Part I: The Naming of Naruto Uzumaki

"Kushina-chan, the doctors say that the baby's gonna be a boy." Minato leaned down to kiss his wife. "Now what are we going to name him when he's born? You say the first name and then we'll take turns naming him. I'm sure he'll be fine with two middle names."

"Alright, um, Naruto," Kushina said, smiling. She was in the hospital, about to give birth to her son in a few days. She was feeling weak, but that was probably normal at this stage. Her belly was fully round.

"Hmm, miso," Minato replied with a serious expression.

Kushina glared at him. "No, we are NOT going to name him after ramen. Can't you choose a different name?" However, when she saw Minato's serious and slightly hurt expression, she sighed. "Fine, we'll name him after ramen." A smile played on her lips when she saw Minato brightened up. She always loved it when he smiles, especially when she was the one making him do it. "Okay, uh…this is hard. Oh, I know. Kage."

Minato raised an eyebrow. "Seriously?"

"Yep. One day, he'll be stronger than his daddy," Kushina said resolutely. "He'll become the fifth or sixth Hokage."

Minato laughed quietly. "No, it's not that. If you put his name together, it'll be Naruto Miso Kage. Get it? Misokage, the Kage of the imaginary village with the best miso ramen!"

Kushina shrugged. "Oh, well. I like it."

Minato thought for a few minutes before saying, "His last name will be Uzumaki – after his mother."

Kushina stared at him. "Minato-kun, that's just strange. It should be Namikaze, not Uzumaki."

Minato thought for a second before announcing proudly, "His name will be Naruto Miso Kage Uzumaki Namikaze, the longest name in the village! In short, it will be Naruto Uzumaki!" He nodded an affirmative of his own decision, showing that he approved of that name. "What do you think?"

"I think, Minato, that you have finally lost 'it'," said a voice at the door.

Minato turned around and greeted, "Hello, Fugaku. What did I lose?"

"Your sanity," Fugaku replied simply, even though it was meant to be a joke. "So, his name is Naruto Miso Kage Uzumaki Namikaze? Interesting in the fact that it has 'Misokage' in it. Who came up with that?"

"Both of us, but Kushina-chan was the one who added 'Kage' to it. It was supposed to be Miso…Kage," Minato said, jokingly. "Anyways, how's Mikoto?"

"She's fine. Our son will be borne in a few days."

"Hey, maybe Naruto and he will be borne on the same day! What did you name him?" Minato asked.

"Sasuke. Sasuke Uchiha," Fugaku replied, amused. "No middle name will be necessary."

Minato shrugged. "You should give him a middle name. Add more uniqueness to it."

Fugaku shook his head. He wasn't a person to get complicated with names, unlike Minato, who loves to be creative in everything he does. "There's no need for middle names, my friend. Complicated names will only confuse you."

Minato shook his head. "Nuh-uh."

"Uh-huh."

"Nuh-uh…"

It went on for a while until Kushina couldn't take it anymore and yelled, "Minato Namikaze, Fugaku Uchiha, if you two don't shut your blabbering mouths and let me rest in peace and quiet, after I escape this hospital bed, you two are SO DEAD!!"

Minato chuckled nervously. "Yes, yes, dear, of course…" He turned to Fugaku and whispered, "Uh, let's visit Mikoto-chan before Kushina-chan decides to actually fulfill her threat."

Fugaku nodded quickly in agreement, and the two ran out of there pronto.

Kushina sighed in contentment. Finally she could get some peace and quiet...BANG! She sweat dropped as she heard Minato apologizing to a nurse because of accidentally overturning a cart or something. "Sometimes, I wonder how that man had ever become the Yondaime."

……

Itachi was only four years old. However, unlike most toddlers, he was intelligent and quiet. He loves to read and gain knowledge. While other toddlers would yell and make a lot of noise, he would stay quiet and keep his opinions and knowledge to himself until he needs to express them. He was also compassionate, patient, and humble. He was confident in his abilities but at the same time knowledgeable of where and when his limits are reached, avoiding fights he knew he couldn't win.

Itachi was also aware that overconfidence and arrogance are the deadliest weapons against a ninja. He kept telling himself that he could do better in ANY thing. While his mentors praise him, he criticizes himself, striving to do even better.

Today, he decided to skip his daily trip to the library and training session to be with his unborn brother. "Mom, can I feel him? Please?"

Mikoto chuckled softly before taking her son's hand and placing it on her stomach gently.

Itachi gasped in fascination. "He's kicking! Are you hurt, Okaasan?"

Mikoto smiled. "It doesn't hurt as much as you think. Itachi, you'll soon be an elder brother."

Itachi grinned. "My very own brother…" he whispered. Right then, he could already felt love for his brother spreading through every cell in his body. He was going to be a big brother, protecting and teaching and training his little brother!

The door opened and Minato and Fugaku came in. Minato came to Mikoto's side and said, "How's Sasuke?"

"Just fine, Minato, just fine," Mikoto replied. "How are Kushina and her baby? What are you going to name him anyways?"

Minato smiled proudly. "We're gonna name him Naruto Miso Kage Uzumaki Namikaze!"

Mikoto giggled. "Creative as always I see." She looked next to Minato and whispered to Fugaku, "What's a Misokage?"

Fugaku shrugged. "The Kage of the land with the best miso flavored ramen."

Minato turned to Itachi, who was staring at him. "So you're going to be an older brother, aren't you?"

"Hai, Hokage-sama," Itachi replied politely.

"Hey, hey, hey, it's just Minato-san to you, Itachi. You know I hate formalities like those! Besides, we both know each other pretty well, don't you think?" Minato asked, ruffling Itachi's hair.

Itachi smiled at the touch. He had always thought of Minato as a second father. "Hai, I do, Minato-san."

……

Kyuubi leaned against a tree. She was having her morning nap, nothing too special. She had given up searching for the person who awakened her long time ago. It would end up in a lot of deaths and she didn't want that.

Suddenly a kunai zipped through the air, piercing her cheek, which instantly healed. "Who's there?" she growled, standing up.

There was no answer. Suddenly a cage of chakra surrounded her. Kyuubi, however, was unfazed. "Who's there?" she repeated.

There was a chuckle and a snake-like man appeared from out of the trees. "Ah, the Kyuubi. So, you have stopped searching for me?"

Kyuubi blinked. Searching for him? What the heck is he talking about? Wait…

"Ever wondered who awakened you in your slumber, Kyuubi-chan, a few years ago?" Orochimaru asked, looking smug and confident that Kyuubi couldn't break out of the cage.

Kyuubi's expression remained emotionless. "Release me."

"Why should I?"

"Because I could escape. If you release me, I won't kill you."

Orochimaru laughed. "This cage allows me to harness and take your energy whether you want me to or not. Attack all you want. You'll only help me. Let me demonstrate." He put out his hands in front of him.

Kyuubi felt her chakra draining away from her. She growled. No! He dares! He dares to!Rage blinded her. Her clothes disappeared and nine tails slowly developed. She transformed slowly into a demon fox.

