disclaimer: I still don't own Naruto or any of its related themes or characters, or even its awesomeness.
AN: for all my awesome reviewers and everyone who favourite'd my "Big Brothers are always the Hero" fic! MWAH! This idea was all Dutchess-of-light's idea! Thank you!
A super special awesome-otastic thanks to:
ITAxSASU (I totally agree about brotherly fluff! ^.^), riptocs (thank you!), Amethyst Skulkyrie Cain (aww! I really appreciate that! :D), seri glaze (I always pictured Itachi like that n.n), Dutchess-of-light (You're awesome! Thank you for the amazing idea!), Oakleaf (I'm glad you liked it!), Elia FireRing (I'm glad the Barney band-aid was a hit ;D thanksies!), narutofan (n#n), (yay :) ), skkmgirl818 (Thanks :D), . (Thank you! I'm really glad you enjoyed it!), The Only Sane One(^.^ thanks), Pheonix09 (w00t! I'm so glad you enjoyed it *hugs*), raiTonight29 (Heehee~I hope you like this one then ^^), smonkey (thanks!), giftless-princess (lol, it was supposed to be itachi's sickness making him talk like that xD but I'm glad you enjoyed it!)
I hope you'll enjoy this fic! Maybe... eventually... a series? ^^;;
Anywho, just be warned, as with all of my fanfictions there will be a major dose of OOC-ness :) enjoy!
The Job of a Little Brother
Sasuke Uchiha fought. He fought for all he was worth. His adrenalin caused his heart to pound, louder and louder. He was pretty sure that Itachi could hear it, even though he was standing on the opposite end of the battlefield. "I hope you're ready to die," Sasuke yelled, his voice tone entirely masking his fear.
"It's good to see you too, Sasuke," Itachi muttered, jumping to the sky and landing squarely in front of Sasuke. With his katana drawn, he rested the blade's edge on the ground, trying to lift some weight from his arm.
Sasuke glared at him, not really sure if he's just being feinted, or if there was actually something wrong with his brother. It's not like Itachi was one to hide how strong he was. Ever. He was as self-confident as they come. So sure in himself that it never crossed his mind to pretend to be weaker.
But then, that's not the case. So, why exactly was he dragging his sword on the ground as if it's too heavy for him?
Why is he slouched like he's tired?
Why is his grip so loose?
"Why are you holding back?" Sasuke yelled, as a substitute for 'are you okay?'
Itachi's shoulders suddenly tensed. His temple throbbed a bit, "….I'm not…." He growled. He pushed the blade into the ground to readjusted his grip. He took in a deep breath, but the exhale came out shaky.
Sasuke's eyes narrowed. 'Is he… sick?' he wondered uncomfortably. He focused himself and forced himself to take in account, for the first time in over ten years, how his brother's looking. How deeply etched those frown lines have become in his brother's face. How dark the circles under his eyes had become. How out of breath he really was.
"Come on, Sasuke!" Itachi yelled, breathing harder with each word, "Going to run away again?"
His younger brother scoffed, "No! I'm not," he yelled back, trying to muster up all the remaining energy he had, "and I'm not going to let you get away with it!"
Itachi tilted his head a bit, but didn't reply. He looked like he rested more on his katana now.
"You slaughtered my entire family… you killed our entire clan!" Sasuke screamed, not sure why he hasn't jus attacked his brother yet. He's not sure why it suddenly feels like his brother needs him.
The older man suddenly looked so tired. So defeated. But, with a squaring of the shoulders, his Sharingan finally activated, "And now you're defenceless." He stated, he suddenly flinched as a stitch pulled at his chest, but he kept his composure. Itachi sighed, "I will take your eyes and become invincible."
Sasuke swallowed dryly and holds his ground, but his legs are shaking so badly that he's not sure he can hold it anymore. But, even he knows he's cornered. Cornered and on the verge of death.
Itachi's steps were slow, but not as determined as usual and not nearly as self-assured.
Sasuke didn't brace himself though, even though the fighter inside of him was screaming at him to do so. He didn't put his guard up, for the first time in years. He stood there, almost waiting, as his brother approached him.
And then, almost like sun breaking through a storm, Itachi smiled.
It's not his victorious or sarcastic smile. It's not the smile he relents when his opponents amuse him. It's not the strained smile he forces out whenever he's on the verge of losing his endless patience. No.
It's the sincere smile that Sasuke hadn't seen in over ten years. The smile the older Uchiha would save for the precious moments he and his brother were together. Saved for the only times he was truly happy.
Itachi then reached up with his hand, the same hands who murdered Sasuke's entire family... he reached forwards.
And, almost in slow motion, the realization of death suddenly sunk into the younger man. The realization that he was still just as weak as he were when he was an adolescent. That none of his training had prepared him. That he was still going to die. He almost burst into hysterical laughter when he thought of how Itachi's hands, that were about to steal his Sharingan, looked like Itachi was about to give him a fore-head poke.
But the truth was, the older man was about to finish the job he should've finished more than a decade ago...
Suddenly, Itachi pitched forwards and Sasuke's body reacted instinctively. The young man caught his brother in a hold, still trying to refocus himself from his previous thoughts.
It's only then when Sasuke noticed the blood running from Itachi's mouth and his strained expression, within the happiness. "Kill me," Itachi said, unemotionally. His eyes were distant, but still fearless.
