This chapter finally has a certain UCHIHA ITACHI. Are you excited? Me too. :D

Chapter Four: First Glimpse (Rin)


Karin and I spent about twenty minutes shuffling through senpai's things before we finally found a scroll in his desk. We snapped it open and saw an unfamiliar seal on it. There were no instructions anywhere on the scroll.

Karin snatched it from the desk and threw it across the room. "Useless Kabuto!" she yelled.

"Agreed." I sighed. "Let's keep looking," I said, turning to a filing cabinet. I pulled open the drawers, flipping through the files, debating on whether or not to throw them across the room as well. I really considered trashing his office, just in case my letter was too subtle. I heard Karin shove the desk into the wall in a fit of rage.

"Why do you have such a retarded senpai, Rin-chan?"

"Couldn't tell you." I slammed the drawer I was going through shut. "Maybe he'll write me back and explain his stupidity."

"Hah, I wonder what he'd – oh, shit, the owl –"

I turned around and saw Fuku peering at me, holding a letter in his beak, perched on the desk Karin just shoved into the wall. "Nice," I said, taking the letter. "Thanks, Fuku-chan."

"He didn't seem happy with whatever you wrote him, Rin-chan," Fuku said.

"And he shouldn't have been," I replied, hoping that I hadn't pushed senpai too far. I tore open the envelope and unfolded his letter.

Rin-chan,

I don't know what you're talking about. If the barrier went down you'll just have to put it back up yourself. There's a scroll in my desk with a seal on it, and nothing else. Take it outside and use it on the perimeter trees. You'll have to prick your finger to use it, but you'll live. We'll be back in a week and a half – don't forget to go shopping.

And don't ever talk to me that way again, Rin-chan. Must I remind you what happens to those who can't keep their tempers regarding their superiors? I'll accept your apology in person when I return.

Kabuto

"What the fuck is this shit?" I demanded. "You don't know what I'm talking about? Really? Ugh!" I threw his letter across the room. "Like I'm really going to apologize to you, jerk!"

"Rin-chan," Karin said, picking up and skimming the letter. "Do you want to trash his office?"

I was so tempted, but I already made Kabuto-senpai angry, and I didn't need to push it. He had been lenient and indulgent of me for so long, that I really had forgotten how scary he could be. Last time he was angry with me, he got pretty abusive. "Nah, let's just find that scroll." I saw it crumpled up on the floor and picked it up and rolled it back together neatly. "Okay, let's go secure the perimeter and shit."

"And shit," she agreed.

"And then sleep," I added. "I'm effing tired.


I knew it was inevitable. It was going to happen. Kabuto-senpai even told me that it had to be done, and I absolutely dreaded it.

Shopping.

And even worse than that: inventory.

After two hours of making list after list, going from bathrooms to kitchens to the storage room, I had broken my pencil in a fit of rage.

Sasuke just stared at me like I was a two-year-old.

Karin just handed me her list for the laboratory.

I grimaced. It was two and a half feet long on the scroll, and Karin had small, neat handwriting.

"Are you sure you need everything on this list?" I asked her. "I mean, I can get all of this stuff in Akita, right?" Akita was about the closest town in Rice Field Country that could support a large market and numerous shops.

"Um," Karin looked thoughtful. "You should be able to get most of it."

I wanted to kill her then. Really.

Lucky for her, Sasuke handed me the list he got from the genin. I sighed, it was only one page.

"How are you going to get all of this stuff back here?" he asked.

I could feel a scowl twisting my features. "Horse. And buggy."

He snorted. "Have fun." I decided to focus all of my rage at Sasuke at that point, and gave him the deadliest glare I could muster. His pale face twisted into a smirk, which was not at all attractive. I really didn't see what Karin saw in him. I mean, he was good-looking, but he was a complete jerk. I felt bad for any girl that loved him. I shrugged and turned.

"Okay, well, I'm heading out," I said. "Oh, and, have fun together." I could practically feel Sasuke turn a different color behind my back as he fully realized that he would be alone with Karin. He turned and went down the hall. I heard his bedroom door slam shut and all the locks turn. "Sorry Karin," I said, glancing back at her disappointed face. "Looks like he's going to be a hermit today." She only smiled and shrugged, and I waved and opened the back door. "See you later."

"Bye, Rin-chan."

I closed the door and made my way to the barn where we kept the horses and the buggy. It stood out in the trees, a wide red building accented by the changing leaves. I used to play in the barn as a genin, but when Kabuto-senpai took me on when I was thirteen, I really stopped playing. I was pretty sure that the genin now still played in the barn. There was a swing up at one point, but I hadn't seen it in a year or so. I rubbed my arms, glad that I had worn a jacket. It wasn't a week into November, but it was getting really cold.

As I approached the barn, I could hear the horses inside whicker. They could probably hear me coming. Hiro-chan had already hitched them to the buggy for me, so all I would have to do is hop in and ride. I came around the door and found them waiting for me, blowing hot air out of their noses, tossing their heads in anticipation.

"Ready to go?" I asked them, smiling.

