Disclaimer: Obviously you should know by now we don't own jack. But VIZ does. Can't believe they licensed it. ;-;

Sidenotes: Oh my god, we are so so sorry for not updating. Things have been so hectic in our real lives that we just haven't had time to write or update. I hope you forgive us! Especially with this next chapter. Which is a filler. Ehehehe. -bows- Anyways, to those of you who are heartbroken-like us-about the licensing, hope this brings a smile to your faces.


Chapter Nine

The wind whistled by in a steady breeze as the small group made they way through the throngs of people that adorned the streets of Konoha. The bustling noise was loud but not overly so as venders opened up their shops, ready to welcome the onslaught of customers their products brought. Various scents and smells wafted through the air, grills and ovens cooking, soaps and the like floating through open doors and windows. All in all, it was a good day. Well .. sort of.

"Are we there yet?" The kit cried out, short fingers clinging to locks of sunshine blonde.

"Gah, Shippou! Not so hard!" Naruto said, wincing as his hair was tugged slightly by tiny fists.

Kagome chuckled softly at the two, already feeling the sibling bond starting form, that was in essence similar to the one she had with the kitsune boy. Though her bond with the fox-kit was more like a bond between mother and child. But a bond all the same.

"We'll be there in a few minutes. Now pipe down before I knock you off your pedestal."


"Don't start woman, he shouldn't even be out in public and you know it." The hanyou hissed out, though not quite as aggrivated as he sounded.

Kagome huffed and pouted, but didn't retort because she knew he was right. Tsunade-sama had said to keep him out of sight for awhile since he was, afterall, a youkai and his traits were very well visible to the eye and could cause them a mess of trouble if anyone were to see him.

The white haired boy smirked smugly to himself, winning the argument without having been sat. Naruto laughed at the two and shook his head, the kit clutching even tighter at the sudden movement. It really was nice to have friends like Kagome and Inuyasha, even if the hanyou tended to be a bit overbearing at times. The blonde could connect with the half-demon on a level he couldn't with anyone else and that made him feel a little bit better about being who and what he was. At least there was someone that didn't mind.

"Ah! There's the building!" Naruto pointed out, the large building slowly coming into view, trying to keep his mind and thoughts on track.

Shippou squealed from the spot atop Naruto's head, which earned him a shushing from Kagome, the boy flushing and nodding in return. "Once we get closer, you'll have to hide yourself Shippou." Kagome reminded.

The kit nodded and dropped down to the blonde's shoulder, perching there like a bird. "Ne, Naruto-nii-chan, do you think Miroku's okay?" He asked curiously, unaware of what had happened to cause the injuries the monk had sustained. Guilt crossed the boy's face as he searched for something to say.

"He'll be fine so quit yer yappin'." Inuyasha said, covering the silence that had formed at the question. Naruto only nodded in response, still unable to say anything on the matter. The hanyou glanced at the blonde but said nothing as they neared the large building.

"Okay! Time to hide!" Shippou chirped, then immediately dived inside Naruto's orange jacket.

"Whaa! Ahahah .. heheha .. S-Shippou .. stop .. moving!" The blonde nin doubled over in laughter from the youkai's movements, inadvertantly tickling him in the process. "Are you done?" He called out. He could feel the kit nod and settle within the jacket, the warmth from the boy radiating through out the small space in which he now resided in. In a strange way, it was rather comforting.

Looking up to the other two, Naruto shrugged and grinned. The hanyou rolled his eyes as Kagome giggled girlishly before returning to the trek down the street and towards the hospital building.

Walking up to the entrance, they opened the doors and walked in. Naruto, who had been there before, moved towards the reception center and asked for the room number in which Miroku was staying. After recieving the slip of paper with the number written on it, he waved the other two over and headed down the hall to the stairwell.

After climbing two flights of stairs, Naruto opened the door to the floor in which the room resided. Glancing at the paper, he stuffed it in his pocket as he started down the hallway. It wasn't long before they turned the corner into the corridor where Miroku's room was. He felt nervous coming here, knowing it was his fault that the houshi was here in the first place. Of course -none- of the other's had blamed him, but he couldn't help but blame himself.

