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Akatsuki; The Rise And Fall Of...

Chapter Text

His feel slapped heavily against the rain soaked ground as he thundered through the streets. His heart slammed into his rib cage, fear willing it to break free. His lungs ached and burned in his chest, silently begging him to stop and allow more oxygen to fill them. He valiantly ignored them, forced himself to go faster, pushed himself harder. He had to put more distance between him and... them.

He could hear them gaining on him, could heat their footsteps slamming on the ground and the echoing splashes as they barreled through puddles he'd avoided. His caution had cost him. It wouldn't be long before they were right on top of him. He pushed himself harder once more.

If they caught up, he wouldn't survive. They'd eat him alive, and he knew that was more literal than figurative. They were sick. And they were twisted. They would do anything to keep their secret safe.

His fingers slipped into his hoodie pocket as he ran, fumbling over the pathetic little pocket knife hidden there. He dared to sigh, pulling it out and flicking it open, gripping it tightly. His pitiful defense against the men chasing him. It would do no good against the fucking meat cleaver Juugo carried. He was fucked.

Fuck.

He skidded into a couple out on date night, inches away from accidentally stabbing the man as the two collided. The man shouted at him, cursing at him for his careless movements. He ignored the man. Juugo and Kiba were almost on him. He didn't have much time.

Forgoing an apology, he turned down the next alleyway, racing between two apartment buildings and knocking down anything the cluttered along the walls. Anything the could be used as an obstacle. He continued to ignore his lungs screaming in his chest.

Something crashed behind him and he turned back onto the main street. He sped across the road and into the opposite alleyway, praying the crash was his pursuers falling, slowing them down. But he knew his luck that night. Juugo probably barged right through his obstacles like the fucking tank he was.

He could see cars passing slowly by at the other end of the alley, could almost taste the freedom their cover would provide. His lungs, though still aching and burning, seemed to sing joyously to him at the prospect of a break.

He skidded to a halt as someone stepped into view at end of the alleyway, effectively blocking his escape. His stomach coiled into a tight knot as his lungs rejoiced at the break. He glared at the figure blocking his path, unsure as to whether or not they were friend or foe.

The sinking feeling in his gut told him it was the latter.

Another loud clatter sounded behind him and he chanced a glance back. Juugo hobbled around the corner, Kiba hot on his heels with a feral grin plastered across his face. He bit his lip, looking back to the figure before him, his worst fears realised. They had him trapped.

"What?" The person - a woman - cackled quietly to herself as she watched him. "Did you really think you'd get away with it?" She asked, sneering at him. She made no advancement towards her prey. The two goons behind him, however, did. He tensed as he felt them inch closer towards him. He returned his attention to the woman, trying to place where he knew her voice from. "Did you really think you could fuck with us and get away with it? Oh, Neji, you poor, naive little boy."

He - Neji - growled low in the back of his throat and sent the woman his best glare, mind whirring. "So, are you the one in charge? How about you and I take a walk together? We could stop off at the nearest police station and you could turn yourself in. It would save me a lot of trouble."

The woman barked out a harsh laugh, throwing her head back with pure mirth. Neji shot a look over his shoulder during her temporary distraction. Juugo and Kiba stumbled closer to him. The woman's raucous laughter died down to a quiet chortle and she covered her mouth delicately with her hand. "Oh yeah, I can see what the boss liked about you. Not afraid to speak your mind. That's what got you into trouble in the first place, right?"

Neji stiffened, Kiba now right behind him and pressed against his back, tauntingly. His fingers trembled around the pocket knife as the younger male pressed his own blade teasingly into the base of his spine. Kiba chuckled softly into his ear, pushing the blade gently into his skin and running his tongue over the shell of Neji's ear. The older man shivered with disgust.

"Drop it." Kiba growled, running the blade up and down Neji's spine twice, letting it rest below the ribs on his left side on the second run down. His free hand ran up Neji's right arm, the fingers slipping around Neji's throat. Reluctantly, the older man let the pathetic blade tumble from his fingers, clattering loudly against the concrete.

"Not feeling talkative anymore, Neji?" The woman ahead laughed, stepping forward and into the light. Neji's breath caught in his throat. His heart stopped. His eyes widened in recognition. "What's wrong? Weren't expecting to see little old me?"

Neji shook his head wordlessly, staring at the woman before him, hardly daring to believe what he was seeing. She smirked at him, her gaze flicking behind him. She jerked her head and unbelievable pain shot up Neji's spine. He screaming, being pushed to his knees by Kiba's blade.

"Bitch." He hissed out through gritted teeth, glaring up at her as she closed in on him.

"Dear, sweet, Neji. Don't waste your breath, love." The woman knelt down in front of him and gripped his chin with perfectly manicured nails. "I have a few questions for you and I would prefer it if you didn't die on me right away."

"Fuck you." He grit out, spitting at her and catching her cheek. Kiba growled, twisting the blade and Neji screamed out once more. The woman threw his chin from her grip and pushed herself to her feet, storming away from the three men and wiping the saliva from her cheek.

"I doubt he has any useful information, anyway." She said, glancing over her shoulder at him, her eyes cold. "Kill him."

Chapter Text

"Congratulations, Naruto." His father muttered, the first to approach the blond after the ceremony. He held his hand out for his son to shake, a sad - and yet strangely proud - smile gracing his features. "Your mother would be proud of you today."

Naruto glanced at his fathers outstretched hand with a raised eyebrow before pulling the older blond into a tight hug. He squeezed his eyes shut to stave off tears, nodding into his fathers shoulder, not trusting himself to speak.

"Well, well, well." Came the jovial, booming voice of his mentor. He pulled away from his father and grinned shakily at the white-haired man. "Little Naruto's all grown up at last."

"Yeah, yeah." Naruto scoffed, shaking the mans hand. "I suppose you're going back to sitting behind a desk all day, old man?'

"Puh-lease!" He barked out a loud laugh. "Your Chief is more classy than that!"

Naruto and Minato snickered. "Yeah, sure." The younger muttered, shooting a knowing grin to his father.

Jiraiya gave them a half hearted glare, clapping a hand onto the youngest mans shoulder. "Minato, let me borrow your boy for five minutes before everyone over crowds him."

Minato hesitated before nodding slowly and turning to disappear into the crowd. Naruto raised an eyebrow as his father limped away. The grip on his shoulder tightened somewhat and he glanced up at his former mentor.

"What's up, boss?"

"Naruto," The Chief began, swallowing thickly and slinking his arm around the the blonds shoulder, choosing his next words carefully. "Your results were outstanding, as to be expected. The top brass have reviewed them carefully and decided that you would be a huge asset to bring in to our biggest case."

"Sir?"

Jiraiya hesitated as he steered them through the crowds and Naruto's stomach clenched with nerves.

"You've heard of the Akatsuki?" The older man asked, lowering his voice. Naruto swallowed thickly and nodded. "We have someone already on the inside, but she's unable to make anymore headway. She's asked for back up and Superintendent Sarutobi has recommended you."

"Wait, what?" Naruto snapped, pulling away from the man, fuming. Jiraiya kept a tight grip on his shoulder, trying to keep the younger man calm. "I have literally just graduated and you're throwing me into the deep end!"

"I'm sorry. If I'm honest with you, we don't have very many other people we can send in."

"Why?"

"We don't know who leads the organisation, but we can name one person within it, thanks to our Agent." Naruto braced himself as the name tumbled from Jiraiya's lips ad he paled somewhat. "Sasuke Uchiha."

Naruto's stomach dropped and he pulled away from the grip on his shoulder, eyes seeking out someone else in the crowd. He heard Jiraiya calling after him, heard others around him congratulating him with hearty slaps to his back. He ignored them, stumbling passed them in a daze. Raven hair and a kind smile caught his eye and he pushed his way through.

The crowd parted easily for him, revealing his father deep in conversation with Naruto's boyfriend of three years. He stumbled as he reached them, clutching his boyfriends arm. The raven span to face him, confusion and concern marring his features as he gazed down at Naruto.

"Babe? What's wrong?" He glanced up, catching Minato's frown and Jiraiya's lumbering form coming towards them. "They told you." A statement, not a question, and Naruto gave him a shaky nod, over expressive eyes begging him to say it was all some sick joke. He sighed as he boyfriend looked away and closed his eyes.

"This is serious? Itachi, your kid brother is in the Akatsuki?" Itachi nodded, not trusting himself to look at his younger lover.

"Naruto," the weight of Jiraiya's hand was back on his shoulder and his visibly flinched. "I'm sorry to put you in this position, Naruto. Really, I am. Normally we wouldn't allow someone so close to join such an investigation, but we're out of options. As far as we know, Sasuke doesn't know about your relationship with Itachi. You should be safe. But he knows almost everyone else in the department. We need you in on this."

Naruto glanced around at the three men surrounding him, taking in their varying somber expressions. His bit his lip; not even day one on the job and he was already on the books for one of the biggest investigations know to the Konoha Military Police. This would either make his career or break it. His stomach coiled with apprehension.

"Am I allowed a chance to think about it?"

Jiraiya gave him a small smile. "If you accept it, report to my office tomorrow morning at 10AM. If not, we'll work something out."

Naruto nodded slowly, the knot in his stomach making him feel sick. He glanced around at all the people helping celebrate his graduation, sudden claustrophobia gripping him. He needed to get out of there. He needed to leave right away. He couldn't be around them any longer. With a curt nod, he turned on his heel and sped from the room, only vaguely aware of Itachi shouting after him.

He took the stairs two at a time, jumping the last four and landing with a loud thud, stumbling and almost falling. His shoes echoed loudly in the foyer and the receptionist shot him a terrified look as he bolted passed her, practically slamming into the glass doors in his haste. He took one look at the weather and groaned out loud, cursing his luck as he dashed out into the rain and raced home, visibly jolting with every crack of thunder.

He was drenched when he made it back to his apartment building, giving the doorman a curt nod as he passed. He ignored the landlord shouting obscenities at him as he trudged rainwater through the halls and quickly made his way up the stairs. Genma would forgive him later.

He slammed the door behind him and knocked his head back against the dull wood, sighing loudly.

"You could have taken the car, you know."

"Fuck!" Naruto shouted, jumping out of his skin at the sound of his lovers voice. "Jesus, Itachi. You scared the life out of me."

Itachi smiled and stepped closer to the blond, pulling him in for a hug. "Well, that's what you get for running out on me. God, you smell disgusting."

"Gee, thanks for the support." The blond muttered sarcastically, pushing the raven away from him. Itachi laughed quietly, looking his lover up and down.

"I ran you a bath." He said, inclining his head towards the bathroom. "Get out of those wet clothes before you catch your death. There'll be a hot chocolate waiting for you when you get out."

Naruto nodded and brushed passed the older agent on his way towards the bathroom. Once at the door, he paused and glanced over his shoulder at the raven, teeth chewing at his bottom lip. He hesitated only a second longer before blurting the words out without really thinking about them.

"D'you think I can do this?"

Itachi startled at the question and stepped quickly over to the blond, leaning down and pressing their lips together in a brief, chaste kiss. "You're a knucklehead. And you don't think things through all the time." He muttered as they parted and the blond pouted at him. "But if anyone can do this, then it's you."

Itachi pressed another, quick kiss to his boyfriends lips before shooting him a breath taking smile and disappearing into the kitchen. Naruto stood stock still at the bathroom door for several more, long minutes. He pressed his head into the wood, running his tongue over his lips, before heaving out a heavy sigh and slipping into the bathroom, his mind finally made up.

----X----

The following morning - at exactly 9.45am to be precise - Naruto strode through the halls with his head held high. His stomach knotted with nerves and he tried his best to hide it, the comforting presence beside him doing little to calm him. He was only thankful he wouldn't be going in alone and that he had Agent Haruno already on the inside. When he reached Jiraiya's office door - 'Chief Inspector Jiraiya Sannin' emblazoned on the dull wood - he hesitated for a fraction of a second before reaching up to knock. Jiraiya's booming voice rang out and the gentle hand at the small of his back told him Itachi had gone with him as far as he could. With a small nod and a smile of thanks, Naruto opened the door and stepped into the large office.

Jiraiya gave him a wide grin as he came in. "You're early."

"Yes, sir."

"Loosen up a little. Remember all that training I gave you and you'll be fine. Now," he clapped his hands, making Naruto jump, and indicated the chair opposite him. The blond took a seat. "I'll be going briefly over the case file with you, you'll be given all the information we currently have - which I'm sorry to say isn't a lot - and you'll receive your new identity and the corresponding documents."

Naruto nodded along as the man spoke, taking in all the information. His name was to be Jamie Dawson. He was 19 years old, fresh out of sixth form and had a passion for art. He had studied the arts, literature and business during his final years at school - for which he was glad to actually be true - and enjoyed video games in his spare time. Again, true.

The organisation was the Akatsuki. They ran two hotels; on in the heart of biggest city in the country and on in a small town about two hours away from the agency. They also had a small string of night clubs and two tattoo parlors.

Though Agent Haruno hadn't been able to worm her way too far into the organisation, she had managed to confirm some of the rumors. The first being that the larger hotel was actually squeaky clean - the unknown head of the organisation wanted to have a fail safe should anything happen to the smaller hotel or the gaming company and she often had to make the arduous four and a half hour journey there to cover for them. But it was the second, smaller hotel and the gaming company that held all the dirty secrets.

And that's where she - and soon Naruto, too - would be concentrating their investigation.

Naruto swallowed thickly as Jiraiya reeled off the facts and speculations, feeling the knot of nerves tighten in the pit of his stomach. Now more than ever was he grateful he wouldn't be alone.

"Now, normally we wouldn't put someone new on the case, nor someone tied - however remotely - to someone they'll be investigating. However, as I told you yesterday, we're out of options." He paused there, resting his arms on the desk and lacing his fingers together in front of him. "Last week, received a piece of our last agent in the mail."

