I foresee something…

Kankuro: You'll trip over your two feet?

Me: -whap- It's not that, you ass. No.

Kankuro: A squirrel will bite your wrist off.

Me: -mega whap- Oh, shut up.

Kankuro: So, what is it?

Me: 10,000 in 28 Days is gonna be over soon.

Kankuro: -Homer howl- Alright!

Me: And, I— -trip- Ouch.

Kankuro: You tripped! Stupid!

Me: I-It was a coincidence! Plus— -squirrel comes out of nowhere and devilishly grins-

Kankuro: Ohohoho.

Me: Shoot it! Shoot it, damn it!

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.

Chapter Summary:

A centimeter away was the Manor. And they hadn't slowed down at the very least. We're gonna die!

NOTE: Read Author's Note at the end. :)


Jazz. No, Coffeehouse Blues. What else…

She's all I could read when I blinked my eyes open from where I was. For once, I was psychic. As if I had her memorized. Past tables, past customers, past the whole damn world just to get to me. I knew she'd come. And I knew her name, strangely. I wouldn't need to ask.

"Good afternoon," sophisticated as I may sound, I was euphoric as a child when she approached my spot. Lord, let her hand brush against mine, even just a little bit. I want to die happy. "What'll it be, beautiful?"

A sliver of a smile crawled onto her face. "Amazing," she mused, "I never thought polite baristas would still exist in this point of evolution." With a glide of her hand, she took out her tucked wallet from her pocket. I knew that skirt. I got it for her, not long ago. 'Bubbles Corp'/'Pugz'. Black, pink and sky blue clash. Frills and lace swim in a race. It smells like her. I could tell from where I was.

"A tall glass of double mint chocolate chip. Don't hold back on the whipped cream," she ordered, covering a smile behind her prim fingers. Ah, mint chocolate. No wonder she tastes like it. Punching in the order, I hummed to the saxophone on the radio. Reminds me of too many to mention.

She handed me the cash before I could even tell her the amount needed. She comes here too often. Oddly reluctant, I took the bills and told her as I tinkled with the cash register, "I'm guessing that'd be for here?"

"No," she murmured through the contents of her back pocket, "I'm actually in a hurry," It didn't look like it. Her beam underwent a metamorphosis. "I need to get somewhere soon. I just needed a quick mix to help me make it. I'm so excited, I can hardly contain myself!" It showed, indeed. And it picked on my curiosity.

I held out to her the drink as soon as an employee laid it onto the counter. "Where to?" I tried not to ask. I couldn't help myself.

She grasped the dewy plastic cup, between my rough fingers, and when a giggle slithered from her lips, everything slowed down. The coffeehouse blues became snail-paced. I stopped breathing. Unconsciously, I peered at our semi-joined fingers, questioning the presence of… a foreign distance… within our reach… between my reach…

An engagement ring. A diamond on a band of gold.

Her sentence strangled me: "I'm on my way to my wedding."

I choked in response. I've met her in another life, in some sort of dreamy jaunt I have tried to forget. But, maybe if I had loved her enough in that one lifetime, in that one chance, maybe she wouldn't be ordering drinks from me but rather looking forward to meeting me in that church.

A second once-in-a-lifetime… I need one… badly…I'm sorry, Tenten. Really sorry…

"He's coming to!"

The scream sent Blue Gun Shot off of the desktop she was comfortably slouched on, sending her down with stacks of spreadsheets. "By God, you had better be sure this time, Yamanaka!" she growled, pulling herself up from the neglected carpet, "That's the nth time you've gotten me off of that desk!" And if it's a false alarm, maybe she'll settle with sitting on the floor afterwards.

Inoichi shook his head in wonder, "This time, I'm sure of what I see," he told her, motioning for her to come nearer to the improvised hospital bed where Neji rested, "See, you can even see that he's already blinking!" Like Darwin after finding a chimp say a nursery word, Inoichi gazed down eagerly at his subject.

Entering further the laboratory, Hanabi found Konohamaru at the foot of the bed, snoring. He's been out like a light, like a log, for the last twenty-four hours. She figured he couldn't handle so much work, being just the bird's caretaker back at the headquarters.

"Wake up, luv," she gave him a nudge, her efforts in vain, "Come on, Konohamaru, get your ass off of the floor, damn you."

Inoichi kept his stare at the immobile but conscious Neji as Hanabi continued to try to get her accomplice to rise. Unfortunately, she had gotten impatient. "Wake up, bastard!" she shrieked as she kicked his ribs with too much force. It sent him yelping and hitting his head against the side of the bed. And the sudden movement startled Neji to his seat.

"Aha!" Inoichi squealed as he watched Neji rub his eyes, "My elixir works! It works!" He gave the beaker of his creation a slobbery smack while he exclaimed joyous screeches, "Proclaim me a genius to the world! The world of genetic engineering can reserve a spot for me once again! I won't be stuck in forensics for long!" But before he could continue his rejoicing, Hanabi grabbed him by the collar.

Her glare tore Inoichi up, down to the tip of his sunny ponytail, "Oh, no you don't, Yamanaka," she growled, sadistically depressing her fingernails into his facial pores, as if to rip off his face clean, "I don't care if it's scientists' etiquette to announce every damn discovery to the rest of the world, but there must not be a single word about this mess."

"B-But, think of the Pulitzer! The millions of reward money from the departments of science! From CERN! The fame! I could have my own office in Europe and actually not have to pay rent!" His subtle wrinkles wept with him. He was throwing away a chance to transform from Dr. Inoichi Yamanaka to the Dr. Inoichi Yamanaka.

Blue Gun Shot merely grinned, her fangs peering from the sides of her lips, "You're a self-proclaimed whiz kid, anyway. I'm sure you can make this same liquid after we take it," It was true, though, that Inoichi was nearly as intellectual and inventive as Leeuwenhoek. The world just had to stop regarding him as a crazy boy playing with test tubes and Bunsen burners.

Being on the safe side, Hanabi grabbed the beaker he held and sealed it. "I'll be confiscating this, in case you get any of your psychotic ideas to rush to Einstein's grave and pour every drop of the gunk in." She didn't like the thought of zombie brain-freaks invading the universe. Not again.

