PART # 1
"Why did you rescue this girl?" he asked, after a few moments of silence.
Perhaps Kisame had been out of his mind, but in his arms, Itachi could clearly make out the form of a young girl. Not too young—a mere three or four years apart from him, putting her at an age when she would be adolescent. After enough consideration, Kisame seemed to shrug his shoulders. The way he was carrying the girl seemed like he was carrying a toy. It was obvious she was just in the way when he had found her. Between him and his goal. Whatever that might have been.
As perceptive as he was, Itachi didn't have as much care for others as well. He knew it was wrong to ignore someone, but he had much to fulfill before arriving to Konoha. And yet Kisame had brought some sort of problem into their journeys. When it seemed his oafish companion had no idea what to do with the girl he had found, Itachi didn't make much indication beyond pointing to the flames that lit their campfire. There was nothing soft for the girl to be kept on, but he didn't mind. All he truly knew was that if this girl didn't wake soon, she would be left behind by morning.
When Kisame lowered her to the ground near the fire and eventually stood himelf straight, he gave Itachi a lopsided grin and turned to look out towards the woods. No doubt, he had nourishment on mind. Itachi did not have the same notion, due to his preplanned packaging. "I'm going to go hunt," Kisame predictably responded, and eventually turned to walk towards the inner workings of the forest. Once he was out of sight, did Itachi dare glance over at the unexpected inhabitant of their hideaway. He didn't quite know what to expect. She had to originate from some village, but there was no identification on her. If she were meant to be killed, it was likely she kept no identification. It indicated that she was only a missing nin. But at such a young age..
He walked closer, each footstep bringing him near her until he could make out her visage. Her facial structures were damaged. Her thin appendages were strengthened, it looked, by some strange sort of, chakra. She was evidently a ninja. Perhaps a chunin. But what was most odd was the flute clutched in one appendage. It was a lightweight one, and he recalled that it was a musical instrument that relied on winds. She had to be from Orochimaru's Sound Village. He had heard much of it, and if this girl utilized sound for a weapon—she was likely one of his. But, why was she abandoned? Did no one check to see if she had lived?
"Pitiful," he mumbled, even as he knelt down near her body. His hand first reached for her throat, where two fingers covered the pulse on her neck. Long red hairstrands were in the way, and his hand brushed it away. She was pretty. He had noticed it only because of the way her unblemished features stood out. No makeup, but the simple touches of natural skin and even more natural, hard work, showed. She was one of those people who developed their abilities. Natural talent played little part I her life. Much unlike traditional kunoichi. He could see this only too easily from the way she was dressed. No cleavage shown, no assets. It was an outfit meant for a shinobi with little purpose besides battle. She was a rare person among the several thousand Kunoichi in the world.
Her pulse was strong. He could feel the faint little beat under his fingers, and his soft touch seemed to awaken it even more. The coldness of her skin though, indicated that she had easily been dead had Kisame not found her. He had mistakenly rescued her. She was lucky. Moving his hand away, he let the appendage slip to the shoulder of his black cloak. Without further hesitation, he slipped the cloak off and allowed it to cover her. The black and red looked terrible against her, but he thought it would serve purpose of keeping her warmed until sunset quite well. If she didn't wake up by then, Kisame would decide what to do with the girl he'd rescued.
Shifting himself to sit properly, he let his arms fold over his chest, and he glanced at the fire. For the remainder of the night, he would need to contemplate what his next step was.
By sunset, he heard the sounds of Kisame returning. He thought to look up, but he found it better to continue staring at the doused flames. The fire was long gone, but the strange girl remained unconscious near the flames. She looked better in the sunlight. He assumed it was her hair. A fiery red. That reminded him of the sun, and he immediately associated it with such. "We'll go now?" Kisame asked, as he looked at Itachi. He appeared to have forgotten the odd girl. She was covered in Itachi's cloak. Perhaps he assumed she was gone. There needed to be a good solution to this, and Itachi could not see Kisame spending his day tending to a girl. He was more likely to abandon her, or eat her for some sick, monstrous pleasure. Itachi knew he couldn't let someone be left alone to suffer. He had duty to protect. And he was the only consciously thinking human being here..
