Disclaimer: If Naruto was mine... –rubs hands together- oh, the things I would do. Enjoy!


"So, Panther, how does it feel to know that you are weak?" the man in the black cloak hissed, kicking the one who lay prone at his feet. The Panther stirred feebly, coughing up blood.

"Oh, poor Panther, looks like he's injured," the other man sneered. "What do ya think, Kazu, should we finish him off?"

"Leave that to gravity, Hidan," the second man in the black cloak said carelessly. "We've got the money, let's get outa here."

Hidan grimaced. "But I wanted to have some fun with him!"

"Not now, Hidan," Kazu reprimanded. "You beat the Panther, our orders were to get the money and get away as fast as we could. Nothing about killing the Panther, much as I'd like to."

He grimaced at the prone, black-clad body. The Panther's hand slid to the chokoto he had dropped when Hidan had struck him with his sickle.


"Nope, but you're going down!" Hidan sniggered as he kicked the Panther hard in the ribs. With a silent gasp of pain, the Panther flew off the edge and disappeared. It was a long way down from the top of the skyscraper bank that Hidan and Kazu were standing on.

"Bye bye!" Hidan mock waved over the edge. Kazu grabbed him roughly.

"Come on!"




The Panther had too much momentum; he crashed right through the flat cement roof of the apartment building that lay below the bank. Through the roof…

His broken, battered, and bleeding body landed heavily on something soft. The roof had broken his freefall, he gazed up in a daze at the hole shaped like his body punched through the roof. Gray and cloudy sky stared back at him.

Then a scream, a moan of pain…and blessed darkness.


A cool cloth brushing his brow, an aching feeling…

There was a gasp as the Panther gripped the hand that was cooling off his brow. His dark eyes snapped open.

"Who are you?"

He found himself staring into the surprisingly deep depths of a girl's jade eyes. He was lying on a couch, still covered in blood from his battle. And then he realized…

She had taken his mask off.

"Lie still," she said firmly. "You've been injured."

He let her continue with what she was doing, releasing her wrist. He noticed that his fingers had left red welts on her skin.

"How did I get here?" he asked, trying to make sense of what had happened. Kazu… Kazu had gotten away…

The girl stared at him oddly. "You don't remember? You fell right through the ceiling into my apartment. Gave me quite a scare!" She nodded at the hole in the ceiling, which was currently covered with a piece of tarp. "It was going to rain, so I had to go up to the roof and lay down that tarp so we wouldn't get wet."

She got up and turned around, obviously leaving to fetch something. And then he noticed her hair: a bright shade of pink.


The Panther jumped and looked at the window, just as the girl turned around in surprise and nearly dropped her basin. Sitting in the window, soaking wet, but grinning, was a blond youth dressed in black and orange.

"Saw you falling, but I was tied up at the moment. Only just got free. Get it? But did you hear? Kisame got to your base – totally destroyed it! The Panther's Lair was going up in smoke when I dashed back there to check. Sorry, I knew I should have come and made sure you were OK, but after what that Hidan fellow said while he was tying me up, I thought I should go back to the Panther's Lair and salvage what I could," the boy babbled. "And…wow, you're looking pretty beat-up, Sasuke!"

"You IDIOT, Naruto!" Sasuke roared, getting off the couch. "I could have kept my cover! Erased her memories! And just now you came in and ruined it ALL!"

The pink-haired girl was looking from the black-haired, black-clothed man who she had just been treating, and the blonde kid wearing black and orange in her window.

"Well, SOR-RY, Mr. I'm-so-independent-I-don't-need-the-Ninetails-to-back-me-up-and-save-my-stuff-when-my-base-gets-blown-out," Naruto sniffed. The girl looked from one to the other, the puzzle being pieced together in her jade eyes.

"Wait a moment- you're…"

"Yeah, he's the BLACK PANTHER, dattebayo!" Naruto cheered, noticing her for the first time. Sasuke growled at him.

"You DOBE! Stop giving us away! Kuso, it's too late NOW!"

The girl looked again from Sasuke to Naruto. Sasuke wished she'd stop doing that.

"Oh my gosh…you're the Black Panther?! And you're" –she turned to Naruto- "the Ninetails?!"

Sasuke glared at her.

