Summary: Yugitos gets a taste of life in Konoha and high society. And she makes her first new play-friend.

AN: I'm really sorry about the long break. I received a chance to cross train at work and there is a huge learning curve in a new position. Another reason for the silence is the rampant plot bunnies running around in my head. I sometimes feel like Akane Tendo; I just want to take a mallet to them and pound them into submission. I've got at least a dozen stories where particular scenes have already been typed but with absolutely no background story in the fashion of shadowglove. I'm not complaining... I adore shadowglove's Smallville crossovers, but having half finished stories lying around on my laptop is very very frustrating. I was determined not to post anything new until I Finished It. I was feeling uninspired by my anime fics and got distracted by Harry Potter. I have a few new pieces that I'll be posting tonight and Jan 1 as a gift to everyone who has added me to their favourites and left reviews. Anyone interested in a Hermione Granger Bruce Wayne pairing? I participated in the 2009 Hermione Big Bang Challenge. I'll be posting the fic on in the next few hours. Mwahahahaha. Sorry. I had to get that out of my system.

AN: For those who participated in the poll thank you very much. Kushina has won and she will be Itachi's jounin sensei in the up coming chapters.

AN: Previous Chapter 14 modified and new material added. Please re-read it.

AN: Disclaimer in chapter 1


...ooO Meetings Ooo...

Yugito blinked and fidgeted in her festival yukata made of fine linen and covered with bright yellow, pink and purple flowers. She liked her new kaa-san and tou-san and even her otouto Naruto who did nothing but eat, cry, laugh, and sleep but right now she was feeling very fidgety and bored. Her feet hurt and there was nothing to do. There were too many adults around. Yugito wanted to run and hide under the food tables where it was dark and warm and safe.

Instinct warred with her mothers orders. Instinct won.

Yugito darted away from the chuunin assigned to be her caretaker/guard.

- - -

Uchiha Itachi was bored. He had attended many formal ceremonies. As the Uchiha Heir he could not skip out of his obligations and duties to up hold the Clan Name in Public.

Sharp ears picked up on the adult conversation around him.

"I can't believe it. Yondaime-sama actually adopted a gaijin child of no-clan." The pink-haired lady sounded scandalized. "Surely it would have been more appropriate to adopt a Konohan orphan. Or to foster a child from one of the shinobi clans if his wife is feeling such strong maternal urges."

His father frowned. "Don't be foolish Yuri. The Yondaime never does anything without reason. There must be something special about the girl he adopted. She has been under constant ANBU guard and her medical records have been sealed under Double-S security. No one, Clan Head or Council Member can access them without the Hokage, or those who participated in casting the Security Seal." He admitted sourly. "The brat must be special. But those who know aren't talking."

The pink-haired lady, Yuri, sniffed. "Probably some kekkai genkai child from another village. Perhaps Mizukagure from the rumors."

Father frowned. "I don't care where she came from. What bothers me is the security restrictions. The Yondaime is keeping a tight hand on information flowing from the Hokage Tower. None of my usual sources have been able to find out anything. But there is something planned! ANBU have been moving in and out of Konoha. Jiraiya has been spending a lot of time in Konoha with the Yondaime. As a guest in fact."

"Do you think it has something to do with the girl-child?"

"Yes. I believe she has a powerful kekkai genkai."

"So she has a kekkai genkai. She will become a Konoha kunoichi and bring prestige to Konohagakure."

Father fumed. "Yesss!" He hissed irate. "And do you know who the Yondaimes wife chose to be her god-mother? Mitarashi Anko!"

Yuri inhaled sharply. "The Snake Sannins apprentice? The traitors apprentice?" Green eyes flashed. "This is truly an outrage! What is Yondaime-sama thinking?!? Allowing a traitor to--."

"Yondaime-sama is thinking the Civilian Council is made of loose tongued fools." A mild but sharp baritone interrupted the conversation.

Itachi stared wide-eyed at the Yondaime. He didn't hear the Hokages approach. Even his father, a jounin shinobi, hadn't sensed anything.

Usually merry brown eyes were hard and flat. "This is precisely why I have chosen to restrict information on certain on-going projects and plans. The Councilors are more interested in gaining influence, leverage, blackmail, and prestige than in doing their job; which is governing the civilian aspects and defenses of Konoha. If you feel it is beneath you... please feel free to resign."

