The Shinigami Side Effect: Konoha's Second Chance - Feather85 (2024)

Chapter 1: Prologue

Chapter Text

It was a slippery slope he was too eager to jump on.

"The same as usual Itachi-san?" Kisame asked him once their mission was over. Who knew when would be the next one.

"Hn." Kisame grinned widely.

"Have a nice time with the kid then."

The kid. She was far from being a kid. Itachi made his way quietly in the Land of Grass, to a village near the border of the Land of Waterfalls and the Land of Earth. The small village was buzzing with activity now they were so close to the Summer Festival. She was not at the tea house she worked at though.

He didn't ask the owner about it. The less people knew about her connection with him, the safer she would be. It was a civilian village, but shinobi would come sometimes. If oinin were to find her, she would probably be in troubles too so…

He left the village for the woods. Fifteen minutes later, he was in

front of a wooden cabin at the bottom of a hill. He opened the door quietly, peeking in the living-room. There was no one, but he heard noises from the bedroom.

"Who's…here?" a weak voice asked, the door of the bedroom now opened.

"Just me," he replied, frowning at seeing her leaning against the doorframe and her flushed skin.

"Oh, hey 'tachi."

"Are you sick?"

"Heat stroke. Members or descendants of the Yuki clan aren't known to be very resistant or useful when it's hot. We've had a…unusually hot week." She went back to bed. He followed her, removing his shoes and Akatsuki coat, as well as his hitai-ate.

He never wore it when he was here and with her.

The curtains in her room were closed, the room darkened. There was a fan on next to her bed, towels and ice packs on it. Looking at her more closely, she was wearing a very short pair of light shorts and a light camisole she had tied around her ribcage, her long, wavy auburn hair in a high bun on her head. Sweat was clinging to her skin.

"Do you have to stare at me when I look disgusting?" she complained, her brown eyes looking at his through her thick and long lashes. He didn't find her disgusting though.

"Hn." He took an ice pack as she was putting them back on her. "It's melted."

"It's still cool. I used my Hyoton to make them, not my brightest moment a second after." She chuckled as he checked her temperature, a hand on her cheek. "Earlier, I couldn't say two words right."

"It is not laughing matter Akane."

Sasaki, born Uzumaki, Akane. Her mother had been Kushina's cousin, which led Akane to spend a few months in Konoha between the age of four and five after her brother died. Ironically, he was sick with the sickness Itachi also had.

She had met Shisui, befriended him and then met him. They had played together twice, and he had seen her fully three times. He had…it was embarrassing for him to admit, but he had spied on her several times to understand her more and find a way to talk to her. Even back then, she was a very cute girl. She had mistaken him for a girl and treated him normally. Her being a foreigner meant she didn't know about the Uchihas or his heir title. She treated him like someone normal and when she'd look at him, he almost felt as if she was seeing all of him.

Before he could properly talk to his crush, she had left with her mom, who until then had been away. Her father was not in the picture.

Years later, as she had become a distant childhood memory he had never forgotten, Shisui was sent on a mission. It was only a few weeks before he committed suicide. When he had come back and mentioned Akane, Itachi had been surprised. He would sometimes wonder what had happened to her.

The answer was: the Bloody Mist. Shisui had been sent to get her out of it after she had been forced to join it, from what her mother had told the Hokage. She was different, broken, but Shisui told him she'd heal from it with time. She had potential apparently, Shisui had not said more about said potential, but did not want to use it. She wanted nothing to do with shinobi.

He couldn't blame her. Had things been different, he would not have picked up a kunai either.

The night he killed himself, Shisui asked him to keep an eye on her for him, said he was breaking the promise he had made her and that he had written a letter to her that needed to be delivered. He did when he left Konoha, watching from his spot Akane, now thirteen like him and still cute and pretty, fall to her knees in tears.

Reuniting with her when they were seventeen was a coincidence. Her traveling with them until she found the place she lived at now, until she was on her own was his decision to fulfill the promise he had made Shisui. Becoming her friend and falling deeply in love with her was unexpected, but he had come to accept it and enjoy it while he could. He had stopped thinking of it as a mistake. He had stopped thinking that his heart fluttering at the sight of her teasing brown eyes, her long mahogany, slightly wavy hair, turned-up nose and bow-shaped lips was a mistake. He had stopped thinking that the way her smile was making him feel warm inside, seen, cared for and alive was a mistake.

The way his body was reacting to hers, attracted like a magnet to hers was natural and if she reciprocated, there was no reason to fight it. There was no reason to fight the fact his knees were sometimesweak around her.

She was his girlfriend, and he loved her more than she knew, or more he would allow himself to say. It was only in the night, where she would be sleeping, would he authorize his mind to fantasize about what kind of life they could have had together in other circ*mstances, what their children would have looked like. It would break his heart to think it would never happen but would also make him smile just to think about an impossible future.

"Sorry, I can't greet you properly." With a hug and a kiss.

"It's alright." He left to wet a white cloth in the bathroom and put it on her forehead.

"That's the stuff," she whispered, relief on her face. "Can I get a kiss?" He didn't ask for more and leaned toward her, his lips softly kissing hers. He felt her smile against him.

"Are you hungry?" he asked her quietly, his lips still grazing hers.

"Thirsty. There are…water bottles in the fridge." He brought her one, that she drank quickly. "You're missing the nurse outfit." He co*cked a brow at her. "You could be in your underwear instead." He took his shirt off. "…oh, that works too," she said, eyeing him appreciatively.

When he'd get an attack, Akane would nurse him back to health as much as she could without complaining, even if it would get worst as time went by. She would welcome him to her home even with his past and the blood on his hands.

She was soothing the aching scars he had and helped him keep going.

Sasuke, in his life, was like gravity. He kept him grounded to Earth, kept him on his path, no matter how dark it was.

Akane was like the sun. She was casting light on his world that had turned gray a long time ago. She was always in color in his world, giving color and warmth back to what she would touch, him included.

The affection he had had for Izumi when he was younger paled in comparison. No matter what he had done, he still felt like Akane was seeing right through him and knew the words behind his silence. He wouldn't be surprised if she had figured out the reason behind the murder of his clan.

Despite all of that, he struggled to show his affection to her. In bed he could fully show it to her, but when it came to hugging, or kissing, he would struggle to do it. He didn't feel like he had any right to feel happy with anyone or show affection, yet it was what he wanted to do with her.

Had he not set his brother on a path of hatred and vengeance, he would have taken her somewhere nobody would ever find them to live his life quietly with her, trying to find a way to cure his disease. Maybe, in a different world, he had had a life with her, and children and they lived happily together.

He didn't want to lose his sun.

"You're more quiet than usual," she told him in the evening, now up.

"Thinking." She put her finger on his chest and ran it up and down.

"I'm hungry now, for food." She gave him a hug though, and he returned it.

If she was the one giving affection, he strangely had no issue returning it. She knew he struggled with it though, so she would let him have his space in bed or when they were outside. The one time she had wanted to hold hands, he refused, and she had not tried again ever since.

A part of him was sad that she would not try again.

"Itachi." He looked up from his book when she got home one day. "Your brother is in the village." He frowned.

"Are you sure?"

"I don't think there are many people who walk around with the Uchiha crest on their back." He looked down thoughtfully. He was aware Orochimaru was dead but…it was not time yet.

And, selfishly, he didn't want to say goodbye yet.

"I should leave then."

"Or, or…" She rummaged through a book of seals. "Ha, here! I can use a seal to erase your chakra signature!"

"I doubt it would be enou…" She sat him back down, biting her bottom lip.

"I'm going to find something, but don't leave, please," she asked him quietly.

It would be safer, if Sasuke were to find her…even if he would make her train to make sure she was safe, his brother had the Sharingan and genjutsu was not her forte. He didn't want her to get caught between him and Sasuke's deserved vengeance.

Yet, he found himself unable to say 'no'. He would leave her alone so he could die at some point, saying 'no' to other things was almost impossible. He let her do her thing, staring at her as she was applying the seal to his skin, knowing it would make her blush.

He had to admit she seemed to know what she was doing to erase his presence, from chakra to scent.

"Nothing I haven't done before," she muttered when he asked her. "I'm going to see if he's still around."

"Akan…"

"You don't move."

He did as he was told. She came back two hours later, disturbed.

"They left."

"'They'?" She pursed her lips.

"He has a companion, it's Su…" She gulped. "I know it's weird, but could you get Hoshigaki-san to come here?"

"If you want to."

His love, because that was how he would refer to her in his mind, was elsewhere until Kisame arrived.

"It is unusual," Kisame stated, grinning at Akane when he saw her. They…Akane did not like him, at all, yet respected him in a way he never saw her do with anyone else. Kisame loved to taunt her but didn't try to harm her or anything, even if he would talk about it.

At first, he had thought it was because of him, but now, he realized it was something else. Akane had been in Kiri, so they had to know each other from back then.

"Do you know about Mangetsu's whereabouts?" Kisame's grin fell. Itachi frowned. He had heard that name before. Wasn't he called the 'Second Coming of the Demon' or something?

Had he not died years ago?

"Kid…"

"Suigetsu isn't in Kiri anymore, I saw him with his brother. Mangetsu wouldn't have let that happened so what…"

"He died at sixteen." She widened her eyes in horror and shock.

"No…no, Mangetsu…he could almost use all swords when I…he wouldn't…he couldn't have died just like that…was he sick or something? It…"

"It was during a mission from what I know kid." Itachi wasn't blind. Kisame knew more than he was letting on.

"You can leave." He did just that.

Akane looked at him.*

"You can too if you want." It was unexpected.

"I thought…"

"I want to be alone," she said stiffly, going to her room. She shut the door behind her.

Whatever relationship they had in Kiri, it was enough for Akane to break down. He left her alone until the evening. He made food for two and knocked on the door, opening it a little without waiting for an answer.

"Are you hungry?"

"No."

He put her food in the fridge and got ready for bed, shooting her one last look before going on the couch. In all honesty, if she was here, he didn't like not sleeping in her bed with her. He wanted to be around her as much as possible, even if they didn't do much together or they were both doing their own thing.

Itachi was a light-sleeper and woke up when he felt someone watching him. He sat up in the couch, squinting at the silhouette against the doorway of the bedroom. Without a word, she went back inside, leaving the door opened.

He didn't waste time to join her. Her back was facing him. He knew she needed comfort right now, but when he thought about hugging her, his body froze. It was almost as if after what he had done, his body refused to make the first move regarding affection.

He closed his eyes instead, asking for her forgiveness in his mind when he knew she needed him.

She needed him and he couldn't provide her with a simple embrace. He hated himself for that.

On their last night together, he did his best to convey all of the feelings he had he never had the courage to tell her about. In the morning, as she was still sleeping, her hair a mess, he glanced at the ruby pendant around her neck. It was the only gift he had given.

In his eyes, it represented the same thing as a wedding ring.

He left. He left after using his sharingans on her when she tried to keep him from leaving. He left after he finally said the three little words she had been telling him for months and months without ever hearing the same in return.

He watched over her and her family from the Pure Land until he saw her summon the Shinigami.

"My my my oh my." He spun around, now away from the others who also were watching his love dying. She was going to die and wouldn't join him like she was supposed to.

"Who are you?" The red-haired man bowed.

"Otsutsuki Tensui. Well, Uzumaki Tensui. You have been chosen to be a watching soul, congratulations!" He frowned. "For the Yuurei? No, it doesn't ring a bell?"

"Akane?"

"Yes, her, the new Yuurei." Tensui sighed. "I guess it got lost in time. Yuureis are, were, the reason for the strength and fame of the Uzumaki clan. You are an Uchiha, you have the Mangekyou. Well, Yuureis are born the same way in a way. If an Uzumaki summons the Shinigami, they are sent to Yomi, its realm, and faces its judgement. If they have enough regrets over their life, then they have a shot at doing it again, their soul sent back in their younger body. It is more often than not before the event that caused them regrets happened. Now." Tensui snapped his fingers, sending them in a rocky scenery of black and white. The sun was black above them and a single red tori was visible at the end of the valley below them. "Due to your bond, you are part of the Yuurei's regrets and are going to become her watching soul, stuck in Limbo to prevent her from falling in Yomi if she ever…almost dies."

"I have to watch her doing everything over again?" Tensui snapped again and now they were in a green and luscious clearing.

"Itachi?" He blinked and turned around. Akane was there, staring at him with wide eyes. In front of her was a woman, her hand close to her stomach.

"Why did you do that?" he asked her immediately. She pursed her lips. "I know you have protected him, but there were other ways."

"I didn't have the time to think of one. Why areyouhere, this doesn't concern you!" He glared at her.

"He's your watching soul," Tensui pipped in. Akane shook her head vigorously.

"No, you're supposed to f*cking rest Itachi! It's something I have to do, not you! If I fail, you…you'll end up there as well and…"

"You think I'm going to let you do something like that without doing anything?" She frowned.

"You can't do anything except…you're supposed to rest, and now I have a shot at giving this other you a better, long and happy life!"

"I don't care." She bit her bottom lip, shaking her head.

"You don't ge…"

"I do get it. I'm not going to let you turn yourself into a martyr like I did Akane. You deserve better than that."

"I don't, I really don't. I've spent my life running and enjoyed the sacrifices of others when I could have done something, I…it's my turn to do something right this ti…" She was interrupted by his lips on hers, his hands on her cheeks. She was so shocked she had not even closed her eyes.

"I am not leaving you alone again, period. Nothing you can say will make me change my mind," he whispered against her lips, his onyx eyes staring deep in hers.

"Really?" the woman asked him. He turned his eyes to her, keeping Akane close to him.

"Yes." She put her finger on her lips.

"Then let's change things." Tensui raised his brow when she looked at him. "What was the event?"

