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Solving It Peacefully

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ooo-

"The Uchiha have to disappear, Itachi-kun. It's either that or a civil war." Danzo tells him calmly, "You, Itachi-kun, are the key to it."
"They really have to disappear? May I ask for a... condition before I make them... disappear?" Itachi asks, playing his 
I'm-Really-Just-A-Troubled-Killer-Kid act perfectly.
"Which condition would that be?"
"Sasuke, my brother. Can he... please... can he be spared?"
"If you're the one doing it, I will gladly let you spare him."
Itachi later on walks out of the Hokage tower with a very interesting plan forming inside of his genius mind. Oh yes, he will make them disappear.

ooo-

"Itachi, son. Please watch over Sas... what are you doing?"

"I'm writing a letter, mother." Itachi replies, writing, indeed, a letter with black ink and neat handwriting.

"To whom?" Fugaku asks coldly, "For the Hokage to read when you have killed us and he finds our bodies?"

Itachi looks up and tilts his head. "Why the hell should I kill you?" Irritation comes out of his mouth. He finishes a few last brushstrokes, reads through the paper's content and then nods in satisfaction.

"Why - ?! You want to stop the coup, don't you? Then you'll have to kill us first!"

"Father" the boy stretches the word aggravated, "If you hadn't noticed before: You're bound up. You literally cannot move a centimetre and you're the last ones I am visiting this night. That means I've been to the others' houses beforehand."

The clan's head draws in a sharp breath and whispers: "You've murdered them already?"

"Goddamn it, father. That's not what I said. I just stated that the others are in the exact same position as you. If I wanted to kill you, you'd be dead. Are you?"

Mikoto raises her eyebrows. "No. No, we're not." she says confused.

"Are you sure about that? I mean father seems a bit dead inside..." Itachi utters and snorts to his parents' astonishment.

Fugaku frowns. "What have you done to me? Why am I "dead inside"?"

Itachi blinks. "That was a joke. Oh, pardon me. We're Uchiha. Of course we don't know what a fucking joke is."

"Language, Itachi."

"A joke?! Obviously I know what a joke is but in this situation, I refuse to indulge in your comedic needs." the man huffs, as Uchiha usually tend to do.

"And I refuse to indulge in any protests that might come from you now that we're nearly ready to go." Itachi says in his monotone voice.

"What does that mea-"

Uchiha Fugaku and Mikoto suddenly go still and drop down on the floor with their eyes shut. Their eldest son stretches his muscles, puts the letter into a nice dark blue envelope and whistles for his friend to come. Not even five seconds later, an ANBU shunshins into the room with his silver hair lightly waving because of the movement.

"Do you really have to?"

Itachi nods slightly. "Yes" he says, "It's inevitable. Either the Uchiha start a coup or somebody tries to murder them for their eyes or due to their dangerous presence in the village. I must say... it's Danzo I have to thank for this idea. Not only does it solve all the problems we have but I can also expose him with the information I gathered on his wrongdoings."

"Well, I guess they were kind of right when they said you'd make a great Kage. Are you sure about that name, though?" the silver-haired teenager questions with a lazy sort of amusement.

"Oh, absolutely. Just imagine the high-ups calling me formally."

Kakashi chuckles because, yes, he loves Itachi's hidden humour which resurfaces every time he's not on duty (aka every time he's away from his clan).

"There you go. Sasuke's going to be here in an hour. Take care of him, yeah?"

"Maa, you know I'm shitty with children but I'll try my best not to accidentally kill him."

Considering for a second, Itachi decides to add: "Give him tomatoes from time to time and tell him he has to surpass me if he ever wants to visit."

