Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. That copyright belongs to Masashi Kishimoto.

Warning: The following story contains crack! content (including, but not limited to, potential OOCness, gargantuanly monolithic hyperboles, Old Yeller references (so I hope you've seen it; if not, then you suck), and errant insects (that's insects, not incest---this is not that kind of crack fic!)) that may not be appreciated by some readers. Reader discretion is advised.

It was a dark day in Konoha. The tension and malice was palpable. With every shinobi on edge---weapons and scrolls at the ready, hands poised to execute rapid seals---the ambience was nearly suffocating in its intensity.

Only the low rumble of whispers could be heard disrupting the cloak of silence; even the birds seemed tense, with not a tweet nor a twitter to fill the quiet skies.

"I think it's about to begin," one shinobi whispered to another.

"Kami-sama help us all," another answered, as he steeled himself for one of the most trying experiences of his life.


Ah, yes. It was none other than Konoha's most unpredictable and hyperactive ninja, Uzumaki Naruto. And he was voicing the indignation that most of his fellow Leaf-nin were feeling and muttering about quietly.

"Naruto! You moron! Shut! Up!"

There was a resounding thud which was closely followed by a screechy "Owww! Sakura-chan! That hurt, dattebayo!"

Yes, there was his female team-mate, Haruno Sakura, ever at the ready to deal the appropriate punishment that he seemed to be begging for every time he molested the hearing of those around him with his far too loud, far too inane shouting.

"But Sakura-chan! This is stupid! I don't need to see a seismologist!" Naruto whined, rubbing his tender noggin.

"It's psychologist, not seismologist, baka! And Tsunade-shishou is having us see one to assess our suitability for high-risk, high-stress missions." She gave her blonde companion a warning glare. "And we will all comply, without protest, with what Tsunade-shishou says."

The teen boy huffed. "But we're chuunin! The distribution of missions clearly states that we can take on B- and C-ranks if they're available! And those aren't even the highest level missions! What's the deal?!"

Sakura tried valiantly to ignore the little voice in her head that screamed, "Throw him through the wall!" Such behaviour would not do right before going in for a psych evaluation. Maybe after…

"Naruto," she began slowly, making it as easy as possible for the 'special little boy' that Naruto was to understand what she was saying. "First off, I am a chuunin. You are still a genin."

Naruto scowled, but said nothing.

"And secondly," she continued, "rank, for the most part, measures skill and battle tactics. One's psychological status is not a part of the exams for passing to the next level. And even if they were, one's mental status at the time of promotion will not necessarily be the same as it is after one has been on missions of higher rank. Different experiences breed different psychological states. That is why Tsunade-shishou is instituting a yearly psych evaluation for all nin. So there are no loose canons, so to speak. One off-his-rocker shinobi could wind up destroying relations with other hidden villages, or get a lot of our own shinobi killed. Hopefully, this is going to prevent such from occurring."

Naruto, having tuned out most of what Sakura had said after "for the most part," just nodded his head sagely, every pretence of comprehension in full display.

Sakura simply stared blankly at him for a few seconds and sighed in defeat. She knew that action. He hadn't listened to a word she said. Typical male.

"Still," Naruto mumbled. "I don't think anyone's really too happy about this." He glanced around, eying the on-edge shinobi as they muttered amongst themselves. "You'd think we were on the brink of war, or something."

"Well, it will all be over soon enough," Sakura answered lightly. It wasn't as though she wanted to be evaluated by a shrink. Goodness knew she had certain circumstances (read: crazy inner being who likes to suggest a lot of violent and inappropriate actions) that made her slightly uncomfortable with the idea of someone trying to get in her head (it was rather occupied, as it were).

"Hey! I think that's Kiba! Looks like he's first, dattebayo," Naruto said, pointing at the Inuzuka as he and his trusty companion, Akamaru, made their way into the building of doom.

When Kiba entered the office, he was struck with the nearly overpowering odour (for Kiba's uber-sensitive nose) of cologne and garlic sausage.

So the shrink likes stinky foods and tries to cover it up with equally stinky man-perfume. Joy.

The genius of the Inuzuka clan was none-too thrilled over his situation. It was bad enough having to talk to some stranger about, ugh, feelings, but to add in the smell he was pretty much tasting, it was so strong to him, Kiba's day was not looking up.

"Welcome, Kiba, is it?" the psychologist asked, cordially, a smile mushing his gaunt face into something almostfriendly. Almost.

The dynamic duo of mutt and master (though it wasn't always clear as to who was which) gave a collective internal shudder as they readied themselves for whatever terrors lay before them.

Not ten minutes into their session, and already there were wounds being ripped open again, as well as new ones being cut in deep.

"It's not even like that! Akamaru! That's not what it's about! I swear!"


"You don't even know! I can't believe you think that of me!"

"Arf! Arf! Arf, woof."

"Well, I don't know! Maybe a little thing called trust! We've been together since you were born, for crying out loud! You're like my brother; a second part of me! Why would I want to get rid of you?!"

Oh boy. Did the doctor stumble onto a tender spot, or what? The shinobi and his dog were in the midst of a heated argument over a very sensitive topic, one that could potentially destroy their relationship forever. It was time for Dr. Katsura Seishi to jump into the fray and mediate this thing.

"Now, now. Let's just take a step back here," the doctor said calmly, eying both human and canine with a level gaze. Once he was certain he had their attention, albeit interspersed with a few quick glares at each other, the shrink continued. "I believe this situation would be helped if you could explain to me what this disagreement is about. Unfortunately, I do not understand your language, Akamaru, but I trust that Kiba can translate and explain things on your behalf?"

Both patients gave an affirmative before the doctor turned to Kiba and said, "Now, if you would please explain the disagreement to me. And do try to leave your personal views on it out. I need it to be as unbiased as possible, to be fair to Akamaru."

The dog boy nodded and began. "Me and Akamaru have been having this…disagreement for a while now. It started when he overheard me tellin' Hinata-chan what my favourite movie was."

