The Spy in Akatsuki
Originally posted: 12/15/09
Sakura cursed as she got yet another paper cut. With a sigh, she ignored this one and didn't bother healing it. She reached forward, gingerly pulling another one of the years-old scrolls from its place. Opening it, she glanced over the faintly yellowed parchment, dotted with age. It was just a report from some unnamed spy. There was a series of them, all signed simply 'I'.
With a sigh, she tossed it into the box of spy reports and pulled another one from it. Some sort of recipe. The next was another report from the spy 'I'. She snorted at her pun.
Curiosity getting the best of her, she let her eyes trail over the words written there.
It's been two weeks since they contacted me. I have not seen them again. I know they are in the shadows. They watch me. They wait for me to make a mistake. I will not. Supplies are almost depleted, so I will have to go to a village to buy some. May disguise as a traveling civilian; I'm not sure. The missions don't pay well here, so I'll need to get to the cache hidden near. I'll have to take all of it; the other caches that I went to were sacked later. Only the ones I hadn't been to remain untouched.
Lightening may require assistance against rogue shinobi soon; they've been having issues with Mist nuke nin showing up. My contact in Water ended up dead; it was not an accident. I'll have to get new contacts soon; they know too much.
Take care of him,
And that was it. Sakura wondered if they all ended as abruptly and grabbed one from the box.
I was contacted by them yesterday. You know the ones. That missing nin organization that's been going about. They want me to join them. I don't know if I will. It'd be easier to carry out my mission from there, H-san. I await your permission.
Take care of him,
As she went to roll the scroll up again, a faint shadow lower on the paper caught her eye, and she unrolled it instead.
Make sure he gets that onyx kunai for his birthday next week.
Huh. She searched the rest of the scroll, but that was the only post note. She wondered who this spy was, and who this person they cared for was as well. For a moment, she allowed herself to imagine all the possible answers.
The sound of footsteps in the hall drew her attention, and Sakura quickly rolled the scroll back up, tossing it and the first one into the box. She was just reaching for another scroll when Tsunade came in. The blonde sighed and dropped heavily into her seat.
"You almost done with those?" she asked, pulling out her bottle of sake and not bothering with a cup. "They've been there for ages; since before I got here."
Sakura nodded. "Yes, almost done. Um... Shisho..."
Peering over the jug of alcohol, Tsunade quirked a brow. "Huh?"
"There are some spy reports here, from a while ago. I was just wondering if you knew who they were from...?" Sakura picked up the box of twenty or so scrolls and placed it on the Hokage's desk, letting the woman grab one and eye it curiously. A brow quirked. "So...?" Sakura prompted.
"Wonder who 'him' is..." Tsunade murmured. "You read any of these?" she asked, looking over at the other medic.
"Only a couple," Sakura admitted sheepishly. "Do you know who 'I' is?"
Tsunade's brows furrowed. "No. We've gotten a couple of reports from him since I became Hokage, but all I know is that he was one of the third's trusted spies in Akatsuki. I'm a little suspicious. I think I'll order him to meet up with me." Her lips twisted thoughtfully. "If he doesn't show, that just means he's no longer on our side."
"What if he can't get away?" Sakura asked, arms crossed as she leaned against the desk and frowned contemplatively. "Surely that doesn't mean he's no longer on our side."
"I may be pulling him out altogether," Tsunade responded, rubbing her brow. "He's been out of Konoha for years. Surely he has family here; allies, friends..." She turned to Sakura, looking indecisive. "What should I do...?"
"Whatever you think is right," the younger kunoichi replied firmly. Neither of them knew what they were getting themselves into, even as Tsunade penned the order for 'I' to return to Konoha for a meeting.
It was three weeks later that Sakura was on her way to the Hokage Tower when she sensed a strange chakra in a nearby alley. The chakra was masked, though it was leaking, and Sakura realized after a beat that the nin must be injured. That was the only way that a masked nin would allow themselves to be detected in such a manner, due to their attention being more focused on the injury than hiding. She headed toward it quickly, ready to heal, or at least bully the poor sod into going to the hospital.
The alley was empty.