"Excuse me?" Naruto paled. Surely he had heard that wrong?

"You heard me." His superior replied, any and all of his former friendly countenance gone. "Agent Hyuga's left hand was received, along with a few... unappealing photographs. Agent Haruno hasn't managed to piece together exactly how they found him out, so you'll need to tread very carefully."

"Yes, sir."

Jiraiya nodded, eyeing his newest agent carefully. "Any questions?"

"How long do I have to complete this assignment, sir?"

"As long as the job gets done, take all the time you need."

Naruto nodded and reached for the otherwise abandoned folder on Jiraiya's desk. He could feel his superiors eyes on him, studying him carefully as he flicked aimlessly through the files, committing as much to memory as he could. The tense silence was broken by a knock on the door and Jiraiya granted admittance to his office once more. Naruto continued looking through the file without looking up until the new presence was by his side.

He was greeted by a scarred nose and a wide smile.

"Naruto, this is Agent Umino. He'll be working with you on this case."

The blond hastily got to his feet, shaking the outstretched hand offered to him. "Ah, a pleasure to meet you, sir."

"And you. But remember not to call me sir while we're working." Naruto raised an eyebrow as the two took their seats opposite Jiraiya. "Ah, I assume you haven't got to that part, yet?"

Jiraiya shook his head with a soft smile. "Naruto, during your time on the case, you will be living with Agent Umino, under the pretense of father and son."

"Uh... right. But we don't look like father and son..."

Agent Umino gave him a sad smile. "It's part of the cover story, to protect our identities. If anyone asks, you'll need to tell them your parents couldn't afford to raise you, so they put you up for adoption - which is where I come in."

"Do I have to call you dad?" The blond blanched at the thought. "Cause no offence, but that would be weird."

"No," he laughed. "Iruka will do just fine."

"Right, gentlemen." Jiraiya interrupted, clapping his hands together. "If you have no more questions, I'll ask you to take your leave and pack your things. These are the keys to your new home, and your tickets. Your train leaves in two hours."

The three of them stood and both agents shook their chiefs hand before turning to leave. As Iruka reached out for the door handle, Jiraiya cleared his throat, making them turn back to him.

"Good luck."

----X----

After Naruto raced home, he packed his bags as quickly as he could, making sure to pack his X4, a large chunk of his games, and his art supplies as well. If he could get away with gaming while on assignment, he wasn't gonna complain. He had little over forty-five minutes to kill before he was due to meet Iruka, so he headed out to the cafe around the corner from his apartment, dropping a quick text to Itachi and dragging his suitcases along behind him. When he got there, Itachi was already waiting for him.

"Hey, babe." The older man greeted as Naruto flopped down into the empty seat and handed his boyfriend his phone. Itachi raised an eyebrow.

"What? Don't judge, just change your name in my phone."

"Why?"

"Cause I don't know how long it'll be before I can see you again. Nothing to stop me from texting you, though."

Itachi chuckled and keyed in his new name with a little heart so Naruto would know it was him. The blond had already dug into the chicken burger he had bought when he slid the phone back across the table.

"God, I love you," Naruto moaned around a mouthful. "I'm going to miss our lunch dates. I hope this doesn't take too long."

"Considering how long Sakura has been on the case, I think it will do."

Naruto grunted and grabbed his phone, checking the name Itachi had chosen. He scoffed. "Ian? Really?"

Itachi shrugged. "It's short and to the point."

"What, just like you?" Naruto grinned, laughing loudly as his boyfriend kicked him under the table. "Ow, I was kidding I swear!"

Itachi gave him a small smile and got to his feet as the blond finished his burger. "C'mon, I'll walk you to the station."

"Wait, haven't you gotta get back?"

Itachi shrugged, grabbing the handle of the larger suitcase and wheeling it out of the shop before Naruto could argue further. The younger agent scrambled to his feet and only just remembered to grab his other two bags before racing after his boyfriend. He gave Itachi a confused look as he caught up.

"Everything okay?" He asked, lacing their fingers together. Itachi gave him a curt nod.

"I'm fine."

"Liar."

The older man sighed quietly, unconsciously tightening his grip on the suitcase handle. He hated how well the blond could read him.

"I'm just worried for you, is all."

"Don't be." The blond said with a grin. He squeezed Itachi's fingers reassuringly. "I'll be back before you know it and all those punks will be in jail."

Itachi raised an eyebrow. "Did you just call them punks?"

"Yeah. Whatever. Look, you know what I mean. What are you so worried about?"

"My brother -"

"Doesn't know me. And I only know him by name. So it's not like I can freak out with one look at him and give myself away."

Itachi sighed, still unsure, and unhooked his fingers from Naruto's, running them through his hair instead. "Just promise me you'll be careful."

Naruto gave him a small smile and a nod, reaching for his hand again as they turned into the station. "I promise. I'll text you at least once a day, alright?"

"You better."

Naruto grinned at the childish pout his boyfriend gave him and leant up to press a quick kiss to Itachi's lips. Itachi scoffed slightly as the blond pulled away and he shook his head, lacing his fingers through Naruto's once more and leading him into the station. Naruto raised an eyebrow at him.

"What?" He asked, waving halfheartedly as he spotted his 'father' at the other end of the station. Itachi shook his head, grinning to himself.

"Nothing. We're like some loved up teenagers splitting up because one of us is moving away."

Naruto chuckled quietly and reached up, wrapping an arm around Itachi's neck and pulling him down to meet half way. He pressed their lips together, letting them slide against one another for a moment before running his tongue along Itachi's bottom lip.

Iruka coughed awkwardly behind them, stopping them before it could get anymore heated. "Wouldn't want to miss our train." He muttered, cheeks tinted red as the pair pulled away from each other.

Naruto nodded to him, turning back to his dark haired lover and giving him another quick kiss before reaching out for the suitcase. "I'll let you know when we get there."
Itachi gave him a stiff nod, barely even acknowledging Iruka as the older man grabbed his own suitcases. Instead, he watched quietly as the two showed their tickets to the guard and pushed through the gates, onto the platform. A few seconds later, and they were gone.

Chapter Text

The journey to their new home was both long and arduous, leaving the two agents tired, irritable and ready to collapse on their new beds. Naruto was pretty sure he would sleep for the next sixteen hours with no complaints. He hated travelling, trains most especially. They were noisy and crowded and someone, with no exceptions, always stood on his foot at least once.

Iruka had tried to use the journey time effectively and, while they couldn't speak about the case in public, he spent the majority of the time trying to help Naruto slip into the undercover roll with more practised ease. From the moment they left Chief Sannin's office, he refused to call Naruto by his given name - calling him Jamie instead, as he rightly should - and began treating him like a father would a son; he even went as far as to 'treat' Naruto to a drink and snacks for the trip.

Most of his efforts, however, we wasted.

When they reached their stop and left the platform, the pair slowly and silently ambled down to the car park under the station, dragging their luggage along behind them. There, they met a rather exuberant young man who couldn't have been much older than Naruto. A very shy little boy was hiding behind the man and clinging to his trouser leg, watching in horrified awe as the man created Iruka like an old friend.

The man was Iruka's cousin - his real cousin, not one faked for the job - and they hadn't seen one another for a few years. The strange group stood beside a red Mini Cooper, the two youngest listening in awkward silence as the others caught up with one another. Naruto tuned it out for the most part, only listening out for his name in case Iruka was ever going to introduce him.

"Hey, Earth to Jamie!" Came his 'fathers' voice and Naruto jolted, returning his attention to the conversation, a blush creeping up his neck. "Wakey, wakey."

"Sorry," Naruto mumbled, rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly. "Daydreaming of my bed."

The cousin laughed loudly, almost mimicking the blond as he scratched at the back of his own neck. "Not a problem. It was a long journey, no?" Naruto nodded and the man gave him a wide grin. "I won't keep you much longer. I don't expect you actually remember me? You were, what? Ten when we last met? Eleven?"

"Ten," Naruto confirmed, silently proud of himself for the lie as he allowed the man to give him a warm hug. "It's good to see you again...?"

The man laughed again and turned back to his younger cousin. "Didn't even remind the kid of my name? You had how long on the trip?"

"Yeah, yeah." Iruka grumbled, playfully punching his cousin's arm. He shot a grin to the boy still hiding behind the man's legs. "Is your old man always like this, Nagato?"

The boy blushed as he was addressed but nodded all the same and Iruka laughed again.

"I told you you'd end up scarring the boy for life, Yahiko."

Yahiko scoffed, throwing a set of keys at the older agent. Iruka just barely managed to catch them as his cousin and son turned and piled into the Mini. "Whatever," he huffed with a grin, opening the driver side window and leaning out to finish their conversation. "Yours is the beaut next to mine. Less of the piss taking or next time you need a favour you can ask that brother of yours."

It was Iruka's turn to scoff, twirling the keys on one finger. "He'd do anything for me if I asked him and you know it."

"Sure," Yahiko laughed, settling into his seat and starting the engine. "You keep telling yourself that. Anyways, listen, Konan will have my head if we're late for dinner so we've gotta go. We need a boys night out sometime, especially now the kids old enough to drink. Let us know when you're free and we'll sort something out."

"Will do."

"Hey, Jamie. Great to see ya again, kid. Do us a favour and keep out of trouble for the old man. I don't think he can take anymore grey hairs!"

Naruto smiled, secretly jealous of how easily the lie came to the mans lips, and agreed with a small nod. Iruka had asked Yahiko to get a car ready for him upon his arrival and the bright haired man delivered; as he pulled out of the parking space and revealed the sleek, black Jaguar XF behind it, Iruka almost drooled.

Naruto waited until they were safely ensconced within the relative privacy of Iruka's car and driving out of the town centre before asking a few questions that had been bugging him since they arrived.

"Hey, Iruka?"

"Hmm?" Came the slightly disinterest response - he was still fawning over his car.

"How come you were put on this assignment? Didn't you used to live around here?"

Iruka's hands tightened around the steering wheel and he clenched his jaw, forcibly keeping his eyes on the road.

"I haven't lived here for almost twenty years. It's doubtful anyone will remember me. I was only eleven when I moved to Bournemouth to live with my older brother."

Naruto noticed the tension in the scarred mans shoulders and let him be, allowing them to continue the drive in an uncomfortable silence. However, the schools were apparently letting out and they had been stuck behind a bus load of school kids for the last twenty minutes. And Naruto couldn't take it anymore.

"Can I ask you something else?" The tension that had slowly begun to ease from Iruka snapped straight back and the blond hastily added, "Less personal, I promise."

The older Agent glanced at Naruto from the corner of his eye before focusing his attention back on the road and giving him a small, barely noticeable, nod. Naruto nodded back and looked out to the road ahead of them, still blocked by that damned bus.

"The chief told me that the Akatsuki - somehow - know who almost all of our agents are. I'm an exception because I've only just graduated the academy. How come they don't know about you?"

Iruka huffed a gentle laugh; he'd been wondering whether or not Naruto had worked that one out. All previous awkwardness lifted between them and he shoot a glance over at the boy.

"I've been working on a case in Germany for the last five years." The older man muttered. He clenched his jaw again, however this time he didn't seem so upset by the conversations direction. "I got back two months ago. Because of the duration and nature of my mission, I was granted a months leave which I spent with my brother down in Bournemouth. That was after my reports were written up, of course, and then my evaluations. I guess you could say I've been off the radar for so long I'm pretty much non existent. This is my first assignment since I got back. I'll be taking more of a back seat on this one, kind of just guiding you. Though I will be doing my own investigating, also."

"Wait, wait, wait. Back up a little." Naruto choked out, staring at the man, completely bewildered. "You were on one assignment for five years? What the hell were you doing?"

Iruka gripped the steering wheel a little tighter once more but quickly relaxed his fingers, turning off of the main road and finally away from the bloody bus. Naruto didn't miss the movement.

"That's a story for another time. I'm still not allowed to discuss it until the trials are all over and done with."

The blond nodded, getting the feeling that whatever the man was hiding about his past in this town had something to do with that last assignment. But he daren't ask. This was most likely going to be a long job and he really didn't want to get off on the wrong foot with a man he would be living and working with for the next however many weeks or months. The silence for the rest of the trip was, thankfully, a companionable one broken only by Iruka's muttered bouts of road rage.

The final leg of their journey last only a further thirty-two minutes (Naruto had been counting) and at last they pulled up in front of their new, albeit temporary, home. Naruto gave the building a weary glance as he helped Iruka heave their luggage from the boot of the car. A quaint little bungalow stood before them, nestled in a row of bungalows that looked exactly the same. Naruto held back a sigh; he had known this so called town was a quiet, backwoods town but this?

He honestly couldn't see a dangerous organisation like the Akatsuki working in a place like this. It was like one giant retirement home with a nursery right next to it.

This is gonna be a long job. He thought sullenly.

After a light and rather late lunch - in the form of some sandwiches Iruka had the foresight to prepare for them - the two agents decided they would have a quick look around the shopping centre down the road from their new home and try to familiarise themselves with some of the area.

Naruto wondered down the path to the front of their tidy, little garden while the older agent argued with the door that didn't want to lock. He opened the gate that led to their garden and stepped out onto the sidewalk. Across the road, a silver car pulled into the bungalow opposite them.

This was a much nicer looking building with an stunning garden filled with no less than eight dogs of varying breeds. It just looked a lot more... posh than the rest of the street and Naruto couldn't help but admire it. The owner got out of the car, cigarette hanging limply between his lips, and began pulling bags from the back seat.

Naruto stared, silver hair that stuck up every which way and a long scar running down the left cheek catching his eye. The man caught him staring and Naruto looked away quickly, a fierce blush spreading across his cheeks. This was certainly gonna be interesting.

