Second part! ^_^ Still very fluffy, but every fluff needs its darker counterparts...no triumph without struggle...no happy ending without some challenge... -_- there's some drama here, okay?
Warnings: still some language...still lots of fluff...beware of cavaties and gum infections from the sweetness...good Lord...
Disclaimer: I'm claiming this Naruto! HE'S MINE! MINE I TELL YOU! *Kishimoto comes in and drags Naruto away, showing ownership papers* NOOO! (ToT) JUST FOR AN HOUR? PLEASE! *grasps at his feet while begging*
It was five weeks after the Sakura-event that things took a new turn once more…
Sasuke stared at the small boy before him, eyes wide. Defiant and angry blue eyes stared right back at him, and the small tan palm was still extended towards him. Sasuke didn't even move, his mouth slightly open in a stunned gape. Naruto was starting to get impatient.
"Come on!" the little blond snapped, wiggling his fingers. "Give 'em here!"
Over on the other couch, Itachi and Fugaku exchanged curious looks. They had all been sitting peacefully, watching some TV. Naruto was staying with them for the day while his parents were at work and Sasuke had school holidays now that his exams were done. The day care that Naruto usually went to was closed for the day. Things had been fine, but Naruto had seemed a bit odd. He was fidgety and kept glancing over at Sasuke. Finally, the Uchiha got tired of Naruto's poorly disguised looks, so he'd asked what was wrong.
Naruto had responded by jumping off the couch, glaring at him and holding out his hand, demanding that Sasuke 'Give them to him'.
Needless to say that Sasuke was completely confused.
"Uh...Naruto? What are you talking about?" he asked, looking towards his father and brother. The two of them looked at him, then Naruto, and then each other before shrugging simultaneously. Sasuke scowled.
'Fat lot of help they are,' he thought, shaking his head.
"Sasuke! Give them to me! Right now!" Naruto snapped, stomping his foot. Sasuke's lips twitched upwards.
"Naruto, I don't know what you want me to give to you!" he said, raising his hands in a gesture of 'I don't know'. Naruto huffed, thrusting his hand out again.
"Give me those stick thingies you burn and put in your mouth, that are really bad for you!" he said, trying to clarify.
Sasuke was just as confused as before. Naruto's 'clarification' made no sense to him.
"Sasuke!" Itachi suddenly said, nearly launching out of his seat. Sasuke turned to his brother, surprised to see the sudden anger in Itachi's eyes.
"What?" he asked, feeling defensive. Fugaku was also looking at Itachi curiously.
The older sibling stood up, striding over and pinning Sasuke with a nasty glare.
"Have you been smoking?!" Itachi asked viciously. Fugaku's spine snapped up straight, his eyes boring into Sasuke's skull since the youngest Uchiha refused to meet anyone's gaze. Itachi growled, reaching out and clasping Sasuke's shoulders tightly. "Sasuke! Answer me!"
Sasuke shoved his hand away. "Yes, alright! I've been smoking! So what?" he snapped. "It's nobody's business whether I do or not!" he added, sending a look to Naruto. The blond looked upset for a moment before he shook his head violently.
"No! Sasuke, those aren't good! You mustn't have them!" Naruto yelled and without any more prompting, he launched himself at Sasuke. The raven was unprepared for his attack and so the both of them went sprawling to the floor. Sasuke groaned, having hit his head hard. His eyes snapped open when he felt Naruto's hand sink into his pocket and he made a futile attempt to grab the speedy blond before he could escape with the packet of cigarettes he'd stolen. Naruto jumped away, rushing into the kitchen with Sasuke and Itachi hot on his tail. They saw Naruto standing by the trash compactor and Sasuke freaked.
"No! Don't you dare, you damn brat!" he roared, leaping forward. He was stopped when Itachi wrapped his arms around his waist, halting his movement. "Itachi, get the fuck off of me!"
Itachi grunted as Sasuke struggled in his grip, and Sasuke glared at Naruto who was standing by the compactor, looking hesitant and hurt.
"Don't you dare throw those there!" Sasuke yelled angrily. Naruto shook slightly, but pulled a determined frown.
"Mom told me these were very bad! She said that people die from these! I don't want Sasuke to die!" and with that declaration, Naruto tossed the packet into the compactor. The sound of automatic grinding reached their ears and for a moment, Sasuke froze.
Then he panicked.
Smoking had been his crutch for so long now. He had started it back when he was in the gang, when all the trouble had truly begun. It had changed from being something he did to be cool into something he did to stay sane. Nothing relaxed him like the burn of smoke in his throat or the taste of tobacco on his tongue. Logically he could've gone and bought more, but he always had at least three on his person when he went to do so. It seemed like it had been forever since he'd ever not had a single cigarette on his being.
And the thought terrified him. Somehow, just knowing that they were there, that he could smoke them at any time he wished, was like a comfort. Now he knew they were gone, and he also knew that getting more wouldn't be easy with Itachi and his father breathing down his neck.
And the only reason they knew at all was because of Naruto.
It was Naruto's fault.
"You fucking brat! Why the fuck did you do that?! Are you trying to piss me off, you little shit!?" Sasuke shrieked, anger exploding inside of him. It was an old anger. One he hadn't felt in a long time, since he met Naruto. But it had been lingering beneath the surface. Ever since his encounter with Sakura, it had been closer than ever, but now it was breaking free. There had been some kind of tether on his addiction to cigarettes that he wasn't even aware of. And now that it was broken, the horse was running free.
"Sasuke!" Itachi yelled, looking torn between angry and appalled. Naruto stood by the counter, frozen in place with eyes the size of small dinner plates. The blue jewels looked watery and Itachi could see the faint tremble to his plump lower lip.
'Oh no, please don't cry Naruto! Don't cry! He doesn't really mean it!' Itachi thought frantically. His hopes were too high, however. Naruto was only five years old, after all.
The little blond sniffed, clenching his fists tightly while his shoulders trembled. The first fat tear hung precariously at the corner of his eye before it dripped down his cheek.
Itachi felt Sasuke's entire body seize up, undoubtedly his senses returning to him at the sight of Naruto starting to cry.
Both brothers watched in horror as more fat tears rolled down Naruto's marked cheeks. He raised his small fists to his eyes, rubbing frantically but it only made the tears come faster. His sniffles were escalating into sobs until finally he screamed.
"STUPID UGLY SASUKE!" he shrieked and started to bawl loudly, tears streaming down his cheeks and nose running.
Itachi winced, feeling guilty and sorry that Naruto had gotten so upset. He had come to know the blond, somewhat, since Sasuke started hanging around him and he liked him. He was a good kid with a fun temperament and a golden heart. Plus he was just so cute sometimes. Seeing him cry, because of his precious Sasuke no less, tugged at Itachi's heart.
