He'd gotten a contract, and had been checking out the area to be prepared for tomorrow. It was a decent part of town, but it still had its dark streets and alleys to be avoided--Kakashi, of course, took them for the autonomy--and on his way back home he met the kid.
Though 'discovered' would be a better term. Or 'actively sought out.' He'd noticed the pale blurs of face and hands in the dusk of the back street, but the reason he went looking for the source instead of moving around it was because he smelled the blood long before he got to the kid.
The kid had stopped trying to stanch the wound on his forearm when he overheard his approach; and by the time Kakashi leaned over the pile of boxes and stared down at him, the boy was pressed so close to the wall it looked like he was trying to molecularly bond with it.
"Lost the fight, huh?" Kakashi said casually.
"Fuck off," the kid rasped. He wasn't slurring, so it didn't seem like he'd lost that much blood . . . but the smell. . . .
It was blatantly asking for trouble; but Kakashi had a thing about strays. It was one of the downsides of being a dog person.
He reached down and grabbed the boy's collar, hauling him up. "C'mon, I've got bandages at my apartment."
The kid, not surprisingly, lashed out. "Let go of me! Bastard!!"
"You want to bleed out unconscious on the street?" Kakashi asked curiously.
The kid made an angry noise and took another swipe at his arm, and wound up overbalancing and stumbling over his own feet. Kakashi caught him by the neck and pushed him forward. After a minute, the boy began walking, pressing the hem of his shirt against the cut on his arm and muttering curses.
It wasn't until they got into the lit street that Kakashi realized the kid's clothes were completely stained with blood. They were black, so it was mostly hidden; but he still took back routes and breathed a little easier once the door to his apartment was closed.
The kid remained by the door as Kakashi pulled the blinds down. Kakashi studied him from the corner of his eye.
"Those clothes are done for," he commented. "Should I dump you at a hospital instead?"
"It's not mine," the boy said hoarsely.
There were angry marks around his throat that Kakashi could tell were going to become bruises. They were too big for the boy's own hands.
He might have killed someone in self-defense--which the police would still frown on, but at least Kakashi would be able to claim he'd just been playing good Samaritan--but if he'd been roughed up that much, he probably didn't have the ability to go on a murder spree. So, this was either an excellent actor, or a kid still a little shell-shocked by whatever had happened to him. Kakashi decided his life was too placid of late and assumed the latter.
"You need to wash that off before I can wrap it," Kakashi said, indicating his arm. "The bathroom's that door there, or you can do it at the sink."
The kid didn't like being touched. He sat stiffly in the chair as Kakashi worked, biting down hisses while he applied iodine. There was dried blood streaked along his hairline and down his temple.
Kakashi had planned on pushing him out after bandaging his arm, but that was before he saw how quickly the bruises on the kid's throat darkened. That, and the fact that his clothes could almost stand up straight with all the dried blood on them. It wouldn't look good if he walked through Kakashi's door like that. He had a low profile to keep.
"Are you hungry?" he asked, standing.
"No," the kid said shortly.
Kakashi shrugged and began to throw together dinner.
He made extra, set the plate in front of the boy, and was unsurprised when he began to eat anyway. A brat, he decided.
"You'd better wash those," he said, when the boy finished.
The hard, sharp look the kid threw him this time was different from the previous ones. "What am I supposed to wear then?"
"You've got to shower eventually," Kakashi pointed out. "There's blood in your hair."
The kid swallowed at that, but continued to glare warily.
Kakashi raised an eyebrow, but returned the glare with a comfortable, unthreatening look. "By the time you get all that dried blood off, they'll be clean. I can't promise a miracle, but it's better than leaving them like that." He paused, and when the kid's expression didn't change, added: "You can lock the door if you want."
The boy stared at him with narrowed eyes for another minute, but eventually--silently--took the offer. He managed to shove the clothes outside the bathroom door through a small crack.
There was only so much one washing machine and a quarter cup of strong detergent could do. The kid's clothes were beyond repair; but they were wearable enough that they would get him to wherever he was going. Kakashi dropped them on the floor in front of the bathroom door. He noticed the kid pull them in quickly while he was unearthing a spare blanket from the closet.
"You can sleep here for tonight," Kakashi said, when the boy re-emerged, throwing the blanket over the back of the couch. "The bandages need to be redone."
"I can do it."
Kakashi shrugged a shoulder. "Okay. Don't steal anything."
The kid continued to stare at him with distrustful, dark eyes. Kakashi strode past into the bathroom, and made a note to throw the towel and washrag the boy had used into the trash of a neighboring apartment complex.
Most people would lock their bedroom doors after inviting an unknown, bloodstained teenager into their living room for the night. Kakashi kept his slightly open. He had better hearing than most people.
