The Witching Hour
Note: I couldn't resist. XD Crack based on a true story, no joke.
The Witching Hour
Suigetsu flopped to the ground with a loud thump, yawning dramatically as Karin whipped around to glare at him. Fumbling for his water bottle, he made a face as he tilted it upside down and not a single drop of water graced his dry tongue.
"I'm not moving," he announced. "Not until one of you finds me a freakin' drinking fountain."
"Drinking fountain?" Karin echoed in disbelief, marching over to him to kick his empty bottle away. "We're in the middle of the forest, you idiot. The river's still a few miles off."
"Not moving," Suigetsu repeated, his sharp teeth bared in an obstinate grin. Karin twitched as his one obtrusive fang reflected the moonlight.
"We should leave this idiot behind," Karin declared, striding over to Juugo and Sasuke, yanking on their sleeves to get them moving. "Let the bears get him."
"Suigetsu, this area's been marked for roaming missing nin," Sasuke said calmly, pulling out of Karin's grip. "We should avoid confrontations if we can."
Crickets chirped in the silence that followed, and a branch snapped with a loud crack in the thicket.
They all turned to glance at the cluster of trees from which the sound had emerged, suddenly tense. Not a single leaf stirred, the air deathly still. A faint, copper tinge illuminated the ends of the grass and trees, and simultaneously they all turned to glance up at the moon.
It was bright orange.
"…what the fuck," said Suigetsu.
"Why is it orange?" Karin asked, somewhat alarmed.
"It's called a 'red flash'," Juugo suddenly said. "Or, more commonly, the Harvest moon, the full moon nearest to the autumnal equinox. The orange colour is caused by a filtering effect from particles in the Earth's atmosphere."
They stared at him.
Juugo cleared his throat.
"Kimimaro brought me a bunch of astronomy books when I was locked up."
"It's creepy," Karin muttered. "It's almost red."
"And there's no breeze," Suigetsu offered nonchalantly, waving a hand. "We're not in some fucked up genjutsu, are we?"
"No," Sasuke said shortly. "We'll find a place to set up camp for the night. Let's go."
Grudgingly, Suigetsu dragged himself to his feet and followed, slouching under the weight of his sword. They ducked into a thicket, brushing through the branches and brambles. Juugo's head knocked a robin's nest off one of the branches and a pinecone dropped down Sasuke's shirt.
By the time they emerged on the other side, their hair was full of pine needles and leaves.
"Any more shortcuts, genius?" Suigetsu muttered, pulling twigs from his hair.
Sasuke ignored him, his attention focused on the shadowed dwelling ahead.
"Is that…a hotel?" Karin said in disbelief.
"No way," Suigetsu said, shoving past to investigate. "Out here in the middle of nowhere?"
"It looks like an inn," Sasuke said, slowly approaching to investigate the dark building, walking up to the sign propped next to the veranda. "And it's abandoned, apparently."
"Sweet," Suigetsu said with a grin. "Let's take it."
"Not so fast," Sasuke said, putting an arm out to stop him. "Stay alert. It could be a hideout for missing nin."
"Paranoid, much?" Suigetsu muttered, deflating. "Hurry up and check it, then. I need a drink."
Slowly, Sasuke approached the front steps to the veranda, eyes scoping the ground for any potential traps. The wooden steps were cracked and warped, but didn't seem to be hiding any exploding notes or booby traps. Cautiously, he ascended the steps and beckoned for the others to follow.
A musty smell emanated from the house when Sasuke pushed the door open, the hinges surprisingly quiet in the silence. He kept his eyes glued to the floor and ceiling alternatively, checking for traps while cautiously taking a few steps inside.
"You know, this'd be much easier if you turned on the damn light."
"Suigetsu, just shut up."
"You know what? Screw all of you. Let there be missing nins hiding out here. I'll kill them all for a glass of water," Suigetsu said irritably.
With that, he flicked the light switch.
The lamps came to life on the walls, emanating a flickering, sickly yellow glow over their surroundings and illuminating the dusty house.
Sasuke gave him an annoyed look as the Mist nin brushed past, pulling white sheets off the surrounding furniture.
