I've always wanted to write a cute brotherly oneshot with Itachi and Sasuke. This is NOT incest!

Summary: Pre-massacre. "Cocoa!" he chimed, as though his mere answer was the solution to the world's problems. Indeed it is, Itachi thought. Indeed.

Hot Cocoa

It was a particularly snowy day, remarked the young boy reclining on a thick tree branch. The air was cold and crisp, revealing his breath's ghost as he looked up at the starkly gray sky. The raven-haired boy watched in silence as pure white snowflakes drifted lazily and slowly down from heaven—so pure, he thought. And frail. One touch and they'll break down and melt into their liquid state. Dark, ashen eyes followed the snowflakes and their intricate trail down to earth, down, down to where everything wasn't so pure and white; where everything was tainted with dirt and power and futile attempts to cover it all up, to sugarcoat it hoping that everyone would eventually forget what kind of world they truly live in.

There was once upon a time when the boy believed that the world was as warm and as bright as he could see, where rainbows were signs of a kept promise and there was no such thing as malevolence. Oh, how painfully wrong he was…

He should've known everything wasn't all rainbows and unicorns.

But then again, that was why he loved the snow so much. It was a sort of comfort to him, observing its pure whiteness as it softly wafted down from that same heaven that he learned could also be as cruel as man. It comforted him knowing, that despite all the sins the earth was suffocating from, that something as innocent as the snow would always fall freely, without restraint. Free.

The ten-year-old boy continued watching the snowflakes through half-lidded eyes, his long, sooty eyelashes giving them an exotic appearance. He watched the delicate snowflake drift down like a feather until it came to rest, joining the rest of its siblings as they mingled, mixed, and diluted the still-bloody landscape.

Itachi closed his eyes, his eyelashes casting a soft shadow below them. Turning, he jumped from the tree branch he was resting on and headed on towards his hometown, leaving behind a field of men splayed out every which way, their blood tainting the innocent snow in his wake.

Back at home, a young boy around five years old lay anxiously on the floor of the living room, staring at the ceiling with boredom. His spiky, unruly hair tickled the floorboards as he turned his head to take in the scenery in the backyard. Everything was so white, he thought. The snow covered anything and everything it came into contact with…

Not to mention it also made everything so darn cold.

The little boy mutely shivered when he felt goose bumps coming on, making the hair on the back of his neck stand on its end. Unlike his elder brother, he absolutely hated the snow; not only was it cold, but it also lacked a variety of color and henceforth made everything else bland whenever it came around. The colorful and lively atmosphere he came to know Konoha by was always muted by this darn, white snow.Darn painfully white, he added mentally.

Sigh. Where is his big brother when he needs him? It's so boring… He was on winter break from school and he wanted to spend the remainder of his time with his elder sibling. His older brother was becoming scarce lately and he could count on one hand the number of times he played with him this week.

Just then the sound of a sliding door frame roused the little boy from his thoughts, his onyx orbs lighting up. Turning his head to the source of the sound, sure enough he heard that familiar voice he grew up with resound throughout their home.

"I'm home," said the voice. It was quiet but defining, its tone hinting at the low tenor it would soon reach with age.

Recognizing the voice, the little boy jumped up from where he was laying and ran to the source, his face lit up. He could see their mother fussing over the elder boy like usual every time he returned from a mission, asking if he was okay, if he was hurt anywhere. And like usual, the elder simply shook his head, politely reporting to her that nothing was wrong, that everything went according to plan and he wasn't hurt. Even though he had said it more out of routine than actual truth, his words assured his worrisome mother nonetheless and, giving him one last look at her firstborn, she resumed her daily household chores (she'd never understand how he felt anyway, he thought). After her leave, the little boy happily bounded up to his older brother, giving him the biggest hug he could possibly muster with his five-year-old strength.

"Welcome back, big brother!" he chirped. Itachi stood still, the snow and the bloody field having worn down his features and energy. Sighing, he extended his tired arms around the younger, livelier boy holding him while giving his usual response.

"… Yeah. How have you been, Sasuke?" Even though Itachi was bone-weary and fatigued from all the missions he's been assigned, his younger brother never failed to cheer him up. A small, but warm smile graced his thin lips as he waited for his little brother to reply.

"Bored!" he drawled in his boyish albeit squeaky voice. "Mother won't let me train outside because of the weather and there's nothing to do at home. But enough about that," his face lit up again, just like a Christmas decoration. "Can we play now? What kind of games do you wanna play?" He chirped again, childishly resembling a twittering bird with dark, spiky hair. Then the mother of the two boys decided to intervene, her voice floating from the kitchen room.

"Sasuke!" she scolded, "Itachi-chan is tired from his mission. Let him rest!" The little boy pouted and looked down, his large, dark eyes silently pleading with the older brother to change her mind.

Like his, they were dark and ashen colored but his little brother's was filled with so much life and energy that, even though their colors were the same, Sasuke's eyes just seemed so much brighter. Itachi could never resist those eyes. His grin grew a fraction wider as he felt his chest being warmed from the sight of such innocence… How could he ever refuse such a look? The elder raven-haired boy silently but willingly gave in and objected softly to their mother.

"It's okay, mother. The mission wasn't that hard anyway…" A flash of the blood-tainted snowfield flickered behind his eyes, but he ignored it. He always did. "But can we sit by the fireplace instead, Sasuke? I really am tired now."