Konohamaru watched Neji observe his surroundings. He was glad it didn't look anything like Hinata's lair would be. Still, it reminded him of Hannibal Lecter. All the same, his mind was still on a rampage: Tenten isn't in his sight.

"You shouldn't even try that," Konohamaru warned Neji as he proceeded to throw his legs over the bed's edge to get up, "It's been more then forty-eight hours since you fell into the waters and arrived here. Your body's still pretty weak. Hey, hey! That's my gun! Aw, Hanabi, come on, your cousin's walking away with my Scorpion!"

"Neji!" Hanabi yelled out, tailing him as he limped through the office. Finally, she took him by the shoulder, firmly keeping him grounded on the spot, "I know where Tenten is. Don't worry. Hinata hasn't hurt her. She's like a hostage, maybe. She wants you to go to them, so she can deal with you. You know the—"

"Hostage!" he exclaimed, still gripping the Scorpion. Konohamaru nervously watched over Neji's trigger finger. Dear lord, please keep him from pulling on it! "Hinata does not take people to keep as hostages! It's not in our natural propriety to! Especially her!" He felt a surge of blood in his arms, realizing that he should've heeded to Konohamaru's concern, "She takes people… in order to use them."

Blue Gun Shot snatched the submachine gun from his frail fingers, taking it slowly since he was still pretty thin-skinned from the incident, "So you're afraid that Black Ivory would use her against you?" There was a humongous possibility that it's what Hinata plans to do. Taking someone's most precious loved one and turning him/her against the opponent is an overrated strategy… but it takes a lot to make it successful.

"What else?"

"Knowing Tenten, she'd have her own escape plan by now. And you're stronger than Black Ivory. Well, at least till you've recovered at least half of your charisma," she bluntly said, hoping it'd get him to reconsider resting first before bursting back into the scene. To her respite from the intensity, Blue Gun Shot was too delighted to see his tense muscles cease for now. She turned to Konohamaru behind them, "Take the rest of these that Yamanaka made."

Obediently, Konohamaru turned to the counter by the experimentation station, noticing how Yamanaka wanted to halt him so badly. Inoichi knew better, though. It was either that or he'd run away with his work but get shot in the middle of his getaway. As Konohamaru gathered most of what was left of the beakers, Hanabi was ready to bark out more orders, like for a transportation mean from the Org…

… Suddenly, Blue Gun Shot sensed the Scorpion fading from her grasp.

"Eagle Eye! You!" her voice barely reached his ears. Even the beaker she confiscated was taken. Was he a pickpocket before? She had realized it more than a second too late. He was already running out of Inoichi's door, down the slippery hall of the camp, "Oh, when I get my hands on you, you son of a—!"

The sound of breaking glass and the opening of a once-locked fire exit jolted her. Turning around, she found the lab in a jumble bigger than it used to be. Unknown substances swam across the floor tiles, glittering. A liquid started to burn its way through the cement. Worst of all, Inoichi was forcing himself through the jerked-open fire exit, accommodating a few beakers in a messenger bag.

Slightly confused, Hanabi rushed to Konohamaru's side as he clasped Inoichi's ankle, hoping to delay his flight. "Is that your daughter's bag, Mr. Yamanaka?" Konohamaru asked out of nowhere, taking note of the bag's feminine hue of spunky purple and the embroidered flowers on the strap.

"My wife's, actually!" he responded as he tried desperately to kick Konohamaru away, "Now let go!"

Lending him one of her Berettas, Blue Gun Shot questioned Konohamaru as she offered a hefty pull, making Inoichi squirm nosier, "Can you handle this old man, luv?" She heaved again, making Inoichi shriek. She assumed it'd hurt, no doubt about it. Quickly, she tucked in a case of her sapphire bullets into Konohamaru's pocket, in case he needs it.

"Of course," he answered, confident in himself, "Just catch Eagle Eye Neji. He's in no state for running around with that gun and 'power drink'. You go after him and if he really thinks he can take it, let him go to Black Ivory. Just watch over him often, alright?" He nuzzled his nose against hers, making her rumple her nose, "Take care, luv."

"Remember to shoot like a man," Hanabi gave him a last reminder before she sped her steps up in order to catch up with Neji. With my delay, I might not get to him soon. He could be outside of the facility now, since we knocked out all reinforcements when we got here. Seeing that this place isn't governmentally supported, back-up security wouldn't be arriving till tomorrow night.

As for Neji, he ran out of breath sooner than he had anticipated. Hoping the medicine would help in any way, he popped the stopper from the beaker's mouth and gulped down a fourth of his supply. The mafia's medical requirements have trusted Inoichi. This couldn't hurt him, if it revived him as he had heard Inoichi claim.

Neji just wasn't sure of what would come up next, after he had finally gotten away from here.


…These lines of lightning mean we're never alone… never alone. No, no! …

"Oh, I know this song!"


"Ulp. Sorry."

Sasuke rolled his eyes. He knew this song, too. Accidentally in Love. By some band he had forgotten the name of. Something like Counting Ravens or Drawing Crows or Writing Magpies. He has truly forgotten. On the last time he heard that song, he was enjoying a karaoke night with a few colleagues, including Rose Pierce, celebrating their victory against a tropical murder investigation. And he had sung that song for her.

Now, years after that moment, he was hearing that song all over again. He was tempted to hum it. He would if he wasn't crawling through a ceiling pathway with Rose Pierce, a piece of his past, a bartender half-time smuggler thief, Ino and her houseboy, Shikamaru. Nonetheless, he had time to ponder on the lyrics once again, how so many people are so… accidentally in love.

"Are we there yet, Ino?" Rose whispered behind Ino's arse wrapped in the neon wetsuit-style mini skirt she had on, "Or were you too engrossed in that stupid song to even remember you had any sense of direction? Oh, wait…" Rose paused, faking a tone that screamed innocent, "You don't have a sense of direction, do you?"

