Work Hazard: Chapter 9
“Don't you know better than to oppose Lord Orochimaru, Kakashi?” Ukon's voice is dark and threatening. He's good and he knows it. Ukon is also smart enough to realize that he's no match for Kakashi alone. He's only going to delay him while Tayuya and Jirobo take care of the Uchiha brat.
“I don't serve snakes.” Kakashi's movements are fast and deadly. If Ukon missteps just once, Kakashi will take advantage of the opening to break his neck and get to Sasuke. The worry he feels for the boy isn't new and if Kakashi had time to reflect on it, he'd realize that ever since the boy left the room, he's felt something astray.
His opponent is good, but not that good. Not good enough to hold his own against Kakashi for long. Kakashi's focus is entirely on the other man, keeping track of his movement and assimilating his fighting style. After blocking the man's fast hits for a few more seconds, Kakashi knows.
The next time the man raises his left leg for a kick, Kakashi uses the opening. He twists around the leg and strikes, his knee pushing sharply into the other man's thigh while his elbow slams right into the throat. Ukon coughs and clutches his neck desperately.
He can't take in any air, the airway's collapsing under the strength of Kakashi's blow. Panicked, Ukon drops to his knees, forgetting all about the other man. He whips out his knife from the belt and aims to slash into his throat. It'll be messy and bloody and hurt like all fucking hell, but it might allow him to survive.
Kakashi dismisses Ukon with a kick to the side, making him miss his mark and slash the empty air. He quickly locates Sasuke on the floor of the corridor. It's in that single second, watching Sasuke's body completely still and his wet hair plastered over his beautifully perfect face, that Kakashi understands how important Sasuke became in those few days. Thinking that the boy might be dead freezes Kakashi solid.
Kakashi hasn't frozen in the middle of a fight for years. Not since Obito. That moment of fear costs him immensely. It costs him Sasuke, because at that moment, a gun goes off from behind Kakashi.
Stumbling, Kakashi doesn't register that he's been shot until he drops to his knees. He watches a large man in a Mohawk come out of room 102 and bend to pick up Sasuke's body from the floor even as Kakashi himself drops to the ground. He's been shot. Fuck. His cheek slams on the harsh, cold ceramic and all he can do is watch.
There's no pain at all, but no matter how much he tries, Kakashi can't move. Can't force himself to stand up, grab the redheaded woman with the gun and twist her neck. Can't pick up Sasuke's limp body and carry him away to safety. Kakashi wonders where the new scar will be. His eyes stay open and he spots a crimson mark on the big man's chest that looks suspiciously like a bite. Good boy. Give them hell.
The redhead kicks Sasuke's limp body once before the big man takes him over his shoulder and Kakashi engraves her face in his mind. This one won't have a quick death.
Sirens ring in the distance. Kakashi's vision dims. Well this sucks.
The doors of the hotel fly open and in steps Uchiha Itachi. He looks positively murderous. The might of his anger betrays his worry and fear for his little brother. It takes Itachi about three seconds to piece together all that happened here. Sasuke's cell phone by the couch, the body of the receptionist tagged 'Andrew', the dark marks of shots in the walls, Kakashi's body in the center of the room, his hands extended towards the corridor.
Sasuke is missing. He was attacked, shot at and subdued, then taken out the back of the hotel. A heavy weight of fear settles in Itachi's gut and it freezes his handsome features with pain. My only weakness...
Hyuuga Neji is beside him, and Uzumaki also. Itachi will kill Uzumaki if the boy speaks. He lost Sasuke's trail. That is unforgivable. If there weren't more pressing matters at hand... if Itachi didn't need all the manpower he could get... He'd get rid of the Uzumaki right here and now. He'd make him eat Sasuke's cell phone and watch him choke on it.
“That's Kakashi.” The Hyuuga's voice breaks the silence and Itachi looks up in time to watch Neji lightly kick at Kakashi's limp body, then kneel beside it.
Neji, after making sure that Kakashi wasn't shot in the back, rolls him to see his front. He runs a quick hand over the bare chest and assesses the man's condition. “Chest wound, the lungs are intact, it's not fatal, but he needs treatment.”
