Author's Note: Hello everyone! This is my Valentine's Day gift to you all :D Hope you enjoy and make sure to review because I love them (and they can be your Valentine's Day gift to me! Isn't it amazing how that works out? Haha) For those of you who are wondering about my other Naruto fic, Lead Astray, yes, I am continuing it and I really REALLY appreciate the reviews and interest in it. You guys are awesome *tear*. On that note, if any of you are following my other fics that are currently in progress, I will try to update them as well when I can. I apologize for school sucking the life out of me.
About the story: this is a little light and fluffy moment for Itachi. This is not an Itachi x Sakura fic. Nope, if anything it is a brotherly fic about Itachi or a cute love fic between Sasuke and Sakura.
Spoiler Alert: Okay, so it's not really a spoiler alert per se.... but it does reveal the true nature of Itachi's character and motives. So I guess that is a spoiler alert...
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or his orange jumpsuit. But I wish I owned Sasuke... *drool*.
I Approve, Little Brother
Bright, warm sunrays beat down on the three young children as they walked through the shrubbery of the forest.
A handsome boy with dark bluish-black spiky hair was leading the way. His face held a bored expression as he trudged forward through the forest floor. As he walked, he subtly cleared any rocks on the path with the stick in his hand. His head turned a fraction to the side as he glanced back at the slow and tired pace of the girl behind him as she panted and moved forward. He didn't bother looking at the idiot who was walking on his other side.
The girl was moving her sandal-clad feet slowly as they advanced further into the forest. It seemed like they had been walking forever! It was already afternoon and they had set out in the morning! Sakura felt her 'inner self' fist her hands. Damn it! Hasn't anyone ever heard of taking a break?! Not wanting to be the weak girl, she decided not to ask for a break. If her two teammates could keep walking, so could she! Still, she couldn't seem to keep her breathing quiet and smooth like her other teammates. Her eyes stayed focused on the clan symbol on the dark-haired boy's back.
The last boy was following slightly behind the girl, his face fixated on the girl's every movement. She was tired, there was no doubt about it. Her pace had gotten a little more sluggish and in truth, he was exhausted as well. His blonde hair felt a little dirty and his bright blue eyes were drooping slightly. They had been traveling all day and although their pace had slowed a little, the boy in front of them had not stopped. Naruto decided that if Sasuke didn't need to rest, neither did he! But… Sakura-chan…
"We should get some water," Sasuke said firmly as the two other young ninjas looked up at him in surprise. Besides the first hour, there had been no talking between the three as they traveled in silence.
Sakura opened her mouth to speak and closed it again to clear her throat. "Let's set up camp here then," her voice was slightly husky from lack of use.
Naruto nodded and the three walked into the small clearing in the forest that Sakura had pointed to. They began to unpack their bags to rest.
"We need water," Sasuke repeated.
Sakura jumped up. She wanted them to know she could be depended upon as part of the team. "I'll do it, Sasuke-kun! Why don't you and Naruto go look for some food in the meantime?"
Naruto looked at Sakura with worry. "Are you sure, Sakura-chan? The container is pretty heavy when it's full of water. Teme or I ca-"
"Fine," Sasuke said, interrupting Naruto as he began to pull out his shurikens.
Naruto fumed at the dark-haired boy's back.
Sasuke straightened up and jumped up onto the branch of the nearest tree. He looked down. "Let's go, idiot!"
Sakura heard an angry retort from Naruto as the two vanished into the forest. The three of them had been assigned to a simple D-class mission. Their team Jounin leader, Kakashi-sensei, had allowed them to complete it on their own since he had a mission to do himself.
Sakura walked towards the stream slowly, pulling the large water container behind her. It would take some time for the container to fill and she would have to wash it out a few times to make sure the water would be clean. This would take a while.
- - - - - -
Itachi sat on the edge of the stream and grabbed a spare piece of cloth from his pocket. He dipped it into the water and gently wiped his face with it. He pulled off his Akatsuki cloak and his battered, old forehead protector, placing both objects on a nearby tree stump.
