Beta-ed by Jenny-Cat-Miaow.
A new time travel fic that I work on every now and then.
Subtle things in the chapter are subject to change upon my own later review. (I might change sentence construction. Nothing major.)
I do not own Naruto
Uchiha Itachi was generally a Shinobi who was very, very, good at keeping his emotional responses off of his features. In fact, most times, even his own family couldn't tell what was going on in his mind. This wasn't something the young ninja was particularly proud of, it was merely something that was.
He was also a ninja that prided himself in his ability to keep his emotions in check in any sort of situation that might arise, no matter what it might be connected to.
However, the night he was wrenched from his light sleep by the sound of a young agonising scream, no one really blamed him for funning from his room in an near blind panic and straight into his younger brother's, where the scream had come from.
At the sight that greeted him upon arrival to his precious younger brother's room, was a sight that would haunt him to his dying day.
Falling to his knees, eyes wide with shock and disbelief, the twelve year old ninja found himself at a loss for what to do next and that was a very foreign feeling for him, because no one had ever told him what to do when eyes were doing that.
Sasuke turned wide fear filled eyes towards his older brother as blood ran down his face like tears. He didn't say a word as the usually black depths zapped between red and onyx, as though they were trying to reach the state of the Sharingan but weren't quite able.
Itachi's own eyes were blazing a deep blood red, recording every moment of his younger brother's terror in startling detail, a sight he never wished to see ever again but knew that now it would haunt his sleep till he died. That was a certainty.
"Aniki, why . . ." Sasuke managed to gasp out but he couldn't finish the sentence, a sentence that was hardly referring to his eyes and more to the fact that Itachi was there at all.
It was only then that Mikoto and Fugaku, having been so much slower than the twelve year old genius, arrived in the room. Mikoto saw Sasuke and screamed while the tiny five year old looked more than a little shell shocked. Fugaku, true to his ninja reflexes, immediately began looking for the threat.
"Sasuke!" A sharp bark of command better suited for the Konoha Police and not a stunned five year old boy, "What happened?"
"I . . ." Sasuke knew that the next words that come out of his mouth were so very crucial and that he couldn't screw this up because clearly, there was something very wrong going on here. "I had a very bad dream. Everyone had died." A tiny traumatised statement of pure agony, enough to convince those in the room of its plausibility. Sharingan, after all, were known for reacting to extreme emotional responses.
Sasuke's eyes had finally decided to settle on large deep black, eyes that usually looked at Itachi with such adoration. Now . . . they looked strangely weary, exhausted.
Mikoto snapped out of her daze, Itachi still kneeling on the floor and staring in abstract horror at the blood stained face of the little brother he held so dear. The mother ran to her child before scooping him up into a tight hug.
Itachi was the only one that noticed the flinch.
Sasuke was taken from the room, Mikoto muttering about cleaning up the blood while Fugaku muttered about damage done to the boy's eyes. Itachi grit his teeth at the muttered statement. Ah, yes, those precious Sharingan eyes. Wouldn't want to lose those, never mind the child.
He very nearly said the sarcastic remark out loud but by some grace of Kami managed to bite his tongue.
Fugaku sent a disapproving glare at his oldest son, who was still wide eyed and kneeing on the floor. The boy hadn't reacted as he should've, completely freezing up. They were going to have to talk about that, fix it.
A smaller part of him, one that was mostly ignored, rejoiced at the fact that Itachi had shown emotion at all.
All the while, Sasuke remained silent, thinking to himself, "What the hell is going on?"
Itachi threw another kunai, not even taking note of its trajectory and its landing as it didn't hit the bull's-eye.
"You're uncharacteristically off your game today, Itachi-kun."
"Sasuke-kun woke me up this morning, early." Itachi replied, tilting his head slightly in acknowledgement as Shisui approached his little clearing. It was a clearing that was only slightly away from the Uchiha compound but Itachi had felt he needed the break.
"And? Did he ask you to train him again?" Shisui was confused but he hid his confusion well and Itachi silently applauded him.
"He screamed, as though someone was trying to gauge out his eyes. I ran to his room to see his face covered in blood, eyes trying and failing to reach Sharingan activation." Itachi elaborated in his usual dead monotone. "He claims to have had a nightmare."
"If a nightmare was all it took to activate our Kekkei Genkai, then we would have activated our eyes a long time ago Itachi-kun." Shisui wasn't lecturing him, wasn't belittling him, only agreeing with what he knew Itachi to be thinking already.