"Hellllooo? Missing nins? Are you hiding under here?" he said in an obnoxiously loud voice, pulling off the sheets. "Because my friend over there is pissing his pants over the possibility that we might actually have to kill someone."
"You're an asshole," Karin said with a scowl.
"And you're a bitch, bitch."
"Both of you, stop it," Sasuke ordered.
"There's running water," Juugo said from somewhere in the house. A moment later, he returned from what looked like the kitchen, holding a glass of water for Suigetsu.
"Oh, yes, come to daddy," Suigetsu said gratefully, reaching for the glass. "I swear, Sasuke, I would've shoved my sword up your ass if we missed out on this place."
"There's something not right about it," Sasuke said under his breath, glancing with narrowed eyes at the dusty, quaint knick-knacks and furniture. "Why is there no one here?"
"Because everyone's a paranoid bastard like you. This place is awesome."
"It smells funny," Karin said, scrunching up her nose. "Ew, I bet there are mice."
They all stood around in silence for a few moments, glancing at the odd smattering of figurines and lamps and portraits. Everything was covered in a thick sheet of dust, and the faces of the dancing figurines in the display case looked warped in the dim light.
"This place is creepy. I feel like I'm in a horror movie," Karin muttered.
"You belong in a horror movie, you hag."
Karin took the empty glass from Suigetsu's hand and smashed it over his unsuspecting head.
It shattered on impact and his face splattered the dusty floorboards in quivering droplets. Blindly, he staggered to his feet, grabbing onto the shelf above the chimney to keep his balance as his head pieced itself together again.
"You bitch—I'm gonna—"
"Stop it," Sasuke said icily. "Everyone, in the kitchen."
Grudgingly, Karin marched into the adjoining room, with Juugo following soon after, looking almost eager. Sasuke stayed in front of Suigetsu as he entered the kitchen, squinting in the grimy light emitted by the bare bulb.
"Is there anything edible?" Sasuke asked as Juugo went poking around in the cupboards and fridge.
"Condiments," Juugo said shortly, pulling out a jar of mustard and strawberry jam. "Oh, and peanut butter."
"Shit, peanut butter is poison. I'm allergic to that crap," Suigetsu said, scrunching up his nose.
Karin smiled evilly to herself, tucking that tidbit of info into the back of her mind for future use.
"What else?" Sasuke asked.
"Nothing," Juugo announced, before averting his gaze. "But I could make something."
"Oh?" Karin asked, raising an eyebrow. "You can cook?"
"I…" Juugo hesitated, reddening slightly. "I can bake."
"Bake?" Sasuke said dubiously. "How did you learn to bake in Orochimaru's lair?"
Juugo scratched his head, looking almost longingly at the stove and pantry.
"I'm not a ninja, you know," he mumbled under his breath. "Before I went to Orochimaru, I was…a baker's apprentice."
"What are you, some kind of pansy?" Suigetsu demanded. "Orochimaru got the cursed seal gene from Mr. Betty Crocker? How fucking lame."
"Suigetsu, shut up," Sasuke ordered.
The Mist nin rolled his eyes and fell silent.
"What can you bake, Juugo?" Karin asked curiously.
A hardly visible, eager little smile lit his face as he strode over to the pantry and pulled out a few boxes.
"There's not much here, but there's just what I need to make my favourite…"
He seemed oblivious to their incredulous stares as he happily set the ingredients on the kitchen counter, plucking an old red apron from a hook and tying it around his waist with surprising dexterity.
It was as if he'd been born to run a bakery, combining ingredients without the use of measuring devices and mixing with a ferocity and passion that had the others staring at him in dumbfounded silence, even as bits of batter splattered their clothing.
"Cookie sheet," Juugo commanded, beckoning to Karin.
She hurriedly retrieved it for him, and within ten minutes he had a layer of gingerbread dough spread over the cookie sheet, divided into sections with the help of an alarmingly huge cleaver since the kitchen was lacking in the ways of cookie cutters.
Juugo raised his head, smiling and practically glowing with satisfaction after placing the tray in the pre-heated oven.
Standing there in his oil-stained, red apron (which looked more like bloodstains in the grimy light), amidst a dilapidated kitchen, still holding the giant cleaver in his hand and smiling widely, Juugo looked more like a demented serial killer planning on cooking his victims' tender bits as opposed to a harmless baker.
