It All Started With A Kid Running Around In The Streets
Summary: It’s just a normal day in Konoha with the sun shinning, the birds singing, Naruto eating his ramen on a random rooftop and Konoha’s finest being tied up all around the village by a kid. Wait, what!?
It was a fine day in Konoha. The day was a warm and sunny one while the villagers went about their business. The kids exploited days like these to spend as much time playing as they possibly could while shinobi used them for more training. The housewives would gather in the streets or on the market to gossip while their husbands either work or laze around like the slobs some of them can be. Konoha’s Hokage, Senju Tsunade, uses days like these to freely drink sake in open bars or get something sweet to eat, as most of her ninja are on missions and she doesn’t have to check in any additional paperwork.
Rookie Nine and Team Gai took this fine day as a chance to train together, something that they have rarely ever had the chance to do with how different their schedules are. But they all, miraculously, have the morning off with no other obligations and so they decided to train. It would be the first time the eight of the Rookie Nine and Team Gai are together since Naruto’s return to Konoha from his two and a half years of training with Jiraiya. They had all grown, matured and gotten stronger in this period of time, some even becoming jonin while only Naruto remained a genin amongst his chuunin friends. Yet none of them doubted that, if anyone has gotten stronger, then it’s Naruto.
But they all had only the morning free, so after three hours of intense training, the group dispersed and the training grounds became empty. Sakura went to help at the hospital, Shikamaru, Ino and Chouji had a strange family thing where their fathers talk about the “good old days”, Hinata had to train with Hinabi while Neji will be training with his uncle. Lee was going on a short trip with Gai-sensei and Sai had just disappeared off towards the library, mumbling about a book on reading faked smiles. Kiba and Akamaru just ran off into the woods and Shino had managed to creep Naruto out of staying any longer while Tenten trailed Neji to watch him train.
By noon, no one was anywhere to be seen on the training grounds due to the intense heat, not even on the ones in the woods. Everyone had left to hide in some shade or get something to eat.
Which is why no one was there to see it happen.
The first sign that something strange was going on was when the wind had unnaturally picked up, rustling even the thickest branches on the tallest trees. Even stranger was that it seemed to follow a pattern, concentrating in the middle of a small training ground completely abandoned almost three years ago. Then a strange sort of energy filled the air, seemingly rising out of the ground and the trees. It proved to be right when markings started appearing on said trees while the ground set ablaze with black fire as the markings for a summoning burned into the ground. A strange glow emitted from the characters, illuminating the shaded clearing up until the light was blinding. And when it all died down, in the center of it was just one person.
It was a boy, around eight, with pale, flawless skin, ash colored hair and eyes blacker than space just standing there in dark casual clothes consisted of a black shirt with the Uchiha clan symbol, a representation of a red and white paper fan, on the back, bandages around his ankles, and black sandals. He also had bandages wrapped around his wrists and forearms but he wasn’t injured. His hair was tied in a loose ponytail, reaching a little bellow his shoulder blades while two thick bangs framed his handsome face. The boy looked around with a frown marring his features, hand tightening its grip on the sword he held while the other trailed off towards his weapons pouch. This wasn’t where he was just a second ago and it confused and unnerved him. He had been waiting for his friend so they could train together. His ankle had finally fully healed after his last mission when he had sprained it while carrying some fat ten year old girl all the way from her family’s mansion to her best friend’s mansion while Kiri ninja chased them, after all. Why she couldn’t find a friend in Konoha instead in Kirigakure, he will never understand.
But there was no sing that anyone has been here for years. The boy noticed that the grass was almost reaching his knees and that some of the targets had fallen out of their trees. The one hidden behind the big rock was stabbed harshly multiple times with a knife, a kunai, judging from the shape of the more clear stabs. There were also marks of missed hits, places where he knew he would never make the marks. He had never missed before. Perhaps he had been sick sometime or someone else had come here ... But this was his family’s grounds. No one else but a member of his clan was allowed to come here. So who could it have been?
‘I need to tell Chichiue, before this becomes a problem,’ the child thought as he sheathed his sword. He took one last look around before setting off in the direction of his clan’s compound. However, he froze long before he could reach it. He just stood there, shocked and speechless, at what he thought to be Konoha. It was ... wrong. No. It wasn’t wrong, it was different. The streets were different. The buildings were different. The people were dressed similarly but still too different for this big of a change to occur in just a few hours.
The boy moved down the nearest wide street before he could think about it. He was walking calmly so he wouldn’t draw unwanted attention. His black eyes moved around discretely as he searched for more differences. With each one he found - and he found a lot! - his heart grew heavier and heavier. Some of the buildings he was so used to using as navigation points ... they were either gone or redecorated almost to the point that he couldn’t recognize them. The streets he knew once lead somewhere were now dead ends and previous dead ends now lead to bizarre shops or curious looking businesses that he didn’t want to go near. The people he saw that he thought he knew looked ... different. Older. ′So much older than when I saw them this morning.′ Less cats strayed the streets, a bad sign. Those annoying, hissing furballs have always been around Konoha. They always delivered this or that for the Uchiha Clan. Only a few ordinary strays passed by, pawing at the boy’s heels like they always tended to do. The raven bent down and stroked an old cat’s head. He recognized this one. It had sired that annoying kitten, Tora-kun. Why would he be this old and out in the streets!? The cat meowed and rubbed up against the gentle hand it had missed so and when the boy heard a younger sounding cat hissing at his furry friend, black eyes widened as they saw through the small space between the buildings up ahead.
No way! The boy absently shooed away the young male contender as he gave the old cat the few treats he always had on him before taking off up to the roofs. He was more exposed like this, yes, but he had a better view of what was up ahead. He wasn’t even thinking as he stared up at the mountain where he could clearly see the four faces of the four Hokage that had protected this village since its foundations. Only there were quite a few key differences. The Sandaime’s face had a big crack - like a scar, almost - across it’s nose while the Yondaime’s no longer looked as sharp and as fresh of a work as it had just this morning when he had looked up at the men he wished he could know all about. The monument itself looked a bit more worn out, as if a lot more rain and snow and wind had taken its toil on it. The shelter entrance near the heads looked newer. A whole different design from what he was used to.
But the biggest change was the fifth face proudly displayed by the Yondaime’s. The Godaime Hokage. He could easily discern the features. Senju Tsunade-hime, one of the Legendary Sannin, a healer of unmatched talents in medical jutsus. She was the Godaime.
’This isn’t right! It can’t be! There were four just this morning and now ... Now ... no.′ The black haired boy shook his head and even rubbed his eyes. The fifth face was still there, as were the different and new buildings he had never seen before, as were the new clothing style, as were the new streets. ‘I can’t be here ... That’s impossible ... or is it? Shinobi already bend nature as they see fit with their jutsus... But could one jutsu really ...?’ The boy shook his head again with a scowl. He was being ridiculous. Some genius he was if he actually thought that he was in the future. ‘But what if I am? What should I do?’ He thought hard upon it before reaching a decision. He didn’t hesitate as he moved towards the Hokage Tower not too far away from where he had met the old cat. A look up at the sky suggested it was noon, a time someone would definitely be in the small lunch room reserved for maybe a handful of people. The boy decided to go straight there, so as not to cause a commotion if he really was in the future. If he wasn’t, he resolved he will need more sleep or else he was going to break under the pressure.
But he just couldn’t go to sleep. Every time he closes his eyes, he can see Tenma, Shinko and Minazuki. Tenma, dead and the rest of his blood oozing out of him. Shinko, terrified and sobbing, claiming she can’t do this anymore. Minazuki, scolding him, the youngest of the team and the one who had ended up driving the masked man away, for being cowardly while he had remained on the side this whole time. Minazuki quit being his sensei and instead became a bully. He got two new teammates, but he didn’t feel comfortable around them. They were replacements and he hated it. His dreams kept being plagued by the face of the first friend he ever had that he had failed. The first time he failed and it was his friend.
He never forgave himself. All the time he could not sleep, he spent training. That’s how Shisui found him and insisted on helping refine his skills. He vowed to become stronger, to be a better shinobi, so no one will ever die under his watch again. If that masked man ever dares come near him again ... blood red eyes unconsciously glared through the window he just arrived it, the intention having been to glare at himself ... and the raven froze. His eyes saw it, the movements. He had never meant to eavesdrop but here he was, reading the lips of Shimura Danzo and those other two Advisors that always gave everyone the creeps. There were a few ANBU in the room - ‘ROOT,’ he silently corrected himself - yet no one had seen him. He knew he should have announced his presence - maybe Danzo, who had always seemed to have an interest in him, could help explain what was going on? - but the words his eyes kept reading off of their lips left him frozen.
“If we can just send one of your ROOT agents as one of Tsunade’s guards, he could kill her and we could blame her untimely death on the poor sod you choose.” The old woman was saying casually, as if she were talking about the weather and not a coup against and execution of the current Hokage.
“He’d shoulder the blame and no doubt be executed on sight, but Konoha will finally be in your more than capable hands.” The other Advisor said and the boy felt his teeth gritting together. To kill the current Hokage just because these three lusted after power ... unacceptable! “Tobirama was a fool to choose Sarutobi over you. You even managed to rid Konoha of the accursed Uchiha without losing a single soldier. Hashirama and Tobirama sent out thousands to fight those wars.”
The boy outside of the window froze all over again, feeling ice crawling up his veins. The Uchiha ... were gone? ‘No! That’s not possible! Chichiue wouldn’t have allowed it! He wouldn’t!’
“I lost a great asset that day.” Danzo finally spoke and although he was only aware of what was being said because of his eyes reading the others’ lips, the child could imagine the grave tone of voice he was using.
“He wouldn’t have been an easy one to control, anyway. Pity you could never kill him.” The male Advisor said as he adjusted his robes. “That one is a deadly one. A danger.”
“You should hit him where it hurts the most.” The woman countered, sipping on the tea the boy only now noticed was served to the three elders. One glance at the ROOT told the boy that one was asleep standing, one was close to joining him and another two - a man and a woman - were too busy flirting to even notice his presence. He suspected that won’t be the case for much longer. He moved to leave - he was pretty sure he has heard enough - but the old coot’s next sentence stilled him even faster than the knowledge that his clan was whipped out. “You should send out another assassin to kill Uchiha Sasuke. That ought to teach that insolent brat to not obey orders.”
A burning rage overshadowed the ponytail boy’s thinking for a moment. Nothing but that anger soared through him. Nothing. Only that anger. And then came protectiveness. The surges of it were happily switching with the anger, like tides. How dare she?! How DARE she!? He had to catch himself at the last moment not to let his anger stir his chakra. He’d be found out that way for sure. But it was slipping his control. Sasuke ... Sasuke was alive and away from these people ... and they were threatening him! ’No one, no ONE, touches my otouto!′
“I can’t. I made a deal. If he kills his clan, I will not touch a single hair on the little brat’s head.” Danzo lamented. “If I go back on my word, Uchiha Itachi would come for me surely. And nothing would stand in his way from killing me.”
The boy stiffened, his lips thinning and his eyes widening. ‘W-what?’
“Ah, yes. You used this plan before. You got Uchiha Itachi to kill off his entire clan after you’ve been provoking them for eight years. You nearly caused a war.” The woman scolded. The boy felt like a bucket of ice cold water was being poured down his spine the more he listened - er read this conversation. “But it worked. If only you hadn’t have given that brat to him. He would have been left alone to fend for himself and Orochimaru wouldn’t have a new body on hand.”
“If he gets his hands on Sasuke’s Sharingan, he might rob you of Itachi’s eyes, as well.”
“Those eyes will be finally mine.” Danzo insisted to his two companions, holding up a scroll and beckoning closer one of the ROOT ANBU in the room. “This is an S-rank secret. This mission is to be fulfilled by you know who. No other eyes see this. Be discrete. Do not lose it. It can easily be traced back to us as the ones who ordered the hit on the Hokage-”
He never finished his sentence, as a corded senbon suddenly broke through the glass and stabbed the scroll, almost through the old man’s hand, too. The man who was about to accept the scroll let out a very unmanly scream (he must still be pretty new to ANBU and ROOT if he still reacted like that) as the weapon caught the scroll. The scroll was then quickly pulled by the cord and they all followed its path with their eyes to finally see the boy with his red eyes glaring at them for a moment before he was gone in a blur. Danzo stared in horror at the place the boy had been standing in before snapping back to his senses.
“What the fuck are you waiting for!? Sound the alarm! Get every ROOT and ANBU out on the streets and catch him! Bring to me that scroll and UCHIHA ITACHI! GO GO GET OUT AND DO IT GODDAMN IT!”
The ROOT in the room took off as fast as they could, letting out whistles and other such sounds to gather their colleges attention and pointing towards the boy with the long hair now identified, unmistakably, as the once in a generation genius from the Uchiha Clan. No one questioned how he was here or why they hadn’t managed to sense him staring at them the entire time. No one cared. They just wanted to finish their mission with as much blood of the boy spilled as they could manage without killing him. They had their orders and they will fulfill them.
Itachi knew this and he wasn’t going to lose the scroll. Not when it was going to save the new Hokage. So he took out his sword and put away the scroll, sealing his pouch off quickly so no one can open it during the fight he knew was coming and he prepared for the battle. Not a second later, the first ROOT attacked him, their blades clashing in the ancient song of metal on metal. The grown man was stronger but the eight year old was faster and with his newly developed Sharingan, Itachi could easily avoid the attacks he saw he couldn’t deflect due to their strength. The masked individual wasn’t letting up, so Itachi took out a string of wire and quickly attached it to a shuriken, flinging it to spin around the man and trap him, but the ROOT knew how to control his chakra exceptionally well and he tore through the wire by pumping his muscles with chakra and thus enhancing their strength, allowing him to free himself of the wire.
Just in time for him to fall into Itachi’s other trap, a quick sealing jutsu that would leave him immobile for an hour. The Uchiha had no time to celebrate this one victory as two kunoichi flung themselves at him from the back, kunai sinking into his back. That is, into the wood of the log he used as substitution. They looked up and were blinded by the sun, so Itachi took the chance and quickly formed hand seals, so quickly that not even the Sharingan would be able to catch them.
″Katon: Hosenka no Jutsu!″ The kunoichi took off running to avoid the fire balls that Itachi easily kept firing at them. A gust of wind blew the fire away as another freshly arrived ROOT intercepted the attack, only to have the bad luck of not realizing Itachi had sent shuriken within those fireballs. The throwing stars sank into his body but Itachi hadn’t been aiming to kill. These were still Konoha shinobi, so the ROOT man was hit in places meant to immobilize him. The kunoichi came running back, forcing Itachi to retreat into the streets instead of the rooftops. They probably thought that if he had less space to run around in, they could defeat him.
Itachi wasted no time to take out a few kunai and fir at them. They dodged them, of course, but they didn’t see the strings attached to them. The boy then took out shuriken and threw them all over the place, allowing them to land at the oddest places while he made it seem as though he was trying to hit the two kunoichi. When one was near his trap, he sent a direct kunai towards the other and then focused on the one nearing the trap while the second one dodged the weapon. She looked up when he partner screamed in surprise when Itachi cut a single wire and the other wires around her snapped and tied her up, immobilizing her completely. So distracted with her fellow ROOT she was that she didn’t notice Itachi jumping right above her, delivering a swift and powerful hit to her head.
Itachi was panting when her head hit the cold, hard ground and three more men arrived. Two were ANBU while he knew the third was ROOT. The two ANBU attacked first, heading straight for Itachi, who jumped back and formed quick hand seals. ″Katon: Gokakyo no Jutsu!″ The men dodged the giant fireball while the ROOT lunged for the Uhciha, meeting him in a close combat battle with their swords ringing out with each hit. He made to stab the Uchiha through the chest, only for Itachi to knee him in the gut when he least expected it. He grunted and made to punch the Uchiha back, but Itachi saw this coming and easily dodged, while forming hand seals again.
″Jibakujutsu: Iwa!″ The child declared as he wrote out a character in the air with his chakra. As soon as it settled on his opponent, the man stopped moving altogether. He could only breathe and probably blink under that mask. Itachi didn’t know. He had found this jutsu in some scroll in the library. While still holding the technique, Itachi sensed the two ANBU trying to attack him from behind so he didn’t hesitate to write out another character. ″En!″ A wall of fire sprung around him, almost killing his attackers had they not stopped in time to not hit it. Itachi turned around to face the direction he knew them to be and used his eyes to see their chakrs through the fire. He did one more character in the air before jumping out of the wall of fire. ″Katsu!″ The men started cursing as they started falling through the splitting earth, trying to escape it for fear of the jutsu ending up swallowing them.
Before either of them could get a safe footing, Itachi appeared behind them and hit the backs of their necks, knocking them out cold. He heard a gawk and jumped away from the two ANBU just in time to avoid a shuriken attached to a wire. Red eyes looked up only to fin, to his displeasure, the three ROOT ANBU that had attacked him and Shisui just a few weeks back, during their training exercise when they saw them chasing down that ANBU with the secret missive. If he had any doubts that he was in the future before, it was wiped out when the women he had fought spoke.
″Uchiha Itachi. Finally, after thirteen years, I can repay you for the humiliation you have put me through!″ She lunged at him with startling speed and Itachi didn’t even think as he formed the character that made wind blades fly t the homicidal woman. ″Zan!″ The kunoichi barely dodged, but dodged she did and she laid it on heavy on the eight year old that had shamed her in the past. Already winded by his previous fast paced fights, Itachi faltered a few times before getting a grip of himself and scowling at the kunoichi. Unconsciously, he activated his genjutsu and before he even realized what he was doing.
The kunoichi fell to the ground when the world started shifting around her. Or it did in her mind. Everything was blurry and she couldn’t find it in herself to stand up, too shaken up by how everything normal seemed to morph into grotesque images. Itachi watched as she writhed on the floor, seemingly trying to get the world back into focus. He was snapped out of it when the other two lunged for him. Getting sick of it all, Itachi pulled out one of his own scrolls and opened them, summoning a Fuma Shuriken.
Unbeknown to them, a certain blond Jinchuuriki had been watching their fight for a while now. Blue eyes were wide and the mouth stuffed with Ichiraku Ramen was hanging open in a very unflattering way as the teen watched the boy fighting men and women twice his age and trice his experience and rank with deadly ease. He grew even more curious and excited when the boy took out two Fuma Shuriken.
At first, Itachi used them as weapons to block the attacks the men were laying down on him, hard, before he jumped into the air in a blur, like older, more mature ninjas do, reappearing right under the sun and over the heads of his opponents. Before either of the two could react, Itachi did a small flip and in the air before launching the two giant throwing weapons at the smaller of the two fighters. The ROOT found himself pinned to a house with two Fuma Shuriken on either side of his armpits, so close to the loins there that even the slightest fidgeting would cut it and he might just die. Itachi used his scroll again to summon the same giant shuriken Naruto took up to using. He threw the thing at the other man, making him slide a bit back across the ground, but he had deflected it. Itachi appeared right under him and kicked up, knocking the man’s big sword out of his hands. He did a spin Naruto had only seen Sasuke manage before and sent the man to the ground before delivering a powerful, chakra enhanced punch to the man’s gut. The ROOT took a powerful swipe at the Uchiha, sending him flying back but the boy landed on his feet. The kunoichi had managed to shake off the genjutsu by now and she charged at the boy with her sword, only for him to cut a string by his feet and she found herself pinned to the ground by a cart he had just pulled by cutting that string.
Itachi looked back at the last ROOT attacker, only to find the big sword descending on him. Without much thought and very little effort, speedy hand signs finished and Itachi performed his technique. ″Suiton: Suigadan!″ Surprised by the attack the boy was attempting to perform, the ROOT didn’t have time to react to the actual attack as water from the nearby sewer system sprung out and hit him square on. It slammed him into a pole and he was knocked unconscious.
Itachi stood panting for a few moments before he heard the unmistakable sound of drawing swords. He looked up and saw another ten ANBU on one side and fifteen ROOT on the other side of the street, all waiting to attack him. Seeing no choice, Itachi quickly formed hand seals, facing neither side. ″Katon: Hosenka Tsumabeni!″ Fire balls he breathed suddenly flew in both directions, causing the black ops to scramble. Itachi took out one more Fuma Shuriken from his scroll and threw it in the direction opposite from which he had been running from. No one noticed the dozen or so shuriken and kunai that flew from it all along the street as they lunged for the boy.
The watching blond was now horrified as twenty five S-class killers descended on the lone boy that couldn’t have even been ten. The kid put up one hell of a fight but eventually, with so many attackers from all sides, someone found an opening and Uzumaki Naruto screamed out for the boy-
Only for the boy to pop like the Shadow Clone that it was. Realizing what had happened, both Naruto and the attackers ran in the direction the Fuma Shuriken had been thrown in just in time to see it turn back from the henge into the raven haired boy. Naruto was going by rooftops, wanting to reach the little ninja and offer him his help, since it would seem he was in some big shit, so he was spared the fate of the ANBU and ROOT as one of them accidentally stepped on one of the wires Itachi had left behind and it sprang the massive trap in the form of a giant net made of extra hard and durable ninja wire. The shinobi were stunned for a second before they all started trying to cut through with weapons and jutsus, but the wire held strong and they were left stuck.
