Chapter 1-The Heir
She saw him the first time in the village, on her way to work from home. She'd heard that he'd just returned not long ago and she needed to see him, she needed his protection, of all people. The irony of the situation was not lost on her. He'd betrayed the village, killed his own brother and yet she needed his protection. No, not her, it was her son who needed his protection. She gathered her courage and turned to follow him, hoping he was going home where there would be no witnesses to her shame and confession.
"Why are you following me?" His voice was angry and he sounded displeased. It was obvious that he'd prefer to be alone. They were close to his home now and there were fewer people around.
She pushed her son behind her as if to hide him. "Please. You're Uchiha-sama, right?"
"And if I am?" His arrogance was apparent in his voice. She flinched at the hatred in it. "What business do you have with me? Do I even know you?" His eyes narrowed as he looked at her, trying to place her.
"No. You don't know me. I'm sorry." She bowed her head in respect and an attempt to soothe his temper. "I need you're protection. No, that's not quite it. He," she pulled her son out from behind her now, "he needs your protection."
The man in front of her looked at her suspiciously. "Why does he need my protection? If you're in trouble then you should go to the Hokage. You're a civilian, aren't you? What sort of trouble can I protect you from?"
"Please, Uchiha-sama. Please just listen."
He turned to walk away. "No. I'm tired from training. Leave me alone."
"Sasuke!" She screamed it so loud that she was sure the entire village had heard her plea. "You must help! You're the only one!"
He turned back, memories of someone else hollering his name as he walked away flashed through his mind. "How dare you! I don't even know you and yet you assume to approach me and ask for help, protection even! And you address me as a friend!"
"Please!" Tears pricked at her eyes as she held her son close to her. "Please, just listen for one minute and then if you tell me to leave again, I will."
"Fine! If that's what it takes to make you leave me alone." He turned to walk back to her.
She looked around nervously, there were people approaching on the road behind her although it didn't seem that they were headed to them specifically, perhaps her scream hadn't been as loud as she'd thought. "Not here. Somewhere more private. Please?" Her eyes begged him for deference.
"Come on. Follow me." And he resumed walking towards home. When they had passed through the entry that marked the abandoned Uchiha compound he turned back to her. "Will this work?"
"Yes, of course." She tipped her head down too frightened to make eye contact with him now. She knew this was her only chance to gain protection for her son. She looked at him, dark hair falling over his eyes ever so slightly, pale skin, even at 5 he was beginning to look like his father and he was beautiful to her, she would do anything she could to protect him. "Shisui, come here."
Sasuke froze. "What did you call him?" His voice was icy. "How dare you use that name!"
"Please! You promised me you'd listen. No, you don't even need to listen, just look!" Her voice was desperate as she looked up and made eye contact with the angry man in front of her, she was shocked, and a little frightened to see the sharingan activated. He was strong, and angry, she knew full well that he could kill her right where she stood. She pulled her son closer to her. "Shisui, look at the mans eyes, show him."
Sasuke watched as the boy slowly looked up at him and inhaled sharply as sharingan met sharingan. "How?" He was stunned, he was the last surviving Uchiha, how did this boy have the sharingan? "How did you do this? What trickery have you used?" He scanned the boy and the woman before him looking for some sort of ninjutsu or genjutsu deceit but there was none. In fact the woman herself had very small chakra stores, as you'd expect from a civilian. The boy had larger ones but he could tell it was the effect of activating the sharingan. "When did it activate?"
"Yesterday, he was fighting with a few boys at the playground. He's teased a lot because he has no father to protect him." She was quiet but feeling safer now. He understood her sons need for protection now.
"Whose child is he? Not mine." Sasuke watched her for deceit but she looked up at him, face clear and peaceful for the first time since she'd started bothering him.
"You probably won't like the answer." She looked him in the eye. "He's Itachi's son." She waited for the full weight of her words to settle on him.
"Impossible. He's dead." He dismissed her statement but waited to see how she would respond. There was no doubt in his mind that the boy was an Uchiha, he just needed to find out how.
"He wasn't 6 years ago." Her voice was distant as if remembering a time that she wished to return to.
"And six years ago he didn't live in the village. He was a member of the Akatsuki. Explain to me why you believe this boy is his son." The arrogance was back in his voice again.
"Because Itachi, you're brother, is the only man I've ever been intimate with." Tears pricked at her eyes again but she fought them back. She wished it was Itachi standing before her instead of this man, she missed him.
"Come on. I'm hungry and I want to hear your story." Sasuke turned to walk away and she followed holding tightly to Shisui's hand.
When they arrived at a house which looked as if it had recently been fixed up some he opened the door and indicated she should follow. He led her through a very traditional looking room into the kitchen where he put some water on to boil and began pulling food out to prepare it. "Are you hungry?" His question was actually more of a statement but she nodded anyway. "So talk. What's your name anyway?"
