Order of Arrival
Itachi looks at his brother, and two tomoe in each eye look back. Then, he looks at the jinchuriki.
He needs for his brother to acquire power, and there is a path open right in front of him.
The jinchuriki's-Naruto's-death will unlock those eyes, granting his beloved little brother the power he needs to protect himself, and more than that, it will prevent Madara from acquiring the most powerful of the bijuu for a time yet.
The loss of the Yondaime's legacy just seems so small before those two facts.
The decision is simple. The single motion of a knife later, and his brother looks back at him on his knees, the two tomoe replaced by a starburst pattern in each eye.
The mission to retrieve Tsunade continues, and ends in failure. Jiraiya has never been able to convince his teammate to return in the past, and the newfound self-loathing in his heart for letting the last legacy of his student die so simply does not help matters this time.
When he returns, the Council unanimously appoints him the Fifth Hokage. The next day, they hold Naruto's funeral, a small, private affair. Only his closest friends are invited.
Neji and Chouji close their eyes sadly, Hinata, Sakura and Ino sob, Kiba and Lee are uncharacteristically quiet, and Shikamaru, for once, looks completely serious, without a hint of laziness in his expression.
Sasuke merely clenches his fist and grits his teeth.
A week later, Sasuke approaches the Godaime, asking for training, for the power to avenge his best friend's death.
But Jiraiya knows the look in the boy's eyes, and if there is one thing he understands, it is the destruction that unbound hatred can cause.
And so, he shakes his head sadly and tells the boy to return when he has found peace with himself.
Another week passes, and reports arrive saying that Sasuke has defected to the Hidden Sound.
In two years, Orochimaru is pleased with Sasuke's progress. He has manipulated the boy's hatred, making it stronger and stronger as time passes, cultivating it into a blade that can cut even the sharpest steel.
And today is the last day of that careful enterprise.
Orochimaru brings Sasuke to his study, and there, he reveals the truth of Uchiha Itachi to the boy.
How Itachi had killed his clan on the Village's orders.
How he had spared his younger brother out of love.
How, even now, he remained loyal to Konoha, how he had joined Akatsuki to protect it.
Sasuke is outwardly uncaring at the end, but Orochimaru knows that he has struck gold. The carefully-cultivated flames of hatred now burn in the boy as an inferno.
Little does he know that he has unleashed something far beyond his control.
A month later, and Sasuke leaves the Snake Sannin behind, his corpse incinerated by the black flames of Amaterasu, the Mangekyou Sharingan he has so carefully hidden for the past two years now revealed for all to see.
For Sasuke now realizes that he no longer needs power to punish Itachi.
After all, why grant his brother the swift mercy of death, when forcing him to live will be so much sweeter?
Sasuke meets Itachi in the old Uchiha citadel on the outskirts of the Land of Fire.
No words pass between them before the battle begins, both of their eyes twisting, one set into a shuriken shape, and another into a starburst pattern as their Susanoo spring up around them.
The battle lasts hours, during which nearly the entirety of the city in which it takes place is destroyed, but in the end, it is Sasuke who wins, his greater endurance winning out as the hilt of his Kusanagi slams into his brother's stomach.
Itachi is surprised when he awakens a few hours later, his vision now completely clear. In fact, the clarity with which he can now see is almost painful after the half-fuzz the world has been for the past thirteen years.
He is even more surprised when he sees his brother in front of him, the Sharingan that were formerly in the boy's sockets replaced by another, deep blue color.
It takes him only a moment to realize what has happened.
"Why?" he asks curiously.
And his brother smiles. It is not an expression that Itachi would expect to see on a human, let alone the little boy who used to run alongside him in his childhood, lovingly smiling up at him and calling him "Nii-san"
"Because," Sasuke whispers, though his brother can hear him perfectly from where he is sitting, "I want you to remember this moment for the rest of your life, the moment when the person you loved the most died in front of you, and you could do nothing to stop it."
Itachi's eyes widen in understanding, but before he can do anything, Sasuke draws out a kunai, and in a single smooth motion, stabs himself in the heart.
He bleeds out in seconds.
And Itachi, crawling over to his brother's body screams and screams and screams, in sadness, in pain, in utter, soul-crushing despair.
But no one is there to hear him.