-Fire in our Eyes-
Pictures of the soul
It was already noon when Madara came back home, carrying a bag full of notebooks and pens, pencils, sharpies. Sasuke will be happy to see them. I headed to the kitchen slowly, greeting Madara as I entered the room. He smiled, and then frowned.
"You two already started having arguments?" he asked me with a scowl. I didn't answer; it was too obvious that he wasn't actually asking me. He was merely stating a fact. "I think he expected you to be a little more enthusiastic about seeing him. Sasuke always wanted to be in the spotlight of the people he cared about. I don't know how he'll learn to cope with your indifference."
"I'm not being indifferent." I said calmly. He should know better than tell me that, after all. Out of all the people, he's the one who knows me best, and he knows that I can't show my feelings for obvious reasons. These eyes won't show anything; they're just hollow.
"You certainly aren't good with emotional display then," he winked at me, although his voice sounded serious.
"I wonder why's that. And I believe that my emotional display towards Sasuke is further damaged by the fact I can't even look him in the eyes, don't you think?" I can't help the sarcasm in my voice even if I try.
"I thought you've learnt how to control it, that's why I brought you back! I don't want to see the history repeat itself! I don't wish for Sasuke to end up like Izuna!"
"I know you don't…" I sighed, thinking. It was different from what happened to them. Madara awakened these eyes at 18, a lot later than me, at 11. He didn't even know fully well what was going on when the accident happened. 'Tsukuyomi- a powerful eye technique that destroys the emotions displayed by eye-contact, and creates an inner world, or an alternate universe that you can only show a normal human once. It has the capacity to shut down the nervous system completely of the person who gets caught in it. But at least they know what's in your soul before they die,' was Madara's exact explanation of the phenomenon.
That's what happened to both Izuna and my parents: an accident caused by anger. When mother started blaming me of having the emotions of a stone, and Fugaku said I want to defy him. I was 11, I snapped. And for a second, even I wasn't aware whether it was my fault or not. I was unaware of the consequences, and the price was high.
All those 7 years I've been mastering the Tsukuyomi, while discovering that I could mold fire and water. It sounds impossible. And I'm not a dragon from a Chinese fairy tale, nor am I the little mermaid. I can't look at something and set it on fire, and I can't control weather. But I can extinguish fire and also mold its shape, even work my own body heat from low to high. I bet if Sasuke had this sort of possibility, he'd pretend to be sick with fever all the time.
With water it's a lot more interesting. But these powers have been my downfall. They took me away from my family, from Sasuke. Damn eyes! Missing him so much, yet giving the impression I couldn't care less if I remained in Jeju for the rest of my life. Even if I wished to cry right now, I wouldn't be able to. I'm not granted with tears, unfortunately.
"I wanted to tell you something." I lifted my gaze to see Madara properly. "Sasuke always wanted to know what exactly happened to Izuna, and also various things from my youth. Even the reason why you were always with me before you left to Jeju. Don't tell him yet, he wouldn't understand."
"Madara… Have you ever considered that Sasuke could also develop these eyes?" I asked without even thinking. There was no need to tell him I wouldn't say a thing to Sasuke. It went without saying. There is something else I wanted to discuss with him right now.
"It might happen. I mean, it's possible, but he should have shown some signs already. You're brothers, it's supposed that if he ever develops it, he'd be around the same age you were. But he's 15 already, and you were 11."
"I wish he could have it," I whispered back to Madara. He smiled; he knew what I meant. I wished he could have it, so he could be immune to my Tsukuyomi. Just like Madara is.
Being into Madara's mind felt like watching an old movie. Everything seems old, and nothing of the present interests him in a special way. Molding our inner worlds, I can definitely state that we'd make a complete family portrait. He'd be the past, and I'd be the present and future. Too bad things like these only work in theory. Also, too bad Madara doesn't actually have a memory of the past. It solely includes one person-Izuna- surrounded by his guilt and sorrow.
"I miss Izuna," he whispered to me. Somehow, Madara has learnt to display his feelings by the tone of his voice, if the eyes were unavailable. Sadly, in my case, I'm not too fond of talking, or giving my voice different nuances.
"Then go see him…"
I could see his eyes widen to the size of dinner plates, as he stared at me in disbelief. Of course, he's told me numerous times how Izuna 'died', and how they were extremely close, sharing Izuna's room, but the fact remains that his brother wasn't dead. I knew that for sure. You have to know the feeling of having killed a relative in order to be able to make the difference: it can't be explained.
"How do you even know that?" he almost shouted at me. It was the first time I saw him other than sarcastic or serious. It was pretty much visible that it irked him to find out I can read him so easily, even when he didn't say a thing about the matter. But in the end, he doesn't need to tell me something like this…
"Silence speaks louder than words. I could read it in your red eyes."
"Have I ever told you how much I hate that intuition of yours? But you've always been special, it's not all that surprising if I come to think about it."
