New Bloodlines, chap three

Author Notes: Apparently I'm susceptible to bribery. A wonderful, wonderful person, BEA87, made fanart for me. Here's her deviantART account: http// bea87. deviantart. com/

She made a couple of beautiful pieces for this fic, and since she did that, I decided to update this one more quickly. Am I a pushover or what? Just make some pretties for me and I do whatever you want, including updating out of schedule. I can't wait to see what else she does; this chapter has some parts that would be too easy to make comics of. (grin)


Once upon a time, way before the city of Konoha was founded, even before most of the family class came to settle the Konoha city valley, there existed four clans; the Hyuuga, the Inuzuka, the Aburame and the Nara.

These clans actually existed in relative harmony, with only a small amount of jostling for rank, each relying on the others for survival. The Inuzuka used their dogs for hunting, the Aburame used their bugs for gathering, the Hyuuga aided the other two by using their eyes to find food. And of course the Nara had their deer, a steady, reliable source of meat, milk, hide and medicinal antlers.

Nara deer were completely unlike any other deer species, instead of being strictly herbivorous, eating only plants; they were omnivorous, eating both plants and animals. This meant that, because meat was a much better food source, the deer were much larger, stronger and had more nutrients in meat, bone and antler than their lesser cousins. But regardless of that fact, they were useless in war.

The Inuzuka's had their highly loyal, highly intelligent dogs to assist them. The Aburame's had their insects which they could direct at will. The Hyuuga's had their incredible eyes and fine chakra control. But the Nara's only had the hereditary high intelligence, and unshakable loyalty to those that earned it, to give to their allies in combat. Until one of the more inventive youngsters thought of altering what the Nara's did have, their deer.

Thus the War Elk line was started with highly selective breeding, only using the largest, the strongest, the most loyal and above all the smartest of the three other lines, the milk-, meat- and antler-lines. The War Elk in their peek age were larger than most horses and could wield sharp hooves and dagger-like antlers, and let's not forget the sharp fangs this omnivorous line had. And in highest contrast to wild deer, these War Elk were smart. Not as smart as an Inuzuka shinobi dog perhaps, but far smarter than any other domesticated animal. They were, theoretically, a deadly weapon.

But they held one critical flaw, those deadly antlers. Deer shed and re-grow their antlers every year, only having fully mature antlers during late summer and fall. At some point in late fall or early winter the antlers are shed and aren't re-grown until spring. Throughout spring and into summer the antlers are 'in velvet', the bone growing inside a fuzz-covered thin skin packed with blood vessels. In this stage, the antlers are acutely vulnerable; if the velvet antlers are cut, crushed or otherwise badly damaged it's possible for the deer to bleed into sickness or even death.

Because of this critical flaw, the War Elk project was scrapped and the line bred back into its three parent lines. Until Shikamaru's cousin, Akira, decided to revive it.

Akira was the big brother that Shikamaru had never had. He had been kind, gentle and amazingly tolerant of his eight-year-younger, little cousin who had trailed him everywhere. But the one thing that Shikamaru had admired most in his cousin was Akira's defiance of custom and tradition. Akira's father had been, and still was, a deer-herder. Traditionally, Akira should have been one as well. Instead, he'd gone to the Academy and had done rather well.

Akira had also done well in the pains-taking task of breeding out the War Elk line from the three parent lines. The only reason he'd been able to do this at all was because he had boldly requested and received Shikato's permission (Shikamaru had helped there, pestering his father to grant that permission). And he'd been successful, in spite of the ridicule from the rest of his family. But he had never lived to see the end of his project. Akira had died in his second Chuunin-level mission. Shikamaru had silently vowed to not let his cousin's work go unfinished.

Also, Shikamaru had what Akira did not, he had Yakul. Yakul had been one of the last offspring of Akira's first War Elk stag, and was the best thus far. Yakul's dame had died due to birth complications, and Shikato had decided to give the newborn fawn to his son as a kind of test, to see if Shikamaru could be responsible enough to raise the newborn. Since Shikamaru had been eight at the time, the test was valid enough.

So this was the reason that Yakul was the youth's 'baby', because in a sense, the elk was. And this was also the reason for the great amount of trust and mutual affection between the elk and the youth, they'd grown up together. And Yakul had earned every scrap of love and devotion that Shikamaru lavished on him.

