[Insert Disclaimer Here: I had a bad day. So I started writing. I feel better now. I still don't own anything, though.]


The sky was dark and the moon was black. Waves of blood broke against jagged rocks. The sand burned beneath Sasuke's feet as he stumbled through nothingness into form. The hole in his chest was still wet, still dripping. But he wasn't aware of it. He was beyond awareness, beyond pain, beyond hatred and revenge...

The only thing that mattered now, perhaps the only thing that ever mattered, was a single pair of eyes in the distance. They were small, dim, but their light was a beacon to a soul drifting in the darkness.

Sasuke had been adrift for most his life, some would say. From the day his clan was slaughtered, he was alone. He wandered through teammates. He wandered through masters. He stirred up storms of rage and vengeance, never really understanding that he - not his brother, not his enemies, not even the village - was the only one caught in the maelstrom. There was nothing anyone could do to prevent him from destroying himself. It was inevitable.

"... You shouldn't be here."

The voice was softer than the wind. Against the mighty ocean it was nothing but a tear. Yet it echoed in Sasuke's ears and tore through his heart like a second wakizashi.

He lifted his head. He'd found the eyes. He'd found the light.

"I thought you said, whatever I did, you would love me forever..."

Itachi stepped off the rock with a slight limp. Blood dribbled from a wound on his leg, as freely as it had the day he died. Sasuke cringed. He'd given his brother that wound, and it wasn't the only one. The burns that covered his right arm, the bruises, the sickly pallor were all there. Years of hatred, months of regret... it only took a few minutes for Sasuke to finally put an end to every single one of them. And now, it was as if time was standing still.

"I did." Itachi replied, as trembling hands tenuously made their way up Sasuke's yukata and over his open chest.

Fingertips traced the edges of the wound. Sasuke shivered, but he didn't move. Itachi's head never turned. His glare never wavered. His eyes never... Itachi was blind.

"I still do. I just never..." Itachi's voice hitched as a bloody tear ran from an empty eye. "Forgive me, Sasuke. I never wanted to see you again. Not here. Not here..."

Itachi turned his head toward the endless horizon.

"You can hear them, can't you?" he whispered, pointing into the distance. "The anguished cries... The grief. The despair. The sea is nourished by the tears of those left behind."

Sasuke let out a long, heavy breath. He used to be one of those cries.

"There are no tides, no relief. Just the constant lapping, straining, lashing out against the cliffs - the final resting place for those who have taken their own life."

There was no anger in his words, no condemnation in his tone. There was only sadness, a sadness so palpable that it smothered the sky.

For Sasuke, suicide was inevitable. His soul was shattered when he was only eight years old. And those pieces, turned inward, would have killed him that very night had Itachi not given him something to live for.

In the name of vengeance, he wrenched those shards around. He aimed them at himself, taking the full impact of each one as it crashed like a tidal wave into the shore. The devastation was evident in his failing body. But it was necessary, he told himself. To spare Sasuke's life, at the expense of his own, he committed suicide for eight long years.

"I'm sorry..."

"No." Sasuke swallowed his pride. He took his brother by the hand, a moment that stretched beyond life, beyond death, beyond eternity itself. "You said I no longer needed to forgive you."

Itachi found himself nodding. He squeezed Sasuke's hand in return, feeling the crisp ocean spray against his face for the first time.

In another moment, they were gone.

Their suffering was over. They were both finally free.