Well... I was going to write this whole chapter all in one go and then post it all here but when I reached page 32 in Word and still had no end in sight I decided to break it into 2 chapters. If anyone here has been looking at my live journal site or twitter they've probably seen me ramble on about why I didn't want to creak it up but since I'm well passed the "major" cliffhanger point in this chapter I don't think it's going to be that huge of a deal if I post this part now.
A fair warning though! I'll have to start working on my thesis in a few days and when I do I will have very little time to write this story so there might be a long wait for the next chapter. Along with that I also have to find a job in January and take care of a lot of stuff and hopefully start working so after that I will have even less time to work on this story if I'll even have any time at all.
I would like to stress! that if at any time you feel like I haven't updated in a long time that you go to my live journal (the link is on my profile) and see what's going on. Posts connected to specific stories are tagged with the name of the story so they should be relatively easy to find. I post news about my stories there along with random things from my day today life. So instead of reviewing on here why the hell it's taking me so long to update on here you might want to check it out and see for yourself just why I'm not doing it. Also I might just be nice and post sneak previews from chapters or other stuff there connected to my stories.
Sasuke calmly turned off the alarm clock when it started ringing. He wasn't a morning person by any means but once he was awake he was awake so there was no point staying in bed any longer, plus his pride just didn't allow him to do something as undignified as snoozing in bed longer than necessary or stumbling around like a zombie once out of bed.
Therefore he just slid stoically out from under his satin sheets and walked naked as the day he was born into his adjoining bathroom and took a long hot shower. It was one of the very rare indulgences he allowed himself since, as far as he knew, his father hadn't stooped so low as to spy on him in his room... yet.
After his shower he got dressed in form fitting black jeans and a blue T-shirt with another black long sleeved one underneath before he donned a dark blue cotton shirt over the others. His father wouldn't let him out of the house in anything that wouldn't look suitable for a board meeting and not wanting to disappoint his dear old dad too much Sasuke acted like the perfect son in front of his father but as soon as he was out of the gates of hell, a.k.a. The front door, and into his car he would look as presentable and distinguished as he could before he'd rip the stupid shirt off. If he wasn't still wearing them now Sasuke would have figured his brother started wearing gothic clothes just to piss Fugaku off, although knowing his brother he might just still be wearing them to rub salt in the wounds so to speak. He really wished he had the same freedom his brother had gotten but it was just the price he had to pay in order to reach his goals, and his brother hadn't exactly escaped the separation unscathed.
Sasuke grabbed his backpack on his way out into the hall where he threaded the maze like hallways towards the front of the house. Even though the place was always kept bright and clean it still reminded him of a mausoleum, it was too perfect. He was pretty sure they'd even had the exact same flower arrangements in the hall room table vases when he was little. He didn't know how often a week they were changed, all he knew was that they weren't fake and that they were always fresh. It was like this with many other things in the house as well, the house was kept obsessively clean even though you never saw anyone cleaning it; his mother would probably have a fit if she needed to be in the same room as the lower class. His mother wasn't nearly as bad as his father though since she did actually have feelings, the problem was just that she seemed to have overly much of them towards his father and would therefore turn a complete blind eye to almost anything he did. Sasuke still felt like laughing out loud whenever he remembered his mother telling him his father loved him. His father had barely tolerated his existence until he had to after his brother left.
"An heir and a spare." Sasuke mused to himself, remembering the line from some book they'd once had to read for English class. That's all he was really if he thought about it, just a spare tool his father had jumped on after he broke the first one.
And to think he'd actually envied the attention his older brother used to get from their father.
When he got closer to his father's study he could hear raised voices, well one shouting and the other one barely audible since his father was incapable of showing enough emotion to actually raise his voice an octave.
"… We didn't buy that cabin so you could just lend it to everyone you do business with!" His mother's voice rang out.
"No, as I recall we bought that cabin for tax reasons." His father's voice sounded disinterested at best. He was probably reading over some papers and only half listening to his mother like usual. The only time Fugaku showed any interest in other people was when he was doing business with them and he only showed his family interest or any hint of affection if it benefitted him in some way. For example, the only time Sasuke had ever heard his father say he loved his mother was when he was trying to impress an old business lady he was hoping to make a deal with.
"We might as well use it for something useful." His father continued.
"You know very well that I have a delicate complexion and the country just doesn't agree with me."
Sasuke didn't even try to suppress the eye-roll over that statement. His mother had absolutely no problem going to the country for spa treatments or to visit one of her friends' country home, the only trouble with the cabin they'd bought was that it was situated on farm land instead of one of those posh areas where rich people built cabins or houses in order to get away from it all, which actually just meant that all they did was move their office slightly out of town while their spouses held tea parties or some shit. His parents actually had a place like that as well so Sasuke didn't understand why on earth his mother felt the need to complain, but then again she loved doing it so it wasn't all that surprising.
Deciding he didn't want to get stuck in the hallway for an hour or so Sasuke stepped into the study before his mother could get on a roll.
"I just don't like the look of hi…" His mother turned around when she heard him come in. "Oh, Sasuke dear."
"Mother." He said politely as he air-kissed her cheeks. "Sir." He nodded respectfully towards his dad; it was an act he'd nearly perfected. "I'll be going now." He said before he headed back to the hall. There really was no point to this interaction but his parents were adamant that he bid them goodbye when he left for school.
His father called after him to remind him of a board meeting he had to attend to with him later that day.
When he was finally in his car and out of the house gates Sasuke ripped off his shirt and breathed a sigh of relief while he daydreamed about all the ways he could, and would, thwart his father in the most spectacular way possible… preferably with as much damage to his ego and honor as Sasuke could manage. He didn't care if undressing under the wheel caused danger to himself or others, if he couldn't distance himself from anything that was connected to his father when he wasn't in his presence he'd end up like one of those emo shitheads who shot down their school.
"YAHHHHHHhhhh…." Naruto woke up flailing and screaming until he realized that the death grip he was in was actually Iruka shaking him awake.
"Did you just have a nightmare?" His father asked with concern.
"Nndon't think so." Naruto mumbled into his hands as he rubbed his face. He didn't know if he'd dreamt or not, he felt like he had heard voices shouting but it was like seeing something at the corner off your eye, when he tried to examine it, it disappeared.
"Well you're about to." Genma said from the door. He'd come pounding up the stairs when he heard the yell but everything looked ok now so he reverted back from 'panicking dad' to his normal self.
"Hnnn?" Which, from Naruto in the morning was equivalent to Pardon my good sir, I couldn't quite hear you so would you terribly mind repeating that for me?
"Your alarm clock's been ringing for about 15 minutes and Kiba's probably been driving the neighbors nuts with his honking by now." Genma informed him with the air of someone who thoroughly enjoys it when other people are screwed. Iruka was by then busy ripping the sheets off of Naruto while still watching his face for any hint of him lying about not having a nightmare.
"Shiiiiiiiiiiit." Naruto wailed as he jumped out of bed.
"Naruto! Language." Iruka grumbled absentmindedly as he now started making the boy's bed.
"But I'm gonna be laaaaate." Genma jumped to the side as his son barreled passed him and down the hall towards the bathroom.
Genma looked at Iruka and tried very hard not to burst out laughing, he knew Iruka could clearly see it in his twinkling eyes but he mainly didn't want Naruto to hear him because he didn't exactly want to be punched or worse in Naruto's panic. Unlike Naruto and Iruka he'd never been much into martial arts, not that he didn't know anything about violence but his knowledge of street fights usually didn't hold a candle to people with black belts.
Iruka gave him a fond yet admonishing look. "Oh behave you!" He said as he put the finishing touches on Naruto's bed and then sat down on it; if his leg hadn't been broken he'd have started picking up the dirty clothes from the floor too.
Soon the toilet flushed and Naruto's gargled voice called back as he tried brushing his teeth and talking at the same time. "Mm nnt eheh rehhe foh schoow."
Genma raised one eyebrow at Iruka before he called back. "And in English that would be what?"
Naruto came barreling back into the room in his boxers and started rummaging through the scattered clothing. "I'm not even ready for school!"
This time Genma did chuckle a little until he saw the warning look Iruka was shooting him over Naruto's head. "Not that sweater Naruto, it hasn't been washed for about a week!" The younger man said before he hobbled over to the closet.
Genma sighed before he grabbed Naruto's bag and, looking at the timetable hung above his desk, started hunting down the things his scatterbrain of a son needed for the day. But before that he sent Iruka a dirty look before glancing meaningfully down at his leg. Even though the break hadn't been as bad as they first thought his leg was still in a cast and he had been advised to use the crutches he'd been given before but Iruka, who could be even more active than Naruto, had started forgoing his crutches and just limping around instead. Genma didn't like it because he thought it would take longer for him to heal that way.
Once Naruto was finally dressed, in clothes that Iruka had helped him find, he and Genma jogged down the stairs and while Naruto hurriedly struggled into a coat and tried to tie his shoelaces at the same time, which was pretty much impossible in Genma's opinion but who was he to try to tell that to someone like Naruto, his dad grabbed the lunch Iruka had made earlier and stuffed it in his backpack, which he had to call Naruto back for because the panicking boy had run out the door without it.