"Exactly." Itachi replied. "There's more to this, something that I'm missing but Sasuke-kun had been with Okaa-san and Otou-san since it happened." Itachi's eyes flared and bled into red. "There was something there, something I can't put my finger on."
"Something as in another presence?" Shisui asked, tilting his head slightly, wondering if it was emotion that guided Itachi's use of the Sharingan or if it was for analytical purposes.
"No, it was something with the boy himself. Something is off." Itachi frowned, Sharingan deactivating.
"Perhaps if you explain it to me, you'll gain a better understanding yourself." Shisui suggested.
"No. That's just it. It isn't something I can put any name to. It's just something I feel."
Shisui almost jerked in surprise. Itachi was never one to base anything on feeling. He was always so cold and analytical. So this had to mean something. The problem was, what exactly did it mean?
"Well then, I guess we should head over to the archives, try and find any similar incidents documented." Shisui turned to do just that, expecting the younger boy to follow him but Itachi's clipped and almost angry reply stopped him.
"I've already been and there's nothing. Not a single occurrence of nightmare induced Sharingan false activation. Nothing even close. " Itachi was angry at the lack of information, the lack of anything to compare whatever it was that was happening to young Sasuke with.
Shisui frowned before pulling out his own kunai and throwing it to land directly next to Itachi's.
When Haruno Sakura screamed in her own bedroom across the village, it wasn't half as excruciatingly sounding so her tearfully mumbled excuse that it was a nightmare was actually believed without suspicion.
A warm cup of honey-ed milk was placed in her hands while larger, warmer and slightly rougher hands brushed soft pastel pink locks from her face so that a soft loving kiss filled with a paternal warmth could be brushed against her forehead.
Her door was left open the tiniest crack so that light spilled in and she was left to return to the world of blissful sleep.
Inwardly, she found herself completely baffled and unable to fully comprehend what had just happened. "What the hell is going on?" a question that she wasn't alone in thinking to herself as she absently sipped her drink.
And yet in another direction, also clear across the village, Uzumaki Naruto was wrenched from his sleep with a gasp of pain. He did not cry out as wave upon wave of searing throbs pulsed through his little body, most of the pain concentrated in the area around his seal. There wasn't a soul around to hear his pained whimpers. There wasn't anyone to rush into his dark room with concerned panic.
There wasn't a single person to brush away his tears and comfort him back to sleep.
"What the hell is going on?" was all that the young blond could comprehend through the pain, but there was no one around to answer. There wasn't even anyone around to realise there was a problem at all.
Not much had happened in Sasuke's life after his nightmare that wasn't. There had been no further incident and for all intents and purposes the little five year old Uchiha had gone back to acting exactly as he used to. No Sharingan, no mental trauma and no further nightmares.
Itachi stopped watching him so intently, stopped fearing his precious little brother was about to break. He even relaxed some and returned to his own routine, the incident not really forgotten, just shelved for the-things-to-do-while-I-have-nothing-else-to-do.
Fugaku and Mikoto didn't speak about it, didn't even really acknowledge that it had happened at all. They were far to content to accept it for the nightmare Sasuke said it was.
They even began talking about sending Sasuke to the Academy, a few thinly implied remarks that perhaps Sasuke's Sharingan would awaken before Itachi's but the idea was not a serious one and never really brought up more than in passing.
As for Sasuke himself, he pretended that he was the five year old Uchiha everyone thought he was, the act itself surprisingly easy to fall into despite the fact that every time his eyes fell upon his family members he wanted to start screaming and screaming and just not stop.
Sakura's parents asked her the next morning if she had slept ohkay and even asked her the next morning, but then after that the question was never bought up again. She didn't say anything about her true problem, merely expressing an interest in joining the ninja Academy, where she would be attending kunoichi classes, where she would undoubtedly be teased about her larger than normal forehead and where she would make her very first and bestest friend in Yamanaka Ino.
But all that was not mention. Instead her parents hummed at the idea of her desire for wanting to be a ninja, smiling enduringly as she spoke in overly excited and semi loud tones about the amazing aspects that were sure to come from being a ninja, none of which were remotely true as she had experience in the matter.
She knew that at the current moment her parents were allowing her to indulge in a childish fantasy that they hoped she grew out of but by the second month of persistent pleading, they finally let up and agreed to send her to kunoichi classes where she would learn about flowers and how to blend into societies she had not been born into, a subtle art of deception that Sakura had been putting into practise since the night of her 'bad dream', classes which were not a part of the actual Academy. She'd only start there a little later.
