Disclaimer: Snoooorrree…

Chibi Naruto: EEEEEhhhh!

Chibi Sasuke: Well, this chapter's been a long time coming, hasn't it?

Chibi Neji: You're a disappointment.

Me: -tear- I swear, the Six-Week-Grading-Beast snuck up on me in my sleep and tried to EAT ME.

Chibi Neji: Psh! Right! The SWGB doesn't exist.

Chibi Gaara: I think it does.

Chibi Neji: You're serious?

Chibi Gaara: It tried to give me a C once.

Chibi Naruto: It tried to flunk me once…

Me: Yes. It's horrible! Even before the SWGB snuck up on me, my teachers were shoving research papers in my face and saying 'DO IT NOW.'

Chibi Neji: Right. Well, in any case, do throw a pie in Swirl's face and remind her that you need more updates.

Chibi Gaara: Read, review, and relax!

J L H 27

When Sasuke woke up that morning, he'd expected something much more romantic. He'd been rather rudely awoken by a sudden inability to breathe. When he opened his eyes, he found the twitching arm of a loudly snoring Naruto pressing into his neck and obstructing his windpipe. After rolling away from that disaster, he took his time to notice Naruto's unladylike habits of sleeping on her back, arms and legs splayed every which way, pajama pants bunched up at the knees, mouth open, bellowing loud enough to scare an elephant.

She soon noticed that Sasuke was no longer there for her to smother. Eyes shut she absent-mindedly thumped various parts of the mattress with her arms, seeking him out. The Uchiha crept toward the corner of the bed. Naruto loafed and flopped about, wriggling not like a worm or a snake, but more like a quadruped whose legs had been recently hacked off.

In a moment of better judgment, Sasuke ambled off of the bed and left Naruto to her own dreamy devices. A second of indecision was all he needed to decide whether or not he wanted breakfast. Naruto would undoubtedly jump his hide for leaving her to 'wake up by herself.'



It was his disdain for sentimentality and his constant attitude of 'suck it up' that led Sasuke to the kitchen. Kyuubi was merrily flipping flapjacks in a skillet, as was her custom of making every day-off seem like a holiday. No cold cereal on PIR days.



This meant that Naruto would be there to bother him all day.

Well… in a way, this was good. The blonde had someone to snuggle and drool over for the duration of the day. Perhaps two days.

The bad news: Sasuke would have to delay his trip to the boxes.


Maybe he could sneak off while she was asleep. If she woke up while Sasuke was sneaking off, he could use the excuse that he was going to the bathroom or he wanted a midnight snack. If he came back from his endeavor and Naruto was awake, he could use the previous excuse, but with the add-on: "and I got lost."

You know.

Just to make things perfectly understandable.

"Saaaasukeeeeee!" Kyuubi yawned like a cat, "G'mooorrrninnnn…" She'd interrupted his train of thought, but Sasuke didn't need it anymore. He knew exactly how he'd execute his plan.

So he grumbled, "Hey," and eyed the bowl of raspberry scones sitting in much the same area Naruto had been sitting in last night. The she-fox followed his gaze and 'hmph'ed to herself. "Go ahead," she drawled, "but don't eat too many or Naruto'll kill you."

Sasuke ignored the 'or Naruto'll kill you' part and set about stumbling over his pajama pants to reach his breakfast.

Once he'd reached the counter by means of inertia, Sasuke greedily stuffed a scone in his mouth and spat crumbs all over the floor. Kyuubi admired the mess he was making and contentedly flipped a pancake.

Sasuke ignored her again and went about fumbling in the refrigerator for a milk-carton which hadn't been smeared with lipstick. Unwilling to find a glass and knowing that neither Kyuubi nor Jiraiya gave a damn, Sasuke dubbed the carton his and christened it by gulping down one third of its volume.

Kyuubi flipped another pancake.

"Sooo…" she drawled. Something akin to a knowing sneer slithered through the air and Sasuke took this as his cue to look back at her. Kyuubi lounged luxuriously in her pink bathrobe and bunny-slippers against the stove. "Anything happen yesterday that I should know about?"

"No," mumbled Sasuke around another scone.

With a quiescent narrowing of the eyes, Kyuubi added, "Particularly yesterday night?"


The Uchiha gulped down the remains of his second scone and mumbled, "You heard that?"

Yet he knew very well that she had heard everything.

She was like a fly on the wall when she wanted to be.

"I hear lots of things," sang Kyuubi bemusedly with her gaze near the ceiling.

"I actually think… Naruto would like to tell you," Sasuke blurted. Then, he thought better of himself and ate his words. "On second thought, don't ask Naruto anything. She'll talk when she wants to talk."

Kyuubi huffed and flicked her fiery hair. "Looking out for her already, are you?"


"Shame," Kyuubi hummed without seeming like she was completely aware of what she was saying. She then pulled a toothpick out of a jar on the counter and mulled over it for a while. "You gonna' tell me what all the yelling and crying was about?"

Sasuke would have preferred not to. Firstly, there was Naruto's opinion to consider. Would she want the truth told or not?

