Categories > Anime/Manga > Naruto > The Guardian

Chapter Seventeen

by SGTBrowncoat 1 review

Category: Naruto - Rating: PG-13 - Genres:  - Published: 2014-07-24 - 1631 words - Complete

Chapter Seventeen

Itachi had managed to avoid his medical exam for several days, but now it was his day off and he had no excuse. He reluctantly made his way to the hospital, in no hurry to get there. Along the way, he passed Kakashi on the street. They acknowledged each other with a nod, but did not speak. Itachi had heard that Kakashi had been assigned a Genin team from each of the graduating classes since he left ANBU, and had sent every single one of them back to the Academy.

Despite dragging his feet, Itachi did eventually make it to the hospital and was shown to an exam room. There he was poked, prodded, and generally subjected to everything that made him hate hospitals in the first place.

"We'll run some tests, but at your age, I doubt it's anything too serious." the doctor assured him after the exam, "Just make sure you are getting enough rest."

"I'll try." Itachi lied as he rushed out the door.

Itachi was all too happy to get back to work the next day, but that was not to be. It was late afternoon, and Itachi was helping Sasuke and Naruto with their taijutsu when another member of his team appeared.


"You're off duty. What are you doing here?" Itachi asked.

"I was sent to relieve you, sir. You're needed at the hospital immediately."

That certainly did not bode well. What could possibly have come up that required his immediate response at the expense of his mission?

Itachi was understandably anxious as he sat in the waiting room, but managed not to show it. The harsh smell of antiseptic seemed even stronger today, and it was no help for raw nerves. Finally, he was called into yet another exam room. The same doctor who had spoke to him the day before greeted him, but today he looked grim.

"You should sit down." he advised.

Itachi's jaw tightened, "I'll stand."

The doctor sighed, "I really hate to say this... especially to someone so young…"

"Just tell me."

"I've run every test I can think of, just to be sure. You have a rare form of anemia. You're the only case I've seen of this type. You've already reported some of the symptoms; fatigue, weakness, chest pain. You might start to experience headaches and dizziness soon. The fact that you're coughing up blood means that it is an extremely advanced case, and… I'm sorry, but it's terminal."

Itachi felt like he had been clubbed over the head, "…When you say terminal…"

"Most forms of anemia can be treated, but this form is tied to another deficiency in your bone marrow. There is no treatment yet. It isn't a fast moving condition, but it is completely established in your body. I'd estimate that you have another four years before it reaches lethality, five if you don't strain yourself and you're very, very lucky."

"Would it have made a difference if it had been caught earlier?" Itachi asked, now regretting his stubborn refusal to see a doctor.

"I very much doubt it. The condition is irreversible, and rare enough that I'm not certain we could have identified it much earlier."

"How did this happen? Is it contagious, genetic, or…"

"From what little we know, it seems that susceptibility to the disease is genetic, but it takes a very specific set of circumstances for it to take hold. In your case, it was probably a combination of physical trauma, exhaustion, and a weakened immune system. I can prescribe medication for the pain and to help keep your lungs clear, but it will only make you more comfortable, nothing more. We might be able to extend your prognosis by a month or two with regular blood transfusions, but I really can't say how effective it will be. Again, I'm very sorry."

Itachi walked home in a fog. It all felt completely surreal. He was only seventeen, one of Konoha's strongest shinobi, and now he was going to die like this?

"Oh, you're home early." Mikoto greeted cheerfully as Itachi walked in the door.

"…Yeah." he replied distantly.

Mikoto's smile faded, "What's wrong?"

"Is Dad here?"

"He just got home too. Why?"

"I need to talk to you both."

With his parents seated in front of him, Itachi struggled to find the words he needed.

"…I don't know if you've noticed this, but I've had a pretty bad cough for a while now. I finally saw someone about it, and… the news wasn't good. I'm dying."

Complete silence followed. Neither Fugaku nor Mikoto seemed able to react.

