Nadia Fan Fiction ❯ Shinobi Canon, Insanity ❯ Before Insanity ( Chapter 1 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Disclaimer: Iruka, Mizuki, Kakashi, and all other characters, belong to Masashi Kishimoto. Even if I somehow forgot that I just created a character, heck, I'm giving it t' him also! No strings attached!!! Disclaimer applies to all chapters.
This is set five years ago, a few months before Itachi goes berserk and goes on a genocidal spree. Iruka is 20, Itachi is 12, Sasuke is 7.
Warning: Implied Iruka x Itachi. Iruka x Mizuki. Iruka x Kakashi ah! Fanfiction's so great, isn't it!
Ninja Canon Insanity
By Turin
Chapter One:
Before Insanity Takes Over
Lately, Iruka has been having butterflies. He can't concentrate on anything. That's really not conducive to health especially if your job description itself was hazardous. In fact there's a clause there stating `ability to hold one's cool and dodge blunted kunai thrown with vindictive boredom” was adamant to survival. Sighing, he looked at the view outside his apartment window. But, with his teaching salary, all he got was a cheap room overlooking a dead-end alley.
Experience told him not to ignore his intuition… but…
What was there to worry about?
“I'm home…”
Iruka started at the sound of the voice. He never felt anything until he saw the tired-looking person hunched on the table, inspecting what food there was to eat.
The young Uchiha gave him a customary nod. Never mind that he was five years younger, Iruka could only imagine how strong the boy was. Graduated from the academy at eight years old, and just a few months ago, became a jounin. Heck, he'd probably go to ANBU Captain in just a few months.
Compared to him, Iruka knew that he had no special talent to speak of. He was just an average gennin who became an even more average chuunin. He harbored no false hope that he would become jounin, or be able to handle those awful A-class missions that they must take. So, he went for the most logical recourse.
He applied for a teaching position in the Academy as soon as one opened. Maybe because he was neither a good nor smart student, he knew how to make learning easier for the slower ones. He's taught a few geniuses already, most of them from the more established clans. Compared to missions of assassinations, he'd prefer this simple life. Seeing them all blossom under his tutelage was enough reward. Though some might think he's weak, it took a special kind of courage and insight to love and guide children who were set on such a difficult journey in life.
“You aren't going home? Your dad must be worried about you,” Iruka tried to sound upbeat as he walked towards Itachi. He placed his hands on Itachi's shoulder, immediately feeling the jutting shoulder blades, noticing how his uniform seemed to hang on his thin frame.
“Long mission, supplies ran out. Been eating bugs, lizards and everything else,” Itachi lazily explained. Stabbing his kunai in the canned tuna, and using this as a can opener, he dumped the contents unto a large serving of rice.
“Ah…” Iruka knew better than to pursue the matter. Itachi… has been having trouble with his family, though he knew this more from what he inferred, and not from what he's been actually told. Itachi was a closed book, and what he felt, he mostly kept inside.
He sat facing Itachi, waited for the boy to finish his meal.
Maybe, if he was lucky, the boy would be in the mood to talk. God knows he's been lonely without him. Sick, even, of worrying if he was coming back.
“Ah.. y-yes!”
Iruka's surprise was dampened by confusion.
Itachi sighed; he could read the older man so easily. “Why do you let me stay?”
“What?” He didn't understand what Itachi meant. There were reasons. Lots of reasons. He liked the kid. He pitied the kid. He was intrigued. He was lonely. But he couldn't really tell any of that, can he?
“What do you want from me?” Itachi's voice was as cold as a kunai's blade, but if one listened carefully, there was pain hidden beneath the ice.
Iruka sensed this. For all his strength and skill, Itachi was still only 12. What did it feel like never to have a childhood? To bear responsibility at such a young age? Iruka lifted the boy's chin, gently making eye contact with him. It is uncanny to see eyes as dark as this, like ebony or night incarnate, so dark that it swallowed everything, and he couldn't even see his own reflection.
“Itachi…” he tried to make his voice as warm as possible, but what could he say? That not everyone wanted him for his bloodline limit. Not everyone coveted his genius. Not everyone wanted him for a mission. “I'm your friend.”
Itachi's black pupils quivered imperceptibly.
* * *
Birds screeched angrily as the kunai invaded their hiding ground. Breathing heavily, Iruka wiped the sweat off with his sleeves and flopped gracelessly on the grass. Even though he was not required to take missions anymore, he still trained regularly in order not to lose his edge.
“ah… that would be it…” gingerly, he gathered his training equipment: four 150 lb weights for his limbs, a dozen kunais, a dozen shurikens, some low-level exploding notes, and some scrolls he planned on studying (planned).
Lugging them all in one carrying bag, he walked back to the village.
Three mud-coloured stains marred the fresh valley grass.
