Uchiha Sasuke’s eyes snapped open. The sharingan activated not a minute afterward. He stared up at the ceiling of the guest room of the house that had once been his parents’. Something had awoken him in the middle of the night and it was not another nightmare this time. He had been living in his parents’ old house for almost a week now. He had adjusted to the constant reminders of why he was alive, why his family was not, and the revenge he owed them. Living in his parents’ home once again after the three years away with Orochimaru was fitting. He had been training to become stronger, but now that he had learned all that he could from the sannin, it was only right that he return to this place. And after a week, the shock of it had faded some what. He could turn a corner without being assaulted with violent memories. He was adjusting.
But something had awoken him.
He slid out of bed and into a crouch without even rustling the bedding. A kunai was in one hand and the other was reaching for his weapons pouch. He had wards set up encompassing the entire grounds as well as the house itself. To slip pass all of his traps…if it was only Naruto on one of his pranks, Sasuke really would kill him this time – because if it was not…
Sasuke moved around his futon and to the door. Silently, he slid it back just far enough for him to slip through out into the hallway. Right side floor planks always creaked terribly, so he kept to the left, stepping lightly down the hallway. The kitchen behind him was empty, so he ignored it. Across the hall was the front room, the one where his father would receive guests and conduct other clan business. It was empty as well. So was the sitting room connected to it, and his old bedroom across the hall. Sasuke ghosted along the left-hand wall. His own former bedroom was just a little farther down, beside his parents’ room and across from his Father’s study. Which was not empty.
Sasuke paused. His father’s study. It was the only room he had not cleared out yet. Everything else he had merely packed up and either put in storage or disposed of, but he had left his father’s study. There were things in there that he would have to sort through slowly. While he had read most of his father’s books, he had never sorted through the copious amount of paperwork and records his father had kept. How foolish. He should have done something with it all long before, and now whatever was in there was compromised.
Furious, Sasuke stepped forward, one hand braced on the door and shoved it aside with a deafening crack! and stared into a pair of red eyes that nearly matched his own.
Someone was pounding on the door. The sun hadn’t even risen and someone was pounding on his door. Uzumaki Naruto growled before rolling over and burrowing his head under his pillow. Sleep was gooood, sleep was important. He’d need sleep to be ready to beat the living shit out of Sasuke when they sparred in the morning. Whatever it was could wait till after that. After that and ramen.
Damnit. Now he was hungry.
The door-pounding stopped and with a little content smile, Naruto began to drift happily back to sleep. Then the Naruto-pounding started. With a yelp, Naruto covered his head and tried to roll away only to smash his nose into the wall.
“Get up!” Sakura shouted. But it wasn’t the usual Sakura ‘I’m-so-annoyed-with-you-right-now’ shout. It was the ‘I’m-trying-not-to-be-scared’ Sakura shout and there were few things in the world that could wake Naruto up faster than that. He sat up, blue eyes clear and focused.
She moved away from his bedside immediately so that he could scramble out of it. He kept glancing at her as he snagged his weapon pouches up off of the floor then shrugged on his favorite orange and black jacket. His black pajama pants would have to do for now.
Sakura was already fully dressed. She had her feet spread shoulder width apart and her fists resting on her hips, confident and completely ready to act despite the deep frown lines and pinched look to her eyes. This was not good.
“Sasuke?” he asked quietly. It’s been six months since they’d dragged him more or less willingly home. He, Sakura and Kakashi-sensei. Cause they were Team 7, and only the lowliest of the low abandons a teammate. Even if said teammate might prefer to be abandoned. Even if said teammate might just run off again, chasing snake-bastards, fratricidal brothers and just generally being an idiot.
Sakura just nodded mutely.
Naruto cursed. He should have known. Tsunade-ba-chan had ordered Sasuke under house arrest for six months after his return, said house being Kakashi’s apartment. That had ended barely a week ago. Naruto had offered to let Sasuke move in with him, and after that had been shot down Sakura had offered to help him find a nice apartment, but no, Sasuke-teme wanted to move back into his creepy haunted house. Sakura had told him he ought to be understanding of Sasuke’s choice. Kakashi just pretended to ignore everything. Sasuke did ignore everything. So Naruto just made sure his loud cheerful self was over there every day to bug the heck out of the ice-bastard.
