Diary of a Madman:
Memoirs of a Missing-Nin
By Uchiha Itachi
I suspect that by the time you are reading this, I will be long dead, and for all I know, I will be the last person to read this. I certainly have no desire for immortality, unlike Orochimaru. Life is boring enough already without the tedium of eternity weighing on one's shoulders. As it stands, I will face death and embrace it gladly, when it finally comes to claim me.
But I'll fight like hell to stay alive until that time, because boring or not, my life is my own - I'll not give it up to any damned fool who has the audacity to ask for it. They're all welcome to try, though.
Anyways, let me begin by saying, to whomever comes across this journal...PUBLISH THIS. You'll find all the necessary funds already accrued and allocated in General Account #[account number removed - editor]; all it requires is that you hand this diary over to Takenori Publishing and to tell them to look in said account. Don't bother trying to remove the money for your own use - only four individuals know how to do so successfully, and they won't tell.
I can only make assumptions about my eventual death, as I am, at the time of this writing, obviously very much alive. I'm therefore going to assume that, like most ninjas, missing or non, I died in a titanic battle, before which I hopefully had wild marathon sex with at least four very attractive women.
Frankly, to go out in any other manner would be frightfully depressing.
Regarding the primary source of my infamy, the 'Uchiha Massacre' as it's commonly known, I will make absolutely no statements about it with regards to my reasons. My reasons are my own, and I considered them sufficient in my own mind to carry out the wholesale slaughter of nearly all my Clan. I will acknowledge that this action is why most people would consider me mad at the very least, and completely evil at worst. I'm not sure if I disagree with either point, by the way.
I will, at a later point, give explanation as to why I spared my younger brother Sasuke from death, and why I left Konoha proper.
Finally, if this work seems to be unfinished, I apologize most sincerely for my untimely death.
October 19, 6th Year of Godaime Hokage, 377 CE (common era)
Today is my twenty-fifth birthday. Oddly enough, I feel old. After a second's contemplation, I realize that I'm barely a year away from middle age (relative to the average shinobi, which I am not). Kisame gives me a strange look when I voice this thought.
It is only hours later that I realize that he's almost twice my age. Come to think of it, I haven't the faintest idea of when his birthday is.
...Not like I'd get him a present.
There isn't much in way of a celebration, as we're deep in the middle of nowhere. We just came back from a rather unsuccessful attempt on the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki, and Kisame is currently wrapping bandages around his chest. As much as the child annoys me, Uzumaki Naruto's growth from a barely genin-level laughingstock to an eminently competent (although no less loud) jounin in a few short years is impressive. He's still weaker than either Kisame or myself, but Jiraiya definitely tips the balance in their favor.
If he keeps up this obscene pace, Uzumaki will be beyond the abilities of Kisame and I in two more years. I would put his present talents just below those of Orochimaru. And if he should go berserk...well, it wouldn't be pretty.
I look up at the sky; there aren't any clouds. I'm beginning to wonder, sometimes, whether actually capturing the Kyuubi's gaoler is actually feasible anymore. The Leader seems to think it is, although I had (and still have) serious concerns about this so-called 'plan' of his regarding the tailed beasts.
Shukaku, the Ichibi, was a pain, and he was the weakest of the tailed beasts (although his container used him more effectively than I'd expected). Come to think of it, his capture was immensely difficult; we succeeded in extracting the one-tails, but at the cost of a valuable member. And to top it off, the Kazekage was somehow brought back to life. That could cause problems; Gaara was (and still is, I understand) a brilliant fighter.
I'm beginning to feel tired of it all, though. 'It all' referring, of course, to the life of a shinobi. I shouldn't really be surprised; when I was in the Konoha ANBU, we were warned about burnouts. I confess that I didn't really take it seriously, as at the time everything was very new and exciting to me. It was...fun. Different.
But, like any profession, I'm beginning to grow weary of the relative monotony. Granted, no two encounters are ever alike, but even this high-risk live-by-the-seat-of-my-pants lifestyle boils down to a very basic formula: Kill or be killed.
The Hidden Villages try to disguise this, of course. And why shouldn't they? Shinobi must be trained from childhood, and no child wants (nor is really able) to make such a grim, black-and-white decision. I am considered a once-in-a-lifetime prodigy, a genius among genii, and I would not have been able to stomach that option.
