Code: Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or Itachi. I wish Itachi was mine though.
Code: You idiot. o3o
Revised and Edited: 5/21/07
"Sometimes, being a brother is even better than being a superhero." Marc Brown
Eight-year-old Uzumaki Naruto stood in front of the main gates of Konoha, waiting impatiently. It'd been fifteen minutes by now - Hey, can you blame a little kid? - and yet the person he'd been waiting for hadn't shown up yet. So long... So lonely... So... What was that? A flicker of movement was unnoticed by the blond, who had begun looking around wildly, as if he were being hunted. Had someone found out about him? Were the civilians here to beat him again? Oh, if only...
A cloaked figure dropped from the top of the wall, landing silently and effortlessly next to Naruto, who had yet to realize the presence. Waiting for but a moment, the figure approached the short blond and tapped him on the shoulder. Naruto whirled around, his expression one of fear, until he recognized who the person in front of him was. He couldn't help but shiver at the sight of blood - large quantities of it - on the cloak. He had been told of what the figure was going to do, but he had never imagined it to be so... bloody. Perhaps there was more to being a shinobi than using cool jutsu...
"You're late," Naruto whined, shaking the negative thoughts out of his head. Shinobi were shinobi, and that was that. "I've been here for twenty whole minutes!"
"I couldn't help it. While taking care of my... errands, I got a little sidetracked with something else. I'm here though, shouldn't that mean anything?" The young man couldn't help but chuckle at his younger companion's antics, which now consisted of flailing short arms wildly over his blond hair.
"So, uh, what made you take so damn long, Itachi-niisan?"
"Language, Naruto," he warned, lowering his hood. Sapphire blue eyes met with cold onyx eyes. The black eyes flashed red, the Sharingan. A smirk appeared on Uchiha Itachi's face when Naruto ignored the Sharingan and continued to stand defiantly, as if challenging the older boy. "Oh, nothing much," he said offhandedly, answering Naruto's question. "I just left my otouto a going away present," said Itachi quietly.
"Ah, us kids and our presents," Naruto agreed, though halfheartedly. He didn't want to know what the present was. Judging by the large quantities of dried blood on Itachi, he suspected something that he wouldn't be able to stomach should he know.
The two companions left the large gate, and it was quite a while until they finally lost sight of Konoha's tall walls. The pace was too slow - Oinin would be after them within two days.
"Hey, um, Itachi-niisan, when do I get to start learning those cool jutsu that shinobi do?" Naruto asked, breaking the long silence.
Silence and an emotionless stare greeted him.
"Uh, I'll take that as a 'later'."
They continued forward in silence, at a snail's pace. Inside, Itachi was trembling in impatience. He mentally ground his teeth together. Oinin were known for their relentlessness. There were times where they chased their prey through foreign nations, risking outright war. At this pace, they'd be caught before the day ended by tomorrow. Of course, he couldn't just abandon Naruto either. Uchiha Itachi never did anything without reason. He had decided to save Naruto from the hell that is Konoha, as well as accomplishing his own goals at the same time, for the reason that the treatment of the blond was undeserved.
"Naruto," Itachi let out in a stern voice. At the mention of his name, Naruto looked up, confusion etched across his face. "I believe that I've made you do enough book work for now. Tomorrow morning, we begin your training."
The blond smiled from ear to ear, just barely withholding a shout of joy. Finally, he would become a shinobi just like his adopted niisan. He'd become just as strong as him, and in due time, he wished to become a Kage, just not in Konoha.
"I just want you to know, it's going to be tough," the Uchiha warned. "Don't blame me if you don't survive the training."
"Pft," Naruto scoffed, his smile turning into a determined grin. "You know me, Itachi-niisan. I'll never give up! I'll try my best, I promise."
"We'll see about that, otouto," Itachi growled in annoyance at his charge's attitude. To think that he'd treat the training as if it were a plaything. Itachi glanced around, taking note of the environment. They were in a small clearing, and it was much too dark, too dark to even see more than five feet in front of them. "It's too late at night to proceed any further. I know that there's a full moon tonight, but we're traveling through the densest parts of the woods, to escape detection. I suppose that we'll camp here for the night."
Itachi unfurled a sleeping bag that he had been carrying for Naruto. He himself had nothing on him, because he was expecting to travel lightly. If he'd known that Naruto would've held him up this much, he'd have brought a pillow... Naruto crawled into the sleeping bag and fell asleep almost immediately, the walking having taken a heavy toll on the still small child. It was to be expected - Naruto had only been in the Academy for a few months, and had no chance to build up stamina. While the blond snored loudly, Itachi sat in a tree branch, standing guard vigilantly, as an Uchiha should.
"A brother is a friend given by Nature." Jean Baptiste Legouve
Naruto smelled food. He opened his eyes groggily. What time was it? The sky was a light blue in hue, with tints of red. That meant it was dawn. At least he'd learned something from his time at the Academy. The blond stood up slowly and stumbled over to a campfire, which was burning softly. He groaned at the time yet again, rubbing his eyes all the while. Naruto never really was a morning person. That was why he'd hated going to the Academy, having to wake up so early every day. Having slept late at night yesterday, and woken up early today, he felt very tired.
