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01 December 2005 @ 12:00 am
[Fic] "The Guardian in Spite of Herself" chapter 1 -- Naruto  
Well, here we are. It's December, and it's sequel time. Without further ado, "The Guardian in Spite of Herself," Chapter the First.

This is the sequel to "The Way of the Apartment Manager," which can be found in clean draft here on ff.net, or in rough draft with comments here on my livejournal. It also has fanart, which can be found here.

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The Guardian in Spite of Herself: Chapter 1
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The Uchiha clan didn't impinge much on Ayakawa Yukiko's life.

She was aware that Naruto had an Uchiha in his academy class -- the kid liked to complain about jerks who thought they were the greatest thing ever -- but beyond reminding Naruto that even geniuses with powerful bloodline limits could be defeated, she didn't pay much attention. Her friend Naga dropped by now and then to gripe about Uchiha Tsukime, the chuunin who had become her default mission partner, but the two girls were slowly learning to get along and Naga didn't care about Tsukime's family anyway. Yukiko herself only called on the Uchiha if there was a problem in her neighborhood or building that she couldn't sort out herself. They came, asked a few questions, wrote up a bill, and quietly removed the disturbance.

Then Uchiha Itachi removed his clan.

In one night, a boy not yet fifteen years old murdered over a hundred people, including his own parents. A few scattered clan members were away from Konoha on missions, but when Intelligence sent messenger birds to notify them, no replies came back. Itachi had been an Anbu captain. He had access to classified assignments. Nobody knew how he had done it, but clearly he had taken care of everyone.

Oddly enough, though, Itachi left one survivor -- his own brother, Sasuke.

Sasuke, who'd seen his parents murdered in front of him. Sasuke, who had nowhere to live but the very house in which his family had died. Sasuke, who just happened to be Naruto's age and in the same class at the academy...

Sarutobi Hokage-sama paused in his explanation of events. "You seem upset with me."

"I'm upset about what you're leading up to," Yukiko said, folding her arms. "Just because Naruto and I get along doesn't mean I'm going to start taking in orphans right and left. I do run a business, you know, and I'm away on missions at least every other month."

Sarutobi-sama steepled his fingers and frowned across his desk at Yukiko. "Yukiko-san, I think you misunderstand me. Many families would be happy to take Sasuke into their homes; however, I doubt he wishes to be reminded of his own family. It would be much easier to talk him into renting an apartment, which he won't have to share with others.

"But -- and this is very important, Yukiko-san -- he should not be left completely on his own, no matter how much he might like to be. Even if you don't take an active role in his life, I'm sure Naruto will."

Yukiko pictured that: a traumatized, unstable, prickly boy... and Naruto. Who had a good heart and usually meant well, but who, despite her best efforts, still hadn't learned more than the most rudimentary social skills. Who had no sympathy for people who moped or brooded, since he dealt just fine with his own problems. And who, assuming Sasuke was the boy in his academy class, already disliked his potential neighbor.

She winced. "I really don't think this is a good idea, Sarutobi-sama."

"Nonsense," he said, looking away and lighting his pipe. "They're good children and you won't even need to be directly involved once you turn over his keys. What could possibly go wrong?"

Yukiko bit her tongue, counted to twenty, and carefully didn't accuse the Third Hokage of insanity. "Right. Send him around tomorrow morning and I'll let him choose an apartment."

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Sasuke glared at the off-white walls as the woman talked about the apartment. It was the third one she'd shown him, each one higher in the building than the last one, and he could tell she didn't want to be here either. He almost liked that. It was a lot better than crying over him, hugging him, and calling him 'you poor dear' the way the fake mother did. But he still didn't like her.

He didn't need an apartment. He already had a house.

The medic-nin said it would remind him too much of his parents and Itachi.

Of course it would remind him. Why else did they think he wanted to stay there?

The woman sighed and thumped her hand against the doorframe, calling his attention back to the room. "Okay, so you don't like this one either. I have one apartment left -- you either take it or I tell Sarutobi Hokage-sama that you'd rather stay with your temporary foster family."

"I don't need an apartment and I don't need a foster family," Sasuke told her. "I already have a home."

"Actually," the woman said, "you don't. Hokage's orders -- you're not allowed to live completely on your own. Either you live here and I check up on you once a week, or you go to the foster home."

Sasuke glared at her.

