A.N. The inspiration for the first chapter of this story was from the song "I want it all" by Depeche Mode so don't be lazy and listen to that)))
Warnings: Ita/Naru, BoyxBoy relationship; spoilers up to 452 chapters; character death. Here Danzou is the 6th appointed Hokage, but Tsunade is not in a coma anymore.
September 2013. Edition of this story came ages after publishing. But it's still better later than never, right?
Beta Reader: Warrior of Sangre
I see a river
It's oceans that I want
You have to give me everything
Everything's not enough
It's my desire
To give myself to you
Sometimes I try
Sometimes I lie, with you
Sometimes I cry
Sometimes I die, it's true
Somewhere I find
Something that's kind
And I've crossed the line again
A line I drew in sand
Still you give me everything
And everything's not enough
The kiss of Sharingan
Chapter 1 Once and forever
He gazed at the back of the head of the masked cloak wearing man, not liking his choice of acting. They stood in the clearing as the air slowly was becoming heavier. And behind him, Kisame and his followers curiously observed the complicated technique of the unique summoning.
"Isn't it a bit too much. One or two beasts would be more than enough," mumbled Sasuke, sporting the bored expression as the flames of chakra, earth and the dust started to rise. He stood with his arms crossed behind the man, waiting for him to finish. He heard the chuckle, and the man's body started to shake as he laughed. He then raised his arms artistically, slowly and meaningfully.
"No. This is perfect. I want them to see and feel my wrath," He said seriously and his palms grew into tight fists. And the ring on his finger shone in the sunlight, as he started to laugh again.
The noise that filled the air was terrifying. It was coming from afar but it made you feel small in comparison to enormous power you felt with every fibre of your being. In the middle of the day, without a warning, a sign or allusion, it started.
After feeling the unknown source of chakra and something resembling the earthquake Kakashi appeared on the training grounds that were on the edge of the village hidden in leaves, it let him be the witness of a coming threat, and his eye impossibly widened. There, ahead, were trees that created high and thick forest, but above the tops you could easily see the monsters.
The sun mocked Konoha shinobi with a beautiful and seemingly peaceful day, while in reality on the horizon their enemy appeared, to slaughter and destroy them. More and more gathered together, counting in shock and fear five tailed demons. It was the beginning of the end. All of them knew that they had no chance of defeating such power, and their main objective was to survive. In the matter of seconds, the peace turned into chaos, as chuunin were taking villagers, academy students and other young and weak ninja to shelters. Hokage himself, anbu and jounin stayed on the scene, taking in the sight that could be the last thing they see, preparing to do all in their might to face the bijuu.
"We will need the help from higher summons! Tsunade, Katsuyu should stay behind. The fight must be led by the boss summon of the toads and turtles. Where is Tenzo?" Said the bandaged aged man, the new appointed Hokage, Danzo.
"Gamabunta couldn't hold off the fox alone for long and you think that three summons will be enough to stop the five demons?! There's no chance for us to fight it longer than a minute!" Shouted Tsunade. The blonde woman clearly saw they had no chance of surviving. Silently, many of the present shinobi agreed with her, doing their best to hide the trembling of their bodies, as demonic chakra invoked fear and hopelessness inside of them. The blue, red and green forms of the beasts were getting closer and the shaking earth under their feet caused them to look forward and lose their ideas, as their hearts were ready to stop before they were ripped out of them by force. It was easy to guess. Akatsuki finally decided to attack, and they decided to level their village with earth. They controlled these hellish creatures and there was almost nothing and no one to stop them.
"There's no time for the full evacuation, the only thing we can do is fight," Said Danzo, grimly staring ahead.
"I can use Mangekyo Sharingan to send to the other dimension one, one and a half demons at most, but it will cost me all of my chakra," Voiced the one eyed jounin turning to the leader as his frame stilled with resolve. The tremors of the ground got stronger and caused some of shinobi to collapse. From behind, where the streets of the village started, could be heard the shouts and screams. The harsh gust of wind reached them and two of the demons loudly roared.
"How do you use Mangekyo Sharingan for that?" Asked the orange clad blond standing next to him, as his gaze didn't leave the horizon. His teacher glanced at him but quickly got his eyes back on the enemy.
"It doesn't matter right now, Naruto. We don't have time for this," The jounin made a step forward and lifted his right hand preparing for the motion of raising his headband.
"It does matter, just tell me,"
The man gritted his teeth, uncovering his red eye.
"I just focus on one thing and will it to disappear, to travel somewhere else as I direct my chakra to the eye. It doesn't matter, because I can use this only once anyway,"
"Me too," Whispered the boy to himself as he unzipped his jacket and tore his black mesh shirt.
Hatake was a man who couldn't be easily surprised. He was prepared for a battle before it started, he always calculated which way the enemy goes, and he was always ready for unexpected, because he expected almost everything and anything. But among all things having a chance to happen there was no reply resembling the one he just heard. He… could turn and ask if what he heard was correct but it was impossible, and even if it was possible that course of action was not recommended in a situation he found himself in. He had no time to ponder over complications when he had to do his job first. He put the troubling thoughts in the back of his mind and focused.
The blond had only one thought in his mind. He had to protect the village. Just as Tsunade said, there's no chance they can win against the combined power of the demons. Even if he released the power of Kyuubi it wouldn't be enough. He wouldn't manage to fight and protect the others at the same time, while one slip in controlling his demon could result in him becoming the enemy. So if one technique is enough to completely stop one or more demons then he will do it. One powerful eye belonging to Kakashi can stop one or one and a half, so two eyes could stop two to three demons, sending them to another dimension. If he manages to stop four then Konoha shall be saved, and possibly, the enemy will discard the idea of going further.
