Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. This is a derivative fiction based on. Gekkou Shiori and Hitomaru are creations of mine, however.




Hokage Tower, Council Offices, 10:35 a.m.

The sun reflected brightly off of the glass-fronted portraits of the former Hokage's, sending shards of brilliant light right into Genma's eyes as he knelt gracefully on the floor. The Elders, Homura and Koharu had left him there, deferentially cooling his heels for the last ten minutes as they clucked together going over scrolls and preliminary reports from the previous nights attack. They'd summoned him -conveniently ignoring his current reassignment- and then ignored him once he arrived. It wasn't the first time they'd done this to him in the last nine years since he'd left the ANBU -and Genma was sure it wouldn't be the last- but today, with the morning he'd had…it was sorely testing his patience.

He was agitated for several reasons. The most minor being the growing itch on the back of his right calf that he couldn't do a damn thing about given his current position. He was starting to understand some of Raidou's pissy mood from earlier, as he was currently awaiting his audience with the Elders wearing full ANBU gear. Only his mask was tipped up, and he couldn't even take out a senbon to chew on and relax himself until they acknowledged him. Like it'd been for Raidou, it had been too long since Genma'd worn the uniform and he felt strangely exposed. It just felt…weird. He hadn't had his arms and shoulders bared in public for years, the habit of keeping his former affiliation covered was second nature. He wasn't used to it yet, and kneeling on the floor -for no damn good reason he could ascertain- in the unfamiliar garb was just irritating him.

Almost as much as this new assignment was.

Genma sighed silently and lowered his head more to block out the reflective glare from the glass drilling into his eyes. He didn't want to take over the Squad's. Not even for one day and he'd argued the temporary assignment with Shikaku bitterly. He could complain to the Jounin Commander in a way he'd never allow himself to gripe to the Council or Hokage, but despite all his protests Shikaku had still been implacable; Genma was the only one qualified enough, it had to be him, and so on and so forth. Genma thought it was a load of bullshit, Kakashi was just as qualified or even more so. Even that kohai of Yuugao and Kakashi's -the wood user…what's-his-face with the scary eyeballs that had become Naruto's babysitter- would be a better choice in Genma's no so esteemed opinion. But they hadn't asked him, so here he was. Stuck.

He flicked his eyes up briefly, trying to judge if he could get away with a quick scratch of his calf while they weren't looking, but he decided against it. The Elder's had sharper eyes then they let on and fidgeting now would just add another five minutes onto his waiting. He'd been at their beck and call for too long to expect any different. Those two loved the power trip of making anyone they summoned wait. Genma was just unfortunate that he still subscribed to the old manners and always knelt in their presence.

Ino used the old manners too on occasion he'd noticed from her interaction earlier with Shikaku. It had surprised him actually. He'd observed over the course of time that most of her generation treated their senpai's and leaders in a surprisingly casual manner. Especially Naruto. Sometimes the way the Kyuubi container spoke to Tsunade-sama made Genma very glad he wasn't Naruto's sensei. Because he definitely would have beaten some manners into the kid years ago if he was. How Kakashi had put up with it he'd never know.

At least the other younger kunoichi weren't as bad as Naruto and his buddies. In addition to Ino, he'd noticed the Hyuuga girl was excessively polite. Then again she was the type that looked like she'd bolt if you said 'Boo' to her. Sakura he just didn't care for all that much. She was a excellent medic, but he couldn't say he found that violent streak of hers appealing at all and he usually avoided dealing with her if at all possible. No, of the younger crowd -he hated that he even thought of them that way since they were all shinobi- he had to say the only one remotely pleasant for him to interact with, male or female, was Ino.

Which brought his thinking back to the last reason he was irritated. Ino. Not her personally, but the situation around them. He wasn't liking the fact that Aoba, who'd never been able to keep his mouth shut when it counted before, had dirt on him. He could only intimidate the other Tokubetsu Jounin so much, he'd known Aoba since they were in the Academy together after all, so Aoba knew he couldn't hold a grudge forever. Genma also didn't appreciate Aoba's automatic disbelief that Ino would date him. Or the hissy-fit Raidou was throwing about Ino's age. The age difference didn't bother Genma, if it had he'd have never gotten intimate with the blonde in the first place, but Raidou's comments were getting under his skin in a way he didn't like at all, and he found himself wishing not for the first time that morning that Raidou had just kept his fat trap shut. Not because he was embarrassed or ashamed about sleeping with Ino, but because it was none of anybody's fucking business. Sure, Genma slept around, everyone knew it, but they rarely knew who he did it with. He suspected the Kunoichi's traded enough info about him amongst themselves, but it rarely got out. Normally, he would care less if the gossips ferreted out anything about his exploits, mostly because he never did repeats, so what did it matter really?

