Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
Warnings: Yaoi. Shounen-Ai. SasuNaru. ItaNaru. Spoilers and such playing around with the canon. Beware of my twisting around with the possible outcome of Naruto XD;; OOCness? Violence, language. Dark!Naruto? And for safety purposes, this is rated M.
Authoresses' Notes: Sorry for the delay. Announcements and explanations at my profile page :) Thanks to everybody who email-ed, PM'd, IM'd me. Special thanks to: StarsofYaoi, Wing It, Gonrie and Konoko89 for giving suggestions, opinions and criticisms on my fics and plot bunnies :D
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A million and one events has passed.
His childhood was filled with taunts and jeers, mocking words and cruel blows. He has been hailed as the demon, the Kyuubi no Kitsune. His cheeks were scarred, almost like a reminder of the fox that resided deep inside of him. He wanted to be Hokage then, because if that happened, the villagers would recognize him, acknowledge him. He loathed the Kyuubi, because if not for that demon fox, he wouldn't have been hated by the people the Yondaime saved.
He has been always a failure in the Ninja Academy. His classmates proudly displayed the ninja books their parents bought them last weekend. His classmates boasted about the new set of kunai and shuriken their parents bought for them. He didn't have those, he didn't have those materials that helped his classmates study. But he still persevered. He wanted to be recognized, to be looked upon by people as himself, not as the Kyuubi.
He was assigned to Team Seven. He wanted his teammates. He wanted Sakura-chan, a very popular, very pretty girl, to acknowledge him. After all, if somebody like her liked him, then it would mean that he was worth something after all. He wanted Sasuke. After all, Sasuke was even prettier and even more popular than Sakura-chan. Being rivals with Sasuke meant that Sasuke noticed him, that Sasuke thought of him as somebody who'd challenge him, an equal.
He underwent so many things. He saw how Sasuke 'died' under Haku's hands. He saw how a giant snake chased them all over the Forest of Death. He saw how his fellow ninjas fought in the Chuunin Exam. He saw how he defeated Neji and his beliefs about fate. He saw how Sasuke improved under Kakashi's surveillance. He saw how he defeated Gaara and the One-Tailed Beast. He saw how Uchiha Itachi sparked unstoppable rage from his younger brother. He saw how the Legendary Three faced off. He saw how Sasuke was consumed by his desire to remain superior. He saw how Sasuke fought him to gain strength, to gain power. He saw how Sasuke left him for his ambitions.
Despite everything, they still didn't give him the acknowledgement he deserved.
After all, Jiraiya took him as an apprentice because the Toad Hermit wanted to keep him away from Akatsuki. Because of the Kyuubi. Itachi went after him because of his mission. Because of the Kyuubi. Sasuke became envious of his improvement. Because of the Kyuubi.
It was still because of the Nine-Tailed Fox.
Uzumaki Naruto hated the fact that it always came down to the Nine-Tailed Fox. The village-people and fellow ninjas were still wary of him. They still saw him as an embodiment, an extension of the feared demon.
Naruto already heard the rumors. Tsunade-baachan was already giving Hokage-training to a select group of people. Neji, Sakura-chan, Shikamaru. Neji, an elite jounin. Sakura-chan, the head of the medical department. Shikamaru, the lead strategist. Naruto wasn't one of them. He hated the fact that his dream to be Hokage would have to wait for the Seventh, then.
Despite everything, he would still not be acknowledged.
The feeling of hollowness came back again, just like what happened when Sasuke drew him close. Naruto often dreamed of that day, when Sasuke lightly embraced him, in front of Sakura-chan, of Sai, of their team captain. He still dreamed of various things that could have happened, instead of the younger Uchiha escaping.
Naruto could have kissed him. Sasuke could have struck him with his sword. Sasuke could have unleashed the Chidori Current.
Instead, Sasuke left him again.
The blond flopped into his bed. He wouldn't cry, even if Sasuke left him countless times, even if his friends were on their way to steal his dream.
"I heard the rumors," A cold voice broke into the silence of his mediocre and messy apartment. Naruto heard that voice before, because sometimes, he dreamed of that too. Of the voice coming out from hidden lips, saying I'm not interested in you right now to the younger one who looked so much like the speaker. Naruto decided that he should have been more surprised, really, but he found out that he couldn't.
It was already too strange for words. "...Yeah," Naruto voiced out his agreement, his hands not drawing out a kunai from his weapons' pocket. He didn't feel up to fighting with Itachi. He didn't want to fight now, especially inside his apartment.
Without another word, or sound, Itachi left, melting into the ramen-flavored air and the messily-arranged apartment, leaving Naruto, with eyes molten into fiery red, staring at the spot where Itachi stood before.
Naruto wasn't exactly sure what happened.
He was convinced that he still loved his village. He still wanted to protect Konoha. But then again, the people who were living in the village either ignored, hated or betrayed him.
The rumors about Sakura-chan being the best candidate. The blond was slightly thankful for Shikamaru turning down the offer, deeming the entire affair too troublesome. Neji was still not saying anything on the matter.
Sakura-chan... She seemed to have forgotten about his dreams.
Naruto couldn't exactly say if he was angry, if he hated the village, but he knew that he didn't love it like before. A small, malicious voice hissed, purred, licked at him with smoldering flames, That Uchiha brat was right to leave this village.