Sasuke cleared his throat, tearing his eyes away from the enormous knife in Juugo's hand.
"After we eat, we'll get some rest. It's almost midnight."
"Not me," Juugo said, still smiling and looking extremely terrifying. "There's a lot more stuff back there I can use."
Sasuke raised an eyebrow.
"You're going to bake all night?"
Juugo nodded fervently.
Suigetsu gave him a vaguely alarmed look.
"Man, that's kind of creepy. Who the hell bakes in the middle of the night?"
"I think it's cute," Karin said, sneering at Suigetsu. "I mean hey, at least Juugo can make himself useful."
"Yeah, you should follow his example and get me a glass of water," Suigetsu said, placing his empty glass in her hand and smacking her on the rump. "Thanks, toots."
Sasuke had to restrain Karin when she whipped the glass at Suigetsu's head before tearing the cleaver out of Juugo's hand, lunging at him with it.
"Suigetsu, get upstairs and find a room," Sasuke snapped, dragging a struggling Karin out of the kitchen. "Preferably one with a lock on the door."
Suigetsu rolled his eyes and did as he was told, trudging upstairs to find a room as Sasuke forced Karin to sit and have a time-out on the ottoman. Back in the kitchen, Juugo's euphoria only grew when he unearthed an ancient record player from one of the cabinets.
Turning it on, he dropped the needle and happily went back to baking, this time accompanied by the soulful tunes of Dusty Springfield.
After Sasuke, Suigetsu, and Karin had each found a room to sleep in (located with eerie convenience as the first three rooms on the second floor), they returned to the kitchen where Juugo seemed to be in some sort of ecstatic trance, murmuring the words to the old songs floating from the record player as he continued baking up a storm.
They each took a square of the gingerbread once it had cooled, eating in silence, at least until Juugo took a break and moved closer, towering over them and smiling expectantly.
He was holding the massive cleaver again.
"This is fantastic, Juugo," Karin said in a hoarse voice, tearing her eyes away from the knife. "You should market the recipe. You'd make millions."
"Yeah," Suigetsu agreed with her for once in his life, despite his strong aversion to sweets. "It's…awesome."
Juugo looked at Sasuke expectantly.
The Uchiha held his hand out, knowing just what kind of compliment meant the most to those partial to the culinary arts.
"I'd like another one."
Juugo looked absolutely tickled pink.
Once they finished eating and the tray was empty, Sasuke stood up, joints aching with weariness as he glanced at the clock.
"Try to get some rest if you can, Juugo," he said, lingering in the kitchen doorway as Suigetsu and Karin left to head upstairs.
Juugo didn't seem to hear him, intent on trying to pry open some walnuts to put in his cookies. Sasuke quickly turned and left once Juugo placed the walnut on a chopping block and picked up the massive cleaver again, a slightly alarming grin overtaking his features.
Note to self, Sasuke thought inwardly, ascending the stairs. Don't get in the way of Juugo's baking.
He emerged upstairs, the faint sounds of the record player following him through the walls as he slowly walked through the hallway, glancing at his surroundings. The hallway was dimly lit by the same kind of wall lamps downstairs, the sickly yellow light faint and mottled through an accumulation of dust and cobwebs.
Dust-covered pictures and frames hung on the walls, and he walked past the three bedrooms to get a better look, brow furrowing at the bizarre depictions of animals in ballroom gowns and framed insects.
Karin's muffled, irritated voice reached his ears a moment later, and turning away from the odd pictures, he looked down at the end of the hallway where the bathroom was.
"You mind not watching me?" Karin snapped, attempting to floss with Suigetsu leaning against the doorway to the washroom.
"I drank too much water," he said with a leering grin. "So hurry up."
"You'll just have to wait. Unlike you, I value dental hygiene."
"My teeth are perfect."
"For a shark, maybe. Your teeth would make a dentist cry."
"If you don't get out right now, I'll go with you still in there."
"You wouldn't dare."
Sasuke took a step forward to yank Suigetsu out of the doorway just as the Mist nin reached down to unzip his pants.
"Suigetsu, wait your turn."
