Short, drabbley and unedited but—THE NEW CHAPTER! I HAD TO WRITE SOMETHING!

Itachi's life is so tragic, it brings me to tears everytime DD:


Tall Tales

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She expected they'd tell tales of it.

The Uchiha Massacre.

There would be chilling stories of how one man had annihilated his entire clan for no particular reason. Because no one would ever know what the true motives had been. They'd whisper behind their hands while the crime was still fresh—"I heard he murdered his mother and father last", "The Uchiha were a strict bunch, maybe he did have a reason…" Later, the event would become something for idle chatter as villagers passed by the empty houses at the back of the village— "ah, you know that's where the entire Uchiha clan were slaughtered, right?" , "Heee~ so that's the place..."

There would be heroes within these tales for sure. They would tell of how her husband had bravely protected his wife. Of how, upon seeing the boy go for her first, he died in her place. Of how she laid herself over his bloody body, clutching his clothes and sobbing.

These kinds of tales.

But none of it would be true. Because it was quiet here. In this moment.

Earlier, they had heard screams from up the road at the bakery that their children often visited on their way home. But now, silence. It was dark and cold but the couple sat quietly on the floor in the chill of an empty room. Her husband was sipping tea while she played her fingers around the rim of the round tray she had brought it to him on, her own tea untouched.

She could almost feel him in the air. Their son. Not their youngest, not Sasuke.

Itachi.

She could feel his hesitance around her. His anguish. It weighed heavy in her chest. It was painful, but it kept him close, even as he did what he had to. She understood. And she was sure her husband understood too. He was angry, she could tell. Though he'd said nothing about what they were sure was happening around them, she knew. But more so than angry, he was sad. She knew that too. Not because one of their own had chosen this path, but because he understood what Itachi's life would be like from now on. How much he would suffer.

Sasuke too.

When the man had finished his tea he reached to place it back on the tray at the same time she came forward to take it from his hands. Their fingers met around the cup as it clacked back onto the tray. His large, long fingers; calloused and worn, with her pale, slender ones.

"Fugaku…" Mikoto murmured softly and when she lifted her gaze to speak more she found his eyes on her. His face was stern as always as he fixed her with a hard stare.

'Please don't. Don't speak. Mikoto…'

"I…" she began but he shook his head, pulling his hand away from the cup. The heat of his skin on hers melted away and she immediately felt panic tear up her airway, vomit sour and hot at the back of her throat. She opened and closed her mouth uselessly; desperate for words, but all that came were painful tears spilling down her cheeks.

At this, Fugaku's expression softened. He almost smiled as he raised his hands to her face, wiping her tears for her.

"Come on now…" he whispered to her and Mikoto nodded back, agreeing that this kind of behavior was uncalled for. She held onto the backs of his hands, threading her fingers through his from behind as he made his way over her cheeks, across her damp eyelashes, the corners of her mouth. They came to rest at the sides of her face, his thumbs stroking back and forth over sticky skin.

"I love Itachi," she told him. "And I love Sasuke, I love our family, I love the time we've been together…" Fugaku hummed. "And I love you, so much..."

Her voice broke in her words and then, he was leaning over the small tray that separated them, pressing his mouth harshly to hers.

"I love you," Fugaku growled against her lips and then kissed her again. She was still holding onto his hands, whimpering softly into his mouth. They stayed there together for a moment before he pulled back. Breathing slowly, she pressed her forehead to his.

"I love you…" Tender this time.

And then, it was over. It was enough. He was settling back onto his knees, rubbing his face. She waited until he was comfortable and then rose, collecting the tray and looking down on him with a small smile.

"I'll take this back to the kitchen."

"Hn."

When she returned, he was sitting in her space. She took the spot next to him and together, they waited. They didn't speak anymore, didn't touch. There was nothing more to be done. They had never considered trying to stop what was coming once they realized it was happening. Because this was the order of the elders and they had assigned the very best to this mission.

-/-

Itachi came not long after. He knelt down behind them without a word and there was a stretch of silence that seemed to go on forever. Mikoto stared forward. There was no sound outside. They were the last ones.

"Oh, so you're on their side now?" Fugaku's question tore through the quiet. Mikoto felt her son flinch behind them at the accusation in his father's voice. The boy shuffled on his knees a little and she could hear his breath close behind her now, ragged and shaky.

"Father… Mother… I," he began and Mikoto couldn't be silent when Itachi was calling them in such a miserable voice.

"We understand, Itachi." She stopped him suddenly; her own voice was surprisingly steady. But that was all she could manage. In her lap, her hands trembled so violently she had to press them hard into her thighs to keep them unnoticed. Her tongue felt strangely thick. She was in pain, but Itachi's agony far surpassed hers. He was trying hard. Though he was trying to act composed, emotionless, she could hear the whimpers of a child trapped behind his tight lips.

"Itachi, promise me one last thing," barked Fugaku and Mikoto's eyes slid his way to find his fingers grappled tight into his yukata at his knee. Itachi was silent. "Take care of Sasuke." And the woman felt Itachi bow his head behind her, a tight breath through his teeth as he really did begin to cry. The loose fittings of the sword the boy held ready rattled against each other with his trembling hands.

'Oh, Itachi…'

"Do not fear… this is the path you chose… is it not? Our pain will end in an instant. It's nothing compared to what you will face," Fugaku told him harshly. His face was calm but Mikoto's eyes were still on his hands. The man breathed a long breath. His next words were soft and though his expression was unchanging, he sounded as though he too, were about to cry.

"Even though our way of thinking differs, I am proud of you…"

The sounds of Itachi sobbing through his teeth behind them were unusually loud in the cold room.

"You truly are a gentle child…"

The point of a trembling blade pressed between Mikoto's shoulder blades.

Nothing more was said as Itachi drove the blade through her body with a loud, strangled cry.

'Itachi…'