It never occurred to Sasuke to notice how light Itachi was, or how raspy his voice sounded… but nonetheless this information all collided together to give him an answer to the question he never asked. This guy had to be sick. Itachi was sick. His brother was really sick.
Itachi suddenly reached down and grabbed one of his own kunai along with Sasuke's hand, he wrapped the kunai in Sasuke's hand and positioned the blade perfectly, "Kill me," he said, and sighed as he did, "Please?".
But the smile was still there.
Maybe it was just the concurrence of all the unanswered questions he had over the years; all the facts that just didn't add up; all the memories that seemed just too perfectly arranged to be true. Maybe it was how the Hokage never spoke ill of his brother, merely commendated his image with awe. Maybe it was because Itachi's supposed 'test of power' was limited to the Uchiha clan, and not taken up with the strongest clans in the Leaf Village. Maybe he wants answers for once.
Maybe that's why, instead of using the blade to drench his brother's chest with blood… he tucks the blade into his own belt.
Maybe that's why Sasuke eases both of them to the ground and helps Itachi to lie down, fashioning a cushion from his own gi.
Itachi's eyes close and he seems to drop in and out of consciousness before finally falling asleep on the spot. He seemed so at ease and peaceful. And, for some reason, that just makes this worse. Itachi was never relaxed, even at their own home so many years ago. He was always on guard, always ready for attack, it seemed. It was like was always prepared to take on some invisible evil that seemed to lurk in every corner.
Right now though, Itachi was completely at rest. Even tapping his cheeks did nothing to rouse him. His breathing had evened out to deep lung-full breaths, although there seemed to be a crackling edge to each breath.
After a few moments of hesitation, Sasuke finally rested a hands on his brother's chest and forehead. He concentrated on his brother's chakra, trying to find out just what was happening. It didn't take long for an almost constricting black aura to envelop his vision. Sasuke snapped his eyes open and shuffled back a few steps.
It hits him, how easy it would be just to leave Itachi here. Defenceless and dying. Without a doubt he'd be dead within a day.
It hits him, how long he's waited and trained so hard, for this moment. To kill the person responsible for murdering his entire clan.
It hits him, how uncontested his victory would be.
It hits him, that his brother was lying on the ground in front of him, in full trust, almost as if waiting for his little to tend to him like his little brother had always done.
With a scoff, Sasuke stands up, with full intention of just leaving. Just leaving this entire memory behind him. It's easy. It's so easy on the first step, as if a weight was being lifted off his shoulders. On the second step it's even easier, the feeling of forgetting the past starting to worm its way into his mind. On the third, Sasuke had turned back without even realising it.
Without medicine or any supplies near him, he was forced to carry his brother all the way to the closest clearing, out of sight of any passers-by until Itachi was ready to move on his own. Sasuke fashioned a bed out of some leaves and replaced his gi-top as Itachi's cushion. He used his brother's Akatsuki cloak as a comforter.
From the forest he managed to collect some herbs for the fever, but no matter where he looked he couldn't find any chakra-restoring plants. The sun was setting by the time he returned to camp with a rosetta of leaves –all fashioned into a cup- filled to the brim with water.
Sasuke tears off a piece of fabric from his pants and dowses it in water. He eyed his brother, not with concern –as he was trying to convince himself- no. He was glaring at him, to make sure the older man was not planning anything. Yes. That was definitely it. He frowned, wringed out most of the water from the makeshift washcloth and slapped it on Itachi's forehead with an unnecessary amount of force.
"I see… you haven't changed," Itachi's said, his voice sounding even more hoarse than a few hours ago. He pretends to forget to add in how, even though they were enemies now, Sasuke was still taking care of his older brother. Just taking care of his nii-san as always.
"You're one to talk," Sasuke snapped back, narrowing his eyes.
That same smile from before appeared again on Itachi's face, "You always did take care of me… even though it's my job as the older brother…" he said and closed his eyes, tiredly.
"I thought brothers were supposed to do that for each other," Sasuke spat and retrieved the herbs from his belt. He walked forwards and dropped them on one of the most even-looking rocks around and started stamping them into a paste with another rock, "But I guess I was wrong."
"No," Itachi said, looking around him with an unfocused look on his face until he spotted Sasuke again, "You weren't…. you're never wrong."
"I was... about you," Sasuke said and stamped the herbs into an even finer concoction, "I thought you cared about me."
Itachi sighed, trying to keep his eyes open but too tired to succeed. But he kept talking, his voice sounding much more awake and alert than he felt, "I still do."
Sasuke's pretty sure he hit the rocks together a bit too hard, because it had to be affecting his hearing. He's pretty sure his brother - er... ENEMY just said….
But all that came as a reply was a light snore.
The younger Uchiha sighed deeply, internally yelling at himself for succumbing to this situation. Weakness. Damn weakness, that's all.
It doesn't stop him from adding the paste of anti-pyeretic herbs to the water he eventually took to boiling. And it definitely didn't stop him from pushing the tea at his enemy, waiting until the older man had completely finished the tea before allowing the man to rest again.
Sasuke shook his head, hating his own thoughts. So many years he's dwelled on this simple fact: he will kill Itachi Uchiha. He knew it since he was a youngster... that's the only goal that kept him going whenever he felt like giving up. The anger consumed him, drove him on. And now? What happened to all of it?
It felt like all of it just... washed away.
It's all that damned Naruto-baka's fault.
Thanks for reading!
Please let me know if you liked it!