Orochimaru laughed. "Keep going! Give me power!"

Kyuubi snarled. He will never laugh again!She released her energy. The cage expanded, starting to break from all the energy, not being able to absorb so much.

Orochimaru widened his eyes. "How…?"

Kyuubi's eyes were filled with rage and hatred. "I…I will KILL you!" The cage broke. The fox pounced at Orochimaru.

Orochimaru gritted his teeth and summoned a snake. He jumped on it and flees with Kyuubi close on his heel. He came up with an idea. She will be of use in her anger.He turned from his course towards Konoha. She can destroy Konoha, my native village. She can battle them all, being held back until I escape. If I get what I want, Konoha and the Nine-Tails will both die.

Part II: Sacrifices and Memories

"Hokage-sama, the Nine-Tail Fox is attacking our village!"

Minato widened his eyes in shock. How could her not? He had been friends with Kyuubi for years. Why are you doing this, Kyuubi-chan? What have we done to anger you? Why? He stood up, gripping his desk tightly. He couldn't understand any of Kyuubi's actions. They don't make sense.

"Minato, you're going to have to make your choice. Your friend or your village," the Sandaime said quietly. "I'm sure Kyuubi has her reasons for doing this, but we don't know what the reasons are, so there's no justifying her actions. She can't destroy our village like this."

Minato closed his eyes, as if in pain. "I know, Sensei. I know." Then his heart ached at what he decided he was going to do. He will lose two things most dear to him, more than his life. His friend and his son. Sure Naruto will survive, but what is of his future life?

Suddenly the door slammed open, and Fugaku was standing in the doorway, panting from running. He composed himself and walked over to Minato. "My friend, I know how hard this must be for you. I've put a lot of thought into this you know. Instead of Naruto, take Sasuke instead. You don't have to sacrifice everything for the village. We can each give a bit of our share."

Minato shook his head slowly. His eyes were sad and wet. Then he hugged Fugaku tightly. "No, I could never accept such an offer from you, Fugaku. How could I? If I did, what kind of a leader am I? A leader is someone who sacrifices for his people, not asking others to make the sacrifices for them."

Fugaku closed his eyes. "How could you do this, Minato, sacrificing both your life, your friend, and your son for the village?" He paused. "You are a true leader then. You value those who trusts you above all else, even more then yourself."

Minato took a breath and then handed Fugaku three scrolls. "These are our inheritance to Naruto. Give these to him when he's ready to use them. Take care of my son, Fugaku. I trust you. Remember, Kyuubi or Naruto, they're both good inside. Be a father to him." Minato kissed Fugaku on both cheeks and, patting his shoulder, left the room.

Fugaku, for the first time in his life, finally broke down. Minato and he were on the same team when they were genins, and they've been like brothers. However, not even the strongest of ninjas can fight sadness and win.

Minato ran towards the hospital and up to Kushina's room. Kushina was lying there, eyes closed. She was breathing heavily, in pain. He touched her cheek and took the basket with Naruto in it.

Kushina said weakly, "Minato…"

Minato turned towards her. "Yes, Kushina-chan?"

Kushina stared at him with bright eyes. "I just hope you know what you're doing, Minato-kun."

"I hope so, too." Minato reached forward and shared one last kiss with his wife before leaving the hospital. He summoned Gamabunta outside the hospital. "Gamabunta-sama, I need you to get me as close to Kyuubi as possible while I prepare."

"I'll try, Minato," Gamabunta waited patiently as Minato jumped on with all his materials. "Ready?" Gamabunta looked up across the horizon where Kyuubi was being held off barely by thousands of ninjas. He was sure that if he gets too close, he'll be killed. He wasn't even sure if he could get close enough for Minato to do the jutsu.

"Hai. Let's go." Minato was pale as they sped towards Kyuubi. He hoped Kyuubi would recognize him and stop her senseless rampage, but as they locked eyes, Minato knew Kyuubi was in a complete rage, not feeling anything but rage. Kyuubi couldn't stop herself even if she wanted to.

"Look, it's the Yondaime! He's battling the Nine-tailed Fox!" someone among the ninjas cried. They all stopped what they were doing to watch the match.

Kyuubi saw them and roared, lunging at them.

Minato whispered an apology to her and made his hand seal. A bright light surrounded the area. He did what was needed and felt his life slipping away as the Death god took his claim.

At the same time Minato died, Kushina in the hospital breathe her last breath and died, joining her husband in an everlasting sleep.

Fugaku heard a lot of cheers and stood up numbly; knowing Minato had fulfilled his duty and saved the village. He walked out into the field where Gamabunta stood in front of a motionless body of Minato and a basket with a crying Naruto inside. Fugaku picked up the basket and closed Minato's eyes, which were opened and staring. He walked back to the hospital, soothing the baby, and opened the door to Mikoto's room.

Itachi looked up, knowing what had happened in the last few hours. He was crying over the death of his second father or 'Uncle Minato' as he sometimes called him in their most intimate times together, but now his eyes brightened with interest as Fugaku laid Naruto in Mikoto's other arm, opposite of Sasuke. "Otousan, who's that?"

"He's your foster brother, Itachi." Fugaku watched as Itachi poked Naruto curiously.

Itachi brightened at a newfound love he felt towards Naruto's. He was part of their family now.

Mikoto shifted uneasily. "Fugaku, isn't that the…?"

"Mikoto-chan, a container isn't the animal it contains. Naruto is Naruto. And even if he isn't, you can be rest assured that Kyuubi is a good person."

Mikoto let out a sigh of relief and relaxed.

Deep inside Naruto's seal, Kyuubi finally calmed down, though she was extremely disoriented. The last thing she remembered was Orochimaru zapping away at her energy. "Where am I?" she muttered to herself. "Minato's son…Naruto…died for the village…" Kyuubi raised her head and saw a baby sleeping on the stone floor in front of her cage. Kyuubi gasped. She was caged. Does that mean she lost control of herself yet again? Memories flashed in her mind's eye.

Flashback…

The Nidaime sighed. "Kyuubi-chan, your powers are too immense. What happens if you lose control over them? I won't force you to be sealed into the shrine, but please consider it."

Kyuubi frowned. "But I won't lose control over it. If you can keep your people from bothering me and enraging me, then I won't even lay a hand on them!"

The Nidaime nodded. "But I can't stop all, Kyuubi. At least try to contain yourself when it happens…" Before he could say another word, a cry came from the bushes and a boy threw a stone at Kyuubi, crying out, "Monster!" before the Nidaime could stop him.

Kyuubi's stress and her natural demand for respect was more than a match for her control. Kyuubi lunged at the boy and her claws wrapped around his throat, squeezing it swiftly and killing the boy in less than a second. Blood covered her hand, and soon after, with horror, Kyuubi stared at the boy's broken neck. She turned to the Nidaime, her eyes filled with terror of herself, "Seal me, Nidaime!"

Without further notices, the Nidaime sealed Kyuubi into the Fire Shrine, and Kyuubi slept for years to come.

