Categories > Anime/Manga > Naruto > The Guardian

Chapter Six

by SGTBrowncoat 0 reviews

Category: Naruto - Rating: PG-13 - Genres:  - Published: 2014-07-24 - 1611 words - Complete

Chapter Six

It had been several months since Itachi had begun his assignment as Naruto's bodyguard. He awoke one morning to a day he dreaded. Some might have called it an important day for him, but Itachi would have preferred that it just be forgotten. It was his thirteenth birthday.

Itachi slipped out the Compound early to avoid his family and made his way to his morning post. Captain Arata was on duty when he arrived.

"The Hokage wanted me to send you to his office when you got here. I'm supposed to stay on duty until you get back."

"Do you know what it's about?" Itachi asked, apprehensively.

"Not a clue, but hurry it up. I've been here all night." Arata grumbled.

Itachi rushed to the Hokage's office. He was a bit surprised to find him there so early in the morning. He wondered, not for the first time, when the old man found time to sleep. Itachi bowed respectfully.

"Please, relax. You may remove your mask, as well."

Itachi did as he was instructed, hanging his mask from his belt.

"As I understand it, today is your birthday." Sarutobi began.

Itachi almost winced. The Hokage was the last person he wanted to bring up that subject.

"Yes, sir."

"In that case, happy birthday. Make sure you take some time to celebrate today."

"I'll try, Hokage-sama"

"Somehow I doubt that." Sarutobi said with a knowing smile, "But that is not why I called you here. I've received reports from Naruto's instructors. His grades have improved drastically over the past few months. Even his behavior has become less disruptive. It is clear to me that you are responsible for his turnaround. You've done far more than I could have hoped in such a short amount of time. I'm glad to see that I chose the right person for this assignment."

"Thank you, sir."

"I have decided to appoint you to captain. Captain Arata is retiring, and I want you to assume command of his squad."

Itachi was overwhelmed, "I… I don't know what to say. Thank you, Hokage-sama."

"You've earned it. Keep up the good work, Captain Uchiha."

Despite the dramatic start to the morning, the rest of the day passed normally for Itachi, at least until he was heading home for the evening. About a block from the Uchiha Compound, he felt a rush of air at his back and was suddenly trapped in a by-now-familiar headlock. As always, he was able to escape it easily, but this time was unexpectedly bowled over and pinned by a large gray dog. It barked happily and licked his face.

"Good boy!" Hana's voice praised, "Now, come."

The dog dashed to his master's side, and Shisui helped Itachi to his feet.

"What did I do to deserve and ambush?" Itachi asked grudgingly, dusting himself off.

"Don't play dumb, birthday boy." Hana replied.

"Yep. Come on, Itachi; dinner's on me tonight." added Shisui.

Shisui and Hana practically dragged Itachi through the village. He tried his hardest to act annoyed, but he had to admit that his friends knew him well. They took him to a local restaurant known for their onigiri and dessert dango, two of his favorites. A short while into the meal, he allowed himself to relax, and found himself smiling and laughing as Hana told stories about her Genin team.

"So then the stupid cat latches onto his head, and he's running around screaming for us to get it off. The Haimaru Brothers see it and get all excited, and start chasing him around, barking, which of course just makes the cat dig in even deeper. Finally Komia-sensei gets fed up, knocks us all out cold with a gas bomb, animals included, and just leaves us there while she turns in the damn cat by herself."

Itachi's sides hurt from laughing. As much as he had resisted, it had turned out to be a very enjoyable evening. The three finished their meals slowly and were still laughing amongst themselves as they left the restaurant.

Itachi, Shisui, and Hana stopped just outside the Uchiha Compound gate.

"I want to thank you guys. I had a lot of un tonight." Itachi said.

"Well, it's not quite over yet. You still have to open your present." Hana replied.

"I didn't ask for a present."

"Too bad, you got one anyway." said Shisui, handing him a small box, "It's kind of a collaborative effort. She picked it out, I paid for it."

"One of us makes Jonin pay." Hana said, elbowing him in the ribs.

"I really didn't want anything." Itachi objected.

