by Tari Gwaemir
His first day at the Academy, after it happened, he sat through his classes in a furious, numb daze, watching teachers' mouths open and close in meaningless motions of sympathy and wondering how, how they could stand at their chalkboards and presume to lecture him about hand seals and chakra patterns. He could not bear their complacence, their smooth return to the rhythms of ordinary life, when his mind was still whirling from the shock, the fear, the grief, the rage. How could time continue so calmly, without a hitch, when he was still locked in that horrific moment of opening the door and seeing the blood on his brother's hands.
Seeing Itachi smile.
He did not notice his classmates anymore: the boys who tried to intimidate him with their bluster, the girls who smiled at him from across the aisle. He could not respond to their overtures of friendship, of camaraderie, when the image of that smile, so cold and alien, filled his mind, filled it to the point where he could see it before him even with open eyes. He saw nothing else. He knew nothing else.
They are all traitors, he said to the ceiling of an empty, echoing house, for they have betrayed me even more than that murderer, they have abandoned me to this endless confusing cry for revenge, revenge, revenge. I hate him with all the blood that flows through these eyes and veins, but never, ever will I forgive them.
(Such are the unseen wounds of childhood.)