Many years later…

Kyuubi has awakened. She shook herself and stared, dazed. Then she remembered what had happened years before. She stared wildly around, searching for the one who released her, but finding none. In terror of herself, she lost herself in pursuit of her releaser, killing villages and ripping apart towns in search of him. She was going to force him to seal her back into the shrine.

One day, she looked around at the hundreds of corpses surrounding her. She sighed and laid down, her head up and about and her tails wrapped around her. She'll never find him, and until then, she'll be a danger to all she meets.

Suddenly, a young man with blond hair came from the thicket of trees towards her.

Kyuubi growled, in no mood to be bothered at the moment. "Stay away, Human, if you wish to keep your life as it is now."

The youngster ignored her threat and sat down on one of Kyuubi's outstretched claws. "Why did you kill all these people?"

Kyuubi normally would've killed someone who had been so daring, but something about this man intrigues her. "I killed them because they stand in my search to find my releaser, the one who released me from the Fire Shrine."

"Why do you want to search for him?"

Kyuubi found herself telling him what happened since the incident with the Nidaime. "…and so, if he can release me, he can also seal me, or else, I'll always be a danger."

"Why do you keep looking for him then? If you do, you'll still be a danger to others. Couldn't you at least try to live outside the shrine and still be a peaceful creature? What's the point of looking for him anyways if you're going to kill so many in the process? That's what you're trying to avoid doing; am I correct?"

Kyuubi stared, amazed at the blond man's courage. "You're extremely sharp, Human. What's your name if I may ask?"

"Minato. Minato Namikaze. What's yours?"

"Kyuubi no Youko, the Nine-Tailed Fox Bijuu." Kyuubi stood up and returned to her human form, beginning to walk to the edge of the forest. "Don't worry…Minato," she said, glancing back at him. "I won't kill anymore, but it wouldn't do if I stayed close to human civilization."

Minato touched her shoulder. "You're a good person…Kyuubi. Maybe we can be friends one day under friendlier circumstances."

"We already are. Anyone who helps another is a friend." With that, Kyuubi disappeared into the forest.

End Flashback…

Kyuubi acknowledged that Naruto was Minato's son. She reached out for Naruto's baby form and whispered, "You will be one day the greatest ninja in the land, young one."

After her promise, Kyuubi spent days in mourning over the death of her friend.

……

Fugaku groaned. Finally, Naruto's adoption papers were done. He came home to find Itachi playing with Sasuke and Naruto in their crib, making them laugh.

"Do you like your new brother, Itachi?" Fugaku asked, smiling.

"Like him?" Itachi scoffed. "I LOVE him! He's my brother! Besides, what's there not to love about him?" He stuck his finger into Sasuke's hand and got stuck as Sasuke gripped his finger. Itachi wiggled his finger, teasing Sasuke. "You think you're tough, huh? Take this!" He blew onto Sasuke's face, making Sasuke squeal with delight.

Fugaku turned to Mikoto. "Our house is about to get loud with those three around."

Part III: The Half-Fusion Technique

Four years later…

"Naruto, you're going to have private lessons with Hokage-sama," Itachi informed Naruto, who was lying on his stomach next to Sasuke on the sofa, learning to read. Itachi was now a chuunin.

"Mm-hmm," Naruto answered, not really paying attention.

Sasuke nudged him. "Naruto, Itachi said you're going to have private lessons with the Hokage, the strongest ninja in our village!" Sasuke exclaimed, slightly jealous.

Naruto looked up into Itachi's eyes. "The old geezer?"

Itachi gave him a stern look. "Naruto, show some respect. He is the leader of our village, the strongest ninja in fire country."

Naruto rolled his eyes. "Itachi-niisan, the strongest ninja I ever met and know in my entire life stands right in front of me. I'll give you a clue. He has grayish blue hair tied in a ponytail, is a chuunin already when he's eight, and is my brother."

Itachi sighed. "Naruto, still I'm not the strongest in the village."

"Sure you aren't," Naruto mumbled, beginning to read again. "Sasuke, how do you pronounce this word?"

Sasuke stared at the word for a while before answering, "I think it's pronounced 'daimyo'. I'm not entirely sure though. Ask Kyuubi-chan."

Well, Kyuubi-chan?

"It's pronounced exactly as Sasuke said. However, you should be excited by the aspect of training and learning under the old man though. He is strong, Naruto; don't underestimate him just because he's an old timer."Kyuubi stood up from where she was gardening (she and Naruto worked together to transform the sewers into a beautiful Japanese house – with a garden).

Kyuubi-chan…I'm not saying I'm disappointed. All I'm saying is that I think Itachi-niisan is a better ninja.

"Kit, listen to me. Maybe he is, maybe he isn't. Still, you have to try hard while training with the Sandaime. Understand? Get stronger…and smarter. Your father would've wanted that."

Sure…Naruto said to Sasuke, "Kyuubi-chan said that you're right." He got up from the sofa. "Itachi, are we gonna train?"

Itachi looked up from his paperwork. "I'm busy right now, Naruto."

Naruto whined, "C'mon. You're always busy! Can't you use that cloning technique to get the clones to do it for you?"

Itachi blinked. Naruto had just solved the ultimate problem of all high-ranking ninjas with just one suggestion. "Why didn't I think of that?" he muttered. He made a seal and produced ten clones. "Get to work," he ordered them and turned to Naruto and Sasuke. "Alright, little brothers, I'll teach you the fireball…wait. Let's start with basic training techniques. This is after all your first training session, right?"

They both nodded and Itachi continued, "Alright then. These techniques, I want you to practice them everyday when you have time. Train yourself harder each time to perfect it. Don't praise yourself; criticize each other. Every small detail counts. Understand? Overconfidence and arrogance are your worst enemies."

Naruto and Sasuke nodded their heads vigorously. If they were going to learn from their elder brother and maybe surpass him one day, they have to listen to every detail.

Itachi smiled approvingly. "We're going to follow a training schedule. In the morning, you'll just do basic exercises like running, push-ups, etc. Afterwards, take a break and read or something. I'll give you lectures every once in a while. In the afternoon, practice the chakra control techniques that I'm about to show you. This will use a lot of your energy, so afterwards, you just need to meditate. Naruto, you'll have to go to the Hokage Tower at around five. Every few days or so, I'll teach you a new jutsu. How does that sound to you?" He gasped in surprise when his brothers hugged the life out of him. "I take it it's good then?"

"Yep!"

Itachi looked at the time. "Right, it's the afternoon, so I'll teach you guys a basic chakra control technique." He led them outside into a training ground. He led them to a tree and ordered them, "Climb this tree – with no hands."

"What?!" Sasuke exclaimed. "How's that possible?"

Itachi grinned. "But it is, Sasuke. Here's the catch. If you are able to channel a precise amount of chakra to your feet, enough to hold your weight, you will be able to climb the tree with no hands needed. Good luck!" He walked off to another training zone.

Sasuke pouted. "He's just gonna leave us like this, isn't he?"

