Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by Masashi Kishimoto. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Warnings: Slash: Male homosexual relationships, adult language, and sexual situations.
The Hand That Feeds
The room was dark, something the young man was very much accustomed to. He was led to a comfortable-looking chair, placed before a softly lit stage, barely illuminated by the red and pink glow. Three other chairs were beside his, set aside for his companions – at least, the companions that mattered.
The three siblings sunk into their own chairs, silence reining among them. They all ignored the chatter of those behind them, those who had to stand. They had only been brought along because they would whine if they found out the others attended a pet shop without them.
Uchiha Sasuke rolled his eyes as Yamanaka Ino and Haruno Sakura knelt on either side of him.
They had long given up their pursuit of him romantically and were focused instead on trying to work their way into his inner circle of friends in order to become more renowned.
After all, even though he was only eighteen, Sasuke was one of the richest and most well-known businessmen in all of Fire Country. Unfortunately for either Ino or Sakura, Sasuke didn't have an 'inner circle' of friends. He did however have one friend. Sabaku no Gaara.
Said redhead was seated with his siblings. They were all powerful and influential in their own right, and together, they were almost as powerful as Sasuke was alone – almost.
"Ladies and Gentlemen," the oily voice rang throughout the room from a podium beside the stage, "welcome. We know you are busy, so let's begin straight away, shall we?"
A light came up to show the speaker. He was young, with grey hair pulled back into a ponytail. The light bounced off his glasses, giving it a malicious glint.
"My name is Yakushi Kabuto, and I shall be your host tonight, here at Orochimaru's Pet Shop," he continued. "Now let's start the auction."
The light dimmed slightly and the red and pinks of the stage became more prominent. A cat was led on, approximately in his late twenties. It was customary to show the eldest pets first, or the ones deemed 'least desirable' for whatever reason.
The man strode straight to the centre of the stage, sinking to his knees obediently. He had longish brown hair, pulled back away from his dark-skinned face, and a well-shaped body, shown through the light gossamer robes all pets on display wore. However, a large cut across his nose seemed to be the reason he had stayed for so long. His brown cat ears twitched slightly as if he could hear Sasuke's thoughts, and his sleek tail wound tighter around himself. Behind his chair, Sasuke felt Kakashi shuffle slightly. He ignored it. Kakashi wasn't here for a pet.
"Umino Iruka, age twenty-eight," Kabuto began. "Species: Feline. A hard worker and att-"
"Enough," Sasuke interrupted. "Anyone interested?"
There was silence except for the shuffling behind him. Sasuke waved his hand slightly and Iruka was led straight off. Kabuto didn't waste any time. A new pet was brought out straight away.
She was stunning, with indigo hair that fell past her shoulders, pale ears and a pale tail. Her eyes were a milky white that remained locked on the ground as she kneeled.
"Hyuuga Hinata, age seventeen," Kabuto stated. "Species: Mouse. She is attractive, young, and well broken in. Note she won't meet your gaze."
"Hmm…" one of Sasuke's guests stepped forward. His eyes were hidden behind dark glasses, even in the dark room. A high collar concealed his face. Aburame Shino strode up towards the stage, and Hinata rose immediately. She spun in a slow circle, allowing Shino to see her from every side, as she was instructed to.
Shino turned back to the group, and Sasuke nodded. Gaara and his siblings followed suit; none of them wanted the mouse. Shino nodded in return before turning back to Kabuto.
"I'll consider her," was all he said. With that, he strode back to stand behind Temari, eyes watching as the mouse was led away.
The show continued. The next to be led out raised eyebrows all over. He was dressed in green, practically bouncing, and with no physical animal characteristics to be seen. He grinned at them all, bright teeth sparkling as he knelt.
"Rock Lee, age eighteen," Kabuto droned. "Species: Amphibian – frog, to be exact. He is energetic, eager, and enthusiastic."
"Oh!" Sakura cried as she rose from her place beside Sasuke. "Isn't he adorable?"
Rock Lee flashed her a bright grin before a long tongue came out to lap at the air. Ino paled beside Sasuke, but Sakura simply laughed with delight. Sasuke spotted Kabuto making note of something before Rock Lee was led away and Sakura returned to the floor.
The next to be brought on was a large, hulking lad, ears pointing up and a tail swishing behind him. He held a bag of potato chips.
"Akimichi Chouji, age sixteen," he began. "Species: Pony. He is strong, loy – how the hell did he get those chips?"
Before the food could be taken from the cheerful pony Ino swept forward, obviously trying to appear ladylike. Chouji struggled up from his knees as she approached, circling obediently. Ino eyed him critically before nodding and turning to Kabuto.
"He seems to be in good shape," she announced. Pfft. Like she'd know. "If I see none better I'll take him!"
Kabuto jotted something down before nodding. Chouji plodded off and Kabuto stopped for a moment, talking to someone offstage heatedly. Sasuke turned to his friend.
"See anything you like?" he asked, knowing the answer. Gaara shook his head, turning to his sibling. Both echoed the movement.
"We have saved those of the highest class for last," Kabuto called out. Sasuke turned his attention back to the stage. At a signal a lazy-looking cat was dragged out, yawning behind his hand. He practically dropped to his knees, eyelids dropping as his bushy tail wrapped around himself.
"Nara Shikamaru, age seventeen," Kabuto announced. "Species: Cat."
"How is this-" Sasuke gestured to the cat whom he was sure was asleep. "High class?"
Kabuto smirked, as if he had been waiting for the question.
"Shikamaru has an IQ of over two hundred," he informed them. "He is level-headed, smart, and calm… and like any cat, he can sleep up to eighteen hours a day."