With Ino it was different. He hadn't felt the usual need to move on immediately after they'd slept together. He'd liked waking up next to her, showering with her, and their lengthy goodbye at the door before they'd parted for the day. Make no mistake, Genma wasn't ready to dive head first back into the relationship thing yet…and parts of the previous night -like sharing with Ino about Shiori- had been downright uncomfortable for him, but the good parts outweighed the bad. He didn't know yet where he wanted this thing with Ino to go. He liked her and he knew he wanted more than one night, but he wasn't sure how much more. So Yamashiro Aoba: Master Rumor Spreader and Gossip, knowing about it, and Raidou, with his snarky comments about them dating all were rubbing him the wrong way. Especially since now, thanks to his annoying new assignment, she was technically his subordinate. Which automatically put her 'off limits' to him, and that would be the easiest excuse out for him to stop seeing her, but…he didn't really want to. And wasn't that just the biggest rub of all?

When a shadow suddenly blocked the glare from the sun, Genma glanced up to see who was standing there, hoping it would be one of the Elders so he could find out at last what the two wanted before he was late for his first Squad meeting. He tried to hide his frown of disappointment when it turned out to be just another ANBU shinobi.

"The latest intel, Elder-sama," Raidou said quietly and handed Homura a scroll.

Homura took the scroll and then nodded to where Genma was still kneeling in his patch of sun on the floor. "Wait there," he told him and then took the scroll back to the table where he and Koharu were ponderously going over the situation. Raidou knelt at Genma's side, mirroring his position, but left his tori mask lowered.

"Been waiting long?" Raidou murmured quietly, and Genma wasn't imagining he could hear that sarcastic tone in his friend's voice.

"Piss off," Genma muttered without moving his lips. Raidou chuckled softly behind his mask, those two words telling him all he needed to know about the other man's mood.

As Genma pointedly ignored Raidou, he started listening to what the Elders across the room were discussing. His attention was especially grabbed when he heard them quietly mention Ino several times. From what he could hear it seemed the Elders were more concerned about the fact that Ino had survived unscathed than being glad that she actually had. To top it off they also seemed displeased about something in the scroll that Raidou had brought them…it sounded like another of Ino's team who had thought to be missing or deceased had reported in, and that fact wasn't helping Ino's case in their eyes.

"Genma," Koharu addressed him at last. "We wanted you to know that we were the ones who recommended that you take over the ANBU Squad's in the interim," she told him. Sounding like she was conferring onto him the world's greatest favor. Genma hoped his expression was as neutral as he could make it since he was dying a little inside to hear it.

"Thank you, ma'am," he said quietly, trying not to grit his teeth. He could hear a strangled snort coming from behind the bird mask next to him and he whole-heartedly and devoutly hoped that Raidou choked on it.

"Yamanaka Ino, a new ANBU recruit, will be under your command now. Do you know her?" Homura asked him, folding his hands behind his back. Genma tensed subtly. Did they know? If they did and Genma found out that it was because of Aoba he was going to personally rip his tongue out and nail it to the nearest wall with senbon. Because if he thought Raidou was disapproving about him seeing Ino he could only imagine what the Elders would think. It was a hassle he didn't need given the newness of he and Ino's affair.

Genma nodded briskly. "Inoichi's daughter," he confirmed, "why?"

"Two members of Ibiki's Squad were unaccounted for last night. Sarugaku Tsuzumi and the Yamanaka girl. Sarugaku was scheduled off-duty, but Yamanaka was not. There are claims it was a scheduling mixup, but there is no accounting for her whereabouts," Koharu said. "When a patrol was sent to her residence she was not there, despite it being the middle of the night." Genma said nothing, praying that Raidou would hold his tongue as well.

