The night was rather warm to say the least. Each breeze that passed by was a gentle, calming one that seemed to give them both reassurance. Two pairs of soft footsteps thudded in the deepening darkness on the path around the village as Sasuke grasped just a little bit tighter onto his brother's hand.

A comfortable silence overtook them, both entranced in their own thoughts and feelings to speak just yet. Despite several things left unsaid between them, things still felt right, like they didn't really have anything to discuss.

"Sasuke," he murmured, feeling his little brother's hand twitch softly into his own, "I believe you've dragged this out long enough..." His tone wasn't harsh; he spoke lightly against the peaceful aura around them, not wishing to disturb it.

Sensing this, Sasuke calmed. His brother's smooth, even-toned voice put him at an ease, as it always did. Looking ahead onto the darkened path, he hadn't a clue what to say. It would only cause more problems if he conveyed to Itachi the truth about their father. The time to tell him was too soon.

It wasn't as if his father was beating him anymore. He had nothing to tell Itachi. Those beatings were in the past, and if his father really had stopped beating him, then telling Itachi would truly complicate things further. Itachi would bring it up to Fugaku and the whole fiasco would repeat itself. He didn't want that.

With one last firm squeeze to Itachi's hand, he let it go, his own hand dropping limply to his side as they continued walking.

"Things have just been weird lately..." he began, a little uncertainty in his tone. Itachi glanced down casually, relieved that Sasuke was finally going to speak to him.

"Father's been acting strange," he admitted. Deep down, he knew that Itachi knew aswell—probably before he himself even did. "He's actually acknowledging me..."

"How is that a bad thing? If anything, you should be happy that Father is finally showing you some semblance of respect and attention." Itachi ruffled his brother's hair affectionately, wishing he could somehow end Sasuke's strange behavior and sadness. It didn't suit him at all. He was so much more than that.

"I've just been confused. I don't know what to think of everything. It's happened so quick. I don't know what's going to come next, and I'm just stressed out about the change—"

Itachi suddenly stopped, causing Sasuke to halt his sudden confession of feelings. His brother's powerful gaze met his as he looked up at him as if in questioning.

"Don't be. You're too young to be worrying, Sasuke. Just let things go as they are, and see what happens. That's the only thing we can do, right? Besides, if anything happens then I'm always here for you. You know that, don't you?" Sasuke nodded. "Good. You can tell me anything, Sasuke. Don't hold things in like you've been doing. It'll do you some good to just speak."

It was then when he grasped Sasuke's shoulders firmly, pressing a feathery kiss to soft lips despite the sternness in his voice. He backed away slowly, as if not to scare his little brother off as he watched a light pink blush stain high on his cheek bones.

"I love you, Sasuke. Don't ever forget that."

As if on cue, soft footsteps were heard off in the distance, crunching through fallen leaves as a shadow slowly came into view from the overhead lamps lighting their path. Both brother's paused their conversation immediately as a familiar face caught their sight.

"Well, what brings you boys out here so late at night? Coming back from training, I assume?" Iruka Sensei asked cheerfully, stopping directly in front of the brothers. It was a bit awkward socializing with someone so late at night. It felt to Itachi like he was bargaining a deal with the man, but he knew his former sensei wasn't anything like that. He was simply a friendly man with only good intentions.

"We were just taking a walk to clear our heads, actually," Itachi responded casually, feeling Sasuke grip tightly onto his hand, though he pretended to take no notice. Sasuke still hadn't told him the complete truth.

"Hmm, that reminds me... Sasuke, are you doing well after your last unfortunate training incident?"

Sasuke's eyes widened suddenly, and Itachi didn't miss the gesture.

"Unfortunate training incident?" Itachi repeated, clearly not having a clue about what was being spoken. He knew that Sasuke hadn't told him the full truth, and it looked like he was about to uncover a little part of it now, atleast.

Iruka gave Itachi a disbelieving look.

"You...haven't heard?"

"It's news to me," Itachi simply stated, trying to keep a calm composure. Just what exactly happened to Sasuke? Could it be a link to the reason he'd been acting strange? Only time would tell...

"Ah, right. You only just arrived from your last mission, so that's to be expected. I figured Sasuke would have filled you in on the details, though," he stammered nervously.

Both looked down at Sasuke then, expecting an answer as to why he didn't inform Itachi.

Feeling betrayed, Sasuke was at a loss for words.

"I...didn't want anyone to worry. It wasn't even worth mentioning, really..." he said eventually, never once meeting the speculative gazes of either individual.

"Sorry if I started something," Iruka quickly apologized, giving Sasuke a sympathetic look.

"I'll be talking to you later about this, Sasuke, and sensei, it was nice seeing you again. We'll have to catch up over some ramen soon. We've got to get home before Mother and Father start to worry."

"I see. Well, you boys get home safe, even though I know you're fully capable of taking care of yourselves. You can never be too careful. I'll see you in about two months at the academy, Sasuke! Enjoy your break!"

After saying their condolences, they parted ways, leaving an awkward air between the two siblings.