"Have a good one!" He called after Naruto and waved to his friends before they drove off. Kiba who'd come to their house earlier had decided to drive and get the other two boys while Naruto was getting up.
Genma closed the door, shaking his head in good humor. Turning away from it he came face to face with Iruka who'd come down the stairs during all the commotion. He reached out and pulled the shorter man into a hug. "I don't know what he would do without us." He mumbled into his boyfriend's hair.
Iruka hugged him back and in a low voice said. "I'm not sure what we would ever do without him."
"Hey Blondie, what's the deal? You're even later than Shikamaru now." Kiba said as he indicated the boy dozing off in the back. "Did my kick cause that much damage?"
Naruto glared at Kiba for a second before he turned his eyes back to the road and the ever changing scenery. "You wish. I had a rough weekend that's all." He mumbled with finality. Indicating that he did not want to talk about what had happened at the training camp.
Kiba took the hint; Naruto had probably had a very long talk with Iruka anyway so there was no need for Kiba to keep pestering him about the matter. If Naruto didn't want to talk to him about it then Kiba wasn't going to push.
He quickly searched for something to lighten the mood. Not finding anything worthwhile to talk about and knowing that his friend was probably not in the mood to listen to him ramble about the latest anime show he was watching he eventually just reverted back to what he was best at, teasing Naruto.
"Oh? So did you and Kakashi have a little sparring match on his bed after he kidnapped you?"
Kiba stopped chuckling and looked over at his friend when the comment was not met by the usual outburst. When he noticed his friends beat red face and the way he tried to subtly squirm in his seat he nearly swerved off the road.
"WHAT? Oh my GOD! He DID!" He cried as he tried to right the car and stare at his best friend at the same time.
Naruto sunk even lower in his seat when Chouji's face came into view over the car seats. "Who did what now?" He asked as he looked between Kiba, who was still struggling to drive while getting over the shock, and Naruto, who now had his face in his hands and looked like he'd really rather drive into a tree than to have this conversation.
"Watch the road." Chouji said helpfully before he repeated his previous question.
"He did? He really did?" Kiba kept repeating like someone had just told him Sasuke had arrived at school wearing a prom dress.
"YES! Ok. It happened!" Naruto finally cried. "And for your information it was the sofa actually!"
Chouji was even more confused now. So confused in fact that he completely forgot the bag of chips he held in his hands. He glanced back to the rear of the car. "Do you know what they're talking about?" He asked Shikamaru, who'd woken up with a face full of window when the car swerved.
"How the hell should I know?" He moaned as he rubbed his face. "God why does everyone have to be so troublesome in the morning?"
"Oh my god!" Kiba said for probably the tenth time in a horrifyingly good imitation of Gai. "I can't believe my little baby is finally a man! Let me hug you…"
"Watch the road!" Naruto and Chouji both cried when Kiba let go of the wheel.
Shikamaru was too busy preventing himself from getting reacquainted with the window to say anything at that moment but as soon as he'd regained his balance he growled. "What the hell is going on up there?"
Naruto was smart enough to grab the wheel as Kiba turned around in his seat and hollered into the back of the car. "Naruto lost his innocence to the Pervert sensei!"
Needless to say Naruto was not in a great mood when he arrived at school. After Kiba's declaration he'd been the subject of a lot of teasing and cat calls from his friends for the rest of the trip. He knew they all meant well and were happy for him but it had still been embarrassing as hell. He could joke and talk about sex like any other guy but it was a bit different to talk about sex in general than to talk about your own personal experience.
It also hadn't helped that he had been, and still was, nervous as shit about how to behave around Kakashi at club later today. He definitely wasn't going to run into his arms and kiss him or anything, and he really hoped Kakashi wasn't planning on doing anything like that either, but was he expected to pretend like nothing happened? And if so could he do it? What if Kakashi had changed his mind? People usually freaked or didn't know how to act around him after witnessing some of his minor episodes and his episode this weekend hadn't exactly been minor. Maybe Kakashi had decided that he wasn't worth the trouble. Sure the man had known him when he was a child and had apparently regretted not being a part of his life after that but even though his memory was screwed up he knew enough to say that there was a vast difference in the person he was now than the person he'd been as a kid. What if Kakashi realized how fucked up he'd become and decided he wasn't worth the troub…
"Man, is he still following you around? How troublesome." Shikamaru's low voice startled him out of his dark thoughts.
"Huh?" Naruto glanced up in the direction his friend was looking and noticed Sasuke standing in the hallway up ahead. The raven haired boy was leaning casually against the worn down gray-blue lockers like he was waiting for someone. Everyone else would probably think the stoic boy was waiting for his entourage but Shikamaru had obviously made the correct assumption because, although he looked indifferent like always, Sasuke was watching them like a hawk.
"Oh for fucks sake." Naruto breathed out with a sigh. "I've had just about enough of this."
Shikamaru raised an eyebrow at him but held back on his customary phrase, although Naruto could pretty much hear the "troublesome" broadcasting loud and clear from his look.
Naruto ignored the silent warning. "I'll see you in class." He said as he made his way over to his weird stalker.
"Yeah, yeah." Shikamaru walked off with a half wave over his shoulder.
When he reached him Sasuke just kept looking at him until Naruto finally gave up and with an exasperated grunt he threw his hands up in the air before glaring at his long time rival.
"What the hell do you want?"
"We need to talk." Sasuke said as he glanced at some students milling around on their way to class. It was still a few minutes before rush hour would hit the hallways but he'd rather not have this conversation in the hallway even though he'd started this whole friendship ruse partly to discourage people from approaching him.
It really was a great idea, Naruto wouldn't be bothered by anyone trying to get on Sasuke's good side by picking on the blond and Naruto's presence near him was like having an invisible shield designed specifically to keep out unwanted fan-girls or annoying social climbers. Too bad the other boy didn't seem to think it was such a grand idea as Naruto had been fighting him from the start which was kind of putting a damper on the 'best buds' image Sasuke was trying to portray. Although it didn't really matter, they'd been proclaimed enemies since grade school and the rivalry had become well known mere weeks after they'd started school here and yet no one seemed to think it odd that they were suddenly hanging out.
Idiots, the lot of them! Sasuke thought. Unlike what most people believed he'd gotten sick of his mindless followers years ago, it was just one of the things he had to endure because of his father.
"Talk?" Naruto put on a shocked expression. "You mean you can actually string together enough words to have a whole conversation?"
Sasuke nearly smiled at the sarcasm, just nearly. "Funny aren't you." He said before he grabbed Naruto's bicep, leading him out into the stairwell and then down into the unpopulated basement floor. It wouldn't be used until later in the day for some of the clubs.
"Right, now you're just crossing the line over to psycho." Naruto mumbled loud enough for Sasuke to hear.
"Oh so that's the big conversation is it?" Naruto started pacing. "You brought me all the way down here for that small gem of wisdom."
"Jeez are you always this strung up, what the hell crawled up your ass." Sasuke commented as he blew a lock of hair out of his face. He really did need a haircut he thought as he crossed his arms and leaned up against the wall.
"You did! You're like a skin rash, you just show up one day and the more you try to relieve the stupid itch the more it irritates you."
God he did so not need this right now, Naruto thought, not after the weekend he'd had. He couldn't do much about his nightmarish memories or figure out where his relationship with Kakashi would lead but he could at least try to do something about this strange behavior of his childhood rival.
"Fine, I get it! Look I know you don't like me…"
"Understatement of the century." Naruto interrupted as he walked by for the fifth time.
Sasuke was getting annoyed at watching Naruto pace but no matter how hard he tried to focus on something else his eyes always wandered back to the pacing boy.
"AND." Sasuke continued like the other boy hadn't said anything. "I know you're clearly not grateful for the favor I'm doing you but…"
"Favor! There you go again. You think you're doing me a favor?" Naruto snapped. "Since when did I need an annoying stalker breathing down my neck? Glaring at my friends? Criticizing almost everything I do?"
Shit, this wasn't turning out right. What on earth was this guy's problem anyway? Sasuke knew Naruto was probably having some personal problems and everyone knew his history but even though they'd never been anything close to friends Sasuke didn't think he'd ever done anything to warrant this level of hostility. In all of their skirmishes up until now, as loath as he was to admit it, Naruto had usually had the upper hand or last word with one of his legendary pranks and Sasuke had had nothing to do with the bogus accusations Sakura and Ino had thrown at the boy. In fact he'd started this whole charade so the girls wouldn't do anything more to the boy under his name.
"Alright, maybe that didn't come out right." Sasuke ground out. Man he nearly cringed at the thought of having to be nice to the guy; he wasn't nice to anyone voluntarily except his brother on the odd moments when his brother wasn't being a complete bastard.
"Yeah right, like anything you say ever comes out the wrong way."
