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Echo

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It had to have been almost a full day into reliving it. It felt less and less like a horror each time I watched my brother slaughter our family. Every time I felt myself unravel just a little bit more but… it seemed like something was creeping closer every time as well. It was like with each death, something behind me would take one step closer—but the visage of Itachi was always in my sight and whatever was coming closer was hidden. I could sense it, but I couldn’t see it and it was cheapening the trauma of watching my family die.

Itachi never noticed, if even it was really him, and that convinced me that this wasn’t part of the illusion. Whatever was coming for me was… all me. Maybe “coming for me” was a bad way to put it. It was more coming to me. Like it was being summoned.

The world spun around me when it finally reached me. Itachi’s little near-genocide attempt on loop moved to behind me while in front of the scene turned… to a cramped motel bathroom.

I’d dragged my sister into the tub and turned the showerhead on. I had no clue what to do at the time. Her lips were turning blue and before then I would have sworn that was some cartoon bullshit. Her head lolled back and she just sort of slide down once the water had lubed up the tiles walls I’d leaned her against.

My knees felt bruised as I knelt on the stained linoleum to get a closer look at her face and to stupidly slap at her cheeks. She’d been conscious when I’d put her in the tub, but for the past hour she’d been just… slowing down and… not breathing.

And at the time I was still high.

I couldn’t comprehend then that she was overdosing. I’d always expected it to be some quick, theatrical event, not just this gradual thing that… I almost missed. I wasn’t so far gone that I couldn’t have called for help or started banging on the walls for the guys in the next room to come help us.

But that would have been worse.

That night had been horrible because one of the guys did come over “check on” us. If I’d made a fuss about her dying, then all four of them would have come over instead of just the one. It was a strategic move on my part—a futile attempt to ensure we, my twin and I, suffered the least.

But it was Chase who had come in and he was the worst and after he’d dragged her out of the tub and broken one or two of my ribs he’d made sure to turn the volume on the TV up all the way and lock the door.

That had been a much worse evening than the Uchiha clan being slaughtered. And suddenly that night was what was playing on loop. Itachi’s little stint—where he’d been crying, and wasn’t that telling?—was a very quick affair. My sister slowly dying because of my stupid idea to lessen our awareness and Chase actively breaking my mind apart had been the longest fucking night of my life. Of that life.

So.

I forced myself to stop trembling, taking the time to acknowledge it wasn’t the bite of the cold sheets making me shake, and sat up in the narrow bed. It was a spacious hospital room with an ANBU in a dog mask leaning against the door. So I was Uchiha Sasuke and not Wyn Briggs right now. Wyn Briggs died in Southport from shock or maybe blood loss. But. Sasuke. Okay. Reincarnation? Probably. It was cruelly funny that in both lives I had to deal with family problems.

Slowly I flexed my hands and then drew my knees up to rest my forehead there and focus on breathing steadily. After some time, though it couldn’t have been more than twenty minutes, I lifted my head up to stare at the ANBU’s vest. I carefully reviewed what I wanted to say in my head just to make sure I’d speak in the language Sasuke knew. “My mouth tastes like vomit.” The ANBU guard didn’t respond. I had no idea how long I’d been awake—or catatonic, whatever.

&

“My name is Yamanaka Inoichi. I’m here to talk to you about what happened.”

I gently speared the baby tomato on my tray and kept my gaze averted from the interrogator. “In what capacity?”

“I work in intelligence gathering. I’d just like to hear your account of things, if you’re up for it,” the man kindly, or hesitantly explained. “I’d also like to know how you’re doing overall.”

I quirked an eyebrow and tapped the tomato against the tray a few times. “Aniki went nuts and slaughtered everyone in the compound and then when I came home he hit me with an illusion where I watched him do so over and over and over. He tried to,” I trailed my words off and then shoved the tomato in my mouth to stall. Itachi wanted to goad me into focusing on revenge but… I don’t know. Shit happens. I didn’t want to waste my second chance at living trying to be an avenger or some ridiculous shit like that. I needed to figure out how to word things, though. “He wants me to get stronger and fight him later.”

There was a long pause for Yamanaka so I focused on eating my salad. “What do you want to do?”

I wanted to hit a liquor store but that clearly wasn’t going to be an option for a long while so I shrugged. “If aniki was so quick to write off our family, I don’t see anything wrong with writing him out as well. Not in the killing sense.” I spun the fork between my fingers idly. It was easier to do with a pencil, but after a few seconds I got the hang of it. All the dexterity training for children here, for making hand signs, were really helpful. “He’s no longer worth anything. He made that decision about our family so I will make that decision concerning him.” I chanced a look at Yamanaka. “Basically: fuck him.”

Yamanaka just stared at me, openly surprised.

But then I realized I hadn’t really answered the question. “I want to finish my lovely salad here and then dig a deep pit in the middle of the compound and ritualistically burn a lot of shit.” I narrowed my dark eyes and looked to his face, focusing on his pale eyebrows. “And then I’ll carry on.”