The blond held back the urge to snarl angrily at the Kyuubi's distracting whispers. Yes, he knew that. The bloody fox didn't have to rub it in his face.
Thinking of Sasuke, like he did almost every moment, brought up the younger Uchiha's face in his mind. Then, almost instantly, the face melted into something older, colder.
The famous Akatsuki member seemed to have deemed Naruto's apartment as a suitable place for hanging out. It was really too strange for words.
Itachi didn't bring along Kisame with him, during his visits. The visits which usually consisted of Naruto ignoring the missing-nin blatantly. Visits where Naruto usually snuck a look at Itachi's face, heart clenching at the remembrance of Itachi's brother.
The older Uchiha surprised himself by not hauling him, kicking and screaming, towards Akatsuki's hideout. Naruto surprised himself by not reporting Itachi's presence to the Godaime. Then again, the blond was still pissed off at the Hokage.
Itachi still didn't state his purpose of his habitual Naruto-visiting.
It was three weeks after Itachi first appeared in his apartment. The blond was still a bit sweaty from his relentless training on his favorite training grounds. As usual, the Akatsuki member was comfortably seated on his old living room sofa.
"Why are you always... here?" Naruto asked, finally, and there was a smirk hidden behind the tall collar of the red-clouds-designed-black-coat.
"You're strong, Naruto-kun," The blond bristled at the suffix; the Kyuubi purred approvingly at the comment. "This village doesn't know that. I know. The Akatsuki knows."
Itachi's tone was still normal, bland, emotionless. But Naruto wasn't naive enough to miss the way those ruby-hued eyes shone with accomplishment and anticipation. The seal on his navel hissed and curled. Naruto knew, almost sure, about Itachi's next words.
"You should be with strong people, like us," Itachi remarked, a chilly feeling washing over Naruto as the word 'us' was uttered.
Naruto wasn't sure if he could do what Itachi wanted him to do. After all, the Akatsuki is still after Kyuubi, right? The demon fox was urging him to follow the malicious darkness swirling around the S-rank criminal.
"Join the Akatsuki," Itachi stated, leaning forward so that his breath was washing over Naruto's scarred cheeks. The ends of those long bangs touched his jaw. The blond's blue eyes saw somebody else, and Naruto was sure Itachi knew.
And then, Itachi repeated his words, tone more arctic than ridges of glaciers. "Join the Akatsuki."
He was still in a bit of a haze.
The packing of his things, the cleaning up of his apartment, the instructions by Itachi, the last, silent goodbyes.
Everything happened so fast, yet, too slow.
Naruto wondered if Sasuke was still in Orochimaru's clutches, or if the bastard escaped, or if he was already taken over.
He decided that if things wouldn't look well, he'd escape from Akatsuki's hold. He knew that the Kyuubi would help him if that happened. He was fairly sure that the great fox wouldn't want to be captured, especially by those creepy guys.
The real headquarters of the Akatsuki was not the one they went to during their mission to retrieve Gaara. It was only one of their secondary bases. Naruto supposed that he was really going to become an Akatsuki member, if Itachi was showing him the real base and telling him about passwords and secrets.
Itachi told him that they're still trying to find his ring. The blond guessed that the former member's ring was somehow lost during the member's last battle.
"Here we are," Itachi blandly stated, pushing him not-too-gently inside a darkened cave. Naruto almost sighed at creepy guys' creepy affinities with shadows and lack-of-light.
"The Leader isn't here," Itachi added, but he continued pushing Naruto towards the dungeons, where the sleeping quarters are located, as the Uchiha told him.
"O-oh," Naruto managed, feeling queasy. Why was Itachi, almost excitedly, pushing him towards the dungeons? Was Itachi going to capture him, after all?
If the blond looked at Itachi, he would have seen the wide smirk planted on the other's face. They came to a stop in front of a dungeon, with soft yellow light peeking from the space underneath the door.
Without any other word, Itachi pushed open the door. Naruto's face split into a maelstrom of emotions, and the blond wasn't sure whether he'd cry in joy, in sadness, in anger, or if he'd just faint, or simply ignore this and hope he was simply having an evil nightmare.
Itachi seemed to have planned, and expected this. Naruto still felt torn between happiness, anger, and shock. The blond, once again, had the feeling that he almost knew what would Itachi say.
Naruto's azure eyes were fixed at the person's form though.
Bluish-black spiky hair crowned a pale, aristocratic head. Piercing dark eyes, colored like the viscuous blood, stared at him back. A pointed, dainty nose rose above the alabaster cheeks. Rosy lips that usually sneered, smirked, taunted him, were set in a tight, emotionless line.
The person was seated in the low bed, wearing a simple gray t-shirt and loose black pants. His nails gleamed purplish from the candle's light. The black-with-red-clouds coat was folded beside him, accompanied by the trademark straw hat.
It can't be... It's too weird, too good to be true.
"This is your partner, Naruto-kun," Itachi said the unnecessary words. Without another sound, the S-rank criminal moved away from the speechless pair.
The blond was surprised that he didn't fall to his knees. The person he has searched for... He was here. Finally.
"Sasuke," Naruto breathed out, a dreamy, entranced look crowding his eyes. Then, like a spell broken, the soft look disappeared, giving way to an angrier emotion. Naruto bared his teeth as he snarled.
To Be Continued
Further explanations and all those stuff would come in the following chapters :) And... I've been giving out longer prologues! XD;; Which, I think, is good, yeah:D
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