Eye of the Storm
This is my first story. I hope it meets the expectations of whomever reads it! (There is no guarantee on when I'll update, though. Things are crazy right now in real life, though this is a nice break from it.)
Summary: In order to protect an innocent child, the Hokage did something many would call unforgivable. But would the ends justify the means this time?
Disclaimer: No, I do not own Naruto. No, I do not own the plot. No, I do not care to repeat myself every single chapter.
Please note that there are two different Sasukes in this story. One is an Uchiha. The other is NOT.
October 10th was not, as many would assume, a day of celebration in the Hidden Leaf Village. There were no festivals or people skipping happily in the streets, as they might during any celebration. Instead, it was a day of mourning. Many people—their best and their brightest, no less—had died; who in his or her right mind would throw a party for that? The village had won against a single foe, and the price they'd paid for defeating one enemy had been very high. In the end, none of their skills had done any good. Not one person had placed the smallest scratch on the beast; no one could touch it, including their legendary leader. In the end, it was only through the strength of a newborn infant that the demon had been conquered, and for a village of ninja and civilians filled with confidence and pride in their many talents, this was unforgivable.
'Better to have been killed than disgraced,' more than a few secretly thought. Being humbled and humiliated so...effortlessly had infuriated them. Most took their humiliation to the point that they believed the babe had NOT truly been able to contain It. If their strengths, skills, and talents had not been enough, then, surely, neither was his. In their minds, it was only reasonable to assume that either the demon would break out the moment it thought its enemies weren't watching or that the boy and the monster were one and the same. Surely, no ordinary child could stop such a beast!
Was it not more likely that the Yondaime had simply changed the creature's form and made it mortal? Was it not far more believable that it was merely biding its time? All the nonsense the Third spouted was just to make them leave the "boy" alone; what if, by killing the "infant," they accidentally released that thing into the world again? What if it resumed its original form? Yes, they would not touch the "child," but they would not buy Sarutobi-sama's words. But they WOULD make the demon regret ever touching them; they would make it regret ever making them feel shame and fear. And then, once they'd found a way around its human body/form, they'd make sure to send it to the deepest pits of Hell—where it belonged!
Then, and only then, could the souls of their murdered loved ones rest and their wounded pride be healed. Then, and only then, would they ever dare celebrate. But it would never be on October 10th.
Of course, not everyone agreed to that, and sometimes, desperate measures had to be taken to protect the innocent.
"Father, I want to go! Why can't you just let me? I know I'm not as strong as you and never will be, but-"
"My son, this isn't one of your adventures. I've already lost your oldest brother to this man; I refuse to lose you, too. You know that you are no match for him-"
The twenty-year-old Asuma Sarutobi slammed his fist down onto the older man's desk. "Then, send my team! He's gonna keep killing people if we don't do something, and together, we can-"
"No. You are dismissed." He would say no more on the subject. His decision was final.
Asuma's eyes widened and his jaw dropped in shock. His father was dismissing him just like that? He was just going to let that murderer go free? The young man then clenched his jaw in rage. This was one order he refused to obey! His brother's killer would be brought to justice, be it through imprisonment and torture or through a trip to Hell by his own hand. No one—NO one!-would take that away from him.
He turned on his heel and walked out, never looking back. His team, formerly his brother's, was waiting for him to supposedly hear the Hokage's answer and obey. But Asuma knew the truth; they were going after the man no matter what. For him, for their best friend, even the life of a missing-nin wold be a small price to pay. Really, his father should have known better. Their tempers were much alike.
The Jounin quickly walked down the hall and exited through a window rather than taking the stairs. They were supposed to meet up on the top of the Hokage Monument as soon as possible, and he was looking forward to leaving. Akira and Gorou, the twin brothers of the Hisakawa family, would be eager to leave at once. Ibiki and he were the only ones that ever bothered to think ahead, so they occasionally had to restrain the others. Still, they didn't worry him. That was Satomi's job, after all. She always worried him.
