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Atonement

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Chapter 1: The Beginning

 

            Uchiha Sasuke had not enjoyed a peaceful night’s sleep in several weeks. However, he had dropped off the last few missing-nin, or at least their heads and forehead protectors, and currently, had enjoyed a real bath, a decent meal, and a soft bed, courtesy of the Kazekage. It was somewhat peculiar that he was dreaming of the Sage of the Six Paths, but he tried to pay attention. The gods, it seemed, were unhappy with him. They were, however, giving him another chance to redeem not only himself, but the Uchiha. And that was a chance Sasuke could not afford to lose. So of course, he said yes. They had even given him a gift, of sorts, a permanent blend of ninjutsu and genjutsu, to hide the Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan in his eyes, and for that, he was grateful. However, when he awoke, it took him a moment to realize that they had also had a sense of humor.

             Uchiha Sasuke was now a female.

 

            He slowly slid out from underneath the covers. His pajamas, he noted, were at least a tasteful shade of dark blue instead of being pink. He glanced in the mirror. He was approximately six years old and honestly did not look much different, although his hair was a longer and perhaps his eyelashes as well. His center of balance was slightly lower. Sasuke shrugged and proceeded to the bathroom. So he would have to sit on the toilet to urinate. That was a small price to pay for the chance to save his clan and see his parents and older brother alive again. After brushing his teeth, Sasuke checked his closet and was relieved to see that it was mostly in shades of black and dark blue, with a few greens and reds. There was no pink or orange in sight. He settled on his usual outfit of a black shirt and shorts and then headed downstairs to breakfast.

            Unfortunately, Itachi was not there. Sasuke greeted his parents, and tried very hard not to cry at the sheer fact at seeing them both smiling at him and alive. He blamed it partially on the fact that he was a child and partially on the fact that he was a girl, but nonetheless, they were alive and real. Breakfast was traditional, miso soup and rice, a dish of pickled vegetables, and broiled mackerel. Sasuke ate slowly, glad that no one hurried him up, so he could study his parents, memorizing their features. Eventually, his father put down his cup of tea and morning newspaper and left for the police station, and he plucked up his courage to ask his mother if he could help wash the dishes. Mikoto was slightly surprised, but pleased, and said of course. What a thoughtful child Satsuki was.

            Sasuke asked his mother when Itachi would be returning from his mission, but unfortunately, all Mikoto could tell him was soon. Sasuke was not completely certain as to how he would react when Itachi came home. He knew for a fact that Itachi loved him, which brought a slight blush to his cheeks, as his last memory of Itachi was Itachi disappearing as Edo Tensei was released and telling him that he would love him forever. With that memory firmly in place, even if Itachi were to ignore him, he could deal with it.

            After helping with the dishes, Sasuke returned to his room. It was a week before he was to enter the academy, he found, from the calendar. That was fine. His chakra reserves, while higher than they had been when he had been six years old in his original timeline, were pitifully low compared to himself at nineteen years of age, as was to be expected. He shrugged and began to go through a few basic kata, being careful not to attempt anything beyond what he would know at this point in time, based on his memories of being Uchiha Satsuki. He could handle this. Yes, he would be a kunoichi, instead of a shinobi, but surely, it would not be all that different? And, perhaps, he would finally figure out what the girls actually did when they went off for kunoichi training in the afternoons three days a week.

           

            Three days later, Itachi returned. Sasuke had prepared ahead of time, as much as he was able, to lessen the shock, and seeing Itachi with one arm in a sling after his perfect mission record would have been a shock to anyone, not just Satsuki, so it was perfectly reasonable for Satsuki to shout for her older brother, and then promptly throw herself into Itachi’s arms, despite Itachi having one arm in a cast.

            “Calm down, Satsuki,” Itachi said, having managed to catch Satsuki with his good arm. Behind him, his teammates made their farewells as his father and mother rose to greet him.

            “What happened?” Fugaku asked. Itachi was a prodigy, the pride of the Uchiha clan, but even geniuses, it seemed, could make mistakes. Mikoto gently helped Itachi sit, Satsuki still attached to her older brother like a limpet.

            “It was a multiple layered trap,” Itachi explained, and then he and his father engaged in a technical discussion involving genjutsu and several earth techniques that they assumed went over Sasuke’s head while Sasuke just cuddled and reminded himself that Itachi was alive and safe for now and he didn’t miss the fact that his brother was going to be on medical leave for at least the next six weeks until his arm healed naturally.

            For the first time in a long while, Sasuke smiled.

 

            “So, how was your first day at the Academy, Satsuki?” Itachi asked as he and Sasuke walked home. Sasuke smiled up at his older brother.

            “It was not too hard,” He replied, resisting the urge to say that it was easy, as he had already been through the academy before. Kunoichi training had been interesting, although a tad disappointing. While he understood the need for a kunoichi to portray herself as an ordinary woman in order for a successful infiltration mission, he did not quite understand how flower arranging played a role. Perhaps he could ask his mother later. At least he had seen Ino and Sakura amiably chatting with each other, and what a relief that he was now female so they were no longer competing over him. Instead, they divided their attention between Namikaze Naruto and Yamada Sai.

 

            Nonetheless, Sasuke was still a mischievous child, so as they passed a convenience store, he paused, an idea coming to mind. Itachi looked mildly curious.

            “I need to buy something, niisan. It will only take a few minutes.” Sasuke explained. “It’s for homework.”

            “I’ll wait outside,” Itachi replied, bemused, wondering what sorts of supplies Satsuki would need from a convenience store for her homework. Was that also part of kunoichi training? Satsuki emerged a few minutes later with a large paper bag, but without another word, a smile on her face. Itachi raised an eyebrow, but said nothing, and the two of them went home in silence. Satsuki said nothing unusual at dinner, either, save for requesting his help, and of course, Itachi was happy to give it, although he was curious that it was not a request for extra training.

           

            Ten minutes later, Itachi was feeling much less sure of himself. He realized with a sinking feeling that Satsuki had indeed taken her kunoichi training to heart. So here he was, in front of a large mirror, hair pulled back neatly, with a towel draped over his shoulders. Satsuki had thoughtfully bought not only a one-hundred color palette of eye shadow, mascara, foundation that perfectly matched their skin tone, several shades of blush, a dozen lipsticks and an eyelash curler and tweezers, but also two Emory boards and several bottles of nail polish, along with cotton balls, nail polish remover, and some cold cream in case she made mistakes.

            “Are you ready, niisan?” She asked politely.

            “Ah… Satsuki,” Itachi hesitated. “Perhaps you should ask mother to help…”

            “Niisan,” Sasuke said, makeup brush in hand, his Sharingan on, not willing to miss an instant of this. “You promised.

           

            Four hours later, Fugaku finally kicked the two of them out of the bathroom so he could take a bath. Mikoto took one look at Itachi’s face. “Why, Satsuki,” She said. “Itachi looks lovely.”

            Satsuki beamed. Itachi tried not to scowl. He had suffered through precisely thirty-two different iterations of Satsuki’s astonishingly talented makeup skills, but she not decided which one was perfect. And, on top of that, she had taken pictures of every single one with her camera. “But,” Mikoto continued. “I thought you were doing ikebana today?”

            Itachi’s brain stuttered to a halt.

 

            “We were,” Sasuke admitted, without a trace of guilt. “But I cannot understand how flower arranging helps one to pass as a lady. And if one is passing as a spy, perhaps the enemy can see through a disguise technique. But with makeup…”
            Mikoto chuckled quietly. “All right, Satsuki. I will explain it to you later.” She said. “Itachi, why don’t you go clean your face off? Satsuki, you still have homework to do, don’t you? You should go work on that.”

            Sasuke nodded and walked off to his room, leaving Itachi staring after him.

 

            “She tricked me,” Itachi muttered dumbly.

            “She is a kunoichi now,” Mikoto replied, with a smile on her face. “We may not be as skilled in direct combat as shinobi, but we are practiced in the art of deception.”

            Itachi dearly loved his little sister, but this was the first time in his life he felt for one instant, the murderous impulse to strangle her. At the same time, however, it was the first time he actually respected her as a fellow ninja.

            Mikoto put her hand on his shoulder, as though she knew what he was thinking, and smiled. She had not seen this much emotion out of Itachi in a long time, and as usual, it was Satsuki who had brought it out of him. “Satsuki did buy cold cream, didn’t she?” She asked. Itachi nodded. “I’ll lend you my makeup remover,” She told him. “You must be tired of cold cream by now.”

            “Thank you, mother,” Itachi replied, and realized that he meant it.

 

            Two days later, the next phase of Sasuke’s plan was ready. The man running the photo counter had very kindly made four copies of all the photographs Sasuke had taken of Itachi, and it was a Wednesday, so he would have kunoichi training in the afternoon again. Ami and her cohorts, having been soundly told off – and attacked – by Ino after picking on Sakura on Monday, had turned their eyes toward easier prey, and Sasuke had ‘accidentally’ bumped into Ami before leaving class yesterday. He had no doubt whatsoever in his mind that they would be picking on him today. The stage was set.

            Upon arriving early at the Academy, he discreetly slipped select photographs of Itachi into the lockers of Inuzuka Kiba, Aburame Shino, Yamanaka Ino, Akimichi Chouji, Nara Shikamaru, and Hyuuga Hinata. After a moment’s hesitation, he added one to the locker of Namikaze Naruto as well. It had been a surprise to learn that not only was Naruto acknowledged as the son of the Yondaime Hokage, the Fourth was still alive in this timeline. He would have to adjust his plans. Sasuke did not like acting on incomplete information, and he had even less information on the Fourth Hokage than he did on the Third.

            The morning class was uneventful, although he felt the glares from Ami all through Iruka-sensei’s lecture. Sasuke kept his eyes alternatively on the teacher and alternatively on his textbook, paying them no attention. It was rather pitiful, to be honest, compared to real killing intent. Nonetheless, he tolerated it until the afternoon session, when they broke for kunoichi training. They were doing origami today, which was perfect. Sasuke accepted an instruction booklet and a small stack of pretty paper and took a seat in the back of the room. Then, he took out his remaining stash of Itachi photographs.

            Almost immediately, Ami and her followers zeroed in on him. “What do you have there, Satsuki?” Ami simpered as she grabbed the photographs. “Oh, were you trying to look pretty?” Sasuke tried hard not to roll his eyes. Were they really that stupid that they couldn’t tell the difference between a six-year old girl and an eleven-year old boy?

            “Well, it didn’t work! I can’t believe you even drew lines under your eyes! You look uglier than ever! I’m going to show these to everyone so they’ll see just how ugly you are!” Ami snickered as the two girls behind her nodded.

            Hook, line, and sinker, Sasuke thought, hiding a smirk as Ami and her two cohorts walked off, before turning his attention to the origami.

 

That night…

 

            “Mom, Satsuki-chan put this picture in my locker. Do you think she likes me?” Kiba asked between bites of a chicken leg.

            “…That isn’t Satsuki…” Hana said slowly, as Kiba shoved the picture across at the two of them. “That’s Itachi.”

            “Hahaha! So that’s what the Uchiha gets up to in his spare time? No wonder the Uchiha are so screwed up!” Tsume barked out a laugh as Kuromaru peeked over her shoulder. The four of them stared at the picture of Itachi Uchiha, lovingly lipsticked, with vibrant red eye shadow.

            “…I am so glad I wasn’t one of his fangirls.” Hana muttered.

 

            Shino and his father, Shibi silently ate their simple meal of vegetables and whole grains, while studying the picture of Uchiha Itachi, wearing quite neutral-toned eye shadow and pale pink lipstick. No words needed to be said, as from the chittering of their kikaichu, it was easy to tell that they were just slightly disturbed.

 

            “Does Satsuki-chan have an older sister?” Ino asked her father. “I wish I had an older sister, so I could dress her up too.”

            “Ah,” Inoichi scratched his ponytail awkwardly. “Satsuki-chan has an older brother.”

            Ino frowned for a moment. When she looked up, she had a gleam in her eye. “Dad…” She said. “Can I dress you up then?”

 

            “So, Satsuki-chan put this picture in your locker, then?” Shikaku asked his son.

            Shikamaru nodded.

            “Troublesome,” The man said with a sigh.

 

            Chouji helped himself to another serving of pork spareribs in black bean sauce while his father, Chouza, studied the photograph with a smile.

            “We all have different ways to deal with stress, Chouji.” He shrugged.

            Chouji just nodded as he took another bite of rice. He thought Itachi looked rather pretty. He wondered if Satsuki-chan would look that pretty when she grew up.

 

            “Do you know why such behavior is disgraceful in a ninja, Hinata?” Her father said coldly from across the table.

            “N-no, f-father,” Hinata stuttered, staring down at her plate.

            Hyuuga Hiashi put the photograph of Itachi down with disdain. “Even in his leisure pursuits, a ninja must always be perfect.” He declared. “His lipstick is smudged – there.”

            Hinata almost choked.

 

            Yondaime Hokage Namikaze Minato studied the picture of Itachi with a slight smile. He was ever so glad he had decided to put Itachi on medical leave. It was clear that Itachi definitely needed the break.

            Naruto just slurped on his ramen.

 

            “Don’t you think Itachi looks beautiful, dear?” Mikoto asked her husband at dinner that night, showing him the assortment of photographs she had collected from several of her neighbors and fellow clansmen while grocery shopping.

            Fugaku tried not to choke on his noodles. “Yes, dear,” He agreed weakly, wondering if he would ever live down the shame of seeing his eldest son wearing makeup. There had been quite a few jokes and ribald comments about it at the police station…

            Sasuke beamed as he showed them the origami hawk and crow beating up the snake and the fox he had made.

 

            “Where did you get this photograph?” Itachi asked very calmly.

            “Not telling,” Shisui ruffled his younger cousin’s hair, despite the killer intent Itachi was radiating. Next to him, Kakashi chuckled.

            “The blue eye shadow really does bring out your eyes, Itachi-kun.”

            “And is that pink nail polish you’re wearing?” Shisui added cheerfully.

            Itachi still couldn’t figure out where Satsuki had hidden the camera.

 

            It was not all about the humiliation. Sasuke wanted to make the Uchiha Clan seem a little more approachable, a little more human. And it just so happened to be that Itachi was the genius of the Uchiha Clan, so bringing their genius down to earth…

            Needless to say, tomorrow would be an interesting day.

 

End Chapter

Started 2/18/16

Completed 2/23/16

Chapter Text

The next day, Sasuke put the next part of his plan in motion. If he needed to change the Uchiha Clan and have them build stronger bonds with the rest of Konoha to prevent the dissatisfaction that had lead to the attempted coup, he needed allies. And, at six years of age, he doubted he could sway the clan elders to his side. He did not have enough chakra to Tsukuyomi even one of them, and that would be letting the cat out of the bag. Using the Rinnegan was even more out of the question. He had briefly thought of telling Itachi or Shisui, but quashed the thought. Maybe he would tell Itachi later. For now, he needed to train and build up his chakra and other skills, but in the meantime…

            “Satsuki-chan,” Sakura and Ino looked up at him in surprise. He had never really approached them before. Granted, it was only day four of the Academy…

            “May I eat lunch with you?” Sasuke asked.

            “Sure,” Ino said, scooting aside, Sakura hesitantly following her example. “So, what’s in the bag?” She asked curiously, wondering why Satsuki was carrying a large paper bag along with her bento box.

 

            “Here, take a look.” Sasuke invited them. Ino squealed in excitement, seeing the remaining makeup Sasuke had after torturing – ahem, practicing his kunoichi skills on Itachi. Sakura peeked in after her. “Is this your mother’s?”

            “No, it’s mine.” Sasuke assured them. “Do you want to come over and play after school?” He had asked his mother in the morning, if he could have friends over, and Mikoto had assured him that it was fine, glad that Satsuki was finally opening up and making friends. Going to the Academy was good for her, giving her more interaction with people outside of the Clan. Fugaku had just nodded, still a little stunned.

            “I’d love to,” Ino said gleefully. “What about you, Sakura-chan.”

            “I… I’ll have to ask my mother, Satsuki-chan,” She said shyly. Sasuke smiled at Sakura, feeling another stab of guilt. She had forgiven him, in the other life, but he resolved to be kinder to her in this one, just to make up for it.

            “So it’s settled then,” Ino said cheerfully. “We’re all going to your house after school!”

            Sasuke smiled, and began to eat his lunch.

 

            Itachi picked Satsuki up after school, a little bemused by the fact that Satsuki had actually made friends and invited them over to play after school. It helped take his mind off the incident with the photographs, at least until Ino opened her mouth.

            “Ah, Itachi-san, you’re so pretty!” Ino squealed. “I wish I had a big brother as pretty as you! Satsuki-chan and Sakura-chan and I are going to try on makeup together. Do you want to join us?”

            Itachi blinked, slowly and looked down at his little sister, who was trying to look as innocent as possible while holding his hand.

 

            “Actually,” He demurred, eying his little sister sideways. “Satsuki was the one who did my makeup for me, so I am sure she will be glad to teach you.”

            “You did, Satsuki-chan?” Sakura asked shyly. “Itachi-san looked really pretty.”

            “Yes,” Sasuke admitted grudgingly, having been expertly outmaneuvered. He could almost hear Itachi’s voice in his head, calling him his foolish little brother.

            “You definitely have to teach us!” Ino’s eyes gleamed with fiendish delight. Sasuke realized with a sinking feeling that perhaps he had bitten off more than he could chew.

            “M-Maybe we can do our hair too,” Sakura said shyly. “Itachi-san, y-you have long hair too, and with one arm in a cast, you probably can’t take care of it very well… why don’t we help you with that, and you can stay with us for a little bit. Please?”

            Sasuke could have kissed Sakura for that.

            “Well…” Itachi hesitated. Sasuke gave Itachi his best pleading look, and Ino and Sakura joined him.

            They had reached the Uchiha household by then, and Mikoto heard enough of the tail end of the conversation to give Itachi a look.

 

            “I’m certain that Itachi would love to spend the afternoon with his little sister and her friends, wouldn’t you, Itachi?” She asked, smiling and greeting them as they all took off their shoes in the foyer.

            Itachi might be the pride of the Uchiha clan, a ninjutsu genius, and in Anbu, but he was still an eleven-year old boy, and when his mother spoke to him like that, he knew there was only one way to answer. “Yes, mother.”

            “I’ll bring you and your friends a snack, Satsuki.” Mikoto smiled. “And your names are?” She asked. The blonde girl was clearly a Yamanaka, but who was the pink haired girl? Was she a civilian? That was interesting.

            Ino and Sakura introduced themselves, and Mikoto nodded, smiling at them both, before they headed to Sasuke’s room, trailed a bit begrudgingly by Itachi. Mikoto just smiled, remembering to get her camera. She was not going to miss taking pictures of this!

 

            Clearly, Itachi thought, he was being punished for not spending enough time with his little sister in the past. Satsuki was humming as she brushed his hair while Ino and Sakura practiced their makeup skills, one on each side of his face. He tried his best to hold still, keeping his eyes closed as the two of them debated which shade of lipstick would work better and tested out colors of eye shadow. That was when his mother opened the door to Satsuki’s room.

            Mikoto smiled when she saw Itachi sitting there, half made up. She just couldn’t resist taking a picture before she cleared her throat. “I brought you a snack, everyone.” She said. Ino cheered and threw everything aside, while Sakura more carefully put her tools down. Sasuke put down his hairbrush and gave Itachi a hug. “Look, niisan,” He said cheerfully. “It’s dango, your favorite.”

            Itachi opened his eyes slowly. So it was. Was this his mother’s way of apologizing to him for making him suffer through this indignity?

            Mikoto just gave him a smile as she handed him an extra skewer.

 

            Fortunately, after snack time, Satsuki gave both Ino and Sakura makeovers, and then the girls painted each other’s fingernails and toenails with nail polish, so Itachi mostly just had to watch them. That was when their topic of conversation turned to something else Itachi found dangerous – boys.

            “Ne, Satsuki-chan, who do you think is cuter, Sai or Naruto?” Ino asked innocently.

            They had already discussed and dismissed Nara Shikamaru (too lazy), Aburame Shino (too creepy), although Satsuki had mentioned that at least he was quiet, leading to a bit of disbelief from Ino and Sakura, Inuzuka Kiba (too annoying), plus Satsuki preferred cats, and Akimichi Chouji (he ate too much).

            “Why?” Itachi heard his little sister ask.

            “Because,” Ino said, wagging her finger. “Sakura-chan and I decided that when we grow up, I’m going to marry Sai, and she’s going to marry Naruto.”

 

            Sasuke almost choked. That was just too perfect. And in fact, last he knew, Ino was romantically interested in Sai, and with him out of the picture, Sakura might actually go for Naruto, although he wondered what would happen to Hinata. But they were six years old! Did girls actually talk about these things at this age?

            “So, who do you like?” Ino pressed. “Because if it’s Sai or Naruto, we’re going to have a problem…”

            And then Sasuke had the most perfect, brilliant idea.

            “I’m going to marry niisan, of course.”

            This time, it was Itachi who choked.

 

            “Good choice, Satsuki-chan!” Ino nodded authoritatively. “Sometimes it’s better to marry an older man!”

            Sakura wasn’t quite sure what to say. On one hand, she didn’t want to speak out. On the other hand, she wasn’t sure it was all right for Satsuki-chan to marry her older brother.

            “Ah, Satsuki, I don’t think we can get married.” Itachi began to say. Sasuke gave his brother a sad whimper, his eyes filling with tears.

            “You don’t love me?” He asked.

            “T-That’s not it, Satsuki…” Itachi said, not wanting to make his little sister cry. “Of course I love you… you know that, don’t you?” He asked, as Ino and Sakura glared at him with all the force two six-year old girls could muster. “Come here,” He said awkwardly, holding out his uninjured arm.

 

            Sasuke shyly approached Itachi, before cuddling into his side. A few minutes later, Mikoto knocked on the door. “Sakura-chan, Ino-chan, your parents are here.” She said. The two girls looked a little disappointed, but they gathered up their bags and thanked her politely. Sasuke walked them to the door, saying good-bye to them.

            “Did you and your friends have fun, Satsuki?” His mother asked.

            Sasuke nodded, giving her a smile, but she did not fail to notice the faint tear tracks on his face. “What happened, Satsuki?”

            “W-We were talking about boys and Itachi said he didn’t want to marry me when I grew up.” Sasuke sniffled.

            Itachi had the grace to look sheepish. “We would need father’s permission to marry, as he is the Head of the Uchiha Clan,” He hedged.

            “Very well,” Mikoto said, smile perfectly in place and tone not wavering an iota. “You can tell your father at dinner tonight. Go finish your homework, Satsuki.”

            Satsuki nodded.

            “Itachi,” Mikoto said. “Big brothers are not supposed to make their little sisters cry.”

           

            “Father,” Sasuke said at dinner that night. “I want to marry Itachi when I grow up.”

            Fugaku took another sip of his tea. Mikoto had kindly informed him of the situation after he had gotten off of work, so it did not come as a complete surprise. He figured that it was a phase she was going through. He looked over at his daughter, who nodded.

            “We need your permission, as the head of the Uchiha Clan.” Itachi added.

            “Are your intentions toward your sister honorable?” Fugaku asked, studying Itachi over the rim of his teacup, Sharingan blazing, as if to intimidate his son.

            “Perfectly,” Itachi said, tone calm and even, turning his own Sharingan on. “I love her.”

            Sasuke beamed. “I love niisan too.”

            “Permission granted,” Fugaku said, eyes returning to black. He then set down his teacup and picked up his chopsticks, eager to get started on the beef sukiyaki.

            “And witnessed,” Mikoto added, her Sharingan fading away as well.

            Sasuke, who had kept his own Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan secretly on through the entire drama, added another happy family memory, and decided that was that.

 

“You did what?” Shisui asked Itachi the next day.

            “I am engaged to marry Satsuki.” Itachi said with the faintest hint of a smile on his lips.

            “How did you get that past Fugaku?” His cousin sounded amazed. “I’ve always known you two were close, but I never thought…” He waggled his eyebrows suggestively.

            “It was actually her idea.” Itachi sounded amused. “And mother was the one who encouraged me to bring it up to father.”

            “Huh,” Shisui sounded impressed. “So he thinks it’s her idea? And you’re not going to enlighten him, are you?”

            “Why would I?” Itachi replied. “Satsuki still has to grow up.”

 

End Chapter

Started 2/23/16

Completed 2/23/16

Sasuke is a manipulative little snake, er, hatchling hawk. But so is Itachi…

Chapter Text

Sasuke was not really a dog person, but Kiba was loyal once he became a friend, and Akamaru was not as annoying as Kiba, and he could not only focus on the Yamanaka clan, and since he did not have much of an appetite for lunch today, he had given his beef short ribs to an appreciative Akamaru for lunch and some of his vegetables to Shino to feed to his kikaichu, eating only his rice and the tomatoes. It was just that the night before, he’d had a particularly vivid nightmare of being trapped in Itachi’s Tsukuyomi and having his eyes taken and had only eaten breakfast under Mikoto’s eagle eye and did not think he could handle lunch. Even soundly beating Ami in a taijutsu spar that morning had not improved his mood, and Ami had refused to make the sign of reconciliation after the match had ended. That was just fine with him. He would have refused anyway.

            “Thanks, Satsuki-chan.” Kiba told him, and Akamaru licked his hand. Sasuke gently patted Akamaru on his head. Akamaru wagged his tail.

            “Yes, thank you, Uchiha-san,” Shino said politely, glancing at the Uchiha heiress over the top of his sunglasses. While he could still not understand why she had slipped that photograph of her brother wearing make-up in his locker, perhaps it was some odd overture of friendship? After a moment’s hesitation, he extended his hand, and Sasuke took it, with the hand that had not just been licked by Akamaru.

            “You are welcome, Aburame-san.”

 

            Sakura and Ino ate their lunch together. Satsuki had told them she would be eating lunch with her other friends today. That was fine. They had eaten lunch together yesterday, after all, and on the weekend they were going to the park together.

            “She’s talking to Kiba and Shino.” Sakura observed.

            “Well… Kiba’s puppy is kind of cute.” Ino said, tilting her head to the side. “…Even if Kiba is loud and annoying.”

            “Do you think he’d let us pet Akamaru too?” Sakura asked timidly.

            “We’ll never know if we don’t ask.” Ino decided, getting up. “Let’s go ask.”

 

            Kiba looked up as the other two girls made their way over to him. “What do you want?”

            Sakura looked down, but Ino looked Kiba straight in the eye. “Can we pet Akamaru too?” She asked boldly.

            Kiba looked down at Akamaru, who was wagging his tail. “Sure, I guess.” He said, surprised. Sakura and Ino were soon stroking the puppy, who was delighted with the attention. Kiba shrugged. Girls… he’d never understand them. At least they weren’t being loud.

           

            “Sakura-chan, Ino-chan, look,” Sasuke interrupted the two of them. The two girls gasped quietly as they saw that Shino had a beautiful butterfly perched on his finger. The Aburame clan had an affinity for many species of insects, after all, not only their kikaichu. Even Kiba was rather impressed.

            “Wow, Shino-kun, that’s so cool.” Ino gushed, never having expected it out of the sunglasses-wearing boy. Sakura nodded with a faint blush on her cheeks as Shino held the butterfly a little closer to her.

            Shino was not precisely sure how Satsuki had talked him into this. The conversation had started off innocently enough, with Satsuki commenting on the Aburame clan’s affinity for insects and Shino explaining that it was not just their kikaichu, but many types of other insects, and then him demonstrating with a nearby beetle, and then Satsuki had commented that it was such nice weather, with the flowers blooming and whatnot, and then she had spotted a butterfly, so he had demonstrated that yes, it worked with butterflies too, and now he was the center of attention. It was not a feeling he was accustomed to.

            But, Shino thought, as the two girls leaned in more closely, it was not wholly uncomfortable. And the girls were not disgusted by his presence, either, with Ino actually putting a hand on his arm to steady herself as she took a closer look. Another butterfly landed on his outstretched hand, and then another.

            When the lunch bell rang, a few minutes later, they finally pulled away, but even then, neither of the girls looked frightened of him.

            “Thank you, Shino-kun.” Sakura said, without a hint of shyness. Ino just nodded, linking her arms with her friend as they walked back to class.

            “That was pretty awesome,” Kiba agreed, picking up Akamaru.

            Satsuki nodded, giving Shino a smile as she closed her bento box and began walking back to class. And against all logic, Shino found himself wanting to smile back.

 

            Well, Sasuke thought, that had gone better than he had expected. He was just glad that Akamaru had been so cute, in their words. That had gotten Ino and Sakura’s attention better than anything else he could have come up with. And spotting the butterfly had been a stroke of pure genius. Girls liked butterflies, didn’t they? And Shino had been able to attract even more of them! How fortuitous! That was the easy part. Getting to Chouji and Shikamaru would be a lot harder… Chouji liked food, but he knew very little about Shikamaru. To put it in the lazy genius’s own words, this was going to be troublesome.

           

            For kunoichi training in the afternoon, Sasuke took a seat at the desk next to Hinata, who looked a little surprised, but did not say a word.

            Today, the kunoichi was droning on about calligraphy. Sasuke had limited experience with fuuinjutsu, but he conceded that calligraphy could be very important for that reason, as well as making homemade explosive tags and storage seals and the like – all kinds of seals, really. So, he obediently picked up his brush and began to copy the very lengthy passage she had as an example. Next to him, he noticed Hinata doing the same. Her calligraphy was much neater – evidently, it was prized amongst the Hyuuga Clan.

             Sasuke made sure his Sharingan was turned off because he was not going to blatantly cheat off of Hinata’s hard work. That was when he noticed the shadow on top of his paper. It was Ami and her two dumb friends again. Honestly, was their teacher blind, or purposefully ignoring them?

           

            “What are you doing, Satsuki?” Ami sneered. “Were you trying to copy Hinata’s work? I guess the Uchiha heiress is just too dumb to write properly. She’s dumb and ugly just like all of the Uchiha!” Her friends giggled behind her.

            “S-Satsuki-chan is not like that!” Hinata said, sticking up for her. Sasuke blinked in surprise, flattered, and then glanced down at his paper again. Yes, there was no way anyone would mistake his somewhat smudged writing for Hinata’s flowing calligraphy script.

            “Stay out of this, Hinata.” Ami glared at the Hyuuga princess. “This is between me and her. She cheated this morning when we had our match! I know she did! There’s no way she could have beat me fair and square!”

            Hinata paled, but stayed resolute. However, Sasuke took her hand and squeezed it. “Thank you, Hinata-chan.” He said sincerely. “But I need to stand up for myself, too.” He quashed his first impulse to beat the snot out of the girl with taijutsu, his second impulse to trap them in a horrifying genjutsu, his third impulse to set off a fireball in the classroom, and settled on his fourth impulse, which was probably still not the best one.

            “Shinobi Law Number 1119 Section 26 Subsection IIA Part D,” Sasuke said calmly, “States that a shinobi member of a Clan, in the presence of a witness, may challenge another shinobi to a duel for defamation of said Clan. I challenge you, Inada Ami, to a duel, tomorrow afternoon, three P.M., at Azusa Park, with Hyuuga Hinata as my witness. Do you accept?”

            Hinata gasped, but nodded.

 

            Ami looked between the two girls, her face set in a mask of rage. “You Hyuuga bitch!” She snarled at Hinata and then turned to Satsuki. “You set this up, didn’t you?” She grabbed the ink stone and upended the ink all over both of their calligraphy pages.

            “Yeah, you Hyuuga are all perverts!” Kasumi added. “I bet you spend all your time peeking at people underneath their clothes!”

            “And you think you’re so special, blind eyes!” Fuki snickered.

            Something inside of Hinata snapped. Ami had picked on Satsuki for no reason whatsoever, and when Satsuki had challenged her to a perfectly fair and reasonable duel, had gotten angry, and then she had called her that horrible name, and ruined her calligraphy… and those other girls had said all those terrible things about her Clan… Hinata was not a vengeful girl at all, but her calligraphy was one of the few things she was proud of, and while her Clan might not be the kindest people in the world, they were still her family.

            “S-Shinobi Law Number 1119 S-Section 26 Subsection IIA Part D,” Hinata decided, “W-with Uchiha Satsuki as my witness, I-I am challenging you, Hamada Kasumi, and you, Otsuka Fuki, tomorrow at three-thirty and four P.M. at Azusa Park, respectively.”

            The silence in the classroom was deafening.

 

            “I accept!” Ami yelled. “This time I’ll beat you black and blue, you Uchiha slut!” She glared at her two followers, who hastily accepted as well.

            “Inada-san, watch your language!” The kunoichi instructor, who seemed to finally have started paying attention, snapped.

            “Hinata-chan, can you come to the police station with me after school today? We’ll need to file the paperwork.” Sasuke explained to Hinata.

            Hinata nodded, staring sadly at her ruined calligraphy.

            “You know,” Sasuke said thoughtfully. “I don’t know any jutsu, but I think Sai-kun might know. Why don’t we ask him after class?” Sai worked with ninja ink, didn’t he?

            Hinata looked a little more cheerful at that, and nodded.

 

            After class, the two of them hunted down Sai, who looked a little puzzled, but was able to mostly salvage Hinata’s calligraphy, by siphoning off the excess ink once Sasuke explained what had happened to him. Hinata gave Sai a grateful smile, thanking him several times. Then, the two of them waited for their respective parties to pick them up.

            Itachi and Hyuuga Daisuke arrived at roughly the same time. Hinata explained to Daisuke that she needed to go to the police station, so Daisuke and Itachi followed Satsuki and Hinata to the police station, somewhat perplexed as to what they needed.

            “Satsuki, what is it this time?” Itachi asked.

            “Hinata-chan and I need to fill out the form for Shinobi Law 1119 Section 26 Subsection IIA Part D.” Sasuke explained without batting an eye.

            Itachi and Daisuke exchanged looks, automatically nodding before they realized what Satsuki had said. “What?”

           

            “Who are you dueling?” Itachi asked, trying to figure out how his little sister had even known about Shinobi Law 1119 Section 26 Subsection IIA Part D and challenged someone to a duel over Clan honor. True, his father had mentioned it several times at dinner, but he had never thought Satsuki would be paying attention to clan politics!

            “Inada Ami. She said the Uchiha were dumb and ugly.” Satsuki said. “It’s at 3 P.M. at Azusa Park tomorrow, and Hinata-chan is my witness.”

            A civilian girl, Itachi thought, so undoubtedly Satsuki would win, but…

            “Stay right here,” Itachi said, and flickered to his father’s office.

 

            “Who are you dueling, Hinata-sama?” Daisuke asked.

            Hinata explained about the two civilian girls, and how she had challenged them to a duel over Clan honor. Daisuke paled.

            “Stay right here,” He said, and flickered to Hyuuga Hiashi’s office.

           

            Itachi had just finished explaining the situation to his father when Hyuuga Hiashi flickered into his office alongside a flustered looking Hyuuga Daisuke.

            It was a well-known fact that there had always been bad blood between the Uchiha and the Hyuuga Clans. Being the two Clans that wielded the most power within Konoha, both famed for their dojutsu, always the sly remarks wondering about which came first – well, there was no doubt that they did not get along.

            But at the moment, Uchiha Satsuki and Hyuuga Hinata were sitting in the officer’s break room, sharing plastic Styrofoam cups of hot chocolate and a glazed donut while waiting patiently for an officer to bring copies of form 1119-26-IIA-D.

            Both Fugaku and Hiashi were well aware of the fact, both able to see the video surveillance footage in Fugaku’s office.

 

            “So, Satsuki and Hinata are going to defend our Clan honor,” Hiashi said at last.

            “Yes,” Fugaku said, meeting the man’s eyes unflinchingly. To his surprise, Hiashi did not even attempt to activate his Byakugan, so, conversely, Fugaku did not activate his Sharingan, either.

            “They look at ease with each other.” Hiashi finally admitted. “I admit that I am surprised.”

            “I am as well,” Fugaku admitted. “But it is a pleasant one.”

            “I will, of course, be in attendance to cheer them on.” Hiashi stated pleasantly. “The Hyuuga Clan will of course provide refreshments.”

            “Then the Uchiha Clan shall, as well,” Fugaku conceded, with an equally polite smile, making a mental note to clear all other activities at Azusa Park for the day just in case. And they would need umbrellas, and awnings, and perhaps a barbeque later on in the day…

            Their discussion concluded, they went to help out their daughters fill out the more complicated kanji needed for form 1119-26-IIA-D.

           

End Chapter

Started 2/23/16

Completed 2/23/16

Chapter Text

Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny. Sasuke woke up feeling better than ever. He reminded himself not to be overconfident and he brushed his hair and brushed his teeth. He washed his face and changed out of his pajamas into a black shirt and black shorts and wrapped the bandages around his calves. He said good morning to his mother and father. His mother had been worried last night after his father told her the news but both Itachi and his father assured her that it was fine and of course it was not a duel to the death. And Ami would have to formally apologize to the Uchiha Clan once she lost so all would be well. And, in the best case scenario, Sasuke thought, maybe it would get that bully kicked out of the Academy. It was a waste of resources, training a civilian like her whose only purpose in life seemed to be picking on other children.

            Sasuke had double-checked his equipment last night to make sure that everything was properly sharpened, and his supplies were prepared, but he checked it again this morning just in case. Finally satisfied that everything was ready, he decided that it was time for breakfast.

 

            “Good morning, imouto,” Itachi greeted him as he padded down the stairs.

            “Good morning, niisan,” He replied.

            “Are you nervous?” Itachi asked, glancing sideways at his little sister. Outwardly, she looked calm enough, but he sensed her chakra was somewhat shaky.

            “A little,” Sasuke admitted. He did not want to be overconfident and mess up in front of his Clan. He did not think he could live down the shame.

            “Do your best,” Itachi said, giving him a hint of a smile. Sasuke nodded, and then sat down at the breakfast table. Fugaku and Mikoto were already waiting for him.

            “Good morning, Satsuki.” Mikoto said.

            “Remember, Satsuki,” Fugaku said. “You hold the honor of the Uchiha Clan in your hands now.”

            “Yes, father,” Sasuke replied, trying to calm his nerves as he picked up his chopsticks. He could not – would not – fail.

 

            “Good luck, Hinata-sama,” Neji said as they walked to Azusa Park together.

            “T-Thank you, Neji-niisan,” Hinata stuttered. Last night, she had felt quite confident as she had filled out the form with her father’s hands steady over hers. This morning, however, she had barely been able to finish eating breakfast. Never mind that the duel was not until late afternoon. It seemed that most of the Hyuuga Clan had decided – or been ordered – to join them at Azusa Park today.

            As they walked closer, her nervousness only increased. Evidently, the Uchiha Clan was also out in full force.

            “Hinata-chan,” She heard Satsuki call out to her. “Over here!”

            Hinata waved at her friend, and hesitated. Satsuki was not alone. She spotted Sakura, Ino, Kiba, Shino, Sai, Naruto, Shikamaru, and Chouji with her. Neji hesitated, but Hinata smiled and tugged his hand, bringing him over.

 

            “Hi, Hinata-chan,” Satsuki said. “Who’s your friend?”

            “T-This is Neji-niisan,” Hinata introduced him, only stuttering a little as she introduced him to all of her classmates. Neji nodded.

            “What are all of you doing here?” He asked, curious. He had not expected to see such a large gathering.

            “Satsuki-chan and I are playing today,” Sakura said shyly.

            “Yes, and she invited me too!” Ino declared.

            “We came to see Satsuki-chan beat Ami up!” Kiba cheered. Akamaru barked, nodding.

            Shino adjusted his sunglasses. “Ami needs to be taught a lesson in respect. She deliberately stepped on my kikaichu.”

            “I’m here for the picnic later.” Chouji admitted, popping another potato chip in his mouth from the bag he was holding.

“Well,” Shikamaru yawned, “Ino and Sakura told us what happened in kunoichi class… and somehow, my parents decided that I should come… troublesome…”

“My dad made me come, but I want to do all those things!” Naruto declared.

Sai just shrugged.

 

Now that the introductions were made, the eleven of them could get down to serious business which of course, was playing. The adults found themselves chatting together surprisingly amiably, especially when Hyuuga Hotaru walked up to Uchiha Mikoto and brought up the Itachi incident. That soon had all the women gossiping together like old friends while the men edged together and tried to pretend they weren’t desperately trying to ignore what their wives were talking about.

 

“Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair…” Sai begged loudly while Ino posed prettily on top of the play structure.

“Growl! I’m the dragon and I’m not going to let you get to the princess!” Kiba menaced Sai, curling his fingers like claws while Akamaru barked from atop his head.

“Oh, save me!” Ino cried out dramatically.

            “I shall save you!” Sai said, wielding a stick like a sword, silently grateful he had left his best calligraphy brushes at home, as he didn’t want to accidentally put out Kiba’s eye, or ruin his brush.

Sasuke could not believe that his suggestion had worked so well. Who knew that book of Western fairy tales he had read would actually come in handy?

 

Sakura and Hinata were on the swings, trying to see which one of them could swing higher. Chouji and Naruto were bouncing up and down on the seesaw. Shikamaru was lying on his back and watching the clouds. Sasuke went over to join Neji and Shino in the sandbox.

Shino was, Sasuke saw, using his kikaichu to help him move the sand. As Sasuke and Neji watched, they began to build a sand castle. They watched in fascination, soon joined by the other kids. Even Naruto and Kiba quieted down as they watched each layer of the sandcastle form, with complex turrets and intricate little details, before Shino and his kikaichu needed a break. Then, they played tag.

All too soon, it was time for lunch.

 

At fifteen minutes to three, Ami, Fuki, and Kasumi showed up. They paid no notice to the assembled Clan members. They were accompanied by their parents, of course, but no one else, save for a hassled-looking Shiranui Genma, who had been personally sent by the Yondaime Hokage. It seemed that he, if no one else, took this matter seriously.

Honestly, Genma thought, it was not as though these kids were like Kakashi or Itachi at six years of age. It was two slightly above average six year old Clan girls against three civilian girls who had, unfortunately, insulted two members of Konoha’s eminent Clans.  

“The Hokage has sanctioned the duels.” Genma said calmly. “However, these duels will not be to the death.”

“Of course,” Fugaku Uchiha stated. Hyuuga Hiashi agreed with a curt nod.

“The duels will continue until one combatant is unable to battle or surrenders. Is that acceptable?” Genma asked. “In case of severe, potentially life or limb-threatening injury, I will step in and stop the combat.”

 

“Acceptable,” Hyuuga Hiashi said firmly. Fugaku inclined his head. The civilian parents looked slightly shocked, before nodding, but all present doubted that at six years of age, any damage of that magnitude would be done.

Ami had an obnoxious smirk on her face. Sasuke frowned a little. Her chakra levels were substantially higher than the day before. That was an unpleasant surprise. Had she eaten a soldier pill or something similar? No… he narrowed his eyes. She must have been suppressing her chakra using some method or the other. He would have to be careful. With that much chakra, she could pull off at least a few jutsu, assuming she knew them, and he knew without a doubt that she did.

And, Sasuke thought, as Genma laid out the rules, allowing the use of taijutsu, genjutsu, and ninjutsu, as well as any tools they had on them, getting a feel for Ami’s chakra, Azusa Park had a lake.

This was going to be unpleasant.

 

Of course, Ami requested that they battle close to the lake, and not wanting to cause any damage to the playground, the request was accepted. Sasuke mentally ran down what he could safely use without blowing his cover. They had already covered the clone, substitution, and disguise techniques in the Academy, and he had learned the grand fireball and how to throw kunai and shuriken, as well as the Uchiha style taijutsu, but… Was she actually going to blow her cover? That was good for Konoha, but not so good for him in the situation, and Sasuke did not like to lose.

“Begin,” Genma said, bringing his hand down.

Instead of engaging her immediately, Sasuke leapt backwards, getting out of range. Ami laughed. “Afraid of getting beat up, aren’t you? Well, that’s not going to do you any good!” She said, making the familiar set of hand seals – Ox, Snake, Ram, activating the hiding in the mist technique. It was, of course, a D-Rank jutsu, so it was not completely out of the realm of possibility for an Academy student to know, but it was also a specialty of the Hidden Mist Village.

There were audible gasps from the assembled Academy students, and although the adults hid their reactions better, Hyuuga Hiashi immediately activated his Byakugan, and Uchiha Fugaku made a hand signal. Immediately, several members of the Uchiha police force had surrounded the civilian parents and their children.

 

“Will Satsuki-chan be okay?” Sakura asked, worried.

“Don’t give up, Satsuki-chan! Kick her ass!” Kiba yelled. Akamaru whimpered a little, hiding in Kiba’s coat. Ami was bloodthirsty…

Shino stayed silent. How could he have misjudged the situation?

“Satsuki-chan…” Hinata said quietly, activating her Byakugan. Next to her, Neji did the same.

 

“Run like the coward you are, you Uchiha slut!” Ami laughed. “You can’t hide from me!” She would enjoy gutting the Uchiha girl. The rational part of her mind reminded her that she would have a lot of explaining to do later. That part of her mind was not very loud at the moment. Most of it was buried under the part that was clamoring for the need to make Uchiha Satsuki crawl and bleed.

Sasuke might not have the advantage of hyper acute senses like the Inuzuka, or the Byakugan to see through the mist like the Hyuuga, but as long as Ami was going to keep being loud like that, at least he could concentrate on the sound of her voice. He deliberately threw a rock towards her, and missed of course, causing her to run towards him. Evidently, she was not yet a master of silent killing, like Momochi Zabuza had been. And she was clearly underestimating him. That was even better…

Even so, Sasuke was unpleasantly surprised when Ami stopped near the edge of the lake and started making hand signs. The water of the lake rose and began forming into bullets aimed, of course, at him. It only confirmed his suspicions that Ami was, if not a spy from Kirigakure, at least well-versed in Suiton jutsu. Then, he had another idea as he began to dodge. This was enough of a life or death situation, wasn’t it?

Slowly, Sasuke’s eyes began to change. Three tomoe in each eye were all that he could manage for the time being, as he wasn’t sure how to regress his Sharingan. He barely escaped what looked suspiciously like a fully formed water dragon, ignoring Ami’s increasingly incoherent ranting as she finally lost her temper and charged towards him, and decided to enact his plan.

 

Genma coughed, glancing at Uchiha Fugaku to see if he should stop this match. From Hyuuga Hiashi’s commentary, Satsuki was, at the moment, still managing to dodge the variously shaped, increasingly high powered water bullets that were being thrown her way, but each one was missing by a narrower margin. More to the point was how a supposedly just-entered-the-Academy civilian girl was throwing jutsu like that around…

“Oh,” Hyuuga Hiashi said, quite calmly. “It seems that your daughter has awakened her Sharingan. Congratulations.”

Uchiha Fugaku felt torn. On one hand, one part of him felt utterly proud of his daughter for awakening her Sharingan, and staying alive and undamaged. On the other hand, he was hard pressed to ignore the death glares Mikoto and Itachi were giving him. “One more minute,” He said weakly.

 

A quick clone later, Sasuke had transformed himself into a shuriken and had his clone throw both him and another shuriken towards the furious Ami. Ami ignored the shuriken that completely missed her, and, the Sasuke-shuriken hidden in its shadow. A puff of smoke was all the warning she had before Sasuke transformed back and kicked her in the back of the head as hard as he could, which was hard enough to send her crashing to the ground. Before she could recover, Sasuke landed next to her and promptly stamped on her hands as hard as he could, breaking as many fingers as he was able to. That should at least stop her from forming any more hand seals…

“I’ll kill you!” Ami roared, tackling Sasuke to the ground as best as she was able. “I’ll kill-.” That was when she felt the blade of a kunai against her throat.

“That’s enough.” Itachi said, completely calm as he pressed the blade just a little harder against the enraged girl’s throat, as several other Anbu walked up behind him.

“Niisan,” Sasuke blinked up at his older brother.

“You did well, Satsuki.” Itachi said. “But we will take over from here.”

Even with one arm in a sling, Itachi was still an Anbu, and Ami almost wet her pants as she felt the concentrated killing intent focused on her. She had completely and totally blown her cover, she realized.

Sasuke nodded, but he could not resist smirking just a little as he let the others pull Ami off of him, knowing that all she had to look forward to was a nice, pleasant stay with Torture and Interrogation. Someone had already cleared away the mist, and so, he deactivated his Sharingan, not wanting to use up his remaining chakra maintaining it.

 

“Satsuki-chan!” He heard Ino shout as she and the other kids came running towards him. “You won!”

“I did,” He said. “I…won.” He promptly fell to his knees, as he was, after all, in a six year old body, and exhaustion had caught up with him.

Fortunately, Mikoto arrived, and, after shooing the other children a small distance away, healed him enough that he could stay and declared that he would not have to miss the picnic after all. He was even able to watch Hinata soundly thrash the other two girls, who really were civilians, and see her father pat her on the shoulder, which seemed to be more than enough for her. Afterwards, what had originally started out as a simple duel became a multi-Clan picnic, with members from various Clans intermingling and sharing food and discussing everything from barbeque recipes to village security.

Really, Sasuke thought, things really were working out for the better.

 

End Chapter

Started 2/23/16

Completed 2/24/16

Chapter Text

That event seemed to have broken the ice. Whether it was the copious amounts of sake that had been consumed as the evening wore on, or the fact that the other Clans really weren’t so bad once you got to know them, as he’d been having a very enlightened discussion with Shikaku Nara, and Aburame Anya had an awfully nice pair of tits under that coat of hers, although he’d never admit it to Mikoto… Fugaku was feeling surprisingly relaxed and mellow the next morning when he woke.

            Mikoto was still asleep, and Fugaku smiled at his wife. He would let her sleep in this morning, he decided. There were no urgent cases that demanded his attention. No, he could afford to spend this Sunday with his family. He silently slipped out of bed, used the bathroom, and then headed downstairs. By the time he had finished making breakfast, he sensed that Itachi and Satsuki were awake.

             

            Sasuke debated staying in bed for a while longer, but he had been sent home early while the adults stayed at the park, partying late, so he really had no need to sleep anymore. He crawled out from underneath the blankets and began to get ready for the day. Shadow Shuriken technique was a D-rank technique from the scrolls in the Uchiha library, and on one of the scrolls that he had borrowed, so he could explain learning the technique from there.

            He yawned as he headed to the bathroom.

            Itachi was already there, brushing his teeth. Sasuke waited outside the door for him to finish. After a few minutes, Itachi emerged, and after an exchange of greetings, headed downstairs. Sasuke went inside, locked the door, and proceeded to use the bathroom.

           

            Breakfast was a quiet affair of bacon and scrambled eggs and toast, as Fugaku was hopeless at making rice, even in a rice cooker, and was known to burn even miso soup. When Mikoto finally joined them, she gave her husband a smile. “Thank you for making breakfast dear,” She gave him a gentle kiss. That was the most affection Sasuke had ever seen his parents show, and even Itachi looked surprised. They must have had a very good night.

            “So, Satsuki, how did you learn the Kage Shuriken no jutsu?” His father asked, as he had predicted.

            “From the scroll in the library,” Sasuke answered.

            Fugaku nodded, seemingly satisfied with the answer. “It was very clever to turn yourself into a shuriken and hide yourself in the shadow of the shuriken your clone threw.” He praised. Of course Sasuke had realized, with so many members of the Hyuuga Clan around with their Byakugan active, they would have seen the entire fight. That was why he had not used any other techniques. He would have been unable to explain how he could have learned them.

            Holding a clone technique and a transformation for only a few seconds was not terribly out of the ordinary for an Academy student, was it?

           

            Fugaku had always considered Itachi a prodigy, but clearly, Satsuki was a surprise. “You must have inherited your mother’s gift for chakra control.”

            Sasuke blinked. What?

            On one hand, that made no sense. On the other hand, it made perfect sense. Jutsu could either be powered by pouring more chakra into them, like Naruto, or having excellent chakra control, like Sakura. At this point in time, he was not supposed to have a lot of chakra, being a kunoichi. His father had just given him the perfect excuse. And he could never have too much chakra control, anyway, as it was crucially important for the shape manipulation he used in his fire and lightning techniques – any elemental technique, really, now that he had the Rinnegan.

            In addition, with his chakra having been practically depleted after that fight with Ami, it would take time to build it up again. Furthermore, he would certainly benefit from any chakra control exercises he learned in the meantime to more efficiently utilize the chakra he did build up to the maximum he could…

            “So, I will have you start studying with your mother.” His father finished.

            “Yes, father.” Sasuke replied.

            “Now,” Fugaku got up. “Go and play.” He saw both Satsuki and Itachi looking at him in surprise. “You did more than enough training yesterday,” He said, shooing them off. “So, consider this an order from your superior if you insist.”

            Sasuke had played enough yesterday, but this was a direct order, so he looked up at Itachi. After a second, Itachi followed him outside. Satsuki smiled innocently and then went to get his stuffed animals, and before Itachi knew it, they were having a tea party. At least, he conceded, there was mochi – not as good as dango, but it would do in a pinch.

            Girls liked tea parties, right? And if he got things wrong, well, they had not studied the tea ceremony in the Academy yet, so his mistakes could be excused, Sasuke thought. And seeing Itachi holding his green dinosaur in one arm and awkwardly trying to balance a cup of tea in the other was definitely worth it.

 

            On Monday, during kunoichi class, no one picked on anyone else at the Academy. Satsuki, Ino, Hinata and Sakura sat together. They were doing ikebana again. Ino, whose family owned a flower shop, proved to have a natural flair for flower arranging. She explained how choosing a central flower was the most important step, and having the other flowers complement it. Sasuke paid attention, as much as he was able, although he did not think he would ever consider a career as a florist anytime soon.

            He was much more interested when he could go home after school and begin his real training with his mother. After he completed his academy homework, Mikoto seated him at the kitchen table, draped with a fireproof cloth, and explained the exercise. Using the hand signs for the grand fireball, he was to light only the single candle in front of her. She had a fire extinguisher next to her, just in case.

Sasuke eyed the candle a bit dubiously, suddenly wishing that they had decided to do this outside. Then, he took a deep breath. The first candle melted into a puddle of wax as a result of using too much chakra. The second candle did not even catch on fire.

Sasuke narrowed his eyes, as Mikoto smiled encouragingly at him. Clearly, this would take some time…

            Satsuki was just too adorable when she tried to look serious, Mikoto thought, snapping a picture with her camera and causing Satsuki to blush and look down. And she hadn’t even needed the fire extinguisher. Ah, it was so good to have some mother-daughter bonding time!

 

            Itachi was not completely sure what to think of his little sister. She had changed, that was for certain. Whether it was for good or for ill, he was still undecided. On one hand, he was glad that she was making friends at the Academy and learning to be a kunoichi. On the other hand, he was afraid that she was growing up too quickly. He did not want her to go through what he had, graduating at age seven, becoming Chuunin at ten, Anbu by eleven… killing at such an early age…

            “Maa, Itachi-kun, you worry too much,” was that Hatake Kakashi had said when he had brought it up. When he had voiced his opinion to the Hokage, Namikaze Minato had been more supportive.

            “I have no intention of letting Satsuki-chan graduate early, ahead of her peers. Have your parents been pressuring her in any way?” He had asked. Itachi had admitted that no, they had not. Aside from his mother tutoring Satsuki on chakra control exercises, his father had not even brought it up.

            “Then don’t worry so much about it,” Had been Namikaze Minato’s advice. “And take all the time off you need.” T&I were still interrogating Inada Ami and her parents, and there were no urgent missions Itachi had to go on that other Anbu could not take over for him. And somehow, Itachi knew, the Hokage must have seen those photographs of him…

            Well, he still had to get his arm back into shape after it healed, and he had been slacking off a little on his training lately, what with not being able to go on any serious missions…

 

            Days passed, and Sasuke moved onto the next exercise. The next exercise involved moving the flame from one candle to another candle without the fire going out, slowly increasing the number of candles and the complexity of the pattern of candles around the table. The exercise after that involved moving the flame from candle to candle all over the table around glasses of water interspersed between the candlesticks. The last exercise in the set had Mikoto light candles and Sasuke put them out by doing the signs for the grand fireball, backwards, using just enough chakra to counter the amount of chakra Mikoto was using to maintain her flames.

            This was not to say that Sasuke spent all his time training. He made sure to invite his – if not friends, at least allies – over or go over to their houses to play at least twice a week. He never ate lunch alone, and consciously rotated who he ate lunch with unless they all ate lunch together so he did not slight anyone. He paid attention in kunoichi training so he could learn more about girls and women. And every night, he hugged his mother before he went to bed and Itachi too, if he could get away with it.

           

            When Mikoto finished teaching him the basic exercises, Sasuke went to the public library to check out books on chakra control exercises. To his dismay, he did not find anything similar for other elemental types. He found the leaf curling exercise he vaguely remembered being taught later on at the Academy, and of course the tree climbing and water walking exercises they learned as genin, but that seemed to be all. Was there seriously no information on chakra control exercises, or was the information simply not available to an Academy student?

            He considered asking Itachi, but remembering how overprotective his big brother was, quickly discarded that idea. Asking his parents was also out of the question, as was looking in the Uchiha library. That could lead to awkward questions he would be unable to answer, especially if they decided to test his chakra nature so early. With the Rinnegan, he possessed not only Katon and Raiton, but also Suiton, Doton, and Fuuton and at six years old that would be impossible to explain.

            So, Sasuke decided, he would have to come up with his own exercises. He already had some ideas, anyway, and he could extrapolate from what he had already learned. And if he was careful, he could even do some of them as part of daily life.

            Sasuke carefully turned a page in his textbook, and only a very sharp eye would have noticed that his finger was not quite touching the page.

            Sasuke took a sip of juice from the juice box, carefully calculating the exact amount of chakra he needed to draw the juice up into the straw and into his mouth.

 

            “Aww… we can’t do embroidery yet?” Ino pouted as they had kunoichi class that afternoon. Next to her, Sakura squinted as she tried to thread a needle.

            Hinata was neatly sorting through the various squares of colored cloth the teacher had given them to practice the basic running stitch on. Before they could learn any sort of fancy embroidery, they were first going to learn how to sew a straight stitch. They could practice by sewing many, many squares of cloth together. This, at least, made sense to Sasuke. But Sasuke was much more interested in the fact that they had been given metal needles.

            “Here, Sakura-chan,” He said, picking out a square of pink cloth with a white bunny rabbit on it. She liked pink, he hoped. It matched her hair, at least.

            “Thank you, Satsuki-chan,” She smiled.

            “Ah, I want that piece!” Ino said; spotting a piece of yellow cloth spotted with sunflowers. Hinata shyly smiled as she found a piece of purple cloth patterned with lilies. Sasuke contented himself with a piece of plain, dark blue cloth.

           

            That night, after dinner, Sasuke had finished his homework was studying the book of basic D-rank elemental jutsu he had borrowed from the public library. He already knew all twelve signs of the zodiac. Otherwise, his father would never have taught him the grand fireball. He had no intention of throwing around even D-rank techniques. He just wanted to mold elemental chakra a little so he could practice.

            “Imouto, may I come in?” Itachi asked.

            Sasuke got up and opened the door. “Niisan,” He asked, a little surprised. “What is it?”

            Itachi said nothing more. He just knelt down and pulled Sasuke into a hug. Sasuke blinked, before returning the hug.

            “I love you, Satsuki. You know that, right?”

            Sasuke blinked. “I love you too, niisan.” He replied, wondering what had brought this on. Fortunately, Itachi’s next words clarified the situation.

 

            “I don’t know if father and mother are pushing you to be like me; or if you’re pushing yourself towards some goal…” He said, eying the book on Sasuke’s desk. “But don’t forget to have fun, all right, Satsuki?”

            Of course Itachi would be the one to notice, Sasuke belatedly realized. Was Itachi following him to school, as well? Or had his older brother simply observed the fact that he had finished the chakra control exercises at home and noticed he had checked out more books on similar subjects from the public library?

            “Will you play with me then?” Sasuke asked, not wanting to pass the opportunity up.

            Well, he had definitely walked into that, Itachi wryly conceded. At least, this time it was blocks, Itachi thought in relief, helping to build the structure as Satsuki began to describe the dream house they would live in once they got married.

            Two weeks later, Sasuke had his first cooking lesson in kunoichi class. Sasuke was not totally inept at cooking – he had been forced to learn or live on take-out after the massacre in his other life, after all, but he could not say he enjoyed it. But it was interesting, in a way, and at least more practical than origami or flower arranging. And, as there were only three ingredients – a cup of peanut butter, a cup of sugar, and one egg for the peanut butter cookies, and a cup of butter, a cup and a half of flour and half a cup of icing sugar for the shortbread cookies – that had to be mixed before being baked in the oven, he spent the rest of the lesson with Hinata, Sakura, and Ino, first exploring the home economics classroom and looking at all the different cooking utensils, then teaching them another chakra control exercise he had come up with. It was very simple. He put a few drops of food coloring in a glass of water and then tried to use chakra to separate the food coloring back out.

            Sakura and Ino had both become medical ninja, and they had Suiton as one of their chakra affinities which made sense being as the human body was largely made up of water. He did not know about Hinata, but with her Byakugan and Clan training, she must also have a good grasp of chakra control. Soon, all four of them were busy with their glasses of water.

            After all, there was no point in having his allies so far behind him he could not count on them to watch his back. And Sakura was supposed to be a genius in her own right. Maybe she could help him come up with more ideas. Hinata would have access to the Hyuuga Clan library, and as for Ino, well, he wasn’t sure yet, but maybe… time would tell.

           

End Chapter

Started 2/24/16

Completed 2/25/16

Chapter Text

As he had expected, Sakura mastered the technique first. Sakura had been the first one to pick up the tree climbing exercise when they were on Team 7 in his past life, after all. Hinata was next, and finally, Ino. Not to be shown up, Ino declared that she would show them something amazing soon.

            “What are you girls talking about?” Chouji asked, between bites of his sandwich.

            “I’ll show you,” Ino said. “Sai, can I borrow a little of your ink?”

            Sai blinked, but nodded, handing her his inkwell. Ino cheered inwardly when their hands touched. Kiba looked up from where he was feeding Akamaru a piece of chicken and even Naruto stopped slurping on his noodles to pay attention.

            Ino took out her water bottle and put a few drops of Sai’s ink in, shaking it all up until the water turned black. Then, she concentrated. Slowly, the water in the water bottle cleared and the ink had separated out again into a few drops at the top.

            “Impressive,” Shino said, quietly.

 

            “How did you do that?” Naruto yelled. “It’s like magic!”

            “It’s a chakra control exercise Satsuki-chan taught us,” Sakura explained. “You use your chakra to try and separate the ink from the water. We used food coloring, but the principle is the same.”

            “Hey, Sai! Let me borrow your ink too! I want to try!” Kiba exclaimed.

            Shikamaru soon found himself being dragged into the fray. Girls, he thought with a frown. Why were they so troublesome?

            Neji, who had been keeping an eye on Hinata, decided that there was no reason he couldn’t join in, and practice his chakra control as well.