He bit his right thumb and it crossed the black markings over his heart; narrowing his eyes in concentration he performed about twenty hand seals, muttering under his breath in the end. "Arts of sealing- seal breaking,"
His head rose and two red blazing eyes gazed at the enemy, seeing as slowly, one and partly another demon were pulled into the deforming space, courtesy of Kakashi.
"Mangekyo Sharingan," the blonde whispered and both he and his teacher got on their knees, unable to keep standing on the shaking ground. The demons simultaneously roared in pain and confusion.
It was painful. As if something was wrapping your mind and pulling your soul out of your body. It hurt. He kept trying and it was hard to keep your focus on such a wide area. Three of the demons were enormous, so to make sure they were not only in the field of his vision but also under the force of the technique was almost in-sane to try to achieve. But he was never the one to give up when something seemed impossible. He promised to never give up.
The beasts trashed and screamed, as their forms were becoming smaller. Isn't it a blessing, that Hatake possessed a Sharingan eye? But isn't it a curse, that Konoha Jinchuuriki gained it too? Thought the sixth Hokage, curiously observing the two shinobi. If they manage to stop the attack, the history will tell that Konoha faced five powerful demons and won, without being touched. But how has this boy obtained such power? Was it possible that he and his perverted sensei created a new level of sealing techniques? Level so high it let this boy possess the Sharingan? No, this can't be possible. If it was, someone would have already created and used it.
The jounin panted and after taking one more glance at the horizon to confirm he indeed sent the demon away, fell on the ground exhausted. He was close to blacking out and the last thing he saw was his student, whose blood was covering his cheeks in streaks as it flown from his eyes. His breathing was uneven and he was on the verge of losing consciousness while the drops of sweat appeared on his forehead, neck and chest. And just the moment later, when the ground became still, and area ahead of them became silent, the blond finally blinked, and from the corner of his mouth slid down a drop of dark red blood, which followed the violent coughing.
She was worried. She didn't know what exactly happened, but she had to take care of them. Her hands travelled over their bodies as the soft green light brought them strength and soothed their pain and exhaustion. Her hand stopped over the strange marks on Naruto's chest. Tsunade deeply frowned and tried to find its meaning. She's never seen anything like this, and the only specialist in seals she knew was her teammate. But Jiraiya left them and the person she could trust about it was Naruto himself and no one else. He was unconscious but the slight glow of the seal troubled her.
In the village, the noise of worry and panic ceased. It got awfully quiet and even seemed that the danger was still in the air, waiting for a right moment to appear.
"Tie his hands and legs," ordered Danzo, looking at the boy without trust.
"What? Why?" voiced the medic, scowling and sharply turning to look at the man. He raised his head and his fingers tightly gripped the cane.
"We don't know how he came to possess that bloodline. But we know that there were only three Uchiha to reach the level of Mangekyo Sharingan. Madara, Itachi and Sasuke. And the only logical explanation is Itachi, who only recently died. Why would the serial murderer and a high classed criminal let this boy, and may I remind the target of the criminal organization this murderer belonged to, get his kekkai genkai? It is illogical. As of now, we can't trust Uzumaki Naruto,"
The woman dropped her eyes and hastily finished the healing. How couldn't she know of this? She was constantly in contact with Jiraiya, but he hasn't ever mentioned anything of this calibre happening. Was it a secret? Why would Jiraiya keep secrets from her? He kept saying that she knows more than anyone, and that he will always share everything with her, as silly as it sounded. But this?
Near the border of Konoha
The fabric of the black red clouded cloak danced in the wind, but the masked man wearing it stood still, as his fists trembled in anger.
"Mangekyo Sharingan… I knew that Hatake reached that level but to be able to use it on that scale… That's a… mystery," His voice was calm, sceptic but there was just a tiny bit of admiration he tried to hide with his demeanour. Behind him, utterly shocked, his companions and minions stared at the point, where the summons disappeared. He knew that despite being sent to another dimension their souls were sealed in demonic statue. So to summon them again, he has to wait for their chakra to restore. Getting close to the village now wasn't interesting. They were ready, gathered, evacuated. The surprising and main part of his plan failed. So acting now would be plain stupid.
"He couldn't have done this," Said the young Uchiha and turned away. He didn't believe in Kakashi having that ability in the least. The red haired girl of the group, Karin, looked at him with the wide eyes. She opened her mouth but closed it and seeing others giving her glances, crossed her arms and adjusted her glasses.
"We will regroup and Zetsu will investigate this. Bijuu need time to gather their chakra," The leader said.
Sasuke placed his hands in pockets and tilted his head.
"I have to take care of something first,"
"Heads rolling?" sang Madara turning to him. "I assume you take your little group with you? Do whatever you want Sasuke-kun, but don't get caught or seen and come back to the base,"
The man waved his hand uncaringly and disappeared from view. Seeing him and the shark man go the girl made sure they were far enough. She turned her eyes to Sasuke again and spoke.
"I don't know if Madara felt it or not, but beside Hatake using Sharingan there was also the chakra of someone else. You may not believe it, but that chakra was similar to Itachi, in some ways,"
He couldn't hide his surprise hearing that. Because that was impossible. Because Itachi left him. Because he killed him. Because Itachi gave him his three most powerful techniques, leaving in this world only these three things, dying. There is nothing more left of his brother… or is there?
Without knocking, the pink haired girl, a medic, banged into the room, scanning it with her green shining eyes and stopping her gaze on the bed by the window. She ran to it not looking at the other occupants in the room, Tsunade, Tenzo, Danzo and Inoichi. Her blonde teammate looked vulnerable. His wrists and ankles were strapped to the bed, while his bare chest revealed a seal above his heart. Round shaped, it was formed from the small carefully drawn seals. She decided she could care less about what her friend does to his body, but more important was his health. She stooped and checked his state. He was sleeping, resting. Overexertion, just a bit more and he could end up in a coma. What the hell did he do? This morning she saw him in the high spirits and in perfect shape.
