"Ravaged by illness, painfully aware of his impending death... he forcefully prolonged his life with medication... All for his most beloved little brother."

.

Itachi coughed into his right hand, before pulling his hand back to see how much blood there was this time.

He sighed wiped his red speckled palm and coughed again before reaching into his cloak to find the pills the Akatsuki medic had prescribed. Popping two into his mouth he winced slightly at the bitter tang that followed.

He was almost glad this was almost over, Sasuke was coming for him, and in minutes he would be here, and then they would battle. If things went as planned, and if Sasuke had become as strong as Itachi was sure he was. Then this hellish nightmare could end.

Sometimes he wondered if all this was worth it. Was it worth it for balance to be restored? Was peace really achievable? Did he make the right decisions all those years ago? Was Sasuke going to be okay after this was over?

Life was about balance, this Itachi knew, light verses dark, dark verses light, good verses evil, evil verses good. But between these areas there is a hazy line, it is quite possible for someone who looks to be evil to be the opposite, and for someone who looks to be good, to be evil.

The problem was Itachi had tipped these scales of balance, and he had been steadily working to try and tip the balance back to where it should be. But that had taken nearly eight years and Itachi knew the sand in his hour glass was becoming thin.

If Sasuke didn't kill him like he planned, then Itachi would be dead within the next two months.

However that within its self was a problem, Itachi knew Madara had been plotting against him for as long as Itachi had been planning his own end, and as soon as he was gone Madara would strike. Itachi knew why Madara wanted Sasuke, it was because he was a blank slate and he be manipulated.

Like he could never manipulate Itachi, no matter how hard he tried.

Sasuke was smart, a genius in his own right, however he wasn't level headed and was prone to acting on pure emotion instead of clean logic. Itachi knew this and had often used it for his own advantage however this would easily play right into Madara's hands.

He needed to find a way to stop Madara before he even got to Sasuke.

He needed to protect his brother.

Itachi knew that he only had a few more moments and he needed an answer now. That's when it struck him, and he nearly hit himself over the head for being this blind. Amaterasu was the answer.

If he could seal it into Sasuke with the transcription seal then it would activate when Madara was within sight of Sasuke, and even though he doubted the flames would finish the old man off it may be enough that Sasuke could escape, before Madara could do any harm.

And hopefully Sasuke would return to Kohana. His home, both of their homes.

"Itachi."

"Yes Kisame?"

"Your brother and his team aren't too far away, however there still is time if you wish to leave."

"No, Kisame I won't leave, this ends here."

Kisame nodded, he hadn't expected Itachi to leave, but it was still worth a shot.

"Do you remember the plan?"

Kisame nodded, "yes, I am to hold back Sasuke's teammates letting him continue on to meet you."

"Good"

Kisame turned to leave and made it half way to the entrance before Itachi spoke "Kisame."

''yes Itachi?"

"Thank you for this, for helping, and for being a good partner."

Kisame nodded, and pretended he wasn't saying a final goodbye to the man who had become his best friend. "You're welcome Itachi; see you after this is over." Both knew it wouldn't happen, but the sentiment was still there.

Itachi watched Kisame walk out the door and out into the sunlight.

Itachi breathed in deeply before letting out a deep sigh. However he soon realized his mistake when he launched into a set of throaty coughs that had him bent over, his head nearly between his knees, wheezing and hacking for all his might. 'I will not die, not yet' slowly but surely he caught his breath and leaned back against the stone.

He raised a hand and brushed the sweat from his brow before sighing 'it won't be long now.'

He could sense his dear brother's chakra and he was taken aback by the sinister presence that lurked beneath, he hadn't expected Sasuke's chakra to be sunshine and rainbows but this feeling that came with the chakra. It was disgusting.

It was Orochimaru's.

Sasuke had absorbed Orochimaru, he never thought his brother would steep that low for power.

It sickened him to know that he was the cause of his dear little brother going to such drastic measures. Just like it had sickened him the day he learned Sasuke had deflected from Kohana, leaving behind teammates who would do anything for him.

He hoped Naruto, and Sakura did not give up on his brother, because if they did Itachi was sure Sasuke would be lost in the dark forever without their light, their will of fire, to guide him out.

Itachi realized this may be his last hours on this earth; he embraced the fact however that didn't mean he could just leave Sasuke with that despicable man inside him, whether it was Sasuke's choice to absorb Orochimaru or not, he couldn't risk Sasuke losing control and letting Orochimaru run amuck.

It was bad enough when Orochimaru was just a snake that dreamed of grander things, but with the Sharingan in his possession he could do serious damage, to Sasuke, to the leaf, and to the world.

The damned snake needed to be stopped at all costs.

But to do so he would have to bring Sasuke to the brink of chakra exhaustion, which would be tricky to do, because Itachi had to be very precise with his own chakra to leave enough to rid the world of the snake once and for all, while still being able to fight whatever Sasuke threw at him after that.

It was a tricky balance and one that was hard to determine without knowing the full extent of Sasuke's capacity.

But it didn't matter as long as that foul creature could do no harm to Kohana, or Sasuke, then all was well.

He could feel Sasuke getting nearer and he closed his eyes before starting to mentally tick the time away, the moments, the memories held close to the heart for these moments when he wanted to remember why he was doing this.

A little eight year old boy looking up at his brother with adoration in his eyes….

"Hey, Aniki that was awesome can you show me how to do that?"

Warm arms wrapped around him tight, and the smell of jasmine…

"Tachi-chan I know you anbu now, but I just want you to know you can always come to me, I'm still your mom, I always will be."

Feather light lips across his, and the feel of her fingers tangled in his hair…..

"I love you Itachi more than my own life."

A cousin and a lifelong best friend who died far too young….

"Itachi, a true shinobi is one who protects the village from within its own shadows, now let's go train I bet I can beat you!"

A warm hand on his back from when things where simpler

"Itachi, congratulations on making chunnin but then again you are my son."

He was doing this for his family that died, he was doing this for his brother, he was doing this for what he believed was right, he was doing this because his life for the lives of thousands was a fair trade and one that was supposed to happen.

He was doing this for Kohana, he was doing this for the dreams and ideals that he still held onto even though they where proved wrong time and time again. He was doing this because he had to and because it was the right thing to do.

He was doing this because Sasuke needed it. He needed his revenge for his piece of mind.

That was what he was thinking as he heard the footsteps come clanking inside and he snapped his eyes opened red light burning like the suns. It was beginning and Itachi took a deep breath and prepared himself.

"What do you see with that Sharingan of yours?"

Sasuke walked a step closer….

"What do I see?"

"With these eyes of mine, there's one thing I can see clearly…Itachi, I see your death."

And Itachi was surprised by the overwhelming relief that followed those words, Sasuke could do this Itachi was sure of that. He was so proud of him.

"My death?"

Well then…try to make it happen."

It had begun.

He stared at the blurry image that was his little brother "Forgive me Sasuke…it ends with this."

He smiled 'finally I can rest…Sasuke I'm sorry…..'

And in that moment Itachi Uchiha died, all the while smiling a small bloody smile.

-end-

A/n this is part of my Itachi Uchiha project over on deviantArt.

Peace out and may the force be with you,

Abby