Uzumaki Naruto started in hell and slowly slid downhill from there.
He was utterly alone, not even able to contact the fox as his seal was now wound so tight that hardly any chakra leaked through at all and it reminded him that the seal had only been cracked on that Wave mission.
Silently he commended the Yondaime on his ability to think that far ahead, meaning that he wouldn't fall into a Kyuubi chakra rage filled state while throwing a tantrum when he was a mere child and that the chakra would only aid him in such a fashion when his live was in danger enough to warrant cracking the seal in the first place.
Still, that left him alone, weak and vulnerable.
Alone. With no one to start talking about sending him to the Academy because his very first precious person had been Iruka-sensei.
How had he handled this terrible, crushing loneliness the first time?
Oh right, he'd hardly known what it meant to have a precious person in the first place. He'd only been trying to gain one.
Finally, finally, did he understand what it meant having something so precious and lose it, as opposed to never having known what it was like to have that something precious in the first place.
Finally he understood Sasuke's pain.
Soon, very soon, he knew that he was going to do something he probably shouldn't but he knew that he'd be too far gone in this perdition of utter solitude to even care.
It was four months before Naruto's sixth birthday that the blond boy finally snapped. He didn't go on a rampage, he didn't attack any of the adults that looked at him with those eyes. He didn't crawl into a ball and cry like he had been doing since that night he'd awoken in pain.
No . . . he snuck into the ANBU headquarters, looking for someone very specific.
He'd tried the usual places he thought the ninja to be but hadn't seen him so that had lead him to look within the ANBU ranks. He'd watched the shadows that weren't, looking for the one person that he needed, but had had no such luck.
So he'd waited and watched directly outside the ANBU headquarters, waiting for the one person he was looking for. He was surprised to note a lot of people he had known entering the building wearing the masks of anonymity but he approached none of them.
Not until he spotted the tired gait of a familiar ANBU returning from a mission.
He left his spot of hiding, making his way into the building of Konoha's best, not at all surprised when none of them spotted him. They were arrogant on their home turf and far too tired to be vigilant within a building that held the best that Konoha had.
"Inu-san." Naruto greeted softly, spotting the ANBU he wanted limping slightly out of the report office.
He didn't sneak right up to the teen, knowing that was foolishly like asking to die. Instead he stood at a slight distance, no longer trying to mask his presence. He stayed where he was when the masked face turned to him, entire body tensing.
"Uzumaki." Came the stiff, weary reply. "You should not be here."
"I noticed you hadn't been on my shift for a while." Naruto continued and he had noticed, surprised by the presence of the ANBU in the first place. He'd never even dreamed that the Sandaime would set the ANBU to babysitting him as he grew. He wondered why none of them had ever stopped him from doing half the pranks he had. But then perhaps they had been ordered not to let him know they were there in the first place.
"You know about the ANBU?" Naruto nearly scoffed at the disbelief in the teen's voice.
"Hai. And you haven't been there for a while. I wanted to see if you were alright." Naruto replied despite the desire to roll his eyes.
"I do not control the missions I get, Uzumaki." Inu had started walking, apparently deeming Naruto harmless, or perhaps really needing to get somewhere else. Did he start his tardiness now, while in ANBU?
"I know. Doesn't stop me from coming to see you now does it?" Naruto replied with a grin. "I was . . ." He didn't say lonely because that would be like admitting he was losing himself to this desolate existence he'd been thrust into once again and that was not the way he was.
He'd survived this once, he'd do so again.
"Even if you shouldn't be here in the first place." A statement but not a rebuke. "What is it that you want anyway?"
"Sign my permission form to enter the Academy?" Naruto answered immediately, grinning at the ANBU's perceptiveness.
"Hn." Inu had stopped now, as though contemplating something. Perhaps he was wondering why Naruto was asking him at all. Perhaps he was wondering how Naruto knew to talk to him or why the boy was doing so in the first place.
By now other ANBU were giving them odd looks, seen only when they slowed down slightly as they walked past the five year old and the nineteen year old. "Hokage-sama has already signed the forms. You were to be informed later this month when Hokage-sama came to give you your allowance." Inu eventually stated.
"Oh." Naruto pouted, realising that now he didn't have a reason to talk to Inu any longer and it was back to his lonely, empty apartment where he had nothing to do but wait for that monthly visit from the old man who never answered his questions.