The doors again burst open and this time, armed policemen step inside, guns drawn and trained on the three standing men in the room.
Itachi doesn't look at them. He's staring at Kakashi with the closest thing to hatred as he can get. This man is responsible for Sasuke's presence in this hotel. He's as guilty as the Uzumaki if not more.
The Uchiha prodigy can feel his skin prickle with anger. The man's half naked. It doesn't take a genius to deduce what exactly might have happened between a half-naked older man and his too-daring, stubborn brother.
Taking a calming breath, Itachi turns to look at the men holding guns on him. He raises a brow and takes out his ID, throwing it at the captain. After that... well let's say the weapons are dropped faster than the eye can see. “Captain, I want this man in solitary confinement at the hospital. He's responsible for the kidnapping of my little brother. Get your men to work on clean-up. Uzumaki...” the name is spit out icily, “Stay here and coordinate the efforts. Hyuuga, ride the ambulance, make sure they keep him restrained or unconscious.”
After the orders have been given, Itachi exits the hotel, leaving behind him an icy aura of anger, worry and pain. The men feel it and grow edgy, jumping at every small thing as they reassure the guests of the hotel, take pictures and prints, then finally carry the still body of 'Andrew' away on a stretcher.
Behind the hotel, Itachi shuts his eyes and allows himself just a moment to act on what he feels. His fist slams into the brick wall and his jaw clenches tightly. He murmurs to himself, “Just be alright, otouto. I'm coming for you.” When Itachi looks up, his knuckles are bleeding, but his eyes and face have returned to their intimidating cold. There's an added edge to the sharpness of his gaze, “I'll kill them all.”
Hours later, in a small, white hospital room, Kakashi stirs. His eyes are shut, body unmoving, mind asleep, but Kakashi grows aware of his surroundings in that instinctive manner which will soon bring him to wake properly.
The bullet went through his right shoulder, almost overlapping the old scar which reminds him of Obito. The irony doesn't thrill him. His wrists are restrained with the usual hospital bonds, which means it'll be relatively easy to get free. He's alone, in pain and there's a weight settling tightly in his gut. Kakashi is reluctant to identify it as guilt and concern.
How he went from wanting to kidnap the boy to needing to protect him with his life, Kakashi will never know. The fact remains unavoidable and raw: Kakashi needs to protect Sasuke and he failed.
It stings, failure. Obito would roll his eyes and tell him to snap the hell out of it already. You've got a lover to rescue, don't feeling sorry for yourself.
After the events of the night, Kakashi would be hard-pressed to deny that, but the title sounds so much softer than it should.
Lying in his hospital bed, only conscious enough to think, Kakashi has an epiphany.
Denial is dumb.
Because Kakashi likes that kid. Likes him well enough to get shot and feel guilty about it. When Kakashi had heard the shots, he hadn't been thinking. He'd just reacted with the deep-set, instinctive need to protect the boy and he'd barreled down the stairs and into a fight without analyzing the why, where, who and maybe it's best to trail and rescue.
He'd been stupid with rash feeling. Because he really likes that boy, that smirk, the fragile confidence and blind dare.
Kakashi remembers the boy's hands. Long, thinly elegant white fingers trembling finely, curling and unfolding with nerves and courage. He can see them stained with blood.
Face it, you fell for the kid. Now go get him before anything happens to him.
He can't hear anyone's breathing in the room, no sense of presence, no footsteps approaching. Kakashi thinks it's fairly safe to open his eyes.
The light assaults his eyes first. Blinking heavily, Kakashi manages to see past the glaring white of the neon glow. He meets a pair of dead black eyes that nearly sends shivers up his spine. Those eyes have made hundreds of people tremble with terror... those unemotional, empty and inhuman eyes.
Uchiha Itachi is not pleased.
“Hatake Kakashi.” The voice leaves frost in its wake.
“Uchiha Itachi.” It's a cool greeting. Kakashi feels the edge of the killer inside him pushing forth. He feels the competition.
The dark-haired man stands, looking down at Kakashi's bound hands. “Did you touch him?”