Sasuke was horrified with himself. He couldn't believe what he'd said to Naruto and he wished he could take it back. He had gotten so angry, so fast, he hadn't been able to control his mouth. And now he'd made Naruto cry. It was like someone had dumped a bucket of ice cold water over him and then pushed him into a pit of needles. Guilt, regret, pain and hurt were flushing around inside him and he opened his mouth, trying to think of what to say to make it better.
But no words could come.
Naruto was still in hysterical tears, and both the Uchiha children had no idea what to say or do to help.
Fugaku swept into the room at that moment, walking straight past his sons and right over to the crying boy. He bent down and picked Naruto up. Automatically the blond wrapped his legs around as much of Fugaku's waist as he could and pressed his face into the man's shoulder, sobbing loudly. Fugaku used one arm to support the blond and the other was rubbing his back soothingly.
He turned to his sons, fixing them both with a stern look that they used to get when they were younger and had been caught with their fingers in the cookie jar-or his wallet, depending which son it was.
"Sasuke, you are grounded. No TV, no computer, no games, no going out, nothing. You stay in your room and read a book or sleep, but I will not hear a peep from you! Do you understand me?" he barked, and Sasuke cringed slightly, nodding his head. It had been a long time since his father used that tone with him. Even when he was rebelling before, his father hadn't sounded like this. Something about the situation involving a five year old seemed to change him. It reverted him back to the father he was before...the incident.
"Itachi. You will make sure Sasuke doesn't leave this house. And you will search his room for any more cigarettes and throw them away. Is that clear?"
Itachi nodded immediately, letting go of Sasuke and standing aside. Fugaku gave him a nod and gave Sasuke a look that was filled with something that made the youngest Uchiha tremble with remorse.
His father was disappointed with him. He could handle anger, and even sadness or frustration. But disappointment? That wasn't something that Fugaku showed often. Even with his rebellious nature, Fugaku hadn't been disappointed in him. He'd been angry, upset, annoyed, frustrated...but he'd never been disappointed. At least, not like he was now.
"W-where are you going?" Sasuke asked hesitantly, watching as his father carried the crying child through the house.
"I'm taking Naruto out to calm him down and cheer him up. Then I'm going to call his mother and ask her what she would like me to do," Fugaku said. "She might want me to bring him to her work, or call another babysitter for him."
Sasuke opened his mouth to argue, but Itachi gripped his shoulder, shaking his head and nodding pointedly towards Naruto.
The blond wasn't sobbing as much, but he was hiccupping something fierce and sniffling pathetically. His hands were clinging to Fugaku's shirt and he refused to lift his head and look anywhere near Sasuke.
Sasuke shut his mouth and hung his head.
Fugaku gathered up Naruto's jacket and the plush fox he'd brought with him, all while carrying the boy, and walked out the front door.
Silence descended on the Uchiha house. Itachi stood for a moment before he walked upstairs and went into Sasuke's room to search for any secret cigarettes. Sasuke stood still in the kitchen, his head down and his eyes blank. He couldn't get the image of Naruto crying out of his mind, nor could he forget the blond's shout.
"Stupid ugly Sasuke!"
Itachi returned soon, having found no more cigarettes. He stood before Sasuke awkwardly for a moment before sighing heavily and taking a hold of his brother's elbow. Without a word, he led Sasuke down the hall and up the stairs, taking him to his room and leading him to sit on the bed.
Just before he left, he heard Sasuke speak.
"I really am stupid..."
Itachi frowned sadly, glancing over his shoulder. He felt a shiver of sadness slice through his body when he saw that Sasuke was clutching into the floral-patterned pillow that belonged to their mother. Closing his eyes, Itachi turned and left the room, closing the door behind him with a soft click.
Fugaku had taken Naruto out for ice cream and then, to make sure the blond wouldn't break down again, he bought him a nice plush toy that Naruto pointed out when told he could get one. Fugaku had plenty of money, and he was happy to spend some to make Naruto happy. His own sons were so old now; they hardly spent time with him. Itachi did make time for him, but as he was an adult, they spent that time talking about grown-up things like politics and life and the best ways to enslave the human race.
It was nice to just go out and get some ice cream and talk about silly, mundane things, like learning to tie shoelaces and 'that funny nursery rhyme that Ms Hinata tries to sing but she keeps stuttering'. It made him think back to the days when he would do the same with Sasuke and Itachi.
He missed those days. Back then he was still called 'Daddy' or 'Dad'; he was still hugged every time he came home from work and he was always the strong saviour that helped his sons when they needed.
Now he was just 'Father' or 'Old man' or 'Fugaku'. Lord, he had never hated his name as much as he did now. Especially when it was spoken in the cold tone of an estranged son.
He and Naruto sat at a park a few blocks from their houses, licking their ice cream. Naruto had a double scoop of chocolate while Fugaku had gotten mint. He was rather partial to mint. Naruto clutched the plush toy in his arms; it was a squishy, fat, black bird with a dorky hairstyle. Fugaku had a guess as to why he chose it among the selection of brighter, cuter toys.
"He didn't mean it," he said. Naruto looked up, his tongue poking out of his lips after having taken a lick of his treat. Fugaku smiled at the small smears of ice cream around his mouth. He was a messy little eater. Reaching for a napkin, Fugaku handed it to the blond to clean up.
"Sasuke didn't mean those nasty things he said," he continued. Naruto looked down, eyes sad.
"...B-but he was so mad! I didn't mean to make him mad," Naruto mumbled and took a slow lick of his ice cream. His hair fell into his eyes and Fugaku couldn't help but think he needed a haircut. His parent-reactions were kicking in. "But I don't want Sasuke to die..."
The whisper bought a smile to Fugaku's stern face. This child was adorable.
"Naruto, what did your mom tell you about cigarettes?" he asked, taking a solid bite out of his own treat. He saw Naruto stare at him in horror for the action and grinned.
"Well...she said that smoking was bad," Naruto began, swinging his legs. "And she said that if someone smoked lots, they would get crab and die!" he waved his hand about, looking upset again.
Fugaku tilted his head. "Crab?" he repeated, confused before it clicked. "Oh, you mean cancer!" he corrected, remembering the star sign. He found it amusing that Naruto would remember astrology as a link for words. Naruto nodded.
"Yeah! She told me that her mom had can-sir and that she died from it! I don't want Sasuke to get can-sir and die!" Naruto looked genuinely distraught by the mere thought.
Fugaku smiled and reached over, ruffling his hair. Naruto peered up at him through one eye, his other one closed from the affectionate gesture.
"Naruto, do you know what happened to Sasuke's mom?" Fugaku asked suddenly. Naruto blinked and shook his head. "Well, when Sasuke was younger, his mom went to the doctor and they said that she had cancer," Fugaku began.
