a/n: Well, this took longer than I planned. So it's been a rough few weeks for me. My boss quit his job and our department has had to keep things afloat. So I've been super busy. Plus I've still been sick and my mind's been too muddled up with medication to bother thinking about the chapter. It's been a struggle getting past the first part of this chapter. I had that part in mind for the last few weeks so that part was easy to write. The rest though was like plowing through mud to get it written to my satisfaction. I finally pulled it out though. :) Because I've been sick and busy, I didn't get to answer a lot of your reviews personally this time. So, I apologize. Just know that I am thankful for every one of your reviews. I enjoy reading each one. I know you're excited to see what happens now that Naruto woke up. So read on! I hope you enjoy the new chapter.
Summary: A serial killer is making his name known throughout Konoha. Capt. Itachi Uchiha is heading the case. But as he gets more involved in the case – and more involved with the only coherent survivor – he finds out that it's much bigger and older than he ever thought. The facts lead back to his own past and threatens to destroy all that he holds dear.
Warnings: ItaNaru yaoi. Embrace it people! There will be violent situations mentioned in this story. Some of it may get a bit graphic.
x x x
This chapter is dedicated to everyone in Japan. The more video I see from foreign news (because we all know the US never shows enough real footage to give a true indication of how bad things are) the more I feel my heart wrench. I've had dreams of going to Japan for years (I just never have enough money) and seeing the devastation and the death toll continuing to rise just makes me want to cry. I don't know if I have any Japanese readers out there, but if so, know that my thoughts and prayers are with you and everyone.
MARK OF THE FOX
Chapter 6 - Awakening
It started with a beep.
An incessant piercing sound that slowly filtered into his brain.
It was a welcome sound compared to the nothingness from before. The sound slowly brought him away from the never ending darkness where he'd only had his thoughts to keep company. The slow beep droned on once every second or so.
He frowned slightly.
His head felt so groggy...like he'd been drugged or something. Not that he'd know what that felt like. He'd never touched drugs. No way! Believe it!
He felt weird though...groggy, stiff, confined...and why the hell did it feel like he couldn't breathe right?
What was once a welcoming sound was quickly becoming an annoyance.
Maybe he should open his eyes. His eyes felt so heavy though...Maybe he should sleep a little longer.
But the damn beeping won't stop! Did Iruka get a new alarm clock? Well, whatever, but he needed to turn the damn thing off so he could go back to sleep!
With much greater effort than he thought it should take, he slowly opened his eyes...
At first everything was a blur. After giving a few slow blinks the haze started to clear and he began to glance around him.
Wait...this isn't his room. Where the hell is he?
Naruto's body realized it before his mind truly registered where he was and he tensed up. He was in a hospital. He HATED hospitals.
The room was the usual non-descipt white with bits of that horrible shade of green. The constant beep made him turn in the direction of the sound and he saw a machine next to him. Ah yes, well, at least now he knew what was making that annoying sound. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw something dark. He slowly turned his head.
Deep dark eyes connected with cerulean blue.
Naruto's eyes went wide.
The stranger gasped.
Naruto frowned. How did he know his name?
x x x
Itachi watched as Naruto frowned. The blue eyes disappeared for a moment and then widened slightly and darted around frantically. He heard the machine beep faster and grabbed the panicked blond's hand. Then he began to speak in a soothing tone, hoping to calm his charge down while he used his other hand to grab the call button and push it.
"Naruto? Hey, it's ok. My name is Itachi Uchiha. You're in a hospital."
Naruto stared at the unfamiliar face. Whoever this Itachi was, he didn't seem to be threatening, so it settled him slightly. He already knew that he was in a hospital. The question was why? He frowned slightly as he tried to remember what happened. He tried to speak but the oxygen mask prevented it. His eyes clouded with pain as his vocal chords strained to make sound but couldn't. Itachi saw it and rubbed his hand soothingly.
"It hurts, I know. Someone will be here in a moment to make you feel better ok? And then I'll go call your father."
Naruto's eyes lit up at the last part. At least he knew Iruka would be coming. He frowned again...how long had he been here, he wondered. He tried to think back...but his mind was too fuzzy. He couldn't recall what could've happened to land him here.
Itachi smiled slightly at the blond. That was a good sign, at least. He seemed to be understanding him and was pretty calm, considering... The last time one of their victims came out of a coma, she started screaming at the top of her lungs and wouldn't stop until she had been sedated. And when she woke again, she didn't say a word. She never said another word again.