"Huh…the death of one Uchiha Shisui. They saw each other shortly before he died."

"He was weird, I knew it but didn't ask about it," Akane explained quietly. He took her hand in his and squeezed it.

"Hum…we need to go further."

"Well there is th…" The woman dug her hand in Akane's stomach, who opened her mouth in a silent scream.

He never heard the end of Tensui's sentence because everything turned to black. He just kept holding Akane's hand, hoping it would keep her by his side.

"Itachi?" Itachi's lids fluttered as he slowly woke up. It was strange. The last thing he remembered was saying goodbye to Sasuke as he undid the Edo Tensei. So how…

He looked to the side, freezing in shock at the sight of his living, breathing mother. Mikoto put her hand on his forehead, checking his temperature.

"Mom?" he called her in a small, timid voice. Next to her was a sleeping baby Sasuke, quiet in his bassinet.

"Who else would be taking care of you when you are sick young man?" Mikoto replied with a smile. "How are you feeling?"

"I…" He put his fingers on his neck. His pulse was there. His mother chuckled.

"Now Itachi, you suddenly had a big fever and fainted, but you did not die from that!" She was taken back when she noticed the silent tears falling on his cheeks. "Itachi, why are you crying?" He put his hand to his cheek.

"I…" His lips started to quiver, and a lump was in his throat. "Mom, I…" She embraced him before he could finish his sentence.

"Now, whatever it is, it is okay Itachi. Mom is here and nothing is going to hurt you." He started sobbing uncontrollably.

He wasn't sure of what was happening, how this was even possible, but if this was a dream, he didn't want it to end.

Chapter 2: The Kyuubi Attack

Notes:

Disclaimer: The characters are Masashi Kishimoto's property, I own the OCs.

Characters age:

Akane: 5 (38)

Itachi: 5 (21)

Shisui: 9

Naruto / Sasuke: less than a year

Kakashi: 14

Chapter Text

"Akane!" I was confused to say the least. I just…stared at my mother.

Mother?

I sat up in a flash, staring at her in shock. Mom…she had died a long time ago. She couldn't…be in front of me.

"Honey?" I shook my head and jumped out of bed. I just fell however. I got on all four, shaking my head. I stared at my hands for a second. They were so…small. Like a child.

I looked around and found a mirror. When I saw my reflection in it, I almost screamed.

I was…I was a child. Maybe five, but I was a child and…I remembered this room. I looked around. It was the room I had when I lived with Aunty Kushina and Oji-chan. Yet, the last thing I remembered was…

Summoning the Shinigami to protect my twin children, the most precious reminders I had of Itachi.

"What happened?" I asked to myself quietly.

"You don't remember honey?" I looked up at my…mother. My mother who died when I was sixteen by the hand of the Akatsuki. Sasori, exactly. "You saw me and suddenly, you…fainted with a heavy fever when we were about to leave the village yesterday." I was shocked.

I put my hand on my stomach. Something…felt warm there.

"Bathroom," I mumbled.

"Of course, go honey." I did and locked the door behind me. I climbed on the lid of the toilet, right in front of the sink and mirror, and lifted my shirt. I had a seal on my stomach, similar to Naruto's, except that the symbol for 'death' and 'shinigami' replaced any indication of a bijuu. I limply let go of my shirt and sat down.

I read through Oji-chan's notes about the Death Reaper Seal. You summon the Shinigami, who takes your soul for eternal damnation and in exchange, you can seal basically anything. I used it on someone about to kill my children near an unknown and unstable seal. On the body of the summoner, a seal was left on the stomach.

I had that seal, except I was alive and if I had the timeline right, five. I went from thirty-eight to five. I raised my head to the mirror and pinched my cheeks. Baby fat was very much present and any curve I had were gone, so was my height and the scar on my hand due to a bad fuinjutsu accident.

I left the bathroom to find my mom there, worried. I looked at her crying.

"Oh honey, it's alright."

"I missed you!" I cried in her arms.

"I missed you too."

"What's going on?" Aunty Kushina inquired, yawning and a hand on her huge belly. "Oh Akane, you're awake baby!"

"Yes, we can lea…"

"No!" They both looked down at me. "I want to meet Naruto!"

"You can meet him lat…" I shook my head and my mother frowned, flaring her nostrils in frustration.

"See Aki-nee, Akane agrees. There's no hurry for you two to leave." Aunty rubbed her belly lovingly. "Please stay."

"…I'm going to ask Minato but…"

I had no idea how I got here, or if it was reality but…my seal indicated it was real. I needed to research it and I couldn't do it anywhere else but Konoha. And…if Naruto could grow up with his parents this time…

Naruto was not born yet, meaning the Kyuubi attack had not happened and the Yondaime, as well as Kushina, were still alive. Itachi looked up at the cloudy sky of September, Sasuke in his arms as his mother was in a store.

So far, what he was sure of was: he was five years old again, his knowledge intact and, even if in theory his skills were still here, his body could not follow yet. His sharingans and Mangekyou were not there yet, but he hoped his Mangekyou would still be here. He did not want to witness Shisui killing himself.

Seeing him alive and grinning after he recovered from his sudden 'sickness' was disturbing enough.

"And this is the shopping district Akiko-san!" Itachi looked to his right. Shisui was there with a red-haired woman.

"It's a lot more than I thought." He could not pinpoint why, but this woman seemed oddly familiar. When she smiled at Shisui, he looked down.

She reminded him of Akane. Akane who had just left Konoha. He didn't want to wait twelve years to see her again, and who knew if he would? He wanted to change things. If Minato lived, maybe there would not even be a plan for a coup and…

"Restaurants are behind." He froze at the voice and glanced back at them.

Akane was there, the woman holding her hand. She was pointing to the restaurants a street behind the one they were in.

"Mom I'm hungry." Oh. It explained the resemblance.

Wait, why was she still here? She should have left two weeks ago.

They disappeared out of his sight. The very next day, when Shisui arrived at their meeting spot in the woods, Akane was following him. He felt a blush creeping up his neck he quickly hid behind his high collar.

With him losing the light in his eyes, Akane had sadly become a blurry figure by the end. Seeing her so clearly now…She really was adorable. She had the regular shinobi sandals, but also dark green overalls over a white tank top, her hair in two low ponytails. Her bangs were framing her face, the baby fat on her cheeks making him want to poke them.

He wanted to squeeze her because of how cute she really was.

"Hey Itachi, I hope you don't mind Akane's here today." He shook his head. Akane stared at him and for a split of second. Her eyes did not look like those of a child.

No, they reminded him briefly of the Akane he knew and loved. Still, she was analyzing him and seemed content with what she found.

"She sucks at shurinkenjutsu," Shisui continued. Itachi knew that already. It was a mystery how she could…be that bad.

"Shisui…" she groaned, flushing in embarrassment.

"Don't worry Akane, we're totally gonna make you awesome at shurikenjutsu!"

She was not receptive to Shisui's instructions at all, Shisui not understanding why. He stood up and walked over to them.

"Can I try?" Akane glanced at him for a few seconds and nodded. "The foot opposite from the throwing-hand is in front of the other." She changed that. "You need to be stable." She nodded. "Then, make sure your grip on your shuriken is tight but still flexible. The moment your arm is straight, you let it go." She did. It landed beneath the target, but it landed in the tree. "It's not bad."

"I'm notthatbad," he heard her muttering.

She kept practicing. Shisui came over to him at some point, a grin on his face. He threw his arm on his shoulders and crouched, their back to Akane.

"So, how does it feel to be so close to your crush?" Despite himself, Itachi blushed a little.

"Shisui, I'm trying to help her. Nothing else."

"Sure, sure. I'm just glad she's up after the fever she had." This caught his attention.

"Fever?" Shisui nodded.

"On the day she was supposed to leave, she suddenly had a bad fever when she got up from bed. They couldn't leave when it was planned, and Akiko-san was convinced to stay until Kushina-sama's baby is born."

Akane had suffered from a bad fever as well? He remembered her leaving without any issue before.

Was it a coincidence? It was a big coincidence that the two of them, at the same time, were stuck in bed with a fever but maybe?

Was there a tiny chance that maybe, the feeling he had had when Akane looked at him was the right one? Was there a chance than in this tiny body washisAkane and not a five-year-old?

If it was…

No, he couldn't get his hopes up. In any case, whether Akane was five or an adult, someone was going to unleash the Kyuubi on Konoha and if he could prevent it, he would. He was five, but he could talk and maybe try to change things, even just a little bit. He didn't want to put her in danger.

Baby Naruto would be here soon. As I had my ear on Aunty's belly, Mom and Oji-chan talking at the table, I was marveling at the fact Naruto, Seventh Hokage and War Hero, was such a small and fragile being right now, still in his mother's womb. I smiled a little when he kicked. He was already a fighter after all.

"Aunty, it's okay if I'm his nee-chan, even if I'm not really?" She ran her fingers in my hair with a gentle smile on her face.

"Of course, baby." I put my mouth near her belly.

"I'll do my best to be the best nee-chan to you, Naru-chan."

I would.

Just like I had wanted to do my best to avoid baby Itachi. Seeing people, I had mourned a long time ago was…strange, and reopened wounds that had closed a long time ago. They were not bleeding, but raw, and exposed. I would try my best to be on my own, but I was five, they were not keen on letting me do that. The only person in this house who didn't die…wasn't born yet.

Ironic, wasn't it?

Point was, I had been dreading seeing Itachi, but Shisui had not given me a choice. When I did see him though, it was…strange. He was a kid, nothing like the man I had come to love. His voice wasn't the same, his face…

I was numb. He was a child, an innocent one at that. The only thing I felt when I saw him was the will to keep him from following the same path as the Itachi I knew. He was a very cute kid though; I had forgotten that.

He reminded me of my children when they were his age. My children I would not see ever again. This would send me in a spiral or sadness.

Still, there was something…off with Itachi, or at least I felt something was off.

It was probably just my imagination.

October 10th arrived quickly; all of my nerves ready to bust. No matter the knowledge and skills I had, I was stuck in my five-year-old body. I couldn't use them. I had not awakened my kekkai genkai yet.

Overall, I could not help what would happen. I stayed at Oji-chan's and Aunty's house with Mom and Kakashi. I refused to go to bed but Mom forced me, which was humiliating in a way. Being treated as a kid was humiliating but I couldn't just blurt out I was an adult stuck in a child's body, could I? I didn't even know what I had turned myself into after all.

"What happened Akane?" I blinked at Mom. "You're…different since that fever."

"I'm okay Mom, I'm just worried about Aunty and the baby. Why did they leave so far?"

"Aunty is special, that's all." She crouched in front of me and frowned. She stared at me in the eyes for seconds that seemed like hours and widened her gray eyes. "Don't tell me…" She lifted my shirt out of sudden, my seal appearing.

"Mom?"

"Oh no, honey no…" she started to mumble, taking her head in her hands. Red locks of hair were slipping through her fingers.

"Mom? I'm sorry, I didn't…I didn't do it on purpose, I don't even know…"

"How old are you really?" I pursed my lips at her heartbroken gaze.

"Thirty-eight," I said in a small voice.

"Why…no, no…if you're that age then why…why did you make us stay?" I bit my bottom lip. "It's Kushina, isn't it?" I nodded weakly. "The Kyuubi?" I nodded again. "Honey, tell me what happened in your past."

"They were attacked, the Kyuubi released," I told her quietly. "Oji-chan sealed in Naruto but…"

"But?"

"They both…" I looked down, the tears I had suppressed until now starting to appear. Mom understood, horror taking over her features.

"Oh my God…" She grabbed my arms with an alarmed look in her eyes. "Listen to me Akane, listen to me carefully. What is in your head, your knowledge, you cannot share it with anybody, understand?"

"I…"

"Just promise me you won't tell anything to the wrong person!" I nodded quickly. "Good. It's…good." She kissed my forehead before hugging me. "Mommy loves you so, so much. Never forget that, okay?"

"Mom, what are yo…" She knocked me out.

"Goodbye honey," I heard her say before completely passing out.

I woke up later to a roar outside. I barely had the time to stand up that Kakashi came in my room, his shoes on. He gave me mine, that I put on automatically, my eyes not leaving Kurama in the distance, wreaking havoc and death in Konoha.

"Kakashi…Aun…"

"Your mom told me to protect you, so we're going to the shelters."

"But Mom and…"

"Shelters!" he almost barked at me, scooping me up in his arms. He jumped from the windows and landed in the street. He didn't waste time to run toward the shelters.

My eyes wouldn't leave Kurama. I knew him as…Naruto's friend and partner, not the hateful beast he was known as before. Yet now…he was controlled too, right? It was…

Old Kakashi had told me everything, the revelations in the war. He had told me about Obito being behind Aunty's and Oji-chan's deaths. So, he was the one pulling the strings right now.

"Wait Kakashi stop…"

"No."

People were running in the streets, screaming. Kakashi and I went through another district that had been severely impacted by Kurama's wrath already. I gulped at the body crushed under the buildings, sometimes half coming out of them. There was blood, and bones, screams and the smell of ash and iron in the air, making it almost impossible to breathe.

sh*t, I had to go! Mom…she knew things and the way she was talking…

"Kakashi-san we have to go!"

"Are you cra…" I took a seal from my pocket and put it on him. He stopped moving, enough for me to get back down. I removed the seal and jumped away from him. "It's not funny Akane, it's a serious situation!"

"I know that, but do you want them to die without doing anything!?" He glared at me.

"Of course not but…"

"We have to go!"

"I can't put you in blatant danger like that! Not…" He didn't finish his sentence.

It wasn't the time to remember how my older brother died though. I knew in this era, Fubuki had died maybe a year ago only, and that Kakashi was fresh from losing both his teammates but…

"They're going to die Kakashi-san, die!" I screamed from the top of my lungs. I coughed, having inhaled too much smoke. "Please, please I'm begging you…" He stared at me, then Kyuubi who had just disappeared from Konoha itself.

