Summary: A serial killer is on the loose in Konoha. Capt. Itachi Uchiha is heading the case. But as he gets more involved in the case – and more involved with the only coherent survivor – he finds out that it's much bigger and older than he ever thought. The facts lead back to his own past and threatens to destroy all that he holds dear. AU Drama/Crime/Romance
Warnings: Eventual ItaNaru yaoi. Embrace it people! There will be violent situations mentioned in this story. Some of it may get a bit graphic. Thus why it's Rated M.
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.
a/n: Hmm...I must be watching too much Law and Order: Criminal Intent and stuff. Well, anyways, don't hurt me...yes I know I should be working on other stuff, but this has been sitting on my computer for probably two months. I kept putting off posting it, but I'm trying to clean off my laptop since this actually belongs to my job. XD So you're getting it early. Hope you like it.
MARK OF THE FOX
Chapter 1 - The Victim
Speaking: "blah blah"
Thoughts: 'blah blah'
x x x
Itachi sat in his office looking over some of the latest cases. They weren't pretty. Not at all.
A little girl had been strangled by her own father just because she wouldn't be quiet.
A gang skirmish occurred between Leaf and Sound right after a school day leaving two children who had been on their way home stuck in the middle. One was in the hospital in serious condition, the other was dead from a gunshot wound to the chest.
The last one was a case of domestic violence. It was a typical situation...A husband and wife on the outs. The husband goes against the restraining order and comes to the house threatening her. Even though she calls the police, they're too late. By the time they got to the scene, both had died from gunshot wounds...one self-inflicted.
With a sigh, Itachi leaned his head back against the back of his chair while he tossed the papers on top of the rest of the growing pile. He was beginning to understand why so many others could not handle this job. It was hard to see so much violence and not be affected. Emotions were dangerous to have in this line of work.
Fortunately, he understood this fact long before taking this job. His father had been the police chief of Konoha, after all. Once he'd been old enough to understand his father's occupation, he couldn't help but admire the way he could keep his home life and work life separate. At least for him and his younger brother.
Neither of them knew how much their father hid from them until the day he was suddenly gone from their lives.
It had been such a good day too. It was sunny and warm. Sasuke had begged their father to let them go to the beach. After a brief scolding for whining, their father had allowed it. Itachi had taught Sasuke how to swim that day. Or maybe the word was forced, since he basically tossed him into the water and told him to paddle. It might seem cruel to some to do that to a 7 year old, but that was the way he was taught, and so he did the same with him. Besides, Sasuke had fun.
Unfortunately the smiles upon both their faces were lost, maybe forever, by what they saw when they opened the door to their home.
Their beautiful mother was face down in her own blood. Their father had dragged himself as far as he could before his damaged body gave in. He was only maybe a foot from the phone.
The murderer was never found.
Sasuke didn't speak a word for a year, he was so traumatized. And himself? He became as cold as ice. It was the only way. He buried his emotions and made plans for him and his little brother. As soon as he finished school, he joined the police academy. He vowed to continue the tradition that had been passed down by each generation of Uchiha. To be part of the police force.
And now here he was, captain of the violent crimes division. The youngest ever. Part of it was due to his name and reputation, part of it was because no one else could deal with the job for very long. Like his father, he had the ability to detach his emotions. It was easier to do the job that way.
The ring of a cell phone shook Itachi from his thoughts.
"You need to come down to Maple and Grand right now."
"What's wrong?" Itachi was on his guard now. No one asked him to come to a crime scene unless it was very very bad.
"There's been another one."
Kisame didn't have to say anything else.
"I'll be right there."
Detective Kisame Hoshigaki flipped his phone closed and looked at his partner.
"Well?" His partner, Detective Zabuza Momochi asked.
"He's on his way."
The two were more than partners actually. They were cousins...both tall and muscular. Criminals were scared to death of the two, for their physical statures were very intimidating, as well as the fact that they had built up quite a reputation during their stint in the Organized Crime division. But deep down they were soft-hearted. And as they looked down at the blond haired man who was just getting strapped into a stretcher, they felt pity for what he had gone through.
Zabuza sighed. "Poor kid."
Kisame nodded in agreement. "Yeah."
Five minutes later they saw their captain walking towards them. While nowhere near as big, he was just as intimidating. His black trench coat floated a bit behind him as he walked and the moonlight highlighted his pale skin and his long glossy black hair tied neatly in back. But the thing even the cousins were most intimidated by were his eyes. They were so cold and dark, with flecks of red in them. And if you crossed him, the eyes seemed to turn red like blood. It scared the hell out of them.
"Kisame...Zabuza." The partners nodded at Itachi. "You know, you called me away from my cushy desk job into the cold night air?" Itachi asked.
