Threads of Fate
In an attempt to brighten up his sad charge, ANBU Guard Itachi Uchiha leaves a note complimenting her hair. And thus, history has decided to repeat itself. Itachi x fem!Naruto, ItaNaru
Itachi Uchiha eyed the curled up bundle of orange on the bed with trepidation. He had been assigned guard duty for the Uzumaki, ever since the femur in his right thigh was shattered in an ANBU mission in Kusa. While Itachi was expected to make a full recovery, his supervisors had decided to err on the side of caution, and gave him an in-village mission, with minimal danger. The first fews day of watching Konoha's jinchuuriki were an interesting, if somewhat tedious, chore, and the Uchiha hadn't minded doing so.
Now though, Naruto was fully burrowed under two blankets and a thick blue comforter, furiously rubbing away the tears that kept falling down her eyes. Her angel-gold hair was poking out of the top, like a spiky halo, and had the choppy, uneven, and blunt cut of an inexperienced barber. The teasing that Naruto received from her classmates about her haircut was why she was hiding away under the covers, despite the hot Fire Country weather outside.
'If she doesn't get out soon, then she may get a heatstroke,' Itachi thought, unhappily.
As a secret ANBU Guard, he wasn't supposed to intervene with his charge, or, for that matter, form an attachment. However, Naruto was a sweet, if mischievous, girl, and Itachi could easily liken her to his foolish little brother. In the short time that he had observed her, the Uchiha realized that Naruto was optimistic, stubborn, and refused to let anything get her down, whether that be the indifference of the village or her own isolated upbringing. She rarely cried, and Itachi could admire that type of fortitude in a seven-year-old.
'She's still only seven though, and children- especially the girls at the Academy- can be cruel,' Itachi mused, 'Should I- ah, it seems that I don't have to.'
Naruto had stopped crying for now, and crawled out of her impromptu heat-suffused burrow. With puffy red eyes, blotchy wet cheeks, and an expression of unyielding defiance, the blonde girl shuffled into the kitchen and took out a large cardboard box. Inside, Itachi knew, were all manner of pranking supplies, from pre-made paint bombs to hijacked school supplies to homemade stained dye.
That was another trait that Itachi admired. Naruto always tried to be as prepared as possible for her self-chosen crusade against bullies.
'It's a shame that being a jinchuuriki will push her into a front-line combat specialty,' the Uchiha considered, taking out a pocky from the package hidden in his sleeve, and taking a bite, 'Between her utter disregard for another person's property, advanced stealth skills, and natural talent for vandalism, the Uzumaki would make an excellent sabotager.'
A specialty in sabotage wouldn't get her the Hokage hat though, which was something that Naruto repeatedly (and loudly) proclaimed would be hers someday, so maybe that was for the best. Itachi didn't actually think that Naruto would become Hokage. He didn't doubt her loyalty to the village or underestimate her potential to be a kunoichi- every other stable jinchuuriki had been S-rank after all- but the Uchiha had an estimate of her personality. Naruto thrived on action, and the minute she learned the full extent of paperwork the Hokage was responsible for, her interest in that position would drastically wane.
Itachi idly returned to snacking, as he continued his silent observation of Konoha's jinchuuriki. As she began plotting her revenge against her peers, the Uchiha's previous trepidation slowly returned. Naruto's pranks occasionally straddled the line between harmless amusement and resentful humiliation, but trapping children's underclothes with poison ivy was unnecessarily cruel. It could have been one of many plans, that Naruto might never employ, but, judging from the stray tear that she viciously rubbed off, Itachi doubted it.
The young prodigy was aware of jinchuuriki that had been isolated to the point of madness, and wondered if he was the beginnings of one unfold before his eyes. This was a mere suspicion though, and Itachi could hardly bring it to the Hokage's attention. Even if he did, what was to be done? The Sandaime couldn't hold the girl on suspicion without validating the beliefs of all of her detractors, and the Hokage didn't have the power to force people to be kind of her.
