PROLOGUE: THE ACCIDENT
He looked very much distraught when he entered the room.
His dark orbs looked directly towards a petite figure lying on the hospital bed. His face clearly paled at the sight. His red Armani silk tie long gone and several buttons loosened, revealing the slight pale flesh as he ran his right hand through his long raven locks.
He slowly walked towards the fragile looking indigo haired young woman who was still unconscious from the accident a few hours ago. Intravenous wires sticking out from her body and arms, looking completely fragile with her pale milky skin, marred by scars under those bandages. Her neck was held by neck braces and an endotracheal tube protruding out from her mouth was connected to the ventilator beside the bed, providing necessary oxygen and facilitating breathing. He knew all the medical equipment in the room, he was familiar with the medical world until he had to leave it all behind for the family.
Pulling the chair softly beside the bed, he sat down, looking right at her. Elbows rested on his knees and his hands cupped his angular features. He felt all the years crumbling down on him when the accident happened. Breathing deeply, his eyes kept on looking at her as he reached out to touch her hand.
It was soft. And cold.
The sound of the cardiac monitor indicating the heart beat and blood pressure, filling the empty space with sounds of hopeful heart, still beating for its life.
I wonder what colour are her eyes.
"Uchiha Itachi?" a feminine voice called to him. Itachi looked at the dark haired figure standing by the door.
"I'm Doctor Shizune and I headed the team that operates on this patient. I have some questions to ask you. If you don't mind, could we talk privately?"
"Very well." Itachi followed her out of the room.
"Uchiha-sama," Doctor Shizune said as the glass door slides to close. "It took about four hours for us to operate on our Jane Doe here. She had multiple broken ribs, fractured legs, broken ankle and cracked left kneecap, also took a puncture to her right lungs, severe bruising to the liver and slight swelling to her right brain and a broken neck. With all that, I'm surprised nothing happened to her spinal cord."
Itachi frowned. "Is the concussion bad, Doctor?" Itachi asked, his expression as grave as ever.
"We've detected some blood clots in the right hemisphere of her brain and also some swellings on her medula oblongata which is dangerously close to her optic nervous system. We're certain that it won't be that bad if the swelling shows signs of subsiding."
"The clotting will require a surgery, but we're not certain if it will affect her eyesight. Rest assured, the chances will be good if the swelling have subsided before we can do the surgery and if it doesn't, chances for it to affect her optic nerves would be high."
"Is the operation necessary?" Itachi frowned at the thought.
"Absolutely," Doctor Shizune nodded her head gravely. "In order to increase the chances of survival, yes, it is necessary. But only if the swelling doesn't show any signs of subsiding." Stressing the word 'if'.
"Is it going to be a major operation, Doctor?"
"It's not going to be a ten-hour operation if you're curious, Uchiha-sama. But if we're to descend to that standard, we'll do our very best."
"Thank you Doctor."
Doctor Shizune smiled. "I understand your concern, Uchiha-sama but we do need time before assessing further. By doing a MR angiography, we hope to look out for occlusions or any signs of aneurysms before we can make any final conclusions on the extensive of damage to her brain."
"Well, that the optic nerve and brain swelling is not what I'm here to talk to you about, Uchiha-sama."
Itachi frowned deeper. "What is, Doctor?"
"During the operation, we almost had a close call of losing her," she took a deep breath and looked at Itachi. "Her blood pressure dropped significantly within the first ten minutes and her heart rate plummeted dangerously. We found that she has a very weak heart to begin with, signs of trauma could be seen around it and our visiting heart specialist was called in."
"Doctor Kakuzu has pronounced her heart condition as 'Takotsubo cardiomyopathy' or…"
"Or stress cardiomyopathy or broken-heart syndrome, yes I know. I'm well aware of that, Doctor."
Doctor Shizune looked completely surprised at Itachi. "Well, uhh…if you are well aware of that, I'm sure you will understand the complexity of this situation, Uchiha-sama."
"I will take care all of it, Doctor," Itachi said. "It is your utmost responsibility to make sure and keep her alive until she is very well."
"Any updates, please inform me personally. And under no circumstances are my family or the organization to know about this, Doctor Shizune."
"Very well, Uchiha-sama." Doctor Shizune nodded her head in understanding.
"Hn." Itachi murmured. "Has there been anyone asking for missing persons?"
"No Uchiha-sama, but we've found nothing much on her, not even identification card. However, the blood tests will only be available tomorrow morning but DNA testing will take about three to four weeks at best."
"That is quite long."
"Yes, Uchiha-sama, as you know, the only DNA testing facility is under the purview of the government."
Itachi nodded. "Nothing else can be found on her?"
"What is it?"
"It's a personal designer label."