"Will do. If you ever need more houses, just send Eiji a letter. See you!" Kakashi waves with the letter and documents in his hand. In the blink of an eye, he's gone.
Now Itachi has to carry all Uchiha to a location that's more than five days away. Damn it, he's such a perfectionist – he had to find a location where no other village resided and when he realized his pretty much only option was to make a whole island in the middle of the sea, he'd done so... officially he had a two week long vacation leave (it was really easy to orchestrate that with Danzo thinking he had to have time with his family before he slaughtered them) but unofficially, he had built an island with Tenzo, a couple of jonin doton users and some missing-nin Itachi had picked up on the way from Konoha to his new homeland.

However, this means that his village is located at the literal arse end of the world. Itachi sighs. Might as well go to work, then.
Hopefully, Shisui has filled out the necessary paperwork until he arrives. That's Itachi's revenge for the elder's near suicide. (It went like that: "I have to prevent Danzo from getting the other eye, so I'll give it to you, Itachi, and then I will have to leave you, sadly. Wait a minute." "What the fuck, no. Stop this bullshit." "But Itachi, I can't continue living here with the fear that Danzo will –" "Oh, that's perfect. I'm going in ten minutes. Pack your things. We're stopping a coup, getting Danzo behind bars and building a village." "What. Okay, sure." Afterwards, they had gone and when Itachi has come back, he had carried Shisui's hitai-ate and ANBU mask in his hand. "Killed" in action, he had gotten a place on the memorial stone.)

Itachi's collecting his new villagers in a giant wheelbarrow... and has to stop after number twenty-nine. Wow. He's been really optimistic about the logistics but apparently the Uchiha clan is made of a bunch of unbendable people.

"What the fuck." a man's voice rasps out from behind the thirteen year old. Itachi whirls around, activating his Sharingan. There's a dude, an Uchiha, who looks just like good old Madara underneath the mask he wears, apart from a missing eye and heavy scarring on one half of the face. On further inspection, the guy must be around the same age as Kakashi because he's carrying himself with that sort of weird teenager-y air. And he has no wrinkles. And he doesn't smell like old people. And he isn't dead.

"Who are you?" Itachi demands while trying to stuff another Uchiha onto the cargo area. How the hell should he load them without completely cutting off their breathing?

"I'm Uchiha Madara."

Itachi decisively snorts at that.

"What?! I am!" "Madara" calls out, sounding like a pouty teenager.

"Sure. Did you break out of T&I's cellar?"

"I'm not a loon!"

Itachi stares at him. Then he mutters: "Yeah, I believe that. Totally. You totally are Madara."

"I am!" the fake Madara cries.

"Alright. If you show me a part of your Susanoo, then I'll believe you." Itachi decides to humour him.

"Good! I'll do that!" A light blue Susanoo's ribcage appears, "There! Are you happy?"

Itachi raises his eyebrows. "You are an Uchiha who activated the Mangekyou. That means you had to see the Naka shrine's scroll at one point, or, you would have if you weren't a missing-nin. I'll recite a very interesting passage to you: Uchiha Madara's dark blue Susanoo was thoroughly believed to be strong enough to destroy whole villages."

The fake Madara "stealthily" glances at his Susanoo ribcage and then tries to flee by creating a wormhole, of all things. But because Itachi's a Kage, he has reasonably shopped before heading off to his country. Four chakra-intercepting seals are thrown into a quadratic shape before he can do anything at all.

"Madara" makes a pretty stupid face (that Itachi can only see because he has this weird side-effect to achieving his third tomoe – seeing under people's clothing isn't really something to be hyped up for, except when it comes to Kakashi's face)... wait a second... light blue Susanoo, a missing eye, half of a scarred face and a pretty stupid expression... "You're Uchiha Obito?!"

Obito freezes in his tracks. "Eh... no?"

"You are. First of all" Itachi kicks Obito into a very private area, making him fall down with tears in his eyes, "that's for being one half of the reason why Kakashi hates himself. Secondly, you will help me right now or else I'm going to bring you to the Hokage AND Kakashi."

"Help you with what?" Obito asks, cradling his balls gently.