Naruto gasped dramatically, nearly dropping his ice cream. "Oh no! So she...is she..." he trailed off, staring at Fugaku as the man nodded solemnly.
"Yes. She died a year and a half ago."
Naruto looked ready to cry. "Did she smoke?" he asked and when Fugaku nodded, a tear beaded at the corner of his eye. "T-then why does Sasuke d-do it too?"
Fugaku sighed heavily, looking to the sky. "...Perhaps he does it because it makes him feel closer to her..." he mused. "Or he does it because I'm a bad father."
"You're not a bad dad," Naruto said honestly, looking up at him. "You love Sasuke and Itachi! And you look after them! You're a good dad!" Naruto insisted. Fugaku smiled.
"Thank you. Now, Naruto, I know this might be hard for you to understand," he began, scooting closer to the boy. "But when Sasuke's mom died, he was very, very upset. You see, Sasuke loved her the most. She used to spend a lot of time with him while I spent more time with Itachi. I love Sasuke and Itachi equally, but back then, they were both growing up at different stages and I was more...ready...to deal with Itachi's growth than Sasuke's. So his mother was there for Sasuke a lot. So when she died, Sasuke felt like he was left alone. Itachi and I tried to be there for him, but we just didn't know him as well as she did. We tried to get to know him but he shut us out. He was so sad about his mom that he barely gave us a chance."
Naruto was listening with wide eyes and rapt interest. Chocolate ice cream melted on his fingers, but he didn't pay it any mind, instead just holding his hands out further so that none of the droplets would land on him.
"Because he felt all alone, Sasuke ended up making some very bad friends. He started to do very bad things, and he wouldn't listen to me or Itachi when we told him to stop. He was doing these things because he wanted to try and forget about his mom. He wanted to move on from her death, but he didn't know how to. And so he did silly things. And smoking is one of them. I don't know how long he has been doing it, and I'm not going to ask. But I'm not going to let it continue. Not as long as I can stop it," Fugaku assured the blond and Naruto nodded.
"So...Sasuke's sad because his mom isn't there for him anymore?" Naruto asked, and Fugaku nodded, glad that his main point had gotten through to the boy.
Naruto looked down. "I kinda know how that feels," he muttered. Fugaku turned to him in surprise.
"What do you mean? Your mom and dad are alive and well, aren't they?" he asked, concerned.
Naruto nodded. "Yeah, they're okay...but they're never there. I know they work hard to pay bills and keep food for us...but," Naruto looked guilty. "Sometimes I just wish that I could spend time with them! I wish we could go out like this, and go to parks and eat ice cream together! But they never have time!" Tears were once again welling up in Naruto's eyes and he rubbed at them fiercely. "But I don't want to ask, because I don't want them to get mad at me for getting in their way!"
Fugaku looked at the little boy sadly. He had once been a hard worker too. He had spent so much time at the office, he missed out on Itachi's first birthday and Sasuke's first words. It was only when their mother had threatened to leave him that he snapped out of his work and took time to spend with his family. And he never regretted that decision. He'd finally seen what he was missing and it made him work to be with his family.
Ironic, but true.
Naruto quickly stifled his tears and Fugaku wondered whether it would do any good to have a chat with Naruto's parents. He wasn't sure what he could change, but perhaps he could make them aware of their son's distress.
"But...Sasuke's still stupid!"
Fugaku looked down at Naruto's outburst and raised an eyebrow in perfect Uchiha fashion. "Not to disagree, but why do you say that?" he asked with an amused smile.
Naruto's lips pulled into a pout. "Because! He's not alone anymore! He's got you, and Itachi and...and he's got me too! And since I met him, I haven't felt so lonely anymore! We can keep each other company! But he wants to die and smoke those stupid cig-lets!"
Fugaku chuckled at the wording, but he was touched that Naruto cared so much for his son.
"Well...Maybe you should tell him that the next time you see him," Fugaku suggested. Naruto went quiet, licking at his ice cream. Finally, he spoke, but it was soft and hesitant.
"I'll wait...I don't think I want to see him yet. He's probably still mad at me," he mumbled.
"Naruto, I'm pretty sure he's not mad—"
"No, I'll wait!" Naruto cut him off and Fugaku sighed, knowing that the blond had made up his mind.
"Alright. I'll call your mom and ask her where to take you. Perhaps you can sit at her work?"
Naruto shrugged, continuing to eat his ice cream while holding tightly to his new plush toy.
Later on, Fugaku learned that he had affectionately named it Sass, and he smiled; his guess was right.
Sasuke was sitting on his bed, curled up in the corner with his knees drawn to his chest. He realized how pathetic he probably looked, but he couldn't bring himself to care. The images of Naruto crying, his eyes wide and hurt because of Sasuke, haunted him.
And the craving was eating him alive. He longed for a cigarette. He longed to light one up and inhale the toxic fumes. He longed to feel the burn, taste the tobacco and feel that strange sense of calm it gave him. Especially with the guilt that was eating at him now. It was horrible.
His body shook with the trembles. His hands ached. His eyes glanced to the window. He could escape through there. He could climb out and climb down from the porch roof. He'd done it before. He could rush to the store and buy another pack, or he could go to Suigetsu's house and snatch one off from him. It would be so easy. Itachi wouldn't even see it coming.
The temptation was so great he found himself sliding towards the window. He just needed one to calm down. Just one and he'd be okay. At least for a while.
He approached the window, gripping the edge with slim fingers and tugged.
The window didn't budge. Sasuke stared at it, his mouth parting slightly before he tugged again. Still it didn't move and he began to tug fiercer until it was rattling in place and he was hissing profanities under his breath.
"Did you really believe me to be so stupid, little brother?" Itachi's calm voice cut through his frantic actions and he stopped tugging the window, pressing his forehead against the cool glass.
"I'd hoped you would be," he mumbled. He heard Itachi walk into the room, closing the door behind him. The creak of a mattress let him know Itachi had taken a seat on his bed, casual as ever. "What are you doing here?" Sasuke asked, never taking his head away from the window.
"I'm here to fulfil my duties as a big brother," Itachi stated. Sasuke scowled.
"I don't need your lectures—"
"Not those duties, idiot," Itachi cut off and Sasuke turned to him, blinking when Itachi patted the space beside him. "No, I'm here to sit and listen to your side of the story, and offer a shoulder for you to snivel on should your inner-baby emerge."
Sasuke scowled again. "I don't need your pity—"
"Sit the fuck down," Itachi growled and Sasuke found himself sitting automatically, eyes wide. Itachi didn't speak like that. Sasuke wasn't sure he'd ever heard Itachi use that curse word before and frankly it threw him off balance.
"Sasuke, I know you've been going through a tough time. Believe it or not, I've gone through it too!" Itachi said. Sasuke scoffed.
"I doubt that," he mumbled. He almost yelped in surprise when Itachi gripped his shoulders tightly, almost painfully, and glared into his eyes.