Hiro-chan bounced out of a corner. "Yes! Let's go, Rin-sama!"

"Who said you were coming, kiddo?" I demanded playfully.

"I'm your protégé, I have to go!" he exclaimed, climbing in the buggy.

I sighed like it was a really big deal. "Okay." I climbed in the buggy beside him and took the reins. I was glad to have the company at least.


"Hiro-chan," I asked, looking at my half-empty pocky box. "Could you go buy me another box of strawberry pocky?" We were all set to go, but I really needed this one last thing. The pocky had to last until the next trip into Akita, and I had already eaten half of it. Maybe Kabuto-senpai was right. Maybe I should watch my figure a little more.

Hiro-chan nodded, jumping down from the cart and walking down the street, then turning the corner. I leaned back, propping my feet up and closing up the box and setting it beside me. I put it too close to the edge though, and it fell off and onto the ground. Luckily, the box stayed closed.

I sighed and bent over to get it, but a hand flashed out in front of mine and grabbed it before I did.

"Hey-" I stopped, looking up at the proffered pink box in a purple-nailed hand. I froze, looking past the hand and at the cloak the hand was wearing. Black, with red clouds.

Akatsuki.

Slowly, I looked up at the face and felt my teeth click together. Sharingan eyes peered at me over the high collar of the cloak. I froze. Uchiha Itachi really did look a lot like Sasuke.

He stared at me, still holding the box out to me. I forced my hand out to his, grasping the other end of the box.

He didn't let go.

"Katsuragi Rin."

I gaped at him. "Um, you know me?" What the hell?

His head tilted a little to the side, and the corners of his mouth seemed to go up the slightest, most miniscule millimeter. "Yes, I know who you are. You're the daughter of the marquis of a very, very large estate." His eyes were still, resting on my face, but I had the feeling that he was looking at me all over somehow. Maybe he was using his sharingan to examine my chakra. Whatever he was doing, it felt like he was trying to take in …something more than my image.

"You know my family?" I asked, warily, thinking of senpai's words about my father. If he was double crossing Orochimaru, he was dead. Not that that thought bothered me that much, but I wondered of whoever killed him and my mother would stop before they got to my little brother, Shonosuke. I couldn't let anything happen to him.

"I know your father," Itachi replied. "They're having a winter ball next month, as you should know."

I frowned. "I thought it was in January." On the second of November, Kabuto-senpai said, "in two months", which meant January. Itachi was talking about December. Either senpai misinformed me, or someone lied to him or Itachi.

Itachi's pale face pulled into a frown. "Does your family do this often, Rin-san?"

I looked away, ashamed at my parents' childishness. Although, it was probably mostly my mother's doing. "I'm sure it was an accident," I said. Even though it wasn't.

"It is vitally important that you attend this ball," he said. "I cannot go into detail at the moment, and I don't know what your father thinks he's playing at, misinforming you, but if you're not there, then there is no point in the Akatsuki being here." His face made no expression, but I could sense his irritation.

"What is my father doing with the Akatsuki?" I asked carefully.

He let go of the box of pocky and let his hand fall to his side. "You'll be informed at the ball," he said, after a moment. His hand came up again and held the side of my face, surprising me. His palm was cold against my cheek, and his fingers threaded through my short hair. My heart skipped a beat in anticipation – I almost expected him to kiss me. "Wear something nice," he finally said, dropping his hand and turning away. "Let's keep this meeting between us, shall we, Rin-san?"

I couldn't find my voice as I watched his retreating back. Finally, when he disappeared into the crowd, I managed, "O-okay."


Kabuto-senpai and Orochimaru came back in mid-November, two days before my birthday. Apparently their business had concluded sooner than expected. I didn't ask them about it, and I didn't really care that much anyway. I was still preoccupied with thoughts of Itachi and the Akatsuki's business with my father.

I hadn't said anything at all to Sasuke about meeting his brother. I really didn't know how he would react, and after saving my neck with the explosion note, I wasn't willing to rock our newfound camaraderie. It's better to have more allies than enemies, at least in my book.

Aside from the Itachi-drama, I had to concern myself with Kabuto-senpai's pointed remarks about apologizing to him for the conduct of my very rude letter. He finally cornered me in his office the day after he and Orochimaru got back, when I had come in to get a bottle of multivitamins.

"I'm still waiting for that apology, Rin-chan," he said, standing in front of the door so I couldn't leave. A wave of animosity rolled off of him, letting my intuition know to watch my step. He reached his arm behind him, keeping his hardened eyes on me, and locked the door. I knew at that moment he was really angry at me. He definitely did not appreciate his student telling him to fuck off and die, among other things, and definitely did not find it amusing like I sort of thought he would. I never could read Kabuto all too well.

I squirmed in the vice-like fear his anger gave me. "I'm sorry," I finally said.

His stature didn't relax as he approached me and took me by the arms. I looked up at him, wincing, because I expected him to shake me or hit me. He shoved me into the wall instead. Grabbing me by the chin, he forced my head up to face him.

"Don't ever disrespect me like that again, Rin-chan."

I swallowed my heart down and nodded.


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