Lately, he felt more and more exhausted. It was probably because it was almost the anniversary of that day; the day that was a symbolic hell for him.
He had been ordered to kill his own clan and went through with the mission in order to keep the peace in the small village of Konoha.
Without even a slight hesitation, he murdered his entire clan, father, and mother. However there was one person who he couldn't kill; his little brother, Sasuke.
He sighed deeply. Now he was stuck hanging around rogue ninjas who together made up the Akatsuki group. He really hated them but what other choice did he have? None.
He had told his partner, Kisame, that he needed to rest and to go on to the next village without him. Itachi would meet up with him later, no doubt.
Itachi had stopped at a nearby stream in the forest they were traveling in because the rush of water somehow calmed his nerves. Hell, his nerves were always high thanks to his annoying partner. The entire situation had Itachi's insides burning with resentment.
Of course he had no one but himself to blame and even then he knew it was the right decision. To be able to save Sasuke was the only thing that mattered to him now and if that meant having to spend the rest of his life with rogue ninjas in a shady group, he would do it.
He let the cool water drip down his face as he placed the wet cloth on top of his head and leaned forward, looking into the clear water of the stream.
Burgundy red eyes stared back at him. Dark black hair with a calm expression shook slightly with the gently movements of the water.
But Itachi was captivated by the bright eyes. Murderous eyes.
He dropped a small pebble into the water and watched as the image swirled around until it almost looked like a small boy with spiky hair. Sasuke.
He gasped and subconsciously leaned forward to grab at the water.
The water stabilized back into a slow movement and Itachi was left with the image of his own murderous eyes looking back at him. He relaxed his position and threw a hand over his eyes.
Itachi stayed like that for a few minutes. His thoughts jumbled together, leaving him exhausted and frustrated.
Suddenly a soft rustle of leaves and the crack of a stick on the floor made him turn around to face the intruder.
A little girl with a red kimono and bright pink hair was standing at the edge of the dark forest, an empty container was in her hands.
"Oh!… I'm sorry. I didn't know anyone else was here." She blushed and Itachi turned away. She wasn't a threat.
Sakura couldn't help but blush at the handsome stranger. There was something about him… so very familiar. She shrugged and walked over to the stream. Sakura began to fill the bottle with water but it was too heavy to pull out of the water afterwards and she still needed to rinse it a few more times.
Itachi looked over his shoulder and saw that the small girl was having trouble with her container. She was trying to push it on its side to let the water pour out again. Sighing slightly, he rose and gently helped her with the bottle, his large hands lifting the container and pouring the water out.
Sakura gazed up in surprise at the man. Close up, he was strikingly handsome. There was a powerful aura around him with a certain gentle aspect to him. He was so… familiar. She blushed again before bowing her head in thanks. "Thank you, onii-san!" she murmured in respect.
Itachi blinked for a moment. Onii-san. Older brother. He hadn't heard that in so long… since Sasuke used to call him that. The image of a small, smiling boy with dark hair filled his head.
"Onii-san, teach me some new technique!" Sasuke smiled with admiration at his older brother.
Itachi gazed at the little boy, who was looking at him expectantly. Quirking his hand in the air, Itachi gestured for Sasuke to come closer.
Beaming with excitement, Sasuke ran forward to where his brother was sitting. Itachi suddenly leaned forward and poked Sasuke's forehead with his two fingers.
"Sorry, Sasuke. Maybe some other time."
"It's no problem," he said softly. "But why are you gathering water here by yourself?"
Suddenly the little girl stiffened and Itachi was amused at her taking a defensive position. "I'm sorry, but I can't just give out information to you," she said firmly.
Hmm, she's a ninja. He could tell from her clothing and the daggers strapped to her waist. A look at her forehead confirmed his belief. She was wearing a forehead protector with a leaf symbol on it. The symbol of the Hidden Leaf Village of Konoha.
Itachi put up his hands in a pacifying gesture and smiled gently at her. "Don't worry, I am also a ninja from Konoha." That part was true. He was a ninja from Konoha; however he had long ago become a missing-nin. But there was no reason to tell her that. "I was just passing through here before going with my partner on a mission."
