Do not fear fate, and you will never fear at all.

It was a dismal, dreary afternoon, but the overcast skies did nothing to diminish the excitement from high-schoolers when the bell rang to signify the end of the school day. Today was the start of spring break, and that only added to the energy bouncing around. Many were jogging across the school grounds to the buses, while others were traipsing along in giggling packs to their cars or to walk home. Sasuke watched the stampede from beneath the safety of an old oak tree, one of a few on the campus grounds, where he was waiting with a few friends for their respective rides to pick them up. Sasuke tended to hitch a ride from a friend, but sometimes his older brother had an afternoon off and would pick him up. Sasuke curled his lip with disdain, having come to dread the extra time he'd have to spend around Itachi.

That thought alone made guilt rise in Sasuke's chest. It wasn't that he and Itachi had a poor relationship; on the contrary, they'd always had a strong one. They were closer than most siblings were, considering that Itachi had all but raised Sasuke on his own for most of their lives. When they were children, their parents had gotten into a fatal car accident that left them both dead. Itachi had been thirteen years old, Sasuke eight. They had little other family, and none that they were too close with, and despite his young age Itachi had taken it upon himself to take care of Sasuke. Their closest relative, a man called Madara, had paid for their expenses until Itachi graduated high school and took on work of his own.

Their family had run a lucrative business, and it'd been Itachi's destiny to overtake it once he became of age. Sasuke thought it lucky that no one else in their family had tried to steal the rights away, or tried to send him and Itachi to some distant boarding school to get rid of them. Itachi had, without complaint, kept their household together, and even now he continued supporting Sasuke until the younger graduated. Itachi wanted Sasuke to attend university, and he might, sometime. Sasuke's plans for now, though, were to work for a while, to build some savings (that he had earned on his own, not Itachi) and experience. He felt he owed his brother, and he'd rather be able to help pay his own way through school. Itachi had done so much for Sasuke as things were, providing for him and being the one constant in Sasuke's life that he could trust and who loved him unconditionally.

So, no, it wasn't that he had a strained relationship with Itachi. In fact, it was the opposite, and so obscenely out of reach of simple resolve. Had it been something as fixable as a distant brother, Sasuke would feel relieved. Instead, he had to wonder if he was going insane. He might've done that a long time ago, because if nothing else, he was definitely sick in a twisted way. If anyone ever found out about Sasuke's secret (something he'd clutched to his heart for months, now) they would send him away, lock him up, no one would ever hear from him again.

Sasuke's shoulders sagged in defeat at the thought. He'd deserve that, probably even worse than that. He had no idea where everything had gone wrong, or when he'd first started developing such salacious, forbidden feelings. How could anyone else imagine what it was like waking up after having a filthy dream of your own brother? Sasuke could hardly even look Itachi in the eye, anymore. Instead of spending much time with Itachi, Sasuke spent most of his free time out, either studying, working on projects and extra credit at school, or doing something with friends. Whenever he did have to be at home, Sasuke tended to favor the privacy of his room.

He knew it baffled Itachi, but it wasn't like Sasuke could give him any answers about the sudden changes. That would destroy their relationship and would put Sasuke out on the streets. He'd be lucky if Itachi didn't spread it from one end of the country to the next. Sasuke would have to walk in front of a speeding car, and that was already a tempting thought, now!

A cool breeze blew across the school grounds then, mussing Sasuke's dark hair and distracting him from his self-hate. The campus was clearing a bit now that the bus-riders had loaded into their yellow death traps, so at least it was a bit quieter while Sasuke waited for his ride to show up. When Itachi had messaged Sasuke to say he was going to pick him up due to the poor weather, Sasuke should have rejected the offer. Instead, like an idiot, he'd agreed. Well, it might be good for his self-control, if he could gain some.

To Sasuke's left, he could hear Naruto bickering with Kiba. Not that Sasuke cared enough to listen to what the scuffle started over, but he cared enough to get out of the way when the shoving started. He didn't feel like getting knocked into the wet grass, and then forced to kill both classmates. Kiba was about the same height and build as Naruto was, but unlike the blond, Kiba wasn't a skilled martial artist. He was soon face down in the dirt with Naruto snickering above him, all too smug. Sasuke rolled his eyes, he could remember a time it was Naruto who was getting knocked around, back when they were little. That had stopped after Naruto proved himself to be a skilled fighter after a summer of classes, of which he still took. Also, after he shot to be well over six feet tall—fucking asshole.

A feminine, husky laugh broke out and pulled the three boys' attention towards a blue Toyota, where a female driver sat snickering. Kiba's older sister, Hana, never missed a chance to mock him. Leaning closer to her open window, Hana called out to the group. "Oi, little brother! Aren't you sick of getting your ass handed to you?" she cackled again after she'd finished talking. Naruto was snickering himself as he helped Kiba up, who was muddy and disgruntled as he stormed off to his ride. Too bad for him that, when he got there, Hana locked the doors on him. She sat cackling in the driver's seat while Kiba jiggled the door handle violently.

"Let me in, Hana! It's gonna start pourin' rain soon!" Kiba snapped, starting to bang on the window that she'd closed. Hana offered him a sweet smile as she shrugged her shoulders, the picture of innocence. Kiba wasn't half as amused, he raised his fist and reared back, bluffing a punch to Hana's car window.

That got her. Her eyes flew wide and she scrambled to unlock the car, all the while shouting, "don't you dare, you ever break my car and I'll run you over!"

Kiba threw his bag in before climbing in himself. "Bring it, I know how to pick the lock to your room! Try me and I'll ruin you!" The two's childish bickering continued until they were well out of earshot, leaving Naruto and Sasuke alone. There were a few stragglers around them, but by then, most people had either gotten picked up or gotten to where they needed to be. Naruto turned to Sasuke then, with a curious cock of his head that almost made Sasuke groan aloud.

"Oi, is your brother coming to get you?" Naruto began, and oh, here it came, "I haven't seen you two together a lot." Naruto leaned so that his back was to the tree, watching Sasuke as he waited on an answer. "What's been up, you two used to be attached at the hip. Did Itachi screw up or something?"

That made Sasuke bristle. "No," he answered, keeping it laconic. The less Naruto knew, the better. With his arms crossed and his head turned away from Naruto, he'd hoped it might deter his best friend from pursuing the topic, but Naruto was as oblivious as ever.

