"Who are you working for?"
"I said, who are you working for? Why did you want to invade Konoha?"
"Look, are you going to say something or not?"
"You've got seriously fantastic tits, Lady. Bet all the guys here just wanna give ‘em a good, hard squeeze."
"Oh for fucks sake!"
Anko grin her teeth and span away from the detainee - fists shaking in frustration. This was the fourth bout of questioning the small group had endured and the only information the ANBU had managed to force out of the brats was that none of their fellow six were going to spit the dummy either.
After traveling around in pointless verbal circles all night and tolerating more lewd comments than she'd ever let roll off her back in her life, Anko had decided to pass the job on to someone else. It had been a long, hot trek back from the Wind Country and she was desperately tired.
Not the preferred state to be in whilst interrogating a prisoner. She'd broken once with the first girl - her temper erupting at a flippant mention of the Uchiha boy - and she didn't want it to happen again.
For a ninja, to show emotion was to show weakness, and thanks to her display, these kids currently bore the upper hand in respectability. Even through hours of torment, intimidation and violence they kept their mouths closed and their chins high.
Not even close to cracking.
Arrogant little buggers
Anko roughly jerked her trenchcoat back into place and flipped the collar up. She didn't pull it closed though, she wasn't going give the little bastard that much satisfaction.
The prisoner stared back at her, his huge dark eyes glowing in the dim light of the room. His nose was dripping blood - most likely broken - and his cheeks were littered with many dark, evil-looking bruises. But the ugliness of his wounds did not compare to the twisted, manic grin that stretched from one side of his young face to the other.
That smile was probably the most hideous looking thing about him.
As if reading her mind, her disgust, he licked some blood off his upper lip and winked jovially.
Anko sneered and stomped out the room.
Screw Ninja saying Number Twenty-five.
From behind the thick, steel-reinforced door, came the weighty thuds and barked threats of Ibiki's style of interrogation. But, despite his skill and experience in that area, the crazed laughter and meaningless, stupid answers continued - indicating the Torture-master Jounin wasn't getting much farther than she had.
"Fuck you too and the horse you rode in on - hee hee hee!"
Was the last thing Anko heard as she turned into another corridor.
Sasuke had made a decision.
It was, without a doubt, a fairly reckless decision.
No, actually it was very reckless, bordering on stupid.
But Sasukes' mind was made up.
He couldn't stay in Konoha anymore.
He didn't want to stay in Konoha anymore.
Not while he wasn't learning anything. Not when he was the one left behind. Kakashi had gone - as had many of the other Jounins he wouldn't have minded training with if he was allowed. Most of the other Genins had gone too and with Lee incapacitated, there wasn't really anyone worthwhile to spar with.
Guy remained with his student and hardly left his side for any reason - making their relationship questionable as ever - but Sasuke put a foot down at getting any help from him.
Instead Sasuke planned on traveling for awhile - something different, somewhere different. A week or two should suffice, he just needed to air out his defeats and get ready for an amazing comeback at the beginning of summer.
And he knew just where he wanted to go.
Although it wasn't customary to go following another Shinobi into their province, Sasuke was intrigued to learn a little more about Io and his clan.
It wasn't going to be dangerous - he only intended to follow them halfway and see where they went.
And after all, hadn't they invited him to join them for a fight?
When he arrived again at the clearing, Ios group was in the middle of practising shuriken throwing. White-chalk targets decorated the surrounding trees at random.
All three were present; Io, Nae Nae and Aroha but Sasuke was surprised to see another boy in their company.
Well, seven boys to be exact, but they all had the same khaki flap jacket, baggy dpms and short brown pigtail of their original.
"Bunshin no jutsu," Sasuke thought as he approached them. "Kids stuff." Yet he couldn't help noting the skilled detail the boy had put into his clones.
Io, deftly landing his fifth bulls eye from twenty feet, caught sight of the genin and smiled warmly.
"Hey there, Sasuke. Good to see you again."
Sasuke nodded stiffly, keeping his eyes on the pigtailed clones as they halted in mid fight, staring at him. Their faces creased into seven identical smirks.
Aroha, deep in concentration, jumped as Sasuke walked behind her. She threw the kunai badly, missing her target by a good three trees and a small bush. She swore and stamped her foot, looking miffed.
Nae nae ignored him completely.
"How're ya doing?" Io stretched and tugged a handful of silvery wires that were attached to his kunai, reeling them back from the their targets as if they were a catch of fish.
"When should we start?" Sasuke asked, not interested at all in small talk. He wanted to know what else Io could do.
The red eyes flashed mischievously.
"Oh soon enough, soon enough. This is Kaikora, by the way..." He motioned to the military try-hard, who snapped back into one person with a loud popping sound.
"G'day," said the other boy, tugging at his combat gloves. "You're one of them genins, yeh?"
