Crossed Wires

Betaed by the amazing Windshades as always. Thank you, love.

Chapter 7: Sasuke

Sasuke wishes Naruto would quit his caterwauling. He's supposed to be a fox, damn it, not a cat in heat. Naruto doesn't seem to care. He belts out romantic ballads and perverted ditties, and sometimes garbled mixes of the two. Sasuke is absolutely horrible at understanding poetry, but even he can tell that the furry is pulling his lyrics out of his ass half the time.

The matter isn't so much the modified lyrics, but the notice people are taking of the two of them. Naruto and Sasuke are young men, they appear to be in good shape; those are the only thing preventing their stumbling comedy routine from making them into the perfect mark. Their clothes, while not expensive, aren't threadbare or out of fashion, neither of them is carrying a gun, and Naruto is drunk off his ass; if Sasuke stopped supporting him, he'd land face first in the gutter.

It's a very tempting thought. But Sasuke reserves it for when they get mugged. It's going to happen, he knows it is; the only question left is when.

The streets are beginning to look suspiciously empty for this hour of the night. There's something going on. How annoyed he is at Naruto for being so noisy, and being unable to stand on his own. The furry is strangely heavy, and a little too affectionate. He babbles on and on about things Sasuke tries not to pay attention to, his nose in Sasuke's neck.

Sasuke has the sneaking suspicion that Shikamaru didn't take his "I'm just crashing at his place until the job's done" at face value.

"Yeah -- yeah, you mah BEST FRIEND EVER. Nuh, really."

Sasuke resists the urge to roll his eyes -- and then gives into it, because as illogical as they are, developing mannerisms means he is settling into his personality. His personality is more than verging on sarcastic bastard. He is grimly content with the idea. "Earlier you said Chouji was your best friend."

"... I did?"

"When he gave you a potato chip."

"OH! Oh yeah. That! Tha's really im-portant. Really-really important. I mean, Chouji... potato chips... Hez my bes' friend! Gave me a chip. Out of his OWN BAG. Serr-osly."

Sasuke rolls his eyes again, and adds a snort for emphasis. Naruto is too heavy. What the hell did he stuff in his pockets? And he keeps squirming and trying to slip out of Sasuke's hold. So annoying.

"But you... you're my BESTEST bes' friend. An' I got something for you. Surpi -- surri -- sur-pri-se. Guess whazzit?"

Sasuke contemplates ignoring him.

Then Naruto nudges him, several times. "Guess what? Guess whaaat?"

"... I don't know," he grumbles dutifully. "What is it?"

Naruto erupts in giggles. "Not telling! S'why it's called a sur-prise. Idiot."

Sasuke's heel just happens to land on Naruto's toes. His fault for being a bumbling, drunk idiot.


"Stop whining."

"You hurt me--"

Sasuke presses a hand to Naruto's mouth, and sharpens his senses. He can hear yelling from the next street over, over the muffled, slobbery protests of the fox furry. A fight? A skirmish between gangs? That would explain where everyone has gone.

Naruto pulls his hand down, rearing back. Sasuke is about to grab him again to keep him up, but the blond isn't struggling or falling anymore. He stands, balance a bit unsteady, tail up as a counterweight, a dark scowl on his usually happy face. His ears are perking up. "... Broken glass."

Sasuke frowns, sharpens his hearing to borderline dangerous heights, and finally hears the tinkling of shards of glass being kicked off a window frame.

Then a gunshot.

They run.

Naruto runs like he's only narrowly missing the ground each time he falls forward. But he doesn't lose ground.

Sasuke braces himself and stops him just before the corner, a hand on his shoulder; Naruto slams into him, almost falls, straightens up on his own. His tail bristles, puffed up to twice its original size, and there's a sneer on his face that bares his fangs up to the gums.

They both know it's got to be the hospital.

"They have to have sentries. We can't rush in -- Naruto!" Sasuke has to shake the furry, hard; Naruto isn't paying attention to him. "We don't know how many there are, and they're armed."

"I'll fucking kill them all."

Sasuke knew that Naruto had some kind of bond with doctor Tsunade and Sakura, but he didn't think it was that deep -- or that Naruto even had a violent bone in his body. He didn't even get violent when Sasuke himself had threatened the furry's life.

Naruto is not serious in his threat; Naruto is just angry and doesn't need to be arrested -- fuck, fuck, fuck, Sasuke's losing control of his subroutines. The protocol in this case is to subdue violent individuals, call the precinct and wait for reinforcements -- he'll never find a payphone in time in these streets -- something explodes.

He welcomes the Sharingan mode.