 

            While that exercise had been geared towards those with water natures, the next exercise Ino came up with was much more applicable because it focused on earth, and almost all of them had earth natured chakra. And, there were lots of pebbles around. Plus, it was fun to build little mounds of stones and dirt and knock them over. The boys enjoyed it, especially, but even girls liked to play in the dirt sometimes.

           

            “Do I have to wear a dress?” Sasuke asked petulantly.

            “You want to look pretty for Ino-chan’s birthday party, don’t you, Satsuki?” Mikoto asked as she brushed out his hair and tied it back with a pretty blue bow.

            “Yes…” He grudgingly admitted. He had already picked out Ino’s present, a limited edition Tsunade kunoichi doll, neatly wrapped in shiny red paper and tied with a pretty bow. He eyed the dress Mikoto had bought for him, trying not to wince. At least it was not pink. It was light blue patterned with darker blue flowers and mint green leaves. It boasted a lacy white sailor collar, little cap sleeves edged with more lace, a sash around the waist that tied into an enormous bow in the back, and a fluffy petticoat.

            “You can’t be a tomboy all the time, Satsuki.” Mikoto gently told him as she stripped him out of his shirt and shorts and helped him into the dress, buttoning him up into it. Sasuke could have cried, but he forced a smile onto his face. This is for your future plan, he reminded himself. And Ino is your ally…

            Click went the camera, as Mikoto took a picture of her darling daughter.

            “I’ll get your new shoes too,” She said, leaving Sasuke staring after her. Just then, Itachi walked into his room.

            Sasuke stared up at his older brother, utterly mortified.

            “You look adorable, Satsuki.” Itachi complimented. At that, Sasuke looked down, unable to stop the blush that crept over his cheeks.

            “Niisan…”

            Mikoto returned, and couldn’t resist taking a few more pictures of Sasuke and Itachi, before it was time to go.

 

            Inoichi had wisely decided to hold Ino’s birthday party at Azusa Park, not wanting to imagine what could happen with eleven children (Ino had invited her classmates, and Hinata had asked if Neji could come along) inside his house. His wife, Mei, had outdone herself providing an assortment of snacks, onigiri, and of course, a beautiful birthday cake. He watched Ino hiding behind Sai, the handsome huntsman who had slain the Big Bad Wolf – Kiba and Akamaru again, of course – while Sakura cheered. Neji and Shino were very seriously studying some beetles on the bark of a tree together. Hinata and Satsuki were on the seesaw. Naruto and Chouji had dragged a protesting Shikamaru down to the edge of the lake to try and catch a fish with Naruto’s fishing net, but Mei had gone with them to keep an eye on the trio. He smiled at Chouza and Shikaku, who had agreed, one eagerly, and one reluctantly, to help supervise.

            “Does Shikamaru really not mind having a birthday party?” He asked Shikaku. “His birthday is only one day before Ino’s… I feel a little guilty having such a big event for hers…”

            “No, he said it was too troublesome,” Shikaku chuckled. “In any case, he even made a bit of a fuss about coming to hers, so don’t worry about it.”

            Chouza chuckled as he munched on an onigiri. “Thanks for the snacks, Inoichi.”

            “Mei made them, but I’ll pass the word along.” Inoichi smiled at his big-boned friend.

           

            Sasuke was glad when the party was over. Ino had loved the gift, he had enjoyed himself playing with the other children, nothing out of the ordinary had happened – no kidnapping attempts, no civilians turning out to be spies from another village, and he could finally get out of the damned dress.

 

            Naruto’s birthday was of course, a major event, as it also celebrated the day that the Kyuubi had been sealed inside said boy to protect the village of Konoha. The Fourth Hokage made sure that his son’s sacrifice was honored, and so, there was a two-day festival and there was no school.

            Sasuke met up with Hinata and Neji next to the goldfish scoop. Hinata was already holding a plastic bag with two goldfish, one gold and one silver colored, inside. Neji was taking his turn, swiftly capturing a sleek black and gold patterned fish. He greeted them, and they smiled back. Elsewhere, Uchiha Fugaku had met up with Hyuuga Hiashi and now, the man who ran the balloon dart game was cowering in a corner while the two Clan Heads duked it out. Their wives just sighed and watched.

 

            Naruto and Chouji were competing in the ages ten and under bracket of the ramen-eating contest sponsored by Ichiraku ramen as the empty bowls piled higher and higher next to them, much to Shikamaru’s disbelief. Sakura and Ino, joined by Sai, were watching a shadow play re-enactment of an old folktale. Kiba was sharing a hot dog with Akamaru. Shino had stopped by the moon viewing pond and was watching the fireflies.

            Having popped the majority of the balloons without a clear winner, and gently persuaded by their wives to leave the booth, with an armful of stuffed animals each, Fugaku and Hiashi turned their attention to the next nearest booth – the ring toss. They slapped the requisite number of ryo down on the edge of counter, and the carnie hastily handed them each a bucket of rings. Their eyes were both fixed on the center bottle, painted gold, and as one, they threw their rings – which clashed in midair, neither one landing on the bottle.

            Sparks shot between the two men’s eyes, as their wives sighed in unison.

 

            Several hours later, a panting Fugaku and Hiashi, who had resorted to arm-wrestling after they had run out of carnival games, were simultaneously distracted when they felt their yukata being tugged on.

            “Father, can we go home now?” Two little voices asked.

            A very sleepy-looking Satsuki and Hinata peered up at them.

            “Ah… of course,” Fugaku said, finally realizing how late it was. Behind him, Mikoto cleared her throat and gave him a sharp look. On the other side of the table, Hyuuga Hotaru did not lose her smile, but Hiashi felt a chill run down his spine just the same. He knew that when his wife smiled like that, he was in deep, deep trouble.

            “It was an enjoyable evening, Uchiha-san.” He decided to admit.

            Fugaku almost gaped, before he gathered his wits. “Yes it was, Hyuuga-san.” He said, feeling his wife about to elbow him in the ribs. “I will see you tomorrow evening as well?”

            “I look forward to it.” Hiashi replied, realizing that he was probably sleeping on the couch for the foreseeable future.

            “I as well,” Fugaku managed. “Come on, Satsuki. Let’s go home.”

           

            Hinata’s birthday was in late December, and by then, two more children had joined their group – civilian boys, both of them, Tokei Katsuo and Mitsui Masaru. Sasuke did not like working with unknowns, but they were the best of the crop at the Academy, and it had not been too difficult to get Naruto to make friends with them – Naruto could make friends with anybody. The Hyuuga Clan were throwing their princess a magnificent birthday party, and there would be all sorts of party games to play indoors after they got tired of sledding down the hill at the back of the Hyuuga private property and building snowmen. They were even having a snowball fight with him, Shino, Kiba, Ino, Neji, Masaru and a few odd Hyuuga cousins against the others and several other Hyuuga cousins. Their side was losing, but it was still fun. After all, to make it fair, no Byakugan or other jutsu were being allowed.

            Of course, Fugaku knew that he and the other adults had probably only been invited so that the Hyuuga Clan could showcase their wealth. They really did not need so many chaperones for the children. But strangely, it did not bother him as much as it once would. He sipped the excellent tea, watching as Satsuki pegged Shikamaru with a snowball, causing the boy to fall over onto his backside.

            “They look happy,” Namikaze Minato commented next to him, having taken a rare day off of work to attend the party.

            “Hokage-sama,” He said, feeling a bit awkward.

            “No need to be so formal,” The blonde clapped him on the back, whooping as Naruto smacked Neji with two snowballs right in the face as the older boy did not duck behind his snow fort fast enough. “Good one, Naruto!”

            Sakura used Chouji as a shield to protect her as she charged the fort, throwing smaller but very accurate snowballs and bombarding Kiba. This, however, left her unprotected for Shino’s aerial assault, as he had been stationed in a nearby tree. Eventually, the snowball fight ended in a tie, and the adults applauded and brought out cookies and hot chocolate.

 

            Afterwards, everything was a bit of a blur. There were the preparations for New Year and in January, Shino’s birthday, but Shino was a very private person and did not throw a party. Sasuke had bought him a book on species of rare insects and that was that. The next holiday, though, was one Sasuke was not too sure about. He did not remember Valentine’s Day being quite so… celebrated, but perhaps he had simply blocked out those memories. In any case, a week before the event, the instructor had said they were to bring valentines for all thirty students in the class, with no exceptions, and now, they were decorating their envelopes that they would use to hold all those valentines. Sasuke had no idea what this had to do with being a ninja at all, but later on in the day, at kunoichi lessons, when colored pencils, crayons, pretty paper, scissors and other craft supplies were passed out, he got the picture.

            He had no idea that next door, the boys were getting the same treatment, for once. Sasuke mentally calculated how many valentines he wanted to make. Definitely, he would make valentines for all his friends, and as for the rest of his classmates, store bought was good enough for them. Next to him, Ino had found some white paper and begun drawing already, Hinata was folding origami flowers, and Sakura was cutting out a heart.

            Who else? One for his mother and father, Sasuke decided, and one for Itachi… He would save Itachi’s for last, Sasuke resolved.

 

            On Valentine’s Day, Mikoto and Fugaku received a very nice heart-shaped valentine trimmed with white paper lace and a copy of their wedding photograph inside with gold glitter paint that said ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’.

            Itachi received a portrait of a hugging crow and hawk drawn in colored pencil with the words ‘I will love you forever’ in rainbow colors beneath. He gently stroked the picture with his fingertips. Satsuki had obviously worked very hard drawing the picture, and no doubt, the crow represented him. But why had she drawn herself as a hawk? On the inside was a picture of the two of them, as humans this time, holding hands.

            That was not to say that say that Sasuke had not worked hard on his other valentines. For Ino, he had drawn plenty of different flowers and included a pair of cosmos flower clip-on earrings, for Sakura, cherry blossoms and a pair of cherry blossom clip-on earrings, for Hinata, her favorite white lilies and a pair of white lily clip-on earrings, for Kiba, a picture of Akamaru, and a small pouch of dog biscuits, for Naruto, ramen noodles and a coupon for one free bowl of ramen at Ichiraku ramen, for Sai, ink birds and a new paintbrush, for Shino, different insects and a beetle in amber, for Chouji, a bag of chips and an actual bag of chips, for Shikamaru, pictures of clouds and an eye mask so he could sleep more comfortably, for Katsuo, puzzle pieces and a mini sliding puzzle, for Masaru, ice cream cones and a coupon for a free ice cream cone at the nearby ice cream parlor, and for Neji, pictures of birds and a collection of bird feathers.

            It had been hard work, and it was a good thing he got a decent allowance, but seeing the smiles on his friend’s faces was worth it. Sasuke smiled as he sorted through his stack of valentines. As expected, his friends had returned the favor. While he was not particularly fond of the candy he had received and he ignored the store bought valentines for the most part, his friends had made valentines for him too. True, they weren’t all the best quality as some of them were definitely not artistically talented, but it was the thought that counted.

            “All right, class, settle down.” The instructor said, but of course, his replies fell on deaf ears. What had he expected? They were not quite seven years old, it was half an hour to lunch, and they all wanted to look at the valentines they had received. He finally gave up and dismissed the class early.

           

            “Thanks, Satsuki-chan,” Kiba said, as Akamaru crunched on a dog biscuit. “Here, my mom made stuffed tomatoes as a side dish. I just want the beef, so you want them?” He shoved his bento box at her.

            “Thank you, Kiba-kun,” Sasuke replied. He eagerly plopped the tomatoes from Kiba’s bento box into his. Next to him, Ino had pulled out a mirror for Sakura to borrow and Sakura was putting on her new clip-on earrings.

            Masaru was working on his puzzle. The others were similarly engaged when Neji looked up from his feathers. “Trouble…” He muttered.

 

            It was Fuki and Kasumi, followed by several other kids. Hinata involuntarily tensed and Sasuke wondered what this was all about. He swallowed the rest of his bite of tomato, thinking back over the past few months. He had honestly not done anything to make them angry this time. In fact, he had completely and totally ignored them.

            “You think you’re so special, don’t you?” Fuki said, before knocking Sasuke’s bento box to the ground. Okay, he had not expected that but what had he done?

            Sasuke blinked, trying to keep a hold on his temper as Fuki ground the remaining half of a stuffed tomato underneath her heel.

            “What did you do that for?” Sai asked, injecting himself into the conversation.

            “Keep out of this,” Kasumi told him. “You got a valentine from her. She clearly has the hots for you.”

            “…” Sasuke blinked again. What? Now he was being accused of liking Sai?

 

            “We all got valentines from her.” Shikamaru said slowly, as if he were talking to an idiot. “That’s no reason to ruin her lunch. In fact, everyone in class, including you, got a valentine from her. I don’t see what the problem is.”

             “Mine was store-bought!” Fuki screeched. “It’s not fair!”

            “Again, I don’t see what the problem is.” Shikamaru repeated. “You and Satsuki-chan are not friends. There was no reason for her to make you a valentine. Did you make her a valentine? No? Then why should she make you a valentine?”

            By now, Shino had gotten an Academy teacher and explained the problem. Mizuki frowned as he led Fuki away, complimenting Shikamaru for talking her down. Hinata immediately offered Sasuke some of her lunch, followed by the others. Sasuke thanked them all, and with only a few bites from everyone’s lunch, no one went hungry.

            Best friends ever, Sasuke thought with a grin.

Chapter Text

Since then, there had been a certain tension between the two groups of children in the class. They were somewhat split, after all – the Clan children and their allies, and the civilian children, and a few that tried to stay neutral. And, as children were wont to do, certain incidents began to crop up… thumb tacks in sandals, for example… missing class supplies… damaged homework, and the like. But the teachers soon put a stop to that, so the school year ended peacefully enough. 

 

            For Sasuke’s seventh birthday, the Uchiha Clan threw a party to rival the one the Hyuuga Clan had thrown for Hinata. Since his birthday fell in July, they held it on the water, and all the children brought their bathing suits. They spent all day splashing in the water, having paddle boat races and at night, there was an extravagant fireworks display depicting several major historical battles from shinobi history. There was a barbeque of course, with the Akimichi Clan out in full force to help prepare the food, and they had invited all the other major Clans and all of Sasuke’s friends. Mikoto had invited everyone from Sasuke’s class despite his wishes, but he was willing to overlook that. The cake was enormous, shaped like a hawk in flight, and of course he got the first piece. It was not too sweet, either. Best of all, it was summer so he only had to wear a pretty blue yukata, not a dress.

            There were presents, too. Sasuke liked presents, and seeing the barely-concealed grimaces on the faces of certain classmates when they had to present him with his gifts – that was very nice indeed. Plus, Naruto had accidentally tripped Fuki while they were on the dock getting into the paddle boats and she had gone underwater with a scream. Kasumi had been in the middle of her slice of cake when she had discovered a beetle in it. Taro had somehow been trapped in one of the bathrooms for over two hours before being discovered. And as for Masaki, even after the event, it was still too embarrassing for him to ever bring it up.

           

            Time passed. Sasuke was pretty sure that Danzo was not in the village. He was not a hundred percent sure but he could not see the Yondaime Hokage getting along with Danzo. He had already found out that the other two village elders had been forced into retirement and somehow, Minato had also persuaded Tsunade to come back to the village and take one of the council seats. Perhaps it was because she was Naruto’s godmother? In any case, that was all for the better. Tsunade would certainly whip the hospital into shape and maybe this way, Sakura and Ino and perhaps Hinata could get some early medic-nin training in. Sasuke wasn’t so sure he wanted that himself, until he remembered Itachi dying, his lungs drowning in blood, and suddenly medic-nin training looked very appealing indeed.

            But that would have to wait until he became a genin, didn’t it? Sasuke was not certain, so he decided to stop by the hospital one day after class and ask. The receptionist gave him a brochure and a lollipop. Sasuke kept the brochure. He gave the lollipop to a waiting Itachi.

            “Why did you want to go to the hospital, Satsuki?” Itachi asked.

            “I wanted to learn about medical ninja,” Sasuke explained.

            Itachi blinked. That was not what he had expected. “Like Tsunade,” He hedged a guess. Sasuke nodded. Itachi peeled the wrapper off the lollipop and began eating it as they walked home. That made a little more sense…but why the sudden interest?

            Once they returned home, the nine year old skimmed through the brochure. There were of course, several written exams to pass before he could be certified as a medic. The practical training was another aspect but there was no minimum age listed. From what he remembered from talking to Sakura in the other life, the first step was bringing a fish back to life. Sasuke thought he probably had enough chakra control to do that. They had done a lot of different chakra control exercises after all. Now he just had to break the news to his parents.

            Fugaku and Mikoto took it in stride. It was already abundantly clear that Satsuki was different from Itachi, and having another Uchiha medic-nin might be useful in the future. Uchiha Harumi was nearing forty years of age, after all.

“No pressure,” Mikoto said. “If you find that it’s not for you, don’t force yourself.”

“Just don’t let it interfere with your schoolwork,” Fugaku commented. He still intended for her to stay at the very top of her class.

Satsuki nodded.

           

            Of course, Sasuke broke the news to his friends at school the next day, and when Sakura and Ino heard that, they decided to sign up too. After all, if they worked at the hospital, they might even get to meet Tsunade! Hinata was a bit more ambivalent about the whole thing, but Masaru also expressed interest. Before they knew it, they were all busy learning to heal minor injuries and treat non-debilitating illnesses such as colds and rashes after school and studying medical textbooks at night. But of course, they did not spend all their time studying, because they were still children so their parents insisted they take their weekends (and sometimes afternoons) off and play. Konoha was at peace, and too much training was not good for anyone – Hokage’s orders.

            Namikaze Minato had only to look at Kakashi, who read thinly-disguised porn in public, or Gai, who took anything as a personal challenge, or any of his other Jounin and Anbu as examples of what happened when children graduated from the Academy too early and were sent to the battlefield. He didn’t even need to read the results of the psychological study Tsunade’s apprentice Shizune had oh-so-thoughtfully done for him. The results of another generation – including his son – turning out like that made him shudder.

 

            Sasuke did not like shopping – at least, not this kind of shopping. However, Ino did, and he, Sakura, and Hinata were keeping her company. And, since they had recently all passed their first medical exam, they were celebrating by getting their ears pierced together. And there would be ice cream, too. The four of them were all in a large boutique, picking out different accessories. Sasuke tried not to shudder. Even after three years as a girl, there were still some aspects that completely escaped him. There were earrings of all shapes and sizes, from plain studs to cute clay animals to metal hoops to flowers to giant dangling chandeliers. He slowly picked out a card of earrings with a dozen pairs of different colored 5mm crystal studs in surgical steel. Those were plain enough, and with different colors he could match them to his outfits.

            Sasuke had just gotten his ears pierced with plain surgical steel studs and Sakura was taking her turn when he spotted Fuki and Kasumi coming into the shop. He resisted the urge to sigh. Would it never end? Next to him, Ino adjusted her basket full of accessories and Hinata unconsciously rubbed the ear she had just gotten pierced with a very nice pearl stud in gold. They had of course used their chakra to speed up the healing process.

            “Fancy meeting you here,” Fuki drawled.

            Sasuke very deliberately turned his back on them and went back to looking at the rack of earrings. He trusted that Ino and Hinata had the situation under control. And if Fuki and Kasumi were dumb enough to start a fight here, that was their problem.

            “I didn’t know this shop catered to pigs.” Kasumi added. He felt Ino’s chakra spike, but the blonde managed to keep her temper under control. Sakura finished and joined Ino, standing next to her friend.

            “At least Ino-chan doesn’t look like a boy.” Sakura said, insulting both of them. Sasuke admitted she had a very valid point. Fuki’s spiky red hair was ugly enough, but Kasumi – who in their right mind wore their hair in an afro?

           

            Fuki lunged forward, but Hinata very calmly caught her wrist, Byakugan already active. “You started it.” She said calmly, her other hand resting against Fuki’s chest. Fuki’s eyes went wide, knowing that with her grasp of the Gentle Fist, Hinata could stop her heart with a pulse of chakra and she would be dead before she hit the ground.

            “Fuki!” Kasumi screamed. “I’ll-.” She paused when she felt the prick of the senbon needle against her carotid artery. Sasuke gave her a pleasant smile.

            “Please don’t struggle.” He said. “I don’t want to start a fight in this store.”

            Clearly outmaneuvered, Fuki and Kasumi were forced to leave. The four of them spent a very two hours picking out the rest of their accessories and the like, visiting a few more shops, although Sasuke drew the line at dresses, before walking down the street to buy ice cream. They met Masaru at the ice cream parlor, devouring a humongous banana split. He had also passed the medical exam, so there was another round of congratulations. Perhaps, Sasuke thought, it was just in some people’s natures to bully other people, even when it was clearly hopeless. He slowly ate his single scoop vanilla ice cream cone, marveling at Ino’s ability to put away that chocolate cherry chip triple scoop while Sakura slurped on her strawberry milkshake and Hinata enjoyed her fudge ripple.  

           

            On Monday, Sasuke spared his locker a single glance before realizing that it had been tampered with. He had to give them points for at least trying to get revenge, wondering what they had come up with. As the Sharingan could not see inside the metal locker, he went to ask Hinata. Hinata took one look with her Byakugan and confirmed that they had trapped it with an exploding tag.

            “I wonder if that falls under potential destruction of school property,” Sasuke wondered, before going to find Iruka-sensei. While he could, theoretically have disarmed the trap himself, he didn’t want to destroy the evidence. Hinata’s locker had the same, while Sakura’s and Ino’s lockers were filled with snails. Exploding tags were expensive.

            Apparently, Fuki and Kasumi had rounded up some of their allies – Sasuke didn’t want to use the word friends, because he couldn’t imagine such unpleasant individuals having friends – to mess with his allies. Kiba’s and Katsuo’s lockers had been stink bombed, Shino’s was sealed shut with superglue, Shikamaru’s was spray painted a glaring shade of orange and Masaru’s in neon green, Sai’s had a dead frog, Chouji’s was stuffed with rotten food and Naruto’s dripped green slime.

            Sasuke and his friends were silent for a moment, before they nodded to each other.

            “This means war.”

            They met after school at the Namikaze household, because Naruto, being the Hokage’s son, often had access to supplies the rest of them did not. Various plots were discussed, and it was decided that they would proceed in small steps. After all, the name of the game was deception. The most important part was not getting caught. Equipment exchanged hands, escape routes were discussed, backup plans were made, and then they all went home for dinner.

           

            “We taught those stuck-up kids a lesson, didn’t we, Fuki?” Kasumi asked her the next day, when nothing happened.

            “Yes we did, Kasumi.” Fuki grinned as she sneered at Satsuki from across the classroom. Next to her, Taro chuckled.

            “It was definitely worth it.” He agreed.

            Masaki frowned. He thought that there was something off, but he couldn’t exactly put his finger on it. He tried to pay attention to what Mizuki-sensei was lecturing on, but he for some reason, he was finding it more and more difficult to stay awake. Before he knew what had happened, he was slumped over and snoring over his textbook. He didn’t wake up until an angry Mizuki-sensei was shaking him awake and giving him a week’s detention. Behind him, several dozen kikaichu silently made their way back to Shino, having drained most of his chakra away.

           

            Two days later, Fuki came to school wearing what was obviously a wig over her mostly-bald head. Somehow, no one was quite sure how, she had mistaken her father’s Nair for her shampoo while showering. How could it have happened?

 

             “I know you did something to my girlfriend!” Taro yelled at Sasuke, grabbing him by the collar of his blue shirt, pinning him against the wall of the school building as soon as they were let out for lunch. Behind Taro, the twins Kuro and Shiro leered at him.

            “How could I have forced Fuki to wash her hair with Nair?” Sasuke asked practically, resisting the urge to knee the boy in the crotch as hard as he could and get him off of him. Taro was in his face, their lips practically touching. It was absolutely disgusting. Actually, he could use this. A subtle touch of genjutsu to the minds of all three boys in front of him as his Sharingan activated, and Kuro and Shiro were holding him down as Taro scrabbled with his pants.

            Sasuke spiked his chakra, and screamed. “Niisan!”

 

            Itachi had been enjoying a quiet cup of tea in his favorite teashop near the Academy when he felt Satsuki’s chakra spike alarmingly. He had not heard the first scream. He did hear the second scream, which cut off abruptly. That was enough for him. He flickered to the spot where she was. The sight of his darling little sister pinned underneath three boys of about her age did not calm him down in the slightest, especially when he noticed that one of his boys had his pants down and was attempting to remove her clothing.

            Itachi had all three boys off his precious Satsuki in less than thirty seconds. What were the Academy teachers doing? He gathered his shaking sister into his arms just as the sounds of pounding feet indicated that Satsuki’s friends and the teachers had finally noticed her absence. Good. He was going to have a talk with them. And then his father was going to have a talk with them. And perhaps the Hokage would have a talk with them, as well.

 

            Uchiha Fugaku was, of course, furious. And the heads of the other Clans, who also had female children around Uchiha Satsuki’s age – well, they were rightfully furious too. Really, expulsion from the ninja program was a light sentence compared to what could have happened to the three boys involved.

            The only downside was that he was forced to attend a few counseling sessions on rape recovery, when he had not actually been raped, but Sasuke accepted that as a small price to pay. Besides, everyone was nicer to him afterwards and that was definitely worth it. Itachi even slipped him a summoning scroll, for emergencies only, just in case anything of that sort ever happened again.

 

End Chapter

Started 2/25/16

Completed 2/26/16

Chapter Text

At age eleven and a half, six months before they had graduated in the previous timeline, and six months after Neji had graduated, Sasuke and his friends graduated from the Academy. Team Ten consisted of Akimichi Chouji, Nara Shikamaru, and Yamanaka Ino under Sarutobi Asuma. Team Nine consisted of Tokei Katsuo, Mitsui Masaru, and Hyuuga Hinata, under Yuuhi Kurenai. Team Eight consisted of Aburame Shino, Inuzuka Kiba, and Uchiha Satsuki under Uchiha Itachi. And Team Seven consisted of Yamada Sai, Namikaze Naruto, and Haruno Sakura under Hatake Kakashi. Sasuke judged that they were more than ready, but it would not do to completely throw everything out of whack. He was, however, surprised when he learned that Itachi would be his Jounin-sensei. Although he had not expected to be put on Team Seven, being as he was now a kunoichi and generally teams had two shinobi and one kunoichi, it would be odd being on Team Eight. But at least he was with friends.

           

            Itachi did not think he was ready to teach, but it was his little sister’s team, and there was a shortage of teachers due to the early graduation, so he had agreed. The next morning, he met his three – well two, actually, since he and Satsuki had walked to the Academy together – students bright and early. He had already impressed upon her that she was not to call him Niisan or expect special favors while he was teaching them and she had agreed. Introductions were duly performed, and they departed to the mission office. Itachi saw no need to waste time testing his students on teamwork. They would learn out in the field or suffer the price of failure.

            Being as it was December, the D-rank mission they received was to shovel the snow off the sidewalks in a particular neighborhood. There was some grumbling from Kiba, but a mission was a mission. Satsuki handed him a shovel and they all got to work. Unfortunately, turning Akamaru into a clone of Kiba and Shino’s Insect Clone, along with the Clone jutsu from the Academy, were not useful in this situation. So, they shoveled grimly along until they were finished. Afterwards, mission complete, Itachi at least had the decency to take them to a teashop for tea and sweet red bean soup with rice balls in it before they returned to the mission office.

 

            “Are you three ready for another mission?” Itachi asked.

            Kiba stared at Itachi as though he were crazy. Sasuke checked the clock in the room as unobtrusively as possible. Was it only mid-morning? They had met up at six. Shino said nothing.

            “The more D-ranks we do, the more we get paid, Kiba-kun.” Sasuke reminded the tattooed boy. “And the more experience we get. And then we’ll be able to take on more difficult missions…” Hopefully, that would calm him down.

            Appealing to Kiba’s pride did the trick, and he grinned widely. “Bring it on!”

 

            The Chuunin giving out the mission assignments handed over another D-rank mission. Itachi took it with a faint smile. “Your mission…” He said with a straight face. “…Is to catch Tora.”

            “We’re going after a tiger,” Sasuke asked, a little puzzled. They would need some more equipment before setting out, then.

            “No, Tora is a cat,” His brother elaborated.

            “That’s so lame!” Kiba burst out. Akamaru barked in agreement.

            “I have heard of this mission.” Shino stated. “Apparently, this cat has a habit of fleeing from its owner on a daily basis. And the rate of injury on this mission is quite high.”

            Kiba turned to look at Shino. “Really, so it’s a dangerous cat?”

            “That is what the statistics have shown.” Shino admitted.

            “Then we need a plan,” He said, looking at Satsuki. “Well, you and Shino are the brains. Akamaru and I are the muscle. What do you think we should do?”

            “Maybe we could set a trap for Tora,” Sasuke suggested. “Shino, what do else do you know about Tora?”

 

            Shino began to lay out the information he had gathered, while Akamaru and Kiba familiarized themselves with Tora’s scent so they could track the cat and Sasuke plotted. Kiba even provided a valuable tidbit of information, as his sister Hana was a veterinarian. Itachi smiled. Long years of friendship had certainly laid the foundation of good teamwork.

            They had to make a stop for some more equipment, but once the stage was set, Kiba, Akamaru, and Sasuke managed to chase Tora out of the forest and into an open field. Shino dosed Tora with a cloud of catnip powder scattered by his kikaichu, distracting the demon cat so that Sasuke could tag it with a tranquilizer dart, sending it into a pleasant sleep so they could place it in a carrier and return it to its owner.

           

            The Chuunin at the mission office was quite surprised when they returned with a sleeping cat and no injuries. “That’s a first,” He remarked. They received their payment; shuddering a little as they watched the Fire Daimyo’s wife smother her cat in affection. No wonder it kept running away from home…

            “Are we getting another mission?” Kiba asked.

            “No, that’s enough for today.” Itachi said. “For the rest of today, I’ll be training you. First, though, I believe we could all use a lunch break.”

            Lunch was eaten indoors, at the Uchiha residence, and Mikoto had taken Shino’s dietary preferences into consideration, so there were vegetarian dishes with tofu for him. Shino could eat meat too, but she wasn’t sure. Kiba, on the other hand, really liked meat. He dug into the baked chicken with a big smile on his face. Sasuke helped himself to more vegetables, having finished a chicken leg and a wing. He needed to make sure he consumed an ample amount of vitamins and minerals. The medical textbooks had stressed the importance of proper nutrition as part of a ninja’s diet.

           

            After an ample amount of time to digest their food, Itachi took them outside and explained the wall-walking and tree-climbing exercises. Walls first, trees later, although he did point out that they all had above average chakra control for genin, no doubt from the many chakra control exercises disguised as games they had played throughout their Academy years. But channeling chakra through one’s hands and fingers was, of course, different from channeling chakra throughout the entire body, so they were to practice walking up the walls. Sasuke, who already knew how to wall walk, and tree climb, was taken with a shadow clone to a nearby pond and set to water walking.

            Sasuke had not water walked in years, but it did not take him too long to pick it up again, and soon he was balancing on the top of the pond. Itachi’s shadow clone took the new development mostly in stride, reminding itself that Satsuki’s medic-nin training clearly emphasized delicate chakra control for medical and surgical procedures in theory even if she had not gotten there yet in practice. Back with the real Itachi, Shino had conquered the wall and was working on a tree while Kiba was still struggling with the wall, but they were also progressing well. It was clear they could have graduated from the Academy even earlier, which was not a complete surprise. “Kiba, you’re using too much chakra,” Itachi instructed. “Calm down a little.”

            Kiba sighed as he slid down the wall. They had been at it for over two hours and he was tired. Itachi smiled. “Maybe a break is in order.” Shino came over from the tree he was working on and Satsuki returned with his clone.

            Itachi pulled out four pieces of paper. “Before I teach you three any ninjutsu, I am first going to test your chakra natures.” He explained. “Channeling a little of your chakra through this paper will reveal your primary element. If it is fire, the paper will catch on fire. If it is wind, the paper will split in two. If it is water, the paper will become damp. If it is lightning, the paper will wrinkle. And if it is earth, the paper will crumble. If you have a strong secondary nature, the paper will do two things.”

            To demonstrate, Itachi channeled his chakra through the paper, half of which caught on fire, the other half of which became damp, showing off his dual fire and water natures.

            Sasuke froze inwardly as he was handed a piece of chakra paper. Fire and lightning, he thought as desperately as he could. Fire and lightning…

            Shino’s and Kiba’s papers crumbled, revealing earth natures.

           

            He could not even attempt to mold chakra – Itachi would be onto him if he tried it. The paper caught on fire, much to his relief, and he encouraged it to burn as fast is it could. Then it crinkled. Sasuke was about to put the paper down when it grew moist, split in two, crumbled,  froze, and then, fell to the ground and sprouted. His eyes widened to the size of saucers. They weren’t the only ones. Only Itachi seemed completely unruffled, with a serene smile on his face.

            “Was that supposed to happen?” Sasuke asked as innocently as he could.

            “Yeah,” Kiba demanded. “The fire part I get. Uchiha are known for their fire breathing and stuff. The rest of it – you’re pulling our legs, aren’t you, Itachi-sensei? Playing favorites isn’t fair, just because she’s your sister!”

            Shino just adjusted his sunglasses.

            “And what’s with the tree thing?” Kiba continued. “You didn’t mention anything about trees!”

 

            “You’re right, Kiba-kun.” Itachi got up. “I apologize for my little joke. Training is over for the day. We’ll meet in front of the mission office at 6 A.M. again tomorrow morning.”

            Kiba frowned, but got up, picking up Akamaru. “See you tomorrow, then.”

            Shino nodded, bidding the siblings goodbye. Once they were alone, Itachi gave Sasuke a smile. Sasuke was not fooled for a second. Only a very distracted ninja would have failed to recognize his mother and father’s chakra signatures close at hand when Itachi had been testing their chakra natures. And, Sasuke knew, the Sharingan could see the different colors of elemental chakra. He was in for it now…

           

            “Congratulations, Satsuki.” Fugaku said gruffly. Mikoto simply embraced her daughter. Sasuke blinked, glancing around at his family. “You knew?” He asked. “You all knew?”

            “The Sharingan can see the different colors of elemental chakra,” Itachi explained. “We suspected that you were quite gifted in this area ever since you were young, and as your chakra control improved, it only confirmed our suspicions. It is a rare gift to be so blessed with all five elemental chakra natures.”

            “B-But, the ice… and the way the paper sprouted…” Sasuke stammered. “I… I didn’t… How did I do that?”

           

            Itachi shrugged. “We hypothesize that you’ve gotten so used to controlling your chakra that even when you use different types of elemental chakra, you subconsciously mix them evenly. Fire and lightning are obviously your favorites, so you’ve kept those pure, but as you’ve been using water-type chakra in your medical ninjutsu, you’ve mixed it with earth, to form wood, and wind, to form ice, respectively, without knowing it.”

            Was that even possible? Sasuke had no idea. Could he have re-created two kekkei genkai? That seemed crazy. This sort of thing was what he expected Naruto to do!

            “In any case, we already checked your hospital records and determined that you were not exposed to any illegal substances or genetic manipulation.” Fugaku continued. Sasuke could have cried in relief. At least he was not about to be carted off to T&I.

            “I’ll have to inform the Hokage about this, of course,” Itachi continued. Sasuke nodded. That made sense. And maybe he could get some training from what was that guy’s name – Tenzou? And now he had the Hyouton, too… that would undoubtedly make things interesting if he ran into Haku in this timeline.

           

            Elsewhere, the other teams were also doing quite well. Team Seven had soundly defeated Hatake Kakashi with Uzumaki Naruto’s infamous Harem no Jutsu, transformed into an army of naked Icha Icha heroines. Sai had done the research and Sakura had helped refine Naruto’s anatomy of the female form by smuggling him into the women’s side of the Konoha hot springs, disguised as her distant cousin, making sure he didn’t give himself away. Faced with the evidence of their teamwork staring him in the face, Kakashi had no choice but to keep his promise and train them.

            Team Nine had, with the help of Hinata’s Byakugan, been able to break Yuuhi Kurenai’s various genjutsu without too much difficulty, but it was Katsuo’s knowledge of traps and Masaru’s familiarity with the marsh that allowed them to corner her in a pit of quicksand. Kurenai admitted defeat and vowed to be the best Jounin-sensei she could be for them.

            Team Ten were the new generation of Ino-Shika-Cho. They had literally grown up together, and their family techniques were meant to complement each other. Sarutobi Asuma had known this, of course, but he had to admit, the sheaf of poison darts had been creative. The hornet’s nest had been spur of the moment. The exploding cigarette that had distracted him long enough for Shikamaru’s shadow to trap him had been inspired. This bunch was going to be fun.

 

End Chapter

Completed 2/25/16

Chapter Text

Sasuke knew there were still at least eight months until the Chuunin Exams, but if Orochimaru was going to attack, Konoha needed all the time it could to prepare. The trouble was, he didn’t know how to deliver the information to the Hokage. He wasn’t exactly up to strolling up to the man and explaining how he was from the future and oh, he had almost killed Naruto. That was not going to go over well. He didn’t really want to spend any time in T&I or have a Yamanaka poking around in his brain. Then, he thought of Kabuto. If Kabuto was still a spy in this timeline, he was probably working for Orochimaru, or at least the Akatsuki. But Sasuke wasn’t sure he could take on Kabuto without revealing the Mangekyo Sharingan, or the Rinnegan. So that was out.

            He sat on his bed, legs pulled up to his chest, coming up with scenarios and rejecting them. He could not find Jiraiya. He certainly couldn’t leave the village and track down and kill Orochimaru – that would be pure suicide. Going up to the Kazekage and telling him to call off the attack was laughable. He needed help. And there was only one person Sasuke trusted to help him. As if his thought had summoned him, Itachi knocked on the door.

           

            “Imouto, may I come in?” Itachi asked. Satsuki had been quiet at dinner, eating in a daze, although Mikoto had made her favorites. True, it had been an abrupt revelation, but she seemed to have her mind on other things. Satsuki nodded, looking up to meet his eyes, and suddenly, the world around them warped. Genjutsu, Itachi thought, but this was no illusion he had seen before. His Sharingan activated, which should have broken it immediately, but the world stayed stubbornly in shades of black and red, which shocked him.

            “I’m sorry, Niisan.” Satsuki said, and he found himself staring at – why was his sister a man? And what had happened to her eyes? One was somewhat familiar to a Sharingan, but twisted and warped into a six-pointed red star on a black background – Mangekyo, Itachi thought, feeling a chill run through his body. And the other eye was purple, concentric rings – the legendary Rinengan? What – how – what was going on?

            Satsuki met his eyes again, and suddenly, Itachi was sucked into a whirlpool of memories not his own.

 

            A few minutes later, Sasuke was holding a crying Mangekyo eyed Itachi who was alternating between cuddling him and lecturing him and crying some more. Fortunately, Itachi had enough presence of mind to turn his Sharingan off after a few minutes, but the crying didn’t stop. Admittedly, he hadn’t actually murdered most of his family members and tortured his younger sibling in this life, but he could definitely understand why Satsuki – Sasuke – had kept it a secret. The idea of gods meddling in the affairs of mortals would have been farfetched but Sharingan-encoded memories didn’t lie.

            Fortunately, tomorrow was a Friday. Graduation had been on a Wednesday, in the middle of the week. Itachi was certain he could take care of Yakushi Kabuto over the weekend. And then, he and Satsuki could actually see just what she needed to work on… like ninjutsu. Sasuke clearly had the elemental chakra to learn a lot of ninjutsu and the creativity to use them in all sorts of ways, and she had been holding herself back and working on helping her friends improve for a long time… and clearly, with the Mangekyo, she could polish up her genjutsu as well. She already had the Uchiha style taijutsu down and from her memories she had even picked up some of Gai’s taijutsu. He smiled. She was a genin now, and he would be displeased if she didn’t make Chuunin soon, with her team, of course.

           

            The next morning, Team Eight met at the mission office. The D-rank mission they were assigned for the day was to go grocery shopping for an elderly couple. It was frightfully mundane and quickly completed. The next mission was to clear icicles off the roofs of some neighborhood houses.

            “At least you can practice your wall-walking, Kiba-kun.” Sasuke pointed out cheerfully as they were given buckets and scrapers attached to long poles.

            Kiba’s eyes lit up. “You’re right!” Even if he could only make it part of the way up a wall, it was still better than nothing. Shino nodded encouragement as he and Sasuke climbed farther up the walls, disregarding the long poles as they began to scrape the icicles off the edges of the roofs and into the buckets they had been provided with. As they scraped, they saw another genin team chasing a frantic Tora through the streets. Kiba laughed and almost lost his balance, but managed to catch himself.

            As they scraped, Sasuke tried to use his newly acquired Hyouton chakra to discreetly loosen the icicles he was supposed to be scraping, but it wasn’t easy. They were stuck fast and he faced the same problem he had with the candle flames. Too much chakra and the icicle snapped off awkwardly, too little and it wouldn’t budge… Well, he thought, glancing around at the many, many blocks of snowy houses around them, at least there were plenty of icicles to practice on…

 

            Mikoto hummed cheerfully; glad she had made a very large pot of oden and kept it warm, because the poor dears were soaked to the skin and sniffling by the time they returned from their D-rank mission in the afternoon. She dug out some of Itachi’s old clothes for Kiba and Shino to change into and let them all use the bath, separately of course, and washed their clothes in the washing machine and bundled them all up in blankets. So instead of doing more physical training in the afternoon, Itachi gave them a mission scenario and had them walk through possible solutions, because even Kiba had a brain, and he wouldn’t be able to rely on Shino and Satsuki all the time.

            Team Eight was dismissed for the evening, and after dinner, Itachi went to check up on Satsuki. No matter what, she was still his little sister. He found her sitting on her bed, knees pulled up to her chest, dressed in her pajamas.

            “Imouto,” Itachi said, gathering her into his arms. Sasuke sniffled, meeting his eyes. That proved to be a mistake, as he found himself in the familiar red and black world of Tsukuyomi. Itachi was a genius, after all. At least, Sasuke figured, he wasn’t tied to a cross or being tortured. Itachi sat down next to him and wrapped an arm around his shoulders.

            “So,” He said. “Let’s talk.”

            There were worse ways to spend the next seventy-two hours. As expected, Itachi still had questions, and Sasuke provided all the answers he could. It wasn’t the most pleasant subject to talk about, and Itachi had a lot of comments to make about the poor decisions he had made, but at least he could get it off his chest. And then there were the technical questions about the Mangekyo Sharingan and the Rinnegan, which Sasuke answered to the best of his knowledge. Also, Itachi filled in some of the gaps, explaining that yes, Danzo had deserted the village when he and Orochimaru had been caught together performing unethical human experiments and as far as they knew both were with Akatsuki – that was news to Sasuke.

           

            “Now,” Itachi said pleasantly, “We can start your training.”

            Sasuke looked at his brother, puzzled. “Aren’t we already doing individual training in the afternoons with you?”

            “Yes, but you’re keeping most of your abilities a secret from your teammates for now, aren’t you, Satsuki?” Itachi asked. Sasuke nodded. “And if you truly wish to become stronger, you have a long way to go. You haven’t truly sparred at your full power for years. Here, inside of a genjutsu, we can go all out and you won’t have to worry about hurting me.”

            Itachi had a very valid point. But how would injuries and jutsu even work inside of Tsukuyomi? Sasuke hoped neither of them would accidentally cast Izanagi or Izanami – that would be even more difficult to explain than the appearance of the Mangekyo Sharingan.

            “There is actually an old technique based on the Sharingan that allows for the creation of a genjutsu used for the purpose of intensive training.” Itachi continued. “However, it is rarely used, due to the requirement for precise chakra control and the fact that both users must have water natured chakra.” He gave Sasuke a smile. “Due to our unique circumstances, however, I believe it will be safe for us to attempt it.”

            “Yes, niisan,” Sasuke knew when to admit defeat.

           

            Itachi sat cross-legged across from Sasuke, and showed him the hand signs for the Garden of Paradise technique. Sasuke was a little disturbed by the name of the technique, but copied the string of hand signs, taking deep breaths to match his breathing to his older brother’s and meeting his eyes. It took a few minutes, but once they were in sync, they made their hands signs at the same time. When they finished the last one, the illusion snapped into place. It was a completely barren stretch of dirt at first, but slowly, they began to build it together. The sky turned blue, with a scattering of white clouds. Light green grass sprouted beneath their feet. At the edge of the meadow, a forest sprouted in minutes. At the other edge, a lake glittered as waves lapped against the dusty shore. To Sasuke’s surprise, the drain on his chakra was much less than he had expected.

            “You’ve been consciously and subconsciously suppressing your chakra for a long time, Satsuki.” Itachi told him. “And, as I’m certain you know, the better your control, the less chakra required to power a technique.”

            Sasuke nodded.

            “Well,” Itachi smiled. “Let’s begin. We’ll stick to taijutsu and ninjutsu only.” Sasuke wasn’t sure what would happen if they layered more illusions inside of the illusions already present, and he trusted Itachi’s words.

 

            He checked his appearance, added some equipment to his illusory self – he had missed having a sword – and then threw a few shuriken at Itachi to start. Not surprisingly, Itachi blocked them with shuriken of his own. He shrugged, drew his chokuto, and charged. It crackled with lightning chakra as he swung at Itachi. Itachi, no fool, dodged easily, forming the signs for a shadow clone as he went. Before Sasuke knew it, he was facing two Itachi. One was already forming the signs for some fire type attack or the other while the other hurled two windmill shuriken in his general direction. Having pinioned Deidara and trapped him with wire using the same general application, Sasuke substituted himself with a convenient rock and went on the offensive again.

            He spat out a grand fireball at the nearest Itachi, which countered with a ball of water that efficiently neutralized the attack. A subtle shift in the air was all the warning he had before the other Itachi was behind him, but Sasuke’s free hand crackled as the chidori sharp spear swept around and, as the Itachi did not go poof, concluded that the one in front of him was the shadow clone. A barrage of chidori senbon finished it off for good, leaving Sasuke facing a single Itachi – at least until Itachi performed the shadow clone jutsu again. This time, there were two clones.

            Sasuke’s eye twitched.

 

            Several hours (or less than a minute) later, depending on whether one was counting illusion time or real time, Sasuke was panting heavily, blinking sweat out of his eyes, leaning against a convenient boulder as Itachi very slowly and deliberately walked up to him. Itachi dispelled the last of his umpteenth shadow clones as he knelt down next to his little sister, reached out towards her forehead, and…

            Sasuke panicked. He had figured out quickly enough that if Itachi could do countless jutsu over and over without getting tired within the illusion, so could he, which was the whole point of training in the Garden of Paradise, after all. And it was the perfect place to try creating new techniques without accidentally blowing himself up in the real world, as well as testing out how his new Mokuton and Hyouton abilities might work in battle. But it had only been one day since Sasuke had relived his memories of the past life while showing Itachi, and he was exhausted, and not in the best control of himself, and it reminded him far too much of how Itachi had been trying to pluck out his eyes during their final battle…

            Susanoo was up before he was thinking clearly, Itachi clutched in one giant fist. It was only after he had squeezed his brother to a bloody pulp before he realized what he had done, and he fell to his knees with a scream. “Niisan!”

            Fortunately for Sasuke, Itachi’s body disappeared into a murder of crows, and the next thing he knew, Itachi was inside his guard, holding him close, and placing a gentle kiss on his cheek. That finally snapped him out of it.

           

            “Satsuki,” Itachi said, stroking his hair. “Satsuki, I’m right here. I’m not dead. We’re in an illusion, remember?”

            It took more than a few minutes for Sasuke to calm down, before he finally nodded. “I thought we couldn’t do genjutsu inside the Garden of Paradise.”

            Itachi smiled. “Of course we can. I just didn’t want to build too many layers of genjutsu at once. But Sasuke, you don’t have to go easy on me. I’m Anbu, I’m not sick, and I’m not an Edo Tensei zombie. Remember that.”

            Sasuke had the decency to blush. “I wasn’t going easy on you!” He protested. “If anything, you were taking it easy on me.”

            “Really,” Itachi tilted his head to the side. “You haven’t shown me how the Rinnegan works yet.”

            “It burns out if I use it too much,” Sasuke started to protest, but then realized that oh, they were inside the Garden of Paradise so that didn’t apply, again. And it was true that maybe he was, subconsciously, not wanting Itachi to keel over and die on him.

            Itachi gave him a knowing look. “That’s enough for today. And tomorrow, why don’t you spend some time with your friends?”

            Sasuke nodded. “I love you, niisan.”

            “I love you too, imouto.” Itachi said.

            “But next time, I’m casting Tsukuyomi.” Sasuke insisted. “Because Anbu or not, I don’t want you going blind.”

            And there was no argument Itachi could make to that.

Chapter Text

The next morning dawned bright and sunny. Sasuke woke up and had an early breakfast with his family before heading to Azusa Park with Itachi. Judging by the sizeable crowd near the frozen lake, he and his friends had not been the only ones who had decided to ice skate. He waved hello to Team Seven and Team Ten, who had shown up together. Kiba and Shino were nowhere to be seen but no doubt they would be around soon enough. Hinata was there with Masaru and Katsuo, as well as Neji and his team, Tenten and Rock Lee, which proved that some things didn’t change.

            “So, you passed too,” He asked Shikamaru.

            “Troublesome, but yes,” Shikamaru said. “Ino didn’t manage to tag him with the poison darts, but I slipped the exploding cigarette into his cigarette case before we even started the exam while Ino was whining and when he lit it up it worked like a charm.”

            “That’s not as funny as ours,” Naruto said. “I totally got him with my Harem no Jutsu!”

            “Did you have to pass a test too, Satsuki-chan?” Hinata asked.

            Sasuke shook his head.

            “Lucky,” Katsuo said. “Ours was kind of tricky, but I rigged up this really cool trap with vines and Masaru told us where this quicksand pit was and we so got Kurenai-sensei.”

           

            “I guess having your big brother as your Jounin-sensei means you only passed out of pity, Satsuki.” A familiar and unpleasant voice snickered. Sasuke could have cheerfully strangled the owner. Of course it was Fuki and Kasumi. Taro was also present with murder in his eyes, and Kasumi was clinging to Masaki’s arm.

            “Hey, don’t talk about Satsuki-chan that way!” Naruto snapped.

            “Ignore them, Naruto-kun.” Sakura said wisely. “They’re not worth our time.”

            Sasuke just tapped his headband, before turning his back on them. The group moved off, ignoring the taunts and jeers. Not moments later, Kiba and Shino caught up with them and they were soon skating on the ice. Granted, it wasn’t as difficult as water walking, and it was good for chakra control as well as being fun. Hinata was very graceful, Sasuke thought, and she and Neji were skating together. Tenten was trying to teach Lee to skate – his taijutsu grace seemed to have abandoned him as he tripped again, sending them both crashing into a snow bank.

            They spent the afternoon having another good old fashioned snowball fight, mixing up the teams every hour so it was all fair, stopping for lots of hot chocolate and apple cider and snacks from the many enterprising vendors who knew there was money to be made. Now that they had all graduated and become Genin, they had less time to spend with each other, but at least there were still the weekends!

 

            Itachi had dealt with Kabuto, and carefully planted information on everything Satsuki had told him about Akatsuki and their abilities on him in the process. Now, the Hokage would probably recall Jiraiya so they could compare notes. He was not surprised when he was called into a private meeting with the Hokage a few hours later about that very subject. Itachi might not be Anbu commander yet, but he was high enough on the ladder that he was being considered for the position, and Minato had confided in him more than once about the possibility of being considered as his successor in the future. So, Itachi paid attention, and gave his opinion when asked, and was glad the Hokage was taking action.

 

             On Sunday, they met up at the Akimichi Clan Compound for a potluck and movie marathon to celebrate all having made Genin. Team Gai had also been invited and shown up; pleased to hang out with their younger classmates despite an extra half year of experience. Shino had brought a dozen platters of honey and dried fruit based pastries that were delicious. Ino had come up with some flower-extract based sweets. Kiba’s meat-filled rolls were very filling. Masaru seemed to have bought out half the ice cream parlor, and of course, Naruto had sheepishly hired Ichiraku ramen to cater for his portion.

            Tenten was honestly surprised with how much she was enjoying herself. She’d expected them to treat her like, well, an outsider, since they had all been in classes together for the last five years. But Satsuki-chan had asked her about her what her specialty on Team Gai was and when she had mentioned it was with weapons, everyone had paid attention to her and she had been persuaded to give a demonstration and then Sakura-chan mentioned how she could try charging her weapons with elemental chakra and Tenten had never, ever thought of anything like that and now she was staring at a glass of water full of food coloring, trying to separate them. How come none of the Academy teachers had ever taught her anything like this?

            So Katsuo didn’t really like Pokemon, but it was better than watching a horror movie (he was secretly scared of those), the boys had vetoed the romantic comedy, the girls did not want to watch the giant killer robots versus the brain-sucking alien horde, everyone had already watched the historical ninja movies before, and this was the compromise they had decided on. He took another bite of the squid on a stick and leaned back against the couch. One good thing he could say about the Akimichi Clan – their couches were huge and comfortable, probably to accommodate their large extended family.

 

            Pokemon, Sasuke thought absentmindedly. The movie was not that interesting. He was more interested in the actual attacks. When the movie ended, he noticed that Sai seemed to be more excited than the other Genin. “Sai-kun, you like Pokemon?” He asked when they had a minute alone.

            Sai nodded, a little surprised at Sasuke’s question. “Yes, I do.”

            “Are there more movies?”

            “Actually, there’s a very long-running animation series, and a manga too, but originally, it was a Gameboy game. Why the sudden interest, Satsuki-chan?” He was surprised. Had she liked the movie that much?

            “It looks really fun.” Sasuke explained.

            “It is,” Sai confessed. “If you’d like to come over to my house afterwards, I can lend you some of the videos and my old Gameboy games.”

            “Thank you, Sai.” Sasuke smiled sincerely. “It means a lot to me.”

 

            “Imouto,” Itachi knocked on Satsuki’s door a few nights later, having felt her chakra flare. “Are you all right?”

            “I’m fine,” Sasuke glared down at the Gameboy Color he had purchased; glad he hadn’t accidentally damaged it in his anger. Apparently, the rules in this game were quite different from those in the shinobi world. Earth – rock and ground – were weak to, not strong against water, and electric was weak to ground. And that definitely did not match up with the anime episodes he had watched, either. When would that useless Magikarp prove its worth? Why, as a water type, could it not even learn the Water Gun technical machine he had found in the cave? Misty’s Starmie was a beast…

            Itachi let himself in, a little perplexed as he watched his little sister frown at the Gameboy screen. “Don’t stay up too late, Satsuki-chan.” He reminded her. “We still have missions in the morning.”

            “I know.” Sasuke replied. He saved the game and turned it off, before getting up to give Itachi a hug.

 

            “I did it!” Kiba cheered. While he was more of an offensive sort of guy, he had managed to raise a simple earthen barrier. Itachi nodded approvingly. Next to Kiba, Shino nodded. He was still trying to erect a barrier of his own without it collapsing. Once Shino could competently create barriers, Itachi had another idea for him. He had come across a type of trapping dome in an old report, that absorbed chakra, and combined with Shino’s kikaichu it would be a good way to capture other ninja.

            Out of sight and at the pond which was kept cleared of ice to ensure a fresh supply of water, Sasuke and one of Itachi’s shadow clones were practicing. Sasuke was slowly exhaling a stream of bubbles. At first glance, it was utterly childish and unworthy of being a ninja technique. Itachi had had the misfortunate of being hit with them in the eyes with them in the Garden of Paradise last night after Sasuke had pulled him in close with the Deva Path’s power. They weren’t as innocuous as they appeared.

            Team Eight soon settled into a comfortable routine. In the mornings, they would run a D-rank mission or two, depending on how time-consuming they were. In the afternoon, Itachi trained them separately on ninjutsu three days a week, having them spar with him or each other on the other two days. It made sense, as their elemental affinities were different. He made sure to rotate who was with him and who was with a shadow clone so none of them were slighted. In any case, shadow clone Itachi was as good a teacher as the real Itachi.

 

            Naruto tried to ignore the way the overweight civilian man was obviously leering at him as he handed him a folded towel and a pair of sandals. Nearby, Sai shot him a sympathetic look. Their mission for the day was to help out at the hot springs, and, as Kakashi-sensei wanted to train them in maintaining their disguises under pressure (and perhaps as revenge for that Harem no jutsu – couldn’t he drop it already? It had been two and a half weeks ago…) both he and Sai were teenage girls. Sakura, of course, was a boy, and still trying to figure out how to walk with something between her legs.

            Sakura had to admit that while it was totally embarrassing, it was also a good idea. If she ever had to pass as male on a real mission, out of Konoha, she couldn’t very well be fumbling around not knowing how to even walk. How did boys do this? Unfortunately, she couldn’t very well ask without breaking character. Seeing former classmate Yukiko walk in made her grit her teeth slightly, but fortunately, Yukiko didn’t recognize her. It was only when a shy blush spread across the black-haired girl’s cheeks that Sakura realized she was in deep, deep trouble.

            So she was a little gruff when she gave Yukiko her towel and sandals but at least Sakura did not fall flat on her face, and hearing the barely muffled giggles from Sai and Naruto did not help her temper in the least. Those two were going to get it when this mission was over. The analytical part of her mind noticed that they had done a good job disguising their voices. That part of her mind was not paying very much attention at all. But hearing Sai squawk when another customer pinched his butt was well, kind of satisfying. Not that she’d ever admit it out loud, of course…

 

            Katsuo was giving a little boy a piggyback ride. Team Nine’s mission for the day was babysitting a group of children. Having two younger siblings of his own had certainly prepared him for dealing with younger children. He was just glad he had kept his brown hair short so the kid couldn’t pull on it. It had at least stopped the boy from crying after another boy had stolen his cookie earlier. Even giving him another cookie, plus an extra one, hadn’t stopped the crying. Nearby, Hinata was reading an adventure story to a group of children seated in a circle. Masaru was supervising a few others building a block castle together. Kurenai-sensei looked pleased as she watched them. Maybe once the mission was over, she could show them that cool genjutsu that messed with their perceptions again…

 

            Chouji’s oversized fist smashed into the fleeing man’s jaw, sending him crashing into a wall long enough for Shikamaru’s shadow to trap him. Their mission for the day had been to locate and capture a pickpocket. While this sort of thing could have been left to the Konoha Police department they were currently very busy investigating a string of grisly prostitute murders out in a neighboring city’s red-light district. Ino, who was still a little traumatized from having been used as bait, was at least professionally still maintaining her disguise as a pretty older teenage girl while Asuma-sensei patted her on the shoulder, complimenting her for not dropping it despite having been groped prior to having her fake wallet taken.

            “You’d better teach me a really good technique after putting me through this, Asuma-sensei,” She hissed out from between her gritted teeth.

            “I will,” He promised. “Now, let’s go back to the mission office.”

            “You’ll be buying us lunch too, right?” Chouji asked as he and Shikamaru finished tying up the man.

            “Of course, after we drop him off at the police station.” Asuma promised. “Let’s go.”

            Shikamaru smiled.

 

End Chapter

Started 2/26/16

Completed 2/28/16

Chapter Text

Of course, as Konoha emphasized teamwork, the five Jounin instructors – Kakashi, Itachi, Asuma, Kurenai and Gai – also rotated their teams amongst each other. Gai taught taijutsu, Kurenai focused on genjutsu, both the making and breaking thereof, Itachi concentrated on ninjutsu, knowing a wide variety of all elements, Asuma preferred tactics, and Kakashi could drum teamwork into their heads like no one’s business.

Sakura, Ino, and Katsuo had been up since the crack of dawn. The three of them shared a look of misery, clad in identical, eye-scarring green jumpsuits and orange leg warmers, trying to keep up with an enthusiastic, bowl-cut gleaming, sparkling with the power of youth man. They only had one thought running through their heads. Gai-sensei was insane.      

            Currently, Kurenai was working with Kiba, Naruto, and Chouji, teaching them to break scent-based genjutsu. She had chosen a particularly torturous mixture of barbecue pork ramen that had them all salivating. Even Akamaru was caught in it, drooling and wagging his tail. A simply release seemed to be beyond the three genin. Kurenai snapped her fingers sharply, before the three of them blinked at her, still sniffing the air.

            “Pay attention, boys,” She cleared her throat. They had the decency to blush.

            Tenten and Masaru paid close attention as Itachi showed them the hand signs for a basic C-rank wind ninjutsu. Surprisingly, both of them possessed the rare Fuuton affinity. Itachi made sure they had the hand signs down pat before leading them to the middle of the training field so they could practice.

            Sasuke was frowning at the chessboard. Across from him, Hinata was also frowning. Neither of them had any familiarity with the game. Next to them, Lee was playing Go against Sai. Asuma lounged back against the couch, grinning and sipping his tea. If this didn’t teach them strategy, nothing would.

            Kakashi smiled as he watched a blindfolded Shino and Shikamaru, tied together by their legs, trying to listen to the directions an increasingly frantic Neji was giving them to guide them through the obstacle course he had set up. As Shino and Shikamaru tripped and fell into a puddle of melting slush, both of them swearing for once, he hummed cheerfully and turned another page in the Icha Icha novel he was perusing with a fond smile.

           

            Today was the day. Itachi had requested the C-rank mission in advance, so Sasuke knew they would be getting it. Everything else was merely a formality. Itachi had informed them of the particulars the night before, so Team Eight showed up at the mission office packed and ready to hit the road. When Tazuna ambled in drunk, none of them even flinched, although Kiba wrinkled his nose a little at the man’s unkempt appearance and body odor. Tazuna looked them up and down. “…You’re kidding.” He slurred. “This is it? A bunch of kids and a teenager are going to protect me?”

            Kiba looked like he was ready to punch the man, but Shino placed a hand on his shoulder. Sasuke considered letting his Sharingan flare, but didn’t feel like wasting the chakra.

            “Considering what you paid for, yes.” Minato replied. “However, an anonymous benefactor took pity on your plight, and paid for a second team to join you.” With that, Team Eleven – also known as Team Gai – walked into the room. Tazuna looked visibly relieved by the sight of Gai and his team, although he shuddered a little at the sight of the green spandex. Gai clapped the man on the back, almost knocking him over with the force of the slap.

            “Cool, so we’ll have company.” Kiba grinned. Tenten flashed him a smile and nodded.

