Warning: Some violence, smut including some very minor incest. Uhh, some language. That is all.
Disclaimer: Kishi-sama is still the owner. I own nothing but Rei's in-your-face attitude. I make no money. Ever. Which is why I'm broke.
A/N: Aren't you proud of me? I posted! Yeah, don't answer that. I know I'm asking for a lickin'. Yes it has been way too long. I'm sorry. I'll try to get another chapter out soon. Okay, first off some thanks. filmfreaksje, thx for all your helpful tips. So glad you like the story thus far. I'll try to keep pleasing. To Dark Auroran. Thanks so much for your awesome edit of the first half and for your wicked ideas. I will try to use as many of them as possible in the next couple of chapters but I just wanted to get this out. And to Editor-chan from MischaPallasAthenaKitsune, thank you so much for editing in the middle of the night so I could post this right away. You rock!! Okay, read on and please review. I'll write more soon if you do…I promise!!
glared down the long dining table at his brother. The dozens of
knights and two nobles in between them shifted uncomfortably as
though caught between two angry beasts circling each other, the
tension in the air, especially the air around Sasuke, was so thick
you could cut it with a knife. Itachi looked up from his meal and
sneered down the table.
"What's wrong, Otouto?" Sasuke promptly pushed out his chair and stomped from the room. Kakashi glared at Itachi and then glanced at his half-finished plate of food sighing before he pushed out his chair and followed him, pausing at the door when he heard Itachi's voice call out to him.
"Running after him to hold his hand, Kakashi? You're as bad as Umino." The noble snickered and glanced at Iruka who was blushing and glaring at his plate, in no position to comment on Itachi's insult. So much had changed since Itachi was a child, the brunette thought. The man wasn't the same loyal, devout young man who, despite being incredibly independent and self-sufficient, had hero worshiped Kakashi in much the same way Sasuke had hero-worshipped him. Now Itachi was cold bordering on frigid and almost malicious in his attempts to make those around him miserable without causing any real damage. Iruka made up his mind not to let anything that Itachi said get under his skin. If a hissy fit was what he wanted, Iruka wasn't going to give it to him. Smiling, he glanced up at the handsome, pale raven.
"It a delight to see you again, Lord Itachi. How long will you be gracing us with your presence?" A sleek, black brow arched at the torrential undercurrents of sarcasm laced in the chuunin's words.
"Hn." Iruka smiled a little wider at the noble's lack of a witty response.
"Wonderful! It will be a great opportunity for you to get to know some of the new knights and to spend some time with your brother and Kakashi. It seems like so long ago that the four of us used to do everything together, no?" Itachi sneered over his cup of wine at his old literature and history instructor.
"I suppose I've just outgrown you. I require more…stimulating company nowadays." Iruka smiled broadly at the jab to his personality, not missing a beat.
"Well I'd have to agree with you. There can't be much that someone like me could teach someone like you now," he let his lips fall into a devious smirk, "unless of course you spelling is as atrocious as it used to be." The entire table choked on their meals and the Uchiha's shark-like personal guard actually laughed out loud at his master, though he was silenced quickly with razor sharp glare. Iruka grinned and slid out his chair.
"With your permission my lords, my lady, I'll take my leave." Not waiting for a response he turned on his heels and walked out of the room to hide the very self satisfied smirk he was sporting. Itachi fumed internally at being outdone by the simple chuunin and began plotting ways to make Iruka's life miserable. But first he had to continue with his current mission, annoy Sasuke to the point of violence, and, time allowing, harass Kakashi.
Kakashi stepped into Sasuke's study, finding the raven sulking on the small chaise on the far side of the room.
"You shouldn't have left like that."
"Hn." Kakashi sighed and pulled a chair in front of the young noble.
"All he wants is a reaction from you and you give it to him every time. Why can't you just shrug him off like you do everyone else?" Sasuke growled and rubbed his hands over his face.
"I don't know. It's that damn look of his. When and why the hell did he get so sadistic? What the hell did I do to make him want to fuck with me so much? He used to be the most important figure in my life." Kakashi stood up and pretended to examine the bookshelf near where they had been sitting.
