Disclaimer: Naruto and its characters are created by Masashi Kishimoto, but the new plots (meaning the ones you don't recognize!) are mine. This fanfiction had been written for entertainment purposes only and without intention of infringing upon any copyright.
Summary: He had to let her live, for she was the only one who possessed the potential to offer him a worthy challenge. Itachi-Sakura one-shot. This story is set a few years after Shippuuden, and only follows canon rather loosely. Contains some violence.
A/N: I can hardly believe that I managed to write a one-shot (haha!). My anime fandom stories are normally multichaptered, so this is new to me. I just hope that this one actually qualifies as a one shot. Anyway, hope that you all will enjoy this.
The Chrysalis by elle6778
Weakness was something Uchiha Itachi abhorred with every fiber of his being. And for that reason, he had sought every possible way to extinguish this loathsome trait within himself, until such point that nothing was left but pure, unrelenting strength. Strength that none could challenge, that none would be foolish enough to even attempt to do so.
Until this very moment.
Features set in its usual stoic mask, Itachi tilted his head sideways to study the figure before him somewhat curiously. The focus of his attention was one pink-haired kunoichi. He seemed to recall encountering her before, but he could not be certain. Glimpses of eyes flashing with green fire were visible through the holes in the mask as the Leaf ANBU faced him unflinchingly. Her posture showed no fear, her stance steady as she awaited his next move. She had appeared out of the densely packed trees in the forest, and Itachi had only moments to react to her sudden presence.
He knew that the Konoha and Suna had been hunting individual Akatsuki members ever since the organization disbanded a year ago. There was no reason to keep the organization running any longer, seeing that their main asset had been destroyed. Lack of knowledge had led to the destruction of the statue that held the bijuu, and with its destruction, Akatsuki's goal would never be realized.
Itachi, however, was unconcerned by the fate of the organization. Especially since he had absorbed enough of the bijuu's healing powers to return his eyes to a perfect condition before the statue collapsed. Now, he no longer wore the black cloak adorned with the red clouds, nor the bamboo hat as he traveled. After all, Akatsuki had simply been a means to an end. And there were other means by which he could further hone his strength.
Still, musing about the fate of Akatsuki was rather inappropriate in this situation. His current priority would be to dispose of this nuisance so that he could commence his journey. But before that, he would grace her with an opportunity to retreat.
"Kunoichi, it is best that you leave," he suggested in a quiet, but unrelenting tone.
To his surprise, a derisive snort sounded behind the mask. "Not a chance, Uchiha. I'm not walking away from the chance to kill you."
His lips tightened in displeasure at her foolishness. It was clear that she wished to fight.
So be it.
In a blink of an eye, he closed the distance between them, his fingers releasing a shuriken at her. The weapon made contact, but Itachi was unsurprised when the form disintegrated into a cloud of smoke. Any ANBU would be capable of avoiding such an attack. He was simply testing her reaction.
Calmly, he glanced up to find her descending swiftly, the sharp tip of her kunai heading straight for him. He waited until the last second before he darted to the side, immediately following through with a kick towards her. She twisted out of the way, flipping in the air to land a small distance away.
Itachi's eyes narrowed slightly. He had expected the kick to connect. Her reaction time was rather unusual, even for an ANBU. Still, speed was not everything.
With that thought, he streaked towards her, feigning as if he planned on releasing the kunai in his hands. Her posture settled into a defensive stance, and then as he expected, her eyes flicked towards his hands. Moving his fingers slightly, he executed a genjutsu.
Her body tensed visibly.
He watched her impassively as he maintained the technique. It was his normal genjutsu, nothing too special for him, but he had seen stronger shinobi break under the mental pressure. How long would she last? Would she attempt to fight it? Would she be strong enough to dispel it on her own?
His questions were answered by the soft sound of chuckles from behind the mask.
"Is that all you got, Uchiha? I expected more from someone like you."
Interesting, Itachi mused contemplatively. "You are rather skilled," he remarked softly.
He was not even aware that she had broken the genjutsu. This kunoichi was certainly unusual. And at that thought, he felt a tingle of excitement running up his spine at the notion. It was clear that this was turning out to be a worthwhile battle. Perhaps it was prudent for him to increase the odds on his side.