Putting his fears aside, he decided to have a little fun while they were, there would be many more times to be serious later. The blonde grinned to himself as they neared the door. Turning around, fox-like grin still plastered across his whiskered face, he chuckled. "I just got the best idea ever!"

Inuyasha snorted from his place next to Kagome, coqueishly staring at the blonde, eyeing him intently. "Unless your idea involves ramen, I doubt it's the best idea ever."

"Inuyasha..." Kagome warned, voice thick with vehement sternness, though her twinkling doe eyes gave away her true intent. "Be nice," she reminded him, gently resting her hand on Inuyasha's shoulder, squeezing it calmly. "What's your idea, Naruto-kun?"

Naruto stuck out his tongue at the hanyou and grinned at Kagome in return. Naruto stood stock still, face set in concentration and hands formed the all too familiar seal, one in which he'd performed far too many times to be healthy.

"Oiroke no Jutsu!"

In a poof of smoke, Naruto disappeared and in his place stood a beautiful, albeit very naked pig-tailed blonde with whiskered markings upon her cheeks.

"Holy shit." Inuyasha cursed, eyes widened with disbelief.

"Inuyasha! Watch your language!"

"C'mon Kagome! I mean .. Look at him .. er .. her!"

"I wish you wouldn't .."

"What? S'not like I never saw a naked chick before!"

"I-Inuyashaaa .." Kagome's voice lowered as her stormy eyes narrowed.

"Alright, alright. Neat trick kid, now why don'tcha put on some clothes or something."

"Oh! Right. Hehehe." The blonde giggled girlishly and transformed once again, this time into a cute red and white nurses outfit.

"Ne .. Naruto-n ..uh .. nee-chan?" Shippou asked, slightly confused. "WILL YOU TEACH ME THAT TRICK!"

"Sure!" "NO!"

Naruto blinked at the two as they shouted in unison, grinning sheepishly. "Well .. I wouldn't teach him -that- jutsu."

"Whatever kid, now what is it you're gonna do?" Inuyasha asked, somewhat curious as to see what this weird sort of transformation had to do with the 'best idea ever.'

The blonde female grinned mischievously and turned towards the door. Smoothing out the skirt, she turned the knob and opened the door, walking into the room with a smile upon her face. "Good afternoon, Miroku-sama!"

Both Sango and Miroku looked over as the door opened and a blonde nurse walked inside, leaving the door ajar for the other's to hear. "Good morning." Sango responded, bowing just slightly.

Miroku raised his uninjured hand in a small wave, not able to do much else at the present time. A stab of guilt shot through Naruto like a knife through butter. He did well to conceal it through the facade of batting eyes and pouty lips.

"Awwwe, poor Miroku-sama." The blonde oozed, walking over to the monk and bending over him to fluff the pillows behind his head, her voluptuous bosom hovering above his face. The houshi gulped, eyes immediately shifting to her breasts as his fingers twitched involuntarily.

"Does that feel better?" She asked. Miroku shook his head quickly. "It still feels rather stiff. I mean hard! The pillows!" He said, then mentally cursing himself for his wordly mistakes.

The blonde giggled girlishly as she sat down on the bed next to him. "Awe, well I can fluff them again if you like." She said with a soft smile, her hand reaching out and tucking in the covers around him like a mother would a child. The monk nodded. "Yes .. please ... if you don't mind."

"Of course not! Anything for a patient."

Meanwhile, Sango's hands hovered dangerously close to her hiraikotsu, fingertips arching towards it. Her face was calm, placid—yet beneath her icy façade, she was livid, fighting the desire to stab and claw the floozy. She tried to accredit her irritability to it simply being a fact of an unfamiliar woman treating her familiar friend. But she couldn't really lie to herself, not when the truth was so painstakingly obvious. She knew what it was. She was jealous. Jealous of this .. this .. blonde bimbo putting her hands all over Miroku without even a thought of what -she- might think of it. Not that she could say anything. If the blonde couldn't feel the daggers being glared in her direction, then nothing short of death would be a good indication of her true annoyance. It wasn't like Sango could do anything and safe face, anyways—she and Miroku weren't together. Not officially.

