roots and ivy
Itachi glanced up at Sasuke's perch on his shoulders as they meandered along the trail that lead up to their house. "Hm?"
"Do girls erupt lava from their private parts?" Sasuke questioned, sincere as ever. He had his head tipped backwards, following the motions of a small robin fluttering its wings in the leafy trees above their heads.
It was probably because of that that Sasuke failed to notice the way Itachi's bland expression crinkled into one of incredible amusement for the briefest second before melting away. All he heard was the amused snort, and the short, "No."
"Oh. Well, Naruto told me that Kiba said that—"
"Kiba seems to be misinformed, then, doesn't he?"
Sasuke blinked, peering down. "So does that mean girls are normal?"
Itachi stopped all together, now, wondering at what he might have seen as they left the park—a little girl, maybe? Saying goodbye to his little brother?
"Why the sudden interest in this?" he asked suddenly, ignoring the question previously asked, a knowing glint in his gaze as he stared Sasuke down.
Sasuke's chubby cheeks flushed scarlet suddenly, and he looked away, managing to squeak out. "No reason."
Mikoto crouched down, setting the dish towel on the counter top as she did. Her hands were still wet from cleaning, but even so her fingers came out to brush away the bangs that were obscuring Sasuke's vision. "Hm? What's wrong?"
Sasuke shifted from foot to foot, staring rather determinedly at his feet. "I had a question."
Her fingers continued tracing along his hairline, and subconsciously, he tilted his head back a little, enjoying the gentle tickling sensation. At that, a warm smile bloomed across his mother's face. "Uh huh?"
"You're a girl, right?"
Mikoto blinked, and then her lips tugged upwards, fondly. "Yes."
"And you're normal."
She was unable to hold back her laughter at that, but nodded between chuckles. "Yes, dear."
But despite the apparent hilarity of the situation, Sasuke still looked incredibly bothered, tiny fingers wringing themselves together and fisting in the bottom of his shirt. "So…does that mean boys can be friends with girls?"
"Uh huh. You and I are friends, aren't we?"
He glanced at her then, clearly askance. "Well, you're my mom."
"So it's not the same. You're a girl, but you're not a girl."
"Aren't I? You know, once upon a time, I was your age, too."
This level of perspective was clearly too much for him, and his feet gave out, bottom plopping on the ground with a thud. "Wow, he whispered, awestruck.
Mikoto's eyes crinkled along the edges as she smiled. "Indeed."
Deep gray eyes peered over the edge of the morning newspaper at Sasuke's hopeful face. A bit of rustling and folding later, the paper was laid down on the table and all the attention was on him. "Yes?"
Sasuke played with the hem of his shirt, opening his mouth and closing it multiple times as he struggled to find the words. "What…er, how…"
Joints cracked quietly in the still morning air as Fugaku leaned over and laced his fingers together in front of his face, raising a curious eyebrow in the process. Stern and proud, but with the patience only a father could have, he waited.
And then, in a rush, he blurted, "How did you get Mother to like you?"
Fugaku regarded his son very seriously, clearly taking these probing questions with much more gravity than his wife did. His lips pressed into a thin line, and he mulled it over. "Well, your mother…has always liked kindness."
The youngest Uchiha blinked owlishly. "Like what?"
"Like being brave and strong. Being a friend whenever she needed me. And she liked flowers…" Fugaku trailed off speculatively, losing himself in the memories for only a few moments before turning shrewd eye on his youngest son. "Why?"
Sasuke evidently hadn't run out of blood to blush with, and his neck and ears turned pink. "Just askin'," he said quickly before scampering out the sliding doors into the yard.
The kid in question burped loudly before widening his mouth into a jaw-cracking yawn. "Yeah?"
Sasuke appeared unfazed by this display. "Where would you get flowers if you needed 'em?"
The blond ruffled his hair with his hands, squinting his deep blue eyes thoughtfully at the trees in the distance. Sasuke had found him sitting on a swing in the park while he had been contemplating how to best go about making a fort out of sticks and other brambles.
Sasuke scowled, kicking dirt. "You're useless."