"We summoned you because as the Yamanaka girl and her teammate Sarugaku will both be assigned to you we wanted you to be apprised of the situation," Homura said.

"Yes, sir," Genma replied, breathing an inward sigh of relief. It seemed Koharu on the other hand wasn't ready to let him off the hook just yet.

"As both of them are fairly recent transfers to Ibiki's personal team. I'd like you to keep an eye on them, Genma, -you too, Raidou- and let us know about any suspicious activity. Especially from the Yamanaka girl, as she is the one with no alibi for her whereabouts," Koharu ordered.

Genma cleared his throat quietly. "Does her teammate have one?" he asked them. Homura frowned and adjusted his glasses before picking up the scroll again.

"Just that he was off-duty. Home alone all night and reported to Tsunade-hime at the hospital less than an hour ago," Homura informed them.

"In what capacity are they to be watched?" Raidou asked. Homura cleared his throat uncomfortably.

"It's not an official request," Koharu answered quickly. "Just a favor to us...ne, Genma?" she said and then favored Genma with a small smile. He supposed she was trying to look grandmotherly when she did it, but Genma had never been fooled. He was full aware of what a crafty old broad she was. If he thought he was stuck before.

"You two may go."

Once the Elders dismissed them Raidou wasted no time laying into him once they were away from the Council's offices.

"Well, that was asking the fox to watch the henhouse," Raidou chuckled, tipping his mask up on his head. "You gonna do it?"

"Don't have much choice, do I?" Genma groused at him and popped a senbon back into his mouth to chew on furiously. Raidou fisted his hands on his hips and raised an eyebrow.

"Of course you do. March back in there and tell them you can't because spying on your girlfriend is unethical." Genma folded his arms over his chest defensively.

"She's not," Genma started, but Raidou throwing up his hands in exasperation cut him off.

"Fucking semantics! You were…are? Intimate with her," Raidou explained as if to a child. "You have intimate knowledge of her, and she is your subordinate now. I shouldn't have to explain this shit to you, you're the one who's so by-the-goddamn-book all the time. Not to mention what she'd probably do to your balls if she found out about it. Kunoichi can be vicious!"

Genma scowled, and before he could even reply to that little bomb of Raidou's, of course they were joined by probably the last person that Genma wanted to see that morning.

"I don't believe it! I'm seeing it with my own eyes and I still can't fucking believe it! Genma…you got screwed, my man!" Asuma bellowed as soon as he came around the curve of the hallway and saw them. He laughed loudly at Genma's grouchy expression and pounded him on the back of his vest, his lit cigarette dangling from his grinning lips. "Happy Fucking Birthday, right?" the bearded jounin laughed jovially. Raidou naturally joined right in.

"Better him than me," Raidou said smugly.

"You both suck," Genma informed them sourly.

Asuma punched him lightly in the arm, right on his ANBU tattoo. "'Once you're in, you're never out', huh Genma? Isn't that the rule? Why do you think I never joined that chicken outfit?"

"Because they wouldn't take you?" Genma asked sarcastically. Asuma flipped him off, but was still grinning broadly.

"Why're you so happy this morning?" Raidou asked, folding his arms over his broad chest. "I'd have thought with the news going around you'd be madder than hell…" Genma's scowl got darker as he glared at Raidou from the corner of his eye. Asuma shook his head as he took a drag from his cigarette.

"No, you guys must not have heard yet…Ino, my student, she's actually okay. I haven't seen her yet to kick her skinny little butt for scaring Chouji and Shikamaru like she did, but it turns out she wasn't on duty last night. Such a relief!" Asuma laughed. "I swear that girl just took another ten years off my life. Never take a Genin team, guys. Trust me on this one! If you do…don't get one with a girl on it."

Raidou smirked inwardly, Asuma had been just as worried, if not more so, the night before. He wasn't fooling anyone.

"That is good news," Raidou nodded sympathetically, "so where was she? I thought they sent someone to check her place?"

Asuma frowned a bit, "Huh…you're right. I have no idea, I'll have to ask her when I see her I guess," the bearded jounin shrugged. "I'm sure she's told someone when she checked in."

"I'm sure Genma knows," Raidou said, turning toward where Genma was standing with his fists in his pockets, trying to seem casual and unaffected. "He's the new boss, so Ino's under him now," Raidou grinned. Luckily Asuma seemed oblivious to Raidou's double entendre and Genma's rising anger. Asuma snapped his fingers.

