I know. I'm starting another story.

I'm either completely idiotic or hopelessly masochistic. Maybe both.

But I really need a break from all the fucking s m u t.


This is going to be Naruto x Sasuke in the future (I haven't picked a seme yet, so perhaps that can be a poll I post eventually?). Aren't you guys proud of me? I MANAGED TO KEEP THE ITACHI AND SASUKE SCENES PLATONIC.

This chapter is a little short, I know, but I rewrote and revised and added and cut out so many things...ugrhgghgh.

Thanks so much to Nicki for being this chapter's beta. Less than three. c:

Let's hope this turned out alright. ;-; Okay. Yeah.

Warnings: mentions of violence, angst, and other things I'm too sleepy to list.

I'm also writing this in present tense because I can.


Rage, fury, and hatred: a fraction of the emotions welling in Sasuke's chest as he stares downwards, his eyes trained on the simple headstone jutting out of the rain-softened earth at his feet.

His headstone.

He briefly glances at the wilting red roses sprawled along the grass in front of the marker; they were likely tussled by the wind, and people rarely come back to the private, Uchiha section of the graveyard to straighten things up. His tired eyes drift upwards to the writing carved into the grey stone. He reads the inscription, the one he's memorized by heart, and those three emotions overwhelm him to the point where he feels as though he might scream. He balls his fists at his sides as anger tears through him, overwhelming him, before concentrating right where his heart used to be.

Sasuke Uchiha

July 23rd, 1997 - August 17th, 2012

Precious brother and son whose life was stolen away in the blink of an eye.

Rest in Peace

How can a name, two dates, and a couple of thoughtless words ever sum up what his life was—what it could have been?

Why us? he thinks. It's the same repetitive phrase that has run through his head for the past year, though he has yet to find the answer.

They didn't deserve to die. Sasuke didn't deserve to be stabbed an uncountable amount of times while he choked on the blood rising up his throat. Itachi didn't deserve to have his throat slit as he begged for them to take him instead and let his little brother go.

Why us?

Sasuke was barely fifteen when he died; his thoughts were of nothing but school and trivial matters with friends and family, as well as his promising future. He figured he was invincible, impervious to death's cold grip before it snatched him up and threw him into this pointless existence. His life was just getting started, only to be ripped away in one agonizingly long moment by a nameless, faceless man wielding a sharpened butcher's knife.

Itachi was twenty when he died; he hadn't even had a full taste of adulthood. He, though always the more logical of the two, could hardly imagine death coming so suddenly and mercilessly—especially not to both him and his brother at once.

I want another chance, Sasuke thinks, and the deep sigh he hears only feeds the anger stewing in his gut. I want another chance, he thinks louder, demanding it this time. I want to find himI want to kill him.

Has your hatred really grown that strong, baby brother?

He killed us, Itachi. Murdered us in cold blood.

There's no changing what's already happened.

Sasuke grits his teeth, glaring at his brother through the darkness enshrouding the small cemetery. They can both see perfectly—their kind don't need light to see—and the small, almost pitying smile on Itachi's lightly glowing face only angers Sasuke more.

I'm going to find a way—a way that will work, he thinks, and Itachi shakes his head.

How do you suppose you do that?

I could ask Him a favor.

Itachi's expression sours, his lips downturned slightly with poorly-masked worry.

But that means—

I know what it means, Itachi, but neither of us can ever find rest until our murderer dies. Do you really want to stay like this for another yearor even worse, eternity?

Of course I don't, Itachi thinks, a deeper scowl playing across his lips, but we don't even know who killed us. No one does.

I'll find him.

Itachi shakes his head again as he dismisses the unpleasant subject for later discussion, then turns his sights to his own grave. It's placed right beside Sasuke's. Itachi almost finds it ironic how their bond transcended the barrier of life and death, even in the world of the living.

He, like Sasuke, notices the withering roses lying around and sighs with a small, disappointed shake of his head, then briefly glosses over his own inscription, though he decides not to read it. Reopening old wounds would do them nothing but a disservice.

Mother and father will be here soon to mourn, Itachi thinks, turning to Sasuke. Sasuke nods, and the expression that flits across his face is nothing short of miserable.

We should leave.

Just as the first rays of sun begin to spill over the crest of the mountains in the distance, both boys turn away from their headstones. They begin to walk soundlessly, almost as though their translucent forms glide over the wet dew gathered on the grass beneath them. When they come to a narrow, winding road, they separate, both walking on opposite sides and paying slight attention to the clusters of grave-markers spread around the dark cemetery. Headlights pierce through the light fog ahead of them, but Sasuke keeps his eyes away and forces his mind to wander. Itachi, in contrast, chances a quick glance at the familiar grey car as it passes, but soon wishes he hadn't.

