Saturday, January 9th, 1AK
"There are too many unanswered questions surrounding this recent tragedy."
Koharu shifted a few papers around, uncovering a picture taken at the location of Naruto Uzumaki's birth. Bodies of ANBU littered the floor.
"I thought that Kushina's seal had been broken. But that doesn't explain why Biwako and the ANBU were killed."
"Which means someone is behind this."
"Like someone from the Uchiha?"
Sarutobi could only groan inwardly at this direction.
"Why do you say that, Danzō?"
"Even if the Nine Tails broke free, it would have just gone wild. Without someone to control it, it couldn't have caused this incident."
Homura blinked his comprehension.
"Hence, the Sharingan."
"The Uchiha can control the Nine Tails with their Saimingan..."
"Reasonable, but what is their motive?"
"To regain their position of power within the Hidden Leaf Village."
"That's just conjecture. We mustn't be too hasty and paranoid in jumping to the easiest conclusion, especially when it concerns our comrades."
"We must increase our surveillance of the Uchiha. We must keep them under 24 hour watch. Besides, we all know of the Uchiha clan's, colorful history."
"That's bound to incite them unnecessarily."
"Let the ANBU do it secretly."
"Better safe than sorry."
Koharu grunted her agreement.
"Wait! We don't know if the Uchiha are responsible for this."
"That's precisely why its necessary! Besides, if nothing turns up, the Uchihas will be in the clear."
Monday, February 2nd, 6AK
"Complaints about harsh treatment by the police force are on the rise. The Uchihas have been needlessly draconian, dealing out harsher punishments and detaining peace disturbers for longer than necessary."
"People have started to distrust them."
Danzō inwardly smirked to himself at the recent trend. The Uchiha clan may have been compliant to their discrimination at first, but a proud clan like theirs could only tolerate things for so long.
"The Uchiha are growing impudent."
"No, it's backlash. The negativity from the Nine Tails' incident six years ago still hangs over them."
Sarutobi's old teammates no longer saw it that way. In fact, Sarutobi was sure they didn't even see the past as it was. With Danzō's influence, they'd come to effortlessly bend the facts to their will, to match reality with their perception. The past was no different.
"The Uchiha didn't suffer any damage that time. None of their members sustained any casualties from the Nine Tailed Fox. In fact, they were no where near the action, instead remaining behind with the civilians. Even then, it was only the Fourth Hokage's mastery of space-time ninjutsu that saved them from death."
"That is the reason why the populace no longer regards them as honorable protectors of Konoha. They are cowardly, manipulative, and allowed their fellow shinobi to die in their place."
"Do not forget, it was Danzō who ordered them to guard the civilians instead of subduing the beast as they could have with their Saimingan. Moreover, the Uchiha viewed our distancing them from the Nine Tails, as a sign of the Hidden Leaf's distrust. They were not to blame."
"They were ordered to the back because only an Uchiha could have instigated the attack. Ever since the Warring States period, they've given no proof of trust. The Second Hokage was the one to institute our principle strategy of isolating the Uchiha clan. Why are they raising a fuss after all this time?"
"The Second Hokage's intention was not isolation. He was just concerned for each clan. Have you forgotten about our friend Kagami Uchiha?
"I haven't forgotten. He saved my life many times with his Sharingan."
"The Uchiha clan is an integral part of the Hidden Leaf. We must ensure they stay that way."
"If we can."
Thursday, July 2nd, AKNT
Naruto and the rest of the Konoha 9 were lounging in one the Inuzuka clan fields, complete with comfortable grassy fields and a fresh, cool stream that was perfect for the summer weather. They had spread out a feast on one of Sakura's family blankets, and were slowly dissolving the food and chatting away as they cooled off from an intense session of capture the flag. To Naruto, it had seemed like they'd been together forever, like there had never been a time before they were friends.
Yet the past two months of carefree companionship flew by too fast for Naruto's tastes. One of his clones had just dispelled, adding another disquieting report to what been confirmed as a rapidly deteriorating situation.
Saturday, April 15th, AKNT
A stone slab with the Sharingan carved on top, guarding the secret meeting place of the Uchiha clan underneath Naka Shrine, slid over as Naruto's clone performed a set of seals memorized from the 24/7 stakeout at the perimeter. Making his over, he removed one of the torches and transformed himself into it, coating himself with a smattering of natural energy. His body hadn't enough chakra yet to support Sage mode, but it was enough to disguise himself as an inanimate organic object.