Regardless of Naruto's opinion, Sasuke needed to make a choice. Ultimately, he went with the one that would cause Naruto the least pain. He sang like a bird.

"Well," Sasuke began in a calculating way, "Naruto had a… moment last night."

The duck-haired Uchiha had been watching carefully for a reaction from Kyuubi, so when her happy façade visually crumbled into something less ignorant, caution took over.

"Moment?" the red-haired fox keened and chewed on her toothpick.

"Yeah," Sasuke muttered, unsure of how to say much of anything, "So… she was upset last night because she asked me a question and I answered badly and-"

"Bad answer, eh? To what?" The greenish glint in Kyuubi's rippled irises let Sasuke know that she very well knew what. He humored her despite her gaze and said, "Well, she asked me a weird question one night and I wasn't exactly ready for it." He took a deep breath, feeling the worms of awkwardness begin to wriggle in his chest, "She asked me if I'd still like her if she was a guy."

"Ah!" Kyuubi squealed much too gleefully for Sasuke's tastes, "And you said 'No,' I imagine."

"Um…" Sasuke grumbled, "Yeah."

"Hah-hah!" Kyuubi cackled around the wobbling sliver of wood in her teeth. "The ultimate question of love, eh?" she rocked back on her heels, clapping her hands together and squinting in overcoming hilarity.

Coal-black eyes could only watch in silent frustration as Kyuubi cycled from happy, to worried, to laughably hilarious.

"I guess she gets it from me," Kyuubi giggled, referring to Naruto's sentiment.

To this, Sasuke didn't have much to say. He glared dumbly at the cackling woman, wondering quasi-fearfully where her mind had gone. As he was waiting for her fit to subside, a single thought blared through his head. "I hate romantics like you," Sasuke deadpanned.

"Really?" drawled Kyuubi with a sharp, calculating smile, "I hate realists."

"I'm a realist," Sasuke admitted as-a-matter-of-factly.

"A former acquaintance of mine was a realist," Kyuubi announced flatly, spitting her toothpick onto the floor. Sasuke raised an eyebrow in silent puzzlement. The fox-woman closed her eyes and continued, evenly, "and it was only his fortune of looking like another person that saved him from death."

"And?" Sasuke bit.

"And I think that's proof enough that no one likes a realist."


So there Naruto was, minding his own business, when what to his wondering eyes should appear but-


Absolutely nothing.

He opened his eyes that morning with his arms in the air and a smile on his lips, waiting to give Sasuke a big, wet, good-morning kiss.

Too bad Sasuke hadn't been there to receive it.

Naruto tapped his fingers irately on the bed sheets. He was a fool for thinking that Sasuke would bother to stay with him until he woke up. Not that Naruto could blame him, though. It was already late into the morning and Sasuke had no doubt been hungry.

That, and the haphazard mess of blankets scattered about the bed suggested that Naruto had been in another one of his swimming episodes.

Naruto slunk past his morning rituals of yawning and stretching and crept like a spider across the bed sheets. He snuck past the shadow of the doorframe and pressed himself flush against the wall. The blonde didn't have to strain his ears to hear the babble coming from the kitchen.

Jiraiya was awake, as was made apparent by the peal of resounding laughter which came somersaulting along the walls. The high pitch of keening giggles which followed heralded Kyuubi's odd sense of humor.

Naruto wondered where Sasuke was during all this.

Silence considered, the Uchiha boy may very well have been in the room. Why should Sasuke of all people express any emotion through voice instead of conveying it through a simple gesture of the hand?

Far be it from Duck Man to act human once in a while.

Mutter… mutter…

Naruto was fed up with his charade rather quickly. He swept four fingers through his mop of blonde bed-head before sauntering into the room, stamping a foot onto the seat of the nearest dining chair in a triumphant Captain Morgan pose, and demanding to know where Sasuke was.

"Out back," motioned Kyuubi with a glistening thumbnail. "By the way," she added, eyes flashing beneath layers of expertly smooth mascara, "You missed breakfast."

Naruto's jaw dropped.

Missed breakfast?

How the hell did that happen?

Jaw mere inches from brushing against the floor, Naruto glared at the clock on the wall. Noon. Well that took the spice out of life.

"Jiraiya and I ate your pancakes," the redhead drawled, "So get yourself a Pop Tart or something."

"Whatever," growled Naruto.

He ignored the protests of his gurgling stomach and set about slithering along the walls in an attempt to locate that telltale duck tail. The blonde fox poked his nose around the recliner in Jiraiya's living room, where he had a perfect view of his uncle's frog pond. Tawny stepping stones here, tufts of reeds there… but no ducks.


Naruto slunk to the sliding glass door in all its fingerprint-smudged glory. He looked left, right, up, down, forward, and behind (since he secretly suspected the Uchiha of being a ninja), but alas, Sasuke had made himself scarce and it appeared as if he wanted to keep it that way. Naruto was in much too selfish a mood to allow the duck-haired boy his solitude. The blonde had gone breakfastless, in his pajamas, in order to locate him.