"I don't know what's going on with you Akane, but don't play me."

"Promised, now can we…" He scooped me in his arms again.

"Hang on tight." He sprinted away, the wind whipping my back. I held onto him tightly, seeing the village moving fast around us. He jumped high in the night sky and I thought I heard someone screaming at us.

I closed my eyes when I took note of the Sharingan down there, most likely an Uchiha in charge of evacuation. Still, Kakashi and I fled the village. He was not as fast as the Kakashi I knew, but we reached the scene quickly.

They were in a barrier made by Aunty, who was weakened. Mom and Oji-chan were around her and Naruto, on an altar. None of them noticed us, too busy with sealing Kyuubi.

My eyes widened when Mom stepped back and made a barrier around them.

"Aki-nee!"

"Seal him quickly Minato! Kushina might need the energy boost as well!" Minato nodded.

He sealed half in Naruto, who was wailing. Kyuub did not like that and tried to use his claw to kill Oji-chan. The barrier repealed him.

He turned his head and ferocious eyes to my mom. My heart missed a beat when she stopped the claw coming at her with Adamantine Chains, yelling at Minato to hurry up. Almost in slow-motion, I saw Kyuubi free one of his other claws and Mom was not quick enough to dodge as it went through her body in the back.

I couldn't say anything, Kakashi's hold on me tightening as he knelt and pulled me against him, other people behind us. Aunty yelled in anguish and Oji-chan finally finished the seal, Mom keeping Kyuubi stuck by wrapping Adamantine Chains around the both of them.

Kyuubi soon disappeared. The barrier was dispelled, and I got rid of Kakashi to run to my Mom. She was still alive, but barely. I fell to my knees next to her, knowing from the size of the wound that I could not do anything.

"Mom…Mom you…"

"Family…is precious…" she managed to say, blood running down her mouth. She looked at me with weak, gray eyes, her hand opened. I took it.

"I'm sorry…I'm…I didn't think that you…" I stuttered, shaking.

"Yuurei…" I sniffed and she smiled through the pain. "You're a…Yuurei…watch ov…over…them an…and Naru…to…" I bit my bottom lip and nodded.

"I swear Mom, I swear…" She closed her eyes.

"Lov…yo…" Her hand became slack around mine.

"Mom?" I knew she was gone. I had seen enough death before to know. I had seen her cold body before.

Yet, this body was five and had the reactions that came with it. I knew she was gone, but the child in me refused to believe it and was hoping that by some miracle, she would wake up. There was nothing though.

I raised my head and looked toward the new family. Aunty was crying in Oji-chan's chest, Naruto in her arms. Oji-chan looked at Mom, then me and looked down in pain, holding Aunty close to his body.

He…just wouldn't look at me.

I looked up at the moon high in the sky. The smell of blood was still strong, my pants becoming red from the blood coming from my own mother. I heard people behind, saying to take care of the Yondaime, but they were background noises.

My mom was gone. Again. But Naruto had both his parents this time around.

I couldn't bring myself to be happy because of how hollow I was feeling. I touched my mother's cheek. Had the universe planed for death tonight and took whoever was close when it couldn't take Minato and Kushina?

Did I kill my mother by asking her to stay?

I gritted my teeth to keep my lips from shaking. Yet, my whole body started to shake, something bubbling in my veins. I widened my eyes when I realized what it was.

"A…" I jumped to my feet and ran off as quickly as my legs could, not hearing Kakashi behind me.

That feeling…

I looked down. Frost was appearing on the ground when I'd put my feet down.

sh*t, not here…not…

I ended up in a clearing, out of breath. I had no idea where I was compared to Konoha but…there was a stream and a pound.

I fell to my knees, my hands clenched around the grass on the ground and yelled, letting it go. Cold filled the area and the water froze quickly. Not just the water that was visible, but even the moisture in the ground, just anything. The clearing turned white, frozen in ice from head-to-toe.

I was on my back, staring at the starry sky, drooling. Awakening my kekkai genkai at five…was not…I had not thought it could…happen but…

I didn't have enough stamina yet to use it safely and…I couldn't feel my fingertips or my toes.

"Akane!" Kakashi was in a field of vision, blocking the moon and the stars. "sh*t, Akane, are you…are you okay?"

"…cold…" He cursed and took his jacket off, leaving him in a tight, black undershirt. He put his jacket on me, which was way too big, and left my arms inside.

"Hospital."

"Mom…" I whispered, tears finally falling from my eyes. "Mom…" Kakashi just picked me up as I started sobbing. "Mom!"

"I'm sorry," he whispered with sorrow, his eyes on the frozen grass. "I'm…so sorry…" He picked me up and I sobbed in his chest.

My eyes were dried after a while spent crying. By the end, I was quiet against Kakashi, the ice slowly melting around us.

"Fugaku-san." I looked up, numb. Fugaku-san looked serious, if not a little mean, from my angle. He glanced around with a frown with his Sharingan. He deactivated it before looking down at us, and me.

"Did you steal a kid from the Hidden Mist Yondaime-sama?" Oji-chan appeared next to him, a conflicted look in his eyes.

"Not exactly." I stopped listening to them. They could sell me off to Kiri to fend for myself, I wasn't sure to care about that either.

I had shortened my mom's life and…

I knew I was a failure of a daughter already but now…

Minato and Kushina had survived. Last time, the village had heard about their deaths before the funerals, the news spreading like wildfire when they were still in the shelters because of a shinobi who had talked too loudly.

When Itachi did not hear it, he was relieved. The Yondaime was a good man, he could change things. He could keep his clan from meeting a cursed fate. On the day of the funerals, he shot the Hokage and his wife a look. Naruto was in Kushina's arms, sleeping.

How much would change in him if he was raised by his parents and not as the village pariah?

Itachi kept looking around, his stomach twisting when he did not see Akane. She had to be alright though.

She had to. The Uchiha glanced at the pictures of the deceased. All had pictures except one, when there was only a name.

"Father, who is that person?" he asked his father.

He had isolated himself at first, from his parents and his own clan. Memories of what he had done kept flooding his mind, day and night as he would walk through the first house he remembered growing up in. He still was not okay, how would he be after all. Being surrounded by people he had killed to save Konoha before was nerve-wracking.

He would do better this time, and they would live. He would not let things reach the point of no-return, and with Minato alive, he had real hopes for peace this time.

"It is for Uzumaki Akiko, Kushina's cousin. She died that night. I believe you have met her daughter already," his father replied, looking at the mourning Uzumaki.

Oh, so that was how they had survived. Someone else died. His father did not say Akane had died though.

Reading the silent question in his eyes, his father continued.

"The girl is in the hospital. She is in shock and hardly responds to anyone." She was alive then.

Her being in shock was more than understandable though. Her mother had just died, not long after her brother so…

It was normal.

He would try to visit, hoping Shisui would drag him along so he would not go on his own. They were not well acquainted yet, visiting her on his own might just stress her out even more.

As expected, a few days later, as they were sparing, Shisui asked him if it was okay to cut their session short to go to the hospital. Itachi agreed and he stopped on the way to buy a maneki neko in chocolate. Shisui had raised a brow at him, and he had shrugged in response. Maneki nekos were symbols of good luck and Akane loved milk chocolate. Hopefully it would get some reactions out of her.

Itachi was surprised to see Kakashi in her room. He knew they knew each other but he did not know the extent of it. From Kakashi reading her story, he could see they were relatively close.

Akane had lost her bond with him by leaving Konoha back then.

"Senpai!" Kakashi looked back at them and closed his book.

"Oh, the little boyfriend." Shisui rubbed the back of his head, Itachi hiding his scowl behind his collar. "I guess I can leave for a few minutes." He got up and left, leaving his book on the nightstand. The Uchiha boys watched him leave, then looked at Akane. She was out of view, completely hidden under the bed covers.

"Akane, it's Shisui and Itachi," Shisui said, going to her bed. He patted the lump on the bed whereas he put his present on the nightstand.

"Don't rush her," he heard himself saying quietly to his best friend.

"I do…" Akane's hand left the covers, her finger pointing at Itachi's present.

"What is it?"

"Chocolate," he replied immediately. Her hand made a grabbing gesture and he put his present in it. It disappeared beneath the covers. There wasn't a sound for a few seconds and finally, she came out of the covers.

The dark circles and the paleness of her skin immediately caught his eyes. He had always known when she was neglecting her health and it had not changed.

"Thanks Itachi," she said quietly.

"How do you know I'm not the one who got it?" Shisui asked her, offended. She looked at him and showed the front of the present.

"It's too thoughtful for you." Shisui pouted at that, and he hid his smirk.

Shisui did most of the talking, on a mission to cheer her up. She would nod, sometimes smiled a little at one of his jokes but did not speak much. Neither did he. He accepted the piece of chocolate she handed him, Shisui complaining he wasn't getting any. He thanked her quietly and accepted it.

It was not the best chocolate there was in Konoha, he knew that, but this particular candy shop was the only one making various shapes and characters.

"Shisui, how is the Academy?"

"You're going?" She nodded and Itachi couldn't help but be happy.

The Academy was boring in his memories. It was easy and the kids there were not the brightest in terms of what was right or wrong. He had no interest in having those kids following him again, or girls watching from the window squealing his name.

He would have to see Izumi again. He had saved her again during the attack but seeing her was so weird. On their last encounter, he made her live a long, happy life where she got married and had children, grandchildren, all of that withhim. He was thirteen, he did not know better than to give her what she wanted. He wasn't sure if her feelings for him would have stayed with time, but she had thought highly of him for years and was his friend, so he…gave her that.

It did not feel right now as he had wanted the same thing with Akane.

They wouldmeet.

If Akane was going to the Academy, it would be less boring and he could rekindle their relationship, at least friendship. There would not be more than friendship for at least a decade, but as long as she was part of his life again, he would wait. Last time, she had been the one doing most of the talking. Now things were different…maybe she would not be interested in being his friend.

He was secretly hoping they could be friends through Shisui, he was the extraverted one after all.

"I don't know. They don't tell me a lot of things about…what's going to happen to me."

"Well, they're going to keep you, obviously!" Shisui retorted, standing up. "Where would you go otherwise?" She shrugged, the piece of chocolate between her fingers slowly melting.

"Don't know, don't care." She put the chocolate and her fingers in her mouth.

"Akane…"

"Do you want us to leave you alone Akane-san?" he asked her as gently as possible. She nodded without looking at him.

"Thank you for the present."

"It was nothing."

He sincerely hoped she would leave the hospital quickly. She looked too small and fragile in that bed to his taste.

I spent a month in the hospital after Mom's death. The doctors said I had suffered from an important emotional trauma that threw me in an almost apathetic state. The thing was, I was fully aware of what was happening around me and could talk if I wanted to. I did, with Shisui and Itachi because they were kids, there would not be talks about anything too important.

The emotional trauma part was true though. With Mom's death, the whole life I had had for a month was thrown into my face. I had summoned the Shinigami and died. I would never go home. I would never see them again. My mom was dead once more and…

I bit my bottom lip. I vividly remembered how Minato just hugged Kushina and Naruto tighter when I looked at him, broken from having witnessed my mother's death. It broke something in me.

He had died when I was five before and the memories of him were of someone loving and who cared about me, protected me. Here…he hugged his family.

Maybe it was selfish of me to want him or Kushina to comfort me when they had a newborn with them but…I had wanted to. Because I had lived with them for months at that point and they were Aunty and Oji-chan, they…they took care of me because I was family.

I couldn't help but feel rejected. Maybe it was the case, now that Naruto was there, they didn't have to play the foster parents to me and…

I had been silly to think of them as family. The family I had in them died so long ago. Them now…who would raise Naruto they…they were not my family. Or more like, I was not their family.

I would be the parasite mooching off them until I could fend for myself. Oji-chan and Aunty had died, and I had not gotten them back. I had gotten Kushina-san and Minato-san instead.

It was the only thing I could think of as they took me back to their place. I was surprised to see Jiraya-san there, his white hair making him easily recognizable.

"Here we meet again little cutie!" I blinked at him, my hands on the straps of my bag. I had vague memories of meeting him once or twice but…nothing more.

"Jiraya-sensai, have you succeeded in contacting Tsunade-sama?" Minato-san asked him immediately. Jiraya-san, who had crouched in front of me to grin at me, nodded and stood up.

"Yes. She sends her condolences. She agrees to give you the guardianship of the kid."

"I'm more closely related to her than Tsunade-sama, it's normal," Kushina-san pipped in, carrying Naruto with one arm.

"Well, knowing Akane's connection to Mito-sama, it could have been overlooked. It's a good thing not many people know." Mito?

"Akane." I looked at Minato-san. It seemed like he struggled to look at me now as he always had something off in his eyes when they would be on me. He smiled, but it seemed fake. "We have things to discuss, let's go to the table."

We did, Naruto in a bassinet.

"From now on, Aunty and I are going to be your legal guardians," the Yondaime stated. "You will keep living with us like before…" he trailed off, shooting the table a quick look. Kushina-san took my hand beneath the table. "Next spring, you will enroll at the Academy to become a kunoichi." I looked down.

I had been a kunoichi, a long time ago, in Kiri. In the span of two years, I had gone from nothing to almost Anbu if it was not for Shisui getting me when I was on my way back from the mission. I had all of the Bloody Mist shinobi code in mind. It was the opposite of Konoha's.

I hated it but…I guess I couldn't avoid it. There would be wars, the Akatsuki, all of that…I guess it was my life goal now, that I knew about it, to do something about it as soon as possible.