"You've been in a coma for four days." Itachi kept speaking, unknowingly answering Naruto's question. "Your father's been here every day. So have your friends. A lot of people have been waiting for you to wake up."
Naruto felt like smiling at that. He couldn't communicate how happy he was so, instead, he squeezed Itachi's hand slightly. Itachi felt it and returned the gesture. That seemed to relax the blond and he saw the eyelids began to droop. "Hey! Naruto wait! Don't fall asleep yet. Stay with me."
The bleary eyes shot back open.
Fortunately, a nurse came in. Itachi wasn't sure how much longer he could keep Naruto awake. The nurse's eyes went wide. She poked her head back out.
"Kiyone! Call Shizune or Dr. Senju. Naruto's awake." The violet haired female turned back around with a sweet smile on her face as she prepared to take her patient's vitals. "Hi N-Naruto. M-my name is Hinata." The young nurse said nervously. However, as she began to focus on work, the stutter went away. "Do you think you can keep your eyes open for a little longer? Just so I can take your vitals and check a few other things? After that I'll let you rest. Ok?"
Itachi decided to move out of the way to make room for the nurse, but he didn't get very far. He looked down and found a tanned hand still entangled with his own. He looked in Naruto's eyes and saw fear and confusion.
"I'll be right back. I promise. I just want to call Iruka and tell him you're awake. I'll come right back afterwards."
Naruto stared at Itachi for a moment, as if to make sure he wasn't lying. He slowly let go of the larger hand and watched him leave the room.
Another nurse almost bumped into Itachi on his way out. But he slid to the side and out of the way of the chaos. He walked out of the ICU and into the waiting room. It was the only place on the floor he was allowed to use his cell phone.
He dialed the familiar number and waited. A groggy voice answered the phone on the third ring.
"Iruka, it's Itachi Uchiha."
"Oh god, is it Naruto? Did something happen?"
"Calm down. It's nothing bad. I just wanted to tell you he woke up."
"What? Really?" Itachi heard him yell Gaara's name in the background. "Sorry, about that. I'm on my way now."
"Alright. See you soon."
Itachi hung up with a smile. He suddenly felt like a weight had been lifted. It wasn't as much about the possibility of gaining a breakthrough in the case as much as it was about a person actually surviving.
x x x
Gaara heard Iruka's phone ring and his eyes narrowed. Who could be calling at this hour?
Then he heard Iruka yell and he was immediately off the couch and running up the stairs. He found Iruka smiling while tears ran down his face, with a phone still up to his ear.
"Gaara! He's awake!" The young man's eyes went wide at the news. Then he smiled. He didn't even listen to anything else Iruka said over the phone. He knew they would be leaving soon. So he went to the bedroom and started dressing. Next thing he knew, Iruka was pulling him down the stairs and grabbing jackets for both of them while talking a mile a minute.
"...And if you wouldn't mind driving. I need to make some calls..."
Gaara pulled on his jacket and tried to focus on what Iruka was saying.
"We'll get Konohamaru first since he's right around the corner. Then we'll get Kiba..."
Iruka was still talking as he practically pushed Gaara out the door and locked it behind them. The happy father was back on his phone before Gaara even opened the car doors.
"Kono?...Yeah, I know how late it is. But I have good news. Naruto's awake!...Yes, I know. We're on our way now. Do me a favor and call Kiba. We'll pick him up after we get you...Ok, see you soon."
Gaara started the car and drove toward their first pick up stop.
x x x
Sasuke's eyes opened as slits. The annoying ringtone was still blaring and he groaned as his body protested sitting up. He shouldn't have fallen asleep on the floor. He reached for his phone, saw it was his brother and answered it.
"What." He muttered.
"Sasuke, he's awake."
"What?" Sasuke jolted up, suddenly alert. "You're kidding."
"No. The doctors are checking him now. I just wanted to let you know. I'll alert everyone else at headquarters when I get there."
"Have you slept at all in the past 24 hours?"
"Dammit Itachi! Go home and sleep."
"Can't...Too much to do."
"It can wait a few hours."
"No buts. The few hours you sleep is not going to make or break this case. You know that."
He heard Itachi sigh and he knew he'd won this time.
"Fine...but only if you switch your morning shift with someone...maybe Kotetsu or Izumo. I need you to take care of some things for me."
