Happy Birthday Itachi!
This is a oneshot but if people like it enough, review it or message me and i might make it a multiple chapter thing!
Young women and men alike chattered excitedly and swarmed closer to the panel of waiting high rank shinobi. Kisame had been severely injured, meaning there was a temporary opening in the Akatsuki. Their leader had explicitly requested that all those recruited were medic ninja. The reason for that remained unknown.
Hikari looked enigmatically at the mass of fifty candidates. Little did they know, she had never been recruited. The woman had no interest in belonging to a criminal organization for any purpose other than her self-assigned mission. Keeping a small distance from the large crowd, she quickly snuck a peek at the nine deadly shinobi sitting at a long panel above them. Itachi sat on the end of the line, staring blankly into the distance past all of the prospects. It was clear that he had no interest in which shinobi would be selected. Hikari chuckled to herself. With all of the noise and drooling girls, he probably hated it here. A gaggle of young women squealed and talked among themselves, nearing Hikari.
"Hey, don't you want to get closer? I heard if we get near the middle there's a table where we can write our contact information! Maybe he'll see us and want to get in touch!" The woman smiled politely, but gestured her decline.
"That's okay, I'm good right here." The three girls shrugged, making their way deeper into the crowd. More confidence swelled inside her. She knew that she would never have to give her information in childish hopes of talking with the S-ranked Uchiha. If she followed her plan, there was no way she wouldn't be chosen out of everyone.
She glanced up at him once again, wondering if he had perhaps seen the brief exchange. To her shock, he blankly glanced back. Her heart skipped a beat in surprise. She quickly turned her head, pretending it had never happened. His attention shifted back into the distance. In another fifteen minutes, a blue haired woman rose up from the panel and approached the front of the stage, signaling for quiet.
"Attention candidates. We will begin the second preliminary round now. The fifty of you have all been selected from a large sample of shinobi across the nations for displaying exemplary shinobi skills. As you know, only one of you will be chosen as a temporary replacement on Itachi Uchiha's team." Excited murmuring and squealing ensued. The blue haired woman raised her hand once more. "Silence. Now, everyone will line up in numerical order with ten people per row. Five of the Akatsuki, Tobi, Diedara, Kazuku, Zetsu and myself will begin evaluating your applications for basic S-rank level characteristics. If we call out your number, you will exit the room and we will discard your application. When there are ten remaining, we will proceed with phase three. Are there any questions?" A woman's hand shot straight up.
"Will we be able to talk to Itachi-kun even if we don't get the job?" Girls around her squealed and laughed. Hikari cringed and rolled her eyes in irritation. The blue haired woman shot them a deadpan look.
"Only the selected candidate will be talking with Itachi. We begin now." The woman returned to her seat at the other edge of the panel, and began handing out their applications to her teammates. Hikari looked at the number in her hand. 33. Calmly, she filed in with the other 49 candidates into the third row. This would be a long wait.
It appeared that the first five members adopted a bracketing system to discard applications. They would go over two at once rather quickly, conferring with each other, putting prospects head to head.
"Number 11. You are excused," The blue haired woman called out. A defeated looking dark haired girl filed out shortly after. "Forty five, FAIL! Thirty eight, FAIL!" The long blonde haired man shouted. A masked figure next to him nudged him, urging him to lower his voice. With each number called out, the more assured Hikari felt, and the closer she was to her goal. She could do it.
Thirty left. Confidence now rushed through every part of her. Everything was going to go fine. The fear she felt before she saw Itachi was gone. She even dared to look directly at him now. He glanced back. The woman gave him a hint of a smile, knowing full well he wouldn't return the gesture in order to keep up his façade. But miraculously enough, his eyes didn't shut her out.
Finally, there were ten left. They were instructed to line up into a single row. Hikari lined up, now not only calm, but comfortable, unlike her competitors. She was filled with so much purpose and meaning. She looked at the other nine, curious as to what her competitors even looked like. What sort of a person would aspire to be a part of a high ranked terrorist organization? Did they share the Akatsuki's goals, or were they clueless fans of the eldest Uchiha? Seven of the ten of them were female. One man was built similar to his former partner. Another was slender, but looked highly intelligent. The third had a cold, sociopathic look in his eyes. Now, the orange haired man who sat beside Itachi rose and took the center of the stage.
