I'm back from the dead!

Well, not really but it sure may seem like it to y'all.

I'm determined to finish this fic, and all my fics for that matter, but my muse is not cooperating.

Soon I'm going to have to resort to either bribery or blackmail to end my bout of writer's block.

'cause asking my muse nicely hasn't worked so far.


Also I want to give a special thanks to:





These guys reminded me that there were readers out there that were waiting for an update.

This then prompted me to read all the reviews y'all were awesome enough to keep dropping.

Lol, it made me feel guilty about my laziness and got my procrastinating arse to write.

Thanks guys!

Love is much like a wild rose, beautiful and calm, but willing to draw blood in its defense.

Mark A. Overby


Sakura trudged wearily up her walkway, absentmindedly searching her pockets for her house key as she did so, without any luck whatsoever so far. Where the hell did I put the damn thing? She'd already emptied out six freaking pockets on her vest, and been startled at just how much random, useless junk she'd unknowingly kept stored. Sheesh, why the hell do I even have a mini-slinky on me?

Honestly, at times she was thoroughly convinced that her pockets were somehow connected to black holes. Selective black holes that swallowed up important items such as, oh say, her freaking MIA house key while eagerly coughing up all matter of worthless crap, like the stupid mini-slinky with mysterious origins. Where had the damn thing come from anyway? She certainly had no memory of ever buying the thing, much less putting it in one of her pockets.

She supposed it was just something to ponder some other day. She was just too damn tired to care much about anything right now, longing to collapse on her comfy couch and sleep for at least three days. Her bed was more ideal, but she seriously doubted she could make it that far in her current condition.

This past week had been hell.

And that was saying something considering she'd already thought her job was pretty damn hellish. But this past week, between the preparations for the daimyo's upcoming arrival, her ever-mounting hospital duties, and the village's war preparations she'd found herself stretched so thin she seriously thought she would internally combust from all the stress and sleep deprivation.

And that wasn't taking into consideration the extra work she was doing for Suna. Her mind drifted back to the last conversation she'd had with Gaara before he'd returned to his village…


Puzzled jade eyes stared at her across the small café table in question. "The poisonings weren't intentional?" There was an element of disbelief in his tone, as if unable to grasp her reasoning.

She nodded, her eyes glazing over in thought. "The samples you sent all had the same organic base with only small variations in the overall composition, which makes me think they all originate from the same source." Sakura paused and took a small sip of her espresso, thinking of how best to word the situation.

"The poison is relatively nonreactive against most elements and chemicals but has very weak, soluble bonds. All known cases of poisonings have been taking place around oasis settlements, right?" Gaara nodded, the puzzlement in his eyes fading as he began to understand.

"As I said, the poison is relatively nonreactive, benign really if left isolated. But its properties change when it bonds with water, making it into a type of biocide that attacks the nervous system and gradually liquefies the body. It's…an extremely painful process."

"It sounds like an effective weapon. Are you absolutely sure the attacks weren't intentional?" The kazekage's face was stone, his full attention on the medic seated before him.

"I'm fairly confident, mainly because of their choice of location." His eyes narrowed, nonverbally prodding her to go on. "Of all possible places, these poisonings are happening in Suna, the place where their poison is the most ineffective due to the lack of liquid water."

"That's why I'm more inclined to believe that the poisoning are not attacks, but rather experimentation sites gone awry." She cradled her espresso in her hands, studying the redhead's reaction.

Gaara's eyes were closed off, hiding his thoughts as he contemplated her words. After a few moments, jade immediately sharpened as it pinned emerald. "That doesn't make the source any less dangerous."

Sakura nodded in agreement. "But that isn't all Gaara," she paused, hesitant to continue. "While breaking down the components of the poison's organic base I found that, sequentially, the strands are a perfect match for…Mamoru."


Of course Gaara had then promptly overreacted, wanting to hunt down poor Mamoru to demand an explanation. As if her little darling even knew what the hell was going on! Gaara was lucky she was fond of him, otherwise she'd have castrated him for daring to threaten Mamoru.

Still, the situation did require answers. If Suna, Konoha's strongest ally, was facing a threat, then Konoha had to be ready to come to their aid.

The pinkette fought the urge to snarl in frustration. It sometimes felt like the whole damn universe was conspiring against them. If the sand village was indeed being invaded by an enemy, then Konoha was going to be forced to fight two wars simultaneously while treating warriors from the other ongoing wars as well.

And since she had the fucktastically grand luck of being the Godaime's apprentice, she was going to be one of the people bearing the brunt of the strain.

