Naruto: Wind Monk Banishment 12 – Main
Chapter 12: Conflict within Konoha
In Danzo’s Base
Shimura Danzo had trained those in his service well. They were loyal to him, and his vision of what Konoha should be, rather than what it currently was. However, a shinobi did not live to be his age without picking up a keen survival sense.
When one of his men barged in, appearing in a submissive bow and his head down, Danzo acknowledged him to speak. He wouldn’t have dared interrupted unless it was of the utmost importance. But the moment his head was raised, a sense of danger called out to him as the man’s movements were not in line with what he had taught them. So when he reached for a scroll, Danzo had already cleared some distance with the Body Flicker technique.
It was all that saved him as ebony hellfire rippled free of the scroll.
Like the wildfire it mimicked, the flames spread quickly after incinerating the agent who had carried it. A number of good men and women were devoured by the ravenous flames as they moved with purpose, circling until they lined the walls. The room was now a ring of flames, more than eager to devour any and all that came close.
Danzo did not doubt the hold he had of those under his command. It had to have been a powerful genjutsu to turn one into a suicide bomber against him. So that, combined with the flames that lined the walls of the room to prevent escape through normal means, pointed to one person: Itachi Uchiha.
Said person appeared like there was a devil at his back, clones joining him, with the flames parting at the entrance for a moment like a curtain. Why wouldn’t they? It was a stage he had set.
Of course, Danzo’s own men would go on the offensive once they registered the threat. That’s what they were trained to do. Two of them would reach him before the rest, so they were the ones who died first as the clones split in multiple directions.
Early Sacrifice was always one of Itachi’s most used techniques, even when he was ANBU, and more so when the environment itself provided a means of dealing with his enemy. To that end, he leapt over the first assailant as he swung a blade, grabbing his shoulder as he did so. Upon landing, he threw the man—not into the ground, but into the wall as a sacrifice to the hungry flames.
Even before his death throes could start, the flames flaring as they feasted on the shinobi, Itachi’s stolen blade moved towards the second and intercepted a kunai with a parry. It then came around and was thrust straight into the mask of what appeared to be a woman judging by the hair. His vision wasn’t stellar enough to make out the features on the body, but he felt that the hair and the feminine, yet pained cry was enough to identify them.
He was briefly aware that his clones themselves managed to clear the ranks of a few. Unprofessionally as it was, he found himself thinking it was a shame. These men and women weren’t absurdly different from Itachi in the grand scheme of things.
All of them wanted what was good for the village. They were all willing to stain their hands with the blood of the innocent and guilty alike to attain it. Bodies upon bodies left in their wake, nourishing to roots of the Hidden Leaf with the spilled blood, what else could they be but tools of destruction to unleash upon those that threatened the peace of the village—even their own families.
Indeed, the only real differences they had was the fact that Itachi could see the results of what Danzo’s actions had wrought upon the world. Orochimaru, Kabuto, Pain, and Konan, all of them were the result of his manipulations. Even Itachi, to an extent, was who he became because of him, and all of them knew the horrors of the war that would be the result if he was allowed to remain so firmly entrenched in the Leaf.
These men and women who served him were too conditioned to be allowed to live. It was as simple as that. They carried his ideals and would follow in his stead with some sort of contingency plan, so they had to go no matter what. While Itachi did not delude himself into thinking he could rid the village of them all, he knew that he could cut off the head and reduce the numbers overall. That would cripple them and provide an opening for someone with cleaner hands than him to make sure it was done.
Another thing that separated them, now that he thought about it, was the fact that Itachi still had one emotion that he held just as secure as his loyalty to the village—his love for brother. His mother and father told him to look after Sasuke as he ended their lives for the good of the village, his blade cleaving through their necks as they faced death with dignity. Sasuke hadn’t taken the path he had planned towards gaining the strength to survive what being a shinobi entailed, but he gained something else in its place and that would suffice once the night was over.
Pushing the brief musing out of his mind, Itachi removed the blade from the skull that it had been sheathed in. The woman wearing the mask collapsed onto the floor. Her long hair covered her head and face as blood started to pool under her corpse. He witnessed the colors and cohesion of chakra surrounding him and moved, substituting a third assailant in his place before he could adequately resist the pull of the technique. The man ended up being shredded as the space he was once was the focal point for a dozen invisible wind blades.
Crimson eyes fixed on Danzo. Those same eyes bled an instant later, pushing chakra through them like lens. Hellfire emerged—not where Danzo had been, but where he had been going.
It was still too slow in the end. Danzo managed to avoid it barely, but a tongue of black flames lapped at his shirt and what was beneath it. Now his arm locked in the protective casing was burning, the flames threatening to spread and consume him whole if he didn’t sacrifice it.
Danzo wondered if that Itachi’s intention, despite the fact that he had kept the arm itself a secret. However, it didn’t matter in the end. If he didn’t want to be swallowed by the flames entirely, he had to cast it aside. He stuck the arm out. “Fuu!”
The Yamanaka acted with haste and drew with sickles, cleaving his master’s arm away at the shoulder to avoid the flames taking his life entirely. At the same time, an Aburame approached from the side and tried to lay his un-gloved hands on Itachi. What he hit was a Shadow Clone that dissipated into crows, which began to multiply and divide, the Scattering Thousand Crows technique at work.
With each one carrying the deadly rinkaichuu, they slammed into as many of Danzo’s men as they could. Spreading the venom, they thinned the battlefield as others fell in unholy agony while their skin turned cracked and purple. As for the Aburame, the surviving clone grabbed him before he could escape and his eyes locked with Itachi’s for a mere moment.
There was then a blur approaching Itachi from the corner of his eyes, speeding towards him with its weapon raised. Torune, under a genjutsu, intercepted it and struck what amounted to a trapped puppet, shunting his consciousness into the effigy. At the same time, Fuu ended up trapped within the Aburame’s body as the stolen blade came around towards his neck. Itachi cut off his head, simultaneously throwing a fire chakra-laced shuriken at the effigy to get rid of them both.