Then the car is gone, taillights fading into darkness as it rounds the bend towards the 'Uchiha' section in the back of the cemetery, and silence weighs thicker than ever.

Sasuke and Itachi wander, as they do every day, silently complaining to each other as the blinding glare of the sun filters into their eyes. They, being pure lost souls, can wander freely during the day. Demons—lost souls who sell their eternity to Him in order to gain greater power—and malicious souls, however, cannot. They're confined to darkness and solitude, though for many such an existence is more than comfortable for someone who's already dead.

"You do realize you'll never be able to see the sun again if you make the deal," Itachi says as they sit on a stone bench in an empty park. Sasuke starts, jumping slightly as he hears Itachi's voice; he wasn't expecting it. He was expecting to sense his brother's thoughts, as he'd grown used to.

Itachi hears Sasuke's confused thoughts, and offers a half-shrug as partial explanation.

"It reminds me of how things were before," he says, and Sasuke nods quickly. He likes it too, actually hearing Itachi's voice; it offers a sense of security he hasn't felt since they were still alive, even though Itachi's voice is a little more hollow than it used to be.

"We just haven't actually spoken in awhile," Sasuke says. He hears Itachi's thoughts of agreement, though Itachi still feels the need to voice them out loud.

"I think we should do it more often," Itachi says. "Who knows when we'll be able to speak to each other again if you..." He trails off, cracks of his feelings slipping through his careful expression.

"At least you'd be able to find peace," Sasuke says; he can feel the weight of Itachi's worry, and wants nothing more than to ease it. He couldn't care less about what happens to himself, but Itachi...

"But at what cost?" Itachi muses, turning his sights to a young couple trekking into the park. He offers them a smile as they patter closer, though he knows they can't see it; the action is involuntary, ingrained from years upon years of being the gentleman he was.

"Some say there are ways around it," Sasuke says, dragging his gaze to his fingers as he plays with his thumbs. "It might not be for forever."

"Just be careful. He likes to play games."

"Of course He does," Sasuke smirks. "They don't call him the King of Liars for nothing."

The bulk of their morning is spent roaming around, though they run into a couple of other ghosts before noon breaks. Thankfully, they're lost as well, and after offering condolences and wishes of good luck, both parties part ways.

As they pass by—and through—countless humans, Sasuke notices for the thousandth time that it's almost like looking through a glass; images are slightly less crisp and defined than they would be if Sasuke and Itachi were truly part of the same plane, and it almost feels like a breeze tousling one's hair and clothes when they make physical contact with a living person. Everything is different, but memories of their lives before get hazier and hazier with every passing day.

It's nearly noon before Itachi and Sasuke make their way to the forest—the place they 'live' in, for lack of a better word, though 'haunt' could fit as well. They don't disturb hikers and walkers, nor do they make their existence known; they find no reason to trifle with innocent humans.

"Are you doing it today?"

Sasuke jumps again; he isn't used to this whole 'talking' thing quite yet.

"I guess," he shrugs. "So do I just...try to talk to him?"

"How would I know?" Itachi says, crossing his arms over his chest as he leans against the large tree behind him; he focuses all of his energy into not falling through and onto the dirt behind it. "All I know is what both of us have been told."

"So I basically have to pray to the devil?"

"That is who you're dealing with," Itachi mutters. "You don't have to do this. You and I could try to track our murderer down together—"

"I've already made up my mind," Sasuke says quickly; it's been the same conversation every time he's brought this up in the past. The last of Itachi's hope dwindles away as he nods, then sighs.

"I trust you to make the decision you feel is best, but I can't help but worry." He smiles sadly, his eyes hazing over with memories from a lifetime ago. "It's what big brothers are for."

Sasuke offers an even sadder smile in return, then sinks to the ground. He crosses his legs Indian style and awkwardly clasps his hands together, wincing as the small 'clap' seems to disrupt the silence of their woods.

"I've never prayed to Him before..." he says after a moment of contemplative silence.

Itachi smirks. "Just think whatever you figure might get His attention."

Sasuke nods, then takes a deep breath to steady his shaky nerves. It's funny how things like nervousness don't go away even when you're dead...

So... Sasuke thinks. I could kind of use your help, if you're there.

No response.

Sasuke scowls, then squeezes his eyes tightly shut.

