Categories > Anime/Manga > Naruto > The Guardian

Chapter Eight

by SGTBrowncoat 0 reviews

Category: Naruto - Rating: PG-13 - Genres:  - Published: 2014-07-24 - 1290 words - Complete

Chapter Eight

It was near the end of the Academy's month-long break, and one of Itachi's rare days off. He was spending the day just wandering the village with Shisui and Hana. The marketplace was always interesting this time of year. Merchants from all over the Land of Fire, and some from foreign countries, set up shop in Konoha during the summer.

"Hey, check out that blown glass art from the Land of Wind." Hana pointed out, "That blue and red one is so cool looking."

"Yeah, it's pretty cool." Shisui replied, "But the merchant's a Sand spy."

"And not a very good one." Itachi agreed.

"What? No way. How can you tell?"

"That head-wrap he's wearing is to cover up the tan line from a headband. The calluses on his fingers are something you usually see on someone who handles shuriken often. He's staring at every uniformed shinobi who walks by, but barely paying any attention to his own customers, and he obviously knows almost nothing about what he's selling." Itachi explained, "He's definitely a spy, but he's pretty terrible at it."

"Shouldn't we report him or something?" asked Hana.

"No need." Shisui replied, "ANBU's already watching him. Can't you smell them?"

"There's like a million people on this street. You think ANBU all have the same scent or something?"

"Well, you seem to be able to sniff out Itachi from a mile away."

"That's because he's Itachi, not because he's ANBU, idiot." Hana said, playfully shoving him.

"Hey! Respect your elders, kid!" Shisui exclaimed jokingly.

"You're almost eighteen and your best friends are a couple of thirteen-year-olds. What does that say about you?" Hana teased.

"Whoa, that's how it's gonna be, huh? Itachi, are you going to let her talk to your favorite cousin like that?"

"I don't know… She does have a point, old man." Itachi replied.

"The things I put up with for you two!" Shisui sighed with a melodramatic flourish.

Before long, Hana had to leave. She had a mission early the next morning to prepare for.

"So, are you ever going to tell her about Mariko, or are you just going to keep stringing her along?" Shisui asked as he and Itachi continued to walk through the streets.

"I'm not 'stringing her along'."

"Then what do you call it? You know she likes you, and even if you like her too, you're marrying Mariko. By not telling her, you're letting her think you guys might have a chance when you know you're marrying someone else."

"I'm not marrying that girl. I thought I made that clear."

"Mariko isn't that bad you know."

"Then why don't you marry her?" Itachi asked shortly, disliking the direction of this conversation.

"Because nobody expects me to be head of the clan someday. I get why you don't want to go through with it, but what choice do you have?"

"I have five years to figure that out."

Shisui sighed, running a hand through his hair, "Good luck with that. I hope you find a way out of it, but I still think you need to tell Hana the truth before she gets hurt."

"I'll tell her when it's relevant." Itachi replied.

Once the sun began to go down, Itachi and Shisui headed home. They were not far from the Compound when Itachi caught a glimpse of something that struck him as strange. A man dressed completely in black stood in the shadows nearby. His face was hidden by an orange mask. Masks were not uncommon in Konoha, but this one was unusual, it had only one eye hole. Itachi did not know exactly why, but something about the man gave him a very, very bad feeling. He stopped in his tracks.

"What are you doing?" Shisui asked.

Itachi glanced over at his cousin for just an instant. When he looked back, the stranger was gone.


"Did you see that guy?" Itachi asked.

"What guy?"

"He was standing right over there. It was a guy in an orange mask."

"I didn't see anything. You think he was up to something?"

"I'm not sure… I just get the feeling I need to report it."

"I usually go with my gut on stuff like that. Want me to go with you?" Shisui offered.

"No, it's alright. I'll do it myself."

Shisui nodded and started toward the Compound, "See you later, Itachi. And be careful."

Itachi turned back toward the village by himself. He was anxious as he walked, hyper vigilant, and could not explain why. He was not sure what it was about the man, but even at a distance he had left a powerful impression of darkness that put Itachi on edge. Even more disturbing was that there had been something strangely familiar about him. Itachi could not place it, nor could he shake the feeling.

Itachi knew it was too late for the Hokage to be in his office. He was hesitant to bother him at home, but since he had no other commanding officer, there was no one else to whom he could report the incident, and his gnawing instinct urged him on. He knocked on the front door of the Hokage's residence.

"Itachi?" Sarutobi asked, surprised.

"Forgive me for intruding, Hokage-sama." Itachi said with a bow.

"Come in. Is something wrong?"

Itachi was not quite sure how to relay what he had seen, or more accurately, what he had sensed.

"I saw something tonight, and I'm not entirely sure why, but I felt like I needed to report it immediately."

"What was it?"

"A man I didn't recognize dressed in black; average height, average build, with black hair. He was wearing a strange mask. It only had one eye hole."

Sarutobi visibly paled, "…You're sure about that? Only one?" he asked, sounding as if he had seen a ghost.

"Yes, sir. That was the one detail that stood out. Does that mean something to you?"

Sarutobi seemed to skirt the question, "What was he doing? What made it seem so urgent to you?"

"To be honest, I only saw him standing there, and he was gone when I looked again. I can't really explain it, he just felt… dark. I don't know how else to phrase it. No one has ever given me that feeling so strongly before. What is so significant about the one-eyed mask, sir?"

Sarutobi sat down, steepling his fingers before him, "That is the one detail we know about the man who orchestrated the Kyūbi's attack on the village."

Itachi tensed, only one thought on his mind, "I need to get to Naruto."

"No." Sarutobi said quickly, "Go home and rest."

"But, sir, if this is really the same man and he is back in the village, then his target-"

The Hokage cut him off, "I will ensure that Naruto's security is increased tonight, but I need his bodyguard to be at his best tomorrow."

"…Yes, sir." Itachi answered reluctantly.

"You don't have to worry. I am going to assign Kakashi Hatake to command tonight's security detail. He will be safe."

That did help to ease Itachi's mind, "Thank you, Hokage-sama."

"You obviously understand that this development means you must be on high alert from now on."

"Yes, sir. I won't let this man anywhere near Naruto."

"Of that I am sure."

Though Itachi knew he needed his rest as the Hokage had ordered, he had difficulty sleeping that night. There was a very good chance that the man he had seen that evening was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Leaf shinobi and civilians, and had attempted to kill Naruto just moments after his birth. Now he was loose in the village. Would he bring another tragedy with him?
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