Ch.5(4) | Ch.6(1) | Ch.6(2) | Ch.6(3) | Ch.7(1) | Ch.7(2) | Ch.7(3) | Ch.7(4) | Ch.7(5) | Ch.8(1) | Ch.8(2) | Ch.8(3) | Ch.9(1) | Ch.9(2) | Ch.9(3) | Ch.9(4) | Ch.10(1) | Ch.10(2) | Ch.10(3) | Ch.10(4) | Ch.10(5) | Ch.10(6) | Ch.10(7) | Ch.11(1) | Ch.11(2) | Ch.11(3) | Ch.12(1) | Ch.12(2) | Ch.12(3) |
Ch.12: Aftermath (4)
Itachi looks unfazed by the people’s reaction around him.
“Madara Uchiha-,” he starts again, fully intent on repeating his information.
“Madara Uchiha',” interrupts Shikamaru, “a descendant, correct? Someone with the same name, right?”
“No, the same one I’m sure you all know about.”
Shikamaru scoffs, shock written all over his face. Impossible. “That can’t be, we were told this man was young. If it is the same Madara, he should be nearing his eighties.”
Shikamaru is almost talking to himself, trying to come up with answers to his questions. Yet Itachi catches onto his words.
And he’s eager to demonstrate his usefulness. “The actual process only he knows, but I have been able to gather that it had to do with Hashirama Senju and his techniques.”
Naruto can feel his body’s muscles straightening immediately. This man doesn’t know about his grandfather. Only a handful of people know how far his techniques went. How he helped his wife recover from having a Beast inside of her. There is no way this Uchiha could have been feed information from anyone else than-
“They were prominent people back when the Beasts were roaming around the world, as I’m sure you know. They were almost the only two people who could stand a chance against a Beast… and also against each other.”
“So I’ve heard.” Naruto leans forward, his hand to his chin. “So you’re telling me that Hashirama helped Madara?”
“No. They were enemies, I meant to say that Madara stole his technique and used it to heal his body.”
Naruto can feel his jaw tighten. Shikamaru is quick to press his hand to his lord’s back. A signal.
“You expect me to believe there’s a technique like that out there in the open?” Naruto taunts. His hands are clammy and the many nights he spent reading and re-reading those very documents come to mind. The anger that overcame him as he realized that his own ability rendered the technique useless.
"No, my lord," Itachi is quick to add, "I’m sure the technique has been long forgotten." His words fall hurriedly out of his mouth and even Naruto can spare a sliver of compassion for the man in front of him. "I meant to say that Madara got hand of the technique, probably back in the time, and used it on himself. I am sure it sounds far-fetched but I can assure you he is the same man that fought Hashirama Senju.”
“This technique…” Shikamaru adds.
“Yes, my lord?”
“Does he perform it regularly?”
“I… I wouldn’t know. I do not know how it works, but I do know he has kept his youthful appearance for decades now.”
Naruto can feel himself growing frustrated at this news. A technique that means so much to him… being used by an enemy to fuck him up. “Why are you here?”
Itachi can feel the lord’s animosity, and though he isn’t sure what provoked it he knows this is a chance he won’t have again.
“I need someone that can stop Madara Uchiha, my lord. I need someone who can protect me and my brother.”
“And that would be me?”
The room falls silent. And Naruto wishes he could storm out of the room and trash the first thing he can put his hands on. Knowing life is taunting him like this is enough to make him howl to the sky.
“You have plenty of other Beast Tamers out there.”
“You are the strongest.” Itachi keeps his eyes glued to the floor in front of him. “I have watched the others and you seem to be the only one able to bring the other Beast Tamers together and confront Madara.”
Naruto can feel a headache incoming. “Why not kill Madara yourself?”
“My brother… Madara has brainwashed every Uchiha left alive, my lord, the moment I were to betray him he would have-”
“Killed your brother, I get it. Why not run out into the sunset with your brother then? You seem capable enough to be able to hide yourselves out into the wild.”
Itachi looks embarrassed. His eyes waver as he raises his head to meet Naruto’s. “My brother fully believes in Madara, my lord. The moment he wakes up he will try to go back.”
“Uh,” Naruto raises an eyebrow. “And you’re willing to keep him, what, chained up till we kill Madara? If he’s on the enemy’s side then it’s quicker for me to just off hi-”
“My lord.” Itachi’s voice quivers. His face contorts like never before. “I will serve you at your beck and call, if you so wish I will lay my life down whenever you deem necessary, just… please, my brother…”
Naruto can’t help the rejection that fills his body. A man he considers an enemy still not only asking for a favor but pleading for the life of another.
It makes Naruto feel disgusted to face this decision.
But he knows he needs whatever advantage he can get his hands on to face whatever is coming in the future.
“I don’t trust you.”
“Yes, my lord.”
“You will be escorted at all times and your brother will be kept away and under our supervision until this whole fiasco is over. I will call upon you at some time to throw you into battle.”
Itachi’s head remains glued in position. As if the movement of any of his muscles could change the outcome of Lord Naruto’s decision.
“One mistake, one suspicious act and you and your brother will be taken care of. Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes, my lord.”
“Sai and Ino will escort you for now. I expect you to follow the orders of your escorts at all times.” Naruto cracks his neck once. A swift movement, his hand on his chin, the crack a swift relief. “I have nothing else to say to you. If you want to talk to me, tell so to your escorts and they will know what to do, that’s all.”