I gave him a small nod and took the bag with the stationery he's bought for Sasuke and me. I picked the basic notebooks, one pen and one pencil; I never needed more than that, and Sasuke always liked having the new and sophisticated stuff anyway.
"Well, we should have lunch. Do you wanna help me cook?" he asked me with a sly grin, almost as if he was suggesting my inability to cook something edible. I don't blame him for thinking that, though; he's never once in his life seen me cook.
"Sure, let's do it."
"I'm going to sleep. G'night both." Sasuke announced in a tired voice as he went to his room upstairs, with Madara. They've both been very quiet after eating lunch, and we silently decided to eat dinner separately, or in my case, not at all. The quiet atmosphere didn't bother me, I was used to it, but Sasuke was never the quiet type; every time I looked at him, he'd look away and close his eyes. He ate as fast as he could, and then ran to his room. From 1PM to 9, he didn't come out. And now, 1 hour after his leave, I hear his footsteps in front of my door, and I open it for him. He used to do this a lot when we were children, he came in front of my room but he was afraid to knock.
I opened the door only to see him there, in a lotus position, staring at the ground and looking up when he heard the door open. Just when I wanted to ask him why he was there, he rose from the ground and entered my room. I waited calmly to see what he was going to do next. He simply sat on my bed, looking at his feet. I didn't ask anything. It's not the first time he comes to my room just to look around, or be with me. And his presence didn't bother me, so I didn't mind.
I picked up my book and started reading, not curious enough to steal a glance at him from time to time. I knew he'd start talking sooner or later. Probably later, though.
Even if I wasn't looking, I knew what he was staring at: the books on my nightstand, the ones that I enjoyed re-reading. I know for a fact that Sasuke finds them incredibly boring, but Madara said it's a good thing that I'm reading. So said mom, and dad… he didn't really care as long as I kept on being his straight A student.
"Aniki?" Oh, there it is. I just nod my head to tell him I'm listening. He already knows that unless we're discussing some serious matter, I'm multi-tasking. "Why are you spending so much time with Madara lately?"
"He's a good guy." I saw Sasuke ready to say something along the lines of 'That's not what I asked', so I continued. "He's giving me books, and he's nice to talk to."
"You're spending more time with him rather than with me. It's not fair!" he gave me his famous pout, the one that generally granted him everything, from anyone. Except for Madara. He was somehow immune to THE Sasuke pout, and I think I have a fair idea why.
"Why does it bother you so much? I often offered you to come with me to visit him, didn't I?" He probably doesn't like Madara very much, that's why.
"I don't want to share, Aniki. I want to spend time with you, not with you and Madara." Straight to the point, as always. But that's not necessarily the best approach. It will guarantee you an honest answer, and that's not always what you want to hear.
"You're only 8, Sasuke. It's normal that I have more things to talk about with Madara. When you'll get older, I'll spend more time with you. Just wait and see." Even I was a bit surprised by the flatness of my voice sometimes. This is one of those 'times', and it had the same effect as always on Sasuke: he furrowed his brows and exited my room quietly, only adding a quick 'Sorry to be a burden, then.' And I'm sorry to disappoint you, Otouto. Maybe next time.
Once again, as a reply I opened my door, and he was indeed there. The only difference would be that he hadn't had time to sit down cross-legged this time. I pointed a hand to the inside of my room, inviting him to come. He didn't move an inch. For a few seconds, he simply stared at me. I could feel his questions in the air, and the instinct told me that he was too proud to ask anything. So be it.
I returned to the bed, leaving the door open, and him in the doorway. I wonder if he'll come inside, after all. It would be best if he didn't. Sorry to disappoint you, Sasuke. And now, I'm saying it in advance.
"I thought you'd invite me in," came his soft voice. It was a bit raspier than in my memories, though.
"Not verbally. You talk too little, I can't even recreate your voice in my head, like I could in the past."
"I've got nothing in particular to say." It was more than enough that I had to talk a lot when we first saw each other at the airport. My throat still hurts, I usually go days without even muttering a word.
"You should. We haven't seen each other for 7 years, do you really have nothing to say to me? Look, I'm sorry for lashing out at you earlier, but that doesn't give you the right to remain grave-silent."
"What would you want me to tell you?" He finally moved from the doorstep, closing the door behind him. He really changed in all these years. He's not shy anymore, and he seems to actually get along with Madara. The only thing that remained the same is his curiosity. He's always so curious, always wanting to know more. Somehow, he's caught my interest; just like he always did before. But unlike him, I don't ask. I observe.
"Still like red and black?" he asked suddenly. I only nodded. I was a bit surprised to see that he'd even use the kindergarten questions in order to get me to talk. And I must admit, he looks funny all concentrated like that. "How tall are you now?"
"1,78." He seems to be a few centimeters shorter. But he's only 15, he'll still grow.
"I'm 1,72. That's not fair. I always wanted to be taller than you, you know? It's almost like a challenge for me now, to get to 1,80!"