           

            A few minutes later, both teams met up at the main gate of Konoha. Farewells made, they were off on their first C-rank mission. The first day passed peacefully enough. Gai was, of course, loud and enthusiastic, but he was Gai and that was to be expected. Tazuna seemed to slightly regret his anonymous benefactor’s charity at assigning him another team after a full day of exposure to Gai, compared to the others, who had developed some degree of Gai immunity. Fortunately, as they were with a client, and not with Kakashi, Gai was not challenging anyone. To Sasuke’s disappointment and disquiet, nothing happened. There was no ambush by the Demon brothers after all. Perhaps they had decided that two Jounin were too much to handle. That meant they had to wait until they got to Wave…

           

            In retrospect, Zabuza thought, maybe going for the stubborn little black-haired girl who had stayed back to protect Tazuna hadn’t been the best idea in his life. It had seemed like a good idea at the time. He and Haku, and Kisame and his apprentice, Suigetsu, had needed the money pretty badly, and Gato had promised them a hefty reward for killing Tazuna so he could take over the bridge the man was building and further increase the stranglehold he had on Wave. He’d sent Haku to take care of the Hyuuga and the bun-haired girl, Suigetsu was going after the kid with the dog and the other kid with the sunglasses, Kisame could keep the Jounin-sensei in the green suit occupied and surely the Demon brothers were more than enough for the teenager. Seriously, was he really a jounin at his age? Judging from the family resemblance between him and the girl, he was more likely a chuunin sent along to keep an eye on his little sister’s genin team while their real teacher was no doubt recuperating in the hospital or something.

            So while a couple of his water clones were keeping the green spandex-clad kid busy, finally just shoving him in a water prison in the nearby river, the real Zabuza easily lifted the genin up into the air. In response, she spat a stream of bubbles at him. He didn’t even bother to try and dodge them. He was an ex-Anbu Kiri elite shinobi, and she was trying to use a water technique on him? Zabuza started to laugh, reaching up a hand to wipe his face, when his eyes and skin started to blister in agony. Cursing, he swung his Kubikiribouchou at her, only to realize she had already disappeared along with Tazuna. The next thing he felt was something hard hitting him in the back of the head and then nothing for the next few hours.

            Haku was normally very calm. He had already trapped his two opponents inside his demonic ice mirrors. However, to his dismay, he just couldn’t seem to hit them. The Hyuuga was snatching his senbon out of midair with his bare hands or blocking them with chakra-enhanced strikes, while the brown-haired girl had drawn a kunai in each hand and was stubbornly deflecting his senbon in a similar manner.

            Suigetsu taunted the kid with the dog mockingly. They’d torn through him, sure, but he had reformed himself from water. The other kid with the sunglasses was studying him instead of helping his friend. Maybe he wasn’t much a fighter. Kiba glanced over at Shino. He really hoped Shino had a plan. The problem was, if their opponent was made out of water, he couldn’t see how Shino’s kikaichu could help. He might drown the bugs.

            Kisame snarled as he blocked another kick with his sword, Samehada. So he had tried to drain the eyesore’s chakra, but apparently, aside from his bad fashion sense, his opponent was also a taijutsu expert. And what the hell was Zabuza doing, anyway? Once he finished this fight, he would be sure to chew Zabuza out. He quickly formed the signs for the water dragon, slamming his opponent into the river, but Gai recovered quickly and leapt back at him.    

            Lee surfaced, coughing and choking, as Itachi’s shadow clone dispatched the water clone holding the water prison in place. “Don’t overexert yourself.” The shadow clone said sternly. Lee nodded, getting a safe distance away from the riverbank. He glanced around the battlefield. Gai-sensei was still facing off against the blue-skinned man in the river. Itachi-sensei was securing an unconscious man. Two bodies lay nearby. Satsuki-chan and Tazuna were nowhere to be seen.  Neither were Neji-kun and Tenten. There was a large dome made of ice nearby. Shino-kun and Kiba-kun were having some sort of staring contest with a youth of about their age. He coughed again, wishing he could help more.

            Haku, having run out of regular senbon, cursed inwardly. His ice senbon had been equally ineffective, his attempt to spear them with ice had completely failed when the Hyuuga boy had grabbed the girl in his arms and spun in place, shattering his icicle spears into fragments. Maintaining this dome took a lot of chakra, and he was feeling tired. He was not wholly surprised, therefore, when the dome shattered, although he had not thought his chakra reserves were that low. Before he could recover, Tenten whipped a kusarigama out of her summoning scroll, entangling him within the chains, and then Neji was on him, hands blurring as he struck out at the opponent’s tenketsu.

            “You know, if you two aren’t going to attack, I am,” Suigetsu decided. He sprang at the boy in the coat and sunglasses. Shino dove to the ground. Suigetsu laughed. “That won’t save you!” He laughed, pinning Shino down. In an instant, the boy’s body dissolved into a cloud of buzzing insects, as the real Shino and Kiba closed the ground up around him, trapping him in the earthen dome. While they weren’t sure how long they could maintain it, or if he could dissolve out of the prison, it was worth a shot.

           

            Half an hour later, all four captives had been knocked unconscious and stripped to the minimum that would preserve their modesty. They would stay that way for at least several hours, and were properly secured. Neji had closed all of their tenketsu just to be on the safe side and their swords and all their other weaponry and possessions had been sealed in a storage scroll, now on Itachi’s person. A visibly shaken Tazuna was signing a new contract that would give majority ownership of the bridge upon completion to Konoha in order to pay for the A-rank mission protection he had received. Itachi had sent several crow summons to the Hokage with the news and was glad he had brought a Hiraishin-tagged kunai with him just in case.

            When the Yondaime Hokage appeared in a puff of smoke along with a four-man squad of Anbu, Tazuna wet himself in horror. Sasuke, who had been checking Lee over to ensure that he hadn’t suffered any permanent damage from his almost drowning, listened with as much attention as he could spare as Minato, in a very polite tone, and with a cheerful smile on his face, informed Tazuna of all the consequences that lying to the leader of a hidden village about what a mission was entailed, especially if any of the ninja hired were injured or killed.

            Once Tazuna was sufficiently cowed, and the new contract was approved, Minato turned his attention to the two genin teams. They had performed admirably well, and were almost completely unscathed.

 

            “Will you be taking the prisoners back to Konoha, Hokage-sama?” Tenten asked politely.

            “Those two, definitely,” Minato indicated Kisame and Zabuza with a jerk of his thumb. With a puff of smoke, two of the Anbu disappeared with the indicated captives. That left Haku and Suigetsu. Sasuke felt a bit sorry for them. After all, in the past life, Haku had spared his life, and Suigetsu had been his follower. But this life was different. He shook his head to clear it and tried to pay attention as Minato explained what they would be doing.

            It was a bit of a cop-out, but after the explanation was given, with Team Gai taking Haku and Team Eight taking Suigetsu, Sasuke volunteered to go last, saying he needed to rest a bit after taking care of Lee. He could see he wasn’t fooling Itachi, but Itachi understood. Kiba was raring to go, and while Shino was less enthusiastic, he knew his duty. An hour later, despite their cutting, and other methods, Suigetsu didn’t seem to be spilling any information, so Itachi motioned for Sasuke to take his turn.

            “Pfft, what are you going to do to me, give me a kiss?” Suigetsu leered at Sasuke through one black eye. Sasuke met Suigetsu’s eyes, and activated his Mangekyo Sharingan. Torturing Suigetsu through conventional means wasn’t going to cut it, so Sasuke put Suigetsu through a nice, seventy-two hour reel of the most romantic, cliché, G-rated movie plots he could think of filled with cutesy, fuzzy little kittens, puppies, and bunnies falling in love, over and over and over again. Sasuke might not read romance novels himself, or watch chick flicks, but Ino and Sakura loved them, and even Hinata and Tenten indulged occasionally, so he knew quite a bit about them.

            Suigetsu was foaming at the mouth when Sasuke pulled away. “Okay, okay! I’ll talk!” He practically begged when Sasuke looked ready to give him a second dose. Minato looked quite impressed as Itachi pulled out a notebook to take notes. Suigetsu might not know that much compared to Zabuza or Kisame, but any information was valuable. When they were finished, another Anbu took Suigetsu away.

            “What did you show him?” Kiba asked, once Suigetsu had disappeared.

            “Romance novels come to life,” Sasuke replied.

            “Romance novels,” Kiba scratched his head. “I don’t get it…”

            Shino adjusted his glasses. “So you tortured him with pleasure instead of pain. That was ingenious. I shall have to attempt that method in the future.” Kiba looked askance at the idea of Shino seducing anyone, and then pretended he had never even considered it.

            Team Gai had already finished, so Minato decided to stay here. It might take a few days to break Zabuza and Kisame, in any case, and unless another emergency popped up, he could use a short vacation…  

Chapter Text

“Welcome home, father.” Tsunami greeted her father as he entered the house around noon. She was surprised to see the large group of people that accompanied him. She was also a little worried as to how she was to feed them all. The Land of Waves was naturally poor, and what with Gatou’s mercenaries in town, and the blockade on trade… well, she would do the best she could. “My name is Tsunami. Thank you for keeping my father safe,” She said, surprised to see how young so many of them were. And the blonde… the back of his shirt said Yondaime Hokage. Surely he wasn’t really…?

            “Thank you for your hospitality,” The young man with his black hair in a ponytail bowed. “Satsuki, you don’t you take these and go help Tsunami-san in the kitchen?” He handed the black-haired girl, obviously his younger sister, two scrolls. She nodded and slipped off her sandals, taking the scrolls and coming to join Tsunami. Tsunami looked at her in surprise. Were those recipes?

            “Please don’t stand on ceremony on our account,” The blonde haired man added cheerfully. “We can get settled without too much trouble, and if needed, we can always camp out in the forest.”

            “I-I’ll make tea.” Tsunami said, flustered, inviting inside. “Please, come in.” Frantically, she was calculating them all. Her father had returned with nine extra mouths to feed… she tried not to burst into tears.

            Sasuke followed Tsunami to the kitchen, and began pulling out bundles of dried meat and fish, jars of rice, and various fruits and vegetables from the storage scrolls. “Niisan is always prepared,” He told the surprised woman. “And we heard Wave was in a bad economic situation.”

            Tsunami wiped her eyes. “Thank you,” She whispered, putting the kettle on to boil.

            Sasuke smiled, and began to wash the rice without another word. Tsunami was even more surprised when the blonde man also came in to help. Between the three of them, there was soon a hearty meal on the table, certainly a better one than their family had eaten in the last several weeks. Even Inari came down from his room, tempted by the enticing aroma. Of course, when he looked at the ninja and said they were all going to die, the atmosphere got noticeably worse.

 

            Kiba looked like he was going to yell and leap out of his seat, but Neji, who was sitting next to him, forestalled him by grabbing his arm while Sasuke, who was sitting on his other side, hastily stuffed a meatball into his mouth. Lee asked him why he thought they were going to die.

            “Because there’s no way you can win against Gatou,” Inari said bluntly.

            “Tell us about this Gatou, then,” Lee said, his eyes shining as he contemplated this new challenge. Inari seemed more interested in stuffing his face than talking, but between obscene amounts of noisy chewing, the Genin learned what the others presumably already knew – that Gatou had pretty much taken over Wave.

            “This is terrible!” Lee declared, tears streaming down his cheeks. “Gai-sensei, we must complete this mission, and free these poor people from Gatou’s tyranny in the name of youth!”

            “But of course, Lee!” Gai’s voice boomed across the table, as he laid down his chopsticks and rose, moving to his student’s side.

            “Gai-sensei!”

            “Lee!”

            The two embraced as an improbable sunset flamed in the background.

           

            Neji, who was used to this, had covered his eyes. Tenten had closed her eyes. Sasuke prayed he would never see it again. Kiba was gaping with his jaw open. Shino wondered how they had managed that sunset – was it a specialized genjutsu? Minato was chuckling. Itachi studiously ignored it, having caught Inari’s bowl of rice when the boy had dropped it. Tsunami was laughing softly while Tazuna was frozen in horror.

            When lunch had concluded, Minato laid out their plan of action. Itachi and Sasuke would provide reconnaissance in the afternoon, noting the locations of Gatou, Gatou’s thugs, and more importantly, their weapons caches and food stores, if possible. They would be a pair of sisters, looking for employment. No disguise techniques were to be used, but he trusted that wouldn’t be a problem, he added, giving Itachi a significant look. Tsunami gasped, before offering them her bedroom so they could change. Itachi just bowed his head, before motioning for Satsuki to follow him upstairs.

            “Niisan…” Sasuke felt bad that his joke had put Itachi in this situation, but when Itachi pulled out another storage scroll, and procured an impressive array of cosmetics and accessories, followed by women’s garments in a variety of colors and styles, he was forced to reevaluate the situation.

            “Let us just say that this is not the first time I have had to dress as a woman for a mission, Satsuki.” Itachi stated. “Anbu have to perform a variety of unwholesome duties to protect the village. Compared to that; dressing as a woman is nothing.”

            His brother had a point. Nonetheless, getting a glimpse of Itachi putting on falsies and a lacy white bra was something he never, ever wanted to see again. Sasuke reluctantly swapped his sports bra for a push-up, and decided on a black miniskirt and dark red tube top and black platform heels. How he was ever going to fight in this getup he wasn’t completely sure, but their mission was reconnaissance.

            Sasuke and Itachi perfected each other’s makeup, and then they were good to go. There was a bit of wolf-whistling from Kiba when they emerged, but other than that, everyone wished them luck. Minato gave them a bit of last minute advice, before sending them off.

 

            Even though he was tarted up, Sasuke pretended to be the shy one and let his naturally more sophisticated and worldly older sister do the talking. Luck was with them, as Itachi’s ability to sense chakra had naturally led them to two of the best swordsmen in the town. Watching Itachi flirt was a very odd sensation, and one Sasuke didn’t care to dwell on too carefully at the present moment. Personally, Zouri and Waraji had just received the news that Tazuna had safely returned to his home and Zabuza and Kisame had apparently disappeared into thin air, and had no desire to return to Gatou just yet. Maybe presenting him with an attractive new attendant would soften the blow a little – after they sampled the goods, of course.

            Sasuke really, really hoped Itachi wasn’t going to have sex with either of them. Then, when Zouri gestured at him, he realized that they were suggesting a foursome. He looked at Itachi. Itachi nodded, and Sasuke reluctantly followed them into one of the inn’s rooms. Before the two men knew what was going on, Itachi’s eyes shifted into the Mangekyo Sharingan, and there were several loud thumps.

            “Satsuki, help me rearrange them.” Itachi said, after half an hour had passed.

            “What did you do?” Sasuke asked, curious and a little disgusted by the semen staining the men’s private parts but glad none of it was actually on him or his brother.

            “I used a mind-reading jutsu developed by the Yamanaka Clan, and then a pleasure dream genjutsu.” Itachi said quietly. “They will think they had intercourse with us and remember nothing of what occurred before.”

             Sasuke still looked a little ill, but he nodded.

            Zouri and Waraji would still be out for a few hours, so they emptied their pockets of all the money they had on them, which was a large amount, and silently left without being seen by the others in the inn.

            Gatou was not pleased when Zouri and Waraji returned with the information about Tazuna and his missing hired help, and even more displeased when he learned they had spent the entire afternoon with a pair of apparently very talented sisters. But, Zouri and Waraji assured him, the sisters were no doubt somewhere close by on the island and they would find them for him as soon as possible.

 

            So Gatou was holed up in what used to be the governor’s mansion on the island with a few hundred mercenaries. There were worse odds, Minato acknowledged, but storming it would completely destroy their element of surprise. He laid out the plan. Itachi and Sasuke would stay with Tsunami and Inari and guard them, while the rest of the group would help guard Tazuna (and work on the bridge). No doubt Gatou would either bring his mercenaries to the bridge to attack it directly or hire someone else to do it for it. In any case, they would be seeing more action soon. Minato had put away his coat and dyed his hair brown, and put in brown colored contacts, just to blend in a bit.

            Three days passed with nothing of note happening. The bridge was almost completed. On the fourth day, Itachi was helping Tsunami with the laundry while Sasuke watched Inari when Zouri and Waraji showed up, accompanied by an unpleasant looking man with green hair wearing a gray mantle and gray pants.

            “Well, how lucky,” Waraji said. “We found Gatou’s entertainment and our hostage at the same place.”

            Tsunami’s eyes widened, looking between Itachi, Sasuke, and the samurai. Inari, being a coward, fled blindly into the woods, and Sasuke followed him. Raiga shook his head, making a tsk-tsk sound. “Zouri, Waraji, you take care of the older girl and the woman.” He said. “I’ll hunt down the little brats.”

 

            Raiga nonchalantly strolled into the forest. “Ranmaru, where are they?” He asked. Of course, he had no illusions that the black-haired girl was a genin kunoichi. Five of them were working on the bridge so unless Zabuza and Kisame had managed to kill one she was the last one on the team. Not that he expected her to be much trouble – she was obviously skilled in seduction but little else.

            “She told the boy to stay quiet and she’d put an illusion over them so they could hide,” Ranmaru replied in his quiet voice. “She put two – one visual and one sound-based.”

            “Oh, so she’s a genjutsu specialist.” Raiga chuckled. “This will be easy.”

           

            Sasuke wasn’t completely certain his two genjutsu would fool the missing-nin, but he thought he had a decent shot at it. As far as he knew, the man did not have either the Sharingan or the Byakugan to see through it, and sound-based genjutsu were notoriously hard to break. He kept humming softly, hoping that no one would look too closely at the bush he and Inari were currently disguised at. At least Inari was obeying instructions and being quiet. Thus, Sasuke was unpleasantly surprised when the man stopped, looked right at them, and then charged. He did have enough presence of mind to keep a firm hold on Inari and jump straight up, out of the way. How the hell had the man seen and heard them?

            “Look, girl,” Raiga stated. “Why don’t you follow your older sister’s example and be reasonable about this? Just hand over the kid, and I’ll take you back to Gatou.”

            Sasuke’s response was to summon one of Itachi’s crows, which immediately reverse summoned itself and Inari back to its realm.

            “Okay,” Raiga sighed. “You just chose to do this the hard way. Your sister’s a lot prettier, anyway. I’m sure Gatou prefers women with more experience, so he won’t mind if I bring you in too beat up…”

 

            While Sasuke wasn’t anywhere near as good a chakra sensor as Itachi was, he had activated his Rinnegan and Mangekyo Sharingan after his twin genjutsu had been broken, and he would have been blind not to notice the attempt the lump on Raiga’s back was making to disrupt his dojutsu. Now, unless Raiga was pulling a Kabuto and had another person or two implanted inside of him, that meant he was carrying someone with him. Someone, who apparently had an unknown dojutsu kekkei genkai. So, Sasuke reasoned, the first thing to do was to get that someone away from Raiga and deprive him of that advantage.

            “She wants to take me away from you,” Ranmaru whispered to Raiga.

            Raiga scoffed. If that little kunoichi thought she could manage to do that, she had another thing coming. The summoning jutsu had been unexpected, but from what Ranmaru had said, it wasn’t her summon anyway, she was just borrowing it.

            One minute, Ranmaru was on his back. The second minute, some unseen force had ripped the two of them apart. Raiga, being ex-Anbu, landed easily, although a good distance away from where he was supposed to be. Ranmaru was nowhere to be seen.

 

            Sasuke made sure the King of Hell had the child properly secured, not that he was going to interrogate him. He just wanted him out of the way for the battle. He narrowly missed being skewered on the now-enraged missing-nin’s twin swords, crackling with lightning chakra.

            “What did you do to him?” Raiga roared, lashing out at the kunoichi. He had underestimated the bitch! He couldn’t sense Ranmaru anywhere. If she had killed him, he was going to make her suffer!

            Now I know why Pein used separate bodies for each of the Six Paths, Sasuke thought, glad that all the training with Itachi in the Garden of Paradise at least made him very, very good at dodging. As long as he had the Naraka Path active, he couldn’t use any of the other abilities of the Mangekyo Sharingan or the Rinnegan.

            Raiga laughed as he caught the girl by the ankle and slammed her into the ground, before sitting on top of her thighs. Her hands made signs as she weakly blew a pathetic stream of fire, but he sprayed water from his mouth, drenching her. Her right hand came up, holding a senbon needle, which he knocked aside. He was reaching down to unzip his trousers and staring at her breasts. A little young, but beggars couldn’t be choosers. That was how he completely missed the chidori sharp spear in her left hand until it impaled him through the face.

            Sasuke squirmed out from underneath the man’s body and cut off his head, just to make sure he was really dead. He dug a storage scroll out of his yukata, sealed everything up inside, summoned another crow to take the crippled boy to their realm with Inari for the time being, and hastily began making his way back to Tazuna’s house where he could get a change of clothes and pick up his equipment before making it to the bridge to meet up with Minato and give his report.

Chapter Text

Elsewhere, a serenely calm Itachi and a nervous Tsunami, escorted by Zouri and Waraji, made it to Gatou’s mansion without incident. After a few minutes of small talk, Zouri and Waraji took up their posts outside Gatou’s bedroom, snickering as Gatou took both women inside with him.

            “I wonder if he’ll let us have a go afterwards?” Waraji asked Zouri.

            “Hope so, man. I can’t wait to have another go at that babe,” Zouri licked his lips.

 

            Tsunami was amazed when Itachi put Gatou under a very pleasurable illusion, drained him of all his useful information, stripped him, tossing his clothes all over the room, and then assassinated him, although the assassination part was a little frightening as Gatou just keeled over. Surprisingly, there was no blood. All of this was done within forty-five minutes. Itachi rearranged Gatou’s naked body under the covers, stripped down to his lingerie, and embraced him, and then after telling Tsunami to strip, which she did with some reluctance, and got her under the covers with them, told her to scream, which she could do much more easily.

             Zouri and Waraji burst in, swords drawn, to see what the problem was. They yanked the covers off, seeing the naked Tsunami, the almost naked Itachi, and the dead Gatou.

            “Well, damn.” Zouri said. “What a way to go, though…”

            Waraji grunted, checked Gatou’s pulse, and then attempted to perform CPR on him, but found nothing. There was clearly no evidence of foul play. The man had probably had a heart attack. It served him right.

            “Zouri, stop wasting time,” He said sharply as Zouri flirted with Itachi. “The boss is dead, but our mission is still clear. With him gone, we’re in charge. We’ll go loot his safe and take the rest of the mercenaries to the bridge. We kill the bridge builder, take over the bridge, and then live in luxury for the rest of our lives.”

            Tsunami shivered, glancing at Itachi as Waraji laid out his plan. What was he going to do now? Itachi moved so fast all she saw was a blur, before there were two thumps and the now dead Zouri and Waraji joined Gatou on the floor. He motioned for her to get dressed as he politely turned his back and put his clothing back on. She put on her undergarments, blouse and skirt as fast as she could manage, before following him out, flanked by two shadow clones disguised as Zouri and Waraji, as they headed for Gatou’s safe. Once the contents had been emptied and stored in another scroll, and a discreet, swift crow sent off to Minato with the updated news, the mercenaries headed out towards the bridge.

 

            Sasuke had finished giving his report to the Yondaime, along with the scroll containing Raiga’s body and possessions, who nodded and assigned him to another section of the bridge. Some time had passed when he recognized one of his brother’s ravens fly up towards them. Minato waited until the summoned animal had landed and listened as it gave its report. He judged it safe enough to bring Inari and the other boy back from the raven’s realm, so with a poof, they appeared. To Sasuke’s surprise, the two boys were actually making conversation. Well, that was unexpected.

            Minato called the other genin to him, explaining the situation. Sasuke, who wasn’t too certain he wanted to battle again after the chakra drain of using the Naraka path, elected to stay back and guard Tazuna (and Inari and Ranmaru). After all, he was a medic-nin, and the second rule of the medic-nin was not to stand on the front lines. He hadn’t been doing so well at that recently, but it wasn’t his fault that he kept getting attacked by S-ranked missing-nin! At least, he thought, thinking of the pair of lightning blades, Kiba, if he remembered correctly, securely stowed in the storage seal on his forearm, he had gotten something out of it.

            When the mercenaries finally showed up, Sasuke let his friends (and Gai and Minato, of course) wreak as much havoc on them as they wanted. They needed the exercise and Kiba in particular probably needed to release some pent up frustration. He admired the way Tenten gutted a man with a particularly elegant sweep of her kunai and Lee’s axe kick hammered a man’s head into the bridge. The way Itachi revealed himself and got to work was as usual, beauty in motion, and that green blur was probably Gai. Minato was a yellow flash, as his name implied, though brown in this case due to his hair dye, and both Kiba and Akamaru were being remarkably restrained as not to cause too much structural damage to what was now Konoha property. Neji and Shino, despite their calm demeanor, clearly needed to let off steam as well as any other ninja and as Shino’s kick to the groin sent one man several feet into the air and Neji’s strikes sent several more splashing into the water below.

            It did not take too long before the mercenaries realized that they were outclassed. When a group of them had decided to charge the single girl guarding Tazuna, the sight of the three legendary bird Pokemon descending from the skies and freezing, electrocuting, and incinerating the first few poor souls who had approached had quickly halted them in their tracks and sent them running in the opposite direction, straight into the arms of the waiting ninja. Once they had fled, Sasuke hastily popped two soldier pills in his mouth, hoping they would finish soon. He would keep the genjutsu up, if only to keep anyone else from coming closer.

            Once the motley crew of mercenaries surrendered, Sasuke dismissed his genjutsu, making sure the birds vanished in puffs of smoke, like summons, for verisimilitude. After all, he never knew when that trick might come in handy again. He was just getting ready to join the others when he felt a tug on his pants leg. “What?” He growled out, glancing down at Inari. The eight-year old practically had hearts in his eyes, and an expression on his face that reminded Sasuke all-too uncomfortably of his fangirls back in his previous life.

            “Satsuki-chan,” Inari breathed. “That was so cool! You’re my new hero!”

            …What had he gotten himself into?

             

            “Mom, mom!” Inari was excitedly talking to Tsunami later. “I want to go to Konoha and learn to be a ninja like Satsuki-chan! Can we go, please?”

            “Well…” Tsunami hesitated, seeing Inari’s excited face. She had not seen him this happy in a long time, since Kaiza had died. She glanced at her father, who shrugged his shoulders. The bridge was completed, the mercenaries had been defeated, and the Hokage had hinted that he would need to make a return trip to Konoha to iron out some more details of the contract he had signed to manage their new bridge. Why not make it a family trip?

            “We’ll all go,” He said. “If that’s all right with you, Hokage-sama…”

            Minato shrugged. “Just give us a few hours to sort things out, and we can be there tonight.” He said cheerfully. He sent Tazuna and his family home to pack, and then they began taking care of business. Sasuke checked the group over for injuries, did some minor first aid, and then was given orders to take it easy. He spent the rest of the afternoon napping until they were woken up for a Hiraishin trip back to Konoha.

           

            Kotetsu and Izumo welcomed the party back in (because only an infiltrator with balls of steel would dare impersonate the Yondaime Hokage). Minato told them not to worry about handing in mission reports immediately; as he’d been on most of the mission with them he’d just need a quick summary of the important events that had happened from the two Jounin, and to take the next four days off of mission duty. As Minato ambled off towards Ichiraku Ramen, he spotted Team 7 sitting there.

            “Dad, you’re back!” Naruto cheered, looking up from his bowl of miso pork ramen. “How was your mission? Are all the others all right?”

            “Yes, just a few scratches and maybe some sore muscles.” Minato reassured him. “I’m giving them a couple of days off. What about you guys? I heard you did a pretty amazing C-rank while I was gone.”

            “Oh, it was so awesome,” Naruto gushed. “See, I wound up saving this actress, who turned out to be a princess…”

            Minato smiled, and let his son talk, with occasional interjections from Sakura and Sai, while Ayame brought over a bowl of his favorite ramen.

 

            Itachi considered directing Tazuna’s family to an inn with reasonable prices, but decided it might be safer to house them at the Uchiha compound, and so, they made their way there at an unhurried pace, with Tazuna carrying Ranmaru. Tsunami and Inari openly stared at their first sight of Konoha, the ninja hopping from roof to roof, and the large city itself. When they arrived at the main house, Mikoto opened the door, a little surprised to see that they had guests, but quickly welcomed them in and served tea and sweets, promising she’d have their rooms prepared shortly. Her humble manner set Tsunami at ease, although the lack of sake disappointed Tazuna.

            After tea, Sasuke excused himself to take a long bath and wash his hair. He felt that he deserved a little bit of pampering. Dinner was a quiet event, although the way Inari kept looking at him was just plain wrong. He decided to unwind by playing Pokemon for a few hours and beating the Elite Four with a different team every time. When that didn’t work, he walked to the Uchiha armory and requisitioned polishing cloths and some oil.

            Itachi walked in to find Satsuki carefully polishing the lightning blades, Kiba, that she had taken from Raiga Kurosuki’s corpse. His eyes widened slightly.

 

            “Where did you get those, imouto?”

            “From the missing-nin I defeated this morning,” Sasuke replied nonchalantly. “Didn’t Hokage-sama tell you? I gave him a full report.”

            “No, he did not,” Itachi replied. When he had seen Sasuke at the bridge safe and sound, he assumed she had managed to evade the missing-nin that had gone after her and Inari. He did not realize she had killed said S-class missing-nin that was obviously one of the Seven Swordsman of the Mist, because those swords she was holding could belong to no other ninja. The implications were staggering. “How did you do it?” He asked in a frantic whisper. “Did you use the Amaterasu or Tsukuyomi? Was it Susanoo? Did you reveal your Rinnegan?”

            “It wasn’t by choice,” Sasuke whispered back. “Ranmaru has a dojutsu kekkei genkai that’s similar to the Byakugan but can disrupt other dojutsu. He saw through my genjutsu, so I had no choice! I stuffed Ranmaru in the King of Hell using the Naraka Path and then I let Raiga catch me. He was going to rape me so since he was distracted I stuck a Chidori sharp spear through his head. And then he died, and he didn’t do anything, so please don’t worry so much so much, niisan. I’m all right.”

            Somehow, Sasuke wasn’t that surprised when Itachi flickered them both onto the bed and hugged him again. At least, he had dropped the swords first. And Sasuke would never be too old to refuse a hug from Itachi.

 

            “So, where’s Satsuki-chan?” Kiba asked the next morning.

            “She exhausted her chakra protecting Inari and Tazuna yesterday, so she is resting.” Itachi explained. “So, I’ll be focusing on just the two of you for the next few days.”

            “Are we going to learn more cool techniques?” Kiba grinned.

            “The two of you worked very hard learning defensive Doton jutsu,” Itachi agreed. “Now, I will demonstrate several offensive Doton jutsu…”

            Kiba grinned wolfishly, and Shino nodded. That made perfect sense. He hoped Satsuki-san was all right. The illusion had been very well crafted, to hide her use of katon and raiton jutsu beneath the guise of other creature’s attacks. The hyouton must have been illusion as well. With so much water around, and the chilly weather, it would have been easy to manage. Truly, she was a worthy teammate.

           

            “Satsuki-chan summoned Pokemon and I missed it?” Sai bemoaned.

            “Ah, it was just a genjutsu…” Minato reassured the young man. Then, he winked. “But here, I got some pictures!”

            Sai snatched them out of his hands with a speed that made the Yellow Flash proud. Sure enough, there was Satsuki, protecting the client and two children, with very realistic renditions of Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres.

            “You want them? I can make copies.” Minato offered.

            “Yes,” Sai breathed.

            Sakura looked at her teammate, concerned. “Sai-kun, are you all right?”

            “I’m going to go ask Kurenai-sensei for more training!” Sai declared fervently. He would learn how to do this himself!

            Naruto and Sakura gave him slightly strange looks.

            “Now then,” The Hokage said; all business again. “Your mission today is…”

Chapter Text

Most kunoichi did not start their menstrual cycles until late. This was due to several factors. Whether through harsh training, such as Hinata and Tenten, or dieting in order to impress Sai and Naruto, such as Ino and Sakura, respectively, they simply did not have enough body fat accumulated for their bodies to decide they were biologically ready to give birth. These girls did not have Uchiha Mikoto for their mothers. While Sasuke had the harsh training part down, he also had his mother watching every bite he took at home when he ate a meal. And if he missed a bite and said he wasn’t hungry… well, even without her Sharingan active, it had only taken one instance of Uchiha Mikoto giving Sasuke a look and putting an extra large portion of beef with vegetables on Satsuki-chan’s plate to curb that tendency. And just to make the lesson sink in, there had been no tomatoes for a week.

            Sasuke, who still thought of himself as male, despite being in a female body, knew that he was going through some changes. Yes, he had started to grow breasts, and yes, they were irritating. He had to adjust for their presence on his chest, but at least he had not sprouted them overnight. And, fortunately, Uchiha women were, as Uchiha men were, built for speed and did not have what Sasuke considered enormous hindrances. And Uchiha Mikoto, being a good mother, had not said a word and instead gotten her daughter several modest sports bras in black and dark blue, although with little embroidered uchiwa on the back, as was expected.

            However, when Sasuke woke up, feeling blood trickling down his thighs, he naturally assumed the worst. His eyes snapped open, Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan scanning for enemies. There were none. Kiba and Akamaru were still on guard. They were awake. They were alert. This was not a genjutsu, and if it were someone who could cast genjutsu that could not be broken by his eyes, someone who had gotten past both him and Itachi… He felt fear for the first time in a long while, and he had to repeat to himself not to panic several times, mentally counting backwards from ten to one, making sure his hands were steady as he checked himself for damage in that intimate area.

            It was odd. He was sore, yes, and he was still bleeding, but how was he to cauterize and seal off this wound? Applying pressure was out of the question… Sasuke found the medical kit he always had in his pack and bandaged himself as best he could, before flickering to Itachi’s tent. Fortunately, Itachi had already felt his slight flare of chakra and was awake.

“Satsuki, what is wrong?” Itachi questioned with a slight look of concern in his eyes. He knew his younger sibling would not wake him for a trivial matter.

            “I am bleeding… here.” Sasuke said, gesturing. Itachi blinked, slowly, his eyes widening slightly. He realized with a sinking feeling that the academy teachers had clearly neglected an important part of health education. He felt sweat start to gather in his palms. He wished his mother were here to explain. Unfortunately, she was not, and as both Satsuki’s elder sibling and jounin-sensei, it fell to him.

            “I did not engage in intercourse.” Sasuke said, as calmly as he was able. “The academy teacher mentioned that it is natural to bleed a small amount when one first engages in sexual relations with a member of the opposite sex.”

            “I believe you,” Itachi replied, not wanting to even think about his younger sister engaging in any sort of sexual relations. He was frantically trying to remember everything he had learned about women, which, unfortunately, seemed to be fleeing his mind at the moment. His precious younger sister was bleeding and he could not help her, and they were on a three week long B-rank mission to survey the Forest of Death.

            After a moment's hesitation, Itachi formed the familiar signs for a shadow clone. As Sasuke watched, it flickered away. There was nothing else they could do for the moment, but wait.

 

            Itachi’s shadow clone thoughtfully disguised itself before entering Konoha proper and the nearest convenience store, heading for the aisle marked feminine products. Then, it hesitated. The array of products was frankly, mind-boggling. There were sanitary napkins of all shapes and sizes. There were tampons, meant to be inserted inside the body – Itachi tried vainly to banish the mental image of Satsuki putting something inside of herself. There were menstrual cups. There were even diapers – hopefully Satsuki would not need those. His eyes fastened on the one item he did recognize, and that was when he registered, too late, a familiar presence behind him.

            “Itachi,” His mother’s voice said, very calmly, but only a blind man would have failed to register the threat in it. “Why are you looking at condoms?”

 

            “Please do not hit me, mother, I’m a clone.” Itachi said as quickly as he could. “Satsuki is bleeding.”

            “Bleeding,” Mikoto frowned. “Itachi, Satsuki is a medic-nin. She knows how to deal with injuries.”

            “Not normal bleeding,” Itachi clarified. “She is bleeding between her legs.” He gestured to his crotch, trying and failing to suppress the blush on his cheeks.

            Mikoto sighed. What were they teaching the children at the Academy these days? Then, she remembered that Itachi had graduated from the Academy at age seven, and Satsuki’s area of expertise was basic medicine, not gynecology. In fact, now that she thought of it, most kunoichi did not start menstruating until later in life…

            “Here,” She said, starting to grab packages off the shelf. “I’ll give her the talk about menses when you two come home from the mission. She’ll need these green ones during the day and these thicker orange ones at night. Tell her to change the green ones every few hours before they soak through. The moderate strength painkillers in her first aid kit will do fine if she’s in pain. Oh, and bring her some of this.” Mikoto said, tossing Itachi a few more packages.

            Itachi caught the last of the packages. “You’re sending Satsuki underwear and chocolate?” He asked dubiously.

            “Trust me, she’ll need it.” Mikoto said, with a mother’s knowing smile. “Now hurry back!”

 

            A few minutes and body flickers later, Sasuke, now introduced to the wonders of having a menstrual cycle, having taken a painkiller and changed into clean underwear and an overnight pad, was trying to go back to sleep. It was not working. Finally, he decided he would sleep better in Itachi’s tent, so he packed up his sleeping bag and went to join his older brother. Itachi was not entirely displeased, and as it was Shino who found them when he went to wake Itachi in the morning, he was discreet enough not to mention it.

            The rest of the mission passed without much incident, although Satsuki was a bit more moody than usual and snapped at Kiba a few times. And she did eat most of the chocolate although she shared some with the rest of them. When Itachi mentioned this to his mother, she just gave him a placid smile and mentioned that it would have been much worse without the chocolate.

            Sasuke endured not only the talk about the menstrual cycle, but also the talk about sex, which he really did not want to hear. He had no desire to let any male sexual organs anywhere near his person, thank you very much, and why did people keep forgetting he was only twelve? But at least it was out of the way and hopefully would not have to ever be repeated ever again.

 

            “Hey, it’s the cheater,” An unpleasant voice said. Sasuke turned around; a plastic bag lightly dangling in one hand. It contained a paper bag of dango from a nearby sweetshop. Itachi was writing up a mission report, and Sasuke wanted to bring him something to eat. Standing behind him were Fuki, Kasumi, Masaki, and several other recent graduates from the Academy, all wearing their shiny new forehead protectors. With twelve members of his class graduating early, their teachers had probably focused their attention on the remainder so they had all managed to pass. Of course, he could take any of them one on one without breaking a sweat, probably even two or three of them, but there were seven… eight… nine of them.

            His team had been dismissed for the day, Teams Ten and Seven were out on a joint C-rank mission to clean out some bandits attacking merchants and traders traveling to Hoshigakure, Team Nine was visiting Kusagakure, and Team Gai was still training (or at least Lee and Gai were).

            “What’s the matter, Satsuki?” Another voice taunted. “Are you too good to talk to us, now?” It was Odeki, a round-faced, pimply boy.

            “She should be ashamed to talk to us, Odeki,” Bitou, a skinny, white haired boy sniggered. “I heard she was spreading her legs to get information on her last mission.”

            That prompted a round of laughter from all parties. Sasuke kept his face emotionless. He was about to just body flicker away when a thrown kunai missed his hand and sliced through the bag of dango he was holding, causing it to drop to the floor. Dango spilled everywhere, some of it being deliberately crushed underfoot as they advanced on him.

 

            Logically, Sasuke knew he should just ignore them, return to the shop later, and pick up some more dango for Itachi, after he cooled down a little. The analytical part of his mind noticed that the nearest security cameras had clearly picked up that they had thrown the first insults as well as the first kunai. The majority of his mind was wondering how smug they’d be after he called up Susanoo and put a few of Indra’s arrows through them. Or perhaps maybe he should burn them slowly with Amaterasu or slowly torture them with Tsukuyomi? Fortunately, the paranoid part of Sasuke, which was always the loudest, protested vehemently that revealing the Mangekyo Sharingan was a bad idea and the Rinnegan would be an even worse idea.

            So, Sasuke let them surround him, continue insulting him, and then, when they were about to actually inflict bodily harm on him, body flickered away to the Hokage’s Tower to report a possible leak of sensitive mission information and sexual harassment. Then he went back to the sweet shop and bought more dango… and a tomato juice, to reward him for a job well done.

           

            Weeks later, the Konoha Twelve and Team Gai were gathered near the Konoha main gate to welcome in the foreign Genin who were applying for the Chuunin Exams. Sasuke was keeping his eyes peeled for one particular team. He knew Itachi had given the Hokage the information on Orochimaru and the Akatsuki, but just in case, he wanted to be extra careful. Even the slight cramps he had didn’t manage to distract him as he spotted a distinctive head of red hair. There he was…

            Gaara was fairly used to being stared at. It was because he was powerful that he was feared. Shukaku and he both knew it was right to be looked upon so. But that girl with the shoulder-length black hair… there was something different about the way she was looking at him… and her eyes… she had eyes like his…

            “You,” He said, walking up to her, ignoring the gasps from his siblings and the people around her. “What’s your name?” She smelled like blood. He liked it.

            “Uchiha Satsuki.” She said. “I’ve heard of you. You must be Gaara.”

            Inside his head, Shukaku rumbled approvingly. She’s very powerful. She will be a good Mate for you.

            “Uchiha Satsuki,” Gaara looked her straight in the eye. “Date me.”

Chapter Text

To say Sasuke was stunned would be an understatement. Sasuke had planned on catching Gaara’s attention and perhaps offering to show him around town, maybe inviting him to dinner if he didn’t go crazy. This – this was something else entirely.

            Sasuke’s friends were in similar states of shock. Inside of Naruto’s mind, Kurama was laughing hysterically. Kiba was just the teensiest bit jealous. Shino adjusted his sunglasses. Shikamaru found the whole thing troublesome. Neji wondered if he should bring up the fact that his uncle was considering engaging him to Satsuki. Chouji ate another potato chip. Lee cried tears of joy as he proclaimed loudly the virtues of love at first sight until Tenten hit him over the head to silence him. Sai looked down. Masaru and Katsuo exchanged puzzled looks. Hinata poked her fingers together, discreetly studying Gaara with her Byakugan. Ino wondered if she could be a bridesmaid at Satsuki-chan’s wedding. Sakura moved a little closer; worried that Satsuki-chan would faint from the embarrassment.

            Temari and Kankurou edged away from Gaara as fast as they could without being too obvious about it.

            Naruto told Kurama to shut up, worried when Satsuki-chan continued to stare dumbly at nothing in particular without a word. “Ne, ne, Satsuki-chan, are you okay?” He asked. “Hey, you!” He pointed at Gaara. “Who do you think you are, anyway? You can’t just walk in here and say that to a girl!”

            “Are you her boyfriend?” Gaara asked, studying Naruto as though he were a bug to be crushed underfoot.

            “Huh?” Naruto asked. He was a boy, and he was Satsuki-chan’s friend, so of course he was. “Yeah, I am. What are you going to do about it? We’re all her boyfriends, dattebayo!”

            Everyone, the girls included; face palmed.

             

            “I see,” Gaara crossed his arms. Uchiha Satsuki must be a very powerful kunoichi indeed, with so many boys eager to pursue her. However, he would not lose.

            “Gaara,” Sasuke had finally snapped out of his shock in order to hear Naruto’s declaration, which had almost put him back into the comatose state. “If you don’t have any other plans, would you like my friends and me to show you around Konoha?”

            Hm. Even with the competition, he had clearly made an impression on her. Gaara nodded. Sasuke sighed in relief. Hopefully, Sakura could talk some sense into Naruto and he wouldn’t have to completely revamp his plans. And Gaara didn’t seem as completely unhinged as he had been in the last life. They kept Gaara and his siblings company all afternoon, showing them their favorite places to hang out and eat, and then Sasuke invited him over for dinner. The Kazekage’s children were on their best behavior, although once they were back at their hotel, Kankurou felt a chill of fear run down his spine when Gaara turned to him.

            “Kankurou,” Gaara told him. “I need to know the best ways to date a girl.”

            “…” Kankurou started to sweat.

 

            The first test of the Chuunin Exam proceeded much as it had in the previous life, although Sasuke noted that this time, there were applicants from a much more diverse selection of Hidden Villages. Also, almost seventy teams made it through, which worried him slightly. Hopefully, the second test would whittle down their numbers to a more manageable level. Well, he thought, the timeline had already changed, and the Uchiha Clan was alive and well. He could only focus on one problem at a time, after all.

            He, Kiba and Shino agreed on security questions to identify each other should they get separated during the Second Test while they were walking towards the undisclosed location. When they arrived at the Forest of Death, Kiba gaped, and would have said something before Shino elbowed him. Sasuke allowed himself a contented smile. While it would have been good to work together with some of their friends, he didn’t want them exposed in danger, because there was a good possibility that Orochimaru was out there and after him. Think of the devil and he will appear – there was no mistaking that tongue after Anko cut a really eager Genin.

            In any case, their starting gate was at least a good distance from Orochimaru’s, and they rigged up an excellent trap and almost immediately, caught a team of shinobi from Iwagakure with the help of some giant leeches, and found the matching Heaven scroll they needed. They promptly headed towards the tower at their best speed. Sasuke gave Shino the scroll to keep with the Earth scroll they had received at the beginning of the Exam. Kiba wasn’t sure why they were in such a hurry, but Akamaru was hiding in his jacket, whimpering, and that was a good enough excuse for him.

            When the androgynous-looking grass Genin showed up riding a giant snake, Akamaru was too frightened to even whimper. When Satsuki-chan told them to run, Kiba ran like his life depended on it. He barely registered Shino right behind him, or that Satsuki-chan had mentioned something about a summoning scroll for Itachi-sensei she had. The pack took care of its members, and Satsuki-chan was pack, but even the pack wasn’t suicidal.

 

            Sasuke’s Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan activated immediately as he summoned Itachi as well as the Kiba blades to hand. To his surprise, Itachi wasn’t alone. In retrospect, he really should not have been that surprised. Accompanying Itachi were Yondaime Hokage Namikaze Minato, as well as four Anbu.

            “Well, well, this is a surprise,” Orochimaru drawled. “Cheating during the Chuunin Exams, Satsuki-chan? I never would have expected it of you.”

            “You’re one to talk,” Minato shot back. “One of the Sannin impersonating a Genin to take the Chuunin exams isn’t considered cheating?”

            As the four Anbu sprang away to put up a barrier to contain the fighting, Orochimaru just laughed. Sasuke was about to leave the fighting to the clearly capable Hokage and his Anbu when he hesitated. Although he knew Itachi was more than capable of handling Orochimaru and not dying or an Edo Tensei zombie, one part of him still worried about his brother. By the time he was done thinking about it, the barrier was up anyway, so there was no way he could leave.

 

            Minato dispatched the snake easily enough, but Orochimaru was as slippery as his snakes. The next thing they knew, three coffins had creaked open and revealed the Shodaime, Nidaime, and Sandaime Hokage. This was bad, very bad. The Shodaime Hokage, Hashirama Senju, was of course, well known for his Mokuton techniques. The barrier the Anbu had put up splintered like so much glass once his trees started growing everywhere. And of course, as Hashirama was the one who had planted the forests surrounding Konoha, including the forest they were currently in, the environment was on his side as well.

            Itachi’s Amaterasu halted the growth for few moments, as Minato flickered to Sasuke’s side. “Sasuke,” He hissed. “The timeline’s already changed anyway. Take us to one of Kaguya’s dimensions so Hashirama won’t have the advantage. I’ll lend you some of Kurama’s chakra afterwards.”

            Sasuke blinked, before he nodded. Activating his space-time ninjutsu, he sucked Orochimaru, the three undead Hokage, Itachi, Minato, and the four Anbu into the icy, cavernous dimension where a blizzard was raging.

            Orochimaru was very confused. One minute they had been in the Forest of Death, he was pretty sure Hashirama Senju had the battle well in hand so he could finally kill Namikaze Minato and have not only one, but two Uchiha in his grasp, one as his next host and one as a spare and the potential to breed many, many more of them. Now, he was freezing, Tobirama’s water jutsu weren’t doing so well as many of them were solidifying in midair, neither were Hiruzen’s earth jutsu, and how the hell did a mere Genin keep dodging his attempts to bite her? Thus, one could forgive Orochimaru for being distracted. When he sensed a slash being aimed at him, he automatically blocked with his sword of Kusanagi. He was unpleasantly surprised when his sword was turned aside and then he was stabbed with something else. His last thought was that the Sword of Totsuka was supposed to be a myth.

           

            With their summoner gone, the three Hokage slowly returned to their senses. The fact that the controlling kunai in their heads suddenly were thousands of feet away might have had something to do with it too.

            “Minato,” Hiruzen greeted the blonde. “How are you doing these days? And who’s this?” His eyes crinkled up in a smile as he glanced at the two of them. “It can’t be Itachi-chan? You’ve grown up, I see.”

            “Sandaime-sama,” Itachi made a curt bow. “This is my sister, Uchiha Satsuki.”

            “Oh, an Uchiha with the Mokuton, now that is something!” Hashirama said cheerfully as he ambled over to join the conversation. Sasuke shot a bewildered look at him. How did he know? Then again, this was the man who had created the Mokuton in the first place.

            “She probably stole it,” Tobirama put in sourly. Itachi fixed Tobirama with a glare. The undead Hokage pointedly ignored him.

            “Don’t say such things, Tobirama!” Hashirama scolded his younger brother. “You wouldn’t do something like that, would you, Satsuki-chan?”

            Sasuke slowly shook his head, wondering at the first Hokage’s cheerful words. He was certainly as bubbly as he remembered from their brief conversation in his former life.

 

            “Why don’t we continue this conversation somewhere more comfortable?” Minato pointed out. “Satsuki-chan, if you could pick another dimension?”

            Kaguya’s home dimension with the mountainous region would probably be the best, Sasuke decided. There was even a castle. He activated his Rinnegan and warped the group there, whereupon he then stumbled a little. Hashirama, being the closest, caught him.

            “Satsuki-chan, here, take some of my chakra. I’ve got plenty to spare.” He offered. Being an Edo Tensei zombie, he did have an infinite supply of chakra.

            “Thank you, Hashirama-sama,” Sasuke said as politely as he was able, before he performed the hand signs for the chakra-sucking jutsu he had learned from another scroll.

            “You’re just full of surprises, aren’t you, Satsuki-chan?” Hashirama grinned at him.

            “I don’t know what you mean,” Sasuke replied, still busy absorbing. Hashirama reached a hand over and ruffled his hair.

            “If Tobirama wasn’t busy throwing a hissy fit, he’d have noticed it too.” Hashirama chuckled. “Your brother was the one who got rid of Snake-chan for good, but you were the one who ripped those control kunai out of our heads. And don’t think I didn’t hear blondie over there telling you to transport us. And you’re only a Genin? Kid, who do you think you’re fooling?”

            Sasuke scowled at Hashirama, who only laughed harder. “Satsuki-chan, I fought Madara. I’m willing to bet my Hokage hat you’ve got his eyes, if not something better.”

            “I only graduated nine months ago.” Sasuke pointed out. “And actually, I’m in the middle of the Chuunin Exams right now. This was just an unexpected detour.”

            Hashirama didn’t think he had ever laughed so hard in his life.

 

            Nearby, Tobirama and Itachi were still having their staring contest while Minato caught Hiruzen up to date with how the village was faring. Sarutobi was very pleased to hear how well everything was progressing, especially the integration of the Uchiha Clan with the rest of the village. He had worried about that, but evidently, Itachi-chan and little Satsuki-chan had done well. How nice to know that picking Minato had been the right choice after all. It warmed his heart to know Konoha was in good hands.

            Eventually, Minato remembered that Satsuki was still taking the Chuunin Exams. “We’ll catch up later, all right?” He told Hiruzen. Hiruzen nodded. “We’ll be back later with more supplies and stuff for you three,” He cheerfully told the three Hokage, handing them a notebook and pen so they could make a list.

            Sasuke obligingly took them back to the Forest of Death, right to the Central Tower, and then walked inside.

 

            “There you are!” Kiba and Shino were waiting for him, along with a frantic Suzume-sensei who had been briefed on the situation only minutes before. Even though Kiba and Shino had headed for the Central Tower at their best speed, avoiding enemy teams on the way, it had still taken them almost five hours. “We were so worried!”

            “Don’t worry,” Minato told the two of them. “Here she is, safe and sound. We took care of the problem with Orochimaru.”

            “Orochimaru,” Suzume-sensei squeaked.

            “In any case, congratulations on being the first team here.” Minato grinned. “Now the three of you, go and rest.” Sasuke went to join his teammates, who immediately started questioning him about it.

            “So, I had this summoning scroll for Itachi-sensei,” Sasuke started to say as they walked down the hall. “And apparently, he was in a meeting with Hokage-sama, so he didn’t come alone…”

 

            Team Seven, who had the advantage of Naruto the powerhouse on their team, easily overpowered an older Konoha team who thought that they’d pick on the younger teams. They had gone for a crying Sakura sitting alone under a tree and promptly been blindsided by Naruto’s shadow clones and Sai’s ink beasts. Now, tied up with vines under the same tree, they had plenty of time to regret their mistake.

 

            Elsewhere in the forest, Team Nine, with the help of Hinata’s Byakugan, had lured a team from the drier region of Suna into a swamp. Now they were thigh-deep in mud, which made them very vulnerable to the Doton jutsu Katsuo used to hold them in place while Masaru threw senbon at the precise tenketsu Hinata pointed out to him to paralyze them. Once they were certain the team was stuck for good, they water walked over to them and claimed their scroll, the one needed to complete their set.

 

            Team Ten had targeted a squabbling team from Rain who hadn’t had good team dynamics to begin with. Ino had possessed one of the members to insult another, which had set off the short-tempered member of the team to draw his sword and stab the other, had jumped back in her own body just in time before the purple-haired teen slumped down, pierced through a lung, leading the third member of the team to furiously turn on the first member of the team. After that, it had been ridiculously easy for Team Ten to finish them off.

 

            Team Eleven, also known as Team Gai, had the luck of finding a scroll carried by a redheaded girl escaping a bear. She offered it to them in exchange for an escort to the Tower. Lee, being kindhearted, offered to be her guide. Neji and Tenten had no problem accepting. Luck, after all, was also a ninja attribute, and who knew what the third test would entail?

 

            “Get out of our way, bastard. We need to go find that Uchiha slut and teach her a lesson.” Yarou spat at Gaara. Behind him, his teammates readied their weapons.

             “Temari,” Gaara turned to his sister. “What is a slut?”

            “Ah,” Temari awkwardly scratched the back of her neck. She really did not want to have this conversation with Gaara. “It is a woman who indiscriminately has sexual intercourse with many men.”

            “I see.” Gaara replied, turning back to the three boys. “And I assume you are referring to Uchiha Satsuki?”

            Yarou rolled his eyes. “Yes! What are you, an idiot? Now move!”

            That was the last thing he said before Gaara’s sand coffin crushed him and his teammates to death. Afterwards, Temari collected the scroll and they moved on.

           

End Chapter

Started 2/29/16

Completed 3/1/16

Chapter Text

 

            Despite the hazards of the Forest of Death, twenty-seven teams had made it through with all three members alive. That made Minato even gladder he had decided to go with team versus individual elimination rounds. As he made his welcoming speech, explaining how the next round of the Chuunin Selection Exam would work, and the importance of the preliminary rounds, he noticed a few irritated looks, but only the five teams with the most heavily wounded members forfeited. That left twenty-three three teams, so there would be eleven matches, and one team would get a bye. They would get started, then.

            The scoreboard lit up with the names of Team Eight versus Team Three, both from Konoha.

 

            “Its payback time, bitch,” Fuki said, flipping her spiky red hair back as she and her teammates took the field. Sasuke stayed back, behind Kiba and Shino. Kiba gave Fuki the finger, while Shino did nothing. Genma, who was proctoring as a substitute for the constantly-ill Hayate, wisely said nothing and began the match. Fuki immediately lunged forward, spraying fire from her mouth while her teammates threw clay balls full of black, sludgy oil that broke open upon that arena floor. Well, that was different, and their Jounin-sensei had taught them one effective strategy at least. Kiba skidded to a stop, hastily forming the hand styles for an earthen barrier and slamming his hands into the ground. He was quickly joined by Shino, who created another barrier to stem the flaming conflagration spreading towards them.

            “Hahaha! How do you like that?” Fuki taunted.

            Well, Sasuke thought, taijutsu was probably not going to work so well at this point. The fire would decimate Shino’s colony, and genjutsu wasn’t so effective at a distance, at least not the visual type. With the smell of burning oil and the sound of the crackling flames, scent- and sound-based genjutsu were also out. That left ninjutsu… water wasn’t that effective against a grease fire, but they did have earth on their side, and he was pretty sure both Kiba and Shino knew how to hide underground. He met Shino’s eyes, whispered something to Kiba, and they both nodded. They dove underground, leaving him alone.

            Fuki seemed to have gotten tired of waiting for him to come to her, so she and her teammates casually made their way around the defenses Shino and Kiba had thrown up. They lobbed more clay balls of oil at Sasuke, which Fuki then lighted. Sasuke let the three of them corner him, which looked like a dumb rookie mistake, and furthered their erroneous assumption that here was someone who had gotten promoted on having the right connections, when really, they were the ones who were making the mistake of concentrating on the enemy they could see while paying no attention to their surroundings and the two other members of his team. Seriously, what had their Jounin-sensei been teaching them?

            So, when they were almost in his face, Sasuke spat a stream of his patented nitric acid bubbles right into Fuki’s eyes, summoned his Kiba blades and slashed at the other two genin, one on each side of him, causing them to lose their concentration just as the real Kiba and Shino emerged from the ground behind them and knocked them out. From the balcony, Gaara sighed in pleasure as he listened to Fuki scream in agony and admired the sight of the blood dripping from the other two Genin. Truly, he had made the right choice…

            Without further ado, Genma declared the match over, and Team Eight the winner.

           

            Next, Gaara’s team was paired against the Team from Sound. They didn’t stand a chance. Temari negated Zaku’s airwave attack with her battle fan, Kankurou’s puppet immobilized Dosu, and Kin was less than useless. Fortunately, Gaara did not feel like killing them. They were smart enough to surrender once they were buried up to their necks in sand.

 

            The next three matches were mostly between foreign teams. The team from Kumogakure, led by Samui, decimated another team from Sunagakure, while the team from Takigakure, led by Fuu – here Sasuke narrowed his eyes, as he vaguely remembered her as being a jinchuuriki as well – narrowly triumphed over a team from Kirigakure. Finally, a team from Hoshigakure managed to tire out Kabuto’s two former teammates plus an extra by attacking from the sky. Sasuke wasn’t sure what type of strange foreign chakra they were using but they managed to fly! It was pretty impressive. 

 

            “The next match will take place between Team Seven and Team Nineteen of Konoha.” Genma announced. Naruto cheered. He was so sick of waiting! Sakura glanced over at Team Nineteen. That was Kasumi’s team! She wondered what tricks they might have up their sleeves. Sai had a calm smile on his face, and that helped her relax. Whatever happened, the three of them would pull through together.

            Kasumi was furious. Michiko-sensei had taught all three of them to meditate to calm their emotions, but after seeing what had happened to Fuki’s team it was very hard for her to keep from going over to Satsuki and beating her up to wipe that small smirk off her face. She’d settle for taking out her friend Sakura, instead. She looked over at Masaki, who had a similar scowl on his face. “Don’t worry, Kasumi-chan.” He reassured her. “We’ll definitely make them pay…”

            From what Kasumi remembered from the Academy, Naruto had always been terrible at genjutsu, and she doubted his teammates were much better. As soon as the match began, she cast a wide-area genjutsu that blanketed the field in darkness. She, Masaki and Hiro had done several days of training at night, so they could easily move through their surroundings. They saw Sakura and Naruto stop in their tracks and look around wildly, while Sai at least kept his composure and drew a kunai, dropping into a defensive stance. This match was in the bag!

            Kasumi silently made her way to Sakura, grabbing her by the front of her dress and putting a kunai to her throat. “Give up, forehead,” She taunted. “You’ve lost.” Sakura responded with a punch to the gut that sent her sailing through the air and crashing to the ground at least a dozen yards away. She followed up with a vicious kick that broke several ribs, just to make sure, before knocking Kasumi out.

            Hiro, being slightly more intelligent, leapt at Naruto’s unprotected back with a drawn kunai. He crashed through empty air, realizing too late the Naruto he had seen was actually an illusion, before the real Naruto put him out of his misery by punching him unconscious.

            Masaki, wanting to have a little fun with Sai, threw a couple of kunai attached to explosive tags. To his annoyance, Sai seemed to have no problem dodging all of them. He shrugged, got in close, and engaged in taijutsu. Sai hadn’t been particularly good at that. He was always busy doing calligraphy or painting. Sai was leaving himself wide open, and he- Masaki’s eyes suddenly widened in pain and he gave a high-pitched whimper as Sai kneed him as hard as he could in the crotch, before slamming his head into the ground, ending his suffering.

            “And Team Seven is the winner,” Genma announced.

            Up in the stands, there were more than a few people openly laughing at how Team Seven had won. Minato did not even try to keep the smile off his face, and had to hide his chuckles behind one hand.

             

            The next Team to get called up was Team Ten from Konoha and a Team from Kirigakure. Ino, Shikamaru and Chouji tried their best, but between what seemed like thousands of exploding tags from the first boy’s sword, the way the second boy’s sword could even stop Chouji’s human bullet tank, and the way the girl, Emi, restricted their movements with her strange sword shaped like a sewing needle by sewing the three of them together by their clothes, they were too bruised and battered to continue and had to surrender.

 

Another match followed, in which a team from Sunagakure fought a team from Iwagakure. Both sides took hostages, and as, neither side was willing to step down, involved both hostages dying, whereupon Genma stopped the match and disqualified both teams. A second Iwagakure team triumphed over a team from Kusagakure, nearly burying them alive. Odeki’s team from Konoha was brutally crushed by a team from Yukigakure, who managed to call up a miniature blizzard.

 

When Bitou saw that he and his teammates were paired up against Hyuuga Neji, the previous year’s Rookie of the year, they immediately surrendered. Seeing what had happened to Fuki and Kasumi made him cautious enough to know when to quit. Lee and Neji were quite disappointed. When were they going to get a decent fight?

           

            Now the preliminaries were over. That meant Team Nine from Konoha got the bye. Minato got up and thanked all the participants, before coming down with a box to announce the match-ups for the third stage of the Chuunin Exams, which would take place in a month’s time. This time, the team from Yukigakure received the bye.

            The match-ups pitted the Sunagakure team against Team Eight in the first round, the Kirigakure team against Team Eleven from Konoha in the second round, the Iwagakure team against Team Nine in the third round, the Takigakure team against the Hoshigakure team in the fourth round, and the Iwagakure team against Team Seven in the last round. The winners and the Yukigakure team would be pitted against each other on the next day, and on the following day, the remaining genin would compete in individual matches.

           

            Overall, Sasuke thought, his friends did pretty well. If Team Ten hadn’t run into that obviously cheating Team from Kirigakure… those were three of the swords of the former Seven Swordsmen of the Mist! Well, he thought, maybe he shouldn’t point fingers, since he had the Kiba blades himself… Ino had a broken leg, but at least she hadn’t been hurt worse. He’d have to remember to visit her often. He felt a familiar presence nearby, and slowed down so Shino could catch up with him.

            “Satsuki-san,” Shino said. “May I speak with you?”

            “Of course,” Sasuke replied. “Did you want to have dinner together?”

            Shino acquiesced, and they walked the rest of the way to the Uchiha compound together. Mikoto was happy to see them, and even happier to learn they had won their match. She apologized that she had not prepared anything special for him, but Shino reassured her that it was all right.

