Pein wandered into the basement-the dungeons of the Akatsuki lair. He had heard rumors about the prisoner they had just captured, and wanted to see for himself. They said he was wild, untamed, completely feral, and that even Pein couldn't break his spirit. Itachi had failed, even after stabbing him with a katana for three days straight…

The guard let him in, allowing him access to the cell without question. Pein walked in, surveying the prisoner chained to the wall in front of him. He couldn't move, clearly: he had been blindfolded, gagged, and chained so tightly that his limbs quivered with the tension. Couldn't break him-what a joke. Whatever Pein wanted, Pein got. And if it was a broken slave, huddled at his feet, whimpering and begging for mercy, he would have it. No ifs, ands, or buts. Pein let a small frown grace the corners of his lips. Was he truly ready for such a wild creature?

Of course. He was a god. He had the bridle of Athena in his hand, and the hubris of Zeus in his other.

"I'll take him. But, hear me now: if he is not broken in a month, I will personally slaughter him."

Itachi paced the room, simply for lack of anything better to do. He was bored. Kisame was always out, doing something. If Itachi didn't know better, he might say that the shark-man was ignoring him. Or, better yet, avoiding him. Well, Itachi wasn't that type. He really couldn't care less. But still, it would be nice to have a companion…just someone to talk to. Or even just someone to sit there, and just be there. Even the presence of another human was comforting. Itachi sighed, flopping down on the sofa and picking through his pile of books. He had already read everything there was to read…ugh. This was so boring. The only other thing to do was clean, and that would take Itachi down a road to clean-freak-ness he didn't even want to think about now. The room was clean; that all that mattered.

Itachi sighed, standing up again. There was something he wanted to check out-the rumors of a new prisoner that Pein had taken on a month ago. Everyone had kept it very hushed, since it was clear that this one belonged to Pein. Even so, the rumors were starting again, this time that Pein had let go of him, and was allowing someone else to take him. Itachi wasn't sure about the rumors, but he did want to verify the prisoner's identity: an old friend, shall we say: Hatake Kakashi. Itachi thought it would be interesting to have Kakashi here-he had always enjoyed his talks with the older man back in ANBU, and respected him as an authority figure and as a friend both. He always had something to say-he just never said it. He said it was because no one listened.

Itachi believed him.

Without thinking, Itachi found himself in the prison cells, walking down the aisle and looking for Kakashi. He finally stopped himself and asked one the guards: the man turned around, inserted his key into the lock on the door directly behind him, and pushed the door open. "Just don't touch his head," the man grunted, taking his seat again just outside the door. Itachi paused for a moment, unsure of the man's intentions. Well, whatever. Find out when he got in there.

Itachi was floored by what he saw.

Kakashi knelt in the middle of the floor, head hanging, silver hair matted with blood and falling down to grace his suddenly slender shoulders. His entire body looked like he hadn't eaten in a month-and if Itachi knew Pein, he hadn't. Even his hips were more prominent than they should have been. It almost made Itachi physically ill to see such a skinny creature. But, past that, the sight was worse: blood mated Kakashi's hair, and weighed it down, but it was also caked over his entire body. Itachi could see scars, old and new, as sharp as if they were fresh. Bruises littered Kakashi's milky pale skin-he had been severely beaten. As if the starvation wasn't enough to make Itachi sick, the obvious disregard for the value of Kakashi's life made Itachi violently ill. Kakashi slowly raised his head, as if took every ounce of his energy: two pearly tears fell from Kakashi's eyes, both of which were exposed. Itachi's heart skipped a beat-his mask had been removed, and Kakashi's entire face was revealed. His entire, beautiful face…Kakashi truly was beautiful. And the abuse was just too much for Itachi. He turned to the side and bent over, trying not to look at Kakashi, chained down miserably and obviously so frightened and abused. It was futile, though: Itachi had seen the evidence on Kakashi's stomach.

Rape.

That was the final straw. Itachi bent over further, doubling over with the force of his stomach's spasms. His entire stomach turned, heaved, and emptied itself onto the floor. When he could look at Kakashi again, Itachi could see more evidence of cruelty: burns marks, whip lashes, abrasions, lacerations, even puncture wound sin other places. And, around Kakashi's slender, dainty neck: a collar. Around his wrists, heavy chains. Around his ankles, more of the same. Itachi was disgusted. How could someone treat even a prisoner with such disregard?