"And how was that cause for animosity between the two of you?" the doctor asked, jotting notes.

Kiba hesitated, casting shifty eyes about the spotless office.

"Grrr arf!" said Akamaru, staring hard at his master.

The addressed teen gave a resigned sigh and answered, "My favourite movie is Old Yeller." He quickly cast his eyes to Akamaru, who swiftly turned his head up and away, supposedly in indignation. Kiba winced and looked back at the psychologist with a furrowed brow.

Dr. Katsura looked back and forth between the two feuding friends, at a loss. A favourite movie was a strange thing to fight over so viciously. "Ah, Akamaru?" The dog turned his head to eye the doctor, while studiously avoiding locking gazes with his master. "How do you feel about Kiba's choice for his favourite film?"

The large animal seemed to give the doctor a double take, accompanied with a look that screamed, "Are you for real?!" In response, Akamaru said, "ARF! Arf arf, grrr… Woof."

The shrink turned back to his human patient, eyebrow cocked. "Kiba, please translate."

Kiba gave a sigh and ran a hand through his messy hair. "Well, first he swore. Rather profusely, I might add, so I'm not going to translate that." He cast a sideways glance at his canine friend, who, in turn, gave a sniff and once again turned his head away, nose in the air. "But after that, he said that he feels angry and betrayed that I would like a movie like that." The teen cast another shifty glance about the room, avoiding eye-contact with both the shrink and Akamaru.

"And why do you feel this way, Akamaru? What is it about Kiba liking Old Yeller that makes you feel angry and betrayed?" Dr. Katsura asked, leaning forward and scribbling like mad in his little leather-bound notebook.

Again, the dog seemed to assume a look that asked if the doctor was retarded. Then he answered, with a heated tone, "Woof woof. Arf arf arf, bark. Grrr arf. Grr bark. Woof, arf."

Through Akamaru's reply, Kiba was shaking his head, and alternating between staring hard at his dog companion and looking about the room with shifty eyes. A few times, he ran his hands through his hair and gasped in disbelief. It was obvious he didn't like what he heard.

When the dog was done, having turned his head away again, to face the wall away from his master, the doctor turned to said teen with expectant eyes. "Please translate."

Kiba was just staring at the back of Akamaru's head, pain and disbelief evident in his frowning face. He whispered, "It's not like that. That's not why."

The doctor, while scribbling furiously yet again, said, "Kiba, if you would please translate what Akamaru said? You will get to share your feelings on this matter in a moment."

Casting his eyes about the room, Kiba answered, "He said that he feels that way because he thinks it says something about the way I feel toward him. He thinks it points to some subconscious desire of mine to kill him. And that's why he feels angry and betrayed…and hurt." Kiba suddenly turned his head so that his face was hidden from view, as Akamaru whined.

"And what of your feelings on this, Kiba?" the shrink asked gently, sensing the sensitivity of the situation quite clearly now.

The Inuzuka gave an audible breath. He glanced around the room for the umpteenth time, eyes blinking rapidly. And it was then that the doctor realized that his shifty eyes were an attempt to stave off tears. Kiba's gaze was glossy when he answered with a slightly shaky voice, "It's not like that. I don't want to kill Akamaru. I don't…" He took in a steeling breath and turned to his doggy friend, who was still turned away from the boy, though his ears were perked, showing that he didn't want to miss a thing that Kiba had to say. "I don't want to put you down, Akamaru!" Kiba cried, with tears suddenly streaming down his tattooed cheeks. "It's just… The reason I like that movie is…" He took another heavy breath and stared intently at his furry friend. "If I was in Old Yeller's place, and there was the choice to let me suffer or let me die, I would want you to make that decision. I would want you to be the one to do it."

The giant white dog slowly turned to face his master, puppy eyes shining with moisture and head tilted in askance. He gave a quiet whine.

"Yeah," Kiba said, half-smiling as he sniffled back some more tears. "I mean it. I like that movie because of the bond between Travis and Old Yeller. They're inseparable, like us."

Akamaru shuffled closer to the teenager, nudging his shoulder with his large muzzle. He gave a shrill yip and licked his master's face, tail wagging and repeatedly thwacking the shrink in the shins.

Attempting to ignore the rather sharp pain that was shooting through his lower legs, Dr. Katsura interrupted the BFF-moment. "Ah, Akamaru." When he didn't get their attention, he repeated, "Akamaru!"

The addressed animal looked over at him.

Adjusting his notebook, the doctor asked, "How do you feel about the situation, now that you have heard Kiba's side of it?"

"ARF! ARF! Woof!"

"Aha! He says we're cool!" Kiba laughed, scratching the large animal behind the ears. "It's all good now! And you know what?!"

Dr. Katsura and Akamaru both looked intently at the Inuzuka teen, who, in turn, looked excitedly back at them.

"I'm going to name Akamaru my representative so, in the event that I ever get into a situation that calls for it, he will be the one to make the decision on whether to pull the plug or not. I leave my life in your paws, Akamaru!"

The dog yipped again, tail wagging away.

The doctor was understandably speechless. The boy had just decided to make his dog his legal proxy in the event that a medical decision needed to be made and Kiba was incapable of doing so.

The dynamic duo got to their feet and paws and headed out the door.

"Hey, thanks doc!" Kiba shouted over his shoulder. "You really helped us out here! If it weren't for you, Akamaru and I might never have gotten over it."

Said dog barked in agreement.

Dr. Katsura scrambled to his feet. "Ah, Kiba! Akamaru! We're not finished here yet! We haven't even gotten to the matter of your mission experiences!"

But it was too late. Mutt and master were already out the door, with Kiba shouting, "We've got a movie to watch, hey Akamaru?!"

The shrink sank back into his chair and sighed.

Save your strength for the next one, Seishi. This could be a long day.

Konoha shinobi-1. Dr. Katsura-0.