Itachi watched with fascinated eyes as Father turned so red he looked as though he were about to explode. Itachi wondered if his head would go squish like a tomato would under the impact of an explosive tag.

He stiffened when those same hard brown eyes settled on him and softened.

"Hello there. You must be Itachi."

Itachi blinked and nodded. "Hai Yondaime-sama."

The Yondaime grinned. "Why don't you go and get something to eat Itachi-kun. You must be bored listening to everyone talk but having nothing to do."

Itachi nodded slowly. He did hear a lot of stuff but some things were pretty silly. He didn't want to know Gayutsu Iori was planning on meeting his sister-in-law Mariko in the Konoha Public Baths, or that Kamiya Yuuzu was meeting a married jounin after the party, or that Shiranui Genma had a tattoo of a heart and crossed senbons on his ass.

He ignored his fathers rising voice and the shrill shrieks of the pink-haired lady. He was feeling hungry. Kaa-san promised to give him a plate of food but she must have forgotten. It was irritating having a baby brother who wanted to be fed and carried all the time.

Firmly Itachi squared his shoulders and made his way to the buffet tables. He was six-years-old, feted as a prodigy, and an Academy student with every expectation of becoming a genin via early graduation. He was old enough to get a plate for himself.

Carefully he detoured around grasping plump hands of older women and filled a plate with a selection of pastries and treats. A quick scan of the hall did not reveal any quiet spots where Itachi could eat in peace, without being disturbed by gushing females. Putting his quick mind to work Itachi sought out a place where no one would look. After a few seconds he found one.

- - -

Yugito finished off the lemon tart from her plate piled high with sugary treats and short eats. Unabashedly she licked her fingers clean to savor every last crumb of pastry. Once she was finished she glared at the interloper in her secret den.

It was a boy with black hair and black eyes and very pale skin. He was dressed in formal navy blue clothes accented with white piping trim and white-red fans on the shoulders and chest. He was kneeling under the edge of the table on the side close the wall. There was no cloth skirt draping on this side like the other.

"What?"

The interloper held up a plate of his own. It was less loaded than Yugitos. Begrudgingly she wriggled to one side creating a space for him. Kaa-san always insisted on sharing her toys. If the boy wanted a den he could share hers.

"You can stay. Big people are funny." Yugito spoke bluntly between small bites of the cream stuffed éclair.

The boy made a face. "I know That."

The two children ate in quiet companionship. Neither felt much of an urge to talk or introduce themselves.

- - -

Itachi snuck peeks at the strange girl. He had never seen her in Konoha before. There were lots of civilians but to be dressed and attending the Namikaze Naming Ceremony she had to come from a wealthy influential family, perhaps even a shinobi clan. But she did not have any of the familiar clan traits. Her silver hair could come from the Hatake clan but Itachi hadn't heard of any daughters or nieces. There were no children; the youngest was Hatake Kakashi, the Yondaimes old student, the one with Obito-kun's eye. He wasn't supposed to know that but couldn't but know given how Tou-san yelled and the Elders grumbled about the matter.

Uncharacteristically Itachi first broke the silence. "I've never seen you before."

The girl blinked and stared straight at Itachi. He was vaguely drawn to the curious slit-shaped pupils set in wide purple eyes. She had interesting eyes. Did she have a dojutsu like the Sharingan?

"No dojutsu." Itachi blinked. He hadn't realized he spoke the question out loud. "Yugito can see with little moonshine. Kaa-san and Anko-nee-san play night games with Yugito. Here is more fun than the Cold Place."

Itachi blinked. "Cold Place?"

"From before." The newly named Yugito explained unhelpfully. "Not nice. Yugito like Kaa-san and Tou-san and Otouto. When he is big Yugito will play night games with him."

Itachi considered her words. "I have an otouto also." He admitted slowly. "He doesn't do anything but cry, eat and sleep."

She blinked and smiled slightly. "He is kitten. Soon he play games. Then he hunt prey." She explained bluntly. "Be patient and wait. Soon he will pounce and chase string."

Itachi was faintly bemused. Why was she speaking of Sasuke like a cat?