The woman sighed again and ran her hands through her blue-green hair. "Why do I get all the problem kids?"

Sasuke scowled. He wasn't a problem. If people left him alone, he'd be fine. He'd get strong and kill Itachi -- he'd rip that man to pieces, just like he deserved. All this fussing was just getting in his way.

But... if he had to have someone watch him, better this woman than the foster family. He couldn't stand the way the fake mother cooed at him or the way the little kids followed him around all the time. They didn't understand about being shinobi. They tried to stop him from training and getting strong. If he said yes now and pretended he was happy, maybe he could go home in a few months. Until then, at least he'd have his own room so he could study and train.

"Fine," Sasuke said. "I'll take the last apartment."

"Without even looking at it?"

"Yes."

The woman looked like she wanted to say something important, but then she shook her head, the way Father used to do when he thought Sasuke needed to learn something. Sasuke dug his nails into his palms and scratched the scabs open again. "The apartment's on the top floor in the back, number 7-K," the woman said. "Let's go to my office -- I'll give you the keys and we'll talk payment. Who's handling your accounts?"

Sasuke shrugged. He hadn't asked. It wouldn't matter if he could stay home -- he could charge food, clothes, and weapons to the clan account -- but he didn't know if that worked for apartments. No Uchiha had lived outside the clan district for ages.

The woman raked her hands through her hair again and muttered something Sasuke couldn't quite hear. "Okay then. Do you know what bank your family used?"

That he knew; he'd followed Itachi once to see what his brother did with his paychecks. "Falling Leaf Savings and Loan."

"Good. We'll head there now and figure out the status of your clan accounts and who has signatory access. Don't scowl at me," she added, rolling her eyes at Sasuke. "The sooner we get this straightened out, the sooner I'll leave you alone."

Sasuke shrugged again and followed her downstairs.

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The Uchiha clan wasn't as wealthy as Yukiko had expected -- they seemed to have invested most of their earnings back into the police organization and into expanding their real estate until they'd owned almost the entire district in which they'd lived. Since Sasuke had no claim to the police -- it was a government agency of sorts and there had been a few non-Uchiha members to inherit that mess -- and since nobody would want to move into a district so recently defiled, he was left with a clan account, dozens of minor individual accounts, some oddly assorted investments, and land that would be nothing but a massive tax drain. Furthermore, all the Uchiha had named other clan members as executors of their wills. There was literally nobody who had any legal responsibility for the money... except Sasuke, who obviously had no idea how to manage any of it.

Setting that mess into some kind of order required someone to claim cosignatory authority until he turned sixteen or became a genin, whichever came first. "Do you have anyone in mind?" Yukiko asked the boy.

He shrugged minimally and went back to glaring out the bank's window at the busy midday streets. He was trying for an intimidating expression, Yukiko thought, but his inherent cuteness got in the way and made him look lost and upset instead. He was a lot skinnier than Naruto; his loose shorts and his wide-sleeved, high-collared clan shirt made his arms and legs look like pale twigs. His black hair was a ragged mess, sticking up in the back and pulled into his eyes by its own weight in front. It was oddly endearing, and made Yukiko want to whip out a pair of scissors and a comb and straighten him up.

She sighed. She'd spent a lot of time wishing Naruto talked less, but right now she'd give anything to be dealing with the kid instead of this boy. Getting answers out of Sasuke was like pulling kunai out of stone jutsu traps.

"Fine. Give me cosignatory authority and I'll organize this so you're earning money instead of losing it. We can set it up so you draw a monthly allowance, and if you ever need more cash, just bring me the forms."

The boy jerked his head around and scowled. "It's my money."

"Yes, I know," Yukiko said, drawing on her rapidly diminishing store of patience. "This will be a legal fiction -- I don't care what you spend or what you buy, once I straighten up the accounts and teach you how to handle them -- but we'll pretend so the bank will be happy."

"Fine."

She signed in the spaces the bank representative had marked, slid the papers to Sasuke for his confirmatory signature, and carried the papers across the room to a clerk. Once she had the complete reports on all the current Uchiha holdings and accounts, as well as a booklet explaining the bank's hours and regulations, she left as quickly as possible. The sullen boy trailed behind her, trying to look like he wasn't following -- oh no, he just happened to be walking in the same direction she was.

Yukiko wondered if arrogance was bred into the Uchiha the same way the Sharingan was. It might explain a lot.