Next to go under the microscope, so to speak, was none other than Aburame Shino. And it seemed to be going quite well. Dr. Katsura had come to the conclusion that his experience with Kiba and Akamaru had been merely happenstance; the one odd duck in an otherwise average flock.

Having covered most of the basics, the doctor opted to ask one final question about Shino before they went on to explore the more in-depth aspects of his shinobi duties.

"Now, I understand that you have kikai insects living within your body, which you use in battle?" Dr. Katsura asked, pen poised to scribble away upon Shino's elaboration.

"That is correct," the addressed teen answered in his low, almost muffled voice.

The psychologist stared at the Aburame expectantly. When nothing seemed forthcoming, he said, "Would you care to elaborate on that?"

"What would you like to know?" was Shino's response, though he remained as still as ever.

"Well," the doctor began. "Why don't you tell me how you work with them? What tasks they perform? How you interact with them?"

"And this will aid in creating a psychological profile of me how?" Shino asked, voice ever monotonous.

Dr. Katsura was silent for a moment, judging how to best go about addressing this issue when it was obvious his patient was not feeling particularly open on the topic. "It will help by allowing me to better understand the unique stresses that you face prior to embarking on a mission. The initial mindset has much to do with how a person will handle the situations that follow. Basically, I'm trying to establish your normative mindset, so I can then compare it to what you will eventually describe when we discuss certain missions you have been on."

Shino shifted, or at least seemed to shift, since it was difficult to tell with his giant coat hiding most of his movements.

"You wish to know of my relationship with my kikai bugs?" the teen clarified.

"Yes. That would be a good start," Dr. Katsura answered.

Silence hung in the office for a full minute before the Aburame genius spoke, his voice low and distant, like an echo in a dark cave: ominous.

"My kikai bugs… They are extremely useful tools in shinobi work. I scarcely remember a time when I did not have them dwelling in my body." He paused for a moment, while the shrink scribbled away, his pen's scratching filling the hanging silence. "They are always there. Right there, going about their lives, making themselves at home in my body."

Here the doctor grimaced, imagining a horde of bugs living within the squishy, gristly, fluid-filled confines of one's body. Ewww.

"They just make themselves at home… Don't even think about how their actions might disrupt my life."

Dr. Katsura looked at his patient with slightly raised eyebrows, though he tried valiantly to force them down. The boy was getting agitated, his voice rising and becoming edged in steel.

The air around Shino seemed to grow heavier with dark intent; a mirage to blur the wood paneled wall behind him. The doctor was slightly uncomfortable.

"They don't stop…" he said lowly. "They just won't stop. Their noise… Always noise… It never ends. It's like a freaking freight train running through my head on rusty tracks, it's so loud." Shino seemed to lean forward slightly, and if he could see his eyes, Dr. Katsura was certain he would find them staring intently into his own. "And…I can't sleep. I barely eat. I wear this coat to hide the fact that I'm practically skin and bone. And my glasses… Some people think I wear them because I think they're cool. And they are partially correct, because, man they are pretty sweet!" the Aburame teen's voice almost had a lilt in it. But that disappeared almost immediately, as he continued. "But the real reason is to hide the dark rings that stain my eyes from lack of sleep. Otherwise, people would probably think I wear eyeliner like most people think that Sabaku no Gaara does." He took in a quiet breath, clearly riled. Or, as riled as Shino could possibly get. "My bugs are just… Jim-Bob likes to get drunk on serotonin. Billy-Joe is emo. He always says, "I don't feel anymore. I might as well cast this husk of a body into the acidic depths of the stomach and end it all." And Petey… Petey likes to squat by my pituitary gland and gets high on endorphins. And they're always bickering. It's like having millions of tiny Kiba's and Akamaru's inside of me, listening to them squabble, ceaselessly, over the most inane things." He paused, his breathing noticeably ragged, though he still had yet to show movement. Then, with a slight shift of his head, his dark glasses glinted in the office light, and in a voice even lower than he had used before he said, "Sometimes I see cans of bug spray in the store, and I just think of downing twenty of them; pound them back until I'm left within an inch of my life and they are all dead." He suddenly sat up straighter and cocked his head to the side. "Of course! Except for you, Barnaby! You're my little jube-jube! You're a good kikai bug! Yes you are!"

Dr. Katsura was finding himself, once again, at a loss. Shaking his head, he hesitantly asked, "And who might Barnaby be?"

The Aburame prodigy snapped his head around to eye the shrink, though he could have been staring at anything really; those shades were far too dark to tell. In his usual monotonous tone, a stark contrast to the vibrant voice he had been using moments ago, Shino answered, "Barnaby is my only true friend. He alone is the reason I have yet to act upon the rage I have festering within me. Should I break, he will be spared. But only him."

Oookaaayyy… Now the doctor was weirded out. The teen was serious about murdering his bugs. But he had a disturbing attachment to one of them. Seishi shuddered the thought of what might happen in the event that this Barnaby demonstrated solidarity with his bug brethren to stop Shino's dark intents: Bug guts everywhere with a mumbling Shino rocking back and forth, cradling a smucked Barnaby while whispering, "The ants go marching two by two…" no doubt.

Shaking himself out of his dazed stupor, the doctor cleared his throat and eyed the Aburame with a wary gaze. "And, ahem, can't they hear what you have just said?"

"No," Shino spoke. "I have suppressed their access to the external environment. They know not of what I have said, nor of what I think. Except for Barnaby. I have no secrets from him."

"And how does Barnaby feel about your…intents?" the shrink asked hesitantly.

"He sympathizes with me. I told you, Barnaby is my only true friend."

Well, scratch Barnaby siding with his people; the bug was a turncoat. Lovely.

Dr. Katsura shifted his notebook on his knee, glancing over his notes. I think it's time to move on…

"Alright, Shino," he began slowly. "I think we will discuss the last B-rank mission you were on---"

He was cut off by a sudden movement from his patient. Shino suddenly rose to his feet, yet not an ounce of anxiety or hurriedness seemed to come from him.

"Shino," Dr. Katsura spoke evenly, raising a hand to motion for the teen to sit. "We have yet to finish our session."