Sakura sighed in relief and relaxed her position. "Since you're from Konoha, I guess I can trust you." She scratched the back of her head in embarrassment. "Actually, my ninja team is here and we needed the water before we go off again on our mission. I volunteered to get the water, although Sasuke-kun could probably do it faster. Maybe even… no… Naruto is… just an idiot."
Itachi froze. She had said Sasuke-kun. Did that mean?…No. There were many people with that name. It didn't necessarily mean that … that it was his little brother. But just to be sure… "Sasuke-kun and Naruto?" Itachi questioned further.
"Yep, they're my teammates! You see, we're all genin on the same team! Naruto is mostly a nuisance but Sasuke-kun is absolutely amazing! He's was top of our class and is always so cool! Plus he's from the famous Uchiha Clan!" Sakura squealed in excitement and began to chatter about Sasuke.
Itachi's face was frozen in shock. There was no doubt about it now. This Sasuke was… his baby brother. He turned to look at the young girl who was paying no attention to him as she continued to praise his brother.
The urge to find out more about his little brother was suddenly the only thing in Itachi's mind. "Hmm, I think I heard of him, your friend Sasuke-kun."
Sakura stopped talking and looked at him in surprise. "You have? Well, I guess you must have. He was after all, the number one rookie this year."
Itachi sighed in relief. This gave him an opening. "Yes, that's how I heard of him. The number one rookie this year was the boy from the honorary Uchiha clan. I heard he had a tough childhood." Itachi knew the news of the brutal massacre of his clan would no doubt have run rampant through the village like wildfire. It was a safe bet that everyone was aware of Sasuke's situation.
Sakura looked down into the clear blue water. Itachi gazed at the girl's reflection in the water. Her eyes were truly and honestly saddened. "Sasuke-kun has… been through so much. Since you're from Konoha, I'm sure you already know about how the Uchiha clan was murdered. Sasuke-kun was the only survivor. I didn't know Sasuke-kun before that incident… I met him at the Academy afterwards so I really don't know how he was before it. But after… Sasuke-kun always keeps to himself and doesn't tell me anything. I hardly ever see him really smile and I think he is always suffering in silence." Sakura sighed as an image of the dark-haired boy filled her head.
Itachi felt sick inside. "I hardly ever see him really smile and I think he is always suffering in silence." He had loved to see his little brother smile when they were younger. Any pain that Itachi felt went away when little Sasuke beamed at him. But now… now Sasuke was suffering because of him.
Itachi sighed. Of course he would be. Sasuke's own brother had taken away his entire life; his parents, the clan, and most of all, the image of his idol of an older brother. It was all as Itachi had planned. Have Sasuke build strength out of his pain and one day come after him. Still, it's not like he couldn't feel sadness for his brother.
"Onii-san, are you okay?"
Itachi looked up to see the little girl looking at him with worry. He quickly rearranged his face into a smile. "I'm fine. It's just sad to hear about that boy."
He looked at the little girl next to him. This girl… she was so young yet she… she was incredibly perceptive and mature. He could tell by the things she said.
Sakura's head drooped. "Yeah… I always wanted to talk to Sasuke-kun, so when we were all first picked for the same genin team, I was happy. But… Sasuke-kun still doesn't really talk to me about anything."
"Maybe it's just too hard for him to trust anyone else right now," Itachi murmured, thinking out loud. He didn't want Sasuke to become bitter and angry but really, what other choice did he have? He had lost his entire family, clan, way of life, in one fell swoop because of his role model brother. Again, the image of murderous red eyes appeared in Itachi's head.
"Yeah, I guess you're right. But you know what, Onii-san?" Sakura's face lit up suddenly.
Itachi couldn't help but smile at the girl. She reminded him very much of little Sasuke, with her cute, bright face, getting excited over everything. "What?"
"I've made it my secret mission to make Sasuke-kun smile more."
