Take It or Leave It
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. Kitties or not. This applies to all future chapters.
Major crack with a hint of something a little saner. Consider yourself warned.
O O O
"Oh, no." A single grocery bag slipped from Sakura's full hands. "Don't do this to me, sweet, merciful gods. I've been good to you. Haven't I?"
She groaned pitifully and bent to pick up the fallen bag, struggling with it before finally settling for holding it between her teeth. Forcing herself not to glance at the box of fucking kittens on her doorstep as she climbed the few steps, she somehow managed to pull the key out of her pocket with two fingers and slide it into the lock. She opened her door, stepped inside, tripped over said fucking box of kittens, and landed flat on her knees on the bread.
Her hands clenched on the tile of her entryway. "Breathe, Sakura. Just…breathe. The poor bastard that left orphan kittens on your porch didn't know this would happen." A thought struck her as she picked herself and the smashed bread up. "Unless it was Kakashi, and in that case, he's going down."
She left her front door open, key still in the lock, as she set the not-demolished groceries on the counter, brushing some hair back with an agitated hand. She plopped on the couch, groceries and kittens be damned, and stared out the open front door at the box on her porch.
"Right," she said, scowling. "Priorities. Most important: Feeding Sakura. Second most important: Bathing Sakura. Third most important: Making Sakura comfortable in her home away from her parents.
"Last most important: Helping orphan kittens."
And speak of the devil, a kitten popped up from the bunch, pretty silver eyes glinting in the afternoon light and blue fur sticking up at all odds and ends.
Sakura jumped up, an angry spark in her eyes, and picked up the kitten. It was surprisingly healthy for an orphan. "Did somebody dye you?" she asked in disbelief, surveying the kitten for any further injuries. "That's just…just mean! I can't believe someone would even…even…"
Another kitten crawled to hang over the edge of the cardboard box, silver paws clawing at the edges. Sakura picked that one up, too.
She set the blue one back into the box as she looked at this one. "Purple eyes. Pretty," she mumbled, playing for it's whiskers for a moment before it growled and tried to wriggle away. "I wonder if you're a girl…?" She flipped it over, to which it squealed at. "Oh, nope, definitely a boy."
As she set this one back in, she surveyed the others, crawling over each other and meowing and hissing and spitting.
She grimaced as she tugged the box inside and closed the door, the flare of a seal going unnoticed. "Wild bunch you are."
Once inside, she set the box on her coffee table and pulled each kitten out, one by one, groceries and squashed bread completely forgotten. "One blue one, male. One grey one, male. One black, male. One gold one, another male. One brown one, male again. One orange one—ooh, a Tabby Cat! I've always wanted one of them. Male also. And last but not least, one white one…that's really dirty." She frowned as she picked up this kitten, turning it over as it stared at her blankly. "What'd you do, roll half of yourself in mud?"
She gathered them up in her arms, sighed, and placed them carefully back in the box. "Was there a name left here or anything?" She checked the side, which only read "Good karma comes your way," printed neatly.
She rubbed a hand over her eyes. "Good karma. Yeah." She stood and walked to the kitchen, putting away the groceries as she kept a close watch on the kittens.
The blue kitten popped its head up again, followed closely by the dirty white kitten. The silver kitten overpowered both of them, placing a paw on each of their heads and…scowling? Was it scowling at her?
She sighed and threw away the empty bags. "I can't take care of you guys. I'm sorry, but…I barely have enough money for myself."
The blue kitten disappeared inside the box once more, and the silver kitten took its spot. It mewled hopefully.
Sakura's heart clenched. "Oh, don't do that to me."
It mewled again, and something caught her eye around its neck. She almost dropped the demolished bread. "Is that…a collar? Oh, thank you, gods. I now know that you exist."
She rushed over to him, picked him up, and inspected the medallion around him. It was draped over him loosely—like a human's necklace would fit a kitten. She pulled it up carefully.
"What the hell is this?" she asked nobody in particular, tracing the upside-triangle. It was inscribed in a circle and was quite heavy. Too heavy for a kitten, in fact, and she pulled it off of him as he glared at her.
She set it carefully on the coffee table. "Well. So much for having tags."
O O O
"Right," Sakura said, pulling the whole box of kittens into the bathroom. "Baths for all of you, and then off to the animal shelter you go."