That's weird, he thought, considering that it hasn't rained in days…
Crouching to take a better look, Iruka prodded the discoloration with a piece of twig he found laying around. He easily lifted a bit, the matter crumbling like cereal flakes, instead of being smeared like mud normally does. Either that mud was rich in iron, or it's another substance altogether. Like dried blood. That sent alarm bells a-ringing in Iruka's mind.
He couldn't decipher anything else without better equipment. Senses heightened, he scanned the surroundings for anything out of the ordinary. He couldn't find any other stains. He was lucky since this one fell on fresh green grass. If it fell on soil, it would've been easily absorbed by the parched ground.
A piece of black string was caught in the bushes. Part of his suspicions was confirmed. Someone injured passed here.
Should I report this to the sentry? I probably should, if he's an enemy shinobi. But what if he's from Konoha and he's injured?
Finally deciding that the village would have more to lose from the death of a highly trained jounin or chuunin than a school teacher, Iruka removed the training weights from his arms and legs and checked his kunai and shuriken holster. Taking a deep breath, he made his way to the forest.
He found some more patches here and there. His heart beat wildly. This uncertainty was what he hated most in situations like this. Gambling with his life when he had two reasonable choices. Not having any hope of knowing the right answer, before that final revelation, where one dies or lives…
After a few minutes of tracking, he finally found what he was searching for.
Cleverly hidden under foliage and a cleverly simulated spider web, lay an injured ANBU.
It took a whole lot of will power to stop from trembling. How the ANBU managed not to bleed a torrent before reaching this hideaway was beyond him. From the looks of it, the elite shinobi has been critically injured, his blood a vermillion pool at the bottom of the trench. His mask seemed to have saved him a few times from shuriken and kunai. His ebony uniform was torn in so many places, that at some parts it seemed nothing more than hastily combined rags.
Iruka proceeded carefully. Yes. The shinobi was so weak that he emitted no discernible chakra. Only his shallow breathing told Iruka he was still alive. But this was still an ANBU, the best of the best, and even near death, he was still capable of killing Iruka.
The prospect of meeting enemy shinobi seemed much safer now…
“I'm Umino Iruka, shinobi of Konoha. You're safe now”, he whispered, trying to infuse as much comfort into his tone. Did the ANBU understand him? “I'm here to help, but first, I have to get you out of there…”
Saying a short prayer to the gods that he would not be decapitated on contact, Iruka removed the camouflage.
The man was deathly still, almost like a sack of rice, as Iruka gently lifted him out of the foxhole.
It surprised him that he was so young. He was so waiflike, that it was hard to imagine how so much power could be contained in such a small body. Even after training, Iruka could lift him out easily.
Laying him flat on the ground, he checked the boy's condition. All shinobis were trained in rudimentary medicine and first aid, enough to treat comrades in battle. His training kicked into place as he felt the man's body for injuries.
He probably has a broken leg and a dislocated shoulder. A head wound (that would explain the bleeding), numerous scratches, a tender belly (internal injuries). No apparent neck or back injuries. But one could never be sure.
“I'm going to brace you now with my chakra,” explained Iruka. “It'd probably sting, but you'd be fine, okay?”
The boy's body glowed momentarily as Iruka sent a few tendrils of his chakra into him. Properly restrained, he could now take him to the hospital where he could be treated for his injuries. Carefully, he lifted the boy. Sending chakra on his feet to propel themselves, he leapt to Konoha's well-traveled highway canopy.
Iruka didn't dare travel as fast as he normally would. Feeling blood soak into his vest and uniform, he had the horrible feeling that even if he was careful, he would fail in bringing the jounin in one piece. It was disconcerting to see an ANBU in such condition. The few times he'd seen them, they were just blurs of weapon and chakra.
For all their power, they're still human after all.
The boy moaned. Iruka stopped, afraid that he might have injured him further (and readied himself in case the jounin decided to kill him).
“W-where am I?” The voice was flaky and deep from disuse. Iruka was a little confused as he wasn't used to talking to a mask.
“You're safe in Konoha, shinobi-san. My name is Umino Iruka, chuunin-rank.”
The ANBU nodded and relaxed, visibly relieved. Suddenly, violent coughs racked his body. A slight trickle of blood flowed down his chin.
Iruka's eyes widened. “I have to get you to the hospital! Please hold on much longer!”
All worries of causing the jounin more pain were dispelled. If he did not go quicker, he'd be carrying a dead ANBU. Protectively, Iruka clutched the boy closer to his body.
“No… hospitals…” the boy murmured, his body shaking from the effort.
“W-What?” Iruka stuttered. Not believing what he heard.
The ANBU shook his head. “No one must know that I arrived already,” he explained slowly, pausing once in a while to catch his breath. “Only the Hokage…” and he promptly lost consciousness again.
No hospitals? What the hell was he going to do then? Indecision made Iruka stop. Leaving the boy behind was out of the question, but disregarding order specifics, especially high-level ones went against his training as well. Finally, seeing no recourse, he retraced his path back to the clearing, into the other direction.
