Author's note: Originally this was gonna be a submission to Reyn's contest, but it didn't turn out the way I wanted it, so I'm doing another fic for the contest, and I'll just leave this one up here and on LJ for now.
Genre/Prompt: AU: General/Fluff, "Family Ties"
Pairings: NaruSasu/SasuNaru, sort of anyway... And slightly implied ItaSasu if you squint, but not really.
A loud crash came from the living room, followed by a loud, obnoxious laugh.
Uchiha Itachi sighed, turning off the stove as he left the kitchen, to check what all the ruckus was about.
The sight that met him was two little boys covered in dirt, and a broken flowerpot on the floor next to them.
"He pushed me!" said the blond boy, pointing at the other.
"Because you hit me," the other one mumbled, crossing his arms over his chest.
"Yeah, after you pushed me!" retorted the blond, glaring at the raven haired boy, and the mark on his cheek.
There was no doubt that he couldn't have been hit until after the flowerpot broke.
"Sasuke," Itachi said sternly, "Why did you push Naruto?"
His brother didn't answer.
"Sasuke," Itachi said again, he glanced over at Naruto.
The little boy was looking back at him, clenching his stained white t-shirt nervously, pulling slightly at it.
The elder of the Uchiha siblings sighed, giving up on getting an answer out of his little brother.
"Play nice, okay?" he said instead, "Remember, Naruto's your guest. You shouldn't push him. He's your friend, isn't he?"
"Hmph," Sasuke snorted, turning his head away.
Itachi shook his head, he didn't get his little brother.
Sasuke was always tagging after him, following him wherever he went, but aside from that, the child rarely showed interest in other people.
When their mother took him to the park or to daycare, Sasuke would stay to himself, without interacting with the other children. If they spoke to him, he didn't answer, and he didn't want to play with them either.
But when their mother had told them this morning that she and their father were going to the theater with Naruto's parents, and that Naruto would come over and spend the night, Sasuke's eyes had definitely lit up.
And still, Itachi hadn't seen his brother being nice to the other boy at all the whole night.
He'd had his doubts about babysitting.
Sasuke was no trouble, but Naruto was.
The Uzumaki boy was known to be a notorious prankster, and whenever he and Sasuke were together they would end up fighting.
Still, the blond claimed that they were best friends.
"Look at you two," Itachi said, surveying the boys, "I can't send you to bed looking like that."
Sasuke looked down himself; his shirt was just as dirty and stained as Naruto's.
His hands and face were dirty too, but not as dirty as the other boy who had fallen along with the flowerpot and landed in the mess.
Sasuke smirked to himself.
And then his expression changed into sheer horror when his brother talked again.
"Sasuke," he said, "Go upstairs and run a bath for you,"
"Nii-san..." the raven finally said something. He padded over to his brother, tugging at his shirt to make him lean down.
"I don't want to take a bath with him!" he whispered into Itachi's ear.
"You should have thought about that before," Itachi replied calmly, flicking him on the forehead.
Small, chubby fingers touched the sore spot, as dark eyes scowled up at Itachi.
"Go on," the older brother urged, pushing him towards the stairs.
Sasuke began dragging his feet along the carpet.
Itachi turned his eyes to Naruto, who was still standing in the same spot, staring at him.
"You said you'd make us cocoa!" the boy said, pointing an accusing finger at the teen.
Itachi's eyebrow twitched.
Where was this kid coming from? Acting like this in someone else's house. He caught himself thinking it was no wonder Sasuke had pushed him.
"I'll make you cocoa," he replied, nodding, "As long as you take a bath."
"Okay!" Naruto grinned, "Sasuke! Wait up!"
He wouldn't have to worry about it; the Uchiha boy hadn't made it over to the stairs yet.
Itachi watched Naruto catch up to him, and grab his brother by the wrist, dragging him up to the second floor.
"Come on Sasuke!"
"Don't pull on my hand dobe!"
Itachi's lip quirked into a small smile. He couldn't help but find the two of them a little amusing.
"Even if they do make a mess," he mumbled to himself, starting to pick up the pieces of the broken flower pot.
He could hear the water running upstairs, so at least they were listening to him. Fussy and noisy aside.
After having vacuumed the carpet, Itachi figured that as long as he found somewhere new to put it, the plant itself would survive. But he still couldn't for the life of him figure out why his mother would keep her prize orchids in the living room when she knew Naruto was coming over.
A loud splash from upstairs had him frowning. He'd probably have to do a lot more cleaning before the night was over.
Putting the vacuum cleaner back, he made for the kitchen to prepare the promised cocoa.
"Hey, look at me!"
Sasuke turned, looking over at the blond boy.
Naruto's face was covered in bubbles, and his hair too.
"I'm a fox!" he grinned.
"Did you use all of the bubble bath?" Sasuke growled, sounding fairly uninterested.
