"Good morning, Amejisuto," Mikoto greeted as the brunette walked into the kitchen. She was still only half awake as she trudged to the short table and sat on the cushioned spot on the floor. "How was your mission?"
Amejisuto fell back and laid on the floor, ready to sleep again. "It was exhausting. Once your adrenaline is gone, the after-effects of genjutsu is so tiring."
"Has Itachi never used genjutsu on you before?" the mother started preparing breakfast before the boys got up.
"No, he never uses anything but the occasional ninjutsu on me," the Ishi yawned.
"That's unusual," the mother said. "He uses it on Sasuke to let him build resistance, so why not on you? You're his student and he should be helping you in that area as well."
"I guess he has his own methods. He'll probably start soon. I've only been here for a month."
The older woman smiled. "Yes, it's only been that long. I bet a lot more will happen eventually.” She was quiet for a moment before opening her mouth to speak again, but was interrupted by yawning Uchiha boys.
"Good morning, mother," Itachi sat next to his apprentice and Sasuke just nodded to his mother before sitting next to his brother.
"Still not good with mornings, huh Sasuke," the seventeen year old girl giggled, getting a half-assed glare. She sat up straighter when Fugaku came in the room.
"Good morning, Lord Uchiha," she greeted. He nodded and sat across the table. Mikoto put food on every ones plates and brought them over. Another tasty breakfast of rice, salmon and eggs.
They all thanked Mikoto before digging in.
"So, did you give Ameji her birthday gift yet?" Sasuke asked.
"Yah, sensei, where's my present?" the girl joked.
"Itachi, you didn't forget to get a gift for your lovely apprentice, did you?" Mikoto joined in the teasing.
The victim sighed and smiled. It had gotten happier in the Uchiha's home ever since Amejisuto moved in. It wasn't so tense and Fugaku wasn't so hard on them anymore. Yes, he had gotten her a gift but he was planning on giving it to her in private. "I'll give it to her later. Mother, do you need any shopping done or anything like that?"
"I need to get groceries later. Why?" his mother questioned.
"I bet that Ameji is still feeling the effects of the genjutsu. I'm surprised she's even awake right now," he looked over at the brunette who was staring off into space.
"Huh?" she snapped out of her small daydream.
"So I think we should do the shopping for an off-day," he continued. Mikoto nodded and gave him a grocery list, and they finished their meals.
It was a slow Friday. The streets weren't too crowded due to it being the morning, leaving Amejisuto more comfortable with the peacefulness. Not that Konoha wasn't generally peaceful; she just didn't like loud noises of many people talking and the fact that she would probably be crashing into a lot of people due to her drowsiness.
"Where to go first," Itachi looked at the list. "How about to the fruit stands?"
"I always love the smell of fresh fruit, even though it makes me so hungry," Amejisuto walked with her mentor down the roads to the main shopping street. It seemed like there was a food stand for everything. They started shopping at a leisurely pace, relaxing and joking around on their day off.
"No, he's mine, forehead," a snobby voice rang down the street.
"Pig! I already told you he's mine!" another replied. Sakura and Ino Yamanaka appeared, arguing. From the sounds of it, they were fighting over a boy. Again. They were in each other's faces, screaming profanities and cruel names, like they did when they were enemies. Amejisuto and Itachi stood still, trying to ignore them, until a few strands of pink hair got pulled, resulting in the puller to be punched across the street.
"Hey, what's going on?" asked the Ishi, running up and trying to stop a potential disaster.
"Ino-pig thinks that Sai likes her since he calls her miss beautiful all the time," Sakura growled. Itachi pinched the bridge of his nose in annoyance. They caused a ruckus because of an emotionally constipated boy's nicknames?
"And he calls billboard brow 'ugly hag', so he obviously likes me!" Ino argued.
"You guys do know that Sai calls people the opposite of what he thinks of them, right?" Itachi said casually, looking around for the next stall they had to go to. The girls thought for a moment.
"WAIT! So he thinks I'm ugly?" Ino cried.
"And he thinks I'm pretty," Sakura bragged.
"Whatever he thinks, I can't believe you're fighting about another boy. The Sasuke incident broke you two apart for years," Amejisuto sighed when they didn't listen, trapped in their own worlds of celebration and depression. She turned to Itachi. "Ino will get over it and find another guy, so let's just go...”
The rest of the shopping trip went smoothly, and Itachi was becoming more nervous for the end by the second, though he didn't show it, of course. He decided that he would give his gift once they got back home, but he was worried about whether she would like it or not.
"Itachi, how did you know Sai called people the opposite of what he sees them as?" the female asked as they finished paying for the last thing Mikoto wrote down and started to head back.