Looks like it didn’t do any good, however. Sasuke-teme still left. Ran off again chasing some stupid idea on how to become powerful and strong all on his own and not staying in Konoha to become powerful and strong with him and Sakura the way he should.
“Alright,” he said as he pulled on his shoes. “Well, we’ll just have to go find his dumb-ass again, and then we’ll just drag his dumb-ass back home again. But this time I get to tie him up and make him stay. No more of this living alone in that creepy house with only a bunch of ghosts for company. This time I ain’t letting him outta my sight until his bastard-ass gets it through his thick skull that there ain’t nothing out there worth doing this.”
He could have kept going about the bastardish nature of their fellow teammate and how much more of a dumb-ass Sasuke was, especially with the way Sakura was staring at him wide-eyed, but then Sakura finally interrupted him. “He didn’t leave, Naruto.”
“Huh?” he replied rather ineloquently, frozen with one foot out the door.
“He’s in the hospital.” Sakura’s voice waved only slightly as she said it. Barely noticeable, really.
She made a little half growling, half huffing sound that was pure Sakura. “Oh, just hurry up and come on, I’ll explain it as we move.” And then she was brushing by him and he had to scramble to catch up.
“Hospital?” he repeated back as they jumped from his building to the one next to it. “What the hell?”
“ANBU brought him in. Missing-nin managed to get all the way to the Uchiha compound before anyone noticed. One guess who.”
Naruto’s footing slipped. Itachi? In Konoha? One hand crept down to rest over his stomach and the seal there. But Itachi certainly hadn’t been here looking for him and the Kyuubi. “Damnit!” Naruto hissed. It would have been better if he had. Yeah, he probably wouldn’t have been able to defend himself against somebody like Itachi, but at least then maybe the bastard would have left Sasuke alone. “Damnit!”
“I know,” Sakura replied. “But he’s not dead. He’s not dead.”
Naruto scowled but nodded. “Right. Not dead.”
Sasuke’s eyes snapped opened. The sharingan activated not a minute afterward. He also released it almost as fast. It hurt. Chakra exhaustion. It was a state he was familiar enough with to recognize immediately.
He had failed to kill his brother. Again. And again his brother had spared him. He would have cursed or slammed his fist against something like one of his teammates, but he rarely did such things, and certainly not in a public place like a hospital.
“But I dun wanna eat vegetables…”
Sasuke blinked, then turned his head slowly to stare at the orange blob off to his right. He blinked again and the image focused into Naruto slumped over in one of those rickety hospital chairs, absolutely sound asleep and apparently dreaming about fighting off vegetables.
Sasuke almost smirked at it. Naruto always talked in his sleep. Ever since they were little. It was an interesting way to occasionally get information out of him. Sometime he let slip things in his sleep that he would never admit to awake. His fear of vegetables, however, was a well known fact. Sakura had enlisted Sasuke in her quest to force Naruto into two servings a day. It was sort of entertaining coming up with new ways to trick Naruto into eating them. Some of their plans had been quite elaborate. And Naruto always took it as a challenge.
“Wake up, dobe.”
Naruto snorted, tried to roll over in his chair and ended up rolling off of it onto the floor. There was a dull thunk. “Sasuke-teme?” a muffled voice replied.
“Get up here, dobe, and tell me what the hell happened.”
Naruto’s yellow mop of hair popped up over the side of Sasuke’s hospital bed. “You’re awake.”
Sasuke forewent the sarcastic reply. “What happened? Where is Itachi?”
Naruto flinched and Sasuke scowled at him. “Um, not here,” he finally replied.
Naruto scowled and looked away. “Dunno. ANBU guys chased him beyond the village walls. Lost him after that.” He turned back to stare at Sasuke. “You okay?”
Sasuke ignored him. “I remember ANBU finally arriving.”
“They said you were both pretty worn out by then,” Naruto winced. “And the outside of the house is really torn up. House ain’t too bad though, mostly just the grass and stuff outside.”
Like he cared about the stupid house.
Naruto shrugged. “The ANBU guys ganged up on him, but he didn’t stick around or anything. Took off running once they showed up.”
Sasuke closed his eyes. His fists were clenched and he still had to struggle to keep in the impulse to break something. “He got what he came for,” Sasuke hissed.