Satomi had taken his death harder than any of them, including Asuma himself. She and his brother, Sasuke*, had always been rather close, and maybe even more than just friends. In fact, he was pretty sure they'd gone far beyond the limits of friendship a long time ago. He just hoped that she didn't let the thought of revenge go to her head. She was usually calm and cool—something he'd always admired in the fairer sex, as had Sasuke, obviously—but she'd recently been a little less...controlled. And she'd started acting that way BEFORE his brother's death. Asuma was really, really hoping it was just because of the winter weather. Some people's moods were affected by the seasons, after all, so maybe that was it.
But he wasn't counting on it and made a mental note to keep an eye on her.
Within minutes, he'd arrived at his location on top of the Second Hokage's head and discreetly checked for any presence that should not be there, such as ANBU or random civilians wanting to kiss in private...or worse. But, to his relief, he only sensed the two red-heads Akira and Gorou (whose presences were almost identical), the bald Ibiki, and dark-haired Satomi. They were alone.
He walked into the trees as quietly and secretly as a shadow and then whistled once, twice, and waited. A different whistle answered him, and four people landed silently on the ground in a circle surrounding him.
"Yo. Pops said no," he stated without embellishment.
For a moment, not a sound could be heard, and then, Gorou spoke up.
"So...when do we leave?"
Asuma cracked a grin. "Soon, man. Soon."
"First," Ibiki broke in, "we have to get some supplies and plans together. This guy's no pushover, so we're going to need to be prepared. Be sure to leave your wills behind, too. Like I said, this isn't going to be easy and we'll very likely die."
Satomi snorted. "Like you're one to talk, Ibiki. You've gotta take care of the...child. I imagine it's going to be pretty hard finding someone willing to take in that kid."
Asuma had to agree. "Yeah, how are you going to handle it?"
The interrogator, for his part, merely glared at his comrades. "That's my business, not yours. Now, I say we meet up back here in twelve hours. We'll discuss the target and plans along the way. Asuma's probably already got at least four in mind, and I know I've got a few. We'll go over them and pick the best strategy. But for now, go spend some time with your family while you can."
With that, he abruptly turned and walked away; within moments, he had disappeared into the trees as though he were but a wraith. His teammates looked at each other, nodded, and went their separate ways.
But Satomi...she stayed behind for a moment longer and placed a trembling hand on her stomach. She was afraid.
Ibiki sighed as he headed towards his home. Very few people knew where it was—supposedly for his own safety—and he liked it that way. Crowds bothered him; they offered enemies too many angles to attack from and were extremely irritating, besides. Therefore, he lived on the outskirts of the village where there were, happily, no neighbors around to really piss him off. The house was literally in the woods, and those didn't crowd Ibiki at all. His brother was there, of course, but Idate was hardly old enough to be much of a nuisance.
'Well,' he mused to himself as he stepped through the front door and saw the damage, 'at least he can't be worse than Naruto.' Even at the age of two, he was rather destructive in a way the four-year-old Idate would (hopefully) never be. And apparently, the brat's favorite color was orange, and a bright shade of it, if the crayon marks on the wall were any indication.
The room, a rather plain square formation, was also surprisingly bare. An old, battered couch sat against the wall to the right, a rocking chair was right next to it, and something resembling a coffee table stood on the floor before them both. It was an awkward arrangement, but he was an interrogator, not an interior decorator.
However, this was too much. As far as Ibiki could tell, the little toddler had been using the coffee table as a canvas for his artistic side and then, after running out of room, had discovered the wooden floor to be every bit as useful. Then, he'd run out of floor and moved onto the walls. Orange, green, blue, and pink squiggles adorned every surface Naruto had been able to reach, but orange was the most prominent and therefore the favorite.