She set two towels on the floor, filled the tub with shallow, warm water, and picked out the two dirtiest kittens.
"Mr. My-Previous-Owner-Dyed-Me-Blue," she said in disdain, pulling said kitten out and setting him beside the tub, "and Mr. I-Rolled-Half-of-Myself-in-Dirt. Please don't scratch me. You're both filthy. I know you hate water, but still."
With a deep breath, she sat on a stool in front of the bathtub and lowered each kitten into the water. They didn't even flinch, and the kittens left in the box meowed loudly.
Their front paws touched the water first. Then their tails. Then their back paws. The kittens behind her seemed to chant in mewls. Their feet touched the bottom of the tub, and…
There they sat, staring up at her with large, confused, silver and golden eyes.
Sakura leaned back. "That was…anticlimactic." She smiled sweetly and leaned forward to scratch the white kitten behind its ear. "But thank you for not scratching m—"
A loud pop, a quick brush of smoke across her vision, and two larger bodies filled her tub, gasping and slipping and sliding.
Something big and blue slipped and hit his head against the faucet, and then tripped the large white figure, which fell damn near on top of him, holding onto the sides of the tub for dear life as his knees bent and he sat on his shins.
After a moment of shock, Sakura realized that two fully grown, fully naked men were sitting squished together in her bathtub.
"I know this seems kind of awkward," the blue man—allow her to reiterate: blue—tried to explain, rubbing the back of his head and grimacing, "but we can explain."
Sakura immediately jumped into a defensive stance. "You—I…I recognize you, you bastard!"
The pale white man stood also, though shakily, and turned toward her. And when he did, the only thing Sakura noticed was that half of him was black. Or dark green. She couldn't really tell, because the niggling question of whether or not the color split went all the way down was fighting against her morality to just sneak a peek.
"Please be calm, miss," the black and white man said, stepping out of the bathtub. Sakura took an instinctive step back. "We mean you no harm."
"Who—what—you!" she said, shaking her head and pointing again to the blue man. "You're Hoshigako Kisame!"
"Hoshigaki Kisame," the blue man—Kisame—corrected, still rubbing the back of his head in vain. "And if you'll calm down, we can surely explain to you what's going on."
"You're damn right you're going to explain!" she yelled, cracking her knuckles. "Because otherwise I'm going to crush your face in!"
Kisame frowned. "You'd crush in the face of a kitty-cat?"
"You're not a fucking kitty-cat! You're…a shark…man…thing!"
He put up two placating hands. "Nevertheless, we were sent here."
"Not to inflict any corporal injuries on anyone, of course," the black and white man said, mirroring Kisame's pose, two hands raised in compliance. "This is a trial we must face, and we would greatly appreciate it if you would aid us."
Kisame glared down at his comrade. "We've been cursed, you mean," he murmured.
The dichromatic man nodded. "It's just as Kisame says. Our Leader cursed us."
Sakura blinked and furrowed her brow. "Did you…did your voice just change?"
"His name is Zetsu. He has a split personality," Kisame explained. "Now about this curse?"
Sakura eyed the two of them suspiciously. "Alright. Spill. And I might help you."
"It seems our leader wished to dispose of us," Zetsu said, his voice gentle again, completely belying the fact that he was naked and very toned and probably very, very dangerous. In fact, Sakura got a glance of menacingly sharp teeth as he spoke. "Or perhaps just punish us."
"He dropped us off in the middle of nowhere as newborn kittens, as insane as that sounds," Kisame went on, sitting down on the edge of the bathtub and draping a towel over his lap. Zetsu followed suit. "Some old woman found us and took us in for a while."
"We were…content," Zetsu said, cocking his head to the side slowly. "And she was content with the knowledge that we were, in reality, cursed men."
"But she didn't know how to lift the curse, and we were forced to live like we do now: only being able to be men when we're wet. And she…well, she eventually died."
"That husband of hers stuffed us all in a box and tossed us on a cart headed here," the more rugged voice rumbled. "We were helpless until the man in the cart gave us to a beggar outside the gates."
"The beggar tried to sell us," Kisame said casually, "but nobody would take us. So he left us at your doorstep."
