The Reluctant Hokage
Part 1: Decisions Don't Come Easy
He knows he is too old to be Hokage, but after losing Minato, there's no one else. He reclaims the office because Danzou is the alternative. While he understands Danzou better than he'd like to admit, he can't trust his former rival with the future of the village.
It all comes to a head when young Itachi reports upon his family's plans to revolt. The child – and Sandaime can only see him as a child, despite his accomplishments – delivers his reports to the council in a monotone voice, but Sandaime can see the boy's heart is breaking. He's made the decision to protect his village over his family, but it's costing him everything.
The council debates over what to do. Homura and Koharu side with Danzou, and go so far as to draft a plan for the extermination of the clan. Sandaime stares in horror at the prepared scroll, which only needs his signature to become an order.
He begs one night to think it over, and the other three reluctantly agree. He spends the night awake, staring at the pictures of the others who have held his office. He wonders how he failed so badly to come to this. The village is the most important thing in his life, more important than the life of any one man, but somehow he's lost an entire clan to ambition.
He summons Itachi early the next morning, knowing that he must be decisive. The council watches with grim faces as Itachi kneels before them, his eyes glossy with unshed tears as he begs to be allowed to spare his brother. He will destroy his clan and the threat they pose, but he cannot raise his hand against the person he loves most in the world.
It breaks Sandaime's heart, who can only promise that Sasuke will be protected. Itachi thanks him softly, and Sandaime feels tears start to form in his own eyes. This mission will destroy not only a clan, but this promising child who loves Konoha as much as Sandaime does.
As he holds out the scroll to the Itachi, he suddenly realizes there is another path. The council watches in horror as he throws it away, and announces that he will train Uchiha Itachi as his successor. The boy has proven himself loyal, and his family should be appeased that one of their own is to become the village's next leader.
It's not a perfect solution, but it is the only compromise Sandaime can reach to keep Konoha from being torn apart from within. He will believe in Uchiha Itachi, in a thirteen-year-old boy who loves his village more than his own life. The boy has the heart of a Hokage, and Sandaime knows Itachi contains enough of the Will of Fire to stand against any threat to the village – even if the threat is his own family.