"She was my mother too!"
Silence covered them after that, with Itachi glaring at Sasuke and the younger boy staring with wide eyes at Itachi. Finally the older brother continued on, breaking the tense silence.
"I know you were close to her. I realize that you and father never really bonded, or that you and I never spent as much time together as we probably should have. But just because she was there for you the most doesn't mean she was the only one! We are here for you Sasuke, you need to give us a chance! You think we're not suffering too? Father suffers every single day! With every single angry outburst of yours, he suffers more and more because he feels like he is failing as a father! I suffer! Every time you push me away, or I see you walking off with those gang members of yours, I feel like such a worthless brother!"
Sasuke shook slightly, the grip on his shoulders brushing into the painful region. He swallowed heavily, avoiding Itachi's angry and pleading eyes. He didn't want to have this conversation.
"I t-thought you said no lectures," he said, trying to steer the conversation away.
"SASUKE!" Itachi yelled, patience gone.
"WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME!?" Sasuke screamed back, feeling cornered and panicked. He'd never had to face this before. It had always just bee him. It was always just him that was suffering. Never had he actually contemplated on how his brother and father were feeling. They always seemed so cold and calm. He assumed that they had moved on; that they had each other and had left him behind as they continued with their lives. He never thought that his rebellious actions were causing real pain to them. He had gotten so hooked on the idea that they didn't care, or that they saw him as a burden and a cruel reminder of the woman that was stolen from them. Too hear that he had been hurting them all this time as he tried to manage with his own hurt...
It was too much.
"What the fuck do you want me to do? What can I do!?" he yelled, squeezing his eyes shut tight and trying to push Itachi away.
"Let us in, Sasuke! Stop pushing us away!" Itachi retorted, tightening his hold on his brother. Sasuke shook his head furiously, fighting even harder. Itachi felt a fist connect with his jaw, but he ignored the throb and instead pushed forward, dragging Sasuke into a very unwanted hug. The younger sibling was yelling random profanities and mixed up phrases. Itachi could hear the underlying message to them all, however. Sasuke wasn't able to accept that, after all this time of suffering, he had never really been alone. It was the denial that was making him panic. Itachi couldn't blame him. He and his father had stupidly waited on the outskirts, hoping that Sasuke would come to them so that they could all grieve over Mikoto's death together and grow as a family. And they had waited and waited, but Sasuke drifted further and further away until he was barely recognisable anymore.
And now Itachi was doing what he should've done in the first place. He was stepping over the boundary line and walking into Sasuke's lonely circle, forcing his way into Sasuke's misery and sharing it with him. It was foreign for the both of them, but where Itachi felt hope, Sasuke was feeling fear. He was used to dealing with things one way. He was used to feeling lonely and being unhappy on his own. To imagine sharing that sadness with his family, and growing with them...it was frightening.
Itachi didn't say a thing when Sasuke's frantic shouts turned into hysterical screams, instead he just closed his eyes and took the blows Sasuke showered on him.
And then, just when Itachi wondered if he was making a mistake, Sasuke yelled out something entirely new, in a voice that was so broken and devastated it made Itachi want to cry too.
"MAMA!" Sasuke shrieked, tears pouring down his face before he curled in on himself, and subsequently into Itachi's arms. And then he cried. He cried the tears he hid away before. He cried out the pain that he'd been feeding off of, and the loneliness that he'd covered himself with. He sobbed and bawled and cried like a small, frightened child because that's what he was.
And throughout this all, Itachi held him tight and whispered soothing noises and rubbed his back. His own tears dripped silently down his cheeks, his shuddering breaths hidden by Sasuke's loud sobs.
Together, they grieved.
When Fugaku entered his house, he noted how quiet it was. At first, he relished the peace, but before he could even step into the hallway properly, a horrible feeling twisted his gut and images of his sons lying on the floor, hurt or dead, invaded his mind.
He ran through the house, checking each room downstairs before rushing upstairs. He should've called out, but the fear of not having a reply was too great and so he kept silent. He couldn't receive no reply if he didn't call, after all.
He ran to Itachi's room and his heart beat frantically when it was empty. Turning on his heel he sprinted to Sasuke's room, praying to every deity out there that his sons were unharmed. That he hadn't lost any more of his family and his heart.
Shoving the door open, he froze on the spot at the scene before him.
His sons were lying on Sasuke's bed, curled up like young children with their hands by their faces between them and their knees bumping. Tear tracks were visible on their cheeks, but their sleeping faces were content. Fugaku let out a breath of relief and awe and quietly walked over, staring down at his children.
Sasuke wasn't all that much shorter than Itachi, and it made Fugaku nostalgic to the times when the boy was so small that Fugaku could carry him in the crook of his arm alone. Now Sasuke was a man in body, but still a child at heart and soul. He blinked when Sasuke's serene face scrunched up, an unpleasant dream drifting into his mind and making his eyelids flutter violently. Fugaku saw him twitch and knew that Sasuke was getting deeper into his dream. Without hesitating, the Uchiha father leant over Itachi and gently placed his hand on Sasuke's head, brushing his hair and caressing his cheek in a soothing matter. Sasuke groaned slightly in his sleep before settling, his eyelashes ceasing their dance and his face smoothing out into serenity once more. Fugaku smiled and leant back. It was as if they were back in time and he was comforting a five year old Sasuke from a nightmare without the boy's knowledge.
He heard a snuffing sound and looked over again, grinning widely when he saw that Itachi had stuck a thumb in his mouth.
Itachi may have been an adult but Fugaku knew that inside, he was just as much of a child as Sasuke was.
Watching his two sons sleep for a moment, he marvelled at the scene. He knew, just by looking at them, that something had changed. Something had shifted in their small family, and he had a feeling that when his boys woke up, Sasuke would be different. He would still be short-tempered, sarcastic Sasuke, but he would be his son again and not the estranged person that Fugaku tried so hard to understand.
Grabbing a blanket, he carefully covered his children and stroked both of their heads, laughing silently when Itachi chewed on his own thumb in his sleep. Then he quietly retreated, closing the door behind him. For a moment he leant against it, and a small, happy smile slid onto his face.
'Mikoto...I think we're finally starting to heal.'
"That's a nice toy you have there, Naruto," Minato said casually as he sat at the breakfast table with his family. It was the first time in a long while that he had a morning off. He still had to go into the office later on, but he could relax during the morning and have breakfast with his son and wife. Kushina also had a morning to herself, but she had to go in earlier than he did, leaving her just enough time to eat breakfast with them, wash up and then fly off to work.
Naruto looked up, smiling while he held the raven plush up. "It's name is Sass!" he announced. Minato titled his head at the name while Kushina smiled.
"Oh, that's a nice name. Why'd you name it that?" she asked, taking a bite of her toast.
