Crossed Wires

Well. Apparently I'm going to continue it. O.o ATTENTION PLEASE: I only have the vaguest of plots, and I'm still figuring out the details -- so at the moment, I'm just going to post a couple of ficlets in the same universe. If I don't find a good, solid plot, I will probably continue writing random scenes and one-shots anyway, as several people suggested. :)
Main pairing: NaruSasu. I love NaruSasuSaku, but I think in this universe the dynamic is more interesting with just the two boys. Also, I'm getting tired of letting the fandom scare me away from NaruSasu, which was my first ever Naruto pairing. Sakura will still be a close friend, and I will not ever, ever bash her.

Chapter 2 : Sasuke

"How does it feel anyway?" Sasuke asks out of the blue, as he watches Naruto fix the platex cover on his shoulder. The skin tone is a little different from his own, and the quality ... Well let's say platex isn't worth a tenth of what syntheskin would cost to Sasuke, but then he's a bit low on funds at the moment.

Naruto arches an eyebrow at him and hums questioningly, the screwdriver in his mouth wobbling dangerously.

"The syntheskin. Earlier you said it felt almost human. It's supposed to be perfect."

Naruto blinks, then chuckles and pokes at Sasuke's shoulder in various points, glancing at the readings on his handheld datascreen. "How's that feel?"

Naruto, Sasuke thinks with faint annoyance, can read the numbers just fine on his own. Maybe they don't speak to him clearly enough. Maybe he's just weird like that. Sasuke struggles to find an adequate comparison. "Like I'm wearing a space suit."

"Eh, best I could do. Besides I'm not that great at aesthetical details; you should be glad there's not a huge scar or weird folds or anything. Dumb skin joints... Gimme gyros and motors any day," the blond grumbles, furry ears flicking dismissively.

Sasuke ignores his mutterings; by now, he has learned not to pay attention to Naruto's tangents. Or at least pretend like he isn't paying attention. It's hard to tune him out, but that's no reason to encourage him.

"You didn't answer."

"Yeah, still wondering why you're even remembering that. Wanna try to get enough creds to replace the whole thing?"

Sasuke snorts. "I'm not replacing the syntheskin I have. No other material comes even close to offering as much protection."

"Not true. There's that Half-Mithril stuff..."

Sasuke gives him a long, unconvinced look. "... It's armor, not skin."

Naruto snickers, furry ears angling toward Sasuke. "Right. You wouldn't look as pretty with a helmet-head."

Sasuke frowns. He could list the comparatives in speed, mobility, and the ability to blend in -- a few alloys are harder, true, but it means heavier; it would hinder him too much. Besides, he's not a fan of getting stared at. He likes knowing that he's virtually indistinguishable from a real, flesh-and-blood human, he likes trusting in the fact that no one ever guesses.

Okay, it might be because they think he's too much of a dick to be an Artificial Intelligence.

Sasuke just doesn't see why he should make an effort at not seeming cynical and aggressive. He sees things for what they are. Trusting is an unacceptable risk -- unless he has them by the balls, metaphorically or otherwise; and if something is in his way, he removes it, no questions asked. He doesn't see why pretending to be otherwise would make things go more smoothly... Except with sensitive bleeding hearts, and he doesn't want to interact with that kind of naïve person in the first place.

If anything, Naruto has him by the balls, rather than the other way around, and Sasuke doesn't much like it -- he can't stand being forced to rely on people, especially people he doesn't know and who have no legal obligation to do their best for him. But the probability of the furry being dishonest is dropping every hour. If Naruto wanted to hack him or sell him for parts, he would have had many occasions to do so.

Then again, the idiot might simply not be hurting for money, contrary to what his dilapidated junk yard would indicate, so he can actually afford to work for the price of the materials he's using, just to satisfy his curiosity. As unlikely as that seems.

Or he's just waiting for a reply from a potential buyer, and prefers to keep Sasuke functioning in the meantime so he can gather more data.

"Haha. You look like that Frankenstein guy. Who'd have thought there would be Uchihas with such dark skin?"

... or he's just a hyperactive idiot savant.

Sasuke's new temporary arm, the one that isn't his own, is tanned. Not horribly so, but nothing to do with either the delicate rosy color of the platex joints, or his own pale Asian skin.

