It was one of the oddest experiences of his after life, as Ace would later recall.
Dying in the arms of his brother Luffy...then waking up squalling and realizing he had become an infant all over again. It took him years to come to terms with the fact he had died and been reborn in a world where Ninjas, not pirates ruled. Instead of vast seas and endless skies, there were massive pieces of land that had varying climates. Instead of devil fruits, there were kekkei genkai...one of which he had apparently inherited when reborn.
And haki had been replaced by the widely used chakra, which wasn't nearly as hard to managed as he found out.
Though he definitely preferred that old geezer to his new parents. Despite his odd training methods he wasn't nearly as boring and he didn't get angry over the fact that his narcolepsy occasionally acted up.
Fugaku and Mikoto had no idea why their first born even had that problem, since no one in the clan did, or his aversion to any form of water bigger than a rather large puddle, but they put up with his quirks (massive appetite included) when he proved to be an Uchiha through and through by mastering the Giant Fireball technique that the clan considered a rite of passage after only seeing it once when his chakra coils were first unlocked.
It had come to no surprise in the clan that Itachi's best element was fire, with wind his second.
Though it had come as a shock that Itachi didn't even flinch when he saw the Kyuubi in all it's glory at the tender age of four. In fact he seemed to stare at the fox right in the eye and something passed between them.
Not that anyone saw that before returning him to a terrified Mikoto who had been worried sick about her son.
"Nii-san! Can you teach me the shadow shuriken today?" begged Sasuke. The seven-year old would always beg Itachi to teach him, but he was usually too busy rebuilding his reserves back to the way they were before his 'death'.
Today, however, Fugaku had really pissed him off, so he picked the chibi up and spent the day teaching him how to walk up trees without his hands.
"Nii-san...how come you're so weird?" asked Sasuke.
Itachi sweatdropped. He knew full well the clan considered him to be a bigger oddball since Obito, but still...
"Because I don't feel the need to listen to what the old people say I should do. If I don't feel like being boring, then why should I?" said Itachi tactfully.
Five years had done something White Beard once claimed impossible. It had given Itachi 'Ace' Uchiha a sense of tact and some actual manners. That being said, he only did it to keep them off his case because he didn't feel like pandering to their illusion of the 'genius' Itachi.
His narcolepsy was a source of endless frustration for his father, even if Kakashi had found a rather useful way to keep him awake during missions that involved a Kumo-made alarm clock that used a lightning-charged battery. It went off on ten minute intervals at full charge, and drained Itachi's chakra in the process, though it was only a minute amount.
Itachi was just glad that the full-charge of the clock was able to wake him up, odd sleeping disorder or not. He couldn't count the times it had gotten him into trouble.
Though he still had to refrain from cursing like the pirate he once was whenever someone though it was funny to take advantage of him falling asleep at random...the pain his ears went through via Mikoto's fingers pinching them was enough for a lifetime, thank you!
Sasuke seemed like a little monkey the way he followed his every move during training. Fortunately for the kid, Itachi had experience with little brothers and didn't embarrass him too much.
Itachi listened for about five minutes before his narcolepsy kicked in. He fell asleep during the meeting and only woke up when Fugaku nearly killed him with a kunai to the head.
"Dammit Itachi, what have I said about not wearing that clock of yours during meetings?"
"Wear it so I won't embarrass you during plots to overthrow Konoha?" said Itachi bored.
Fugaku grew a rather large tick mark. Itachi had figured out in a single meeting that the Uchiha were, for one reason or another, planning to overthrow the Hokage. He just didn't care.
All he said was that when Sasuke pulled off a Grand Fireball to keep him out of it. Considering the kid wasn't even ten, Fugaku had agreed to it.
Now that the meeting was over, Itachi headed straight to the bar, ignoring the odd man who appeared to only have one eye.
He had seen him before, but frankly unless the guy pissed him off he wasn't his problem. Why no one seemed to comment on his presence, he had no idea.
"Yo, Anko-chan!" said Itachi.
"Ace-chan!" she said pleased, slamming back another cup of sake.
Anko Mitarashi was the only person in Konoha who believed he was a reincarnated soul of a pirate who could manipulate fire like it was nothing.
There was a reason for this. The day he made jounin he went out to celebrate and claimed it was all Kakashi's idea. This was the day he ran into Anko for the first time, and in the spirit of getting an Uchiha to 'lighten up' (she apparently didn't know Itachi was the odd man out in the clan) she challenged him to a drinking contest despite Kakashi's attempts to protect Itachi who was still underage.