The addressed shinobi just seemed to stare at the doctor before him. "I… I cannot," he said lowly.


"They are damaging my calm. I cannot th-think, let alone speak of my missions. I apologize. I must go."

"Shino!" Dr. Katsura exclaimed, leaping to his feet.

But, once again, it was too late. The Aburame had dissolved in a cloud of insects and drifted out the crack beneath the door.

Konoha shinobi-2. Dr. Katsura-0.

The entire village was a giant insane asylum.

That was his professional opinion. And it was only cemented after meeting with his next patient.

The first impression one would get from Hyuuga Hinata was that she had low self-esteem issues, which contributed to her nearly debilitating shyness.

These things were not too uncommon, nor were they impossible to overcome. Dr. Katsura thought things were finally looking up.

Until he unearthed her deep, dark secret.

"And this Noriko, he doesn't know of your…activities concerning him?"

Ah, yes. The girl was a stalker. Through and through. What was more, she tried to cover up the identity of the object of her obsession by giving him a different name, despite the fact that she said his real name about three times already. Apparently, in addition to following around some oblivious boy, denial was also on her agenda today.

"N-n-no," came the Hyuuga girl's quiet answer.

"I see," Dr. Katsura spoke slowly, eying his notebook. He turned his gaze back on the Hyuuga heiress. "Have you ever thought of telling him of your feelings, rather than follow him around without him knowing?" He wanted to say, "rather than being all creepy and stalking him," but that would have been unprofessional. Very unprofessional.

The girl's face seemed to be emulating a ripe tomato. "I-I-I---I---" she stammered, her eyes becoming unfocused. A resounding thump filled the office as Hinata dropped to the floor in a dead faint.

Dr. Katsura scrambled over to the fallen girl. Tapping her face in an effort to waken the passed out teen, the doctor spoke loudly, "Wake up, Hinata! Wake up!"

Glancing about for water to throw on her face but finding none, he ran out the door. "I need a medic in here now!"

Moments later, a group of people were tending to the unconscious girl and carting her away to the hospital.

Another patient gone before getting to the point of these assessments.

Konoha shinobi-3. Dr. Katsura-0.

Akimichi Chouji was actually quite easy to interview.

You know, if you ignored the perpetual crunching and munching sounds that accompanied his every word, as well as the food bits that were expelled every time he answered a question. (The drycleaners were going to be making a killing on Dr. Katsura today; that is, if his suit wasn't so encrusted with masticated food bits that he opted to just throw it out.)

"Ah, Chouji?" the shrink began, levelling a steady gaze at the vigorously chewing ninja. With a grunt as a response, the doctor continued. "Perhaps it would be best if you put the food away for the moment---"

"DON'T CALL ME FAT!!!" the Akimichi shouted, eyes narrowed. "I'M ROBUST!!! NOT FAT!!!"

"I-I didn't---Chouji! I did not mean it like that," Dr. Katsura said, attempting calmness, while eying the teen's fists with wariness; he had heard about the size those things could get.

"Everyone always calls me fat!" Chouji cried in a voice thick with emotion. Big, fat---er, ah, robust tears began to stream down the shinobi's round cheeks. He leaned forward, eyes almost pleading. "I'm not fat! I'm not! Why does everyone have to say such hurtful things about me?! And right in front of me too! It's like they think I have no feelings just because I'm big boned! I do too have feelings! And right now, they are hurt!"

And with that, Akimichi Chouji ran crying out of Dr. Katsura's office, screaming about the cruelty of psychologists.

Konoha shinobi-4. Dr. Katsura-0.

After his rather upsetting encounter with Chouji, Dr. Katsura decided he had better be extra careful with his words, lest he send another one of his patients running out of the room crying.

Not that an insult could possibly damage the ego of his current patient. She was far too confident to be perturbed by a stranger's comment.

Yamanaka Ino was not the shyest patient he had ever encountered; far from it.

Well, at least there won't be any fainting spells.

"So I told Shikamaru, 'If you want to spend the rest of your day lazing about in the middle of a freaking street, you go right on ahead! But I for one, have no intention of getting myself trampled by the fatties about to come barrelling out of that dango shop.'"

The psychiatrist was speechless. Truly, Ino was a remarkable person. One moment she could be expressing nothing but concern, and in the next she was insulting the very same people she had been worried for. Bipolar anyone?

She was still talking. Goodness knew she didn't need encouragement.

"…always gets upset when I say that. But I can't see the problem. I mean, is it so wrong if I don't believe beautiful, skinny people can fall in love with fat people? Is that some violation of human rights?"

Dr. Katsura came out of his own thoughts to address Ino's apparent Valley Girl Syndrome. Shifting slightly, he said, "Your team-mate is rather, uhh, robust. Are you saying that someone like you could never fall in love with someone like him?"

"What?! You talking about Chouji?! The boy would marry his potato chips if it were legal, forget about a girl!" Ino said, waving it off with a flick of her hand.

The doctor was about to further pursue the topic of her team-mates, but Ino had already gone off on another tangent. Something about "really, really pretty boys" and some guys named Sasuke and Sai? Yep. She definitely suffered from Valley Girl Syndrome.

It wasn't an official condition, per se. However, the current patient seemed to display it in such a grandiose fashion that Dr. Katsura was willing to handle it as such.

Valley Girl Syndrome was a condition where the patient demonstrated severe obsession over superficial things, especially in regards to appearances and boys. Some would argue that such was merely a part of being a teenage girl; however, Valley Girl Syndrome took the usual teenage obsessions and amplified them to the point where no conversation, action, or thought could be executed without the objects of obsession somehow being brought into it.