"Kitten is kitten." She explained matter-of-factly. "Baby is baby. Both will grow and become strong. Yugito will teach Naruto play games then hunting prey."

Itachi sniffed. "I don't see why you are talking about hunting prey like you want to become an oinin. I haven't seen you in the Academy. You aren't from any of the shinobi clans. What do you know about being an oinin?"

Purple eyes flashed and the pupils widened a fraction. She hissed baring sharp pointy almost Inuzuka-like teeth.

"You are kitten. Weak, inexperienced, unblooded. You know nothing."

Itachis spine stiffened. "I am a genius!" He snarled. "All my teachers tell me I will become a genin in a few years. Before most others even start in the Academy!"

Yugito blinked and retreated. "School makes you strong?" She sniffed. "Playing with string? You must hunt. Bleed and feel pain. You are kitten."

Itachi glared. Who was this nobody to call him weak? "You are nobody. You don't know anything about being a shinobi."

Those purple eyes looked up with secret amusement. "Yugito is Yugito. Yugito has been hurt by teachers and bad people. Yugito knows pain and fear. Kaa-san says Yugito is strong to know all that and not be afraid. Yugito will become a kunoichi. Until then Yugito will play with string and Anko-nee-san and Otouto."

The Uchiha Heir was stung and curious. Who was this Yugito to make such claims, to be so absolutely certain and self-assured about her past and future?

"If you don't know any jutsu I don't see how you can become a kunoichi."

Yugito giggled. "Yugito knows ninjutsus and taijutsu. Kaa-san doesn't like Yugito to play outside with other big people."

Itachi considered her words. "I am not an adult. You are my age so you can spar with me."

Yugito tilted her head to one side in almost cat-like consideration before she nodded. "Yugito will play-fight with Black Eyes."

Itachi blinked taken aback by her name for him. "My name is Uchiha Itachi. Not Black Eyes."

Purple eyes did not flinch from the trademark Uchiha glare. "Black Eyes has black eyes."

"Most people in my family have dark eyes."

She considered the information. "Yugito will play-fight with Itachi."

Itachi waited impatiently as she polished off the remains of her plate.

"You shouldn't eat so much before a fight." He warned her. "You'll get sick."

"Shinobi must fight any time." She countered. "Before meal, during meal, after meal. Always eat. Next meal may never come."

Itachi considered that bit of wisdom from the not-shinobi-clan girl and waited. After a few minutes he decided to nibble on some of his food. It wouldn't hurt to eat to get some quick energy. He was feeling hungry.

Twenty minutes later the two children crawled out from under the table and made their way between potted plants, silk-swathed legs and carved pillars until they were outside in the gardens attached to the banquet hall.

Itachi carefully loosened the outer layer of his outfit. His mother would be mad if he damaged the expensive tailored garment. At least the hakamas were loose enough for taijutsu.

Yugito did not show the same concern for her garments, the expensive dyed and embroidered linen. Her silver hair shimmered faintly under the light of the full moon as she tilted her face up to bask in the moonlight. She looked strangely fey and otherworldly.

Her small body moved, feet slightly apart, arms away from her body at her side. And then she shook her wrists. Itachi watched with wide-eyes as two kunai fell from forearm sheathes into waiting palms. In experienced fluid motions she ripped the skirts of her yukata down the side creating two thigh-high side slits in the garment. The material parted baring other weapons, a black band around one thigh sheathing a tessen, a small flat kit on the other leg that Itachi strongly suspected held shuriken since the band above it glinted from the senbons anchored through the dense material.

Itachi cursed himself mentally. A true shinobi was ready for battle at a moments notice. This girl-child who was not even in the Academy practiced that lesson better than him, the Uchiha genius.

The silver head tilted to one side causing the strands to gleam almost blue in the moonlight.

"Itachi is still a kitten. He does not have any claws with him. When Itachi is a cat Itachi can make his own claws."

She spun on one foot and lashed out with one leather-slipper clad foot. The decorative statuary she targeted crumbled into shards of rock. Itachi watched as she moved her kunais to one hand, holding them with practiced ease between the fingers. Gracefully she crouched, one leg out for balance, and picked up a shard of broken statuary.