"Bringing all those Uchiha here to my new country. You probably can't return to Konoha. Also, you look lost and lonely. Come to my village."

In the end, Obito had to agree if only because this thirteen year old genius child ("What the hell, I've trained with Madara, I should have been able to beat him!" the missing-nin thinks.) would have obliterated his existence.
And also, maybe Obito hasn't truly fought back... because... well, maybe Madara's escapist strategies aren't going to help with anything. ("For real, you want to flee from reality that badly? Are you that much of a pussy? I've seen much more shit than you, lost more than one long time friend who were all dear to me in battle and have parents who have been mentally abusing me for years. If you have problems, you have to find people whom you can put your trust in wholly and solve things in the least destructive way. Putting the whole world under a genjutsu would be the most destructive way." Itachi had said, sounding older than Madara and to be frank, wiser too.)

So Itachi and Obito are heaving Uchiha into Kamui's dimension. Afterwards, when they're done with the clansmen, they raid all the homes and shrines until they come up with thirty-two scrolls with everything that could be remotely useful ("Yes, Obito-kun, take that Icha Icha series with you. We have a library." "Why Obito-kun?!" "I'm your Kage and your previous actions have affected my use of suffixes greatly." "...Ouch").

Unloading takes equally as long but they're surprisingly efficient. If Itachi wasn't a Kage, he'd probably have opened a moving firm with Obito because they're done in less than one and a half hours.
Afterwards, when everybody is loaded to their new homes (he's not going to wake them up before he caught a good nap), Obito, Shisui and Itachi go back to the village's entrance. A black stone wall parts the island from the sea. The harbour is next to the main entrance. Luckily, with nobody knowing that they're here yet, Itachi can leave the gate supervised by just one chunin.

He looks up to the symbol of his village – a circle on the far left, then a filled in circle in the middle and a sideways Uchiha fan with its grip facing to the right side as though it's a stick.

"What is the name of it?" Obito asks intrigued by the emblem. Shisui laughs at the elder's expression when Itachi tells him in all seriousness: "Dangogakure and I'm its Dangokage."

Obito's not sure if he wants to ask why exactly they're the village hidden under dango.
Ramengakure would have been better in his humble opinion.

ooo-

The Uchiha clan gradually wakes up the next morning. Itachi has left them in a genjutsu to elaborate their current situation and to his utter astonishment, most of them don't mind it all that much. One of the only ones who had something against it was a genin, Uchiha Kaito, who wanted to stay with his team mates.
Itachi, being the nice Dangokage he is, had promised him to negotiate things with the Hokage. He has been waiting to get a letter from the man anyways now that Danzo's shit has been unfolded.

Even his parents are content. ("Well, being in a village where everyone distrusted us has put me a bit on the edge." So Fugaku's words. Obito has shifted uncomfortably.)

From the Dangokage's tower, he could view the Academy, a row of houses and the gate far off in the distance. Dangogakure's only mountain (that one doton user was adamant on having a mountain behind the Dangokage's tower and he chakra exhausted himself six days in a row while working on it) sported a monument similar to the one in Konoha. Where Senju Hashirama's face would have been if this were the Hokage monument, there's his face (with Sharingan activated of course) in solid black. He's vain when it comes to his village.

Apropos village... soon, he'll start recruiting other villagers. What, you thought this would be simply the Uchiha's hidden village? God, no. Itachi would go crazy without foreign faces. Also, the Uchiha are only eighty-seven people in total - including Sasuke who isn't here – and Dangogakure's space can fit up to three thousand people... and the village can be expanded because there's a huge forest right next to it. Even if that space is all filled up, Itachi could just go to his twenty-something jonin doton users (Tenzo's got connections, what the hell.) and demand for the whole fucking island to be broadened.

Itachi doesn't know what to think about these facts.

