Personal Renegade:


It was a nice night.

Gekko Hayate adjusted the bone white mask on his face and continued to look up at the clear sky. This close to the Training field-13, even the air stank of death and despair.

Buzy body chuunin claimed the place was haunted. Gut-wrenching screams of terror were frequently heard from inside the field, cementing the rumours and spreading terror further still. Shadowy monsters were often spotted by nosy children, adding and increasing the general paranoia.

Hayate smirked under his mask.

He knew that in reality, Training field-13 was once home to some of the most scandalous experiments conducted by the then honourable sanin Orochimaru...hence the council had done little to dispel the rumours or fish out the consign.

Naturally, for their eccentric ANBU Commander there existed no other perfect place than this to build the ANBU Home Residence.

Up ahead, his team's scout suddenly signalled and they took off again, streaking into the field's dense forest they now knew as the back of their hands.

Several shadowed creatures watched their progress silently. Silvery spiral traps and deadly barriers all fell open at the touch of the ANBU mark.

A shrill scream of terror erupted, but Hayate disregarded the illusion.

He was home.

War had always been difficult for Hayate. An unvarying carnival, where he understood neither purpose nor reason. Being one of the elite had demanded blazing loneliness. Death was treated like a commodity to be bought and sold and Hayate had soon found himself at the edge of his sanity, ready to give up.

But that all changed when Hatake Kakashi had materialized into his life.

Literally.

Hayate remembered the exact moment because it was on the stroke of his seventeenth birthday, and he had been feeling utterly low thinking about his place in this meaningless world.

"I got you a birthday present," a lazy voice had murmured, appearing suddenly on the window still and starling the crap out of Hayate. A gloved hand twirled an official looking scroll, "here," it said, throwing the roll at Hayate.

Hayate caught it instinctively and the scroll burst into smoke at his touch and a gleaming white mask fell into his hands.

Hayate gaped, and finally looked up to see the notorious Sharingan-no- Kakashi, the man who copied a thousand jutsus, crouching at his window as if it's the most natural thing in this world.

"Meet me at the gates in an hour, shinobi," Kakashi's lazy eye was slowly assessing him, "let's see if the mask suits you."

And oh it had.

He was rarely left alone after that, and what more, without Hayate's permission or consent, Kakashi forced back order into his world, replaced guilt with purpose and fear with exhilaration.

"Don't take life so seriously, kid," Kakashi murmured, shelling out shuriken from Hayate's shoulder after a particularly gruesome raid, "It's not permanent."

When Hayate had continued to look gloomy, Kakashi sighed and let it drop. The next day he was casually introduced to Uzumaki Naruto.

And then the real fun began.

Hayate hated the blond junchuuriki on sight, with the face markings too much like the demon-fox.

Uzumaki Naruto didn't care for his sentiments.

The child would turn up at Hayate's door, every single day, screaming at the top of his lungs that his Tousan had explained that Hayate-sensei was the best swordsman in this village and so Hayate-sensei was going to teach him or be prepared to face the consequences.

Ignoring the child didn't work. Blows and threats only seemed to encourage him. It didn't help matters that his team had suddenly turned traitors and decided to side with the child. They even got him candy.

After two weeks of dogging, burning down a part of the local library and an unfortunate incident involving a bunch of ladies underwear and a jutsu that will Never Be Mentioned Again, Hayate found himself covered from head-to-toe in filth and running for his life from the police, with an equally filthy Naruto at his heels.

Outside his apartment door, Hayate panted and chuckled once at the ridiculous situation. He glanced at the child, whose blue eyes were the only part visible through the mud. He couldn't help it, he laughed and laughed. Then he took the brat inside and helped him clean up.

Later, over his fifth bowl of ramen, Hayate sighed in defeat, "fine! I'll teach you," he rolled his eyes, "you're like a fucking mosquito, brat. No matter how many times I swat you just won't go away. Just promise me you'll leave me alone."

The child grinned, over his own bowl, "Why? You don't leave us alone."

The humour disappeared from Hayate, "what do you mean?"

Naruto paused, and gave him a look that surveyed him cleanly to the bones. For the first time, Hayate was beginning to figure out what the rest of the ANBU saw in this kid.

"Tousan said you are broken." Naruto stated. Hayate's breathe hitched.