"Thanks, Naruto. Now a civilian knows who we are. AND you went and gave away our real names, too. Smart, dobe, REAL smart."

"Hark who's talking!" Naruto said indignantly. "YOU were the one who called me Naruto!"

"No, I didn't!"

"Yes, you did!"

"No, I didn't!"

"Yes, you did!"

"No, I did- AAARGH!"

Sasuke bent double, clutching the wound in his side. The girl was by him in an instant.

"Lie down and hold still, let me take a look." The wound was bad: it was bleeding right through Sasuke's bodysuit. The young woman looked up at Naruto.

"Does he have anything else he can change into?"

Naruto looked surprised. "Sure, I brought a few of his clothes…"

The girl nodded at a door. "Take him in there and get him changed. I need to be able to get at that wound."

Naruto looped an arm under Sasuke's shoulder and got him into the room the girl had pointed at. He shut the door, sending the two into darkness. This room had no windows.

"Come on, Sasuke, help me out," Naruto said, trying to help his friend. Between them, Sasuke struggled out of his Black Panther suit. Naruto looked around the room while Sasuke changed.

"Hey, nice bedroom, dattebayo!" He walked over to the dresser. "Look, she's got pictures of her friends! Hey, that one with short black hair is really cute!"

"Naruto, could you PLEASE stop talking in exclamation points for a minute and help me?" Sasuke grimaced through clenched teeth. He was shirtless, and that wound was looking pretty bad- it looked like glass had gotten stuck in it after Hidan had slashed him with the scythe and then kicked him out the window.

Sasuke and Naruto reemerged from the darkened bedroom to find that the girl who was their host was assembling a number of tools, the least of which were a pick and tweezers.

"OK, now get him to lie down," she said, as Naruto eased Sasuke onto the couch. The girl looked Sasuke right in the face.

"I'm a medical student, I know what I'm doing. Do you trust me?"

Sasuke nodded.

"OK, then, this is gonna hurt a bit," the girl warned. She bent over the slash in his side and winced.

"Ouch, what took a chunk out of you? There's glass stuck in it, too…it'll get dirty if I don't treat it right away."

"Then treat it, woman!" Sasuke bellowed, gripping Naruto's hand in a vise-like grip as the girl began to extract the glass from his wound.

The miniature operation took the upside of a full hour. Then the girl ran her hands over Sasuke's torso, checking to make sure that his fall hadn't broken any bones.

"Are you made of steel or something?" she asked, finishing her examination and washing her hands in the sink. "You didn't break a thing! The only problem was that wound!"

"Our Sasuke's tougher than iron!" Naruto boasted. Sasuke glared at him.

"I said SHUT UP, Naruto!"

The girl re-entered the room, wiping her hands on a kitchen towel. "Alright, you need to get some sleep. No, no, stay there," she said, as Sasuke made to get off the couch. "You don't need to move just yet. I'll be in the kitchen if you need me." She looked at Naruto, then left the room, tactfully shutting the door behind her. It was clear that she knew that they wanted some private time alone.

"Well, Naruto?" Sasuke demanded as soon as the door closed on the pink-haired girl's back. "Why did you give away the whole game??!!?!?!"

Naruto smiled ruefully and waved a hand. "Hey, hey, she looks trustworthy, right?"

Sasuke grabbed the front of his jacket, balling it into his fist. "That has NOTHING to do with it, you idiot!!!"

"Shouldn't you be worrying about your base?" Naruto said hastily as Sasuke's fist came upright. "I mean, they blew it away!"

"Who's 'they'?" Sasuke demanded. Naruto gulped, relieved to have gotten out of danger for the moment.

"Didn't you hear? There's been another villains' alliance! Hidan, Kazu, and Kisame are now all a part of this arch-villain organization called 'Akatsuki'. They were the ones who ordered the destruction of the Panther's Lair. Shouldn't we be worried about them, instead."

Sasuke considered. "Hnn. Maybe you're right."

Naruto yelped as Sasuke's fist connected with his face. He flew across the room, landing spread-eagled on the floor. His nose was rapidly turning red.

"Outh, that HURT, dattebayo!"

