Summary: Itachi loves children a few smidges more than he did in canon. Before he knows it, he finds himself with eleven more younger siblings, waddling behind him like ducks after their mother. Sasuke is disgruntled. Itachi thinks that he can never have too many little siblings.

A/N: Hello! This is the very first time I publish fanfiction and I'm excited about it. Any feedback is welcome :). As the summary suggests, this is a wholesome Itachi-centric fic, focusing on his interactions with the Konoha 12, which wouldn't have happened in canon. Should this go on long enough to reach such a point, it will diverge from canon. I mean, c'mon, wholesome Itachi and sibling interactions? Soup for the soul. Please enjoy!

Twelve Little Ducklings, Following A...Weasel?

Chapter 1:

The day begins as any day that Itachi spends in the village tends to, by asserting his dominance over Konoha mortals through sheer discipline. Itachi, of course, never notices this practice, but it persists all the same. Today, eleven-year-old Itachi asserts that dominance by demonstrating his walk, shaming every ninja he passes as they marvel at his even strides and grace.

Fugaku's back straightens in pride, although he doesn't know why. Mikoto senses honor raining like gold on her name.

His perfect steps take him to Training Ground 10, just a ways away from the Academy. Itachi intends to pick Sasuke up, and take a long walk and finally get some quality time together. Rarely does his schedule match up so well, so he will take every advantage, including shunting his training into a public training space.

The Academy releases her students early, today, to dedicate the rest for security checks. A tiny pranking menace had revealed enormous holes in patrols and compromised infrastructure earlier that week. While the menace was surely punished, ninja are nothing if not efficient, and set to fixing the oversight at once.

The menace loudly protested his cruel penance and retaliated by taking advantage of yet another security hole. The Sandaime Hokage, meanwhile, sat watching the menace's escape from his crystal ball only five floors away and chuckled in his pipe. It's for his ninjas' training, he insisted.

Unaware of what had happened prior, Itachi does his warm-up, not quite prepared for Konoha's most humiliating, functional, and free, tracking exercise.

Pop, drop, plop, the menace, wet from a stream, rushes into Training Ground 10, making apt use of a cloak-genjutsu*.

Ever the perfect ninja, Itachi whips out a hand to protect himself, then jumps away altogether. The boy, cradled in an amateur's genjutsu, stank something awful. Itachi blocks his nostrils with chakra and lands a few meters away on the thick branch of a Hashirama tree.

Now, here, Itachi might have waited for the boy in orange to leave, then resume practice. He might have gone to pick his brother up, never sparing a second thought to the stinky child.

However, this Itachi holds a deep fondness for children. He lands into a crouch near the menace, noting the whiskers and sunshine hair, hair so similar to a very certain someone, and tucks that rapidly forming thought for later.

"Do you require assistance?" Itachi asks, tilting his head owlishly. The boy's face wrinkles until resembles a crumpled origami with a face painted on.

"Whatcha say?"

"...Do you need help?" Itachi rephrases, wondering if his precious Sasuke is so advanced, or if this one is vocabulary-wise challenged. ANBU training takes over, eyes scanning the boy's condition, from the soggy soil on his hair to the redness in his hands caused not by friction, but by chemical reaction. He must've touched some foul-smelling mild-acid, no doubt. No wonder the boy had jumped into the water.

"Whaddaya want from me?" the boy retorts, eyes narrowing. Distrustful, which Itachi supposed make sense. "I don' even know your name."

"Forgive my rudeness," Itachi continues, smiling at the sight of the little boy's puffing cheeks. He had loved squishing Sasuke's cheeks as a baby. These days, he can only get away with a forehead-poke. "My name is Itachi."

"Well, I'm Naruto."

"Pleased to meet you."

"Yeah, thanks," Naruto grins wide.

("Hokage-sama, Naruto has escaped!"

"That trouble-maker...find him at once! Scour the marketplace!" Sandaime said, peering into the crystal ball where Naruto was very obviously not in the market area. No person is too old for mischief. Seeing the young ANBU demonstrate the bare minimum of respect to the one pariah most disrespected, Hiruzen muses. Perhaps, he allows himself to wonder, the village might see an Uchiha for Hokage, Danzo's grumbling asides.)

"You might catch a cold if you don't dry off." Itachi already moves to take the cloak off the boy's hands. Pale hands wring the cloak of almost all water. Then, the hands wrap the cloak around little Naruto.

Staring at the little child, Yang if Sasuke were Yin, Itachi makes a choice. There are never too many tiny feet pattering around the house and always too few children to coddle.

"Would you like to come to my home? Mother can draw a bath."

"Uh… Alright?" Naruto shrugs.

"Excellent!" Achievement unlocked: Baby Brother Number Two.