He woke up when the kid started moving outside, the faint creak of the floorboard beside the couch giving him away. All the weapons Kakashi owned were in this room, including the kitchen knives--he'd moved those while the kid was showering--and the boy didn't have any weapons in his clothes that he'd found. There was a chance that he'd kept one in the bathroom with him, though, which was why Kakashi had a knife under his pillow. He shifted his hand closer to it and listened as the kid started toward his door, hesitated, and then came inside.
At the first rustle of clothes Kakashi wrapped his hand around the knife hilt. At the extended rustling, he frowned internally. It's like . . . no, why would. . . .
Yep. That was the kid, climbing under his sheet. Naked, apparently.
The kid lay still while Kakashi patted him down, slower than usual because he wasn't taking his other hand off the knife. The boy was close enough that Kakashi could see the tenseness in his neck muscles as he did so. The bruises looked more painful against the cords. His hair was still damp.
Kakashi loosened his grip on the handle a little when he determined that the boy didn't have any weapons. "Would you go back to the couch?"
The kid started. "What?
"I don't expect sexual favors for bandages," he replied.
The kid was silent for a moment, eyes narrowed, frowning. "What do you want? I don't have any money."
"I don't want money, either."
The boy was curling away from him slightly. ". . . Then why? Who are you?"
Kakashi shrugged. "Would you get out of my bed now? It's warm enough in here already."
The kid left abruptly, in a flurry of embarrassment and jerked-on clothing, and Kakashi could hear him tossing on the couch for the next hour.
He didn't go back to sleep until the boy left, a couple hours before dawn.
When he took inventory of his apartment the next morning, he found that there was a pile of bloodied bandages dumped on his bathroom counter, half his medical kit was missing, the decoy two thousand yen he'd put under the plates in the cupboard was gone, and the refrigerator was now lacking in bread, lunchmeat, and cheese.
Kids today. Kakashi pulled out the coffee can and went to make breakfast.
The morning newspaper said that several families, all related, had been killed in their homes in the better-than-other-parts of town the previous afternoon. Kakashi skimmed the first paragraph and read the whole thing when he saw the word 'Uchiha.'
The Uchiha were rumored to have yakuza connections, supplying bodyguards for some of the bosses (which Kakashi already knew), and police were speculating that it had been the work of a rival gang. All the bodies had been identified, save two brothers. The older was twenty; the younger was still a minor, name withheld. Both were presumed dead.
"Huh," Kakashi said to the paper. Thought he looked similar. . . .
He folded it over to the next page and finished breakfast.
The next time he ran across the boy, he brushed it off as a coincidence. He didn't eat at that restaurant much, and he'd been sitting in a booth that let him see the door without being visible from it, and besides, the kid had come tearing into the place much too fast to have seen him from the outside, anyway. And the angry and then startled expression in his eyes when Kakashi grabbed his collar and wrenched him one-handed into the booth had looked pretty genuine.
"Hey," the kid started to snarl, and then Kakashi shoved him under the table. He shifted his legs and, by the time two men came stalking into the restaurant, had resumed eating his skewered chicken with all the casualness of the devil. He ignored the knife tip being pressed against his upper thigh.
He did move his left hand, so he would be able to grab the kid's wrist if he tried to stab him out of panic. Kakashi didn't care to treat an infected wound--who knew where that knife had been?
The poor waitress that the kid had knocked over in his race for the back door had picked herself up by then, and was speaking to her table in a even, if overly-bright, voice. The rest of the customers kept themselves uninvolved. That was what Kakashi liked about this part of town; though it would have sucked for the kid if he'd been caught.
Two minutes passed after the men had left before the boy finally took the damn knife away from his thigh. Another minute passed before he pulled himself up into the other seat. Kakashi signaled for the waitress.
She gave the kid a filthy look, tossed a menu at him, and quickly turned her attention to a table on the other side of the room.
"I can't pay," the kid said, ignoring the menu.
"Don't get anything expensive, then," Kakashi replied, and bit off a piece of green onion.
The boy ordered skewered chicken as well, and wolfed it down, much faster than the last time Kakashi had seen him eat. It had been a couple weeks--the bruises on his neck were gone, and there were bags under his eyes. He drained the glass of water when he was finished and left without saying thank you.
The next time Kakashi saw the boy, he thought vaguely of things like fate and stalkers, and wondered if that curse Rin had laid on him had just taken a few years to materialize.
The summer heat had settled on the city, and the kid was in short sleeves. He was still wearing dark colors, and kept rubbing his forehead with his arm in a futile attempt to keep the sweat out of his eyes. Kakashi slowed his pace slightly, shifted his sack of groceries to the other hand, and studied him.