"He should be fine, Sakura," Said the woman, watching the street below from the window.
"Tsunade-sama, Danzo-sama," She turned to her master. ",When the attack and evacuation started I was here in a hospital. What happened?"
Tsunade kept quiet. She didn't know how to form the words so that it didn't put Naruto in trouble. It was surreal; with what they saw they could easily accuse Naruto of being a traitor, or it could mean that Itachi controlled him through the unknown technique. It could mean anything, but all Mangekyo wielders were and are enemies to Konoha. So in any way, it couldn't end well for the boy.
"We don't know yet. But we intend to find out. Inoichi, if you don't mind," Answered Danzo, patiently waiting for secrets to unfold.
The man standing by the wall nodded, and moved to stand by the head of the bed, which let him see the face of the blond turned upside down. His expression was peaceful and calm, giving him the serene look. He inwardly wondered if there was ever any evil inside of this child beside the fox. He wouldn't believe there was any treachery unless he saw this with his eyes. Taking a deep breath in, he made eleven hand seals and placed his fingers to the temples of the blonde head. He focused on connecting their minds and let his mind sink into unknown, travelling to the present and the past, in search of answers.
Flashback, over a year ago
They travelled through the Rock country, bickering as usually about their routine. The white haired man had a grimace on his face as his upper lip deformed and his brows raised in undefined expression.
"I told you no ninjutsu before you learn taijutsu. You're not talented in that field anyway!"
His blonde companion, the young student he took under his wing, lifted his arms to heavens, staring there and loudly asking why his teachers were stupid problematic perverts that didn't teach him anything useful. He made unsatisfied sounds from his mouth and kept mumbling, scratching the back of his neck. His knew black and orange outfit didn't make him seem older or more mature. His mutterings after two minutes were the cause of his teacher's annoyed grimace. That and he didn't want to travel to Rock, but had to.
They entered the thicket some twenty minutes ago and it didn't look like they will move out in less than two hours. Better travel unseen in the almost hostile country.
He frowned, feeling the familiar chakra. Not taking risks he stopped and grabbed his student's shoulder. The blond turned to look at him but he paid attention to surroundings, searching for the source of chakra he noticed.
Finding it, he hesitated for a moment, but against his better judgment, he started to walk to it with his student following behind.
What they came upon was unexpected scene. Crawling on the ground, alone and injured, was Uchiha Itachi. After the shock of seeing it, the hermit gathered himself.
"Well well…" he grinned and stroked his chin. "If it isn't Uchiha Itachi. What got you, kid?"He asked making a smart face. The traitor of the leaf village scowled and attempted to rise from the ground. He failed, and the blood dropped on the earth from the wound as he twisted gritting his teeth and gripped his side. The blond had widened eyes and stared at the sight.
The older ninja got serious and considered the options. They could go their own way leaving him here.
They could kill him. That… was probably the most logical action. He is the enemy and he is after Naruto. They could stop him now, while he's weak and unarmed. That was easier than fighting him in a real battle. One Akatsuki member less. They're lucky to stumble over occasion.
"We have to get rid of you, Itachi. Sooner or later you'd be too much of a trouble,"Voiced the man getting closer. His student gulped and stared at him from behind.
"Wha… you want to kill him?!"
Jiraiya turned and quizzically looked at the blond,"Yeah," he made another step to the lost and angry criminal. "Don't want to look then turn away," added Jiraya.
He didn't know why but the look of Itachi hurt him. The man was so powerful, unbeaten and smart that the picture of him showing weakness was unbearable. There was just something lacking in that picture, something that should be familiar. Maybe it was history. It always says about heroes and the strongest, and describes as they die by enemy's hand. Like Yondaime, who died fighting Kyuubi, like Sandaime, who died fighting Orochimaru. He wanted to be the strong shinobi too. But he didn't want to die by the hands of bystanders, when he crawls on the enemy territory injured. It wasn't right, to die just because instead of helping you, somebody wants you dead. Maybe there also was this little voice inside that said that Itachi was supposed to be killed by his sibling… He shouldn't die like this. Like a dog.
"You're doing it all wrong, ero-sennin," He loudly and stubbornly complained. The man grimaced irritated and still holding a kunai in his right hand turned to face his student, and the ends of his long hair swiftly whipped.
Naruto scratched his head."We shouldn't kill him. Let's help,"
The older man stared at him dumbfounded,"Say what!? Are you serious! He and his little organization of psychopaths are hunting you down and want you dead! We have to make sure there are less of them!"
"So what? He's injured! Unarmed! Right now he's not a shinobi but a fucking dying man!"
"Shut up and help him!"
"Want him saved? Do it yourself Naruto! I'm not going to have anything to do with this shit!
The man on the ground watched the exchange stupefied and unblinkingly, but his wounds reminded about themselves and he coughed blood, stopping the two from shouting. It caused them to look at him and after muttering a few curses the blond strode to him and turned him on his back, at which he hissed from pain.
Seeing the damage the blond gulped but he gathered himself, seeing Itachi's pained look. He didn't make much of the sound, but he couldn't keep his face stoic, and that said something… He took the bandages and water from his pouch and cleaned the wound. Then he wrapped the bandage over it and a piece of the reaped out from the cloak cloth to add it some strength. Not wasting time he pulled the dying shinobi over his shoulder and started to walk. Jiraiya observed his student with a shaking of his head.
They travelled in that fashion for about four hours, before they found a hotel to stop at. At that point the nuke nin was unconscious and Naruto placed him in his room, where he changed the bandages and sewed the wounds.