Sakura groaned. "Why mine? Of all people…"
Kisame shrugged. "Why us? Why anybody? It's just the natural order of things."
"Oh, don't go giving me that 'natural order' bullshit," Sakura snapped, glowering down at the kittens still in the box. "And these guys? Are they cursed too, or are they just kittens?"
"They're cursed as well," Zetsu said.
Kisame scratched his ankle. "I suggest you meet them properly."
"You mean put them in water?"
Sakura turned around and picked up the orange kitten. It licked her finger.
"I wish you weren't so cute," she mumbled under her breath. She didn't bother to turn around as she spoke. "Kisame, how do you lift the curse?"
A meow came in answer.
When she turned around, Kisame was being smothered by the towel, and Zetsu began reverting to his kitten form.
"Oh, man," Sakura said, picking up both kittens and depositing them in the box. "Better get started."
O O O
She stood in the dim of the summer-dusk light, flip-flops on her feet, hose in hand, bathing suit snug around her body, hair tied up tightly.
She reached down one hand to crank on the faucet slowly.
All of the seven kittens flinched, sitting in a line against the fence.
Sakura bent on one knee. "One at a time, now." The hose spluttered and gurgled before spilling out a thin, slow stream of water.
One brave kitten crept carefully toward her, belly low to the ground.
Sakura smiled and held out a hand. "Come on, boy. That's it." He was the orange one—the cutest one. "I won't hurt you."
It stopped at her and licked the tip of her finger with that tiny, rough tongue.
Sakura's heart clenched in her chest again and she sat back on her legs. The kitten crawled to sit between her knees and stare up at her.
She slowly brought the hose over to trickle over its back, and it winced visibly.
And there it was: a poof, a small cloud of smoke, and—
There was a naked man in between her legs.
He smiled brightly, dark brown hair slightly dripping from the water. "Hi, I'm Tobi!"
Sakura had to stifle a scream when he reached forward and hugged her tightly, rocking back and forth. "Thank you, thank you, miss! You saved us! And I get to be Tobi again!"
"You're naked!" she screeched, scrambling away. "Don't hug me!"
"But you saved us!" Tobi yelled, and it broke off with a gasp when Sakura pushed him away with a bare foot—the sandal had fallen off—to his chest.
"I didn't do it voluntarily! Why would I save the Akatsuki? You're my enemy!"
But Tobi just kept on grinning, crawling toward her on hands and knees, bright face shining and laughing. "Still! Involuntarily or not, Tobi is free from being a kitten for a moment! And that's wonderful!"
He tackled her again, and Sakura made an agitated noise in the back of her throat. "Knock it off! I'm warning you, Tom!"
Reluctantly, he pulled away, sitting cross-legged with his hands in his lap.
Sakura swallowed. I will not look, will not—oh, too late. I will not stare, then. "Tobi is your name?"
He nodded enthusiastically.
Sakura grabbed the hose and draped it over her lap as she sat down, legs folded beneath her. "Okay. Fine. Now just…sit still while I put water on…" She grabbed the most readily available kitten—she grabbed the dark brown one with stitches, and it hissed when she dragged it into her lap without thinking. "…This guy."
She realized too late what she'd done as a puff of smoke and a pop followed after.
And there a tall—dear God was he tall—man straddled her lap, unamused, black hair hanging over green eyes set in black.
A thread tongue flicked out to lick the stitches at the corner of his mouth.
Sakura didn't even care, at this point. She sighed and counted to three mentally. "Okay. What's your name, since it's apparently Molest-Sakura-and-then-Introduce-Ourselves-Properly Day?"
His eyes narrowed. "Kakuzu," he deadpanned.
"Right. Well, Kakuzu, I'd say it's time for you to…ah…take a seat next to Tobi."
Kakuzu grabbed her by the string of her bathing suit strap tightly, pulling her closer to him and scowling. "I lost my goddamned wallet on this little fucking…adventure," he hissed, nose almost touching hers as he unfolded his legs to stretch on either side of her body and encase her tightly. "And I want it fucking back."
A brief flash of fear washed over Sakura, and then she pushed it aside and tried unsuccessfully to pull away from him. "Look." She peeled his fingers off of her strap one by one. "I'm helping you. I have no idea where your wallet is, and it's not my job to reimburse you for this. I'm not responsible for any of it."