"You're going to go by the name 'Uzumaki' now. Your parents had changed it when they fled the Hidden Mist but…here, having you with this last name will help you integrate better. Naruto also has it." I raised curious eyes to him.

"But you're not Uzumaki."

"I am the Hokage, I have made many enemies during the war. It will be safer for him not to have my last name when he'll go in foreign territories."

"Iwa would not miss him," the Sannin added.

"…for instance."

"Mito," I whispered. "You mentioned…Mito…"

"Yes, she's your great-grandaunt," Kushina-san informed me kindly. I widened my eyes and looked at her. She chuckled a little. "Do you know who she is?"

"The Shodai's wife."

"It makes you Tsunade's distant cousin," Jiraya-san added. "If the Elders knew about it, they could think it's more important than your relationship with Kushina, at least that's what she told me when I saw her last week. She also said these two were a better choice to raise you than she was." He was not wrong.

Still…I had no idea I was…it had to be on Dad's side. It meant Hashirama was my great granduncle though. This…was unexpected.

"Do I have to be a kunoichi?" I asked them.

"I wish I could say 'no' to that Akane," Minato-san replied. "But there are people in Konoha, like you have seen a few months ago, who could try to make you work for them because of your potential. If you're a kunoichi and under my orders…you would be more protected." I guess…it made sense.

Danzou had not waited long before trying to get me into his Foundation or whatever after all, all of that while I was not even an permanent resident of the Hidden Leaf.

"What else?"

"Nothing, that's…all…" I nodded and left the chair.

"Thank you, Kushina-san, Minato-san. Jiraya-san, nice to see you again." He raised his hand with a grin.

"Sure thing cutie!" I ignored the worried look Kushina-san and Minato-san exchanged and went to my room.

I needed to know what the rules for genin were to live on their own.

I needed to know what a Yuurei was.

Chapter 3: Academy Arc: Chapter 1

Notes:

Disclaimer: The characters are Masashi Kishimoto's property, I own the OCs.

Characters age:

Akane: 6 (39)

Itachi: 6 (22)

Shisui: 9

Naruto / Sasuke: less than a year

Kakashi: 14

Chapter Text

I did not talk much. I would follow Kushina-san when she wanted me to go out with Naru and her, or I would go train with Kakashi when he was available. He was…strangely available for me. Maybe he was afraid I might turn like him after he had lost his father. He was a lot kinder than I remembered him to be at that age.

The only thing I would be interested in at the house was baby Naru. His birthday had become my mother's death date, but I could not resent him. He was a cute, innocent baby who had no idea of what had happened when he was born, or that him and his mom each had a half of Kyuubi. After three months, when he was moved to his crib in his room, before Minato-san's study, I started to climb in his crib with him. I wasn't really sure of myself at first because of my weight, but it did not break.

It was easier to calm Naru down when he was crying than picking him up with my size. Minato-san was still the Hokage, so working for the whole day and would try his best to be there at night for his baby, but the rest of the day, it was Kushina-san who took care of Naru, and me. With post-partum and Mom's death, she was clearly struggling.

It was strange. In my memories, they both knew what to do. Now, I could clearly see Kushina-san and Minato-san were still so, so young, just twenty-four and already had so much to do. It was a wonder how they did not fight more often. Not that they had the strength to do so anyway.

I had been twenty-two and half when the twins were born and if it was not for Sasuke sticking around, and then Kakashi and Naruto helping, I would have lost it.

"I thought I'd find you here," Kushina-san said as she entered the room. I was in Naru's crib, my hand on his belly. "Get down." I did. The last thing I wanted was to be an issue to them.

As soon as I could, I was out of here and in my studio apartment.

I raised my brows at Kushina-san when I heard voices downstairs.

"It's Naru's first playdate today!" she informed me, the grin on her lips contrasting with her dark circles.

"Playdate?"

"Yes! Miko-chan is downstairs with her boys, let's join them!" She took my hand and dragged me behind her.

As she had said, Mikoto-san was there, with Itachi and baby Sasuke. The Uchiha matriarch smiled when she saw us, gazing at Naruto in glee.

"He really did escape the red hair," she commented with a teasing smirk.

"Miko-chan!"

"Hello Akane-chan."

"Hello," I replied shyly. Mikoto-san was a very pretty woman, no wonder her sons were the lookers they were.

Itachi was looking around.

"I was thinking, we could let Itachi and Akane-chan watch the babies so we can talk."

"I'm not sure Miko-chan, Naruto is only three month-and-a-half and…" Mikoto-san put her hand on Kushina's arm.

"It is okay. Itachi is great with Sasuke, I am certain he can handle Naruto as well. Right?" She glanced at her son, who nodded without a world. He was the one carrying Sasuke after all. Kushina-san was hesitating, so I stretched out my arms to her.

"Are you sure Akane?" I nodded and ultimately, she gave in with a sigh and gave me her son. "Go to the nursery, there is a carpet and blankets and…" I nodded again.

"Follow me Itachi," I said to the kid, and we went up the stairs.

Both babies were quickly on their tummy on a blanket, Sasuke obviously having done it before. He was six-month-and-a-half after all. Naru was rolling from front and back while Sasuke was sitting against his brother, staring at me and Naru.

"You're good with him." I shot Itachi a look as I was gently rubbing my cousin's back. He was smiling gently at me.

"Thanks." I smiled at Sasuke, who blinked. "He's calm."

"He can be very loud too," he replied fondly, looking at his brother. "Right Sasuke?" Sasuke giggled at his brother, flapping his arms around. I smiled fondly.

I never had the opportunity to see them act as brothers, or even together…it was nice.

"Are you going to the Academy in April then Akane-san?" I nodded.

"Stop the '-san' please." I swore he smirked behind his collar.

After maybe half an hour, Naruto pooped in his diaper and started crying. I pinched my nose at the smell. Changing him was not my favorite to do and I shot Itachi a quick look. His eyes darted between Naruto and I and he shook his head. I pouted my lips and for a fraction of a second, his eyes reminded me of old Itachi when I'd do the same and he'd kiss me to make me stop.

"Meanie," I mumbled before changing Naruto. Once it was done, he gave me a hug.

"It looks like you have done it often before." I stiffened.

"I…have some experience," I replied hesitantly. In the span of a second, his eyes brightened then darkened before he was back to normal. I kissed Naru's cheek, which made him giggle.

It was a little awkward until they left. Itachi…he was weird. There was something off about him and I wasn't sure I loved it.

He was ninety percent sure it was the Akane he knew. A lot of things had happened since the Kyuubi attack. Naruto and Sasuke would have playdates and his mother had not lost her best friend, for one. The Uchiha clan was still relocated on the outskirts of the village, but his father was different. He even met the Hokage face to face one day as he was going home, still discussing with his father as he was leaving. Minato had asked him how he was with a smile, and if he was excited to start at the Academy.

He really was not, but he had little choice. He had to graduate to be a shinobi.

The Uchihas were still under suspicions, but his father was close to the Hokage now apparently. It was good, at least he hoped so.

The first day of school arrived quickly. He would spend his days trying to get back to his level, even if he knew it would take years with his body still growing, so months flew by quickly. He spotted Akane with Kushina-san, reading the list.

"Morning," his mother greeted them, pushing him gently before her. His father was quiet behind his wife, Sasuke in his arms, much like Naruto was in Kushina's.

"Miko-chan!" She narrowed her eyes at his father. "You." Itachi blinked and shot his father a look, who sighed and waved off his silent question.

He knew very little about the kind of relationship his father had with Kushina-san after all.

"Itachi-kun, you're in class A," Kushina informed them. He looked at Akane, who returned his glance with a bored one.

"Class B." He could not hide his disappointment. He had hoped to use class to get closer to her, but they were not in the same one.

"There are two classes?" his father asked the Uzumaki, who nodded.

"Minato decided to split it so that kids can have more time to properly learn everything. They both have twenty students."

"Oh I see," his mother said. She looked down at him and Akane. "Well, you can still see each other at recess."

His mother and Kushina-san both got in their head to make them befriend each other. Kushina had approached him once when she was over at their place and told him she was afraid Akane would stay alone and that if he could be her friend, it would be great.

He didn't need her to ask to do just that, but the fact she asked him…made him a little worried. On the outside, she seemed fine if not reserved, which he had seen when she was thinking deeply about something. It did not look like grief though, at least not anymore.

They went in the ranks when Minato was about to make his speech. His eyes would look at Akane, who looked bored. Then, he spotted Izumi behind, who waved and grinned at him.

He had done such a good job at avoiding her until then, but he could not anymore. He just hoped he would do a good job at hiding his shame around her.

Not being in Itachi's class was a relief. Being in Hyuuga Kou's was hell. For him, of course. I had known him; it was hard not to when he was so close to Hinata and I was Naruto's big sis after all. I loved annoying him and when I sat down next to him in class, I almost snickered to myself.

That would get my mind off…other things.

Nothing much happened since the attack. Minato-san was doing his Hokage stuff, Kushina-san was taking care of Naru and Naru was being an unbothered baby. I still would train with Kakashi or on my own, trying to get my chakra control back. I was a Seal Master before, and my theoretical knowledge was still there. Without chakra control, it was meaningless though.

Basically, I was going through all of my skills to see which one were okay and which one were for later. I still had no idea of what a Yuurei was, except it was what I was called, I guess. However, I was sure Mito must have had known what it was. Maybe there were stuff in her belongings somewhere, only God knew how Konoha's library was…generic, let's say.

There was no way I would get access to Mito's stuff though. I was six in a few days and barely at the Academy. When I asked Kushina-san if I would be able to learn more about our clan's techniques, she said that, due to their nature, it would wait until I was at least a chuunin.

I could very well be myself and be mistaken for a prodigy and become a chuunin quickly. There was one, well two, issues though. Prodigies, in Konoha, were preys. I knew about Danzou, if I showed too much…skills, he'd try to get me to his side, Hokage's ward or not. If anything, it might make him slyer. However, I had forgotten about the snake still lurking in Konoha's shadows.

Minato-san had taken me shopping for my first day of school. We met Orochimaru. I froze at his sight. Orochimaru was a nukenin to me, had always been and was bad, bad, bad news. I had not grown up in Konoha, so I had forgotten that he had defected when I was around ten. I joined Kiri at eleven and it was relatively new still, and Yagura had not liked knowing this snake was in the wild.

Well, Yagura, Obito, whatever.

The point was, I would rather stay under Orochimaru's radar as well. Although, Jiraya-san knew my mom, and dad, so Orochimaru also knew them, I was sure. Which meant, he probably knew, or suspected, I was their daughter, maybe. I hoped not.

Basically, if I made too much noise, they would have their eyes on me, and it was the last thing I wanted.

Classes were boring. History classes were nothing new, theory was…a joke and…yeah, everything was boring, and we would not start sparing until the second semester.

I did not see much of Itachi. It was fine by me. I would hear of Itachi though. The 'Itachi-kun' the girls would scream annoyed me to no end. Here I was, trying to eat my lunch quietly on the roof when I'd hear them squealing.

The worst was, the first time, I peeked to see if he was doing something special. No, he was walking. He spotted me looking at him and I hid quickly. There was no way I was getting involved with him with fangirls like them.

"You have the wrong answer," I whispered to Kou after a week of school. He glanced at me briefly, then my sheet of paper and scoffed. I was skipping some questions on purpose, answering the easier ones.

"Worry about your own work Uzumaki." I shrugged, my chin in my hand.

"Your loss Kou."

The next day, when Gou-sensei handed us the papers back, Kou glared at his paper. I glanced at the correction. The answer I had told him was wrong was, surprisingly, well wrong.

"Told you," I whispered, knowing it would piss him off.

"You…" he started, only to attract the teacher's eyes.

"Yes Hyuuga-kun?" Kou flushed in shame and shook his head.

"Nothing, I'm sorry." Gou-sensei shot my smirking face a look and I looked away.

Whatever the age, being noticed for bad reasons by a teacher did not feel good. Not that I had ever been to an actual school before, but well.

When the bell rang for lunch, I went to the roof as usual, lunch in hand. It didn't take long for Kou to find me as I had my chopsticks in my mouth.

"How!? Your test was..how!?" I swallowed my food. "Are you failing on purpose!?"

"I'm not failing, I'm being average," I corrected him, going back to my lunch.

"Why? If you can be better, then why don't you do it?"

"Talent gets you attention," I replied simply, handing him an onigiri. "It's umeboshi." He just stared for maybe a minute before sitting down, accepting my offering.

"You're ruining your talent." I stretched my arms above my head and crossed my hands behind it.

"I'm too unbothered to care about my talent." I looked up at the sky, the clouds softly blown by the wind.

And you know what? Somehow, we started to hang out together at school. I couldn't deny it felt nice not to eat alone. Sure, Kou was a kid, had the mind of a kid and all, but he was from the Main Branch of the Hyuuga clan. Clan kids were another brand of kids.

Itachi was frustrated. As he had expected, the Academy was boring and annoying. Being surrounded by children his age the first time around was not necessarily a 'good' experience, neither were the girls screaming his name. He had all of that again and he could barely see Akane. She was in another class and when school was over, she'd go home immediately, sometimes with Kakashi-san. He had thought about lunchtime, but the split of seconds he had crossed her gaze was enough to make him understand he would not be welcomed.

The girls screaming his name were probably making her antisocial nature come back to the surface. Yet, a month after the beginning of class, he saw she was not alone anymore, but with a Hyuuga. They were speaking in hushed voices as they were going to the shooting range with their class.

It was great if she was making friends. He just would prefer if it was him and not some random Hyuuga boy.

The one good thing was that he could watch Sasuke grow up again and be more present this time around. He could, would, be a better big brother and not set him on a path leading him to self-destruction.

As he was watching Akane playing with him, Naruto sleeping next to them as he was doing his homework, it was all he could think about. Give Sasuke a better, happier life.