Two days later
He woke up feeling the discomfort. Opening his eyes he saw the blond Jinchuuriki sprinkling his wound with something green and at the look disgusting. Wait… What Naruto is doing here…? Where? The last thing he remembered… He and Kisame were fighting the four tailed beast's Jinchuuriki and were defeated. He was injured and he lost the sight of his partner. He was found by Jiraya… And Naruto decided to help him…
"Woke up?" Itachi stared at the blond, who not receiving the reply got back to redoing the wrappings. He was extremely careful and it looked like he was doing it for a second or a third time. No surprise here. They were in a simple hotel room, presumably not too far from the incident. Two beds, a table, few shelves and the bathroom; a wide window with the white curtains…
"I suck at medic jutsu so I heal you the old way. It takes longer but sensei refused to even look at your wound. Don't worry… I know something 'bout herbs, so you're not gonna die,"
His speech followed quite the long silence and he covered his patient with sheets after finishing the procedure.
"Why are you doing this," the man asked not showing any emotions. His question stopped the boy in his tracks and his eyes danced around the room not finding the right answer. Itachi patiently waited observing his actions. Finally, the blue pools resembling the sky stared at him and he couldn't look away.
"I'm not sure. I just think it was unfair," He said and sighed ",You have to eat something; I'll get you soup," He muttered and with that, strode to the door.
The raven haired man glanced at the window but hearing the steps halt he turned to look at the blond, who stopped by the door but turned around and slowly strode to the window. On his way to it he pointedly looked at Itachi and then he closed it. After that, he reached his bed and rummaged in his backpack. After a moment he took out a piece of paper and smirking got close to the man.
"I know what you're thinking. Don't be stupid, I'll be back,"
With that he put the paper on the man's forehead and Itachi instantly fell asleep.
When he woke up again it was with a headache and a smell of food. He grimaced at that, feeling a slight nausea.
"Not ramen but I doubt you would mind," He heard the blond say and sleepily opened his eyelids. Naruto sat on the bed he was placed on, on his left to be precise, and was checking… or something the bowl of soup with chopsticks. "I know you'll get hurt with your wound if you rise so I am kind and gonna feed you, open your mouth,"
Now that was low.
The blond caught something with chopsticks and raised it directing the food to the man's mouth, which was shut.
"What? There's no poison… If I wanted you dead you wouldn't be here,"
Itachi didn't listen. He was offended. Who did he think he was? A five year old?
"That is insulting, Naruto-kun. Do you want to do this just to boast later you fed an Aka-," He couldn't finish the sentence because the chopsticks appeared in his mouth and he was forced to chew and swallow.
The black eyes of his patient were glaring with passion and he was reminded of times when Sasuke presented him with that famous look. It happened quite often, because Naruto often gave his teammate a reason to do so. This bit of nostalgia made him smile and he happily picked a vegetable in a bowl with the sticks.
The food was presented to him once again and he made a vow not to open his mouth.
The blond raised a brow and then his smile became creepy. "Oh, don't play a mister bad with me. You think you're stubborn? I can tell you a joke," His statement did not impress a criminal.
"You will laugh," The blond added.
A moment later the words registered in the man's mind and his expression turned into fear. There should absolutely be NO witness of Uchiha Itachi laughing! A smirk, a scowl, a glare is fine, but laugh?! Was he provoking him? Mocking him? This kid is a little demon!
The blond smirked and there was a glint in his eyes,"Ok, so, there was once this day Tsunade was in the hot springs and Jira…" Before he finished Itachi's eyes impossibly widened and he hurriedly opened his mouth. The blond put the food inside and grinned. "Good boy,"
Itachi's glare intensified.
Another piece of food traveled in his mouth and he angrily swallowed. He willingly opened his mouth now but showed he didn't like it. He was almost stripped of pride.
"Don't want me to continue, eh? Too bad, that was a good story,"
In silence, Itachi ate the soup and the blond put the bowl away when he finished. Naruto stood up and picked up his headband and jacket from his bed.
"Are you doing this only for Sasuke to kill me later?"the man asked.
"No,"Replied his savior putting on the jacket and sighing, he placed the piece of paper on the man's forehead.
That day he trained and as usually he and Jiraiya fought about learning jutsus, adding to their quarrel a topic of him saving a serial murderer. His teacher was completely against the idea and repeated that they should kill him or at least leave him there in a hotel and disappear from this country before other members of that organization came to visit them. He couldn't understand why Naruto would save the enemy knowing that it will do no good. And he couldn't stand the thought of that killer sleeping in the same room with his student. That was too dangerous. That was why he was behind the door or the window most of the time. The boy's heart was too big. It will make him very happy one day, or make him suffer for the rest of his days… Jiraiya tried to convince himself that there WAS at least one positive thing about the killer. He had a pride. And that meant that he wouldn't hurt Naruto while the boy took care of him. And he will remember that he owes a debt. And he will pay back in the future. The older man knew that there were things he can't understand, he also knew that Naruto had a gift of convincing, saving and changing people. He only prayed that gift worked now.
He heard the rumors of the blond Jinchuuriki claiming to bring Uchiha Sasuke back to the village one day. He wanted to save his teammate, his friend, and more than often, people said that he will never be able to do this. Because he's weak, naïve, stupid and irresponsible. Because people didn't want to believe him, because people didn't believe in him. He could call it a pressure… Everyone expected you to fail. They don't have faith in you and they are convinced your acts have no good intentions behind it. It must be hard… living to prove they're wrong and you're right; living to go through the obstacles with only stubbornness and faith to aid you. Maybe he himself partly knows how it is… Itachi got over his stubbornness and decided that he had time to get to know the blond better. He was curious.
The next day
They walked through the town in disguise. It wouldn't do, to travel with a missing nin through the main street in daylight. So Jiraiya got shorter and older; he wore a wide brown cloak with a hood, looking like a poor and lost old man. The blond turned into brunet and his eyes became green. He supported the young man who leaned on him walking with difficulty. That was a pretty man with the short black hair. He didn't look like shinobi, rather like another poor traveler. The black and red cloak was buried behind the hotel, so who was who was hard to tell. They had to get further from the place where they found Itachi, to make sure they don't meet other Akatsuki members on their way.
