Itachi

Itachi wakes up that morning feeling nothing. He’s numb. He’s
lost. He knows what he has to do, and while it hurts him beyond belief, he
doesn’t allow himself to feel any emotion right now. It’s best he put
it out of his mind. 

He sees his mother and father in the kitchen as he leaves the
house. His mother says good morning, his father speaks of nothing but Uchiha
business in passing, as if Itachi will retain any of it that day. He musters a smile for Sasuke when he comes to greet him at the front
door. Otherwise, it’s a dull morning.

Itachi almost regrets making plans with his s/o today, but it’s
their six-month anniversary. Not that he thought semi-annual anniversaries
should be celebrated, but he lacked the drive to tell them that now. He’ll let
them enjoy this day. It’s all he can give them at this point.

He meets his s/o in front of their house. They always liked that.
Waiting to be escorted by Itachi Uchiha was a treat, and the soft smile he always greeted them with was even sweeter. But it’s different today.

He still manages a smile, but it’s not genuine. It’s not a
smile that easily finds his face. It’s forced. It’s sad.

They don’t seem to be bothered by it. They can definitely tell he’s a little off today, but it’s not a pressing concern. If anything
is wrong, they don’t want to pry. 

They know Itachi. Pressures from his father
and ANBU duties take their toll every once in a while. The fact he even found
the time to spend the day with them is all they could ask for, so they won’t
complain. They won’t say anything. It’s the least they can do.

Fortunately, his mood does improve throughout the day. His
smiles look relaxed, he chuckles at jokes, he even puts an arm at the small of
their back every once in a while when they’re alone.

His s/o is relieved. They hoped his gloom wouldn’t last the day. It was selfish of them to think it, but they
couldn’t help it. When Itachi wasn’t at his best, time spent with him seemed
unsatisfactory.

But the shift in his mood is not without slight occurrences that
don’t catch their eye. They catch him staring off every so often, as
if his mind is elsewhere, focused on other things. 

When the conviction finally breaks and they have to ask what’s wrong, he has no answer for them. 

“It’s nothing, don’t worry,” he says. 

He’s so convincing.
Nothing betrays it. So his s/o has to hold their tongue the next time they want
to ask. 

~

They take a walk through the market. Just because it’s an
anniversary doesn’t mean they can’t do casual things. Besides, it’s relaxing.

Itachi remembers midway through their walk that his mother
needed eggs. She ran out that morning. Asked him to pick some up on his way
home as he was out the door.

He makes to buy them, odd as it is that he’s worried with such
mundane things now. What use would she have for these eggs? Why was he buying
them? Why was he doing this? Why did it matter anymore? 

He doesn’t end up buying them. His mother wouldn’t need eggs after today.

It’s after their market trip his mood is once again dampened. No
matter how hard he tries to listen to his s/o’s voice and maintain
conversation, knowing for certain that he needs to take in whatever semblance
of happiness he can while it’s still there, a weight in his chest reminds him
of the horrible deed he must do. And why a criminal like him doesn’t deserve any lasting happiness.

~

They spend the rest of the day near the woods surrounding
Konoha. They go often to relax and enjoy each other’s company. But that’s
impossible for Itachi at this point.

He thought he could ignore the gravity of his duties, to put it
out of his mind and enjoy this one day. So far, it’s worked. But now he can’t. Even looking around the
lush forest hurts him. What was once a source of peace only stands to further
his anxiety.

This is his home. He grew up here. He’s going to be leaving it
behind soon.

He looks at his s/o. They’re smiling, watching the river for
fish that swim close to the bank. He’s going to be leaving them soon too.

Itachi wonders if they’ll hate him. 

He’s thought about it before,
thought about the gossip and discourse that will spread once he does his deed. He’ll
be marked as a rogue ninja, most definitely.

But what will they think? His s/o? Will they believe the rumors that come in the aftermath of this crime, the rumors guessing his motives,
or will they know there was something deeper? Something he couldn’t tell them?

Part of him hopes they don’t hate him. That would hurt him. It
really would.

The other part knows they will, and is glad. Hate will mend the
broken heart he leaves them with.