Even the babysitter's hair was now suspiciously orange. 'But how'd Naruto manage to change the color of it? Crayon doesn't go on hair...' A giggle caught his attention then, and two round, happy faces peered out from behind the couch. 'Two orange paint-splattered, round, happy faces,' Ibiki quickly corrected to himself. Now he knew how the sitter's hair had change colors, although he still had no idea how the two children had gotten the paint in the first place. He certainly didn't keep any around the house. The feared interrogator shrugged and decided to figure out the details later. In the meantime, he had a fellow ninja to maim.
He stalked towards the rocking chair with two sets of bright eyes watching his every move. The man sitting there had no idea what was about to happen to him. How could he? The sitter was asleep with a book over his face and his head hanging off the back of the chair.
'Geez...one of the village's greatest, and he can't even keep an eye on a couple of children! Didn't he hear them moving around? An enemy ninja he'd catch, but when it comes to...' Ibiiki's thoughts trailed off as a cruel smirk planted itself on his face. An idea had just struck him and the opportunity was not something he could bring himself to pass up.
Two feet away from the sleeping sitter, Ibiki silently drew a kunai from the pouch on his right thigh and stared in amazement as Kakashi abruptly sprang up, sent his precious book flying, and had the interrogator's own kunai at Ibiki's neck before he could blink.
The young Morino wasn't afraid. No, instead, he found the whole situation absolutely hilarious. A grin spread across his face and he just couldn't help pointing out a few things to the legendary ninja holding him hostage. "Wow, Kakashi. No wonder the Hokage won't let you take care of Naruto. As a guard, you're great, but as a parent, you suck."
Kakashi, who was still blinking the sleep out of his eye(s), lowered the weapon and handed it back to Ibiki without a word. Then, he looked around and his eye widened. "What the...?"
For the first time in a long time, the scarred Ibiki burst out laughing. "You—ha!-should see your HAIR!"
"M-my hair?" He reached up a hand to run it through his previously gray locks and stopped abruptly. "What is that?" the Jounin asked in a dangerous tone.
All Ibiki did was point to the two boys laughing behind the couch, since he was still having a hard time speaking. Bright orange was NOT a good color on Sakumo's son. And the look on his face-!
Kakashi quickly hopped over the gate separating the living room from the rest of the house and ran up the hall to the bathroom. The moment he turned on the light and looked into the mirror, he screamed.
And Ibiki, poor Ibiki, just couldn't take it anymore and collapsed as he desperately tried to get some oxygen past his very loud laughter. He noticed the two boys having the same problem and thought, 'Idate may not be worse than Naruto, but the two of them together could take down an empire!'
His fellow ninja was far less amused and stomped towards the doubled-over man. "IBIKI! What did you do to my hair!"
"Hahaha! Oh, me? I didn't do anything! It was-" he snorted and pointed to the paint-splattered children, "-them!"
After everyone had calmed down (and Kakashi had stopped crying about his beautiful hair...mostly), the two teenagers sent the two boys to their room and sat on the couch. Ibiki figured he could just hire a Genin team to clean, so he wasn't too upset about the mess. Plus, with his friend still inwardly seething with humiliation, he figured it'd be a good idea to move on to more important things. Therefore, it was the perfect time to address a situation he'd been thinking about for awhile.
Kakashi, startled, just blinked for a moment. "Okay...who?"
The Sharingan user's one , visible eye widened. "Holy shi-"
"Yeah," Ibiki interrupted. "And she's going with us to take down Dragon."
Kakashi slapped his forehead. "That idiot! Doesn't she care about what could happen to the child? This is the man who took out Sasuke single-handedly!"
"I know that, but she's scared and isn't thinking straight, and there's not much I can do about it except go with her to keep her safe." He shifted uncomfortably and sighed. "This Dragon...we're not even sure how he did it, much less why, and yet the whole team wants to go after him. Arrogant, little fools don't have a single clue what they're doing, but they're doing it, anyway. And I'm stuck playing babysitter! Er, no offense, Kakashi."
"None taken. It is, after all," he said with an air of wisdom, "a dangerous job."
Ibiki couldn't help but snicker at that. "Yes, you could lose your hair at any time."
