Work Hazard: Chapter 10
Uchiha Itachi is seated in a large rocking chair which he holds perfectly still with his two feet firmly planted on the ground, his hands gracefully folded over one another. His elbows are on the armrests and his back ramrod straight. He is the picture of cold hatred in every smooth line of his face, his smoothly shut eyes, the neutral curve of his lip and the minute tightening of his jaw.
Hyuuga Neji rests in a similar position, his expression betraying nothing. He doesn't project the same aura of danger and icy hatred as Itachi does, but his countenance speaks of raw anger. His eyes tell a different story though, they say I'm worried sick.
Uzumaki Naruto is a different matter entirely. Perhaps the only reason he is still here, allowed to look for Sasuke, is because he is the only one to show outward worry. He fists his hands, nails digging in the palms. He paces, curses, flinches at sounds and makes devoted promises concerning the kidnappers' fates. Perhaps Itachi let Naruto tag along because the boy expressed what he denies himself.
Hatake Kakashi watches each in turn, his body still throbbing with pain but his mind entirely focused. He may be a recent acquaintance of Sasuke's but there's just something there he can't deny. Something that can't be worded which claws at Kakashi's mind. That wordless something says it won't go away until Kakashi can once again hold the boy's small body in his arms, feel his cool fingers and smell his clean scent.
Some would call it worry, but Kakashi suspects it's more than that. Ever since Itachi ripped off part of his shoulder (the asshole) Kakashi's been hard-pressed to even attempt anything resembling denial.
His heart has decided on the kid. Kakashi can deal with everything including the guilt and bullshit that comes with Sasuke's age, but having the boy taken away now makes him feel as though he's lost part of himself. Which should be a preposterous idea.
Itachi opens his eyes. “The license plate glimpsed on the cameras is a dead end. The van was dumped a few miles to the North of the city. It was torched.” Standing from his seat, Itachi opens the folder and drops four pictures on the table in the center of the room.
“These are the people who kidnapped Sasuke. They are known as The Sound Four. Veterans of Orochimaru's troops. This one...” Itachi points to the picture of a very large man, hair cut in that strange mohawk Kakashi had glimpsed over Sasuke's body. “Is named Jirobo Nagashi. His father was Fugaku Nagashi and worked as a carpenter for several years in Western Germany where he also dealt out cocaine through several female prostitutes. His mother was Akeno Mitake, a common whore who badmouthed him through his childhood. His father became violent after the birth of a second child. He killed both the mother and the youngest child in a violent rage. Jirobo was apprehended for manslaughter a few years later in Boston. It took six men to bring him in. He's the most physically powerful of the four.” The summary is spoken in that same cold tone which promises death. No sympathy touches Itachi's voice, not even as he speaks of the murder of mother and child.
Next comes the picture of the man Kakashi nearly killed. The silver hair is brushed over the man's right eye as it had been during the fight. “Sakon Chiba. Also known as Ukon Chiba. Born in Louisiana, dropped in an orphanage at the age of three by a junkie mother. Her name and status are unknown. The head of the orphanage was arrested for pedophilia and physical abuse of the children entrusted to him. As a result, Sakon was left to fend for himself on the streets. Multiple arrests for small crimes until premeditated mutilation and murder of three women. He got off the death penalty by pleading insanity and was found with Multiple Personality Disorder. He's a martial arts expert and more of a threat in close combat than anywhere else.”
Itachi pauses the briefing to drink some water. Just the thought of Sasuke in the hands of these people is enough to make his fingers itch to kill.
Kakashi finds himself in a similar predicament. His ability to relate to these people's tragedies is completely shot and he just hopes he gets to put an end to some of their miseries. They touched him.
Neji is a bit disturbed by the information disclosed by the Uchiha. He thinks that if Itachi thought it was relevant, he would be able to tell what they had for breakfast. That's how thick those files are. Naruto, for his part, is radiating nervous energy. He couldn't help but feel pity for Sakon the second he heard the word 'orphan' come out of Itachi's mouth.
The picture of the girl comes next. Fiery red hair, cruel brown eyes. “Tayuya Morikawa. Her specialty is distance fighting, guns, throwing knives, bow. There isn't much of a criminal record for her which proves that if anything, she's smart enough to stay out of jail. The only thing she's ever been charged with is prostitution a few years ago, despite the hints that she brought death to many, many clients.”
The last on the table is a brown-skinned man with a too large mouth and too yellow eyes. “Kidomaru Sakuya. No criminal record, no background information apart from perfect school records and a bachelor degree in criminology. He's the driver, that's why he's on none of the security cameras.”
Another break to let the three men in the room absorb the information. Then Itachi starts again, “Orochimaru will not keep Sasuke in any of his existing hideouts. I know of them all and agents will keep me posted. He'll want to avoid notice. He's smart enough to know that laws won't apply now that he has something dear to me. He will need to move out of his comfort zone and create a temporary lair on short notice. The only trust-worthy agents he will use are those four. Finding them is finding Sasuke.”
There's a moment of silence, quickly broken by Naruto, “So how do we track'em?”
