Notes and Disclaimer in Part 1
He didn't plan very far into the future. Got to the part where he let Kurama fix up Itachi's crumbling mind, and he got up to the part where he took Itachi back to Konoha and they live together in the house that was under his father's name, which was located far away from the main populace enough to offer them all the privacy they would need. That was where things began to get blurry. Vaguely he knew he was going to be Hokage, but things were just too unpredictable to be sure. After all, Sasuke was still out there, planning to set fire to the whole of Konoha. Naruto was betting heavily on Itachi for that part. Just him being alive and happy should convince stubborn little brother to come home. And if not, Naruto was just going to have to break his arms and legs and drag him home like he promised he would do.
His point was that the last two key factors of his life were not yet in his hand. Sasuke and Hokage. He didn't know which would come first. If he became Hokage first, that would make leaving to go and retrieve Sasuke that much harder. Hokages were like prisoners to their own tower. He'd be lucky if he could find his way out of the gigantic maze of paperwork there. But if he got Sasuke back before he became Hokage, well then all would be well. Except Sasuke was a piece of shit and he would never do things according to Naruto's plan.
So, for now, he was going to nicely talk to the NABU outside his hut and then bring Itachi home and make him happy. If things finally went his way, maybe he'd even be able to carry Itachi into their new home. Maybe…
First one he saw was Pakkun the ninja dog. Then he saw Kakashi and kind of went 'Oh shit.'
The elders or Tsunade could have sent Kakashi and his tracking canines anytime, but they hadn't ever really been that desperate. They didn't like that Naruto was doing things in the dark, but they always trusted him that little bit, and so didn't send his former sensei after him.
But there he was. He was standing up straight, in front of the four other ANBU and his book was nowhere in sight. He was leading them.
And he knew who was inside the hut.
"Hi," Naruto said with a small wave. "Am I in trouble?"
"The original answer to that would have been no, but things have obviously changed in the last few minutes. Nevertheless, that's not why we came here." Kakashi dismissed Pakkun and the old dog disappeared with a small puff. "Sasuke's appeared. It's time you come home, Naruto."
Sasuke has appeared, said with a very dispassionate tone. From Kakashi, from anyone in team seven, it meant bad news. For years now they'd all held only two reactions for Sasuke's return. Jump and cry for joy or be really, really formal because Sasuke had done something too horrible for informal words.
Naruto breathed in deeply and held the breath for several long moments.
"When?" He asked his former sensei. "When did he appear?"
Naruto felt his temple twitch. "Why am I only finding this out now, Kakashi?"
One of the ANBU behind Kakashi stepped forward and sneered. "Didn't look like you'd welcome interruption." His voice was high and full of arrogance. He was new to ANBU. He didn't fully understand who Naruto was and what role he played in the grand scheme of things. Even worse, he didn't quite realise who it was that was standing behind Naruto.
"Watch your tongue," Kakashi spoke levelly. Then he turned back to Naruto. "You'll be fully briefed once we're back in Konoha. You need to come home Naruto. Sasuke isn't going to wait."
For a long moment Naruto didn't respond. He stood there, knees locked, fury building up within him for no apparent reason. Maybe he was angry that he was only finding out that Sasuke had appeared then, near midnight… or maybe he was angry that his time with Itachi might be in jeopardy. He couldn't figure it out. He was too caught up in the fact that he only had perfect peace for but a few minutes, and now it was once again at risk.
He felt Itachi move behind him, and tensed up when the ANBU in front of them crouched forward in response.
"We have to go," Itachi spoke softly. His light fingers quickly touched Naruto's hand, before moving back. "Naruto, we have to go."
"Yeah," he agreed softly. "I guess we do. Kakashi-sensei, give us a few minutes and we'll pack."
"Sure, and I'm not your sensei anymore, Naruto."
Naruto didn't reply. He just bit his bottom lip and took Itachi's wrist and pulled him back inside. Then he silently moved to pack what little belonging they had into sealing scrolls. Itachi stood a little away, watching him. They were silent. Naruto knew they weren't really, truly in trouble, but he also felt that any word spoken from this point onwards could be held against them. Kakashi wouldn't use anything to get them in trouble, but the ANBU weren't like him. They were bound by the utmost of rules and obligations. As soon as they were in Konoha, the Hokage and the elders would surely know of Itachi's presence, and maybe even their relationship. And Sasuke has made himself known once more. Kakashi didn't give off any hint that this was good news, so that meant that the first move had been made. Sasuke had done something against Konoha.