Then there was only one left.
Danzo, covered in sweat and clutching his bloody stump, glared at Itachi unfailingly. He had always considered him one of the most dangerous shinobi in the world. Now it had been proven, his primary forces defeated. Words were wasted, so neither spoke as the elderly shinobi tried valiantly to stave off the inevitable.
Fighting through the pain of losing his arm, he gathered the wind-converted chakra in his lungs and spat it out in deadly, thin streams. They cut through the scattering of crows like blades, cleaving them away with ease as they approached him. His efforts were valiant for a man befitting his age, his belief driving him where a normal man’s body would submit.
It was also ultimately futile, his fate sealed as a pair of hands came in from beneath the surface of the hard ground that rippled like water. The earth chakra soaking it allowed the clone to move under it with ease, and so when they pulled down and the chakra was pulled along with it, his feet were anchored to the ground so that he couldn’t escape.
Missing an arm, his legs useless, chakra being sapped from stopping the loss of blood—there was no victory to be had. But, at the very least, he could take his enemy with him into death. With his remaining hand, Danzo pulled out a kunai and slipped it deftly between his ribs and into his heart, ending his life.
The fresh corpse then gave birth to a black void as the cessation of his beating heart triggered the death seal that he had laid upon himself. The darkness drew in whatever wasn’t anchored to the ground—corpses, the black flames, rubble—everything but Itachi himself, who clung to the ground with chakra on his feet. The sphere devoid of light expanded, eating away at the surroundings entirely, until soon everything was swallowed into the yawning maw that even consumed itself in the end.
Without anything left alive, silence loomed in the room. From the remnants of the floor that had been smoothed into a curve, the stone slowly rippled. Itachi slowly surfaced, panting as he did so with sweat covering his brow. Once he was pulled out of the ground completely, he collapsed onto his knees and a deathly cough forced itself from his throat. Crimson painted the floor, blood seeping through his fingers in cascading drops that carried a little bit of his life in every one.
A little longer, he thought. Trembling hands reached for a Soldier’s Pill nestled within the pocket of his pants. Another coughing fit made it slip from his grasp, the pill rolling down the gentle slope of the floor. Itachi traced the sound of it rolling, unable to see the small pill through the cloudy veils shrouding his eyes, and ran his hands across the surface until he grasped it. He thrust it into his mouth and chewed.
He forced himself up to his feet as he felt the lean fat, or what little his sickly body could hold onto, burned itself up for the sake of chakra. Even so, he swayed to the silent rhythm of his heart that struggled to hold out. Just a little longer….
He staggered forward, step-by-step. There was no stopping this close to his goal. He only needed to last just a little longer. So, regardless of the pain, he forced himself to keep going….
It was quiet on the streets of Konoha, most of the laborers and civilians turning in for the night to prepare for the next day. The silence and soft lights had a pleasant ambiance about them, more so when you were sailing through the air. The moment of weightlessness during the lull mid-jump, only to be suddenly fall back to earth and have your stomach drop in thrill, was relaxing once you were used to it.
Sasuke took more care than usual as he bound over the rooftops, rising and falling into the kaleidoscope of colors and the night air. He focused on height rather that distance, centering the jumps so that they were well-balanced and not as disorienting as they could be. Not that his date would notice, given the experience itself was something that few civilians had the luxury of relishing.
Still, Ayame seemed to enjoy it as she laughed with each movement, being carried bridal-style over the rooftops by her beau. Their date had gone swimmingly, to the extent that her face was flushed beneath the cowl that was fixed over her head. At the same time, Sasuke found himself enjoying this moment, taking pleasure in something that had become basic for him the moment he learned how to mold chakra. It wasn’t flight, but it was close enough.
When they reached the alley next to her home, Sasuke skirted along the wall to slow the fall and landed softly. He gently let her down between the shadows of the two buildings. There was little chance of someone spotting them if he had set her down on her front porch, but better safe than sorry should somehow it got wind to fangirls.
“Well, that was exciting!” Ayame clasped her hands together as she took a deep breath, attempting to calm her pounding heart. “I knew you wouldn’t drop me, but my heart’s still racing!”
“You get used to it,” Sasuke said, before thinking about it for a moment and then going back on it. “Well, for someone in my line of work, anyway.”
“Ah-hem,” came from above them. They looked up to see Teuchi looking down on them from a window, holding up a clock. “You’re late.”
“It was only five minutes, Dad,” Ayame said. “Honestly, I’m a grown woman. I shouldn’t have a curfew…”
Teuchi grumbled beneath his breath about ‘shinobi’ and ‘daughters’ before retreating into the window, closing it behind him. Ayame turned to Sasuke and planted a gentle kiss on his lips, her softness spreading honeyed warmth throughout his body. When she pulled back, he was tempted to grab her and hold her in place, taking more of her for himself. But, alas, he was a gentleman…
At least outside of the genjutsu, anyway. Ayame had some surprisingly kinky fetishes. Most of them involved bondage. Yes, Jiraiya was probably to blame—Sasuke had seen her with the orange-books more than once, even if he never said anything.
“Until the next time,” he said, watching her as she exited the alley. Her door was to the right of it. “I’ll put in some more practice so that I can get better at manipulating the displacement of time.”
She turned back to him and smiled, her brown-eyes dancing at the thought. “See you then, Sasuke.”
Once the door was closed and he picked up the sound of the lock clicking, Sasuke yawned. He wasn’t so much physically tired, but genjutsu wasn’t his specialty. Sharingan or not, it was taxing on his mind compared to raining fire and stabbing with lightning. Still, totally worth it.
Taking the street back to his district, Sasuke stared up into the vast night sky that seemed to twinkle with stars in thought of the next time. That abruptly ended the moment he heard Kiba’s intoxicated slurs of elation and looked to see that the Inuzuka was slouched on his hound, twirling his arm above his head in victory. More than once he nearly fell, causing Akamaru to readjust to keep him up. The dog only shook his head in embarrassment.
“Well, sounds like someone had a good night,” Sasuke said as they crossed paths.
