Disclaimer- I own nothing.

Author's Note- GUESS WHO'S BACK. BACK AGAIN. MWAHAHA. Okay well anyhow, high school was REALLY hard. Much harder than I expected. But I survived! Heh. Well yeah, so I'm really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, REALLY sorry for not updating any stories for like six months, but I had to prioritize and school came first, sadly. BUT now it's summer and I can get back to writing! WHOO! But my writing isn't as good as it was back then, mostly because all the essays I had to write has completely drained it out of me. Sigh. But I bet I'll pick it back up. I sort of forgot where I was going with a few of these fics, but hopefully I'll remember that too! Cha. Well, enjoy! And sorry again guys! Forgive me? Oh and I'll go back and rewrite all these chapters later on, not like change the entire storyline, but touch up a few loose ends and mistakes here and there. So bear with the crappy chapters for a little while, kay? Haha. OKAY enjoy! AND NO FLAMES. Please. I just got back in the writing spirit, please don't crush it.


Chapter Four

"Sai? Why are you… crawling?"

"Perhaps it's because I'm fascinated by how incredibly dirty your carpet is and want to get a closer look at it."

"Baka."

It had been about two weeks since the boys moved in with Sakura, and every day that passed by she could have sworn they got more and more cat-like. Their sentences were frequently punctuated with meows, Naruto more so than the rest. Sasuke was acting weirdly, also. Whenever Sakura would pass by, he'd dodge into a nearby corner, as if he was trying to avoid her, and he always wore long-sleeved shirts even though it was near the middle of summer. Sakura frowned slightly. Why was he trying to hide from her? Or, more importantly, what? Nowadays it seemed like he wasn't even there, always lurking and hiding in the shadows somewhere. And Sai developed an interesting obsession with grooming and crawling on all fours. Sakura made note of these changes and reported them to Tsunade.

As Sakura finished reading the paper, she got up and headed over to the living room, where she exchanged Sai's old papers with these ones. Naruto and Sai were busy in front of the T.V. playing some video game that Naruto brought over when he moved in. Naruto was currently in the lead.

"Nya," Sai lifted the controller up and stared at it from the underside, "How the hell do you work this thing?"

"BWAHAHA!" Naruto boasted, "For a prodigy you barely know anything about technology! Here, let me help you," a malicious grin spread its way onto the blonde's face as he purposely pressed the wrong buttons.

"Nani?" Sai cocked a brow, "Why did my ship suddenly lose 50hp?"

Sakura rolled her eyes as a small smile played across her lips. It was nice seeing the two actually play "nicely" with each other. Well, at least nicer than when they had first met. One could probably consider them friends now. The boys had certainly settled down more than they had upon their initial arrival, and acted more at home. Chuckling silently, the pink haired jounin busied herself with changing Sai's newspapers again. But then, the girl stopped in the middle of her task and frowned slightly. Now that she thought about it, Sai really had it tough. When he first came, he wasn't readily accepted by Naruto or her, and was sort of on bad terms with everyone. He'd had a tough past also, and he didn't really have emotions, which made it harder on him. Poor guy. He had been pretty good lately...

"I know!" the medic nin beamed and headed to the closet, where she shoveled through loads of crud she didn't even remember she had. "Aha! Here it is." Still smiling, she brought out a medium-sized cushion. It wasn't much, but better than the Konoha Times. Most of her pillows and sheets were given to Naruto, and knowing the blonde he wouldn't readily give any up, but Sai probably wouldn't accept them unless they'd been washed five times over. As Sakura turned around she bumped into something firm yet soft.

"Oh!" she gasped, "Ohayo, Sasuke-kun."

"Hn," the said nin looked away and nodded in regards to her before pulling up his collar and shuffling away quickly. Sakura quirked a brow. There he went again, with his odd behavior.

"Ne, Sasuke-kun? Why are you avoiding me? I didn't do anything wrong, did I?"

The teen stopped, but gave no reply except a slight tug at his sleeve.

Sakura frowned, "Well, do what you wish, Sasuke-kun. But if something is troubling you, you can always come and tell me."

"...Hn," was the reply before he turned the corner to the kitchen.

Sakura sighed and replaced her smile and entered the living room. "Oh Saaaii, look what I hav-NARUTO!"

"Meow?" both boys looked up. Naruto ceased his scratching.

"Naruto, you're shedding again!" Sakura huffed exasperatedly. Everytime he scratched himself huge clumps of hair would fall out, and the fact that he was doing it all over her white couch didn't help either. This was the fourth time this week, a new record!

"Mew?" he blinked.

"Don't you 'mew' me, mister!" she scolded as she busily wiped off the offending hairs. Her eyebrow twitched as she realized many of them were also Sasuke's and Sai's. Now her beautiful ivory sofa was an odd shade of light grayish-yellow.

"Ugh," Sakura frowned, "I'm all out of lint rollers. I'll need to go out and buy some more."

"You're going out Sakura-chan?" Naruto leapt down from his spot on the couch and trailed her like a baby duck to a mother duck, "Can I come?"

"No."

"Whaaat? Are you sure? I mean you might need protection!"

