The boy little Itachi treasures is just the right shade of twisted so that when Madara comes to him a few nights before the coup and says "let him kill you and I'll give you eternal life", the grin splits his deceptively innocent face and he asks "can we do it tonight?"
Madara watches from the shadows as Shisui murmurs into Itachi's hair and coaxes him onto his knees. Little Itachi opens his mouth without protest, movements practiced and mechanical like he's done it a million times.
"He's just a baby. Am I a pervert if I get off on that?" Shisui laughed earlier that afternoon.
"I think we'll get along famously," Madara replied. It's hard not to want a taste of Itachi's little pink mouth, still pouty in his childhood. Soiling innocence is one of Madara's favorite pastimes.
"I can give you power," Madara says, immediately after seeing Shisui, and Itachi's eyes flash with uncertainty. "Power to protect Sasuke."
The uncertainty disappears in an instant, naive resignation taking its place.
"Tell me what I must do," Itachi says, head high. Madara allows himself to imagine how sweet his pale, elegant throat would taste.
"You must kill your closest friend."
Shisui comes with a silent shudder, hand crushing against the back of Itachi's skull to keep him in place. Itachi pulls away with much more grace than he should, having just performed oral sex on a cousin eight years his senior.
"Let's go to the Nakano," he says, voice scraping a little.
Shisui gives him a grin and a pat on the head. "Yeah, sounds good, little guy."
Madara slips into the spaces in between the shadows and waits at the south bank of the river.
He doesn't have to wait long.
"I'm so sorry," Itachi whispers, pulling Shisui under the surface of the river. Shisui puts on a great show, thrashing and clutching at Itachi's wrists, milking every ounce of guilt he possibly can from Itachi's raw, young heart. But Itachi's love for his little brother is stronger than his remorse, and eventually Shisui stops struggling.
Itachi lets go, and Shisui's body floats downstream. Madara slips through space until he's at Itachi's back, and lifts the child into his arms.
"You did well," he croons. Itachi's youth makes him vulnerable to the false comfort, and he buries his face in Madara's neck and cries.
Madara would like to take him like this, raw and new, but he hasn't fulfilled his whole purpose yet.
Itachi composes himself and goes home. Madara travels a short distance down the river and lifts Shisui's cold body from the water, warping the time-space around them and laying Shisui down in a small pocket of nothingness.
His blood is sweet, but not as sweet as Madara imagines Itachi's will be. He lets himself indulge a little, pulling back just before Shisui's blood loss becomes fatal.
Shisui's eyes fly open and he howls, convulsing with agony.
Madara watches and waits.
"He's cold," Shisui says, laying a hand against Itachi's neck. Sasuke is long gone, as well as those little Konoha worms.
"It's the rain," Madara says, voice hollow and commanding. "Pick him up."
Shisui lifts his baby cousin into his arms. He's not such a baby anymore--physically, they're the same age--but he'll always have a touch of that delicious purity that attracted Shisui in the first place.
Madara takes them to the same small, decrepit cavern he took Sasuke to, in a different room.
"Teach him," he says, before going off to shatter little Sasuke's mind beyond repair. Shisui lays down with Itachi and snuggles into him, rubbing his nose against Itachi's neck before sinking his teeth into the spot where his pulse flutters weakly.
The taste of him is so good Shisui can't help but press his crotch against Itachi's still thigh, rubbing against him as he suckles pure, hot life from Itachi's neck.
Itachi burns, his every cell screaming in agony, and thinks I must be in hell for my sins.
He wakes in the arms of a monster wearing Shisui's gentle smile, something inside him screaming for blood.
Shisui's eyes are always scarlet now.
"Isn't it wonderful?" he murmurs, trailing white fingers through Itachi's hair. "I never exhaust my chakra. I could fight for days without getting tired. I can use the sharingan all the time." He laughs and it chills sickly up Itachi's spine. "Adds to the effect, too. Red-eyed monster."
"Why didn't you let me die in peace?" Itachi whispers. The lust for blood is strong, pounding through his body, and makes him want to throw up. Shisui strokes both of his clammy hands down Itachi's neck.
"For this," he says, voice shaky with the same excitement he has before draining a victim dry. He digs his hands into Itachi's shoulders and spins him around to face the doorway.
Madara is there. In his arms, Sasuke is unconscious and
drips down his arm from a small cut, the smell overwhelming even from across the room.