And so, the Villages lie. They, like the shinobi they raise and employ, hide the truth beneath a glamour. When they recruit, tales of daring exploits are what they divulge. Feats of strength, marvels of the other lands. 'Glory', in particular, is a rather popular term that is thrown about. Glory for self. Glory for family. Glory for the Village. They fill the heads of the young with thrilling epics, of battles won and victories tallied, and even as the children cheer, they crush down the impulse to blurt out the truth.
The truth, of course, being the other side of the coin. Of the ruthless assassinations of entire clans. Of the brutal deaths of comrades. Of the child who accidentally saw them kill, and who was then eternally silenced for the sake of secrecy.
When put like that, I suppose anyone would be depressed.
Well, save for the Uzumaki brat. I have to say, I've never met a cheerier person than Uzumaki Naruto. Heavens help me, but I actually sort of like the little punk. It takes a lot of guts to face the hazards he does with a smile. And it's infectious; it's infuriatingly difficult to fight down a grin of my own even when I'm trying my damndest to capture the boy.
Which, I have to admit, is rather bizarre, seeing as Akatsuki aims to kill him.
Besides, I do have something of a reputation to maintain, and being a cold-blooded pretty-boy is one key facet of said reputation. After all, it simply wouldn't do to start chuckling in the middle of a life-or-death battle.
...or would it? Hmm. Psychological warfare is an integral part of shinobi battles, and I'm certainly considered stolid enough that to break out in spontaneous and unwarranted laughter would be...unsettling.
I casually put the idea before Kisame. His response, like Kisame himself, is blunt and decidedly unsubtle.
"You are one fuckin' weird kid, Itachi."
That, in a nutshell, is Hoshigaki Kisame. Subtlety, diplomacy, tact...all are completely beyond the scope of his ability. Of course, it's something of an exercise in futility to strive for subtlety when one is over six feet, blue, and carrying a giant sword. He is, however, what one could consider a 'friend', if I felt comfortable enough to use the term. I'm admittedly far too paranoid for that, though. He finishes wrapping his chest and begins to prepare supper, a fact that I take instant and pleasant note of.
Kisame is not perfect; far from it, in fact. He has his foibles and his faults. But let me make one thing eminently clear: Whatever else his failings, Kisame is a phenomenal chef. Where and how he came by his ability, I don't know, but it makes little difference. All I really care about is that he has it.
It is over one of his excellent meals (gyouza, today) that I begin to wonder about the path I've taken in life.
I have precious few, if any, real regrets. I do not regard the murder of my clan as something altogether upsetting, although I do miss my mother. I do not regret the murder of Shishui, my best friend. He was the sole reason I was able to attain the Mangekyou, after all. Nor do I regret my collusion with the man known to Akatsuki as 'Tobi', although I know that his real identity...well, that will come later.
No, mine is not a life full of regrets. A shinobi can have no regrets. But curiosity, oh yes...
...eh? Wait a minute.
I frown. I have always done what I felt like doing. I felt like killing the Uchiha. I felt like joining Akatsuki. I felt like cutting off Orochimaru's hand. By all accounts, I should be satisfied with my life. Satisfaction implies that I feel that I'm doing the right thing. Satisfaction implies that I should not be 'curious' about other options. For does not the longing for another way imply...dissatisfaction?
The mere fact that I am curious about an alternative route is...disturbing to me.
Life, in my view, is a series of steps, some influenced by logic, others by emotion. I have largely eschewed the latter, as it has little place in the role of battle. Playing slave to your emotions will get you killed, and I'm not terribly fond of death. But I am not an emotionless man. Cold? Yes, I will admit as much, although the term 'apathetic' is probably more accurate. My tight hold on my emotions has kept me alive; it has made me strong.
But for what purpose, my mind snaps belligerently. And I realize that I have no answer.
What could I say? To become strong for the sake of being strong? Pointless. I have no desire to lord my accomplishments over those who are less able than I. I have never cared for boasters, and I'll be damned if I become one myself. To protect someone? I have no-one whom I care for that deeply. I am somewhat fond of Kisame, true, but he can take care of himself quite ably. To gain revenge? No-one who has wronged me is still alive, and these were precious few, in any case.
Has it all been useless?
I chew a dumpling thoughtfully for several minutes without swallowing, contemplating my next course of action. Kisame is aware of this. The man is extraordinarily observant for one so headstrong.