"Sasuke, what exactly happened while I was away that Sensei was referring to?"

The younger shifted his feet slowly as they stopped, reluctant to answer. In the meantime, Itachi led them to a nearby bench to sit and talk. Itachi wasn't yet finished prying answers from him, it seemed.

Itachi sat down first, hoisting Sasuke atop his lap facing him as Sasuke straddled his hips snugly.

"See? I knew that you didn't tell me the whole truth," he whispered lightly against the child's forehead, hot breath blowing back wispy obsidian locks. Wounding his arms around Sasuke's waist, he pulled him in closer, noticing his discomfort at the line of topic.

"I'm sorry... I don't want you to have to worry about me. You worry too much anyway," he breathed into his neck apologetically, smelling sweet cologne with a mixture of honey soap. He enjoyed Itachi's scent.

He heard a sigh, almost sounding like a deep breath emit from his brother's lips. Sasuke removed his head from his neck and met Itachi's intense gaze.

"Sasuke, you are my first priority over everything. I will always worry and care for you, no matter what other things I have going on—its impossible for me to not do so. Sasuke, you are what I live for, do you understand that? You're all I have—all I look forward to after every mission. I only come home for you. I'm still here because of you. Every grain of sand, every star in this very night sky above us could not possibly amount to how much I love you, so don't ever tell me not to worry about you. What do I have to do to make you understand that?"

A moment of silence passed by them like a tidal wave as Sasuke stared at his brother with wide, disbelieving eyes. He knew that Itachi loved him, very much infact, but this...

"Kiss me..."

It was only a mere whisper spoken by the youngest, and could have easily passed as a caress of the warm breeze currently wafting through, though Itachi knew better.

And he had also complied.

It had been nothing like their previous kisses. These kisses Itachi gave him were passionate and lingering. After one kiss ended, another one started until they eventually became desperate and needy. As he could recall, Itachi had only kissed him once or twice on his lips since he was extremely young. Now, it seemed as if he were crossing several boundaries since then, but it wasn't as if Sasuke was complaining. He rather enjoyed it.

"S-Sasuke...," he gasped between kisses. "Whenever you're..." Kiss. "...ready..." Kiss. "...you have to tell me..." Another kiss. "...the truth..."

Sasuke held on desperately to his brother, gasping for breath as Itachi continued to kiss him. His answer ended up being a muffled moan that Itachi happily took as an answer as he plundered his mouth shamelessly on the lamp-lit path.

Several emotions began coursing throughout the child's heated body as he grasped Itachi's clothed chest tightly. He felt Itachi's hand pressed firmly against the small of his back while the other rested against his neck, pulling him towards his brother for better access. He hadn't a clue what the feelings were—after all, it was his first time feeling them—but all he knew was the he liked them, and never wanted his brother to stop. He was addicting, and when he felt a warm tongue dart out, gently skimming his lower lip, was when he lost it.

A contented moan escaped his lips despite their surroundings, and Sasuke opened his mouth against his brother's prodding tongue to allow him entrance. He hadn't a clue what he was doing, but if Itachi's lips had felt this good, then his tongue must be even better.

And it was exactly as he thought.

A warm, pleasantly moist tongue collided with his own, and he couldn't help but to think why Itachi had gone this far. Before, it had only been a soft peck to the lips—barely even that because he remembered Itachi mentioning that he had been too old for things like that. If that were so, then why had they both witnessed their mother and father kiss a myriad of times? How was it different?

He would have to ask later, because he could barely think coherent thoughts anymore. All he was focused on were the sounds they were currently making as he felt Itachi gently nip at his lower lip. Sasuke's inexperienced tongue glided alongside Itachi's a little hesitantly, trying to mimic his brother's actions. A low moan vibrated in his mouth, telling Sasuke that he was doing it right. He was proud to hear his brother make those pleasing sounds. It seemed like that was the only thing he had did correctly in weeks, and he was happy. He was all too willing to try this again in the future. It made him feel wanted for once...

Their lungs were beginning to give out as oxygen became scarce. The ferocity in their kisses slowly died down as their grip on eachother began to loosen.

Itachi gave him one last lingering kiss before pulling away with a string of candied saliva still connecting them. Both were panting and flushed, lips swollen as they desperately tried to catch their breath. Sasuke collapsed against his brother's chest, eyes closed as he felt strong arms envelope him. With his ear pressed against Itachi's chest, he heard his heartbeat drumming wildly. It made Sasuke feel accomplished, for he had been the only one so far to cause such reactions from his normally stoic brother.

Respiration was slowly beginning to turn back to normal as time passed between them in a peaceful silence. It was a calm night; it was a perfect night, and Sasuke was beginning to drift off into a dreamless sleep until he felt the warm arms around him tighten protectively.

"Sasuke..." Itachi's voice had sounded different somehow. It was almost...sad. What was wrong? Had he not been good enough?

He lifted his head from his brother's chest, appearing dazed from sleep. He needed to look at him, but at that very moment, he regretted it.

"I'm sorry..."