Itachi's Bedtime Story
Disclaimer: general disclaimer applies.
A/N: This takes place when Sasuke is five, before the Uchiha Massacre of course.
Sasuke paced his bedroom wide awake and still pumping with adrenaline from his training earlier on that day. 'I wonder when Nii-san is coming back?' Itachi hadn't been home for at least a week because he'd been on a long S-rank mission with his ANBU team.
He couldn't say he wasn't disappointed. Sasuke wanted Itachi to be here so he could train him, even if it did take a lot of prompting on Sasuke's part. Itachi was one of the greatest shinobi around, maybe ever, and Sasuke would do well to learn from him so that he could be his equal one day – no, not his equal. So he could surpass his older brother.
'Then, Tou-san will acknowledge who's the stronger son and be proud of me!' Sasuke thought fervently, clenching his fists determinably.
In a few months Sasuke would enter the Academy, and then he planned to work very hard so that he'd be able to graduate quickly just like his older brother did. Maybe even faster. And he'd be at the top of his class, too. 'I'll make sure of it!'
Sasuke stilled hearing the sound of light, nearly unnoticeable footsteps coming down the hallway outside his room. 'It has to be Nii-san! Everybody else already went to bed hours ago.' After all, it was way past midnight.
Excited and curious, Sasuke opened his bedroom door when the footsteps were about to pass his room. Just like he thought, Itachi was there in his ANBU gear. His older brother paused in his calm walking to raise a brow at his younger brother.
"Sasuke," Itachi began, "what are you doing up so late?"
Sasuke half smiled, "I couldn't go to sleep, and then I heard footsteps so I knew it had to be you, Nii-san." He took a step forward so he was in the doorway. "How was your mission?"
Itachi faced the five year old and shrugged with a small lift of his shoulders, "You know I can't reveal any details about the mission, but I will say that it was very long and more trouble than it was worth."
"Aa." Sasuke said lowly, looking down at his feet. He couldn't wait until he could go on missions like that, even if they were long and troublesome. Becoming a real ninja stilled seemed so far away…
"Listen, Sasuke." Itachi said as he took a step forward, "I'm not that tired either, so I'll tell you a story in the meantime." He stated listlessly as he walked into his younger brother's room without a beat, making his way until he sat on the edge of the neatly made bed.
Sasuke stared wide-eyed and quickly followed him. 'Nii-san hasn't done this in ages!' He thought wondrously, climbing up on his bed and getting under the covers when Itachi gestured him to.
"You don't have to, Nii-san." Sasuke said even though a part of him was excited, "I'm not a little kid anymore."
Sasuke's protests met deaf ears as Itachi waved them carelessly away, "Now, I heard this story a little while ago. Settle in and I'll start."
The younger Uchiha nodded, lying back down on the pillow and pulled up his blankets, waiting for his elder brother to begin. Itachi's stories were always interesting, that was true. 'Is he going to tell me something about a battle? Maybe a past mission – or a scary story?' Sasuke thought eagerly.
Itachi cleared his throat, "There was once a young man…"
"– was he a ninja?" Sasuke cut in.
The ANBU member frowned and shook his head slightly, "Yes, okay he was a ninja."
"Anyway…" Itachi started once more without interruption, "The ninja was training by himself in the clearing of a forest, practicing to strengthen his abilities as all shinobi do. That's when he heard the most common yet strangest sound."
"- what was it?" Sasuke questioned, listening intently.
"It was the sound of a woman crying." His brother answered, "Intrigued and concerned, he followed the sound until he came up to a small pond with the most beautiful woman kneeling there. She had otherworldly features and was lovelier than any female he'd ever seen – but there was a reason for that."
Itachi chuckled at Sasuke's tiny frown at how this story was turning out. "You see, Sasuke, she was a faery. The man was shocked as he stood there, staring in wonder. For there is a myth surrounding faeries, for if you happen to come across a faery crying such as this – all you have to do is make her smile or laugh and then she will be required to grant the mortal one wish."
"A wish?" The five year old Sasuke repeated, peering up at his brother.
"Aa, a wish of anything the mortal desires." Itachi replied. "Determined to not only get the wish, but to make the faery stop crying, the shinobi began to tell her jokes to make her laugh."
"Did it work?"
"No, because the ninja was too much of a serious character, and all the jokes he knew weren't good enough to make the fair faery smile. None of them worked as she continued crying, her tears falling like liquid crystals into the moonlit pond, bathing her in silver and white.