Naruto chuckled at the sight before returning his gaze back at the boy, who was damn fast for a kid. Naruto picked up his speed, not wanting to lose the boy out of his sight. He’ll follow him and when the boy stops, he’ll offer his assistance. However, the boy had other plans and right before Naruto’s blue eyes, the little raven started dissolving into a mass of crows that then flew off in all directions, disappearing from Naruto’s sight.
The Jinchuuriki stopped on one chimney and started at where he had last seen the amazing boy. A grin split his face. ″Damn, that kid is good.″
″When Yamato and I arrived at the scene, it looked as though a war had been fought on the streets. The ground was split open, a good few ANBU were pinned to the walls of surrounding houses or to the ground with string and Fuma Shuriken. A few were found out cold, but not too severely injured. There traps all over the place. One man was being held within a seal that immobilized him for an entire hour. He’s fine and moving now. And there was a netting holding twenty five ANBU level shinobi high in the air in one of the streets. I had to use Raikiri to cu them free.″ The silver haired jonin reported to the blond, busty woman known as Senju Tsunade-hime, the Godaime Hokage of Konoha and one of the three Legendary Sannin.
The brunet man beside him picked up his cue to continue. ″Yet the property damage is minimal. No one was hurt, other than a few bruises and maybe a cut and a burn here and there. Nothing was stolen and nothing that is damaged can be labeled as un-salvageable. The ANBU say that it was a boy, although ROOT say it’s a grown man in a henge.″
″ROOT?″ The Hokage questioned and Yamato nodded.
″Yes, I recognized them. I think there is a lot more to all of this if Danzo has sent his ROOT agents to fight this person, whatever age or gender they might be.″
″Is there anyone who had seen this fight up close?″
″No, the person picked an empty street, as if to protect unsuspecting civilians.″ Kakashi said, for once not immersed in one of his books. ″No one even saw or heard the fighting, so we searched around and found a barrier that prevented people from going into that area. The ones we questions, which was everyone, seemed surprised that the barrier was placed there at all, so it wasn’t one of our shinobi who put it up.″
″We tried to identify the person by analyzing the chakra signature left in the barrier, but the signature is well hidden.″ Tsunade arched a blond eyebrow at the Wood user. ″Whoever has fought our elite is strong and skilled.″
″Obviously, if he ran away from over thirty ANBU.″ The Hokage said as she rested her elbows on her desk, connecting her hands and resting her chin on them as she thought. ″Was he injured?″
″They said they hadn’t landed a single good hit on him since the fight started. The most he would have is, apparently, maybe a bruise from where one ROOT managed to swipe him away.″ Yamato answered and Tsunade hummed. She was about to say something, when she saw a strange expression on Kakashi’s masked face.
″Kakashi? Is there something you would like to share?″
The Sharingan user looked up at his superior and sighed. ″It just occurred to me who this sounded like, but that would be impossible. The description said he was a lot shorter than I know him to be. Besides, they would know him if they saw him, so I don’t think it is him.″
Tsunade and Yamato were about to question him when the door to the Hokage’s office burst open and everyone’s favorite loudmouthed ninja came in, panting hard and sweating like a pig. ″Tsunade-baa-chan! You have got to introduce me to that kid!″
Said woman glared at her favorite gaki, not liking the nickname he kept using for her. ″Don’t call me that. And what are you talking about, brat? What kid?″
″The kid with kickass moves!″ The orange clad ninja said excitedly, not even noticing his two senseis there. He didn’t care at the moment. ″Man, I can’t believe a kid younger than me when I graduated could fight like that! He was like this,″ the blond demonstrated, causing the two jonin’s, the Hokage’s and her assistant’s eyes to widen as they realized there was one witness of the fight and he was their very own idiot. ″And then he did something like this and then he slammed that huge guy into a pole! And then he did this thing with wires and everyone was caught in this huge net and then he henged out of the Fuma Shuriken he had disguised himself as and then he just disappeared in a bunch of crows! It was so awesome! You gotta let me meet him! He kicked half of the ANUB’s asses!″
″Naruto, are you telling me you saw the fight that happened on the streets between ANBU, ROOT and an unknown ninja this afternoon?″ Naruto stopped in his excited retelling of the events and turned to look at Tsunade with confusion on his face.
″Well, yeah, I guess I did. I didn’t see the whole fight. I was eating ramen for lunch on some rooftop, hoping for a little alone time, when they stumbled into that square and just started fighting. I watched for a while and then the kid just ran off. I spent an hour looking all around for him, but nothing. Can’t find him. Not a trace of him anywhere.″ The Jinchuuriki shrugged, to show he didn’t know where the kid was.
″You said he ... disappeared in a bunch of ... crows?″ Kakashi carefully asked and Naruto nodded. ″Crows.″ The blond nodded again and Kakashi ran a hand over his face in a sudden tiredness that left the other occupants of the office a bit dumbfounded. ″Crows. It just had to be crows.″
″Kakashi-senpai?″ Yamato asked uncertainly, not getting what upset the older man. The other three were staring at them as though they were crazy. With how Kakashi was acting, they very well might really be thinking that.
″I know who it is, Tsunade-sama. It’s now without a doubt.″
The woman perked up at this, not understanding what crows had to do with anything but willing to listen and try to understand. ″Yes?″
The Hatake nodded. ″I just don’t understand the age thing.″ He turned towards his student. ″How old do you think he was?″
Naruto thought hard about that question, visualizing the boy again in his head and trying to estimate his age. He shrugged again as he gave his uncertain answer. ″I don’t know? Between seven and ten, I think. I can’t really give you an exact age.″
″A genin? Why would a genin be here?″ The masked man mumbled to himself but the others still heard him.
″Genin?! You can’t be serious?!″ Shizune all but shrieked, breaking Kakashi out of his thoughts and the silver haired man looked at her in confusion.
″Well, of course I am. If he is really younger than ten, then he isn’t a jonin or chuunin, but if he’s older than seven, he’s not in the Academy, either. He’s a genin.″
″How can a genin do that much damage to the ANBU!?″ The still too shocked to lower her voice Shizune yelled incredulously.
″You can’t mean ... it’s him?″ Yamato asked, realization finally dawning on him as to whom his senpai was talking about and his face took on an interesting pale coloring. ″But how would he be here in his genin years?″
″We bring back people to life and control enormous amounts of nature with just a few hand signs and a little chakra, Yamato. There must be a way, somewhere, somehow, to make a person time travel.″ The jonin reasoned and Yamato paled further.
″What are you talking about, dattebayo?″
″Naruto, what did this boy look like?″ Yamato turned to the blond and asked with that strange, scary face of his that freaked Naruto out quite a bit. How did he make the shadows appear when it was so bright outside and in the office?
″Um, pale. Not deathly pale, or Orochimaru and Sai pale, but maybe Kakashi-sensei and the teme pale.″ Yamato sweat dropped while Kakashi just rolled his eyes. ″Um, black hair. Not quite like Kurenai-sensei’s or Sai’s or Sasuke’s, but black like a crows feathers!″ Kakashi stiffened at this while Tsunade seemed to have realized something and was rummaging through her files on ninjas and missing ninjas until she found a black Bingo Book. ″He was wearing a black shirt, bandages around his ankles, and black sandals, tan pants with a weapons pouch strapped to his back. And he had a blue hitai-ate.″
″I see why you are so uncomfortable. The boy Naruto just described fits this boy.″ Tsunade said, opening a the Bingo Book and showing off the picture of the boy to Naruto. ″Is this him?″
″Then can someone tell me why is there a kid Uchiha Itachi running around my village unsupervised?!″ Tsunade screamed at the three males, all three of them getting thrown into the opposite wall with the force of the Rasengan.
″And that’s the situation.″ Tsunade finished her explanation a few hours later to the Konoha Eleven, Sai, Yamato and their senseis. She looked them all over to see if they understood just how grave of a situation this was. That kid was an ANBU ranked fighter way before he joined the ranks of the elite. They needed to realize this before they go after him, or else he will just slip away from them again, as if they had sent out Academy kids to look for him.
″So let me get this straight,″ Hyuuga Neji, a tall, long haired brunet with the white eyes, the Byakugan, of the Hyuuga Clan, spoke up. ″You are sending all of us,″ he gestured to the gathered shinobi with a sceptically brow arched. ″To go after a seven to ten year old kid,″ the way he said the word showed he wasn’t impressed. ″Because our ANBU had been incompetent enough to catch him? Don;t you think this is an overkill?″
″That kid, is Uchiha Itachi, possibly the most talented shinobi this world has spat out and ever will spit out again.″ Tsunade said as she leaned against her desk. ″He has graduated from the Academy at the age of seven after only one year studying. He could use the Kage Bunshin to their fullest potential back then. He could perform several jonin level jutsus before he even left that place. His records say that he gained the Sharingan when he was eight, so watch out for that, because he mastered it not long after he got it. He became a chuunin at ten and a few months later, a jonin. At eleven, he was recommended for the ANBU and worked under Kakashi, who never found a fault to his work,″ said man nodded when he was suddenly the center of attention. ″At thirteen, he became an ANBU captain and not long after that, he massacred a clan full of Sharingan using geniuses. Never ones quite as smart or as talented as him, but damn strong fighters. We’re guessing he got his Mangekyo at that age, too, but that’s not something he freely talked about. He joined Akatsuki at thirteen, too, so I would suggest some caution and a lot more respect for such a fighter, despite him being a criminal. Underestimate him and you might end up dead in a second.″
″You just said he’s seven to eight years old. He doesn’t have the Mangekyo Sharingan yet.″
″He doesn’t need the Sharingan to fuck up your mind,″ Naruto grumbled and Gai nodded in agreement, recalling that one time he had managed to annoy the weasel enough for the boy to trap him in a scary genjutsu. Eve though his chakra system was so closed off that he couldn’t perform any ninjutsu, let alone genjutsu, Itachi had managed to genjutsu him.
″Besides, Itachi is a very strong ninja.″ Yamato intervened before a possible argument could break out. ″Even if we were to somehow seal off all of his chakra, it would b useless and temporary at best. He has the best recorded chakra control ever. And he is great with shurikenjutsu and bukijutsu and I don’t even think there’s anyone who can beat him in speed. Not now, anyway.″ They all realized he was thinking of the Konoha’s Yellow Flash as the possible candidate to defeat Itachi and bowed their heads in respect of the dead hero.
″However, if I recall correctly, he has rather low chakra reserves.″ Asuma interrupted, puffing a small cloud of smoke from his cigar. ″And he doesn’t have the greatest stamina. If we can tire him out, maybe we can catch him.″
″It″ll be useless.″ Kakashi said as he looked out of the window. ″For more reasons than one. One, Itachi’s great chakra control. It allows him to channel minimal amounts of chakra into the greatest of jutsus. With a little effort, he does strong jutsus on the same level as someone with his partner’s, Kisame’s, chakra reserves. Two, he can keep his Sharingan active even when he’s dead on his feet with tiredness. If he uses a genjustsu with his Sharingan, even if it isn’t Tsukuyomi, we will lose precious time in trying to dispel it. Three, he’s great with traps. I think even Shikamaru would have difficulties predicting what and how he will set up. I’ll stop at three: his crows. Those things are more loyal than a dog is. Itachi told me he was only alive thanks to this one crow that never leaves his side. I wouldn’t want to test that loyalty by having those accursed birds digging out eyes out of our cold, dead bodies.″
″There must be something we can do!″ Lee insisted energetically. ″This is Sasuke-kun’s brother! Maybe they have the same weakness!″
″If you call a love for dango a weakness, then yes, I guess Itachi does have one.″ Yamato said sarcastically. ″Look, I asked around. The kid could fight ANBU at the age of eight. I saw him fighting opponents three times his age and strength and come out on top without getting a single scratch on his body. We need a good plan for fighting him.″
″We’ll need more than a plan.″ Kakashi said again. ″Because we don’t know the real extent of his skills.″
″That’s right.″ Kurenai realized. ″That time, when we were fighting him and Hoshigaki Kisame, you said he wasn’t even showing his real strength.″
″Does this actually mean we don’t know anything about Uchiha Itachi?″ Sai asked, both curious and annoyed. Danzo had insisted that he, as a part of Team 7, must search for the older, kid Uhciha. He was supposed to find the kid and take him back to Danzo-sama. But how was he supposed to do that if he didn’t even know where the kid was or what he could do?!
″Unfortunately.″ Kakashi confirmed with a nod and a tight voice. ″Itachi was always humble. He never showed his true potential to anyone but this one man, Uchiha Shisui. They trained together. He already stood out like a sore thumb wherever he went, so he hid his true potential to blend in a little. I could see it with how easily he could take some of our targets out with little no no jutsu use. I have no idea what his ninjutsu limits are. Today, he used some jutsu we still can’t identify. Knowing Itachi, he learned it and kept it a secret. His clan was obsessed with everything he can do. He must have grown sick of it all and just stopped telling them about it all. He stopped showing it, too. Itachi is a mystery of power we must solve before we can even begin thinking of searching for him and trying to bring him in.″
″Maybe we should then focus on why ROOT went after him.″ Shikamaru pointed out with a yawn. ″They looked pretty determined to get him before our guys did.″
″That accursed Danzo is up to something again.″ Tsunade mumbled to herself as she overlooked Itachi’s file again. ″It says here that, up until the massacre, Itachi was exceptionally loyal to Konoha. Maybe he overheard something that Danzo shouldn’t have been saying and now Danzo wants to get rid of the evidence by getting rid of him?″
″Danzo wouldn’t risk it,″ Kakashi said confidently. ″Danzo is obsessed with the Sharingan. With Sasuke destined as Orochimaru’s next body, and as such under great protection and secrecy, Danzo can’t get to him. So he must have at one point desired Itachi’s eyes. Only problem was that Itachi was even better hidden than Sasuke. Now came the opportunity for him to take Itachi’s eyes. And even if he doesn’t try to do so with this young Itachi, he won’t let anyone kill him, as it would kill the Itachi whose eyes he wants.″
″This is getting way too messed up for my tastes.″ Ino complained. Shikamaru and Neji nodded in agreement. ″I mean, we’re supposed to go after an opponent we know virtually nothing about except that he’s between seven and ten years old, has Sharingan and some mad skills we don’t even know the extent of. How are we supposed to bring him in?″
″I actually recommend that we don’t fight him.″ Everyone looked in surprise at Naruto. He stared at them with confusion when he saw their shock. ″What? If it is true that he had heard something that Danzo didn’t want him to, then he may be running from us because he thinks we’re working for him. If we tell him we’re working only for the Hokage, he might be more willing to come along.″
″That’s actually not a bad idea,″ Tenten mused as she bit into her finger. ″I mean, if he’s really loyal to Konoha at this age, he’d have to deliver any incriminating information about Danzo to Hokage-sama sooner rather than later, right?″
″W-way to go, N-Naruto-kun!″ Hinata shyly complimented bu the blond hadn’t heard her.
″Then we should go out there and ask him to come nicely! I’m sure he’ll come when he realizes we’re on his side, dattebayo.″
″Maybe, but what if he doesn’t and attacks us?″ Neji pointed out and the blond deflated slightly, as that had not occurred to him.
″If that happens, then fight.″ Yamato stated seriously. ″We never knew the extent of his skills and he isn’t holding back now. I suggest you don’t either, but don’t overly injure him or kill him. We need to find out what Danzo is up to.″
″Well, you have your orders. Move it!″ The ninja nodded at the Hokage’s order and all filed out of the room, quick to leave for their mission. Tsunae at back in her chair and started massaging her head. She wanted to get drunk and try to forget all the troubles a single kid was causing her but she knew that she had to be alert for when Itachi comes, either because he wanted to or because someone brought him in. He had information that might finally put Danzo out of her hair once and for all.
But damn! This was not something she was expecting when she became the Hokage three years ago.
″This is stupid!″ Kiba complained to his teammates, which consisted of Hinata, Akamaru, Shino, Lee, Tenten and Neji. It had been Kakashi’s idea that there will be bigger and smaller group to look for the Uchiha. They were one of the bigger groups, with the second bigger group being all the other jonin, meaning Kakashi, Yamato, Gai, Kurenai and Asuma, while the smaller units were Sakura, Naruto and Sai and Ino, Chouji and Shikamaru. They were the biggest group because they were sent off in the direction Itachi had escaped in the last time Naruto had seen the kid. It reasoned out that, if they were the most likely to run into him, then they should be the most prepared to fight to kid. Kiba still thought it was more than overkill. ″I mean, six of us and Akamaru against a kid younger than ten? Seriously? We’re not incompetent!″
″You heard how they talked about him, Kiba. Why? Because he’s a genius.″ Shino replied as his bugs searched around and reported no traps or any signs of their target. ″Just look at this. We’ve been searching for an hour and have yet to find a single trace of him. We’the best tracking team in Konoha.″
″He is a a strong and youthful opponent!″ Lee declared with fire burning in his eyes. ″I cannot wait to fight him and bring him back after a glorious battle! And then Sakura-san will see how great I am for bringing down such an opponent.″ Now the whole teen was on fire in his excitement. ″Yosh!″ And with that, Lee ran on ahead, startling Kiba as he almost knocked him down and having Akamaru barking after him.
″Great, now we have to find Lee, too! Lee! Come back!″ Tenten yelled when they suddenly heard the familiar yell of ″Konoha Senpuu!″ and a crash that was probably Lee hitting something that wasn’t his target. The group all shared a look before sprinting after their friend as more and more sounds of battle reached their ears the closer they got. ″I can’t believe he actually found him!″
″But how did we miss him?″ Kiba asked as he rode on Akamaru’s back to go faster and help Lee. ″Hinata and Neji at least should have seen his chakra signature!″
″I do see something up ahead, but the chakra must be suppressed, because he looks like an ordinary person and not a ninja- scratch that, he just used a jutsu!″ Neji said and they increased their speed, soon arriving at a small clearing with a river nearby. The river bed and river sides were covered in rocks and pebbles and a few boulders here and there, but the rest of the terrain was covered in trees from all but one sides. That last side was a cliff. Unbeknown to them, this was where Shisui and Itachi first fought together against Danzo’s ROOT members. This was also the place Shisui had decided to die at, having jumped off of that very cliff. But not even the eight year old currently fighting Lee knew that.
Kiba couldn’t believe his eyes as he saw the kid, so much smaller than Lee but just as skilled in taijutu and almost just as fast in his attacks. No, on closer inspection, the boy seemed to be outdoing the green clad teen with an ease that freaked him out. Young he may be, but it would seem they weren’t kidding when they said this guy was an unmatched genius. Itachi could easily send chakra into his muscles to increase the speed of his attacks or the force behind them, as was demonstrated when he suddenly disappeared from in front of Lee and reappeared behind him, kicking the teen in the left shoulder and sending him flying into the river that was on their right.
″Lee!″ Tenten cried in worry before taking out her scrolls and summoning her weapons. ″Sōgu: Tensasai!″ Tenten tosses her large scroll into the air above her opponent, then summons dozens of different weapons from it to rain down and impale anything in the immediate vicinity. The weapons move so fast that they appear as white streaks, and due to the fact that the attack covers a large area, it makes this technique quite difficult to evade. Yet Itachi just started darting around, snatching a weapon here and there and throwing it up at the scroll. Before a minute passed, the scroll fell limply into the water, all of the seals keeping the weapons inside the scroll destroyed with the weapons Itachi sent flying back, right through the heart of the seals. Not one to be so easily defeated, Tenten reached for a different scrolls. ″Bakuryūgeki″
Tenten opens one of her scrolls and releases a large flaming dragon that explodes upon contact. Itachi watches it for a second before he grabs a scroll of his own and places it down on he round, quickly making hand seals at a speed that almost left Neji and Hinata dizzy. ″Fūnyū no Jutsu!″ Suddenly, a cloud of gray smoke rose from the scroll and stopped th fire dragon that would have killed Itachi had it touched him. Instead, the smoke captured the flame and started dragging it into the scroll. Not a moment later, a seal appeared on the scroll and the characters showing the dragon was sealed glowed. It was complete. Itachi then looked up at his opponents and started making another set of hand seals.
″Katon: Karyūdan!″ A stream of fire was then breathed out of the eight year old’s lips and the chuunin and one jonin scattered not to be burned alive. Neji ran at the Uchiha, ready to face the smaller genius. Itachi followed him with his eyes and twitched when he noticed the stance the older, long haired male was using.
″Hakke Kūshō!″ Neji yelled, thrusting his palm towards the Uchiha. His hand released a ″vacuum shell″ that would have hit the boy’s vital point had Itachi not dropped to his knees with another series of hand seals.
″Doton: Doryuheki!″ A huge wall of mud rose from seemingly out nowhere, strengthened by the rocks that were over it, stopping the attack headed for the Uchiha in its tracks. However, Kiba and Akamaru chose that moment to fly overhead with the Dynamic Marking, the acidic urine falling on the genius. However, much to their displeasure, that Itachi turned out to be nothing more than a Mizu Bunshin. But Hinata was in front of the real Uchiha Itachi, ready to attack him in a moment’s notice.
