Categories > Anime/Manga > Naruto > The Guardian

Chapter Fifteen

by SGTBrowncoat 0 reviews

Category: Naruto - Rating: PG-13 - Genres:  - Published: 2014-07-24 - 1178 words - Complete

Chapter Fifteen

The next morning, Itachi cut his morning training routine short to meet Hana just as the sun was coming up. He found her just outside the gate.

She grinned, "You actually made it!"

"I said I would. So, what's the route?"

"All the way around the wall and back here. If I beat you, I promise you will never hear the end of it."

"Fine then. You give the signal."

Hana crouched down into a starting position, and Itachi followed suit.

"Ready." Hana began, "Set.."

A devious thought entered Itachi's mind. He smirked and, without waiting, took off running.

"Hey! Cheater!" Hana shouted.

"No one ever said I fight fair!" Itachi called back over his shoulder.

After only a moment, Itachi heard Hana's footsteps approaching rapidly from behind him. She was fast, but Itachi had always been faster. At the mile mark he had a decent lead, but was getting surprisingly winded trying to maintain it. He wondered if Hana had been training. At three miles Hana was gaining, and at five they were neck and neck. The final stretch was not as densely wooded as the rest of the route, but a large pond lay right across the runners' path. Going around it would cost too much time. Itachi channeled his chakra to his feet, easily crossing the water as if it were solid ground. Hana did the same, but her chakra control was not quite what Itachi's was. It slowed her down, just barely, but enough to give Itachi back the lead. He reached the gate just a few seconds before Hana.

Both Itachi and Hana were bent over, panting, trying to catch their breath.

"If you hadn't cheated, I so would have had you." Hana said.

Itachi could not deny that she was right, "You've gotten a lot faster."

"Maybe a little, but not that much. You're getting slow."

A painful cough ripped through Itachi's chest, "I've been a little sick lately."

"Oh yeah, the classic excuse." Hana said, rolling her eyes, "Still, it's been a while since I've run that hard. Think you'll be able to do this more often?"

"As long as nothing comes up, I'll be here whenever I can."

Hana smiled, "Cool. I've gotta get going. I'm meeting my new team this morning."

"And I have to get to work. I'll see you later."

Itachi relieved the night detail as usual and watched over Naruto on his way to school. When classes let out for the day, he met up with Naruto and Sasuke out of sight of the Academy. They were both particularly wound up today. The mid-semester class rankings had come out. Sasuke was at the top of the class with Naruto trailing by a few points. Predictably, that led to both excitement and animosity.

"Just watch, Sasuke; I'm gonna be number one by the end of the year!" Naruto declared.

Sasuke scoffed, "Yeah, right. You still can't even make a clone."

"So what? Those clones are stupid anyway! They don't do anything! I don't need any stupid clones to beat you!"

"You can't control your chakra. Mizuki-sensei even said so."

"Shut up!"

"You shut up!"

The two were about to come to blows when Itachi grabbed them both by the backs of their shirts and separated them.

"If you two are going to keep fighting like this, you're not going to be able to come with me anymore, Sasuke."


"No buts. Both of you had better apologize to each other."

Sasuke and Naruto both crossed their arms and pouted.


"…Sorry." they muttered in unison.

"Close enough." Itachi sighed, "Listen, guys, you're both doing great in school, and I'm proud of you, but remember that class rankings only matter until you graduate. Once you're a Genin, all that will matter is how you perform on missions, and how well you work with your team. If you're only tring to prove that you're better than everyone else, that's bad for the team. Get it?"

"…Yeah." Naruto mumbled.

Sasuke nodded.

The boys continued to mope for a while, but soon it was as if nothing had ever happened.

That evening, Itachi ensured that Naruto and Sasuke both made it home safely before heading to ANBU Headquarters to file his routine paperwork. On his way out, he noticed Kakashi with his own stack of paper. Strangely, he was dressed in a standard Jonin uniform rather than his ANBU uniform.

"Sempai? Is something going on?" Itachi asked, puzzled.

Kakashi shrugged, "Just on my way out. Finishing up my out-processing paperwork."

"You're leaving ANBU?"

"Decided it was time. You've only been in a couple of years now, but you'll see. It wears on you."

"What are you going to do?"

"Don't really know yet. The Hokage wants me to take a Genin team, but… I don't know; we'll see how it works out."

"Well, good luck." Itachi said, extending his hand.

Kakashi returned the handshake, "Same to you. Listen, if something happens and you need an extra hand on your detail, ask for a guy named Tenzo. He's a good man, and I trust him. He'll help you out."

"I'll keep that in mind. Thank you, Sempai."

Itachi was nearly home when he had the misfortune to cross paths with someone he had been avoiding all year: Mariko Uchiha, his fiancée. She was about Itachi's height with shoulder length black hair and the typical coal black Uchiha eyes. She zeroed in on him like a predator.

"You." she growled.

Itachi's combat instincts immediately had him evaluating terrain and identifying escape routes.

"You have been dodging me for months." Mariko accused, "Well, now I've finally got you cornered, and you're going to stand there and listen to me whether you like it or not. I know you don't want to marry me. Well, don't flatter yourself, because I'm not exactly thrilled with the idea either."

"Nice to see you too, Mariko." Itachi muttered sarcastically.

"I know you're supposed to be head of the clan someday, but only because your daddy is. Well, the clan could do a hell of a lot better than the Hokage's goddamn lapdog, and so can I. If you think that I am going to lower myself to going through with the council's idiotic decision, you're sorely mistaken."

"You can relax. I have no intention of going through with it either. You can save the argument for someone whose opinion matters."

"Good, we agree. You can go back to ignoring me then." Mariko said, turned on her heel to walk away, but then glanced back, "Oh, and one other thing. Everyone knows about your little 'thing' for Dog Breath. I couldn't care less, but you might want to make it a little less obvious if you want your parents to think you're okay with the engagement."

Itachi continued toward home, shaking his head. He gave a polite greeting to his parents before going to his room and closing the door. He was exhausted. He wondered if perhaps he was pushing himself too hard in his training.
Sign up to rate and review this story