Categories > Anime/Manga > Naruto > The Guardian

Chapter Eleven

by SGTBrowncoat 0 reviews

Category: Naruto - Rating: PG-13 - Genres:  - Published: 2014-07-24 - 1203 words - Complete

Chapter Eleven

It was late at night and Itachi was in the ANBU records room. He had spent every free moment scouring every historical document he could find in the village records and the Uchiha clan's own archives, looking for something—anything—that could explain Madara Uchiha's apparent return. So far he had found little that he did not already know, and nothing helpful. Frustrated, Itachi closed the last of the scrolls he had set aside and rubbed his temples. He stood up to leave, only to break into a painful coughing fit. It was not the first time such an episode had occurred since he left the hospital. He did not think much of it; he had most likely contracted a minor virus due to the strain on his body.

"An odd time of night to be studying, isn't it?" a voice asked from the door.

Itachi turned to find an aged man standing in the doorway. He was slightly hunched and walked with a cane. His right arm was completely wrapped in bandages, and he had an x-shaped scar on his chin. Any member of ANBU would recognize Danzo Shimura. He was a village elder, one with a keen interest in ANBU.

"This is the only time I have, Danzo-sama."

"You know me, do you?"

"Of course."

"I presume you are searching for an explanation for what transpired five days ago."

"…Something like that, sir."

"You won't find it here, or in your clan's records for that matter. I am confident that no such simple answer exists, but it is not history you need in any case, it is power. You were soundly defeated by that man. Do you truly believe that you will ever be able to challenge him in your present state?"

"I won't be taken by surprise next time. I'll be stronger. I'll train until I can face him on equal terms."

"Admirable, but ultimately futile," Danzo said, "You could train for a lifetime and never reach that level. However, you do have the unique potential to match his power if you are willing to make the sacrifices and do what is necessary."

"I took that oath a long time ago. I am willing to do whatever is necessary to protect the village." Itachi replied firmly.

"You say that now, but I wonder if you will be so adamant when you learn what that really means. Your cousin Shisui had already paid the price and reached the next level. I am interested to see if you will follow suit. If that time comes, come see me." Danzo turned to leave, but paused and looked back over his shoulder, "Keep in mind, Itachi; I can be a powerful ally, but a dangerous enemy."

Itachi was left alone in the records room with the sinking feeling that he had just been drawn into yet another situation he knew nothing about. What did Shisui have to do with any of this, and how was he connected to Danzo? He was away on a mission at the moment, so Itachi would not be able to ask him about it until he returned. Just one more frustration to add to the growing list.

Before returning home, Itachi stopped by Naruto's apartment to check on the night detail. There had been no progress in locating the three men who had gone missing the day of Madara's attack. Itachi hated to admit it, even to himself, but he knew they were dead. Technically, the mission had been a success—Naruto was alive, after all—but as a captain, Itachi was responsible, not only for the mission objectives, but the safety of his subordinates as well. Despite the Third's assurances, he could not help but feel that the deaths of those three shinobi were on his hands. Leadership was a heavier responsibility than he had initially realized.

Itachi found one of his operatives on the roof of Naruto's building.


"All clear, sir. No incidents." replied the young man whose mask resembled a raccoon.

"Are you doing alright?"


"Are you doing alright?" Itachi repeated, "You have three comrades who are missing, presumed dead. That has to have an effect on you."

"This is what we're trained for, sir. It isn't the first time I've lost friends. I'll be fine."

Itachi nodded, "If you need anything, let me know."

"…Thank you, Captain."

Itachi made his way home where he tried to get some sleep in the few hours before he had to be up again. His mind was still spinning, trying to make sense of his encounter with Danzo Shimura. What had he meant by 'reaching the next level'? How did Shisui fit in? And what interest did Danzo have in the situation to begin with? He was well known for his extreme views on how the village should be run, and it was whispered that he and Sarutobi did not see eye to eye. Even so, why would he feel it necessary to meet with Itachi in such a clandestine manner? Then there were his parting words. Itachi knew a threat when he heard one, and Danzo had not even tried to veil it. Itachi hated politics, but it seemed he was doomed to be drawn into them.

The next morning, Itachi reported to his usual post. The detail had been reduced to only Itachi and one other operative, but he was fairly confident that the masked man would not be returning any time soon. Not confident enough, however, to consider letting down his guard. He instructed his subordinate to make a sweep of the route from the apartment to the Academy while Itachi stayed behind to wait on their charge.

When Naruto left for school, Itachi kept a close eye on him from the trees and rooftops. In the past, he had often walked part of the way with him when it was unlikely he would be seen; now however, he was reluctant to give up his overwatch position, even knowing that backup was close at hand.

Naruto reached the Academy without incident. Itachi saw him wave to Sasuke who quickly ran over to meet him. Sasuke still carried the whistle Itachi had given him, and it was a bit reassuring to know that he could signal Itachi if anything were to happen to either of them. Both Naruto and Sasuke had taken their encounter with the masked man seriously. They had been training nearly as tirelessly as Itachi himself, each of them pushing the other hard. It was easy to see that they were both on their way to becoming powerful shinobi in their own right. Sasuke had the natural skill for which the Uchiha clan was famous, and Naruto had the enormous chakra capacity of the Kyūbi and the determination to match. Itachi could only hope that it was enough to keep them safe when the time came that he no longer could.

This chapter is dedicated to a great man who mentored me during an important part of my life. He taught me what right looks like, what it means to be a leader, and how to be an NCO. Thanks for everything, Sergeant Major B., this one's for you.
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