Disclaimer: Naruto and its characters belong to Kishi.

It was the first week of May. On other parts of the world, plants were starting to bloom and the sun shone brighter, giving way to warmer weather. However in this particular small village up north, people still wore their winter clothes and boots to keep warm. Even with the middle of the year drawing closer, the temperature remained bitterly cold. Needle-like frost covered most of its streets, foliage and rooftops, an occurrence which happened so often that it led to the place being named as Shimogakure, the Village Hidden in the Frost.

In one of its quieter roads near the village's outskirts stood two figures. One was unusually tall, with a built larger than that of an average man. Strapped on his back was a bandaged sword that was nearly as tall as him, a deadly behemoth of a weapon which he carried with relative ease. Beside him stood another man. He was tall for his age and had the lean build typical of a shinobi. A gust of wind pushed the hood of his thick coat off of his head revealing pale skin and straight, jet-black hair which was secured in a low ponytail. The hitai-ate that he wore on his forehead featured the defaced symbol of Konoha, the Hidden Leaf Village. The young man was Itachi of the fallen Uchiha clan. He was in the middle of an acquisition mission with his partner, Kisame Hoshikagi who was also an S-rank shinobi and one of the seven Ninja Swordsmen of the Mist.

The blue-skinned giant made an irritated sound and scratched the back of his neck. Fog puffed out of the gills on his cheeks as he did. "Our contact is late. You don't think he got cold feet, do you?" he asked his younger partner. Itachi merely gave him a sideway glance but remained quiet. Though he wasn't grumbling about it, he too was getting impatient. The cold was starting to irritate him. He wasn't made for it, considering he was born and raised in a land known for its warm and humid weather. Fortunately they didn't have to wait for too long. A hooded figure emerged from the bend in the road ahead of them. As it drew nearer, gloved hands reached over and lowered its hood revealing an anxious-looking blonde woman. Her honey-colored eyes darted back and forth between the two of them.

"Are you Shibazaki-san?" Kisame asked gruffly, also pulling down his hood to reveal himself. He gave her a sharp-toothed grin as she gaped at the sight of him.

"Sorry I'm late," she replied, bowing down in apology. "I reckon you're here for the exchange."

"Ah. Take us to her."

Itachi noticed something flash across her beautiful features. She tried to suppress it, though he could tell she was having a hard time doing so.

"Follow me," she murmured.

The three of them made their way southwest to a small cluster of houses by a row of frosted cherry blossom trees. Kisame broke the silence with his usual small talk.

"Say, Itachi-san," he started, pulling his cloak tighter over his coat, "You've read the files right? This girl is your age. This ought to be interesting."

An uninterested sideway glance and a low "Hn" was all the swordsman got from him. He turned to the woman on his right, who looked like she was about to say something. She hesitated for a moment and said, "After today, take care of her for me, will you?"

Kisame snorted. "Seems to me like you've pegged us for babysitters, woman." The blonde grew quiet.

They rounded one more corner until they saw a small house erected a few yards away from the rest of the compound. It was further isolated from the rest of the villagers by the waist-high wooden fence which stood before a footpath lined by cherry blossoms. By the front door of the house stood a teenage girl. From afar, Itachi could tell she was a few inches shorter than Shibazaki-san and had shoulder-length dark hair. He recognized her from the photographs they had been provided with for this mission. It was her, their target. The girl ran towards them, stopping a few yards away. She eyed him and Kisame cautiously before greeting them with a bow. Then she turned to the woman on his right.

"Miyako, you silly girl," she smiled at her. "You didn't say you had visitors."

Kisame and Itachi exchanged glances. Miyako whispered a hushed "wait" to the both of them before going over to her. She took her by the elbows and led her away from them.

"What's the matter?"the dark-haired girl asked in a low voice. Despite having on warm clothes and a pair of gloves, a shiver still ran down her spine.

"They're here for you," Miyako replied, her chest constricting painfully as she did.

"Eh?" She gave them another worried glance. "I don't understand-"

"Shiori listen to me," the blonde cut her off. Honey-colored eyes shining with unshed tears locked on her grey ones. "These men are here to take you away from Shimo. They are shinobi and they are very, very dangerous. Do as you're told, no matter what. Do not talk back nor try to fight with them if you want to stay alive. I beg of you. Shiori...I'm so sorry. Forgive me." She cupped her cheek with a shaking gloved hand and began to weep in front of the stunned girl.

"Sotome Shiori," a deep voice boomed from behind Miyako. It was Itachi. "Shimogakure has sold you to the Akatsuki. Starting today you are a property and an asset of our organization. We will be taking you to the nearest headquarters. I prefer that you do not resist. I want to go through this transaction peacefully."

Gray locked on black. For a couple of seconds all she did was stare at him as though deliberating if there was truth behind his words. She could tell that there was.

This was real. It was happening. She glanced back at the weeping young woman in front of her and realized that she was on her own with this one.

"Miyako...what have you done?"

Before she could think twice, Shiori turned tail and ran for the opposite direction, ignoring her bestfriend's terrified pleas. Her heart thumped erratically at her throat as fear bled into her veins, putting her in a state of panic. She screamed in alarm as the dark-haired boy appeared in front of her. This time his irises glowed bright red. Three-fold tomoes swirled around each of his pupils. She couldn't stop in time and bumped against him.


