Naruto Uzumaki: Shinobi of the World

Manuke- dunce, blockhead, idiot

Ikuzo- let's go! (I think)

A/N: I hate to drop a bomb on you, but there is a bit of bad news concerning the Harem at the end of the chapter. On a separate note, I've decided to drop italics for Jutsu. It's just so..unnecessary.

Thank you all for reviewing.

Here's Ch.8

Enjoy

Chapter Eight: Itachi

Bodies...so many bodies. Her scarlet eyes scanning every one, etching the gruesome details of their lacerated corpses into her subconscious. A stale scent permeated the air. The surrounding area lie in ruins in the aftermath of chaos incarnate's passing.

The young kunoichi struggled feebly, clutching at the grand wound inflicted on her collarbone. It had been hell to make it this far. She wasn't exactly sure how she'd arrived at her destination, her body weakened as it was. But as Uchiha Motoko gazed at the massive beast stalking toward the village wall she now stood upon, she knew what had to be done. Somehow...someway...she was going to stop this damned murderous demon.

The Kyuubi no Kitsune sensed the challenge in it's maddened haze. Each of it's nine tails flickering with a force greater than any natural disaster, the demon lord prowled over to the pitiful mortal structure. The fox's eyes glowed a fearsome red as it locked gazes with that accursed Kekkei Genkai. The frail, human girl glared back with an unwavering stare, willing the demon into submission. It was just at the moment that Kyuubi prepared to charge through the village gates as he would the gates of hell, that they both felt it.

A sudden tremor in the balance of power between mortals and demons caused the great kitsune to halt. An ancient ability not seen nor heard from the Uchiha clan in over a century began to surface. It was a matter of life or death. Annihilation or survival. Motoko's body called on a force that had long since remained dormant within her. The lone kunoichi and the demonic kitsune both felt it as her Sharingan became something more...

,',

Her opened eye lost it's glossy look as she awoke, deactivating her Doujutsu. Motoko sat up with a blank stare, eyes drifting into nothingness.

Something told her it was going to be a shitty day.

\\\ /

A battalion ofNarutos searched, almost frantically, from one room to another. Every hair or fiber was to be located, collected and burned. This not only allowed Motoko to sit back and relax, it also provided the boy with an exercise for covering his tracks. Motoko had considered simply burning the house down but decided, for two prominent reasons, not to.

The kunoichi within her, that consumed most of her speculation, decided that a house spontaneously combusting with no remains of those living inside would be rather suspicious. It wasn't instantly lethal if they happened to be discovered by, oh say, the Akatsuki. But better safe than sorry when concerning Naruto's strange, yet certainly powerful, enemies.

Another voice inside, one that had been silenced for nearly six years prior to meeting the cumbersome blonde baka, just didn't want for this house to perish. It was here that Tsuki, Naruto and herself had bonded as a family of orphaned misfits.

As such, Naruto had been charged with erasing any of their tracks from the entire house after all of their belongings had been packed up. When a stampede of Narutos emerged from the house, head-butting, shoving and snorting at one another to see who would get through the door first in a way that caused a reluctant smile, Motoko proceeded to inspect the home herself.

She was impressed that everything that had been obvious; strands of hair, eyelashes, scents and whatnot, he had located. The only disappointment came when she revealed an empty scroll hidden by a Genjutsu that he failed to locate, and that was mild. Naruto sheepishly explained that when he made Kage Bunshin, sometimes his thoughts were hazy and he got sloppy. She didn't mock him, this time, as controlling a horde of copies was no easy feat, especially for an eight year old.

The young Jinchuuriki had changed much in the past two years. That is, in terms of a shinobi. Appearance wise he was still on the short side as one could only expect. Visible muscles were few and far between given his age and as such, Naruto was more healthy than muscular. The largest difference could be seen on the back of his head where a small ponytail was growing.

Other than that, Naruto largely stayed the same. His eyes were still the most refreshing shade of blue, only shielded slightly by Obito's old goggles. His hair was still a mass of spiky, blonde pandemonium.

Yeah, Uzumaki Naruto was a competent shinobi but, largely, still a goofy kid with a penchant for mischief. Which was an honest relief. Being a ninja at such a young age usually sacrificed a lot of personality, she knew.

With their tracks fully covered, Naruto and his psychotic sister met up with Tsuki near the village exit. Along with the Hyuuga were Kaijin, and Hatsuen, the latter of the two giving a mild wave as the former offered a grand smile. They exchanged fond farewells before the group exited the village gates.

This time, Naruto was more than capable of traveling through the volcanic tunnels, thank goodness, eliminating the need for Motoko to toss him like a sack of potatoes. He found it to be rather enjoyable, actually, flipping over the molten lava upon making it out of the tunnels. For the briefest of moments he curiously considered trying walk on the lava. But the shinobi senses that had practically been beaten into him won out and he deemed it suicidal. Even with his Kasei/Force of Flames.

Naruto landed behind his Nee-chans. They each took a moment to bask in the sunlight that had been dearly missed. Just as they were about to head to their next destination, Naruto's head jerked up as he sniffed the air.