And she did, changing her stance. ″Mizu Hari!″ Dozens of needles started raining down on the Uchiha, but Itachi was just as ready.
″Suiton: Suijinheki!″ A wall of water rose from the river and protected Itachi from the barrage of attacks. The boy then jumped out from behind them and ran at Hinata with great speed, getting up close and personal, easily evading her Gentle Fist attacks as he tripped her up, sending her beneath the water. He then jumped out of the way as a swarm of insects made to capture him, bursting into a swarm of crows and relocating himself on top of the earth wall he had made before. He made a few hands signs. ″Kuchiyose no Jutsu: Karasu!″ Shino cursed as a flock of crows suddenly dived in towards his insets, the bugs retreating to their master and the crows pecking the Aburame all over. Itachi left his spot when Neji lunged for him from below, dissolving into his beloved crows again and disappearing from his sight. Before h could react, the blunt end of a kunai hit him right into his blind spot, making him stumble. Itachi reappeared behind him and hit the back of his neck, knocking the jonin out.
″Gatsuga!″ Itachi looked up just as Kiba and Akamaru made to attack him with their signature move. But as soon as they attacked him, he disappeared with a popping sound and a log was left in his place. Kiba and Akamaru were forced to stop in order to look around for the kid but the dog lover soon sound him when he saw Itachi’s foot going straight for the nose. Akamaru jumped at Itachi as his owner was sent flying but the Uchiha just jumped away. Akamaru, however, fell through a hole in the ground, a primitive and very simple but still rather effective trap set by the genin and he couldn’t get out because he didn’t have enough space to jump up.
Itachi landed on the stream and looked over to Tenten, who was charging at him with a mace and a bamboo stick. Itachi took out his sword and met her first attack with ease. Tenten, however, wasn’t gonna lose in a weapons battle and started attacking with a vengeance. Itachi held his own fairly well but he was starting to tire. It was seven to one after half of ROOT and ANBU this morning. He needed more rest than the amount he got. And he needed food. Then it occurred to him that these people were obviously ninja of a higher rank. They had food pills. Food pills that will help his tired body immensely. So Itachi span out of Tenten’s view, under her defenses but he didn’t strike. Instead, he reached into her weapons pouch and pulled out a small clothed bag out of it. Tenten took this opportunity to kick the boy in the stomach and send him flying across the water.
But the genius soon got back to his feet just as the rest of the still able to fight joined Tenten. Lee and Hinata were sopping wet, Shino looked like hell but he had managed to get rid of Itachi’s forever loyal crows and Kiba was bleeding heavily from the nose. Akamaru was still trapped and Neji was still out cold but they still had strength in numbers since it became obvious they couldn’t outdo the Uchiha. But Itachi was tiring and they had all seen it. The raven haired boy, however, quickly popped a pill into his mouth and a moment later, he felt a whole lot better, as though he had slept for eight hours, ate a feast and relaxed the whole day. The after taste was awful but he wasn’t one to complain, especially since it had just restored some of his chakra. ‘Time to even out the odds,’ he thought as he started making the hand seals he had seen only once. He was going to make Shisui proud. “Zanzo Bunshin!”
The chuunin watched in shock and awe as Itachi started using the Body Flicker move while after images stayed behind. The so called after images then attacked them and it wasn’t something to awe over but rather to panic about. They got so caught up fighting the clones that they never even realized when Itachi used his crows to teleport away without a trace. By the time the Zanzo Bunshin disappeared, they realized that they had been doped but they couldn’t do anything about it, as their target had disappeared without a trace.
“Damn, he really is as good as Kakashi-sensei had said.” Kiba muttered as they all looked around. He was pretty ashamed of himself. An eight year old genin had defeated him with the same ease Kakashi would but Kakashi had experience, training, talent and years on him as a former ANBU captain, the famous and infamous Sharingan no Kakashi. This kid was half his age and he had so easily overpowered them all, seven to one with a jonin in their midst.
“Are you surprised? Why? Because he is Sharingan no Itachi?” Shino asked as he looked at his fallen insects. Itachi’s crows had done a number on him and his fateful insects. A good third of them had been killed by the loyal birds. Itachi had used the greatest weakness of the Aburame Clan: insect eating animals. “He is a great tactition.”
“And a thief!” Tenten shrieked when she realized her food pills were gone. “He took my food pills!”
“I don’t think this is a mission in our rank anymore.” Hinata said sadly, fruitlessly looking around with her Byakugan active in the hopes of finding the Uchiha. But Itachi was long gone and they had failed to capture him.
“I am sorry, my friends. Perhaps if I had not ran ahead, we could have caught him off guard and we would have managed to capture him.” Lee said shamefully, hanging his head. He had fought Sasuke and would have won when he was thirteen and Sasuke was twelve. By the end of the Chuunin Exams, he was sure he could no longer present a challenge to the Uchiha. From what he heard from Sakura-san and Naruto-kun, he now stood no chance against him. Bud he had thought that, perhaps, fighting the boy who turns into the man Sasuke wants to kill will give him an advantage as he’d train like this. Itachi had ended him before he even got the chance to prepare for the Lotus.
“I doubt it.” Kiba said as he moved over to get Akamaru out while Hinata and Tenten checked on Neji. “Hey, guys? Help me get Akamaru out.”
“Mou! I can’t believe we’re waisting our valuable time like this!” Ino almost shouted as Team Ino-Shika-Chou sat down for a short break after two and a half hours of searching. Although, they hadn’t been just searching. They had covered the least ground so far but they had been busy putting up traps for Itachi on the way, as Shikamaru insisted they might not be in the area when the Uchiha goes by but a trap will capture him. Or at least alert them to his whereabouts. “Seriously! They didn’t need all of us looking for him! He’s a kid!”
“He’s also the guy who killed the entire Uchiha Clan - a clan renowned for their genius - in a single night, by himself, when he was thirteen.” Shikamaru lazily replied. “So troublesome. If it were up to me, I’d send out the entirety of Konoha’s ninja to search for him but he’d still somehow slip us by.”
″As if!″ The blond insisted. ″All we need is us, the great Ino-Shika-Chou! The three of us could easily take him down! Especially since we have you, Shikamaru. There’s no way he’s smarter than you.″
″I agree with that, too.″ Chouji pipped up with confidence and Shikamaru sighed. What a drag, they didn’t even realize that they have no idea just how smart Itachi really was. Shikamaru had read through his file. If he didn’t know it was pretty much impossible for perfection to exist, in any form, Shikamaru would have sworn that Itachi was it. The guy had the perfect scores, the perfect mission reports, had perfected all sorts of ninjutsu, genjutsu and was a master taijutsu user. The closest to a fault he came was that fact that he had rather low chakra reserves, but his chakra control, to counter that, was, of course, absolutely perfect. All things considered, Uchiha Itachi was probably the perfect shinobi and they had lost him to apparent madness. And no one realized just how much they had lost with his departure from the village and he wasn’t just talking about the Uchiha Clan that was slaughtered that very same night.
″That’s right! Nothing can stop this amazing trio! Not even an Uchiha like Sasuke-kun.″ Ino continued her rant and Shikamaru swore he would be getting a headache if she continued like this, but that’s when a flock of crows suddenly rushed past them. Remembering what Naruto had said about Itachi’s escape, the Nara genius hurriedly took out a kunai with an explosive tag attached to it and threw it at the flock, scattering the birds and then the explosion floored them. When the smoke cleared up, the three chuunin found themselves facing a child with long black hair and incredibly black eyes staring up at them with a little too much wisdom for a living human. They gaped at him for a moment before Ino recovered. ″The fuck!? He’s a boy and he has prettier hair than me!″
Uchiha Itachi sweat dropped at that but did’t grace it with a response and just turned around and started running in the direction the chuunin had come from. ″He’s trying to get away!″ Chouji yelled and gave chase, quickly followed by Ino and Shikamaru. Itachi looked at them over his shoulder and sped up, surprising the chuunin that he was so fast. After all, he was only a kid. ″Hey wait!″ Itachi, of course, didn’t and just continued going so Chouji took matters into his own hands. Literally. ″Bubun Baika no Jutsu!″ His hand suddenly got bigger and extended towards the retreating Uchiha, who looked over with shocked red eyes before they narrowed and Itachi turned around mid jump.
″Katon: Gokakyo no Jutsu!″ A fireball almost twice as big as the hand enveloped said hand and the Akamichi hissed as he drew back. His hand was signed but there were no serious burns. Itachi turned back around and sped up again, putting quite a bit distance between himself and the other three ninja. Just out of range for either Ino’s technique or for Shikamaru’s. He must have recognized them as the famous trio of clans that has been going on for generations. An Akamichi, a Yamanaka and a Nara. It was a team known far and wide to repeat with every generation. Itachi must have heard about it and was keeping a distance. Great, now they even lost the element of surprise.
Ino seemed to realize this, too, as she turned to their genius friend. ″He probably knows what to expect now. We need to get closer and distract him so you could catch him with your shadow and I can enter his mind.″
″Can the traps ahead help with that?″ Chouji asked, clutching his injured hand.
″Yeah, it should be enough. But we’ll have to be swift.″ Shikamaru warned. ″Remember, he’s not an ordinary kid. That jutsu was chuunin level and he is able to defeat more ANBU level opponents at once. We need to be careful.″
″Right. Well, I’ll spring the first trap.″ Ino put her hands together and activated a small explosive bag that held a cord on one of their traps. The explosion was minute but Itachi seemed to heart it and avoided the net that would have fallen on his head. However, that trap set off a chain reaction and Itachi found himself dodging trap after trap, all systematically placed in such a way that it was almost impossible to dodge one trap without falling into another. Itachi cursed in his head as he took out his sword and started cutting through some of the traps or using substitution to avoid others. If this kept up much longer, he will slip up and he won’t be able to escape before the chuunin caught up to him.
As if in answer to these thoughts, he didn’t see a specific type of weapon stabbed into the branch of a tree he had just stepped on. However, Shikamaru had seen and he quickly formed the right hand sign. ″Kagemane Shuriken no Jutsu!″ The chakra blade near Itachi’s foot activated and a shadow extended from it, catching the Uhciha in the jutsu. Itachi froze before his foot could push him off of the branch. He had gotten careless. He had been so focused on the other traps that he hadn’t seen this subtle one.
‘As expected from Konoha’s Nara Clan,’ the younger genius thought. But he wasn’t giving up. This jutsu lasts only so long and all he has to do is keep them busy for about five minutes.
″Yeah! We did it!″ Ino cheered and Chouji chuckled at their success. Shikamaru couldn’t do either, as he had to focus on containing the Uchiha. It might not look like much effort was put into it, but containing this kid took more effort than keeping anyone else immobile had. Kakashi-sensei and Yamato-taicho weren’t kidding when they said this kid had awesome chakra control. His records were a shame to the real thing in person. Shikamaru shuddered as he thought just how much better it must have gotten as this kid grew up. He actually doubted they would have caught the grown up Itachi in a trap like this. This boy was maybe eight. He didn’t have any real experience. A few years of the shinobi life wouldn’t have taught him that many tricks. Yet this kid had more in his arsenal than Shikamaru had to this day and he had been a chuunin for almost three years now.
″Not the time to celebrate yet, Ino. Chouji, take a hold of him to secure him. Ino, do your thing. Your jutsu should be able to last long enough for us to take him back to the village.″ The black haired shinobi said and the two immediately sobered up and nodded seriously. Chouji extended his good hand and wrapped his fingers around the kid carefully but securely and Ino formed her clan’s unique hand seal.
″Shintenshin no Jutsu.″ The blond said and a shiver went down the spines of her teammates as her mind flew at Itachi with a rushing sound that sounded like a short, cut off wolf howl. Chouji caught the girl as her mind entered the Uchiha, making the boy’s body go incredibly tense.
″Formation Ino-Shika-Chou is complete.″ Shikamaru noted to himself absentmindedly as he stared at the raven. Ino should have turned around by now and waved for them to get going. Or said something. She usually does it as soon as she takes control of someone and she was incredibly good at it by now, so why wasn’t she reacting? A scream pierced through the air as Ino sat up straight, clutching her head, blood running from the corner of her mouth and out of her nose and ear. ″Ino! Are you alright?! What’s going on!?″
″His mental defenses ... They’re so strong! Make it stop, make it stop!″ The kunoichi continued yelling, tears streaming down her face. Shikamaru and Chouji made the mistake of looking up at that moment and they saw a single Sharingan eye staring at them from over Itachi’s shoulder s the boy twisted his head as much as he could with the Kagemane still active. But it was more than enough as suddenly, Shikamaru and Chouji were thrust into a genjutsu world that would later be used as the setting for Itachi’s deadliest doujutsu illusion, the Tsukuyomi. They were just lucky that this Itachi didn’t have his Mangekyo Sharingan yet or else their minds might be in pieces. As it was, though, they didn’t need the Mangekyo for them to experience some torture until they were knocked out. Ino soon joined her teammates and Itachi sent a few Kage Bunshin to catch them and gently lower them to the ground while he continued his journey, only a lot more carefully this time around.
He was tired. He didn’t have enough time to rest between the battles. If this continued, he just might end up collapsing somewhere. The worst case scenario would be if he collapsed during a battle. But this one fight finally revealed something to him. Maybe these chuunin and jonin weren’t working for Danzo? The Nara Clan, the Yamanaka Clan and the Akamichi clan were always completely loyal to Konoha and to the Hokage. Danzo was the Hokage’s opposition. ROOT was Danzo’s. These three wouldn’t be working for Danzo the traitor but rather for the Hokage. So does this mean the Hokage knew he was here and she wanted to meet with him?
It was too great a risk until he met someone who he knows is loyal to the Hokage. He needs to be absolutely certain. He can’t afford to be captured. If this information that he has never reaches the Hokage, they won’t be ready and Danzo will take over the Leaf.
And he won’t allow that.
″Well, he was definitely here,″ Kakashi concluded as he looked over Shikamaru and Chouji. Asuma was worriedly standing nearby, not even having it in himself to smoke a cigarette like he usually would if they took a rest, he was that much distressed. It was to be expected, after all. They had suddenly came across all three of his students, unconscious and shaking on the forest floor with some signs of battle around them. ″They have no wounds but there a signs that he had put them under a genjutsu. It wasn’t Tsukuyomi, for that we are lucky, but Itachi’s specialty always had been genjutsu so he did a good number on them.″
″But Ino wasn’t put under a genjutsu.″ Kurenai argued and Kakashi nodded. ″What happened to her?″
″Well, my best guess would be that she tried to invade Itachi’s mind and take over his body.″ The silver haired man mused. ″Itachi is an exceptional individual. Maybe he had some strong mental defenses against others invading his thoughts?″
″Like Hanare?″ Gai asked, a little shocked. ″You know, that kunoichi from Jomae Village? The one that has a huge crush on you?″ Kakashi sent him a glare at that but Gai was oblivious to it, as always.
″So he’s immune to the Yamanaka jutsus?″ Yamato asked thoughtfully, keeping a look out. While he doubted Itachi would suddenly jump out of nowhere and attack them, it never hurt to be cautious. Better safe than sorry and all that. ″Then we won’t be able to confirm anything he says.″
″The Sharingan and Byakugan can monitor a person and see if they lie, right?″ Gai asked again, looking seriously at Kakashi. The Copy Ninja nodded.
″Yes, but Itachi is a Sharingan user himself. He might have found out all of his reactions and learned to suppress them.″
″I wouldn’t put it past him.″ Asuma grumbled as he ran a hand through his already messy hair. ″Can you break the genjutsu?″ Kakashi didn’t answer, instead immediately set to work. A moment later, the two boys were waking up groggily and clutching their heads. ″Are you two alright?″
″Where’s that kid?″ Shikamaru ignored the question and asked one of his own. Asuma glared at him but the Nara wasn’t fazed. He looked around and saw that his chakra blade was no longer where he had left it. ″Shit. That thing cost me two B-rank missions.″
″What?″ Asuma asked, a little perplexed.
″My chakra blade’s missing. That little brat took it.″
″Are you telling me that you gave Uchiha Itachi a chakra blade?″ The silver haired jonin asked and Shikamaru just nodded gravely. Kakashi ran a hand over his face tiredly. ″Great. This just keeps getting better and better. He took soldier pills from Tenten and now he has a chakra blade. If this continues, he will soon have more than enough to keep us all away.″
″He looked exhausted, though.″ Chouji stated as he sat up and massaged his head. ″Still managed to make one hell of a fireball, though.″
″I thought we warned you to be careful when fighting him.″ Asuma scolded as Ino started stirring.
″It wouldn’t have mattered,″ the blond grumbled. ″I was in his head for a few seconds and I still saw that it wouldn’t have mattered.″
″What did you see in there, anyway?″ The chummy boy asked of his teammate curiously. ″You just started screaming and bleeding!″
″His mental defenses ... they’re a memory of the death of his teammate, some boy that looked older than him ... A masked man in an orange mask and old clothing ... long dark hair ... He attacked them on a mission. The boy tried to protect Itachi and was killed right in front of his eyes ... then everything became sharp and he lunged like a hellion. Then all the pain he felt whenever he thinks of that boy ... What torture.″ Ino shivered as she recalled everything and a tear slid down her cheek.
″Well, we now know how he awakened his Sharingan.″ Yamato said, trying to lighten up the dark atmosphere. ″But if he lost someone, he must have trained ten times harder since then. Who knows how strong he really is.″
″I think we are still only seeing a fraction of it all.″ Kakashi said in a resigned tone of voice. ″We may get an idea of how strong he really is after all of this, but until then ...″ He shrugged and stood up. Shikamaru and Chouji slowly clambered to their feet while Kurenai helped Ino up. ″We need to get you guys checked over, just in case.″
″We’re fine.″ Shikamaru and Ino insisted in the same voice but the jonin didn’t pay heed to it. As they were leaving the area, Kakashi cast a glance behind them, as if trying to find his former ANBU comrade.
When he saw nothing, he returned his focus forwards, hopping the others had more luck.
Naruto was cursing like a sailor as he stomped through Konoha’s thick forests by himself, having gotten lost when Sai had started really annoying him. While the guy had become a lot more bearable since their failed mission to capture Sasori’s spy in Orochimaru’s group and the attempt to bring Sasuke back, the bastard was still annoying as all hell. He had no tact, no manners, no consideration for others ... Damn, if that’s what Danzo did to people, Naruto wanted to punch all of his lights out so badly! But this kid version of Itachi may have something better. He might hate Sasuke’s older brother for what his actions turned Sasuke into, but he couldn’t blame this kid right now, as he was at an age he probably didn’t even know he was going to snap one day and kill his clan.
It made Naruto wonder what Itachi’s reasons had been. Everyone had a reason for doing something. That’s what he believed with all of his being. So he wondered what would have caused a person like Itachi to suddenly go on a killing spree. From the way Kakashi-sensei and Yamato-taichou have described the guy before the massacre, he was a calm and nice person who used genjutsu to avoid unnecessary killing, even on ANBU missions. For such a huge change, something big must have happened. Naruto was ready to bet his right arm that it had something to do with that bastard, Danzo.
The growling of his poor, hungry stomach stopped any further contemplations. It was getting dark and it had been quite a few hours since he should have had his dinner. Naruto slumped against an old tree, holding his complaining belly for not getting any food. He cursed this whole day all over again and he cursed Sai for pissing him off enough for the blond to leave him and Sakura on the clear road and going into the forest to search the more secluded places where someone might hide. He regretted ever allowing that damned pale jerk anywhere near him. He should have just stuck to looking for Sasuke with only Sakura-chan, like they have been doing up until that point.
Thinking of his best friend caused him to lose his appetite. Sasuke had never been colder towards him than when they had seen each other again not so long ago, at one of Orochimaru’s hideouts. He had been willing to kill Naruto, not to get that damned power his brother had, but because he just wanted to get rid of an annoyance that was Naruto. He had cut his bonds and he no longer needed the loose end still clinging to him. He had not even acknowledged that they had once upon a time been friends.
Then again, he was probably pissed off with Sai being his replacement, too. Neither Sakura nor Naruto had been happy to get a new teammate but it was out of their control. Sasuke probably thought they had moved on from him. Yeah, right! Sakura-chan was still delusional in thinking that Sasuke will marry her. Sure, she was pretty and she was now a very strong and talented kunoichi, but Sasuke was a bit too obsessed with killing Itachi to care about any of that. And since he had admitted that he’ll be letting Orochimaru have his body after Itachi was dead, Naruto kind of doubted he’ll be having much of a love life even after the older Uchiha was dead.