"That's right, with Ibiki injured Ino gonna be cycled into the regular Squads. Hey man, do me a favor…look after her for me. She'd kill me if she heard me say this, but…" Asuma chuckled, scratching his beard. "I know she's a good kunoichi, but she's still just such a kid. Don't let her get herself hurt, okay? I wouldn't want to have to kick your ass for letting anything happen to my girl."

Genma tried to grin and look casual, but he was sure he looked more pained than anything else. "Sure," he managed to choke out between his clenched teeth.

Raidou, always helpful, draped his arm over Genma's shoulders and offered their younger friend a thumbs up. "Don't worry! I'll make sure the Captain here isn't too hard on her," he grinned. Asuma clapped Genma on the arm, none too gently. The man never did know his own strength and Genma tried not to flinch.

"Good deal! Thanks, my man!" Asuma tossed a wave over his shoulder as he left. Genma's calm expression fell away with Asuma's departure, but unfortunately for Raidou, he wasn't paying close enough attention.

Raidou just smirked as he leaned on Genma, his arm still slung companionably around his shoulder. "This shit just keeps getting better and better, doesn't it? I mean first the Council, now Asuma…if they had any idea what was really going on they'd shit their pants or have you strung up."

Genma grabbed Raidou by the front of the vest and before the taller shinobi could react, Genma spun him and slammed him back into the wall hard. His angry face in Raidou's startled one.

"You really need to cut this shit out now, Raidou," Genma hissed. "Because you are seriously starting to piss me off!"

Raidou's eyebrows went up. "That so?" He flicked his eyes down to where Genma had his forearm nearly across his windpipe, and then back up into the furious brown eyes only inches from his. "Look at yourself…what the fuck is wrong with you? I have never seen you lose your cool like this…let alone over a woman."

Genma dropped his eyes, but didn't let go of the taller man. "I know…" he sighed, the fight going out of him.

Raidou rolled his eyes. He knew he'd been being a jerk and foisting his rotten mood off onto his best friend, but now he had to say, after witnessing the emotional roller coaster Genma was on he was kinda feeling a little bad for how hard he'd been riding him about being involved with Ino. He didn't approve by a long shot, and he still thought Genma must be having some kind of bizarre mid-life crisis, but Genma was his best friend, and he wasn't such a douche that he wouldn't help his friend find a way out of the corner he'd gotten himself into.

"And I can't talk you into going back into that office and telling them you won't do their little 'favor', right?" Raidou sighed. Genma shook his head slowly.

"And tell 'em what? 'Sorry I can't watch the Yamanaka girl, unless while I'm screwing her counts'?" Genma scoffed. Raidou winced.

"You shouldn't be screwing her at all, you know," he chided, unable to help himself. Genma's fists tightened in his ANBU vest again.

"Please don't start that shit again. Especially about her age. That's your hangup, not mine," Genma said wearily.

"Yeah, yeah. Well. Fuck… Only one thing to do then," Raidou sighed. Genma looked up at him slowly. "You watch that Sarugaku guy. I'll keep an eye on Ino."

Genma just blinked at him and Raidou smirked. "What? You'd have figured out that loophole yourself if you didn't have your head shoved so far up your own ass. It was pretty fucking obvious."

"You…" Genma started, suddenly at a loss for words which rarely happened with him. Raidou was right, if he wasn't so blinded by worry and confusion over this thing with Ino, he'd have been able to see it. What was wrong with him today?

"…Are bailing your sorry ass out again. You're welcome. And you're gonna owe me," Raidou replied smugly and pushed Genma back. "Now come on, we're gonna be late."




Hokage Tower Roof, 11:09 a.m.

Ino tried not to drool as she watched Genma surreptitiously from behind her Saru mask. She knew it…she was totally right. He was the hottest thing she'd ever seen in his ANBU uniform. And even though she couldn't see his face behind the Usagi mask he was wearing, she'd know him anywhere from that casual hip-shot stance he always had. She knew his body, the shape and size of it intimately, even after only one night together. And she knew his chakra, like a pulse behind her eyes. He'd also done something with his hair, pulling the back part into a short ponytail, probably so he'd look different than he did in his regular uniform, since he couldn't wear his bandana hitae-ate with an ANBU uniform. Seeing that made her glad now that she'd taken the extra minute to change her own hairstyle as well, remembering his advice from the night before about sticking out and blending in.

