Note: I hate writing disclaimers, but I feel this is necessary: I first wrote this years ago and I don't think it's an accurate reflection of my current writing. The writer in me desperately wanted to edit the hell out of this, but I decided to leave it untouched. Out of respect for my fifteen-year old self, I suppose.
His father was a man of few words, but Sasuke learned very early in life that his father's words were never as meaningful as the messages spoken through his eyes. Yet, words were much easier for a boy to understand.
One afternoon, his father pulled him aside and pointed to a building in the distance.
"You see that building over there?"
"Isn't that where you work?"
"Yes, it's the headquarters of the police force. Our ancestors created that organization, and to this day, our clan maintains it. My aspirations for this family are the same. I expect my children to be the pillar that supports this family. I expect you to become a great shinobi."
After hearing his father's words, Sasuke trained with his shuriken until late at night, determined more than ever to become a great shinobi. Just like his father.
The next morning, Sasuke found himself alone with his mother as she prepared their breakfast. He drank a glass of water, then paused mid-gulp, and asked, "Why didn't father become Hokage?"
"Don't be silly. Of course your father can't become Hokage."
His mother only smiled and continued stirring a bowl of eggs.
He continued training night and day. His father sometimes watched him practice, and there were times his eyes shone with a hint of pride, but not compassion.
Then, the day came in which he finally mastered the Goukakyuu. He demonstrated, and looked to his father for approval. For a second, his father looked genuinely surprised.
"As I expected, you are my child."
It was in that moment that something else flickered in his father's gaze. Something unrecognizable.
Then, the moment was gone and his father turned and retreated to the house. He watched his father and vowed to become just like him one day, powerful and proud.
To Sasuke, his father was infallible.
My children are my crippled pride.
If he was to describe his mother in one word, that word would be gentle.
"Go to sleep, Sasuke," his mother said as she helped him into bed.
Sasuke slipped underneath his blanket with a small pout. "Can't I practice a little longer? I started using the kunai and-"
"Go to sleep," she repeated with a small smile, then silently left the room. She didn't check on her son, not even when she heard him grab his kunai pouch and climb through his bedroom window.
Sasuke often wounded himself while training, and his mother was always the person who tended to him. After bandaging the wound, she softly warned Sasuke to be more cautious, and then quickly returned to her housework.
His mother was truly a reliable, kind woman.
But kindness is not love.
His brother was very distant lately. More than usual. Whenever he approached Itachi, he had a blank look on his face, as if his mind were somewhere else entirely. Even to a child, it was obvious that something was not right.
It took several days for Itachi to finally speak to him.
"Why are you scrubbing the floor?"
Sasuke looked up from where he sat on the wooden walkway, a large sponge in his hands. "Mom told me to. She said I'm old enough to have more responsibilities."
Itachi seemed to frown slightly upon hearing this. "You shouldn't always listen to everything they say."
"It's not wise to be so trusting of others, not even your own family."
"Not even you?"
Itachi smiled in a way that made Sasuke slightly uncomfortable, then wordlessly walked past.
Later that day, Sasuke spotted Itachi in the backyard, leaning against a tree and watching the sky. Sasuke sat next to him and asked, "What are you doing?"
Itachi continued gazing at the sky. Sasuke picked at the grass beside him, then suddenly stated, "I wish I could be as talented as you are."
Itachi visibly winced at that statement. He looked slightly off to the side, as if carefully considering how to respond.
After a long pause, he said, "Genius isn't a talent. It's a potential... a capacity."
Sasuke's silence was a telling response. He didn't understand.
No matter. Sasuke was always willing to learn.
I, too, was once a child.
He now resides in a one-room apartment and lives alone. He often keeps to himself, because he realized long ago that adults never really listen to children.
Trust, loyalty, and friendship are ideas he finds difficult to accept. To the few he considers companions, he remains withdrawn.
He doesn't keep photographs because he knows that memories are too painful to cherish. For him, there isn't anything left in the world worth believing in.
Yet, he never allows himself to cry. Instead, he goes to the training grounds and beats into the logs and earth, until his knuckles bleed and he's too physically exhausted to even think.
On some days, life feels a little less mundane, and he wants to feel content, but he can't.
Not yet. Not yet. Not until...
I would do anything to be happy.