Itachi stands from his curled up position, the walk a graceful stretch of its own. “Orochimaru could have taken Sasuke far away in the hours we've used to regroup. He could have taken him to another country entirely.”
Kakashi interrupts Itachi with a pacifying raised hand (his left one). He figures he might as well start being useful and show signs of trustworthiness. “Orochimaru's aim is you, Itachi. Sasuke is just the means to an end. He could have taken the boy far away, but he won't. He wants to play. He's probably still in the city.”
Neji's gaze is drawn to Kakashi with a cold glare the second the deep, lazy voice sounds in the room. The Hyuuga looks completely disgusted with Kakashi's presence and has made a point of ignoring him, and failing that, glaring at him.
The older Uchiha nods and adds, “This is the perimeter we'll extend our search to.” Itachi rolls down the map from the wall and circles the concerned area with a red marker. “Speed is of essence. Every second we spend discussing is a second more that Sasuke spends in the hands of this... snake.” The word is filled with hatred, yet seems completely void of emotion. “We need to find The Sound Four. There are tools which will make the task much easier.” Itachi turns and fixes a look on the Uzumaki.
Naruto feels the Uchiha's gaze set on him intently. He blinks a little worriedly, then asks, “What? Why are you looking at me like that?”
This is stupid. Naruto growls under his breath as he tugs the material down his thigh to cover up as much skin as it possibly can.
“Stop fussing, Naruto, you'll stretch it.” Neji's cool voice is unbearably amused.
“That's the point. Damnit, it hardly even covers my ass!” Naruto attempts to pull tight mini-skirt lower, only to have his hands slapped away.
“That is the point, Naruto. Now finish dressing.” The Hyuuga holds up Naruto's intended top and the blond's eyes go wide with horror at the sight of it.
“I am not wearing that!”
“You're wearing a skirt. I don't see how adding a bra to the mix can humiliate you any further.”
“Gee thanks Neji, that's a big help.” Grumbling, Naruto grabs the small strings and tries to lace them around his bare torso, making a horrible mess of it all. “How do girls stand those things?”
If the situation weren't so dire, Neji would permit himself a smile. Hell, he'd even permit himself a laugh. As things are, he allows his pale eyes to reflect his amusement and grabs both of Naruto's arms to hold him still. “Stay.”
Taking a hold of the small piece of clothing, Neji neatly drapes it around Naruto. His fingers brush against Naruto's warm skin as he finishes with the straps. It's odd how Naruto can produce so much heat, like his body always exudes excess energy. Neji coolly dismisses the urge to lean in and taste the boy's warmth. He instead stuffs the bra with special water-filled pads so they'll feel as real as they look.
Naruto holds relatively still during the entire process (if you don't count leg bouncing and weight shifting). “This is humiliating. Why the hell aren't you the one dressing up?”
Smirking, Neji answers, “Kidomaru likes blonds. Besides, I'm just too much of a man to make a good woman.”
Naruto's jaw drops in sheer outrage. He grabs Neji's shoulder and pulls him back onto a stretched out leg, tripping him and following the movement to straddle the boy's waist.
The Hyuuga finds himself with a lapful of half-naked, wriggling blond. Needless to say, he's not the least bit pleased about it. (Really.)
“Who's more of a man now, huh?” It takes Naruto a few seconds to realize the situation he's put himself in. Neji's hair is spread out below him and both of Naruto's hands rest firmly on the other boy's chest. Anyone would be rightfully confused at witnessing the compromising position.
Naruto jumps off the Hyuuga faster than the eye can see.
Neji takes his time standing up, dusting himself off with so much pride it has to hurt. So Naruto just laughs it off before it becomes awkward, “I'd like to see you with your cock and balls trapped in women's underwear looking as good as me!”
You utter moron... If you want to avoid sexual innuendo, don't talk about your dick.
It's immensely sobering for Naruto to realize that his inner voice sounds just like Sasuke. He goes from flustered to serious, grabbing the rest of his clothing and putting it on without a word. As he ties the thigh-high boots around his too-muscular legs, he chances a look at Neji, “He'll be alright, won't he?”
The Hyuuga gives a sigh and straps his gun to his hip, “Yeah.” He doesn't know who he's trying to convince.
Silence fills the room where Kakashi and Itachi are gearing up. The fact that Kakashi has to be terribly careful about his right arm reinforces the need for silence. Because Kakashi is not talking to that man on a voluntary basis.
“Don't sulk. It doesn't suit you.”
Kakashi grits his teeth and remains silent. He's positive that Itachi isn't making conversation because the silence was bothering him. He's going to be testing and prodding Kakashi for the duration of this rescue operation... if not until the end of his days.
Better get used to it, then. He's almost family.
Something about that thought is just too much for Kakashi and he chokes on an amused laugh. Itachi does have a point though. They will need to cooperate and work together for Sasuke's sake. Perhaps the silent treatment isn't the best way to go about things. Despite the fact that the man viciously tore shreds of Kakashi's shoulder.
“Why did you choose law enforcement?” The question has been in the back of Kakashi's mind for a while now. Someone as ruthlessly intelligent as Itachi would have a much better chance on the wrong side of the law. There's also something in the man that speaks of chaos and the need to fight against established order. Kakashi would see him as a sociopath much sooner than a hero.
