Disclaimer– We do not own Naruto or any of its characters nor are we making any money off these writings.
Warnings– Well boys loving other boys, language of the naughty variety, some violence and a little angst.
This is a collab between Trulywicked and Acherona.
Deep in the cargo hold of a large slave ship an oddly elegant, incredibly beautiful man sat, chained to the walls, crowded in with a thousand other stinking, sweating bodies that likely had gone without a bath much longer than he had and he'd not bathed for a week, not since he'd been abducted. His normally silky smooth inky black hair was clumped together with sweat and dirt and hung limply down his back and around his shoulders. His ivory skin was smudged with dirt and soot and likely something unmentionable, he wasn't sure what was in that shit he was made to shovel into the ship's steam engine during the few hours each day he got out of the hold. Unlike the others here his eyes weren't hollow with hopelessness or resignation. The midnight eyes glittered with pride and banked fury as he looked around him at the squalid conditions.
He wasn't angry for himself so much; he was in a better condition than any of the people in here and could weather it all better. No he was furious on behalf of the people he shared this cargo hold with. They were all being taken to some unknown port where they'd be sold to whoever could afford the price and to the men who operated this ship they were only commodities to be bought and sold.
For Itachi Uchiha, the now former and exiled crown prince of the Uchiha Empire, it was appalling. Most of these people had been stolen walking down the streets and even from their own beds, places they should have been safe, by agents of the nobles in his own empire. His elegant long fingers curled into fists. These were his people; people his family and the nobles should be protectingyet the corrupt nobles took advantage of the unfortunate and sold them like they were firewood. Itachi had tried to expose them, tried to put a stop to this, and they'd used their slimy influence to have him framed for the murder of a magistrate's son. Since his parents loved him and didn't wish for him to be executed, they'd had him exiled and had set him on a steam coach to the nearest port, bound for a ship that would take him to the Konoha Empire.
Unfortunately the nobles knew better than to let him get to such allies and had arranged for him to be rendered unconscious and when he'd woken he'd been here, in the belly of a slave ship and, he glanced down at himself, mostly naked aside from a single set of underwear. He idly wondered what had become of the finely tailored travel outfit he'd been wearing and the gold clockwork on the waistcoat but it didn't really matter. What mattered was formulating a plan to escape from the hold and take over the ship so he could set these people free.
Suddenly a great clang, followed by a huge list that sent them all crashing into the hull and each other, broke him from his thoughts. 'What in the world?'
Pein stood on the deck of his ship the Akatsuki, he braced himself against the rusty steel railing as they rammed the large slaver. Really they were big monsters of ships and that made them such easy pickings. The nobles only cared about the money in their pocket so they had these huge ships built so they could fit more cargoon each run. The ships were big and that made them slow, none of them were any challenge for Akatsuki. When he looked up the hooks and ropes were already in place and his crew waited for the sign to board the ship. He gave a short nod and watched his crew swarm the slaver, both guns and swords ready.
Unholstering his own gun Pein jumped from his sleek ship to the low going monster. He knew the inside of ships like this intimately...After all he'd spent years of his childhood on one as a slave before he managed to escape. His face set in a grim mask Pein got ready to turn this ship upside down. This was one profit the nobles of his corrupt homeland would never see. After taking out all guards and crew members that crossed his path Pein and his crew had finally managed to make their way into the cargo hold. Even though he knew what waited behind the thick steel doors Pein still had to brace himself as he slammed the door open.
The people around Itachi cowered in terror as the door hit the wall. They'd heard the fighting and dying screams and most of those in the hold feared that the pirates, for who else would attack a ship emblazoned with the one of the noble's emblems, were looking for gold and would kill them or worse when they discovered that only human beings were in here. Itachi, however, stood and stepped forward as much as he could chained; to the wall as he was, and looked at the form in the doorway. The light filtering in from behind the unknown man blocked out his features and coloring for the most part but the odd pale blue-gray eyes pierced the darkness of the hold. He was tall and broad, filling the doorway with a power and purpose. Itachi could see the soft glint of brass clockwork on a gun belt cinched around his waist and the pistol and sword in it caught the light lethally. Those eyes seemed to strike something off inside him and made his knees weak with an unknown emotion when they connected with his. He stiffened his knees however and stared right back at the man, tense and ready to defend these innocent people with his life.
