Crossed Wires

Not thoroughly betaed by a single person; more like a half-dozen of people kindly pointed out the errors they could see at first glance. Any mistakes still left are mine. u.u;

Chapter 5: Sasuke

"What d'you mean I can't go and see my buddy?"

The man towers over Sasuke, crowding him. Sasuke turns his olfactory sensors down another notch; the smell of pot and other, less easily identifiable drugs makes him want to slam the guy against the closest wall and frisk him.

"I mean, you can't go and see your buddy," he repeats, slowly, giving him an unimpressed look. The guy doesn't behave like he took anything illegal today -- yet -- but he smells like he routinely carries enough for a whole building. Right, Sasuke's going to let a dealer inside the hospital unchecked, especially with the three dopeheads the police left there after that shooting last week.

"And why the hell not? No, I think you're gonna move over right fuckin' now!"

"Dude, lay off, he's told you three times now," Naruto pipes up from behind Sasuke. Sasuke frowns; he wants to tell Naruto to pay attention to his repairs and not to the altercation. He doesn't need anyone's help. But he's not stupid enough to take his eyes off the man for even one second.

"There's no one to walk you to the room and back. The end."

"Walk me -- what am I, a goddamn toddler? Are you sayin' I'd get lost? I can find the room on my own!"

Yes, and probably a bunch of other stuff. Expensive stuff. "I'm going to ask you to leave now."

"What the fuck, I'm not going to!"

Sasuke's eyes narrow. Damn his obligation to stay at least slightly polite. Oh well, it wasn't that different with the cops. "I will ask you a second time, and then I will make you."

The dealer scoffs and reaches for Sasuke's collar; Sasuke lets him come, and then he grabs his wrist, drops in a crouch, and sweeps the dealer's legs out from under him. A twist to the arm, and Sasuke is standing back up, with his foot firmly planted between the man's shoulder blades.

Behind him, still comfortably sprawled in the small corridor between the two wide open sets of automatic doors, Naruto claps; somewhere in the waiting room, someone whistles.

"You are going to leave now."

"Or what?" the man wheezes. "You'll call the police?"

Sasuke twists his hand, just a few degrees; the man howls.

"I'll break your arm and your legs." Another little twist, another howl; his elbow will go out before the bones break, but Sasuke doesn't really bother pointing out the distinction. "And toss you out in the street. And then, I'll call the police." He leans forward, voice soft and wiped clean of emotions; the man's spine is going to have the imprint of his shoe tomorrow. "Maybe they'll arrive before the thugs outside are done emptying your pockets."

He's mildly disappointed when the dealer starts apologizing and promising he'll leave if Sasuke lets go, no harm no foul; by now, Sasuke knows the patrol schedules and he could time it accurately enough to make the asshole bounce off the police cruiser.

Naruto starts snickering when the drug dealer is only halfway to the door; the man turns back to face them and makes a threatening gesture toward the furry. Sasuke takes a step forward. He doesn't want to get away from the doors Naruto is working on, what with both sets being stuck in open position, but he doubts he'll actually have to -- prevision correct; the exit's automatic doors swoosh open too slowly and the man almost slams into them face first as he runs out.

He gives Naruto a quick irritated look as the fox-furry snickers and starts whistling mockingly.

"Man. It's, what, the fourth time today? I'm pretty sure they're not that insistent usually. Hope the word spreads fast and they stop testing you soon..."

Sasuke crosses his arms, the one that belongs to him and the one that isn't his, and thinks that so far he could have taken any of them one-handed; but that doesn't mean he would like it. He wants his arm back -- or at the very least a better replacement than this one, one that can move without that tenth-of-a-second's lag and doesn't unbalance him, not to mention one that packs more than a tiny wrist blade and can channel a Chidori. And when Naruto is working on the hospital's metal detector-cum-portal that is the only public access to the patients and operating room, he's not working on Sasuke's arm.

"Don't get involved."

"Aw, don't talk like it wouldn't do you any good to have some backup."

"If it was actual backup, maybe," Sasuke says, and means no, it wouldn't. "You weren't helping."

"I was so helping! You don't know jack shit 'bout street talk."

"I don't need to talk 'street'," Sasuke replies with a faint smirk. "Broken bones are universal."

Naruto blinks up at him, and then bursts out laughing, far more loudly than Sasuke's quip deserves it, in his opinion. Still, Sasuke thinks he likes his still developing sense of sarcasm, and having it validated by other people's laughter is... not necessary, but good, somewhat.