"Go. I'll catch up in a few days," he responded, after a few moments of thinking. The shock on Kisame's features were easy to ignore. His probing nature, however, was not. "You're gonna stay behind? Is it that girl? Did'ya know her?" he asked. Kisame's questions were easy to ignore. Itachi's need to leave, howeve,r was not. He moved towards the cloak-covered female, and knelt down. Slipping his arms underneath her, he lifted her carelessly. She was malnourished. She was probably always malnourished. Her village did not feed her. But it was expected of a machine meant to kill. Only eat what was required. Ironic as it was, Itachi understood this as well. He turned, still clutching the girl close to himself, and began walking away from Kisame, who watched silently. It did not take long for him to enter the inner parts of the forest. It was chilly. But the cloak was not necessary. If he was to attempt at keeping this girl alive long enough to be able to leave her with someone who could properly heal her and give her a new chance at life.
Minutes passed, almost into hours, and all he did was race further away from the direction he should be going to, hoping to reach a village before nightfall. Kisame was much faster than him, and naturally, this meant Itachi would take longer to find him after they went separate ways. How disdainful, really. All due to one little girl interrupting their business. He might have continued in this sense had the faint stirring in his arms not managed to distract him. Looking down with furrowed eyebrows, he finally took notice of the fiery haired girl opening her eyes, very hesitantly. Her lips parted, slightly—the pink sheen of her lips, it stood out. Perhaps achieving consciousness had brought some warmth to her. Or maybe it was his cloak finally providing enough warmth. But it was most shocking to see her eyes, were a strange brown hue. A colour that was so lackluster, it suited her expressive hair colour.
"Nnh.. s.. stupid, trash—"
Itachi was taken back by her choice in words. Did she refer to him? He was not certain. But he was so objective that he had managed to be ignorant of any sort of behavioural problems she might have. Fiery hair indicated to a fiery nature. It appeared, even half conscious, this female had that kind of indication in her behaviour. The moment her eyes closed again, he was aware that slumber had taken her again. It was even more summed in nature when she gripped him closer. She was moving in her sleep. But she seemed to seek the warmth of his own body. It was like Sasuke, in his sleep, when he was younger. But this girl was just that—a girl. Sasuke was a brother. The difference between these was unacceptable. But he made do with it, allowing her closer. Enough that he could swear he felt her breath against his clothing. There was such strangeness to this female. She was both attractive, and strangely repelling. She was different.
Who exactly did Kisame rescue?
After a few hours, they were quick to arrive at a small village, where he was sure no one recognised him. The innkeeper leant him a room based on some ryo, and he had immediately taken to the room in hopes of placing the girl there. Once he pulled the covers of the bed aside, he gently settled her down on the bed, and stepped away to examine her. Injured as she was, she healed. Too quickly. He didn't understand how or why. Moving closer, he examined her features, until his eyes travelled down to her neck. To the marking on the side of her neck indicating that she had something there. Brushing her hair aside, he frowned when he noticed the markings Orochimaru left on his disciples, imprinted into her. She was one of his—the ones he held closest. How had he managed to come across someone like this? He would never understand. Instead, he took focus on how she was finally regaining full consciousness, enough that her hands fisted, and her eyes scrunched up in a way that showed she was in pain. Had her spine been crushed? Perhaps. But how was she healing so quickly? The miracles the cursed mark provided were great, Itachi found now. He wondered how many other ill-fated children were pushed into that.
"Where the fuck am I?" she spoke up, in a pained voice. He didn't make movement, but he did shift his gaze towards her leg. Incredible that she didn't take notice of her surroundings. He could only imagine how much she'd be shocked once she woke up. Once she noticed where she was, and who she was around. Did she even know about the Akatsuki? Once her brown hues landed on him, he looked back with equally as dark optics, taking in the way she looked at him. The way she appeared almost flabbergast by the way he appeared. Was she afraid? Or was she taking in his own behaviour the same way he was summarizing hers in a few, simple moments? She sat up in an instance, and her glare was shattering. He had finally found someone unafraid of sending him a glare, but someone who likely had strange capabilities. One of Orochimaru's own. And much unlike that cowardly snake, she wasn't backing off.
"Who the hell are you? Where the fuck is that trash?!" she shouted, immediately angry from some source Itachi could not understand. What was she going on about? Nevertheless, he stood still, unafraid. He was the powerful missing nin. She had no idea who she was going to try hurting. "You're that Uchiha, aren't you? Why the fuck are you out of the barrel already? Where's Kimimaro? Where's your cursed mark?" she barked, still loud.