"He nicknamed me talentless once when we were on an ANBU mission after I defeated a whole group of S-ranked criminals with a fire phoenix jutsu," Itachi smirked. "He was obviously impressed."
"Narcissist,” she teased. “I found out by reading one of the books he borrowed from the library. It was pretty stupid, but explained a lot about why he does weird things.”
They discussed random things about what books are always wrong about and time flew by. They barely noticed that they walked into the Uchiha part of the village until they were greeted by the person they were shopping for. They brought the groceries into the kitchen and Amejisuto sighed happily, stretching her limbs now that they were free from heavy produce.
Itachi shuffled around nervously. "Amejisuto, would you please wait in your room," he requested. She gave him a questioning look, then shrugged and walked off. "So do you think she'll like it?" he asked his mother.
"You should know, you're with her most of the time," Mikoto started putting the groceries away.
"But you're a girl. Girl's know everything about other girls, right?"
The woman laughed. "If girls knew everything about other girls, the world could easily be destroyed. Just remember, she isn't stupid and she will discover your little secret eventually, though I doubt it will be through this."
Itachi walked slowly down the halls, slowly preparing himself to either have a casual encounter or an awkward one. He got to his room and concentrated for a moment before making a hand signal. "Release," he whispered, and the illusioned room faded away. The real room looked pretty much the same except with a few extra things in the corners. Secret scrolls, ANBU mission reports, and the gift.
He picked up the wrapped box and recast the genjutsu. Slowly and nervously, he walked to his student's door and knocked. She answered it with a smile and invited him in. "Ameji, here's your late birthday gift," he handed over the box.
She stared at it for a while, admiring the silver and purple ribbons, smiling inwardly with the realisation that Itachi must've wrapped it himself, before she opened it. She gasped and pulled out an elegant kimono. It was a beautiful shade of blue with little silver flowers with a white obi. On the back was the Uchiha crest: a red, black and white fan. She also pulled out a gold comb, a pair of silver shoes, and the most amazing necklace she had ever seen. It was a choker necklace of a dark blue ribbon, and the pendant was a flat silver circle with the Uchiha fan on one side and the Ishi star on the other.
"It's all so beautiful," she whispered. She looked at her sensei, who was smiling softly. "I wanna try it on," she announced.
"I will be outside your room," Itachi nodded, leaving and closing the door behind him.
A few minutes later, he was called back into her room. His eyes widened once she was in sight; she looked breathtaking. The kimono and shoes fit her perfectly, like they were made specifically for her. Well, they were, but that was beside the point. "I'm having a bit of trouble doing up the necklace. Can you please help?"
Itachi nodded and she held out the necklace before turning around and lifting her hair. He wrapped it around her neck and connected the two edges, sealing it with chakra and informing her that it was waterproof and there to stay. Amejisuto turned around and smiled. "The comb is really pretty too. It's sad that I can't wear it with this," she giggled.
"It was my grandmother’s, but even with long hair, I can't really use it. I think her intentions were to give it to a girl," he joked lightly.
"Thank you so much! I want to show Lady Mikoto," she pulled him by the arm to the kitchen where the Uchiha woman was cutting up vegetables for dinner. She cleared her throat and the mother’s eyes grew wide at the sight of the kunoichi.
"It looks amazing," she gushed.
"Itachi has good taste," Amejisuto grinned. "It's too fancy to wear all the time, so I'll only wear it on special occasions."
"And maybe on your wedding day," the older woman smiled.
"Oh yah! Speaking of weddings," she turned to Itachi. "If I'm considered an Uchiha, do I have to marry another Uchiha, and if not, do I marry into another clan or does someone marry into this clan?" she was confused as she saw her mentor become visibly uncomfortable.
"Um... I'm pretty sure you have to marry an Uchiha," he said, looking away. The Ishi decided to try something to find out what his problem was. The whole time she was living there, she could sense that there was a huge secret being hidden from her. She had only been there for over a month, but it already felt like she was part of the family and wanted to know what everyone else except Sasuke knew.
"I'm going to change back now," she announced before leaving the Uchihas. She walked out of sight, concealed her chakra slightly, and listened from around the corner.
"Mother, she still has almost a full year before her next birthday. I can tell you want to inform her of the situation, but we should let her have as much freedom as we can give her. She shouldn't need to worry about that stuff," she heard Itachi say.
"Yes, but we can't let her be too free. It will hurt her too much if she ends up with someone else but finds out she has to carry out the traditions."
Amejisuto was confused again. 'I highly doubt they're talking about training right now,' she thought.
"I don't think that will happen.”
"So when will you tell her?" the woman had a slightly serious tone.
"Once she's ready, or at least as ready as she can be by the time she's eighteen."
