Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Masashi Kishimoto.

This is an ongoing collection of ficlets based off prompts from the 30 Evil Deeds community on LiveJournal.
——————
-

foundation
-

Sasuke has spent the first week since his arrival sneaking around the Sound. Orochimaru is aware of it--he's given instructions to the people who would sense the boy's presence to let it go. Kabuto is annoyed to be trailed silently while making his quick rounds in the dungeons, but he follows orders.

For the first several days. The ninth day, Kabuto locks the door to the first communal cell and then stands there, watching the people inside. After he hasn't moved for several minutes, most of the faces have turned towards him. The ones that haven't are the ones that look the most nervous.

Eventually Sasuke slips out of his hiding place and enters the corridor proper. His features are impassive bordering on insolent, and Kabuto gives him a small credit for that.

"Can I help you, Sasuke-kun?" he asks politely.

"No," Sasuke says, like it's perfectly normal for the two of them to pass each other by in here.

"Ah," Kabuto replies, and smiles. "Would you like to walk with me, then?"

It's not a question, it's a challenge, no matter how deferentially Kabuto modulates his voice. He watches Sasuke's shoulders tense before the boy shoves his hands in his pockets and says, "Whatever."

Kabuto bypasses the second communal cell--the guard hasn't reported any illnesses in there--and stops in the third one to check on a woman who'd developed a cold. Three others have caught it since the day before yesterday, and Kabuto decides to let it run through the whole cell. If any die from arising complications in-between his visits, they won't be sorely missed.

There are four single person cells at the end of the corridor; only one of them is occupied at the moment. Kabuto holds the door open and after a heartbeat, Sasuke steps in. He jerks and stills a moment later.

Kabuto doesn't hold it against him--the man in the room doesn't have much of a face left.

He unwraps the bandages and checks that the latest incisions around the eyes, where Orochimaru has been studying the effects of an extensive use of eye-focused jutsus, aren't getting infected. He does so in a way that permits Sasuke to see where they're focused, but when Kabuto glances over as he's wrapping fresh bandages, he sees that Sasuke's shoulders are tense and the boy's gaze is focused just over the man's head, at the wall.

Kabuto finishes taping the bandages and removes the credit he'd given Sasuke. Then he wonders if he's being too harsh; after all, he had years to learn and adjust to Orochimaru's methods. Sasuke has only had several days, perhaps a couple months if Kakashi told him anything while they were training for the chuunin exam, to begin building his endurance.

Then No, Kabuto thinks, he's being fair. Sasuke won't mentally last long at the Sound without bravado, but he'll last an equally short time if it's false.

He announces that he's finished a moment later, and when they're halfway down the corridor Sasuke breaks away from him, increasing his pace. His shoulders are still tense.

He's waiting outside the dungeons two days later, when Kabuto returns. He adds back the small credit. And when Sasuke shows up the third time, he makes sure that the boy sees the incisions' location. Kabuto only smiles when Sasuke asks what kind of experiment was being done.