"That only answered, like, point five of my questions. What's wrong? Something's been eating at you, and it's not your usual prissy attitude problem," Naruto snarked. He knew how to get under Sasuke's skin, and considering how frayed the boy's nerves already were, both from his troubles at home and the copious amounts of stress from school, Naruto had stepped onto thin ice.

Turning on Naruto, Sasuke narrowed his eyes to scowl. "I don't remember asking your opinion—and even if I had, it's not worth anything," Sasuke grumbled, finishing off with an indignant lift of his chin.

Naruto huffed and stood, pointing a finger in Sasuke's chest. "So now you're taking it out on me? What's next, you gonna start ignoring me, too?" Naruto asked, and though Sasuke could see a fight brewing, he didn't back away. Neither of them ever took the first step back, they'd been toe to toe since they were little.

Sasuke scrunched his nose, itching to shove Naruto away from him. "You don't know anything, so quit acting like you do," he snapped. "I don't have to explain myself to you, usuratonkachi. When did you become my keeper?" More than that, why was Naruto deciding to be so observant now, of all times? Did he waste all his energy scrutinizing his friends instead of paying attention in fucking class?

Naruto started a rebuttal, but as he got out the first syllable, he happened to glance over Sasuke's shoulder. His expression shifted into one of surprise. "Speak of the devil, eh, Sasuke?"

Sasuke felt a chill shoot down his spine. With dread, he glanced behind him to see what Naruto was talking about, though he already had a good idea. Much to Sasuke's chagrin, he watched as Itachi got out of the car and headed towards them. Turning back around, Sasuke steeled himself and could only hope Itachi would spit a quick greeting to Naruto. Naruto was grinning, however, dwindling Sasuke's hope a bit. "Itachi-san, it's been a while!" the blond exclaimed.

"Naruto," Itachi said, the low, velvety tone of his voice immediately sent a shiver coursing through Sasuke. He tried not to look too tense when Itachi came to stand beside him, but that might've been futile. "I trust you've been well? You must be looking forward to the break," Itachi gave a small smile, "I know Sasuke is."

Well, it was hard not to look forward to leaving the shallow, stringent, stuffy construct known as high school. Sasuke and Naruto were lucky it was their last year. From behind the group, Sasuke heard a car horn honk. He and Itachi both looked up to see Naruto's older brother, Kurama, had arrived to get his younger brother, likely after a mix of bribing and threatening from said younger brother. Naruto's motorcycle had been having problems lately that Naruto hadn't gotten around to fixing, so he'd been relying on his friends and his brother to get to and from school or work. Kurama wasn't a fan of the current set-up, but Naruto wasn't fond of it either, as evidenced by the way he completely ignored the car horn.

"Hell yeah we are," Naruto smirked. "This is the last real break we're gonna get! I know college has breaks, but they're gonna involve a lot more studying and projects. Speaking of studying," Naruto turned his smirk into an innocent smile aimed at Sasuke, who only looked unimpressed in return. "I need to borrow your calculus notes or else I'll fail the exams after break."

Of course, Sasuke rolled his eyes at his friend's plight. "Do your own work, idiot," he grumbled, but it was mostly for decoration, considering he'd been helping Naruto with schoolwork and studying since forever.

Naruto slouched in an overdramatic display of disappointment. "Come on, teme! If I fail then I won't graduate, then how can I get a better job? I'll end up homeless! You'll have to take me in!" Naruto clasped Sasuke's shoulders and gave the Uchiha a little shake, as if that would somehow encourage him to give Naruto what he wanted. Sasuke could hear his brother trying to cover a snicker, and he wanted to point out that Itachi should have been on his brother's side, not Naruto's.

"All right, all right, knock it off before you give me a concussion!" Sasuke snapped, shoving Naruto off his person. He reached for his satchel and pulled out his math journal, full of pristine notes that Sasuke took almost entirely for Naruto's sake. Sasuke himself had perfect grades and a near eidetic memory, he did study, but by now he'd already memorized most of what he needed for the exams. The rest he had at home, along with the other subjects, because why wouldn't students need to study for six exams taken in the span of one to two days?

Naruto grinned and took the notes, giving Sasuke a hug after. "Thanks, I'll be sure to cite you as "best teacher" in my speech," Naruto promised. From behind them, Kurama honked the horn again, longer this time. Sasuke winced at the loud noise.

"Your brother is getting angry, Naruto," Itachi warned the younger man, who didn't appear too worried.

"He can wait," Naruto dismissed. "What do you two have planned for the break? Kurama wants to go up to Suna with his girlfriend, me and Sakura might tag along." Suna was famous for its warm, clean beaches. Sasuke wasn't a fan of them. Besides, he had too much work to do. This was less of a break for him and more of a chance to catch up on AP work, his volunteer projects in the clubs he was (reluctantly) a part of, and preparing to graduate. Itachi seemed to stiffen a little beside Sasuke, and the younger felt a touch of guilt. He'd been avoiding Itachi so much that they'd spent almost no time together over the past year, and although it hurt Sasuke as much, it must've been harder on Itachi, who had no idea why his brother was avoiding him. Sasuke was being selfish.

Careful with the topic, Itachi steered around it. "We're both rather busy, but I'm sure we'll find something to do, should we even find extra time." The older man rested a hand on Sasuke's shoulder, and it took a lot of effort to not flinch away from the warm, strong palm that squeezed his shoulder. Naruto cut his eyes towards Sasuke with no lack of suspicion.

Correction, Sasuke was being a complete asshole.

Right as the blond may have been about to say something else, Kurama's last thread of patience seemed to snap. He'd rolled the window down and was now shouting at Naruto, "get in this damn car before I leave you out here to drown in the storm!"

That was a threat Sasuke didn't doubt Kurama would go through with. Naruto huffed an exasperated noise and flipped his older brother the bird—suddenly, Sasuke thought that he was lucky to have Itachi, who was far calmer and less violent than Kurama.

Kurama swore and shoved the driver's side door open, as if intending on coming to get Naruto himself, and that was what got Naruto moving. "Shit," Naruto mumbled, hurrying to stuff the notes into his bag before Kurama could get out and come to kill him. "I'll see you soon teme, try to do something fun instead of working yourself into an early grave, right? Bye!" Naruto waved at the Uchiha brothers over his shoulder as he jogged towards his brother's car. Kurama, once Naruto had started towards him, sat back in his seat, and shut the door. Sasuke couldn't hear it, but it was obvious that the two were getting into a heated argument as the car peeled out of the lot, all while Naruto was still wrestling to get his seatbelt on.

