Nope! This story is not dropped!
Hey, guys! I am so, so sorry about the late update. It's just that I've been super busy with the deadlines from my school. They're so crazy and important, so I couldn't ignore them.
Just a heads-up. The next chapter, which will be uploaded two weeks later on Wednesday, is the time-skip. Hikari will have her first traumatic event in her life. And it would be thanks to who, do you think?
Anyway, enjoy this chapter, and don't forget to review! Apologies if it's not too long. I didn't have time to add another scene.
Finally, the innocent Uchiha was born.
Itachi just held the baby in his arms. She only whimpered for less than a minute. As soon as she found herself in her father's arms, she stopped making a sound. She was neither crying nor laughing. She was just ... staring at him, as if to get a good look of her father ... to remember him.
Meanwhile, Itachi had no idea what to do. He felt like he was holding his heart in his arms, and she was so delicate and fragile that she might break if he dropped her. Which was likely, seeing his hands were trembling from mixed emotions, sadness, happiness, excitement, guilt ... Overall, fatherhood.
Uchiha Itachi was a father now.
The baby was born premature, so she didn't have much hair on her head, and she was still bloody from being born, but he could tell that his daughter had her mother's brown hair and her father's onyx eyes. She was the perfect mixture of Itachi and Izumi. He was happy that the child mostly resembled Izumi, minus the eyes.
He was happy ... happier than he'd been in a very long time.
While the father and the daughter kept their eyes on each other without a break in the moment, while he was happy, Itachi couldn't let go of this ... anger that was filling him. It could even be described as dangerous rage, and it was all directed towards ... Konohagakure. It was the first time he felt like he wanted to blame the Village for this. He did everything for them, so much as to kill every single member of his clan, and they couldn't even protect one single person, the most important person to him.
They caused this ... the Village, the Uchiha Clan, and himself. Izumi and their child were the biggest victims of this.
Itachi would have fisted his hands from anger and frustration, but he didn't want to hurt the baby. Seeing his first and only child brought out feelings he didn't know he was capable of feeling. Never in a million years did Itachi imagine he would be a father. Never did he believe he would want to fall in love. Never did he think ... he would feel resentment towards Konoha.
He was holding the biggest, and yet most pleasant, surprise in his arms.
I suppose there is meaning in life, after all.
He was dragged out of his thoughts when he noticed his child's movement. She raised her small and weak hand, trying to touch her father's face. It was as if she could feel her father's emotions and wanted to comfort him. Which was funny, considering babies could see almost nothing when they were born.
Itachi let out a chuckle as he lowered his head and let his daughter touch his face. He could see his reflection in the mirror of her eyes, the two red eyes shining bright in the dark room and the small onyx eyes. He didn't even realize his Sharingan was activated. It was an amateur's mistake to not be able to control their Sharingan, not the master of the Uchiha's Sharingan.
Not Uchiha Itachi. Not Itachi of the Sharingan. Not Clan Killer Itachi. That only goes to show how emotional and vulnerable he was at the moment.
He would have thought his daughter would be scared at the sight of her father's red eyes in the dark room, but it was the opposite. she was almost curious, even interested, to see what it was. The movement of tomoes made her laugh. Well, as much as a premature baby could laugh, but still. He could feel his child's happiness without even looking at her.
Suddenly, Itachi felt a stabbing pain in his heart. His daughter's happiness. His daughter's smile. Her first word, her first step, her first day at the school, her making friends, her falling in love and starting a family of her own ... He wouldn't get to see any of them. He wouldn't get to see his daughter living her life.
Even still, he wanted her to live her life to the fullest. He wanted her to be happy. He wanted her to be surrounded by friends. He wanted her to love and be loved. He wanted to give her the life he couldn't have ... the life he couldn't give her.
Which is the exact reason why Itachi closed off the temptation of taking his daughter with him. He had a feeling the Akatsuki would eventually accept her to live with them, but that didn't matter. She would be used for her strength to do horrible things. She would be forced to kill, torture, be killed or be tortured. She would only know darkness and brutality.
That was no environment for a child ... No, his child would be happier in Konoha, safer. The least he could do as her father was to make sure she did not live a miserable life. He owed her that much when she had to be dragged out of her mother's dead body.
Itachi stayed silent as he let tears of blood and water fall from his shining red eyes. He felt like he had to say something. He needed to say something, but he just didn't know what to say. Technically, he had a lot of things he wanted to say to her, but he couldn't choose.