"Yeah, fine, whatever."
"You're still at my place?"
"Well, I wasn't planning on it. I just ended up falling asleep here."
"Alright. I've got to get back to Naruto. I'll talk to you later."
"Hn."Sasuke hung up with a slight smile on his face.
Iruka, Kiba and Konohamaru practically ran down the hallway to get to the ICU, while Gaara followed along at his own sedate pace. What was the point of running? It wasn't like Naruto was going anywhere.
The ICU was buzzing with activity now that one of their patients had awakened. The group was stopped by a nurse before they could get to their destination. "Ah, Mr. Umino...I'm sorry, but the doctor on call is in the middle of examining him. She'll be finished in a few minutes, then you'll be able to go on in."
Iruka gave the nurse a tired smile and nodded in understanding. The other two groaned at having to wait longer. Gaara slowly walked up to them with a slight smirk on his face.
"Shut up Sabaku." Kiba growled. Gaara raised a brow.
"I didn't say anything."
"I know what you were thinking."
Gaara only crossed his arms leisurely and stared ahead at something unknown to Kiba. With a huff he went went back to growling about having to wait to Konohamaru. At least he would understand.
They four of them watched as various staff went in and out of Naruto's room. A few minutes later, a doctor and two nurses stepped out of Naruto's room. The doctor saw the four of them standing there and smiled. The two nurses walked away to attend to other duties. Meanwhile, the doctor walked over to them.
"Hello. Are you here for Mr. Uzumaki?"
"Yes. I'm Naruto's father, Iruka Umino."
The female doctor held out her hand for Iruka to shake. "It's nice to meet you Mr. Umino. My name is Shizune Kato. I'm the doctor on call tonight. I guess you were notified that Naruto woke up." Iruka nodded. "Well you'll be happy to know he's doing just fine. His vital signs are stable. He's in quite a bit of pain, of course, from his injuries. We had him on morphine immediately after surgery. But we didn't give him too much of a dosage since we had no way of knowing how it was affecting him while in a come. Now that he's come out of it, we're able to prescribe medication according to his level of pain. Right now we have him on dilaudid. He can push the button when he's in a lot of pain. However, he can only get a dose every three hours, no matter how many times he pushes the button. As he gets better we'll drop the IV medicine and just give him something orally. He's actually healing quicker than normal. So I guess that's good."
"Yeah, he's always been a quick healer." Iruka indicated with a chuckle.
"I'm sure you were told about his throat. It will take some time to heal, so he won't be able to talk for a while. I don't really have an estimation for how long it will take. The throat is a tricky thing. But as long as he doesn't try to talk and strain I say maybe a week or two. I guess that's about it. I'm sure he'll be happy to see you."
"Did anybody talk to him about what happened?"
"No. It certainly isn't my place. And I don't think the officer in there has said anything either. You can ask him though. Is there anything else you need to know?"
"No, not right now. Thanks very much Dr. Kato."
"You're welcome. Oh, Naruto probably will still be a bit out of it, between the pain meds and just his need for rest. He'll most likely nod off on you from time to time. But that's to be expected. Even though he's been in a coma, it's not the same as actual rest. Well, I'll quit talking now and let you all go see him. Have a good night now."
Shizune shook each of their hands and walked away. Iruka slid the screen open just enough to slip through it. He was somewhat surprised to see Captain Uchiha sitting next to Naruto. He didn't expect someone as high as a captain would be doing what would probably be considered babysitting. Itachi looked up at the sound of the screen and saw Iruka. He stood and grabbed his papers together.
"Ah, Mr. Umino. It's good to see you again."
"Same here." Iruka walked forward and the two shook hands. Then he looked at his son and smiled softly. "I guess he fell back asleep huh?"
"Yes. Surprisingly, he was able to stay awake for a bit while they were examining him. Once they didn't need him awake anymore, he went right to sleep."
"The doctor said he still needs lots of rest." Iruka murmured as he gazed fondly at his favorite blond. He felt like a weight had been lifted the moment Itachi called and told him the news. With a smile at the officer, he turned towards the three males who were standing to the side to give Iruka some space. "Oh, by the way, these are practically my other sons - Kiba, Konohamaru, and Gaara. This is Captain Uchiha." Kiba held up a hand as a wave, Konohamaru grinned. Gaara gave the Uchiha a nod. Itachi returned it with a nod of his own. Then Itachi stepped out of the way and waved a hand toward the chair while grabbing the other one in the room.