Itachi, remembering all the drinking contests he had when he was still a pirate, accepted the challenge...and to the shock of many drank the normally lush Anko under the table and a few others. And according to him it was his first time in a bar.
At least a shinobi bar anyway.
Anko later cornered him and he told her the truth about his actual origins. Considering he drank her under the table (among others) she believed him completely.
That being said, she did enjoy dragging him to bars to compare war stories about battles they had been in. His 'parents' were less than pleased to hear about it.
"Where have you been Pyro?" she snarked. It was her name for him, and he didn't care.
"Boring ass clan meeting. Fugaku thinks I give a crap if I get caught sleeping, even with my problem," said Itachi bored.
"Meh. Fugaku is a tight ass," said Anko.
"I hear that. Dumbass thinks he can overthrow the Hokage... Idiot doesn't think things through at all," said Itachi.
"Wha...?" said Anko, suddenly sober.
"They keep talking about overthrowing the Hokage and the Senju or some bullshit. Last I checked Tsunade wasn't even in the village, and had no intention of ever returning," said Itachi.
"That's treason," said Anko.
"That's idiocy," said Itachi flatly.
"Tell me more," she said.
"Some guy with only one eye keeps showing up to those boring ass meetings and stirring them up. I'm the only one who's noticed him, and he seems to be the root of this issue. I mostly fall asleep so I don't have to hear more Pro-Uchiha bullshit," said Itachi.
"Only one eye? And no one else has noticed him?"
"I think there was some sort of genjutsu on him. I only noticed him because I was half asleep I think," said Itachi.
That was the source of much confusion about Itachi. Most Uchiha's could use genjutsu or recognize it with their eyes. Itachi had never bothered to activate his, but for some odd reason Genjutsu slid right off him. It had baffled the ANBU in charge of the tests, because he could plainly see Itachi didn't have his Sharingan on.
Yet another thing that Fugaku was pissed about. Itachi was clearly a genius, yet he never once tried to unlock his kekkei genkai. He instead relied on his fire techniques (some of which the clan had tried to reproduce with absolutely no success whatsoever) or using his fists.
He really couldn't understand why Itachi, who he had tried to raise as the 'Perfect Uchiha Son' was so...different. Yes, he listened to his father and took care of his brother with love, but he didn't really act like an Uchiha at all aside from his fire abilities.
Anko would have dragged Itachi into the Hokage's office, but Itachi calmed her.
"He already knows. Whoever that man with the one eye is, he is keeping any settlement from occurring along with Danzo's help. Annoying bastard."
Itachi drank one last shot of sake, before heading to the river. It was one of the places that he liked to nap at.
He remembered a joke that some people made that he was half-Nara with how smart he was and how much he slept.
(What people didn't know was that Fugaku had Itachi tested and was somewhat upset to learn that Itachi was his son. Mikoto hadn't been pleased when she learned that he half-hoped she had a fling with a Nara man.)
He was about to fall asleep when Shinsui came up to him...and tried to kill him.
Shinsui was one of his few friends and the only one he trusted to take care of Sasuke for him when he was on missions.
So being forced to kill him was difficult, but not very painful. Itachi didn't like killing, but he wasn't afraid to get his hands dirty.
"Explain, before you pass on," said Itachi.
"Fugaku doesn't want you to ruin the plan. He sent me to kill you," rasped Shinsui, before he died.
Itachi cleaned his hands. Fugaku wouldn't be stupid enough to send Shinsui after him. He knew full well that his cousin wasn't strong enough to do the job. Someone else had sent him.
He thought back to what he had read. One of the things he had picked up in this world was a love of reading. He normally didn't have a chance to on the ship or exploring, because there was always something to do.
One of the scrolls he had found...or was directed to, was about an advanced form of Sharingan.
The Mangekyo. Someone wanted him to unlock it by killing his 'best friend' but that had occurred years ago. The only way he would be able to unlock something like that now was if Luffy or worse Sasuke died in front of him.
Itachi frowned. Knowing the plan that was in place for the clan because of the attempted revolt, he would have to keep Sasuke far from the compound for a few days. But first, he needed to see the Hokage.
"My cover has been blown. Someone sent Shinsui to kill me in hopes of unlocking another form of Sharingan," said Itachi.
"Are you sure?" said Sarutobi.
"He claims Fugaku was the one behind it, but I know that to be a lie. Fugaku would have better sense to send someone stronger to kill me, since it's well known among the clan that I have a very strong resistance to genjutsu."
"Shinsui had an odd form of Sharingan that would allow subtle genjutsu to be cast without hand seals. Sending him after me would be suicide."