"You're awake," Itachi commented. He truly was a man of few words. "We begin after breakfast."
He handed Naruto two fishes on sticks, which were quickly devoured and finished by the time Itachi had finished one. Impatiently, Naruto got up and began stretching. He'd been taught to stretch before training, because suffering an injury would put back training possibly days or weeks, which would do more harm than good. And people called him an idiot... After finishing his second fish, Itachi stood up and walked over to a set of trees at the edge of the clearing, motioning for the blond to follow. Once there, he handed Naruto a kunai. It was blunt - he obviously didn't want Naruto to hurt himself.
"We'll begin with chakra control."
"Why would I need that?" Naruto said, frowning. "What is it anyway?"
"This exercise will fine-tune the control over your own chakra, letting you mold it more efficiently and use less chakra when performing jutsu," he said, walking vertically up a tree without the use of his hands. "I want you to cut the bark with the kunai as you go higher, to mark your progress"
"Oh... I think I get it now."
"Let us see if you truly understand, Naruto. Focus chakra into your feet so that you stick to the tree. Try to walk to the top."
Naruto focused chakra into his feet, then took a running start towards the tree. He was only able to take two steps before falling off and onto his behind. Seeing this, Itachi sighed.
"Naruto, if you're going to fall, at least do it without injuring yourself." Mentally, Itachi was annoyed. 'It was to be expected that he still hasn't learned chakra control of any level at this age. Hell, I doubt he even knows what the actual mechanics of using chakra are. He's probably just using gut instinct.'
Naruto grumbled a heated reply at the comment, but nodded. Falling on your ass wasn't a pleasant feeling, and he wasn't keen on that happening again. Naruto quickly returned to his exercise, running up and falling off the tree repeatedly while Itachi cleaned up the camp. It wasn't until Itachi had returned from scattering the remains of the campfire that Naruto had found out how to effectively land on his feet safely. Itachi nodded, acknowledging Naruto's accomplishment, but was slightly disappointed at the speed in which Naruto had learned to recover from a fall. However, the blond was also learning to climb the tree more quickly than others.
After an hour of checking up on his weapons and polishing his katana, Itachi returned to see that Naruto had improved, if slightly, now being able to go about five feet up the tree. It was a definite improvement from the two feet that Naruto had started with, and was rapid, considering Naruto's status as an Academy student. Still, the Uchiha prodigy wondered why Naruto had only improved three feet. You'd think that falling off multiple times would've taught the blond to concentrate chakra more heavily rather than incrementally.
"That's enough for now, Naruto. Let's move out before the Oinin find our campsite."
They traveled late into the afternoon, the sun burning down upon the tired blond at this time. Itachi left the blond with a canteen of cold water, having gone to forage for food. Left to his own devices, Naruto did the only thing available to him. He trained. Picking up the same blunt kunai, he chose a tree and began the same process of running up and falling down, the only addition being his ability to now recover from his falls. No more than ten minutes passed when Itachi returned with two rabbits. Amazing what a shinobi could do, really. He created a small but concentrated fire with a Katon jutsu, the purpose of it being that he didn't want to attract attention with large amounts of smoke. Being smokeless and hot at the same time, Itachi had no need to worry.
"Lunch," he announced in a matter-of-fact tone. Two roasted rabbits, minus the skin, lay on makeshift dishes made from wood that a Kage Bunshin had created. As if he would die if he didn't eat as fast as he could, Naruto gulfed down the food. Itachi could swear the blond literally inhaled it. That just wasn't normal.
Naruto quickly returned to training after the meal, but suffered a stomach-ache in response to the lack of rest after a meal.
'Just like Sasuke, he's determined to prove himself. One year ago, only Naruto would've had the actual determination to become stronger, while Sasuke would merely look up at me, trying to imitate me. Now, both have the potential to rise to greater heights.'
He left Naruto to his training, leaving to set up a few traps for the soon-to-be-coming Oinin and to scout out the area. In two hours, Itachi returned, thoroughly satisfied with his work. If the traps didn't kill the Oinin, nothing save himself would.
'Thirteen feet,' Itachi noted. 'Not bad. He is improving exponentially.'
"Naruto, time to head out." Itachi gave one of his rare smiles. "If you can keep up with me until the we reach the border of Hi no Kuni, I'll teach you a jutsu."
"A jutsu!?" Naruto whooped with joy. "Damn right, I'll keep up for sure, Itachi-niisan! Hah! I bet I can beat you there!"
"Language, Naruto. Anyways, we'll see about that, otouto."
With that, the two set off to an uncertain future.
"When brothers agree, no fortress is so strong as their common life." Antisthenes
xxxxAfter much deliberation (Did I get that right?), I decided to revamp the chapters of Black Lightning, as well as work on Chapter 11. I updated it with my latest style of writing, which is much different, mind you. -grin-
Hai - Yes
Hi no Kuni - Country of Fire ; Fire Country
(O)Niisan - Older brother
Oinin - Hunter-nin
Otouto - Younger brother