Author: Akatsuki210 PM
His destruction will be his brother's salvation, and that is all he asks. Crossover with Sandman.Rated: Fiction T - English - Family/Tragedy - & Itachi U. - Words: 2,608 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 7 - Published: 07-04-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7146856
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, Sandman, or any of the characters in either series.
The day after he destroys his clan, Itachi collapses in the forest just over the border of the Wind Country. His vision is blurred and his head is spinning. From the corner of his eye, he glimpses a dark shape and reaches for a kunai. He manages to get to his feet, but his sight is still distorted: he can't tell if there is one figure or three standing before him.
"Leave me alone," he commands.
"No," it or they respond. The being (beings?) disappear, which at first seems contrary to their statement. But then Itachi hears a whisper in his ear, and he whirls around. It only makes the vertigo worse, and there's no one there at all.
But the words are still echoing in his head.
We will never leave.
"There's an organization I've formed," Madara tells him. "Your skills would be very valuable to them, and they could protect you from the ANBU."
"ANBU won't come after me. The Hokage will find reasons not to send them."
"The regular ANBU, maybe, but do you really trust Danzou to keep his word? He'll send Root, you mark my words."
In truth, Itachi isn't concerned about a few ANBU, Root or not. But he is concerned about whatever Madara's planning, and this organization must have some part in the old man's schemes. So he nods and says, "Perhaps it would be...prudent...to ally myself with other powerful shinobi."
Madara seems satisfied, and tells Itachi to head for the Hidden Rain Village. Then he disappears, apparently into thin air.
Itachi's eyes burn as if he's poured something corrosive into them, but he doesn't deactivate his Sharingan. He's already one of the strongest shinobi in the world, but he has to get even stronger if he wants to foil Madara's plans. So he forces his Bloodline Limit to remain active, even as tears pour from his eyes and dark spots float across his field of vision.
And in that wavery, distorted sight, he sees the figures again.
There are definitely three of them this time, although their bodies are joined. Or maybe it's just that the scarves and veils they wear are wrapping around each other so closely that their bodies only appear to merge together. Although Itachi's in a closed room, a breeze seems to blow around them, pushing their veils aside so that he can catch glimpses of their faces. One is old, one is young, and one is middle-aged. All three are female.
"Who are you?" he asks them.
There is no answer.
"Why are you here? Do you intend me harm?" He draws a kunai and throws it at the woman in the middle, the young one...or is it? They seem to be constantly switching places, so that the young woman is in the middle as the kunai leaves his hand, but the old woman has taken her place by the time it reaches them. It sails harmlessly through the elderly woman's forehead, and embeds itself in the wall behind her.
Intangibility jutsu? His Sharingan spins to trap the old woman in an illusion. "Tell me what you know. Who are you, and why are you here?"
The old woman only laughs, and all three of them fade away like a mirage. Once again, he hears their reply in his mind after they're gone, and this time he can make out three distinct voices overlapping each other.
We are the Furies (the Eumenides, the Fates, the Kindly Ones), and we are here to destroy you.
Amegakure is a city at war with itself. Madara has told him what to say to the guards who surround him at the edge of the inland sea over which the village is built, and he finds himself being led to the tallest of its towers. Along the way, they pass patrols of soldiers, buildings reduced to rubble, and people in rags huddled in doorways. He hears the sound of a small child bawling somewhere nearby, and as they pass an intersection with a side street, he sees a boy of five or six years old kneeling outside the charred husk of a house. Two bodies covered by sheets lay before it, and a team of ANBU is searching through the debris. A medic-nin is trying to console the bereaved child, but without success. Itachi's stomach churns, and he doubles over, trying to keep from being sick.
"Are you okay, Uchiha-san?" One of the Rain-nin escorting him peers into his face. Itachi gains control of himself and straightens up.
"I am fine," he assures the guard. The three women are standing right behind the other man, staring at Itachi over his shoulders, but he doesn't seem to notice their presence. The other guards are likewise oblivious.