At the same time, he didn't want to repeat the same mistake again. He lost Izumi before he ever told her he loved her. She died without knowing if he truly loved her. He didn't want his daughter to be as confused and uncertain as her mother. Even if he would lose her one day in the far or near future, he wanted her to know that he loved her with every being in his body, because that's how he felt.
Itachi was, by no means, a father. But ... he loved his little girl. He would die for the life he wronged the most.
"I love you." He whispered quietly in her ears, so only the two of them could hear.
The baby touched her father's nose and just kept her eyes on his red eyes. Itachi was filled with uncertainties and feelings of his absences in her life. He had no idea what would happen in the future.
If she went to Konoha, she would have to be raised by someone or be on the street as an orphan, like Naruto. She may meet Sasuke and interact with him, though he had no idea how that 'interaction' would be. She may choose to become a Ninja, like her parents before her, or become a civilian. She may want to protect Konoha or destroy it. She may feel love or hatred, happiness or sadness, joy and fear. She may be attacked and killed. She may live and die of old age.
Whatever happened to her, however she lived, whenever she died, Itachi knew one thing, or at least hoped for it. He didn't want his child to awaken her Sharingan, and even worse, her Mangekyou Sharingan.
As the daughter of two Uchiha, she would no doubt inherit the power of the Sharingan and what came along with it. She may be powerful, maybe even the most powerful person, but that didn't mean he was happy about it. He knew it was naive, and even impossible, if she chose to take the road of a Nina and become a Kunoichi of Konohagakure. She would have to feel pain and experience death.
That was the world they lived in. Itachi was doing his best to change that, but he was just one person. He didn't have the power to stop war and maintain peace all by himself.
"Will the day come when you'll possess these eyes, too? The day when you come to know what sadness is?"
Itachi remembered his own words to young Sasuke when he had just awakened his Sharingan. He didn't want his little brother to feel that kind of pain and go through something like that. He even promised himself to do everything he could in his power to stop his eyes from turning to red ever in his life. Yet, he failed to keep his promise and practically helped Sasuke awaken his Sharingan when he was only 7.
He knew his daughter wouldn't be any different. He was in no position to do anything, let alone promise the newborn that her life would be safe and without pain. That was just impossible.
"I'm sorry." Itachi cried out quietly when that realization hit him.
Fatherhood was hard enough under any circumstances. He wasn't having it easy, seeing that his entire family was dead, along with the mother of his child, and that he was an international criminal. He was a powerless and useless father. He would never be able to do anything for the little girl in his arms.
"You alright?" A voice broke him out of his thoughts.
Itachi stiffened and wiped the tears away as he turned to Tsunade. She was the savior of his baby, although she couldn't protect Izumi. He would forever be grateful to her for what she had done.
"Would she, uh ... Will she have any problems?" He asked, hiding the shake in his voice.
She knew exactly what he was asking with those few words. He wanted to know whether or not his daughter would have any problems from the complication of her birth. She was born premature through coffin birth. A few health issues were bound to follow.
"I will have to examine her closely to say for sure, but either she's gonna be completely fine or have a few problems. Like she may have a hard time breathing, keeping warm, or physical related. She may suffer from heart failure and what comes with it. Because of that, she'll have a weak body and will have a hard time keeping up with others if she chooses to become a Ninja." She explained.
Itachi skipped a breath as he heard her explanation. Tsunade was brutally honest with her words, which did him both good and bad. He wanted to know what would be wrong with his child as quickly as possible. But at the same time, he felt like Tsunade placed a heavy rock on his chest that prevented him from breathing.
So even now that she was barely born alive, she would have health problems for the rest of her life, which would affect anything she wanted to do. There was not a single thing Itachi could do for his daughter ... expect bringing pain and suffering.
"Let me wash her up. You can see her later, if you want." Tsunade said as she raised her hands to take the baby.
Itachi fought the feeling to never let go of his child, and finally put her in her arms. He felt better knowing that she would have Tsunade around to take care of her, even if and when he couldn't.
When his child was taken out of the room, Itachi's attention went back to the second most important person in his life, or at least, the second most important person when she was alive ... Izumi. She was lying dead on a table, her body still open from the surgery. Her blood was all over the place and she was ripped to pieces.
It pained him to see her like that, and it was all his fault. It's bad enough that he let her die, but to save their child, to save his child, Izumi's corpse couldn't be in one piece. Instead, he disrespected her and tore her body apart even after she was dead.
He felt really sick just thinking about it.
"I'm glad you didn't die."
Itachi chuckled bitterly as he remembered his childish response to Izumi, whose life he had just saved in the Kyuubi's attack. She was so happy and thankful, while all he could say was 'I'm glad you didn't die'. True, he was bad with words, but still. He still couldn't believe that was all he could say to her.