The furry still laughs too loudly, and spends way too much time chatting and people-watching, and not enough repairing. "The gate, Naruto."

"Yeah, yeah, I'm working, honest."

"Not very fast." But Sasuke doesn't nag him any more than that; Doctor Tsunade called him and she's the one footing the bill, true, but it's Sasuke's fault if Naruto needs to be here. He's the one who keeps making the door beep, and he can't ask for the clearance to mess with the gate's programming without telling them why.

'The gate is beeping because I'm an android, not a cyborg.' He still doesn't know his new employer's stance on A.I.s, and besides he just doesn't want to work with the stigma of being The Last Uchiha Unit (officially, that is; but he kills the thought process before it can reach its logical conclusion). No, he's definitely not saying anything; better let Tsunade assume that the gate is buggy or just getting old.

"Dude, it's all your own fault anyway. You should have a jammer for that sort of stuff, what happened?"

Sasuke frowns, disgruntled, and gives a shifty-looking hobo his best death-glare. "I got discharged is what happened."

Naruto is buried elbows-deep into the bottom of the door, tinkering with the wiring; he unscrews a panel with a little 'aha!' of victory and flops on his back, pulling out his handheld datapad.

"Ahh, they didn't let you keep it? Hurray for government logic I guess -- hrrm, where's that go again... Hey, when do you get out anyway?"

"Why do you want to know?"

"Just tell me, asshole."

Sasuke sighs in resigned acceptance. "A hour and about twenty minutes ago; it depends on the workload." He frowns, thinking. "The surgery must have had complications, or my relief would be here already."

Naruto grunts; in reply or in effort, Sasuke isn't sure. Then there's the faint screech of metal inserted into metal, and a few typing sounds as Naruto reprograms the gate. Sasuke stands guard, and tries to smother the subroutines trying to guilt him into going to Doctor Tsunade and explaining to her that her gate is fine; Naruto isn't so much fixing it as reprogramming it to ignore Uchiha-type androids.

Bah; it's close enough. Besides, he isn't a danger, and it doesn't seem likely that Itachi would do anything to the personnel or the patients, or damage the place.

And if he wanted to, ten gates like this one wouldn't stop him anyway...

A kick to his ankle makes him shift aside, too quickly; he bows his head, bangs falling to cover his face. He scans the room, once, twice; two butterfly knives, a hunting knife in a boot, three tazers -- no violence in anyone's body language, no noteworthy probabilities save a young woman tripping on someone else's bag -- no threat to him or any civilians. Naruto he forcefully classifies as authorized troop support, ignoring the question of the security clearance; not a danger. Sasuke closes his eyes and disengages the Sharingan.

Fucking army programming. Itachi is not here, Itachi is not likely to come here in the near future -- no, he doesn't want to calculate the odds; Itachi's personality has always been outside predictable parameters.

Sometimes Sasuke can almost follow him; and then he remembers that nothing the crazy bastard does makes any real sense.

And if he changes his mind and decides to kill Sasuke too, Sasuke's just going to run outside and fight him on a roof, or an abandoned lot. No shortage of those around here. He prepares a few escape plans to soothe his subroutines.

"Oi, Sasuke!"


"So you're getting out... when the other guy shows up?"


"Awesome! 'cause I'm almost done and I can hear someone coming down the stairs."

Sasuke blinks, startled, and sharpens his hearing. He needs to go far beyond the normal threshold to hear the soft steps of a middle-sized man descending the employees' staircase. He wonders how old Naruto was when he got the ear grafts; even when the reconstructive surgery on the ear canals is a success, the brain still doesn't adapt easily to the new influx of information.

"You have good ears," he comments noncommittally.

Naruto chuckles, still typing away. "Hey, with their size, they better be useful at more than hat racks. Seriously, I shoulda gotten cable TV with them or something. I feel cheated."

"That would mean getting a chip," Sasuke comments. He's still wondering why, even though Naruto is working at least peripherally with computers, he isn't equipped with at least a basic datajack. Maybe the blond is scared; they do cut into the skull and tinker with the brain to install it, after all.

"Yeah, maybe I should."

Naruto's voice is pleasant, but his tail is still. Hm. Change of subject. "You still haven't told me why you want to know when I get out," Sasuke reminds him.

"Oh yeah! I'm going out with my friends tonight --"

Oh. Bah, Sasuke puts himself in doze mode in the repair shop most of the time, anyway. "I can deactivate your security measures--"

"No, no, I don't mean you'll be home alone, I mean I'm taking you along." Naruto slides out from the opening just enough to give him a wide grin and grab something in his toolbox, and then his upper body disappears again.

