Majority of Konoha's clueless denizens, upon his birth, believed the first Uchiha heir would be constantly chasing after the shadow of his father. He had turned out to be a mirror image, after all, save for his mother's heartbreaking smile.

Majority of Konoha's clueless denizens were very much surprised to watch young Uchiha Kitai fight tooth and nail to live up to that smile.

Kitai loved his parents with all his young heart.

Even at such a young age, barely even touching rationality, he understood his parents were powerful people. Even though he could not understand words, being the child of two shinobi, he was extremely chakra sensitive.

His parents' chakra hit him like tidal waves.

Sasuke's was a turbulent force, never really staying on one wavelength long enough to be understood. For all its inconsistency, it made no secret of the power it held.

Sakura's was constant, soothing, nurturing. Anyone would be instantly drawn to it, would want to drown in it. And yet, there was no hiding the sheer amount of power underlining its healing nature.

It was very rare Kitai would leave his mother's side.

When Kitai turned two years old, his mother gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Her eyes were a bright green, and her hair was a lovely shade of wine red. Kitai loved Uchiha Mikomi at first sight.

When her wide eyes fixed themselves on his, he knew she loved him, too.

Kitai gained the Sharingan at the tender age of three.

A stray dog had managed to enter the Uchiha compound. Having no actual chakra, it failed to alert the attentions of two of the Leaf's most powerful.

The mongrel had eased its way into the baby's room and crept up towards the baby. At that moment, Kitai had been entering the room.

The sight of the dirty canine perched over defenseless Mikomi's crib was enough to get his bloodline whirring.

The chakra that spiked was enough to bring his parents to the room at breakneck speed, kunais at the ready. Sakura swiftly dealt with the intruder as Sasuke gazed, mesmerized, at his son's Sharingan eyes.

Under Sasuke's instruction, Kitai watched, with his Sharingan activated, his parents' daily spars. Usually, they sparred with each other. Other times, when Sasuke was out on a mission or Sakura at an emergency operation, they would spar with family friends or fellow ANBU.

Here, Kitai began to understand just how good-looking his parents were, and the sheer magnitude of their power.

Sasuke had cold, aristocratic features. They were beyond aesthetically pleasing, easily surpassing those of all of his sparring partners. Yet they did not invite any emotion. Like lovely marble sculptures, there was no warmth to his pale skin, nor in the expressions he made.

Sakura, too, was outstandingly beautiful. Her eyes were wide and always, always shining. Her lips were always eager to form smiles. Her cheeks were perpetually rosy. She looked every bit like one of the fairies or princesses in Mikomi's storybooks, or like one of the goddesses in the many paintings decorating the house. She was so warm, so full of life, inviting everyone in and leaving no one resistant to her natural charm.

In fighting, Sasuke was swift and frigid. Every move was calculated, leaving no room for error. His father seemed the perfect ninja: quick, silent, and efficient. He moved like a cat, his prey left with no hope for survival.

Sakura embodied strength and grace. Every move was sincere and outrageously strong, either in the massive way they broke bones or the tiny way they massacred bodily functions. She worked to exploit her opponent's weaknesses and undermine their patterns of offense. She moved like a dancer, evading assault and easily prepared to heal any damages sustained.

This watching only strengthened the foundation on which Kitai would model himself after his mother.

But it was Sasuke who trained Kitai first.

Kitai was spitting out fireballs and in the Academy by the time he was five. Sasuke would smugly discuss how the boy would probably be learning Chidori by the time he graduated. Sakura would laugh, evidently proud of her son. Those moments were short-lived, for after only a glimmer of pride, Sakura would swiftly return to nursing three-year-old Mikomi, who had yet to activate her Sharingan.

Not quite yet disheartened, Kitai soaked in everything his father taught him, viewing them all as steps closer to levelling mountains with his fingers.

Kitai was seven and on his Genin team, under Moegi, already capable of Sharingan and Chidori and complex fire jutsu.

Mikomi was five, not quite yet in the Academy, but finally capable of the most basic of fire jutsu.

On one of Team 9's earlier days, Moegi gave the standard exercise on chakra control.

"You guys remember your Academy lessons on chakra, correct?" Moegi's voice was gentle and soft, but in its meekness demanded great respect. Her bright eyes surveyed them critically.

"Yes, Moegi-sensei."

"All right, today I'm going to help you refine your chakra control. Chakra needs to be used efficiently, or else some jutsu will not be able to work to their full capacity. Some jutsu, like the Hyuuga Gentle Fist techniques or medical ninjutsu will cannot even be executed without proper chakra control."