"Like you do!" Ino screamed at her, turning around to find Rose with her tongue stuck out at her, "Shut the fuck up, you Nose-Job Reject! I'm the one with the keys! Now it's either you follow my lead or pave your own way and get lost! What'll it be, you mother fu—"

Seeing how their chances of ever getting caught had increased (by 62 percent, perhaps), Sasuke shot them an admonition, "Girls, listen. We have to get going. I really don't give so much of a damn if you're going to throw insults at each other, but can you do it after the dilemma we're dealing with? It'll do all of us a great favor." His ebony orbs held them coldly.

Rose simply nodded after sending Ino a murmured offense: "Liposuction addict." On the other hand, Ino flashed a naïve beam at Sasuke. But when she heard Rose's mumble, she snarled back a foul remark: "Whatever, Bust-lift Cretin." Shikamaru could only stifle a sigh as he stayed at the end of the line, This is more troublesome than it sounded on the phone.

About three hours ago, during the bar's happy hour, Rose Pierce contacted Ino's direct line hesitantly. Calling up a colleague for help is normal. But when you call up the colleague who backstabbed you by aiding in spreading rumors about you and your private life, try to realize that it is something you don't always want to jump into. Always think twice about it. No, thrice.

Sasuke and Rose had found a crucial document to Tenten's financial problem, despite her being born to a rich man: A certificate of inheritance. A last will and testament could've done the trick, but the certificate was enough. The certificate shocked them, making Rose shudder in repugnance at Old Man Masaki's injustice towards his daughter: Masaki's fortune, when he dies, goes to his wife—who had already moved away and started a new life. Imagine the aged woman's luck to lose her husband early in their arranged marriage.

In order to further assist after their certificate finding, the two decided to enter the Manor. So, they needed Ino's keys, the ones she stole from the government. It opened any door within the city's premises, the ultimate skeleton key. And they needed them to open a few secret passageways such as the ceiling pathway they were now using. With the help of Rose Pierce's blueprints, they had managed to make it this far. If only the girls wouldn't ruin their cover…

"Here," Ino signaled them to stop as she peered through the cracks underneath her knees. Through these, she saw Harumi, coiled in chains with her feet shrouded in what seemed to be once a white cloth. If it weren't for the blotches of red on it, Ino wouldn't be so worried about the woman. "Is this the lady you guys were talking about? Harumi?"

Rose pushed her out of the way and scampered towards the crack below them. "I guess," she shrugged, not recognizing the woman, "We'll never know. The Harumi we saw in the documents about the mafia was a way younger woman. I mean, she still had black hair and less wrinkles—"

"That should be her!" Sasuke interfered, wondering if Rose had forgotten that her documents on the mafia dated almost nearly thirty years ago, "People age, so of course she's not the same woman in the files. I can faintly see silver eyes. The Hyugas' trademark, if I'm correct. Want to take a bet?"

"More than willing," Rose mumbled as she snapped her watch from her slim wrist. After a twist of a knob and a click of a few buttons, a minute, battery-operated chainsaw popped out of the watch's face and whirred to Rose's liking. It was one of her favorites, since it used to tease Sasuke back then. Carefully, she let the moving blades touch the crack, chunking the pieces off with satisfying twinkles.

"Easy does it, Rose," Shikamaru tried to help at the very least, since the ceiling could collapse underneath them and destroy everything, "We don't want anything falling apart imprudently." He couldn't give himself a rest. Even if this chick called herself a proficient agent, letting a woman do her thing without constant warning is like telling Ino not to drink so much after she has gotten drunk.

Chunks of peeling paint and the thin wood that served as the ceiling path's floor flew at Rose's face, making her flinch every now and then. Her worry wasn't for anything foreign getting into her eye. It was the possibility of losing a finger. I've seen enough blood on this mission already, Rose thought bitterly to herself, I don't think I'd like to see mine splattered.

To her dismay, the wood she was working on was beginning to give up. "Oh, shit, not yet!" Rose squeaked as she took the watch away from the woodwork, "Don't fall apart, please! No, no." She felt herself take her hold on Sasuke's arm as the wood groaned. She heard Ino swear in Italian (something worthwhile she has learned from her father) as Shikamaru prepared himself for anything. Sasuke was more concerned of what they'd meet below.

But then, silence crept in. To their luck, the wood had shut up. Before they could breathe a gust of relief, though, two creaks cracked through the wood gap Rose was working on. The wood had timing, to be so inanimate but to have a mischievous quirk to give things away.

A scream or two escaped from them as the wood collapsed beneath them, making them fall into the room they were eyeing through a tiny looking-hole not long ago. Chips of wood and dust shrouded them as they rubbed their eyes and their aching bodies. "Oh, gawd," Ino moaned, coughing from the grime, "Good job, Hair-Dye Moron, you just got us into a heap of trouble."

Before them was indeed an elder woman, her mouth stuffed with cloth. Only muffled screams came from her mouth as she tried to squirm out of the chains at their sight. They swore there were blobs of tears in her squinted eyes, behind her wrinkles. The song was playing, somewhere in this room, but they could not detect where it came from. Insignificant as it seemed, Sasuke didn't take any chances. He knew when to be suspicious. Why would they leave a radio playing? In this room—

"Are you alright, Harumi?" Rose asked as she carefully wedged her fingers between the lips of the woman to free her speech, "Are you bleeding?" Rose's first initiative was to ask if she was fine, for it was her training. Ino's schooling taught her that the first thing to look for in such a situation was something alcoholic. Shikamaru, on the other hand, observed the surroundings.

But Sasuke was the first to realize anything wrong. "What is this place?" First of all, he wondered, why are the only light sources from between the cracks of the walls, ceiling and door hinges? Did Hinata purposely do it to conceal Harumi? But it didn't seem right. She didn't need to do that, unless—

Once her mouth was freed from the balled cloth, Harumi blurt out in a panicky, croaky tone, "Pl-Pleasssse g-het outt …of here—! …H-Hav-v-ve to go-o! S-So-ong-ng-ng ends, this roo-m-m! It'll-!" She paused in hyperventilation. The anxiety attack was going to kill the woman's heart before the excessive bleeding does.