Once more, Itachi gazed at the little girl in shock. She smiled and put up her two fingers in a victory sign. This little girl… she truly did… she loved Sasuke. The thought made Itachi smile gently back at her. "So tell me more about him. You seem to know a lot."
Sakura blushed. "Yes, well, I've always like Sasuke-kun. He's really so handsome and cool... But I, I never really knew about him until we became teammates. Sasuke-kun… he's always protecting me. But it's so much more than that. I want to be the person Sasuke-kun can talk to and share his problems with." She sighed deeply. "Between you and me, Onii-san, I once liked to pretend that he would go on a date with me and then we'd grow up and he'd ask me to become part of the Uchiha Clan as his wife, but Sasuke-kun doesn't show any interest in anyone!" she whined.
Itachi stifled a laugh and looked down into the water. It seemed like she was serious about him. She definitely thought about him very much. Hurry up Sasuke, or else you'll miss your chance. "What about your other teammate, you said his name was Naruto?"
The girl's expression changed to a scowl. "Yeah, Naruto is the other person on our team. He's extremely clumsy and stupid, not to mention he is always picking fights with Sasuke-kun, but…" her expression changed to a soft smile, "I don't know anyone else with a kinder heart than Naruto. He takes everyone's teasing and abuse and still is able to laugh and smile. Plus, even though he and Sasuke-kun fight all the time, I think they secretly think of each other as brothers."
Itachi was yet again surprised by her words. Brothers? To think that Sasuke could ever think of someone else as a brother made Itachi feel relief... and sadness.
His gaze traveled to look at the small girl again. She was chattering away fondly about her teammates. He nodded his head to himself and smiled. These two children had made sure that Sasuke wasn't ruined. Itachi was certain now that Sasuke was in good hands.
He stood up and began to brush dirt from his pants. The little girl jumped to her feet as well. "I should get going," he said softly as he handed her the filled container of water.
"Do you have time to meet my teammates, Onii-san?" Sakura looked at him pleadingly.
Itachi shook his head gently. "I have to be meeting my partner." Sorry, Sasuke. Maybe some other time. He lifted his hand and pat the little girl on the head. She laughed.
He then turned and began to walk towards the dark forest. As he went, he made sure the little girl had turned around and left before he pulled out his Akatsuki cloak and draped it over his shoulders.
- - - - - -
Sakura returned to the camp gasping as she pushed, pulled, lifted, and kicked the container of water back with her.
Sasuke and Naruto were already back at camp, sitting in front of a fire with fish roasting over it.
Sasuke glanced up at her return. Naruto jumped to his feet and strode forward to help her with the container. "Sakura-chan, I'll help yo-"
Sasuke flashed in front of Sakura and gently tugged the container out of her hands. She gazed at him in surprise while Naruto sulked.
"Teme! I was going to help her!" Naruto yelled out.
Sasuke ignored Naruto completely as he put the container by their tent and turned his attention back towards the fish over the fire. "… heavy," he muttered.
Sakura grinned. "Yeah it is. But I had some help from a man at the stream. He was so nice and really very handsome!" she squealed in delight.
Naruto crossed his arms over his chest in jealously. "Sakura-chan, I could have gone with you."
"Hn," Sasuke grunted.
Sakura smiled at him and trotted over to sit next to him. "But ya know, Sasuke-kun, you're my number one!"
Sasuke turned his face slightly to the side. Sakura didn't catch the slight lift of his lips.
The bright fire danced around, casting shadows on the forest floor as the three young ninjas sat around and ate their dinner.
- - - - - -
Leaves crunched underneath the man's feet as he moved through the now-dark forest. Moonlight peeked through the tops of the trees, sending bright, ethereal rays down to the forest floor.
Itachi smiled to himself as he walked away, his dark Akatsuki cloak billowing behind him. Sasuke, you have friends who care about you. And this girl… I approve, little brother.
AWWWWW! I LOVE YOU ITACHI! No really, I do. Anyways, REVIEW! Reviews, reviews, they're good for your heart.... umm yeah, that's not going to work here is it? *sweatdrops*