"Get off it boss. You know you hate sitting behind a desk." Kisame replied although without the vicious grin he was known for. It clued Itachi in to how bad this really was.
"Yes, I do. Now, give me details detective."
"The man in that ambulance..." Zabuza answered nodding towards the ambulance that was just driving away.
"This one was left alive." Itachi's eyes widened slightly. This could be a huge break for their department. They badly needed one.
"He's still alive?"
"Yes...but he's in bad shape."
"And he has that same mark, just like the rest." Kisame added.
"Hn." That mark was basically a burn, a branding of property in the shape of a fox head. It's been happening since Itachi had been a rookie. Maybe even before. Every so often, a person would turn up either dead or so badly worked over that they wished they were dead. And each one had a mark somewhere on their body – hand, wrist, neck, chest, arm – it was the offender's calling card. It was the only piece of evidence they could ever get. The crime scenes were always squeaky clean, there were no residue, fingerprints, hair samples, DNA, nothing.
And the few who lived long enough after the attack were too traumatized and brutally screwed with to ever tell anything.
"Anything else?" Itachi asked while he turned over the information in his mind.
"Just this." Kisame handed him a bag that contained a wallet, keys, phone and an iPod. Itachi took the bag and turned away, walking back toward his car.
"Konoha General...that's where the ambulance is heading." Zabuza added as their boss walked away. Itachi nodded and gave a little wave.
Zabuza glanced at his cousin. "I know he's your friend and all, but man, he's downright scary."
Kisame flashed him a toothy grin.
Flashing a badge, Itachi asked for information on the person who was just admitted, via the ambulance still sitting idle outside the emergency room doors.
"They just took him into the O.R. It will probably be a while." The pink haired receptionist popped her gum and just barely refrained from looking the hot guy up and down. As gorgeous as he was, he looked way too scary. Itachi really couldn't help but do a double take at the girl's hair color, he just knew it had to be dyed. This new generation was just strange...who would really want to have pink hair?
"I shall wait. I need to speak with whomever his surgeon will be as soon as possible."
"Alright. You can sit down there by those double doors. The surgeon has to come out through there."
"Hn." He nodded in thanks and went the way she directed and sat in the first chair. Pulling on a pair of plastic gloves he grabbed from his glove compartment, he opened the bag that was given to him by Kisame. First he pulled out the wallet. It was a standard folding leather wallet. He found the license in the first pocket.
Name: Naruto Uzumaki
Birthdate: October 10, 1986
'Same age as Sasuke.' For some reason, that thought bothered him. Moving on...
Weight: 170 lbs
Address: 1206 W. Maple Street, Apt. 3B
Well, he sure wasn't from the greatest neighborhood. It was the seedier section of Konoha. Although it was only 10 minutes from the station, the station was considered uptown...closer to the heart of Konoha, where the Hokage Towers – the most expensive condominiums in the city – stood tall.
He rifled through the rest of the wallet. It didn't have much, the usual credit cards, insurance, a few dollars...
One thing did catch his eye, though. A picture, crinkled up and faded with time, showing a blond haired man and a red haired woman. He assumed they were his parents. He looked through the wallet again for a possible contact. Nothing. He dropped the wallet back in the bag and grabbed the phone. Finding the contacts, he scrolled through hoping maybe they could give him a clue. Suddenly he thought of something and checked the list of speed dials. It gave him four contacts. Someone named Iruka topped the list, followed by Gaara, Kiba, and Konohamaru. He looked at the double doors for a moment. No one had come through for a while. Standing up, he walked back past the reception area and out of the sliding doors.
He took a deep breath of fresh air. He always hated the sterile smell of hospitals. It reminded him of the past, when he and Sasuke had to wait for word on their parents.
Looking down at the phone in his gloved hand, he hit the first speed dial and the button for speaker. It rang three times before it connected.
"Is this Iruka?"
"Yes...? Who are you? Where is my son? What are you doing on his phone?" Son? Itachi thought about the picture. Blond hair, blue eyes. At least he could attach a name to a face now.
"This is Captain Itachi Uchiha of the Konoha Police Department. I regret to inform you that there has been an accident with your son."
"Oh god...what happened? Is he ok? Oh please, let him be ok." Itachi paused at the panicked voice. He shuddered. A vision of his panicked self of the past flitted through his head. 'Stop it! Not now.'
"I think you better come to Konoha General." He heard a gasp on the other end, but went on. "I'll be able to give you more details when you get here."
"Just tell me he's ok...please..."
Itachi swallowed. "He's alive..." 'At least for right now.'
The glass doors slid open as a visibly frazzled brown haired man walked through. He went to the reception desk in a panic.
"Can I help you?" the girl asked.