"But, despite it all, you still fight for the village and like all ANBU, you will continue to protect it as long as you can," Naruto's eyed him admiringly, "I think that makes you a Hero. You are cool!"

Hayate widened his eyes. Naruto went back to his ramen as if he hadn't just blasted Hayate's world into million fucking pieces.

There was awe in the child's eyes for him.

It was bringing back various unrelated things into his mind like- how did he forget the sunlight, forget that the air was good and water refreshing. Hayate hadn't realise he missed those things, until its right there, in this kid's bright smile.

How did he forget that he was a Konoha shinobi, and combat wasn't meaningless if it meant protecting something precious? Protecting Naruto and so many other children like him.

How did he survive so long without knowing this truth?

Hayate smiled now, recalling his moment of dizzy clarity. Life had started being pretty good after that. How can it not, when you had Uzumaki Naruto in it.

The dense forests abruptly ended and a whole new world burst before their eyes. Bunaan, a mighty tributary of the great river Nakano flowed glittering silently. And on its either bank sprawled the ANBU home buildings.

Heavy impenetrable barriers lay all around the little island like structures. The location was never listed on any public or sentinel maps and no communication channels expect that of the Commander's, worked over it. The security was absolute. It had to be.

A wide stretch of water separated the male and female quarters effectively. Further down the river, amidst the gathering hills, several natural hot springs were situated. Nearby a gigantic dojo for closed combat and several training grounds were available.

Every ANBU soldier, regardless of gender, clan or family was allotted a room, even the Commander.

And every soldier invariably chose to spend more time here than anywhere else, some for the peace and quiet, many for the break this place provided from the world. Teams were generally encouraged to huddle together and train or just relax and grow used to each other's silent presence.

Hayate relaxed when the quarters loomed, feeling a warm rush of belonging.

A shadow appeared suddenly, just within the field gates. Hayate stilled and his team immediately fell into flanks.

"Squad 18, led by Owl reporting in," Hayate spoke curtly, curious at this sudden sentry.

"H-hai. It's an honour to meet you in person at last, Owl-san, "the shadow squeaked. It was a young girl, wearing a brand new ANBU breast-plate. Her white Cat mask was framed by violent purple hair. Her breathing was muffled, indicating she has yet to get used to the mask.

Hayate raised his brows. This was a newbie.

How brilliant...at last some new recruits to mock and terrorise.

The girl adjusted her mask and asked with some trepidation, "Yours is the last team to report in. Are there many injuries to heal?"

Hayate narrowed his eyes and his team growled menacingly. The girl immediately stepped back.

"Gomenasai Taicho!" she nearly shouted, "Hatake-sama specifically ordered me to follow this dialog."

Excellent.

So the Commander himself was granting them permission to bully the rookies.

"Is there any reason you are idiotically wasting our time?" the team's shield, Muta asked coldly.

"Hai," the girl ruffled through hundreds of paper scrolls in her pack and handed each member of team-18 a square slip, "Hatake-sama has called for a mandatory general meeting. It begins in twenty minutes at the headquarters."

Hayate blinked in surprise and exchanged startled looks with his team. In all his time as the ANBU's most illustrated Commander, Kakashi-sempai had never once called for a meeting.

Even a team meeting.

"I have another message for you, sir," The girl straightened and continued, "Hatake-sama apologises to team-18 for rushing you, especially after days on only soldier pills. But he insists that you appear at the meeting before he does," she bowed and puffed away.

Hayate smirked.

Kakashi-sempai's wordings were as precise and subtle as ever. He was indirectly informing team-18 that he would be late so there's enough time for them to clean up and get a proper meal before reporting to the headquarters.

He frowned when he failed to understand the last part of the puzzle.

General meeting.

Hayate murmured, "get changed. And meet me here in ten minutes. Go."

His team scattered immediately. Hayate examined the square paper. He turned it over, perplexed and frowned in confusion.

Well.

Whatever this was, he would find out soon enough.

.

.

Hatake Kakashi appeared at the ANBU meeting just thirty seconds after team-18, dressed in his jounin uniform and looking as if he had just rolled out of bed.

His droopy eye examined each face, pausing at some and probing at others. The soldiers were clearly displaying high signs of stress and caution. Not too surprising. The last time this many shinobi were called for an official meeting, there was a demon fox at their village gates.