The man was distraught at his uselessness, for although he'd been excited at the prospect of the wish, seeing the faery so sad and sorrowful was making him upset for her. So he said, 'If I could wish for one thing in this world, I would wish for your smile.'
The faery's tears stopped flowing as she stared at him silently. Then slowly, a smile made its way on her red lips and at this, the ninja broke out in joyous laughter. She joined him a minute later and when the faery said that she would indeed grant him any wish of his choosing, he replied that he wanted her to become his wife."
"His…wife?" Sasuke echoed with vagueness.
Itachi nodded, "He had fallen in love with her enchanting smile and promised to always make sure she never stopped smiling as long as he lived. The faery accepted and so the ninja and his faery lived happily ever after. The End." The older brother concluded.
"That was really mushy!" Sasuke whined, a small scowl on his face.
'And I would never waste a wish on something like that! I'd wish for strength…to be stronger than Nii-san, right now!' That way, he wouldn't have to wait until he entered the Academy and his father would notice him a lot sooner. Everyone would.
"You preferred to hear about battles and mission, ne?" Itachi asked with a slight smirk.
"…Hai!" The younger Uchiha exclaimed.
Itachi tilted his head to the side, "Too bad."
"Hn…" Sasuke huffed, crossing his arms. "…are faeries real?" The small boy muttered, curiosity once again getting the best of him.
"Some people think they are." Itachi responded.
"What do you think?" Itachi's opinions always counted.
Itachi stood from his spot on the bed, "Well, I've never seen one myself, but if I did I'd probably want a shot at that wish."
Sasuke snorted, "What could you possibly wish for? You have everything, Nii-san."
Itachi chuckled a bit at that, "It's in human nature to be greedy."
At Sasuke's confused silence, Itachi poked his forehead. "Go to sleep now."
Sasuke frowned as he watched his elder brother move towards the door, "Will you train with me tomorrow?" He asked hopefully.
"We'll see." Itachi said evasively.
The kunai flew from his hand, hitting the target marked on the tree right on the dot. 'Okay, now five times more!' Sasuke thought, aiming the next four and letting them fly swiftly from his hand in a similar fashion as the first.
He needed to train longer and harder if he was ever going to catch up with his brother. Just like he expected, Itachi never was able to find the time to train him when he asked him that night, nearly a week ago.
'Does he see me as a nuisance?' He thought, frowning. He gripped his fifth kunai and threw it hard at the tree with all his might. It sank deeply into the bark, cracking it slightly as it penetrated the target mark.
With a nod of satisfaction, Sasuke wiped his brow and looked at the darkening sky. 'If I stay out any longer Kaa-san will get worried and scold me again.' Sasuke sighed, walking over to the tree he's been practicing on to collect his embedded kunai.
As he pulled the last one free, a low sniffing sound caught his ears. Sasuke stiffened in surprise and looked around his training area that Itachi usually brought him to (when he could). He mentally shrugged. 'I must have imagined it,' he thought rationally as he shoved his weapons into his bag.
Then, out of nowhere, a tiny sob echoed in the vacant clearing. Alert and now positive he had heard something; Sasuke listened for the sound again. It sounded like a crying girl from its tone.
He heard it again, and now this time was able to detect where it was coming from. Sasuke followed the noise without hesitation, the unbidden words of Itachi's story ringing in his ears again. 'But…it can't be…' Sasuke pushed those assumptions away. After all, that was just a story. Right?
The young Uchiha stilled when he came upon a small pond after five minutes of fast walking, a tiny girl was huddled beside it. She was dipping her hands into the cool water, crying softly as she hiccupped.
Sasuke stared at her in muted surprise – could this girl…could she possibly be…?!
His onyx eyes scanned the little girl from head to toe. Sasuke had never seen her around before and she certainly looked otherworldly. She had petal pink hair and the greenest eyes he'd ever seen. She was wearing a pink kimono with a white flower pattern to match her hair, and a red obi tied around her tiny waist. The girl looked just like a flower… too odd and delicate looking to be human, right?
'I wonder if a faery looks like a flower….'
Sasuke instinctively took a step forward as a twig snapped underneath his foot. This caused the pink haired girl to jump and she stood quickly, gazing at him with fearful emerald eyes, still shining with unshed tears.
"Oi…" He called out, "who are you?"
The girl said nothing, her eyes nervously darting behind him and all around as if looking for a hasty exit. Maybe it was because she really was a faery and didn't want to give him the chance of earning a wish? 'But…Nii-san never said anything about faeries being younger than me. She looks no more than five years old.'
