They announced the first funeral with the strained politeness of honorable men attempting to deal with a situation that might spread shame like a disease.
"Services for Hatake Sakumo will be held two days from now on the family's property."
They could have held the services at the memorial, but somewhere along the line, someone had objected, had pointed out the dubious background of the deceased. It was not that he was a suicide that they objected to, for all things considered that was honorable enough, but everything that had gone before.
They gathered there until it was impossible to tell who really cared and who was mothing at the edge to get a better look at the spectacle.
"Sakumo is survived by one son, Hatake Kakashi."
He stayed outside the ceremony, a shadow among the trees, drawing pride about him. He wasn't sure if it was a bandage or a cloak.
When he went through his father's things the next day, he found a cloth mask folded in a drawer.
The Uchiha treated funerals with the same dark solemnity they treated everything else.
"The name of Uchiha Obito will be added to the memorial once the funeral is over."
He only came because Rin said he should, and he regretted it the instant he got there. She was at his side the whole time, but it was his blind side, and that made it easy for him to pretend he was alone save for all these dark and serious Uchiha.
"He died on a mission for the sake of our village. He proved himself worthy of the Uchiha name in the end."
Rin tried to put a hand on his a few times, and eventually he stopped pulling away from her, but he never really felt her touch. He only felt the dark eyes around him as they turned on him, and he felt like a thief.
There were whispers.
"I heard a rumor about his Sharingan, and his teammate--"
His head hurt, so he left early.
The third funeral did not need announcements everywhere. Everyone knew. It didn't matter how quiet and understated the notices were: grief sank into Hidden Leaf like sharp teeth.
"Those wishing to attend services for the Fourth should assemble at the memorial at noon tomorrow."
He had been making a habit of tardiness since Obito's death, but this time, he went to the memorial before the crowd got there, and he left when they started to arrive. He heard only a few of their murmurs.
"Do you know anything about his students? Aren't there two of them still surviving? One of them is a genius, isn't he?"
He could not go back home just yet, so he walked, and he thought about what "genius" meant and wondered how much of that genius he had taken from the Fourth.
The fourth funeral was very quiet, but then, he did not attend the main service.
"Inuzuka Rin will be buried on family ground as soon as the body is retrieved."
She had smiled at him before she left on the mission, and when he hadn't smiled back, even under the mask, she had hesitated as if she were about to say something. Then she had shaken her head, looked at the ground, and gone silent for a minute. Finally, she had said that she would give him a gift before going.
She showed him one of her family's summoning jutsu and offered him the contract. He signed it, because he had long since stopped hoarding his own blood.
He did not find out until later that she had accepted a suicide mission, and only then did he feel like a thief.
He went to the funeral because it was the closest thing he could manage to payment for the stolen jutsu, but he did not stay long. Even in the quiet, he could hear the murmurs.
"Is that her teammate? Is he the last one?"
He held the fifth funeral not once but every night in his heart.
The first time he realized he was the only one left, he had wondered why he didn't kill himself. It was, after all, the sort of thing that ran in families. But the answer to that was simple: his life no longer belonged to him. It belonged to his father and his teacher and his teammates.
He was the only one left, and so he could no longer be himself.
But that was all right. He had no desire to be Hatake Kakashi anymore, anyway.
It was a kind of freedom, but not enough.
I am considering adding a line to the end of the first segment, but I'm not sure if that would be cluttering it up unnecessarily.
"Battlefield" is my angsty (duh) Uchiha ficlet.
Itachi's mind looks like this:
There is a battlefield. Everything is a battlefield. The only light comes in through his eyes, and so it is red, red and fraught with shadows. The ground, that tree, the memory of his mother's face: red.
People passing by: they are red, too. He reads them like charts. This one he can defeat with one move, and an easy one at that; this one he can defeat with one move, but it would need to be a little more elaborate. This one might give him a two-minute fight.
To him, they are all potential battles, and that is why he does not kill them immediately. Some are too weak to be worth the trouble, and others, he wants to save for later.
Sasuke's mind looks like this:
There is a battlefield, but when the light hits it just right, the grass is still green, even if blood has soaked into the earth--and it has. The red comes and goes, and it thrills him when it comes. It brings him closer to--something. He's not entirely sure what.
Of late there have been spectators on the stands, which is strange, because it has been so long since he has had anybody. Sakura and Naruto cheer him on (the latter even when he's yelling insults, because those are better than cheers for motivating him in some ways), and Kakashi stands behind them.
Sometimes he begins to wonder if he could walk off the battlefield and meet them. Did he ever live anywhere but the battlefield? He's beginning to remember that he did. But then he turns and sees his brother on the battlefield again, just out of his reach.
And everything goes red.
Itachi gives the battlefield inside his head as a gift. He does not love Sasuke, if he ever did, but he values him and his potential.
He would have killed his brother otherwise. He did not. Instead, he let him see the beauty of that battlefield.
But in the end, there will only be one battlefield, and it will be his.
No matter who wins their final fight.