He did not have to wait long before she launched another attack, this time a wind jutsu. Smirking inwardly, Itachi held his position and retaliated by forming seals for his fire jutsu. Wind and fire attacks collided, and as he anticipated, her wind jutsu fuelled his fire, urging the flames to greater violence. With another series of hand seals, he then pushed the fireball directly towards her.
However, she was prepared.
A thundering sound of cracking earth filled the air, shaking everything in the vicinity, forcing Itachi to jump back to avoid the flying chunks of earth. Landing safely on a tree branch, he observed with displeasure as the airborne rubble met and immediately extinguished the burning flames before it could come into contact with her. Crouched low with a fist pressed against the ground, the kunoichi face remained upturned towards his, appearing to be completely unfazed by the situation.
Her identity came to him then. The pink hair and the monstrous strength could only mean that she was the Godaime's apprentice. And if he recalled correctly, she was the one who had once stood beside the kyuubi's vessel.
He watched as she straightened, unconcerned by the rubble surrounding her. Then a small movement drew his attention to her hands, and he immediately recognized the seal. His lips twisted in derision.
She wished to use genjutsu against him? How foolish. Surely she was aware that even ANBU-level illusionary techniques would not work on him.
It was then that he felt it. The subtle, almost imperceptible shift in his surroundings. Recognizing the reason of such an effect, his eyes widened in astonishment. This was one of the very rare times that he found himself caught in an illusion. The novelty of the situation made the entire event most unsettling.
An odd feeling drew his attention downwards. Then Itachi found himself staring at something undulating under the skin of his forearm. The movement intensified rapidly, his skin stretching painfully to accommodate the lump as it grew and strained against his flesh.
Then it exploded, spraying blood and tissue into his face.
Being aware that it was simply a genjutsu did not prevent Itachi from feeling every warm, sticky splatter against his face, nor did it prevent him from grimacing in pain when the same thing repeated on his other arm, traveling from one part of his body to another, leaving a blood-red mess all over his body.
With some effort, he disrupted the chakra flow to his brain, effectively destroying the genjutsu. All at once, the real world came into sharp focus before him.
His eyes immediately settled upon the kunoichi. Her entire posture was wary, her shock displayed by a sharp intake of breath. She had not expected him to break free, which meant that she truly believed that she had the capacity to best him. His eyes narrowed in annoyance.
He had to admit that her deduction was not wholly incorrect. After all, she had in some ways, succeeded in her genjutsu. That very fact in itself was enough to bring him to a decision. Whoever this kunoichi was, there was something about her which was worth investigating. He would find out how exactly did one normal kunoichi managed to capture him in an illusion.
In a fraction of a second, he was standing before her. Reacting quickly, she darted away from him, but he immediately followed. Their limbs met with a blur of movement, punching, kicking and blocking in rapid succession. Then his kick connected, sending her flying. A sharp crack sounded as she crashed into the tree, sending dry barks scattering around her.
A muffled groan escaped her lips as she picked herself up to face him. His attention was drawn to her glowing hands. Medical jutsu, he surmised with growing interest. Before he could fully assess its implications, she darted towards him.
Slipping out a pair of kunai, he held one in each hand, intending to block using his weapons. He could not allow those chakra-enhanced fists to even graze him. Her first attack came in the form of a fist directed at his chest. His eyes widened in surprise when he only narrowly avoided the attack. Somewhat irked by this fact, he jumped back and sent a rain of shuriken towards her. To his consternation, she managed to dodge all of them. She was fast, faster than he had expected. Her reaction was not normal, even for a high-level ANBU.
It was clear that she was not one to be easily defeated. However, he was not an average shinobi. With that thought, he executed a jutsu and leapt away from her, leaving five of his bunshins circling her.
Her eyes tracked his bunshins warily before she slammed her fist into the ground. Once again, the earth cracked, sending chunks of rock and soil flying upwards. All at once, his bunshins popped out of existence.
"You can't fool me like this, Uchiha."
"So it seems," he murmured as he performed another jutsu.