On the other hand, she decided half an hour later, the foster family's attitude might well put anyone into a bad mood. The woman -- the same Tani Midori who'd driven Naruto out of her home nearly two years ago -- fawned over Sasuke as if he were a combination of a long-lost prince come to grace her home, and a delicate, injured bird. Yukiko had taken less than two minutes to figure out that the boy hated being touched; Midori constantly hugged him and rested her hand on his shoulder.

Yukiko revised her opinion of Sasuke upward when he didn't snap and scream at the woman. She collected his small suitcase of clothes and necessities, handed it to him -- she was fairly sure he'd accuse her of insulting him if she carried it herself -- and hustled him away from the tooth-rotting woman and her collection of hero-worshiping children.

"Was Midori like that the whole time?" Yukiko asked.

"Yes." Sasuke switched his grip on the suitcase so he held it with both hands; he leaned to the left to compensate for its weight. His scowl shifted into a more neutral expression of determination.

Yukiko patted herself on the back for letting him carry the luggage himself. This boy was nothing like Naruto -- well, okay, the kid was touchy and proud in his own way -- but she thought she was learning the pattern for dealing with him. This might actually work out without any bloodshed.

Then she remembered that Naruto still didn't know that Sasuke now lived across the hall from him.

Oh, shit.

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The border between Fire Country and Grass Country wasn't the world's most comfortable place in midsummer -- way too much sun, too many bugs trying to suck your blood, and you could hardly see past your hands in the swaying, six-foot-high tassel grass -- but Tonoike Naga liked it anyway. She flopped down on her back beside the muddy stream, spread her arms wide, and looked at the evening sky. If she lay perfectly still and focused just so, she could trick herself into feeling like she was falling upward into that infinite twilight blue...

"Stop doing that and pay attention, snake-slut," Tsukime hissed. "You're supposed to be on watch."

"Bite me, airhead." Naga gave up on her meditation and flicked her fingers in Tsukime's general direction. "We're in the middle of nowhere, we didn't tell anyone where we were going, nobody's going to find us, and it's a beautiful day. Get over yourself and relax."

"If you hadn't read my message--"

"But I did," Naga said, "and here I am. I don't care what top-secret Uchiha clan business is going on -- we're partners. Can't get rid of me that easily." She grinned at Tsukime.

Tsukime heaved a long-suffering sigh and pushed through the tawny tassel grass to the narrow strip of lush green that hugged the stream bank. She sat delicately beside Naga, arranging her ridiculous pleated skirt to cover her thighs. Then she unzipped the red legwarmers she always tied onto her sandals, kicked off the shoes, and wriggled her toes in the dirt. "You're right. It's a beautiful day. And it's less boring to wait with you than by myself."

"Exactly," Naga said. They would have left Hidden Grass within a day or two anyway, she reminded herself, so she couldn't say that Tsukime's mysterious clan message had stolen that much of her visit with Kafunnokaze. It wasn't fair to take out her irritation on her partner. She just hated waiting. She especially hated waiting when she didn't know what she was waiting for. "It's been five days -- when will your freaky-eye people come and explain things?"

Tsukime sighed again and shook her head in mock sorrow; her long, golden hair swayed back and forth like the grass. "They'll come when they come. The code was serious trouble, so I doubt we're the only ones waiting for contact, and unless you screwed up big time, our camp shouldn't be obvious."

"Unless I screwed up?" Naga propped herself up on her elbows and twisted her neck to stare at Tsukime. "You're the one holding the fuck-off genjutsu."

"Fuck-off? That's an interesting description," a strange voice said.

The girls scrambled to their feet and stared. A short, wiry boy -- Naga pegged him as maybe eleven, and then revised that upward when she met his eyes -- stood calmly across the shallow stream. Uchiha, no question about that, not with his dull, raven-black eyes, his sharp-boned face, and that weird sense of "I'm better than you and we both know it" that all people in that clan seemed to give off. He was wearing black, and had no clan crest or forehead protector visible.

"Itachi-san!" Tsukime smiled and sat down again, hurrying to put her sandals and legwarmers back on. "So, what's up in Konoha? It must be pretty serious for you to get sent after me!" Naga agreed -- Uchiha Itachi was the clan heir, as well as an Anbu captain (well, she thought he was a captain -- it was hard to pry Anbu details out of her father), so for him to be sent after a relative as minor as Tsukime... Naga fought to keep her face blank and her body still. Something about this was fishy.

