Okay, so I'm really sorry that it's taken me so long to update. I've been completely entrapped by My Hero Academia and what can I say? I go where my muse takes me… Please forgive me!
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.
We All Wear Masks
Chapter 11: An Uchiha's Plan
Naruto gulped and shook life a leaf in the wind before the man that had damaged him so thoroughly. He was really starting to think this had been a terrible idea, the snake's eyes reminding him of the rape he'd been trying so hard to forget.
"So… You decided to come after all, Naruto." Orochimaru cooed, smiling at the teen.
The blonde's mouth opened and closed several times. He was so afraid that he couldn't even force a whimper from his lips. He nodded weakly, lowering his usually defiant blue eyes to avoid seeing the man's smirk.
"Shall I take him to his room, my Lord?" Kabuto asked, sensing that the conversation would go nowhere with Naruto unable to utter a sound and Orochimaru having far too much fun with his torment of the teen.
The Sanin hummed in agreement and licked his lips. "That's fine… make him feel comfortable, Kabuto. He's a very special member of our organization now. Oh, and Naruto, I hope there are no hard feelings about our last encounter. You really are just so beautiful."
The blonde shivered again, his body reacting violently to how close Orochimaru had gotten to him. He wanted to start hyperventilating, to run as far away as his feet could carry him. But he'd made his choice and didn't feel that there was anywhere else for him to go.
By the time Kabuto had dropped him off in his room, he was fighting back bitter tears. He found no comfort from the small, dark space though. It looked more like a dungeon than anything else, without windows or anything that reminded him of better times.
"Better times…" he thought bitterly, "the best time I can even remember was spending time with Sasuke, and that was precluded by being fucking raped by the man I'm now going to be calling my sensei…"
Naruto sat on his bed and went through the small bag he'd brought with him, pulling out his spare clothes and toiletries. Eventually, he came across the only thing he'd actually brought to remember home by—a scrapbook.
He sniffled softly, running his fingers over the edges lovingly before opening and flipping through it. There were old pictures of his mom and a few sporadic moments that someone had captured between him and his dad. At least he seemed proud of him in the images.
There were also a few that he'd been lucky to have taken with people his own age, the Rookie 9 and Guy's team. It made him smile to remember the moments the pictures were taken, reminding him that he at one time could have called them friends.
But then his nimble fingers found the section dedicated to him and Sasuke. His eyes poured over the boy's childlike face, his mind reconfiguring the scene like it was happening again. The Uchiha was so much happier in those days, even if he looked plum miserable in the photo with Fugaku and Minato shaking hands.
Naruto had given him a huge bear hug right after and promised to always be his friend no matter what. He still meant to keep that promise, even if he'd just betrayed the village and the young Raven found him disgusting.
Sasuke sat outside and watched with little interest as the large and small fish in his families coy pond swam around, completely unaware of how shit life was for him right then. Naruto had seemingly disappeared, going to follow that snake even after everything he'd done to him.
"What do you want, Itachi…" he asked sadly, not taking his eyes off the water.
"Come with me, Ototo… There is something I must speak with you about." The elder responded, turning and jumping off right after.
Sasuke rose to his feet and followed, his stomach twisting in knots. He had no idea what his brother wanted to speak about, but the solemnness in his voice was unsettling. It was possible that Naruto's body had been recovered or something else horrible happened.
When he finally caught up and landed, they were atop the Hokage monuments, looking out over the village. The younger Uchiha waited patiently has his brother gazed at the many buildings nestled into the trees.
"The Fourth Hokage and his family are very important to me, Sasuke," Itachi explained quietly. "You are young, and therefore don't know the truth that has been sworn into secrecy. But I feel that considering the circumstances, it is better for you to know them."
"Then tell me," Sasuke responded, his heart pounding in anxiety. It was rare for him to see his elder brother so distressed, even if the visible signs were subdued.
Itachi sat, still keeping his eyes fixed on the Leaf and took a small breath. "Tensions between Konoha and the Uchiha have always been high, but they came to a head when you were six. Our father and other Uchiha leaders were planning a coup against the city, one that would have surely lead to an all-out war."
The younger felt his chest tighten, imagining the city they were overlooking up in flames. He went and sat next to his brother, desperate to know how he fit into the terrible picture.
"The Leaf knew of our plans though and as our Clan leaders son and prodigy, I was caught in the middle. Our father made me the Uchiha's spy and had me assigned to the Anbu while the village's council used me to gather intel on our people. Becoming a double agent was so difficult… I had to decide who I truly swore allegiance to even though I was only thirteen." Itachi continued, his voice becoming tenser.
"The Fourth, being far more moderate, was left out of many of the decisions. The Council and Danzo conspired alone and decided that the best way to avoid a major civil war would be for me to eliminate all of our clansmen in one night….. I agreed with only one stipulation."
Sasuke breathed out a shaky breath, his eyes wide from realization. He couldn't imagine his kind and gentle older brother slaughtering everyone—their family. But from the resigned look on Itachi's face, he knew that he really would have gone through with it.
"What stipulation?" he questioned, his voice barely above a whisper.
"That you and you alone would be spared," Itachi responded solidly, finally turning his gaze to pierce the younger Raven.
Sasuke felt tears well in his eyes, his chest aching from something that had never come to pass. "But… why? Why would you do that? Why didn't it happen?"