"Hey, those brats ambushed me! They-"
"Aren't even five years old, while you are supposed to be a trained ninja—one of the very best and one of the very few possible contenders for the position of Godaime. Anything else you want me to point out?"
Kakashi just crossed his arms and glared.
The interrogator sniffed. "Fine. Sit there and pout, but we've got a real problem on our hands. Sarutobi-sama knows Asuma's not going to listen to him, and he also knows that the rest of Sasuke's team would chase Dragon down to the ends of the earth."
"And you wouldn't?"
He shot a glance at his friend. "Not out of revenge, no. And not unless I was pretty sure I knew the situation well enough to survive, either. This is our job, Kakashi. We are soldiers who follow orders and do what we can to protect our loved ones. We don't go looking for a fight. Do I think Dragon is dangerous? Yes. Do I think he needs to be killed? Definitely. Are we the best people for the job? I seriously doubt it."
"You're too personally involved."
"Yes, we are. And they are all fools for not realizing this."
"So, what's your objective?"
"To do my best to slow them down and distract them while a team of ANBU and Hunter-nin chase him down. If it comes to it, I'm to do my best to protect them."
"You think you can"? Kakashi seemed skeptical.
Ibiki shrugged and smirked. "You're not the only one on that list for Godaime, you know. I've got some tricks up my sleeve yet. If necessary, I might be able to hold him off long enough for help to arrive." Then, his smile disappeared. "But I don't think I could beat him. Sasuke was extremely powerful, just like his father and grandfather. His name was on that list, too, and God knows he kicked my butt regularly in our spars. The Dragon is either extremely crafty or so powerful that he'll kill us on the spot. Either way, we shouldn't be doing this."
Kakashi sighed. "Then, I guess I'll just have to go along with you to watch your back." He stood up to leave and pack, but Ibiki's next words stopped him.
"No, Kakashi. You're needed here."
"You're very powerful, but someone needs to watch over Naruto. That's more important that this, and you know it, and I don't dare trust anyone else with his safety. You're one of the few who know about him and can handle it. If you and I both die, he'll have no one but the Hokage to watch out for him, and everyone knows how busy he is. What kind of life would that be for the kid?"
Kakashi sat back down in frustration. "Then, what do you want me to do!"
Ibiki stood up this time. "Just stay here 'til I get back or you get word of...well, until you know what's going on. I've got to get some supplies ready. We leave in the morning. You can just stay in the guest room, if you like. It'll give you a chance to get away from all your fans."
The Jounin shuddered. "It's not the females I'm worried about."
He snickered. "Gai giving you trouble again?"
"Yeah. Yesterday, he challenged me to a mud-wrestling contest! I mean, does he have any idea how unsanitary that is! And stop laughing!"
"S-sorry," he choked out. "He sure does pay extra-close attention to you. Are you sure he's not gay?"
"Yeah, I'm sure. He's just a social idiot, is all. Maybe he was dropped on his head a few times as an infant or something..."
Ibiki had to agree. It sure did sound like the former Lady Maito—she'd always dropped everything. Legend had it that she'd once been transporting a diamond-encrusted bowling ball to the Daimyo's nephew for his birthday present and had first dropped it in a random tar pit, then into a river (which had NOT cleaned off all the tar), and then had somehow managed to toss it off a cliff. Still, she'd managed to clean it up and get it to the young lord's party just in time, and no one on her team would say anything about how. They just shuddered and walked away when anyone mentioned it.
After the Lady Maito had left her husband for reasons unknown, she'd raised her young son by herself, and any social skills that Gai could have learned from his father were forgotten as though they'd never existed. The world had not stopped mourning the loss since. Her death last year had taken everyone by surprise, and her son had been even stranger after the funeral. As for Gai's father, he'd simply disappeared after his divorce, so there was no one to take care of him. Friends were all he had left, and his loneliness showed.
But Kakashi knew this, so there was no reason for Ibiki to point it out. The scarred man merely nodded. "Well, when you're watching over the Terrible Two, just remember what happens when you stop paying attention to them. They get bored, and then they get inventive and curious."