I could use your help, 'Dark Lord.'

Still nothing.

Sasuke huffs with aggravation; he was never one for being very patient.

"For the love of God," Sasuke mutters under his breath. Itachi chuckles, taking great amusement in Sasuke's one-sided dialogue.


Dead silence.

I want to make a deal, Sasuke thinks, trying to approach things from a slightly different angle. I want to make a deal with my soul.

I'm listening.

Sasuke's eyes snap open just in time for him to see a soft, white light surrounding his transparent body. Itachi watches as well, curious, although more than a little unsettled; making deals with Him has never turned out well in the past.

I said I'm listening, the deep voice repeats.

Right, Sasuke thinks quickly. He knows his heart would be pounding if he had one; he's talking to Satan, for fuck's sake! I want to get revenge on our murderer.

No surprise there. Sick of wandering around?

You could say that.

The deep, dark voice chuckles shortly.

I guess you want to perform the exchange?


You do know what that means, don't you?


The voice pauses for a moment.

Perhaps we should further discuss this in person.

A low creaking seems to resound from deep in the ground below them, and suddenly cracks spread in random directions around Sasuke's body. Sasuke hastily scrambles to his feet, though he doesn't fall once the ground beneath him noisily caves in, and lightly hovers instead; his panic was only out of some remaining human urge for self-preservation.

He glances down, ignoring the sense of dizziness that nearly throws him off-balance, and notices what seems to be a small stairwell inside of the crevice. He also notices the darkness, and his transparent skin tingles with terror-laced excitement.

I'm waiting, Sasuke.

Sasuke glances at his brother, trying his hardest to mask the panic he feels. Facing the Prince of Darkness all by himself...

"Would you like me to come with you?" Itachi asks, flinching under the onslaught of Sasuke's nervous thoughts. The younger pauses for a moment, relief immediately lightening the heaviness of the uneasy churning in his figurative gut.

I'm afraid this conversation is between me and Sasuke. The voice almost sounds bored.

Itachi frowns, but holds his tongue—and thoughts—for fear of angering the powerful man.

"You don't have to do this," he murmurs regardless. "I'm sure there's another way."

"We've exhausted all our options, Itachi," Sasuke says quietly, his expression forlorn. He tries his hardest to crack a smile, though all he manages to achieve is a tired grimace. "I'll see you soon."

Itachi nods, his eyes pricking in a way that lets him know he'd be tearing up if he could.


So Sasuke goes.

The stairs are steep, the corridor is dark. Softly glowing torches line the stone walls as the only source of light, and Sasuke idly runs his fingers along what he assumes to be cool marble. He can't feel the temperature; it's something he never knew was such a privilege until he lost it. Sighing to himself, he notices how thick silence can be as it fully envelops him, body and mind. He's so used to hearing Itachi's thoughts that it almost feels strange to be completely alone; even the voice is silent. Sasuke frowns at his feet, wishing that he could even hear his own footsteps—then, with a bit of effort, he focuses as much energy as he can into his feet. A light pitter-pattering rings through the narrow hall after a moment of concentration, and Sasuke is immediately comforted by the familiar—human—sound.

"You have very good control over your energy."

Sasuke pauses, a palpable shiver running down his spine and to his very core. Sensing the voice was one thing, but hearing it was indescribably chilling.

"Hurry up already," the voice sighs. Sasuke obeys, resuming his footsteps with urgency until the light pitter-patters turn into thundering slaps against the stone below him.

Then he reaches a door.

He skids to a stop, panting from reflex though he feels no urge to breathe. The door itself isn't frightening: it's black, simple metal, with swirling, silver designs acting as a frame. But still, he pauses, wondering if this is truly the right thing to do.

Then shaky, transparent fingers wrap around the silver knob, and it's lightly turned.

As the heavy door creaks open and Sasuke takes a single step inside, a smoldering heat licks up his arms and he yelps sharply, then hisses in blinding pain.


The voice chuckles darkly. The closeness of the sound sends violent shudders through Sasuke's entire body, but he belatedly notices that the odd burning seems to have subsided, leaving behind a feeling of frigid coldness and aching emptiness. He wraps his arms around himself, rubbing furiously out of an old, human habit to try and warm himself, but freezes as his hands grasp something oddly...soft. He glances down at his goosebump-riddled arms, and chokes on the gasp in his throat.

"So," the voice says, drawing Sasuke's wide eyes away from his trembling arms to a form shrouded in darkness, "how's it feel to be human?"

If you know my stories, you know I'm a total ass when it comes to cliffhangers.


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