Also he wasn't sure he even wanted to see the old man at the moment. This whole thing was still rather new to him and facing a man who's death he'd already grieved and accepted was not something he felt ready to do just yet.
"Still having nightmares?" Inu suddenly asked, almost sounding as though he regretted doing so in the first place.
Naruto blinked at the teen in surprise and the ANBU shifted uncomfortably. "You saw that?" Naruto whispered, not actually aware that he had said anything at all until Inu nodded.
"It wasn't a nightmare." Naruto muttered looking away. His shoulder was instantly grabbed as Inu knelt closer to him, moving closer to his physical level.
"What was it?" A demand of a captain, no longer a teen amused and indulging a young outcast boy.
Naruto shook his head and made to pull away. "Nothing. It hasn't happened again."
Inu was utterly silent as he studied the blond in front of him. Naruto could almost hear him thinking and that was an odd feeling. He didn't dare say a word, least Inu ask him about it again. Inu was a very hard person to lie to.
Naruto yelled in surprise when he was lifted from the floor and tucked under Inu's arm. The young ANBU made his way towards the ANBU showers. The blond was deposited near the door with a barked, "Stay here." Before Inu went into the room and probably had the quickest shower of his life.
When he came out again his hair was dripping and his armour was gone, replaced by the ANBU equivalent of casual clothes.
Naruto gaped up in surprise when he saw that Inu's ANBU mask was gone as well.
Kakashi was frowning at him, looking more than a little thoughtful. He picked Naruto up once again, and Naruto heard him mutter "I'm so going to get into trouble for this."
Kakashi ignored the outright stares that were receiving from the other ANBU now. One was even brave enough to splutter out an almost fearful, "Oh Hatake, now you've done it."
"Are you supposed to be ignoring me?" Naruto asked very quietly.
"I'm not supposed to have any contact with you, yes." Kakashi replied dismissively. If the teen was surprised that Naruto didn't reply he didn't show it. Naruto merely nodded, knowing that it was probably due to Kakashi's connections to his father and his own dangerous reputation that made the Sandaime keep him away from Naruto.
Kakashi opened a door, revealing a small, neat room that barely held anything more than a bed. There were ninja tools here and there and also the equipment needed to care for those tools. There was a chest of drawers that Naruto figured held Kakashi's clothes but otherwise there was nothing personal in the room to say that this room belonged to Kakashi at all. Not even an Icha Icha book.
Naruto was tossed onto the bed while Kakashi began to pull off his shoes.
"Now what?" Naruto asked, genuinely confused as to what Kakashi was doing?
"We sleep. I'm tired. You're tired. And I sure as hell don't have the energy to make sure you get back home." Kakashi replied simply yanking off Naruto's shoes when it appeared that Naruto was too shocked to do it himself.
"B-but I'm not tired." Naruto tried to protest, this whole idea rather foreign to him, bringing back memories of running from the very man simply because he'd stated he was starting to like Naruto.
Kakashi snorted. "Please. Have you looked in a mirror lately?" he pulled out a kunai, holding it in front of Naruto but not letting him take the sharp weapon.
Looking into the reflective surface Naruto saw the distorted image of his own face staring back at him in exhausted curiosity. He hadn't even realised that his eyes had such dark rings around them. He hadn't even realised he wasn't getting the sleep he needed.
The kunai was replaced and Kakashi lifted him before climbing onto the bed himself, not bothering with the blanket.
Naruto was too stunned to do much more than allow Kakashi to pull him against his chest with a muffled, "Go to sleep." By Kakashi's even light breaths and low chakra, Naruto figured that Kakashi had done just that himself.
He jerked slightly in surprise when chakra leaked in tiny amounts from Kakashi and wrapped around him, giving him the sense that he was safe, protected. Kakashi was tired. He'd just returned from a mission and still he found the strength to do this for Naruto whom he had probably guessed had come here because he was lonely and had assumed he was having trouble sleeping because of nightmares.
This was Kakashi's way of trying to fix it, to make Naruto feel better. And he would never comprehend just how much it meant to the blond who closed his eyes and matched his breathing to Kakashi's.
And with that Naruto slept, having the best night's sleep probably in his entire life.
Naruto was woken from his sleep when an arm tightened around his middle. He didn't open his own eyes nor indicate in any way that he was actually awake so he heard the hushed conversation that took place around him.
"Release the boy, Hatake." A gloved hand was already taking hold of Naruto's arm that he kept limp, ignoring the instinct to fight it off.