"Itachi-sama…please…"

Itachi could hardly bear to hear Kakashi's voice. Instead of the calm, smooth tone it had taken before, it was only a broken whisper. Itachi tried to keep himself under control, and snapped, "What?"

Kakashi flinched away from him, ducking his head and trying to hide his tears. "I-I'm sorry," he murmured, keeping his eyes low and away from Itachi. Itachi immediately felt guilt stab at his heart like a knife-he had been too harsh, then. Or maybe it was Kakashi who was at fault…? Itachi shook his head. He would not fall for a lowly slave!

"What did you want?" Itachi asked, keeping his voice flat and even. He couldn't give away any emotion.

"I…Itachi-sama, I've been waiting for someone for weeks now…if I am not taken, Pein will kill me. Please, Itachi-sama, help me," Kakashi pleaded, raising his head to look Itachi in the eyes. Clearly, he was terrified, but the threat of death looming ever-closer was what frightened him more. Was he appealing to Itachi as the man's only hope? What was this, the harshness of the treatment here? Itachi took several long, swift steps out of the cell, closing the door almost all the way before saying to the guard outside, "What do I have to do to make him mine?"

The man shrugged. "Just take 'im," he said, lighting up a cigarette. "I'd give him something to eat, though. Been two and a half weeks."

Itachi's eyes widened. Two and a half weeks?! How was Kakashi still alive? Itachi took the key from the guard, and walked back into the cell, trying to keep himself under control. Kakashi was sobbing quietly, looking utterly defeated. Itachi quietly approached him, taking the man's advice about not making any sudden movements. If Kakashi had been tortured as severely as these injuries said, then Itachi needed to very careful with him. Itachi gently raised a hand to touch Kakashi's shoulder-apparently, the jounin hadn't seen him, because he let out a startled yelp and darted away from Itachi. Terrified whimpers began issuing from his throat, and he backed as far as the chains would allow. It wasn't very far; about a foot. Itachi's heart immediately went out to Kakashi. He was sitting here for what must have been days, starving to death, and no one bothered to help him? All they had to do was give him something to eat, and let him be-and this wouldn't be nearly so bad. Itachi sighed, carefully lowering himself to sit down cross-legged in front of Kakashi. "Come here," he said softly, offering a hand to the fragile jounin. Kakashi shied away at first, whimpering and crying. But, slowly, he began to come around: Itachi sat still, waiting, until Kakashi decided to come to him. "Come on," he coaxed. "I'm going to get you out of here. You want something to eat? Come on, I know you're starving…come here, I need to get these off you."

Kakashi whimpered, drawing back and trying to get away from Itachi again. Itachi sighed, realizing that this would never work. He would have to wait for Kakashi to trust him…completely. Before he even touched him, Kakashi had to show him that he was ready. Itachi set the key for the chains aside, setting his hands on his knees. "Alright, then," he said evenly. "You come to me when you trust me. Just remember, trust is something that must first be given, and then earned."

Kakashi seemed to ponder this for a moment: his posture relaxed, and the fear began to drain out of his eyes. The terror of before was replaced by a slight curiosity, and then a desperation to be helped. Kakashi waited, though: his fear was still present, and it would take much more than willpower to overcome it. Even so, it would take willpower to start to get over it, and willpower was the catalyst that took over Kakashi's psyche. He seemed to suddenly overcome his fear-he leapt right into Itachi's arms, clutching at his shoulders as much as the tight chains would allow and sobbing uncontrollably. Itachi smiled slightly-Kakashi was his. He unlocked the chains around the jounin's wrists and ankles, and then carefully removed the collar from his neck. Throughout the entire process, Kakashi remained as close to Itachi as possible, crowding closer as chains were removed and seeking nothing but affection from Itachi. "Alright, alright," Itachi hushed, gently raising a hand to pet Kakashi's hair. Kakashi, having his face buried in Itachi's shoulder, didn't notice Itachi's movement-he started when he felt the hand in his hair. He froze for a moment, and even his sobbing ceased for a moment. Then, his cries redoubled, and Itachi didn't even know why. He wasn't hurting Kakashi, was he? Itachi gently ran his hand through Kakashi's hair, whispering condolences to him and trying to find out what was wrong.

"Don't hit me."

