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The Second Path: Hell

Chapter Text

“Again.”

His voice grated against your eardrums. Your body protested as you shook, bringing yourself to a stand. You ignored the taste of blood as you focused your chakra to your hands.

 

The knock on your bedroom window made you jump. You whipped your head over to it, your heart thumping nervously.  

It settled when you locked eyes with none other than your best friend, Uchiha Izumi. You hurried to the window, unlocking it and lifting it up so she could crawl in.

 

Your eyes shone with a look of determination, though fatigue was slowly taking its place. Your hands flew together, forming multiple signs as the figure in front of you hurtled towards your form.

“Hey, what’s up?” You asked, tying your hair back as you had just gotten done with a shift at your father’s restaurant.  

It took you a moment, but after thoroughly observing the expression on her face, your heart dropped.

 

Your hands began to glow with a faint purple light. He was inches in front of you. A dark chain flew in front of your face. You dodged, throwing your leg out for a kick. It went right through him, just as the majority of your attacks did. You wasted no time, drawing senbon and infusing then with your purple chakra. They fell through him, and he lunged for you again.

 

Her eyes were swollen and red, her face was puffy from all the crying she had been doing. Her skin was flushed and her body was trembling.

You immediately assumed the worst for her relationship. She often came to you when her relationship was strained or when she was stressed. The two of you were close, practically inseparable.

She struggled to find the words to speak, opening and closing her mouth numerous times before she broke out into a sob.

“I’m so, so sorry (Name),” She blubbered, pulling you into tight hug. You returned her embrace hesitantly. You had never seen her this upset. But her apology didn’t fit the narrative of a breakup.

“Why are you apologizing to me? What’s going on?” She sobbed into your shoulder. She broke from you, gazing into your eyes with her own sad ones. Tears streamed down her cheeks.

“I- I don’t know how e-else to say this, and I wanted to give you time to prepare for-“

Your heart dropped even lower.

 

Your fists clashed as you engaged him, and you twisted your wrist to get a grip on his own. He kicked you backwards, and you rolled into the hard stone wall.

 

“Izumi, spit it out.” She let out a dramatic wail and entwined her fingers with yours, resting her head on your shoulder.

The next few seconds felt like an eternity.

 

“Did you really think I’d let you touch me so easily?” He mocked, slowly approaching. “You should know better than that, after two years of this.”

 

“Shisui-kun is dead!”

 

Blood was slipping from your lips faster than ever now, and you struggled once again to stand. You attempted to summon more chakra to your fingertips, but before you could, you felt his fingers enclose around your neck. You pushed the blood pooling from your closed mouth with your tongue, allowing it to drip onto your teachers uncovered fingers.

 

That night was burned into your brain like a brand. The next few hours after that felt like a dream - no, a nightmare. Fugaku met with you and your father than night, stone faced as ever as he recited to you the conditions of Shisui’s passing. He gave you his condolences and offered another Uchiha male for you to marry in his absence.  

You refused, emotionless.

Suicide.

 

The flickering light of the torch illuminated the ridges on the discolored half of his face. The sharingan that you had been familiar with for far too long mocked you, as did the unmarred portion of his face.

 

It was something you could hardly believe. He of course had battles with his inner demons, but you had seen him the morning of the day he passed and he was as bright as ever, as passionate as ever.

Izumi spent the majority of her time with you, mourning. Itachi had started avoiding her, and in consequence, you as well. You were too preoccupied to notice the increase in frequency of her presence. That was, until she was gone. 

So similar, but yet...

His lips were pressed in a smirk as he gripped your throat, and as you struggled to breathe, he only held tighter. “You are one nasty woman.” You faintly smirked in return.

This was the difference between them.

 

Your heart broke all over again when you found out the fate of the Uchiha Clan. Your father had decided to take Sasuke in, further accelerating your turmoil. You began to speculate that Itachi had killed Shisui too, and Sasuke wouldn’t speak on that.  

You couldn’t look him in the eye anymore. You took solo mission after solo mission, ignoring Daisuke and Shira who were persistent in reaching out to you.

You ignored Sasuke’s pleas for your attention, your affection. You ignored his existence.

 

“Learned from the best,” you choked out. A sharp hiss escaped your lips, expelling what was left of your air. He pressed the knife deeper into your stomach upon hearing your gasp on pain. Your vision began to swim, and you knew better than to let him continue with this. He had said just recently that from then on, he would pull no punches and that if he had the opportunity to kill you, he would take it.

 

You began the plummet into darkness.

 

And he always kept his word.

 

You passed your Jōnin Exam with flying colors. You trained hard and long when you weren’t on missions, it was the only thing to take your mind off of the pain. You unlocked your bloodline limit, to your surprise, in a mission that almost ended in your death.  

You died anyway when you came home to the Third Hokage, Hiruzen Sarutobi standing with a forlorn looking Sasuke, your father nowhere to be found.

 

In a split second, your chakra had surged to your hands and you brought your knee into him. His arm flew back, and you knew he was aiming for your already extremely busted lip.

 

He was dead. And you might as well have died too.

 

In that short moment, you managed to get your hands on him. He felt the sting of senbon piercing his skin and the energy being sapped out of him. He parried a kick from you and ripped your hands from his face. You smiled sadistically at him before you tore your arm from his grasp, ripping the knife from your gut and lunging for an attack.

 

You stayed for awhile. You stayed for Sasuke.

But one autumn night, October 19th, the day of Shisui’s birth, a man approached you in a mask. He offered you peace. He offered you distraction, power, a way to stop the cycle of war. You only had to join him, train under him to reach your full potential, and realize his goals.

He called it the Eye of the Moon. You called it purpose.

 

He jumped back, utilizing his black chain once again and whipping it out at you. You were behind him instantaneously, and as he went to strike, you hurled his own dagger back at him before unsheathing some senbon.

 

You didn’t join him immediately. The guilt of leaving Sasuke weighed heavily on your conscience until, after months of avoiding it, you looked at yourself in the mirror.

You were the same. The same hair, the same face, the same eyes, though devoid of life. So much had changed, and you were still the same. And you couldn’t stand that thought.

 

With his chakra being added to your own, you felt revitalized. Though it wasn’t much, it was enough to get yourself going again.

 

As if he could read your thoughts, the Masked Man materialized behind you. You could still hear the tone of his voice as he prompted you, once again, to join him...

 

The battle continued on similar to this for many hours: with you narrowly avoiding death and frustrating the man to no end. His chakra was starting to run dangerously low, and that was a risk he wasn’t willing to take with his current position.

As your body tumbled across the room once again, he sheathed his dagger back in its place. “Enough. I’m done.”

You could tell by the tone of his voice that he was annoyed. You stumbled as you went to stand. “Getting frustrated that I’m not dead yet?”

He walked over to your trembling, bloodied form. He offered you his hand, to which you had no choice but to take.

You had made that mistake before.

“If I wanted you dead, you’d be dead.” He pulled you into a stand. You hissed in pain. “You’ll kill yourself if you continue to fight in that condition.”

That much was true. You were bleeding from almost every inch of your body, bruised everywhere else. You looked like an absolute mess.

And that was his favorite part of training you. Breaking you down to the point where you couldn’t stand and couldn’t run from him. You had gone through many, if not all of the stages of fear while training underneath him. Now you just took the punishments without a word. While it wasn’t as satisfying, he still enjoyed the teasing smirk you’d give him at the end. You wouldn’t scream anymore. It became a game.

You became a masochist.

“You’d like that,” you panted, your teeth colored red as you spoke. He swung your arm around his shoulders, carrying the majority of your weight.

“No, because I wouldn’t have the pleasure of killing you myself.”

You scoffed, the husky sound causing you to cough up blood.

“Fuck,” You panted as you collapsed onto the ground, almost bringing him with you. He pushed you off of him, making your initial impact harder than necessary.

“Don’t do that shit,” he growled, glancing at the blood now staining his clothes. “I’ll go bring the surgeon to you, then. Just don’t move, or you’ll bleed out.” You began hacking again, and he scowled.

“Oi, did you even hear me?”

“Yes, Uchiha-sama. I heard you.”

“Good. Start on your other wounds while I go get him.” Obito turned his back on you, an expression of distaste on his face. He quickly made his way from the stone room and walked down a dark hallway, ultimately ending in an open room with a large, unattractive statue with its hands outstretched. He came to a stop once a white figure appeared to melt into a humanoid form in front of him.

“Zetsu,” he started. “Go get Kakuzu.”

“Obito, you’ve done it again haven’t you?” Zetsu asked. “You really need to stop that. One day, she’ll die and you’ll have no one to toy with!”

Zetsu went to obey his orders but turned back a moment afterwards. “Looks like she’s getting better. You’ve got a few marks yourself. How interesting!” Zetsu let out a shrill cackle. Obito disregarded his companions teasing and went back down the hallway he had come from. His shadow danced across the dark walls as he walked, his pace quick and his posture taut. He took an orange, swirled mask from inside his robe and slipped it on just as he reached another door.

Once inside the empty, cold room, he made a few hand signs, and the tomoe of his sharingan spun to form the mangekyō. His body dematerialized and not even a second later, he reappeared, though in a completely different location.

The absence of rain was immediately noted as he made his full appearance. His presence was immediately noticed by the figure in front of him. The man made no move to acknowledge him until Obito began to speak.

“She is ready.”

The man moved to a stand, turning around and facing him.

“When can she start?” His voice was low, his purple eyes piercing into Obito’s one hidden Sharingan. His heavily pierced face stayed expressionless as he addressed the Uchiha.

“Immediately.” The Rinnegan user inspected the bloodstained attire of the other male.

“Immediately, then.”

“Pair her off with Zetsu,” Obito began. “They already know each other’s fighting tactics and are familiar with one another.”

“I will see to that,” he responded.

Obito went to leave, but stopped himself short.

“Pein,” he started. “We will introduce her to the others as soon as she gets patched up.”

“Tomorrow, then.”

Obito disappeared immediately after Pein finished his sentence. Pein returned to his spot on the tip of the tongue of the statue overlooking Amegakure, gazing upon the tall buildings and contemplating.

~~~~~~

The next day, you were sore and bruised. Scars marred your body and the gash in your stomach was sealed together by Kakuzu using surgical thread. Your lip was swollen and purple. When Obito came to you the next morning, he was taken aback by how many injuries you had sustained.

“Why did you not fix these?” He demanded, referring to the bruises and slashes marring your face.

You slipped the red and black cloak over your black outfit. He watched you strain as you turned to face him.

“No chakra, thanks to your fucking seal the other day,” you spoke with a slight, mocking grin. “You could let me borrow some of yours, Uchiha-sama.” Obito tched and held his hand out to you.

“No more than necessary.” Your brows furrowed.

“Wait, seriously?”

“Hurry up, or I’ll rescind the offer,” Obito asserted. You snickered and slid your hands over both sides of his own. Your hands began to glow purple and he immediately felt his energy lessen. Obito sucked a deep breath in as he allowed you to absorb his chakra.

It was the first time he had allowed you to do so, and the first time you had taken so much. He watched as color returned to your beaten up face. Your hands slowly reverted back to normal, but you didn’t immediately pull away.

Neither did he.

When you cocked a brow at him, he yanked his hand from your grasp. You let out an amused laugh. His face contorted and you knew what was coming next. You braced yourself.

Blood splattered against the nearest wall as he busted your lip open again. “Don’t get too familiar,” he growled. You let out a small giggle.

“Can’t help it sometimes, Uchiha-sama. I just have a thing for men like you.” He shot you a glaring look of disapproval.

“Say that again and your arm comes off.”

“I might like that,” you continued, egging him on.

Obito’s face contorted in a smirk. “I’m not sure how much your Shisui would like you coming onto me like this.”

The next expression you made was one he’d never seen on you before. Your eyes burned with rage, your lips tight and your brows furrowed deeply. Your jaw was clenched.

In a split second, a kunai knife flew through his chest and slammed into the wall behind him. Your arm followed through, and the impact cracked the solid stone. The walls shook with the strength of your strike. You pulled your arm from where his chest was to be and snarled. “If I ever catch your dirty lips saying his name again, I’ll make sure that those are the first thing that I skin off of your fucked up face.”

Obito let out a shrill laugh at your threat. “Fix your own fucking face, (Name). You’ll never even get the chance to touch mine.”

“Fuck you,” You responded, siphoning green chakra to your hands and hovering them over your lip.

“Are you really going to disrespect your superior like that? Ungrateful little shit.” He slapped the back your head. “I didn’t have to do any of the things that I did for you. I can leave you anywhere at any time. Do I have to teach you that lesson?”

The way your lip was jutted out made it almost look like you were pouting. But Obito knew better - you were just healing it. You had too much pride to pout.

“I’m a kunoichi. I can fend for myself no matter where you abandon me,” you spoke confidently, moving on to the gash on your eyebrow.

“Want to test that theory, (Name)?”

You averted your eyes. “Not really.”

Obito smirked. “Then shut your damn mouth and finish up already.” He turned around to pull your kunai from the wall. He was forced to let out a grunt as he did so. You had lodged it so deeply within the stone that even he had to use some of his strength to rip it out.

It was significantly duller now, but he pointed the tip at your throat. You looked up into his one Sharingan eye, as his other was closed tight. You stared him down with just as much intensity as he did you. You never stopped your healing.

He slid it up to underneath your chin, forcing you to angle your head up to his. The eye contact the two of you shared sent a chill down your spine, but you would not show it.

You’d learned better than that after two years of training under him.

“I could kill you with this, even if it’s dull.”

“Please do. It would save me from following all of your orders later on.”

He smirked down at you. “And that’s why I won’t.”

He took the kunai from your neck and slid it down into the pouch on your thigh. He took a few steps back and turned from you. “I’ll be back in two minutes. Hurry up.”

With a smirk, you continued to take your time tending to your injuries.

Just to spite him.

~~~~~~

He was getting impatient. It was obvious.

Usually he’d have you wait til you were fully healed and completely capable of a battle if needed before introducing you to anyone. But you weren’t - you were still quite low on chakra, and your body was terribly sore. Had you not gotten used to all of the brutal beatings, you would be much worse off. Even still, you were in no condition for a complex fight. And seeing as these were all S-ranked criminals, you knew they’d give you trouble.

You could only hope that he wouldn’t have you fight anyone.

His fingers were tightly gripped around your wrist - tight enough to surely leave a bruise. He was pulling you through the hallways hastily; you made a purposeful effort to lag behind. He stopped a few steps before the open room, sliding on his orange mask.

“Walk in,”  he ordered. “And hurry up.” An underlying threat lingered in his words. You obeyed without issue, only because you could feel the gaze of the man with purple eyes on you from a distance. Obito dematerialized, coming back into a solid form next to Itachi.

His voice was low, loud, authoritative. “This is our new member,” he started as you walked towards the group. “Katō (Name).”

Obito’s gaze flew to Itachi, catching two of the most minuscule of microexpressions: a slight brow raise accompanied by a silent, sharp inhale.

You bowed. “I hope to be of service to you.”

Your eyes scanned the room as you straightened. You held back a bewildered expression as you came upon the familiar red of the Sharingan.

“Uchiha Itachi,” you spoke with a disbelieving scoff.

“(Name)-san.”

You were overwhelmed with conflicted emotions. He had slaughtered his entire clan, including Izumi, and left Sasuke alone. If you and your father hadn’t taken him in, he would’ve been completely lost at such a young age.

“Oh,” another member spoke up, his voice hoarse and crisp. “From the looks of it, you’re from the same village. Do you know each other?”

Obito’s gaze was now trained on you. He wondered what you would do, surrounded by numerous deadly shinobi. Itachi still, without a doubt, overpowered you.

Would you allow your emotions to consume you?

“Something like that,” you responded, removing your gaze from him.

The fingers on Itachi’s right hand stiffened, as if he went to clench his fist but thought better of it.

“You will be partnered with Zetsu.” You looked at the black and white creature, nodding in his direction. The white portion of his face lifted into a mischievous smile.

The leader then introduced the rest of the members. You made no indication that you had already been acquainted with Kakuzu, and he did the same. He then informed you that you would be leaving for your first mission that night.