"He's not crying." Akane looked at him. Even if they did not see each other at school, they would at her house sometimes, for playdates.

"He never cries when I pick him up." Itachi furrowed his brows. "Once I met your mom in the street and she asked me to keep him while she went in a store. He wasn't crying, he'd just stare at me. Then he pulled my hair."

"Sasuke is usually picky about who holds him." She shrugged, moving the baby closer to her face with a grin.

"You just love Nee-chan, don't you Sasuke?" He pulled on her hair. "Ha Itachi, help!" Sasuke had a strong grip, but he managed to make him let go. "Come on, I don't want to be bald." He chuckled. "So not funny."

"It is, a little." He let Sasuke crawl around. "Akane."

"Hum?"

"Do you avoid me at school?" he asked her seriously. She blinked slowly.

"Yeah." He was not expecting her to be that blunt.

"You're rude."

"The truth doesn't care if I'm rude or not." It was in those moments where he was sure she was not a child. "I like my peace and quiet, you attract the opposite."

"Oh." He couldn't hide he was disappointed. She raised a curious brow at him.

"You want to eat lunch with Kou and I?" He felt his ears heating up. "Huh…I guess if you can lose the screaming girls I don't mind?" His eyes brightened at that.

"Really?" She nodded slowly, taken back by his enthusiasm. "Thank you."

"You're welcome? I didn't think you cared about socializing."

"I don't mind it," he said in a whisper.

The more time he'd spend with her, the more opportunities he would have to ask her if…she was like him. He still had no idea how it happened, but if there was someone to share this with…

In all honesty, he wouldn't want to share this with anyone but her.

A few days later, he slipped out of class when the bell rang for lunch and went to the roof. Kou was surprised to see him, but Akane jumped to her feet to check the hallway behind him.

"Okay, we're clear," she stated, closing the door.

"Of course it is," he replied calmly. She shrugged.

"There's nothing wrong with double-checking It…you." He raised a brow. "You never know who's listening. I don't want to summon anyone."

"Huh…what's going on?" They looked at Kou. "You know the prodigy of our promotion?"

"Yes, I didn't want to be associated with him at school because of the 'Itachi-kun!' girls." Hearing her use a high-pitched voice to imitate the squealing girls was sadly on point. And out of character.

But it was progress.

"How's your shurikenjutsu?" I almost choked on my omelet.

"Below average," Kou replied smoothly. I wouldn't say Itachi and him didn't like each other, but it was…awkward. Maybe it was because of the whole Hyuuga and Uchiha thing. They were civil to each other; it was all that mattered.

"Hey!" I glared at Itachi when I realized he had turned around to chuckle. "Not funny!"

I was getting better at shurikenjutsu, and it was something Shisui would not let me forget when we'd hang out. It would happen less now I'd spend my days at school, but it would. I would spar with Kakashi most of the time.

Which was the reason why my clothes were often dirty. He loved throwing me around.

"Kakashi!" I whined like the kid I looked like. He put his foot down.

"Don't let me kick you down then." I really hoped by the time I was a genin I would be a challenge to him.

It was so frustrating to know how to fight but not being able to because my body was not following my brain.

"You're already above genin-level Akane, you can chill out on the training you know." I deadpanned at him.

"You're the one to tell me this?" He sighed and jumped to sit on a tree breanch, moving his hand to indicate me to do the same. I did, limping though. I had a great view of the pool of mud I had created. I could use the Wild Water Wave Technique now, which was a beginning.

As a Hyouton user, my chakra would naturally change to an equal amount of Wind-natured and Water-natured chakra. I had always been more comfortable with Water though. The most I could do with Wind was to sharpen my katana blade and the High Wind Technique, where two gusts of wind would grow on my sides and dive forward.

Anyway, the ground was soaked because of me.

"Are you okay?"

"I guess, why?"

"You're…different." I looked down, rocking my legs back and forth in the air. "I'm not talking about your speech; I knew you were able to speak like that and you just didn't do it. Why the sudden interest in fighting?" I shrugged.

"I can't lose control of my ice again."

"You have time. You look like you're in a rush." I frowned at him.

"I thought you graduated when you were my age." He pinched my nose, keeping me from breathing.

"Do as I say, not as I do," he reprimanded me, letting go of my nose when I opened my mouth to breath. "How is it at home?" I shrugged.

I tried to be home the least possible. The only…person I was interested in interacting with was Naru, and now he'd giggle when he'd see me, so I'd carry him. He was so important in all of our futures so…I had to watch over him. Mom asked me to watch over him.

I did not hate Kushina-san and Minato-san though. I just…had no interest in pretending I was their six-year-old relative. They were more roommates than anything else to be honest, and it was weird.

"I am not going to lie, sensei asked me to make you talk." I looked up at him, confused. He sighed. "Both him and Kushina-san are very worried about you. They say you're dissociating or something and that it started after Akiko-san…" He didn't finish.

"Die?" I finished for him, not blinking an eye. "It's what happened, no need to walk on eggshells around me. Mom died, like Onii-chan."

"See, it's the way you're talking about such a subject that is worrisome."

"What am I supposed to do? Wail all of the time because I want my mom?" I retorted quietly.

In all honesty, I had lost my mother when I was sixteen. Now everything was back to being calm, I had realized seeing her everyday for a month was weirder than not having her around. I had a breakdown following the Kyuubi attack but now…I was good with not having her around.

I felt incredibly guilty because I felt responsible for her death, but…I was okay. It was weirder to wake up and have Kushina-san making breakfast for all of us.

"No, of course not but…you could not be grieving properly." I blinked at him. "I…lost my father when I was five and I struggled for a long time after that. I don't want you to do the same." I smiled faintly at him.

"I'm really okay Kakashi-san." I pursed my lips. "Can I just call you Kakashi?" He nodded. "Did they tell you why he never talked to me about my ice?" Kakashi raised an eyebrow.

"He didn't?" I shook my head. "I thought he…never mind. I'm sure he doesn't want to overwhelm you." Huh, maybe, who knew.

"They're busy with Naru too you know," I said. "I can handle myself just fine."

"I don't think you realize how 'handling yourself' is complicated when you're a kid." I shrugged.

"When I'm genin, I'm moving out." He widened his eye. "I'm not part of their family."

"Is that why you call them by their name?" I nodded.

"They're not my aunt and uncle. Kushina-san is a distant cousin and Minato-san her husband."

"He's your godfather."

"Verbally only." I tilted my head on the side. "Do you have what you were looking for?" He sighed.

"Yes."

"What are you going to tell them?"

"That you're okay." We both jumped down and I winced when my foot touched the ground. "Your ankle?"

"Your fault!" I jumped on his back.

"How is school by the way? Sensei told me he was surprised to not…hear anything from your teachers." I furrowed my brows. "Isn't it…too easy?"

"Oh, that. Yes. He doesn't have to worry, I'm staying average." Kakashi nodded, a harsher glint in his eye.

"Friends?"

"I hang out with Kou. And Itachi for lunchtime."

"The Hyuuga I saw you with at school and an Uchiha? It's a funny combination." I leaned my cheek on his shoulder.

"If you say so." I knew it was but…I couldn't care less.

Kakashi took me home, putting me in the couch before Kushina-san put an ice pack on my ankle.

"How hard are you two training exactly?" she asked Kakashi, her fists on her hips.

"I kick her down." Kushina-san's brow twitched. "But she is fine!"

"Actually I'm in incredible pain," I corrected him with a smirk. "Aouch."

"Cut the cr…" He was hit on the head with a spatula.

"Language Kakashi!" He left promptly, knowing he wouldn't win.

Naruto, who was playing on the floor, stretched his arm at me. Kushina-san gave him to me when she was I was struggling to move without moving the ice. I sat against the armrest of the couch, Naruto standing on my thighs.

"Kushina-san, did Mom leave anything for me?" She was startled and glanced at me. "I mean, clan things."

"Oh. Yes. There is a summoning scroll among other things. Why?"

"Can I have them?" She furrowed her brows. Her chopsticks stopped stirring her meal.

"Minato and I agreed on giving them to you progressively. Some of them are high-level things even I had forgotten about."

"I didn't agree."

"We thought it would be better for you Akane."

"Did you wait until you were a genin to have access to the Uzumaki knowledge?" She frowned.

"No but…it was different."

"How? I'm a foreigner trying to connect with my roots like you were." It seemed to strike a chord and she went back to her cooking.

"I can teach you Fuinjutsu if you want to, but for further knowledge you will have to be a genin. Even I didn't have everything at once." I looked at Naru's grin with a thoughtful look.

"Okay." I saw her raise her head. "If you have time to teach me, I'd like it." Baby Naru slapped me, still giggling. His mother turned around with a hopeful grin, the chopsticks dripping on the carpet.

"Really?" I nodded, Naru trying to put his fist in my mouth. "You won't regret it kitten, I'm way better than Minato!" She had stopped using 'baby' as a nickname for me once Naruto was born.

She would call me 'kitten' occasionally, though.

Even if I didn't see them as family, it wouldn't hurt to get training from experts.

Chapter 4: Academy Arc: Chapter 2

Notes:

Disclaimer: The characters are Masashi Kishimoto's property, I own the OCs.

Characters age:

Akane: 6 (39)

Itachi: 6 (22)

Shisui: 9

Naruto / Sasuke: around 1

Kakashi: 14

Chapter Text

"You're teaching her Fuinjutsu?" Minato-san repeated, his bowl of rice in his hands. Kushina-san just grinned, puffing her chest.

"Looks like someone finally realized I was the Master here and you are only a student!" She crossed her arms and nodded to herself. "Yup, just a student dattebane!" Minato-san looked down at me, who was eating quietly.

"Are you sure Akane? I mean…" I raised a brow at him, but Kushina-san answered before I could.

"You meanwhat, Minato?"

"She's more available than you are." Minato-san twitched at that. "And when you're here, you should focus on Naru, or sleeping."

"I…I mean, sure but…I can make time to teach you Fuinjutsu too."

"Kushina-san suggested to teach me and I said 'yes' already." I furrowed my brows. "She is good, right?"

"Of course she is!" he stated immediately. I could feel Kushina-san's dark aura behind me. "She's awesome. It's just…I'm the Hokage and…"

"So it means you're better than me dattebane?"

"I didn't say that Kushina, just…I thought I'd teach her the Hiraishin at some point." I stopped my chopsticks in front of my opened mouth and Kushina-san leaned on the back of my chair.

"Really?" He nodded sheepishly.

"And by teaching Akane Fuinjutsu, I could…direct her in the right direction…"

"Oh plea…"

"You really want to teach it to me?" I interrupted Kushina-san. Minato-san smiled faintly and nodded.

"Of course. You have a promising future in Fuinjutsu, you could expand it in ways I haven't thought of yet." I ate the rice between my chopsticks.

"Was it before or after you asked Kakashi to question me about my life?" He widened his eyes, and I knew Kushina-san did the same.

"He sold us out, didn't he?" I shrugged.

"I don't think he wants to be a messenger." The Yondaime sighed.

"I am sorry Akane, I know we should have…talked to you immediately but…"

"I'm sorry." They looked at me. "I'm sorry if I'm not easy to live with." Kushina-san pushed her chair and knelt next to me, turning me toward her.

"It's okay Akane, take your time." She hugged me. I just stood there before patting her on the back awkwardly.

Talking with Minato-san just now had been the most we had talked in a long time. I had not actively sought physically contact with any of them since Mom died. It was weird…but didn't feel bad.

"Can you…just explain to us why you have suddenly started to call us by our names?" I tilted my head on my shoulder.

"You're not my aunt and my uncle." Kushina-san pulled me back, the expression on her face obviously one of hurt. "You're a cousin and Minato-san is your husband." Now only her hands were on my shoulders.

"Sure but…"

"I am grateful for taking me in, but we're not closely related or anything." I stood up and put my used utensils in the sink. "Thanks for the meal." I went to my room and closed the door behind me.

I didn't want to be mean, nor rude but…Oji-chan and Aunty died years ago and they…they were not them. If they were…then when Mom died he…

Minato-san would have come to comfort me, right? If I really was close family, he would have followed me before Kakashi could.

I sighed, reading through a scroll Minato-san had made for me not long ago here about Fuinjutsu. Maybe I was resenting him a little for that. Maybe I resented him for…not being my Oji-chan when I needed him. I understood though, I guess. He had almost lost his wife and newborn so…staying with them was normal.

I guess.

My first lesson with Kushina-san happened a few days later, during the weekend. It was always interesting to have another take on Fuinjutsu. The issue was…I knew everything she was saying.

I was older than both her and Minato-san after all. The Yondaime could kick my butt any day, Kushina-san too if she were to use Kurama, but as a Seal Master, I had more experience than them. And I also had more knowledge regarding…how the world came to be.

I'd go with old Sasuke sometimes to decipher things from the Otsutsuki Clan. It was close to old fuin, that I had to learn about a long time ago.

"It's…very good Akane." I looked up at her, then my seal. It was a simple Explosive Seal. She took it and inspected it with a frown. "It's not even a neutral one, you've made it so it worked with your chakra only." In my defense, I had learned how to make neutral Explosive Seal, like those you'd buy in weapon shops, after a personalized one.

Some stuff from my parents and grandmother, the Uzumaki side on my dad's side, had remained Kiri's property. Once I had learned to do that, I started to look for a way to put them on gloves and push the explosion forward instead of the seal just blowing up.

I could make Explosive Seals with my hands and feet. It was a big part of my fighting style in the Bloody Mist. It was graphic too. I could make Storage Seals out of my hands and feet too.