"Because it looks like Sasuke," Naruto replied easily and both his parents looked up.
"Sasuke?" Minato asked, confused. "Who—"
"Naruto's babysitter dear," Kushina reminded him. "The boy next door?"
Minato furrowed his blond brows, trying to recall an image. Suddenly a memory flashed in his mind of a dark haired, pale boy dressed in black with chains on his jeans and all around a very rebel look. Yes, the boy who had brought Naruto home the one time that he had forgotten after getting another load of work.
"That boy? The rebel boy?" he asked, shocked. "He's Naruto's new babysitter?" He hadn't been paying much attention to the baby-sitter ordeal. There was a new project at work that required all his attention.
At this Naruto looked at the table, his face pulled down into a frown. Kushina tilted her head.
"What's the matter dear? He's a nice boy. Naruto really likes him, and Sakura even said that we could leave Naruto up to him instead of her from now on," she said, missing the strange smirk that briefly stole over Naruto's lips before the frown returned.
Minato looked pensive. "But have you gotten a good look at him? He doesn't seem like a good influence on Naruto! For all we know he could be giving Naruto drugs or teaching him violence!"
There was silence at the table as Kushina considered his words. Personally she didn't think that the Uchiha boy was so bad. Yes, his dress style was questionable, but didn't most teenagers dress outrageously nowadays? She'd seen plenty a teenager wearing chains, and even her boss's son wore the same kind of clothing, but he was a charming boy.
"At least he's there."
The quiet murmur made both adults turn to their little boy, whose head was still down.
"Pardon?" Kushina said, having missed the exact whisper. Naruto looked up, and they were shocked to see the hinting of tears and anger in his big blue eyes.
"I said at least he's there! Sasuke is there for me! He helped me when I was bullied! He came to pick me up when you didn't! He plays with me and makes me happy! He got mad at Sakura because she never baby-sitted me properly! He's always there for me when I need him!"
"But you guys aren't!" Naruto yelled, tears leaking down his face. "You never are!"
Both adults were stunned into silence and they couldn't even move when Naruto pushed away from the table, jumping down from his seat and rushing out of the room.
Naruto ran to his bedroom and hurried to his little wardrobe. He pulled open the bottom drawer, yanking out the large frog-shaped backpack that his grandpa Jiraiya had gotten him for his third birthday. It was nice and spacious, with a horizontal zipper that marked the frog's mouth and two big eyes at the top. Two long legs hung down the bottom, sweeping his knees and two stubby arms sprung out on either side of the bag.
It was perfect.
Without stopping to ponder his actions, he tossed in his favourite shirt and pants, a spare jacket and a pair of shoes. Then he grabbed his favourite toys and shoved them inside, including the fox plush he treasured as much as Sass. Lastly, he crawled under his bed and pulled up a floorboard, revealing his secret stash of sweets. It was a collection he had gained through Sasuke and some of the sweets Sakura had given him when she asked him not to tell his mom and dad about the naughty things she did. He grabbed the impressive collection and stuffed it into his frog pack, closing it up with a final zip. His floppy frog now looked fat and plump like a real bullfrog and Naruto felt a small spark of cheer at that.
Hoisting the bag onto his back and securing the straps, he then grabbed Sass and crawled onto his bed and over to the window. He knew better than to go downstairs. He didn't want his mom or dad trying to stop him. He opened the window and climbed out, gulping down at the drop. Although it wasn't all that bad, to him it seemed so far and he was certain that if he fell he would die.
But he didn't rethink his plan. No, he was intent on going through with it. He crawled along the short railing, his hands shaking slightly as he reached the edge by the drain pipe. With a small sound of nervousness, he gripped it and began to shimmy down. He was pleased that there were little ledges on the way down for him to put his feet or he was sure he would've fallen.
When he reached the ground he grinned triumphantly, feeling like a hero for making it. With a final, solemn look at his house he turned and started to run down the street. He would've gone to Sasuke's house, but it had only been two days since Sasuke yelled at him and he was still scared that the Uchiha was mad at him. But he promised he would see Sasuke soon. For now he was just going to enjoy his freedom.
Meanwhile, in the Uchiha house, Itachi was trying valiantly to cook a meal without burning it. He was a genius at so many things, but when it came to cooking he was worse than an amateur. He was like Bart Simpson in the kitchen; he could burn cereal.
"Don't break, don't break, don't break," he chanted as he slowly cracked an egg into the pan. "Don't breeeeeaaak—"
The egg broke.
"Dammit!" Itachi snapped, throwing his head back in frustration as the yellow yolk of the egg oozed across the pan even as the white began to bubble from the heat.
Fugaku sat at the kitchen table, smiling. He usually cooked the meals, but Itachi had insisted on trying and Fugaku found it very amusing.
There were soft steps before Sasuke walked into the room, wearing a plain blue shirt and white shorts. He stood in the doorway, his brother and father looking at him, and he shuffled his feet. Since his breakdown with Itachi, he'd stayed in his room like a good boy because he was still grounded. On the occasions when Itachi and Fugaku had peered in to check on him, he answered their questions with soft words of agreement or denial. Itachi had explained what had happened to Fugaku, but the older male hadn't said a thing about it to Sasuke yet. He was waiting for the signal that Sasuke was composed enough to accept his advance without it backfiring and closing him off even more.
Sasuke bit his lip. He wasn't sure how to act around his family anymore. He'd grown accustomed to anger and defiance. Now he wanted to get along with them. He wanted to become a family again, but he had no idea how to go about it. The past few weeks, where he had communicated with them normally, seemed foreign. He just didn't know how to act. Was he supposed to be quiet and polite? Was it okay to mock Itachi like he used to? Was it wrong to not spend all his time with them?
He looked up, trying to think of something to say. Luckily for him, or not, a new situation saved him from thinking too hard.
"Itachi, are the eggs supposed to be on fire?" he asked curiously.
Both the older Uchiha's whipped their heads around and Itachi started to jump around the kitchen like a maniac as the eggs burned with small flames. Fugaku sighed, getting out of his seat and shoving his oldest son into a chair. Then he grabbed the pan handle and quickly took it to the sink, pouring cold water on it. The eggs were inedible anyway.
"Sasuke please turn the stove to a lower temperature for me," he said as he worked to scrape the charred eggs out of the pan. Sasuke blinked, standing still for a moment. Itachi turned to him, quirking an eyebrow at him.
"Squirt, the stove!" he urged, nudging Sasuke's leg with his toe. Sasuke snapped out of his trance and sent a glare to Itachi.
"I'm not a squirt!" he defended as he went over to the stove and turned the temperature down. He turned to Itachi. "Why the hell were you cooking eggs on eight?" he asked incredulously.
Itachi shrugged. "I was trying to speed-cook," he reasoned.