In moments, a series of kunai sped towards her. She immediately dodged, striking away those unavoidable ones with her own kunai. A kunai fell by her feet, dismissed by the kunoichi as she spun around to scan the surrounding warily.
That was her mistake.
Hidden by a cloud of smoke, Itachi transformed from the kunai back into his own form, straightening up behind her. He smirked when he heard her gasp of surprise, but he allowed her no time to react. Catching her in a chokehold, his fingers tightened around her neck, pressing her back tight against his chest. He would have the answers to his questions now.
"You underestimated me, kunoichi," he murmured against her ear, his breath blowing against her pink hair.
A chakra-filled hand came up, forcing him to loosen his hold to avoid it. She immediately twisted away from his grasp. Standing a few steps away, hands clenched into tight fists by her side, she faced him unflinchingly. She was still close to him, too close for her to avoid his next attack. He only needed to distract her for a moment.
"Who are you?" he asked calmly.
"The one who will bring you back to Konoha," she bit out.
"Such arrogant words."
A bark of mirthless laughter escaped her. "We will see about that."
Focusing chakra to his eyes, Itachi locked his gaze upon her. This time she would not be able to escape, no matter how skillful she was at dispelling genjutsu. The black tomoe in his eyes rotated to form the Mangekyou, and then he executed his much-feared doujutsu.
She fell to her knees, her body turning limp.
It only took a second, but Itachi knew that to her, it would feel as if she was under torture for days. Still, he almost expected it when she picked herself up, her posture still determined despite the slight trembling. Her chest heaved as her breaths came out in pants, but otherwise, she displayed no intention of backing down. She had defied each and every one of his perceptions, therefore he refused to be surprised that she was still conscious after being subjected to the Tsukuyomi. However, remaining conscious was not nearly enough.
He sped towards her, slamming her into a nearby tree. Obviously still disoriented and weakened by his attack, she did not escape in time. Before she could do anything, he gripped her wrist and smashed the fragile appendages against the tree trunk over her head, shattering her bones, drawing a choked cry of pain from her. Satisfied that she would not be able to use her hands against him until she healed them, Itachi drew back his right arm.
Then his fist connected hard with her mask.
A resounding crack was heard, followed by a fracture propagating down the middle of the feline mask. The fracture widened until the bloodstained mask fell apart, revealing her features.
Itachi studied her exposed features, taking in the thick blood seeping from the gash on her forehead, trickling down the side of her pert nose and then further down to the corner of her pink lips. And then his attention focused on her furious green orbs. Keeping his surprise masked, he studied the three black tomoe circling her pupil. There was no mistaking the unique feature of the Sharingan.
She sneered. "What about it?"
His ire sparked by her continual stubbornness, Itachi drove his right fist into her stomach, causing her to double over as her features twisted in pain. His left hand around her wrists prevented her from sliding down the tree trunk.
"Why should I tell you anything?" she retorted, this time staring into the distance over his shoulder.
Refusing to be ignored, he reached out to clamp her chin between his fingers, forcing her to face him. Even though she was glaring at him, he could still see the flicker of pain in those green orbs. She could save herself from more if she chose to cooperate.
"Kunoichi, do not be difficult. Or you will bring more pain upon yourself. You would have no one to blame but yourself."
She spat out a mouthful of blood at his face. "Blame myself? Don't make me laugh. This is all your fault," she hissed. "If you hadn't killed your clan, none of this would have happened. Sasuke would still be apart of our team."
He frowned, not understanding Sasuke's relevance in this conversation. Wiping off her blood from his cheek, Itachi remarked blandly, "I was under the impression that Sasuke left Konoha voluntarily."
"He wouldn't have left if you didn't do what you did, you bastard! He wouldn't have tried to escape Konoha again if he wasn't so desperate to kill you! And Naruto wouldn't have become what he is now if Sasuke was still around!" she shouted vehemently.
He raised a questioning brow. Escape Konoha again? "Where is Sasuke?"
Her lips twisted bitterly. "What is it to you?"
"You mentioned him. And I'm interested in his whereabouts."
The words sank in, but Itachi felt nothing. It was to be expected, considering that he no longer held any affection towards his younger bother. Perhaps he never did in the first place. Still, it was a pity. For Sasuke clearly had the capacity to be as strong as he was, and therefore would have eventually provided Itachi with a worthy challenge had he lived.