The room was packed with white masks. Many of the younger ones, as well as the newest recruits, eager to show off, were crouched spider-like, on the walls and ceilings of the dark room.

Kakashi relaxed. His single grey eye travelled to the Ibiki and he nodded once.

A faint air of anticipation settled over the room as Ibiki stepped forwards, with a swish of his coat.

"As most of you are aware by now," Ibiki murmured from behind his ANBU mask "two nights ago, our leader was attacked at the borders. Although the threat was effectively dealt with, his ward, Uzumaki Naruto was injured and poisoned."

The ANBU collectively tensed. Kakashi studied them all closely, lazily.

"The intruders were rogue-nin jounin level shinobi, and incredibly," Ibiki's voice turned soft; "they were pretending to be us. Konoha's ANBU. They seemed familiar with Kakashi-san's entire schedule and exact position."

"Do we have leads?" asked ANBU Ox impatiently. He was the one who carried little Naruto-chan back after the attack, and it hadn't been pretty watching the Commander so helpless, however briefly.

Ibiki nodded, "a lone prisoner. After performing detailed examinations on him and the corpses, I have discovered that the link that controlled this attack was a source hidden within Konoha," Ibiki narrowed his beetle black eyes and said flatly, "There may be a Mole among us."

A deceptive calm spread.

Several ANBU narrowed their eyes and many subtly shifted into battle stances. Slowly, the air became heavier, making it hard to even breathe. Kakashi could taste the need to kill on his tongue.

Ibiki's maintained stony silence, but his hands gripped weapons and he took several steps back warily.

This incensed confrontation seemed to amuse the Commander.

"shaaa, no need to be so dramatic, everyone, "Kakashi murmured, interrupting the staring match," Ibiki-san," he tilted his head and smiled pleasantly, dissipating the tension at once, "as I've told you before, moles belong deep underground...somewhere near the ROOTS. You won't find any here."

Kakashi levelled the room with a gaze until everyone relaxed again.

"In light of the recent... events," Ibiki raised his voice and continued again, "Hokage-sama has ordered Kakashi-san to gather men within our department that he can trust absolutely. He wishes to brand them with a blood seal to cement their loyalty to the department-head, for obvious security reasons."

Kakashi seemed pensive and said after a significant pause, "I trust all of you equally, so I am having some difficulty...choosing," he lifted his head and smiled happily, "So. It's up to you to decide if you're loyal to me or not."

Oh. Dear. Kami.

"Kakashi-sempai!" Ibiki's prized apprentice objected, "this is most inappropriate. Your security is at risk. Containment is everything-"

Kakashi waved a dismissive hand, "The Hokage-sama wants me to choose my men within the department. Soldiers who I think are..hmm, loyal to me," Kakashi's eye roved over them all, efficient and intense," and I am doing just that."

He got them.

Ibiki blinked in sudden understanding and barely resisted a smirk.

The torture-expert cast a cold glance to the ANBU present; all were listening with rapt attention, their appreciation clear even through the impenetrable masks. He returned his attention to the Commander, eyes widened in admiration; Ibiki was witnessing the art of a master.

"What does this seal require?" the overwhelming figure of ANBU Eagle enquired softly. Rumours always said that he was one of Kakashi's most trusted aides.

Ibiki believed them.

"It binds a piece of my chakra in your body, preventing you from betraying me and in effect, Konoha and the Hokage-sama." Kakashi stilled carefully, and avoided looking at his audience, "Any curse seal or binding seal put on you in the past or in the future will wilt away. In other words, you are giving me sole power over your mind and no one else."

There was no reply to this. None was needed. The men were told all that they needed to know.

"For the next thirty hours, everyone is off duty. Use this time to make a decision," Kakashi said neutrally, as if he wasn't affected by it.

Ibiki was not fooled.

To the copy-ninja, all actions were carefully deliberated. Talking was one of his finest. He was an intolerably subtle smooth talker...Ibiki was sure; the main event of the meeting had only just begun.

"I will start to perform the sealing at sunrise the day after. The tokens you received contain the time when each individual needs to report where. If you have decided against getting the seal, simply do not turn up."

Kakashi shoved his hands into his pockets and turned to go, "Visit me, if you have queries," he paused thoughtfully, and smirked ,"and if you're calling after midnight…get porn."