Sasuke stood there for a while, glancing around at the dim hallway, shoulders tense. He couldn't help but feel there was another presence in the house.
"Oh, man, that's just gross," Suigetsu suddenly said, sounding disgusted.
"Shut up," Karin replied through a mouthful of floss, spitting blood into the sink. "I can't sleep unless I get them totally clean."
"You're going to cut open a freakin' artery and bleed out, you psycho."
"Would you stop watching me, please?"
"You'll have the most retarded inscription on your tombstone. It'll say—"
Suigetsu abruptly stopped talking when an obscenely loud, creaking sound filled the silent hallway, reminiscent of screaming hinges. They slowly turned their heads to look at the door adjacent to the bathroom, staring at it as it slowly swung open on its own accord.
Sasuke slowly unsheathed his sword, holding it out in front of him before walking towards the doorway. Suigetsu and Karin followed, tensing in preparation to attack when Sasuke stepped inside and flicked on the light.
The wall lamps flickered to life, one of them blinking spasmodically and casting an eerie flicker over the room.
"…holy shit," Suigetsu said in amazement.
"What is this?" Sasuke muttered aloud, looking at the walls with a disturbed look on his face.
"It's a taxidermy room," Karin said in disbelief, taking a step inside. "Where you stuff dead animals for decoration."
They took a step forward into the room, cringing at the smell of preservatives and musty old fur. Enormous moose heads adorned the walls, along with full-scale wolf, deer, and boar models, each looking hauntingly real. A corner of the room was stacked with a variety of birds and in another corner with a huge pile of discarded animal parts.
An enormous table took up most of the space in the center of the room, piled with toppled animals and grimy buckets. An array of rusty, medieval-looking tools were scattered over the tabletop.
Sasuke glanced around at the room until he caught sight of an obscured, tall figure in the back, draped in a white sheet. Cautiously, he slowly moved towards it, holding his sword in his right hand as he reached out to remove the sheet.
He took a fistful of the white cloth and pulled. The sheet slipped off and a grinning figure suddenly tilted forward and fell towards him, arms outstretched.
Sasuke leapt back and swung his sword on instinct, severing the head from the body and backing ungracefully into the wall when the body fell on top of him. The head went rolling across the floor.
Karin let out a cry of disgust and kicked the head away while Suigetsu leapt forward and pulled the body off of Sasuke, throwing it to the floorboards.
It fell to the floor with a heavy thump, arms still outstretched towards the ceiling.
"Holy shit, Sasuke, you cut off the poor bastard's head so fast he didn't even get a chance to bleed," Suigetsu said admiringly.
"He wasn't alive, dumbass," Karin spat, shooting a disgusted look at the grinning head. "This body was stuffed, just like the animals."
"No way," Suigetsu said in disbelief, moving towards the corpse on the ground, toeing it with his shoe. "Who the hell would do something like that?"
Sasuke said nothing, growing increasingly disturbed as the head rocked gently over the floor, one of the glass eyes missing.
"Let's get out of here," he said flatly, turning to leave. "We're leaving first thing tomorrow."
"I should warn you," Suigetsu drawled, following Sasuke out of the room. "I heard I sleepwalk."
"Have you killed anyone in your sleep?"
"Then why are you warning me?"
"In case I do something weird."
Sasuke vaguely wondered what exactly Suigetsu was capable of doing in his sleep, but put that thought in the back of his mind. After all, the chances of Suigetsu having a sleepwalking episode tonight were slim. They'd sleep and they'd leave first thing tomorrow morning. No stress, no hassle.
Taking a deep breath, Sasuke willed himself to relax as he filled his bottle of water from the washroom tap, not quite sure why he was feeling so tense in the first place.
"Goodnight, Sasuke," Karin crooned from her room, before shutting her door.
"Hn," Sasuke offered noncommittally, before slipping into his room and shutting the door quietly behind him, not bothering to lock it.
He let his eyes adjust to the darkness, making out the dresser, vanity table, and queen-sized bed at the opposite end of the room. The copper-coloured moonlight streamed through the window, giving the room a reddish glow. The setting was quaint. Almost nice.