Sasuke shook his head at the raucous display, too distracted by it to notice Itachi's gaze focused on him. Itachi watched Sasuke, who only reached his shoulder in height, drinking in the tightness in Sasuke's jaw and the rigid way the boy stood, as if uncomfortable. It appeared like more than that to Itachi, who was too experienced in picking apart body language to brush off Sasuke's odd behaviors. To Itachi, it reminded him of someone trying desperately to hide something.

From above, a clap of thunder shattered the sky, causing Sasuke to jump a bit. Clutching his bag closer to himself, he inhaled a sharp breath. He guessed he'd wasted all his hopefulness earlier, because the hope that the storm would disappear or only bring a little rain had just gotten dashed. Another clap of thunder boomed overhead, solidifying the panic welling in Sasuke's chest. Storms were the one thing that terrified Sasuke—his therapist had called it astraphobia, once. Sasuke had never liked the loudness or unpredictability of storms, but after the night of his parents' deaths, where it had been violently storming the entire night, it had burgeoned into a true fear. Sasuke had worked hard on getting it under control, and he managed quite decently, but that didn't mean it had vanished.

A reassuring touch against Sasuke's back broke him from his brief reverie, and he started, snapping his gaze up towards Itachi. "Come on, we need to leave before the downpour," Itachi said.

Sasuke wasn't about to argue, but before the two could head off, a cool voice interrupted their departure. "Good afternoon boys, I hope you enjoy the school break," it said. Sasuke felt discomfort bubble in his stomach just hearing the hissing tone, and he had to force himself to turn and acknowledge the biology and anthropology teacher. Orochimaru smirked at the younger, a sly expression that never failed to make Sasuke want to sneer in return. Orochimaru wasn't someone to trifle with, nor was he someone Sasuke trusted. He was an excellent teacher, but he was also cunning and manipulative, and he made Sasuke beyond uncomfortable. Orochimaru favored the Uchiha, and had since the boy was hardly a teenager. The focus and attention was most unwelcome.

Itachi didn't care for Orochimaru in the least, either. He tightened his hand on Sasuke's shoulder and pushed him towards the car, indicating Sasuke keep moving. "Thank you, professor, we'll be sure to. You do the same." Itachi's curt response made Orochimaru smirk. He considered Itachi an obstacle more than anything, something to overcome if he wanted to push closer to Sasuke. Sasuke still didn't understand, but he'd decided a while ago that Orochimaru wasn't a man easily understood.

The older man appeared to consider saying something else, but a cold look from Itachi made him think better of that. "We'll be taking our leave, Orochimaru," Itachi said, then proceeded to face forward and all but lead Sasuke towards their car. Sasuke's eyebrows shot up in surprise hearing Itachi's firm, cool tone. It was always a shock remembering Itachi, usually so calm, could get angry, too. The frigid attitude wasn't unfamiliar, Itachi had always kept a wary distance from Orochimaru, both while he was in school and while Sasuke was. It was rare to see Itachi be anything other than respectful and upstanding, thus Sasuke knew there was a reason for the tension between his brother and Orochimaru. He just lacked the courage to ask.

Mere seconds after the pair had gotten into their car, it began to sprinkle, fat droplets spattered across the windows. Itachi exhaled a long sigh, flipped the windshield wipers on, and pulled out of the lot. Out of the corners of his eyes, he would glance at Sasuke, who was sitting with his arms crossed and his head leaning against the window. His leg was bouncing up and down, creating a soft thumping sound until the rain began to come down harder and drowned it out.

"Is Kisame going to be around over break?" Sasuke asked, not facing Itachi. Itachi had a select few friends that he'd kept throughout his school years, some he'd known longer and others that had joined the little group in middle or high school. Sasuke couldn't say he disliked (most) of them, and Kisame had been beside the family for as long as he could remember. That may be why Sasuke had to ask about him.

Itachi cocked a brow at the question, but withheld any curious comments. "I don't believe so," he said, "Kisame has some out of town business to take care of, it'll be mostly us."

Sasuke scrunched his nose a bit. "I'm impressed he can spend that long away from you." No, Sasuke wasn't a petty person. He really wasn't. Itachi chuckled all the same, as if he'd somehow heard Sasuke's internal monologue. He had always read Sasuke like an open book, even when everyone else treated him like a locked box. Itachi must've been the only one with the key.

A sudden burst of lighting streaked across the sky, illuminating the dark clouds and street. Sasuke's heart leaped into his throat and he flinched away from the window, his eyes wide and his breath hitching as he waited for the thunder. It followed a beat later, it was loud and monstrous even from the safety of the car. The car felt too small, now, with the adrenaline that had scored through Sasuke's veins. His body always wanted to outrun the storm, even as a child; it was either hiding or outrunning it. Everything else, Sasuke had crashed headfirst into. This was not something he could overcome, he didn't think he ever would.

Sasuke felt a small weight rest against his leg, and it pulled him from the dread setting in. He cut his eyes down, where Itachi's palm clasped his thigh, and relaxed a bit at the reassurance. At least he wasn't alone. He'd always have that much, at least, right? Sasuke had to face out of the window again when that idea popped into his head. The glistening, pear-shaped water drops slid down the clear glass in thin rivers. It reminded Sasuke of a different night, when all he had to stare at was rain against window panes to avoid looking at the grim faces of police officers.

For a boy of eight, Sasuke had never felt small. He had always felt powerful, brave, and full of love for his family, who believed in and encouraged him in every aspect. Tonight, though, Sasuke didn't feel any of those things. He felt tiny, insignificant and forgotten. The entire world outside still buzzed on, cars still drove by, and lights from the city were on in the far distance. But, Sasuke's world had crashed to a halting stop, and he didn't want it to start moving again. He didn't want to go forward without his mother, without his father.

It wasn't fair that the whole world moved on when they wouldn't get to.