The first words Itachi managed to coax out of the jounin, and it was a plea not to be beaten?! Whatever Pein did to him, it screwed him up pretty bad…

"Alright, calm down, Kakashi," Itachi whispered, gently kissing Kakashi's silken locks. "I promise, I won't hurt you. Just calm down, alright? I'm going to take you back up to my apartment, and I'll let you eat something, okay? And then we'll see about bandaging up these wounds. Come on; oh, please stop crying. I have no idea what's wrong, just stop crying, please?"

Kakashi's shoulders still shook with his sobs, but his voice was suddenly hushed. Now, the jounin only cried silently, his sorrow barely contained. Itachi felt like he had just made the situation worse-it was almost as if Kakashi had been ordered to stop, and so, he had. "Did Pein beat it into you not to even cry?" Itachi murmured, gently running his hand through Kakashi's hair. The other was wrapped around Kakashi's arms in a safe, secure, embrace-tight enough to feel Kakashi's sudden lack of movement.

"Shut up, you worthless spice of shit!"

The next cruel strike met his face, and another tearful plea left his lips, only to be silenced by the cold, deafened ears of a truly stone-hearted human. Only Pein could accomplish this level of cruelty, and Kakashi was frightened to death of him. More and more and more, Kakashi was stricken with Pein's cold, unforgiving hand. Occasionally, the breath was choked from his lungs: Kakashi would scratch at Pein's arms, beg and plead not to be killed, and finally, he was released. And then, even then, Pein insisted on violating him, until Kakashi had no tears left to cry-only then did he stop crying, and only then did Pein cease to beat him.

Kakashi shivered, and crowded closer to Itachi, whimpering again. A small nod of the head answered Itachi's question-and also confirmed the Uchiha's darkest fears.

"Come on," Itachi finally whispered, standing up with Kakashi still in his arms. "I need to get you cleaned up."

OOOOOOOOOOO

Kakashi sat on the floor of the bathroom, allowing Itachi to examine his brutally abused body, so long as he could keep eating with one hand. Itachi had given the skinny jounin an apple to tide him over until he could get some decent food into him-Kakashi was content to just sit there and eat. He was starving, and wasn't in the mood to move much, either. It seemed every movement caused him pain-it tore at cuts, pulled on abrasions and lacerations, yanked at bruises, and put pressure on broken bones. Itachi was bandaging Kakashi's leg now-even his legs had been cruelly whipped. Itachi knew it was because Kakashi had tried to run. It just wasn't fair to Kakashi, and it actually made Itachi feel slightly bad. He was running a damp cloth over Kakashi's legs, and then smearing ointment over the cuts and wrapping the entire leg in bandages. There just wasn't space between the cuts for a break in the bandages. Finally, the whip lashes stopped at Kakashi's mid thigh-it was good, actually, because he seemed deathly afraid of any contact even relatively close to his horribly abused nether region. Itachi could put up with most physical abuse, and all emotional abuse, but when it came to rape, he drew that invisible line in the sand. Itachi finished Kakashi's legs, and moved on to his arms. He took Kakashi's left arm first; Kakashi was right-handed. He could continue to eat easier while Itachi dealt with him. Itachi took Kakashi's hand in his own, gently turning the arm and trying to find out what the most severe of his injuries was.

Kakashi yelped in fear, and ducked away.

He remained huddled in a corner, whimpering and clutching his hand to his body. He looked on the verge of tears again. Itachi's brow furrowed in confusion; what had he done wrong this time? "Kakashi?" he murmured, trying to get a bit closer to Kakashi. Kakashi, instead, tried to back up even more, whimpering and shaking his head, drawing himself into a ball and trying to protect himself from an unseen danger. Itachi understood immediately and backed off; Kakashi clearly had had some traumatizing experience with someone holding him in the past, and was associating the gesture now with pain. Itachi stepped back, and sat down again, setting aside the medical supplies and waiting for Kakashi, exactly as he had done earlier.

"You come when you're ready," he told the jounin, settling down against the cabinets under the sink and waiting. "I won't force you."

It took less time to get Kakashi to come to him this time.

A/N: So, yeah, this is going to be M for the flashbacks Kakashi has of his abuse. This fanfic is going to be written in chronological order from when Itachi takes Kakashi for himself to the end, with flashbacks scattered throughout to gradually build a picture of Kakashi's fears and their bases. It may look confusing at first, but it will come together in the end. Review, please!!