"So, does everyone here remember what day tomorrow is?" Uchiha Ikumi asked her three family members with an excited smile, as she placed a big bowl of rice on the dinner table, which they all sat at.
"… Tuesday?" Her oldest son Madara replied in a monotone and bored tone. He didn't even take his eyes of the bowl of meat he was currently eating from.
"No." Ikumi scoffed at him. Madara just shrugged uninterested in response. Ikumi then took her time and glanced around at her two other family members, who had remained quiet at her question. Her youngest son Izuna stared pointedly down at his dinner without moving a muscle, while her husband Shinji shared a "look" with Madara. "… Does honestly none of you remember what's special about tomorrow? Not even you Izuna?"
"… If he doesn't want to think about it, he doesn't have to." Shinji responded stiffly in his son's place.
"… So you are aware of what happens tomorrow?" Ikumi accused with narrowed eyes and a frown.
"Of course I do." Her husband scoffed annoyed. "I just don't think that it is fair to force him to face the day, before it is necessary."
"… Before it's necessary? It is necessary! It's tomorrow for kami's sake!" Ikumi growled deep and low in her throat. If she had been a beast of prey she would have barred her teeth, and if it wasn't because their children were present at the moment, she would have hit Shinji straight into the next week out of pure frustration. "He shouldn't be embarrassed about it; he should be proud! Tomorrow he'll have full respect from our clan members!"
"He already does! He was proclaimed a prodigy the day he was born, and he proved the assumption instantly!" Shinji retorted. He was close at being just as frustrated as his wife, who was always prideful and overly loyal to their clan. "All you care about is pride! How about considering his feelings about having to slaughter people at the insane young age of thirteen for once?"
"… How dare you!" Anyone outside of their actually blood related family would have shrunk and shivered at Ikumi's sneer, but the three of them were so used to it neither of them saw a reason to react. "Of course I care about his feelings! It's the reason why we attempted to convince the elders to let him wait yet another year, before joining the battlefield! Remember? Or have you already forgotten that?"
"Of course not!" The same could be said about her opponent. "I was the one of us who suggested convincing the elders to let him be as-much-of-a-child-as-it-is-possible-when-you-are-a-member-of-this-clan at least just another year as minimum!"
The younger members of the small family stayed silent as their parents fought. Izuna continued to stare at his untouched food and then at last pushed it away from himself in disgust. Madara, on the other hand, stared uninterested into the thin air, while chewing mechanically on whatever food he was unconsciously stuffing into his mouth whenever it became empty.
"… Let's get out of here." He then muttered to Izuna, who had almost bitten his lip to blood due to despair, when he finally grew bored of watching the all-too-familiar-show repeat itself for about the fortieth time the last few months.
Izuna could only nod all too eagerly, before following the older Uchiha outside.
Neither of them spoke as they walked down the corridors of the house and outside to their favourite training spot, which was the place where their parents taught them everything they knew throughout their childhood. They had no intention of training at the moment, though; Madara wordlessly sat down and leaned against one of many the poles of tree, while Izuna sat down beside him and then stared pointedly down at the ground with an aura of abandoned hope.
"… Dad is right, you know. All mother cares about are pride and being accepted by the elders." He then spoke quietly into the calm night air after a few minutes of contemplating silence between the two of them.
Madara glanced at him out from the corner of his left eye and then raised an eyebrow at Izuna's choice of term for their mother. Despite their clan's pride and the expectation of each member to be formal towards others, the two of them usually preferred to be "personal" with their parents, unlike so many other children of the clan, by using the terms "Mom" and "Dad". Sometimes Izuna even referred to them as "Mommy" and "Daddy", but it usually only happened the rare times he couldn't keep up a strong façade and felt compelled to allow his childish side to reach the surface.
"… You know just as well as me that it isn't true." He then retorted with a small frown, before sighing tiredly. "Dad always exaggerates when it comes to defending you, especially when fighting with mom."
"I know…" Izuna admitted with a small frown. "But it still feels like it sometimes…"
"I know… that feeling all too much, as well." Madara's eyes glanced over with water for second at distinct memories suddenly clouding his mind at the moment. He then glanced up at the sky and realized out from the many different colours that were currently painting the sky that it was about to get dark. "We better head back soon. Whether we like it or not, it can't be denied that it is indeed an important day tomorrow… Especially for you."
Izuna had to swallow a big lump of fear that had threatened to suffocate him once again, but he somehow managed to nod with a more or less expressionless face afterwards.
The peaceful walk back home seemed a great amount shorter than usual. Much shorter…
The rest of the evening, Izuna sweated and walked restlessly back and forth in his room, as he desperately attempted to calm down in hope of finding peace enough to fall asleep. He knew that it was necessary to be properly rested if were to have a chance of surviving the following day of bloodshed and horror. It was especially necessary since he hadn't been able to get a full night of sleep the last few weeks due to fear.
"Try to get some sleep. It might be the last time your dreams will be unaffected by war."
Those words had been Madara's last advice for him, before they each went to their own room in order to prepare themselves mentally for the upcoming battle.
With his brother's words repeating itself continuously in his mind, Izuna finally decided at some point in the middle of the night to lie down onto his bed on the floor, which his mother had prepared for him several hours ago that same evening, despite being everything else but tired. After several minutes of attempting to sleep by forcing his body to relax, and keep his eyes close despite the lack of exhaustion, he had to admit it didn't work; his head span, his body was restless, he could have sworn that he had a mild headache and felt slightly nauseous, but he wasn't going to whine about it; his Uchiha pride wouldn't allow him to.