"I smell blood." he said lowly. In response, the two kunoichi guardians froze mid-step.

"Where?" Motoko demanded in an equally low voice, an ominous feeling sweeping over her.

"Working on it." Naruto replied.

Neither noticed Tsuki activate her own Doujutsu and scan the area. They did notice, however, when she threw a kunai into the foliage of a crooked tree. There was a deft cling of metal on metal before Tsuki's kunai was sent sailing out of the tree in another direction.

"Show yourself or perish." the ANBU in white instructed cooly.

After a few moments of healthy daunting, a figure in Konohagakure ANBU armor swiftly jumped from the tree and landed on the ground with prime, silent grace. This shinobi, who could be identified as such simply by his movements, stood at the height of a tall adolescent. Their face was obscured from view by the mask of a weasel.

This would have been a welcome site were it not for the bloody armor the ninja adorned.

The beady eyes of the weasel mask stared before the ANBU reached up to removed it. They revealed scarlet eyes, each with three black tomoe, that seemed devoid of all life or emotion. The teenager's facial expression was nonexistent. Two dark lines were under the ridge of the eerily familiar eyes.

This also may have been a welcome sight had there not been a slashed Konoha headband on his forehead.

Shit. Motoko mentally swore. Itachi's gone rogue. Without realizing it, her Sharingan blazed to life, merely from habit. It was because of this that she immediately took note of Naruto's motion forward. Before she could react, so stunned by the stupidity of the move, Naruto had leapt off the ledge and straight for Itachi.

Tsuki was also too perplexed by the her younger brother's rashness to stop him.

"He's mine!" the blonde declared, withdrawing a handful of shuriken from each leg holster as he dropped his backpack. Missing ninja, of ANBU rank at least, were to be either captured or terminated on sight!

A cold sense of amusement briefly ran through Itachi's eyes as a hail of shuriken rained from Naruto's left hand. The projectiles embedded themselves into the bark of the tree with a grinding sound, centimeters apart from one another. The Uchiha prodigy, who had easily dodged them, would have quirked an eyebrow were he a more expressive person. The Jinchuuriki's aim was even better than Sasuke's.

The next set of shuriken forced the Nukenin deeper into the forest around them as he dodged. This seemed to be Naruto's intention as he ricocheted from one tree to another in an animalistic fashion before dashing in closely enough to engage him in a Taijutsu match.

The blonde aimed a flying kick that sailed over Itachi's head as he ducked, causing him to land behind the Uchiha. Naruto quickly followed up with a perfect, grass cutting leg sweep that his opponent neatly leaped over. Being careful not to reveal too many aspects of his skills, Naruto continued his assault, occupying Itachi until the time was right.

Though his skills were beyond superior to even the highest class of shinobi, Itachi was mildly impressed by the younger boy's form. Still, he had not come here to test the Jinchuuriki. Not solely to test him, anyway. Unsheathing the ninjato from his back, he regarded the blonde for just a moment before lashing out with a lightning quick slash.

Both kunoichi present watched the battle closely, waiting for an opportunity to retrieve the knuckleheaded ninja without risk of injuring him. The fight Naruto was in was dangerous; obviously, as the boy he was fighting had already attained the rank of ANBU captain, if the markings on his armor were faithful. But to interfere at a critical moment could make it all the more grave. So they waited and watched, even as Itachi cut a light gash into Naruto's left shoulder.

Unlike most other kids his age, Naruto did not cry out in pain. More practically, he withdrew two doubled edged kunai, one in each hand, and proceeded to counter Itachi's flawless swordsmanship as best he could. With ducks, spins and whirls, the blonde parried for his life, even once managing to catch the blade between his weapons before it was smoothly detached with a twist.

Had he actually been trying to hit the older boy, Naruto would have been seriously pissed off and even a little scared. But he had learned patience, and waited until his plan was just about ready to be executed...

As he dodged a precise slash aimed at his trachea, Itachi spun on his heel to catch Naruto in a weak position as he lunged forward. Bringing the blade down with a powerful strike, the Nukenin cut cleanly through both Naruto's kunai as he raised them to defend. Without giving him a moment of rest, Itachi jabbed the sword through Naruto's arm all the way to the hilt, pinning him to a tree.

This time, he did expect for the blonde to cry out at the look of anguish beneath those familiar looking goggles. He expected to hear pleas of mercy as he dropped both kunai. He did not, however, expect Naruto and his equipment to explode in a cloud of smoke.

Kage Bunshin. Itachi thought with a somewhat quickened mental pace; something that may qualify as alarm for him. Being an elite ninja who was well accomplished with fire techniques, he easily recognized the sound of a kunai with a burning explosive note embedding itself into the other side of the tree. Unable to withdraw his sword from the tree in time, Itachi merely abandoned it as he leapt away just in time to avoid the explosion.

