What: "The Sand Operation Thing"
Warnings: May get violent
The dark shielded him from anyone out lurking, more specifically the guards of the place, and on this night, Itachi’s sharingan glowed like two luminescent jewels glaring ahead. With measured practice and skill, he hooked his hand onto the outer wall of the Suna palace, pure strength pulling him up as his booted foot dug into the rough surface soon after. And then slowly he climbed, scaling the wall, eyes focused on one spot above him, uncaring of the drop below him, gradually getting steeper. It was only a couple of floors up, his destination, and upon reaching it, Itachi smirked, both forearms gripping onto the ledge as he peered ahead.
With a quick leap, Itachi was over the wall of the ledge and standing on the balcony itself. Stepping closer, he inspected the pane of glass before him. It seemed easy enough to force unlocked, and Itachi set to work on that, attention diverting away from the moon as it drifted behind the clouds, masking the land around him in darkness. At last, it came free, and he pulled the window open, stepping one foot inside of the room and letting out a brief exhalation before catching his breath again. He forced himself to hold it in, not taking in one breath as he moved inside of the dark room, red eyes darting and watching, suspicious.
The bed before Itachi was obviously occupied, but he hardly believed that the inhabitant was truly asleep. His mind immediately set to work on the best way to make it out of here with as little trouble as possible. It shouldn’t be too hard, he knew.
The soft sound of the window opening immediately got his attention. Gaara never slept heavily, if he slept at all, so any noise tended to wake him. There was someone else in the room, though Gaara had no way to sense who it was exactly.
Slowly, Gaara sat up, squinting in the darkness. A moment later, he could make out the other man's sillouhette...
"What are you doing here?"
It was Uchiha Itachi...
A smirk, though the other couldn’t see it, and Itachi stepped forward, rather openly taking a seat on one of the stray armchairs set about the room. It was dark, but he could see the articulately designed chair clearly enough, how the red thread was stitched flawlessly in countless different patterns.
“Least of all, I would have expected you to know… Shukaku.” There wasn’t any particular reason that he was calling Gaara this name, but he knew that if he could just lure the demon out, it would make this all a great deal easier.
Extending a hand, Itachi’s red eyes flashed, and his lips turned up in a sharper, more feral smirk. “We best be on our way, now.”
The demon inside of Gaara stirred at Itachi's words but Gaara surpressed it. Itachi was going to have to do more than that if he really thought he was going to get Gaara to leave with him.
"I'm not going anywhere with you," he said, his voice an emotionless monotone.
Blinking his eyes shut for a brief moment, Itachi gave a disarming little smile, though the rest of his demeanor thoroughly contradicted the odd expression. He tilted his head to one side, eyes still closed, remaning silent for a stretched couple of minutes. When at last Itachi resumed gazing over at the other, his eyes were almost violently red, the black of the Sharingan whirling several paces faster than before.
“Ah, but you’ve already made your agreement. Now you must carry through. If you do not, I will simply kill you, and that will be that.”
Gaara flinched involuntarily. He remembered quite well what those crimson eyes could do...but he was going to give in to Itachi just because he did not want to experience that pain again.
He got to his feet, narrowing his milky eyes at Itachi.
"That was Shukaku who you made an agreement with," he said, "Not me."
Itachi remained seated, looking up at the redhead with mild amusement.
“So it was,” he spoke quietly in response, still smiling slightly. “But it is you that seeks freedom, is it not? I could easily grant you this. Do not be foolish in your stubborn impulses.”
Lounging back against the chair, Itachi pursed his lips, eyes flickering over the elaborately fashioned room in detached listlessness, apparently unconcerned with the current conversation they were having.
"You wouldn't give me freedom," Gaara said, annoyed with Itachi's indifference.
No matter what Itachi said, Gaara did not trust him. While it was true that he wanted freedom, that he wanted to get away from the guards who followed him everywhere, watching every move he made, he was not convinced that going with this foreigner would give him what he wanted...especially since Shukaku was involved.
"Why should I believe anything you say?"
“Because it is all you have at this point,” Itachi stated simply, elbow moving to his knee and chin being placed lightly upon his upturned palm. “Unfortunately, if you refuse to reach a compromise soon, I will be forced to take matters into my own hands. And I very much wish to avoid that.”
Blinking languidly, his caustic stare focused sharply on the other. “Prove to be difficult, and I will not hesitate to kill you, Shukaku or not. Honestly, this decision could be rather painless for you.” Smile fading into a cunning smirk, he continued, “Now what will it be…Gaara? I’ve already spent too much time allowing you your own choice in this situation.”
Gaara watched him carefully. He knew what Itachi said was true; he had proven it all on their first meeting.
If Gaara said he would not go, he would be killed...If he did go, then what would happen? Itachi wanted Shukaku's strength...Would it be possible that he would just take the demon for himself?
As much as Gaara wanted to think that, such a thing seemed way too simple.