But Ibiki wasn't finished talking just yet. "Oh, and if I ever catch you with that book out in front of them again, I'll hang you from the Hokage Monument in the nude. Got it?" he asked the man calmly.
The Jounin gulped. "Got it."
The feared interrogator smiled. He'd worked hard for his reputation and always enjoyed seeing the results of his efforts. It was good to be top dog.
The group met up, as scheduled, early the next morning in the small forest behind the monument. Asuma was relieved to notice that they all looked alert and wide-awake. They were also armed to the teeth—literally, in his case. It made him feel more at ease, something he hadn't felt since planning this little journey. It hadn't felt right since his brother's death one month ago; it wasn't right for him to be leading the team. It should be Sasuke leading them all, as he had done for years.
Many had considered it unusual to see a team of six shinobi, as they'd said it would be harder to travel unseen that way, but Sasuke had proven them wrong. They were the stealthiest team in the Hidden Leaf under his guidance. Others had assumed there would be too much bickering and an unclear chain of command, but that had never been an issue—never. Part of that was because he'd had a rotation system; the whole group rarely worked together. Ibiki spent half of his time in Interrogation; Satomi spent some of hers at the hospital (not that she was a medic but that she often helped injured shinobi with their physical therapy as a volunteer); the two brothers...actually, Asuma wasn't sure what Akira and Gorou did. No one in the village seemed to know. Every time they got a chance, they all trained together, and Sasuke had always made sure that happened at least once per week. No, there were no group issues; they worked very well together even now that their leader was dead.
And Asuma had taken his brother's place.
He eyed the red-headed twins and their deceptively lithe frames. With their loose, gray shirts and sloppy-looking cargo pants, they looked nothing like shinobi. The tattoos running up Akira's right arm and Gorou's left were hidden by lengths of bandages, giving the appearance of hospital patients. He couldn't even detect any weapons pouches on them, but he knew they had them carefully sealed in those so-called harmless tattoos. Even the bows on their backs passed them off as maybe being hunters at the most, but shinobi they were, and two of the most deadly, at that. Those bows of theirs didn't shoot arrows; they shot chakra, and rumor had it that they had been created by the same person who had made the weapons of the Seven Swordsmen of the Mist. Akira and Gorou were their mid- to long-range operatives.
Satomi, the lovely dark-haired woman with golden eyes, was in charge of—surprise, surprise—ninjutsu coverage. It was hard for most people to understand that she had large chakra reserves and excellent control and that she wasn't a medic or genjutsu specialist. Not that she couldn't do first-aid (she volunteered at a hospital, after all), but it was not her chosen field and never would be. She specialized in water and earth techniques, although the kunoichi also knew a few fire jutsu that would turn a tree to ash in seconds, and could flood a battlefield with mud at a moment's notice. She was their close- to mid-range operative but sure didn't appear to be; she always dressed in Hyuuga-style robes, though hers were typically a very dark red.
Ibiki Morino was the wild card in many, many ways. First of all, his expertise was actually in genjutsu. Second of all, his long coat hid his impressive pack of muscle that he could enhance with chakra at the drop of a hat. He couldn't quite pull of Tsunade-type stunts, but he was darn close. Third of all, he was their medic. (Supposedly, he even healed the people he interrogated personally.) He didn't need any weapons on hand, really, but he kept a strange-looking, curvy sword on his back on missions, anyway. Asuma had never seen Ibiki use it, though, so he wondered if the man knew how. That made him a close-range operative in...pretty much anything he wanted to be. Although, Asuma had also never seen him use a single elemental technique. But he had to have a few...right?
That just left himself. He, Asuma, was close- to mid-range, just like Satomi. With his special, wind-enhanced knuckle-dusters, he could basically slice through...everything. And his other wind jutsu could travel a nice distance while, of course, slicing through everything, just like his knives. Then, there was that one technique where he could make an ash cloud explode. Combine that little fire with a little more wind and—BAM!-it friend and cut up everything! Oh yeah, he was baaad. He could do more, too, as their resident taijutsu expert and tactical planner (which Ibiki always helped him with). Sasuke had trained him personally, after all, having been about ten years older and far more experienced.