Kiba threw his arm around his neck and pulled him in close. “L-listen to this, man! I gotta tell ya something!”
“Ugh!” Sasuke cringed at the alcohol lacing his breath, stinging his eyes and nostrils. “Kiba, you have got to learn the meaning of the word moderation. How many bottles did you empty out?”
Kiba’s response to that was to tighten his grip around Sasuke’s neck. “Listen man, Hinata kissed me tonight! On the lips!”
Sasuke scoffed. “So you managed to get past the gates of the Hyuuga Clan compound, reach her room, and then lock lips with her while smelling like a distillery?”
Kiba poked him in the chest, a scowl on his face. “I’m serious. I passed her on the street a few minutes ago.”
Sasuke’s expression tightened at that. Hinata was out and about? Sure, there was a chance that he was only rambling drunk, but to be safe he turned to the ninja hound. “Akamaru, is he telling the truth?”
The ninja hound gave an affirmative bark and nod.
Sasuke swore as he broke the hold Kiba had on him, ignoring his groan as he landed on the ground, and then sprinted down the street as fast as he could. Chakra laced his legs, arms, and lungs, vitalizing them to preternatural limits as he leapt onto a lamp post and then a building to get airborne. He had to get back to the Senju Complex as soon as possible.
While he didn’t know how she had gotten out of her home, he knew that she was unstable and smart enough to figure out where Naruto was. There was little doubt that was her objective, since it was much the same when he was obsessed with killing Itachi. After everything that had happened, after losing her position as a kunoichi and turned against her comrades, that was the only reasons she could have for stepping out of her clan’s compound at this time of night.
He reached the edge of the territory of the Senju Complex. It was a wooded area somewhat separated from the surrounding buildings and built on a long slope of land. Legend has it that the trees in it were personally grown by Hashirama Senju himself.
Sasuke frowned as he entered the woodlands without complications. There should have been ANBU stationed around key-points, to prevent anyone from entering that wasn’t supposed to. Yet, Sasuke found none to bar his path as he advanced towards the large building despite the fact that even he shouldn’t be able to outside his scheduled time.
That was another red flag, and his worry only compounded. Worse, he realized that he had spent chakra that could have been useful with Ayame and neglected to carry a weapon. Sure, he could have snuck one on him while he was with Ayame, but he hadn’t wanted too, nor thought he would actually need it.
The cynic in him couldn’t help but wonder why she couldn’t do this some other night as he leapt from branch to branch, skipping the stone-stairs that made up the regular path…
Hinata got into the building without any problems, stalking along the hallway with ease as she made her way to the room where the Kyuubi slept. Her eyes hadn’t picked up anyone within it, and the ANBU that she had seen guarding it in the distance were nowhere to be found. As suspicious as that was, she couldn’t turn back anymore so it didn’t matter. Besides, she didn’t plan on surviving past the night anyway.
Opening the door at the end of the hallway, she came across the sight of the Kyuubi draped in sheets on a bed. Its chest rose and fell at a steady rate, unconscious and ignorant of the world around it. Being cared for like this, she found it to be mocking not only her, but the others who lived in the village.
After all the destruction it had wrought all those years ago, it got to lay down in comfort while under the protection of the village it had victimized. After toying with her heart and mind, it got to enjoy peaceful slumber without its dreams haunting it like hers did. She couldn’t even recall a time when the dreams hadn’t tormented her—the mockery of the Kyuubi, the harsh words of the Council, both constantly playing over in her mind with no end.
Well, no more. She had already slain her personal demons, now it was time to slay the one laying before her.
Standing over it, Hinata’s upraised palm was wreathed in the soft glow of pale blue chakra. The blood vessels on the side of her eyes bulged as chakra flowed into them to make out the chakra network entwined around its heart. The hand dropped down—
Glass broke to the rear of her. Then her wrist was caught by a solid bulwark in the form of a forearm. Wood splintered and shattered, crashing from above to the grass outside, beneath the tree that Sasuke had pulled a substitution from using his chakra to swap places with the nearby dresser. His other hand was cloaked in lightning, the glare of its angry light bolstering the crimson of his Sharingan.
Hinata leapt back to the room entrance before the strike could run her through, but she noted that it was half-hearted and he didn’t follow her. Her suspicions that it was a warning were confirmed when Sasuke stood over the sleeping Kyuubi like sentry, panting. His chakra reserves weren’t high, and there were no weapons on him.
He clearly hadn’t expected her appearance from what she could tell, so the question remained how he knew she would be here when she hadn’t seen him earlier… Then she decided it didn’t matter and thrust her hand out for a long-ranged attack, sending raw chakra across the distance as a lion’s head with its fangs bared.
He didn’t dodge it. If he did the Kyuubi would have take the full brunt of the attack and died. But so strong was the deceptive hold that the Kyuubi had on the Uchiha that he willingly took the attack and endured it, bringing his chakra to the front in an effort to ward away hers. It was only successful enough to stop it from being fatal to him, but the blood leaking from the corner of his mouth and the irregularity of his heartbeat made it clear he wouldn’t survive another one.
“I pity you,” she told him, her heart feeling somewhat heavy as she watched him struggle with heaving breaths. The chakra coils that connected to his lungs were damaged. It would take time to heal, even with a medic-nin, but he could still remain on active-duty afterwards. “The hold the Kyuubi has on you is so strong that you can’t even see what’s right in front of you.”
“That should—” A cough added a splatter of blood to the wooden floor, staining it red in the moonlight spilling into the room. “That should be my line. You’re making a mistake that you can’t come back from, Hinata.”
“You speak as though there was anywhere to go back to.”Hinata stared at him unflinchingly, chakra radiating from her palm in preparation for another strike. “I don’t wish to hurt you, but I’ve come too far to let anyone stop me. I have no home, and no family—I’ve given it all up to ensure the Kyuubi dies.”
It was at that moment that Sasuke realized that she had reached the point where he had, only there was no saving her. Even if he restrained her, which wasn’t feasible at this point and thinking otherwise was just foolish, Tsunade would have her killed for this. She had been very clear on that.