As evening fell, Uchiha clan members began filing into the secret meeting place. Naruto spied Itachi's expressionless face within the crowd. Within a few minutes, nearly 200 members of the Uchiha clan had assembled, most of whom were shinobi. From what he'd heard, most of the civilian and retired Uchiha clan members were only aware that a coup d'etat was happening and were given orders to simply support the change once it happened.
Fugaku cleared his throat, and the room fell silent.
"Our plan is nearly in place now. We are only waiting on a few more adjustments, and then we will strike. Those of you who still have outstanding tasks, please report."
"We've finished planting evidence of discrimination and power grabbing maneuvers by the council. As expected, we weren't able to amass anything substantial on Danzō. Nothing that looked legitimate anyways. No one in the public really knows him, and we suspect he has plenty of falsified documents proving his devotion to the village in case of such an exigency..."
Naruto's thoughts turned more sour as he heard the sordid details of the Uchiha's machinations. They'd infiltrated most of the critical departments of the Konoha government, either through blackmail, bribes, or in a few extreme cases, murder and impersonation. Documents were in place to oust those who would fight back or would be sympathetic to the Third Hokage. Regular shinobi and ANBU alike were prepared to either assassinate troublesome teammates, subordinates and higher echelons, or had suppressed them through blackmail and bribes. They'd even had a few officials blackmailed into speaking out for them or staining the Hokage's reputation by acting irrationally "under his command" once the signal was given.
The list of preparations went on and on, and Naruto couldn't help but feel like he was watching a high level game of shogi, only there were 3 factions and no one knew for certain who's pieces belonged to who. And it was obvious that Itachi was the most important piece in the best position, ready to strike lethally at any of the factions. But Naruto knew where his loyalties would lie.
"Itachi, how was your mission report received? Have you been placed in charge of those three squads we've spoken of?"
Itachi remained silent for a few seconds, showing no reaction.
"The report has yet to be processed. My ANBU commander and the Hokage have been busy with other reports and our next mission."
Some of the other members scowled. Apparently, Itachi already wasn't very popular among his clan. Many members were jealous of his skills and his position in both the clan, as the son of the head, and in the village, as ANBU captain at 13.
"Very well Itachi. Keep pressuring them, they'll place their priority on you soon. Your task will be the last one to be completed before we strike. Meeting adjourned."
Sunday, April 16th, AKNT
Itachi kneeled in front of the Konoha Council, Danzō, and the third Hokage, preparing to give his report.
"They're close to striking. My mission report and promotion is the last piece to fall into place before the strike. The others have finished preparing, and I've retrieved the last three lists of officials bribed, blackmailed and otherwise influenced to take part in the coup d'etat.
This one was far tougher to infiltrate. The private meeting room the Konoha Council often used with just the Hokage and any other attendants had security and silencing seals in every nook and cranny. Even the plants were security devices themselves, changing color temporarily at any chakra molding and usage. The ANBU had a constant guard on the place as well. Naruto had managed to fake orders to move one of the guarding ANBU squads to guard Naruto more closely. A trio of shadow clones wore disguising seals, tailored with a sample of each of the replaced ANBU to match their chakra signatures, in addition to ANBU uniforms and replica masks. Naruto lost 7 clones in developing those seals from a less than perfect design he'd come across in one of his father's notes. Then again, the seal he was developing to halt space-time manipulation in an area was proving far more deadly for his clones.
"Excellent work Itachi." Danzō turned to Hiruzen. "Do you see now Sarutobi? There is no hope for a peaceful resolution. Like an animal backed into a corner, the Uchiha clan is prepared to strike as hard as they can, or die trying. They think nothing of the village, everything of themselves, and will not hesitate to take what they believe is rightfully theirs."
"That's what I used to think about the village's attitude towards Naruto, but look how he turned opinions around with empathy and understanding!"
"Danzō is right, Sarutobi. Action must be taken against these rebels before things become out of hand. We were right to distrust them from the start, and we can no longer treat them with mercy. They are a threat to our village and peace. Should their coup take place, Konoha will be thrown into chaos, a bleeding flounder surrounded by an ocean of hungry sharks. A disruption of this magnitude will be the impetus that starts a fourth shinobi world war!"
"Itachi is in the perfect position right now. His power is unrivaled by any current Uchiha clan member who supports sedition, and as such has unparalleled knowledge and access to clan routines and activities. Shisui, as loyal as he is to Konoha, would never willingly betray the Uchiha clan, not unless there was another option. Without involving village forces, Itachi himself can destroy the clan."
