I know I am late, horribly late. It's a shame that I have so little time and inspiration for this, but your reviews are the only thing that can keep me going, and fr that I thank you.
ade: Kawarimi (according to Narutopedia at least) can be used by anyone, and the exploding-tags-attached thing is a nice surprise after all. Besides the objective wasn't to fool Itachi, but to stall for time.
uchiha-luver: Why thank you, I am glad we share the same ideals on a crossover! I did this on purpose however, as it is my first crossover fic and I am not so confident to try and add more characters from Naruto, and besides that collides with my own style. I tend to use the same storyline as the manga (or anime sometimes) and then just let the story unfold as it should. Adding more that two or three characters really complicates the procedure. As for the updates, I am sorry but I'll disappoint you there, because it becomes increasingly difficult for me to write. The only thing that can somewhat help in this matter is nothing else but reviews! :)
I know one thing, I own nothing!
"Captain! There you are!"
"These are the Strawhats! Just as Captain Hikaku said! Get them!"
Zoro sighed. "It's about time they showed up, and just at the worst moment too."
"I won't let them interfere with the weird-eyes' fight!" Luffy proclaimed, his determination radiating off him like a halo.
"I do think their fight is already over" Sanji said with a serious face. The crew watched as Itachi fell to his knees, then to the sand, unconscious. "Itachi... lost?" Usopp began panicking.
"I don't think that's the case." Zoro said as he drew out his katanas. The rest of the crew looked at the Navy captain.
Black flames engulfed the lower half of his torso, and were moving quickly upwards. Hikaku's face was panicked and pale, and his hands were trembling as he tried to form some handseals, but the flames were quick and true to their aim, as soon his lungs and heart betrayed him and he fell to the ground, while the black flames continued their work, spreading the sickening smell of burnt flesh around. A rifle shot passing mere inches from Sanji's face brought them back to reality.
"Zoro! Sanji! With me! Chopper, get Itachi! The rest of you defend the ship and make preparations to leave." Luffy ordered before jumping down on the sandy beach and engaging the marines.
The crew jumped into action in an instant, showing amazing teamwork and zeal. Hands blossomed on the mast and the rails, as Robin prepared the sails by herself. Franky vanished at the lower decks to prepare the ship's engines, and Usopp released a storm of pachinko balls on the firing marines, sending them running for cover from the sniper's accurate shots. Chopper rushed by Itachi's side, quickly checking his vitals, and carried him to the infirmary.
The real battle though was waged a few meters from the ship, where Luffy, Zoro and Sanji had engaged the marines to close combat. It seemed that the marines had learned their lesson; those attacking were all battle-adept, with various scars to prove it. It seemed that they were all at least Lieutenants or higher in rank and fighting power.
"Gomu gomu no gatling!"
"Party Table Kick Course!"
The fighting trio's attacks kept stalling for time, as the rest of the crew finished the hasty preparations for a quick Coup de Burst, pushing the marines back and disorienting them for as much as possible.
"We are ready!" Franky shouted as he emerged from below deck. With an offensive burst, they pushed the marines one last time, before running back to their ship.
"Hold on, people!" Franky warned. "Chicken Voyage!"
The lion figurehead started spinning, making the ship go backwards, much to the gathering marines' shock and disbelief. "Coup de Burst!"
The ship shot forward, leaving a massive wave that knocked down the marines, but didn't put out the black flames that burned on their captain's ashes, even though there was nothing to burn.
"So you have come to finish it, Itachi..."
"Captain Inabi! I am sorry! They got away! We couldn't stop them, and Captain Hikaku is dead-"
"Prepare the ship for departure. We will head for Sabaody Archipelago, and will wait them there. Also, get me the Den-Den Mushi. I have some calls to make."
"Yes, sir! But what about Captain Hikaku?"
Focusing on the flames, the Uchiha activated his Mangekyo Sharingan and put them out.
"Collect them and make preparations for a funeral. Captain Hikaku was killed in action, and must be honored as much."
Uchiha Inabi turned and made his way to his ship, his face grim. He had sensed the high spikes of chakra, both Itachi's and Hikaku's. He had warned the fool not to engage Itachi on his own, but apparently the hot-headed Captain thought he knew better. At least he hoped that Hikaku did some damage before he went down, judging from the final large spike of his chakra. Grinding his teeth, he picked up his pace. The rest wouldn't be happy to hear the news.
"I think they lost us" Usopp reported, after scanning the horizon with his goggles.
"Chopper, how is he?"
"I- I think he will be fine. He has suffered a good score of hits, but that's something that can heal in a few weeks' time." Chopper said tiredly. The small doctor had nursed Itachi for a good ten hours straight, while allowing only Nami inside to assist him once in a while. "What troubles me is that he seems to be hit mentally as well. I mean, if the other guy hit him with the same thing he hit us... he could be out cold for hours, or even a couple of days. His eyes worsened again, though not as much as the first time I saw him. He will need rest"
"And we didn't get to collect any supplies..." Sanji groaned. This was going to be a long journey.
"We did get the Log Pose to set though... and I think that the next island will be close."
"I hope so. The remaining supplies will last for two weeks at most... and that means that Luffy won't try to sneak into the kitchen to stuff his face again!" Sanji glared at the boy, who just smiled sheepishly.
"Speaking of weird powers, what the hell was that black flame?" Zoro asked, even though he knew it would be pointless.
"It seems that Itachi-san has more aces up his sleeve than we think he has" Robin also seemed thoughtful on the matter.