"Yes...I need to know about my son. His name is Naruto. Naruto Uzumaki." As soon as Sakura heard the name, her face turned sympathetic.
"He's still in surgery. If you have a seat, I'll make sure the surgeon sees you as soon as he or she is finished." Iruka wanted to scream at the frustration of having to wait for word, but he just nodded.
He walked down the hall to where the double doors were. He looked through the old somewhat blurred windows but couldn't see anything. With a sigh he sat down and put his face in his hands.
Itachi watched the pony-tailed stranger impassively. He must be waiting for someone in surgery as well. Whoever he was, he seemed to be an emotional wreck.
When Iruka finally got at least a shaky hold on his turbulent emotions, he looked up and glanced at his surroundings. Next to him was a striking dark haired male in a black suit and black trench coat. He turned his eyes downward, not wanting to be caught staring – although it was almost impossible not to. It was only when he turned his attention to the ziploc bag hanging loosely from the pale hands that he gasped.
There was no one else in all of Konoha who had an orange iPod.
"E-Excuse me...Are you Captain Uchiha?" Cold dark eyes turned toward him.
"I'm Iruka Umino."
Itachi raised a brow at the dark haired man. Well this was unexpected... He had already categorized the Iruka in his head as a blond...not this man with a scar across his nose, and a dark haired high ponytail. His last name was different from the victim.
Silence reigned while they both took a moment to observe each other. Iruka figured if he was a lesser man, he would probably shrink back from the police captain. He was quite the daunting figure.
Itachi was still trying to get over the fact that his assumption was very much wrong. But he couldn't help thinking that the crumpled photograph was important. He wasn't sure why? Maybe it was a sixth sense or something. But he wouldn't let it go yet.
"What happened to Naruto?" Itachi looked up at the distraught parent.
He took a deep breath before putting on his blank face and speaking in a detached manner. "Dispatch received a call about 9:15 p.m. about an injured man on Maple and Grand. Your son was found there unresponsive and beaten badly. That's all I can tell you at this moment."
Iruka nodded and took a moment to digest the information.
"Mr. Umino, do you know of anyone that might have wanted to hurt your son for any reason?" Itachi asked this question already knowing the answer would be of the negative, but it was procedure.
"No...Naruto doesn't have a mean bone in his body. Everybody loves him."
"Any enemies, people he owed anything to, anyone he may have gotten into an argument with?"
"No, none at all. Since the day I met him, he has shown this uncanny ability to make friends even with the most antisocial individuals."
Itachi caught the strange statement and called Iruka on it. "Since the day you met?"
"Oh...yes...I guess I should explain." Iruka rubbed the back of his head with a hand and gave a sheepish sort of smile. "I adopted Naruto when he was thirteen years old. I work at Konoha West Academy as a teacher. He was one of the orphans in my class that year. He was on the verge of being sent back to the orphanage by his last foster parents who couldn't deal with his hyper nature and tendency to get into fights anymore. But there was something about him. I couldn't allow the boy to end up back there so I took him in."
Itachi listened intently. Now things made a bit more sense in his logical head. It had been bothering him. He didn't like being wrong.
"What do you mean there was something about him?"
"Well, you'd have to see it to know what I mean, but Naruto is special. As I said earlier, he has an uncanny ability to make friends. Despite the hard life he's had, moving from home to home with families that didn't care or didn't want to be bothered, he still smiles and tries to look on the bright side. His cheery disposition, and his loyalty have slowly brought him a variety of friends."
"He has three other names besides yours on speed dial. Gaara, Kiba and Konohamaru."
"Ah yes. Konohamaru is another orphan like him. Naruto kind of took the boy under his wing as a younger brother. He just started university this fall and they keep in touch. Kiba is Naruto's good friend. They've known each other since they were eight and were in the same class. Gaara...he's Naruto's best friend. The man is as antisocial as they come unless he's with Naruto. They bonded over mutual bad life experiences. Gaara's an orphan as well. His own father tried to have him killed. He practically visualizes the definition of a homicidal maniac, but somehow he connected with my son. In fact, I haven't even called him yet. He'll probably speed here all the way from Suna as soon as he hears."
Itachi nodded. This man sure could talk. But he figured maybe he shouldn't complain. At least the conversation was informative and it made the time go by faster. He glanced down at the picture in the bag next to the wallet. Well, it was worth a shot.
"Mr. Umino, do you have any idea who the people in this picture are?" Iruka nodded.
"Of course. Those are his birth parents."
"Can you tell me anything about them?"
"Not much. They died when Naruto was a young child. Beyond that, I don't know. He won't talk about it. He's gone to therapy and has had multiple counselors, but he won't say a word about his memories of his parents, if he has any at all."