Relaxing, Sasuke shrugged off his shirt and undid his belt, dropping them and his shoes on the chair before crawling into bed. He set his water bottle down on the nightstand and pulled the musty sheet up to cover his bare chest, placing his sword on the mattress in front of him before lying down.
He nestled his face into the side of the soft pillow, letting his body relax.
Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath, absorbing the aroma of gingerbread in the air before eventually drifting off to the muffled, soporific sounds of Dusty singing Spooky.
Sasuke's eyes slowly opened, blinking blearily in the darkness when he heard a soft creak in the floorboards. Attributing the sound to the house's old age, he let his eyes slide shut again, burrowing the side of his face into his pillow.
His eyes opened again, this time wide and alert when the sound came from somewhere alarmingly close to the bed, an unusual smell emanating from somewhere around his head. Wordlessly, he wrapped his fingers around his sword, tensing as he sensed another presence in the room.
Then he felt the weight of something settling on the mattress behind him and rolled over, about to stab the intruder when he abruptly stopped, eyes widening once he saw who it was.
Suigetsu was sitting on the bed, eyes half-lidded, holding a jar of peanut butter and a butter knife.
Sasuke stared at him in disbelief, before lowering his gaze and feeling his eyes widen in shock.
The Mist nin had spread peanut butter all over the side of his pillow.
And he apparently aimed to continue doing so as he sluggishly dipped the knife into the jar again, scraping some out and leaning forward in a state of half-sleep to keep spreading it on the pillow.
The most Sasuke could do was stare at him blankly.
"Suigetsu, what the hell do you think you're doing?"
He didn't reply, looking intensely focused on his endeavor.
Staring at Suigetsu's glazed eyes and slack-jawed expression, Sasuke slowly came to realize that he was sleepwalking, and he sighed and rubbed his temples as the Mist nin eyed his work with bloodshot eyes.
"Suigetsu, stop that," Sasuke said in a clear, loud voice. "Wake up."
"Dun wanna," he slurred in response, words hardly distinguishable. "'m hungeey."
"You're allergic to peanut butter. Give me the jar."
Suppressing the urge to backhand his companion, Sasuke reached forward and slapped him lightly a few times on the cheek.
"Suigetsu, wake up."
He didn't even blink, and only when he leaned forward to try and bite Sasuke's peanut butter-smeared pillow did the Uchiha shove him back, snatching the jar of peanut butter and the knife from his hands.
"Nngh, geff ott me you'f ucker," Suigetsu mumbled, a faint scowl marring his features as Sasuke grabbed his shoulders, shaking him firmly.
"Wake up, Suigetsu. Don't make me hit you."
"Yer mom's a hit you."
Sasuke backhanded him and the Mist nin went sprawling to the floor, only to crawl to his hands and knees, edging forward to try and bite Sasuke on the leg.
"Damn it, Suigetsu—" Sasuke leaned down, grabbing him by the front of his shirt and jerking him up, shaking him roughly. "Wake up!"
"No," he whined, sounding like a kicked puppy. "No, no..."
Sasuke tried to restrain him as he reached towards the bed, reaching for the jar of peanut butter while moaning despairingly and growing increasingly volatile.
"Suigetsu, stop it!"
"Nooo," he moaned pitifully, slumping against Sasuke's chest in despair when the Uchiha tightened his arms to keep him immobile. "Leggo 'a me."
Sasuke eventually realized he wasn't going to get anywhere with the abusive approach, especially since Suigetsu was growing increasingly stronger with his thrashes, pushing his palm against the side of Sasuke's face with enough force to push his head off.
The only way out of this was to coax the confused nin with words, and gentle ones at that.
"Suigetsu," Sasuke said as gently as he could through gritted teeth, suppressing the urge to kill him as he yanked on his hair. "You can't eat that pillow. It's expired."
Suigetsu abruptly stopped thrashing, jaw slackening.
"That's right, it's old and moldy," Sasuke continued, prying the Mist nin's hands off his face. "It'll make you sick."
Suigetsu stared at him for an unbearably long time, unblinking. It wouldn't have felt as awkward as it was if Sasuke wasn't physically restraining him with a hug, of all things, bringing their faces uncomfortably close to each other.
"'m thirsty," Suigetsu mumbled finally, sounding subdued.
