AN: yay! CHAPTER ONE is completed! chapter two will be up within the next couple of days (if things continue the way things are going)
This is part of a fairytale challenge hosted by Edelin, thank you for inviting me to join! I'm having so much fun.
Thanks to my beta Ben. Couldn't have gotten this out without you!
disclaimer: not mine
A porcelain raven glittered under the fragments of sunlight that broke through the foliage. The crimson muzzle of the mask jut out, in imitation of the magnificent bird's beak, onyx framed intelligent dark eyes; dark eyes that watched patiently for any flicker of movement or life. The chirpings of the cicadas were absent, the songs of the birds halted. The forest was too quiet, a sure sign that nature was intruded upon.
He crouched and patiently waited.
He didn't have to wait long.
He tilted his head to the side and heard the tell tale whistle of a kunai as it whipped passed his ear and into the trunk of the tree he was taking refuge in. He leapt off the branch a split second before it burst into splinters and projectile fragments of stone.
Their positions now compromised, he heard rustling from two directions as his enemies moved.
He whipped out a kunai of his own and quickly deflected the shuriken tossed his way, sharp eyes taking note of the direction the weapons came from before making his next move. His long dark hair waved in the air as he free-fell to the ground below. He turned half way down, kunai in hand. The clacks of metal on metal resounded through the disturbed forest as a few well-aimed shuriken were parried and embedded into the trees around him with a solid thunk. He somersaulted to the nearest tree and ran up its trunk, deftly avoiding the thick needles tossed his way.
His skilled fingers nimbly flung three shuriken into a sudden rustling of leaves. His targets were moving. He heard the light thunks as chakra enhanced limbs launched off tree branches and wondered when they would realize he was herding them. He sensed two others a distance behind him, but the two he was pursuing would be directly under him within the next three seconds.
He whipped out a kunai and attached an end to some sharpened ninja wire. He silently dropped onto the same branch as his first target. He quickly jabbed the man in his jugular a kunai in hand; the arterial spray hit nothing but air. It was like a choreographed dance with multiple partners and he didn't miss a beat, he moved right on. He used the falling body of his dead enemy as leverage to flip himself over his next opponent, he pulled the razor sharp wire taut as he flew over the man's head. The wire cut through the man's neck as though it were a hot knife through butter, slicing the head clear off the body. The raven vanished in a puff of smoke, just in time to avoid a giant spike of stone thrusting through the falling body, halting it in its fall.
More giant spikes ripped through the ground, they thrust towards the sky at an alarming speed, no patch of ground was spared its brutality.
The raven stood on one of the smaller spikes, a thin layer of chakra allowed him to stick to the rough surface. Cool, calm eyes assessed the damaged.
That was a powerful technique
"Come out come out wherever you are!" A slim brunette called out from atop of one of the spikes. "I've been wanting to fight you, Uchiha Itachi-kun!" The woman's dark skin turned a gritty grey, her skin was now harder than stone.
Weapons would not be able to hurt her now.
She scowled indignantly as a food ration bounced forcefully off her head. "Uchiha-san, take me seriously!"
No sooner had those words left her lips than Itachi came at her from behind with a kick aimed at her kidney. Years of training had numbed him to the pain of striking solid stone. His opponent moved into a defensive stance, leaving her head open to attack. He took advantage of the opportunity and the woman stopped his high kick with one of her own. The Uchiha then used the woman's torso as a launch pad with his free foot and flipped himself loose over onto the top of another spike.
That's when he felt his ANBU tattoo burn.
The Hokage was sending him a message and it burned his skin as it was etched into his skin along his inner arm. But the message could wait.
He flickered out of existence and reappeared behind the woman, kunai in hand. He made quick work of stabbing the unaware woman at the base of her skull where her one weak spot was and she crumpled like a bag of wet cement. He then reappeared beside his fourth and last opponent. He grabbed a hold of the enemy shinobi's armed hand, and in one clean movement slit the man's throat.
Uchiha Itachi shunshin-ed onto one of the trees and waited.
The stone spikes dissolved, and the terrain returned to normal.
The four cadavers popped out of existence as four people, emerged from the last remaining spike.
"I know that this was a timed, one-shot-kill training course and all, but does anyone else feel ridiculously glad that he's on our side?" Takahashi Shotaro said as sagged against the tree.
His teammates shushed him and elbowed him into a proper stance. He let out a sigh and stood straight, shoulders back and feet apart.
"You fought well," Itachi said to the members of his ANBU training session once they were settled.
Shotaro and his teammates, Satou Akira, Satou Akio, Ishi Aiko stood before him sheepishly. That was an exaggeration of their abilities that day and they knew it.