He seemed to agree and realize that she could do nothing for him, because he slipped off of her and stood, which Sakura screeched at.
"Hey! Kakuzu! Get down!"
He glanced at her over his shoulder, still scowling.
"I have a five-foot fence! You've got to be at least six foot!" She pointed down with one finger. "Sit! I don't want my neighbors to see you!"
He scoffed and sat down on one of her lawn chairs.
A small pressure was felt on her thigh, and when she looked down, there was Kisame, all large silver eyes and pretty little kitty-smile.
She plucked him off. "Oh, no. You've had your turn."
He trudged over to where Tobi was, followed by Zetsu, and sat.
Sakura closed her eyes and groped around for a kitten, and the one she grabbed growled loudly and fluffed up around her hand, stiffening. When she opened them, she saw that she'd grabbed the silver kitten, and it was not happy.
She frowned and held it up before her. "Oh, calm down, will you?"
It scratched her thumb and she almost dropped it.
"You little fucker! That's going to itch like crazy tonight!"
Annoyed, she poured a trickle of water over its tail. Just like the last few times: a poof of smoke and a pop. And then a naked man with silver hair and pretty violet eyes was arching his back, baring his teeth. "Where's my fucking rosary?" he shouted.
Sakura scowled. "Hey! Don't talk to me like that; I saved you!"
"Bullshit!" it—he—snapped, still arched. "You stole my fucking rosary! I'll give you three fucking seconds to go and get it before I grind you into fucking dust and eat whatever's left!"
Sakura stood instantly, and the man climbed to his feet, breathing heavy and scowling.
"It's on the counter inside," she said slowly, hoping to soothe him instead of adding fuel to the already raging fire. "It's safe. I just thought it was hurting you."
He glanced at Kakuzu, who glanced at Sakura and then nodded.
The man calmed considerably. "Fine. Hidan."
"Hidan," he repeated—barked, rather, and Sakura found this slightly amusing. "My name. Are you fucking deaf and dumb?"
Sakura was very glad to see him walk over to sit beside Kakuzu.
Just as she sighed and composed herself, Tobi turned back into a kitten and ambled slowly over to her back porch.
She bent down to retrieve the last unnamed kitten: the golden one. It readily accepted the water and then smiled, nodding at her, when he grew to his human form.
If he had a hat, Sakura suspected he would tip it.
"Deidara. Thanks, yeah."
She frowned. "No problem."
She counted all of the men and kittens that sat before her, coming up with six. "Six? Wasn't there seven…?"
"Itachi left through a knothole," Deidara explained, pointing to said knothole in the far back fence. "All the same, you wouldn't want to meet him, yeah."
Sakura stared at the knothole for a minute. "Well. Good thing, then. I might be tempted to kill him."
Kakuzu laughed from his spot on the lawn chair before turning back into a kitten.
Slowly—one by one—the rest of the Akatsuki began reverting to kittens.
Deidara was the only one left standing, unabashed at his…open nudity.
Sakura closed her eyes and strode inside, one naked man and five kittens following gaily after her. "Lord, have mercy on my soul. Just this once." She returned Hidan's rosary to him in the process, wrapping it a few times around his neck so that it fit just right.
Deidara cleared his throat behind her. "We never got your name, yeah."
Sakura sat on the couch in the living room, and each kitten claimed appropriate spots around her feet and where she sat. Tobi jumped into her lap. Kakuzu settled on her right foot and Hidan on her left. Zetsu and Kisame flanked each side of her, while Deidara simply stood behind her, no doubt feeling slightly awkward, being naked and the only human male in the room.
She scratched Tobi's ear absently. "Sakura. And I can't believe this is happening."
Hidan rubbed his cheek against her bare toe, whiskers tickling her. She wondered if this was his form of…animalistic apology.
The scratch turned into long strokes down Tobi's back, and soon the Tabby Cat was purring.
Sakura leaned back and sighed. "Sometimes I hate how nice I am."
The presence behind her left quickly, and seconds later a gold kitten hopped onto the couch and settled in her lap beside Tobi, nuzzling against her stomach.
She wondered why the thought that she had six S-class criminals snuggling against her wasn't as troubling as it should have been.
She suspected the fact that they were now purring balls of fluff had something to do with it.