Stamping on Butterflies
Chapter 17 – Interval
Brief summary of key points in story so far from Chapters 1 – 16:
Nanami, at 2, gains her memory of a previous life.
When she's 3 Neji gets the curse seal.
Hisashi gets killed after Hinata's kidnapping instead of Hizashi and as a result had to take his brothers place as head of the Hyuuga with only the elders of the clan knowing.
Nanami, unfortunately, recognizes her father and received the curse seal on her neck to stop her from speaking about the swap (as she's the only branch family member without one) …but could there possibly be another reason?
At 5 she starts school and makes friends with Naruto, Sasuke, Shikamaru and Choji. Meanwhile she plays Shoji with her father on Sundays. She also meets Shikaku and Itachi.
At 6 Nanami discovers that she has deformed chakra coils because of an "unknown" spiritual change when she was a very young child (her memories from her past life came back) and thus she will not be able to perform much ninjutsu.
At 8 she gets informed that an arranged marriage has been decided but because of the delicate state of affaires the match will not be announced until they both come of age at 18.
She realizes that the Uchiha massacre didn't take place.
Nana then gets recruited by T&I and is partnered and starts training with Yoda.
In preparation for her new job she begins training with Inoichi.
At 11 she becomes a genin and believes that Sasuke will be her future husband.
For a year she works in T&I with Yoda as her partner but when an interrogation turns sour she is given an undercover mission concerning Kabuto.
Nana and Neji have a huge falling out.
The rookie 9 become genin.
She works with team 13 for 6 months, uncovers that they are spies, and has been ordered to eliminate her target.
During the Chunin exams she eliminates Kabuto and allows for Yoroi to get captured. Itachi saves her and begins to get suspicious.
The preliminary exams pass with a few changes but nothing extreme. During Hinata and Neji's fight Nanami interferes and faces Neji. When he throws hash words at her she breaks and runs away.
The month between the preliminary and exams Nanami gets better, talks with Shikamaru and Inoichi, has an interesting discussion with Gaara about friends and family and reassures Itachi of her health.
During the 3rd round of the exams Neji is knocked down a peg by Naruto who shows him how great and loving Nanami is.
Neji and Hizashi talk.
The Suna invasion has happened and Itachi killed Orochimaru. The third Hokage died.
Nanami fought in the war and was badly injured.
Nanami's mission was revealed to her closest friends. Neji and Nanami made up and Neji began to make peace with his fathers death.
Naruto got Tsunade who became Hokage and met Nanami.
Shisui's character was introduced.
Nanami and Shikamaru became a chunin.
ROOT tried to recruit Nanami.
"Winds in the east, there's a mist comin' in
Like somethin' is brewin' and 'bout to begin.
Can't put me finger on what lies in store,
But I feel what's to happen all happened before."
- Mary Poppins
Hizashi looked out from his position on the porch of the main house with a tired sigh. Nanami, Neji and Hinata were in the courtyard together enjoying away their Saturday afternoon in each others presence. Hinata and Neji were currently in competition with one another, Neji having the upper hand as usual, but Hinata was warding him off affectively enough. Nanami sat to the side with a cup of tea and a thick book in her lap completely ignoring the fight and instead finding joy in the written word.
Hizashi frowned. Like most times when he looked upon his daughter and son the clan head felt grim guilt begin to fester far within himself where it was most unwelcome.
Neji had just made Chunin the pervious month and although his father wished to congratulate him on his success and tell him how proud he was of his son, he could not. All Neji had received was an official acknowledgement and a stoic congratulation from the clan head. Nanami, for what it was worth, made a huge fuss over her brother causing the boy to blush and stutter tremendously at the praise and commotion Nanami had gathered together to celebrate Neji's achievement.
It had been just over a year since the invasion and Nanami's safe return to within the clan walls. Hizashi would be lying to himself (not that he ever would as he would certainly not be one to live in a false view of anything) if he said those months where his daughter was not in his immediate sight weren't unsettling.
Nanami was different from all the other children her age; in all honesty she was very different from anybody Hizashi had ever had the displeasure of encountering. She wasn't a genius, that had been very clear early on, but there was something about his child that both seemed to unnerve and unsettle people and at the same time drew them in warmly and seemingly utterly without their notice. Even he found that he enjoyed her company unusually more than he did others, and although nepotism could be playing a rather telling part in his opinion, he found she was one of the few people he could tolerate and care for. Unsurprising really considering she was his flesh and blood and the only other person, besides from the Hyuuga clan elders and late Third Hokage, who knew of his true identity.
It wasn't a wonder why she flourished as she did underneath the careful tutelage of the Intelligence division. Quick with her wit, fast on her feet and foolishly compassionate and understanding meant she could see and work with people like a child gently caring for its favorite toy. This was very, very unusual for a Hyuuga, a clan who typically had some sort of social dysfunction; whether it be rudeness, snobbery, shyness or impatience there was always something that meant they were ill suited to positions where one must interact with people on an emotional level. Power they could handle but people were an entirely foreign and unpleasant experience.
Granted, those such as Hinata would be perfect for any position of care giver or guardian, but her own shyness continued to hold her back from reaching any notable goals in said fields.
She could be a respectable medic one day if not for her duty to her clan, Hizashi thought stoically. Just like my brother would have made a talented teacher.