The sentence momentarily doused Sasuke's expression but he immediately revived again, happy to finally be able to spend some time with his sibling. Dropping his equipment on the floor, Itachi retrieved a blanket from the closet and proceeded to wrap the both of them as they sat down in front of the fireplace. Sasuke snuggled closer to his raven-haired brother, but upon so noticed that he was shivering slightly.

"Big brother?" he asked curiously. Itachi turned to look at Sasuke, the fire casting soft yellow rays onto the two.

"Yes, Sasuke?"

"Why are you shivering?" Sasuke waited for his sibling to reply but Itachi remained silent, his eyes suddenly taking on a darker quality. Not wanting to push it further, the little boy was just about to let it go when the elder suddenly replied.

"I'm shivering because it's cold, Sasuke," he said quietly, his eyes downcast. But Sasuke didn't understand; they were both warming themselves in front of a fire with a blanket around them… how could his big brother still feel cold? Seeing the confusion in his little brother's eyes, Itachi hastily answered again. "It's not the kind of cold you feel right now… it's different," however it only served to confuse the poor little boy even more.

"There's a different kind of cold?" he asked, shocked. Itachi mentally slapped himself.

"Yes… well, no," he began, not quite sure how to explain the concept. Itachi wasn't even sure if there even was a different kind of cold; it could be just his own perception of such things after all and therefore would not be necessarily real. He was going to give up on explaining what he felt, but one look at those large, dark and innocent orbs that belonged to the boy was more than enough to get him to continue. "It's… difficult to explain. The kind I'm feeling is as though my insides are…" he struggled to find the right word, "… freezing…" he mumbled. "Never mind me. You're probably too young to understand."

Sasuke, feeling slightly hurt, objected. "I am not!" He whined. "I bet I know how to make it feel better, too!"

Now that, Itachi had to smile at. His little brother really was too cute. "Oh?" he asked, truly curious as to what the "solution" was. "And what would that be?"

Sasuke scrunched up his face in deep thought, his adorable little button nose and flushed cheeks taking on an even more cherubic quality. Itachi readjusted his grip on the blanket to keep it from slipping.

"Well?" the raven-haired sibling waited patienly. For a split second, the little boy seemed lost but he quickly regained his composure, not wanting to seem as though he really didn't know. After a moment's silence, however, he finally replied.

"Cocoa!" he chimed, as though his mere answer was the solution to the world's problems. Itachi quirked a thin eyebrow at the answer.

"Cocoa?" he asked incredulously.

"Yep!" Sasuke smiled triumphantly. "Hot cocoa, to be exact! It's sure to warm up your freezing insides, big brother. All you have to do is get it inside you and you'll feel all better!"

A moment passed… Then another, and another until it became a lengthy silence. The elder boy simply stared at the younger with an expression that bordered between indifference and mild surprise, his eyes reflecting the warm light the fire gave off. Sasuke began to grow worried with his brother's silence, when all of a sudden… his sibling laughed.

Itachi wasn't sure what was so funny to make him laugh so suddenly, but… he couldn't help it. His quiet laughter was filled with so much mirth and affection for his young sibling that it seemed to make the living room that much warmer. When was the last time he laughed so much?

"W-what?" Sasuke asked defensively, his cheeks flaming. Was his brother laughing at him?

"Oh… nothing!" Itachi said in between his laughter. "It's just…"

"…Just?" Itachi laughed again, his smile growing wider by the second.

"It's just," he struggled to gain at least a moment's composure. "…You're smarter than you look, Sasuke." Itachi smiled again and ruffled his hair before going into another fit. Hearing her eldest son's laughter emanating from the living room, Mikoto emerged from the kitchen with a worried expression on her face. Since when did her eldest laugh like that?

"Oh, Mother!" Sasuke noticed Mikoto's presence. "Can you make us some hot cocoa for big brother and me?" Itachi turned his head to acknowledge his mother, and small smile gracing his lips. His eyes took on a lighter quality than before. Mikoto stood surprised by the doorway, but she soon recovered at the sight of her sons cuddled up together. She smiled softly.

"Of course, dearies," soon after she came back with two steamy hot cups of chocolaty cocoa, fully ready to be enjoyed. Itachi and Sasuke each took one, blowing the steam away before taking a tentative sip. The raven-haired boy's eyes widened by a fraction but it disappeared as soon as it came, replaced instead by silent praise for the sweet, chocolate flavor of the drink. He drank it all down then, lavishing the feel of the hot liquid sliding down his throat and into his belly…

And sure enough he felt the ice that coated his insides melting down, the cocoa's warmth inside his body sending goose bumps all along his arms and the back of his neck. Itachi stared at the now-empty cup in his hands, truly smiling for the first time since… well, he wasn't quite sure. Heck, he's not quite sure of many things nowadays… but he at least knew one thing.

Cocoa does make you feel better.

'You're a lot smarter than you look, Sasuke,' he thought. 'More than you'd ever know.'

Hot Cocoa End

The whole thing with the snow and hot cocoa and whatnot was inspired by one of my good friends, who gave me a packet of cocoa powder for winter break. It was darn good. I hope you guys liked it. XD

Please read and review, for they feed my passion for fanfiction (hey, that rhymes!). 8)

-- Wingless Fallen Angel