Jiraya refused to look at his student. That morning they fought over Itachi, again. He wanted to ask him questions, maybe find out something about the group, especially their abilities. Of course Uchiha wouldn't ever speak so he planned to interrogate the kid using some toad clan's special techniques, but the blond would have none of it. It even appears he cares for his patient too much. He ended their 'conversation' stating that if Itachi wanted, he'd tell them about the group himself, and in that way protected him from Jiraya's methods. He was annoyed with his behavior, but in one thing Naruto was right. He did say he didn't want to have anything to do with it, so starting now was his mistake. But he'll be damned if he says that aloud. He inwardly snickered remembering how they left the rooms. He refused to help, again. Naruto was left to resort to his own knowledge of illusions, changing Itachi's look; the man was still too weak to use his chakra. The funniest was Itachi's face when the blond suggested turning him into female, promising that no one would ever guess that it was a male. Sure Naruto could do this, but Itachi subtly gave him some tips on what to do and that idea was discarded. Too bad, he wondered how that deadly shinobi would look in a female skin…
They entered their shared room and the blond led Itachi to the bathroom.
"You'll shower and then we'll change the bandages. You need any help?"
The raven haired man sighed,"No,"And turning away closed the door. Deep inside he tried to remember when was the last time anyone cared for him the way the blond did. He was still very young when he joined the high classed missions and hunted, captured and killed people. He quickly became an adult and no one looked at him like at the child anymore. Even for his family, he became a perfect shinobi, a machine, an example. He wasn't human anymore. And he did what everyone expected of him. Perfection. He believed in it so hard that when he discovered the secrets of politics and his clan his whole perfect world shattered. He came out of it lost and lonely, and there was practically no one he could hold on to. Nothing mattered for him. Everything was false. He left with a tiny thread of his brother's hatred connecting him to his village, and he kept looking behind, despite him moving forward. He considered himself a grown up man, that didn't need stupid things like money, power, and women. But that little feeling of warmth that spread through him every time the blond treated him like a child was unique. It was like being cared for… by a mother, or a close friend, who knows you better then you do. Who knows that you lie when you say you're fine. Who knows that you're awake when you pretend to sleep. And who forgives you, despite knowing of the things you did. It almost made him… happy. He got used to people being scared of him, and treating him with fear and respect. So when someone you're supposed to kill and who knows of it casually asks if you need any help when in a bathroom, you raise a brow or you laugh.
The next day, evening
The blond Jinchuuriki cleaned the wound and discretely watched and counted the scars on the man's ribs, chest and stomach. He didn't know what he felt. He wasn't surprised to see that, definitely. He wasn't disgusted or anything. He just… thought that there was a lot this man had to go through. Many of them must have been painful. They were the traces, the memories of his battles and to think that someone so young got over that many was fascinating. He was a witness of these new scars forming on his body.
"I heard that Orochimaru plans to get control over Sasuke's body soon,"Surprisingly Itachi started a conversation. It seemed he wouldn't ever speak if he didn't have to, but he just changed that. The blond glanced at the man and started to cover the wound with a cream.
"He'll never be able to do that. Sasuke won't let him,"He said doubtlessly.
"Isn't it a part of the deal? Training in exchange for his body? You say Sasuke doesn't keep his word,"
"That I said,"The blond narrowed his eyes focusing on the skin of the man,"The bastard never keeps his promises,"
Itachi raised a brow. That was just sweet. In one sentence Naruto described the nature of the every Uchiha (here he remembered his own words, "Maybe next time Sasuke,", "Not now, maybe later, Sasuke,", "I don't have time today, but I promise tomorrow,"). No one has ever managed that before.
"He said he'd rebuild a clan, severe the ties, give his body to that snake and other stuff. But you know what? I think that deep inside he's a softie. He'll run away and hide somewhere. He may find you and fight you, but he wouldn't kill ya,"The blond continued, shaking his head. "And then he will come back and behave as if nothing happened,"
"As if nothing happened,"The man repeated. Naruto looked at him for a minute and shrugged.
"Want my opinion? You're a softie too,"The blond said.
The dead silence was calm after that, and Itachi only raised his brows. He couldn't smirk or scowl because that would mean that Naruto was right. He was just something else. Who says to a killer that he's a… 'Softie'? Someone as stupid and brave as this boy. And you know what? He'll get away with it. Just like he gets away with calling Tsunade baachan, Jiraya erosennin, Kakashi Cyclops, and the council old geezers.
"Don't make that face; I know you won't deny that. Just so you know, the scary man is erosennin. When he's serious and that idiotic attitude lands in the bin, you don't want to get on his bad side,"The blond muttered wrapping Itachi in bandages. The man gazed at him forming calculations.
"And what if once Sasuke finds me, I kill him? Will you still think of me that way?"The man inquired seriously.
The question caused Naruto to stop what he was doing. Really, what if he saves this man now and he kills Sasuke later? That would mean that he was responsible for the death of his friend. But would Itachi really kill his brother? Could he?
"I… don't know,"He got back to the work, though now his moves were reserved,"Why would you?"
"Why wouldn't I?"He said hiding every emotion, causing him to look icily cold and intimidating. That tone sent shivers down Naruto's spine. Was this an act or did he just see the real Itachi? He thought back on the day he saw him crawling on the earth, bleeding and coughing, when he had no strength to keep the façade. He was dying then, and his eyes didn't lie. He wasn't a heartless killer. He was a human being, a man. He wasn't scared of death. He wanted to live to… to do something. There are people that live for themselves and they are heartless egoistic assholes that do everything to stay alive. And there are people that live for others and they are caring and kind and they die, protecting someone they care for. Itachi rather belonged to the second part. Though… there could always be the third…
The blond gathered the medicine and other items and stood up. "You… could have killed him years ago. But you didn't. There must have been a reason he's still alive for. And something tells me… that reason is still there,"He turned and left, leaving Itachi to ponder over the things that were said.