Even for the highly intelligent War Elk line, Yakul was smart. Really, really smart. He had learned over two hundred verbal commands, three hundred and fifteen physical cues, and could be trusted to carry out commands long after he'd left Shikamaru's presence. He could kill in a heartbeat, or carry an egg in his mouth from one end of Konoha to the other without breaking it. Yakul could even be trusted to watch after a small group of children, and had on multiple occasions pulled an errant youngster out of danger without being told what to do. This included saving two children from drowning and yanking another away from an unattended fire. The noble beast was just that smart.

And it was Yakul's first male offspring that had allowed Shikamaru to validly claim that the War Elk line was not doomed to failure. Hikaru, Yakul's first son, didn't start growing his antlers until late summer. The younger stag had his antlers throughout the winter, then shed them in early spring. Shikamaru could point out that while one War Elk would indeed be worthless for part of the year due to velvet antler vulnerability, two War Elk, with different antler cycles would cover each other.

The only other arguments that the rest of the Nara clan could put forth after that were temperament and training. Training took years, naturally. And the Nara clan were all rather lazy. Shikamaru couldn't counter that one, he'd trained Yakul in a labor of love, and if you didn't have that attitude toward you personal War Elk, you wouldn't be able to train it properly. The other problem was one that Shikamaru was dealing with at the moment.

"Uh, Shikamaru?" Naruto squeaked, "Cou-could you call your deer off?" The Nara youth was already trying to figure out the best way to do that actually. Naruto had innocently hopped the fence, figuring that deer equaled passive. Not with War Elk, they were highly territorial and required an introduction from an accepted source before they permitted a stranger to approach. So they'd cornered Naruto, lowering their antlers, for even females had antlers in most of the Nara herds and all of the War Elk herds.

"Nasha, Shina, Kala!" Shikamaru called out. The three does named, the more dominant females, all lifted their heads to stare at their acknowledge leader. "Friend." Nasha and Shina sniffed Naruto again, then wandered over to their human, begging for scritches. But Kala snorted and tossed her antlers, which were far smaller than Yakul's but still formidable. Since it was late summer, they were coming out of velvet. Kala's still had some scraps of velvet left, which made her look even more threatening. The velvet rags looked like scraps of skin… bloody scraps of skin…

"Friend." Shikamaru insisted. Kala glared at Naruto, who was doing his best 'I'm just a meek and innocent bystander, don't mind me' impression, snorted again and then pranced off, tail flagged, neck arched. Naruto breathed again.

"Sorry about that, I should have warned you that they're territorial." Shikamaru apologized.

"Yes, you should have! I think I just lost about five years there!" The blonde snapped, then winced back as he received many a glare. Yakul, of course, was above all this, only being concerned that his human not stop scratching. "Um, yeah, so these are War Elk, huh? They're certainly a lot scarier than I woulda thought. How are you going to use them?"

"Descriptive explanations are too troublesome," The brunette complained, "I'll show you when I get my strength back, Yakul and I have more than a few tricks." He slid off of his elk's back, leaning heavily against his flank. "Come on, I want food, a real bath and bed, in that order."

Naruto started to head over to lend his shoulder to Shikamaru again, but backed away when Yakul snorted warningly. With a slightly evil laugh, Shikamaru properly introduced the blonde to the elk, and then pointed to the gate near the house. Yakul served as a crutch all the way to the back porch, where the low eaves blocked the large elk.

"Field," Shikamaru ordered as he transferred his weight to Naruto's willing shoulder. The stag looked at the brunette mournfully for a moment before heading back, leaping the high fence effortlessly.

"Wow," The blonde said, staring. It was one thing for a trained shinobi to leap great distances and forbidding heights, it was another for a mere animal to do the same. Shikamaru permitted himself a small smirk at the feel of the blonde's genuine admiration before indicating that he really wanted to sit down. Another War Elk convert was born.

The 'new convert' opened the door and helped Shikamaru in.

"'Tou-san? Okaa-san?" The brunette called. He asked for his dad just on the off chance that he'd come back early and had decided to rest a bit before checking on his son. But only silence answered the call. Shikamaru gestured for Naruto to continue, and the two made their way to the kitchen. There was a note on the kitchen table in his mother's handwriting. It was only a statement of the fact that she left on this date on a mission and didn't plan on being back until that date, but it was all that Shikamaru needed. He stifled a sad sigh, he should have known better than to assume that his mother would wait until he got out of the hospital to take a mission.

Naruto said nothing; he only helped his friend into a chair at the table before puttering around in the kitchen.

"What are you doing?" Shikamaru asked.

"Making food for you," Naruto answered easily.

"I'm assuming you know how to cook something other than ramen?"