He flexes it, testing the way it responds. Huh. There's a slight lag, and it's not perfectly symmetrical to his original arm; he has to adjust his movements by a few millimeters. The arm doesn't have blades or the necessary conducts for the Chidori, the syntheskin is an older version than his own and doesn't respond all that well, and the forearm bones had to be readjusted; he can feel the slight bend in the metal. But it will let him go out and find a job, so that he can earn more creds and pay Naruto back, while the furry works on fine-tuning his permanent arm. Then hopefully Sasuke can get a better skin job.

In the meantime, long-sleeved shirts are good, and maybe gloves as well. The patchwork look isn't the best way to pass for a human... Which reminds him of his previous question, still unanswered.

"...In which way is it different from human skin?" he asks again, staring at his new hand.

Naruto blinks at him, scratches at the base of his furry ear. "Ehh. Apart from the 'no moles, no real hairs' thing? Well for one thing it's freaky that you don't have scars -- and I'm not talking huge things across your face, I mean not even a pockmark from a zit or anything..."

"That's a visual clue, not a tactile one; besides I could have had plastic surgery," Sasuke interrupts him impatiently. "To the touch, how is it different?"

"Well. You have veins, or at least there are places where your skin's a bit blue and bumpy -- and crap but that's cleverly done -- but it responds to pressure just the same as the rest of your skin, and it shouldn't."

This is the sort of difference in pressure that Sasuke is unable to pick up on. It's just that subtle. It makes sense, though.

"Besides -- I dunno. No heartbeat."

"You can't feel that through skin," Sasuke replies with a snort.

"Consciously, no," Naruto agrees with what passes for him as a pensive look. "There's still this niggling feeling that something's missing. You're just that tiny bit too still. Humans are never this steady."

"You knew what you were looking for, that's all," Sasuke replies, dissatisfied. Ah well, it means that normal humans really can't tell, right? At least so long as they don't get to see the repairs.

"Heh, maybe. Or maybe you're just too pretty to be true."

"Should I add some false scars?" Sasuke asks cynically.

"Nah, then you'd look like a pretty bad boy. Now you just look like a pretty emo boy."

"You have a fixation on my face."

Naruto snickers. "It's just funny to see something like that on someone who couldn't care less. Uchiha units had to infiltrate sometimes right? Why didn't they give you an average-looking face? I mean, it's kinda hard not to notice you."

"I was in service in the upper layers," Sasuke replies wearily.

There's no use hiding that sort of little details from Naruto; he just nags and nags until the secret seems worthless compared to a few minutes of silence.

"Oh. Right. You'd have attracted attention just for not being scorching hot," Naruto mutters, rolling his eyes -- presumably at the foolish, self-centered, filthy rich people who spend half their lives on operation tables. As if his ears, and eyes, and fangs, and tail had come to him in the night, by magic.

Sasuke looks away, flexes his arm again, testing the way the false skin holds on at the shoulder. Huh -- it's going to crease. Hopefully he won't keep it long enough for that.

It's... good, not to be one-handed anymore. He runs his fingers up his new arm, testing the skin. He can't feel much of a difference, his sense of touch just isn't that refined. He's envious, briefly, but he has other advantages, doesn't he?

Naruto is watching him. Sasuke arches an eyebrow. The blond looks thoughtful; that's a weird look on him. "What?"

"Nah, nothing." Naruto grins suddenly. "Just didn't peg you as the type to touch yourself in public."

Sasuke blinks at him for a second before he gets it. "... Oh, shut the hell up already," he growls as he picks up his shirt and puts it on. "You're obsessed. Do you ever go ten minutes without thinking of sex?"

"You just don't know what you're missing."

"Not interested," Sasuke shoots back as he picks up his coat and stomps toward the door. It isn't entirely true; he's mildly curious -- the physical pleasure and psychological aspects must be more effective than they sound, to have so many people so irrationally fascinated with them. He's not telling Naruto that, though. The idiot would only feel encouraged to tease him.

The blond grins at Sasuke, fangs bared. "If you ever get curious, just tell me. I can hook you up with the bits, free of charge."

... Apparently, though, he doesn't really need the encouragement.