The middle-aged woman points at the crying child. "You did this," she tells him.
"I..." Itachi starts to speak, then stops, unsure of how the guards will react if he starts talking to people that they apparently can't see. What he wants to say is, I didn't do this! I've never been to this village before, and I've never seen that child in my life.
Although he's said none of this out loud, the women seem to know that he's thinking it, because they shake their heads in unison. "You did this," the middle-aged one repeats.
"You did this to your brother, whom you ought to have protected," the young one elaborates.
"The blood of the man who sired you and the woman who bore you runs over your hands," the old woman tells him, "and the boy who shares your lineage is left alone."
Meanwhile, Itachi's escorts are looking at him curiously. "Are you sure you're all right, Uchiha-san?" one of them asks.
"Yes," Itachi says firmly, even though he's quite sure that he's very, very far from all right. "I am simply tired from traveling."
"Of course," the guard says. "In that case, we should bring you to Pain-sama as quickly as possible, so that you can conduct your business with him and then rest."
Itachi nods his agreement, and they set off again. He glances back over his shoulder and sees that the three women follow them for a short time before turning a corner and disappearing from view.
"I am looking for something," Itachi tells the genin behind the desk. Like every shinobi village, Ame has an extensive library of jutsu scrolls and books on the theory of chakra manipulation. As a member of Akatsuki, he has access to everything, even those jutsu normally considered forbidden.
The genin recognizes Itachi's cloak and bows so low that he almost bangs his forehead on the desk. "Of course, Akatsuki-san! Please don't hesitate to let me know if you need any assistance. The place is a bit-" He waves his hand to indicate the shelves and tables behind him. "-Disorganized. What with the war having just ended, we haven't yet incorporated everything that was captured from Hanzou's strongholds. A lot of things have just been stored wherever there's room."
"I'm sure I will be able to find my way around, thank you." Itachi wanders among the scrolls and books, searching for the oldest and most obscure among them.
He's had a few more sightings of the three women during the years that he's been part of Akatsuki, and they're always accompanied by changes in his vision or other physical symptoms. It's clear to him that the toll the Mangekyou Sharingan takes on the body is greater than just deterioration of sight. It's a fact that Madara didn't bother to tell him. He certainly didn't tell Itachi that hallucinations were part of the deal.
Of course, the Sharingan allows its user to see things that others can't, and it's entirely possible that the Mangekyou Sharingan grants a further enhancement. Is it possible that, rather than hallucinations induced by his illness, the specters that haunt him are real beings that he can only see because of the Mangekyou? After all, the Fourth Hokage summoned the Shinigami and there are bijuu wandering the world. Only a fool would deny the existence of the supernatural, and Itachi thinks that he's heard the names the three women gave themselves somewhere before.
He reads through dusty scroll after dusty scroll, learning a few potentially interesting kinjutsu along the way, but not finding anything about three mysterious women who berate men for their wrongdoings. Finally, at the bottom of a box containing materials captured from Hanzou's men, he finds a tattered old book describing various mythical beings. There are entries on the yuki-onna and noppera-bo and tanuki, strange creatures that Itachi remembers hearing about in the folktales that Shisui used to take such delight in relating to him. In this book he finds a drawing of three women joined at the waist. Like the women he's encountered, one is old, one young, and one in between. Variations on their tale exist in nearly every land, from Stone to Iron to the continent far to the east, beyond the Wave Country. In one version, they punish those who have committed particularly heinous crimes, and especially the crime of killing a kinsman.
"So, you have learned about us, then?" The voice is coming from directly across the small table, and Itachi looks up with a start. Even with his enhanced senses, he hasn't detected anyone approaching. The three women are standing before him, their faces blank. They don't seem at all frightened or angry that he's uncovered their identity.
"Yes, I have," Itachi says, addressing the one who spoke.
"Ooh, this mortal is clever," says one of the others. "But cleverness didn't save Orestes or the Dreamlord. What makes you think it will save you?"