Looking around the cargo hold Pein saw the usual scared, tired and cowering mass of people. He hated it. One slave caught his attention though, instead of cowering like the others this one met his gaze without a single trace of fear in them. That was very unusual and Pein found himself intrigued by the unknown man. He walked further into the hold, the heels of his boots clicking against the cold bare floor. Pein hit the switch on the wall which released the chains, making it possible for the chained up people to wiggle out of their holdings.
"We are the crew of the Akatsuki and you are hereby liberated." Pein's voice was cool and detached, he couldn't afford to actually care anymore. "What you do with your new chance at freedom is up to you. You have full responsibility for yourself. The crew on this ship has been dealt with so where you choose to go is also up to you...There's only one rule, you're not allowed to follow our course."
Itachi stood still as the other around him began to chatter at the pirate's words. He considered his options, stay on this ship and endanger the others as the nobles would most definitely be after him, take a life boat and risk the open ocean, or join a pirate crew that had no fear of taking on the nobles. He'd never been one to waffle or waver in decision making and this was a fairly obvious decision so when the pirate turned walk out the door, Itachi was out into the hallway and following him in an instant.
Pein turned around in the narrow hallway of the ship and raised a vivid red, multiply pierced eyebrow at his new shadow. He took in the man's nearly naked form with long limbs and sinewy muscles. Even covered in dirt and grime it was obvious that the man was drop dead gorgeous. "What do you think you're doing?"
"I should think it's obvious. Coming with you." Itachi flicked a clumped bit of hair out of his eyes and studied the pirate more closely now that the light was better. Tanned skin, red hair, and more piercings than Itachi had seen on any one person before in his life he was still oddly beautiful, and utterly unique. The gun belt he'd noticed earlier anchored a dark brown long coat that was unbuttoned and open, revealing the white cotton shirt beneath with the laces slightly undone at the throat. Brown breeches buttoned at the knee and a pair of knee high brown boots with modest heels completed the look. A complete lack of lace or frills spoke of a man who took his job seriously and didn't bother with frippery and the well cared for weapons told Itachi that this was a man who knew his way around a battle.
Pein's lips twitched in amusement as the slave flipped his hair out of his eyes and stood his ground, he could hear Hidan chuckle openly beside him and he sent the silverette a glare that silenced him instantly. Pein could hear the rustle and loud discussions coming from the cargo room and he wanted to get out. They had done what they had set out to do and made a nice little profit of fuel and ammunition out of it, it was never a good idea to linger after the job was done. "I don't think so little rabbit, skip back into your hole with the rest of your kin. I've got no use for you." He turned again and motioned to Hidan for him to move.
Itachi's eyes narrowed and quick as a snake he kicked out and hooked his foot around the redhead pirate's ankle sending him off balance and getting his attention. He smirked at the suspicious glare that was given him. "I would think that a pirate would welcome a skilled fighter and I am a skilled fighter."
The little rabbit was quick on his feet, Pein had to give him that. There weren't many who could surprise him and send him off balance. "Hm, we'll see. You can start by scrubbing the deck I suppose." Pein started to walk again, confident that the little rabbit would follow.
Itachi did follow, amusement plain on his features at the thought of scrubbing the deck. The thought of menial work didn't bother him, it would be an...interesting change to say the least. He tread carefully once on the top deck and looked about for any dead crew members that hadn't yet been stripped so he could get some clothes but even with the careful tread his bare feet found some sharp debris. He hissed a bit and lifted his foot up to scowl at the little bit of glass and copper wire that had sliced into the tender skin.
Hearing the silent hiss Pein turned around and watched the little rabbit drip blood all over the deck. With a sigh he turned around and grabbed the rabbit by an arm and under the knees and hoisted him over his shoulders, if they were to wait for the tenderfoot to make his own way they would never get away. He jumped from the deck of the slaver and on to the Akatsuki and he instantly felt more at ease, his ship was his home, his haven.