A kunai came flying from the back of the room aimed straight at Kakashi's groin. Ibiki flickered and stopped it and glared at the offender.

"And what if we already decided to get it?" ANBU Lynx asked loudly, completely ignoring her superior's glare," will you just do it now and let me have three days free?"

Many masks nodded in agreement.

Mitarashi Anko. Always eager to belong to someone.

Kakashi frowned and gave her his vaguely disappointed look, "this is serious business, captain."

Anko snorted and leapt up to the roof. The ANBU already present there scurried away, clearing the path for her, "Not serious Hatake, its logical...something that you should have done ages ago."

Kakashi lifted his eye to her, "Don't behave like manic kids who'd found the secret coded rings in cereal boxes. Think carefully and decide. "

ANBU Raven nodded, "I would rather have the seal now, than have my loyalty questioned later."

"The Hokage-sama thinks you are worth it," said an ANBU mask with a slim line of blue, "I think that should be good enough for us."

"You are naive," Kakashi said with sudden harshness, and the room shifted immediately on the edge.

Kakashi narrowed his eye and continued coldly, "Your ceaseless conviction that I am a good leader is severely misplaced," his single eye hardened to a glare, "I might just order everybody to kill each other. What will you do then?"

Ibiki resisted the urge to snort.

Kakashi carefully didn't mention he might end up ordering sedition or treason, subconsciously triggering the possibility among the men, and immediately making them realise that Kakashi wasn't even thinking in those terms...making them comprehend that Kakashi would remain a loyal dog no matter what.

Woah.

This thin little scarecrow was good.

Kakashi forced himself to settle back on one hip, seemingly relaxed, he continued calmly, "All the terrible rumours you heard about me were true at one point or the other. Bear that in mind before you decide."

He ran a stressed hand through his white hair, "There are no wins in ANBU, no lose. There is only constant battle. And the best that we could hope for is to find someplace to make your stand from."

He paused and shifted uncomfortably, looking terribly young and exposed. Ibiki took note of everything. He waited.

"If you give me this-this seal of trust," Kakashi took a deep breath, as though he were preparing to jump off a mountain and whispered, "then I will become your place to stand."

Light crept up Kakashi's bit of visible face, filling his cold grey eye like sun on frost. He stood in front of the fiercest fighters in the land and spoke as if he were trying hard not to fall asleep and yet...Ibiki blinked in surprise, releasing he'd been completely drawn in.

An instant later, Kakashi had nodded tensely and disappeared.

Ibiki shifted his cool gaze over to the soldiers. He knew without a doubt that most of the department will report to the sealing now. He himself will. And those who won't will be subjected to his surveillance and effectively cut out.

Ruthlessly.

He grinned.

Looks like the Third choose the perfect man for the job indeed.

.

.

The Hokage-sama looked up moments before the window slid open and a thin figure stepped inside.

Kakashi moved into the room, utterly unsurprised to see Morino Ibiki and Hyuuga Hizashi already present on either side of the Hokage.

The Third puffed on his pipe and watched Kakashi lean casually on the wall, "how did it go then?" he asked gruffly.

Kakashi shrugged.

"Discretion is central while dealing with unpredictable allies," The Third adjusted his cap, sounding weary and peevish, "this is most…unorthodox, Kakashi."

Kakashi sighed, "then clearly I'm unsuited for this, Hokage-sama. You will have to take over this project if it fails."

The Third gave him a long stare and nodded.

Kakashi's eye trailed over to the small blonde figure covered in the Hokage's robes, asleep on the couch, "I hope he wasn't much trouble."

The Third took a long pull, "We had tea. Naruto-kun was kind enough to help me with the paper-work. His Shodo is remarkable…fine makings of a seal-master."

The Hokage and Kakashi gazed at each other.

"Scripting is an ideal way to improve hand-eye coordination, "Kakashi shrugged, just a tad bit defensive.

The Hokage-sama's eyes softened, and he said nothing.

Kakashi walked over to the couch and lifted the small body into his arms. Naruto was sound asleep and didn't even turn.

"let it be," the Sandaime said softly, when Kakashi tried to remove the Hokage's robes, "let the child bring them tomorrow. I agreed to teach him a jutsu for all his help today."

Kakashi nodded.