Outside, a few police officers stood speaking with the one family member who lived anywhere nearby. Madara wasn't close with the boys, but he was family, and he'd agree to overlook things for them. Sasuke was inside, he couldn't stand to look at the ashen officers or his pitying uncle. He didn't want to think about the scene the officers had witnessed, or look at the expressions, either stern and pinched or soft and worried. Both upset Sasuke. So, he sat huddled inside, hiding. His hands clapped over his ears, blocking out the voices outside that had begun to mingle with the cacophony of thunder and rain that thrashed against the windows. Sasuke was sure he would soon go deaf. That would be better than this. He wanted it all to stop, before it suffocated him! He couldn't breathe anymore! His petite frame shook with fierce tremors, unable to contain all his pain. He would never get those words out of his head.

"Uchiha-san, I'm sorry to tell you this, but there's been an accident." The police woman herself had looked wounded, as if her pain came anywhere close to measuring to Sasuke's own, or to Itachi's.

Itachi had been out with Madara for some time now. At least, Sasuke assumed as much. He'd run from the scene a couple of hours ago. Had it been that long? Or had it somehow been shorter? Sasuke's perception of time had gotten skewed, all he wanted was for this night to end, or to even reverse itself. He'd read fairy tales of time traveling, why couldn't he do it? It was even an emergency, couldn't there be exceptions for emergencies?

What was going to happen to him and Itachi now that their parents were gone? Was Madara going to make them move in with him, would they lose their home too? Sasuke choked back a small sob. Losing anything else felt too unbearable. With his little hands clapped over his ears, Sasuke didn't hear the door open, nor did he hear it gently shut a few seconds later. Quiet footsteps padded towards where Sasuke sat, stowed away, and huddled up. "Oh, Sasuke," Itachi murmured.

Sasuke heard the words, though they were muffled, and he jerked his head back to look up at Itachi. The familiar sight of his older brother's face was blurry, and Sasuke tried to blink his tears away, but it only grew less focused. Itachi's cheeks were wet as well, but he looked so calm, so held together, he didn't look anywhere near thirteen years old. Itachi felt a pang in his chest, the nth one of the night, watching his brother fall apart and feeling helpless to fix it. Itachi couldn't fix it, this time. So, he sat in front of Sasuke, and held out his arms to gather the younger boy in an embrace. "It will be all right, Otouto. We'll work it out with Madara-san," Itachi swallowed, "we still have each other…I promise that won't change."

They only had each other now, and they were the only safe place the other now had.

Sasuke had gotten so lost in his reluctant venture into that memory that he didn't even notice the car stop. It took Itachi nudging him to snap Sasuke back into attention. By now, the rain was coming down in sheets, and Sasuke wasn't about to get any more soaked than he had to. Deciding to leave his bag in the car, he took a deep breath, opened his door, and ran for it. Itachi blinked once the door slammed shut, and he had to sit back and watch Sasuke dart through the rain, a slim black figure in the torrents. It was a funny sight, seeing Sasuke wrestle to get his key in the door and fling it open.

Itachi followed moments after, both in a more dignified manner and while bringing in Sasuke's bag. Sasuke was leaning against the opposite wall in the hallway, hardly out of breath but looking rather like a drowned cat. Sasuke glowered, watching Itachi as he pushed his damp fringe back, hardly looking as soaked through as Sasuke. "How did you manage to stay dryer than I did?" the teenager asked, somewhat bitter about it. "You strolled up here." Trust even the weather to bow to Itachi.

Itachi's response was to offer a secretive smile, toss Sasuke his bag, and gesture upstairs. "Go shower off before you freeze," the command came firmly, but not lacking amusement. Sasuke grumbled under his breath as he pulled his shirt over his head to go toss it in the laundry. His skin was shining with the rainwater that had soaked through his clothes, leaving him glistening. Itachi's gaze lingered, sliding lower to follow the curve of Sasuke's pelvis before he tore his eyes away altogether, further crushing the kindling threatening to burn inside him. He had to walk away before he let himself get tested any more; should he allow that smoking kindling to get away from him, it would consume not only him, but Sasuke whole. Burning didn't sound so awful, but to push the same fate on his own brother?

Sasuke jogged up the stairs two at a time, and what he hoped would burn off the excess adrenaline only made him even jitterier. Lightning flashed outside a window Sasuke walked past, and despite knowing he was safe inside, he stepped away from the glass as if it might shatter. That wasn't helping him to soothe either his racing heart or his aching lungs, where air was rushing too fast and he couldn't seem to keep any of it for long enough. A warm shower may give him the chance to calm down, it might even drown out some of the noise from the thunder.

Wishful thinking, Sasuke was sure, but anything went when it came down to it. He snatched a clean outfit from his room before heading into his bathroom, where there were no windows, but the thunder still reached inside all the same. It shook through the floorboards, and whatever had happened to make thunder so angry?

With his nerves so shot, Sasuke wasn't thinking too straight. He got into the shower and yanked the knobs on before letting the water heat up, thus a gelid cascade of water poured down over him, reminding Sasuke of the rain he'd run from only minutes ago. Swearing, Sasuke stepped back and pressed against the shower wall to give the water a proper chance to warm up.

Outside, rain buffeted the house like a smattering of bullets, but as Sasuke turned the water up, it mingled with the noise of the shower. If he applied enough concentration, he could convince himself the storm wasn't there for a little while. So, along with the water slipping down the drain, Sasuke tried to let his thoughts follow suit and pretended the only focus he had was to stare at the ceiling. There were shapes in the dark, swirling wood that Sasuke could count while he worked through his shower routine. Looking for distractions in his immediate surroundings was one of the main grounding techniques he'd learned in therapy, and it worked, for the most part. Suds washed down and billowed on the shower floor until Sasuke's hair and skin were clean and smelling of some faux fruit. Satisfied, Sasuke relaxed against the wall of the shower, intent on wasting as much hot water as he could.

That was right when the lights flickered, struggled to hang on, and then vanquished completely. The entire room became awash in darkness. Sasuke's heart came to a stuttering halt, and briefly his entire being fell still, as did the room. For several seconds, only the sound of rain interrupted the bleak darkness, but then a rumble of thunder purred in the distance, rising into a crescendo. Sasuke sucked in a gasp, but he was unwilling to move, the most he found his body would cooperate to do was to turn the knobs off.