Sasuke shook his head in disbelief and turned to his father. "Did you drop him when he was little?" he asked seriously and Fugaku paused, head tilting up as he honestly thought about it.
"...As a matter of fact, I think I did once," he said, lips pulling into a thoughtful pout. Itachi gasped, shocked, while Sasuke turned to him with a cheeky smile.
"I knew it!" the younger sibling said and Itachi stared at his father.
"You dropped me? How could you?" he asked in mock horror. Fugaku shrugged nonchalantly.
"You asked me too. I was carrying you to your room and you were screaming for me to put you down. So I did," he turned and gave Itachi a smug look. "Just not the way they tell you to in parenting books," he finished.
Sasuke chuckled briefly before he caught himself and stopped. But Itachi and Fugaku were looking at him with pleased faces. He stared back at them before leaning back, his lips drawing up in annoyance.
"What're you staring at?" he asked cautiously but the others only shook their heads and continued what they were doing. Sasuke moved to sit down as their father started to prepare a real breakfast, and a comfortable silence fell over them. It was different to all the silences before. They had all been laced with unsaid anger, anxiety and were so tense that no one could relax. But now, all of them were calm and at peace.
And Sasuke found he wanted it to stay this way.
The day passed by, and by the afternoon, Sasuke was sure that he had never felt so good. Things were so calm at home that he didn't want to leave. They were all watching a movie, and despite the fact that there was no talking, Sasuke felt so comfortable. Was this what he had been missing all along?
And to think, it was all because of Naruto—
His peaceful face fell as he thought of the small blond. He had yet to see him, and guilt was still gnawing at his insides. He knew he had to say sorry. Naruto was only thinking of his health in that childish way that belonged to five year olds. And though the craving was still there, Sasuke's newfound peace with his family was stunting it, making it bearable.
He looked over to the window, seeing Naruto's house. He noticed his parents standing out on the front, looking like they were arguing. His brows furrowed when Kushina started to motion to Naruto's bedroom window, and then the drainpipe before she suddenly hunched and Minato pulled her into a hug.
A growing trepidation filled him and he stood up, walking towards the door. Itachi paused the movie behind him.
"Sasuke? What's up?"
"Something's wrong," Sasuke mumbled, pointing to the window again before he walked into the hall. Itachi and Fugaku followed his finger and saw the arguing couple.
"Oh dear," Fugaku mumbled as they both stood up and followed Sasuke through the hall and out the front door. Sasuke walked up to the fence separating their properties, resting his hands on the wooden barrier.
"Mrs Uzumaki? Is something wrong?" he asked. He was aware that it may have just been a lover's quarrel, but something in his gut and his heart said otherwise. Kushina turned around, eyes watering, and found Sasuke. She let out a short sob and jumped from the porch, leaving her husband behind as she rushed over.
"Sasuke! Please, please tell me that Naruto is with you!" she begged. Sasuke paled, eyes widening and that was answer enough. Kushina buried her face in her hands. "My baby is gone!" she cried.
"G-gone? What do you mean gone?" Sasuke said, voice cracking as he turned to face Minato as the blond man came forward. He looked highly distressed.
"Naruto's gone. We had a bit of an argument at breakfast and he went upstairs. We assumed that he had just gone to his room to seethe, but when Kushina went up earlier to say goodbye he wasn't there. We think he climbed out of the window and down the drainpipe," he explained, his voice shaky as he wrapped an arm around Kushina's shoulders.
Sasuke looked between them, the horrible realization setting in. Naruto had run away. Naruto had run away from home and he hadn't come to Sasuke.
"What time was this? How long as he been gone?" he asked, already digging through his mind to try and think of a place Naruto would go.
"I went to say goodbye at ten! He went up to his room at eight! He could've left anytime between then!" Kushina sobbed. "Oh, it's our entire fault!" she cried, turning and burying her face into Minato's chest.
"What do you mean?" Itachi asked, placing a hand on Sasuke's shoulder as the younger boy hung his head, his body tense.
"Naruto said that we were never there for him. It's what started the little fight," Minato said sadly. He didn't know if a fight truly classified what it had been. In all truths it had been Naruto calling them out on their mistake of leaving him alone, and then leaving before they had a chance to talk it through.
"Sasuke, do you have an idea of where Naruto may have gone?" Fugaku asked, looking towards his son. Sasuke bit his lip, brows furrowing in rapid thought. There were several places he could think of. The blond had dragged him to many places throughout the town which he liked. He could've gone to anyone of them and searching them all would take up too much time, especially if they didn't find him in the first three.
His eyes widened with an idea and he quickly turned around. "Itachi, lend me your phone!"
Itachi didn't question, just sliding his phone out of his pocket and tossing it to his brother. Sasuke dialled in a number he knew in his heart and pressed the device to his ear.
"Suigetsu, it's me."
"Sasuke! Haven't heard from you in a while! What's up man?"
"I need your help. And Juugo too," Sasuke said quickly, already starting to walk towards the car. He motioned for his father and Itachi to follow. Briefly he stopped and turned to Naruto's parents.
"Try the day care centre first, and if he's not there go to the ice cream parlour down the block from there," he said and they nodded, rushing to their car.
"What's happening Sasuke?" Suigetsu asked, sounding curious.
"Naruto's gone missing and I need your help finding him," Sasuke said as he got into the back seat of the car. Itachi climbed in the front and Fugaku got behind the wheel. "There's a park on West Avenue he likes. Let's star there," Sasuke said to him and his father nodded while Sasuke turned back to the phone.
"...You're calling us to go on a search?" Suigetsu asked and Sasuke growled. "Okay okay! I'll call Juugo. Where should we start?"
"Tell Juugo to go to the bridge near Storm Park and check under it. Describe Naruto to him. You go look at the fairgrounds. They'll be closed but he might've gone there just to hang around the rides," Sasuke instructed.
"Alright, will do."
"Thank you," Sasuke said earnestly. There was a moment of silence where he could feel the other teens shock before a snort came from the phone.
"Aw, Sasuke. Once we find him, would you like us to have a sleepover? Maybe we can synchronize our periods!" Suigetsu taunted. Sasuke grinned.
"Go to hell."
"Much better," Suigetsu laughed before hanging up. Sasuke clicked the phone shut and handed it back to Itachi who just smirked and slid it into his pocket. They arrived at the park and Sasuke scrambled out, rushing into its barriers. He ignored the people that were about, walking past several jungle gyms and other such attractions. He knew exactly where Naruto would be if he had come to this park.
He saw the swings and hurried over, but there was no blond in sight. Disappointment and fear started to grow in his chest. He wanted to find Naruto quickly. Many of the areas Naruto liked were in bad neighbourhoods, much to Sasuke's displeasure. He needed Naruto to be found before someone else did.
