Bolts of lightning reflected off of Itachi's eyes as he watched the downpour of rain drench the land outside. The torrential storm appeared to capture every aspect of emotion warring within Itachi; a cacophony of thunder shook the mansion, and Itachi wondered if it may simply collapse and bury them all. Observing the storm was all Itachi had to do, as he wasn't allowed out, or to touch anything within the room. Time had fallen to an unbelievably sluggish pace, to the point Itachi had begun to wonder if it had frozen altogether; one moment he had been in a whirlwind, and now it had all crashed to a halt. However, he was certain the reprieve would not last. Two days has passed since his first arrival into Hiruma, but the spirits above had been gracious to him; Kurama had spent nearly all of his time out of the room. He had only been by once or twice, to sleep or to hand Itachi a meager bowl of food. Still, Itachi supposed anything was better than nothing.

The unwavering concern for Sasuke boiled beneath the surface of Itachi's calm exterior. In the two days here, he hadn't seen his younger brother; surely he wasn't being treated in a similar way… The hope that Naruto was different was what kept Itachi from panicking. As long as Sasuke kept his mouth shut this had a chance of succeeding. All Itachi had ever wanted was to keep Sasuke safe, to give the younger what he needed; that chance hadn't come in the form Itachi would have wished for. Complaint wasn't an option despite the caustic circumstances. If Sasuke was safe, out of the elements and away from the manic people that were frantic to kill them both, then Itachi was willing to accept the vituperation Kurama would throw at him. Naruto had been said to have a dark side to him- but not nearly to the extent of Kurama, who was known for his brutality both in and out of battle. From the pieces of information Itachi had gathered through the years, Naruto was not a cruel person. Itachi could only hope it was true.

Nightmares of the fateful night of the abduction had plagued Itachi, and the constant question of what could have been done differently was a haunting echo. It was a question Itachi had had for most of his young life; what could have been done to prevent disaster? If anything at all, would he have been capable of it? Perhaps had he been faster to notice something was wrong then he and Sasuke would not have ended up as starving street children when everything spiraled downwards. The entirety of Itachi's life had been dedicated to guarding Sasuke, to protecting him; he would continue until he died, no matter the cost. The heavy questions hunched Itachi's shoulders and calloused hands reached up to cup his face. Dwelling on the past brought no good, but how was one to stop their mind from wandering when there was no sentient leash for it? Itachi's life had been built of bests. Be the best fighter, best intellect, and best leader. For now, Itachi was only concerned with being the best brother, even if Sasuke deemed him otherwise.

Snapped from his agony of reverie by the thunder threatening to crack the world, Itachi found himself grateful for the storms he so often loathed. They usually meant a struggle to find shelter, but tonight under a roof was when Itachi could appreciate the peaceful rain. It was as if a great beast in the skies was heartbroken, and was crying onto the earth to share its sorrows. The window kept him safe, though Itachi almost wished the thunder would shatter it; he was trapped within this unwelcoming room, locked inside with only the dust for company. The previous night Itachi had asked Kurama to let him out, to see his younger brother if only for a moment; but the only response he had earned was a derisive laugh. Kurama was amused at keeping the brothers apart, to stir the worry and loneliness into a combination fit to destroy someone from the inside out. Itachi wondered how Kurama would handle being forcefully separated from Naruto, certainly he would fight to reunite with the younger boy.

Itachi's ebony tail flicked across the ground when lightning struck nearby, the vibrations shot through his body as electricity collided with earth in an ancient battle; the show was magnificent, but it was cut short by the dreaded sound of the door being shoved open. The only person that would enter the room would be Kurama, who Itachi had hoped would be spending more time in training. The redheaded prince was next in line for the throne and was going through extensive studies and training in order to become a decent young ruler.

Itachi himself had been preparing for his future coronation and he had retained all of his lessons, though he may never have need for them. Presumably it wouldn't be long before Kurama took the throne, despite seeming to have much more to learn. Some things could only be taught to those with open minds. The world and people changed inconsistently and if you closed your eyes how could you ever hope to evolve? In order to lead a kingdom you had to see from the eyes of your people, or you could never hope to understand them; and where there is no understanding and empathy, there is no loyalty and trust.

A glance was spared in Itachi's direction as Kurama entered the room, noting the rigid stance of the Uchiha. "Afraid of a little storm are you, cat?" Kurama's voice was laced with taunt, his intentions to antagonize Itachi until he received a reaction ever present. Itachi didn't deign himself to respond; Kurama disliked being ignored however, and he wouldn't stand for it. "Answer me when I talk to you, you brat." Kurama seethed the harsh words, his hands clenching at his sides as if he struggled not to lash out and bruise that pretty face of Itachi's.

