She was speechless, for a moment. Was he insane?
Seeing the incredulous look on her face, he continued. "You cling to what you know; knowledge. Ignorance is bliss, girl. It's better you not know the truth, but I'm going to tell you. Whether you choose to step out of what you think is reality and believe it or remain in ignorance is up to you."
He was settled back against the tree, obviously waiting for her to make a decision. She was mildly agitated that he'd called her 'girl', but she seriously thought about it for a moment. Should she hear what he had to say, or turn and run? What did he mean by "What you think is reality"? Was this "truth" he spoke of so shocking?
Curiosity got the better of her and she plopped down on her bottom.
"I am not what you believe me to be," he began. "If you choose to believe this, I ask that you don't think of your village differently."
She crossed her legs, ears open. She didn't speak; only listened.
"At thirteen, I wasn an Anbu black-op, and very-well respected in both the village and my clan. I was trusted."
She frowned. 'That's how you committed your crim so easily.'
"It was rumored that the Uchiha clan was planning to over-throw the Hokage and Elders and take over Konoha for themselves."
Her eyes widened. What?
It was as if he read her mind, he answered her question so directly. "I'm being perfectly serious, Haruno Sakura."
"That's.. but.. the Uchiha clan was the police force!"
"That was your reality," the Uchiha replied. "The clan was given that responsibility to keep them in line. The fact was that the Uchiha clan had a deep hatred for the Elders of Konoha. That roots back to a hundred years ago, during the Great Ninja War."
"Does the name 'Uchiha Madara' ring a bell?"
Her eyes widened. Uchiha Madara..?
"He was one of the two founders of Konoha."
She nodded. "Yes, but what does that have to do with anything?"
"When he and Hashirama of the Senjuu clan founded Konoha, the two fought over who would be the leader."
"And the first Hokage won."
"Yes, and Madara was bitter. The whole clan was bitter. And because of their bitterness, they slowly became ostrasized."
She let out a breath. She was learning of the Uchiha clan's past; it was so much information to take in.. And there he sat, telling her what Sasuke never bothered to. This was perhaps the oddest day of her entire life.
"Tell me, Haruno Sakura, what is your opinion of the Uchiha clan after hearing this?"
She hesitated, but her headstrong personality wouldn't let her lie. "I think they're arrogant and power-hungry."
He didn't move, didn't blink, didn't react in the slightest. It unnerved her. He didn't comment on her words. He merely moved on, as if she hadn't said anything. "More time passed by, and the clan grew more and more spiteful. While I went through the academy, and Sasuke was just a little one - "
Sakura cringed at the mention of his name.
" - I overheard things my father said to mother, and to other men in the clan. Things that made me worry, because even though I was only a child, around eight, I wasn't stupid. I was a tad suspicious that my father was planning something. I dismissed it until I graduated from the academy not much later. I quickly grew from child to adult; not physically, but mentally. That was partially what made me rank up so quickly. I had skill beyond anyone else my age - "
"And still do," Sakura muttered bitterly. He paused for a moment, seeming to consider her. She could feel his eyes on her. It made her nervous.
"It got worse and worse," he went on. "For two years.. Until one day, I was summoned by the Hokage. He gave me a mission: To be a spy on the Uchiha clan from the inside."
Sakura's eyes widened. She was a sensible person, she knew where this was going. Nevertheless, she remained quiet and let him speak.
"It was easy to report to the Hokage of the clan's dealings, because they'd placed me in the Anbu to spy on the Hokage."
"So.. You were a double-agent." She murmured.
"Yes. I was truly on the Hokage's side," he answered lowly. "The safety and peace of the village was more important than my family's grudge."
She looked away. Based on the information she was being given, Itachi wasn't the bad guy everyone always made him out to be. Could she really believe this man. He was a criminal, he was evil. He was the enemy.
But that was only her reality. That was what she lived by. It was what she knew. That was exactly what he'd talked about before. What she was dealing with right then was exactly what he meant.
Her eyes rose to meet his. The coal-colored orbs merely stared at her.
No Sharingan. That and the fact that he was sitting there and not attack or killing her was enough to shatter what she though she knew.
"So.. What happened?"
Itachi's face was grim. "One night, I reported to the Elders that the clan was planning a coup de-tat to assassinate them."
"And you..." She trailed off.
"Yes," He kept his eyes on her. "I was ordered to kill them. It was my choice to either accept the mission, or stand aside and let a possible war develop between the clan and rest of the village."
The more words this man spoke, the more she began to see him as a torn shinobi rather than a ruthless criminal.
"I made my choice, as you know."
She gazed at him. His face was expressionless.
"Why didn't you kill.."
She cringed again before nodding quietly.
Her eyes widened slightly. Sasuke hated Itachi, and she always thought Itachi hated Sasuke too. "He's my little brother," Itachi said quietly. "I shouldn't have left him alive, but I couldn't do it. I couldn't kill him.
She fought back the urge to cry. What she'd heard made her heart shatter with grief. "Itachi, I.." She murmured, before clapping a hand over her mouth. She's just called him by his first name, a personal thing.
"Have you chosen to believe that I've told you?"
"I... I do. It sounds so crazy, but.."
"You're smarter than I gave you credit for, Haruno Sakura."
"Just.. Sakura, please," She whispered.
He remained still. "I ask you not to reveal this information to anyone. I shouldn't have told you."
She frowned. "Then why did you?"
"I have yet to figure that out," He said, before nodding his head once. "You should leave."
"But I.." She sat up and crawled closer to him. "I want to know more about you."
"My life is not yours to know," He murmured, watching her.
"But I'm interested.. Highly interested.." She looked at him with pleading eyes, now close to him. Under normal circumstanced, she wouldn't have even spoken to him in the first place.
But these weren't normal circumstances. Her hand reached up slowly, and just as her fingertips brushed his cheek, his hand caught her wrist once again. Her breath hitched and she stared at him.
"Haruno Sakura, you're a talented kunoichi," He said. "If you're seen here with the likes of me, you'll be in trouble."
She looked at him, wide-eyed, before looking away. He released her wrist and she let it fall into her lap. "I suppose I should go." She stood to her feet.
"I'm sure we will meet again sooner or later," Came his low reply.
She looked back at him. "Thank you.. For opening my eyes."
The man was a mystery to her. One minute, he was telling her a truth that sounded impossible; the next, he didn't speak at all.
She supposed that even though he'd revealed to her things that almost no one else knew, she still didn't know who Uchiha Itachi was.
Surprisingly to her, she wanted to find out. Before, she couldn't care less. She wanted to kill him.
Now, she wanted to understand him.
She only hoped she would have the chance to.