I don't own Naruto or any of its characters. It's the fine, although lately thoroughly butchered, creation of one Kishimoto.
Italics: Thoughts or Flashbacks!
Chapter 2: A Song for our Fathers.
"To Itachi! One hell of a captain, comrade and shinobi. Cheers!" a deep baritone voice declared around a big table located in the back of the establishment.
The whole squad was currently brought together to celebrate their captain that would soon depart from their ranks. A few of them had returned from an A-Ranked assassination mission only a few hours ago, but had still decided to meet up for drinks later. They were now gathered in one of the many bars in Konoha's, and the party had just gotten started. The place was neither big nor fancy, but it was inconspicuous and thus popular amongst the shinobi population. There weren't many patrons around yet as it was still early, but business had just started to pick up some and would likely flourish in an hour.
"Cheers!" another nine voices accompanied the first one. Eleven out of the twelve people present at the table raised their glasses as one and downed the contents. This was the third round of drinks.
"Cheers..." the last one muttered before raising his glass of juice to his lips.
"Are you sure you don't want me to get you some sake as well, Naruto-kun?" a hazel-haired woman teased. She was sitting directly left to the blonde-haired teen and it was obvious that she was enjoying herself as she tormented the younger ANBU.
The blonde grumbled something inaudible in response while pouting slightly, head raised in the air, away from his senior. The woman in-turn smiled mischievously and prodded the younger ninja's shoulder. "What was that, Naru-chan?"
Against his better judgement, the blonde repeated himself. After all, this conversation never led anywhere else than to humiliation, no matter what approach he tried. "You know I'm not old enough to drink yet, Aori-chan." The young ANBU made careful emphasis on the suffix.
"Old enough to kill, old enough to drink!" Someone from the squad chimed in, and many others chuckled. It seemed like everyone was most helpful when it came to deepen the blonde's predicament. Heck, even the raven-haired captain sported an amused smirk at his expense.
The woman giggled as the young man's pout deepened. "You know the bartender would be willing to make an exception for you." And it was probably true, too. While general laws still applied to hidden shinobi villages, they weren't taken as serious as in other places. And in turn, places like this - bars most often visited by shinobi's, were far more lenient than others. Shinobi's did after all, on average, mature faster than civilians.
"Why are you so hell-bent on getting me to drink, anyway!?" The blonde complained. "You've been taking every chance you've gotten this past year!"
The two of them normally got along great. They both respected each others abilities, and Naruto would count the battle-medic as one of his few friends. Only problem was that while under the influence of sake, the by six year older woman found great amusement in making the younger ninja squirm, and thus tended to get rather suggestive. The blonde could deal with a lot of things in life. Insane jutsu's, hordes of enemy ninjas, grumpy old perverted men or a friend that was emotionally imperfect at best.
Frisky woman under the influence, however, was not one of them. At least not this one in particular. It was near-impossible to retort to her teasing, and the fact that she normally did not act like this didn't make it easier.
"Aww, poor little Naru-chan. It's just too fun not to! And who could pass up the opportunity to corrupt the son of Yondaime-sama?" Naruto crossed his arms over his chest and glared. She leaned in closer to his ear and whispered, "Besides, you look absolutely adorable when you're upset."
Naruto rolled his eyes. She's even worse than usual! Now how am I gonna get myself out of this one? He snuck a pleading glance to his left, where the captain was seated. Should've been seated. When the hell did he sneak away? From his own party no less! Argh! The blonde glanced around the table, but while everyone's attention was focused on him, noone was willing to help him out.
"You're on your own brat!"
Naruto slumped his shoulder in defeat and let himself be dragged by the female towards the bar. He figured that this was, at the very least, his captain and friend's last day on the job. Just thinking about it made him rather depressed. Not only in the sense of being left behind by a comrade, but more so what would happen to him now. Codename Yagi would most likely take over as the new captain. Seeing as he was the current vice-captain, the spot all but belonged to him. Naruto knew this, but didn't know how to feel about it.