Sasuke couldn’t help but think that when he had left the village Naruto came to the same conclusion. He’d attacked with intent to kill, betrayed his village, and was willing to give it all away for the sake of killing his brother. Yet, somehow, Naruto managed to save him when he should have been locked away or killed.
Could Sasuke do the same for her that the old Naruto would have? It would depend on how things went from here. “H—” A heaving cough left his mouth. “H-how did you get past the ANBU?”
“There were no ANBU when I arrived,” she said, sincerely at that. “They all disappeared by the time I got close enough, though I’m not sure where.”
Sasuke coughed again, more violently at that. Sending chakra to his lungs hurt the most, but his chest was killing him softly with just words. “ANBU don’t just vanish like that. It smells like a trap. Someone’s playing you, Hinata. They wanted you to get here for some reason.”
“That would be my doing,” said a voice from above. They looked up to see a man standing on the ceiling, upside down, donning the cloak of Akatsuki and a spiral mask that centered on a single eye… a Sharingan eye. “I was going to pin this on Danzo, but think of the chaos and unrest that would befall the village if it seemed like the renegade Hyuuga managed to kill the Jinchuuriki, as well as the last Uchiha, before taking her own life.”
“Who the hell are you?” Sasuke said, staring into the Sharingan with his own spinning in place. It hurt, but rage managed to make the pain tolerable. Somehow, he doubted this man had been gifted his eye like Kakashi. “And why do you have that eye!?”
“Who am I?” Space twisted, swallowing the masked figure whole. His presence, his chakra, everything about him utterly vanished. Then space untwisted next to Sasuke, putting the masked man face-to-face with him. “That’s not really something a dead man needs to know, is it?”
Lighting crackled to life, sweeping in an arch to take off the masked man’s head. It sailed through the man’s head with no resistance, leaving him twisting as his eyes registered the movement of the other hand. Sasuke’s leg snapped up, coming around as he threw his entire body into the twist and caught the arm holding a wooden stake at the crook of the elbow.
The resistance in it vanished, leaving the ghostly arm coming up for his head. Theoretically speaking, if he couldn’t touch the man the opposite should have been true. Logically speaking, Sasuke dodged as the stake was driven into the bedpost.
And then wooden floor beneath him began to ripple as he set foot on the ground, wooden pikes emerging from below in an attempt to skewer him. It was move or die again, forcing him to leap up, only for the masked man to lash out with his foot and catch the ribs with a crack while it sent him skirting the floor. He barely managed to roll out of the way as more wooden pikes shot up, tearing into his shirt and scraping the flesh to draw blood from his side as he crouched back against the wall and clutched where the kick had been.
Cracked, but not broken. Still, it hurt like a bitch. It would slow him down, and they both knew it.
At the same time, the masked man thrust his other hand out towards the Hyuuga. She had been circling around, attempting to get at Naruto while their backs were turned. The ebony spear made of wood flew out to pierce Hinata’s abdomen. She moved to dodge it, but the wood fractured and then split into several spears, one of which succeeded in nailing her to the wall with a short, pained scream.
With one incapacitated, blood seeping from the wound as she tried to futilely wrench it free, only for pain to make her cry out again, and the other struggling to his feet while coping with internal damage, the masked man decided to grab what he came for before something unexpected happened. Sure, he made a gambit of it when the Hyuuga came and cleared a path for her, but the Uchiha was unexpected, even if he decided to spin it to murder-suicide. There was no telling if Sasuke alerted someone else on the way up, so he reached for the sleeping prize all three were fighting over.
Sasuke forced himself up, the light of the Chidori glaring off his face and his scrunched and feral expression as tore through the wooden pikes that hindered him. Charred splinters scattered, and he lunged forward, but he could tell he wouldn’t make it in time before Naruto was sucked into that eye vortex. He could see the chakra already starting to twist in place, reaching out like hungry tendrils as it expanded the space it would reach.
At the same time, a burnt-orange chakra slowly began to bleed from Naruto’s tenketsu. His muscles slightly twitched in the process. He was waking up it seemed, but Sasuke doubted he would be in a position to do anything if he was sucked into that mask.
In the end, it didn’t matter. The vortex was banished as the hellfire drew a line between him and Naruto, catching the sleeve of the cloak on fire as the masked man took a step back. He tore away the sleeve and tossed it aside. Rage seethed in the masked man’s throat, heard by all as three Sharingan eyes were drawn above, to the window where pale moonlight was cast around a daunting figure draped in the cloak of black and red clouds.
“Itachi,” Sasuke choked out. “Why are you here?”
The man in question didn’t speak. Instead, he Body Flickered next to Naruto, which gave Sasuke pause and stilled his breath. It wasn’t that far of a stretch, they were part of the same organization judging by the cloak. He was siding against him, despite claiming that he was still Itachi of the Leaf when they last met.
Sasuke’s heart dropped… and then steeled. He wouldn’t win against them both. But, at the very least, if Naruto was waking up he could maybe get him away long enough for him to flee.
Itachi moved. In a single and fluid motion, he grabbed and unceremoniously flung the sleeping Jinchuuriki towards his younger brother. The abruptness of it nearly caught Sasuke off-guard, but he dispersed the lightning to grab Naruto with both hands, skidding back in the process. He winced as his body throbbing in pain, but that didn’t matter.
Not now that the masked man was in front of him in the span of a heartbeat later, reaching for them both. Only the fact that his brother took his place with a Substitution saved them, the cold steel of a sword caked in dried blood at the masked man’s throat. It would have taken his head if a thick bark hadn’t enveloped his neck, stopping the blade.
“What is the meaning of this, Itachi?” the masked man growled, eye narrowed. “Are you betraying Akatsuki?”
“Run.” Itachi ordered. Not to the masked man, but to his brother. Then his stolen sword danced its lethal danced in an effort to buy time, fire-chakra lacing it to make sure that bark didn’t hinder him a second time. Sasuke took the chance to leap out of the window he broke earlier with Naruto in hand, leaving the confines of the building as the hellfire spread slowly to soon turn it into oven.