Well, he knows that he has to offer every living Uzumaki a place to stay. Uzumaki are incredibly talented at fuuinjutsu – just evaluating his village's safety wards if they had one mediocre Uzumaki makes him wet.
Then he has to write a letter to Kirigakure. If they don't want bloodlines... he's not going to say no to them.

In exchange, he will allow Kiri to hire his shinobi. While they don't like their own bloodlines, Uchiha are generally seen as above that. Of course, they will make a trade treaty too.
As with all other great shinobi villages... apart from Iwa. Iwa can go fuck itself. If you don't have many enemies, you're likely not going to fight a war. That's why he includes a paragraph in all contracts that states: "If two or more of Dangogakure's allies fight, Dangogakure will remain neutral and still support them with their goods but not with any manpower. Should shinobi from Dangogakure be forced to fight back, they will. Dangogakure can end its alliance with a country if it's forced to do so (attack on Dangogakure/murder of Dangogakure shinobi as a conscious decision of a village leader/village leader approved robbery an/or abuse of any dojutsu and/or bloodline)."

All in all, while Itachi's still new to this whole Kage business, he's quite pleased with his progress.

With the sun going down directly in front of him and the last rays hitting the black roofs of dark blue, blood red and white stone houses, he grins broadly from ear to ear for the first time in years.

ooo-

He has feared something would go terribly wrong. However, it's been four months and everybody is still alive, nobody's eyes are missing – not even Shisui's because the Hokage has kindly returned it two months ago – and Dangogakure has attracted various people who are now either civilians or shinobi of Dangogakure. They have managed to get enough kids for the first ever class of Dangogakure genin to be. The Academy's curriculum is inspired by Umino Iruka and Uchiha Misaki, a chunin and mother who wanted to teach ever since she was a child. Together, they have created a balance between civilian and shinobi classes. Civilian classes are mandatory and they are to be attended from ages four to seven. Afterwards, there's either the shinobi course or the civilian one. The first one's clear and the second one ensures that civilians can defend themselves, have vast knowledge about other things such as farming, marketing, cooking, weaving, architecture, inner architecture, forging, art, writing, music, technology and hunting and they can attend a samurai course if they want to wield a sword.

Of course, shinobi can attend any of those classes too. They just have to make time for them.

Shisui is the DANBU head with the codename An and a mandatory red-white-green mask with the agent's name on it. He'd been delighted at the cool tattoo the position got him (designed by art teacher Masamune).
Obito is his jonin commander who has twenty-seven jonin under his mercy. All nine of the Uchiha jonin were freaked out that he's alive (at Shisui's status too) but Obito's clearly skilled and if it weren't for the fact that Shisui demanded his post so much, he'd have been the DANBU head instead.

And a Kakashi-esque missing-nin chap from Kirigakure called Zabuza is his head of T&I. That recruitment has been weird but as soon as Haku wanted to move to Dango, the ex-missing-nin agreed.
Oh boy is he fine for that position.

Itachi stretches in his Dangokage chair, vaguely aware of the cloaked presence of his best friend's men, and signs the alliance form from Konohagakure. Soon, he can tell Uchiha Kaito to move his ass back to Konoha with his mandatory Dango hitai-ate and a second, Konoha, one. Konoha is the only hidden village that's allowed to use his shinobi to fight if the Dango shinobi are doing so willingly. They sort of conjoined now.

Everything's going well so far, thus: "Izaki-san, bring me my daily dango."

"Yes, Dangokage-sama!"

ooo-

Obito buys Kakashi the super deluxe limited edition Icha Icha collection when he decides to finally confront him... after five months of being a Dango shinobi.
He has expected Kakashi to coldly glare daggers at him for hours or to attack him relentlessly until one of them is half dead – violently rejected in either case.

What he doesn't expect from Kakashi is the shocked and vulnerable look in his eyes, one of them being Obito's, and the tears that don't seem to end. He hasn't seen the kiss coming either, nor the caresses, nor the following relationship afterwards.