"Homura, not in front of the boy!"
Despite Itachi's steel, Naruto knew the anguish he must be feeling. Hiruzen could only doggedly advocate for the Uchiha's clan existence for so long, and eventually they'd have to face the music if the circumstances didn't change.
Wednesday, May 31st, 8AKNT
"What is it, commander Danzō? It's almost time for the assembly to start."
"Even if you use your Saimingan on Fugaku to get the clan to cooperate, what if the Village doesn't change?"
"The Hokage has promised to make it change. If both sides continue to gaze upon each other through the lens of the past, nothing will change, and eventually our village will waver under the pressure. And the Fourth Shinobi World War will begin."
"Even if the Sarutobi is satisfied, the distrust among the Leaf will not go away. You cannot undue generations of animosity by changing one man's mind."
"I realize that, but in time-"
"Besides, someone who's always suspicious like me will never change. And there are more people like me than there aren't. What will you do then?"
"When the time comes, will you use your Kotoamatsukami on me too?"
"I shall not allow that to happen. Your Sharingan, shall be in my safekeeping!" Danzō lashed out, about to take Shisui's eye before he cast a low level genjutsu in the blink of a red eye.
"It's only genjutsu. You'll snap out of it shortly." Shisui walked away, prepared to do what he could to save the village and the clan.
Unfortunately, Danzō had already used Izangi with his right eye, and teleported in front of Shisui before unleashing a devastating 3 hook combo that bent reality, and lifted him up before jabbing out to steal Shisui's right eye, all with just one arm.
Shisui finally managed to react, and quickly retreated, his eye stabbing with pain. Danzō replaced his now useless right eye to Shisui's horror.
"Give me the other too." A horde of ANBU descended next to Danzō as Shisui flew through hand signs to release a concentrated fireball. The ANBU countered with spews of raging waves, just as Shisui predicted. In the seconds it took for the superheated steam to clear, he'd already fled.
"Go after him!"
"Is that you, Shisui?"
"Come with me."
They traversed a cliff overlooking the Nakano river, where they held their discussions on the future of the Leaf and Uchiha relations.
"There is no way to stop the Uchiha's coup d'etat anymore. A civil war will happen in the Leaf, and the other countries will take advantage of it to attack. It will turn into a world war."
"Have you given up already Shisui? I'll admit, I've been close recently. But watching the younger generation has inspired me to remember ours. Naruto, the village pariah, shunned for by an undue burden and memories people cannot lay to rest has united his peers in a class brimming with potential."
"It's too late. Before I could stop the coup d'etat by using Kotoamatsukami, Danzō stole my right eye. He doesn't trust me. He's decided to protect the village his own way."
"He'll probably try to get my left eye as well. I'll give it to you before that happens." Itachi nearly lost his lunch when he saw Shisui squelch the eye out of his left socket. "You're my best friend, the only one I can ask this. Please protect the village. And the Uchiha's name."
Itachi accepted the eye with a summoned crow, before it dispersed in a burst of feathers.
"All right. What will we do now?"
Shisui began backing off, perilously close to dropping off the edge.
"If I die, several circumstances will change. I've already left behind a suicide note."
"Don't stop me, Itachi. If you're my friend..."
Thursday, June 1st, 8AKNT – 3AM, emergency council meeting
"Shisui Uchiha was a core member of the Uchiha. His suicide demoralized the rest of clan, as well as dropping their self-perception of military power."
"So the coup d'etat has been foiled. For now."
Sarutobi sickeningly remembered when he gave Shisui permission to work with Itachi and try to prevent a civil war from breaking out.
"Are you saying there was no other way but for Shisui to give his life? I shouldn't have pushed him."
Danzō had surmised that Shisui had gone to Itachi once he'd managed to shake his ANBU pursuers. It was a shame that the fight just ended up with him trading eyes.
"There are a few among the Uchiha who believe that you killed Shisui." You know the truth. What are you going to do about it?
If someone as great as Shisui could not best Danzō in combat, Itachi knew he had no chance.
"The ones who believe that did not know that Shisui and I were working towards the same goal. Shisui did not appear at our rendezvous point." Just as long as we save the village.
"He had secrets, so he was suspected. I will notify the ANBU that it was officially a suicide. Agreed, Hiruzen?" Very well. Finish the job.
Tuesday, June 13th, 8AKNT
"Fugaku has decided to continue with the coup, despite Shisui's death."