She was probably hopping for the same thing he was: that Sasuke will come to his senses, kill the snake pedo and come back to Konoha. Still no guarantee that he will be having much of a love life. If Naruto knew anything about Sasuke, it was that the Uchiha was one damn cold bastard. He didn’t care about ″trivial″ things like love. He’ll probably marry one day so he could have a woman who will bear him children so he can continue his bloodline, but that’s about as far as that would go. It was cruel to think of Sasuke in such a way, but Naruto actually feared that it might just end up being like that. After all, the last two time she had seen Sasuke- in he Valley of the Ends and in that hideout - the raven haired boy hadn’t exactly been the nicest of people. He hadn’t showed a single emotion. That in and of itself, should be very troubling, as he was pretty sure at least annoyance should have shown on that pale face when he and Sakura started trying to get him to come back. Or especially when Sai joined in. He had just looked down at them all with bored, cold eyes that almost didn’t even show recognition of them as his once teammates. Naruto swore that if he and Sakura were just a bit more plain looking, Sasuke actually would have forgotten them.
Now utterly depressed from his train of thought, Naruto kicked a nearby rock with his foot, watching it soar about ten feet away from him. ″Damn you, Sasuke-teme!″ He grumbled, but stopped when he heard a hiss of pain. He jumped to attention and looked in the direction of the sound, moving in with his kunai in hand, cautiously looking beyond the bush. He stopped. The blond couldn’t help but stare, for there, right before him, was the kid Uchiha Itachi, clutching his head from where the rock he had kicked had hit the kid. The boy’s eyes were blurry, probably from having been sleeping before he was assaulted, but their glare when it turned towards Naruto wasn’t any less scary. ″Shit! I’m so sorry!″ The Jinchuuriki cried, putting away his kunai and kneeling in front of the eight year old. ″Are you alright?″
″I’d be better if I hadn’t been hit in the head by a rock.″ The grumpy Uchiha replied but sighed and stopped clutching his head. ″Is it bleeding?″ Naruto immediately moved closer and parted the hair carefully, studying the area and even prodding it gently. Itachi didn’t even wince, so Naruto took it as a good sign that it had just stung getting hit.
″No, it seems fine.″ Itachi nodded and the two ninja moved away from each other but neither one seemed to be in a hurry to leave. The blond felt a bit uneasy when he realized Itachi was staring t him, studying him like a scientist would a particularly interesting specimen.
″You’re Naruto-kun.″ The little Uchiha finally stated after a full minute of silence. Naruto started, having been wondering what the Uchiha was doing in that minute and trying to find a reason behind the staring, since he had thought Itachi would stay silent. Yet the boy was talking now. ″You’re a four months younger than Sasuke, but still the same age. You’re two in my time, but how old are you here?″
″Fifteen, although I’ll be turning sixteen soon enough.″
″Then I am somehow about thirteen years into the future.″ Itachi concluded, sighing as he leaned back against a tree. ″The Hokage I knew is dead, Danzo seems to have a lot more power, my clan is dead, killed by my own hand no less, my brother probably hates me and I am a rouge ninja. Never thought I’d be a nukenin. I always thought I’d forever stay in Konoha, trying to prevent any more fighting.″
″Wait, how do you know any of that?″ Naruto asked, perplexed a kid could know something like that when he was supposedly from the past, from a time way before any of those tings happened.
″I was searching for the Hokage when I arrived here and saw things were different. I was hoping for explanations, instead I found this.″ The Uchiha dug through his pouch and took out a scroll. A scroll that had the Advisor Council’s stamp on it. He offered it up to Naruto, but the blond didn’t take it. ″What? I’m not going to attack you.″
″Yeah, that’s what’s got me confused. You had no qualms to take out half of Konoha’s ANBU this afternoon.″ The whisker scarred boy said while rubbing the back of his head. ″You didn’t trust any of them yet you’re trusting me now. Why?″
″Because you are the only person I can know for sure will never be in Danzo’s ROOT.″ Itachi stated, making Naruto frown. He didn’t get it and the genius realized this pretty quickly. ″Danzo wanted to make you into a weapon for Konoha, but Sandaime didn’t allow it. Since he couldn’t have you as a weapon, he wanted nothing to do with Yondaime’s son.″
Naruto nodded along. ″I see. I guess that does make sens- WHAT!?″ It finally caught up to him what the younger genin had said and he could help but bellow. Because this was not something he had ever been expecting. ″D-did you just s-say I was the Yondaime’s son?″ He leaned in so close to the Uchiha that the boy was almost lying on the ground while trying to avoid their faces touching. He just nodded his head as his reply. ″Are you for real?″
Naruto leaned back with a dazed look in his eyes. ″Wow.″ He breathed under his breath and Itachi arched an eyebrow at him. ″And who’s my Kaa-chan?″
″You were never told?″ The raven asked with a frown and Naruto shook his head. ″This better not be some S-rank secret.″ His companion just shrugged and Itachi ran a hand through his hair. ″Her name was Uzumaki Kushina. They both died protecting Konoha and sealing away the Kyuubi.″
″I’ve got the coolest parents ever!″ The Uzumaki gushed quietly and Itachi smiled indulgently at the teenager. Well, for him, Naruto was still just a two year old he might have seen once or twice. Naruto was a cute baby.
″You want to know why I know everything I do now?″
That got the teen’s attention back to the matter at hand: Itachi and his little secret. Seeing he had the blond’s attention, Itachi unsealed the scroll and handed it to the blond. Naruto took it, opened it and started reading it. Blue eyes got as large as dinner plates as he read the mission order to assassinate the Hokage before a glare replaced it. ″Shit, we need to go and tell Tsunade-baa-chan!″
″We?″ Itachi asked even as he followed after the blond when Naruto got up and started heading back towards what he hoped was Konoha. ″And where are you going?″
″Yes, we, and hopefully, back to the village.″
″Konoha’s three miles west from this spot, not north.″ The younger pointed out and Naruto stopped, sweat dropping.
″Right, I knew that. I was just ... testing you, yeah! I was just testing you, dattebayo.″ A nervous laughed followed and Itachi gave him his best blank face, showing that he wasn’t impressed nor fooled. ″But why don’t you lead the way back, just in case, ne?″ With a shrug and not a second of hesitation, Itachi did just that. Meanwhile, Naruto was thanking his lucky stars that he had not only found the kid but that he had also found out why ROOT was looking for him.
They needed to get back to Tsunade, quick, before someone really did assassinate the busty blond.
″So let me get this straight,″ Tsunade, as well as everyone else who had spent searching the day for the Uchiha, had gathered once again in the blond’s office for the meeting and to see the little Itachi. He had just told them the story of his day and they were going over the scroll Danzo had been about to give to one of his agents. ″You arrived out of thin air, saw things were changed, went in search of answers but instead found a coup d’tat plot and ended up spending the day running away from and fighting against your fellow Konoha shinobi until you finally found a place to rest, where you were woken up by Naruto stumbling into your camp. You then explained some things to him before you two arrived here.″ Itachi nodded. ″And just how did you know they were planning on killing me?″
″I was thinking about something that upset me while jumping windows in search for you, Tsunade-sama, when my Sharingan caught Danzo speaking with the Advisors about sending one of his ROOT in as your guard and planning on blaming it on that ROOT.″ The boy replied confidently and the Sannin nodded.
″What else have you heard, er read?″ When the boy remained suspiciously silent, everyone frowned in his general direction. ″Uchiha Itachi, it is an offense not to answer a question posed by your Hokage.″ Itachi lowered his head so his bangs somewhat covered his eyes.
″I learned about the massacre of my clan, executed by my own hand, and I think i may know the reason behind it.″ Everyone froze, not a sound coming from them, mot of them not even daring to breathe in fear of interrupting the silence. Tsunade cleared her throat, a signal for the genin to continue and, with a shuddering sigh, Itachi did. ″It would appear that Danzo has been provoking my clansmen a tad too much in the years following the Kyuubi Attack until they started planning a coup d’tat. Danzo seems to have offered me the opportunity to stop a war and save Sasuke’s life in exchange for the massacre and my status as a rouge ninja, instead of everyone being killed and a war breaking out.″ The chuunin kunoichi put a hand up to their mouths, shock overwhelming them. The boys were all gawking at the Uchiha, wondering how a thirteen year old could make such a decision and go through with it. ″I think my choice is obvious.″
There was a moment of silence that was broken, not so tactfully, by Gai. ″Does this mean that Itachi is wrongly pursued?″
″No, he still killed his clan.″ Tsunade stated sadly. ″But it would seem that it was out of loyalty to Konoha, and under the order of Danzo, no less. At that time, Danzo was the one who was in charge of ANBU. This makes the massacre an official ANBU mission of SS rank and Itachi is being hunted for a tragic, but heroic deed.″ She leaned her elbows against her desk and crossed her fingers in front of her eyes. ″He is being hunted so Danzo’s plot can never be revealed. Too late for that.″
″We should probably find him and try to get him back.″ Asuma suggested when no one else spoke. He was a valuable asset before. No failed missions, if I remember correctly.″
″I’m afraid Itachi will have to wait.″ Shikamaru stated as he moved closer to the Hokage, making a wide arch to avoid Itachi as much as he could. The boy wasn’t offended. He did put him into a pretty terrible genjutsu. ″If we have a coup on our hands, we should prepare. I’m sure when his men can’t find him, Danzo will assume that Itachi made it to you and gave you the information. He’ll forgo the whole assassination deal and attack openly. Or if he does go with the assassination, a lot more than one person will be involved and I doubt it will be as subtle.″
″Danzo will attack tomorrow.″ The Uchiha suddenly said, startling everyone.
″How can you be so certain?″ Neji asked him, looking warily at the kid. He would rather not get humiliated in front of all of these people. Get knocked out by a kid was embarrassing enough, even though that kid was a genius shinobi.
Itachi lifted his hand and the crow that had landed on the window without anyone noticing flew towards its master, skillfully landing on the outstretched arm. It very carefully positioned its talons so as not to hurt the boy. It gawked once before nuzzling the boy and finally settling down until it received further orders. ″It would seem that rare few use their kuchiyose for infiltration anymore. Especially crows. No one even paid him any mind. He found out that Danzo did, indeed, learn that I made it to the Hokage’s office and he decided to attack at dawn. I suggest you wake all the ninja subtly and tell them to get ready. The war I had tried to avoid is here, it would seem.″
″Damn that man.″ Tsunade cursed even as she started writing a message for her jonin and chuunin. When she was done, she made a few hand seals and the message was copied hundreds of times. ″You said no one paid crows any attention?″ Itachi nodded. ″Can you deliver these, then?″ Again, Itachi nodded and made a few hand seals. Two dozen crows appeared in the room, calmly waiting for their orders.
″Deliver those.″ The crow on his arm jumped onto the desk, took one of the notes and flew out of the window. One by one, the other crows did the same, the ones that had left and done what they should coming back to take another message and so on until half the messages were gone. Itachi then stood up, went to the table and picked up the remaining messages. ″It will be suspicious if they notice such a level of activity among crows. I’ll have the cats deliver these.″
″Huh?″ But the boy was gone before they could question him. Not ten minutes later, the first ninja started arriving and filling the conference room for such massive meetings, waiting to see what was going on. Another twenty minutes later, the rest arrived as well and the meeting was ready to be underway. They all looked at their Hokage expectantly and Tsunade realized this was it.
″I have called you all here to tell you we are going to be attacked at dawn.″ Murmurs ran along the room and indignant cries, demands to know what was going on. One look from Tsunade was enough to shut them all up. ″The attack is going to be from the inside, I’m afraid.″
″Tsunade-sama, what do you mean?″ Iruka raised his hand as he asked and many murmured agreements to the inquiry.
″Danzo and his ROOT agents are going to attack tomorrow in the hopes of assassinating me and putting Danzo as Hokage.″ Cries of outrage filled the room next, the shinobi swearing not to let that happen and declaring their loyalty to their Hokage, saying they will capture Danzo and bring him before her. ″I called you hear so to call you to arms, to protect this village from an internal war and collapse. I know you are all tired from the wars that have been plaguing our lands since the time of the Nidaime to the era of Sandaime’s leadership, but we must stop this coup d’tat. I don’t care if my life is taken, but I am scared for the future generations of Konoha, both civilian and shinobi, if Danzo were to have his way. You have all seen what Danzo does to his ninja. You sometimes wonder if they’re a clone or if they’re still human inside. I won’t make you fight, but I implore you to at least think of those kids, your own and the others, who will have to suffer through ROOT training and be sent off to wars when they are too young.″
″Of course we’ll fight, Hokage-sama!″ One cried and a group immediately cheered.
″We don’t want Danzo as Hokage!″ Another shouted, getting even more cheers.
″Tsunade-sama is our Hokage!″ A third person yelled, getting cheers and war cries from all over the room. Tsunade would lie if she said she didn’t feel a warmth fill her up when she heard the support she had from her shinobi.
Just then, the sound of a door being slammed open startled everyone and they turned around to see a panting Jiraiya. ″There you are! I’ve searched through the whole village for you, Tsunade!″
″Now isn’t a good time, Jiraiya-″
″Of course it isn’t!″ The frog hermit interrupted, rushing towards his ex teammate. ″I just got a tip that Orochimaru is marching at Konoha with fifty men, all special Kekkei Genkai brats with Cursed Marks!″ Gasps filled the room, fer and panic filling the people in the hall. They all remembered the last time Oorchimaru had attacked. ″We need to prepare!″
″Ero-sennin, is Sasuke with him?″ Naruto stepped forward, asking of his teacher.
″Yeah, I saw the little army myself. Orochimaru, Sasuke, that rat Kabuto and fifty others.″ The white haired man answered before looking back at Tsunade. ″Tsunade, we may outnumber them but we’re talking about some serious Kekkei Genkai. This one girl - she has a nice bossom and tits, by the way - uses Crystal Release! And I swear another is an Uzumaki, so we need to get Naruto as far away from Konoha as we can before she takes control of the Kyuubi!″
″What?!″ The shocked blond gasped. Someone else who shares his family name?
″Jiriaya, Danzo is planning to attack us at dawn. We can’t spare any more men. We need everyone to fight his ROOT army.″ The blond woman said, rubbing at her forehead. ″You’ll have to fight with us, too, so I don’t know who to send to defend the borders...″
″When will they be arriving?″ A young, all too familiar voice asked and the two Sannin turned around to see Itachi standing there, one of his crows still on his shoulder and an old cat lazing about in his arms, enjoying the petting he was getting. Most shinobi were gawking at the sight of the younger version of one of the most wanted names in their Bingo Books. The ANBU that had fought him that day were quick to stop all other ninja from attacking. They needed all ninja who can fight. No need to let them get dispatched by the kid if they attack him.
″You ... What?″
″Just answer the question, Jiraiya, and leave the questions for when we have the time to answer them.″ Tsunade snapped, breaking the pervert out of his stupor.
″By mid morning, they should reach Konoha’s walls.″ Itachi nodded, putting the cat down and whispering something in its ear. The cat nodded, nuzzled the boy and ran off, out of the room and towards an unknown destination.
″Mind telling us what that was all about?″ Kakashi asked the younger version of his once subordinate.
″Nekobaa is an ally of the Uchiha. More specifically, she seems to like me, since I usually run errands for her. I asked the cat to go and tell her we will need assistance from her and her ninneko. I know it’s not much, but they’ll be a lot of help on both fronts. They’re very skilled.″ The jonin nodded at this. ″As for Orochimaru and his party, you leave that to me. From what I heard, he wants to use Sasuke as a vessel, which means he just made himself my personal enemy.″
″He’s a Sannin, brat.″ Some chuunin called out, the man having never actually even met Itahci, either this kid or the grown up. He had no idea who he was talking to. ″There’s no way you can fight him and an army of fifty two.″
″I will be having a talk with Sasuke before any fight can start. It will either be fifty two to two, or fifty two to one. Either way, I won’t let Sasuke fight on Orochimaru’s side.″ The long haired raven said and his crow gawked at the chuunin.
″Sasuke’s no longer the boy you knew, Itachi.″ Yamato warned. ″He’s cold and merciless. Take someone with you.″
″Especially if you plan on taking so many people on.″ Asuma added.
″I have fought half of ANBU and ROOT today, including quite the number of jonin and chuunin. Orochimaru will underestimate me. I haven’t even used up all the tricks I have up my sleeve. Believe me, I know what I am doing.″
″Don’t be so arrogant!″ Sakura snapped at the boy. ″You’re still just a kid that’s going to go up against some one the strongest shinobi out there! You’ll just gt yourself killed.″
″This isn’t arrogance.″ The Uchiha stated, looking back at Sakura. ″I am well aware how prone to arrogance and pridefulness my clansmen are. I pity them for it. But I am well aware of my own limits. As long as I don’t have to fight Sasuke, I will have no problem fighting and winning. That, I promise.″
″I’ll allow it.″ Tsunade said, startling everyone when they heard those words. ″But you will take some of the ninneko with you as backup and maybe a few kuchiyose. That’s my condition.″ Itachi nodded in acceptance and Tsunade returned it, signaling that the topic was closed, no matter how much the others wanted to protest. ″Any suggestions on how to fight on two fronts?″
The young genius nodded again and walked over to the map of Konoha that hung on the wall. ″I will set traps on my end, but as for the streets of Konoha, that will be all on you. I suggest leading them away in smaller groups, as in ROOT to our comrades in the proportions of 3:1. The crowdier a narrow street is, the easier it is to fight them. Lead them into alleys subtly. Set ambushes. Put all the civilians into the Uchiha Compound or in the Hyuuga Compound. All katon and futon users should go the the east while suiton and doton should go north.″ The kid pointed at a few specific places on the map. ″The terrain here and here is best for those combinations. I suggest all raiton users should be stationed at water sources and use natural water to strengthen their attacks. Taijutsu masters are to stay on the streets while weapons masters are to guard them from the roofs. Everyone who has a contract with a kuchiyose must summon as much as they can without depleting their chakra reserves. Fuinjutsu users will be busy for the next two hours. I want you to pair off with the best genjutsu users and place trap seals all over Konoha. Two Fuinjutsu users are working each block. The rest of those who specialize in genjutsu will place genjutsu on the streets. Change the layout of the village. I want everyone else to memorize where each street leads and where a genjutsu is being placed,″ Itachi said as he pointed around a few specific posts on the map. ″ANBU are going to be the first line of attack. You guys meet ROOT head on. Soldier Pills are to be ingested every two hours at the most. Naruto-kun, you are coming with me.″
″I thought you wanted to face Orochimaru and his henchmen alone?″ Kiba sneered. ″What? Scared?″
Itachi just looked at him and arched one fine, black eyebrow. ″Naruto-kun will be staying close to Tsunade-sama tomorrow. Right now, I want to have a nice chat with Kyuubi.″ Cries of shock and outrage filled the room, but they all stopped when Sharingan red eyes snapped to them. ″Konoha will need all its assets for these two attacks. It is time both the Uchiha and Konoha repented for the wrongs they have done to the biju, especially to the Kyuubi.″ With that, he turned around and marched out of the room. ″Come, Naruto-kun.″
The blond went without a protest.
″That was pretty cool, what you did back there.″ Naruto commented as Itachi lead them inside the civilian shelter inside the Sandaime’s rock head.
″But how are you planning on getting the Kyuubi to cooperate? He kind of hates me and very much hates Konoha.″ The blond asked as they came to a stop in the middle of the craved out room.
″Simple. I will enter your mind with my Sharingan and we will have a little chat.″ The Uchiha replied as he sat down on the ground. He gestured for Naruto to do the same. The blond did so, if a bit reluctantly.
″Id on’t know. He seemed pretty pissed when Sasuke did it.″
″Hearing form what everyone says about my brother, and knowing my clansmen as I do, I am guessing my brother fell victim to the Uchiha arrogance. He probably showed no respect towards a being ten times older than him. Besides, I think I may have something of interest to the Kyuubi. Some information.″
″You know something the Kyuubi could want to know?″ Asked the startled teen and Itachi chuckled, shaking his head.
″No, rather, I have an interesting topic I wish to discuss with him.″ Naruto started when the world suddenly started going dark and he found himself standing in front of the Kyuubi no Yoko’s cage with Itachi in front of him and the Kyuubi behind him.
″Then speak, Uchiha, and tell me what you believe may interest me enough to even think of helping Konha.″ The deep, rumbling voice of the trapped fox ordered, drawing the attention of the two males in his domain inside Naruto’s mind. The Kyuubi looked as ferocious and deadly as ever, yet there was an elegance in the way his tails swished this way and that. He may be a bast, but the Kyuubi had more intelligence and wisdom in his red eyes than most humans did. Itachi also saw the suffering only a human can experience in the demon’s eyes, even if it was heavily shielded from the rest of the world.
″Does the name Uchiha Madara mean anything to you?″ That startled the fox but he soon regained his composure.
″Yes, he is the man I hate the most.″
Itachi nodded. ″He used the Sharingan to control you in order to fight Senju Hasirama, right?″
Now the Kyuubi was curious. Just where was the pint sized Uchiha going with this. ″Yes.″ He answered a bit more warily. Itachi nodded again.
″You were then sealed within Uzumaki Mito, yes?″
″You seem to know all of this already, so why continue the useless questioning?″ The trapped biju snapped.