The thought of the Uchiha had him quickly sealing away their belongings, and turning around to pull Itachi into the circle of his arms. Immediately Itachi wrapped his arms around Naruto's back, offering silent comfort and faith. He buried his face into Itachi's hair; momentarily thinking he could be safe from the world. He tightened is hold and breathed in the scent of Itachi. Naruto didn't understand why he was so anxious. Before, he wanted to hurry up and heal Itachi so they could go to Konoha together, but now he didn't want to leave their half crumbled house. Maybe it was the circumstances of their leaving that irked him. He wanted to leave for Konoha on his own terms, with only Itachi for a travelling companion. And they would spend hours travelling alone, heading for their new home. But that wasn't possible any longer. Not with Sasuke having done whatever it was that he's done.
He felt Itachi's hand on the base of his neck, cool and gentle and comforting. The effect was immediate. All worrying thoughts were dispelled from his mind until he was sure that Itachi was the only one he needed to think about. Itachi and his hand. A smile broke free on Naruto's whiskered face, and he brushed Itachi's hair back to reveal his pale, creamy neck. The heavy anxiety slowly lifted from his chest and Naruto took a plunge… placed his lips upon the smooth skin exposed to him.
Lightly he sucked on the area. It was a kiss so light that Itachi might not even feel it, though that was doubtful. Itachi's breath hitched and Naruto delighted in that he felt the older man's whole body shiver. Who knew this Uchiha was so responsive?
Itachi moved back from him with a small sigh.
"Yeah, I know. We gotta go." Naruto tried to ignore the disappointment that flowed into him.
Itachi nodded, then he placed a hand over Naruto's wildly beating heart. "Any other time and I wouldn't have stopped you."
And then he was out the front door, his strides long and elegant as if he wasn't about to walk into a group of ANBU; leaving Naruto to carry the scrolls that contained their belongings like a pack mule. Typical that was…
The travel back took a lot longer than Naruto liked. Two days. Two days because the ANBU couldn't keep up. Frustration grated on Naruto's every nerve, which made him a very unpleasant travelling companion. He growled under his breath, snapped at the slowest moving ANBU and unconsciously gave off chakra flares. Four hours into their travel and everyone was on their toes, wary of this blond man who was becoming less man and more animal.
Kakashi understood Naruto's feelings, but he also wanted his young companion to stop and think. He desperately wanted to say to Naruto 'Forget about Sasuke for a minute and think about your situation! You have the Uchiha Itachi with you, alive, and you're not yet Hokage. You're as close to being a criminal as you're ever going to be. Think!' But of course he couldn't say any of that. He was the leader of this ANBU team, sure, but they also knew to be aware of him. He was a double edged sword; friend of Naruto but a loyal, strong team leader.
They left Naruto and Itachi's cabin in the middle of the night, travelled until the sun came up and took a break at noon. At that point Naruto was past the point of eating. While everyone sat and ate and drank, he was standing up, facing in the direction that he knew Konoha to be. He never took his eyes off of the direction, as if staring could get him that much closer to the village and let him see what damage Sasuke had done.
That left Kakashi to silently watch Itachi.
And watch he did.
He sat between the ex-criminal and his ANBU and Naruto, just in case Itachi decided to re-enact the massacre in which he was so famous for. He didn't know what to think. Clearly he remembered Naruto telling him about what Madara had told him, all those years ago just before the war. But that was different than hearing it from Itachi himself. On one hand he could be guilty for the massacre all on his own, or he could be guilty because Konoha had had a moment of cowardice. He just didn't know what to make of this situation, not yet. For now, he'd just follow orders and bring Naruto back home.
If Itachi was aware of Kakashi's lengthy observation, he didn't show it. His dark eyes were trained straight forward, but occasionally Kakashi caught him looking at Naruto with a tiny furrow between his brows. It looked like he was worried, but the thought of that made him shudder in all the wrong ways, remembering the things he heard when they were outside Itachi and Naruto's little hut and the state that Itachi had been in when he appeared; flushed, confused, heated. The things that made his skin crawl and made him think 'Naruto, what have you gotten yourself in to? This is over the line.'
Silently, the silver-haired man watched. Naruto glanced back at Itachi, his eyes pained. Then he abandoned his post and silently sat down next to the Uchiha. It was easy to see what their relationship was, just one glance. They sat huddled close and Naruto leaned into Itachi's space, a move not unlike a dog leaning in to sniff your hand. And Itachi didn't even notice.
A big part of Kakashi cringed away from that reality. Itachi was dead. Even if he somehow came back healthy and radiant and alive, he had once been dead, and this new relationship shouldn't exist. It was wrong and disgusting and bordering lines that it shouldn't be bordering. But… Naruto was happy. Naruto was so happy he was glowing like the damn sun and wearing a look more goofy than usual on his face. Even at a time like this, when he was worried about the youngest Uchiha, he still radiated happiness.