"I think it may be more my fault than yours. When you turned thirteen your father decided the two of you should start training separately." Sasuke gritted his teeth.
"Because I was holding him back." Kakashi groaned, not wanting to get into that can of worms at the moment.
"Or so your father thought. Iruka and I were given the choice as to who we would continue to train and we both chose you. Itachi had little use for either of us anymore. Let's just say for…various reasons…Itachi was pissed. Then after Shisui died he really became cold. I think he felt abandoned. Whenever I tried to speak to him after that he'd put up that intolerable, egotistical front of his. I think part of the reason he likes picking on you is how much it bothers me."
"That," both sensei and student spun around to the door where Itachi was leaning lazily against the frame, "is rather narcissistic of you Kakashi, don't you think?" The commanding presence moved deeper into the room and Kakashi could feel Sasuke tense. "I tease my brother for a two reasons. The first is that he's weak and pathetically emotional and needs to learn to properly control his emotions like an Uchiha. The second being," the somewhat impassive face slid into a cruel smirk, "it amuses me." Kakashi could feel the dangerous waves of rage pouring from the stone-faced young man but surprising both of the rooms occupants Itachi moved past Sasuke and stood right behind Kakashi, trapping the man in front of the bookshelf. Sasuke's black eyes widened as his brother leaned into the knight's lean frame and whispered seductively.
"Besides, how could I ever stay upset with you when we've had such good times together?" Itachi smirked when Kakashi's body went rigid as a steel blade. Deciding to pounce on this opportunity to make his old friend uncomfortable he reached out and lightly grasped the older man's hip, shifting in closer, his warm breath caressing the back of the knight's neck. "Mmmm, such good times." Kakashi whipped around, his single dark grey eye warning that Itachi was about to cross a very dangerous line. The two confident and powerful men stared each other down in complete silence each waiting for the other to make their move, Sasuke's somewhat bewildered gaze flipping between them. Finally Itachi cocked his head to the side and let his eyes slide up and down the jounin's lanky frame.
"While it would be nostalgic I'm afraid I'm interested in a more youthful model. You're antiquated compared to what I've got my eye on now." He let his sadistic smirk shift to Sasuke who immediately raised his hackles when he remembered Itachi's words to Naruto earlier. Without shifting his gaze he waved a hand absentmindedly at Kakashi. "Leave us. My brother and I have so much catching up to do." Pausing only to rest a calming hand on the younger Uchiha's shoulder and whisper 'steady' in Sasuke's ear, the silver-haired knight strode from the room. He would return to check in on them before to long to make sure they hadn't killed one another.
Neither noble watched Kakashi leave, their heated staring contest far too important to be interrupted. Itachi's cool sneer widened and he lifted his hand and gestured to the small couch that Sasuke had shared with Naruto only hours before.
"Now little brother, sit, tell me everything that's been happening since our last encounter." Sasuke glared but didn't take the suggested seat. Smiling at the teen's predictability Itachi moved to the sideboard and poured them both a glass of wine. When he turned back around his face was softened by the disarming smile he wore. "Come now, Otouto. Let's speak as brothers for a moment. I want to know how you and your region have been fairing." After a long hesitation Sasuke took the offered cup from his brother and sat on the chaise, pressing his body to the far end to avoid brushing legs with his brother. Taking a long sip of the tart, crimson liquid the younger Uchiha gave into his brother's expectant gaze.
"There have been few problems since I've been here. There's a very small faction that has outwardly opposed the merger. There was an incident when the Hyuuga's were en route to the village. Several Hyuuga knights were injured in the attack and Lady Hinata spent a night in the village with the healers after she was forced to flee from the attackers and almost drowned. It would be prudent to keep one of the family's healers here when there are noble's at the lodge so we don't put a strain on the town's infirmary." Itachi shifted his arm to the back of the couch and nodded in agreement.
"I concur. If there was a sickness in the town there's risk that you or the Hyuugas could become infected. You have to be careful out here in the sticks, the classes tend to blend more frequently than in the cities and castles, leaving you more vulnerable to disease and attacks. Good, continue. Have you had any more trouble with them?" Sasuke's pale lips hung open in shock as he shook his head. He was actually having a conversation with his brother. Neither of them were snapping or growling or insulting one another. He took a deep breath and cleared his throat.