"Yes, I'm no five-star chef, but even Sakura says that the food I cook is actually edible." The blonde said defensively.

'Actually edible', not much of a recommendation, but Shikamaru could sense Naruto's determination. Normal arguments would be pointless right now, the blonde wouldn't hear them. And this was puzzling, why was Naruto so set on helping the brunette? Was it because of the fact that Shikamaru had acknowledged that he needed Naruto's help and had essentially stated that fact, if not in so many words? Shikamaru knew that the blonde didn't have that many good friends, which was also puzzling, and he knew that the adults more often than not didn't like the blonde at all, which was enormously puzzling.

What was there not to like about Naruto? Yes, he tended to be loud and mildly annoying, but that was only at first. Once you hung out with him for more than five minutes, he calmed down and dropped the volume. Make sure he didn't get too excited, he was remarkably good company, always cheerful and genuinely funny. Shikamaru knew that there was more to this antagonism than met the eye, and he knew that he'd been given a sizable clue during that fight against Sound, but right now he was too tired to think about it.

After a few minutes of puttering, Naruto came back with a platter of sandwich wedges, far more than Shikamaru could eat on his own. But the brunette didn't utter a word of complaint when the blonde grabbed one and muttered 'payment for the help' around a mouthful.

"Baka," Shikamaru chided with a smile, "don't talk with your mouthful." Naruto beamed happily before munching away. The two boys had only just made a dent in the sandwiches when there was a knock at the door. The brunette started to struggle to get up, but then Naruto stood, glared at him fiercely until Shikamaru sat back down, and then went to answer the door himself.

Naruto trotted over to answer the knock and had to restrain himself from humming. It was nice to be needed, and wanted as well. Shikamaru had made it obvious that he was happy about Naruto's presence, and that felt good. The brunette had leaned against him without reservation, had teased him gently and had otherwise made it clear that he was comfortable and content in the blonde's presence.

To others that might be normal or un-noteworthy, to Naruto it was something worth singing about. Even in Team 7 he hadn't gotten that kind of acceptance. Kakashi had always held himself a little away from his team, Sakura had first resented Naruto, and ever since he had admitted Kyuubi's presence to her, she had kept herself a little distant from her teammate. And Sasuke…

Naruto shook his head to chase thoughts of the missing Uchiha away. It wasn't worth thinking about that guy right now, not when he had another, truer friend who needed him. So it was in a determinedly cheerful frame of mind that he opened the door to greet the person there.

"Neji! What are you doing here?" Naruto smiled happily. One of his other favorite people, Neji had been very, very kind to him ever since the blonde had gotten back from his training journey.

Neji smiled slightly up at his younger friend, "I could ask you the same question, Naruto-kun. I hadn't realized you'd taken up living at the Nara residence."

"Oh, I haven't, it's just that Shikamaru needs a baby-sitter-"

"I do not!" Came a yell from inside the house. Neji's smile grew as Naruto ducked his head at the yell with a grin.

"Okay, a nurse-maid-"

"Naruto, I'm warning you!"

"Ah, someone to help him-" Naruto paused, and when this phrase wasn't accompanied with a yell of protest he continued. "-since he's so weak right now." Naruto paused again. No protest, right now, "So that's why I'm here, Shika needs a human crutch. What's your story?"

"My story has two parts to it, but I'd like to explain it inside." Neji craned his neck to look down the hallway behind Naruto, "If I'm invited?" He asked loudly.

"Of course, come on in. Just whap Naruto for me while you're at it."

Naruto clapped a hand over his mouth to stifle his giggles while Neji shook his head in mock-exasperation as he climbed the whole three stairs that separated the small front porch from the dirt track leading to the house. In obedience to Shikamaru's request, Neji lightly tapped Naruto's head with his closed fist before making his way further into the Nara household.

It didn't take long for Naruto to lead Neji to the kitchen where the Chuunin and the Jounin eyed each other passively, after Shikamaru glared at the blonde for moment.

"So what brings all the way out here?" Shikamaru asked with mild curiosity. He'd gotten to know Neji a bit better in the two and a half years since the younger brunette's promotion, but not by much. The two liked each other well enough in an 'I don't know much about you, but what I do know I like' sort of way. There was a great deal of mutual respect between the two, Neji respected Shikamaru's intelligence, Shikamaru respected Neji's skill. And Shikamaru felt no antagonize for the young noble ever since Neji had yanked the stick out of his ass with Naruto's assistance.

But Naruto wasn't aware of all this, he only knew that as the two were looking each other over there was no tension in the air, only curiosity and respect. Which also made Naruto happy; he liked it when his friends got along.