An even bigger part of Kakashi sagged in relief. His Naruto had finally found someone. If the way Itachi looked at Naruto from under his lashes was any indication… yeah, Naruto has found someone.
And, what did death really matter in the ninja world anyway? You die once and that's really only the beginning. He himself had been there.
Kakashi released a quiet sigh through his mask and packed up his belongings. It was time to be on the move again.
The entire farming area, located on the outermost ring of Konoha, was in flames. Two and a half days since Sasuke had launched the attack, and the flames were still going. Some flames were red, some orange, others black. The smoke cloud that covered the area was even bigger than the fire, forcing citizens to evacuate inwards, towards the centre of the village. There was no panic among them just yet. Naruto suspected that this was because they hadn't realised yet who it was that attacked them.
When they arrived at the massive gates of Konoha, the ANBU and Kakashi arranged themselves around Naruto and Itachi. It wasn't aggressive, but it was clear that the two sort-of-captives weren't allowed to move any further into the village. Itachi didn't look surprise. It made sense that he was expecting this sort of turn of event. He was, officially, still a criminal. Naruto's heart turned heavy and he quietly moved so that Itachi was behind him. He stood between his ex-sensei and his love, because of the four people that came for the, Kakashi was without a doubt the biggest threat.
"What happened to Sasuke?" He asked Kakashi.
"We couldn't catch him."
Itachi's lips quivered, the only reaction to the mentioning of his brother.
Naruto grunted, not surprised at all.
"He's thought things through," Kakashi continued. "Limiting our food supply like that. We'll be depending heavily on trades from outside the village, and it's most likely that he'll try to put a wedge between that."
The ANBU, the one who had sneered at Naruto back at the hut, spoke. "What can he do? He's just one man."
Naruto almost felt insulted on Sasuke's behalf. Instead, he silently twined his fingers around Itachi's; a movement that went unnoticed because their linked hands were between Naruto's back and Itachi's front.
Itachi's hood was up, easily covering his beautiful face. At this point Naruto couldn't predict what was going to happen, but it was better if people didn't see Itachi just yet.
"Kakashi, tell me, please. Should I be getting ready to fight, to run? I'm not… Nothing is going to happen to him."
"Relax, Naruto. You're in trouble alright, about him, but there's no need to fight or run."
The four ANBU around them stood up, backs straight, before falling down to one knee with one arm crossed over their chests.
Unconsciously Naruto's hand tightened around Itachi's.
Tsunade appeared from the haze caused by the heat of Sasuke's flames. Her face was drawn and her skin unusually pale. In her arms she carried the white robe of the Hokage. The hat sat on top of the robe. The two elders trailed behind her, their eyes squinting so hard they almost looked asleep. They were both carrying a scroll. Behind the three were all the clan heads. Kiba's mum, the original Ino-Shika-Chou trio, Hinata's dad, Shino's dad. Naruto half-heartedly thought that he should be up there, representing his family, and Itachi should also be up there.
And, way behind all the most powerful people, a short, stubby man hurried to keep up with their pace. In his arms he carried the long tri-stand that held an ancient looking camera on it.
Naruto didn't have a very good feeling about that. That camera didn't always make him look good.
Homura, the elder, was the first one to approach him. His usually neat appearance was haggard looking, and Naruto sensed that his chakra reserve was far too low for him to be standing. But nevertheless he stood, and he said to Naruto, holding up a waiting hand, "Your hand, please."
For a second he couldn't move. Was Homura going to cut off his hand for being involved with an Uchiha? But… Itachi's face was still under his hood, not really visible…. But, oh crap. These people were strong enough to recognise the Uchiha Itachi's chakra signature!
Silently, with a hand that was far steadier that what he felt inside, he reached forward.
"Not this one. The other."
No one was saying anything.
Everyone's face, every single one of them, was blank. Every. Single. Person.
He felt Itachi's skinny hand slip from his and his heart broke a little. Still, he reached forward.
Quick as lightning, Homura pricked all five of the fingers of his right hand and slammed them onto the scroll that he had been holding. Then he retreated back to stand beside Koharu. Naruto was so dazed and confused he didn't even notice the pain.
The old lady Koharu came next, opening up the scroll a tiny bit and telling him, "Sign this in blood."
".. No?" Naruto tried weakly.
Koharu stared at him through her squinting eyes and Naruto immediately regretted ever opening his mouth.
"Sign it, Naruto," Itachi spoke. He's been so quiet that Naruto jumped when he heard him speak. Koharu's sharp eyes locked on Itachi's cloaked form and Naruto almost jumped out of skin with how much he wanted to wrap Itachi in his arms. That old lady was scary.