 

            They had just started dinner when Shino looked at Sasuke and stated quietly “Satsuki-san, a Queen should not pretend to be a mere worker.”     

            Sasuke blinked. “I beg your pardon?”

            “Both Kiba and I are aware that you are far more proficient than you try to appear.” He said bluntly. “Satsuki-san, we are your teammates. We will not be jealous if you outperform us.”

            “…Oh,” He said, awkwardly. “Kiba knows too?”

            “Akamaru can sense how powerful a shinobi or kunoichi is, even if they show no ill will,” Shino reminded him. “And my kikaichu can easily distinguish between different types of elemental chakra. Even if that were not so, I knew that first day that the chakra paper Itachi-sensei gave you was no illusion. Moreover, there is a high risk of injury and possibly death in the third stage of the Chuunin Exams. Therefore, we ask you to trust us.”

            “I…” Sasuke didn’t know what to say to that. Finally, he got up and gave Shino a hug. Shino stiffened, but did not pull away, awkwardly patting him on the back.

            “Okay,” Sasuke said, finally getting control over his emotions. “Tomorrow, we’ll meet up with Kiba and the others. Then, we can start more team training in preparation for this Exam.”

            Shino smiled.

Chapter Text

“So, where are you taking us all, Satsuki-chan?” Naruto asked curiously as they walked through the village, towards the Uchiha compound. Sasuke had gathered the Konoha Fifteen, even Ino, who was on crutches, two days later.

            “We’re going to a secret place to train for the upcoming Chuunin Exams,” Sasuke explained.

            “Oh, you mean somewhere on Uchiha land, so no one can spy on us to learn our techniques?” Neji asked. It was certainly an idea he approved of. With several of the foreign teams opting to stay in the village, there were certain to be spies. While they had conspired to keep their techniques a secret in the preliminaries (and his team hadn’t had a chance to fight at all), the training grounds around Konoha were free for anyone to utilize and observe.

            Sasuke nodded, not wanting to elaborate.

            “Why’d you invite us along then? We’ve already lost,” Shikamaru grumbled.

            “We still need your brains, Shikamaru.” Kiba said. “You watched the other matches. You can help us come up with strategies.”

            “Troublesome,” The shadow-wielder muttered, but he was secretly pleased.

 

            Once they were in a dense forest on Uchiha-owned land, Sasuke activated his Rinnegan, and the next thing they knew, the Konoha Fifteen were in Kaguya’s home dimension, with the three reanimated Hokage.

            “Ah, hello again, Satsuki-chan!” Hashirama said cheerfully. “You brought friends this time!”

            “W-w-what,” Sakura scrambled backwards. “Y-you… you’re supposed to be dead!”

            “Now that’s not very nice,” Hashirama waggled a finger at her. “But I’ll forgive you, because you’re pretty.”

            Before everyone else could panic, they were all snared in Shikamaru’s shadow imitation technique, and forced to stand still.

 

            “You brought us to train.” Shikamaru said, slowly.

            Sasuke nodded.

            “With the previous three Hokage… who are supposed to be dead…” Shikamaru continued.

            Sasuke nodded again.

            “I don’t even want to think about how you managed this.” Shikamaru finished. “All I can conclude is that you are either utterly insane or possibly brilliant.”

            “In my defense,” Sasuke said, “I didn’t bring them back to life. That was Orochimaru.”

            “You can tell us the whole story later.” Shikamaru said. “In any case, does anyone have any objections to being trained by the three Hokage?”

            Not surprisingly, there were none.

            “Okay,” Shikamaru said. “I’m going to release the technique now.”

            Immediately, the three Hokage were mobbed by an excited crowd of twelve and thirteen year olds.

            What did I do to deserve this? Tobirama thought miserably. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so biased against the Uchiha…

 

            A few hours later, Sasuke brought up the idea of using the Garden of Paradise technique to train. He wasn’t sure if it would work without the Sharingan, but Hinata and Neji had the Byakugan. He was surprised when Tobirama of all people burst out laughing.

            “What’s so funny?” He asked, affronted.

            “You used that for training with your brother?” Tobirama chuckled. “I’m not surprised Madara stole it, but kid, the Garden of Paradise was originally used as a way for shinobi and kunoichi to have affairs without leaving any physical evidence. You can spend hours in a genjutsu, have all the fun you want… no mess, no fuss…”
            Sasuke blushed to the tips of his ears.

           

            “Even if that’s the case, it could still be useful,” Tenten put in. Sasuke shot her a grateful look. Tobirama shrugged and demonstrated the hand signs, explaining that no, it did not require a dojutsu to use, but it worked best for those with Suiton chakra. They all built the genjutsu up together, and spent the rest of the afternoon training. Sasuke was able to demonstrate some of his elemental techniques and Mangekyo Sharingan abilities without fear of actually hurting anyone, and the others cut loose with their best stuff too, giving their new instructors a good idea of where they were and what to work on.

            Even if they would end up battling against each other in the later rounds of the finals (and Sasuke didn’t think it would be that likely because even if Orochimaru was out of the picture Otogakure or the Akatsuki might still invade Konoha – with three Genin-level Jinchuuriki present at the finals, that would be pretty tempting) they were all friends and wouldn’t be trying to kill each other, just putting on a good show for promotion, so keeping secrets was pretty much pointless. Eventually, though, they had to leave. It was mid-afternoon and they had various commitments at home, and Sasuke had another dinner with Gaara to look forward to.

            Fugaku had been busy with another case, so he was a little surprised when he returned home for dinner that night and found that Satsuki had invited a guest. When Gaara introduced himself and stated his intention to date her, Fugaku had gone into full overprotective father mode, Sharingan and all. Itachi had continued eating while Gaara had stated his intention to kill anyone who got in his way. Fortunately, Mikoto had only to smile and step between them to defuse the situation, but nonetheless, it had impressed Fugaku. Then, he had recognized that Gaara was the son of the Kazekage… and realized that this might be the opportunity of a lifetime.

           

            Sasuke woke up the next morning and had breakfast with his family, before Itachi mentioned that he would be taking him to see the Hokage. That surprised Sasuke, as he wasn’t completely sure what the Hokage wanted to speak to him about. Still, he decided to be on his best behavior just in case. When he and Itachi arrived at Namikaze Minato’s office, to his surprise, Jiraiya and Tsunade were also present.

            “I already explained the basic situation,” Minato began. “But Jiraiya and Tsunade wanted some proof after Naruto began babbling about being trained by Sandaime-sama at the dinner table last night.”

            Sasuke felt like smacking his forehead. Why couldn’t Naruto keep his mouth shut? He had warned them about the importance of discretion! Granted, Minato already knew, but…

            “It’s a fair exchange,” The Hokage continued. “After all, Tsunade agreed to donate some blood to Itachi to activate his Rinnegan, and Jiraiya will work on a way to duplicate that seal on your eyes that I’m sure is hiding your Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan.”

            Jiraiya gave Sasuke a wink. “And I’m sure a pretty girl like you wouldn’t deny a student the chance to see his old teacher again, would you?”

            “…Fine.” Sasuke said. It wasn’t that he wouldn’t agree. “But I also want you to take a look at Gaara’s seal. I’m sure he’s doing better, but I don’t want Shukaku to eat his brain.”

            “Oho! You want me to take a look at your boyfriend’s seal? Of course, of course,” Jiraiya laughed. “That will be no problem for the great Jiraiya-sama!”

            “…He’s not my boyfriend.” Sasuke protested, but Jiraiya pretended not to hear. Tsunade even gave him a wink.

            Sasuke gave up, and just activated his Rinnegan.

 

            “Tsunade-chan, you’ve grown up!” Hashirama said when he saw who Sasuke had arrived with this time.

            “G-Grandpa…” Tsunade’s eyes filled with tears as she ran over to Hashirama to give him a hug. Unfortunately, she underestimated her strength and broke him in half. Fortunately, as an Edo Tensei zombie, he recovered quickly.

            “Hahahaha! That’s my girl!” Hashirama laughed, not disappointed in the least.

            “And you…” She turned to Tobirama. Sighing, he let her hug him too.

 

            “It’s so good to see you again, Jiraiya,” Hiruzen said, smiling at his pupil.

            “You too, you old geezer,” Jiraiya said, with a tear in his eye, before whipping out a book. “I did bring you a present though. It’s the latest one in the series.” If he had been alive, the Third Hokage probably would have developed a nosebleed. As it was, he promptly clutched the newest novel in the Icha Icha series with trembling hands, as though he held the crown jewels.

            “I’ll treasure this forever, Jiraiya,” He promised solemnly.

           

            Sasuke decided that since they were occupied, he would just pick them up in the evening. He checked with Minato, who gave him the okay, and said he had to discuss some things with Itachi. Sasuke nodded and went back to the real world meet up with his friends. It was a weekend, so they were going to the Hyuuga Clan compound to have a picnic and pool party around noon and Hinata had invited Gaara so he could practice his social skills. Gaara had accepted, once he had learned Sasuke would be there.

            Sasuke went back home, did some reading, dug out a spare change of clothes and changed into black shorts and a modest, dark blue one-piece swimsuit with a little uchiwa on the back, and packed two towels, a water bottle, sunscreen and a few odds and ends. He picked up the enormous bowl of fruit salad he had made the night before and then flickered over to Hinata’s place. A few of the others had already arrived and were setting up an enormous picnic table groaning with food next to an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

 

            “Hinata-chan,” He called as he walked into the yard.

            “Hi, Satsuki-chan,” She replied, waving him over. “I’m glad you could make it.”

            Katsuo came over to take the bowl of fruit salad from him, helping to carry it to the table. “Cool, I’ll put this over with the rest of the salads.”

            “What did you bring?” He asked.

            “My dad’s famous seven-layer dip and tortilla chips,” Katsuo grinned, “And three types of salsa and fresh guacamole, too.”

            “Interesting,” Sasuke replied. “I’ll have to try some.”

           

            There was a little tension when Gaara arrived, not alone, but accompanied by his sister, Temari. Of course, it might also have been caused by the fact that Temari arrived in a sexy red bikini and flowered wraparound skirt and she was clearly more endowed than all the girls there, and even the normally stoic Neji and Shino were staring at her. She put down the tray of beef and lamb kebabs that were their contribution and grinned. “It’s nice to meet all of you.”

            Shikamaru was the first one who managed to pull his bulging eyes away, which made him go up a notch in Temari’s opinion. “Welcome,” He said. He introduced everyone without a fuss, another point in his favor, and then poured her a drink, showing her to a seat. Temari accepted the drink and surveyed her potential competition in the Chuunin Exam finals. They didn’t look too special, but they were Sunagakure’s allies, and that black-haired Uchiha girl might even be her sister-in-law, what with the way Gaara kept looking at her. It was strange for Gaara to even be interested in a girl. She still couldn’t quite wrap her mind around it.

            Gaara had taken baths of course, but the idea of swimming was somewhat foreign to him. He was not certain if he enjoyed it or not. But being surrounded by Hinata, Sakura, Ino, and Satsuki, as they showed him how to float and kick his legs, helping to hold him up, he found that the sensation of being touched was very pleasant indeed. Also, the jealous looks coming from the other males were something to be treasured. So perhaps he took a little longer than necessary to learn how to move his arms properly before he could swim on his own.

            Once he learned the basics of how to swim, they played a fascinating game called sharks and minnows. Gaara was in his element. From being the pursued he quickly became a pursuer. How delightful! Even if there was no blood involved, catching screaming prey was what being a predator was about! And what a feast awaited them when they had exhausted themselves in the water. These Konoha ninja surely were so much more interesting than the ones he had grown up with back in Suna. And they were not afraid of him, either…

            After filling their bellies, there were more games to play, with cards and boards. Gaara might never have played them before, but he was a quick learner, and he could tell they were impressed. All too soon, it was growing dark, but they invited him to meet with them again the next day, and he agreed readily.

            Temari could not believe it. Gaara had actually smiled during the day. He had lost at Monopoly and instead of threatening to kill everyone he had just asked if they could play another round. The blonde Konoha ninja in the bright orange jumpsuit had slapped him on the back for being such a good sport and another one of them had grinned and given him a chocolate bar. Gaara had eaten the chocolate and they had restarted the game. Had they slipped something in the food and was she hallucinating, or maybe this was just a very, very vivid dream?

           

            The next day, Jiraiya dropped by to make a few modifications to Gaara’s seal. Sasuke sat with Gaara and held his hand during the procedure, which was fortunately, rather brief. While Temari had stayed in Konoha to keep an eye on Gaara, Kankurou was back in Suna, working with Chiyo on his puppets. Gaara seemed to think of Jiraiya’s seal work as some sort of courting ritual, no matter how many times Sasuke tried to explain it as something friends did for one another. Jiraiya’s jokes weren’t helping, either. In the adjacent room, Temari was wondering how she would explain this to her father. On one hand, he didn’t seem too overly concerned about Gaara’s welfare. On the other hand… an alliance with the powerful Uchiha Clan in Konoha… he might be interested in that, and it would take Gaara off of his hands… She had better write to him.

Chapter Text

Rasa, the Yondaime Kazekage, had been mildly intrigued by Temari’s letter. The Uchiha girl’s team would be fighting his children in the first match of the third round of the Chuunin Exams anyway, so he would make certain to attend the match. That was why he was currently seated next to the Yondaime Hokage, Namikaze Minato, the Yondaime Mizukage, Yagura, the Yondaime Raikage, Ay, and the Sandaime Tsuchikage, Ohnoki, and their bodyguards, along with several other representatives from the minor villages. They all had teams competing in the final matches, and now that the pre-game entertainment had ended, all eyes were on the show. Admittedly, he was a little leery about the kind of girl that would catch Gaara’s interest, but hopefully, she was more than just a pretty face.

            He was, therefore, a little startled when the match began and Uchiha Satsuki charged at Gaara. Instead of activating his defense or sand armor, though, Gaara trapped her inside of his Shield of Sand with him. Well, Rasa thought, what was that all about? He watched as Temari and Kankurou began to fight their opponents, the Inuzuka boy with his puppy and the Aburame boy. The Inuzuka boy and his dog turned into a two-headed wolf and leapt at Temari, pinning her down and knocking her battle fan a distance away, while the Aburame boy seemed to be negatively affecting Kankurou’s ability to manipulate his puppets. That was odd… and unexpected. But what was Gaara doing?

            Temari tried to push the giant wolf off of herself, but it was well-nigh impossible. They were heavy, and how had they gotten so fast? She growled as the combined weight of the two of them kept her very firmly trapped against the ground of the arena. This was so humiliating! Meanwhile, Kankurou was staring at the bugs crawling all over his fingers. “W-w-what,” He stammered. “W-When… how….”

            Meanwhile, inside the Shield of Sand, which was very spacious, Gaara watched as Satsuki concentrated, calling up the Naraka Path’s King of Hell. While Sasuke wasn’t certain if the spirit of Gaara’s mother, Karura, was in purgatory, it was at least worth a try to see if the King of Hell could call it back. As it turned out, the closest fragment of Karura’s spirit happened to be in Gaara’s sand, which was all around them, so to Gaara’s surprise and happiness and Sasuke’s relief, the ghostly, transparent form of a beautiful woman appeared in front of both of them.

            “Gaara…” She smiled, holding out her arms with a smile on her face.

            “M-mother…” Gaara breathed, instantly recognizing her from the photographs he had seen. “It’s you…”

            She wasn’t completely solid, but she was solid enough for Gaara to hug. Sasuke stayed out of the way and let Gaara hug his mother and cry. It looked like his gamble had worked. He figured he could let them talk for a few hours. It worked all right, and after Karura disappeared, Gaara turned to him. Sasuke didn’t mind the hug, but when Gaara tried to kiss him, he panicked. He tried to get away, Gaara tried to hold on, and while they didn’t get hurt, his shirt wasn’t as strong as either of them, and ripped in half. Gaara immediately blushed and let go of him, and offered his own shirt, which Sasuke took gratefully.

            “Can we end the match now?” Sasuke asked, once he had put on Gaara’s shirt.

            Gaara blinked. “Oh. Yes, of course. Thank you so much, Satsuki-chan. I will never forget this.” He promised.

            “It’s what friends do.” Sasuke replied. “But just so we’re clear, I don’t want to date you – or marry you.”

            Gaara looked more than a little disappointed, but then he nodded. “Mother told me that it is not right to force a girl to date you. May I ask who holds your heart than, Satsuki-chan?”

            “No one,” Sasuke replied. “It’s just that I think we’re too young to think about those things.”

            “Oh,” Gaara looked surprised. “I see…”

           

            When they emerged from the shield of sand together, Gaara surrendered. Rasa, seeing the Uchiha girl completely unscathed, wearing Gaara’s shirt, and a smiling, shirtless, Gaara, came to an erroneous but not completely unreasonable conclusion. He turned to Uchiha Itachi, who was standing next to the Hokage as one of his bodyguards, and asked, “Did your sister just have sex with my son to win the match?”
            “…” Itachi chose not to dignify the absurd question with an answer. Unfortunately for him, Rasa took that as a yes.

            “Perhaps it is not too soon to begin drawing up the engagement papers, if your father is amenable, Itachi-san,” He continued on cheerfully. Itachi would have growled, if it were in his nature to do so. Fortunately, before things could become too messy, the next match, between the Kirigakure team and Team Nine of Konoha, was announced. The Mizukage, Yagura, leaned forward in his seat, a smile upon his lips.

 

            Neither Hinata nor her teammates were terribly surprised when Emi and her teammates began calling up a mist to hide in. Their training with Tobirama-sensei had trained them to rely on their other senses to be able to fight under difficult visual conditions, and in any case, Hinata had her Byakugan. What was odd, though, was that the mist seemed to be spreading beyond the boundaries of the arena. And where were they getting so much water from, anyway? Hearing the sudden, not-quite-muffled screams from the crowd, Hinata reached the conclusion that something was not right, and exchanged glances with Masaru and Katsuo, who nodded. These exams weren’t a once in a lifetime opportunity anyway, and as Konoha ninja, Genin or not, it was their duty to investigate.

            Minato and the upper echelon of Konoha ninja, who had expected something to happen, were not completely surprised when a portion of the audience turned out to be Mist and Sound ninja and white Zetsu. Yagura, on the other hand, wasn’t so lucky, as he was in a rather cramped box with four other Kage. Before he could call on Isobu to aid him, he had each of them attached to a different limb.

            “If you had to invade, couldn’t you have waited until after the Exams,” Fence-sitter Ohnoki hissed in an ear, keeping a firm grip on Yagura’s left shoulder, looking ready to pulverize him. “Now, you’ve disqualified my Genin!”

            “I can’t believe you’ve allied yourself with Akatsuki!” Ay roared in his other ear, recognizing the few figures in black coats with the red clouds and ready to rip his other arm off. “If you think I don’t know they’re going after the Jinchuuriki, you’ve got another thing coming to you!”

            “If you tell us who you’re working for, we’ll at least make it quick,” Minato pointed out, keeping a firm grip on Yagura’s right leg.

            “I suppose that as Konoha is our ally, I have an obligation to help out.” Rasa, who was clutching Yagura’s left leg acknowledged.

            “Go to hell!” Yagura spat, trying to blast them off with the sheer force of unleashing a massive wave of the three-tailed turtle’s chakra. He did succeed in removing the Four Kage, but more than half his limbs as well. Even a jinchuuriki’s accelerated healing could not regrow limbs instantly, or stop massive hemorrhage.

            Well, since Yagura was down for the count, Minato decided maybe things would work better if he could have his half of Kurama talk to Isobu. A minute later, he had the confirmation that Yagura was being controlled by someone claiming to be Uchiha Madara. That was all well and good, but not very useful in their current situation. Minato glanced up as his Anbu bodyguards, Itachi among them, reappeared.

 

            “Itachi, go find Satsuki, and tell her that the tomatoes are ripe.” He said, handing Yagura’s unconscious body to Itachi.

            Itachi nodded, and flickered away. He found Satsuki, Kiba blades in hand and crackling with lightning chakra, clashing against a burly Mist-nin who was wielding a massive cleaver. Itachi dispatched him with ease, and delivered the message, handing Yagura over. Sasuke nodded, and disappeared.

 

            “Yo, Satsuki-chan, what’s up?” Hashirama looked up from where he and Tobirama were playing checkers and enjoying cups of tea.

            “Konoha’s being invaded in the middle of the Chuunin Exams. Stabilize him and let’s go.” Sasuke said, dropping Yagura to the ground with an unceremonious thump. Hashirama tsked as he looked at the armless, one-legged Yagura, hands already flickering with healing chakra.

            “You’re really not giving me much to work with, here.” He complained.

            “He’s a jinchuuriki, he won’t die,” Sasuke said. “And he’s the Mizukage, the one leading the invasion.”

            “Huh,” Tobirama snorted. “He doesn’t look like much. Will he be a valuable hostage?”

            “I don’t know. This is way above my pay grade. But at least if he’s here, he shouldn’t get into too much trouble.” Sasuke replied.

            Hiruzen rose, putting his pipe down. “An invasion during the Chuunin Exams… Youth nowadays have no respect.”

            “And… done!” Hashirama wiped his hands. “All right, Satsuki-chan. Lead the way!”

            Sasuke opened the portal, dropping them off right in the middle of a crowded street. A gasp went up from the surrounding ninja, both Konoha and foreign ninja alike. It looked like when this was over, he would have a lot of explaining to do…

 

            This was supposed to be a deserted street, Sasuke thought dumbly for a moment, before he realized that there were a lot of white Zetsu around and that was a very bad thing. Oh, and the Mist and Sound ninja. First things first – eliminate the witnesses that he could.

            “Neji-kun!” He called over to his friend. “They can absorb chakra!”

            Neji nodded, whirling around in kaiten as he deflected two of them. He had suspected that might be the case, but it was good to get confirmation.

            “Yosh! Feel the fury of my righteous fist, foul invader!” Lee cried, punching a white Zetsu hard enough to send it flying into the wall of a nearby building. “None shall stand against the power of youth!”

            Tenten neatly decapitated one of them with a sword, and then set the head on fire. She wasn’t sure what they were, but she was pretty sure they couldn’t live without their heads.

            The three Hokage had made short work of the Mist and Sound ninja and moved on. Sasuke knew they had more important things to do. If the Akatsuki really were out there, the Hokage would definitely be needed. But he had the feeling he was missing something vitally important…

 

            Chouji’s enormous fists squeezed several Zetsu to a pulp. Nearby, Ino had possessed a Zetsu to merge with another until both of them were caught within Shikamaru’s shadow. Now that they were snared, Shikamaru calmly walked them into a trash fire and waited until they had burned to death. It was unpleasant, but necessary. If only there was some way to speed up the process! Why were there so many of these blasted white creatures? They looked humanoid, but unless they were killed, they would get up and keep attacking, like zombies in a horror movie, he thought grimly.

 

            Masaru’s gale combined with Hinata’s stream of fire to form a raging inferno that incinerated the half-dozen Zetsu. Katsuo had lured them into a dead-end alleyway so his teammates could roast them. It was a pity that this particular tactic could only work once, but his fertile mind was already churning with other ways they could trap the strange white creatures and destroy them. Hinata had exploded one’s head like a melon after it had latched onto Masaru’s back and started sucking his chakra, but killing them one by one was much too slow. Where were they all coming from?

 

            Kiba and Akamaru’s passing fang sheared through several of the Zetsu, leaving them in damaged pieces, which were sent flying all over the place. Not far away, Shino’s kikaichu methodically swarmed over others, sucking them dry of chakra. Shino adjusted his sunglasses, frowning. Nearby, Naruto’s shadow clones were basically beating the crap out of any white Zetsu in their path, Sakura had decided to forego genjutsu and was very efficiently slicing and dicing with a pair of chakra scalpels, while he could have sworn Sai had muttered something under his breath about damned Zubats.

 

            While Hidan and Kakuzu were immortal, being disintegrated into nothingness was quite an effective counter. Ohnoki dusted off his hands, looking quite satisfied with himself as the last scraps of them disappeared. It also got rid of any possible evidence that he may or may not have been conspiring with Akatsuki in the past. Deidara had gone down almost instantly thanks to the Yondaime Hokage’s Hiraishin, the Raikage and Kazekage had made short work of Sasori, and while the strange plant man had disappeared back into the ground, he didn’t seem like that much of a threat anyway.

 

            “It’s pointless,” The man who called himself Madara said quietly as he observed the battle raging throughout Konoha from atop the Hokage monument. True, the Sound and Mist ninja were taking a bit of a beating, but with the immense army of White Zetsu at his command relentlessly springing out of the ground from the vast forests surrounding Konoha, the defending forces would tire eventually. First Konoha, then Suna, and finally, the rest of the ninja world would bow to him and him alone! That was when he noticed that the forest was acting a little odd. That was peculiar. Maybe he should take a better look. Oh, and maybe it was time to use his Edo Tensei summons to rub it in the faces of those Konoha ninja a little more just why he was the one who should have been Hokage.

            Only… when he performed the technique, nothing happened.

            “Yo! Old guy! What do you think you’re doing?” The cheerful voice of a reanimated Hashirama Senju broke into his thoughts. His eyes widened as he stared at the First Hokage, who should have been under his control, followed by the Second and the Third Hokage.

            “Bow before me! I am Uchiha Madara!” He roared from behind his mask.

            “Nuh-uh,” Hashirama said. “I’ve fought Madara lots of times, and no matter how many Sharingan you’ve got implanted all over your body, I’m a hundred percent sure you’re not him. And may I say having eyes in your butt is just gross?”

             “Danzo,” Hiruzen sighed. “So it is you, after all.”

Chapter Text

Tayuya snickered as she saw the elegantly-dressed lady with blue hair and her orange-haired male servant pushing an emaciated man in a wheelchair towards the Konoha hospital, only accompanied by the little Uchiha girl who had won her match by seducing the boy from Suna. She signaled to the rest of the Sound Five, pointing down to the abandoned street beneath them. Kidoumaru smirked. Jiroubou cracked his knuckles. Sakon and Ukon shared identical grins while Kimimaro looked bored. Killing civilians was boring, and the hospital was too well fortified for a direct attack yet. This was the perfect opportunity…

            As one, they leapt down at the group. Only… just before they actually reached them, they hit what could only be described as a wall of compressed air and were sent flying through the air in five separate directions. The woman in the kimono dissolved into sheets of paper, which scattered through the wind, covering their bodies in what looked uncomfortably like layers of paper seals. Tayuya swore fluently and tried to reach for the power of her cursed seal to break through this stupid trap, but for some reason, she didn’t feel anything. She tried harder. There was still no response.

            “I’ll have to thank Jiraiya-sensei later,” Konan smiled, as Yahiko’s body went around and knocked out the members of the Sound Five. Satsuki transformed back into Morino Ibiki, who grinned, showing off his scarred face.

            “So these were Orochimaru’s bodyguards? I’m sure I’ll get plenty of information out of them,” He said. “Thank you very much for your help, Konan, Nagato.”

            “It was our pleasure,” Nagato replied sincerely. “Now, I think we will be fine reaching the hospital on our own, Morino-san.”

            Ibiki nodded, and after signaling for two of his subordinates to come out of hiding and pick up the rest of the Sound Five, they disappeared.

 

            “Please, don’t kill us…” Fuki pleaded, staring up at Emi as her little four-year-old sister cowered behind her.

            “You’re not worth my time,” Emi spat. “Just tell me, where’s the Uchiha girl?”

            “You’re after Satsuki,” Fuki gasped. “I hate her too!”

            “That was pretty obvious,” Emi drawled with a bored expression on her face. “It was equally obvious that you didn’t stand a chance.”

            “I can help you!” Fuki said.

            Emi tilted her head to the side. “Hmm… well, I suppose I could use you as a hostage… Right then,” She turned to her teammates. “Ika, Tako, fan out and search for the Uchiha girl. Make sure she sees you have hostages.” She scooped up Fuki and put a kunai to her throat with a wicked grin. Two other Mist-nin grabbed Fuki’s parents and her baby brother.

            Finally, her sister Ami would be avenged… after all these years…

 

            Danzo panted as he dodged another one of Hashirama’s wooden constructs, almost tripping over a rock as Hiruzen spat a huge wave of mud towards him. Keeping Izanagi constantly active was tiring him out, but facing three undead Hokage, he had no choice! He couldn’t even substitute himself with a log, because even the trees in the forest were on Hashirama’s side! Finally, he spotted a stray Zetsu that hadn’t died yet, switched with it, and flickered away as fast as he could, before suppressing his chakra and stumbling through the streets of Konoha as fast as he could.

            “Aww, that’s no fun,” Hashirama pouted. “I totally wanted to kill him!”

            “To be fair, he was my rival.” Hiruzen pointed out.

            “…” Tobirama decapitated the Zetsu, and the gestured towards the thirty thousand or so Zetsu still emerging from the forest. “Maybe we should take care of those first.”

            “Right,” Hashirama said, leaping down. “I call dibs!”

            Tobirama and Hiruzen followed, yelling their respective battle cries.

 

            When Lee first saw the old man staggering down the street towards them, his first instinct was to go over and help him, assuming he was a lost civilian. When the man glared at him and he saw the Sharingan eyes implanted all over both arms, he hastily reconsidered, delivering a powerful kick that sent the stranger flying into the air. The Leaf Shadow Dance brought him behind the man as he unwound the bandages from his arms, opening the First Gate. They plummeted towards the ground, as Lee slammed him into the cement, completing the Front Lotus and breaking his neck.

            While Danzo normally could have escaped, the truth was that he was completely and utterly exhausted after his fight against the Three Hokage, and taijutsu was not his strongest area of expertise, whereas Lee had trained in nothing but taijutsu. Neji and Tenten came over, and carefully separated the body into six pieces before sealing it in one of Tenten’s storage scrolls for someone to take a look at after the invasion was over.

           

            Sasuke sighed as he rounded a corner with Itachi, who had returned after escorting the last of a group of notables to one of the emergency shelters, and spotted Fuki and her family being held hostage. While he had no particular love for Fuki, she was a Konoha ninja, and her family members were innocent civilians. So, he quashed his feelings and went to see what the Mist ninja wanted.

            “So you’ve come, Uchiha Satsuki,” Emi gloated. “I’ll make you pay for killing my sister Ami!”

            “…Technically, I wasn’t the one who killed her.” Sasuke pointed out. That was probably the fault of the Torture and Interrogation Services. He’d only exposed her as a spy.

            “I’m not here to quibble about semantics.” Emi spat. “If you don’t hand over the Kiba blades and yourself as well, my teammates and I will kill them!”

            “I have no guarantee that even if I do as you say, you won’t kill them.” He replied.

            “But if you don’t give yourself up, we most certainly will.” Emi glanced at the other Uchiha, who had his Sharingan activated. She tightened her grip on Fuki. Ika and Tako had returned, and Ika was holding Fuki’s four year old sister while Tako dangled the two-month old baby boy by one ankle. Of course, their Jounin-sensei, Hamachi and a Chuunin named Maguro also had Fuki’s parents captive.

           

            Sasuke looked at Itachi for confirmation. His brother nodded. Trusting that Itachi had a plan, he summoned the Kiba blades and laid them down on the ground, kicking them towards the Mist ninja, where Tako picked them up with a grin. 

            “And now,” Emi leered. “Strip!”

            “What?” Sasuke demanded, shocked.

            “You heard me,” Emi grinned nastily. “I don’t know what kind of surprises you’re hiding underneath those clothes, but even if you’ve got modifications we’ll see them once everything’s out of the way.”

            Sasuke gave Itachi a pleading look. Itachi shook his head. Sasuke’s hands trembled. I am so going to make niisan pay for this, he thought furiously as he slowly removed Gaara’s shirt and his bra, followed by his pants and sandals. He was not taking off his underwear, no matter what.

           

            “Good…” Emi smiled like a shark. “Now, come over here… walk slowly…”

            As they had directed, Sasuke walked slowly towards the group. Once he was within a few feet of Emi, Emi threw Fuki at him, knocking him to the ground. Then, she drew her sword, Nuibari, the ‘Sewing Needle’ with a wide grin. “I’m going to have fun tying you up and crucifying you…” She giggled. And being a selfish ingrate, Fuki did her best to impede Satsuki’s movement by deliberately lying on top of her.

            As Emi advanced on him, Sasuke activated his Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan, which were, as usual, hidden. He pressed his fingertips against the ground and performed a silent substitution, letting a Wood Clone take his place while he hid underground. He heard Fuki scream as Emi stabbed his Clone through Fuki’s body. Well, it served her right. It probably wasn’t a vital spot anyway. Emi would want to prolong the torture.

            “Huh?” Was the only intelligent comment Tako managed to make before another one of Sasuke’s Wood Clones materialized behind him, slashing through the tendons in his arms with a wooden kunai in each hand and causing both arms to go limp. He dropped the Kiba blades and baby Fugu, both of which were caught by Itachi.

            Ika’s heart stopped with precise application of a Raiton jutsu to his back. The same Wood Clone calmly took Fuki’s little sister, Momo, who stopped crying and snuggled close. “Funny,” She said, seeing the topless girl. Sasuke’s clone resisted the urge to roll his eyes and tried manfully to ignore the way Momo was touching his breasts.

            Maguro found himself paralyzed from chidori nagashi after another Wood Clone had simply gripped his ankle and applied current. Fuki’s mother, Ebi, quickly scrambled out of his arms. Meanwhile, the real Sasuke, bare breasts and all, was facing a furious Hamachi, who had quickly realized having a hostage was impeding his ability to fight and dropped Fuki’s father. 

           

            Itachi watched as the Wood Clone Emi had been torturing sprouted a mass of vines from one arm, putting Emi in what could be conservatively described as hogtie bondage, and removing her clothes and weapons, gagging her as well. Just to be on the safe side, it bound and gagged Fuki with its other arm. Not that Itachi knew about or was interested in such things, not at all. It was simply a very efficient means of rendering the enemy immobile.

            He turned his attention to the more interesting fight. Hamachi had grabbed the bluntsword, Kabutowari, the ‘Helmet Splitter’, and the blastsword, Shibuki from his fallen students. He proved adept at juggling both at once, although he wasn’t really using the bluntsword much as Satsuki was mostly breathing fire at him and dodging the exploding tags while he countered with his water techniques.

            “Give up, girl!” Hamachi shouted. “I’m a Jounin, and even if you and your shadow clones got the drop on my students, I’ve got an infinite supply of exploding tags! You can’t possibly hope to outlast me! Our Mizukage will put an end to Konoha, with our allies in Akatsuki!”

            Sasuke had to admit he had a point. There were still Sage knew how many white Zetsu out there, so he had should quit wasting time. Also, he wanted to put his clothes back on. So, he sighed, unleashed a Sexy no Jutsu on the man – he was already staring, the pedophile – and then impaled him with a chidori sharp spear and perhaps a bit more force than was necessary. He cut Hamachi’s throat just to make sure he was dead and collected the other swords. Then he stalked back to Itachi and dressed as fast as he could.

            “Shelters, niisan,” He asked Itachi, gesturing to the civilians after Itachi handed the baby back to his mother and cut the throats of the other Mist-Nin, sealing all their supplies and weapons inside a storage scroll.

            “Too far, the compound is closer,” Itachi replied.

            He had a point. It was only ten blocks to the Uchiha Clan compound and the area around them was pretty much undamaged. With three Wood Clones accompanying them (he put a henge on them so they wouldn’t be walking around naked), they had more than enough protection.

 

            Upon arrival at the Uchiha compound, they were greeted by a few dozen Clan members who had also gathered here to regroup. Sasuke dispelled his clones and left the explaining to Itachi. What he wanted most now was a hot shower, followed by a long, luxurious soak in the tub, something to eat, preferably with tomatoes, and to put on a set of clean clothes, his own, but considering that there were still thousands of White Zetsu out there, he’d probably have to settle for field rations and maybe, if he was lucky, a quick wash in the lake. Although the profuse thanks from Fuki’s parents was kind of gratifying.

            “Satsuki,” Mikoto came running, dressed in a jounin vest and slightly bloodstained Anbu-style armor. “Are you all right?”

            “I’m fine, kaasan,” Sasuke replied, accepting the hug. “We didn’t run into any trouble. It was mostly those white zombies…”

            “Oh, Uchiha-san, your daughter was so brave!” Ebi began to sob. “She saved us from those horrible invaders!”

            “Your father is still out patrolling, but you must be hungry,” Mikoto told her kindly. “Why don’t you go take a quick shower and get some clean clothes? We’ve got some food ready, but don’t take too long.”

 

            Sasuke thanked his mother and flickered into their house. Fortunately, there was running water; and hot water at that. He took a ten-minute shower, dressed in clean underwear, made sure he had two extra changes of clothes in his backpack, extra kunai, shuriken and senbon, soldier pills, and all the other supplies he needed. As he was leaving, he heard the shower start up again. It was probably Itachi or their father returning, but just in case…

            Sasuke activated the chameleon jutsu, turned on his Sharingan, and took a quick peek. Yes, it was Itachi. Definitely Itachi… satisfied that it was not an invader, he flickered away.

            Itachi blithely continued washing his hair.

 

            There were no tomatoes, but stir-fried chicken with vegetables and steamed rice was infinitely better than field rations and Sasuke wasn’t about to complain. Soon, his father returned with news of the rest of the Konoha Fifteen, reported that the Hyuuga Clan compound was still in one piece and holding out against the Zetsu, and so were the Inuzuka, Aburame, Nara, Akimichi and Yamanaka Clans. Those who could perform fire techniques or physical attacks were especially valuable, alongside the medics, who kept everyone else going.

            So, after dinner, Sasuke, who had received some medic-nin training, went around with a few others to help tend to the wounded. They would need their sleep later, but of course, everyone would take turns keeping watch.

           

            “Yo! Satsuki-chan! Did you save some food for us?” Hashirama cheerfully called as he and the other two Hokage body flickered in later that evening.

            “H-Hokage-sama!” Fugaku spluttered as he looked at Hiruzen, before gaping at the others. “S-Shodaime-sama! N-Nidaime-sama!”

            Uchiha Shiori almost fainted. She wasn’t the only one.

            “Of course,” Mikoto smiled, the perfect hostess as always. “Please, sit down.” She poured tea for the three reanimated Hokage and served up plates of chicken and vegetable stir fry and rice, warming them with chakra before handing them over.

            “Thank you, Mikoto-san,” Hiruzen smiled.

            “So you’re Satsuki-chan’s mother?” Hashirama beamed. “She totally has your looks!”

            Tobirama picked up his chopsticks and began to eat silently.

 

            “So,” Mikoto asked, fifteen minutes later, once she was able to get a word in over Hashirama’s exited chatter about how they had totally killed lots of those white zombies. “How did you all meet Satsuki, Hokage-sama?”

            “Oh, Snake-chan summoned us to fight her and her brother and blondie during the test,” Hashirama said blithely.

            “Orochimaru used Edo Tensei to summon us during the second stage of the Chuunin Exams when he targeted Satsuki while she was in the Forest of Death,” Hiruzen explained. “Apparently, Satsuki had a summoning scroll for her brother, Itachi, and he brought Minato and four Anbu along. Satsuki somehow managed to transport us all to a different dimension before we were freed from Orochimaru’s control after Itachi sealed him away.”

            “…I see…” Mikoto said, exchanging a look with Fugaku. Clearly, they would need to have a word with Satsuki about keeping secrets from her parents…

            In his sleep, Sasuke shivered.

Chapter Text

The next two months were mostly a blur of fighting Zetsu incursions day in and day out, snatching quick meals and sleeping when they could get it. Luckily, the Uchiha compound had its own water supply, and it was just past the harvest season, so they had vast stores of food, too. Occasionally, the Yondaime Hokage or some of his Anbu came by with orders, to pick up supplies, or to rotate out teams of Uchiha fire specialists. Mostly, though, they kept to themselves. Tobirama might not particularly like the Uchiha, but he had to admit that they were damned useful in times like these, especially if he hadn’t been undead himself. The three Hokage usually went to other parts of Konoha during the day, but they almost always spent their nights at the Uchiha compound. Hashirama insisted, and Tobirama didn’t feel like arguing with his brother over this. Plus, maybe he owed them, just a bit.

            Hyuuga Hiashi, whose Clan had been given the honor of hosting the Tsuchikage and his entourage, had to admit that the man wasn’t as bad as he had expected. Yes, he was an old geezer, but he could respect him. Someone who could render their opponent to atoms wasn’t a man to take lightly. And Ohnoki, while he found the traditionalist elders rather stifling, did appreciate the back massages the lovely Hyuuga ladies gave him, and having a padded cushion to sit on at every meal. The food wasn’t half bad, either.

            Ay, Killer Bee and team found themselves bedding down with the Inuzuka that very first night. They might not be a noble Clan, but Ay appreciated a strong woman. Tsume had looked him up and down and declared he might be Raikage, but this was her house and she wasn’t going to change her schedule to suit him. Those herb-basted venison ribs had been damned fine, though, and her rabbit stew had made Killer Bee compose an all-new rap. And he wasn’t too old to appreciate a fine figure, either.

            Temari had gotten separated from her siblings in all the confusion. She had finally met up with Team Ten after a few hours of beating up Zetsu with her battle fan when she was running low on chakra. Shikamaru had told her to come with him, figuring that as the main Nara compound was located in the woods, it might still be standing. It was, and so, she was now a guest of the Nara Clan. She had to admit, Shikamaru wasn’t half bad once she got to know him. He was still lazy, but it was clearly a family trait, and he came up with some crazy but brilliant plans to deal with the continued Zetsu presence.

            Gaara had decided that he didn’t really like killing. These Zetsu were sad. They had no purpose but to die. But killing them did not make him happy. They did not validate his existence. He wanted to find his friends and play games with them. But they could not do that until these Zetsu were gone. So he kept killing. But he didn’t like it anymore.

            Fuu liked staying with the Aburame Clan. There were all sorts of insects to study here. She and Choumei didn’t like killing so much, but those Zetsu kept attacking them so they had no choice! And Shino had said that the Akatsuki were trying to kill her and take Choumei away, so that was even worse! He was kind of quiet, but she thought of him like a serious little brother and his family made her welcome. 

           

            The day the invasion ended, it was not known for over a week. Every sensor ninja on the continent available was still searching, waiting to see when the next wave of Zetsu would come. They had received reports from every hidden village, even Kirigakure, about Zetsu incursions there as well, even from the Land of Iron where the samurai kept order. Perhaps the Zetsu were keeping quiet before launching their next attack. It had happened before. Perhaps they had discovered another way to hide themselves from the sensors.

            Everyone was on alert, waiting for the worst to happen. A full week passed, before a hand-picked group of Anbu, two each from Konohagakure, Kumogakure, Sunagakure and Iwagakure found Madara’s corpse and the remnants of the Hashirama Senju clone he had used to grow his army of White Zetsu. Of course, they had no way of knowing that the White Zetsu had come from the Demonic Statue of the Outer Path (and the moon), but finding Zetsu and a few stray White Zetsu clones was enough proof.

            Between the eight of them, they managed to capture Zetsu and seal him thoroughly so he could not escape. After seeing how the White Zetsu could transform into other forms and escape into the ground, they removed his limbs and kept Zetsu under heavy guard and out of contact with any organic material. Fortunately, they made good time back to Konoha, where Hashirama confirmed that the corpse was, indeed, Uchiha Madara. Nagato banished the Demonic Statue of the Outer Path, and Zetsu was taken to enjoy the hospitality of not only Konoha’s Torture and Interrogation services, but those of specialists from all over the continent, eager to pick his brain.

           

            Of course, there were plenty of battlefield promotions to hand out. It came as no surprise to anyone that the Konoha Fifteen had all made Chuunin. Gaara, also, and Temari, and Kankurou, because even Rasa had noticed the change in his younger son, living with Naruto and Minato as they were, saw how Gaara did not like cutting down Zetsu like wheat, how Naruto had to pat him on the back, offer him instant ramen, and lend him a stuffed frog to sleep with at night since Gaara had not brought his teddy bear with him. Samui and Karui and Omoi, and Ohnoki’s Iwagakure team had also been promoted… Sumaru and his team from Hoshigakure had gone into the hospital three days into the attack after their bodies had collapsed from the strain of chakra poisoning, and now there was an investigation into Hoshigakure and just what their star chakra training had been all about. Fuu and her team from Takigakure had also been promoted as well as the trio from Yukigakure.

            Sasuke, of course, had to endure the talk with his parents. Itachi was no help, the traitor, because while he had to reveal his Mangekyo Sharingan, he explained it away by seeing his baby sister in mortal danger in the Forest of Death. Speaking of babies, Mikoto had revealed that she was pregnant with twins. Sasuke was not sure how to feel about this. The idea that his parents were still sexually activate was not one he really wanted to contemplate, nor was the idea of having younger siblings something he wanted to think about either. Still, he gave them his congratulations and then put it in the back of his mind.

           

            Now, the rebuilding of not just Konoha, but every other major village was in progress. Nonetheless, Azusa Park had mostly escaped unscathed, and all work and no play made people miserable. So, the Clans were taking advantage of a sunny day and throwing another picnic. Despite their setbacks, they had still defeated Danzo’s Zetsu army and the Akatsuki.

            “Satsuki-chan,” Momo ran up to Sasuke, followed by Fuki.

            “Momo,” Sasuke knelt down so he was at her level. “What is it?” While he did not particularly like children, he had saved Momo’s life, so she had a bit of hero worship for him.

            “I made you this! Mom helped a little, but it’s a present!” Momo said cheerfully. Sasuke smiled as he picked up the obviously handmade, bright red stuffed… tomato plushie. “Thank you, Momo.” He said.

           

            “Satsuki,” Fuki said, as Momo skipped off to join her friends. “I just wanted to say… thank you for what you’ve done.”

            Sasuke blinked, before Fuki hugged him tightly. His arms being full of stuffed tomato, he didn’t respond immediately. The hug started off innocuously enough, until he felt a sudden stabbing pain between his ribs as Fuki emptied the contents of a hypodermic syringe into his heart. “W-what,” He gasped, before she pulled back, a wicked smirk on her face. She had crushed almost an entire bottle of her mother’s digoxin tablets and mixed them with water to make the solution, and his heart would stop in minutes.

            “Good bye, Satsuki,” She said, walking away.

            “Y-You…” Sasuke tried to rise, feeling his heart start to spasm uncontrollably. His knees buckled and he crashed to the ground as his vision went black.  

 

            “Satsuki!” Itachi screamed, flickering to his sister’s side. Around the picnic tables and nearby, several of Satsuki’s other friends had noticed the exchange and aftermath. Even if they hadn’t, Itachi’s scream had caught their attention. Fuki didn’t even try to get away. She sneered as Itachi frantically tried to perform CPR. It was no use. There was no antidote…

           

            Sasuke looked around, seeing the Sage of the Six Paths waiting for him. “…I died, didn’t I?” He snarled, utterly disgusted with himself for letting his guard down.

            “I’m afraid so,” Hagoromo had a serene smile on his face. Sasuke quashed the urge to punch him. He wasn’t ready to die! He was only twelve! Yes, he had saved the Uchiha Clan, and Danzo and Akatsuki were gone, but damn it, he hadn’t even gotten his first kiss! And so much for eventually becoming Hokage, he thought bitterly.

            “So I failed, huh,” He said bitterly.

            “Oh, I wouldn’t say so,” Hagoromo said. “You completed the first half of your mission with flying colors. As for the second half… let’s just say you still have time. Good luck, Satsuki-chan. We’ll be watching you closely.”

           

             Sasuke’s eyes flickered open, and it took him a few minutes to register that he was being kissed. Well, it wasn’t technically a kiss, more like artificial resuscitation. Chouji was still pounding on his chest pretty enthusiastically. Also, Itachi was staring at him. And one of Itachi’s eyes was milky white. Izanagi, he realized with a jolt. Itachi had used the forbidden technique to reject reality and bring him back to life…

            “Niisan…” Sasuke coughed. “Niisan…”

            “Satsuki,” Itachi whispered, before turning to Chouji. “Chouji, you can stop now. She’s breathing.”

           

Itachi helped him sit up, and Sasuke learned that Hashirama had siphoned the poison out of him, as digoxin was plant-based and, being dead, it couldn’t hurt him. The relief and joy Itachi felt was apparently enough to trigger one eye’s evolution from the Mangekyo Sharingan into the Rinnegan, which effectively cured his blindness. That and Satsuki’s revival gave the party a much more joyful atmosphere.

That being said, Fuki’s fate was sealed and no one had any sympathy for her. Her parents were suitably horrified (Satsuki had saved their lives, after all), and there had been ample witnesses to the attempted murder. If not for the help of Hashirama… well, things would have gone downhill very fast. Nonetheless, once Tsunade declared Satsuki was out of danger, everyone felt free to enjoy the nice day, the bountiful food, and each other’s company.

Chapter Text

            Six year old Uchiha Sarada sighed as she watched a shooting star go by. Aida-Sensei had read them a story in class once about a wish made on a star coming true. “I wish…” She said quietly, “I wish that I had a real family, with Papa at home, and grandparents and aunts and uncles and lots of cousins and maybe brothers and sisters…” She sniffled, before closing her eyes and hugging her stuffed bunny closer.

            The canon Uchiha Sasuke, who was currently out in the wilderness on a long-term mission, and his wife, Uchiha Sakura, who was down the hall, sleeping in her bedroom, had no idea their daughter had made this wish. They also had no idea how much their lives were about to change because of it.

 

            Meanwhile, in another dimension…

            Uchiha Sasuke, known to most as Uchiha Satsuki, was hosting a sleepover at the Uchiha compound for the Konoha fifteen and guests, including Gaara and some others who had recently been promoted to Chuunin in the aftermath of Zetsu plague. Currently, Naruto was by the karaoke machine and belting out a song about ramen at the top of his lungs while Sakura begged him to stop and Killer Bee provided backup. Chouji and Karui were chatting amiably by the buffet table, between bites of finger sandwiches and petit fours, respectively. Gaara was showing Tenten how to make a sand sculpture out of sand, food coloring and a glass bottle. Neji and Hinata were sharing a bowl of ice cream. Kiba, Lee, Sai, and Katsuo were battling it out Super Smash Brothers style, huddled around the television.  

            He made himself some hot chocolate and went to join Itachi, who was reading a book despite the chaos going on all around him. Nearby, at the table, Masaru, Shino, Shikamaru and Temari were playing an intense game of Scrabble. Kankurou was putting on a puppet show for Ino, Samui, Atsui and Omoi, who seemed to be enjoying it. Eventually, the night wound down and they all rolled out their sleeping bags, turning in with yawns. Sasuke made sure his sleeping bag was next to Itachi’s, just in case. Itachi just gave his sister an indulgent smile.

 

Fanon dimension

            When Uchiha Sarada woke up the next morning, she noticed that she wasn’t in her bed. She was lying next to a man with spiky black hair in a sleeping bag. This had to be her papa! And nearby was her mama, in another sleeping bag. In fact, the room was full of people in sleeping bags. She clapped her hands happily. This was wonderful!

            When Uchiha Sasuke woke up the next morning, the fact that he was in a sleeping bag didn’t bother him that much. He had gone to sleep in one, after all. Then, he realized he was not alone. That caught his attention quickly. The chakra signatures all around him were mostly familiar, but… weaker than he had expected. And some of them just shouldn’t exist. His eyes snapped open, Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan whirling to life. “Kai!” He snarled. Nothing happened. This was… the old Uchiha compound. But it looked as though it were in perfect repair. And furthermore, he was surrounded mostly by twelve-year old and thirteen-year old versions of what were supposed to be adults, except for Sakura. And… were they having a sleepover?

            “Papa!” A happy voice shouted, before a little girl black-haired girl with glasses, also in pajamas, latched onto him.

            “Sarada,” He asked, glancing down at her. Of course, it had to be Sarada. She beamed up at him. “Papa, my wish came true!”

            “Wish…?” Sasuke asked dumbly. He tried suppressing his chakra, but that didn’t seem to break the illusion either. He went over to Sakura’s side and shook her to wake her up. He would need her help to figure out what the hell was going on here.

            “Sasuke, you’re back!” Uchiha Sakura started to say when she saw him, but he silenced her with a finger on her lips. Her eyes widened as she took in the scene around them. “Oh,” She said very, very quietly.

           

            Just then, a door opened, and Uchiha Mikoto stepped in, a tray in her hands. “Good morning, Satsuki-chan,” She began to say, before taking a defensive stance, eyes morphing into the Sharingan. “Who are you and what are you doing here?”

            Sasuke’s eyes widened. This couldn’t be… “Mother,” He croaked out.

            Around him, the children began to wake, quickly realizing that something was going on. Even in their pajamas, Sasuke could feel their chakra rising. While he could probably take them all on, he was strangely reluctant to hurt them, or his mother. “…Let’s talk.” He finally said.

            “Good morning!” A cheerful voice broke into the conversation, as a reanimated Hashirama Senju stuck his head in. “Is breakfast ready yet, Mikoto-san – oh, who’re you?”

            Yes, Sasuke thought, the decision to talk had definitely been the right one.

 

Canon dimension

            The cold woke Sasuke very quickly. He had gone to bed only a few hours earlier in the Uchiha compound, and now he was lying in a sleeping bag somewhere out here in the wilderness. He scowled. How had that happened? If this were some prank of Naruto’s… he checked the stars, frowning when they were somewhat unfamiliar. Well, in any case, he was in his pajamas, he was freezing, and he wanted to get home. There was, however, a pack nearby, so Sasuke took it, figuring that it was his now. Sasuke sighed, summoned an animal, had it reverse summon him to the animal realm, and then reverse summoned himself back to the Uchiha compound.

            Only… it was dark, and dusty. The entire place was abandoned, giving off an air of neglect. Weeds sprouted between the paths, the buildings were in disrepair. A quick, muttered ‘Kai’ confirmed that no, this was not a genjutsu. A glance at the Hokage monument showed seven faces. Gods in heaven, where was he?

            Sasuke tried not to panic. At least, he thought, he could sense Itachi’s chakra. He flickered to it, wondering why Itachi was sleeping in a little girl’s bedroom, but decided explanations could wait for later.

            “Niisan,” He said, shaking Itachi awake, feeling panic start to sink in. “Niisan, wake up!”

           

            Itachi was awake instantly, reaching for a kunai when he realized to his horror that he didn’t have one. He was certain he had left his weapons pouch under his pillow, so why…

            “Niisan,” Sasuke repeated. “I don’t know where – when – we are; I guess would be the proper term, because there are seven heads on the Hokage monument. And this isn’t a genjutsu. And I think Sakura-chan came with us and she’s in this house.”

            They woke up a bleary-eyed Sakura, fortified themselves with food and instant coffee, found reasonably decent old clothes shoved in the back of the closet in the master bedroom to outfit themselves with, got fully armed, and then headed off to the best place to get answers – the Hokage’s office.

             Uzumaki Naruto wondered why the hell all these things happened to him in the middle of the night. He’d felt Sasuke’s chakra return to the village and figured he’d let him spend some time catching up with Sakura and Sarada before demanding a report. What he got instead was a twelve-year old female Sasuke, a somehow-alive seventeen-year old Itachi, a twelve-year old Sakura, and no sign of the real Uchiha Sasuke, Sakura, and Sarada. He wasn’t getting paid enough to deal with this!

            So he had gotten Yamanaka Inoichi and Morino Ibiki to take a look and they had confirmed that yes, they were who they said they were, and no, they weren’t spies or infiltrators of any kind, and no, as far as they could tell neither Satsuki-chan nor Itachi-kun had been doing anything out of the ordinary with their Rinnegan. They’d literally been resting and relaxing for a few weeks after the Zetsu plague and having a sleepover, exactly as they’d said. Somehow, Naruto couldn’t imagine any version of Sasuke as a cheerful girl and having a sleepover, especially not with the rest of the Konoha Genin and Gaara.

            With nothing better to do at the moment, and no idea of how he was going to fix this mess, Naruto sent them home to get some sleep, sent himself home to get some sleep, sent Shikamaru off to do some research, and hoped that wherever they were, his people were doing all right.

 

            “You can have Sarada’s room, Sakura-chan.” Itachi told her. “Satsuki and I will take the master bedroom.”

            “Thank you, Itachi-kun.” Sakura replied, yawning.

            Sasuke gave Itachi a startled look. Wait a minute… the master bedroom only had one bed. Did that mean that he and Itachi were…?

            “You may have the bed, imouto. I’ll sleep on the floor.” Itachi said.

            “Niisan, the bed is big enough for two.” Sasuke pointed out in a very reasonable tone of voice. “And I would feel safer if you slept next to me.”

            Itachi considered it. While they were technically in Konoha, it was not their Konoha. Who knew if Danzo and the village elders were around? And, what were the status of the relationships between the Uchiha and the other Clans? Satsuki had brought up a valid point. “Very well,” He stated. “But you will change in the restroom.”

            Sasuke nodded, and went to retrieve his pajamas.

            Itachi changed swiftly, and was in bed by the time his sister returned in her pajamas.

            “Good night, niisan.” Sasuke whispered, before cuddling up against Itachi.

            “Good night, imouto.” He replied, closing his eyes.

 

Fanon dimension

 

            There was a long, somewhat strained silence once Sasuke finished relating his personal history to his mother and father, as well as the four Hokage and the rest of the Konoha fifteen and guests. One of the Uchiha aunts, he couldn’t remember which one, had taken Sarada off to play with her daughters and given them their privacy. Sakura squeezed his hand underneath the table. Finally, Mikoto spoke.

            “I’m so sorry we weren’t there for you, Sasuke.” She said, before walking across the table and pulling him into a hug. Fugaku followed, and Sasuke felt his eyes fill with tears. Even if they weren’t technically his parents, he felt a sense of closure from their acceptance. Sasuke was surprised when he got hugs from everyone else listening as well, except for the Hokage, but he wasn’t expecting that.

            Minato coughed delicately. “So you say Sarada-chan made a wish on a star… I’ve never heard of that working before, but who knows what the gods are thinking? In any case, I’ll get Shikaku and the rest working on a way to solve this right away.”

            “And in the meantime,” Mikoto beamed. “You and your family are of course welcome to stay.” She smiled at Sakura, who smiled back. “I’ve always wanted grandchildren…”

            Even Fugaku had to chuckle at that.

           

Canon dimension

 

            Uchiha Sasuke was grounded. Well, not necessarily grounded in the traditional sense. He and Itachi couldn’t technically go on missions because he was a Chuunin without a team and Itachi was supposed to be dead (and a traitor to the village). That being said, Uchiha Midori was a very pretty, distant cousin of the Uchiha Clan and had a Rinnegan in one eye and no one wanted to mess with her. The only saving grace this dimension had so far was improved technology and a lot of new video games. And he could pick up some more medic-nin training at the hospital because with adult Uchiha Sakura (so his male version had married Sakura after all) gone they could use an extra pair of hands to do the lower-level work. After that near-death poisoning fiasco with Fuki, he needed more training.

            He and Itachi still spent a lot of time every day practicing in the Garden of Paradise, although Sasuke felt a bit leery using it after Tobirama’s explanation. Nonetheless, a secret kept was a secret that could save your life one day, and he was trying to develop the use of a metal release. Earth and fire made lava release, and earth and lightning made magnet release… suppose you combined those two or just mixed the three elements directly?

           

Fanon dimension

 

            Six months had passed in the blink of an eye. Sasuke had thought he would tire of the inactivity, but to his surprise, he had enjoyed the semi-vacation. Spending time with Sakura and Sarada had been enjoyable, living with his family and his Clan more so. Even interacting with the teenage versions of his adult comrades had been refreshing. They would all be fine shinobi one day – no, he corrected himself, they were fine ninja already. Finally, Shikaku’s team had worked out a series of calculations based both on the Rinnegan and Kyuubi’s chakra. They were ready to leave. The last tearful good-byes had been said, and there was no sense in dilly-dallying.

            The jutsu activated, and they were gone. Satsuki, Itachi, and Sakura stepped forward.

 

Canon dimension

 

            “Sasuke!” Naruto shouted. “You’re back!”

            “I guess I am,” Sasuke said, holding Sakura and Sarada close.

            There was a quiet cough behind them, and Minato Namikaze stepped forward. “Sorry for tagging along,” He said, grinning unabashedly at them. “I’ll find my way own home, later. So, Naruto, is it?”

            “Dad,” Naruto gaped. “Dad!”

            “Hey, kiddo,” Minato said, opening his arms for a hug. “Surprised?”

            Naruto flung himself into Minato’s arms without another word.

 

Fanon dimension

 

            “Tch,” Tobirama said. “I guess we all know who’s going to be doing the paperwork while he’s gone…”

            “Not me,” Hashirama said gleefully.

            “Itachi,” Fugaku said slowly, “Why are you dressed as a woman?”

            “Hokage’s orders,” Itachi replied, heading for his room to change.

            “I’m so glad you’re back, Satsuki,” Mikoto gave her a hug, and studied her critically. Satsuki had certainly filled out a bit more.

            Sasuke nodded, hugging back.

            “I’m going home to see my parents,” Sakura said.

            “Of course,” Mikoto smiled. “I’m sure they’ll be so happy to see you safe and sound.”

            “And the operation was a success,” Shikaku wiped his forehead. “That’s that, then.”

            “Thank you for your help, Shikaku-san. Would you like some tea?”

            Shikaku nodded, as Mikoto bustled to the kitchen. Sasuke returned to his room, grinning. Home sweet home…

Chapter Text

Itachi woke up to find weight on his chest and a hard length poking his thigh. At first, he just smiled. Biology happened even to Uchiha prodigies, and no doubt Satsuki had sneaked into his bedroom again. After six months of sleeping together in that other dimension, it was a difficult habit to break. Only… the weight on his chest felt a little too close to be Satsuki’s breasts, and that member… was not attached to him.

            Itachi’s eyes widened, and only through sheer force of will did he not scream in horror. Those… lumps on his chest were undeniably his. And Satsuki, his darling little sister, was no doubt, definitely in her – no, his true form as Sasuke.

            Sasuke woke, Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan no doubt active as he glanced at his brother. “Niisan,” He asked. “What’s wrong?” Then, he looked down at himself, frowning. “…Oh,” He whispered quietly.

            “We shifted dimensions again,” Itachi whispered.

            “We’ll deal with it in the morning,” Sasuke whispered back.

            Itachi nodded, and Sasuke hesitated. “Should I go back to my room?”

            “No,” Itachi decided. “Whatever happens, we’ll face it together.” Sasuke smiled, and Itachi shifted to a more comfortable position, so he could rest more comfortably. Yes, sleep, conserve their resources, and in the morning… time would tell.

