The downfall of the Uchiha clan was met by Konoha with a grand funeral, many people having gathered to mourn their friends or the clan as a whole. The Third Hokage gave a speech about the importance of the clan and stated his admiration for their ideals before he joined everyone in mourning. The only two survivors looked like they wanted to be there the least. Shinku himself didn’t know what he was doing there. Perhaps neither of them did. Their lives had changed so much in that one night, both completely lost. No. In truth Sasuke had already found his answer. He would cling to what Itachi had told him, he would hate him, despise him and seek vengeance. Because if he didn’t he had nothing else to live for anymore.
But what about Shinku? Revenge… wasn’t really as attractive a goal in his eyes. Itachi needed to be brought to justice, but that was irrelevant from what he wanted to do. He didn’t even think about dedicating his life to something so shallow. His thoughts spun in a different direction. To Konoha, to how they had allowed this to happen. But they weren’t thoughts of revenge. Rather. He didn’t want such a thing to ever occur again. If he couldn’t trust the current village to have prevented this, then there’s something wrong with the leadership. He looked at the Third, but no matter how much he observed him, he seemed like he was genuinely sad to see this outcome. That wasn’t acting. If it was he should receive an award.
Then? The Hokage was the one who ruled the village right? If he seemed like he would have prevented this, but didn’t then who’s at fault? Whoever it was, Shinku would find out. If Sasuke would bring justice to the executioner, then Shinku would seek justice for the one who allowed the execution. There was no way Itachi could have massacred the whole clan without any sort of interference. But there were no deaths outside clan members. If there wasn’t any sort of interference, someone must have prevented it. Someone allowed it to happen. Shinku would see to it that the truth in the matter is brought to light. And if nothing else, he had utmost confidence in his eyes.
The funeral eventually ended. Everyone left as the two funeral-attire-clad children didn’t move a muscle. Even if they left now where would they go? Shinku didn’t want to be there, but even if he ran back home what would he find there? A house half-destroyed by none other than himself and no one to greet him. Everyone now lay under the very ground he was standing on. As they stood there the Third approached them both, flinching mentally as the fully activated sharingan of Shinku met his eyes. He crouched in front of the two kids.
“I heard you wanted to go back to the Academy tomorrow. You can rest a few more days, you know.” The old man suggested.
“No. we can’t neglect our studies for too long.” Answered Shinku, his eyes observing Hiruzen’s every miniature movement.
“That’s right… We need to become stronger, then graduate and become fully-fledged shinobi.” Sasuke chimed in.
“I… see.” The Third expressed disappointment. Shinku also detected guilt in what he said. What was that guilt of? Guilt for not being able to prevent this? Or guilt from purposefully allowing it to happen? No. If it was the second, he wouldn’t express it so blatantly. There would be more of an attempt to hide it, even if subconscious. Again, Shinku failed to find evidence of the old man being responsible for this. “Then… can I ask you to come to the Hokage office tomorrow? After school? I want to hear what happened from your perspective. If you don’t want to talk about it, we can put this off…” He couldn’t put this off forever though. He needed to eventually question them. He thought that he might as well get it out of the way.
“No. I’ll come.”
“There’s… nothing I can say that Shinku can’t…” Sasuke expressed. Shinkumaru’s story was much more impressive than his own. He had simply been caught by Itachi and knocked out. But what about him? After Sasuke had run off in fear Shinku had fought with Itachi and managed to force him away. Nothing like himself, who’d just been told he wasn’t even worth killing.
“I see… I’m sure the two of you have exchanged stories. How about it Shinkumaru-kun, could you tell me what happened that night?” Hiruzen invited, getting a nod from the red-haired child. Hiruzen gave them both a pat on the head, before standing up. “Then I’ll see you then. Make sure to rest today. If you really intend to go to the Academy tomorrow, you won’t be able to concentrate if you’re exhausted.” He said before leaving the two boys to themselves.
The two stayed there for some time more. They didn’t really mourn. They just stood, still aimless and confused, it took several hours, until the sun started setting, for the two to finally decide to go “home”. Their “home” was now supposed to be Sasuke’s house. They would receive some support from the village, but they had honestly inherited most of the Uchiha clan’s funds. They didn’t need much in the form of financial support.
Shinku had tried to dissuade Sasuke from still living in that house, but he vehemently refused, eventually forcing Shinku to accept. Shinku knew it wouldn’t be healthy for Sasuke to remain there, but he couldn’t be shaken on the decision. Living in that house he would be constantly reminded of his family, of what Itachi did, of his hatred, of his betrayal. That way he wouldn’t forget his new goal. He wouldn’t forget how he felt that night.
