Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Masashi Kishimoto.
Author's Note: Thank you once again to all who reviewed. It really motivated me to continue this story and update earlier for everyone. Here's the next chapter. Sorry it took a while. Enjoy.
/ HUNTED /
"Do you want fries with that?" Naruto asked, trying not to gag on the smell of grilled meat, fried onions and burnt coffee. The trash food people sold each other was a far cry from the organic diet he'd been fed at the laboratory.
"Just gimme what I asked for."
Naruto kept his eyes down and took a deep breath. He never could figure out why the fast food chains were so popular. Some humans would eat anything.
"Hey asshole, make that sometime today."
Seven dollars an hour for this. Fuck it! I should walk the hell out, my days are numbered anyway.
The CEO's at Big Burgers were planning to install touch-screen kiosks to handle the cashier duties, making him and the rest of the coworkers obsolete. It didn't matter. He'd be fired long before the transition. It was only a matter of time before the company figured out he's given them a bogus social security number.
He longed for his old job at the quarry, working outside and only Teuchi to answer to.
"Cheer up! It might never happen again."
Naruto froze. The gentle voice sent a shiver along his spine. He looked up from the computer where he'd been punching in orders and made eye contact with a pair of striking onyx colored eyes and it somehow reminded him of his mother.
His heart twisted. The memories were merciless, triggered by a kind look, or a sympathetic word, striking at odd times, usually when he was least prepared for it.
But the bad memories surfaced as well. He'd left the old life behind him, but he was still held prisomer by the years of abuse and conditioning. If only he could forget. . .
"Burger and fries."
Naruto's lips drew tight in a soundless snarl. It was the suit, the same guy who'd been in every day this week. He always sat at the same table, watching every move Naruto made. Nobody came here in a suit. If this man was a PI, he needed a new line of work.
The smile on his customer's face faltered. "Is there a problem?"
Naruto snorted. If you only knew..
"No problem. That'll be four seventy eight." Naruto reached for the ten in the man's hand. The brush of the stranger's fingers against his set off shock waves and he pulled his hand away as if he'd been burned on the grill, which he had been, many times. His hands were constantly covered with Band-Aids so no one would notice how quickly he healed.
He'd never reacted like this before, not to anyone. Of course, for years, the sex suppressants had put a lid on his libido. After his escape, he'd awakened in somebody's barn with his first real morning wood in years, and realized the drugs hadn't left any residual effects. Rediscovering the joy of jacking-off gave him sexual release. He couldn't afford to let anyone close ; hell, he wouldn't know what to do with someone else.
Hitchhiking across the country taught him a lot he hadn't learn from books and computers. He'd met a lot of truck drivers, worked a lot of odd jobs, and learned how to take care of himself. He had to, because for the first time in his life, nobody told him when to eat, when to sleep, when to pee. Being his own master felt good, damn good, except when he got lonely.
All his life, he'd lived in solitude and thought he was immune to feeling lonely. Yet now he felt more cut off than ever.
It was sobering to look around and realize that although he was surrounded by people, not one of them was like him. He often thought about the others, the ones he left behind.
Not the scientists or the guards or even his father but the others like him. He worried about them, his motherless brothers. What happened to them? What happened to Gaara?
He'd never know for sure. He couldn't afford a TV so he spent his free time in the library and a helpful librarian had taught him how to use the computers.
He'd checked the archives for back issues of the newspapers but he'd only found a small item about a gas explosion at a military facility in the Midwest. Could it have been the laboratory? He'd never know for sure. The experiments were all cloak and dagger, classified top secret.
He hoped all the others escaped, saved themselves and managed to make a new life the way he had. It might not be much of a life, but at least he was free and he'd never go back. If that meant hiding and being constantly on the move, so be it. If it meant dying . . . well, that was all right, too. Better than going back there.
His customer's order came out and he slid the tray across the counter.
The man offered an uncertain smile. "Thanks."
Naruto's lips parted with surprise, and then smiled back. "You're welcome."
The man responded with a devastating grin that set Naruto's pulse racing. His cock wanted to stand up and crow. Something about this guy just got under his skin.
He tamped down his feelings. In his world thinking like that could get him killed. He couldn't let his guard down for even a second.
But damn, his customer was beautiful. It couldn't hurt to look. This guy could inspire some seriously wet dreams. Despite the harsh treatment he'd received at the hands of men, it was always the image of a faceless, but definitely hard, masculine body, that gotten him off when he masturbated. Females just didn't attract him physically.