With almost negligent grace she tossed it like she would a shuriken. The shard whizzed past Itachi with two feet to spare before burying itself into a knothole in a tree trunk. Then she repeated the action hammering the original shard she had buried in the tree with other shards until it crumbled.

Satisfied with her actions she slipped one kunai into her forearm sheath and walked towards the boy who had challenged her. Seeing his dumbstruck expression she spoke in kind encouraging tones.

"Itachi is still a kitten. Itachi will learn to always keep claws and how to make them. If you want to learn Yugito can ask Anko-nee-san to teach Itachi."

"You don't have to ask me that because the answer will be no. Fugate will never tolerate his precious heir being taught by me." A sharp adult voice cut through the night.

Itachi started but Yugito merely turned towards a shadowed area and smiled.

"Anko-nee-san!"

She bounded towards the shadow and leapt up in a feat Itachi recognized as chakra-enhanced body movement. Itachi grudgingly admired her chakra reserves and control to use such a technique. Her trajectory landed her straight in the arms of the woman who emerged from the shadows. Itachi recognized her as Mitarashi Anko, the traitorous Snake Sannin's apprentice.

He watched as Yugito affectionately nuzzled the kunoichis cheek and jaw before tucking her head into the space under the kunoichis chin.

Anko smirked knowingly at Fugate's brat. The much acclaimed Uchiha Prodigy, the Clan Heir expected to outshine all others for years to come. Too bad Fugate hadn't counted on Yondaime-sama and Usagi-chan. If the brat ever measured up to his reputation it would be through hard work because Yugito easily had the lead on him.

Itachis quick mind worked. Anko-nee-san. Mitarashi Anko. Tou-san was grumbling about Yondaime-sama being so soft to protect the traitorous Sannins old student, to give her hospitality and shelter. Otouto Naruto. Namikaze Naruto. Yugito was the no-clan child the Yondaime had adopted.

Itachi had to admire the Yondaimes choice. Yugito was strong even if she did not come from a shinobi clan. And skilled. Soberly he wondered just what she had been through to develop the skills and views she had demonstrated at such a young age. Her life must have been difficult before the Yondaime found her.

"Yugito-san is Yondaime-samas adopted daughter." He concluded out loud.

Anko smirked. "You are a quick one brat. And you are right." Her expression softened as she looked down at the child purring in her arms. "And don't think you're off the hook Yugito-chan. Your mother will be very upset with you. Destroying your yukata for no good reason." The kunoichi scolded the little girl.

Yugito leaned back until she could look the teenager straight in the face. "Yugito not sorry. Yugito want to play-fight with Itachi. Yugito cannot run in yukata." She pouted.

Anko sighed. "I totally agree with you kid. But Usagi-chan is still going to be pissed."

"I am more pissed with the chuunin who was supposed to keep an eye on her." A light feminine voice interrupted the conversation.

All three started and turned towards the banquet hall. Standing on the path was Namikaze Usagi. The blonde woman was amused and looking very elegant in her expensive sky-blue kimono and elaborately looped hairdo. Unhurriedly she made her way towards the trio. Once she was close enough Yugito lunged towards her. In a much practiced motion Anko released the little girl and Usagi cuddled her close, nuzzling her in turn.

Itachi watched with wide eyes as the Yondaimes wife petted her new daughter. His mother hadn't hugged him like that for a while. His father insisted he was too old for such childish needs, he was in the Academy and would be a genin soon.

Usagi saw the yearning expression in the young ravens face and her maternal heart softened. She disliked Fugate, his tactics and views, but she had never been confronted with the result of his actions before now. Usagi had never seen Itachi in an unsupervised setting without the depressing glower of an Uchiha adult before today. The boy was still a child and definitely not ready to be cut from the apron strings as Fugate insisted. It was unfortunate his wife Mikoto did not have the spine to insist and act otherwise.

Easily she shifted Yugito to one hip and moved to stand before the boy before kneeling on the grass uncaring of her expensive kimono. One hand rested on his shoulder and blue-purple eyes were sympathetic and gentle.

"It is all right to want to be hugged and touched Itachi-kun. All human beings need to be comforted and reassured."

Black eyes widened. "Father says it is weak--."