"The message was for clan eyes only," Itachi said. "Why is your partner here?"

"I read the message, and I don't let teammates do stupid things alone," Naga said before Tsukime could answer. Tsukime kicked her ankle. Naga ignored her; she was watching Itachi. It wasn't obvious, but his mouth was tight and his posture deliberately loose, the kind of stance that said he was expecting a fight. And he hadn't answered Tsukime's question. She glanced at his eyes again, trying to read his intentions.

"Wasteful," Itachi said, and his eyes changed.

Naga had half a second to wonder what the fuck he was doing with blades in his eyes instead of the typical Sharingan commas, before her world crashed into darkness.

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End of Chapter One

Continue to chapter 2

Read the clean version here on ff.net

Note: I actually began writing "The Guardian in Spite of Herself" long before I finished "The Way of the Apartment Manager," mostly because askerian dumped a plotbunny into my lap and I was bored out of my mind during training sessions at a temp job. During breaks, I wrote three snippets which eventually wound up as the first 2/3 of chapter 1... with significant alterations, of course. Those interested can find those snippets here: snippet 1, snippet 2, and snippet 3.

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It's my first cliffhanger. Did it work?
 
 
Current Mood: artisticartistic
 
 
 
valles_uf: Pleased to meet youvalles_uf on December 1st, 2005 05:59 am (UTC)
YAYYAYYAYYAY! GUARDIAN! w00t! *dances madly*

So, did the POVs work? I think I have Sasuke's narrative 'voice' differentiated enough, and of course I have Yukiko down cold, but I'm not completely sure about Naga's 'voice.'

Hmm. I think maybe that she was missing... a certain sense of whimsy? And without it she just sounds like Anko Jr.

And yes, you've reconfirmed my long-standing desire to see Skunk-ass maimed, humiliated, and then wiped from the face of existence, so I'd say that that scene worked quite well.

OTOH, I continue to have a very low opinion of his creative thinking ability - there are a hell of a lot worse things in the world than being stabbed, ne? Even if you limit yourself to impersonal tortures...

Ja,-n
Elizabeth Culmer, only a *little* bit crazy...edenfalling on December 1st, 2005 06:03 am (UTC)
*makes note* Don't forget Naga's sense of humor. Okay!

OTOH, I continue to have a very low opinion of his creative thinking ability - there are a hell of a lot worse things in the world than being stabbed, ne? Even if you limit yourself to impersonal tortures...

Am slightly confused. Does this mean you think he stabbed her? I was just trying to describe the shape of Mangekyou Sharingan -- it looks like a wheel of blades to me, or maybe a shuriken, rather than the standard 'commas on a string' appearance of the normal Sharingan.
shikome kido mi: anathemashikomekidomi on December 1st, 2005 09:00 am (UTC)
Hrm, I just can't seem to mind my own business.
I think she's actually referencing the Kakashi tortures, wherein Itachi had the potential to do anything (or claimed he did) and just settled for lots of stabbing.
On the other hand, it's probably a nice simple way to have someone's mind telling their body they should be dead and a pain most ninja are already intimately familiar with. It's probably hard to make people feel things you don't have a baseline reference for.
Elizabeth Culmer, only a *little* bit crazy...: red floweredenfalling on December 1st, 2005 10:15 am (UTC)
Yeah, simple... and effective -- especially with the psychosomatic effect that seems to kick in afterward and leave the victims trying to use bodies that their unconscious minds insist have been hacked to shreds. And I doubt it takes up much of his attention, whereas something more complicated might.

P.S. valles_uf is a guy.
valles_ufvalles_uf on December 1st, 2005 04:24 pm (UTC)
Yeah, simple... and effective -- especially with the psychosomatic effect that seems to kick in afterward and leave the victims trying to use bodies that their unconscious minds insist have been hacked to shreds. And I doubt it takes up much of his attention, whereas something more complicated might.

Mmm. Depends if Itachi spends the same amount of time 'inside' as his victim does - which, y'know, I think he does.

Mind, I'm not saying that his version doesn't work, neccessarily, just that, well, doing it that way is a lot less potent than what, say, Ibiki could manage with the same power.

I mean, seriously. He has all the tools he needs to rip open someone's soul and turn them into an all-too-fucking-clever meat puppet, a tool that he can own that's still just as smart and powerful as ever, and what does he do? Uses it as a blunt instrument.