“Zetsu,” the masked man said, adding nothing further as wood twisted from a palm with a sharpened tip. The shadows answered him, wood rippling as the assimilated being traversed through the boards of the house and into the woodland to chase its prey. With a weapon in hand, the masked man moved to kill the traitor with no other words between them.
In the midst of their clash, neither paid mind to the fact that the Hyuuga was no longer where she had been left, or that the back of the wall she had been pinned to had been blown apart. Blood marked the trail that lead into the woodlands….
Naruto: Wind Monk Banishment 11 (Main)
Chapter 11: Three Uchihas in the Leaves
Author’s Note: Looking back I noticed how when I started writing this series I had far more comedic moments I drew from other fanfics as sources of inspiration. Thus it can only be assumed that the recent influx of dark fics has drastically darkened my view and thus my plot. A lot changes in two years…that being said, let’s do this.
Also: I also want to add that Madara in the manga being responsible for Rin being a Jinchuuriki and her death ultimately are really contrived in an attempt to redeem Obito.
A few years ago
Sasuke Uchiha felt a set of eyes upon his back as he walked through the streets of Konoha. It was roughly two months after he had been returned, forcefully, to the village he abandoned at the promise of power; tainted power, which had been sealed away by a man much more proficient than Kakashi when it came to that art.
He had been allowed two hours time to walk around before he ended back up in holding for his attempted defection to ‘get some sun’ according to one of them, but there was probably a hidden purpose within it. Thankfully it had not been made public beyond those knowledgeable about the mission, but it was clear that the ANBU shinobi trailing him was making themselves known as a warning. If he did or said anything that went against what amounted to his house arrest, he would be back in a cell so fast that the world would spin.
He continued to walk, allowing the hood of the cloak he had been given by the Sannin to hide his face. It was pale after they had their way with him, reinforcing the seal on the Cursed Mark and making him read those reports over and over before sealing away his chakra as well. He was just a well-trained civilian at best, powerless in the grand scope of things. Nowhere near strong enough to kill his brother…
… No, he didn’t even want that anymore. He didn’t know what he wanted. His clan was planning to do something akin to what his brother and whoever aided him had done as well. They were just strangers and their lives didn’t hold as much meaning as his clan’s in his eyes, but any notion of moral myopia was now fallible. What purpose did he have now?
These two hours were a punishment he was sure. Where could he go in the two hours he was allowed? The Training Grounds and any shinobi-related places were off-limits. His clan compound as well. Those places were all he knew in his quest for power and now they were taken away, so what was left? All he could do was walk around while making himself as indiscernible as the next civilian going to and fro on the street.
Eventually he grew bored of walking and, shamefully, allowed his guard to drop from the ennui. As a result he was shamefully caught unaware as a slender hand and feminine voice came from beside him. He brushed the hand aside and leapt back, reaching for where he normally kept his weapons on instinct despite their absence.
He then caught the surprised look on the face of a slender young woman, long brown hair falling down her back that was only tamed by a white bandanna atop it. The white robe and dark blue apron indicated she was a waitress. Her caramel eyes took on a soft and apologetic appearance as she spoke. “Sorry if I frightened you.”
“You didn’t,” he said curtly. His pride wouldn’t allow him to admit she did. He wasn’t that humbled. “What do you want?”
“You’re Sasuke, if I recall?” she asked. “You’re Naruto’s teammate, aren’t you?”
“I… was….” He shifted a little. “How do you know who I am? Who are you?”
“My name is Ayame.” The older girl’s smile was rather gentle despite his tone being harsh. “He’s said a lot about you and your face matched the picture he showed me when he got assigned as part of a team. I thought maybe you could tell me if he’s okay? Dad and I have been worried and everyone is openly talking about the Kyuubi and how it’s inside of him and—”
“You didn’t know?” he interjected.
“I was surprised, I admit,” she confessed. “But he was like a sweet little brother to me. I just want to know if he’s okay after everything, but I can’t find him. Not his place or anywhere. Dad and I are worried…”
Like a little brother… Her words resonated in his mind and overlapped with Itachi’s. Did she care for Naruto like Itachi did for him in the past? The thought kept popping up in his mind as she looked at him with hopeful anticipation for an answer.
The ANBU was still there, their presence still within the range of his heightened senses that weren’t dulled by boredom or stray thoughts anymore, waiting to see how he responded. With a careful and level voice he said, “He’s on a training trip… I suppose.”
He looked in the direction towards where he sensed the ANBU. Whoever it was hadn’t made a move. They knew it was a lie if they were watching him, so it was tolerable.
“Why would he leave without telling us anything?” she wondered aloud. “He’s normally so loud about when he had a mission to leave the village and comes to say goodbye.”
There was a brief flash in Sasuke’s mind as he recalled their last encounter, the clashing of lighting and the spiraling sphere. The next level of the Sharingan and the teachings of the Snake Sannin were to be traded in exchange for his best friend’s life. The lightning penetrated his chest as the spiraling sphere petered out, never intent on delivering the fatal blow, only for the blond to strike him with a blow to the head using a clone hidden behind him during the clash.
He shook himself out of it and said, “Because of a mistake I made he felt like he wasn’t strong enough and left with the Hokage’s permission. I don’t know when he’ll be back.”
She regarded his expression for a moment, her lips pursed and her gaze inquisitive. Then her expression returned to its soft nature and she grabbed his hand. “Come sit, please. I’ll treat you to a meal as a thank you.”
He tried to refuse, but she was insistent and he was starving. The food they gave him in what amounted to his cell was horrid enough that he’d eat just about anything else. He wasn’t even picky at the moment as she made him a bowl of ramen and then presented it.
However, what she whispered in his ear as she set down the bowl, the sound of the broth boiling and vegetables sizzling overlapping it in the background, once more caught him by surprise. “You were lying.”
“I don’t know what—” Sasuke was cut off when she pressed a finger to his lips.