Sasuke scowls at his legs, and then turns his head to scan the waiting room again. "No, you're not."

"Yes, I am."


"You owe me for not telling the old hag."

Sasuke grits his teeth, and kicks the metal panel over Naruto's head, making it ring. There's an answering clonk as the furry hits his head, startled; he squirms back out quickly, rubbing his forehead, and gives Sasuke a glare that is best described as pouty.


Sasuke gives the hospital hall behind them a meaningful look; a second later, one of the two other orderlies joins them, smiling. "Sasuke, sorry, there were complications. Naruto, nice to see you."

Sasuke is still surprised at how close Naruto is to most of the hospital staff. From what he understands, Tsunade was his legal tutor? Or something. Maybe she's his aunt... or his grandmother. It doesn't matter.

"Any luck with the repairs?"

"Oh yeah, I'm almost done."

"So did you find the problem?" The other man leans over Naruto's legs to peer inside. "It is kind of curious that it only reacted like that to Sasuke..."

"Oh yeah -- apparently they used an alloy for his implants that's a slightly different composition than normal cyber stuff, and the door couldn't read it."

To Sasuke it sounds a tiny bit rehashed, but he's not going to complain that Naruto can't lie to save his life; not everyone can measure subtle variations in pitch, pupil dilatation and heartbeat as minutely as he can.

"I didn't know that could happen," the orderly comments, nudging his glasses back up as he smiles good-naturedly at Naruto.

"Yeah, it's kinda weird. Didn't think it could either," Naruto replies with a shrug and a wide grin. "Anyway! I'm almost done; you two stand back. Sasuke, if I die, you still have to go."

And before Sasuke can ask what he means, Naruto pushes two buttons, turns a dial, and rolls on the floor away from him.

Both sets of heavy doors swoosh closed a half-second later, barely missing the furry's arm.

Sasuke stares at the sealed doors, and wonders if Naruto is insane. There were simpler -- and less dangerous -- ways to make sure the gate functioned, like going to the help desk and controlling it from there. Idiot.

He hears a few beeps, and then the doors swoosh open again.

"Come on, try it?"

Sasuke gives the waiting room and its squatting hobos a last measuring look, and steps through the little corridor separated by the double set of doors. The machine blinks green at him merrily, not making a sound.

"Hah! I'm great."

The orderly chuckles politely. "Indeed. Did Doctor Tsunade pay you yet?"

"Oh, don't worry, we'll make a deal later," Naruto replies easily as he stuffs his tools back in his box. "Are you done with Sasuke?"

"Oh -- yes, you can go ahead."

Sasuke frowns a little. What was that pause about? "I have to clock out first."

He pushes past them to go to the little office at the end of the corridor, where he went through his job interview. He doesn't bother closing the door as he takes off his lab coat, and ends up twitching a little when he realizes that his mild, soft-spoken colleague is teasing Naruto about poaching on Hospital grounds, and Sakura's reaction to Naruto's... "cheating" on her. Naruto and Sakura aren't dating, are they? Sakura hasn't really made a mystery of her attraction to Sasuke, and Naruto flirts with everything that moves. Besides...

"It's not a date," he cuts them off as he walks back out -- and then gives Naruto a suspicious look. "Right?"

Naruto coughs... guiltily? Wait, no, he's laughing. "Nah, I'm just going to hang out with friend. And you're gonna hang out with us. Yes, you are, don't argue."

Sasuke's scowl deepens, but he doesn't want to argue in front of his coworker.

"Don't keep him up too late, Naruto," the other man intervenes, wiping his glasses clean, with just a little too much seriousness to be anything but teasing.

"He won't." Sasuke shrugs off the discussion. "I'll relieve you tomorrow at five."

Kabuto smiles and takes place at the help desk, waving goodbye jauntily. "Have fun, Naruto, Sasuke."

Naruto leers back, playful, and throws an arm around Sasuke's shoulders, tail wagging as he drags him outside of the hospital. "Oh, we will, we will. Come on, Sasuke, you'll like Shika. He thinks like an A.I. and most of the time he can't be bothered to contribute more than a fifth of any discussion."

"If you're only counting the discussions you're in, it isn't surprising," Sasuke retorts. He still doesn't want to go, but he owes Naruto, and at least that Shika person doesn't sound too irritating.