Sasuke slowly opened his eyes just enough so that he could see Naruto. The other young man was standing alongside Sasuke’s bed, his hands fisted over the bed sheets at the edge. Sasuke closed his eyes again. “He was in my father’s study.” Naruto had been helping him clean enough that he ought to know what his father’s study looked like, how much was in that one room.
“Do you know what he was looking for?”
“No,” Sasuke replied. Now he had a whole new collection of fresh memories for that house. The image of Itachi rifling carelessly through his father’s things, completely unconcerned with the history of that place or Sasuke standing in the doorway. The sight of new kunai buried deep into the walls. The burn mark down the hall that Sasuke made. The burn mark in the foyer that Itachi made. The sight of Itachi standing in the street under the moonlight once again. “But I know where he was looking. Which part of the study.” Sasuke unclenched his fists and started to push himself up. Something was wrong with his right arm, but not enough to stop him. The wave of dizziness and sharp pain in his chest was more difficult to ignore.
“Stop being stupid, teme,” Naruto growled out. “Tell me where and I’ll go look.”
Sasuke shook his head slowly. “I know-”
“And you can tell me where and me and Kakashi-sensei will go look.”
Sasuke blinked and turned to stare at him. “Kakashi?”
Naruto smiled that stupid smile he always did. “Yep! He’s just outside the room. Sakura’ll be right back and she can check you over and make sure you ain’t broken any more and Kakashi-sensei and I can go check while she’s doing that cause I’ve been in there before and Kakashi-sensei’s good at figuring out stuff and by the time Sakura’s done will be back and tell ya what we found, hm?”
Sasuke stared at him for a moment, trying to picture Naruto combing through his father’s things. There was something not right about that. There ought to be something not right about that. But it was Naruto, and he did not belong anywhere but that had never stopped him before. Naruto knew how important this was. He would not mess this up. That was not his ninja way, after all.
“Alright,” Sasuke replied, and after quickly explaining to Naruto roughly where Itachi had been looking, he lay back down and closed his eyes.
Kakashi-sensei was waiting exactly where Naruto had last seen him waiting hours before. He was leaning against the wall beside Sasuke’s door, arms crossed and familiar orange book out in one hand. The rest of the hallway was empty except for him.
Tsunade-ba-chan herself had examined Sasuke’s injuries and pronounced him not dead as well. After that she’d left for some kind of meeting about what to do about evil missing-nin popping up in the village and had dragged Sakura out with her. Which was probably a good thing. Sakura tended to worry. Especially when it came to Sasuke. Besides, Kakashi-sensei and Naruto could handle this.
Naruto grinned. “Oi! Kakashi-sensei!”
“I’m standing right here, Naruto. There’s no reason to shout.”
“Bah!” Naruto replied with a cheeky grin he knew his teacher had to see even if the other man was pretending to ignore him. “Come on, we got work to do,” he said before turning around and strutting off, hands folded behind his head. It wasn’t often that he knew something that Kakashi-sensei didn’t, and if Kakashi-sensei wanted him to share what their super-important mission was, then the other man was going to just have to keep up. The very idea made Naruto cackle to himself.
There was silent behind him, then a very distinct sigh and the sound of something being put away. A moment latter Kakashi-sensei was walking along side him. Naruto glanced over at him out of the corner of his eye and Kakashi-sensei rolled his one visible eye. “I was listening, you know,” he replied quietly.
Naruto laughed a little. “Guess I should have known you would,” he grumbled.
“Hmm,” Kakashi-sensei replied.
So much for having the upper hand for once. He’d just have to find some way to pull a prank on Kakashi-sensei later to make up for it. He’d have to get Sakura and Sasuke or Iruka-sensei to help him, though, cause pranking Kakashi-sensei always required backup.
Once they stepped out into the late morning sunshine, neither of them wasted any time in moving off to the Uchiha district. It might be great that Sasuke was neither dead nor doing something stupid, but that didn’t mean that this whole things wasn’t very important Team 7 business and village business.
The old head Uchiha family house really did look like a small tornado had hit it. The street just outside of it was all torn up, with crumbled walls surrounding it and deep gouges running from one end to the other. Even the little half-dead decorative bushes and tiny plots of grass out front were all dug up. Naruto and Sasuke had spent the better part of an afternoon cleaning up those plants when Sasuke had first moved back in. Something about making the place at least look presentable before taking up residence there again. It had actually been kind of nice doing something mindless and not life-threatening with Sasuke once again, just the two of them working together quietly outside in the nice sunshine. And Sakura had brought them dinner and cold drinks after she got off work. The three of them had sat inside the still kind of stuffy kitchen and pretended like nothing bad had ever happened there.
