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High Standards

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It starts young. Sasuke is used to seeing his family do all sorts of impressive things. His father is chief of police and head of the clan; his brother is an anbu captain, regardless of if he's supposed to know that or not. He's seen pictures of his mother from the war- she lead an entire faction, and won a lot of awards doing it.

He's used to these things, and it sets a high standard to live up to, to say the least. Too high, he thinks sometimes, but he never says as much- just throws himself into training and struggles to keep ahead of the curve.

He stays late after class one day, because it's easier to practice on school grounds where only civilians train because everyone else has a clan ground with better equipment to train with, than in front of his family, and he runs himself ragid. His throat is scorched from breathing fire and his hands are cramping painfully from running through the academy jutsus. His limbs shake and his hair is slick with sweat, and he feels a burning sensation in his gut that likely means he'll vomit if he doesn't stop soon.

he doesn't stop, but before he can vomit he trips instead, small limbs giving out from exhaustion and sending him sprawling. It's the least of his injuries of the day, but the most embarrassing- and to his mortification, there's a witness. He hears her gasp, from a tree, and as she scrambles down and runs over he feels his cheeks turn bright red.

She's been up there the whole time but he'd forgotten about it- that's her tree, after all. He doesn't know her name, just that she always hides in the back of the classroom and stays late after class in that tree to avoid her bullies on the way home. He's seen what happens when she doesn't wait in that tree, where she takes her lunches too, and he doesn't blame her for the trick. He'd do it too. He still isn't sure why the girls are so nice to him and so mean to her- is there something wrong with her? Something she did? Or is it a simple twist of chance that he was lucky to miss? That last concern is why he doesn't risk say anything about it, as guilty as it makes him feel.

But still, the girl has run up to him, with the terrible form of a civilian, and she asks him nervously, "Are you alright?"

"I'm fine." He says, refusing to meet her eyes, but as he stands up and shrugs off her attempts to help him, his battered knees are revealed. One will definitely bruise in the next few hours, but the other is scraped up, and her green eyes go wide- impressive, considering they already seem too large for her face.

"Oh no!" She tells him. "Let me help with that, please?"

He wants to say no, but he can't. Firstly because he's never had somebody say please before, either doing things without asking or making it a demand- and secondly because she's already running back to the tree, and her running form might be terrible but she scurries up into the branches twice as fast as any of the other kids and is back down in a matter of seconds with a bottle of water and a little box.

She kneels down and carefully pours the water over his scrapes, washing away the small amount of blood quickly, and then pats around the injury to dry it before sticking on a bandaid that she pulls out of the box. It's too small to cover the whole cut, and it's an awful shade of green with little frogs patterned on it, the exact sort of thing he'd rather be caught dead than associated with, and then she smooths it on very carefully and presses a quick kiss to the outside of it.

"there!" She tells him, smiling up before rising from her position. He's a dazzled by it, having never seen the girl smile before, certainly not something so wide and sincere and pretty, and distantly notes that she's slightly taller than him now that she's got a more confident posture. "You'll get all better real soon!"

She's gone before he can thank her- if he'd have ever managed it, considering Uchiha are never supposed to say thank you in case it means you're acknowledging a debt to a person- or learn her name, but he walks home slowly as opposed to continuing his training like he normally would. It's an odd feeling, and he takes his time putting a name to it, but eventually he has to settle on something akin to being impressed.

Which is funny, because he's grown up surrounded by the most impressive people in the village, hasn't he? But he's never been particularly in awe of their actions. It just seemed like the sort of things they did. It's who Uchiha are: warriors, leaders, talented assassins. Uchiha are superiors and superior for it. It didn't seem like something worthy of praise because it was just his family meeting expectations. But this girl- well. She doesn't have any expectations for her, as far as he can tell, not even from the other girls in class. But she still made him feel better with just a few seconds of effort and an ugly, lilypad bandaid.

I wonder... He thought, as he finally reached the clan compound, I wonder just how much better I could do?

He has chakra. Family backing. Resources. He's an Uchiha. They succeed at whatever they do, after all. None of them have ever tried to be healers, before, but there's nothing wrong with being the first.

and, he considers, there's a reason she was carrying around bandaids. the girl doesn't always make it to the tree in time. She doesn't always avoid the others. Maybe if he was more like his brother, he would interfere before something goes wrong, but- well. That might be the heroic thing to do, but Uchiha aren't heroes. They're exemplary at what they do, but they're self serving first.

Maybe he can return the favor, and she'll feel just as warm safe cared for as he does. Uchiha don't like debts. Or, really, they don't like to be the one owing it- and he's not sure why, but the idea of the girl owing him, or even idolizing him- it's how others regard his family, isn't it? As unimpressive as he finds them, that doesn't hold true for most people. Would it be so wrong for him to want to be one person's hero? Even if he has to nudge things along to make it so?

He'll be the very best medic. Uchiha don't do things halfway, after all. And he'll take the girl along with him, and he'll keep her safe, and she'll think he's impressive just like he's always wanted someone to think, instead of just taking for granted what he does, and- Oh. He still needs to learn her name.