Suture - Chapter 2 - PerchingPasserine (2024)

Chapter Text

That night, Konoha’s sirens wailed.

Masaru was dressing for bed. He paused dumbly for several seconds, short-circuiting, thinking, Impossible. It had never happened before, after all. But he had never known about Danzou before, either.

The siren pattern meant shelter in place, so Masaru threw on his mission clothes, strapped his weapon pouches to his hip and thigh, and sat on the floor in the middle of the living room. He twitched every once in a while, on the verge of running into the night in search of Shisui. But he still sat on the floor an hour later when the sirens faded.

It was just after midnight. On the streets, nobody knew what was going on, but a crush of ninja and civilians alike were flocking to the Tower to find out. Masaru retreated to the roofs and followed them.

In the square in front of the Tower, an ANBU agent had Uchiha Fugaku on his knees. Danzou stood next to them and looked out at the crowd, but the Hokage was not with him; he stood far in the back with his advisors and an ANBU guard, his head bowed so that the long edge of his hat covered his face.

Masaru crouched with a group of ninja on the roof of a nearby building. His mouth felt stuffed with cotton.

The crowd murmured and swayed with their confusion. Over time it swelled, and as the leaders of the village remained silent, it grew restless. Angry mutters rippled through it: “I’ve always known that man was bad news.” “No better than Madara! But then what Uchiha is?”

Danzou held up his good hand. The crowd quieted.

“Tonight,” Danzou said, “not more than two hours ago, Uchiha Itachi and Uchiha Shisui attempted to assassinate me.”

Masaru’s ears buzzed. He was jostled by the ninja around him leaning forward, their gasps ringing in his ears, but he did nothing to resist it, did nothing but strain to hear the rest of Danzou’s words.

“My guards dealt with them. They will cause no more trouble—but they did not act alone. This was a plot of Uchiha Fugaku’s. By all of the Uchiha Clan. It was a plot to destroy Konoha.”

The crowd jeered. “It was not!” Fugaku roared, but he was felled by an agent’s punch. Masaru caught a glimpse of chakra suppression seals painted across his hands and arms in dark ink.

Plot or not, he would not watch Fugaku be executed or worse. He spun on his heel and escaped.

He knelt in an alley, his bare forehead and palms pressed against cool brick, his breath coming in gasps. This was his fault. Because of him, Shisui—and Itachi?—had gone after Danzou, and now they were dead and Fugaku was rapidly headed for the same fate, all at Danzou’s order.

What did he really know about Shisui? Maybe Danzou was telling the truth. Maybe Masaru had seen Danzou take Shisui’s eye in self-defense. But then he had had Masaru killed.

Masaru grasped for his neck. He choked on nothing. Had Itachi had nothing to do with Shisui’s death? Only Danzou—but for what—for his eyes? What happens to my eyes? Shisui had asked.

Had Itachi’s slaughter of the clan been nothing but a coincidence?

Had Itachi slaughtered his clan? Could he have been framed? But Sasuke was a witness. Why would the murderer leave him alive, unless they cared for him as their brother?

Masaru slumped to the ground and rolled onto his back. His shoulder pressed against the metal edge of his forehead protector, lying abandoned on the ground. Whispers he’d always dismissed drifted through his mind: The Uchiha had caused the Kyuubi Attack. The Uchiha’s eyes were red as blood because of the Curse of Hatred. The Uchiha hated Konoha. Hadn’t they resisted forming an alliance with the First Hokage? Hadn’t their leader Madara betrayed the village?

But then, maybe that was all an excuse. Why would Danzou have spun Shisui and Itachi’s attack into a betrayal of the entire Uchiha Clan unless he already had it out for them?

Maybe Konoha had been behind the slaughter of the clan the entire time.

Masaru went cold. He passed a hand over his eyes and remembered the Kita, every last one dead because they were a threat to Konoha.

So if the Hokage believed the Uchiha were a threat…

But were they? And how did Itachi come into it? And what was with Danzou and Shisui’s eyes?

The sirens began to wail again. This time, they called for all ninja to come to Konoha’s defense.

