A Family of Sorts

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

Guttersnipe's Foreword: Yes. It's the cliché "Sakura meets/gets captured by/has tea with Team Hebi" chapter. But it's cliché for a reason, people. That reason being Sakura + Suigetsu = Yayness! (Platonic Yayness!, mind you) and Suigetsu VS Karin is amusing. Please enjoy.

Chapter 7: The Other Family of Sorts

This isn't good. What should I do? There are three of them; it's a small space. They obviously have the advantage.

I could feint an attack and put a hole through the wall and run for it. That's really my only option for escape. I can't take all three at once. These people are—

"Now, now, Leaf-nin-chan. There's no need for all the intense inner monologuing. We're not going to hurt you."

Sakura's eyes narrowed on the grinning man before her. "You almost took my head off two seconds ago!"

"Mah, mah," Suigetsu hummed, waving his hand lazily. "A twitch. It was just a twitch. I didn't mean it."

"Well, you'll forgive me for being slightly uncomfortable with being in close quarters with someone who has such an unfortunate medical affliction," she snapped back, keeping wary eyes on the sword her nearest opponent was hefting with such disturbing ease.

"Aw." He feigned a hurt puppy look. "You know, for a medic-nin, your bedside manner kind of sucks."

"You're not my patient! And my bedside manner is just fine! Jerk."

"Tch. You're seriously tarnishing my image of Leaf-nin, Leaf-nin-chan," he cajoled, shaking his head as he "tsk, tsked" her. "Even Mighty Good Leader is softer than that."

"Oh, I'm sure he is," she mumbled under her breath, rolling her eyes.

"He is!" Karin insisted, her arms akimbo and her tone firm. "You would know that if you had anything to do with him—but, that's right! You don't. Because he has us now, and we do know."

"Just because he has something new doesn't necessarily mean he traded up," Sakura muttered to the side, sighing mutely.

"Excuse me?!"

"Ha!" Suigetsu laughed, watching Karin's face with amusement. "Well, if you're talking about you two, I completely agree with you there, Leaf-nin-chan! This beast can't top a flower."

"Suigetsu! Shut the hell up!" the redhead screamed, cuffing him up the back of the head.

"You shut up!" the male shot back, swiping at her retreating arm. "You're not the boss of me, woman! Boss Man is!" A mischievous grin split his lips before he added, "Now, I'd believe that you're a man, but—"

With a howl of rage, Karin drop kicked Suigetsu in the face, which began an awkward scuffle between the two. A window broke. A few shelves fell from the walls.

Juugo watched them for a few moments, defeat slumping his shoulders a few degrees as he realized it would be up to him to stop this before it became a full-on battle to the death. Yes. The man who was prone to intense homicidal fits due to what basically amounted to a split personality was the level-headed one in their group. How sad were they?

"Suigetsu. Karin," Juugo called out, his deep voice reverberating off the shaking walls, as the two ninja attempted to decapitate each other. "We're supposed to be watching Sakura-san, not giving her openings to slip out by infighting."

Karin paused in her assault on Suigetsu's face with her boot, as their third teammate's words made her consider the consequences of losing their prisoner due to something as foolish as the situation they were currently in. Oooohh... There would be ticking eyebrows, she was sure. And a Death-to-All! © glare, no doubt. And possibly (gulp) verbal non-words of discontent, that were so much worse than actual worded threats. He would be pissed. That would be so hot...

While Karin got lost in her strange, strange world of angry, aggressive, perverted Sasukes, Suigetsu took that opportunity to remove himself from under the woman's boot and hopped up to his feet, massaging his scratched up face.

"That's right," he grunted, dusting himself off. "Can't let our little Leafy-chan fly off, now." Then he turned to Karin and added, "You know, watch dogs are more useful outside than in. So get to it."

"Just die you—!" she screeched, leaping with fingers poised to scratch her enemy's eyes out. He managed to dodge the fingers but was clipped by her knee, and thus began round two.

In his corner, Juugo face-palmed, as he quietly shook his head.

While half of the infamous Team Hebi fought like a couple of rabid ferrets in heat, Sakura chose that opportunity to make her getaway. The wall was only three feet away. All she need do was step over and crush a mere eight inches of concrete and she would be free to flee. Easy.

"Sakura-san. I know what you're thinking and I would ask that you not follow through with it."

She let out a frustrated sigh, before turning to face Juugo, who was much closer than he had been a moment ago. For a big guy, he sure was quick and quiet.

