At last, I finally got the nerve to write again. All it took was an OTP.

The title has nothing to do with the story. It is a tribute to the SAT-words I should have been studying when I wrote this. I am so going to fail my first choice medical school at this rate.

This is inspired by "As Far As Innocence Goes" by Aixyutin. Read it! It is fantastic. The Itachi is awesome.

Pairings: Itachi/Hinata

Warnings: Possible spoilers? I don't know! I've been keeping up with Naruto through AU fanfiction.

Disclaimer: Not mine.


EPITOME

Epitome (n.) – a perfect example, embodiment


One day, Hiruzen Sarutobi bowed.

In front of an entire hidden village, the Professor, the strongest man to ever carry the title Hokage, fell to his knees and asked for pardon. His army of shinobi watched as he beseeched Uchiha Fugaku, the entire Uchiha clan, to accept his offering of peace. In return for their continued loyalty, the Uchiha would be granted the power and influence they once held. The ANBU surveillance would be lifted and the Uchiha would realize a greater freedom than they had in years.

The Third could feel the blatant disapproval of the Elders through his hat. It had been a painfully difficult decision to make: as a leader, he was expected to viciously stamp out any threat to the village and as a student of the Senju, it was a metaphorical slap in both his sensei's faces to side with the Uchiha. But, if a certain young man was to be believed, to order the massacre of the Leaf's greatest clan would be to play right into Madara's hands.

Now, more than ever, the Leaf could not afford to lose the Uchiha. It had already lost its share of great ninja – the Fourth, the White Fang, Orochimaru, Jiraiya and Tsunade to an extent – and Sarutobi refused to lose more. If the Uchiha were eliminated, the other clans would start fortifying their defenses and break away. It would be suicide for a hidden village to be divided.

Uchiha Fugaku nodded to his kinsmen, almost in relief, and beckoned the Hokage forward.

One night, a rebellion was averted and Uchiha Itachi became free.


It was without a fair amount of gossip that the Uchiha prodigy was removed from the ANBU at the Hokage's orders. The Uchiha in the village council certainly raised a stink about it until the Third was forced to explain himself.

Sarutobi shrewdly began by listing all of Itachi's achievements, his brilliance, his power and then turned it into a discussion of how genius shinobi who became too powerful too fast and ended up as traitors, basketcases or dead too young.

He would keep to himself his thoughts on the young man who, only six years ago, had asserted his willingness to sacrifice all familial ties for his village. And while loyalty was certainly an admirable trait, and one he always encouraged, he was strongly reminded of another prodigy who used his life, his wife and his own son to protect the village. He can only ask for such a sacrifice once and he does not want to end up with another Minato.

He will give Itachi a chance to be selfish this time and make him realize that self-sacrifice is not always an answer.

As a consequence, Itachi ended up Itachi-sensei.

He would have preferred staying in ANBU.


His first – and last – team composed of Inuzuka Kiba, Aburame Shino and Hyuuga Hinata. And though he was disappointed that Sasuke wasn't on his team, he wasn't quite displeased.

Inuzuka was loud and stupidly reckless for a genin. But he was fast, keen and stubbornly loyal. Itachi didn't know much about ninja dogs and made a note to himself to follow up on that. Ditto on bugs. Aburame Shino was quiet and secretive. He was also strong, stealthy and tolerant. Hyuuga Hinata was quiet and painfully shy. But she had excellent chakra control, good form and, more importantly, determination. He passes all three – their clans would already have taught them enough skills for genin level.

They were good, innocent kids, despite their background. He was going to have to hone them into weapons – fast, deadly and accurate – and that irritated him. His only consolation was that they were also impressionable kids. He would teach them to fight for peace and Konoha. He will whip these kids into something great and he vowed that none of them will ever turn traitor.

Uchiha Itachi had never failed in anything his whole life. He wasn't starting now.


When Sasuke comes home that night complaining of his lazy-ass sensei and obnoxious teammates, Itachi is not surprised. The Third had always been good for retribution.

Kakashi's chronic lateness and tendency to read Icha-Icha in the presence of women had landed him with his admittedly bratty otouto, a fangirl and Naruto Uzumaki, kyuubi vessel and dead-last ninja. Itachi is a genius – he knows exactly why people are so cold to the blond boy. He's never had a chance to meet this Uzumaki, but considering his parentage (again, Itachi is not stupid), Sasuke may have met his match. Except for the fangirl, Itachi is almost jealous of Kakashi.

Within three days, Sasuke asks him for extra training because he nearly failed Kakashi's bell test. Itachi tell him 'next time'. Sasuke glares at Team 10 whenever they pass each other on a mission.

Itachi wonders about his brother complex.


Itachi feels his fists clench angrily when he watches Hyuuja Neji beat up his cousin in the preliminaries. He does not want to deal with this right now. Not when Orochimaru might be back in Konoha and after the sharingan, not when Itachi's heard of a possible Sand-Sound alliance against the Leaf.

Hinata had held her own against the Hyuuga prodigy, a testament to Itachi's superior teaching. But Neji was at the peak of his hatred and radiating killer intent while Hinata... Hinata hesitated to harm her cousin. Itachi had warned her about this weakness but she apparently hadn't listened.