"...Tell me what it is you want Shukaku for."
Pleased at this new change in topic, Itachi’s hand fell away from his chin. At least they were getting somewhere now. “Power, Gaara. Is it not what runs this world we live in?”
Though there was obviously more he could tell the other – Leader’s decision, and the Akatsuki’s ideals specifically – he wasn’t about to go ruining this plan that he’d devised so meticulously. The survival rate was moderately slim, though Itachi didn’t entirely know what Sir Leader would do with Gaara to draw Shukaku out. But there was one thing on which he was certain, and that was that the reward would without a doubt be worth it.
That was all? It was such an unbelievably simple desire for a man who seemed so complex.
"Why do you need Shukaku's power when you have abilities of your own?" he asked. As much as he hated to admit it, Itachi had caught his interest.
If Gaara played his cards right, Itachi would be a means to escape from his own hellish situation.
He was going to have to be very careful.
Shaking his head slightly, Itachi answered, “I never said that power was my desire. While it controls some men, I hardly think of it as something that which obsesses me. I am drawn to it, but even then, I have my loyalties.” The amusement in his eyes noticeable once more, and Itachi let this bit of information hang. “You will know what it I mean eventually. Now, we must leave.”
Gaze hardening, he moved to stand as well, arms crossing over his chest. “Have you come to your decision now…Sabaku no Gaara?”
Itachi did not seem to be the sort to threat meaninglessly. Gaara was not afraid but he did not want to remain a prisoner in Suna either...
Temari had tried to make things different but it would never work. The few people who knew him knew about Shukaku...He was tired of being feared.
He would use Itachi to get out of Suna. After that, he would escape from him.
"I will go with you."
Nodding at his success in having Gaara agree with very little trouble after all, Itachi smirked. “Good. However, it is time we leave.”
He paced over to the window and stepped out onto the balcony, peering over the edge of the stone ledge and to the ground stretched out below. Though he undoubtedly knew Gaara could handle getting down by himself, he wasn’t too keen on letting the redhead much out of his sight. Coming to a conclusion, Itachi turned back toward the other, and extended his hand out, narrowing his eyes slightly to hinder the gleam of the Sharingan.
“We do not have time. Come.”
Gaara frowned, almost rethinking his decision. This was going to completely destroy the little bit of trust he had built up with Temari...But he did want to have freedom...though at the same time, Itachi had to be lying.
It should not be that simple.
After a moment, he took Itachi's hand, joining him at the edge of the balcony.
The pleased expression on his face did not waver, only seemed to grow in the intensity of the dark night, and Itachi closed his hand around Gaara’s, pulling lightly to move him closer. He stepped more toward the right side of the balcony, where it was easier to reach the palace’s walls
“We aren’t going to be jumping, obviously; either one of us could break a bone from the fall.” He lifted one foot to hook on the wall of the ledge, and then moved to sit, swinging his leg over to the other side and feeling air catch his foot. Then, he shifted his other leg to do the same, still pulling Gaara with him. At last, with both legs over, he let go of Gaara’s hand in order to turn his body around. Smirking at the redhead, he hung there, only one arm wrapped around the ledge.
“But I think I can carry you easily enough.” Beckoning, Itachi moved to get a firmer grip on the stone, before shifting to hold himself up only from the support of the actual wall beside the balcony. Luckily, the stones had enough grip in them so that he was actually able to do this. Then he waited, watching to see what Gaara would do with obvious amusement. He held out his hand again
...So that was how Itachi had gotten into his room. At first, Gaara had almost thought that he had just appeared there, but apparently, Itachi either did not have such an ability, or simply chose to make things more difficult for himself.
Awkwardly, Gaara climbed over the ledge, gripping the wall as tightly as he could for support. Within moments, the sand that had collected on the walls of the palace had traveled toward him, to catch him if he fell. Often, it acted on its own, almost sensing when he was in a dangerous situation.
He reached over for Itachi's hand, grabbing it with much more force than he had intended.
Glancing down at the sand, Itachi smirked, having known that Gaara would at least provide himself some sort of protection if he were to fall. But the Uchiha wasn’t that clumsy; it wouldn’t happen, and of that he was sure of.
Making certain that the redhead had a firm grip on the wall, Itachi swiftly let go of Gaara’s hand to then wrap his arm tightly around the other’s waist, fingers digging into Gaara’s clothed side enough to bruise. But that wasn’t what he was concerned about. Now one hand less in support, Itachi began the descent downward, as steadily and as quickly as possible. Most of the effort was put into his other arm, and each time his foot hooked onto the wall, he made sure to move his hand slowly down to catch on another stone, never once allowing himself to slip.
At last, only several minutes later, they reached the bottom, and Itachi let Gaara go a few feet off of the ground. The Uchiha dropped down a second later, and glanced once briefly over his head, before starting off down the path that he’d taken to originally get here. “Come on. Quickly.”