"Naruto," Sakura smirked, "You know you can't go out in public."

"What if you get robbed or something? Or-or raped?! GASP!"

Sai flinched and Sakura's eyebrow twitched.

"Sakura-chan," Naruto put on a serious face, which wasn't really serious in her opinion, "if that happened I would NEVER forgive myself! Let me go with you this one time!"

"Again, that's a no." Naruto frowned. Lately he had been a lot more... protective over her. To say the least, Sakura was touched by his concern, but it was odd. He'd question her alot about where she'd been and if any guy caused her trouble that day. Like a second father or something. Shaking her head from such thoughts, Sakura called out, "Sas-" she stopped herself. Usually, when she went out she put Sasuke in charge, but since he seemed to be a bit… anti-social lately, she figured he wouldn't be able to watch much in his dark corner. "Err, Sai, you're in charge."

"NANI?!" Naruto gaped. Sai blinked in surprise. "S-Sakura-chan, y-you're putting HIM in charge?" Naruto curled his tail in outrage.

"Sure," Sakura grabbed her coat as if nothing was wrong.

Sai smiled, "For once, the hag has made a smart choice."

"Don't make me revoke your privileges, mister," Sakura clicked back smartly.

Sai growled and shuffled back onto his newspapers and continued reading the Sunday comics. That was a big blow to his pride. Well, as long as he was in charge then everything was fine.

Naruto continued to gape, "B-BUT, BUT, BUT, BUT, BUT-!"

"Naruto, it'll be okay," Sakura patted his head, "I'll only be gone for a little while."

"B-BUT, BUT, BUT, BUT, BUT-!"

"Don't worry about it; you'll get your turn soon."

"B-BUT, BUT, BUT, BUT, BUT-!"

"There's stuff in the fridge you can make your dinners with if I get home a little later. Be good, alright?"

"B-BUT, BUT, BUT, BUT, BUT-!"

"NARUTO!" Sakura near shouted, "Okay, relax, I'm only going to be gone for a little bit, so there's no need to worry. And this is the only time I'm putting Sai in charge, so just calm down. You can be in charge next, alright? But right now the last thing I need for you is to cause a ruckus and have the landlord kick us out, so be good, ne?" she smiled.

"..." Naruto blinked. And then...

"B-BUT, BUT, BUT, BUT, BUT-!"

The door slammed abruptly in Naruto's face. He could hear Sakura stomping irritably down the hall. "…B-BUT SAKURA-CHAN, SAI IS EEEEVIILLL!!!"

The raven haired ANBU cocked a brow at the blonde, "And that's the best you could have come up with?"

Naruto hissed and bared his fangs, "Don't speak to me, demon!"

"Look who's talking."

"At least I'm not a freak who reads emotions from a book! And you're probably just looking at those comics because you're copying the expressions on their faces!"

"Meow, Don't be ridiculous," Sai retorted as he looked up, his face oddly resembling Calvin's scheming one. (A/N: CALVIN AND HOBBES! Lol, okay carry on.)

Naruto shivered and went back to grooming himself.


"You know," Naruto said as he chewed his dinner, "I never realized the amazing flavor that fish had. I mean, it's amazing!"

It had been about an hour since Sakura left, and both boys were enjoying their dinners. Sasuke's was still on the table, untouched since it had been set out ten minutes ago. Come to think of it, the Uchiha heir hadn't been seen all day. Sakura's apartment was of fairly decent size, but it wasn't THAT big. Where could he be?"

"Aa." Sai said as he sipped his water.

"It's incredible! How can such common creatures that swim in water have great flavor like this?"

"How interesting."

"Meow, this stuff is heavenly! I LOVE TUNA! BELIEVE IT!"

"Aa."

Naruto looked irritated, "No, not 'Aa'! Fish isn't just 'Aa'!"

Sai blinked at Naruto before picking up his own dinner and walking away, "I have better things to do than listen to some dickless wonder ramble on about the 'miracles' of tuna."

Suddenly, there was a loud crash and the sound of a male hollering. Sai and Naruto whipped around and narrowed their eyes. That sounded like Sasuke, and it came from the bathroom. But Sasuke was a skilled ninja, why would he be in trouble? Equally bushy tails bristled. Uh oh. This didn't sound so good.


Eighteen year old Sakura Haruno blew a stray bang from her face and balanced the grocery bag on her arm, while attempting to flip the offending bang away with the other. Once settled, Sakura smiled and set off on her way home. Getting the lint rollers had taken longer than expected, but you couldn't blame her for getting sidetracked while shopping! I mean all the colorful things you can buy… OH and those towels would have gone great with the bathroom décor! And those rubber duckies were so adorable! And…

Yeah. Anywho…

As the young jounin walked along the concrete path, silently humming to herself. Her pace was a bit quicker than usual, because she had quite a bit of fresh fish in the bag for the boys and didn't want it to stay out in the open air too long, and partially because she had already left them alone for too long. Sakura tensed slightly when she heard a slight rustling before a familiar voice called out her name.

"Oi, Sakura!"

She turned around. It was Shikamaru. Next to him were Ino, Chouji, Hinata, Kiba, and Shino. "Ohayo!"