The Sandaime studied the report in front of him and frowned, "until you know for sure who your true allies are, I want you to maintain extreme caution, Kakashi."

"hai."

"Your ANBU guard will be around the house, Kakashi-kun," Hizashi stated, "on the outer most perimeter. For protection."

Sharingan-no-Kakashi doesn't need protection.

Kakashi tried to make this clear with a half lidded stare.

Hizashi stared back unimpressed, "There is little chance I am going to allow you to have your way in this matter," he said, "the entire ANBU branch agrees with me. You may verify. "

Kakashi narrowed his eye, but Hizashi didn't even have the decency to look away and stared back flatly like a block of ice, which Kakashi is sure by now is never going to melt.

The Sandaime leaned back, eyes glittering in amusement and Ibiki-san as usual was watching his every move too closely.

Kakashi was never going to win against odds like this.

So he sighed delicately, "Do whatever you want."

He huffed once and considered glaring, but disregarded it as too much trouble. Instead he adjusted Naruto close and slouched further still, clearly attempting to portray wounded dignity and such.

The Sandaime chuckled, considering Kakashi with open fondness. Hizashi softened a bit.

"I'm going home," Kakashi grumbled at them and disappeared.

.

.

Ever since the attack, (which they technically shouldn't know anything about) Shirunui Genma, like the crazy jonin he is, had been acting paranoid about keeping Kakashi and Naruto within his sight.

And so, Raido, knowing nothing would penetrate Genma's thick skull when he got like this had gone along just to make sure his best-friend wouldn't get into trouble with the ANBU.

But. Something was definitely fishy.

A team of guards roamed at the perimeter and all day long, various ANBU soldiers were filtering in and out, sometimes in teams or individually.

The Copy-ninja had thrown every door and window of his home wide open. He received every shinobi nonchalantly, dressed only in a long sleeved shirt and matching dark pants.

Raido watched in amazement, as a relaxed Kakashi conversed with every single ANBU, giving them a fond glance or a quiet word of reassurance, as if instinctively knowing what each of them needed to see or hear. And they flocked to him. Lingering around him and his son like moths to a flame.

Naruto-kun was in his element, serving tea and laughing, joking and showing off, enjoying the attention to his heart's content.

It was evening when Raido had finally managed to coax Genma into going home and trust the guarding business to the ANBU, who have clearly gone collectively crazy.

That was when Uchiha Itachi had appeared.

Although the young Heir was concealed on a tree branch, Genma and Raido could plainly see the agitated expression with which he was staring at Kakashi-san.

Genma turned from paranoid jonin to village pervert in a second, "I don't believe this! …Uchiha Itachi caught in a forbidden lust-"

Raido smacked his head, "you are a moron, Genma. ANBU have been acting weird all day…and Itachi-kun's ANBU too."

Genma made a wide-eyed, sort of offended face which lasted exactly three seconds before collapsing into a slant wicked grin, "are you getting jealous of your rival?"

"No!" Raido face-palmed, waiting in dread for what was to come.

"Don't worry, Raido-chan. I'll make sure Kakashi picks you in the end. This is just to make his life miserable for a while. You know entertainment. "

"You can't make-" Raido stopped, and rolled his eyes giving up. Nothing would stop Genma now.

Genma shivered in excitement, and clenched his fists in front of his chest, eyes shining gleefully, "Right! I've gotto help this kid."

Raido was alarmed now, "Kakashi-san is going to kill you into next week!"

"Who cares?" Genma's eyes were shining maniacally, "The kid is young and experimenting, Raido. Don't you remember what we-"

"Shut up!" Raido nearly shouted, "I never want to think about that again. Ever."

Genma grinned, and ignoring Raido's frantic gestures, he flew towards the young Uchiha heir.

"Uchiha Itachi," Genma greeted sweetly, "I never knew you to be such a romantic."

The boy raised a wary brow and managed to look casually dangerous. A prickle of warning nudged Genma but he ignored it.

"Can't keep your eyes off him, huh?" Genma whispered loudly, "One way or the other, you Uchihas have to be fixated on him, huh?"

Itachi's eyes narrowed once, before he wiped out all expression from his features.

"I don't understand what you are talking about, Shiranui-san," he replied perfectly polite.

"Please. You were staring at that scarecrow for a solid hour," Genma purred, "come now, don't pretend."