"There are two things, as I mentioned to Naruto." Neji stated with immense dignity, "One, I heard that you'd been released from the hospital and I wished to express my congratulations on that and see how you faired in person."

"And the real reason?" Shikamaru drawled, "Without all the 'proper phrasing' crap added in?" Naruto quickly turned his laugh into a cough, and blinked innocently at Neji's mild glare. But the Hyuuga soon relaxed and looked back over at the Nara.

"Tsunade has requested that I assist you in your training to discover and gain control of whatever new abilities you might now have." He said, "She felt it would be best if someone you know and are comfortable with helped you."

Shikamaru grimaced at the mention of training. "Okay, and no offense, but why not Asuma-sensei? He was my Genin team sensei and he knows me only too well."

"Granted," Neji answered while Naruto settled into a chair to watch the verbal tennis match. Two geniuses facing off, score! I only hope they don't get too technical, then I won't be able to keep up. D'oh! "But Asuma is senior to me and therefore can't be spared at the moment. Also there's these-" Neji tapped the corner of his right eye, "If anything major happens, I should be able to notice before things get- complicated."

Shikamaru sighed and leaned back in his chair, "Can't argue with those points, and Asuma-sensei's been trying to get Ino, Chouji and I up to Jounin level. There's no reason for him to skip out on training those two just because I have… issues." He grimaced again glaring at the floor away from his two guests, and Naruto noticed that Neji's face became more serious for a moment.

"You do realize that your sudden Ascension is the only reason that I, as well as your two teammates, plus Lee and Naruto here are alive right now, correct?" Neji stated firmly. Shikamaru tensed, carefully staring at nothing. Naruto contemplated not breathing so he wouldn't distract the other two.

"I understand that," Shikamaru said carefully, "but I wish this fact could be explained to others."

"Ah." Was all Neji said.

"Shouldn't you, ah-" Naruto spoke up, making the other two swivel to stare at him as if they'd forgotten he was there. Ha, I can too be invisible. Gotta brag about this to Sakura-chan, later. "Shouldn't you just prove that you're not really different at all by acting the way you normally do?"

"Huh, an unusual amount of common sense from you," Neji said, a slight amount of a teasing tone in his voice. Naruto stuck his tongue out at him, much to the amusement of his friends.

"You are right Naruto, that will be the best way to deal with this." Shikamaru admitted, "I've noticed that people don't like having their noses rubbed in a fact they don't want to admit. Explaining things to them won't help, they'll ignore it. Still," he sighed, "it'll take awhile for the fact to sink in and there are still going to be people who refuse to see reason. I don't like people being afraid of me."

Naruto bit his cheek to keep from saying that you kind of got used to it after awhile. If he said that, his friends would want to know why people were scared of him. The blonde couldn't have that, if he didn't explain why, they'd be mad at him, and if he did- They'll pull away the same way Sakura-chan did. I don't want that to happen, I want to keep this closeness I have with these two.

"So, returning to the original topic;" Neji said, making eyes return to him, "Shikamaru, you agree to having me assist you in training and researching your new abilities?"

Shikamaru lounged back in his chair. "Don't see how I can avoid it, if Tsunade-sama-"

"Baa-chan." Naruto corrected impishly. Shikamaru lifted a brow at him while Neji stifled a sudden chuckle.

"…Alright, Baa-chan ordered it. And I know you won't be too evil about the training."

Neji arched a brow elegantly at that but said nothing. Then, in respect of Shikamaru's obvious fatigue, he excused himself. Naruto sat up and swung his head back and forth to stare first at Shikamaru and then at Neji's retreating form.

"Do you still want help or should I leave you the heck alone?" Naruto asked his friend.

"I think I'll be alright now, the food helped," Shikamaru said after a moment of inner probing. "But you don't have to leave if you don't want to, I'm not about to kick you out."

The blonde blinked at him, then bounced over to offer his hand. The brunette smiled at him gratefully and accepted the hand. But when the two reached the bathroom door, Shikamaru finally chased the bouncy blonde away kindly.

Naruto left the house, determinedly holding to the warm feeling of acceptance he had right then. It had been very nice, hanging out with Shikamaru like this. But as he trotted down the lane leading back to the heart of the city, he got a bit of a surprise.

"What're you still doing here?" He asked Neji, who was leaning against one of the many trees lining the dirt road.

"Waiting for you," He answered, ignoring the innocent rudeness of Naruto's question. There had been no hostility in Naruto's voice, only surprise.