Your fists were tightly clenched and your nerves were on edge. It took every ounce of restraint you had not to lash out on the Uchiha traitor. You knew, however, that you would be punished severely should you even move half an inch towards him.

Your instructor was unforgiving, and would undoubtedly double down on you for not controlling yourself in the company of so many powerful shinobi. When the leader dismissed the group, which you almost missed due to your distracting, seething anger, you stormed off almost instantaneously. You were itching to lunch at Itachi, demand for him to tell you why, plunge your fingertips through his chest and rip out his still beating heart.

You had almost sprinted. Obito found it amusing. You were clearly trying to escape the vicinity of the Uchiha male, who had been watching you acutely the whole time. Obito tailed after you, only breaking into a jog once he was out of eyesight.

When he finally caught up to you, a gaping hole in the opposite wall drew his eye. Cracks littered the immediate area of the impact, and he slid his mask off as he shut the door.

Madara !” You bellowed, hurling senbon at him. He furrowed his brows as they flew through him. He had forgotten you didn’t know his real name, seeing as you chiefly referred to him as Uchiha-sama. “You fucking bastard,” you seethed between your teeth. “You didn’t tell me he would be here!” You were trembling with anger, and he couldn’t help but watch in amusement.

“It slipped my mind,” he responded with nonchalance. “You couldn’t kill him anyway. You don’t have the strength.”

You glared at him. “I will get the strength.” You grabbed some extra senbon from the dresser. “And I will use it to kill you, too.”

“You’ll die with me,” he responded, tossing you a small pouch. “Take that with you. It’s some ryō for shelter and food costs.”

You caught it effortlessly and took a deep breath. He clearly didn’t care for your anger, and it was misplaced anyways. You needed to reign yourself in, just in case the others could hear from where they were.

You were attempting to calm your breathing when the back of your head hit the stone wall hard. Obito’s fingers wrapped around your neck, just as they had done the day previously.

“And don’t call me Madara. You won’t live to do it a third time.” If you weren’t used to his threats, it would’ve intimidated you. But after years of receiving death threats, you knew he wouldn’t kill you - unless it was during sparring of course. He would bring you to the verge of the end, but he’d always have you brought back.

You figured that because of that, he had to like your company; at least a little bit, but you knew better than to tease him.

Sometimes you really weren’t in the mood to get your ass kicked.

“Yes, Uchiha-sama,” you choked out. You let your arms dangle to your sides as he continued to grip your throat. Only when you made a face of discomfort did he stop.

He just wanted proof that he was getting to you.

You rubbed at the sore skin, clearing your throat. You took a few deep breaths before looking up at him. “What type of mission is it?” You asked.

“If you would’ve listened, you would know it’s a bounty.” He turned to exit the room. “I’m expecting you within five days. If you haven’t returned by then, I’m going to come find you and beat you within an inch of your life.”

You felt the urge to roll your eyes, but decided better of it. He opened the door, looking over his shoulder at you.

“I will see you in five days.”

“But Leader-sama gave us seven, right?”

I'm giving you five.” Obito slid on his mask and left the room, leaving you to yourself as he made his way down the dark hallway once again.

~~~~~~

Itachi stood with his back against the wall. His expression was unreadable as he watched his partner gather his belongings.

“So, is she someone you knew?” The gruff voice inquired.

Itachi’s eyes went to shut. “An acquaintance.”

Of course, you had been more than that and it concerned him that you were here.

“She definitely looked like she recognized you.”

“I would assume so, Kisame-san.”

There was no way you could mistake him for someone else. Not with his eyes.

“It kinda seemed like she wanted to fight you,” Kisame continued, shoving more food pills in his pouch.

“Yes. It did.”

He wouldn’t be surprised if you did.

But you were different than he remembered. You carried yourself differently. Your chakra signature, while similar, had morphed into something completely different. Something sinister and dark.

It resembled the chakra of someone who had been broken over and over, and remade into something entirely different.

With Madara going after you after your hasty retreat, it had confirmed his suspicions.

What were you doing here?

Kisame straightened himself back to a stand. “Are you going to fight her?” He asked, a smirk on his face.

Itachi eyed his partner. “If I have to.”

You had gone down a path he had not expected. Sarutobi Hiruzen did not inform him that you had left. He had not told him that you had abandoned Sasuke. Shimura Danzō hadn’t told him either.

It was opportune timing that he would come across this information just before the mission to capture the Nine Tails. But he wondered how long ago you had defected, and just when you had begun to train with Madara.

His eyes opened once more, displaying the red of the Sharingan. Things would take an interesting turn with the addition of your presence, but he couldn’t help the disappointment he felt.

Surely you knew that Shisui wouldn’t approve of the path you were walking.

Itachi would take it upon himself to remind you of that. He would do what it took to reignite your Will of Fire on behalf of his late cousin and best friend.

He could only hope that he could get to you before it would be too late.

Chapter Text

Your hair hung over your eyes and you internally cursed. It caused a few flaws in your vision.

Two figures molded together underneath you, entering the room gracelessly. Your feet were planted firmly on the high ceiling and your lips were shut tight.

You hadn’t made a single sound in over an hour. You had waited until the two had settled themselves on the bed to fall to the floor, nothing more than a hidden shadow in the corner. You took a moment to verify that the figure on top was your target before letting two senbon fly from your fingers. A guttural sound that hadn’t come from pleasure escaped the figures lips before their form collapsed.

You whispered a curse word as you watched the second figures mouth poise to scream. You moved quickly, covering her mouth. “Don’t scream, or I'll have to kill you too.” You wrapped your strong arm around her neck.

“Great work, (Name)!” Zetsu emerged from the ceiling where you’d previously been standing. “We didn’t have to waste this much time on this,” his other side argued. “This could’ve been over much easier if we burned the place down.”

You rolled your eyes. No wonder the Leader didn’t usually send Zetsu out for these kinds of missions.

He walked over to the lifeless form of your target, and another white Zetsu that you hadn’t noticed before lifted the body. “Go ahead without me, Zetsu,” you spoke. “I need to do one more thing.”

“What are you-“

“Go,” you asserted, holding the woman tighter as she had started to squirm. He gave you a look, but ultimately followed your instructions. He melted into the floor as you had seen him do many times before. “Alright,” you spoke, now addressing the woman who was struggling in your tight grasp. “I’m going to take care of the rest of the staff here. You stay here until I give you the okay, got it?” You lifted your hand from her mouth in order to allow her to respond.

“Wh-what are you gonna do-do to them?!” She asked, stuttering and shaking.

Your eyes rolled for a second time. “I’m going to kill them, stupid. They treat you like shit.”

You hadn’t missed all of the bruises she had.

She slightly relaxed in your hold.

“Wh-why? Why would you do that for us? Who are you?”

“You’re not really in the position to be asking questions. Just stay here, and stay quiet.” She understood the underlying implications.

You let her go, and she sat obediently on the blood covered bed. You made a face before removing your cloak, taking off your over shirt, and tossing it to her.

“You would probably be more comfortable in something that’s not covered in blood.” She stared at you awestruck, and you clicked your tongue. “Just change your damn shirt,” you grumbled before finally slipping your cloak back on and leaving the room.

The hallway was painted a deep red, and the carpets were a dark brown that complimented the decor. The lights were oval shaped and placed every few feet on the high ceiling. The hallway had several rooms, but you only sensed a presence in the very last room, nearest the basement entrance.

So you made your way over there, not even bothering to mask your chakra or silence your steps. You finally came upon the silver doorknob, drawing a few senbon from your pouch and sending your chakra into your weapons.

You opened the door slowly, and the man at the office desk didn’t bother to look up. “I told you to put her fucking body in the furnace, Takashi. I don’t give a -“

He stopped short when he saw you.

“Hey,” you started, sauntering over and kicking the door shut. “Thanks for telling me what the basement’s for, you fucking asshole.” You let your senbon fly, two aiming right for his eyes and the other impaling the hand that had been resting on his desk.

Before he managed to even scream in pain, you were behind him, slamming his head down onto his desk. You heard a resounding crack before drawing a kunai and shoving it into the back of his neck. He made a grotesque gurgling sound that had you screwing up your face.

“You’re nasty,” you spoke, grabbing him by the hair and ripping his head upright. You took another kunai from your pouch and effortlessly glided it through his tongue. “I fucking hate men like you. Your existence is worthless, only using others for your own gain, traumatizing these women and using them as pawns. You disgust me.”

He was sobbing now, sputtering out blood and whines like the pathetic swine he was. You gripped his throat, holding it as tightly as possible and taking out a few more senbon. “I’ll make quick work of the others. You’re not the only one who deserves to suffer, but I just don’t have the time to make of all of you wish you weren’t born.” You dug the senbon into the sides of his cheeks and you could feel - not hear -  him scream.

“I will make a spectacle of you, though.”

He was hysterical. You had never seen a grown man look so pitiful. Sobbing, drooling, bleeding, blubbering.

You punched him in the face - just cause (although you enjoyed the sound of the sickening crack)  - and then moved to sling his trembling, soaked form over your shoulder and effortlessly walked down the hall and to the room on the opposite end of the hallway.  

You felt their presences before you saw them, and that was how you knew they were there. You didn’t bother with the knob. You kicked the door down and the resulting sound had all twenty four heads turning to you. You tossed his body as if it were a feather. It made a thud as it landed on the long table before them.

A few of them gasped, screamed, or went to stand and you drew a few of your favored needles. “I’m here to deliver your judgement.” They dispersed from your fingers, and four fell dead immediately. “And you’re all going to Hell.”

For you, time felt as if it sped up. You immediately jumped over the body of the man you had maimed and began to attack the others. You relished in fear they had displayed before. It spurred you on as you sliced, jabbed, cut, kicked. Bodies slumped over on bodies and the resulting screams were almost melodious. You finished off the whole room within half a minute, a true testament to your skill. However, you were nearly drenched in blood by the time you were finished. Your hair was dripping from each strand.

You stood straight and wrung some of the crimson liquid from your locks. You looked at your work and sighed.

Truly disgusting.

You left the room, searching each and every corner of the building for the women that had scattered about in fear. You instructed them to wait for you outside in front, and continued to search the two story brothel until you were sure you had gotten most, if not all of the women out. You went to the first woman you had spoken to last.

It would suffice to say that when see saw you drenched in blood, she knew you had completed your task. She, along with the others, were cautiously fearful of you while also maintaining an expression of gratefulness. It was an odd combination.

You descended into the basement where the furnace was. The stench of burning flesh immediately assaulted your sense of smell, and though you had inhaled it many times before, you made a face of disgust as your stomach turned.

“It’s about time you finished.” You looked down the stairway.

Your eyes narrowed as they connected with that luminous red… that red that you were beginning to tire of. He discarded the mask as soon as he saw you.

“Why the fuck are you here, Uchiha-sama?”

Your curse word paired with your tone directly conflicted with your honorific. That was typical of you, though. He had gotten used to that a long time ago.

“Because you’ve taken far too long to complete this mission. I gave you five days.” His attention followed you as you descended the stairs.

“It’s been three,” you stated matter-of-factly. You spotted the motionless body of a male probably only a bit larger than yourself. “Is he dead?”

Obito looked to the man collapsed at his feet.

“He will be. You’re burning it, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Then let him burn.” You rolled your eyes, flicking out a kunai and slamming it into the throat of the unconscious male. Obito cocked a brow at you. “Why?”

Blood pooled at both of your pairs of feet. “There’s no guarantee that he would’ve died. Now I don’t have to wonder.”

“Truly merciless.” You smiled as you took a large canister that you knew had been filled with oil.

“Aren’t I? Look at what you’ve created.” You turned with the canister in your hands, spreading the oil about the room and up the stairs.

And he did as you told. He looked at you - thoroughly observed you, and as he did so, he reflected.

You were a mere shell of a person when he had taken you under him. You felt nothing, and said even less. Even still, it had taken him six months to get you to truly understand. He was able to remember it so vividly, it almost didn’t feel as if it had been years ago.

~~~~~~

“(Name), get up.”  

You stood, unsteady on your feet, blood crusting over every crevice of your form and new strands seeping from your head, obstructing your vision.  

Small rocks and pebbles protruded from your skin, new scratches marred your body and you felt the all too familiar pain of a broken rib - or rather, a few broken ribs.

Obito approached you, staring you in the eye with intensity that usually made you stammer with excuses.

This was the third time he had seen you at the edge of that cliff. You spent hours there each time, not moving, not speaking.  

Tonight he had seen you take a step forward and then hesitate. He knew then why you stood at the edge.  

You were suicidal. But you were a coward, so he decided to give you a little push - literally. He shoved you over the edge.  

You had fought, screamed, used your chakra and your weapons to slow your fall. It hadn’t worked until the last second, and so in the end you had managed to survive. Although, you had fallen too hard and still gotten injured. He had practically floated down to join you at the very bottom, almost a thousand feet below.  

“Do you still want to die?” The chain he had used so many times before to bruise and batter your body made its appearance between his fingers.  

You stared at it as you swayed due to the pain. Your body was protesting your every breath, and you had realized how badly you didn’t want to die. Truthfully, you wouldn’t have realized that if it weren’t for him. You had been ripped from the clutches of depression and delivered back to purpose in a matter of seconds.  

You had remembered everything you wanted to live for. It wasn’t that you were scared to die, it was more that you wanted to find your purpose. Shisui had given you purpose - he had given you something to strive for, and in losing him, you had believed that you had also lost that along with him.  

“No,” you trembled, raising shaking fingers to your aching ribs and allowing your chakra to soothe the pain.

“And what changed your mind?” The chain disappeared once again.  

“Something stood out to me as I was falling.” You stumbled backwards, using a boulder that you were grateful you hadn’t fallen on to support you. “Your plan. The Tsuki no Me. I kept thinking of it.” Behind his mask, his brows rose.  

“Why?”  

“Because… if we succeed with this, no one will ever have to feel the way I feel.” He watched as your tended to your wounds. “No one will have to die anymore.”  

He watched your eyes come to life, shining with determination. That was when he knew…  

He removed his mask slowly, allowing it to slip from his fingers and fall to the stone below.  

He almost expected you to know. He didn’t know how much Uchiha Shisui had told you of their clan history. He hadn’t known if Shisui had told you about him - of Uchiha Obito.  

“Uchiha-sama?” You asked as he stared down at you.  

“Yes?”  

“I won’t fail you. Your will is mine.”  

You couldn’t help but feel indebted to him. He had shown you the flaws in your thinking. You couldn’t help but feel a surge of appreciation for the man that had essentially saved your life (you were sure you would’ve jumped later on), though he had done so by nearly killing you.  

He approached you slowly, placing his index finger under your chin and forcing you to look up at him.  

“You don’t have that option, (Name).” He watched as your eyes smoothed over the uneven portion of his face, and your breath hitched as his hand slowly encircled your neck. “You will follow me until the end. You will learn, fight, survive. And you are never to turn your back on me.” He tightened his grip and you let out a soft whimper. He loosened it again. “Am I clear enough in what I am saying?”  

“Yes, Uchiha-sama. I will be loyal to you until the day I die.”  

You gasped as you felt your feet be swept off the ground. You were in his arms, stunned into motionlessness.  

“Hold on tight.”  

A distorted circle appeared and he walked you through it.  

He knew then… that he could turn you into the perfect successor. That if anything happened, you would finish the plan on his behalf. That if he were to trust you to go off alone, you would stay straight on your path. Though you had begun to get anxious without his leadership...  

The effort you applied in training was increased tenfold from that day on.  

~~~~~~

He had left the building with you, assisting you in setting it aflame. You told him that you were intending on escorting the women to the nearest town in which you had an ally; you knew your ally would find them honest work and house them until they could do so themselves. He watched you at work - speaking with every individual woman and he saw the rage in your optics as you learned that they had been forced into prostitution. He wondered what you got from this, if you enjoyed the feeling of being some kind of martyr.

He put on his mask again. Obito followed you and the two dozen women from a distance until you had come across your friends bar, sliding him a large sum of personal money, and explained the situation. Obito observed your reaction as the man nodded and went to the back, emerging with several more employees. You joined Obito once more at the entrance, planning to leave. You were gathering too much attention the way you two were dressed, not to mention the fact that you were still covered in blood, though most of it had dried at that point.

“Uh, miss?” You turned, coming upon the first woman that you had saved. “D-do you want your shirt back?”

“No,” you said with a laugh. “Keep it.” She attempted to gather enough of her thoughts to thank you, but you and Obito had already slipped out the door before she got the chance.

The employees of your friends bar got the women settled in some of the rooms above, provided them with food and drink, and allowed them access to the baths.

She regretted never being able to thank you. But surely, she would remember that black and red cloak.

They all would.