Damn stubbornness.

But her cousin wasn't much better. Letting his emotions get to him like that… and he was supposed to be a genius.

Itachi's eyes narrowed. Even the most brilliant of shinobi leave themselves to this hatred that breeds war… Itachi was dangerously annoyed. He had hoped Hyuuga Neji was better than this, when his father had willingly given his own life to prevent a war with Cloud, a man Itachi respected.

But, enough, Itachi called for Hinata to stop before her cousin killed her. She stopped, but apparently the cousins had several last words for each other. He'd had to jump in inevitably.


In the finals, he'd had to jump in a second time, cursing internally all the way. Damn damn damn!

Just when the Leaf had achieved a relative peace, just when people were beginning to let go of their hatred, the bastard Orochimaru had to return and his brother was in pursuit the Shikaku jinchuuriki and its siblings. It was exactly at these times he wished he had the Mangekyou.

The Third was fighting Orochimaru. His kinsmen and the rest of Konoha shinobi were protecting the village and its civilians. His own team was out there somewhere, hopefully unhurt. He himself was following Sasuke and gaining. His foolish idiotic stupid baka of a little brother had no idea what he was up against. His damn chidori wouldn't help him much against a demon.

Sasuke was really lucky he was friends with the Nine-tails (though Itachi still had some issues with that mission when his brother had gone up against another powerful bloodline limit and nearly died). Itachi would forever be thankful to that boy and his ability to touch people (an ability he himself hadn't been blessed with).

Itachi carries Sasuke and Naruto back to their fresh new ruin of a village. His father and mother are alive, as is most of their clan. Orochimaru is soundly defeated but the Third is dead.

The Third is dead. Itachi fears that all his hard work will unravel.

But Tsunade, not Danzo, succeeds him as Godaime and Itachi can breathe freely.

He does not protest when she reinstates him as ANBU captain and reassigns Yuuhi Kurenai to take his team. He thinks he is oddly touched when his students are devastated.


Itachi spies on Orochimaru and coordinates with Jiraiya to gather information on a mysterious organization called Akatsuki. He does not imagine at first that Madara is behind it. The sharingan-user had fled Konoha years ago, unwilling to take on the whole village. The more he discovers, the more he is disturbed, the more he wants to find out for his beloved village

Sasuke tries to contact him every week. So does Hinata. He roughly tells them both to stop. But he keeps the letters.

Itachi does not return to Konoha for three years.

When he returns, there is a new face on the mountain. Sasuke is almost as tall as him and has as many fangirls. He has grown strong from Kakashi and Fugaku's training. Naruto is even stronger. Kiba and Shino had grown up too. And Hinata was a lovely young woman.

Itachi, after a week or two, thinks he might have a crush. Unfortunately, her cousin, with overprotective, almost all-seeing eyes, knows it too. He refuses to leave Hinata-sama.


In his first encounter with Akatsuki, he meets a blue man. Kisame Hoshigaki.

Memories of a life unled flashes through his mind and he wonders at the familiarity of the S-class nin. He stops wondering when the Samehada starts moving to Konoha. Itachi absolutely refuses to let this man walk a mile further. The battle is long and brutal and Itachi is thankful for his quick reflexes and katon techniques. Even more, he is thankful when his backup Yamato comes.

He earns himself a title as an enemy of Akatsuki.

So it was perhaps too good to resist when Itachi and Naruto and other Konoha nins went to Suna on a diplomatic mission to the Kazekage. The shikaku jinchuuruki. They sent Orochimaru, Akasuna no Sasori and Deidara to eliminate and retrieve.

The nuke-nin hates him on sight. Itachi does not pause to wonder why. He strikes.

The Suna nins take care of their own and Sasori is taken down (pwned, actually) by his own grandmother.

And, of all people, it is Sasuke and his baka-friend who kills Orochimaru.

Itachi sees Tobi and is horrified. He returns to Konoha at once.

Tsunade calls a meeting with the Kages and successfully forms a five-village alliance.. They declare war on Akatsuki (much to Itachi's displeasure).

Madara escapes with his life. But Danzo is killed. (It seems fair.)


"Uchiha Hinata" has a rather nice ring to it, Itachi thinks.

The wedding was anything but small. After all, she was a main house Hyuuga and he was an Uchiha, the Uchiha. It was a formidable alliance in the making and both their fathers were pleased.

Sasuke had been surprised.

Neji and Itachi had looked at each other before the ceremony, genius to genius, and understood each other without words.


Madara attacks when Itachi's son graduates from the academy. He really should've known better.

His second Akatsuki is much inferior to his first and there are no more tailed-beasts to control (except kyuubi no kitsune, but he's already made his peace with Naruto).

Konoha is at its strongest when he attacks and the Valley of the End is now really the valley of The End.


Itachi remembers a time when he would have given up everything for the Leaf. After all these years, he feels the same.

There was a new face on the mountain.

It is his.


Owari


I did want to do more ItaHina. I'm crazy for the pairing, maybe a side-fic later on when I'm better, I don't want to bastardize it.

I'm sorry if they're out of character. I haven't read Naruto for a while and I'm still getting a feel for the characters.

And if it seems like the end is rushed, its because my indolence is propotional to my drowsiness.