By the time Nariko arrived in the village that afternoon, the fighting was over. The Uchiha who’d revolted at the death of their head were mostly dead and otherwise imprisoned, the rest mostly imprisoned and otherwise dead. Masaru stood just a few steps outside the hospital sporting a bandaged shoulder when Nariko found him. He reached out for her, wanting reassurance like a child, and then he saw her face.

His hand dropped to his side.

“It’s Shun,” Nariko said. “He’s dead.”

Shun, her boyfriend.

Masaru closed his eyes. “Oh, Nariko. I’m sorry.”

He meant it not as sympathy but as a real apology, as I’m sorry I did this, but Nariko didn’t know that. So it was awful when Nariko hugged him, jostled his shoulder until he hissed, apologized. She wiped tears from her eyes and said, “Damn those Uchiha. Damn them.”

It was the kindest thing she would say about the Uchiha for weeks, almost the kindest thing Masaru heard from anyone. It was nothing like the week after the slaughter, the first time around, when the outpouring of sympathy had been immense. And oh, Sasuke—nobody could shut up about that poor boy. This time, he was put quietly to death like an unwanted kitten.

V.

Masaru watched Shisui dress, drinking in the sight of him healthy and whole. Shisui took his time, stretching his arms as he slid on his shirt, messing with his hair before he tied on his forehead protector. When he was done, he sat on the edge of the bed and said, “I should go.”

Masaru blinked at him. Sat up. Said, “Actually, you and I are leaving the village.”

At the table, Shisui listened with a grim expression as Masaru told him about the loop, about what he knew and what might happen if Shisui went after Danzou tonight, even—apparently—with Itachi at his side.

“I’m not going to leave the village,” Shisui said.

“Yes,” Masaru said. “You are.”

“I can’t. Not today.”

“Like I haven’t heard that before—and look where it got us.”

Shisui’s lips thinned.

Masaru said, “I don’t know what’s so important tonight. What I do know is that it’s not worth it. If you don’t leave the village, you and your clan will end up dead, one way or another.”

Shisui appeared unmoved, but when he spoke, his voice had the slightest lilt of uncertainty. “Have we ever left the village before?”

“No.”

“And you’ve done this how many times?”

Masaru swallowed and glanced away. He curled his nails into his palms, as if trying to distract from pain with pain. “Too many.”

“Masaru. How many times?”

Masaru closed his eyes. “We have to try something new. We have to leave the village. Please.”

It wasn’t a hard act to pull off. It was all emotion he already felt, just not so strongly he couldn’t conceal it. And it worked. At length, Shisui said, “All right. We’ll try it.”

Masaru slumped into his chair. He turned back and opened his eyes.

“But we’re bringing Itachi.”

“What?”

“There’s a lot you don’t know—”

“And whose fault is that?”

Shisui twitched. “Trust me. It’s for the best.”

“Itachi murdered your entire clan.”

“He wouldn’t have. Not by choice.”

“I see. Because Konoha maybe being in on it absolves him of all guilt.”

“No.” Shisui fell silent for one moment, two. Then, “My eyes have the power to cast Kotoamatsukami, a genjutsu so strong it compels the target to do whatever the user commands without them even realizing it wasn’t their own idea. If Danzou got his hands on them…”

Every thought Masaru had had over the last two months shifted a step to the left.

“f*ck this.”

Shisui startled into a laugh.

“He’s—he’s twelve. That’s the graduating age, these days.” Masaru rested his elbows on the table and dropped his head into his hands. “Why does Danzou want the Uchiha gone so badly?”

Shisui was quiet. When Masaru raised his head to look at him, he was staring at a corner of the table, his face set in a hard frown. “You know,” Masaru said.

“He probably believes we’re plotting against him,” Shisui said slowly. “That we caused the Kyuubi Attack, that we’re planning something like that again.”

“Kotoamatsukami,” Masaru said. “Can everyone with a Sharingan do it?”

Shisui’s mouth twisted. “No. Only me.”

Well. If he wasn’t lying—which was possible, considering how much information he seemed to be keeping close to his chest—then it couldn’t be the threat Danzou wanted gone. Maybe the Sharingan was threat enough; maybe the stain left by Madara was. Maybe the Uchiha were plotting against Konoha.

“The Hokage. Do you think he’s in on…” Masaru trailed off. He couldn’t bring himself to finish the sentence.

