Inspiration: My cousins, who are basically my Sasuke and Naruto.

(Note: This has been copied over from my account on Wattpad)

Naruto Uzumaki sat on the Academy's swing, swinging back and forth mindlessly. The sun had already set and the sky was dark, yet he remained where he was. What was the point, when there wasn't even anyone to welcome him home? He never had a family, or even a proper caretaker. A soft sigh escaped the young boy's lips; he knew the villagers hated him for the lazy-ass fox that was inside of him, but what did that have to do with him? Did they not know the difference between a scroll and the kunai sealed within it?

Maybe, if there was such a thing as past lives or reincarnation, he had done something to anger a deity. That could be why he had no friends, no family, no one to turn to, no one to watch his back. There wasn't even a shoulder to cry on. No mentor, no guardian, nothing. What had he done that warranted a punishment like this? To be completely alone in the world?

His startling blue eyes flicked up and he instantly shrank back into the shadows, trying to be as invisible as possible when a particularly rowdy, and obviously drunk, group of ninja stumbled past the Academy. Naruto wrinkled his nose at the strong odor of sake, flinching slightly at the memories that accompanied it.

Glancing upwards at the full moon, Naruto cast a longing glance at the houses that were filled with a warm, bright light spilling out of the windows as families talked and laughed and had dinner together. Shaking the images conjured up from wishful thinking from his mind, Naruto slid off the swing with the intent to arrive at his "secret" lake. He called it his because only he ever ventured that deep into the forest, and the lake acted like a mirror for him to see the human features on his face that countered the names of "Demon" and Monster".

Well, that was his plan... until he heard a shrill scream.

Despite what everyone in the village did to him, Naruto wasn't the type of person to let someone — and they sounded young, too — who sounded that terrified face the source of their fear alone.

It took only a second for the Academy yard to be empty, the abandoned swing moving back and forth slightly, the only tell-tale sign that someone had been here.

Sasuke Uchiha ran to the Uchiha Compound, eager to see his big brother. Itachi had promised to train him after dinner, and Sasuke had been training all day until his accuracy was ten billion percent perfect. Sasuke was excited to see the Uchiha prodigy's reaction when he showed Itachi that he was ready to learn more. After all, how else would he live up to his father's expectations, or catch up with his brother?

The seven-year-old stumbled as the strong stench of blood suddenly overwhelmed his senses. Shivering as his stomach knotted with an unexplained sense of dread, Sasuke cast wary eyes in the direction of his clan's compound, and swallowed hard. Suddenly he didn't want to go any further. What had been a sanctuary for the seven years of his short life now appeared to be hiding something dark and forbidden. It was quiet... too quiet. Sasuke steeled himself; his family was in there. They were fine. Everything was fine. Maybe a mission had gone wrong and an Uchiha was badly injured... or there was a hunt? Even the last thought sounded ridiculous in Sasuke's mind as it scrambled for excuses.

Everyone's fine, Sasuke repeated to himself. They're okay. No one's—

His mind short-circuited as the sight before him froze him in place. The guards were lying in a pool of their own blood by the gates.

'No... no!'

Sasuke was sprinting, vaguely registering the prickling sensation of hot tears burning he back of his eyes. He was running faster than he ever had before, the familiar houses — why were they so dark? — blurring into one big stretch of navy blue. Sasuke barely noticed the turns he took, the way his lungs were burning or his ever-increasing speed as his focus zeroed in on his house. He didn't notice his aunt, uncle and little cousins lying in the garden, their throats slit. He didn't notice Izumi, Itachi's girlfriend, lying stretched out on her porch.

"Kaa-chan! Otou-san! Nii—" Sasuke cringed slightly at the way his voice echoed through the seemingly hollow house. "Nii-san...?" he called a little softer, fear and adrenaline rushing through his veins as his heart thumped so hard against his ribcage he was sure everyone in the village was able to hear it. Sasuke trembled slightly as he ventured forward cautiously, one hesitant step after another. "Kaa-chan? Otou-san?" His eyes trailed over to the wall and he barely held back a scream at the blood staining the floor. 'Kaa-chan just washed the floor...' Swallowing hard once more, Sasuke slowly pushed the door that separated him from—

From his parents' bodies.