"Oh? Why's that?" The blonde asked, walking over to his other friend.

"I'd like to commandeer your assistance if I may," Neji said, "Tsunade let slip that you are going to be in Konoha for a while, and I'd appreciate it if you could help me train Shikamaru."

"No prob, when do we start?"

"Tomorrow morning."

"Tomorrow?!?" Naruto yelped, "You can't start tomorrow, Shika's half-dead as is, you'll kill 'im!"

Neji rubbed his ear slightly, "I doubt that, I plan on moving slowly at first, and I also have a feeling that a good night's rest in his own bed will do Shikamaru a world of good. He seemed much revived since my last visit to him in the hospital."

"Ano, I guess so, but still…" The blonde frowned, "You promise you'll go easy on him?" Naruto trusted Neji, but not in training. He'd seen the Hyuuga once in just a mundane spar against Lee. The Hyuuga was vicious. Naruto didn't think Shikamaru would survive if Neji was his usual self tomorrow in training.

Neji, guessing the direction of Naruto's thoughts, smiled reassuringly. "I promise I'll be gentle. I usually adjust my strength to that of my opponent. Against Lee, I need to go all out. But against Shikamaru, especially now, I doubt I'll need to use even half my potential." Naruto frowned, but mostly at the implied insult towards Shikamaru than anything else, but he still didn't agree to the training. So Neji cheated, "Still, if you don't want to help, I guess I'll have to find my own way of prying Shikamaru out of bed." He turned away, walking back to the city, "Pity, I was hoping that you'd of assistance there."

"Oi… That's cheap…" Naruto growled, plans and plots of how to wake up the notoriously lazy Chuunin whirling through the blonde head. Best start simple, hmm, I should- "I'll help."

Neji glanced back, "Good, I'll pick you up tomorrow before heading over to the Nara residence."

Yakul's hungry bugling woke Shikamaru just after dawn. After a few moments of blinking, yawning and mild cursing, the youth hauled himself out from under his comfy blankets and headed down the stairs. Already this morning he felt much better, but still a little weak. Evidence: his struggle to get his damned muck-boots on. Like in most traditional Konoha households, shoes were left outside. Shikamaru could swear that his herd was laughing at him as they watched him roll around the back porch, arguing with his damned boots.

Finally, the bloody, clunky things were on and he headed off to give the deer their grain ration. Since the Nara fields were so extensive, the deer didn't really need to be fed, but to ensure the best health in the herds and to get them used to the idea that humans were good things they were given a measure of grain near the house each day. Since his parents weren't there, that duty fell to Shikamaru.

The chore was quickly done, and the youth walked back to the house, yawning. As he opened the door, a marmalade tabby cat zipped in with him. This was a little odd, not the presence of the cat, but the fact that it wanted in. Herds meant grain, grain meant mice and where there were mice, there were cats. But the local cats usually avoided the humans, so Shikamaru blinked in surprise at the cat that had claimed an overstuffed armchair as its personal property.

The cat stared back for a moment, then proceeded with kitty yoga, one hind leg raised high and proud, head bent to- well. The human youth could now clearly see that his feline guest was male.

"Hello to you too," He said, making the cat pause to glare at him before resuming the infinitely more important task of assuring absolute cleanliness. With a small laugh, Shikamaru trudged up stairs and returned to bed. Sleep came quickly, even for him.

The Nara youth didn't think he'd been asleep long before he sensed imminent danger. There was someone in his room, close, and that someone was exuding an aura of gleeful mischief. Shikamaru lay on his side, back turned to the door, so when he opened his eyes there was nothing immediately before him. But out of the corner of his eye there was-

A bucket. A very large bucket with condensation sprinkled over it to declare that its contents were cold. Behind the bucket was a grinning face with bright blue sparkling eyes and a shock of vivid blonde hair. Naruto, holding what could only be a bucket of ice-water.

"Don't. You. Dare." Shikamaru stated in a 'I will kill you slowly if you do' voice. Naruto's grin broadened.

"Well, if you don't get up quickly enough…" The blonde sloshed the bucket a little, allowing a trickle of the coldest water this side of freezing to splash down. The effect was immediate; Shikamaru leapt up and tried to jump out- only his legs tangled in his blankets- so he reached out to steady himself and-

Neji was waiting downstairs patiently when he heard something.


I guess Naruto has woken Shikamaru up. A few moments later the blonde zipped down as if chased by the Kyuubi himself.