Mere moments before Sasuke was sure he was about to melt into darkness himself, the door to his bathroom opened and a flickering candle illuminated the room. Sasuke exhaled a breath he hadn't known he'd been holding in, his gaze centered on the modest flame as Itachi set the candle on the counter. "Be careful," Itachi warned, "I'll go check the breakers and see if it's something fixable.

He left the door open when he left, which made Sasuke feel a little less isolated, unlike seconds earlier when he felt trapped in a kingdom of darkness. Of course, that didn't mean he was comfortable staying in there by himself for long. He rushed through the rest of his nightly routines, and found that it was quite a challenge doing it all by weak candlelight. Still, that made it a bit of a game, didn't it? He could pretend this was like a more medieval setting, instead of one where thunder and lightning were coming to consume him. People in medieval lands didn't fear storms—they feared dragons, or vengeful goblins, or some shit like that.

By the time Sasuke finished, the storm had only grown more malevolent. Thunder cracked and hardly abated before another boom would follow. Dressed in a pair of sweatpants, Sasuke took the candle with him as he abandoned the crushing solitude in his room. From downstairs, he heard Itachi emit a muffled curse. Sasuke's shoulders sagged, there was no way good news was coming.

Out in the living room, Sasuke could make out most shapes in the dimness now that his vision had sharpened. "Things aren't going our way, I take it?" Sasuke asked, leaning against the corridor wall. Itachi glanced over at his younger brother, now faced with the flickering shadows of the candlelight clinging to the dips and curves of muscle on Sasuke's body.

With a dry swallow, Itachi shook his head, confirming the bad news. "I'm afraid not, I called the electricity company, it's out for the city," Itachi sighed, beginning to unbutton his wet shirt. He hadn't even had time to get undressed and comfortable himself, yet. "It might not get fixed until morning, with the way the storm is now." Itachi wasn't bothered by the darkness or the storm, but he could see the tension in Sasuke, in the rigid way he stood, and the way his fingers were digging into his own arms as he crossed them. "We'll have the candles, but I suggest saving your phone battery. You should try to get some sleep, Sasuke," Itachi murmured the last part, soft with concern as he picked up his shirt and turned to head to his own room.

Watching his brother leave was a final push, and Sasuke hadn't realized how close to the edge he was standing. Panicked at the idea of sitting through the raging storm all night, alone and in the dark, Sasuke's voice rose in his throat before he could even consider holding back. "Can I stay with you tonight? Please?" Sasuke felt shame tumble in his stomach after asking, because how could he not feel embarrassed? He sounded pathetic.

Itachi paused mid-step after hearing the (admittedly harmless, innocent) request. Unbeknownst to Sasuke, Itachi sunk his teeth into his lower lip as he debated it. Already, he knew there was no way he could deny. Sasuke needed him, and Itachi couldn't let his own inhibitions, however salacious, get in the way of that. "Of course," Itachi relented, "come on, I'll light a few candles."

Relief overwhelmed the initial embarrassment, and once Sasuke snapped out of the immediate surprise, he was fast to trail behind Itachi. Itachi's room had more of a regal tone to it, with darker, royal colors and minimal decoration. It was warm and pleasantly familiar, even though Sasuke hadn't spent the night in Itachi's room since he was at least ten. Itachi shut the door after Sasuke entered, and went to light the candles he already had sitting around his room. Itachi found the aromatic candles to be soothing, good for headaches, thus there were about five or six dotting around. After lighting the first couple, he handed off the lighter to Sasuke. "Go ahead, I'm going to go dry off."

Sasuke swallowed thickly, only able to nod as Itachi disappeared into his bathroom with one of the candles to guide him. Once the room was bathed in the soft glow of flickering candles, it felt a bit more comforting. But, that did nothing to alleviate the dread that the storm stirred inside of Sasuke, even after all this time. Even when Sasuke tried to fight it, tried to tell himself there were no reasons to panic, or tried to use every grounding technique in the therapist's book. Storms always triggered that innate response. Folding himself up on the bed, Sasuke pulled his knees close to his chest and rested his forehead against them. He hoped that if he shrank himself small enough he could hide from the thunder and the way it boomed through the house and into his heart. It wasn't working too well.

Itachi exited the bathroom, dry and dressed in a pair of boxers, the only thing he tended to sleep in. The sight of Sasuke huddled up on the bed, struggling on his own to brave his fears, tugged a possessive string in Itachi's chest. Sasuke looked so small, curled up on the large bed, so vulnerable that Itachi wanted to erase everything that could do Sasuke harm. Sasuke was his to protect, was he not? It was still Itachi's job to keep Sasuke safe and comfortable, regardless of the selfish undertones that he was deftly trying to ignore.

Approaching the bed, Itachi sank down onto the mattress, moving slow as to not startle Sasuke. The boy didn't raise his head when he felt the bed dip beside him, but when he felt a strong arm wrap around his waist, he couldn't help a little gasp. Itachi tugged Sasuke back against his chest, and Sasuke unfurled, raising his head, and reaching for Itachi's arm with both hands. "Itachi?" Sasuke said, uncertain if he was asking a question, or what the question should be.

Itachi's chest was firm and warm, and very bare, a fact Sasuke could never overlook. It shouldn't have mattered, but oh, it did. Inhaling a shaky breath, Sasuke looked up to search for clarification, and found Itachi's face a meager distance.

Warmth began to bloom on Sasuke's cheeks. Gentle fingers combed through his still-damp hair, moving it from his eyes, but Itachi's gaze never broke from Sasuke's, even when the teenager looked down in embarrassment. Sasuke's breathing had quickened, and it wasn't only due to his previous nerves. In the seconds after the comforting action, Sasuke was certain he was overreacting at the utter innocence of the whole thing—and look at him, wasn't he disgusting—something inside of Itachi shifted. It didn't shift in a good direction, but he wasn't quite able to grasp and pull himself away from it.

Reaching up, Itachi's palm pressed against Sasuke's cheek, warm and gentle. Sasuke looked up in surprise, from under his thick lashes. He stiffened, but still leaned into the touch when Itachi drew him closer. "I can take your mind off the storm," Itachi murmured the promise, and the earlier small flush on Sasuke's face burned into cerise at the suggestive fringe of it.