Unfortunately, for the young ANBU, another kunai with an explosive note was thrown through the flames and headed straight for him. Shifting midair, Itachi kicked off a tree with an extra boost of chakra, his feet leaving a heavy indentation on the bark as he jetted away. His Sharingan eyes locked onto the kunai, waiting for it to plunge into a tree. Imagine his surprise when another kunai came out of the foliage and deflected it's deadlier counterpart into his direction.

That technique...! Itachi jumped, yet again, as the kunai lost altitude. Just as the raven haired ninja prepared to counterattack, the kunai transformed into the Jinchuuriki.

Naruto skidded to a halt, grinning slightly as he brought his left hand in front of him in a one-handed Tora. As he expected, Itachi's eyes strained upon seeing it and that was only about to get worse. Inhaling deeply, Naruto unleashed one of his original Jutsu. "Bakuchiku/Firecracker!"

As the name implied, sparks of flame began to leap several feet from Naruto's mouth, loud crackling noises accompanying each of them. The Jutsu was not meant to burn anything but the target's retinas, however, as each of the sparks fizzled out on the ground harmlessly. The true purpose of the technique was to temporarily disorientate the target's sight, as the flames were quite bright when directly looked upon. Similar to staring at the sun.

And it was only ten times or so worse for someone who had fully developed the Uchiha Doujutsu, as they could see the chakra burning within the technique. Thus, for Uchiha Itachi, it was like looking into the sun with a magnifying glass.

With few other options, Itachi deactivated his Sharingan to keep from being completely blinded, unwilling to simply shut his eyes and lose track of the blonde again. This, to further credit Naruto's combative genius, was precisely what the blonde wanted.

Seeing that his opponent had deactivated his Doujutsu, Naruto immediately dropped his Bakuchiku and began a string of two handed seals, Itachi currently unable to copy his jutsu. Nezumi. Saru. Usagi. Saru. Inu. Nezumi. With his chakra properly molded, Naruto sent out a chakra pulse large enough to overwhelm his opponent as he performed the Jutsu he'd named after a girl back home.

"Hinata/In the Sun!" Just as Itachi began his descent from his last bound...his body continued to rise! As if the laws of gravity had suddenly been disregarded for his being, the bloody prodigy began to float out of Earth's atmosphere; his opponent became a tiny speck that waved him a cheery farewell. Soon enough, he couldn't breathe, or even move in the pressure of deep space's vacuum. And then, the most intense burning sensation he could imagine came upon the Uchiha as his body was burned to atoms...

"Kai!"

With a start, Itachi was released from the Genjutsu. His pulse had quickened considerably, but he was relatively unharmed. That is, if you don't count the kunai being held at his throat and the Kage Bunshin who held him in place, making escape impossible. Not that he could see any of that, being blindfolded by his own forehead-protector.

Naruto hung upside down from a low branch with his arm extended, Itachi being too tall for him to hold the kunai to his throat otherwise. "Okay," he finally began with slightly bared teeth beneath his mask, "who the fuck are you!" the blonde demanded. And then...

Itachi smiled.

In a way that would have made Naruto's stomach drop if he weren't already upside down.

"Very good Naruto-kun." Itachi spoke for the first time since their encounter began. "You are quite strong indeed..."

The blonde gave an inaudible gulp, very freaked by not only what Itachi said, but how he said it. Like he'd passed some sort of test. Like he'd met some kind of standard.

"Don't act so cool, teme. Your beaten." Naruto said, not boasting but merely stating a fact.

Itachi's smirk lessened, but in no way that comforted Naruto. "I wouldn't dream of it..." And he promptly jerked his head forward, impaling his throat on the kunai. Naruto's eyes went wide with terror before Itachi 'poofed' out of existence.

Naruto's face remained set in stone for a good ten seconds before losing his cool. "EHHHH!?" he screeched, eyes almost bulging out of his goggles. "A SHADOW CLONE THE WHOLE TIME!?" He was soon silenced by a bash on the head.

Confusion came to Motoko in that, her fist was raised to pummel Naruto, but he was already down. It had, in fact, been Tsuki who had bonked the blonde baka.

"Manuke!" the Hyuuga hissed sharply, eyes boring down on Naruto without her mask. "Next time, wait for us before charging such powerful ninja!" she commanded in a no nonsense tone.

Naruto groaned as he sat himself up. "But Nee-chan!" he whined, kicking his legs childishly. "He didn't seem so tough!"

Motoko gave a slight, sympathetic shrug. "I can see why you'd think that since you just owned his ass." the raven haired beauty allowed, giving him a light pat on the head for his performance. "But think of it like this. Itachi's primary weapon is the Sharingan. We worked on countering it for the last year or so. If it had been anyone else, say, a rogue Iwa-nin..."

"Well if that had been the case, I wouldn't have jumped the guy!" Naruto gave a snort and crossed his arms, facing away from Tsuki. He was clearly trying to be upset with her, the way he was pouting.

Tsuki merely smiled, giving him a slight embrace from behind. "Even so," she continued in a gentle tone, "I wouldn't want you fighting S-ranked Nukenin on your own. Had it not been a clone, things may have been much different."

