Categories > Anime/Manga > Naruto > The Guardian

Chapter Four

by SGTBrowncoat 0 reviews

Category: Naruto - Rating: PG-13 - Genres:  - Published: 2014-07-24 - Updated: 2014-07-24 - 1476 words - Complete

Chapter Four

It was early the next morning when Itachi reported to his new post outside Naruto Uzumaki's apartment. He found another ANBU operative perched in a tree outside the boy's window.

"So you're my relief, huh?" asked the woman in the bird mask, "Have fun babysitting the demon brat, and good luck. Oh, and by the way, looks like he's going to be late again."

With that, she left.

It soon became clear that Naruto was indeed going to be late for school. He had only a few minutes before class and was still fast asleep. Itachi decided that if he was supposed to be mentoring the boy, letting him be late would not be a very good start to the mission. He jumped down to the open window, crouching on the sill.


No response.


Naruto jerked awake so violently that he fell completely out of bed, landing in a tangle of blankets on the floor and looking dazed.

"You're going to be late if you don't hurry."

"Huh? Oh, crap!"

Naruto scrambled to his feet, slipping on the blankets not once but twice. He hopped out the door, still in his pajamas, trying to pull on his sandals.

Itachi shadowed Naruto as he ran through the village, making it to the Academy with seconds to spare. Satisfied that his charge was secure for the moment, Itachi found a shady area under a tree and leaned back against the trunk. He was technically off duty while Naruto was in school, but he did not feel comfortable leaving his post.

"Itachi? Is that you?" someone called.

There a moment of confused panic as Itachi tried to figure out how he had been identified despite his mask. Then, a moment later, he recognized the voice, and realized that it had not been his face that gave him away, but his scent.

"You know, Hana, I wear a mask for a reason. You can't just go around calling my name like that."

"I don't think the mask is helping as much as you seem to think it is." Hana replied, "Hate to tell you this, but I don't think there's anyone else in ANBU that short and skinny."

Hana was Itachi's only close friend aside from Shisui. They had met in the Academy when they were six years old. Being the prodigy heir to the Uchiha clan had garnered Itachi a bit of a fan club at that age, one that quickly grew to include every girl in his class. All but one. Hana Inuzuka had marched up to him, declared that she did not like him and challenged him to a fight. They had been friends ever since. Like most members of her clan, Hana was a skilled tracker, and was always flanked by her three gray, wolf-like ninken, the Haimaru Brothers. She defied the less flattering reputation of her clan, however, by being highly intelligent. She was already skilled in veterinary medicine, and was studying to become a field medic.

Hana gave an over-exaggerated glance around, before capturing Itachi in a tight hug.

"Sorry," she said, releasing him, "I just haven't seen you forever. And look at you! ANBU! And I just barely made Genin."

"You'll catch up." Itachi assured her, straightening the mask she had knocked askew.

"Only because they're going to run out of promotions to give you."

"What are you doing here anyway?" Itachi asked.

"Just dropped Kiba off for school. What are you doing here?"

"If I told you that, I'd have to kill you." Itachi replied, smirking behind his mask.

Hana punched his shoulder lightly, "Whatever. I've gotta go. I have a long day of cat chasing and yard work ahead of me."

"Don't take those D-ranks for granted. Be careful." Itachi warned.

"Same to you, Weasle-boy."

Itachi spent the rest of the morning just watching the activity in the village from the shadows. He had always been fascinated by how much could be discerned about a person just by observing their daily routines, and it kept him busy. At lunch time, the Academy students filed out of the building to eat. Naruto's bright orange nightshirt made him easy to spot, but he would have stood out anyway. The other students gave him a wide berth. He sat down by himself with a bag of vending machine potato chips, well out of sight of his classmates. Itachi made his way over to the boy.

"Do you always eat alone?" Itachi asked.

Naruto looked up, startled, "Yeah… Hey, you're the guy who woke me up this morning! Why are you talking to me? None of the other ANBU guys ever talk to me."

"They aren't allowed to; I am. Are those chips the only thing you have to eat?"

"I didn't have time to pack lunch this morning."

Itachi had some field rations in his supplies. They were not exactly the most appetizing meal, but they had to be healthier than what Naruto had. He handed the pouch over to the boy.

Naruto eyed the food suspiciously, "Why are you being nice to me?"

"Why shouldn't I be?"

"Nobody else is." replied Naruto pointedly.

"I'm not everyone else."

Naruto stared at him for a long time, apparently trying to decide if he wanted to trust him.

"What's your name?"

"You can call me Weasel." Itachi replied.

It was tradition for an ANBU operative's codename to be based on the animal depicted on his or her mask. The practice was even more appropriate in Itachi's case.

"That's not a name."

"It is in ANBU."

"Well… thanks, Weasel."

"Make sure you set your alarm for tomorrow. You don't want this to happen again."

"I will."

Itachi went back to observing until school let out for the day. He saw Sasuke first. He was being hounded by a group of girls. Itachi could not help but chuckle; he remembered those days. A while passed and most of the other students were gone, but there had still been no sign of Naruto. Finally the main doors opened and Naruto exited alongside a young instructor. Itachi recognized him as Iruka Umino by the scar across his nose. The two seemed to be in the middle of a serious discussion, one that Naruto did not seem thrilled to be a part of. When they finished, Iruka returned inside and Naruto trudged off. Itachi easily caught up to the boy and dropped down from the rooftops to walk beside him.

"Trouble in school?" Itachi asked.

Naruto sighed, "Iruka-sensei says I'm failing academics."

"Academics, huh? Which part are you having trouble with?"

"All of it! I can't… I can't read." Naruto admitted, shamefaced.

Itachi was stunned, "No one ever taught you to read?"

Naruto shook his head.

"Does Iruka know that?"

"If I tell him, he'll think I'm stupid."

"I doubt he would think that. He would probably help you."

"But if I got extra help, then everyone else would know, and they'd think I'm stupid."

Itachi knew from experience that kids could be cruel like that.

"…Tell you what. How about if I help you? Then no one would know but us."

Itachi was no teacher, but how could he stand by and let the son of the Fourth Hokage flunk out of the Academy without at least trying to do something about it?

"Really?! You'd do that?! When can we start?" Naruto asked excitedly, hopping from one foot to the other.

"We can start now if you want."


For the next several weeks, Itachi tutored Naruto every day after school. Despite his short attention span, Naruto was a surprising fast and eager learner. It was immediately apparent to Itachi how much potential the boy had if someone was willing to put in the time.

It was late one afternoon and Itachi was sitting with Naruto in the grass with a small chalk slate in his lap, helping him with his katakana characters.

"Iruka-sensei says I'm doing better already." Naruto told him proudly.

"That's good. You've been working hard." Itachi replied.

"Yeah, but there's still this one jerk who keeps calling me a loser."

Itachi sighed, wiped the chalk from the slate, and leaned back on his arms, "Some kids are just like that. Don't let them get to you, and don't try to push back. Just prove them wrong later."

"That's what Iruka-sensei said too, but this guy is always calling me names like 'idiot' and 'dead-last'. He says he's gonna be the best in the class for sure, just 'cause his brother's in ANBU and graduated when he was like seven or something."

Itachi paused, "…What's this boy's name?"

"Sasuke. Jerk."

Itachi grimaced. He would have to talk to Sasuke about this. He was always so sweet and well-behaved at home, Itachi would never have guessed he was acting like a bully at school.
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