A/N a note to all who are nice enough to continue . this story was initially created to explain the little mystery of Itachi in my last fic, but I dunno…I think it works ok as a stand-alone, yeah?

A yes…disclaimer…well, I don't own Naruto, if I did, I wouldn't be writing fan fiction, would I?

Itachi always knew Sasuke could win.

He was musing on this thought and its implications as he wandered through one of the many Akatsuki bases on one of his rare free days when he didn't have a mission.

Firstly, there was the small obstacle of Orochimaru. Itachi had wanted Sasuke to come after him, of course, and become as strong as was possible on the way, but surely he would not be so consumed by revenge as to even consider giving that snake his body his brother was intelligent, shouldn't be fooled completely...but all the same, Itachi would keep watch over him, over the both of them.

Then Sasuke would, inevitably, come across Akatsuki itself. Itachi frowned as he walked, he didn't want Sasuke to become a part of such an organisation, but the only other option would be to fight his way through every member of said organisation. No, Itachi corrected himself, surely his brother's friends, the Konoha ninja, would defeat some in their path towards Sasuke. Especially considering a certain one of Sasuke's friends and the Akatsuki's main aim at that point in time.

But there would be some left, not even a jinchūriki could fight off eight S-class missing nins with the same evil intentions. A small smirk crossed Itachi's face, whoever the survivors, with Sasuke's future skill level, he would be the one to triumph.

Zetsu would be one of the easier kills...once Sasuke caught him. Zetsu was the master of concealment techniques, the spy of the Akatsuki Itachi didn't often see him fight, but he knew he was vicious in battle. He was also very hard to predict once his dark side took over, instinct consumed him, and the instinct of a plant is different to that of a man, it didn't help that Zetsu himself didn't think all that logically once in that state. Sasuke could win that fight.

Hidan might be trickier. He wasn't all that intelligent on his own, but when it came to battle, he didn't need it anyway. His faith kept him whole, and he knew that cursed circle inside out. Itachi had seen some of the best ninja in the land succumb to Hidan's dark ritual, his dangerous passion, and he didn't want his brother to be one of them.

If Kakuzu was with him though...the two didn't usually fight together, but defeating kakuzu and his dark hearts could be central to Sasuke's survival. Fighting his beast-like hearts was like fighting four opponents at once, and adding Kakuzu himself, and his black threads of death, his brother would certainly be wanting help at that point.

Then there was Pein...there was a reason he held one of the most powerful positions in Akatsuki. This would be Sasuke's hardest battle, second only to his fight with Itachi himself. Itachi hoped he would think t bring some companions with him when he left Orochimaru, even having one other on his side would be better than facing Pein alone.

As for Konan...the she-devil with the shape of an angel, what could she do to Sasuke? Any of the deadly, almost enchanted paper she sent his way would flutter to the ground in threads of ash. She was helpless without Pein.

And Sasori...he was absolutely deadly. Sasuke would need a good team and quick intelligence for that fight. He hoped it wouldn't come to that, though, putting Sasuke in that much danger was a ridiculous ask, no matter how much power he had. Unless it was the power of their bloodline, of course.

Then of course would be Deidara why hello there thought Itachi, Sasori's annoying partner was coming down the hallway towards him now. He smirked as Deidara approached, and now about to sweep past him when he was caught by each wrist and slammed against the wall.

"What are you doing, lurking about mine and master Sasori's rooms?" he hissed viciously.

Itachi continued to smirk as he answered;

"I'm merely wandered the base, Deidara, a security check, you could call it."

Deidara scowled at his arrogant tone of voice and let out a noise that sounded like a snarl as he pressed closer to the Uchiha teen.

"What are you being so arrogant for?! And stop smiling like that!"

Deidara was impossibly close to him now, pressed right up against the raven, who just kept on smirking.

"I smile because I know you'll lose," he said calmly, "I smile because I know I have nothing to worry about."

He watched as Deidara's expression changed, became furious and confused all at once. He released Itachi abruptly before speaking.

"I hate you," he said in a low voice, "leave me alone." And with that he turned and stalked into Sasori's room.

Itachi stayed where he was, calmly leaning against the wall, and I smile because your lover entered that room just before you, after seeing us and thinking all the wrong things. He waited until he'd heard a tremendous slap resound, and then conveniently disappeared before Deidara entered the hallway again.

Ah yes, Deidara would be the easiest of them all to defeat. His pride would keep him fighting when it was hopeless, and his inability to keep calm during a difficult battle would not work to his advantage at all.

Which left Itachi's own partner, the shark-man Kisame. He was a formidable opponent, but not one either of them would have to worry about. Itachi had taken appropriate measures to ensure Kisame's respect and loyalty to himself and, if all went well, to his brother as well. Kisame would work for Itachi, so there was real threat there at all.

Itachi stepped outside into the light rain.

And finally...me

He let the rain cool him as he thought.

Ever since Sasuke could walk, Itachi had been preparing his brother for the upcoming fight. Even after his massacre of the Uchiha clan, Itachi had made sure to instruct his brother. He would battle Sasuke; leave him with only a small injury and a message, a message to become stronger, gain more power.

And now, Sasuke was almost ready. He was truly almost ready to fight Itachi at his full strength and win. It was the final step Itachi needed, the final part of the plan that needed to take place. Only then could Sasuke control the full might of the Sharingan Itachi kept.

It would pass on to Sasuke only minutes before Itachi's death...but what did his death matter if he could protect his brother still?

Only then would Sasuke be the victor of any battle he started with the Akatsuki, with anyone. Sasuke would hold one of the most powerful ninja techniques in the whole land. Itachi could give him physical strength, and his nine-tailed friend would save him from falling into despair.

When the Uzumaki boy caught up to Sasuke, they would be undefeatable. Together, they would take on Uchiha Madara and survive.

Itachi smiled, his brother could take on the world and win.

And he would help him do it.

Now…I hope you liked that, and thanks for reading this far!

Anyone who really liked it, I'd love to know whether this was a success of not, especially those of you who liked my last fic. Tied this in well, or not? So if you have time, drop a review, or send a p.m., it would be greatly appreciated.

ElfArrow

P.S. told you it would be up tonight, Steph XP