Sasuke pinched the bridge of his nose and shook his head; he was developing a headache very quickly.
"Look, just leave me the fuck alone alright?" Naruto yelled. "You've accomplished what you set out to do, the screaming banshee and her blondie friend are no longer bothering you so could you please just fuck off already!"
"Alright, alright!" Sasuke conceded. Shit if it bothered the guy that much he'd back off for a while, no need to give himself stress headaches over the dobe if he was going to be this unreasonable. "I just need to tell you… Hey! I actually do need to tell you something!" Sasuke grabbed Naruto's arm when the other boy started walking away.
He didn't see the fist coming until it connected with his face and he couldn't exactly hear what Naruto yelled at him before storming off because of the ringing in his ears.
Forget about the stress headache he'd been developing, Naruto sure could pack a mean punch. Sasuke just hoped he wouldn't get a bruise or a black eye; it would be hell trying to explain that to his father, especially with that board meeting he had to go to today.
Maybe he should just tell that weirdo teacher that was renting at his brother's place about Orochimaru. It wasn't like Naruto was in any immediate danger or something and if this was the thanks people got for trying to help the guy he'd just as well dump the problem in someone else's lap. If he didn't see the teacher around today he'd just ask Itachi to pass along the message and then the teacher… what had his name been… Hatake or something… could let Naruto know. It didn't hurt to let the dobe know some psycho had a weird interest in him, although he'd be damned if he went further out of his way after this try.
"What are we going to do?"
Genma looked at his partner of many years before focusing back on traffic. Iruka had been quiet since he'd picked him up from the school, staring out the passenger window curled up in his seat like he was prone to do when he was stressed or feeling helpless. Genma sighed and grabbed his hand, squeezing it tightly before interlocking their fingers and resting it on his thigh.
"I don't know love." He said shaking his head. He knew exactly what Iruka was feeling, he was feeling pretty helpless himself.
Iruka squeezed his hand back. "Psychiatrists, doctors, medicine… We can't put him through all that again Gen. You know what it did to him last time."
Genma banged his hand on the wheel. Oh he knew what it had done alright. After they had taken Naruto in they had gotten him all the professional help they could think of thinking it would help, regretfully it had taken them a few years to realize that it really wasn't helping at all and that most of the progress Naruto showed was the result of the love and care Iruka and Genma held for him. He could still remember Naruto stumbling around half out of it when the doctors were trying to figure out his medicine dosage. The nightmares he had after every invasive session from therapists who claimed unlocking his memories was the best way towards recovery. Genma had a feeling most of them just wanted to take credit for being the ones to solve that side of the murder of the decade.
They couldn't do that to him again… and Genma wouldn't put Iruka through that again either. Neither one of them had ever regretted taking Naruto in no matter how hard things had gotten but each set back had taken something out of Iruka. There was absolutely nothing worse than watching your loved ones fighting some inner war you couldn't help them with.
"We won't." Genma said with conviction. "We promised ourselves we wouldn't let those quacks mess with him again and we won't."
"What else can we do?" Iruka said still staring at the scenery flying by. He sounded defeated.
"We ground Naruto, get a huge bucked of ice-cream, some family friendly movies and cuddle like hamsters until all this blows over."
"I'm being serious you ass." Iruka slapped his shoulder lightly and rolled his eyes.
"So am I!" Genma shot back. "We just need to smother him in love and security, it worked well last time."
"Yah! Well I have a feeling we'll need to make more room on the couch for Kakashi as well." Iruka said with a chuckle.
"Fuck, don't remind me. I need to have a serious discussion with the guy."
"Yeah who'd have thought that the man had such a big history with Naruto?" Iruka wondered out loud.
"History? I don't care about the history! If that guy lays one perverted finger on my son…" Genma grinned and shook his head while turning into their street.
"Oh be nice." Iruka admonished. "We were their age when we started going out."
"That's… not the same." Genma tried arguing while grasping at straws. "You weren't…"
"What? Your son?" Iruka smirked.
Was it just him or did he not have this conversation with Naruto only a few weeks ago. "You were never that young." Genma finished lamely as he parked the car.
He grabbed his house keys out of the console, ignoring his cellphone for the moment since he'd be leaving for the youth centre again as soon as he got Iruka inside and settled. He didn't care if the younger man complained about it, the doctor had told him to take it easy and Genma knew Iruka would never take things easy unless you chained him to the bed. Now there's an idea. He thought as he ran up the steps on the front porch. He'd just put the keys in the lock when Iruka yelled at him from the car.
"Are you going to help me with this stuff or what?"
He paid it no mind when the front door clicked open slightly, they'd be going inside in a second. Iruka had sounded irritated so Genma hightailed it back to his boyfriend before he'd get on his bad side. The younger man had spent all morning doing teacher-parent interviews so he was irritated enough already and that didn't even bring into account the situation with Naruto. Plus Iruka had insisted on bringing home a mountain of papers to grade so he wouldn't go stir crazy in the house all by himself. Although Genma could never understand how grading papers from a bunch of barely literate 8 year olds could prevent anyone from going crazy, he loved working with kids but he'd scratch his own eyes out before he read any of the junk they called homework.
"Sorry." He said once he reached Iruka and made a grab for the pile of papers his boyfriend handed him, but before he could get a good hold of them a huge gust of wind swept over them blowing the papers out of Iruka's hands.
"Son of a!" Iruka grumbled.
As they both bent down to catch the papers Genma heard the loud creak of the front door, the wind must have blown it open. It was the only warning they got before everything descended into chaos. The only thing Genma felt following the loud booming noise was intense heat and the feeling of flying before he hit something hard and the world faded to black.
Tenzou sighed and took another sip of his coffee as he slowly made the turn down the quiet suburban street a few feet after the small van. Kakashi sure owed him a huge favor for this job, his idea of an off day wasn't exactly spying on the family of Kakashi's new… well boy-toy came to mind but from the way his old captain talked about him he'd never utter those words out loud to anybody for fear of some serious ass kicking. He'd been tailing the pair in the van most of the morning and keeping up surveillance outside of the youth centre one of them worked at. He didn't really see the point but Kakashi had called him late last night asking him for this favor, something about Orochimaru having an interest in the pair's son, and even without that information Tenzou probably would have done it for him anyway. Kakashi's gut feelings had never been wrong before so clearly something must have pushed him to ask for the surveillance.
Of course he knew all about Naruto's history, just like everyone else who hadn't been living under a rock for the last ten or so years, but he couldn't imagine who'd want to hurt his parents. From what he'd seen they were pretty great men who did a lot of good work for the community they lived in.
But then again if Orochimaru was involved no one was safe.
Tenzou took another sip of his coffee as he slowly drove passed the house. He didn't want to be too obvious by parking on the street, in a neighborhood like this people were pretty tightly knit and he didn't want anyone to notice him. He'd drive to the end of the street and turn back before deciding what to do. If either of them left again he'd follow them and if not he'd look into parking on another street to stake out the house.
He'd just made it passed the house when the blast hit and his car swerved onto the sidewalk and into a light post. Once he'd gotten his bearings he snatched the rearview mirror into place, not really believing what he saw he ignored the pounding in his head and twisted in his seat. He blinked a few times but the burning mass of what was left of the house along with its scattered remains did not magically assemble into the quiet suburban home it had been only minutes ago. He reached for his cellphone blindly and pressed the speed dial for his old captain. The call didn't go through.
He turned to his door but it was smashed up against the light post so he unbuckled his seatbelt and climbed over to the passenger side and got out of the car. Once on the street he tried Kakashi again and this time the man answered.
"Tenzou, what's going on?"
Tenzou barely registered Kakashi's voice as he slowly made his way over to the rubble in a daze. How the hell did you explain this to your boss?
"Tenzou! What the hell is going on man?"
Finally he snapped out of it and his training took over. "Kakashi, get Naruto now! Someone just blew up his house!"
"His house! Someone just blew up his house sempai! Get the kid now."
"What about his parents?" Kakashi snapped and Tenzou could hear a commotion in the background. "Where are Iruka and Genma?"
"I… I don't know man, I don't see them and it doesn't look good." Tenzou breathed out and quickened his pace, he didn't get anything else out before the beeping indicated that his captain had hung up.
He wasn't surprised; they both had their individual assignments now. Kakashi had to hunt down Naruto and Tenzou had to find the kid's parents… or… what was left of them. He wasn't a very pessimistic person but he'd seen one of them standing by the front door not long before the blast and Tenzou knew there was no way a person standing that close to a blast of that size would just walk away with a few injuries.
Kakashi barely missed a beat, he didn't even pause to make a comment to his class who by now were staring at him in wonder, he grabbed his backpack and ran out the door and he didn't stop running once out in the hallway.
He tried to focus solely on getting to Naruto but he couldn't stop thinking about what Tenzou had just told him. It doesn't look good kept ringing in his ears as he bounded down the hallway, pushing through crowds and people that were unfortunate enough to get in his way. Doesn't look good could mean anything but Kakashi had been in the force long enough to know that when another task member said that something didn't look good it usually meant that they were in deep shit or that… there were casualties involved.
