Categories > Anime/Manga > Naruto > The Guardian

Chapter Nine

by SGTBrowncoat 0 reviews

Category: Naruto - Rating: PG-13 - Genres:  - Published: 2014-07-24 - 1303 words - Complete

Chapter Nine

Regardless of how little sleep he had gotten the night before, Itachi was awake before dawn.

It was still dark as he prepared to leave. He normally did not carry his ninjato in the village, but today he ensured it was securely sheathed across his back.

As Itachi was leaving, Sasuke's bedroom door opened.

"Aniki? Are you already leaving?" the boy asked, rubbing his eyes sleepily.

"I'm sorry, Sasuke. You can't go with me today."

"Why not? I want to play with Naruto."

"It's too dangerous today. I'm sorry."


"Go back to bed, Otouto. You don't have many days left to sleep in." Itachi said, poking his forehead gently.

Sasuke nodded groggily and shuffled back to his room.

When Itachi arrived outside Naruto's apartment, he found Kakashi and three other ANBU operatives waiting.

"It's been quiet all night. No sign of your masked man." Kakashi reported, "The four of us will be back here tonight, and another team will be here to back you up today."

"Thank you for doing this, Kakashi-sempai."

"You and the Third aren't the only ones who want to keep him safe." Kakashi replied.

It was only then that Itachi realized that Kakashi had to have known who Naruto's parents were. He was, after all, the Fourth's student.

Kakashi and his team left, replaced by a new team of ANBU operatives. Itachi was alert, suspicious of any movement near the apartment.

"Captain, he's awake." one of his men reported after a few hours.

"Thank you."

Itachi jumped down from his usual post in the tree. He slipped into the apartment through the open window.

"Whoa!" Naruto exclaimed, understandably startled, "What's going on?"

"You need to stay inside today, Naruto. And come to think of it, you should probably keep that window closed from now on."

"Huh? Why?"

"There might be someone in the village who wants to hurt you."

Naruto looked unimpressed, "There's lots of people in the village who want to hurt me."

Unfortunately, Itachi could not argue with that assessment, "Will you just take my word for it?"

"Yeah, I guess. Who is it?"

"We don't really know. We only know that he's dangerous."

"If you don't know who he is, how do you know he wants to hurt me?"

"Because he has tried before; a long time ago, before you can remember." Itachi replied.

Naruto pouted, "I still don't wanna stay inside all day. It's boring."

"We could always work on your academics. School is going to start again soon, and you could still use some help with math."

"I hate math…" Naruto grumbled.

Despite Naruto's reluctance, Itachi eventually managed to coerce him into school work. Naruto sat at the kitchen table, bent over a sheet of paper, tapping a pencil on the table. Itachi could tell he was distracted.

"What's wrong, Naruto?"

"…Why does everyone hate me?" Naruto asked, "The grownups all look at me like I did something wrong, even when I didn't do anything yet. Is it because my birthday is the same day that stupid fox attacked the village? Is it because I remind everybody of that?"

"…In a way." Itachi replied, unable to look the boy in the eye.

"I didn't do anything! It's not fair!"

"You're right. It's not."

There was a long silence as Naruto struggled with an equation, and Itachi wrestled with a problem of his own. He could not help but dwell on the unjustness of Naruto's life. Finally he came to a difficult decision. He knew he would be blatantly disobeying a direct order from the Hokage, but he could not justify hiding from Naruto the very nature of his own existence. He deserved to know the truth. He would find out eventually regardless, and the longer it took, the more the truth would hurt him. Itachi realized, with some shame, that it was exactly what Shisui had been trying to tell him about Hana the day before. Itachi knew that he would likely be demoted at the very least for what he was about to do, but he would accept whatever punishment the Hokage deemed fit.

"Naruto… There's something you need to know." Itachi began, hesitantly.

"I know, I know. I have to carry the one."

"It's not about the math."

"Oh. What then?"

"…I know why people treat you the way they do."

Naruto dropped his pencil, the addition problem forgotten, "Why?"

"I'm sure you've heard the story about how the Fourth Hokage gave his life to fight the Nine Tails. The part they don't tell in the story is that the Fourth couldn't actually destroy it. His only choice was to seal it into a newborn baby. That baby was you."

Naruto looked blank for a long time, "You mean… the Nine Tails… is inside me?"

Itachi nodded, "The Fourth entrusted you with the Kyūbi's power to protect the village. You saved Konoha, Naruto."

Naruto did not answer. He stared, glassy eyed, straight ahead.

"Are you okay?"

"N-Nii-san… A-Am I the Nine Tails?"

"What? No, of course not." Itachi replied, squeezing his shoulder, "You are Naruto Uzumaki, with or without your prisoner."

"But… people in the village think I am, don't they?"

"Some of them do. But I know you'll prove them wrong."

"Why didn't anyone tell me?"

Itachi sighed, "The Third thought it would be best that way. He was trying to protect you. He made it illegal to talk about it. I'm technically breaking the law by telling you."

"So… What do I do now?"

"Now you keep going like you always have. You still want to be Hokage, don't you?"

Naruto's face lit up, "Yeah!"

"Then don't let this stop you. Use it."

"I will be Hokage, Nii-san! Believe it!"

Kakashi arrived at sunset as promised. Itachi pulled his mask back on, and went outside to meet him.

"It was a quiet day, Sempai." he said.

"Nothing to report then?"

"Not exactly..." Itachi replied hesitantly, "…He knows."

"Knows what?"

"What's sealed inside of him. I told him."

Kakashi was silent for a moment, "You know I have to report this to the Hokage."

"Don't bother. That's where I'm going now."

"Why'd you do it?"

"He deserved the truth." Itachi replied simply.

"Fair enough. I hope this doesn't come down too hard on you, kid."

Itachi shrugged, "I guess we'll see."

Once again, Itachi found himself on the Hokage's doorstep.

"Come in." said Sarutobi, motioning for Itachi to sit down, "But please try to keep your voice down. My grandson is asleep in the next room."

"I have to report a failure to obey a direct order, Hokage-sama." said Itachi.

Sarutobi's brow drew together, "Who are you reporting?"

"Myself, sir. I told Naruto the truth about the Kyūbi."

"…I see." the Third sighed, "I can't say this is completely unexpected."

"I won't make excuses and I won't contest whatever punishment you decide is appropriate, sir."

"Very well. You are hereby reprimanded. I expect you back at your post first thing in the morning."

"I-I…Sir… Just an oral reprimand?" Itachi stammered.

"Were you hoping for more?" Sarutobi asked, sounding almost amused, "I ordered you to look out for Naruto's welfare. It seems to me that you have done that to the best of your ability. I would be a poor leader if I punished you for doing something I should have had the courage to do myself years ago. It remains to be seen if you made the right choice, but as far as I am concerned, this matter is closed. That being said, you had best not make a habit of this. There will be severe consequences if you continue to violate orders."

"I understand, sir. It won't happen again."

"Good. As I said, I expect you at your post in the morning."

"Yes, Hokage-sama."
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