Naruto still thought Sasuke moving back into that place was a Bad Idea, but who was he to tell the class genius what to do?
“Where did it start?” Kakashi-sensei asked once they stood outside the front door.
Naruto shook his head to clear it, then moved into the house. “Old man’s study. Itachi must have been looking for something when Sasuke barged in.”
Kakashi-sensei just nodded and followed him.
The hallway didn’t look much better than outside did. There were some distinct burn marks and gouges along the walls and floor. Naruto just walked by them and tried not to connect any of his own memories to such things.
The study was almost all the way at the end of the hallway. Sasuke had shown it to him once, explained that he was going to wait to do that one last and that he wouldn’t need any help. Naruto had still offer to cart out boxes for him. He might not know what papers were important and which ones were not, but he could find something useful to do. Sasuke hadn’t said much in reply.
The room was a lot messier than Naruto remembered, but at least there were no burn marks in here, just some stray kunai and shuriken. With as many books and scrolls and papers lying about as there were, one little spark probably would have brunt the whole house down.
Uchiha senior was obviously one of those guys that liked everything in its place, cause there hadn’t been one messy stack of papers the first time Naruto had seen this room. Everything had been lined up perfectly, even the scrolls and books that filled the shelves. Most of the room was same way, but some things had obviously been knocked over and thrown about. It was kind of hard to tell if any of the mess had been intentional or not.
“Left-hand side of the desk, bottom drawer, left-hand side of the desk, bottom drawer…” Naruto repeated. Kakashi snorted quietly, but Naruto ignored him. He’d been repeating it over and over again in his head ever since Sasuke had told him. Stepping carefully around the papers spread out over the floor – Sasuke would kill him if he messed up anything – Naruto slipped around the desk. The bottom drawer was still open. Naruto smirked. Bingo.
Naruto crouched down and stared at its contents. A couple of scrolls, an old tattered book, and a collection of loose papers. All of them with the Uchiha mon on them. Naruto reached in and pulled the bunch of them out and dropped them on the table top.
Kakashi-sensei moved away from the doorway then to join him. “This it?”
Naruto nodded, then paused. “Well, it’s all I can see right away, I guess. Wouldn’t put it beyond the guy to have some kind of hidden latch in there.”
“We’ll start with this,” Kakashi-sensei replied. He reached out and poked each of the scrolls with one long finger. “These are both still rolled up. If he was looking for something, was in a rush and was interrupted, it would make sense that he wouldn’t have taken the time to re-roll them.”
“But if there was a third, he could have just taken it with him or burnt it or something,” Naruto added.
Kakashi-sensei nodded. “Of course. But again, let’s start with what we have. We’ll move on after that.”
“Right.” Naruto snatched up the book and started thumbing through it. It looked like some kind of scrapbook or some sort of thing. Huh. Go figure. Most of it had written notes in it, name and dates, sometime bits and pieces of information. There were even a few pictures carefully attached to blank pages. “Hey, are all these people related to Sasuke?” he asked.
Kakashi-sensei didn’t glance up from the papers he was sifting through. “It would appear these are all clan records.”
“Guess so. Some of these dates are pretty old.” Naruto paused to stare at a picture of a genin team made up of what looked like only Uchihas. Written underneath were three names, each with two dates written beside them. The latter dates were all the same, and not that long after the first. That didn’t sound good. He quickly flipped to another page. There were even some official documents in there, that or copies of them. Letters of recognition, letters of discharge, even a couple of newspaper clippings.
He kept flipping through it. There didn’t seem to be anything really useful about information about a bunch of dead people, but it was kind of interesting to hold Uchiha history in his hands. Besides, he didn’t have any better ideas than waiting for Kakashi-sensei to figure out what they were looking for.
Towards the end of the book, however, the steady flow of page after page seemed off. Naruto frowned and flipped back to check it. “There’s a page missing.” Kakashi-sensei stopped what he was doing and looked up. Naruto glanced over at him then smiled sheepishly. “See?” he said as he held out the book for the older man to see. “You can see the torn part in the middle.”