I could no longer do that though. I couldn't really use my Explosive Gloves either because my chakra level and control did not match the one I had as a chuunin yet. At first I was annoyed, before remembering that despite being taken to Kiri at eleven, Mom had never stopped training me in chakra control and Fuinjutsu. My body was lacking six years of chakra control training and it sucked, but I knew exactly how to make it better and how it felt when it was getting better.

"Come." I followed her outside and she put the explosive tag on a rock before taking a few steps back. "Go on." I made the tiger seal and the tag blew up, blowing up the rock as well, sending pebbles everywhere. I caught one going to my face easily, which Kushina-san noticed.

"What?" She shook her head.

"Nothing."

Even if I did my best to act life a kid…I wasn't going to pretend I remembered what I could and couldn't do when I was six, and what I was supposed to know how to do after three months at the Academy.

I knew I had slipped a few times, so I tried to think about it the less possible. In Kiri, I was specialized in infiltration for goodness's sake, pretending to be someone else to gather information was something I had done, although not much because I left at thirteen, but still, it was disappointing.

Mei-sensei would be disappointed.

"At least we're going to have fun during your Summer vacations!" I gasped and put my hand on my mouth. "What is it?"

"I forgot to give you a paper for school!" I ran back inside and climbed to my room. I rummaged through my bad and pulled the crumbled paper from it. Kushina-san was at the doorway and read the paper when I gave it to her.

"A camping trip after the vacations?" I nodded. "Do you want to do it?" I nodded again. "Alright, give me a pen."

The next day, when we gave the papers back to the teacher, he cleared his throat.

"Alright, you guys will be with Class A for the coming trip. I have not discussed what happens once you are genin yet, but you are put in teams of three under the commands of a jounin-sensei. As it is the first year, you will be able to choose your partners in all freshmen with whom you'll work during the trip."

"My brother didn't have that!" a kid from the Yamanaka clan said.

"It is normal. This is something the Hokage has established for this year. He hopes this will improve your teamwork with whoever you are paired with for once you are a genin." Huh, good thinking Minato-san.

The ninja Academy was a joke. Their curriculum was too much theory.

"As first years, you can choose your teams. Next year as well, but it will be in winter. Then it will be a lucky draw."

"Did you know about this?" Kou asked me quietly. He didn't care about me being the Hokage's goddaughter and didn't try to use me to get things.

A few had tried to approach me to get things but…well, let's say I had gotten myself the nickname of 'Ice Queen', which was quite ironic as I lived with the Red-Hot-Blooded Habanero.

There was no way in hell people would use me to reach Minato-san.

Although, I couldn't help but chuckle sometimes. I had been the Fourth Mizukage's apprentice and people hated me for it and the favoritism I received, even if Yagura was all too happy to beat me up even when I couldn't fight anymore. Now I was the Fourth Hokage's protegee and people were sucking up to me, or at least trying to, to reach him.

"We don't talk about his job." Since we had talked last time, he seemed to be happy to…not ignore me but…

He looked sad when I was around before. Maybe I had been harsh after all, saying I didn't view him as my uncle but…it was true. Even if he saw me as the kid he had known since she was two.

When the bell rang for lunch, Kou and I went to the rooftop, as always. We filled in our papers for the team, leaving the last spot blank.

"Do you think he'll want to be with us?" the Hyuuga asked me, opening his bento.

"Who knows?"

"I do." I blinked and looked up, like Kou. Itachi was on the roof of the room the stairs were in and he jumped down to our level. "Please."

"Are you sweating?" Itachi sighed and sat down.

"Let me guess, the moment the teacher said we'd choose our teams, your popularity caused your downfall," I said idly, a small smirk at the corner of my lips. Itachi glared weakly at me.

"It's not funny."

"I'm just surprised you're not deaf," Kou commented. I chuckled and, very maturely, Itachi threw the rice between his chopsticks at me.

"Dude!" He looked away, eating as if he had not done anything. Kou was living for those kinds of exchanges though.

Itachi was too comfortable with me. He should respect his elders. Even normally, I was six weeks older than he was.

"Is there a team leader or something?" I asked the boys.

"Not on the paper, but there usually are in genin teams," Itachi informed me.

"Itachi-kun!" I blinked at the girl voice. A girl opened the door, looked around and smiled when she saw Itachi was indeed here. She had a beauty mark below her right eye, long brown hair and her purple shirt had a high collar.

Uchiha then. I didn't even need to see the crest on their back or the Sharingan. The collars were enough. They were dumb, and ugly.

"Oh, sorry to…interrupt…" she trailed off, noticing me. I nodded at her as a form of greeting and kept eating. "Itachi-kun, do you have a team?"

"Yes. Sorry Izumi." Izumi blinked and smiled, clearly disappointed.

"It's okay." She looked at both Kou and I, taken back by Kou's eyes, and walked up to us. "My name is Uchiha Izumi, nice to meet you!" She bowed; her hands clasped in front of her.

"Hyuuga Kou."

"Uzumaki Akane." She twitched at that.

"Like Uzumaki Kushina?" I nodded without thinking and she knelt next to me. "So, you're the Ice Queen people whisper about!" I sweat dropped.

"Ice Queen?" Itachi repeated, confused.

"Ice Queen," Kou confirmed. "It started in our class; I thought it stayed in it."

"Oh no, Kanade-chan told Miyu-chan, who told Saya-chan who told Kimi-chan who told me!" I had no idea who these people were. "So, how is she?"

"Who?"

"Kushina-sama! I'm growing my hair long to be like her! How is she in real life?" I was taken back.

"Izumi, you're overwhelming her." She blinked and glanced at Itachi, then at me and she realized how I was trying to put distance between us.

"Oh sorry!" She stayed with us for the entire lunch. I wasn't…necessarily pleased by it. Like I had said, I liked my peace and quiet and Izumi talked a lot.

The thing was, Itachi did not seem pleased either, even embarrassed when she would call him 'Itachi-kun'.

Weird. She was his cousin, right? Even with…the obvious, creepy crush but…oh wait, it was normal to marry among your clan in most places. Never mind then.

When I was eating ramen at Ichiraku with Shisui later, he nodded.

"Izumi does have a crush on Itachi and it is creepy to marry within your clan," he said, putting his bowl down. "I was raised being told I'd marry a cousin one day, and it's weird. I mean, the girl can't take my last name if we have the same already, right?" I slurped my noodles.

"Sure."

"Heh, are you jealous that there is another girl in Itachi's life?" I deadpanned at him.

"Do you know how many fans he has at school? I don't want one of them to hang out with us at lunch."

"Does he have that many?" I nodded and he leaned his cheek in his palm. "I never had fans at school."

"Tough luck buddy."

"Does it mean the Hyuuga boy has a crush on you?"

"Kou? No, I don't think so. When he says he wants to beat me, I can hear the sincerity of his words." He laughed.

"You guys seem to be having fun, I'm almost jealous! And you even have a camping trip, I didn't have that."

"Three days of pure fun," I droned.

"Come on, show some enthusiasm."

"I'm at my best right now." He got his second bowl and quickly ate it.

"Is it better at home?" I twirled my noodles.

"It's going. Not better or worse."

"Do you really want to move out when you're a genin?" I nodded. He sighed. "Alright, I'll go get this information for you. If my mom hears I'm looking at apartments though, she'll kill me, and I'll blame you entirely."

"Deal." We shook hands. "Teuchi-san! Put this on Uzumaki Kushina's tab!" I grabbed Shisui's hand and ran off.

"No money?"

"No money!" I replied with a grin as I could hear Teuchi complaining Kushina-san was coming a lot less now.

The summer was quiet. Akane had come once with Kushina-san and Naruto to visit them. She had been looking all around her, asking his mother if there was another room behind the one they were in. She was shocked at the size of their house. Itachi had always thought it was too big for four people anyway. Sure, they could have their space easily, but a lot of it was empty or just with a few pieces of furniture in them when they were never used.

It had been weird to see her there, just like it was weird to see her with his mom or interacting with his brother. After so many playdates with Naruto and Sasuke, his brother ended up squealing when he'd see both Uzumakis, crawling so that Akane would pick him up. She would always do, grinning at him.

They would grow up to be close. Not just Sasuke and Akane, but the four of them, which made it even harder to picture another possible coup. His mother and Kushina-san were friends, to think one would betray the other…it made him sick.

He had not been noticed as a prodigy yet, he was just top of his classes. He was not sure if he wanted to graduate in a year this time. If he did not, would Tenma die as well by Madara's hand though? Or would Shinko be alright? If he could, he wanted to prevent Tenma from dying but…

The thought of Akane being on missions was terrifying. He knew she had potential and could fight back, but anything could go wrong on a mission, she could have a moment of weakness, have bad teammates…It was selfish of him, but he wanted to be on her team to protect her if needed.

Not that he would tell her that. The few times he admitted that his insistence on training with her before was to be sure she would be safe on her own ended up in her accusing him to think she was a damsel in distress. She was not.

He still found her almost dead bleeding out in her bathroom though.

A part of him wanted to keep her sheltered and safe in Konoha, but the other was curious about how far she could go. Fuinjutsu was interesting and powerful if used right, and she had the potential to awaken an Ice Release. Knowing her, he wouldn't be surprised if she were to mix the two.

"Is it weird?" she asked him suddenly as Naruto and Sasuke were playing with toys.

"What?"

"Your cousin crushing on you." He blinked.

"Izumi?" She nodded.

"I talked about it with Shisui. Even him is creeped out by the marriage thing in clans." Itachi sighed.

If there was one thing he had been…kind of happy to avoid, was the topic of marriage and marital obligations as the heir. Unless things changed, if he was not married by twenty-five, in times of peace, he would be thrown in an arranged marriage to have an heir.

The Uchihas loved deeply, very deeply, but were not what he would call romantic.

"I'm sure she will grow out of it."

"Who knows, maybe she's your future wife." He shook his head.

"I don't think so." He shot her a quick look. "Would you marry another Uzumaki?"

"I never had to think about it." Naruto crawled on her. She gazed at him for a few seconds then had a disgusted face. "Gross. He's like my baby brother but I guess blood-wise, he's distant enough to…Eurk!" He chuckled.

The end of the vacations arrived and the first day of their camping trip arrived. It was an unexpected change, but not unwelcomed. Not that he thought he would get things out of this trip, but it was good to put kids in more real situations from a young age.

Itachi finished his bag in the early morning, his mother checking it one last time before adding another bandage roll. He said goodbye to Sasuke and his parents, and he was off. The heat had cooled down in the early September, which from what his father had said, would predict a cold winter. It felt better than the heat of the summer. He wasn't sweating and sticky, his child body defeated by the hot temperature.

There were already teachers and a few kids when he arrived. He spotted Kou and hesitated to join him. They never were alone without Akane, even if he had nothing against the Hyuuga. He never had interacted with him before and wouldn't have if it was not for his friendship with Akane.

He enjoyed keeping her feet on the ground and it was funny to see. He respected Kou, and he liked to think Kou respected him back. They greeted each other, the other kids surprised to see them with each other. The Hyuuga and Uchiha clans were known for their rivalry after all.

"Big mood you two." They looked at Akane, her bag on her shoulders. She was wearing the same thing as usual, blue sandals, black pants, and a dark green tank top. She had her hair in a high ponytail though. "What, am I the cement in this friendship or something?" She put a dramatic hand on Kou's shoulder. "I knew you couldn't live without m…"

"If you fall in a ravine, I will pretend I haven't seen anything," Kou cut her off, making him smirk behind his collar. Akane slowly put her hand away.

"Mean." She glared weakly at him. "Even meaner." He shook his head at their antics.

Having friends in the Academy was making it easier to go through it.

They left for the forest on the outskirts of Konoha.

"Alright kids! For three days, you will be left in teams of three in a thirty-kilometer radius!" his sensei explained to them. "The other teachers and I will make sure you don't leave the perimeter. You are all going to be given enough rations to last three days, but we recommend you hunt for your own food, an emergency distress flare if you can't go on, a map and a compass. You're going to have a list of clues for things you have to pick up during these three days. The team who has the most of them will have a prize."

There were cheers when he mentioned a prize. Once they had everything, the teachers let them go. Kou was staring at the list of clues.

"Looks like you can use your Byakugan Kou," Akane stated.

"Nobody wants to train me to use it before I'm seven," he muttered under his breath.

"Just don't use it for nothing, I'm not dragging you behind if you are out of chakra."

"I will push you down a cliff." Akane stuck her tongue at him.

Being on a team with them wouldn't be bad.

The clues were easy, and the map was made easier for kids. They were all connected to the Hokages.

"Told you," Akane told Kou when they were around the campfire. The boy was laying down, a wet cloth on his eyes.

"I don't want to hear you!"

"You're talking to the tree trunk I'm sitting on." He was busy skinning and cutting the rabbit he had caught. Once this was done, they were cooking over the campfire. "I brought instant ramen in case."

"Where?"

"In a scroll Kou. I overpacked. If it snows out of sudden, I got you guys covered."

"It's September," Itachi pointed out with a raised brow. She looked at him dead in the eyes.

"Always expect the unexpected. I wanted to bring my bed, but Minato-san said it was not the goal of the trip." Kou laughed at that, and he smiled.

"I can picture you on missions later on just unsealing your bed at night!" She shrugged.

"I like my comfort."

"Are you going to bring toilets too?" he asked her with a teasing smile.

"Don't try me Uchiha."

The whole thing was easy. He used his time to try to talk to Akane more and tease her. Teasing her had been one of his best and only hobbiesbefore, he loved getting reactions out of her and it would not change here, lovers or friends.

"Oh piss off Itachi!" she yelled to him as he made fun of her missing the bird with her kunai. They needed a feather. She yanked the map from his hand and stomped away.

"Where are you going?" he asked her with a frown.

"I'm dirty, I'm going to the river to try to wash off!" She disappeared in a bush.