~~~~~~

“So why did you come, anyways?” You asked as you removed your cloak, hanging it on one of the trees nearest you. Obito was leaning against the same tree you’d hung your clothes. He averted his gaze as you removed the rest of your clothing and waded into the cool lake.

“I have another task for you to complete before we return.” He crossed his arms, and you turned to look him in the face as you treaded water.

“And that is?” He watched as your dipped your head back, slightly exposing your collarbones to his gaze.

Obito didn’t force himself to look away from you. “It’s time for you to make an appearance.”

“Are you sure you want to do that? They all think I’m dead. It might be better that way.”

Obito tched. “You do not know better than me, (Name). It will speed things along if the villages know that you’re allied with us.”

“Alright. How do you expect me to go about this?”

“Itachi and Kisame are pursuing the Nine Tailed Fox. We are only a half day away from where they are now, but as always I can take you there in seconds, when you’re done fucking around.” You rinsed out your hair, relishing in every second of it. Obito gave you a look as you slowed your ministrations.

You could be really frustrating.

Finally, you finished your hair and began to scrub your body as well as you could with your hands.

“I’m not going to fight with that piece of shit,” you spat. “I don’t give a damn about making a statement. I won’t go anywhere near that fucker.”

Obito let out a mocking laugh. “You have no choice. We’re going right after you finish.”

“My cloak is covered in blood, genius. I don’t think that would be a-” you stopped short at the dangerous look he gave you. “Okay. Fine.” Obito smirked and kicked off of the tree.

“Hurry it up. They could be gone by the time you’re finished and then you’ll lose your opportunity to make the extravagant return to the world that I know you desire.” He turned his back to you as you emerged from the water, shaking yourself off and redressing in your blood soiled garments.

You grimaced at the smell. Obito turned back to face you, and the two of you stared at each other silently.

“What are you looking at?” You finally asked, tauntingly.

Obito didn’t answer, only continued to look at you.

You felt the urge to squirm underneath his gaze. “Stop looking at me.”

It took no more than a second. Your head flew back as he gripped your hair painfully, pulling it harshly.

“You…” he nearly growled as he took a kunai from your pouch. “Your hair.”  You went to protest but when he pulled it harder, you relented. You had learned long ago that once he was sold on something, there was no changing his mind. You immediately felt relief and you knew by the sound that he had cut your hair. You lifted your hands to feel it - it was incredibly uneven and choppy. Obito then tossed the damp clump of hair in his hand into the river. “Maybe that will motivate you to focus. The weight of your past with Itachi is gone now. Move on from it and work towards our mutual goal.”

You stared at him almost furiously, but lowered your gaze to the floor as you clenched your fists.

Could you forget? Could you quell your hate for him?

What could you do?

You looked towards the sky, noticing the rising sun.

Shisui would know. Shisui would’ve told you. Shisui would’ve had the answers. Shisui-

“He’s dead. He’s gone,” Obito stated, interrupting your thought process.

In a moment of vulnerability, you swung at him out of anger. It went through him like usual. You swung again and stumbled forward. Obito caught your next poorly timed strike, shoving you face first into one of the surrounding trees and holding your hands behind your back. You struggled against him for a moment until you accepted how futile it was to fight against him.

Obito only pressed you harder into the bark, and you felt a slight sting as some poked into your skin. “How can I look Itachi in the face knowing he could’ve killed him like he did the others?”

Obito fought with himself for a moment. Should he tell you what he knew? It would complicate things in the future, having you know that he had a hand in the massacre. But maybe you didn’t have to know that part. Maybe he could somehow emit that information. He knew you wouldn’t ask questions if he told you not to. But he ran the risk of you speculating…

“Itachi did not kill him.”

You immediately went limp in his hold. He felt your body lean forward as your forehead settled on the brown husk of the tree.

“How do you know?”

This was as much as the two of you had ever conversed about this situation. You never spoke about what had made either of you into the people you were now. It was an unspoken rule not to mention the specifics.

“I know more than you think.”

He released you and you immediately fell to your knees.

Obito watched as you crumpled to the floor. It was a pitiful sight. He had seen you in pain - physical pain - countless times. But you hardly ever let those walls down, he could count how many times you became emotional in front of him on one hand. Well, any emotion besides anger, that is.

But he could use this to his advantage. He could-

“Who killed him, then? He wouldn’t kill himself. Shisui wouldn’t have left me like that. He told me- he…” you cut yourself off, catching yourself mid-sentence. You remembered whose company you were in.

“Shimura Danzō.” Obito said nothing about your emotional tirade.

You were still. He watched you for awhile as you sat motionlessly. You stood up, facing him. “Say it again.”

“Shimura Danzō killed your fiancé.”

He watched as your steely eyes brushed over his face. You turned from him finally, your fist clenched and teeth grit.

You had found no sign of deception in his face.

“Then I will kill him.”

“When the time comes,” Obito started, walking to your side. “But we have to stick to the plan.” Your uneven strands of hair rustled in the wind, and he watched as the lively colors of the sunrise settled in front of you.

You turned to face him without an expression. The two of you maintained silent eye contact again.

Even though he couldn’t read you, your eye contact set him at ease.

You wouldn’t defect. Not from him. Not when he had gone to hell and back with you for you to attain your power, for you to learn what you know now. Not when he had saved and endangered your life as many times as he had. You were put back together by him, broken by him, and repaired. Many, many times over. You genuinely owed everything to him. Without him, you’d be alone. Without him, you’d be weak. Without him, you would’ve killed yourself. Without him…

“Let’s go.”

Those two words were all he needed to transport the both you to the village Kisame and Itachi were taking refuge in.

~~~~~~

The two of you watched from a distance through a window as Sasuke went to attack Itachi. You felt your heart race as Itachi effortlessly deflected his attacks, beginning to unleash a flurry of his own at his younger brother. You shifted to the tip of your toes when you sensed the presence of someone stronger.

“Uchiha-sama, I’m going.”

“Then go. I’ll be waiting for you on the outskirts of the village.”

“Right.” You stepped through his Kamui and went through the other side, coming out at the end of the hallway.

Itachi’s sharingan immediately flickered to you as you appeared.

“...but rather his forte is winning women’s affection!”

You watched as Jiraiya of the Sanin struck a pose. Your presence had gone mostly undetected, save for Itachi. Kisame and Jiraiya began going back and forth. Itachi contributed in their conversation while you quietly made your way to where Sasuke had collapsed on the floor. Your hand flowed with your chakra as you tended to his broke wrist.

His lids jerked open, and you covered his mouth instantly as he stared up at you wide-eyed. His face contorted in anger as he observed your attire.

You had joined Itachi?!

He ripped your hand from his mouth with his newly healed hand, hissing your name.

“Did you join him?”

He thought you were… dead.

“No. But it will take too long to explain. You need to leave before things get ugly.”

“I’m not leaving,” he grunted as he struggled to stand. “Not until I kill him.

“Sasuke, you have to-”

He ignored you, sauntering away. He wanted to talk to you, but he had other things to attend to.

“Don’t butt in,” he growled, addressing Jiraiya who had just threatened the other two Akatsuki members. “The one who’s going to kill him… is me!”

You cursed below your breath, reluctant to let your presence known by the Sanin but ultimately having no choice. You knew Sasuke would attack him, so you had to distract him. You were fully aware of Itachi’s power and he would not hold back, even if his opponent was Sasuke.

You dashed towards him, retracting your first and landing a punch that resulted in a crack that you all heard. Sasuke stumbled from the force of your attack, falling over again.

The room’s attention shifted to you now. Kisame’s thin brows rose in acknowledgment. “I see, so you’re here too.” He stood straight. “It almost looks like the two of you have unfinished business here.”

Your pair of optics connected with Jiraiya’s own. “You could say that.”

His narrowed. “Rinha (Name).”

“You should know that I don’t use my mother’s surname.” Flame began spinning around your fist as if it were a serpent. “Jiraiya-sama.”

“You’ve changed,” he observed, noting your change in fighting stance, the strange feel of your chakra, and your unevenly cut locks. “You used to be so-“

“I’ve put my past self behind me. I am no longer the (Name) you knew.”  Your eyes flickered to Itachi as you finished your sentence. Itachi’s red optics were trained on you.

You seemed as if you had come unhinged. Your face and body looked strong, but your chakra was unsettled and you had an air of chaotic energy about you. Not to mention, all of that blood...

Jiraiya shifted into a deeper stance. Three on one would be difficult, especially with two people that could sap his strength, but-

Sasuke’s body was thrown about again as Itachi kicked him backwards. You internally cursed as you heard his cry of pain.

What was his deal? Hadn’t you told him not to get involved?

“Sasuke,” you mumbled, inaudible to the others. “Don’t do this.”

Naruto charged, intent on attacking Itachi. You acted fast, sending your fist that wasn’t charged with flame into the Jinchuriki’s stomach. He let out a couch and spots of blood flew from his lips.

Sasuke sprinted at his brother again, only to be deterred again and sent flying. You cursed again. You couldn’t help him. It would look too bad on you. You had already risked everything by healing his hand.

“You can’t even make a hand sign together at this point,” Itachi’s low voice rumbled. That wasn’t true, but yet Sasuke let out a yell and went to attack once again. You held back a wince as blood tricked from his mouth as Itachi switched to the offensive. You watched helplessly as Itachi picked Sasuke up by the collar.

No. No way. He couldn’t be thinking of using that jutsu.

You observed a shift in his hand as he began to choke his little brother.

Sasuke’s eyes widened in fear and you knew…

Tsukuyomi.

Sasuke’s screams assaulted your ear drums and skyrocketed your heart rate. You wanted nothing more than to turn around and beat the living shit out of Itachi for torturing his brother that way, for hurting him, but you ground your teeth together and stood fast.

Jiraiya acted fast.

You sighed as a wall of pink began to form around you. You watched as Sasuke’s body was absorbed inside of it.

“How unfortunate, Itachi, (Name), Kisame. You’re already inside my stomach.”

You wasted no time, lunging at the Jinchuriki, knowing that the walls would soon collapse in on you. Jiraiya jumped in front of him just in time, letting out a grunt as your flame endowed fist came into contact with his forearm guards. The flame dispersed and singed his hair. He scowled at you.

“Go!” You yelled at the two. Kisame went to lift his sword, hissing in discontentment when he noted the substance had begun to engulf his weapon. They began to retreat, and you went to attack Jiraiya again in order to stall. He could only parry your quick attacks as you let out an impossibly fast flurry of kicks and punches in succession. Growing frustrated, he knelt down to dodge and sent strings of the substance after you. You narrowed your eyes as some shot past you to engage Kisame and Itachi.

“Well, fuck. Alright then. Looks like I have no choice.” You made a few hand signs and jumped backwards a few times to evade the attacks of Jiraiya’s jutsu. “Fire style: Flame Wall!”

Not even a second later, a humongous burst of fire separated you from him and the jinchuriki. You sprinted towards where they had gone, and immediately you recognized the black flame of Amaterasu licking at the edges of the hole blown in the wall. You bounded from the building, making your escape successfully.

You were quickly catching up to the two of them. You were fully intending on battling Itachi yourself out of pure rage, but stopped short when that damned mask came into view of your peripheral vision. You inhaled, cursing after. You gave up pursuing him and advanced towards Obito.

He instructed you to hold onto him and the two of you disappeared, coming back to form where the two of you sparred.

You allowed a yelp to fall from your lips as he slammed your head against the stone wall. “What the fuck was that?” He demanded. He slammed your head down again when you didn’t reply. “Answer me!”

You allowed yourself to fall to your knees and your head laid on the cool floor. Your head pounded now after being assaulted by him and your chest ached painfully.

“Uchiha-sama, I can't see Sasuke again,” you whispered. “I can’t. I wanted to kill Itachi after what he did. I still…” you looked up at Obito with a pained expression. “I still care for him.”

Obito lowered himself to your level in a squatting position.

“I thought you did away with emotions like that.”

“I thought so too, but…”

This was troublesome. You had lost focus again.

“The plan, (Name). If we succeed with this, Sasuke will never have to suffer again.”

Your emotions were getting the best of you. Things would quickly get out of control.

“Uchiha-sama, I’m so fucking tired.” You slumped over again. “I haven’t slept in a week. I need you to put me to sleep.”

Obito looked at you in a way that he was sure you would tease him for when you recovered - if you had been looking that is. Under normal circumstances, he would drag you up by your hair and teach you a hard and painful lesson. You weren’t supposed to heal Sasuke.

He figured seeing the two of them fight had been enough turmoil for one day. “Lift your head.” You were exhausted and you were emotional. Neither you nor him knew how to handle your emotions when they began to overwhelm you. It happened often when you went so long without rest.

You obeyed. His tomoe spun and immediately your eyes rolled back and you passed out.

He lifted you without issue and walked the hallways briskly in order to avoid being caught by Zetsu. He shut your door behind him and set you down on your bed. He didn’t bother to cover you, knowing that the nightmares you were soon to endure would heat your body plenty. Obito swiftly moved from your bed to the door, shooting your resting form one last look before leaving.

~~~~~~ 

Naka River.  

You came here often when Obito put you to sleep. There were times were you were forced to watch Shisui leap from the edge, voiceless and stuck. There were other times where your father jumped from the edge. Izumi. Sasuke. Your mother.

You tried to fight through it at first. You tried to yell, scream, run. But you were never able to. Your lack of ability to speak and move lasted until you would wake. You were forced to endure this for hours on end. Watching them cry, curse the world, curse you.

It was a cruel twist of fate, but it was the only way you could sleep nowadays.  

Oddly though, this time, no one was to be found at the edge of the cliff. Your gaze shot to the bushes directly ahead of you, and your brows furrowed at what you saw emerging from them.

A woman your height and body type came from the shrubbery, and it didn’t take long for the moonlight to illuminate her outfit and hair.

She wore ANBU gear and her hair was long, lucious, and thick, worn in a high ponytail. The mask she wore was blank, save for two holes to look from. Typically Konohagakure gave markings to their ANBU for heir masks, but for this one… it not only lacked markings, but it was shapeless.

You recognized it immediately.

You had worn it yourself. Your optics widened as slender fingers went to discard the mask. Your own face stared back at you, though it was free of the deep scars that yours had now. You also had bags under your eyes darker than the undershirt she wore due to lack of sleep.

“What is this?” She asked, stalking towards you slowly. “Is this some type of dream?”

It was your voice.

Her hand went to where you assumed she thought her weapon to be.

It wasn’t there.

She got closer to you, inspecting your appearance with scrutiny. She outstretched her hand to brush it by your face.

“Don’t fucking touch me,” You hissed. She jumped at the tone of your voice as if it were ten times louder than it had been.

You were slightly stunned at the sound of your own voice coming from your mouth. You had never been able to speak before when you were sent here.

“Sorry.” She spoke. “It’s just that… you look and sound like-”

“Like you?” You inquired, flexing your fingers and finding that you could move as well. She watched your every move, wary and curious.

“Yes.” She looked over to the edge of the cliff. “Why are we here?”

You could only speculate.

When Obito had cast this genjutsu on you in order for you to get some rest, something had happened. You knew why you were here, and you could only assume that your counterpart’s purpose was to take the place of the repetitive visions of your loved ones deaths. But you didn’t know how - or why.  

“This is a type of genjutsu,” you explained, careful not to divulge unnecessary information. “Were you put under one?”  

It felt odd conversing with yourself.

“Yes, by that masked man with the Sharingan.” She looked back to you. “Do you know anything about him?” You watched her attention flicker towards your attire once more.

You almost scoffed. What didn’t you know about him?  