"We can't allow this anymore! They call it revolution, but if their real intention is to take back political power no matter the cost to the village, we'll have to treat them as rebels."
"Koharu, wait! Don't jump to conclusions. We can still reason with them."
"Hiruzen, the Uchiha aren't going to stop. We must make our move right away to avoid confusion. Including the children. We can't take any chances. One wrong move, and there won't be a Konoha."
"Don't say this in front of Itachi! How could you even consider slaughtering innocent children? Besides, if a civil war starts it will be hard to fight against the Uchiha. Impossible with the rest of the nations piling on. We must think of a strategy that does not involve the Uchiha clan's destruction."
"It's a race against time. We must act before they do anything."
"If we and our ANBU team up together we can just make a surprise attack on them and end it right away."
"The Uchiha used to be our comrades in arms. I want to use words and not power against them. I'll think of a strategy. Itachi, try to gain as much time as you can."
"The Third talked like that, but he will act if the Leaf needs to be protected. That's the way he is. If that happens, even he, as the Hokage, will have to take drastic measures. Whether the war happens or not, once they've tried to make a coup d'etat the Uchiha will be annihilated, your innocent little brother included. But by acting before it happens he can still be saved."
"If the coup happens, your younger brother will see everything too. He will see his whole clan be destroyed by shinobi of the Leaf, and will undoubtedly want to get revenge on the village. And in that case, he will have to be killed too."
"Are you threatening me?"
"No, I want you to choose. You can either stand on the Uchiha's side, participate in the coup d'etat and see both your clan and your village destroyed. Or stand on the Leaf's side, save your brother before the coup happens and help destroy the Uchiha clan. To protect the village we must absolutely stop the coup before everything falls into chaos. And the only one that can do this job is a double spy working for both the Uchiha and the Leaf, someone with both the trust and the power. In other words you, Itachi."
"Itachi, it will be a hard mission for you, but in exchange for that, I can let your younger brother live. I'm sure you too want to protect the village. Do you accept this mission?"
"How did you know about me?"
Obito had heard rumblings of both a foolish Uchiha rebellion and a council ready to put them down. He figured now was his time to strike. He hadn't counted on the Uchiha prodigy to sneak up on him.
"You were able to slip through the Uchiha's defense and even look at the secret stone inside Nakano sanctuary. Only the Uchiha know that place. After that I examined your actions, and tried to understand who you are and what your goal is."
"Then this will be easy. You probably know that I'm an Uchiha and I hold a grudge towards the clan and the village."
"You must follow my conditions. I'll help you get revenge on the Uchiha, but you must not lay a hand on the village. And, on Sasuke Uchiha."
Saturday, July 1st, 8AKNT
"Father only cares about you, Itachi."
"You probably hate me, huh? It's all right, people often think ill of shinobi. It's only logical."
"That's not how I feel!" He's right though, I do. I do feel that way.
"Heh, being the best isn't all it's cracked up to be. When you have power, you become arrogant and isolated from the world, no matter how coveted you and sought after you are in the beginning. But with us, it's different, because you and I are flesh and blood. I'm always going to be there for you, even if it's only as an obstacle for you to overcome. Even if you do hate me. That's what big brothers are for—"
"Is Itachi in there? We need to talk. Get out here!"
"What's going on? What are you all doing here?"
"There were two people who didn't show up at yesterday's assembly. Do you want to tell me why you weren't there?"
"You're in ANBU black-ops now, I know full well you can be called away at the drop of a hat. And that's the case your father was trying to make when we asked why you weren't there.
"But we're not your father, you won't be getting any special treatment from us."
"I understand. I should've been more careful. Will that be all then gentlemen?"
"Sure thing. But you know what, before we go, there's just one other thing."
"Do you, know anything about Shisui Uchiha ending his life in Nakano river?"
"Shisui was the other guy who never turned up at the assembly yesterday. It's funny, if I remember correctly, you kind of looked up to him like an older brother, didn't you?"
Itachi closed his eyes.
"How terrible. Forgive me, I haven't seen him at all recently. What a tragedy."
"Yeah. And well at this point, the police force has no other choice but to launch an all out investigation into the matter."
"This is a note Shisui left behind. We've already had it analyzed. There's no question that this is his handwriting."
"But if it wasn't homicide, why the investigation?"
"I would be no great feat for someone who possesses Sharingan to copy his handwriting."