Sasuke would be found, by God.

Naruto expertly slid the door to the side, slid it back, and bounded into the fern garden. He poked his head out of the greenery like a fluffy, blonde dandelion, turning a full three hundred and sixty degrees.

No Sasuke.

On a hunch, Naruto rose from the dirt and swept the mud off of his pajama pants. In a manner that Winnie the Pooh would have admired, Naruto bumbled over to a boulder at the side of the sheltered bog, sat down, squinted, brought a thumb to his chin, and thought.

When Kyuubi said 'out back,' Naruto took her words to mean the backyard. Now, there were no front or back yards to speak of on Jiraiya's property, just one big, unkempt, wooded swamp. Thus, Naruto came to the sudden and expedient notion that Sasuke could have been anywhere.

The blonde turned it into an improvised game of hide-and-seek.

He hopped off of his boulder and circumnavigated the frog swamp. In his bare feet, he pussyfooted across a spring by means of a sun-bleached heap of deadfall. The ground was mushy and cold, much as Naruto remembered it to be, and the dewy smell served to lighten his mood. He traversed the lawn (if it could be called a lawn) and emerged in a gap between an evergreen and a severely misplaced poplar tree.

Before him yawned the unkempt concrete driveway and the distant, gaping hole in the bushes to which it was attached. Jiraiya's black beast of a car basked and sparkled in the sunlight while Kyuubi's red beater hid inconspicuously in a patch of bushes just outside her bedroom window.

Recognizing the territory once again, Naruto dashed out of the trees and padded across the unmown grass. He'd made it halfway across the ice-cold driveway when a voice suddenly sighed, "Naaaaarutooooo…"

He turned his head to see a porcupine mess of grey hair yelling at him from a bedroom window.

"What?" he replied with his arms across his chest.

"Go get the mail for me, wouldja'?" grinned Jiraiya.

All the blonde required was a split second of thought. He supposed he could go out of his way… "Fine," he shouted, "but I get the TV tonight. Deal?"

Jiraiya narrowed one eye and drew his lower lip up in fuzzy contemplation. "Deal," he admitted finally.

Meh heh heh.


Now Naruto could drag Sasuke into watching whatever movie he damn well pleased. That, and Jiraiya couldn't hog his plasma screen.

Gleeful in that notion, Naruto spun his heels on the cement and skipped toward the mailbox. Halfway to his rendezvous, the blonde realized why Jiraiya didn't want to get off his lazy ass and get the mail.

It was that far away.

Naruto swore he ran past the same bush twelve times.

Short of breath, yet proudly not out of it, Naruto padded over to the wrought-iron gates at the edge of his uncle's universe. He was about to take a flying leap into the oblivion of the sidewalk when a conversation caught his ear.

"This place?" scoffed a voice hotly, "this old jerk could be her step-brother?"

"Um, well, yeah!" a second voice gobbled in a tone similar to the fluffiness of cotton candy.

"Jeez…" the first voice muttered, "And I always wanted to blow this place into the sky. Guess today's my lucky day, yeah?"

Naruto zipped any complaints he may have had behind his lips and crawled on all fours into the foliage. He had no idea who these people were, but they sounded awfully familiar, and Naruto was afraid he wouldn't like what they had to say.

"Um, yeah, sempai! You just can't blow it up today. We're not even sure if this is the right pla-"

"Tobi, you idiot! Stop shining on my rainy day, yeah."

"Um… okay!"


A short silence, and then, "Does this mean Deidara-sempai likes rainy days?"

"Would you shut up already, yeah?"

A longer silence.

"So Tobi, did Konan say anything about the other ten houses we were supposed to watch?"





More silence, and then a high pitched, whispered, "But Deidara-sempai said not to saaaayyyyy anything…"


"Shesaidtheywereveryfarawayandthatweshouldjustfocusonthisonetoday!" said Tobi.

"What?" deadpanned Deidara-sempai.

"Nothing!" giggled Tobi devilishly.

Naruto bit down on his tongue to ensure his own silence. He wondered what these two suspicious voices were talking about. It occurred to him that they could have been talking about anyone in the universe. Try as he might, however, he couldn't stop the reverse-psychology, pessimistic adrenaline that screamed for involvement in something epic.

One side of the blonde's mind harbored a secret affair with disaster. He listened to his inner monologue in horror as he realized how badly he wanted these two voices to be evil and himself to be the target of their wrath.

"Tch! Whatever, yeah," the angry voice huffed. "Why the hell do we get all the fuckin' recon jobs, yeah?"

"Dunno," chirped Tobi, "Really, I don't. To watch stuff, you gotta' have stealth, sempai, and that's something you don't-"

"Finish that thought, Tobi. I dare you."


"Thought so."

Wait… wait a second! Naruto knew those voices sounded familiar! His eyes shot painfully wide and he curled his knees further into his chest. These were the guys who 'found' his cell phone! Porky Pig and Mr. Yeah! Judging by the clear difference in their pitches and manners of speech, Porky Pig was Tobi and Mr. Yeah was Deidara-sempai.