The derogatory term persuaded Itachi to face Kurama. The prince's hair was damp, as if he had been in the rain and only half attempted to dry himself off. "I didn't think it required an answer." Itachi's voice was clear and steady despite its impassiveness. He didn't wish to anger Kurama just yet- though that seemed impossible to avoid, he still needed a better read on the older man, to learn how to gauge his reactions.

Crimson eyes narrowed in disapproval of the attitude Itachi was exhibiting. "You're said to be such a genius, why don't you learn to watch that mouth of yours before it gets you into trouble?" Kurama was already frustrated from his earlier work with his advisor; he didn't need Itachi's help in furthering his irritation. It was the only use an Uchiha had however, to cause trouble with every step they took.

The suggestion didn't go unheard, though Itachi didn't outwardly express any diffidence. He was growing exasperated with Kurama and it was beginning to show in the scowl that overtook his expression. "First you are annoyed if I do speak, then you become annoyed if I don't. I don't understand." Itachi's words were spoken with decency and yet Kurama still found fault with the words.

"I wouldn't expect a foolish little neko to understand anything." Kurama snapped, his crimson eyes glowed with rage and gave them the appearance of embers. Itachi held the fierce gaze despite the chill it sent down his spine; Kurama was capable of awful things, and he was perfectly willing to commit them. Onyx eyes reflected a slight hint of anger at the insult to his kind as Itachi rose gracefully from the ground in order to stand on more equal grounds.

"Only a fool insults an entire race based on his bigoted opinions." Itachi's cold words struck Kurama silent, leaving the redhead wide eyed and speechless with shock at the brazen defiance. "You likely have very limited knowledge about my kind. We are no different than any other." The sharpness of Itachi's tone filled the entire room, mimicking the chastisement of a young child.

Sparks of rage ignited in Kurama's blood and the fire travelled through his veins like a toxin. He straightened to his full height to glare down at Itachi with the threat of violence. "Your pathetic kind has never been any good for anything. The most a neko is capable of is running, that's the only reason you all have survived, it's because you run from everything!" The vicious words scalded the air like acid once they left Kurama's mouth.

The ignorance in Kurama's words made Itachi's lips curl in disgust. Every race had its own way of surviving- speed was the key to escape and they had evolved to be one of the fastest creatures to roam this planet. It was not a feat to be taken lightly, for the nekos had taken down several other races in the long war; they were a force to be reckoned with and Kurama would do well not to show such blatant disrespect. Itachi had limited knowledge of the Uzumaki bloodline, yet he could recall his mother speaking of the queen; Kushina. She'd had the blood of fauna running in her; the fox demon. "What differences do you see between us?" Itachi demanded the answer, too prideful to dare back down from Kurama. "We are just as strong as you are, merely in a different way."

Itachi was uncertain if the obvious hatred Kurama harbored for him was directed at the Uchiha clan specifically or if it was branded for the entire neko race. How nescient it was to loathe an entire race; how did Kurama hope to be king if he was racist towards certain beings? What if they revolted against Kurama in response to the unjust treatment? If there wasn't equality for all, another war would brew soon enough; and the world could not survive that.

Glistening fangs were bared in a snarl as Kurama's eyes glinted with the earlier threatening anger. It triggered a reflex within Itachi and he began to struggle with his instinct and common sense; the median was to force himself to remain stoic even when his muscles itched to lash out in self-defense. Kurama buried a fist in Itachi's long hair and pushed the Uchiha down onto his knees. The loud impact of bone against wooden floor reverberated through Itachi's body and the collision echoed off the walls along with a grunt of pain. Jaw clenched tightly, Itachi swallowed any protest; it would only encourage Kurama's obvious enjoyment of the situation.

Abysmal eyes regarded Kurama coldly as Itachi denied an expression of pain even as Kurama yanked his head back to expose a pale throat. Nerves wracked with the knowledge that Kurama could easily slit his throat, Itachi closed his eyes. Kurama wouldn't, not when he still had so much to gain from Itachi before finally being rid of him.

"Listen to me you filthy rat. Your pride is nothing here, and I suggest you let it go before I break you of it." Kurama's snarl was right beside Itachi's ear, sending a vehement shudder through the neko's prone body. Unable to pinpoint exactly what had caused Kurama to snap, Itachi wondered how anyone could trust the man as a king when his fuse was impossibly short.