Authorized Troup Support Uzumaki Naruto takes off running; UG-7-SA, codename Sasuke lets him go. They have bombs. Terrorist threat. Neutralize first, secure delinquents second. He kicks open a boarded up window, makes his way through the empty house to another window -- fire escape, he climbs. Rusty; breaking. He grabs the edge of the roof, pulls himself up -- gravel-covered roof, a ledge, jump. Landing. The blueprints of the area didn't show a wire fence there; he plows through. Jump, ladder, balcony ledge, screaming woman in apartment -- no threat visible, just him. Dismiss. Run out in the corridor. Dodge under the arm of the man opening the door in face, run -- mirrored balcony. Jump. Fall -- catch. Slip -- catch again, recalibrate left arm's performances. And climb the ladder, three stories above ground.

Hospital. A house on the roof -- Doctor Tsunade's penthouse. He breaks the window cleanly, finds the staircase, runs down. Third floor, three patients out in the corridor -- worried, but body languages show no sign of direct threat. This floor is free. Second floor -- trauma ward. Patients limping away; he throws open the door to the staircase. No authorized personnel -- no nurses. He has a mission, but --

"Evacuate through this door! Up to third floor, the East-side fire escape!"

Some don't seem to hear him. He catches a man's arm -- Watanabe Youssef, fifty-one year old, residing -- irrelevant, he's trustworthy. "Guide other patients out." It's not a request.

He runs again, leaving behind the vague echoes of subroutines protesting his commandeering a civilian; loses himself into the Sharingan mode again.

The ground floor is full of smoke; the blast screen black with ash. Naruto's gate is closed. The top half of the wall beside it, meant to separate the waiting room and the restricted area, is a pile of rubble. Two unidentified black-haired men in green scrubs are beating gang members off of it with broomsticks; Orderly Yakushi Kabuto is using a tazer on those trying to pull the brooms out of their hands.

Sasuke counts the enemies; two, five, seven, ten. Thirteen. Thirteen mobile, two on the floor. Guns -- six.


There is Naruto.

He slips around Yakushi, leaps on the wall, foot already scything through the air. Two shaved heads crack together. One down, one wobbling back up -- Sasuke is landing, crouching, elbow to the gut -- whirling, on hands now, double-kick to the chest -- three men down. More arrive. He dodges before they touch him.

Everything is red. Doctor Tsunade is in front of him, in the melee. He catches a knife-wielding hand -- breaks the wrist, breaks the leg, shoves away -- four down. Doctor Tsunade is holding her own. He scans the room -- no other bombs. The first one was Molotov, from the scent. Dodge! Tsunade swings a chair, winging another man -- not down. Sasuke downs him, knife-hand to the back of the neck, grabs Tsunade's chair which is swinging back at him again.

Brief pause. Recognition. He scans the room again -- seven down, blood on the floor. Can't locate Naruto. Locates legs -- feminine legs -- in the middle of the group Tsunade is charging.

Hospital slippers. Hostage.

He grabs a neck, a wrist, throws people behind him -- gunshots. He whirls around -- Yakushi. Handgun. Illegal -- later! One dead, one dying. Hostage first.

Nine down; there's Naruto. Ten -- Tsunade.

Pause. Threat to the life of the hostage. Nurse scrubs. Short black hair. Never met her. Knife held to her throat, held from behind, the two men left back to back.

Tsunade lifts up the chair. "Let go of Shizune or I'll kill you with my bare hands, oath be damned."

Behind them, gun cocked; he glances. Yakushi again, holding downed gang members in sight.

Swift blur -- a man jerks -- a crack. Eleven down. Three dead. Naruto's hands are red. Sasuke reaches, blocks a swing of razor to Naruto's back -- Tsunade's chair crashes into the man's head. Twelve down.

Blood at Shizune's neck. Blood from Naruto's claws in the man's wrist, severing the vein. Blood from Naruto's claws on the man's shoulder, wrenching him off Shizune, throwing him aside.

Blur -- Naruto pounces. Sasuke blocks -- claws graze his nose even as he dodges. He drops to the ground, twisting Naruto's arm -- Naruto rolls; kicks. Sasuke's arm malfunctions; he lets go. He stands between the downed gang member and Naruto.

Naruto is Authorized Troop Support; this is just a misunderstanding. He reminds him; "This is not justifiable homicide."

Naruto pauses. Sasuke watches. The probabilities of a hostile attempt are dropping.

"He's right, brat. This is not self-defense anymore. Now calm down and round up those assholes."

Naruto closes his eyes, and then straightens up slowly.

"... Fine, old hag. If you say so."

Sasuke surveys the room a last time. The two men in green scrubs are cautiously going around collecting weapons and deposing them out of easy reach, behind the blast screen; Yakushi is keeping watch over the few gang members who seem to want to get back up; Doctor Tsunade is leading Shizune back to a still-standing chair and sitting her down.

He hears sirens. He lets go of the Sharingan mode, and starts checking the injured.

Four dead; two gunshots, a broken neck, and one of the man he gave broken legs to fell badly and severed his femoral artery. Sasuke breaks his neck, too; it's too late, there's nothing but the humane gesture left to do.

