Disclaimer: Me no own.

Sorry everyone! Commitment issues. And then I was reading this amazing and enlightening Invader Zim story about Gaz by the title of "Platonic Life". This is a recommendation, so that it will get reviews and that Sideos will feel more compelled to write and post, thus making me feel better. Even though no matter how many reviews I get (what am I saying? I've only gotten 16!) I shall never stop being distracted. On asskident, me pwomith. Updates? Ha! Good luck. Wow I sound mean.




"Ino-san, are you going t-to be alright?"

From my claimed territory of the floor of my apartment, I withdrew my face from my Piglet pollow and regarded Hinata. "You're not going already, are you?"

She smiled nervously. "Ah-- g-gomen ne, but Otou-sama isn't feeling well lately. I need to go and, um, h-help." Funny, she doesn't look like she wants to leave.

"Hina-chan, let somebody else handle it." I thought I caught a flash of indigance there... nah. It's Hinata. "But if you really wanna go, it's not like I'll stop you." She looks better at that. Not the doormat anymore, is she? I'm glad for her. Whoo.

And it's here that the phone rang. Tenten skipped over (still hyped up from the cookies) and with a flaunty air snatched it up, immediately going into a twirling session. I hope she'll thank me later for affording a cordless phone. "Hello?" she sang, eerie-cheery. Suddenly she halted mid-spin and straightened up. "Sasuke?"

From the kitchen, the resident pink-haired kunoichi poked her head out, revealing puffed cheeks and crumb-coated lips. "Eh?"

"Y-yeah, she's right here." Tenten now had the attention of all other four occupants. Everything in her body language suggested worry. Hurredly she shoved the phone into Sakura's hands, who covered the mouth piece. Tenten gave a warning before taking a respectful few steps away. "He sounds...weird. Something's up." Specific, that's her. Even Hinata hovers near the door, not willing to go just yet. I guess she'll feel guilty if she leaves at a tense time.

Warily, Sakura holds up the phone to her ear. "Ano...konnichi wa, Sasuke-kun!" She offered cheerfully. Normalcy was what she's hoping for. The expected pang of jealously wasn't at my throat, surprisingly enough.

Probably because I didn't have time for envy. In the next few seconds, Sakura began to droop, nodding half-heartedly and occasionally giving a mumble or an uh-huh. The other side wasn't loud enough to be heard, of course. But I had a feeling I didn't want to hear this. By the time she lay the phone back in it's rightful bet, Sakura was wilted.

Temari, taking advantage of Sakura's distraction, snarfed down the rest of her stolen cookies and tried to look as worried as everyone else. This guy was just a former crush from a different village; anything that happened to him wouldn't affect her. "So, wassa matter?"

A sigh, a shift of the weight, and Sakura answered; "Tsunade-sama is allowing him an assassination mission."

"So? He's a shinobi, Sakura, and so are we. He needs to be prepared to die come any mission. Excluding weeds."

"Well you never know; that poison stuff you spray cuz the client insists? Pretty strong, y'know."

"It's not that." She wouldn't meet anyone's eyes. "His request of no other teammates was approved also. It's a solo mission. And," here was the big part, ooh, apprehension everybody, "the assignment is... Itachi Uchiha."

"His brother?" yelped Temari. Reeled in at last. "I didn't even know he had a brother. He can't kill his own brother, Tsunade wouldn't approve of it!" I sat back and cradled my chin. It's my own thinking position; makes me feel cool like Shikamaru. Sofistakatedd and all that. Of course Temari would be upset about this; she's not an only child. This situation would be unthinkable to her.

Tenten tried to explain. "Temari, didn't you hear his first name? Itachi."

Temari quit ranting. "Itachi? ...Akatsuki?" A pause. "I was wondering if that dude had a last name."

Time for my BFF role. I dusted off my thights and stood. I strode over to Haruno Sakura, dropped my hand on her shoulder and said, "Go to him, Sakura. Go to him and do what must be done."


No, I'm kidding. I didn't say that; I was still in my little emo corner. What I really did was snarf my own cookies while taking keen interest in the conversation, even though it was melodramatic as any gossip I'd spread before. Hinata moved away from the door a bit, unsure if it would be appropriate to leave in a hard time for a "friend".

"When is he leaving?" I asked. Hey, I happen to not be fond of silence, and no one else seems to cope with it nicely.

Sakura opened her mouth slightly. "Ah-" But she was interrupted.

"SAKURA-CHAN!" Unsurprisingly, it was the orange blur that barreled through my door. That was the second time it had been annihilated today, and it was starting to tick me off. but I didn't get to voice my indigance. I was being ignored in my own apartment. The sheer nerve of them!

"Naruto-ku--" Hinata began. She was cut off.