If that was the case and Sasuke's suspicions proved true, dark clouds were forming just above Jiraiya's house.

Naruto's house.

Sasuke's house.

This was the house they were watching.

"Hey sempai!" Tobi shouted urgently.

"I'm right here, dumbass," Deidara-sempai muttered, audibly sneering and squinting his eyes. After an episode of silent loathing, Deidara-sempai, who Naruto remembered to be blonde, grumbled, "What, yeah?"

"Viper in the grass!" the black-haired one hissed.

Oh, fuck no.

Naruto slowly pressed himself into the bushes. They couldn't have noticed him… could they? He swallowed his heart, which was beating so fervently that he could hear its drumming reverberating off of the leaves.

"What are you, stupid?" scoffed Deidara-sempai, "I'm the brains of this outfit. I'll say if there's a viper in the grass!" He paused a moment, allowing the breeze to rustle past the bushes.

"There's a viper in the grass."

Naruto gulped and shut his eyes. Ho-no. No, no, no, no, NO. This wasn't happening. If those two came rampaging through the fence, Naruto didn't know what he'd do. They'd kidnap him and they'd yell at him and they'd beat him and they'd steal his pajamas and they'd-

Suddenly, there was a sharp crackle in the branches above Naruto's head.

A harsh, eye-popping, slapping sound. A squeal and a pathetic "Ahahahaoowww!"

Then, there was a lot of yelling.

Naruto melted into a blonde puddle of relief beneath the bushes.

"Tobi, you idiot!" Deidara-sempai shrieked, "You got me riled up about a fucking squirrel, yeah!"

"That hurt, sempaiii…" Tobi whined, "Besides, you were the one who-"

"You said it first, yeah!"

"But you said you were-"

"You. Said. It. First," a menacing growl, "Yeah."

"Umm…" Tobi drew out carelessly, as if all was right and good in the world, "Okay!" He then added in a devious whisper, "Just a squirrel, sempai. Just a squirrel."

Naruto had draped himself in the mud surrounding the base of one of Jiraiya's dying flower bushes. He wiggled his fingers around anxiously in the dirt and prayed to whatever god listening that Porky Pig and Mr. Yeah would find something better with which to occupy their time.


There were a few more smacking sounds, a few more vocalizations from Tobi which varied from gleeful squeals to annoyed growls, and then one of them or the other announced that he was prowling along the remaining perimeter. Naruto knew better than to spring up and make a mad dash for the house, though. He listened with one ear to the ground as two pairs of footsteps shook softly out of range.

The blonde fox slowly slithered out from beneath the bush and poked his head out from the shriveling foliage. He considered for a moment the screen of overgrown junipers which choked the southern edge of his uncle's acreage. Judging from the directions the footprints vanished off to, they were headed in that direction. Naruto merely had to wait a minute or so before he was absolutely sure that he wouldn't be noticed.

In that lonely minute or so, Naruto took his time to consider the amount of sheer luck which had just reached out from nowhere in particular and hugged him senseless. First off, he'd stumbled upon an important conversation completely by accident. Second of all, he already knew about the two chatterboxes and Sasuke's intelligent aversion toward them. Thirdly, he hadn't been noticed. Fourth, if luck would be kind enough to hang onto the sleeves of his pajamas, Naruto would be able to dash back to his house and warn his family before any of them were spotted.

The blonde fox crept at an agonizing pace away from the bushes and slunk a few feet out into the lawn. Straining his ears against the neighbors' dogs and the traffic on the street two blocks away, Naruto heard no voices indicating the approach of the two mysterious figures. In no immediate danger, he dashed for the house, dodging rocks and branches in an effort to remain silent.

As he neared the door, he ducked behind a decorative sandstone boulder and listened again. Nothing. Naruto cautiously crept along the grass and into the driveway before slinking behind his uncle's screen door and shutting it noiselessly after him.

As soon as he was safely in the house, a familiar, snidely voice caught his ear.

"Crocodiles get you?" sneered a dark-eyed menace lurking unassumingly with every limb splayed about across Jiraiya's recliner. Naruto was in neither the mood nor the convenience of repaying Sasuke with a dry remark.

"Where were you?" Naruto hissed loudly.

Sasuke quirked an eyebrow and remarked, "Here."

"Not when I looked!" the blonde shrieked, adrenaline still flowing.

Sasuke laboriously rolled over and shot Naruto a queer look. "Some impending crisis I should know about?"

"Yes," announced Naruto.

The duck-haired Uchiha cast a slow, rolling glance toward the ceiling, sighed, and muttered, "About what?"

"Where's mom?" was the only thing Naruto could think to say.

Something in the kitchen whistled, "over here, smart one," and Naruto instantly dove in its direction. Having skidded into the kitchen on his knees, the blonde boy took a deep breath at the fuzzy soles of his mother's slippers and harped, "I went to get the mail for Jiraiya and there were these two people talking and I recognized them and Sasuke thinks they're evil and-"

"What?" growled Sasuke as he managed through inertia to hurl himself off of the recliner.