"The most talented of all our clan, feared as Shisui the teleporter. He was a man who would do anything, take any mission, if it was for the good of the clan."
"Hard to imagine a man like that ending his life, don't you think."
"You shouldn't judge people by their appearance, or by your own preconceptions."
"We'll leave that with you for the time being. Take it to ANBU black-ops, and put in a request for them to start sniffing around this as well."
"Let's just hope we get a lead on this soon."
"By the way, we have our own connections inside ANBU black-ops. You try and sweep this investigation under the rug, and we're gonna know about it."
Itachi scowled, clenching the paper in his hand. Everyone leaked out their animosity, activating their Sharingan.
"Why don't you just come out and say it. You believe I had a hand in this, don't you."
"Yeah that's right, little punk."
"Listen Itachi, if I find you betray this clan, I want you to know, you'll pay for your wrongs."
In the blink of an eye, Itachi subdued all three of his accosters.
"Like I said before, appearances and preconceptions aren't going to tell you anything. For instance, you've made the mistake of assuming I'm a patient man. The clan, the clan. You overestimate your own abilities. With no idea, of the depth of my own. And look at you now, grovelling in the dirt."
Sasuke looked on fearfully, unable and unwilling to wonder what would happen next.
"Shisui, Shisui had been keeping and eye on you recently. The strangeness of your behavior. Half a year into your time in ANBU, it was impossible to overlook. What the heck are you playing at you filthy little wretch!"
"Obsessed with the organization. Obsessed with the clan. Obsessed with our lineage. A worthless compulsion that enslaves us, and limits our capabilities. Leading us to fear what we don't understand."
Fugaku had finally arrived, alerted by a passing patrolman.
"Stop it Itachi! What on earth is the matter with you! Itachi, you've been strange lately."
"Nothing strange about me. I have my own duties to fulfill. That's all."
"So what's your story, why didn't you come last night?"
"To achieve the next state."
"What are you talking about?"
Itachi rapidly withdrew a kunai, hurling it into an Uchiha clan symbol to the right on the stone wall, drawing the attention of Fugaku.
"I've had enough. There's no hope left for this pathetic clan. The people of this clan are all the same. You all focus on the trivial and lose sight of what is most important. Change is impossible in this fog of ignorance. How can we evolve when regulation is all we know? The village pariah, Naruto Uzumaki, jailor of the Nine Tailed Fox, by all measures, the one who should have failed. Killed himself. Done nothing but wallow in self-pity. He's the one improving the most. Ironic really. The one who's thought to have no potential, making the biggest clan in Konoha look like fools."
"Such arrogance! Even someone like you can't break that S-class secret! What do you think you're doing, parading around like that?"
"That's enough, if I hear one more word of this nonsense, I'll have you thrown behind bars!"
"Well, what's it gonna be?"
"I can't take this anymore, please sir, just give me the order!"
"Big brother! You have to stop!"
Itachi gave a start, and then fell onto his knees.
"I'm not the one who killed Shisui. But I apologize for the words I have spoken. I'm truly sorry."
Fugaku only gave a grunt, looking down.
"He's been pretty tired lately. Up to his ears in missions from ANBU black-ops."
"ANBU are under the direct control of the Hokage. Even if you wanted to arrest one of them, you would need to get a warrant first. As for Itachi, I take full responsibility for him. You have my word."
The men around him gave groans.
"Very well sir."
Monday, July 3rd, 8AKNT
Itachi was wandering listlessly through Training Ground 3, unable to settle down or think clearly. His mind was preoccupied with a flurry of tumultuous emotions and extraneous thoughts.
Father is still going to rebel. Fourth World War. Sarutobi can't stop anything. Shisui's dead. Danzō overpowered him and stole a Mangekyō Sharingan. Madara's back from the dead to destroy his clan. Before they can destroy themselves and everyone around them. Shisui's dead. Shisui's dead. Sasuke.
Itachi barely noted Naruto projecting his presence a few paces away, keeping him company. It wasn't hard to miss his black streaked orange jacket, an eyesore if he ever saw one in combat. Naruto was the most interesting person he'd ever met in his life – like his eclectic wardrobe showcasing harsh, colorful, and drab colors depending on the day and situation, his demeanor and temperament changed on a dime to an obscene number of extremes. The few times he'd come to ask for help were contradictory to almost every other conversation he'd had. They'd said nothing of significance together, but it felt like he was the closest one alive who understood him like Shisui did.