"My name is Pein. The woman who you heard from before is Konan. I am the leader of the Akatsuki. The final ten of you have done very well to have remained here for so long. You are all S rank level ninja, with outstanding capabilities. We will now begin phase three. The remaining Akatsuki members, Sasori, Kisame, Itachi and I will be thoroughly reviewing your applications, to decide which of you will not only function best in the Akatsuki, but paired with Itachi's skill set. When we have narrowed in on a decision, we will ask each candidate one final question to defend yourselves. We will begin the final phase now."
The leader sat down, and opened up the first application. The three others began to read through the pages. Itachi merely turned his head, remaining only partially engaged. Hikari put her hand in her pocket, clenching the small piece of paper that was her only weapon. Her fate rested upon the words she had written. Her fate was almost guaranteed. Two candidates failed their final question and were disqualified. With each new assessment, her confidence did not falter. Every now and again, he would look into her smiling eyes. There was no fear looking at the Uchiha. Very soon, they would be working together.
Twenty minutes later, the eighth of ten finalists exited the room, leaving only one grey haired silver eyed girl and herself. Hikari was next in line. Finally she watched him read over her application. His expression did not change, but she noticed a light flicker in his eyes. He looked at her, who looked back with unfaltering smiling eyes. He read over the second application quickly, and mumbled his vote to Kisame. The leader spoke.
"We have come upon a problem. Both of your skill sets work well enough to be accepted into the Akatsuki as Itachi's teammate. Kisame and I on one hand favor one, while Sasori and Itachi favor another. In the end, Itachi will have the final decision." The leader got up once again, coming to the front of the stage. "We'll have to ask you questions against each other. We'll start with number 33. What is your name?"
In a warm, high, confident voice, she spoke.
"And why should he choose you?" With that question, Hikari finally reached into her pocket with beaming eyes and pulled out the small, white note that her very life rested upon. She smiled at him directly, and addressed the leader.
"This is for Itachi's eyes and Itachi's eyes only." The leader considered for a moment and nodded.
"Very well." Hikari gracefully handed the note her mission depended on to the leader, who handed it to Itachi. Every cell in Hikari's limbs was thrumming with energy. Kisame snickered.
"Is it a love letter?" The raven haired man calmly opened up the paper. To his surprise, the note was not written in normal letters but in the symbols he had not seen for many long years upon a stone lithograph. He looked at her with furrowed brows. Without a word, Itachi enabled his sharringan and read the only words that could ever possibly make him care about the outcome of this contest.
I know the secret behind the Uchiha Clan massacre.
Itachi looked at the boldly smiling woman now, and it was clear in his expression he viewed her in a new light. In his mind, Hikari projected a telepathic message.
I need to talk to you. If you value the wellbeing of your brother and the outcome of your mission, please hear what I have to say.
With expert skill in putting on an act, Itachi closed his eyes and sighed. For the first time, he spoke.
"I see. Pein, I need to have a word with this woman before I make my final decision." Her grey haired rival looked at her with surprise and jealousy and disgust. The rest of the group talked amongst each other in objection.
"Silence," Pein ordered. "We all trust Itachi's judgement enough to know that if he believes this is necessary, it must be so. If you do decide on her, we expect you to tell us exactly what message you received. When it comes to choosing members, there are no secrets within the Akatsuki." Itachi nodded, silently.
"What if it's an assassination attempt? If she's made it this far and attacks, she won't go down without a fight," Konan countered. The woman nodded her head knowingly.
"I don't want to fight anyone. Itachi is encouraged to bring any weapons he desires if he wishes. I unarmed myself at the door just like everyone else. You have my word." Itachi thought and considered, finally nodding. Hikari walked up the stairs to the waiting man, whom agitation emanated from. When she arrived, he walked towards the back of the panel.
"With me, Hikari." the man said calmly, yet sternly. The woman obeyed. He lead her past a snickering Kisame and serious looking Leader to a small room just behind them. The man gestured her inside and just before she entered, she glanced at her glaring competitor.
The room had a thick door and walls. Itachi shut them inside. His sharringan was still enabled.
"I'm from the Leaf Village," she whispered. "Quickly, you need to put me into a Tsukuyomi." Itachi was already ahead of her. Hikari boldly looked straight into his eyes as he cast his genjutsu. She could feel the flow of chakra in her brain distort until her surroundings were completely different. They were now floating in a space of formless colors, face to face. The woman looked around to make sure this wasn't a torture setup. Itachi's voice was stern, but otherwise still expressionless.
"What is the secret behind the Uchiha Clan Massacre? If you believe I have hidden motives for leaving my brother alive, you are mistaken." Hikari smiled dryly.