"Somethin' on your mind?" He thoughtfully feeds some small branches onto the fire. This is for my benefit; my body is not capable of handling the same kind of conditions as his, and it has been growing rapidly cooler as winter approaches. Being a former Mist-Nin means growing up in perpetually chilly weather, so he has something of an advantage over me in this area.
"You could say that," I mutter around a mouthful of pork. I swallow and put my plate aside. This is a difficult thing to do, and Kisame arches one eyebrow in surprise. "Kisame," I begin, "I want you to do me a favor for a few minutes." At his wordless assent, I continue. "I want you to completely forget about Akatsuki, Pein-sama, and the Bijuu Plan. Briefly," I clarify hastily, as it's rather obvious that I've startled him badly.
He blows out a mouthful of air. "Shit, this is a big one, isn't it?" He asks, rubbing the back of his head uneasily.
"Un." There is silence for a few minutes, then he relaxes. "Okay," he says. "Shoot."
I take some time to collect my thoughts; a pointless exercise, as I've done so several times in the last half-hour. "What if," I say slowly, "Just what if, I was to, say, have doubts about this plan of Pein-sama's? What if I said that I'm having trouble caring about his goal?" My partner does not react; this is good, as I'm not finished. "What if I wanted to leave Akatsuki behind?" There; a small twitch. Now for the big one, and I lean in closer to convey the significance of my last statement. "What if I wanted to quit being a ninja?"
"Shee-yit," Kisame hisses in surprise. He glances at me in morbid amusement. "You certainly don't ask simple questions, do you?" He rubs his chin for several minutes, uttering various curse words under his breath as he ponders my questions. He gets to his feet and starts pacing. I've unsettled him; a rare accomplishment, but right now I don't feel like patting myself on the back. Approximately five minutes go by before he speaks.
"Well, first off," he begins slowly, "I have to say that you're not the only one with doubts about the Plan, although I'd have to know the exact reasoning behind your disagreement before I could say anything further." I nodded; this was not unexpected. "And I suppose that also covers your apathy towards the goal itself. As for leaving the organization..." he blows out a long breath. "I've thought about it; who hasn't, really? Well," he amended, "maybe not Konan."
We both chuckle. Konan will follow Pein wherever he goes, without question and without reservation. She is, after all, his lover.
Kisame quickly sobers. "The problem with leaving," he warns, "is that once you're in, you already know too much. Akatsuki is not likely to let something like that happen peacefully. And there's no way in hell you can win against Pein-sama. You're signing your own death warrant."
"This is a hypothetical question," I remind him. I'm not fooling him, and we both know it.
Technically, though, I am not lying. I haven't truly made up my mind whether or not to leave Akatsuki. I may have reservations about certain aspects of the organization, but it is what passes for 'home'.
Home. It is only now, sitting here in the middle of nowhere with the one person I truly trust, that I realize what a powerful concept that is. In Konohagakure, I never felt at home. The Uchiha compound was a prison, and I a prisoner under the thumb of my domineering father. I can honestly say that I never felt any sort of familial bond with Uchiha Fugaku. There was respect, but only the kind of respect you give to a worthy adversary.
"Right, hypothetical," he says dryly. "Since you're 'hypothetically' considering leaving the organization, it makes me 'hypothetically' question why you joined in the first place."
"I was a missing-nin," I say, not wanting to bring up the involvement of 'Tobi' in my clan's massacre. "I was strong. Where else could I go?"
"Bullshit," my partner says bluntly. "Try again. Why did you join?"
I open my mouth; to say what, I cannot recall. But nothing comes out. After several minutes, the only thing I can do is shrug.
"I don't know," I admit. "It just seemed like the thing to do at the time."
"Uh-huh. And what; now you're bored with it?" 'Bored'. My eyes widened as I mentally digested the word. It was shockingly accurate.
"Yes. I mean...I'm bored. Bored. Huh." I roll the word around in my mouth. "I'm bored." I look at the former Mist-Nin in surprise. "I'm bored of fighting. I'm bored of orders. I'm bored of being a ninja." I shrug again. "I...just don't care any more."
Kisame sighs and sits down again. "Kid, I'm gonna tell you somethin', and I'm pretty sure you're not gonna like it."
I nod my head, indicating that he should go on. He leans closer, and unconsciously, I do the same.