And yet, funnily enough, his words were true and showed his feelings without leaving anything out. Now that she was dead, he felt like he was alone only now. Even after he killed everyone in the Uchiha Clan, including his parents, he didn't feel alone in his heart. Because he knew.
He knew that somewhere out there, Izumi was alive. That in a few months, she would have been raising their child. That he could go back to her if he decided. Now, it was no longer an option. And the feeling of having that option taken away from him stabbed him all over his body.
Itachi took a heavy and long breath as he touched her forehead with his. Their lips didn't meet, but his tears wet Izumi's lifeless and bloody face. He whispered something very quietly in his breath. Shizune couldn't make something out of it, but she couldn't tell he was telling her that he loved her.
Criminal or not, he truly felt bad for him.
"Could you please close her up?" Itachi finally found his voice to ask as he let go of his dead lover.
"O-of course. I will get Izumi-san ready for burial." Shizune reassured her. Their attention went quickly to Hiruzen, who just walked in the room.
"Itachi ... may we speak privately for a moment?"
Itachi and Hiruzen went back to Izumi's apartment to get rid of all the evidence pointing to her living here. Hiruzen volunteered to wipe out all the blood on the ground, while Itachi was packing her stuff. He didn't want to be anywhere near her blood if he could avoid it.
"What do you wish to do with your child?" The Hokage asked without turning to the young father.
"I'm not taking her with me. That is not the life I want her to live."
"Sandaime ... could I ask you something?" Itachi struggled to ask as he turned back to the old man.
Hiruzen sighed as he stopped and looked Itachi in the eye. He had a feeling what he was going to ask. Of course, it was almost a given that he wouldn't take that innocent baby to a dark organization such as the Akatsuki. But ... even without putting in words, he knew what that favor was.
"I will take the child back to Konoha with me, but on one condition. No one will find out the truth about her parentage. However, that also includes her. She will not know about you and Izumi, nor will she ever know the truth about the Uchiha Clan Massacre."
"I would appreciate that." Itachi firmly agreed immediately without a thought.
That was actually the second thing he was going to ask after Sandaime agreed to take his daughter in. He didn't want his little girl to ever find out the truth about the Village or what they made her father do. As a matter of fact, he never wanted her to know who her father was. While it hurt him greatly to know he will never be known as her father, it gave him a sense of relief that she wouldn't have to live as a murderer's daughter.
The Village wouldn't like that, neither would Sasuke. He didn't want to imagine how his little brother would react if he ever found out about his daughter.
"She will be safe there under my protection. Sasuke and your child are both children of Konohagakure. As the Hokage, I give you my word." Hiruzen strongly promised the grieving Shinobi of Konohagakure.
"Will she go into the system? ... What will happen to her?" Itachi's voice shook as he couldn't not ask that question. He wouldn't go anywhere near her, but he needed to know she would be safe.
Hiruzen paused for a moment as he went deep into his thoughts. To be honest, he would have taken care of the last Uchiha the way he took care of the last Uzumaki. He would have taken care of her until she was of age to be independent. Then, he would have gotten her a room in the Village with monthly living expenses.
But if he was being honest with himself, he didn't want to do that. True, if people found out that the Hokage had a 'special' relationship with an orphan, they would look into her background, and then, find out who her parents were, who her father was. He definitely couldn't have that.
Also ... he felt like he owed it to Itachi to make sure his daughter knew fatherly love, or a resemblance of it. Besides, he didn't want to leave that child alone. She would need someone to take care of her, and it was better if someone strong and capable was around to protect her. If the identity of her parents was public knowledge, people would come after her, firstly Orochimaru.
"Hatake Kakashi." He finally said with a sigh, which caused Itachi to blink in confusion. What did his former ANBU Captain have anything to do with this?
"I will ask Kakashi to raise her as his own ... Would that be alright?"
Itachi couldn't find the will to move his lips to say anything. He felt like he was just stabbed in the heart, taking away all his energy and life at the same time. He knew he could trust Kakashi with his life and the life of his family the second he saw him in ANBU. But ... he didn't think it would happen literally. He didn't think he would get to be the one to raise his child.
That fact gave him pain and relief at the same time.
"Yes ... Although, I'm not sure I have the right to say anything."
"You will always have that right as long as you are her father ... My only regret is that she will never get to know who her father is, let alone what you have done for her." Hiruzen sadly added.
"It's for the best, Sandaime." Itachi forced himself to softly say as he was weeping on the inside.
"I, uh ... I should get going. I only have a day left before my absence is suspicious."