"Every birthday it's like pulling teeth with you! Just open it, Weasel-boy!" Hana exclaimed.

Itachi reluctantly complied, slipping the box open. Inside was a silver necklace with three loops linked into the chain. It was simple, but it was the simplicity that appealed to Itachi. He liked it very much.

"Wow… Thank you." he said with a smile.

Hana stood up on her toes and kissed his cheek, "Happy birthday, Itachi." he said before waving and heading toward home.

Itachi watched her go until she and the Brothers disappeared around a corner. When he turned back, he found Shisui wearing a smug grin.

"What?" Itachi demanded.

"I knew it. You like Hana."

Itachi rolled his eyes and walked away without a word.

"You can't hide it from me, Itachi!" Shisui called after him, laughing.

Itachi walked into the house, only to find both his parents waiting for him. In his experience, that was rarely a good thing, even on his birthday. He had a bad feeling.

"Where's Sasuke? Did something happen?" he asked, voicing the first fear that came to mind.

"What? He's in bed; he's fine." Mikoto replied, "Sit down, Itachi. We have good news for you."

Itachi seriously doubted that. He sat down, anticipating the worst.

"Son, you've established yourself as a shinobi." Fugaku began, "Now you need to start focusing on the good of the clan."

"Are you going to tell me to transfer to the Police Force?" Itachi guessed.

"No. You are most valuable to the clan in ANBU. This is about the bigger picture, about your future and that of the entire clan. You are my heir, and at some point you will succeed me as the leader of the Uchiha. It is important that you are properly positioned within the clan."

"Would you just tell me what this is about?"

"We've discussed it with the council, and decided on a suitable wife for you. We set up an engagement with Mariko Uchiha."

There was a long silence as Itachi tried to decide if he had misheard.

"…An arranged marriage? This has to be a joke!"

"Don't be dramatic, Itachi. This is the best thing for everyone." Fugaku said, and left the room.

"Mom… you can't be serious about this." Itachi said pleadingly.

"It's not as bad as you're imagining. My engagement to your father was arranged too."

"Yes, and you're the picture of marital bliss." Itachi said sarcastically.

Mikoto gave her son a chastising glare, "You know how important it is to maintain the purity of the bloodline. The Senju failed to do it, and now they're all but extinct. You don't want that to happen to us, do you?" she asked, "Mariko is from an extremely influential family within the clan with a long history of powerful Sharingan."

"Did anyone think to ask if I wanted to marry Mariko? If I even like her?"

"You have lots of time; she'll grow on you. Besides, it wasn't as if you were holding out for someone else, right?"

"I… Maybe I was… I don't know!" Itachi stammered uncharacteristically, too worked up to think straight.

"Oh… I see." sighed Mikoto, "Itachi… Hana is a nice girl, but she isn't right for you. She's genetically inferior, and you know that. You're still young. You'll understand in time. Don't worry. Just remember that it's for the clan."

"Maybe I don't care about the purity of the bloodline. Maybe I don't care about the clan." Itachi snapped.

"You're only saying that because you're angry."

"Well, you're right about one thing. I am angry."

Itachi stormed to his room. He felt the urge to slam to door shut, but he restrained himself. He sat down on his bed, staring at the wall in the dark. He had met Mariko Uchiha once or twice. She was a couple years older than him and a capable kunoichi, but Itachi had not particularly cared for her. He did not see that changing. He had no intention of marrying her. Marriage was not even something he was considering at the moment. Besides being thirteen, he had his own duties to fulfill and they took precedence.

Itachi calmed himself with a few deep breaths so he could think rationally. He knew he would not be expected to marry until he turned eighteen. That was still years away. He decided to deal with the issue when the time came. For now, it would make his life easier if his parents and the rest of the clan believed he had simply accepted it. He decided not to mention any of it to Hana. It would only upset her, and she was not one to keep her mouth shut when she was angry.

Reaching into his pocket, Itachi pulled out the box containing his birthday present. He took out the necklace, and clasped it around his neck. It would be hidden by his high collar, but he still liked having it there. There was a strange satisfaction just knowing how his father would react if he knew where it came from.
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