"Violence isn't a symbol of strength. I suggest you get it under control, it reflects rather poorly on a future king." The words were barbed with thorns, and courageous as they were Itachi's insolence earned him only pain. With a harsh shove Kurama let Itachi fall to the ground in front of them and Itachi had to brace his hands in front of him to avoid slamming his face into the floor.

"We'll see how high and mighty you are once you've been knocked down a few pegs." Kurama hissed, vexed with Itachi's refusal to crack. He was going to break Itachi, whether it took days, months or a year. Their punishment had finally come. He hated the arrogant way Itachi held himself, the strength evident in the depths of his eyes; as if he had any right to keep that pride so close when the filthy animal was a traitorous piece of trash that had run. The Yoru Ōkoku was responsible for the devastation in the war, now it was sweet to see it all come to an end. Kurama would savor his chance to bring justice to those that deserved it.

Itachi's gaze was fastened to the ground, now cautious of where he stepped on the ice he was treading. It had been made clear Kurama had no qualms with resorting to physical punishment, and with the redhead as temperamental as he was Itachi realized he had to learn where to step without breaking the razor thin sheet of patience Kurama had. Itachi still had someone to protect. A satisfied smirk curved Kurama's lips. "Seems you might not be so difficult to tear down after all."

Slowly, Itachi's eyes raised up to meet Kurama's, his icy expression clearly telling Kurama everything he needed to know, even as his voice remained silent.

Glass is breakable, beings are not.

Naruto ran a hand through his untamed hair with a stressed curse; the papers kept coming no matter how many he sifted through. Both he and Kurama were being suffocated underneath the endless work required to repair their broken system. It was a sea of hopelessness when the war had been occurring; every resource had gone into battle and defense, with the war having finally reached an end the focus turned to fixing the damaged land. There were still people rioting, those that disagreed with the recent declaration of peace; Naruto was sending guards to keep the people calm and to prevent any violence. The last thing they needed was their citizens turning on each other.

People were on edge and living in fear of a surprise attack from the Yoru now that the guard was down. Currently the main concern was distributing food and water to the people in the most need of it; those that had lived in bombed areas where the land had been scorched. Kurama was in a meeting to discuss the need for certain resources; wood and construction supplies along with food claimed top priority. Numerous villages had suffered severe damage or complete annihilation of buildings and stores that carries their goods; rebuilding the ailing kingdom was going to take hundreds of volunteers and countless hours of diligence.

Naruto rubbed his temples, the aching feeling of inadequacy was sickening. How could he help his people when they were struggling to scrounge up the simplest of necessities? People were lining the streets, demanding something be done about their starving and crumbling towns. No one had been out of reach of the war, the entire land was heavily scarred and it would forever remain that way. Hopefully Kurama came to a deal with the Yoru about the even split for resources. Certainly both lands were struggling, yet for their people they had to set aside petty grudges and find a middle ground. The war might have been over, but the danger was not and Naruto was not going to let his kingdom fall to ruin after they had fought so hard to survive thus far.

He felt as if millions of lives weighed on his shoulders tonight. A glance spared at the corner reminded Naruto how alone he was right then. He hadn't really had much of a chance to sit down and talk with Sasuke in the past couple days due to being indescribably busy with the damage that needed to be assessed and the plans that needed to be formulated in order to find some way to make it through the oncoming weeks. There was a lot to be done without any idea of where to begin. The progress was going to be painfully slow, yet as long as there were steps forward Naruto couldn't care less what the pace was.

Sasuke had been edgy and restless and had taken to pacing the room incessantly; Naruto was certain the neko was going to wear a trench into the floor. The blond had been hesitant to allow the boy out of the room due to Kurama's warning against it. However keeping someone locked up in a room for days on end seemed ridiculously unfair, Naruto himself would have already lost his mind, so he had left the door unlocked to allow Sasuke a little freedom. He didn't know where the neko had gotten off to, but with the collar secure on him there wasn't a chance of escape. He could only wander the mansion; which hopefully tired him out.

Sasuke was a quiet shadow as he moved soundlessly through the maze of corridors. It was an old habit, he didn't want to alert anyone to his presence. After his thousandth try of the door it had actually opened today; though whether the door had pitied Sasuke or Naruto merely left it unlocked was to remain a mystery. As he ventured through the mansion in search of Itachi, Sasuke would tug and claw at the collar clasped around his throat in a humiliating symbol of slavery. No matter how much force he used the damned thing wouldn't break. The failure added to his rancor for the entire situation and people involved in his imprisonment; Sasuke would like to see them have a taste of their own sadism.