Naruto leaned back into the carpet of the living room and whined, "Remember the weird blonde guy who said 'yeah' all the time and the little, stuttering dude who followed him around? You know, the ones who 'found' my phone?"

The Uchiha's eyebrows shot into the stratosphere as his head fell below his shoulders in realization. "You're sure?" he deadpanned, the gravity of the matter pooling about the feet of both himself and Naruto.

Kyuubi, however, exempt from the gut-wrenching effects of any form of excitement, hovered on her bunny-slippers, leaned cutely into the room with her hands swinging at her sides, and chirped, "What on earth are you talking about?"

"Stalkers!" Naruto squealed, jumping to his heels and waving his hands about in front of his face.

"Stalkers," the fox-woman echoed, rolling each syllable about on her tongue. She stood there, quietly, two minutes or more, as Naruto frantically tried to get her attention. The blonde wailed and flailed and shrieked about the impending doom befalling each and every occupant of the household. Naruto had no idea who these people were, who they worked for, or why the hell they were watching his uncle's house. He had a sinking feeling that they had some sort of unfinished business with his mom. The blonde hadn't a clue as to the nature of said business, but he could guess as a factor of Kyuubi's profession that it was less than divine.

More one-night-stands?

More not-boyfriends perhaps?

As uncommon as they were, perhaps one of them was a special case of 'i will luv u 4ever dont leve plz!!1'

If so, why were they being so roundabout about getting Kyuubi's address? They had to hijack his phone for reasons Naruto couldn't understand, the personal information in the purse he'd left in Kisame's car sent Sasuke into a fit, and now the two phone-jackers were prowling the premises like ferrets with something to find, chew on, steal, and hide underneath a couch.

"And you said that one of them said… 'yeah' all the time?" the fiery-haired target mused.

"Yeah," wheezed Naruto.

"And he was blonde?" Kyuubi asked as she clicked the backs of her fingernails together.

"Yeah," wheezed Naruto.

"And there was someone with him. Loud, annoying, and probably taller than me?"

"Um… yeah."

"Hmmm…" Kyuubi picked at a corner of her bangs bemusedly, "Did you catch their names?"

"Umm…" Good Lord! He just heard them a minute ago! What were their names again? Toe… something and Day… something… Suddenly, through the magic of wisdom Naruto prided himself in having, he shouted, "Tobi and Deidara-sempai!"

"Oh Jesus on white bread," muttered Kyuubi with a thumb and index finger to her eyes.

Naruto slumped to the floor, exasperated and exhausted, while Sasuke dutifully stepped over his end of the conversation and made it his job to continue. "You recognize them?" the Uchiha rumbled like a seasoned inquisitor.

"Yep, sadly," Kyuubi remarked while removing her nails from her eyes and pressing them into her hips, "Sasuke, I bet Naruto's told you what I do for a living, eh?"

"Yes," Sasuke replied resolutely.

"Bitch," said Kyuubi.

"Anyway," the Uchiha pressed with a flick of his hair.

"Anyway, they gave me a pretty generous tip. I think they were expecting something else from me when my shift was over. That doesn't float my boat anymore. So I left," she chewed on a corner of her lip and shrugged, "Guess they couldn't take a hint."

"And now they're stalking you," Sasuke deadpanned, "very methodically."

"Yep." Kyuubi then shifted her weight to her other foot, hips sailing to the other side of the archway, and mentioned, "Sasuke, you're a man. You know how men get."

Naruto didn't have to look up to see the blood vessels popping in Sasuke's head, but he didn't know whether said pops were caused by a nosebleed and a pair of eyes rolling out of his skull, or by indignation at being compared to other men.

Regardless of Sasuke's high blood pressure, Naruto could feel his own pulse dropping like a lead weight. So these people weren't potentially deadly, just potentially horny. Good God. Who in their right of mind stalked a friggin' pole-dancer halfway around the world for a fuck?

The brooding Uchiha seemed to take this improbability to heart. Naruto lay back into the carpet and considered Sasuke's skeptically narrowed eyes and set jaw. Chances were, he had an objection, but Naruto knew better than anyone else that the duck-haired statue loved to conceal his inner monologue. He clicked the tip of his tongue to his teeth and tilted his head slightly, the only indication that Kyuubi had said something wrong.

"'Kay, here's the deal," the fox-woman gestured dramatically with her arms, "We aren't here. We're hangin' out with the curtains drawn. The only one who goes outside is Jiraiya."

"These 'stalkers' of yours," Sasuke deadpanned with finger-quotes, "don't know we kids exist. So why can't we leave?"

"Because you're kids," shrugged Kyuubi as-a-matter-of-factly, "and you can't defend yourselves."

Sasuke gave her a slack-jawed look which clearly shouted "INJUSTICE," but Kyuubi wasn't paying attention. "Jiraiya can go out because firstly, he has a huge, black car."

Naruto choked on an air pocket.