Naruto shrugged. "Well, he doesn't have that much time to watch over us a hundred percent of the time, does he? Besides, we can make it without him! Race ya up the tree!" He ran towards the tree and made two steps up it until he fell back down and smacked his head on the ground. "Ow!"

"Slick," Sasuke snorted. "Remember what he said? He told us that we have to be able to put in a precise amount of chakra, enough to hold up our weight."

"Oh, right…" Naruto scratched the back of his head, laughing nervously.

"He has a bigger attention span than you do; I have to admit that."

Naruto huffed and channeled some more chakra into his feet, making up the tree four feet before losing his grip and fell backwards again. "Argh! Isn't there an easier technique?"

"What? Can't handle the pressure, Naruto?" Sasuke teased as he was able to climb eleven feet.

"Oh, you're going to…"

……

Sasuke growled. Though it was fun, it was also slightly embarrassing to be carried on the back of his older brother, especially through the streets of Konoha. "I can get down now, Brother."

"Don't push yourself," Itachi stated simply.

Naruto grinned at Sasuke. "See, Sasuke, I could make it up the tree before you do." Of course, the only reason he could was because Sasuke ran out of enough chakra before he did. Naruto called for Kyuubi's chakra once his own became low on supply.

Sasuke whined, "I wanna have a fox in my stomach, Itachi! That'd be so cool! Unlimited chakra supply, fast healing, better chakra control…"

"…scorn from the village," Naruto added as someone from the other side of the street threw a rock at him.

Itachi caught it before it hit him and threw it away.

Sasuke sent a glare (very cute one, considering he's only four) towards whoever threw the rock. Then he turned to Naruto, looking sympathetic, "Don't you-"

Naruto shook his head and smiled carefreely. "Why should I care what they think, Sasuke, when I got you, Itachi, Obaasan, Otousan, your clan, and Kyuubi-chan on my side?"

Itachi sent a smile to Naruto and asked, "How's Kyuubi?"

"She's fine. She's happy gardening and cooking and all those things every day," Naruto replied simply. "She told me to tell you that you should take the jonin exam this year instead of waiting until next year."

Itachi chuckled. "Really? She must be really confident in my abilities."

"Yeah, she is. See, I told you you're a strong ninja!"

"I never said you didn't and that I wasn't, Naruto. I just told you that I'm not the strongest. Trust me when I say you're gonna meet a lot stronger ninjas than me." Itachi's eyes showed no deception; he was telling the truth. He also didn't seem to mind the fact that there are stronger ninjas than him.

Naruto rolled his eyes. "So, now that we master the tree climbing technique…"

Itachi shook his head. "You haven't mastered it yet, Otouto. Tomorrow, you can try on some weights."

"You're kidding me!"

"No, I'm not. You have to push your body harder and harder and harder…" Itachi continued 'and harder' about fifty times until Sasuke put a hand over his mouth.

"Stop talking, Itachi-niisan!" Sasuke yelled, giggling.

Itachi looked at the time and turned to Naruto, "Naruto, remember to go to the Hokage Tower in one hour."

Naruto groaned. Now, he'll have to spend three hours with a grandpa ninja.

……

Naruto got home at eight and pouted to himself on the sofa. No matter how much he wanted to be stronger, he would much rather train under Itachi's supervision than that old geezer's. "I'm just a little kid…blah, blah, blah…" Naruto muttered. "I'm not a little kid!"

Itachi came into the living room from the study and asked, "So, how did the session go?"

Naruto jumped up and hugged Itachi tightly. "Save me! Save me! Save me!"

"Wow, did he really work you that hard?" Itachi grinned.

"No! He keeps calling me a little kid! I'm not a little kid!"

Itachi rolled his eyes and poked Naruto in the forehead. "I don't know, Otouto. You look pretty little to me." He chuckled when Naruto glared at him. "Well, compared to ninety-nine percent of the village, you're pretty little."

"Not you, too!" Naruto exclaimed. "I'm not little!"

Sasuke came in from the kitchen, chomping on an apple. "Yes, you are."

"Oh, look who's talking. You're not a five foot tall ninja either," Naruto retorted.

"Yes, but I'm a whole half foot taller than you - though I am younger than you by two hours," Sasuke replied smugly and continued to bite away at his apple. "You're a shorty. Just admit it."

"I'm not!"

"Oh, yes," Sasuke replied and turned away back into the kitchen before Naruto could say anything else.

Itachi chuckled and took out a scroll. "I forgot all about this. Hmm, I wonder what Hokage-sama has to say about your training…"

"Not that old timer again!" Naruto whined. He ran into the kitchen while Itachi raised an eyebrow at the letter:

Itachi,

You have seen for yourself how the villagers treated Naruto, not as the Fourth would want. On his way to our session, he had decided to buy some bread, and the baker had grabbed him and tried to throw him in the oven. I have decided that the best way to get the civilians and ninjas alike to respect or at least fear him is to train him to be more powerful, if necessary more than me, so that he could at least defend himself against attacks and persecution from the village.

Unfortunately, his chakra control and knowledge of jutsus are very limited at this young age, so he is still prone to persecution. To get around this obstacle, I want you to research on the Half-Fusion Technique. This technique will forever half-fuse Kyuubi and Naruto together. Kyuubi will not be able to control him, but they will both be benefited in some way. However, I myself don't know exactly how to perform it and what it does.

The Third Hokage,

Sarotobi

Itachi sighed. Why hadn't Naruto told him about the assault? Also, the Sandaime had not known anything about Naruto's relationship with Kyuubi. In fact, only he, Sasuke, and their parents actually know that Kyuubi was a peace-loving fox. Half-Fusion Technique. Hmm…this might be difficult. I should just ask Kyuubi-chan. She knows nearly everything in the world, so it would be much quicker."Naruto, can you come over here?"

Naruto came into the living room, looking nervous. "What did he say?"

"Don't worry. You're not in trouble," Itachi told him. "However, I need to get some information from Kyuubi-chan. Ask her how to perform the Half-Fusion Technique and what it does."

"Okay then." Hey, Kyuubi-chan, do you know how to perform the Half-Fusion Technique?Naruto heard Kyuubi let out a cry of surprise.

"Where did you heard that from?!"

Itachi wants to know how to perform it and what it does.

Kyuubi sighed and sat down on a rock. "It's a very risky technique, Kit. Yes, I do know how to perform it and exactly what it does. However, during the time it takes for the technique to be completed, there is a chance that you might die, possibly seventy-five percent. The reason? I'm a demon and you're a human – two different species of living things. Fusing them together is VERY risky."

"Itachi, Kyuubi said that the technique is very risky and I have a seventy-five percent that I might die because of it because she's a demon and I'm a human."

Itachi was deep in thought. "Ask her how to perform it, and what the benefits are."

"Performing it doesn't require people on the outside. The demon inside the Jinchuuriki will send the Jinchuuriki into suspended animation for about two months for the process to complete. Afterwards, if they survive it that is, the benefits will be very rewarding and great. The Bijuu, for one thing, will be able to see, hear, and experience what its container is seeing, hearing, and experiencing. It will be as if they were still free in the wild. The Jinchuuriki, for another thing, will have all the Bijuu's cleverness, skills, cunning, knowledge, and powers. They will have full control of the Bijuu's powers. The two will understand each other perfectly, able to know each other's feelings and moods. It's a great reward at a very high risk."

