Disclaimer: READ!!!!! I do not own any of the character's, ideas, definitions, names, or symbols from Naruto. The only named character that that I own in this chapter is Kozue Shinichi, and he doesn't really have a part. I did not copy off of any one else's story, I have hardly read any fan fictions on here at all yet.

Author's Note: This is the first fan fiction that I have ever written. If you think I've copied something, you are mistaken, but if you must tell me, then tell me. I do this for fun. I basically just turned 16! When I read through the story to edit, I find that it is a somewhat serious plot. This is a Kakashi X Itachi; a guy x guy pairing. It may not seem like it at first, it is slow going, but please be prepared. If you are offended by these types of things, DO NOT READ!! It starts out as a regular story at first. I will warn you when the time comes.

EDIT: 7/15/07

Onset of the Hunt

Smothering darkness leaked into the evening's golden hued twilight. At first it crept in with a thin layer of nighttime clouds, dulling the bands of oranges and pinks, whisking away any stray birds that fluttered by back into their nests. The occasional, lukewarm breeze became a passive sensation to the outskirts of the community, playing with the treetops and tossing the loose hair of random passerby's. The clouds, now just a collection of grey billows, lingered for a while, and then seemed to wash away, revealing a hushed kingdom of star speckled and indigo blue.

The majority of nights in Konoha were just like this one, highlighted by the reflection of the moon's rays on all of the village rooftops. It was quiet, for the most part, a cluster of insects chirping under the dew laden grass, or a few juts of laughter from the last customers of Ichiraku Ramen that night.

Among the various shades of pastel roof coverings, lay a single, grown man. He sat there with his back resting evenly on the yellow brick wall behind him. His arms drooped lazily across his propped up knee as he gazed out into the center of the village. Silver hair spiked towards his fine angled face, which was half covered in a black mask, leading down to his unzipped, olive green flack jacket.

His warm flesh shivered slightly in the chilly atmosphere. It had rained recently, bringing fresh air into the mouth of Konoha. Kakashi, with his leaf head-protector cast a few inches beside him, held his left eye casually closed. The scar upon it trailed vertically downwards and was barely visible in the darkness. He sighed in contempt.

Tonight, Icha Icha Tactics was to be seen through the window below him, lying on top of his headboard with the last chapter still left unread. A few feet away, lay the rest of the Icha Icha series, all of their orange covers worn out from the many re-reading sessions that he had taken part in. It certainly was an odd scene, seeing the famous Kakashi without is infamous books. There just hadn't been time to catch up on his favorite hobby in the past few days.

Lately, his missions had been occupied by numerous searches for Itachi and the rest of the Akatsuki associates. He had gotten as far as the Hidden Rock when he and three ANBU members caught up with man named Kozue Shinichi. He had been causing trouble, whether it was collapsing various mineral mines throughout its land and other nearby towns, or trying to delay its creation of shorter trade routes to other countries. He had been supposedly tipped off by some member of Akatsuki. They must have had some mysterious need to cut off the abruptly large economic growth in Rock.

Kakashi ran a hand though his hair with a huff of frustration. It had only been a little less than twenty-four hours since his return to the village with Shinichi. So far, the top specialist in torture and interrogation, Morino Ibiki, hadn't even been able to get a shot of information from him. The look in that mans eyes held nothing but the effects of existence. It was almost like he was a walking corpse…a puppet.

It didn't make any sense at all. Did it have something to do with Orochimaru? He knew that something had occurred between him and Itachi while they were in Akatsuki together, resulting in their now enemy relationship. Both parties were just trying to corrupt and take over everything around them, each trying to stop one another in their quests. No matter what happened, Konoha always seemed to be stuck in the middle of it all.

He continued staring off into the labyrinth of buildings before him. The air stirred with an electric pulse, the buzzing swish of rapid movements. The silver haired jounin looked up half heartedly. A few seconds later, an ANBU member was to be seen before him, crouched lowly to the ground, his white cat mask reflecting an eerie glow in the black background. His frizzy, russet tinted hair then swung back over across his face, catching up with the breeze caused by his arrival.

"Kakashi, a message from the fifth." The man's voice was quiet and breathy.

"Tsunade?" Kakashi perked his head to the side.

"You've been assigned another S-rank mission. Pursue Itachi at all costs, gather what information you possibly can without being discovered."

"Again…? Did something happen?" Unintentionally, his voice had sounded rather jaded.