Naruto blinked, remembering something. "That reminds me," he said, pointing to 'Itachi's' 'remains', "if that was a Kage Bunshin..how come his crap is still there?"

They both turned to find that Naruto was right. Lying in a pile was Itachi's ANBU gear. From his armor, to his ninjato sheath, right down to his black sandals. But, oddly enough, there was no Konoha headband.

Motoko made a thoughtful noise, examining the clothing briefly before standing up straight. "One sec." She disappeared via Shunshin, only to reappear seconds later. Naruto pointed out this fact and received another bonk on the head.

"Check this out." Motoko said in a bemused voice, holding up Itachi's abandoned weasel mask. She handed it to Tsuki, who briefly studied it before handing it back.

"It's definitely authentic." Tsuki surmised.

After only several more seconds of contemplation, Motoko found a possible solution. "The equipment is existent...it has no chakra flowing through it. But Itachi...was a Kage Bunshin. His real armor. His real mask. His real sword." she clarified, holding up the ninjato she also recovered. "But for some reason, his headband was fake, which means the real Itachi must be wearing it still. This doesn't eliminate the possibility of him being a Nukenin. The only reason I can think of for him to do this..." she trailed off, digging through the chest armor. Upon finding a folded sheet of paper she removed it for viewing purposes. "...is this."

Both Tsuki and Naruto crowded around her to read the sheet of paper as she opened it, getting the nod from Tsuki that it wasn't booby trapped. She glanced at them both before reading it.

Meet me at the abandoned Uchiha outpost near Wind Country. Bring your companions.

Uchiha Itachi.

Just in the bottom right-hand corner of the paper, was the fire seal of the Hokage, imbued with his unique chakra signature. The note was authentic.

"Hn." the Uchiha snorted. "So this note is marked by Sandaime..."

Tsuki merely sighed, rising. "We have nothing to lose by going. And we were headed in that direction."

Pumping an arm into the air, Naruto gave a grin beneath his mask. "Well let's not keep him waiting. Ikuzo!" He soon leapt up and into the trees only to return a few moments later. Scratching his head, Naruto asked, "So...where was that again..?"

\\\ /

Uchiha Itachi was not easily impressed. It wasn't something worth saying verbally, but he tended to believe his eyes held that message, if any. And the few shinobi who had seen his eyes before he killed them would probably agree...but he couldn't ask them for obvious reasons.

Never the less, as his clone dispelled itself in a rather gruesome fashion, Itachi almost, not quite, but almost felt a shiver go down his spine as he sat in a stone chair. His pulse quickened a fraction with this new experience glaring at the forefront of his mind. It was a foreign yet welcome feeling that flowed through him at the moment, and it took time for him to identify it as exhilaration.

It seemed too good be true, how powerful the Kyuubi's Jinchuuriki was. Granted, it had only been a shadow of himself that the boy had defeated, but it was a remarkable feat none the less. And to think he had only begun training as shinobi two years prior...

It seemed as though Itachi had found the right person to fill the needed role in the plot he'd been forced to set into motion. The Jinchuuriki, Uzumaki Naruto, would likely accomplish the ultimate goal Itachi had in mind. One way or another. Either through his own power..or through Sasuke's.

Still, he could not get ahead of himself. Never count your explosion tags, or so they say. Much needed to be done before that long awaited destination could be reached. So for now, the young prodigy simply waited, biding his time and assuring himself that every detail had been calculated as he enjoyed a simple cup of likely expired tea.

\\\ /

Carefully and swiftly moving through the terrain, 'Naruto and co' arrived within a few hours. The breakneck pace with which Motoko had set out was startling and Naruto had difficulty keeping up, but voiced no complaint. There was a certain tension around her shoulders that said she was fairly serious about something. In fact, she'd been kinda moody all day. You'd think someone died...

Foliation native to the Land of Fire became more and more obscure the farther they traveled. Cacti and plants of the pea and sunflower families became more perceptible. The humidity skyrocketed to a level Naruto would have had difficulty breathing in if he hadn't just come out of a two year isolation in the base of a volcano. An active volcano, he reminded himself.

When they finally arrived at a settlement camp marked by the Uchiha paddle fan, Naruto immediately thought the place had gone to hell and had seen better days. None of the buildings seemed to be falling apart but the windows and doors were barred to prevent unauthorized entry. The blonde could tell those were just a cover for a more devious trap, though, as any ninja worth their weight in kunai would be able to get by such trivial snares.

And the blood stains. The blood stains were a dead giveaway.

When given the signal, Tsuki activated her Byakugan to locate their intended target. The only problem was that all of the buildings were coated with special seals that blocked her Kekkei Genkai's ability to see through solid matter. It wasn't much of a surprise though, given the bitter rivalry between the Hyuuga and the Uchiha. Or so he'd been told. Weird that his sisters got along so well.

That left the tracking up to Naruto's nose. Crouching, almost on all fours, the blonde easily recognized the weasel's scent, having come within five meters of him...or rather, his bunshin. That was all he needed to track Itachi down to the central control building that had been used to coordinate operations the Uchiha once held in the region.