It's always the quiet ones. They're the ones you need to watch.

The tall man's words must have alerted the other two to what they were missing, because their fight soon petered out in a smattering of slaps and hisses, before they put some distance between themselves and stole glances at Sakura, between evil eye staring contests with each other.

Setting her hands on her hips, Sakura stayed where she was, now a mere foot from the wall. They would have to drag her away from her spot; there was no way she was giving up the ground their squabble had allowed her to gain.

"What am I even here for, anyway?" she asked, her irritation quite obvious. "You're not grilling me for information, so what's the goal?"

"You asked El Capitan that already and he didn't tell you anything. What makes you think we'll tell you?" Suigetsu answered cheekily, while making a rude gesture at Karin.

The medic huffed quietly. "You don't know, do you?"

"Haven't got a clue," he answered easily, giving a sharp-toothed grin. "But my guess is, he just wanted something pretty to look at for a change." He made a distasteful face in Karin's direction.

Instead of leaping into a rage, the woman just scowled daggers of pure hate at her teammate and crossed her arms tighter across her chest before turning away, clearly cheesed off.

"She agrees," he added, thumbing in the redhead's direction.

"Suigetsu," the bespectacled kunoichi called out, ever so sweetly, a smile masking the venom she was about to spew. "I can't wait until you bite the dust. I'm going to live next to where you're buried so I can desecrate your grave every morning."

He returned the sickeningly sweet smile and responded in an equally sweet voice, "Oh, Karin. When you die, I pray that you go to heaven. Because, though I'm going to hell, I know I can endure anything it offers, as long as you're nowhere in sight."

Sakura shook her head, mouth slightly agape. "Your camaraderie is awe-inspiring," she said quietly.

"We're tight," Juugo nodded, the flatness of his voice matching Sakura's.

Chakra had been slowly amassing in Sakura's fist, which she kept hidden behind her back. Just a little more and she would have enough to—

"Sakura-san," Juugo spoke, his tone almost a sigh. "We will not allow you to escape. If you become violent, we will have to restrain you."

"Yeah, yeah," Suigetsu called out from his new spot on a rickety chair in the far corner. "And I might take a few fingers as payment for our trouble." He flashed a toothy grin, those sharp teeth gleaming.

Karin snorted quietly. "Go for it, Suigetsu. I'm sure there won't be any horrible repercussions when Sasuke-kun gets back and finds out you mangled the prisoner."

"I'm pretty sure Sasuke-san would not be pleased if he returned to find her missing fingers," Juugo answered slowly, his wide brow furrowing at the thought, as it conjured unbidden images of more than just chopping a few fingers, but chopping limbs and ripping flesh and killingkillkillkill— He shook his head and breathed deep. He could not lose control now. Sasuke wasn't here to stop it for him. He had to remain calm. Nice and calm. As long as no major violence occurred, he would be fine. He could handle it.

Oh, who was he kidding? If Suigetsu so much as gave someone a paper cut, he would lose it.

The swordsman was still defending his right to fresh fingers, as he insisted, "Admiral Angst didn't tell me I couldn't, though."

"Exactly," Karin agreed, nodding sagely. "I say try it out. I'm sure you won't be dead within the first two minutes of Sasuke-kun's return."

Their tall teammate gave a final shake of his head. "His menacing glare, right after you mentioned it the first time, did."

A longsuffering sigh pulled itself from the blue-haired male's frame. "He's such a spoilsport."

"Still, the dullard that you are can't be expected to be able to comprehend all of his nonverbal commands," the redhead insisted. "You could plead idiocy when he asks for an explanation."

Turning to the woman, Suigetsu said, "You know, you'd be an accessory if I did. And what would you plead? Hideousness? It's a good defence for you, but I don't think Oyabun-sama would go for it."

A resounding crash interrupted Karin's retort, as the floor shook and dust billowed throughout the room. Natural light filtered through the dust cloud, from a fresh hole in the previously pristine wall.

"Juugo?!"

"I have her!" he shouted. "Don't worry about it."

Shuffling through the debris, Suigetsu squatted down to study Sakura, who was pinned to the messy floor by Juugo's mutated arms.

"You're a tricky one, aren't ya?" He grinned for the umpteenth time, letting his shark teeth flash in the sunlight.

"Tricky?!" the pinkhead scoffed. "You two give me so many openings with your arguing, I'd be retarded not to take them!"