"You came here alone?" Gaara asked, keeping his voice low as he followed him away from the wall. Itachi was out of his mind to attempt this alone, though really, a man like him could easily take care of any guards who tried to get in his way.
It had probably been like a walk in the park for him right from the start.
Casting a look over his shoulder, Itachi replied casually, “No. I brought someone along. But he is waiting further away from the palace. We will be there soon.”
Several seconds passed by, before he even thought to add, “Oh. And watch out for the bodies. I didn’t bother removing them from the walkway. I was…in a hurry.” With another smirk, Itachi focused his gaze back ahead. The two of them had circled about a quarter of the palace by now, and when Itachi at last slipped into the backstreets of the Suna kingdom, he retraced his steps easily, weaving through the alleys as though he’d lived there all of his life.
Finally the Uchiha came to a stop, and turned, allowing Gaara to step forward. Expression masked, he gestured from his cousin, back to the redhead. “Gaara, this is Shisui. He is my partner.” He wouldn’t let accommodations go on for too long; they had to leave immediately, and there was no time to waste.
The air of Suna is surprisingly dry in contrast to what Shisui has become accustomed to, and the sound of Itachi's footsteps are clicks and clacks against the solidified sand of the ground beneath his feet. He hitches in a breath (they'd been coming short in recent, the air of the sand is thin) and eyes the redhead, somewhat warming, bowing his head in respectful acknowledgment and blinking a bit of wind-rushed sand from one of his eyes.
"Ara. It is a pleasure to meet you."
Gaara gave the other man a distrustful glare. While he seemed much more polite than Itachi, there was still something about him that did not sit well with Gaara. The demon inside of him was reacting, attempting to force its way into consciousness. Shukaku knew it was getting what it wanted...but Gaara could tell that it was interested in Itachi and Shisui as well. Itachi because of his power...Shisui...there was something else...Something was off about that man.
"Why didn't you come with Itachi last time if you are his partner?" Gaara knew they were in a hurry. Itachi probably did not want him asking too many questions anyway, but Gaara had agreed to come along. He would say what he pleased.
Looking away from the both of them, Itachi began to walk, obviously expecting to be followed. The Uchiha off-handedly replied to Gaara’s question, his voice flat and straightforward, “We trade out. Depending on the situation, we are paired accordingly. Nothing more.”
In his head, he began to estimate how long it would approximately take them to get back to Konoha. A couple of days, at the most? Hopefully there would not be another unexpected run-in as there had been the last time, but he wasn’t too concerned. “Once we reach a certain amount of distance away from Suna, we will stop for the night.” Turning back, he glanced to Shisui, and then to Gaara. To be honest, he’d rather continue traveling on for another twenty-four hours, maybe thirty hours, but he knew that rushing would only make the arrival that much more taxing. However…if Gaara was too tired to put up much of a fight once they’d gotten to Leader…they could benefit. Frowning slightly, Itachi ignored this new thought. He already had his plan. Restraining Shukaku wouldn’t be too difficult; they’d manage easily.
Shisui sighs softly, and Gaara's hardening gaze is somewhat expected, at this point (Itachi's acquaintances possessed similar traits.) returning a slightly dampened lock of hair to where it belonged behind his ear and gazing northward into the sky. There is something incoherently beautiful about the desert in the night, wherein, during the scorching day, the sun is prevalent, and in the evenings the moon is just as, casting movement into the horizon and bringing distant cold drafts up his spine. The day had been long, and the insistence of constant hydration that bounced between the two of them ("Ta-san, your bottle's empty." "Shisui, you're losing color.") lasted for hours until he had been told to wait for Itachi to return.
It isn't really that Shisui is oblivious to the situation at hand. There have been things, awkward things, noticed between the cracks of an awkward silence and the walls of the Akatsuki castle (what a fitting name, my cousin) - and Itachi asking him to accompany him on this trip almost doesn't surprise him when it occurs. (He hadn't been pleased about the fireman.) His muscles were in good condition, and growing stronger every day, returning him to the person, the prodigy he had been forced to be before ("I'll be prayin' for you.")
"It's nice." He says, and the words are abrupt, but soft in the same regard, the moon reflecting vividly in the shadedness of his black eyes. "Though it must be trivial, in time." (And like everything Shisui says, there are a million separate meanings.)
Gaara watched the two of them silently; he had nothing of any real consequence to say. Shisui made him uneasy and no matter what, he knew he would never be able to actually trust Itachi, despite the fact that Itachi had told him that he would give him freedom. It was not true. Gaara knew that he was walking into a very undesirable situation.
He followed them from behind, all the while dealing with the eager demon lurking in his mind. Shukaku was quite aware of what was going on and wanted to make himself known to Itachi and Shisui...But Gaara was not about to let that happen. He did not want a repeat of what happened last time; he wanted to stay in control.
Someone get to it :o