"He's not here, let's go!" he called, rushing back to the car just as Fugaku had finished closing his door. The two older Uchiha's shared a look before they climbed back in and drove to the next destination Sasuke pointed out.
Sasuke was nearing frantic when they still hadn't found Naruto even after checking the third park. Fugaku had suggested they stop by home to check if Minato or Kushina had had any luck. They would have called but none of them had their cell numbers, a fact that Sasuke promised to rectify in case something like this ever happened again.
As the car pulled up, they saw the couple standing by their car. The hopeful expressions on their faces told the Uchiha's all they needed to know, and Sasuke slammed his hand onto the seat beside him, making the whole car tremble.
"Dammit, where the hell is he?" he bit out, climbing out of the car. Minato and Kushina's faces fell when no blond came out of the car and Sasuke couldn't meet their eyes.
He could hear Kushina starting to cry again, and he bit his lip, trying to think of where else the blond would be.
Suddenly a trilling made them all jump. Itachi blinked, reaching back to his phone and flipping it open.
He listened for a moment before holding the phone out to Sasuke. "For you."
Sasuke took it, pressing it to his ear and with a hopeful voice he answered. "Suigetsu?"
"You owe me man. You owe me fucking big time!" Suigetsu's voice was irritated, but in the background Sasuke could hear another noise. It was Naruto's voice, arguing loudly and shouting for him to let go. His heart soared.
"You found him!" he said, and immediately everyone's attention was focused on him.
"Yeah. He was on his way to the fairgrounds. I happened to catch up with him—I AM NOT A CREEPY CHILD EATER YOU LITTLE BRAT!" Suigetsu's frustrated yell made Sasuke jerk the phone away from his ear and wince. It seemed Naruto didn't realize just who Suigetsu was.
"Anyway, I'm bringing him over-Don't you dare!-I'm bringing him over to your place. You owe me-OW! Okay kid, that's it!"
Sasuke blinked as the dial tone met his ear and he stared at the phone, wondering what Naruto was doing to his friend for Suigetsu to get so worked up.
"Did you find him?" Kushina asked, looking at him with wide eyes. At Sasuke's nod she sobbed happily and jumped forwards, wrapping her arms around his shoulders. Sasuke froze under the hug, the unfamiliar feeling of a woman holding him making him uncomfortable. Kushina's hug reminded him of the times when he was younger, when his own mother would embrace him like this.
He awkwardly patted her back, glaring at Itachi who was laughing silently at him.
The group waited outside their houses anxiously for Suigetsu to return with the wayward child.
Sasuke's ears perked up when he heard a familiar howl of pain and he turned to look up the drive, seeing Suigetsu walking down the sidewalk. The silver-haired teen was struggling to carry a very angry, very uncooperative Naruto. The five year old was wriggling madly in his hold, constantly trying to jump over his shoulder or escape and Suigetsu was looking more and more flustered, his hair getting messy when Naruto tried to vault over his head. He only just managed to stop the blond, pulling him back and trying to tuck him under his arm like a bag. When his violet eyes spotted Sasuke, he let out a happy howl and sprinted down the drive, his boots crunching loudly on the gravel.
"Hallelujah!" Suigetsu yelled and taking a firm hold of Naruto, he actually threw the small child straight at Sasuke. Sasuke lunged forwards, arms outstretched and he caught the yelling blond, automatically holding him to his chest, backpack and all.
Suigetsu was panting, his hair was a mess and he was flushed. All signs that his walk to Sasuke's house had been one of the most aggravating trips he'd ever made. He didn't even wait to hear any thanks, instead turning and throwing his hands up as he walked away.
"I am never having kids! Never! EVER! Not in this lifetime or the next!" he declared loudly as he left the premises.
Sasuke grinned, but it fell away when he felt Naruto clutching his shirt. Turning his head down, he was faced with golden hair and he placed a hand on Naruto's back under the strangely shaped bag, his other arm supporting the child.
"...Are you still mad at me?" Naruto mumbled, turning his head to peek up at Sasuke cautiously. Sasuke blinked before a half-smile, half-smirk settled on his face.
"No, I'm not mad," he said and when Naruto turned to him fully, he tweaked his nose. "I'm sorry."
Naruto twitched his nose, trying to get rid of the feeling of Sasuke's pinch, but at the raven's soft words he grinned.
"Good! 'Cause I didn't do anything wrong!" he insisted and Sasuke chuckled.
Naruto looked around, noticing his parents coming towards them. He held onto Sasuke tighter, staring at them with disbelief in his eyes.
"Why are you here?" he asked. "You had work."
Kushina put a hand over her mouth, holding back a sob. "Honey, how could we go to work when our little boy has run away?" she asked sadly. Naruto turned his face into Sasuke's chest slightly, looking out at her with suspicious eyes. Seeing that look on her five year old son's face was like a punch in the heart for Kushina. Her little boy didn't believe her. When had he changed from her obedient, happy little child to this boy who didn't even want to look at her directly?
She knew it was her fault. And Minato's fault. They had thrown themselves into their work. It had started because of how bad their money situation had been in their old home. The amount of debts to pay and the bills and rent...it had gotten so bad that they were forced to move. Minato had borrowed money from his father to pay the mortgage for their new house and then after that they had worked harder and harder, constantly throwing themselves into work at every opportunity to pay off the bills that just kept coming. They had explained to Naruto that they needed to work, and he had said that he understood.
But how could she have imagined that it wouldn't affect him. Naruto was five. Five years old, and his parents weren't there to spend time with him. Rare occasions when they did have time, they didn't really pay him attention like they should. They would sit with him and listen to his chatter, but nothing truly registered in their minds. Kushina couldn't even remember the name of Naruto's best friend at school. She wasn't even sure if he had one.
The thought hurt and she held out her arms pleadingly.
Naruto held Sasuke tighter. He had been foiled in his plan to start living on his own, all because of the creepy shark-boy that found him and dragged him home. And now his mom and dad were still here instead of at work, looking worried. He didn't know if this was an act. He didn't want to get scolded, but even more than that he didn't want to hope that they were going to be there for him, only to leave him alone again.
Sasuke felt the blond's hesitation, and he had a clue as to why Naruto was so apprehensive. He shifted Naruto in his arms slightly.
"Hey," he said, coaxing the blond to look at him, "She was really worried about you. And so was your dad. You made her cry...don't you think that means something important?" he asked.
Naruto sat in his arms for a moment, hands clutching tightly to Sasuke's shirt. His eyes were blankly staring at his chest, small breaths puffing out onto the material and Sasuke could feel the warmth seeping through. Everyone waited with baited breath, wondering what the little blond would decide.
Finally, after a tense silence, Naruto gave an almost invisible nod that only Sasuke noticed as he felt it against his chest. Slowly, Naruto turned around in his hold and hesitantly held his arms out towards his parents.