“Yeah.”

“Are you a part of the Akatsuki?”

That confirmed your speculations. She had been sent here from an alternate timeline. Her time’s Obito must’ve used an identical genjutsu on her and sent her here, intentionally or not.

She was you.

How strange. The abilities of his Sharingan were limitless. 

“You could say that.” The two of you stood in silence, absorbing one another’s presence. You noticed that she had a tranquil aura about her, and that she was properly composed. Her posture was taut and she had not a hair out of place. Her armor appeared as if she cleaned it meticulously. “What were you doing before you were sent here?”

“I was battling that man with my… comrades. I mistakenly looked into his eye. I should’ve known better,” she mused as she once again averted her attention to the cliff.  

You wondered if she knew the significance of it.  

“I think it’s safe to assume that we are two sides of the same coin,” she spoke. You assumed it was largely to herself. She turned to face you again. “Except it appears that you’ve… taken a different path than I.”

You almost laughed. You stood before her, bloody and torn cloak, unevenly cut hair, and scarred face and body. She had perfect skin, immaculate clothing, and an even more perfect presence. As you took in her appearance, you noticed the glint on her left ring finger. Your hand shot out, grabbing it tightly and bringing it towards you to get a better look.

“What’s this?” You practically hissed.

She was still well composed as she answered you. “It’s a wedding ring.”

“Who are you married to?” The question flew from your lips before you could stop it. Your heart beat wildly as you waited impatiently for her to answer. Each second felt as if it were passing much too slowly.

“I’m married to Shunshin no Shisui of the Uchiha clan.”

You brows rose and you dropped her hand in surprise. “You’ve married him?”

You must look absolutely mad to her.

“Yes. Why is that such a surprise? Are you not… married to him?”

Judging by this being her second response of this nature, you assumed she had made thoroughly made the connection as well.

“He is dead in my time.”

This was the first significant expression of emotion you saw her express. Her brows furrowed and her lips parted.

“What? He died?”

“Yes,” you answered without missing a beat. “And so did Izumi. And our father.” That word slipped from your lips before you could stop it.

Our.

Her attention returned to your cloak. “That answers a few questions I had. How did they die?”

“Our father died of disease. Izumi was killed by Itachi and Shisui reportedly committed suicide.”

It was the first time she would stammer in front of you - and the last. “H-how is that possible? Itachi and Izumi are… Shisui wouldn’t… tou-san is…”

“Yeah. Shisui didn’t.”

“Who killed him?”

“Shimura Danzō.”

She looked at you with an expression on her visage that you couldn’t read.

“I’m sorry. I understand now why you wear that cloak. So much loss in such a little amount of time.” She approached you again, and you allowed her closer than you would most people. “You look to have been through so much.”

“Don’t pity me,” you practically spat, maintaining eye contact. She didn’t shy away from your fiery stare. “I have attained more power in two years than you could in decades. I have purpose. I-”

“I don’t pity you. I am just sorry that you’ve been through what you have.” She touched a particularly uneven bit of hair. “You are your own woman. I can’t convince you of anything. But I implore you to reconsider aligning with an organization like them.”

“They are just a stepping stone. My ultimate goal is eternal peace.” You wondered what she was thinking as she looked at you.

“I think you’re misconstruing Shisui’s will. He wouldn’t want you to pursue peace through a path of violence.” You felt anger bubble up from within you. You couldn’t identify why, but for her to speak for Shisui filled you with rage.

You knew she would know his will. After all, she was you. Maybe, after all these years, you had twisted it in order to fit your own rhetoric. Maybe after such a long time away from him, away from yourself, you had gotten lost.

“I hate you,” you found yourself saying. “I hate you and your perfect fucking face. Your immaculate uniform. Your hair!”

She lids fluttered shut and she settled her hand on your shoulder. “I am not nearly as perfect as I appear to you. However I do know that Shisui would not want you to follow this path.” You grit your teeth.

“You don’t know anything! I could kill you right now!”

“You might be stronger than me physically, but emotionally you’re fragile. You’re a few steps away from jumping off of that cliff yourself. You might not think so, but anyone on the outside can see it.”

“Don’t fucking tell me what I am!”

It was startling how quickly she moved. You hadn’t expected it. Her arms encased you in a tight embrace.

If you would’ve had access to a weapon, you would’ve plunged it through her throat. The unexpected physical contact forced your eyes to pool with wetness, and you pushed her away.

Your head was pounding. Your chest ached. Your fingers itched to curl into a fist and ram it into her perfect little face.

“Since we are one, I know you try to see the good in all others. But believe me when I say that the masked man has had all of the good sapped from him, likely due to his life circumstances. He is not a good man anymore. He will manipulate and use you. It’s what psychopaths like him do.”

“You do not know my master.” You watched as her body began to glow faintly. She looked down at her hands, turning them over and observing them.

“It looks like my world is calling me back. But please know… You’re not alone, (Name). I am always there. We are one. Do not forget who you are. Do not forget who he would want you to be.” She was a shadow now. “He would not want you to be this way.”

“Stop,” you pleaded, falling to your knees and clutching at your head. “Just fucking stop.”

The last of her form looked down on you with empathy.

Finally, she disappeared.

Finally, you were left alone.

Finally, the tears that had threatened to spill as she hugged you made their way down your cheeks.

It felt as if she had taken your unwavering resolve to complete the plan with her.

And you knew your master would be infuriated.

Chapter Text

Obito leaned over your resting form and allowed himself to take in the sight of every inch of your body. His sharingan trailed over each curve. It was then that he noticed your significant weight loss, and a scowl took his lips. He rested his knees on the edge of the bed as he went to look at you more thoroughly.

It was then that your eyes flickered open. He didn’t move.

Your eyes, though unfocused, swept down his face. He watched as your face contorted in confusion and what he assumed to be sorrow. “Shisui?”

It sounded like a plea of sorts, and he went to remind you that your lover was dead. Before he could do so, your arms wrapped around his neck and he was pulled into you.

His eyes widened as he felt your incredibly soft lips crash hard into him - a direct contrast to the softness of your skin. He was surprised at the feel of them. He had half expected them to be chapped or callused from the many times he’d broken the skin there, but they were smooth. Smoother than anything he had ever felt.

Obito tried to pull himself back once he’d regained his composure, but you didn’t relent. Your arms restrained him completely, and while he knew he could pull away if he’d really tried, he found himself void of the will to do it.

He had never been kissed before.

He felt wetness from your cheeks spill on to his own, and it was only then that he felt the urge to kiss you back. He hesitantly moved his lips against yours, and he was met with a hum of gratitude from you.

He had never felt hotter. His heart had never pounded so hard. He leaned his palms on the plush mattress as he leaned into you, returning the vigor in which you kissed him with. Your eyes were shut tight, though tears continued to spill from them.

After a few moments, he felt the need to break from you. He thought of Rin, and fleeting thoughts of your loyalty to Shisui passed through his mind. It wasn’t right for him to be doing this with you, not when you were so emotionally vulnerable. Not when the two of you knew your hearts had left with them. Not when you were so young. Not when your eyes told him of the fear you harbored for him that you tried so hard to hide.

He jerked your hands from around his neck and ripped himself - reluctantly - from your form. Your eyes shot open, and the earlier fog had cleared from them. Your expression sobered and quickly turned into one of acute fear. You recoiled and propelled yourself from the bed, falling in the process and landing at his feet.

“Get up,” he spoke, his voice as unaffected as ever. “You have many tasks to complete today. You’ve been out for twenty-seven hours.” You were trembling. He watched the pitiful display of regret rack your body with sobs as you pulled at your hair. His hands shot out to claim each of your wrists. “Stop that,” he ordered. “You’ve had long enough to stew in your misery. We have things to do. Time is against us.”

You looked up at him with swollen, dark eyes and he sighed, lowering himself to your level. “It was a lapse in judgement. You didn’t know that I wasn’t him.”

“That makes it worse,” you asserted. “I couldn’t tell the difference and that makes it.. With my mind being so hazy...” Obito grit his teeth. You were getting out of hand.

“Just forget about it. It never happened.”  

You wiped your tears on your blood-crusted uniform and grimaced at the feel of it. You shrugged it off, going to a stand on your shaky feet. He stood up effortlessly. “Uchiha-sama, why did you kiss me back?”

He began walking towards the door to your room and turned to face you as he reached the exit. “I don’t have an answer for you. Asking questions will only make things worse. Get your ass ready. You have a mission.” You sighed as he slammed the door shut as he left. You made your way to your bathroom, and as you walked in, you turned away from the mirror.

You couldn’t bear to look at yourself. Not after what the alternate universe version of you had said, and definitely not after kissing your master. You couldn’t possibly get any lower. Allying yourself with somebody your other self had considered questionable made you think. Could your master really be someone so evil? You didn’t believe that.

All he wanted was for everyone to live in a world without death, conflict, or war. All he wanted was to see the face of the woman he had loved - who’s name you did not know - once more. He didn’t want the world to feel the pain he had. He wanted to end the cycle, stop the death. Every death that came from your path was necessary, every crime was essential to the progression towards a peaceful world.

Your other self had failed to comprehend that. You had been so taken aback by her presence at the time that you hadn’t considered what you knew to be true - that the Eye of the Moon was the only path to true peace. Your old life could be restored if and only if the Tsuki no Me was enacted upon the world. And then, when it was, those who had lost their loved ones would soon have them returned to them.

Shisui had wanted a peaceful world, a peaceful life. He had stated multiple times that he would take the responsibility of protecting such happiness for those around him on his own shoulders. That was his Will. You were simply doing the same thing - you weren’t misguided - you were just doing as he did on a much larger scale.

You scrubbed at your skin with the cloth enough to leave red marks in its wake. You scratched at your scalp so vigorously that it bled while you poured shampoo and conditioner onto it. You picked at the flakes of blood from underneath your fingernails, eager to get rid of what was left of the evidence of your sins.

It was a mistake to kiss him, that you knew. It was completely unintentional. After waking from such a powerful genjutsu, your mind was hazy and you had genuinely confused him for your deceased lover. Your eyes hadn’t completely focused when you’d reached out for him, and once he’d peeled himself from you, you had realized that it wasn’t him. What stunned you was how enthusiastically he had returned your kisses, though he had been sloppy and rushed with them. Why he had kissed you back was truly beyond your understanding.

You’d always thought he was only tolerating you due to your unique Kekkei Genkai and how it could help further his plans. You had suspected that maybe he could possibly enjoy your company a bit, seeing as it was better than loneliness. You appreciated his, though more often than not it ended with you getting injured in some way.

It wasn’t like you minded though. You could fix bruises, broken bones, busted lips, and concussions. It was easy, it was second nature. You’d done it millions of times over by now. What unnerved you was how nonchalant he’d been over you kissing him. You’d expected him to choke you out, to stab you with one of your own weapons, or to break your nose.

He’d done none of those things and if his previous behavior was telling enough, he wasn’t planning to. He wanted to act as if it had never occurred. You could do that - you could do it easily, in fact. But you weren’t sure if you wanted to. The feeling of his lips, his tongue…

A cold shiver made its way down your spine and you submerged yourself into the hot water again.

You rinsed yourself off, glancing at the fogged up mirror and stepping from the bathroom, wrapping a towel around yourself. A new, clean cloak and uniform had been set on your mattress. You dried yourself off and put everything on.

As if he knew you were finished, Obito came inside your bedroom again. The look on his face gave it all away - he was angry.

“What’s wrong, Uchiha-sama? You look pissed.”

As he eyed you, he clenched his fists.

Fucking Nagato.

Your emotions were already spiraling out of control, and for Pein to suggest that you be set out with Itachi for the next mission seeing as you were both from the Leaf… well, you were going to fly off the deep end. He couldn’t necessarily protest much either, as the God made a good plea for the two of you rock be partnered together. While he was incorrect, Obito couldn’t interfere with this without making him suspicious. You were just going to have to deal with it.

Adding onto that, Pein was displeased with your meddling in other affairs. The Akatsuki had no personal interest in the work of prostitutes or their living conditions, and you had completely botched the “don’t get involved in other affairs” rule. You were supposed to focus on the mission at hand. Pein wanted to assign you to someone that wouldn’t allow you to get distracted. Zetsu was too lax. Obito honestly agreed.

Even if Obito was the true leader, he had to take Nagato’s opinion into account.  

“Your next mission is with Itachi.”

Your eyes widened and immediately he saw your body language teeter onto the edge of seething anger. “What the fuck did you just say?”

“Pein has given his orders. You have to follow them. Zetsu and Kisame are being sent out together.”

“I’m not going out with that piece of shit, Uchiha-sama. I’ve already fucking told you that!”

He was relieved to hear the venom drip from your words. It was a sign that you were returning to yourself.

“You have no fucking choice,” he responded, crossing his arms over his chest. He was holding his mask lackadaisically in two of his fingers. “Maybe you can get answers to some of your questions, (Name). Don’t be so quick to be belligerent.” You pointed your finger at him as fire burned in your eyes.

“Easy for you to fucking say! No one you gave a shit about was killed in the massacre, you asshole!” Obito found himself smirking as your impossible attitude returned. It was annoying, most of the time, but right now he found it comforting. You had been suffering for the past few days and he was started to get aggravated by your depressive state.

It bothered him more than he was willing to admit to himself.

“What’s the mission, anyways?” You asked as you started equipping various weaponry.

“An assassination mission in the Land of Snow. You’ll be leaving from here to meet up with Itachi in Kirigakure. The daimyo has enlisted our help to squash out a revolt that’s been rising up.”

“Why do I need to go with him? This doesn’t sound like some overly complex mission. There’s literally no fucking reason Kisame can’t go with him.”

“Because I fucking said so. Stop being so resistant. It was bound to happen eventually.” Obito tossed you a large pouch just as he had done so previously. “There’s some money so you can buy shit.” It was significantly heavier than the one before, and you scowled deeper once you realized the implications of that.

You’d be with him for longer than you were with Zetsu.

“Oh, and there’s something else,” Obito continued. “I’m going with you to Kirigakure due to some business I have there. But from there we’ll have to split off.”

You began grumbling to yourself as you started shoving things in a small bag that you’d kept around your waist for occasions like these. He caught a few complaints about you being fully capable of traveling alone, but he didn’t respond. When you looked back up at him, your eyes had the fiery vitality that usually had. There was a glint of something else, but he couldn’t place what it was.

“I make no promises that I won’t try to kill him.”

“You’ll fail at every turn. Let’s get going. Itachi’s already been dispatched from his previous location.”

You followed him from your door and out into the main room with the giant statue. “You know,” you started. “You always have shit to do but I never see you with anybody else. How come you don’t have a partner?” You inquired, placing the straw hat unique to your organization onto your head as Obito placed the mask onto his face.

“Because I don’t need one. I’m on an entirely different level than the rest of you.”

You scoffed. His arrogance never failed to get under your skin, but there was truth to his statement. You were unsure of just how powerful Itachi was at this point, but seeing as you would soon find out, you reserved your protests for a later time. You and Obito took off at an incredible speed and you looked up at the sky.

Your mind traveled back to the genjutsu. It was weighing heavily on you, and it was difficult to distract yourself from it. After far too long allowing it to swim about in your thoughts, you resolved to confront him on it.

“Uchiha-sama, your Kamui has the ability to travel between dimensions, correct?”

“Yes.”

“And that’s the jutsu you usually cast on me when I need sleep, right?”

“It’s a combination of things,” he responded, his eye shifting towards you. “Why?”

“Is it possible that your jutsu could’ve altered space time enough to the point where a person from an alternate timeline could’ve been sent to the same place I was at the same time?”

Obito frowned from behind his mask. That was an oddly specific question. “Why are you asking?”

“I’m just wondering.”

“That’s not something you typically ask me. What happened, (Name)?” It wasn’t to say that you were unintelligent, it was just that you tended to gravitate away from the functions of his jutsu arsenal. Not that the Sharingan was beyond your comprehension, but because it brought back painful memories for you.

You exhaled softly. “I have good reason to believe I met myself from an alternate timeline.” Obito’s gaze shifted towards you.