Without a word Kakashi-sensei reached out and took the book from him. “These entries are recent,” he announced quietly. “About thirty or so years ago.”
“Before the massacre?” Naruto asked. It was kind of hard to imagine a time before then.
Kakashi-sensei glanced up long enough to glare at him. “If it was made long before Itachi was even born, then yes, it would stand to reason before the massacre.”
“I knew that,” Naruto snapped back. “I was just thinking out loud, you know?”
Kakashi-sensei stared at him for a moment longer, then went back to studying the book. He flipped a few pages back, then several forward. “All of these people are recorded as dead. There’s no entries about anyone who could have still been alive for the massacre.”
“So it hasn’t been updated lately?”
“No, there are entries up until the massacre, but all have a death date. Which makes sense. Keeping any information about living nin so openly comes with a risk.”
“So why would Itachi care about some people who where already dead before he went all crazy?”
Kakashi-sensei stared silently at the pages on either side of the one missing. Naruto tried to wait patiently. He stared at the outside of the book. Then he stared at the pages on the desk. Then he stared at the stuff on the wall to the right. Just as he was about to give up and sit down to wait, Kakashi-sensei changed. His one visible eye narrowed very slowly. That was not good.
“What is it?” Naruto demanded. “What’s the bastard planning? Is it some kind of twisted zombie move or something? Or maybe he and Sasuke aren’t really related. Or maybe -”
“There may have been a Uchiha he didn’t kill.”
Naruto stared at his teacher. “Um, yeah. His name’s Sasuke.”
That narrowed eye shifted up from the page and something in Naruto shriveled up a little under its gaze.
“Sasuke might have a cousin.”
Naruto had to sit down after that, to hell with not damaging anything. “A cousin?” he repeated. “Like his father’s sister’s kid or his mother’s brother’s -”
“His father’s handicapped brother, if I’m reading the right.”
Naruto frowned. That just didn’t make any sense. It was the kind of stupid crazy thing that would happen in one of ero-sensei’s novels. The long lost brother of such and such. “How would Itachi not know about this?”
“The dates here indicate that there was significant damage to his eyes as an infant. Degenerative. The medical nin’s expected him to be completely blind before the age of ten. No hope of the sharingan whatsoever. It’s little wonder no one spoke of it. Part of the medical file is included here,” Kakashi-sensei explained before turning the book so that Naruto could see.
Naruto shook his head again. “But then where was he when – you know – everything happened?”
Kakashi-sensei turned the book back around and flipped the page. “There’s an official adoption paper in here.”
“What? Let me see!” Naruto jumped up and leaned over to see himself. Sure enough, that’s what it looked like. It was really weird looking though, like it was written in some kind of code, with a seal he’d never seen before on it. But there were blanks for people’s names and for dates and lots of signatures and even another seal down in the corner with two big people holding the hands of a little person.
Naruto glanced up at Kakashi-sensei. “Can you read it?”
Kakashi-sensei had pushed back his headband at some point and both of his eyes were shifting rapidly back and forth across the page. “Some of it,” he finally replied. “I’ve seen examples of it before, but not enough to learn the entire language. It’s not code. It’s one of the outer countries’ languages.”
Naruto shifted back so that he wasn’t stretched out all awkwardly trying to see the book from across the desk. He stared at the mess left behind for a moment. “So you really think this means that Sasuke’s uncle’s still alive or that he might have cousins somewhere?”
Kakashi-sensei looked up. “It’s possible. Considering Itachi’s interest, it’s certainly possible. There’s a death date here for the Uncle, but there’s also a note that he had married a few years before that. Most people have kids once they get married. Which makes one or more cousin’s a distinct possibility.”
Naruto scowled. “But why now? Why didn’t Itachi check for this earlier? He doesn’t seem like the kind of guy to make mistakes.”
Kakashi-sensei shrugged. “Who knows? We don’t know exactly what that page said. And everyone makes mistakes.” Kakashi-sensei grinned a little when he said that last piece, kind of like the way a guard dog smirks right before tearing a chunk out of you, like he had no problem making somebody else dead when they made such mistakes.
Naruto grinned back before returning to the more immediate problem. “So what’d we tell Sasuke?”
“Yes, it’s a possibility.”
“A hitherto unknown cousin from a forgotten blind uncle that left the country some thirty years ago for some place that is not even on the map.”