No, the underlying problem that Naruto Uzumaki would always face- that every jinchuuriki faced- was the difficulty in making a steadfast, loyal friend.
'I wonder if I can convince Sasuke that blonde girls are an exemption from the cootie rule?' Itachi had an unquestionable faith in the Yondaime Hokage's seal. If the man had not believed it to be the best, then he would not have placed it on his own daughter, after all.
Nevertheless, a friendship between the savvy, ambitious, and hypersensitive Uzumaki girl, and his foolish little brother, who had been… er, somewhat coddled by Itachi, was destined for disaster. Sasuke was a kind-hearted boy, but he was too immature to deal with the repercussions of befriending the village's jinchuuriki. And, if Itachi was being strictly honest to himself, the tiny blonde girl would eat his brother up alive.
The dark-haired teen realized that his current box of pocky had been picked clean, and an almost unnoticeable frown of displeasure crossed his face. Despite the knowledge that he had only packed one package for this shift, the genius boy hopefully shifted through his pockets again. Jutsu scroll, explosive tag, kunai, kunai, kunai, shuriken, roll of bandages, a pen, his mother's usual 'stay safe, I love you' note, and… an idea popped into Itachi's head.
Taking out the pen, he ripped one edge of the pocky pack, and scribbled a quick note on the smooth cardboard surface.
It was several hours later until Naruto discovered the note. She had been getting ready for bed, while reviewing the final details of her awesome future prank against Rei, and her little band of sycophants. Most of the girl's ire had bled through the day, but she still intended to go through the retaliatory prank. Her classmates would either learn to keep their mouths shut about Naruto's blatantly foreign looks of their own violation, or the blonde would make them learn.
So what if her neon yellow hair was a common trait in citizens from Kumogakure? So what if not a single clan in Konoha had whisker marks on their cheeks? So what if she didn't know who her parents were- or that they were probably no-name refugees from the Third Shinobi War? She was Naruto Uzumaki, dammit, and she was going to be the Hokage anyway!
Naruto was so immersed in her fantasies of sobbing seven-year-old's frantically clawing at themselves, that she almost missed the note on her dresser. Next to a battered hairbrush and a handful of orange candies, was a square-shaped piece of cardboard that poked her curiosity. The Uzumaki turned it around in her hand- one side had an advert for strawberry pocky, and the other had a graceful, masculine script that far surpassed her own writing.
'I think your golden hair makes you look like a Yosei.'
A Yosei? Her? Someone thought that she looked like one of the immortal woodland sprites renowned for their beauty?
Immediately, a deep red blush suffused Naruto's tanned cheeks. She caught a strand of unkempt blond hair, and rolled it between her fingers. The Uzumaki had never really liked her bright, eye-catching hair. It had been yet another reminder of how she was different from her classmates, with their normal brown or blonde or black hair. Even the students with more exotic colors, like Ami with her purple hair, had a subdued, dark shade, wholly unlike Naruto's searing hue. It was strange and uncomfortable and dissimilar, and, and…
I think your golden hair makes you look like a Yosei.
And someone thought it was pretty enough to liken it to a mythological race of beautiful nature sprites. Naruto's blush darkened, as she studied the words on the paper again. There was a squirming feeling in her belly, but it felt nice, similar to the one Naruto got before she was about to dig into a fresh bowl of Ichiraku Ramen. No one had ever complimented her hair before, but now the blonde girl had a note that proved-
A note. In her bedroom. When she hadn't invited anyone over to her apartment in weeks.
Naruto Uzumaki barely stifled her scream, as she spun around to look wildly around the room. Her back pressed against the dresser, and her pulse quickened, as blue eyes scanned the bed, the half-open closet, the door leading into the bathroom…
'There was an intruder in my apartment,' Naruto thought, heartbeat thudding in her ears, 'There was an intruder in my freaking bedroom!'