Sasuke wasn't listening. He went over to stand by the window, still shirtless. He was wearing black Russian-style pants that billowed and flowed around his body. His eyes narrowed. So the villains had formed yet another organization against him, had they?

"Does the White Fang know about this?" he demanded of Naruto, who was gingerly prodding his swollen nose. Naruto looked up in surprise.

"That'th the other thing." He winced as tears came to his eyes. "Ow, Thathkay, you pack a hard punth!"

"What about the White Fang?" Sasuke said, turning sharply from the window. Naruto winced again.

"He'th dead."

"DEAD?! Who killed him?"

Naruto closed up. Sasuke took a step closer to him.

"Naruto, who killed the White Fang?!?!"

"Itathi." Naruto's reply was quiet, and yet it rang around the small space.

"Itachi?" Sasuke repeated, even more softly. Naruto scrambled back against the wall.


"ITACHII!" Sasuke bellowed. With one motion, he hoisted the entire couch above his head!

The door opened and the pink haired girl stuck her head back in.

"What's going on in here?" She stopped at the sight of a shirtless Sasuke hoisting a couch above his head. "What are you doing with my furniture?" she asked suspiciously. Sasuke's rage cooled. He sheepishly lowered the couch back to where it belonged. The girl then noticed Naruto's nose.

"Oh my gosh! What happened to you?"

"He hit me," Naruto said ruefully. The girl shot Sasuke a meaningful glance before disappearing into the kitchen and reappearing with a bag of ice.

"This makes two superheroes I've treated today. Why on earth can't you be civil to each other?"

Naruto gratefully applied the home remedy to his nose. Sasuke crossed his arms and continued to stare out the window.

"Can we use your apartment?"

The question was so unexpected that the girl was taken aback. "Uh…I'm sorry?"

"Your apartment," Sasuke said impatiently. "It's got a good strategic position, being so high up in the building. You're also ideally located in Konoha City. Can we use it as a base?"

The girl was silent for a moment. Then she spoke. "You aren't going to erase my memories?"

Sasuke turned around and gestured at the gash in his side. "After this?"

Naruto smiled from the corner. "He juth wantth a perthonal healer, …"

"Oh, I'm Sakura!" the girl said cheerfully. "Sakura Haruno!"

"Well, then, Thakura," Naruto said, testing his nose, "Thathkay wantth you to keep your memorieth tho that if he needth a doctor, you're right here."

"Well, I AM a doctor-in-training," Sakura said cheerfully. "I'm not here all the time, I do have to go to classes and surgeries and stuff. I guess you can use it…but I'll need my private space."

"We'll only use this room," Sasuke assured her. "But it's going to look a LOT different when we're done with it."

"Only if you fix the roof first." Sakura stuck out a hand to confirm the deal. Sasuke smirked and took it.


"Wow," Sakura said, looking at both of them. "My life was simple up until today, and then the Black Panther fell through my ceiling! So I guess I'm boarding the Black Panther and the Ninetails, now."

"Call me Naruto," Naruto said, sticking out his hand. Sakura took it warmly. "That bastard over there's Sasuke-teme," Naruto said. "He's a little moody, but it's only to be expected of the Black Panther. Well, let's get started! What's for dinner?"

"Um…I was going to go out for dinner tonight," Sakura said nervously. Naruto perked up.

"Really? You have a boyfriend?"

"N-no. I don't, I just allow myself one meal at a restaurant a week. But showing up with two, well…good-looking guys in tow…"

Sakura was plainly embarrassed. Naruto winked at her.

"We could make it just you and me, and leave the teme here to mope on his own."

"No, Naruto," Sasuke said from over by the window, where he stood with his back turned to them and his arms crossed. "I need you to help me set up my stuff."

"Sorry, Sakura-chan," Naruto said, looking sadly at her. "It woulda been fun."

"Yeah, I guess…" Sakura looked relieved. "Well, I'll leave you guys to your work, get out of the way. There's instant ramen in the cupboard, if you want it." Naruto perked up. "I'll be back around 9:00 tonight."

"We'll be done by then," Sasuke said confidently. Naruto looked at him.

"Are you sure?"

Sasuke shot him a devilish glare. "Quite."

And that was how Sakura Haruno ended up with two superheroes, the Black Panther and the Ninetails, housed under her roof.