Case in point:

"…says he's a huge jerk, but I think she's just saying that because he calls me beautiful and she's jealous of that. I mean, factor in that he kind of looks like Sasuke-kun and it's not a far stretch to say that when Sasuke-kun finally comes back, he's going to be all over me, just like Sai-kun is. Forehead-girl will have no one, except maybe that eyebrow weirdo, Lee. Seriously. He needs to learn how to wield some tweezers or some wax or something. His eyebrows are terrifying. Not like Sai-kun's. He has a very noble brow. It's the same with Sasuke-kun. Like I said before, they look kind of similar. Though I haven't seen my dear Sasuke-kun in three years now. That Forehead-girl did, though. She didn't give me the four-one-one on how he was looking. Ugh! Oh! She is so going to pay for that! Trying to come between our inevitable happily ever after! Eh, it's not like anyone can compete with me. I mean, come on! If I can get Sai-kun all over me at first sight, what do you think Sasuke-kun's going to do? He's going to be proposing by midday, that's what! And then there will have to be a competition between the two to decide who I will choose, knowing that I will have to break the heart of one of those hot, hot boys. Though, I'm sure their burning love for me will continue on, even though…"

And she just kept going. On and on and on.

Eventually, Dr. Katsura's pen dropped to the floor with a dull thud, as he drifted off into a stupor induced by Ino's constant drone.

When he finally came out of his trance he found his office empty and his pen missing. She had mentioned that it reminded her of the ones Sai sometimes used.

Konoha shinobi-5. Dr. Katsura-0.

The first ten minutes with Nara Shikamaru went exceptionally well. There were no arguments or death threats or hurt feelings or inane ranting.

That might have had something to do with the fact that Shikamaru did no speak a word for those full ten minutes. Indeed, the lazy genius spent those moments gazing out the window at the giant clouds that were trundling by, a look of utter contentment upon his face.

In an effort to gain his patient's attention, Dr. Katsura closed the blinds.

Oooohhh. That was a mistake, doc!

Slowly, ever so slowly, like a windmill on a very calm day, Shikamaru's head turned toward the shrink, eyes narrowed to evil-looking slits.

With a startled gulp, the doctor opened the blinds. As soon as he did so, the Nara's head snapped back to stare out the window, face serene.

Seishi sighed. Of course, it couldn't have been easy. No.

Watching the teen watch clouds for a few more minutes, the psychologist came up with an idea to get the boy talking.

"So, Shikamaru. Can I ask why you enjoy cloud gazing so much?"

"Mmh," was his informative reply. However, slowly, Shikamaru seemed to pull out of his dream world, just enough to give a sleepy-sounding reply. "Because when I look at the world around me I just see troublesome situations and people all crowding in on me wanting to push me down and smother me with their troublesome troubles." His face was creased slightly with a faint frown and an irritated edge to his voice. But then he sighed and stretched a little, seeming to settle even further into the chair he was in, as he continued, "But then I look up there, to those big, puffy marshmallow---"

"Did someone say 'marshmallow'?" a voice interrupted.

"Go away, Chouji," the doctor called, not looking up from his notebook as he scribbled away.

"---clouds, it all just floats away, disintegrating like the wisps of cumulus that float so high," Shikamaru finished, not even pausing when his best friend burst into tears and ran away from the open office window.

Dr. Katsura looked over his notes and then eyed the teen before him, who was, by all appearances, on the verge of sleep.

It was obvious that Shikamaru's cloud watching was a form of escapism; his way of shirking the responsibilities and troubles of his life.

Well, it was better than getting into drugs and alcohol and various other self-destructive activities that were prevalent these days.

But still…

The doctor shifted his notebook, pen poised for the wave of information he was certain would follow his next question.

"Exactly what kind of, ah, 'troublesome troubles' do you mean, Shikamaru? Could you give me some examples?"

The addressed shinobi's countenance darkened, as when a cloud covers the sun. "Everyone," he spoke quietly. "My mom; my team-mates; my comrades; everyone. I just want to be free, man. I don't want their troubles weighing me down. I just want to be floating around out there, no troubles, just like a cloud." His aura lightened at his last sentence, a dreamy gaze filling his eyes as he continued his watch of the skies.

Okay. So maybe he was into drugs. Those cloud comments were beginning to sound like the drugged epiphanies of a high person. And his laid back, almost sleepy manner would certainly be explained by that. Were his pupils dilated?

Dr. Katsura couldn't tell. The boy had fallen asleep. And no amount of nudging would waken him.

Exasperated, the shrink just left the room for a short walk to calm his nerves. When he returned, the room was empty.

Konoha shinobi-6. Dr. Katsura-0.

Now this session was going well. And there was no sarcasm in that statement. This session really was going well.

Dr. Katsura's patient was highly compliant. He answered every question clearly and without tangents attached.

Granted, he seemed to lack all ability to actually experience real emotion or even to execute a proper smile, fake or otherwise. But at this point, the shrink actually found this Sai's emotional retardation rather refreshing and opted to draw out their session as much as he could.

He decided he was going to glean as much information on his patient's team-mates as possible so that he could be better prepared for their impending arrival. He had been caught off guard far too many times that day. But no more! This Sai would help him with that.

"So, Sai," Dr. Katsura began, while dotting a couple I's and crossing a few T's. "Why don't you tell me about your team-mates? Tell me about their attributes; what they are like."

Like the good little robot that he was, Sai answered, "Naruto has no dick and Sakura is an ugly hag." He then smiled his Cheez Whiz © smile---that is, his fake smile---complete with closed eyes and tilted head.

The psychologist had to shake his head a bit to knock that mental image out of his mind. And just when he was beginning to consider not quitting his job after this little ordeal was over and he had been well compensated for his efforts.

Why me? Why me?

Konoha shinobi-7. Dr. Katsura-0.

The Godaime hated him.

That was how he rationalized it. For some reason, she had developed a deep and abiding hatred for him and she was now expressing it through making him assess the freaks she called shinobi.

Take his current patient, for example: By all appearances, a very normal person, excluding the remarkably abnormal pink hair, of course. But other than that one detail, she was the quintessential kunoichi. And one would think that said shinobi would be relatively normal in mind, as well. Not so. Not so.