He'd watched him interact with his various peers with boundless energy, mischievous grace, overt clumsiness, guarded understanding, fiery support and endless will. Unlike a number of people who'd he'd seen interact with a mask on their face to cover up their true emotions and past, it seemed that Naruto operated with only one motive, to make his friends better. The emotions that he could wear on a sleeve or lock away into an expressionless face didn't convey any sense of deception. In fact, it was obvious that Naruto understood his friends to a depth that only close familial relationships could claim any semblance. He made the Hokage seem like an unfeeling, gruff stump.
The emotional maturity that this kid displayed, even when it seemed just the opposite, was quite intriguing, almost as if he could read minds. Add that to his immense chakra reserves and even more impressive control from what few techniques he'd seen him work on, Itachi felt like he was looking at the next Hokage. Quite the opposite from when he first saw him on an ANBU surveillance stint, when he was still a miserable pariah that could do nothing but wallow in despair in the face of circumstances where a weaker person would have just lost the will to live. While there was no doubt he was stronger than most back then, the growth that must have led him to his current state was something that would normally take decades. Had Itachi not been burdened by the current political state of Konoha, he might've resolved to find out more about Naruto's rapid change.
Naruto hadn't really formulated a plan for confronting Itachi. He only knew that he had to sway his mind to at least lessen the blow to Sasuke. He doubted that he could sway Sasuke should Itachi handle the... situation like last time. But quick-thinking and instinct had more than made up for his lack of detailed planning in the past, just as long as he had the big picture right.
"I know. Everything."
Itachi had had too many curve balls thrown at him these past few months to even register surprise. Of course the Leaf's next upcoming prodigy had noticed. Given his propensity to throw pranks that were unpredictable, unstoppable, and escape without blame for not only himself but his friends as well who were nowhere good enough to do so on their own... of course he would know. One prodigy to the next. They were the same.
"I'm so close to giving up on everyone else. It'll be easier to handle everything myself. Shoulder the hate that my clan has fallen to without any hope of getting back up. Follow me."
They almost instantaneously Body Flickered to the cliff where Shisui had hurled himself into the raging depths. Shisui would be proud that he had found another to strive and die for peace in his place.
"Danzō has set it up so that there's almost no chance of stopping the coup d'etat from happening. Anyone's mind can be changed. The question is, is it worth it. Is there the time? I doubt the united front my younger generation can present will change anything before it's too late. Not even if Sasuke is in it."
"Is that all you've come here to do? Tell me what's happening now is for the best?"
Naruto chuckled at that.
"Not at all. I'm a firm believer in change. If the Uchiha crisis doesn't change, the village won't change either. Even if the Uchiha clan is eliminated before they can destroy the Leaf, the hatred will always be there. And don't tell me that the fate you're leaving to Sasuke is any better. You can shoulder the hatred all you want. But in the end, you'll only delay the cycle. You won't stop it by distracting Sasuke from the village, and onto you. Madara is dangerous. He hasn't come here to destroy the clan just for vengeance, although that is a big reason. The Uchiha clan is a threat to him and his plans, no matter how unlikely it seems. Leaving Sasuke alive, focused on destroying you only presents an opportunity to him. An opportunity for another ally, driven on the Curse of Hatred. Someone like him."
Itachi forced questions of how Naruto was apparently god's right-hand seven-year old man out of his mind. Here were the answers he were looking for. No dilemmas and moral quandaries. No one manipulating the truth for their own benefit. For the village. Someone's whose ideals were more than just narrow-minded and force fed.
"Whe-Where were you, months ago?" Itachi choked out.
"I wasn't here. I'm actually from the future. You're the first person I've told. I've seen what will happen if this massacre happens the same again. My different presence here has already changed things. And I'll keep changing things. These years of peace will only last for so long – the actors pulling the strings will make sure of that. Within 10 years, we'll have faced the greatest threat to humanity since our inception. By then, we'll either have retained our free will. Or we'll have failed."
"What do I do, Naruto? I can't help but think, that the Uchiha clan is a threat. Always will be. With the power to control tailed beasts, summon unquenchable flames and indestructible harbingers of destruction, copy any jutsu, see any movement... The deadly potential it gives only requires one individual to destroy the peace of the world. What I could read on the tablet was, awful. As powerful as it is, if I had my way, the Sharingan never should have existed."