Yet Itachi does not move.
“You’re dismissed,” Naruto tries again. His voice growing stronger.
“My lord.” Itachi reaches into his clothes.
And Ino moves in between the man and her lord, her kunai at the ready. Sai has his short sword ready to slice Itachi’s neck.
The man has a necklace in his hand. A green stone shines as it dangles from a black cord. “I managed to steal this before leaving the clan- what’s left of the clan.” Naruto hates the way Itachi’s eyes look unguarded and, dare he say, hopeful. “I was told it was Hashirama Senju’s, and that it can help control the Beasts…”
Nobody moves and Itachi keeps his hand in the air, his mouth a line. “I’m sure it could be helpful to you, my lord.”
Sai looks ready to draw blood and Ino dares not move from her place.
Shikamaru stands after a second. His steps echo through the room and Itachi whispers a ‘thank you’ as he takes the necklace from his hand. Shikamaru puts the necklace in his pocket. Naruto barely looks at him when he returns to his place, does not make any movement to betray interest.
“You are dismissed.” Naruto repeats, his tone monotone.
Sai grabs Itachi by his arm, makes him stand up. His face remains impassive but his body language screams impatience.
Ino follows close behind. Itachi does as he’s told and follows Sai with blind obedience. Ino is the only one to look back.
Naruto nods to her.
Everything’s fine for now.
“Don’t touch it.”
Naruto scoffs. “Won’t.”
Shikamaru has left the necklace in a table between them. Naruto is slumped over the table, his hand supporting his head. He looks bored out of his mind.
“I still can’t wrap my head around all of this.”
“Tell me about it.” Naruto drills holes into the green rocks adorning the necklace. As if he could just understand everything that’s going on if he only tried harder.
“Lady Mito is arriving in a couple of days, then we can at least make sure this necklace is the real deal.”
Naruto hums an agreement that sounds more like a way to shut Shikamaru up.
“If the necklace is the real deal, great, we still have to check if it’s not rigged to activate with a Beast Tamer.”
“We could try it if we bring dad and my godfather in here.”
“Just throwing it out there.”
“We could ask Lord Gaara.”
“Absolutely-fucking-not, keep him out of this.”
“I’m sure he’ll accept, then we can keep damage to a minimum.”
“I said no, Shikamaru, the fuck.”
“If it turns out that it is the real deal and it is not rigged, then we might have in our hands a great asset to this whole fight,” Shikamaru has his hand on his chin, his head slightly inclined to the front. He’s deep in thought and Naruto hates that now Shikamaru will barely register his presence. “If this whole thing is just Madara wanting revenge on Beast Tamers, we could make a case to the other clans and bring them together. They might be under the wrong impression here, if the Beast Tamers disappear they won’t have the chance they think they might have. Madara must have given them false hope, false hope and a common enemy. He’s good. A common enemy for both sides, I doubt he cares about the Uchiha or he would have done things differently, Itachi might be a good asset in the fight, but he clearly doesn’t have enough footing to sway his clan to our side. If he wants revenge things will only be solved by squashing him and his whole retinue, now, if he only wants power…”
“Then why do all this when he could have just come and ask for power?”
Shikamaru falls silent a second. Then he raises his head, “Because he was raised in another time, my lord. A time in which you took power with power. I doubt he has too much knowledge in current politics.”
“So we go and offer him a spot in our council and things will get dandy?”
“I doubt it, but it is an option.”
“What do you think he wants?”
“My lord, how would you describe a man that has kept himself alive and youthful for almost half a century, a man that in his prime had only but one man who could face him in battle, a man that has raised a clan from the dead in order to fight the established power structure?”
“Fucking stubborn, I’d say.”
Shikamaru snickers. That too, he’s sure. “I would call him prideful.”
“All of this for pride?”
“All of this to demonstrate that he is still the man he knows himself to be, I think.”
Naruto shakes his head, his mind rejecting the notion of fighting just for one’s perception of themselves. “Whatever, I want him dead.”
“And that you’ll have, my lord. Someway or another, we’ll get it done. Madara won’t destroy the Uzumaki clan.”
Naruto leans back, breaths out with a strength that makes him scoff in amusement. "Can't have a second of calm in this place, huh."
"I doubt we'll be able to do much for now. We just have to concentrate in building up our strength again, keep our eyes peeled-"
"Call for all the clans and let's have a meeting."
"And do what, exactly?"
"Tell the truth. We either take care of Madara together-"
"Most of those clans just tried to kill you, my lord."
Naruto stares at Shikamaru. A sharp glance, "I wasn't done with what I was saying." The air gets charged and although Shikamaru is slightly taken aback by Naruto's next words. He is not surprised.
"They either work with us to take down Madara or I'll take care of their little puny clans myself."
Shikamaru stares at his joined hands. Each finger touching their counterparts, something that helps him concentrate better. And although he racks his brain to find another solution. A better solution.
He has to agree with his lord.
“It shall be done,” he whispers.
Naruto leaves after a while. The necklace untouched in front of Shikamaru. And his mind swirling with ideas that seem to mock his predicament. It seems that strength has overpowered any other solution.
The clans will either join the Uzumaki’s or they will be destroyed as the traitors they are.