Itachi was not deterred. ″And then in Uzumaki Kushina?″
Seeing that there was no other way to sate his curiosity, the Kyuubi went along with the questioning. ″Yes.″
″And then you were forcibly removed from within her on the 10th of October and forced to attack the village by someone who must have had Sharingan, right?″
Now that had the biju stumped. ″What makes you think that?″ Never mind that it was the truth.
″Everyone’s saying it, I just wanted to see if it’s true. It’s the reason this whole thing started, isn’t it? The massacre of my clan occurred because the village stopped trusting the Uchiha, moved us away from the center of the village, isolating us, causing displeasure among my clansmen that ultimately lead to the planning of a coup d’tat. I don’t know everything that happened in between my time and now and I don’t know who controlled you, but I do know they had to be a born Uchiha.″
″And what makes you say that?″
″Because only descendants of Otsutsuki Indra, the older son of Otsutsuki Hagoromo, can control one of the biju he created.″ The Kyuubi’s mouth dropped open, his jaw hitting the floor as his eyes did a great job of imitating dinner plates.
″How the hell do you know that?″ The fox asked, intrigued. No one knows the history behind the Uchiha name, yet this kid knew of even his creator of sorts. Naruto was now watching with acute interest, more than content to just watch the show.
″Ever since I saw what the Third Ninja World War looked like, I wanted to learn what it means to be a shinobi, what a village is, what a clan is. I started by researching the depths of history behind Konoha and saw that it all started between the Uchiha Clan and the Senju Clan.″
″That was one bloody war.″ Kyuubi agreed.
Itachi just nodded. ″But then, I tried to see why they were fighting the war, so I started reading the Uchiha Clan’s history and came upon some ancient scripts, from a time almost a thousand years ago. I came upon the name Otsutsuki. And I started researching them as well. I don’t know that much about them, only that they were practically demigods. And that the Hyuuga, the Uchiha, the Senju and the Uzumaki are their descendants.″
″Impressive that you know this much. But what does this have to do with me?″ The giant beast asked. ″How is this going to make me want to help? Or are you going to force me, like your ancestors have?″
″That’s exactly why I told you all of this.″ When he got two blank stares from his companions, the genius elaborated. ″I am not able to do it yet, because I need the Mangekyo Sharingan in order to be able to control you, but the Uzumaki are practically born to be a Jinchuuriki.″ If the fox could, it would have turned deathly pale. ″You should know that. Two Uzumakis have restrained you in the past and two Uchihas have controlled you. But that’s not what we are going to do. For the first time in almost a century, Kyuubi, you are being given a choice.″
″Huh?″ Was all the shocked giant animal could say, his tails stopping their trashing.
″I want to prove that me and Naruto-kun are not like our ancestors.″ Itachi said as Naruto kept looking between him and his inhabitant. ″I am sure I could gain the Mangkyo Sharingan if I were just to enter the now no doubt abandoned Uchiha Compound, since it is activated upon a strong emotional distress. Learning you were the one who killed your entire family and clan should definitely cause that. I am confused as to why I have not broken down yet.″ The Uchiha admitted. The Kitsune and his vessel were staring at him now. ″But I won’t go there. I won’t enslave you. And I think you of all people should know that Naruto-kun will never try to use you or control you, unless it is to stop you from killing one of his friends or destroying his home. We are different. I am asking you to give us a chance to possibly change the world’s view of you. If you help us, you may become a hero and a lot less people will hate you. We can help prove you are innocent in the attack. Well, halfway innocent, but still not entirely at fault for it, either. You could gain some freedom.″
″Why would you even offer me that?″ The Kyuubi asked with confusion. ″You were alive back then. No doubt you lost friends and relatives. Why don’t you blame me? Or this brat, for that matter? Everyone else does.″
″Shisui, my cousin and closest friend, always insists on me being exceptional, so I will have to say it might have something to do with that.″ Itachi replied with a small smile and a shrug. ″So will you help us? Will you lend us your power to defeat our enemies?″
The Kyuubi paused to think. It was true that he hated the way he and his vessel were being treated. When the blond was younger, he had to spend entire nights healing wounds that the villagers would occasionally inflict on the small blond. And he knew he couldn’t escape his Jinchuuriki. The seal the Yondaime had put on him would kill him if the boy died and a Jinchuuriki dies when the biju is extracted. It keeps them both safe from creeps like the Akatsuki or anyone who would want to use him. And he could tell that the Uchiha was honest when he says he won’t try to control him ... He looked at the brat that has been his container for the past fifteen years. Naruto had never been afraid of him and he only hated him in the instances he hurt his friends. That’s loads better than with his other two Jinchuuriki. They constantly kept him in chains. And Naruto was as kind as he was lonely, so the blond won’t shun him ... And they might actually get him some freedom, these two.
So with a put upon sigh, the Kyuubi nodded. ″Alright, I’ll help you.″ Naruto cheered loudly and Itachi smiled in relief. ″But you two have to make me one promise.″
″What is it, dattebayo?″ The Jinchuuriki asked, blinking blue eyes up at the biju. Itachi was studying him, searching for any ill intent or deceit.
″I will teach you how to use my powers fully, but you must promise to let me deal with the man who controlled me fifteen years ago.″ The Kyuubi growled out the second part, more out of anger at the man than trying to be threatening. ″In exchange, I promise not to attack any of your friends or Konoha while I am in control.″
The two boys exchanged a look before nodding. ″I have nothing against that.″
The Kyuubi nodded. ″Good. Now, Uchiha, get lost. Me and my host have a lot to discuss and he has a lot to learn from the greatness that is me.″ The humans snorted in laughter and the Kyuubi mock glared at them although there was a small smile tugging at the corners of his lips. ″Seriously, though, skedaddle.″
″Right, right. I guess I’ll leave you to it.″ The Uchiha said with hands raised in surrender. ″Just make sure he is ready to fight by dawn. We will need you two.″ He got two nods and then Itachi left. He opened his eyes to see that Naruto had slumped over, so he gently laid the teen down, put a small protective barrier around him and left to plant traps for his unfortunate victims tomorrow.
True to the information Itachi’s crow delivered, ROOT black ops attacked at dawn, rushing at the Hokage Tower with a hundred shinobi. Thankfully, Itachi’s plan, a bit modified (read specified) by Shikamaru, his dad and Kakashi, was working wonderfully in stopping the ninja from getting to their Hokage. The kuchiyose proved extremely helpful and the ninneko sure as hell put up quite the fight. The formations pushed the ROOT members back with an ease that would have been absent had this attack come as a surprise, and as such, the fight for Konoha began.
Kakashi and another ten lightning users all were stationed at the biggest river going through Konoha and he had a good view of the ROOT agents that fell like domino when he thrust Raikiri into the water, the liquid easily spreading his attack to them. The other shinobi were doing similar things with lightning dragons and bolts of lightning flying all over the place. After this particular fight was over, this part of Konoha was going to stink of ozone for years to come. But the villagers will be able to live with that rather than having their kids sent out to pointless wars.
On the other side of the village, Asuma watched as his wind attacks amplified on of the fire users’ attacks and three ROOT fell. They had, unfortunately, lost a few men of their own but they were holding up great. But if this fight were to continue too long, they’d burn down half the forest that was nearby the training grounds on which they were fighting on right now. The animals had all already fled, thankfully, so at least the fauna will survive. The flora will have to be dealt with by Yamato when all of this was finished. And the training grounds will have to be fixed, as they were charred all over.
In the streets of Konoha, the Hyuuga were leading the rest of the taijutsu users through their fights, the ROOT agents helpless again the white eyes of one of Konoha’s oldest clans. The Juuken had taken down one third of the opponents that came their way and the rest was dealt with by the other taijutsu users and the weapons masters that were keeping their backs safe from the rooftops, who were in turn protected by genjutsu users or fuinjutsu masters. Kurenai sure did have a lot on her hands but Gai seemed to be having fun as he took down opponent after opponent with Lee and Neji, Tenten easily keeping their backs.
It was agreed upon that all animal using clans will guard the Hokage Tower itself, positioned in such a way that they can attack anyone who dares come even close to the red building. The Aburame and the Inuzuka lead the people there, along with a few ninneko generals that had arrived upon Itachi’s request. Tsunade herself was still inside with Yamato and Naruto, all three feeling useless for not being in battle. Tsunade and Naruto flinched and winced at every severed limb, at every fallen warrior and they were pissed that they couldn’t join in the attack. But Itachi and Shikamaru were right. Tsunade was going to be targeted and with Naruto’s new set of powers, he might be the best suited to protect her until they can capture Danzo. And they knew they stood no chance of getting to the old Advisor just yet. Besides, Itachi had forbidden them from killing the man or even capturing him. He was, apparently, confident that he can talk Sasuke out of being Orochimaru’s little toy and instead turn him into the real avenger by giving him the man that had ultimately lead to the death of their clan. And if he doesn’t manage it by one hour after noon, they were allowed to move in and do it themselves. It was a risk but all the other strategists agreed that it was a manageable risk. They had prepared for everything, after all, so a little wait can be afforded.
Speaking of things being prepared, the set up traps and seals were working like a dream. They had managed to completely immobilize or knock out over thirty ROOT agents and the genjutsu users were definitely a godsend as they tripped ROOT agent after ROOT agent into running into walls at top speed or hiding an injured ally from them. One of them even managed to trick three ROOT ninja into falling off of the Hokage mountain, the three dying on impact. However, the genjutsu could be broken and there were a few with strange abilities that made them immune to most seals, but those were taken care of by the earth or water users. Shizune, who was working as a medical ninja on north side of the village, was worrying that their biggest problem after all of this was over that the village will be unstable after all the landslides the ninja on this part have been making to take out as many enemies in one go as they could.
The Yamanaka, Nara and Akimichi were holding the market, fighting with their combo moves that had most of the ROOT stumped. The Nara would capture their shadows and either strangle them into unconsciousness or to death, or use them to attack their closest fellow ROOT members, the Yamanaka would invade their minds and find out battle plans before killing the shinobi when they were least expecting it and retreating before anyone else could kill them. And the Akamichi had stomped on half of the forces they were fighting or captured them in their giant hands. Chouji even picked up seven of the ROOT at once and threw them at the incoming reinforces.
The most intriguing to watch were, perhaps, the fights between ANBU and ROOT, mask on mask, white and black on black and gray. Sword on sword. They fought for about five minutes each before someone died and the umbers of deaths were pretty much even. Sai watched, still not sure who he should fight for since he was technically still Danzo’s man while he was starting to feel true loyalty to his new friends. In the end, he sent his Chōjū Giga at his former ROOT members, deciding Danzo can go screw himself. He was a new man and he will show that by fighting for those who made him the new life he is living now, with friends and comrades.
All in all, Itachi decided as his crows showed him the images of the battle going on inside the village, their plan was working pretty well. He himself was currently squatting on top of the tallest tree in front of the south gate, waiting for the invertible arrival of Orochimaru and his group of fifty something ninja. His little brother will be here, so Itachi must be ready to face Sasuke, as well, as he knew the other Uchiha won’t just shut up and let him talk. Well, he might if he falls into shock when he realizes the Itachi before him is the Itachi from over a decade ago and not the one who had killed their clan.
The gawking of his crows alerted the genius that those he is waiting for are near and Itachi pulled on the cord in his hand, setting the trap to stop them in motion. It was about to begin.
Sasuke was wondering if his eyes were going to fall out from all the glaring he had been doing in the past few weeks. Just a bit stronger, and he was sure his glare would burn a hole through Orochimaru’s and Kabuto’s heads.
Ever since that day in the hideout, when Naruto and the others found and talked to him, the two snakes had been trying to involve Sasuke in their planning to destroy Konoha, when Sasuke would rather spend that time training. And he told them so on quite a few occasions, but Orochimaru had threatened to stop teaching him new techniques so Sasuke had relented and sat in the boring and - in his humble opinion - pointless meetings, but he put his foot down when Orochimaru gave him a group to be his ″team″. Sasuke wasn’t stupid. The Snake Sannin had realized that his meeting with his old teammates had unsettled him, that the cold demeanor he’d been sporting for almost three years now was nowhere to be seen. Sasuke was acting to be cold and uncaring when it was very clear in his eyes that a spark had returned in them.
His bond with Naruto had not broken.
And everyone knew it.
At first, Sasuke had tried ignoring this fact in hopes that it would go away, but it hadn’t. It had only gotten stronger, all the way to the point that Sasuke didn’t want it to go away anymore. All of a sudden, after two and a half long years, Sasuke had a light again and he wasn’t going to let it pass him by. For some reason, just seeing Naruto again had been enough to reawaken the feelings he had had when he had been standing over the unconscious form of his best friend back in the Valley of the Ends. He could have killed Naruto back then, almost had, what with the Chidori to the heart. But he hadn’t. The Kyuubi - Kami bless that creature -had saved Naruto back then.
Sasuke had never known how much Naruto’s absence would hurt him until he left Konha and could no longer see that stupid smile or hear that annoying laughter that were always present wherever the blond was. He had never known what peace those blue eyes brought him until he could no longer see them or what security he felt when he was close enough to hear the orange clad ninja’s breathing at night until he realized he will never have that chance again. He had never realized that just seeing the blond would light up his world, would chase the loneliness away, until he realized he will never see the other again. He had never known a simple touch could convey his trust to another as it did to Naruto. And he had never thought he’d become so fond of an insult that now that he wasn’t using it for the blond, it hurt.
He had thought that he’d seen his friend the last time in that Valley, but Naruto had come, two and a half years later, claiming to still being his friend and that he would bring him back home. He had never known that a person could be one’s home until he finally could touch the other again.
But he couldn’t just give up on his revenge, either. He needed to kill Itachi to avenge his clan, who the older Uchiha had slaughtered mercilessly; the old, the young, women and children, warriors and civilians ... Itachi had wanted someone to hunt him, to fight and defeat him ,to kill him. He wanted to be punished. And he had chosen Sasuke for the job. Sasuke still wasn’t sure if he should be pissed with his brother’s choice of honored, since Itachi had apparently seen only in Sasuke the potential to beat him, the undefeated and forever uninjured Uchiha Itachi. Whatever he should feel at that, Sasuke had known that he couldn’t go back with Naruto and there was no way in hell he was going to let the blond come anywhere near Orochimaru and his henchmen or their crazy and cruel experiments. He’d rather cut off a limb than let Naruto within ten kilometers of one of those sick labs.
So he had pushed him away, pretended to want to kill him right then and there, when he was holding him, and was forever grateful that replacement of his for protecting his usuratonkachi. Even though he was still pissed about there even being a replacement. But he knew that a two man cell was not anywhere near as effective, strong or secure as a three man cell.
And speaking of teams, back to the topic. He had put his foot down at getting a ″team″ that were actually just going to act as his keepers, as though he were a brat that was going to run away from home if displeased. Yet he got stuck with a team anyway. Uzumaki Karin, a redhead with magenta eyes, who was supposedly a distant relative of Naruto’s and a former ninja of the Kusagakure, Orochimaru’s lab assistant for certain experiments, like with Juugo, his second new ″teammate″ and one of Orochimaru’s experiments. And the third was Hōzuki Suigetsu, a former Kirigakure ninja who wanted to collect all the swords of the Seven Swordsman of the Mist, also one of the experiments. They, like everyone else here, had incredible powers, each and every one of the people Orochimaru had collected had a Kekkei Genkai that can’t be copied no matter how much you understood the mechanics behind it all. But Sasuke knew that Orochimaru desired none of these Kekkei Genkeai as much as he desired his Sharingan. Still, this was one powerful group. All fifty ninja that were following Orochimaru and Kabuto were either terrified of them or truly loyal to the Snake. He still wasn’t sure of his ″teammates″ place in all of this, but, either way, if he even tried something that could be classified as suspicious, they would probably attack him and restrain him.
Now, Sasuke was actually more than able to take these three down, but the problem would arise if Karin were to somehow manage to capture him with her Adamantine Attacking Chains, he knew he would be as good as dead, despite Orochimaru still wanting him as his future body. The Snake might just keep him in those chains until the date arrives when he’s supposed to invade his body and take it over. But Karin seems to be in love with him or something, although she and Suigetsu bicker like an old married couple. And that thought embarrassed him, because those two were just like how he was with Naruto. Dear Kami, were his feelings for his blond teammate as obvious as these two’s are? He sure as hell hoped not, because this was really embarrassing. That was not how an Uchiha should act-
His train of thought was interrupted when a bomb suddenly went off, shaking the very ground they were standing on, followed by three others on the left, then the right and at the back. The traveling mini army came to a stop as two of their members at the back were blown up and three more were flung into trees, rendered unconscious. As they were all looking around to see where the attack had come from, a rain of senbon fell on the far left part of the group, four more ninja dying before the woman he knew as Guren put up a crystal shield around them. However, that was when the middle was attacked with shuriken that had arched around the whole group and five more people died, three severely injured. Kabuto turned around and made a move towards them when ten kunai with strange sealing tags landed in a circle around him. As soon as the last kunai was safely embedded in the ground, the sealing tags started glowing and kanji ran up the silver haired man’s body, immobilizing him to the point that he could barely blink or breathe properly.
″WHAT’S GOING ON?!″ Karin demanded even as the three boys around her pushed her around so that the four of them were standing back to back, Sasuke facing the front.
″HOLD YOUR POSITIONS!″ Guren yelled as a new rain of senbon descended on her group. New screams and the smell of burnt flesh had everyone looking to the back again, where they saw flaming shuriken descending on the remainder of that group.
″Mizudeppō: Nichō!″ Suigetsu yelled, using his technique to spray water over the few that hadn’t died instantly. But they were badly burned and without medical help will either be useless in a fight or die soon enough. Orochimaru realized this and glared around the woods.
″Who is there?! Who are you to kill my subordinates?! Show yourself!″ The Snake yelled, turning around and around to keep a watch from all corners. When he saw nothing, he turned to Karin and Juugo. ″Where are they? These weren’t just set traps.″
″I can’t sense them at all, Orochimaru-sama. I am sorry, but whoever is attacking has completely suppressed their chakra.″ The ginger haired teen replied and Karin echoed his apology.
″Damn it.″ The Sannin cursed before looking back at the surrounding forest. ″Well!? Are you a coward to face me?!″
Just then, a shadow fell over them and everyone looked up, but the blinding shine of the afternoon sun hid the form well. But Sasuke still managed to discern that their attacker was either incredibly small or very young. But then none of them had time for thought as, just as suddenly s the figure had appeared, they started throwing kunai. Kunai hitting kunai in mid air and changing directions had Sasuke activating hi Sharingan to try and see the attacker and his eyes widened when he swore he saw a ponytail as the figure spun around, continuing his barrage of kunai attacks. Seven more men died and one more was injured. The others had managed to put up shields or had somehow moved out of the way at the last moment.
When the attack stopped, the attacker twisted around and somehow managed to land on the branch of a nearby tree, looking down at them as they all rubbed their eyes and regrouped. When he counted over his remaining ninja, Orochimaru cursed as he saw thirty were taken down in these traps and now only twenty remained, minus Kabuto, who was sealed and immobilized. He whirled around to glare at the attacker, only to freeze and gasp as his eyes landed on the red eyed, pale, ashen haired boy of eight years, dressed in dark clothing and wearing a hitai-ate of a Konoha genin.
″I would prefer to think of myself as a good strategist.″ Uchiha Itachi said, referring to Orochimaru’s last question before this final attack. Sasuke whirled around at the familiar voice and his own eyes widened when he caught sight of the young Itachi, mind freezing and trying to keep up with what his Sharingan was shouting at him: this was indeed Itachi, he was not in henge and he was in a fighting mood, a rare thing with his supposedly pacifist of a brother. ″Your attack stops here, Orochimaru.″
″Itachi-kun,″ suddenly, a sick grin slid onto the Sannin’s face. ″I see that in the two years I didn’t see you back then, you have improved greatly. You even have your Sharingan fully developed! I must say, I am impressed. Then again, you always were special. I just never thought you were this strong this young.″
Much to his displeasure, Itachi completely ignored the Sannin and instead looked at his little brother, who was now older than him. He looked him over and a gentle smile slid onto his face. ″Sasuke, you grew up well.″
That snapped the technically younger Uchiha out of his stupor and rage filled him. ″ITACHI!″ He made to lunge but Itachi flung Shikamaru’s chakra blade at his feet, immobilizing him, too, if only for a short while. It will be just long enough for Itachi to say his peace.
″Otouto, before you decide to kill me, let me tell you the truth behind the massacre.″
That stopped the struggling teen in his tracks and he went lack in the binds of the shadow Shikamaru had channeled into the blade. He looked up at the younger version of his brother with a confused frown on his face. ″How do you even know about that? You’re too young to be from that time. You look eight at best.″
″I am eight.″ Itachi confirmed. ″I have no idea how I ended up here. I was supposed to meet Shisui for training this morning but instead of stepping out of the house and into the street of our Compound, I found myself at my favorite training ground. I went back to the village, only to see that things had changed. When I saw that there was now a Godaime on the mountain, I went to talk with the current Hokage to see if they can send me back to my time, but instead, I stumbled upon a meeting between the Advisors while they were planning a coup d’tat, which is when I learned that not only was our clan massacred but it was me who had done it.″ A pained look crossed Itachi’s face as he looked at his brother in regret. ″Then they mentioned how it came to be me who’d killed them. I am truly sorry, Sasuke, but it was either our clan or war and numerous other lives. It was either them or you. And I could never let anything happen to you.″
″W-what are you talking about?″ The shocked raven haired teen asked while Orochimaru ordered Guren to attack the eight year old Uchiha.
