One Day at the Hospital.

A/N: if only to tide you over until the next "Village Hidden In The Lemon Peels" chapter comes out, here's a little story starring the gift shop of the hospital in my own town. (I know several people who make milkshakes at hospitals. No, seriously. They all hate it.)

"Heh. Still as weak as ever," sneered Itachi, grinning with satisfaction as he felt the bones of his younger brother's wrist shatter under his hand. He had always heard that it was an extremely painful spot to break, and the agonized grimace on the boy's face confirmed this.

Sasuke's world turned red and spun, but he was determined not to make a sound. He gritted his teeth and reached for a weapon, but he couldn't get to his pocket... the floor was in the way. Suddenly and without his knowledge, he was on the ground.

A heavy boot slammed into his wounded wrist, grinding it into the floor. Sasuke lost it; he screamed, he gasped for breath, he went back to screaming, he passed out.

Itachi shook his head, stooping to make sure Sasuke really was out cold, and then gathered the boy's comatose body up and swung him over his shoulder.

The spiky-haired blond teen sitting across from him had been in the hospital waiting room for four hours, and she hadn't made any progress on her Sudoku puzzle. In fact, in the last two hours or so, she had given up on it entirely, and was holding the book over her face, using it to hide her actual activities, namely, spying on the other occupants of the emergency room waiting area.

Itachi didn't realize this at the moment. At the moment, he was attempting to fill out a hospital form, trying to remember his brother's social security number, and propping said brother up with his shoulder at the same time. He was also aware that while he wasted time on this form, Sasuke's wrist was turning a shade of yellow-green not unlike slug guts that have been left on the sidewalk all day.

A half-delusional Gaara stared at the bunny-shaped stain on the hospital ceiling, trying not to be annoyed by the fact that they had seen fit to strap him firmly to the bed.

"So, what are you in for?" asked his roommate. Gaara turned his head to get a good look at him. Naruto was similarly chained down, and regarding him with equal interest.

"Fever," muttered Gaara. "You?"

"I was playing mumblypeg with Rock Lee over who gets Sakura. I lost," Naruto laughed, indicating his bandaged feet, which were the only part of him not fastened to the bed. "But, Sakura freaked out when she saw my feet and started screaming at Lee, and she took me to the hospital, so really, I won." (A/N: Mumblypeg is an old game wherein you throw knives at your opponent's feet.)


There was a long lapse in the conversation. Naruto glanced over at his companion, to find him laying back with his eyes closed. "Yo, Gaara, man,"

"What?" came the tired answer.

"You aren't gonna fall asleep on me, are you? 'Cause then I'll have to go Kyuubi on your ass, and trust me, it won't be pretty."

"I want some water," moaned Gaara. "Why aren't there any nurses around?"

Naruto moved his shoulders under the straps in a shrugging motion. "They're all scared to death of us. Because deep down, they know damn well that we could snap these wimpy little bonds like stale uncooked ramen noodles."

"Oh." Gaara went back to staring at the ceiling. "Hey, Naruto?"


"How long does it take a fever to break?"

"I have no clue. I've never been sick before."

"Neither have I," sighed Gaara.

Itachi gave up. "Um, excuse me," he called to the Sudoku girl, the room's only other occupant. "I hate to ask this, but I need to get to his wallet," he pointed to Sasuke, who was half on the floor, half on a chair. "Could you hold him up for me?"

"Oh, sure, no prob," she shrugged, laying aside her puzzle and coming over. "So...just... pick him up?"

"Yeah, here, let me help,"

It took a little effort, but between the two of them, they hoisted Sasuke to a position where Itachi could rummage through his pockets, finally finding an identification card with most of the information he needed to get the boy some medical aid.

While he filled out the form, the girl (who had introduced herself as Temari), read over his shoulder. "Bike accident, huh?" she asked.

Itachi turned to her, and she winked, pulling a Chinese star out of Sasuke's shoulder and returning it to its rightful owner. "Those can be pretty wicked. He should really wear a helmet."

On the fourth floor, in the hospital gift shop for those who didn't care enough to buy flowers before they came, and which also served a mean vanilla milkshake, Hanabi, Hinata's unfortunate little sister who had asked her father for money one too many times, was now working a part-time job (which probably violated some child labor law or another). She had been working for a month, and people who went to the hospital just to buy Konoha's best milkshake had become the bane of her existence.

Her latest flock of customers squeezed into the café area; a dark haired boy in a green spandex suit chatting with a pink-haired girl in a matching dress, a brunette with her hair in two buns whispering a joke to a shy young woman Hanabi knew very well, and a tall long-haired young man counting up his friends before turning to her.

"Five vanilla milkshakes, please," he smiled brightly, and somewhat sarcastically.

"I hate you, Neji," muttered the girl behind the counter.

"We're from out of town," Temari explained, "and, of course, just as soon as we get too far to turn back, my little brothers both get deadly ill. Well, Kankuro was the only who was really DEADLY ill, but my youngest needs... special attention, so I had to get them both out here fast. I told them not to eat at that White Castle."

Her new friend Itachi sighed. "Yeah, little brothers can be a pain in the butt." Sasuke, his forms finally complete to the nurses' satisfaction, had been carted away a few minutes before. They had assured his seemingly-concerned brother that he'd recover, but that didn't stop Itachi's evening plans from being ruined. "And this place is so deadly dull."

"Tell me about it. I've been here for five hours."

That moment, his eerie red eyes met her bright blue ones, and both turned, as if controlled by the same force, to the window, which overlooked an Applebee's across the street. Their eyes met once again, and, with no more communication that that, the pair of them strolled causally out the hospital door to share a Skillet Sensation, and possibly a couple margaritas.