"Uh, yes. Things have been progressing painfully slowly with the town's council." Itachi's chuckle made the rest of the thought he was going to vocalize stick in his throat.
"Indeed, councils can be aggravating. Doddering old fools and useless, indecisive morons." Itachi took a sip of his wine and glanced sideways at his brother's surprised face. "Come now, little brother. I was dealing with councils when you were still stealing away from the castle." Sasuke blushed and scowled at the mention of his immature attempts to avoid his arranged marriage. "The town seems to be in good shape. You've kept a reasonable compliment of merchants. Commerce seems to be flourishing with the festival wrapping up. Now tell me about you. Are you happy here?" Sasuke tipped the last of his wine down his throat and leaned back against the couch, sighing.
"If you had asked me that a month ago, I'd have said no." Itachi quirked an eyebrow and smiled knowingly at his little brother.
"But something changed that, no?" Sasuke let a small smile ghost over his lips as he thought about the expressive blue eyes of his friend. His eyes slid closed and a faint blush spread to his cheeks as he remembered the feel of the tan skin against his. He was barely aware of the whisper in his ear.
"Have you ever had sex, Otouto?" Itachi hissed seductively. Sasuke's head shifted indicating a negative response, but the black eyes didn't open. Itachi slid closer to his little brother, feeling the heat and desire pouring off the smaller man in waves. "But you're not as innocent as mother would like to believe." Sasuke's grin widened a little, however he was far too lost in his own little Naruto-centric dream world for his mind to realize that Itachi had a hand on his knee that was slowly moving up towards his thigh, the other hand softly teasing the hairs on the back of his neck.
"So who has changed your mind about this place?" Sasuke didn't respond but spread his legs as Itachi's hand moved higher. A soft sigh left the younger's mouth as memories of Naruto smell and taste washed over him like a tidal wave. Itachi moved closer, letting his lips contact the shell of Sasuke's ear.
"Is this special person a woman or a man? Could it perhaps be that spectacular blonde boy I met earlier?" Sasuke snapped back to reality as his brother mentioned Naruto and lips closed around the bottom of his ear. He gasped and jerked his head away.
"Itachi what are you-." He was cut off as strong hands fisted his hair and the other slid up to his straining erection, his mouth filled with a hungry tongue. Sasuke grunted as his brother massaged his crotch and crushed their lips together. He smacked the lower hand away only to have it join the other on the side of his head. Itachi growled with desire while exploring his little brother's mouth. Getting over his initial shock, Sasuke bit down hard on the invading muscle while prying the restraining hands away. Taking advantage of the increased space between them Sasuke leapt to his feet and spit on the ground before turning to his brother in outrage.
"WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?" Itachi merely smirked and wiped a trail of blood from the corner of his mouth.
"Relax Otouto. Incest and inbreeding are far from uncommon in our family. Mother and Father are second cousins. How do you think we keep our familial traits so sharp?" He tapped his eye socket and picked up his cup as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. Sasuke trembled in rage, his eyes bleeding to red as he glared down at his older sibling.
"You're fucking insane! What happened to you?" Itachi's face became stony and he stared blankly at the wall in front of him.
"The same thing that happened to you during the war. I'm just a much more advanced case." Sasuke's rage didn't abate but he couldn't help but stare in morbid fascination at the emptiness his brother seemed to radiate. "I take pleasure in almost nothing anymore, little brother, nothing but making the people I used to love feel as I do. The last time I saw you you were coming along nicely, becoming admirably cold, removed and callous. So you can imagine my surprise to find that you reclaimed some of your former self." Itachi turned back to Sasuke, the sadistic smirk back in place. "Is your little, blonde chew toy responsible for that?" The younger Uchiha snarled and snatched a letter opener off his desk before whirling back around. Itachi was still on the couch but his Sharingan was activated and he was balancing his dagger between the tips of his index fingers.
"He is a remarkable find, little brother. Those blue eyes sparkle with such innocence. It would be such fun to see how deep that innocence runs." Sasuke growled and took a step forward.