“I'd hoped you knew better than to ask questions you already know the answer to.”
There's no answer to that. Kakashi doesn't count it as a victory. He tries to keep his gaze on Itachi, watch what he'll do, but it seems just the prolonged eye-contact is poison in and of itself.
Kakashi never looks into the eyes of his targets when he shoots. It's that which saves Kakashi's humanity, despite the fact that he kills other human beings for a living. He doesn't look into their eyes, doesn't see the life leaving them slowly, doesn't see the spark of presence extinguished by his own hand.
What Kakashi does is more impersonal than that. He ends a life. He pulls the trigger and kills people. It's not pretty, and it's not cool or admirable. It's dirty and ugly and all those words that are never said... Kakashi knows that. He can live with ending someone else's life. He can't live with watching those people's eyes grow dumb with death.
Looking into Itachi's pure black eyes, Kakashi can tell that this is a man who can live with it. Itachi can live with watching people's eyes grow dead.
A finger slides over the puncture wound on Kakashi's shoulder, badly attempting to mimic a tender touch. Kakashi can't stop the shiver along his spine this time. Those elegant fingers travel around the wound. The index and thumb grasp onto the bandage and slowly pull at it until the bleeding red circle of pierced flesh is revealed.
Itachi's gaze remains on Kakashi's, pinning him like a flailing butterfly.
The most agile finger, the index, scratches lightly at the scored flesh. The doctors haven't sewn it shut yet. Itachi's finger finds the edge of the skin, the part where the flesh is pushed inside Kakashi's shoulder with the path of the bullet. The tip of Itachi's finger pushes inside the puncture, tearing flesh anew as it searches for purchase.
Kakashi clenches his teeth against the pain roaming over his body. The effort brings beads of sweat to gather in the small of his back.
Itachi feels the torn edges of skin among all the wetness of blood and sleek, raw flesh of Kakashi's shoulder. His thumb comes to join the index and together, they pinch the side of Kakashi's gunshot wound, gathering only the small layer of skin.
With one harsh move, Itachi tears the skin, pulling a line of the hide from the wound and until the skin thins and detaches itself from Kakashi's chest.
Unable to stop himself, Kakashi lets out a scream. He bites down on it halfway, his vision going black with the pain.
Itachi takes the small triangle of torn skin between his thumb and index and carefully puts it by Kakashi's bed, on the table that serves as a nightstand. He uses the bandage that was on Kakashi's chest to wipe his fingers clean of blood.
Several panting breaths have Kakashi clinging to consciousness by an inch.
“Would you like some water now, Hatake Kakashi?”
Unable to answer, Kakashi keeps trying to breathe past the pain that makes every inch of his skin prickle and burn. Before long, a straw is pressed between his panting lips and Kakashi sips the fresh, cool water down his throat.
It makes the edges of the pain slide away for a few minutes. Kakashi can once again focus an impassible look on Itachi.
“Did you touch him?”
The torn skin on his nightstand mocks Kakashi, daring him to crack another wise-ass comment.
The silence is ominous. Kakashi expects those falsely gentle fingers on his shoulder again.
“Did you hurt him?”
Kakashi's taxed brain thinks there's something funny among all this. Not entirely sure what it is, Kakashi nonetheless smiles, “No.”
“You like him.” There's nothing to be deduced from the tone, so Kakashi keeps grinning.
“Unfortunately, very much so.” Ah, is that what was so funny? Kakashi wonders whether Itachi would pull more skin off if he asked him to date his brother.
More silence. It lasts for so long this time that Kakashi feels some anger clawing at his mind. Because while Itachi is here, staring down Kakashi, Sasuke is in grave danger and neither of them are doing anything about it. That is even more fundamentally wrong than falling for a kid ten years younger.
“You will help me find him.” It's not an order, not a question, “Even if I tear off your skin, piece by piece.”
“I'll go through great pains to avoid that. But yes.” Even go as far as shooting off those goddamn pretty fingers of yours. But Kakashi would find Sasuke with or without Itachi's help. He figures someone on the right side of law enforcement might have more options though. Especially if combined with the specific talents of one Hatake Kakashi.