Yagi wasn't a bad person per say. He was protective and probably did what he felt right. And he didn't lack skills either, he had impressive physical strength, stamina and speed and above-average nin-jutsu knowledge. Thus he was easily within top ten of all current ANBU when it came to individual skill. No, he certainly didn't lack the individual skill for such a position. What bothered Naruto was that the man was too straightforward & hot-headed. He'd often charge right into situations instead of planning wisely, and this is what would often lead to casualties. And, of course, the fact he held an obvious grudge towards Naruto didn't bode very well for the blonde's future.
He sighed and grabbed the shot in front of him. All personal beliefs and musing aside, I can really do with some distraction right now. Sake was normally served in saucers or smaller cups, but in establishments such as this one, they were generally served in shot-glasses. Smiling bitterly, he raised the glass towards his lips - all the while being very aware of all the expectant stares around him. Most patrons were looking his way right now, recognizing him either as the Kyuubi's jailor or the prodigal son of a beloved leader. He knew very well that this would most definitely be gossiped about in the morning, and it took him all his willpower not to snort in amusement.
As the glass touched his lips, he suddenly got second thoughts about the whole ordeal. The scent had reached his nose and if it was any indication, the rice-liquor would taste fouler than he had ever expected. What the hell have I gotten myself into?
"Well, well, isn't this a sight! Our arrogant little genius all grown up! I wonder what Sarutobi-sama would say." a mischievous and mocking female voice suddenly spoke up from behind him.
Naruto would recognize that voice anywhere. By all rights, he should have seen it coming, should've known that she would be there. After all, she always was He turned around to glare, liquor still in tow. The least he wanted to do was give her another reason to get on his case. His eyes met with a mesh-shirt that revealed more than it probably ought to. It was covered by a beige overcoat over a slender figure and a skirt, from under which the mess of fabric that was her top instead took on fishnet proportions and trailed down long slender legs.
"Oh, look what the cat dragged in. Anko-san, to what do I owe this lovelypleasure?"
A bit behind the snake-kunoichi stood a second, older female. This one had long, flowing black hair. Her attire, which was very unusual even by shinobi and kunoichi standards, consisted of a one-sleeved, part red-fabric part mesh top. The top was, in turn, covered by bandages that in a seemingly random order covered her upper legs, hips, torso and shoulder. She was one of the very few kunoichi's that managed to look absolutely stunning while still remaining dignified as a lady. What Yuuhi Kurenai was doing in a place such as this, with Anko no less, the blonde did not know. They usually did not go very well together, after all. Partly due to rivalry and partly because they were complete opposites.
He had other things on his mind, however and decided to acknowledge the older kunoichi's presence with a nod and a wink. It was an obvious attempt to rile Anko up, insinuating that Kurenai was worth his time and she wasn't.
Of course it worked. The short glare was an indication to that, before Anko calmed herself and smiled mischievously. "By all means, don't let me disturb you, I was merely commenting, that's all." She grinned that superior cheeky grin and motioned to his drink, "Or did little Naruto-chan change his mind? Maybe not such a big man after all?" She spoke as one would to a child.
Naruto grunted. He just couldn't seem to catch a break. "Ah, and here I thought I'd be kind enough to wait for you to order something," he lied - not all too successfully, "but as you don't seem to mind, bottoms up." And with that, to the cheer of the building audience, he swept the whole thing in one tug. He winced and hissed slightly, it tasted a lot sourer than he'd expected. He felt a warm sense of tingling in most of his body as his enhanced senses were affected almost immediately.
"I didn't think you had it in ya', brat." The snake-mistress half-praised, looking him up and down in a mocking way as if she'd suddenly gained new-found respect for him before she ordered two more drinks. One for her and, of course, one for him. It was an unusual sight to see Mitarashi Anko buy someone else a drink, but he was pretty sure it was largely due to her recognizing that he did not want it in the first place.
The blonde, of course, wasn't one to be outdone. Especially not in front of a crowd, he'd give them something to gossip about, alright! Childish teasing washis game. "Hmm, wasn't that what you said to me last month, as well? You know, but then it was just the two of us..." She looked at him in fury as she understood where he was going, her face going through different shades of red. The gossipers, on the other hand, looked at him oddly; probably thinking along the lines of 'they didn't!?' as they tried to put two and two together. They would probably not put it past Anko, but a twelve year-old?
