A/N: Karin doesn't have a last name, so I had to make one up. Alright.
"Are you crazy?" Naruto exclaimed, probably louder than was wise. "There's no evidence against Itachi. At this point, what difference would it make?"
Sasuke sighed and motioned for Suigetsu to get off the table. He pulled up two chairs from an empty table nearby and they took their seats. He leaned in closer as well, so that the five heads were huddled closely together.
He began what Naruto could tell would be a long tirade, speaking in a carefully hushed tone. "What do you think is the cause of most of the convictions in the courtrooms?" Sasuke asked the group as a whole, although he obviously wasn't looking for an answer. "It's the media. The media forms a case against a suspect, sways public opinion, which in turn sways the opinion of the jury. If the media decided that it hated a certain person, that person would already have a figurative noose around his neck."
Naruto raised his eyebrows, clearly skeptical. Really, the way Sasuke-bastard said it, it made it sound like he had the power to kill someone. Bullshit.
Sasuke read the doubt from his face and continued. "Exhibit A. Leo Frank. Suspected of the rape and murder of a 13 year-old girl in Alabama. It was clear that he didn't do it. The newspaper ran stories framing him for it, and he was later lynched because of them. Exhibit B. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post. They caught Nixon and his staff for Watergate, even if nobody else did. His resignation is entirely due to them."
Naruto felt himself leaning in closer, listening intently. Sasuke-bastard did make a convincing argument…
"I need you to write a story about Itachi." Sasuke said, his voice and eyes darkening as he said the name. "That way, if and when he dies, the public and thus the police won't be searching too stridently for his murderer."
The blond man jerked back so quickly he fell out of his chair. He used the table for leverage as he dragged himself up, sputtering in shock. "Are you serious? You're going to kill your brother and–"
Sasuke clapped a hand over Naruto's mouth, glancing around warily. "Shut up!" He hissed, satisfied that no one had heard the blonde's outburst. "I never said that."
"Let me tell you something about Sasuke," Suigetsu drawled, smirking at the Uchiha. "He loved Itachi as much as anything. No matter how much he hates him now for killing his parents, there's no way he'd actually be able to kill him."
Sasuke put on a disparaging, pained expression. It was clear that Suigetsu's remark about him loving Itachi wasn't even remotely accurate in his mind.
"So if you're not going to kill Itachi," Naruto pursed his lips suspiciously, "Then what's the point of the article? I need a good reason before I put my career on the line like that."
"Please." Karin interjected, rolling her scarlet eyes in disinterest. "Cut the bullshit. This article will be the only story you've ever written worth reading."
Naruto stewed silently to himself, unable to argue. Even he thought that his articles were crap. He wanted to write something substantial!
And with that goal in mind, Naruto looked up to meet the cool black eyes of Uchiha Sasuke, gave a deep nod, and agreed.
The Unraveling of a Psychopath
By UZUMAKI NARUTO
The Konoha Post
Uchiha Itachi has a smooth white face with delicate features, arranged in an imperious expression. His black eyes are blocked from sight by a pair of blood-red contacts. His black hair is gathered in a low ponytail, with long bangs framing his face. His stature is average; his body unremarkable.
Who is Uchiha Itachi, you ask? His name strikes a foreign chord in your mind; you may have read something, somewhere, about him, once upon a time. But you can't remember. Was he an athlete? An actor? Did he die some tragic death? Of those options, the last one is the closest. Who is Uchiha Itachi?
A murderer of the worst kind.
On June 9, 1993, Itachi took his father's antique katana from the mantelpiece and went from house to house, killing every member of his extended family. But that wasn't enough for the deranged 13 year-old. Once his aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents were dead, he decided to hit closer to home. Literally.
He walked back to his own mansion. Did his mother scold him for being late for dinner? Did his father tell him to get started on his homework? The world may never know. By the time his little brother got home from school, Uchiha Mikoto was decapitated, and Uchiha Fugaku had bled to death from multiple stab wounds to the chest.
There was one survivor. One witness. One frightened eight year-old boy, who grew up to be the CEO of the world-renowned company, Sharingan Corporations.
Uchiha Sasuke is now 23 years old, and lives alone in the vast Uchiha mansion. It is by his word alone that this article is based; the story has only passed through his lips.
Did Itachi really murder his family? "I believe Sasuke," Sasuke's childhood friend Hozuki Suigetsu said. "Itachi was always a stoic child. He never had any sort of expression on his face. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that he was a psychopath."
Another childhood friend of Sasuke's, Narita Karin, agreed. "He was socially awkward, if not inept. He didn't have friends. He was always the top of his class at school."