Stepping into the shade provided, she glanced around and behind the few trash cans, but there was no one there. Odd. I could have sworn-
A shift in the air behind her snapped her focus back to her surroundings. She jerked around, chakra coming to her automatically lifted hand. Her eyes widened when she saw the man standing there and then lowered to the heavily bleeding wound in his side, where he pressed a gloved hand as he regarded her. For unknown reasons, he was without his ever-present Akatsuki cloak, garbed only in a mesh under shirt and standard ninja pants.
Her brows furrowed when she realized that despite having come up behind her, he was not holding a weapon, and his hands were not performing seals. However, as always, his Sharringan was activated as he stared at her. He was pointedly awaiting her next move.
Frown marring her face, she didn't lower her guard for a minute, though she had a sneaking suspicion she knew where this was headed. "Uchiha Itachi," she said, voice tight with restrained emotion. "What are you doing in Konoha?"
Face blank, he slipped all the fingers of his free hand but his thumb into one pocket in a casual I-am-harmless move. "I am here to speak with the Hokage," he replied blandly, a brow quirking. "If you wish, you may escort me, however I shall need a henge first."
Returning his regard suspiciously, she tested the waters with a murmured, "Who is the person you spoke of, in your reports?"
For a moment, it didn't look like he was going to answer her. Then, lips tightening at the corners in displeasure, he deigned to give her a response. "Sasuke."
Shock forced her eyes wide, her jaw going lax in the process. She couldn't help but stare at him in disbelief. He expected her, of all people, to believe that? "But you... you..."
"Left him alive."
Silence, as Sakura straightened slowly and thought about that. As much as she hated to admit it... he was telling the truth. At least, as far as she could see it. He had left Sasuke alive. Sure, he made sure Sasuke suffered - a lot - but he'd also let him live. "Oh." There was another moment of silence between the two, as she searched for something to say, but finally she just sighed. "Fine. Do the henge, but if you're planning anything stupid, Uchiha, I will kill you."
A brow quirked, but he raised his hands and performed the henge, now appearing to be a twelve year old boy with red hair and cherry-colored eyes. "Shall we go, kunoichi?"
"My name is Haruno Sakura," she said, glancing up as a woman and her daughter passed by the alley, the woman glancing in. Hard green eyes refocused on his blank expression. "Use it."
Itachi inclined his head. "Of course, Haruno-san," he agreed politely.
Mollified, she ushered him ahead of her. They made their way quickly to the Hokage tower, stepping inside the cool confines of the building. A receptionist approached them immediately. "Sakura-sama! I'm so glad you're here!" She grimaced before noticing Itachi and winking at him. He smiled childishly back, cherry eyes twinkling. "Oh... How cute..." She realized she'd gotten distracted and shook her head. "Tsunade-sama's a little annoyed right now. Shizune-sama said she wants to talk to you about it, so we're all on the look out for you. Please go; I can watch your friend."
Sakura blinked, confused. "No, that's fine. He's a new Genin; I wanted him to speak with the Hokage anyway. I'll bring him with me," she said. The receptionist bowed and waved to Itachi before scurrying off.
Sakura, thoughtful, ushered him ahead of her once again and they took the elevator. The ride up was quiet, other than the old woman in the corner, who occasionally muttered to herself; she smelled of mothballs and wet cat, so Sakura pretended not to notice her. Luckily, she got off halfway to the top. Sakura took the chance to speak up.
"Your wound; how'd you get it?" she asked, eying him warily.
He shot her a glance, child-like face eerily expressionless. "... Deidara," he answered after a moment, and watched as her eyes widened. "I wasn't caught. He just doesn't like me," he added, answering the most obvious next question.
Successfully headed off, she blinked at the odd tidbit. "Oh." The elevator dinged and they stepped off.
Instantly, Shizune was before her, looking annoyed, harried, worried and nervous all at once. "'I' is coming!" she hissed, pulling Sakura aside. "Tsunade-sama got a message from him this morning, saying he'd be here sometime today." She wrung her hands and glanced at Sakura's companion, distracted by the unusual boy in the same manner that everyone else today seemed to be. "Um... Who's that?"
Sakura, smiling, shook her head. "I'll tell you later," she replied dismissively. "Is Tsunade-sama free-?"
"SAKURA!" interrupted the tell-tale sound of her shisho's voice. She'd apparently noticed her student's chakra. "GET OVER HERE!"
Shizune winced and gave her kohai a sympathetic look. "Good luck. You want me to-"
"He's coming with. Ne, Ita-kun?" Sakura asked sweetly. At his annoyed look, she grinned. "C'mon, Ita-kun. Let's go see Tsunade shisho, ne?"
