Disclaimer: Naruto and company belongs to Masashi Kishimoto.
He'd come home late into the night from the fifth mission that week. Exhaustion weighed on the young man's shoulders and slowed his feet as he entered the mansion. All the elder Uchiha wanted was a hot shower and his warm bed. That said as he ascended the stairs he couldn't ignore the sound of muffled cries from his younger brother's room.
"Sasuke?" Itachi called at the door.
When no answer came he quietly pushed the door open.
Sasuke lay curled up with his back facing the doorway. His shoulders shook slightly.
No sooner had Itachi said this than a blur of blue and black nearly knocked him over.
"Nii-sama came home!" the child's cries were slightly muffled by Itachi's shirt which Sasuke had buried his face in. Itachi dropped his pack and wrapped his arms around the boy's shaking shoulders.
"Of course I did, Sasuke…" Thoroughly alarmed by his brother's behavior, Itachi unwound the boy's arms from around his waist and knelt in front of him. Looking at the younger's face he became even more alarmed to find a trail of tears on his cheeks.
"…what's wrong, Sasuke? What happened?" He reached up to brush the bangs from Sasuke's eyes, wiping away a tear with his thumb.
The seven year old shook his head and wiped furiously at his eyes. "I'm sorry. It's nothing Nii-san should worry about," he dismissed.
For all the coldness accredited him, tears on his baby brother's face always melted the elder Uchiha.
Sasuke tried to turn away but Itachi caught the boy up in his arms and carried him to the bed. He sat the boy on his lap and gently rubbed his back.
"If it got you this upset it isn't nothing, Sasuke," Itachi noted. "Why don't you tell me what happened?" he coaxed.
The boy wiped his eyes with the heel of his hand, keeping his head down. He spoke quickly.
"It's just something a classmate said today at the Academy."
"What did he say?" Itachi asked.
He hesitated, not wanting to trouble his brother. He sniffed and more tears leaked from his eyes
"Sasuke?" Itachi coaxed.
"We were talking about missions and someone said that someday you might not come back from a mission, that you'd die. And then I had a bad dream of you getting hurt by an Uchiha using a lightning blade."
Itachi looked surprised at this and paused in his light massage of Sasuke's back. "An Uchiha?"
Sasuke ducked his head. "Yeah…well he had Sharingan anyway…like yours," he shuddered. "He was really scary."
Itachi wrapped his arms around Sasuke, letting the child's head rest on his shoulder. His fingers took up their gentle massage once again on Sasuke's back.
"You don't need to worry about that, it was only a dream. I'll always watch over you, Sasuke," he soothed.
After a moment he pulled back a little, and brushed the bangs from Sasuke's eyes.
"Sasuke, do you know why I'm on ANBU?"
"Because Nii-san's the strongest," Sasuke affirmed.
"Right. That means I won't let anyone beat me, I won't let anyone hurt me, so I'll always be there for you, okay Sasuke?"
The boy nodded, laying his head back against Itachi's shoulder.
"You know, you'll be strong too, Sasuke. Maybe be even stronger than me."
The child brightened considerably at this. "Really, you think so?"
Itachi smiled. "Of course, your already strong, Sasuke. I think it's very likely you'll out do me someday."
"Then I can be on ANBU with Nii-san!" he squealed excitedly, before yawning.
Itachi smiled as he lay the boy down on his bed. "Maybe, but right now I think you need to get some sleep."
Sasuke yawned again and nodded but didn't close his eyes. "Ne, Nii-san?"
"Would you stay here tonight?"
"Sure," the elder Uchiha nodded and he climbed into the bed and lay back to back with the younger.
"Goodnight, Nii-san," Sasuke yawned.
Itachi smiled, now able to rest peacefully. "Goodnight Otouto."
Yay for sibling fluff and way too obvious foreshadowing! Oh well, hope you enjoyed it anyway.