Sighing out of pure frustration, he subconsciously curled into a ball and pulled his pillow into his arms, hugging it tightly in attempt to comfort his wrecking nerves. It didn't work as optimal as he had hoped; instead of calming down, he felt the urge to seek his brother's warmth and comfort even more than before.
It only took his sub consciousness another thirty seconds to convince his Uchiha pride to let go of its control and allow him to crawl to Madara's room; it figured that the older Uchiha presumably would allow him to act like a fragile and hysteric child that night without raising an eyebrow at him for once.
When he entered the room, Madara snapped out of the light sleep he had been in. It didn't surprise Izuna though; his brother hadn't been able to get a proper night of sleep for years, not since he became a warrior. Despite it being years ago, Izuna still remembered clearly his concern for him the first night, not that they had eased one bit through the years; the older Uchiha had been unusual quiet compared to his usual composed self, he had been staring into the thin air, despite whatever happened around him, and hadn't been to get any sleep that night due to open wounds and nightmares that left him screaming his throat dry.
When the older Uchiha reacted on his presence and looked up at him curiously, and yet knowingly, Izuna just shrugged weakly on his shoulders and then crawled down onto the bed beside Madara with the words:
"I couldn't sleep…"
Madara just nodded with an understanding frown in response, before lifting his duet enough for Izuna to crawl down underneath it. He even allowed the younger Uchiha to curl up into his side even though he knew it would affect his own chances for falling asleep.
More or less half an hour later, they both had to acknowledge that neither of them would get any sleep that night.
"… Have you ever blamed me for all this?" Madara suddenly decided to ask Izuna without looking at him; he just continued staring into the ceiling above them with his arms behind his head.
"Blame you for what…?" His younger brother asked confused, while glancing up him through tired eyes.
"For the fact that you have to start being a warrior already at the age of thirteen. It's all because of my instant success at the battlefield after all…"
"Oh… right." Was all Izuna managed to get past his lips due to bewilderment. He did know, though, what his answer to his brother's question was and always would be: "But no… I could never blame you for something like that. It's not your fault that you're talented after all… I'm just proud of being able to call myself your brother."
Madara didn't respond, but Izuna didn't mind at all, because he knew anyways that he had touched a special spot inside him.
Neither of them said another word as they waited for the upcoming sunrise. When the morning finally arrived, neither of them had as figured barely closed an eye, but they didn't really mind at the moment; they had managed to spend another few hours of time together before Izuna's mind would slowly start to shatter throughout the following tough years known as being a warrior and of service to the clan.
Later that morning, Izuna bit his lip and attempted to fight back the tears that threatened to fall due to anxiety, as he struggled to adjust his uniform that was currently misfit.
He hadn't exactly succeeded with either of the mentioned, when Madara found him more or less ten minutes later. His first reaction was to order the younger Uchiha to pull himself together and get ready, before their mother would appear and scowl him for being unprepared, but when seeing his tear stained face and bloody lip, he instantly changed strategy and therefore instead began adjusting the uniform Izuna's was wearing with gentle hands and somehow easily managed to fulfil the younger Uchiha's work.
"It's extremely important it sits properly in case it becomes necessary to have it…" Madara soothed in a collected voice, when his brother attempted to hide his shame at failing at something as easy as adjusting an uniform. Izuna just bit his lip once again in response. "Don't worry; you have no particular reason to fret. You're still so young and small of age that you won't be an actual target, so they have no reason to focus on you, unless you give them a reason to."
Izuna nodded shortly in response to show him that he understood perfectly.
"… But should someone, despite the tiny chances of it, decide to attack you, you use everything you have learned throughout your life against him to get away. Don't fight him; just run for safety. Got it?"
This time Izuna had to swallow back a sob, as he fought to fight back the tears that yet again threatened to escape, but he somehow manage to nod afterwards to his own surprise.
"Good." Madara's authoritative voice almost cracked after pronouncing the syllable. He then took a few steps back from Izuna to inspect his "work", and then pulled the fragile young man into a one-armed-hug, which Izuna returned just as desperately. "You'll be just fine..." Madara whispered near his ear. "I'll make sure of it."
Izuna didn't manage to make any kind of sound this time, despite wanting to. Instead he hugged his older brother tighter. Madara returned the hug at first, but then pulled away to straighten his back and appear authoritative in order to ease his brother's bad nerves.
"Now, put on your brave façade and make the elders proud just as you were born and raised to do."
"U-un…" Izuna thought that he had managed to get the most emotional feelings under control, but his voice cracked as he realized the seriousness of his brother's words. "I mean… 'Hn'."
Madara hugged him one last time, securely, and then opened the door in the room that lead to the garden belonging to their parents' property.
Izuna nodded in confirmation, before turning around and glancing at the unfamiliar and professional person that stared back at him with an obvious attempt at being determined, but despite of it seemed to fail miserably at it.
"I can do this…" He murmured to himself with closed eyes, when realizing the person in the mirror was him. He then took a deep breath and forced himself to lock up his emotional side, before grabbing his favourite sword, placing it in the holster on his uniform, and then followed his brother outside into the new chapter of his life.
To everyone's assumption, Izuna not only survived the battle but also managed to take a great part of it by coping his brother's survival techniques and by staying behind said relative. And to his misery, Madara's suspicion about the night before had being the last time he would ever get a night of sleep without having at least one nightmare, was confirmed.
That night he woke up screaming his throat dry. Without considering it once, he sat up and then ran to his older brother's room in hope of comfort. It took several weeks afterwards before his parents managed to convince him to attempt sleeping in his own room again.
But he had survived the first time out of following countless battles and that was what counted the most to everyone, well, at least to his family.
Please review! I'm exceptionally curious about what you wonderful readers and reviewers of mine have of thoughts on this one! X3