Cautiously, Sasuke slowly released his hold on him, watching him carefully as he reached for the glass of water on the nightstand and handed it to him. Suigetsu took it mechanically and gulped down the entire thing, dropping it into Sasuke's outstretched hands.
Then he calmly walked past him and crawled into Sasuke's bed, curling up against the remaining, clean pillow.
Sasuke could only stare it him blankly, his right eye twitching at odd intervals as he suppressed the urge to smother the Mist nin with the peanut butter-smeared pillow.
Rubbing the bridge of his nose, he sighed heavily before circling the bed, throwing the soiled pillow to the floor as he crawled in next to Suigetsu, sitting up against the headboard. Leaning his head back against the wall, he wearily closed his eyes, eventually drifting off to the sounds of Suigetsu's soft snores.
Karin crept out of her room, casting a glance down the hall before slowly shutting the door behind her. Her jaw worked furiously as she made her way to the washroom, fingers curled around the dental floss in her pocket.
Damn Suigetsu for making me rush, she thought grouchily, turning on the light and scowling into the mirror. How can I sleep with this giant piece of gingerbread stuck in my teeth?
She set to work furiously flossing out the offending bit of food, so intent on her endeavor that she didn't notice the presence standing outside the open bathroom door until she caught sight of his reflection.
Muffling a shriek of surprise, she whipped around, slapping her hand to her heaving chest as Suigetsu regarded her with a blank look on his face, eyes half-lidded.
"You," she said through gritted teeth, narrowing her eyes. "What the hell is wrong with you, sneaking up on me like that?"
Suigetsu made no reply, only staring at her with his mouth slightly agape.
Karin raised an eyebrow, reaching forward to wave a hand in front of his face.
"'m hungeey," he mumbled finally.
Karin stared at him, until the gears in her mind turned and she realized the Mist nin was sleepwalking. Slowly, a malicious grin curved her lips.
"You're hungry?" she cooed, stepping forward and putting a hand on his shoulder. "Want to get something to eat with me?"
"'kay," Suigetsu mumbled.
"All right, follow me," Karin said in a saccharine voice, taking his hand and leading him towards the flight of stairs leading to the third floor. "I'll get you something to eat."
Suigetsu followed her up the stairs, hand limp in hers as she tugged him along, bringing him into the hallway. Karin's malicious grin became positively sadistic when she saw a set of balcony doors at the end of the hall, and she left him momentarily to go open them, walking out onto the balcony to peer over the railing.
He could possibly break his neck if he fell from this height, or, failing that, would splatter into a puddle and evaporate come morning.
Karin smirked, turning away from the railing and walking back into the hall where Suigetsu stood, staring blankly into space.
"You see that?" she said amiably, pointing him towards the balcony. "The kitchen's right over that railing there. Juugo's waiting on the other end with lots of gingerbread."
"Unh?" Suigetsu said wonderingly.
"That's right," Karin cooed sweetly, pushing his shoulder to get him moving. "Go ahead."
Suigetsu stumbled a little but then continued walking, slowly making his way towards the balcony as Karin happily turned tail and skipped back down the stairs, heading towards the kitchen for a glass of water.
As she descended the stairs and turned to cross through the den, her foot bumped up against something soft and furry.
Lowering her eyes, Karin blanched. The carpet was crawling with mice, the little black rodents darting in between and around her ankles. And directly in front of her, a hair away from her foot was the most massive white rat she'd ever seen. The obese rat looked up at her and hissed, teeth bared.
Sasuke slowly opened his eyes, blinking hazily in the copper-tinted moonlight when the sound of a high-pitched shriek rang out from somewhere in the house.
Squinting in the dim moonlight, he reached up to rub his eyes with his fists, turning his head to glance to the side.
Suigetsu was missing.
Cursing, Sasuke scrambled out of bed and grabbed his shirt, shoes, and belt, putting them on before darting out of his room and into the hallway, sword unsheathed. The faint music emanating from the record player in the kitchen drifted through the walls, sounding decidedly eerie as Sasuke slowly moved down the hall, following the odd, cold draft coming down the flight of stairs leading to the third floor.