"... Hm," he answered softly, frowning. He hesitated a moment, but nodded. "Fine."
Sakura grinned, but the grin quickly vanished as she nodded at Shizune and walked forward, this time with Itachi behind her. Luckily, he didn't try anything sneaky and Uchiha-esque. Like stabbing me in the back, she thought uncharitably, a scowl slowly creeping its way onto her face.
Mednins and Tower personnel alike caught sight of her expression and quickly got out of her way, though she barely noticed. She actually didn't notice the way Uchiha Itachi surveyed their surroundings, 'child-like' eyes wide with wonder.
The two stepped into the Hokages office to see the blonde dashing madly around. On her desk were scattered papers, most notably a reinstatement packet on the corner. She caught sight of Sakura (and somehow missed Itachi) and scowled herself. "Sakura! I'm glad you're here."
"What do you need, shisho?" the younger kunoichi asked, her own scowl lessening with her curiosity.
"'I' is coming- oh... Who are you and why are you in my office?" she demanded, glaring at Itachi.
He glanced at Sakura before turning and shutting the door, then facing the Hokage again. He bowed formally. "Hokage-sama, I am..." He hesitated and glanced at the window, then frowned. "Perhaps we should conduct this meeting in private... Without your ANBU guards?"
The surprise on Tsunade's face was quickly replaced by suspicion as the blonde stared at the seemingly innocent genin before her. Understanding quickly followed though, and she nodded. "Itzuki. Meirin. Get lost," she said, glancing at the window.
Sakura wasn't surprised that she didn't feel them leave, because she hadn't known they were there to begin with. Certainly, the thought of Tsunade being guarded hadn't occurred to her, though she supposed it made sense.
Shisho slept a lot.
Satisfied, Itachi released the henge and both women stiffened (Sakura didn't know why she did, but somehow seeing him as he really was felt more intimidating than his act had been). Tsunade's eyes instantly traveled to the wound on his side and she motioned for Sakura to look at it. The rosette kunoichi did, ignoring Uchiha's stiff posture as she knelt down beside him, hands glowing green with chakra.
Tsunade spoke as he was healed. "'I', then?"
He inclined his head, unable to bow at the moment, and waited for her to go on. She didn't really need any prompting.
"I haven't had a report from you in two weeks," she stated, frowning. "Aside from the correspondence for your return."
He tipped his head to the side and shrugged. "It's hard to get away from Akatsuki long enough to send one," he answered blandly, a brow quirking. "As it is, I was barely able to arrange my departure for the length of time necessary to obey your wishes to meet."
The Hokage sighed and scratched her cheek idly. "Alright. I guess I can understand that. Uchiha..." She met his gaze squarely, eyes narrowed. "I want you to stay."
"You'll be attacked by Sasuke," he responded immediately, going totally stiff.
The blonde smiled then, and Sakura blinked, wondering what on Earth was going through her head. "Exactly, Uchiha. Exactly."
Two days later, it was public knowledge that Uchiha Itachi had been a spy and was now reinstated as a ninja of Konoha (though his every move was being watched for the time being). As such, everyone was talking about it, which is the situation to be found in Team Gai's regular training area.
"I can't believe it, though," Tenten muttered, flicking a kunai distractedly at Neji, who caught it and threw it back.
Lee nodded eagerly, a grin to match their captain's taking over his face. "I know! How dangerous it must have been, to be a spy in such a notorious criminal organization!" he gushed, eyes twinkling.
Gai flashed his student a thumbs up. "Only the power of YOUTH could have seen him through it!"
Predictably, Tenten and Neji ignored them. "If you think about it," Neji reasoned, deflecting a few shurriken with his new arm guards, "he was probably the only one in Konoha - at least at the time - that could have a reasonable excuse to become a criminal."
Tenten frowned at the reminder. "That's right. How do we know it was all an act? After all, he sorta did kill his entire clan, even if it was to give him a reason to flee." She spun around, letting a line of kunai fly and forcing her teammates to dodge them. "That's a pretty shallow reason."
Landing on a post, Lee hummed thoughtfully, catching a kunai almost idly as it sailed by his ear. "Yes, I do see your point." He hesitated long enough to toss the kunai back at Tenten, who ducked to avoid it and it stuck into the ground a few feet behind her. "But he left Sasuke-kun alive, too."