"True, I guess." He shrugged, straightening back up. "Unfortunately for you, Juugo is a pacifist. He won't get distracted and he's very determined to do as Captain Conniption says. In short, Leafy-chan, you won't be getting away."

She didn't answer, but continued to stew internally, as she started to her feet. Noticing the strange appendages restraining her, she raised a brow at the tall man they belonged to.

"Another one of Orochimaru's curse seals?"

He seemed to blanch slightly, as a small struggle within his mind showed in his eyes. "...Something like that..." he mumbled, before moving away a few steps.

She didn't ask anything more, but proceeded to shake debris out of her hair and clothes.

This was getting embarrassing. Stuck in some abandoned building with three replacements and the replacer wasn't even there! Off on some unfathomable trek that was only justified in his twisted mind, no doubt.

Ordering them to keep her there until he returned. What a joke. So help her, if he came back only to look at her with that infuriatingly blank gaze and say some retarded crap about having cut his bonds and telling her to stop chasing him, in that frustratingly vapid voice, she. would. snap. Not only was she tired of hearing that speech, she would be royally pissed that he had kept her freaking prisoner just so he could tell her something she had heard a thousand times before.

Oh, it had better not be that stupid speech again... I'll scream. I will seriously scream at him if he does. Stupid boy. Stupid pretty boy. Stupid pretty boy and his stupid purple rope-bow belt. I will tell him that. I'll tell him he's stupid. And pretty. No—not pretty. Just stupid. And I'll tell him his belt is stupid too, and most certainly not pretty. Yes. If he gives me that speech, I'll tell him that, and I'll tell him that I'll stop chasing him only if he gets a stylist to correct his horrible fashion choices. Oh, now I hope that stupid boy gives me that stupid speech, while he's wearing that stupid belt. It'll serve him right, shannaro!

"Leafy-chan," Suigetsu drawled, lazily swinging his sword a few feet away. "With such a malevolent expression, I can't help but think you're planning on escaping again, and that simply will not do. We won't be distracted like that again, and so that only leaves you with one option. And are you really going to take on all three of us at once?"

Her eyes narrowed, as her shoulders bunched slightly at the hidden insult. "If I have to," she answered defiantly, meeting his smiling gaze with as much confidence as she could pretend to possess. Hadn't she already ruled that option out? But she couldn't let them think she was some pushover. She would fight them if it came to it. She was just hoping that the escape option worked before then.

"Look. Just the fact that you haven't put up a truly violent struggle yet, says that you trust Sir High an' Migh'y not to hurt you when he gets back, which means you don't feel nearly as threatened as you want us to think you are, which means you don't really have any intention of fighting us, because you don't entirely believe that you're in danger here. Face it; we make you feel safe."

Sakura's eyes nearly popped out of her head at his words. "Safe?! You have me prisoner—!"

"Pfft! Prisoner, she says!" he exclaimed with a laugh. Leaning in close, he continued, "If you were my prisoner, you'd be hogtied and missing a few fingers already. Meanwhile, you don't even have your hands immobilized. All you have to do is sit pretty until Mighty Good Leader returns. Then your situation might shift from guest to prisoner, depending on his mood, hormone levels, and how long it's been since he's eaten. You know, I find that he's a lot easier to approach just after he's had his meal. Calms his rage right down."

"You're insane, if you think I'm going to just "sit pretty" until Sasuke-kun gets back. I have things to do."

He watched her with calculating eyes. "But... Aren't you one of those Leaf-nins who are trying to get him back?"

Her reply was hesitant: He actually knew who she was, what she was about? "...Yes."

"Well, then isn't it better for you to stay? No more perfect opportunity for you, is there?"

There was nothing for her to say to that. It was a perfect opportunity. The reasons for her to capitalize on this situation far outweighed the reasons against.

Having been watching her rapidly shifting facial expressions as she ran through her options and came to her decision, Suigetsu flashed another winning smile and said, "It's settled then! You can try to run away after El Capitan returns."

"Actually, I would suggest that you not attempt to run then, either, Sakura-san," Juugo commented, from his post between her and the new exit she had created in the wall. "Sasuke-san is quite fast. You would only succeed in annoying him."

"Well, it wouldn't be the first time," she muttered ruefully. "And it would serve him right. He has certainly annoyed me with all this." Her furrowed gaze cast about at her surroundings, clearly displeased.