“I’ve known Naruto for a long time,” she started with, resting her elbow on the counter top as she leaned over and met his gaze. “I know what someone who’s hurt and trying to mask that pain looks like, not to mention you looked over your shoulder like you were being watched. You probably can’t tell me the complete truth because it’s a ninja-thing, but I could see how pained it was for you to say those words to me.”
“Why aren’t you angry then?” Sasuke asked under his breath instead of denying it. “It’s all my fault.”
“Mistakes can be amended. What matters is if you really feel bad about. I can see you do,” she finished as she removed her finger. On her way back to the kitchen she turned and gave him a wink as she said, “Enjoy the meal.”
Clever girl, he thought. Given how he had a reputation for attracting fangirls and Naruto had spoken about him, it would look like she was flirting while the sounds coming from the kitchen would’ve muted the conversation unless the ANBU had put in more effort, in which case they would’ve hidden their presence better from the start.
She knew the truth about Naruto, the source of the hatred that was directed to him, and still considered him family. Sasuke couldn’t help but wonder if things had turned out differently for him if that was the type of person he had supporting him like Naruto did? How would she react if she knew how he tried to kill the person she saw as a little brother just for the sake of power? Would she hate or forgive him?
He just didn’t know. The thought of that gentle face of hers contorted into something ugly by hatred sobered him as he finished the meal in silence. It honestly made him sick to even entertain the notion what hatred could possibly twist someone who appeared as nice as she was into making such an expression. Was that the type of feeling that Itachi tried to foster in him by making him remember the massacre and the moment he killed his parents?
What did Itachi want me to become? Sasuke wondered, brooded even. Then he decided he didn’t feel like walking around anymore with the hour he had left. Standing in the alley and out of sight he said to the nameless watcher, “Take me back. I’ve had enough sun.”
Silence followed. Then the ANBU appeared in a swirl of leaves. He grabbed his shoulder and then Body Flickered with him towards the holding facility, the sensation nostalgic to Sasuke after only two months without being able to feel chakra flowing through him. Soon he was back where he had been left to rot only to find there was a familiar face covered by a mask at the bottom waiting while reading an orange book.
“Kakashi,” Sasuke said as he sat on his bed.
“Yo,” his former Jounin responded back as he put away the book. There was none of the usual joviality in his tone as he did so. Instead there was underlying fury and something akin to failure. “I didn’t expect you to be here for another hour. Just as well, I finished that chapter anyway.”
“I’m surprised it wasn’t you who was watching me,” Sasuke said plainly.
Kakashi shook his head. “My teaching methods and apparent negligence have been called into question. On principle having me watch you would be against protocol due to potential attachments. I’m only allowed to be here because I’m to inform you two things on the Hokage’s orders.”
Sasuke listened. There wasn’t much else he could do. There were no books in the plain room, only a bed and walls.
“The first was that I went tracking for Naruto following Jiraiya-sama’s leads,” Kakashi stated. For a moment Sasuke felt uncharacteristically hopeful that he had found him. But his gut said otherwise and he clamped down on those feelings. “He’s gone.”
“What do you mean gone?” Sasuke asked. “How hard is it to find an idiot dressed in orange without the ability to use jutsu?”
Kakashi reprimanded him with a glare that nearly stilled the Genin’s heart. Silence followed until he deemed to speak. “He went towards the Land of Wind. Desert lands all around, not known for its hospitality at all, not the first place we would look or hope to. We confirmed he crossed the border and a message was sent to Suna asking if he was there. He wasn’t.”
“They’re lying,” Sasuke stated.
“So soon after the invasion they’re not really in a position to do so,” he said. Left unsaid was that the spies Jiraiya had within the village confirmed it as well. “Not to mention that we never went over desert-survival or where their village was located at. Even with a map and the limited supplies he had bought, the sandstorms would play a large factor too and they were active this time of year…”
In other words there was a chance he was one more lost to the desert. “So he’s…”
“Presumed deceased until proven otherwise on paper, anyway,” Kakashi stated bluntly. The next few words he spoke with his voice emotionless, a feat that took great effort on the part of the Jounin. “His name won’t even go on the Memorial Stone.”
Sasuke failed on that end, a hitch to be heard as he ground out, “What do you mean?”
“The first reason was because he wasn’t technically a shinobi anymore,” Kakashi stated. “The second is that doing so would be the same thing as confirming he was dead, something that the Hokage and few others aren’t willing to do. If the Kyuubi shows up in nine or so years then we’ll know, but until then all anyone has is hope…”
More silence followed as he digested the information. The idiot who went through so much abuse to become a Hokage so people would respect him was denied even the right to be remembered as a ninja. The person who he considered killing for the sake of gaining more power, to awaken the next level of his eyes like Itachi told him and to go to Orochimaru, as well as the person who didn’t give up on him because he claimed to be his friend, would only be known as the demon fox who mocked the corps with his actions while only a few would know the truth.
It rankled him. “Why are you telling me this, Kakashi?”
“I thought you should know the complete scope of what your lust for power had wrought.” Kakashi turned his back on him. “Most of the shinobi who are aware of your defection-attempt have less than pleasant feelings towards you, most notably the parents of those whose children were injured bringing you back. The only goodwill towards you that exists is the ignorant, those who believe the Cursed Mark influenced your thoughts, and…well, you can guess that…”
The words brought to mind Ayame. The last goodwill he had was from those who Naruto was close with. Someone who considered him a brother… who Sasuke had taken away from her…
“Back to the second thing,” Kakashi said after giving him a moment to think over his words. “In three months time there will be an evaluation of your mental state and a council of shinobi will judge whether or not you should be reinstated at all. We only need to keep you in the village and keeping your chakra permanently sealed while under watch or imprisoned to ensure your bloodline safety is a viable means of doing so. There’s a very good chance you won’t even be allowed to be a part of the Reserves since you don’t have decent clearance and you did commit treason.