"Here, have a seat. If all four of you are going to be in here, I can leave you alone for a while and work somewhere else."
"We don't want to put you out."
"Nonsense. You spend time with your son. I'm sure he'll wake up again soon enough. I have some work to do anyway and it will be easier for me to do it where there's some space and a table. Just let me know when you're leaving."
"Alright. Thanks." Iruka took the seat next to his sleeping son and Konohamaru took the second seat. Kiba, who never really cared about convention took a seat on the floor next to Konohamaru. Gaara, though, watched Itachi walk out of the room. A few seconds later, he followed him.
"Where's he goin?" Konohamaru asked. Kiba shrugged, not really caring where the quiet man went.
"He'll be back, I'm sure. Don't worry about it." Iruka replied. Meanwhile, he took Naruto's hand and squeezed it slightly. His free hand reached out to run a finger through the blond locks lovingly.
x x x
Itachi stretched out the kinks in his tired body with a low groan. He was happy to stand up for a bit. He tossed his files on the couch and went to the coffee machine, slid in the quarter and punched in his choice. He watched dispassionately as the cup dropped to the platform and hot liquid filled it. He took out the steaming hot cup and sipped. It wasn't the greatest, but it would keep him awake and alert for the rest of the early morning. With a sigh, he took a seat and was about to start reading again when the door opened and in stepped the red-head he knew was Gaara.
Gaara silently walked over to where the officer was sitting and took a seat in a chair diagonal from him. Itachi watched him, but didn't say anything. Considering what Sasuke had told him earlier, the young man wouldn't say much unless he really wanted to. He was beginning to understand what his brother meant though. Those eyes would be quite unnerving to someone who didn't have nerves of steel. Of course, he was one of the latter, so it didn't faze him enough to look away.
"You're related to the other Uchiha?" Gaara finally spoke.
"You mean Sasuke? He's my younger brother."
"How is Naruto really?"
Itachi allowed the sheet of paper in his hand to fall to the pile with a soft sigh. He knew he wasn't going to get anything done...at least not at the moment.
"What do you mean?"
"Doctors only tell you about the physical condition. I doubt they've looked any further."
"Hn." Itachi nodded and ran a hand over the back of his neck. He was tired and his neck was starting to ache. "I don't know. He can't talk. And right now there's not much of a way for him to communicate. Truthfully, I'm not sure if he's really remembered why exactly he's in the hospital yet. The only panic I saw in his eyes involved where he was and who was in his room. After I explained who I was and where we were, he seemed to calm down. After I mentioned his father, he calmed even further. There was nothing in his eyes that indicated mental or emotional trauma."
"What if he doesn't ever remember?"
Itachi chuckled tiredly. He had thought about that more times than he really wanted to recall and he hated that Gaara had brought it up again. "Then our case will be that much harder to crack."
"You need him."
"But you didn't ask him anything when he woke up." Gaara stated blandly though his teal eyes pierced into Itachi's.
"I'm not going to force it out of him. Trust me, I know from experience what it's like to be traumatized. I'm not going to make it any harder for him to deal with. It's better to wait until he starts to deal with it himself." Itachi stretched out and crossed his arms and legs, now the picture of relaxation. "So, you're Naruto's best friend."
Gaara nodded with a slight blush.
"How did that happen? No offense, but you two don't seem that much alike, at least from what I've heard about Naruto." Gaara shrugged.
"Similar circumstances..." Itachi raised a brow and Gaara decided to elaborate. "He befriended me when no one else would. All my life people have been afraid of me. It was worse in Suna, but even when I moved here that didn't exactly change. At school people avoided me. The only exception was Naruto. He would talk to me, even when I didn't say a word. He wouldn't go away. Finally it bothered me enough for me to ask him why he kept bothering. He said it was because I was too quiet and he hated quiet. Then he said that I looked lonely. That he knows what it's like to be alone. He started telling me about his life and that's when I knew we were similar. He became my first friend."
x x x
An hour after the rag tag family came to the hospital, Naruto came back to the present with a yawn. He opened his eyes and was surprised to see Iruka sitting next to him instead of Itachi. He opened his mouth but words would not come out. He wanted to growl in frustration. Instead, he put his little energy into moving his fingers enough to squeeze his father's fingers.