"Sakura-chan, we have to hurry!" shouted Naruto, which shouldn't be unusual except this shouting wasn't in the right tone, the usual shouting tone. It caught my attention immediately.

"You mean you heard about Sas--?"

"Hai! I was there! Tsunade-baa-chan said if we hurry we can go with him as back up, but he's going right now! Come on!" So many exclaimations make my head pound. Hold it, Sasuke was going now? Prick. Sakura was already out the door, Naruto moving to shut it with a sweeping motion that makes me get my wincing muscles ready.

"Naruto-kun," said Hinata, halting him softly. "M-maybe I c-could help?"

Naruto fidgeted, almost as if he were irritated. To be wasting precious time. Aren't they supposed to be together? "It kinda doesn't have much to do with you; it's best if you stay behind," said Naruto finally. Temari stiffened. She was a bit protective of Hinata; the quality of her product depended heavily on the quality of the producer's mood.

Hinata's horrendous posture returned; breifly she sluped over, then struggled to straighten up so she could face the one who was supposed to be her lover according to every reliable gossip, source, and appearance in public. Naruto looked still uncomfortable with the situation, unsure of what to say, so he simply chose to clame his mouth shut and slam the door on the trembling Hyuuga. Right in her face.

There was a silence left in the apartment. What could we do? Tenten stood near the kitchen, busying herself with the wiping of the counters while stealing glances toward Hinata. Subtly she glared at Temari and I and mouthed to us to do something.

Temari responded by nervously standing and padding over to Hinata, who had her back turned to her, still staring at the door. The Suna-nin looked determind but in unfamiliar territory, inexperienced in the field of comforting. Tenuously she lifted her hand to the height of Hinata's shoulder, but before she could touch it Hinata put her hand on the doorknob in a way made to send the message that touch was uncalled for.

"If you'll excuse me," said the pale girl quietly, almost coldly if you listened right, "I need to get home now. I hope you get well, Ino-san."

"Oi!" said Temari on a whim. "You don't have to--" She reached for Hinata's arm this time, searching for a good grip to pull her back in, but Hinata raised a hand to block her bluntly and easily, because a long-distance fighter like Temari moved clumsily compared to her, and used the other to make a series of hand signs. A puff of smoke was what Temari attempted to trip next. "Dammit!" She hissed.

It was only us three in my apartment. Soon to be two. "Feel free to raid the fridge," I muttered while brushing crumbs of my thighs. I stood and made my way to the door. Sure I could trust 'em. They're both older than me, right? (not in the head)

"Why, there are you going?" Temari and Tenten demanded in sinc, while I swiped a jacket from the closet in case it was a cold night. Hinata wouldn't need one; she never under any conditions took hers off willingly.

"Isn't it obvious?" I had one foot out the door, jacket draped over one arm. "Gimme twenty minutes and I'll have her back here."

With that, I gently closed the door.


Two boys strode side by side along a road. Well, maybe "strode" is too strong a word. Both had a supreme distaste for making scenes. All right then: Two boys walked side by side. Nice, simple verb. Ahem.

Shino was showing Gaara the way to the Hyuuga domain, as was promised at Ichiraku. Gaara had said he would like to meet the Hyuuga heiress famous soley for her cooking skills, secondary only to her knack for concocting up new healing salves. More precisely, he'd decided that as long as keeping relations with Konoha's individual clan leaders smooth was a priority, he might as well judge some sweets for himself while he was at it. Shino had only obliged because of his position and because he said he knew wat was wrong with Ino and how to deal with it (although how he'd gained the necessary experiance for such knoledge was completely beyond Shino).

The redhead's earlier befuddling mannerisms at the stand had dissipated. He fixed his stare stonily ahead, but closer inspection revealed a--dare I type it--twinkle in his eyes and tugging of the lips. This looke, the happy look, just didn't suit the sharp, narrow face of Gaara, and it bothered Shino to no end. That was all the more reason to focus on the mundane, uneventful path to the Hyuuga compound. Luckey they were so nearby at the start.

But before Shino could stop Gaara at the gate to warn him of manners, he sensed a familiar chakra coming their way. Gaara must have sensed it also, because in the next moment he was poised on a tree branch high above and a dour stare made Shino follow suit. The level the off-duty Kazekage had picked was high enough to be discreet, but low enough to see through the leaves and hear the people below.

That would be moi, and of course Hinata. Had I been able to spot the two spies I would have seen Gaara's eye gleam maliciously.


A/N: Wow I suck. I'm sorry! To anyone desperate enough to read this putty. I shall be gone for the next two weeks, but since you were able to go for like, what, three months without an update without slitting your own throats I'm guessing you'll be more than fine. Go! Indulge in all things morbid!