----X----

On the sixth day since the move, Naruto found himself sat outside one of the (many) cafes in the small town centre. A steaming mug of coffee sat on the table next to him and he stared out across the town, mind racing.

So far, they had had no luck tracking the organisations movements, nor had they had any contact with the third agent already here. Naruto was getting disheartened. With a sigh, he returned his focus to the sketch in front of him and added a few details as he let his mind wonder. He always found his thoughts came together better when he was drawing.

He had no way to contact Sakura and let her know both he and Iruka were in town, though he'd been informed that she already knew. So, for now, he had to figure out a way to get in close with her and the people she was dealing with before trying to climb a little higher. The only two leads he had, after sifting through the case file Chief Sannin had given him, was the hotel at the top of the hill and Sasuke Uchiha (and Naruto still wasn't sure what he looked like as the only photo they had was of the Uchiha when he still attended school. Apparently he didn't think much of having his photo taken anymore). They didn't have much more on the behind the scenes dealings.

With another sigh, he took a long drink from his now lukewarm coffee before looking back to the buildings he was sketching. And he couldn't believe his luck.

Sitting opposite the cafe was a small, disabled car park (in which several people had parked who shouldn't have) and a plain, black Land Rover pulled in. It parked in one of the closer spots to the cafe and four people - three men and one woman - got out and entered the cafe. Two of the four glanced over at him as they went inside and Naruto pretended to be thinking of what to sketch next.

He knew Sakura right off the bat; he'd been good friends with her whilst at the academy, despite her being two years older than him. He had to force himself not to grin at her as she passed. She, it seemed, had to hold back an eye roll as she entered the cafe. One of the men with her was almost the spitting image of Itachi, though he lacked the friendly demeanour the older Uchiha flaunted. His eyebrows were tightly knotted into a frown and Naruto was almost glad he didn't send a glare his way.

The second man had an almost feral grin on his face as he spoke to the Itachi lookalike, though most of the rest of his face was hidden by his furry coat hood. Naruto had to admit, he wouldn't have put this man down as a member of an illicit organisation, but then he knew you could never really tell.

It was the third man that really caught his eye, the one that spared a glance in his direction as he passed. It was the man with the eight dogs living opposite Naruto and, this time, he had a mask covering the lower half of his face. The silver hair - that apparently defied gravity - was still sticking up in every direction and there was a cigarette hanging limply between two fingers, ready to be lit.

Naruto took a mental picture of these three men to file away descriptions later.

He finished his coffee, trying to leave enough time between the group entering the cafe and him so as not to look suspicious, before he pulled out his wallet and disappeared inside. The group was sat at a table right by the window and from the counter, Naruto couldn't hear their conversation. He sullenly ordered another coffee and pretended to be looking at the cold drinks while he waited, inching closer to the group with the hopes of hearing their conversation.

No such luck.

He took his new coffee back outside and pulled up his sketch, thinking up a way to get in close to this group.

He thought about trying to give Sakura his number and pretending he was interested in her but the Itachi lookalike had an arm wrapped firmly around her shoulder and he didn't particularly like the idea of being punched in the face. Old school friends would probably be a red flag with these guys, too, so he would have to find another way in.

As he contented himself with a lack of a plan and slurped at his coffee, the cafe doors opened once more and the group left. Once they were outside, Sakura was summarily dismissed with instructions to return in a few days with 'updates'. The Itachi lookalike (whom Naruto was convinced was Itachi's younger brother, Sasuke) and the as of yet unnamed Man bid their goodbyes to the silver haired man and got back into the the Land Rover.

The silver haired man lit his cigarette and watched them pull away before glancing down at the blond. Naruto continued to busy himself with his sketch, trying to ignore the mans presence beside him. The tension in his shoulders eased when the man moved away and he reached a hand out for his coffee.

Only to find his mug was gone.

Naruto's head shot up, confused, and his gaze settled on the man taking a deep drink from his coffee, mask bunched up around his neck. The blond frowned.

"D'you mind? I was kinda drinking that."

"Really?" The man grinned. "Cause it sure else hell seemed like you were checking someone out. Haven't quite figured out which one of us it was though."

Naruto blushed furiously and scoffed, returning his eyes to his sketch despite being unable to make his hand move. "Don't know what you're talking about." He mumbled.

The man laughed and put the, now empty, mug back down on the table with a delicate thud. "Sure, sure. You just moved in opposite me, right?"

Naruto glanced up at him from behind his fringe, eyes roaming over this mans face and taking a mental picture, while his mind raced with unanswered questions. "Yeah," he all but grunted eventually. "Last week."

The man nodded thoughtfully. "With your lover?"

Naruto gave him a disgusted glance. "My dad."

The man gave him another grin and put his almost finished cigarette between his lips before leaning over and holding out his hand. "Then allow me to introduce myself. I'm Kakashi."

The blond gave him a curious look as he slowly reached out and shook the mans hand. "Jamie."

"So." Kakashi said, abruptly pulling his hand away and putting his cigarette out. "Which one of us were you checking out?"

Naruto spluttered, blushing furiously. "I wasn't!" He glared at the man, lowering his voice. "If you must know I'm in a long term, long distance relationship."

Kakashi leant in a little more and beckoned Naruto to do the same. With a confused frown, Naruto mimicked the strange man, leaning across the table to meet him half way. The silver haired man gave him a wide, toothy grin and grabbed Naruto's chin, smashing their lips together in a searing, heated kiss that the blond found himself eagerly responding too. He pulled away with a gasp, realising what he was doing, and wrenched his chin free from Kakashi's grip, silently praying his cheeks didn't look as hot as they felt.

"What the hell are you doing?!" He hissed, snatching his things up and shoving them haphazardly into his bag. Kakashi grabbed the forgotten pencil before the blond could and quickly scribbled down his mobile number at the corner of the sketch.

"Give me a call if Mr. Mysterious starts to bore you."

And with that, Naruto's strange neighbour got to his feet and wondered away, hands stuffed into his pockets and a cheeky grin on his face. Naruto stared after him, hardly daring to believe what had just happened.

He grabbed the pencil and the sketch, tearing the corner off and shoving the rest into his bag. He spun on his heel then and marched out of the shopping centre, the torn page clenched between shaking fingers. It was only when he was half way home that he stopped dead in his tracks, realisation hitting him like a train.

If Kakashi was hanging around with Sasuke and Sakura, then maybe he was part of the Akatsuki. And maybe, just maybe, Naruto had found his way in.

Chapter Text

Naruto spent the following three days holed up in his room, leaving only to relieve his bladder and feed himself. Iruka left him to his own devises, figuring he was there if the blond needed him, and continued on with his own, separate investigation.

The first day in his self imposed confinement, Naruto spent sketching Kakashi and his nameless companion (paying as little attention to Kakashi's features as possible while he worked) and he found himself secretly proud of his photographic memory for faces and his artistic skills. The sketches came out looking very lifelike and he added them to his case file next to Sasuke's picture.

He read through the scattered information they had on the Akatsuki once more after his sketches were finished, paying particular attention to Sasuke's file. Itachi had filled their bosses in with as much information as he could, though until recently details like current whereabouts were unknown. Itachi didn't talk about his life before joining Konoha MP, so the blond was very surprised to see Itachi's mother and father also had their own little files as well.

"'Lost contact with my entire family (bar one) when I emancipated myself at the age of thirteen.'"Naruto muttered, reading the file aloud. His head span, a thousand and one questions chasing each other around his head. Was the whole Uchiha clan involved in this? "'My cousin, Shusui, supported my decision to leave and mimicked my actions several months later. I haven't seen nor heard from him since he moved to Japan four years ago.' Oh, this is a picture of him."

He studied the picture of Itachi's cousins for several long moments, amazed that it seemed all of the Uchiha clan had dark hair and dark eyes and he found himself wondering if any of them had a different colour hair or something.

A flash of silver crossed his mind and he blushed furiously.

He spent the next two days buried under his duvet, emerging only for necessities.

On the fourth day, the only word Naruto could use to describe himself upon waking up was; gross. He'd forgone showering for the passed three days and he now just felt gross. His skin and hair felt greasy and disgusting, his hair now dull and laying flat against his head instead of its usual spiky mess. His mouth felt like it was full of cotton and their was a distinctly disgusting smell coming from his armpits.

He was very proud of himself when he dragged his body into the shower.

While his body was now clean and smelt significantly better, his head was still in a mess. He agonised over what he dubbed 'that damned fucking kiss', and while it was just that - just a kiss - guilt still gnawed at him. He didn't see it as just as kiss, he'd betrayed Itachi's trust and he was furious with himself.

The shower hadn't helped him there.

Dammit.

Naruto wasn't quite ready to face the day just yet but his stomach growled angrily at him, so he wandered into the kitchen in his boxers, a random game bleeping at him from his phone. Iruka glanced briefly at him as he trudged in, but didn't say anything about his state of undress (Naruto didn't actually know if it bothered him or not but he walked around like this most mornings, so bothered or not he should at least be used to it). The blond made himself some toast and a coffee, taking a seat opposite his temporary dad, and the two of them continued in silence for several, long minutes.

"Have you finished your sulking?" Iruka asked, breaking the easy silence without looking up from his paper.

"What?" Naruto startled. "I wasn't sulking!"

Iruka gave him a knowing smirk and put his newspaper to one side, folding his arms on the table in front of him. "Alright. You weren't sulking. Tell me why you've locked yourself in your room for the last three days, then."

Naruto shot the man a hard glare, irritation growing with each passing second that Iruka remained unaffected by it. A silent staring contest ensued, the blonds eye twitching as the older agent simply smirked at him, unmoving.

"Alright, fine!" Naruto snapped, throwing his hands up in almost mock defeat. He sighed loudly, dropping his phone carelessly to the table and resting his cheek on his fist, fixing the older man with another fierce and ineffective glare. "Maybe I was sulking."

Iruka shook his head with a small smile and took a long drink of his almost cold coffee. The blond mimicked him, trying not to let his emotions show on his face lest Iruka guess what he'd done.

"Listen," the scarred man began after a long pause between them. "I told you before that I was to be taking a backseat on this operation. I'm here to help and to guide you on your first assignment." He paused, watching Naruto's reaction carefully before continuing. "That being said, I'm also playing the role of your father. If there's something bothering you, you can tell me."

Naruto slid his phone back over to him and fired up the game again, forcing himself to stare at the screen despite Iruka's own gaze burning into the top of his head. His thoughts raced each other through his mind, each a question more difficult for him to articulate than the last. In the end, he settled on what was bugging him the most.

"I met the guy who lives opposite us." He mumbled, taking a noisy slurp of his drink and keeping his eyes glued to the lit up screen of his phone.

Iruka raised an eyebrow, unsure as to where the blond was going with this. He watched his partner silently, unwilling to push him, but when he didn't say anything else Iruka knew he would have too.

"The young guy with all the dogs?" He prompted. Naruto nodded. "He seems like a nice enough guy."

Naruto scoffed. "He's full of himself!"

Both of Iruka's eyebrows shot skywards this time. "What the hell did he say to provoke that?"

Naruto's cheeks burned scarlet, embarrassed by his outburst, and kept his gaze firmly in front of him.

After a few moments hesitation, the blond sighed heavily and told his partner everything that had happened the other day, including Kakashi's kiss.

Iruka sat quietly as he listened, plans and ideas already racing around his mind. Their neighbour would be a good angle to play, but he was worried about Kakashi's apparent interest in the younger agent. He, personally, held no judgement against any of his colleagues who worked a sexual angle in a case. Nine times out of ten it got them the answers they needed and the agents were experienced enough to pull away from the cases with no lingering effects. Naruto, on the other hand, was young and inexperienced. He was in a long term relationship and Iruka could already see the guilt eating away at him. He sighed loudly but the sound was drowned out by the door bell ringing loudly through the house. Neither agent moved.

"If he really does have a thing for you," Iruka began slowly, carefully forming the words in his mind before speaking them. He didn't want to upset the blond more than he already was. "Be careful what you say and do around him. And try not to lead him on if you're going to use him for information."

The door bell rang out again and this time Iruka pushed away from the table and got to his feet. He gave the blond a knowing look when Naruto looked up and caught his eye before heading out of the kitchen. Naruto sat in silence, watching the stupid characters in his game dance around his phone screen, waiting for him to make them do something. He sighed heavily, randomly moving the characters to a different town and starting up a new quest line, lost in his own thoughts and not really paying attention to anything when Iruka came back into the room.

Someone cleared their throat and the blond finally looked up.

To see Kakashi standing in their kitchen. Smirking at Naruto.

"Seems like I need to make surprise visits more often!" Kakashi joked, nodding in Naruto's direction. The blond could feel his cheeks burning even hotter and muttered something about grabbing some clothes before all but running from the kitchen.

He slammed his bedroom door behind him, throwing himself against it and sliding to the floor. That man had piss-poor timing! Fancy knocking on someone's door at - well, shit, it's almost two... But still!

Naruto was still quietly fuming to himself when Iruka knocked on his door.

"Jamie," he called through the wood. "Get dressed, our new neighbour wants to take us out for a drink and welcome us to the town."

Shit. "Do I have to?"

"Don't be rude. Get dressed."

"Fuck," he mumbled. Getting to his feet and pulling some jeans off the bed, he called back, "Fine, I'll be out in a minute."

He listened to Iruka's retreating footsteps as he pulled the jeans on, leaving them hanging open as he raided his wardrobe for a tee-shirt. He couldn't believe his luck! Not only did Iruka think he was gonna whore himself out to get somewhere with the case, but the man Iruka thought he would be doing those things with was now standing in his kitchen! AND! He had practically seen Naruto naked now! All because his stupid fake dad had let him into their stupid fake home.

Naruto was beginning to wish he'd turned the job down.