Iruka's eyes went wide. "Naruto?"
"Naruto!" Konohamaru exclaimed loudly. Kiba who had been dozing lightly leaning against the chair jumped up.
"Well, it's about time you woke up bro!"
Naruto smiled at the trio. By force of habit, he tried to talk, only to frown when nothing came out again.
Iruka brushed the blond hair away from Naruto's forehead, then smoothed the crease in his forehead. "You have to take it easy for a bit. Your throat got damaged so you won't be able to talk until it heals. I'll bring some paper for you later once you've got more energy. Then you can write what you want to say."
Naruto grinned at that.
"We're just happy you're ok man! You scared us to death." Kiba stated.
"I'm gonna go get Gaara." Konohamaru said and walked out.
Naruto's eyes went wide and his grin grew into a true smile. Kiba grinned. "Yep, he's here. Been here all week. He drove from Suna as soon as he heard you were in the hospital."
x x x
Itachi and Gaara were still speaking when Konohamaru ran into the waiting room.
"Gaara, Naruto's awake!"
Gaara nodded. "I'll be there momentarily."
"You better hurry before he falls asleep again." Konohamaru said and then he was gone as quickly as he came.
"He's right. You better go. We can talk another time." Itachi stated. He handed the younger man his card. "If you think of anything...anything at all that might help, just give me a call anytime."
Gaara took the card with a nod and left.
Sasuke walked into the division at 7:00 a.m. with his bag in one hand and a giant sized cup of coffee in the other. He stopped at his desk and dropped the bag on the floor. A yawn escaped and he didn't even bother being discreet about it.
Kakashi looked up from his book and raised an eyebrow at his partner.
"Hn." Sasuke didn't say anything else until he had taken about five sips of coffee. Significantly more alert, he started talking. "Hey. Get the gang together. I've got news."
"But Cap isn't here yet."
"He won't be here. At least not for a while. I told him to get some sleep." Kakashi chuckled at that.
"Sasuke, Sasuke...you must have more skills that I thought. I didn't know anyone could actually persuade Itachi Uchiha to do anything."
"Not normally. However, he couldn't dispute me this time. He knew I was right." Sasuke replied with a smirk. Kakashi chuckled and stood lazily and put his book in his back pocket.
"Give me 15 minutes."
"That's fine. I've got to do something real quick anyway."
"Meet you there."
x x x
Sasuke found Kotetsu first, so he was given the assignment to relieve Itachi. Then he made his way downstairs to the interrogation area. At room number 2 he opened the door and stepped inside, then closed the door behind him. He looked somewhat surprised when he noticed the changes in the room. Someone had taken the liberty of bringing in a few more chairs. There was also an easel with a poster sized pad of paper attached. He had a feeling Shikamaru probably had something to do with it. As lazy as he was, the man liked to be organized.
"Hey, what's so important that it couldn't wait for our fearless leader?" Kisame asked.
"I got some news from Itachi early this morning. Also some instructions for all of you since he won't be in until later."
"Well, let's get on with it then. Got stuff to do." Zabuza said gruffly.
"Alright then." Sasuke sat down at the only empty chair and pulled a folded sheet of paper from his pocket. He started unwrapping it as he gave the news that would change everything. "Naruto woke up early this morning. Around two to be exact."
"How is he?" Kakashi asked softly. Sasuke shrugged before he addressed the answer to everyone.
"Itachi said that he didn't sense any tension coming from him, at least not after he began to realize where he was and that his father was coming. Physically he's in pain, of course. And we won't be getting anything verbal from him any time soon. His throat is still healing. He didn't seem to be traumatized so far. Maybe it will take some time for his mind to catch up. What's important, at least for us, is that he seems to be fine mentally for now. If that doesn't change when he starts remembering what happened to him, we might be able to finally shed some light on this case."
The mood in the room seemed to lighten with the news.
"So what does the Cap'n want us to do now?" Kisame asked.
Sasuke waved the sheet of paper in his hand. "He sent me an email an hour ago with some things that need to be taken care of today. He went through the list of Namikaze's cabinet at the hospital and came up with a list of who should be interviewed and by whom. Shikamaru, he would like you to find out where each of them live now. As soon as you find it and pass it on, the rest of us will get going. Kakashi, you and I will be going to talk to Raido Namiashi. He was the cabinet secretary at the time. Itachi figures he might be the best place to start since, out of the cabinet members still alive, he was probably the closest to Namikaze. Kisame and Zabuza, you two will be going to see Ibiki Morino, who was in charge of Code Enforcement. If his picture and some of his credentials are any indication, he won't be a pushover."
