Crossed Wires

Many thanks to Cindelius for the beta.

Chapter 7: Sasuke

"Why can't you afford to have a criminal record?"

Naruto blinks drowsily at Sasuke over the edge of his steaming bowl, and then winces as the question registers. He eventually chuckles. "And people say I don't have any tact."

Standing on the other side of his table, Sasuke doesn't budge, his arms crossed over his chest, his feet set apart in a solid stance. Naruto flicks an ear and waves toward a stool. "Siddown, I'm not running anywhere until I'm done with breakfast."

"I'm comfortable standing."

"Yeah, well, I'm not comfortable with you staring down at me, so sit your ass down or get out of my face." Naruto's ears flatten on his head briefly, golden fur mingling with tangled blond locks, and then return to their usual lazy slant atop his head. Annoyed, Sasuke pushes the pile of papers from the stool to the floor and drags the stool to the table, sitting down stiffly.

"Why can't you afford to have a criminal record?" he asks again. He wants an answer, damn it, and the more Naruto delays, the worse Sasuke suspects it's going to be.

"'Cause then someone would probably notice that my ID's a fake," Naruto replies with an easy grin. He has a milk moustache; the incongruity bothers Sasuke for a second. Is Naruto attempting to appease him by appearing innocent? No, he would know that Sasuke isn't easily manipulated.

"... Why is your ID a fake?"

"Why is yours?"

"My ID is perfectly legal; it was issued by the government in full knowledge of my circumstances," Sasuke growls.

Naruto grins. "Your ID says 'unmodified human', dude. And it says Hatake on it, too."

Sasuke graces Naruto with a long, unamused stare. "Is Uzumaki your real name?"

"Yeah, sure," Naruto replies casually, sipping from his bowl.

"So you're using your real name?" Sasuke repeats. It doesn't make sense; Uzumaki isn't such a common name. If he truly were in hiding, he wouldn't be using it.

"Yep." Naruto grins at him again; and then, faced with Sasuke's irritated look -- Sasuke has become proficient at 'you really must think I'm stupid' expressions in the last few weeks -- he sighs. "It's mine as in I consider it mine, and if you yell it in the street, I'll turn around. You're not gonna find a birth certificate for Uzumaki Naruto." Naruto paused, scratched his ear, and grinned guiltily. "Well, yes, I mean, you're gonna find one in the computer..."

"...But there isn't a paper copy of it in the archives of the hospital that was supposed to have delivered the certificate, is there."


Naruto drinks the last of his milk with a grimace and gets up, finding a small space in the full sink to wedge his bowl. Sasuke gets the feeling that the furry thinks their interview has reached its end. Like hell it has.

"Naruto, your stabilizing program for my subroutines is helpful in its small way, but it isn't state of the art," he comments slowly.

The blond turns around to look at him, tail held up and still. Sasuke meets his eyes, wiping all traces of expression from his face.

"It would be a shame if it were overloaded."

"... You son of a bitch."

Sasuke's stony expression doesn't shift, even though he wants to snarl back that Naruto really has no grounds to look so betrayed. "I'm a cop, Uzumaki. It's not a job for me; it's in my prime directives."

Naruto deflates, ears drooping. "I know, I know... Still. I like you, man, but my life isn't your business."

But Sasuke's life is Naruto's business, Sasuke thinks with some resentment. Naruto knows that Sasuke is an AI, not a human; and he forced him to talk about Itachi -- not the details, true, but he still knows that Itachi exists and that Sasuke will kill him one day. Nothing is more Sasuke's personal business than Itachi.

"I'm not on any 'wanted' list. I never robbed anyone. I never hurt anyone who didn't attack me first. I'm not plotting to overthrow the government."

His vitals don't change much; Sasuke's subroutines quiet down. There's a possibility that Naruto is lying by omission, or he's so good at appearing trustworthy that his heartbeat remains steady as he hides his serial-killer ways. But it's doubtful. "So you're an ideal citizen."

"Well. Nah. I brawl, and I make noise at night. And, uh, I buy stuff at the black market..." he offers with a shrug.

"What kind of stuff?"

"Parts for my shop. Food. Alcohol."

Sasuke snorts. So does everyone and their grandmother; Sasuke's a lot more preoccupied with crimes than with misdemeanors.

"Drugs?" Sasuke asks, even though he seriously doubts Naruto would. Besides, the government doesn't care much about recreational stuff; they only actively crack down on hard drugs. Unless Naruto is a silversnow dealer, Sasuke isn't going to care.

"Does buying some pot count?"

Pot, hah. Nowadays even tobacco is considered with more annoyance; pot's only listed as illegal because drug pushers didn't want to lose their income and lobbied to keep it out of the government's influence and free of taxes. Sasuke shrugs. "Only if you sell it back for a profit."

"Then nope. Pot's for smoking with good buddies from time to time, that's all." He grins at Sasuke. "It's really too bad you can't smoke. It would be good for you, you need to relax."

Sasuke snorts. "Drugs are a delaying measure, not a solution."

"Blahblahblah. You know, Tsunade needs a social worker too."

"Fuck you."

Naruto cracks up. Sasuke watches as the blond furry folds in two and laughs until he turns red from lack of air, and wonders what was so funny, exactly. It isn't like he never cursed around Naruto before.

"Oh, that's just so the perfect -- what's the word again? Segue! Perfect segue. Here's your present, prettybot. Catch!"