There was no way Sasuke could mishear or misinterpret that. Longing ached in his chest, clawing up from where Sasuke had tried so hard to crush it. "Please," Sasuke murmured, hardly over the rain. That permission alone was enough for Itachi's control, only held back by Sasuke's consent, snapped. He closed the distance between their mouths and kissed Sasuke, who instead of shying away, leaned into the kiss. He was desperate to seek a reprieve in Itachi, to seek touch and affection and everything Itachi had to offer. Sasuke's greed knew no bounds once it had finally had a taste. Itachi's lips were smooth, soft, it almost made Sasuke self-conscious of his own because of how often he worried them between his teeth.

Itachi let the hand that he was holding Sasuke's face with lower, where it came to rest on the curve of Sasuke's waist. Tugging Sasuke lower down the bed, the teenager responded with a startled noise when he found himself pushed onto his back. Itachi hovered over his prone body, inexorably predatory, and Sasuke doubted he could ever deny the older man had he even wanted to. Spreading his legs to invite Itachi closer, Sasuke shivered when the warmth of Itachi's bare chest pressed against him, and despite the heat, Sasuke felt goosebumps on his skin.

Reaching up, Sasuke looped his arms around Itachi's shoulders, his fingertips smoothing down the broad muscle of the older man's back. Itachi smirked against the bare skin of Sasuke's throat, too naked for his liking, it would be a shame not to fix that problem. Opening his mouth, Itachi pressed an open kiss against Sasuke's throat, one that had the teenager arching up into the attention. Sasuke was too sensitive—good news for Itachi, less so for Sasuke, who knew Itachi to be someone who took every advantage for himself.

Sasuke felt the sharp hint of Itachi's teeth on his throat and his eyes fluttered shut, the sensation cool and gentle. It lasted only a moment before Itachi dared to take another step, nipping at Sasuke's throat, and leaving the pale skin to pinken. The sudden flare of pain was brief and startling, but when Sasuke gasped at the attention, it sounded anything but pained. Burying his fingers into Itachi's hair, Sasuke gave a short tug on the long strands, hoping to encourage Itachi. The older man huffed a quiet laugh into the crook of Sasuke's neck, his tongue peeking out between his lips to run across the mark he'd left on the once bare skin. "Were you hiding a masochistic streak, Otouto?" Itachi murmured, and hell Sasuke wished that didn't make him as hard as it did.

Itachi's mouth, thankfully, went back to lavishing attention instead of continuing to make Sasuke feel like a complete sinner. Itachi pressed a line of kisses down Sasuke's throat, where his pulse beat in frenetic rhythm, both in part to his previous panic and now to the current lust beginning to overwhelm that. Itachi skimmed his lips down Sasuke's clavicle, appreciating the way Sasuke tilted his head back with a groan. Sasuke acted touch-starved, as if every time Itachi touched him it was going to unravel him.

It was a kind of power that went straight to Itachi's libido. Leaning back up, Itachi nipped Sasuke's ear and pressed his calloused palm against Sasuke's navel. Sliding it down, Itachi listened to the shaky exhale Sasuke emitted, the muscles of his abdomen trembling with anticipation. Itachi toyed with the edge of Sasuke's pants at first, too close and yet way too far from where Sasuke wanted him. With a frustrated huff, Sasuke rolled his hips up, wishing the physical cue would be enough to coax Itachi on. Too bad it wasn't, and to add insult to injury, Itachi's quiet laugh against Sasuke's ear made him realize the older man was doing it on purpose.

"Would you quit being a fucking tease?" Sasuke snapped, though the breathlessness in his voice may have derailed his annoyance. Itachi snorted a bit at the vulgar command, more amused than inclined to comply. Shifting his weight, Itachi slipped lower down the bed, dropping kisses where he could. A gentle one to Sasuke's jawline, a quick nip at his neck, across the smooth plane of his chest, and down to his navel. Sasuke shuddered at the brush of Itachi's lips against his lower stomach, exhaling a gasp. It was pleasant, fleeting, and when Itachi kissed him again, a little lower, Sasuke spread his legs.

Slipping his fingers in the band of Sasuke's sweatpants, Itachi pulled the article off and pushed it to the side. In the wake of being nude and having a pair of (hungry, almost carnal) eyes on him, Sasuke's legs twitched closer together, aching to shut himself off. Sasuke could feel his skin heat up under the attention Itachi was giving him, and he raised his arm up to rest it across his face. "Don't just stare at me," the teenager mumbled, and it was a little hard to hear him with the way his arm muffled his voice.

Still, Itachi smirked nonetheless. He hadn't ever pinned Sasuke to be shy, but the teenager was modest, and Itachi supposed some timidness could come with that. "There would be no fun in that," Itachi said, resting one hand against Sasuke's knee. He pushed it further away from the other, leaving Sasuke feeling open and exposed. He tried to take a deep breath, hoping it would help, but with a flash of lightning at the window there came another crack of thunder. Sasuke tensed and flinched at the noise, shutting his eyes tight. He'd almost forgotten the storm outside, almost.

A gentle weight settled atop Sasuke, giving him a start. His eyes flew open when Itachi's soft lips pressed against his own, the kiss slow and sweet. Gradually, Sasuke relaxed into the kiss, his eyes shut and his arms hugging around Itachi's shoulders. The older man's clothed hips pressed into Sasuke's bare ones, the silky friction wasn't nearly enough to satisfy Sasuke, but it was plenty to make him groan into Itachi's mouth and buck his hips up. He could feel Itachi's erection, how Itachi was as hard and aching as Sasuke was, he was only better at hiding it. Stubborn and eager-to-please enough to be bold, Sasuke placed his hands on Itachi's shoulders to ease him up.

Confused by the pause, Itachi complied and lifted up, but Sasuke didn't stop. He pushed Itachi over, onto the bed, coaxing him to lie on his back until Itachi got the hint himself. The sheets were cool against his back as he reclined against them, his hair loose around his shoulders and pillow. The sight of Sasuke straddling his waist was bad for Itachi's self-control, of which was slipping, especially when a smug little smirk took over Sasuke's expression. The boy grabbed a hold of Itachi's pants and began to tug them off, freeing Itachi's neglected erection. Itachi's face flushed with arousal, but it didn't match the redness of Sasuke's own.

