Categories > Anime/Manga > Naruto > The Guardian

Chapter Twenty-five

by SGTBrowncoat 0 reviews

Category: Naruto - Rating: PG-13 - Genres:  - Published: 2014-07-24 - 1301 words - Complete

Chapter Twenty-five

Itachi watched as Shisui used the fallen rubble to bury his brother. Shisui's right eye was bandaged following the implantation of Obito's Sharingan. Hana had been hesitant to perform the procedure since it was not something she had ever done, but Shisui had insisted that she be the one to do it. It would have been difficult to explain to another medic. Itachi could do nothing to help. Hana had injected him with something that left him artificially paralyzed to prevent him from injuring himself further.

When Shisui had finished, he stared at the makeshift grave for a long time.

"Please… Don't tell anyone who he was." he finally said, "I want people to remember him like we used to, not like this."

"I won't tell anyone if you don't" Hana promised.

Itachi agreed, "No one will know."

"…Thank you."

Hana was hard at work on Itachi. She had healed his lesser wounds with medical ninjutsu, but his more serious injuries would require more care than she could provide in the field. He needed to get back to Konoha.

"Did you find Anko?" Itachi asked.

Hana nodded, "She's back in the tunnel. The Brothers are with her. She's beat up, but she'll be fine. No sign of Orochimaru though."

"Then we need to go."

Hana pulled the collapsible litter from her large med kit and unfolded it.

"You can't be serious." Itachi groaned.

Hana raised an eyebrow at him, "You didn't actually think you were going to walk out of here like this, did you?"

Much to Itachi's chagrin, Hana and Shisui carefully moved him onto the litter and carried him over the rubble, out of the large chamber into the tunnel. There he saw Anko leaning up against the wall surrounded by the Haimaru Brothers. She looked quite a bit worse for wear, but she was awake and on her feet.

"Damn," she commented, "And I thought I got messed up."

"Can you walk?"

"A lot better than you can."

"Then let's go. These tunnels aren't stable."

It had taken the team a day and a half of uninterrupted travel to reach the facility the first time. Now that Itachi was immobile and Anko was injured, their pace was slowed drastically, and rest stops were no longer optional. It would take days to get back to Konoha. The trip was not only excruciatingly painful for Itachi, but a blow to his pride as well. No shinobi, let alone team commander, wanted to be carried home on a stretcher. He wanted to keep his mind as clear as possible, so he refused all but the most basic painkillers.

As the sun set on the first day, the team set up camp near a small stream. They were cautious and did not light a fire that might give away their location. Despite being beyond exhausted, the pain did not allow Itachi to sleep.

Shisui took first watch. He stared out into the darkness, clearly troubled. He had barely said a word since they left the Akatsuki facility. It was unsettling for Itachi to see his normally cheerful cousin this way.

"Are you going to be alright?" Itachi asked him, breaking the silence.

Shisui did not answer for a long time, "…He was going to use a genjutsu on the entire world, take away everyone's free will. We had to stop him, right?"


"But I stopped him by using a genjutsu on him and taking away his free will. Doesn't that make me exactly the same as him?"

Itachi did not know how to answer, "…You did the right thing." he said finally.

"I don't know." Shisui sighed, "I hope so."

"So, are you going to be alright then?"

Shisui offered a weak smile, "Eventually."

Silence blanketed the camp again until Itachi finally asked the question that had been on his mind since the moment he saw Shisui with the bloody pipe in his hand.

"Shisui… Why did you and Hana come back?"

Shisui rubbed the back of his neck, "You told us to find Anko; we did that. Once we knew the rest of the team was alright, we had to go back for you."

"I gave an order."

"Look, Itachi… The man I killed today… that wasn't my brother. The Obito I knew died when he was thirteen. Since then—well even before that, really—you have been my brother. I couldn't leave my brother to die, orders or not. And Hana… well, I really shouldn't have to explain that."

"I'm not happy that you disobeyed a direct order and risked your lives, but… thank you." Itachi said.

"Any time."

By the time the team finally made it back to Konoha, Itachi's condition had worsened. He was fading in and out of consciousness. He was rushed into surgery the moment they passed through the village gates. It was another two days before he woke up. The Third Hokage was waiting when he did.

"I'm glad to see you're awake. Your family has been worried." Sarutobi told him.

"To be honest, sir, I don't think I would mind be unconscious a bit longer." Itachi replied, grimacing at the pain.

"According to the medical staff, your recovery is progressing well. However… they told me something else as well. Why didn't you report your illness when you were first diagnosed?"

"…It wasn't necessary yet, Hokage-sama. I would have reported it immediately as soon as it began to interfere with my duties. It hadn't reached that point yet."

Sarutobi sighed, "You truly possess the Will of Fire, Itachi, but there is more to life than the mission."

"…Please, don't remove me from active status."

Sarutobi looked him in the eye for a long time then sighed, "Very well. If that is what you want."

"Thank you, sir."

"I've already received the reports from the rest of your team, but I am interested to hear yours."

Itachi recounted the mission from beginning to end, but as he had promised Shisui, made no mention of Obito's name.

"Orochimaru escaped, and from what I gathered, the Akatsuki are still a viable threat even without Tobi." Itachi concluded, "Also… there was what Tobi said about Madara. It wasn't completely coherent, but it sounded as if the real Madara Uchiha might still be involved. I don't think this is over yet, Hokage-sama."

"Perhaps not, but you did well. Congratulations on a successful mission."

"Thank you, sir."

Sarutobi stood to leave, but paused at the door and looked back.

"You have my word that I will do everything I can to find some form of treatment for you. You are an invaluable asset to the village, and I consider you a personal friend."

Itachi was speechless. He had no idea how to respond to that.

"Rest and focus on your recovery." Sarutobi continued, "As I recall, you have a graduation to attend soon."

The Hokage left and Itachi settled back in to try to sleep. No sooner had he closed his eyes, he sensed a presence in the room, and they snapped open again. Danzo stood in the doorway.

"You might not have ended up here if you had heeded my advice."

Itachi set his jaw, "I don't need your advice."

"It isn't over; you said it yourself. The threat to the village remains. The time will soon come when you will have to choose."

"Choose what?"

The old man smirked, "You will see."

Without a word of explanation, Danzo departed, leaving Itachi with the same sense of unease that seemed to surround the man.

Over the next several days, Itachi was allowed to leave his bed. The doctors tried to insist that he use a wheelchair at first, but Itachi adamantly refused. He eventually consented to crutches and began the slow process of relearning how to walk.
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