"Madara-sensei, I'm sorry but I think you might have been wrong about the world's cruelty." he thinks when he realizes a month has gone by with him living in Konoha with Kakashi.

Wait a second.

"Fuck." is all he says before giving Kakashi as kiss, telling him he'd come back later and warps back to Dangogakure. He's a bit late – honestly not much – just by, maybe, three weeks.

"I... you know, there was this old lady and she was from Kirigakure but I found her in Konoha of all places and then I had to help her but she walked with a walking stick!" the jonin commander explains his tardiness to the Dangokage.

Itachi stares at him. "Obito-kun" Obito winces, "you want to tell me that you walked an old woman from Konoha to Kiri? You really want to tell me that?"

"..." the scarred man is quiet after that. He has enough scars as it is without annoying his village head.

ooo-

"...Uchiha Itachi, the first Dangokage, has not only revolutionized the school system but also, at the very young age of fifteen, reunited twelve of Uzushiogakure's surviving shinobi and with them, brought back the Uzumaki clan's old teachings. They are freely available for us here in Konohagakure."

Most children don't listen to the history lecture Iruka-sensei is holding but three children are really, really paying attention. The first one grinds his teeth at the mention of his brother who has left him with Kakashi. Okay, he likes the jonin and they've been good for each other but so what?! Who the hell decides to make their own village and leave their brother, their most precious person, behind? "Dango my ass, it's bullshit." Sasuke whispers to himself, "I'm going to surpass him! I will unite every shinobi village until there's no wars anymore... besides Iwa. Fuck Iwa!"

Apparently, he's yelled the last statement out loud. Iruka-sensei's throwing him confused looks... so are the other twenty children in the classroom. Sasuke's cheeks turn pink, making a couple of girls coo at him.

"Yes! Fuck Iwa!" a pink haired girl thinks just as vigorously. If Sasuke-kun doesn't like Iwagakure (for whatever reason), she hates it too.
Really, for generations to come, the girls who are crushing hard on Sasuke during their Academy days will remember hatred directed towards Iwa which originated from something they will have long since forgotten.

For that matter, Haruno Sakura listens to the story of Dangogakure interestedly. She has always asked where the Uchiha went to all of a sudden four years ago. Not even her mother knew and Mebuki normally knows everything.

To hear that Uchiha Itachi (Sasuke's brother) is a Kage... she has even more respect towards the Uchiha now.

But one thing bothers her. "Iruka-sensei?" she asks.

"Yes, Sakura-chan?"

"If every Kage represents a different kind of chakra, what does the Dangokage represent?"

Iruka looks like Christmas has come early. "Good question!" he says utterly pleased, "I've talked to Itachi-san before because exactly that interested me as well. The Dangokage represents onmyoton – yin and yang chakra which is balanced – this is why Dangogakure is black and white with red and blue which are not only considered colours preferred by the Uchiha but also opposites that harmonize in the village of Dango."

...The thing about blue and red isn't entirely true. Itachi just wanted to make the village look friendlier by giving it a bit of colour and ended up with those two colours because they're his and Shisui's favourites.

Sakura nods in amazement.

As mentioned, there are three avid listeners to that speech. Uzumaki Naruto has been trembling ever since his last name fell. "I-Iruka-sensei?! There are other Uzumaki around?" he asks more timid than usual after Sakura-chan's question has been answered.

"There are, Naruto-kun. They have reunited as a clan on Dango's grounds. As a born Uzumaki, you are permitted to leave the village and visit your relatives if you desire to do so. You only have to wait for a Dango shinobi to pick you up as minors aren't allowed to travel the five day long trip without supervisors."

The teme's brother is suddenly so much better than the Hokage. "Maybe... maybe I be Dangokage instead... even though I'd have preferred Ramenkage."

ooo-

Itachi's third trip to Konoha after he founded Dango is when his little brother's about to compete in the chunin exams.
The Hokage greets him and his two escorts, a DANBU Uchiha and the head medic-nin of his clinic/poison specialist Haku, warmly. Itachi also greets the other Kage who has decided to attend the event, the Kazekage Rasa. He instantly notices there's something wrong with him when he laughs at his shitty jokes.