That was concerning. On top of you being paired with Itachi for this mission, even more so. He had initially wanted to keep you as far away from him as possible, but Pein had other plans. Between making it known that you were alive to the world in the presence of the other Uchiha to an isolated mission, he was making it hard to for Obito to keep an eye on you. He wondered if he was doing it to spite him.

“What of it?”

Truthfully, it was something Obito was unaware that he could do.

“I think she was sent to the same place by you from her timeline. I don’t think either of you anticipated our meeting.” He scoffed at you. Of course he hadn’t. He wouldn’t have done it otherwise.

“What happened there?” He inquired, intrigued.

“She was still allied with the Leaf. She was very obviously not as strong as I am now, though she was still a part of the ANBU black ops. She was… trying to persuade me not to follow you.”

There it was. He was afraid of that.

“And she was married. To him.”

He half expected that. He went to read your body language and found that while you were visibly upset, you weren’t overly so. It relieved him to find that you had reign over your emotions again. Sleep did wonders for you, though it was as restless as it was. He would be sure to tell you to try to sleep as much as possible with Itachi. He couldn’t risk the younger Uchiha shaking your will.

“There are many different timelines,” he spoke. “But they are all filled with variations of strife. If you would’ve asked her how many of her loved ones had died, I’m sure she would’ve had an answer. She was striving to be a hero in a story that can only end in loss.”

You said nothing.

“We will be the world's salvation.”

“I know, Uchiha-sama.”

Your answer slightly surprised him, but nevertheless, he was grateful for it. He had been concerned.

“I want to prove her wrong. I want to show her that I made the right decision when I chose to join you.”

The look of determination on your face set him at ease.

You wouldn’t leave him.

You couldn’t. He wouldn’t let you.

Not when the two of you were going to save the shinobi world together.

~~~~~~

Itachi recognized the expression on your face the second he saw it.

You were seething. There were traces of your old self in your face, but for the most part, you were new. You looked different, from the scar on your eyebrow to the calyces on your knuckles. You approached him with a clenched jaw and a kunai in hand. He was prepared to deflect any attack you might throw at him.

“Itachi,” you started.

“(Name)-san.”

“Don’t use those bullshit honorifics with me, Itachi. We’re beyond those at this point.”

A few of his long, dark strands tickled his cheeks as a rough breeze blew. He watched as you wrestled with yourself, conflicted on what to say next.

“I’ve been told that you… didn’t kill him.”

So he had told you then.

“No.”

“Was it suicide? Or was it Shimura Danzō?”

“Both,” he conceded. “He would have died regardless.”

“And Izumi?” Itachi’s thin brows furrowed at the mention of his former lover. You hadn’t missed the action, and your grip tightened on your kunai knife. “I will be able to tell if you’re lying.”

“I will tell you. But only on the condition that you answer a question that I have in return,” Itachi offered, never moving from his position in front of you.

“Whatever. Just tell me,” you asserted, raising your kunai to his throat. “I don’t have enough patience to play your stupid games.”

You knew you couldn’t kill him. You knew that the knife you were threatening him with ultimately meant nothing. But it got your point across - that you weren’t going to fuck around when it came to him.

“I modified the Tsukuyomi so that she could live out the entirety of her life happily in a fraction of a second. The strain on her body and mind by being affected by such a jutsu was too much for her. She passed away in the process.”

Your brows furrowed in a dramatic fashion, but you kept the knife at his throat. “Why did you do that?” It wasn’t as brutal as you’d expected. In fact, it sounded like he’d almost spared her in comparison to what he’d done to the others. You wondered what his motivation was after all.

He hadn’t anticipated you asking that. In fact, he hadn’t expected you to even inquire those things of him in the first place.

He placed his fingers gently on the forearm of the arm that had the weapon pointed at him and guided it from his neck. “The eradication of my clan is more complex than can be explained in a mere moment.” You allowed him to lead your arm to your side.

He didn’t know if he could tell you. He would need to use this mission to judge where your true allegiances were, and if he could sway you otherwise should they not be in the right place.

“I answered your question. Now you must answer mine.”

“Fine,” you responded, finding his response to your question sufficient.

It wasn’t ideal. Truly, it wasn’t. You had many other questions that you had to ask, but you could still feel your master’s presence so now wasn’t the time. You knew he’d chastise you for conversing too much with someone that wasn’t him or Zetsu. He’d done it many times over.

It did settle you knowing that Izumi hadn’t died in a painful manner.

“What is Uchiha Madara to you?”

You didn’t miss a beat.

“He is my master and my salvation.”

He was able to mask his shock in the wake of your statement.

“How?”

You scoffed. “The story of my allegiance to him is more complex than can be explained in a mere moment,” you spoke, mocking his earlier sentiment. He ignored your display of blatant disrespect.

“Will you be capable of working alongside me?”

“Yeah,” you responded. “Just don’t piss me off.”

He looked towards the north of where you were standing.

“If you’re ready, let’s just go and get this over with. I don’t want to be around you any longer than necessary.” You shoved the knife back in your pouch and adjusted your hat. As you felt his eyes on you, you felt a wave of self consciousness crash over you.

He watched your eyes shift towards the left. He followed your gaze.

The remnants of Kamui disappeared from where the two of you were looking.

So he’d been there the whole time, then.

Itachi looked back to you.

“Come on, Itachi. Let’s get out of here.”

It seemed that something more than what you’d said was occurring between Madara and you. He typically wouldn’t involve himself in the affairs of his underlings, nor would he personally escort them to their destinations.

As far as Itachi was aware, he had no business in Kirigakure. Unless he was manipulating the Mizukage currently, but he typically had a clone currently doing that for him. It was possible that he was relieving the clone to retake his place, but…

It was evident that he was following you. He recalled when Madara had chased you so diligently when you’d stormed from the room before. While it was evident that you were his student of sorts, he suspected something more. Whether or not that involved emotions remained to be seen, but it was uncharacteristic of Madara to get so personally involved in the affairs of his pawns.

And it unsettled Itachi greatly that you were the subject of Madara’s great interest. There were things that you knew and things that you were capable of that could be used by him and subsequently affect those you had previously cared for due to your involvement with him. He just needed to convince you to see that.

The two of you left for The Land of Snow without another word.

Chapter Text

It had been four days since the last time you slept. You were becoming increasingly agitated as the days went by, and being on the edge of assaulting Itachi constantly was bad for your already fragile mental health. He was mostly silent, but even being in his presence pissed you off. Despite that, traveling with him wasn’t much different than going anywhere with Obito, save for the fact that he didn’t physically attack you if you irritated him. And you probably had, by now. You’d insulted him more than once.

You’d been siphoning poison into your senbon when you realized that you’d had enough; you’d nearly pricked your own finger. Not to mention… Your head was constantly pounding, your mood was as sour as it could possibly be, and your instincts were starting to dull. It was time to ask Itachi to put you under a genjutsu.

You stood, making your way to the tree that Itachi was sitting under. As you approached, his blood red eyes opened. You averted your eyes, embarrassed to be asking a favor of him. “My sleep deprivation is starting to affect my abilities,” you started, choosing your words carefully. “I wouldn’t be asking you to do this if the circumstances were different, but I can’t continue on like this.” His thin, black brow rose in curiosity. “Put me to sleep.”

Itachi did nothing but stare for a moment until you sighed and sat down in front of him. You weren’t going to beg. You had too much pride for that.

“How would you like for me to help you, (Name)-san?”

“Genjutsu.” He stared at you, unmoving.

“You are asking me to put you underneath a genjutsu?”

How he’d gotten even more emotionless and monotone over the years… you didn’t know. You had no clue that was even possible. He was more unreadable than he’d ever been.

“Yes.” It pained you to be even a semblance of polite to him. Your words came from gritted teeth. Your fingers were digging into your palms. He could tell you were displeased to even be asking this of him. You had to be desperate if you were asking him for a favor without curse words or insults.

“I see.”

Tension filled the atmosphere between the two of you. You almost groaned aloud and walked away from him, but when you blinked next, you immediately felt your strength leave your body. It was completely unlike Madara’s genjutsu where you were out immediately, and you were able to feel a tingling sensation as your body fell to the ground in front of him.

The red and black his cloak blurred together as your eyes fluttered shut. Darkness overcame you and you inhaled shakily out of fear of what was to come during your blackout.

 

~~~~~~

A gasp was torn from your lips when you opened your eyes. The individual in the dark cloak made their way through the foliage and you sprinted off after them. It didn’t take you long to notice that your movements weren’t making any noise, and your footsteps had no effect on the terrain below. You continued to inspect your surroundings as you trailed after them, noticing the familiar look to the trees that outlined the path. 

This was Konohagakure. You were sure of it. You’d spent many hours during your adolescence in this very forest, training with Shisui and Itachi. The thought made your skin crawl as you copied every turn and leap the person in front of you made. Soon enough, you were inside the village. The breeze that tickled your cheeks felt almost too real as you leapt from the roof of someone’s house and continued to run after that strange person. 

You knew better at this point than to avoid it. Clearly, you were meant to follow them during your time in this genjutsu. Being inside Konoha made bile rise to your throat, but you fought the feeling. You didn’t know if this person could see you like your other half did in your last experience. It was an unnerving thought, and you were hoping that they couldn’t.  

Your brows furrowed as you recognized the path they were taking. You grit your teeth, hoping, praying that this was going to be anything but what you thought it was going to be. You were filled with dread as they stopped in front of the familiar bar, those colorful curtains giving everything away immediately if the location hadn’t. The cloaked figure looked over their shoulder, directly behind them and right at you. Your eyes widened as you recognized the person immediately.

 Shimura Danzō. 

He looked to the left, then to the right, surely checking if he’d been followed. You were overcome with the urge to lunge for him, to wrap your fingers around his frail looking neck, to stab a kunai knife into his jugular repeatedly. You were broken from your homicidal thoughts when he took a step inside, and you followed, already feeling tears prick at your exhausted eyes.  

You knew what this was.  

You followed him as he hastily moved up the stairs, and you watched as he stopped in front of what used to be your room. A gasp was torn from your lips when he opened the door, sullying the metal with his bloodstained hands. The desire to kill him came back tenfold as he took a step inside, continuing the trek over to the bed once he’d spotted the figure covered in blankets.  

You let out a cry of anguish and fell to your knees as he peeled back the thin blankets to reveal a young Sasuke. Danzō cursed lowly underneath his breath, taking a step back. It seemed that Sasuke was not his intended target.  

As the young boy stirred, Danzō abruptly jerked to life, covering the boy’s face with his own pillow and pressing down. You watched as Sasuke struggled futilely, childish voice screaming out for you, for your father.  

You were in pieces. Your heart nearly stopped as his struggling got weaker, warm tears running down your scarred cheeks. Your fingers were clutching your black cloak tightly. He was stopping. Sasuke wasn’t fighting back anymore.  

Tou-san !” You found yourself screaming. “Tou-san! Please, save Sasuke!”  

As if on cue, your father burst through the half-closed door. He rushed towards Danzō, crashing into him and rearing his fist back, pummeling him repeatedly. You rushed over to what had been your bed - the one you shared with Sasuke after the massacre and before your father’s death - and lowered your head to his chest to search for a heartbeat. You let out a shaky sigh in relief, finding his heart rate. You turned your attention back to the still brawling men on the ground.  

Danzō was on top of your father, landing punch after punch and you let out another pitiful gasp. You ran over to them, attempting to rip Danzō off of him, but your arms fell through his shoulders. You screamed in a mixture of frustration and grief as you came to realize that this was how your father truly passed.  

Danzo’s aged fingers wound around Hiro’s neck and you fell to your knees again, the wail that escaped your lips shattering your own hearing.  

“Fuck!” You screamed, gripping your hair tightly as you watched your father struggle to remove Danzō’s grip. “Tou-san! Tou-san, please!” Hiro fought, scraped, bit, but he was no longer the fighter he once was, and that was evident. 

“You will not get away with this,” your father sputtered out, his hands still prying at Danzō’s. “You will be forced to atone for what you have done.” Danzō said nothing, only pushed down harder on Hiro’s neck.  

As Sasuke had done before, he stopped struggling. His hands fell to the side, and his head followed. The sparkles in his eyes were fading, but they were now trained on you. “(Name)...” he murmured. Your hoarse throat ached as you groaned your father’s name, still sobbing. “Forgive me.”  

You howled as the rest of his body went limp. Danzō lingered for a second more before standing, wiping his hands off on his cloak. He looked back to Sasuke, sauntering over to the boy and removing the pillow from his face. He went to go toss it to the side when he heard the sound of footsteps ascending the stairs. He was out of the window faster than you could stand, and as you continued to kneel in the midst of your mourning, your surroundings spun in a way similar to how they would during your masters Kamui.  

You were back on the forest floor. The cloaked figure that you now knew to be Danzō stalked his way through throngs of trees, and you bellowed out Itachi’s name. “Wake me up!” You blubbered. “For fucks sake, wake me up!”  

You waited.  

There was nothing.  

You sobbed in lamentation until your sniveling became whimpers, and finally, what felt like hours later, you quieted. Danzō was in the same spot as before, and you knew - you just knew - that until you followed him, until you gathered what you had to here… you would not wake up. Until you got yourself together, until you were strong enough, rested enough to fight this genjutsu, you couldn’t wake. So you dragged yourself up, cursing Danzō, swearing to yourself that you’d herald his end, and you followed him.  

You endured the scene fifty-two more times.  

Madara had told you once that love only brought pain. You’d agreed, back then, but it resonated more with you now. While watching Shisui, your mother, or Izumi throw themselves from a cliff was painful, nothing was more grueling than this - because you knew it was real. It had happened. Your father had died protecting Sasuke, who hadn’t even been his original target. It had been you. He was trying to kill you.  

Through the soul-shatteringly painful repetitions, you knew much more than you had previously. You learned not only that Danzō had wanted to kill you, but that it had been Hiruzen that had come to find Hiro’s dead body. You had also found out that Sasuke had lost consciousness, so you weren’t sure if he’d retained memory of that situation at all. More than anything, you’d learned that Shimura Danzō was a dead man, and that the second you lay your eyes on him would be his last.  