Itachi frowned. "Personal designer?"
"Yes," Doctor Shizune smiled. "We're not certain but it has a name embroidered."
Itachi's gaze never left the comatose patient but frowned.
"From what we have gathered, since she doesn't have any identification on her, there was a name embroidered on the shirt and jacket she wore. It's 'Hinata'."
"Thank you Doctor, that will be all," Itachi paused as if he remembered something. "And Doctor Shizune..."
"I'd appreciate it if you keep Hinata's files away from central administration. Transfer it under my personal files and limit staff access to this ward."
"Very well Itachi-sama. I understand your need for privacy and will arrange for it. I'm also concerned with my patient's well-being."
"Don't worry about our Jane Doe here. I will take full responsibility on her well-being…" Itachi said calmly before adding, "…and as a member of the Board of Trustee, I will personally ensure your projects will receive its new budget as befittingly."
Doctor Shizune smiled appreciatively. "I truly appreciate that, Uchiha Itachi-sama. And thank you."
"Hn." Itachi nodded. "How long will she be in this state, Doctor?"
"At least for another three to four months before she is movable."
"Very well, after she is better, transfer her to Doctor Kakuzu's hospital. I will inform Kakuzu about this."
"Duly noted, Uchiha-sama." Doctor Shizune bowed slightly and walked away.
All of a sudden, Itachi felt vibrations in his pant's pocket and pulled out his cellphone. It was his private secretary.
"Yes?" Itachi answered his call.
"Itachi, you have missed three appointments and a meeting with your father…."
"Cancel all my appointments and engagements from today until next two weeks. Reschedule all of them. I have something far more important to do right now."
"But…but how about the Chairman!"
"Tell my father I'll call back to explain."
"Do you know you just put me right on the front lines when it comes to telling your father the 'not so good news'?"
Itachi smirked. "I'm sure you'll survive Ino."
"You better have a good explanation for your father, Itachi because I am not going to face the exploding Krakatoa!" Ino fumed. "And you owe me one!"
"Consider it done."
"Huh? Oh really? Seriously? You mean I can take the two weeks off?"
"Yes! Uhh…I mean, yes Itachi-sama?"
"Don't think about it," Itachi pinched the ridge of his nose. "I'll be back after next week and yes, you can have one week off after I get back."
"You'd better! So, need anything else Boss?"
"Get Kisame, Deidara and Sasori to meet me at my place, the beach house. Tonight."
"And I need you to be there as well, Ino. I am going to need your help in this."
"How about the rest?"
"I'm meeting Kakuzu later. They aren't around so it'll just be us."
"Okay, so it's tonight say at eight-thirty?"
"I'll bring pizza!"
Itachi sighed. "Whatever Ino."
"Alright!" Ino yelled on the other side of the phone. "Anything else Itachi?"
"That'll be all."
"Okay. Let me reconfirm, meeting at your beach house at eight-thirty tonight with Kisame the Pig, Deidara the Idiot and Sasori my Prince! Consider it done, Boss!"
Itachi rubbed the ridge of his eyebrow and wonders how on earth could Sasori handle that bundle of blonde energy?
"Ino, keep it down."
He could hear Ino laughed on the other end. "But this is still an office, Itachi. Besides, I'm not going to pick up gossips that slander my reputation. Think how it would affect my darling fiancé?"
Being one of his closest friend and business partner, Akasuna Sasori and Itachi have been friends since Itachi enrolled to primary school at the age of four, skipping kindergarten and two years of primary school education and straight into standard three. When Itachi enrolled in primary education, Sasori was already in secondary school. Both are considered geniuses in their own age group and bonded very well. Although Sasori is eight years older than Itachi, he looked more baby-faced handsome than Itachi and could pass off as Itachi's junior.
"Well, if there's anything I can do to be of help, you know where to reach me," Ino said on the other side.
"I think that day might come sooner than I think," Itachi said as they both hung up. He sighed in relief then turned back into the room and looked at the injured young woman lying on the bed. Strands of his long jet-black hair fell to the front of his handsome perfectly chiseled face. His midnight obsidian black eyes just stared at her with her hand in his. Her hands were very cold and small in his mind, but dainty and well-kept.
Who is she? His thought kept repeating the same thing over and over again. He couldn't fathom what and why a young woman doing in the middle of the road and in such heavy downpour.
She started to stir and Itachi found himself looking into a pair of pearlescent eyes which took his breath away.
Immediately Itachi buzzed for the doctor and Doctor Shizune hurried into the ward with two nurses.
"She stirred and opened her eyes just now," Itachi demanded, looking at Doctor Shizune with his dark eyes blazing. One could almost be certain that it almost turned red!