Kushina sobbed, jumping forward and pulling her baby boy into her arms. Minato came over and wrapped the both of them in his arms, a single tear running down his cheek as he embraced his family. Naruto spared Sasuke a glanced from between his parents' arms before he turned his face into his mother's chest and returned their hugs.
Sasuke smiled at the display, knowing that this family had taken the first step to healing...just like his.
He felt Itachi stand behind him and his father's hand on his shoulder, and for one blissful moment it was as if he could feel his mother taking his hand, smiling at him for doing a good job.
Sasuke scribbled down another answer on his worksheet, his head supported by his hand as he lazily stared at the paper. Since he started paying attention during the important classes, he realized that things were really easy and he was soon at the top of the class. The change in his demeanour shocked the entire school, and rumours flew back and forth like tennis balls in a tournament. Many of them speculated that he had gotten a girlfriend that changed him, but he only snorted at that. Others said he had found religion. Once again, he snorted. Still some said he was up to something, that he was planning a massive school take-over once he got all the teachers relaxed.
Sasuke actually laughed at that one.
He turned his head, gazing out the window while he thought of the real reason that he had changed.
The now six-year old boy had swooped into his life unexpectedly and become the beacon of light that guided him from the dark. Sasuke didn't know what had drawn him towards the blond. Perhaps it was that same loneliness that they shared in their eyes; the loneliness of being left behind. Perhaps he had seen it that day that Naruto's ball smacked his head, signifying their very first encounter. Or later, when he was helping him get his bag from the car?
He didn't know. But he was drawn to the blond, and he had developed an attachment, almost like a maternal feeling. He didn't know what he could signify himself as in the blond's life. He thought of him as his friend. As family. Naruto was his little brother, and sometimes Sasuke even felt himself acting like a father to the blond, whether on purpose or not.
It was almost a year now since they had met and Sasuke wouldn't ever forget it.
A hand smacking his desk made him jolt and turn around to find his teacher staring at him.
"Is the world outside more fascinating than my lecture?" the old man asked, raising an eyebrow at the Uchiha. Sasuke looked down at his worksheet, seeing he had completed it before he looked up with a smirk.
"Yes, yes to me it is," he replied politely. Snickers erupted around the class while his teacher snatched his worksheet, looking it over. Seeing it was finished, the man just sighed.
"Keep yourself busy and keep quiet," he instructed, walking back to the front while Sasuke just turned back to the window, smiling slightly to himself. The blue sky outside reminded him of Naruto's eyes.
He arrived home after school, having spent a short time with Suigetsu and Juugo at a park just chatting and scaring off some park bullies. Since his change, he'd noticed that both Suigetsu and Juugo were doing the same. Though, Suigetsu was changing the most. When Sasuke had questioned his new and, albeit better, attitude, the boy only shrugged and said that he was glad that Sasuke had found peace and he was working on finding some of his own. Juugo just stated that they were his only friends and that wouldn't change no matter what direction they were going in.
Glad that he had these two friends by his side, Sasuke could better stand the large differences at school.
Walking into his house, he called out his usual greeting of 'I'm home!'
Sasuke whipped around and ducked, hearing something splat against the wall where his head had been a second ago. Looking over his shoulder he saw what looked like a mutated pancake sliding down the wall slowly, leaving behind a disturbingly gooey trail.
"What the hell is that?" Sasuke turned back to his brother who was watching the gooey object's progress down the wall with fascination.
"I was trying to make pancakes, but I think I messed something into the batter. They just started oozing syrup and went all funky," Itachi said absently, using the spatula in his hand to prod at the failed pancake on the floor as if it was going to bite him. "I guess I wasn't supposed to put the syrup into the batter and cook them like meatballs."
Sasuke just stared at him. "...You're a freak."
Itachi just rolled his eyes towards him. "You're a chicken's ass."
"And I'm your evil creator," Fugaku chipped in as he walked past, briefly ruffling Sasuke's hair and nudging Itachi's crouching form with his foot. He paused when his eyes spotted the mutant pancake. "Itachi, I have no idea what you're attempting to create but please kill it with fire and dispose of it accordingly," he instructed and walked into his office. Sasuke snickered and left Itachi to dispose of his mess, climbing the stairs and shuffling into his room.
He tossed his bag onto his bed, slinging off his jacket before sitting at his desk and pulling out some homework. It was easy and he finished it quickly, shutting it back into his bag before lounging back in his chair, wondering what to do for the rest of the afternoon.
"Sasuke," Itachi called, stepping into the room. "The Energizer Bunny is downstairs eating your biscuits."
"Little brat!" Sasuke said, jumping to his feet and rushing past his brother. He raced down the stairs, jumping down the last two and throwing himself into the kitchen. "RELEASE THE BISCUITS!" he roared, pointing at the offender who turned to him with a biscuit hanging from his mouth and a small hand still in the tin.
"NEVER!" Naruto yelled, and then let out a squeal, grabbing the tin of biscuits and running through the house as Sasuke chased him. Fugaku stepped out of his office and only just managed to melt against the wall to avoid getting knocked over as the blond child came barrelling past, followed by a raging Sasuke.
He watched them rush out into the back garden where Sasuke proceeded to chase Naruto in circles, demanding the return of his biscuits. Itachi came downstairs, pausing beside him and watching the same scene.
"…He's really happy now, isn't he?" he said at length, a smile playing on his face as he watched his younger brother tackle Naruto. The child just crawled around him like an insect before Sasuke managed to grab him and start tickling his sides. The high peals of laughter floated through the open door and into their ears, accompanied by the deep baritone of Sasuke's joined amusement.
Fugaku watched them for a moment longer before he lowered his head, a full smile blossoming onto his face. He nodded slightly.
"Yes….I think we all are," he mumbled. Itachi nodded in agreement, folding his arms over his chest and smiling as he continued to watch the two outside.
"Mikoto will be able to rest in peace now," Fugaku added to himself, and looked up in time to see Sasuke's wide, happy grin as he fed Naruto a biscuit while the blond squirmed in his arms, cheeks red from their struggles and blue eyes glimmering in joy.
Through one small change, true happiness had been achieved.
N'awww! ^_^ Happy ending!
Kaoru: As expected from you, you big softie!
Me: HEY! Actually, I had an entirely different plan for the ending! And it had a lot more sadness and angst involved too!
Kaoru: Then why didn't you write it?
Me: ._. The characters just ran off with my fingers and wrote their own ending...It was completed before I had the chance to finalize the plans for my ending...
Kaoru: Yeah yeah, suuuure. ¬_¬ *mumbles* You're just a big softie who can't stand unhappy endings.
Me: SO? D: HAPPY ENDINGS ARE ALWAYS BETTER!
... :D Hope you enjoyed it, and please leave a review with your thoughts! ^_^ THANKS!