Naruto told Itachi this.

Itachi sighed. The Sandaime was right. However, the Third probably had not known about the high risk part. "Naruto, Hokage-sama…erm…wanted it to be performed on you."

Naruto yelped, "He wants me to die?!"

"No, we (it wasn't my idea, but I want the same purpose) want you to be powerful so that you can defend yourself against the villagers whenever they attack you. I won't always be around to protect you, Naruto."

"Why can't I just wait until I enter the academy?"

"You have a year until you enter it. Many will…might have hurt you by then," Itachi said.

Naruto turned away. "Do you think I should take the risk?"

"The risk and the benefits balanced each other out. You can either lose everything or you can gain everything." Finally Itachi smiled sadly. "It's your choice however, Otouto."

Naruto thought. Finally he said, "I don't know how you're gonna react to this, Itachi, but I'm taking the risk. If I don't, I won't ever know what would happen if I did. Life always has risks, Itachi."

Itachi stared at him. "Naruto," he began slowly. "You're a daredevil, I can see that. I also agree with you wholeheartedly that life always has risks to take. However, is the risk worth taking?"

"Like you said, they balance each other out, so yes, it is," Naruto announced. He heard Kyuubi let out a sigh.

"I meant Naruto that the risk of death has a high chance of succeeding." Itachi then ruffled Naruto's hair, but the touch seemed more sad and distant.

Naruto hugged Itachi. "I'll be fine, Niisan. I promise."

Itachi chuckled softly and replied, "Promises will be null and void if you die though."

"Just trust me. I'm gonna survive if that's the last thing I do." Naruto sent Itachi a serious look so that his brother wouldn't make a comment like, "That might be the last thing you will ever do."

Itachi didn't say anything since he knew Naruto was determined. He gave Naruto a piggyback ride to his room and set him on his bed. "When will you do this?"

"Now," Naruto replied resolutely. "The sooner the better." It also won't give him time to turn back from his decision.

Itachi widened his eyes. "Naruto…"

"Itachi." Naruto gave him a look.

Itachi kissed him and gave him a hug again. "Don't die," he whispered before standing up and walking out the room, not looking back.

Naruto sighed and lay down. Okay, Kyuubi-chan, I'm ready.

"I just hope you know what you're doing, Kit." Kyuubi responded worriedly before sending them both into suspended animation (for those of you who don't know what suspended animation is, it's like you're sent into a death-like state though you don't really die).

……

"Itachi-niisan, where's Naruto?" Sasuke whined. He hadn't seen his other brother for days.

Itachi gulped inaudibly. "H-he's…uh…probably…uh…training with Hokage-sama."

"That's what you said two days ago!"

Itachi sighed. Sasuke was not to be considered idiotic. He was a sharp youngster.

Mikoto and Fugaku had been told of the Half-Fusion Technique and were worried sick whether Minato's son was going to survive. They had scolded Itachi for hours because he had allowed his brother to undergo the technique. Minato had assigned them a mission to take Naruto under their roof for Naruto to live, not to die!

Itachi gave Sasuke an answer that wasn't entirely a lie. "He's just sleeping, Sasuke, for a few months…"

Part IV: Brotherly Love

Two months later…

Itachi opened the door to Naruto's room. "Otouto, are you awake?" There was no answer. He went inside and sat down on the bed, careful not to sit on his little brother.

Naruto's body was still and deathlike. However, there were some changes to his features. His whisker marks were deeper and more prominent, and his blond hair had red highlights. His lips were parted slightly, and Itachi could see sharper, larger canine teeth though they aren't as large as an Inuzuka's.

Itachi was beginning to get worried. What happens if Naruto died? "Brother?" There was still no answer. The whole day wasn't done yet though, and he stayed by his brother's side until midnight. By then, he had nearly given up hope.You made me a promise… He choked back tears as he stood up to go to bed, even though he wasn't tired at all.

Suddenly, like a miracle, Naruto began breathing again though he was still unconscious.

Itachi breathe a sigh of relief and surprise at the same time. His brother had made it through the ordeal. "Sleep well, Otouto…" He kissed Naruto on the forehead and, smiling, left the room. His parents will be relieved, and Naruto's life will change forever.

A year later…

Itachi stared at the report in his hands. It was impossible! How could Naruto master every single one of the most advanced jutsus and techniques in all of Fire country in a year? When Naruto had woken up ten days after the completion of the technique, he had explained to them all the benefits of the fusion – fast learning skills, perfect memory, and more – but Itachi would've never believed this! Continuing to read, he found out that the next day, once Naruto becomes six, he'll have to go train abroad with foreign instructors to put his powers to its full potential...and to allow the villagers to forget all about him so that when he returns, no one would recognize him and see that he's a Jinchuuriki. The Hokage will make up a lie, saying that he had sent the ANBUs to kill the demon.

Itachi sighed. So much to think about. There's the orientation into the academy tomorrow; there's a mission coming in for him tomorrow as well; there's…argh! Maybe he should take a break to enjoy the afternoon with his brothers. Itachi stood up and went outside.

Sasuke and Naruto were, instead of training today, talking under a shady tree. They were discussing, no doubt, about the academy and beating Itachi's record of graduating at age seven.

"I was thinking. Maybe we could try graduating at age six," Naruto was whispering.

"Yeah, then Itachi-niisan will have to admit we're stronger than him!" Sasuke whispered back.

Itachi got reminded of the fact that Naruto won't be at the orientation tomorrow as he was going to train abroad. However, Itachi just chuckled and sat down in front of them. "So…you wanna beat my record?"

"Yeah!"

Itachi poked both of them in the forehead. "Sure you will. Wanna go out for some ramen, little brothers?"

Naruto cheered, but Sasuke pouted.

Itachi chuckled again at Sasuke. "C'mon, we go out for onigiri all the time. Naruto has taste buds, too, you know." He thought for a second. "Hmm, I wouldn't mind getting some pocky on the way."

Sasuke rolled his eyes. Pocky was Itachi's favorite food. "Okay, can we just go now?"

They stood up and went to Ichiraku's. Ayame looked up at her customers and smiled at Itachi. "Good afternoon, Itachi-san."

Itachi sweat dropped. Did he really look that old? Ayame and he are about the same age. "Actually, I'm only nine…"

Ayame's eyes widened. "Oh, I'm sorry. I take it they're your brothers?" she asked, indicating to Naruto and Sasuke.

"Hai, uh, we'd like to order some ramen please," Itachi told her, sitting down on a stool.

"Okay, what would you like to order?" she took out a small notebook.

"Miso," Itachi ordered simply. "Slightly spicy."

"Same," Sasuke replied.

"One bowl of beef, two bowls of miso, one bowl of chicken…uh…make that six, five bowls of vegetable…can you make that three bowls of beef? Thanks...uh…can you make it four bowls of miso? Make them all super-duper spicy, too, please…" Naruto rambled on.