″Shōton: Kesshō Gokakurō!″ The woman yelled, directing her attack at the Uchiha, but Itachi jumped out of the way just before the crystal prison could reach him. Itachi threw out ten kunai at her but she just called up a crystal wall, stopping the attacks. However, Itachi pulled back his weapon with a wire, so he wouldn’t run out. He landed on the ground gracefully and Guren smirked, thinking this was going to be easy. ″Shōton: Hashō Kōryū!″ A pink crystal dragon appeared behind her before charging at Itachi. The raven haired boy wasted no time in forming hand seals, the ground behind him rising.
″Doton: Dosekiryū!″ The two dragons clashed, bitting and wrestling as they were fed chakra from their masters. To everyone’s surprise, though, Itachi yelled out another jutsu. ″Suishū Gorugon!″ A sudden wave of water engulfed Guren and a moment later, lightning was running through it. ″Raiton: Sandāboruto.″ Guren’s scream was muted by the water and she was lucky to only get knocked out and not end up dead. However, she lost and her dragon shattered to minuscule particles while Itachi’s earth dragon remained. It roared at the group and Orochimaru ordered the others to attack it. ″Tenrō Kaken.″ A fire appears in Itachi’s right hand before it is shaped and resembles a blade. Any of the fools that had managed to get to the Uchiha were cut down with the fire blade, making the others stay away.
″Karin!″ Orochimaru yells and the girl nods, extending her chains and locking on Itachi. And that’s where she made the greatest mistake of her life: she looked into his eyes. She suddenly found herself in a world of distorted proportions. Sasuke had a creepy smile on his face while Suigetsu’s teeth looked like they were as big as a dragon’s. Juugo was stuck in his demonic looking form and instead of asking her if she was alright, he was roaring at her. Orochimaru was a zombie and Kabuto had some strange scales all over him yet he looked like a drowned rat. She looked back at Itachi and screamed when she only saw what looked like Death.
″Karin!″ Juugo yelled, catching the shaking girl. She had fainted as soon as Itachi had released her from his genjutsu and while Juugo and Suigetsu tried to bring her back, Sasuke twirled around to glare at Itachi.
″Is this how you prove you are worthy of forgiveness!?″ He demanded, getting even angrier when Itachi only blinked at him impassively. ″Answer me, damn it! How do you expect me to believe your story if you can’t even be honest with me?!″
″I am being honest with you,″ the boy argued. ″And I didn’t kill her. It’s just a genjutsu. She will be fine in a few minutes. Well if she’s strong, that is. If not, it may be an hour or more.″ Itachi mused out loud before shaking his head and returning to the topic at hand. ″I do not deserve forgiveness, so I am not asking for it. What I did, for whatever reason it may be, is unforgivable.″ That left Sasuke speechless but he was at least no longer angry. ″I am sure I will suffer this knowledge for the rest of my life, even more so when I actually do it.″ Sasuke went to protest, but Itachi either knew him that well or he could now read minds, because he already shot down Sasuke’s argument before the boy could even voice it. ″And yes, I will do it. I was given a choice between peace and war, your survival and death, between the clan and a lot more lives. I chose what I did and it is my burden to carry. I just want to know why you never knew of this. I should have told you. Maybe we could have stopped the coup together. Maybe today, there would be a lot more Uchiha. Maybe neither one of us would be a rogue. There are a lot of maybes, Sasuke, but I know that I would prefer all the hate and the danger if it meant that you were safe. Danzo will die soon, anyway, so at least I won’t have to worry about him, and I plan on dealing with Orochimaru now-″
″What does Danzo have to do with all of this?″ The younger brother demanded and the younger version of the older Uchiha was more than happy to answer.
″He had pushed the Uchiha in a corner. We used to live in a different part of the village, Sasuke, before the Kyuubi attack. But then, because of all the damage, Danzo insisted on the Uchiha changing grounds and isolating us while putting us in the perfect position to be watched day in and day out. People started blaming us for the Kyuubi attack, which fueled the Uchiha to rebel. I know, because their discontent is very apparent even in my time. Danzo spent a few years provoking the Uchiha so he would have an excuse to wipe us out. He apparently chose me to be the one to do it when I became ANBU. He was just waiting for the right moment. He did it because he was after the Sharingan. Just like Orochimaru. And for some reason, they both want mine.″
Everyone turned to look at Orochimaru, who was chuckling evilly. Sasuke was glaring at him. ″Of course we’d want your Sharingan, Itachi-kun. The potential in your eyes is apparent with just a glance! You see everything.″
″Yeah, I do. I also see that you’re all going to either die or be captured here.″ With that, a giant cat like thing came out of the foliage and roared at the group. ″Nekomata here owes me.″
″Rather, you owe me.″ The giant cat hissed at the kid but one look at the Sharingan and the cat sighed. ″Come on, Itachi! Having me fight your baby brother wasn’t enough?″
″I could tell everyone what happened that one time...″ Itachi trailed off and the cat sighed before glowering at the group before its feet.
″Surrender or I will make you.″ The cat warned and a few men quickly fell to their knees with their hands over their heads, clearly surrendering. ″And Sasuke-chan.″
Said teen started at being so suddenly addressed. ″Yes?″ He asked of the cat whose paw print he had fought so hard to get when he was twelve.
″Your brother is telling the truth. I have no idea what else has transpired, but every cat knows that we lost our Itachi-chan because of Danzo ordering him to do it and then trying to kill him.″ Red eyes widened as the cat then jumped at the rest of the followers, fighting them with the ferocity of not a cat but a lion. He deactivated his Sharingan and looked over to his calm brother, still not used to seeing him eight years younger than himself instead of six years older. He narrowed his eyes and was about to say something, when Itachi cut him off again, turning to face the now fuming Orochimaru.
″Danzo attacked the village at dawn this morning. If you go and kill him now, not only will you get your revenge but you will also be hailed a hero. I suggest you don’t fight any Konoha shinobi, or else you’ll never get to see the me of this time.″ A small smile played at the eight year old’s lips. ″We’ll all have the time to chat and explain things then.″
″How did you-″
″No matter how much you grow, Sasuke, your big brother will always know you the best.″ Itachi answered with a glance at Sasuke before lunging at Orochimaru with his word. The other Uchiha took that as a sufficient answer and passed the first row of trees, heading back to Konoha with a new purpose. He had headed out today with the intention to destroy this village and now he was going to save it.
After thirty meters, he realized he had company in the form of his supposed team going after him. Thinking they were trying to hold him back and return him to Orochimaru, Sasuke reached for his Kusanagi Sword, but Suigetsu held up his hands in a peaceful manner. ″Wow! We don’t want to fight! Well, not you.″
″What Suigetsuis trying to say,″ Karin snapped before the albino could start fumbling with his words and get Sasuke angry. ″Is that we’re going wherever you go.″ When Sasuke gave them a surprised look, she elaborated. ″Orochimaru isn’t the kindest of masters and you didn’t treat us like objects. If nothing else, we’ll get off easy with the Leaf if we help you. So we’re going with you.″
″Yeah! You’re cool, man, and I wouldn’t cross your brother if my life depended on it.″ Suigetsu added.
″You make me feel clam.″ Was Juugo’s only explanation. And Sasuke let them come with him, figuring that it was best to have a team with him that will keep Danzo’s lackeys busy while he fights him. He was extremely glad he did let them come with him because Konoha was a real disaster war zone. Suigetsu let out a whistle as they passed the fall outs of fights or other battles still going on around them. No one seemed to be paying them much mind, too busy with their own opponents to focus on anything else. Which was pretty awesome for the raven and his group as they made it all the way to the Hokage Tower. One wouldn’t believe it, but Danzo actually had the nerve to hide in there along with the Godaime, so all that was actually separating the two leaders was a few walls. Sasuke wondered if the Tower will remain standing after he’s finished with the old Advisor.
″You three take care of any of his lackeys and I will deal with Danzo on my own.″ He commanded just as Juugo broke down the wall literally separating Danzo and Tsunade in their respective rooms.
″Uchiha Sasuke.″ Came the greeting from the right, where Danzo was glaring at him with the other two Advisors.
″Sasuke!″ That voice was far more familiar and Sasuke found himself almost falling over when Naruto latched onto him. ″Wow! Itachi actually got you to come back!″ The Advisors all visibly paled at this piece of news and Sasuke glared at them as they hastily prepared for battle.
″Yeah. But Danzo’s mine.″ He growled out and Naruto drew back, serious again. The blond nodded before looking at the other two old people. ″Think you can deal with them?″ A grin stole over Naruto’s face before his eyes suddenly turned red and he started glowing with a fiery like chakra.
″You can have Homura,″ Tsunade said as she cracked her knuckles. Naruto gulped, as did most of the others present as they all knew of Tsunade’s monstrous strength. ″I’ll take care of Koharu.″
″Works for me!″ The Uzumaki stated all too happily and the three lined up to fight their chosen advisors. Sasuke’s team had already started fighting the other ROOT guards, along with Yamato and the few ANBU that had been necessary to stay with their Hokage.
Yep, nothing will remain of the Tower by the time this fight ends.
″Katon: Uchiha Daiendan!″ Itachi, who had made a Shadow Clone, quickly preformed this technique, making Orochimaru dodge at the last second. The snake started making hand seals for a water jutsu but Itachi wasn’t going to let that happen. ″Katon: Hōsenka Tsumabeni!″ The shuriken that flew his way were set ablaze and a lock of Orochumaru’s hair was signed by the fire. But he chose this moment to use the abnormal speed his status as a partial Snake Sage to get in close to the boy, forming hand seals on the way.
″Jagei Jubaku!″ Two white snakes suddenly wound around Itachi before the boy could blink and Orochimaru smirked as he got in close, practically licking the young Uhciha’s face. ″I’ve got you now, I-ta-chi-kun.″ A hand came to touch underneath the red eyes of the younger genius. ″They are not yet developed to the level I would want them to be, but I am sure that killing Sasuke in front of your eyes will do the trick. Yowl!″
Itachi had bitten him. He spat out the hand and glared death at the adult. ″Don’t think I will let you get away with this, Orochimaru.″ He hissed like the weasel he was named after. ″No one touches my otouto and gets away with it.″
″But what can you do, all trapped like this?″ Orochimaru mocked while nursing his smarting hand. He couldn’t believe Itachi had resorted to such a tactic. It was probably either a bout of childishness that still somehow remained in the boy despite his genius or an insult to Orochimaru to show that Itachi didn’t take him seriously. Either way, that boy can bite!
Itachi just smirked at the white man. ″Orochimaru, your greatest weakness is,″ the boy burst into dozens of crows, the snakes unable to capture even one of them. Orochimaru watched in fascination as the birds came back together and Itachi was reformed. ″Arrogance.″ The snake man glared at the Uchiha, but the boy was unfazed. ″You have accepted to fight me when you don’t even know what I can do. That was your first mistake. Your second mistake was to threaten Sasuke. You better watch out to not make the third mistake and still go after Konoha. I will show no mercy.″
″I am not afraid of you, boy.″ Orochimaru hissed at the Uchiha and Itachi regretfully shook his head.
″You cannot lie to my. My eyes see the signs perfectly: your chakra is circulating in a way I have learned means a person is panicking, you are always trying to make me believe you are stronger with flashy moves, you refuse to meet my eyes-″
″You have the Sharingan active! Only an utter fool would look in them now!″
Itachi had to agree with that but he wasn’t going to tell that to Orochimaru. ″Your breathing is irregular, your body is tense and you twitch at every move I make.″ To prove his point, Itachi raised a hand with his palm turned towards Orochimaru so that the Sannin could see he was not armed, yet still the man twitched, as if expecting a great array of attacks to rain down on him. ″It makes me wonder what my older self has done to make you fear me so much.″
Orochimaru could only continue glaring, trying to think up a plan that will get him out of this situation. Kabuto was immobilized with ten seals, Nekomata was more than making up for Itachi coming otherwise alone - not that the boy really needed the backup - and the younger version of the elder Uchiha was far stronger than even Orochimaru would have expected him to be. It was true, what he had said. He had not expected Itachi to be this strong after such a short time since he’d last seen the Uchiha (in terms of the past Itachi’s years). For a person to get this strong in only two years ... Itachi Uchiha was truly a genius.
″Katon: Gokakyo no Jutsu!″ The yell and the approaching heat brought Orochimaru back out of his musings and he cursed as he had to melt into the ground, reappearing hidden in the bark of a tree a few feet away. Damn, even though he wasn’t at his adult self’s speed at making hand seals and performing jutsus, this kid Itachi was still a lot faster than most ninja three times his age.
Still, Orochimaru wasn’t about to give in to the boy. He melted into the ground and reappeared behind Itachi, already preparing another jutsu. ″Mandara no Jin,″ he whispered and thousands of thousands snakes soon slithered out of his mouth, moving at lightning speed towards the unsuspecting boy. When they got too close, Itachi finally sensed them just as swords sprang out of their mouths and they aimed them for him. Reacting with the speed his training has allowed him, Itachi took out the scroll on which he had sealed Tenten’s fire technique, opened it and allowed the dragon like flame to attack the snakes. It was only temporary, as it barely stopped their advance, but that gave the Uchiha the opportunity to prepare the scroll for a new sealing.
″Fūnyū no Jutsu!″ He continued unrolling the scroll until he reached the very end and almost all of the snakes were caught, much to Orochimaru’s dismay and horror. He had never seen anyone seal so many things in a single scroll, living things, no less. But it still didn’t get all of them and Orochimaru smirked. It would seem he finally got the better of Itachi. The boy, however, wasn’t done yet. ″Jibakujutsu: Baku!″ While making strange gestures in the air in front of him, Itachi jumped back as far as he could and watched as the rest of the snakes was blown up like fireworks. Still holding the chakra in his fingers, Itachi decided to end this. He was tired and these fights were getting ridiculous. The sooner all of this ended, the better it was for all of Konoha. So he made the signs for another character in the air in front of him with his chakra before releasing all he had into it. ″Jibakujutsu: Iwa!″
Orochimaru expected some strange rock to fall on him like in those stupid cartoons kids watched nowadays instead of training, but no such thing happened. Thinking that he had finally manged to tire the genius out, the Snake made to move towards the exhausted youth ... Only to find that he can’t move at all. ″N-nani? Why can’t I move?! What did you do to me!?″ He demanded as Itachi landed gracefully back onto the ground, panting and tired enough to collapse. He needed sleep, some real food, a little relaxation and a lot of rest. He had considerably less chakra than a normal ninja so despite his awesome chakra control, he knew he had limits to which he could stretch his chakra into the attacks while maintaining their efficiency and strength.
″That’s a ... jutsu I saw ... a guy from Tsuchigumo preform ... He was ... interested in ... my fighting style ... so he taught it ... to me.″ The Uchiha leaned against a tree and tried to regain his breath. ″It took me a while, but I ... managed to perfect it enough to use ... it in battle.″
″I see. Kukuku.″ Gold, snake like eyes flashed with something akin to sick glee. ″But it doesn’t matter now. No matter how strong this jutsu is, you are almost all out of chakra. It’s now just a matter of time before your jutsu fades and I can move again.″
Itachi shook his head. ″The great thing about this immobilizing jutsu is that once it’s made, I don’t need to hold the chakra steady in order for it to continue binding my enemy.″ Orochimaru’s eyes widened in panic at these news. ″It’s over, Orochimaru.″
″As long as I can preform jutsus, it will never be over!″ He snapped at the eight year old, who closed his eyes in a resigned manner.
″So be it.″ In a flash, Itachi sprang from across the field and got right in close and personal to the snake. Before Orochimaru could react, he felt a cold blade pressing into the skin of his right arm and he screamed as it cut through skin, flesh and bone. He tried glaring down at the little ninja, but his eyes watered when he bit half of his tongue off when Itachi cut off his other hand. The boy stepped back, strangely all feeling wiped off of his face as though he hadn’t been trying to appeal to Sasuke not twenty minutes ago. In the eyes staring at him now, Orochimaru saw what the boy will become: the youngest ANBU ever and possibly the most dangerous man in the Akatsuki, the genius who had killed his own clan in a single night. He had the same eyes as the fourteen year old, Akatsuki wearing missing nin who cut his arm off. What deja vu. ″Now, it is over.″
″I’ve gotta say, Sasuke-teme, that I have never expected for you to come back just like that.″ Naruto commented as they all picked themselves up from the remains of the Hokage Tower. True to Sasuke’s thoughts before things got so heated, nothing of the red building was left. Between his Kirin, Naruto’s new strange powers he got from the Kyuubi and Tsunade’s amazing strength - not to mention Suigetsu’s water and Juugo’s own powers - the poor building stood no chance, and neither did their opponents.
Koharu fell first. She stood no chance against Tsunade’s strength and her anger towards the woman for all the years she’d annoyed the blond Sannin. Homura soon followed, having underestimated Naruto’s new powers. Apparently, the blond had only needed a few hours to talk it all out with the Kyuubi and they had decided to let the fox have his revenge against a guy who controlled him during the attack on Konoha fifteen years ago. And since all was well between them, the two had utterly trashed the Advisor with ease.
Danzo ... was a tough nut to crack, though, since he somehow got ten Sharingan eyes that he implanted into his right arm and a strange face on his shoulder that awfully resembled the Shodaime’s face carved into the mountain. Tsunade, upon seeing it, tried getting Sasuke to trade opponents with her, but the Uchiha had refused. Hashirama was dead and gone while his own brother was alive and still suffering somewhere out there. If anyone deserves to kill Danzo, it was him. But it was difficult as he kept using something known as the Izanagi. Sasuke managed to survive every time the technique was used, which restored whatever damage he made to the bastard and finally killed him when he used up his tenth opportunity. Danzo had been shouting something about having planned to use the Izanagi against Itachi, so Sasuke suspected his brother - the 21 year old one, not the kid - knew what the technique was and he was going to make sure to interrogate him as soon as they brought him back to the village.
For now, he had a dobe to deal with. ″Why shouldn’t I? I just found out that Danzo made my brother the murderer he is and the guy’s dead. Nii-san is not a criminal anymore and I found out Orochimaru wanted his body first. I’m kind of disgusted right now, by many things, so can we please not talk about it?″
The blond grinned at his friend. It felt so good to have Sasuke back. ″Sure, whatever you say, bastard.″
″While this is a lovely reunion, I think we should help out the rest of Konoha’s forces.″ Tsunade stated, startling the two teens. ″Sauke, we’ll talk about your desertion later. Right now, you’re an honorary member of Konoha’s defenses so don’t screw it up.″
″There’s nothing left to screw up, Tsunade.″ A new voice said just before Jiraya popped into existence beside his childhood friend and lifelong love. ″Midget Itachi just sauntered into Konoh with a giant cat and a tied up Orochimaru, Kabuto and several other Otogakure ninjas. A ROOT agents is going around, telling everyone that Danzo is dead. Half of them had just dropped their weapons and let themselves be taken in. A small part escaped and the rest swallowed those poison capsules we used to carry around during the war if we suspected we can’t keep our village’s secrets. This war is over. We won.″
″How many dead?″ The Hokage asked tiredly, expecting an extremely large amount.
″Surprisingly, only ten of our own.″ Jiraiya stated with a bit of wonder and disbelief in his voice. ″The ones who killed themselves count up to fifty ROOT agents. The injured all sum up to ninety five. Can we keep the midget?″ The pervert asked, sounding thoughtful. ″He would be real useful.″
Tsunade rolled her eyes. ″I’ve been planning on dispatching Kakashi and Yamato to go get him after they’ve rested up. I figured he’d want to see those two the most, since they used to be teammates.″
″And it had nothing to do with the fact that they’re the most likely to survive if he were to decide he didn’t trust him?″ The pervert challenged, only half teasing. ″After all, they at least knew something about his fighting style.″
″Jiraiya, after all that has happened, I think it is safe to say not even they know what to expect from a grownup Itachi.″ The Godaime deadpanned as she observed the remains of her office. ″Well, this is going to take a long while to fix.″
″I think you should just build a new one.″ Her teammate agreed, rubbing his chin in thought with a hum. ″Remodeling the ruins would cost you too much and the fighting has been going on around the whole village.″
″How many buildings did you knock down, Jiraiya?″ The female asked with a ticking eyebrow and clenched fists. If the pervert was willing to talk finances, he’s made a mess he couldn’t possibly take care of on his own.
″Oh, would you look at that! I think I just heard Minato calling me! Bye!″ The frog hermit quickly started running when Tsunade made a move towards him. When she saw he was already hightailing it for the woods, Tsunade settled on yelling after him as she really couldn’t be bothered with chasing him at the moment.
