Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. This was written for fun, not profit.

Five-minute character study for the win?

mettle

i.

"Tell you what," Shisui says as he leans over and pokes Itachi in the forehead. "I'll help you with your shuriken when you learn to crack a smile."

ii.

The first time they spar, Hatake doesn't even have to use his stolen bloodline limit. He does, however, have to put away the book.

iii.

Itachi kills his clan to test himself - to prove that he is greater than the Uchiha.

When he lets his little brother lives, he wonders if that means he has failed.

iv.

Strictly speaking, the fight with Kisame is a draw - but neither of them will admit to anything less than winning, so both of them consider it a loss.

Sometimes Itachi thinks that this is why they get along so well.

v.

If he had the chakra to spare or could hear himself think over the Kyuubi's panicked roars, Itachi would ask his brother why he's here - why he's siding with the Leaf, wasting his time on a half-dead jinchuuriki.

He's almost glad he can't.

The answer, he thinks, would only disappoint him.