Itachi was standing over them, blood gleaming in the moonlight on his katana. Sasuke wasn't sure, but it looked like Itachi was crying, or at least mourning, the way his head was hung and his shoulders were stiff. Like his father's, whenever anyone brought up the Yondaime Hokage and his wife.

"Itachi... please..." Sasuke whispered. Itachi straightened slowly, and like a dam burst, hot tears started sliding down the younger boy's face. "You didn't do it. You couldn't have done it." His voice rose in volume until he was screaming. "Tell me you didn't do it!"

"Foolish little brother," Itachi started calmly in a monotone voice, though his hands trembled ever so slightly. "Hate me... I killed your family to test my strength. I will spare you, only because you are not worth killing. Gain the same eyes as mine, and when you do, come after me and kill me. Live for that, my foolish little brother."

Itachi turned to walk past Sasuke, the very image of an uncaring cold-blooded murderer, intent on leaving the Uchiha Compound with nothing else to say.

"Like hell I will," Sasuke whispered once the footsteps had faded away, hands clenching into fists as he softly knelt beside his mother, taking in her still, yet strangely serene, face. "There's no way... there's no way my nii-san would do this," Sasuke murmured, as if talking to himself or even his mother. "But if he did... then I'm going to find out why. Nii-san never does anything without reason."

His head suddenly snapped up at the shrill scream that echoed to his ears. Jumping to his feet, Sasuke was out the door and sprinting down to the civilian houses as fast as he could, the scenery a blur around him as he raced, faster and faster.

I have to get there in time... I have to be faster. If I was faster, maybe I could've stopped Itachi, was the thought running in circles around Sasuke's mind.

His jaw clenched as determination, and a urgency unlike anything he ever felt before, thrummed through his veins and threw aside all other senses. He didn't care that he was leaving behind an entire compound filled with his family's bodies. All he knew was that he needed to run, faster than he had ever run before.

Faster... I have to be faster!

"You little wretch! You vile being! How dare you live while she doesn't!"

A man around his mid-thirties, quite obviously furious and drunk, screamed at a girl who was shrunk against a wooden fence just outside her house, shivering in fear. Spittle flew as he continued to rage at the girl, who couldn't be more than six. As the moon shifted its rays, bubblegum-pink hair came to light, and large jade-green eyes stared up at her abusive father in terror.

These distinctly unique features only seemed to enrage the man further.

As he raised his hand, already clenched in a fist, the girl let out a shrill scream and ducked her head, arms flying up to cover it as she buried her face in her tucked-up knees.

There was a grunt, a whoosh of air, a thump.

Sakura Haruno slowly looked up, and found two boys standing over her. The one with a wild mess of spiky neon-yellow hair was crouched in front of her, his unnaturally bright blue eyes shining with worry as his hands fluttered about uncertainly, checking for injuries of any kind.

"Are you okay? Say something," the blonde was repeating when Sakura's mind finally registered what had happened. She peered over his shoulder to see another boy, perhaps a year older than her, standing over her father. His raven hair was gelled back into something resembling a duck's butt, and his dark eyes were glaring disdainfully at something on the ground.

Just one look at the slumped figure of her father — not dead but merely knocked out due to his intoxication and a well-aimed chop to the neck — had Sakura bursting into tears as she collapsed into the blonde's arms.

"Whoa!" Naruto yelped, almost falling backwards at the unexpected weight. He steadied himself remarkably quickly, arms already wrapped securely around the girl as she sobbed into his shirt. He looked over at the dark-haired boy who looked just as lost as he felt. "H-Hey... you're okay," Naruto attempted to soothe as he felt the girl stiffen and try to pull away. He only tightened his grip on her, rubbing what he hoped to be calming circles on her back; it worked, and she was slowly relaxing back into his arms. "You're okay now, I've got you. You're safe... you're safe."