Hizashi banished the heavy thoughts from his mind with a light frown and a straightening of the back, attempting to concentrate on the present more forcefully. He looked back to his daughter, who was now shouting something at her cousin and brother causing the two to stop and address her curiously. From his vantage point Hizashi was not privy to their conversation but by the way Neji turned back to the fight quickly and with pink ears and the impish grin gracing Nanami's face unapologetically, the clan head could infer that Nanami had made a joke. The young girl threw her head back and laughed openly while at the same time the cup of tea she held in her right hand began to slip from her grasp without her notice and landed in her lap. She let out a yelp in surprise as the hot liquid scolded her but didn't seem hurt from the contact. She was simply despondent about losing her tea.
Hizashi sighed in silent despair at his daughter's rouge humor and total disregard for etiquette and decorum.
Neji saw the spillage and walked quickly to his sister's side, checking she was indeed not hurt and scolding her for her recklessness. Nanami calmed her brother down with one look and a dismissive wave. Since Neji's rise and fall from bitterness and self-destruction he had been unusually attentive to his sister and increasingly concerned with her goings on. Understandably he'd been very unhappy at Nanami's return to torture and interrogation but the young girl was having none of her brother's fussing and put him straight.
Hizashi had been the same; having a brief conversation about whether she wished to leave the intelligence division, but his daughter remained firm with her opinion. It was not stubbornness as such but more of an ingrained determination to prove oneself and grow that which was already blooming and ready for nurturing and growth.
When Ibiki had approached him with the undercover mission more than 18 months ago he hadn't hesitated in giving his answer.
The head of Torture and Interrogation had warned that it would be a grueling task for the young girl but well within her capabilities. What would be the truly challenging part for her would be the disconnection from her friends and family and the isolation that came hand in hand with any undercover assignment. Hizashi had agreed to the conditions almost instantly; how could he not?
He new his daughter and knew her devotion for that which she loved and she certainly loved her village. Hizashi, over the past few years, had spent a long time contemplating whether Nanami loved her village or her clan more. But the thoughts were futile because her clan was part of her village and the Hyuuga's, being loyal Konoha shinobi themselves, would never place her in a situation where she would have to choose.
An image of the Uchiha crest flicked through his mind but the with ample mental strength the clan head refused to think on such things. There was a contingency plan for such a situation and thus he need not worry, and besides he trusted his daughter irrevocably anyway and so the matter was invalid.
The three young members of the doujutsu clan continued to work and train that afternoon but by the time the sun began to sink and all that was left was an iridescent glow over the trees, Hizahsi called for his daughter.
She floated into his study calmly enough and a stood before Hiizashi with a pleasant smile of expectation. She knew the proceedings of conversation with him well enough by now. The familiarity of it almost made him smile.
"How are you?" Hizashi asked, not looking up from his work but still paying his full attention to his daughter and barely seeing the printed documents beneath his hands. The clan mission taxes and civilian wages were second priority at that moment. He kept his eyes on the desk, pretending to read something, not because he wanted to mislead Nanami but because he did not wish to looking into the understanding eyes of his child. She knew why she was here.
"Well enough," said the girl as she shrugged nonchalantly and seemed to find her vague answer amusing.
"And your brother?" questioned Hizashi, hoping for an informative answer for once.
"Why don't you ask him yourself?" counteracted his daughter, a clear underlying disapproval lacing her point.
This was a game that Nanami liked to play with him that and, depending on his mood, it could amuse him or set his teeth very tightly on edge. This was one of the latter times.
"Nanami," he said harshly, not prepared to humor her games and not wishing to prolong the inevitable longer than necessary.
"Yes?" she responded quickly and with sharp, intelligent eyes that it was easy to forget hiding underneath the exaggerated smiles and cheeky wit.
It was a spark of something else; something he'd never come across before. The rebelliousness he couldn't pin down, as it had never been known among the Hyuuga. Her mother, Hizashi's dearly departed wife, had been the quiet and stoic type of woman, albeit not a particularly talented shinobi, and had only pure devotion and unquestionable loyalty that overshadowed all other parts of her personality. Hizashi, as was obvious, had none of the outspoken cheek his child possessed. It was baffling to the clan head how he had fathered such a boisterous girl. She was certainly his but he couldn't help but wonder…
"You look stressed," commented Nanami as she moved forward and peered at his desk, looking over his paper work casually with curiosity. Hizashi pulled the papers into a pile and looked disapprovingly at Nanami. "I thought Tsunade was being fair?" said the girl, obviously having caught sight of a letter of complaint to the Hokage.
"Both the clan elders and the Hokage are… being difficult," Hizashi said delicately.
"Sasuke said the Uchiha were demanding more from Tsunade as well." The flippant comment that subtly implied many things about both the doujutsu clans caused Hizashi's eye to tick unintentionally. Nanami stood studying her father's reaction and he tried his best not to rise to the bate. Her sharpness was unnerving at times.
"Unsurprising," he said stiffly.
Nanami 'hmm'd' but didn't comment on her father lack of reaction, simply staring at her hands in deep thought. Hizashi let out a quick and final sigh as he watched the cogs in his daughter head turn and click in unfathomable ways that put together unlikely but frighteningly accurate conclusions. Nana had always taken a particularly strong interest in the Uchiha clan and their dealings with the village. Hizashi had his suspicions that she knew she would one day be a part of the sharingan clan.
But he was diverging from the necessary task at hand.
"Nanami," he stated seriously, drawing the young chunin's attention forcefully. "Your seal…" Hizashi drifted off at the end of his sentence as he tilted his head forward, urging Nanami to understand what he was saying and spare him of the need to explain.
"I know. Neji said something about this last year after the exams. Is it the same thing?" said the girl as if she were commenting on her choice of clothing and not the cage that was imprinted on her skin.