That night Naruto didn't put the sleeping seal on him, because when he got back to the room, the man was asleep. He shrugged it off and got to rest himself, never noticing Itachi open his eyes minutes later.
A bit of soft moonlight entered the room and the ends of the blue curtains of the wide opened window shifted slightly, as if touched by the hand of the wind. The silence filled the air, and the occupants of the nearby rooms slept too, because there was no sound from behind the walls or the outside. The man sat on the edge of the bed, gazing down at the face of his savior.
The white light only partly lit the man's face and hands, that he kept on his lap, making him look… clean. The only sound in the room was Naruto's breathing, and the man observed as his chest rose… and fell. He was completely still, and he didn't want to wake him. He wanted to watch. Maybe… he wanted to touch. Just to make sure it wasn't a dream.
His eyes were sad, and even aged, as his slim and long fingers shifted only slightly, without a sound, over his own knees, making the moonlight cover them with the soft silver glow. This teen saved more than his life, healed more than his body and saw more than his face. He saved his dreams and goals, because he let him live. He healed his soul, because he reminded him that he is still human, and that he's not alone and that his dreams are reality.
And above all that, he took a look inside of him, and his gaze reached his heart, where his feelings were hidden in the darkness, so deep that he himself didn't dare to look. He knew that it's not easy, to see inside someone's soul, and it's not pretty, if that soul is lost and ugly, because it's fed with hatred, bitterness and pain.
What did Naruto see inside his heart? Did he see that he still cares for his younger brother? Did he see his loneliness? He lifted his hands, pressed his palms together and leaning on his knees with elbows, put the palms to his face, his chin, lips and nose. He observed as Naruto turned in bed, on his back, and unconsciously faced the man sitting nearby.
He observed his skin, tanned and smooth, his light blonde hairs, that even in the gloom, added this place warmth. He observed as the eyes behind the eyelids shifted, looking left and right, causing the lashes to flicker. The whisker marks at night were darker, crossing the boy's cheeks confidently, and adding some mystery to his look. Itachi's eyes looked on the floor. …Naruto was lonely too.
Two days later
The blond sat on his bed, reading over some scrolls and frowning over the lines. He wore a white t-shirt and blue shorts, surprisingly his looks lacked orange color that morning. His headband was on the pillow, and his shiny yellow locks fell down on his face. His right knee was raised, and his right hand leaned on it, making him look completely relaxed. Few other scrolls, bigger and smaller, were on his bed and by it on the floor.
"Is that true that Sharingan lets the wielder not only mimic but learn the moves?"He casually asked, not looking up. What was he reading?
"Why do you ask?"Itachi was leaning with his back on the headboard of the bed, holding in his hands his slashed Konoha headband and caressing it tenderly. He lazily watched Naruto.
"Just curious,"He picked up another scroll and opened it, searching for something,"The pervert said that Orochimaru wants Sharingan because his dream was to learn every jutsu that exists in this world. So, that made me think, how can you remember that much? I heard that Kakashi-sensei knew over a thousand, but I saw him use only few. Then, what's the deal?"
Itachi tilted his head,"Sharingan lets the user analyze and memorize what he sees. The user may not use all of this, but he will always remember. You can call it photographic memory. The eye helps understand what you see and keep it in your memories. Anytime the user can search through his memories for a suitable technique, be it nin, tai or genjutsu. Then the deal is to be able to use it, be it the suitable amount of chakra or a physical state,"
The blond was still for a minute, then nodded,"Yeah, like you can remember the technique, but if that was a bloodline… you'll never be able to use it… Interesting,"
The soft silence fell on them as the blond continued to read and frown. Jiraya left with the sunrise, claiming to have an important meeting. He promised to be back afternoon. They stayed in the same hotel, but they will leave it tomorrow. Changing the place was a routine. Naruto got used to it, but he still complained, that was just in his nature.
"What do you read?"Itachi was bored. The least the blond could do was talk to him. He was used to Kisame bubbling for hours as they traveled, so this little bit of silence was unsettling. Jiraya probably taught Naruto that silence was important for shinobi to survive. But it doesn't mean that he has to deal with it in boredom.
"Some stuff on chakra control, I suck with it so ero-sennin doesn't want to teach me ninjutsu,"
"Haven't you learned the tree and water walking?"Itachi raised a brow.
"I did. But the fox's chakra gets in the way of my training. I can't get rid of it,"The blond scowled and then grimaced throwing the scroll in his hands away. He sighed and lay on his back.
"Maybe you should learn to work with it and control it. You can't get rid of it,"
"Easier said than done. Maybe sealing it completely away is a better idea,"He mumbled.
"You must learn to control it; it is a part of you. One day you will need it,"Itachi said softly. Uchiha giving advice… that was new.
Later that day
The blond stood in the entrance to the bathroom, watching as Itachi carefully shaved. He had a small scroll on him since the beginning; it contained small trivial things like soap with berry fragrance, scissors, black nail polish, a small silver blade he used for shaving and even threads and needles. Itachi glanced at him from time to time, not saying anything. He saw him in reflection of the mirror, as the blond leaned on the door frame; his right hand was raised and pressed to the wall, supporting him. He was quiet, and didn't ask questions. And he seemed to be sad.
Itachi rinsed his face, and stoically faced his own reflection.
"We're leaving with the sunrise; me and Jiraya,"
Itachi kept quiet, his gaze travelled from his own wet face to Naruto. What could he say to that? Be careful on the road? See you around? He was Itachi for God's sake. Uchiha Itachi rarely speaks. Uchiha doesn't show emotion. And doesn't care.