"Yeah..." Sasuke narrowed his eyes.
"Here for a spar?"
" ‘Kay," Kaikora shrugged off his jacket, revealing a bare torso literally embroidered with thick, black tattoos.
"Lets see whatcha got."
Sasuke frowned and glanced at Io.
"You said you wanted to train with us, not necessarily me." Io leaned against a tree, casually twirling his kunai on his index finger. "Besides, I want to see how well you fight."
Sasuke clenched his fist. Io tricked him. At least he'd found out they had a similar goal.
Well, if those were their rules, then he'd just beat Kaikora and fight Io afterwards.
"Fine," Sasuke said aloud, dropping his backpack on the ground. He turned to Kaikora.
Almost instantly a three-point shuriken went whizzing past his nose. The other boy phased out of sight and appeared again, much closer - zigzagging to Sasukes' right. His irregular and kamikaze style of taijutsu reminded the Uchiha of one Uzumaki Naruto.
At least, thought the Genin as he parried several fast punches and landed a foot at the top of the others' chest. He doesn't mess around...
Kaikora was knocked away a few inches, but used the new gap between them to somersault backwards - catching Sasukes' jaw with the toe of his steel-cap boots. Sasuke almost lost his balance, but caught himself quickly. Throwing his weight the other way, he charged at Kaikora, gathering charka in his hand as he did so. Increasing his speed, Sasuke slammed his fist into the other boys chest - a vicious crack sounding at the Raikiris' connection.
He smiled, realizing he'd summoned it much faster than before.
Spinning on his heel, Sasuke made a full roundhouse and plunged his the back of his leg into Kais' neck. The boy staggered, but remained upright.
So Sasuke bent low and knocked his ankles out from underneath him.
Crashing to the ground with the grace of an elephant, Kaikora rolled over on to his knees and moaned loudly.
Sasuke stood over him, absentmindedly wiping the blood off his jaw where the heavy boots had grazed the skin. He'd scarcely broken a sweat. Eyes flashing with anticipation, he turned to Io.
There was a tugging at the bottom of his shorts.
Sasuke looked down to see Kaikora holding onto the hem, his body shaking. The moan increased in volume until it broke, scattering into a hysterical laugh.
"Nice! Very nice taijutsu!" He panted, head down. "I'd have to admit, you're way faster than me. That's good! However..."
Kai raised his head revealing the same leer that had distorted his features earlier. Slowly, he got to his feet and as he did, Sasuke noticed his tattoos had moved. Before they'd been evenly distributed about his torso, but now they were gathered about the exact spot where Sasuke had landed his Raikiri.
Sasukes' jaw dropped.
"However," Kai continued. "You aren't tougher than me!"
He ran at Sasuke again and catching his fist under the genins' ribcage. Sasuke wheezed as his breath was knocked out of him.
Kaikoras' knuckles felt like they were made of steel!
As he stumbled backward out of the punch, Sasuke noticed the tattoos swirling about Kais' hand.
So... He muttered to himself, coughing. Wherever those marks are, his skin gets harder. But if he's got to physically have the tattoos first, I can't use sharingan to copy...
Sasuke barely had time to duck as Kaikoras' foot sailed over his head. Attempting a Shadow Leaf Dance from the angle only caused a painful jarr to run up his leg as his foot hit a rock-hard block of inky swirls. He made to flip away, giving some space between them once again so he'd have a moment to sort out an attack strategy, but the other boy shot forward, and grabbed his fringe.
Sasuke grunted as his head was wrenched up.
He had no other choice but to look into Kais' unnerving brackish stare.
Taking the strap of his gloves in his mouth, Kai pulled one off and scrunched his fist under Sasukes nose.
"Reckon we should cut up that pretty white skin of yours? Or are you afraid to get a bit roughed up in a fight, sweetheart?"
Sasuke went to launch a smart retort, but words escaped him as he witnessed Kai's black tattoos snaking up his wrist into his hand...
coming out of his skin....
and hardening into small, strangely-shaped hand weapons - not indifferent to regular shuriken. Kai pressed the jet-black ‘kunai' against Sasukes throat, his grin twisting into a snarl.
"Don't get queasy at the sight of blood do ya?"
Gritting his teeth as the blade pressed against his trachea, Sasuke wracked his brain for what to do next. He couldn't try any punches from this angle, as Kai was holding down his right wrist, and jumping away could be risky.
He could possibly manage a one handed Katon Goukakyuu no Jutsu or even Chidori, but he didn't want to kill the bastard. Even though his own situation seemed pretty grim.
Then, in a sudden moment of clarity, a thought popped into Sasukes' head. Not the kind of thought Sasuke would usually have, so he felt a bit odd as it crossed his mind. However, what the thought offered was a very plausible escape route so, no matter how unlike him it was, Sasuke took the thoughts advice.
