank you."

"You're welcome, love."

-XX-

It had been many long, hard months, but together, they had all managed to pull through. Madara no longer had anything to do with drugs and had been able to repair his relationship with Izuna – even though there were still some parts that needed to be resolved.

Izuna was overjoyed at having his beloved brother back again within arm's reach and had fought through his depression, desperate to spend as much time with his newly-recovered brother as was possible.

One of the best things that Mikoto had been able to do for the boys was reclaim their home from repossession, having paid thousands of dollars out of her own bank account – but, as Mikoto claimed, there was a hell of a lot more from where that money had come from.

Fugaku had been killed during a prison riot, but no one seemed to care; if anything, it brought relief and happiness to the entire family – especially Sasuke and Itachi, they were so much happier in their lives and had moved on almost instantly after the news.

And now, as Izuna and Madara stood outside their old home once more with bags in their hands, Izuna was just glad that no matter what, he hadn't given up, because this was exactly what he had always wanted – his old brother back, and a family that loved him.

Izuna knew – even though there would still be hardships between him and Madara – that things couldn't possibly have been any better than they were right now. He grabbed his brother's hand and, together, they walked the short walk to their home, ready to start anew with their lives and move on from the past.

A very cute ending, and I enjoy how you left it 'open to interpretation'. It was realistic. Great job!