With that lingering in your mind, everything faded to white.  

~~~~~~

 

You woke with a start, immediately drawing a kunai from your pouch and jolting up with it in hand. Itachi was less than three feet away from you, and you immediately shuffled away from him, your heart beating erratically. He looked at you, and you inhaled sharply as you watched his red fade into brown.

“Whose memories were those?” You demanded, your voice laced with hostility. You gave him hardly a second before you spoke again, “Answer me, fuck!”

“I don’t know what you are talking about,” he answered, monotone.

“Don’t fucking play with me,” You panted, still reeling from the jutsu. “What genjutsu did you even use? What were you trying to do?!” You demanded, hopping to your feet. You were running off of adrenaline and rage, stalking towards him and pressing the kunai to his throat as you’d done before. “Answer me, Itachi! I just witnessed my father’s death over fifty fucking times! I deserve to know!”

His perfect mask cracked just the slightest bit as his brows knitted together. “I did not use Tsukiyomi.”

“Then what was it?!” You were practically screaming now, your anger towards him finally making you crack. “You bastard! What kind of game do you think this is?”

“You are weak to genjutsu. Do not blame me for your own shortcomings,” Itachi countered, his fingers wrapping around your wrist, pulling the weapon from his throat. “If you witnessed your father’s death, then it is from the person involved.”

“When the fuck did you see Shimura Danzō?” You demanded, attempting to push the knife back to his throat. You watched as his lips down turned.

“You’re testing my patience.” He flicked his wrist and before you knew it, the kunai was flying from your grasp and you were weaponless. Still brimming with rage, you lurched forward, reaching for his throat.

As if it were child’s play, he shifted, pressing you against the tree that he had been sitting at. He twisted your arms around your back, drilling his other hand into the back of your head as he pushed you - hard - into the bark of the tree. You briefly thought about how you’d recently been in this same position with your master, although that time you’d been standing.

“You are making this unnecessarily difficult for yourself, (Name)-san. Threats of violence will not get you what you want from me.” He felt you go limp in his hold. Itachi retracted from you as if he’d been burned. As you shifted towards him again, you noticed his eyes were trained on you intently.

You’d been conditioned to submit to the person that had you in a hold.

He’d noticed that immediately. It caught him off guard, and the way you’d so easily taken him pushing you into the tree like that made him stop. It was a tell-tale sign of abuse, no doubt by Madara’s hands. His fingers still burned from where he’d touched you. Shame welled up in his chest as a result of this - you’d expected for him to follow up his attack with more punishment. You were used to that.

He wondered when you’d felt a gentle touch last. He wouldn’t have been surprised if it had been Shisui.

“Stop looking at me. Just answer my goddamn question,” you shot in his direction. The aura he was emitting now would have doused your fire if you weren’t so accustomed to the consequences of spouting off at your master.

“It is not any of your concern,” he voiced, his tone laced with warning. You disregarded the hidden meaning and instead moved to a stand, taking a fighting stance.

“How long have you known that Shimura Danzō killed my father?!” You demanded, drawing a few senbon.

It was then that you noticed - your surroundings were different. It became evident to you that he’d been traveling while you were out, most likely carrying you as he did so. Your already short temper flared at the realization. You weren’t a fucking rag doll, you didn’t need to be carried.

Itachi sensed your rising anger with every passing second. There was nothing he could do, though. It was beyond his control. You were different - you’d turned into someone he didn’t know, possibly couldn’t ever hope to. Your walls were so high; naturally, though, after all that had happened. It was regrettable that you had to find out the truth in such a manner.

“Only recently,” he explained. “During my brief visit to Konohagakure. He fled from me.” You gripped your senbon tighter, gnashing your teeth together.

“What a fucking coward,” you spat. You sheathed your senbon once more. “But you fought him, then?”

“Hardly.”

You looked up at the sky. “How far away are we now?”

“Days. You were unconscious for 19 hours.”

Your eyes widened. He’d been carrying you for… a long while, then. Despite your uneasiness at the idea that Itachi had been carrying you, it wasn’t on the forefront of your mind. Shimura Danzō was, and your resolve to kill him felt like a painful burning sensation to you, something that could only be doused by the feeling of his blood seeping through the gaps in your fingers.

You looked at Itachi as he stared back at you, absorbing his features. In a way, all Uchiha men looked alike. They all had well-chilled jawlines and high cheekbones to match. They all had nearly perfectly shaped lips and smooth skin. Itachi was not an exception to this, though his pale skin was marred by the dark circles underneath his eyes. Beyond that, though, he was flawless. He’d grown to be much more handsome than you expected.

“I will take watch while you rest,” you found yourself saying. “Something tells me you’re going to collapse of exhaustion one day.”  To your surprise, Itachi didn’t protest. He simply leaned his head back on the nearest tree and closed his eyes.

After a few minutes, the thought of killing him in his sleep started plaguing your mind. Over and over again it would taunt you until you were crawling towards him on all fours, kunai in your dominant hand. He was asleep, and you figured it was a deep sleep due to the fact he didn’t wake while you hovered over him. You traced the outlines of his face with your eyes.

Suddenly, the image of his younger self laughing flashed right before your eyes. You were assaulted with memories of him - it was as if they were flooding back in an attempt to stop you from murdering him. Even still, you rose the kunai to strike him, your chest uncomfortably tight as you struggled to bring yourself from your past.

You were failing. Memories of him training with you, giving you advice, eating with you, walking, talking, listening to your problems… it all came back so vividly, it was like you were reliving it. As your gaze switched to your knife, you felt overcome with a feeling of nausea. You jumped up, sprinting as far away from him as possible, and then you puked.

After a few choice curse words, you began gathering sticks and other materials needed for a fire. You searched for anything edible as well, and soon enough, you were sitting comfortably in front of a fire and munching on some fish you’d managed to swipe out of the nearest river.

You didn’t know why, but you couldn’t take your eyes off of Itachi. You were grateful he was asleep, but…

Why did you feel the urge to look at him so much..?

Chapter Text

Itachi was ashamed of himself. You were the sole factor that he hadn’t taken into account as he plotted to end the conflict between the Uchiha and the village. You had been woven so deeply in his lifestyle back then, but yet, he’d neglected to properly plan anything for you. He’d been despairing so deeply over Shisui’s passing that you had escaped his mind. 

A tragic string of events that he thought he ended in one catastrophic night was only elongated by your fiery desire for revenge. You seemed to have an unbridled hatred towards something - maybe someone - it was a hatred he didn’t completely understand. More than anything, he could tell that you were angry. Angry and suffering. 

You worked like a machine, he’d observed. You never slept, hardly ate, and only drank enough to avoid dehydration. You continued to toy with vials, vials he knew that were filled with toxins that he was sure could kill him with one drop. You imbued them into each of your weapons. Every time you did, he was forced to recall a conversation between the two of you many years ago in which you told him that using poisons was a crude way to fight and that you’d only do so if absolutely necessary. 

Your morals had changed. He could see that much. Before, you would’ve never allied yourself with someone like Madara or even thought about killing with poisons. You’d fallen from grace, and you had done so with a deranged grin and a cacophonous laugh. 

He deserved this, he realized. If he hadn’t been so caught up in his own pitiful despair, he could’ve saved you - could’ve salvaged the clan, even. There were ways that it could’ve been done. He thought of the hypotheticals everyday now, with every glance at your scarred cheeks and empty eyes. Whatever Madara had done to you had been so disgustingly successful that it made him sick. You’d never been the happiest person, but you’d been content. He remembered your boisterous laughs, the sweet callings of his and Shisui’s names after a rough and electrifying sparring session. 

God was punishing him for forgetting you. Watching the results of your descent into madness was harrowing and he felt his soul blacken with every moment he spent in your presence. 

Minimal conversation kept him sane, and he suspected it did you as well. You refused to look him in the eye. You’d keep your eyes fixated on his chest when it was absolutely necessary to speak to him. 

He thought he’d seen the worst of you during your travels, but he was wrong. So horrifyingly wrong. 

He had never doubted your abilities. Not once. But now as you stood over the mangled bodies of those who had tried to revolt against the daimyo, he doubted your sanity. It had been an absolute blood bath. It was worse than when he worked with Kisame. You were drenched in it, head to toe, with an expression that he could only describe as disgust. 

The two of you had been traveling for days and the mission was over in hours. As he watched you sheathe your weapons with crimson dripping down the katana you kept on your hip beneath your cloak, he turned his head towards the moon. He swore that it was dyed red at that moment, but as he blinked, the crimson faded. He felt a stream of blood escape his eye. 

“You overused those eyes,” you stated matter of factly. “You both always overused those eyes.” You stepped over a dismembered corpse, one of the many casualties resulting from your brief battle, and neared Itachi’s form. He’d participated himself, but you had decimated the majority of their forces. He’d never before seen you use your kekkei genkai, but after you had, he realized just how wrong his speculations about it had been in the past. 

“Your kekkei genkai,” he started, “What exactly is it?” 

You looked towards him, but looked at his chest. “I’m not going to tell you. I haven’t decided whether or not I’m going to kill you yet, so telling you anything about my bloodline limit would be-“

“You won’t be able to kill me,” Itachi countered. “You’re powerful, but you can’t reach me yet.” 

“Do you want to test that theory?” You retorted, a snarl on your lips. “Because I’ve been itching to see how well you can keep up with me with your arrhythmia. I can fight for days , Itachi. I can outlast you.”

He was momentarily struck by the fact that you’d noticed his irregular heartbeat. He then pushed the feeling aside, settling on the conclusion that Madara had trained you in more than just combat. He must’ve had you hone your sensory skills as well. 

“It would be over in a matter of seconds.” 

You moved quickly. His red eyes had long since faded to brown, so he hadn’t caught your movement before felt a sharp prick. It hadn’t yet broke skin. He knew from the feeling of the small metal on his neck that it was one of your poisoned senbon. “Come again?” 

“Go ahead and try it,” he spoke easily, as if there wasn’t a weapon infused with an incredibly lethal substance at his neck. “You know it’s futile. My body is immune to most poisons that your father passed down to you.” 

“It’s not my fathers. I made this one myself. I designed it to attack the lungs first. Then the heart. You’ll go into cardiac arrest before you can even beg for the antidote.” You were eerily calm, not a trace of vicious anger in your eyes. He came to the conclusion that he much preferred you threatening his life when you were enraged. The words sent regret through every nerve in his body when coming from your lips as you wore an expression much too similar to your neutral face from back then. 

You took the needle from his neck and put it back. He watched as your bloodstained hands trembled slightly as you did. “As much as you piss me off, I think I’ll leave you to Sasuke. He deserves to kill you more than I do.” 

You began to walk away from the now satin sheet of snow, tainting the rest of the pristine white pink with the bottom of your shoes. Itachi followed you. 

“Since we’re done here, let’s collect the second half of our funds and go. I don’t want to be here with you any longer than I have to be.” 

“There is something I need to do.” 

You didn’t even slow your cadence, your slightly heavy breaths curling around your head as you walked. “Then go do it. Anything beyond this mission has nothing to do with me.” 

“I need assistance,” he responded, walking after you. 

“Go fuck yourself.” 

You felt the slightest shift in his chakra and hastily drew your katana, raising it in a defensive motion as your body whirled around. There was a loud clang! as his kunai struck against the metal of your blade. 

His eyes were crimson again, spinning into the mangekyō. You grit your teeth and pushed harder against his weapon. 

“You’re going to come with me,” he responded, a deadly threat practically dripping from every word. 

“Or what? You’ll torture me?” You mocked. “You can’t do anything to me with those eyes that hasn’t been done in reality.” 

You watched as his eyes narrowed. “Regardless. Do you want to break your already fragile conscious even more? I assure you, with how broken you are now, you will shatter after even half a second in my Tsukuyomi.” 

“Oh, Itachi… I’m sure Shisui would just love to hear that if he were here.” 

Despite the fact that he had long since abandoned the path he walked with his late friend, your words shook him to his core. What would he say if he could see the two of you now..? 

He didn’t want to, but he knew he had to. There was no other way. He’d allowed you to get away with far too much. 

“Have it your way,” he growled. “Tsukuyomi.” 

Your eyes widened and you crumpled to the ground not even a moment later. He watched as your katana cascaded down to the snow on the ground. You clutched at your chest, heaving, sputtering, hardly keeping yourself from collapsing. You let out a loud curse before you fell face first into the hard, compact snow. 

“Fuck you, Itachi!” You spat, gasping for breath. You slammed your right fist down into the cold white blanket beneath you, desperately trying to keep your consciousness intact. “You piece of shit! You disgusting, pathetic excuse for an Uchiha! You will regret putting your hands on me! He would hate you, Itachi! Shisui would hate you for what you’ve done!” You were hyperventilating, screaming on top of your lungs, cursing him over and over. 

It was a stark contrast from what you’d been just moments before. It was a disturbing sight, watching your crumble and wail and grip unsuccessfully to the bloodied snow for purchase. Itachi wondered just how true your words would’ve been if Shisui were here now. 

He turned from you, clenching his fists and gnashing his teeth together. He couldn’t stand watching you anymore. You were absolutely losing it, clutching your head and thrashing. It was pitiful, sickening. You had been as cool as the winter air just mere moments ago, but now…

He closed his eyes and looked to the heavens, small, soft flakes falling onto his burning, aching lids. “She has fallen too far.” He heard you let out a wretched sob and ground his teeth harder. The words he spoke next were so silent that he’d missed them himself due to the sound of your loud curses. “What do I do, Shisui? Can I even..?” 

As usual, there was no response, no sign from his deceased friends spirit. He was brought back to the world by a particularly emotionally charged wail. 

“Uchiha-sama!” You screeched. “Uchiha-sama, come get me! Wherever you are, please!

Itachi whirled around, forcing himself to face you as you lifted yourself to your knees. “Madara will not save you. Get up.” He wrapped his arms underneath your arms and lifted you to a stand. You let out a distressed yelp and his fingers grasped your shoulders tighter. You stumbled forward as soon as he let go, and he stabilized you by placing a hand on your shoulder. “Madara is not your salvation!” 

“Don’t fucking touch me! Only he can touch me!” You screeched, drawing a kunai with a shaky hand and clumsily thrusting it towards him. He grabbed your wrist, struggling to hold you back. The weapon was inches from his throat. He doubted your have mercy this time around, as you’d completely lost it. If you managed to gather your composure enough to stop shaking and regain your full strength, he’d be in trouble. “I should kill you! I should kill you like you killed Izumi! I should turn my back on you like you did Shisui! I should help Sasuke bleed you dry, you-“

Your wild eyes lost their focus, a result of his sharingan boring into your eyes. In the midst of your fanatic rambling, you’d forgotten not to look in his eyes. Your body fell limp, crashing into the unforgiving sleet. Itachi exhaled heavily, expelling the overwhelming emotions that had started to bubble up from within. 

He gazed about the tundra dressed in white, trying to calm his buzzing nerves. From the way you lie, you looked much too similar than the corpses that littered the battlefield. He found himself more fatigued than normal, your outbursts taking all of whatever energy he had left after his mangekyō use. Not to mention the cold air, which made it more painful for him to breathe. He couldn’t stay here long, but with you unconscious, he’d have to carry you again.

He was hesitant to the idea of physical contact with you regardless of the fact you were unconscious. Your rapid changes in mood were wearing on him. He much preferred it when you avoided his eyes and didn’t try to make conversation. 

Despite the internal battle, he knelt to the ground to scoop you up in his arms. The exertion of the previous battle on top of using his eyes on you had his lungs burning. 

You’d always been particularly weak to genjutsu. The fact that you’d held on for so long after his Tsukiyomi had been a surprise to him. Your will was as strong as ever, it was just different. You were different. 

And it was all because he had forsaken you and God had forsaken him. 

He trudged through the snow, the blood on your clothes sleeping through his cloak. He was struggling to breathe now more than ever, and after a grueling half hour, he’d made it to an inn. The keeper gave him an odd look, but the money he’d given her after she’d thankfully allowed him to place you in a room stilled her questions, verbalized and internal. 

He’d paid for two separate rooms. He knew that he couldn’t be around you in his current state of being or state of mind. You brought every regret of his to the surface during your episode. He wanted to help you now more than ever, but with Madara’s talons so deeply embedded into your heart, he didn’t know if he could. You calling out for Madara had caused fears that he hadn’t had before rushing to the surface. He wasn’t sure who you were referring to after you’d told him not to touch you - was it Shisui or Madara? 

How had this happened? He should’ve properly protected you. You’d done nothing but love Shisui and support Itachi and he repaid you by abandoning you. Of course he’d been drowning in grief and anxiety at the time, but that didn’t excuse the fact you’d been completely overlooked by him. He’d allowed Madara to manipulate you. This was his fault. It was completely his fault. 

Itachi couldn’t find the strength to clean himself of the blood you’d left on his skin. He shed his cloak, locked the door, and collapsed into the bed, breathing heavily. He closed his stinging eyes and willed himself to sleep. 

The dream - or recalled memory - that he had as he slept made him wish he hadn’t done so at all. 

 

~~~~~~

 

“Itachi-san, you’re going to bend the stems. Relax your grip.”  

Itachi did. You gave him a soft smile and gently patted his shoulder as you passed by him. “Forgive me,” he apologized. “I was lost in my head.”   

“As you typically are,” you responded, snickering to yourself. You bent over a patch of white lilies. “But you need to be more careful. These flowers are for Izumi-chan, so you should be as careful as possible.”   

Itachi let out a small sigh. “Of course. It was my mistake.”   

“I’m thinking that maybe I should pick some for Shisui as well,” You mused aloud. “I think he would like that.”   

Itachi hummed in agreeance. Shisui really would. His older cousin hardly ever stopped talking about you. Even in the letters he sent while he was away, he was always asking about you, talking about your accomplishments. You did similarly.   

Itachi watched as a soft breeze tousled your hair. A gentle smile touched his lips as you looked back up to him, scissors in hand. You handed him three of the lilies. “Those will work well with the red roses,” you educated him. “We spent far too long on flower arrangements at the academy. It was a bore, but I guess it’s coming in handy now.”   