Sango's eyes returned to the blonde when she giggled cutely and playfully hit him on the chest. He was grinning his usual charming smile and speaking in his trademark, charming way. But something wasn't right, something ... was out of the place. The nurse laughed again, turning her head coyly and that's when she saw it. Three faint lines across the girl's cheek.

The lines reminded her of an unusually hyper ramen-eating blonde with the same exact markings. Sango smirked as she realized it was Naruto in some sort of disguise. Oh how clever, she thought, that this boy was to use the monk's weakness against him. Now that she knew though, she couldn't be very angry. Not at Naruto.

"Man! I can't believe he's buying it!" Inuyasha hushed out, chuckling at the sight of the two.

"He really should change back now, you know. I don't know how much Miroku can take before his nose erupts." Kagome giggled softly, her hand covering her mouth so as not to be discovered.

"I thought Sango was going to clobber him over the head before she figured out it."

"She knows?"

"Oh yeah, she knows." Inuyasha smirked, both peeking through the small opening the half closed door had left.

"I wonder why she hasn't said anything yet." Kagome wondered aloud, albeit quietly.

"Be quiet! He's gonna ask her!"

"No he's not! Miroku wouldn't!" The brunette defended.

"Yes he is!"

"Oh Miroku-sama! You're so silly." The blonde girl giggled, waving her hand at him dismissively. "Oh my beautiful goddess of health!" He started, "You are the most feminine and pure woman I have ever met. Would you do this poor, lonely monk the honor of bearing my children?" he asked, a expression of seriousness painted across his face.

"This is the .. funniest shit ever!" Inuyasha chortled from the hallway. Kagome narrowed her gaze and thwapped him across the back of the head, causing the hanyou to choke on his laughter. "Will you be quiet! They'll hear us!" She hissed, reaching out as she tried to cover his mouth with her hands.

"Woman will you quit touching me!

The blonde blinked a few times before she burst out laughing. "I can't take this anymore!" She howled, laughing full out at the confused look the monk gave her. "Wha .. what do you mean."

Standing up, the girl grabbed her sides as she continued to laugh, a poof of smoke filled the room and Naruto, the real Naruto, fell to the floor in a fit of giggles. "Oh man! That's so priceless! I thought you were going to make a grab for me or something!"

Miroku sat there, eyes wide with disbelief. "N .. Naruto? That was you? The whole time!" He shouted at the blonde boy. "I .. I don't believe this! You .. you devious child!"

Naruto grinned widely as he cackled gleefully, both hands locked together behind his head as he stood there at the end of the hospital bed. "I'm not a fox for nothing!"

All the while, Sango sat there with a smirk on her face, content for once in the man's humility. She was relieved when the boy gave up his antics, as much fun as it was, the way Miroku responded to a pretty girl's flirtations bothered her. But she couldn't deny how greatly amusing the shocked look upon Miroku's face was. At least it all ended well.

"Oh man! That was so funny!" Naruto laughed, walking down the stairs to the first floor. After returning to normal his other two companions joined the room and laughter went all around. They explained their plans and left the kitsune boy with the pair in the room, both not minding in keeping him busy for awhile, as it would be a welcome reprieve from all that's happened.

"I gotta give it to ya kid, that -was- a good one you pulled over on the poor bastard." Inuyasha laughed as well, having found it immensely amusing, more so than Kagome it seemed.

"Really Naruto .. did you have to let it go so long?"

"Ah well .. prolly not, but it was damn hilarious!" He hollered, laughing some more as they exited through the hospital doors and out into growing evening.

The trio walked down the semi-crowded street towards the center of town where most of the restaurants resided, most of the markets having closed up a long time ago. They walked in comfortable silence, chatting every now and then about various things, but mostly letting the two foreigners looking around as they continued.