Mikoto's honor-calling only increases as Itachi's proximity to the Uchiha compound shortens until Itachi comes so close that Mikoto knows without a shred of doubt that Itachi will do something to elevate the Uchiha name yet again. Having been a silent prodigy of the Uchiha herself, once, (why else would the main line deem her worthy of Fugaku's hand?) she prepares by planning her way through the marketplace later that week, to spread word of Itachi's imminent accomplishment further. How convenient that the Uchiha Matriarch boasts a wide social network and a shiny, clean reputation.

At the front entrance, Mikoto witnesses a scene she'd wished to see since the Kyuubi had ravaged the village. Not as specific as this, no, but she'd wished that one day her sons and the last Uzumaki be friends. If not as close as her and Kushina, then at least friendly acquaintances.

As whispers of treachery wove through the Konoha populace, and the ruins of the village sat unrepaired in favor of other, more urgent ruins, ensuring her godson's health drifted far from her mind. Not when reestablishing the Uchiha's social status was the only cushion between them and banishing. Not when she had to strengthen her clan should the coup be carried out.

Still, the wide grin and round face-a spitting image of the Red Hot Habanero-eased an ancient worry. Should this noon go well, and should her sons gain another friend, Mikoto could at last work with a guilt-free mind.

So, not a single word of protest left her lips when Itachi bowed and requested a bath be drawn, the perfect image of a loving mother (What kind of ninja shows all their kunai to their own children, after all?) Neither child noted the snacks on the table, prepared a few minutes before their entry.

Should she squint, tilt her head, and let the tears pooling in her eyes dull her vision, Mikoto could almost fool herself into thinking she's looking at one or two of the many photographs that perished in Minato and Kushina's household on the Tenth of October. Whether it's of her and Kushina, or of Fugaku and Minato meeting for the first time, doesn't matter as much.

It just...she missed her friend.

"WAIT, YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO DRINK MILK BEFORE THE DATE ON THE BOX?!" a booming voice, a cross between Kushina's forceful melody and a growing boy's lilt, resounded through the house. Mikoto dropped her face into her palm. Privately, of course. It wouldn't do for any stranger to see less than the perfect mother and wife.

"Yes, that's the freshness date," Itachi answers evenly, something warm and wholesome bubbling in his chest at the sight of childish posturing. Why did his parents only have two children? They could have had so much more. There's a reason why Itachi is the most popular among his littler cousins.

"Your house is really nice, you know that?!" Naruto continues to not use his indoor voice and instead speaks as if volume conveys how much of a fact that statement is.

"Thank you."

"You're so cool, Nii-san!"

"Nii...san…" Itachi croaks of joy, heart growing three times bigger.

Mikoto does a dance. Completely dignified, of course. Mikoto's mother is definitely not rolling in her grave. Or rather, in her ash box.

Tucking the squeaky-clean child under his armpit, with a fresh bento-box that used to be Fugaku's, but Mikoto deemed Naruto needed more-so help him if he argues-Itachi leaps out of the compound, and heads towards the academy.

Hiruzen gives himself a mental pat on the back, and Danzo feels unreasonably angry in whatever damp cave he felt like languishing in today.

Iruka, meanwhile, stares in mild shock, mostly tired shock, as the Uchiha prodigy delivers Naruto cleaner, neater, and happier than he was an hour ago, along with the cloak he so shamelessly stole. Then, he raises his brows as Itachi swoops a squealing Sasuke onto his back. They go off on a relaxed stride that resembles Maito Gai's sunset moments (with an unwilling Kakashi Hatake) and Iruka promptly washes his mind of that image.

"And where exactly did you go off to this time, Naruto?" he yells, projecting just a hint of his own mother. "You were supposed to stay for detention!"

"Ah, well, Iruka-sensei…" Naruto wheezes nervously, hiding the gleaming bento wrapped in cloth so nice that Naruto can't tell what fabric it is. "It's an interesting story…"

"Where is the butyric acid, Naruto?"

"The butt acid? Is THAT why it stank so bad?"

"What did you DO, NARUTO?"

Sasuke casts a meaningful glance at his Nii-san and frowns. What was the dobe doing with him?

"Nii-sa-a-an," he whines and pokes Itachi's cheek. "What were you doing?"

"Just a task, Sasuke," Itachi answers, hands full of Little Brother, which means the world is just the way it should be.

Unbeknownst to Sasuke, he'd see quite a bit more of these 'tasks', and find himself with a lot more siblings than he bargained for.

End of Chapter One.

A/N: I found that very fun to write. How was it for you? I hope the humor hit true, along with the slightly sadder moments. Thank you for reading.

A possible preview of the next chapter:

The child stares intently at Itachi's dango. Itachi feels the need to protect his dango from hungry eyes.