He was going to take his time to enjoy this, having everyone in suspense. Then he noticed a certain, awfully-quiet-as-of-lately, teammate of his also looking at him completely distraught, before she shifted towards the purple-haired jounin in disbelief. Kurenai had a similar expression of disbelief, he noted.
"Don't even go there!" Anko hissed.
"Come on now, Anko-hime-chan. It wasn't that bad!" He tried to control his laughter, downing his shot as he did so; feeling bolder by the second. Half-proud, he noted that he didn't wince as much this time around, although the warmth on his cheeks deepened slightly.
"What? What happened?" Aori demanded.
"Shut up brat, if you know what's good for ya'." The jounin continued.
"Awww, you disappoint me, Anko-hime. What was it you said...? Oh yeah- 'I didn't think a kunai could be used---'." He was forced to stop, as Anko made put a hand over his mouth and glared at him viciously. It was probably too late however, as everyone in the room looked at him, completely bewildered.
"You'll shut your mouth boy, unless you want me to show you just what a kunai can do."
"That was just rude," he smiled mockingly. "And I don't understand you, hime-chan. Why do you go such lengths to keep that little, hm - exertion, a secret?"
Anko was about to retort in a manner most witty, she told herself, when a screech interrupted her. "What the HELL IS HAPPENING HERE?" the female battle-medic of Team Alpha suddenly demanded in a voice that didn't go unheard by anyone. "What... What did you do to him!?" She continued, and indeed it was directed towards the purple-haired jounin and not Naruto. She paced towards the older woman who was still holding him firmly in a threatening manner.
Seeing as most of the attention was torn away from him, Naruto slid under Anko's guard and appeared behind Aori, finally safe for now.
"I think I'll leave that up to Anko to sort out," he admitted, still grinning mischievously. Like hell he was going to admit to everyone that nothing really had happened. Well, at least not what they were thinking. They had perhaps rumbled, but only on a training field. A rumble that Anko had gotten very worked up about, even more so after she had lost it. And rather viciously at that. Besides, it would be fun to see her squirm herself out of this one, or if she really rather thought it was better to have everyone believe they had engaged in a rather bizarre activity instead of knowing that he had beat her.
Quite childishly he stuck his tongue out at her before he downed her drink, which was still resting on the bar, as well; that same mischievous grin plastered on his face all the while. He threw Kurenai another wink - probably just for the heck of it, before a few dozen leaves entered the scene and swept him away.
In the cool night, screams of bloody murder, accompanied by curses that could put a sailor to shame could be heard coming from a certain bar in Konoha. A block away from the bar, a blonde strolled merrily down the street.
He smiled sadistically as he made his way downtown.
The prodigal Uchiha sat on a rooftop across the street from the Konoha Shinobi Police building when he felt someone drop down beside him. He was a little bit annoyed at being disturbed as he had some very serious thoughts to contemplate, but then smiled briefly as he recognized who it was. That smile however, accompanied by a small nod was his only sign at acknowledging his companion's presence.
The other figure only shook his head at his friend's subtle antics. "Fancy coming across you here, Itachi-sempai. This is, if possible, the last place I'd thought of looking," thinking; Actually, this is the last place I thought of looking... It had taken over an hour to track down the raven-haired young man.
"Don't call me that. I am not of the ANBU anymore."
"Well, officially you leave tomorrow, and it's not yet midnight..." the figure continued, grinning. Aha, that's what got him so down.
Itachi made no move to retort, instead he eyed his comrade carefully before giving a half-hearted sigh. "You've been drinking. I'm surprised you let Aori talk you into it, Naruto." His tone was not berating however, and very unlike the one from which he used to speak to his little brother who was, fittingly enough, in Naruto's age. If this had been Sasuke he had been talking to, he would have looked down on him, quite possibly even mentioned that he was disappointed in his actions.
The two boys were completely different to Itachi, but although many would go to the length of assuming that Itachi did not care for Sasuke, they were mistaken. Itachi never babied his brother, instead he gave him a very tough kind of love. He tried to make the younger Uchiha grow himself strong, without relying on anyone else. Thinking, learning and ultimately succeeding on his own. Without the support of everyone that Itachi had had. It would be needed of him, were he to succeed where Itachi couldn't; to turn the Uchiha into a prosperous machine as the heir of the Clan.