Up until six months, the only woman he'd been around was his mother. He'd met a few women while travelling, the ones who weren't afraid to pick up a hitch-hiker or hire him to do odd jobs around the house. A few had even hinted they wouldn't mind getting to know him better, but he kept them all in arm's length.
Caught up in his thoughts, he forgot the customer's change and had to call him back. "Wait."
The man turned, easing his weight from one foot to another, and cocked an eyebrow. Nauto's gaze shifted below the belt and his breath caught at the way the raven haired man filled out his slacks. The man was maybe five-ten and slender, but the bulge at his crotch revealed a good-sized package and had Naruto licking his lips and wondering what might have inspired the impressive erection.
The customer cleared his throat and Naruto looked up, his face flaming with heat.
"Uh… You forgot your change."
"Keep it." Those eyes radiated a message that took Naruto's breath away, before the man turned, running a hand through his unruly hair.
Naruto imagined the raven strands of hair leaning over him and he knew those luscious lips would feel so much better than dimly-remembered kisses from his mother.
His jeans were becoming uncomfortably tight. He reached down and adjusted them as he watched the stranger's retreating back and fine ass. Slipping into a chair, the customer unwrapped his burger and took a bite. Naruto couldn't take his eyes off the man's mouth. Chewing had never looked so sexy before.
"Hey buddy, I only get a half hour for lunch." A sharp sarcastic voice interrupted Naruto's drooling inspection and he tore his gaze away and got back to work. It took a real effort not to look at the raven-haired man every chance he got. His eyes kept straying to the table in the center of the room, and every time they did, those incredible onyx eyes were staring right back at him.
Finally, the man flashed a lop-sided grin across the room, and nodded toward the door, as if to say, meet me outside. Naruto's heart skipped a beat and he looked away pretending he hadn't seen him. Was this guy putting him on? Or flirting? With him?
He had no clue and he didn't want one. He didn't dare want anything like that.
Friends and lovers were not in his future. He had no business bringing anyone into a life fraught with peril. He was a wanted man. He had no idea if his father had died in the fire, but if the old man was still alive, he would move heaven and earth to get Naruto back.
His creations, especially the flawed prototypes like Naruto, were not meant to be walking around in the general population. He could only imagine the price on his head. Bounty hunters were probably combing the country looking for him.
His customer could be one of them, acting all nice and friendly just to gain his confidence. Why else would the man be in here every day? And if Naruto were stupid enough to take the bait, he'd walk right into a trap.
Yeah, it was time to move on. This would be his last shift in Big Burgers.
Sasuke was still hungry when he walked out of the restaurant. He'd barely forced down half of his greasy burger, and only so he'd have an excuse to take up a table.
Big-Burgers had to be the filthiest fast food joint around, maybe in the country. The customers were pigs and the management didn't seem to pay for cleanup. Discarded bags and burger wrappers always littered the tables and squashed chips crunched underfoot.
He sighed. The things I do for lust. Still it had to be fate that brought him in contact with the most attractive man he'd met in a long time.
A few days ago, he'd been in the park looking for Kakashi, but it started raining and he took cover in Big Burgers. The hot guy behind the counter was a complete surprise. That man could perk up anyone's spirits . . . and maybe a few other things as well. The blonde God was a powerful incentive to eat at the greasy spoon. And when the rain continued through the week, Sasuke found himself going back to ogle the man.
Every time he'd glanced up at the cashier, blue eyes stared back at him. He could drown in those eyes. And the muscles under the Big Burgers shirt had to be unbelievable. The rest of the man's body was hidden behind the counter, but he had no doubt the view below the waist would be every bit as delectable as what he saw above.
Why was he working in a fast food joint? Surely, he could get a better job. Hell, he could be on the cover of a magazine. Sasuke had to know this guy's story.
This guy walked a narrow line between handsome and rough, and Sasuke found the combination extremely sexy. This rough around the edges diamond made him want to throw good sense right out the window. But rough always got into trouble. Did he want to go there again? With this guy?
Unfortunately, the object of his desire didn't seem interested in making a connection. Shy? Or not into guys? Unless he was badly mistaken, he'd bet on shy.
He could have stared at the cashier all day, but duty called. He still had a job to worry about, and there was always tomorrow.
The sun was out and uncomfortably warm, so Sasuke removed the jacket and slung it over his shoulder. Hoping to touch base with Kakashi on his way back, he decided to walk through the park.