Itachi, realizing that Naruto might empty his wallet if he keeps going like this, intervened quickly, "Uh, Naruto, I think that's enough." He placed a hand over Naruto's mouth to keep him from ordering more and whispered, "If you keep going on like this, Otouto, my wallet's gonna be empty. I don't think you can eat that much anyways."

Naruto nodded in defeat, a little disappointed, and Itachi released him. After a moment, Ayame came back with the ramen. Naruto received a bowl of beef and he gulped it down as if his life depended on it.

Itachi widened his eyes. "You're going to get sick if you keep doing that! Those ramen are really spicy!"

"C'mon, Kit! More! More! Spicy and fiery! Fire up your fire! This is the best ramen EVER!! Tell the cook to add in more peppers and spices!"

"More pepper and spices please!" Naruto gasped. The spicy taste enveloped his taste buds; it was so GOOD! "Don't worry, Itachi. Kyuubi and I love this! We're fire demons for pity's sake!" He gulped down another bowl of spicy ramen.

Itachi and Sasuke stared. "Niisan, are you sure you aren't developing a stomach ache?" Sasuke asked tentatively.

Naruto shook his head. Bowls stacked upon each other as Naruto gulped down each one. Once he was done, Ayame, Teuchi, Sasuke, and Itachi all stared at him. Naruto blinked innocently. "What?"

They all decided to pretend as if nothing had happened. Itachi paid the bill and pulled his brothers outside. "Okay…uh…"

Sasuke interrupted him. "Are you guys coming to our orientation tomorrow?"

Itachi shook his head regretfully. "I…have a mission tomorrow. Maybe otousan or okaasan might come."

Sasuke hung his head. He was hoping Itachi might come.

Itachi looked down at his feet. How will Sasuke react about Naruto's surprise departure? He sighed. He can't hide it until tomorrow. By then, it would be already too late. "Naruto…Hokage-sama sent me a report today."

Naruto cocked his head. "What did the old timer say?"

"Tomorrow you'll begin your training abroad with the best ninjas in the world. It'll last around seven years. When you come back, you'll be promoted immediately to ANBU, if you want." Itachi saw Sasuke stiffened at this. "Hokage-sama wanted you to rise to your full potential – because of Kyuubi's chakra and powers and all."

"What?! Why would I-?" Naruto was about to say "-leave you and my only family just because I have to go on some stupid training journey?" but Itachi interrupted him.

"I know how you feel, Naruto, but think about it. This is a one-in-a-lifetime chance. It's not everyday that the best ninjas in the world would agree to train a random Konoha ninja that they don't even know or met." Itachi's siding was split in half. On one side, he wanted his brother to stay, but on the other, he wanted him to become stronger.

Naruto thought for a long time, remaining silent. Finally, he turned to the one whom he always asked advice from in difficult situations like this one. Kyuubi, should I?

"From my experience in life, I'd say take all the chances that come at ya. Trust me when I say they don't come everyday."

Naruto sighed. "Alright, Itachi-niisan, I'll go."

Itachi nodded encouragingly. "My mission will be to escort you to your first instructor. From there on, you're on your own except with whoever your teacher will be."

Naruto nodded. Then he turned to Sasuke. His eyes widened when he saw Sasuke's expression. Sasuke had never looked so sad. His eyes were downcast, his hands were in his pockets, and his hair was partially covering his face. Oh, dang, I forgot about the orientation tomorrow…It was the most important day for a ninja – the day when you are officially recognized as a ninja, a ninja-in-training but still a ninja.

Itachi, too, seemed to notice the tension and stayed quiet throughout their whole trip home. As they both remained quiet, Naruto remained quiet as well, convinced that it wasn't a time to talk.

When they arrived home, Naruto turned to Itachi when Sasuke was out of earshot. "So you're going to end up as Sasuke's jonin when he graduates?"

"Hai."

Naruto turned away. "Tell the old grandpa to…leave a spot on the team for me."

Itachi smiled. "I will. If I know Hokage-sama, he will give me a two-man team because you ask. I will be their jonin, but at the same time, their teammate."

"Arigato, Niisan. By the way, about tomorrow…" Naruto paused, avoiding Itachi's eyes. "If I don't go on the journey, you won't have a mission to do, right?"

"Hai, that's right."

"Then I'm staying home," Naruto announced resolutely. He turned to Itachi and said, "Tomorrow is Sasuke's big day. We can't miss it. Besides, I'm fine with going to the academy. He's our brother, Itachi."

Itachi widened his eyes. It wasn't because of Naruto refusing the chance to become the strongest ninja in the world, but it was because he was sacrificing the chance to go to Sasuke's orientation and be with his brother. "Naruto…when you and Sasuke will be on the same team – this I'm sure the Hokage will approve – I think the team will set the record for teamwork." He paused. "However, Naruto, you don't have to sacrifice all seven years just for a day of Sasuke's orientation. We can go to his orientation tomorrow and try to make up lost time throughout the whole trip."

Naruto split into a grin. "Okay! Sounds good to me!"

……

Sasuke sulked the whole time in his room. He wanted the most important people in his life to be at the most important day of his life so badly. At first, he was disappointed that Itachi couldn't come. Now, he was crushed by the fact that Naruto couldn't come either.

The door opened slightly and Naruto's head appeared at the doorway. "Sasuke, uh, otousan's calling us." Naruto's shadow hovered there for a few minutes and then he closed the door quietly.

Sasuke sighed. Maybe otousan or okaasan might be there. He stood up and walked over to the living room and sat down next to Naruto in front of their dad. He listened to his father talk about Itachi's improvement, his mission, Naruto's journey, etc. He wasn't really listening though; he was just waiting for his dad to finish. "Um, dad?" he asked timidly after his father finished talking. "Will you be coming to my orientation tomorrow?"

Fugaku hesitated before saying, "I'm busy tomorrow, Sasuke."

Sasuke hung his head and stared at the floor, trying to mask his feelings. All he asked for was his family to be there at his orientation, which probably only last a few hours at most for a day. Was that too much to ask for? Apparently it is.

"I guess our journey will be postponed then."

Fugaku widened his eyes at his oldest son in surprise. "What?"

Sasuke looked up at Itachi hopefully.

Itachi continued talking to his father, not turning to give Sasuke eye contact, "Naruto and I decided to stay for Sasuke's orientation tomorrow. We can always make up the lost time. After all, it is the most important day of his life, and it is customary for relatives to come."

Fugaku sighed and nodded. "Very well then." He made a sign to show that they're dismissed.

All three of them stood up and went out onto the porch. Sasuke still couldn't believe it – his brothers were coming to his orientation! He turned to them. "Why did you guys postpone your journey?"

Itachi grinned. "You're our brother. That's what brothers do for each other."

Sasuke began crying (from happiness).

"Sasuke?" Itachi and Naruto asked confused.