"I'm Minori. My parents own the sweet dumpling shop in the village."
"How did you meet my brother?"
"When he was here...before he left, he and his friends would come into the shop and eat. He'd always smile at me, he was so kind."
Sasuke looked at her disbelievingly, this was Itachi she was describing but then he remembered what he'd been like before the massacre. "But that was ten years ago. How old are you?"
She flinched at the angry, dismissive tone in his voice. "I'm 23. I was 12 then. You don't have to tell me when he stopped coming to the shop, I noticed. But it wasn't until later that I knew why."
"So what happened? How did you come to have his child?" Sasuke was tired and he sat down at the table, pouring tea for them both while he did.
Her eyes got a faraway look in them. "I was 17 and I thought I was invincible. My father had warned me to never leave the village walls but I was sure he was wrong. I learned just how right he was that day." Her gaze drifted out the window as the memories she had hidden away all these years came flooding back.
"I left the village and wandered through the forest, I was out almost all day and when I noticed the sun setting I decided I should head back but I was lost. I wasn't afraid, I live in a village full of ninja, I assumed I would find one and they would lead me back. Instead I was caught by two men wandering in the forest on their way to Iwagakure. At first they thought they'd have their fun with me and leave me but when they found out that I was a... umm," she blushed a little, "...inexperienced they decided instead that they could sell me so they took me captive." The fear she had felt that night showed in her face as Sasuke watched her.
"I traveled with them for two days desperately trying to figure a way out. On the second night my chance came. They'd camped for the night in a small cave. Just after dark they heard voices and one of them left to investigate. The other one stayed and watched me. When he came back he was nervous. He said he thought it was two Akatsuki but he didn't recognize them, he'd only seen their cloaks. They were talking and I saw my chance so I ran. I actually got quite a distance before I heard them yell and try to come after me. I was terrified but I ran amongst the stones that were scattered at the base of the cliff they'd found a cave in. I thought to hide in one that was dark." She smiled at the memories. "Imagine my surprise when I darted into one only to run into another man." She looked at Sasuke with a smile on her face.
"It was Itachi?"
"Yes. He grabbed me to keep me from falling down."
"Whoa there. Are you ok?" Itachi steadied the clearly flustered girl who promptly clung to him and started crying softly into his shoulder.
"Please help me." She looked up at him in the dark. "Please?"
The man snorted, "And why would I do that?"
"I..I don't know. But please?" She clung more fiercely to him. "Those men you hear, they kidnapped me, they're taking me somewhere to sell. Please."
"Shhh, ok be quiet." He listened for the men she was talking about. "Where are you from?"
"Konoha." She felt him stiffen at her answer and hoped she'd not said the wrong thing.
"Fine. Come on." He beckoned her in the dim light further into the cave when they rounded a curve in it she was surprised to see a small fire and a bedroll. He sat down by the fire and indicated she should do the same. "Konoha, huh? What are the chances?"
In the firelight I could see what I hadn't been able to see in the dark. His Akatsuki cloak and the Konoha headband, of course I didn't know then what the cloak signified. I also saw who it was I had inadvertently run into.
"Uchiha-san? You, you're Itachi Uchiha. Aren't you?"
He stiffened at her recognition. "I am. And you are?" His gaze indicated impatience and a certain aloofness.
"I'm Minori." She watched him, wondering why he seemed so different. "My parents own the sweet dumpling shop. You used to always come in and I'd wait on you. You stopped coming in, why?"
Recognition dawned in his eyes as he realized he did know her. "I left the village." He offered no further explanation.
"Will you..." Her voice faltered. "Will you help me get home?" Her eyes pleaded with him.
He sighed, "Yes. But we won't leave until morning. I need rest."
"Thank you Uchiha-san."
"Please, call me Itachi." With that he lay back, grabbing his pack to use as a pillow. "You can have the bedroll." And he fell asleep.
"Interesting. But that doesn't explain how you came to have his son." Sasuke was interested but feigned boredom and disinterest to this strange woman before him.
"It was the second night we were traveling. We'd traveled all day. He barely spoke to me and I respected his desire for quiet but that night when we made camp.
"We'll stop here for the night. You'll be back in Konoha tomorrow. You know I won't be able to walk you all the way to the village?"
"Just the road entering it will be fine. Thank you."
"We ate, he had some food in his pack, and then settled down by the fire he'd made. He asked me about how I'd come to be in my predicament and I told him. He was so beautiful. The fire reflected off of his skin and his hair hung softly around his face." Her gaze drifted away again as she remembered him. "Anyway as we talked he became more friendly. I don't mean we were friends but he listened and asked me questions. He never spoke about himself. It got chilly that night. I guess the cave had protected us from the evening chill the night before."