"Almost," but Hizashi did not elaborate and his voice was unusually soft. Hizashi stood, walked around the mahogany desk and beckoned Nanami to approach him and expose the back of her neck. She did as she was bid without hesitance and an unsettling feeling came over the clan head, but he was determined to complete the task at hand. He had done this procedure countless times with other branch family members, but having been in their position before he understood the inevitable bitterness and shame that came with handing yourself so completely and willingly to those who removed your freedom forcefully in the first place.
Reaching out Hizashi laid a steady hand on the back of Nanami's neck and, not hesitating, sent a controlled burst of chakra into the seal. What he found both caused him great relief but was mildly unsettling.
Her seal was fully functioning and needed no adjustment; it was in perfect working condition as the day it had been placed. Another closely guarded secret of the caged bird seal was that the more the wearer fought their fate, the more the seal fought back, and a slight and damaging imprint could be detected.
It would seem Nanami had barely had a day of rebellion in her life and had never had any sort of malicious intent towards the clan. She had more right than most to hate her family and yet before his eyes was living proof that she felt no ill will to those who had taken away her freedom.
Was it understanding or acceptance? Both made him feel ashamed and ill and he removed his hand quickly from the seal as if it had burned him.
Hizashi swallowed heavily and turned himself away, hiding his expression from his daughter
"Do you need anything else or was that it?" asked the girl turning around, her voice laced with impatience as she was clearly eager to leave.
"You may leave," he said without emotion.
Hizashi did not turn, knowing he would give too much away were he to meet his daughter's eyes.
Nanami walked away none the wiser to the inner turmoil that battled within her father's heart. Hizashi knew that he was one of the rare few that Nanami could not read like a book and that she spent most of her time in his presence permanently perplexed about his motivation and mind games. Had she looked more objectively at her father she might have realized something strange, albeit not unsurprising, about the reasoning and rationalization behind all of his actions that would explain his complexities without the wearisome need to psychoanalyze said subject, or look deeply into hidden plots that did not exist.
Simply, he loved his children.
Hyuuga Nanami was infuriating but amusing. She was frustrating, exasperating and annoying all at once. She was childish but extremely mature, loving and irrevocably loyal. She was stupid but sharply intelligent and, above all else, she was an enigma to everything he expected to come from a Hyuuga – to come from anyone for that matter.
"Naruto! Open up you coward and face me like a man!" said a screaming voice as someone banged on the front door forcefully. Itachi stood up from his bed, having been reading peacefully, and stuck his head out of his bedroom window. He found that, yes, Hyuuga Nanami was indeed standing on his porch. Oddly, though, she seemed soaked to the bone, had raggedy hair and Itachi could practically hear the sound of her teeth grinding together from anger. "I don't care if this is private property. You have 10 seconds to come out here or I'm coming in and I swear to all things righteous and holy that you will pay. You can't hide behind Sasuke forever!"
"Nana go away," drawled Sasuke lazily from the upstairs window as he also stuck his head out and looked down at the soaking girl with distain and narrowed eyes. "If you break anything…" Sasuke left the threat hanging although Itachi doubted that his brother would be able to go through with it. He did, after all, have a soft spot for the unconventional Hyuuga. Not that he'd ever admit it; like he'd never admit that he actually had a crush on his pinked haired teammate.
Oh what was her name…? Oh yes, Sakura, Itachi mused as he smiled to himself and continuing to watch the argument with amusement.
Nanami looked up and glared at her friend viciously and a little put out that he was so obviously taking Naruto's side. "Well then, Sasuke, get Naruto out here right now and your house wont be in the cross fire," snarled the girl as she pointed at said Uchiha angrily.
"He's not in here," Sasuke said stoicly and with as little emotion as the younger brother could suppress, but the twitching of his left eye gave away his untruth. Itachi had no doubt Nanami would have picked up on that.
"If you're going to lie to me Sasuke, at least do it convincingly," said the Hyuuga girl with amused exasperation as if she'd just caught a young child sticking his hand in a cookie jar.
Itachi let a small, unintended chuckle reverberate in his throat as he caught the rather put out look that flickered across his brother's face at his friend's words. Sasuke turned to Itachi with a glare having heard the amused sound, obviously annoyed at his brother's presence, and the older Uchiha wistfully thought of the time when his brother was a young boy and rejoiced at any opportunity to interact with his nii-san.
"Oh don't mind me," Itachi said airily as he lent his elbow on the windowsill and his chin on his hand, looking expectantly at Sasuke to continue on with his conversation.
When Nanami caught sight of Itachi her expression changed instantly. First a smile, she seemed genuinely happy to see the Uchiha heir and something tugged in Itachi at her initial smile, and then a more sinister smile.
"Oh Itachi!" Nanami shouted with an exaggerated wave, "You wouldn't happen to want to help out a poor girl. You seem to have a blond boy hiding in your house. Could you remove him from your premises please?" The girl gave a winning smile that, he was sure, had gotten her out of multiple situations.
"No," Itachi said, laughing quietly to himself. With Nanami there certainly was never a dull moment. "But I could just give you permission to enter the house. Providing you don't break anything…"
Itachi hadn't finished his sentence before Nanami had burst through the door and was stomping inelegantly up the stairs. Itachi was well aware that the Hyuuga girl had the capabilities not to stomp, but felt her dramatics were upsetting his brother and thus Itachi forgave her lack of finesse on a purely entertainment basis. Sasukes eyes widened and he pulled himself back into his room, but not before he turned to glare at his brother with deep irritation.