“I would suggest taking up a hobby that you can eventually profit off as a civilian, if they let you out that is. You don’t need the money, per se, but it would do well to help you pass the time…” Without even so much as a goodbye he left after that. It was clear that Kakashi, the man who claimed those who abandoned their comrades were worse than trash, saw him as just that much.
Just like that he was in his cell all alone again with his thoughts. He focused on the aftertaste of the ramen that still lingered in his mouth to hold back what felt like guilt.
Present – With Sasuke
The sound of humming was clear as day to his trained ears. Even over the sizzling of meat over the flames of his stove. Sasuke spared a glance over his shoulder to turn to the source.
Ayame sat at the table in a dress and blouse, her long hair drifting down past her shoulders. There was a small smile on her face that grew a little wider as their eyes met past the candle that burned on the table.
It was date night for the all intents and purposes since they hadn’t spent as much time together between him training to retrieve Naruto and guarding him, while she worked at her father’s stand. Sasuke, wanting to keep his private life out of the public view, only allowed for a few to know about them. To that end he escorted her into the Uchiha District under a jutsu to hide her appearance, just to be safe.
“It’s almost ready,” he told her, returning his gaze to the food. The vegetables were done already, as was the rice. All that was left was the meat. “Just another minute and it’ll be done.”
“Take your time,” she insisted, her brown eyes flickering in the glow of the candle. “It’s attractive watching a man cook.”
He allowed himself to give a short chuckle at that. “Well, I needed a fall back and working with fire and heat comes naturally to an Uchiha. If I had to do something else it seemed like a good idea at the time.”
“Oh?” She honestly sounded amused by that. “So you didn’t do it just to impress Dad and me? After all, you came to our Ramen Shop over and over to eat and ask for advice. I thought it was cute, like a stray puppy coming over and over and slowly opening up.”
“I was thirteen back then. I didn’t entertain the thought of dating back then,” he said with a hint of mirth as he cut off the eye of the stove and prepared the plates. True, he wanted to get to know them better out of some guilt and to know Naruto better than what was on the papers he was shown, and yes she was a very attractive young woman only a few years his senior. “It just happened.”
“Deny it all you want,” she teased as he set down the plates on the tables and took his seat. “We both know the truth, Sasuke-kun…”
He shuddered at that. “Drop the suffix, please. It reminds me too much of less desirable women.”
She only made a light hum before she cut started on her meal. The pair ate in silence. When done, she gave him her opinion. “You’ve improved so much since then. If you do decide to become a chef, you’d do well.”
“Hn.” He took the plates and put them in the sink before turning to find that Ayame was waiting for him on the couch, patting the cushion next to her. Sasuke took a seat and brushed aside her hair to meet her gaze head-on. “So…same as before?”
“Remember not to make it go on for too long,” she warned him. Her tone was more playful than strict. “You’re still trying to keep on my Dad’s good side so we can’t spend too long in it this time.”
Their lips met for a moment in a kiss as she leaned forward. He didn’t resist. Instead he pulled her further into it and brought her on top of him as they laid there. When she pulled away she found herself starting into the famed eyes of the Uchiha and the intimate genjutsu was woven for the both of them…
On the Outskirts of Konoha
At the edge of the village, near a clearing, there stood two guards adorned in ANBU masks, both remaining vigilant as their duty entailed. They were ordered to stand guard in that location while their brethren met with their leader as he discussed what steps they would take next secure the Jinchuuriki of the Leaf that had gone astray over the last few years. Measures would be taken to reinstall loyalty to the Leaf in it and bring it to heel for the good of the village.
A few had already been taken, such as a few of the other ANBU who had been assigned to protect the Jinchuuriki and subsequently replaced. Their deaths were a necessity that would prove beneficial towards the village in the end and thus not lamented, and with the Hokage preoccupied with village matters and Jiraiya out of the village few would be able to stop them. While those two were respected for their abilities their emotions weighed them down and so did their attachments.
ROOT had no such thing. They were efficient and washed their hands in blood so that the village would remain as strong as possible. Even if the pair had some question of what they were doing from a moral standpoint, which they didn’t, their thoughts on the matter were irrelevant for two reasons.
The first was because they were Danzo’s men and unfailingly loyal to him. He was the one the village would flourish under and become strong and stable. They were to be his tools in bringing that to fruition.
The second was because they heard the sound of kunai slicing through the air from behind, two of them to be exact, and both were preparing to penetrate their skulls from behind to embed themselves into their brains for a quick death. With practiced grace and efficiently they both averted death by leaning their heads to the side, allowing the weapons to pass by harmlessly, and then spun on their heels with their weapons drawn, a Tanto in one hand and a Ninja-Tou in the other.
It was then they came face-to-face with the man in a black cloak adorned with red clouds. With raven black hair that fell into the high-raised collar, they faced a pair of pitch onyx eyes that were set in a stern manner beneath a Leaf bandana that was crossed off. They knew in a glance they faced the S-Class Missing-Nin, Itachi Uchiha.
Then death came from them as they felt cold steel against their neck, before a wedge of pain followed the tip piercing the skin and drawing a crimson smile, life-blood leaking to the grass below and staining the dark viridian with what seemed to be luminous scarlet in the moonlight. Even if having their throat slit didn’t finish the job, the kunai were rammed into the base of brainstem from behind to be certain.
The bodies dropped as the weapons were removed to reveal two more copies of the man, solid and wielding kunai with the same lackadaisical expression as the original. Both kneeled down. One grabbed the sword of the dead guard and the other planted a hand onto the seemingly normal patch of grass. The sword was immediately tossed to the original, who caught it in his right hand, while the patch of grass suddenly popped open to reveal a hidden hatch.
The three descended into the darkness of the cavern that had been hollowed out, leading towards the village. The Sharingan came alive, the eyes of insight unveiling the darkness as they ventured forward and navigated the seal traps that laid along the path ahead to be traversed by the ROOT agents through memorization. They eventually stumbled upon a dead end at the edge of the corridor, where what looked to be sheer rock blocked their path with no opening in sight. It needed to be opened from the other side.