"You STAY away from him!" The elder Sharingan-wielder stood and moved closer to his sibling.
"What's the matter, Otouto? Scared of a little competition?" The pale fingers closed around the handle of the dagger. Both men faced each other with weapons at the ready.
"I mean it, Itachi. You want to fuck with me, fine, but you leave him alone or I'll put you in the ground."
"So protective, little brother. I really must find out what exactly he's done to you." Sasuke hissed in fury and rushed towards Itachi.
Kakashi wandered back down the corridor thinking he'd probably left them alone for long enough. He opened the door to see Itachi standing in the middle of the room, calmly cleaning off a blade with a handkerchief.
"I believe my brother is in need of some medical attention." Kakashi turned to where Itachi had gestured to find Sasuke leaning against his desk gripping his bloody forearm.
"Oh for the love of…"
Rei read a few lines of Naruto's new book over his shoulder. He jerked the book away from her candle, which was nowhere close to the beautifully scribed pages. Sighing she tossled his hair before pecking his temple and moving over to check Tanzou's stitches.
"These are healing faster than I expected. You should be ready to go back to the lodge soon." He smiled weakly in return.
"Will I be able to resume my duties?" Rei shrugged and settled on the bed beside him.
"I'm not sure. Don't push it and you'll probably recover fully. But that means trying not to use your abdominal muscles at all. Hell, try to avoid coughing if you can." Tanzou frowned deeply and turned his head away. She reached out and gently ran her hand through his hair. "Hey, cheer up. You're recovering quickly. I…I can't give you any definitive reassurance because I've never treated anyone who was a seriously wounded as you before. But you're young and strong, if anyone can come back from this, you can." The teen squeezed his dark eyes closed before releasing a deep breath.
"I've wanted to be a knight since before I could walk. I was fencing with my brothers by the time I was four. My father was so proud when I was hand picked by Lord Hiashi himself when I was ten. I've been training for this my whole life. It's…all I know." She smiled softly at his candor.
"Yeah, you'll be just fine. Don't despair. If you don't believe whole-heartedly that you'll get better you'll never get fully back on your feet." Tanzou nodded and looked up at her in veiled awe. She smiled and gently nudged his chin. "Keep your chin up, Lucky, and you'll live up to your nickname." Smiling she stood and shook Haku awake. "Why don't you go up to bed? Zabuza won't go to sleep until you come up." He nodded and followed her to the door. "I'm just going to get my drawing stuff, Kit, I'll be right back." Naruto nodded but kept staring at Tanzou who was staring at Rei's departing back.
"It's amazing, isn't it?" Tanzou looked at the blonde, seemingly shocked that someone else was with him. "Mom used to tell us that there's more to healing than treating injuries. 'Sooth away fear like you would ease a tired muscle. Wipe away sadness gently like you would bathe a wound. Give hope and strength as freely as you give help.' I think she's pretty much got it mastered, don't you?" The dark-haired teen looked back to the empty doorway and nodded slowly. "Rei was always great at treating ailments but Mom was always after her about her bedside manner. 'Treat the head and the heart and the body will catch up.'" Naruto chuckled, delicately turning a page.
"Did you learn it from her?" Naruto smile mysteriously and gave a non-descriptive grunt in reply.
"Actually," both teens looked up to see Rei standing in the door way, "I learned it from him." Naruto shook his head and chuckled at Tanzou incredulous look. "When I was ten I got scarlet fever in the middle of the winter. Herb supplies were running low and even though my mother was treating me I could see the fear in her eyes that I might not pull through. Naruto was seven and had no reason to think that I wouldn't make it so he sat with me every day and slept beside my cot every night. When I woke up in the morning the first thing I'd see was his bright, smiling face." She ruffled her brother's hair and planted a kiss on his crown. "Who wouldn't get better with that as incentive? After that I was a believer. The body won't heal if the mind doesn't think that it will." Tanzou smiled softly at the obvious love between the pair, before summoning a wide grin and tucking his hands behind his head.
"No offense, Blondie, but I'd take one of your sister's touches over one of your smiles any day." Rei snorted and settled down on one of the spare cots while Naruto let out a melodic laugh that seemed to brighten the entire room. "Hmm, maybe I was wrong." Rei smiled at their patient knowingly.