"O-Ohayo, S-Sakura-san," Hinata shuffled timidly. The others returned with a polite greeting as well.

"Whatcha doin' wandering around so late, forehead-girl?" Ino said as she poked her friend's brow.

Sakura glared playfully, "Stop that, Ino-pig. I was out getting some lint rollers for the cat haaaai…I MEAN, the dust. Yes, the dust on my couch." She mentally berated herself for nearly revealing the mission that was supposed to be a secret from everyone else, 'BAKA BAKA BAKA!'

Suddenly, Akamaru growled slightly at Sakura and began barking.

"Hey, what's wrong buddy?" Kiba bent down and pet the white pup, "It's only Sakura! You act as if she's a cat or something."

"Ha-Ha-Ha," the said nin laughed robotically.

"Geez," Kiba rubbed his head, "Akamaru thinks you're a cat, he says you smell just like one."

"Why would she?" Ino said, "Forehead-girl doesn't have a cat."

"WOAH!" Kiba yelped and grabbed his nose, "What's in the bag, Sakura? The smell is crazy!"

"Huh? Oh! I just bought some fresh fish, and I think I should get them home soon."

"That's quite a bit you got there," Shikamaru said as he studied the bag.

"Heh," Sakura force-laughed again, "I've been having an ENORMOUS craving for fish lately, so I bought a ton of it! Funny, eh?"

Chouji nodded understandingly, "I know JUST how you feel, Sakura. Those cravings can be pretty powerful."

Sakura sweat dropped, "Ha-ha….um, WELL, I'd better get going now before they spoil, OKAYBYENOW!" Sakura whirled around and was about to begin her non-conspicuous-mad-sprint-home when a shy voice spoke up and made her nearly trip over herself.

"A-Ano," Hinata blushed and fidgeted nervously with her fingers, "S-Sakura-s-san… D-Do you happen t-to know what happened to N-Naruto-s-san?"

Crap.

She asked it.

The ONE question Sakura prayed wouldn't be brought up.

At this, the others released a chorus of "Oh yeah"s and began recollecting on how they hadn't seen the missing Team 7 boys for weeks since their return from the mission. Suddenly, they all turned their attention towards a certain pink-haired medic-nin with eyes expectant of an answer. Sakura froze. What was she supposed to tell them?

"Surely you would know," Shino spoke for the first time that night, "You're their teammate. And you haven't been out a lot lately either."

Sakura made a mental note to punish Shino for being so smart. But for now, she had to think fast. Come on, come on!

"A-Actually," Sakura began unsurely, "I really don't know what happened to them. I believe they got sent on another mission. Those bakas really don't fill me in on what they're doing these days, haha…" Now she needed to pray they'd believe it.

"Come to think of it, you do whine a lot about how they always leave you behind," Ino put a finger to her chin, "But then again, you whine about a lot of things…"

"Ino-pig!"

Kiba and Chouji snickered, Hinata shuffled uncomfortably, and Shikamaru smirked.

"Well I must be getting home now," Sakura slowly shied herself away from the group, "See you guys tomorrow!" The nins said their goodbyes and headed off in different directions, but a certain bug nin lingered for just a bit longer.

Shino's brows furrowed. There was definitely something fishy about her, and he wasn't talking about the stuff in the bag.


Sakura slammed the door to her apartment shut as she sighed and leaned against the cool wood. That was close. Baka! Why hadn't she thought of this before? The other ninja were bound to get concerned over Naruto, Sasuke, and Sai sometime, but then again Sakura had assumed that Tsunade had provided an excuse for their absences. But whatever, at least that was over. As the strawberry haired nin gathered her bearings, her eyes suddenly widened.

"WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED HERE?" Sakura shouted angrily as she studied her apartment, specifically the living room. It was a mess! There was some overturned furniture, and the carpet looked scuffled. And there was no sign of the boys anywhere. That was weird; usually Naruto pounced on her whenever she came back from anything.

"Sasuke-kun?" Sakura called, "Sai? Naruto?"

Upon receiving no answer, Sakura grew worried, her anger subsiding for now. What could have happened?

"Sasuke-kun? Sai? Naruto?" she called again as she opened the door to the closet.

Nope, not in there.

She poked her head in the kitchen.

Nope, not there either.

Sakura felt like tearing her hair out when she reached the bathroom. The mirror was shattered, a few tiles were missing, and the sink looked almost broken off. What the hell?! 'Don't tell me a missing-nin broke in or something!' But the boys were strong enough to defend themselves…

As she walked down the dark, narrow hallway, she pulled out a kunai just in case. Some noise was coming from the end of it. They sounded like… whimpering noises? And some mewing noises also…

"Sasuke-kun? Sai? Naruto?" she tried again. The whimpering and mewing grew quiet. Were they in pain?! "Are you alright?" Sakura said with a bit more urgency in her tone. Her hand searched for the light switch and turned it on. Instantly, the corridor was flooded with light, revealing everything that was in it, and at the end of it.

As soon as she saw what was at the end, Sakura dropped her kunai, and screamed.


Evil cliffhanger. Haha.