"And no, I won't tell you where we'll go,"The blond said with a smile, attempting to make a joke. Itachi didn't react to that, so Naruto's smile fell. He was serious again and with a last look at the man, he turned and entered the room.
For a few long minutes, the man stared at the place, where the blond stood. He looked at it through the mirror, wondering if he felt anything. And he did. He knew that he befriended the boy. He knew that he could spend that way weeks and months, and he wouldn't get tired or bored. It almost hurt, that they are parting. Naruto will train with his sensei, meet other people that will be his friends too, and Itachi will be nothing more than his friend's brother he saved on the way, one day. He will be one of many; a man that doesn't matter because he's not so special to Naruto. He's just a… memory. But… why should he be anything more? At least, the teen will remember him; even though he's the enemy. Isn't it beautiful? To be looked upon like a human being, not a heartless killer? The man looked down and after blinking two times he reached for a towel and dried his already dry face.
With the sun rising on the horizon they parted. They did not exchange words. No 'goodbye' or a simple 'thank you'. Silently, Jiraya started to walk away, leaving his student and the raven behind, and for a minute, Itachi stared at the blond not willing to show what he felt. It made him look sad, and if you looked closely, apologetic. Seeing that, Naruto wanted to somehow fill the tense silence, but couldn't find his voice. Itachi sadly smiled, he looked down on the ground and turning around, left.
A few months later
They entered a small town searching for a medic. Kisame constantly scowled. He knew not to say a thing but he had to express his distress somehow. His partner harshly coughed and his palm, which was pressed to his lips, was covered in blood. He used mangekyo Sharingan to its full extent again and his health worsened. It had something to do with the bloodline, he knew. Itachi said that there's nothing to cure him, but he needed some serious painkillers.
With every usage of his special abilities his life span shortened, and he was troubled with the speed his state got worse with. If that continues, he will not have enough time left to… He blinked realizing that his plans had a less chance of coming true.
They found a medic in a questionable place, some bar by the redlight district, but they couldn't risk appearing somewhere where people would immediately recognize them and sell that information further. The price for those pills was high, but that didn't matter. He swallowed one and waited for its effects. They were almost instant.
He relaxed and noticed the pain receding. Then he felt a bit of pleasure. It wasn't physical, because physically he didn't feel anything. It was… psychological pleasure. He suddenly stopped caring if he died or not. He stopped worrying over burdens on his shoulders. He stopped thinking for quite long. His mind rested, finally, and he let it wander wherever it wanted. So instead of analyzing things as it usually did, it presented him with his own memories. Fortunately, they didn't bring sadness and misery with them, even though he knew some of them were just painful. He was drunk with the feeling of freedom and simplicity. There was nothing he cared for, and nothing he wanted. He existed without bonds, strings, fears and pain for those few hours under the drug influence. That was wonderful. That was easy. That was good.
The last moments of the drug effect filled his mind with the memory of the teen that saved him. He didn't share with anyone about it. As far as anybody knew, he was injured in a battle and found a shelter in the nearby town where he took care of his wounds in a hospital, using illusions to make sure no one ever saw there Uchiha Itachi. Then he traveled at the slow pace back to the base, stopping here and there to gather some information. Everyone was satisfied with it. He decided at some point, that he will not ponder over what happened, but that memory haunted him at unexpected times. Such as this. He had no feelings about it now, but the teen was kind to him. And he was kind to his brother. He never ever said a bad word about him, and that wasn't because of some pity. They were friends. He didn't judge him, even though Sasuke became a traitor. Naruto wanted to save him. He wanted to bring him back and help him. Itachi wanted to help him too, but his time was getting short. He lost this precious thing bit by bit, day by day and as Sasuke was getting stronger, he was getting weaker. His sight was… poor. He inwardly smiled knowing that Naruto's choice of word would be 'shitty'. What a pity.
Can he find out what Pein and Madara are up to and stop them, keep tabs on 'root' and Danzou and let Sasuke find him and fight him? Can he pull this off? He may have not enough time for that. But there's no one to do this for him. Akatsuki and Danzou maybe are not as important as his brother… But the only person he knows that will care for Sasuke after things said and done is Naruto. But Naruto is still not strong enough, and he has his own problems. And Madara will not let him slip, it is even possible, that after he dies, Madara will seek his brother to fill in the hole of organization, and convince him to join. That was so complicated; he has to form a plan. He has to ensure Sasuke's safety…
Three weeks have passed before he found Jiraya and Naruto and found a chance to visit. They traveled through the Thunder country and under the excuse of meeting with his informant Itachi parted with Kisame for a few days. That was a risky move but he could always make a believable story to explain himself or simply erase unwanted memories if he was spotted by the wrong eyes.
It was the late evening, and the main street was filled with people. The small town had a festival opened; and it was their seventh year of independence. The cloudy sky didn't take away a mood of celebration and people laughed, smiled and spent their free time together. If there were any shinobi they were under disguise, and it was easy to hide in the crowds. He didn't risk though, and his looks didn't differ from the young people around. Young lady with long brown hair with the white flowers in it, brown eyes, of average height would gather attention, but the right one, among men. Black dress reaching knees with the long sleeves was woman's choice of clothing for the evening, making men glance at her with interest. So Naruto was right. Change of gender was the easiest way. And truthfully, it didn't hurt his pride. After all, shinobi must be deceiving.
He spotted the white head from afar, seeing as it turned left and right, looking for a bar with lots of beautiful ladies. Finally, the older man turned left by a fountain and entered a bar that was in the building covered with flowers, and which insides couldn't be seen from the outside. Waiting for about five minutes, the brunette casually strode there and entered. The place was simple, dark wooden and had a wide assortment of alcohol. The windows were large but closed, and it was relatively quiet. Not looking for long, the girl walked to the occupied table.
