The vastly improved Chidori went through Itachi's chest. The attack was at full force, Sasuke had not held back. There was no remorse on his younger brother's face as he looked down at his collapsed form.
"You've become strong."
Itachi didn't lie, it was not aimed to entice anger, but Sasuke was irritated nonetheless. The clone caught Sasuke's shocked fury even as it dispersed into a flock of crows.
Near the ancient Uchiha hideout, the real Itachi closed his eyes momentarily as the shadow clone's memories merged with his.
Itachi leaped easily to avoid the electric current Sasuke had directed on the stone floor. But Sasuke was not going to let him escape so easily. A sword ran him through, the course of the blade was carefully curved upward to pierce his lungs. Sasuke's hand did not even shake the slightest as blood started dribbling down the length of the weapon, coating it in red even on its hilt.
Sasuke's expression was near-demonic when surprise slipped into Itachi's usually blank face.
He kept a firm hold even as they crash down, Itachi ending up lying helplessly on his back, and him with his knees on either side of his older brother's torso.
The real Itachi sat on the throne. He saw how Sasuke thirsted for his demise.
Even through stone the sword pierced too easily. Itachi barely moved when Sasuke buried his sword in his body the second time in the span of minutes.
"You avoided dealing a fatal blow on purpose."
This time, Sasuke was not easily fooled.
"My eyes are open now, I can see through your illusions!" Sasuke turned around, the exclamation was accompanied with a burst of Chidori that shot inches from the side of the real Itachi's head.
Itachi had strained his near-sightless eyes in an effort to trace any pause in Sasuke's actions, desperately looking out for even a split-second wherein Sasuke would falter in his steps.
But not the tiniest bit of hesitation laced his sure strikes and blows.
He had done well to fester the desire Sasuke had for revenge. Yet Itachi still wished that Sasuke had not taken heed of his words so dutifully.
Yes, he planned to bare his heart to Sasuke's blade, but there was that lingering hope that he didn't have to.
Itachi carefully ignored how he hoped still, even now, for Sasuke to hold some remnants of the love they've lost. Hate me, hate me, hate me, he would always say, when he actually wished for love.
But he would have to admit defeat. Three times, he had given his younger brother the chance to hesitate (because if Sasuke did hesitate, Itachi would have a reason to hold off their death match for another time). And three times, Sasuke had not.
Itachi rose from the throne.
"Let's see how good your eyesight is," were the words that started their battle.
His brother had severed all bonds except that of hate. Itachi felt a bitter kind of happiness and pride.
Sasuke had succeeded in doing what he could not.