 

Fanon Dimension

 

            Itako had performed kai. She had activated her Sharingan. She had pricked her finger with a kunai. Nothing had worked. She still had a penis. And Sasuke, her baby brother, was now her baby sister. What was going on here? She had a mission to perform in less than twenty-four hours, and this had happened? Worse yet, when she had left her room to use the bathroom, she had run into a reanimated Hashirama Senju. What was going on?  She had flickered to the Hokage’s office to let him know of the situation, and had instead encountered a scowling Tobirama Senju doing his paperwork. Had the whole world gone mad, or had she finally snapped under the stress of having to kill her whole clan? Maybe that was it…

            Okay, fine. Danzo had not contacted her yet. There were no Anbu observing the compound. Maybe Hokage-sama was lying low. So, Itako decided to go have breakfast. If this were the last meal she would ever get to have with her family, she should savor it. Only, Mikoto noticed. “Itachi, weren’t you and Sasuke going to meet with your team at six at training field nineteen?”

            Itako’s eyes widened. She had a team? She was on a team with Sasuke?

            When Sasuke finally emerged, Mikoto frowned even more. “Satsuki, you’re late as well! I don’t know what’s gotten into you two this morning! And you’re not even dressed properly! Did you forget your Chuunin vest?”

            Itako’s mind whirled furiously. Sasuke was a Chuunin? She was their Jounin-sensei? What the hell was wrong with this picture?

 

            Mikoto suddenly grasped her under the chin, taking a look at her eyes. Against her will, Itako activated her Mangekyo Sharingan. Mikoto stepped back, her own Mangekyo Sharingan activating.

            “I see,” She said, before she pulled out a kunai and blew a piercing whistle. “You don’t have it, after all. You have two seconds to explain who you are, and what you’re doing in my son’s body. Your accomplice, as well,” She nodded to Sasuke.

            Before Itako could answer, the floorboards warped as a tree burst from the beneath the floor, its branches wrapping around her limbs and Sasuke’s as well.

            Hashirama Senju cheerfully walked into the dining room, followed by Hiruzen Sarutobi.

 

Canon Dimension

 

            “Uchiha Itachi, hmm,” Hiruzen Sarutobi stroked his chin. While he wasn’t certain how much he could trust the ninja who had taken over Uchiha Itako’s body, and the same went for Uchiha Satsuki, who had taken over Uchiha Sasuke’s body, he had little choice in the matter. The massacre had to happen tonight. If they could not perform the duty, the Anbu would have to take care of it. While Uchiha Itachi and Uchiha Satsuki both looked startled and suitably horrified, there was also a certain sort of resignation in their eyes. That was interesting. Considering their ages… had they already lived through it before, in their world?

            “…I’ll do it.” Uchiha Satsuki said.

            “Imouto!” Uchiha Itachi turned to her, a horrified expression on his face. “You can’t-.”

            “My hands are bloody already, niisan!” She shot back at him. “Besides, I can’t make you do it! You’ve suffered enough!”

            “And if you think for one second that as your older brother, I’d let my imouto do this alone,” Itachi crossed his arms underneath his breasts, “You’re wrong.”

            Sarutobi watched their eyes meet, as an unspoken agreement passed between them.

 

            “We’ll do it,” Itachi spoke, his strange eyes meeting the Hokage’s. One was still recognizably a Sharingan, despite the tomoe twisted and warped into spikes, black against red. The other was something else entirely, circles against lavender. “But there are conditions.”

            Hiruzen would have laughed, but the tone in the teen’s voice was dead serious. Sarutobi was known as the God of Ninja. Sarutobi could judge a ninja’s strength with a glance, almost with a thought. These two were not normal ninja. They were not Jounin-level, perhaps not even Kage-level. These were gods.

            “State them,” He replied.

            “We will not murder the innocent,” Itachi stated bluntly. “No children and no civilians.”

            Hiruzen almost felt relief at that. “Agreed,” He said.

            “And secondly,” Itachi’s gaze sharpened. “We will deal with Shimura Danzo.”

            Here, Hiruzen felt conflicted. He had suspected Danzo of having his own agenda when dealing with the Uchiha, but even so, Danzo was his former teammate…

            “He is working with Orochimaru,” Uchiha Satsuki said, quietly. “And others.”

            Hiruzen Sarutobi was Hokage. So, he put his Village first.

            The rest of the details, such as the two of them doing the cleansing under henge and equipment and supplies requisitions, were not his business. As long as they performed their mission, he would simply read the report later.

           

            Night had fallen. One of Sasuke’s Wood Clones had suggested a three-day camping trip and most of the civilians and Uchiha children were safely out of the way. It would also provide Uchiha Sasuke with an alibi. Now, Raven-masked Uchiha Itachi and Hawk-masked Uchiha Satsuki, transformed back to their real genders, moved through the Uchiha district with the silent grace of professional assassins. By the time the alarm sounded, it was too late.

            There were three military policemen converging on him. Itachi took them out with quick, efficient slashes of his katana, striking their vital spots. He felt the heat of a dragon flame technique shoot harmlessly past him as he wove between two other men. A horrifying illusion stopped one in his tracks long enough for Itachi to sink his blade between his shoulders. He exhaled a stream of water from his mouth, causing another fireball to fizzle out harmlessly. When the slaughter ended, he would mourn. For the moment, there was only the mission.

            A blinding flash lit the air for a moment, and Itachi saw Satsuki stumble. A flash-bang, he thought. He hoped his little sister had not been too distracted. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the man yell exultantly and bring his naginata down. It bounced harmlessly off the layer of ice forming over Satsuki’s body, even as she rose, Kiba blades in hand.

            Satisfied, Itachi turned his attention back to his enemies. He drove his elbow backwards into the gut of an unarmed man who had ventured too close. The fire breather was forming signs again, as another grand fireball bloomed. Itachi recognized his uncle Kazan – he had never liked the man much. A subtle manipulation of wind chakra tinged with water forced Kazan’s flames backwards, into his lungs, and he let out a horrifying scream as he burned from the inside out.

            Kisuke screamed as he saw his brother fall. He charged the Raven-masked Anbu, but the younger Hawk-masked female blocked his path. With a snarl, he spat a cloud of ash at her. Now he just had to ignite the burning ash pile, and… that was the last thought Kisuke had as he lit the fuse and blew himself up to bits, not realizing that he was already caught in Sasuke’s genjutsu.

            There were no last words, this time. Sasuke did not want to hear them. They were good, but they did not have the Mangekyo. The all-consuming black flames of Amaterasu took their bodies, and he did not look back. Just like Zetsu, he thought, before returning to the battle outside. Just like Zetsu…

            Itachi knew what Satsuki had done, had felt the two familiar chakra signatures wink out. He said nothing, as Satsuki returned and they cut down the last remaining stragglers.

           

            “It is finished,” They reported to the Sandaime Hokage. Hiruzen nodded. His Anbu had confirmed the story and were now doing cleanup. Now, the two of them were going to deal with Danzo. He would not interfere. He owed them that much. 

            “What are you doing here?” Danzo frowned irritably as Uchiha Itako entered his office. “I already know your mission is complete.”

            “No,” She replied. “There is one more target.”

            And then she moved.

 

            Years of battle-honed reflexes saved Danzo from instant impalement, and he activated the binding seal he had placed on Uchiha Itako. Had she gone mad after killing her clan? Well, it was regrettable, but clearly he would just have to finish off the Uchiha himself. He hastily freed his right arm, just in case. A sudden burst of pain from behind him caught his attention and he looked down at the ground to find most of his arm lying severed on the ground, and another Uchiha he did not recognize standing behind him, holding two blades crackling with lightning chakra. Also, Itako had suddenly turned into a man. Curious, but he had no time to dwell upon such things. Cursing, he cauterized the stump of his right arm with a katon jutsu and went on the offensive again.

            Itachi broke out of the binding seal without too much trouble, although it was a wasteful expenditure of chakra. Danzo spun around and exhaled a Vacuum Wave that blew out the wall of his office but at least gave him some breathing room, summoned his Baku, and sounded the alarm for his nearest Root agents. No matter how good Itako and the stranger were, they couldn’t possibly take on all of them.

            We do not have time for this, Sasuke thought. While one part of him wanted to make Danzo suffer, the more practical part of him just wanted to get it over with. Itachi’s thoughts were evidently on the same wavelength, as Susanoo flared into being around his older brother. Sasuke decided to go after the Baku. As it began to inhale, he spat a grand fireball down its throat. Déjà vu, he thought dryly. Itachi’s Susanoo grabbed Danzo and snapped his neck, before tearing off the head and bringing it to him. Ah, Shisui’s eye, Sasuke recalled. That would be good to keep out of Danzo’s grubby hands.

            Seeing their leader dead, the Root Anbu redoubled their efforts. Sasuke decided that discretion was the better part of valor, grabbed Danzo’s body, and flickered to the Hokage’s office. A minute later, Itachi joined him. Not seconds later, they were surrounded by Root Anbu, weapons drawn.

 

            “Stand down,” Hiruzen ordered the Root Anbu. Four of his personal Anbu were restraining Itachi and Sasuke, kunai against their throats.  

            “Hokage-sama,” One protested, as Itachi was still holding Danzo’s head and Sasuke Danzo’s body. “They killed Danzo-sama!”

            “As you can see, I have the situation well under control.” Hiruzen Sarutobi’s tone brooked no argument. “You are all dismissed.”

            Still muttering, the Root ninja dispersed, one by one.

            Hiruzen sighed. It would take forever to get the blood out of the carpet. He might as well just order a new one. “What will you do now?”

            “You still need a spy within the Akatsuki,” Itachi pointed out.

            “I’m going with niisan,” Sasuke added.

            “Then go with my blessing,” Sarutobi said, feeling very old as his personal Anbu released them. The bowed, leaving Danzo’s body there for the medical team to dispose of. Only later would it be noticed that Danzo’s eye behind the bandages was missing.

 

            “Niisan,” Satsuki stated quietly, hours later, as they were making their way to Ame, slashes carved through the symbol of the leaf in the middle of their forehead protectors.

            “What is it, Satsuki?” Itachi asked. There were no more tears left to cry. They had traded speed for secrecy, although they had let a few Shadow clones and Wood clones leave false trails in various directions.

            “I’m frightened,” She admitted. “But as long as we’re together, niisan, everything will be all right.”

            Itachi felt a slight smile pass over his lips as he turned to face her. “Satsuki… I believe that too.” No more words were spoken for the next forty-eight hours, until they had crossed the borders of the Land of Fire into the Land of the Rice Fields.

           

            Back in Konoha, the official report was that two imposters or bastard children or even Danzo’s failed experiments, claiming to be Uchiha Itachi and Uchiha Satsuki, had slaughtered the majority of the Uchiha clan. An investigation was ongoing. Hiruzen was simply glad that the cover-up had gone on so well. Uchiha Itako was in the clear, as she was on a top-secret Anbu mission of indefinite length, and Uchiha Sasuke was still present and had been on a camping trip with the other Uchiha children and civilians. His Anbu could keep the secret. Yes, things were progressing nicely…

Chapter Text

Sasuke was glad Itachi had insisted on payment for this S-rank mission in advance. It could be considered – no, it was blood money, but as missing-nin, they had little choice. Now, disguised with mouse-brown hair and eyes and dressed in a plain yellow sundress patterned with daises and white sandals, with an equally nondescript Itachi next to him, no one paid them any attention as they walked down the street towards the moderately prosperous inn in this town.

            The innkeeper took Itachi’s money for two meals and a night’s stay and mentioned that as the inn was fairly vacant, he and his wife could share a bath in one of pools for a minimal fee. Itachi obligingly paid without hesitation. Sasuke felt Itachi’s eyes linger a fraction of a moment too long on him as they proceeded upstairs. A bath sounded amazing, and in truth, Sasuke could care less if they bathed together. They would be showering separately first, in any case. And furthermore, they were both under henge. He doubted Itachi was going to steal any peeks at him – in any case, Itachi had certainly seen him topless before, Sharingan and all, so he had nothing left to hide.

            Itachi felt much the same. He doubted Satsuki had any inclination to stare at his body, and he was not particularly self-conscious about nudity. They made their way down to the hot springs, showered, and were soon luxuriating in the blood-warm water. Sasuke had just gotten comfortable on a stone bench and was contemplating what he might like for dinner when the door opened and another guest entered. He was blue. He was scaly. He had a towel around his hips that was barely keeping him decently covered. And he was staring right like him.

            “Uchiha Itako, right?” He said, making his way to the edge of the pool, sinking in with a happy sigh and completely ignoring Itachi’s presence. “Leader-sama sent me. And, may I say that’s a particularly nice pair of tits you’ve got?”

            Sasuke was suddenly, acutely aware that he was only wearing a towel around his waist, since he had assumed he and Itachi were the only two people using this pool. Who was this jerk? Faster than he could respond, Itachi was in front of him, henge (and towel) gone and Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan blazing as he stared down the stranger. “Actually, it’s Uchiha Itachi.” He clarified. “And you are?”

            “Hoshigaki Kisame,” Kisame introduced himself, bemused. “Funny, I was sure you were a chick. But in any case, welcome to Akatsuki.”

            Sasuke crossed his arms over his chest, his own Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan greedily drinking in the sight of the naked Itachi before him.

            “That is my younger sister, Uchiha Satsuki.” Itachi said, still not moving.

            “Ah,” Kisame said. “Leader-sama didn’t mention that you were bringing company, but he might be willing to make an exception for her.” He tried to take another peek, but Sasuke was having none of it. The water around him clouded up. Kisame laughed as Itachi finally moved.

            “Water manipulation, eh? Fine, fine, I get it. She’s off limits.” Kisame said. “I like my women older, anyways.” With that, he closed his eyes and sank deeper into the pool. Itachi and Sasuke both relaxed, and went back to their bath.

           

            Dinner was beef sukiyaki and vegetable tempura, the first decent meal they had eaten in several days. When it ended, Kisame informed them that they would be leaving in the morning and then left for his room down the hall. Alone, Itachi embraced Satsuki, and without forethought, their lips met. Their kiss started off chaste, but it did not remain so. They felt the heat of each other’s bodies through the thin yukata the inn had provided, her breasts pressed against his chest. Mangekyo Sharingan met Rinnegan, lust reflected in identical pairs of lazily spinning eyes despite the genjutsu covering them both.

            So, Itachi thought, it has finally come to this. Here, there were no more illusions, no Garden of Paradise, just a man and a woman, his hand cupping a breast, her hand cradling the back of his head, pulling him into another kiss, his callused fingers brushing a taut nipple, hers grasping the base of his sex, his finding the soft petals of hers and spreading them in preparation for penetration, slick with her fluids, hers pressed against the base of his sac, insistent and demanding, no Konoha and no Akatsuki, no brother and sister, no Itachi and Satsuki, only two joined as one.

            Somehow, the two of them made it to the bed, before rational thought fled their minds completely. Then, there were no words spoken, no words that needed to be said. In the aftermath, they lay intertwined, sated and content, secure in the knowledge that as both their forms were borrowed, there was no chance of pregnancy.

            In the early morning, they woke again, and made love, more leisurely this time. Then, they bathed quickly and dressed. They were ready and waiting on the road when Kisame showed up. Itachi in particular felt surprisingly refreshed, as though his chakra levels had replenished themselves overnight. It was interesting to note, but he did not have time to investigate at the moment. They had a meeting to attend.

 

            Finding Orochimaru waiting at Akatsuki’s current base was an unwelcome surprise, but both Itachi and Sasuke hid their reactions well. Sasuke reasoned that he had killed Orochimaru once and could do so again, while Itachi was simply grateful Satsuki had woven the genjutsu to hide his Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan. They both kept their Sharingan active as Kisame introduced them.

            Later, while Kisame was taking Itachi to get fitted for his new robes and giving him a tour of the base, Sasuke was lying on their shared bed and painting his nails, which seemed like a typical girlish thing to do, when Orochimaru sprouted out of the floor. “Hello, Satsuki…” His words practically oozed sexuality, and not in the attractive please take me to bed and ravish me manner. Sasuke idly wondered why the ninja world seemed to cater to pedophiles. Anyway, coming after him now was a typical Orochimaru thing to do. Once big brother was out of the way, he would go after the cute, harmless little fledgling hawk all alone in the nest…

            Sasuke put down the bottle of Akatsuki brand nail polish and blew on his nails, noticing that Orochimaru still had both arms. It looked like he had not been taught a lesson yet. “What do you want?”

            “An Uchiha with the Sharingan appears before me…” Orochimaru began, as Sasuke got up. “I will have your body!”

            “Sorry, that belongs to niisan.” Sasuke told him bluntly, dodging the snakes that shot out of Orochimaru’s sleeves and smashed into the cavern wall, sending debris all over the bed. “We haven’t even tested it out yet. Those were brand new sheets.” His eyes flashed Sharingan red, before he activated Tsukuyomi. Well, since Orochimaru had already ruined it…

            “Is this… a paralysis genjutsu?” Orochimaru struggled, bringing up his hands to cancel it. Sasuke wasn’t as merciful as Itachi. Itachi had only taken one hand off. Sasuke took both arms, just to make sure. Then he took Orochimaru’s Akatsuki ring.

            The sound of Orochimaru’s scream brought the rest of the Akatsuki running. Hidan and Kakuzu arrived first, as their rooms were the closest. Hidan openly laughed when he saw the armless Orochimaru glaring impotently at Satsuki, who was holding the Kiba blades, dripping with blood. Kakuzu frowned. “I suppose I’ll have to sew you up again,” He muttered. “You’ll have to pay me for it.”

            “I got his ring,” Sasuke said with an innocent smile. “Can I be part of Akatsuki now?”

            Sasori clattered into the room next. “What’s all the fuss?” He complained. “Some of us actually have work to do.” He glared at Orochimaru, clearly the source of the commotion, and then his arms on the floor. “If you had let me replace your limbs with mechanical ones, you wouldn’t be in this mess now.” With those words of sage advice, he departed.

            Pein was next. “What happened here?” He asked authoritatively.

 

            “He said he wanted my body!” Sasuke gave the Leader an indignant look. “And then he used his snakes to attack me, so I paralyzed him and cut off his arms.”

            “I…see.” Nagato said, speaking through Yahiko’s body. “Orochimaru, what do you have to say for yourself?”

            “It was just a joke, Pein-sama,” Orochimaru hissed humbly, at the same time using his healing techniques to steam the blood flow from his severed arms.

            Pein regarded Orochimaru sternly. “As Itachi’s younger sister, Uchiha Satsuki is also under my protection, Orochimaru.” He stated coldly. “Any further attempts against her or her brother shall be met with immediate retribution. In addition, as she has defeated you, even if it was through deception, she is now acknowledged as a full-fledged member of Akatsuki and you shall treat her with the same respect accorded to any other member of this organization. Is that clear?”

            “Yes, Pein-sama,” Orochimaru acknowledged while inwardly raging at the injustice of it all, starting to feel a little light-headed.

            “Kakuzu, fix him up before he bleeds to death.” Pein said, before walking off. “Satsuki, give him back his ring. I’ll get you a new one.”

            Sasuke tossed the ring at Orochimaru’s feet and followed Pein.

 

            “Konan,” Pein knocked on his partner’s door. “I have a visitor.”

            Konan glanced up from her origami. “Who is this?”

            “This is Uchiha Satsuki, Uchiha Itachi’s younger sister.” Pein introduced her. “She defeated Orochimaru, so she is to be given admittance into Akatsuki as well.”

            “Good. I never liked that snake.” Konan said. “Let me have a look at you, dear.” She tipped Satsuki’s chin up. Satsuki couldn’t be much older than thirteen or fourteen, Konan thought, with spiky hair reaching just past her shoulders and Sharingan-red eyes. But she was clearly a kunoichi of considerable skill. Konan smiled, and gave her a brief hug, before taking her to be fitted for an Akatsuki robe of her own. Afterwards, on their tour, they passed Itachi and Kisame, who were winding up.

            “Satsuki, did something happen? I felt your chakra spike.” Itachi asked.

            “A perverted snake wanted some action. He bit off more than he could chew – two arm’s worth.” Sasuke replied. Kisame burst out laughing and Konan was slightly taken aback by the girl’s rough manner. Itachi, however, seemed to take it in stride.

            “Good girl,” He brushed a kiss against her cheek. “Did you kill it?”

            “No, Leader-sama wanted to keep it around. But I’ll be getting my own ring, niisan, just like you. Although, the bed is a loss, so we may have to sleep somewhere else tonight.” Sasuke replied, resisting the urge to turn and let him kiss him on the lips instead.

            After the tour, Pein presented Sasuke with the ring, Shou or Ao, which went on his right index finger. It was teal in color and blue-green in name, which matched. Itachi’s right ring finger now boasted Shu, which represented scarlet. They contained the same kanji for Seiryuu and Suzaku he thought idly, the azure dragon of war and the vermilion bird of love…

           

            Dinner that evening was a somewhat awkward affair. Orochimaru kept staring at him. Sasuke stayed quiet and kept his head down. Konan and Pein apparently ate in their rooms; Sasori did not need to eat at all, Zetsu was devouring what looked like half of a man’s corpse and Kakuzu was using a mass of black threads to control his chopsticks instead of his hands. Hidan, at least, had decent table manners and passed him a dish of vegetables. Sasuke thanked him and pointedly ignored the way Orochimaru was suggestively licking a piece of sashimi. Kisame turned out to have decent manners himself, despite the sheer amount of raw fish he could put away in one sitting, and he had nothing to say about Itachi.

             Sasuke ate what he could, and then excused himself, returning to their room. Soon, Itachi did as well. They dressed in their pajamas and made certain the security and privacy seals were drawn on the walls in chakra and ink, even in blood, before they engaged in any activities.

           

            It came as no great surprise to Sasuke that Itachi was to be partnered with Kisame. Fire and Water complemented each other. However, that left him without a partner, unless one counted Zetsu, and Sasuke was a little dubious about the whole affair, knowing all too well what both halves of Zetsu actually were. Zetsu did not particularly want a partner either, so that either left Sasuke on his own at the Akatsuki hideout, which was not particularly productive, out on solo missions, which was not deemed safe, or tagging along with Itachi and Kisame, which was the most satisfactory solution. In any case, Akatsuki members always roomed separately, and Itachi and Satsuki didn’t mind sharing.  

Chapter Text

Morimoto Genji tapped his fingers irritably against the black lacquered wood of his desk. They were late. The last caravan from the Land of Tea, bearing those exotic blends he loved so much, was over two weeks late. There had been no tales of bandit attacks or recent quarrels between the two Clans there, and in any case, the shinobi in the Land of Fire should have kept the peace. He was also preoccupied with his upcoming marriage to the Earth Daimyo’s third daughter, Akane. There were rumors that the Tsuchikage did not look upon the match with favor. But what could he do? Even he must bow to the Daimyo’s will… but that had not stopped Genji from seeking out rumors of powerful mercenaries to protect his fiancée. It was better to be cautious.

           

            “You really could be my double,” Akane stated admiringly as she surveyed the girl who had been introduced to her as Rei. “Of course, your nose is not as classically defined as mine, and your breasts are, regrettably, too small, and your hips somewhat narrow, but those deficiencies may be concealed with the proper clothing. Also, we must do something about your hair! Fortunately, there are many wigs for those who were not blessed with a fine head of hair by the gods.” Sasuke, who had been stripped nude and made to stand in front of a three-way mirror, silently smoldered with rage. He had been bathed, waxed, oiled, and perfumed for his first Akatsuki mission, which was to pose as this spoilt Daimyo’s daughter when required and make certain she arrived safely at the estate of her betrothed, Morimoto Genji. After that, it was not his business. Itachi would be his partner and part of the entourage, but the main responsibility fell upon him, as he was the girl. Kisame, being too blue and scaly to fit in, would have to sit it out.

            Her old servant, Shizuka, who had been with her since she was a child, brought a simple white robe for Rei to wear. Really, Akane thought, with that wild mane of hair, and those unimpressive curves, who would want her? She was much more interested in Rei’s handsome elder brother, Mamoru. Even if he were only a guard… well, it would take several weeks to journey from her father’s mansion to her new husband’s lodgings. Surely, he would not mind a brief dalliance… it was her last chance for freedom. Oh, Genji was pleasant enough, but he was fifteen years her senior!

            Before they could leave, however, he would have to prove to the Earth Daimyo that he could pass as Akane, which would involve hours of etiquette training and social graces, as well as dressing in fancy kimono and jewelry. Sasuke resigned himself to this female hell, but turned on his Sharingan beneath the genjutsu that kept his eyes calm and black, so that he would be able to absorb every detail and piece of information as quickly as possible.

 

            “Mamoru-san,” Akane breathed as she spotted her prey down in the yard, lightly sparring with a few of her father’s guards, a kunai in each hand, weaving and almost dancing between their spears and swords. He could not be more than twenty years of age, lithe and graceful. There were no scars of imperfections that she could see, and certainly such a young man who fought as he did must be equally as hot-blooded in the bedroom as well.

            “Akane-sama,” He bowed in respect, while the guards snapped to attention.

            “Please, continue,” She stated. Several of her maids were still accompanying her, so she was not truly alone, and they would also enjoy watching the guards practice. With more bows, the guards and Mamoru resumed. From behind her silk fan, underneath an awning carried by two servants to shade her from the sun, Akane studied Mamoru, fascinated. Yes, he was an enigma. He was clearly shinobi, although not from Iwagakure. Her father did not trust the Tsuchikage on this delicate matter of her marriage. Of course, as part of her entourage, he would be required to train in certain social graces as well, dancing, music, painting, perhaps, and the like. A smile curved her lips as she imagined dancing in his strong arms. She must arrange a dancing lesson soon, and music lessons. Perhaps she could be his tutor in the art of playing the flute? How she would enjoy playing his flute…

           

            Shizuka gazed down at the piece of embroidery, quietly astonished. Rei’s fingers, although callused and rough, unused to holding an embroidery needle and fine silk thread, more suited for rough wool and cotton thread and the mundane tasks of sewing and mending clothing, she suspected, had nonetheless managed to complete in an astonishingly short period of time a magnificent miniature portrait of the four gods – Suzaku, Seiryuu, Byakko, and Genbu – in perfect detail. Sasuke, meanwhile, was simply grateful that six years of kunoichi lessons had not been wasted. Next was ikebana. Sasuke thought back to all of the advice Ino had drilled into their heads over the years, the many beautiful displays he had seen in the window of Yamanaka florists, and picked one. Calligraphy would have been a struggle but making seals and tags of all kinds had perfected his chicken scratch. Painting, for someone who wove realistic genjutsu on an almost daily basis, was even easier.  

            When Sasuke tried to sing, however, Shizuka clapped her hands over her ears. Attempting to play the flute was even worse. There was a reason he hummed when he wove sound-based genjutsu. Shizuka summoned the music tutors, and Sasuke growled inwardly. This would definitely extend the time the mission would take to complete…

            With his Sharingan, he could learn the correct ways to place his fingers and purse his lips. With his control of Fuuton chakra, and the proper breathing, he could produce the right sounds. It did not take more than a few days to learn the flute, and to display the right emotions, all Sasuke had to do was to think of Itachi. But singing, Sasuke thought. How the devil was he to learn how to sing?

            Well, perhaps Itachi would know. He had not seen his brother in five days, except at breakfast and dinner, when they were seated at separate tables, so they had not even been able to exchange words. The music tutors had left him for the day and Itachi was alone; save for Akane, so he should be safe to approach his brother. He double-checked, sensing no danger, and then flickered a short distance away.

            Itachi was kissing Akane in the orchard, under a cherry tree.

                       

            Itachi was pleased at how well Satsuki kept her temper. For an instant, her eyes flashed Sharingan red, and then, just as quickly, they were back to calm pools of black ink. Then Satsuki herself disappeared behind a strand of trees. In his arms, Akane moaned, not even aware of the disturbance, or how close she had been to death. Gently, Itachi broke the kiss.

            “Akane-sama,” He told her gently. “This is not proper.”

            “Mamoru-san,” She greedily clasped his shoulders. The sound of a cracking twig interrupted them. That, if nothing else, snapped Akane out of her trance. She hastily straightened her kimono and pulled away. Itachi did as well, and was a respectable distance away by the time a guard stepped out. Even without his Sharingan active, Itachi knew who it was.

            “There you are, Akane-sama. Your father has been concerned about your whereabouts.”

            Akane nodded haughtily, sweeping past both him and the guard as she hurried back towards the buildings. Once she was gone, Satsuki dropped the transformation.

            Itachi was not in the last surprised when Satsuki kissed him, hard enough to draw blood. His tongue plundered her mouth, her hand within his trousers, finding the hard length of him, his hand parting her robe and exposing her slick wetness, claiming and being claimed. Again, as his arousal peaked, Itachi felt his chakra surge higher than it had ever been before, and he wondered at it, but his thoughts were otherwise occupied, with nothing but Satsuki, his sister, his lover, his everything.

            Sasuke felt Itachi tighten their embrace, and they reappeared in the small room his brother had been given. The paper seals Itachi had pasted on the walls, ceiling, floor and door flickered to life, ensuring that they would not be disturbed. The Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan swirled to life in his brother’s eyes, and Sasuke’s followed. Itachi’s lips met his again, and Sasuke eagerly returned the favor, his tongue sliding past his brother’s lips, exploring his inviting mouth. Itachi groaned deep in his throat, the sound music to his ears. Ever-so-slowly, Itachi began to move his hips again, and Sasuke purred. His brother, his lover… even if Akane had his body, he would never have his heart, for Itachi was his and his alone.

           

            Once their physical bodies needed a rest, Sasuke cast Tsukuyomi on Itachi and they wove the genjutsu for the Garden of Paradise together. It was time to train in earnest. Sasuke figured he could multitask and practice his scales – he could still mold chakra and perform hand signs and hopefully the music, if it could be called such, would distract Itachi at least a little. Itachi looked faintly amused. Instead of drawing the Kiba blades, this time, Sasuke tapped the tiny tattoo on his forearm, just above the wrist, that summoned Nuibari, the sewing needle. An interesting choice, Itachi thought, seeing barely-visible threads glistening from the base. As Sasuke turned, a horde of wild boar charged out of the forest. Itachi watched indulgently as Sasuke leapt into the air, Nuibari flashing in the sunlight, before turning to his own training. The air around him crackled slightly with static electricity as he channeled lightning through his fingertips to form slender senbon. Now, how to precisely control the raiton…

 

            Joushu, the Earth Daimyo, had suggested a hunting party in a nearby forest, for he disliked the sight of his lords sitting idle. Also, he wished to test the mettle of the guards he had hired. So he made certain that Rei and Mamoru were amongst the retinue selected to accompany him. Akane had pouted prettily, and as his last-to-youngest daughter, he was loath to deny her anything and allowed her to come along. She did make a pretty picture, dressed in a robe of pale blue patterned with orchids. Rei wore yellow patterned with green bamboo, and were it not for the difference in color they truly could have passed for twins. Akatsuki had lived up to this part of the bargain, at least.

             Soon, the hounds had picked up the trail of a small herd of deer. Several does, two yearling bucks, and a fine stag with a crown of antlers that would make a fine trophy – Joushu’s keen eyes picked them out in an instant. He guided his horse after the stag as the herd scattered, followed by several of his lords and Rei. He saw Akane’s horse bolt, spooked, and Mamoru take off after her. Good! He urged his horse forward, but the stag turned abruptly, and charged. His arrow sank into its shoulder, but it missed a vital spot. His lords’ arrows similarly missed. Wounded, the stag stampeded towards him, the sound of its hooves pounding in his ears. His horse reared up and threw him from its saddle, and Joushu landed on the ground with a heavy thump. The stag was coming nearer with every second, and his courage failed him. His eyes closed, and warm blood splattered across his face.

            It took Joushu a few moments to realize that the blood was not his own, and he had not been wounded. When he finally opened his eyes, he saw Rei standing next to the stag, its head neatly removed from its shoulders, holding a bloody sword in a style he had never seen before. She offered a hand to help rise, not a spot of blood on her pristine robe, and a damp handkerchief to help him clean his face. Shakily, he accepted both as his lords gathered around him, voices exclaiming at his narrow escape.

              Joushu exhaled, inhaled, and exhaled again, practicing the breathing exercises his martial tutors had drilled into him, watching as Rei cleaned her sword. If not for her… it was a miraculous escape, indeed. Worth every ryo, he thought, straightening his robes as he waited for his servants to return with a fresh horse for him, and to truss up the deer to bring back to the manor for the evening meal. She was definitely worth every ryo…  

           

            Akane shrilly screamed as her horse crashed through the underbrush, hanging onto its mane for dear life as branches whipped against her face and broke off in her hair. Her robe caught on brambles and who knew what else. Worthless horse, she thought viciously. She yanked harder on its mane, intending on forcing it to stop, but that was a miserable failure. Behind her, Itachi followed at a slightly more leisurely pace, letting her horse break trail and hoping it would stop soon, preferably in a clearing so they could lead it back.

            Her horse did finally stop in a clearing, but only because there was a bear there. The brown bear that had been peacefully raiding a beehive was not very happy to be disturbed. One blow of its mighty paw killed the horse, the next would have done the same to Akane had not Itachi flickered over and gathered her into his arms before performing a hasty replacement with a convenient hollow log. A grand fireball was enough to send the bear onto its next life.

            “Oh, Mamoru-san,” Akane breathed. “You’re so brave!”

            Itachi resigned himself to the flurry of kisses that followed. “Akane-sama,” He spoke, when she finally pulled away to breathe. “We must return to the others.”

            Akane pouted. “I suppose you are right,” She finally relented. “But tonight, there is bound to be a feast to celebrate the hunt. Afterwards, there will be dancing, so you will dance with me, and then you will come to my chambers.”

            “As you command, Akane-sama,” Itachi replied, his bangs hiding his eyes as he bowed.

            Slowly, Akane mounted his horse, and as he mounted behind her, she could feel the evidence of his arousal. She smiled to herself. Yes, she would have him…

 

            When Joushu heard of Mamoru’s gallant deed, he sent more servants to collect the horse and the bear. It was a pity about the horse, of course, but he had not tasted bear meat in many a season as well, and more horses could always be bought. There would be feasting and dancing tonight, he declared, a masque, and the lords and ladies smiled with delight. There was a flurry of activity as they were all dismissed. The cooks and their assistants were all in a flutter, for it was their duty to prepare the feast, and Joushu smiled in anticipation. His wife had been dead these past three seasons, and perhaps it was time for a pleasant diversion…

           

            Akane smoothed down her costume in front of the mirror, very pleased with herself. The outer robe was of rich crimson brocade, edged with gold and richly embroidered with phoenixes in flight, the colors dazzling splendor to the eye. The inner robe was semitransparent silk, fine enough to give glimpses of her breasts and thighs. Her tiny feet were neatly tucked into matching embroidered slippers, and her hair was pulled up into a beaded headdress, four looped braids dangling down. Her mask, of course, represented a phoenix; earrings dangled from her delicate ears, bracelets clinked at her wrists, and a ruby necklace winked at her throat. She did not need her ladies to tell her she was beautiful. She knew she would outshine all the others tonight.

Chapter Text

As Akane swept into the room, all eyes, indeed, were on her. She spotted her father in a deep, forest green robe, dozens of ladies and gentleman in various costumes and masks, and there he was, Mamoru. As though they had planned their costumes together, he wore red as well, a red tunic and black pants, and the mask of a vermilion bird, though his was plainer.  He was speaking with an older woman who wore a plain white robe and the mask of a white tiger. She whispered something in his ear, and then stepped away. Akane scowled, before making her way to Mamoru. Had it been an assignation? Surely not…

            “Akane-sama,” Mamoru whispered to her, and then the music started up again. Dancing with him was even more wonderful than she had imagined. Eventually, however, another lord tapped her on the shoulder, asking for a dance, and she was forced to oblige. Although her costume was beautiful, Akane was forced to admit it was starting to become rather stifling, and she turned to see Mamoru dancing with his sister, who had chosen a simple robe of deep blue-green. Only, from the way the light caught it, it shimmered like the play of sunlight on ocean’s waves in a mesmerizing pattern. I want that, she thought with a sudden stab of envy. Then, they moved, and the mask covering Rei’s head and face was revealed, that of a magnificent dragon, fangs bared in a challenge.

            Behind her mask Akane’s face flushed, hot and angry. How dare that little upstart presume to order her around! Who did she think she was? She calmed herself with the thought, however, that in mere hours she would be in Mamoru’s bed and Rei would be able do nothing about it. So she forced herself to smile at her current partner as they whirled around the dance floor. She endured another hour of dancing, smiling spitefully when she saw Mamoru leave his sister when another lady clamored for his attention, before retiring to her rooms. So very soon, he would be hers…

 

            Making love to Mamoru was even more wonderful than she had imagined, Akane thought, hours later, when she lay sated in his embrace. As she had expected, he was a wonderfully passionate young man, yet surprisingly inexperienced. What a delight it had been to teach him the finer points of pleasing a woman. She closed her eyes in bliss as she snuggled even more tightly against his chest.

            Itachi laid there, Akane firmly trapped in his genjutsu, and thought of Satsuki, wishing it were she who was by his side now. Akane held about as much appeal for him as a stick of wood did, and at least a stick of wood could be burnt to light a fire to heat water or cook a meal. Akane had no such utility. If not for the money the Akatsuki was receiving to protect her… she may have temporarily been a receptacle for his seed, but he certainly felt nothing for her.

            The next morning, Mamoru was gone when she woke. While Akane would have preferred to wake in his arms, she understood the necessity. Even if threatened into silence, her servants might gossip. Even Shizuka might not hold her tongue. She sighed in pleasure as she recalled the heights of ecstasy he had brought her to, before ordering her servants to prepare her bath.

 

            A sudden explosion nearby rocked the house. Akane screamed and dove underneath the bed. Another explosion followed, and another.

            “All right, have you had enough, un?” A voice shouted outside. “Bring out the Daimyo’s daughter, Akane, and maybe I won’t blow you all to bits, un!”

            Akane huddled even more tightly underneath the bed. They wouldn’t actually give her up, would they? This was what her father had hired those ninja for! She smiled widely. They would give Rei to whoever the bomber was, and all would be well…

 

            It just had to be Deidara, Sasuke thought with a sigh, as he was led out by a nervous Joushu. Why did it have to be Deidara? Oh, he knew he could take him, but dealing with the artist was irritating. Deidara took a couple of looks at him, before nodding. He suddenly threw a handful of clay spiders at him. Sasuke screamed in terror as they climbed all over him, settling in his clothes and hair.

            “Just had to check that you weren’t giving me a decoy, un,” Deidara said cheerfully. A kunoichi would have instinctively dodged, and perhaps even dropped her transformation. “Now don’t you worry, pretty lady, I’m not here to kill you. We’re just going on a little trip.” He motioned for him to follow him onto the back of a large clay bird.

            “I’m afraid I can’t allow that.” Itachi’s calm voice cut in as he flickered in next to Deidara, putting a kunai against his throat, eyes Sharingan red. “The lady, you see, is under my protection.”

            Deidara just laughed. “I wouldn’t be too hasty, shinobi. You see those spiders?” He gestured at Sasuke, who was festooned with them. “Let me give you a demonstration, un…” He produced another spider, and tossed it high into the air, making a sign with his hands. “Katsu!” As predicted, the spider exploded. Joushu gasped and paled, almost fainting away. Itachi looked singularly unimpressed.

            “Mamoru-san,” Sasuke begged, looking into Itachi’s ruby eyes, “Please don’t let me die! Did what passed between us last night mean nothing to you?”

            When he heard those words, Joushu did faint. Sasuke smirked inwardly. Deidara burst out laughing.

            “I didn’t peg you for the type to screw around on a mission, un! Perhaps you’d like a good-bye kiss before I leave?” He taunted.

            Silently, Itachi withdrew the kunai from Deidara’s throat, and then turned to Satsuki. “Forgive me,” He told her, before tilting her chin up. Even as their lips met, he drove the blade of his kunai between her ribs, piercing her heart. Satsuki choked and coughed up blood, collapsing. In an instant, Itachi’s eyes morphed into the Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan. The Naraka path activated as the King of Hell formed around Satsuki, protecting her as it healed her. Of course, the C1 spiders had already been deactivated by her Chidori nagashi earlier, so she was in no danger.

            Deidara sprang back onto his clay bird, only to curse as Itachi neatly deactivated it with precise application of raiton chakra. From viewing Satsuki’s memories of fighting this man, Itachi knew better than to give him time to form any more explosive clay creatures or use the mouth on his chest. He doubted they could contain an explosion that massive. So as Deidara leapt into the air, Itachi cut him down with the chidori sharp spear and made certain to decapitate him. Then he sliced through the mouth on Deidara’s chest, just in case, glad Konan had given him advance warning of a possible attack today.

            Ten minutes later, Satsuki emerged from the King of Hell, fully restored. “No forgiveness is necessary,” She said, tossing him back his kunai. “Is he dead?”

            “Yes,” Itachi replied, stowing the kunai away. “Are you uninjured?”

            “Of course,” She replied, before giving him a kiss, making sure that a genjutsu was in place around them both, so no one saw.

            Itachi had already disposed of Deidara’s body, and attendants were hovering around Joushu, attempting to wake him with minimal success. Itachi dismissed her and she went upstairs to change out of her bloodstained clothing and spread the news that the bomber had been defeated. By then, Akane had finally crawled out from under her bed and was enjoying a bath. Sasuke went to clean up and smirked inwardly. He would let Akane explain her dalliance to her father herself.

 

            Sasuke dressed in a pale pink robe patterned with white sakura blossoms and went to another voice lesson. Training in the Garden of Paradise was improving his range and tone, but not quickly enough to suit him. And learning all those songs was time-consuming… was this really necessary? Surely he could pass as Akane now, couldn’t he? What were kidnappers going to do, challenge him to sing? With his mastery over Fuuton, it was clear to him that at this very moment downstairs, a furious Joushu was confronting Akane about her lewd actions of the previous night. Nonetheless, Akane did have her father wrapped around her finger, and he finally conceded that as long as she did not get pregnant, and no news of it reached Genji’s ears, it would be tolerated. Sasuke frowned. Perhaps a different lesson was in order…

            There could have been a child, Sasuke thought as he knelt by Akane’s bed that night, his henge perfect. Akane had certainly dallied multiple times in the past. She had an irregular cycle, so this was perfect. His hands glowed pale green as he ran them over her stomach in the mockery of a lover’s caress, no hint of a scar remaining from where he had gutted her with a scalpel while she slept, trapped in genjutsu. Slowly, the tiny egg, its nucleus replaced with one from one of Deidara’s skin cells, having traveled down the fallopian tube at astonishing speed and implanted itself into the newly grown uterine lining, began to divide, and divide, and divide again…

            Akane’s last cycle had been over three months ago.

            Her last dalliance had been two and a half months ago.

            The child will be two months and a week old by the time she wakes the next morning.

            Joushu’s physician will be examining her in three days.

 

            When Akane woke the next morning, her breasts felt unusually tender, which she put down to Mamoru’s enthusiastic ministrations, but oddly enough, she was also quite nauseous. She pushed away the various breakfast dishes and called for simple rice porridge, which she ate slowly with a frown. Had she eaten something that disagreed with her at dinner last night? It was a good thing she was seeing her father’s physician the day after.

            Shizuka tsked, but privately, she fretted. Akane had not bled for three months, and she knew her mistress well enough. She was not as pure as she would like others to believe. Surely it could not be…?

           

            When Joushu’s physician confirmed the diagnosis of pregnancy, Joushu was enraged. Sasuke made certain that a copy of the physician’s report made it into Genji’s possession. Genji, of course, was outraged, and threatened to break off the engagement. The Earth Daimyo, who desperately needed Genji’s riches, offered his youngest daughter, Aoko, who was four years younger, at thirteen, and a confirmed virgin, instead. Genji sent a note saying he would be sending his personal physician to check Aoko over, clearly not trusting Joushu’s promises.

            Unlike Akane, Aoko was short and chubby, with brown, curly hair. There was no way Sasuke could pass as her, without henge. He would still be her bodyguard, Joushu decided, but he would be accompanying her as her sister Akane. That seemed satisfactory to Sasuke.

           

            That night, he lay in Itachi’s arms, as Itachi slowly stroked his hair. There was no condemnation in Itachi’s onyx eyes, no shame in Sasuke’s. Their lips met in a chaste kiss.

            Sasuke loved Itachi enough to let him pierce his heart with a kunai, even if there was no way to bring him back afterwards. To him, Itachi was worth more than life itself.

            Itachi loved Satsuki enough to let her impregnate another woman, using his form, despite the condemnation and consequences it would bring. To him, Satsuki was worth more than life itself.

            Any physical intimacy they engaged in was only another expression of that love.

           

            Akane tiptoed down the stairs towards Mamoru’s room. She was already pregnant, and the physician had prescribed her powders to help with the morning sickness. Her engagement had been broken off, so now she need not worry about Genji. She would not be showing for another few months, she had slipped sleeping powder into the tea her maids had drunk before bed, and now she was alone. She would have Mamoru again! Slowly, she opened the door to his room, which of course, she had the key to. What she saw stopped her dead in her tracks.

            The window was open, moonlight spilling over Mamoru’s nude form. His long hair spilled over his shoulders, painting him in a stark contrast of black and white, raven’s feathers on fresh snow, she thought, living poetry in motion. The only light came from his eyes, the right eye a dusky amethyst, the left as red as blood and black as night. Mesmerized, she could do naught but stare, until she noticed he was not alone.

            Rei knelt between her brother’s thighs, her lips wrapped around what was unmistakably his shaft. Her eyes were an inverted mirror of his, but while Mamoru had projected an air of calm serenity, hers glittered with possessive lust. Mine, they seemed to pierce into her soul like a thousand knives. You may have his body, but his soul belongs to me. As Akane made to step forward, to break this despicable scene, she found that she could not move a muscle. Mamoru shuddered, once, and Rei drank him down, pulling back so that Akane could glimpse the pearly fluid trickling from her lips before she rose and kissed her brother, her lover, full on the mouth.

Chapter Text

“Enough, imouto,” Mamoru’s cold voice broke the silence that had fallen. He did not spare her a second glance as he pushed his sister down onto the sheets with his superior strength. She struggled against him slightly, the pale expanse of her throat exposed. His strong fingers wrapped around her neck with enough force to crush her windpipe, as he sank his other fist into her stomach, stealing the breath from her lungs. Akane’s eyes widened, unable to believe the brutality she was witnessing. While one part of her hated Rei with all her heart, the sight of Mamoru striking a woman, his own sister, shocked her to the core.

            Rei coughed, gasping for breath. She kicked feebly at her brother. Mamoru wedged his knee between her thighs, a cruel smile upon his face. His right hand uncurled from the fist, it slid up her stomach, cupped the swell of her right breast. His fingers gently stroked her nipple for a second, before pinching it cruelly. A pained moan escaped from Rei’s lips. Mamoru chuckled, as blue lightning crackled over both their bodies. He brought his lips to Rei’s in mock tenderness, and Akane saw her fall limp.

            “Niisan…” The word escaped her lips, a plea for what, Akane wondered. She must be begging for freedom! Surely she did not wish for him to continue! Mamoru spread her thighs wider, casually sliding two fingers into her slit, bringing them out, damp with her juices. He brought them to her mouth, and she licked, obediently. He was savagely erect, and he mounted her like a beast, with no gentleness in his manner. He took, and took, and took again, and Akane watched it all, frozen in horror. When Mamoru was satisfied, he turned to her, that same cruel smile on his face, and approached her.

            Just before he reached her, a vine wrapped around his arm, lightning-quick. Mamoru scowled and Akane took advantage of his second of distraction to bolt away. As she risked a glance back, she saw Rei rising from the bed, more vines sprouting from beneath her skin. She didn’t care what shinobi magic this was. She flew up the stairs, to her bedroom, and resolved to stay away from Mamoru, now that she knew just what a monster he truly was.

 

            “Niisan,” Sasuke purred, as the door swung shut behind Itachi, the seals once again flickering to life. “We haven’t quite finished yet.”

            Itachi slowly walked to the bed, where his insatiable lover awaited him, feeling an inquisitive vine wrap firmly around the base of his hardening member. “No, I did not expect we would have been, before we were so rudely interrupted.”

            Satsuki’s eyes were dark with anticipation as they kissed once more, and Itachi felt her straddle his hips as her vines twined about his wrists and ankles, spread-eagling him to the bed. It was foolish, of course – they both knew his raiton and katon techniques could easily disrupt her mokuton if he so wished, but they had played his game earlier. Now it was her turn.

            Satsuki milked Itachi slowly, drawing out the pleasure for them both, until finally, granting him release. She unwove the restraints, before gently caressing his face, kissing his lips, his eyelids, and the fall of his long, dark hair. He let her take control, occasionally stroking the curve of a bare shoulder, the swell of a breast, the slender rise of a buttock. She was beautiful, and he loved her.

            Finally, Sasuke closed his eyes and cuddled against his brother, his lover, ready to sleep. Itachi loved him, and that was enough, although teaching Akane a final lesson certainly didn’t hurt either…

 

            The days passed swiftly. Genji’s physician had pronounced Aoko virginal, and finally, the caravan set off. Not three days out of the capitol, they were attacked by bandits. Sasuke and Itachi made short work of the ragged group of men. Sasuke had thoughtfully put on the henge of a male and stripped out of his fancy robes before joining the fight, as not to ruin his disguise. It was not surprising that in the mountainous regions, there would be bandits and outlaws. The Land of Earth was not especially fertile, not fit for growing crops in such rocky soil. Though they did have some precious stones and mines for coal, iron, and rare metals, it took much backbreaking labor to extract them from the hard earth. The Land of Earth did boast some impressive metalworking techniques, and fine pottery.

            On the sixth day, they saw two familiar, though unwelcome faces. Orochimaru and Sasori, without Hiruko puppet and Akatsuki cloaks, were waiting for the two of them across a narrow chasm with only a single, albeit sturdy, wooden bridge. Itachi understood the situation in an instant. While the Earth Daimyo had contracted with one Akatsuki team to safely protect his daughter until she had reached her betrothed, undoubtedly other forces, possibly the Tsuchikage, had contracted with another Akatsuki team to prevent the marriage from going through. The fact that Sasori and Orochimaru were not wearing their cloaks meant that Pein had decided they must be discreet.

            Clearly, this was another test of sorts. Itachi made certain that the genjutsu concealing his Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan was active, before moving to the head of the caravan. The leader had, fortunately, already spotted the two enemy ninja waiting for them across the bridge and wisely not attempted to cross the bridge. A moment later, Satsuki was by his side. She sized up the situation and he felt the almost imperceptible rise in her chakra that indicated she had activated her dojutsu as well.

            “Shall we begin?” He asked, letting his voice carry the challenge across the canyon.

            Orochimaru laughed, while Sasori looked singularly unimpressed, before summoning his favorite puppet – the Sandaime Kazekage.

            In an instant, the battle was joined.

 

            Sasuke decided to let Itachi deal with Orochimaru, not wanting to be anywhere close to the man who wanted his body. He was not surprised when Orochimaru leapt across the bridge, followed by the flying third Kazekage. Watch out for poison, he thought to himself as the puppet spat out a hail of senbon at him, which he neatly dodged. No doubt Sasori poisoned every weapon hidden on that puppet. Even the slightest scratch could prove lethal, and then where would he be? His medical skills were not that good! Then again, bringing out Susanoo might just be overkill, he didn’t want to accidentally kill Sasori with Amaterasu, he wasn’t sure Tsukuyomi would work on a puppet, and anything Rinnegan related was out.

            Sasuke shrugged and exhaled several small fireballs in the direction of the puppet. Not surprisingly, Sasori made it dodge them all. Not even its cloak was singed. All right, if a weak fire didn’t work, what about fire with wind behind it? Even if the puppet’s body was wood and metal, there had to be chakra running through it for Sasori to be able to control it, and chakra inside of it for it to use its ninjutsu, didn’t it? He might not have the Byakugan, but his Sharingan was well developed enough to see his body’s cells and even Deidara’s C4 bombs. Sasuke formed a half-dozen of the sharpest wind blades he could, thought for a moment of how angry Sasori would be if he utterly destroyed his puppet, and instead of weaving fire, wove water to make ice, and then kept dodging for a few moments. Once he got close enough, he jammed a particularly large icicle down the puppet’s mouth and throat, and then sank three of them into the area where the heaviest concentration of chakra was located.

            Sasori blinked at Satsuki, impressed. Just to make the point, Sasuke froze the Kazekage’s head solid in a block of ice next. He flickered across the bridge next to Sasori, pinned him down with a kunai at his throat, grinned, and whispered in his ear. “Teach me medical ninjutsu when we meet up next, Sasori-san? I could have used fire.”

            Sasori smiled as, he reversed their positions in an eye blink, his intestinal cable wrapped around Satsuki’s body tight enough to choke and the poisoned spearhead caressing her pulse point. “You bring up a valid point, Satsuki-chan. In fact, I will request you as my partner if your brother kills Orochimaru, which seems to be happening right now.”

           

            Orochimaru did not like admitting it when he was outmatched, but Uchiha Itachi was some sort of demon. That was the only explanation he could come up with. He frowned as he shed his body, slithering out of the husk. His body shedding technique consumed an enormous amount of chakra, but his previous body had suffered a serious amount of damage from those hellish black flames that had erupted all around him. He had attempted to evade them, and then had unleashed several powerful A-rank water and earth techniques to smother them, but they would not stop burning! When Pein had assigned him and Sasori this mission, he had grasped the chance to take a Sharingan-capable body as his own. Clearly, that was not going to be the case… unless…

            Well, he would have preferred Satsuki, but this was no time to be picky. Orochimaru’s neck extended at an alarming rate, fangs elongating instantaneously. His fangs sank into soft flesh and the toxic seal was injected. Orochimaru smiled in triumph, but then, he frowned. Something was wrong… as he tried to figure out what it was; he felt the sharp edge of a tanto severing his head from his neck.

            That was when he glanced down and saw that what he had thought was the body of Uchiha Itachi, was in reality, the body of an innocent brown rabbit.

            Susanoo surrounded Itachi, who stabbed Orochimaru’s head with the Sword of Totsuka, sealing him again, for the second time, just in case. The blood of the white snake was an anesthetic, he recalled from Satsuki’s memories. He would use Fuuton to clear the air, and then, the party could proceed on.

            “I told you,” Sasori said, before Satsuki disappeared. “I’ll see you in a few days.” He flickered away as well, leaving her to join her brother and the caravan to move on in peace.

 

            Aoko was safely delivered to Morimoto Genji on a clear, sunny morning. He treated them to a frugal noon meal before dismissing them, confident that the wedding would be performed that very evening and none would dare attack him in his home. Itachi saw no reason to disabuse the man of the notion. Their mission was complete, and Akatsuki would be receiving their payment in full. They brought a photograph of Aoko embracing her fiancé, a note from Genji, and Kakuzu. Joushu obediently paid up.

            Back at Akatsuki headquarters, nobody seemed too broken up about Orochimaru’s death. Pein agreed to allow Satsuki to partner with Sasori, and accepted the Sora ring back from Itachi. They would require another member, unless ‘Tobi’ wished to take a more active role.

           

            Studying with Sasori was fascinating, Sasuke thought; reading through a medical scroll Sasori had long since memorized and had no further use of. This scroll detailed how sexual intercourse between a man and a woman could be used to increase the chakra of both, assuming that certain conditions were met, such as matching chakra types and blood types and the like. He frowned thoughtfully as he recalled how Itachi’s chakra had seemed stronger after they had consummated, and his as well. Could it be…?

            Even without the illness plaguing him in this life, Itachi did not have the best stamina. Compared to, say, Naruto, the chakra tank, it was Itachi’s chakra control that gave him his staying power, his precise ninjutsu and flawless genjutsu, his taijutsu and intelligence that made him such a genius. It was not his store of chakra.

            Sasuke flicked back to the beginning of the scroll, activated his Sharingan, and began to read it again. There were several tenketsu, internal and external, that could be manipulated, to increase blood and chakra flow during the act to increase stimulation and also trigger chakra creation. Fascinating…

            Sasori noticed what he was studying, but paid it no mind. Garbage, the former Sand-nin thought. If Satsuki wanted to waste her time on it, though, it was her business. True immortality was found in an unchanging body, not the exchange of fluids in a wholly unnecessary act.

            “May I borrow this, Sasori-san?”

            “Keep it,” He replied gruffly. “I certainly don’t need it.”

            Sasuke thanked Sasori, and then went to their room to share the news with Itachi.

 

            Itachi was not wholly surprised when Satsuki showed him the scroll. He had also noticed how after their first encounter, he had felt rejuvenated. Evidently, it had not been his imagination. And it was not as though they were using each other… discovering that their pleasure also had a practical purpose did not detract from their love for each other. And, practice made perfect, after all…

Chapter Text

            Sasuke mentally reviewed the times they had consummated. They always kept their Sharingan on, although he had never studied their chakra flow in detail during the act itself, as they were otherwise occupied. Now, as he painstakingly watched their bodies, tracing the pathways of their chakra, he did notice both his and Itachi’s chakra cores increasing slightly in size during the act. That proved that they were compatible, and the scroll was correct. That also meant, with more intercourse, their chakra reserves would continue to grow. There seemed to be no limit to the amount of chakra that could be increased in this way, as long as both parties had decent chakra control.

            Decent, Sasuke almost scoffed. Itachi was beyond decent. His hand seals were perfect. His chakra control was probably legendary. Sasuke wasn’t quite as good, but he was definitely above average. He checked to see if there were any other warnings. The scroll stressed the importance of getting at least an hour of exercise a day. Sasuke wondered how much of that exercise could be undertaken in bed, and then got up to practice some of his kata. Soon, Itachi joined him, their movements almost, but not quite a mirror. Itachi’s were fluid and graceful. Sasuke sighed inwardly. Compared to his older brother, he still needed practice.

            Two hours of kata later, Sasuke judged they had trained enough to be safe. They showered separately to avoid temptation, and then partook of a light meal. Sasuke studied the scroll a little more; discovering that while it did contain a wide variety of sexual techniques to arouse one’s partner and over two hundred detailed drawings of sexual positions, there was no more pertinent information on how to increase or decrease chakra levels. No wonder Sasori had deemed it worthless…

            Nonetheless, he showed it to Itachi, just in case there was something he might have missed, and he didn’t miss the slight blush on those high cheekbones when Itachi reached that section. Finally, Itachi put the scroll down, and turned to him, Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan spinning lazily.

            “Perhaps we had better begin our training, imouto.”

            Sasuke smiled.

 

            Satsuki was soft and pliable beneath him, the kunoichi hidden away within her, just as the shinobi was hidden away within him. At the moment, they were just a woman and a man, with love in their eyes and in their hearts. Even though each wave of pleasure boosted their chakra a little more, it certainly did not detract from the experience. Her fingernails dug slightly into his back, his arms wrapped around her firmly as they gave in to their need for each other. Itachi panted quietly, planting his seed deep within her womb, for though she wore her female form and he his male form, their true forms were reversed, and no child would ever result.

           

             Sasori found that he enjoyed sparring with Satsuki and Itachi. They were careful to never, ever use fire techniques, so he would not have to rebuild his precious puppets. Injuries from taijutsu and their other techniques, the crackle of lightning, the rush of wind, the splash of water and the heave of earth, those he could deal with. Fire was a different story. His fingers were nimble as he used multiple puppets against the two of them. The Sandaime Kazekage was his favorite, of course, but after the way Satsuki had casually disabled it last time, this time he made certain to use the Iron Sand the moment he sent it out. They still disabled it alarmingly quickly. It must be the Sharingan, he thought, that and the ability of their lightning and wind to break through the magnet release. He was impressed, and Sasori was not a man who was easily impressed. No wonder Orochimaru had been taken down so easily.

            Satsuki did not mind when he brought corpses back to expand his puppet collection. Occasionally, she asked for a spare part or two to study. He certainly did not mind giving them to her – Zetsu could always eat them later, once she was finished – and hands-on practice was always good for learning medicine. She was woefully inadequate in her knowledge of poisons and antidotes, but Orochimaru’s former laboratory and library were hers to use and peruse at her leisure.

            On missions, she deferred to his lead, naturally. She could hold her own in battle, and that was enough for him. And she also had the advantage of resembling a harmless young woman, while he could pass as a harmless young man when not in his Hiruko puppet. Holding her ‘hostage’ could often dramatically improve a situation. So, Sasori, while not exactly happy, because he was not sure what happiness was, was at least, content, and that was good enough for him.

 

            Kisame discovered that running missions with Itachi was surprisingly peaceful. It was almost as though Itachi knew how to read his mind. Every possibility seemed to be accounted for. There were no wasted efforts and no botched plans. Even when things did not go as planned, Itachi always had some kind of a backup plan and they never got into a situation they could not handle together. Kisame wondered if he were psychic. And so it continued, until the day they encountered Suzuki Mahri…

            He and Itachi had stopped for a bite to eat in a tea shop after completing their latest mission. Kisame did not really enjoy tea, or senbei, but this tea shop had some damned good sashimi and he just finishing his thirteenth plate while Itachi was on his second plate of dango when the door opened and a young woman walked in. Normally, a woman walking into a teashop would not have elicited a response, but this woman was beautiful. Her hair was sleek and blonde and resembled a waterfall of golden silk, one eye shone emerald green while the other peeped sapphire blue, her lips were the palest pink of dusky rose, and her form-fitting body armor was of black leather with red accents. Kisame gave a low whistle.

            Itachi took a sip of his tea, setting his teacup down, before taking another bite of his roasted chestnut dango. The woman gazed at him for a full moment, before she straightened. “Uchiha Itachi,” she spoke. “Hoshigaki Kisame. Both of you are S-ranked ninja belonging to the group known as Akatsuki. In the name of Suzuki Mahri, I am taking you both in.”

            Itachi rose, setting down his cup of tea. He paid his bill, and then politely asked the woman if they could move outside. She seemed a little taken aback, but she did allow it. Kisame sighed, finished his sushi, and left them an extra large tip. They moved down the street to a large, vacant lot, and then, Mahri struck.

            She was damned fast, that was the first thought Kisame had, as he brought up Samehada to block. Samehada slithered free from its bindings, hungry already. Her hands blurred as she formed the seals for a jutsu – raiton, Kisame thought automatically, flipping back and letting Itachi blast her back with a great breakthrough. Mahri was nimble, though, and landed on her feet, catlike. The seals were complete, and instead, Mahri spat out flames. This Kisame could deal with. A scroll in his hand summoned the water necessary; the seals raised a wall of the liquid to protect them. Undeterred, Mahri’s next move charged the water with lightning. Kisame swore and leapt to the top of the wave. Meanwhile, Itachi engaged with taijutsu. To his surprise, Mahri was able to block his strikes, even pressing him back slightly. Even with his ability to read her movements, she struck quickly and powerfully. Genjutsu, he decided, activating the Tsukuyomi.

            Mahri cursed as she felt the world shift around her. Damned Uchiha, she thought, gazing around. Everything was black and white, and she was, not too creatively, tied to a cross. She sneered at the crowd of armed Itachi clones surrounding her. So it was to be torture? She could stand torture. Itachi did not waste time, inflicting as much pain as possible, wanting to disable her. Tsukuyomi was chakra intensive, and his reserves were not at the highest after their latest mission.