"I would have continued keeping the façade if I were in your position too. Nice try, but unfortunately, I'm not the one you can continue to hide the truth from. It's unfortunate, but I was able to pick up the secret while working with the elders. You read my application quite thoroughly. Hyper-intuition, remember? Do you know what that means?" Itachi looked at her inquisitively. "I try not to use the other word… it tends to rub others the wrong way. I keep it my secret."
"Clairvoyance..?" The woman grimly, nodded her head.
"Clairvoyance, clairaudience, advanced chakra sensing, empathy. I can do them all." The Uchiha reflected on this. He had never thought long about if such skills were truly possible. However, he too was extra intuitive. No one ever questioned how he arrived at his conclusions but the truth was that sometimes he just knew things instinctively. He would often pick up on feelings out of nothing and keep them to himself. He had even correctly guessed Sasuke would be born a male. If it was possible that he could just know information without any reason, then perhaps that skill could be extended in many directions and intensified to produce the skills this woman claimed she had.
"Claiming that you intuited a silly idea from the elders of my former village is explanation enough, but you have no evidence to support your claim. You're just a foolish girl with an overactive imagination and a false perception of reality." That accusation hurt Hikari. She had been told the same thing by others when she decided to let them in on her secret. Hearing it from a man she knew she could trust cut like a knife. The woman looked deeply into his eyes.
"Well, I'm obviously not an Uchiha. How do you think I found the lithographs? I can see into you, Itachi. And I hate to bring up old wounds but I need you to believe me and you give me no choice…" The woman looked straight into his waiting eyes again, boring into him. "I see a large battlefield with thousands of fallen shinobi. A man with a red uniform lies dying on the ground, begging for water. You hurry to give him what he needs, but he rises up to kill you. Without hesitation, you end his life at the age of four years old. Itachi, that battlefield is engraved in the back of your mind and it's imprinted itself onto your soul. Your own father-" Itachi raised his hand. As the woman told his story, his face grew more and more alive. His façade slipped away.
"Enough, Hikari. You've made your point." The woman was pleased with herself, despite is now evident discomfort. She gladly stopped speaking and lowered her head in sadness. Itachi looked at her with uncertainty. It was very much unlike him to be willing to disclose such intimate details of his inner self to a stranger, let alone to a woman his own age. Yet now he knew that guarding himself as he normally had would be futile. If it was for the sake of his mission, he would need to allow himself to open up, as painstaking as that was. "So, you say you worked with the elders, and picked up my secret from them. Why come here to me?"
"Because others know that I have picked up many village secrets. I was accepted into ANBU because it was the best place for me to gather secrets and keep them safe within the village. But if I were to die and my body were to be stolen, that information might fall into the wrong hands. I've learned how to block off my mind to keep them safe, but when I learned of your mission the risk of my independence became too great. I can't risk leaking the truth of the Uchiha when you've spent your entire life protecting the village and the future of your clan! It would go against all of my principles. That's why I'm asking you… please let me help you in any way that I can. I'll do anything."
"What if I refuse? If you have many village secrets, you're more of a threat to the village than I am. I could kill you here." Hikari closed her eyes and smiled with resolution.
"You have me in a genjutsu. You brought weapons. If you decide to dispose of me, I will be happy to die by your hand. However, you really don't want to do that. If I am to die here, this will be the last time you will have help. I'm not stupid, Itachi. I wouldn't have come to you if I had an offer you could refuse."
"Go ahead. You know the secret. What do you have that I cannot do on my own?" Itachi braced himself for more discomfort.
"As a start, your first priority in life is to watch over Sasuke, whom you left alive, correct? You can keep a weather eye out for news regarding your brother, or even send crows or a crow to spy if need be. As Sasuke continues to grow, the risk of you being found out will only increase. I can watch over him from here or any other place in the world. I can ease your constant worrying, never leaving your side if need be."
"How can you see my brother without clones or any physical presence?"
"Remote viewing. I only need to see him with my minds eye." Itachi nodded his head.
"Watching over Sasuke is my responsibility." Hikari gave a knowing smirk.
"Is your narrow focus to your ideals more valuable to you than your own brother's safety? You don't even know where he is. If Orochimaru decided to make preparations to harm your brother, which he is, by the way, you would be too late. Your brother deserves the most watchful of eyes, doesn't he?" Itachi thought for a moment and closed his eyes, turning his head downward.
"So you can watch my brother, fine. What else can you do?"
"I can predict future events. If anything were to happen to the Leaf, to your brother, or to the Akatsuki, or to yourself, you would have time to plan and time to intervene."