She shivered with the cold of night descending on them. Itachi beckoned her to sit closer to him and wrapped the edge of his cloak around her.
"Thank you." She said it quietly and leaned into his warmth. Their hands touched between them and she glanced up at him sharply. His face was still and expressionless but his body was stiff and he seemed agitated. "Itachi?" He turned his head to look at her, their faces very close. "Is something wrong?"
He gazed into her eyes for a long time. "No."
She shivered again and he put his arm around her shoulders to draw her into his body's heat further. She looked up at him, his profile was magnificent. "You are so beautiful." She breathed it out so quietly that she didn't think he would have heard her.
"What did you say?" He looked at her again.
She looked at him, unafraid. "I said that you're beautiful."
"You don't know me. You don't know the things I've done." He watched her eyes.
"I don't care. I love you Itachi. I always have. You always smiled at me in the shop. I was just a young girl, of no consequence, but you were kind to me." She leaned up closer to him and when she did he leaned down to kiss her. It was gentle kiss, his lips just brushing hers but when she pressed into him it became deeper. He shifted so that they were facing each other and he could hold her more closely. He pulled away for a moment.
"I'm not a nice person anymore Minori."
"I don't care." And she closed the distance between them again.
"He made me a woman that night. I've never felt so loved, before or since. He was everything I knew he could be, gentle, sweet, caring. He held me until the sun had risen and then we got up. I knew this was it, that I'd never see him again."
He looked up at her from where he was packing up the bedroll. "Yes?"
"Take me with you."
"I can't Minori. You don't belong where I'm going. You need to return to Konoha."
"I don't care about belonging. I can't live without you! I love you!"
"You only love what you know of me. I'm not the person you think I am. Trust me." Itachi wouldn't make eye contact with her.
"Do you love me?"
At this he came over to her and stood in front of her, pulling her into his arms he held her close. "I..I don't know Minori. I only know that where I'm going you can't come. You don't belong in that world, you'd only get hurt." And he pushed her away.
"He did as he said he would. He brought me to the road that leads into Konoha and watched as I walked away. I've never cried as much as I did that day. He said he'd watch me to be sure I was safe and I suppose he did. Anyway I made it to the gates, still crying. The guards there called for my parents and everyone wanted to know where I'd been." She looked up at Sasuke now, tears streaming down her face. "I never told them about him. I told them about my foolishness in leaving the village and the kidnappers but I never told them how I'd managed to return. They were all so happy I was ok that they never asked how. I never told them that I'd fallen in love with Itachi Uchiha."
Sasuke shifted, uncomfortable in his seat . "That was how long ago?"
"About 6 years. You'd left, where ever you went. I don't keep up on ninja business. I did quietly inquire as to why the Uchiha's didn't visit the dumpling shop anymore. That was when I learned about the massacre." At the mention of this Sasuke bristled and she gave him a gentle look. "I'm so sorry. And I learned what it meant to be an Akatsuki. He was right, you know? I wouldn't have fit in in his world." She smiled sadly. "And I hoped that he'd come back until I heard the news that he was dead."
"What about the baby? What did you tell people?"
"Well, everyone assumed that I'd been raped and that the baby was a result of that. I knew the truth but who could I tell? The Uchiha's weren't exactly a popular bunch at the time. I've hidden this secret the whole time. I'm the only one who knows. When you came back I thought about telling you but you aren't exactly approachable. And how would I have proved it to you?"
"But when he activated his sharingan yesterday I knew the time had come. I knew he needed protection. Who knows what people will say if they find out he's Itachi's son? Who knows what they will do when they find out the truth about me? We need you Uchiha-san."
"Sasuke. Call me Sasuke."
"Sasuke. He needs you. You need him. You want to rebuild your clan? Well, he's a start, even if he is your brothers child. I don't want anything for myself, other than to be a part of his life."
Sasuke observed the woman in front of him. He found respect for her growing inside of him. She'd withstood a lot for her son. "Why did you name him Shisui?"
"Because as I asked around I heard that Shisui was Itachi's best friend. When people asked I simply feigned ignorance at the association. They had no reason to believe that I had an ulterior motive." She looked at the man before her. "Will you help us?"
Sasuke looked at her, she was frightened but confident, he sighed deeply. "Yes. I'll have to talk to the Hokage first and explain all that you've told me. You'll probably have to be there as well, and Shisui." He looked at the boy for the first time since seeing his sharingan. He could see Itachi in him and wondered how anyone had missed it. "I'll find a place here, on the compound for you to live with him and I will acknowledge him," here he faltered a little, "as my nephew and the current heir to the Uchiha clan."
Minori breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank you Sasuke. I'll do anything I can."