Kakashi was making that ridiculous grinning face that made Sasuke want to deck him. Which Kakashi knew. Which was why he made that face to begin with. But none of that changed the fact that the man was suggesting Sasuke had a cousin of all things.
Finding out that Orochimaru wanted to repent seemed more likely.
“And how have I never heard of this before?” Sasuke replied as calmly as he could manage. He was still confined to a hospital bed despite his protests. Sakura had learned long ago how to ignore him, and would not be beyond breaking some more ribs if that was what it took to keep him where she wanted him. She had not left his side since he had woken up for the second time. The restriction was making it even more difficult to control his temper, and the constant lack of privacy was becoming increasingly annoying.
“Kakashi-sensei and I got that all figured out!” Naruto replied immediately. He flipped out the worn volume that they had returned with and waved it about. “See, we figure it must have been real embarrassing for your dad and granddad for your uncle to be blind and everything, so they didn’t ever talk about him. And this page here, see, we think that’s some kind of adoption thing cause it sure looks like one and Kakashi-sensei can read a little of it and he thinks so to, so yeah. It all makes sense, actually.”
It really should not. All of this seemed very against everything he had known about his clan. Degenerative eye disease? That kind of thing happened only to other people. Adoption paper from a distant country? He could not even read the document Naruto had shown him. Besides which, how would his infant uncle have found his way out to such a distant place? He had never even heard of anyone going to or coming from such foreign places. He had heard a handful of tales way out on the edge of known civilization of other places, other civilizations with no nin, no chakra. Places filled with strange languages and super machines that fought in the place of people. It all had sounded very ridiculous. He had dismissed it all – and now this.
“It’s the best explanation possible,” Kakashi said quietly.
Sasuke shook his head. “It is just not possible.”
“Sure it is,” Naruto repeated. “We’ve got it all right here, see-”
“That does not prove anything, you imbecile!”
“Sasuke-” Sakura reached out from beside him as if to touch him on the arm but he folded them across his chest before she had the chance to.
“It is just not possible,” he repeated harshly. For a moment no one said anything. Sasuke glared down at the sheets and the other three did that thing. It was the thing where they would all take turns looking at each other, talking about him without even having to say a word. They had been doing it ever since he had come back.
“Just go the fuck away,” he hissed out. He could not deal with this right now. He needed to think. Needed to plan. Needed to go over and over this latest fight with that man and analyze it. He obviously still was not strong enough. He had improved, but so had Itachi. Sasuke was not doing enough, clearly. He needed a better plan.
“And if you do have a cousin?” Kakashi demanded. He held up his hands quickly when Sasuke turned to glare at him. “Let’s just assume there’s a remote possibility. What do you think your brother will do with such knowledge?”
“Kill him, of course,” Sasuke replied and as soon as he said it, he knew exactly what Kakashi meant. If this cousin existed, then Itachi would see to it that he would not for much longer. Itachi would finish what he started all those years ago and destroy everyone else in the clan. And there was a chance that Sasuke could stop him.
He had the covers thrown back and his feet swung over before Sakura managed to react. Within a second, however, she was holding him down with a hand on each shoulder and a fierce look in her eyes. “No way. Not yet.”
“You do not understand-”
“You’re going to have to wait, Sasuke,” Kakashi interrupted.
Sasuke jerked around to glare at him. “Do you think Itachi will wait?”
“No, but we don’t know where we’re going yet,” Naruto answered. His jaw was set and his eyes focused determinedly down at the book he held in his lap.
Sasuke relaxed slightly. He was right. They would not be able to leave immediately, but they would have to leave very soon if they hoped to intersect Itachi.
“Let me study that document some,” Kakashi said. He stepped over to take the book from Naruto but did not glance away from Sasuke. “I’ve seen some of this language before, and I know someone who might know a bit more of it. Hopefully we can get a starting location from this.”
Naruto groaned suddenly. “We’re all going to have to learn that funny language, aren’t we?” Naruto caught Sasuke staring at him and grinned like an idiot. “After all, we’re coming with you right? Nothing like Team 7 for a rescue mission! Though maybe I’ll leave the funny blocky language to you and Sakura…”
Sasuke stopped listening. The four of them together would stand a better chance of being able to find and rescue this mysterious cousin – if Itachi had not already killed him.