"Konoha was nearly destroyed and the third Hokage dead not even a season ago. You worked with the elders and failed to give a prediction to the higher ups?" Hikari chuckled darkly, yet apologetically.
"They didn't listen. The elders dismissed it as paranoia and speculation. Lord Third did too, and for that he paid the ultimate price."
"Another claim backed by no evidence. You say you can watch over my brother and predict the future. Is there anything else?" Hikari looked down as if making a difficult decision.
"There is, but, from what I gather from you, you might not want it..." The man's eyes narrowed.
"And what would that be?"
"I can use my reiki healing technique to take away any emotional pain that might inhibit your normal functioning. I can even do it from a distance. It doesn't transfer to anyone, it simply dissipates." Itachi immediately shut it down.
"My pain is mine and mine alone." It was a decision he had made long ago. He had disgraced his village and his family by ending the lives of many people he held dear. He had killed innocent children. Living the remainder of his life in pain was only part of his punishment, and he deserved every single second of it.
"I understand that, believe me. But it does lower your chakra levels and weaken your body as well. If you were to engage in a trying battle, it might be wise to take cautionary measures." Itachi nodded, though there was a low chance of a trying battle actually occurring.
"If you can do as you say, your assets would be very valuable. Still, I'm not convinced. From all that you've told me, there is nothing that you have to contribute to a team that I could not do on my own, or a problem I could compensate for. With all of the risk involved in letting you live, it doesn't seem worth it."
"What great risk is there in keeping me alive if I am on your team, working with you? If you really read into my resume you would understand that I'm not an average, S rank Ninja. I'm your age. I joined the ANBU shortly after you left. I took the chuunin exams by myself. I might not be as strong as you, but I could probably defeat Kisame if we went toe to toe. I'm a sensory ninja and I won't be caught by the ANBU, or Root if they do dare to pursue me."
"They will definitely pursue you."
"They're afraid of me. They'll only send several at a time. And I will take care of them when they arrive. Keeping me alive guarantees the safety of the one person who still means anything to you."
"I can do it myself. There is nothing I lack that you do not. " Hikari turned deathly serious. Dying at his feet was an acceptable option for her. But not using her skills would be a terrible waste to him, more so than he knew. It was time to pull out her trump card. There was no proper way to say this. What tone of voice do you say this sentence to a man who killed almost everyone that ever mattered to him? She opted for a bitter sweet, compassionate face. She carefully tailored a soft yet resolved tone, to make it clear she was aware of the implications.
"I can talk to the dead. Three spirits that are very dear to you want to talk with you." A moment of silence as Itachi let that sink in. This girl, this harmless looking girl who came out of nowhere, had just shaken him at the core. With a simple statement, she opened up possibilities he had never before considered. It was too much to take in for him emotionally right now, and the processing would have to wait.
"Besides, if you lack so little, then keeping me out of the reach of anyone who might gain access to my thoughts and memories won't need to be a challenge for you. I promise, I will never burden you. Any trouble I do cause I will pay back with my help. Would you rather have to deal with the second option? The girl outside is obsessed with you."
"How do you know?" The woman shrugged.
"I'm psychic." It didn't take long for Itachi to make his decision. The woman had intelligently and boldly planned an offer he could not refuse.
Itachi released the Genjutsu, sending them spiraling back to Earth. He shot her a small smile and an approving nod.
"Let's go." They exited the room only a moment after they entered it. His group members had barely moved. Itachi took Hikari over to the panel and calmly stated.
"Now and from here on out, Hikari will be my team member. She has exemplary skills and is a valuable asset to the Akatsuki." The grey haired girl down below shouted out in fury.
"That's not fair! I didn't even get a chance to talk with him!" Itachi didn't even spare her a glance as she fumed.
"That's fine, but what did she tell you that only you could see?" Kisame asked him, confused.
"It's not important right now. We'll go into it later. Hikari," he addressed the girl behind him. "We'll get you settled in to the hideout with a new uniform. Come." She smiled and followed him down the stairs towards the exit. The woman reached out to him as he passed by.
"Wait! I was supposed to be the one chosen! Itachi and I are meant to be together- I have just as much hatred towards the Uchiha clan and I.." Itachi proceeded out the door with his new companion, tuning out the frantic love pleas of the desperate S-ranked fan.