Itachi had distanced himself from his Clan a long time ago, much to the dismay of father dearest. The man that had sired him had tried to persuade him to come back, even gone as long as to threaten him to do so. The last attempt had been to disown Itachi, forcing every Uchiha to cut their ties with him until he apologized for his actions and came back. Until today, he hadn't.
The disowned Uchiha grit his teeth in anger and frustration, forgetting his company for a mere second, and let his cold fury run rampant in the dead of the night.
"Hey hey, what's up, Itachi?" the twelve year-old asked, following his gaze towards the Police building, owned and operated by the Uchiha's.
"You should leave, Naruto."
"Like hell I should." The blonde called out, getting slightly annoyed. "What's wrong?"
Itachi sighed, even more frustrated. His comrade just didn't know when to give up. "Nothing."
"That's bullshit and we both know it." Naruto called him out on it. He had just about had it with his captain's attempt to always hide everything. He pointed to the police building; "If it pains you so, to go back, then why do it, huh? Why let them control you?"
The Uchiha grit his teeth again, his sharingan threatening to flare to life. "You wouldn't even understand." It came out harsher than he had expected.
The blonde looked almost shocked for a second, before he started fuming. "What the hell do you mean by that?" He took a few steps forward until he stood next to his crouched senior and pulled him up by his clothes. "I consider you my friend, Itachi, and if you need to blow some steam out, then go ahead. But don't be an asshole about it, okay? I thought you were better than that."
To say that the disowned Uchiha was surprised would be an understatement. Rarely had he seen his friend so angry, but right now that only fuelled his own rage. "Let go off me."
Both shinobi stood perfectly still, the shorter ones hands still stubbornly clung to the taller ones collar.
"I'm your superior." The blonde grips did not falter the slightest, although he did snort in amusement. "I will not ask you again. Back. Down." He barked, eyes narrowing dangerously.
The younger responded in similar fashion. "Not until you tell me what the hell got you stuck so far up your own ass that you're acting like an even bigger asshole than usual. And trust me, I'll still kick your ass."
Itachi forgot all what self-restraint was as he with one rapid movement reached for the kunai pouch strapped to his leg, Naruto tensed as he saw his comrade's sharingan eye spin to life, but didn't take long to react. Fortunately, his hands were already close to his former captain's head and, as the older shinobi planted his knee in Naruto's solar-plexus, Naruto put his fist to Itachi's cheek. Neither held back, at least not by much.
Naruto almost got the breath kicked out of him, but having an inhuman threshold for pain had its advantages and he soon flipped himself over while mid-air and landed on his feet. Itachi wasn't quite so lucky, having been struck hard during one of the sharingan's biggest weaknesses; just as the eyes of the wielder changed, his or her vision would be blurry for just a quarter of a second as the eye refocused into perfect vision. Hence, Itachi now found himself in a low crouch, left cheek swollen as he watched his opponent. He moved a hand to caress his red face and had to repress the smile that threatened to appear on his face as he thought back of the young ANBU in front of him, anger mostly forgotten as he closed his eyes slowly.
"We are the same, you and I." Itachi sad as they marched towards their destination.
It was an A-Ranked assassination mission, Naruto's first of its kind. While he had accompanied a few A-Ranked missions before, and had helped to carry out a few assassinations, never had he performed one that was deemed A-Ranked. And never had he performed one with only three people. Understandably, he was quite tense. After all, he had just gotten his chuunin rank a few months prior.
The quiet, arrogant, douche bag next to him that suddenly tried to strike up this peculiar conversation did little to quell his nervousness.
Uchiha Itachi. Naruto had heard of him, alright. Most had, although the blonde probably even more so. After all, everywhere he went, people would compare him to the Uchiha. He was sick and tired of it. And now that he met him like this - eye to eye, he couldn't help but wonder what the massive hype around the raven-haired shinobi was based on. Sure, he was an impressive shinobi. Prodigal even, graduating at 7, passing his first chuunin exam with ease and now, apparently, had his eyes set on the ANBU.