"The man you took prisoner, Kozue Shinichi…," He paused, finally seeing a glint of interest in the silver haired man's eyes, and then continued. "He's finally started to give in a bit, but we still don't know the details. Akatsuki has already found a few of the Jinchuuriki (1) and extracted their bijuu (2)." Kakashi's eyes widened at this. Akatsuki had come this far already…? They defiantly aren't playing around…. The man continued.

"There is more information, but it's severely restricted only to the Hogake and ANBU." He stopped again, a rather insisting edge entering his voice. "You know…it's not too late to join back up with us, Kakashi…."

The jounin almost doubled over with skepticism. "No, I think it's best if I remain a here, a simple jounin….for my students…." He thought about this with an overwhelming feeling of doubt. He honestly had little more to teach those two, now that they were all under the guidance of the three legendary sannine. Sasuke was lost to them for now, but he too was under the guidance of Orochimaru, the most powerful of the three. His spirit fell at this. Was he needed here any longer? He had joined ANBU, back when he was younger, one sharingan eye richer, filled with grief and anger towards himself, after the death of his closest friend.

Reluctantly, Kakashi remained at attention as the ANBU affiliate fled back to the original topic, knowing full well that he had failed in his attempt to recruit the leaf Nin.

"The main point is; we need to double the missions, for everyone. We can't risk wasting anymore time. Leave tonight or early in the morning, the fifth doesn't care, but the earlier the better. We need to stop them. Others have been dispatched and are already on their way. Go alone to escape detection, but we won't be far away. You should be able to track us down if you're careful."

With no questions asked, the man departed in a flash, leaving Kakashi alone to prepare. Thinking, he decided that tonight would be best. He knew he wouldn't be able to sleep knowing this new information anyways.

Quickly, he slipped into his room through the window and started throwing things together for the journey. Thinking ahead, he silently stripped down his clothing, revealing the fair skin of his body. He didn't know when the next time he'd be able to bathe would be. A quick shower and then it was off to the wilderness. He stepped briskly into the bathroom.

After the water flowing from the showerhead grew hot, he stepped under it, slipping off his mask at the last second. The humid vapors immediately engulfed his muscled form. The steam rose up harmlessly through the air of the room. He needed to enjoy this comfort. It was hard to find any relaxation while on a mission.

Besides the calmness, this also gave him more think time. There was always way too much thinking time in this place. It seemed that all he lived for, all that he had ever lived for, was the missions he was assigned. He had no one here for him anymore. No family, no friends…. Maybe Konoha really had become too soft. He closed his eyes, letting the water wash over him, falling like tears into the drain.

It was two hours past midnight when he finally bolted across the village and out of its salmon colored gate. He had managed to stop and check on Sakura and Naruto one last time before he left. They were both sleeping now, unaware that their sensei wouldn't be there in the morning. Their silent sleeping forms; at peace now that they weren't continually fighting over the silliest things. He sighed and pushed back a stray strand of hair. Despite the fact that they were still learning, they really had grown.

Respectively, he had also paid a visit to Obito's memorial. His hands trailed down the engravings with a dolorously, overbearing affection. What had it been like for them? Did they know that they were dying when that time had come? Had they known like Obito had known? His finger traced the etched in letters of his name, before he solemnly put his hands back into his pockets. He bowed his head for a moment, mourning in the rich melancholy that the evening seemed to portray.

There was no time to loose. He couldn't spend all of his time standing here because he knew that it wasn't going to solve anything. He had to find Itachi. That was his mission now, not one that had been assigned so long ago. It was for the well being of Konoha and everyone in it. The jounin started to make his way back into the dense forest of trees behind him.

All of this had started seemingly with the Uchiha clan. It all linked back. The only advantage he had, compared to everyone else, was his red Sharingan eye, which he also received from an Uchiha. It was not his, but Obito's, his best friend. His dead best friend. He placed a hand onto the skewed head protector, momentarily closing his uncovered eye.

Honestly enough, he didn't have any idea where to look for Akatsuki, the deadly gang of missing Nin's. On previous missions like this, he had just traveled as far as he could until he received some information fine enough to report back to the Hokage. This time just didn't feel the same as the others though. This time, there was rigid and sinister evil in the air. It was very real. Real enough to make the thumping of your heart beat out of sync with the rushing of your blood.

1.) Jinchuuriki- A person within whom a bijuu has been sealed at birth is called a Jinchuuriki, like Naruto.

2.) Bijuu- The nine demons that exist scattered throughout the Naruto world, each with a different number of tails ranging from 1-9.