Itachi gave him a narrow-eyed glare of judging someone and finding them stupid.

Genma rolled his eyes and Raido was beginning to look constipated.

" just for your information" Genma leaned and covered his mouth as if sharing a great secret, "... I know most of Kakashi's kinks...I know secrets that'll have him following you like a puppy for weeks. So...if you want to talk..."

Itachi's eyes widened a tiny bit and he turned a faint pink.

"I know Uchihas are tad bit masochists..." Genma continued slyly, "so do you like him because he is crazy?"

Itachi stared at Genma, "You are crazy."

Genma was undaunted, "Let me tell you a secret about crazy people," he slid forwards with unholy glee; "...the sex is amazing."

Itachi fought the furious blush that dared to creep into his pale features and tried to remember what to do with utter lunatics. All that came to mind was, Ibiki's amused voice instructing them to humour the nut-case and try not to make any sudden movements.

He had also said the same thing about dealing with a bored Kakashi.

Fortunately, before he decided to do anything further, a dark shadow materialized and loomed over them.

"Mitarashi."

"Uchiha." Anko nodded, "are you going in or out?"

"In." said Itachi and slipped away.

"We were having an important discussion," Genma whined watching Itachi's back.

"I'm certain." Anko said in such a flat tone, it was impossible to deduce if she was serious or sarcastic.

Genma turned his head. He moved his senbon suggestively and ran his eyes over Anko's body, taking in her lithe form and stopping at her ANBU Lynx mask, tied to her waist.

"Long time no see, captain."

Anko ignored his comment, "please remove yourself from this property, shinobi. My Commander is off limits for three days."

Raido nodded, jumped down the tree immediately, but Genma didn't budge, "I have a message for him," he smirked.

Anko stared down at him, "if it is important, I'd be happy to deliver it."

"Ok." Genma smirked wider and stood slowly, "tell him that…I think his ANBU Lynx is flaming hot. Very very sexy."

Before he even blinked, Genma found his senbon pressed at the side of his throat. Just one more little push and it would be instant paralysis.

"Don't get smart with me shinobi," Anko murmured dangerously.

Genma smirked at a stunned Raido and raised an eye-brow, signaling him not to get involved. Although he himself was very shocked, Genma was too good a ninja to actually move from it.

"I'm already smart, captain," he replied lazily. Suddenly and with lightening speed, he turned and slammed Anko into the tree trunk pinning her limbs in an instant.

They were nose to nose and immobile and he smiled languidly. Then he lifted her hand, still holding his senbon, to his face and placed the thin weapon back into his mouth.

Deliberately Genma stepped back again and jumped down beside Raido, "I'll be seeing you, captain," he mock-saluted her and disappeared loudly.

Inside the house, Kakashi sighed as he witnessed the entire scene unfold. He hoped to god, Genma knew what he was doing.

He'd really hate to rupture the special jounin's tendons otherwise.

"Kakashi-sempai." Itachi greeted quietly.

Kakashi turned and shoved his hands. He looked resigned, as if he had been expecting Itachi all along. For some reason, this annoyed him.

"Do you believe Shisui had planned the attack on you?" Itachi asked quietly without preamble.

Kakashi tilted his head in mild surprise. Then he smirked, "I'd be dead if that were true."

Itachi's eyes were black orbs in their intensity "then this seal…you say it is powerful enough to immobilize curse-seals. That means, mind-bending genjutsu will be impossible."

Kakashi hesitated. He nodded once, "Yes. "

Itachi's expression turned stormy, "I can blast your seal into pieces if I want."

Kakashi was relaxed enough, but he kept his eyes trained on Itachi. Wary.

"if I submit to this," Itachi murmured, "I will be betraying my clan."

Kakashi stilled, no longer looking indifferent, "no, Itachi," his eyes softened, "I understand how you feel-"

"You don't," Itachi's voice though short, was calm, and controlled, "you can't. You will not, "he turned with fluid grace, blinking blood red eyes, "not after you issued level-1 security surveillance on my clan."

Kakashi's gaze flickered, and their eyes locked, "I have to do something."

"I am the next clan-head. My loyalty is to my clan." Itachi surprised himself by turning deathly pale and taking several steps nearer to Kakashi, "Because it has to be."

Something like approval gleamed in the mismatched eyes. It made Itachi wary at once.