It was why they were on this mission in the first place. It was to serve as an unofficial tryout-before-tryouts to make sure that the Uchiha was ANBU material, considering his young age. It wasn't needed, but the Uchiha clan head, Itachi's father, had insisted. Most likely in an attempt to showcase his son and heirs skill. Given his impressive resume within the ANBU corps, Tenzou had been asked to oversee the mission, and had brought Naruto along for the experience. The blonde nine year-old were to strictly observe however, and not take action should it be absolutely necessary.
The blonde looked up into the calculative black eyes of his comrade. There was something in them, hidden, almost expressionless; unemotional, that pressed his buttons all at once. "What the hell are you on about, we're nothing the same!" The younger almost snapped.
The black eyes of Uchiha Itachi widened for just a split second in sheer surprise, but they soon returned to normal and he smiled a genuine smile. "Perhaps you are right, Namikaze-kun. I apologize for my boldness."
Naruto frowned as he folded his arms over his chest, not catching the odd look of curiosity mixed with interest the older chuunin gave him.
"Hey, hurry up you two!" Tenzou shouted, having taken point.
They had walked straight into an ambush. Fortunately for Itachi, it could not have been solely blamed on him but instead faulty intelligence. What was supposed to be one VIP target with two chuunin-leveled bodyguards turned out to instead be one VIP target with several bodyguards, six of them ranging from genin to chuunin along with one A-Ranked missing-nin that lead them. And they had apparently been expecting them, too.
Indeed the situation had gone from bad to worse as Itachi had assassinated the target and his two bodyguards with surprising ease, only for all of them to disappear into mud. That's when all hell had broken loose. Itachi got over his surprise quickly, as a testament to his training and skill, and managed to avoid the first barrage of attacks, even managing to disable one of the weaker foes. He relaxed slightly as he felt Tenzou and Naruto enter the fray next to him while the enemies regrouped for a second attack, but still scolded himself for being so utterly careless. It would not look good indeed, and this was an important mission for him and more-importantly the Clan...
Although, perhaps if he showed an effort to conquer the complications that could very often arise on a mission such as this, and complete the mission with little to no casualties.
"This is my mission, I'll handle the jounin." He said firmly, confident but not arrogantly so.
Tenzou, technically still his superior although the Uchiha presented a valid point, took a moment to contemplate. "Okay, but be careful. Naruto! Back Itachi up!"
"Sure thing, Tenzou-sensei."
Itachilooked like he was going to protest, but didn't get the chance as the enemy chose that second to launch another attack.
"Don'tkick yourself, Itachi. Although I agree you were a bit careless, it wasn't solely your fault." Tenzou said. They were finally over with the debriefing, having made it back in one piece, even if there were a few close calls. "You took responsibility for your mistake. The only thing that is left is to learn from it and move on."
The Uchiha was less willing to agree, however, but he realized that he had learned indeed an important lesson at the very least. Upon the debriefing, the Hokage had grimaced slightly as he heard of the ambush they were victim too, but smiled as he had said he was glad they were all alive to talk about it. He had agreed to do another 'probation'-mission, as he had deemed them. Most probably to get Itachi's moral up.
"Thank you, Sempai." The raven-haired chuunin said, but it came out more as a grunt. This earned him a snicker and snort from the third member of the impromptu team, but said nothing. It was humorous to see the otherwise stuck-up shinobi interact. Itachi eyed him for a minute as they all three walked out of the main-entrance doors, leading out of the Hokage Tower, unfazed by the unspoken insult. "Naruto-kun," he began, getting the boys attention accompanied by a glare, no doubt at the endearing suffix. "You impressed me today."
While it was true that Itachi could've handled the jounin by himself, with Naruto's help it had been far easier and they had barely sustained injuries, something which he doubted would've been the case had he engaged solo. Naruto had adjusted almost perfectly to the role of backing Itachi up - someone he had never fought alongside with before. He even went so far as to launch a successful attack in coordination with Itachi that drew blood and ultimately led to their opponent's death.
Indeed, the boy reminded him a lot of himself when it came to most things, except of course persona. They were far different outside the battlefield, but on it...
"Pft, you weren't so bad either," he grinned, even more so as he added; "although you're still a stuck-up asshole."
He smiled a small genuine smile down at the boy as he came to a stop. "I'll look forward to our next mission, Tenzou-sempai, Naruto-kun."
