Sometimes Yukimura is the protector.
by Mina Lightstar
Yukimura could be infuriating: When he drank too much, when he paid too much attention to women, when he appeared to take things too lightly. But most of all, Yukimura was annoying when he was bodyguarding his bodyguards.
At least, it irritated Sarutobi Sasuke.
Sasuke kicked at the rough ground of the cavern, his sandals making scratching noises as they scraped dirt. He could be silent as a shadow when he wanted. When he wanted.
"Sasuke," his lord said, soft voice sounding very loud within the confines of the cave.
"What?" Sasuke didn't bother masking his annoyance. Let Yukimura think what he would of it.
The Sanada Lord knelt before him, expression faintly amused. "You're all right?"
"Of course I'm all right," Sasuke snapped, turning his face away and shutting his eyes. "I could have handled myself." And he could have, surely, thought of some way out. He was no stranger to battle; he was part of the Sanada Juuyuushi: Yukimura's ten most powerful and trusted retainers.
That was precisely why Yukimura's intervention irritated him. Of late, their lord, the man they had sworn to protect, seemed to be protecting them more often. First Yukimura's parrying of Kyo's sword -- the sword that might have landed a hit on Saizo -- and now his... rescuing... Sasuke.
Sasuke fumed silently.
"Hmm, you think so?" Yukimura mused, effortlessly brushing off the tenseness in the air. The bastard had some gift when it came to disarming people with mere words or tone of voice. That gift was part of what made Yukimura Yukimura: The man who longed to rule the world, the man whom the Shogun wanted dead.
Saizo had once confessed that he was afraid of Yukimura. Sasuke was more afraid of what Yukimura would get himself into.
Not that Yukimura needed to know that. Knowing him, the man would make a fuss over Sasuke's confession -- a fuss that would probably involve a hug. Strangely, it was the teasing that dissuaded Sasuke, not the embrace. Yukimura was often affectionate with him (a pat on the head, for instance) and it never occurred to Sasuke to mind.
"What now?" He turned around to see Yukimura studying the wall of rock that imprisoned them. "Want me to bust it open?"
"As you like." Always in that Yukimura tone: Light and almost always amused, as though he found something funny or pleasant even though no one else could. At times, it was faintly but carelessly provocative, wanting some sort of reaction and knowing how to get it.
"Stand back, then," Sasuke muttered, tightening his grip on his Muramasa. Yukimura did as he was told, and Sasuke took out his irritation on their prison. He didn't even do anything particularly fancy, simply cut his way through, fueled by annoyance at having his charge come to his rescue.
It wasn't long before they were free, and Sasuke immediately put himself on guard. After a moment of reaching out with his senses, he was satisfied; they were alone.
"We've been separated from the others."
"Not so troublesome," Yukimura said dismissively. "They should be able to take care of themselves for at least a little while. I'm not Kyo's keeper, after all."
Sasuke twitched, the mention of Kyo's name triggering a not-so-distant memory. "I think I know why Yukimura takes care of you." Kyo's words, after their spar, before they went into the Sea of Trees.
"Let's go, then, Sasuke," Yukimura invited, brushing by. He stopped when Sasuke reached out and pulled on his sleeve, and turned, dark hair obscuring more of the Six Mon crest. "Something wrong?"
Something in Yukimura's eyes almost made Sasuke lose his resolve. He wore a gentle, inquiring expression that nearly mirrored the one he'd worn when they'd first met. "You...
"You don't take care of me!" he snapped, releasing Yukimura's clothing and striding -- not stomping, he was not stomping -- on ahead. "I take care of you!"
"And very well," his lord acknowledged, in a voice that carried no mockery.