"What?!" Ino shrieked, trying to calm her down, "It'll what? Explode? What?!"

Shikamaru responded as he walked towards a wall. He pressed his ear against it, checking its hollowness and if there was anyone on the other side. When the vital signs he checked for were assuring, he was sure that he heard water outside. Gulls. But the birds were seemingly distant, as if they were not supposed to be there. And then, Shikamaru found the source of the song, from listening to the rest of the world…

"Shit." It was all he said, making everyone turn behind them and find something strapped to the farthest wall. Black, bold numbers didn't glow as it counted down silently along with the song, its countdown. A device the size of a portable shredder smiled at them. "It's not a bomb. It can't be a bomb." A bomb would be too damaging. They were inside the Manor. Hinata wouldn't plant a bomb in her little base camp.

"I-It's…" Harumi wheezed, supported by Ino's arms, "It's H-H-Hina… Hinata…s…"

"Get a hold on your breath!" Sasuke urged Harumi, pressuring her to fight back her anxiety, "Speak up! You have to! Do you know how to stop that—whatever it is? If you do, tell us now before anything happens!" He watched Rose give Harumi's chains a forceful tug, hoping her blood circulation would at least commence again. When Harumi still didn't answer, Sasuke repeated, "What do we do, Harumi?!"

We're accidentally in love… Accidentally in loooove…

"That's bullshit! The song's nearing the end," Ino whimpered as she tore at the ropes that tied Harumi's ankles together, keeping her feet hidden within the sack, "If that thing explodes or expels gas or something after the song, we haven't got much time." She turned to Harumi as he fingers worked blindly, "Harumi, you have to pull yourself together. Please." But when she saw Shikamaru near the device, her heart nearly stopped.

"Shikamaru!" Ino yelled at him as she nearly fell over from fright, "What the fuck are you doing there?! Get away from it!"

But he didn't even hear her. He ran his fingers through the metal, feeling the song pound on his head as it pulsed at the maximum volume, "Oh my gawd," he mumbled, as if he didn't believe his eyes. On the metal, it read 'Silver Wing': Ino's companion company in bomb-smuggling, "It's a frickin' bomb."

Confused, Sasuke approached Shikamaru's location as Rose exclaimed, "But you just said it couldn't be a bomb, which makes sense. Why would Hinata put a bomb in a room of the Manor? She's not that fucked-up! Not to this extent!" The song remained to haunt them as Harumi dropped fat tears in terror, "What made you think it's a bomb, Shikamaru?"

"It's got 'Silver Wing' on it," he mentioned as he attempted to break open the bomb's control panel in order to deactivate it somehow, "Ino knows 'Silver Wing'. Ask her if I'm wrong."

Ino was tempted to gnaw on the ropes while she answered, "That's a bomb company! Shit, that is a bomb!" And there, the ropes gave way. Hurriedly, Ino brushed away all the thick strings, freeing Harumi's purple and bruised ankles, "You have to disable it, Shika!" She continued to unravel the cloth around Harumi's feet when she was intrigued by something that touched her fingertip. It wasn't skin or cloth or rope…

I'm in love, I'm in love, I'm in love, I'm in love… Accidentally…

When Shikamaru managed to crack the panel open, he asked Sasuke, "How do we do this? The cutting of the red wire?"

"You watch too many movies," Sasuke rolled his eyes at the cliché sense and took out his wallet. Slowly, he pulled out a thin sheet of metal from one of the pockets and gave it a firm press from between his forefinger and thumb. Immediately, lights popped from the chrome. He stuck it onto the bomb and said, "This is an automatic bomb decoder. It'll calculate the mechanics of the bomb and tell us which wires to switch or snip."

"We don't have that kind of time!" Rose argued as Harumi went limp in her hold. The sickly old woman was trying to say something, but it all sounded like gibberish from a dying hog, "Just kill the bomb! We have to kill the—" Suddenly, Rose found herself stopping for a moment. Thoughts clung to her head. Bomb. Why a bomb in this room? And the wall… Tarpaulin-thin? …Wait a minute…

Hastily, she took out the crumpled blueprint of the Hyuga Manor, straightening out the creases in the middle of the alarm and immediate requirement of the situation. She traced her finger through the map, retracing their steps from their entrance through the path they have taken. At last, her eyes grew in horror as she realized where they were.

"We're in an 'extension' room," she whispered as she pulled herself from the map, "In plain mafia, it's where their 'clients'…" she gulped, "… are prepared for their sleep with the fishes."

Shikamaru's eyes almost fell out of their sockets. Quickly, he took out his Swiss knife and tore at the wall before them. Ripping of material thin as paper came through. And there, light exploded into the room. Before them was the sea, a green-blue valley. And they were nearly fifteen feet from the waters, supported only by a few wooden poles. That explains the gulls.

The extension room was connected to the Manor, but a little more isolated than the other rooms in a mandatory manner. Mafia would bring those in the way into this room and prepare him for a watery grave. They cemented their feet together, to have an anchor that they may never come back at all, and they'd open a trapdoor and throw the victim into the mercy of the sea. Only, the Hyugas didn't have trapdoors. They said it was too… simple.

Rose observed the room. The walls were newer than they deserve to be. It was insane, to renew the walls of a room regularly as they assumed it had been. But they probably only had one reason. "The Hyugas didn't like trapdoors because of the lack of dignity," she said, shaking, "So they threw victims through the tarpaulin walls, to his death. They wanted their enemies to die with a scream in their throats. They believed their enemies didn't deserve to die with a peaceful soul, whatever the death may be."

The Caged Bird Mafia was ruthless at its best.

"Rose…" Ino murmured as she pulled on the cloth around Harumi's ankles, revealing a breaking revelation: Harumi's cut and bruised feet were cemented together, "Our assumptions are right." The two women turned to the straining Shikamaru and Sasuke, who were vainly trying to pull the bomb from its indestructible hold on the floor. That's the targeted area. The floor. We'll fall into the water! Sadist…

Hinata wanted Harumi to die sleeping with the fishes, at the bottom of the sea.

And there, the pieces fell into place.

I'm… in… loooove…

And the song had ended, too.