"I mean, what was it for?!" Sakura said, continuing a rant that had been going on for the better part of fifteen minutes, uninterrupted by so much as an "ahem" from the shrink. (He felt that silence was the safer course of action.) "I said a lot of things then that he could have been thanking me for. Or it could have been for something from before! Or maybe he was just thanking me for giving him the opportunity to knock me out! Maybe it had been a secret wish of his all those years and I had just given him the perfect opportunity and he was thanking me for helping one of his tiny little dreams come true!"

Yes. The girl was clearly obsessive. Ranting for fifteen minutes over precisely three words that were said three years ago by a boy she hadn't seen in the same amount of time, was a definite sign of obsession.

And don't even get the worn doctor started on her paranoia. Sweet goodness!

"And you know what?! It's not even the "Thank you" that bothers me." She slammed an open palm on the arm of her chair, sending stuffing shooting out of it at velocities such light fluff was never intended to travel. She leaned forward, eyes earnest; searching. "It's the pause between him saying my name and then saying thanks. That is what has always bothered me." She leaned back in her seat, picking at the exposed stuffing she had caused to rupture from the chair. "I mean, why did he pause? Was he going to say something else, but at the last minute decided on "Thank you"? And if so, then what was he really going to say?" Sakura swiped at the polyester fibres that had taken to clinging to her clothes. Then she suddenly looked up at Dr. Katsura, eyes lit with dangerous intent.

The shrink shrank back a few more inches---as much as he could, since he was already leaning back, not wanting to be too close to his unpredictable patient, lest she suddenly decide to unleash her inhuman strength upon the other office furniture. Maybe he should get out of his chair and stand, just to be safe?

In a voice to match the dangerous gleam in her eyes, Sakura said, "What if he was debating whether to even thank me or just straight up knock me out?" She slammed a fist into the other arm of her chair, effectively de-stuffing it and leaving it rather crushed.

Dr. Katsura could just see his budget flying out the window.

Leaning forward and looking as though she was ready to leap out of her seat at the doctor's unsuspecting file cabinet, Sakura continued. "Maybe he wasn't even going to say that! I would have been left with naught but a "Sakura" and a rather uncomfortable bump on the back of my noggin! Of all the nerve!" Another fist met the end table, effectively cracking the poor thing in half. But Sakura was on a roll and didn't even take notice. "Oh! If he was thinking of not saying at least a thank you, he had better look out! I darn well deserved a thank you, at the very least!"

Dr. Katsura had been taking advantage of Sakura's occupied state to jot down some notes in his book. When he had attempted this earlier, she had asked him every two seconds what he was writing about her, if it was anything bad, and every other thing she could think of. She even attempted to read over his shoulder by creating a bunshin to sneak around behind. It turned out the room was too small for such a tactic to be properly effective. However, her efforts certainly did help the psychologist to get a good idea of his patient's character.

Knowing full well that any effort to read what the doctor was writing down would be in vain, Sakura took to a more tedious venue for discovering his words. Listening very carefully to his pen's scratching, Sakura began making out the letters by the sounds his pen made on the paper.

"P-A-R-A-N-O-I---" She stopped abruptly and stared at the psychologist, incredulity upon her face. "You're labelling me a paranoid schizophrenic, aren't you?! Aren't you?! Why would you do that?! I'm not a schizo!"

Raising an eyebrow at his patient, Dr. Katsura asked, "And how can you be sure of that?"

"My other shrinks told me so." She nodded, eyes closed in that self-assured manner that so many people used when they were so very much in error.

"You've been to other psychologists?" He wanted to know who her other doctors were and why they hadn't lost their licenses yet. This girl had clearly not been getting the treatment she ought to be. Clearly.

"Yeah. Well…" she trailed off, finger on her chin and looking extremely thoughtful. "Do an inebriated Hokage and her pet pig count?"

The shrink could only repress a deep sigh and return to his rapidly filling notebook.

"But, I think I deserve an answer on that."

Inside, he began to scream.

Sakura turned to Dr. Katsura and stared intently at him, her bright green eyes alive with some idea the man was certain he would not appreciate. "You should go and hunt him down and psychoanalyze him and bring me back the results! I deserve to know the truth!" She smacked his nearby desk with an open palm; a large crack soon appeared along the surface's middle.

"Haven't you and your team-mates been searching for this…" he scanned his notes, "Uchiha Sasuke, for quite a while now?"

The pink-head nodded.

"How would I be able to find him if you can't?"

Sakura gave a "pfft" and waved her hand in the air, narrowly missing smacking a nearby lamp. "Well I'm sure I don't know," she drawled out. She leaned forward abruptly, eying the uncomfortable doctor intensely. "It's not the 'how' that matters; only the results are important! And I need answers! I mean," she leaned back into her destroyed chair, sending fluff flying about the room. "I just want to know what he meant! Why would he…"

Here the haggard doctor tuned his patient's new (though very familiar) rant out, as he focused instead upon his own internal screaming.

Konoha shinobi-8. Dr. Katsura-0.

It was almost over.

Just one more. Just one more. Just one more.

That was what Dr. Katsura kept repeating to himself; an inner mantra to help him get through the final leg of his assignment.

This is the last one.

Ohhh, but what a final patient. Such a special child, this one was.

"I told Baa-chan, I don't need to see no Scientologist, dattebayo."

Oooh, boy. Special, special, special!

"I'm a psychologist, Naruto. Not a Scientologist," the doctor managed to say relatively amicably, considering he had already corrected the boy three times prior on the same point.

"Whatever. I don't judge," Naruto shrugged, leaning back in the new chair that had been brought in after his team-mate's departure. "You can be whatever you want, you know, dattebayo. It's fine with me."

"Wha---?" Seishi gave the blonde a screwed up look. Then shaking his head, he said, "Never mind. Moving on." The shrink shuffled his papers, going over some notes he already had on the teen before him.

"Is it a lot of work to be a sinologist?" Naruto asked, tinkering with the desk lamp nearby.