After bidding each other farewell, Tenzou disappeared with a small gust of smoke. Itachi still smiling, reached out with his right hand towards Naruto, two fingers straightened out and closing his forehead. As they were about to connect however, the younger ninja forcefully slapped the imposing hand away with a glare, before stepping back and disappearing within a swirl of green leaves after he huffed in annoyance.
The heir to the Uchiha clan looked surprised for the second time that day, before he smirked. Turning around, he called out to a nearby bush; "Sasuke-chan, shouldn't you be at the academy right now?"
His smirk widened even more so as his younger brother appeared, glaring at the spot the blonde had been standing just a seconds ago.
As the raven-haired man opened his eyes again, he revealed his normal black eyes again. Upon seeing this, the other relaxed his guard, albeit only slightly.
"Thank you, I think I needed that..." the Uchiha uncharacteristically mumbled.
"Damn straight. Deserved it, too." the blonde grinned, all hostility forgotten for now. He winced slightly as he made his way towards his senior, "Shit, how a scrawny guy can throw a kick like that, I'll never understand." He offered his hand to his still-crouched comrade as a gesture, who took it and let himself be pulled up to a standing position. "So what now?" As Itachi shrugged, he decided to elaborate, pressing for an answer. "Why do this if you so obviously do not want to?"
"Because it is something I must do."
Naruto frowned. "Uh-huh. I still don't get it."
His companion allowed himself to smirk a bit. "I told you that you wouldn't."
"Yeah, and I promised you I'd kick your ass for it." He glared, albeit half-hearted.
A silence fell on the two of them as they both thought about it. "Naruto," Itachi began but paused, unsure of how to continue as the blonde looked him in his eyes and nodded. As a result, the Uchiha closed his eyes and tensed, almost gritting his teeth again but this time for other reasons. When he opened his eyes, he looked far off, not wanting to meet his friends gaze for some peculiar reason. "It is important that you know that, during all this time in the ANBU together, and before that... I've come to regard you almost as a brother."
Blue eyes blinked rapidly in surprise, before Naruto smiled which soon bloomed into a seasoned smirk. "Umm, thanks... I guess?" He managed, somewhat embarrassedly. Naruto was not at all used to the other shinobi being so open about his feelings.
Itachi said nothing. Instead he was left with a feeling of self-dread and foreboding following his confession, almost grunting as he clenched his fists hard enough to almost draw blood. He snuck a glance towards his companion, who was now following his previous gaze towards nowhere and not being the wiser of his friends actions.
Silly Author's Musings
Oooooh the suspense!
Anyway, thanks to FenrisLupus, my personal all-around-muse. Well, he is also Norwegian, and thus a douche bag extraordinaire. Kinda sucks, but you learn to deal with it.
As far as pairings goes, well... I'm leaving that one blank as of yet. I have planned this story more than any other I've ever even thought about writing, but I still haven't decided on pairings. As you've seen, however, I've left many choices open. It'll definitely be someone older, by how much however, I've yet to decide. As to who that rather big category of girls is likely to include, from this chapter and from not-yet-introduced characters, well... That's for me to know and you to find out. I usually - aside from Serendipity - do not do 'usual' or 'cliché' pairings. The problem, I guess, is with over 100k stories within the Naruto category, everything has been done over and over again. I don't do 'harems' either, although there may be several 'interests', in the end there'll only be one. This story is first and foremost about plot however, but I've decided to include a few pairings for some more 'light-hearted' scenes.
The OC's will be kept at a minimum, since I'm not comfortable writing them, they're mostly there for character development.
As for Itachi, well. I got some interesting plot-twists coming up including him and the Uchihas. Lets just say that what happens within the Clan, stays within the Clan. Far from everything is all nice and dandy within the Family; and Itachi is more than meets the eye.
Next chapter will be deviously interesting. Naruto as an ANBU captain; the forming of the genin team, and this timeline merging into canon. With some twists, of course. Also, possiblymaybe there'll be a bit of the chuunin exams. Naruto, of course, is already chuunin but will play his part. Maybe you can guess how I'll do that, maybe not.
I'd love to share more of my insights, as well as long-term plans, but no. You're just going to have to keep reading to find out, sorry.
Or just ask me really, really nicely. I can easily be bribed with red bull. Hint, hint.