"Help me! Hide me! He's going to kill me!" The blonde babbled, bolting to hide behind the unmoving figure of Neji. About a second after he had done that, down came the reason for Naruto's fear; Shikamaru, dripping wet, spitting fury and very much awake.

"Neji," The brunette panted angrily as he came to a stop at the foot of the stairs, "Move. I need to kill him. Slowly, oh so slowly…" Naruto whimpered and cowered a little more. Neji cast his eyes to the heavens and wondered why he was doing this again. Oh yeah, because Tsunade told him to, that's right.

Neji had gone to pick up Naruto about a half hour after dawn. Naruto had protested that action so much that Neji wondered which wake-up would be worse, Naruto's or Shikamaru's. When, in exasperation, Neji had threatened to leave the blonde behind and wake up Shikamaru on his own, Naruto had awoken completely, grinning like a maniac.

The Hyuuga couldn't help but wonder what kind of mischief-demon he had unleashed. He was certain he'd unleashed something terrible when the blonde had zipped off, only to return with a large metal bucket swinging at his side. Neji had managed to catch a glimpse of roughly an inch of ice cubes layering the bottom of the bucket. When they had reached the Nara residence, Naruto had dashed over to an outside faucet in the side of the house to fill his bucket. Neji had used the pause to use his Byakugan to check if Shikamaru really was still asleep.

The Chuunin had been, so Neji had permitted the blonde to go wake him up, after stating firmly that Naruto was to try and use normal means to get Shikamaru up before using the frigid contents of the bucket. I'm still not certain if he understood me or not, mused Neji as he stared at the outraged form of Shikamaru. The boy was only wearing a tank top and briefs, both of which were plastered to his body by the water. The Hyuuga wondered at the fact that the soaking clothes weren't steaming from the Nara's outrage.

"Hyuuga, move." Shikamaru demanded again as he stood face to face with the teen-aged Jounin. "I need to kill Naruto." He had a kunai, and it looked like he knew how to use it.

"I can't do that, the only reason Naruto is here is because I requested his presence." Neji said, one hand holding down the kunai

"Well, I guess I need to kill you too."

"You'll get in trouble if you do that."

"Right now I don't care. He poured ice water on me when I was in bed."

"It was an accident?" Naruto whimpered.

"He was just trying to wake you u-"

"I was already awake"

"Oh… Oops?"


"So sorry."

"You don't sound it."

"Go take a shower and get changed, you'll feel better."

"I'll feel better after I kill the blonde baka and his commander in crime."

"I said I was sorry…" Naruto whined. Shikamaru glowered ferociously at him before stomping back up stairs, muttering evil things about Naruto and about how he was going to have to set his mattress out to dry now because of him. Neji blew out a sigh and glanced down at the still-cowering Naruto. The blonde was still watching the direction the kunai-wielding fiend went, but then glanced up at Neji when they both could hear a shower running.

"My hero!" The blonde maniac cried out, glomping Neji firmly.

"Ack! No glomping!" Was the dignified protest as the Hyuuga was knocked to the floor by the sudden attack. He then proceeded with the equally dignified task of trying to pry the blond off of him. Good luck. The 'attack' was only stopped when Naruto's stomach protested its empty state.

"Oh yeah, I haven't had breakfast." Naruto stated, sitting up and dropping Neji. Since he'd been struggling against the blonde, Neji clonked his head against the ground. "And I bet Shika-kun's hungry too. Are you hungry? I'm gonna make breakfast, maybe Shika-kun won't kill me if I do that!" With that declaration, Naruto zipped off to the kitchen, leaving behind a dazed and confused Neji.

All the while the marmalade tabby watched the entire drama with great amusement.

A.S.: Um, Shika? You can put the knife down now…

Shika: #evil chuckles# fox fur gloves… fox teeth charms… yes… killing good…

Naruto: #hiding in bunker# I didn't mean to douse him, honest! A.S. make him stop, he's scaring me!

A.S.: I'm beginning to wonder if I can. Besides, I have my own problems. I am so breaking my own rules right now. I promised that after releasing the second chapter of a fic, I'd go in order of first to last in updating. Releasing this now, even with the pretty bribes, is so breaking that rule and my trust with my fans. Gomen ne, I know I'm being bad. The only other thing I can say is that I'm having trouble writing the next chapter in my pocket bishonen fic, so I went with the story I had inspiration on. I'll try and work on that soon, promise!

Neji: Urk! Who cares about that? Help me restrain this mad-man!

A.S.: Shika! No killing the cast! Yipe, put that knife down!

Naruto: Heeelllp meeeeee!