"You're not going to see the child for the last time?" The Hokage asked in surprise and sadness. He would have imagined the young father would want to hold his child for as long as he couldn't.
"That would ... only make things harder." Itachi quietly said as he struggled with the tears.
Yes, he wanted to hold his child. He wanted to hold her forever, if he could ... but he couldn't. He didn't know what he would do if he saw those innocent and pleading back eyes. He didn't know what he would do if he felt her touch again. He may be tempted to take her with him, which was not in anyone's best interest. Her fate was to be in Konoha, not in the Akatsuki.
"Will you at least give her a name? As a father, it is customary that you name your first child." Hiruzen asked, almost begging him to care.
Itachi was frozen in his place. A name ... How was he supposed to name her? He always assumed Izumi would take care of the hardest part. And he was never one god with words. He had no idea what to name his own child. What if he chose a name and gave her an unnecessary burden? What if it was a name that didn't suit her personality? What if she grew to hate that name?
"Let us be the light of your life."
Suddenly, Izumi's words rang through his ears. She promised him that they, she and their child, would be the light of his dark life. That she would be the hope and beacon of light whenever he got lost in his thoughts. It was then that he realized ... that was exactly what his child meant to him. She was the light of his life. Without her, he would be forever lost in the darkness. That's exactly how he felt when he thought he'd lost her.
"Hikari." Was all Itachi said before he disappeared into thin air
"Uchiha Hikari." He said her complete name in his thoughts, as if to reassure himself that she, Hikari, was his child.
Hiruzen looked at where Itachi was standing only a second ago as he smiled. It was truly a hard thing for a father to let go of his child, especially when she was just born, and especially when he had no one else. Itachi had truly grown up, despite the fact that he was more mature than any Jonin when he was only 5 years old.
It was sad and good to see him like that.
But things were different now. This pain was different. Itachi had gone through anything in his life, expect watching his daughter grow up without him. She would never know him, and he would never get to meet her again. It was too cruel to happen. Yet, it was happening. Hiruzen felt like this was all his fault.
Suddenly, Sandaime noticed a new presence in the room. But he didn't feel the need to reach for his weapon, seeing he already knew who it was. The real question was, how and why was his former student, Jiraiya doing here?
"Jiji!" The Sannin blinked in surprise. He didn't expect the Hokage to be where his information led him.
"Jiraiya ... what brings you to Hachou Village?" Hiruzen asked with almost no energy left in his body. It had been a tiring day.
"Jiraiya?!" A voice almost screamed in surprise.
They both turned around and saw Tsunade enter the room with a look on her face. She was clean from any blood that got on her and her clothes. Her breathing was also steady as time passed. Jiraiya turned back to see his former teammate and 'sweetheart' in shock. What was going on?
"What the hell are you doing here?!"
"Me? What are you doing here? And ... what the hell are you holding, Tsunade?!" He demanded as his eyes just noticed a baby in her arms.
Tsunade subconsciously held Hikari closer to her chest in a manner of protecting her from being known in public. She knew she could trust Jiraiya with anything, but still. It had been those kind of day. Besides, how was she supposed to answer who the baby was?
"I just delivered this baby. The mother couldn't make it." She vaguely answered.
"Hmm ..." Jiraiya sighed in sadness as he got closer to the baby in her arms.
He was so close that their noses were almost touching, and Hikari could feel his breath on her face. Both their eyes were locked on each other without a second of exception. He didn't know why, but he felt like he was lost in those onyx black eyes. Then, he felt like there was a secret behind those eyes, like a hidden power. And for Tsunade, a retired and scared-of-blood Medic-nin to deliver a baby?
Just who the hell was she?
"She's cute." He finally said after 'analyzing' the baby.
"Of course she is ... Now, can we go back to the topic? What are you doing here?" Tsunade asked to change the subject.
"I got a lead that Orochimaru was in Hachou Village, so I got myself here as soon as I could. Apparently, he's hunting someone. Some pregnant woman, I don't know."
Hiruzen and Tsunade both blinked in alarm as they shared a glance. He was too late. Orochimaru had already finished his work, or left with the failure. He wanted Izumi, and when she resisted, he killed her. Jiraiya looked at both of them with suspicious rising in him.
"What? You know something?"
"You're too late ... That guy's gone."
"What do you mean? How do you know that?"
"The person he was looking for was this child's mother. The baby barely survived after that bastard slit the mother's throat." Tsunade hissed in disgust and anger, which left Jiraiya with hundreds of questions.
The words for this chapter:
- Sandaime: The third (Hokage)
- Konohagakure / Konoha: Hidden Leaf Village
- Jiji: Old man