When he swallowed, Sasuke found his throat unusually dry, shoulders tense as he ascended the stairs, sharingan activated.
He couldn't explain the odd feeling of vulnerability he'd encountered as soon as he'd stepped into the old house, and now it was worse than ever as he emerged into the dark hallway, feeling like he was being watched.
The first door in the hall was slightly ajar, and he moved towards it with his sword out by his side. Pushing it open, Sasuke grimaced at the offensively strong odor that hit him in the face, moving to cover his nose and mouth as his other hand searched for a light.
He found it and flicked it on. A single, bare bulb dangling from the ceiling flickered to life. And Sasuke merely stared, feeling goose bumps break out along his arms, jaw slackening.
Cats. Cats everywhere. The entire room was filled to the brim with the fattest cats he'd ever seen. They reclined on the bed, perched on the dresser, littered the vanity table, huddled in the closet, curled up on the floor, watched from under the bed, and sat on the chairs.
The cats stared at him unblinkingly. Sasuke stared back.
Then one of them abruptly lunged at him from the top of the dresser, yowling fiercely with its claws outstretched.
Cursing, Sasuke stumbled back and slammed the door shut, wide-eyed as the cat went face-first into the door with a loud thump.
What the hell is going on? He wondered, feeling greatly disturbed as he backed away from the room, glancing down the hall.
The sight that met his eyes made his jaw drop.
Suigetsu was teetering on the edge of the balcony railing, stomach pressing into the bar as he leaned over it, legs lifting away from beneath him as he tilted forward.
The Mist nin went tumbling over just as Sasuke burst onto the balcony, lunging forward to grab his ankle as he plummeted over the side.
"Urf," Suigetsu mumbled unintelligibly, swinging upside down from his ankle as Sasuke went skidding forward from the pull of his weight, colliding none-too-gently with the railing.
"Suigetsu!" Sasuke yelled, straining to pull the Mist nin up when a loose spoke of the railing started jabbing him viciously in the ribs. "Try to pull yourself up!"
"Karin…kitchen said…wan' food."
Sasuke wanted to bash his head against a sharp corner out of aggravation.
"Suigetsu, wake up! I can't pull you up unless you give me some help."
The spoke dug deeper into his skin, dangerously close to the soft flesh between his ribs as Suigetsu's weight dragged him closer into it.
Growing desperate, Sasuke grabbed for his sword, unsheathing it and attempting to hack off the spoke when Suigetsu suddenly twisted beneath him and he lost his grip. In a split-second reaction, Sasuke shoved his sword between the railings, piercing through Suigetsu's pants.
The sword snapped up from the weight, pinning itself between two metal spokes and making Suigetsu plummet past the second floor windows and jerk to a stop, hanging head-first in front of the kitchen window on the first floor, slowly swinging back and forth with his behind exposed, going completely unnoticed by Juugo who continued singing along with the music and hacking at walnuts with the giant cleaver.
Cursing, Sasuke turned and ran back into the house.
Jumping the stairs, he tore through the living room, stopping only momentarily when Karin screamed.
Turning towards the source of the noise, he stared in astonishment at the sight of her perched atop the dining table, shaking violently as mice and one enormous white rat clawed at the legs of the table.
"Sasuke!" she shrieked, raising her head and catching sight of him. "Get them away from me!"
Sasuke looked between her and the kitchen window, blanching when he caught sight of Suigetsu's white hair swinging idly outside the glass, arms limp by his sides.
"Karin, I'll come back," he promised, rushing off towards the kitchen, looking for the back door.
"Juugo, I need your help. Suigetsu is—" Sasuke stopped abruptly, taking in the sight of Juugo standing there in front of the counter.
He was covered from head to toe in some dark, red substance, smiling, and he was still holding the giant cleaver, holding it over what looked like a pile of blood and shrapnel.
Sasuke didn't bother with questions. He turned and bolted out the back door.
Suigetsu still hadn't gained consciousness, hanging there from the balcony with his pale behind exposed to the cool night air, eyes open and half-lidded.
Sasuke shouted his name in a vain attempt to wake him, eventually realizing he wasn't going to get anywhere with words this time. Pulling a kunai from the holster strapped to his leg, he carefully took aim and let it fly.