The kid was leaning against a sign in front of a restaurant, speaking occasionally to the people that passed by on his side of the street. He looked bored and probably sounded it, too. The restaurant was a front for a bordello, Kakashi knew, though it was possible for the uninformed to go in, have a full meal, and leave none the wiser. The kid must have picked up a part-time job as a shill during the more normal hours; he wouldn't be working in the bordello himself. He was too young--he couldn't be more than sixteen, he looked like he was fourteen--and too male, for that particular place.
Probably not in the business officially at all, Kakashi decided. There were cuts along his arms, and the scar from the first night hadn't healed well--Kakashi assumed that would bring his price down. But then again, Kakashi didn't tend to buy men, or women, or anybody; it was too risky. So maybe there was a market for that sort of thing.
He is an attractive boy, Kakashi reflected. But he's getting too thin.
The kid wiped his forehead with his arm again, caught sight of Kakashi across the street, and stared for a moment. Then he glared down at the ground and wouldn't look up, even when people walked by.
Kakashi took pity and left. As he turned the corner, he heard a woman yelling in a loud voice to stop slacking off, but didn't pick up a name.
He got another contract, left the country for a week, celebrated with a vacation in a secluded beach village for another week and a half, and returned to the city only to have the kid knock on his door late in the evening on the second day after he was back.
"Do you have any ice?" the kid asked, staring at his threshold or possibly his shoes. Somebody had given him a hell of a black eye and cheek.
Kakashi held the door open.
"Lost another fight?" he asked, handing the icepack over. The kid bared his teeth, but didn't actually insult him.
The kid looked better than when Kakashi had seen him outside of the bordello. He looked like he was being fed regularly again; but the bags under his eyes were worse.
"He got a lucky hit," the kid snapped, and then grimaced and pressed the pack a little closer.
"Ah," Kakashi said noncommittally. He gave the kid's face an appraising look. "I'll put some ice in a bag for you when that's melted; that should get you home."
The kid's lips parted, and then shut in a thin line. He glared down at the table.
Kakashi looked at him for a moment, and then turned and preoccupied himself with getting the ziplock baggies out of the cabinet.
". . . I. Can I stay here? Tonight," the boy said in quiet rush.
Kakashi was not surprised, but he raised an eyebrow and looked over his shoulder anyway.
"We . . . fought over my new boss," the kid muttered. "He'll be looking for me at work. I don't want to put up with that dumbass again tonight."
"Is your boss going to be looking for you?" Kakashi asked, having come to the conclusion that the kid was far, far more trouble that he had first thought. Which, considering that he had been bleeding all over an alley, mostly with other people's blood, indicated a severe underestimation on his part.
"No," the kid replied, face straight and voice even, and Kakashi almost wasn't certain he was lying. But, his disbelieving look prompted the kid to add, "He'll think I left with that other guy. There's no way anyone would trace me to you. I don't even know you."
The kid had a point. But Kakashi was still alive because he had been the more paranoid one. "Unless he speaks to my neighbors."
"Why would he talk to them?" the kid demanded, pulling the icepack away to talk more clearly. "We don't even live in the same areas of town! I--look, I'll sleep on the couch, I won't bother--fuck this." He stood and threw the icepack on the table. "Never mind. Fuck you."
He slammed the door when he left, which annoyed both Kakashi and his neighbors.
Two jobs came before he saw the kid again, leaving him with a nice nine digit bank account and the inclination to relax for a while. He found the kid sleeping on the roof of his apartment complex, much to his displeasure. Kakashi leaned against a wall in front of the corner where the kid was curled up, and waited.
The kid looked thinner again, but the bags under his eyes were mostly gone. He had more bruises than before, but they looked like the results of fistfights rather than being throttled. His arms and face had the residue of sunburns.
The kid woke up quickly, but Kakashi still could have killed him five times in the interim. As he sat up and rubbed his eyes, Kakashi said, "If you're going to sleep outside, you should be more aware of your surroundings."
The boy automatically pulled the battered backpack he'd been using for a pillow around to his side. He grunted something and draped his arms over his knees, not bothering to stand.
"How long have you been coming here?" Kakashi asked, folding his arms.
"Your apartment's not you," the kid muttered. The heat from the long Indian summer combined with his sudden waking made him sound groggy. "It's not like I'm making trouble."
"I don't need my life upset because your boss is looking for you," Kakashi said.
"I'm not . . . working for him anymore," the boy replied, still quiet. "So you don't have to worry."
That explained the change in appearance yet again. ". . . Beat it, kid."
"Feed me," he answered, looking up. "I'll leave then."
The kid made an extra sandwich, wrapped it in a paper towel and stuffed it in his bag when he thought Kakashi wasn't looking. That caused the man to suspect he'd made it for someone else.