This caught Kitai's attention. His muscles flexed with anticipation.

"Today, we'll be doing tree-climbing. Not the kind that you think!" Smiling gently at the shocked faces of her students, Moegi walked up a tree, as if she were merely strolling down a street.

Amazed, Kitai waited for his teacher to explain further.

"This will help you bring the proper amount of chakra to the proper area, and can be difficult for even the greatest of ninja. The amount of chakra needed to climb a tree is small, but it has to be exact. Plus, the most difficult area to gather chakra is at the soles of your feet. " Gracefully, Moegi jumped down.

"Additionally, this exercise will improve your stamina." With a careless flick of her wrist, three kunai landed in front of the genin.

"Don't expect to get this right on your first try, so you'll have to run up the tree as opposed to carelessly walking along," Moegi said. "In Konoha's history, only two ninja have been known to have gotten it right on their first try. The first would be the late Godaime-sama, and the second..." Moegi turned to wink at Kitai. "Kitai-kun, that'd be Sakura-sama."

Kitai grinned. "What else to expect from kaa-chan?"

With a smirk, Moegi addressed her three students. "Are you going to stand around here all day? Go!"

Kitai did not get it perfectly on his first try. Nor his second. Nor his third. Nor fourth, fifth, sixth...

After hours of practice, he had managed to, even before his other teammates. But what did those hours imply? Every jutsu he had learned, every step he had taken, all of which were to be one step closer to his mother. Yet what if he had not really been equipped for her power in the first place?

He reached the compound, embittered. His only comfort was the smell of tomato soup wafting down from the kitchen window.

Kitai opened the ancient door, its loud creaks announcing his return home. He had barely stepped over the threshold when he was assaulted by a red blur.

He let out a small 'oomph!' as his sister knocked him to the floor.

"Nii-chan, nii-chan, guess what?" she cooed merrily, her green eyes sparkling with mirth.

He chuckled gently, petting her red curls. "What is it?" Sakura stood a good few feet behind them, smiling softly at their dynamic. Sasuke was behind her, chin resting on her shoulder and arms thrown around her waist.

"Look what I can do!" Mikomi brought out a rock from her pocket. Before his eyes, she fisted it, hard, and effectively crushed it into dust. Smugly, she looked up at him through thick lashes. "I'm really, really strong like kaa-chan!"

Kitai gulped, nodding. "That's great, Komi-chan; I'm so proud of you..."

He caught his mother's eyes. They shone with great pride, obviously so pleased with Mikomi's progress.

"She's really your daughter," Kitai heard Sasuke murmur into his wife's ear. The boy returned his gaze to Mikomi, cheeks puffed up with accomplishment.

He tried very hard to remember he loved her.

Sakura always believed that a proper and truly excellent teacher paid the most attention to the weak. It was a fatal flaw in many mentors that they so chose to shower their teaching on the geniuses. It was some form of self-flattery, she believed, that they would do so, supposing that they were behind their students' innate talents. Sakura refused to be that way. It showed in the nurses she apprenticed, and it showed in Mikomi.

She loved Kitai and Mikomi equally. Kitai showed every sign of becoming yet another Uchiha genius. Mikomi... needed a little more pushing. Inexorably, her attentions went to the sweet little girl.

Sakura refused to overly shower Kitai with pride and training, in fear of the monster he could become.

Sakura also refused to believe she was bitter.

After a spar with his mother, he sat down in the kitchen as his mother prepared him a snack.

He watched her as she did so. She really was his hero, in every way. Everyone in the village knew and loved her; she was powerful and nurturing all at once. He so wanted to be like her, to be both healer and fighter: the perfect defender.

Most of all, Kitai wanted Sakura to be proud of him. She very rarely seemed to be.

Smiling, she took a seat next to him, and laid out his snack. "Eat up."

Kitai ate down the tomato sandwich like a lifeline. Sakura laughed.

"You really are your father's son, even in the way you fight..." She ruffled his hair affectionately.

Kitai paused, frowning, and looked up at her. "Am I your son, too?"

She smiled gently at him. "Of course you are. Especially when you smile for me."

There was so much pride in her eyes, so much love that he could feel down to his very being.

So smile he did.

Kitai was ten, rearing up for the Chuunin exam. Mikomi was eight, about to graduate from the Academy, Sharingan finally activated. They were both very accomplished, having trained under both mother and father. The village looked upon them with anticipation for the great shinobi they were becoming.