"Yeah, I've heard of him. He used to be part of the Hi no Kuni force...in charge of interrogation. I hear he was quite good at it too." Kisame said with a grin.
Zabuza laughed. "Heh, and I thought we would end up with some boring political dude to interview. This might end up being some fun after all."
"Next up we have Aoba Yamashiro. He was in charge of Public Affairs. Since we're short on manpower, and this guy seems to be pretty harmless, Itachi decided to let Izumo and Kotetsu interview him. So I guess I'll talk to Izumo after we're done. Itachi said he'll talk to Shibi Aburame once he's had some rest." He looked at the next person on the list and gave a soft chuckle. "Well cousins, it looks like you get a two-fer today. Seems our next person is a scary woman that, according to Itachi, only you two will be able to handle."
Kisame barked out a laugh. "Is that a joke Uchiha?"
"Nope. It seems Tsume Inuzuka could even scare the rest of the cabinet when she wanted. Sounds like she's right up your alley."
"Heh, I wonder if she'd be willing to go out with me."
"Nobody would go out with someone as ugly as you." Shikamaru muttered.
Kisame grin slipped into a scowl and he saluted the genius with his middle finger. "Don't think I didn't hear that Nara."
"Moving on..." Sasuke said with a roll of his eyes. "Tsunade Senju, Minister of Health and Human Services." Sasuke stopped as he tried to figure out why that name sounded familiar. "Itachi's going to talk to her as well. There's more, but I think we'll just leave it at that for now. It'll keep us busy enough until he gets here. I guess that's it for now."
Conversation began anew as the group filed out of the small room. Sasuke grabbed Shikamaru by the arm as he walked past.
"Any way you can have the addresses in an hour?"
Shikamaru sighed. "You know, you're just as troublesome as your brother. I'll see what I can do."
Itachi walked, with his usual unhurried steps, down the hallway. Kotetsu had just come and relieved him so he could finally go home and rest. He took a look at his watch while he walked to the elevator. It was 7:00. He had only one destination in mind.
And it wasn't home.
Inside the elevator, he pushed the button to the top floor. Offices were always on the top floor and he had someone he needed to visit.
x x x
Tsunade was hiding in her office. It was only 7:00 in the morning but she already had a bottle of sake up to her lips. She was dreading the day. Not only did she have two surgeries scheduled, the auditors were coming to make her life hell. They always went over everything with a fine toothed comb. Sure, most of the responsibility for that stuff lie with the financial department, but as head of the hospital, she had to be available to answer any question they had about the hospital.
It was another one of those days when she wondered why the hell she had taken on this job.
The sudden knock on the door had her scrambling to hide her sake. If it was Shizune, she was doomed.
"Come in." It wasn't Shizune. It wasn't even the auditors. Instead, it was someone quite unexpected. "Uh..." She narrowed her eyes at the officer. She remembered him from a few days ago, but the name was escaping her. "Can I help you?"
"Yes, you can. I'm Captain Itachi Uchiha. We met the other night."
"Ah yes. I remember. What can I do for you?"
"Well, I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions."
"If it's about Naruto's condition, I probably won't be much help yet. Dr. Kato informed me, as soon as I got here, that he had awakened, but I haven't made the rounds yet, so I haven't checked up on him."
"Actually, it's not about Naruto's condition. I just came from his room after being there all night."
"Oh? Well, what other information could you need?"
"It's about your term as cabinet member."
Tsunade looked at the Uchiha warily. "What about it? It has nothing to do with you or my patient."
"Actually, it has a lot to do with me...well, with Naruto, more than me." Itachi took a seat across from her. He noticed the tense set of her body and the tightness around her mouth. "Twenty-one years ago, Minato Namikaze and his wife were found dead. I'm sure you already knew this, but it came as quite a shock to me when I found out that he had a son."
Tsunade's eyes widened, but quickly narrowed into a glare. "No one is supposed to know about that. How the hell did you find out?" She hissed.
"We have a genius in our possession. He's a wiz at finding things that no one else can." Itachi leaned forward. "My question to you is how many of you in the cabinet knew?" Tsunade looked away and crossed her arms as if to ward off the glare.