            Forty-eight hours into the torture was equivalent to two seconds in the real world. Mahri had trained her body under the harshest conditions to work separately from her mind. Her unexpected gut punch broke Itachi’s concentration and he staggered backwards. Fortunately, those two seconds had been long enough for Kisame to react. He brought Samehada down on her head as hard as he could; knocking her unconscious, before the sword greedily began to feast on her chakra, draining her dry of every drop save that necessary to preserve life.

            Itachi rose to his feet, frowning. He was about to slit her throat when Kisame wordlessly lifted her left hand, pointing to something. On her left pinky, there, was the ring, Sora.

            “It seemed Leader-sama decided to give us a little surprise.”

           

            When Itachi and Kisame returned with Mahri in tow, Satsuki was waiting for them. She ignored Mahri, welcoming Itachi and giving Kisame a greeting as well. Mahri sneered.

            “I didn’t know Akatsuki was running a babysitting service.”

            “I wouldn’t say that too loudly,” Kisame advised as Itachi and Satsuki walked away. “She’s Sasori’s partner.”

            Mahri rolled her eyes. “I could beat her with one arm tied behind my back.”

            “She might surprise you,” Kisame shrugged. “She’s Itachi’s sister.”

            “I beat him easily enough, and if you hadn’t interfered…” She rubbed the back of her head. “Anyway, what’s for dinner? I’m starving.”

            “Don’t ask me, I’m not your cook.” Kisame said grumpily, heading for his room.

 

            “Niisan, are you all right?” Sasuke asked, as he helped Itachi out of his cloak. “Your chakra levels are so low…”

            “I will be fine, Satsuki.” Itachi replied, but Satsuki shook her head.

            “Don’t lie to me, niisan. I’m here for you. I always will be,” She told him, leading him to the bed. Itachi sighed.

            “I need a shower first. Then… we’ll rest.”

            Sasuke nodded, and sat down to wait. When Itachi emerged from the shower, looking slightly more awake, he kissed him. He lay down, and Sasuke gently coaxed him to arousal, easing him into the act. By the second round, his earlier tiredness had disappeared, and by the third, his chakra level was much closer to normal. Satisfied, Sasuke gave him a tender kiss, and Itachi pulled him close.

            “I love you, Satsuki.”

            “I love you too, Itachi. Forever…”

 

            Dinner was a quiet affair. Itachi found bread, cold meats that were recognizably not human, lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese in the refrigerator, and assembled sandwiches for the two of them. On the way back to their room, he passed Mahri sulkily eating a frozen dinner. He ignored her. Mahri glared at his retreating back. Who did he think he was? It was rumored that he and his sister had slaughtered all of the ninja in the Uchiha Clan. So what? She had killed shinobi from dozens of clans! So his pretty eyes could cast genjutsu. Well, she’d shown him that she could break out of any damn illusion he cast! Next time they fought, she’d blind him – see how well he did then! And then she’d break him. A smile curved her lips. He was rather pretty…

 

            “Taijutsu tonight,” Itachi announced once the two of them were ensconced within the Garden of Paradise. Sasuke did not protest, knowing that everything Itachi did was for a reason. Itachi increased the gravity to double normal, and then got into a fighting stance. Sasuke did the same, and then Itachi was upon him. Punch, block, kick, dodge, a throw, break the fall… the variations were endless, and of course they kept their dojutsu active the entire time. Again and again the two of them circled each other, and when Tsukuyomi ended, Sasuke cast it again. Four rounds of Tsukuyomi later, Itachi declared that was enough, despite Sasuke’s remaining chakra reserves. They ended their evening by engaging in bout of passionate lovemaking, before sleep claimed them both.

 

            “Uchiha Itachi! I challenge you!” Mahri declared the next morning at breakfast. Itachi glanced up from his toast, expressionless.

            “What are you doing?” Sasuke asked. “He hasn’t recovered from his mission yet. It would be unfair of you to fight him when he is clearly at a disadvantage.”

            “Shove a couple of soldier pills down his throat and he’ll be fine,” Mahri dismissed. “Besides, I want to fight the murderer of the Uchiha Clan.”

            “Technically, we killed our family together.” Sasuke pointed out, reasonably. “So we’re both murderers.”

           

            “I’m not interested in you,” Mahri spat. “You’re just a weakling who got in because your big brother protected you.”

            Sasori glanced up from where he was repairing a puppet. This woman judges too much by appearance, he thought in disgust. She is the type who will die young.

            Hidan glanced over at Kakuzu, who was counting his money. A sudden thought crossed his mind, and he grinned, slowly. “Want to make a bet then, gorgeous?”

            Mahri looked him up and down. He wasn’t that bad-looking himself – silver hair, bare-chested…  “What kind of a bet, handsome?”

            “500,000 ryo,” Hidan said. “If you win… If you lose, you’ll spend the next two weeks in my bed, doing whatever I want.”

            Mahri scoffed. “You’re full of yourself. 5,000,000 ryo and you’ve got yourself a deal.”

            Kakuzu continued counting, chuckling inwardly. Perhaps this would keep Hidan out of his hair for the next two weeks…

 

            Pein gave the all-clear, telling them to find a nice, open area outside and after giving Satsuki the warning to please not kill Mahri. He did not give Mahri the same warning, trusting that Satsuki could take care of herself. Of course, Mahri was unaware of this.

            The rest of the Akatsuki trooped outside to watch. Kisame brought a huge tub of buttered popcorn, seemingly unconcerned by the whole event. Itachi was holding a soda. Hidan was leering at her while Kakuzu continued to count his money. Konan had even set up a lawn chair and was sunbathing in a little red-cloud bikini and sunglasses. Mahri was somewhat nonplussed by their attitude. Did they think so little of her? She noticed that at least Satsuki was wearing some sort of mesh armor underneath her cloak. It wouldn’t protect her. Well, she’d show them! She’d show them! She’d show all of them!

           

            “Shall we begin?” Sasuke asked politely.

            Mahri responded by charging at him. Sasuke dodged to the side; his form blurring. Mahri remembered how she had beat up Itachi, and pressed her advantage, landing a punch solidly into the girl’s stomach, only to curse as it turned to mud. An earth clone, she thought in disgust, blasting it apart with lightning. That was when her back blistered with heat, her leather armor only partially protecting her from the intense heat of the Fuuton-fueled grand fireball Sasuke had spat at her. The leather threatened to split and crack, but Mahri ignored the pain, closing the distance between the two of them with a body flicker and jabbing her fingers as hard as she could into the girl’s eyes, blinding her with a feeling of glee. Satsuki screamed in agony, blood running down her face.

            “Not so much of a ninja without your fancy eyes, are you?” Mahri taunted.

            Suddenly, she was impaled through the chest and abdomen with razor-sharp wooden spikes in a half dozen places.

            “I never rely solely on my eyes in a fight,” The real Satsuki said, walking up behind her. “I didn’t hit any of your vital spots, but I could have. Do you surrender?”

           

            Itachi asked Kisame to pass the popcorn.

            Kisame handed over the tub, stuffing another handful into his mouth.

           

            “As if… this could stop me!” Mahri roared, a blinding white aura surrounding her. The wooden spikes popped out of her body, as her wounds closed up instantly. A pair of feathered white wings sprouted from her shoulders. Her leather armor split and cracked, falling off of her, leaving her barely clad in ragged scraps of cloth. Hidan smiled even more widely. Free show!

            So, she has instant healing, and flight, Sasuke thought as he studied her chakra levels. Well then, there was no need to hold back.

 

            He dodged a fully formed water dragon, followed by a blast of hurricane force winds. He noticed the way her eyes dilated before each blast. Fire and lightning were what she had used when she fought Kisame and Itachi; clearly in this state she added water and wind as well. She might have earth as well. All right, he could assume she was proficient with all five types of nature transformation, but perhaps not skilled enough to combine them.

            “Run, little girl!” Mahri laughed, as she flew into the air, shooting off blast after blast, technique after technique, while Sasuke’s Sharingan spun, cataloguing every move, every action, every potential weakness, even the enormous pink crystals and the concentrated rays of what looked like pure light.

            The first thing to do with a bird, Sasuke thought, is to clip its wings. With that in mind, he started barraging her with his hyouton techniques. Mahri, obviously, countered with katon, not knowing that with each massive fire technique she used, she was heating up the atmosphere. Sasuke smirked inwardly. It was the perfect setup for Kirin, and she was doing all the work for him… lightning always struck the highest point first…

 

            Konan started setting up her umbrella.

            Kakuzu grumbled as he folded up all the paper money and started heading inside.

            Hidan licked his lips.

            Kisame didn’t mind the rain anyway.

           

            Sasuke finished with an extra large wave of ice. Mahri, of course, went overboard, practically lighting the sky on fire. The expression of shock on her face as the first thunderbolt struck her dead center and sent her plummeting to the ground was one Sasuke would cherish for the rest of his life. A moment later, the rain started. Just to be sure, Sasuke summoned the Kiba blades and gave her a few more a few more jolts for good measure.

            “That’s enough,” Pein said, flickering to Konan’s side with another umbrella. “The match is over.”

            Sasuke bowed and went over to Itachi, who patted her on the shoulder. Hand in hand, they walked back to the base together. Hidan, meanwhile, approached Mahri with a huge grin on his face.

            “I hope you still have energy, sweetheart…”

Chapter Text

Pein graciously allowed Hidan to enjoy his reward. Kakuzu was sent out alone instead. It was an assassination, and one the former Waterfall ninja had no problem accomplishing. Mahri, meanwhile, was seriously reconsidering her choice to join the Akatsuki. Hidan might be handsome, but he was abusing his immortality and her healing abilities! Worse yet, he was obviously attracted to her, while she didn’t feel the same way about him! Why couldn’t it have been Itachi? Well, she’d have him soon enough! She just had to endure these two weeks…

 

            Two days later, Sasori and Satsuki left on a mission, followed by Kisame and Itachi the day after. Mahri seethed, but she endured, and she plotted. As she had hoped, Kisame and Itachi returned earlier than Sasori and Satsuki did. It was time to put her plan into motion…

            “Itachi-san,” She turned to face him.

            “Suzuki-san,” His voice was emotionless.

            “I…” She looked down shyly, projecting an air of modest innocence. “I apologize for my words and actions when we last interacted. I was… not myself.”

            “Your apologies are noted.” He stated tonelessly.

            Mahri was somewhat taken aback. That was not at all what she had expected! Did he not feel anything for her?

            “Nonetheless,” Mahri continued. “I feel as though I must offer a… token of my abject apologies, Itachi-san.”

            “You should apologize to Satsuki instead,” He said, turning his back to her.

            Mahri almost screamed in frustration. What was wrong with him? Here she was, practically offering herself, dressed in her loveliest mother-of-pearl silk yukata, draped invitingly open, and he was ignoring it?

            Desperate times called for desperate measures. One dose of her pheromones could put any man under her spell for the next twenty-four hours. She rose, grabbed Itachi’s shoulder, and kissed him. Only… he seemed a lot bulkier than he had been a moment earlier.

            Kisame’s eyes bulged in surprise, and then his mind clouded over. With a growl, he grabbed Mahri, threw her over his shoulder, and made a beeline towards his room as Mahri realized what a horrible mistake she had made. Substitution… her mind thought in a panic. No!

 

            The next morning, Satsuki and Sasori returned from their mission.

            “Welcome home, Satsuki.” Itachi greeted her.

            Satsuki gave him a brief kiss. “Thank you, niisan.” She looked around the curiously empty breakfast table. “Where’s Kisame?”

            “He’s otherwise occupied.” Itachi said, pulling out a chair for her. Satsuki shrugged and sat down, helping herself to scrambled eggs and bacon and pancakes.

           

            When dinner rolled around and Kisame had still not emerged, Sasuke was a little confused. It was unlike Kisame to miss so many meals. He shrugged, helping Itachi carry the large pot of nabeyaki udon they had made to the communal dining area. They were finishing dinner when Kisame finally showed his head, looking somewhat exhausted but grinning widely.

            “I hope you saved some for me,” He said, commandeering the rest of the pot and digging in with a hungry expression.

            Sasuke glanced over at Itachi again. Maybe it was better not to know… They were leaving the dining room when Mahri stumbled in, looking like death warmed over. Sasuke put two and two together very quickly, and snickered.

            Mahri shot him a glare of pure venom, but it fell to the floor with an audible plop.

            “Anytime you need a real monster, I’m always here for you, honey,” Kisame sang out.

            Sasuke and Itachi exchanged a glance, and left before the fireworks started.

 

            Four days later, Mahri finally succeeded. One drop of her saliva was enough to render the recipient addicted to her body, and extremely susceptible to her commands. There was no chakra involved, and no poison. Itachi never even noticed it in his tea. After that, asking him to bring her to his room and make love to her was child’s play. Having Satsuki walk in on them was just the icing on the cake.

 

            Sasuke could not believe his eyes when he saw Itachi and that woman together. There must be some mistake. He rubbed his eyes, activating his Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan, but it was no illusion. He suppressed his chakra, and used Kai. He wanted to pull them apart and demand an explanation even as he felt his heart shatter, but instead, he turned around and walked out, silently. If this was what his brother wanted… if that was what Itachi needed… then he would not interfere.

            Itachi watched Satsuki leave, wishing he could cry out and explain the situation to her. His body seemed to have a mind of its own, the lust burning through his veins, but he felt no love for Mahri, even as his hips moved mechanically in a harsh rhythm and she moaned above him, gazing into his eyes with an adoring expression on her face. No, it was not adoration, he corrected, it was satisfaction, that of a child playing with her favorite toy, perhaps, or a woman with her new pet.

 

            Sasuke left the base, heedless of the silent tears that streaked his cheeks. It was not until he felt the sharp edge of the kunai against his wrist that he realized what he had been about to do. What was he doing? He was a shinobi, or at least a kunoichi, not a weeping tragic heroine in one of those trashy romance novels! His eyes hardened as he considered the facts.

            Fact: Itachi’s behavior had been normal up to the night before, considering they had made love in a perfectly normal manner after a day of training. Nothing in their routine had been altered in the least.

            Fact: Itachi had never shown the slightest interest in Suzuki Mahri before and had rebuffed her indiscreet advances on more than one prior occasion.

            Fact: Suzuki Mahri’s powers were still an unknown factor, but it was known that at least one of her powers involved manipulating men, as had been proven with Kisame. Kisame had explained that while she was attractive, he had not quite been himself during their encounter.

            Hypothesis: Suzuki Mahri was using an undefined power to rape Itachi, and would undoubtedly continue to do so until he figured out how to break it.

            Sasuke washed his face in a nearby steam, and then headed to Orochimaru’s former laboratory to do research.

 

            Itachi struggled against her, but whatever method Mahri was using to control him sapped not only his physical strength, but also his chakra. It was as though she were using the opposite technique Satsuki used to boost his chakra when they made love. Instead, she was like a leech, draining his vitality as she rode him. “Don’t worry, Itachi-kun,” She cooed as she stroked his face. “I’ll take care of you from now on… I’m strong enough to protect us both…”

            “I don’t need your protection…” He hissed.

            “Oh, but you do. You’ll understand just how much you need me now,” Mahri purred, giving him a wet kiss. “You’ll see soon enough.”

 

            “Suzuki Clan…” Sasuke muttered as he searched through Orochimaru’s library. Unfortunately, there was no mention of said Clan. He sighed in frustration, before turning his attention to the medical texts. Well, if there were no way to neutralize her technique; that left neutralizing her. That fast healing of hers had to have a weakness… he flipped open a molecular biology textbook, and began to review the cell cycle, the beginnings of a plan forming in his mind.

           

            Itachi soon found out what Mahri meant. The first day she left him alone after several days of exhausting, filthy, fornication, he had felt only relief. The second day, he had felt a peculiar ache, almost a craving for her. He had ignored it. By the third day, he had been in excruciating agony, and even Satsuki’s gentle touch and warm body had brought no relief. The experimental injection she had given him had not helped with the pain, either. Mahri had addicted him to her, through what method, he knew not, and to his shame, he had to give in. But Satsuki had only kissed him, and told him she loved him, before leaving him to beg that woman, even as she laughed in triumph.

 

            Forgive me, Satsuki, Itachi thought, as Mahri led him off to her room. Forgive me… my precious, perfect little sister, the only one I love. When this is over, you may punish me however you choose, and even if you never want to see me anymore, even if you hate me… I will accept it.

 

            It tore his heart apart, seeing his perfect older brother, his lover, have to beg and crawl to that disgusting whore, that worm. It hurt to use Itachi as a weapon, a tool, just as Konoha had used him, used them, to carry out the Massacre. But this time, Sasuke thought, I am doing it for him. Nonetheless, he still felt guilty. Forgive me, Itachi, he thought. When this is over, I will take any punishment you see fit, even if you hate me and never want to see me anymore… I will accept it.

 

            Twelve days and two missions later, later, Sasuke challenged Mahri to another battle.

            “I want my brother back.”

            “You’re a fool,” Mahri replied. “Can’t you see that he can’t live without me? You would condemn him to an early death just so you can continue an immoral, incestuous liaison? What kind of love is that?”

            “Addicting him to your body is equally as bad, if not worse.” Sasuke replied quietly. “And if Itachi had a choice, I think he would prefer the early death.”

           

            The assembled Akatsuki members glanced at Itachi. He was pale, and noticeably thinner. There were dark shadows under his eyes. His hair fell limp and lank over his shoulders, his hands trembled slightly. His chakra levels were severely depleted, and he honestly did not look like he could last much longer. So far, Pein had not interfered, but it had only been a matter of time. It was clear Mahri had worn out her welcome.

            “Can’t you just accept the fact that I’m more powerful than you?” Mahri snapped. “If it hadn’t been for that cheap trick and him stopping the fight…”

            “Then fight me again,” Sasuke replied.

            Mahri thrust Itachi aside. Kisame caught him, feeling the sharp edge of his shoulder blades. Konan went to get a blanket, Sasori muttered something about humans needing basic necessities like food and sleep and Hidan went to heat up whatever leftovers they had lying around. Pein fixed a sharp glare on Mahri. This time, there was no warning.

 

            Mahri transformed instantly, coating herself in pink crystal armor from her Crystal Release, including her pure white wings. She had learned, Sasuke thought, but it would not be enough. Lightning crackled through the sky as he summoned the Kiba blades. Fire followed, as he struck her with both fire and lightning, again and again. Mahri laughed, countering with wind and water. Even if only a few strikes made it through, even if her injuries healed instantly, it did not matter.

            Sasuke swapped the Kiba blades for Shibuki, unrolling a roll of explosive tags from the blastsword. Kisame emitted a low whistle. “Now where did she get that?” He wondered out loud. Mahri didn’t bother to fly into the air, forming a crystal barrier as a series of explosive tags went off. Idiot girl! What did she think she was doing? Let her blow up everything! A few pieces of crystal flaked off, chipping her face, but as usual, she healed without a thought. Mahri was so distracted that she didn’t notice Sasuke emerging from underneath her feet until Amaterasu enveloped her in flames.

            Mahri screamed as she tried to put out the flames. Sasuke didn’t let up his lightning attacks while she deluged herself with high powered water jutsu for ten minutes before the flames went out. He didn’t comment on the improbability of putting out Amaterasu – it was one of those oddities about her that defied reality, as was the fact that she really should have died from electrocution with all the electricity he was pumping into her. Nonetheless, with his Sharingan on, he could at least see that his primary goal had been accomplished.

            “You are really pissing me off, bitch!” Mahri yelled as she fired an enormous bolt of rainbow colored energy at him. Sasuke summoned Susanoo just in time, wincing as the armored giant shuddered and staggered back from the force of the blow. With his Sharingan on, he could see that it was a mixture of wind, water, fire, lightning and earth chakra, mixed with yin and yang release. What the hell was going on? Well, how she had managed that he had no idea. Unfortunately, his Susanoo was equipped with neither the Yata Mirror, which could reflect any attack, nor the Sword of Totsuka, which could seal any monster.

            All right, Sasuke thought. Calm down and think about this rationally. Maybe Mahri had a third level to her power, kind of like the Cursed Seal had two levels. Assume she can now wield every type of nature transformation and yin and yang release. You are up against a superior opponent who has better taijutsu and ninjutsu. Your visual genjutsu is mostly ineffective. Surrender is not an option. What do you do?

            Her weak point is definitely her pride. She falls into traps easily. She ignores wounds because of her nearly instantaneous healing ability. Poison might work but it would take too long, I need to incapacitate her quickly… or….

            “You’re not looking too pretty yourself,” Sasuke taunted back, dismissing Susanoo.

            “What are you talking about?” Mahri sneered.

            “Why don’t you take a good look at your arm?” Sasuke smirked.

            Mahri frowned, glancing down at her arm. It should be flawless, pale skin, but… to her horror, there was a mole! Two moles! And a blemish! “What did you do to me?” She screamed, lashing out with another huge blast of energy, which Sasuke barely dodged.

            “You did it to yourself…” The black-haired teen replied.

            Mahri howled in rage, chakra surrounding her in a visible corona as she launched attack after attack at him. As she did so, her topmost layers of skin incinerated and repaired themselves numerous times, becoming more and more discolored as she attacked in a frenzy.

           

            “What’s happening to her?” White Zetsu asked.

            “How should I know?” Black Zetsu replied.

            Sasori smiled to himself. “Very clever, Satsuki…”

            “Hey, Sasori, care to share what’s going on with the rest of us?” Kisame asked. Itachi had finally gotten some food into him, and was watching the battle, entranced.

            “It’s very simple,” Sasori explained. “Humans heal when their cells divide to make new cells. But to divide properly, the cells must have a perfect copy of their DNA. Otherwise, they replicate improperly and eventually become cancer cells…”

            “You mean…” Hidan stared at Mahri, who no longer looked so pretty.

            “Exactly,” Sasori replied. “Sasuke must have destroyed Mahri’s DNA and the repair enzymes with those fire and electrical attacks, so every time she heals herself; her body is slowly being replaced by cancer cells.”

 

            Mahri was nearly incoherent, neither realizing how greedily the cancer cells were consuming her chakra, nor how fast they were spreading deeper down through her skin into her flesh and bone. All she knew was that she would make this girl pay! With his Sharingan, Sasuke saw all, but his chakra supply was diminishing as well, what with the amount it took to dodge her powerful techniques. He swallowed another handful of soldier pills and called Susanoo back into existence before a huge meteor plummeted from the atmosphere and would have pulverized him.

            “Take this!” Mahri screamed. Two more meteors streaked down at him. At the same time, he could still see the continuing abnormal growth in two of her coronary arteries. Please, Sasuke silently begged. Hurry…

            The two flaming meteorites smashed into Susanoo, and it started to dissolve. Sasuke flickered to another location, before narrowly escaping the tree coming to life. Just what the hell was Mahri? Desperate, now, he started to hum. Mahri ignored it of course, still trying to reduce him to atoms and not doing a terribly poor job at it. Sasuke hissed as he didn’t quite dodge the next blast and felt his left arm break in at least two places. Not good, not good at all… Mahri was on him in a second, pummeling him with brute force, and Sasuke kept humming through the pain, spinning the illusion of her as a hideous crone.

            Mahri looked down at herself and screamed, charging herself up with an amazing amount of chakra, both to heal and to blast him to atoms with her final attack. He wasn’t going to make it, Sasuke realized with a sudden burst of clarity. Even with the Rinnegan’s power to absorb ninjutsu, there was just far too much energy for him to possibly absorb. As Mahri screamed her defiance to the skies, he closed his eyes. Sorry, Niisan, he thought. I tried…

            The beam of light was so powerful he could see it even through his eyelids. Curiously enough, however, he didn’t feel any pain. In fact, he felt rather warm and comfortable. When he finally dared open his eyes, he saw Itachi holding him, Susanoo glowing protectively around both of them, just as Mahri finally keeled over from a massive heart attack.

            “Foolish little sister,” Itachi said, his voice cracking. “Don’t you ever do anything like that again.” Then, he kissed him.

            Sasuke accepted the kiss, and then promptly passed out.

End Chapter

Started 3/8/16

Completed 3/8/16

Chapter Text

Itachi carried Satsuki to their room himself. Pure, sweet, innocent Satsuki, who had fought and killed Mahri to protect him… she was exhausted, her skin clammy and cold. Chakra depletion, he thought. No matter how many of those soldier pills she had consumed, Mahri had been inhumanly strong, and Satsuki had not used her Rinnegan powers. He ran a bath to warm her, joining her and gently cleaning her. He set the bones in her arm and tightly bandaged them, with a touch of healing chakra. Medicine was not his forte, but it would do for the moment until she could tend her wounds herself. He warmed her with his body heat and pulled the blankets over both of them, to keep her safe and cozy.

            “Niisan…” Satsuki cuddled closer in her sleep, and Itachi was content.

 

            Sasuke slept for almost twenty-four hours after the ordeal. When he woke, it was to a full bladder and the feeling of his stomach trying to devour his spine. He found Itachi awake already, watching him with an unreadable expression.

            “You’re awake.” Itachi spoke. “Do you need anything?”

            “Some food would be nice,” Sasuke replied, sliding out from underneath the sheets and making his way to the bathroom. His nudity did not bother him – Itachi had seen it all before. The agony in his left arm reminded him of what exactly had transpired. “And maybe some painkillers,” He admitted grudgingly. He had won, but he had almost no chakra. So, once he got some food, and the painkillers, and maybe a soldier pill, he and Itachi definitely needed some time together.

            Itachi returned a few minutes later with a tray loaded with food and a bottle of painkillers. Sasuke eyed it, surprised.

            “Konan cooked,” Itachi explained with a smile. “And I got these from Sasori.”

            “Thank you,” Sasuke smiled. He had to force himself to eat slowly. He took two of the tablets, washing them down with a glass of water. Itachi frowned a little when Satsuki downed two soldier pills after the meal as well, but said nothing. He watched as her Sharingan flared to life as she examined his handiwork on her arm, watched as she directed healing chakra towards the broken bones. There wasn’t enough to repair them completely, but she could accelerate the process somewhat.

 

            Sasuke turned to Itachi. Before they did anything, he had to confess. He had to admit just how shamefully he had abused his older brother, the person he had claimed to love. “Itachi-san,” He began, seeing the surprise in Itachi’s eyes. “I… have no right to call you brother anymore.”

            “Satsuki,” Itachi gazed at his sister. What had gotten into her? “I should be the one apologizing, not you-.” Sasuke cut him off by placing a finger on his lips.

            “I lied to you, Itachi-san.” He continued, ruthlessly. “That injection that I gave you to help with the pain contained two ingredients, neither of which were painkillers. One was a viral strain, specifically designed to evade the immune system and deliver a nonfunctional copy of the gene encoding the telomerase enzyme to every cell in Mahri’s body, through your seminal fluid.”

            Itachi’s eyes widened. “But… this is a transformation technique,” He protested. “I don’t actually produce semen…”

            “Exactly, Itachi-san,” Sasuke continued, eyes dark despite the Sharingan. “That is what the second ingredient in the injection was for. It was an experimental drug that would make a henge reality, on the cellular level.”

            “And what was the survival rate of this experimental drug?” Itachi asked quietly.

            Satsuki’s haunted eyes met his. “Twenty percent.”

 

            Itachi watched, silently, as Satsuki stripped off her clothing. She summoned her swords – the Kiba blades, Nuibari, Shibuki and Kabutowari and laid them aside. She deactivated her Sharingan, and then knelt as his feet. He watched as she pulled a kunai from his pouch, and placed it across her throat, the hilt in his hand. Then, she looked up at him, and waited.

            He could hear her words, even if she did not speak them. I betrayed you, she whispered in his mind. I will take any punishment you deliver. My body, my weapons, my eyes, my very life – they are all yours. Take what you want, take what you need. You need give nothing back… I don’t deserve anything.

            The edge of the kunai bit into his skin. Sasuke tried to remain still. So Itachi had decided to kill him slowly. Against his will, tears trickled from the corners of his eyes. Slowly, he felt the kunai being withdrawn. He felt Itachi’s warm tongue trace the thin line the blade had cut into his pale skin, lapping up his blood slowly. He could not suppress an involuntary shiver. What was his brother – no, not his brother, he didn’t deserve to call Itachi brother anymore – doing? The tears blurred his vision, so it was not until he felt the gentle kiss at the corner of his eye that he realized what was happening. Itachi was kissing him. Itachi was kissing his tears away. His perfect older brother was kissing him.

            Sasuke could not understand it. Why wasn’t Itachi hitting him? Why wasn’t Itachi angry? Why wasn’t he hurting him like he deserved? He jerked away, but Itachi caught him. Instead of punishing him for trying to get away, Itachi kissed him again, soft, feathery kisses trailing down his neck and shoulders. Sasuke struggled harder, but Itachi caught his wrists and pinned him down, his other hand going down to undo his pants. Sasuke saw the Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan activate in Itachi’s eyes, and inwardly, relaxed. Finally, it was going to happen.

            It hurt when Itachi penetrated him, but Sasuke welcomed the pain. Only, Itachi didn’t rape him. Itachi went slowly, so slowly Sasuke knew it must be torture for his brother. Itachi was hard, and his heart ached for him. “Why?” Sasuke demanded, unable to keep silent. “I’m yours, to use as you please… Why won’t you take what you want?”

            “Satsuki…” Itachi finally spoke. “This isn’t what I want.”

            Sasuke’s eyes widened, finally hearing what Itachi wasn’t saying.

            I don’t want your body, or your weapons, or your eyes, or even your life, Sasuke, Itachi whispered in his mind. I want you. I want my precious little brother who loves me. I don’t want your guilt, or your shame, or your condemnation, or your self-flagellation. I forgive you. I love you unconditionally, and I accept you just the way you are. Come back to me, Sasuke. Let me love you, and love me in return… just the way we were before.

           

            “Niisan,” Sasuke whispered, Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan activating as he stared into Itachi’s eyes, finally seeing the love shining there, instead of just the dojutsu.

            “Satsuki,” Itachi released her wrists. She immediately wrapped her arms around him, pulling him close, capturing his lips in a hungry kiss. Itachi felt the fist clenched around his heart loosen, accepting the kiss with relief, and what came after.

            Sasuke held Itachi close, never, ever wanting him to leave again.

            Itachi held Satsuki even closer, never, ever wanting her to think about doing such a thing again.

           

            When they finally emerged, Satsuki’s arm was fully healed and their chakra levels were even higher than before. No one commented. Sasori just smiled and showed off his new puppet, named Mari-Su for short, Mahri Suzuki being too long and complicated to pronounce in a hurry. Both of them managed a smile at that.

 

            Three years had passed in swift succession since they had come to this dimension. Since the disastrous introduction of Mahri Suzuki, no other permanent member had replaced her in the Akatsuki. Oh, there had been dozens of hopefuls, but none of them had lasted in single combat against any of the Akatsuki members. Satsuki had left the challenge by combat to the older and more experienced members of the Akatsuki, occasionally Itachi, wearing a henge so she would not be singled out. She preferred to stay in the shadows. There would even be a few foolish enough to challenge Sasori’s Mari-Su puppet. Those died the fastest.

            Satsuki continued her missions with Sasori. In her free time, she continued her medical studies and research. She might never surpass Kabuto or Tsunade of the Sannin, but she was going to be a damned good medic-nin all the same. She didn’t experiment on humans, and certainly not on herself, but she did plenty of studies on mice and monkeys and cell lines.

           

            Itachi and Kisame were being sent out to capture the Kyuubi. He had graduated a year early, placed on a team with Uchiha Sasuke, and Haruno Sakura, under the leadership of Hatake Kakashi. Some things, it seemed, did not change. The real Sasuke had decided to tag along. Part of it was curiosity. After all, he had not seen his wood clone in three years. Another part of it was out of pity. After all, when Naruto was captured, he would be a prisoner of the Akatsuki…

            Team Seven was going on a mission to Ishigakure to deliver medical supplies to a town stricken by disease. The attack came without warning. The Mokuton clone that had faithfully played Uchiha Sasuke for three years was the first to fall, swallowed within the black flames of Amaterasu. It burned to ashes beneath its creator’s emotionless eyes. Haruno Sakura was next. Despite her above-average intelligence and excellent chakra control, she was still a Genin. She was trapped in genjutsu before she knew what had happened.

            “Sakura-chan! Sasuke!” Naruto screamed. “Kakashi-sensei, what’s going on?”

 

            Kakashi had already revealed his Sharingan eye, spotting the three figures in the trees. “Uchiha Itachi… and Uchiha Satsuki…” He said slowly. “And you… must be part of Akatsuki as well…”

            Kisame snorted. “So I’m not as well-known? I’m wounded.” He lifted Samehada off his shoulder. “Just hand over the brat.”

            “Me,” Naruto’s eyes widened. He looked over at the smoldering remains of what had been Sasuke. He looked over at the dazed Sakura-chan. His eyes turned red, fingers curving into claws as he dropped down onto all fours. “I’ll kill you!”

 

            “Naruto, no!” Kakashi tried to grab the excitable ninja, but Naruto had already summoned up the Kyuubi’s chakra cloak. He charged at the three ninja. Kisame laughed as Samehada drank up the chakra greedily, leaving Naruto stunned. “W-What…”

            Itachi’s eyes flashed, trapping Naruto in Tsukuyomi. Naruto was inept even against basic genjutsu. He had no chance of breaking out of this one. Satsuki injected him with a muscle paralytic and then took off, leaving Itachi and Kisame to deal with Kakashi. Kakashi was already moving, having formed two shadow clones to protect Sakura. She was not the target, after all. He frowned as he watched the younger Uchiha escaping with Naruto. Clearly, she was the weakest, but to get to her, he would have to take down the other two…

            Mist filled the area. Itachi let Kisame take the lead, not particularly keen on fighting against a fellow Konoha shinobi. He watched idly as Kakashi’s kunai clashed against Samehada, causing Kakashi to stumble back as Samehada shaved into his flesh. Kakashi’s Wind Release: Great Breakthrough did clear some of the mist, but Kisame easily canceled out his following grand fireball with a water bullet. Kisame was toying with him, waiting for him to run out of chakra, and when Kakashi summoned his ninken and had them pin Kisame down, spearing him through the heart with chidori, there was a corpse – but it was not Kisame.

           

            Dozens of miles away, the real Kisame canceled the technique. The real Itachi did as well. The real Satsuki, carrying the real Naruto, walked back to the two of them. She unceremoniously tossed him to Kisame, who picked him up, draping him over Samehada.

            “Well done, Satsuki.”

            “Whatever,” She said, turning to Itachi. “Can we head back now?”

            Itachi smiled at his impatient little sister. “How much of the paralytic did you give him?”

            “Enough to knock him out for a few days at least, even taking his healing factor into account,” Sasuke replied. “And I placed the seal over his stomach just the way Leader-sama instructed us to.”

            Itachi double-checked her work, before nodding. “Let’s go.”

           

Fanon Dimension

 

            “So, has any progress been made?” Tobirama asked Nara Shikaku.

            “Hokage-sama, please, it has only been three weeks!” Shikaku replied. “We did attempt the same technique we used to bring them back previously, but it was a failure. The only thing that happened was making our…guests more unstable.”

            Tobirama sighed. “Well, thank you for your honesty…”

 

            Back at the Uchiha compound, Mikoto and Fugaku were attempting to comfort a sobbing Itachi while medics worked over a near-comatose Satsuki. It was clear that while Shikaku’s team had achieved some sort of connection, instead of bringing back their Itachi and Satsuki, they had gotten yet another Itachi and Sasuke by mistake…

           

End Chapter

Started 3/8/16

Completed 3/9/16

Chapter Text

When Sasuke regained consciousness, he was lying next to his father and mother’s dead bodies. He activated his Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan, feeling Itachi’s chakra signature nearby. He was in his male body again, his eight year old male body to be precise. Fortunately, he could feel the seals on his skin, engraved in his soul, carrying all his important weapons and medical supplies. He flickered to where Itachi was. “Niisan…”

            Itachi blinked awake in a standing position. He absentmindedly registered that his hands were surprisingly clean for having just committed the Uchiha massacre, again, including his parents, this time. He sensed Sasuke’s chakra, noticing the level before it was quickly suppressed, recognizing it as his Satsuki instead of another version before she appeared next to him. He hastily realigned his chakra levels to normal as well, glancing down at her when he heard her speak.

            “What do we do now, niisan?” Sasuke glanced up at him. He couldn’t help but admire how beautiful his brother looked, silhouetted against the full moon. His armor was pristine, not a splash of blood marred his clothing. He was certain Itachi could hear the purr in his voice, never mind how wrong it was coming from such a young boy. Sasuke might be in a child’s body at the moment, but he was far older.

            “You are the only witness,” Itachi looked thoughtful. “Perhaps… a change of plans may be possible.”

            There was a puff of smoke, and the body of a burly, muscular S-ranked missing-nin appeared, another Akatsuki hopeful, appeared. “I would have started studying his kekkei genkai before letting Sasori turn him into a puppet,” Sasuke explained nonchalantly. “His corpse is only two days old, and I can rejuvenate it so it is practically fresh.”

            “We’ll have a little time before the Anbu find you,” Itachi advised. “I’ll go make my report to the Hokage.”

           

            The Anbu found Uchiha Sasuke senseless next to the fallen bodies of his mother and father, the corpse of an unknown ninja nearby. They were very gentle with him. The Hokage arrived with Uchiha Itachi, who explained how this mysterious ninja had broken into the Uchiha compound and slain the members of the Uchiha Clan in rapid succession before Itachi had managed to stop him. The corpse was duly taken to be examined and Sasuke was taken to the hospital. Itachi stayed by his side.

            Sasuke, unfortunately, had to go to counseling, but a Yamanaka did clear him not long afterwards, because Sasuke hid all his foreign memories easily, so there was nothing unusual to find. With Itachi taken placed on medical leave for the time being to recuperate as well, that left him with nothing to do but train himself and Sasuke in his free time. Perfect…

            By the end of the academic year, Sasuke had graduated from the ninja academy.

 

            “Hey bastard, I’m talking to you!” Naruto yelled.

            Sasuke sighed inwardly. He did not have time for this. He wanted to go home, eat dinner with Itachi, and spend some time in the Garden of Paradise training at his full power before celebrating his graduation with Itachi.

            “I am not talking to you, Uzumaki-san.” He replied patiently. Yes, he had told Sakura she was annoying. Yes, she had cried. She would get over it – at least, he hoped she would. This was not his version of Sakura, after all, and he would not be staying here in this dimension long, in any case.

            “How dare you make Sakura-chan cry?” Naruto demanded. “I’m going to beat you up!”

            He really did not have time for this. Sasuke started walking down the street, soon spotting a convenient lamppost. As Naruto passed by it, he cast a genjutsu on the boy, and soon, Naruto was threatening the lamppost with all sorts of grievous bodily harm. Sasuke flickered away before Naruto actually began to attack the lamppost.

 

            His team was much better than he had expected. His Jounin-sensei, Chu Yan, was no one remarkable, but Inuzuka Hana and Hyuuga Kyou had lost their teammate two months back and needed a replacement. It was somewhat implied that they were also there to provide protection for the youngest and presumably weakest of the graduates, but Sasuke ignored that. He had worked with Kiba before, in his home dimension, so he had some inkling of how the Inuzuka Clan fought. And he had also trained with Hinata and Neji to some extent, although he had never met Kyou.  

            “Get ready to work your ass off, Uchiha,” Was what Chu Yan told him on the first day. “They were planning on entering the Chuunin Exams this round, and you’re the weakest link. You’ve got four months to get in shape. No wimpy D-ranks, we’re starting on C-ranks from day one.”
            Sasuke just nodded politely.

 

            Chu Yan was somewhat taken aback. Maybe the boy did not understand him? Or was he not paying attention? He drew out a kunai and attacked. To his surprise, Sasuke moved fluidly to the side and used his momentum to throw him over his shoulder onto the ground. He swept the boy’s leg and Sasuke flipped over, landing in a crouched position, drawing a kunai of his own. Then, his hands blurred in hand seals at an impressive speed for a mere Genin. Chu Yan dodged the grand fireball, and delivered a solid kick to the boy’s stomach, only for him to puff out of existence. A shadow clone – Itachi must have taught him the technique.

            Sasuke was debating just how much to reveal. No Mangekyo Sharingan and no Rinnegan, that was for certain, and certainly none of his combination elemental techniques or medical techniques… maybe just stick to fire techniques, taijutsu and a little genjutsu. So, he began to hum softly, even as he summoned a windmill shuriken and hurled it at his Jounin-sensei. Chu Yan dodged the first one, spotted the second one hidden in its shadow and dodged that one as well, feeling rather contemptuous. He noticed the wires attached to them as well, and only received a shallow cut on one thigh as Sasuke yanked the windmill shuriken back.

            Sasuke waited for the paralytic on the shuriken to kick in as he hauled them back partway before cutting the wires and discarding them. His fingers blurred as he launched another grand fireball towards Chu Yan. Chu Yan scoffed, though he was slightly impressed that Sasuke had made him bleed. Still, a Genin was only a Genin… He slammed his hands down into the earth, summoning up a wall of earth to protect himself. Suddenly, without warning, he found himself trapped in a tangled maze of human bones, the ground oozing blood. But he hadn’t even looked in the boy’s eyes! So how had he succumbed to an illusion? Impatiently, he brought up his hands. “Kai!”

            Only… His arms didn’t seem to want to move. They hung rather limply at his sides. He was finding it hard to breathe, also. His legs seemed to have gone numb. Paralysis… Chu Yan thought dumbly. Was… the shuriken was poisoned?

            The sharp edge of a kunai pressed against his throat. “Yan-sensei,” He recognized Sasuke’s voice. “I have the antidote right here. Do I pass?”

            He managed a nod, and then felt the sharp sting of a hypodermic syringe in his shoulder. Seconds later, he felt the paralysis lifting. He took a deep breath. Nearby, Hana and Kyou were watching Sasuke with newfound respect in their eyes as the Haimaru triplets wagged their tails. Yan certainly understood how they felt all too well.

           

             “What kind of poison was that?” Yan asked, when he finally felt he could sit up without feeling too dizzy.

            “Succinylcholine,” Sasuke shrugged. “It would have worn off on its own soon enough.”

            “Ah,” He conceded the point. “And the genjutsu… I know I never looked in your eyes.”

            “I didn’t use my Sharingan,” Sasuke smirked. “It was sound-based.”

            Yan whistled. Sound-based genjutsu were the most difficult to defend against, as they could work from a long distance away. That was why Sasuke had been humming… he had paid it no attention, assuming it was some quirk. Well, he would not make that mistake again.

            “Sasuke-kun,” He grinned. “Welcome to Team Thirteen.”

           

            Sasuke invited his teammates over for dinner that night. Itachi had made a dish of curry chicken, as well as stir-frying spinach with garlic, and squash with scrambled egg, so there was plenty for them to share. There were even some chicken bones for the Haimaru triplets, much to their delight.

            “How was your first day, Sasuke,” He asked.

            “It was enlightening.” Sasuke replied, picking up his chopsticks. “Yan-sensei made me feel welcome, and my teammates are nice.”

            “Sasuke-kun is very strong and will be a valuable member of our team.” Kyou spoke quietly, helping himself to a serving of curry chicken.

            “He kicked Yan-sensei’s ass!” Hana chuckled, sounding much like her brother Kiba. Itachi glanced over at Sasuke, who blushed.

            “It wasn’t as impressive as it sounds. I got lucky,” He demurred. In other words, Itachi understood it to mean that he did not use the Mangekyo Sharingan, or the Rinnegan, or any of his high-powered elemental techniques but he might have let something slip that he should not have. They would certainly discuss it later.

            They made some more small talk, before the two teammates departed. Once they left, Sasuke’s eyes shifted, and they were alone inside of Tsukuyomi. Itachi watched Sasuke’s memories of the fight with Yan impassively.

            “It was the shadow clone, wasn’t it?” Sasuke asked. “I should not have used that technique…”

            “No, I don’t believe so. I could have taught you that technique and you do have the chakra control to pull it off. We do have a supply of succinylcholine here at the Uchiha compound and it is well known that there were several Uchiha medical ninja. Uchiha also specialize in genjutsu, although sound-based is rare, but you were humming, not singing or playing an instrument. I believe you are safe.”

            Sasuke sighed in relief.

            “What I am more concerned about is the Inuzuka Clan’s ability to sense chakra levels, as well as the Hyuuga Clan’s Byakugan,” Itachi explained. “Your chakra coils are far too well developed for a mere Genin… and you remember that incident with Akamaru…”

            Sasuke frowned. “What am I supposed to do, then?”

            For once, Itachi had no answer.

           

            All right, Sasuke thought. It was time to think about this logically again. During their time in Akatsuki, he had scoured Akatsuki’s library for information on time travel and dimensional travel to see if there was any way they could have gotten back to their home dimension using the same method they had the first time Sarada had made a wish and wished them into her world. Unfortunately, for all their resources, Akatsuki had not boasted the necessary information. Now, Konoha must have some of that information because Nara Shikaku had managed it with the help of their Rinnegan and the Kyuubi’s chakra. And, they had only been transferred from that dimension into this one after the Akatsuki had captured Naruto, who hosted the Kyuubi. Therefore, he and Itachi had to be in close proximity to Naruto before initiating whatever ritual it was. Or, if it were not Naruto, they had to be near the Kyuubi or its host.

            “Niisan,” He looked at Itachi. “You need to do research.”


            “I have been doing research,” Itachi replied patiently. “What do you think I’ve been doing while you’ve been at the Academy all day?”

            “Have you found anything?” He asked anxiously, before feeling foolish. Of course Itachi hadn’t! If he had, they would not still be here!

            “Rumors, mostly,” Itachi replied. “I’ve studied plenty of scrolls, but there is very little information on space-time ninjutsu to begin with…”

            Sasuke rose on his tiptoes, giving Itachi a tight hug. “I’m sorry, niisan.”

            Itachi smiled, kissing Sasuke on the forehead. “I know. I am frustrated as well.”

            Their eyes met, and they began to weave the signs for the Garden of Paradise.

 

End Chapter

Started 3/9/16

Completed 3/9/16

Chapter Text

Sasuke woke up, rather bandaged, with Team Taka gathered around him, frantically trying to wake him up. That was distinctly odd. The last thing he remembered was going to bed with Itachi after an intense session in the Garden of Paradise. Apparently they had shifted dimensions in their sleep again. That meant that today was the day he was supposed to have his final showdown with Itachi. Well, he thought, getting up. It was still going to happen, but certainly not the way Tobi was expecting it to turn out.

            Itachi woke up, barely able to focus his eyes, coughing blood out of his lungs, and found that he was reclining on a cold stone throne, waiting for Sasuke to show up at the old Uchiha hideout. Last night he had gone to bed with an eight-year old Sasuke at age thirteen. Now he was nineteen, on the verge of dying, and waiting for a fifteen-year old Sasuke to kill him. They still had a script to follow, however, so he shifted a little and kept waiting.

            Sasuke arrived and declared his intention to kill Itachi. Itachi declared his intention to steal Sasuke’s eyes. Genjutsu, shuriken, Amaterasu, Tsukuyomi, Kirin and Susanoo were all utilized. Once Orochimaru was gone, Itachi dismissed Susanoo and promptly collapsed. Sasuke flickered to his side, pinned him against the floor, which was technically the ceiling of the building, and kissed him. His hands glowed green with healing chakra as he went to work on Itachi’s lungs, which were the top priority, although it could not be said that Sasuke didn’t take a peek at certain other areas as well, just to make sure that they were in working order.

            Zetsu was suitably confused. Hadn’t Sasuke been out of chakra? Hadn’t Itachi absorbed Orochimaru out of him so he had nothing left? So where had Sasuke got the extra boost from, and why was he currently healing and kissing the man he had just, moments ago, sworn to kill?

             It started to make slightly more sense when Sasuke removed the ninja wire from his wristbands and tied Itachi’s wrists above his head, tying his fingers separately so he would not be able to form seals, when he ripped off Itachi’s clothing and carved the chakra seals into his chest with a kunai. Evidently, Zetsu decided, Sasuke had decided to keep Itachi alive and torture him… Well, he had better go report this new information to Madara… Zetsu disappeared, and a moment later, Sasuke and Itachi had as well.

 

            Ten minutes later, Itachi emerged from the Naraka Path’s King of Hell in what was once Orochimaru’s Southern Hideout, completely healed and, unfortunately, completely clothed as well. Sasuke couldn’t quite hide his disappointment. Itachi smiled as he seated himself on the couch in the room where Sasuke had once recruited Karin. Sasuke couldn’t take it anymore. He grabbed Itachi by the collar of his Akatsuki cloak and kissed him, hard, pressing him back against the couch, letting Itachi feel just how much he needed him. “Niisan…”

            Itachi glanced up at Sasuke through half-lidded eyes that were perfectly clear. “I suppose I’m your prisoner now, Sasuke…” He almost purred, not complaining when Sasuke moved him to the floor, bunching up his Akatsuki cloak and moving it underneath his head and shoulders to cushion him. As if by magic, the ninja wire ties from earlier appeared around his wrists and fingers, binding him ornamentally, if not securely.

            Lubricant, Sasuke thought frantically, roughly spreading Itachi’s legs and yanking his pants and boxers down. He knew he had some sterile surgical lubricant in one of his medical supply kits… of course, it was rather difficult to think through the haze of lust and it took three summoning techniques before he found the right kit. He found a four ounce tube and popped the seal, hastily squeezing some roughly over his engorged member. Fuck preparation, he needed Itachi and he couldn’t wait. He could see that his brother was in a similar state and he thrust into Itachi’s tight entrance, hissing quietly.

            “S-Sasuke,” Itachi groaned, yes it was painful and Sasuke was starting to pound him with absolutely no finesse at all, until he changed the angle and hit that spot right there… hearing Itachi groan made Sasuke adjust his movements so he could thrust properly every time, because even in the throes of pleasure he was trying not to be selfish bastard. He squirted more lubricant onto his hand and wrapped it around Itachi’s stiff cock, greedily stroking it, wanting Itachi to enjoy it as well.

            “Niisan…” He hissed through his teeth, feeling precum running down Itachi’s length, mixing with the lubricant as he basked in the heat of his body and the warmth of his love. Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan met their twin as they gasped, the flames of passion threatening to consume them. Itachi’s back arched as Sasuke thrust into him, hard, and Sasuke could hold on no longer. He keened like a hawk, before collapsing onto his brother, filling him with his seed. Itachi felt Sasuke’s grip tighten, and then the pleasure overwhelmed him as well so he surrendered to it wholly, warmth spreading across his abdomen and over Sasuke’s fingertips.

           

            “So, what do we do now?” Sasuke asked, once they were clean and fed and lying in a sleeping bag together.

            “Akatsuki already has seven of the tailed beasts,” Itachi reminded him. “And Tobi will assume I am… unavailable. He will be sending Pein to Konoha to capture the Kyuubi.”

            “He sent me after the Hachibi, but I’m unavailable.” Sasuke mused to himself. “Perhaps he’ll send Kisame, instead…”

            “That is a possibility,” Itachi conceded.

            “Last time, something happened to Tsunade, so Danzo was elected Hokage and attended the Five Kage Summit, which is why I attacked them to try to kill him,” Sasuke reminisced thoughtfully. “He was also the one who declared me a missing-nin.”

            “Do you still intend to kill Danzo?” Itachi asked.

            “Do you?” Sasuke countered. “You killed the Clan on his orders.” Then, he looked down. “But so did I,” He added in a quiet whisper, staring at his hands.

            “Sasuke…” Itachi pulled him closer, embracing him. “Don’t speak about it anymore tonight. We’ll deal with it when the time comes.”

            Sasuke nodded, and closed his eyes.

 

            Two days later, Tsunade was informed that Uchiha Sasuke had returned to the village – with Uchiha Itachi. She immediately summoned him to her office. Uchiha Itachi was closely guarded by four Anbu, who had blindfolded him and tied his hands behind his back.

            “Hokage-sama,” Sasuke said, surprisingly politely. “I have returned.”

            “I can see that,” Tsunade said bluntly. “…With your brother. You were unable to kill him?”

            “Itachi is no longer a danger to the village.” Sasuke explained. “You may bring in a member of the Hyuuga Clan to verify it if you wish.”

            Tsunade made a signal to one of the Anbu, who made a hand sign, activating the Byakugan behind his mask. After a moment, he deactivated his eyes. “It is true, Hokage-sama.” He reported. “There is a seal woven all over his body, into every inch of his chakra network…”

            Sasuke made a hand sign, and Itachi suddenly tensed.

            “Niisan,” Sasuke said quietly. “Come here and give me a kiss.”

            The audience watched in horrified fascination as Itachi visibly struggled against the command, but his body began to move on its own, until he was facing Sasuke. He knelt down and Sasuke tilted Itachi’s chin up, as his brother’s lips met his. Once the kiss broke, Sasuke canceled the technique.

            “You see, Hokage-sama?” He smiled. “No danger at all…”

           

            “You have made your point,” Tsunade said, somewhat shaken. “As I see it, you haven’t actually performed any outright acts of aggression against the Leaf, aside from that incident with Naruto and he’s more than willing to forgive you. You did kill Orochimaru, and you… neutralized Uchiha Itachi. Nonetheless, I’ll have to place you under house arrest for at least the next three months, and you won’t be allowed outside for anything other than D-rank missions, maybe C-rank, after that.”

            “And if Konoha is invaded in that time,” Sasuke pointed out.

            “Then you’ll defend it,” Tsunade replied tightly. “And Itachi will too.”

            “Accepted,” Sasuke said. That was all he had really needed to know, anyway.

 

            The blood seals on the Uchiha Clan compound were still there, just as they were when he had left. Sasuke pricked his finger with a kunai, releasing the ones on the front door. Itachi followed him inside. The air was stale, but a Fuuton technique and opening a few windows soon took care of that problem. Now, there was only the need to clean. Sasuke and Itachi formed a few shadow clones, and soon, the basic tasks were completed. Of course, there was still the problem of having no running water and electricity. The two of them wound up camping out in the living room, cooking dinner in the fireplace.

 

            “Yo!” A voice interrupted Sasuke from his thoughts.

            “Kakashi,” He looked up.

            “You’re back,” His former teacher said lightly. Sasuke had sensed his presence, of course, but had chosen to ignore it. Itachi continued stirring the stew, not saying a word.

            “Did you want to stay for dinner?” Sasuke asked, slightly irritated. He had known they would be watched, of course, but he had not anticipated any watchers actually inside the house.

            “Well, it looks like you made plenty.” Kakashi replied. “So I’ll accept the invitation.”

            “Itachi, go get another bowl,” Sasuke ordered. Itachi rose silently, padding towards the kitchen. Kakashi watched his retreating back thoughtfully. There was something in Itachi’s posture that suggested that he was humoring Sasuke, and it made him uneasy.

           

            A minute later, Itachi returned with a bowl, a spoon, and a pair of chopsticks for him. Kakashi accepted them, still not quite at ease. Itachi returned to Sasuke’s side, and Sasuke ladled out bowls of stew for the three of them, serving Itachi first and himself last.

            The two of them ate slowly, while Kakashi made sure Sasuke wasn’t trying to sneak peeks at his face beneath his mask. He was not. Reassured, Kakashi was able to eat as well. The stew was tasty enough, but still… the way Sasuke watched Itachi… the way Itachi gazed at him in return… there was something there, just under the surface, that made him worry.

            Sasuke served seconds, and then thirds. Kakashi refused a fourth helping.

 

            What they did after dinner was, in Kakashi’s opinion, oddly domestic. Sasuke wanted Itachi to read to him. He brought Itachi a glass of water, a pillow, and a large book of folk and fairy tales, and sat between his legs, his head pillowed against Itachi’s shoulder, looking at the pictures as Itachi quietly read to him for almost two hours. It was surreal.

            Then, Sasuke and Itachi went to brush their teeth. Finally, they went to bed, in Sasuke’s old room.

            Kakashi tried not to imagine why the two of them were sharing a bed, and reminded himself that there was probably a practical reason. Perhaps Sasuke wanted to keep an eye on Itachi. It still seemed rather risky, even with the seal on the elder Uchiha.

            He took the room next door – Itachi’s old room, he thought – and settled in for the night.

 

            “Are you all right, Niisan?” Sasuke asked Itachi, deep within Tsukuyomi.

            “Of course, foolish little brother,” Itachi replied, his eyes gentle. “You could never hurt me, unless I allowed you to.”

            Sasuke smiled, feeling Itachi hold him close. “I know.” Sometimes, though, he just needed to hear Itachi say it.

            With Jiraiya dead, there was no one else who had the skill to discern that the seal on Itachi could be nullified at any time, whenever Itachi willed it.

            Even with the Byakugan, the Hyuuga did not possess the medical knowledge to know that the seal was woven from both Itachi and Sasuke’s blood, and not Sasuke’s alone.

            Even with Tsunade’s medical knowledge, she did not know with the merging of their bodies and souls they had shared countless times, their blood was one.

            Itachi smiled, and captured Sasuke’s lips in a forceful kiss. “Now it’s my turn…”

            Sasuke smiled back.

 

End Chapter

Started 3/9/16

Completed 3/9/16

Chapter Text

The next morning, Kakashi woke when he heard the two of them stirring. “And just where are you two going?” He asked.

            “The bathhouse,” Sasuke explained. “We need a bath and there’s no electricity or running water here.”

            Kakashi conceded that he had a point. He also invited himself along. By now, they were obviously aware of his role as their watcher. Sasuke dug out some reasonably clean towels, soap, and shampoo out of a closet and led the way. Fortunately, there was still some dry wood stacked outside of the bathhouse, and after several trips to the stream, they had enough water accumulated for a wash. Heating it and filling the furo was a simple affair, and of course, there were buckets for them to wash separately first.

            Sasuke stripped off his clothing, clearly not caring about his companions. Itachi followed suit. Kakashi made sure his mask was securely fastened to his face and then joined them. They washed quickly and efficiently, before all heading for the bath.

            Even so, Kakashi couldn’t ignore the way Itachi had stared at Sasuke’s body with a sort of hungry – he would have called it desperation, if he didn’t know better, before it was quickly masked.

            Curious, he thought. When Sasuke left the bath and went to grab his towel and get dressed, he saw it again. For just a second, Itachi’s emotionless façade had cracked, and there had been such an expression of primal need on his face Kakashi was taken back. Then, Itachi got up as well, and Kakashi went to join them. What was going on?

 

            Breakfast was leftover stew from last night. Sasuke wrote out a long list of groceries they needed, and counted out more than enough ryo to pay for all of them, and requested a D-rank mission. He then wrote out messages that needed to be delivered to the electric and water companies, and authorized payment from the Uchiha Clan, another D-rank mission. He summoned a hawk to deliver the messages to the Hokage’s office, and then sat down to wait.

            Kakashi pulled out his copy of Icha Icha tactics and began to read.

           

            Not long afterwards, an electrician showed up. Soon, the lights were back on and the appliances were working again. Sasuke thanked him and paid him for his trouble. Later on in the afternoon, a note was delivered saying that the water supply had been turned on. Itachi tested it. It was true, but the water was somewhat murky after having sat in the pipes for so long. They would have to let it run for a while. So, the water was left running.

            Kakashi noticed with a slight feeling of alarm that Itachi was starting to shake, just slightly. His hands were starting to tremble. “Itachi-san, what’s wrong?”

            “S-Sasuke…” Itachi whispered. “He… did things to me.”

            Kakashi shot a glance at Sasuke, who was reading a scroll, seemingly oblivious to what was happening to his brother. “What did he do?”

            Sasuke rolled up the scroll. “I fought a very interesting kunoichi once,” He began conversationally. “Her name was Suzuki Mahri.” The name was unfamiliar to Kakashi, so he motioned for the teen to continue. Clearly, he had a point.

            “Suzuki Mahri had a particular ability that was discovered after her capture,” Sasuke stated. “She produced a special chemical in her saliva that could alter her opponent’s genetic material on the cellular level. Once introduced, it produced an addiction to her genetic material… for the rest of their life.”

            Kakashi’s eyes widened. “Sasuke, don’t tell me you…”

            Sasuke smiled, rising from his seat, padding towards his bedroom. Without a word, Itachi followed him.

            Kakashi slumped down, closing his eyes. He would have to report this to Tsunade, but that did not mean he would enjoy it.

 

            Itachi knelt between Sasuke’s thighs, bobbing his head up and down on his younger brother’s shaft, slick with a mixture of his saliva and Sasuke’s precum. Sasuke’s fingers twined in his long, dark hair, the grip almost painful, but not quite, as he drank him down with an all-consuming need, hearing Sasuke groan, tasting his bittersweet spent. It was a start, but it was not enough. It was never enough. Sasuke could rape him until he was raw and red inside and still, the ache would never be satisfied.

            “Niisan…” Sasuke’s voice was a quiet purr, as he withdrew from his brother’s mouth. He met Itachi’s eyes, Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan spinning lazily behind the genjutsu that hid them. Kakashi was gone, his eyes spoke. Behind an identical genjutsu, Itachi’s own Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan caught the meaning perfectly, but he leaned forward and slowly, submissively, kissed the tip of Sasuke’s shaft, licking it to capture the last drops of Sasuke’s precious seed. Too risky, the action spoke. Sasuke’s eyes hardened. He got the message.

            Abruptly, he pulled back. He yanked Itachi up by one arm, slamming him against the wall. He harshly jabbed two fingers into Itachi’s unprotected opening, scissoring them roughly, opening him up. Itachi felt a small trickle of chakra as Sasuke prepared himself, and then Sasuke thrust into him. Pain screamed through his body as his brother sank his cock deep inside, tearing him apart. Sasuke’s teeth broke his skin, his nails clawing at his back, like a ravenous beast, as he fucked him like a hole. Itachi struggled against him, but his brother was too strong, and his body betrayed him, reacting despite the agony.

            They were still going at it when Kakashi returned several hours later, Itachi begging for Sasuke’s semen like a whore, Sasuke finally undoing the jutsu that improvised a cock ring and planting his seed deep inside of his brother’s body. The look of slavish joy on Itachi’s face was more than Kakashi could bear. To see a once-proud shinobi reduced to this…

           

            “I didn’t know you were a voyeur, Kakashi,” Sasuke said as he tucked himself back in. “But considering your taste in literature, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.” He gave Itachi a gentle kiss, covering him with the sheet. “I’ll make dinner, niisan.” He promised, before leaving the room.

            Itachi was panting softly, but Kakashi hadn’t missed the bite marks and scratches that covered his neck and shoulders, or the bruises in the shapes of fingerprints on his hips and buttocks. Those were superficial wounds, easily healed, but the emotional scars – Kakashi was much more familiar with those – those would probably never go away.

            “Itachi-san,” Kakashi began.

            Itachi ignored him, closing his eyes.

            After a moment, Kakashi left the room. There was nothing he could say.

 

            Kakashi found Sasuke in the kitchen, washing vegetables in the sink. He was humming quietly as he placed the vegetables in a colander to drain the excess water. On the stove, a kettle was boiling, ready to make tea.