Kagome let out a small 'eep' as a familiar form caught her attention. 'Sasuke-kun?' She wondered, 'What is he doing with Sakura-san ..' She decided it wouldn't be good for Naruto to see them together like that, not with the way he had been feeling lately. Running ahead of them, she turned and blocked his path, the blonde looking at her with curiousity.

"Ne! Naruto-kun, why don't we go to that ramen stand you love so much?"

"But Kagome-chan, I thought you wanted to go out to eat."

"Ahh .. well .. we don't -have- to do that tonight. Not like we're leaving tomorrow right?" She asked, cocking her head to the side. The hanyou gave her an odd look, but the one she was giving him said he should play along if he knew what was good for him. He wondered for a moment what it was all about until he saw the same two people she had seen moments before. 'Damn that brat'

Inuyasha could truly understand Sasuke's intentions for not wanting to hurt Naruto-though founded in a wrong theory, the Uchiha surely must have meant well. But try as he might, the golden-eyed demon could not rationalize any point in time when Sasuke would be out in public with someone like Sakuku or whatever her name was. No matter how desperate things got.

Naruto opened his mouth to reply, but paused as he too saw what the other's didn't want him to see. 'Is that Sasuke?' he wondered to himself. He felt nervous just looking at him, but he had agreed that if he saw the raven haired boy he'd invite him to dinner with them.

Moving around Kagome, the blonde made his way to the Uchiha. "Oi! Sasuke!"

Everything, in that instant, began to flow in slow motion, the air condensing around Naruto's chest, tightening and constricting, holding him captive. It was like walking through molasses towards the raven-haired Uchiha, the roaring sounds of Konoha life ebbing away into the background, fading into nothingness. All Naruto could feel was…his heart, hammering away in his chest, beating wildly with each step.

There wasn't any reason for him to be nervous, he tried to convince himself. Sasuke was simply outside, in the marketplace. There wasn't anything unusual about that—except that Sasuke rarely went…anywhere…unless he was training. Maybe he was experiencing cabin fever! Yeah, that had to be it! Had to be it! Had to!

As he neared Sasuke, the Uchiha stepped to his left slightly, turning to see Naruto. In that instant—that lifelong, eternal, everlasting moment—Naruto felt all the air being kicked out of his lungs.

He tried to make himself believe she wasn't there by his side, but he couldn't force his eyes to lie. Sakura was there, beside Sasuke, clinging to his arm, smiling at Naruto in an almost gloatingly possessive way.

"H…hey Sakura-chan!" Naruto said, ignoring Sasuke pointedly. He silently thanked Kagome for holding Inuyasha and Shippou back—this wasn't their problem. It was his.

It was Sasuke's.

"Naruto-kun!" Sakura squealed, voice raspy with pride. She tilted her head towards Sasuke, pink hair falling in her eyes. "I'm out with my Sasuke-kun!"

Naruto couldn't help himself—for what it's worth, he made a fair attempt—but he looked at Sasuke, searching the man's face for something, anything. Remorse, maybe. Apology. But Sasuke simply returned the look with cold sternness.

"S…Sasuke?" Naruto asked, voice wavering slightly. He swallowed thickly, lump swelling in his throat, making it all the more difficult to breathe.

Sakura was, in all honesty, a very bright girl. She knew something had happened—was happening—between Sasuke and Naruto. Tightening her grasp on Sasuke's arm, she stared at Naruto, opening her mouth, speaking flatly. "Sasuke-kun and I are on a date." She turned to said Uchiha, grinning widely. "Want to go to dinner, Sasuke-kun?" she asked, voice oozing with melodramatic femininity.

Sasuke looked at her—perhaps for the first time in his entire life—staring into her eyes, unblinkingly searching her. He knew his gaze was piercing, cold. It was a practiced skill, an inherited trait. Naruto's eyes were on his face, he knew, though he forced himself not to look at the boy. He wanted to, he needed to…but he couldn't. Not now. And so, Sasuke inhaled deeply, the mask of emptiness never slipping from his lips.

"Yes, Sakura-chan. I will take you to dinner."