How on earth was he supposed to explain to Naruto that one or both of his fathers could be dead?
Kakashi came to a stop at an intersection once he reached the art department. Where the hell did Naruto take his classes on Monday mornings again? Think, think, think, think. Kakashi ran the mantra through his head over and over again as he practically bounced on his feet.
"Think, god damn it!" He snapped and punched a locker, making a few students standing nearby flinch and then scatter away.
Kakashi whirled around at the curious voice and came face to face with Sai. Before the kid could say anything else Kakashi grabbed him and demanded. "Where's Naruto?"
"Huh?" Sai looked at him like he'd just lost his mind but Kakashi didn't have time to worry about his school reputation.
"Where is Naruto's class?" He emphasized his words with a harsh shake.
"He's… down that way in design but the class should be letting out soon." Sai said quickly as he pointed down the right hallway.
Kakashi let the kid go and ran down the way he'd indicated, he knew where the design classroom was.
Once there he burst into the big room nearly slamming the door into Kotetsu and causing Izumo to throw a stack of papers into the air in fright. The rest of the class had pretty comical reactions as well and on a normal day Kakashi probably would have laughed but he was far from being amused right now, especially since he couldn't spot Naruto anywhere in the classroom.
"Where's Naruto?" He asked as he grabbed Kotetsu by the upper arm.
"Wow, you heard? News sure travel fast." Kotetsu winced. He'd probably have some bruises on his arm tomorrow.
"Have you heard anything more?" Izumo came up to them and joined in.
"What?" Kakashi glared at the two of them. "Heard what? Where the hell is Naruto?"
"About the accident. A cop came in about 30 minutes ago or so to pick up Naruto, Genma and Iruka were in a car accident." Kotetsu told him and then Izumo added. "He didn't say much more about it, did you hear anything? Are Iruka and Genma alright?"
Kakashi released Kotetsu and ran his hands through his hair in desperation. Car accident… picked up about a half an hour ago. This did not add up, Tenzou had called him barely five minutes ago with the news of the explosion. Naruto's dads had been at their home no more than ten minutes ago so how could… He didn't want to think it but Tenzou's words came echoing through his head one more time. This didn't look good.
"What did he look like?"
"Who? Naruto? He looked kind of upset about it…" Izumo started but shut up quickly when he saw the look on Kakashi's face.
"The cop! What did the cop look like!"
"Uh well…" "Eh…" Kotetsu and Izumo tried.
"Slim, about a few inches shorter than you, long silver hair and glasses, probably in his late 20's or so." Shikamaru droned from his seat at the computers.
Kakashi looked at him and their eyes met. The boy's voice might have sounded bored but he was watching him with a harsh calculating look in his eyes. Smart kid. Kakashi thought. Probably too smart for his own good. He shook his head slightly to halt any further inquiry from the boy, he'd be sending someone to pick up the kid later to question him and get a sketch done, although considering the department the kid was in he could probably do the sketch himself. He had a pretty good idea who'd shown up and taken Naruto based on the description and if he was correct it didn't bode well at all.
He needed to get to headquarters right now.
Kakashi ignored Izumo's and Kotetsu's questions as he stormed out of the room. He snatched his phone back out of his pocket when it rang and glanced at the caller ID before hitting the answer button and barking over the line. "Tenzou what's the situation?"
"I'm… afraid it's not good Sempai." Tenzou's deep voice sounded strained and Kakashi knew what was coming before it was said.
"There's no sign of them anywhere outside… they… must have been already inside the house when the blast went off."
"Shit!" Kakashi swore loudly as he burst out of the side doors leading to the parking lot where his bike was parked. He'd been hoping against hope that at least one or both of them had for some miraculous reason been far enough away from the blast to escape it. "Fuuuuuck!" he kicked the side wall before he jumped down the steps and ran to his bike. "Get the hell out of there before the authorities get there and meet me at HQ."
"Way ahead of you Sempai. My ride got damaged so I arranged a pickup a few streets down, I should be there within the half an hour. How's the kid?"
Kakashi sighed heavily and brought the phone down from his ear as he stared blankly at his bike. He didn't want to admit it, couldn't even wrap his mind around it yet. Finally he brought the phone back to his ear and confirmed to himself and to Tenzou what they both had been afraid of since this all started. "They took him."
He'd failed again.
Naruto woke up with a pounding headache on something soft that smelled faintly of vomit… and seemed to be moving. His hands were numb but he managed to bring them up to clutch his head and got something metal brushing against his face.
What had he been doing?
He thought back and then it clicked. The police! A police man had come to the school and told him his dads had been in a car accident. They'd walked out of the school towards the patrol car, the cop being pretty mute or vague in response to all of his questions. He remembered feeling more and more nervous about his dads with each passing minute because of the evasive behavior, it must have been pretty bad if the cop wasn't saying anything. The last thing he remembered was the cop pushing him into the back of the car and then nothing.
His stomach clenched and a chill ran down his spine, something wasn't right. He opened his eyes and stared at the cuffs on his arms. Something definitely wasn't right.
"He's waking up."
Naruto's eyes flicked up and caught a glimpse of a silver haired man sitting in the passenger seat through the metal grid separating the front of the car from the back. It was the cop who'd picked him up.
"Told you we should have used a bigger dose." The man said, identifying himself as the owner of the previous voice.
"I know my doses." The other cop said, although Naruto was pretty sure by now that these guys weren't cops. He couldn't see the new guy very well because he was lying with his head behind his seat and the only thing he could make out of his head was a police cap. "The boss wanted him brought in intact and preferably conscious, a bigger dose would have knocked him out for a day… or killed him." Another chill ran down Naruto's spine at the amusement in the guy's voice over his possible death.
Since they already knew he was awake Naruto sat up and looked around. They were on a freeway heading south based on the position of the city. He twisted the cuffs on his arms but they were locked tight, too tight as they were digging into his wrists. No way was he going to demand where they were going, those fuckers probably wouldn't tell him anything and he really didn't want to turn into one of those annoying characters in the movies who asked annoying questions of their captors which never answered any of… them… shit people in those shows usually ended up dead.
He fumbled numbly with his pockets. Figures… they'd taken his phone and everything else he'd been carrying. The bastards had even taken his watch.
Screw not panicking, he was pretty sure he had a very good reason to panic just about now. He banged on the window trying to catch someone's attention but when he noticed the looks on people's faces he realized just how bad the situation was. He was in the back of a police car, handcuffed, with two guys who looked like cops in the front. He probably looked like a deranged criminal.
All he could do now was wait and see what would become of him. He thought about how worried his dads would be when they found out he was missing, clearly there hadn't been an accident, he thought about Kakashi as well and what he would do. The guy was an old SWAT member, maybe he would be able to do something, find him somehow. He'd like to think he was strong enough to escape on his own but he was realistic enough to realize it probably wouldn't work. There were two captors with him now and judging from their talk they were on their way to a place with more people and he'd apparently been drugged once already.
Naruto stared at the city getting further and further away while he tried to control his breathing. He kept struggling with the handcuffs not even noticing the wounds he was scratching into his wrists.
Genma blinked his eyes just in time to see a flying burning plank coming straight for him, he rolled quickly to the right ignoring the stabbing pain that burned down his back and arm from his left shoulder. He heard the thump behind him from the plank hitting the ground at the same moment he spotted Iruka lying a few feet from him. He crawled over to his boyfriend as fast as he could mindless to the debris falling down around them. Iruka wasn't moving.
"Iruka!" Genma nearly screamed when he reached him. "Iruka! Iruka!" he kept repeating as he ran his hands all over him looking for injuries. There was blood on his face from some cuts on his head and his eyes were staring straight up looking at nothing.
"Iruka." Genma could feel his heart clenching and there didn't seem to be enough air around him to breath.
Finally Iruka's eyes slid over to his and he croaked out. "What the hell happened?" Before he had a coughing fit.
"Shit, Iruka are you alright? Talk to me baby. Tell me you're alright."
"What happened?" Iruka raised his head and stared at what was left of their house over their neighbor's overgrown hedge. "Oh my god Genma, what the hell happened?"
"Shh. Come on, can you move?" Genma said as he grabbed a hold of the front of Iruka's jacked and dragged him along the hedge to the back of the house. "We need to get out of here."
"What? Genma!" Iruka dazedly grabbed Genma's hands while he tried to gain his footing. "We can't leave! We need to call the police…"
"Not here." Genma said distractedly as he snuck a peak over the hedge. His old instincts were kicking in and he studied the street looking for anything out of the ordinary, he spotted a strange man walking towards their house talking on a cellphone and ducked out of view again before the man could see him. "That wasn't a gas leak love, that was intentional which means someone might be watching the house."
