Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. If I did, I probably wouldn't be doing this.
AN: Okay, this edit occurred on 8/17/2010.
NOTE TO READERS: For those who may be new to this story, I began published the story way back in 2008, and was working on it for a decent while earlier than that. This was before the third databook was released, before the second fanbook was released, and before the final battle between Sasuke and Itachi even took place.
The point of this? Multiple people have attempted to "correct" me on information revealed as late as the last few months. It is currently the year 2010, and quickly approaching 2011. If the information was released after the story was posted, I feel no obligation to include that information. Attempting to correct me on things that were not already revealed by the time it was being written and posted really serves little purpose. I may alter pieces of the story here and there to accommodate revelations in the canon that I like, but I have no intention of changing every last little thing to fit with the manga. If that were my intention then I would just write the manga in fanfic form and call it a novelization.
Thank you for listening, and I hope you enjoy the story.
The Kyuubi no Yoko, the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox, had already started attacking the village of Konohagakure, and the shinobi of Konoha were responding in kind. As expected, those who weren't of the ninja ranks fled to any of the shelters that were prepared in case of an assault on the village, not that they would be of much use when faced against the wrath of a being capable of flattening mountains and raising tsunamis with a single swipe of is tails.
One particular boy, however, wasn't hiding away in the strongest shelter available. Itachi Uchiha, a mere child of five years and student at the ninja academy, was doing the exact opposite of the rest of the children his age. For you see, this boy had a hero. A hero of nearly unmatched skill, who he believed deserved the respect of even those in the legendary Uchiha Clan. A hero most recognized by the title of Hokage. The Fourth Hokage, to be precise. So as Itachi's classmates and a number of his seniors fled to their hiding
places in terror, he sneaked away to find the Fourth, and beg for permission to join the battle, if that's what it came to. Unfortunately, the Hokage seemed to be missing.
He'd looked everywhere that he would expect a Hokage to run a battle from besides the battlefield itself, which he knew the Hokage hadn't entered yet due to overhearing several shinobi who were making their way to join Konoha's defense. So when the Hokage hadn't turned up at any of the places he could coordinate the battle from, Itachi had turned to the only remaining thing he could think of; the hospital. After all, if a hero like the Fourth Hokage wasn't defending Konoha against a threat like the Kyuubi, surely he must have been injured or ill.
The run had only taken a few minutes. The raven-haired boy was racing through the hospital uninterrupted, the hospital staff being completely bogged down with the effects of the demon fox's attack. As he began to speed up his search, he suddenly came screeching to a halt at the unexpected sight of the Fourth standing in the nursery, holding a small boy with a patch of blond hair. There was no mistaking that it was the Fourth, the wild and untamed golden-yellow hair identifying him almost as clearly as the ornamental red and white robes he was wearing. Itachi recognized the elderly man standing on the Fourth's right as the retired Third Hokage, though he didn't recognize the oddly dressed man with white hair standing to the Fourth's left. All of them were looking at the small boy in their leader's arms. Before Itachi could burst in and ask what he meant to, the strange man to the Fourth's left began to speak.
"Minato, are you sure you want to do this? I mean, you know what will happen when you…" he trailed off, as if not wanting to continue the thought.
They were silent for a moment, before the Third spoke up.
"What do you want for the child? We can't be sure what would happen if the villagers were to learn of the connection that will form between the Kyuubi and himself if you-"
"…When you succeed."
The Fourth looked down at the small boy again, a sad smile gracing his lips.
"I want them to know. He's going to be carrying a great burden for their sakes, for the sake of the entire village. He's going to be a hero before he can even walk. They should treat him like one." The strange man with white hair cut in again,
"And if they can't see past the fox? If they can only see the demon?" Grinning, the Minato smiled at him, taking on a younger, less mature look.
"You really should have more faith in people, Ero-sennin."
Minato turned a wistful gaze towards the boy again, and watched him for a few moments in silence before continuing.
"Jiraiya, Sarutobi. We all know that I'm going to die tonight, so I want you to promise me something. He's my son. I want him to be properly taken care of, no matter what happens."
As the Third and the strange man, Jiraiya, the Fourth called him, mumbled the promise with sorrowful tone, Itachi's mind was racing with all he'd just learned. The Fourth is going to die? And he had a son! Why hadn't anyone been told about this? Suddenly, the Fourth began walking forward, and Itachi ducked into a nearby room, not wanting to be caught eavesdropping. As the Fourth and his companions passed by, Itachi couldn't help but think about the boy. The one sharing the blood of the Fourth. The one that was supposed to be some kind of hero, for some involvement he was going to have with the fox. Itachi stayed in that spot for some time, his young mind doing its best to process everything he'd just heard. Within the hour, along with the rest of the village, he heard a great roar, and looked out a nearby window towards the direction of the Nine-Tails.
However, unlike the rest of the citizens of Konoha, he couldn't bring himself to cheer as he saw the great beast disappear. For unlike the others, though too young to fully understand, he was aware of the fact that one of their greatest heroes had died, leaving behind a son that would have to bear a burden like few others could even imagine. That's why Itachi, like Jiraiya and the Third, made a promise both to himself and the Fourth. As he began his slow walk home, amid the cheerful cries of those who had come out of hiding to celebrate the great "victory" they'd witnessed, he muttered a quiet mantra to himself, as if to reinforce it in his mind.
"I'll watch out for him. It's a promise."
AN: So, thoughts, questions, criticisms, flames?