Rasa is a man so stoic that Itachi oftentimes wonders whether he's secretly an Uchiha or if he's grown up with one... Hyuuga would be his second guess because they have sticks up their asses too.

He lets Hiruzen quietly know who passes the information onto his proctor Gekkou Hayate and a team of ANBU. They surround the area where the tests are held. To Itachi's amusement, the Rasa impersonator seems to be on the verge of crying.

Later on, he hears something about Orochimaru and him being the Otokage who also is a sannin and a man and a woman and half a snake and... whatever. The guy wanted to attack the village apparently and now he's sitting in T&I's cellar. (Maybe he'll break out of it one day, claiming to be Uchiha Madara just because he has long black hair. Somebody who names his hidden village "Hidden under sound" isn't really stable in Itachi's eyes.)

The event goes by uneventfully otherwise until Itachi has to stop Sasuke from using him as a punching bag when the third part of the exam begins.
"Hello, foolish little brother." Itachi says, poking an unimpressed Sasuke on the forehead.

"Aniki. What. The. Fuck."

"Language, Sasuke."

"Why did you leave me alone?!" Sasuke whispers nearly inaudible.

Itachi thinks it's time to explain some stuff: "Well, at first I wanted you to be happy. I didn't know whether the village I was building was going to be safe or not. That's why I asked Kakashi to look out for you. But then... as time grew... I was getting letters from Kakashi who told me that my idea with your drive being to see the rest of our clan was becoming true. I didn't want to immediately take that away from you. I know how the Uchiha are. They become a bit broken when you take away their life goal. I've seen it happen to Obito who's still recovering from the blow."

Sasuke's eyes are wide.

"To see you here, being nominated mere months after graduating and holding your ground... I'm so proud of you, Sasuke. Come here, otouto." There are hugs and tears and reunion things and then Sasuke has to fight some dude called Akadou Yoroi.

"Good luck, otouto!" Itachi calls from the Kage seats.

Sasuke gives him the middle finger. "I don't need luck!"

Itachi chuckles.

Afterwards, when they're alone in Itachi's rented hotel room, Sasuke admits: "I feel empty and restless and annoyed. Is that why you waited for me to grow up a bit before confronting me?"

"Yeah. At least you only had to impress me. Just imagine what Madara must have felt when he didn't become Hokage... twice in a row."

Sasuke shudders.

"So, aniki?" he asks after a couple of moments.

"Hn?"

"Can I... Can I visit mom and dad and your village in general?" the boy's tone is unsure and Itachi pats him on the head.

"Sure."

ooo-

Sasuke gazes at his parents. His mother is... nice...? Is it weird for Kakashi to be more motherly than Mikoto? And then there's his father. Fugaku looks like he's never smiled once in his life. His face's most prominent features are the corners of his mouth which droop so heavily downwards that he could probably make a perfect circle when scowling hard enough.

Obito is emotionally stunted, more so than Kakashi, but he's like a really weird father who's the "silly one" without actually being the silly one in the relationship.

He's been looking from his father to his mother and to Itachi who's calmly sipping tea and eating a batch of dango for the last half hour. Well, there's no (a little bit) silly parent here.

Sasuke would have preferred to spend the night at his da- ... Kakashi's house. They always cook together, tell each other stories from their day and they laugh. Because Naruto's relatives live in Dango and he visits them only every fortnight, he often comes by and then they sometimes talk about the Fourth Hokage and Uzumaki Kushina. Most of the time, they play board games, watch movies, banter back and forth only to fall asleep cuddled up on the large dog-smelling couch with Kakashi's ninken around. Sometimes, Sakura's parents allow her to stay overnight and that's even better - the more, the merrier.