For a second, Kakashi thinks about asking what the hell that's supposed to mean, but he glimpses Itachi's eyes on him, searching for a reaction. It's a far-fetched link but Kakashi's mind makes the leap almost effortlessly. “Sasuke did. He's the reason you chose an honorable venue.”
If Kakashi didn't know any better, he'd swear that's a glint of amusement in the older Uchiha's eyes.
“Understand this, Kakashi: Sasuke may feel attached to you, he may even grow to be a fool about love... but he is mine as he always has been.” In the silence that follows, Kakashi can hear the unspoken 'Mine like I am his.'
“As cliché as it may seem, I think your brother's heart is big enough for more than one person, Uchiha Itachi.” Kakashi knows that Itachi can hear the unspoken, 'Unlike the both of us.'
“For your sake, I hope so.”
Bright morning light hesitantly peaks through dark curtains and onto the naked skin of Sasuke's neck. At some point during the night, the wrists which were tightly bonded together behind Sasuke's back have been freed.
The boy is lying on his stomach on the dark red sheets and Orochimaru watches the gentle curve of his spine, the sharp angles of his thin shoulders, the tempting softness of the hips disappearing under the covers. The eyes are firmly shut, long lashes nearly brushing flawless cheeks. One of the hands is drawn close to the mouth in a loose fist. It prevents Orochimaru from watching the boy's mouth, but it also provides him with the picture of a childlike gesture, so fully innocent.
That's what the boy looks like, laying on his stomach, asleep and unaware of the eyes on him. He looks like innocence, he looks like something Orochimaru had needed to have, a long time ago. He looks like something Orochimaru needs to break, today.
It's not quite enough though.
Standing, Orochimaru takes the two steps separating him from the bedside and the very tip of his fingers lightly trace the boy's spine. Soft. Unmarred. Beautiful.
It's not enough to break the boy. Orochimaru needs to taint him, twist him until that thoughtless beauty becomes the most dangerous weapon in the world, until the boy can't look at himself in the mirror without seeing death.
“Wake up, young one. You've slept enough now.” Orochimaru's voice is soft but it's enough to rouse the boy.
Sasuke opens his eyes to the blinding light and he immediately shuts them again, shifting away from it and unknowingly closer to the predator in the room. His head is pounding and his body doesn't seem to be answering any direct commands when prompted. Wetting his lips, Sasuke attempts to open his eyes again, this time merely squinting at the light as he turns his head away from it.
“You've been sleeping for quite a while. I trust you're well rested?”
Sense of direction doesn't come back instantly to Sasuke. He's not entirely sure where he is or how he got there, but the voice sends tendrils of fear down his spine. It's enough for him to know that he needs to escape. A few seconds later, upon realizing that his wrists are free, Sasuke pushes himself off the bed.
He doesn't get to go far. The sound of rattling chains comes first, then the sharp bite of a collar around his neck jerks Sasuke to a stop. His hands immediately fly up to the metal necklace and a deep red flush of anger and humiliation colors Sasuke's pale flesh. It takes him a few seconds more to focus his glare on the man in the room. The reality of the situation heightens Sasuke's perception and he can tell that the man is out of range, the chain is silver colored and relatively thin but it's far too strong and soft to be silver, it will allow Sasuke to get within inches of the man's throat, but pull him sharply back before any real damage is done.
Sasuke wraps the chain around his hand, as if by taking a hold of his leash, he takes control of his captivity. “What the fuck do you want from me?” Sasuke is naked from the waist up. He's lying on a bed with silk sheets, collared like a slave and just as captive. It's obvious what the man wants.
Orochimaru takes a step closer, smiling that eerie smile.
If he gets just an inch closer, Sasuke will kill him. The murderous intent is written in Sasuke's gaze. This man is dangerous in too many ways, Sasuke knows that.
Orochimaru walks that other step. Sasuke springs into action.
The man blocks Sasuke's fist easily, he deflects the kick with little more difficulty, but the free elbow catches the side of his chest and damn that boy has potential. Orochimaru gives one strike to Sasuke's stomach that has the boy bending over reflexively. From there it's a matter of seconds before Sasuke is pressed to the mattress on his stomach, both wrists caught in a vice-like grip behind his back.
Sasuke can feel Orochimaru's breath on his neck, can taste his need and it sickens him. He twists and bucks against the firm hold, kicking a thigh, hitting Orochimaru's face with the back of his head. There's just no way in hell he'll make this easy for the man.
Keeping a hold of the struggling boy is proving more of a challenge than the older man had thought. In the end though, it's a matter of leverage. Orochimaru plants a knee in the small of Sasuke's back and one of his hands fists in the boy's hair, holding his head down to the mattress, cutting off his air supply.
When Sasuke starts to feel lightheaded from the lack of oxygen, he relaxes his muscles, slumping into the mattress, yet Orochimaru doesn't ease the pressure. He keeps pressing down on the boy, choking him until darkness comes.
Sasuke's last thought has something to do about remaining conscious for more than five minutes if he ever wakes up.