"So whoever sent him to kill you either didn't know or didn't care. Why are you smiling?"
"Because of how unique Shinsui's eyes were, I took the liberty of destroying them just in case. There was always the chance that whoever sent him did so in order to steal them and it was just coincidence," said Itachi.
Yet another thing that he had gotten from this world. The ability to think ahead.
Back when he was a pirate, he had plenty of back-up, or at least knew what he was getting into. As a ninja, he didn't have that luxury.
"What do you plan to do now?"
"I'm kidnapping Sasuke for the day. I have a feeling this will come to a boil tomorrow, and there's no way I'm letting my brother get caught up in this mess. And before you ask, no I am not going undercover. I hate doing those."
Sarutobi nodded. If anyone could keep Sasuke from following the wrong path, it was his brother. Out of that entire cursed clan, Itachi was the only one he had any hopes for.
Because he acted more like Minato than Fugaku. (According to Kakashi at any rate.)
Itachi went looking for Sasuke after school, only to learn that 'he' had taken the boy early.
He ran to the clan compound to find most of the Uchiha dead, and his brother held hostage.
Sasuke looked terrified, but not confused. Apparently he had figured out on the way home that this wasn't Itachi, but a fake. The fake had a sharp kunai to his brother's throat, but Itachi could just barely make out what Sasuke was mouthing to him.
One of Sasuke's favorite bedtime stories was Fire Man, which was actually him describing his days as a pirate only edited to ninja tastes. It was a five-year-old who gave him the name Fire Man, and the name stuck.
"Release my brother now," said Itachi coldly.
"Really Itachi, did you think I would care what you want? You, who have finally achieved the second stage and unlocked your Sharingan?" sneered the fake.
"I never unlocked it you moron. The reason they slapped a genius label on me is because I have an instinctive grasp on fire jutsu," snorted Itachi.
Itachi knew what he had to do.
He created a single shadow clone then grabbed Sasuke. His brother was cut a little, but it would heal.
"Did you really think a single pathetic clone would work?" sneered the fake.
"Oh, but that's not a clone," said Itachi.
"What?" said the fake, turning.
Standing to the side was a familiar body. His body, before he died.
Sasuke's eyes were wide, as he saw the tattoo on the back, the odd hat on his head...and the fact the man was only wearing pants.
"Fire Man..." he whispered.
"The name...is Gol D. Ace. And you just pissed off the wrong person fake," sneered Ace.
Here, Ace could go by his birth name. Here, it was the Age of Shinobi, and the legend of One Piece had never existed. Gol D. Roger wasn't around to ruin his son's life anymore.
Ace looked at his current body and nodded. Itachi didn't ask, he just took Sasuke and ran. His past self could handle anything that freak threw at him, and even if he couldn't he was only a clone. As long as the main body was safe, Ace could come back at any time.
"Aniki, was that Fire Man?" asked Sasuke.
"That was Fire Man. He'll keep that fake busy while we get to the hospital."
"He was just like you described Aniki!" said Sasuke.
There was a loud explosion behind them. Sasuke's eyes were wide as he saw a massive ball of flame appear in the sky. Itachi was tempted to see what it looked like from the outside, but he knew better.
The sooner he got to ANBU headquarters and patched up his brother, the better off they would be.
"Aniki, there's a fire bird behind us!" said Sasuke.
Itachi did spare a glance behind him and he saw the Phoenix Fire rise up. It was one of his more powerful techniques. He had a dragon fire as well, but he rarely used it because it generally wore him out to the point of exhaustion.
If the fireball in the sky didn't attract attention, it definitely would. He could see ANBU racing to the Uchiha compound to see what the hell was going on.
Thankfully Anko was on duty at Headquarters.
"Itachi, what the hell is going on? Reports of massive fire techniques have been going on for the last ten minutes!" she said.
"Someone killed off the clan and tried to kill Sasuke. I popped off a shadow clone so it could take care of the killer," said Itachi blandly.
"Hold up, reports said that the one shooting off fire had a weird orange hat, a massive tattoo on his back and no shirt..."
"Remember when you asked how I could drink you under the table and keep going?"
"Ah... never mind then. So that's you before..." said Anko, waving at him. Itachi nodded.
The two remaining Uchiha stayed in ANBU headquarters until someone finally brought Ace in. He grinned at Itachi before dispelling himself, alarming the ANBU greatly.
"Fire clones. Far more useful than ordinary shadow clones," said Itachi blandly. Thank kami that clone dispelled itself with a small burst of flame.