They didn't move for fifteen minutes until Itachi stood up.

"You like Akane." He looked at Kou with a blank look.

"What?"

"You like her. You tease her, you smile, you look at her a lot. You have a big crush on her." The Hyuuga pointed at his eyes. "My eyes see all." He turned around and left as a response. "I'll take that as a 'yes'."

"Don't move until we're back." Kou just sent him a taunting smirk.

He found Akane easily but stayed hidden. She was standing still on the river, her eyes closed. She took a deep breath and stepped forward, the water freezing beneath her foot. She did the same with the other, and again, the ice melting when her foot would leave. Then she made a pillar of ice in front of her and punched it, blowing it up. Itachi frowned when he saw the palm of her gloves, that she did not have before, glowing red before fading back to black.

"That's one thing finally back to normal," she told herself, her fists on her hips. "Stupid child body and adult skills…"

"I knew it," he said without thinking. Akane immediately melted her ice and looked at him with wide, alarmed eyes.

"I…Itachi? What…what are you doing here?"

"I was looking for you, you took time and…" He moved forward, trying to approach her but she kept moving to keep the distance between them. "Akane, it's okay."

"I don't know what you're talking about. I didn't say anything."

"Calm down."

"You calm down!"

"The Edo Tensei in the Fourth Shinobi War." She stopped moving, her eyes now as wide as saucers. "You're willing to listen to me now."

"That's…no, no, no…" She shook her head, her hands on her ears. "I'm not listening, it's not happening, it can't…" Itachi went to her and tried to pry her hands off her ears, but she shook her head and ultimately fell on her butt, making him fall too. He finally removed her hands.

"Akane it's me." She closed her eyes.

"No, no it can't be…you can't know that, no…"

"I undid it with Sasuke," he continued in a whisper. "I broke out of his control with Shisui's eye, I helped Naruto and Killer B fight off Nagato, it's…"

"You're dead," she croaked out, tears at the corners of her eyes and along her lashes. "You've been dead for…years, it can't be…"

He had hoped that whatever had happened to her, it had happened when she was much older than him, hopefully as an old woman who had lived long. But to hear her say he had been dead for years to her broke his heart. In his mind, when he got here, he had seen her a month prior. Yet, she had just said it had been years to her.

If anything, he was a ghost, but so were most people in Konoha.

"Akane please, look at me," he whispered gently to him. He closed his hands around hers and slowly, she opened her eyes. He smiled gently and wiped away the tears about to fall. "I don't…know how, or why it happened but…I woke up around the time you were supposed to leave after a bad fever." She looked in his eyes, unsure of what she was seeing. Slowly, she reached her fingers to his pulse. She gulped when she felt it beating. "Did your hair turn white like I asked of you?"

"It really is you," she mumbled before a hiccup. "I…Itachi, it really is…"

"Hi," he whispered before sniffing. Without having to spy on the Akatsuki, constantly having to hide his emotions, and being in a child's body, his emotions were bubbling in him.

He was good at keeping them under control when he was a child, yet now…

She put her hands on his cheeks and her forehead against his. He took a deep breath, regretting they were children and not the adults they actually were.

"Itachi…" she whispered against him. He opened his mouth, but nothing came out of it.

He was too much caught in the moment he failed to see Akane's face going from confusion to anger. He was thrown on the ground a second later, his hands on his bloody nose as she was standing, her right fist shaking in anger. Her whole body was shaking in anger.

"Akane?" he called her in a muffled voice. She shot him a tearful glare before running away. "Akane don't…" He put his nose back in place, wiped it and ran after her.

She was quick, he would give her that. He caught up to her, at least in the distance.

"Akane stop running!" Seeing him must have had disturbed her a lot, which was understandable. She didn't see the broken branch and put her foot on it, the branch breaking and Akane meeting the ground before he could catch her. He hurried to her side and turned her head. "Akane, can you hear me?" Her brows moved, so she was alive.

Itachi looked at her body, looking for a wound. Seeing her right ankle being weird, he touched it and got a wince in response. Her ankle was broken from the fall.

Kou used the flare the second he saw Akane unconscious in his arms.

Chapter 5: Academy Arc: Chapter 3

Notes:

Disclaimer: The characters are Masashi Kishimoto's property, I own the OCs.

Characters age:

Akane: 6 (39)

Itachi: 6 (22)

Shisui: 10

Naruto / Sasuke: 1

Kakashi: 15

Chapter Text

I had the weirdest dream. I had dreamed that Itachi, my Itachi was like me and in his child body. The Itachi I had not seen in almost seventeen years.

What a weird dream.

"Akane, are you okay?" I looked at Kushina-san and nodded. I looked around, confused. "You're in the hospital, you fell during your trip."

"Right." My right ankle was in a cast.

"Your ankle is broken; it will be six to ten weeks before you can walk properly." I let my head fall back with a whine. "Do you remember what happened?"

"Huh…not sure."

"Well, I guess Itachi-kun's version is the only one we have then."

"Itachi?" She nodded.

"He was with you when it happened. He said you had a fight and you left but fell from a tree. He carried you back here."

"Oh yeah…we had a fight and I got really upset." She pursed her lips.

"Well he asked me to tell him when you were awake."

"I'm mad at him." She frowned and put her hands on her hips.

"We don't like Itachi-kun right now then?" I blinked and couldn't help but chuckled at her falsely angry look.

"We don't like him right now." He nodded.

"As you wish then!"

When she was gone, I lay back in my pillow.

It was not a dream then, Itachi was…really here. He said he had a fever around the same time as me so…he had been here for a year almost. So, when he got me chocolates when I was here, or the shurikenjutsu, or wanting to be friends at school…

It had all beenmyItachi and not the kid one? How long had he known I was…well, me? How come he was here? The seal on my stomach was still here, now appearing only when I'd use chakra or use it on my hand and touch my stomach but…was Itachi the same? No, he had been dead for sixteen years, I was the one to make deals with the Shinigami, not him.

Then how come he was here? How could he possibly be here? Had something happened…up there? Even though, why would someone else be here? I thought I was the only one and now…

New tears appeared in my eyes when I realized that someone could relate to how I was feeling, being surrounded by people dead for so long. The difference was that…

I sat up, my eyes wide in horror. Did it mean that for a year, Itachi had lived in the Uchiha Compound, under his parents' roof and seeing relatives he had killed before and remembered killing?

How awful it must be…and lonely. Here I was, thinking I had a hard time, but I had not killed any of them. I had not seen the betrayal and horror in their eyes as I killed them, knowing I had chosen to forsake them for my brother's life. I was a joke next to what he must have felt.

A few years after Shisui and Akiko's births, my twins, Sasuke had told me his brother's story. I had suspected some of it. Shisui wouldn't have trusted a latent psychopath and it always seemed to me like there was more to it than he let on.

I couldn't believe that.

My first reflex when I understood it was Itachi was to punch him and break his nose. I felt the bone breaking under my fist and, I was not proud of it, it was satisfying to know I was hurting him too. All of the hurt and heartbreak I had felt and buried for so long over him leaving me to die by his brother's hand had come to the surface. He never hid he would die by his brother's hand, a suicide hidden in murder really, plus his disease, but it still had hurt.

When he left, saying I had not made him doubt his plan, not even a little bit, it had been as if he had ripped my heart off my chest to keep him with him for good. It was as if the three years we had spent together was real and important only to me.

With time, I even had come to wonder if he meant the 'I love you' he had told me on our last encounter, or if he just pitied me so much that he had said what I wanted to hear. Shisui had asked him to keep an eye on me and sometimes, I would wonder if he had not started a relationship with me because I was in love with him and friends with Shisui and he felt guilty for not being able to save him. My son's resentment toward his dad, telling me he had never loved me, only brought those sad thoughts to the surface.

The next day, Kushina-san came back, saying I could go home. She had a box of chocolates in her hands.

"I know we don't like him right now, but Itachi-kun has taste." She read the tag. "And expensive one at that." I took the crutches. "Do you want to tell me what happened?" I shook my head. "Okay then, let's go home."

When we got home, the smell of a cake was in the air. Without a word, my crutches fell to the floor when Kushina-san picked me up as if I weighted nothing. I grabbed onto her with a yelp.

"I've got her!" Minato-san turned from the counter, Naru strapped to his abdomen.

"Right on time, the cake is done!" Kushina-san sat me down on a chair and brought a cup of hot cocoa to me. Minato-san put the cake on the table, the words 'Welcome home Akane!' written in yellow icing on it. I just stared at it.

"But you…work?" Minato-san co*cked a brow at me.

"I have days off you know and decide if I have other ones." I looked back at the cake.

"I…thank you," I thanked them quietly.

"It's nothing kitten, it's what families do for each other," Kushina-san said, her hands on my shoulders. Minato-san gave everyone a slice. I just stared at it and felt a tear rolling down my cheek. "Oh it's okay, we're here Akane." Kushina-san's arms were around me. A sob came out of my lips, and I put my hands on my mouth. Naru heard me though and turned his head to me, tears starting to appear in his eyes.

"You should go give your nee-chan a hug Naruto," Minato-san said gently, handing me baby Naru. I took him and let him be up on my legs. He was looking at me with big, wet blue eyes.

"I'm okay Naru-chan," I whispered to him, hugging him. He hugged me back and soon, another pair of arms, stronger this time, were around me.

I didn't know why I was crying. The shock of Itachi, them still doing that even if I was no longer treating them as family…

I just sobbed in their arms, surrounded by their warmth.

He felt terrible. He should have thought more about how Akane would react when he would tell her and not how he would tell her. Of course, she would be shocked. He had died after knocking her out, telling her he loved her. And now, he was here, in the flesh.

Of course, she would be shocked and pay less attention to her surroundings. Of course, she would not want to see him immediately. Hell, maybe she didn't want to see him period. If it had been years for her, then he had no idea what her life was before she got here. She could have been traveling, or stayed in their…her house, or moved to Konoha, or settled down somewhere else. For all he knew, she was married or had someone before she…

He was not an idiot. He had died and got here, meaning that Akane had died too. He didn't want to think of her as dead though, he didn't want to think that in a world where his body was probably just dust now, hers was decomposing or just bones. He knew that if for her it had been years then she could have had a life with a man that was not him.

It was like twisting a knife in his heart just to think of that though. Her smile, the kind look in her eyes, her embrace, her lips, the feeling of her skin beneath his lips and fingers, it had always been for him and him only. The thought of another man having them, of Akane possibly saying 'I love you' to someone else was making his skin crawl. He had pushed back these thoughts for a year but now she knew it was really him…he couldn't ignore it anymore.

There was a possibility that his love had moved on from him and no longer loved him like he loved her. It was breaking his heart just to think about it, but it was a possibility.

Itachi shook his head in front of the Namikaze household. Even if it was true, he could still be her friend. Maybe it would be torture once they reached their teenage, then adult years, to just be friends, but if she didn't want more, he would agree. He just wanted to be in her life, and he wanted her to be part of his.

He just needed her forgiveness first.

"Itachi-kun?"

"Hokage-sama." Minato chuckled.

"'Minato-san' in informal situations is fine Itachi-kun." He nodded. "Why are you here?"

"I wanted to know if Akane was still mad at me."

"I'm afraid yes." He looked down. "She's going back to school tomorrow, I'm sure it will soon be better." Itachi nodded.

"Thank you." Itachi turned around, his head down.

As he walked behind the house, he looked up. He briefly caught Akane looking at him through the window of her bedroom before shutting the curtains. He sighed deeply.

She was mad at him, and he knew he deserved it.

The next day, he saved his bullies from a bigger bully. He was called 'Itachi-sama' in the hallways, again. This time though, an audible laugh reached his ear. He looked to his right, only to find Akane leaning against the wall, a hand on her mouth to muffle her laugh. The second she saw his blank look; she laughed even harder. His bullies did not even realize he no longer was following them.

"I hate carrying your stuff," Kou commented, leaving their classroom. He looked at Itachi, then the boys talking about him. "What did you do?"

"I don't want to talk about it." Kou shook his head.

"I need to use the restroom." He left them alone. Itachi shot her a shy look.

"Naru and Sasuke have a playdate when we get home from school," she stated simply. He nodded, understanding the message.

She didn't look at him when they met up when school ended, but she handed him her bag. He didn't protest and carried it all the way, his heart beating so fast he worried for a second if it was not going to explode.

When they reached the Namikaze residence, his mother, Kushina-san, Naruto and Sasuke were in the living-room.

"Welcome back you two," his mother said.

"Hello Mikoto-san."

"Do you want a snack?" the Uzumaki asked them.

"No thanks, we have homework to do for tomorrow." She elbowed him in the ribs. "Right?" He nodded.

"You made up then?" the Uchiha matriarch asked with a relieved smile. "Itachi has been so sad since you weren't talking to him Akane-chan." Akane blushed a little and he glanced at his mother in embarrassment.

"Mom!" She chuckled.

"I'm sorry Itachi, but I was worried."

"Let's go," Akane muttered, and he nodded, following her.

Once in her room though, they sat on her bed side by side. He looked around briefly. The room was bare except for a family picture on her nightstand, a black tag on the face of what appeared to be a man.

"How long?" He looked at her. "How long have you known it was me?"

"I noticed something weird when we trained for shurikenjutsu for the first time." She groaned.

"That long? You've suspected it was me basically the whole time?" He nodded sheepishly. "And you didn't think about telling me earlier?"

"I wasn't sure of anything, and it is not a subject I was going to approach without being sure. When I heard you talking to yourself, I knew it was you." She sighed. "I…know you're mad at me about the last time we saw each other but…I am sorry. I really am." She scoffed and looked down; her hands clasped on her pants. "A…"

"I mourned you." He closed his mouth. "I cried for you, for a long time. I couldn't see one of your shirts without crying." He didn't know what to say. "I grieved and never fully recovered from your death and now you're…here?"

