Categories > Anime/Manga > Naruto > The Guardian

Chapter Fourteen

by SGTBrowncoat 0 reviews

Category: Naruto - Rating: PG-13 - Genres:  - Published: 2014-07-24 - 1225 words - Complete

Chapter Fourteen

The results of the Chunin Exams reached Konoha before the returning candidates did. The list of promotions was posted in the village. It was a fairly short list this year, but right near the top was the name 'Hana Inuzuka'. Itachi smiled; he had known she would make it.

Itachi arranged to be off duty when the exam candidates were expected to return to the village. He and Shisui went to the main gate to wait along with Hana's family. Itachi greeted Hana's mother with a polite nod.

Tsume gave a toothy smile, "You keep getting taller, Itachi, but you're all skin and bones. They feeding you right over there?"

"Well enough, but it looks like Kiba is going to catch up to me soon." Itachi replied.

Kiba grinned and the puppy sitting on his head yapped in apparent agreement.

"And I see you got your ninken. Congratulations." Itachi said to the boy.

"His name's Akamaru. He's real smart."

"Hey." Shisui spoke up, "I think that's them."

As Shisui had said, a large group was approaching the gate. The Hokage and his complement of ANBU guards led the way, followed by the herd of exam candidates who were clearly eager to get home. Friends and family members rushed to greet them, congratulating those promoted and reassuring the rest.

Hana made her way over, grinning widely and was caught in a bear hug by her mother.

"That's my girl! So proud of you, pup!"

"I'm proud of you too, Nee-chan!" Kiba added.

"Thanks, Mom. You too, shrimp." Hana replied, ruffling her brother's hair.

Itachi smirked when she turned to him, "What did I tell you? Nothing to worry about."

"Ah, shut up, Weasel-boy." Hana replied, punching his shoulder.

"Yeah, you'd better be careful, Itachi." Shisui added, "That's not a Genin you're picking on anymore. Just look at that badass Chunin vest."

"Damn straight." Hana agreed.

"How about you two come eat dinner at our place?" Tsume suggested.

"I wish I could, but my patrol shift starts in twenty minutes. Thank you though." Shisui replied.

"How about you, Itachi?"

Itachi smiled, "I'd love to."

After saying goodbye to Shisui, Itachi walked with Hana and her family back to the Inuzuka house. He and Hana stayed outside to keep an eye on Kiba and Akamaru. They sat down together on the front steps watching the seven-year-old try unsuccessfully to teach the puppy to roll over.

"You're either very brave or very stupid." Hana said with a smirk, "You do know that my mom can't cook to save her life, right?"

"That may be true, but it's still more pleasant than dinner at home."

"Still butting heads with your dad?"

"That's not likely to change any time soon. We have very different priorities, and he has made it perfectly clear that he doesn't approve of mine."

"Could be worse. He could have walked out on your family the day you started the Academy." Hana said with obvious disdain for her own father, then shook her head, "Anyway, how are the boys?"

"They are the same as always. They've been asking about you. They want to play with the Brothers again."

Hana smiled, "If it's alright I could try to stop by while you're with them one of these days. Might be kind of hard now that I got promoted though."

"That's true. Your mission load is going to get a lot heavier now." Itachi agreed.

"No kidding. I'm getting reassigned already. I guess there's a recon team that needs a tracker and a medic, and I'm the only one available who's qualified for both."

"You'd be perfect on a recon team."

"Yeah, and I'm looking forward to the assignment, but it still kind of sucks to have to leave my Genin team."

Itachi had to cover a cough before answering, "It happens to us all eventually."

It was not long before Tsume called everyone to the table. Hana's warning about her mother's cooking had been well founded, but the meal was still enjoyable. Tsume, Hana, and Kiba had a kind of warmth that was not easily found in the Uchiha Compound. Itachi sometimes caught himself wishing that he and Sasuke had been born into a different clan.

After dinner, Itachi thanked Tsume for the meal, and Hana walked him to the door.

"Congratulations again, Hana. You deserve it." he told her.

"Thanks. We're not going to get to see each other much now though."

"We'll figure something out. We always do."

Hana thought for a moment, "When do you normally report for work?"

"About 0630. Why?"

"I go for a run at about 0500 starting at the main gate every morning. You should go with me."

Itachi smirked, "You think you can keep up?"

"I take that as a challenge. I will totally smoke you if you dare to show up tomorrow."

"0500 it is then." Itachi said, walking away.

"You'd better be there!" Hana called after him.

Itachi had barely made it a block from the Inuzuka house when a uniform Chunin ran up to meet him. Itachi recognized his as an adjutant of the Third.

"The Hokage wants to speak to you, Captain. He said it's urgent."

"In his office?"

"Yes, sir. I'm sorry, but I don't know what it's about."

"That's alright. Thank you."

Itachi made his way quickly to the Hokage's office. He found Sarutobi practically buried in paperwork and looking grim.

"Captain Uchiha reporting as ordered, Hokage-sama."

Sarutobi put down the scroll he was reading, "I'm sorry to call you in without notice, but I've just received some information I thought you should be aware of. We may have a lead on the masked man."

Itachi's attention was secured, "What kind of lead?"

"We've been getting scattered reports about a group of rogue ninjas who seem to have organized. At this point we know very little about them except that Madara seems to be involved, along with another dangerous man with whom I am very familiar."


"My former student; Orochimaru."

"The Sannin?" Itachi asked, surprised, "He's involved in this?"

Itachi had had a few encounters with the former Leaf shinobi before his defection, and none of them had been particularly pleasant experiences. Itachi had always thought that there was something profoundly disturbing about the man, even before the truth about his experiments came to light. Still, he would not have guessed that he had any connection with the masked man.

"It's hard to say how the two are connected." Sarutobi said, "Our information is very incomplete. But at the very least, we know this isn't good news. It means that Madara has allies, and powerful ones at that. We still don't know what his plans are, or what he wants with the Kyūbi, but if he is involved in the organizing of rogues of the caliber that is being reported, it's probably on a much greater scale than we originally thought.

"Do we have a plan?" Itachi asked.

"We are fighting blind as it stands. For the moment, I have decided to dedicate our resources to gathering as much information as we can. Until we've learned more, there is little else we can do."

"I would appreciate it if you would keep me informed, sir."

"You will be among the first to know if anything significant is uncovered."

Itachi bowed, "Thank you, Hokage-sama."
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