Sakura roughly shook her head, forcibly dispelling the self-pitying thoughts. Where the hell did she get off complaining about her workload? She should be proud that she was trusted with so much; proud that she could make things easier on her seriously overworked shishou.

She sighed. Man, if she was getting this emo then she was in dire need of some shut-eye.

Since her house key was still pulling its Houdini act, and since she was already at her front door, the kunoichi decided that she would just knock the blasted thing down. She'd fix it tomorrow or, more likely, threaten Yamato to; she was in no mood to continue searching for her elusive key.

Just as she gripped the edges of the door to pull the whole damn thing off, however, a cheerful silver-haired male popped his head out the door, scaring the crap out of Sakura. "Nee-chan!!! You're finally home!" The overjoyed male enveloped the hyperventilating female in a bone-crushing bear hug.

"I've been waiting all day for you! Are you hungry? Nii-san said we are going out for dinner later but I can make you something now if you want. We don't have tofu though, so I wouldn't be able to make miso soup. But if you really want miso I can always make a quick run to the grocery store. Or would you like me to draw a bath for you? I picked up a jar of those lavender bath salts you like earlier today. Oh, I know! Do you want to play a game? I've gotten better at shogi, Nara-san said so!" This was all said in one continuous breath, making Sakura, who had by now managed to get her heart rate back to normal, worry that the excited male would pass out from lack of oxygen.

Still in Mamoru's arms, she patted his head in an effort to calm him and wondered which of his barrage of questions to address first. "All I really want to do is sleep right now sweetie, we can play a game after we go to dinner with Yamato if you want to."

The tall male immediately frowned in concern, intensely scrutinizing Sakura's worn features. Then, with a small nod to himself, proceeded to carry her to her bedroom. The pinkette didn't even attempt to protest the manhandling, he was actually doing her a favor because there was no way she would have been able to drag herself to bed otherwise.

As they passed Yamato's room, the absence of the anbu finally registered in her mind. She wondered where the brunette was since she knew he was off-duty for the day and the man was more inclined to lounge about the house than do anything productive in his free time. "Do you know where Yamato is?"

Mamoru gave a slight shrug, "Nii-san just mumbled something about pest control and left with Hyuuga-san a couple hours ago."

Pest control? Pink brows furrowed in confusion for a moment before Sakura decided the matter was just not worth pondering at the moment, sleep was a much more pressing priority. "Wake me when he gets back okay Mamoru-kun? I want to take a shower before we head out."

The nin gave a quick nod as he tucked her in, "Sure thing Nee-chan!" The response, however, met deaf ears. The kunoichi had passed out the moment her head touched her pillow.


"They have balls, I'll give the bastards that," dark brown eyes burned furiously. "I can't believe they tried to strong arm the council into putting her back on their team."

Neji gave a contemptuous snort, "Apparently being a member of team seven is synonymous with being a god to their overinflated egos."

"Apparently. It's unfortunate that the council shares their opinion, anyone else who'd attempt this shit would find themselves doing D rank missions for at least the next decade."

"The council may share their opinion," the Hyuuga conceded, "but the Godaime doesn't and she's the only one who can grant their request." His mouth twisted into a nasty smirk, "And something tells me she's not exactly inclined to do so."

Yamato let out a bark of laughter. "That's an understatement. Tsunade-sama is so possessive of her apprentices it borderlines obsession, there's no way in hell she'd ever give one of them up to a team."

It was true; the blonde kunoichi fiercely guarded her two students, resembling an overprotective mother bear even during her more docile moments. Anything or anyone who even attempted to hurt them or to take them away from her had nothing short of a death wish, they were her surrogate daughters and anyone foolish enough to disregard how much they meant to the Godaime was in for a very rude awakening.

Silver eyes lit in anticipation, "It will be…interesting to see how this meeting will play out."

His companion's lips quirked into a wry grin, "Hmm, not exactly how I would have worded it. The meeting will be a bloodbath, you know that Hyuuga."

Neji slid his eyes towards the tree-user, "As I said, interesting."

The older nin shook his head in amusement, "Didn't take you as a sadist Hyuuga, you hide your streak well. Though," his lips took on a cruel edge, "in this case I can't say that I blame you."

Said shinobi gave a noncommittal hum, neither agreeing nor disagreeing with the assessment of his character. "Who else will be at the meeting?"

"Besides us? Team seven, some of the senior council members, and the Godaime will of course be there. I think Nara and Shizune-san will also be there since they're the ones, other than us, who usually work with her."