Sasuke lunged himself at them and gave them a humongous hug. "Domo arigato, domo arigato, domo arigato…"

Naruto turned to Itachi and said, "This is so worth a day of traveling." He then began laughing at Sasuke's outburst of emotion.

"Hai, this is." Itachi surrendered himself to Sasuke's hug.

The next day, Naruto finished packing and ran to the academy where Itachi and Sasuke were already, waiting for him. "Am I late?"

"If you were, I'd kill you," Sasuke informed him. "No, you're not – which is a good thing. In fact, you're fifteen minutes early."

Naruto flashed a grin and sat down in one of the chairs in the auditorium next to Itachi. "I think you're supposed to be waiting in the classroom with the rest of your teammates, Sasuke."

"Right…" Sasuke seemed nervous as he ran off towards his classroom.

Naruto sighed as he leaned back in his chair. His keen ears picked up phrases from conversations of parents nearby. "…that's the nine-tails…heard he could kill in a blink of an eye…kill before…enjoys it…killed my father…"He rolled his eyes. Konohans, he believed, is one of the only people on earth who lack a good amount of reason (then again, he had never met any other people outside the village, so…). How could he kill before he was born? How could he kill before he could see? He looked around the auditorium; people were avoiding his gaze. He felt a twang in his chest whenever they shot him a glare. Despite what he told Sasuke, he really does care about what people think of him. He wants to be able to fit in – people respecting him like a normal human and not a demon. Let's see. There's the Hyuugas – boy, they look cockier than a rooster; the Inuzukas – whoa, they look pretty rough, except for the girl with the ponytail; hmm, the Aburame – creepy as always…He continued to observe the different clans and families until a loud voice rang through the speakers.

"Alright, everyone, we'll start the orientation now." A man with a scar across his nose was speaking into the microphone. His eyes met Naruto's except they hold no hatred towards him which was rather a surprise for Naruto, who never saw anyone outside of Ayame, Teuchi, Itachi, Sasuke, their parents, the Hokage, and the Uchihas who actually treated him like a normal human. "Okay, let's see…"

Naruto waited only for Sasuke, clapping politely with the rest of the people. When Sasuke got on the stage when his name was called, Naruto flashed him a grin and a wink. Itachi waved calmly, still composed as always.

Sasuke looked as if he was about to melt from sight. He nervously came up to Iruka and received a certificate and a few other items needed for the academy years – a few textbooks, a few basic weapons, and a ninja pouch. Then he just stood stiffly next to a shy Hyuuga girl.

Itachi began laughing quietly. When he was oriented into the academy, he was the calmest of all his classmates.

The orientation lasted about two hours, and afterwards, everyone went for refreshments. Sasuke walked shakily to Naruto and Itachi and mumbled, "Can we go home now?"

Itachi became confused. "Don't you want to get to know your classmates?"

Sasuke shook his head. "I feel sick…"

Concerned, Itachi felt his forehead. "You're heating up." He took Sasuke on his back and carried him home. "You'll be fine. Just a little rest and you'll be okay."

Sasuke nuzzled into Itachi back. "Thanks for coming, Itachi, Naruto. I thought you wouldn't come. Arigato, arigato…" His voice became a whisper as he drifted into sleep.

The next day…

Sasuke woke up, refreshed. Then a terrible realization hit him. He sprang out of bed, hoping his brothers were still home. A piece of paper on his desk caught his eye. He picked it up and read:

Sasuke,

We left before you woke up; we were late already, so we couldn't wait for you to wake up. Itachi-niisan will return in about one week or so. I won't be returning for seven years though.

Try to reach ANBU status by the time I return. When I return, the geezer Hokage will promote me immediately to ANBU status – if I want to that is. If you couldn't, that's okay. I'll stay genin, chuunin, jonin, or whatever you are with you. Good luck beating Itachi's record!

Love you always,

Naruto

Sasuke stared for a moment at the words "seven years." It was such a long time. Sasuke finally made his decision, one that would hold him back from surpassing Itachi. We do everything together, so it won't change now. I won't graduate until he returns.

Part V: Living with a Handicap

Four years later…

Fugaku was seething. How dare the village, how dare they believe that the Uchihas are the ones behind the Kyuubi's attack? He paced up and down the room. Itachi was an ANBU captain by now, and Sasuke still haven't even graduated yet. Fugaku could feel the drift between the village and the Uchiha Clan now. The village believes that the Uchihas are behind the attack because the Sharingan could control demons. However, Madara Uchiha alone is the only one stupid enough in their clan to actually try to control Kyuubi, and that incident had happened years ago before the Kyuubi's attack. Even Fugaku couldn't deny the fact that Madara was the cause behind that attack. Also, Madara had left Fire Country long time ago. Orochimaru was the cause behind this attack, not the Uchihas. Why didn't the villagers believe him? For the same reason they didn't believe Naruto was not the Kyuubi. They just needed a scapegoat present.

Fugaku sat down at the desk in his office and thought for a minute. He finally decided that he endured Konoha long enough. Even if his friend, Minato, was a former Hokage and died protecting the village, he, Fugaku, cannot tolerate it any longer. He stood up resolutely. Yes, that's it. An Uchiha Coup D'état to destroy the village would be perfect, punishing it for its crimes. From that time on, secret meetings were held by the Uchihas, planning and plotting to overthrow the Hokage and destroy the village.

……

The Third Hokage turned to Itachi. "Your father…your whole clan in fact is getting too strong, too stubborn, and too out of hand. They are planning something against our village, against me. I want you to keep an eye on them and report to me whenever they are going…across the line. And, Itachi, when they do…" The Sandaime peered sharply at Itachi. "…I want you to kill them all."

Itachi narrowed his eyes. "No."

The Sandaime sighed. He knew Itachi was going to be hard to persuade, but he alone of the entire village was strong enough, loyal enough to Konoha to kill his own clan. "Itachi, you must understand what would happen if you let them "cross the line." There will be disastrous results. This is for the peace of the village, Itachi."

Itachi turned away. He himself couldn't deny that his clan was up to no good. He thought about the coup d'état his father was planning against Konohagakure; it would definitely produce disastrous results. "I can't deny the fact that my clan is up to no good."

The Hokage nodded. "They aren't."

Itachi lowered his eyes. "My clan isn't worth the whole village." That answer was all the Hokage needed.

"Good, Itachi."

……

Sasuke took out the katana Naruto had given him for his birthday on his travels. The katana was a dangerous weapon, deadlier than any other in Konoha. Naruto had written to him in the letter sent along with the katana – I got this while doing a mission with my kenjutsu instructor. The katana was just another one of our booty. Hope you like it. Happy birthday. Oh, and it's not a toy. It can cut through millions of trees without ever getting dull or chipped or damaged. It's one of the sharpest katanas in the world.

Sasuke ran out of his room to Itachi. "Niisan, can you teach me how to use a katana?"

"I'm busy, Sasuke," Itachi replied. He poked Sasuke in the forehead and walked off.