"He needs sleep." Kakashi's breath whooshed over his hair, moving the blond strands. "So if you wake him, our next sparing session is going to suck very much so . . . for you."
That gloved hand hesitated slightly. "Hokage-sama wishes to see you. I apologise for disturbing your sleep." The person really did sound remorseful.
"Yeah, yeah Tenzou, now make your chakra light and friendly, or else I'm not letting go. You better hurry, he might wake up. I know that being an ANBU and all makes that request seem rather odd and possibly impossible but you are not handling him with that leaking through."
Kakashi could really be a dick when he wanted to but Naruto felt the natural waves of cold aloofness within Tenzou's chakra, something all ANBU had and had to consciously control when around other people. If an ANBU was lucky enough to survive long enough to retire from ANBU, it took them awhile to flush the feeling out of their chakra entirely.
He sensed it as Tenzou struggled to erase it, struggled to bring his chakra into submission enough to satisfy Kakashi into releasing Naruto into his care.
"He whimpers in his sleep you now." Kakashi stated very quietly, more so than what he had been speaking thus far. "I can't believe I'm not allowed to be anywhere near him."
"Just until he's a genin, Kakashi." Tenzou seemed to be trying to comfort Kakashi, like this was a sore topic for the older ANBU teen.
"I know." Kakashi sighed. "You know he came here, to me. Said he wanted to see if I was alright. I don't really know what to make of it." Kakashi carefully pulled his arm away and Naruto immediately felt the loss of its warmth. Apparently Tenzou had reached the level that satisfied Kakashi into handing over the blond.
Without realising it, Naruto had clutched Kakashi's shirt in his sleep. He was still grasping the black fabric, warm fingers gently prying his tiny ones away from Kakashi's shirt.
"Some people are saying that you're breaking the rules, Kakashi." Tenzou warned. "If he comes here again, I don't think the Sandaime will brush it off. As it is I heard he's furious. Apparently, the squad that was supposed to be watching him weren't watching him as closely as they were supposed to be. So there's no one to really say whether he stumbled into the headquarters on his own, or if you bought him here. Sadaime's mostly angry because he doesn't actually know whether he has to punish you or not because he knows you'll deny it if he asks you if you bought Naruto here. He was yelling something about ANBU not being a place for a child. A little hypocritical considering he let you join ANBU at fourteen, and me at just about the same age."
Naruto heard Kakashi's sigh, felt the tiny jump in the teen's chakra but it didn't last long enough for the blond to identify which emotion it was. "I don't care what others think. Just make sure he gets home ohkay. And don't wake him up. He still looks terrible. No five year old should look like that."
Naruto remained limp and unresponsive as Tenzou did his very best to lift him from Kakashi's side without waking him, unaware that Naruto had been awake from the start.
Cool armour met his bare arms and Naruto almost flinched. He wondered what his actions were going to do to Kakashi, if he was going to get into trouble because of it. Guilt was heavy on his heart at that thought and he wondered if it would be more harmful to visit the teen again or to simply stay away.
When the Hokage came that month to give Naruto his allowance, the blond boy was unusually quiet. He merely accepted the money with a mumbled thank-you. He didn't ask anything of the Sandaime, didn't even look at the aged Hokage.
"Is everything alright, Naruto?" Sarutobi asked, wondering if someone had gotten to the boy without his knowing about it.
"Yeah, just haven't really woken up yet." Naruto replied, lying through his teeth in the hopes that the Hokage would leave him be. He even added a large grin.
He didn't know if the Hokage believed his words or if he was simply letting the matter drop for now. Instead he smiled his own warm smile before informing Naruto that he was going to start at the Academy next semester.
Naruto showed his excitement, not all of it faked and it seemed to pacify the Hokage because he left after that with a smile on his features.
Naruto was the first of Team 7 to enter the Academy. Always had been. He'd been through two homeroom teachers before finally ending up with Iruka sensei. He supposed it was time to start those pranks again. People were going to start to wonder about him if he didn't let them know that he was still alive, but first there was something he had to do.
Kakashi limped into the mess hall, a plate of food in one hand as he made his way over to an empty table.
He almost winced when he thought of the meeting that had followed Naruto's little visit. The Sandaime, to sum it all up, had denied him medical treatment via chakra methods. He was allowed pain medication and disinfectant. Something about his wounds clearly not being all that serious if he was able to play with five year olds.
The old man wasn't unreasonable. He hadn't sent Kakashi on a mission since, leaving the nineteen year old at the base and really bored and uncomfortable due to the kunai that had landed in his thigh on that last mission.