"It appears that she came out from her concussion, but had a relapse," Dr. Shizune said as she looked into the patient's pale eyes with a small torchlight.
"Oh no," Doctor Shizune tensed and Itachi did not like the sound of it.
"What is it?" Itachi was very near growling. He did not know for sure, but he felt a need to protect the fragile looking young woman. When he looked into her pale eyes, he felt lost and uncertain. And that worried him. Throughout all his life, he never knew that kind of feeling. It disturbed him.
No. Itachi does not like it at all.
"She's gone into coma!" Doctor Shizune exclaimed as she prepared the nurse to bring Hinata into surgery. "We've got to stop the clotting. It appears that the clotting is causing her to relapse and we have to go into surgery to remove that or else her brain will lack of oxygen and a vein might burst."
Itachi nodded his head, feeling something dreadful falling into the pit of his gut. Feeling frustrated was a gross understatement for him the time being and he just didn't know why it affected him so much.
Why am I feeling like this? What am I doing?
He hated the feeling. This feeling he could not fully comprehend. This feeling of helplessness is making him vulnerable. Looking at the doctor and nurses wheeling Hinata out, he could feel the beating of his heart intensified.
That girl….who is she?
Gripping his hands and fist them on his knees, Itachi felt troubled. He hadn't felt like this for a long time. Not since he was a child of six when he first saw his father executed a renegade member of the Uchiha family right before his eyes. That didn't even frighten him, but this girl….this girl with pearlescent eyes, eyes he has never seen before, caught his attention. Like a pull, he felt a connection. Something he wasn't so sure of.
Why am I so drawn to her?
This was something even the mighty Uchiha Itachi couldn't answer.
Itachi made up his mind. If anything were to happen to Hinata, he'll take responsibility. It is only fair since it was he who drove into her without looking and it was his entire fault that she is in the hospital in the first place. But, who in the world would be crazy enough to stand in the middle of the road up in the mountains?
Looking outside the window, Itachi wonders. What was she doing out there?
Itachi was tired. Dead tired. Right after a grueling three-day meeting with Ame's state representatives, he had to take a ten-hour flight on his private jet from Ame City back to Konoha Metropolitan for a family gathering.
It was not only boring. It was dead boring. Listening to all the family elders and other relatives was not Itachi's cup of tea. He'd much prefer a moment of peace to himself.
Driving his black metalic sleek BMW 5-series, Itachi began his long journey home. Home. It sounded ironic to him because he has home in several parts of the world. But this home, was where he was born. He smiles a little. Knowing how much his mother is going to smother him like he was three years old forever!
Also knowing the fact how much his younger brother absolutely hates it when he comes home just to ruffle his feathers.
Itachi could not stop grinning at the thought of meeting his little brother. That's just Itachi. His love in bullying his younger brother was like a hobby to him. He also knew how annoyed his baby brother is of him.
As he was driving upwards, he turned around the sharp cornering on the left and brake instantaneously when he saw someone dressed in white standing right in the middle of the road and in the heavy rain.
But it was way too late.
He had hit her.
"SHIT!" Itachi cursed to himself. Putting on the brakes and got out of the car with an umbrella and looked at the injured person he just knocked down several metres down the road. Her long hair framed the ground and blood was everywhere. Dressed in a white and purple waterproof jacket with hoodie, and grey-coloured capri hiking pants. Her backpack seemed to be thrown far away and most of its contents were tossed away down the cliff. He placed the umbrella next to the girl and slowly checked for pulse and heartbeat in such wet conditions. Taking off his jacket, he wrapped it around her neck before he quickly lifted her and placed her at the back space of his car…in the rain.
After that, he managed to get his handphone and started dialing for help.
Great! No damn coverage! Itachi looked at the bleeding girl and without thinking further, he carried her in his arms and was surprised when he heard her murmured.
"No…don't lea…leave…me," it was very light. Her voice was soft and it was like…calling to him. Itachi's heart felt a slight twinge.
"Hush now," Itachi said. "I won't leave you. Never." Itachi felt something magical when he held her. He didn't know how to explain it, but he couldn't help but smile.
He quickly got into his car and reverse his car to swing it back where he came from.
To hell with those meetings. This is more important. Itachi said to himself. He knows he is going to get the chops from his father, but it didn't matter to him. What matters more is the injured girl lying behind his car, covered in blood and his clothes covered by her blood.
Itachi felt remorse. More than guilt. Then, he prayed.
Oh Kami. Whatever the fuck did I do to deserve this?
Before he knows it, thunder roared across the darkened sky.
"You are not helping." Itachi muttered sarcastically to himself. Driving like a speed demon to reach the nearest hospital, Itachi was praying. Praying hard for her to be safe.