No identifying marks, no corpse left behind. Those were the rules in the ANBU.

Genma turned away to speak with some other ANBU and Ino continued her private inventory of his body. Admiring the definition in his biceps that the sleeveless turtleneck showed off so well. And she had to be liking the fact that those ANBU pants were more form fitting than the general uniform pants were. They definitely flattered…everything.

"Stop staring..." Yuugao whispered in her ear as she sidled closer. Ino blushed that she'd been caught.

"I'm not staring," she whispered back defensively to the violet haired kunoichi at her side.

"…And drooling," Yuugao added quietly. Behind her mask, Ino's eyebrow twitched. How the…?

"How the hell can you tell I'm drooling?" Ino hissed.

"Because I'M staring and drooling," Yuugao chuckled under her breath as she watched Raidou where he stood a few feet apart from Genma with his arms folded over his chest.

Ino shook with the effort to not break into nervous giggles and appear unprofessional, but she couldn't help it and a few leaked out. Yuugao grabbed her hand briefly and squeezed reassuringly before letting go.

"You'll be fine," she told her quietly, "most of the time nothing even happens on patrol. If it does, the training takes over and your body will just react, I promise."

"Thanks, Senpai," Ino whispered. Yuugao had said exactly the right thing. Ino tipped her head slightly towards her older friend, while still keeping an eye on Genma as she waited for him to get started with the new temporary Squad Assignments.

"So, when are you going to confess to Raidou-senpai?" Ino asked her quietly.

"There's a perfect moment for everything, when that moment comes the perfect words will flow like an unstemmed tide…" Yuugao murmured poetically.


"When the very thought of doing it doesn't make me feel like I'm gonna upchuck," Yuugao translated. Ino chuckled.

"Nervous, much?"

"Oh, you have no idea…" the violet haired woman muttered.

"What is it that we're waiting for?" an impatient voice from Ino's left said as he moved up to stand next to her. Ino glanced over to see Neji in his tatsu mask, his arms folded over his chest. There were several bandages, white and bright on his arms. "Time spent standing around is time better spent training," he complained. Ino made a face that thankfully he couldn't see.

"Says the man just out of the hospital. Sheesh, Neji!" Ino murmured. The red and white tatsu mask turned slowly toward her and she realized her goof. "Tatsu-san, sorry…" she grumbled. Yuugao chuckled softly.

"S'okay, Ino-chan. It's just us here. Don't let Dragon-boy there intimidate you," Yuugao told her with a pat on the back. Neji just sniffed haughtily from behind his mask as he turned back to watch the proceedings or lack thereof.

"Are you okay? I mean…I heard you were injured last night too," Ino softly asked the long-haired shinobi next to her. Neji shifted his weight and relaxed his posture somewhat.

"Yeah, it wasn't that bad though. I got lucky. Tsunade-sama cleared me for duty. She said I could take a day off, but with all the teams being short handed I'd have just felt guilty," Neji told her. Ino nodded.

Ino wanted to ask him about what he'd seen the night before and what happened, but she didn't think now was the time or the place. There were more ANBU on the roof than she'd ever seen at once before. Many of the masks were unfamiliar, and Ino wondered if they were temporary replacements called back to duty like Raidou and Genma were. Ino looked around to see if she spotted silver hair -Sakura had told her once that her sensei had been a former ANBU- but if Kakashi was there the hair was covered.

"Think they recalled Kakashi-sensei?" Ino asked Yuugao quietly.

"Not a chance. Knowing him he got himself the first available mission to the farthest available destination rather than come back," she laughed. "I'm betting Genma's just wishing HE thought of that!"

Ino glanced back over toward the Captain and saw that Genma's usagi mask was facing her direction. She couldn't tell from where she was if he was looking at her, or Yuugao, or Neji, or any of the other ANBU clustered around them, but she straightened her shoulders a little anyway, feeling Shiori's kodachi shift on her back with the movement. She wouldn't disappoint him.