Naruto shifted his gaze to the left when the dark-haired boy crouched beside him. A smirk curled his left lip. "You're not too bad," he said randomly. At the raised eyebrow, the blonde elaborated, "You were what, on the other side of the village? But you still caught up to me. Whizzed straight past me to tackle that dumbass to the ground," he jerked his head over to the still-knocked-out man.

Sasuke smirked slightly, though pain mingled with sadness lurked in the onyx depths of his eyes. "At least I was on time for something tonight. If I had been faster a few hours earlier, I could've stopped something that's... irreversible now."

Naruto hummed, but didn't press further. He looked down at the girl, who had stopped crying, and was just listening to his heartbeat. "You okay now?" he asked, softening his voice in an attempt to keep her calm.

The girl swallowed and slowly sat up. "Um, yeah. S-Sorry," she whispered.

Naruto cocked his head. Somehow she reminded him of a injured animal. Wary, frightened, and not willing to trust anyone or anything. "You can trust us, you know," he told her suddenly, but just as gently as before. "We're not going to hurt you."

She cringed, but nodded anyway. "I-I know..."

"You wanna tell us what that douche-bag was gonna do to you, and why?" Sasuke asked bluntly, nodding over at the man.

Sakura flinched violently, and Naruto scrambled to placate her. "Easy there, it's okay, you don't have to tell us if you don't want to." He shot a glare at the other boy. "Did you really have to be so blunt?"

Sasuke shrugged. "There's no sense going around it. We were going to have to find out eventually."

"It's okay," the girl said shakily, weakly pushing against Naruto's arm that had shot out in front of her almost protectively. "I-I can tell you."

She felt something warm blossom in her chest when those startlingly-blue orbs, brimming with concern, turned on her. He asked quietly, "Are you sure? You don't have to listen to everything this teme says, you know."

"Tch, dobe," the dark-haired boy rolled his eyes, folding his arms against his chest.

Sakura nodded with a slight lift to her lips. "Um, I'm Sakura Haruno, by the way. And that-that's my... father. He keeps beating me, because h-he says it's m-my fault t-that my m-mother died." Her eyes once again filled with tears as memories of her horrible childhood flashed, unbidden, to the front of her mind. She squeezed her eyes shut and clamped her hands over her ears, breaths coming in quicker and shorter than the previous ones. Her heart was racing too fast, and she couldn't breathe... couldn't breathe—!

Her eyes shot open as an unfamiliar — and yet oh-so-very familiar — warmth surrounded her. She risked a slight tilt of her head, and was shocked when she saw the blonde boy and the raven on either side of her, encasing her in their arms protectively. She met their eyes, and saw genuine worry and concern.

For the first time in her short six years of living, she felt secure. Happy. Safe.

"You're okay. You're with us now. Breathe," the blonde muttered as if in a mantra. Sakura leaned her head against his chest, comforted by the steady thump-thump of his heart. How, she wondered idly, can three strangers feel so comfortable with each other within minutes of meeting?

"You don't need to tell us anymore," the raven agreed, his voice a little lower than the blonde's raspy tone. "I..." An audible swallow. "My brother, Itachi. Tonight, he slaughtered my entire clan, to test his strength. He told me to get the same eyes as his, and to go after him when I do."

"And? Are you?" Naruto asked just as quietly, blue holding onyx. "Sasuke Uchiha."

Sasuke shook his head slightly, but found himself unable to look away from the blue orbs that seemed to be piercing into him and looking deep into his soul. There was no way anyone could ever hide something or even lie to this boy.