They reached the back of their neighbor's house, Iruka had gained his footing but Genma was still half dragging him along because of his broken foot. They found a small opening in the corner of the hedge separating the back garden from the one behind it. From there Genma dragged Iruka around the back of the garage and out to the front. They'd just cleared the corner when they heard the back door open and a frail woman's voice using the Lord's name in vain. Although Genma was pretty sure she'd be forgiven for it under the circumstances.
"Gen…" Iruka began.
Iruka followed his boyfriend in silence over to the beat up red Sedan parked out front. "What are you doing?" He whispered urgently when Genma opened the passenger door and shoved him inside. Genma ran around the car and got into the driver's seat; he didn't say anything as he reached under the steering wheel, ripped the interior down and reached for the wires.
Thank the lord for trusting old ladies. Genma thought as he started hotwiring the car, there weren't many people who left their cars open these days.
"Genma!" Iruka exclaimed. "You can't steal a car!" Iruka ran his hands over his face to get rid of the stinging in his eyes, he stared at his hands when they came away bloody and black with soot.
He still couldn't get his mind to catch up to what was going on and his ears were ringing louder than all the bells in Notre Dame combined. Not that he'd ever heard them personally, he'd always wanted to go but they'd never had the money and… what had he been thinking about. The sound of the car starting brought his attention back to his boyfriend who had apparently been hiding some pretty strange, and quite illegal, talents from him. He knew Genma hadn't had a pristine past before they'd met but that part of his life had been long over before Iruka met him so he'd never really asked. He wondered what other talents Genma possessed that he didn't know about.
"I'm sure Mrs. Dalloway won't mind if we borrowed her car for a while." Genma said as he drove off. "You know how much she likes you." No one seemed to be paying them any mind, everyone in the street had their eyes glued on their house and Genma couldn't see anyone out of the ordinary like the guy he'd spotted before.
"Borrowed!" Iruka hollered. "We're not borrow… OH MY GOD! Genma, you're hurt!"
"I kind of figured that." Genma grimaced when Iruka reached out for him. "Don't touch it!"
"You… There's… Genma you have a stake in your shoulder." Iruka said breathlessly.
Genma looked over in time to see his boyfriend slump back in a dead faint. He couldn't help thinking it was for the best really, this way Iruka wouldn't be stressed or in pain from any of his injuries. Genma was starting to feel the burn in his left shoulder from the "stake" as Iruka had put it, he knew he was probably losing a fair amount of blood but he figured the adrenalin would serve to get them to their destination where ever that was. At least he hoped it would. He was carefree and optimistic most of the time but with his voice of reason passed out in the seat next to him he really needed to develop his own and that voice wasn't very optimistic at the moment.
He knew he should get them to a hospital but his instincts were screaming at him to lay low. Hospitals meant questions and in this case probably cops and even though he certainly wasn't hiding anything these days old habits died hard. In circumstances like these it was best to trust no one but the people you already knew wouldn't sell you out.
He briefly thought about going over to the youth centre or contacting Raidou but the centre would be swarming with kids and he really didn't want to drag Raidou into anything, especially since he didn't know what he'd be dragging his old friend into. He had no idea who on earth would want to blow up their house, it wasn't like he and Iruka had any enemies. He'd been a street kid sure but he'd never been in an actual gang or anything like that and Iruka was as straight as they could get… well at least in the has never even so much as nicked a dollar from his parents capacity… he was a grade school teacher for crying out loud. Genma seriously didn't think 8 year olds or their parents would resort to blowing up their house because of a failed grade.
Of course some people had always had problems with Naruto but he couldn't believe anyone would go so far as to try to kill him. Naruto… Of course! He could go to Jiraiya, the old man ran some kind of a security company and from what he saw this weekend there was probably a lot more going on in that building than your average bodyguard service. Plus they'd seemed to have a pretty decent medical facility.
Genma reached into his pocket for his phone and when he encountered nothing he remembered he'd left it in the van. He maneuvered in the seat and brought his knee up to steer with as he reached over and felt around Iruka's clothing for his phone, his left arm was absolutely useless by now, he could barely even move his fingers. He cried out in victory once he found it but the joy was short lived. The phone was dead and the screen was cracked, it must have gotten damaged in the blast.
Well there was nothing for it really; they'd just have to storm the front gates so to speak.
But only if Genma had enough energy to get them there.
Kakashi burst out of the metal doors leading into the underground parking facility with Tenzou hot on his heels. He was just about ready to blow up a few things himself right about now. It had taken him about 20 minutes to reach HQ, that had been about two hours ago. In that time Tenzou had arrived and given a report of what he'd seen leading up to the explosion and Shikamaru had been brought in for questioning regarding the cop that had picked up Naruto. The boy had seemed to take it all in stride as he was brought up to one of their interrogation floors; he'd just stared calmly at Kakashi as he questioned him and then proceeded to make a thorough sketch of the cop. It had been at that point that things had started to go downhill.
Judging from his previous description Kakashi had been positive that the man Shikamaru saw had been Kabuto, Orochimaru's right hand man, which would have meant they'd have a viable reason to storm the guy's company and every known property he had in order to find Naruto. But the man had turned out to be someone completely unknown and therefore they had almost no leads to go on.
Although Kakashi didn't know why on earth they couldn't just storm all of Orochimaru's usual hunts anyway since there was absolutely no one else who could be behind this. He'd nearly punched Tsunade when she'd told him there was nothing they could do until they got further proof, what was the use of having a huge secret task force if you still had to follow all the same rules as the rest of them.
The only reason he hadn't was because of the look Tsunade gave him when she clearly told him that they couldn't legally do anything more. Kakashi was well known for his tendencies to look underneath the underneath. Tsunade's orders had been clear but underlying them had been a message. A plea.
Tsunade and ANBU would do whatever was in their power to find Naruto but they would do so legally, it was Kakashi's job to do whatever he could to find the boy by other means.
I will find him! Kakashi vowed to himself. And when I do I will kill that son of a bitch once and for all!
They'd almost reached Kakashi's car when they were halted by a voice.
"Take me with you."
Kakashi looked back to see Shikamaru standing there, determination burning in his calculating eyes.
"No." He admired the boy's guts but this was no situation to be dragging a teenager into and Kakashi told him so.
"I understand the danger and I'm not asking you to take me with you chasing down criminals. I imagine you'll set up a base somewhere where you can gather intel and plan strategies and I'm good with that."
"Look I know you're smart but…"
"My IQ is around 200 and I might be lazy but I have a lot of free time on my hands, trust me when I say that you'll need me for something." Shikamaru said as he walked passed them and got in the car. Before he closed the door he turned and looked at them. "I'm the only one who's seen the man who took him and between you and whatever organization you have in there I'm placing my bet on you to find him. Therefore I'm going with you."
Tenzou looked at Kakashi with wide eyes. "Did he just say two…"
"Hundred? Yeah he did." Kakashi said before he got in the car as well.
"Wow…" Was all Tenzou managed before he followed suit.
Once everyone was in the car Kakashi put it into gear and drove to the only place he knew he'd get all the help he would need to make his vow come true, incidentally it was also the place he'd called home for the last few years. Itachi owed him a hell of a lot of favors he intended to collect and if that wasn't enough he could always blackmail him into it with something.
It made his skin crawl just thinking about what could have been done to Naruto in those two hours.
Raidou walked to his office with the little mongrel Genma had saddled him with while his friend took his lunch break. It had been a little over 3 hours since Genma had left to pick up Iruka and he was just about ready to go storming over to their house with the little beast. At least now he knew why Genma had decided to bring the dog to work instead of leaving him at home for Iruka to handle. The dog had done nothing but growl at him since Genma left and Raidou swore that he'd kill the man if he was doing what he thought he was doing. It wouldn't be the first time Genma took a long lunch break when Iruka had an off day; he swore those idiots could be worse than dogs in heat.
As if he knew what he'd been thinking and had taken offence by it the little dog growled again.
"You must get along very well with Iruka don't you?" He mumbled to the mutt. "Big tempers in a tiny body."
He tried calling Genma's phone again but like the ten other times he'd called it went straight to voicemail. He was just about to curse his friend when his office door swung open and Kiba and his family walked in. The greetings for them died on his lips as well when he saw the looks on their faces.
"Are they here?" Kiba asked in an uncharacteristically subdued voice.
"Who?" Raidou asked uneasily. "Iruka and Genma? They're probably at home, has something happened to Naruto?" He didn't like the look of the Inuzuka family one bit; he'd never in his life seen all of them this quiet.
"At home…" Kiba clenched his eyes shut and turned to his mom who took him into her arms. He'd heard through the gossip at school that Naruto had been picked up by a police officer and when he couldn't find Shikamaru anywhere he'd found Chouji and together they'd decided to skip the rest of their classes in order to go home and see if they'd find out what was going on. Chouji had decided to go back to his own place to see if he could find Shikamaru since the boy lived in the same street. They'd both cursed Shikamaru's weirdness on their drive over there because the guy was refusing to get a cellphone no matter how much they bugged him about it, he always just said they were too troublesome and that he'd never get a moments peace if he had one.