"I know not if we can prevent this massacre from happening. But there's no question the coup will never happen, whether it be by diplomacy or force. But what you can change for sure, is Sasuke. And yourself. Tell Sasuke the truth. Choosing his fate for him, is no different than what Danzō is doing. Than what Madara is doing. What your father is doing. And don't take the burden the blame yourself. If you and Sasuke can stand against the clan, maybe they'll back off. Whether or not that's for the better, is up for debate. You're certainly right, that letting the Uchiha clan be destroyed is the easy route. Perhaps the only route. Madara is still huge problem though. Long story short, he's actually a different Uchiha, Obito, masquerading as him, under the now dead Madara's orders. With the Mangekyō Sharingan and skill that could fend off the Fourth Hokage, it's a matter of preparation and luck. If we take him out now, there's no question that it'll put a dent in Ma-dead's plans. Doing it without being noticed, would be impossible. We just have to do it so that no one notices anything suspicious." Naruto looked away. He was still fuzzy on those details.
"We can settle the small bits later. But, if you're willing to, we can work together. For Konoha. But be prepared to see your entire clan be destroyed. If not by you, definitely by Obito. If we can't stop the coup through example, then I won't let you fall into hell by letting you kill them yourselves. Obito can help save the world, just this once."
Before Itachi broke down into tears, Naruto wrapped his small limbs around his torso, before they both collapsed into a crying mess.
These Uchiha guys, really once you got past their tendency to thirst for power and throw away everything for it, they were just big cry-babies, Naruto thought sardonically.
Thursday, July 6th, 8AKNT
"Hey, old man?"
"What is it Naruto?"
He needed leverage and influence. It was time to start playing some bigger cards. He nodded over to the portraits of the Hokage.
"The Fourth Hokage, the one who stopped the fox demon, I look like him right? We have the same blond hair and blue eyes."
This was bad. Hiruzen was at a loss here. Naruto had always been clever, pulling off pranks that the academy instructors had been unable to foresee, let alone stop. And now he was starting to put that cleverness to good use, excelling in class and making friends in spite of the discrimination by the civilians of the village. That in of itself was inspiring, to say the least. The Third Hokage thought that he had let Minato down, unable to stop his son from becoming the village pariah.
But now, Naruto was stumbling close to the truth of his heritage, much sooner than he thought would be plausible. In hindsight, the boy had always shouted about being Hokage someday, so he would see his father's face more often than not and connect the dots eventually. Naruto certainly deserved to know, but his safety was of more importance here.
"And the fox tells me that I'm just like that 'snot-nosed brat who sealed me up.' Is he my father?" Naruto hadn't actually been able to talk to Kurama yet. He was probably still full of hatred and stuff,
Hiruzen's words of denial failed to come out. The nine-tails had been talking to Naruto? From what he'd seen of Minato's seal, it was designed to weaken over time, most likely to allow Naruto to control it better. But this early was worrisome.
"What else did this fox say?"
"Well he's always raving about this really annoying Uchiha who used his... Saimingan? That's what he called these crazy red eyes when I asked. Red eyes that made him attack humans when all he wanted to do was go take a nap and butt heads with some tanuki. Is this the same fox... who attacked the village?"
Looks like the jig is up. Putting aside the disturbing news that an Uchiha might actually be responsible for the attack on the village, Hiruzen really did not feel like lying to the boy anymore, and he had gotten far more mature lately. He supposed he could handle it. Besides, he has many times more chakra and (admittedly new) emotional maturity than any jōnin. That should be enough for the requirements.
"I had hoped you wouldn't notice until you were older, but yes Naruto, you are the son of the Fourth Hokage, who sealed the nine-tailed fox within you. He died in order to protect the village, and he had to seal the fox within in you since a tailed-beast could not be sealed in anything else. Iruka tells me you've been showing interest in fūinjutsu lately. A demon as large as the nine-tailed could not be sealed in anything non-living for long, no matter how strong the seal."
"Is that why all the older adults don't like me? Do they see me as the nine-tailed fox?"
He had to set things straight before they got too out of hand. He motioned to his tea cup.
"Take this cup for example. When I pour in tea, it's still a cup. But unfortunately, those who lived through the attack still look at you and remember that day. They don't want to be reminded of all the friends and loved ones they lost."
"And is that why, no one really likes the Uchiha clan?"
Hiruzen gave a start at that. Naruto even picked up on the animosity between the clan and the village? It seems these past few months have really opened up his eyes.
"Everyone talks about Itachi being an amazing prodigy and all, but I've never seen anyone talk to him. Only me. And everyone is always... different whenever another Uchiha is around. Especially Sasuke's dad. It's like their always watching him, saying words without saying anything at all."