"He has a gift. Something that can't be learned. I used to say that I was going to steal those perfect blue eyes of his." The trio continued to laugh and chat for a few minutes before the dark-haired teen feel asleep and Naruto and Rei went back to their respective reading and drawing. Ten minutes later when the last of the sunset had faded and they were about to head upstairs there was a commanding knock at the door of the shop. Sighing, Rei got up and unlocked the door.
"Kakashi," her face split into a shy smile, "I thought I wasn't going to get to see you until tomorrow night." Her face fell at his serious expression and she glanced at his hands. His cuffs covered in blood. "Oh gods, are you alright?"
"I'm fine. It's Lord Sasuke." The aforementioned teen appeared behind his mentor looking paler than usual.
"Oh, Little Prince! What have you done now?" She hurried back into the infirmary and began scrubbing her charcoal-stained fingers. "Kit, injury coming in." Naruto was already carefully wrapping up the book in a cloth and preparing the table to treat the patient. His eyes widened in dismay when Kakashi led Sasuke into the room.
"Teme? What happened? Are you alright?" He rushed to the raven's side and eased the noble into the seat he'd been using, letting Kakashi drift over to where Rei was now slinging an apron around her neck.
"He's bleeding like a stuck pig. You'll be able to help him, right?" Rei smiled at the knight and nodded.
"We'll do what we can. I'm sure he'll be fine. How did this happen?"
"We had a…disagreement." Rei looked towards the doorway before grabbing a razor sharp surgical knife and stepping between the teens and the tall, pale man in the threshold.
"YOU?!" Itachi smirked as the brunette held the tiny weapon out like a sword.
"Me." He leaned back against the wall and admired the way her enraged, green eyes glinted threateningly in the candle light before letting them slide to Naruto, who was tightly pressing a clean bandage to the wound while whispering softly to Sasuke. Growling, Rei brandished the knife and stepped forward when Kakashi caught her arms.
"You really don't want to do that." Rei's eyes flicked to boyfriend before returning to glare at the elder noble. "Lord Itachi is Sasuke's older brother." Kakashi sighed as he didn't feel any of the tension in her body abate.
"Get out!" Rei hissed at the noble who merely arched an eyebrow as if to say 'make me'.
"Rei!" Naruto's fear laden voice snapped her attention back to the table where the previously clean bandage was already completely crimson. Growling she pulled herself from Kakashi's grip and grabbed the rest of the supplies they'd need. Gently she took the limb out of her brother's hands and tied a piece of cloth around his bicep.
"Okay, Little Prince, Let's see what we've got here." She pulled back the soaked bandage and examined the wound, smiling when she discovered it wasn't as bad as it looked.
"No major blood pathways were cut. Just a few stitches and an impressive scar I'm afraid, Little Prince. You'll be around for me to harass for many years to come." Sasuke's head lolled before dropping to Naruto's shoulder, mumbling something incomprehensible. Naruto cupped the angular face forcing the bleary black eyes meet his.
"Teme, stay awake for us now. You'll be okay but you have to stay awake." He began to lean in to nuzzle the bridge of the noble's nose when a sharp kick from under the table made him grunt. He looked up at Rei who shot him a warning glance before her eyes darted to the other Uchiha who was watching the blonde intently. Naruto nodded and shifted Sasuke so he was sitting securely against his chest. He whispered soothingly in the raven's ear while his sister meticulously stitched up the injured arm. After washing the limb with some strong alcohol and giving Sasuke a tonic, to which he made a face and glared at her, Rei left the teens and moved into the front room to wash up. Kakashi followed, resting his hands on her hips as she scrubbed her hands clean.
"Thank you. I was really worried there for a bit." She shrugged in response and dug the coagulated blood out from under her fingernails. Kakashi stepped closer and wrapped his arms around her pulling her tightly to his chest. He felt her agitation start to melt away in his embrace as she leaned back and rested her head against his shoulder, lifting her chin so she could look up at his face. His visible eye curved into his trademark smile and she chuckled lightly, twisting in his grasp. Standing on her toes she tucked her fingers under the top of his mask when movement at the back of the room caught her attention. She pressed an index finger to his covered lips and whispered 'hold that thought' before roughly shoving him out of the way and stomping across the room toward Itachi. Kakashi scrambled after her.