The bomb glowed in Shikamaru's face as he and Sasuke realized it too late. "Shikamaru, get out of there!" Ino yelled as she picked herself up and ran to across the room as fast as she could. The world slowed down as Rose tried to grab her from getting nearer to bomb. Her heartbeat was throbbing second-by-second. Then…

…The extension room melted with the explosion.


Black Ivory couldn't control her contentment, "Never thought things would be this easy, Kiba?"

He merely nodded as she brought her glass of alcohol above her head, cheering to their forthcoming further victory. The sequins of her blouse chattered under the light of her bedroom. By the shut balcony doors, inside the safety of her room, Hinata watched the extension room fall apart not far from where they were. Stupid room, that place, she thought sourly as she downed her drink, Mother fuckers died there. Harumi best die there and be with the rest of her fucking society.

As for Kiba, he wasn't in such a mood to rejoice. He had recalled his first time meeting Hinata, strangely, in the middle of his rounds. He threw his sight at his damaged fingers, hardly paying attention to them anymore after Hinata fixed them right after destroying them with her tools. He was beginning to wonder…

…If she was going too far already.

"That shit isn't going to drink itself, Kiba," Hinata squawked in her jolly state, not because of any intoxication. She picked up the bottle she took from the wet bar downstairs, "Come on, just help me finish this gunk, so I can get us a stronger alcohol percentage. This Chateau Petrus crap isn't working on me at all!" Black Ivory was so coaxed to throw the bottle of liquid against the wall, if it didn't cost so much for a disgrace of wine.

"Hinata, do you remember how we made our deal?" Kiba suddenly found himself asking her, making Black Ivory cock a brow and spill a little wine onto her neckline. She was mouthing a silent What the fuck? He only went on, "I said I'd help you if you free Tenten from her bonds with Eagle Eye Neji, right?" He wasn't sure of what the hell was coming through him. Whatever it was, Hinata was half-pissed.

She nodded and decided to check where this was going, "Yeah, no fine print. Why double-check now?"

"It's n-nothing," he muttered as he kept his grip on his glass, "I'm just wondering: Why aren't you doing anything about it yet?"

"About what?"

"Eagle Eye and Tenten. They're still standing up for each other. Why don't you just dig a bullet through Neji's head instead of playing around with thugs, trusting people who can't pull off the job? And Tenten… I never heard anything from you about keeping her here! It makes her more infuriated, making her want Neji more."

Black Ivory only cackled the laugh of an evil stepmother. "My dear, you still don't know our ways, do you?" She leaned forward, catching Kiba's glare in hers, "I am keeping my promise in this buyoff. Don't you see? I'm simply just using them against each other, to make things more interesting. Don't you like that?" To her, it was like watching two cocks fight and having placed a bet on the opponent: Interesting. Ultimately.

"Isn't it unnecessary?" Kiba questioned.

Hinata, again, downed her drink and gasped in satisfaction, "We mafia like to do our jobs either simple or fancy. It depends on what the hell we're dealing with," She took the bottle and gave it a disgusted leer, "Now, this situation and buyoff between us is pretty complex. So we'd better solve it with a really, really fancy solution."

"I still want your reason for keeping Tenten in here. Why make her go through the trouble and risk of doing the dirty work?" Kiba questioned her, still considering that Tenten was still her friend. He didn't like the thought of her going for the kill and possibly becoming the killed.

Hinata only licked her glass clean. "I want Neji to suffer in many ways. What fun it would be to break Cousin's heart by having his girlfriend turn against him, right?" Happily, Hinata waited for his response but decided to add, "Oh, and do me a favor and give her a little more motivation, Kiba. When she sees Neji, I want her to just tug on that fucking trigger and laugh hard. Real hard." She put down the Petrus and told Kiba, "The pool's available. Want a dip?"

"I obviously don't have anything personal on me," Kiba honestly said. He's been wearing mafia attire for as long as he could remember, as long as he was with Hinata. He was starting to wonder if his family was looking for him. Ma would assume that I'm drunk or dead somewhere, lying down on sunburnt concrete. Hana's probably assuming I am, too.

Black Ivory pushed her chair from the coffee table and stood up, saying, "You can swim bare-assed for all I care."

Still, Kiba's queries got her disarmed for a moment. She could remember herself asking stupid questions as a child, too…

Her gut twisted. The spice in her throat rose to her mouth's cavity. Before she knew it, she had soiled her Easter dress of frills and cotton. Her relatives just watched as her father took her side, wiping whatever was coming out her mouth. She heard Hanabi squeak in revolt as Neji poked at her vomit.

"Oh, come now, Hinata," she heard someone tell her, pulling her to her feet, "A little blood can't hurt you."

Hinata nearly exploded when she heard it. "A little blood!" she squeaked, tugging on her drenched skirt, "The deer's nearly open all the way! I… I can't look at it!" She wanted to throw her stubby arms around her father's neck and cry. But she couldn't. She couldn't afford to let her father down again by showcasing weakness. She had to 'make her bones' now.

As for her sister, she seemed unaffected by what was going, except for the vomit. She couldn't bear the stench. Oddly, she could bear throwing her hands into the deer's ribs and watching blood smother her fingers and seep into her nails. In that yellow cocktail dress, she was divine. Only the rifle strapped to her back was what destroyed her image.

"Skin it, Hinata," she knew it was Neji who said it. His arrogant voice was a chirp of a falcon, compared to everyone else's. She blames his mother. A Broadway singer lent some of her voice to the child. It frustrated Hinata of how Neji was more of a beautiful woman than she ever was, "You know you have to." He was right. In his hand was a sack of his skins, the ones he earned from skinning the other does earlier. Fearless child.

"No, no, no!" she screamed, kicking her way to her father's arms, traumatized, "Get the deer away! I don't want to touch it! No, no, no!" The kin around them reacted negatively at her reluctance to show some backbone, "Daddy, don't make me!" She stared into her father's eyes, hoping he'd let her pass.