Eventually, the heat dropped enough degrees that people could start calling the weather 'fall;' and with that change came the seasonal rain. Kakashi went out for lunch, considering, as he did every year, leaving the city for a couple months until it was over. The humidity made him vaguely nauseous.
The sky was threatening that rain as he left the restaurant, and he spotted the kid a few streets down. Someone had given him a pair of long shorts, blue jean ones, and Kakashi realized that he'd only ever seen the kid wearing dark clothes.
He was slumped against a wall with another teenager, this one blond, and they were both being yelled at by a man with a ponytail. Kakashi watched the scene from the corner of his eye as he continued along the sidewalk, the noise of the traffic obscuring the sound. Two girls behind a flower stand outside a nearby grocery were also watching. The blonde one was snickering openly.
The blond pulled a face, which caused the man to grab a handful of his t-shirt. The man made an attempt to catch the kid, too, but he darted back and began running down the street. The blond shouted something after him.
The man heaved what looked like a long-suffering sigh, and began dragging the blond down the sidewalk with him. It wasn't an easy task--the teenager was obviously trying to break free, and was still shouting down the street at the kid. Something he said caused the man to look back unhappily; but he apparently had his priorities, and almost hauled the blond off his feet to keep him from chasing the kid further.
Kakashi watched the kid swerve in between pedestrians until he was out of sight, and then made his way home.
The rain came in the early evening, and not long after the sun went down, the kid knocked on Kakashi's door. He was using the backpack to shield his head from the rain, but it was a futile effort.
"No one noticed me come here," he said. "But they will if I keep standing around."
Kakashi thought how this was much more like keeping a stray cat than a dog, and made the kid leave his dripping backpack in the entryway.
The kid's shorts weren't actually shorts, Kakashi found, when he threw his clothes in the dryer. They were jeans that had been hacked off at the knees, lopsidedly enough that they'd been either sawed with a blade or cut with a pair of those tiny scissors Swiss army knives had.
The kid pulled his clothes back on as soon as he was out of the shower, while they were still damp. He ate the beef bowl Kakashi handed him with a rapaciousness that showed he was a growing teenager, but not a starving one. His legs looked more muscular than Kakashi remembered them feeling; the kid must have been running a lot over the summer.
"You look better," he said, sitting across the table from him.
The boy's eyes narrowed. "What's that mean?"
"You look like you're getting more sleep now," Kakashi replied.
The kid hesitated, then looked back at the bowl. He grunted something non-committal and took another mouthful.
When he finished, he rubbed the stray grains of rice off his mouth with a knuckle and asked, "Are you yakuza?"
"No," Kakashi replied.
The kid ate the last grains and wiped his mouth with his thumb. "But you're in that line," he said with certainty.
Kakashi raised an eyebrow, didn't agree or deny.
"Will you teach me how to shoot?" the kid asked.
"No," Kakashi replied again.
"I won't tell anyone it was you."
"I've seen a lot of people like you, kid," Kakashi said evenly. "Who thought righteous anger would actually get them something in this world. None of them succeeded. Most of them are dead."
The kid was sitting ramrod stiff now, eyes widened but glaring at him nonetheless.
"You," he hissed. "What do you know about it?"
"Only what the papers said," Kakashi replied, standing up easily and taking the bowl. "And since they declared you dead a couple months ago, I suspect they aren't the best source. But I don't help people commit suicide."
The kid didn't speak while he washed and dried the bowl. When Kakashi turned around, he was staring down at the table; but as soon as he noticed the man's movement from his peripheral vision, he looked up.
"Will you fight me, then?" the kid asked. "No weapons. Just a fight. I want to see how strong you are."
It was hard to tell if that was teenage bravado or if he was serious. There were some parts of the kid Kakashi couldn't read as well as others.
He thought it over for several minutes, examining the kid's poker face for cracks and hints, drying his hands on a paper towel. Then he threw it away and said: "Help me move the furniture."
There was a flash of expression on the kid's face, but he forced it down too fast for Kakashi to determine whether it was gratefulness or anticipation or a mixture of both.
The kid was a good fighter. Apparently his parents had already been training him.
His style at first was sloppier, more suited for fighting with opponents his own age that he wasn't actually trying to hurt; but when Kakashi kept landing hit after hit, he slid into a more professional one. It was reserved at the beginning, mostly blocking hits, but after a quarter of an hour the kid was able to read Kakashi's body language well enough to get aggressive with his attacks.
The way his left fingers kept curling slightly told Kakashi that he knew knife fighting, and that he was more used to it than to being weaponless. They must have already been training him in that, Kakashi noted, dodging a kick and striking out for the kid's throat, only to have him dart back out of reach. Guess he just wasn't old enough to start gun training.