Behind his Usagi mask Genma sighed and wished again that the mask could accommodate him having a senbon between his lips. He pulled a small scroll from his back pouch and unrolled it. He'd stalled long enough, it was time to get the show on the road. He sensed Raidou stepping up even with him on his right, and then three other higher level ANBU that he'd spoken with while they were waiting on his left. Five teams were all they could scrape up on such short notice, almost half of what there were normally.

Without looking up he blandly read off the Squad assignments, sensing more than watching as the shinobi sorted themselves from a loose group in front of him, to ordered ranks before their Team Leaders. When he looked up again his eyes immediately picked out Ino and her goofy little topknot of blonde hair as she stood at attention behind Neji in Raidou's group. Genma was a body short in his group with just Yuugao and that huge bear of a teammate she had, Tamotsu. Consulting his scroll, it looked like Genma's missing man was Sarugaku Tsuzumi. Raidou was a man short as well, so Genma went ahead and dismissed the other three teams, sending them on their routine patrols.

Before he could consult with Raidou about whether they should consolidate their teams or what, two ANBU landed on the roof before him and kneeled deferentially. One wore an Ushi mask and had spiky hair of a rather indiscriminate ashy brown, and the other wore a Hebi mask and had longish dark blonde hair. Genma didn't immediately recognize either of them. That wasn't that unusual, considering how long he'd been out of the Squad's.

"Apologies for our tardiness, Taicho, Tsunade-sama just now cleared us for duty," the Ushi-masked one said politely. At Genma's nod the two rose and stood before him waiting for orders.

"Which one of you is Sarugaku?" Genma asked. The Ushi-masked shinobi took a step forward.

"I am, sir."

From the corner of his eye he could see it as Ino stiffened. Her body was too still and her head slowly turned toward the man in front of Genma and stayed there. He couldn't see her eyes behind her Monkey mask, but he could feel the intensity of Ino's stare. Sarugaku Tsuzumi was the man who was supposed to have been covering her shift. He could imagine Ino, under as much scrutiny as anyone could be short of being accused of wrong doing outright, was probably burning with questions for the man. Sorry, darlin'. You're gonna have to wait, he thought to himself.

"You're with us," he told Tsuzumi, indicating Yuugao, Tamotsu, and himself. The other Hebi masked shinobi silently went and took a place behind Ino.

"Right then," Raidou said, his voice hollow behind the green and white Tori mask. "We're gone."

When the other four had disappeared from the roof, Genma took stock of his group. Yuugao was staring off in the direction that Raidou had gone and he knew her much too well to not notice the tension and worry in her body. He understood her better than she thought after all they'd been through together as friends and he had a pretty good guess that seeing Raidou back in Black Ops had thrown her. He didn't need her distracted though and he reached out and rapped the forehead of her Cat mask briskly to focus her. Her head whipped around to face him and he could tell she was none too happy with him.

"Doubt him now and you never knew him at all," Genma told her bluntly.

After a moment she gave him a quick nod and Genma knew her head was back in the game. Which was exactly what he needed, she and Tamotsu on their toes. Genma was a pretty quick judge of character, and after two minutes and less than twenty words, he already knew he didn't like Sarugaku. There was something just…off about him. Which also made him glad that Raidou had suggested that he keep an eye on him, because for some reason he did not want to let the man anywhere near Ino. Call it a gut reaction, and likely a ridiculous one, but there it was. As Ino's alibi he knew as well as she did that she'd been nowhere near the Interrogation Room that night, which meant that if there really was a traitor, the odds were high that it was the man in the Ox mask. Ino's teammate.

Which meant Genma planned on keeping a very close eye on him indeed.





Yamashiro Aoba was feeling pretty good about himself and the day so far. Despite being in possession of what may very well be the hottest bit of gossip he'd gotten in ages, so far he'd managed to keep it to himself.

Well...the really juicy part of it anyway.

He actually kinda considered it a public service that he'd informed any and every-one who would hold still that Yamanaka Ino was in fact intact and not blown to itty bitty smithereens. He'd felt it was his civic duty, especially given that his taicho was out of the village on a mission, to spread the word of her not-death. Inoichi would be so pleased - if none the wiser - that his subordinate had also preserved his precious baby's reputation by not saying where she was, or with who. Might even be a raise in there for him somewhere if he played it right. Of course Aoba, being Aoba, conveniently and routinely forgot (or downright ignored) his previous hand in disseminating the untrue rumors about Ino and Ibiki. At the moment though, Aoba was all virtue and light as he made his way down the street toward the shopping district. He'd get lunch and pick up a new uniform shirt and then shove the receipt for it into that grouchy bastard Shiranui's locker.