“I don’t know,” Shisui said, his voice small. “I hope not.”

He looked vulnerable, then, and Masaru was reminded of a momentary stillness and a snapped word, and he realized that those were the times he’d been afforded a brief look behind Shisui’s mask. He wanted to reach over the table, to touch Shisui’s face and encourage him not to slip it back on.

Shisui said, “I’ll talk to him this morning. According to what you said, Danzou has at least some of ANBU under his thumb, but I’ll find a way to do it secretly. We’ll leave the village and give him some time, and based on what he does, we’ll know. You’ll know.”

Masaru stood. He came around to lean on the table where Shisui sat and waited until Shisui met his gaze. “I won’t rest until I fix this.”

“I don’t know if you know what you’re saying,” Shisui said. “But thank you. Thank you.”

Shisui left to prepare, and Masaru tried and failed to get some sleep, then left a note for Nariko about a mission and headed for the gates.

He didn’t know what to make of Uchiha Itachi. He’d been thinking of him as a mass murderer for months, but in person the kid was totally unassuming: small and quiet, with hard, watchful eyes. Masaru couldn’t tell if the feeling he got that Itachi didn’t like him was because he didn’t or because he was just like that.

There was little time to talk, to feel out the situation. They ran as hard and fast as they could, straight through till sunset.

They spent the next week camping deep in the Land of Fire’s forests, debating strategies to take care of Danzou—biding their time, Shisui said, until he received an answer from the Hokage. At times Shisui and Itachi disappeared from camp to talk in private, leaving Masaru alone and feeling frustrated. For a few days, he’d believed he knew everything, or as much as Shisui did. Now he wasn’t so sure.

But one night, Shisui stayed up with him after Itachi went to bed. Together they tended the small fire, and Masaru craned his neck to watch the smoke float up into the black leaves.

“It feels a little like we’re genin again,” Shisui said.

Masaru huffed. “You were running from assassins as a genin?”

“Running from death, at any rate. It was a war,” Shisui said dryly. “But I mean being on a mission with you.”

It would have been innocent, a passing remark, if Shisui hadn’t said it pressing weight into every word. Masaru stilled and chanced a glance at him, but his expression as he stared into the fire was inscrutable. So Masaru said, “Rope Rie in, and it’ll be a veritable reunion.”

“Ha. Maybe you’d have enough sway with her to do it.” He paused. “How is she? I heard she finally became clan head.”

“She did,” Masaru said, because he had been keeping an eye out for the news himself. “But I don’t know how she is. We don’t really talk anymore.”

If Shisui saw that there was more to it than that, he said nothing. “Well, it wouldn’t count, anyway, without Yuuta-sensei.”

Yuuta, maybe, was Rie’s problem more than anything else. Except Masaru, but that had come later.

Shisui lay down and curled onto his side to peer up at Masaru. He blinked slowly. Opened his mouth and then closed it. It was uncharacteristic of him, and Masaru was on the verge of asking what was wrong when he said, “Did you ever do this as a genin?”

“You’re going to have to be more specific.”

“The time thing.”

“Oh,” Masaru said. He went back over their conversation almost a week ago now and couldn’t remember going into details. Why would he have? “No. I can only do it once.”

“Once—in your life?”

“What other type of once is there?”

“Once in your life. And you chose me?”

“I chose the Uchiha.”

Shisui’s eyes went distant. “But why?”

“Hundreds of people were dead, slaughtered in cold blood,” Masaru said. It was the truth, if only part of it. But the Kita always came slow to his tongue, and he outright refused to tell Shisui about Rie, about when half of her clan had died in the Kyuubi Attack and Masaru had done nothing.

Shisui seemed shaken. He sat up and looked at Masaru in silence, until Masaru said, ash on his tongue, “It’s not complicated. Wouldn’t you have made the same decision?”

Shisui ducked his head. “Yes. But the Uchiha are my clan. I wouldn’t have done it for—for some random people in Iwagakure.”

“I don’t know if you’ve noticed,” Masaru said slowly, “but the Uchiha are not a part of Iwagakure.”

“But they’re also not your clan. And—”

Masaru waited for Shisui to continue or for him to set his slipped mask right again. But he didn’t, not until Masaru said, “And what?”