"I wonder what they're thinking," Neji murmured, eyes narrowing slightly in contemplation. "Why the sudden urge to have Sakura on team seven."

Yamato knew the urge was anything but sudden, but the vow of secrecy he'd been forced to take by Sakura about how much pain team seven's past actions had caused her limited how much he could reveal, much to his displeasure. There was nothing he'd rather do than tell the others how badly those bastards had hurt Sakura, but the kunoichi was dead set against it, not wanting to seem weak and not wanting their peers to form any sort of negative bias towards people who were, by several counts, heroes for Konoha.

So he only gave a slight shrug, "Maybe they're feeling nostalgic?"

"Maybe, but Sakura was only a member of team seven for a year back when she was genin. That's only about a seventh of the length of team seven's existence, and the time is even shorter in the Uchiha's case. Most people have even forgotten that Sakura was ever a part of team seven." His eyes narrowed further in thought, "The short time she spent with them makes their actions odd."

"Personally, I'm leaning more towards irrational." The older brunette gave a careless shrug, "But odd works too." Any response Neji might have made was cut off as they reached the entrance to the Hokage's office.

"Here we go," Yamato muttered under his breath, wondering just what madness they were about to enter. His companion mutely nodded, understanding the older nin's unspoken thoughts.

They felt the tension as soon as they stepped foot in the room.

The occupants maintained deceptively relaxed stances, but the aggressive energy emanating from them thickened the air like a volatile sludge, ready to erupt into violence at the slightest provocation. The Godaime lounged behind her desk, Shizune firmly planted on her right, both women nonverbally daring anyone to challenge their authority. Near them, as if acting as a sentinel, Shikamaru casually slouched against the wall while keeping a steady gaze on team seven and the council members through hooded eyes.

Wrapping their inflated sense of importance around them like protective cloaks to hide their unease, the council members sat haughtily before the Godaime, their close grouping suggesting their courage stemmed solely from their numbers. Team seven was fanned out behind the members, each in a various state of lounging on different sections of the back wall; the males unflinchingly met eyes of the Godaime, taking her nonverbal dare head on.

All in all, the scene more closely resembled a standoff between warring parties than a team assignation meeting. Though, in retrospect, it really wasn't that surprising considering just who was at the meeting and who the meeting was for.

Snapping her eyes to the two recently arrived nins, Tsunade briskly motioned them to find a spot and started the meeting. "Since everyone's here, we might as well get this over with." She leaned forward in her seat, steepling her fingers contemplatively, "Though I have to admit that I'm curious to hear why a team of highly capable nin would suddenly decide that they need a medic after six years of functioning perfectly well without one, especially since you already have the maximum number of nins recommended for a cell." A blonde brow arched, tawny eyes clearly demanding an explanation.

"We've actually been wanting a medic for a long time Lady Hokage," Kakashi calmly meet her gaze, no sign of deceit in his tone. "Besides Naruto, none of our bodies have accelerated healing capabilities and all of our healing knowledge is elementary at best." He gave a lazy, nonchalant shrug, "The only reason we haven't requested a medic before this is due to our absence from Konoha."

Neji had to forcibly restrain from snorting at his not so subtle reminder of team seven's accomplishments for Konoha. Of course they would play that card, arrogant bastards.

"Your team didn't seem to be handicapped by the absence of a medic while hunting down S-class missing nin," Shizune remarked, "And plenty of squads manage to function well without a full-fledged medic."

Kakashi, seemingly the designated spokesperson for team seven, hummed noncommittally. "True, but those squads always have someone proficient in healing." The implied 'moron' made Shizune bristle in indignation. "We also had a harder time tracking our targets during our absence because of delays in finding medics to heal the worst of our injuries and too many brushes with death for comfort. We feel a medic would make things go more smoothly."

The words were not rudely spoken, but still managed to suggest to the room that the medics present should have already made that deduction. Yamato inwardly raised a brow at their nerve; it took either considerable arrogance or considerable idiocy to even subtly insult members of Konoha's trifecta. They have even bigger balls than I thought.

As Tsunade's brow furrowed slightly in irritation, and beads of perspiration started appearing on the brows of the council members, Yamato settled himself more comfortably against the wall with a small smirk on his lips. He couldn't wait to see how this played out.


Hmm, I have a question for all of you.

I'm kinda on the fence about Kenji right now.

I'm not sure whether I want to make him a significant player in Sakura's romance life or not.

What do y'all think?

Until next time…