Slaughter of the Innocents

by Nezuko, Prince of Rats

This is a work of derivative fiction based on the manga "Naruto" by Kishimoto Masashi. The characters and the world in which they live are the property of Kishimoto-sensei.

AN: Set in the Scarlet Spiral world and dedicated to Shroud, who plays Uchiha Masanori. Scarlet Spiral can be found at scarlet-spiral . greatestjournal . com

Genma was away on a mission when it happened, and in some ways, that was probably a good thing. He knew there was something badly, horribly wrong when he drew near enough to Konoha to see the smoke of funeral pyres rising above the village and could smell the death on the air. He broke into a run then, a dead run as fast as he could move, no longer feeling the exhaustion of days on the road or weeks in the field. Something was wrong in his village, and it was on a grand scale.

As he drew closer, a pair of masked ANBU suddenly flanked him. Genma slowed then, looking at the man and woman on either side of him. He raised his hand in salute, brushing his arm where his own tattoo from his days in the Special Forces still remained.

"Shiranui Genma, 010203, Special Jounin, reporting in from a mission to southeast Fire Country," he said. "What the hell is going on?"

"Shiranui-san," the woman in the bird mask replied. "Have you had any contact with any Konoha agent in the last five days?"

"Other than you two, no," Genma answered. "It was a solo." He picked up his pace again, the ANBU easily matching it. It was never a good sign when ANBU were sent to escort you back to the village.

"I can see the damn smoke, so please, do a fellow agent the courtesy of telling me what's going on before we get to the gates?"

The bird-faced woman glanced at her larger comrade, who nodded, the cheerful tiger stripes on his mask almost a mockery of the words he delivered. "The Uchiha clan has been slaughtered."

Genma broke stride, staring at the taller ANBU. "The what? What the hell are you talking about?"

"It's true, Shiranui-san, there has been a massacre in the Uchiha clan compound. We believe Uchiha Itachi was responsible."

"Itachi? That little whelp? What'd he do, flip out and kill his parents?" Genma stared at the horizon, at the approaching pall of smoke, and tried to reconcile a family's death with what was obviously a disaster on a larger scale. "That doesn't explain this." He gestured at the haze.

"Not just his immediate family, Shiranui-san. His entire family," the woman said. "All of them."

"All of whom? His grandparents too?" Genma still couldn't grasp it, which wasn't surprising. It was unimaginable.

"All the Uchiha. The entire clan. One hundred and eight people, including the infants and children."

"All the... All of them?" Genma's voice rose in disbelief. "How could he... All? All of the... and the children?" Suddenly it wasn't some formless disaster looming on the horizon. It wasn't abstract. It was a dark eyed little girl who called Genma uncle. Two of them. Uchiha Masanori's twin daughters. It was Masa himself, and his demure young wife. Masa who'd been Genma's lover years ago, when they'd both been in ANBU, and Masa's mother, the formidable woman who'd given grudging approval to their youthful affair, so long as it didn't interfere with Masa's future as an Uchiha breeder. It was Uchiha Fugaku, the unyielding jounin who'd terrified Genma when he was just an eleven-year old genin, and the father of the boy supposedly responsible for the slaughter. It was Uchiha Aiko, whom Genma had had a mission with last month, and Uchiha Satoshi who'd watched Genma dance with Masa at a wedding, once, and decided maybe it wasn't the end of the world if he was queer. But most of all, it was Masa.

"You... you can't be serious," Genma said, glancing from one ANBU mask to the other. But he knew they were. "All of them. A hundred and eight..." He felt sick, violently nauseated, as the stench from the burning corpses filled his nostrils, and he had to stop a moment, leaning against a tree and retching while the ANBU escort looked the other way.

Now on the anniversary of that day, Genma opens a carved wooden box and pulls out a photograph of himself grinning and holding a pair of squirming, dark-eyed toddlers, while a handsome young man with long black hair and those same fathomless ebony eyes watches with pride from behind him. He pulls out an almost black indigo haori with a fan-shaped mon in red and white emblazoned on chest and back. He carefully, reverently, lifts out a festival mask - a bunny - made of reinforced polymer with eye holes that had concealed the whirling Sharingan its wearer had once wielded. The last things he takes out are a letter, written in Masanori's elegant hand, asking Genma to be godfather to his girls, and a little strip of pictures from a photo booth: five frames of Genma and Masa, at 21 and 18, mugging for the camera, kissing, acting like a pair of goofy kids on a date and not a pair of hired assassins.

The day he learned about the Uchiha Massacre, Genma vomited.

On the anniversary of that day, every year, Genma cries.