Suigetsu shuffled through one of the packs in the corner before he turned around and said, "Well, since Boss Man has decided I need to babysit you, how's about a good, wholesome game of strip poker?" He waved a deck of cards as he waggled his light brows suggestively.

Juugo looked torn between being scandalized and being terrified. "Do you want him to torture you into an agonizing death?"

"What he doesn't know won't hurt me," Suigetsu answered with a shrug.

"Oh, he'll know about it," Karin muttered under her breath. She then added, in a louder voice, "So I say go for it!" while pleasant images of Sasuke chopping a screaming Suigetsu into itty bitty pieces danced about in her mind.

Sakura stared, with eyebrows raised high, at the bluehead before her. "You're kidding," she blurted out.

"No. I'm pretty much serious here." He nodded his head, agreeing with himself. "After staring at that dog over there for so long," he gestured at Karin, "I'm concerned my libido may have died. You'll be helping me revive it. Are you nervous about me seeing you all exposed?" His grin turned slightly lascivious at the comment.

"No," she sniffed. "I wouldn't lose."

"Uncomfortable with seeing a man naked?" The grin became even more lewd.

She scoffed at the other ninja's attempts at embarrassing her. "I'm around naked people for a large part of the day," she replied, matter-of-factly.

"Really?" He seemed genuinely surprised by that bit of information. "What, do you work in a strip club, or something?"

"She's a medic, you retard!" Karin shouted, staring at her hated teammate in incredulity. "Where do you think she works?"

The male hesitated a few moments, his mind clearly having difficulty leaving the strip club theory. But, it did eventually hit home, as he slowly hummed, "...Oohhh, the hospital! Right!" Flashing a smile, as though that erased the entire misunderstanding, he got back to the topic at hand. "So? What do you say?" A crisp "fwwwiiip" sound followed his words, as he thumbed the cards.

With a decisive thought she answered, "You should turn up the heat, because you're going to be very chilly in a few minutes," before plunking herself down on the floor, where they would play—round two of Karin and Suigetsu's brawl had claimed the room's only table as collateral damage.

"Oh ho? So confident, Leafy-chan!" he commented, seating himself across from her before beginning to deal. "I'll have you know, this is a man's game, and as such, I will be the one winning here."

"Chauvinism won't make up for lack of skill, you know."

"You'll see, Leafy-chan. You'll see."


Five rounds in, and things weren't looking too hot for Suigetsu, though they were looking exceptionally hot for anyone who was interested in male anatomy. (Karin claimed that she was going outside to check the perimeter, but that didn't explain why a red head kept popping up and then ducking down outside the windows, the face aflame in a blush.)

"Feeling the heat yet, Babysitter-san?" Sakura goaded, rearranging her cards. "Oh, that's right! With what little you have on, you're probably freezing! We could start a fire, if you'd like."

"I'm fine, Leafy-chan," the swordsman gritted out, barely hiding the shiver that was futilely attempting to shake off the cold that was assailing his bared body. He would not give her the satisfaction! He was going to win this! There would be hotness to be had today! And it would come in the form of a naked or semi-naked girl, so help him Kubikiri Hocho!

From the sidelines, Juugo had been watching the entire game, being quite intrigued by it, since he had never seen it played before. It seemed slightly ridiculous to him—what would Sakura-san or Suigetsu want with clothing for the opposite sex? It seemed a strange thing to play for.

Whatever his intentions were, Suigetsu was clearly having his butt handed to him. He had been so confident at the start, yet there he was, shivering in nothing but blue, frog printed boxers.

"You're cheating and you're still losing," Juugo mumbled, as he leaned over to peek at Suigetsu's hand. He had no idea if what he was looking at was a high or low hand, but he was compelled to study it anyway. There seemed to be a lot of black, a lot of spades, and oddly enough, they were numbered in sequence, though Suigetsu didn't have them arranged as such. Casting a sceptical look at his teammate, he asked, "Have you even played this game before?"

"Of course I have!" Suigetsu snapped back, with a huff. He continued to rearrange his cards, apparently unable to decide where to stick that six of spades. "And just because I'm losing doesn't mean I'm losing," he continued, suddenly finding a need to defend his poker prowess. "I'm just lulling her into a false sense of comfort, before I pounce! I have her right where I want her. Soon, I'll turn the tables on her, and she won't know what hit her. Oh, those clothes will come off, all right. Yes they will." He chuckled quietly, a queer look in his eye as he grinned at his waiting opponent.

"Are you going to be ready sometime this century, Frog Boy?" she hummed, tapping the floor with a fingertip.