While lacking in experience, Sasuke made up for it by being curious and a quick learner. He settled between Itachi's legs, too good a look for him, and curled his fingers around the hot base of Itachi's cock. Leaning closer, Sasuke opened his mouth, a cool breath of air puffing past his pinkened lips and over the head of Itachi's erection. Itachi shivered, garnering another quick smirk from Sasuke (maybe he shouldn't be so wicked) before he opened his mouth, stretching his lips around his brother's cock. The warm slickness of Sasuke's mouth sliding down his cock had to be the best Itachi had ever felt; he grit his teeth in pleasure, his hand snaking down to tangle in Sasuke's soft hair.

Encouraged by the gentle pressure in his hair, Sasuke pressed his tongue flat against Itachi's cock as he bobbed his head, trying to mimic what he thought would feel good. His cheeks hollowed as he sucked, tasting a bit of salty, bitter residue from the pre-cum starting to bubble from the head of Itachi's cock. Sasuke's nose scrunched a bit, but it wasn't ultimately a bad taste, only odd. He tried to push more of Itachi's cock into his mouth, until the head hit the back of his throat and he had to retreat with a small cough. Itachi opened his eyes, faced with Sasuke's pink face, glazed eyes, and shining lips that looked a little plumper. "Go slow," Itachi advised, making Sasuke look up at him through his eyelashes. "Take a deep breath, like you're going to yawn. You don't have to take it all at once."

Oh, but Sasuke wanted to. He wanted to take all of Itachi down his throat—and he was sure with a little practice, he would. Following the directions given to him, Sasuke inhaled through his nose and tried again, pushing his head down. Itachi wasn't too much above average, but he still filled Sasuke's mouth and made him wince when the head hit the back of his throat again. Sasuke tried to relax, and to ignore his gag reflex, which was proving to be difficult. Itachi groaned something primal, though, and tightened his fingers in Sasuke's hair, pushing him down lower. Sasuke shut his eyes when Itachi's cock stretched his throat, leaving him unable to breathe and almost painfully aroused. Just from having Itachi take control, to steal it away and make Sasuke do what he wanted.

Sasuke couldn't be sure if that made him horny or ashamed, but it left him hard and aching either way. Itachi eased up and Sasuke popped off, sure to run his tongue along the underside of Itachi's cock as he pulled away with a weak inhale. A string of saliva broke off and fell onto Sasuke's chin. Licking his lips, Sasuke blinked his dazed eyes, leaning into Itachi's palm when it pressed against his face. "So good for me," Itachi breathed, and the praise made Sasuke's hips roll forward, seeking gratification. Itachi was more than happy to supply.

Sneaking his hands down, Itachi stroked over Sasuke's hips, gently pulling them forward so that Sasuke could grind against him. Itachi's cock, still slick, pressed against Sasuke's as the younger man rocked his hips. With Sasuke's mouth opening into a lax expression, he looked rather lewd. Itachi let Sasuke continue for a few moments before he reached back, his hands finding and squeezing Sasuke's supple ass. With a surprised squeak, Sasuke's nails dug into Itachi's shoulders a bit, but there were no objections. With the invitation to continue, Itachi paused in his ministrations and leaned back towards his nightstand. Sasuke whined when they parted, a sound that was both sweet and yet awfully arousing.

Itachi kissed Sasuke in apology when he returned to his place, a small bottle of clear, jelly-like substance in his hand. Sasuke blinked down at the bottle when Itachi unscrewed the top and tipped it into his hand, pouring some of it into his palm. Realization dawned on Sasuke at the same time Itachi began to smear the lube across three of his fingers. Out of reflex, Sasuke stiffened, but it wasn't out of hesitation. The thought of Itachi inside him had been the subject of several long, late nights for Sasuke.

Itachi tilted his head to press a series of soft kisses against Sasuke's neck, reaching down to press one slick finger against Sasuke's puckered entrance. He teased Sasuke for a moment, rubbing against him and prompting him to relax before sinking his finger past the ring of muscle. There wasn't much protest, though Sasuke clenched down at first with a quiet moan. Itachi pushed in shallowly in the beginning, sinking in to his knuckle before pulling out. Sasuke let his head tilt to the side, allowing Itachi to suck and nip at his throat, although tomorrow there would be a lecture about leaving such visible marks. As he pressed a kiss to Sasuke's shoulder, Itachi pushed his finger inside deeper, testing Sasuke's comfort.

It wasn't a bad feeling, but it was hard not to clench down around the intrusion that he wasn't yet used to. Sasuke dropped his forehead against Itachi's shoulder, continuing to roll his hips to meet with Itachi's ministrations. Itachi pressed a second finger in alongside the first, coaxing Sasuke to accept them. That entry stung a bit, but not enough for Sasuke to do more than wince. He stroked his fingers up Itachi's back and between his shoulder blades, his lips kissing at the older man's pale shoulder. It was easier to focus on lavishing Itachi with attention than the slight pain of those fingers stretching him open.

Sasuke's muscles were loosening the more Itachi worked his digits in and out, and he became less reserved in the noises he was making. When the tip of Itachi's middle finger pressed over Sasuke's prostate, the teenager's back bowed in an arch and he exhaled a startled, breathless cry at the sudden and strange pleasure that went straight to his cock. "Fuck," Sasuke murmured, jutting his hips back against Itachi's fingers. With the newfound impatience, Itachi sunk the third finger in and was quick to press them all deep, brushing against the sensitive bundle of nerves without mercy.

That spark of pleasure was the perfect distraction against the mild burn. "Itachi," Sasuke's voice was but a breath ahead of being desperate, and Itachi's mouth went dry. "Itachi please, I'm ready, if you keep doing this I'm gonna come." Sasuke wanted that with Itachi inside of him. He opened his shining eyes to peer up at Itachi, dropping his hand to skim his fingers against Itachi's erection to further push him over the edge.

"That wouldn't be a bad sight," Itachi's voice had gotten huskier with lust. As compelling as that sight sounded, though, he was going to burst if he didn't take care of things soon. He pulled his fingers out and cleaned off the excess lube on one of their discarded pants. With a quick kiss to Sasuke's forehead, he nudged the boy's hips. "Lie on your stomach, it's easier that way," he urged Sasuke, who slipped off his brother's lap to comply. A fleeting jealousy hiked in Sasuke's chest at the thought of Itachi having prior experience, but he couldn't do anything except swallow it. Sasuke had never gone all the way, but he'd kissed, he'd messed around. He should expect Itachi to have had past lovers, but he wouldn't have any future ones.