"Don't take your fathers word as gospel truth Itachi-kun. An intelligent person observes first-hand and draws conclusions. My husband is the Yondaime, the strongest shinobi in Konoha. Everyone admits he is a genius and skilled. Everyone in Konoha depends on the Yondaime to make the difficult decisions, to protect them, but at the end of the day he comes to me to be comforted and reassured, to find peace and renewal. Duty is not a good enough reason to live a long life as a renowned shinobi. You need a better reason."

"I want to be strong. I want to make Tou-san proud." Itachi confessed quietly.

"It is all right to want to be strong. But you need a better reason." Usagi spoke in quiet firm tones. "You need to be strong for yourself, but what if you are tired and sad? Will you still fight and accept the pain and loss? Why will you continue to struggle?"

Itachi was confused. "For Konoha?" He guessed hesitantly.

Usagi chuckled throatily. "Konoha? A place made of buildings, wood and concrete? Can Konoha love you? Will Konoha comfort you when you are sick and tired? Can Konoha protect your back during a mission? Will Konoha grieve if you are injured? Will Konoha prepare your favourite foods and listen to your woes?"

Itachis eyes widened. "For people! My teammates!" He hesitated. "And Kaa-san. She will cry."

"And what of your father?"

Itachis expression was blank. "Tou-san will never cry."

Yugito lunged out of Usagis grip and latched onto the Uchiha heir, nearly toppling him over. "Yugito will cry for Itachi. Itachi is Yugitos play-friend. Kaa-san will cry for Itachi."

Itachi blinked totally confused with the forthright girl clinging to him. Itachi was no stranger to fangirls but Yugito was not a fangirl. She was not 'in love' with the Uchiha Heir. She would miss Itachi… her friend.

The Yondaimes wife chuckled softly. "Yugito-chan is right. I will miss you. You are Yugito-chans first friend and you are important to her, and thus to me."

Itachi blinked rapidly. It was rare anyone found Itachi important. Oh, they praised and chased and targeted him, but they were after the Uchiha Heir, the Prodigy, not Itachi.

He did not protest as Yondaime-samas wife ruffled his hair carelessly like his mother used to and firmly unlatched her daughter from him.

"You are not off the hook Yugito-chan. Anko, could you please dress her in her spare kimono? I suspected she would run off and get dirty so I had an extra one sealed." She produced a scroll from her wide sleeve that she handed to the purple haired kunoichi along with her squirming daughter. "We will be limiting your accessories to just senbon and nin wire in the future. Nothing sharp or with edges until you learn not to destroy your clothes without a very good reason."

Yugito pouted. "Yugito wanted to play-spar with Itachi!"

"Next time arrange for a time to meet when the both of you are in suitable clothes." Usagi countered firmly. "The only valid excuse for destroying festival clothes is an assassination attempt or invasion."

Itachi listened to the kunoichi walk away carrying the squirming protesting girl. Itachi did not make a similar fuss as Namikaze-sama helped him into the formal outer robe and secured the ties.

Once she was satisfied with his appearance she looked him in the eye.

"May I hug you Itachi-kun?"

Wide-eyed the Uchiha heir nodded. It felt odd, the sensation of warm and soft squishy flesh and strong arms. He struggled briefly as she guided his face towards her shoulder. Her grip was firm and relentless. Itachi briefly suspected some pressure point techniques but his innate honestly refuted the thought. He wanted to be hugged, to feel secure, to know there was some who didn't care he was a prodigy, someone who cared for Itachi. Oh his mother cared, but it was in a distant fashion. She never showed it and always showered her affections on Sasuke. Itachi was vaguely jealous of his baby brother.

"Kaa-san always holds Sasuke." He admitted in muffled tones. "She never holds me. Tou-san doesn't like it when she does."

Namikaze-sama chuckled. "Your father has no say over my actions. If I want to hug you I will. But he is your father and currently has some say over who you associate with."

Itachi stiffened. "I'm going to be a genin as soon as possible! If the Hokage orders…"

Her laugh was warm and thrilling. "You are a bright one Itachi-kun. When you are a genin I will be sure to hire your genin team for lots of D-class missions. Until then I'm sure we can meet in the parks. Yugito loves to go exploring early mornings before most people."