"Secondly, he can fend for himself. Thirdly, he needs to get off of his fat, white ass every once in a while. So there you have it," Kyuubi whistled. "Any objections?"

Sasuke sighed and his shoulders dropped as he shook his head.

The redhead grinned with a sparkling mouthful of crisply white teeth, "Good." She then jerked her head to the side and shouted Jiraiya's name, upon which the white-haired man bumbled into the room with an exasperated "Whaaaaaatttt?"

"Get the curtains," Kyuubi suggested, examining her nails, "I have a stalker."

One corner of the old man's lips sagged earthward and twitched. "Fine," he grumbled before sighting Naruto on the floor and asking, "Naruto! You get my mail?"

"Uh…" Naruto grumbled nervously, "No."


Well wasn't this just divine.

Sasuke didn't know what could have made his day better. An earthquake… a tornado… come to think of it, a nice, big, endless, gaping hole in the galaxy would have put things into perspective.

He'd been wandering outside that morning, searching each window for any sign of those goddamn boxes, and he finally found the room Kyuubi had tipped him off to. The closet lurked unassumingly in a corner, darkly enveloping space, and peeking out of its open door were several corners of several boxes. Having found what he was looking for, he headed back inside via the front door. Naruto must've been searching somewhere else.

The Uchiha had been brooding in his recliner, conjuring various methods of extracting information from his beloved boxes, when in dashed Naruto, flailing like a fish fresh out of the pond. From what Sasuke heard, she was in just about as much trouble.

Kyuubi seemed to think differently.

Sasuke was no longer surprised at the fox-woman's playful indifference. Her field of thought deviated so much from 'acceptable,' that Sasuke almost found it normal. The alarm in Naruto's concern rolled lazily off of Kyuubi's shoulders in a shrug. She'd offered an explanation to the situation, but Sasuke didn't buy it.

There was no way a pair of disappointed nymphomaniacs would go to such lengths to locate Kyuubi. Sasuke could only wonder once again why she would openly lie to her daughter about something like that.

Either she was a phenomenal improviser, or she had something to hide.


She was a phenomenal improviser with something to hide. The boxes proved that. Sasuke resolved to raid the faux-hidden stash sometime that night, but he wasn't entirely sure he'd be happy with what he found.

Currently, as Naruto had abandoned him in favor of helping her uncle with the windows, Sasuke flopped back down into the recliner, muted the television, and sat awhile in thought.

Sasuke was certain at that point in time that Naruto's mother had a past connection to the Akatsuki. The blonde guy and his whimsical cohort were sniffing about her personal space, the Uchiha recognized them from the Literal Cultures Club photograph, and that meant that Kyuubi was being stalked by the Akatsuki.

This, as anyone would infer, was a problem.

Sasuke's mind backtracked to the sidelong comment Naruto had thrown once about her father. She said he was killed by the Akatsuki. Maybe they were after her mom because… they were married? She was a witness?

Who knew?

He wasn't left long to his inner muse. Naruto came bumbling enthusiastically into the room, launched herself in the general direction of the recliner, hollered, "Duckieeee!" and landed two feet short of her target.

She didn't bother to heave herself off of the floor, deciding instead to crawl on all fours before popping up beyond the edge of the chair. "Isn't this exciting?" she whispered enthusiastically, hastily-done whisker-marks quivering with energy.

Sasuke quirked an eyebrow at her. "No," he replied, "this is dangerous."

"Same thing!" squeaked Naruto, "Gets the adrenaline goin'!"

"Yes," bartered Sasuke, "but it's still dangerous. You and I are having a talk about this later."

"Why not now?" inquired the blonde with a queer tilt of the head.

"Later," growled Sasuke through clenched teeth, "I don't need people overhearing us."

The blonde fixed a blank, lazy eye at him for two seconds, then rocketed backward and hummed, "Ohhhhh…" She grinned impishly, masking the unhappy glint in her eyes, "Got some more suspicions you want to talk about?"

Sasuke nodded warily.

The gesture clanked loudly in the cogs of Naruto's brain before the anxiety-ridden girl finally clambered onto Sasuke's recliner, used him as a mattress, and stayed there.


To say that Naruto was extremely unhappy was no lie. In fact, the dramatic 'IF's of life were leaping about in his brain like canned snakes. He was very good at acting carefree, though, and it made him feel better.

So there he was, after escaping a potential crisis, twiddling his toes, smothering his boyfriend, and humming various lines of The Jabberwocky. He needed something to distract him from the catastrophe at hand and desperately wanted to shove away the thought of two potential rapists prowling the lawn.

A thought then occurred to him.

If these people were so annoying and threatening, why wasn't Kyuubi hurling law enforcement at them? She seemed so very keen on surrounding Naruto with bodyguards, and yet she couldn't manage to report a public disturbance?

Something didn't add up.

Perhaps she didn't want to get the police involved.

If the suspicion Sasuke had instilled in Naruto was to be believed, perhaps Kyuubi didn't want these men to know that she was aware of their presence. Hm.