Itachi found this expression of Sasuke's frightfully amusing. The elder brother remained looking out of the window for a few more moments and let his eyes skim over the green foliage landscape that was Konohagakure. For every house there were at least three trees dotted among the streets and gardens, showering pink blossoms across the paths and the tiled rooves. Itachi had truly never known such a beautiful place. Without his awareness Itachi's pleasant expression dropped from his features with slow exhaustion as he thought about the political side of the village instead of appreciating its landscape.
Things were discontented within the walls of the Village and especially within the Uchiha compound. Since the arranged marriage agreement all those years ago that stunted the Uchiha wrath temporarily, things had again started to escalate. Tsunade was by no means a poor ruler; in fact, she had brought together Konoha in a way it hadn't been united since underneath the fourth. She ruled with strength and conviction worthy of her title and had been dealing with the clans brilliantly; not taking any intimidation or manipulation and simply giving them exactly what they deserved instead of what they demanded. The clans of Konoha thought the system fair enough, with the odd mumble of complaint here and there, considering the poor economical state the hidden leaf found itself in, but from what Itachi had gathered from idle talk the Uchiha and Hyuuga had been the most out spoken about their unhappiness and demands for more money. It was no surprise considering they were the biggest and most influential clan's within Konohagakure.
Along with this the Uchiha had dragged Itachi into the middle of the arguments and put him on a pedestal he didn't believe he truly deserved. Their unhappiness with the sannin hokage was also partly to do with Itachi's own loss of the mantel – not that Itachi was by any means disappointed and felt more relieved the responsibility hadn't been passed onto him.
Itachi knew little of the Hyuuga's opinion but the Uchiha elders believed that their clan was entitled to more royalties and remittances than was distributed them. Since the invasion the money allotted to each clan from the state had been cut down brutally but with the village on the rise again the subsidies had increase. But apparently not enough.
The clan elders didn't seem to fully grasp the extent of Konoha's loses during the Oto and Sun invasion. His father would forever stand against the idea of another coup, he couldn't not after what happened, and as in most clans the words of the leader was law and no one, not even meddling elders, would dispute that. And if something were to happen to Fugaku then Itachi would take his place. However, were both Itachi's father and Itachi to die and Sasuke were to take the position of clan head then things could very easily and quickly go spiraling out of control.
Sasuke was very easily manipulated and would be the puppet of those in power quickly and brutally. Itachi would not let that happen to his little brother under any circumstances and was making a number of personal sacrifices to make sure he didn't see this happen. He loved his clan and he loved his village but most importantly he loved his brother; Itachi sorted out his priorities a long time ago
He would try, with all his heart, to do the right thing. Years ago he had been near blinded by the hopeless situation the Uchiha clan had been under and almost been manipulated into doing something unspeakable. Even with the arranged marriage the prospects didn't look good for the sharingan family and Itachi was driven near mad with indecision and desperation; he would do anything to save his brother. But something had changed his mind, had made him stop and think and evaluate the situation more rationally, and he'd come to the conclusion that the Uchiha clan needed time.
At the end of the day, if it was a question of loyalty, he knew where he stood.
But, nonetheless, it should not come down to that. The joining between the Uchiha and Hyuuga would be able to settle the mutterings and tensions for a while longer until something more could be done to appease the discontented family. All Itachi had to do was create a long term solution.
Could the Uchiha hold out for four more years without some upstart? Unlikely. Would it escalate to another cout'd'at? Fortunately, that was also unlikely, unless the interference of certain council members came to play. Itachi felt tired from the scheming and secrets that came with the life of a Shinobi, especially those of a clan member. He sometimes saw the same feeling reflected back at him from Nanami and because of these rare glances of understanding they sometimes shared, he couldn't help but feel a sort of kindred spirit with the young girl. Not that she knew anything of what was going on politically, but sometimes he felt she knew more than she let one. In fact, she certainly did know multiple things that were beyond her rank. That thought had been sitting in the back of the Uchiha genius' mind for a while now.
Itachi was brought out of his musing as he witnessed his cousin approach the house leisurely. He caught Shisui's eye, gave a halfhearted wave and left his position to go down stairs and welcome his closest friend into his home.
"It was an accident! Nana, stop it!" Naruto shouted somewhere from the living room. Obviously there had been a chase of some description which Itachi had willfully ignored, that landed his brothers teammate and Nanami grappling downstairs.
"An accident?!" screamed the girl rather shrilly. "Ibiki has placed me on cell scrubbing for a month. A MONTH!"
"What is going on here?" asked Shisui as he took off his shoes and placed them by the front door. At this moment Sasuke came running down the stairs, stopping momentarily to in front of the older Uchiha's, giving them a sideways look.
"Fathers here," Sasuke said with a significant look at his brother before continuing on to the living room to break up the childish fight.
"Both of you stop," Itachi heard Sasuke demand with a hiss as him and Shisui moved into the kitchen unit and placed a pot of tea on hob to boil. "You are acting like children."
"Almost like we are still children," came Nanami's voice in a mocking drawl.
"Yeah Sasuke lighten up," Naruto chided in, coming to the support of his friend.
"Hey don't agree with me, I'm angry at you!" There was a thump followed by a a muffled cry of pain, obviously emitted from Naruto.
"Enough!" Sasuke raised his voice slightly, probably attempting to pull the grappling children apart.
"This is partly your fault; you shouldn't have taken his side." Of course Nanami wasn't in the slightest bit intimidated by Sasuke.
"You shouldn't have antagonized him!" he counteracted.
"I didn't, he started it!"
"Well I'm ending it." There was a bang and a girlish cry and then another bang and a more masculine shout of surprise.
"Don't worry Sasuke, I'll save you!" cried Naruto and another loud bang echod through the house.