Eight years old and afraid. They would've made her an exception. But it wasn't that. She was different. Some odd result of their blood. Their line consisted of all callous people of power. Why didn't this girl bring the same temperament? "Hinata," her father had told her, "You are young. Youth brings your squeamishness. I want that to disappear by the time you have turned thirteen." He planted a kiss on her forehead, "Make me proud one day."

What she didn't understand was the need for a woman to know such barbaric acts. Weren't women meant to stay at home, knit, sew, cook, tend the children, clean, die with a clean floor to make up for their existence? She also could not understand Hanabi's 'bloody mouth'—as she had heard—which was a term for enjoying homicide too much. She didn't know till she had turned fourteen that it was because mafia was her life and she had to be more than just a housewife… because she was Hyuga.

They praised Neji, though, and Hanabi. Excellent children, they'd say. Even at a tender age, Neji had always held the smooth contours of his elegant face. Like his father, he enjoyed hunts, the sight of helpless animals dying by their bullet. As long as it wasn't him withering away, it wouldn't matter that much. Hanabi was another case, always high on the scent of gunpowder. She inherited the strong features of her father, looking more forceful than any Hyuga woman.

"It's your choice," they heard Mamam Harumi say when Hanabi, twelve, and Neji and her, fourteen, were summoned to the hollow grand hall before coming out in the garden for Hanabi's birthday celebration, "But you have to pick which you believe is truly right. The long-term kind of right. The lifetime-long right."

Without hesitation, both Neji and Hanabi had taken the guns from their grandmother's hold. They gave each other a high five, imagining what power they could one day hold as a part of the Hyuga mafia. As for Hinata, she was sure she didn't want to see another dead deer…

But she wanted revenge. Sweet revenge.

She took the gun, too. Hopefully, she'll get back at everyone, at Neji and Hanabi. For the humiliation, the pressure, the prejudice. And she'll rule the mafia world like the Clericuzio once did.


The flyover's traffic had gotten into everyone's heads. Irritable, sweating drivers swore through the scorching high-noon sun…

Ice-blue flames spray-painted onto his ride, the middle-aged man with the helmet between a silver Camry and black Honda Civic wasn't expecting anything. After all, he was just listening to station 90.3 on his way to lunch. What else could destroy his mood, aside from the heat and the cheesy song playing?

A hand heavily clapped onto his shoulder. "I hope you don't mind," a manly but angelic tone took him. He turned around, gazing past his tinted helmet front into the eyes of the moon. Before he could even swear—Western-style—he was pulled off of his motorcycle, onto the hot concrete, "I have a damsel to save," The stranger finished.

Leaving the motorist on the crumby ground, Eagle Eye Neji jerked his wrist onto the handle, making the motor roar. He tucked a lock behind his ear and brought the motorcycle front up a few inches and formed a wheelie, racing past the cars. "Hey!" Blue Gun Shot shrieked, trying to catch up. Red flushes spotted her face and dots of sweat decorated her lean, white neck.

As Neji rushed through the traffic on the Sanchez, dodging the numerous cars and other vehicles impatiently waiting for the green light at the end of the massive line. Hanabi, on the other hand, had climbed onto the roof of a nearby Aston Martin, caught the edge and swung through the open window, landing onto the seat beside the driver flexibly and smoothly.

"Drive, you ass!" she ordered, catching the anonymous driver off-guard. Gawking, he suddenly decided to follow her demands when she took out the stubby shotgun and repeated her command. She gave the guy a shove on the arm and exclaimed, "Step on the gas and overtake that dork in front of you!" The driver bit his lip. He hoped the police would believe his story.

Meowing like a pleased puma, the motorcycle was far off, way ahead. Neji sometimes pulled it over car roofs, thrusting dents and scratches onto the metal. His only initiative was to get Tenten back and get rid of Black Ivory once and for all. He didn't need to be discreet for long. As long as he didn't leave evidence of his existence and the mafia's.

With a lot of threatening, pushing and vulgar language, the Aston was seven feet behind Neji already. At this, Hanabi had managed to stick half of her body out of the window, prayerful that no truck would run half of her over before she could even start doing stunts of stupidity. "Cuz, will you just listen to me for a minute?!" she screeched through blowing air and speed, "Just one fucking minute!"

"And then what?" Neji bitterly shot back at her, everything about him distorting into blurs as he speeded slickly through the flyover, "You'll make me get out of the way of Black Ivory! I'm strong enough to do things on my own, so don't try to stop me, you little shit! Damn, how could you! How could you tell me to walk away from the best thing that has happened to me? Huh?" He turned his eyes back onto the road, "At least let me save Tenten!"

Clinging on for her life, Blue Gun Shot tried to pull herself onto the moving car's top, continuing her conversation, "I'm not trying to stop you, idiot!" Rolling her eyes, she was beginning to be sure that Neji was so terrified of Tenten's life, he was starting to become utterly cross, "I'm trying to be fair! To you, especially! Every action we make has to be precise, logical and clear-cut. Plus, the consequences—"

"Gawd, Blue G!" Neji replied in his raised voice, "Since when did you care about consequences? Since when did you hesitate in getting Hinata's ass kicked flat off our backs?"

At this, Blue Gun Shot only shook her head in contempt. One last time, she told the unnamed driver of the car she was on to "keep driving or die with shards up his back" while she readied herself. Finally, she positioned her hands onto the roof edge and heaved herself, force flowing from her powerful legs. Victoriously, she landed onto the seat, nearly missing to take her hold and almost falling. She held on to Neji's shirt as the motorcycle continued to speed.

Hanabi remained quiet, hearing the whirr of motors and the honks of car horns. Until they were off the flyover, Neji wasn't sure of what to do to save Tenten and get even with Hinata. Hanabi was right: He shouldn't just barge out into the panorama of death without the necessary arrangements. Eventually, Blue Gun Shot spoke up.

"You plan on getting there on this puny thing?" The sparkle in her minuscule eyes amused Neji as she jeered on the hijacked ride. What choice did he have? A car wouldn't be able to reach the destination faster due to the traffic, even if it were a BMW-GTR with a fresh motor and a refill of Italian fuel. She added boastfully, "I've ridden a faster skateboard. I should know."