Even if it only had been Kakashi and Sasuke, he would have wanted that more than... this mess.

"I heard you made it to chunin." Fugaku says all of a sudden, takes a sip from his cup, and Sasuke thinks "Yes! That's it! This is the moment when I'll start to feel homier with them than with Kakashi and Obito!"

"Yeah, I did. I trained really hard for it. Sen-sensei went on a trip with Kakashi and I to broaden my horizon. I was even able to nearly beat Gaara but he was too strong so I retreated." Sasuke gesticulates with his arms as he usually does with Kakashi. He feels kind of stupid when they eye his arms distastefully. As if he wasn't supposed to express himself.

"You failed the second fight?" his father demands. His mother looks put out too.

"Well... yes. I retreated because-"

There's a disappointed sigh. Sasuke halts in his speech. He awkwardly fiddles through his hair that's he's been growing as wild as Obito's.

"I wish you were more like Itachi. He overwhelmed and brought together whole clans at your age. He even founded a village." Fugaku says.

Sasuke understands.

It wasn't for the reasons Itachi had provided him with that he wasn't allowed into the village. Perhaps subconsciously, his brother has searched for something to tell him that wouldn't hurt as much as "Our parents are lifeless and vile creatures who won't give a shit." His mother is alright, kind of, but every time she wants to do something that's remotely human, she stops in her tracks as if she thinks it's better to be so cold to Sasuke that he freezes on the inside.

Yes. Suddenly, Sasuke understands. He looks at Itachi whose eyes are clouded in pain. He understands too.

Sasuke clears his throat, stands up and says: "I'm sorry but this doesn't work out. My real parents are waiting for me back in Konoha. One of them is a dog-crazy, loyal to boot, masked porn reader with a Sharingan eye that isn't his own. The other one's an outcast Uchiha who was Madara's student and still would never think of telling me I should be more like anybody else. 'Cause they love me, you know? Or, maybe you don't. I'm glad that Itachi's so much of a pacifist that he rather formed a whole village than murdering every Uchiha besides me." Itachi throws him a worried glance, "Kakashi told me. Anyways. I'm glad that he did the former and not the latter because it showed me that family isn't always about sharing blood."

Mikoto looks like she might burst into tears. But she nods. Fugaku, though, looks just a tad bit more disgruntled than usual.

Obito gently leads him into Kamui's dimension, waving to his Kage before retreating to Konohagakure.

Later, Itachi slumps down in his office, alone. He silently stares at his black painted nails but doesn't really see them at all. He's empty. The meeting between his brother and his parents has been nothing but abysmal and he'd really like a shoulder to cry on or... just to lie on for a few minutes.

"Dangokage-sama, I-" Hoshigaki Kisame, a former revolutionist Kiri missing-nin trots in and pauses when he sees how fucked up Itachi looks.

The Kage wrings out a small smile. "What is it?" he asks the jonin.

"No, that can wait. What happened?" Kisame sits down in front of him.

And because Itachi's only human after all, with or without a genius brain, he talks. He keeps talking and talking about everything that went wrong in his life. He talks about wounds no one knows anything about. Itachi's nearly eighteen and on that breezy afternoon, he drinks for the first time.

However, it's not because he's depressed but because somewhere along the line, Kisame and he drift off and decide to have a night filled with fun.

ooo-

Sasuke arrives at home. Kakashi seems unnaturally tense as if he waits for Sasuke to tell him he'll migrate to Dangogakure.

"I'm home... dad."

Kakashi's eye widens. Then, without asking any questions, he gathers the newly minted chunin into his arms.

"Welcome home, son."

They watch a movie – Obito, Kakashi and Sasuke – and they share popcorn from that odd orange ceramic bowl Naruto has made for Kakashi's twenty-fourth birthday. Sasuke falls asleep, half of his body on his dad and the other half on the only man he'll ever call father - if only because Kakashi's too non-Uchiha for that kind of treatment.