″Of course he’s calling you! You’re about to join him in the afterlife when I get my hands on you! You’re a dead man breathing, Jiraiya! Did you hear me! Dead!″ Naruto, Sasuke and his team were staring at her with rightly deserved fear, but it seemed to yelling - and the exhaustion from the battle - had taken care of her temper. For now. Her honey colored eyes landed on the bundled together teens and she rolled her eyes at their behavior. ″Well, I guess I might as well address your guys’ situation now, while I still don’t feel like castrating Sasuke for leaving the village.″ The four boys in the group flinched while Karin looked panicked that her crush might no longer be functional down there.
″Alright, Hokage-sama. I know that I deserve whatever you have in store for me.″ Sasuke said bravely with a low bow, resigned to his fate. So much about reviving the Uchiha Clan, he thought bitterly. Well, maybe Itachi will do it. If they get him back to Konoha.
″No you don’t.″ The group of teens arched an eyebrow at her, wondering what she was talking about now and if she had finally cracked under the pressure of being Hokage. ″You deserve a death penalty as a traitor, but I will mark this as a Clan matter getting out of hand. Danzo will be named a traitor and you and Itachi - when he gets here - will be put under house arrest until further notice. Your friends can stay, too, but they are under house arrest also. Naruto will be your guard until you finish your sentence.″
″Alright! Thanks, Tsunade-baa-chan! You’re the best, dattebayo!″ The blond Jinchuuriki cheered and actually hugged the Senju woman. She grumbled about it but Sasuke and his new team could clearly see that she was faking it. She definitely was very fond of Naruto.
″Yeah, I know I am, gaki. Now let go. I think I’m going to go and drink myself under the table with some sake.″ The Godaime stated as she patted Naruto on the head.
″Can that at least wait until I hand over my prisoners?″ An exhausted, childish voice asked and they all whirled around to see Itachi standing behind them with Nekomata holding a net with Orochimaru, Kabuto and another seven Oto shinobi, some knocked out and others tied up so they couldn’t escape. ″I’m really far too tired to deal with them now. I need a good night sleep.″
Not even Tsunade could stop herself from gawking at her captured once teammate.
“What’s that?” A doctor asked as they stored away Danzo’s body, having been ordered by Tsunade explicitly to research the arm with ten Sharingan eyes the former ROOT leader had implanted there. The other dovtor looked up to see what his companion was pointing at and saw it was the bandage still covering the old man’s right eye.
“Oh, that. He’s had that for years. Apparently it was from some wound in his younger days or something and he was covering it up because it was hell of an ugly sight.” The older doctor said as he prepared to store the body in one of the freezers. No one was expected to work right away. They had today and tomorrow to rest up before they had to go back to work and even then they won’t need to deal with Danzo as there were many more ninja that needed a medic’s help rather than this dead body needing to be investigated. They’d seal him up and only they will be able to open the freezer when they start to work on it.
The younger ninja grinned behind his doctor’s mask at his senior. “You wanna see what’s behind it?”
The older grew uneasy with his companion’s mischievous voice. “That’s highly unprofessional.”
“Oh, come on! No one even has to know about it!”
“And if we find something crucial?” The older asked. “There could be some important seal that could unlock special information or trigger a sf destruct sequence and ruin the body,” he offered and the younger suddenly lost some of his extrebudence. “Didn’t think of that, did you?”
“We’ll be careful,” the other said after a long stretch of silence. The older thought it over and gave in to his own bout of curiosity.
“Alright, but let’s be careful.” The younger cheered before both doctors became serious and meticulously removed the bandage so as not to really activate any hidden seals there. Finding none, they looked down at the scarred part of the face and wondered why Danzo cared so much. The damage wasn’t anything so repulsive that even civilians would look away, let alone ninja. He would have only garnered more of their respect with a mark like this. “Well, that was anticlimactic.′
“Let’s see his eye!” The junior insisted. “Maybe it went blind or his pupil split in some horrific way.”
“If you’re excited about that then you have some serious issues.” The older replied but pried open the eye anyway. His gasp drew the younger man’s attention and his jaw fell to the ground.
“We need to report this to Tsunade-sama right away.” The older curtly stated before closing the freezer and sealing it. He then walked right out of the room and went to find the said woman while the younger doctor was ordered to watch the freezer.
“Itachi,” Tsunade said the next morning with a grave look on her face as the boy stood before her desk, looking like he still needed a lot of rest and real food before he could go back to being the perfect little ninja he ought to be. “Do you know if you can identify a clansmen by their Sharingan?”
Itachi looked at her quizzically but nodded anyway. “Ever since I got my own Sharingan, I began noticing the chakra signatures of every of my clansmen’s eyes as well as their own chakra signature. Shisui told me that our eyes give off a different chakra signature than anything else in the world. He was friend with a Hyuuga who told him his Sharingan glowed differently than the rest of his chakra. After Shisui told me this, I started straining myself to see if I can notice the difference.”
“Did you manage it?” The woman asked with curiosity and the Uchiha nodded again.
“I practiced a lot with my Sharingan. One of the things I made sure to learn was the chakra signatures of my clansmen and their eyes, in case of emergencies.” Tsunade didn’t know what he could possibly mean by that but let it go as she reached for a container that had been delivered to her only two hours prior to her calling the boy in. If it hadn’t been important, she would have let the kid get some more rest. He looked ready to fall asleep where he stood. Then again, he had been running around the village for a whole day, fighting chuunin and above ranked ninja, he talked with the Kyuubi, fought a mini army all by himself and had still been left standing far later than any other ninja. She had sent him off to sleep with Kakashi and Yamato in the silver haired man’s apartment but she now had to call him in while the other two former Team Ro members rested up.
Tsunade placed the container on the table and Itachi’s already big eyes got even bigger as he stared at the single, mature Sharingan red eye right in front of him, floating in a liquid meant to preserve it. “Can you tell whose eye this is, then? It was found in Danzo’s right eye socket. It was the only Sharingan eye he hadn’t used at all while fighting Sasuke.”
Itachi activated his own Sharingan and a gasp of despair and true horror was ripped right out of his mouth. Tsunade wondered if this had been such a good idea. Maybe she should have just destroyed the eye altogether and never tell anyone that it had been found. But there was always a possibility that the grownup Itachi knew about it and would demand what had happened to the eye if Danzo was dead and she can’t just say it wasn’t found without the genius becoming suspicious of her.
“Are you alri-”
“Shisui,” came the whispered reply. “I would know it anywhere.” A tear slid down the pale face as Itachi clutched his left eye. “That’s Shisui’s eye.”
Tsunade couldn’t do much but stand up and go around her desk to draw the shaking and crying boy into her arms as the reality of it all finally hit him. All she could do was hope that the older Itachi will be able to provide comfort for the younger one and that all will end well in the end.
Two days later, Tsunade followed through with her promise and sent out Kakashi and Yamato to retrieve their own once teammate, much to their displeasure. Like Itachi, Kakashi, too, had suffered from chakra depletion due to using the Chidori and Sharingan so much and Yamato had been beaten and battered by his once fellow ROOT members during the Clash for the Hokage Tower, as Naruto called it. But, needless to say, they were somewhat excited to get Itachi back. They were once a very closely knit group. There was no one closer in ANBU than the three of them.
Still, neither man was all that happy with having to travel and search for all of five days until they finally stumbled upon Kisame and Itachi, returning from an Akatsuki mission, at a teahouse near the border of the Fire County with the Water Country. They had just entered the teahouse looking for some decent lunch so they don’t have to use up their soldier pills when they saw Itachi looking at them with a arched brow while Kisame shielded most of his person with his own body, Samehada already drawn and a glare firmly set on his face. Kakashi, tired from searching for kid Itachi, the impromptu war and now the search for the adult Itachi, completely ignored the murderous Kiri nin and just sat across the Uchiha and ordered a sandwich and a black tea. Yamato, seeing that Kisame had yet to attack his senior due to his junior holding onto the blue man’s cloak, decided there was no harm joining them and sat down as well, baffling Kisame further as he ordered miso ramen. He’d been spending way too much time with Naruto lately that he almost automatically ordered the thick noodle soup.
Itachi gave one last tug at his partner’s jacket and Kisame complied, sitting down next to the younger Akatsuki and warily watching the two Konoha ninja while Itachi calmly continued eating his dango and sipping his tea. He waited until the waitress got the two men their food before he finally broke the silence. “It has been a while, Kakashi-san, Tenzou-san.”
“Indeed it has, Itachi-kun. Please call me Yamato.” The brunet replied as he took his first mouthful of the noodles. “I see you are doing well?”
“Well enough,” the younger returned with a nod. “You two?”
“We are fine,” Kakashi replied this time, already somehow finished with his sandwich and putting his mask back into place. Kisame was gaping at him while Itachi and Yamato were not fazed with such a sight. They have had enough lunches together to be completely used to each other’s eating habits: Kakashi could eat anything under a few seconds, Itachi could eat his weight in dango and never get sick or gain weight and Yamato liked bitter things from time to time, sometimes so bitter that not even his comrades could keep a straight face when they try them. Kisame may be used to his partner’s eating habits but the other two Konoha men were a new sight for him.
“And now that the pleasantries are over,” Itachi stated even as he ordered another plate of dango and sushi for his companion. “You could be so kind as to tell us what you are doing here.”
“Eating lunch,” the Mokuton user stated dryly, getting an annoyed glare from Kisame in the process. A hand on his shoulder stilled the biggest man from attacking the second youngest of the group. It would seem Kisame would rather not disobey his partner, no matter how annoyed he got. It was something Kakashi had noticed even almost three years ago, when they first came into Konoha as Akatsuki.
“If you are here because you think we are after Naruto-kun,” Itachi offered before a fight could break out. “Then you are mistaken. We are returning from a mission. We are not here for the Kyuubi.”
“That’s nice to hear, but that’s not the reason why we are here.” The silver haired jonin replied, looking directly into the older Uchiha’s eyes. He apparently saw what he was searching in them and he sighed, rubbing his own black eye. “Itachi, I know you know why we are here. I can see it in your eyes. You know we are here about your little time traveling adventure.”
The raven haired, handsome man just arched a delicate eyebrow at this as another plate of dango was placed before him while Kisame completely ignored his sushi and gawked at the jonin like he was crazy. “Time travel? Are you serious?! What a load of bull shit!” A customer glared their way but when they saw it was the scary shark man that had yelled, they quickly turned away.
“We would think so, too, had we not spent an entire day running around after an eight year old Uchiha Itachi who had overheard a coup d’tat attempt by Danzo and the Advisors, Homura and Koharu.” Yamato stated as he finished his bowl and patted his satisfied stomach. That had been one big portion.
“I’m afraid I really don’t know what you’re talking about,” the Uchiha replied in a deadpan, taking a sip of his green tea.
“Alright, how about the fact that you seem to know a hell of a lot more jutsus than you ever let on?” The younger jonin started, but Itachi only raised an eyebrow.
“I am aware that I never showed even you all of my jutsus. Even Kisame hasn’t seen all of them and he’s been my partner far longer than the two of you together.” Kisame nodded along, well aware that his partner still had many surprises he could spring on him.
“Alright, then. The talk with Kyuubi about the history of Konoha?” Of course Naruto had told them all what the kid Itachi had done to get the Kyuubi to agree to help them out while said boy was knocked out from all the excitement in the two days he’d been in the future (their present). Kakashi wasn’t above mentioning things that Itachi didn’t know they were informed about.
“It is true that I know much of Konoha’s history, but I never discussed it with the Kyuubi.” Kakashi cursed the technicalities Itachi used to break down his arguments. That’s right, Naruto had said that Itachi had asked a few questions and said how he got their answers by reading but there was never any discussion.
“Ino tells us you have incredibly powerful mental defenses that prevented her from entering your mind.” Yamato threw out, realizing this wasn’t going to be easy. “You’re immune to the Yamanaka Clan’s techniques.”
“Which is stated in my file, right under ‘Isn’t intimidated by Ibiki, Ibiki is intimidated by him,’ along with my brief career as an interrogation assistant and recommendation to join Ibiki-san’s team.” Yamato and Kisame stared at him as though he were crazy.
“Ibiki?! As in, Morino Ibiki?! You scare that guy!?” The shark shook his head and ordered a big bottle of sake and three cups. He had a feeling Itachi will drive them all insane if there wasn’t any alcohol around.
“Ah, yes. I remember reading that in the file Sandaime gave me when you were joining my squad.” The silver haired man said with a nod. “How did that even happen?”
“Ibiki-san was visiting the Academy to give us a lecture on the importance of information and one’s own loyalty to the village.” Itachi explained casually, taking another dango stick up and eating the first rice ball. “He gave us an assignment to think up a password with each one of us having a single word of it and then tried intimidating us into giving away our word. No one held out for long. The longest they held out was a minute and then they passed out.”
“Until it was your turn,” Yamato guessed and a small smirk crossed the handsome face as he leaned his elbow against the table and rested his cheek against his hand.
“He couldn’t intimidate me. After fifteen minutes of trying every class-acceptable method, he resorted to just staring at me.” The three men looked at him strange, wondering how that lead to the infamous interrogator becoming intimidated by a kid of six or so. “When I returned the stare, he blurted out he liked dango. Needless to say, I was immediately recruited as an assistant in interrogations. Apparently people find my eyes very disturbing.”
“And that was before you had the Sharingan,” the brunet of the group breathed in amazement and Itachi nodded, finishing up yet another stick of Danzo.
“I refused the offer to become the head interrogator trainee when it came and I think I may have broken poor Ibiki-san’s heart in doing so. He was really impressed with my work.”
“I know I’d cry if you left the ANBU in any other way than you have.” Kakashi admitted hesitantly. “Although that wasn’t just because of your skill.”
“I am aware.” Itachi nodded and the oldest of the Konoha shinobi sighed.
“Itachi, Sasuke is back in Konoha, Danzo is dead, we all know how the massacre happened - well, a good deal of the story, anyway - and we want you to come back home.”
“Sasuke’s back in Konoha?” The Uchiha sat up straight, his Sharingan activating so that he could clearly see his once captain. “Danzo is dead and Orochimaru is captured?”
Kakashi triumphantly pointed at the younger genius. “Ha! I never even mentioned Orochimaru! You are aware of your little adventure.”
Itachi shocked them all by rolling his eyes. The older Uchiha brother had perfect manners and never performed such a rude gesture, no matter how exasperating the situation was. “Kakashi-san, I do hope you realize I was playing with you earlier. Of course I’m aware of my younger self running around the streets of Konoha. I’ve summoned him here.”
Yamato and Kakashi could only blink at him while Kisame drank his first cup of sake. “What?”
“I’ve summoned my younger self to the present, or his future, because I knew this was the only way to repent for my sins.” The older Uchiha explained. “He’ll learn of the coup d’tat and keep an eye on his clansmen. He’ll know there was no other way so he won’t hesitate. He’ll know Danzo can’t be trusted. He’ll know that one day, he will be me and a little him will be going around, doing what he has been doing and he’ll know what to do when the time comes. This is the only way to secure a future for Konoha.”
“You mean to tell me,” Kakashi said very, very slowly as his brain worked overtime, trying to analyze what he had just heard. “That you consciously started this time loop in the first place?” The incredulous tone was very much evident in his voice and Kisame took another swig of sake.
“That’s right,” the Uchiha replied with a nod.
Kisame poured sake for himself, Yamato and Kakashi before ordering another bottle.
Yep, they need lots and lots of alcohol.
“So this is how I look like when I grow up,” was the first thing the eight year old Itachi said to his twenty one years old self when they met two days later. He was kind of staring at the handsome man he’d become, more so because he had a shark as a companion and a glaring younger brother clinging onto him as though he were a monkey. “I can’t say I’m disappointed.”
“That’s exactly the same thing I said when I met my older self as well,” the older Itachi replied even as he cuddled Sasuke, much to the sixteen year old’s mortified embarrassment. “I know you have a lot of questions, as does Sasuke,” the two younger ravens nodded and the oldest one sighed. “But that has to wait a few days. I need Tsunade-sama’s help right now.”
“Oh, thank Kami!” Sasuke and little Itachi jumped at Kisame’s loud exclamation, as did Yamato and Kakashi, who were still somewhat shell shocked from all that they had learned about their once platoon teammate. “I seriously thought you’d just let yourself die without ever seeking treatment! You had me worried for a while, Itachi-san. But I should have known you always had a plan.”
Itachi was now glaring at his partner as everyone else in the Uchiha compound was staring at him with horror, shock, worry, you name it, it was there.
“Die?” Sasuke finally whispered and Kisame paled as he realized he had just said that in front of all of these people. “Itachi, what is he talking about?”
“I have a terminal illness,” he replied. “I know only Tsunade-sama and her team can cure me.”
“Team?” The little Itachi asked in confusion. The weasel nodded.
“Yes. Tsunade-sama, Shizune-san, Sakura-san, Ino-san and ten other medic nins.”
“Why not just drink some of my blood?” Karin asked, already offering up her arm. Sure, she had a crush the size of a biju on Sasuke but damn his brother was hot like all hell! “It will no doubt cure you a lot better and faster.”
“Don’t you think that’s a bit ... disgusting?” The other Uzumaki asked with an incredulous and slightly disgusted look on his whiskered face. “And Kurama says that could lead to a whole other set of problems, namely his Sharingan turning into something called the Rinnegan.”
“It’s not exactly a problem, unless you count what I need my Sharingan for,” the eldest Uchiha replied. “I actually prefer Sharingan to Rinnegan, but let’s not get into the mechanics of these things. Yes, your Uzumaki blood would heal me pretty well but there is the possibility you’d get anemia if I drank all the blood I needed. Besides, I’m not a vampire.”
“You sure as hell look like one,” Suigetsu muttered and all three Uchihas looked at him with Sharingan active, a challenging brow raised, daring him to say anything else. “I’ll, um, just go to my room now!”
Kisame just shook his head as the other Kiri nin hightailed it out of the room. “How he wanted to become one of the Seven Swordsman of the Mist I will never know if he can be such a coward.”
“So you know she can treat you?” Juugo questioned, very much interested in the differences in chakra between the young Uchiha Itachi and the older Uchiha Itachi.
“Of course. I’ve seen all of this happen before. I know how things will go. For instance, Tsunade-sama is about to burst through the front door and hammer Suigetsu into the wall in the process, demanding to know why I wasn’t brought to her, first.” The older Itachi replied and no sooner than the last word was out of his mouth, they heard the front door slamming open, followed by a yelp and the sound of something hitting a solid wall before what sounded like water hit the floor.
“WHAT IS THIS I HEAR ABOUT UCHIHA ITACHI RETURNING AND NOT BEING BROUGHT TO ME FIRST?!” The angry Sannin shouted as she stomped further into the house while everyone else turned to look at the older Itachi.
“Okay, that was just creepy, dattebayo.”
“And that’s how it is,” the blindfolded by bandages, hospitalized older Itachi finished, having spent the last hour explaining the reasons behind the massacre and his hate for Orochimaru to his younger self, the Hokage, Konoha 11, Sai and Sasuke and his group, along with Kisame, the other two Team Ro members and Kurenai, Asuma and Gai.
“So you mean to tell me that Orochimaru tried taking your body and you cut his arm off?” The eight year old questioned with an utterly disgusted look on his face. “I cut both of his arms off when we fought three weeks ago.”
The older Itachi smirked at this. Ah, yes. He remembered quite well what a deja vu it had been for him to cut off Orochimaru’s arms as a fourteen year old Akatsuki member after Juzo’s death and just before Kisame was assigned as his new partner. Speaking of Kisame, the shark absolutely refused to leave his side. He sent the Akatsuki their regards and told them they won’t be members anymore, no doubt to Pein’s and Tobi’s great displeasure. He also wrote that they had at least taken care of Orochimaru as repentance for deserting. That ought to keep them off their back, at least until they found someone who can replace a team like Itachi and Kisame. Fat chance of that ever happening!
“Well, you already know you’re under house arrest and all the things you just told us are going to do a lot in cutting down your time, as well as Sasuke’s. Your friends, however,” here, Tsunade looked pointedly at the blue man and the three teenagers who had come with Sasuke. “Will have to go through interrogation and swear a blood oath that they won’t cause trouble for Konoha if they want to stay.”
“I won’t leave Itachi-san’s side. He’s the only friend and constant I got in my life.” Kisame insisted firmly. “I’ll gladly protect and serve Konoha.”
“Looks to me more like he’s your boyfriend than just a friend,” Suigetsu teased, only to have his head busted by the older Kiri nin. “Hey!”
“Just shut up, jackass.” The shark grumbled, doing his best not to blush. Little and big Itachi just shook their heads.
“Moving on,” the Sannin cleared her throat. “We’ve managed to completely cleanse your body of your illness and we’ve noted that your eyes ought to get better if you don’t overuse them in the next few months. We’ve also noticed an increase in your chakra supply. It is no longer bellow average but we’re not sure if it’s from all the rest and healing you’ve been getting and is as such temporary, or if it’s an all time thing.”