"It seems the tables have turned on Sasuke," chuckled Shisui, crossing his arms over his chest with a smile. Itachi looked to his cousin with exasperation.
"What is going on here?" said an angry voice reverberating from the living room, echoing Shisui's earlier question. Said Uchiha visibly flinched in, what Itachi guessed, was knowing anticipation at how Fugaku would react to the childish brawl that was surely taking place underneath his roof.
Itachi moved swiftly from the kitchen to the sight of the conflict. He found, to his amusement, Nanami with his brother in a head lock and Naruto clung onto the Hyuuga's leg for dear life. All three of them were still as statures and had a wide eyed, startled look about them as the head of the Uchiha clan stood in the back door with an unhappy scrowl on his face. Before Itachi's father could take another step into the house Nanami had let go of his brother and shook Naruto off her foot with practiced ease, as if she had very often dealt with the two member of team seven in such a way, and Itachi had no doubt that she did.
"My apologies Uchiha-sama," Nanami said with a perfect bow of respect and an even, inflectionless voice, completely different from the childish whine it had been moments before.
Sasuke did not react to the sudden change but Naruto, from his position on the floor, was looking at his Hyuuga friend with outright fascination. He probably rarely seeing her in a situation where decorum and politeness was required, and used to her sarcastic opinions and mischievous looks. Being a Hyuuga meant she would most certainly have been brought up to follow procedure and with the highest respect for tradition and manors – something very foreign to the kyuubi container.
"We were training and it got out of hand," explained the girl with apologetic politeness.
"Hyuuga Nanami," Fugaku said with a nod of acknowledgement and Itachi observed the spark of interest. "I have not seen you since you were a young child. Do not worry yourself. No doubt this is your fault, Uzumaki," said the Uchiha clan head with a sharp look in the direction of the blonde.
Fugaku was not wrong in his guess, but the assuming statement obviously did not sit well with the Hyuuga girl or his brother. Fugakua's hatred for Sasuke's teammate was understandable bearing in mind a considerable amount of the recent issues attributed to the Uchiha clan were in connection with being blamed for the nine tails attack on the hidden leaf. Naruto, holding the Kyuubi, invariably took the blame for this. Such was the curse that all junjuriki were inflicted with.
Needless to say when Sasuke had been placed on a genin team with Naruto the clan had been in an uproar and demanded an immediate change. Saratobi stood his ground on his decision to place the two friends on the same team and although the Uchiha held their tongue they were still unhappy about the placement. Still, it would be narrow minded of the sharingan clan to not see the benefit of having the kyuubi container in their good graces considering the mighty power the boy would yield.
"This was partly Itachi's fault you know," Sasuke muttered in defense of his friend with an annoyed look in his brother's direction. Itachi looked back distastefully.
Fugaku regarded his son with a disapproving look that caused the younger Uchiha to visibly wilt. Itachi inwardly frowned at this reaction as it seemed that Sasuke was still looking for his fathers unquestionable approval. "I doubt that. Clear up the mess you have made and do not train within the house in future." Fugaku walked through the room and past Shisui and Itachi with a small nod before disappearing around the corner into his study.
"When did you meet my father?" Sasuke asked Nanami, turning to her quickly and with suspicious eyes.
"Years ago, just before I'd started at the academy," mused the girl, looking where the clan head had just left the room.
"How come you didn't get in trouble?" pouted Naruto, changing the subject.
"Because I'm adorable," muttered the girl in jest, though her heart was not truly in the joke.
"Nanami, is the main Uchiha house causing you issues?" Shisui butted in, stepping fully into the living room with a rouged smile, and successfully breaking the tense atmosphere that had gathered in the room.
Nanami smiled amusedly at Itachi's cousin and cross her arms. "You have no idea!" said the girl dramatically and shrugged her shoulders in a way that said 'what can you do?'.
"We were just about to have tea. Would you three lower shinobi's care to join us," Shisui asked with a flourish of dramatics. Sasuke glared at his cousin's mocking words but the Hyuuga seemed to only hear the word 'tea' and she was nodding enthusiastically.
"Tea sounds great!" Naruto chiding in and marched towards the kitchen eagerly.
Five minutes later found the five shinobi seated on the decking at the back of the house with steaming cups of tea in their hands.
"Is the tea up to par?" Itachi asked Nanami, thinking about the hours she had spent at his sick bed drinking tea following the Suna invasion. Nanami, obviously on the same train of thought, flashed Itachi a happy grin and affirming nod before a comfortable silence fell over the unlikely group.
"So Sasuke what does it feel like to be officially chunin at last?" Nanami mused out loud with a sip of her tea.
"Hm," said the boy unintelligibly.
"Well, you're finally on par with me again!" Nanami seemed to think this comment would make Sasuke proud but it seemed to just enunciate that it had taken the boy two years longer to reach the higher status than the Hyuuga girl and the boy scowled unhappily. Itachi found the expression near adorable on his younger brother.
"I thought it was elite chunin now?" said the blond junjuriki with a mischievous glance in Sasuke's direction.
"Yeah, if you want to get technical," relented the girl with a frown.
"So you're technically a higher rank than Sasuke… again?" Naruto pushed and Itachi and Shisui shared an amused glance.
"Dobe," muttered Sasuke. "This was the fourth time you failed the Chunin exams. At least I passed."