            It was sickeningly normal, as though he had not just raped his older brother, reduced him to a whore.

            Kakashi shook his head to clear it. Sasuke picked up a knife and a head of lettuce, and began to make precise, even chops. Once the lettuce was finished, he moved onto the red cabbage. There were fewer leaves needed. Then there were a few leaves of kale, a touch of carrot, and finally, a tomato, ripe, red, juicy slices, glistening under the blade.       

            Sasuke set the salad aside, and then moved to the stove. He opened a tin of tea leaves, added a precise amount to the teapot. He poured in hot water, allowed the tea to steep. He poured two cups, offered one to Kakashi.

            Kakashi mechanically took one. His mind felt foggy. What had he wanted to talk to Sasuke about again? Itachi… yes, something about Itachi…

 

            “Itachi is no longer a threat to the village, wouldn’t you agree, Kakashi?” Sasuke asked, taking a sip of his tea.

            “No, of course not,” Kakashi replied, taking a sip of his tea in return.

            “Would you like to help me make the rest of dinner?” Sasuke continued, once they finished their tea.

            “Maa, I’ll pass.” Kakashi leaned against the counter, pulling out his copy of Icha Icha Tactics.

            Sasuke nodded. He continued humming as he made the rest of dinner, various types of toasted sandwiches and a clear soup. Kakashi idly wondered when Sasuke had learned to cook. Then again, Sasuke had been cooking for himself back before leaving Konoha, so he had probably improved his skills during his exile. He tried to imagine Orochimaru or Kabuto cooking and shook his head.

 

            Dinner was a quiet affair, as it had been the night before. Afterwards, Kakashi watched as Itachi and Sasuke built a castle out of building blocks, until Sasuke used his stuffed dinosaurs to knock it over. Itachi just smiled indulgently. Kakashi shook his head. All ninja had their quirks, the more powerful the ninja, the odder their quirks. Sasuke’s was surprisingly tame, in this sense.

            The siblings showered separately before bed, and Kakashi sighed. Another night in the Uchiha manor…

 

            Sasuke’s fingers clawed at Itachi’s arm as his brother kept him effortlessly pinned against the wooden wall of the inn. Eyes dark with the Mangekyo Sharingan stared into the simple swirls of his Sharingan. He felt light-headed, Itachi’s hand against his throat, ruthlessly cutting off his air supply, crushing his windpipe. With his free hand, Itachi was casually undoing his pants, revealing his hard length. Sasuke’s eyes widened, his own shorts already dangling around his knees. “I-Itachi,” He choked out. “N-No!”

            “Foolish little brother,” Itachi spoke, cutting off Sasuke’s protests with a kiss hard enough to draw blood. Sasuke felt dizzy when Itachi finally pulled back, both from the intensity of the kiss and also from lack of oxygen. “You are still too weak…” Two fingers roughly drove into Sasuke’s tight, virgin opening, a scream tearing its way from Sasuke’s throat.

            “You lack hatred,” Itachi continued, his fingers relentlessly forcing their way deeper into Sasuke’s body. “Your hatred is not strong enough…” He withdrew his fingers, but Sasuke’s relief was short lived, as Itachi impaled him immediately. He felt something tear as his brother forced his engorged member inside of him. Blood sluggishly dripped down his thighs as Itachi fucked him, slow and deep, prolonging his torture. Finally, he felt his brother’s seed fill him. His vision hazed out, and he sucked in deep breaths of life-giving air as his brother finally pulled out and released him, dropping him unceremoniously to the floor.

            “We’re leaving, Kisame.” He said, turning to the grinning shark-man, who picked up the bound, gagged, and limb-less Naruto, leaving Sasuke to stare after them, used and abused, a mixture of Itachi’s cum and his own blood running down his thighs.

 

            It took a few moments for Sasuke to recover, the walls of the inn wavering like a crazy fun house mirror before Itachi returned, no longer clad in his Akatsuki cloak. “Sasuke,” He asked. “Are you all right?”

            Sasuke managed a nod. Itachi was not convinced.

            “That’s enough for tonight,” He said, giving Sasuke a gentle kiss. “You’re too emotional to maintain the Garden of Paradise and the Tsukuyomi. Let’s go to sleep.”

            Sasuke knew better than to argue with Itachi when he used that tone of voice. He nodded, and then silently unwove the genjutsu. The two of them reappeared in the real world, in the same bed. Itachi moved a little closer to Sasuke, and Sasuke cuddled.

            “Good night, niisan.” He whispered.

            “Good night, otouto.” Itachi replied.

 

End Chapter

Started 3/9/16

Completed 3/10/16

 

Chapter Text

The next morning, Pein decided to attack Konoha.

            Well, Sasuke thought, waking up to the sound of screams and the flares of chakra all around, at least his house hadn’t been hit, yet. He and Itachi were dressed and ready to help defend Konoha in a flash, and a body flicker later, at the Hokage’s office. Moments later, Itachi was briefing the emergency council on all of Pein’s abilities. Once the reporting was over, they left to help. Their mission was clear. The Naraka Path was the most dangerous – it could heal all the other Paths, after all. Therefore, their mission was to destroy it first.

            That was easier said than done. The Naraka Path was being guarded by both the Preta Path, which of course could absorb any ninjutsu, and the Asura Path. The King of Hell was already out. Technically, it was invisible. Fortunately, Sasuke and Itachi both possessed the Rinnegan. Itachi had the better aim, so Sasuke graciously allowed his elder brother to put out its eyes while he took a quick glance at the battle taking place below. Lee and Neji were currently engaged in battle against the Preta Path, an excellent choice, considering its ability, while Sakura and Tenten faced off against the Asura Path.

            The black chakra receivers, Sasuke remembered. Destroy the chakra receivers and supposedly, that would destroy Pein’s connection to his Paths. Therefore, Amaterasu bloomed to life on the Naraka Path, not simply flames, but flames woven into thin, sharp spikes, targeting each and every chakra receiver embedded into the corpse’s body.

            Itachi followed his lead, Amaterasu downing the Asura Path as well. Unfortunately, it would be ineffective against the Preta Path, and probably the Deva Path as well, but at least Pein was down two Paths…

            “What did you do?” Lee demanded, smashing the Preta Path back temporarily.

            “The piercings,” Sasuke called. “They’re how Pein controls them!”

           

            The change in chakra was instantaneous. Pein’s chakra had been cold, icy, and calm, like a deity ready to crush mere mortals, ants under his heel. Now, it was blazing hot, raging like an inferno, furious. It seemed that at the moment, he did not particularly care whether Naruto and the Kyuubi were in the village or not. What Sasuke and Itachi had done… daring to defy the self-proclaimed ‘God’ so openly, that, in Pein’s eyes, was unforgivable, and for such a crime, there was only one sentence. Death.

            With their Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan activated, it was easy to see the sheer amount of chakra gathering in the air around all four remaining Peins. All the rubble and debris that had been created during the battle was drawn upwards, into the sky, creating a huge, black ball of boiling energy. Sasuke and Itachi exchanged glances. If that hit Konoha…! Susanoo snapped into being around Itachi, Sasuke embracing him from behind, arms wrapped about his brother’s chest, chakra pouring into his body as Susanoo raised the Yata Mirror in defiance.

            When the sphere came crashing down, Susanoo spread its wings, and flew up to meet it. The intense heat and gravity of the Chibaku Tensei attack met the ethereal metal of the legendary Yata Mirror, which held, but Sasuke could feel the strain in every fiber of Itachi’s body as his brother struggled against it. Sasuke tightened his grip, pouring more of his chakra into Itachi’s body as they fought to counter Pein’s technique. It seemed an eternity before at last, the Chibaku Tensei splintered, shattering into thousands of fragments, taking the Deva Path with it. Susanoo disintegrated mere seconds later, and Sasuke idly thought that they were an awfully long way from the ground and falling was going to hurt.

            “I got you,” Sai’s monotone voice broke into his thoughts as one of his ink birds swooped down just below them. “Interesting eyes, traitor.”

            Sasuke blinked tiredly, not bothering to reply, still clutching Itachi.

            Itachi turned to glance at Sasuke, Rinnegan and Mangekyo Sharingan beginning to fade from his eyes. Sasuke could not recall feeling this exhausted in his life. He tried to stay awake, but he was just so tired…

 

            Sasuke woke up in the hospital.

            He was still clothed, he thought idly. So was Itachi, who was already awake and sitting up, reading a magazine in the next bed over.

            “You’re awake,” A familiar voice said. And there, by the window, was Kakashi, face buried in the cover of a familiar orange book.

            He nodded. “How is… everyone?”

            “They’re fine,” Kakashi looked up. “There were some casualties, but Pein brought them all back.”

            Sasuke looked puzzled. That made no sense at all.

            “Naruto got through to him,” Kakashi explained. “You can hear the whole story from him later. Right now, you’re probably more concerned about Itachi.” There was a faintly disapproving tone in his voice. “He’s starting to show the symptoms again.”

            It took Sasuke a minute to realize what Kakashi was talking about. He looked at Kakashi, who got the hint and left the room, deliberately closing the door.

 

            Sasuke locked the door and slapped a privacy seal on it, before looking at Itachi, who only smiled. Well… they had evidently depleted their chakra in that battle, and while he was hungry, there were certainly other needs he wouldn’t mind fulfilling… Sasuke ducked into the restroom and had a glass of water, and then grinned before kneeling in front of Itachi, slowly unzipping his brother’s pants, freeing his length. Itachi needed the chakra more than he did at the moment, and it would give Konoha the impression that he was deliberately tormenting his brother this way. Slowly, he licked his way up Itachi’s shaft, from the very tip all the way to the root, then back down again. His right hand cupped Itachi’s sac, slowly massaging his heavy testes, his left on Itachi’s thigh, spreading his legs wider apart. Itachi exhaled quietly, an expression of torment in his eyes. “S-Sasuke…”

            Sasuke did not reply immediately, his tongue mercilessly tracing soft circles over the sensitive head of Itachi’s member, as his teeth grazed it a moment later. “Not until you fuck me, niisan…” He purred, pulling away. He shed his clothing slowly, deliberately, spreading himself out on Itachi’s bed, his expression wanton. With a groan, Itachi joined his little brother, obeying him as he moved his hips hard, his nails digging into the skin of Sasuke’s shoulders, lips covering his in desperate kisses.

            Sasuke reveled in the control he had over his beautiful, powerful older brother. He held his pleasure in until he felt Itachi find release, before relaxing. Once Itachi had gone pliant, he wriggled out from underneath him. Their chakra levels were higher, but nowhere near their peak levels. Itachi had just finished giving him a mutually satisfying session of fellatio when two masked Anbu members appeared in their hospital room. Well. That was unexpected, and annoying, and pointed to one person. Danzo.

            As they always had their Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan on during intercourse, and Itachi, and Sasuke to a lesser extent, were chakra sensors, the appearance of the assassins was not a complete surprise. Nonetheless, it was still irritating. Not wanting to risk destroying the hospital, only a portion of Susanoo’s ribcage flickered into being around both Itachi and Sasuke. One of the Anbu grabbed the edge of Susanoo and it began to fade. Evidently, he had the ability to absorb chakra. The other, a woman, expelled a cloud of noxious purple gas. Poison, Sasuke thought with a detached air. Well then…

            His Rinnegan activated, taking them to Kaguya’s home dimension. Here, they could absorb chakra directly from the environment. Itachi had to give the Root agents credit; they took the change in terrain remarkably in stride. Itachi dropped Susanoo, and the siblings sprang in separate dimensions. Wind blades shot from the direction of the woman, earthen spikes sprouted from the ground as the man slammed his hands into the ground. As one, Sasuke and Itachi’s hands blurred in familiar signs, the fire dragon roaring in defiance as it consumed the breeze greedily. The woman did not even have time to scream.

            “Sasuke, we need to take the other one alive,” Itachi pointed out.

            Sasuke had to admit Itachi was right, despite his rage and unfulfilled lust.

            “Follow my lead,” His brother stated. Sasuke wondered briefly why Itachi didn’t just trap the bastard in a Tsukuyomi and slowly torture him, but they eventually cornered the man and Itachi removed the seal Danzo put on him, before tying him up with his own ninja wire. They also took his clothes, although Itachi got his pants and Sasuke was forced to improvise a kilt of sorts from his upper garments. They returned to Konoha to find Kakashi and Tsunade waiting for them.

 

            “Hokage-sama,” Itachi said politely, handing over the prisoner while Sasuke dumped the corpse of the woman on the ground.

            “It looks like you boys had an interesting time,” Tsunade commented dryly. She was certain Inoichi and Ibiki would have his secrets out of him in no time.

            “And a few secrets of your own,” Kakashi added.

            Sasuke blinked. Then, he caught sight of his reflection in the window. He could see his Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan, but… the reflection should have shown only his normal black eyes, because of the genjutsu that the gods had woven for him… so, that meant…

            Itachi came up behind him, placing a hand on his shoulder. “Perhaps we do.”

 

            I do not want to have a conversation about this right now, Sasuke thought petulantly. I still haven’t gotten anything to eat and Aniki and I were already interrupted once and we did just save Konoha! Doesn’t that deserve a reward?

            “If you will excuse us,” Itachi replied politely.

            “I believe you two can be discharged, but I will be seeing you in my office in a few days,” Tsunade looked like she was hiding a smile.

            Sasuke thanked the gods. Fortunately, the discharge paperwork was quickly completed. They bought Chinese take-out at the first restaurant they encountered, and then flickered home. Kakashi looked faintly amused as Sasuke didn’t even bother to get plates, simply handing his brother one of the small containers of rice and a pair of the disposable chopsticks.

            Once the meal was over, and the food digested, Sasuke and Itachi disappeared into their bedroom. They didn’t emerge for the rest of the day.

            Kakashi read his porn.

 

            The next morning, after breakfast, Sasuke was entertaining the thought of spending a nice, quiet day with Itachi, when the door to his house was kicked down.

            “Sasuke, you’re back!” An orange and black blur exclaimed.

            “…Naruto.” His eye twitched. “You owe me a new door.”

           

            Naruto was too excited to notice the irritation in his former teammate’s tone. “I knew you would come back!” He enthused. “I heard you helped fight Pein too! And…” He stopped short when he noticed who else was in the room. “Kakashi-sensei, you’re here too!” He cheered. “And… Itachi? Wah!” He scooted backwards, away from the long-haired Uchiha, who was sipping a cup of tea. “W-what’s he doing here?”

            “I live here,” Itachi said, calmly.

            “He’s Sasuke’s sex slave,” Kakashi replied at the same time.

            Naruto stared at the two of them. Then he looked at Sasuke. “What?”

            “He’s mine,” Sasuke stated, neither confirming nor denying what either of them had said.

            Naruto scratched the back of his neck. Maybe he was thinking about this too much. “Ah… okay.” He shrugged. “Anyways… Welcome back, Sasuke.”

            “Hn,” The black-haired teen replied. At least that was normal.

            “So… wanna spar?” Naruto asked, desperately trying to get the conversation started again. Sasuke considered it for a moment.

            “Maybe later,” He said. “I have… things to do.”

            Well, Naruto decided, at least that wasn’t a total disaster.

            “And you still owe me a door.” He finished. Naruto growled.

 

End Chapter

Started 3/10/16

Completed 3/10/16

Chapter Text

Danzo froze for a moment when he saw Itachi appear before his eyes, but then he activated the cursed seal he had placed on Uchiha Sasuke in the fight earlier. Foolish child, to believe that he could be fooled with such a weak Tsukuyomi! He felt Sasuke freeze behind him, his sword an inch from his back. That was when Itachi, instead of disappearing, grabbed him by the shoulders, and bodily shoved him onto Sasuke’s sword, piercing him through the middle.

            Danzo’s eyes went wide as Itachi roughly yanked him off Sasuke’s sword, and did it again, this time, making sure the blade pierced his heart.

            “W-What?” Danzo coughed blood. T-this was no illusion! This was flesh and blood! Was it a shadow clone? No, it couldn’t be! He hastily activated Izanagi, disappearing from the top of the pillar and reappearing a short distance away, another Sharingan eye on his arm closing. Itachi then leaned over and kissed Sasuke full on the mouth, the cursed seal disappearing as he did so.

            “Foolish little brother, you let your guard down.”

            “Sorry, niisan.” Sasuke gazed up at Itachi, a slight blush on his cheeks.

 

            Danzo was not the only one who was surprised. The self-proclaimed Uchiha Madara, alias Tobi, alias Uchiha Obito, was also quite confused. Up until the moment Uchiha Itachi appeared, everything had been going as planned. Sasuke’s hatred had been escalating, his Susanoo had evolved, and now… what the hell?

            Now he had three Uchiha to kill instead of two. Danzo scowled, summoning his Baku. Well, Uchiha Itachi was supposed to be on the verge of death and practically blind. Unfortunately, that didn’t seem to be the case. Susanoo appeared around both Sasuke and Itachi, and Danzo cursed as his Sharingan closed one by one, dodging attacks from both of them. Not good, not good at all… and when he attempted to use Shisui’s eye, they broke the genjutsu. The ultimate visual genjutsu of the Uchiha Clan, and it shattered like glass…

            Danzo died in agony, incinerated by the black flames of Amaterasu. Obito was next. His space-time ninjutsu was no match for the Rinnegan. They left his head with Kakashi and disappeared before he could ask them any questions.

            Itachi trapped Kabuto in the Izanami and Sasuke made certain he was dead while Itachi recuperated in the Naraka Path. It did restore eyesight, as well. Then, Sasuke purloined all his notes and destroyed his laboratory. Kabuto’s head was also left with the unfortunate Kakashi. Sasuke also thoughtfully left a scroll detailing what he knew about Zetsu and the approximate numbers of the White Zetsu army just in case they were still around. Then, he and Itachi were off to the next dimension.

 

            Itachi was looking surprisingly healthy for a reanimated corpse, Kabuto thought as he faced him and Sasuke across the battlefield. Well, he could congratulate himself on his aesthetics later. Right now, he had more important things to worry about, such as-

            The instant Kabuto impaled Itachi with Sasuke’s sword, the sword melted. Oddly enough, Kabuto also burst into flames. They were not the flames of Amaterasu, but similarly, they did not stop burning. Sasuke watched in horrified fascination as Kabuto was burned to ashes, turning to stare at Itachi. “…How did you do that, niisan?”

            Only, when he looked at Itachi, his eyes widened. It was Itachi, and at the same time, it wasn’t. The feathered wings and tail were a dead giveaway, a crimson so deep it was almost black at the shoulder blades, shading through progressive shades of red and orange, to golden yellow at the tips. Sasuke fell to his knees, forehead touching the rocky floor of the cavern. “Suzaku-seikun…” He breathed reverently.

            Itachi, meanwhile, was suffering a slight identity crisis. He remembered being Itachi, of course, but he was also remembering being more than Itachi, and it was this feeling of being more that was causing him some disorientation. Nonetheless, he was in control of himself enough to realize that his precious younger brother was on his hands and knees in front of him and that was unacceptable.

            “Sasuke, get up,” He managed to say. “I don’t want you to bow to me.” When Sasuke didn’t move, Itachi took the initiative and yanked him up. “We will have to stop the Edo Tensei another way since I accidentally incinerated Kabuto.”

            “You could incinerate Madara and Tobi, too. That might help.” Sasuke pointed out, trying to be helpful.

            Madara was an Edo Tensei summon. Disposing of him might be a little more difficult. Tobi, on the other hand, was fair game. “Get on my back,” Itachi told Sasuke, before he shifted. Sasuke eyed the vermilion bird for a second, and then climbed on. It seemed like mere seconds before they were before Tobi. While Itachi dealt with Tobi, Sasuke performed the reversed seals to cancel Edo Tensei on the former jinchuuriki trapped within the Hachibi’s coils, releasing their souls.

            “Sasuke!” He heard Naruto shout. “What are you doing?”

            Sasuke did not answer, because the air around him shimmered, and in a flash of fire, he and Itachi had disappeared.

 

            They reappeared just as Madara’s perfect Susanoo was about to deal a finishing blow to the five Kage. One flap of Itachi’s wings created a whirlwind that sent Madara’s Susanoo tumbling backwards, blown away by the sheer force of the gale. A keening cry shattered the structure completely. It did not reform.

            Sasuke winced slightly as the heat from Madara’s massive fire attack washed over them, but Itachi seemed perfectly unaffected. Suzaku was not precisely a phoenix, but his element was fire. The Uchiha Clan worshipped Suzaku over the other four gods, because of their affinity with fire. Sasuke remembered writing prayers to Suzaku as a child, ceremonially lighting them on fire so that the smoke would reach the heavens and his prayers would be granted. Now, his brother was Suzaku. He still couldn’t quite wrap his mind around it.

            Pure, white flames enveloped Madara, feasting on his undead flesh. His Rinnegan spun wildly, trying to absorb them with the Preta Path, but it was no use. The holy fire consumed him, releasing his soul to where it belonged. From there, Itachi and Sasuke moved over the battlefield, releasing those trapped within Edo Tensei and destroying any Zetsu they came across, including the original.

            The war was over.

 

            When the war ended, Sasuke was pardoned. Killer Bee had escaped, and they acknowledged with his and Itachi’s – Suzaku’s – help, the war had been won. Sasuke was returned to Konoha with severe restrictions, but he accepted them without a word of complaint. To Naruto’s shock, Sasuke laid down his weapons and became a medic-nin. To Naruto’s further shock, he was damned good at it.

            “I don’t understand what’s gotten into you,” Naruto said, one day at Ichiraku Ramen.

            “I don’t understand what you mean,” Sasuke replied, his voice soft as he picked up his chopsticks.

            “You, spending your days working in the hospital…” Naruto waved a hand. “What happened to the bastard that was always after revenge?”

            Sasuke gave him a crooked smile. “Maybe he grew up. He killed his brother, didn’t he?”

            “I heard from Itachi that you haven’t talked to him in several weeks.” Naruto said bluntly. “He’s worried about you.”

            “Suzaku-seikun,” Sasuke said after a pause, “Has better things to do.”

            “No, I don’t think he does.” Naruto shot back.

            “He’s a god, Naruto!” Sasuke hissed.

            “You’re his brother!”

            Sasuke sighed. “I was his brother. It’s different now, all right? Even if he was born as my brother in this life, it was only a temporary thing. We don’t even live together anymore. He has his shrine, I have my apartment. I’ll be fine.”

            Naruto did not look convinced, but he could sense the shift in Sasuke’s chakra as the Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan activated in his eyes, so rather than destroy Ichiraku Ramen, he decided to drop it.

 

            That night, Sasuke was lying in bed after a tiring shift at the hospital when there was a knock on the door. “I told you to drop it, Naruto!” He snarled irritably as he got up to open the door. To his shock, it wasn’t Naruto, but Itachi. “S-Suzaku-seikun…” He bowed his head. “My apologies…”

            “Sasuke,” Itachi asked. “May I come in?”

            Sasuke wordlessly stepped back, allowing Itachi entrance. What was Itachi doing here? Itachi was supposed to be at the shrine, being tended by his worshippers. He was not supposed to be at Sasuke’s apartment, associating with a traitor.

            “Sasuke,” Itachi tilted his chin up, gazing into his eyes. “Why are you avoiding me?”

            “Suzaku-seikun, I…” Sasuke wanted to lie, but he couldn’t. “I… I am not worthy of associating with you.” He jerked away. He was dirty, tainted… when he recalled all the filthy, degrading things he had forced Itachi to participate in… how could he touch such a pure being?

            Itachi sighed. “Sasuke, I may be Suzaku, but I’m still your brother, and I love you.” He could see the fear in those onyx orbs and it saddened him. Gently, he pulled Sasuke back and kissed him, gently, chastely. “Do you still love me, Sasuke?”

            “Niisan,” Sasuke’s eyes filled with tears. He knew he should lie. He should set Itachi free. It was the right thing to do. His heart ached, his blood pounded in his ears, the world seemed to spin crazily before his eyes. Say it, his conscience urged him. Say that you don’t love him!

            “I promised… to love you forever…” Sasuke choked out. “But… if you don’t want me anymore,” and why would Itachi still want him, when he could have anyone he wanted? “I will let you go…”

 

            Itachi’s lips were pressed against his almost as soon as the words left his mouth, stealing his breath away. Sasuke gasped as Itachi’s tongue pressed against his lips, demanding entrance. He gave in, eyes sliding shut as he submitted to his brother’s will.

“Foolish little brother,” Itachi whispered, when they finally broke for air. “Why would I want anyone else when I have you?”

            Somehow, they made it to the bed. Sasuke was content to let Itachi take the lead, surrendering to his lover. Itachi was impatient, and Sasuke was startled when their clothing mysteriously vanished. Clearly, this was another of Itachi’s newfound powers. His Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan activated, and Itachi smiled.

            Itachi made love to him with exquisite tenderness, and Sasuke accepted every touch, every caress, not as his due, but as a gift he did not deserve, because he knew that no matter what sweet words Itachi said, he was still Suzaku.

            Because when at last, Itachi filled him for the last time, Sasuke heard the name his brother whispered.

            It was not his name.

            It was Seiryuu’s.

 

End Chapter

Started 3/10/16

Completed 3/11/16

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Masashi Kishimoto. This non-profit, non-copyright infringing fanfiction belongs to me under international copyright laws and taking it is plagiarism. Don’t steal and don’t sue. Thank you *Phantomness bows*
Warnings: Hashirama x Itachi, Suzaku! Itachi x Sasuke, branding
Chapter 35: Fallen Idol

Seiryuu was the first god, the eldest god; Sasuke remembered learning from the Clan Priest, Sanji-sama. He was represented as the lightning that struck the holy tree, his element was lightning, his secondary element wood. He embodied war, the same way Suzaku embodied love. The azure dragon of the east, he brought the spring rains that nourished the earth and men went to battle in his name. But to Sasuke, all he knew was that this was the man that Itachi – Suzaku – wanted, needed, loved. His eyes hardened, as he looked at this sleeping brother.
“Don’t worry, niisan,” He whispered, pressing a chaste kiss to Itachi’s lips.
“We’ll find him together.”

“This is the real reason you brought me back, wasn’t it?” Sasuke asked as he faced Hagoromo. “It wasn’t to save the Uchiha Clan. It was to awaken Itachi as Suzaku, to face a coming threat with the combined force of the Four Gods.”
“You always were a clever one, Sasuke.” The Sage of the Six Paths met his eyes.
“Now that Itachi has awakened as Suzaku, it makes the most sense for us to find Seiryuu first, isn’t that right?” Sasuke continued, ruthlessly quashing the jealousy he felt. “Seiryuu is the eldest of the four Gods. He should have already awakened before Itachi did.”
Hagoromo nodded solemnly. “Yes, he should have. Unfortunately, there have been… complications. Seiryuu has not awakened yet. He may never awaken.”
“Fine,” Sasuke crossed his arms. “Can you at least point us to the dimension where the next threat is?”
“You have already defeated the first threat.” Hagoromo said.
Sasuke tilted his head to the side, puzzled. “Was it Madara, or Kaguya?”
“No,” Hagoromo chuckled. “Suzuki Mahri.”
Sasuke’s jaw dropped. “Her? But she was…” He trailed off as he realized what a woman like that could have done with the power of a god under her control. “Oh…” He said quietly.
“The next threat has not yet come to pass, and unfortunately, we have no way of knowing which dimension it will strike in.” Hagoromo told him soberly. “Seiryuu could have been reborn in any world, within a strong shinobi – or kunoichi – who wields lightning and wood.”
“Wood and lightning,” Sasuke said thoughtfully. “Thank you.” Thanks for nothing, he thought, and then, he woke.

Of course, Sasuke thought. The strongest shinobi that had ever existed was the First Hokage – Senju Hashirama – the one who had created the Mokuton. He had to be Seiryuu. He had defeated Uchiha Madara, after all, and the Kyuubi. Sasuke slipped out of Itachi’s embrace, washed up, and went to make breakfast. He would explain the importance of finding the other gods to his brother when he awoke, if he wasn’t already aware, and then they would go and find Byakko and Genbu.
Itachi listened quietly to Sasuke’s assessment of the situation, sipping the miso soup Sasuke had made, appreciating the warmth. Within his heart, Suzaku agreed. After a moment, Itachi set his empty bowl down. Sasuke’s words made sense. As Suzaku, he did have the power to cross dimensions more easily, and there was a threat out there. Gathering the other gods made tactical sense. Yet, he sensed Sasuke was hiding something from him.
“Sasuke, what are you not telling me?”
“I was brought back, not for atone for my sins, or for our Clan, but to awaken you as Suzaku.” Sasuke met his eyes unflinchingly. Itachi knew without a doubt that Sasuke was telling the truth. What a blow it must have been, for Sasuke to discover that…
Itachi reached across the table, taking Sasuke’s hand in his, giving it a gentle squeeze. “Sasuke…”
“It’s all right, niisan.” Sasuke gave him a smile. “I’ve always known you were perfect.” And I’ll never catch up to you, his eyes spoke the rest, but I’ve accepted that.
Itachi felt a pang inside his heart. Why was it that Sasuke could never see how strong he had become? How was it that even with the eternal Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan, his command of the Mokuton and the Hyouton and the new Kinzokuton, he still felt inferior to Itachi? Why was it that even after defeating Mahri Suzuki and acquiring medical ninjutsu that perhaps surpassed that of Tsunade herself, he could be so blind? If Itachi had not through some sheer chance manifested his power as Suzaku…

Suddenly, Itachi found himself speaking in a voice not quite his own.
“We have no time to waste, Sasuke.” He stated imperiously. “We will seek out the strongest version of Senju Hashirama in existence, to see if he indeed holds the power of Seiryuu within him.”
“As you command, Suzaku-seikun,” Sasuke bowed his head submissively.
“Be ready to depart within the hour.”
Sasuke nodded. He cleared the table of the breakfast dishes, and then went to pack. Itachi found himself of his body once again, suppressing a slight shudder. Suzaku was strong, and growing stronger. “Sasuke…”
“It is all right, niisan.” Sasuke’s eyes were sad. “As long as I still have my niisan sometimes… everything will be all right.”

Weeks flew by in rapid succession as they flickered from dimension to dimension, rarely stopping for more than a day or two. Apparently, it was impossible to judge without directly entering a dimension, the strength of the version of Senju Hashirama within it.
Finally, they found the right one. In this world, Uchiha Madara lay dead at Hashirama’s feet. Hashirama’s eyes were red, his face exultant. His chakra was different, and in an instant, Sasuke realized why.
Hashirama had sealed the Kyuubi within himself.

Sasuke hid himself easily. Hashirama looked at him, and then looked right through him. He wasn’t paying attention to him, anyway. The only one he saw was Itachi.
“Another Uchiha,” He tilted his head to the side. His lips drew back in a cruel smile. “What do you want? Vengeance, I suppose. Don’t bother; you’ll die just like Madara did.”
“No,” Itachi’s voice was soft. Hashirama studied him. A pretty boy, he thought. Delicate features, long hair, pale skin…
Sasuke’s breath caught. Surely Itachi couldn’t mean…

He closed his eyes. He covered his ears. Like a coward, he hid inside the King of Hell. But he couldn’t block out the knowledge of what was happening. When it was all over, he emerged into the too-bright light, looking up at Itachi.
“Was he the one?” He asked.
Itachi shook his head.
Sasuke wanted to scream, to hit Itachi, to pound his fists on his chest like a jealous child. Was it really necessary to let Senju Hashirama fuck you to find out if he was Seiryuu? Are you planning on letting other people do that to you too?
But Sasuke was a shinobi, so he kept silent. Well, he thought bitterly, now we know for sure it’s not me, because I’ve fucked Itachi plenty of times and nothing ever happened.

“Perhaps we should visit Tenzou next,” Sasuke suggested. “He’s the only other person I know of with Wood release, unless you want to try Madara or Tobi or Danzo – they did transplant Hashirama’s cells into themselves….”
“No, Hashirama was the creator of the Mokuton, the others are all copies,” Itachi stated. He looked as though he would have said more, but then both of them felt the slight shift in the atmosphere, and sprang apart, dojutsu activating.
The man – if he were a man’s – resemblance to Suzuki Mahri was unmistakable. The hair was different, red, like blood. The eyes were different – one as black as night, the other as golden as the sun. The clothing was different, an elegant cut suit, but the expression, the supremely confident, sneering expression – that was the same.
“So you’re the ones who killed my sister,” He chuckled. “I’ll be sure to kill you slowly…”

Sasuke responded with a hostile barrage of lightning, Itachi effortlessly exhaled enough fire to set the forest aflame. Instead of countering with wind or water or a combination of both, the man simply opened his mouth, impossibly wide, revealing a gaping black cavernous maw, and swallowed every drop of their elemental fury. He then closed it and licked his lips, smiling widely, showing his teeth. He did not spit the energy back out afterwards, either. “Mmm, delicious, but that was only an appetizer…” He yawned.
All right, Sasuke thought. He must be different from Mahri. So he absorbed ninjutsu, as the Preta Path did. He summoned Shibuki, ripping off a roll of explosive tags. Geri didn’t even bother to try to dodge them. He opened his mouth again, heedless of the explosions that went off. Sasuke’s eyes widened as he swallowed them effortlessly. That didn’t even hurt him?
“Sasuke, fall back,” Itachi ordered, and of course, he obeyed.

The two of them literally flew through the forest. “What’s your plan, niisan,” Sasuke asked, as they leapt from branch to branch. He remembered how difficult it had been to defeat Mahri. The drain on his chakra had been incredible, and he had consumed soldier pills like candy just to stay one step ahead of her. With her ability to heal, it was only because he had secretly incapacitated her ahead of time that he had managed to survive, and Itachi had saved him in the end. Mahri had not been immune to ninjutsu. This man was, and Sasuke did not believe taijutsu and genjutsu alone were going to cut it.
“Stay by my side,” Itachi replied.
Sasuke didn’t quite understand, but he was willing to trust Itachi, so he nodded.

Geri was already waiting when they emerged into a clearing. He yawned, buffing his nails on his coat. “Are you two quite finished running like rabbits?”
Itachi’s Susanoo blazed into existence around both of them. Sasuke stayed right by Itachi’s side, as he had instructed. Susanoo drew the Sword of Totsuka.
Geri looked at it, impassive. “If you think a mere sword will stop me, you’re sadly mistaken.” He informed them. “In fact, why don’t I show you… my power works on any type of matter and energy, so don’t try to fool me with illusions, either.” He casually yanked a tree up by its roots and swallowed it in one gulp.
Susanoo stabbed him with the Sword of Totsuka.
Geri looked at the tiny cut it had made. “…You call that an attack?” He laughed. “Pathetic! I can’t believe Mahri lost to you two! She must have…” His gloating cut off, abruptly, as he began to disappear into the sword. Itachi watched impassively as Geri was rapidly sealed into the gourd. Sasuke fervently hoped that the gourd would never run out of space. It was starting to get crowded in there, what with two versions of Orochimaru and the newcomer.
Susanoo faded away, duty done. That was a tad anticlimactic, Sasuke thought, but perhaps he was thinking too much. The Sword of Totsuka was a legendary weapon, after all, just as the Yata Mirror was.
“We’ll rest here for the night,” Itachi decided.
“What if there are other Senju or Uchiha around?” Sasuke did not mean for his tone to come out quite that sharp. Itachi, fortunately, did not look angry. He closed his eyes, extending his senses. Then, he gathered Sasuke close, and they disappeared in a flash of fire. When his eyes opened, they were near the banks of the Naka River.
“We are alone now.”

So Sasuke busied himself setting up camp. He let Itachi rest while he gathered firewood. He fetched water, set up their tent, and then headed to the river. He was cleaning and gutting the third fish with a kunai when he felt Itachi’s presence behind him.
“Suzaku-seikun,” He did not look up.
“You are angry with me,” Itachi stated.
“No, niisan,” Sasuke said, Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan flaring to life as he stared at Itachi. “I am angry because Suzaku-seikun is using my brother’s body to find his lover!”

“That’s enough, Sasuke,” Itachi felt his lips move as he spoke coldly. “It is not your business to meddle in the affairs of gods.”
“As you command, Suzaku-seikun,” Sasuke whispered.
Suzaku did not seem satisfied. “Your arrogance must be properly punished. Remove your clothing.”
Itachi struggled inside his own body as Sasuke silently stripped off his clothing. Suzaku moved Sasuke onto his hands and knees, mounting him like a beast, but the worst was yet to come. Itachi felt the chakra burn in his fingertips, the intense heat radiating through Sasuke’s skin as the god casually placed three fingers against Sasuke’s right hip, burning his mark into his flesh, branding him like an animal. The horror of what had been done to his pure, precious little brother gave Itachi the strength to break free. He tore into Suzaku with the force of a raging storm, consuming him with a fury so strong it frightened him, but he accepted it all. He ripped and tore like a hawk, feasted on the shreds of divinity like a carrion crow. Perhaps it had taken only a minute; perhaps it had taken an eternity. All that he knew was that Suzaku would never, ever hurt his lover again, for now he was Suzaku.
Itachi opened his eyes. Mercifully, Sasuke had passed out from the pain. He carefully gathered Sasuke into his arms, staring hatefully at the vermilion bird branded into his skin. Gently, he brushed his fingertips over it, soothing the irritated skin and encouraging it to heal. He dressed him in his clothing, brought him water to drink and finished cleaning and cooking the fish Sasuke had caught, adding some wild herbs and tubers to make a stew.
When Sasuke woke up, he was surprised to be alive. He was even more surprised to find Itachi watching him, with an expression of concern on his face.
“Eat your dinner,” Itachi told him quietly, handing him a bowl of stew. Sasuke picked up his spoon, and ate. He felt surprisingly healthy. Had Itachi put him in the Naraka Path’s King of Hell after Suzaku’s punishment?
Speaking of Suzaku… was he still safe? Maybe it would be better for them both if Itachi left him behind. “Niisan, I think I should go home.” He whispered. “It will be better for both of us. I will only be a burden for you, and Suzaku-seikun.”
“You don’t have to worry about Suzaku-seikun any longer.” Itachi reassured him. “He will never hurt you ever again.”
Sasuke’s eyes were wary. “Niisan…”
“I killed him for you,” Itachi purred, pulling Sasuke into his arms. Sasuke’s eyes widened. He knew Itachi was telling the truth, even without activating the Sharingan. But how could that be possible? One couldn’t kill a god!
Itachi activated his Sharingan, showing Sasuke the memories of the battle that had taken place within his mind. Sasuke watched in awe as the two of them fought for control of Itachi’s body, until Itachi finally emerged the victor.
“Now,” Itachi spoke, his breath soft against Sasuke’s lips. “There is only one mistake that must be corrected.” Slowly, he eased Sasuke’s pants down, showing him the vermilion bird branded upon his right hip. Sasuke scowled furiously at the sight of his weakness.
“When I destroyed Suzaku, much of his power was dispersed. I am not strong enough to remove his mark… but I can alter it.” Itachi told him, voice tinged with regret.
Sasuke thought for a moment. “Then mark me with your colors, niisan,” He whispered huskily. Itachi understood, and gave a nod. Slowly, the vermilion bird shrank, became angular. Vibrant red darkened to jet black, the only spots of crimson in the eyes.
When it ended, Sasuke gave Itachi a smile, and Itachi smiled back, before their lips met.

End Chapter
Started 3/11/16
Completed 3/11/16

Chapter Text

Chapter 36: False Friend

 

            This version of Naruto had the Mokuton. He had the Katon, the Suiton, the Raiton, the Fuuton and the Doton. He had the Rinnegan. He was the jinchuuriki of the ten-tailed beast. He also had a harem. And, Sasuke discovered, apparently, this dimension’s version of himself and Itachi were female, and about to be inducted into it. He felt more than a little queasy.

            “Niisan, can we leave?” He whispered, glancing over at Itachi, who was lying next to him in bed. There were five minutes before the alarm was going to ring. Perhaps, if they were quick, they could be out of this dimension before they actually had to go through with this farce. Sasuke might grudgingly consider Naruto a friend and a comrade, but this version of Naruto was clearly something else entirely and there was no way he was having sex with him!

            “I may have Suzaku’s power, but it requires a lot of energy to travel between dimensions, Sasuke,” Itachi whispered back. “I require at least twenty-four hours before another attempt, or…”

            Sasuke knew what the pause meant. It meant several rounds of intercourse, and unfortunately, they did not have the time – or the proper equipment, for that matter – at the moment. He scowled.

            “Also, this version of Naruto has acquired the Mokuton. It is possible he may be Seiryuu… in which case, the most effective way to awaken him would be to engage in a battle.”

            Well, Sasuke thought, there had to be some way to protect his body and see if Naruto was Seiryuu. “Niisan, what if we did this?”

            He whispered in Itachi’s ear, and Itachi nodded. It was a risk they would have to take, but the Uchiha Clan was one of the Four Noble Clans of Konoha. It just might work…

 

            Mikoto’s eyes were sad as she and her helpers helped her daughters dress for their new assignment. Itako and Satsuki deserved better, but Naruto was the son of the Hokage, and descended from the Uzumaki and the Senju. He had clearly been blessed not only with an inordinate amount of chakra but also an abundance of kekkei genkai, so much so that it was almost unbelievable. Some called him the second coming of the Sage of the Six Paths. Personally, Mikoto believed he had been grown in a test tube before being implanted in Kushina’s womb. There was just no way so many kekkei genkai and even kekkei touta, including the legendary Rinnegan, could have manifested naturally…

            Apparently, Naruto had gotten tired of foreign beauties and civilian girls and was now demanding tribute from the various Clans in Konoha. As he could probably destroy any Clan single-handedly, even the Hyuuga and the Uchiha, even at a mere sixteen years of age, they acquiesced to his demands. As Sasuke and Itachi were led out of the Uchiha compound, they were joined by Hyuuga Hinata, Yamanaka Ino, and Inuzuka Hana.

            Hana was angrily growling, and Hinata was outwardly composed, but there were faint tear tracks on her cheeks. Only Ino had schooled her features into an expression of happiness. Sasuke silently applauded her skills. He and Itachi followed them silently as the procession wound its way down the streets until they reached Naruto’s private residence. It dwarfed even the Hokage’s official residence, built to accommodate his large family. At the door, servants welcomed them in. They were shown to their rooms. Naruto soon emerged, larger than life, all blonde hair and blue eyes, strong and handsome, the perfect picture of a charming prince. His chakra levels were certainly off the charts, Sasuke admitted to himself.

            “Welcome, welcome!” He beamed. “Lunch will be served in the dining room in an hour. I hope to see you all! The servants will show you the way.”

 

            “He certainly seems likeable,” Ino said, after a pause.

            Sasuke said nothing, glancing at the servant waiting for him. “May neesan and I share a room?”

            “You and Itako-sama were assigned rooms in different wings, Satsuki-sama,” The servant stated. Sasuke frowned. So, Naruto intended to separate them already. How clever of him, to sever their bonds so soon…

            Well, no matter. With their chakra sensing abilities, they could find each other. Itachi gave him a glance, and began following his assigned servant. So Sasuke did the same.

            When Sasuke arrived at his room, he saw a new outfit laid out for him on the bed. It was a short-sleeved, dark blue cheongsam patterned with a lighter blue dragon coiling over his chest, from his right shoulder over his chest, around his waist and hips, ending almost at his knees, just above the hem of the skirt. Seiryuu, he thought a tad ironically as he changed. I wonder if Aniki got Suzaku.

            When they met for lunch, Itachi was there dressed, as Sasuke had suspected, in a red, Suzaku-print cheongsam. Ino wore yellow patterned with a Kirin, Hinata, white and Byakko, Hana, black and Genbu.

            Lunch was a slightly strained affair. There were dozens of girls, and while Sasuke recognized a few of them, there were many unfamiliar faces. After lunch, Naruto had them gather in a large training area.

            “I expect my ladies to be not only beautiful, but talented kunoichi as well.” He stated. “I know that you all come from clans who pride themselves on their abilities. So, you will all fight in matches of my choosing. The winners will compete again. The champion shall share my bed tonight.”

            Sasuke had to hide his surprise. He had not expected this! He was tempted to lose, but then Itachi’s eyes met his. No, they said. So, he gritted his teeth slightly. If that was Itachi’s plan, then he would not…

 

            “You first, Satsuki-chan,” Naruto called. Sasuke nodded, striding to the center of the arena, glad that his cheongsam had slits up to the thighs, and he wore shorts underneath, so his movement was not too restricted.

            “Isaribi-chan,” He called. Sasuke studied his opponent. She was a few years older, with purple hair in two ponytails. He could see the chakra inside of her. Naruto had chosen an opponent who used water release – how predictable. But that was not all she had inside of her… When the match began, he was already forming signs as he activated his Sharingan behind the genjutsu that hid his eyes. If Naruto expected him to be predictable, so be it. He spat out a grand fireball, and Isaribi countered with a waterfall. He engaged in taijutsu, she blocked and dodged with graceful strength. He charged up a chidori and sprang forwards, she blindsided him with a heavy blast of wind and sent him sprawling to the ground with a smile. Quietly, Sasuke began to hum under his breath. This time, Isaribi paid no attention.

            “Surrender,” She told him. “I’ve already won.” Her form was changing, scales rippling over her body, covering her feet and calves, forearms and hands. “I don’t need weapons to kill you. You’re pathetic. Is this all the Uchiha Clan is capable of?”

            Sasuke struggled to his feet, still humming. Isaribi lunged at him. He dodged to the side. She stabbed at him, what was obviously poison leaking from her claws. Some kind of lizard, he thought. He smiled, and hummed one last line. Isaribi abruptly froze in place. Naruto frowned, wondering what had paralyzed her. Was it an illusion? But Sasuke hadn’t used the Sharingan at all! Sasuke formed a senbon out of lightning, pressing it against Isaribi’s carotid artery, and looked to Naruto. He nodded, and ended the match.

           

            “S-So cold,” Isaribi shivered when Naruto woke her from the illusion of being buried in snow, trapped in an unending blizzard. “I… lost?”
            Sasuke smirked. Isaribi shot her a glare of pure venom. “How did you trap me in genjutsu? I never met your eyes!”

            “Why does everyone assume I use the Sharingan to cast visual genjutsu?” Sasuke asked rhetorically. Naruto looked over at Itako. Aha! Itako must have taught Satsuki the trick to cast genjutsu with only her hands!

            Itachi smiled back. They still didn’t understand, but he was not going to enlighten them…

 

            Itachi took down Guren in even less time than it took Sasuke to defeat Isaribi. Hinata proved adept against Temari, Ino suffered a humiliating loss against Haku, and Hana lost to Samui. Sasuke was allowed to sit out the second round, where Itachi decimated Samui and Hinata managed to take out Haku, just as Neji had in another timeline. Well now, Naruto thought. This could prove interesting… Hyuuga versus Uchiha…

           

            “Hinata,” Naruto told her. “Sit this match out. Satsuki-chan, Itako-chan, you two are up. And no going easy on Satsuki-chan, Itako-chan…”

            What do we do now? Sasuke thought as he faced Itachi across the field. They both knew that as powerful as Hinata might be, she would be no match for him, let alone Itachi. And while there was no way Sasuke was going to have sex with Naruto, the idea of Itachi having sex with Naruto was even more repellent. His eyes hardened, Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan activating. He could feel Itachi doing the same as they both got into fighting stances. As their eyes met, Sasuke saw the Tsukuyomi activate and suddenly understood, his Tsukuyomi activating at the same instant. A moment later, they were both within the Garden of Paradise.

            “Niisan…” Sasuke gazed into Itachi’s eyes.

            Hopefully, they had enough time. The full extent of this Naruto’s powers was still unknown. “Taijutsu only,” Itachi decided. “And then, we attack him directly.”

            Sasuke’s eyes hardened. “I understand.” There was no point in wasting chakra. If Naruto was Seiryuu, he would only respond to direct attack. If the other girls got in the way, they would just have to disable them. They reappeared in the real world, and then attacked. After about ten minutes, Naruto was bored. “That’s enough!” He snapped. As one, they turned to look at him. Then, they charged.

            Naruto hadn’t expected them to try and attack him, but he had bodyguards and other kunoichi for a reason. He watched, coolly assessing as they moved towards him. The two of them moved gracefully as a unit, mostly utilizing taijutsu and genjutsu, only applying ninjutsu when absolutely necessary. So they were attempting to conserve their chakra. He smirked. The Uchiha Clan was known for speed, and stealth, and most certainly not their stamina… He had to admit, they were a beautiful pair. And seeing the other girls taken down a peg, well, it might do them some good.

            “Now, now, ladies,” He drawled, when the two of them finally stood before him, panting slightly, Sharingan blazing in their eyes. “Let’s not be too hasty, hmm? I know you both want me, and you’ve certainly earned the privilege…”

           

            “Who said we wanted you?” Sasuke spat. “We’re doing this because we don’t want to be your concubines!”

            Naruto laughed. “You honestly think you two can beat me? You might have defeated those other girls, but I’m on a whole different level, dattebayo!”

            “If you’re so confident, then fight us!” Sasuke hissed.

            Itachi simply crossed his arms, giving Naruto a flat stare.

            “All right, Satsuki-chan, Itako-chan, if that’s the way you want it,” Naruto got up from his seat. “Just don’t cry too much when you finally lose… I wonder which one of you I’ll enjoy first tonight,” He smirked.

           

            Sasuke let Itachi take the lead, as the black flames of the Amaterasu bloomed into existence. Naruto looked impressed for a moment, and then the flames winked out of existence, absorbed by the Rinnegan’s Preta Path. “Mangekyo Sharingan, I see. I should have suspected you might have something stronger than the basic Sharingan, Itako-chan. Entertaining, but not really noteworthy, next?”

            This was not Naruto, Sasuke thought, the thought giving him strength as he wove the signs for Hyouton, guiding the blizzard towards the blonde. Naruto’s Preta path sucked that up as well, he retaliated with a gale force winds that Itachi countered with harsh flames. Naruto’s water quenched the fire but crashed against an earthen wall, with a sign, his lightning split the earth, Itachi’s wind dispersed the lightning, Naruto’s fire consumed the wind and Itachi’s water quenched the flames in a cycle, only to be stopped by Naruto’s own earthen barrier. Sasuke’s vines sprouted from the earth, wrapping around Naruto’s limbs, but they shriveled under the molten lava dripping from Naruto’s skin. Youton, Sasuke gasped. How was that possible?

            “Hyouton and Mokuton, Satsuki-chan,” Naruto tilted his head to the side. “Aren’t you full of surprises as well?”

            Sasuke glared.

 

            Well then, since Naruto wasn’t going to die any time soon, and hadn’t even moved from his throne-like chair, there was no reason to go easy on him. Itachi gave him the briefest of nods, and then they moved as one. Susanoo activated around both of them, metal forming in Sasuke’s hands into fine senbon.

            “Kinzokuton,” Naruto tilted his head to the side. “I thought I was the only one with that ability.” He smirked as he formed a pair of swords. “This will be fun…”

            What is he? Sasuke felt his frustration coming to a head. This was most definitely not his friend. If this version of Naruto were Seiryuu, working with him was going to be insufferable. Unless… Sasuke’s eyes narrowed. Unless he was one of their enemies, like Mahri and that other man…

 

            As Itachi’s Susanoo swung the Blade of Totsuka, Naruto dodged easily. “You won’t catch me the same way you caught Geri,” He taunted. “I already know who you are, Suzaku-seikun… And I also know that you’re not at your full power. You cannot defeat me.”

            His hands blurred as he made a familiar set of seals. Sasuke’s eyes widened. “Niisan, that’s Jinton!”

            Itachi’s Susanoo brought the Yata Mirror up. The mirror expanded, growing in size to cover them both. Sasuke’s Susanoo disappeared, and he ducked into Itachi’s Susanoo as Naruto grinned.

            “Boom,” He chuckled, as the world disintegrated around them.

 

End Chapter

Started 3/11/16

Completed 3/11/16

Chapter Text

Chapter 37: Illusions Shattered

 

            Sasuke’s Rinnegan opened wide. Preta Path, he thought desperately, with every ounce of strength he had. Itachi poured all the chakra he could towards Susanoo, keeping the Yata Mirror in place. Naruto, or whatever he was, laughed at their futile attempts. The last thing Sasuke saw was Itachi transforming into his Suzaku form, before the world went white.

            When Sasuke awoke, he was not lying in the dungeons, as he had expected he might be, but on a soft couch in what was obviously Naruto’s bedroom. The opulent decorations, the smell of incense in the air with a hint of ramen, the enormous four poster bed with rich red sheets trimmed with gold and brocaded curtains, the ceiling painted to look like the night sky… it was all meant to be impressive, and yet, somewhat tacky at the same time. He groaned, rubbing his head, noticing that he was also quite naked. Well, some things could not be helped.

            “Ah, you’re awake,” He heard Naruto’s voice. “I should really thank you, Satsuki-chan,” He grinned, a very unpleasant smile, Sasuke realized. “After all, if not for you, I would never have been able to capture Suzaku.”

            “What did you do to neesan?” Sasuke demanded, barely remembering to use the right form of address for Itachi’s current gender.

            “Oh, nothing yet…” Naruto grinned, beckoning Sasuke over to the bed, where Sasuke could see a naked Itachi chained to the bedposts by his manacled wrists and ankles. A quick glance with his Sharingan confirmed his worst fears. Itachi was completely and utterly out of chakra. He was just about running on empty himself.

 

            Sasuke swallowed. “P-Please don’t…” He begged. “I…I’ll take her place.”

            Naruto laughed. “How generous of you, Satsuki-chan,” He almost crowed with laughter. “And after all that protesting earlier! But you see; I’ll have to refuse.” He grinned. “Let me tell you a secret… You know how I got all of these abilities?”

            Sasuke shook his head.

            “I have a very special kekkei genkai, Satsuki-chan…” Naruto said. “In fact, it was the only one I was actually naturally born with – not the Rinnegan, or the Mokuton, or anything like that… no, it was this. With my kekkei genkai, I can absorb and copy the kekkei genkai of anyone I have intercourse with.”

            His eyes widened in horror at the revelation.

            “So you see, Satsuki-chan,” Naruto continued. “I have no real interest in you. I already have the Hyouton and the Mokuton, and Itako-chan’s Mangekyo Sharingan is much stronger than yours… she also has a much nicer body. And since she is Suzaku’s current host – can you imagine how much stronger I will be, once I absorb a god?”

            Sasuke could, and he didn’t want to. Naruto would be invincible.

 

            Within the blink of an eye, Sasuke was standing in front of Naruto, guarding Itachi’s unconscious body with his naked one. Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan swirled to life in his eyes. “No.”

            “You’re in no position to stop me, Satsuki-chan,” Naruto said impatiently. “Get out of the way.”

            Sasuke swiped a finger down on a familiar summoning seal. The Kiba blades were in his hands, crackling with lightning. “No!”

            “Nice swords,” Naruto commented, before forming the signs for the atomic dismantling technique once more. “I’ll make sure to just destroy your body…”

            I can’t die here! Sasuke thought desperately. This time, I have to protect Itachi! I can’t be weak anymore! His Rinnegan eye widened. Preta Path, he thought as desperately as he could. Please… He would have prayed to Suzaku, but Itachi was Suzaku, and needed his help, so he prayed to Seiryuu. I’ll do anything, he thought. I’ll give up everything… I’ll… give up niisan… Seiryuu can have him…

            In an instant, the world shifted.

 

            Sasuke was not sure where the sudden surge of chakra had come from. Seiryuu, he thought. Seiryuu must have granted his desperate prayer. He knew that there would be a terrible price to pay later, but for the moment, he could only concentrate on saving Itachi. He was vaguely aware of the fact that he was now wearing clothes. He could ponder that later. For now, his main concern was to get Naruto away from Itachi. He noted that Naruto was attempting to trap him in another cube. The Kiba Blades were in his hands, pure blue-white lightning coursed up their blades. With two swift slashes, the barrier crumbled.

            Molten lava surged towards him, a veritable river of it. He wove ice with a thought and the lava froze and cracked under his feet, shattered at a touch of his fingertips. A thunderstorm brewed inside the mansion, heavy rain fell as lightning crashed and thunder boomed. Sasuke gently calmed the storm with lullaby. Naruto cursed as acidic mist seeped out from every pore of his being. Susanoo snapped into being around Sasuke as he cut Itachi’s bonds, wrapped him in soft blue chakra, clothing him in light.

            Explosions sounded all around him. So, Naruto had Deidara’s explosive techniques too. Sasuke was not wholly surprised. Susanoo grew wings, launched itself into the air. Undeterred, Naruto followed, although his wings were those of the rhinoceros beetle. He did possess all nine tailed beasts, Sasuke remembered. Then again, Sasuke would not have batted an eyelash even if Naruto had Mahri Suzuki’s powers, at this stage of the game. He pressed his lips to Itachi’s, channeling as much chakra as he could into his brother’s unconscious body through that kiss as he dared, but Itachi did not even stir. Then, a barrage of diamond-hard crystals slammed into Susanoo, cracks started to appear, and Sasuke had to go on the offensive.

            Diamond was one of the hardest substances known to man. But diamond, Sasuke remembered, was made out of carbon. It was strange, he thought, that he could see so clearly. He could see the individual molecules that made up the diamond crystals, and a little rearrangement here and there… diamond darkened, crumbled, reduced to worthless charcoal. He stared into Naruto’s eyes, into his very soul, and pulled. With a cry, Chomei broke free, winging off into the distance like a streak of light.

            Naruto faltered for a moment, and Sasuke pressed his advantage. The blonde recovered quickly, Sasuke had to give him points for that. With a roar, new wings sprouted from his shoulder blades, a sickly gray, oddly reminiscent of those of the cursed seal. Sasuke did not care. His Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan spun, as Susanoo wrapped Naruto gently, almost tenderly in a large, delicate-looking soap bubble. Naruto frowned, as he was drenched, not in water, but in what tasted like soap. Glycerol, Sasuke thought, binding water molecules. And now… nitric acid formed, under heat and pressure…

            Naruto roared, feeling his skin bubble as the boiling acid poured over him, but he healed almost instantly, and the wounds were insignificant. Seconds later, he ripped his way out of the bubble, feeling fresh air on his face as his chakra cloak spread over him, chakra roaring to life in a fury. “Die!” He screamed. That was when his world exploded in indescribable agony as the liquid nitroglycerin he was covered in all detonated.

            Sasuke summoned one his medical kits, and came out with a handful of syringes, filled with clear liquid. Was she trying to poison him this time, Naruto wondered through the agony, staying back until he had healed. Well, he was immune to poisons! Unerringly, the needles punched through his chakra cloak, sinking into his heart. The plungers sank down, their contents flooding inside. The pain was harsh, but Naruto grit his teeth, yanking the syringes out. He would show her! He… The concentrated potassium chloride stopped his heart completely.

            The instant that happened, the tailed beasts fled. Streaks of light shot off in all directions. Sasuke watched in satisfaction. That ought to deprive Naruto of some of his ability, even if he wasn’t dead. Sasuke waited for a moment, but Naruto didn’t stir. Just to make sure, he decapitated Naruto and then incinerated his head with Amaterasu. He was going to destroy the rest of the body, but then he felt a hand on his shoulder.

            “That’s enough, Sasuke.”

            “Itachi,” Sasuke turned to face his brother, who had apparently just woken up. He noted with satisfaction that Itachi was clothed in Suzaku’s robes, wings and tail sweeping behind him. Clearly he had gained enough chakra back to manifest that power. “Are you well?”

            “Well enough for us to leave,” Itachi replied.

            Sasuke nodded, dismissing Susanoo. He felt a sudden wave of exhaustion overcome him, and Itachi caught him as he fell. Thank you, Seiryuu… he thought, eyes closing, before he sank into blissful oblivion.

           

            Itachi stroked Sasuke’s hair as he watched his little brother sleep. “Sasuke…” He whispered. “I always knew you were stronger than I was…”

            Sasuke, of course, did not hear any of this, and were he awake he would undoubtedly have vehemently protested the statement. The elegant robes and armor he had worn earlier had faded away, and fortunately, the dimension they had chosen was stable enough and their current bodies were safe and clothed and peaceful. They were also, unfortunately, seven and twelve years of age, respectively, but it could not be helped.

            Sasuke was so exhausted that he did not go to the Academy the next morning and was sick with the flu, which made Mikoto worry and Fugaku frown. Itachi, unfortunately, had a mission, and had to leave his little brother unattended for the next few days. By the time he returned, Sasuke had gotten over the flu and resumed his studies at the Academy.

            “Sasuke,” Itachi spoke.          

            “I’m ready to go, niisan.” Sasuke replied, smiling at him innocently. Itachi should have recovered his chakra by now…

            Itachi shook his head, kneeling down next to Sasuke and staring into his eyes. Sasuke frowned, before he was caught in Tsukuyomi.

 

            “Niisan, what’s wrong?” Sasuke asked. “Have your powers not recovered?”

            “That is not it, Sasuke.” Itachi replied. “There is an important conversation we need to have before we leave.”

            “I understand,” Sasuke looked down. He swallowed. Itachi must have found out about the deal he had made with Seiryuu. He should never have tried to conceal it from his brother. “I… I had no choice, niisan! Naruto was going to rape you and absorb your power as Suzaku, and if that had happened… I couldn’t let him do it! I’m sorry, niisan! I know I cannot ask for your forgiveness, but…” He broke off when Itachi gave him a thoroughly puzzled look. “Niisan?”

            “Sasuke, what are you talking about?” Itachi finally asked.

            He swallowed. “I made a deal with Seiryuu. In exchange for his power, I would,” Sasuke choked, “I would give up any claim I had on you.” He took Itachi’s stunned silence for a condemnation, and flinched back, as though he expected Itachi to hit him, or worse.

            “Sasuke,” Itachi reached for him. Sasuke edged away even further. “Sasuke,” Itachi tried again. “You don’t have to give me up. Sasuke, you are Seiryuu.”

           

            Sasuke saw Itachi’s lips form the words, and of course, with the Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan activated, they were forever engraved in his memory. He heard them, but they did not register at first. Then, he shook his head. “Niisan,” He whispered. “I know you are trying to comfort me, but I have already accepted the truth. I could never be a god…” I could never be stronger than you… his eyes pleaded. Don’t you understand?

            Itachi could not take Sasuke’s denials any longer. He would have to force Sasuke to accept the truth. It was for his own good. He grasped Sasuke forcefully by the shoulders, heard him hiss in pain. He gazed into Sasuke’s eyes, forcing his memories of the fight into Sasuke’s mind, feeling Sasuke’s shocked betrayal at the realization that his brother had feigned helpless unconsciousness to draw out his true power, that from the very beginning, when he had been lying naked in Naruto’s bed, seemingly lifeless, he could have destroyed him…

            Sasuke saw the blue light envelop him, forming dragon-scaled armor and robes, saw the delicate horns sprout from his head, but those were minor details compared to what his brother had done to him. “Why?” His voice broke as he stared at Itachi, tears running down his face. “Why, niisan?”

