Tsunade the Sannin meets Uchiha Itachi, Clan Destroyer. As legends, they seem to be equal, but he isn't a gambler.
Tsunade knows Class, the thing that creates men of importance. She's the Godaime Hokage, she dines with the best, tilts her head just so, lipstick and covert glances make men quiver in fear and awe.
Uchiha Itachi takes her breath away.
Her eyes are wide and her breathing sharp, fingers digging into the wood of the massive desk that has shrunk to an ineffectual barrier. He is the one with the lipstick, manicure, tilted head with the hint of a not-smile, but those details fade under the gaze of his eyes.
She shouldn't be looking at any of him, she knows intellectually, but those eyes draw a person in; Sasuke, she's seen, has eyes of fire, intense power distilled. This boy, barely a man, has glass doll eyes, reflecting her so clearly a foolish, traitorous part of her almost hopes for the escape of Mangekyo.
There is another man with him, Kisame of the Sharkskin Blade, and she registers him only by reflex. She's been a ninja all her life, and if routine shows true, with Shizune at her side Tsunade will only be burdened with one.
He takes a step forward, she stands up, and the magnitude of power in the room is a prelude to the impending match. Tsunade's heart cries out for Konoha. The village has already weathered one demon attack.
"Give me the Kyuubi."
He's childish, she thinks, demanding and taking is all he knows.
"No." She's the parent here, stern and all-knowing.
"I can make this village like the old Uchiha clan." He threatens calmly, as the fish-man behind him does all the scare-tactic faces and gestures.
For all his power, Uchiha Itachi doesn't have the fierce attitude that Naruto has. Naruto impresses her. At this point, she finds that Uchiha Itachi does not. She's confident, because she's learned how to deal with business men. The odds-and-evens, unpredictable kind of men are the ones that always get the better of her.
"With only one clan survivor?" She smiling wryly and says this offhand, patronizing. It's an empty threat. He won't do it, can't do it against all of Konoha. He's done, she's done, all that's left is for him to realize it and get out of her office.
"Two," Dry, like he's ordering food. "We'll need the demon vessel alive, and I have no intention of killing my brother yet."
This stupid punk. Naruto isn't even here, off with that lush of a Sannin. Sasuke isn't here either, and she doesn't want to think what's going on in her other former teammate's lair.
It's those thoughts more than anything else that darkens her face and causes her to bite the inside of her mouth. Shizune, ever watchful, notices the changes and applies them to the current situation, taking a ready stance.
"Go away." Shizune's posture tilts as Tsunade flops back down into her chair, all pretense of class abandoned. Doesn't this kid realize that she's the great and powerful Hokage, onto whom mountains of paperwork is unloaded? Apparently not, as he and his teammate just sort of stood there in the way. "The brat isn't here. Neither of them."
She picks up a piece of paper and holds it just so, watching as Kisame looks to Itachi and Itachi looks back to him, both of them tripped up by the quick change of pace. She looks at Itachi's face, the eyes black as the night sky, silky hair in the corner of a mouth open in soft question to the other. Young, she thinks, although she thinks that about everyone nowadays.
The damage of fighting an S-class missing nin would be great. It would be best if they just left Konoha, and Tsunade knows this. "Naruto is heading to Rock Country, and left about three weeks ago."
The two look back at her, and Uchiha Itachi, murderer of his clan, nods sharply, hair moving elegantly. The two disappear as silently as they arrive.
"Tsunade-sama? Was it all right to just let them go? Uchiha Itachi is dangerous."
"Aside from the murder of his clan, and those assorted attempts on Naruto, he's never actually attacked any Konoha ninja. The Kakashi incident was the worst, and even then there were no fatalities. Uchiha Itachi knows he can't take us all."
"Don't fret over that brat. He's an odds-and-evens type, the most unpredictable ninja in Konoha." And he's stubborn, she adds mentally, deathly stubborn. She didn't worry about her boy dying off until Sasuke was back, at least. Even then he'd probably wait until he made Hokage.
The part of her mind that was scared of even the scent of blood whisper 'what ifs', giving Orochimaru's face to Sasuke rather than the other way around, and what if he never came back, what if Naruto couldn't drown himself in women or sake or gambling?
The paperwork she has in her hands is the outline of a C-class mission, and she signs off on it. Shizune takes it to file.
Konoha breeds the strongest ninjas; Sharingan Kakashi, Taijutsu Master Gai, Torture Genius Ibiki, the Clan-killer Uchiha, and of course, the Legendary Sannin. The academy children learn them as names of great and terrible Gods, and then see them in the grocers.
Tsunade is the Godaime Hokage. A new wave of Konoha ninja are on the rise. She prays they turn out differently, but even she won't take that bet.