His immediately dawning on Sasuke being the person this girl was indicating to made his stomach stricken. She was talking about his brother. Much to his displeasure, it meant his brother had somehow concocted himself into some mad universe where he was a victim with Orochimaru's plans. And it would only cause problems for him. For his true intentions—to stop Sasuke from turning out like himself. More to contemplate later. Less time to deal with the girl right now. Indicating to the cloak still covering part of her body, he only spoke for the first time since a day or so ago, to try and reason. Because she was in no condition to fight, and he was in no state to do pointless warfare.
"I am not him. Lay still, or you will be killed," he announced, almost emotionlessly. He did take notice of her calculative, shifty gaze. Almost as if she were considering what to do. In one moment, he realised she was no ordinary kunoichi. She was intelligent. She was summarizing her situation and basing her solutions on it. An interesting turn of events. "Then you'll let me go—because it's obvious what you want. Something near Konohagakure." Did she know about the Akatsuki? He wasn't certain. But maybe she recognised her surroundings. But he knew better than to let her go so soon. Interrogation was necessary, especially since he now knew that Sasuke was in orochimaru's grasp.
But the moment their eyes met again, he knew this might be difficult—this girl. She was just as intelligent, but much more stubborn than him. They were too opposed.
He had met a challenge.
Once he had managed to watch her settle herself into a position of laying down, he had walked to the other side of the room to peer at her from another angle. By now, the flush of her cheeks had returned. She looked tired. But there was the flame he suddenly found so entrancing, returning. And overlapping her temperous behaviour. This girl, she had something he had not seen in a long time. She had the will to stand up and fight, and she was still female. But her unfortunate condition indicated she was not good enough. She needed to change in order to be good enough, get rid of the demon that had found its way into her life. But could she remove Orochimaru? He was aware that large amounts of his followers were truly attached to him. Was this girl likewise? Or was she so unattached that she would shout at her own master?
When he offered her a clean swab and a bowl to clean off the wounds on her body parts, he expected some sort of retort back, but instead, a silent glare was aimed in his direction, and her eyes spoke in words he found he couldn't understand. She was by far a more complex creature than he initially assumed. It was her eyes. It was her behaviour. She almost seemed more closed off than he was. "I don't need your help," she barked. Her tone was not loud, but her voice spoke in a way he couldn't imitate, had he wanted to. She was quite serious. "People who abandon their comrades are worse than swine."
He didn't quite understand her indication at first—Kisame had not been abandoned, and she had been unconscious. But the further he delved into thought, the more he recalled she had been around Sasuke. And it was obvious that they were from the same clan. They were one and the same. And therefore, she must have associated him with any sort of tale of the Uchiha. He faint spoke of his past. She was a knowledgeable opponent, should he consider her one. She meant his brother, whom he had obviously left to fight for himself. Without much more word, he reached for her hand, letting his fingers curl around her wrist, even as she gasped out and shouted for him to release hold of her. If she argued, he could snap her hand like a twig. As ill as he was, he was no fool to allow a girl to ruin his judgment. He let the swab run over the cuts, the injuries. They were caused by sources of tree. She had likely been blown to it by a gust of wind. But she had less chakra than he initially assumed. What was this girl? Her weapon eluded him. She fought using some sort of musical instrument. If such a weapon were powerful enough.. it could destroy his susanoo.
One girl could disrupt his Sharingan.
When he had run it over each cut, he could have sworn he'd heard every insult he had ever learnt of. Hidan had every possible insult booked, until this strange girl began to use them in a way he couldn't describe. Despite being so young, she took pain tolerantly. She was not insulting the pain, but she was insulting him for controlling her in a state like this. He was manipulative. Hadn't he controlled Sasuke, too? The questions he found entering his mind were so heavy. So complex. He didn't understand how someone could be so deceptively strong. She was almost created to combat his jutsu. No one else could combat him in this sense. It was riveting. It was wrong on so many strange levels. Itachi despised how this girl was controlling him—without attempting to.