He understood why the Hokage was angry but he still felt it was unfair, considering he hadn't broken any of the rules. How was he to know that the little blond would find his way into the ANBU base and approach him like he was an old friend or something? He hadn't encouraged it in any way as some seemed to think.
"Senpai." Tenzou greeted as he sat down across from Kakashi, his own food tray in his hand and perhaps the only one that believed Kakashi when he said Naruto had wondered in here on his own.
Kakashi looked up from the food he'd really only been picking at, looking towards the other unmasked ANBU but he didn't say a word. Tenzou was eating silently, knowing that Kakashi wasn't really in the mood to talk.
Kakashi continued to pick at his food, content to slash at the carrot on his plate with a kunai that really shouldn't be used as an eating utensil.
"You know, I'm not really one for vegetables either, but I have heard a phrase that's something along the lines of 'don't play with your food'. Never had it said to me though. Either way, I'm not much one for rules." A cheerful voice interrupted his musing yet again as an unfamiliar ANBU sat down next to him as though Kakashi wasn't giving him the death glare of all death glares.
A childish giggle was all he got for his efforts before large innocent blue eyes looked at him with a mischievous twinkle. "You're never going to believe the stuff they teach at the Academy these days. I walked past one of the older classes and saw this guy teaching his class the henge jutsu. I'd say I got it down, wouldn't you?"
"N-Naruto?" Kakashi managed to ask very, very quietly.
"Jip, one and only. So Inu-san, what's got you so grumpy?" the not-so-blond-right-now replied.
"What are you doing here?" Kakashi very nearly choked when he thought of what the Sandaime would do to him this time.
However, he had to admit, the kid's henge was nearly flawless. Just those eyes, which he'd probably left like that on purpose.
"I wanted to give you this, and to say thank-you. I haven't had a nightmare since." Naruto smiled softly at him before presenting him with a small container. "I crashed a kunoichi lesson as well, since it was a kunoichi lesson, so boys weren't allowed and I wanted to know what they learnt in there. Was about flowers and stuff, and they were doing this lesson on healing herbs. I know what the Hokage did, after I uhm, came to ask you to sign my permission form." Naruto looked away, guilt written on every single one of his features.
Kakashi lifted a hand without thinking and curled it around the offered gift. With every encounter he found himself more and more amazed by this kid. Was he a genius, just like his father? All previous reports said otherwise. Yet here he was, in a henge perfect enough to fool the ANBU, having snuck into their base not once but twice. And he was only five years old.
"I guess I should go, before I'm missed. You know I'm technically still at the Academy, technically. Just the teachers don't really care when I'm not where I'm supposed to be." There was a hint of sadness behind that smile and Kakashi wished he could do something about it, but it would be odd if he suddenly hugged an ANBU. It would give the game away.
"Before I forget, try to avoid village patrol duty for the next week or so." Naruto's grin made Kakashi want to shiver. "I plan to exploit a weakness I spotted the other day and, well I would hate to see what Jiji does to those on duty at the time of the exploiting."
Naruto stood again, not lingering any longer than to say what he needed. He didn't even wait for Kakashi to reply. He simply walked straight out again, hands in pockets, and perhaps even humming a cheerful tune.
"You know senpai, I think that boy is going to be brilliant one day." Tenzou managed to say once he'd finally remembered how to close his mouth. Kakashi allowed a smirk to grace his features. "Yeah, and I get to be his jonin-sensei."
It was only later that they learnt of what Naruto had done before coming to see them. He'd apparently decided that the ANBU needed new decorations and had set off paint explosives with a twist. The entire place now looked like a multi-coloured funhouse, with the added stinger of "Compliments of Uzumaki Naruto. Suck on that. Besides, without this little paint job, you'd never even know I was here." There were some rude signs and gestures added in, that Kakashi made the mistake of snickering at.
He and Tenzou were both assigned to clean off the paint, not that they minded. It meant no patrol duty for a week. Besides, he made Tenzou do most of the work. Tenzou amended his earlier statement to, "Brilliantly destructive."
Later Kakashi found himself staring at the little container Naruto had given him. Naruto himself would never have need for such a thing, Kyuubi taking care of his injuries. But Naruto didn't know that and had probably thought the skill useful to learn.
Kakashi knew for a fact that the healing herbs were something only taught to the older kunoichi so Naruto had probably crashed a class of learners about to graduate.