"Yeah," snorted the kunoichi, "alive, sure. But also emotionally scarred for life." She paused thoughtfully. "And mentally."
Neji made a face at that and lunged forward to attack Gai, who flipped backward and wisely avoided his hands. "How he could have allowed anyone, let alone Uchiha Itachi, to warp him so much, I'll never know. If Sasuke's crazy, it's his own fault."
Tenten coughed and bit back a smirk, and Gai shook his head. "Ah... Youth can be jeopardized in such a way, I'm afraid..."
Neji frowned. "Gai?"
"Yes, oh student of mine?"
"You're an idiot."
Gai gasped at the insult, but Tenten laughed and distracted him by throwing a kunai at his face.
All over Konoha, similar conversations were taking place, musing on the mental stability of Uchihas Itachi and Sasuke alike, some wondering what would happen when Sasuke eventually came looking for his brother. Some groups, however, were not so nonchalant about Uchiha Itachis return.
"He's a murderer, Sakura-chan! How can you even think about protecting him?" Naruto demanded, clenching his fists in fury. Beside him, Sai remained silent, apparently content to watch the scene unfold.
In front of him, Sakura braced her hands on her hips and scowled at the enraged jinchurriki, not that it did much to deter him. "Naruto, Uchiha-san is a ninja of Konoha, and as such, I'm not about to let you stalk into his house and kill him! Shisho-"
"Ninja of Konoha, my ass!" Naruto shouted crassly, even as the door opened behind Sakura, revealing the very topic of their argument. Naruto pointed at him angrily, baring elongated canines. "You! If you know what's good for you, you'll leave town right now. 'Cause if you don't, I'll kill you!"
"You will not!" Sakura snapped, getting in the way when the blond tried to walk past her. "Uzumaki Naruto, you are being an asshole!"
"Don't 'but' me!"
"Sakura-chan!" he tried again, cutting her off. Something almost pleading entered his gaze, hurt drifting through depths of blue so deep Sakura may as well have been swimming in the sea. "It's his fault! Everything started with him! If he hadn't killed his damn clan, Sasuke wouldn't have had to go through so much-" He shook his head, realizing that his reasoning wouldn't be enough to convince her. "Sakura-chan, just get out of my way."
Before he could move her, Itachi spoke, eyes narrowed thoughtfully. "You'd attack a comrade?" he asked softly.
Uh oh. Sakura turned toward the near whisper behind her, then looked back at her friend. She watched as Naruto nearly exploded with his fury at the query.
"Comrade?" the blond spat, held back only by Sai's grip on his shoulder. "Where was 'comrade' when you slaughtered your family? Where was 'comrade' when you made your little brother terrified out of his mind!? Where the fuck was 'comrade' when you held Sasuke to a wall by his throat? Where the fuck was 'comrade' then, you hypocritical bitch?"
Sakura could tell, just by the intent practically oozing from every pore of Itachi's body, that the words had hit home. It kind of surprised her, but at the same time, it made sense. Sasuke was Itachi's little brother, and no matter how much blood and pain was between them, that wasn't going to change. However...
The blond, in a moment of lucidity through his anger, froze at the tone of her voice. Slowly, he looked down at her face, Sai backing up behind him. He swallowed. "Y-yeah?"
"Go home," she said carefully. "Right now."
Sai quickly cut the other boy off by grabbing his wrist and dragging him down the road, Naruto casting irritated glances back at them. As soon as they were out of sight, Sakura heard the door click closed behind her. Apparently, Itachi was wise enough to leave before she beat on him. It was just as well. With a sigh, she traded glances with the ANBU guarding the Uchiha compound. He shrugged and she shook her head.
"I swear," she muttered, and heard Genma's familiar dry laugh. Not that she hadn't known it was him. Forcing herself to calm down, she waved and turned away. "I'm going back," she said over her shoulder. "Shift change is only in five minutes anyway."
"Alright. Take care, Sakura," he replied and faded into the scenery.
She smiled blandly and decided that she was done with work for the day. She never took a day off; maybe Shisho would let her today.
Chapter 1 of my ItaSaku story. XD
Characters and Naruto do not belong to me, but to Masashi Kishimoto. I am responsible for creating most of the situation, and the story line only. Please do not take and use without my permission.