Okay then. This little idea popped into existence whilst I was doing my laundry and is refusing to leave me alone, so instead of writing up my essay and lab notes I'll devote a few hours to my favourite past time. :D

As always I don't own any characters or whatever, just my own insane ramblings. This is non-yaoi, just friendship, and is of my current favourite Akatsuki pair. Oh, and of course, expect randomness and OOCness 0.0

This is for squid again, a little welcome home gift. Hope you had a good time foolish little sister andenjoy xox

Older brother

Flames greeted the early morning sunrise, the crackling acting as a dawn chorus. There were no birds. Not now any way.

Standing in the charred remains of the village square Kisame lent wearily on Samehada and wondered not for the first time why Pein had sent him and Itachi out to destroy the little place. After all, it didn't' seen very important: there were no scrolls or Bijuu to obtain, no leaders to overthrow. Just an ordinary country village with far too few shinobi to defend it from the missing-nins. Kisame knew that if he were ever to ask the reasoning he wouldn't receive a reply. And wasn't that how it was supposed to be? Just kill who you're told to, and don't question your orders.

The swords-man looked around at the devastation he and his young partner had caused and sighed. No-one had escaped – Pein's orders – and the stench of burnt meat was thick in the air. All the houses had been simple wooden constructions, so only charred beams and ash remained of them. Even with his superior ninja training, Kisame found it hard to not feel nauseous at what the two of them had done to the little farming community.

Shaking himself the kiri-nin hefted his sword onto his back and straightened up. If he was feeling bad about this he was sure as hell Itachi was too. The thirteen year old Uchiha did his damndest to appear emotionless, but Kisame knew the kid well enough to know that this level of destruction wouldn't sit well with him, despite his background.

Tramping back through the ruins, Kisame picked up his partners chakra, and followed it out into an open grassy area that the flames hadn't touched. It had probably been designed as a play-park, although it actually only consisted of a slide and some swings. One of the swings was occupied, a dark figure sitting hunched up on it staring at the ground.

"Itachi-san?" Kisame made his way over to the young Uchiha. "Itachi, are you alright?"

Dull red eyes looked up to meet his gaze then turned back to the floor. The older Akatsuki placed Samehada on the ground, then sat down on the swing next to his partner's, one hand lightly grasping the rope as he turned on the seat to face the teen. Itachi didn't acknowledge the company, and hunched up even more, his blood-stained hands folded tightly in his lap.

"Want to talk?" Kisame asked gently. "You may find it'll help."

Again the haunted claret eyes found his own. "Why did we have to do that?" Itachi whispered. "There were so many children, and women, People who couldn't put up a fight. They were defenceless."

Kisame sighed, allowing his swing to rock slightly as he thought of an answer. "We do what our Leader tells us, Itachi-san, you know that."

"But..." Itachi went back to staring down. "But that wasn't right."

The older man surveyed his partner, suddenly acutely aware of just how young the kid was. A thirteen year old shouldn't have become an ANBU, a thirteen year old shouldn't have been worked to breaking point so that he snapped and murdered his family. A thirteen year old shouldn't have to obey a crazed evil genius' every whim, when that meant the carnage they had produced today. No, Itachi was too young for this, and it was obvious.

"I don't understand why we had to kill when there was no need for it." The teen continued quietly, unaware of Kisame's internal monologue about his age. "I killed my family because it was something that needed to be done; I killed Shisui because it needed to be done...this wasn't necessary."

"No, it wasn't." Kisame agreed, "But it's what we do, it's your life now, and you'll have to get used to it. This will happen again."

Itachi just nodded

The shark-man shook his head sadly. The kid wasn't satisfied with the answer, and he didn't want a depressed teenager on his hands, especially not one with the Mangekyou Sharingan. Twisting round so that he sat straight on his seat he lent back – holding onto the ropes – to look up at the pink dawn clouds. A small grin found its way onto his face as he thought of a way to cheer his partner (and himself) up again.

Slipping off the swing he moved to stand behind Itachi, towering over the young teen.

"What do you want?" The Uchiha tilted his head back to look up at the blue shinobi, one small hand moving to curl around the rope of the swing. That was all Kisame needed to wait for. Quicker than the boy could follow he'd placed his hands on the kid's back and gave him a hard shove.

Itachi let out a startled yelp as the swing shot up into the air, gripping tightly to both ropes.

"K-Kisame!! What are you doing?!"

"What do you think?" Kisame grinned as the swing came back down towards him and he sent it flying back up again.

Itachi held on for dear life as his hair and cloak streamed out behind him. The strange soaring sensation ended with a little jerk as the swing reached the top of its arc, then changed as the descent started. Only for Kisame to send him back up. The familiar old feeling of being on a swing crept back – his mind thinking back to when his mum used to take him to the park, and later when he'd taken Sasuke. Itachi found that his arms had begun to take over from Kisame, keeping the motion going himself as muscle memory kicked in.

Kisame felt the change as his partner took over and controlled the swing himself. Next time it came back down he didn't push, and instead grabbed the ropes, jumping up to land with a foot either side of Itachi. The swing tipped slightly in the moment of imbalance, then righted itself again soaring higher with the double pull on it.

The top of the arc was nearly horizontal, and Itachi felt an unbidden giggle coming to his lips. It was out before he could stop it, and once that one had escaped the others were impossible to control. Hearing the young teens happy laughter made Kisame grin brightly, knowing that he had achieved his aim.

Itachi lent back against his partners legs, and found himself wondering if this was what having a big brother felt like. He could remember swinging like this with Sasuke, but with him standing up, and now he was seeing it from the other perspective. He wasn't having to control the swing, and having his partner so close made him feel protected. Maybe even loved.

Always the elder, never having someone to look out for him, this was a new feeling for the Uchiha, and he relished in it. Safe, happy and loved. How long had it been since he'd felt like this? Long before he'd killed the clan that was for sure. Was this how Sasuke had felt? Was this what having an older sibling was like? It was a good feeling then, he decided.

It might have been an hour, or maybe longer when they finally stopped, and Kisame jumped down off the seat. Both were laughing and happy – the darkness of the slaughter chased away. Itachi watched his partner strap Samehada to his back in contented silence, then stood up from the swing.

"Itachi-san? What is it?" Kisame asked, looking up from the strap he'd been adjusting to see the boy standing right in front of him. He didn't get a verbal answer; instead Itachi just threw caution to the wind and hugged him. Kisame was surprised to say the least, but found himself hugging the young teen back. "What was that for?" He queried when Itachi pulled away after a few moments.

Bright black eyes – the Sharingan turned off – smiled brightly up at him. "For showing me what it's like to have an older brother. Thank you."

The shark-man laughed and ruffled the boy's hair. "Older brother eh? You're a strange one at times Itachi." He put an arm around Itachi's small shoulders. "Come on, let's go home little weasel."

Okay, I'm now starving and it's way past dinner time, hence the weirdness – it's the lack of food talking! That line at the end is one I remembered cough-stole-cough from a book called 'let's go home little bear' anyone read that? Great book :D

Please review, although flamers be warned; I am hungry!!!

xox