Title: When You Were Young (ItaSasu)
Author: desolate butterfly
Genre: Fluff, gen
Pairing: slight Ita/Sasu
Summary: Sasuke is upset and there's nothing worse than putting up with a sniffling toddler.
When Sasuke wrung his hands together and held back a sniffle for the third time, Itachi put the scroll he was examining aside and turned to face him.
"What's wrong?" he asked, hoping he wouldn't have to warn Shisui against teasing his little brother again.
Immediately, Sasuke's hand came up to swipe hastily at his eyes and he shook his head.
Itachi frowned and beckoned Sasuke closer. When the boy was within arms length he reached out and grasped his chin.
"Do not lie to me," he said. "You have been upset since this morning. Tell me why."
Itachi waited patiently while Sasuke fidgeted and gnawed on his lower lip. When it became apparent that the child wasn't going to speak, Itachi sighed and gathered Sasuke into his arms. He stood up with Sasuke squirming indignantly against his hip.
"Nii-san," the boy whined, "I'm too old to carry now."
Itachi walked out of the family room and into the hallway, firmly grasping Sasuke by his waist.
"If you can't use your words to tell me what the matter is, you're not too old to carry in to mother," he said, moving swiftly.
Sasuke's eyes widened and he clutched at Itachi's shirt.
"Don't bother mother," he pleaded. "She wasn't feeling well this morning, remember?"
Itachi paused, then he set Sasuke on his feet, giving him a stern look.
"Are you going to tell me what you're upset about?" he asked.
Sasuke nodded and grasped Itachi by the hand, leading him in the opposite direction down the hallway into his bedroom. "There," he said, pointing to the bed, where there appeared to be a small stuffed bear spilling its cotton insides out on the covers.
Itachi picked up the bear and gave Sasuke an expectant look. The boy swallowed something that might have been a mixture of embarassment and remorse and said, "I was trying to teach Bear-san how to throw kunai, like you were doing, but...but he got cut and..."
Sasuke started sniffling again and Itachi sighed and searched around for a tissue for the child to mop his face with. While Sasuke blew his nose, Itachi considered the toy.
For a moment he was tempted to tell Sasuke that he was getting too old to have a stuffed animal anyway. Afterall, he had grown out of such things when he was two, and Sasuke was almost four now.
But he found himself tucking the bear under his arm instead and reaching out to poke at Sasuke's forehead with his free hand.
"Stop crying," he said. "Remember when I got that cut on my leg last week?"
Sasuke blinked and pursed his lips. "You mean when the medic-nin came over and mother was really upset?"
"Yes. Do you remember what the medic-nin did?"
"He sewed up your leg!" Sasuke crowed, now looking curious and excited instead of like he was going to start crying again at any moment.
Itachi nodded and hefted the bear. "That's what we're going to do for this," he said.
He headed back towards the living room and Sasuke followed, eyes wide and interested. When Itachi rifled through Mikoto's sewing bag and sat down to repair the toy, Sasuke sat close by and watched over his shoulder.
As Itachi stitched in silence, he felt something fall softly on his back. A quick glance to the side verified that Sasuke had fallen asleep leaning on him, his mouth open and chest rattling with childish snores. Itachi listened to his noisy breathing and made a mental note to ask his mother if Sasuke had been complaining of a cold recently.
He quickly tied the last thread and snapped the end off, then he eased Sasuke's grubby fingers from his shirt and fitted the repaired teddy bear in place of his clothing. Sasuke accepted the movement with a grunt and a sigh before clutching the bear to his chest.
Itachi stayed still and read his scroll quietly until their father appeared in the doorway to frown at the stuffed toy in Sasuke's arms and Itachi's supposed idleness.
Itachi laid Sasuke on the floor before silently following the man outside to train once again.
Commentary is much appreciated.