The blade shredded through the strip of cloth holding Suigetsu up and he plummeted towards the ground. Sasuke rushed forward with his arms outstretched, falling to the ground in an undignified heap when Suigetsu landed on top of him.
Groaning in pain, Sasuke pushed the unconscious nin off of him and slowly got to his feet, hobbling forward to grab his sword that had fallen with Suigetsu. Sheathing it, he hobbled back to Suigetsu and lifted him over his shoulder, staggering under his dead weight and the throbbing pain in his backside.
He stumbled into the house through the back door, glancing around and trying to gather his bearings.
Suigetsu was mumbling something about wanting his mother, Karin could be heard shrieking in the den, and the intense aroma of gingerbread saturated every molecule of air in the house.
And amidst all the chaos, Juugo and Dusty Springfield could be heard crooning 60's love songs from the kitchen.
What kind of fuckery is this? Sasuke wondered, feeling mildly sick.
Juugo suddenly re-entered the kitchen from the pantry, still covered in red stains when he noticed Sasuke's horrified stare.
"Oh, this?" he said airily, pointing to the red smudge on his cheek. "It's the silliest thing. I was trying to get a jar of strawberry jam open and—"
"We're leaving," Sasuke announced loudly, on the verge of something resembling panic. "Right now."
"But I was just about to make some strawberry muffins—"
Juugo blinked, startled when Sasuke ran out of the kitchen with Suigetsu still slung over his shoulder. Juugo followed, only to turn towards the den when Sasuke shouted something about Karin and a giant white rat.
Juugo found her cowering on the table, and she leapt into his arms when he stepped over the mice and held out his hand.
Sasuke staggered out of the house, running from it as fast as he could with Suigetsu over his shoulder, running till the house disappeared behind the trees and they'd made it to the riverside.
Juugo arrived soon after, holding Karin in his arms and looking confused as Sasuke's legs gave away beneath him and he collapsed, with Suigetsu falling bodily on top of him.
"Unh…wha? What the hell? Sasuke, what are we doing outside?" Suigetsu suddenly said, sounding confused. "And what the hell are you doing under me?"
"Get off me," Sasuke said through gritted teeth. "Now."
The Mist nin scrambled to his feet, looking bewildered as he glanced around at his surroundings and looking even more bewildered when he found his pants completely torn from behind, his buttocks fairly luminescent in the moonlight.
"What the fuck," Suigetsu said blankly, before looking at Sasuke in horror. "Did you try to ass rape me in my sleep?"
Sasuke calmly got to his feet with as much dignity as he could muster, took a deep, calming breath, and backhanded Suigetsu across the face.
The Mist nin stumbled back and fell into the river, cursing, and Juugo looked regretfully back at the direction from which they'd come, still donning the red apron.
"Never again," Sasuke muttered to himself, wide-eyed and pale. "Never again, never again."
Juugo gave him a vaguely perturbed look.
"What happened, exactly?"
"Nothing," Sasuke croaked. "From now on, we sleep outside."
Suigetsu crawled out of the water, slumping over the riverbank and panting.
"You crazy son of a bitch," he gasped. "There was nothing wrong with that house. I was sleeping like a baby until you dragged me out here."
"Shut up," Sasuke ordered, voice cracking. "Just shut up."
Juugo attempted to set Karin down on the grass, only to give up and sit down with her in his lap when she clung tighter, whimpering.
Jeez, Kabuto-san was right, Juugo thought, sparing a glance at Sasuke. He really is a spaz.
Needless to say, none of them slept that night, and once morning came Sasuke led them out of the forest faster than a bat out of hell.
He developed a debilitating phobia of Dusty Springfield's music and an intense aversion to gingerbread and peanut butter—his only keepsakes from the bizarre little inn in that nameless forest.
And somewhere, hidden in River country…
Uchiha Itachi unconsciously smirked in his sleep.
Suddenly, he somehow he got the feeling that setting that peculiar genjutsu in that nameless little forest hadn't been such a waste of chakra, after all.
Note: Why couldn't Sasuke see it was a genjutsu? Because he lacks...vitamin A. Reviews would be greatly appreciated. Your favourite part, ranting, etc. I love it all.