"GROW UP!" He bellows suddenly. With an undignified squawk, I tumble backwards, my head ringing. Kisame looms over me, his face set in an impressive scowl as he bares the pointed teeth that resemble his namesake. "Play time's over, brat," he snaps. "You think being a ninja is about 'fun'? Fuck that - it's a miserable, dirty, rotten job, and we're the dumb fucks that signed up to do it in the first place! It's not about what you want to do, it's about what you're told to do. You may be strong, but you're an idiot if you don't realize that!"
"I know that already," I reply irritably, flipping to my feet. I dust myself off. "But the benefits of such an occupation are no longer sufficient. If there's no interest, then there's no point in continuing, is there?"
Kisame matches my glare for several tense minutes, and then sighs. "No, I suppose not," he agrees. "You'll just get killed if you don't care. But you're seriously gonna give up being a ninja?"
"Probably not entirely," I admit wryly. "But I just want to live my life undisturbed." That is about as close to pure truth as I will ever admit out loud; no matter where I've been, there have been far too many people about. Noise, noise, noise is all I ever find, and I've grown sick of it. Even the few people like Kisame who's company I enjoy aren't enough to make it worthwhile.
"So," he muses, scratching his chin, "clearly being 'S-Class Missing-Nin Uchiha Itachi, murderer of his whole clan' isn't cuttin' it for you. Then what are you looking for" - and here he makes a vague sweeping gesture towards the forest around us - "out there?"
"...I don't know," I say quietly. I look up at the sky; the stars are out. "Peace, maybe? Quiet, definitely. But I'm tired of being 'S-Class Missing-Nin Uchiha Itachi, murderer of his whole clan'," I say, mocking his tone. He grins toothily. "I just want to be left alone."
Kisame's grin widens. I suppose it would be disturbing to anyone else. "Fucking anti-social misanthrope."
"Walking Sushi bar reject," I retort. We grin at each other, our good moods restored.
"You know I can't just let you leave," he points out cheerfully. "Wouldn't reflect well on me." I nod.
"I know. If I were you, I wouldn't let me just walk away, either. But right now, I'm tired and I want to sleep."
"Yeah," Kisame agrees, "me too. Listening to you angst away is exhausting." I scoff and prepare my bed for the night. "Tomorrow at first light?" he asks.
"Hell, no," I snort derisively, folding my cloak. "I want at least one more of your meals before I go!"
He guffaws and tosses a few logs on the fire before settling into his sleeping bag. We are silent for several minutes. As my eyes grow heavy, I hear Kisame speak.
"You know I'm not gonna take it easy on you."
"Wouldn't want it any other way."
A small snort. "I'll bet I get paired with that Tobi guy. Retard reminds me of Uzumaki; half expect to hear him end every sentence with 'dattebayo'." I laugh softly and close my eyes.
As I listen to the soft sounds of night, I mentally compose a letter to Sasuke.
'Sasuke, give up on your ambition to kill me. I won't let it happen, and the gap between us it too great. I no longer care about what's happened between the two of us, and I'm not going to explain why I did what I did. You wouldn't understand it, and you wouldn't like it if you did. Suffice to say that it is, for me, irrelevant. It's likely you will never see me again - I certainly won't seek you out.
'My ambitions have changed dramatically recently, and they no longer include anything that you would understand. You could say that Akatsuki was just a stepping stone in the river of Life. I've moved on; you should too. I'm not asking for you to forget, and I don't mean forgiveness, either. But you need to change.
'I've recently asked myself why I desired power, and I realized that I have no good answer. Your response to the same question is likely filled with invectives and death wishes towards myself. That's okay; I wouldn't expect you to feel any other way considering the circumstances. But now I've removed myself from the game; I won't play anymore. So you need to change your reasoning, if not your goals.
'Sasuke, for once in my life I will act like the older brother you believed that you had. The Uchiha were once a mighty people, but their numbers have dwindled for obvious reasons. I know I cannot stop you from trying to kill me, but as I've no interest in procreation, please consider that the clan is resting on the edge of a knife. Instead of spending all your time hunting me down, rebuild the clan. You're the only one who can. There's no telling when you might fall astray of a stronger ninja, and it would be a shame to see the Uchiha vanish forever, so find an acceptable woman or three and impregnate them.
'Farewell, little brother, and take care. For the first time in my life, I wish you the best.'
Just a drabble that popped into my head and grew. I like to think that this is a unique idea.