The old Hokage felt the headache coming back. The coup instigated by Fugaku, the Uchiha clan head, was at a precipice, but still well hidden. For Naruto to have seen it must mean that things are only getting worse. The prospects for a peaceful resolution looked less and less likely, and Danzō and council certainly were not helping. Being Hokage really was just one big headache, and Minato just had to die on him.
"Naruto, you cannot tell anyone about what we've talked about here. No one can know that you have the nine-tailed fox sealed in you, or that your dad was the Fourth Hokage. If you tell anyone, people from other villages may come to kidnap or kill you. Most people view people like you as a weapon, and your father has many enemies who hold grudges against him for what happened in the Third Shinobi War."
"And on to the other subject, did the fox have anything else to say on the Uchiha clan?" Hiruzen was in the dark on the nine-tailed fox. Last he heard, the tailed-beasts did not intrinsically hate humanity, but a few of them including the nine-tailed fox had been driven to hatred because of power hungry people trying to harness their power. It was important to know what else Naruto had been told.
"Well, he said some dude named Madara was trying to take revenge on Konoha for some stupid battle or something, so he forced Kurama to attack the village. He's really sore about that one, he says everyone thinks he's a spirit of evil or something but he's really not. He just likes pranks, that's all. He's like me! Plus, I'll have you know, he really likes to be petted. It's so cute." Naruto could not wait to poke fun at Kurama once he managed to calm down the fox spirit.
Hiruzen was trying not to be distracted by Naruto's fond description of the nine-tailed fox. His mind was racing a mile a minute. As far-fetched as Naruto's tale was, there was no way a 7-year-old could make something like this up or hear it from someone else. And it matches up with what other facts he knew to be true. No wonder why the council suspected the Uchiha clan, the attack was actually perpetrated by one of the clans most prominent members. Well, one of its supposedly dead members. How he survived the battle against the First Hokage would be a question for the ages.
But that still didn't solve the problem of the Uchiha clan coup, and upcoming massacre if nothing changed. Sarutobi was closer than he ever was to just giving up and letting events take their coarse. It'd seemed nothing he did made anything better. Or maybe that was the problem, that it was only him trying. Rubbing his temples, he dismissed Naruto with a reminder not to tell anyone of what they'd discussed. As enlightening as the conversation was, he wasn't sure how he could change anything. It was basically more proof that he was powerless to stop this calamity from happening.
Friday, July 14th, 8AKNT
Sakura was the first to notice Naruto's discomfort. He hid it well, but she knew better. He'd always been deceptively attentive, appearing to be absentminded when he could be memorizing your every word. He never hid his emotions from those he knew, only on guard when the situation needed it. This was the first time she'd seen Naruto trying to hide his discomfort. Actually hide it.
"Hey Naruto, what's wrong?" The only way an 8-year-old could really ask.
He signed, before taking her hand and quickly walking to one of the large, leafy green pine trees. He eased himself onto the bark with Sakura, before laying his head on her shoulders. Within the first few weeks that Sakura had actually got to known Naruto, she'd discovered that he was a very physical person. Well, not very, just naturally. It took her some getting used to, but the contact they'd shared, was calming. She couldn't imaging Naruto without it now, nor could she imaging being with Naruto without touching some way. Only Naruto. To think she'd been worried about not having friends only months ago.
"I'm worried about something, but I can't tell you. The Hokage made me promise not to, because its... a secret of the village. I shouldn't even know about it. But I do, and I have to make a choice. I don't even know what the choices are, let alone which one is the right one." Naruto trailed off, biting his lip. Sakura couldn't stand to see Naruto like this. He'd never been unsure of himself. Ever. And even if he had, she was sure he knew that he would always have tried his best. So she did the only thing she could. She buried his moistening face into her torso, trying to smooth out his fears by clenching his hair. In the past few months, she'd changed so much with Naruto. For the better. There couldn't let him down now.
"I-I just need you to hold me." He squeaked out in a childish voice.
Most of the scenes before Naruto confronting Itachi were pulled from both the anime and manga, with some spicing up of the dialogue. It needs more work, and the rest of the chapter does as well. Also wondering what part of the next chapter I should roll into this one instead, but I figured I'd release this one for some feedback now. Itachi telling Sasuke would be in here, but that also needs a lot more work. As usual, please remark on anything to improve, especially continuity with the general canon plot, which is important for these early chapters. The character stuff, that'll come with time.