"But you could have done better." He looked to the first two. "Satou Akio-san, this was a one shot kill training course, that first kunai should have killed me. If you weren't certain of your success then you shouldn't have thrown it, always account for the targets natural instinct to move. Please work on that."
Akio nodded, he would have felt better if Itachi hadn't been so nice about it. He didn't think it was possible to kindly point out a person's short comings until he met his ANBU trainer.
Itachi nodded to both the siblings, Akira and Akio, to indicate that he was speaking to them both now. He wasn't quite done with the first one yet. "You should've been aware of your surroundings. I was herding you to a place where I would have the advantage. You should never have let me get that far. There were two of you, at your current level you should have known that one on one combat with me would end unfavorably for you. Instead you should have attacked me simultaneously or regrouped with your other trainees. You need to work on your individual skills."
"Ishi-san, you-" The Uchiha paused when the message on his arm burned yet again, it must have been urgent, there was only one thing he could think of that would require his immediate attention. "Excuse me."
He pulled the armor down on his arm and read the message. He didn't bother to hide it from the others, as it was written in code.
Death in family, return home ASAP
The short impersonal message was more than enough. Itachi already knew what tragedy had struck his family.
His father, Uchiha Fugaku, Uchiha clan head, had been diagnosed with an incurable disease. It started off with a tingling in his feet and then progressed to lack of any feeling. One could have taken a hacksaw to the man's foot and he wouldn't have felt it. His nerves had died and before anyone knew it, it spread. It seemed that one morning it was in his toes and the next he couldn't feel anything below his knee. It traveled fast, he was wheelchair bound within the third week. The illness had eaten away what was once a proud capable shinobi. Fugaku, once a deadly ninja was reduced to a clumsy feeble man. His muscles had atrophied and where there was once strong muscle, was loose skin. The gods were cruel. They had taken away his ability to act as an independent person but left his mind fully intact. A little part of him died every time his wife changed him. He wore a diaper because he could no longer control his bladder or bowel movements. He had to be carted around in his wheelchair like an old man when he had yet to reach his fortieth birthday.
It was better this way, Itachi thought.
Better because they would not have to see him waste away, no more than they already had and he would not have to suffer any longer.
He schooled his features into one of apathy and turned to his third trainee. The cockiest of them all, that confidence was what got better ninjas killed and she would be no different if she persisted on the road she was on.
"You threw a food ration at me." Aiko said indignantly.
"I did. You are lucky I was feeling particularly kind today, an enemy would have thrown something far more harmful." Itachi replied.
"You were aware that I knew your weak spot, yet you did nothing to guard it. I may be more skilled than you but I am not unbeatable. If you had been more careful perhaps you would have lasted longer." The ANBU trainer paused. "You are to never refer to your teammates as their given name. While I have this mask on, I am not Uchiha Itachi, I am Raven. It will do you well to remember that. Out of my four trainees, you lack the most discipline. You are very confident in, what I see is, your remarkably average ability. You will get your teammates killed and that will be on your conscience. I have seen better shinobi fall under the weight of that guilt, I do not want to see yours join that list of names."
Itachi felt another burn on his arm, another message.
He nodded to the next person, "Excuse me, Takahashi-san."
Honorably discharged, effective immediately
He adjusted the arm guard until it fit snug and turned back to his last remaining pupil.
"You should never let your weapon be used against you. If that is going to happen please refrain from wielding one until you have had further training. You are now dismissed."
With a flick of his fingers, he disappeared.
Shotaro said as he sagged against a tree. "Does anyone else feel worse about it because he was so damn polite about it?"
Aiko grumbled. "No I feel worse because he didn't even have to activate his damn sharingan to wipe the floor with us."
The Uchiha compound, usually bustling with activity and life was eerily silent. It seemed wherever Itachi went, a hushed silence followed. He was aware of the pitying looks passed his way as the women gossiped once they thought he was too far away to hear.
"That's the son you know, poor thing. I heard that he used his weapons to do it."
"I know its supposed to be honorable and all but I don't understand how he could just take his own life and leave his family behind. What a horrible father."
There was some truth to what they were saying; Uchiha Fugaku, had not been the world's greatest father but he had not been the worst. He was a stern man who expected to have his way. He had trouble balancing the duties of a clan head and a father and more often than not, Uchiha Fugaku the clan head was the one doing the child rearing, he expected nothing short of excellence and found no use for anything less than perfect. Nothing was too high a price for the clan, not even his own son's childhood.
Itachi was raised during the second shinobi war, there was no romance or idealism when it came to the life of a shinobi. A ninja was merely a tool that did the dirty work for those who were fortunate enough to not have to. He was going to school to learn how to be an efficient killer and he excelled at it. He was eight when he activated his family's blood line limit, the sharingan. His father, like any half decent politician pounced at the opportunity and capitalized on his son's natural gifts.