"Because I love you Sasuke. You're my younger brother and you were innocent to the folly of our Clan. But I had seen the terrible disasters that war left behind. Our village was still reeling from the last Great Ninja War and couldn't have survived another. Even if Konoha could defeat the Uchiha, it would have been left so weak that other lands would have come in and destroyed what was left. I had to choose between the Clan I was born into and the Village that I swore to protect. I chose Konohagakure and you."
Itachi caught a leaf that swirled by him in the soft breeze, smiling down at it softly. "But that never happened. Minato-sama discovered the plot and thwarted it, saving me from killing my people and parents… From becoming a rogue shinobi hated by the very village I was protecting. I owe him my life, Sasuke, and so do all the still living Uchiha."
The younger Raven rubbed his tearing eyes, finally understanding the deep loyalty that Itachi always held for the Fourth. He let out a trembling sob, hating himself even more for ever agreeing with the hate-filled rhetoric his father and clan spewed. If they knew what had truly happened, they would be far more accepting.
"The Fourth stripped Danzo of his power and made several changes to help the Uchiha gain more popularity among the Leaf citizenry. Only I, our father, and some of the higher-ups in our clan know what happened. But Minato shielded me once more and kept my involvement of the near massacre secret, even from Fugaku." Itachi explained.
"I'm telling you this because war is once again upon us. In truth, Naruto's outburst before he left had little impact as the clan was already planning another attack. This time though, I worry that not even Minato will be able to stop the impending war, and I might have to make the hard choice I was saved from all those years ago. But, I want to hear your thoughts, Sasuke. Perhaps you see an alternative that I do not."
The younger Uchiha wanted to vomit, the very idea of losing so many of his clansmen at the hand of his elder brother was sickening. But he agreed that an all-out war would inevitably lead to the same outcome and he'd also have to pick a side.
"We can't let the Uchiha do this…" he choked out. "I'll help you stop them."
Itachi reached over and rubbed his brother's shoulder gently. "I will not allow you to become a rogue shinobi because of our Clan, Sasuke. If we do not come up with a different solution, then this will be my burden to bear."
"Itachi! You can't do that! I won't let you-"
"Naruto will need you." The elder interrupted. "Whether he is found now or in the future, I firmly believe only you will be able to help him and that wouldn't be possible if you were accused of slaughtering our people."
Sasuke hiccupped and lowered his head, hating that things were taking such a terrible turn. He didn't want to abandon Naruto, but he didn't think he could let his beloved elder brother bare such a burden alone either.
Minato sat in his office quietly, pretending to look over the many scrolls and papers he was supposed to be signing while instead thinking about his lost son. After losing Kushina, he'd never been the same, and instead of doing as she'd asked, he'd let himself push all of his negative feelings onto Naruto.
When the boy had needed him most, he'd recoiled into himself, unable to accept that he hadn't been there to help him. He'd pushed him away when he should have held him close, and that had been the final nail in the boy's coffin.
Minato wiped the tears from his eyes quickly and muttered for whoever was knocking to come in, his already lead-filled stomach dropping more when Sasuke stepped inside.
"Lord Fourth, we really need to talk" the teen stated, sitting in the chair opposite the Hokage before being offered.
"Sasuke… What is it?"
The Raven took a deep breath. He was sure that Itachi had already warned Minato about the impending Uchiha uprising and that the man was probably concerned about the fate of both the Uchiha and the Leaf on top of worrying about his son. But he had the start of a plan.
"Let me go on an extended mission to find Naruto." He stated plainly, forcing himself to not seem too pushy or undetermined. He needed to keep his composure for this to work.
Minato bit back the urge to drop his head into his hands and cry. Just the mention of his boys' name made him desperately sad, but he couldn't show it now, his people needed him to stay strong.
"Efforts are already being made to bring him back. Anbu are being sent out to search for him at all times, so there is no need for you to-"
"That's not good enough. I already know about what happened the last time the Uchiha threatened the Leaf and what Itachi almost did to stop the war. If Anbu capture Naruto he'll just be bought back here under duress and kept locked away. Let me go to the Sand to request their assistance and we will find him." Sasuke interrupted, his chakra flaring slightly.
The Fourth sat back in his chair, considering everything. If Sasuke knew about the near massacre of his people and was still willing to help, that meant he was likely on the Leaf's side. "Why the Sand? What is my son to you?"
"I… He's my best friend. Naruto is special and I think he could help me fix the problems between the Leaf and Uchiha if given the chance. I don't want him to think he's a prisoner because it will just end up doing more damage in the long run. Besides, the Uchiha won't stage an uprising with me away. The longer I'm gone, the more time you have to figure something else out."
Minato felt a flicker of home pulsing through him for the first time in days and quickly set about writing a scroll for Sasuke to take to the Kazekage. "If they refuse to assist you, what will you do then? You can not stay out looking for him alone or your clansmen will know which side you've aligned with and will attack before you return."
"Send out other shinobi our age... I'll meet up with them on my way back from Suna whether I have their support or not. My people don't need to know the nature of the assignment." Sasuke responded, eagerly waiting to leave. He already had his bags packed and gear on him.
"Very well… And thank you, Sasuke." Minato stated, turning his blue eyes up to where the teen had stood. He hoped that this young Uchiha could save his son.
Again, sorry for the long wait for this update! :) I'll try and come up with more soon!
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