"Anyway, he will be with us again, and as I understand" Zoro nodded at Chopper "he will be for some time. I think it is about time we ask for answers. And I mean clear answers. We saved his life, he owes us as much"
"That is something to decide and do after he has awoken, at least" Nami butted in, sparing Chopper the protest. "Also, we must prepare, as the marines would likely hunt us down, so we must save our strength."
"So it is as we suspected..."
"Yes. Hikaku has fallen. Itachi has joined forces with the Strawhats. As we speak, they are headed to Sabaody Archipelago. Should we let the Admirals handle this?"
"No, he might spill the beans. Even though none will believe him, we must not leave any loose ends. Go and find him there. If he is injured, you will be able to finish him quickly. I will get you a few Pacifistas to aid you; these things don't actually think."
"Shouldn't there be at least two of us?"
"We won't make it in time, and this is a rare chance. Besides, it is unlikely for you to get gold feet."
"I know of his skill, that's all. Fine, I'll do it."
"Keep me informed, I will pass the information to the others."
Inabi put the microphone on the communication device.
"He is awake!" Chopper said excitedly at the breakfast/battlefield table. Luffy immediately gulped down his food and dashed to the infirmary, with the others following in a more tidy manner. The sight of Itachi however took the edge off Luffy's enthusiasm; his pale face watching him with his usual calm expression had something so authoritative, that even Luffy was taken aback.
"Welcome back, Itachi-san" Robin tried to defuse the heavy atmosphere.
"Quite a lot... we will discuss over lunch though, you could use some rest" Zoro intervened before Luffy could start his chatter. The rest of the crew got the message (well, except Luffy, but Nami dragged him out anyway) and left.
"So, here is a special meal – NO LUFFY YOU WON'T GET ANY – for Itachi and the ladies – GET YOUR FILTHY PAWS OFF THEM – to help with his recuperation." Sanji said in a combination of yelling and talking normally. Itachi ate in silence as usual, deflecting the offending stretching hands without even batting an eyelid (oh, the power of habit) and ignoring the trademark rucus of the Strawhat's meal time. When the meal ended though, and Sanji served the tea, came the moment of truth that he knew that would come, should he stick with them. His mind worked overtime since the morning visit; how much could he afford to say? How much could he keep a secret? The conflicting duties and his ideals made him ponder deeply.
"So, Itachi" Zoro started "that man-"
"Roronoa-san." Itachi cut him off. "Please don't try to play with words. It is not like you."
Silence fell to the room. Itachi took a deep breath and continued.
"That man is one of those that I must kill without fail. Please don't ask me why. As you can see, they are among the World Government high-ranking officers, and that's why I didn't want to associate anyone with me. Also, they want to kill me too. It is a mission that I have to complete, and in doing so, I will be a wanted man. Sure you know-"
"Tell us something new, idiot" Sanji said as he lit a cigar.
"You happen to talk to pirates, for once, and pirates who have shot the World Goverment's flag in particular" Nami said. "Don't you know about-"
"These men have the same eyes as I have" Itachi interrupted her. "You don't know what these eyes can do, you don't know what these men can do, you don't have the slightest clue on how to defend yourselves!" Sensing his emotional disturbance, he forced himself to calm down, giving Zoro the opportunity to ask about another thing.
"Like that black flame?"
Itachi sighed. These people were definitely weird. Either they didn't know what they had gotten themselves dragged into, or they were insane. Shaking his head, he decided to show a few of his cards. Making other people suffer for him wasn't what he would allow as long as he could, and this time information was the key.
"The Sharingan eyes grand me some powers. One of these powers is this."
"Come to think of it" Usopp said thoughtfully "You said that the Sharingan runs only on your lineage. That means that this guy was your relative?"
Itachi froze. It was a matter of time before they figured it out, but it seemed that the crew were not as thick as he initially assumed. "A fellow clan member who had gone rogue" he said. What better way to hide the truth by revealing a small part of it? He just hoped that he could leave those people without causing them any more harm, willingly or unwillingly.
Luffy sighed. "Itachi"
The room fell silent again. Then Luffy began to speak, and Itachi understood why this man was considered such a threat to the World Government: he had an air of authority and confidence that he had never before shown to him, and judging from the crew's serious faces, he assumed that this was a rare occasion too. "I know that you don't trust us, and you want to bear all the burden just by yourself. I will just ask you to believe in us, just as we believe in you"
A bitter smile made his way to Itachi's lips. 'So much like a true Hidden Leaf ninja, even if he doesn't know'
"Also, I'd like to ask you again to join us. We will be targeted anyway, and if these people you hunt are as fearsome, you can protect us from them. As for them, they will come after us seeking you eventually, and we can help you finish your mission."
"You are truly quick to trust an enemy"
"You have no idea" Zoro laughed.
Itachi stood up and knelt before his new captain. "My name is Uchiha Itachi of the Hidden Village of the Leaf. I hereby my services and life to Captain "Strawhat" Monkey D. Luffy, until the completion of my mission."
"What was all that about?" Sanji asked in annoyance.
"Proper introductions my ass! Welcome aboard! Everyone..." Luffy held up is mug excitedly.
A/N: I know the battles of the Strawhats are none too great, but I think it is a waste to try and glorify them beating to a pulp some no-name marines anyway. Don't worry though, something more exciting coming up! Also, regarding Hikaku's Tsukuyomi, yea, he isn't that skilled with it, but even slightly skilled can do such things (by my estimate) I mean, Kakashi was out cold for a month by a skilled attack, and no, Sasuke wasn't skilled at it at all when he fought Danzo, in fact it may well have been his first time, as far as I know.
Until next time, Read and Review, Reviews is the lifeblood of every author at FF
George T. I.