"I'll sign, I'll sign!" He quipped. Biting on his thumb, which had already healed up, he signed on the scroll.
Then she moved back and all the clan heads move to stand in an arc circle around him and Itachi. This was it, he thought. He was going to prison and they wouldn't even get to hear his explanation.
The old lady Tsunade moved forward. Her long hair swayed and Naruto thought he saw some of the tips singed.
Naruto looked into her amber eyes, begging her. Begging her for an answer because he didn't know what was going on. He couldn't protect Itachi if he didn't know what was going on.
Tsunade threw her arms out and wrapped the clean, white robe around his broad shoulders. The hat landed on his head. A big flash went off, and the short man with the camera clapped. He was the only one.
Tsunade's hand landed softly on his cheek and she whispered to him, "Welcome back, Hokage-sama."
Naruto was not ashamed to say that he blacked out for a few seconds.
"Oh come on now, you've fought long and hard for this. Don't act surprise now!" He was still gaping, the weight of the magnificent robe making his knees buckle. "Listen Naruto," Tsunade said sternly. "I didn't make this decision alone. We all did. There wasn't even another candidate mentioned. And this is your fight."
One thing was clear, when they stopped Sasuke; it would be up to Naruto what Sasuke's fate was.
Naruto studied Tsunade's tired face. She was keeping her eyes strictly on Naruto and not on the figure behind him.
There was a storm raging in Naruto, but beneath that storm of overwhelming confusion, he was surprisingly calm.
The robe on his shoulders felt right, like it belonged, and the hat was a stable weight on his head. He was Hokage. He was the Seventh Hokage, just like his father had been the Fourth. And, if he could get Sasuke to stay still, he could stop his friend from being executed. And he could live in his father and mother's house where there was plenty of privacy. And he could protect Itachi.
Unsteadily he reached back for Itachi's hand, which found his halfway.
"There won't be a formal ceremony for you until all threat to the village is secured," Hyuuga Hiashi said to Naruto, his eyes quickly glancing down onto their linked hands. Of everybody there, he was definitely someone who knew that he was holding Uchiha Itachi's hand. "Your last mission as a jounin is this. Bring Uchiha Sasuke to us, and the Hokage shall decide his fate."
Well, wasn't this a lucky day for Sasuke. He got to attack Konoha, and now, with his best friend being the new Hokage, he might even get away with it!
But in all seriousness, he won't go unpunished. He would need to serve time, and his mental state would need to be evaluated. His chakra reserve sealed off so he was back to gennin level, that was, if Naruto could get to him.
"As for your companion," Shikamaru's dad said lazily. "We'll deal with that issue after this one. Is this alright?"
Nodding, Naruto tightened his hand around Itachi. Goodness, but he could not wait to get home. He thought this moment when his dream came through would be more epic, but he's been doing a lot of Tsunade's duties for years now. Now, more than anything, Naruto wanted Itachi faraway from people who still thought he was guilty for murdering the Uchihas. He wanted Itachi within the safe walls of his house.
There were seven ANBU in total around his house. They were giving them privacy by not actually looking in, but they were out there, keeping total and utter tabs on Itachi's chakra signature, moving to be around whatever part of the house Itachi moved to. Naruto could easily order them away, but he knew that he had to let the Konoha Council do this. They had to see how much he loved Itachi, had to see that he wasn't a threat… much.
And so he let the ANBU be. He thought everything would be okay. The problem was that Sasuke launched another attack that very same night, Itachi's first night back, and everything was chaotic. Sasuke wasn't working alone like that new ANBU had said. In fact, in two years, he'd gathered a large force and they were attacking Konoha from the sky, using machines that he'd never seen before. In two years, his state had worsened, weighed down by the death of his beloved brother. Quick evacuations were occurring and Naruto had been summoned.
"Come with me," Naruto said to Itachi. "We'll get Sasuke back together."
But Itachi had only stared at him, a little lost and a little unhinged.
"You've brought me back to life, fixing my head. I don't know if there is anything you can't do. You can do this, can't you Naruto? You can bring Sasuke back."
"Hell yeah!" He moved in close to his best friend's brother and placed a kiss on his perfect cheek. "Actually, there are a lot of things that I wanna do, that I haven't ever done before. But to do those things I need you and a village that isn't under attack." He moved in so that Itachi could feel the line of his body at his side. "Come with me."
Itachi saw no point in denying him that.
It was a bit rushed towards the end, but nevertheless I hope you've enjoyed reading it!
Again, this was written for Anubis' Daughter in ItaNaru Swap 2012, which will happen again next year.
Leave me a review guys!