"You're setting your feet wrong, kid," he said after another minute.
". . . Sasuke," the kid replied from the other side of the living room, standing in a waiting, defensive position. "My name is Sasuke."
"You're setting your feet wrong, Sasuke," he repeated. "Keeping your right behind you in that position will let you spring better, but puts excessive strain on it. You're damaging your ankle."
Sasuke shifted, moving to a classical footwork position. "Who are you?"
"Kakashi," he replied, a first name for a first name, and feinted for the ribs.
The kid was a good fighter, but Kakashi had too many advantages over him: size, height, speed (slightly), more endurance, and more years of practical experience. Sasuke had realized all that just as well as Kakashi had, but it only seemed to make him more determined to fight until he either won or exhausted himself.
Kakashi finally grew tired and smashed his arm hard into Sasuke's neck, making the kid collapse to the floor and stay there for a few minutes. Kakashi moved back in case Sasuke went for his legs, and then let his arms hang at his sides and caught his breath.
The kid pushed himself up sooner than he should have, arms straight where they were braced hard against the floor. He grimaced when a drop of sweat fell into his eyes.
"Let me stay here tonight," he said, looking up. "I walked past an electronics store today, and the weather channel said it was going to rain all night."
Kakashi gave him a look. "No one's going expect you somewhere?" he asked.
The corner of Sasuke's mouth curled back. "I told you, I'm not working for my old boss anymore."
"That's what I meant," Kakashi said smoothly. "You said you were fighting with someone else over that work--are they going to be looking for you if you disappear for a night?"
Sasuke gave him a long look, judging him, and Kakashi could tell he was running through the implications in his statement and trying to figure out which one fit.
"That guy . . ." Sasuke pushed his bangs away from his forehead, still staring at Kakashi warily, ". . . he lives in an orphanage. Or something like it. I don't live there, so he would think it weird if I did show up."
"Hm," Kakashi said. "Help me move the furniture back."
When he woke the next morning, Sasuke was checking that the things in his backpack--a light-weight hooded jacket, three knives (one of which was an automatic and painfully illegal), several now-ruined boxes of raisins, and two books that were wrapped in sodden paper towels so Kakashi couldn't see the covers--had dried overnight.
The kid made Kakashi feed him breakfast before leaving. While he was scrambling the eggs, Sasuke filled a glass at the sink. Kakashi watched from the corner of his eye as he watered the plants on the windowsill.
Kakashi couldn't see the second of the books while Sasuke was putting them away, but he got a glimpse of the first: an old paperback translation of Gray's Anatomy.
It rained briefly in the afternoon, and Kakashi broke a long code of never ordering out for food and called for a pizza. He got a large so he wouldn't have to grocery shop for a couple days.
Sasuke didn't show up that night, but the next day, after evening fell, there was a knock at his door.
They finished off the last of the pizza, Kakashi sitting on the couch and watching a half-decent horror movie, the kid sitting on the floor beside his bookshelves and pretending to watch the TV but mostly running his gaze over the titles of the spines. Sasuke picked the bits of seaweed off his slices. Kakashi could tell by the set of his lips when he saw the shelf devoted to porn novels.
"Geez," the kid muttered eventually, "do you have everything that guy wrote?"
"Nope," Kakashi replied. "I haven't found his collection of short stories yet."
Sasuke muttered something under his breath, and picked off another bit of seaweed.
They sparred again later. Sasuke lost, but if he'd had a knife in his hand, Kakashi knew he would be bleeding.
It was raining the next morning; Sasuke left anyway. When he came back that night, he was sporting an old umbrella and a growing bruise along his jaw.
"Who'd you steal that from?" Kakashi commented.
Sasuke gave him an annoyed look. "No one."
"So you hit yourself in the face with it?"
The kid chose not to answer him. The bruise was about the same size as the others Kakashi suspected he'd gotten from the blond teenager.
They only sparred for twenty minutes after dinner; the downstairs neighbors banged on the ceiling, and Kakashi made Sasuke stop. He was considering moving--he'd been here too long, and the restaurants and grocery stores in the area could recognize him--but there was no need to bring more attention to himself before doing so. Kakashi kicked the couch back into place while Sasuke filled glasses of water for both of them.
Kakashi settled on the couch and was debating whether reading or watching television would be a better way to kill the evening, or if he should check his messages first, when the kid dropped himself on his lap.
Kakashi gave him a mildly annoyed look. "Would you get off my legs, please?"
Sasuke pressed a thumb to the scar that ran beneath Kakashi's eye. "How did you get this?"
"I used to have a partner," he replied, and left it at that. The kid could interpret the statement as he chose.