It’s a horrible thing to settle with. But he knows it’s the only way. Rather
them learn to hate him than remain loving him for the rest of their lives. He’s
willing to be the villain if he has to be. Willing to fuel their anger and
animosity if it means an easier healing process. He can accept that, for them.

~

Itachi sits down with his s/o for one last dinner together. A
place his s/o likes. Their favorite, in fact.

It’s expensive, they protest. But Itachi doesn’t mind. He won’t have much use for money soon.
The least he can do is treat them. It won’t do much in the grand scheme, but…
it makes him feel a little better.

He’s quiet for the most part. Just wants to enjoy his meal.

But at a table next to them, a trio of Uchiha. Itachi recognizes
them. He graduated with one of them. Just three friends, enjoying dinner
together. Joking and chatting. Enjoying themselves. While they still have the chance, Itachi thinks.

Such morbid thoughts bother him, but he’s become more and
more numb as the evening continues. He supposes that’s a good thing. Desensitizing
himself will make it all easier, no matter how awful it seems.

His s/o watches him, watches the ever so subtle flickers of sadness
on his face. So brief they almost don’t see, but they do.

What’s wrong with him today? They want so badly to inquire, but
Itachi isn’t the type to vent even if he wanted to. They feel almost…
uncomfortable asking him anything else.

One inquiry was enough. If he said he was fine, then he’s fine…
at least, that’s what they hope.

“Are you doing anything tomorrow?” It’s the only question
they’ll ask him. Simple, but enough to hopefully shake his damp mood.

The question sends his brain into a blank state.

Such a casual question. So simple. Any other day, such a question wouldn’t seem so grave. He should have an easy
answer, even if it’s a cover up.

But he looks back down into his food and gathers himself,
forcing an easygoing smile and a tone to match.

“Nothing, I don’t think.”

“Oh.”

“What about you?”

The attempt at repartee satisfies them, it seems.

“Nothing really,” they say. “I think I might train with my
brother for a while. He’s been asking me. You know how persistent he is.”

He nods, not knowing what else to say. Communicating is usually
easier than this. Part of him knows that acting casual is the best route. Give
them no reason to suspect something is amiss. Another part feels guilty for
doing so. It’s enough he’s going to betray them, but lying to them now is just as difficult. 

“How is your brother doing at the academy?” he asks.

“Good, I think. He likes it.”

“That’s good.”

Another silence. One they don’t seem to mind. Silence with
Itachi isn’t necessarily abnormal, and though it’s obvious his mood is a little
down, it’s not significant enough to worry them. 

If only they knew.

~

Fortunately for the rest of the evening, conversation doesn’t seem a hard thing to come by. It’s almost enough to relax Itachi, but no such luck. Any semblance or relaxation he has is just a trick. A lie. His mind’s attempt to distract him. 

He walks his s/o home, never one to let them go by themselves. It usually comforts him, knowing they’re safe. It should comfort him now, but it doesn’t. He tries to suppress the harrowing thoughts. But underneath, he feels the dull pain.

More conversation on the walk home. It’s nice. By this time, the numbness has returned. He’s thankful for that. He’s accepted what’s going to happen. And acceptance is better than grief.

They stop at his s/o’s front door. It’s quiet then. 

Itachi looks at them, focused on nothing but them, nothing but the
peace of this moment. Perhaps the last shred of peace he’ll ever have
again. 

“Goodnight,” he tells them. His voice is soft and different than
what they’re used to. Sometimes Itachi has these days, they think. Tomorrow,
he’ll be better. 

He kisses them softly on the cheek, then looks at them one
last time. 

There’s no smile on his face, no light in his eyes. To them, it
looks like sadness. Maybe something was going on at home. Fugaku Uchiha was
such a hard man. They wouldn’t be surprised if he was putting too much pressure
on Itachi. That’s usually what they suspected.

So they consider it sadness. Perhaps, fatigue. He worked so hard all the time. It only made sense.

Unfortunate, but it is what it is.

Tomorrow he’ll be better, they remind themselves. He’s just tired. It’s just fatigue. 

But for Itachi, it’s merely acceptance. 

He’ll never see
them again. If he does, it will be as an enemy. As a traitor. He would rather
not see them ever again than to endure that. But his fate has been decided for him. 

As leaves them that night, he tries not to think about it too much. It’s the only thing he can do. 

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