"Don't touch me!" she shrieked, pushing away from him and turning back to the direction that she came from. She paused when she realized that Miyako and the beastly man had vanished. She called out for her bestfriend, afraid that she had been taken as well. Her head snapped back at where Itachi stood just seconds ago and realized that he was gone as well.

Wild eyes scanned her now empty surroundings. Everything was deathly still. The silence of top of that stillness was deafening.

'What the heck is happening?' she thought to herself, chin quivering from the adrenaline coursing all over her.

Without warning, a strong gust of wind blew against her face, making her squint in pain. It took with it the pink petals of the cherry blossom trees around her. As soon as half of the trees became bare, the detached petals began to swirl around her as though in a vortex. The tornado of ice and petals grew faster, making her hair whip painfully against her cheeks. She gasped loudly as breathing became difficult. She started clawing at her upturned collar in hopes that it would help her breathe. It didn't take long for her to go lightheaded. The tornado surrounding her faded into a pink blur and she felt herself tilt forward as consciousness slowly left her. Before she hit the ground she felt hands on her ribcage. Her lips brushed against warm and salty human skin. White erupted at the back of her eyelids before she fell on her attacker's arms, unconscious.

Miyako could only stare at Itachi and Shiori in silent shock. Everything happened so fast. Shiori had done the very thing she had begged her not to do and ran. Then the shinobi named Itachi went after her. She hadn't even noticed that he had moved until he was right in front of the dark-haired girl. That was when she began to act strange, screaming her name and looking wildly all over the place even though she stood no further than ten feet away from her. Before she realized what was happening, Shiori's eyes rolled upwards and she passed out. She would have face-planted to the ground as well if Itachi hadn't had the decency to catch her.

It was over. She had been captured.

"Pathetic," Kisame scoffed from behind. "She wasn't even under that mild genjutsu for more than five seconds and she's already spent."

Miyako's eyes widened in surprise. Her brother was a shinobi and she had seen him use genjutsu on several occasions while sparring. However neither he nor any of his comrades had performed such a feat that fast. Itachi hadn't even moved his hands. She could only stare as he walked past her with an unconscious Shiori in his arms.

"You job is done here," he told her before walking over to Kisame and dumping the limp girl on to his arms.

"Hey!" he protested, careful not to touch any part of her skin with his bare hands.

"Time to go Kisame. I've had enough of this place," Itachi said, irritation evident in his tone for the first time that day. The swordsman was too amused to notice this. He mistook the pink tinge on his partner's cheeks as a direct result of accidentally touching the poor girl where he shouldn't have and blamed the stoic boy's hormones for it. With a final nod, he hung Shiori over the bandaged blade of the Samehada which was propped over his shoulder and walked over to Itachi's side. The duo left a quiet Miyako to herself, leaving her alone to deal with the guilt that had began to haunt her.

"You sure you don't want to take a break, 'tachi-san? The next village is still a few hours away."

"We'll take a break when we get there," the Sharingan-wielder replied dismissively, pulling his hood over his head to cover his features.

"Suit yourself."

Though he remained stoic on the outside, Itachi was absolutely fuming within. His anger wasn't directed at the girl, who looked and acted like any other civilian he had met. It wasn't directed at Kisame who wouldn't stop complaining about everything or even at Miyako Shibazaki who made them wait. No, he was angry at himself.

Uchiha Itachi was human. He knew this. He also knew that despite the countless times he had been hailed as prodigious or exceptional, he was not perfect. He made mistakes. He just didn't expect himself to commit a mistake on a mission as simple as the one they just completed, one that Kisame had called a D-rank waste of time the day before. The mistake could have been so trivial had the consequences not been so dire.

It happened the moment that Shiori succumbed to his genjutsu. He had caught her just in time. His Sharingan even allowed him to see how her body was about to fall so he could catch her without bruising anything.

And then it happened. Her lips brushed against the skin on his collarbone. The contact didn't last more than a second and he didn't realize what this meant until after she had 'touched' him.

In an instant, the mission scroll flashed before his mind's eye. This girl's ability, the very reason Pain had ordered them to retrieve her, could only be activated by direct physical contact. Her surprised gasp just before passing out confirmed his worst fears.

She had read him. Sotome Shiori had glimpsed at his memories.

Author's Notes: The rumors are true. I did fall off the face of the Earth and had now just managed to climb back on it. So this is my first ever Naruto pic. For those who had read my previous works and are also reading this, THANK YOU! For those Naruto fans who took their time to read my first attempt on Narutoverse, THANK YOU! I've been toying with this idea for a very long time because

a: I'm a massive Itachi fantard (thought a few years off of Naruto, an entire college course and countless hospital hours could fix that but NAH). Had been since he first appeared in the earlier episodes. I knew something was off with the murder-my-clan-for-power rubbish he wanted all of us to believe. Nice try 'tachi. But I don't buy it. For some reason that made me root for him even more. I cried kittens when I found out the truth.

b: I'm challenging myself with this one, writing-wise. I was terrified to put this out here to be honest. I gave myself the tricky task of putting an OC in situations where a Mary Sue could easily thrive and have a field day in and try my very hardest to portray said OC in such a way that wouldn't have her acting like...well, that. The long-standing question of "If a real human were to be placed in this situation how would she act?" is again placed under the spotlight. It's harder than it sounds trust me. Because it's sooo easy to slap on a Mary Sue whenever a difficult situation arises.

Anyways, as usual I'd like to hear your thoughts with this one. Come on guys clue me in. Reviews would be super duper awesome.