Despite the collar Sasuke kept a sharp eye for any escape routes; someday this collar would come off and Sasuke needed a plan already prepared. If anyone expected him to sit idly by like a damsel in distress then they had another thing coming. Onyx eyes flashed formidably when they caught the sunlight; Sasuke's best efforts to avoid the bright light were proving fruitless. He wasn't adjusting well to the Hiruma, nor did he really care to. Just as Sasuke had turned a corner a familiar aura caught his senses; instant recognition caused an exuberant smile to adorn Sasuke's expression, a welcome change from the cold scowl he'd worn several days straight. Caution was thrown to the wind, forgotten in the dust as the Uchiha took off at a dead run past the winding hallways.

The corridor opened up into a grand room, a crystal chandelier hung from the ceiling and the furniture seemed fit to host huge masses of people. Sitting on the couch was Sasuke's target; Itachi had barely enough time to stand before Sasuke had thrown himself at the elder. Collapsing back onto the couch with Sasuke in his arms, Itachi gently stroked the younger's hair as he murmured soft reassurances. Relief swelled in his chest as he cast a critical look over Sasuke to ensure the teenager was unharmed. At least physically, Sasuke seemed perfectly well. There was more color to his cheeks and his eyes had lost the heavy exhaustion that had been anchoring in their depths; a couple of nights of rest and food had already had a great improvement. Itachi rested his chin atop Sasuke's head as he basked in the simple joy of having his little brother with him again, safe. It had been far too long since the teenager had had the promise of safety. In the wild he was never rested, never full, and constantly fearing for his or Itachi's life.

Here, Sasuke needn't worry about any of those things. Itachi had been harboring gut-wrenching guilt over allowing this capture to happen; but he'd been forced to look at the bigger picture, not just the tiny pieces that he'd been holding. Sasuke was young, he didn't deserve a life on the run where every turn awaited danger. He needed a safe place to grow up, where someone was going to see to it that he was fed and looked after. Naruto seemed to be doing much better than Itachi had ever been capable of. Besides, it wasn't only he and Sasuke that were being affected; the entirety of their kingdom benefited from the treaty, and they had been part of it. If they broke it, there would be no predicting what might befall their people. This was not the best place to be, and certainly not a position Itachi had ever expected to be in; and yet it was the best he could do for Sasuke to keep him alive. To keep their kingdom from falling to ruin under the wrath of the Hiruma.

At least here, under the watch of the prince, no one could reach Sasuke. Itachi knew his thoughts would be despised by Sasuke; but he would much rather the teenager be safe and healthy, even if cost their relationship. Anger could twist even the calmest of men's senses. Finally, Itachi opened his mouth to break the peaceful silence that had settled over them. "Are you alright?" He inquired, simply because Sasuke looked well didn't mean there wasn't something going on behind doors. Itachi had to be certain.

Sasuke pulled back in order to get a better look at his brother; he appeared tired, but he didn't look hurt. Despite the obvious venom in his eyes, Sasuke knew what Itachi's question was meant for. "I'm fine. Are you hurt? You look exhausted." Sasuke stated flatly as he reached up and traced a finger over the dark circles under Itachi's eyes.

The elder smiled tiredly. "I'm merely adjusting." Itachi chose his words carefully as to not raise alarm in Sasuke, for he didn't want to disclose what had been happening with Kurama. Itachi didn't trust the redhead enough to slip into a deep sleep, thus he wasn't getting nearly the sleep he needed. Fortunately he had always been a light sleeper, thus Sasuke didn't question his explanation. Itachi cleared his throat in preparation to address the elephant in the room. "How are you adjusting?" The question was risky, and judging by the odious expression on Sasuke's face it was a mistake.

"What do you think?" Snapped the teenager in disbelief Itachi would even ask such a thing. They were here as slaves, not as welcome guests. How on earth were they supposed to feel? Itachi had anticipated that response, but it didn't stop the weary sigh from escaping his lips. Sasuke was like a bird; they needed to be free, not caged. But birds also needed protection, and if it meant keeping them safe and guarded then their wings were clipped. Itachi couldn't stand the thought of doing this to Sasuke; but there was no other choice in his vision. Urgently, Sasuke spoke up again, his hand grasped at Itachi's. "We need to find a way out before someone finds us." Sasuke wasn't going to pass up this opportunity now that it had been handed to them on a silver platter. If anyone could figure out how to deactivate the collars it was Itachi, he only had to hurry.