Itachi screams and the sound is inhuman, unrecognizable even to his own ears. Shisui locks iron-strong arms around his chest to keep him from lunging at the sweet, young prey in Madara's grip and he chokes out a sob, want ravaging him raw. It burns.
"Not yet," Shisui hisses into Itachi's ear. "Let the little bitch suffer a while for failing his big brother so badly."
Itachi comes to himself again with a sickening lurch--
Watch me, Nii-san!
We only have each other as siblings.
Don't push yourself.
I love you, Nii-san.
My brother isn't like this!
Forgive me, Sasuke. Some other time.
This is the last time.
--and collapses, agony wracking his body until he stops breathing for the sobs and everything goes black.
Itachi makes it three days in that little room, knees pressed to his chest, desire for his little brother's blood threatening to drag him under.
"I love you," he mutters, over and over. "I love you, I would die for you, I love you." He thinks about Sasuke's childhood and the closeness they shared. He thinks about the feel of Sasuke's little body curled against him during rainstorms. He thinks about the sweet, shy smile on Sasuke's face when Itachi praised him. He thinks about Sasuke's need for redemption.
Sasuke whimpers, caught in Madara's genjutsu, and his hand falls to the ground, palm up. Half of Itachi wants to gather Sasuke into his arms and soothe him, while the other has him lurching forward to sink his teeth into the artery fluttering at Sasuke's wrist.
He stops himself, clenches his hands into fists and shuts his eyes, pressing his back against the wall farthest from his brother. "I love you. I love you. I love you."
"Aww, 'Tachi, I love you too."
It's the voice that passes for Shisui's, and Itachi opens his eyes and turns his head to look at the doorway. The monster--Itachi refuses to believe it's his cousin--is smiling, like watching Itachi struggle not to eat his little brother is the most hilarious thing he's ever seen.
"What do you want?" Itachi mutters, nails digging into his palms. The monster barks out a laugh.
"Just that Madara's starting to get bored with you. He says you've got twenty-four hours to sate that bloodlust of yours or he'll take Sasuke for himself," he says, far too blase for the circumstances. Itachi wants to vomit.
Not-Shisui turns to leave the room, pausing in the doorway. "Remember, you break that jugular, it breaks the genjutsu. You'll be putting the poor kid out of his misery." Then he's gone, leaving Itachi to drown in his anguish.
Six hours later, Itachi hasn't moved from the far corner of the room.
Sasuke has begun screaming.
It must be hell, because no other place could conjure such specific torture.
Down to eighteen, now. Itachi buries his face in his knees, trembling.
He'll take Sasuke for himself.
Anger flickers. No matter the choices he's made, Sasuke doesn't deserve to be sullied so thoroughly. Madara toys with his prey before he drains them dry. Sasuke will be utterly broken by the time it's over.
And it will hurt. Madara will make sure of that.
Breaking the jugular will break the genjutsu.
Sasuke does not deserve to live in this half-existence, cold and dry and forced to murder to sustain himself. Sasuke deserves peace.
Breaking the jugular--
Itachi's eyes snap open and he stares at Sasuke's neck. The jugular...
Sasuke deserves peace.
Itachi moves slowly over to his brother and takes him in his arms, cradling him against his chest. "Shhh," he murmurs, stroking back Sasuke's hair even though he can't feel it through the genjutsu--it's a movement of habit, one that always comforted Sasuke as a child. "I'm here."
He lays one hand carefully against Sasuke's neck and presses hard enough to bruise.
Sasuke goes limp, breath coming in harsh gasps. His eyes flutter open, then fill with tears at the sight of Itachi's face.
"Nii-san, I thought I'd never see you again," Sasuke whispers, one small hand coming up to clutch at Itachi's shirt. He smiles, and for an instant Itachi sees him as the child he was, pure and unworried.
He will be at peace.
"Forgive me, Sasuke," Itachi murmurs back. "You're safe now." The hand on Sasuke's neck presses down hard and twists lightning-fast, snapping Sasuke's neck cleanly and swiftly.
Sasuke dies as he should, a smile on his lips, in the arms of someone who loves him.
You can't have him, or me. Itachi gathers Sasuke closer against his chest and forms the seals. I will not be broken, and he will not be tainted.
"Amaterasu," Itachi breathes.