"You're going to show them just how powerful we are! No one will ever look their nose down on an Uchiha again," His father would say to him with a gleam of pride in his dark eyes."
"I heard that he did it in the clan meeting room on purpose so that everyone would see."
Unless it was one of their own
The Uchiha heir found the gossiping exhausting sometimes, especially in times like these. His father had just taken his life and he wished that no one had heard of it just yet. The man was still his father and the loss hurt him.
If being a child prodigy had taught him anything, it was to take what the public threw at him with a polite smile and a kind word. There were always going to be gossiping women. That was a simple fact of life.
He let the words roll off his shoulders and continued on like nothing happened.
He was just glad that it wasn't his mother walking through the streets with him.
Here he was taking his time getting home to gather his thoughts, when his mother. His poor mother had just lost her husband.
She would be devastated.
He vanished from sight and reappeared on a rooftop half a mile away, he did this again and again until he reached the familiar rooftop of his family home. He saw two men leaving his home, no doubt members of the Konoha police force that was run by the Uchiha. They walked slowly as they spoke to each other in low voices but he was able to catch bits and pieces of their conversation.
"Wife discovered the body…found in the clan meeting room…was found eviscerated."
"We'll come back later to question Itachi-san."
He waited until they were going before jumping down to the ground.
He quietly took off his shoes and set them neatly on the mat by the front door.
He padded softly down the hall to the master bedroom. The hall lights were off and there was no movement in the room.
"Oka-sama?" There was no reply.
He silently slid open the door to the master bedroom and found the prone form of Uchiha Mikoto, kneeling in the middle of the room. Blood was all over her, the cheery yellow apron that she always wore was now a morbid orange, splotches of coagulated brown stained the hem.
"Oka-sama," he called out softly, afraid that if he spoke too loud that he would shatter her. He swallowed a curse when his mother's pale face looked up at him, seeing him but not really there. The red of her sharingan eyes bled through the darkening room, the black commas circling the pupil was an abysmal wheel much like the wheels of an old motion picture. It would play over and over again, only it would never fade and it would never end.
That was the gift, the curse of their family's eyes.
The nineteen year old boy suddenly felt much older and felt the years he spent outside the walls of Konoha. Fighting to protect things like this from happening within its walls. But here it was the very thing he fought to keep out of his home. The violence and death, no matter what the circumstance, had made it into his haven and now he had to contain it.
Itachi grabbed a towel from the linen closet and ran it under warm water in the bathroom sink.
His father really could have chosen a better place to off himself. He thought getting angry for the first time, it was Wednesday and he knew. His father knew that his mother cleaned the meeting room on Wednesdays.
It was like clockwork.
Prepare Sasuke's lunch, clean the meeting room
He silently made his way back to his mother and the first thing he did was get her out of the bloody apron. He untied it from behind her and quickly put it behind him out of her line of sight. Gentle hands then began to wipe off the dried blood from his mothers face.
"Itachi," She said softly, crimson eyes staring into nothing. "He was in so much pain."
"It's going to be alright," he said softly and continued to remove the traces of his father's blood from his mother's face.
"When I gave up being a shinobi, I didn't mean to-." His mother rambled, thoughts in disarray. "But I was too slow. I couldn't stop him."
Then, Uchiha Mikoto broke.
With a swirl of black commas, Itachi put his mother into a deep dreamless sleep.
It was better that way.
Sleep was a blissful escape from the real world.
The teenager carried his mother to her bed and tucked her in, just like she used to do. Until he learned how to kill and he wasn't the child he used to be.
He slid the door closed behind him, just as silently as he opened it not that it would have mattered. His genjutsus were powerful, his mother would remain asleep.
Itachi closed his eyes for a moment and leaned his head against the cool wall behind him.
It had been such a long day and it still wasn't over. He eyed at the bloody apron in his hands and let out a long breath.
It wasn't going to be over for a while.
He found his brother covered in a myriad of things. The small boy was standing on a stool in the kitchen mixing what looked like eggs and tomatoes. Uchiha Sasuke was four years old, an unplanned addition to the family.
"What are you making?" He called out softly, the scene melting his heart.
"Ni-tama!" The little boy called out, his big dark eyes sparkled as he caught sight of his beloved big brother and the unmistakable joy in his voice took the edge off the horrible day he was having. Sasuke haphazardly placed the basin back onto the kitchen counter and ran to greet his hero. "Ni-tama! I didn't even hear you come home."
Itachi nodded and gestured towards the kitchen counter. "I noticed."
"I'm making dinner. Ka-san wasn't feeling well so I wanted to cook dinner for her!"
The older Uchiha smiled, the smile he always reserved for his brother. "Why don't we make it together?"
His brother nodded excitedly and Itachi went to join him.