The three stood in front of the building, reaching out with their senses for any traps. Motoko took the lead, swiftly entering the building as her companions followed suit. With the chakra signature not being hidden in any way, they rounded the last corner with no problem to locate Uchiha Itachi.

Sitting in the stone chair in a dignified and refined matter, similar to that of groomed prince, Itachi sat staring down at them as though they were his jesters. His attire composed of a black cloak and a slashed hitaiate. Naruto, and it may have just been him, felt a little silly under the gaze.

As Motoko slowly removed her crow mask, Naruto realized something. His dark-eyed sister had projected it in a joking manner quite a few times before, if only for the blonde to become accustomed to it. But now, at this moment, there were no doubts she intended to follow through with it.

Motoko was reeking of killing intent as her eyes seemingly burned into Itachi's soul. Naruto also realized that she hadn't deactivated her Sharingansince they left the proximity of Kemurigakure.

And if he'd been paying attention, he would have noticed a few insects in the corner of the room curl up and just die under the pressure.

When Motoko spoke, Naruto almost leapt from his skin. Her tone was somewhere between cold indifference and burning rage, and at the same time it wasn't... He couldn't describe it as anything but an oath of absolute demise.

"Itachi," she began, her face unnaturally still, even for an Uchiha, "explain yourself. Now. Before I lose my temper."

Those words rang in the corridor for a moment as Itachi regarded his supposedly dead cousin. She could kill him at any moment, he knew. He was strong...but she was better, and Itachi knew with a single glance.

"It...will be difficult to verbally explain." he finally said, cutting through the tension. "A Genjutsu would consume less time...and time is of the essence."

Were the situation any lighter, Naruto would have rolled his eyes at the proposition. He knew what Itachi was talking about. The Sharingan could relay memories using it's hypnotism effect. Like hell Motoko would agree to-

"Whatever."

The blonde blanched, eyes wide. "N-nani?"

Motoko looked over at him and though her expression had not changed, her eyes were back to their normal state. "Dove," she called out, not looking away from Naruto, "if he tries anything...make him bleed from the ears."

A silent nod was the only answer received. Motoko didn't need to see it to know it was there.

Itachi stared for a moment before the black tomoe of his Sharingan began to spin rapidly, boring into Motoko's seemingly bored gaze.

As her world became what Itachi wanted it to be, Motoko couldn't help but feel strong pangs of regret and, though she'd never admit it, fear. No part of her feared Itachi. She was too mentally powerful to be harmed by a Genjutsu. The jitters and downright anxiety came from a simple fact.

She didn't want to know...but she had to.

\\\ /

A lone figure marched stealthily through the woods. Dressed in simple pants and a shirt with a high collar that was standard for Uchiha men, he strode in the direction of the isolated river that few visited. Nakano River. It was just on the outskirts of the district belonging to Konoha's law enforcing clan. The field was generally avoided for the sake of some petty, sheerly ridiculous rumor of will-o-wisps haunting the area. Really, it was just a quiet place to practice some Katon Jutsu.

Mind unbidden by such foolishness, the figure continued in the direction of said river. He had a mission and he intended to carry it out. When he finally emerged from the forest and into the clearing, his intended target came into sight. Their back was to him, watching the calm flow of the river and likely pondering why dealings between people could not be as tranquil.

He approached, standing behind his target who, despite their high rank and well founded paranoia, did not acknowledge his presence. But then again..his chakra signature was familiar enough that he didn't have to.

"...Shisui," his target called without turning, sounding almost hesitant, "were you followed?"

Shunshin no Shisui walked forward to stand beside Itachi, also gazing at the river. "No. Everyone is still attending the assembly." His dark eyes cut to the young prodigy. "I have...the information you wanted." He reached into his shuriken holster, ignoring Itachi's slight flinch, and retrieved two folded sheets of paper. One he handed to Itachi. The other...he would hold onto for a little longer.

"I was digging through Fugaku's papers," Shisui began, spitting out the name as though it were poison, "while I was supposedly spying on you. I copied it right down to the handwriting. It's not enough to convince the Hokage, I don't think..."

As Itachi read the letter written in his father's handwriting, his grip on the flimsy sheet of paper tightened considerably. Dark eyes stared scornfully at the report, as if willing it to spontaneously combust. When it showed no signs of doing so, the Uchiha prodigy disgustedly threw it into the air and incinerated it via Katon.

It confirmed all of his suspicions, unfortunately. Most unfortunately. Itachi had long suspected his father, the clan as a whole, of foul play, but this..was more than he had ever feared.

"Careful, Itachi," Shisui warned, giving a hollow chuckle. "You might just alert them of our position."

The young ANBU captain did not respond, to caught up in his thoughts to pay his best friend much attention. Even as he racked his mind for possible, effective solutions, his father's written proposal burned itself into the recesses of his mind. It was something he would never forget; no matter how badly he wanted to. Just thinking of it...