----X----

Kakashi took them for a walk around the lake before stopping in at the 'The Lakeside' for a few drinks, which was a short, uphill walk to The Sunset Hotel - reputedly run by The Akatsuki. The silver haired man gave the two agents a brief history of the recently refurbished pub, which had stood abandoned for nearly twenty years before it was taken over by a friend of his, and also the surrounding lake which was man-made. Kakashi's great-great-great-great grandfather had been the mastermind behind the breathtaking lake and, despite plans a few years back to build a housing estate in place it, it was now part of local and personal history. The pub had been added a few years after the lakes completion, settled on a small island in the middle of the water. It was now one of the more popular pubs in the small town, and more often than not it was packed to capacity.

The three ordered their drinks and sat in a slightly quieter corner, chatting quite animatedly between themselves. When the conversation turned to their pasts, Iruka became noticeably guarded.

"So, what made you move here?" Kakashi asked, a calculating smile on his face. Naruto sipped on his drink and let Iruka lead the conversation for him, also not liking where it was going.

"Ahh my wife left me a few years ago," Iruka explained, shooting Naruto what seemed to be an apologetic look. The blond stared into his drink, coming off as bitter over this conversation turn. "I couldn't afford the flat we were in anymore, without her income, so we had to move. I got a good deal on our bungalow and we'll be doing better from now on."

"Ahh, I see. I'm sorry to hear that." He turned to the blond, quickly changing the subject. "Jamie, what do you do? Are you still studying or have you started working?"

"Still looking for work at the moment," Naruto muttered sourly. "No one wants a fresh-out-of-school kid."

Kakashi's eyes glinted with something unknown and he gave the blond a sad smile. "You'll find something, don't worry."

"What about you, Kakashi?" Iruka interjected. "D'you work?"

"Ah yes, I work in the bar at The Sunset." He said jovially, not noticing the two agents stiffening in their seats. He turned his full attention to Naruto. "I can ask if they have anything going, if you want?"

"That would be nice, thank you." Iruka replied with a polite smile. "But I don't know if that's something he would be interested in."

Naruto balked at the mans answer. Was he insane? If Kakashi was involved, then this was his ticket in!

"No, actually." He blurted, ignoring Iruka's astonished gaze. "Any experience would be great. I really appreciated it, thanks Kakashi."

"Anytime. I'll find out for you and pop over after my shift tomorrow." The silver haired man practically beamed at the blond and Naruto gave him a shy smile in return. Both of them ignored Iruka and his incredulous expression, Naruto quickly changing the subject.

Though their conversation quickly returned to the lighthearted banter from before, they left the cozy pub slightly more reserved than when they arrived. As they got to their feet and quickly finished the last dregs of their drinks, Kakashi spotted someone behind the bar and abruptly excused himself. Iruka visibly tensed at the interruption and Naruto didn't miss it. He watched Kakashi disappear behind the bar and caught a flash of messy, dark hair following along after their companion. He returned his gaze to his partner with a raised eyebrow, eyes asking the questions that couldn't spill from their lips. Iruka gave an almost unnoticeable shake of his head, his answer loud and clear for the blond; not now. Wait until we get home.

They left the pub not long after that, wondering back around the lake and towards their homes. Iruka had to force himself not to switch into his normal overprotective self and not put himself between the blond and their neighbour, despite every fibre of his being screaming at him to do so. Naruto was a grown man and could take care of himself, but there was something about Kakashi that he just didn't like and he just didn't want to see the blond get hurt.

They parted ways once they reached the agents bungalow and Kakashi bade them a hearty goodbye, his gaze lingering on Naruto longer than Iruka liked before he dashed across the road without looking. Naruto spun on his heel and unlocked the front door, quickly flopping onto one of the sofas as Iruka trailed slowly behind him. He was playing on his phone when the brunette caught up.

"Nice to know this place isn't a total hole in the ground." Naruto declared as Iruka took a seat opposite him. "I mean, that was a nice pub. And it's right next to the hotel. You know, I think it might even be tightly knit with the hotel, too. Like, didn't Kakashi say a friend of his owns it?"

"Naruto, please be careful." The scarred man said, interrupting the blonds wittering. "I know you're excited to have a potential lead, but don't jump straight in without looking."

"What are you talking about? This could be the way in. What else have we got?" Naruto snapped, quickly loosing his patience. "I've got fuck all else, that's what. Have you found anything out? I don't even know what you've been doing this last week!"

Iruka scoffed. "I've been doing my part."

"Yeah? And what's that?"

Iruka sighed loudly and angrily, throwing his hands up in defeat. "That pub? Owned by one of his friends? That friend is Madara Uchiha. In the sixties, he was a lowly drug peddler, handing out defective crack to stupid little rich boys who didn't know any better and wanted to piss daddy off. Then in the seventies, he stepped up his A game and became the personal hitman of the wealthiest woman in London. Apparently he was so good, even she wanted him dead. He killed her first and they never found the body. The last anyone heard of him was in the early eighties, right after her death and then he just up and disappeared. The first time anyone in law enforcement had seen of him in thirty years was four days ago when I saw him handling a delivery from the hotel. Now. Care to tell me how I'm not doing my job?"

Naruto gaped at him like a fish out of water, unbelieving not only the volume of information he'd just been handed but also the extent that Iruka had gone to without his even noticing. The scarred man took Naruto's stunned silence as petulant denial and stormed angrily from the room, slamming his office door behind him. The blond stared after him, watching the dull wood long after it's loud closing, unsure what to say or do next.

He'd offended the man - his professional partner for the coming months - and not only did he not want a bad working relationship between them, a nagging guilt screamed at him from the pit of his stomach. After a moments hesitation, he got to his feet and padded silently to the office door, knocking just as lightly. Iruka didn't answer and Naruto sighed, resting his hand flat against the wood, gently knocking his forehead next to it. He'd give the older man time. Time, and space, to cool his temper before he'd approach once more.

After another moment, the blond left the bungalow and locking the door behind him (as per the agreement between the two agents when they moved in), wondering down the street with his head bowed and his hands buried in his pockets.

His wondering feet took him up to the shopping centre and he found himself back in the same cafe as before. With a sigh, he bought himself a coffee and settled himself for a long afternoon with questions already swarming fiercely around his head. It wasn't long before someone interrupted his turbulent thoughts.

"So, you're the new kid on the block, huh?" Came the unfamiliar voice from directly opposite him. Naruto looked up from his phone and was met with the animalistic grin of one of Kakashi's companions from the other day.

"Excuse me?" He grunted with s raised eyebrow.

The man grinned at him, bearing all his teeth as he turned around properly in his seat and joining Naruto as his small table. "You moved in opposite Kakashi the other day, right?"

"Yeah, what of it?"

The man scoffed. "No need to be so hostile. I'm just making friendly conversation."

Naruto eyed the man carefully as he pulled a hand-rolled cigarette from his pocket and lit it in the middle of the cafe. He raised his eyebrows at the mans audacity and looked around, waiting for the inevitable removal from the cafe. He stared at the staff in unbelieving and stunned silence as they made no attempts to kick the man out, nor ask him to put the cigarette out. Naruto wrinkled his nose, turning back to his strange new companion.

"D'you mind? That shits nasty man."

"Not really." He said, taking a long drag and blowing the smoke into the agents face. Naruto's nose wrinkled further at the smell as he realised it wasn't a normal cigarette.

"Is that a joint?" He almost snaps, leaning away from the man. The man grinned at him, all of his teeth on show once more.

"What of it?" He grunts, blowing another cloud of smoke into Naruto's face. Naruto coughs loudly and waves a hand in front of his face, dispersing the cloud. The man snorted.

"Man, you're a prude, aintcha?"

"Leave the kid alone, Kiba." Came another unfamiliar voice, directly behind the man. Naruto's eyes widened and he looked around Kiba to see the Itachi lookalike - Sasuke - taking a bite out of a sandwich.

"Jeez, neither of you are any fun." Kiba grunted, turning back in his seat. Sasuke rolled his eyes.

"I've got a fucking headache and all I can hear is you winding up some looser." Sasuke snapped, all but slamming his coffee down onto the table. "So shut the fuck up. And leave the kid alone."

Naruto visibly bristled at the looser comment, reigning his temper in. He didn't need a second argument today and he really didn't want to pick a fight with Itachi's younger brother - criminal or otherwise. He finished his own coffee and got to his feet with a huff. Deciding he'd rather deal with a moody thirty-something-year-old than a potentially violent man, Naruto took his leave, storming from the small cafe without another word to either Kiba or Sasuke.

He kept the pace as he stormed home, angrier now than he had been when he left, and made it back in half the time. Though he hadn't meant to, the front door slammed loudly behind him and he winced at the sound before making his way to the living room and throwing himself down on the sofa.

"Jamie?" Iruka called, emerging from his office. "What's wrong?"

Naruto sighed and ran a hand over his tires face. "I'm sorry for earlier." He muttered through his fingers. He cracked them open slightly and peered at the man through the opening they made. "I shouldn't have acted like you were doing fuck all when I've got nothing."

Iruka gave his blond partner a small, understanding smile, knowing what the younger Agent was going through. He remembered his first mission and the feeling of utter helplessness before finally getting that one break through he needed. He didn't approve of the methods Naruto may be forced to employ - and despite his earlier comments, he didn't think the blond would willingly encourage such actions - but he would be there for the young man as needed. Be it as a shoulder to cry on when things got too tough or the overprotective father figure he was being paid to play, with a lecture ready on his tongue, he would be there.

"Don't worry about it." He muttered softly, his gaze wondering as his mind raced. The blond gave him a small smile as he left, once again venturing out into their new surroundings. Iruka took up residence in Naruto's now vacated seat and leant back, arms folded across his chest. His thoughts wondered for several long moments, finally careening to a screeching halt on the new information he'd received today. Kakashi had something to do with Akatsuki, of that he was now certain. And things may have just gotten a whole lot more complicated. Madara was a dangerous man, not one to get on the wrong side of. They would have to tread very carefully from here on out, less they wished to end up like Neji.

Chapter Text

So....... Here we are again. Sorry it's been so long and all but I've been sick and then backed up with work and then sick again >_<

It's been an interesting few months -.-'

Anyways, I'll try to get back to updating regularly, but I've not got any more than what I present today. So who knows what'll happen. Just bare with me o/

 

Anywhoozer. 

 

Chapter Four.

 

Enjoy ;3


 

A man with an orange, swirled mask covering his face shifted silently through the papers adorning his desk. Most of them were invoices for the hotel in which his office was situated, though a small handful detailed his staff's comings and goings between the hotel and the large gaming store his owned in the middle of town. His eyes skimmed across one such page and eyebrows knitted together beneath his mask.

Sasuke had been moving more freely than he would have liked.

A soft knock at the door pulled him from his thoughts and he pressed the button under the flat of his desk, unlocking the door. As if summoned by a mere thought, Sasuke strolled in with more confidence than the masked man appreciated.

"I've just received the personnel file you were asking for, Seven." The dark haired man said, placing a file on a pile of paperwork and stuffing his hands into his pockets. "Just so you know, I met the kid yesterday. He seems like a loser. I doubt he's any real threat or asset for that matter. But Kiba thinks there's something off about him, says he was too nervous around us for his liking."

The masked man, Seven, nodded his acknowledgment but otherwise gave the dark haired man no other sign that he'd heard. Sasuke bristled, trying not to glare at Seven.

"Is there anything else you need, sir?" He asked, folding his arms in front of him and trying to appear unamused.

Seven reached silently to his left and picked up a folder, similar to the one Sasuke had just delivered. He held it out, just as silently, for Sasuke to take and the younger man frowned. Taking the file, he eyed his boss nodding, wordlessly being told he was allowed to look at it.

Frowning a little more, Sasuke flipped open the folder as his masked boss watched quietly through only one eye-hole. Sasuke's own eyes landed instantly on the photo on the first page. It was a man - maybe his own age - was laying on the ground, eyes closed, lips parted slightly and long black hair spread out behind his head. At first glance, one could easily say the man was sleeping. Until your eyes took in the rest of the photo; the deep gash in his head above his left eyebrow, jaw beaten so bad the skin was missing and teeth were bloody and on show, the pool of the mans own breath creating a halo around him as it dribbled from his throat.

Sasuke swallowed audibly and looked away from the photo.

"This... this wasn't my idea." He said slowly, glancing up through his eyelashes to gauge his bosses reaction. "I didn't have anything to do with it, apart from telling Kiba it was a dumb fuck idea. Apparently, he flubbed, said something about his home life in front of Kiba. I don't know what exactly, but Kiba called his girl when he was off taking a shit or something, I forget. Anyways, he asked her to listen in to their conversation for a little while and when he saw her next, she flipped her shit. Went fucking mental. Kept saying over and over that she was gonna kill him for -."

Seven raised a hand in the air, cutting off whatever Sasuke was about to say. The hand twirled gracefully in the air and the dark haired man scowled, flipping the page over and dropping his frown to the new picture. He sighed loudly, closing his eyes in a vain attempt to calm himself before speaking again.

"I told them not to do this," He said, at last, opening his eyes and bringing his gaze confidently up to meet that of his bosses. "Jugo thought it would be a good idea to teach the pigs a lesson. Said something about them needing to know their place in this world. Even Kiba thought it was a good idea. Seriously, though? Sending his hand to the fucking cops? Fucking mental if you ask -."

The hand twirled again and he flipped to the next page, forcing back an exasperated sigh. A picture of two men and a woman filled the third and final page in the folder. Kiba was one of the two men. Sasuke's friend, Suigetsu, was the other man and the one he knew was tasked with delivering the hand. In his defense, he hadn't known what was inside. The woman in the photo - Kiba's girlfriend - had paid him handsomely to disguise himself and hand deliver the parcel - no pun intended.