Konan came out and eyed Pein and his burden curiously, she had a very nice view of the newcomer's ass from his position of hanging over Pein's shoulder. "What's this captain? Have you brought me a gift?"
"No gift Ko...a deck boy." Pein placed the rabbit back on his feet and grinned at the glare the other sent him. "Find him some clothes will you, we can't have him scrub the deck in his skivvies now can we? He may scare the men."
Itachi lifted a brow. "Well that leaves you out doesn't it?"
"Watch your mouth rabbit, it's not too late to toss you back." Pein's voice was harsh but his eyes glittered as he turned and disappeared below deck.
The brunet turned to the woman who'd asked if he was a gift and bowed. "I am at your tender mercy milady."
Konan laughed throatily and very un-lady like. "Oh there's nothing tender about me newbie...You'll learn that soon enough." She looked him over again. "I think we have most luck raiding Deidara's closet, you seem to be most like him in build...shoes will be more difficult." She reached for him and pulled him along as she stalked towards the cabins with wide strides.
He let her yank him along with no complaint. "As long as my ass is covered and I don't have to worry about glass shredding my feet I'm happy. Though I hope this Deidara is a man and not fond of cross-dressing."
Konan's silence spoke volumes. "Well he is a man...Technically." She yanked him in to a small cabin and began to rummage through a chest on the floor.
"I don't believe I'm going to ask for further explanation." Itachi looked around, it was a simple cabin with two bunk beds on either side and surprisingly rich furnishings. He didn't want to sit down for fear of dirtying the coverlets, he was incredibly filthy. He frowned down at his foot and hoped that the nasty cut from the glass didn't get infected. "Would it be too much to hope for a basin with some clean water and a wash rag?"
Pulling out a pair of black breeches and a well worn shirt that had probably once been white but now was close to gray, it was clean and whole though Konan looked over her shoulder. "You can have fresh water and bandages for the foot, for the rest I'm afraid you have to make do with salt water, fresh water is hard to come by and we have to ration it carefully. She stuffed something glittery and lacy back in the chest and walked to a cupboard at the other end of the small cabin. Konan emerged with a pair of scuffed black boots that had seen better days, they were barely hanging together. "Think you'll fit your feet in these? I'll try to get you a better pair later but for now these will keep your feet from harm."
He judged the size of the shoes and his feet carefully and made calculations. "It'll be a snug fit but they'll work just fine thank you. And I don't mind washing with salt water, I was more worried about infection than cleanliness per se."
"Don't worry, we haven't lost a limb yet...Well we have lost one but not due to infection." Konan smiled brightly and tossed the man the clothes she had dug out. "Follow me and you'll be able to wash up, it's not far."
When they walked out of the cabin they ran in to Pein who held a tiny wooden box in his hands. He pushed it against Itachi. "Here, put this salve on your foot, it'll help it heal faster, you'll be no good to us as an invalid." The redhead turned on his heel again and walked back where he'd come from.
Konan looked after her captain with wide eyes, he was many things but not exactly the sharing and caring type, obviously the newbie had made an impression on him. "Oookay." She said simply and led Itachi to another door that led to a plain washroom. It had a crude shower with a saltwater tank and she gave him a small basin of fresh water along with soap and a wash rag. "Will you be alright to clean up on your own?"
He nodded. "Yes, thank you...Konan was it?"
"Yup, I'm Konan." She started to leave. "I'll be right outside so just holler when you're done...Do you have a name newbie?"
He considered giving her a flash name but his given name wasn't exactly rare so it wouldn't be a dead giveaway and he'd probably find it difficult to answer to another. "My name is Itachi."
"A royal name...Well it will be easy to remember at least. Welcome to the Akatsuki Itachi." Konan closed the door and left Itachi alone.
Itachi stepped into the shower first to scrub all the grime and gunk off and clean his hair, actually moaning at how wonderful it felt to get clean. As much as he wanted to he didn't dawdle and finished quickly, using the fresh water to better clean the cut on his foot before smearing the salve on and bandaging it. It was quick work to dress and wriggle into the boots. He was right about the fit, it was a little snug but nothing too terrible and they would protect his feet which was all that really mattered. He opened the door and prepared to face this new chapter in his life.
Continues in part two…