Title: Sunshine Sidestories

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto in any way shape or form.

Summary: Snippets from the D.O.S. story line.

AN: If you haven't read Dreaming of Sunshine, then these will make no sense at all to you. This is a side story for Chapter 41, Itachi's POV.



The Jinchuriki is there. Itachi doesn't want to catch it, not yet, not ever, but they had gone to Konoha for information on it and not acting will cast suspicion on that.

Itachi is trapped by his own actions.

It isn't an unfamiliar situation.

One day it might even be funny.

They scout out the hotel and might have even fallen for the Shadow Clone if Uzumaki had any knowledge of how to hide his chakra. The evasion trail is good - for a Genin - but Itachi has been better than that since he was eight years old. It's the work of an instant to track him.

Track them, it turns out, which is slightly unexpected. Uzumaki can't hide his chakra, but the girl can. Interesting, but not threatening.

Given that he knows how Konoha structures it's teams, with Uzumaki and Sasuke on the same team it's easy enough to place the female as their third. With dark hair and dark eyes, slim and compact, she could be a member of any of a dozen clans or none at all. She could have even been an Uchiha before the whole clan was dead at his hands. In the grand scheme of things, she is unimportant.

She's clever, though. He'll give her that. She never takes her eyes off him, has him pegged as the greater threat without even looking at Kisame. Her fear is obvious, as obvious as that of the Jinchuriki who stands frozen, but she talks. Cajoles him into conversation. Stalls for backup that may or may not come.

He gives the information over easily even though there really is no need. It suits his purposes well enough. She makes leaps of logic that he doesn't expect and he is glad. Sasuke is in good hands here.

And then Sasuke comes.

The flare of desperate panic in her eyes would have given him away even if Itachi had not heard every step his brother made for the last three blocks. Hadn't been able to count his breathing for the last two.

He wants to turn and look so very badly. He doesn't dare. Doesn't quite trust himself to hold the façade just yet. "Sasuke. It's been a long time."

And Kisame just has to poke. Has to stir the bubbling rage that is his baby brother until he overflows. Itachi can't think whether to be angry or grateful. Sasuke is supposed to try and kill him.

And he does. It's a spectacular failure, of course, but he tries. Chidori is a good jutsu, but it is only a jutsu and a technique is only as good as the one who wields it. In Kakashi's hands it would worry him. In Sasuke's it is laughable.

Kisame deals to the Jinchuriki and Itachi evades the shadows that try and snare him. Nara? He approves of their timing. The three of them obviously work well as a unit. However, it isn't good enough.

But what Sasuke has done is cause a scene. The clock is ticking now. Time is running out.

"Foolish little brother," he says, the only endearment he will allow himself, simply because he knows how much it will irritate Sasuke. How much it will enrage him. "You're still too weak. You don't have enough hate. And you know something? You never will."

Sasuke is on him like a berserker, all fury and no thought. That will not do at all. That will only get him killed and Itachi has worked too hard for his brother to die from foolishness.

He slams Sasuke into the wall, sets the technique, and opens his eyes.

He has the brief chance to glimpse eyes that. Are. Not. His. Brothers.

Genjutsu? Against me? Is his first - ludicrous - thought. The body he is holding is no longer Sasuke.

But genjutsu doesn't work against the Sharingan. Certainly not against the Mangekyo.

He tries to pull back, but it is too late, the Technique is already cast.

And then she starts to scream.

It isn't the short scream of fear or brief gasp of pain. It is a scream he has heard before, when he was young and on the fields of war. It is the slow dying scream that echoes forever in your head. The long drawn out wail of endless pain.

Once, when he was a Genin, Itachi killed an enemy with a Fire Jutsu. It seemed logical at the time, in the rushnow of combat, but the man took so long to die, and he screamed the whole time as the flames licked his body.

Since then, he had killed fast, brutally yes, but never slow. If asked, he will say it is efficient, that he does not give them time to react or retaliate.

In reality, he does not wish to give them time to scream.

He drops her as though he is the one burning and turns. There is Sasuke, crouched on the ground, torn from his grasp. And Sasuke is furious, broken arm or no. But the berserker rage has faded to some anguished uncomprehending guilt. Sasuke looks eight, once more.

Foolish little brother. You aren't ready yet, he thinks fondly. Impossibly fondly. He must love Sasuke, or everything has been for naught.

And if there is a coil of resentment, of pure black hatred, well, it's for the act.

But if Sasuke has caused a scene then this is worse. Screams attract attention. Particularly screams of young girls. Jiraiya is suddenly there is a whirl of Body Flicker speed - the woman they'd sent to distract him draped across his shoulders.

Itachi does not, particularly, wish to tangle with one of the Sannin. This one, least of all.

Jiraiya looks furious, in the way only a battle ready shinobi can. His face is set, chakra honed and ready and he makes no declarations. It has been many years since Itachi has even registered Killing Intent yet he feels it now.

It makes him… mildly uneasy.

"Kisame," he says. "Let's go."

The girl is still screaming.



"You might be wrong about your brother, you know," Kisame says later with a sly glance. "If he's willing to sacrifice a comrade like that. You sometimes saw things like that in Mist, but I didn't think a Leaf nin would have the guts."

Itachi stares at his hands. It has been a long time since he has made a mistake like that, since he has hit the wrong target. Sasuke had been helpless under his grip, chakra disrupted by pain. He had not cast the jutsu; had not been able to. "You have it the wrong way around," he says distantly. "The girl was the one who used the replacement jutsu."