Itachi raises an eyebrow. "I wasn't aware that my life was in danger. I was under the impression that you and your sisters didn't kill."
One of them laughs. "That is true, but there are more ways of destroying a man than just killing him."
Itachi sometimes wonders if Pain and Madara can see the spectral women that follow him around. For that matter, do they follow Madara around too?
He asks the women about Madara when he sees them next. He's standing watch on the roof of the inn where he and Kisame are staying, and the moonlight casts an eerie glow over the silent village.
"Of course we know Uchiha Madara," the old woman cackles. "We've been his companions for far longer than we've been yours, though it's been some time since we visited him."
"You do not seem to have been very effective at destroying him," Itachi points out reasonably.
"We told you before," says the middle-aged one, "there are more ways of destroying a man than killing him."
"Yes. I have read that in the tales about you. They say you drive your victims to suicide or insanity. So why do you not pursue Madara as you do me?"
The young one shrugs. "Because Madara is already mad and rushing towards his own destruction, and so there's nothing more for us to do."
The appearance of the three women has forced Itachi to reconsider his plans. If what he's read is true, those whom the Kindly Ones choose to target are fated to meet a terrible end. The problem, of course, is that his plan calls for Sasuke to commit exactly the act that will bring the women down on him like...well, like the Furies. And yet, if Sasuke doesn't kill him, he will always have the specter of his unavenged family lurking in the back of his mind, perhaps driving him onward to the same fate that the Furies visit upon their victims.
After much thought, he hits upon a modification of his plan that will allow Sasuke to avenge their family without being pursued by the spirits that seem to haunt him more and more often lately. It will require precise knowledge of his own limits and exquisite timing, but he isn't an S-ranked genius for nothing, right?
They're there at the very end.
They'd been there through the whole battle, watching intently, as if they knew that their purpose would come to fruition at this time and in this place.
Nothing-not Amaterasu or Goryuuka or Kirin-had seemed to faze them. Stone cracked and trees fell, and every piece of debris simply slid to one side or the other, leaving them unscathed. It was as if an invisible barrier surrounded them, separating them from the world.
Madness or suicide, sometimes both. Those are the calamities that befall those who attract the wrath of the Furies. Well, Itachi supposes this is suicide of a sort. He knows full well what the burning sensation in his limbs, the slow dissolution of his vision, and the increasing difficulty of his breathing mean. As he'd intended, this battle has been strenuous enough to accelerate the progress of his already-terminal disease, and the fact that he hadn't taken any of the medicines prepared for him by Rain's medic-nin over the past week isn't helping either. His calculations had been exactly correct. He and Sasuke are both on the verge of collapse, but Sasuke will recover and he will not. But in a very real sense, it can't be said that Sasuke has killed him, because Sasuke's backed up against a wall, all his chakra gone and his sword lying uselessly on the ground next to him. Itachi's death might have been hurried along by Sasuke, but the final blow will be dealt by his own failing body.
So yes, this is suicide, if one is willing to stretch the definition a little.
And madness? That also depends on the definition one wishes to use. After all, most people who know the name "Uchiha Itachi" certainly don't consider him sane.
He looks up at the sky, with its deep gray thunderclouds and pouring rain. He would have preferred his last view of the sky to be a clear and glorious blue, but he'll take what he can get. And perhaps the rain is appropriate, in a way. It washes away all the pain and the sorrow and the mistakes of the past, making way for the bright and beautiful future that is to come.
He manages to turn his head ever so slightly to the side, to where they are standing. "You see?" says the old woman. "We've destroyed you."
Itachi thinks that this is quite true. But his destruction is his brother's salvation, so he mouths the words he no longer has the strength to speak out loud. The Kindly Ones seem surprised, possibly because no one's ever said this to them before.
A/N: I thought about adding this to "Dreams of the Will of Fire", but it's been so long since I finished that collection that I decided to make this a separate one-shot instead.
The title of this story is another of the names for the Furies.