Yuuhi Kurenai, acclaimed psychologist at the Konoha state penitentiary, chalked these up as common characteristics of a psychopath. "If what they say is true, he shows clear psychodynamic implications. Good intelligence, absence of nervousness, insincerity, lack of remorse, antisocial behavior, egocentricity, incapacity for love, and unresponsiveness in interpersonal relations, to name a few. Itachi showed signs of sociopathy at an early age."
However, should we trust the word of a possibly imbalanced eight year-old? Is Sasuke so obsessed with closure that he would have hallucinations and delusions to explain the massacre?
His court-ordered psychoanalysis from July of 1993 provided insight, but no clear answer: 'Persistent nightmares, persistent symptoms of increased arousal (difficulty falling asleep, anger), duration of symptoms, significant impairment in social functioning, avoidance of stimuli: suggest post-traumatic stress disorder. Possible hallucinations. Very clear/unchanging description of events, unusual with PTSD.'
If not Itachi, who else would have killed the Uchiha family? Someone looking to take over the Uchiha fortune would likely have killed the heir to the corporation, but why leave Sasuke alive? If Itachi didn't kill his parents, then where is he now? If Itachi did kill his family, why did he do it? Unfortunately, no one knows enough information to answer these questions.
Is Itachi a murderer? It's impossible to give a definite answer. However, a word of warning. If you see a man with the aforementioned features walking towards you on a dark and stormy night… don't stick around long enough to ask.
Nara Shikamaru entered the Post building two hours late for work, as per usual. Looking around, he saw everyone reading the same article – the article that he himself had been reading on the way to work. Naruto's got everyone's attention with this one, he thought wryly to himself. Instead of going to the politics cubicles, he ambled into the environment/society section of the building.
He made sure to keep his footsteps silent as he passed a certain door, but it proved to be futile as the door was flung open and he was dragged inside by his collar. He sighed, not even bothering to struggle.
"Nara." Tsunade greeted him. The editor-in-chief of the Konoha Post waved the previously mentioned article in his face. "Is Naruto suicidal? Why did he write this article?"
"Who knows how that moron's brain works?" Shikamaru drawled, his hands in his pockets. He scowled instinctively as he gazed at the article. It wasn't even on the front page of the paper (although it was on the front page of the environment section). Why was it so interesting? He only read it because he wanted to know how Naruto got on the front page of anything.
"There's not an ounce of proof that Itachi had anything to do with the Uchiha massacre." Tsunade sighed deeply, her ample cleavage heaving along with her breathing. Shikamaru watched it with the barest interest. "Why would Naruto state it as fact?"
Shikamaru shrugged languidly. "He doesn't claim that it's the truth. I mean, he does point out that it's all Sasuke's word."
She glared mildly at him, but didn't dispute the point. "What's the public's response to it?" She asked after a while, padding back to her side of the desk.
"I saw loads of people reading it on the way over, but…" Shikamaru trailed off, his eyebrows arching. "I don't know whether it's had a good or bad reaction. I was just going over to Naruto's desk to ask."
The blonde nodded absent-mindedly, turning to her computer. "Report back to me once you learn anything."
He nodded and waved a hand lazily in farewell, sauntering out of the office and over to Naruto's cubicle. He arrived and leaned against the doorway, crossing his arms over his chest. He couldn't help but be amused at the way Naruto was tilted back in his chair, his legs propped up on the desk, as he read through his emails. Even his body language said it – Naruto was smug about the article.
"So how much shit are you in?" Shikamaru asked, not bothering with a greeting.
Naruto spun his chair around, a supercilious grin on his lips. "None whatsoever."
"None?" Shikamaru raised one eyebrow, skeptical. Sure, he didn't expect the blond man to lose his job over this, but he wasn't getting any bad feedback? Surely the public wasn't that gullible. For the past 15 years, the media had been saying that Itachi had probably been kidnapped or killed by the murderer. He was a golden boy. People had sent letters of consolation in, siding with him, saying that it was so sad that that 'poor Uchiha boy' had disappeared. And now Naruto was blowing it all out of the water with a story about him as the murderer, and nobody was mad at him? Well, that was weird.
"People are eating it up," Naruto crowed, gesturing to his email inbox, which was full to bursting with incoming messages. "They love it. They want more. Sakura's making me write a follow-up article about Sasuke himself, and his mental state these days."
"Speaking of which," Shikamaru lowered himself onto the desk, sliding so his back hit the cubicle wall. He stretched out his legs and rested them on the armrest of Naruto's swivel chair. "How is that Uchiha bastard?"
"Bastardish as always," Naruto rolled his eyes, exasperated. "He's – hey wait, do you know Sasuke?"