Sasuke slipped his hand up, skimming his thumb over the scar that ran up through Kakashi's eyebrow. If he closed his eyes, Sasuke would be able to see how they connected in a seamless line across his eyelid. Kakashi kept his eyes open.
"You can still see," Sasuke stated, touching his thumb to the lower half again.
"I knew a good doctor," Kakashi replied.
Technically, he still knew her--she was alive last time he'd checked, and that had been recently. But Rin had refused to speak to him again, after she'd had to do the surgery on his eye while Obito's corpse stained blood all over the couch in her outer office and then dump the corpse away from the clinic and leave an anonymous call to the police so that he wouldn't be implicated.
He could have explained to her what had really happened. Instead, he decided their working relationship could've ended worse, and found himself another discreet doctor to fix all the wounds he couldn't do himself.
Sasuke still had his thumb against Kakashi's cheek, and was watching his face carefully, trying to get past a mask that Kakashi had been working on for about as long as the kid had been alive. Kakashi wanted to shift to show his discomfort, but didn't need Sasuke to get the wrong idea. So instead he said, "Will you get off my legs now, kid?" in a nonchalant but vaguely displeased voice.
"Why do you keep letting me in?" Sasuke asked. "What do you want?"
"Peace and quiet," Kakashi replied.
The kid's eyes narrowed--he probably thought he was being mocked. "You're a hitman."
"Which is precisely why I value those things," Kakashi said. He tried to decide if it would be better to push Sasuke off his lap by his knees or his waist.
"But what else?" Sasuke demanded, and Kakashi could hear the part that Sasuke was having so much trouble saying: I don't understand--why do you act like you don't want me?
This could go on for a while, if he let it; Kakashi sighed and leaned back against the couch.
"Why would I want to sleep with you?" he asked, trying to make his voice sound tired. "You're just a scrawny kid."
Sasuke's eyes narrowed further. He let out a harsh, angry breath, and then he was pressing his lips against Kakashi's. Kakashi supposed if he'd actually been practicing reverse psychology, this would be a success.
He cupped his hands around Sasuke's head a few moments later, and gently forced him back. Sasuke glared, panting shallowly.
"It's hormones," he said evenly. "You can borrow one of my books, and take all the hot water--the second one with the blue cover has two guys in it."
It was hard to tell how much of the redness now on Sasuke's face was embarrassment. "That--! It's not--I don't want a book, I--. . . ." He shifted his hands so that they were on Kakashi's shoulders, his fingers digging into the muscles with frustration. "I . . . want to . . . to have sex with you."
Kakashi had been suspecting some things about the kid's life since the first time he'd seen him; but the word Sasuke chose to inflect in that sentence sealed them. He kept one of his hands against Sasuke's jaw, and let the other slip down to touch his throat.
"How did you get those bruises, in the alley?" he asked.
Sasuke blinked, tensing up. His gaze almost dropped, but then he caught himself and glared at Kakashi.
"How'd you end up working for a bordello?" Kakashi continued. "And what kind of work were you doing for that former boss? Why did it piss your friend off so much?"
"He's not--" Sasuke snapped reflexively, and then clenched his hands into fists, dragging the fabric of Kakashi's shirt with them. "I'm not--damaged goods, or whatever the fuck it's called, I just--and I'm not paying you back for anything, asshole, I just want--to, with. . . ."
He swallowed, tried to say more, and then swallowed again. He wasn't looking Kakashi in the eyes any longer, was staring at the collar of his shirt instead.
Kakashi studied his expression for a long minute, deliberately rubbing his thumb against the hollow of Sasuke's throat. Sasuke didn't move.
Finally, Kakashi resigned himself to the old adage about strays, let out another sigh, and leaned forward to kiss Sasuke's lower lip.
"Breathe through your nose," he said when Sasuke started, and kissed him again.
Sasuke made a low noise in the back of his throat when Kakashi ran the tip of his tongue against his upper lip, and began moving closer. When his knees hit the back of the couch, he shifted so his legs were further apart, giving him more space. He rocked closer to Kakashi, and the man's hand tightened briefly against his jaw.
Kakashi kissed him again, and then let the hand against Sasuke's face drop to the kid's lap, palming his cock through the coarse jeans. Sasuke hissed, and his fingers dug further into Kakashi's shoulders as he rocked up harshly into his hand.
"That hurts," Kakashi mentioned, rolling his shoulders. Sasuke started and let go, muttering something. It might have been an apology; it might not have been a word. Kakashi pressed his palm a little firmer against him as he rubbed, and Sasuke gripped the back of the couch and pushed up hard against Kakashi's chest.
When Kakashi ran his thumb over the underside of the crotch of Sasuke's cutoffs, the kid tightened his grip on the couch and pressed even closer. Kakashi wondered if Sasuke was aware that he was almost choking him, and pulled his hand away.