Before another brawl could break out between the young ninja a female voice reverberated through the house, calling out fondly for her children. Mikoto stepped out of the house from a room further along the decking and smiled when she saw the collection of people
"Hello boys," the Uchiha matriarch called in greeting with a soft voice, character of any obedient house wife. Itachi was well aware that she was anything but a meek and humble woman and did not miss the sharp look in his mother's eye as she caught sight of Nanami. "Oh, and a girl! My apologies, does that mean more people to stay for dinner then? Sasuke, I'd wished you'd said something."
"No I-" Nanami stuttered out, seemingly taken by surprise at Mikoto quick assumptive manor.
"Well no matter, you're welcome to stay of course," smiled the older woman as she interrupted the girl before she could correct her.
"No really I-" Nanami tried valiantly, much to Itachi's amusement.
"In fact I insist," Mikoto added, pretending not to hear the Hyuuga's protests.
"Oh no, I couldn't-" Nanami injected again in a firmer voice, although Itachi detected the undertones of uncertainty and he was sure his mother did to.
"Nonsense, you're more than welcome. Naruto and Sakura will be there tonight and I'm sure that you'd fit right in all things considering." Mikoto clasped her hands together in front of her and peered into the house thoughtfully, as if thinking hard on the matter of feeding an extra person.
"Mother, I don't think Nanami-" Sasuke said, looking to his brother for a type of support that Itachi did not respond to. His younger brother, much like himself, had never been able to win against their mother's insistences and the heir recognized Sasuke effect as futile.
"Itachi, what do you think?" By the look in his mothers eyes he knew that answer he was expected to give and replied accordingly.
"Of course, you would be most welcome," he said with a polite nod towards the girl. Shisui shifted irritably next to him and Itachi pocketed the movement in his memory to ask on later; why would that make Shisui uncomfortable?
"Well then how could I say no?" Nanami relented, realizing a lost cause and giving him a rather strained smile, making Itachi smirk in amusement. For some reason he found himself more often than not enjoying the prospect of antagonizing Nanami, much like he sometimes felt with his little brother. He caught Shisui looking at him pensively from the corner of his eye but when he turned to his cousin in question he just smiled jokingly and gave a dismissive shrug – typical behavior for the man but Itachi knew it was a cover. Something odd was going on with his cousin.
The group dispersed shortly following that and Itachi found his eyes, almost against his will, following Nanami's retreating form as she was pressured to follow his mother into the kitchen so that she could give her opinion on the meal, much to the clear discomfort of the girl.
It dawned on Itachi briefly that Nanami did not have a mother, having read this in her file when he worked with her during the chunnin exams, and thus such motherly and domestic behavior might seem rather odd, or at least out of place, within a Shinobi household. Nanami looked at his mother with an apprehensive kind of awe and the older Uchiha brother found himself wondering on the Hyuuga girls upbringing.
Despite the difference, Itachi couldn't help thinking that him and Nanami were of a similar kind.
Later on that evening found the civilized dinner party in full swing with an unusual addition to the usual guests. Nanami seemed to be surprised at the magnitude of the dinner, obviously under the false illusion that it was a small, casual gathering, but she was evidently incorrect. It wasn't a big annual event by any means, but it was still an important time of year within the Uchiha main house as it was the anniversary of the instatement of Fukgaku, Itachi's father, as the head of the clan. The week tended to consist of a few meals and gatherings in respect of the main house. Usually it was an internal event with only those close the main family attending but in recent years, due to the strained relationship with the village, the clan had been forced to invite more and more of those outside the Uchiha within the wall.
Mikoto obviously saw an opportunity present itself with Nanami's presence within the house that afternoon and successfully snapped her up. No one could ever access his mother of not being opportunistic.
The young Hyuuga smiled demurely and laughed appropriately; the perfect lady in addition to a respectable shinobi. Itachi caught a look shared between his parents in approval at Nanami's behavior and decorum; especially dealing with Naruto and Sasuke when they were in their bickering mood. Sasuke's female team member attended the event, not an unusual occurrence in and of itself, but this time there seemed to be an aura of slight killing intent surrounding her which made standing near her overly uncomfortable.
"She really hate me," Itachi heard Nanami comment, standing in the corner and slightly slouching against the wall as she took a rare moment of relaxation away from the political eyes that hardly gave her a moment to breath.
"She's jealous of you and Sasuke," Naruto whispered to Nanami, nodding to Sakura as she followed Sasuke like a puppy. "She gets so annoyed whenever Sasuke mentions you. Thinks your going to take him from her or something."
"She's not altogether wrong…" Nanami gave a roll of her neck as she muttered something unintelligible that Itachi wasn't sure if he'd heard right or not.
"What?" Naruto question, probably thinking the same as the Uchiha clan heir.
"Nothing." Nanami smiled and distracted Naturo with a menial comment about the party and the two moved over to interact with the other guests. Itachi went to move from out of the shadows when his attention was drawn by Shisui's subtle departure from the main room and out onto the balcony. Itachi found his form staring blankly out onto the the great Uchiha lake his family house had stood before since the beginning of the hidden leaf.
"I assume its not good news," Itachi said as he moved forward and stood mirroring his cousin.
"It's not not bad news," Shisui said, making light for the situation as he tended to do.
"What does that mean?"
"Don't worry yourself, cousin." A shadow flickered across Shisui's face, causing the man to look beyond his years but equal in the responsibilities that endlessly weighed upon his shoulders.
"Not knowing will make me more concerned," Itachi countered, turning his body to face his cousin.
"You know what they say; no news is good news," Shishi joked, the shadow gone and in its place a weak smile.
"You know I can't Itachi." Both the boys looked into the house as a pearly laughter could be heard drifting through. Nanami stood with his mother and Sasuke, all three laughing lightly at something said, clearly not aware of the heavy conversation that thickened the air outside on the balcony. "Like I said, its not good news. He's… The world now unchanged from ancient times, leaves that are words retain seeds in the heart."