When Kiba had arrived at his own house he'd felt like he was driving into a whole new world. There were fire trucks there trying to put out Naruto's house, Kiba had spotted a few scorch marks on the surrounding houses as well, police vehicles with flashing lights, a few news vans and there had been people everywhere on the street watching the proceedings like it was some fascinating disaster movie.
He'd quickly found his mother and his sister and not knowing what else to do but not wanting to stay to watch their friends' house burn any longer they'd decided to come here in the vain hope that Genma and Iruka had been at the centre when it all happened.
They'd all known it but no one had wanted to admit out loud that if they had been they would have arrived home when they'd gotten the news.
"What's going on?" Raidou asked.
Hana patted her brother's shoulder before she turned to him. "There… was an explosion at their house earlier today." She said. "They're still trying to put it out so they don't know the cause yet but they suspect it was a gas leak."
"Are… are they alright?" Raidou managed to ask before he collapsed into his office chair. He couldn't believe that only minutes ago he'd been cursing his friend for taking a long lunch break.
"The…" Hana's voice gave out so it was Tsume who finished for her.
"The car was out front… but we were still hoping they might have been here." Tsume said, her face ash gray. "The… there's no way anyone inside the house could have survived."
Raidou heard a loud sob echo in the room but he couldn't have said which one of the four of them had made it.
"What about Naruto?" He croaked out.
"The police picked him up from school." Tsume said before she led her little family over to the couch lined up against one of the walls of the office. She just couldn't take her family back home again… not with the gigantic reminder of what they had lost still smoking behind their house.
Naruto braced his feet on the floor as the car ran over another hole in the dirt road they were on. He hadn't been expecting it the first time they'd hit a bump and he'd banged his head on the window, being handcuffed and woozy from some unknown drug was playing havoc with his balance and he'd soon taken up the middle seat with both feet planted firmly to the sides so he could keep himself upright. He'd tried lying down again but the dizziness from the drugs combined with the moving of the car had made him feel like he needed to throw up. It hadn't helped that the car seat already smelled like someone had thrown up on it recently.
His captors had continued to ignore him since he woke up and he'd been loathed to change that by talking to them, not that he'd had anything to say to them anyway, he'd probably find out what was going to happen to him soon enough once they got to "the boss" as they had put it earlier and for now he was content to live in a sort of denial about what that might mean. He was nervous about it enough already and he couldn't imagine being stuck in the little space in the back of the police car with the knowledge of just exactly how fucked up his life was about to get once they arrived, because it sure as hell wasn't going to be puppies and rainbows that awaited him there.
The men hadn't even talked to each other as they headed out of the city and drove for about 2 hours before they'd turned onto the country road. Naruto had passed the time studying his captors in between glancing at the clock on the dashboard and the surrounding scenery. He didn't know if the clock was accurate or not, if it was it would have meant he'd been unconscious for about 3 hours before they'd headed out of town and he couldn't imagine his captors wanting to stick around town that long after kidnapping him, all he knew was that it was still day time outside and accurate or not he'd still been able to keep track of the time on it.
The cop who'd picked him up had taken off the glasses and had spent most of the time on the drive texting on his phone or something similar. He'd occasionally glanced back at Naruto with a malicious grin on his face; Naruto had looked away when he did. There was something psychotic about the look in his eyes… it nearly looked inhuman.
He still hadn't gotten a good look at the other cop since he'd been facing forwards pretty much the whole drive, completely ignoring him, and Naruto couldn't help being relieved that he did because as evil as the first cop looked he seemed like a kitten compared to the feeling he was getting off of the driver. He didn't really look it from what Naruto had seen, the guy looked pretty young, a small amount of silver hair could be seen from under the police cap and he was either wearing the same glasses the other guy had been wearing when he picked him up or similar ones.
Naruto tipped to the side when they hit another hole and he came close to falling over but managed to gain his balance before he did, although the movement brought the nausea back with a vengeance. He had a sneaking suspicion that the driver was hitting all the worst holes on purpose because the road definitely didn't look all that bad.
His suspicions were confirmed when the car suddenly came to a screeching halt a few minutes later causing Naruto to go flying into the metal grid head first before he could bring his hands up to ease the collision. His head throbbed and he saw stars as he fell forwards and puked up nothing but stomach acid over his shoes. He hadn't had any breakfast in his hurry that morning and they'd collected him before his lunch break so he had nothing else in his stomach to throw up.
"Ugh! Did you have to do that?" Was the last thing Naruto heard before he fell back in the seat, he didn't fight the darkness creeping up on him because total oblivion sounded better than the horrible uncertainty and abuse he was under now.
Naruto didn't know how long he'd been under but when he came to again he was being dragged up a flight of stairs. He was kind of surprised how nice the carpet on them looked, not that he had a lot of experience in being kidnapped but he'd been imagining something more along the lines of a dirty cellar or a rundown cabin and less along the lines of something out of Luxury Homes and Style Magazine. The hallway they went down next wasn't any different, the walls were lined with grand paintings, the carpet was spotless and the woodwork looked polish enough to be used as a mirror. He was dragged through fancy double doors leading into what looked to be a library straight out of the 1800's novels Iruka was so fond of; he would have used the same words to describe it anyway, and thrown down on the Persian rug in front of the fireplace. His stomach clenched but at this point he wasn't sure if it was from the nausea or hunger, he had no way of knowing how long it had been since he'd gotten any food as he wasn't exactly sure what time it was. All he knew was that he hadn't eaten since yesterday. His hands were still cuffed but he managed to get them under himself to push up into a sitting position, it would make him feel a little less vulnerable than lying on the floor in front of his captors. He'd only just managed to right himself up when a low voice he faintly remembered hearing before spoke up near his ear.
A cold hand grabbed his chin and turned his head until he gazed up into the face of what was unmistakably the boss of this whole operation, and when their eyes met Naruto knew just how fucked he really was.
Itachi had taken one look at his friend as he'd walked through the back door of his tattoo parlor 2 hours ago with a man dressed in an ANBU uniform and one of his brother's school mates before he'd gotten up, walked to the front of the store and shut the whole parlor down. It hadn't taken more than that for him to realize that something big had happened and that Kakashi was not just coming over for a cup of his overprized imported coffee. The look on the man's face had been more than enough to tell him that without the strange entourage.
His own crew was trained well enough to not question him but he'd had to use a few well practiced glares to send some of the customers flying out of the establishment with half finished tattoos, although Hidan's swearing and threats of bodily harm had been enough to send his customer running for his life before all the others, Itachi was sure the man had been on the verge of doing just that even before they started kicking people out. Kisame, who had been shadowing him from the minute he walked out front, grinning at them with his shark like teeth had also helped, very few men wanted to go up against the giant blue man.
After that had been finished Itachi had lead everyone up to the top floor to his apartment where they rearranged his spacious living room into headquarters. Sasori, Kisame and Kakuzu had set out to gather every computer they could find in the building, Deidara and Nagato had started calling in everyone in the crew who didn't live there or weren't at work and Shikamaru and Yamato, as the ANBU member had been introduced as even though Itachi knew it was a fake name, had been ordered to move away furniture they wouldn't need and bring in tables while Itachi questioned Kakashi about the situation.
Once everything they needed had been gathered they'd started setting everything up while they waited for the rest of the gang to show up. Shikamaru had proven to be incredibly helpful with setting up the computers in the absence of Shoudou and Chiku, Itachi's main computer experts, but that was about all Itachi noticed because at that point he himself had been busy calling a few family members he knew where still in the police, he didn't care what the rest of them were doing so long as they didn't get in his way.
Kakashi had said Naruto had been picked up by men dressed as cops and according to some eye witnesses ANBU had managed to question discreetly they had arrived in a patroller and everything, of course ANBU had figured out that the car had been stolen and Itachi hadn't doubt their information but he'd also known that ANBU had gotten the information by an "internal affairs" route in which case the police was bound to have left out information if not downright lied in order to decrease the damage to whichever station or crew who had lost the car in the first place. It didn't take a genius to figure that small fact out but that was what you got when you tried to gather information the legal way. All Itachi had had to do was call a few members of his old family who either owed him favors or could be blackmailed into giving him what he needed.
Inabi had hung up once he'd found out who was calling, probably afraid of what his father would do if he found out he'd been speaking to his son. Although Itachi couldn't see how his father would have ever found out unless Inabi himself told him so, Itachi certainly wasn't going to tell the old man, but the rest of the family had always been nervous about Fugaku's long reach. Yashiro hadn't been any help simply because the old man hadn't heard anything about it but Itachi hit the jackpot with his cousin Tekka. The young man was actually working at the station the car had been stolen from and, after some persuasion, had been able to tell him all the information ANBU were still waiting for like the make of the car, the plate numbers, when and where it had been taken along with the fact that the police officers assigned to the car were still missing. Itachi hadn't said it but he doubted they'd be finding the men alive, people who got in the way of Orochimaru or his crew tended to turn up dead if they turned up at all.