Lucky fucker…the man gets a hot, young, piece of tail and then can't even have the good grace to let the rest of them speculate about it.

So absorbed was he in his thoughts that he never noticed the shinobi coming at him from behind at full speed until he was tackled. Air whoofed out of him as he and the body that collided with him went end over end three times before Aoba ended up on his back spread eagled. His sunglasses knocked off and he squinted up at the person straddling him, their hands holding his shoulders down. The midday sun was behind them outlining his attacker in a corona of light.

"Whu-?" Aoba started dazedly, wondering why he was flat on his back in the middle of the street.

"You've been holding out on me," Anko said, looming over him with a maniacal grin.

"What?" he puzzled again. Anko patted his cheek, though her pats were more akin to slaps.

"Snap out of it, Yamashiro. I didn't knock you too hard and addle your feeble little brains now did I?"

Aoba narrowed his eyes even more at her. "Oh, Ha. Ha," he quipped sarcastically. "Where are my glasses?" he grumbled, casting around for them, even as he was still spread eagled in the middle of the road. Ignoring the Snake Kunoichi who let go of his shoulders for a second, and then resettled herself right on top of his junk. Anko cleared her throat meaningfully and when he looked up she was twirling his sunglasses between her fingers.

"You have something to tell me?" she purred with a sly grin. Aoba grabbed for his sunglasses, but she held them out of reach. "Ne, Aoba-chan?" she teased.

"Yeah, get the hell off me," Aoba growled, grabbing for his shades again. Anko laughed throatily.

"That has to be the first time you've ever said that to me, Aoba-chaannn…" she taunted him. Dangling the sunglasses above his nose. Aoba blushed. "Now come on…isn't there something you want to share with your buddy? Some nice juicy tidbit that's just dying to come out?"

Aoba cleared his throat uncomfortably. "No," he choked out hesitantly. Trying to the ignore the fact that Anko sitting square on top of him was not going unremarked upon by certain parts of his anatomy. Way to not be suave, dumbass! he admonished himself. The sly sliver of teeth showing in her grin went devious as she held the earpiece of his shades between her teeth and squinted at him, tipping her head to the side.

"Sure about that? There's nothing I can do to get you to…spill?" Anko asked. His growing discomfiture told her whatever he was holding back was gonna be worth it. She shifted her weight, testing his increasing interest in where she was currently sitting. Lucky for her -or maybe she should feel sorry for him- he was so intent on looking her in the face, he was missing the fact that if he bothered to look down he'd be getting a pretty good eyeful right up her skirt. Oh well, it wasn't like she hung around with Aoba for his brains. Good thing she found the Special Jounin so entertaining, and from what she could gather from what was developing underneath her she might have other uses for the older shinobi too.

"Well? Not gonna tell me?" she pouted. Aoba's eyes shifted around nervously and he cleared his throat again.

"I'm not gonna tell you anything in the middle of the damn road with half the Village watching!" Aoba hissed.

Anko looked up and around to see that the two of them had drawn quite a crowd. About fifteen Civilians and a couple of Shinobi stood around them in a loose semi-circle. Anko scowled.

"WHAT?" she demanded loudly. "This is a private conversation, if. You. Don't. Mind." Anko pulled her legs up and rested her elbows on her knees, still sitting square on top of her prone source of juicy gossip. This time Aoba did glance down to see everything Anko did (and didn't) wear under the miniskirt and promptly got a nosebleed. Anko patted/slapped him again briefly. "Hang in there, Yamashiro…ain't done with ya yet."

Aoba just moaned weakly as he nearly passed out from blood loss. In fact he wasn't even sure there should be enough blood in his head to support a nosebleed. He didn't know whether to thank the Gods or curse them that Anko didn't sit like a lady. Thankfully for Aoba's continued health and sanity, Anko finally stood up and started making shooing gestures at the assembled crowd.