"Yes." He said, swallowing his fear and looking his boss square in the visible eye. "Hinata gave Suigetsu a shit load of money just to do it, even though I told them -."

"So what you're saying," came a voice from behind him and Sasuke jumped, spinning on the spot to face his cousin. He hadn't even realized the man was there. "What you're saying, is you had nothing to do with it and didn't think speaking up against your friends was a good idea?"

Sasuke glared at his cousin.

"Shifting the blame from yourself, once again." Obito continued. "Little Sasuke could never do anything wrong."

"Fuck you, Obito. Keep out of this and go back to fucking Kakashi or -."

Behind him, the chair scraped across the floor as Seven rose to his feet and Sasuke whirled around to face him again. The masked man strode calmly over to his subordinate, stopping a step or two away from him. Sasuke braced himself for, well, anything and his eyes slammed shut seconds before Seven's hand streaked across his cheek.

"One more chance, cousin," Obito muttered into his ear, wrapping an arm around the younger mans shoulders. "Fuck up one more time and you'll wish you'd left with that shit bag of a brother you have."

Eyes still closed, the younger Uchiha nodded and bolted out of the room, not waiting to be dismissed. Seven watched after him for a moment, even after the door had clicked softly closed, his thoughts somewhere else. Obito huffed a small laugh and their eyes met in the dimly lit office.

"He's getting on my last nerve." Seven muttered, looking away from his right-hand man and returning to his seat. Once comfortable again, he reached up and pulled the mask from his face and placed it beside his untouched coffee. "You know, if he wasn't your cousin, he'd be dead already."

Obito nodded. "I know. And I appreciate that. I just don't know where this arrogance of his has come from."

Seven shot him a knowing look. "Maybe you and Kakashi should train him up a little. Keep him busy so he stays out of trouble."

"Not a bad idea." The other man grunted.

Seven picked up the fold that Sasuke had originally handed him as Obito quietly slipped out the door, locking the door behind him. Flicking the folder open to the first page, his eye slid down the photo, taking in the blond hair and blue eyes. He reverted quickly to reading the text scrawled across the page, his eyes occasionally slipping back to the picture.

Kakashi had been right. He decided. Jamie Dawson will be an interesting addition.

----X----

Naruto's feet had taken him on the long walk from his temporary home with Iruka, all the way into town, just over a mile away. He was tired. He was thirsty. And, above all else, he was lost. His earlier anger at Iruka had flipped onto himself for being so ignorant of the older man that he'd gotten so turned around. He didn't know which way was home, nor did he know which bus to take him there.

With a sigh, he dug into his pockets, thankful that the hadn't completely fogged up his mind. He had at least picked up his wallet and his phone, if not his keys, so he had a choice of a cab or calling Iruka. He cringed at the thought of having to be picked up like a petulant child, but he hadn't yet committed the street name that he lived on to memory. He'd have to call Iruka.

But that could come later.

Sudden realisation hit him as to just where he was.

Behind him stood a wonderfully large bookstore with the latest realises of his favourite books and mangas displayed on beautifully arched windows. Either side of that stood two large clothing stores, both much larger than the bookshop the blond was disappointed to note. In front of him and to the left was a small coffee shop, it's tables and customers spilling out on the streets to enjoying the late afternoon sun. To the right was a music store with loud, obnoxious music screaming through the open doors and clashing terribly with the sounds coming from the shop directly in front of him.

Bright, red lights blazed the shop's name into the crowded street and Naruto swallowed thickly as hordes of teenagers and young adults piled into the store. A few of the younger customers squealed with delight, watching the game previews on one of the many screens littering the front window and Naruto decided it was now or never. He had come this far after all; time to see if the rumors were true.

He made his way through the gawking and squealing crowds and pushed through the open doors, his senses quickly being assaulted by more bright lights and louder music, the chatter of the customers only just audible. He refrained himself from his own squeal of delight as he saw that his favourite game had finally been released on the X4 and instead made his way to the hand-held games in front of the counter. He'd spied two employees in deep conversation and, while pretending to be interested in a game boasting a fluffy pink cloud as the hero, he tried to listen in to their conversation.

"The shipment will be here tonight." The red-headed woman told her colleague, pushing her glasses up her nose. "VIP only, today, so don't screw it up."

Her colleague scoffed, folding his arms gruffly over his chest. "I'm not an idiot," he growled. "I know how to take in an order."

"Yes, well. Seven is rather skeptical after that little stunt you and your girlfriend pulled last month."
The man looked away from her, scowling at nothing in particular when his gaze landed on Naruto browsing the games. "Whatever. He had it coming." He grunted, eyes never leaving Naruto's wandering form.

"Don't let Seven hear you say that. I heard Sasuke's been put on a short leash because of it. Same might happen to you if you don't keep your head screwed on."

The man scoffed again, waving her comments off with a flippant air.

"Yeah, yeah. I got it. I'm getting back to work now. Piss off."

The woman snarled, grabbing his collar and pulling him into the back room, away from the blond. Naruto frowned, refraining the temptation to look up and see exactly where they had gone as he put a game back down on the shelf. He was interested in what the VIP shipment could possibly include as another employee sauntered up to him and plucked the cloud game from the shelf. She waved it tauntingly at him with a grin.

"Hey there, handsome. You don't look like the type to enjoy these games." She crooned, her grin widening as he looked up and his eyes flashed with recognition. He smirked at her and leant against the counter playfully.

"I'm not. My cousin might be interested though, he's only six." She grinned again, baring perfectly straight, white teeth, and copied his stance, leaning down opposite him. "Jamie Dawson."

"Sakura. So what brings you here?"

"Beautiful women and games."

She scoffed, flipping her short pink hair over her shoulder as she leaned away, knowing full well 'beautiful women' didn't interest him in the slightest. Naruto's eyes followed the movement of her hair and caught an interesting sight behind her. A door leading further into the store, a man with pale skin and long black hair guarding it, and two skittish looking teenage boys wandering over and showing the guard a card. VIP ONLY flashed above the door in neon green letters and the blond knew instantly that was where he needed to go.

"I've been told you have a VIP service." He said, returning his gaze to his old friend. Sakura's smirk dropped a fraction, but she otherwise kept the act up perfectly. "How does one become a member?"

Sakura leant away from him completely, folding her arms daintily over her small chest and smirking at him.

"Jumping in with both feet, huh?" She muttered just loud enough for the blond to hear. Naruto grinned.

"You know me, I don't do anything by halves."

Sakura laughed loudly at that and, shaking her head and still grinning, disappeared into the same room her colleagues had gone earlier. Naruto waited patiently, still eying up his favourite game lining the other wall when the man from before came out.

Without even looking at the blond, he punched his login details into the till. "What can I get ya, mate?"

Naruto startled. "I'm being served, thanks."

"Oh, it's you. What are you doing here, loser?"

Naruto scoffed. "I'm in a games shop. What do you think, genius?" The two watched each other carefully.

"Kiba, wasn't it?"

The other man grunted his affirmation.

"That Sakura girl. She got a boyfriend?"

Kiba laughed loudly, pulling a stack of games from under the counter and began pricing them. "She does. And ya don't wanna go there. Sasuke would kick the shit outta ya for even thinking about it. Thought ya was queer though?"

Naruto blanched. "What gave you that idea?"

"Just the way ya was checking out my man, Kakashi."

The blond blushed and looked away as his pink haired friend returned. Kiba scoffed, getting on with his task as the pinkette handed Naruto a form.

"There you go." She said, either not noticing or pretending not to care about the blonds change of demeanor. "You'll have to go through a credit check, but I've put myself down for your recommendation. Bring it back to the shop when you're done."

"Thanks," the blond muttered and he placed £20 on the counter, holding the cloud game between two fingers as he turned to leave. "For my cousin. Keep the change."

"Did ya give him what I think ya did?" Kiba asked as the blond left the store.

"So what if I did?"

"Think that's a good idea? There's something off about that kid."

Sakura scoffed. "Didn't you say that about me when we first met? You're reading too much into things again Kiba, you should be careful. If you work that little brain of yours any harder, it's likely to melt and dribble out of your ears."

"Oh, haha, very funny. Just be careful around him, all I'm saying."

----X----

After twenty minutes trying to figure out which bus he wanted and a further forty-five minutes on said bus, Naruto finally made it back to the bungalow he shared with Iruka. He tumbled through the stiff front door, slamming it shut behind him, and strutted through the hall almost giddily. He'd not only managed to finally get in touch with the third agent in the area, he'd gotten her mobile number and a decent scope of the games shop. There was definitely something dodgy going on in there and he was almost convinced the Akatsuki was involved if Kiba and Sakura's presence was anything to go by. Now all he needed was to pass this damned credit check and hope he was accepted into the VIP membership. Maybe then, things would start moving forward.

He could hear Iruka talking in the kitchen and followed the sound of his pretend fathers voice.

Iruka's back was to him when he opened the kitchen door and the older agent was dutifully cooking away, nattering non consequently to Kakashi sat at the table. The silver-haired man smiled warmly as the blond as he entered and Naruto returned it with a stiff nod, Kiba's earlier words resonating loudly in his mind.

"I've got good news," Kakashi said, interrupting Iruka's ramblings as the blond took a seat opposite him. "We've got an opening in the bar. If you're still interested in a job, that is."

While Iruka visibly stiffened, Naruto couldn't be happier with this particular development. He quickly agreed and began hashing out the details with Kakashi. Iruka brought the meal over, eating quietly as the silver-haired man explained the bar training Naruto would receive. Iruka's eyes landed on the cloud game and the application and he frowned, scooping up the form.

"What's this Jamie?"

"Hmm?"

Iruka's frown deepened as he read through some of the form and he held it up for his partner to see. The blond bobbed his head and swallowed his mouthful of food.

"I got lost and somehow ended up in town." He muttered sheepishly, scratching the back of his neck. "I found a great games shop and they have a VIP membership." Naruto's eyes lit up with somewhat feigned delight. "Free games. I can't wait. Gotta apply though."

Iruka frowned again, returning his gaze to the form in his hand.

"Bit personal for a games shop, isn't it?"

Naruto shrugged, shoveling another mouthful of mashed potatoes into his mouth, continuing the conversation without caring. "Free games." Was the muffled response.

Kakashi watched the exchange with silent interest. Father and son seemed to have forgotten about him as they discussed the form. That Jamie had just happened across the games shop was strange to his mind. Stranger still, he was applying to become a VIP member. Sure, the allure of free games every week would entice any young and serious gamer, but did Jamie know about the other extras one received?

Kakashi sighed to himself as father and son poured over Jamie's application together.

Jamie Dawson, he thought as he excused himself from the meal and headed outside for a cigarette. A very interesting man, indeed.

Chapter Text

New chapter day is two days later than I wanted it to be, but that's better than like, 10 months, right? Right?

 


 

"And this is Obito. He'll be giving you your bar training." The silver-haired man said with a final flourish as the two entered the bar. A man - Obito, Naruto presumed - reminded the blond of a cliche, stood behind the bar, cleaning a whisky tumbler with a damp cloth.

"I thought you were gonna train me?" Naruto asked, glancing back at his neighbour with a frown and trying not to appear too disappointed. In reality, he wanted to get to know the silver-haired man a little better, completely convinced now that he had some involvement with the reputed group.

Kakashi gave him a devilish grin and the blond fought back a blush.

"Maaah, I'm sorry. I've been called to the top floor for a meeting with the boss."

"The boss?" Naruto repeated, wondering if he could maybe squeeze a little information from his neighbour before he disappeared.

"The man that runs this joint." Came a new voice and blue eyes swivelled to the man behind the bar. "Pretty intimidating guy when he wants to be." He scoffed, shooting a knowing look over the blond's shoulder. "Obito Uchiha." He introduced himself.

Naruto approached the bar and shook the offered hand with a small frown.

This must be Itachi's cousin. He thought, turning his attention back to Kakashi. The older man gave him a small smile.

"Don't worry," he said, patting the blond's shoulder perhaps a little harder than he meant to. "You're in good hands with Obito. But I'd better get going. I'll take over in about an hour or so." He added, the comment directed at the Uchiha.

Naruto watched him leave, turning to his new mentor as the door closed with a soft click. He'd already done a head count of all the patrons currently occupying the bar, some enjoying a business lunch in suits and ties while others simply indulged in a midday drink. Two groups of three in suits, one group of seven in suits, two old men sat at either end of the bar looking worse for wares, three women sipping cocktails and squealing over each other's dresses and a group of four in the corner (one of which was his old friend, Sakura).

Naruto knew, no matter how far away these people were, he couldn't risk grilling Obito about his employer. He wouldn't risk being found out on his first day. Regardless of how tempting the chance may be.

"So where do I start?"

Obito smirked at him and jerked his head backwards, letting the blond know he could come behind the bar.

----X----

The meeting with the boss was actually just a meeting between two friends, a glass bottle of whisky on the table between them. Though Kakashi had opted for a beer, leaving the whisky for his drinking partner.

"Kiba was surprisingly proficient handling the delivery last week," Madara informed him, taking a small sip of his drink. "I was suitably impressed, you did a good job putting the fear of God into him."

Kakashi shrugged. "Seven did all the work there, not me."

"I hear you also have a new barman, how's he shaping up?"

"Obito's training him right now, actually. We'll see how fast he learns in a bit."

"Is he cute?"

"Gorgeous."

Madara grinned around the rim of his glass. "Can I steal him? Or have you already staked your claim?"

Kakashi eyed his friend wearily. "Not yet. He supposedly has a boyfriend. Don't know how much I believe that but I think I have a fair chance to change that."

"Is this unofficial stake claiming, Kakashi?" The dark-haired man asked with a grin and a fake gasp. "Simply unheard of."

Kakashi scoffed. "Blond and blue eyes are more my type than yours." He pointed out, dropping his empty beer bottle on the table between them.