Kitai was a deadly combination of his father's lightning and speed and his mother's evasion skills and tactics. Mikomi was a rising star with her father's skill with fire and her mother's strength, as well as an in-progress, unorthodox combination of both their genjutsu.

Kitai was viewed as another Uchiha Sasuke. Mikomi was another kunoichi to break the ninja system's sexist nature.

Mikomi was very much thrilled with her place in the ninja world.

Kitai still wanted to be more like Sakura.

"You know, tou-san, I've always wanted to be like kaa-chan."

Sasuke was surprised, but it did not show. "What do you mean?"

The morning sun gazed gently down on them, lighting up the Uchiha compound and leaving it with an ambiance of heavenly bliss. The lake flared to life with a spectrum of colors.

Sasuke and Kitai sat by it, feet dangling in the water. Mikomi was at the Academy, and Sakura was on a mission. When Kitai had asked about the latter, Sasuke bristled uncomfortably and remained silent. Kitai had not asked further.

Kitai reflected on his father's question. "Kaa-chan is perfect."

Sasuke smiled briefly. "Aa."

The Uchiha patriarch abruptly stood up and walked towards the house. Kitai hurriedly scampered after him.

"I'll never be like her, though," he mumbled, eyes on the blooming cherry blossom trees that lined the pathways. The Rokudaime had told him that Sasuke had commissioned a certain Yamato to grow them there. When asked, Sasuke vehemently denied it. "That perfect chakra control... I wasn't born with it. I'll never be able to have her strength, nor her healing..."

Sasuke frowned down at his son.

"And I don't even look like her!" Kitai continued. After a beat, he smiled. "I guess that means I'll have to strive harder to live up to her name."

The silence hung in the air for a few moments. Sasuke intensely observed his son's smile.

"You're a lot more alike than you'd think."

Shocked, Kitai looked up at his father. Their eyes did not meet, for Sasuke's steady gaze had moved on to the cherry blossom.

"You want to be like her, too, don't you, tou-san?"

There was a smile in Sasuke's eyes.


It was in moments like these Kitai was pleased to be his father's mirror image.

Kitai did not tell either of his parents that he often perused his mother's medical tomes, and that he practised as much as he could under Moegi's guidance.

"You know, Kitai-kun," Moegi mused as Kitai struggled with healing another fallen bird. "I've always idolized Sakura-sama, as well. I was so happy when she briefly apprenticed me in the hospital..."

Kitai nodded curtly. He was so strained with healing the bird's wing. It was such a simple injury, a small wound on a vital spot of its left wing. He had to be able to heal this. He had to be able to imitate his mother, just in this. Perhaps he would never be as excellent as she was, or as Mikomi would be, but if there were things he had gotten from his mother...

They were her refusal to lose and the way she put her heart into everything she did.

Skin, muscle, and feather mended seamlessly together.

Only acceptance was left behind, deep down in Kitai's heart.

Sakura stumbled into the house clumsily, blood dripping down from her ANBU attire. Before Kitai or Mikomi could process that their mother was home, their father had already scooped her into his arms.

"Tou-san, let me take a look at her," Kitai said quickly, rising to his feet. Mikomi looked on, wide-eyed. Kitai knew she had already become quite proficient with medical ninjutsu, but she was still too innocent to be prepared for a real life situation.

Kitai had been waiting for the opportunity nearly all of his life.

Before his father could protest, Kitai dashed over to Sakura, assessing the severity of her wounds. Systematically, he got to healing her only major wound. It was a slash across her hip. It wasn't lifeā‚¬ threatening, which probably explained why she hadn't bothered to heal it, but it was bleeding profusely.

He was not efficient enough to fully heal her, so exhausted, he collapsed to the ground, breathing heavily. At the very least, he had managed to close the wound. Mikomi, finally shaken out of her stupor and the risk finally factored out of the equation, quickly got about to finishing the job.

Sasuke's and Sakura's eyes remained on Kitai.

"Kitai," Sakura began weakly. Kitai's eyes met hers. "You... truly are..." They both smiled. And even with so many differences, he was, for once, her mirror image.

"My son."

author's notes

sakura deserves some loviiing. :|

kitai and mikomi both mean 'hope'. :)

reviews make my day! :D

/edit: tried to put the horizontal lines back in. ff formatting is weird. will probably get around to actual editing sooner or later. thank you to everyone who's reviewed this piece ! :)