As the head of the Uchiha Military Force, I accept your terms of agreement. You will have my son's body and, in exchange, your word that you will no longer pursue and/or harass the members of my clan. You are also to help with the approaching coup in four years time. Hold up your end of the bargain, and the Sharingan will be yours to do with as you please, Orochimaru.

Itachi sincerely hoped that he was the son referred to in that report, because if it was Sasuke... His eyes startlingly widened in atypical fear. What if is was Sasuke!? With that thought, Itachi's face dulled back into a soulless visage. His eyes were carefully guarded, betraying not a single emotion.

Only one who knew the Uchiha prodigy as well as Shisui did could tell he was feeling particularly murderous. Anyone else would only be able guess that he was feeling slight annoyance.

Already feeling the futility of his words, Shisui spoke. "We should report this to Hokage-sama. He would at least have someone in ANBU Black Ops investigate the matter."

Itachi stared at the Shunshin master with cold, dead eyes and said, "I don't have time for that shit. Action must be taken. Now. If I allow them to worm their way out of this..." he trailed off, clenching his fists tightly.

The older Uchiha sighed with a slight frown. "What do you intend to do?"

A calculating pause followed but was quickly shattered. "Do you remember the letter I showed you some months ago?"

How could he forget? The two of them had returned from a lengthy and arduous mission. After a debriefing with the clan elders, they each retired to their own chambers. To this day, Itachi has yet to figure out how it got there, but a scroll lie underneath his sleeping mat.

An invitation to an underground organization, Akatsuki, for those who sought change in the world. But the instructions were to first prove your desire for such a revolution. The wording was a bit more flowery but the message was more or less the same.

Itachi figured murdering all but three of the Uchiha clan would be fairly convincing.

"I will be the Hokage's eyes and ears within the Akatsuki. That, coupled with the evidence we've gathered, will be all I need."

"So...you intend to throw yourself headlong into this, don't you?" the older Uchiha asked knowingly. He shook his head. "I guess there's no other way..."

Itachi tensed, slightly expecting a betrayal. But when Shisui merely unfolded the second paper he had, the tension tripled. What he read was a suicide note, stating that life living within the Uchiha clan was not worth living at all. And it was signed...

Uchiha Shisui.

Itachi stared at the paper a moment longer than was necessary to read it. When he turned his charcoal gaze to Shisui, he received a pained smiled. "We both know...in order to gain the Mangekyo..you must kill..."

"Your closest friend," Itachi finished, his tone devoid of emotion. "I won't do it." he answered without contemplation.

Shisui smiled again. And though he knew death was mere moments away, this one was less pained...almost peaceful. "You know I can't let you go through with this. Not without something as powerful as Mangekyo." He turned away and faced the river, carelessly dropping his note onto the ground. Shunshin no Shisui tapped his own shoulder, indicating the pressure point there. "Just hold for about seven seconds. That's all."

Itachi inhaled a deep, shaky breath. "What you are asking me..."

"I know."

The few minutes of silence that followed seemed to stretch into eternity.

A ghost of a smile formed on Itachi's lips. "I hate you." he murmured in complete and utter deadpan.

Shisui didn't respond. He only chuckled quietly. With a sense of apprehension he'd never known, Itachi took three steps forward and placed his hand onto Shisui's shoulder. As he administered the needed pressure, his words, so quiet they were nearly drowned out by the river, expressed the deepest sense of gratitude he could convey.

"Arigato...for this...Aniki."

Shisui nodded one final time as the blood flow to his brain halted just long enough for him to lose consciousness. As the prone form of his best friend toppled into the river, Itachi watched, unblinking. He refused to turn away even for an instant, honoring the noble sacrifice. His keen vision, now lighting the night with his Sharingan, picked up the bantam trail of bubbles and the fading chakra signature.

When that chakra signature, one he depended upon multiple times, faded completely and he was certain Shisui was dead, Itachi looked up into the night sky. He wasn't sure if the burning sensation came from the tears or the fact that his vision had never been so clear. Either way it was a bittersweet feeling.

With a final glance at his fallen friends corpse, the Uchiha dried his eyes, spun on his heel, and walked back to his home inconspicuously. He was questioned, of course, about Shisui's disappearance. But without sufficient evidence against him, Itachi was not placed under arrest. The case went cold.

And, like the true genius he was, Itachi had mastered the Mangekyo Sharingan in only a few days. He would have struck then but he needed more time. More evidence against his father to present to Sandaime. Once he had that evidence and presented his case, the leader ninja was more than grievous. With a heavy heart, he secretly granted Itachi his mission request to walk the path of less bloodshed.

The bodies of his clansman littered the street of the Uchiha district. His aunt had stuttered, beginning to ask him why before a swift slash to her pharynx silenced her. He watched coldly as life drained out of her, a sense of understanding entering her eyes before she passed.

Only one remained. The most guilty of all. The doors were nearly torn ff the hinges from the strength he opened them with. His parents looked up, startled by his bloody attire. His father demanded to know what he was doing. Itachi merely tossed the original document onto the table, his eyes hollow and blank.