'Oh please Kami, don't let her touch him.'
Itachi eyebrows raised in surprise, though the rest of his face remained impassive, as the woman he was easily a foot taller than began viciously prodding his chest.
"Why the hell did you do that to him?! He's your brother for Kami's sake." Itachi caught the offending arm and wrenched her closer, his icy eyes blazing down at her with a look that had frightened generals who were in charge of entire armies. She didn't balk, she didn't even flinch. She just stared back at him with the same fiery intensity. Kakashi stepped forward placing a hand on each of them trying to calm both of them down.
"Rei, just re-."
"Shut UP, Kakashi. So you're supposed to be his family, huh? No wonder Sasuke wanted out of the fucked up mellow drama he called a noble way of life. You Uchihas. You think you're so above us lowly serfs but you're more twisted and emotionally volatile than any human beings on the planet." Itachi was at a complete loss for words. He hardly ever dealt with commoners and they were usually either terrified of him or simpering fools, desperate for the chance to simply meet his eyes. But here, in the course of a single day, he'd been confounded by people several times already. He'd make her afraid, one way or another. No one spoke to him like this, ever.
Growling, Itachi fisted a chunk of hair by her temple and pressed his violet-tinted thumb nail into the soft skin of her cheek bone. Kakashi was starting to panic now but what could he do? Itachi was the prodigal child of the most powerful man in the territory. Rei winced when the hands on her tightened but she didn't back down and apologize. Instead she applied a grim sneer and practically laughed at the man who was about two seconds away from inflicting serious amounts of damage on her.
"What are you going to do, maim me, rape me, snap my neck? Go ahead, prove me right. If that cut had been any deeper he would have bled to death before you could have gotten him to us. Was that what you wanted? To murder your little brother?" Her eyes searched his, genuinely wanting an answer. His grips softened slightly as he looked into her questioning green eyes. Was there something in the town's water supply that made people act so intriguing? His brother, Iruka, the blonde, this woman who dared speak to him in this manner, were they all going crazy or was he simply losing his edge? His gaze shifted from her eyes to her full soft lips. Glancing at Kakashi, whose anxiety was pouring from his tensed body, he leaned forward and ran tongue over her lips. She immediately began to struggle.
"Ugh! Get OFF of me!" Kakashi having had just about enough of his lord's depravity, growled and grabbed one of the restraining arms.
"Itachi…" However what he was going to say they'd never know as a booming voice shattered the tension from the stairs to the healer's living quarters.
"Whadda ya fuckin' think yer doing?" Heavy footsteps shook the room and very slowly Itachi released Rei who stepped back, rubbing her arm and evaluating the situation. Zabuza was standing a few feet away from the noble cracking his knuckles while Haku had a knife pressed into the tender flesh near Itachi's kidneys, the gentle young man's eyes blazing with the same terrifying protectiveness that he'd shown when protecting Zabuza during their travels.
"Haku," Rei lifted her hands pleadingly but Kakashi had already stepped forward and snatched the weapon away. He had no desire at the moment to save his former student but his sense of duty out weighed his disgust with the man. Zabuza however did not find this sufficient. Itachi grunted in shock as he felt himself lifted off the floor and hurled into the next room. He rolled several times from the momentum and over turned the table in the center of the infirmary.
scooped the drowsy noble into his arms and carried him to one of the
free cots, gently laying Sasuke down before preparing the cot beside
them. He took the charcoal and sheets of paper from where Rei had
left them and set them down after pulling the bloody, white cloth off
the table. He grabbed the extra pillows from around the room and
piled them along the wall. He picked Sasuke back up and sat down on
the bed with the older teen between his legs, resting the injured
limb on one of the extra pillows and pulling the blankets up over
both of them.
Sasuke's head lolled and he pressed his face into Naruto's neck making the blonde shiver as hot breath rolled over his collarbones. Naruto sighed and stroked the silky black locks. The sound of raised voices from the other room drifted to the pair and Naruto chuckled.