"Well, join me,"Jiraya spoke without looking up from menus. The brunette complied and sat in front of him. The waitress received an order and a moment later brought the bottle of sake. Having the filled cup in his hand, Jiraya finally looked up and stared at the guest.
"So, what are you here for, Itachi?"
The man dispelled the illusion and faced the hermit in all his cloaked, black and red glory. The small smile the female sported disappeared and was replaced with an emotionless expression Uchiha Itachi was known for.
"There is something I wish to talk to you about, Jiraya-san,"He replied softly. The older man shrugged and drank sake till the last drop in the cup. He slowly filled it once again, and gazed at the visitor.
"What is it," he asked almost not interested. His reaction did not offend Itachi, who reached inside the cloak and took out the piece of paper. He looked at it for some time, and then unfolded it and placed it on the table, under Jiraya's eyes, who pressed the cup to his lips. Uncaringly, the hermit glanced down on it and within a second his eyes widened and he spit the drink in surprise, choking. Through the ordeal Itachi calmly sat in his chair and observed him.
The man gathered himself and looked up at the missing nin stupefied.
"What is the meaning of this?" He asked pointing with his gaze at the paper, where the picture of a seal was drawn. Itachi calmly continued to stare at the hermit.
"I believe you already know what I want to do with this,"
Jiraya stared. Then he drank the sake and putting the cup back on the table, picked up the piece of paper. He checked it frowning and scowling down at it.
"Where the hell did you find it?" He asked somewhat angered.
"I found it years ago, in the family archive. I did not pay it attention then, but I remembered it," Was the monotone reply.
"So you know what it was used for. The seal was placed on two people that wished for their souls to be inseparable. When one dies, its soul transfers to the still living part, so that one day, they could reach the heavens together,"Said the man, looking for reaction on Itachi's face,"It was usually used on the married couple, and placed on the wedding day. It guaranteed that even after the death of one, they would still be together. Rarely, it was placed on the family members, parents and their children, or siblings," He added, grimacing.
The raven haired man sat quietly, showing that he knew what it was used for.
"The last time it was used was thirty years ago. Since then, people forgot about the thing. Don't get me wrong, I see modifications you made, and I see what you planned, but… why would you do that…?"Continued the man, completely lost.
"I have my reasons,"Replied Itachi after the long and heavy silence. Jiraya filled his cup and sighing drank it. He knew that no torture would force Uchiha to speak so he just let the matter drop for now and inspected the picture once more.
Soul sealing was a rare and complicated process; it required precision and knowledge of this art, as well as reasoning behind it. Basically, the seal was identical to its original version, but physical aspects of its effects, added by Itachi himself, were never used before. It was dangerous, it was risky. But if it was done the right way… the power it could give the brat would be immense. But... nothing in this world is easy.
"What is the price for that, Itachi? What do you want, coming to me with that offer?"
Uchiha smirked,"I want you to examine the seal, and if there are any, correct the mistakes,"His answer followed the silent minute.
"And?"The hermit asked, waiting for more.
"That is all,"
The white haired man considered asking 'Are you sure?' but decided against it. His student once again hit the jackpot and he will keep his mouth shut. The least he could do was make sure things went smooth… He leaned on the table with elbows and let his left hand cover his mouth partly, in concentration. He stared at the piece of paper in that manner for ten full minutes, before a pencil appeared between the fingers of his right hand, and he started to correct the mistakes.
He inwardly smiled at the irony, placing the small piece of paper with the sleeping seal on the forehead of the blond, who slept on his back, entangled in sheets. He remembered when the boy placed it on him to make sure he slept and didn't run away. Now was his turn.
It was late, and both he and Jiraya silently observed the sleeping boy in the dark room. From the outside they could still hear the joy of ongoing festival, as people still celebrated. The sky was almost black, and it was the sign of a soon starting salute. Itachi gracefully sat on the side of the bed and looked closely at the face of the boy. Awhile ago, he asked what he would do, if Sasuke attacked Konoha. Will he protect the village, or will he protect his friend? He just said he would do both… It surprised the man. If he was still the shinobi of Konoha, he'd say he would choose his duty. After all, he was trained as the perfect shinobi, and the perfect shinobi has no heart and no feelings, which means he has no friends, no family, nor attachments. But Uzumaki Naruto is different. If you want to know the boy better, look at his favorite technique. The clone technique lets the user do more than one thing at the same time. It means… that Naruto will look at things in the different way. He won't ask himself who he must choose to save, or who he saves first. He will think of who must be saved by the real him, or his clone.
Itachi stared at the blond a bit longer, and then thinking that his decision's been made, he calmly pulled the sheets down, revealing the shirtless chest of the teen. Jiraya raised a brow when the man's pale fingers, with nails short and polished black, touched the skin of the boy, just above his heart, where the seal was meant to be placed. The fingers traced the lines that were yet to be drawn, as if caressing the place where the man's soul will land after death. The touch was gentle, while the man's eyes were hiding care, the smallest of fears and curiosity.
"If you're not sure, this is the last moment to back out,"Voiced the older shinobi. Jiraya stood leaning on the wall in the gloom, his arms were crossed as he observed Itachi. He knew that the raven haired man will not change his mind, but he felt obliged to ask. "You will never be able to control Naruto. Your soul will have no consciousness, as it will become a part of him, with your memories, feelings, secrets and abilities."
The man just smiled, and the lights and the sounds of the salute reached them through the window, lightening the darkness they were in, letting both of them see the room clearer. The toad summoner sighed and closed his eyes; and pushing himself off the wall, he made a step further.
End of chapter 1
A. N. flashback isn't over yet so the next chapter will start with the continuation of memories Inoichi's looking through while using his technique.