Maybe he was waiting for me to say something in retort… I didn't.
"Madara said you have a strange body." So I was right about Madara checking me out. "I can see what he meant now." And would you please share?
"My body's perfectly fine."
"No, it's not! If you're ever curious enough to see what I mean, ask Madara. Even if he hasn't told me, I'm sure we got to the same conclusion. Take care when you're…"
"Yes?" He stopped for a second, and looked down. It was obvious from his posture that he wasn't quite willing to continue what he started saying. Still, he looked at me again and spoke almost inaudibly.
"Take care at school. It's full of assholes there, and you know, with long hair and… just be careful, okay?" His face was suddenly red, and only then I caught what he was trying to say. I really hoped nobody would comment on that. It's not my choice that I grew up slender like this.
"Sasuke?" He was still looking down, with blushy cheeks, almost as if he was ashamed of letting me know that I'm the most probable target of the queers from his (our?) school.
"Eh, yes? Sorry, I'm being jumpy lately. I don't think very much before talking, ne? I mean, I missed you a fucking whole lot, and now my brain's all mushy, you see? You were gone for so long, and you changed a lot. I'm almost afraid that I'm not up to your standards anymore."
At that moment, he raised his head and saw my questioning gaze, so he further elaborated. "Madara told me you're probably not gonna spend too much time with me, and that you only sleep and read… nothing else. And when I look at you, I realize that it's almost like you belong to the silence, surrounded by your books. And I'm kind of intruding here, because I want to have you back, after 7 years. Argh, I'm making no sense here, damn it!"
A frown adorned his face once again, as I was thinking of his words. Did he really feel like that, after only 12 hours with me? He's rushing to conclusions already.
"You're not intruding. I'm not used to talking to people, that's it. I can't go back to my 11-year-old self. Give it some time, you're still not used to being around me."
"And I like it that you're trying to talk to me, but your mere presence makes me nervous. I'm scared that we really have nothing in common anymore, and that we won't be able to talk! Maybe you remember that ever since I was a little kid, I found silence awkward." Yes, I recall that. "And that's why I talk a lot now. Usually, at school, I'm the cool and silent one, but when it's just the two of us, if I don't talk, then you certainly won't! You're making me ramble like an idiot, for God's sake! I feel retarded."
"If you have no idea what you want to talk to me about, then why did you come to my room?" He bit his lip the moment I got mid-sentence, and then crossed his arms, looking troubled. Sasuke is one interesting kid, that's for sure. If only it weren't so dangerous, I'd look him directly in the eyes. There are so many emotions at once playing in those black orbs, it's fascinating. I could go through hell and heaven, and still not be as expressive as he is. I think the eyes are the only thing I truly envy at Sasuke.
"Well, you see…" he started quietly. I almost forgot I've asked him a question. " You're so different now that I want to re-discover you. You're so silent; you never let anything you think at the surface! I want to know you like I used to when we were kids, to be able to guess your thoughts. You can't possibly imagine how much I miss our childhood."
"It almost sounds like a declaration of love," I commented for myself, when I felt a light punch in my shoulder.
"Don't twist my words, I'm being very serious here! It's Madara's fault I'm being so open, he told me to always say what's on my mind, so don't blame me!" Madara really spoiled him. If I ever talked my mind with father, he'd chop my head off. Although, that makes Sasuke all the more interesting. He's probably the only Uchiha to ever act on impulse, just like that.
I raised my hand and poked him in the forehead. For a moment, I felt like a child again, when Sasuke's only allowed impulse was to play with my hair. I wonder if he tried braiding Madara's like he did with mine.
"You know, Madara regretted telling me to act on impulse. I almost ruined him once. And he couldn't escape once he allowed me to braid his hair. It was fun." Speak of the devil. I can certainly assume Sasuke has a thing for long hair. When I wasn't at home, he'd braid mom's. And she was the only one who honestly didn't mind.
"When are you going to sleep?" he asked out of the blue.
"Around 11, and that would be in half an hour. Why?"
"Oh, I was just asking. I'll leave then. You must be tired after today, right? I don't want to pester you anymore." I'm sorry to be a burden. Sounds so familiar to the past...
I didn't have a chance to answer (although I wasn't going to), as he stormed out of my room. I pretended I didn't see his sad eyes, when he closed the door with a loud thud. I pretended I didn't lie about my sleeping hour, when he came inside my room, at midnight. I pretended I didn't feel a thing when he laid glued to me, holding my hand tight. Unfortunately, he doesn't remember that I am the morning person between us two, if his plan was to leave before I woke up, leaving no evidence of ever being here. But I did have a nice sleep. It reminded me of childhood, when we'd always sleep together because he was waking up in the middle of the night, feeling lonely. He's still my otouto, after all these years.
A/N: Last reviewed chapter. I like writing from Itachi's POV a lot more, because he's a lot closer to my writing style. let's see what I'll come up with for Sasuke's (3rd chapter). Stay tuned. Please review. -Ioio