It did not matter now.
What he was interested in at the moment was how this kunoichi had developed the emerald Sharingan. The last time he had encountered her, she had shown no such ability. And as far as he knew, she was unrelated to the Uchiha clan. So it must have been done artificially.
"How did you obtain those eyes?" he asked quietly.
"Why, you want another pair?"
He ignored her taunt. "How many of you have it?"
"One pair is not enough for you, is it?" She snorted before continuing, "Surely you know that one could not utilize the Sharingan without precise chakra control or an Uchiha body. And thanks to you, there aren't any other Uchihas around."
"So it is only you."
"And that's enough to make you regret what you've done."
"Regrets are for fools."
"I should have known you'd say that. You're truly heartless, aren't you?" she spat in obvious disgust.
Heartless? Perhaps he was. But why should such a trait displease him? Being in such a state ensured that he remained effective as a shinobi. It would have been much more troubling if he was as emotional as the kunoichi before him. The only worthwhile emotions were those such as hatred and determination. Those were the emotions that motivated one to excel, to surpass the limit. And that was the very lesson he had attempted to impart to his little brother.
"What happened to Sasuke?"
For a long while, she simply glared at him. The play of expressions on her features was interesting indeed, Itachi mused, watching them shift from anger to sadness to pain and then back to anger again. It was almost as if she was not certain if she should tell him.
"Surely there is no harm in explaining, kunoichi," he prompted.
She grimaced, and then she spoke in a tight voice, "Sasuke was brought back to Konoha a while ago but he kept trying to escape to find you. And one day, a few months ago, he tried once too many times. The council had enough of it." Her eyes hardened. "He was executed, but not before they took him apart to study the secret of the Sharingan."
Comprehension dawned upon Itachi. "And so you received the gift of the Uchiha's bloodline limit."
Her lips thinned. "To hunt you down, for Konoha and for Sasuke. To make sure that you suffer for your crimes. To make sure you pay for breaking apart my team."
Was the kunoichi truly that naïve? Teams breaking apart, betrayal between so-called friends, blood flooding the battlefields, comrades slaughtered by enemies, such things were the norm. As an ANBU, she should have seen her share of such things. Unless, of course, Konoha had weakened further than he had imagined.
"Are you not aware that such is the life of a shinobi?" he asked pointedly.
She glared murderously at him. Apparently she did not agree with him.
It did not matter. What he needed to do now was to decide upon his next action. Although she had put up a good fight, she was now under his mercy. Should he relieve her of her life, or should he spare it?
With Sasuke gone, there was one less person who possessed the Sharingan. Hatake Kakashi was a challenge, but with only one Sharingan eye and a non-Uchiha body, the Copy-nin was somewhat disadvantaged. This kunoichi, however, was different. The eyes were her own, fuelled by her own body, but enhanced with the powers of the Sharingan. What could this new Sharingan do? Was the Mangekyou within her reach? In which case, would she suffer the same deterioration of eyesight as the rest of the Mangekyou wielders?
Judging from her tale, the emerald Sharingan was only in her possession only for a few months at the most. Thus, its full capacity has yet to be reached. The possibilities for this new Sharingan were endless. And he had to admit that he was curious of what it might bring.
That very moment, Itachi knew that he had to allow her to live.
For she was like a chrysalis, one in the process of advancing into something with the potential to offer him a worthy challenge. He would allow her to live, so that one day, she would seek him out once again.
With that thought, Itachi released his hold on her, allowing her to fall to the ground. Her expression displayed her incredulity just before he turned around to walk away from her.
His steps slowed at her words. He glanced over his shoulders to find her pushing herself to her feet, her injured hands dangling limply at her side. It was obvious that she had not expected him to simply leave her alive.
"You're not worth fighting in your current state."
"Find me when you're able to kill me. Then we may continue this."
He smirked when her eyes widened in disbelief. Without further ado, he resumed his journey, certain that they would meet again.
A/N: Jan 2014 update: Hope you've enjoyed this story. It started as a one-shot, but there's now a sequel/follow up called The Butterfly.