"It's psychologist," Dr. Katsura said, not with a little irritation. "And yes, it is quite a lot of work, actually." He stopped shuffling his papers and settled back with pen poised. "Why do you ask? Are you interested in the field?"

Naruto's face screwed up into his patented And-They-Call-Me-A-Retard! © look.

"Why would I be interested in a field? I want to be Hokage, dattebayo, not a field…studier…person."

The doctor died a little inside.

"A fieldologist? Is that right?" The blonde boy turned his blue eyes to the internally crying shrink, accusation in them. "Hey! I thought you said you were a cytologist, not a fieldologist! What gives?!"

Dr. Katsura continued his internal sobbing spree.

"And what's another thing," Naruto continued, oblivious to the other man's mental distress. "Why is someone who studies fields making psychopathic promises of us?!"

Oh, he was certain the boy meant to say "psychological profiles." He was just sure of it! However, this blonde's version of it seemed quite apt, as it were.

"Hey! Old man! Dattebayo!" The jinchuuriki snapped his fingers in front of the shrinks face and waved his hand a little. "Aren't you supposed to be writing, or something?"

Dr. Katsura jerked out of his lamentations for his sanity and prepared himself for what he could tell was going to be his most trying experience yet.

Konoha shinobi-9. Dr. Katsura-0.

"So, how are my shinobi, doctor?" Tsunade asked, her hands folded before her face, elbows propped on her desk.

"Well, let's see… The Hyuuga boy, Neji… You can expect a Hyuuga version of the Uchiha massacre, courtesy of him any day now." Seishi flipped through his notebook. "Hatake Kakashi… Has a deep porn obsession that likely started out as a coping mechanism but has since become an addiction that desperately needs to be addressed." He looked up at the Godaime intensely. "No child should ever experience hearing dirty man giggles when they are trying to learn how to climb trees using chakra. That's just asking for the next generation to be psychologically scarred before their time." He then turned back to his trusty notebook. "Hmmm… Yamato-taichou…" The shrink gave a gulp.

"Yes? What about him?" Tsunade prodded.

"Ah… We-That is… I…" The doctor glanced about the Hokage's office with wide, shifty eyes. "He…is…a very… He's good! There's nothing wrong with him! The picture of mental health! Ha ha!"

Internally, the psychologist was shaking. What he really wanted to say was that he hadn't even gotten past the introductions with Yamato. He was a terrifying man. The captain had used his patented I-Doom-You! © look and the doctor had allowed him, nay, insisted that he not partake in the psych evaluations.

"I see," the Hokage murmured. "That's good. You mentioned Neji; how about his team-mate, Tenten?"

He furrowed his brow, confused. "Who? Ten…ten? Uhhhh…" The doctor leafed through his notes. "I don't think I had her as a patient."

"Yes you did. I saw her go in to your office."

"I…" He squinted. "What does she look like?"

"Brown hair in two buns. Likes weapons."

"Nnoooo…" Dr. Katsura answered slowly, shaking his head. "I don't recall someone like that in my office."

The Lady Hokage frowned but let it pass. He wouldn't be the first, and likely wouldn't be the last, person to forget Tenten. Poor girl…

Sifting through his tattered notes, the doctor came across one that actually brought him joy.

"Ah, Rock Lee!" he exclaimed with a smile. "What a nice young man! I don't know that I have ever met such a pleasant person!" Dr. Katsura frowned slightly. "Though I do wonder why he pursues that Haruno girl so ardently. She is not a healthy person to be involved with. He needs to understand that." Missing the angry look that crossed the Godaime's face, the doctor continued. "But his sensei! Ah! Charming! Just charming!" Suddenly, a look of realization crossed his face. "Oh! Tenten. Gai-san's student! Yes! Now I remember!" He shook his head solemnly. "She has a disturbing affinity for sharp pointy objects, especially when they are attached to chains. I found her highly disturbing." He looked off to the side, a thoughtful light in his eyes. "I really don't understand how Gai-san's other two students could be so disturbed with such a vibrant peer and mentor to be shining examples." He looked intently into the Hokage's eyes as he said, "I recommend an inquiry into that Neji and Tenten's home lives. Something must be up for them to not take to Gai-san's teachings."

"And what of the others?" Tsunade asked, hands folded beneath her chin in that intimidating stance she had been perfecting for the past three years. It helped her reign in her anger, which was bubbling quite steadily at the moment.

"Really, Hokage-sama, I think my assessments were clear enough in their files."

Tsunade raised a brow. "On Naruto's you wrote, 'Legally retarded, with lapses of acuity.'" She tossed the file down and levelled a heavy gaze on the psychologist opposite her. "What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

"It means exactly what it says," Dr. Katsura answered with a huff.

"Are these actually your professional opinions, or are these your personal thoughts?" the Leaf leader asked heatedly.

The doctor let out an indignant scoff. "They most certainly are my professional opinions! These people are nuts! You should lock them up and get them into programs and therapy for their problems!" He paused and then added, "Medication and institutionalization would be the best course of action for that Haruno girl. There's no telling what may happen if she's left loo---"

The Godaime sent Dr. Katsura flying out the window and over Hokage Mountain.

Pfft. Get my shinobi into programs and therapy. Medicate and institutionalize Sakura.

"You were supposed to tell me something I didn't already know!" she shouted out the window at the steadily shrinking form of the doctor, still flying off into the distance.

Not far from Hokage tower, sprawled out on the roof of a building, were the aforementioned mentally disturbed shinobi.

"Lazybones, you are a genius. Dattebayo!"

The addressed person yawned and continued to watch the passing clouds. "So they say."

"No, seriously, Shikamaru!" another voice said. "Suggesting that we all act like crazies was pure brilliance!"

"Ino's right, man!" Kiba said, patting his doggy companion on the head. "It got us out of there before we even got to the deep stuff! It was awesome!"

"What are you guys talking about?"

With a collective turn of their heads, the group of nin saw one Haruno Sakura staring at them with confusion radiating from her face.