“I’m very grateful for your help,” Itachi reminded you for the fourth time. “I am still unsure as to how I am to navigate intimate relationships.”   

You grinned at him. “It’s alright. That’s what I’m here for.”   

He stayed with you during your search for the appropriate flowers for Shisui. You decided on pink and red ranunculus for your bouquet, and while you were kneeled over and carefully cutting the stems, Itachi watched with a content look on his usually blank face.   

He appreciated your company more than he did most - especially in moments like these. You were a wonderful friend and had finally begun to apply yourself to your training, quickly becoming a kunoichi worth fearing. Itachi had always thought you to be a wonderful friend and talented shinobi, but now you were blooming right before his eyes, just as beautifully as the flowers that surrounded the two of you now. As the sun was setting, Itachi managed to briefly sneak away from you and clumsily pick off a single red carnation.   

The two of you returned to the Yamanaka flower shop and paid for your respective bouquets. Inoichi typically didn’t allow others to pick from his field, but considering your father was a good friend of his, he allowed you - and by extension, Itachi - to do so. Inoichi wrapped them in papers and the two of you left. Itachi walked you to the shop that you and your father resided in. You two stopped before the curtains and you bowed to him respectfully. “Thank you for spending the day with me. I’m very glad that I have you, especially when Shisui is away.”  

He would be returning tomorrow. You and Itachi both managed to get the past two days off and spent the majority of them together because Izumi had been busy with the force.   

“Of course,” Itachi spoke. He held out the light carnation to you. “This one is for you.”   

A serene smile spread across your lips. “Oh, Itachi-san! Thank you!” You took it from him. “These are some of my favorites! A lot of people get dark and light red carnations confused. Do you know the difference?”   

Itachi shook his head.   

“Dark red means love and affection.” Itachi’s eyes widened by a small fraction, his pale cheeks reddening in the slightest.   

“I…”  

You laughed. “Don’t worry, this one is a light red carnation. This one means admiration, which could really entail a few different things.”  

Itachi’s face was still a light pink shade.   

“You’re alright, Itachi-san. I wouldn’t take it in that way. I was only teasing you. I know that you love Izumi-chan.”   

He let out a soft breath. “Forgive me. I didn’t know.” He then smiled. “However, I do admire you.”   

It was your turn to blush. “A-ah, I mean, I haven’t really done anything that great…”   

“You’ve done plenty of amazing things.”   

“Not nearly as many things as you or Shisui. In comparison I’m just-“  

“Don’t compare yourself to us. We have many different factors that contribute to our success

 that you don’t have. Not only that but you-“  

Your face flushed. “I… I really have to go, Itachi-san! My dad probably needs help with the patrons, so..!” You bowed deeply. “Thank you again for your time today!”   

Itachi let himself laugh. Modest as always. “Alright. Goodnight, (Name)-san.”   

When you rose your head, a wide smile lifted the lips of your flushed face. “Goodnight, Itachi-san. I will take good care of your flower.”  

He nodded, taking a few steps back. “Please do. And take care of yourself too.”   

Before you could answer, he turned his back to you, intent on finding his upset girlfriend and apologizing via bouquet.   

You took a moment to admire the deep color of the carnation. In the lower light in front of your father’s restaurant, it almost looked dark red. 

 

~~~~~~

 

Itachi woke at the creak of a floorboard. When his eyes shot open, he immediately rolled to dodge, narrowly avoiding the slash of your katana. 

“Get up!” You spat. 

 

Itachi felt his body being shaken gently. He opened his eyes. His dark brown met with yours.   

You grinned. “Get up, sleepyhead.” 

 

You changed so much. 

“I’ve decided,” you said, your weapon still tight in your grip. “I’ll come along with you to do whatever you have to do, but only if you agree to leave me alone afterwards. I have things I need to do and I can’t focus on them if I’m around you.” 

Itachi eyed the mattress he’d previously been laying on, a large gash remaining where he’d been only moments before. His eyes slid back up to you. He tried his best to stifle any emotion he felt towards you at that moment.

“We leave tonight,” Itachi spoke. You shook your head and tossed a large envelope of cash to him. 

“No. We leave now.” You took a breath. “From the daimyo.” 

Your movements were sluggish still, undoubtedly a side effect of the damage retained by his Tsukuyomi. Your eyes still followed him as he moved. “Give me some of your chakra,” you demanded. “I’m nearly out. I used the majority of the chakra I took from the others trying to fix the damage you’ve done to my head.” 

He rose a dark brow. “What do you mean?” 

You rolled your eyes. “I can siphon chakra from people and utilize it for myself.” 

“Is that your kekkei genkai?”

“A part of it,” you conceded. You looked away. “I need physical contact, though.” 

He felt his heart skip. This time, it wasn’t because of his arrhythmia.

“Alright.” Your chakra reserves were much higher than his, but he didn’t want to refuse. You were already volatile enough. He lay his hand out in front of him, his palm up. You clicked your tongue, eyeing his hand for a moment before placing yours over his. Your hand flowed with purple chakra. 

You kept your gaze to the left, pointedly ignoring his stare. He was staring directly at you though, his eyes raking over your suddenly flushing face as if he had been deprived of the sight. Really, he had been. He hadn’t expected such a simple touch to fluster you.

It set his nerves at ease - the nerves that had been fluttering about ever since he suspected that the relationship between you and Madara was beyond master and student. Something so simple would never have set you alight if you were used to a man's touch. 

The look on your face had him enraptured; so much so that he didn’t even feel his energy leaving his body. You reminded him so much of your old self that he found himself tempted to reach out and touch you. He had always been exceptional at self restraint though, so he kept his free hand at his side. 

When you were finished, you took your hand from him and inhaled deeply. You took a few steps back and sat in the chair that had been sat in the corner of the room. Your hands began to flow with green chakra and you raised them to your temples, closing your eyes and breathing steadily. 

He stashed the payment in his pouch and waited until you were finished. The next time you opened your eyes, they were much less cloudy. Your movements were sharper when you stood, and you picked up the blade you’d set next to the chair. 

“Where are we going?” You asked next, your voice much more composed than he’d expected. 

“A remote island,” he responded. “There is something I need to retrieve.” He walked towards the door. “Will you fight if it is necessary?” 

“Yes,” you responded. “Whatever gets me away from you.” 

He nodded, having nothing else to say. The two of you left, the ultimately destination completely unknown to you. And yet, you didn’t ask. 

Talking to him brought up too many complex emotions. Emotions you weren’t keen on exploring any further. You planned to spend most of the journey in silence. 

Chapter Text

Itachi was four when he realized that he was damned to an eternity of suffering. He’d always known that he was destined for a difficult path, a path that had a dramatic change in trajectory not even thirteen years through, a path that no other had walked before. He had wanted to stop war. He had known what that entailed from a very young age. He had considered each and every single resulting death a sacrifice for the greater good - even Shisui’s. Even his parents. 

 

His life was a string of tragedies. Like dominoes, they fell one after another, the impact from the one previous setting them off. Sometimes they’d even blindsided him, coming from an unexpected, entirely direction. A new pattern. He learned to quickly acclimate to new things, to stop new feelings from brewing. It was in his nature to acquire skills and tactics based off of his situation. Shisui had always called him a natural born shinobi. 

 

Shisui had always called  you  an angel. 

 

Itachi had always agreed. 

 

If you  were  indeed an angel, you’d fallen long ago. He knew that now. Even the feel of your name coiled around Itachi’s tongue like a serpent. It stole his breath away and wriggled its way down his throat, suffocating him, gnawing on his insides and tearing him apart from the inside out. Yet, that name kept falling from his lips like the leaves that fell from the browning trees. Your travels together were only aggravating the feeling that he needed to reach out to you, to pull you from Madara’s clutches. 

 

He realized after approximately a week and a half of travel that his desire to save you wasn’t solely to atone for abandoning you. He found that he longed for your blistering, fiery touch - the only thing capable of melting the ice in his veins.

 

This realization confounded him. He’d always admired you, but never to the point where his body would burn the way it did when you were around now. It only contributed an incredible weight to the shame that continued to fester. He loathed himself even more for that longing. He didn’t deserve to touch you. Only Shisui did. What would Shisui think if he knew the feelings that were beginning to reluctantly bloom within him? A part of him desperately wanted an answer to that question. 

 

You, despite the dramatic change in personality, were familiar. Your voice (though it now had a lethal edge to it), your face - scars and all - and the way you’d fluster at the smallest of gentle, soft touches… it all captivated him in a way that made him sick. He was losing sleep.

 

It was seemingly inevitable. Back when he was younger, he had always teetered dangerously on the edge of an inappropriate fondness for you. Whether or not you felt the same never mattered to him back then because he never nourished those feelings - he never allowed them to see the light of day. Even now he wouldn’t allow himself to do so. 

 

Even still, Itachi didn’t know if he longed for you to be the one to end his tragic tale or to be the one to deliver him from the fate he’d already inescapably bound himself to. He was sure you were just as damaged as Sasuke and it was all his doing. He would surely have considered a death by your hand a sense of poetic justice, but he’d fight it all the same. Namely because he wanted to save you - even if you were beyond saving, he had to try - and because Sasuke had to be the one to destroy the last remaining traitorous Uchiha and be viewed as the ultimate martyr. 

 

You had no intention of indulging Itachi in any of his short-lived whims, whether you knew they existed or not. He simply allowed you to take chakra from him when you asked for it - the two of you had run into hordes of enemy shinobi and he allowed you to do as you pleased. The aftermath of these battles often reminded him of the outcomes of the skirmishes Hidan partook in. Despite the fact that the both of you seemed to drown in the crimson you spilled, the way you fought couldn’t have been more different than him. You were much more calculating and managed, for the most part, to contain your blood lust. 

 

And so a sliver of hope bloomed in the depths of Itachi’s blackened soul that your humanity had still not yet been extinguished. Hidan had none left, but you… you could still…

 

“Itachi, if you keep staring at me I’m going to rip your goddamn eyes out.” 

 

He averted his gaze. The gentleman who was standing at the head of the boat shot a nervous look over his shoulder at you as he paddled. 

 

“What gave you the impression that I was staring?” Itachi returned with a lethality to his tone that you’d gotten used to - that he’d never used on you in the prior years you’d known him. 

 

“The fact that your beady red eyes were on me and wouldn’t  get off ,” you spat, teeth bared in a snarl. “You’re lucky that I’m in a better mood today otherwise your face would already be under my fucking foot.” 

 

If he were the same man he was years ago, he would’ve scoffed at you and made a jokingly crude remark in response. Instead he removed his gaze completely from your general direction and looked out over the sea. 

 

“W-we’re almost there,” the frightened elderly man spoke. “So pl-please don’t fight.” 

 

You rolled your eyes and folded your arms over your chest. The man winced at the sudden movement. You’d been completely still up until that point and while the he’d initially tried to spark up a semblance of conversation with either one of you, neither of you were very receptive. At first he thought that the two of you were a couple. He should’ve known better - he should’ve recognized those cloaks. The Akatsuki were well known on the island. 

 

Itachi could see the coliseum from here. He was sure you could too, but you said nothing. He didn’t know how much time had passed before the two of you reached the dock and stepped out. You took a good look at your surroundings; there were merchant stands right at the dock, food vendors, games… by all means, it looked like a normal party town. However, you knew better than that. No remote island would be just a simple party town with a coliseum that large. 

 

“I’m assuming you have a good reason for entering me in this tournament,” you muse, your eyes flickering in every which direction. Itachi quickened his pace, not wanting you to linger too long. “Is the opponent someone that you can’t beat?” 

 

“No. I can beat him.” 

 

Your attention never left the buildings that lined the gravel walkway. They were all incredibly close to one another. People lined the streets and many of the shops were overfilled. Strangely, you noticed, this town was kept immaculately clean and the people looked well-off. 

 

“Then why the hell am  I  here? And what is this place anyway?” 

 

Itachi didn’t respond. He seemed to know where he was going. You followed him, but his lack of response pissed you off. He led you down multiple walkways and into one of the lower end looking buildings after coming to an alleyway. The alleyway itself almost looked like a slum. You saw people skittering about, dressed in rags. 

 

Not so luxurious, was it? 

 

Itachi didn’t hold the door for you. Instead, you had to slide through before it closed on you. You nearly drew a kunai and plunged it into the back of his neck but the crowd that faced you as soon as you entered stilled your hand. 

 

You came to a stop behind Itachi. 

 

“Good evening, Uchiha-san. Are you here for the tournament?” 

 

You peeked around him. The first thing you noticed was that she was itching very intensely at raised, irritated skin. The second was the state of her hair. It was lifted up and out of her face in a tangled mess of a bun. Her crystal blue eyes were unfocused, her pupils dilated. 

 

“Yes.” 

 

“We have a room for you on the third floor. The key is underneath the…” She seemed to lose her breath. “The mat.” 

 

She didn’t even spare you a glance. As soon as she was finished speaking with Itachi, she turned from him. You shot her an icy glare that Itachi didn’t completely understand. He started walking without you. Eventually, you caught up. Each step creaked with your combined weight. Itachi didn’t wait for you nor check to make sure you were following. 

 

“Fucking druggie,” you grumbled to yourself, annoyed at her lack of tact. 

 

It occurred to you then… that you could try to leave. He might feel your presence fade, but by then, you could be long gone. 

 

You quickly observed your surroundings. Between this floor and the next, there was a large, open window that you could easily make a break for. Whether or not Itachi would be fast enough to catch you was your concern; it was obvious that he was not above using physical force on you at this point. 

 

Your eyes narrowed, a telltale sign of your steeling resolve when you remembered that physical pain really didn’t matter much. You could take the pain if it meant getting away from the ghost of Itachi’s smile that haunted you every time you spared a hesitant look at his impassive face. 

 

But at the same time, you knew he would come after you. He’d follow you if you left. You had given him your word to help him do whatever he had to do here, be it entering a tournament on his behalf or something else, in exchange for leaving you alone in the future. If you did this, you were risking him meddling too much in your personal affairs. 

 

Shisui wanted peace, after all. If Itachi kept inserting himself in places he didn’t belong, that would never come. 

 

You could never achieve Shisui’s dream for him if Itachi kept bothering you. Itachi, who was once your friend, who was once just as dedicated to peace as the two of you were… he would bar you from your goal. 

 

But Itachi… he had reached out to you after Shisui died. He had been so honest, so transparent the night you’d found out. Was that all a lie? Was all of what he had  ever  showed you a lie? Was he lying to Shisui too?


Who was Itachi, anyway? Did he lie to you about Shisui..?

You grit your teeth. Itachi’s call of your name had you looking up in bewilderment. You hadn’t noticed you had stopped walking. 

 

“(Name)-san.” 

 

You looked up at him. He was a few steps above you. 

 

He watched your brows furrow. Your lips down turned and he knew by your expression that you weren’t yourself at that moment.

 

Then again, he didn’t really know you anymore. He doubted you knew yourself either. 

 

“Itachi, I...” 

 

You looked down and then back up, directly into his red eyes. 

 

A thick, tense atmosphere settled between the two of you. It felt much too heavy for you as you were now. 

 

Itachi found it hard to maintain eye contact. Your eyes were dead, but so…  so  familiar. 

 

He found himself taking a step down. You lengthened the distance between you two. 

 

You found yourself speaking before you could stop yourself, giving a voice to all of the miserable, lurking thoughts that never left your head in his presence. “Were you being honest when you said that he died with a smile on his face?” 

 

A vision of Shisui’s face in his last moments flashed through his vision. He felt nauseous at the recollection. What could he say? You were already in such turmoil, he didn’t want to make it worse. 

 

Your eyes pierced into his own. 

 

He had never been able to lie to you. “Yes.” 

 

Your face immediately contorted in agony. 

 

“How?! Did he forget about me?” Your voice cracked. Your bottom lip trembled. He remembered this look - you had the very same look on your face when you’d taken your first life. You were being torn apart. 

 

“No.” He turned from you, no longer able to continue to bear witness to your internal suffering. “He did not forget.” Itachi continued to walk up the stairs. Your body responded on its own, obediently following him without an order to do so. Madara had you trained. Your subconscious obeyed without a word. Itachi felt self-loathing and anger rise within him. 

 

He had failed you. He had failed Shisui.

 

He had let Madara win for far too long. He needed to fight back. He wouldn’t keep his word to you, he wouldn’t stay away. At this point, he couldn’t. After you fought in this tournament for him, he would see to it that Madara’s influence over you was shaken to its very core. 

 

“It was  you , wasn't it?” Your voice took on an accusatory tone, though emotional all the same. Your hand shot out and curled around his sleeve when he didn’t answer. 

 

“Itachi. Tell me the fucking truth.” 

 

He kept silent. You continued to cling to his sleeve. 

 

“Itachi!” You tried, digging your heels into the carpeting to slow his gait. “Tell me!” 

 

“Knowing that will not change anything,” Itachi turned, grabbed your wrist, and roughly pulled it from his cloak. “I left. That is all you need to know.”
 

