Are There Brakes on That Thing?
Finally released from the hospital, the hot summer atmosphere was both a breath of fresh air and a sweltering hammer. Itachi closed his eyes and appreciated being able to feel either.
“Hey old man! Get a move on!”
And as soon at the fucking wheelchair cleared the doorway, he was going to plant Naruto’s face into the nearest wall. The plain white bricks of the ER entrance were rather conveniently close.
“NARUTO-KUN! You shouldn’t say that about Itachi-san! He is in the springtime of his youth! Even Gai-sensei–”
Snickering behind him only caused Itachi to grunt. “Heh, you’d think this was the first time any of them had been to a hospital.”
“Let’s go.” An impatient rustle of cellophane and paper sounded to his left.
There was a soft giggle from even further back and a familiar grunt that echoed his own.
“Ah, let’s go.” Itachi straightened and lifted his chin. A flare of bright sunshine caused him to squint momentarily as the group moved out from the shadows of the hospital’s awning. Naruto’s grin and Lee’s beaming visage were the first things he saw.
Kisame rolled the wheelchair down the ramp with practised ease, Sasuke following behind. The youngest Uchiha’s arms and shoulders burdened by flowers, stuffed toys, and colourful cards; even a bottle of red wine.
Arm in arm, his parents walked down the steps beside the ramp; Mikoto shaking her head and smiling, Fugaku scowling at the two younger boys who were loudly arguing the speed capabilities of a wheelchair.
By the time the group had reached the cars, the debate had resulted in Lee challenging Naruto to prove his youthful vitality and both boys were now staring expectantly at Itachi, who was still utilizing hospital property.
He sighed, and rose to step out of the contraption. A few things happened then: Mother reached out at the same time as Kisame, and Sasuke took the two steps required to shove the many gifts into Naruto’s arms. Itachi gritted his teeth as warm hands supported his elbow and a single larger one braced his shoulder. The situation was embarrassing enough without Sasuke turning back to him, concern plain in his eyes.
For a moment, it wasn’t clear whether the younger Uchiha would shove him back into the chair or help him away from it. “You don’t have to, aniki,” Sasuke protested.
Itachi reached out, ignoring the flare of pain at the movement, and poked his sibling between the eyes. “Baka, I have to get into the car.” Amused, he watched Sasuke blink and scowl.
When the rough hand on his shoulder tensed in warning, Itachi nodded in acknowledgement. Finding his balance, he steadied himself as Kisame deftly pulled the chair away from him. After many trips to the ER for close friends, Sharky had mastered the wrist movements needed to steer a wheelchair. Those same trips had also taught Itachi the finer points of a fireman’s carry.
His brother still hadn’t moved, though the signs of worry were now buried under a thick layer of annoyance. Could you glare at someone and yet channel mother hen vibes at the same time? Because Sasuke was doing it. “Alright,” Itachi relented, sighing. “Help me move the two feet.”
At his right elbow, Mother said firmly, “Be nice Itachi. He’s being a brother.”
“Aaah! A shining example of brotherly LOVE! How beautiful! How youthful and—Ommmf!”
Behind Sasuke, whose right eye was twitching, Naruto had shoved a toy bear into Lee’s face. “Yeah yeah.”
“Hey Lee?’ Kisame couldn’t quite keep his voice innocent, but Itachi gave him points for trying. “Take the chair back?”
The kid with the bowl cut came to attention, complete with salute and cradled teddy bear in his free hand. “Yosh! I will do as you request Kisame-kun!”
Itachi could almost feel his old friend twitch at the suffix. A moment later, he let out a chuckle. Sasuke’s eyes had crinkled at the edges as the youngest Uchiha tried not to laugh out loud at Kisame who was probably making some rather interesting expressions.
Father shook his head and headed towards the driver’s side as Mother let out a delighted giggle. “Come on kids. Lunch is waiting.”
Real food? Itachi’s head snapped up as even Sasuke dropped all semblance of annoyance. It was now Kisame’s turn to laugh.
“Er, can someone open the trunk?” Naruto was eyeing the chair as Lee trundled it back. “I’d like to put this stuff down.”
There was a clunking sound as the trunk unlatched and popped open.
“Thanks! Uh… I’ll catch up with you later, Itachi. Lee still has the teddy.” Naruto dumped the gifts into the storage compartment, slammed down the lid, and sprinted to catch up to his friend. “Lee! Chair! Er, I mean bear! Wait!”
Prompt #8: Tortoise and the Hare