"…yeah." Silence fell upon them. "I haven't looked for the reason why exactly yet, but I'm sure…I'll find why we're both here an…" She raised her hand, stopping him.

"I know how I got here, at least I'm pretty sure." He blinked. Akane knew? How? "Can you…lift your shirt for me please?" He didn't really know why but he did without thinking. Maybe it was because not so long ago to him, he was all too happy to disregard his clothes around her.

She gathered chakra in her hand, the tips of her fingers turning blue and put it on his stomach. She frowned as it did nothing.

"What the actual f*ck?" she muttered. "Do it to yourself." He did. Nothing. "Huh. You're a mystery."

"What were you looking for?" She sighed and raised her shirt. She did the same thing except that on her stomach, a seal appeared. "What is that?"

"I died by using the Death Reaper Seal." He looked at her in shock. He knew that kinjutsu, the Yondaime had used it to seal Kyuubi and then died. The Sandaime had used it to deal with Orochimaru.

"Why would you do that to yourself?" he asked her, still in shock. There was also something else in him.

Anger. She had promised him she would join him and tell him everything he had missed once her time had come. However, those who used the Death Reaper Seal sold their soul to the Shinigami, which then would be tormented for eternity in its stomach. He wanted to rest with her by his side and she just…sold her soul? For what?

"It's irrelevant why I used it now," she replied, letting go of her shirt. "The thing is, I used it, I woke up here, but what I don't get is why you are here."

Now he was more confused. If it was a kinjutsu Akane had used before, when he was already dead…why indeed was he here? How?

"I doubt the Shinigami can touch a soul without leaving an imprint or something, right?" she continued, biting on her thumb nail. "But you look perfectly fine so…"

"Well, I'm here, it is what really matters," he cut her off, not wanting to think about this issue. She opened her mouth, but seeing his harsh eyes glaring at the floor, she didn't say anything.

"…you're here, yes…" He looked up at her, seeing her struggling to choose her words. "I'm not sorry for punching you, you deserved it." He nodded.

"I know." He could see the many emotions in her eyes and how she was struggling to speak. Ultimately, she gulped.

"I…"

"Can I hug you?" he interrupted her in a whisper. She just stared at him and nodded.

He turned, both his legs on her bed and took her wrist in his hand, pulling her against him gently. It was not the same as before when she was smaller and shorter than him. Right now, they were of the same build, it was not the same.

The second she leaned her face on his shoulder, he let a breath out he was not aware he was holding. He closed his arms around her and relaxed.

Even if he was back to being a child, there was something lacking. He didn't feel entirely home, maybe because deep down, he knew he had lost it by his own hand a long time ago. Or maybe because he always felt there was something lacking to call Konoha and his family home now. Maybe he had an impostor syndrome as he was not the six-year-old everybody saw him as.

As he finally had his love in his arms though, even if they were children, he finally felt at home. The piece that was lacking was the piece Akane had provided him with years ago and that she kept with her each time he'd leave.

"I missed you," he whispered without realizing. She squeaked on his shoulder. "I…"

"Shut up," she mumbled. He could feel his shoulder getting wet. "I'm…Really sick of crying so…please, just shut up Itachi." He smiled at that and hugged her tighter, burying his face in the crook of her neck.

He did just that, letting her cry silently on his shoulder.

He wouldn't leave her this time.

My relationship with Itachi was weird. He really was…the one I had been in a relationship with for three years. I didn't really know how to interact with him and he was nothing but patient, assuring me he understood I needed to get used to him being here again. He had assured me he was okay with being my friend and nothing more.

It wasn't as if being six and a half would allow us for more anyway.

On October 10th, we went to the ceremony remembering the lives lost a year prior. I stood next to Kakashi, holding Naruto against me as Kushina-san, as the wife of the Hokage, was next to him alongside the Sandaime and the Elders. Naru was surprisingly quiet. We were all quiet for a few minutes in front of the memorial until the group split up, going on the different graves in the cemetery. Kakashi took Naru from me and took my hand. I looked up at him and he eye-smiled at me. I gulped and nodded before we left for my mother's grave.

I had never visited it before, and neither had I visited my brother's either. Their tombstones were side by side. My mother had never recovered from losing her son at the age of eight before, by the hand of her crazy husband, so in a way, I was glad she could be with Fubuki again.

"Give me Naru," I asked Kakashi once I was on her grave. He did and I knelt on the ground, keeping Naru standing on it by hugging him around the waist. "See Naru, it's where nNe-chan's mommy and brother are resting now. They were awesome, I'm sorry you can't meet them." I kissed his head. "I miss them very much, but they died so we could live, so we have to, for them." I leaned my forehead against his head. "They're watching over us now." Kakashi stiffened next to me. I stood up, Naru in my arms and looked next to him.

I froze when I recognized Orochimaru.

"It is a shame that outsiders are the one to die for Konoha's sake," he commented, glancing at me from the corner of his eyes. Naru started to cry under the Sannin's gaze, irritation flaring in his gaze. "What a shame."

"Now Orochimaru, don't frighten kids today!" We looked back to see Jiraya-san. He waved at us and relief washed over me. "Seriously, you always look so gloomy."

"I am surprised you are here and not conducting your 'research'." The Toad Sage laughed and slapped him on the back.

"I could think you're not happy to see me!" From Orochimaru's face, it was spot-on. "Now, I have so much to tell you about!" Jiraya-san dragged him away.

"My savior," I whispered in relief.

"You don't like Orochimaru-sama?"

"He gives me the creep." He didn't comment.

"Nene!" I perked up and looked back. "Nana!"

"I'm going to visit Rin," Kakashi told me as Itachi was walking toward us, holding Sasuke's hand as he was walking.

Sasuke had started talking while Naru could say 'Mama', 'Dada' and, much like Sasuke, 'Nene'. The last syllable of my name was apparently the easiest one for babies to say.

I crouched and opened my arms to Sasuke while Naru left to greet Itachi. Sasuke's small and chubby arms were quickly around my neck, and I kissed his cheek loudly as I got back up. Itachi was holding Naru's hands but was still gazing at the two Sannin slowly disappearing from our sight.

"They're gone," I told him quietly. He furrowed his brows and nodded, still not looking at me.

Without a word, he guided Naru back to me and knelt on my mom's grave, bowing his head in respect. I just stared at him, not really understanding why he was doing that.

"She deserves all of my respect," he said simply, feeling my confused gaze on him. "Her help has changed everything." I looked down, biting my bottom lip. I let Sasuke go when he started kicking, only for him to start a 'conversation with Naru.

"Thank you," I whispered back, moved by his words. He stood up and smiled gently at me.

"It's the truth." I nodded. He glanced at both Mom's and Onii-chan's graves one last time. "Are you okay?" I looked at them as well and smiled sadly.

"The strange thing was having her around," I confessed out loud for the first time. I looked at him. "How are you coping?" He blinked, taken back. "And I mean really, Itachi. How are you coping?" He pursed his lips and glanced at his parents, talking to Minato-san and Kushina-san.

"I feel like an impostor sometimes," he admitted quietly. "But I have a chance to do it all over again with my family, I don't want to mess up again." I looked down.

He saw them as his family. Then how come I didn't?

"And you're here, so I'm not alone with it." I blushed a little at that.

It was true. No matter how I felt toward him, we were in this together.

Slowly, we built a friendship again, or at least I got used to his presence once more. Not having to think about romantic feelings helped a lot, because I wasn't sure I would be able to handle it. When December rolled in, I could discuss with Itachi relatively normally, his teasing going back to normal.

He had stopped, not wanting to overwhelm me, even if I was fully aware teasing me was one of his big passions in life.

"Why are you pretending?" Itachi asked me suddenly when we were eating lunch, Kou in the bathroom.

"What?"

"You could ace all our classes and graduate quickly. Do you enjoy school?"

"Well, the positive wins over the negative." He frowned at me. "It's boring, I'll give you that, and being surrounded by kids is not the best but, at least, I'm staying under the radar." I looked down. "The old mummy already knows I'm here but hasn't tried anything since the Kyuubi attack, and the snake…if I stay in school, if I stay average, then I can stay away from them." I pursed my lips. "The only issue is that I can't get my hands on any of my mom's belongings or Uzumaki knowledge until I'm a genin, at the bare minimum. I can't win in any case."

"Sure but…" I looked at him. "Don't you want to graduate quickly?" I shrugged.

"Not being sent on missions is fine by me. The main mission I have is to watch over Naruto, and Sasuke, I can't do that if I'm not around."

"Sasuke too?"

"Yeah, we got tight before," I said simply, not wanting to explain more.

Itachi had not asked me anything about my life. I would be lying if I said a part of me was not upset by this, thinking he just didn't care about what happened to me after he died. There was probably another reason he wasn't asking but…I failed to see it.

"I asked him to take you to Konoha," he whispered, gazing at his bento.

"He did. He stayed in the village." He smiled a little at this.

I wouldn't mention the prison sentence Sasuke had seen cut short if he brought me back, curtesy of Kakashi the Sixth.

"That's right, didn't you graduate in a year before?" He nodded. "And this time?"

"I don't know. I know what got me on their radar, I can avoid it." He sighed a little. "I want to be more present for Sasuke." I smiled.

"What keeps you from doing it then?"

"Knowing."

I knew all about the Uchiha Massacre. I wouldn't approach the subject though; I'd let Itachi talk about it if he wanted to. Only if I were to see it was getting out of hands, or if he was close to…doing the same things would I step up.

He had been in the shadow, not asking for anything against what he was doing, for his whole life before. He deserved to stay in the light this time around.

As we were eating dinner, I put down my knife and fork and looked at Minato-san. He noticed me immediately.

"How do we graduate from the Academy?"

"Well, you have a written exam and a practical exam, as well as an on-going evaluation during your last year."

"What's the practical exam?"

"The Clone Jutsu and the Transformation Jutsu." We stared at each other for a few seconds. "That's all."

"You send genins on the field just by making sure they can transform and make a clone with no substance?" I summed, not hiding my disdain.

"D-rank missions are within the village and the jounin-sensei take care of training them in fighting. They test them to see if they are really ready to be genin as well."

"It's light. We're kinda still at war with Kumo too." Kushina-san seemed to agree with me as she was feeding Naru mashed vegetables. "I can do it, but don't they learn how to walk on trees at least?" He sighed.

"Akane, it's not…"

"Is it war protocol? It sounds like it, the Academy teaches the bare minimum of shinobi skills before sending them on the battlefield." He put his cutlery down stiffly.

"She's not wrong Minato," Kushina-san pointed out. "Akane has the same graduation conditions we had, and that Jiraya-san had as well apparently. Maybe it is time for an update."

"Do you think I don't know that? There are some many things in Konoha that need…" he trailed off, taking a deep breath. "Akane, if you think the Academy program is so bad, what would you do about it?"

"The theorical curriculum seems fine, it covers a lot. You need to put it to the test before graduation, someone who's good on paper can be everyone's loss on the field. Have more simulation situations in the last year, or last two. Put at least one offensive ninjutsu and how to break out of a genjutsu as part of the final test. Have chakra nature tested, tree walking, there are a lot of things that you could put in place. Tell them there are options regarding about what kind of shinobi and kunoichi they want to be, like medic-nin, fuinjutsu users, Intelligence and…the sensei is a team leader and teacher, sure, but not a counsellor." He just stared at me, dumbfounded. "What?"

"I didn't think you would say so much." I shrugged.

Kiri's graduation was…no longer the one Zabuza-san had had. There was a survival test in the swamps, after which you'd fight a chuunin for ten minutes when they had the intention to kill, experiencing killing intent, and the final part of your graduation was your first kill.

With the amount of missing-nin, Yagura had found a use for them. If you froze or couldn't kill them, you were not a shinobi.

It was way too harsh, but Konoha was way too simple. You could meet at the middle; it was just a matter of how and if you wanted it.

"Are you hiring?" I joked, smirking. He chuckled.

"I haven't legalized child labor yet." He went back to being serious. "However, you are bringing up good points." I nodded and went back to my steak as the two adults in the room exchanged a heavy glance. "Akane."

"Hum?"

"Are you being average at school on purpose?" I stopped my fork and looked up at the Hokage. He had a serious look in his eyes now. I closed my mouth.

"Except for shurikenjutsu, yes." Kushina-san sighed. "If I'm average, the mummy won't be interested in me, right? That's what you said last time."

"The mummy?"

"Shimura Danzou-sama," Minato-san told her. "Akane, does it bother you?"

"Not really no, I'm fine in school. I don't want to miss too much of Naru's life." I narrowed my eyes at Kushina-san. "But I want to be a genin too and she knows why." She found something very interesting with her son the second Minato-san's blue eyes found hers.

"Okay then. Look, if you are okay with being average in school, then I will gladly let you graduate at a normal pace. However, if you suddenly become sick of the Academy and decide to stop hiding, which results in you graduating…then I would have to make some adjustments." I tilted my head on the side. "I think it would be better if Kushina and I adopted you when you become a genin." I widened my eyes, dropping my fork.

What the actual f*ck was he saying?

"Akane?" she called me, worried.

"No."

"Lis…"

"You're not my parents, you won't replace them!" I suddenly yelled, making Naru cry. His mother immediately picked him up to calm him down, but I didn't care. I put my hands flat on the table and stood up, my chair creaking against the wooden floor. "I am grateful for you for taking me in, but I am not your daughter, so no, you will not adopt me, even if it make things difficult at some point."

I went to my room and closed the door loudly.

They were not my parents! My mom was dead, my dad was as good as dead, my older brother was dead! They would not replace my family just like that!

The Shinigami Side Effect: Konoha's Second Chance - Feather85 (2024)

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