Disclaimer: I. no. own. NARUTO.
Warning: Spoilers & wild theories abound…
- CHAPTER 1 - Hit in the Head -
'Man, can't I even get a nap?' Naruto groaned as he rubbed at the spot where something had just struck his head. 'Who the hell is throwing stuff into my apartment again?'
Strangely, Fuzz-Ball wasn't helping with the bruise. Maybe it was still annoyed at him for nearly getting them both controlled by Madara a few hours ago? But the bijuu only had itself to blame! Plus, it was he who pulled them through in the end too!
Still, it looked as if Kyuubi was too busy moping over its wounded pride to care. With a sigh, Naruto rolled over to reach for that ice pack he had thrown under his bed after yesterday's fight. Hopefully, the ice wasn't totally gone yet. He probably should've put the pack back in a freezer if he had actually wanted to keep it around, but that battle of wills with Madara had left him simply too drained to even think. 'Sides, he wasn't sure if power in the village was even back up at this point yet.
Did he fall off his bed some time during the night though? Cuz Naruto could've sworn he had already rolled for five times the width of his bed—and his hand was still hitting flat on whatever he was lying on. But com'on, he wasn't that heavy a sleeper! He'd wake up if his head hit the floor! In fact, Naruto bet he'd find the stupid pack if he just open his eyes…
…Only to find himself in a dim, bare, almost cell-like room.
'What the…' Naruto quickly checked himself over for signs of restraint. This had better not be those die-hard Ne's idea of making a comeback again!
However, even after sitting up, all Naruto could find was just his different clothes. It was a little hard to tell, but he thought they now looked like some kind of fishnet undershirt on top of full-length pants.
There wasn't any actual lighting in the room for him to be sure though—just a faint glow from what seemed to be one of those outdated paper-and-bamboo screen windows. But that light was so weak, Naruto could hardly make out anything around him 'cept the fuzziest outlines. Urgh, Fuzz-ball must be really upset if it was taking away even his advanced sight.
'Well, if I walk into a trap this time,' Naruto grumbled mentally as he squinted to make out more of his surroundings, 'it won't be my fault!'
But without warning, that single window to his right suddenly brightened up—as if something had just moved out of the way. Naruto wasn't sure what happened over there, but he definitely wasn't about to complain about the better view after his eyes got a few seconds of adjustment. Now that he could see properly though, there was nothing stopping Naruto from getting a better feel of the room himself.
It wasn't as bad as he thought. As he'd already noticed earlier, his body was completely unrestrained. Also, apparently he just got up from a futon—cut from material that felt softer than anything his feet had ever came across. There was even a kettle off to the side, complete with a plate of rice cakes set beside it.
'Kay… If this was a prison, it was way too comfy. But if this was an illusion, it was way too unrealistic too!
This wasn't a familiar type of lodging for him. In fact, it looked a bit like…
Naruto nearly stumbled over something on the floor. Cursing under his breath, he bent down to see what it was. The thing seemed to have a cylindrical shape to it—with curves and dots written all over.
'A mission scroll,' Naruto realized. And judging from the seal protecting it, a pretty high-ranked one too.
During their two-year training trip, he managed to con Ero-Sennin into teaching him some seals here and there. While most turned out to be boring storage seals and the like, Naruto did get his master to teach him those cool ones you'd find on mission scrolls after, er, an extra-successful use of his Oiroke no Jutsu. After all, what kind of a Hokage would he be if he couldn't even sort out what to give to his own ninja?
And sitting so harmlessly on his palm right now was an S-rank mission scroll. Naruto just knew it had to be what hit his head earlier, but he also had no clue why someone would drop it off in his current room so carelessly.
Plus, the seals indicated it was meant for an ANBU captain. And last time he checked, Naruto knew he was still a genin.
He probably should've just left the scroll alone—seeing how it was clearly dropped at the wrong place. However, Naruto's curiosity nagged at him to take a closer look; after all, it wasn't everyday he get to see an S-rank mission scroll up close! Usually either Kakashi-sensei or… Sai would've picked one up from Tsunade-baachan before he even caught wind of a new mission. Come to think of it, he hadn't so much as touched one before!