Yep. He and Sasuke were going to have a lovely time discussing this.

Naruto was not awarded the luxury of any immediate, straight answers, as per usual. Sasuke the Secretive would wait until the last minute before spilling all of the complicated speculations he could think of.

"Does this mean we're sleeping in the same bed again?" Naruto asked curiously, if a bit irrelevantly.

"Yes," deadpanned Sasuke, "unless you plan on trying to suffocate me again."

Naruto quirked a blonde eyebrow and rolled over, jabbing his elbows right and left at Sasuke's expense. The other boy rolled his eyes and held his breath, letting it go in a sigh when Naruto stuck his nose in his face. "Death by asphyxiation?" the blonde inquired with a tilt of the head.

Was that why Sasuke was gone? Naruto knew he rolled around in his sleep, but not that much…

"Yes," confirmed Sasuke gravely, "And when I tried to move away, you chased me."

Naruto pressed his lower lip upward and narrowed his lips into a fine, unimpressed line. "Chased?" he quoted.

Sasuke's eyes clouded over for a second in intense thought. "More like 'bludgeoned'," he decided with a tap of his pale fingers against the arm of the recliner.

Ever unimpressed with Sasuke's exaggerations, Naruto braced his middle finger against his thumb, brought his hand to Sasuke's face, and flicked him on the forehead. The Uchiha blinked for a delirious second, regaining his bearings, before saying, "Don't do that," and palming Naruto in the face as if he were a volleyball.

The blonde decided that Sasuke was in severe need of punishment.

So he finished what he started the night before and set about suffocating Sasuke to death.

This was not done in the conventional way, air forcefully squeezed from the system or blocked in any way or another, but the Uchiha had a peculiar habit of refusing to breathe when he was kissed. It was apparent, not long after Sasuke had discovered that he was on the receiving end of a kiss, that the other boy was at a disadvantage. He was not in charge. He was the one being shoved into the recliner.

Naruto giggled as the other boy mumbled, grumbled, and squirmed when the blonde withdrew and placed a rapid-fire barrage of big, wet pecks all over his face. Then, he'd kiss Sasuke again and the instant he felt that hot tongue tickle his lips he'd giggle and molest the Uchiha all over again.

"This isn't fair," Sasuke hissed in one breath.

"Your payment for leaving me without waking me up first," Naruto cackled evilly.

"I was afraid of what you might have done once I woke you up!" groused Sasuke as he shrugged one eyebrow that was currently being sexually assaulted by Naruto's lips.

"What might I have done?" Naruto sang deviously.

"Something stupid."

"Like what?"

"Like… eat my toes… or something."

"Your toes are ugly."

"Naruto, that hurts."

"And your fingers are ugly," kiss, "and your biceps are ugly," smooch, "and your calves are ugly," snog, "and your bellybutton is ugly," smack, "and your ass is ugly," peck, "and you know what else is ugly?"

"I bet you're going to tell me."

"Your hair is ugly," Naruto triumphed with another dive at Sasuke's lips.

Expertly, Sasuke turned his head to the side and Naruto's lips landed near the Uchiha's ear. That simple movement was the genesis of relaxation for the both of them. Naruto gradually grew bored of assaulting Sasuke and Sasuke appeared quite glad that Naruto had found something better to do with his time. The television, which, for reasons unknown to the blonde, had been muted, now blared with noise.

Kyuubi stalked once or twice about the room, inspecting the curtains and daring to take the occasional peek. Overall, neither Sasuke nor Naruto tore their eyes from the screen to acknowledge her existence. Just as well, though, as the red-haired woman never made herself obvious.

Lunch disappeared into thin air. Naruto hadn't eaten breakfast, but the abandoned, kernel filled bowls at the base of the recliner served as a snack until he was pried off of Sasuke in time for dinner.

In spite of the action, Kyuubi had managed to make the day feel blearily commonplace. Any comment from Naruto was swiftly averted into a much more dinner-table-safe stream. Naruto's apprehension was pacified and Sasuke seemed to enjoy lurking quietly in the depths of his own imagination.

It was unanimously decided (with the exception of Silent Sasuke) that the current vigil of the two unknown men was nothing to be alarmed about.

After dinner, the house slowed to a molasses-at-zero-Kelvin crawl. Kyuubi was rather sluggish, slinking about the house like a snake in the snow. She headed to her room sooner than usual and vanished without a trace. Jiraiya made an offhanded comment that it would do Naruto and Sasuke well to head to their respective rooms in due time. Naruto wasn't particularly tired.

Neither was Sasuke.

In fact, once Jiraiya was out of sight, he adopted a peculiar pastime of shutting the lights off and peering through the curtains.

"I think I already know what's going on, but you should probably tell me what you're worrying about," Naruto suggested, now that the two of them were alone. The Uchiha replied by casting the blonde a strange look over his shoulder and saying, "What do you think?"

"I think my mom's hiding stuff," Naruto grumbled ambiguously.

"Thank you, Captain Obvious," sneered Sasuke.