*shakes head* No, he's not near as smart as most people seem to think.

*blinks* And until just this moment, I hadn't realized that Hell!Sakura would sure as hell think of that application. Eek... does simplify a few things, though... *zones out*

Anyway, when you add that into my theory that most of his seemingly overpowering strength actually is a result of his boosting his own abilities through self-hypnosis, Itachi really becomes a lot less overpowering.

Ja, -n
shikome kido mishikomekidomi on December 1st, 2005 10:43 pm (UTC)
Well, he's not given to subtlety, at least, which really seems to run in the family. I'm not sure that most of his abilities come from self hypnosis, as besides his sharingan, they seem primarily to consist of speed and accuracy (which are both traits not only assisted by the sharingan but bred for by the Uchiha) and some cool techniques he probably stole using said sharingan. Except maybe his amaretsu fire technique, which may be either a secret Uchiha jutsu or one of his own invention, since Jiraiya hadn't seen it, but then the Uchiha always were fond of fire. Essentially, he really is the culmination of his bloodline.
Although, if he is using self-hypnosis, it doesn't make the results any less impressive as long as it works.
My apologies for operating under the assumption that you were female on a previous post. It simply seemed slightly more probably based on my own surveys of ff.net.
valles_ufvalles_uf on December 1st, 2005 11:23 pm (UTC)
Although, if he is using self-hypnosis, it doesn't make the results any less impressive as long as it works.

Until you break the hypnosis, after which point he's right back to being a high Chunin with delusions of grandeur.

Anyway, the primary reason I favor this theory is that it neatly explains how he managed to go from strong-but-not-freakish to powerful-enough-to-wipe-out-an-entire-clan-of-ninja-without-getting-caught in the space a few days - he learned how to induce not only his muscles but also his nervous and chakra systems into operating at the 'maximum military power' level we call hysterical strength.

You're right about the charicaristic Uchiha restraint, though. ^_^

My apologies for operating under the assumption that you were female on a previous post. It simply seemed slightly more probably based on my own surveys of ff.net.

*waves it off* De nada. It's perfectly understandable, and even when it's not (ie, when it happens in person) I've always been amused by the phenomenon.

Ja, -n
Elizabeth Culmer, only a *little* bit crazy...edenfalling on December 2nd, 2005 12:51 am (UTC)
I don't know if he's interested in 'owning' tools. (That, come to think of it, sounds like it might be encroaching on Sasori's territory -- do they have rules about that sort of thing in Akatsuki?) I don't know if he'd see it as worthwhile -- Itachi strikes me as the type of person used to working alone, despite his involvement with Akatsuki. He's the sort of person who would want to do something himself to make sure it's done right, rather than entrust it to someone else, even if delegating would save time and effort and possibly be more effective. (This is a weakness. But perfectionism would go along with his god-complex and theatricality, I think.)

The self-hypnosis is an interesting idea, but I don't really buy it. I am more inclined to think that Mangekyou really is a 'boost' of sorts, and that Itachi was probably not interested in showing all his skills when he was still living with his clan in Konoha. If Kakashi could become a jounin at 11? 12?, then I am perfectly willing to believe that Itachi could have become a jounin at 13-ish, and simply didn't bother (or actively chose to conceal his ability). Besides, Itachi doesn't strike me as the sort of person who really believes shinobi ranks -- it's a system, and he sees no reason to belong to it or to give away the advantage of being underestimated... until, for whatever reason, he snaps.

As always, YMMV. And since we don't have enough information to prove anything one way or the other, I will be happy to accept your theory while reading your stories.
valles_ufvalles_uf on December 2nd, 2005 02:17 am (UTC)
Your points about his disinterest in rank and/or ownership are well taken (although, for the latter, I'll note that the kind of mental dominance I was talking about would be something that I'd call a perfect example of the 'I am your God' schtick), but even if there were only, say, twenty-something other Uchiha who were active as ninja at the time (likely high, given the best estimates I've seen of Konoha's total strength), then, given their bloodline, at least two or three are going to be Jounin-ranked - it'd certainly take something special to plow through three Hiashis, even taking them by surprise and one at a time.

