everyone is afraid of something - everyone has to be needed by someone
(Dedicated to skylerr for "City of lights".)
He woke up startled; for a moment or two he didn't even know where he was. He looked around wildly in the darkness, looking for the tall and scary guy who wore a black cape with odd red markings on it and chased him for what seemed hours, claiming that everything he loved was already dead anyways. He didn't even understand it completely, yet it hurt so much just to think about that he couldn't hold back a whimper. He's never had a dream this scary before.
For a couple of moments he just laid there, letting the tears that welled up roll down his cheeks, but it was getting worse. It wasn't the first time that guy appeared in his dreams, taking everything away from him, frightening him, yet all the while he had a strange familiar feeling around him. He was going to go crazy for sure if he didn't do something.
It was always hard for her to wake up, even if she slept in, which she did rarely. Now it was in the middle of the night, and all she wanted was go back to sleep. She couldn't recall what she had dreamed, but it was pleasant, and she barely had the strength to pop an eye open. Yet she had no chance but to sit up and look at the small figure standing in the doorway.
"What is it, Sasuke-chan? You should be sleeping, you know."
"I..." the little boy started, his voice shaking. "Can I come in, Kaa-san?"
Before she could answer, the sheets shuffled and a very grumpy Fugaku emerged. If it weren't for what was coming, Mikoto would have chuckled at the sight of him. He was a very energetic man, strong and powerful, the head of the Uchiha clan. He rose early every day to go to work, and he never once slept in, but in the evening he always came home tired, and he needed his nightly sleep. Being disturbed at the middle of the night meant he'd be frustrated for the whole next day.
"Go to bed, Sasuke," the man grumbled. "You're nearly five, you can't spend every night in your mother's bed!"
"But-..." With only the slim line of moonlight that lit the room, Mikoto wasn't sure what she saw on her son's face, but his voice betrayed his emotions anyways.
"Uchiha men don't show their weakness." With that last verdict, Fugaku lied back down, pulling the sheets over his head.
At that moment, Mikoto wanted to hug his son to herself more than anything else in the world, but she couldn't. In the Uchiha clan, men's words were law. Her husband just denied Sasuke entrance, so she couldn't grant it to him, or else she would be practically out of the family for disobeying her man's orders. Of course, she usually didn't have the desire to object as Fugaku was generally a kind and thoughtful man, but everyone had their flaws. She would go comfort Sasuke at dawn after Fugaku left for work.
"Just try to go back to sleep, honey," she whispered, then lied back to the side of her husband. She heard a soft rustle as the fusuma paper door was closed, then all was silent.
He was never a deep sleeper; he always woke up to the smallest sound. Sometimes it was a great help to him, when he played going on missions with his friends and he had to take watch at night; he could half fall asleep and still stay alert; but at the same time, it annoyed him very much when all he wanted was a good night's sleep.
He opened his eyes at the exact moment the fusuma was pushed open, and he was fully awake by the time the other stepped to the room. He vaguely remembered his mother checking up on him at night sometimes when he was younger, but why would she do so now? He turned on his side to face the doorway.
He rubbed at his eyes. This had never happened before. Maybe he was still sleeping, after all? "Sasuke? What are you doing here?"
He reached out with the arm he wasn't laying on, and clicked the lamp on. In its light he could clearly see his little brother's tear-stained cheeks.
"Nii-san... I'm scared," Sasuke whispered, eyes downcast.
"Why didn't you go tell Kaa-san?" Itachi asked.
"I wanted to... but they said I was too big to do that," the younger sibling mumbled. "I tried to sleep but I'm too scared..."
"Did you have a nightmare?" Sasuke just nodded. "Come here." Itachi rolled over on the bed to make room for the child. Sasuke's eyes widened, but he stepped closer.
"Is this all right, Nii-san?"
Itachi couldn't help but laugh at the expression on his face. Somehow, he knew exactly why he was asking what he was asking. "Don't worry, we don't need to tell Tou-san."
"Really?" Sasuke brightened a bit, and climbed up the bed. He nestled close to Itachi, and his brother wrapped both of them in his warm blanket. He finally felt safe. It was a strange feeling; he couldn't remember feeling safer anywhere. He looked up to met Itachi's gaze so similar to his own. They had the same eye colour, but somehow, Itachi's eyes always looked more kind, while Sasuke unknowingly inherited the stern shape from their father. "Nii-san... tell me a story?"
Itachi smiled. "Okay, why not.
"Once upon a time, there was a shinobi who had amazing and unique chakra. He was strong, but he was untrained, and he didn't know about his strength. He was clumsy and he liked to act stupid, and he was careless: he always screamed first and then attacked. Most people didn't like him, but he had a few friends. One day, one of his friends got into trouble. He went after his friend, and saved his life. Their enemy was a tall and scary guy who wanted to kill both of them, but thanks to the shinobi's bravery, they somehow managed to escape. The shinobi saved both of them, but his friend needed to carry him back to the village he was so hurt."
"Was he brave, Nii-san?" Sasuke murmured, already half asleep.
"Yes, he was," Itachi smiled.
"I wish I had a friend like him..." Sasuke wriggled closer. Itachi put an arm around him with a smile.
"Sleep well, otouto."
She woke as she always did: to the feeling of his husband's lips on her forehead as he kissed her goodbye for the day. It was time for her to get up and wake the kids as well. Oh, right... She remembered last night's happenings, and it made her get dressed quicker. She hoped Sasuke wasn't too angry with her.
She shuffled through the house with her hair still unruly, with the desire of kissing her son good morning and asking for his forgiveness. But Sasuke wasn't in his bed. Mikoto frowned. Sasuke was definitely not a morning person. For a couple of moments she just stood there, the worst possibilities racing through her mind. He fell down the stairs on his way back. He left the house because he was angry at her. And many other may-be-events that she sincerely hoped never crossed Sasuke's mind.
After a couple of seconds, she shook herself and left the room. She needed to look for him. She also needed to go and wake Itachi on her way, or he would be late from the Academy.
As she opened Itachi's door and looked in, immense relief washed through her. There they were, both of her precious sons, one curled up in a ball, the other stretched around him protectively – and this time, the always alert Itachi didn't even move when their mother came in.
She silently adored them for a while, a small smile carving her lips, then, as silently as she could, left the room and moved the fusuma back in its place.
Perhaps today she could let them wake a little later.