"I think I am going to go through my conditioning regime in the parks early mornings Namikaze-sama. It will be more beneficial to workout in different landscapes than just the Uchiha Training Grounds."

Namikaze-sama laughed again. "You will be a very good shinobi Itachi-kun. And please call me Usagi-ba-san."

Itachi hesitated. "Usagi-sama."

The blonde woman smiled fondly down at him and brushed a kiss against his forehead. "That will do as a start."

- - -

That night Itachi listened to his father rant and rage, his mother try to soothe his temper with placating words. Itachi was not too concerned about his father, his attention was directed towards thoughts of tomorrow and Yugito.

His first friend! Not like Shishu who his father practically ordered to accompany him. Yugito Wanted to spar with Itachi. She did not care if he was a clan heir, prodigy or genius. In fact from Itachis view he would probably learn a lot more from Her! She would not stop him from pushing and testing his limits like the Academy Instructors. She would not push and force him like his father and Clan Instructors. She would let him do what he wanted. Would she lead or follow? Would she teach or learn? Itachi could not wait to find out.

- - -

Namikaze Minato watched his wife relax against the rocking chair, the picture of maternal perfection as she fed their son, but he could see she was slightly distracted.

"What is it Usa?"

Usagi turned to her husband, the purple shards in her eyes glinting strongly as the moon highlighted the strands of silver in her hair. Nowadays he didn't have to look very hard to see the silver mingled in gold. In a few years her hair would be pure silver. Sooner if the plans to Bargain with the bijuus were carried out without delay.

"Yugito made her first like-age friend today. Someone she met at Naruto's Naming Ceremony."

Minato frowned. He tried to remember what he could about the Naming Ceremony. It was mostly meeting and reaffirming relationships with the various clans, factions and guilds of Konoha. The parents had brought their children with them but few of the youngsters had the character to stick out.

"Uchiha Itachi."

Minato raised a brow. "Fugates eldest? That is a surprise!"

Usagi snorted. "Itachi is nothing like his father. He observes and judges. Do not bypass him as insignificant. He has a powerful intellect and great potential."

Minato nodded. "So his teachers tell me. So much so that Fugate is pushing for his early graduation." He frowned. "Kakashi graduated at six. At that time it was necessary. There is no true reason to pressure Itachi into growing up."

Usagi snorted. "The Uchiha Clan is already doing that. Let him become a genin so he gets a measure of independence and control. Give him an alternative to a suffocating clan."

Minato frowned faintly. "Genins are considered adult by Konoha law but--."

"But nothing." Usagi countered. "The law is the law. Once Itachi is genin he has some independence. Once he is chuunin nothing can stop him from moving out if he wishes. Give him a good team. A teacher who can be a friend and mentor like Jiraiya was to you."

Minato sighed. "That is going to be difficult. I don't want to pull any of the good jounins off field duty. But Itachis teacher must have the reputation to placate Fugate." He inhaled deeply. "I'm going to have to think about this."

Usagi nodded. "Start thinking now anata. He will be ready in two years if not sooner." Carefully she rose and walked over to the crib. Naruto did not budge as she placed him on the bedding and tucked the blankets over him.

She stepped back and pressed up against her husband's broad bare chest. A small smile spread across her face as she allowed her head to fall back upon his shoulder and felt his arms wrap around her, his hand stroke the underside of her breasts through her thin nightshirt. Familiar heat surged between her legs. She shuddered slightly.

"I'm addicted to you." She confessed softly. "Your voice, your touch. As long as I'm around you I would be forever happy."

He chuckled softly. "Really? How intriguing… Because it is exactly how I feel around you. Why don't I show you just how much pleasure you give me?"

...ooOoo...

TBC…


AN: Anyone confused about Yugitos style of third-person talking consider this… She grew up with almost no social development or instruction. Kumo would have been more interested in pushing her physical limits, breaking and re-shaping her than teaching her how to speak properly. As long as she could understand and obey orders who'd care if she sounded like an infant or an idiot? The speech-style is from Rin, Sesshoumarus ward in the anime/manga InuYasha.

AN: Usagi is taking the first steps to avert the Uchiha Massacre that happens in canon, though she doesn't know it.

AN: anata … husband/spouse

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