"Oh yes, don't worry. I haven't forgotten your little crush back in the day. What was his name? Mina-something?"

"Minato." The silver-haired man agreed with a thoughtful nod. "If I'm completely honest..." Kakashi lost himself in thought, mind dredging up memories of stunning blue eyes and flawless blond hair. He gave a small cough, returning to the present and flicking his gaze back to his friend. "If I'm completely honest, I see so much of Minato in Jamie... It's unreal."

Madara gave him a levelled look and Kakashi could see the cogs working in overdrive in the other man's mind.

"Have you thought, maybe Jamie is somehow connected to Minato?" He asked, placing his almost finished drink down on the table and crossing his leg over his knee. "I mean, that man was in the police force, was he not?"

Kakashi nodded, gaze wondering and he stared at nothing in particular. "Yeah, I thought about it. I mentioned it to Seven when I first enquired about getting Jamie a job here. We looked into both of them, but..."

He stood up and crossed to the desk on the other side of the room, grabbing a folder from its top and flicking it open. "Seven send this across to me." He explained, showing his longtime friend the two photos on the page. "The similarities... Are outstanding."

The dark-haired man stared wide-eyed at the two beaming faces staring up at him. "No shit." He muttered.

"Minato... I knew I'd never have a chance with him. He married a woman called Kushina, not long after my father died. However, I hear she passed away in a car accident several years after they wed, along with their five-year-old son."

The dark-haired man glanced up at his friend. "Information can be falsified. You know this better than anyone. How many times have you tampered with confidential police information, under Seven's orders?"

"I know that." Kakashi all but hissed. "Don't worry, I'm not stupid enough to risk everything Seven has worked so hard for. Not for this."

Madara eyed his friend for a little longer before sighing and closing his eyes. He reached out and reclaimed his abandoned drink, taking a long gulp of the amber liquid. "I'm glad." He muttered eventually. "I'm glad this won't all be lost on a mere whim."

----X----

"You're late!" Naruto gasped out as Kakashi finally returned to the bar some several hours later. The silver-haired man gave him a sheepish grin.

"Sorry, I got lost on the road to life."

Behind him, someone scoffed.

"You're drunk again. Were you drinking with uncle?" Sasuke asked, handing his new colleague the crate of drinks he had been carrying.

"Your uncle is a very enlightening man and you should treat him with a little more respect." The silver-haired man chided gently. "Anyway, he's interested in you." He added as if suddenly remembering. Naruto blanched.

"Me? Why's he interested in me?" The blond cried, gaining the attention of some of their patrons. He blushed and swivelled back to Kakashi, lowering his voice considerably as he hissed, "I'm nothing special!"

Kakashi leered at him and wrapped an arm around the blond's waist, pulling him close. He nuzzled into Naruto's cheek and pressed a soft kiss there. "He's my oldest friend. Just looking out for me." He drawled as if that would explain everything. "He just wants to make sure my new boy toy is good enough for me."

Sasuke bit back a laugh at Naruto's terrified expression and the blond tried to push the older man away.

"I told you I'm seeing someone. I'm not your boy toy."

"Just humour him, Jamie. And make sure you film it on your phone. This is years worth of blackmail at my fingertips."

Naruto glared at the raven. "Fuck you."

"No thanks." Sasuke scoffed, folding his arms over his chest and turning away. "I don't swing that way. Besides, he's right. Whether or not you're in a relationship with this oaf or your mystery man, uncle is only looking out for Kakashi. He doesn't bite. Not even if you ask him nicely."

Kakashi grabbed the blond's hand and tried to pull him away from the bar. "C'mon, it won't take long. Then I'll take you home and you can tell your dear daddy how mean and scary we all are."

Naruto blinked at the silver-haired man. "What?"

Kakashi laughed. "You're dad's had it in for me since the moment I offered you this job, don't deny it."

"Fine." The blond groused, if only because Madara Uchiha intrigued him a little. That the man had managed to hide himself from all manner of law enforcement for thirty years was an impressive feat, one Naruto wanted to know a little more about. He could throw Iruka a bone this time, get him a good arrest for his record, when he was only a side agent on this Akatsuki case. And any new information he could glean from the man could help him along the way.

Two birds, one stone. He thought as he allowed Kakashi to lead him from the bar, missing the knowing looks passing between the Uchiha cousins as they watched the two leave.

Madara Uchiha, it turned out, was a man with long dark hair who loomed over Naruto. The blond swallowed thickly and gave the older man a weak, shaky smile which was returned as he was ushered into the room.

"Jamie Dawson." The man's voice was deep, tone sounding soothing but doing the exact opposite to Naruto who shivered involuntarily. "I've heard a lot about you."
The blond stared, wide-eyed. "From who?"

Kakashi, sat close next to the blond, snorted in the back of his throat, grinning wildly at the glare shot in his direction. Madara ignored the silver-haired man and retrieved the whisky from the table.

"Drink?" Naruto shook his head and the raven poured himself a hearty glassful. "I hear you're new in town. How are you liking it here?"

Naruto swallowed again. "It's okay. There's not a lot to do unless you go into the town centre, but it's nice. Pretty even. I like the lake."

Madara nodded, approving his answer and Naruto suddenly wished he hadn't turned down the offer of something to wet his dry throat. He didn't even notice Kakashi was no longer next to him until he heard the door click softly behind his neighbour's departure and he stared, wide-eyed, at the empty space. He instantly missed the familiarity by his side, left alone with a man who had terrorised the city in the seventies. He glanced back at the dark-haired man.

Seventies? Jesus, he doesn't look any older than my dad, real or otherwise. He found himself thinking as he studied the man now sat opposite him. Madara was an attractive, intimidating man. How can he be in his fifties?

"I have a couple of questions for you, Jamie." The raven stated suddenly, snapping Naruto out of his thoughts like a slap to the face.

"O-oh?" He hated that he'd stuttered but he couldn't take it back now. Madara noticed his hesitation and dark eyes narrowed ever so slightly. Watching the boy, he plucked a piece of paper from the table and twirled it around his fingers.

After a few more moments silence, he stopped twirling the page and reached over, offering it to the blond. Naruto took it with shaking fingers and flipped it over in his hand. It wasn't a piece of paper. It was a photo.

A photo of his real father. Minato Namikaze.

He stared at the picture for a moment, trying not to let his expression give anything away.

"Do you know that man, Jamie?" The raven asked after a moment. Naruto shook his head, gathering himself before he looked back at the man. He held the photo out for Madara to take back.

"I've never seen him before in my life." He was almost disgusted how easily the lie came to his lips and how easily he disregarded his own father, even if it were for his protection. "Who is he?"

Madara gazed at him with a calculating look. "He's an investigator from the Konoha Military Police. He's been looking into The Akatsuki for some time now but hasn't made any headway."

Naruto decided to play dumb. "Excuse me, who?"

"It doesn't matter who they are, only that the man in that photo is looking into them." The raven took a long drink from his glass, eying Naruto over the rim. "What concerns me at the moment is his appearance." He held the photo up for Naruto to see once more, two fingers gently clutching it at the bottom. "He looks an awful lot like you, don't you think?"

Slowly, the blond nodded. "Yeah. I... I guess he really does."

"Almost like looking in the mirror, no?"

"I guess."

"And you're sure you don't know this man?"

"Positive." He said it with more confidence than he felt, but Madara eyed him carefully for a few more moments before putting the photo down on the table, picture side up.

"Tell me about your family, Jamie."

"Well... as far as I know, my biological parents couldn't afford to raise a child when I was born so I was left the waiting room at a hospital. I was put in an orphanage where mum and dad found and adopted me."

"Have you ever looked for your biological parents?"

Naruto nodded. "Once or twice, yeah. I never found anything though."

"And are you tempted now? Seeing this man that looks so much like you?"

Naruto hesitated before nodding slowly once more, knowing he had to tread carefully here. His eyes flickered to the picture on the table between them, pretending to study the features of the father he knew so well. "A little, yeah. But... dad needs me right now. As much as he won't admit it, I know he's still hurting over mum leaving. I can't just go gallivanting off on the chance that this might be my real father."

The dark haired man hummed quietly, watching Naruto over the rim of his glass once more, eyes calculating. The blond fought not to squirm in his seat under that gaze. He knew his performance there was flawless; most of it rehearsed, some of it from experience. Minato Namikaze was still hurting, even though his wife had passed away almost eighteen years ago.

But this man... Madara Uchiha. He had been around for a long time. Spent most of his young adulthood working diligently under a woman that wanted to have him killed. He had noticed this, saw through it, seen the change in the way she treated him and worked alongside him. He knew. And he did something about that.

The blond could only hope he didn't see through this.

After what seemed like an eternity, Madara got to his feet and strode purposefully over to the desk where the bottle sat waiting for him. He poured himself another drink and, this time, Naruto didn't refuse when he was offered one as well. He forced his fingers not to shake as he took the offered glass with a nod of thanks, taking a big gulp and letting the amber liquid burn his throat on the way down.

Madara resumed his position opposite him.

"Tell me," he began, swirling the drink around in the glass. "Would you like to know a little more of The Akatsuki?"

----X----

Several hours had passed when the blond finally emerged from Madara's office with a small, silly grin on his face. Kakashi was waiting for him outside, having apparently sobered up some, and he gave the blond a beaming smile. Naruto didn't have time to work out what was happening as he was swept into a bone-crushing hug by the older man.

"Wha-" he gasped out. Kakashi pressed a kiss to his cheek.

"You passed." The silver-haired man beamed, taking Naruto's chin gently between finger and thumb and turning his head so their lips could meet.

Naruto pushed him away, quicker than he had the first time.

"You've gotta stop doing that." He grumbled, freeing himself from Kakashi's arms. "I told you I'm-"

"Yeah, I know." The silver haired man said with a playful growl, leaning closer. Naruto backed up until his back hit the wall behind him and Kakashi grinned. "And I don't particularly care. Tell him where to stick it and we can have some fun."

Naruto frowned, not used to such forcefulness. Both he and Itachi had been shy, more reserved, when perusing one another and it took several years before they finally got together. This forwardness was different, exciting almost. Almost.

"Not gonna happen." He bit out, frown deepening as Kakashi grinned again. The older man dove in, pressing a searing kiss to the blond's lips that left them both breathless. A kiss that Naruto found himself unable to pull away from. Then the silver-haired man turned away and waved absently for Naruto to follow him.

"We'll see. C'mon, I'll take you home."

Chapter Text

This... happened sooner than I wanted it to...

But, what I actually wanted to happen didn't work and annoyed me too much, sooooooooo....

 

I'm just gonna leave this here....


 

While Naruto hadn't screamed 'I'm in! Sign me up! Give me all the gory details!' at the top of his lungs after his meeting with Madara, he was genuinely surprised at how little information had been offered. Most mornings, when he arrived at the hotel with Kakashi at his side (because Kakashi had insisted he drive Naruto there and back every day) already hushed conversations were ceased immediately and he was left alone to get the bar ready for their morning patrons. Kakashi would simply drop a kiss on his cheek or slap his bottom before reeling out a list of jobs to do and leaving with the rest of the bar team. Sometimes that included Sakura, but apparently Sasuke still didn't trust him and she was sent to work at the games shop more often than not, leaving Naruto almost no chance to talk business with her.

He sometimes had to take a shift on at the games shop, as well, taking over for his brutish colleague Kiba when he had to 'deal with a delivery'. His VIP membership was automatically rejected once he joined the team, though Kakashi explained he was entitled to more free games as an employee along with more... special perks should he ask for them. He didn't go into more detail.

Naruto had been tempted to ask what those special perks were, but didn't want to come off as too eager.

With his time split between working the two jobs and only having one day off a week, the blond was short of opportunities to talk to Iruka about the case. And on his days off, Kakashi was always there, diminishing his already lacking chances further.

Today, however, was Saturday; a rare day that both he and Iruka would share off and his pretend father insisted they spend the day shopping in the city together. With Christmas fast approaching, even Kakashi relented and left the two to their devices for the day - though he was adamant about stealing the blond for a meal when they returned.

"So, have you found anything interesting out?" The brunette muttered. The two were in a cafe in the heart of the city, as far away from prying eyes as they could be, though close enough to their headquarters that Naruto had been tempted to flee into Itachi's arms.

"No." He replied, just as quietly. "Sasuke doesn't trust me fully and he's been insisting that I stay clear for a while. Though I did overhear Kakashi on the phone the other day. Apparently, there's a shipment coming in three weeks."

Iruka did the maths in his head. "Christmas Day?" The blond nodded. "And he said shipment, not delivery?"

"Definitely. I know what you're thinking. This isn't an average shop delivery."

"You need to get in on that shipment somehow. Have you figured out who's in charge?"

Naruto swallowed thickly. No. He hadn't. The days following after his initial meeting with Madara, he had replayed the events in his mind over and over. Kakashi had said he was meeting with the boss and later admitted to drinking with the oldest Uchiha. Of course, he could have been lying about his whereabouts in the first place and he just wanted a couple hours to himself.

Or, Madara was in charge.

Naruto hadn't seen the man since their impromptu meeting several weeks ago and at first, he had simply assumed that one who ran an organisation such as the Akatsuki wouldn't work in close quarters with his minions.

However, he considered that even Sakura hadn't figured out who the leader was. Maybe she was trusted as little as he was, but she and Sasuke seemed close. In the rare moments the blond had been alone with and able to speak to his old friend, she had mentioned having met the leader once. She spoke only of an orange, swirled mask. Nothing more.

He sighed and shook his head. "No. I have a few ideas but nothing to prove or disprove any of them."

"Who are you looking at?"

"Madara, for one." The blond said, lowering his voice more. "He's the oldest person I've met there, his acts and talks with so much knowledge and authority. He's intimidating. Cunning. Clever. Always thinking ten steps ahead. Honestly? He kinda scares me.