Naruto's head snapped around quickly, taking this as a challenge. He jumped off the swing, indignant. "Am not!"
"Well then how come you don't know where to find flowers?"
Throwing his hands in the air, clearly exasperated, Naruto replied snippily. "Well, you never asked me that!"
Sasuke seemed incredulous. "Are you deaf?"
"So then you're stupid."
Naruto shoved Sasuke abruptly, and he fell off the swing backwards, landing on his butt as his feet got tangled in the chains. The mulch that covered the ground scattered briefly, and Sasuke did his best to ignore the teary eyed feeling from the rough scrapes on his palms. "Hey!"
"Well, it's your own fault. I know where to find flowers, and you were mean, so I'm not gonna tell you." As if to emphasize the point, he crossed his arms and looked away determinedly.
But Sasuke had an ace up his sleeve. With a triumphant grin, he spoke the magic words. "I'll buy you ramen if you tell me."
"You, my friend, have a deal."
Said girl peeked out from underneath the wisps of pink that were sliding over her face, obstructing the brilliant green of her eyes from the early afternoon sun. Even though most of her bangs were pulled back from with red ribbon that Ino had given her a few weeks prior, her hair was slippery enough to slide out.
Upon noticing who was talking to her, her cheeks heated to match her hair. "Oh! Hi, Sasuke-kun…"
Her gaze immediately returned to the orange she was slowly unpeeling. The citrusy smell burst into the air around them, and she shyly offered him a slice.
He blinked, holding the piece gently in his fingers and stared at it, as if unsure about what to do with it.
"You eat it," she explained, looking almost mirthful at his apparent lack of comprehension.
He scowled again, brain finally catching up to the offering, and he shoved the orange in his mouth abruptly. "I know," he managed to get out while chewing.
She smiled at him, losing some of the initial hesitance. "So what did you want?"
He studied his toes again, finding that they looked exactly the same as they did yesterday when he stared at them while talking to his mother. "I…"
She waited patiently on the bench near the entrance of the village, swinging her feet midair. She wasn't yet tall enough for them to reach down all the way.
"I wanted to give you something," he managed and he pulled out a large handful of weeds, roots and dirt still attached to the bottom of some of the yanked plants. A few had some yellowing flowers, but most were long strands of dander that were dotted in black seedlings. From Ino's instructions on plants, she could even pick out what looked like a half-wilted dandelion and some ragweed.
Sakura blinked, a slow smile spreading on her face when she realized the gravity of the gesture. "What's this for?" she asked, accepting the bundle.
"I heard that girls are normal," Sasuke began clinically, and then fumbled through some long winded explanation about his mother being female, before finishing, "…so I wanted to be your friend."
Sakura giggled, tossing the 'bouquet' aside and throwing her arms around Sasuke's neck, feeling the soft skin of his neck as she mumbled into it, "You didn't need to get me anything," before pulling away. "But thank you."
She eyed him coyly, then. "But, if you ever want to get me anything again, I like coloring books and fruits. And ask me next time—not Naruto."
His face heated up again. "How did you—"
And she laughed. "You can't hide anything from your friends."
"Mhmm?" Itachi replied absentmindedly as they walked towards the marketplace later that day, shopping list in hand from their mother.
Sasuke skipped a little, idling while Itachi caught up with with exuberant pace. "Suppose, hypo…hypo…"
"Yeah, that. Suppose hypothetically, a person needed coloring books. Where would a person find them?"
Itachi glanced down at Sasuke, arching a brow, amused at the awful attempt at being sneaky. "Why would this person need to know?"
"No reason!" Sasuke quipped quickly, dropping the subject and making a beeline towards the large containers of fruit on display.
And his older brother smiled.
notes: I have no idea where I even—you know what I just don't know. I started writing this one year ago with the intention that it would come out on valentine's, but I didn't make it. at that point in time, it was titled flowers and weeds, but lo and behold, here it is, in all of its gloriously crappy form, one revolution around the sun later.
dedicated to les because I love her and if sasuke can believe that he's good at stealth, you can believe in the impossible.