"Yeah! It's no fun if you don't!"
"Baka," Sasuke rolled his eyes, "And turn the faucet off!"
"Nah," the other boy shook his head, "It's more fun like this! We need more water!"
"No we don't, dobe."
"We do too!" a sneaky grin crept over the blond's lips, "You're not scared of drowning are you?"
"I am not!" Sasuke clenched his tiny fists, hidden by the bubbles, "And why do I have to take a bath with you anyway?!"
"Cause Itachi said so!" Naruto stuck his tongue out at the raven, and then he started chanting quietly; "Sasuke's scared of drowning...Sasuke's scared of drowning..."
"I am not!" Sasuke yelled, splashing water all over the blond.
Naruto exclaimed loudly, laughing as he splashed back. The water around them splashed everywhere as well; out of the tub and all over the floor.
"Itachi's gonna kill us..." Sasuke mumbled, a crooked smile forming on his lips.
"Unless you drown first!" the teasing tone in Naruto's voice was still there, along with his fox grin.
Another wave of hot, bubbly water washed over Sasuke, leaving his spiky hair to hang in wet tousles, sticking to his face.
Itachi called them from downstairs.
"Your cocoa is done!"
Naruto's face broke into another wide smile. The blond boy plunged out of the tub, splashing even more water over the already wet floor.
"Come on! I don't want it to get cold!"
Sighing, Sasuke climbed out of the tub as well, throwing a towel to Naruto. The other boy barely gave him time to dry himself and get his pajamas on before he was out the door.
"Naruto! Wait!" he yelled, chasing his friend down the stairs.
"I hope you didn't make too much of a mess up the-" Itachi stopped mid-sentence when he cast a glance on his brother's friend.
"Naruto," he furrowed his brow, "Why are you naked?"
The brat grinned at him.
"Well duh," he said cheekily, "I just got out of the bath!"
Itachi rubbed his temple, muttering under his breath.
"Sasuke, get him a pair of your spare pajamas."
The child nodded, disappearing upstairs and came back with a pair of light blue pajamas.
"Here," he said, handing it to the sulking blond.
"Have you never heard of freedom of expression?" Naruto demanded, getting dressed.
Itachi cocked an eyebrow, placing their mugs on the kitchen table. "Do you even know what that means?"
"Of course I do!"
"Then what is it?" he couldn't help but tease him a little.
"Yeah," Sasuke echoed, elbowing his friend in the ribs, "Tell us."
"Don't wanna." Naruto mumbled, climbing up on a kitchen chair.
"Hah," Sasuke snorted, "You don't know what it means at all."
"Sasuke," Itachi directed a strict glare at his little brother, "Don't start."
He stopped himself, "Wait...What's that sound? Is that water running?"
He turned to the kids at the table.
"You left the water running?!"
"Hmm..." Naruto tapped himself on the chin, "We might have..."
"I told you to turn it off!" Sasuke kicked the other boy under the table.
"I told him to turn it off!!" Sasuke said again, directed at his brother, whilst pointing an accusing finger at Naruto.
Itachi muttered something to himself about 'hopeless brats', grabbing the mop from behind the kitchen door, heading for the staircase.
"Drink your cocoa," he ordered, "I have to go clean up after you."
"Yes Sasuke?" the elder Uchiha sighed.
"Can we draw while we drink our cocoa?"
"Go ahead, just...don't make a mess this time. And it won't be for a long time, I promised to have you in bed by ten. Both of you."
Sasuke nodded quietly, while Naruto's smile faded into a pout.
"Rules sure are strict in your house," he muttered.
The other boy didn't reply, he was busy digging out coloring pencils and paper from the bottom drawer in the counter. While he was at it he pulled out a tube of glue, colored paper and markers.
"I think we should make Itachi something," he said, "So maybe he won't be so mad at us?"
"Good idea," Naruto nodded, jumping down from his chair. His upper lip was coated with whipped cream and cocoa. "He needs to smile more. Hey! Do you have macaroni?"
"Mhm, in that jar," Sasuke replied, pointing at a jar on the counter.
"Help me up," Naruto ordered.
"What for?" the Uchiha boy sounded skeptical.
"We'll use macaroni for the picture. Like they taught us in kindergarten." Naruto stated matter-of-factly.
Sasuke felt a slight tinge of jealousy in his gut. He'd never wanted to go to kindergarten. He was happy to stay at home with his mother, but he wished he could understand what was so cool about that place after all. Not that he'd tell Naruto.
With the help of Sasuke; gripping him around the ankles, and pushing him up further, Naruto managed to climb up onto the counter, crawling towards the macaroni jar.
His short, stubby fingers reached all they could towards the glass container, barely gripping it, easing it towards the edge, where it wobbled, and fell to the tiled floor.
There was a loud crash, and then the sound of macaroni scattering all over the kitchen floor.