That thought made his eyes dim slightly. He missed his brother very much. Sasuke and he had always been close, much closer than Asuma had been with any of his other siblings or even their parents, so the blow was especially hard on him. But now, it was time to deal with it and move on...and he knew the best way.
Beat the living daylights out of the moron that had really pissed them off.
"Let's go," he signaled to his group. They used no words and made no noise; what they were doing was dangerous for more reasons than just this Dragon's strength. If caught, it was likely they would be imprisoned or even outright killed for treason, and while death didn't scare them, they'd rather die with dignity than be publicly disgraced as traitors, thank you very much. So they kept their mouths shut and kept to sign language alone.
With that, they leapt into the trees and made for the village wall. It would be no easy feat getting past the guards. At least, it wouldn't have been easy, had Ibiki not been with them. All the two Chuunin guards saw was a small flock of birds flying off to...wherever little birdies went.
But an old man sat in his office and lowered his head into his hands, and he trembled.
(A little bit of history that you don't need to read...)
At the end of the Third Shinobi War, Iwa stood defeated, along with her ally, Kusa. In effect, the war was over and Konoha had emerged victorious for the third time in a row. The world was, in general, pissed. Suna had been knocked out of the running rather early in the game, thanks to their lack of a Kazekage—which is what had started the entire thing in the first place.
The Sandaime Kazekage had disappeared and, of course, Suna had sent its ninja on missions to find out where the heck he'd gone and which village had taken him. Unfortunately, in the ninja world, territory is key, and every country is territorial. Therefore, the act of crossing numerous borders without permission was not taken lightly, and Iwa was the first to issue a warning. When the Hidden Wind refused to listen (since they'd gotten it into their skulls that Iwa was only warning them away out of guilt), they declared war.
It could have ended there, with Iwa and Suna wiping each other off the map while the rest of the villages ate popcorn and watched, but there is something else about the ninja world that is also not taken lightly: alliances. Even thieves have their honor, and so do ninja. If a nation refuses to stand by its ally when it is in need, then that ally will gladly return the favor...with vengeance. And Konoha did not need any more enemies, so, as Suna's ally, it was forced to enter into war, too. Kumo was in the same boat with Iwa, and Kiri...just kept its mouth shut and stayed out of everyone else's way. (The Mist had its own problems to deal with.)
As it turns out, however, Konoha was not at all reluctant to take on Iwa; it had merely been looking for the excuse. Ever since the Rock Village and Kumo had teamed up to take out Uzushiogakure, the Hokage and his soldiers had been rather...antsy, but they'd needed the daimyo and further political support before they had been able to act. Many in the Hidden Leaf Village blessed the Wind for its generous gift and volunteered themselves and their children for duty.
And so began and, years later, ended the Third Shinobi War with, once again, Konoha on top and the rest of the world thoroughly embarrassed.
But Kumo was being stubborn. The Raikage (Konoha "affectionately" called him Old Bastard, but that's beside the point) was a very prideful, arrogant man and couldn't stand the thought of losing. So, he kept the fight going in little skirmishes here and there as he bided his time and made his forces gear up.
And the Leaf took this time to relax as the ninja convinced themselves it'd end "any day now."
(...to be continued)
Author's Note/Message/Rant/Blah blah blah
In case anyone's confused...the Sasuke mentioned in this chapter is NOT the Uchiha. He and the brat share the same first name. That is ALL. They are completely different people. This message is for all those who missed the completely obvious.
This is the first story I've written for this account. I hope it does well, but if it doesn't, I'll survive. Anyway, I edited it pretty well, but my computer's a bit weird with the way it types information, so I probably missed something. If you see anything, let me know. Also, let me know what you think of the story. I appreciate good, honest advice.