He blurred into motion, engaging his father in battle. He easily outclassed the older, less agile, and downright weaker Sharingan wielder. His father lie bleeding on the ground, dying as he glared at his eldest son. As Itachi prepared for the final blow that would end it, something he hadn't anticipated happened. And it was something that would haunt him for life.

His mother threw herself in front of the bastard with Jonin speed he'd thought was long lost. She was fatally wounded, rapidly bleeding out at a pace that made his face pale. She would die in mere moments. But even in such excruciating pain, Mikoto managed to turn her head toward her son. The look in her eyes would forever haunt him. It wasn't the accusing glare he'd received from the rest of the clan. It was a look of forgiveness.

She forgave him.

Whether or not it was for ending her life, or for slaying the clan, he would never know. Had she read the letter her husband had written to the Hebi-Sannin? Did she know that one of her sons was being offered as a sacrifice for control over the village. He would never know. His mother passed.

Fugaku never got the chance to reprimand his son or place him up for adoption. The ninjato slashed the top of his spinal cord, killing him instantly. His body went limp but never made it to the floor. Itachi grabbed the back of his collar and threw the corpse onto his mother's. She would want to be with him in the end, he thought. No matter his intentions.

But as the adrenaline began to wear off, the ache in his heart only grew worse. His Okaasan should have been spared. She was the only adult ignorant of Fugaku's deal with Orochimaru. For a moment, he considered simply slitting his own throat then and there. To hell with being Sandaime's spy. He deserved death.

But such an action would be dishonorable to both himself and, more importantly, Shisui. His best friend gave his life for Itachi to have this power and he couldn't throw it away. He had to be killed in battle. Preferably while performing his duties to the Sandaime. But who...?

The answer presented itself when the doors were meekly pushed open from the outside. The instant his frantic, frightened, foolish little brother entered the room, Itachi's mind went into overdrive.

Sasuke. He was not suppose to be here. He was not meant to see this. Years later, Itachi would learn that the Chunin meant to keep Sasuke after class as a distraction decided to get plastered instead. But right now, the only thing he could do was focused on the frightened visage of his younger brother.

Sasuke. He was the answer. Two birds with one stone. Itachi needed to be put to death for slaying his mother, even if unintentionally. And here was the only person who could do it. The only Uchiha to survive this massacre and the only one with the potential to surpass himself.

He had decided, in that moment, to make Sasuke hate him. As much as he hated himself. Through a path of darkness and hatred, his Otouto would claim the power he needed to kill him. Sasuke would shun others and live a life of self-imposed solitude. It was cruel. But necessary. This was the world he had been cast into by the father he sought to please so much. This would traumatize and cripple Sasuke, yes. But it would kill him to know his father may have been willing to offer him up as a sacrifice to the twisted Sannin.

"A-aniki," the youngest of the Uchiha siblings stammered, holding himself rather well considering the scene before him. When he looked into Itachi's empty Sharingan eyes, eyes that held no emotion, no guilt or grief, it became painfully clear. "A-a-aniki...w-why would you do this?" Sasuke asked, clearly not wanting to believe the answer his older brother's eyes held.

With a silent breath, Itachi formed an answer so meticulous one would believe he'd pondered it thousands of times prior. "I did it...to test my ability..."

\\\ /

The world returned to Motoko as her weasel cousin dropped the hypnotism, his eyes fading to a black that matched her own. Her face quiet a bit more pale than usual. What she had just witnessed..would take some time adjusting to. The full shock hadn't reared it's ugly head yet, but when it did, she had to be ready to save face.

Blinking, Motoko gave Itachi a slow and deliberate nod. "I see," she confirmed slowly. "Good luck with your mission." Itachi only nodded once in thanks. "Well," she began, then faltering. "I need your freaky eyes to help me find something." she whispered to Tsuki.

The Hyuuga shifted her mask slightly to give Motoko a dull glare that said 'you're one to talk'. But upon realizing that it was likely a cover, she nodded. "Stay here, Naruto." she ordered in a monotone he took seriously. "Keep our friend company."

Naruto nodded silently. He correctly interpreted that as not letting Itachi out of his sights.

"By the way, Itachi," Motoko said with a hidden half-smirk half-scowl, "don't think I didn't notice that your clone was going commando. Habit?" Though his expression didn't change, Itachi had the good graces to blush faintly at the insinuation. "Oh, and make sure you give him his shit back, Naruto." Motoko said as they disappeared from view.

The older boy inclined his head toward Naruto, silently asking what property of his the blonde could have. After a few moments of thought, Naruto shrugged off his backpack; which he had nearly forgotten. He removed a sealing scroll. A big one. Unraveling it and locating the weasel-bastard kanji, he swiped it with blood and forced chakra into it.

All of Itachi's ANBU equipment; the armor, the ninjato complete with sheath, and mask, was revealed. The former wearer merely blinked at the display.

With a casual shrug that was likely out of place in the presence genocidal ninja, Naruto motioned toward the equipment. "Motoko," he said slowly, forcibly dropping the honorific, "said you might want this back."