Sasuke widened his eyes, surprised. There was something in Itachi's voice, a hollow feeling. He shook his head and went off to practice by himself. However, before he left, he heard Itachi and his father arguing heatedly about something. I hope it's nothing serious…

……

Naruto's red-tinted eyes scanned his surroundings to make sure that no one was following and spying on him. It had only been four years. However, he had already finished training with all of his assigned instructors. Now, he was training with those he thought knew more than him, whether they were on the good side or bad. He was now training with the Akatsuki, though he didn't tell them who he really is. When they saw how powerful he was, they immediately granted him a position inside their organization when he asked for it – without thinking that he might not be completely loyal to them. The ring they gave him was on his left index finger and he was partnered up with Deidara. However he wasn't exactly loyal to the other blond nor were they on good terms.

Naruto took out a crystal ball and set it on a stand. One of his teachers was a seer and he was the one who taught Naruto how to use a crystal ball. Naruto was also given the crystal ball by the same person.

Naruto waved his hand over the crystal and fog was formed. Once it subsided, Naruto gazed into the ball. What he saw made him gasped in horror and shock. Fugaku in a room with a few other Uchihas, planning a coup d'état against Konoha…the Sandaime and Itachi talking about Itachi killing his clan to stop the said coup d'état…Itachi and Fugaku arguing, son against father…Fugaku spending more time with Sasuke instead, telling him not to become like Itachi…

Naruto growled. No!He must act quickly.

……

A week later…

Itachi's eyes were emotionless. The time had come for him to kill; the Hokage had given him the order. Itachi took out a kunai and walked silently to his parents' bedroom. He didn't want this, but he had no choice. His parents had raised him, but now he'll repay them by snuffing out their lives.

As he reached for the door, the sounds of a running animal reached his ears. He turned around swiftly, kunai poised to defend himself from whatever that might attack him.

A wolf appeared in front of him. Its magnificence froze Itachi for a while. The wolf walked up to him and placed a scroll at his feet. Then it slowly disappeared, turning to ashes.

Itachi opened the scroll.

Itachi,

I don't know when this will get to you, but DON'T do ANYTHING! I sent a letter to old man Hokage and our otousan too. Theirs might come a little later than yours though. Don't kill; be patient! I'm sure we can work things out with no bloodshed.

Your brother,

Naruto

Itachi sighed and rolled it up. How did Naruto know? Either way, though, he'll have to trust Naruto on this. Anything was better than killing his own family. He walked back to his bedroom, putting away his kunai, and waited. After a while, he could hear Sasuke returning home from the academy. He didn't come out to greet him however but stayed in his room. A little later, his parents' bedroom door opened and he could hear footsteps coming towards his room.

"Itachi?" came his father's voice.

Itachi stood up warily and walked over to the door, opening it to reveal Fugaku standing in front of the doorway. "Yes, Otousan?"

Fugaku held out a scroll. "Naruto sent me a letter. He said you were ordered to kill us, but you won't since he sent you a separate letter not to. He also told me…not to launch the coup d'état, and that everything could work out without killing."

Itachi lowered his eyes, slightly ashamed. "I-I was about to kill you and okaasan. I thought it was for the best, to protect the village. I didn't…didn't want to. Gomen nasai, Otousan."

Fugaku quivered slightly, not from fear but from a surge of emotion. He had always known Itachi was more loyal to the village than to his own family. Itachi follows his mind more than his heart. This allowed him to see through deceptions of the heart. He knows what must be done – the right thing to do. He doesn't do what he himself wants but what was best. Fugaku understood his son quite well. He finally did something he hadn't done for years. He hugged Itachi as close and meaningful as a father could ever hug his child. "It's…okay, Itachi. The Hokage and we can work this out. Then we can be a family again – one that doesn't involve you trying to kill us." Fugaku chuckled softly.

Itachi snuggled into his father's chest and whispered, "It really is a good thing we have Naruto in our family, huh?"

"Hai."

……

Naruto wiped a tear rolling down his cheek. Itachi and Fugaku were finally reconciled with each other. It was a beautiful scene.

……

The next day…

Sasuke heard voices. He knew he wasn't supposed to intervene on his elders' meetings, but he wanted to know what's been going on lately. His father and his brother were acting strange and tensed around each other. Sasuke ran through the hallways of his house to the meeting room and pressed his ear to the door. He could hear Itachi and the Hokage arguing with his dad. Then Itachi was arguing with the Hokage. The small meeting was heating up.

"…Hokage-sama, there has to be a way to work this out. I killing my own family should be used only as a last resort…"

Sasuke widened his eyes. Itachi had been about to kill…his own family? Had Itachi been about to kill him, Sasuke, his own brother?

"Itachi, don't you think I've been trying to find a way? It's the only way…"

"No, it's not! Why won't you believe us? Why won't you and everyone believe us that it wasn't us who were behind the Kyuubi attack? It was Orochimaru I swear!"

"How would Orochimaru control Kyuubi? The Sharingan is the only tool in the world known to be able to control demons – besides the First's…!"

"It doesn't mean we use it to!"

"How would you know that Orochimaru was behind the attack?"

Itachi was silent. "You're just like the rest of the village," he finally said quietly. "You just want to have a scapegoat – one besides your beloved student."

It was now the Sandaime's turn to be silent.

Itachi's voice was suddenly filled with angry scorn, "How do we know? Kyuubi-chan told us. She admitted that Madara did control her before but only once. You now think that every time a demon attacks, it's because of the Sharingan. That isn't true. Kyuubi told us that Orochimaru enraged her, and that she lost control over her emotions. Kyuubi-chan was a peace-loving fox. She admitted everything through Naruto. All the Uchihas know this. That's why we're angry that you won't be open-minded and believe us; you kept blaming us for something we didn't do, making us scapegoats. We've been loyal to you and the village all this time, and this is how you repay us?"

Fugaku's voice was calmer than Itachi's. "Hokage-sama, I'm willing to make peace if you stop the rumors against the Uchihas."

"I'll try," came the answer after a long silence. "However, Fugaku, the village won't give up the belief easily." The Third paused and sighed warily and deeply. "I admit to you here. I have always tried to protect Orochimaru as much as possible, shielding my eyes from his…power-hungry actions. That was what happened long time ago…and the result was the deaths of many lives. And I still haven't…" He trailed off. Then he took a deep breath and changed the subject abruptly. "The village will be to you as a handicap is to a person. The handicap infuriates and holds the person back, but the person must learn to live with it…or else he'll waste his life away, brooding over why he was borne with a handicap in the first place. If he tries to get rid of the handicap…" The Hokage looked deeply into Fugaku's eyes. "…he will never be able to see if the handicap might heal because he has already gotten rid of it. Now he has no chance of healing. That will only be a setback to him."

"If you just try to stop the rumor, I couldn't ask for more from you."

Sasuke smiled. He was quite sure everything worked out just fine. He was about to tiptoe away when Itachi's voice rang out.

"Little brother, I know you're there." The door opened and Itachi stood in the doorway, smiling down at the nervous Sasuke. "You came right in time to witness how many lives could be saved if people just work things out peacefully and not violently." He then pulled Sasuke through the doorway into view of Fugaku and the Sandaime.