            “Would you have accepted the truth any other way, Sasuke?” Itachi asked, tilting Sasuke’s chin up and pressing his lips to his in a gentle kiss. When they finally broke apart, Itachi gently brushed Sasuke’s bangs back. “Think about it, otouto.”

            Sasuke’s initial reaction was to protest, but he tried to view the situation logically. As much as it hurt to admit it, Itachi was right. He was so used to feeling inferior to Itachi and expecting his older brother to protect him that he would never have expected or accepted the fact that he might possibly have Seiryuu’s powers, even if Itachi explained the facts to him calmly and rationally. Slowly, his grip on his brother tightened. “Niisan…”

            “Yes, Sasuke?” Itachi asked, wondering what his brother was going to say now.

            “I still love you.” Sasuke murmured.

            Itachi’s eyes softened. “I love you too, Sasuke.”

            “And Itachi,” Sasuke’s voice was almost a purr, as his hands slid down to Itachi’s hips, feeling the curve of his buttocks. “I’m not seven years old right now.”

            Itachi’s lips tilted up in a slight smile.

 

End Chapter

Started 3/11/16

Completed 3/12/16

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Masashi Kishimoto. This non-profit, non-copyright infringing fanfiction belongs to me under international copyright laws and taking it is plagiarism. Don’t steal and don’t sue. Thank you *Phantomness bows*

Chapter 38: Shame, shame, shame

 

            Sasuke felt a tad guilty for not immediately returning to their home dimension, but the threat was still out there, and they had not yet found Byakko and Genbu. Surely, their mission was to eliminate this threat, which undoubtedly would threaten every dimension? He hummed the illusion into place as he blocked a kick, the last notes lingering in the air as he showed Kakashi the sight of his death, stopping him in his tracks for a second, long enough to cut the bells from his belt with a kunai before dropping them in his own pouch. Kakashi fell to the ground with a thump, and Sasuke frowned when he felt his teacher’s chakra levels abruptly plummet.

            That… was not supposed to happen.

           

            “Kakashi?” He turned around, eyes widening when Kakashi didn’t get up. He didn’t seem to be breathing. “Kakashi!”

            Stay calm, he thought, as his medical training took over. He broke the illusion. One precise application of electrical current restarted the man’s heart, a shuddering breath followed. Sasuke’s Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan spun frantically beneath the genjutsu that concealed his eyes, scanning every inch of the man’s body for any other signs or symptoms. There seemed to be none. Good…

            Kakashi sat up with a groan, seeing Sasuke staring at him with an expression of horror on his face. “Sasuke-kun?” His gaze drifted down to the missing bells at his waist. Well, that was unexpected.

            Just then, the alarm rang.

           

            Sasuke mechanically followed Kakashi back to their meeting place.

            “Well,” Kakashi said. “Sasuke-kun got both bells, which means…”
            “Wait,” Sasuke broke off. He fished the bells out of his belt pouch. He handed one to Naruto, and one to Sakura. “Send me back to the Academy.”

            “What the hell, bastard?” Naruto yelled. “I don’t need your pity!”

            “Sasuke-kun…” Sakura stared at him in disbelief.

            “And this team does not need a member that nearly killed their Jounin-sensei.” Sasuke finished. The silence that followed was deafening.

 

            “Sasuke-kun, I know you’re strong, but…” Sakura began.

            “Stop bragging! There’s no way you could even come close to hurting Kakashi-sensei!” Naruto screamed out.

            Kakashi’s gaze sharpened. He did feel unnaturally tired, more than he would have been from simply breaking a genjutsu. “Perhaps you could explain that statement a little more clearly, Sasuke-kun?”

            Sasuke’s three-tomoe Sharingan whirled to life in his eyes, surprising them all. “Why don’t I show you, then…”

            In an instant, all three of them were trapped.

 

            When the memory ended, a moment later, Sakura was pale and shaking, Naruto was furious, and Kakashi was studying Sasuke with an indecipherable expression.

            “Sound-based genjutsu and medical ninjutsu, Sasuke-kun… I don’t believe you mentioned those hobbies yesterday.” He said casually.

            Sasuke gave him a flat stare. “I’m a monster; just like that man… the best thing for you to do is to kill me, before I do any more damage.”

            “No, I don’t think so.” Kakashi leaned over and ruffled his hair. “Enjoy your lunch, kids. Sasuke-kun and I need to have a little talk with the Hokage.”  

            Sakura and Naruto blinked as Kakashi and Sasuke vanished.

           

            “This is unexpected, Kakashi,” The Hokage looked up when Kakashi and Sasuke flickered into his office without an appointment. Fortunately, he had not been in the middle of an important meeting or working on sensitive paperwork. “What brings you two here?”

            Sasuke glanced at Kakashi, wondering if he was about to be expelled from the ninja program for almost killing his Jounin-sensei.

            “I need to know if there are any openings in the hospital’s accelerated program for a medic-nin trainee.” Kakashi said, without preamble.

            Sasuke blinked. What?

            The Hokage also looked confused. “Kakashi, you have never been interested in medical ninjutsu before. Why the sudden request?”

            “My student here,” and Sasuke could hear the pride in Kakashi’s voice, “Took me down with a stunning, sound-based genjutsu, stopped my heart, and promptly brought me back to life with a precise application of raiton chakra. I didn’t even realize what had happened until he showed me his memory.”

            “Sound-based genjutsu and medical ninjutsu,” The Hokage said slowly, looking at Sasuke, as though he were seeing him for the first time. “An interesting combination…”

            “That man… Itachi would never expect it…” Sasuke said, feeling as though he had to give some sort of explanation. “With anything else, I would only be playing catch-up.” Everyone knew he was obsessed with revenge, so why not play the avenger to the hilt?

           

            “He’ll have to undergo the standard written tests and practical exams,” The Hokage said, after a moment. “But if he can pass them, I see no reason why not.”

            Sasuke smirked inwardly. That would not be a problem.

            When Kakashi dropped by Sasuke’s house to check on him that evening, he saw the medical texts and scrolls covering his bookshelves and the chemical and biological apparatus set up in another room, a makeshift laboratory. A few books were lying open over his desk, and he chuckled quietly, not knowing that they had not been there that morning.

            Sasuke was lying on his bed, reading a scroll. Kakashi left him to his studying, and went to check on his other students.

 

            D-rank missions were child’s play. They were also meant to build teamwork. In an effort to placate Naruto, Sasuke let him take the lead on their D-rank missions. Unfortunately, that seemed to aggravate the blonde further.

            “I don’t need your pity!” He screamed in Sasuke’s face.

            “I’m not meant to be the leader.” Sasuke replied calmly. “I specialize in genjutsu and medical ninjutsu. That means my role is to support the team.”

            Naruto blinked. “You mean I get to be awesome and kill the enemy?”

            Sasuke nodded, slowly.

            “Awesome!” Naruto screamed. “Just you watch! I’m going to be Hokage, dattebayo!”

            Sasuke wished he had remembered to bring earplugs.

            “…Naruto,” Sakura said. “Our mission for the day is to weed this garden!” With that, she punched him in the skull.

            Sasuke knelt down and began to pull weeds.

            “I’ll get this done in no time!” Naruto enthused; fingers forming a familiar cross seal. “Kage Bunshin no jutsu!” Soon, masses of greenery were flying through the air as Naruto and his shadow clones enthusiastically yanked up every green plant in sight.

            “Naruto!” Sakura screamed. “Those are the flowers!”

            The woman who had paid them to weed her garden was getting increasingly angry. Kakashi watched from behind his mask with amusement as she stalked towards his team. Her cane thwacked down hard on the original Naruto’s bottom.

            “Ow!” Naruto yelped.

            “You demon brat!” She spat. “You-!” She raised her cane for another strike, but Sasuke interspersed himself between them, catching her cane.

            “That’s enough,” He said, eyes Sharingan red. “Please. We’ll pay for the damage.”

            Kakashi noticed with alarm that Sasuke had begun to hum. Surely he wasn’t going to use genjutsu on a civilian? But as he watched, the large patch of denuded garden slowly returned to normal, flowers growing back, perfect, pristine, weeded, even better than before. The woman’s eyes widened as well, before she rushed past him, touching, feeling the flowers, as if to verify they were real. He joined her. It was. They were tangible. This was no illusion! How…

            “What did you do?” Eiko demanded, amazed. “My garden… you fixed it!”

            “I prayed to Suzaku,” Sasuke replied, simply. “The Uchiha always have.”

            He turned to his teammates. “Sakura, why don’t you show Naruto which ones the weeds are, so he doesn’t make any more mistakes?”

            Sakura nodded, and Naruto sheepishly followed her lead. In silence, they weeded the rest of her garden.

            Eiko, ashamed of her earlier behavior, invited them in for tea and sweets afterwards. Naruto had never been invited to anyone’s house for tea. He copied Sasuke’s manners, and tried not to eat too many of the sweets, despite how hungry he was. To his surprise, Eiko gave him two extra plates, as if to apologize for hitting him, so he felt better.

             

            “Ne, Sakura-chan, what’s Suzaku?” Naruto asked as they walked back after tea.

            “Suzaku-seikun,” Sakura said thoughtfully. “He is the vermilion bird of the south and embodies love. He was the second god born after Seiryuu, the azure dragon of the east. His element is fire, and his season is summer. He has great powers of magic and healing. Sorry, Naruto-kun, that’s all I know.”

            “Fire, huh,” Naruto scratched his head. “So that’s why the Uchiha pray to him…”

            Sasuke nodded.

            “And healing,” Kakashi added. “You prayed for Suzaku to heal her garden, I presume?”

            Sasuke nodded again.

            “Well, Sasuke-kun,” Kakashi said. “That certainly seems to be the reasonable explanation. After all, it wouldn’t be as if my darling little student would have the Mokuton, despite healing techniques requiring water nature, and his blood sample showing that he had all five elemental natures, including possible hybridization, would it? After all, he wouldn’t deliberately lie to his teammates and his Jounin-sensei, would he?”

           

            Sasuke’s shoulders slumped. “…How many,” He asked tiredly. “How many hybrid strains did my blood sample show?”

            “That’s for you to answer, Sasuke-kun,” Kakashi replied. “Not me.”
            “Hyouton,” Sasuke replied listlessly. “Mokuton, as you guessed. I’m still working on Ranton. Kinzokuton…”

            Three kekkei genkai and a kekkei touta, Kakashi thought in awe, and they called Itachi the genius of the Uchiha clan…

            Sasuke-kun is even cooler than I imagined! Sakura thought gleefully.

            Naruto just blinked, not understanding what was going on.

 

            Kakashi came to a decision. If he was going to keep this team together, he was going to have to bring Sakura and Naruto up to Sasuke’s level, quickly. It was time to take this seriously.

            “Sasuke, you’re dismissed.” He said. The boy nodded, clearly having expected this.

            “Sakura, Naruto,” He smiled at them.

            “It’s time to train.

            The two of them looked up at him, confused. “Kakashi-sensei?” Sakura asked.

            “Sasuke has his hospital duties to keep him busy,” Kakashi explained. It was true. Sasuke had passed his exams with flying colors and been enrolled in the accelerated program. “Now, I’ll have to focus on your training as well.”

            “Oh! Are you going to focus on teaching us super awesome techniques, Kakashi-sensei?” Naruto asked, jumping up and down.

            Kakashi chuckled. “Not yet. First things first…” He eyed them critically. Sakura had excellent chakra control, but with how poor her stamina was… he suddenly had an idea. “First, we’ll start with this.” He led them to a nearby park. “This is the tree climbing exercise.”

            “But we already know how to climb trees, Kakashi-sensei,” Sakura protested.

            “Not this way,” Kakashi replied, and proceeded to demonstrate. Naruto badly needed to learn chakra control, and he wanted to test how good Sakura’s was. He also needed to speak to Gai, so he left a shadow clone to watch them and went to hunt down the green beast. As expected, the man was enthusiastic about training one of his students. So enthusiastic, in fact, that Kakashi fled before Gai could wax too poetic about the experience.

            Naruto… Kakashi smiled. Well, what was the use of knowing over a thousand techniques if one didn’t pass the right ones on?

            He smiled to himself. Training Naruto was going to be fun. 

Chapter Text

Sasuke was relieved when Naruto demanded the C-rank mission, because it had been almost three months since he had seen his brother in the flesh, and even if time and space were no constraint to the wielder of a Rinnegan, much less a god, he had not wanted to raise Konoha’s suspicions any more than he already had. Zabuza would not be alone in this endeavor either, and so, he had sought out Kisame, and his partner…

            The Hokage studied them with more approval than he had in the last timeline. Sakura’s hair had been cut short, and she wore a practical red shirt and fingerless gloves. Her taijutsu training with Gai had clearly paid off in new musculature. Naruto’s orange jumpsuit had been replaced with one in a much more tasteful shade of dark green, and upon his back was a katana, the sword all Anbu carried. He nodded. “Very well, Naruto. In fact, I have a C-rank mission right here for you…”

            This time, when Tazuna walked in, Naruto was able to keep his mouth shut, so he was slightly more polite. He was still drunk though, but that did not matter. Soon, Sasuke thought, as they left the village. Soon, he would see Itachi again.

 

            The Demon Brothers were a mere afterthought. Sasuke stayed behind to guard Tazuna. He let Sakura and Naruto take the glory as Kakashi faked his death, watched with approval as Sakura gut punched one of them into a tree, Naruto neatly disemboweled another. Clearly Kakashi and Gai’s rigorous training had paid off. He heard them defend their choice to continue the mission, he watched as Kakashi sent the mission update back to Konoha. He voiced his agreement, and they walked on.

            Surprisingly, Zabuza did not attack them, not until they had escorted Tazuna home. Instead, Zabuza and his allies ambushed them at his home. Clever, Sasuke thought, as the black flames of Amaterasu consumed the walls of Tazuna’s home a bare half hour after the ninja had entered it. Very clever, niisan…  They stumbled out into the mist, blind, staggered, trying to protect the civilians, the whining boy, the sobbing woman, and of course, the drunken old man. They were spread thin, perfect prey for the three S-rank missing-nins (and Haku) Gato had hired.

            Kakashi cursed as he spotted the three figures waiting for them. He had already heard about Momochi Zabuza from the Demon brothers. He had thought he would be working alone. He had miscalculated, and that mistake was likely to cost his students their lives. The other two men with him were dressed in black cloaks with red clouds, the uniform of the Akatsuki. The boy was almost an afterthought. “Uchiha Itachi…” He heard Sasuke hiss.

            “I’ll introduce myself.” The last man said, grinning widely, showing his sharp teeth. “My name is Hoshigaki Kisame. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

           

            “Naruto, Sakura,” Kakashi heard his voice saying. “Protect Tazuna and his family, and run. Sasuke… You know Itachi best. I’m counting on you.”

            Sasuke gave the barest hint of a nod.

            Naruto and Sakura looked ready to protest, but the deadly seriousness of Kakashi’s tone warned them not to argue. That seemed to have the intended effect, until the killing intent Zabuza was projecting froze them in their tracks.

            Sasuke was already moving. He ignored Naruto and Sakura. He would do something for them later, if he could, but at the moment, the two Mist ninja were the greatest threat. He had no doubt Kakashi could take down Haku when it came down to it, and Itachi was not his enemy. He reached for the near-infinite power hidden deep within him, withdrew just a tendril of it, and let it flow through him. He heard the shocked gasps from Zabuza and Kisame as he approached them, felt the thin horns sprout from his head, the blue light clothe him in dragon-scaled armor and flowing robes. “S-Seiryuu-seikun…”

            Kakashi’s Sharingan eye widened. It was an illusion. It had to be. It was a bold move, and he had to give Sasuke credit for it. Kirigakure shinobi were not a particularly religious group, but they worshipped Seiryuu for a good reason. Water and lightning and war – those concepts perfectly embodied their country. In one glance, their souls were laid bare before him, and it was with a feeling of pity that he slipped them both into eternal sleep. Samehada and Kubikiribouchou clattered to the ground, abandoned by their masters. Sasuke gathered them both up, tucked them into a particular twist of space. He might need them later.

            Haku screamed his defiance, charging at Sasuke as the genjutsu faded. Kakashi moved between them, engaging the youth in a taijutsu battle. Sakura and Naruto finally remembered their instructions and hustled Tazuna and his family off, not looking back. Sasuke landed gracefully in front of Itachi, who gave him a smile. Amaterasu flared to life around them, trapping them in a ring of black fire. A moment later, both Uchihas had vanished.

 

            Sasuke pinned Itachi beneath him, no longer wearing the form of a child. He kissed him harshly, his tongue plunging into Itachi’s mouth. Itachi’s tongue wrapped around his brother’s; teasing him gently as their kisses intensified. He thought they would burn from the intense passion. It had been far too long since they had last seen each other, touched each other casually; much less consummated their love. At this moment, there was no thought of the mission, no thought of Konoha or Akatsuki, they only thought of each other.

            So strong, Itachi thought proudly as Sasuke stripped him of his clothing, his fingers sleek and dripping as he forced them inside of him. My beautiful brother, my love… how powerful you’ve become… a groan escaped his lips as Sasuke curled his fingers, finding that particular spot inside of him. Sasuke smirked in triumph, kissing his way down Itachi’s chest as he tortured him exquisitely with his fingers. “Are you ready, niisan?”

            “Sasuke…” Itachi arched against him as Sasuke withdrew his fingers, leaving him feeling unbearably empty, but only for a moment. Then Sasuke was in him, and he felt that familiar pressure building up inside of him. Sasuke buried himself to the hilt in Itachi’s tight, wet, heat, rocking his hips rhythmically against his brother’s ass. “Itachi…” He hissed between his teeth, pulling out partway, only to thrust harder into him. Their pleasure mounted higher and higher, the conflagration building up to a raging inferno, before at long last; it blazed white-hot within them both.

           

            In the Akatsuki hideout, the demonic statue of the outer path shattered into dust. At the same time, every Zetsu in existence, including the original, withered and died in Suzaku’s unrelenting flames. Obito Uchiha would be shocked when he discovered what had happened. Until then, Akatsuki would continue on as normal.

            “Now it’s your turn,” Sasuke purred, looking up at his brother through half-lidded eyes. “Rape me hard, niisan. Remember, you’ll need to convince Kakashi.”

            “Speaking of convincing Kakashi,” Itachi said dryly, “If Konoha knows about your bloodline limits, they’ll need a convincing battle first.”

            Sasuke sighed. His brother had a point, as irritating as it was. He reluctantly put his clothing back on, and resumed his twelve-year old appearance. Moments later, they were battling. Itachi’s Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan met the simple swirls of his Sharingan. An hour later, he was pinned against the ground, completely out of chakra, one of Itachi’s shadow clones holding him down, as the real Itachi, cloaked in Susanoo, casually gouged out his left eye.

His right eye followed mere seconds later.

            Of course, Sasuke did not need his eyes to see, and there was a certain sick satisfaction he felt as Itachi straddled his hips, spread him open with his bloody fingers. As he had requested, Itachi took him with harsh, punishing strokes, without mercy. He marked his bare chest and shoulders with bite marks and scratches, cum streamed from his abused anus. He pressed one last kiss to his brother’s mouth, and then disappeared. The ninken were coming.

            Kakashi was horrified when he finally found Sasuke. They had driven off the Akatsuki, and three of their opponents were dead, but at what cost?

            “Kakashi, should we pursue him?” Pakkun asked.

            Ninja who abandon the mission are trash, but those who abandon their comrades are even worse than trash, Kakashi remembered Obito telling him. He remembered telling his students, not three months ago. And now… he felt bile rise in his throat as he stared down at the broken boy.

            “Not at the moment,” Kakashi said, wishing he had a blanket or something to wrap the unconscious boy in. He settled for getting his clothes back on him, glad that Itachi hadn’t torn them to shreds at least, and making his best speed back to the village. There had to be some kind of a doctor there, right? If not, his best bet was to send another urgent message back to Konoha. They needed to know of this development, and fast.

            Uchiha Itachi had returned.   

 

            A week later, four Konoha Anbu arrived in Wave on the same day as the wandering priest of Suzaku, Chichiri. He had light blue hair and a cheerful smile on his face, and when he heard of the poor young ninja that had suffered so terribly trying to protect the bridge builder, he insisted on saying a prayer for him. Kakashi was off guarding the bridge builder with Naruto, and Sakura could not see the harm of letting him inside the small room at the inn where Sasuke was resting, bandages covering his empty eye sockets.

            She did, however, apologize as she checked him for weapons, and claimed his shakujo. He simply knelt down by Sasuke’s bed and began to pray. As he did, a warm red light filled the room, and Sakura realized that she was so tired, she just wanted to sleep… When she awoke, both Sasuke and the priest were gone, and she was staring into the masked faces of four Konoha Anbu.

 

            Itachi healed Sasuke’s eyes with a touch. “Obito and Pein are dead.”

            “Then this dimension is stable.” Sasuke verified.

            Itachi gave him a solemn nod.

            “The Anbu can easily take care of Gato and his mercenaries.” Sasuke decided. He mentally shifted, making sure that all of his equipment was packed before they made the next jump.  “Are you ready, niisan?”

            He slipped his hand into his brother’s. “Always.”

            Sasuke smiled, and they vanished.

 

End Chapter

Started 3/13/16

Completed 3/13/16

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Masashi Kishimoto. This non-profit, non-copyright infringing fanfiction belongs to me under international copyright laws and taking it is plagiarism. Don’t steal and don’t sue. Thank you *Phantomness bows*

Warnings:  Filler-verse, SasuIta

Chapter 40: Make Your Choice

 

Filler Dimension 1

 

            Sasuke clutched the new armband for the lieutenant’s position in the Konoha police force as he walked away from his father. I’ll show you how far I’ve come, father, he thought with a slight smile. I’m even stronger than Shisui, and I am definitely more powerful than Itachi, but I won’t be doing it for your approval… this was a completely different timeline, where the Yondaime Hokage had diplomatically solved the Uchiha coup d’état. He had spent the last three years training with Shisui, and had only just returned to Konoha. He would stay, he thought. Pein was coming, and then, his father would see just how strong he had become.

            Those who thought Sasuke would let them run wild in the police corp. soon learned better. Fugaku was pleasantly surprised at how well Sasuke kept order, although he showed no particular praise for his second son. Sasuke did not expect any. He had eyes for only one person, and that was Itachi. The second night he returned, Sasuke left a perfect, all-senses illusion in his room and slipped into Itachi’s. He found his older brother at his desk, sharpening and polishing his weapons. He slipped behind him, embracing him tightly. “Niisan…”

            “Welcome home, Sasuke,” Itachi did not look up, his hands still busy, until he finally, laid the kunai down. Sasuke’s grip tightened a fraction.

            “I missed you,” He whispered. The last six months had been hell. Assimilating his memories from the new dimension had only taken a few days, but realizing that he would not be able to see Itachi for another six months had been unexpected. If not for his desire for power, he would have left the unit, but it would have looked suspicious. Nonetheless, he had needed to increase his abilities slowly, or Shisui would have suspected something was wrong…

            “I missed you as well, Sasuke.” Itachi replied. “Both of us did…”

            Sasuke nodded, slowly. “Both of us did as well, even if he is too prideful to admit it.”

            Itachi smiled softly. “He knows.”

           

            Now that the awkward conversation was over, the two turned to face each other. Rinnegan and Mangekyo Sharingan swirled in their eyes as they kissed, moving to Itachi’s bed. The silencing and protective seals Itachi had placed flared into being, as a precaution, Sasuke wove another layer of genjutsu to hide them from view. This was no ordinary illusion, Itachi thought with pride. This was almost a reverse Izanagi – real enough to blur the line between reality and illusion. Those who passed by would see Itachi sleeping peacefully, hear nothing, see nothing, sense and notice nothing out of the ordinary.

            Sasuke claimed Itachi’s lips in a kiss that left them both breathless, his fingers sliding underneath Itachi’s dark shirt, finding his nipples. He flicked them lightly, hearing Itachi gasp, even as Itachi’s palm slid between his thighs, pressing down hard at the base of his shaft, applying pressure to his sac as well. Itachi’s other hand wrapped around his length and slowly, deliberately, cruelly began to stroke. Sasuke learned forward, his canine teeth elongating slightly, and he sank his fangs into Itachi’s left shoulder, drawing blood.

            “Impatient…” Itachi chided, gently, although his hands continued moving, massaging the precum oozing from the tip of Sasuke’s member onto his prick, using it as natural lubrication. Sasuke narrowed his eyes, his hands sliding down from Itachi’s chest to his hips, feeling thick, viscous fluid coat the fingers of his right hand as he felt his brother lean back onto the bed and elevate his hips slightly, curving his spine to allow him better access to his tight pucker.

            “Who’s the one being impatient, niisan?” He purred, stroking his cleft, feeling the tight sphincter as he pushed the tip of the first finger inside.

            Itachi hissed, glaring up at Sasuke slightly as his brother tormented him so. He tightened his grip on Sasuke’s cock and jerked him off even more roughly, but Sasuke just continued to smile as he stretched him very slowly. Once he had four fingers inside of his beautiful older brother, Itachi had enough. Two extra arms shot out of his body and pulled Sasuke on top of him. Another extra arm removed Sasuke’s hand and the last one forcibly guided Sasuke’s member to where it was supposed to go. Itachi used his actual arms to make sure Sasuke wouldn’t be going anywhere by pulling him close and kissed him for good measure.

            Sasuke chuckled as he began to thrust hard into Itachi’s ass. In truth, he was surprised he had managed to hold out for so long although being a medic-nin did have its perks. Even Itachi, it seemed, did have a limit. He kissed back and surrendered, losing himself in his brother’s warmth not moments later. Itachi cried out beneath him, gasping in pleasure as his warm seed coated both of them. They gazed at each other, panting, for a few moments, Itachi having dismissed the other arms of the Asura Path.

            “Sasuke…” Itachi breathed.

            “Yes, niisan,” He purred.

            Itachi smirked.  “Are you up for another round?”

            Sasuke licked his lips. “Always…”

 

            When Nagato attacked, the attack was harsh, brutal, and almost without warning. Sasuke left Itachi to guard the village as Yahiko’s body trapped Naruto in Chibaku Tensei, where he would be out of the way and unable to perform his bloody heroics, before flickering to the origami tree where Nagato and Konan were hidden. He was not as merciful as Naruto was. Death would have been a mercy. Konan was asleep in seconds, so he captured her without trouble. He left Nagato alive as well, as a prisoner.

            He just took his eyes.

            They were his now, not Konoha’s, and his instructions were clear – one for him, and one for Itachi. He would personally perform the operations himself.

            Of course, they didn’t need them, but their alternates would, when they left.

           

            There were no complications – Tsunade had acted as his assistant, and even complimented him on his technique. They gave the spare Sharingan to Nagato, and even if it was poor compensation for what he had lost, he had attacked Konoha… and they could have left him with no eyes at all. Jiraiya would be furious when he learned what had transpired. At the moment, Sasuke didn’t quite care. He could take on the Sannin, or simply leave it to Itachi.

            Their enemy here was also the Akatsuki, specifically, Sasori and his army of human puppets. Orochimaru, as well, but Sasuke didn’t spare him much thought. Well, he thought, yawning. He could just wait for them to attack. He slid into bed, activated the protective seals, cast the necessary illusions, and fell into a deep, peaceful sleep.

            Sasuke woke to pleasant warmth surrounding him, held in a pair of strong arms. He blinked tiredly, before realizing that he was not alone in his bed. This time, it was Itachi who had needed him. He gazed into amused eyes, dark as night, watching him. “Good morning, otouto…” Itachi breathed, lips almost brushing Sasuke’s.

            “Good morning, aniki,” Sasuke replied softly. He felt a slow burn of arousal travel through his body as he realized that under the sheets, both of them were very much in their bare skin, and nothing else. How convenient, he thought, although he distinctly remembered going to bed clothed in pajamas. Itachi must have used that technique again…

            Itachi was about to speak again, when a sudden knock on the door interrupted them.

            “Sasuke, breakfast is ready!” Mikoto’s cheerful voice announced.

            Sasuke felt the urge to scream at his mother. What had happened to the traditional matriarch of the Uchiha Clan in this dimension from only a few days ago?

             He heard her knock on the door to Itachi’s room next.

            “Later,” Itachi promised.

            Sasuke nodded reluctantly, and even more reluctantly slid out of bed, reaching for his clothing. Itachi flickered back to his room.

 

            Breakfast was a quiet affair. Sasuke received a summons from the Hokage, revealing that he had been promoted to Chuunin for his valiant efforts in stopping Nagato – Sasuke was pleased with that, at least – and a harsh lecture from Jiraiya from stealing his student’s eyes – he tuned that part out. Itachi was fortunately not on a mission and Sasuke fully intended to make the most of the rest of his period of recovery from surgery. Being Seiryuu did make him a master of illusion, so while illusion-Sasuke and illusion-Itachi were in their rooms resting, the real Sasuke and Itachi could indulge in whatever they wanted…

           

Filler Dimension 2 (Filler Episode 446)

 

Itachi truly had terrible timing.

            Sasuke had to wonder what had prompted his beloved older brother to appear at that precise moment when he and Naruto had been about to clash with Chidori and Rasengan, right in front of him, so that his Chidori would spear him through the heart. Then Itachi told Naruto to get along with him, tapped him on the forehead, told him to forgive him, and disappeared in a lovely glittering light.

            He did not have time for this. He knocked Naruto out, felt his forehead protector fall to the ground with a slash through it, and collapsed to his knees, clutching his shoulder, and felt Orochimaru behind him.

            Sasuke sent the snake Sannin a glare, wanting him to die already. With the full power of Seiryuu behind him, it worked. The Cursed Seal on his body burnt out completely in a wash of violent blue light, as did every other Cursed Seal on every other unfortunate soul.

            “Niisan,” Sasuke hissed. “I hope you have an explanation…”

            Itachi sighed as he landed behind him. “Sasuke needs the Mangekyo.”

            Sasuke glared balefully at Itachi. “… I see.”

            “And he needed to see how much he needs Itachi,” He explained further.

            “You never know how much you need someone until you lose them,” Sasuke sighed. “Maybe he’ll finally get some therapy…”

            “Akatsuki,” Itachi asked next, having healed his host body’s wounds with a thought.

            Sasuke nodded, before the two of them transformed into their respective beast forms, leaving their hosts behind to their awkward, hopefully meaningful conversation. It wasn’t everything, but it was a start.

 

            Eliminating the Akatsuki was easy. They were no match for two gods.

            Sasuke left his alternate with one parting gift – the potential to unlock the Rinnegan.

            Itachi left his alternate with one parting gift – the potential to unlock the greatest healing techniques of all.

            Then, they both left for the next dimension.

           

End Chapter

Started 3/13/16

Completed 3/15/16

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Masashi Kishimoto. This non-profit, non-copyright infringing fanfiction belongs to me under international copyright laws and taking it is plagiarism. Don’t steal and don’t sue. Thank you *Phantomness bows*

Warnings: AU

Chapter 41: Wandering Child, So Lost, So Helpless

 

            Sasuke looked quite delectable in that lab coat and those glasses, Itachi thought, but now was not the time to appreciate them. Neither Byakko nor Genbu were here, and there were no ninja at all.

            Itachi was also simply delicious in that police uniform, Sasuke thought simultaneously, but unfortunately, while all those textbooks were fascinating and just begged to be studied in more detail, they did not have time to waste. They moved on.

 

            Why the hell am I stripping? Sasuke thought, as he gyrated his hips enticingly, utterly disgusted with his alternate. Infinite possibilities, he reminded himself.

            Why am I a pimp? I thought I had more respect than this – is that Sasuke on stage? Itachi thought, alarmed, as he mechanically counted his money. I can’t believe I’m whoring out my little brother like this!

            Their eyes met, and they vanished without a second thought.

 

            Sasuke incinerated the dinosaur chasing after them with a truly vicious fireball.

            Itachi glanced down at the fur loincloths they were wearing, the spear in his hand, and shook his head in disgust.

 

            I feel like I’m in a bad Disney movie, Sasuke thought, staring angrily down at his bright green fishtail.

            Itachi was speechless as he looked at the not-quite mermaid entangled in his fishing net. He sighed. “Perhaps we’re doing something wrong?”

            “I pick the next dimension.” Sasuke suggested.

            “As you wish…”

 

            A few minutes later, a thoroughly traumatized Sasuke had managed to knock out an enthusiastic Uzumaki Naruto through vicious application of Seiryuu’s powers to overcome Kyuubi-enhanced stamina. He left his alternate to explain what had happened, freeing himself from his host body and flickering to Itachi’s location, finding a similarly distressed Itachi waiting for him while his host body was appreciating Kisame.

            “Wonderful choice, Sasuke,” Itachi remarked dryly.

            “Do you have a better idea, niisan?” Sasuke shot back.

            Itachi massaged his temples tiredly. “Let’s go home and take a break.”

            Sasuke sighed. That sounded like a very appealing idea. They could always search for Genbu and Byakko later. He nodded, and they gathered their chakra for one last jump.

           

            “…Why am I tied up?” Sasuke asked, Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan flaring to life in his eyes. He reached out and pulled, absorbing the Mokuton into himself. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Itachi doing the same.

            “Satsuki, is that you?” He heard his very pregnant mother ask.

            “Of course it’s me,” Sasuke said, frowning. “Who else would it be?”

            “You’re back!” Hashirama said, springing up and giving him a hug. Sasuke tolerated the hug, watching as Mikoto hugged Itachi.

            “How long were we gone for?” He asked curiously.

            “Four weeks,” Fugaku replied, puzzled. “Why?”

            Sasuke and Itachi exchanged glances. Four weeks? But that couldn’t be right…

            “Father,” Itachi spoke, frowning. “On our side, it was four years…

            There was a long, awkward silence.

 

            Mikoto swooned, and Fugaku quickly moved to catch her. Itachi and Sasuke also sprang into action. She was still their mother, after all. Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan flared to life in both their eyes. She and the babies were still healthy, as far as Sasuke could tell. Obstetrics and gynecology was not his specialty, but he was a medic-nin. Itachi, as Suzaku, had healing powers beyond what mere mortals could comprehend, and he gently touched her stomach.

            “They’ll be fine,” He said softly. Fugaku nodded, and together, they put Mikoto to bed. It was only afterwards, that another thought popped into his mind.

            “Did you have sex?” Fugaku blurted out, remembering all too well being a seventeen year old, and hoping that Itachi had managed to keep Satsuki out of trouble, before remembering that Itachi would have been twenty-one himself…

            “Yes,” Sasuke replied, calmly.

            Fugaku took a few deep breaths. “Please tell me you used protection,” He begged.

            “…We didn’t need it,” Itachi replied. “After all, there is no way to get pregnant if both partners are male.”

            “You watched each other?” Fugaku felt like he was missing a very important piece of the puzzle here, but he couldn’t for the life of himself figure out what it was.

            “Almost every single time,” Sasuke confirmed.

            “So that means… you were a male in that alternate dimension?” Fugaku asked Sasuke.

            Sasuke nodded.

            That made a little more sense… clearly, it meant that Satsuki was still a woman on the inside, no matter what kind of body she was in, and attracted to men. That was good. He still had hope for grandchildren. Itachi, on the other hand… that troubled him.

            Fortunately, Mikoto began to stir, and Fugaku shooed the other two out to tend to his wife.

 

            Mikoto gave birth to two healthy children two weeks later, Uchiha Keiko and Uchiha Keiji. There were no complications. Fugaku doted on them immediately, and why wouldn’t he? The village – the world – was at peace, although there was still much rebuilding to be done. Sasuke and Itachi could care less. They were simply pleased that the arrival of these two children would take their parents’ attention off the two of them. It was quite convenient.

 

            “Satsuki-chan, are you jealous?” Naruto asked.

            “Jealous,” Sasuke asked, as he turned his head. Susanoo was helping some of Naruto’s shadow clones clear rubble away from one part of Konoha. “What would I be jealous about?”

            “Well, you know…” Naruto scratched the back of his head. “It seems like everyone is starting to become more than friends, if you know what I mean. Me and Sakura, Sai and Ino, Shino and Fuu, Neji and Hinata, Lee and Tenten, Shikamaru and Temari, and the list goes on… and you must have had sex if you were four years older… did you leave someone behind when you came back?”

            Sasuke hesitated. On one hand, he had nothing to hide about his relationship with Itachi. On the other hand, this was Naruto, who couldn’t keep a secret to save his life. “I guess you can say that…”

            “Aww,” Naruto slung an arm companionably over her shoulders. “Don’t worry, Satsuki-chan! Kiba-kun and Masaru-kun and Katsuo-kun are still single too!”

            Sasuke gave him a smile, and they went back to work.

           

            Itachi had decided that he loathed children.

            Sasuke had been different. Sasuke was special. From the moment he had cradled baby Satsuki in his arms, he had vowed to protect her and she had shown him life could be different from war, death, and pain. But he felt no such feelings for Keiko and Keiji. As his father was at work and his mother was asleep, and Sasuke was out on a mission, Itachi was the one bottle-feeding both of the little brats. He felt nothing for them. Hatred would have shown passion. Instead, he was completely apathetic. He and his shadow clone finished their feedings, changed their diapers, and put them to sleep in their shared crib, with mechanical precision and not a drop of love.

           

            When the twins were a full month old, the family took them to the Nakano Shrine to have them blessed by the Clan priest, Sanji-sama, and his assistants, in the same of Suzaku. Normally, this would have been a perfectly ordinary ceremony. Unfortunately, Sanji-sama was a devout priest. He was also an Uchiha. And then there was the fact that Itachi was Suzaku. So, once the ceremony had been performed, Itachi found himself being cornered by the priest.

            “Itachi-san,” He started to say, before glancing over at Satsuki, who was right behind her brother and doing a double-take. “And Satsuki-san, as well… Why have you not informed your parents of this?”

            “I beg your pardon,” Itachi asked, confused and slightly worried.

            “You two are the high priest and priestess of Suzaku-seikun and Seiryuu-seikun, respectively, are you not?” He asked. “You have been touched with the power of the gods…”

            …High Priest and Priestess, Sasuke thought. At least the man had not outright discovered they were the deities themselves. They could work with this.

            “We were,” Itachi corrected the man. “We were unaware that we still carried the power within us.”

            Sasuke nodded, accepting Itachi taking the lead.

            “You still are,” Sanji chuckled. “Once you become a High Priest or Priestess, the responsibility is for life. I doubt it will interfere with your duties as ninja.” He studied them closely. “You do realize that Suzaku and Seiryuu are… lovers?”

            The flat stares he received in response were answer enough.

            “Ah,” He coughed awkwardly. “Perhaps I should speak with your parents and inform them of your unique situation, so that there will be no awkwardness.”

            Sasuke and Itachi exchanged glances, as Sanji hurried off. For once, events were actually working in their favor.

           

            To say Fugaku and Mikoto were stunned would be an understatement. Sanji had to sit them down and explain it several times. Fugaku felt as though he desperately needed a drink – perhaps several drinks. His two beautiful children were not only prodigies, they were also apparently carrying the divine powers of two of the four gods, who happened to be lovers, which meant they had been engaged in sexual relations with each other for most, if not all, of the past four years… well, he thought, somewhat hysterically, he had given Itachi permission to marry Satsuki, and the bloodline couldn’t get any purer than this!

            “Sanji-sama,” Mikoto asked quietly. “Is there any possibility you might have been mistaken?”

            Sanji frowned. “There is a slim possibility I could have been mistaken about Satsuki,” He admitted. “After all, I do not worship Seiryuu, but I have no doubt about Itachi. He is clearly touched by Suzaku’s power.”

            “It’s just…” Mikoto frowned. “Satsuki is only thirteen! Surely, there must be a different woman – or man – out there for Itachi…”

            Fugaku looked up then, hope in his eyes. “Yes, yes,” He rambled. “There must be someone else out there for Itachi – an older woman. We must find her!”

            “The main temple to Seiryuu would be in the Land of Water,” Sanji said thoughtfully. “It would not be an easy trip to make, but…”
            “It does not matter!” Fugaku declared. “For the future of the Clan, we must make that journey!”

            Elsewhere, Sasuke and Itachi exchanged glances and sighed inwardly. Very well, father, they thought. They would just have to make him face reality the hard way…

 

            The trip to the Land of Water was quite peaceful, for four trained ninja. Mikoto and the twins stayed home, and with Itachi’s ability to cross the sea with a flash of fire, that saved them the trouble of renting a boat. When they reached the main temple, Sanji explained the dilemma, and they were led to the high Priestess.

            The instant they saw her, both Sasuke and Itachi stiffened imperceptibly.  She was wearing form-fitting dragon scaled armor that showed off her ample curves, Sasuke thought disapprovingly, and semitransparent light blue robes. Her hair was also sky blue, flowing loosely over her shoulders. Her eyes were a darker shade of blue, shimmering like the ocean’s depths.

            His father and Sanji were awestruck. Sasuke and Itachi were not.

            “I am Mizuno Kagome, the High Priestess of Seiryuu,” She introduced herself. Fugaku fell to his knees.

            “Please, Kagome-sama,” He begged. “Will you marry my son?”

            Sanji stared at Fugaku in shock. This was not what they had come to ask! He cleared his throat to speak, but Kagome smiled, her eyes fixed on Itachi.

            “Of course I will,” She said.

            Sasuke stepped in front of Itachi. Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan blazed in his eyes.

            “I refuse to allow this.”

            “Foolish girl, do you know the consequences of refusing a request in the presence of Seiryuu?” She demanded haughtily.

            “Indeed I do,” Sasuke purred, knowing just who he was, and what she was, but preferring to keep his secret for the moment.

            “Then we will duel, outside.” Kagome said.

            Sasuke inclined his head, and Itachi smiled; a long, slow smile that did not touch his eyes.

 

            Seiryuu, Seiryuu… Sanji was trying to remember everything he knew about Seiryuu as he followed Satsuki and Kagome outside. He finally pulled one of the lesser priests aside. “What is the penalty?”

            The priest gave him an incredulous look. “That girl is about to lose her head. Kagome-sama has never lost a match, and refusing a request of Seiryuu’s High Priest or Priestess demands death.”

           

            Sanji started to hyperventilate. He knew Satsuki was a prodigy, and had the Mangekyo Sharingan and the Rinnegan, but this was a woman who had grown up in Kirigakure, who had survived through Yagura’s reign of the Bloody Mist… and with Seiryuu’s divine power behind her… Satsuki was going to die!

            Kagome moved first, wood lurching from the ground to entangle her. Sasuke lashed out with lightning, but the wood was unaffected. Kagome laughed. “Do you think to use Seiryuu’s powers against me?”

            Seiryuu controlled wood and lightning, Sasuke thought, and he was trying not to blow his cover, so… Preta Path. Both the wood and lightning were absorbed. The black flames of Amaterasu would have incinerated her, but a sudden shower of rain drenched him, effortlessly dousing the flames. Then Kagome was upon him, with taijutsu, and Sasuke was very, very glad indeed of the Asura Path’s extra arms helping him to parry and block her strikes. She was very good; he had to admit, but not quite good enough to kill him with mere taijutsu alone. He began to hum, just as she began to sing. A subtle shift in the air and he pulled her towards him using the Deva Path just as she tried to telekinetically hurl him away.

            Kagome was close to gnashing her teeth in frustration. What was with this girl? Fine, she snarled. Those fancy eyes of hers were countering all of her techniques. So, the logical reason was to deprive her of them. With a thought, she transformed into a blue dragon and shot at her. Sasuke’s eyes widened as Susanoo shimmered into being around him. Kagome screeched, letting loose a truly horrifying burst of sound and light, attempting to disable him. Fugaku, who had been watching the fight via his Sharingan, was forced to turn it off before he went blind, along with Sanji. Itachi looked remarkably unperturbed.

            “I’ll kill you!” Kagome roared, ripping the head and most of the chest off of his Susanoo. Sasuke winced. Well, that was a very bad sign. He flickered out of the way, dismissing Susanoo. Kagome was becoming less and less like a dragon and more like a mishmash of different creatures as she shot out various bolts of elemental energy, which Sasuke dodged. Déjà vu, he thought dryly, before activating the Preta Path to recharge himself. Actually, he didn’t want his father to see the rest of his fight. So he took Kagome to Kaguya’s main dimension. His Susanoo might not have the Yata Mirror, or the Sword of Totsuka, but what did that matter.

            Metal glittered in his fingertips, harder than diamond. Sasuke let fly, and Kagome laughed harshly. It was an illusion. That Uchiha girl had impaled her, yes, but she had gone for the illusion! She had fooled her, and… suddenly, she screamed in agonizing pain. What… how… how had she reversed it, and turned her illusion into reality?

            Red and purple eyes bright with blue-white lightning met hers, and suddenly, she knew.

            “No…” She croaked.

            Sasuke bared his teeth in a dragon’s smile. “Goodbye, false priestess…” He smirked, and then, she knew no more.

 

            Sasuke reappeared in the real world with Kagome’s corpse, blue light shining around him. Immediately, every Priest of Seiryuu in the vicinity fell on their knees.

            Sasuke suddenly realized that he might have overdone it, just a little.

            Fugaku glanced around wildly, as Sanji bowed his head, wondering how he could have second-guessed himself. Itachi simply admired his brother, properly his brother again, dressed in dragon scaled armor and flowing robes, the thin horns sprouting from his hair.

            “Seiryuu-seikun…” The next highest-ranked priest babbled. “What is your command?”

            Sasuke dropped Kagome’s body on the ground. “Have this filth disposed of,” He commanded. “And stop groveling. Also, I am returning to Konohagakure with my brother in the morning. See to it that we are not disturbed.”

            “Y-Yes, as you command!” The man rushed off, barking orders to the other priests.

           

            Sasuke stalked over to Itachi and pulled him close, claiming his lips in a hungry kiss. Itachi chuckled, letting his wings and tail sweep out behind him as he kissed back with equal passion. The Land of Water could certainly use healing, and since they happened to be here… well, why not bless the land tonight?

 

End Chapter

Started 3/15/16

Completed 3/16/16

Chapter Text

Chapter 42: Minor Role

 

            “I don’t think you’re gay.”

            Sasuke looked at Sakura. “What makes you say that?”

            “Well, you were born as a female,” She said. “And you’re not attracted to men in general, just Itachi, right?” She asked.

            Sasuke nodded. His friends had taken his sudden age up and transition from female to male surprisingly well, along with the reveal that he was a god and in love with Itachi.

            “You’re Itachisexual,” Ino said, from where she was painting Hinata’s nails. “You always have been. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you even look at another guy sexually.”

            “And trust me, you had plenty of opportunities.” Tenten, who was braiding Neji’s hair, added. Neji nodded.

 

            “What do you think of my tattoo?” Kiba asked Naruto, showing off his bare chest and huge snarling wolf Sai had inked for him. It was washable, of course, but he still thought it was awesome.

            “Pfft, tattoos are lame.” Naruto said. Kiba snarled and tried to pounce on him. Gaara defused the situation by forcing them apart with a wall of sand, before going to get himself a glass of lemonade from the refreshment table.

            “My rogue just sneak attacked that ogre,” Sai told Shikamaru.

            “Yes you did,” Shikamaru turned to Shino. “What about you?”

            “My wizard’s fireball attack hit those five goblins.” He said with a smug smile. Fuu hugged him with a grin while Shikamaru winced.

“Yes, they’re all dead. What about you, Fuu?”

            “My barbarian cleaves the head off of that ogre with his two handed sword!”

            “… And you rolled maximum damage. Ouch… Katsuo?”

            “I rolled a one.”

           

            “So, can I ask you a personal question?” Chouji sat down next to him.

            “Of course,” Itachi looked up from his book.

            “What’s it like, being a god?” The tubby teen asked, genuinely curious.

            “Not that different from being human, except for having much, much more chakra.” Itachi answered honestly. Chouji looked surprised, before he shrugged, and handed over his bag of potato chips. Itachi thanked him and took one, not because he particularly liked chips, but because for Chouji, this was an overture of friendship.

           

            Two months later, the two of them were gone again. It had been good to see their friends again, to see their family – though not the new additions – and they had defeated yet another of the demons, but they had still not found Byakko and Genbu, and it felt as though the clock was ticking faster and faster.

            When they returned a month later, they shook their heads to the inquiring questions.

            “Perhaps Byakko and Genbu have not even been born yet…” Itachi hated to bring up the suggestion, but they had searched for so long…

            “In that case…” Sasuke’s eyes were hard. “It is safer if we stay here, and lure the rest of the demons here.”

            Itachi’s eyes were grave, and he nodded.

           

            Five-year old Uchiha Keiko scowled as she put on her pink dress with the pretty little rosettes on the collar and the silky pink ribbon bow that tied around her waist in the back. She hated always having to share with Keiji! She wished she had been an only child! Then mother would have more time for her… it was all right to share with Sasuke and Itachi, because they were all grown up and didn’t need mother and father anymore, but Keiji was always getting into trouble so mother and father had no time for her! Sasuke had even given her a lot of pretty jewelry he used to have and once she got her ears pierced, even the earrings would be all hers.

            Five-year old Uchiha Keiji glared at the ceiling of the room he was in. This had been Itachi’s room once, just as the room his sister was sleeping in had been Sasuke’s room. Itachi and Sasuke – he hated them both! Itachi had been the first genius of the Clan – he had graduated the Academy at age seven, activated the Sharingan at age eight, made Chuunin at age ten, Anbu by eleven… and then along had come Sasuke, who had activated the Sharingan at six, and not graduated the Academy until age eleven, but who had developed the Mokuton and Hyouton bloodlines, and acquired the Rinnegan and Mangekyo Sharingan…

           

            It was Itachi’s twenty-third birthday, and even though he had protested that he did not need one, his friends and immediate family had decided to throw him a party anyway. Itachi would have much preferred to spend it in the privacy of his small house with Sasuke, but he could not deny his mother the opportunity to celebrate. So, they had gathered at the Uchiha compound. The weather was perfect, the lake was calm, and the barbecue was already going. He accepted congratulations, and as he had specifically told his friends not to bring presents – their company was enough – they all settled down to eat, play games, and swim.

            He smiled at Keiko, looking quite pretty in her pink dress, and frowned a little at the hostile look Keiji sent him. The boy had been trouble, as Mikoto commented in her frequent phone calls. She believed it was just a phase Keiji was going through. Itachi was not quite sure he wished to disillusion her yet.

            “Hello, Keiji,” He smiled pleasantly.

            Kenji sent him another glare.

            “Hello, Keiko.” He turned to his sister. Keiko smiled and gave him a hug. Itachi stroked her hair for a moment. “How have you been?”

            Soon, Keiko was telling him all about herself, and Itachi nodded, recording the information for future reference, while keeping an eye on Keiji.

 

            Keiji did not want to be here. He didn’t even like Itachi! He saw Sasuke helping himself to a plate of food from the buffet and deliberately bumped into him. Sasuke didn’t even flinch. “Hello, Keiji.” He said politely.

            “Faggot,” Keiji muttered.

            Sasuke’s eyes hardened slightly, but he didn’t reprimand Keiji for his language. Mikoto, however, overheard. “Keiji! You take that back right now!”

            “What? It’s true!” Keiji spit. “Everyone knows! I can’t believe you and father allow the two of them to do it, and with each other! It’s wrong, isn’t it?”

            “Keiji,” Mikoto said. “You’re still young, so we haven’t explained it to you, but…”

            “Perhaps it’s time we did,” Fugaku came over.

            “Not at Itachi’s birthday party!” Mikoto hissed. “Keiji, we’ll tell you later…”

            “Itachi, Itachi, Itachi,” Keiji yelled. “If it’s not Itachi, it’s Sasuke! What’s so special about them?”

            His loud shouts attracted the attention of the other partygoers. Mikoto was absolutely mortified, trying to cover Keiji’s mouth.

Shikamaru sighed. “This is about to become troublesome…”

Keiko frowned, as Itachi got up. Stupid Keiji was ruining things again!

 

“Don’t worry, mother,” Sasuke purred, eyes slitting. “I won’t hurt him. He simply needs a lesson in manners.”

“This disrespect has gone on long enough,” Itachi agreed.

As one, their chakra flared, clothing them in light. Keiji’s eyes widened to an impossible size as Seiryuu and Suzaku stood before him an instant later. He could barely breathe, let alone think. He could only stare in sheer terror. Sasuke and Itachi held their transformations for a full moment, before they withdrew their power. Then, they nodded to each other and went back to the party.

Keiko’s eyes were wide. Her older brothers were the coolest!
            Keiji was on the verge of passing out.

“Now do you understand?” His mother asked, gently. He finally managed a mute nod. She gave him a gentle hug. “Go on and enjoy the rest of the party.”

Shakily, Keiji managed to stand. He stumbled away from his mother, running towards the woods. Mikoto wanted to go after him, but Fugaku shook his head.

“He needs some time alone to adjust.”

 

Keiji wasn’t sure how far he had run, nor who the man was. All he knew was that he was angry, so angry, at Itachi and Sasuke, and he would do anything to destroy them, and show them that he was the most powerful one. So when the man asked him to take his hand, he did.

Back at the party, Itachi and Sasuke smiled at each other. They had taken the bait.

           

The power flowing through him was incredible. It was indescribable. Keiji thought he would burst, unable to contain it. This anger, this rage, this was pure, unadulterated wrath, stronger than anything than he had ever felt before. It would take time, he knew, for his body to adjust, but he would master it, oh he would! And in the depths of his soul, the demon laughed. He would let the boy keep his delusions of grandeur. He would bide his time, and then, he would triumph where his siblings had failed, and destroy the gods once and for all…

 

“He really is naïve,” Sasuke commented as he locked the door to their house that night; feeling their protective seals activate, along with the illusions.

“It works in our favor,” Itachi replied, eyes already glinting with the Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan.

Sasuke nodded, slowly turning to face his lover, the Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan in his eyes slowly swirling. “Niisan…” He purred. “It’s your birthday… So, how would you like it tonight?”

 Itachi just chuckled. “Surprise me…”

 

End Chapter

Started 3/16/16

Completed 3/16/16

…I admit, I wasn’t sure what lemon scene to write. Any suggestions?

Chapter Text

Chapter 43: Playing God

 

            The slight hum of the HEPA filtration system was the only noise in the silent room. Quietly, almost noiselessly, eyes hidden behind protective glass, two pairs of heads – one bright red, one raven black – bent over their work, two pairs of shoulders in white lab coats, two pairs of hands aseptic in crisp blue nitrile gloves, two pairs of dark eyes focused intently on the specimen they were examining. In the background, rack after rack of test tubes glittered with blood agar and poisonous extracts, cultivating only the deadliest microbes and most virulent poisons to produce the chemical and biological weapons needed to make Akatsuki Corporation the deadliest terrorist organization in the world.

            Abruptly, the male rose, with a frown. “No… this is not the correct strain either.” He frowned. “Damn those Konoha pacifists! They’ve managed to create an antidote again!”

            “Sasuke,” The woman turned to him. “It’s only a temporary setback…”

            “And how many of these temporary setbacks do you think Pein-sama will tolerate, Karin?” Sasuke snapped at her. He turned around abruptly, lab coat flaring behind him.

            “You need a break, Sasuke,” Karin replied. “You can’t work like this.”
            Sasuke sighed. He knew that Karin was correct. It had been over twenty-four hours since he had last slept, and the signs of exhaustion were definitely starting to show. “All right, Karin. You’ve made your point…”

           

            Itachi had arrived to pick him up by the time Sasuke had showered and finished the decontamination process. He landed the helicopter on the roof, and they walked down the stairs to their penthouse apartment. Sasuke had been silent on the ride home, and Itachi guessed the reason for his brother’s anger.

            “I made you something,” He offered quietly.

            Sasuke sighed, sitting down when Itachi pulled out the chair for him. “I don’t understand, niisan,” He whispered. He gazed listlessly at Itachi, glad that the window glass was thick, and the curtains were closed so that he would not have to listen to the sounds of the seething sea of humanity beneath them, nor hear their cries. Ever since the cure for aging and natural death had been discovered by legendary scientist Senju Tsunade fifteen years ago, the world’s population had exploded. No one died, and people kept reproducing like vermin. The young twenty-one-year old scientist was tired, so very tired… That was why at the tender age of sixteen, he had joined Akatsuki Corp., determined to stop the time bomb before the very earth they lived on perished…

            But those people from Konoha Corp., they just did not understand! Why couldn’t they see that there were just not enough natural resources to support this overpopulation? The marine life was nearly gone, so what was left – cannibalism? Sasuke shuddered, glancing down at his plate. As though Itachi had sensed his thoughts, there was a simple dish of vegetarian curry tonight. Sasuke thanked his brother, and began to eat slowly.

 

            “So,” Itachi asked, later that night. “What will you be working on next?”

            “I don’t know,” Sasuke confessed, cuddling against his older brother’s chest. “I feel as though I’m up against a wall, and I don’t know what to do. Every single time I come up with an idea, Konoha manages to counter it. Maybe… maybe I should just give up.”

            Inwardly, Itachi felt a slight frisson of fear run down his spine. “Sasuke, you can’t do that.” He coaxed. “That’s no one else in Akatsuki as good as you…”

            Sasuke sighed, tucking his head under Itachi’s chin. “I mean it, niisan… Pein-sama might really dispose of me this time. I thought that aerosolized, rapid-acting HIV strain was perfect. No one else had ever managed it before… and what did they do? They had a fucking antidote within three weeks!”

            Yes they did, Itachi thought grimly. Tsunade and Sakura had worked themselves to the bone to counter it. He also remembered Sasuke babbling out the alterations he had made while he knelt between his thighs, giving him one of the best blowjobs of his life. He knew that he was betraying his brother, and that he was betraying his organization. But, he couldn’t bring himself to care. The way they looked at human life – playing God – he couldn’t allow that.

 

            Three weeks later, Itachi was lying in bed as Sasuke thrust into him, panting. Itachi gazed into his little brother’s eyes, watching the Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan spin lazily, his own Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan spinning lazily. Even in a world without ninja, there were still some traits that stayed the same – for example, their inclination to watch each other during intercourse – and their ability to never forget.

            “Ahh… niisan…” Sasuke panted, collapsing on top of Itachi.         

            “Yes, Sasuke,” Itachi purred, stroking his little brother’s hair.

            “I finished it…” Sasuke panted, nuzzling his brother’s shoulder.

            Itachi felt his heart rate quicken slightly. “So soon,” He asked, pulling Sasuke closer. “You really are a genius.”

            “Pein-sama was very insistent,” Sasuke admitted. “That’s why I haven’t been able to come home and spend time with you… Do you want to know what the changes are?”

            Itachi nodded, and Sasuke began to whisper them in his ear.

 

            “So they’re planning to contaminate the global water supply with this,” Tsunade frowned. “We don’t have much time…”
            Itachi nodded, remembering the date Sasuke had told him. On that date, Pein would reveal himself as ‘God’, and then unleash the virus.

            “But we will have the vaccine before then,” Tsunade finished. “Thank you, Itachi. We will spare Sasuke’s life, as you requested.”

            “Thank you, Tsunade.” Itachi replied. “That is all I ask.”

 

            The Day of Pein’s announcement, Pein announced coldly that all water – for water was now only bought and sold through one company, Kirigakure Corp. – was contaminated with his virus – Tsunade similarly revealed that she and her employees at Konoha Corp. had all been vaccinated against that virus – and they had vaccinated every human they could get their hands on, all over the world.

            Itachi nervously fingered the two syringes of vaccine in his jacket, one for him, and one for Sasuke.

            “If you’re so certain of it, take a drink,” Pein taunted her.

            Tsunade snatched a bottle of water from the Kirigakure Corp. employee, popped the cap, and took a chug, daring him to protest. One, two, three minutes passed, and nothing happened. She was grinning in triumph, before she fell over, dead.

            Itachi’s eyes widened. Sasuke, who was standing behind Pein, gave his brother a long, slow smile that did not touch his eyes.

           

            He slowly walked off the stage, and reached his brother. He slipped his hand into his jacket, found the syringes, and tossed them aside, hearing them shatter on the sidewalk.

            “Did you think I didn’t know; niisan?”

            “W-when… h-how…” Itachi stammered, as Sasuke pinned him up against the wall of a convenient building.

            “Niisan,” Sasuke tsked. “Who else would I tell my formulas to?”

            Itachi could barely breathe, and at this point, he could hardly think. He could only see Sasuke’s eyes, swirling onyx and ruby and lavender, boring into his.

            “Did you enjoy playing God, niisan?”

            “I… I never meant…”

            Sasuke pressed his lips against Itachi’s, gently but firmly, cutting off his words, leaving him breathless.

            “How does it feel, niisan, to know that you’ve single-handedly condemned more people to death than I ever did?”

           

            Itachi stared at Sasuke, wide-eyed. He wasn’t certain how he should feel. Sasuke’s words felt like daggers being driven into his heart, over and over. Instinctively, his Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan flared in response, as one of Sasuke’s hands slid from his shoulders down to between his thighs. He realized where this was going. He felt an involuntary shiver of desire run down his spine. Sasuke smirked as he slowly unzipped Itachi’s pants, tugging them and his boxers down.

            “Stay still, niisan…” He purred. “I think we’ll both enjoy this…”

            Itachi tilted his head back, exposing more of his throat as his younger brother as Sasuke roughly penetrated him. No lubricant, no preparation, but neither of them cared. Itachi hissed through his teeth as he clenched down on Sasuke’s length, and Sasuke gritted his teeth as Itachi began to ride him, owning him. That was more like it…

            “You enjoyed it, didn’t you, niisan…” He crooned, gazing into Itachi’s eyes. “You wanted that power… the power to play God…”

            “Damn you, Sasuke…” Itachi’s voice cracked. “Damn you…”

            “You didn’t join Konoha to protect me,” Sasuke continued, as Itachi’s motions became more frantic. “You did it to oppose me, to test me, to prove that you still had a hold on me… to test your power against mine.”

            “Why do you always have to be right, otouto?” Itachi demanded, the Mangekyo Sharingan and Rinnegan in his eyes flashing. “Why?”

             Any words Sasuke might have spoken were lost as the powerful force of impending orgasm washed through both of them.

 

            Sasuke held Itachi close as they calmed down. “Shh, aniki, it’s all right.” He crooned. “You’re not alone anymore. You’ll always have me.”

            “Sasuke…” Itachi sighed.

            “You don’t have to run from the darkness anymore,” Sasuke reassured him. “I’ll always be there, right beside you…”

            Itachi chuckled wryly. “Only you, otouto…” He said, ruffling Sasuke’s hair, giving him a gentle kiss. They managed to get their clothing in some semblance of order, before returning to join the rest of the Akatsuki. Pein gave them a sideways look and sent them home, suggesting that maybe a week off would do them both some good.

           

            “Playing God, are we?” Sasuke asked Itachi, once their hosts had fallen asleep.

            “How ironic,” Itachi agreed.

            “This dimension is in a sorry shape…” Sasuke’s lip curled in disgust. “I suppose we can spare some energy…”

            Itachi chuckled. “I’ll hold you to that.”