"Go on! Go back to your business! Nothing to see here! Move along!" Most of the Villagers moved off, chuckling or shaking their heads at the antics of crazy shinobi. One person stood fast and Anko leaned over slightly to glare into the deep brown eyes of a certain Sarutobi, hands fisted on her slim hips. "I said beat it, Brat!" Anko scowled.

"I don't hafta! You ain't the boss of me, Granny! It's a free road!" Konohamaru yelled back. Not intimidated by her in the least. How adorable! His overconfidence reminded her why she loved her job. Anko smiled predatorily and caught his chin between her fingers. "Well, aren't you just a cutie. Asuma's nephew, right? How old are you now? You going to be entering the next Chuunin exam, cutie pie?"

"Fourteen," Konohamaru said, jerking his face back from Anko's hold. "And I'm not just entering the exam…I'm gonna pass it! Just you wait!" he boasted. Anko rested her hands on her thighs as she leaned over. Konohamaru hadn't hit his growth spurt yet, so he was still on the short and slender side for his age, but Anko was well aware of his lineage. The kid was gonna be tall, handsome, and built. Just like his Uncle and late Father. She grinned at him, her eyes squinted almost shut.

"That's just the most precious thing I've heard today. HowEVER…you gotta pass my test to even make it to the finals. You think you're crafty enough to handle my Forest?"

Konohamaru thumbed his chest bravely. "Ha! I can handle anything you could possibly throw at me! I'm Uzumaki Naruto's rival! And I'm gonna-" he started. Anko rolled her eyes.

"-Be Hokage someday, yeah yeah," Anko finished for him. "Heard it all before, Kid, and from somebody blonder than you. Now scram," Anko dismissed with a negligent flick of her fingers. She turned back to where a shaky and bloody-nosed Aoba was just picking his stunned self up from the dirt, so she missed the thunderous scowl Konohamaru gave her for dismissing him so lightly.

"Kage Bushin no jutsu!"

Before Konohamaru could decide on a course of action however, Anko flickered and appeared behind him. Grabbing both Konohamaru and his clone by the scruffs of the neck she brought their heads together with a resounding smack. Poofing the clone and leaving Konohamaru clutching his head where a substantial knot was forming on his forehead.

"Better not be bringing that weak shit to my exam, Kid. Byyyeeee!" she tossed with casual wave over her shoulder.

She collected Aoba from where he was dazedly cleaning up the last of his nosebleed onto a white handkerchief from his pocket. Anko looped her arm through his and pulled him along with her as she headed up the street, her eyes curved happily as she hummed to herself. What a fun day this was turning out to be.

Aoba looked over his shoulder briefly to check on Konohamaru, who still stood in the road shaking his fist after them and yelling something about crazy adults. "Why…" Aoba started, not even sure what or why he was bothering to ask.

"Terrorizing them is the freaking high point of any day!" Anko said cheerily. "So you wanna buy me some lunch? Or just skip straight to it?"

Aoba gulped. Sorry that he'd lost his shades since he was certain his eyes must be bulging. Anko glanced up and then fished his shades from the pocket of her trench and handed them to him. He felt a lot less naked once he'd slipped them back onto his face. "Straight to…what?" he managed, the 'what' coming out as more of a squeak than he'd like.

She steered him toward a nearby restaurant that served Yakitori. Aoba wasn't surprised, Anko seemed to prefer all her food served on a skewer. She ignored him until after she'd ordered -for both of them he noticed- and then turned and looked at him expectantly when the cashier gave them their total. Aoba sighed inwardly and took out his wallet to pay.

"Well, you know you're gonna tell me what's going on. You know it. I know it. I was just thinking we could get nourishment before we get naked and freaky," Anko stated bluntly, and loudly.

Aoba about choked on his spit as he dropped his wallet. Coins bounced over the tops of his sandals and he muttered apologies in the direction of the cashier and other patrons in line behind them. Anko just grinned in that slightly deranged way she had and turned to the Yakitori Cashier who just raised an eyebrow at her.

"We'll take it 'To Go'."




Thanks as always for reading, and an extra 'OMG THANK YOU!' to those of you who take the time to give me feedback and encouragement in the form of reviews. And a special acknowledgement to my primary motivator and huge Raidou (well, and Aoba too) fangirl, DW3Girl. Thanks for always listening to my plot rambles. ^_^