Neji traced a surge of hilarity in his jaw, "What do you suggest, Blue G?"

Hanabi dug into her boot, and produced a sapphire key the size of a toothpick. "Why don't we take my baby? She needs a warm-up, after being untouched for months."

"Your baby?"

"Yes," she replied immediately as she hid the key again, "My baby."


Any trace of the demolition minutes ago has faded into the foam and waves. All has gone without a trace but the panicky voice of Rose Pierce.

Between gasps and desperate attempts to reach anything that can stop her commencing journey towards the bottom of the sea, she shrieked out, "Sasuke! Sasuke, where are you? Sasuke!" All thoughts of Ino and Shikamaru had flown off of her mind. Her priority was he. With the looks of the waves, anyone could be anywhere.

Stripping herself of her shoes, Rose began to paddle her arms around her. She caught sight of the shore almost a mile away. Even if it was already low tide, the waves were angry, consuming. "Sasuke, answer if you can hear me, please!" She was still hoping he'd reply, and bring her relief by showing up alive. But there was nothing. She heard nothing but the rushing of water and gulls overhead.

Remembering her own safety, Rose took her jacket closer to her body and located the hidden tubes within the apparel. Briskly, she blew into the tubes as one would with a plane lifejacket. Thank God for Org multipurpose jackets. Finally finding her security, Rose floated about the waves, eyeing the open ocean with her reddened eyes. Trying to keep calm, she pushed away the seaweed coming at her while she scanned the waters.

Wisely, she snapped her communicator from her belt, confident of its waterproof ability, "This is Agent Rose Pierce. I have a situation. Connect me with my tracking device. Over." When she had taken her thumb from her radio, a buzz whirred. But no human reply. A little worried more than she should be, Rose elongated her radio's antenna and clipped it to her ear. This way, she'd be able to explore the ocean more for her companions and the victim.

Holding her breath, Rose dunked her head beneath the surface, ripping the water. Salt stung her eyes as she gazed at the darkness below. Wood and remains of the extension room flew in places with the water, but not a body in sight. Her brows came into a knot. Intolerant of the eye pangs, blurred vision and running oxygen, she threw her head back into the surface.

Coughing with drops in her cavities, Rose Pierce returned to her radio, praying for an answer from the Org, "This is Rose Pierce! I need to be connected with my tracking device! I repeat: this is an emergency! Urgent acknowledgement required! Over!" The hollow whisper of air blew from her radio. No reply, still.

"Sakura! Sakura!" Rose heard her real name called out, a taboo in various forms. Relieved but anxious, she turned her head in all directions. Successfully, she spotted figures on the shore. Sodden, sandy and limp persons, one of them laid flat on the sand and one waving weakly at her. She recognized right away who it was. "Ino! Oh my gawd, you're alright!"

As fast as she could, Rose forced her arms to work faster, to bring her to the shoreline. Her eyes were beginning to fail, from all the salt and wet grime entering. With every motion, the shore seems to run farther, away from her. But when she has finally reached it, the weight of the world fell on her.

"Sasuke!" she screamed as she tumbled onto her knees from the sluggish hold of the water on her. Before her and Ino was Sasuke, conscious but seriously burnt despite the water impact. Though his strong face was merely singed, his limbs were blotted with burns and blood. Rose's initial move was to unbuckle her portable medical kit and grab for something that could help. She was always prepared with her usual medicines.

"N…Now that is what I call… a compulsion…" Sasuke mumbled between seared lips as Rose examined intently one of his open wounds. Rose didn't answer to his remark. As for Ino, she supported herself with propped shoulders as her eyes met the ocean. Shikamaru was nowhere to be found. He was on top of her fears. His life, at least.

Ino turned to Rose, who had her face streaked in both saltwater and saline tears. "Where else does it hurt?" Her voice croaked in fright of any impending danger that could take him away on this moment, right here and now. When Sasuke shut his eyes gently and didn't speak, she screamed, "I said where else does it hurt, Sasuke?!"

Sasuke only partly flipped one eye open at her, to show that he was still among them, "Take my gun."

Rose didn't want to listen or believe what she thought she had just heard, "You haven't answered my question yet."

He pulled his gun from the garter of his pants, and then feebly pushed it towards Rose. He firmly pressed his hand onto hers, the grains sticking to them as if entering their pores. "You heard me. Take my gun. Org policies state that every mission has to start somewhere and end only with one scene: Us winning," he smiled weakly as Rose saw her teardrops taint his chest.

"I know what the fucking hell the Org policies say!" Rose snapped at him savagely, returning to losing control of both her itching fingers and exploding emotions, "Just… stay with me! Quit the sentimentality and…" But she could read the solemnity in his scowl, "Sasuke, you can't be serious. I need you in this mission."

He only snickered in a whisper, "No, you don't mean that," She had an idea of what he was hinting, but never assumed, "You're a one-man agent. I bet you can deal with this shit without me to get in the way." He brought his hand to her face, rubbing the back of his fingers against her supple porcelain cheek, "Just get the job done, alright? Atta girl…" And his hand softened up, plopping onto his stomach.

Rose's lashes beat with every nanosecond, hoping to halt any more tears from coming, "Sasuke! Shit, Sasuke, don't leave me!" She dropped her medical equipment, finally getting a hold of Sasuke's cold hands, wrapping an arm around him as she continued to call to him, "Sasuke, no! I said don't leave me! Not now! Not ever! You can't… do this to me, damn you!" She felt Ino hold her down from going too far. She only cried harder.

"Hush, Rose," Ino murmured, pulling her away from Sasuke, "He's alive. You know that. He'll make it. Just do as he says."

Stubbornly, Rose shook her head and replied viciously, "No, I have to be sure he'll stay alive! I won't leave him!"

"Rose, will you just—!" Ino shot at her, irritated at her friend's grief, "Look, if ever he doesn't make it, that's… that's life." Ino bit back, regretting the mention of the possibility of Sasuke's death, "Just do everyone, especially Sasuke, a favor and don't let his endeavors go to waste. Get up, pick up his gun and finish the mission."