"All of us did. We were sworn to secrecy."
"Even after they died? From what I can tell, that man has no idea of who he really is. He was shipped from foster home to foster home until he was teenager. Why didn't any of you step up and do something about it?" Tsunade slammed her hands down on her desk and glared at the officer.
"Don't preach to me like you know anything Uchiha!" She growled. "You have no idea what we went through."
Itachi calmly stared her down and crossed his arms over his chest. "Well then, why don't you tell me."
Tsunade lost her steam and sat down with a sigh, then looked away. She pulled open her drawer and grabbed the bottle of sake she had just hidden away.
"I'm sorry. But if I'm going to do this, I need some liquid courage." She took a long drink from the bottle. "It's been twenty-one years and I've never told anyone about that night."
"I was there that night. They had invited me to dinner. You see, besides being on the cabinet, I had a deeper connection with the two of them. I'd known Minato since he was little brat. A close friend of mine was like an uncle to him so he pretty much grew up around us. So I spent a lot of time with them outside of politics. Anyway, after I had dinner with them, I went home. That was around 10 or so. Around two in the morning, I got a phone call somewhere around two in the morning from Sarutobi. He told me I needed to come to Minato's. I figured maybe one of them had gotten sick or something. I never thought..."
Tsunade sighed and took another drink.
"The police got there the same time I did. It was horrible. Minato and Kushina were both on the floor in the hallway. There was so much blood...I'll never forget it." Tsunade shivered. Even now, she could hardly stand the sight of blood. It was a wonder she was able to perform surgeries without locking up. "I checked their pulses, even though I pretty much knew it was hopeless. After that I ran straight to Naruto's room while Sarutobi talked to the police. He wasn't there. But there was a trail of blood to his room too. I searched all over the house, even outside in the backyard. Nothing. Not long after that the other cabinet members showed up."
Tsunade stopped talking. Itachi finished writing some brief notes, then looked up at the doctor. "The police didn't do a search for him?"
"They did. We told them that he was a nephew that was staying with them for a few days. We lost hope after two years without a trace of him. Morino even used his connections outside the police, but they didn't find anything either." Itachi frowned. He wasn't sure how that was possible. He should've been in the area database as a ward of the state. "After three years, we finally gave him up for dead. We had to...it was the only way to move on with our lives."
Tsunade wiped away a tear.
"When I was called into surgery the night we met, the moment I saw him I swear my heart stopped. I calmed myself with the thought that maybe it was a coincidence. But when I saw his blood type, which was very rare, I knew it was him. After I talked to you and his legal guardian, I came up here and cried. Then called everyone else."
Itachi's eyes narrowed. "Who is everyone? Exactly whom did you call? I'll need a list."
"Because I don't believe in coincidences very often."
"What do you mean?"
"First Minato and Kushina Namikaze were murdered. The murderer was never found. Now twenty-one years later, Naruto is attacked and almost killed as well by a serial killer that seems to cover his tracks so well we can't find a trace of him. Sure it could be an eerie coincidence, but I don't buy it. At least not yet."
"But there's no way...That was so long ago. And what about that mark? It wasn't on either of them."
"No, it wasn't. But who's to say it wasn't the same man. Or that the two killers aren't connected somehow. Maybe Minato and Kushina were just the beginning. I need to know every person you talked to about Naruto, along with phone numbers and addresses if you have them."
"Alright. Give me a few minutes."
A bag landed next to his head and Iruka sat up, slightly startled.
"Eat something." Gaara commanded.
Iruka sat up with a groan and rubbed his aching neck. He'd dozed off while looking after Naruto. From the protests his neck was making, falling asleep awkwardly on the edge of the mattress while sitting was not such a good idea. He glanced over at his son. The blond was still sleeping peacefully. He'd stayed awake long enough to see all 4 of his visitors. But right after Gaara spoke to him, he'd fallen right back asleep. The young men had tried to hang in there, but by 4:00 a.m., Konohamaru had dozed off and almost fell out of the chair and Kiba had practically fallen asleep on his feet. Finally, he had asked Gaara to take them home.
"You just got back?" Iruka muttered. He yawned and looked at his watch. "Where've you been?"
"Went for a drive after I dropped them off."
"Ah." He opened the bag and found a couple of donuts. "Thanks."
Gaara nodded. Then he held out a large cup. "Here."