Itachi found that interesting. He'll definitely make sure to have Shikamaru do some digging to find out more about Naruto's parents.
Before anything more could be said, a fatigued looking female doctor walked through the door. Both Iruka and Itachi stood.
Pulling down her mask she ran a hand over her weary face and smiled sympathetically. "You're both here for Naruto Uzumaki?" She asked.
"Yes." Itachi's cold voice answered before Iruka could get a word in. "I am Captain Itachi Uchiha. This is Iruka Umino, the man's father."
"Ah. My name is Tsunade." She sat down wearily and brushed some errant blonde tendrils from her face. They sat as well. "I performed the surgery on Mr. Uzumaki."
Iruka steeled himself for the bad news. It had to be bad...she hadn't smiled yet.
"First, I should say that he has been stabilized. He is in critical condition, but I believe he will survive." Iruka let out the breath he had been holding.
"When will I be able to speak with him?" Itachi asked. Hazel eyes moved from Iruka's face to his.
"You won't. He's in a coma. As you know, with these types of things, one can never know when the patient will awaken." Itachi wasn't happy with that bit of news. He was hoping to get a chance to talk to the victim sooner rather than later. But he knew the doctor was right...there was no use pressing matters. He nodded in understanding.
"How bad is he?" Iruka asked, his voice slightly shaking. Tsunade took a deep breath. She felt for the man. She was hard pressed to think of another instance of such brutal violence.
"I won't mince words with you Mr. Umino. It's bad...very bad." Iruka nodded at her to continue. "When he came in here, he had all kinds of broken bones – fingers, wrists, one arm, various ribs, and one leg. He bled from various stab wounds, some cuts were deliberately made from one stab wound to the next." She stopped for a moment and swallowed.
Iruka had tears in his eyes just knowing that his son had suffered so much. He knew she wasn't done though, so he took a deep breath of his own and waited for her to continue.
"Even if he awakens soon, he won't be talking. His vocal cords were damaged. Nothing permanent, but it will be at least a while before he gets his voice back completely. He also had a strange mark on the inside of the wrist that wasn't broken."
"It looked like the head of a fox?" Itachi asked, already knowing the answer.
"Yes...exactly. I healed it the best I could. The scar will probably be there forever. So will many of the others. But of course, what I don't know is how much scarring their might be mentally. Only he knows exactly what happened and who knows if he'll be able to deal with it when he awakens."
"Can I see him?" Iruka asked hopefully.
"Only for a moment. We just put him in ICU." Iruka nodded and gave her a slight smile.
"Thank you for saving him."
Tsunade looked at Iruka, and then at the officer. "Don't thank me yet."
Iruka stood at the foot of the bed, close to losing it from just seeing his sweet son hooked up to so many machines and tubes and wrapped in casts in different places. Even though he knew his son was in a coma, he still couldn't help but imagine the pain he must be in.
Tsunade smiled softly at the caring man and gave his shoulder a squeeze. "Don't worry. We'll take care of him." she said softly. "And you'll be able to sit with him tomorrow, if you like." Iruka smiled in thanks and nodded.
Itachi looked at the young man who looked to be so peacefully asleep. No matter how much he tried to stay detached, his mind kept going back to the fact that he was the same age as Sasuke. It could've been him sitting here. How could someone be so brutal to a person? He looked at the man's face and saw a mirror image of the man in the picture. Definitely father and son. He hoped, not just for his case, but also for his own sanity's sake, that Naruto Uzumaki lived through this.
He also hoped that Iruka was right about the blond. He was going to need all the optimism possible to get through this.
Iruka and Itachi left the ICU together and rode the elevator back down to the emergency room.
"Mr. Umino, do you have a recent picture of Naruto that I can have?" Iruka opened his wallet and pulled out a picture of a grinning Naruto.
"This is from about two years ago. It's the last pictures he's taken."
Itachi took the picture and placed it in the bag with the other items. "I'll be in touch as soon as we have any more information. Here is my card." Itachi held the card out to Iruka. Iruka took the card and briefly looked it over. "If you have any other information that you can give me, no matter how trivial, please call me."
The elevator doors opened. Iruka gave Itachi a slight nod before leaving. Itachi stopped outside and made another phone call.
"Shikamaru, I need some help."
"Again? Don't you know what time it is? I should be at home already, but I'm still here working. Damn troublesome Uchiha. You're always giving me more work."
Itachi gave a light chuckle, completely ignoring the other man's griping. "I'll be right over."
a/n: Sad start. I seem to do that a lot. I really have to pick a new guy to screw over. Naruto always seems to be the person in trouble in my fics. Ah well, I hope you enjoyed the beginning and please review. I'd love you forever if you do.