"Oh, Sakura-chan!" Naruto shouted (screeched), causing a collective cringe from the group. "We were just congratulating Shikamaru on his perfectly executed plan to make Baa-chan regret ever thinking of making us see a psychedelic, dattebayo!"

"PSYCHOLOGIST!!!" everyone shouted.

"That's what I said!" Naruto screeched back.

There were grumbles and shaking heads, but everyone opted for the smart course of action and dropped the issue.

Sakura, who had wandered closer to the bunch, still with the confused look upon her face, said, "What exactly did you guys do?"

"Well," Naruto began, flashing a toothy grin. "We just acted like insane freaks with serious personal issues to weird out the serologist---"

"Psychologist, you moron," Shikamaru interjected.

"---psychologist, you moron, so he would have no choice but to---hey!" Naruto whirled around to glare at the reclining Nara. "I heard that!"

Shikamaru merely raised an eyebrow and yawned, continuing his watch of the blue expanse.

"So he would have no choice but to label us all one crap short of a load! Dattebayo!" Naruto finished, bright smile back in place.

Sakura looked back and forth between the amassed faces of shinobi.

Naruto spoke up again. "You were amazing, Sakura-chan. I mean, I heard that he labelled you a paragon schism because you acted so well, dattebayo!" He smiled so wide, his eyes shut.

Shikamaru gave a snort. "Paranoid schizophrenic, you idiot," he muttered, shaking his head slightly.

"Do you have a problem with my spake?" Naruto shouted, glowering down at the lazy genius.

"Your spake?" the Nara asked, eyebrows quirking in slightly mocking question.

"There you go doing it again!"

"You two, shut up!" Ino shouted, bonking Shikamaru on the head for good measure and glaring at Naruto.

The former muttered, "Troublesome," but the latter actually opted to remain silent, albeit with a huff (much to the others' relief).

"But anyway," Naruto began, yet again. He turned back to his pink-haired team-mate. "You must have done great, because he said you were probably the craziest of us all! Dattebayo!"

"Yeah!" Kiba shouted. "Word is, after you, he practically broke!"

"Then Naruto went in and finished the job," Kakashi said, having just 'poofed' into existence upon a small platform behind the group. "Though he probably needn't have acted to do that," he added with a closed-eye smile.

"Kaka-sensei!" Naruto moaned. "Don't you go making fun of me too!"

The sensei merely continued to smile and directed his lone eye to his precious green book.

"So," Sakura began slowly. "None of you actually answered the doctor's questions honestly?"

A collective shaking of their heads, interspersed with a few no's was her answer.

"Ah, ha hah," Sakura laughed nervously, rubbing the back of her head.

Picking up on her nervousness, Shikamaru opened a heavy-lidded eye and watched Sakura carefully. After a moment, he said, "You weren't acting, were you, Sakura?"

Said female nearly leapt out of her skin, but covered it quickly. However it was futile, for even if Shikamaru had opted to deem the issue too troublesome and dropped it, the blush that was burning up her skin would have told everyone else that it was true.

"Sakura-chan…" Naruto said hesitantly, for once at a loss for words.

Oh great! She was getting the Wow.-Are-You-A-Freak © look from Naruto, of all people.

"We--- It's not like…" she stuttered to silence. Then she steeled herself and shot a fiery glare at the group. "Like none of you drew on real-life experiences to act out your plan! Most of what you told the shrink was probably true, anyway!" And with that, she stormed away, leaving tidy little cracks in her wake.

The shinobi exchanged nervous glances with each other.

"Did you---"

"I most certainly did not!"

"I wasn't asking you! But that tells us that you did!"

"Well I bet you weren't acting either!"

"Maybe I was! Maybe I wasn't!"

"You're all posers! I was the only real actor there!"

"Oh, you liar!"

And so, the shinobi of Konoha survived their dark day.

…Though eye contact was studiously avoided for the next week or so.

…And the Godaime was even more sauced than usual for the next month.

…And Kiba and Akamaru holed themselves up in the former's room and watched Old Yeller non-stop for three straight days, after which they made a suicide pact in blood.

…And two weeks later, all the bug spray went missing from a local shop.

…And Naruto found himself being followed around constantly by a curious "thump" sound wherever he went, as though a body were falling to the ground in a faint.

…And the Akimichi household experienced a crisis three weeks later when the patriarch found diet pills in his son's room, who subsequently broke into a fit of tears, screaming, "ROBUST IS A NICE WORD FOR FAT, ISN'T IT?! I'VE BEEN CALLING MYSELF FAT ALL THIS TIME?! HOW COULD YOU LET ME?!"

…And the Yamanaka family suffered through three full weeks of hearing nothing but the ranting of Ino, who was suffering from a particularly strong episode of VGS.

…And Shikamaru spent five straight days laying outside watching clouds, which caused him to slip into a coma from lack of nourishment and dehydration.

…And Sai… Well Sai was Sai. He did what Sai does. The experience hadn't really fazed him, lack of emotions, and all.

…And Sakura was not institutionalized. Though she was medicated. Without her knowledge, of course! Tsunade wasn't a famous medic for nothing!

…And Naruto continued on as Naruto was wont to do, all the while filling the village people's lives with a healthy dose of irritation, as he went on misspeaking and 'dattebayo'ing his way through life.

The End

Guttersnipe's Word: I don't know why, so please don't ask. It just came to me while I was watching a fan video on Youtube, called "Ninja High" by Antfish. It mentioned Kiba putting Akamaru down "Old Yeller style." Everything else flourished from there. It was originally supposedto be the second chapter in my songfic collection, "The Eternal Soundtrack," but it got way too long to be used as a songfic (it's thirty-freaking-two pages!), so I decided to post it as its own entity. So, please review. Mr. Clicky is lonely down in his corner!

Oh! And Merry Christmas peeps! Or, as I like to say, Happy Jesus Day! And if Christmas isn't your thing, then I wish you well in whatever it is that you observe! And if you don't observe anything, then just have a nice day!