Kakashi wondered if the ointment actually did what it was supposed to, knowing that it took some level of skill to actually get it right. Scooping the container up into his hand, the teen opened it carefully to study the contents inside. He wasn't foolish enough to simply trust that it would work. After all, it had been made by a five year old who up till now, had questionable methods for dealing with things. He was also starting to gain his reputation as a prankster.
Kakashi frowned when the light shone over the ointment inside the container, revealing a bright electric blue substance that had a metallic shine to it. Curious, he shushined to the intel department. Approaching one of the medic nins he was instantly met with nervous stutters, "We're under orders Hakata-san. We can't treat you."
"Relax, relax, I just want to know what this is. It was a present and you know us ANBU, paranoid as hell. It's supposed to be healing ointment." Kakashi waved a hand, inwardly frowning at the fact that they were so nervous around him.
The medic nin looked at the offered container and took it with surprising gentleness, a weird sense of content relief on their features.
They took only the smallest amount, frowning at the colour as well before carefully studying the substance under some equipment that Kakashi never cared to learn about.
"Amazing." The medic nin muttered.
Kakashi tilted his head, wondering what was so amazing but patient enough to wait as the medic nin seemed to be engrossed in their task.
"No need to worry about this Hatake-san. It'll heal your wounds and then some. Whoever gaze this to you cared very much for your recovery. See it has all the normal ingredients in all the right quantities and it was blended correctly. This is easy to discern simply from the texture and density alone. However, what gives it the odd colour is the fact that it was rather painstakingly mixed with pure undiluted chakra. It's a common practise to mix chakra into the ointment while making it but not in this quantity. It not easy for one thing, and for another, there's probably enough chakra in this container to make a kage bunshin. That's not common at all. Medic nins aren't known for their reserves after all." The medic reported, still staring at the sample they had taken to study.
Kakashi nodded, shocked at what he was being told.
Naruto, you really are unpredictable aren't you?
Later that same day Hatake Kakashi, also known as the ANBU Inu, handed in his resignation. He'd been thinking about it anyway seeing as that last mission had seemed to put things into perspective for him. ANBU just wasn't for him anymore.
Tenzou still wasn't talking to him.
Itachi watched his younger brother as he lazily tossed the kunai towards the target. He wasn't surprised when the kunai didn't have enough forced to embed itself into the wood. He was even less surprised when the kunai itself didn't even bounce off the target from the centre and rather somewhere very near the edge.
What did surprise him was the fact that Sasuke had done that while in the presence of the other Uchiha who were mumbling about Sasuke's obvious ineptitude to be a ninja. A disgrace to the Uchiha Clan Head and name.
Sasuke, further surprising Itachi, seemed to find this hilariously funny and proceeded to laugh, despite the looks of shocked disbelief.
"What the hell is wrong with that boy?" Fugaku muttered. "I'm starting to think he's retarded.
Itachi frowned and carefully pulled out his own kunai, waiting for Sasuke to inevitably throw another kunai of his own. The boy tossed a kunai once again but this time Itachi tossed one as well. The two kunai clanked loudly, Sasuke's kunai having significantly more force than what one would originally believe from watching him throw it.
Sasuke growled in admittedly adorable anger when both of the kunai hit the centre, point first.
"Aniki! Don't interfere in my game." Sasuke scolded childishly.
"Ah, but Sasuke-kun, I was merely showing you where the centre was. I thought perhaps you'd forgotten." Itachi replied with a smile meant to further irritate the boy. But it didn't. He only blinked once before smirking and pulling out a kunai and a shuriken.
"But Aniki, hitting the centre every time hardly shows talent. In fact it's boring." The soon to be six year old informed him. "With enough practise, any idiot could do it. All I have to do is flick my wrist a certain way with enough force and then bam it'll hit the centre of this target every time. Therefore, hitting the centre is just an illusion of skill."
"Hai, which is why you've been hitting the target at exactly 30 degree intervals around the edge exactly one inch away from it, throwing the kunai so that anything but the pointed end would hit." Itachi unravelled the boy's game in a single statement making him pout while the others around them gawked in stunned silence, having not realised this themselves.
"So, you're saying that I need to throw things like this," Sasuke tossed the shuriken in front of his face before tossing the kunai so that the point went through the centre of the shuriken, embedding both in the bull's-eye of the target. "Like that?"
"Without the showing off part, yes." Itachi gave a tiny smirk of his own. Sometimes it felt like he was talking to a miniature adult when he was faced with his brother.