Sasuke made a deep, frustrated sound at that and turned to glare at him, mouth brushing Kakashi's jaw. Kakashi took advantage of the motion to pull the arm against his throat further back, absently pressing a kiss to the inside of Sasuke's elbow as he did.
Sasuke shivered at that, and swallowed, and watched him carefully with darker eyes.
Kakashi wondered if anyone had ever taken time with Sasuke. He thought how he should move them to the bed; his cushions were going to be wrecked, and it would give him more room. Sasuke's legs were splayed out over his, but the back of the couch was in the way, and Kakashi didn't think he could pull him closer without straining the kid's muscles.
And then he remembered that it was a kid currently sprawled over his lap, and that he didn't need to make this bad idea any worse.
He shifted both of his hands to Sasuke's upper thighs, and pushed on them slightly. Sasuke frowned. "I'm not--"
"Just move back some," Kakashi said. "I need the space."
Sasuke swallowed again, and scooted back. Kakashi pushed up on the backs of his thighs as he did, so that Sasuke wound up kneeling over his lap, up enough that Kakashi could reach the fly of his cutoffs.
Sasuke's lips parted when Kakashi undid the button. He looked up, but the kid was staring at a space below his eyes. When Kakashi paused, Sasuke pushed his hips against his hand, and then shifted and bent down to kiss him.
Sasuke exhaled against his lips when Kakashi pulled down the zipper, and mumbled something needy, greedy and willing, as Kakashi slipped his hands beneath the fabric and pushed them down.
Kakashi stopped when the shorts were most of the way down Sasuke's hips, and cut off any potential protest by sliding his hand in and wrapping it around his cock. The zipper scraped along the back of his hand when he did, so Kakashi pulled the flap further back. Then he gripped his other hand around Sasuke's thigh again, bracing the kid as he tried to find the least awkward way to stroke.
Sasuke shuddered when Kakashi ran a finger over his foreskin and pushed it back, but when he touched the hypersensitive skin beneath, he cried out sharply and jerked back. Since Kakashi's hand was basically trapped in his shorts, the zipper dug harshly into the back of it with the motion.
"Sorry," Kakashi said, keeping an amused smile on his face as he checked that the skin hadn't broken. He began rubbing his free hand along Sasuke's back.
Sasuke exhaled again at that, and then bit his shoulder. Kakashi chuckled once, sliding his hand up Sasuke's shirt and rubbing the bare skin.
By the time he'd smeared enough precome along Sasuke's erection to make his movements easier, the kid was jerking his hips awkwardly, with short abortive movements. Kakashi tried to match the tempo, moving his hand to the small of Sasuke's back and pressing him forward occasionally so he wouldn't fall.
"Can't--" the kid panted, ". . . take them off . . . I want--"
"Shh," Kakashi replied, dragging his thumb up the underside of Sasuke's cock. Sasuke shuddered and pushed hard against his hand, pressing his face against Kakashi's collarbone. His arms were shoved against Kakashi's shoulders as he clutched the back of the couch. Kakashi could feel through his shirt the way they were shaking with fine tension.
Sasuke bit his lip when he came, choking down his noises, and Kakashi almost wanted to pry it free and tell him it was okay.
Sasuke collapsed heavily on his legs, and he grunted. Kakashi worked his hand free from the kid's jeans and wiped it off on the back of his shirt. Then he shifted his legs, moving Sasuke so that the come staining his cutoffs wouldn't soak into his own pants. Sasuke didn't seem to notice; he was still panting, his forehead against Kakashi's shoulder. Kakashi let his hands rest on the clothed parts of Sasuke's hips, and waited.
Sasuke got his breath back soon, but he was still slumped loosely against Kakashi's chest. He let go of his death grip on the couch and let his arms dangle over it, supported by Kakashi's shoulders; and after another moment he pulled them back and began moving his hands down Kakashi's chest, to his crotch.
Kakashi caught his wrists and held them still.
After two seconds, Sasuke tensed. He tugged on his wrists once, and then jerked himself backwards, trying to yank free. Kakashi didn't let go.
Sasuke glared at him. "You . . . don't you fucking pity me," he snarled.
"I don't," Kakashi replied. He loosened his grip once he was sure that the kid wouldn't tip backward, and Sasuke wrenched his hands away. When Kakashi pushed lightly on his upper thighs, he shoved himself off the couch and backed away.
Kakashi thought he should say something, but the kid was glaring death at him and nothing seemed appropriate--"You should wash those" was too callous, and "I have some morals" wasn't believable when his own erection was obvious--so Kakashi just stood and walked to the bathroom.
He locked the door behind him, and turned the water hot and tried to think of someone with lighter hair and paler eyes.