This was why it was vital to find Naruto as soon as possible, before Orochimaru deemed him useless. The fact that the boy had been kidnapped were the only good news so far because it meant that they had wanted him alive, although how long that would last no one knew. If Orochimaru had just wanted the kid dead he would have made sure that Naruto was with his fathers when the house was blown up.
Once the rest of the crew had shown up they'd been briefed by Kakashi and his small team before Itachi went over what he'd just found out from his cousin and then everyone had set out doing their own thing. Shikamaru was now working with Shoudou and Chiku in the hacking department, the twins haven taken him under their wing once they'd found out who'd set the computers up. Itachi hadn't batted an eye when that talent had been revealed, a teenager with an IQ like that and a lot of free time was almost destined for the role of hacker in his opinion what with all the technology and all these days, but Kakashi and Yamato had seemed both fascinated and comprehensive about it.
Nagato, his communications expert, and Yamato were in constant contact with ANBU in case they got any new leads and Sasori was calling all his puppets, as he liked to call his informants, to see if they'd heard anything.
Kakuzu was, not surprisingly, investigating everything he could get his hands on about Orochimaru's finances with the help of the hacker team, they didn't have that much time but Itachi was sure that if they had a few days to work on it they'd be able to find out just what the henchmen of Orochimaru's henchmen had spent on some trivial thing ten years ago.
Konan, his top forgerer, was hard at work getting together everything Deidara would need in order to pose as a fire investigator as quickly as she could. Deidara was at that moment looking at every news coverage he could find of the blast to see if he could gather any information from that but they'd have to wait until he could get on the scene before they'd get anything solid. So far there had been no news of bodies but they didn't know if that was because no bodies had been found yet or because the people already on the scene were covering it up.
The Zetsu twins had been sent out to monitor Orochimaru's company but Itachi already knew it would lead them nowhere. Orochimaru hadn't staid untouchable for years by being sloppy.
Itachi didn't know what on earth Tobi was doing other than driving everyone else in the room nuts or providing comic relief. The master thief and scammer came off as a raging lunatic most of the time but Itachi knew just how serious he could get while on a job and Tobi's ability to get into locked things was so good that it was almost like he could walk through walls. They didn't need him right now but as annoying as he was they might need him later so Itachi had had him called in along with everyone else.
The same went for the rest of his men. Hidan, Kisame and the three remaining Pains Ningendou, Shuradou and Gakidou were his main task force along with himself and as there wasn't much fighting going on at the moment, and they really had no intel what so ever on Naruto's situation, so there wasn't much they could. Right now all of them, along with Kakashi, were going over information about Orochimaru and all of his known associates in order to see what they might be going up against but Orochimaru was known to change his crew quite often, with the exception of Kabuto, so there really was no knowing who he'd be working with this time.
Itachi glared at the clock willing it to go faster and yet hoping that time would stop for them long enough to figure this whole thing out. He knew his father was involved with Orochimaru in some way these days and even though he did have other means of finding information about his dear old dad he knew it wouldn't be nearly as good as the information he could gather from his brother but his stupid sire had a firm grip on his brother until after dinner and since the clock was only just over 5 pm it meant he'd have to wait for at least two hours before he could get a hold of Sasuke. Of course his brother could be totally clueless as to what on earth was going on between his father and Orochimaru, since he'd only just met him the day before and the snake faced bastard had used most of that time to gather information on Naruto, but Itachi didn't want to wait for two hours to confirm that because there was also a possibility that Sasuke did know something that could help them.
An hour later Kakashi sat in a chair at the back of the big room. The rest of the haphazardly put together team was milling about around him planning or chasing down the same old leads they'd already exhausted every which way to Sunday and back with no results. Some of them were even repeating methods others had done before like it would magically make the results change for the better. It kind of reminded Kakashi of trying to open a tight lidded jar, if you didn't succeed you were suddenly surrounded by people demanding you hand it over and let them try it. It was ridiculous to say the least but who knew… the jar usually opened eventually so maybe someone would catch something others had overlooked and therefore Kakashi didn't say anything.
After Tenzou had gotten him introduced and set up contacts for him Nagato had staid glued to the phone monitoring ANBU's progress. Not surprisingly ANBU had focused most of their power trying to figure out the identity of Naruto's only known kidnapper; Shikamaru's sketch was being compared to every major criminal database they had but so far nothing had turned up. They'd also reluctantly agreed to send over all the files they had on Orochimaru once they'd been compiled but not until after Kakashi had called Tsunade herself and told her in no uncertain terms that if anything happened to Naruto because of their fucking protocol it would be on her hands.
Tenzou had then taken over his spot in the task force group so Kakashi could keep track of the rest of the teams with Itachi. Everyone was pretty much where they'd started off apart from Deidara and Konan. Deidara had left for Naruto's house already to try to find out the source of the explosion and to see if he could find any leads there that might help them out. Konan, not having any more forgeries to do, had started making herself busy by making coffee for everyone and ordering food.
Part of him knew he should be with the others but he'd been at it for what felt like weeks already with nothing to show for it apart from a massive headache and the most mind numbing feeling of helplessness he'd ever felt. With each new failure or dead end he'd met it had felt like he'd been punched in the stomach. Each time his mind had whispered to him You're not going to find him and eventually he'd gotten too tired to reassure himself otherwise.
His fingers idly played with a battered up stuffed toy as his eyes stared unseeingly at the wall, his mind miles away in a distant past.
Kakashi stepped out of the car in front of the tall building with everything he owned in a brown cardboard box. He felt incredibly small standing there on the sidewalk in such a rich neighborhood in his dirty clothes. Someone like him didn't belong here, soon they would see that and then he'd be back on the streets again. No one had ever wanted him for long.
"Come on champ." Minato said as he patted him on the shoulder. "There's someone who's been dying to meet you."
The man smiled at him with more kindness than Kakashi thought he deserved but he didn't say anything, he just followed the man inside soaking up the warmth from the man's hand on his shoulder, it would all be gone soon enough and he was determined to enjoy it as long as it lasted.
He cringed when Minato lead him to the elevator and he was just about to turn away and tell the man he'd take the stairs when he squeezed his shoulder and said.
"You'll have to face your fears someday Kakashi. Better to do it now than later when it's had time to grow roots and fester."
His chest was so tight that he felt like he couldn't breathe on the way up and his left eye burned but he fought the urge to rub it because it was still healing. It was the only thing he had left of his friend and loosing it would be like killing him all over again.
They'd barely made it through the door when something grabbed his legs. He had to lift the box out of the way in order to look down and see what it was and when he did he was met by two huge sapphire eyes staring at him intently.
"I got a boo boo." A small voice said before a finger with a colorful band-aid was waved up towards his face. "I had an acshident."
"Uhm." Kakashi said helplessly. When he looked up Minato had been joined by his wife, Kushina he thought her name was, and they were both beaming at him with amused smiles.
"Are you a pirate?"
Kakashi looked back down at the little boy.
"A pirate. Arrr!" The little bandaged finger was now waving at him crookedly like a hook.
"No, I'm not a pirate." Kakashi fought the urge to shake the little creature of his leg. He didn't have the slightest idea how to deal with kids.
"But you only have one eye."
"Naruto, sweetie." Kushina said as she walked over to them. "Why don't you take this young man here to his new room hmm?"
Kakashi gave them a terrified look as the little kid dragged him down the hallway but the red haired lady just laughed and hugged her husband as they watched them leave.
"Are you my new big brother?" The kid, Naruto, asked eagerly.
Kakashi had a fleeting thought about asking him what had happened to the old one but thought better of it. The kid was probably too young to understand sarcasm. "I guess." He said instead while he studied the room they were now in.
It looked nice, although compared to the loft he'd been squatting in before everything would look good. There was a queen sized bed up against the furthest wall near a big window, a nice looking desk stood opposite it and near the door where they had come in was a huge wardrobe. He didn't know what on earth he'd be doing with that since he only had one extra sweater, he supposed he could use it to store the box with his things in it. For now he put it down on the bed and studied the contents for lack of anything better to do.
"What's your name nii-san?" Naruto asked as he climbed up on the bed and looked down into the box too.
"Hatake, Kakashi." He said distractedly as he pulled his spare sweater out of the box. Maybe he should throw it away, it was littered with holes and he was pretty sure the stains on it were dried blood from some fight or another, but it was the only extra pair of clothing he owned. He'd had a full set of extra clothes before but he'd been wearing them when… when he was in the accident and they'd thrown them away at the hospital.
"Kashi!" Naruto's excited squeal brought him crashing back to reality. Oh there was no way the kid was going to be calling him that. "No. It's Hatake, Kakashi." He said again a bit sternly, it was best to squash that kind of thing right away or it would never stop.
Or maybe not… He guessed Take would just have to do because god forbid the boy came up with some other even more horrible version of his name.
Kakashi froze half way to the little trash bin next to the desk, where he'd intended to throw away his sweater, at the little boy's cry. "What!" He twisted around to look at the kid. Thankfully the boy had not been calling him that but the small plushie dog that he'd had since he was young. He knew it was silly and most of his acquaintances would no doubt laugh in his face if they ever found out but his father had given him that stuffed toy once and he'd guarded the thing like it was a priceless treasure both at all the foster homes and orphanages he'd been sent to and then on the streets.