She may look like one, but still…
"Where did you come from?" Sasuke asked skeptically, lightly frowning at her.
She sniffed, "I'm not allowed to tell anyone." The girl said softly so he could barely hear her.
'Hn, it could be just her parents that told her to say that.' Sasuke thought distantly, but then he remembered Itachi's words.
"Well, I've never seen one myself, but if I did I'd probably want a shot at that wish." His Nii-san's voice came back to him. Sasuke narrowed his eyes on the little girl. Well, it couldn't hurt to give it a shot.
She fit the story nearly perfectly anyway – she did have pink hair and those green eyes were way too different to be normal. And, she was crying by a pond – just like in the story! 'I'll give it a shot, just in case.' The five year old boy thought with finality.
He walked over to her till he stood before the pink girl and stared down at her. She looked really scared for some reason. "Are you a faery?" Sasuke demanded in a bland voice.
The pink haired girl looked up at him wide-eyed. "Huh?"
"Are you?" Sasuke questioned again. "You better not lie."
The little girl trembled and bowed her head into the long sleeves of her kimono, crying harder than ever. 'Is that supposed to be yes or no…?' Sasuke thought with another distant frown.
Growing uneasy with how upset the little girl seemed, Sasuke sighed and shook his raven head. "Why are you crying, anyway?"
After another choked sob, the girl just shook her pink head from side to side.
Sasuke's frown deepened, "That doesn't tell me much."
After a pause the five year old boy's patience waned, "Laugh." He ordered.
She looked up from her sleeves, "…Wh – what?"
"I said laugh." Sasuke repeated, crossing his arms indignantly. Just in case she was a faery he wanted the wish, and either way it went against Uchiha standard to just leave her all alone out here.
"Why…?" The young girl mumbled, shifting away.
"Because I said so," Sasuke threw in confidently. In truth, he didn't know any funny jokes to make her laugh or smile. In Uchiha custom, those were deemed unnecessary, seriousness and discipline were what counted.
"Are…are you going to hit me…?" The green eyed girl asked, still shaking.
Sasuke's brows furrowed, "Not unless it makes you laugh."
The girl bit her bottom lip in nervousness and looked around again, "So…you mean you haven't come to make fun of me…?"
The young Uchiha regarded her with confusion at this, "I don't even know you."
The tiny girl blinked and gazed up at him, finally seeming to register his presence. "…Oh."
"Were you crying because people were making fun of you?" Sasuke asked curiously.
She gave a small nod, "H-hai! I was just walking by and then they chased me and called me names," At this she patted down the pink bangs over her forehead, "and then when I ran away I came to this place and now I'm lost and I just want to go home!" She cried, another broken sob escaping once more.
'So…I guess she's not a faery.' Sasuke thought with a tinge of disappointment. He had really wanted a chance at that wish.
Sasuke took a step towards her, "Don't worry, I'll walk you home." He said stoically, he was an Uchiha after all.
She stared at him as she rubbed tears from her eyes, "But, I don't know you…"
Sasuke pointed to himself, "I'm Uchiha Sasuke. You can trust me, you know the Uchiha Police?"
She gave a tiny nod.
"I'm from the same family, so it's my duty to help you out."
"But…you're my age." She squeaked.
"So?" Sasuke replied sternly, "I'm still an Uchiha and that means I'm really strong, okay?"
"…Oh." She said weakly as he nodded at her response.
"What's your name?" He asked indifferently, scolding himself mentally for ever thinking she was a faery.
"Sakura…from the Haruno clan…" She answered softly as he stared at her. 'The name suits her, that's for sure.' But it was kind of annoying how she was so timid.
"Alright, then let's go." Sasuke said offhandedly, turning around to lead the way back to the main road.
"…Ano…" Sakura started slowly, hesitantly.
"What?" Sasuke questioned over his shoulder, sharper than he realized.
Sakura winced, "Um, why did you ask if I was a…a faery?"
Sasuke blinked as he faced her and then looked away with a small scowl on his face, "No reason…" He muttered, shoving his hands deeper in his pockets.
"…then why did you want me to laugh, Sasuke-kun?" The pink haired girl asked instead as the boy snapped his gaze on hers again. She immediately looked alarmed, "Gomen, am I being too familiar?"
