DISCLAIMER - Naruto and Naruto Shippuden belongs to Masashi Kishimoto alone. Anything resembling this fic is purely coincidence.
Battlefields are not a pleasant thing to watch. To a full-fledged soldier, this was where he was needed. To a power-crazed warlord, this was paradise. To the rest, it was merely a spitting image of what Hell is. In either case, there was nothing beautiful about bodies dropping on the ground motionless, homes being destroyed, lands being transformed into a shadow of their former lives.......absolutely nothing. To most people, the battlefield was the final destination for those who are bound to lose their lives too soon. However, to a rare number, this was also the beginning of their lives.
A four-year-old boy watched all around him as bodies were falling down, one by one. Kunais, shurikens, swords, or other sharp weapons pierced the ninjas bodies, taking away their lives. Worst of all, as he watched their bodies fall, the blood that oozed from their bodies had managed to splatter around the boy's face. It was enough to make him gasp in horror. Why is this happening? What's going to happen to me? Mommy......Mommy......where are you...? Help me......I......I'm scared...... The boy was so scared. What if he ended up like these people? He had to get away. He had to hide. Seeing no other alternative, the boy found only one safe hiding spot for him. The boy strained himself, trying to life the body of a ninja and hide under it. The boy didn't like it. He was hiding under a dead body, but what choice is there to make. If he didn't hide, he will end up just like the corpse he hid under. When will this end? As the boy shed tears of fear, he looked around his surroundings. Some of the ninjas lied face down or facing away from the boy. However, one corpse, which horrified the boy even more, stared at him with lifeless eyes. This other corpse was a young boy, just as old as the horrified boy. The boy had seen enough. Please......please.............I want to go home......
In the next morning, the battle had finally ended. With the ninjas all gone, it was time to for the hunter-nins to do their job. This was their specialty. Hunter-nins were always around battlefields to perform the clean-up efforts. Some of the corpses they handle would either be buried or burned, just after doing some kind of analysis on their lifeless bodies. The tragic part of their jobs were not just seeing the bodies of their comrades, but the bodies of other people, that had nothing to do with war in the first place. As painful as it is, it was their job to make sure these innocent civilians get their proper burial.
One leading hunter-nin looked around the battlefield, scanning the numerous corpses that were scattered around him. Among the corpses he saw, he saw a lifeless boy, no older than four. The boy's eyes were still open. The leading hunter-nin could only shake his head in sorrow, before he closed the boys eyes. "To have a short life..." the leading hunter-nin said to himself sadly, "May you rest in peace, young one."
"Sir!" one of the hunter-nins called out.
"What is it?" the leading hunter-nin asked, heading to where he was being called.
"I think you should see this, sir," hunter-nin #1 reported, "We've got a live one here."
"An enemy?" The leading hunter-nin had his kunai ready at the hand. Even though the battle had ended, there could still be enemies, or worst, spies, just waiting for the chance to get even.
"No sir...it's......a boy," hunter-nin #2 reluctantly notified his superior.
"What?" The leading hunter-nin was surprised. What was a boy doing here? This was not a place to play around! "Let me see."
"Yes, sir." The two hunter-nins lifted up the ninja's corpse, revealing a boy, curled up into a ball, crying silently. The hunter-nins noticed the look on his face. It was enough to make them pity the young one. The boy's eyes were full of dried tears. They couldn't imagine how long he had been crying. And who wouldn't cry, after seeing what had just happened in this battlefield. "Hey, are you okay?" Hunter-nin #2 reached out out trying to comfort the boy.
The boy gasped in fear. As soon as he saw a hand reach out to him, he immediately slapped it away, before moving away frantically. They were going to hurt him. No, they were going to kill him. No more. Just no more.
"It's all right, kid," the leading hunter-nin assured, "We're not going to hurt you." The leading hunter-nin held his hands up to show that he was unarmed. As he took a knee in front of the boy, he slowly removed his mask, as a show of good intentions. The boy stared at the leader with fearful eyes. Soon enough, the other two hunter-nins removed their masks, showing their intention of good, just like their leader. The leader reached behind him and pulled out a water canteen, handing it to the boy. "Here, drink this, kid." The boy was still afraid. Are these people really good people? The boy moved slowly, ever so cautious. How can he trust these people? "It's okay. Take it." The leader continued to insist the boy. Eventually, the boy took the water canteen from his hand and drank it quickly. The boy didn't care if the water spilled all over him. He too thirsty to even care.
Hunter-nin #1 approached the boy with a small flashlight in his hand. As soon as he touched the boy's head, the boy winced away in fear. Was he going to hurt him? "Don't worry, I'm a doctor," hunter-nin #1 informed the boy, "I just want to check on you. Eveything is going to be okay." With the small flashlight in hand, hunter-nin #1 shined the light into the boy's eye. As expected, the boy winced as the bright light shined into his eyes.
"How is he?" asked the leader.
"Well, he's physically fine, but judging from his behavior...it's safe to say he's badly traumatized," hunter-nin #1 diagnosed.
"It makes sense," the leader noted, "What's your name, kid?"
Mikoto awaited patiently in the waiting room. When she heard news of her son's recent return, she immediately dashed to the Konoha Hospital. Yesterday, she was told by Itachi that he was going to go out and play with his friend, Akira. What she didn't realize was that Itachi and Akira had went a lot further than they let on. Ever since last night, she had been increasingly worried about him. However, the Konoha Hospital refused to let her search for her son last night. With the war going on, she was desperately needed in the Hospital. Mikoto, after all, was a very skilled medical-nin, whose skills could rival that of Shizune's or possibly even Tsunade's. As much as she wanted to search for Itachi, she couldn't leave her patients as well. Seeing no other options, she asked some of the Konoha jonins and chuunins she could find and asked them to look for Itachi. So far, their search turned up nothing, until now.
After what seemed like hours, a medical-nin appeared into the waiting room. Mikoto rose up from one of the chairs, waiting to hear the report from one of her co-workers. "How is he?" Mikoto asked worriedly.
"Well...it's really hard to tell you..." the nurse reluctantly answered, "He's...too shocked...almost unresponsive... I can't even imagine what went on with him."
Hearing this news broke Mikoto's heart. How could her son go through something so terrible? "Can I see him?" asked Mikoto.
"Sure," the nurse nodded, "Please follow me."
Mikoto entered one of the hospital rooms that the nurse led her to. As she entered, she found Itachi sitting on his bed, still curled up in a ball. It was just as the nurse had warned. Itachi looked so lifeless. Seeing this was enough to make Mikoto cry silently for her son. Mikoto walked towards the unresponsive Itachi and sat on his bed. Mikoto reached up for Itachi's face. Itachi didn't even flinch, for a mother's touch was what he needed to come back to the real world.
"Welcome home...Itachi," Mikoto greeted sadly to her son.
"...Mommy..." Itachi whispered. After staring silently at her mother, Itachi immediately wrapped his arms around her, as if he were afraid of the whole world and his mother is the only one who will protect her. "...Mommy......I......I...was.......Akira......he......" Itachi sobbed, gripping his mother's sleeve tightly. "I don't want to see that again, Mommy!"
Mikoto hugged her son tightly, just as a loving mother should, letting her tears fall freely from her face. "It's okay, Itachi," Mikoto shushed her son, "It's okay."
Mikoto and Itachi continued to hold each other, until Itachi had finally cried himself to sleep. Even when Itachi fell asleep, Mikoto refused to leave his side. Patients would need Mikoto, but right now, her son needs her.
To be continued...