"Then there's Kakashi. Everyone listens to him. They're careful with how they act and speak to him. He carries himself like a leader. According to the profile I managed to get from headquarters, he joined not long after his father's death. Which makes me think maybe his dad was in charge and he took over. But the information on his father is as scattered as Kakashi himself."

"How did you run Kakashi's name? I thought he hadn't told you his last name?" Iruka was surprised, but very impressed. After their initial disagreement when they'd arrived in their new home, he hadn't realised how much work the blond had put into his investigation.

"He didn't. Madara called him a few weeks ago and I overheard their conversation in the kitchen. I think he was making a cup of tea or something, so he had the call on speaker. I was supposed to be in the shower so I guess he felt safe doing that and I'm pretty sure he doesn't know I overheard. His full name is Kakashi Hatake, according to what Madara was barking at him between orders."

Iruka tried to ignore that Kakashi was in the house while Naruto was having a shower and nodded. "And your third?"

"Obito Uchiha. Mostly for the same reasons as Kakashi. He's listened to, people are careful around him, intelligent, vigilant. He's not as scary as Madara is, but he has a walk and a talk about him. Like he's seen some shit and he's not afraid to get his hands dirty."

Iruka nodded again, deep in thought as he processed this new information. "Going on your gut instinct." He muttered at last. "Who would you put your money on?"

Naruto stared off at nothing in particular as he thought about his answer. He was tempted to say Madara, based purely on how the older man had made him feel during that meeting several weeks ago. But when he closed his eyes and tried to picture the head of the Akatsuki, all that came to mind was silver hair and grey eyes.

"Kakashi." He said at last, not looking the least bit confident with his answer. "I don't know why... just... there's something about him."

"Ok. You concentrate on Kakashi and I'll keep looking into the other two."

----X----

Kakashi kept his promise of a meal, appearing at their garden gate almost as soon as they pulled up in their drive. The two agents allowed him to help carry their bags and he followed them into the house. Naruto shoo'd him into the kitchen as he took his bags from their pile and stumbled into his room. He could hear his work partner strike up a conversation with Kakashi as he dropped his bags onto his bed.

He didn't have much shopping; they supposedly didn't know many people around here yet so too much was suspicious. But he had managed to sneak a couple of presents for his colleagues back home, including Jiraiya, his real father and Itachi. He would post them off the next time he had a day off and managed to shake Kakashi off long enough to slip into the town centre.

Much to his own surprise, he had found himself staring at a necklace whilst in the city. It was simple, silver and red swirled together, and reminded him of an eye. He'd bought it without thinking but already knew who would be receiving it. It practically screamed Kakashi at him and he blushed as he stowed it away.

When he was ready to leave, he was surprised to find he wasn't going far. Kakashi laces their fingers together - much to Naruto's chagrin - and pulled him across the road to his own bungalow. Eight dogs immediately swamped them as they entered the home and Naruto found himself in the middle of a party that was already in full swing.

He was impressed that so many people could fit into the tiny building.

Naruto grimaced and leant into the arm around his waist. "I thought you said we were going out for dinner?"

"There's food over there." The hand on the blond's waist tightened slightly and Naruto felt his cheeks heat up. "If I'd known you wanted time alone with me, I would have cancelled the party. Though I think Ino and Hinata would have killed me if I did."

"I-I never said I wanted to be alone with you!" Naruto spluttered, ignoring the older man pointing out the two girls he mentioned. The blond swallowed almost nervously as he looked around the full living room. "I'm just... not very good with this many people..."

Kakashi gave the blond an encouraging smile, oblivious to Naruto's internal strife. The young agent was trying to commit all of these new faces to memory, wondering which of them were involved.

"You'll be fine," Kakashi promised, taking advantage of the blonds temporary distraction. "I'll be here, and there's Sasuke and Kiba."

Naruto resisted the urge to groan as Kakashi pulled him further into the house and the group of people he didn't know cheered loudly at their entrance. Several people he didn't know came straight over to him and introduced themselves to him, pulling him away from Kakashi. Despite his earlier grumblings, Naruto suddenly desperately didn't want to be separated from the silver-haired man.

Though he was annoyed that almost everyone was convinced he and Naruto were already a couple.

In the moment of being dragged into a sea of unknown people, Naruto lost sight of Kakashi and he felt a frown slip onto his face as he looked around. As two girls pulled him onto a soft, comfortable sofa, he spotted the silver-haired man disappearing into a separate room with Madara Uchiha. Before the door closed behind them, the Uchiha's eyes met his across the room and Naruto suppressed a shudder.

He didn't like that look.

The girls nattered away either side of him, rambling about something inane that Naruto really wasn't interested in. Instead, he took his time memorising the faces around him.

The dark-haired girl on his right he - thankfully - knew. Her name was Hinata and she was normally quite quiet and reserved, only really speaking up if something - or someone - truly irritated her. She worked on the reception at the hotel and there was always something about her that reminded him of someone, but he hadn't yet managed to put his finger on what that was.

The other girl, blond, pretty and curved in all the right places, pressed herself into Naruto's side, flirting shamelessly with him even though Sasuke had already snapped that Naruto was as gay as they come.

After a few more minutes pretending to listen to the two girls, he excused himself and slipped into the kitchen and out into the garden. As he leant against the wall and pulled a packet of cigarettes from his pocket, he heard two low voices around the side of the garages.

"I'm still in shit for what you did, you arsehole."

"I never asked you to get involved." Came the reply and Naruto recognised the voices as belonging to Sasuke and Kiba. "Besides, it was Hinata's idea. It was a lot of fun."

Sasuke growled. "Killing someone is fun?" He hissed and Naruto unconsciously slipped further into the shadows for fear of being caught.

"He had it coming! You heard what Hinata said about him! He worked for the KMP!"

Are they talking about Agent Hyuuga? Naruto wondered, unconsciously leaning further away. His heart thundered loudly in his chest and he half expected them to hear it.

Sasuke sighed and stalked angrily around the corner, arms folded across his chest. "You're fucked in the head, you know that, right? I'm sick of Seven breathing down my neck because of your fucking mistakes."

"Fine. Whatever. I don't care what you think anymore." Kiba snapped, his voice rising. "Next time one of those little Agent fucks come around, you're on your own."

The brunette pushed harshly passed the other, storming back into the house. Sasuke lit a cigarette, took several deep drags before wasting the rest and slipping back into the house. Naruto waited for a few moments more, in case either man came back, before coming out of the shadows and lighting his own cigarette, immersing himself in thought.

The sound of the back door opening loudly made him jump and he spun around to come face to face with Sasuke. The raven frowned, moving to stand with him and lighting a joint. Neither of them said anything for a long time, both chasing the thoughts racing around their minds.

"I'm surprised you're not in there." Sasuke muttered, breaking the silence and jerking his head back towards the party still going on inside without them.

Naruto raised an eyebrow as he dropped his finished cigarette to the floor and stomped it out. "I'm not very good with large crowds. Didn't realise you cared that much, though."

The raven laughed softly. "I don't particularly care. I don't trust you enough to care. More curious than anything."

"Figured you didn't trust me." The blond muttered. "What are you curious about?"

Sasuke was silent for a few moments, the joint between his fingers doing wonderings for calming him down. "Who you are, where you're from, that sort of thing. I'm really interested to know who Mr. Mystery is."

"Why?"

"Poor boy needs putting out of his misery." He flicked his half-finished joint away. Naruto frowned. "What with you and Kakashi all over one another."

"I'm not all over him!" The blond spluttered indignantly. "He's the one always clamouring over me! Despite how many times I'm not interested and I'm already seeing someone."

Sasuke huffed a soft laugh and put his arm around the blond's shoulder, pulling him close. "I'll let you in on a little secret." He muttered, his grip on Naruto's shoulder tightening and making the other wince. "What Kakashi wants, he gets. He wants you. And as much as you try to deny it, you want him too."

He pulled away then, leaving the blond confused and his arm suddenly cold. Neither of them said anything for a long time and at some point during that silence, the darker haired man pulled out another joint and lit it. Naruto absently waved the smoke away from him, lost in his thoughts.

"Did you have fun with your dad, today?"

Naruto jumped at the sudden break in silence and looked over at his colleague. Sasuke was frowning and wouldn't meet the blonds eye, only speaking because he simply couldn't stand the awkward silence any longer. Naruto sighed.

"He made me sit on Santa's knee. In the middle of the city." He mumbled angrily. There was a beat of silence before the other burst into laughter, holding his stomach.

"Oh, god. Are you serious!" He huffed out between laughter and Naruto pulled his phone out to show him the picture. "Oh, shit! You poor fucker!"

Naruto smirked and put the phone down between them with a shrug. "It was worth it to see dad smile the way he did. It's... been a while since he smiled like that."

Sasuke looked away then, thoughtful. "Hmm," he hummed. "I know what you mean. My brother up and disappeared on us several years ago. Mum hasn't been the same since."

If Sasuke noticed the agent tense at those words, he didn't say anything, choosing instead to stare at something unknown at the other end of the garden. Naruto shifted uncomfortably. Itachi had already told him his mother hadn't been all happy when she left. Hearing it from his boyfriend's brother made it all seem more real to him. Sasuke was a criminal, despite the semi-friendly conversation they had just shared, and Naruto was going to put him away for life.

Suddenly, the blond needed a drink.

He all but jumped from his seat, earning a strange look from his dark-haired companion, and he shifted his weight between his feet.

"I'm gonna get a drink, want one?"

Sasuke studied him for a moment, before nodding slowly. "Sure, I'll wait out here. Don't want to deal with Kiba."

Naruto nodded at the brief explanation and darted into the kitchen. Sasuke sighed and leant back, thoughts on his estranged older brother. He'd be hard pressed to admit that he actually missed the older Uchiha, though he had kept some tabs on Itachi in the decade since he'd last seen him. He knew what the man did for a living, knew that he lived in the capital. He hadn't been fortunate to find any further information, such as private life, but that was still a work in progress.

Naruto's phone rang loudly from its place on the bench next to him, making him jump. After a second's hesitation, he picked it up - fully intending to follow the blond into the kitchen. However, the name 'Ian' with a heart flashed across the screen and Sasuke grinned, taking only a moment to debate it before picking the phone up and answering it. He pressed it to his ear.

"Hey, dude, I don't suppose you happen to be dating Jamie Dawson, do you?"

"Huh? Who is this?"

Sasuke frowned. That voice sounded familiar. "Jamie Dawson? Blond hair, blue eyes? Overexcited puppy when he sees something shiny?" He paused, still trying to place that voice. "Anyways, if you're dating him or not, it doesn't really matter. You can pass the message on for me. He's found someone better and has moved on."

"What are you doing?" Naruto's voice made Sasuke jump and he turned with a small smirk.

"Doing you a favour." He explained simply. "I told you I wanted to do it. Oh, hey. Is it Ian?"

"Sasuke, give me the phone. Now."

"Sasuke? What's going on?"

The raven paused, holding Naruto away with a single hand. His own fingers trembled around the phone and he stared at his colleague. Confusion and disbelief sped across his pale features as his mind finally put a face to the voice in his ear.

"Itachi?"

Chapter Text

Soooo... this is probably gonna be the last chapter of 2017. Mostly cause of holidays and family stuffs we all have to do. But also partly because the next chapter isn't being very friendly. It doesn't currently want to be written >_>

I'll leave you with holiday blessings and happy new year wishes and I'll see ya in 2018 ^.^

Enjoy x


 

Naruto watched in an almost comically horrified fashion as that name tumbled from pale pink lips. He swallowed thickly as his raven colleague stared openly at him and he only prayed he looked more confused than scared. His heart pounded thunderously in his chest, louder than it had earlier. Neither said anything for a long time, the heavy silence in the cold night air broken only by music still streaming from the house behind them and the occasional squeal of laughter from its occupants.

Slowly, the confusion and disbelief that marred the pale face slowly morphed into unabashed anger that rivalled Naruto's own. The sudden anger washed over Naruto, almost bowling him over with its intensity. He was angry at Itachi for calling him now of all times - they had a time set up specifically, when they knew they would be safe to talk freely. Furious at Sasuke for messing around with his phone. Absolutely livid with himself for leaving such an important and devastatingly crucial link to who he really was unattended.
Sasuke had taken to his feet while the blond screamed internally at his stupidity, the phone still pressed to his ear. His brother's voice had long ago ceased, the phone call long over. Trembling fingers tightened around the device as Naruto finally found his voice.

"Sasuke, give me my phone."

The raven pulled the device away from his ear, looking down at it between his fingers, the screen now blank. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath in through his nose before he could open them again. The look he threw in Naruto's direction made the young agent take a step back.

"Why do you have my brother's number?"

Naruto frowned, stomach coiling into knots. "I wasn't aware that I did." He mumbled, hoping he sounded more confused than wary.

Sasuke didn't give him a chance to take another step back.

In a flash he had thrown the blonds phone through the kitchen window, the sound of the glass shattering sounding like an explosion in the cold night air. The next thing Naruto knew, he was pinned to the wall of Kakashi's house with Sasuke's arm pressed hard against his throat. Tan fingers clawed at the arm and Naruto tried desperately to suck in air while the other screamed in his face.

"Why do you have my brothers number?!"

Naruto's mouth opened and closed uselessly as he tried to breathe and find his words at the same time. The arm was pulled back, though only slightly, allowing the blond to pull in air.

"I don't know what you're talking about!" He wheezed.

"Ian," Sasuke growled, repositioning his arm and curling the fingers of both his hands into the blonds clothing.

"What about him?" Naruto croaked out, gripping Sasuke's wrists and trying to pull his hands away. The raven slackened slightly, dark eyes narrowed and calculating.

"His real name is Itachi. Did he send you here?" He snarled, voice still harsh. The blond flinched slightly at the tone. "Do you work for the KMP, too?"