Kick the git in the goolies, it had said.
So he did.
Bringing his knee up sharply between Kaikoras legs', Sasuke watched as the boys eyes bulged and watered, the tattoo-kunai traveling back into his skin. He gave a high squeak and dropped to the ground, the heel of his hand embedded in his lap.
This time, Sasuke smirked.
"Ha! Well done! Nice finish - you're a closet bar-brawler, really, aren't you!" Io beamed at him, pale face alight with humour. Aroha was cackling so hard she'd fallen over.
Even Nae naes' shoulders were shaking as she unsuccessfully tried to suppress her laughter.
Sasuke sighed as he let the praise wash over him. He didn't care if they approved or not, it was beating the other guy that made his skin tingle.
Even if he had simply kneed him in the nuts.
"Gotta thank you for that," Io said as he walked over to the dark haired genin. "Kai's been winning so many spars, it's refreshing to see him taken down a peg or two..."
"Shuddup you evil-minded wanker!"
"Now, now, no need to be nasty! You should have thought about that before you got done down there!"
Io helped a green-faced Kaikora to his feet. Kai shot Sasuke a sour look then hobbled across the clearing into the brush.
"Uhh, what do you mean ‘before you got done?'" Sasuke asked, carefully.
Io swept his straw-blond hair out of his face - the tips of it coloured crimson to match his eyes - and clicked his tongue.
"Basically, the tetsu no ire-zumi - iron tattoo - can't be placed where a normal tattoo already exists."
"Kai likes to give the ladies something to read, if you know what I mean.."
Sasuke tried very hard not to go pink. Io chuckled and grasped his elbow.
"Come with us...Just for a bit. You gotta meet the others. They'll want to get a good look at you after they hear about Kaikora! You'll make quite the impression."
"I think I've already made one on him," Sasuke stated, letting himself be pulled along.
"Oh don't worry," Nae nae said, slinging her pike over her shoulder as she and Aroha joined them. "He's tougher than he looks - excuse the pun."
The last Uchiha nodded, a small smile dancing on his lips as he followed the others into the trees.
So Sasuke had made a descision.
A decision that was going to brand him for life.
He didn't know it yet, but every step he took away from Konoha, set him further back from his goal than he'd ever been.
He didn't quite understand Ios friendly behaviour. He'd never met another ninja as welcoming as he - if he was one of the shinobi class
But, nice as he was, his smile and his eyes did not show the same feelings. The albino-like irises appeared to look through him, probing him. It was almost as if the boy had developed an interest in him, as one would study a rare species.
As the four caught up with the limping Kaikora, Sasuke could have sworn he felt a hand brush the back of his shorts. He glanced at Io, the closest person to him, but the other boy had his hands in his pockets, whistling nonchalantly.
Must've been a branch...
"Hey Kaikora!" Nae nae gleefully called to her team mate. "What DO you have tattooed on yer dong?"
"Just a word," He grumbled, not bothering to look back.
"A word? Like ‘Roger' or ‘Rocket' or something?"
Kaikora gave a grunt.
"Nah, he replied with a wry grin. "Antidisestablishmentarianism."
There was a monster in his room.
It had two arms, two legs and a thick mane of sunflower-yellow hair.
Its fur was baggy and mostly bright orange apart from the dots and splashes of murky brown soup from the beef ramen it was devouring.
With ecstatic gusto.
A hideous, blond, noodle-slurping monster.
Sasuke shook his head. Naruto was loud when he talked, heavy-footed when he walked and when he slept he snored.
Of course he was going to find some way of making a noise when he ate.
Idiot, Sasuke thought to himself, but without much conviction.
He wanted to be angry at Naruto - at anyone in fact, but he just didn't have the strength for it. Hate, rage, resentment all took up far too much energy for him to sustain - he was barely keeping himself awake as it was.
At least having Naruto there to bother him with homework queries and tales about learning Rasengan filled the silence where he started worrying about himself.
Oddly enough, his team mate hadn't even mentioned his injuries, let alone tried ridiculing them. Sasuke felt out of place, Naruto was evading the subject probably for his benefit and it was so unlike his rival it was creepy.
"This is soooooo good! You want some, Sasuke?" The blond garbled through a mouthful of pasta. A curly tendril slipped from the top of his lip back into the bowl.
Sasuke jerked his right arm, causing the IV tubes to swing gently.
"I'm fine." He stated dryly.
Naruto made a face - as if contemplating how he would feel if someone was eating ramen right in front of him, when he wasn't allowed any food.
Perhaps he should have his lunch elsewhere? But then again, he was fairly sure that Sasuke wasn't as keen on ramen as he was.
"When do they take those out?" He asked, pointing at the needles with his chopsticks.