Itachi's index has blood crusting under the nail. He looks at it with something akin to disgust and two seconds later, it reaches for the bonds on Kakashi's wrists. The agile fingers make quick work of the restraints. “There will be more pain when they sew you up.”
Kakashi feels irrational anger filling him. Of course you bastard there's no fucking skin to sew... He quickly clamps down on the thought. A man like Uchiha Itachi doesn't need to threaten.
Before he can stop himself, Kakashi grabs the man's wrist firmly. He's painfully reminded of Sasuke's slender fingers on him, but it's an image he dismisses quickly.
Itachi looks at his trapped hand like it doesn't even belong to him and raises an expectant eyebrow at Kakashi.
“Do not touch me again, Uchiha Itachi.”
For perhaps the first time, Kakashi sees something flash across Itachi's unfeeling features. It's in the lift of the skin attached to his mouth, a move for an almost smirk. Itachi looks amused.
“Hatake Kakashi, I do not need to touch you to hurt, or kill you.”
When Sasuke wakes, the first thing he becomes aware of is the music. A strong and high female voice fills the air, wraps around every edge of the room. Distantly, Sasuke's mind associates the voice, the rhythm and the notes with 'The Flower Duet'.
With that powerful, beautiful voice come several other realizations. Sasuke's lying on something soft, his cheek brushes silky material, his right hip digs into a plump cushion. Nausea threatens, and everything other than the soft cushions is but a spinning blur.
After a little while, the dizziness fades, the notes grow more urgent, a climax of music. Sasuke comes to realize that his hands are tied behind his back.
Instantly, his eyes snap open and he's staring into the blood red silk of bedsheets.
“Finally awake, I see.” The voice threads more slowly over the 's'. It's a nice voice, a little raspy, a little high, but pleasant to hear. Sasuke doesn't like it. He shifts his position to face the man, only to be swept in another wave of dizziness.
“I must apologize for the inconvenience. The drug isn't fully out of your system quite yet.”
Sasuke carefully wets his lips, unaware of the eyes following the small end of the pink tongue traveling over shapely lips. He can see the man now. Handsome, tall, creepy. Long black hair, strangely yellow-ish green eyes, deathly pale skin. Swallowing, Sasuke tries to ask, “Who are you?” He finds his throat too dry to properly word the question.
“My name is Orochimaru. We'll get plenty of time to get to know one another, I assure you.” Orochimaru's smile sends warnings screaming into Sasuke's mind. A hand begins to thread through Sasuke's hair. It feels as if it's testing the softness instead of caressing. Sasuke wants to bite the man. Beat him over the head until his lips can't form that specific line of intimidating eagerness. Unable to sort his thoughts with his mind still addled by the drug, Sasuke says the first thing that comes, “Keep your dirty hands off me.” It doesn't sound nearly as clear as Sasuke had hoped, but from the flash of anger in those odd green eyes, Sasuke guesses it carried over its rightful meaning.
The hand tightens in his hair and before long, Sasuke's wincing at the pain of the hold. “You'll learn, boy.” Orochimaru's tone is softly pleasant. His hold is so tight Sasuke can feel tears involuntarily gathering to the corner of his eyes.
When he's released, Sasuke fights another bout of dizziness and the voice of the woman shifts into soft piano notes that smell of tragedy.
“Rest, my beauty... I'll be back soon.”
Sasuke is afraid. He can't deny it or try to change it. He's frozen solid with fear he can't explain. The man exits the room, leaving Sasuke alone.
The second the door shuts, Sasuke tests his bonds, trying to sit up and look around. His body reminds him that it's a very dumb idea to move around when drugged and he drops the two inches he'd managed to climb.
His cheek rests on the red silk.
“I want you safe. I can't let someone use you against me, Sasuke, do you understand that?”
The memory is striking and Sasuke suddenly wishes he'd told Kakashi 'I'm peaceful with you', wishes he'd told Naruto 'It's okay, we're friends' and Neji 'I'm sorry, you're important to me.'
Most of all though, Sasuke wishes he'd told his brother 'I love you, too'. He's afraid now that he'll never get the chance.