Itachi frowned at the riddle as Shisui gave him a hard, long look and then glanced, as if by accident, into the party at the Hyuuga guest entertaining his brother. Itachi made no comment and Shisui left the party soon after that.
Itachi remained outside, leaning against a wooden poll, contemplating his words. He did not begrudge Shisui his puzzles, considering the secrecy his position demanded he was lucky to get even two words from his cousin on the underground goings-on of the hidden leaf.
Nanami, obviously not noticing his presence came out onto the porch, leant forward onto the railings, and let out a long sign of frustration and shook her head to dispel a thought Itachi couldn't even begin to guess at. She opened her eyes and gazed across the lake with a troubled expression, though Itachi doubted she was seeing much of anything.
"I've always thought the lake was beautiful," he commented in an effort to make his presence known. He would have happily said nothing and continued to study the Hyuuga but knew that it would be an uncomfortable consequence were he caught.
"Oh," Nanami said straightening quickly and facing him with forced politeness, something he'd rarely seen directed at him. "Forgive me Itachi, I was somewhere else." She relaxed in that moment, seeing something she clearly knew how to handle, and gave a lopsided smile. It looked so effortless and genuine, but the wariness from before hadn't quite left her eyes.
"Nanami I don't think I've had a chance to congratulate you on your promotion," Itach said with a smile of his own, though he made no effort to hide his obvious curiosity.
"Thank you, it's been a journey and a half getting to this point,' remarked the girl, smiling to herself retrospectively and turning towards the lake once again. They fell into a comfortable silence for a moment, both lost in thought.
Itachi deeply respected Nanami. They had the same goals and ideals and he found her company easy and pleasant. He also enjoyed seeing her weaknesses and reactions, and tonight had been no different.
"I would have thought that the Hyuuga frequently have such meals," Itachi remarked, airily. "Thus, I am surprised how uncomfortable you seem tonight."
"It's not obvious is it?" said the Hyuuga girl with a grimace.
"No, it isn't." Itachi was sure amusement coloured his eyes but Nanami's genuine distaste for anybody being able to truly understand her was both something silly and something he could relate to indefinitely.
"If I didn't know any better I'd say you'd been watching me all night," Nanami joked easily.
"You're very interesting. You're different. I can't quite place why but you are."
Nanami chose to ignore his comment, whether because she dismissed it or because she was uncomfortable he couldn't detect.
"I've never been one for tradition and convention. My manors are only so refined due to my militant upbringing," mumbled the girl, turning her head to the side and looking back out onto the lake. The light of the paper lanterns hanging on the awning caught the reflection in her eyes fleetingly and Itachi watched as she looked up to the sky in deep contemplation and a gentle frown on her brow. The tilt of her head exposed the neck under her chin and the Uchiha couldn't help but glance at the mildly faded pink line that marred the otherwise perfect porcelain.
He remembered that moment with utmost clarity; one of the little quirks about the sharingun was the use of photographic memory that came with the images you saw while it was turned on. Itachi, in his long career in ANBU, had seen some horrific and traumatizing things out there, but up there in the top few was the image of Hyuuga Nanami laying venerable and bleeding on the forest floor…
"But you'd understand all about that, wouldn't you Itachi? Being an Uchiha can't be easy." Nanami looked at Itachi in that moment with a lot of emotion, half of which Itachi couldn't even begin to understand, and the other half he understood far to well for his liking. The Hyuuga clan always gave the impression of knowing things but Nanami was on a different level when it came to matters of emotion; even for a supposedly emotionally stunted shinobi like himself.
"No," said Itachi straightly, glancing away from the dark haired girl for a split second before looking back with a politely interested expression. "It isn't."
Nanami gave a tight smile but her eyes narrowed slightly in assessment. He recognized that smile; it being the one she had worn most of the night. Indeed, Nanami and him had a great deal in common. It unnerved Itachi how she could read him so well when few others could even distinguish he was feeling at all. The girl had always been an enigma to him and, although he was a puzzle to most people, it seemed Nanami understood him all too well. And this did not sit well with the genius.
Nanami, probably sensing his curiosity and surely having questions of her own, opened her mouth to make an additional comment, when his little brothers voice broke the almost intimate moment.
"Itachi, mothers looking for you," Sasuke spoke from the door, frowning at the situation he was presented with, and walking outside to stand between his brother and Nanami.
Itachi gave one quick nod at his brother, one last glance at Nanami, and left the porch. He couldn't quite put his finger on the unpleasant feeling in the center of his chest he felt at leaving his brother and Nanami alone together.
Yoda was confused. It wasn't an unusual emotion when in regards to his partner, but it's common presence was no less frustrating for the sociopath. She was laughing at something again, she liked to laugh a lot, and Yoda was frowning at her. This just seemed to make her laugh even more.
Nanami flicked her hair over her shoulder haphazardly and with a raised eyebrown she looked at Yoda.
"What?" Yoda asked.
"Come on lets' get this interrogation done with," she said smiling as they walked into interrogation room 4 viewing room. The small space seemed cramped with both himself, his partner and their boss, Ibiki. Different implements of interrogation hung on one wall, all of which Yoda was very familiar with, while on the other was a one-way mirror, behind which sat their next victim.
"Right you two, this one might end a little differently than ones you've done before," Ibiki said, flicking through his notes. "You need to find out how he got into Konaha in the first place, who he's with and what he wants. Typical really."