Itachi just nodded at this. “What of Orochimaru, Oto’s ninjas and ROOT?”
“We thought it best to wait and see if there were any who would divulge any information on either side. So far, there are a few of Oto’s forces that we deemed completely loyal to Orochimaru and will nave no choice but to judge like we judge Orochimaru.”
“Execution,” Tsunade nodded sadly at his statement.
“He refuses to lift the mark off of Sasuke and Anko.”
Itachi just sighed as he rubbed his forehead. “I can do it. Just give me a few days to rest up after tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow?” Everyone intoned, curious, but the eldest Uchiha remained quiet. Guess tgey’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see what he meant. The rest of the little meeting inside of Itachi’s hospital room revolved around Kabuto, Orochimaru and the newly captured escaped ROOT members that were locked up in the prison.
Little Itachi swore tomorrow couldn’t come fast enough.
“Why are we here?” Sasuke asked as Kisame carried his older brother into the Uchiha Compound barrial grounds while the eight year old version of the genius followed after them like a shadow. Speaking of shadowing people, Naruto had been his shadow since the first day of his house arrest. They were practically joined at the hip but thankfully, the blond respected the dead enough to give Sasuke a bit of space in the graveyard of his clan. Not that Sasuke missed it or anything... Okay, maybe a little bit. He’d found he was a lot more touchy feely with Naruto ever since he moved back into Konoha and his old house.
“I already said that bringing my younger self was the only way to repent for my wrongdoings.” The older Itachi said as he tapped Kisame’s shoulder, silently telling his partner to let him down. The shark carefully did so and helped Itachi kneel down on the ground so he wouldn’t hurt himself if he fell. “It is time I made things right again.” He looked at his younger self and gestured the boy forwards. Little Itachi did as he was told and came in front of the older genius. “Watch this carefully. This can be done only once and only by two people who are the same person.”
“I don’t understand,” the younger admitted with a frown and Kisame did his best not to utter how cute the younger version of his partner was. Itachi smiled gently at the eight year old.
“You are Uchiha Itachi, but your are not me. I am Uchiha Itachi and I was you, but I am now me. We are different people yet the same person still. Only we, two Uchiha Itachis, can do this. And in thirteen years, you will be leading so watch carefully.” The older’s eyes turned Sharingan red and quickly shifted into his Mangekyo Sharingan and the younger was quick to follow with activating his own Sharingan. Itachi’s trusty crow landed on his shoulder and he pet its head before placing him on his younger self’s shoulder and shifting them a bit to the side. “Watch for now and be ready to copy my hand seals in a short while. And please prepare Shisui’s other eye.”
The former Akatsuki nodded. “Shisui gave me his left eye after Danzo stole his right. That left eye is in my crow’s left eye socket. He may be instrumental in the success of this plan.” He then turned his head around to look at everyone else. “I suggest you step back about twenty feet at least. And Sasuke?”
Itachi smiled at his otouto. “Watch the power I’d hoped you never receive the burden of.” With that, Itachi turned around and crossed his arms over his chest like a mummy. Suddenly, the air picked up around him as he summoned up his chakra with a speed that left even his own younger self baffled. The spectators quickly followed Itachi’s instructions and distanced themselves away from the genius just as a red behemoth of chakra rose between them and the kneeling Uchiha. It was at first a glowing red skeleton before more chakra coveted its form and it gained flesh and muscle and finally ancient armor covered the entire entity. But before anyone could really marvel at the sight of the sword wielding samurai like chakra apparition, they noticed that little Itachi was staring at the older Itachi’s hands and they saw the most incredible and should be impossible thing in the world.
Itachi was making hand seals with one hand, each hand showing an entirely different sequence of seals and the raven was even muttering a third combination only loud enough for his younger self to hear him. The rest were so stupefied that they wouldn’t be able to move or make a sound if someone were to torture them at this moment. But neither Itachi paid any heed to them. The younger was too focused on catching and memorizing every movement his older self made to even acknowledge the existence of other people around them and the older was concentrating on doing this right.
A tremor shook the ground beneath their feet, startling everyone out of their stupor and they watched with horror as casket after casket rose from the ground in no apparent sequence. Itachi stopped muttering the names of hand seals and his hands slowed down until the right one stopped moving altogether and just touched the ground, sending electricity into the caskets, making everyone else panic and search for a place to climb on so that they don’t get electrified, but the lightning never reached them. Itachi was panting now as he finished the hand seals he had been making with his left hand and he pointed it, palm open, at the caskets of the dead Uchiha. Suddenly, red chakra seals appeared in front of each and every one of the caskets. The seal twisted and writhed like a living thing until a gust of power from Itachi’s palm broke the seal and black clouds started enveloping the caskets.
“Itachi!” The older called to his younger self and the little Itachi immediately knelt in front of his older self. The adult put his hands together in the seal for ram and the boy child copied the movement. The man then changed it into the sign for the rat and the boy followed. Then came the dragon and the tiger, ram, tiger, snake, dragon, snake, monkey and so on until over fifty hand seals were made, two sets of identical Sharingan eyes blazing and chasing away the dark clouds away from the caskets, which were now glowing like fire. “Get behind me,” the adult instructed and Itachi quickly did so while the older’s crow jumped from the boy’s shoulder to the ex ANBU’s, both of their eyes facing forward.
Itachi instructed his Susanoo - the legendary doujutsu only Uchiha Madara and his younger brother Izuna were ever recorded to be able to perform - to raise his sword, the equally legendary Totsuka that can seal anything it cuts and trap it into an illusionary world Itachi creates, to cut off the cork of what looked like a giant, strange shaped jar. “Totsuka no Tsukuyomi: Kai!”
Sasuke watched as what looked like ghost apparitions flew out of the jar at lightning speed, each one hitting a different casket. Kakashi, the only other one with the capabilities to follow their movements, frowned when he saw one of the ‘ghosts’ falter before entering its own designated casket. Neji and Hinata swore when they saw the return of chakra inside the caskets with their Byakugan and Akamaru whimpered at the sudden assault of new scents that came from the same area. Karin and Juugo were left stupefied as hundreds of new chakra signatures registered to their senses and little Itachi watched in fascination as all those familiar eyes opened from within the caskets.
Kisame shot forwards as soon as the Susanoo started fading, catching his partner as Itachi doubled over from using up all of his energy and chakra supplies. Sasuke and the little Itachi were the second to notice. “Nii-san!” The younger Uchiha brother ran to his side as the younger version of the genius knelt to check his eyes. The rest moved forward to see if they can help when suddenly, as though out of nowhere, the lids of the uplifted caskets started falling off in a domino like effect.
Itachi turned his unseeing eyes on his younger self. It will take a few days before his vision returned at all but the gesture was clear. He was speaking to the little Itachi now. “I hope you prepared Shisui’s eye.”
A groan prevented the boy from answering just as Naruto, Yamato, Tsunade and Kakashi stopped besides the group. That one groan was followed by seemingly countless others as one by one, pale, dark haired people of all ages and sizes, of both genders stepped out of the caskets, looking as though they had just overslept a few hours and had not been dead for eight years.
“Where am I?” Uchiha Suzu asked as he rubbed his head.
“Why are we at the graveyard?” Another Uchiha asked, wiping away at her eyes as a yawn escaped her.
“Why in blazing hell am I this hungry?! I’m sure I ate just an hour ago!” An elderly member of the clan complained and his wife wacked him over the head for being so loud after just waking up.
“Why are my clothes so tight?” A teenager asked as he tugged on a garment obviously meant for someone much younger. Eight years younger!
“Ugh! I smell like a pig!” A young woman shrieked as she took a whiff of herself.
“Did I look the gates? I think it was my turn,” Uchiha Inabi wondered to himself absentmindedly.
“Why the hell am I this sore?” Another Uchiha, Yashiro, wondered to himself, cracking his neck and flexing his shoulders.
“Tekka, why are we here?” A woman asked her husband but he was as confused as she was.
“Anata, did you close the shop for the night?” Uruchi asked her husband and Teyaki just shrugged.
“Itachi-kun!” They all looked up when Uchiha Izumi yelled out the name of the clan genius and prodigy excitedly. She was waving at him with a big grin, only to realize her clothes were too small on her now and that a lot was showing. When the rest of the Uchiha saw Itachi, however, they weren’t exactly thrilled to see him as the memories of their should-be-last-night on this earth came back with a vengeance and they all moved as if to attack the exhausted raven.
“Kill the bastard!”
Sasuke made to stand up to defend his brother and to demand what the hell their problem was when two figures stepped in front of them. “That’s enough.” Uchiha Fugaku thundered and the cries and demands of vengeance were stopped in their tracks. “If any of you so much as touch a hair on my son’s head, I will show no mercy.”
“Taichou, why are you defending that scumbag?!” One Uchiha demanded, Sharingan activated and trying to intimidate the Head of the Clan. He cowered like a dog with its tail between its legs when Fugaku activated his Mangekyo Sharingan and Mikoto glared at them all with her own red eyes.
“I am going to defend my son no matter what choices he made.” The brunet said with authority. “If you want to fight Itachi, you will have to go through me.”
“And me,” Mikoto firmly stated, rooted in her place in front of her sons and beside her husband. Izumi ran up to them and stood with them as a united front.
“Me as well.” Sasuke stood up and walked to his father’s other side.
“Sasuke, Chichiue, Okaa-san, Izumi,” the exhausted prodigy called as Kisame helped him to his feet and Kakashi steaded him. “There is no need for you to interfere.” Mangekyo Sharingan eyes glared up with power as the Susanoo reappeared, Kisame having transfered a good deal of his chakra into his young partner when Itachi ran out. “I can handle them in a fight.”
“S-Susanoo?!” Most of the Uchiha exclaimed in shock, terrified at the sight of the behemoth towering over them.
Fugaku watched the apparition with fascination and pride. “That’s my son,” he muttered under his breath with the barest hint of a smile.
“S-so this is t-the power worth a friend’s life?! You sure did good in killing Shisui, Itachi!” Inabi screamed at the genius. “You showed how hollow your lectures of pride and peace really were! Just look at yourself, Itachi! This is you! This is the monster you have become!”
“Susanno, eh?” A voice said from the back and everything fell quiet as a crying old mother and father guided a man around twenty seven years old to the front while the other stared and parted the way for the eye-less man. “I always did say you were exceptional, Itachi.”
“Shisui!” The younger Itachi exclaimed and ran out from behind the barrier Itachi’s loved ones had made in front of him. The clan was even more stupefied as the eight year old, with tears streaming down his face, ran up to the should-be-long-dead Uchiha and threw his arms around his older cousin. “You’re alive! You’re all alive!” The boy looked around, red eyes wide, unbelieving this was the truth even as the Sharingan told him it was. “But ... He said ... They all said ...”
“Shisui,” the older Uchiha called with relief, happiness, fondness, sadness and so many other emotions as the two cousins and friends stepped towards each other. “You’re alive. Thank Kami, I thought I was too late.”
“You’re a really shitty friend, Itachi.” The older admonished as he reached behind the older Itachi and flipped his ponytail. “I begged you as a friend to let me die.” He drew Itachi out of his partner’s arms and into his own for a long overdue hug. “But you just had to be the best friend you were and be the fucking greatest best friend in the world and not let me.”
“Otouto,” the near blind Uchiha replied. “You said I was your otouto. Brothers are there to look out for each other.”
“Well I sure as hell hope Sasuke is as good an otouto to you as you are to me,” Shisui said with a sniff and drew back. Itachi was once again back in the arms of his partner with Kakashi and now Yamato behind him while his family moved to his other side. “Shit, what did you do to get this kid here?” He asked, flipping the little Itachi’s hair this time and the boy smiled up at the older version of his cousin.
“What exactly is going on here?!” Suzu finally demanded, glaring at the ‘traitor’ of the clan. Fugaku glared right back but Itachi ignored him for the time being, still focused on his cousin.
“I have your eyes right here,” Itachi said as he gestured for his crow to land on his shoulder so he could take out the Sharingan he had implanted there years ago but Shisui’s hand stopped him.
“Itachi, I gave that eye to you.” He said determinately. “It’s yours. If you really got the eye from Danzo, then that’s yours, too.” The two Itachis shared a look and nodded. Little Itachi took out the eye Tsunade had given him and handed it to the adult while performing the by now rather well known paralyzing jutsu.
“Itachi, that’s not fair!” Shisui protested as he went as stiff as a stone.
“No, what’s not fair is for you to be blind.” The younger cousin countered as he carefully opened Shisui’s right eye. “You were just as ready to give everything up for this village and for peace as I was. I will keep the eye you gave me but this one was stolen from you. I am giving it back, I am returning the favor.”
“What favor!?” The other demanded. “If anything, I only made life more difficult for you! Maybe Danzo would never have paid you as much attention if I had chosen a different genin that day! You wouldn’t be called a traitor! And why are they calling you a murderer?”
Itachi ignored him as he properly inserted the eye and then allowed his hand to glow green as he quickly heal all the damage done by Danzo in the process of removing the eye. He had healed all of Shisui’s other injuries years ago, but this was the one he could not fully heal until the eyes were inserted back to where they belong. “It is a long story, my friend. And a misunderstanding, or rather a deception, of the ages that have past and that are yet to come.”
“How are we alive, anyway?” Izumi wondered to herself and Fugaku took it upon himself to answer in his son’s stead as he studied how Sasuke had grown up.
“Itachi never killed Shisui. Shisui jumped off of the cliff himself, triggering Itachi’s Mangekyo Sharingan and, apparently, his Susanoo. You must be the first ever Uchiha to be able to instantly call upon the Susanoo-”
“You’re getting off track, honey.” Mikoto said with some amusement and Fugaku flushed while Sasuke wondered if he should stare at his father or his more than amazing older brother.
“Right, ehm. Itachi then proceeded with spying on both us and Danzo. We were the immediate threat and he treated us as such. Danzo, that old snake, has been playing us for foola for years! He’s been baiting us into a coup so he’d have the perfect excuse to get rid of us and he chose Itachi to do it. He threatened to kill us all if Itachi didn’t do it and in doing so spare his and Sasuke’s life to continue our line. Itachi chose to sacrifice his life in order for peace to prevail. But he could not kill his clansmen, either. He might be Konoha’s Uchiha Itachi but he was still UchihaItachi. So he decided to make it look like he killed us. He showed me all of this in his Tsukuyomi world and I agreed, which was the reason Mikoto and I waited for ‘death’ in our home.”
“I was always a pacifist,” the older Itachi picked up when his father took a deep breath to continue. “Ever since I saw what war looked like, I hated it. I wanted to stop it. Even when I joined ANBU, I tried not to kill if it wasn’t absolutely necessary. There were, of course, missions where I had to kill everyone. I hated those missions, but I was a ninja. I knew I had to do this. However, I would not do that to my own clan. Not by a long shot. So I studied what I had done with Shisui. I didn’t know how I did it at first, since it had come instinctively, but I figured it out later and I decided this is what I’m going to do. So I put you all under a genjutsu so you wouldn’t see my Susanoo and I cut you all down with it. It automatically transfered your souls through your chakra into the jar you can see my Susanoo holding.″ To demonstrate, the Susanoo showed off the strange jar and most of the Uchiha took a step back while the other gathered ninja were far too fascinated with it all and instead took a step forward. ″I then stopped most of your bodies functions so they would be persevered. I guess you can say I froze you in time while I made you live in my illusionary world. And don’t think just because you’re free now that you’re off the hook. If you dare even think of attacking Konoha-″
″What are you going to do?″ Tekka mocked and fell down on the ground not a second alter, screaming his head off as he burned with black flames under a red moon in the black and white reality of the deadly Tsukuyomi. When he was sure everyone got the message, Itachi let the poor sod out of his personal torture chamber and glared at his clan with his Mangekyo again.
″Does anyone else have an objection?″ The Uchiha instantly shook their heads and Itachi nodded, ″Good. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll take those few days of rest I requested earlier.″ Taking that as his cue, Kisame picked up his partner bridal style again and left, ignoring how everyone was staring after them as though they were a dancing polar bear. At this point, that would be more normal than anything else.
The silence was broken, perhaps for the first time ever, by Uchiha Itachi the little. ″I can’t wait to grow up to be that awesome!″
Fugaku just shook his head at his son’s exceptionalness.
When exactly a month after the attempted coup passes, Orochimaru has his trial and is declared guilty of high treason and Tsunade, with a heave heart, sends him to his execution. Many of his followers were imprisoned but a handful was executed along side the snake, one of the most memorable ones being Kabuto. A few days later, all of the ROOT agents were finally captured and a rehabilitation center is opened for those who wish to change and are not too far gone in their blind loyalty to Danzo. Hamora and Koharu are executed the day after Orochimaru, so ROOT loses all roots, no pun intended.
After he is sufficiently rested, Itachi uses his Totsuka Swords to seal away what is left of Orocimaru’s essence in the world by taking it out of Sasuke and Anko, removing the Cursed Seal of Heaven from them both in the process. His eyesight returned after a week of rest and he was moving about freely not a day later.
Tsunade had an interesting day explaining to everyone just what had actually happened during the night of the Uchiha supposed massacre and then an even more interesting day when both young and old Itachi testified that the Kyuubi had been controlled by an outside party and not anyone from the clan (they very carefully never mentioned anything about what must be a requirement for anyone to be able to control a biju and the older Itachi never revealed that he actually knew who did it). The villagers were reluctant but they apologized to the clan and Naruto and the Kyuubi inside him for their behavior. The fact that Kurama had wanted revenge on Konoha for his imprisonment and that the Uchiha had been planning a coup were also tactfully ... skipped in the story.
On a less Uchiha related note, the rest of Konoha 11 and Sai managed to convince Naruto to confess to Sasuke. Even Sakura and Ino cheered him on. Actually, even Hinata did it, although it was very clear she was heartbroken. When the blond confessed ... well, let’s just say the younger Itachi would have been scarred for life had Izumi not taken him out for dango that afternoon. The older Itachi still didn’t know whether he should be happy or horrified his little brother was having sex while he was in the house. Fugaku at least knew what to do regarding that, as he had left the Compound green in the face and had spent hours on the Yondaime’s and his wife’s graves, hoping their ghosts would somehow come back to separate the two boys until Mikoto came to drag him home for dinner.
And while were on the couple matter, Shisui absolutelly hated Kisame. The poor shark couldn’t come within ten feet of either Itachi (not that he’d try anything with the kid other than maybe talk to learn about that part of his partner’s life) without Shisui coming into the room with his Mangekyo activated in warning. And while only Itachi can do the Tsukuyomi, Shisui was renowned far and wide for his own genjutsu skills. It really wasn’t fair that the crow helped him out, too. Or Fugaku, for that matter. Not to mention Sasuke. And dear Kami, it was embarrassing to be pitied by his partner’s ex-sweetheart. Izumi, having quickly accepted that Itachi had a lover, became his confidant and their support. She did her best to distract the others so Itachi and Kisame could get a moment’s peace, but one such incident caused her to fall head over heals with the one eyed, noble Uchiha known as Shisui. Somehow, they were already engaged. When Itachi later asked them how, they had just shrugged and called it love.
Speaking of one eyed Uchihas, Itachi finally told his clan and Kakashi that Obito wasn’t dead and was trying to rule the world all the while pretending to be Uchiha Madara. Fugaku promised to give his nephew a good spanking as soon as the whole Uchiha Clan was released from house arrest, which happened a month later. Itachi couldn’t believe his father actually went and did it. Obito, still dressed as Tobi, minus the mask, was unceremoniously dragged through the gates of Konoha like a misbehaving child, kicking and screaming. Little Itachi had wondered how that could have possibly been the cool cousin he remembered while Kakashi was busy tackling the man in a hug. Fugaku had just continued dragging the poor bastard through the village by the ear until the reached the Uchiha Compound, where Obito got the scolding of a lifetime.
Sasuke and Naruto were promoted to chuunin by then and Sasuke’s team as well as Kisame swore an oath of loyalty to Konoha, so they were all free to move around as they pleased. Itachi continued his career as a jonin this time, but Kakashi and Yamato were still the ones he most often went on missions with.
And then came the day Itachi had to send his younger self back. There were tears and tearful goodbyes, refusals to part from the cute boy, reluctance to see him go, attempts at being tough ... it was pretty hard to let Itachi send him off. But he did. He gave his younger self a scroll containing all the information on the jutsus he used to perserve the clan’s lives for eight years and some advice that he whispered in his ear so no one else heard. Little Itachi said his byes one last time before the older Itachi sent him back, destroying the strange summoning seal he used to bring the boy to the future in the process. Once in his own time, Itachi quickly ran into his room and hid the scroll before running off to train with Shisui, revealed to see his friend with two eyes still. What he saw and learned will haunt him for years to come but the knowledge that it can all turn out alright eased his heart a bit. He could go on like that for now.
In the future (or present, however you look at it), as Tsunade prepared to finally start Naruto’s lessons as the future Hokage, she wondered how all of that chaos had started from something as silly as a kid running around in the street.
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