"No, my brother would never do anything without reason. He... he didn't kill, he loved. Maybe more than an Uchiha is supposed to. Maybe more than people are allowed to. Maybe so much that it became his downfall," Sasuke mused. Shaking his head, he continued, "I'm going to find him. Not to kill him, but to drag his sorry ass back to the village and get some real answers."

Naruto smiled. "Good answer. I would've hated to slap you."

Sakura almost giggled as Sasuke let out an indignant noise, recoiling from the shared embrace. "What?"

Naruto shrugged, a teasing smile on his whiskered face. "I would've bitch-slapped you to make you see reason if you did decide to kill your brother. Having even one family member is better than having none at all. Trust me." His eyes held a far-away look that made Sasuke curious.

"So what's your backstory?"

Naruto blinked, the distant look in his eyes vanishing. "My backstory? It isn't much, really... my whole life I've been shunned and cast aside for something I couldn't control. Because I'm—" He stopped abruptly. Sakura's head shot up, but Naruto quickly curled a hand and pushed her down gently. "It's okay, your father's still knocked out," he assured, already guessing what she was thinking.

Sakura nodded slowly, sinking back down without a fight. After a moment, she said softly, "You can trust us, you know."

Naruto smirked a the timid voice, amused at how she turned his own words back at him. "Sure," he agreed. He shifted his eyes to the full moon, avoiding their gazes. "I'm... you know Minato Namikaze, the Yondaime Hokage and his wife, the Red Hot Habanero? They gave their lives to save this village six years ago, to protect the village they loved... and to protect me." Naruto looked back down at his new companions. "I'm the jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi no Kitsune, and the Yondaime's legacy." His eyes travelled to the ground, sure that they would turn away from him as all other children had done.

"You're the son of the Yondaime Hokage," Sasuke murmured in realization. "He... he was my otou-san's best friend."

Naruto lifted his head, surprise lighting his eyes. "Really?"

Sasuke nodded. "So you're Naruto. Naruto Uzumaki. I know because the Red Hot Habanero... her name was Kushina Uzumaki, right? She was my kaa-chan's best friend too. I think she was in a Genin team with Kushina-san, and my otou-san with Minato."

"Wow," Naruto whispered. "That... I never knew that."

"Hey, you know what?" Sasuke asked suddenly after a few more minutes of comfortable silence.

"What?" Naruto asked lazily, turning his head to look at the boy.

"I'm cold."

Naruto whacked Sasuke upside-down the head, grinning as the other boy yelped and tumbled forwards. Sakura even let out a giggle. "Idiot," Naruto shook his head before deadpanning, "That's probably because we're all sitting in the middle of the road in the middle of the night."

"Ya don't say," Sasuke grumbled sarcastically, sitting up as he rubbed the back of his head. "My head's sore now. I'm cold and I have a headache. Thanks a lot, Naruto."

"Oh shut up, you privileged Uchiha twat," Naruto rolled his eyes.

Sasuke muttered something not-so-nice under his breath. "Whatever, street rat. C'mon, let's go somewhere warm... like the Uchiha Compound."

"Oh, how wonderful," Naruto said sarcastically, "I do love sleeping with dead, bleeding bodies."

Sasuke blinked. "What."

"The Uchiha Compound," Naruto said slowly as if talking to a five-year-old. "Is filled with dead bodies. You said it yourself, Itachi killed your entire clan... right?" He looked uncertainly at Sasuke, who resisted the sudden urge to facepalm.

"Yeah... no," Sasuke shook his head. "We're not staying at the Uchiha Compound. Not until they clean it up, which could be a week from now. But the stench of blood," he wrinkled his nose with an air of obvious unhappiness. "Ugh, that's gonna reek."

"You reek," Naruto muttered under his breath. "C'mon, I've got a place we can stay." He helped Sakura up, absent-mindedly wrapping an arm around her. "What, are you going to stay there all night, Ke?"

"Coming, I'm coming," Sasuke grumbled, getting up and jogging after them. "Where are you taking us? Should we be worried about you stuffing us in an oven to cook us?" he joked.