"So what's the catch?" Nana asked with a sideways look at her boss and then looking back at Yoda with, what he assumed, an exasperated smile. Yoda smirked back at his partner for some reason, not entirely sure why she was smiling at him.
Ibiki continued, not noticing or simply ignoring the exchanged expressions. "From what we've gathered he's the promiscuous sort and not a small head to go with it." Ibiki looked at Nana, and could Yoda understand he might have called this look suggestive, to which Nanami's mouth opened in a wide 'O'.
"What does that mean?" Yoda asked perplexed. He would be more than happy to go in and smash this person's head in; it wouldn't be much effort off his back.
Nanami hesitated, seemingly unsure herself. "We'll do an initial interrogation… but after that I'm going in alone, Yoda." She gave Yoda a stare that was supposed to mean something.
"Yoda you will stand by should something unsavory takes place," Ibiki instructed as he left the room, giving Nanami one last glanced. Sometimes, or really most of the time, Yoda wished that people would communicate with words rather than facial expressions.
But then again, he didn't mind Nanami's facial expression. There was something about her that made him never want to look away.
It was dark but Yoda was used to the dark. He'd spent a long time living and learning in the dim light under Konaha, and this occasion was no different from the countless other interrogations over the years.
"Operative report," a disconnected voice spoke out. The one eyed man stepped out of the shadow with a stick and a step. His limp leg almost dragging behind him – a sorry state for any shinobi to be in. His voice was not as nonchalant as he probably wished it to be, the bitterness of lost power clearly undercutting everything he said and did, noticeable even to a novice human like Yoda.
Nevertheless, Yoda did his duty and reported as such:
Agent Yoda and Hyuuga Nanami entered the interrogation room at 18:36pm and an interrogation took place to gain information from Shinobi now known as Sanasha Yue. Initially it was decided that Agent Yoda should proceed with standard interrogation tactics. First, the subject was subjected to electrical encouragement but was unresponsive and aggressive. Derogatory comments were thrown at Hyuuga who reacted as if she were upset and told off the man, purposely weakly. Agent Yoda proceeded to use clamping devices…
Yoda continued to tell the leader of the subsequent actions and results of the very unnerving interrogation that Yoda had taken part in that day. He would never admit it, but he was disturbed by what he has witness; a feeling he didn't know where it originated from or if he'd ever even felt before.
Yoda described the different torture techniques he'd carried out on the subject while his partner pretended (for she must have been pretending as she had seen far worse) to become more and more uncomfortable. Yoda and Nanami had agreed that Yoda would only superficially damage the suspect and then his partner would take over with psychological interrogation. Eventually Yoda knew it was time to stop lest the subject be rendered unconscious and thus unable to part with information.
At this point Nanami pressed a delicate, almost shy hand on Yoda and when he looked over, his partner looked on the brink of tears. Yoda blinked once, and then again, confused at what was happening.
"I-I think we should stop…" Nanami told him as the subject began to cough up blood loudly. Then she lowered her voice and said, just loud enough for the subject to hear, "maybe if I talk to him…"
The look Nanami gave him was intense, communicating that he needed to leave and let her do her work. They'd talked about this look before and Nana had warned that were she to give him this look then it was in everyone's best interest if he listened.
Yoda left the room and observed from the one way window.
Nanami was amazing. She was gentle and kind with him but seemed to be slightly scared too, like she thought he might hurt her. This seemed to give him confidence and he began to talk back arrogantly and in a silky smooth voice he'd heard other men use on women during spy missions.
She acted as if his seduction was working and began touching his hand, moving slightly closer as if unconsciously. Then suddenly they kissed and everything began to speed up and she was sitting on top of him and passionately embracing.
Yoda was lost, frozen in place and unable to comprehend if he should be doing anything, stopping this assault on his partner. Were he any less trained he would have intervened, but he knew it was not his place.
Then it stopped. Nana began to talk with the man and he seemed hungry now, wanting something and desperate to get it.
"A little for a little," he heard Nanami say.
From then, every time he told a little bit of information, Nanami would touch him – just like she'd been trained. Every kunoichi had to learn and be taught the ways of seduction, a separate lesson from their male teammates during the academy. Usually it was left there when they became genin but for some, like Nanami, this skill was essential part of their role.
Eventually she got what she wanted and left the subject dazed and scammed.
Danzo was silent and Yoda patiently waited for instructions.
"Is her virginity in tact?" asked the Root leader coldly.
"Yes." Yoda was very grateful that he did not have to witness that in the interrogation.
"What a shame," the bitter voice acknowledged, before retreating into the darkness, a clear dismissal.
Yoda thought about Nanami a lot that night. She was so beautiful. He'd never found anyone like her before.
Nanami had made him felt things that he'd never thought someone like him would be able to feel. She was… special. She made his heart race a little bit when she looked at him a particular way; the type of way that said there was a secret between the two of them that would never be anyone else's.
It's been a long time, hasn't it? I'm sorry about that but my motivation died completely and I didn't know how to move forward with the story. I have a plan and I'm really excited by some of the things that will happen next. It's my intension to write this whole story and although I've been on a bit of a hiatus I hope this update means I'm back into the flow of things.
I'd love to hear what you think about the alternative persons point of view. I tried to capture each of their inner monologues and they were great fun to write! Opinions on relationships and friendships? Anything unexpected? This is a time skip obviously but important. The next arc will be short but exciting and quick paced I think. I've decided to make it more adult now that they're not children anymore so we'll see where that takes us. Any spelling and grammar errors I'm sorry and I'll try and resolve. Thank you for being loyal and I hope you enjoy!