~~~~~

 

You were sobbing heavily, limp in Itachi’s arms as he rubbed your back and held you tightly. “Don’t ever leave me, Itachi!” You wailed, holding him closer to you. Itachi shifted his position on your bed. 

 

“I won’t.” 

 

“Don’t die like he did!” You sobbed. Itachi sighed softly and closed his eyes. 

 

“I will not die.” 

 

Silence engulfed the solemn room. You continued to cry on him. 

 

He had appeared to you not longer after his father had left, covered in blood from a mission and stoic as always. At first, you’d pushed him, angry that he hadn’t stopped Shisui from “killing himself”. He’d simply taken your anger and waited until you’d wilted, holding you when you’d fallen apart. 

 

“Y-your father… he had the audacity… to… to offer me to another Uchiha!” 

 

Itachi already knew that. His father had told him that he was going to offer you another Uchiha’s hand right after Shisui’s death had been confirmed. 

 

“I am sorry.”

 

He would never forget how quickly he had decided to give his own son’s hand away to his deceased nephew’s girlfriend. 

 

Itachi would never forget how quickly he had agreed to it. 

 

“Don’t leave me, Itachi. Don’t forget me now that he’s gone. Please.” 

 

“I won’t.” 

~~~~~

“I want to know if you  forgot!  I want to know if you  lied!

 

You reached out to him again. Itachi sidestepped you and you extended your arm to swipe at him clumsily. Itachi caught your wrist. You went to strike him again, but he caught your other arm and pressed you against the wall. You, once again, fell limp. Itachi ignored the scorching sensation of his skin. “Would that make you feel better about what you’ve done, (Name)? About who you’ve become?” 

 

“I was  alone! ” You shouted. “You left me to  myself!  You three were my life, Itachi! My father was my life! Everything was fucking torn from me and you just  forgot!  What else was I supposed to do?! Who else could I have run to?!” 

 

Itachi let you go. You whirled around and he stood steady, catching your fist in his hand. The sheer strength of the blow threw him into the other wall and your body followed, taken off balance by his grip on you. His back slammed into the wall and you ripped your fist from him, forcing them on either side of his head and trapping him there. You mused momentarily on how much taller he was than you now before gritting your teeth, closing your rapidly welling eyes and drawing a weapon. You pressed a poisoned senbon to his neck. 

 

“You turned me into this by leaving..!” You whimpered, all semblance of anger gone from your voice. 

 

“Why would I have stayed?” Itachi asked you, his mask steely and his voice unwavering. “I slaughtered my entire family in cold blood. I left Sasuke alive because he is the only one that I can use to gauge my true ability. I-”

 

“You could’ve taken me with you!” You insisted, the tears you’d been holding back falling down your cheeks and you hiccuped. Itachi took advantage of the way your sobs racked your form to take the senbon from his neck and trap you instead. 

 

“Your morals at the time were consistent with the village. You would not have left with someone who commited mass familicide.” 

 

“You don’t know that!” You cried. “You d-don’t! I left with Uchiha-sama, after all! If I would’ve known that it wasn’t you who killed him then I would’ve-!” 

 

“That’s enough. You are lying to yourself. You have threatened to take my life mult-” You grabbed him by the collar and jerked him down so that your faces were level with one another, only a hair's-breadth away. Itachi felt your ragged, harsh breath fan out against his face. The only indication that he was perturbed by this was the narrowing of his dark brows. 

 

“Don’t you  dare  ever leave me again, Uchiha Itachi!” 

 

You stared fearlessly into his sharingan eyes with your own, full of tears as they were. For the first time in your travels together, his facade cracked. You watched tearfully as his eyes uncharacteristically widened and his lips trembled in the slightest, a sign that he’d gone to speak but thought better of it. Slowly, he reached for your hands and removed them from his collar. “You are still suffering from the effects of my Tsukuyomi,” Itachi finally spoke. “You need rest.” 

 

“No,” you protested, moving after him quickly as he continued the trek to the room. “What I  need  is you, Itachi! You can’t just leave me again!” 

 

Itachi closed his eyes and trudged on. 

 

Whatever higher power that existed -  if  one existed - they were testing his strength, his resolve. 

 

He couldn’t reach out to you. It would risk too much. You would make the connection that he wasn’t as ruthless as he made himself out to be. If you  ever  got comfortable again, it would ruin the chances that you would go back. If you were seen with him too often, Konohagakure would never accept you back into their ranks. He couldn’t allow the two of you to get close. Not like before. You needed to return, you  needed  to go home, be with Sasuke. 

 

That was his ultimate plan. To somehow get you back home. To get you back with Sasuke. 

 

You had been following him silently up until the two of you reached the door of what you assumed to be your room. You’d followed him by sound - your eyes were full of rapidly falling tears. He went to lean down to pick up the key from underneath the mat. 

 

He stiffened significantly as he felt your arms wind around his waist. You placed your forehead against his back and embraced him tightly, your sobs silent but dramatically shaking your body. “ Please . I need you. Uchiha-sama…  hurts  me. I want to serve him but he hurts me. You… you wouldn’t...”

 

What was left of his soul had shattered as those damning words left your mouth. Itachi felt sick. He didn’t know if it was because your words just didn’t sit right or because his heart was beating so quickly that it was painful. His breaths shallowed. 

 

“Not even 24 hours ago I subjected you to extreme psychological torture by means of genjutsu. If you believe that I will treat you any better than he has, you are gravely mistaken.” 

 

He needed  time.  Itachi did not know how to get you away from Madara and back to Konoha just yet and you were no more safer with him than Madara. With Madara, you’d be kept away from Kisame, Hidan, Deidara,  himself . You’d be treated as one of Madara’s personal aides rather than an Akatsuki. You were safer that way - safer from the outside world and the other members. He couldn’t risk sabotaging that, no matter how achingly painful it was not to turn to you and bring you into himself. He would’ve done it all those years ago. He would’ve done it if keeping up these false pretenses wasn’t absolutely necessary to the preservation of Konohagakure’s image. 

 

Uchiha Itachi would’ve indulged in you, should things have been different. Itachi would’ve allowed himself to be selfish and return your embrace if Konoha’s state of being wasn’t at risk if he did. He couldn’t waver from his path as he pushed you towards your own. He could only guide you; never walking side by side,  never  hand in hand. 

 

Life was too cruel to offer him the opportunity. 

 

“That was nothing,” you whimpered, tightening your grip on him as he went to remove you from his torso. “I’ve been through worse.” You were still crying. 

 

Your quick changes in mood, your instability… it was enough to send him reeling. He was becoming increasingly unsteady as your warmth seeped into his very essence. His mentality was crumbling, everything he thought he was decaying into nothing with the uncharacteristic gentleness of your touch. Not once in your travels did you indicate that this was how you truly felt. Not once did you appear to have a desire to stay with him. Was it temporary, fleeting? Would you return to belligerence and violence after this? He didn’t know if he would be able to cope with it if you did. After seeing you like this, after  feeling  you like this…

 

This was detrimental to his resolve. It was detrimental to everything he had built. 

 

Threats played off of Itachi’s tongue but ultimately died before he could give voice to them. Instead, he peeled your reluctant grip from himself and hurriedly unlocked the door, rushing you inside. 

 

“Itachi-”

 

He interrupted your tearful plea, pressing his hand over your mouth. He was agitated - you could tell that much from the sharp glare of his red optics. He pushed you back against the wall harshly as he slammed the door. “I’m not what you perceive me to be. I am no longer the Uchiha Itachi you could once run to in order to seek solace or advisement. You will not find peace in my company. I will only manipulate and use you for my own gain. Is that the type of pathetic existence you want? It is no different than the fate you have damned yourself to at Madara’s side. I am not a better man.” 

 

And still you nodded, your glassy eyes and glistening cheeks some of the only features he could make out in the dim lighting of the room. Itachi made a distinct sound of disgust. 

 

“You are nothing but a hollow shell of the woman you once were. You allow yourself to be abused, (Name). You have become nothing but a tool for anyone powerful enough to enact their will upon.” 

 

This is not what Shisui would’ve wanted for you,  he nearly added. 

 

In his flicker of rage, he had lost himself and spoke your name so intimately that those wide eyes spilled over with more tears. At that moment, he knew he had gone too far and he could not come back from it. This conversation was stirring his latent emotions about and it wasn’t looking to cease anytime soon. 

 

With a violent clench of his jaw, Itachi put your trembling form to sleep with his eyes. You fell and he caught you without a second thought. He fought the urge to hold you to him and instead brought you to the only small bed that the room held. The composure he had so masterfully maintained all these years became utterly dismantled as he did so. He pulled back from you inch by inch, doing all he could to summon the restraint to leave your side. 

 

His skin still burned where you’d touched him through his clothing. He wanted nothing more in that moment than to wake you and steal you away, to take you to a place where Madara could not touch you. But he knew that Madara was powerful, fearfully so, and as such... he did not know if such a place even existed.

 

But in Konohagakure, you would be surrounded by powerful, extreme shinobi that would discourage him from reaching you. There was no guarantee that he wouldn’t try, but Itachi was going to dedicate himself to the task. Nothing was ever certain. If he could somehow find a way to get you protected, he would do anything to do so. 

 

Itachi sat at the small table in the corner of the room. He was horribly worn after your spontaneous burst of emotion. You were like a typhoon. He buried his face in his arms and began to do breathing exercises to calm his rapidly beating heart. 

 

You clearly had some type of post traumatic stress related issues going on. The longer he was around you, the more obvious that was. You had not even a shred of the composure you used to have. 

 

Itachi’s brows threaded together and he ran a hand through his hair, slowly closing his eyes.  

 

He almost dreaded what sleep would bring. 

 

~~~~~

 

“Itachi-kun?” 

 

Itachi lifted his head from the parchment he’d been writing on, giving you his undivided attention. 

 

“Hm?” 

 

You were looking at him as you dried a tea cup with a battered cloth. An expression of concern creased your face. 

 

“I don’t know how to say this, so I’ll be blunt. Sasuke-chan came over last night. He said that you’re having family problems.” 

 

Itachi averted his brown eyes from you.

 

 “Is this true?” 

 

Itachi remained silent. 

 

You were a trustworthy person, but you were about to marry into the family - if there was a family, by the time this was all said and done. He didn’t know if he could trust you. 

 

“Itachi-kun,” you prodded again, you voice significantly lower. “Before there was ever an agreement of marriage between Shisui and I, there was us. The four of us.” Your solemnity startled him. You reached across the table and placed your hand on top of his. “Please tell me the truth, Itachi-kun.”  

 

Itachi looked back down at his paperwork and continued to write. You sighed, going to move your touch from his off-hand. To your surprise, he turned his hand and entwined his fingers with your own. For a moment, he gripped your hand so hard that it was painful, but once you squeezed it back, his grip slowly dwindled back into a comfortable one. 

 

You continued your cleaning tasks one handed for quite some time.

 

The bell on the curtain jingled. Itachi went to retract his hand, but you held fast. “Good evening, Shisui.” 

 

Shisui walked over to the bar where the two of you were, smiled at your open display of affection for one another, and placed his hand on top. He leaned over the countertop and placed a kiss to your cheek. “Hey angel.”

 

Some time passed and later that night, Itachi and Shisui were standing side by side at the cliff side. 

 

“Itachi,” Shisui started, a contemplative look on his face. “Will you promise me something?” 

 

“Depends,” Itachi supplied in return. 

 

“I know this is selfish of me, but please… Itachi.” Itachi faced his friend, knowing what he was about to ask of him. Shisui placed his hand on his shoulder. 

 

“If anything happens to me, I’m leaving (Name) to you. Take care of her in my place. She is greatly influenced by her emotions. I’m afraid that if they go unchecked, she will...” 

 

“I understand.” 

 

“So you’ll do it then?” 

 

“I will try.” 

 

Shisui took a minute to process this. Once he had, he gave Itachi a smile. “I don’t mean to ask so much of you. I just don’t want her or her abilities falling into the wrong hands. You know how desperately people seek her bloodline limit, after all.” 

 

“How do you know that she’d be safe with me?” Itachi responded, a question fueled by his own self doubt. 

 

It looked as if a cacophony of complex emotions claimed Shisui’s expression all at once. It was an odd face that he made, one Itachi had never seen before on his older cousin, but he said nothing of it and it was gone as quickly as it came. “You… wouldn’t hurt anyone, Itachi.” Shisui looked down at the rushing water below. “Not unless you had to. Especially not her.”

 

Itachi looked away from his cousin and up into the heavens where the glittering stars lingered, finding the words he’d just spoken to be dizzying. 

 

There was only one way that such a look would cross Shisui’s face. 

 

He knew what he had been trying to hide, what he had been trying so hard to deny. Even now Itachi refused to admit it to himself, expelling an unnatural amount of effort to dance around the outskirts of such sentiment. 

 

“Nothing will happen to you.” 

 

“I won’t blame you if you can’t,” Shisui quickly rectified, not wanting to burden his young cousin further. “I spoke out in a moment of vulnerability. I will understand either way.” 

 

“Nothing is going to happen,” Itachi insisted, his chest becoming much too tight. 

 

Shisui snapped his lips shut, thinking better of saying what he was about to ask. “You’re right.” 

 

Itachi looked down at his left hand and flexed his fingers. 

 

He could almost feel you, if he tried hard enough. 

 

~~~~~

 

“Get up.” 

 

Your head pounded. You grit your teeth at the painful sensation and willed your eyes open. Itachi stood over you, his signature scowl on his face. 

 

“Your fight is in two hours. Get ready.” 

 

You returned his unpleasant expression and slowly sat up, resisting the urge to draw a weapon and thrust it through his neck. Memories of the previous day came rushing back to you so quickly that your vision swam while you stood. You used the chair in the corner of the room to stabilize yourself. 

 

“Fucking idiot,” you chastised yourself, pinching the bridge of your nose. “You always get too fucking sentimental when you wake up from genjutsu.” 

 

You heard soft footfalls approach you from the right. This time, you grabbed the nearest object to you - which happened to be a vase - and hurled it at the source of the sound. Itachi caught it listlessly. 

 

“I see that you are finished throwing your childish tantrum.” 

 

“Shut your fucking mouth,” you spat. “That wasn’t me. That was…” you looked at the wooden floor, “someone else.”

 

“Can you fight?” Itachi asked, looking you over despite you avoiding his eyes. 

 

“Of course I can fucking fight.” You grit your teeth, tightening your grip on the chair. 

 

When had you become so weak? Why had Madara allowed you to go with Itachi like this? Surely he knew this was going to happen. 

 

“That is all I need from you. Let’s go.”

 

Itachi turned to leave the room. You watched him leave, a touch of the sentimentality you felt the day prior seizing your chest painfully. You winced and gripped your cloak.

 

Tsukuyomi… that was a dangerous genjutsu. You’d have to do your best not to get caught in it again. 

 

You took a deep breath to steel yourself over, forcing the guilt and regret of allowing such a severe episode claim you and followed Itachi from the room. 

 

The closer you got to an open area, the more your bloodlust steadily grew and permeated the air. If Itachi noticed it, he didn’t say anything. You were bracing yourself for a fight, forcing away all emotion but anger. 

 

You had a  lot  of that to spare. 

 

You almost felt sorry for whoever was going to be your first opponent in this tournament Itachi had entered you in. 

 

Almost.