Sasuke's eyes narrowed in confusion when Itachi pulled his hand back. "Sasuke, I can-"

Itachi was cut off by Sasuke before he could even complete the sentence. "We don't have time for this! We have our chance now, we might not get one again!" Sasuke's voice had taken a pleading tone, too frantic to escape to listen to reason. A feeling of dread began to eat away at the hope Sasuke had first felt upon finding Itachi; wasn't his brother as determined to break out as he was?

"Sasuke, listen to me." Itachi's tone held an edge that commanded Sasuke to freeze and obey. Impatiently gritting his teeth together as he fell still and awaited Itachi's explanation, Sasuke had a gut-wrenching feeling he was not going to want to hear the words. "Look around you." Itachi gestured to the grand room. Sasuke hissed in annoyance; he had been looking at this inordinate hellhole for days, he wanted out of it now.

"What are you going on about?" Sasuke demanded in confusion and steadily growing anger. He wasn't in the mood for Itachi's cryptic words. Nothing had made sense in the past few days, why couldn't Itachi be the one to be understandable?

"You look better than you have in months." Itachi stated emphatically, his gaze held Sasuke's glare with ease for he was used to the teenager's temper. Sasuke was old enough to learn he needed to look at the logic instead of blindly crashing along in rage. "You're safer here than I could ever hope to keep you out there." The words were gentle but firm as Itachi attempted to convey his thoughts to Sasuke without upsetting the younger.

Realization dawned across Sasuke's expression; stunned, he dropped Itachi's arm and backed away from the older boy. The comprehension weighed him down like an anchor; why did Itachi have to be the one to drag him further into the depths? "You can't be serious." Sasuke breathed, his head shook in refusal to believe Itachi. "Have you lost your mind?! This is our death sentence!" Sasuke seethed, his hands trembled with rage as he gazed at a man he wasn't' sure he knew anymore. "We lost everything we fought so hard for in a single day. Our freedom was torn right out of our hands, and you don't even want to fight for it?" The bitter taste of disgust scalded Sasuke's stomach at Itachi's apathy towards this dire situation. Itachi had never been a coward, so why was he surrendering now of all times? Why was he giving up on Sasuke?

Itachi couldn't possibly expect Sasuke to sit idly by while everyone else trampled over them, the elder had to know better. The two of them were undeserving of this and someone had to pay for this deplorable enslavement. "We have nothing now!" The truth of this was shattering.

Itachi did not waver under Sasuke's hateful look or tone. "We had nothing to begin with, Sasuke." He shook his head morosely, and he began to continue; but Sasuke didn't wish to hear any of it.

"We had our lives, Itachi! Our independence, our dignity! We had each other, and it was all we ever needed!" Sasuke's voice strained with the threat of losing his composure. "We're useless in their eyes. They'll grow tired of us, Itachi. What do you think is going to happen then?" Sasuke couldn't let Itachi give up like this; not after so long spent on building their lives up from the ashes. If they stayed here they were certain to die. That wasn't something Sasuke would allow to happen, not after all the time spent to survive, to remain liberated. Not after so much.

"That was not living, Sasuke. There is a difference between living and scrapping along to survive. You were hurt, starving and exhausted living on the run." Itachi never raised his voice as he struggled to play the role of the patient guardian he had learned to be; fire could not be fought with fire. Sasuke could be kept out of the inferno here; and besides their own lives…Itachi closed his eyes. "This isn't just about us, Sasuke. There are other people at stake. Slowly dark eyes opened to pin a remorseful gaze onto Sasuke. "Millions of people are involved in that treaty. If we break it by abandoning this kingdom, by running away again, it will cause tension that the world cannot handle." Itachi reached out to place a comforting hand on Sasuke's shoulder, but the teenager ducked away as if Itachi's touch might burn him

The knowledge that decades of war was finally coming to an end was surreal; yet to know they were a part of the treaty meant it fell onto their shoulders to help keep the peace between warring worlds. The thought that his precious brother might have to suffer here was a resentful idea, but Itachi knew that Sasuke had a chance here; and he was going to make sure that the teenager got that chance, even if it meant forfeiting their freedom.