"Hey, Teme." Sasuke grunted and nuzzle the soft skin his nose was pressed against in acknowledgement. "Hm, sounds like Rei is yelling at your brother." Sasuke chuckled and ran his nose up the tan jaw to the blonde's ear releasing a lung full of air on the sensitive skin. Naruto moaned and tightened his grip, massaging Sasuke's scalp as the raven hummed in contentment.
"Sasuke…did your brother really do this to you?" Sasuke's eyes flew open and the good arm moved under the blonde's head, fisting the golden locks.
"Naruto…stay away...don't…" Naruto tried to pull back to get a better view of his friend's face, his mind reeling as he tried to figure out what Sasuke was trying to say.
"It's okay, Teme. You're alright. I'm sure it was just an…" He was cut off as the pale hand tightened in his hair.
"No! Stay away…don't let him…hurt…" The blonde sighed in frustration.
"I don't understand. Do you want me to go?" Sasuke shook his head and buried his face in the tan neck.
"No…just don't let him…hurt…Don't let him…"
"Who? Your brother? He's not going to hurt you. You're safe here." Sasuke growled in annoyance, his consciousness slipping away.
"Don't let him…hurt you." Naruto let the numbness and shock of what he'd just heard sink in. 'Don't let him hurt me? Why would he want to hurt me?' Was Sasuke just too drowsy to know what he was saying? What the hell had happed this afternoon for that matter? Were they still just friends? Was Sasuke mad at him now? Why had Itachi hurt his brother? Naruto's mind raced as his friend dozed fitfully on his chest. The handsome pale face twisted in pain when he shifted making Naruto pull the pillow cushioning the injured limb closer to him. Sasuke sighed as the blonde gently stroked his temple.
"Teme…" Sasuke didn't reply. "Teme, I wish I knew what was going on with us. I…I like this. I miss being with you. I…I know it was a long time ago and we're both different now but is it still possible? Can't we give this another shot? Would you…I mean…do you still want to be with me?" Naruto glanced down at the peaceful face of his sleeping companion and smiled. "If only I could ask that when you were conscious." He chuckled and tightened his arms around Sasuke's chest. His laughter halted when a body came tumbling into the room and knocked over the table sending Rei's sketches flying. His eyes widened when Itachi Uchiha raised himself up slowly, murderous intent pouring from his very being. Immediately Kakashi sprinted into the room helping the Uchiha to his feet, follow closely by Zabuza who had Rei tugging on his arm trying to get him to leave. Haku trailed the group looking mildly confused and amused.
"What happen-." Rei cut Naruto off as she tried to push Zabuza's hulking frame out of the infirmary.
"Not now, Kit. Bruiser, please get out of here before he kills you!"
"I ain't 'fraid of him. He shouldn't have…"
"For Kami's sake Itachi relax. You're fine.
Don't do something rash because your pride's a little
"Get out of my way, Kakashi."
Itachi Uchiha! He could have you hanging from the nearest tree.
Please just go. I'm fine but I won't be if you get arrested."
"I don't care who he is. He had no right!"
"Zabuza, maybe she's right. Please, let's get out of here."
It was a misunderstanding. Please just let it go."
Naruto tried to follow the various conversations before glancing across the room to Tenzou who shrugged his shoulders looking bewildered.
"What's going on?" The entire room went silent and turned to look at the blonde whose anxiety was clear on his face. Kakashi felt Itachi relax in his grip and he watched the black eyes travel over the pair of teens cuddled up on the small bed. A sinister smile tugged at the corners of Itachi's mouth making all the other people standing in the room shiver.
"Nothing, Naruto. Just a disagreement. Now can I take my brother home?"
"Uh…I guess. Someone should probably go with to make sure the stitches don't reopen." The wicked smile widened.
"Would you come back to the lodge with us, Naruto?"
"NO! Absolutely not! I'll go." Rei moved protectively in front of her little brother but Zabuza was already moving between Rei and Itachi.
"Not a chance. You ain't going anywhere near him if I have anythin' to say 'bout it." Haku stepped forward and the noble's black eyes widened in delight before narrowing in lust.