"How interesting," Temari's drawl sounded. "It could be fun, whipping him into shape."
"Of course, lady," Kabuto agreed. "A right challenge."
"Done!" she announced as she clapped her hands together. "I'll teach that cat how to play."
Shikamaru was led off, but not before he mumbled something that sounded suspiciously like "Troublesome woman…"
"This is boring," Kankuro announced suddenly. "I want something more animalistic."
Sasuke privately agreed. They were all too passive.
"As you wish," Kabuto agreed with a smirk. With a flick of his wrist another pet was bought out, a large dog. His ears, tail and hair were all scruffy and brown. Two red, fang-like marks ran down his cheeks.
"Inuzuka Kiba, age seventeen. Species: Dog."
He was definitely wilder than the others. His broad shoulders and muscles spoke of a fighter, and he growled whenever a trainer touched him. However, he still came short of Sasuke's standards.
"That's more like it," Kankuro said with a grin. "I'll take the mutt."
Kiba let out a slight growl at being called a mutt but Kabuto ignored it. Once the dog was gone Kabuto turned his eye on Sasuke and Gaara.
"I do believe we have one more that may suit your finer tastes…" he said slowly. "Bring him out!"
The next creature that was led on stage was gorgeous, no doubt. He had long brown hair, the same colour as the ears that poked through it, and a large bushy tail that stood straight up. His eyes were milky, just like Hinata's, but the way he walked showed a certain air of power and control.
Sasuke just couldn't get passed the eyes though.
"Hyuuga Neji, age eighteen," Kabuto announced gleefully. "Species: Squirrel. As you can see, Neji is-"
"What is the point," Sasuke interrupted, "of having a blind pet?"
"Well, sir," Kabuto began, "he will never meet your eye, that's a start, secondly-"
Sasuke drowned him out and looked the squirrel over. Neji seemed to be staring at Gaara, who was staring right back. Those eyes – the squirrel could still see, Sasuke was sure of it.
"I'll take him," Gaara's voice was cool and gravely. Kabuto blinked and stopped mid-rant before nodding. Neji was led off, but he maintained eye contact with Gaara until the last second.
"Well, this is interesting," Sasuke mused. "I heard this place had a reputation of finding a pet for anyone."
"We are sorry, sir," Kabuto assured him. "Perhaps when we have new sto-"
"There, there, Kabuto," a purely silk voice purred, "no need to make him wait for new stock. I'm sure we'll find him something."
Sasuke turned to see the speaker and froze. Surely this man had to be part-snake. His long hair dusted his shoulders, framing a pale face with glittering, golden eyes.
"My name is Orochimaru," the man continued as he strode straight to the stage. "I'm the owner here."
Before Sasuke could speak the snake-man turned back to Kabuto, who seemed to be watching him adoringly.
"Bring out Naruto," he ordered. That snapped Kabuto from his haze.
"Na-Naruto?" he stuttered. "Are yo-you sur-"
"Yes," Orochimaru hissed. Kabuto nodded before turning to signal someone. Orochimaru's eyes returned to Sasuke and he felt revulsion at what he saw there.
However, their gaze was broken as a loud shriek was heard and then continued to increase in volume. Soon the source became apparent as a shrieking pet was pulled onto the stage. He was held by a pair of twins who shoved him hard in order to get him to his knees.
"Uzumaki Naruto, age seventeen. Species: Fox."
The golden fox was attacking the twins again, sinking pearly white teeth into a restraining hand while a fluffy golden tail wrapped around strong legs. Another hand yanked on a fistful of sunshine hair and Naruto let out a whine, his golden ears flattening against his head. The blond pouted, his whisker-scratched cheeks scrunching up.
Sasuke was captivated. Never had he seen such a beautiful creature. Even sweating from the fight with torn robes, the fox was still stunning.
Best of all, he wasn't the least bit docile.
Once Naruto spotted Orochimaru he fell silent, head falling forward as he sat still. Sasuke was almost disappointed at the fox's sudden obedience. He was obviously scared of the snake-man. Then again, the snake-man was rather freaky.
Before Sasuke knew what was happening he was standing before Naruto, eyes tracing his slender body. Sasuke was about to declare him a failure when he spotted the fox's fist, clenched tightly beside his knees. He was holding it in. Sasuke didn't like that. He wanted to break the fox's control.
"How pathetic you are, down on the ground. Your knees must ache from the hard floor, yet you can't get up." Sasuke found himself saying as he leaned in. "You are nothing more than a slave, waiting to be bought. You are nothing, until you are bought. Then, you might go on being nothing, depending on how your new master treats you, but of course, what is worse? Being nothing and unnoticed, or being something and very noticed…"
Sasuke saw a shiver run through the fox at the implications of his words. He couldn't stop though. He kept talking, even as Naruto began to tremble.
"So what will it be, Naruto? Will you stay down on your knees, on the hard ground with your hard life? Or will you bite the hand that feeds you? Will you chew until it bleeds? Will you get up off your knees?" (1)
He launched himself at Sasuke, sending them both flying to the ground. As the fox's slender body began to wrap around his, along with his tail, Sasuke quickly used his superior height, age and weight in order to roll them, pinning Naruto beneath him. Naruto bared his teeth up at Sasuke, looking him straight in the eye.
The whole room was silent. A pet had attacked a guest. A pet had attacked a rich guest.
Orochimaru was ruined. Sasuke was going to have him shut down.
Sasuke looked up at Kabuto, a smirk curving onto his face as he said the fateful words.
"I'll take him."
(1) Basically, exact lyrics from 'The Hand That Feeds' by Nine Inch Nails
Ok! The poll has spoken!! 'The Cheshire Cat' is going to have priority. So I have no idea when this one will be updated.