“Nobody likes the Uchiha.”

It was a childish thing to say. Masaru could see that Shisui knew it even as he said it. His shoulders straightened. He began to shake his head and open his mouth.

Masaru blurted, “Konoha had the Kita killed, too.”

Another partial truth, but it must’ve sounded like a full one. Shisui stared.

“My father’s clan.”

“I know. But—” Shisui frowned. “Which parent is your bloodline limit from?”

Masaru saw what he was really asking. “My father. But they killed everyone in the space of an hour. Only my father was left, and he had already used his.”

“I’m sorry,” Shisui said.

Masaru shrugged and brought his knees up to hug them. “It doesn’t matter if the Uchiha aren’t likeable. Because what Danzou wants to do—it shouldn’t happen to anyone.”

For a while, Shisui said nothing. Then he clapped Masaru on the shoulder and said, again, always again, “Thank you.”

Masaru’s stomach turned. In guilt, he tried to convince himself. It took him a moment to find the wherewithal to say, “I don’t want to hear it.”

“Too bad. I want to say it.”

With that, Shisui stood and headed across camp.

The next evening, an ANBU agent found them.

Itachi’s eyes bled red. Masaru put his hands together, ready to release a lightning jutsu.

Shisui held an arm out, barring them, and they stilled. In the summer heat, the agent had forgone the black cloak, so she looked a little more human than ANBU agents usually did, even with the white mask she tipped in their direction. Masaru wondered if it was intentional.

“Hey there, Itachi,” the agent said.

Itachi inclined his head. “Bear.” Then he and Shisui shared a look, and Shisui relaxed a fraction.

Huh. That was interesting.

Bear ignored Masaru to turn to Shisui and say, “Uchiha Shisui. The Hokage sends his regards.”

Shisui relaxed another fraction. “I’m glad to hear it. Let’s find somewhere comfortable to talk, shall we?”

Sitting in a loose circle at the base of a massive tree, it quickly became clear that Bear was not an agent loyal to Danzou, or if she was, Danzou was playing the long game. It also became clear that she was not prepared to be helpful at all. “These are serious accusations you are making,” she said in a tone that implied she thought they were also likely to be false. “The Hokage would like you to return to the village at once to deal with them properly. Especially you, uh,”—her mask swung to Masaru—“Kimura Masaru, right? Since the evidence relies on you.”

“Does it, now,” Masaru said coolly, which prompted a frown from Shisui. But for some reason Masaru had not expected Shisui to tell the Hokage about his role in any of this. To think that the Hokage knew about his bloodline limit made Masaru feel almost sick.

“That is what Shisui-san indicated in his message,” Bear said.

“I also indicated that Danzou-sama may have told some of his subordinates what he was planning,” Shisui said. “Has the Hokage looked into that?”

“I’m not privy to that,” Bear said.

Shisui’s teeth clicked, but to his credit, no frustration worked its way into his expression. “Right. Of course. I hope you can understand why, given the nature of the accusations, we do not feel it’s wise to return to the village.”

Bear shrugged. “Nevertheless.”

“What if I go back alone?” Masaru said. Shisui frowned at him again, harder this time. “The point of leaving the village was to keep you out of Danzou’s range. I’ll be fine.”

“You’re implicated now,” Shisui said, “and if you die but I don’t…”

Masaru had not pointed this out, not explicitly.

“Shisui,” Itachi said, in a tone Masaru couldn’t interpret.

Shisui rose to his feet. “I have an idea.” He nodded to Bear. “Thank you for conveying the message, Bear-san. Please tell the Hokage we cannot return right away, but that we’ll be back as soon as we can. Within the month, certainly.”

As soon as she was gone, Itachi said, “If Bear was able to find our location, any of Danzou’s—”

“I told the Hokage to send an agent to meet us here,” Shisui said, gesturing around the featureless forest. “Danzou shouldn’t be able to find us… but yes, let’s move.”

It wasn’t until an hour later, when they had traveled some distance, that Shisui saw fit to reveal his plan. It was then that he had them convene on the ground. He turned to Masaru and said, “So. Fugaku is planning a coup.”

Suture - Chapter 2 - PerchingPasserine (2024)
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