"Great job Usuratonkachi," Sasuke scolded, letting Naruto back down, "Now he'll skin us alive!"
"Don't worry!" the other boy was just as careless as always, "We'll use up all the macaroni for his picture, and he won't even know that we spilled it! Come on!"
Sasuke knew well that it wouldn't work, but nevertheless allowed himself to listen to the stupid blond, beginning to pick up macaroni from the floor, gluing it to a piece of paper.
Itachi had barely dared to imagine what disaster the two kids downstairs had managed to cause when he heard the crash and shatter of glass.
He was already crawling around on the bathroom floor, wiping up the last of the water with a towel. It had taken him nearly forty minutes, and his back was starting to ache.
He rose to his bare feet, tossing the towel into the hamper, catching a glimpse of himself in the still slightly fogged up mirror.
His patience was hanging by a thread. A very thin thread, that was already halfway severed.
What met him when he came back down was a kitchen floor full of paper, crayons and macaroni, Naruto and Sasuke sitting in the midst of it all, gluing pieces of painted macaroni to a piece of colored paper. Their pajamas were already stained with cocoa.
His mouth dropped open.
"What part of don't make a mess is it you two don't understand?!" he fumed.
The two boys looked up in horror, their faces paling as they scurried to their feet, crushing pieces of macaroni underneath their socks as they did.
"I told you there'd be no time..." Sasuke hissed under his breath.
And for once the Uzumaki boy didn't utter as much as a single syllable to counter the statement.
"Alright..." Itachi clenched his fists at his side, forcing himself to breathe calmly, "Listen up, both of you."
The boys looked positively terrified.
"Just...go to bed. Right now," Itachi said, as calmly as he managed, his voice still trembling slightly with badly suppressed anger, "No protests. Just go to bed, and stay there."
There were no protests, just two fearful nods, and with that the kids chased each other up the stairs.
"Mattaku," Itachi sighed, continuing to curse under his breath as he strode across the floor, dreading to do more cleaning.
The bright red of the colored paper caught his eye as he crouched down to begin picking up macaroni from the tiles.
Absentmindedly, Itachi reached for the colored sheet, only to remain sitting on the floor, staring at it for minutes.
A regular, white sheet was glued on top of the red, so that it was framed by it, and decorated with painted macaroni; forming another frame.
In the middle of the white sheet was a childish drawing of two raven haired figures, and one blond. The drawing contrasted itself by being neatly colored in some parts, and more messily colored in others. Underneath the drawing something was written in childish, shaky letters;
The teen failed to hold back a smile.
He stood, leaving the picture on the table, going upstairs to the second floor.
He quietly made his way down the hall to Sasuke's room, peeking inside. The boys weren't sleeping yet, but they lay still; Sasuke in his bed, Naruto on his mattress on the floor.
"We're going to sleep, honestly!" Naruto said hurriedly, pulling his duvet closer around himself.
"So I see," Itachi replied mildly, "I just came to say good night."
Itachi stepped inside the room, kneeling down between the two of them.
Looking down at the blond boy, he asked; "So, now will you tell me why Sasuke pushed you?"
It was dark in the room, but the dim shine of Sasuke's nightlight revealed that Naruto's cheeks were tinted pink.
The boy looked away, before beckoning for Itachi to lean down, whispering quietly into his ear; "I think...it was because I said I liked him."
Itachi's eyes widened slightly. He stifled a low chuckle, lips curving upwards.
"What?" the blue eyed boy asked.
"Nothing," said the teen, shaking his head, "Good night Naruto."
He briefly touched his hand to Naruto's forehead, before turning to his brother, who was scowling at him through the darkness.
"That's not why..." Sasuke muttered.
"Then what?" Itachi failed to hide his amusement.
"I don't want to say it," Sasuke turned his head away, stubbornly.
"So whisper it to me," Itachi urged, flicking the boy on the forehead with his fingers.
Sasuke took a deep breath.
"Fine," he sighed, leaning close to his older brother, "He said that..."
Itachi waited for the rest.
"He said that he wished he'd had a brother like you," Sasuke mumbled, "But... I don't want to share you with anyone."
Itachi chuckled again.
Sasuke blushed in the darkness.
"And..." he started, "Because he said that other stupid thing."
"Foolish little brother," Itachi laughed quietly, ruffling Sasuke's hair, "Sleep well."
He rose to his feet, stepping out of the room, "Both of you."
"Good night," they echoed quietly.
Stepping out into the hall, Itachi shook his head, laughing quietly to himself.
Those two meant trouble, but there was a reason why he never managed to talk himself out of babysitting. Even if it meant picking up a million pieces of macaroni and glass from the kitchen floor.
[I'm sure Itachi's a little OOC in this fic, but hey, that's canon lately. And besides, I miss loving big brother Itachi