Shikamaru shook his head; rather, his head lolled back and forth languorously. "Not personally. All I know is, whenever anyone tries to interview him, they get a face-full of door and a broken heart."
"Why a broken heart?" Naruto asked, leaning forward interestedly.
The black-haired man looked disbelievingly at Naruto from half-lidded eyes. "You've seen how the boy looks. Once glare and all the girls are in love with him. And then there's the inevitable rejection."
"Yeah," Naruto scowled, looking like he was about to say more, but thought better of it. Shikamaru watched curiously as Naruto's eyes glazed over, clearly in deep thought about something. The blonde bit down on his lower lip, his fingers clenching into the armrest, and his face looked so forlorn that Shikamaru almost burst out laughing. Obviously, females weren't the only demographic on which Sasuke had an effect.
Sakura appeared in the entrance to the cubicle, her face a strange combination of pride and irritation. "Naruto, what the hell is up with this article?" She shouted, thrusting it in his face.
He pushed her hand aside, blinking as he was brought out of his daydream with a jolt. "Uhh, what do you mean?"
"For one thing, when I sent you out there to interview Sasuke, I didn't think you'd come back with an article about Itachi being a psycho!" The pink-haired woman braced her hands on her hips, struggling to stay angry. "I mean, I'm glad I made the decision to put it onto the front page, but what the hell?"
"But Sakura-chan!" Naruto protested, his hands held up in a defensive manner. "I'm getting great feedback for it!"
Sakura whacked him upside the head with a rolled-up newspaper. "Did I say you could talk?" Her green eyes spoke of the same intensity as her flushed cheeks, and Shikamaru was abruptly grateful that he only had Ino's craziness to deal with.
Naruto shouted wordlessly, his arms wind-milling to protect his face. "Stoppit!"
"Fine." She ceased her hand, crossing her arms over her chest. "Dumbass. And another thing! What the hell is wrong with you? Did the article really have to be that dramatic?!"
The reporter pouted childishly, his tone mulish. "I like it that way. Shikamaru, did you think it was too dramatic?"
Shikamaru shrugged, unwilling to pick sides on this argument. Too much effort. Fortunately for him, it turned out that he didn't have to.
An amused yet icy voice spoke from the doorway of the cubicle (it was getting kind of crowded in there). "I must agree with her, Uzumaki. Could you have been more corny?"
"Shuddup, bastard!" Naruto retorted as Shikamaru and Sakura stared at the newcomer. Emotionless black eyes gazed back, from a frame of delicate features and black bangs. This was, without a doubt, Uchiha Sasuke.
Shikamaru was entertained by the way Sakura's cheeks flushed at the sight of the CEO; the Uchiha's charm was not lost on her. She was clearly trying not to get too invested, however, given that she had a boyfriend, and a genuinely nice one at that. (No matter how great the illustrious Uchiha Sasuke was, no one would ever say that he was nicer than Rock Lee. Ever).
Sasuke raised an eyebrow, his expression unimpressed. "I'm quite displeased with you, by the way. You called me an imbalanced eight year-old."
"Well, you might as well be." Naruto shot back. "You certainly act juvenile enough."
"This from the man who asked for chocolate milk at the bar," Sasuke replied coolly.
Naruto squawked in indignity. "I forgot my ID at home, and he wouldn't believe me when I told him I was over 21. It's not my fault I look young. You, on the other hand, could pass for a 30-year old."
Shikamaru and Sakura traded amused looks. It was interesting to see how comfortable Naruto and Sasuke were with each other; they traded banter like they had been unwilling acquaintances all their lives. And when had they gone out to a bar together…?
"Better 30 than 13," Sasuke said glibly.
"Agh, just shut up!" Naruto stood up angrily, his cheeks flushed. "Why are you here, anyway?"
Sasuke looked down, unable to meet Naruto's eyes. "I wished to tell you that, even though you were sadly misinformed about many things, the article was… adequate." He had to force the word out, as if it were the highest praise. And coming from Sasuke, it was.
Naruto perked up immediately, forgetting his anger. "Yeah, it was. You better be happy, because now everyone's gonna think Itachi was the killer."
"I owe you an article." The Uchiha reminded him. "You said something over the phone about a features story about me…?"
"Yeah, right!" Naruto picked up his jacket and reporter's notebook, gesturing to the door of the room. "Let's go somewhere quieter, and we can talk."
He led the black-haired CEO out of the room, without as much as a backwards glance at Shikamaru and Sakura.
"Well…" Sakura eventually said, her eyebrows raised. "This is going to be interestingly."
Shikamaru only nodded in agreement.
So… could've been better, could've been worse. Constructive criticism is always appreciated.