Sasuke should have simply dragged his brother along earlier instead of giving him a chance to open his mouth. "Look at yourself. You're willing to destroy everything we worked for, all for the benefit of a few people that brought this war on themselves? That want us dead?!" Betrayal echoed in Sasuke's words with bitter clarity. Itachi was choosing people he didn't even know over Sasuke; all for some lie of peace. Itachi was willing to kill them both to protect the ones that had torn apart the Uchiha's lives.

A chastising look was directed at Sasuke and the teenager certainly didn't appreciate it. Standing around and being treated like a child wouldn't sit right with him, he was the only one making sense in this godforsaken place. Itachi had always stood up for what he believed to be right, even if it meant standing up against their own family when they were younger. "You are acting selfishly, stop thinking only about yourself, Sasuke. What has happened is beyond either of us, even beyond Naruto and Kurama. I highly doubt they chose to suddenly have us thrust upon them." Itachi was the voice of reason even when Sasuke didn't want to face it all.

A harsh snarl followed Itachi's words; how dare the bastard try to defend the people that were controlling them; to defend a kingdom behind the death of their family! "Don't you ever stand up for them! They're the reason we're trapped in this miserable place! Don't you have any self-respect anymore?" Sasuke's voice rose with his ire.

A slow inhale was taken as Itachi tried not to lose it with Sasuke; it wouldn't help the situation. "Our place in helping our people is to stay here. If it's the means to end the suffering of millions of others involved in this war, then yes. I gladly forsake my freedom." Itachi spoke austerely, his attempts to make Sasuke understand were in vain and he was aware of it. His head was held high as he looked down on Sasuke, no longer the kind-hearted brother but instead the leader Itachi had been taught to be. If it means bringing peace to those that desperately needed it then Itachi would be grateful to sacrifice himself; this was all for the greater good, to heal. That Sasuke was pained by all of this ate away at Itachi. Yet, he couldn't alter the past. This was how it had happened, and they had their responsibilities.

Anger finally got the best of Sasuke; he shoved Itachi away from him when the elder reached out. "Those millions of people you're so concerned with had a part in ruining our lives. I don't see how you can care about those that hurt us so much." Voice trembling with enmity, Sasuke found it difficult to even grit the words out. His own brother was turning on him; Sasuke couldn't handle this.

Itachi shook his head, unable to see a way to make Sasuke understand when the boy refused to open his heart. "You can't blame all for the mistakes of some." Itachi knew not everyone had wanted the horrendous deaths to happen; not everyone wanted two children executed. There were plenty of people that still had hearts. "I'm doing this for you." Why couldn't Sasuke see that Itachi only wanted what was best for him? "Stop acting like a child and consider everyone else that will suffer." If being kind wouldn't work, than Itachi wouldn't waste his breath.

Pain shot through Itachi's heart. They were being used to help those that had wanted them gone; none of these people had ever done anything for him or Itachi and yet here the hero was trying to save everyone. "Fine, sit back like a coward and let them do what they want. I'm not going to suffer in silence while the people so hell-bent on killing us rejoice at our expense." Sasuke closed his eyes as the pain entered his bloodstream and spread throughout his entire being. Unable to stand Itachi any longer, Sasuke turned on his heel and stormed down the hallway. They were being punished for something they had never done wrong. Itachi wanted to make everyone else happy- what about their own happiness?

Sasuke felt a voracious desire for vengeance against those that had wronged him. It wasn't the right way to live, but how did he stop? He hated his kingdom for sentencing his family to death, and he hated the Hiruma for stealing what little bit of a life he'd had left.

Itachi called after Sasuke, but the teenager was already gone. With a weary sigh he sat back onto the couch. His only hope was that Sasuke would eventually cool off. Ever since he was a child, Sasuke had always been a stubborn and passionate person; but in the years following their parents' deaths Itachi had noticed a seething hatred growing inside of the young teenager. It was a spreading wildfire that every tiny breeze seemed to empower. Both of them had been tormented by what had happened yet they had coped with it in vastly different ways. Guilt burned in Itachi's chest, for he knew he had hurt Sasuke; but the boy needed to grow up and learn to look from different viewpoints, not just his own. He must learn to care and protect the people around him. Despite where they currently stood, Itachi and Sasuke both possessed royal blood and Itachi knew they had to act like it.

For his entire life Itachi had felt like he needed to escape something; yet he had tried to outrun fate and in doing so he had dragged Sasuke along with him. In the end they ended up exactly where he was trying to avoid.