"No," Naruto snorted in amusement. "I've got a... brother-figure, of sorts. I stay at his apartment sometimes, when it's a certain time of year or I get locked out of my apartment again."

Sasuke frowned, an expression of deep thought stealing over his face. "Ke?" Naruto looked back, noticing he had stopped.

Sasuke looked up, a determined frown on his face. "You're never going to get locked out of your apartment again, and you're never going to have to worry about being stuck outside during the Kyuubi Festival with the air-headed villagers and brain-dead shinobi."

"How did you—" Naruto started.

"After all," Sasuke continued, walking up to them, "you've got a family now."

Naruto blinked. "I do?"

Sasuke bumped his shoulder, smirking slightly. "Yeah. You've got me, and Sakura now. We can be our own little family. Small, and broken maybe, but still a family."

Naruto smiled. "You wanna keep your last name?" he asked Sakura, who immediately shook her head. "Okay then. An Uchiha-Uzumaki family it is."

"What a mouthful," Sasuke groaned. "Uchimaki."

"Nah... Uzuchiha."

"Yeah, no. Uchimaki."






Both boys stopped to stare at Sakura, who smiled shyly at them. "Uzuchiha sounds better as a last name... Uchimaki sounds like some kind of food."

"Ha!" Naruto beamed. "Sucker!" he turned to Sasuke, who had a look of mock-betrayal on his face.

"You just said that because you like Naruto better!" Sasuke exclaimed accusingly, thrusting a finger in the pinkette's face.

Sakura shrugged unrepentantly, a sly smile curling her lip. "Maybe."

"I knew it!" Sasuke threw his hands up in the air, a look of mock-despair etched on his face. "How could you betray me like this, Saki?"

Sakura giggled at the unexpected theatrics, shaking her head in amusement. Sakura blinked, turning slightly to her right to get a better look at what had caught her attention from her peripheral vision. A soft, genuine smile appeared on her face as she lifted a finger. "Guys... look. It's sunrise."

Naruto and Sasuke turned as well, watching as the sky was painted a breathtaking mixture of gold and red, the typical sky-blue seeping out from behind the clouds.

Naruto suddenly frowned, glancing at Sasuke who looked almost star-struck at the beauty of the new morning. "Hey, you made us stop and now we not going to get any sleep!" he hissed loudly, dope-slapping Sasuke's head.

"Ow! What is it with you and abusing me?" Sasuke whined, clutching his poor, abused head.

"Look where we were!" Naruto waved his arms in an almost maniacal fashion, and Sasuke had to hold in a laugh when he realized they were on top of the Yondaime Hokage's head, instead of the apartment Naruto originally planned to take them to.

"That wasn't my fault!"

"It so is!"


"You stopped us! We could've had at least half an hour of sleep, but noooooo! Let's stop walking and get my siblings' attention, was what you had to do!" Naruto ranted, not even noticing his use of the word "siblings". Sasuke apparently didn't either, as he shouted with just as much conviction, yet somehow remaining playful, back at his new "brother".

Sakura smiled softly, watching them banter. It was amusing, and... endearing. She turned to look at the sun as it fully rose in the sky. Deep within her, she felt something settle, as if clicking into place.

It might take a while, but eventually they would learn to rely on each other, to trust each other with everything they had. They would learn to express their emotions through different ways other than food and banter. And as the new sun bathed them in its bright rays, Sakura welcomed its warmth, her smile growing as she absently listened to the noise of her brothers bickering in the background.

And exactly ten years from now, the trio would stand in the exact same place, watching the sun rise on a waking village. Naruto and Sasuke would be silent that time around with Sakura between them. It would mark not only the rising of a new era, but the anniversary of something special that only those three shared.

And even apart, or even in the dark days that were sure to come ahead, the three siblings would watch a sunrise and know what it meant, know what it brought about.

A new dawn. A new family... a new beginning.

For all of them.