Itachi continued, "It's some form of anemia, and there is no cure. They say I have, at most, five years to live. I guess five years isn't that bad… I never really expected to live all that long anyway… I don't know how bad I'm going to get before… before it's time, but…"

Mikoto suddenly cut off his rambling by throwing her arms around her eldest son, sobbing. To Itachi's surprise, he felt tears beginning to sting his own eyes as well. He could not remember the last time he had cried.

"It's going to be alright, Mom." he said, trying to sound as confident as he could.

When Mikoto had recovered from the initial shock, Itachi had a request for his parents.

"Please don't Sasuke about this, at least not yet. He has enough to worry about with graduation coming up. He doesn't need to be distracted. I'll tell him afterward."

"Are you sure?" Fugaku asked somberly.

"I'm sure. Please."

"We won't tell him." Mikoto promised.

"Thank you." Itachi sighed, "I'm going to my room. I just… need to think for a while."

"Wait." Fugaku said, catching him by the arm, "I know I never really said it, but I do love you, Itachi. I hope you never doubted that."

Itachi's throat tightened, "…I love you too." he barely managed to croak.

Itachi closed his bedroom door, sat down on his bed, and buried his face in his hands. It had been a perfectly normal day when he woke up that morning; now, all of a sudden, he was facing his own mortality. Being prepared to die was an unspoken requirement among shinobi, particularly in ANBU, but this was not the kind of death Itachi had expected. There was no enemy to fight, no lives to save, no greater purpose his death would serve. He was going to die pointlessly, doing no good to anyone.

Despite Itachi's earlier desire to be alone, the silence suddenly felt smothering. He had to get out and do something. He climbed out a window, unwilling to face his parents again. He wandered for a bit, eventually finding himself outside the Military Police Headquarters. He headed inside, giving a nod to the desk sergeant as he passed by.

Shisui was in his office. His desk was littered with unfinished paperwork, but he seemed more interested in flinging pencils at the ceiling.

"Busy?" Itachi asked, leaning against the doorframe.

Shisui jumped, startled, but then grinned, "Hey. Yeah, I'm very busy trying not to be busy."

"So I see. Do you think you have time for a quick sparring match, or are you booked solid with all your procrastinating?"

"Now that you mention it, I could use a break."

Itachi and Shisui walked to the Police Force's private training field behind the headquarters building. They took a few minutes to stretch out, then took up positions facing each other.

"Taijutsu only, right?" asked Shisui.


Itachi made the first move, charging in recklessly. Shisui, not expecting such an aggressive move from his usually cautious cousin, was a split second too slow in reacting. He escaped a direct blow, but Itachi got a hold on his flak vest, pulling him down into a knee strike. The impact of the blow sent Shisui reeling back a few paces, but he recovered quickly and moved to counter-attack. He closed the distance and swung a series of lighting fast punches. Itachi could not block one of the jabs, and it caught him on the chin. Despite being dazed, he saw an opening, ducked the last punch and tackled Shisui to the ground. Neither of the cousins were grapplers and Shisui was the larger of the two, but Itachi had the initiative and quickly maneuvered him into a shoulder lock.

"Okay! I give! I give!" Shisui exclaimed.

Itachi stood up and helped Shisui to his feet.

Shisui groaned and rubbed his shoulder, "What's with you today, man? I've never seen you fight that aggressively. Did I do something to piss you off?"

"No, it's nothing like that." Itachi sighed, "Shisui… do you ever wonder about how you're going to die? I mean… do you think you'll live to old age, or…"

"Well… I don't really think about that stuff. I guess the odds are definitely in favor of going out in combat. There aren't a whole lot of old shinobi, you know?" Shisui replied, "Are you alright? You're acting kind of weird. Weirder that usual anyway."

Itachi did not answer for a long time. He was still emotionally drained from giving the news to his parents, and did not think he wanted to do it again. Shisui was his best friend. He did not want him to look at him differently or feel like he had to walk on eggshells around him. Finally, he gave up.

"It's nothing. Just had a bad day."

"You sure? Must have been one hell of a bad day."

"Don't worry about it. I should let you get back to avoiding your job."

Shisui did not look convinced, "…Alright, if you say so. You know you can always talk to me if something's up, right?"

"Yeah, I know."
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