When the blonde Jinchuuriki moved to pick up the items, Itachi held up a hand to stop him. "No. You keep it." Seeing Naruto's questioning, downright suspicious, actually, glance, "A gift. For your...impressive display of skill." Half of that terrifying smile showed itself and Naruto almost cringed.

"Yeah. Sure. Thanks." he replied. For once, Naruto didn't really seem to mean it. Regardless, he resealed it and said no more. ANBU armor, especially the authentic kind, was incredibly hard to come by. He was sure he could find some use for it...

A few moments later Tsuki returned. She seemed to stare at Itachi for a moment before briskly placing herself between Naruto and the rogue ninja. They didn't call Itachi a genius for nothing. He picked up on the subtle warning easily enough to know that nothing further could be gained by staying here.

Standing from the stone throne, Itachi made his way to the exit, only to pause. "Some parting words of advice." he began without turning. "Sandaime suspected you would be heading to Sunagakure. If that is the case..I was told to advise that you proceed with caution. There is another demon vessel who lives within the Hidden Sand Village. And he as not as..." Itachi trailed off, thinking of the correct word, "...docile, as Naruto-kun. Farewell." Within mere moments Itachi vanished, bounding for Kirigakure at fair speed.

Naruto stood, stock-still. He might have been half glaring at the space Itachi had occupied were he not distracted. While he wasn't ashamed of Kyuubi, per se, he didn't really like it when outsiders; anyone but Ojii-san, or his Nee-chans, would haphazardly sling that information about.

No, Naruto's feet were glued to the floor by his deep contemplations. He had never considered it before, and felt slightly dumb at the moment for not doing so, but...he had to wonder.

Were there others like him? Others...like how he used to be?

Shaking his head, Naruto scowled. While he wasn't physically tired, this day was becoming more emotionally stressful than he would have preferred. He turned to Tsuki, who seemed intent on staring at nothing. Or was she meditating beneath that mask?

"Ne, Tsuki nee-chan, where is Motoko nee-chan?" Naruto asked, looking around fruitlessly.

The blank eyes of the Dove mask stared at the blonde long enough to make him fidget uncomfortably. Then, finally, she said, "There were some family issues that required her immediate attention. We will rendevous in Suna when they are...resolved." she finished carefully.

Fortunately, Naruto was not one to critically eye the explanation his Nee-chan presented him with. Not Tsuki, anyhow. So he accepted her answer at face value as they left the outpost abandoned once more, traveling to Sunagakure.

Naruto left the facility as the only person unaware of the Uchiha massacre that took place the previous day. That in itself reeked of irony because, as the head of he Uzumaki, he should know of major cultural changes happening within the village of his birth.

It was even more ironic that he didn't realize the blade Itachi pawned off on him was used in said massacre. And it was downright stupid that he didn't think to use the ring he'd inherited to contact the Sandaime. Though not very surprising, considering he had long since forgotten he was wearing it.


Long Author's Note. Bear with me.

First off, the bomb. Without preamble, I am dropping FemHaku from the Harem and will be portraying him as a boy. I realize this will be a disappointment but my reasons are valid. Though I still must apologize as an author for going back on my word. Naruto must feel so ashamed that I've besmirched his nindo...

Anyhow, my reasons. I have more or less tried to keep things canon with a heavy spin of my own fiction (this has become increasingly difficult with the erratic plot twists in recent chapters). So I did originally intend for Haku to be portrayed as a boy because, canon-wise, he is one.

Yes, Soul of the Silver Phoenix. I am a bastard liar.

Furthermore, I originally believed that I wouldn't have difficulty imagining Haku as a girl. I was so very wrong. For the life of me I can't imagine Haku as a female. Not that I have extreme character insight or anything, but I never thought of Haku was a girl. And finally...I'm just plain uncomfortable writing FemHaku.

I understand if some of you are a bit pissed and want to tear into me. However, please do not ask me to add Haku back into the Harem...or anyone else for that matter. The Harem is finalized with: Hinata. Temari. Tayuya. Yugito. This time I mean it!

Phew...still alive. Okay then, onto the events of this chapter. For those of you who have not read the original version of the story ( I deleted it so don't go looking for it) you would know that Orochimaru placed a cursed seal on Shisui and Itachi was forced to kill him before he became a mindless slave. Orochimaru then ripped of Itachi's face, impersonated him, killed the clan, traumatized Sasuke with Genjutsu, and had Kabuto reattach Itachi's face.

I may have still stuck with that theory had it not been for the fact that Orochimaru attempted to take Itachi's body before he went after Sasuke. So Orochimaru would have used that opportunity to steal the weasel's body. I guess I could have said something about the snake needing to observe how Itachi used the Sharingan but that felt..weak. Especially since they weren't partners so Oro had no chance to see how Itachi worked.

Mack-Sama

Next Chapter: Sunagakure

Naruto is on the prowl for the Suna Jinchuuriki. Not knowing the action is mutual. And he finally begins to harness Fuuton chakra, his greatest element.