The kid was sitting on the couch again when he came out, pretending to watch something on the television. He was wearing a pair of Kakashi's sweatpants; they fell in folds around his ankles, and he'd stolen a belt to keep them around his waist.
He didn't speak when the man stepped out of the bathroom. Kakashi said, "Put that on mute if you stay up much longer," and went to bed.
He didn't lock the door. He heard the TV turn off half an hour later.
The floorboards beside the couch didn't creak when Sasuke got up, which told Kakashi that the kid was getting too familiar with his apartment. But he had only been dozing, so the sound of the door hinges opening quietly woke him.
The kid climbed beneath the sheet behind him, close but not touching. Kakashi waited for a few moments, and then turned over enough to grab Sasuke and haul him to the other side. The sheet was rucked up in the process.
While Kakashi was trying the extract it from around them and pull it back to where it had been, Sasuke twisted his head to look at him, tense. Like an animal, Kakashi reflected, always the same reaction to the unfamiliar.
"My line of work doesn't make me inclined to let people I don't know sleep at my back," he explained before the kid could demand. "It's just practical."
"I don't know you either," Sasuke retorted.
Kakashi raised an eyebrow. "You're the one who came in here."
Sasuke muttered something under his breath and looked away again. His body curled itself slightly further from Kakashi's.
Kakashi dropped the sheet around their waists--moving had made it too hot for the damn thing again--and draped an arm over Sasuke's side. He settled into his pillow and closed his eyes.
The kid was quiet for a little while. Eventually he scooted closer, until his back was against Kakashi's chest. The bottom sheet wrinkled where he pushed himself with his feet, and Kakashi noticed he'd taken off the belt. The sweatpants barely hung over his hips now. Kakashi wasn't completely sure if it was deliberate.
Kakashi had by necessity a flexible conscience, but this was testing it.
He reminded himself that he didn't have condoms or real lube in the apartment. He focused on the fact that Sasuke had to curl his legs out because they weren't long enough for his knees to spoon around his own, and decided to treat this as a spontaneous exercise in self-control.
When the kid's breathing finally deepened and evened out, Kakashi shifted back. He kept his arm over Sasuke's waist.
He woke when the kid began shifting out from beneath his arm. He was moving slowly, carefully and quietly--he might not have woken a heavier sleeper.
Kakashi waited until he was more than halfway out, and then lifted his arm. The mattress creaked a moment later as Sasuke rolled off.
"Is he in a gang?" Kakashi asked, scratching his head and resisting the desire to yawn.
There was no reply. When Kakashi opened an eye, Sasuke was holding the sweatpants up with one hand, staring at him warily.
"Afterward, you should leave town immediately," he said helpfully. "And avoid open windows and crowded areas. They will come after you." Kakashi propped himself up on an elbow and flipped open the cell phone on the nightstand, checking the time. "That's if you actually survive, and succeed."
He snapped the phone shut again, and leaned back against the pillow, closing his eyes. "And don't come back here."
Sasuke was dead silent for seven seconds. Then he hissed a curse under his breath and slammed the bedroom door behind him. Kakashi decided to start looking for other apartments in the morning's paper.
He heard Sasuke banging around in the small laundry area, pulling his clothes out of the dryer, and then slamming the cupboard and fridge doors.
He didn't hear the front door open.
He told himself there was no point in worrying about the kid. He'd live or die on his own, and Kakashi didn't owe him anything.
When he came out of the bedroom a couple hours later, Sasuke was sitting on the couch, staring blankly at the early morning news on the muted television. His legs were curled up to his chest and his arms were wrapped around them. He had his shoes on.
"It's not fair," Sasuke said slowly, when Kakashi stopped behind him. "That he gets to live, after what he did. It's not right."
Kakashi laid his hand against the back of Sasuke's neck, rubbing a thumb over the smooth skin behind his ear.
"There's a lot of things that aren't right in this world," he replied. "You learn to live with it."
Sasuke curled up a little more, moving his arms so that they were resting on the tops of his knees and hiding half his face behind them.
"You don't owe the dead anything," Kakashi said. "And you don't do them any good by joining them."
Sasuke made a noise low in his throat. Kakashi knew the kid was still half likely to leave him before the afternoon, and stopped before he pushed too far for a teenager's black-and-white.
Kakashi continued rubbing his thumb against Sasuke's skin for a few minutes, watching the news broadcast. When a commercial came on, he pulled away and went to make himself breakfast.
As he was setting the bacon in the pan, Sasuke filled a glass with water. Kakashi listened to the pop and sizzle of the grease, and watched from the corner of his eye as Sasuke watered the plants.
Never take in a stray unless you're willing to be owned by it.
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