"I could go-."
"NO!" both Rei and Zabuza chorused at once.
"Let Rei go. I'll look after her." Zabuza turned to Kakashi, his rage barely contained.
"I can see that. What the fuck is wrong with you? You've been seein' her a week and you're already whorin' her out to your lord?" The two men were suddenly chest to chest, staring each other down. Rei groaned and moved between them.
"Alright children, just relax. I'll go." Zabuza growled but before anyone could say anything Naruto interjected.
"No, I'll go. I'm supposed to train with Kiba tomorrow anyway." The group turned to look at Naruto and was surprised to find him blushing and looking at Itachi who was sitting on the bed and gently pushing strands of black hair off of Sasuke's face. Rei stuttered as Itachi looked hungrily at her little brother.
"N-No. I don't think that's a good idea. You've got…things…that need to be done…here…at home." Naruto glanced up at her rather weak excuse and smirked.
"What? Hoping to get some more alone time with your naughty knight?" Rei blushed furiously and Zabuza growled as Kakashi chuckled.
"No…I just…" She looked at Naruto unable to come up with a decent excuse. "Fine. Come home first thing in the morning before you start training though. Naruto nodded.
"Okay I will. Lord Itachi, would you go get the horses ready while Rei and I get him ready?" Itachi nodded, looking very pleased with how this little argument had turned out. He slipped past Rei and Kakashi, giving Haku an appreciative look as he turned his body to slide past him in the door way. Zabuza ground his teeth audibly and pulled Haku to his chest protectively, making the smaller male blush and smile before Zabuza dragged them back upstairs.
Naruto proceeded to gather bandages while Rei and Kakashi moved to the front room. Kakashi shifted uncomfortably before leaning against the counter and sighing.
"I'm sorry. I should have…"
"It's okay. Just because I want to act suicidal doesn't mean you have to jump off the cliff with me. I understand. Loyalty and honor and all that noise." Kakashi smiled and pulled down his mask so he could plant kisses over the bridge of her nose.
"You're amazing. Still, I'm sorry. I though my blood was boiling when he touched you." He tipped her chin up and gently pressed his lips to hers. "Please don't ever scare me like that again," he murmured into her lips. She smiled and wrapped her arms around his neck, deepening their kiss, their mouths parting and tongues meeting sensually. Kakashi moaned and lifted Rei onto the counter, devouring her mouth. Moaning, she carded her hands into his hair and wrenched his head forward, crushing their lips together. A loud throat clearing from the shop's front door made them both glance to where Itachi was standing with his arms crossed.
'Damn, all that and she's not even mad at him. I'll have to try harder.' Itachi thought as he watched Kakashi resume the kiss completely ignoring him…not that he could blame the man. He cleared his throat again and smirked as Kakashi sighed and dropped his head to Rei's slim shoulder.
"I gotta go. I'll see you tomorrow." She smiled and nodded, her bedroom eyes making Kakashi groaned as he pushed away from her. She had to act frisky the one time he couldn't stick around. He walked around the counter and groaned again when she lay back, her long neck exposed as her head hung off the edge of the counter. She grabbed his legs and smirked impishly at him before nuzzling the inside of his thigh. He ran a finger along her jugular and down to the top of her dress before sighing deeply.
"You are putting wicked, wicked ideas in an old pervert's head." She smirked up at him, cheeks flushed from among other things her inverted position.
"Look after my brother tonight and I'll act them out for you." Kakashi pulled down his mask to kiss her when Itachi came back into the room with Sasuke in his arms followed closely by Naruto. Rei shot a glare at the Uchiha before sitting up and moving around to Naruto.
"Okay, Kit. I'll see you tomorrow morning." He smiled and gave her a one armed hug before dropping the supplies he had in his arms into a bag and moving off after Itachi. Kakashi stroked Rei's hair comfortingly.
"Don't worry. I'll make sure Itachi stays in line. I promise." Rei nodded before moving towards the stairs and glancing out the windows and watching Kakashi pull Sasuke up in front of him and Naruto hopped on behind the elder Uchiha and wrapped his arms around the muscular frame.