Iruka saw the cup and gave the red head a tired grin. "Ah yes...Coffee. You're a lifesaver Gaara."
After taking a few sips of the godly drink, he began to feel alive again. He spent a few more minutes working out the kinks in his neck. It was while rotating his neck that he spied the officer quietly sitting in the corner. "Oh, hello! I didn't even notice you."
The dark-haired man smiled. "That was the plan. I wasn't trying to be all that noticeable."
"What happened to Captain Uchiha?"
"Went home to sleep. He's been up for almost a full day. I got drafted to relieve him. I'm Kotetsu Hagane, by the way."
"Iruka Umino. This is Gaara Sabaku."
"Yeah I know. The captain gave me a list of people who may show up, just in case. Anyways, nice to meet you both." Kotetsu stood up and stretched. "Well, since you're both here, I'm going to run and get some coffee and grub. I didn't want to leave if there was no one awake in here. Be right back." He left the room with a wave.
Gaara took a tanned hand and gripped it with his. "Has he awakened since I left?"
"No. Unless he woke up when I drifted off. But I doubt it."
After that they both went silent. Iruka, due to being lost in his own thoughts. And Gaara because he was...well, Gaara.
Kotetsu came back in 20 minutes later and took up his station in the corner. Both were so caught up in their musings that neither of them noticed. He took a bite of his sandwich and went back to reading the morning paper.
Sasuke yawned and stretched. He was already tired. This day was going to be hell. He was currently making up a list of questions to ask Mr. Namiashi. God knows Kakashi couldn't be counted on to do something so responsible. He'd most likely just wing it. He fixed a quick glare on his lazy partner, who had his feet crossed on top of his desk and was leaning back in his chair while reading. For a moment, he felt the urge to fling a pencil with a very sharp point toward his only eye. But then he'd have to find another partner and he couldn't deal with anyone else.
So he looked away only to see... His eyes narrowed into a glare and he stood up, causing his chair to scrape the floor loudly. He watched the man walk toward Shikamaru and he sighed and rolled his eyes. He should've known Itachi couldn't just follow his directions. With a growl he walked toward his brother. Kakashi, with amusement in his eye, followed him.
Itachi, meanwhile, placed a sheet of paper on top of the keyboard while Shikamaru was looking at his monitor. He turned and looked up at his captain while he slowly raised his eyebrow.
"I thought you weren't supposed to be here for a while."
"I wasn't. But this couldn't wait. I figured you would like to see this."
"What is it?"
"A list. You won't have to ask anymore questions if you would just look at it."
"Troublesome." Shikamaru groaned. But he looked at the sheet of paper. Itachi leaned against the desk and waited.
"I thought I gave you explicit instructions to go home and sleep."
Itachi turned and looked at his brother.
"So you did. However, considering I was already at the hospital, I figured I might as well talk to one of the cabinet members on the list."
"One of them is in the hospital?"
"No, one of them is head of the hospital. Tsunade Senju, the same person who did the surgery on Naruto. I was able to learn quite a bit from her."
"Hell, you just saved me an hour or more of work!" Shikamaru announced with a smirk. Sasuke sighed and looked away from his older brother and hovered over Shikamaru's shoulder to take a look at the list.
"You were able to get all their addresses? How'd you pull that off?"
Itachi shrugged and gave his brother a smirk as if to say 'I'm just that good.'
"Who are those people at the bottom? They aren't on the list you gave me."
"Ah yes. It seems the Namikazes had a housekeeper and a nanny. Unfortunately she only had phone numbers for the two of them. While she has, at some point or another, seen all the members of cabinet in the past 20 years, she hasn't seen these two at all. She's only communicated with them by phone."
"Well, as long as I've got names, I'll do what I can to find out where they are. Misaki Hotaka and Rin Higurashi..." Shikamaru muttered to himself.
Kakashi's eye widened. "Did you say Rin?"
"Why? You know her?" Itachi asked.
"Yeah...when we were teenagers. Haven't seen her in years. Obito kept in touch with her more than I did."
"Please tell me you have an address for her."
"Can you get it?"
"Maybe..." Kakashi drawled. "First, I'll need that number." Shikamaru wrote down the information and held his hand up with the post it note.
"What are you going to do?" Sasuke asked.
Kakashi plucked the note from Shikamaru's finger.
"Call her, of course. She and I have some catching up to do."