I have a hard time buying the 'hidden strength' idea for two, three reasons - first, we see in his interactions with Chibi!Sasuke that his histronic streak manifested at the time as, well, showing off. Not to mention the question of how this barely-pubescent kid, however talented, is successfully hiding his abilities and intentions from a whole retinue of adults who are not only many times more experienced at reading than he is at concealing, but who also have the Sharingan - a bloodline entirely based around finely detailed perception.

Either of which alone or especially in combination lead to my third point - given the evident ambitions of his father, does it really seem likely that the old man would let his prized showpiece of an heir get away with that kind of 'selfish slacking off?'

I don't believe the Mangekyou-as-physical/chakra-boost theory because it requires a completely seperate dimension from the Sharingan, which was initally established as posessing perceptive and hypnotic aspects. Self-hypnosis gets the same net effect - turning a strong shinobi into the ridiculously overpowered monster we see in canon - without requiring anything from the Mangekyou that, really, the basic Sharingan couldn't do on its own.

As to Akatsuki's internal dynamics... Hm. What strikes me about the way the two teams we've seen so far interact is how professional they are - they have clear-cut working relationships, they know at least their partner's reactions and interests well, almost intimately (although that doesn't really have the proper connotations...), they cover each other when they're weak - view the way Kisame pulls Itachi's ass out of the fire at least twice, once after he hits Kakashi and a second time when they're against Jiraiya - they trust each other, are perhaps even friends (Deidara and Sasori's obviously long-standing argument about the nature of art as a case in point)...

From what we've seen during Gaara's capture, it obviously takes a great deal of time and effort to pull a Bijuu out of their Jinchuuriki, which likely leaves the person doing so very vulnerable indeed. Working off of that, there's an obvious benefit to having a partner - or better yet, several partners - there to cover you and watch your back. (indeed, that assumes that the ceremony only needs one person in the first place, which might well not be the case)... Since there are nine Bijuu, each individual member's interest in posessing one need not neccessarily be a threat to the others.

Whether nin, gen, or fuuinjutsu can be used to create a binding geas or not, they'd still likely trust each other at the start because each of them knew that they were of more use and not overly more of a risk alive than they would be dead, and also knew that the others were smart enough to realize it...

Oh! And going off on my own tangent, Itachi is weaker than Jiraiya - he pretty much said so himself, IIRC. Jiraiya, as one of the Sannin, is almost certainly pretty damn close to being Orochimaru's equal. Therefore, Orochimaru is stronger than Itachi.

So where on earth did this theory of O. leaving Akatsuki because he was scared of I. come from?

Ja, -n
(thinks Itachi needs to lay off the heroin)
Elizabeth Culmer, only a *little* bit crazy...: red floweredenfalling on December 2nd, 2005 02:33 am (UTC)
It'd certainly take something special to plow through three Hiashis, even taking them by surprise and one at a time.

If it comes to that, I believe it is canonical that the ordinary Sharingan cannot break Mangekyou illusions -- neither Kakashi nor Sasuke could break out of the Tsukiyomi technique. The Uchiha are arrogant in their ability to withstand genjutsu. I think it quite likely that Itachi could have used this to get the jump on his more talented relatives.

Itachi showed off to Sasuke. Other than that, his showmanship seems to have manifested in non-combat settings, like arguments with his father. Even that confrontation with the police after Shisui's murder wasn't really a demonstration of amazing skills -- just good theater. And you could write a lot of that off as typical adolescent posturing... if you didn't know what happened next. And if his father knew Itachi was slacking a bit, that might have contributed to their arguments during that last year, and to his slightly increased attention to Sasuke -- you know, "The heir is acting unsuitable, perhaps I should pay attention to the spare," that sort of thing.

I didn't mean that Mangekyou is a chakra boost. I meant it's a skill boost. Sorry, I should have been more clear. Itachi is not overpowered, really, he just has more than his fair share of trump card techniques, plus a reputation that he makes some use of.

Did Itachi say that he was weaker than Jiraiya, or that Jiraiya would defeat him at that time, or what? Because physically, he's weaker, no question -- Jiraiya's a big man and Itachi is very much not. In a straight confrontation, I'm pretty sure Jiraiya would have an advantage, so long as he avoided Itachi's genjutsu. But. Shinobi are not necessarily interested in straight confrontations. So it seems quite possible, to me, that Itachi could kill Jiraiya and Orochimaru if the conditions were right.