Ignoring him, Naruto went on, "I also think that she doesn't want these people to know that she knows they're here. That's why she hasn't called the police on them."

Sasuke shrugged his shoulders and nodded as if to grudgingly admit Naruto had found something he'd overlooked. The blonde smirked.

Naruto: one. Sasuke: zip.

Blissfully unaware that he was on the wavering side of the leader board, Sasuke peered out of the curtains again and muttered, "I think your mom's being stalked by… gangsters."

Naruto burst out laughing. Gangsters? Gangsters? Was that all Sasuke could come up with? Good Lord! His imagination sucked!

"Dobe!" The Uchiha hissed from a cherry-red face, "Stop it!"

"Be serious!" Naruto giggled, 'serious' sounding something more of 'see-hee-hee-heeeerious' due to his undying laughter.

"I am being serious!" huffed Sasuke with his arms crossed.

Naruto's lighthearted giggles bubbled away when he noticed the positively deadly glare the Uchiha was casting him. Okay… Gangsters. Did Naruto want to hear the rest of the explanation?

"And how did you come up with this?" Naruto deadpanned.

Sasuke sighed and his eyes traveled in great arcs across the ceiling. "It's not that hard to discover," he growled.

Naruto quirked an eyebrow. "So the explanation my mom gave you doesn't work?"


"Well," thought Naruto, "I suppose it is a little… extreme."

"Your mom makes no sense," Sasuke grumbled flatly, "It's difficult to believe anything she says anymore."

Naruto nodded. He didn't like to believe it, but his mom was being awfully secretive. Finally, he sighed, "So why do you think these people are mobsters?"

Sasuke seemed unwilling to answer. "Well," he mumbled after countless sighs and growls, "I have reason to believe that they're associated with Kisame, and I know Kisame's involved with the darker side of town…" Suddenly, a blip of insight passed through Sasuke's onyx eyes and he piped up, "Say, Naruto, you never told me what happened before that guy on the motorcycle chased you."

"I didn't?" inquired Naruto with a quirk of his eyebrow.

"Nope," replied Sasuke.

"I'm sure I did-"

"Then say it again," Sasuke hissed in exasperation.

"Okay, okay, Teme!" Naruto pacified rudely. Ah, where to begin… Sasuke, being as over-analytical as he was, would probably want to know why Naruto hadn't immediately headed home, where he went, what time it was, what color everyone's clothes were, and whether or not there had been any circus clowns in the immediate vicinity. Naruto began with the genesis of the event. "A car came out of nowhere and splashed slush all over me, so I figured I'd visit Gaara's bookstore while my clothes dried. It was closer than the house, so-"

"Wait," interrupted Sasuke, "What kind of a car was it?"

How did Naruto know…

"Corvette, I think. Something flashy and fast," he grumbled, "Silver or white."

The Uchiha's eyes darkened with thought. "And what happened after that?"

"Went to the bookstore, of course," Naruto shrugged carelessly. "When I walked in the door I got attacked by the clerk. I think Karin was her name."

Sasuke flinched.

Naruto ignored this and went on, "She and this weird guy named Suigetsu-" another flinch- "got into a fight and I ran away. Then, I walked down an isle, heard some really loud music, got caught listening, and the guy with the headphones turned out to be a complete nutcase. There. End of story."

"What did this guy look like? Did he say his name?"

Naruto rolled his eyes dramatically. "Oh yes," came the grave remark, "Right after telling me that he was a psychotic stalker, he said, 'By the way, my name is Jim,' and gave me five seconds to run for my life."

"Not funny," warned Sasuke.

Naruto rolled his eyes again. Being on the spot as he was, he didn't enjoy the dark look in the Uchiha's eyes and he wondered what he'd done to deserve it. Regardless, he continued with the startlingly indescribable looks of his pursuer. "Umm…" Naruto hummed for a moment, "He was kinda'… short. He was wearing a blue hoodie, I think. He didn't sound very old." Naruto racked his mind further, "His hair was straight and black, kind of like yours, but longer. He had it in a ponytail. He was really pale. And… there was a big pile of books on the table next to-"

A loud, painful boom like a brick hitting the floor was all to signal Naruto of Sasuke's departure from consciousness.


Chibi Gaara: Ohoho! Painful realization, perhaps?

Chibi Naruto: Stop using big words. They scare me.

Chibi Sasuke: -down and out-

Me: Well? Not worth your wait, I'm sure. Maybe something more devious will happen in the next chapter, eh? –maniacal laughter-

Chibi Naruto: Making them wait makes them angry.

Me: Meheheh. It'll all be fine in the end, I'm sure.

Chibi Gaara: You're making a fine mess of yourself.

Me: Rest assured, audience! I plan on introducing to you the generous dose of gratuitous destruction which is the AKATSUKI. Very soon, mind you. Perhaps… oh… in the next chapter.

Chibi Naruto: You're the devil.

Me: I know.

Chibi Gaara: Well, we're not above bribing you yet. You read it, now review it! Virtual, useless, and completely calorie-free cyber cookies for reviewers! Review, review, review!