A/N: I had to write this story. Part of it is I have a lot of respect for Itachi and the inner struggle his character has with his responsibilities. (This might be because I come from a family with dynamics that can best be described as a cross between the Uchihas in this series and the Kuchikis in Bleach.) Also, the play on names with Itachi and his name meaning weasel was great, especially knowing more than one of the verses of this song.

All around the mulberry bush, the monkey chased the weasel. The monkey thought twas all in fun. Pop goes the weasel.

Itachi lay with his eyes shut, his headband resting inside his cloak, which he had folded inside out as he had made camp with Kisame the night before. Sleeping outside was their only option in this village, which had no inn. They were still a good two weeks away from Konoha if you were careful and traveled only by main roads, and it was currently safer for the two Akatsuki in the Fire Country than they were in Mist. Still, he listened to the two men talking as they wandered home from a bar, unwittingly passing the missing nin in the process.

"They say the Hokage has sent out another group of ANBU looking for the missing nin."

"Which one, the ANBU who killed his whole family? No way! If I were him, you couldn't get me two steps inside the border."

He lay there, waiting to see what the two men did. They did not seem to notice him sleeping near the edge of the pond.

Once they were out of sight, he dropped a small stone in the pond to wake up his sleeping partner who had chosen the water as a more comfortable bed and put his cloak and hat back on, readying to move to the next village.

Half a pound of tupenny rice and half a pound of treacle. Mix it up and make it nice. Pop goes the weasel.

"Damn it! Kakuzu screwed us on rations again."

Kisame said, looking at the meager supply of rice and sugar that the other Akatsuki had given to the nin when they had headed out for this mission. And here in the middle of the woods, there was little that they could do other than make due with the supplies.

"Go find something. Fish or meat. I don't know the plants around here well enough to try. But if we can cook some meat with this, I think I have an idea of how to make this stretch."

It did not take long to melt a little of the sugar into a syrup. Carefully, he added the rice and some water, boiling the mixture until everything was coated. Once it had cooled enough, he rolled it into flat cakes, like the ones they used to serve at weddings. He remembered coming home one night to find Sasuke and his mother finishing up the last few cakes for one of his cousin's weddings.

Of course, none of that mattered now. Just that the simple recipe was what was likely to keep him and Kisame alive this mission.

A penny for a spool of thread, a penny for a needle. That's the way the money goes. Pop goes the weasel.

The two nin paid for the new set of supplies and headed to the north, out of town. In this area of the border, they were unlikely to find anyone willing to help them. And after the fight that had erupted last night at the tavern where they had been eating supper, the two had decided that the best thing was for them to stay out of the village. Once they were free of the press of people, they sat and began to mend the cloaks, the black thread fading into the fabric itself. At least it seemed that way to Itachi. To anyone else, the thread may well be as clear as day. He would never know.

Every night when I come in, the monkey's on the table. I always knock him off again. Pop goes the weasel.

Itachi went into his room back at the Akatsuki's base. He had almost finished getting ready for the night when he noticed a small white monkey statue sitting on his table. With a sigh, he picked it up and threw it out the window, hearing a curse in the distance at the sight of the small flash of fire that the explosion emitted. Tired, he shut the window and lay staring at the ceiling until he fell asleep.

Johnny's got the whooping cough and Mary's got the measles. That's the way the money goes. Pop goes the weasel.

Itachi's head throbbed as he tried to get the strength to sit up enough to see who had come into the room. The figure was a dark blur in the corner of the room, and a fit of coughing forced him to lie back, struggling to breathe. He had been this way for more than a week this time, and the fever was showing no signs of letting up.

He felt a hand at the back of his neck, cool against the painful warmth that was coursing through the rest of him. There was the slightest pressure at the back of his jaw, and he felt someone putting a pill in his mouth. He nearly spit it out, or would have if a hand had not clapped over his mouth to keep him from doing so. The pill tasted like blood, but underneath, there was a familiar dusty flavor, like sweetened chalk that he tried to place and couldn't.

The dark figure sat there until his breathing returned to normal, the fever already beginning to lose its hold. He was even able to focus enough to see two red eyes staring at him in the darkness.

"How? Why?"

"Save your breath. You don't have enough of it to waste asking stupid questions. Zetsu got it for me out of Kakuzu's stuff. It must have been something that they picked up on one of their last missions. After all, from what Hidan said, one of the nin was from the family. Of course, it's a pity he couldn't have gotten it from him and not the teacher instead. You aren't as fond of blood as I am though. Still, beggars can't be choosers."

He shut his eyes against the light from the hall as his visitor put his mask back on and walked back into the hall.

I've no time to sit and sigh. Nor have I time to wheedle. Kiss me quick, I'm off, goodbye. Pop goes the weasel.

Even before he was an Akatsuki, even before he had even become ANBU, Itachi had become very good at thinking on his feet. And he had certainly known that Kakashi had somehow gotten the sharingan from Obito. None of this did anything to slow his reactions as he fought with the other man. It still felt strange though seeing the other man's eye staring at him from a different face. He could not remember anymore if Obito was a cousin or an uncle, but had heard his other relatives, especially his great great grandfather cursing the man for not acting like a Uchiha. No, he had acted more like their mother, a distant cousin who looked and acted far more like the more distant Hyuuga relatives, in spite of her dark eyes and a sharingan of her own. Looking at Kakashi, he could swear he heard her, pleading with him to make their father let up on Sasuke just a little bit, to show him some praise, giving him a kiss on the cheek to smooth over harsh words.

If Obito truly had been more like her, he felt that their clan had lost one of the few people he might have respected.

He kept fighting, forcing the other nin to meet eye contact and the mangeko sharingan. He waited only until his brother's former teacher collapsed and picked up a thrown kunai.

"Come on, Kisame." We're leaving."

Up and down the city road. In and out the Eagle. That's the way the money goes. Pop goes the weasel.

Inside the city gates, he moved carefully, keeping his eyes downcast under the hat so that no one would recognize him. He walked over to Kisame and the two men paid their bill at the inn. They walked outside and down the main stretch of street when he noticed a young blonde boy up ahead, shouting as he knocked at an apartment door. He smirked beneath the shadowed brim of his hat.

His assignment and his foolish little brother both in one spot. Convenient.

Round and round they went all day till they were not able. Now there's nothing more to say. Pop goes the weasel.

He felt the blade piercing through him and Itachi smiled. The fight, the search it was all finally over. He reached forward, and with the last of his strength poured the jitsu which would give Sasuke his technique. He smiled as he breathed his last, his words a soft whispered as he collapsed forward.

"Foolish little brother."