Sasuke catches; it's that or stopping the flight of the package with his face.

"...Why are you getting me a present?" he asks, suspicious. Naruto is snickering too much, and Sasuke hates being laughed at. His expression darkens; Naruto lifts his hands defensively and swallows a chuckle.

"Just 'cause I wanted to, promise."

"I'm your customer and your lodger. I'm the one supposed to pay you."

"Bah, I told you I only want to be reimbursed for my expenses, is all. Getting to work on you is its own reward." Sasuke gives Naruto a long, unconvinced look. "... And there was a guy I know who had this and owed me, and he really had nothing I really wanted anyway. But it's good quality, really."

Sasuke gives the bag in his hand a last suspicious look, then reaches for the opening.

Naruto snickers. Sasuke is tempted to throw the present at his head, gratefulness be damned.

"Just tell me what's in that package first."

And Naruto is busting a gut laughing again.


"Just open and see!"

"I don't appreciate stupid jokes," Sasuke retorts. Especially when they're at his expense.

Naruto sobers up. A bit. "No, no, come on, just open it! Really, there's something for you inside."

Sasuke tears the plastic open, just so it can be over and done with. He finds a memory stick and a plain, gray cardboard box.

"I'm not downloading unknown data," he warns Naruto.

"I'll recheck it for worms and Trojans if you want, but it's just software. Drivers and stuff."

Something bumps softly against the inside of the box. Sasuke opens it; he doesn't want to question Naruto again for ten minutes, just to be told to check the box if he wants to know what the drivers are for.

"... I thought it wasn't a joke?" he asks softly as he stares down at Naruto's present in its nest of bubble wrap.

A snicker. "It isn't."

"So then," Sasuke continues, voice still as deceptively soft and controlled, "why are you laughing?"

"Dude, I'm not laughing at YOU. Dicks are always funny."

With sadistic enjoyment, Sasuke contemplates the possibility of stuffing the very real-looking cyborg penis and testicles that he's just been gifted with up Naruto's ass.

Wait, Naruto would probably like it.

"You do realize I'm this close to punching you?" Sasuke asks mildly as Naruto chortles in glee.

"Aw, come on, you're so uptight," Naruto replies easily as he leans over the table and pulls out the genitals by the head.

So many wires wrapped under the protective plastic. Sasuke can't help but frown in puzzlement at the excessive number of neural fibers.

"Seriously, I didn't mean it as an insult. The guy just had it, and you've got none, and whaddya know, it's your exact skin tone. Well, a bit paler, but you don't look like a nudie beach kinda guy anyway." Naruto's voice turns reasonable; Sasuke gives him a wary look. "You're trying to pass for flesh and blood, right? You're not gonna go far if you can't pass a cup check."

Sasuke is tempted to ask Naruto to stop using common sense to justify his assholish craziness, but that would be admitting that Naruto's got a point, so he doesn't say anything.

Naruto starts circling the table to join Sasuke as he tries to talk him into accepting the gift. "The stick --" snerk "--the memory stick, I mean -- just has the software to integrate it to your neural net, give it some lifelike physiological responses and all that. It's got the baselines to calibrate it, too -- how sensitive it should be and stuff, but you can change the settings yourself on the fly so you don't need to download that bit. And I checked the wires and plugs and stuff, and it should fit an Uchiha-type just fine, so you're not gonna short yourself out the first time you dip it in -- OW."

Naruto, Sasuke thinks with satisfaction, always seems to forget that Sasuke is heavier than he looks. And Sasuke is careful not to break Naruto's toes, so the subroutines are easy to ignore.

"... Son of a whore."

"I'm not a son of anything."

"Your production machine was a recycled sewer-bot."

"And yet it would still score higher than you on an IQ test."

Naruto makes a face at him. "Wow, a comeback that almost works."

"How are your toes?" Sasuke asks pointedly, aiming his heel again.

"Oh, go stuff yourself with your detachable cock, it's got to be more comfortable than that stick."

Sasuke arches an eyebrow and lets a smirk stretch his lips as he gives the contents of the box a meaningful look. "And here I thought you wanted to sit on my stick. It isn't double-ended, you know."

When Naruto freezes and gapes at him, Sasuke realizes it might have sounded as if he were flirting back; but the look on Naruto's face and the long seconds of stunned silence are worth it.

"...My baby made a funny. I'm so proud! Oh yes, make another sexual innuendo at daddy!"

"Daddy?" Sasuke repeats, trying to follow Naruto's train of thought. Even though experience so far has proved that Naruto's thoughts don't progress on train rails so much as on roller coasters.

"Who else is leading you on the road to manliness, dirty jokes and perverted thoughts? Huh? Who's your daddy?"

"...You'd be surprised to hear how foul-mouthed the hospital's residents can be. Speaking of the hospital, I'm going to work." Sasuke doesn't want to waste his afternoon snarking back and forth with Naruto. He leaves his stool, weighing the package in its box with some annoyance, and then he goes to stash it in a corner with the rest of his things. "It will interfere with my armor-shift mode anyway," he observes as he puts on a clean shirt.

"Gimme two days, and I'll figure a way past that."

Sasuke glares at Naruto over his shoulder. "Like I want you working on a strap-on dick when you should be working on my arm."

Naruto huffs in false offense. "Hey, I bet I could even rig it to vibrate!"

Sasuke growls and slams the door closed behind him. Idiot.