Hours later, Hikari had settled in to her new room in the current Akatsuki hideout. The air was warm but the lack of sunlight gave the location a heavy, grim feeling. She looked at herself in the mirror. It was strange to now wear the cloak of a terrorist organization with a face that clearly meant no harm, but she supposed that was just a small part of the mission. A knock at her door was followed by a familiar low voice.
"May I come in?"
Itachi had removed his cloak, revealing a simple navy shirt and pants with mesh visible around the neck and a small waistband. The woman welcomed him in.
"Are you comfortable?" Itachi inquired. The woman surveyed the room, which was furnished with a simple full sized bed, dresser and desk. She smiled and nodded. There was one last thing to do before she was ready for tomorrow morning. The man watched as she took out a kunai and set it on the table next to her leaf village headband. Without any sign of remorse on her face, she slit a thin line into the metal, symbolizing her severed ties with her homeland. He had to admit, he was impressed with her resolve.
"I told Pein that your message regarded the other finalist, which is why it couldn't be spoken aloud. You had observed her earlier writing a makeshift scroll out of blood and the fabric of her dress, designed to seduce me. Make sure you keep to the story in case anyone asks. The others seem to approve of you more or less."
"Do you regret choosing me over Ms. Destiny?" Hikari joked dryly. Itachi gave a small smile and a humph of agreement. "I apologize, you must encounter girls like that often." He raised an eyebrow.
"What makes you think that?" Hikari quickly backtracked, realizing her statement might have sounded flirtatious, which wasn't at all her intention.
"I mean- I kept an eye on your brother remotely when he and I still lived in the village. He seemed to have a number of girls on his heels already simply because he is an Uchiha... You're his elder brother who is stronger than he is.. so I simply guessed." Itachi opened his mouth to reply, but someone knocked on the door.
"Itachi, Hikari, we will be having a meeting shortly to discuss your new mission." The muffled voice of the blue haired woman could be heard through the door.
"We'll be there shortly." Hikari glanced at herself in the mirror, wondering if she looked as intimidating as the others in the group. She put on her bold, fighter face that she used on ANBU missions, but it didn't seem quite enough for a member of a terrorist organization. Perhaps more scars would do? She lifted her kunai, drawing it up to her face. Itachi was surprised and raised his hand to stop her.
"What are you doing?!" The woman looked back, as if her action had been completely normal.
"I wanted to make myself look as strong as the rest. It would only hurt for a minute," she said simply. Itachi tried not to show his incredulousness at her self destructive, reckless behavior.
"There's no need to do physical damage to yourself, we all read your resume thoroughly. They know you are strong enough." The woman put down her knife and shrugged. Another question formed in Itachi's mind.
"Everyone else included their surenames on their resumes and introduced themselves as such. Why did you leave out the name of your family?" Hikari gave a knowing smirk. She was going to enjoy this.
"Most of my family has adopted other surenames as they married into other clans. My family is small because my ancestors have very few direct descendants. Many of my ancestors were killed off by yours. Most of the rest married into other families when the village was founded because they did not wish to fight against the Uchiha. I use my name with honor, but I did not want it to influence everyone's first impression of me or make a political ordeal." That piqued his curiosity. Political?
"Everyone will find out eventually, it's best if you just tell me now." The woman looked at him and simply stated
"My full name is Senju, Hikari. The first Hokage was my great great grandfather." Itachi's eyes shot open in shock.
"Senju… I never realized there were any in our generation that still had that clan name." She must have had an interesting upbringing.
"It's a long story-" The same woman knocked on her door.
"Itachi, the meeting is starting in one minute. Bring Hikari out now." Itachi seemed slightly irritated, clearly not appreciating being nagged or given orders.
"I'm coming, Konan." He turned again to the woman still at the mirror. "There's one last thing you said that made me wonder. In my genjutsu you said you would be happy to die at my hands if I hadn't accepted you. What did you mean?" Hikari's face turned down and her eyes darkened.
"I meant exactly as I said." Her voice was simple, yet thoughtful. Sometimes a desire for death isn't weak or selfish or because you believe it can't get any better in dark painful times. For some, it truly can't get any better, no matter how long you endure. Death can come from selfless love. Sometimes ending ones life is the appropriate and moral action to take. Don't you agree, Itachi?" The girl looked at him with a glint in her eye. His eyes shot open. Her words made his stomach twist into knots. Were their motivations really so similar? "I guess it's time to go. They'll be waiting for us." And with that she walked out the door smugly aware that his eyes were totally glued to her as she left.
Itachi frequently viewed most girls his age as shallow and often annoying. But Hikari Senju had opened him to realities he never thought possible. He wanted to know more.