"…no, Sakura-chan…" The raven haired boy said, the words sounding strange from his mouth. "Sakura," Sasuke said again, that feeling better even though it was without the suffix (he barely used those anyway) as he partly glared at her. "You're annoying when you do that. Stop cowering so much."
Sakura pulled on one of her pink strands, "Gomen…"
"And stop apologizing!"
She winced again as Sasuke sighed. "I wanted you to laugh because you look stupid when you cry." Sasuke said, feeling a bit bad for raising his voice at this distressed little girl. Really, where did she come from anyway?
At his answer, a new flood of tears poured from her eyes. "Y-you think I look stupid…too?" She questioned sadly, sniffing brokenly again.
It seemed to be a habit for her to constantly brush more of her pink bangs over her forehead, because she did it again as she wiped her eyes.
Sasuke frowned thoughtfully at this strange girl. He felt the need to make himself clear, too. "No, I never said that." The young Uchiha stated, "I said you look stupid when you cry, that's different."
Sakura hiccupped and Sasuke glowered at her for being so difficult.
"You…you called me a faery because you were making fun of me, just like the other kids." Sakura cried, sitting down with a plop on the grassy ground.
"No, I just thought you looked like one!" Sasuke responded, irritated.
"…what?" Sakura voiced, muffled by her long pink sleeves.
Sasuke sat down tersely in front of her so that they were eye to eye. "I thought you were a deity because you have weird pink hair and really big green eyes, that's all." He said stiffly, affronted.
"…you, you think I look weird…?" She mumbled; tears still gathering at the corners of her jade orbs.
"Well, yeah." Sasuke said honestly as she broke into another sob. "– but in a good way," He added hastily, "your…kind of 'otherworldly'. That's why I thought you were a…faery." He finished lamely. To be honest, her tears made his stomach twist uncomfortably and he didn't like it.
Deep, silent green met his obsidian gaze and lingered, just staring without a word, expression, or anything. Then, out of nowhere a tiny giggle escaped from her covered mouth.
Sasuke frowned as Sakura's tiny laughter grew till she burst into a fit of giggles. Now, even though Sasuke had wanted her to cheer up a bit, he had the distinct feeling that she was laughing at him. And that was simply not acceptable.
"Are you laughing at me?" Sasuke snapped, but even this coarse question did nothing to deter the mirthful little girl. She continued laughing into her pink sleeves, shaking her head to and fro as she tried to quell her giggles.
With his distemper mounting, Sasuke reached over and grabbed Sakura's tiny wrists and pulled them away from her mouth. He leaned closer; peering at her with annoyance at her sudden laughter that he knew was directed at his statement.
He stilled, "Stop being annoying."
She wouldn't look at him, "You told me to laugh, though!" She said between her giggles.
"Not at me!" Sasuke complained intent on ordering her to quit it or else when she suddenly turned her head towards him quickly. He had to freeze as their noses brushed – he blushed furiously, tumbling back as he quickly looked away. 'This girl…is really annoying.' He thought firmly, willing his flushed disposition to go away before she noticed.
"Gomen, Sasuke-kun!" She apologized profusely, "I didn't mean to…eh…and, I didn't mean to laugh at you….sorry." She finished weakly, a small smile still stayed on her naturally pale face.
He dropped her dainty wrists and shook his head, "It doesn't matter. I'll take you home now, Sakura."
Sasuke stood and offered a hand to pull her up; remembering the manners his mother had drilled into him. Sakura took it with a pinkish blush, still smiling (had it grown wider or was it just him?) and so he yanked her up gently.
The five year old girl squeezed his hand gratefully, a happy flush still evident on her face as he fumbled slightly, looking away intently as he guided her through the training grounds. Soon enough, they were walking down the main road and starting to enter her neighborhood.
"So…why were you out here anyway?" He questioned tonelessly but then remembered her earlier words. "Some kids were making fun of you?"
Sakura nodded sadly, "Hai…it's…it's because of my forehead…" She sighed, "I bet that's obvious, though."
The young Uchiha prodigy stared at her thoughtfully, cocking his head silently at her. Sasuke observed the strands of pink hair covering her forehead and frowned. "Why do they make fun of it?"
Green eyes skimmed over to meet his, "It's…big."
Sasuke blinked, narrowing his pitch black orbs on her forehead. "No it isn't."
Sakura turned her head over to him with an inquisitive look on her rosy face, "…really? You don't think I have a big forehead?" Her brows furrowed, "Don't lie – I know I do, okay! You don't have to make me feel better…"
Sasuke scoffed, "I wouldn't say it if it wasn't true. An Uchiha doesn't waste time lying." He said as a matter of fact.