I don't think Orochimaru left Akatsuki because he was afraid of Itachi. I think he left because his goals diverged from theirs -- he wants knowledge rather than straight-up power. I strongly suspect that the two men do not like each other at all, though. Their personalities seem like they would clash, and I really doubt that Itachi likes Orochimaru's interest in Sasuke (and Sasuke's consequent abandonment of the path Itachi laid out for him).

And when it comes down to it, I am going with what I think Kishimoto's intentions are... and I think that he wants Itachi to really be as strong a ninja as he seems to be. Yes, it makes the backstory kind of kludgy, but consistency is not Kishimoto's strong point. *shrug*
shikome kido mishikomekidomi on December 2nd, 2005 02:46 am (UTC)
Ah, Orochimaru leaving Akatsuki... I have a simple theory about that.
Demons are bound to a specific body, it seems. Orochimaru found what he believed to be ascenscion through a body swapping process that already has it limits. Dragging a demon along is probably impossible. Instead he'd have to transfer it seperately. Then things get tricky. If he moved it first, he'd be loaning strength to fight him to his target. If he tried to move it after, the demon would be alone in a body for a while. Plus, as you've noted demon transferance seems long and wearing and may take multiple people. On the other hand, techinques copied with the sharingan shouldn't be forgotten if one loses the bloodline.
Add in some personality conflicts and there really is no reason for him to stay.
As for relative strength levels, I think Itachi said that he could lose to Jiraiya and that he shouldn't keep fighting after using both his trump cards--one of which was pointlessly wasted on Sasuke, so it remains to be seen how he'd fare against Jiraiya if things ever came down to a relatively straight forward one on one fight (which I doubt it ever will). As for Orochimaru... he's strong, probably stronger than Itachi in some ways, but if he doesn't know the fighting-looking-at-their-feet technique he might have lost in an early confrontation. Of course, now that he knows how the Sharingan works, history needn't repeat itself.
(no subject) - edenfalling on December 2nd, 2005 03:08 am (UTC) (Expand)
valles_ufvalles_uf on December 2nd, 2005 03:10 am (UTC)
I didn't mean that Mangekyou is a chakra boost. I meant it's a skill boost. Sorry, I should have been more clear. Itachi is not overpowered, really, he just has more than his fair share of trump card techniques, plus a reputation that he makes some use of.

Hmmm. I can see that, yeah... it's just that, working with that distinction first requires me to disassociate him from, well, pretty much everything that I remember being said about him in canon - genius Uchiha, overpowering chakra, etc... really, he's a Mary Sue, only a villain.

Did Itachi say that he was weaker than Jiraiya, or that Jiraiya would defeat him at that time, or what? Because physically, he's weaker, no question -- Jiraiya's a big man and Itachi is very much not. In a straight confrontation, I'm pretty sure Jiraiya would have an advantage, so long as he avoided Itachi's genjutsu. But. Shinobi are not necessarily interested in straight confrontations. So it seems quite possible, to me, that Itachi could kill Jiraiya and Orochimaru if the conditions were right.

It's been a while, but IIRC, it was Itachi telling Kisame something along the lines of 'He's too strong, we can't beat him here,' after which point they hauled ass.

That's particularly telling, I think, because however well or poorly suited Itachi's style may have been to those circumstances, Kisame's is just about opposite, just like almost everything else about the two of them. (And am I the only person amused by the fact that it's Fish-Lips who's the one with manners?)

They're saying that two powerful ninja who have complementary skills and years of experience working together can't beat Jiraiya even when he has two Genin underfoot.

Working from ambush or something, OTOH... yeah, I can see it happening with that kind of multiplier.

And when it comes down to it, I am going with what I think Kishimoto's intentions are... and I think that he wants Itachi to really be as strong a ninja as he seems to be. Yes, it makes the backstory kind of kludgy, but consistency is not Kishimoto's strong point. *shrug*

*sigh* True that. Ah, well. In the end I guess it depends on the plot - he's cast as the first major villain in TGNH (no, all the current sequence is about is introducing the readers to That Woman, so she'll be bowing out for a while), so I have to keep him within Sasuke's reach... although I'll admit that that's a task that fills me with a cruel and unholy glee. ^_^

And I can always comfort myself with noting how well Sasori did against Sakura, and thinking about how much are the Akatsuki's power levels likely to vary, anyway.