"I'mma call him Kashi." The little hellion said and before Kakashi could stop him the boy had run out of the room with his most prized possession.
Itachi glanced up from the reports that they'd been able to scrounge up so far. With one look he took in the whole room and assessed the situation, everyone was still hard at work except… Kakashi, who was sitting in a dark corner staring at nothing.
Itachi, who never did anything until he'd gotten all the facts about every minor detail, decided to disregard his own rules for once and marched over to Kakashi. He hated going into anything without the certainty that he'd come out on top but the stupid idiot was in one of his moods and Itachi knew from experience that if he wasn't dragged out of it in time the man would sink so low that there would be no pulling him back for days if at all. The guy probably had more repressed and unresolved issues than Itachi did and that was saying something compared to the fact that Itachi was the bloody king of unresolved issues. Uchiha men never talked about their feelings to anyone and Itachi had taken to the lesson so well that he didn't even think about his own feelings most of the time.
But although he'd been accused of it often enough Itachi wasn't entirely heartless, unlike his father, and he looked after the people he knew and liked no matter the cost. He'd only ever done this with his brother and he was loath to do this in a room full of people but they needed Kakashi to stay focused, everything was riding on him now and if he went down the rest of them would go tumbling down with him.
Itachi poked Kakashi's head as he sat down next to him. "Stop thinking so far ahead or you'll base your thoughts on facts that you don't have." He said quietly.
"I thought that was what planning was all about. Thinking ahead and coming up with outcomes." Kakashi responded in an equally quiet voice, his eyes and attention still focused on the stuffed toy dog he held in his hands.
Kakashi had slipped away to his apartment earlier and gotten the thing where it had been buried deep at the back of his closet. Naruto had stolen it that fateful day and he'd only tried to get it back once, the kid had been so disappointed that he'd been unable to go through with it. When Naruto hadn't remembered him and he'd been ordered to stay away Kakashi had broken into Minato's apartment, even though it had been an active crime scene, and taken the toy back. He'd meant to have it delivered to Naruto but he just couldn't do it, the toy had been the only thing to get him through losing the boy and his parents.
"I told you to stop thinking. We'll find him." Itachi was sure they would, the only thing he was afraid of was in what condition the boy would be once they did.
"We've been at it for hours and we're no closer to finding him than we were at the start."
"We've only been looking for about two to three hours Kakashi. These things take time." Itachi said, looking over his shoulder to give the room another glance.
"Well he's been missing for almost six!" Kakashi snapped back. "I know what he does Itachi; we both know what that bastard is capable of."
"We're going to find him alive." Itachi said forcefully. "He'll be broken but alive and you'll love him just the same and this time you won't let anything tear you apart, you'll stay with him and help him heal no matter how long it will take you and eventually he will be alright again."
"I can't stand the thought of it." Kakashi said in a broken voice. "All that pain… he's been through enough pain already… Why do that to him? Why take him… what does he gain from that?"
Itachi stood up and poked his finger against Kakashi's head again. "If you want to prevent him from feeling more pain then get yourself together and do something about it, because we both know sitting and feeling sorry for yourself isn't going to help him any. You are the most important person he has right now, don't let him down… Don't give up on him before we even find out anything; if you do you've already lost him."
"How do you do it?" Kakashi was again staring at the stuffed toy but his voice sounded calmer than before.
He was pulling himself together which was a good sign Itachi thought. "Do what?" He asked.
"Tell someone that for the second time in your life you've lost the two people who should always be there for you."
Itachi bent forward and gripped Kakashi's shoulder, waiting until the man raised his head and their eyes met. "You do it with love, so they know that even though they lost a great deal there are still people out there who care about them."
"I believe you won't have to do that."
Both Kakashi and Itachi looked up to see Shikamaru standing behind the couch.
"According to recent files I just found in the ANBU database two injured men arrived there earlier today, one of whom claims to be Shiranui, Genma."
"What!" Kakashi jumped out of his seat and marched over to the computers. "Did ANBU send those files over? Why haven't they contacted us with this information?"
And what on earth did it mean when they said one of them claimed to be Genma. Were his injuries so severe that they couldn't ID him? Maybe it wasn't him and that's why no one had told them about it.
"They didn't send us anything, I hacked into their database." Shikamaru said lazily as he sat down by his computer again and started clicking through files.
"I'm sorry, what?" Kakashi said in disbelief. "You hacked into the ANBU database? The actual database? The database that's supposed to be completely unhackable because it's so well protected?"
Shikamaru's only response was an annoyed glance.
"Right… IQ of 200 and all that, I get it. Why were you hacking into the database in the first place?"
"When you asked for everything they had about Orochimaru the response we got was that we would get everything once it had been compiled. Now I'm not an expert but I would imagine that a company like that would be highly organized which means everything they have on Orochimaru should be compiled somewhere already." Shikamaru explained in a tired voice.
"That makes sense." Kakashi waved Tenzou over and asked him to contact Tsunade or Jiraiya directly to see what was going on. It was too much of a coincidence that two injured men would show up at the company claiming to be Naruto's dads the same day their house had been destroyed but they would have called them long before now if it was actually true.
"So why would they say they need time to compile it if it's already ready to be sent?" Kakashi asked no one in particular as he read the report over Shikamaru's shoulder. It wasn't very long, only a short missive about how two men, one unconscious and the other one barely so, had arrived at Konoha Security and Law today around 1 pm. The second man had then told them his name was Shiranui, Genma and that he needed to speak with Jiraiya before he passed out from what was believed to be severe blood loss from a wound on his shoulder. A request had been sent out to confirm the identity of the two men since neither of them had been carrying ID's.
Kakashi's heart began racing, he knew he shouldn't get his hopes up but what if? Kakashi knew the security measures at the company and Jiraiya or Tsunade wouldn't be told about the men until they'd been identified. The men had arrived around 1 pm today, shortly after Kakashi and Tenzou, and by then the company would have been in an uproar due to Naruto's kidnapping and the search for the identity of his kidnapper had taken top priority so any other requests had been put on hold. The men, whoever they were, had probably ended up getting lost in the system.
"It's kind of obvious." Shikamaru said.
"What is?" Kakashi wasn't sure what the boy was talking about having completely forgotten the question he'd spoken out loud earlier.
"Do you honestly think that a company like that would hand over every single file they have on something to a group of people who have a record or are suspected of being criminals? They probably wouldn't even have handed over all the files even if it was just you. What they'll do is go over all their information and compile a file with everything they think would be relevant. Personally I thought that would take way too much time to wait for and they're almost certain to miss something that could be important so I decided to just go straight to the main thing instead of waiting for the out-takes."
Kakashi nearly slapped himself, of course ANBU would do something like that. He was just glad he'd decided to come here instead of trying to work over there with them. They might not have made a lot of progress here but he was sure they'd gotten further in their investigation than ANBU because no matter how good the organization was most of their work still had to go through proper legal channels which tended to slow down the process a lot.
"What more have you found?" Kakashi asked Shikamaru.
"Not much, I'm only on the first security level of their system, it'll take a bit longer until I can get access to the files we need."
"But you can do it?"
Kakashi saw Shikamaru smirk for the first time before the boy replied. "Of course I can do it. I told you you'd need my help for something."
"Yeah, yeah. No one likes to hear I told you so genius, so just watch yourself."
Shikamaru grunted something that sounded like "Troublesome." But at the same moment Tenzou cried out from the phone.
The whole room went silent and everyone stopped what they were doing while Tenzou finished the call quickly and hung up.
"Sempai it's them! They're alive!" he shouted excitedly as he came over to his old captain.
Kakashi had to grab hold of the table when the relief washed over him. These were the first good news they'd had so far and as he heaved a huge sigh and pulled himself together he could see the moral in the room increase as they all realized that maybe things weren't so dire after all.
The seven Pain 'siblings' (just found out 1 of them is actually a girl) were pretty much just named after the "realm" they use as they don't seem to have any names except for Nagato (I decided not to go with Yahiko as I didn't really fancy having a character similar to Denzel Washington in the bone collector hanging around). It was just way easier than saying "one of the Pains" all the time or trying to come up with descriptions since pretty much all of them have "red hair and piercings"
Uchiha Inabi, Uchiha Tekka, Uchiha Yashiro are the policemen who came to question Itachi about his cousin Shisui in the Anime/Manga.
I decided to have Zetsu as a pair of twins since he can split himself in two. The idea was that one of them would be black and the other one would be an albino, I'm not sure I'll get that into the story in the next chapter so now you know.
Another random bit of trivia is that I tried to assign the members of Akatsuki roles that fit their abilities in the anime/manga or the description of them. I.E. Konan works with paper = forgerer. Tobi has that whole "things go straight through him" thing and he pretty much duped the whole of akatsuki = Thief and scammer.