"Not that, I mean when will you tell her that you... You know...”
"Mother! Could you please refrain from suggesting things like that, at least when she's in the house?"
"You never deny it," Amejisuto could practically hear the smirk in her words. "So it's true then?"
Itachi sighed and gave up. "Yes it's true, and it has been for a long time. Please don't tell Father or Amejisuto. Father will throw a fit and say 'Future Uchiha leaders must not think that' or something, and I don't want her even slightly distracted when training. It would probably affect her in a negative way," Itachi begged.
"You know her well," Mikoto smiled.
"Thankfully more than she knows me," the brunette heard him mumble as he walked towards where she was hiding. She panicked and ran to her room, hearing him enter his own a few moments later. She went in her bathroom and decided to take a shower to distract herself from the questions circling her mind. She still didn't understand what they were talking about, but had a feeling that it was something important.
She stepped in the shower after putting away her kimono really carefully. She was hoping the hot water would make it so her head could be a bit more cleared, even if it was for a few minutes. Mikoto's words rang in her ears instead of the great 'nothing' she had anticipated. ‘When will you tell her? When will you tell her?’ "Ok mind, I get that I'm curious about his life, now leave me alone."
'Maybe he likes you.' "Not possible," she said to herself, confused at the sinking feeling in her stomach at the thought of him ending up with someone other than her. ‘Am I starting to like him or something?'
Another bomb went off in Sunagakure. "Almost got caught by that one, oh mighty Gaara of the desert, yeah," Deidara taunted.
"I will not let you hurt this village," Gaara growled, sending sand to form an arm, attempting to crush the Akatsuki member with it, or at least injure him. Deidara made a clay bird and jumped on it as it took off, sending a series of bombs towards the Kazekage, who jumped back on his sand. Gaara was quick but Deidara was even quicker, getting closer to the younger teen and throwing bug-shaped bombs.
"No need to fear, Kazekage, we're here for you, not the village, yeah," he smirked. His smug look fell as he reached into his pouch. 'Damn, I'm almost out of clay.' Gaara used his distraction as an opportunity to crush his arm with the sand, emitting a pain-filled scream. Deidara used his other arm to make the hard sand on him explode, and a few more at Gaara to escape away a bit.
He saw Gaara's sand cover him and deflect the exploding clay, and while he was busy, started constructing a huge bomb in an odd shape. "Art is an explosion, and this is C3 bomb is the best. You crushed my arm, I take back what I said and I’m gonna crush your village, yeah," he announced, letting the bomb increase in size and start falling. Panic was written across the redheads face as the bomb hurled below to the large village. He used most of his strength to pull up sand from the ground and surrounding desert to shield Sunagakure from the threat.
There was a large explosion as the bomb collided with the collected sand. Gaara smiled. His village was safe, at least for now. He was just barely aware of another explosion as his sand raced up to protect him from Deidara. He inwardly thanked his demon, Shukaku, and its sand for staying alert. It sealed him in a bubble, and he thought he was safe until he saw small white insects crawling through the thick layers of sand. "No!" he yelled before they exploded.
The sand bubble slowly fell away, revealing a worn out, half-conscious, scratched up and bloody Gaara. He twitched a few times, trying to get up again. "You're a persistent one, yeah," Deidara commented, slowly flying towards him, knowing the Kazekage wasn't as dangerous. He backed away slightly when Gaara raised his hand slightly, moving his fingers.
Deidara looked down and saw the shield of sand covering the village moving. "Even when half dead, you do anything to protect your village. How noble," the blonde commented, allowing the eighteen year old to move the sand out to the desert and drop it there. He could hear the cheers and cries from the village below. 'For a jinchuriki, he's well loved.' "Well now you're coming with me, yeah," Deidara grabbed the now unconscious Gaara and flew off to meet Sasori at the village entrance.
"What took you so long?" the puppet master growled.
"He put up more of a fight than I thought," Deidara winced as the adrenaline faded away and the nerves in his left arm alerted him that the bones were completely crushed. "I finally got him by slipping tiny bombs into his sand while my arm was being dismembered, yeah."
"Smart, for a bomb master who doesn't have the right perspective on art."
"Art is a fleeting moment of beauty! Yeah!"
"No, art is something that is preserved and lasts forever,"
Sasori argued. They kept bickering as they went into the desert, unaware of the
Kazekage's brother subtly following their tracks. They made sure to make shadow
clones and leave different trails, but they couldn't replicate the sand that
was falling off of their victim's body.
"Don't worry, Gaara, I'm coming," said Kankuro as he followed the trail of his brother's demon sand. A messenger bird flew overhead, heading to Konohagakure. "If anything, Naruto will help."