Sasuke smiled at him, the same sort of smile he got just before he challenged Itachi in some way, not always obvious to the older Uchiha but making Sasuke happy all the same. "I'm not sure I understand Aniki, perhaps you can show me some more." Sasuke's smile widened before tossing a shuriken, this one having no real direction or even force.
Itachi reacted immediately, throwing his own shuriken so that it hit the centre of an unoccupied target. Sasuke hadn't indicated which target he was supposed to hit so it wasn't against the young boy's self-set rules.
"You're a sucker for punishment Itachi-kun." Shisui chuckled from behind him, leaning against one of the pillars to the dojo. "But I guess you're right when you say that that boy is a mystery within a mystery sometimes. Perhaps he's an even bigger genius than you are?"
"No way! Itachi-nii is the bestest." Sasuke yelled happily from across the training ground as he ran around in random circles, tossing kunai and shuriken every which way.
It was now all a point of Itachi's reputation to make sure every one of those hit some centre of something. It was actually testing his skills which was a feat in itself and he was beginning to think Sasuke was aware of this. In fact Sasuke always managed to find some childishly gleeful way to push the limits of his skills, which not even his enemy could do that.
Either Shisui took pity on him or decided the exercise was worth a shot because he starting tossing kunai at Sasuke's projectiles too which only made Sasuke laugh more.
Sasuke wasn't blind this time to the increasingly suspicious activity that took place within and around his home as time passed. Itachi grew more and more withdrawn, Sasuke becoming less and less able to goad him into those little impromptu training sessions.
Just from watching his bother train, react to his childish challenges, Sasuke saw and learnt a lot, realising just why Itachi was called a genius and he hadn't been. His brother was incredible and he wondered in what reality he'd ever thought he was ever capable of coming close to matching that perfection.
That fight with his brother, the one where he'd killed him . . . that had been a joke.
Sasuke could see the fate of the Uchiha clan playing out in front of him and the more he saw the more he realised that it was impossible for him to stop. There was nothing he could do to change it, unless he revealed truths that did not need revealing . . . no, not even then.
All he could do was watch sadly as his brother lost himself to the duty he'd placed upon his own shoulders, silently supporting his brother in any way that he could. He would be the younger brother this time that he had failed so miserably to be last time.
"Aniki, do you think father will come to the ceremony tomorrow?" Sasuke asked quietly, staring out at the garden. Usually, this question would be followed by a request to train but he hadn't asked that of his brother since the night he had had that 'nightmare'.
As it was, this time the first time around, his brother had been carrying him home after he'd sprained an ankle trying to mimic something he'd seen his brother do. Those targets had always fascinated him, but now that he knew the trick behind it, he wasn't really all that impressed anymore. He had followed Itachi again today, watching him as he practised. This time he didn't reveal his presence, this time he noticed that Itachi was distracted, going through the motions and not really practising something he had long since figured out. This time, he didn't ask his brother about the Uchiha Police force crest.
This time he was waiting at home for his brother to return so that he could ask the question he already knew the answer to.
The thirteen year old Uchiha looked down at the boy he had merely planned on passing, his thoughts on his father who had confronted him at the gate about being late, but stopped instead. He had sensed his younger brother's presence, lingering in the training ground to see if he would say anything, come out of his hiding spot, but the boy did not. Content to merely watch him practise with that same adoration in his eyes, only this time there was something deeper there, something Itachi couldn't quite put a finger on.
Itachi was now on his way to his father's meeting room, not at all concerned that this little impromptu conversation with Sasuke was further delaying him from something he was already late for. This meeting was about a mission that Itachi wasn't planning on going on. For some reason, he suspected Sasuke knew all of this already.
"Probably not." Itachi finally answered, having come to the conclusion some time ago that Sasuke did not like being lied to and almost always knew when he was, no matter who was doing the lying. He would frown before stating the exact opposite of what had been said to him, almost always the exact truth of the matter. But he never did that to anyone but Itachi.
"Will you come?" Sasuke already knew the answer.
"I would really want to, but I have a mission." Itachi answered.
"Thank-you. For being honest. And good luck on the ANBU mission." Sasuke got up and walked away. Itachi frowned at the statement, not realising that Sasuke had known the true purpose of tomorrow's mission but he supposed he should have guessed as much anyway.
Somehow, Itachi thought Sasuke wasn't as sad as he ought to be about his father not going to the entrance ceremony, that he'd already accepted these possibilities and that he had, in fact merely asked the questions because it was expected of him.