Before he settled, Sasuke put a pillow beneath his hips to make it easier as he got onto his belly. He heard Itachi chuckle from behind him, where the older man was positioning behind Sasuke. "Where'd you pick that up?" Itachi asked, drizzling some more lubricant into his hand to slick up his erection.

"I'm not a naïve flower," Sasuke grumbled, his fingers digging into the sheets below. Itachi smirked at Sasuke's back, taking a hold of Sasuke's hip and coaxing him to spread his legs a little more. Satisfied, Itachi leaned over Sasuke some and positioned his cock against his lover's loosened entrance. Sasuke bit into the sheet when Itachi started pressing forward, the gentle pressure increased until the head finally slipped past the tight ring of muscle. Immediately, it was worse than the fingers. Sasuke choked back any sound of pain, further sinking his teeth into the cloth to help. He knew he tightened up around Itachi when he felt a hand stroking up his back, soothing him to relax. Itachi didn't push in too fast, but he did stay steady, until he was inside of Sasuke's sweltering heat.

It was almost like Sasuke couldn't breathe. He felt so full, and the burning pain skimmed the edge of that stuffed feeling, leaving him panting and clinging to the sheets. Itachi was only marginally better, his fingertips digging bruises into Sasuke's hips as he had to remind himself not to move right away. He bent lower, grazing faint kisses against Sasuke's shoulders and the back of his neck. Sasuke shuddered, the sheet beneath his face damp where he'd bitten it. Sweat dripped down Itachi's temple in the several seconds that passed until, carefully, Sasuke pushed back into him.

A twinge of pain accompanied that motion for Sasuke, but it wasn't intense, and he didn't want to wait any longer. He would go crazy, and he knew Itachi was already almost there. "I'm ready," Sasuke told him in a shaking voice.

Itachi exhaled a long breath at the permission, slowly withdrawing his cock. Sasuke winced when Itachi pushed back in, struggling to will his body to relax. The rhythm was neither good nor unbearable—well, for Sasuke it wasn't. Itachi was exercising plenty of self-control to not shove himself into Sasuke. He was hot, tight, and absolutely perfect around Itachi's cock. "You feel perfect," Itachi whispered against the damp skin of Sasuke's back.

Sasuke's muscles quivered in response to the praise. After a few moments, moments dizzy and hazy with heat and lust, the lingering discomfort dwindled. Sasuke thought it hard to say it felt good, but it wasn't exactly unpleasant, the way Itachi's cock slid against his inner walls. Pushing himself onto his forearms, Sasuke's hair stuck to his forehead and temples. It was easier to rock backwards into Itachi's thrusts, taking him deeper and arousing a heady groan from Sasuke. His mouth hung open and his back arched, and fuck if he cared how whorish he sounded right then.

Itachi bit at Sasuke's neck, muffling his own harsh sound of pleasure. Their skin slapping together combined with the wet sound of the lubricant was downright filthy, and it was getting louder when Itachi started to piston his hips faster. He considered for a second that they should be careful, since it was Sasuke's first time, but that thought was out the window almost as fast as it had come. Sasuke clearly didn't want to be coddled, not with his litany of sounds and urging of "faster, fuck, Itachi!" that filled the room

It was too much, Sasuke couldn't handle all the sensations coming from every direction. Itachi's cock dragging across his prostate, pressing down, and driving him crazy; the pillow giving his dripping erection friction; Itachi's mouth and hands that were too hot on his body. It was all overwhelming, Sasuke was clamping down around Itachi's cock as he tightened up, nearing climax. "'m close," Sasuke warned, as if Itachi wasn't well aware with the way Sasuke kept clenching around his cock. He wanted to fuck Sasuke through his orgasm, and when he doubled his efforts, Sasuke's breath caught in a scream. He was coming within seconds, spilling across the pillow beneath his hips while sharp little sounds dripped past his lips, riding it out with Itachi's cock inside of him.

Itachi's arms quivered once, holding himself above Sasuke, and he'd planned to pull out before coming, but he found himself driven on the edge by the sight of Sasuke coming so utterly undone. He rocked his hips as he came, Sasuke's quivering muscles milking him dry. Sasuke's arms gave out and he collapsed onto the bed, shaking from the lingering pleasure that was starting to get too intense. He felt hot, sticky, and buzzing with satisfaction. Itachi said something against Sasuke's marked throat, but the teenager couldn't catch it and only groaned in reply, garnering a soft laugh.

Sasuke winced when Itachi pulled out, oversensitive and sore. He remained splayed out on the bed, as if too lazy to fix himself, while Itachi tied off and tossed away the condom and went to fetch a couple of towels. It was cute, seeing Sasuke so dazed and out of it, but regardless if the boy whined about getting disturbed, Itachi wanted to clean him up. He returned to the bedside with a warm, damp rag and a dry towel, and grabbed one of Sasuke's thighs to tug him closer. Sasuke muttered in protest, hardly even opening his eyes. "Can't this wait until morning?"

Itachi rolled his eyes, but smiled fondly all the same as he started to clean off Sasuke's stomach, where evidence of his orgasm lay drying. "No, you're a mess. You'll sleep better if you're cleaned up," Itachi said, although it was also due to him not wanting his bed to be a sticky mess, too. Sasuke sucked in a breath when Itachi cleaned between his legs, and when he hissed a quiet whine, Itachi pressed an apologetic kiss to the inside of Sasuke's thigh. He tried to be careful as he cleaned Sasuke, and once finished, Sasuke closed his legs and curled up on the bed, looking mussed and tired.

Now that they could sleep cleanly, Itachi was happy to settle in beside Sasuke and welcome him close, hooking an arm around the younger's waist. Sasuke hummed in contentment as he pressed close, seeking the warmth and comfort Itachi was offering. Itachi began to stroke through Sasuke's hair, pressing a chaste kiss to the drowsy boy's forehead.

Outside, the thunder rumbled distantly, but Sasuke didn't even flinch.

I've hit the point in the rewriting process where I've stopped taking it so seriously and I'm trying not to make a total Meme™ out of it all, but I mean…

I also remember a time where I shipped this wholeheartedly, but now it just doesn't hold much appeal to me at all. I can't tap into those old shippy feelings for the majority of my old Nardo ships, actually…kind of makes me wish I'd grown out of being Trash altogether.