With nary a word the two spare clones let their chakra seep around them and into the ground, to change how they interacted with one another. The Underground Projection Fish technique was an immensely useful technique to that end since they were underground, simple in nature as they melded into the ground and swam beneath it to the other side while the original waited patiently with the blade in hand. It was something picked up during his time in Akatsuki, who he spent a few years in the service of. While his purpose in joining the organization was to better serve the Leaf, he would admit that though the actions he took were less than noble he found himself sympathizing with their leader and his partner.
Pain sought peace the only way he believed that Shinobi could attain it, through unmitigated force that would put the fear of God into them. He sought a weapon that would instill the horror that combat wrought into all who possessed it. True the plan was flawed, in that all it would take was one person who was enamored with the destruction to get their hands on the weapon and then all would be lost, but one could admire the resolve he had towards attaining his goal.
Kisame was much the same, Itachi supposed. While he didn’t shy away from violence and even basked in it, the man admired the truth above all else. Considering he lived as one who was part of a world of all lies such a contradiction must have troubled him to no end.
The clones swam beneath the surface of the ground and until they emerged on the other side of the wall, bursting out of the ground in the room with six ROOT agents on guard. The two by the wall where the original waited were the first to perish once more as kunai found the soft flesh of their throat and cleaved through it to spray the wall red in an arch. Touching the dual switches that the guards would have activated upon the pass-code being rapped against the wall, the original came into view as the door slid open upwards and they faced two of the others who fell sway to his eyes of hypnotism.
The two ROOT who were enthralled by the Sharingan drew two kunai and threw them, one burying itself into the skull of the throwers and the other two catching the chest of one of the remaining two to end his life as well. The final guard in the room moved. He made a break for the exit to go and alert Danzo of what had transpired, only to come face-to-face with the original that Body Flickered ahead of him.
Holding onto the blade of the Ninja-Tou to his side, the mirror wheel eyes of red spun as a Genjutsu took hold of him and false memories and a mental directive embedded into his mind like the claws of a crow digging into flesh. Itachi handed him a scroll, which he accepted, and then stepped aside as the ROOT agent continued to run and alert Danzo without being the wiser of what had happened to him.
Looking at the corpses Itachi noted to himself that normally having them turn on their comrades took a few seconds longer, but Danzo’s conditioning had made it much easier. They were trained not to see beyond the scope of the mission and everything else was expendable, including their own lives and those of their allies. It was sad, in a way, that these were what served as the ideal Shinobi, mere tools to be discarded.
A small sigh escaped his lips from behind the high collar of his cloak as he and his clones proceeded onwards to finish things here as their unwitting puppet moved on ahead. He could pick up the scent of hellfire and the screams ahead. His trap was sprung.
It was time to clean up the rot beneath the Leaf…
The Memorial Stone
It was a beautiful night tonight, Tobi mused while gazing up from in front of the Memorial Stone to the moon above. He was taking a moment from his task inside his own personal dimension. His left fingers were tenderly caressing a single name upon it: Rin.
She was his teammate. She was his friend. She was the woman he loved enough to die for once.
And she was killed, by the man she had loved and the man he trusted to look after her.
When he was still Obito he rushed to their aid as they were pursued, only to arrive in time to witness Kakashi driving his Chidori through her chest and killing her. He knew the truth. He knew that she had thrown herself into it. But it still caused him pain, pain unlike anything he had felt before, as his eye morphed into the Mamgekyo Sharingan.
It was then he could see the truth. He could see that the system itself was to blame, villages competing against one another in their power games. Human nature twisting their gifts into weapons until everything was dyed in the color of blood. The world was unsalvageable… thus he turned to the moon for a better world.
Tobi turned from the stone to stare at the Hokage Monument, towards the face of his former leader. A man he admired and trusted at one point. The very man whose life he had sought to end to attain key towards the Eternal Tsukiyomi.
While the man managed to fight him off, as one would expect from a Hokage, he and his wife still died as sacrifices towards the path to the eternal dream. The life they fought so desperately to protect and ultimately sacrificed themselves for, their son, would be another. Had there been anything left of “Obito” he would admit that he was a monster.
But for Tobi it didn’t matter. Nothing in this world mattered when the world he would bring forth was a better one. In that world he could raise the dead and peace would reign within it, something that many aspired for as they were covered in the blood of the innocent and their enemies.
He had already waded through the sea of blood that made up this chaos-riddled land and soon he would finish what he started. When he succeeded and brought them to paradise the deaths and betrayals would not be so many or in vain. Results could wipe any sin.
The space around him twisted as he was pulled into his own dimension, a black world with a number of columns that existed to serve as the floor. Sitting down on the floor, next to a corpse, was the silent and dull-eyed form of White Zetsu. Or rather it was a clone of him while the real White and Black Zetsu were busy in Suna retrieving the Seven-Tails.
He had brought a pair of the clones with him, one already in the field and laying the ground work while the other was kept in reserve here until the proper time. They premature in development, flawed but not without purpose. They could transform into a near-perfect replica of anyone whose chakra they sampled.
The one in the field was already under the guise of a Root ANBU whose corpse now occupied his world, and would be discarded once they got what they came for. The other would be the jinchuuriki. The less people who suspected he was kept alive, the easier it would be to hold him until it was time for the extraction.
The idea would be that an ANBU went rogue and killed the jinchuuriki while he slept under some machination of Danzo. The copy-body would of course be missing the chakra of the Kyuubi, leading to them believing he had extracted it from the jinchuuriki. ROOT would be eliminated by the superior force of the Hokage and Danzo dealt with, no one in the wiser while he worked.
All he needed was a single witness to the scenario he had planned out…
End Note: As you can guess Sasuke was not easily forgiven by everyone and had to build that trust up over time. A lot happened in those four years since then. Also yes, he did use his eyes of hypnotism for some Genjutsu-play with Ayame since he respects Teuchi’s wishes for her not to sleep with him as a loop-hole (off-screen).
Ah, the potential of illusions is so great and vast without needing the finer details…
More violence to come next chapter.