'Just one quick peek,' Naruto tried to tell himself as he nervously rolled the scroll with a thumb. 'That can't hurt, right?'
So he did peek… and saw it was secured with a blood seal.
'This must be for something big.' Naruto deduced as his fingers ran over the pattern half-consciously. 'Better turn it in so Baachan can get someone on the job right away!'
Decision made, Naruto tried to go over the room one last time to see if he could find and get back into his own clothes. He'd just came to a closet on one side of the wall, and was sliding the cover open when…
'!' Naruto's eyes widened—and he had to blink several times just to make sure that he wasn't hallucinating.
'Um.' Taking out a few sets of clothes, Naruto tried to hold them as close to the glowing screen as he could. 'Why are there still Uchiha shirts in Konoha?'
Indeed, on the back of every shirt was an unmistakable fan symbol. The Uchiha clan symbol.
The Uchiha used to be greatly respected in Konoha—up until beans were spilled on why they were massacred in the first place. Their supposed treachery, on top of Sasuke's own actions after Pein's attack, had turned the village decidedly against them. The memorial to their old district was torn down by some nameless civilian who was never caught, and their name only spoken of in disgusted tones.
It had gotten harder and harder for Naruto to bring back Sasuke without getting his 'brother' killed.
Now that he was reminded of the clan though, Naruto realized why this place seemed so familiar. Its boring furnishing was in exactly the same style as what he found when he trashed Sasuke's home for a prank one time!
'Did Madara somehow find a way to trap me in an illusion even in my sleep?' Naruto shuddered at the thought. 'Is he trying to guilt me into giving up on Sasuke?'
Hurriedly putting those shirts and his own worries on the side for now, Naruto tried to dig deeper into the closet…
…And still couldn't find his stuff. But whoever owned this closet must be a ninja too, because Naruto found not one—but several—pouches neatly packed with all kinds of ninja gear. There was a kunai pack, a shuriken pack, a senbon pack… and various combos of them.
Picking the one closest to him, Naruto took out a somewhat clean-looking kunai. Steeling himself, he angled it and pierced his left palm.
'Ouch!' Naruto winced but quickly focused his mind on checking if his senses had been toyed with. Unfortunately, he couldn't tell any difference.
'Great. I'm up against a genjutsu master.' Naruto couldn't help but sag a bit. Knowing his weakness, he'd worked really hard to improve on his illusion detection skills—but somehow they just never seem good enough against those Uchiha.
'And even the most pacifist of the bunch is gone.' Naruto sighed as he roughly wiped the kunai against his pants. It sounded like a bad joke when Madara first ran the story by them, but who'd thought Itachi was supposedly a loyal Konoha ninja to the core?
Not that Danzou or the Council wanted it to be known. That didn't stop Sasuke from airing their dirty laundry, of course.
Naruto frowned when he noticed his palm wasn't healing up. Fuzz-Ball must be seriously pissed at him this time. But honestly, he got the point now. Was all this trouble necessary?
Seeing how the wound wasn't exactly life-threatening though, Naruto figured he'd just take care of it himself. So fumbling through the closet again, he snuck out a bandage roll and ripped off a piece to wrap around his hand. On second thought, he got another two for his legs—just so he could tidy up the baggy ends of his new pants a bit. They had been tickling his legs so badly, it wasn't even funny!
He hesitated before actually putting on one of those Uchiha shirts though. Naruto still had no idea how he got himself into a room where they were kept, but he wasn't exactly suicidal enough to wear one openly within Konoha. Illusion or not, Naruto didn't want to push his luck.
However, maybe he really didn't have to worry about the issue after all. Because just as Naruto was about to turn for an exit, a sudden wooziness overtook him…
He fell to the floor before he could move another inch.
A/N: And the plot bunny struck again. I was still revising a chapter for ToNR when this idea popped into my head: Itachi turned out to be more of a brother than anyone gave him credit for—could/would Naruto actually go to such lengths if he was in Itachi's shoes? I still haven't decided if I should keep going with this premise, so any feedback is appreciated.
EDIT: A note on Naruto's obliviousness. I'm assuming 13!Itachi's body might not look all that different from 16!Naruto's in the dark. After all, the series already showed Itachi to be relatively tall at a young age, whereas Naruto only caught up after a time skip?