". . ." Sakura lowered her eyes to the ground as Sasuke noticed this and took a step in front of her. She bumped into him and looked up at him in surprise with a squeak, "Sasuke-kun!" She exclaimed, wide-eyed.
Sasuke raised his right hand and tugged on one of her pink bangs covering her forehead. "How did I ever think you were a faery?" 'Even if she is cute…' His black depths stared directly into hers, "they wouldn't be so meek."
Sakura's emerald eyes widened at the boy in front of her as they resumed walking.
"…Or annoying." Sasuke added thoughtfully to himself – he heard a sound of indignation beside him and lightly smirked.
They shared a steady silence until she finally spoke up, "Why did you want me to be a faery, Sasuke-kun?"
He stared at her from the corner of his eye, "I wanted a wish. My Nii-san told me that they have to give you one if you make a crying faery laugh." He answered, not really bothering to cover it up.
"Oh," She said, "What would you wish for?"
He turned his full attention to her, "To be strong – really strong. I want to be a better ninja than my Nii-san." Sasuke said with determination, balling his fists.
"I think your fine the way you are!" Sakura replied happily, beaming at him. "I think Sasuke-kun is really…nice!" A blush was once again on her face.
Sasuke stared at her quietly as they stopped in front of her house. Sakura continued beaming at him, thanking him gratefully for walking her home. "You must be really smart to know your way around like this! I still get lost a lot without Kaa-san!"
'Well, that's obvious considering I had to walk her home.'
Sasuke just shrugged awkwardly, "…It doesn't matter."
She smiled at him again, squeezing his hand that he hadn't realized she was still holding. Looking down at the floor again, she quickly stood on her tiptoes and kissed him on the cheek. Sakura shyly backed away as Sasuke stared at her, wide-eyed now himself as she ran up on her porch after they said (well, he mumbled, a heavy redness still evident on his face) their goodbyes.
Sasuke collapsed on his bed, tired for once so he knew sleep wouldn't be a stranger to him tonight.
After he made sure Sakura was in front of her house, he left. She wanted him to come in for a snack and meet her parents but Sasuke knew he had to go home. So when he saw her front door open as light poured onto the dark street, he took his leave as he saw her quickly pushed inside by an older pink haired woman that had to be her mother.
After explaining his lateness to his own Kaa-san, she forgot her worried thoughts and instead was quite pleased with Sasuke's actions.
But really, it wasn't a big deal – all he did was walk Sakura home.
The young Uchiha recalled when she had laughed at him for thinking she was a faery and lightly scowled once more. Was it really that funny, anyway? She did look weird, after all. And she really did look like a cherry blossom.
He closed his eyes, pulling the blanket over him as he remembered her blushing face as she stumbled over her apology.
'…Annoying.' That was true. 'But…she's kind of cute.'
With a half smile, he turned around and drifted off to sleep, deciding that next time he'd like to hear her laugh again – when it wasn't directed at him, of course.
Itachi walked down the long wooden hallway of the Uchiha manor. A sigh tore its way from his lips as he continued his easygoing pace. He removed his ANBU mask, thinking over the mission vaguely.
'Soon,' Itachi thought as he cleared his mind irritatingly from the mundane, 'soon this will only be a memory.'
As would everything else.
The ANBU rookie stilled in front of Sasuke's door, open ajar. Peeking in, he saw his little brother supposedly sleeping peacefully on his bed.
Itachi started quietly, "You're awake?"
"Mmm… I learned something new today, Nii-san" Sasuke mumbled sleepily, between the stages of wake and sleep.
A slight smirk appeared over the older brother's mouth, "Oh?"
"Hai," Sasuke answered lowly, "…some faeries have pink hair." A small smile was on Sasuke face as he rolled over into his pillow.
After that drowsy statement, an even breathing once more took over Sasuke as Itachi knew he was now fully asleep. He slid the door shut silently and continued his walk to his own quarters.
'Some faeries have pink hair?' Hm. Perhaps it was a vivid dream that made Sasuke say that, or…
Nearly every fable has a foreign ancestor of truth.
A/N: I love faery tales. Thanks for reading and I hope you review! I loved writing little Sasuke, pre-Uchiha massacre – even though this was a bit random for me. But with all the angst I've been writing, I liked how this was light and soft. Well, please do review! (I'm starting to think posting fanfiction makes up for my lack of a life. Oh jeez.)