Placing the swab aside, he locked his gaze with hers. And there was nothing more confusing than the glare aimed right back. Perhaps no one had challenged him in so long. Not his partner, and certainly never the Akatsuki. Besides the obvious enemies he encountered that couldn't hold a candle to him, he was certain that he could take them apart. But she was different. She was perhaps, one of few enemies who bested him emotionally. One fiery girl, and all he had to combat was silence, and temporary control. He was intruiged in an entirely negative sense, and the further her traversed into this simpleminded contemplation of this female, the more he found he would have no escape. Within a few moments, he had stepped away from her to go clean the swab and tend to some form of food to properly disarray any weakness either of them had developed. It would be a matter of time before her wounds healed, and even less time before his own healed. He too had to discover where to settle this girl before the end of their journeying.
By the ending of the day, he had occulated two plates of onigiri and water canisters. It was simple enough that he could go about unnoticed in this village. When he expressed interest in offering the plates to her, once again her silent glare held him in place. But this time, it appeared she had less control over her verbatim.
"I don't want that bullshit you're trying to feed me. I'll look after myself," she responded, with equal vigor to the moment before. As pretty as her expressions and appearance were, she lacked one thing Itachi found most attractive in any person—silence and respect. She seemed intent on defaming anyone. And she evidently did not care for his background, or his reputation. After sighing out, he placed the onigiri on the table beside her and shifted over to a chair in the inn room where he settled down and politely ate his food. He had no reason to hold off, after all. She followed suit after a few moments, but he was ever alert that she was gaining strength, and her courage never waned. It amused him, and confounded him. How could he expect to hold someone like this down for so long?
"Where the fuck am I, anyway?" she asked. He was even more amused that she hid her name. Most would ask for a name. However, it appeared their exchange would lack names. She was not aware of his, even despite his likeliness to his younger brother. "Village. North of Konohagakure," he responded, after a few more moments of contemplating. The temptation of food between them was a formality now. They were both considering how to stop the other from knowing too much while gathering information themselves. "Where do you intend to go?"
She paused as well as he did. However, her response was hasty. She was young, and reckless. Almost like some kamikaze that he imagined giving their life in favour of the victory of their village. "Nowhere," was her response. He assumed she was not lying, by the honesty in her voice. It was not boasting, nor was it hidden and shy. She was speaking with truth. But nowhere indicated she had no home, and anyone did. Only a ninja under Orochimaru, meant to die, would have no place to go. It only made his situation more difficult. He would have no choice but to abandon her here. She had no place among shinobi from the Akatsuki. "What about you?" she asked—and she slipped in the silent way of gaining his personal information. However, try as she might, he knew to keep his identity hidden. His cloak now placed on a chair indicated all too well to where he now belonged. "Akatsuki," he responded. It was a true answer, but only partially.
When her food selection had been completed, she shifted to climb out of the bed. He had not moved, simply because it was not in his place to do so, but her pained grunt when her legs shook, and her weakened expression at standing, all made him churn with dislike. He immediately stood, and placed his plate aside and walked towards her, just in time for her to collapse, her legs giving out. His arms slipped around her figure very, perfectly, tugging her body closer, and he kept her from falling. But it revealed in one moment that the damage to her body had been completed. Her legs were likely too weak to be repaired by any normal means. Despite her protest and shouting, he shifted her back onto the bed and knelt down enough to look at her legs. The thin appendages, were likely damaged. Permanently. She could no longer serve life as a shinobi. Crippled. He internally found it ironic that she should lose her ability at the end of her mission, taking his brother away—when in reality, he too should be in such condition if he were to survive his future. Blind from overuse of his Mangekyo Sharingan. And they would be in similar places.
However unlike her, he had a plan, to end himself. And to redeem his brother. She likely had no one like that. She really had no traceable past, or no way to return to Orochimaru. He would probably end her himself if he knew of her lack of appendages to move with.
"I guess that was it," she mused, almost shocking him from the amused tone. He didn't understand. "That trash didn't win. And I'm done for." She sounded cynically pleased that she wasn't able to move anymore. It was strange enough that someone who was so young didn't mind losing control over her legs. She was barely an adult. But he supposed he understood. He, too, wanted to leave the Shinobi world behind, to live peacefully. She seemed to want likewise, as odd as it was.
"Tell me your name," he requested. It wasn't a question. She seemed to contemplate, before she looked up at the ceiling. "Tayuya," she answered. "Yours."
"Itachi," he answered back. And at that moment, he became aware of just how strangely calm this struggle had become. It seemed they were both very similar people, despite the differences they had. She wanted to live peacefully at the moment where they considered her dead—he wanted the same.