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Worse for Wear



Sasuke sighed heavily as he leaned against the tree trunk. He's exhausted after all the adrenaline of the fight worn off. The surge of energy just left him with an almost lethargic feel, a little sleepy and a a degree more than fed up.

What's worse, he doesn't want to fall asleep. Not when his enemy is just four yards away. Four yards between them is less than a second's worth of distance, if his enemy should decide to flip out on him. Not enough.

Then again, his brother was just four yards away, lying in a deep sleep. He was still so exhausted that he hadn't moved or even twitched since he'd fallen asleep. If there was something wrong, it'd take Sasuke just that much longer to notice. The further away he was, the less the chance was that he'd notice a subtle drop or spiking in his brother's fever. Four yards? Not close enough.

Deciding that sleep was not going to happen anytime soon, the younger brother got up and decided to head out. He decided to round up the next batch of herbs for the fever-reducing tea as well as, hopefully, something to eat.

He takes his time browsing through, not really in a rush to finish. Eventually he does gather all the supplies he needed, finally heading back to camp.

When he does, however, get back to camp, Itachi's awake and already active again. Itachi's halfway between sitting and lying down, although he does seem to be too out of it to be really awake. He's holding his head and cursing, as if he's got a migraine.

"So, you're awake," Sasuke said and dropped the herbs and rabbit on the flat rock he used before.

"S-Sasuke?" Itachi mumbles, looking very surprised that Sasuke's standing in front of him.

Sasuke blinked in surprise at his brother's reaction, but quickly decides to ignore him and set off to work. Remixing the herbs again, skinning and getting meat ready for cooking. He didn't want to spend time socializing. Making friends with his enemy. This is all Naruto's fault. Damn dobe!

"What're you … why're you here?" Itachi asks, his voice sounding hoarse and even softer than usual. He was lying down again, but was watching Sasuke with a hawk-eye. His head was definitely not bothering him anymore, although, he was fidgeting like a ferret on a hotplate.

"What kind of question is that?" Sasuke snaps and irritably stokes up the fire again. When he looks over though, he's stuck somewhere between freaking-out and happy-dancing. Because, during the time he's been away, Itachi's fever seemed to have spiked.

Red rimmed teary eyes, flushed forehead and cheeks, the dark insomnia marks seemed even darker. Not a pretty picture. It's not a good sign that Itachi seemed to be completely whacked out of his mind too.

"Why did you throw leaves on my bed, Sasuke?" Itachi asks with a whiny voice, picking up some leaves and tossing them in the air like parade confetti, "D'you know how long this will take to clean up?"

Sasuke sighs internally and swirls make-shift tea in the make-shift cup to strain it faster.

"Hehe…. This is fun…"

The younger man turns to see Itachi still tossing leaves into the air, a soft chuckle following each downpour.

"… Sit up," Sasuke finally says and walks over with the tea, holding it ready for Itachi, "Drink."

"You're so bossy…" Itachi says within a tired yawn and pushes himself up with a grunt. "It tastes like jellyfish marinated in pinecones….sssaucee…" he says after the first slurp, "I like it…"

"How do you know what jellyfish marinated in pinecone-sauce tastes like? Huh?" Sasuke snaps angrily, not appreciating his brother's lack of gratitude.

"What…?" Itachi asks confused, shaking his head. He takes another sip and grimaces, "Thanks for-" he starts to say, but coughs suddenly erupting from him have him doubled over.

Sasuke takes the impromptu cup and chucks it somewhere behind him, giving Itachi a hand with sitting up straighter. "Try to breathe deeper…" he advises softly, lightly pounding his brother on his back, trying to quieten the fear tightening his own throat.

And, Sasuke tries to convince himself that it's not fear that causes him to see dark spots dancing in front of his eyes when Itachi's cough suddenly produces blood. He tries to convince himself that he would use acupressure on any of his opponents to relieve pain. He tries to convince himself that sprinting to the river and back with cold water is something he would do for the person he'd been trying to kill.


When the cough finally settles, the older Uchiha seemed to be looking better… a little worse for wear, but better.

The flush seemed to have darkened somewhat, but Itachi seemed to be breathing a little less ragged than before. He even seemed more awake…

"You should… go home…" Itachi says, sighing tiredly. He's leaning against his brother's arm so heavily, that if Sasuke did decide to move, he'd surely fall flat.

Sasuke's eyes narrowed dangerously. For a minute he's tempted to tell Itachi that it's because of him he had no home anymore. But, seeing Itachi's fragile expression, as well as hearing the crackling of the meat on the improvised stove…. Yeah. Minds change.

The young man sliced the meat in half, first checking to see if it's thoroughly cooked, before skewering each half with a kunai. He walked back to his brother and sat down on the ground next to him, "You should probably eat something… dandelion root isn't meant to be taken on an empty stomach," he says and takes hold of Itachi's hand, curling his brother's fingers around the kunai, "And judging by the looks of things, you really need eat."

A roll of the eyes was all reply Sasuke got.

"Don't be a pain in the ass, if you don't eat it by choice…" Sasuke says and seemed like he was about to roll up his non-existent sleeve, "There're much more effective ways of ingesting it. Like cutting open your damn stomach, for one."

"You always were pretty graphic with your imagination," Itachi says with a drowsy grin, taking a bite of the meat to stop Sasuke from retorting.

The pair finally eats in an almost pleasant silence.

They both missed this, much more than they'd ever admit.

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