Ja, -n
(mmmmm... pretty splat mark...)
(no subject) - edenfalling on December 2nd, 2005 03:22 am (UTC) (Expand)
acechan on December 2nd, 2005 11:05 pm (UTC)
Um. In the series, Orochimaru says that Itachi is stronger than him, at least marginally--it's the reason he wants Sasuke, because the main difference between them is the Sharingan. Which is pretty beliveable, since Snake Breath's typical techniques seem to tend to surprise attacks and the like, so the ability to see them coming would be invaluable.

That being said, I don't think Orochimaru is scared of Itachi so much as annoyed by him, and his ability to do cool stuff Orochimaru can't.
acechan on December 2nd, 2005 11:15 pm (UTC)
*sigh* Posting again, because LJ ate it.

Actually, in the series (I forget exactly when, it's been a while since I rewatched) Orochimaru says that Itachi is stronger than him (at least marginally), and that the reason he wants Sasuke so badly is that the Sharingan is the main edge Itachi has on him. If you think about it, this makes sense, since Snake Breath's typical techniques seem to tend to surprise attacks and the like, so the ability to see things coming would be invaluable.

That being said, I don't think Orochimaru is scared of Itachi so much as irritated by his existance (and ability to do cool things that Orochimaru can't). And I've heard lots of theories as to why Orochimaru left Akatsuki, ranging from his being irritated by not being top dog there (quite possible, from my reading of Orochimaru's personality) to his having stolen one of the bijuu and ran (not as likely, I think, but there are a few comments in the series that he has a strange-feeling chakra).
valles_ufvalles_uf on December 3rd, 2005 04:32 am (UTC)
Actually, in the series (I forget exactly when, it's been a while since I rewatched) Orochimaru says that Itachi is stronger than him (at least marginally), and that the reason he wants Sasuke so badly is that the Sharingan is the main edge Itachi has on him. If you think about it, this makes sense, since Snake Breath's typical techniques seem to tend to surprise attacks and the like, so the ability to see things coming would be invaluable.

Eh? *blinkblink* Not doubting you, but when?

Anyway, my way of evaluating that statement on his part is to think that it's under the influence of Hebibaka's major blind spot about the role of ninjutsu in what makes a good shinobi... that is, I suspect that he thinks that the fact that Itachi's Sharingan lets him gather more different jutsu than he can himself must mean that Itachi is stronger - despite the fact that, given his advantages in tactical experience and raw power, he's likely quite capable of squashing Skunkboy like his namesake getting caught by a semi.

For somebody so smart, the belly-crawler can be really stupid.

Logic train for that - basic assumption is that the three Sannin are roughly equal, leading back to Itachi's evaluation of his chances against Jiraiya (snowball's in hell).

It's quite possible, BTW, that there was considerably more than a single factor at work in Cockaroachimaru's decision to part ways with the Nine Amigos.

And replying to our gracious host's post here for convenience...
The cut-and-run might also have been because, IIRC, Jiraiya had pulled out a freaky jutsu that kind of enclosed them within a space that he had complete control over. I seem to recall him being surprised that they were even able to get out. *tries to remember relevant chapter numbers* *fails* *bangs head on desk*

'Belly of a giant rock frog', or something like that. But, my memory is that Itachi said what he did before Ero-sennin busted out the acid bath... *cudgels brain cells*

Comedy team of Fishhead and Skunk shows up at Naruto's door... Jiraiya arrives and tells them off... Sasuke shows up right after... Kaleidoscope-brain fucks with his head, again... Belongs-In-Soup threatens Jiraiya with his giant popsicle stick... Not-Smart-Enough-To-Be-A-Mongoose says 'no, we should run away screaming like little girls'... they do, but Jiraiya feeds them to Mr. Froggy... only Pepe le'Pew reveals his sideline as a Pirate of Dark Water and gets away clean... Jiraiya gets some of the scary black gunk in a sample jar, then end scene.

I have no idea what the proper chapter numbers would be, but I think it might've been episode eighty or so... either right before or right after the first filler arc.

Meh. I'll check.

Ja, -n
(no subject) - edenfalling on December 3rd, 2005 01:33 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - edenfalling on December 3rd, 2005 01:50 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - valles_uf on December 3rd, 2005 05:03 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - edenfalling on December 3rd, 2005 07:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - valles_uf on December 3rd, 2005 08:38 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - edenfalling on December 3rd, 2005 10:25 pm (UTC) (Expand)