Shinku would rather forget, but it seemed too difficult to do so either way. Even if he did forget how he felt, that won’t stop him from finding the one responsible. The two barely managed to sleep again that night, assaulted by nightmares, haunting them both in their wake and in their sleep. In the morning the two set out for the academy. Shinku didn’t bother deactivating his sharingan anymore. He had no reason to. The people who had told him not to were gone and he had much graver things to hide.
It seemed like the children in the Academy hadn’t heard about the incident. Maybe their parents kept it from them, or maybe they just didn’t understand exactly what it meant. The two didn’t know, but they didn’t talk about it either way. They preferred it not be mentioned. The most they did was come off as more unsociable than usual. Sasuke especially, as Shinku at least tried to pretend to smile when others approached him. Sparring in Taijutsu class felt more boring to Shinku than ever. He didn’t even feel like setting a handicap for himself today so he would actually benefit from it. As for Sasuke, he was challenged once again by the spiky yellow-haired one. Naruto Uzumaki, Shinku remembered. He hadn’t interacted much with him himself, but he was too loud and too stand-offish to not remember the name. Not to mention he was an Uzumaki just like Shinku’s own mother. Even if he was missing the signature red hair. Of course, Sasuke won without a problem.
Classes went by much the same. Shinku absentmindedly surviving through them, lacking his usual energy. Everybody seemed to stare at him whenever they got the chance. Or, to be exact, they stared at his eyes, Shinku refusing to turn his sharingan off even there. The sharingan was something he should be proud of as his Uchiha heritage, not something he should hide for no reason. Even if it did consume chakra, to him the amount was insignificant, and after years of practice the concentration needed to keep it active was practically non-existent. To him, to have his sharingan turned off felt more unnatural than having it on.
After classes, ended Sasuke and Shinku split up. Thankfully for him, the Hokage office was right next to the academy. The guards let him inside without even stopping him, and finding his way to the office was no herculean task, requiring only him asking for directions once. Opening the door, he met once more with the Third. He walked inside the room and closed the door behind himself.
“Ah, Shinkumaru-kun. Good day.”
“Good day…” Shinku answered unenthusiastically. Hiruzen cleared his throat.
“So you’ve come. I assume you’re ready to relay what happened that night?” Shinku simply nodded in response and began retelling.
“Me and Sasuke were out training. We had gotten carried away and stayed back until later than usual. Realising this we hurried back to the Uchiha grounds, but by the time we arrived we found everyone had already been killed, bodies littering the streets. Sasuke hurried to his house, and not wanting to leave him by himself I ran after him. After searching the normal rooms in his house we heard a thud and quickly following the noise, we arrived at the bedroom of Sasuke’s parents, inside of which we encountered Itachi, standing over the corpses o Uchiha Fugaku and Mikoto. During the encounter itachi’s sharingan seemed to change shape into something completely different from the usual, before Sasuke screamed in terror and collapsed. In the moment I was distracted by that, I was also thrown out of the room. After failing to attack Itachi, Sasuke ran away. I later learned from him that the reason he had screamed was because he was thrown into a genjutsu by his brother where he was forced to observe him killing everybody in the clan in real time and after running away, he was simply intercepted and knocked out.” He paused to give the Third a moment for this to set in, closely observing his reaction.
“As for myself, I managed to run away from Itachi and ran towards my house, where I set a trap for him using explosive tags to collapse the bedroom on top of him. Unfortunately, he easily evaded said trap and I was the only one buried under the debris. He might have thought that I was dead from that because I didn’t encounter him afterwards. That was the last either of us saw of him.” Shinku hadn’t taken long to come up with this story, not wanting to reveal the skeletal creature he could create and control. He had even gone back to his house once again to scorch parts of the rubble with the great fireball jutsu he had learned from Sasuke a few months prior, in order to make it believable.
“I see… Thank you for relaying this to me. I know it must have been difficult.” He wasn’t wrong. Remembering the night was by no means pleasant for Shinku even if he feigned otherwise. Seeing that he received no reaction the Third continued. “You can go home now. Rest well.” With a nod Shinku turned around and left.
He didn’t immediately return home, rather heading to a heavily forested training ground. He checked very carefully for anybody following him, and was correct as he found traces of people trailing behind him. ANBU, he guessed by the fact that he never could see their forms. It was unfortunate, but he couldn’t test his new capabilities further yet. Not with them watching. Instead he began a normal training session. But with time. Their guards would drop, he would stop being observed and he would finally be able to advance. What he just needed was time, time which he had close to five years of. He just needed to wait, patiently. That was what being a shinobi was about, after all.