* * *
Iruka coughed.
Itachi cleared the table.
“Really had a busy day today at the academy. Your brother's starting school now. I'm really excited. He must be as talented as you, y'know. I can't wait to become his teacher,” Iruka scratched his nose nervously, a little embarrassed at his eagerness. But, really, it was an opportunity to see the sharingan at work. The first time he heard that Uchihas have a bloodline limit that allowed them to copy any jutsu, his reaction was, `No way! Get outta here!' but since many shinobis swore that it was true, particularly colleagues who had their Jutsus thrown into their faces by some Uchiha kids, he badly wanted to see one in action. “Oh, I'm sorry, I'm blabbing again, Itachi-kun. How about you? How was your day?”
Itachi piled the dishes in the sink.
“Maa-maa, don't do that!” Iruka ran to the counter and took the sponge from Itachi's hand. “You're my guest, you just relax on the couch!”
He couldn't guess what Itachi was thinking with that blank look he was giving him. But whatever it was, at least the boy complied and obeyed without any fuss. He really wouldn't be able to do anything if Itachi insisted.
“I can't tell you.”
Iruka shrugged. He's used to Itachi's silence. He knew how stressful being an ANBU was. His parents were both. After a hard mission, they usually begged for a few days leave, but not Itachi. The boy just soaked up missions, either as a jounin or as ANBU. He didn't understand what the boy needed the money for. The Uchihas were an established clan, and he, coming from the main family must have a large stash of inheritance.
“Hai?” Iruka glared at the stubborn dried rice that has stuck at the bottom of the pot. He really should've put water in it.
“Can I stay over again?”
Itachi looked at him, shyly almost. He could almost hear what he was thinking, I understand if you don't want me here, so it's all right if you say no.
Iruka smiled.
“Of course you can.”
* * *
It felt like he was running for hours.
Breathing slightly deeper, Iruka opened his window and carefully slid the ANBU inside. He crumpled to the floor as if he had no bones in his body.
Ah God, is he still alive? .
Hastily, Iruka smoothed out his bed.
“I'm sorry, shinobi san, just a little bit patience… , he gently laid out the boy on the bed. First part of the mission was done. What now? He had to treat what wounds he could manage safely. “Shinobi-san, I'm going to clean your wounds so I have to remove your uniform.” Iruka paused, wondering if he had the jounin's assent. The boy simply lay quietly.
Rushing to the kitchen, he prepared some warm water. On hindsight, he added a dash of guava leaves to help as antiseptic. Then, he ran back to his bedroom. He took a kunai from his holster, and praying that the ANBU understood, he carefully slitted the shinobi's uniform. Normally, that would've been difficult, but since it was apparent that his enemies have been busy at work, it was fairly easy to finish what they have started. The fabric easily gave way, parting neatly in the middle. Iruka lifted the boy slightly and slid the remnants of the uniform off the body.
A network of scars told the story of the ANBU's life. Iruka cringed at the bittersweet memories the sight brought back. When his parents were still alive, he used to treat their injuries like this.
No… concentrate, he needs you.
There were multiple large bruises on the chest and stomach, and here, Iruka carefully sent his chakra to check for any internal injuries. There was thankfully none. He'd have to return the dislocated shoulder back to the socket. This is something best quickly done with. Iruka braced the boy's body on the bed with his left hand, and with his right, forcefully shoved the bone back.
Ngh!” the ANBU writhed in pain, his breath, suddenly quickening. Iruka also cried out in pain as iron-hard fingers clamped unto his arm. For a moment, Iruka grew afraid for his life, but after a few heart-stopping minutes, the boy relaxed again. “G-go on…” he whispered.
Iruka dipped a woolen cloth on the basin and proceeded to gently clean the wounds. He wasn't done with the torso yet, when he had to run back to the kitchen to prepare a new batch of herbal water. The first batch was already red.
When he returned, the ANBU was sleeping soundly.
Iruka slit the pants now, exposing a particularly nasty gash on the right leg. Cleaning it again, he stitched the wound to help it heal faster. Grabbing his yukata, he dressed the boy quickly lest he get cold. He looked much younger now wearing a yukata about three sizes larger. Iruka lifted the sheets to warm the youth further.
Iruka wished that he could at least leave the mask on, since even among villagers, the identity of ANBU members were confidential. But he saw no other choice. Blood was already seeping on his pillow. He didn't want his efforts to be in vain just because of an untreated concussion.
“Shinobi-san, I would have to remove your mask…”
The ANBU moved slightly. It was sometime before the ANBU nodded. With shaking fingers, the ANBU removed his own mask.
Iruka's head spun when he saw the tell-tale black orbs looking at him. He's had suspicions, but, he never really believed… the number one jounin…here he didn't want this much trouble!
Oh Gods… not Uchiha Itachi!
* * *
Be back on the first week of November!
* * *