"The KM... who? I don't know what you're talking about!" Sasuke hissed at his answer, pulling him close by his clothing before slamming him back against the wall. "Sasuke, stop! You're hurting me!"

"I don't give a fuck if I'm hurting you," the raven snarled, emphasising just how little he cared with a shout. Behind him, he was vaguely aware of the door opening and closing as he reapplied the pressure against the blond. "Now tell me how you know him."

"Sasuke?" Came Kakashi's gentle baritone and Naruto couldn't decide if he were glad of the silver-haired man's appearance or not. "Jamie? What's going on?"

"This little shit," Sasuke growled, slamming Naruto against the wall again. "Has been playing you for a fool the whole time. His boyfriend just called. It's my brother."

Naruto forced himself to act surprised, allowing his eyes to widen. "W-what? No, that's not true! Ian's an only child!" He stuttered, renewing his efforts to push Sasuke away. "Where's my phone? Let me call him, he'll straighten it out!"

He sincerely hoped his bluff worked; he had absolutely no intention of calling Itachi and could only pray that one, or both, of the men watching him would believe his innocence. Kakashi held up the blonds annihilated phone with a raised eyebrow and Naruto almost sighed with relief.

Sasuke seemed prepared to throw the blond to the ground and kick him in the head until he talked, until the older man dropped a gentle hand on his shoulder and pulled him away from the blond. The look he shot at Naruto had him pinned against the wall with as much effectiveness as his hands had. Naruto was, genuinely, too scared to move and had to remind himself that - despite having grown friendly with some of these people over the last few weeks - they were dangerous and one wrong move would have them turning against him.

"Jamie, stay there," Kakashi mumbled in a soft voice, though it was unnecessary. Naruto lifted his chin in a nod and scooted closer to the wall, finding inane solace in the brick against his back. He watched the silver-haired man muttering to Sasuke under his breath and he had to force himself not to lean forward and listen in. He had a feeling this was a conversation he didn't want to overhear, especially with the looks Sasuke kept shooting in his direction.

After what felt like an age, Sasuke nodded his head and took an offered cigarette. He looked back over at the blond once more and held a single finger up, muttering something unheard to his boss, before stalking over to Naruto and slamming his fist into the blonds nose.

"Sasuke," Kakashi growled in a warning as the blond cried out with the hit, smacking his head back against the wall with a crack. "Just get out of here. Get that job done and when you get back, come see me. I'll have another job waiting for you."

Sasuke lit his cigarette and stormed from the garden, kicking the side gate open and disappearing into the night. The gate crashed loudly against the wall and Kakashi watched after him for a long moment, ignoring Naruto behind him nursing his bloody nose. After a while, the silver-haired man disappeared into the kitchen and came back out seconds later with a bag of frozen peas, wrapped in a tea towel. He took Naruto's hand and led him to the bench, sitting him down.

"For the swelling." He muttered, pressing the cold bag none too gently to Naruto's nose and ignoring the hiss he received. Naruto mumbled his thanks and rested his hand on the bag, their fingers brushing. He told himself he didn't care when Kakashi's hand snapped away as if burnt.

The older man sighed.

"Tell me the truth."

Naruto swallowed thickly. "I met him when I was on holiday with my parents, back when they were still together. He told me his name was Ian, he lived in the same district as me in London. When we both got back, we started hanging out. Then, you know, got together. That was it, I swear. He told me his own parents lived in America. And when they moved out there he lived with some friends until he could afford his own place. I promise I don't know what Sasuke's talking about."

Kakashi watched the blond carefully, eyes scouring the younger face and searching for any hint of a lie. Naruto gazed back in earnest, eyes brimming with pain from his nose and begging the older man to believe him. Kakashi sighed again and took a seat at the other end of the bench, as far away from Naruto as possible.

The blond tried to act like that didn't hurt more than his nose.

"Madara told you about Akatsuki." The simple statement was muttered and almost inaudible. "He told you what they're infamous for, told you what they do and who they are."
Naruto nodded along, slightly confused. Why was Kakashi telling him this?

"Once you become a part of it, betrayal means death. Not just for you, but for your loved ones, too. I only know of one person who was exempt from that rule and if you stick around long enough, you might learn his name."

"But not tonight?"

Kakashi shook his head, staring between his feet at the ground. "Not tonight. Did he give you any names?"

Naruto shook his own head, turning to look at his silver-haired companion. "No. He didn't. But I've had my suspicions since our talk."

Kakashi snorted a derisive laugh. "You know where I'm going with this, don't you? You're more intelligent than you let on."

"Blame the video games." The blond joked dryly. "I like the mystery ones best, where you have to figure things out with only small clues." He paused as he watched the older man and Kakashi raised his head, their eyes meeting in the dark. "You're part of it, aren't you? You, Sasuke, Madara... everyone in there..."

There was no hesitation with Kakashi's curt nod and Naruto closed his eyes, the hand holding the peas dropping to his side as he opened them again, staring across the empty garden. Wordlessly, Kakashi pulled his trouser leg up and revealed a small tattoo nestled just beneath the back of his knee. Naruto glanced at it, bright red and shaped like a cloud it felt ominous. Almost like a death sentence. It answered his question.

He, instead, directed a new one to the silver-haired man, one he almost didn't want to know the answer to.

"I'm in over my head, aren't I?" He mumbled, knowing exactly where this conversation was going. "With you, with this whole little town. Fuck, why couldn't we have moved to Devon."

Kakashi snorted. "You have no idea. But this place isn't all bad. You just gotta get used to it." The silver-haired man got to his feet and cast his eyes to the skies. A fluttering of soft snow began to fall and the two watched in silence for a few moments before Kakashi turned to head inside. "It's probably best if you stay here tonight. We've got a long drive in the morning."

Naruto nodded, dislodging a few stray snowflakes from his hair as the older man hovered at the door, halfway between in the house and in the garden. "I'll be in in a few minutes."

Kakashi gave him a curt nod, only noticeable if you were looking for it, before disappearing back inside and returning to his party guests. He felt confident the blond wouldn't run away. He didn't have anywhere to run in the first place and Kakashi had learnt - in the short time they knew each other - that Naruto wasn't that kind of person.

----X----

The apartment was dark and silent when he finally managed to pick the lock. The door swung inwards, like he thought it would, and he caught the handle before the door itself slammed against anything. It had taken longer than he had hoped to get here, thanks to the snow that started falling, and it was almost two in the morning now. He didn't need neighbours hearing him crashing about and coming out to investigate. After a moment to make sure the halls behind him were still empty, he crept inside, closing the door with a soft click behind him. He paused in the entryway, eyes darting around him.

The distant sound of a leaky tap reached his ears.

Sneaking quietly through the entrance, he found himself in a large, tidy living room with the kitchen to his right. The left wall was lined with bookshelves filled with games, books and movies. A few framed photos were arranged along it. He stalked over and grabbed one of the pictures, staring down into two faces he recognised. His brother and his new blond colleague sat grinning at the camera, arms around each other in various places and the lights of an arcade lighting them from behind. Sasuke sucked in a breath; he hadn't seen his brother that happy for a long time.

Clutching the photo tight in his hand, he made his way almost silently through the apartment and into the kitchen.

In the kitchen, he found the source of the dripping and, despite himself, turned the tap off to stop the annoying noise. He placed the picture frame on the counter beside him and stood at the sink for a few moments, hands leaning against the cold metal. His thoughts strayed from his job to his brother without hesitation.

"Most people knock."

The voice behind him made him jump and Sasuke spun around in place. His eyes narrowed as they met matching ones across the darkened room and he folded his arms over his chest. Itachi stood before him and if he looked surprised to see his kid brother after so many years, he didn't show it. Sasuke drank in the sight of him. His hair was much longer than it had been when he left, tied in a loose ponytail at the base of his neck. He was taller and looked like he'd been working out a lot.

Sasuke closed his eyes and turned his head away.

"Itachi." He mumbled and it was almost a greeting. The older sibling narrowed his eyes and raised his chin. Sasuke felt his blood boil at the familiar mannerism; Itachi had always looked down on him in that very same fashion and it irked him to know the older man still thought he were the better of the two siblings.

"Why did you come here?"

Sasuke scoffed at Itachi's tone and looked back at his brother, glaring at him. "It's been over a decade since we last saw each other and yet here you are, still thinking you're better than me."

"You're the one that chose the life of a petty criminal." Itachi pointed out, lifting himself onto the counter and folding his hands in his lap. He looked down his nose at his younger brother and Sasuke bit back the urge to throw something. "I'm the one working to stop people like you."

"I may be a criminal," the younger man snarled. "But at least I didn't turn my back on my family. I didn't rip my parent's hearts out because I thought I was better than them."

"Perhaps." Itachi agreed with a small, barely noticeable, nod. "But answer me this; what do you think you do to the families of your victims ?"

Sasuke slammed a hand down on the counter, the sound echoing through the apartment. "I didn't come here for a pissing contest!" He snapped, turning furious eyes to his brother. Itachi inclined his head once more.

"Then why are you here?"

"I have a message," Sasuke muttered, taking a deep breath and forcing himself to calm down. "Stay away from Jamie. He doesn't concern you anymore. He doesn't want you anymore. He's... upgraded. If you have any contact with him, you will regret it. Understand?" He grabbed at the photo, waving it in front of his brother. "And times like these will be a distant memory." With a lazy flick of his wrist, he flung the frame across the room. It slammed into the fridge and shattered with a satisfying crash.

Itachi's eyes widened ever so slightly and if the younger man hadn't been paying attention, he would have missed it. Itachi shrugged, though it made his heart ache to do so.

"It's not like I loved him anyway. He was just something to pass the time when I wasn't working."

Sasuke scoffed. "You think you're better than me with that attitude? Shit, you're a fucking arsehole."

Itachi inhaled sharply, slipping off the counter and stalking to the door. He opened it for his younger brother who had followed him from the kitchen. "Anything else?"

Sasuke huffed a disbelieving laugh and shook his head. "No."

"Good. You can leave." Itachi watched quietly as his younger brother wandered through the door without looking back.

"Oh, and Sasuke?" He called, making the other pause and turn. "The next time I see you, you'll be behind bars. I hope you know that."

And he slammed the door shut, turning back to his empty apartment and pretending he couldn't feel his heart breaking with every step.

----X----

Naruto tried to hide his yawn behind his hand, but his companions smirk told him he'd failed. Huffing out a soft sigh, he turned to look out his window, watching the world passing by as Kakashi drove him god only knew where. Apart from the occasional grumbled road rages, the older man spent the entire drive in silence.

"Are you going to tell me where we're going, yet?" He asked if only to hear something other than the gentle hum of the car beneath him.

"You know where we're going," Kakashi stated, keeping his eyes on the road. Naruto bit back another sigh.

"Yeah, I know. But I mean where. Like, London? Cardiff? Brighton? Where?" He didn't care if he sounded like a child; he was tired, dammit!

Kakashi had dragged him out of bed (in the spare room, alone, for which Naruto was eternally grateful) and marched him over the road to his own home to grab an overnight bag, a shower and a change of clothes. At six am. When the party had finally died down at four am. Naruto had not been impressed. Once his overnight bag was ready, Naruto had then been dragged back across the street and locked in Kakashi's car while the older man made several important looking phone calls (if phone calls could look important anyways, but judging by Kakashi's unwavering expression during the calls, then yes. They were important). From the front door. Eyes continually glued on Naruto and the car. The blond really wished he were able to lip-read. If he succeeded in this mission, he would take on classes.

Kakashi glanced at him through the corner of his eyes, a small smirk tugging at his lips. "Cambridge." He said at last. "More specifically, Alconbury Western. Just outside the city proper."

Naruto raised an eyebrow at him. "Ain't that, like, out in the middle of nowhere? Like, with secluded log cabins with no around for miles? This isn't a murder trip, is it? You're not gonna take me to one of these cabins and murder me?"

Kakashi scoffed. "You watch too many movies. No. No cabins and no murders. I promise. And it's not like I'm taking you into backcountry or anything. Alconbury Western is a small little village. Plenty of people around, rest assured."

"Sure," Naruto muttered with a disbelieving huff. He slipped further into his seat and folded his arms over his chest, letting his eyes slip closed. "Can I ask you something?"

Kakashi grunted.

"What did you ask Sasuke to do? Last night, I mean."

The silence in the car was heavy as Kakashi thought carefully about how to word his answer. He knew the blond wouldn't like what he had to say, either way. But he would just have to get on with it. The circumstances couldn't change, after all. As they pulled into traffic, thanks largely to the snow storm during the night, he glanced over at the blond.

"He went to see Itachi." He said at last. Naruto's eyes snapped open and he swung his head around to stare at the older man. Kakashi gave him a levelled look and the blond swallowed audibly.

"What?" He squeaked.

Kakashi studied the blonds reaction carefully. "We still don't know if you were lying, if he sent you. But all Sasuke was told to do was to tell Itachi to... back off."

Naruto frowned. "What do you mean?"

Kakashi scoffed and returned his attention to the slowly moving traffic. "Consider yourself single."

Naruto bolted upright in his seat. "What? What the hell!"

"He lied to you for years." The silver-haired man muttered, surprised. "Why are you so upset? Unless there's something you're not telling me?"

"No, it's not that. I would have preferred the chance to talk to him about it. And anyways, you don't own me, you can't be making my decisions for me."

Kakashi laughed loudly at that, the sound warming Naruto more than he would admit out loud. "You forget, you accepted everything last night by simply not running away. Whether you like it or not, you're a part of this now. And because of the circumstances, one wrong move and I won't be able to protect you."

The blond stayed silent, slumping back into his seat and turning his eyes back out the window. Fuck, he found himself thinking as the traffic crawled along at a snail's pace. I'm so screwed.