"Are you sure brother and Ameji are alright? They've been on this mission for such a long time," Sasuke asked for the umpteenth time in the past few months, which anyone could tell was annoying his parents.
"Itachi is an Uchiha and Amejisuto is his apprentice. There is only a very slim possibility that they are hurt or even dead," Fugaku said without emotion, flipping to a new page in the newspaper he was reading.
Mikoto sighed at her husband's lack of concern for his eldest son and their future daughter-in-law. "I'm sure they're just fine. It's been a few months and they should be getting home soon."
"Seriously, what are they doing?" The young Uchiha almost whined (but he didn't because Uchiha's don't whine).
"Sasuke, you have been asking the same question since you got back from that one mission. Enough already," his father scowled.
He hung his head and stayed quiet, remembering what Shikamaru had said to him before. If it was really important, they would tell him. "So, I have this mission I'm going on with Neji soon," he decided to change the subject.
"What kind of mission is it?" Mikoto went over to the fridge and pulled out some vegetables and fruits for a healthy afternoon snack, and started to cut them up. She listened half-interested as she arranged the food into an appetizing arrangement. She set the plate down on the table where Sasuke instantly went for the tomatoes while continuing on with the mission details. Something about tracking a prisoner that escaped. Once he finished talking, he started devouring the rest of the snack (gracefully, as Uchihas do,) and his mother drifted into her own thoughts, once again directed toward the subject of her eldest son and his bride-to-be.
She worried and thought about them a lot, and it was aggravating that she didn't know how they were doing. They could be locked up, tortured or even dead for all she would know, and yet she was at home unable to do anything, with a husband that just didn't care and a son that would go on a rampage and get killed if he knew what was going on.
"Mother, is there something wrong?" Sasuke broke into her thoughts.
"Why would you ask, dear?" she put on a fake smile.
"You're sighing a lot."
"Thanks for worrying, but I'm just a bit tired today," she replied. Her youngest son eyed her suspiciously once more and returned to eating, leaving her to wallow in her worries once more.
"I said I'm fine, Itachi!" Amejisuto said, yanking her arm out of Itachi's hands and wincing slightly. She had just sparred with Tobi, who, to her surprise, could make himself intangible, but he actually bothered to spar fairly with her a bit before she threw a punch that would've broken his mask. She passed right through him, but since it caught her off guard, she didn't remember to soften her fall and landed badly on her arm. Of course, he apologised a million times but Itachi had run over to her and was currently checking her arm for any damages.
"I think you might just have a bad bruise, a fracture at worst. You need to have it wrapped and iced right away," he left but got back quickly carrying a few rolls of bandages and an ice pack. He tended to her limb while she kept quiet and glared at the ground, knowing it would be best not to protest. It did hurt, but she didn't see the need to be over-caring about it. Ninjas got injured all the time!
All members in the training grounds, who were made up of Amejisuto, Itachi, Tobi and Deidara, froze when hearing Pain's voice ringing in their minds, telling them to get to the main meeting room. They dropped everything they were doing and ran to the room where the other members were already gathered. "We have decided on who will go on the hunt for the eight tails," Pain announced.
All members straightened up (some with fear, others with excitement) as the pierced man paused to gather the curiosity of the Akatsuki before smirking. "I will be going myself, along with Konan, Hidan, Kakuzu and Kisame. The next month will be filled with training and sparring to get prepared for the capture of one of the most powerful jinchuriki."
The listed members other than Konan and Tobi cheered while the others sighed in relief, though it was hard to tell if the two had any reaction at all. The members that were staying at the base rushed to the training grounds and the others could hear battle cries and clashing weapons almost immediately. In the Akatsuki, it was easy to tell who the bloodthirsty ones and lovers of fighting were.
Ameji and Itachi decided to avoid the training grounds and instead headed to the kitchen to get a snack. In the past few days, ever since Itachi was forced to make dinner that one night, he had been appointed official Akatsuki chef for the most part since everyone loved that his cooking wasn't burnt, raw, inedible, disgusting or would make them cannibals.
He heated up a few bowls of leftover udon and he and Ameji dug into the food quickly, hungry from training so hard. The brunette was having a bit of trouble since she had to eat with her left hand since her right hand was most likely fractured and was currently wrapped up in a billion bandages.
"Need some help?" she looked up and saw Itachi was already finished with his food and putting the bowl in the sink.
"Help?" she repeated, tilting her head to the side, trying to understand what he meant. How could he help her?
He walked over and took her chopsticks, and before she could protest, he held them in front of her mouth. They were now filled with noodles. "Come on, it's not like I poisoned it," he joked when she hesitated.
"No, it's just embarrassing to be treated like a little child," she sighed before giving in and opening her mouth.
"Good girl," he teased when she had a mouth filled with food. She couldn’t talk back, so she settled for glaring instead. He fed her in silence like that for a few minutes until the bowl was empty. He then took her dishes to the sink while she finished swallowing her mouthful.
"Thanks," she mumbled.
"Any time. Now let's go to our room so we can get a better look at your arm."
It turned out that her arm was only badly bruised, so she would heal quickly. The Uchiha finally backed off and started letting her do things by herself again after making it so that she could actually move her arm by taking off the billions of bandages that cushioned it.
They decided it would be best if they took the rest of the day off of training anyways, and maybe the next day for Amejisuto. Instead, they decided on looking for Konan and asking for small tasks they could do. It was easier to find her than they thought it would be; she was in the main office room, sitting on a couch and looking through a few files.
"Itachi, Amejisuto," she greeted. "What can I do for you?"
"Is there any small task we can do while Ameji's arm heals?" Itachi inquired. The blue haired woman thought for a moment before opening a drawer in a nearby desk.
"Kakuzu has a large interest in hunting down ninja in the bingo book and turning them in, but some ninja are not worth it. He's too stubborn to agree to understand, so I said I would go through the book and mark down the ones he could capture. Could you please go through it and mark down who Zetsu should be sent to find?" she requested, handing over a large book with many ninja names and faces in it with large sums of money written underneath. The two nodded and Itachi took the book. "You can complete it wherever, just don't take out any names even if they are your friends."
"Understood," they said simultaneously before leaving Konan to go back to her work.
"Wow, there are so many people in here that I've never even heard of," Amejisuto flipped to another page, intently reading a file abut some Iwagakure missing ninja that was worth over five billion ryo. "Usuyo Samokachi, twenty four years old. Listed in the bingo book for killing his own genin squad and then all the other genin of his village. He was an ANBU captain so he's highly skilled."
"Sounds easy enough," Itachi shrugged. "That type of person would probably stick close to his home village to hunt down some random genin."
As if summoned by just their thoughts, a Zetsu clone appeared. They had already sent out a few; this was the fifth, so they weren't surprised at all at his sudden appearance.
"You should go search around Iwa for this man," the brunette held up the photo of Usuyo. Just as quickly and silently as the Zetsu clone appeared, he left.
"This is boring but also interesting at the same time," Ameji said as she looked through a few more files. After a few moments of silence other than the shuffling sound of the papers, she gasped and stared wide-eyed at one of the sheets.
"What's wrong?" Itachi asked, crawling over to where she was and looking at the paper. His eyes grew wide too as he saw a stamp on the sheet marking the person to be hunted next.