"Oh, I've been ready for a while, Leafy-chan. I was just giving you some time to enjoy the warmth of your clothes before I take them from you."

"Mmhmm. Let's see it, then."

Suigetsu set down his cards with a showy flourish. "Straight flush, dear Leaf-nin-chan! A straight flush of victory! Now take 'em off!"

Sakura jerked slightly, eyeing the other player's cards carefully. The worry in her eyes was exactly what Suigetsu had been waiting for. Who was feeling the heat now?!

The look vanished in an instant as the pinkhead smiled downright evilly and set her cards on the floor for all to see: a royal straight flush. "Annnd that would mean your lovely frog gitch is now mine."

A flash of red and a muffled moan of, "Oh, yes! Take it all off!" came from outside the window to her right.

"BUT!" she quickly continued, seeing the male begin to disrobe a little too eagerly for Sakura's comfort. "Seeing as I'm in a particularly generous mood and the game is over anyway, you may keep that on your person." It was more of an order than it was an offer.

"Yes ma'am," Suigetsu spoke demurely, as he pulled the waistband up higher, to which an agonizing moan of, "Nooo! Show momma the love!" sounded from just outside the hole in the wall.

As luck would have it, Mighty Good Leader himself decided to return at that particular moment and was greeted with the sight of a nearly demolished room that was sporting a new exit that hadn't been there before, and Sakura tossing a mass of clothing in the face of a near-naked Suigetsu, who was straightening his underwear. Bewildering? Yes. Yes it was.

Noticing Sasuke's return, Suigetsu grinned easily, apparently not noticing how this situation looked from the other man's view from the door, as he pulled on his pants and pointed at Sakura, commenting, "She's good! She is good!"

Sasuke blinked a few times at the grinning man, suffering through one of those rare moments in life where absolutely no thought exists in your mind, and you're left to stare listlessly about until Reality deigns to raise its blessed hand and slap you in the face with something that, thankfully, makes sense.

Because, really, what was he supposed to think? He came in and was met with the glaring sight of Sakura with a naked man. Where was his mind supposed to go with that scenario? Certainly not into any territory that Sasuke wanted to visit.

Thankfully, Reality's backhand came crashing down on Sasuke's consciousness before it could venture into that territory known as "Horrible, Horrible—and Awkward—Misunderstandings." It came in the form of a pile of cards strewn across the floor in front of Sakura's cross-legged form, and a side comment made by Juugo, to Suigetsu.

"So, when exactly did you turn the tables on her? Because I'm fairly certain this would be considered a flawless victory in her favour."

"I almost had her," the swordsman grumbled, fighting with his tangled up shirt.

"You didn't even win so much as her arm guard," Juugo insisted, giving the other man a reproachful look. "It's a good thing you weren't playing for money; she would have cleaned you out. And you're lucky she's nice; she didn't have to give you your clothes back, you know. She technically owns them now."

The cards...

They were betting clothes...

A little light of understanding went on in Sasuke's head.

They were playing strip poker and Sakura obviously took Suigetsu for all he was worth, thus the near-nakedness. That was all. Nothing majorly inappropriate... No need for killing intent or for killing period.

Still...

Sasuke's eyes narrowed ever so slightly on the now-dressed swordsman.

Note to self: Never leave Suigetsu alone with Sakura ever again.

Glancing at Sakura from the corner of his eye, his thoughts started whirring yet again.

Second note to self: Learn how to play strip poker.

Guttersnipe's Word: Yes. Team Hawk is semi-related to them, too...I guess. I mean, if Sai counts... They're like the cousins you don't really know that well and don't really want to know well and you're not really comfortable with them, but your mom says that they're family and you have to treat them like you care and makes you feel guilty if you don't go to their weddings, even though, as stated earlier, you don't know them that well and don't feel comfortable with them, and then one of your siblings decides to move to the town where they live and gets in good with them, so then you're left with this, like, obligation to be closer and friendlier and cosier with them, all because your freaking brother had to go and draw them in to your part of the family, so that now you're stuck sitting through some soul-numbing account of some person's kid's friend's cousin's aunt's dog's previous owner's sister's ordeals with faulty coffee makers and wishing on every star, horseshoe, and green leafy thing that could pass for a four-leaf clover that you see, for some cataclysmic event to crash down upon you and force you to return to your home and prevents you from ever being able to visit them ever again. But you'll write. Of course you'll write...