The dark-haired boy gave a slight shrug - the best he could manage. His doctors hadn't given him much of an indication on how long he'd be fed by I.V, but he guessed as soon as his mouth had healed he might be able to take on some real food. The cuts were closing up just fine, but he could feel the sharp edges of some broken teeth and knew that there was probably some dental work to be done.
Of course, no one had mentioned anything about it.
Sasuke wasn't quite sure whether he was annoyed or not at the fact nobody seemed to be able to tell him anything.
Perhaps they didn't want to tell him anything.
It had been almost a week since he'd regained consciousness (God knows how long since he was brought in) and he was still in the dark about the degree of his wounds.
The hospital staff made no effort to reassure him - instead emerging only to do a certain task, then evaporating as quickly as they came. The bandages got changed, the temperatures got checked, the drugs administered, the machines "Hmm"-ed at, the daily..uhh..business got attended to and yet no one actually talked to him.
He wished, for once that Kakashi would show up. His sensei of all people should be able to shed some light. But Kakashi had been kept at bay with a mountain of paperwork from his mission in the Wind Country and hadn't the time to come and visit.
That little bit of information Sasuke had managed to extract from a trainee intern as she nervously checked his medication - her short red hair squished flat under a very stiff, new-looking nurses cap.
Never one to really go in for pranks, he'd half expected her to laugh in his face as he twisted and groaned in mock-agony, pretending to be in serious pain. But as her eyes widened in and her knees crumpled in shock, he'd grabbed her sleeve, refusing to let go until he got some information.
She'd complied after begging him not to tell anyone, but he doubted what she knew was the actual truth.
He'd asked Naruto to pass him his medical review chart at the end of the bed, but the blond gave him a blank look, stating that the only things at the end of Sasukes bed were his feet.
Helpful as ever.
But then perhaps he knew where Kakashi was at least...
"Naruto..." Sasuke began as his team mate tipped his head back, draining the remnants from the bottom of the ramen bowl. The kid wiped his chin on the back of his wrist and sucked his fingers noisily.
"Oh," Naruto finally finished cleaning himself up and leaned back in his chair. The faux leather made a rude sound as it rubbed on the back of his pants. Naruto grinned evilly.
"He's doing a whole load of paperwork back at the academy."
Phht phhhhhhht pht pht
"Hn, is he really..." Sasuke narrowed his eyes. So they told that to Naruto as well?
Gleefully, Naruto made the chair ‘fart' one last time before he registered that Sasuke was being even more serious than usual. His smile fell.
"Uhh, it's true. I went to see him last night. He can't even help me with Chidori because he's so busy..."
At the mention of Naruto sharing the glory of his hard-won accomplishment, Sasuke bristled.
"You can't use Chidori," he scoffed, forgetting his interrogation for the moment.
"Who says I can't?" Naruto shot back, hackles raised.
"You don't have the patience to learn it!"
"Kakashi won't teach you Chidori when you've already got something else to work on. Not to mention, another sensei to work with..."
"Kakashi-sensei will teach me! Just because it took you ages! You're just mad because you can't do it anymore!"
"You can't...umm...you can't...use...umm..." Naruto's anger dissolved as he watched his rivals' face become impossibly whiter.
"I can't what?" The shaking voice was barely audible. Sasuke kept his dark eyes glued to the blond, lest he look away and miss seeing the truth.
"You can't...you know...use your hand anymore..."
Something dropped in Sasukes stomach. He stared at Naruto with disbelief frosting his features.
"S-so....then what? What does that mean?" He demanded hoarsely, his voice rising as fear began sprinkling goose-pimples about his skin.
He had to know, even if the answer would kill him.
Narutos gaze hit the floor.
"What does that mean, Naruto!"
Sasuke lurched forward, ignoring the stinging sensation that raked through his muscles, and seized Narutos' trouser leg. His knuckles strained through the thin skin of his hands as he clenched tightly to the tangerine fabric, fragile chest heaving as he gasped; half in pain, half in keeping his emotion from spilling out.
Naruto shrank back, completely dumbfounded. He'd never seen Sasuke like this before. He was getting frightened.
"Its just....its just that they said..." He began to stammer awkwardly before Sasukes' door was flung open and a very distressed-looking Sakura burst into the room, a mess of tears and sunburn.
"Sasuke-kuuun! What do they mean you can't be a ninja anymore?!"
Hey there, Jugs.
How's yer little Uchiha boy?
Is he all better now?
Is he all nice and sane again?
Heh, we screwed him up good didn't we?
That was the really fun part of our plan; fuck the kid, then fuck him up.
Pretty good for a bang too, y'know. Nice n' tight. Better than a girl.
You reckon he's okay now?
He'll get over it, right?
Just like he'll get over his hand.
Or His knee.
Just like he'll get over hanging up that Konoha head protector and putting on a tie for the office instead.
Just like that.."
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