Kakashi leaned on the counter, his body lax and indolent despite Itachi's proximity, despite the activated sharingan, "Loyalty as clan-head is to guide its members. As a shinobi it is to simply protect the village, "his voice turned soft, "loyalty as ANBU is to do both duties, Itachi. At the same time."

Itachi saw red. Never in his life had he experienced such rage. What did Kakashi know about clan and family? What did he know about duty and commitments? About things you do not just abandon for anything.

Itachi hissed, his voice ice-like" Before you go preaching loyalty to me, take a good look at your father's grandiose life. Take a good look at your life Hatake Kakashi, through the Sharingan you stole from a team-mate. Is that loyalty? This seal is an elaborate plan to harm my clan. You wish to ruin us through me. "

Kakashi removed his hands from his pockets casually. He shrugged, looking strained, "interesting theory. Now, get out. You've made your choice."

There was no warning, just a blur flickered forwards striking blows so fast it was taking all of Kakashi's attention just to keep the hands away.

Then Kakashi caught Itachi's fists and pulled him close, matching Itachi's heated gaze with his own steely regard.

Itachi backed up and lunged again. As expected, his fist connected with air.

Kakashi had disappeared

Instinct guided Itachi to look up; Kakashi was balanced on the ceiling, lithe and camouflaged to the point of invisible. Itachi made a seal, and a dragger shot out of thin air. Kakashi dispelled the genjutsu with a loud bang.

Chakra lit up and the house was surrounded by ANBU soldiers in an instant. They enclosed around like eerie black ghosts at every open window, door or the roof. They froze when Kakashi turned at them, looking thunderous.

The next moment Kakashi had flickered behind Itachi, grabbing his shoulder and together they disappeared in a furious bang.

They appeared out of thin air, several feet above the ground in the training field. Kunai suddenly twirling in his hand Itachi turned to gut Kakashi. Even at point-blank, Kakashi ducked, using Itachi's leg to manoeuvre mid-air and suddenly they were plummeting into the dirty pond below.

The water was ice-cold, and the shock of it had Itachi swallowing a lot. It took only seconds for him to regain control, but it was enough for Kakashi to bind his arms and legs completely. His body sank again, kept over only by the thin chakra binds in Kakashi's hands.

"Is this enough then." Kakashi asked pleasantly, crouching on the water, "or do you want more."

Itachi concentrated chakra at his feet and flew up like a dolphin, aiming an infuriated stab at Kakashi's throat. Kakashi stopped it with one hand and the binds tightened painfully, now spreading out to his feet too. Itachi fell under water, and it was some seconds before Kakashi pulled him up again.

"Do you love them?" Kakashi asked his voice honestly curious.

Itachi glared, Sharingan spinning dizzily, conjuring genjutsu strong enough to burn Kakashi's skin off. The binds sizzled and began sucking off his chakra. Itachi widened his eyes in alarm, just realising how correctly Kakashi had estimated him and how severely he had underestimated Kakashi.

"Do you love your clan, boy?" Kakashi repeated calmly, "Are they important to you?"

Itachi was white with fury, "Yes!"

Kakashi tilted his head, "will you die for them?"

"Yes!"

"Will you die for every single one of them? Even the ones plotting against your father, against you. Against this village?"

The Sharingan stilled. Itachi stilled.

"Go home. Hug your mother. Go, fuck your favourite cousin. Feast with your clan-elders tonight. At the end of it, if you think even one Uchiha is not worth dying for, Report to the sealing." Kakashi bent forwards, locking their eyes, "I am willing to die for every one of my soldiers. Even you."

Itachi looked astonished.

Kakashi finally let go. He leapt back and landed gracefully, hands in his pockets again. He half turned to disappear, eyes still looking at Itachi, "This is the last time you will be this vulnerable," his expression hardened, "do you understand me?"

The boy just watched him, pale and hallow. He nodded once.

Kakashi wondered if he ever looked like that, so lost while still on the path, so hopeful. So willing to hate and love, and so undecided on either.

He sighed disappeared without another sound.

.

.


Author's note:

Dear reader,

hope you liked it. next chapter is "the academy" so be prepared for narutoness :)

please review...they encourage me.

P.S. the madness with Genma is dedicated to Cuzosu :) . be warned it's only going to escalate.