She wasn't the most academic of students, but Naruto had paid enough attention to the Academy's tracking lessons to know that her senses were a notch above the other students. They weren't nearly as good as that boy with the purple fangs tattooed to his cheeks, but she could still learn something from them. The blonde girl took a few tentative sniffs of the air, and grimaced at the smell of unwashed laundry and rotting fruit that returned back to her. Maybe she should invest more time in keeping her apartment clean?
Naruto's nose could determine a few other scents. Kunai polish, training sweat, ramen broth, and something a little like ashes and peppermint. The last two couldn't belong to the Old Man- he had a distinct paper and ink smell around him- and they definitely weren't hers. Unfortunately, they weren't faded scents either.
Her compliment-giving stalker was in the apartment with her.
Naruto was cautious, so she slowly edged out a blunt kunai from atop her dresser, and clutched it to her chest. Naruto was also reckless, because she then opened her mouth. "Come out, stalker! I know that you're here!"
Her reply was utter and complete silence. Feeling a bit foolish, she scowled. "Stop being a coward, and face me like a man! I know you're here, dammit!"
"Breaking and entering is an illegal offense!"
"The KMPF will get involved! The Uchiha will sort you out!"
"I'll gut you with my kunai!"
When there was yet another response of nothing, the blonde girl's fear gave away to a feeling of indignation. If her stalker didn't want to show himself, then she would find him. Her nose sniffed the air again, but the ashes and peppermint scent had been evenly dispersed throughout her room, and, as she slowly crept out, the living room as well. Since this wasn't a natural phenomena, Naruto guessed that her stalker had employed a jutsu.
She huffed. "You want to play it that way? Fine! I'm getting the Old Man."
The Uzumaki used slow and steady steps to walk out of her apartment, but as soon as she reached the door, she bolted. Although she didn't know it, her ashes-and-peppermint stalker kept pace easily, and hid behind a Chameleon jutsu as she tattled about his presence to the Hokage.
The Sandaime showed just how clearly this accusation flustered him, by not showing any emotion at all. With an inward sigh, and a discrete pointed look at the sheepish ANBU agent, Hiruzen Sarutobi sat his honorary granddaughter down. One rapid explanation about how she had important, shinobi parents that necessitated a guard, and then several longer refusals to reveal their identities, later, Naruto was content.
She wasn't happy, but at least now she knew that her parents hadn't been some no-name refugees to Konoha. Her colouring was still distinct, and Naruto briefly entertained a thought to launch her own search into her heritage, but the Old Man made her promise not to. When Naruto returned to her apartment, after making the Hokage swear that none of his agents would watch her undress or enter her bedroom again, she made an immediate beeline to the note.
Hiding in a little girl's bedroom, Naruto maintained, was still a creepy thing to do. But this ANBU agent was a shinobi who had been ordered to protect her by the Old Man, and well… the compliment was nice. The blush returned to her cheeks as Naruto considered the first kind words to have ever been given for her unusual hair colouring. They made the break-in far more palatable.
'Maybe I should reply back?' Naruto wondered, her round-face approaching tomato-levels of redness, 'I could leave it on top of the T.V., so he knows not to enter my bedroom again.'
Rather embarrassed by her own uncharacteristic indecisiveness, Naruto grit her teeth and reached for a pen. She was going to be the Hokage, and that meant she had to be brave. So, blisteringly hot cheeks and squirming stomach aside, Naruto Uzumaki penned the first of many future messages.
I would like to dedicate this first chapter to 'Swordsman of the Eclipse', who wrote a wonderfully amusing review for one of my other stories. I told her that I wouldn't be able to update my stories for another week- I have a final exam coming up- but this initial chapter was just lying around my computer, and only needed minor touch-ups. The chapter that I did promise to dedicate to her will still be done, but I thought this could be a neat in-between, especially since it stars one Itachi Uchiha.