Nine assailants alive; he helps the younger man in green drag the ones who won't suffer from being moved toward a wall. Naruto moves to the rest; Tsunade snaps at him to get her doctor bag instead. The fox furry stills, and then goes, slowly climbing through the hole in the wall. The older man in green is giving first aid to one of the worst injuries; Tsunade joins him, and then, slowly, Shizune does, too. Yakushi watches them; then he calls for Sasuke.

Sasuke looks down at the gun in his hands, and then up at Kabuto's face. Tired, tense, worried. Glasses broken, blood on his cheek, no other obvious injuries. "Please, keep them in sight. Cover us. I have to..." He jerks his head toward the rest of the wounded.

Sasuke nods, hefts the gun, sights the obvious leader. The man glares, but slips back down the wall and onto the floor. Slowly, Kabuto joins the other medics treating the wounded.

Three police cruisers screech to a stop in front of the hospital two minutes later.


"Oh, Sasuke -- here, have a cup of coffee."

Sakura is standing before him; Sasuke pauses, still holding onto the destroyed row of chairs that he was dragging outside.

"You should get some rest; you've been cleaning for hours..."

Sasuke shakes his head; he almost refuses the cup, but then she meets his eyes, and hers are reddened; so in the end he takes it. It's unnecessary, but she isn't supposed to know that. Perhaps it soothes her to care for others. "I can't leave it in the middle of the waiting room."

"Get some rest, Sasuke, please."

He's not tired. He doesn't get tired. But his energy levels are dangerously low. Perhaps he should. He shakes his head again. "Did you find everyone?"

"Yes, finally." She chuckles; she doesn't seem to be all that entertained. "We found Mister Henderson in Doctor Tsunade's dirty clothes hamper. And Miss Leight and Mrs. Arfaoui got back to their homes safely. They were the last ones missing."

He nods. A simple yes would have been enough.

"Anyway, Doctor Tsunade says you can go home, and to come back at five PM this afternoon. So go get some rest, please. You haven't slept since yesterday, have you?"

"I -- no." Well, he's definitely slower. He frowns a little as he makes his decision. "Very well. I'll put this outside, and then go. ...Where is Naruto?"

Sakura winces; and Sasuke realizes that he hasn't seen Naruto since the police arrived.

"He... He'll be waiting for you at the corner of 15th Street. Just get home, the both of you."

Sasuke stares at Sakura, as he realizes what's been going on. "Why didn't he make his deposition?"

Sakura blinks up at him, licks her lips, hesitating, then shrugs and looks away. "Sasuke..."

"He killed someone," Sasuke retorts, scowling.

"Kabuto killed two! And he was doing it in self-defense. And the police said 'alright' and left him alone. Naruto was doing it in self-defense, too."

Sasuke frowns. The gang members weren't threatening Kabuto directly. But maybe they were threatening someone else; he didn't see. The one Naruto killed had been holding a woman hostage -- a woman he also intended to sexually assault, from various clues Sasuke had registered at the time, but hadn't put together.

"If he has nothing to fear, why isn't he talking to the police?" he asks again, stubbornly.

"Sasuke..." Sakura gives him a pleading look. "Naruto is a good person, but he can't afford to have a criminal record. You need to talk to him about it, alright? Please talk to him before judging. Please."

Sasuke downs the coffee just so he can crush and throw the empty cup at the trash bag in the corner. "Fine," he snaps. "Fine, I'll talk to him."

He turns away, dragging the row of twisted, crushed chairs outside, throws them on the pile of trash by the wall with all the rubble, and then stalks down the street. As Sakura promised, Naruto is waiting just past the corner; Sasuke doesn't talk to him, barely gives him a glance. Naruto falls into step with him, and they go back to the subway, all but ignoring each other.

It's only a few stops, then a five-minute walk, and then Sasuke is following the fox furry up the path to his house again.

Naruto's golden ears are drooping; the tip of his tail brushes the ground. He looks ready to drop; and Sasuke is starting to turn off unnecessary systems just so he can scrounge up enough energy not to shut down before he's in the workshop.

Naruto doesn't bother turning on the lights in the workshop; he zigzags through the piles of stuff, aiming for the door that connects to his little apartment. Sasuke sits on the metal table he's been using as a bed.



"We will talk. Later."

Naruto pauses at his door, his back still turned toward Sasuke; then he grins tiredly at him over his shoulder. "Alright. But lemme give you your present before you drag me off to the cops, okay?"

Sasuke scowls; he can't promise that. He wants to argue, but he's reaching his limit. He lays down, eyes closed, listening to the sound of Naruto's feet dragging on the floor, Naruto struggling his way out of his clothes, and the mattress creaking under the furry's weight.

Sasuke doubts Naruto will run out while he's unaware, anyway. He sinks into sleep mode. Just before he goes out, he wonders what kind of crazy thing his present is going to be.