Turning to Ino, Rose tried to say what she wanted, what she felt had to be done. But in Ino's slowly tearing eyes, Rose saw and knew that Ino could relate with her troubles. Ino opened her mouth to say with a heavy heart, "Shikamaru's nowhere to be found. I won't leave this place till I find him. I'll be here, to look after Sasuke and search for Shikamaru and try my luck on Harumi. I'll call for my backup. You go on."

"Will you be alright here?"

"Hell yeah, Eye-bag Removal Discard," Ino answered hastily as she tried to get up, "I'm a bitch. A bartender bitch. When did I let you down, eh?"

Oh, I dunno, Rose thought bitterly as she pushed herself from the moist sands, A million times already. Since we were like six. I couldn't even trust you with chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. But, hey. You're a natural bitch all right. I can leave you alone and be guaranteed that you'll be alive all the way. "Okay, Ino," Rose finally said, cocking Sasuke's gun, "Take care, Silicon Ass."

And, good lord, may Sasuke be alive, too, when I come back.


"Bitch! Don't you know how to drive this thing?!"

"I forget, you know!" Blue Gun Shot snapped back at Neji as she tried to get her baby—a Sparrow helicopter—off of the helipad, "I haven't warmed my baby up since the Gregorio War! Besides that, she's not in good condition. Her gears aren't oiled well!" She bit on her lip for a second as the copter went into an angle, "I should've known better than to leave her to the care of that Udon bastard."

Neji took hold of his seat as Hanabi nearly threw him out of the flying contraption, answering to her remark, "It's your fault, still! I told you we should've left it to the care of Gai! He's the same guy who takes care of my cars, anyway," He continued as Hanabi struggled with the controls, "You trusted this thing to Udon because your boyfriend said so!"

Wincing, Blue Gun Shot tried to concentrate as she told Neji sharply, "Luv had a lot of trust in this Udon guy. How could I not say yes to the offer?"

At this, Neji gagged. Hearing Hanabi use 'luv' as reference to Konohamaru was making him want to throw up. Slowly, they were ascending father from the helipad, higher into the air. Neji wasn't sure if he was supposed to be relieved that they were finally off of the building or fretful to let Hanabi man the helicopter. Aw, well. He left the rest to fate's ass…

"We're still a distance from the Manor," Neji mentioned as he watched Hanabi jerk directional controls to the left, "We have to get there faster. I'm not willing to deal with whatever mph this thing has," He poked her shoulder demandingly, "Anything under your hood that can get us there quicker?"

Blue Gun Shot only cackled softly, "Of course, cuz," After a quick scan of the field of controls before her, Hanabi took hold of a custom-made bar set one-and-a-half arm's length from her reach, "Hold on tighter than you would," she warned, "Konohamaru installed this and it never underwent a crash course. I hope we don't crash into a building or something drastic like that."

Neji felt himself gulp.

Once they were properly flying above the helipad, Hanabi firmed up her hold on the leather of the lever and pulled it down stridently, producing a strident creak. Instantly, whirrs and other technical murmurs popped up everywhere around them. Neji found the helicopter's exterior metal retreat and showcase a number of N2o cones.

"Holy shit!" Neji exclaimed, partly impressed and partly afraid all the more, "You got turbo installed into this thing?!"

"Turbo is such an puffed up term," Blue Gun Shot mused mockingly, cracking her knuckles in preparation, "I prefer… the term Nitro boosts," She tossed her head to the side in a slick movement before she curled her fist around the lever handle once again, "Let's get this on!" And she shoved the lever till a light lit up:

Full throttle

Too quickly, the helicopter shot from its previous position, zooming at a fourth of the speed of a jet. Thank God Hanabi had excellent reflexes. By far, she has dodged six skyscrapers and buildings, two birds and a kite. A whiney shriek escaped the nitro cones. Strong tremors shook them on their seats. Neji felt his crotch rise to his throat. Only Hanabi enjoyed the adrenaline. Fuck, he thought as he watched the blotches of color pass, I think I'm too old for this already.

"Slow down a bit, Blue G!" He ordered, catching a glimpse of the Manor not far from where they were, "If we go too fast, we'll never be able to make a good landing! We'd die even before Black Ivory does!" He couldn't believe it. He was so tense, he was paler than he was supposed to be. Their strands surfed with the current of the wind, the propellers hardly working with the tubes doing all the work.

Hanabi didn't even look at him, so he tried to get his point straightened out further, "Oi! Blue G! Hanabi! Bitch! You have to—"

"Oh, shut up and learn, will you?" she told him coolly as she kept her eyes in front, "Today, I'm going to make helicopter history." She gripped everything in her sweating fingers, feeling the wind pulse through her skin, "And no one will even know."

Clinks and heartbeats bent into each other's arms. Sweat beaded down Neji's temples as Hanabi's fingers uncomfortably shriveled over the controls. Every time Hanabi turned to evade a building, the helicopter would swerve too much, causing the two to shift in their seats but then go back to piercing nails into their seats once Hanabi was back to racing through the urban labyrinth. Every twist, every motion was a heart stopper.

A centimeter away was the Manor. And they hadn't slowed down at the very least.


Black Ivory entered the room, a smile cracked across her jaw. Behind her were her soldiers, both Hyuga and foreigners. All of them, held under her law and commands. "Nice sunset we have there, don't we?" she mumbled, referring to the beautiful mixture of pink, blue, orange and red in the earthly horizon outside the guest room's window. She licked her lips, smudging her rouge lipstick in the process. Well, this has been an exceptional day.

Hinata turned to the grief-stricken, tear-shredded face that stared blankly back at her. Tenten hasn't changed since her deal with Hinata. Beside her was Lee, still comatose with swaying vital signs and a low oxygen tank. He, too, hasn't changed. At least, not for the better. His ailing body was ready to give up. So ready. At the scene, Black Ivory only smiled wider.

"Your sweetheart," Hinata said, motioning for her thugs to brace themselves at this point of time, "I spotted his chopper. The bastard nearly hit the Manor in his effort to man a helicopter with nitro packs. I'm assuming Blue Gun Shot's with him. My guards said they did a maneuver that made them veer off upwards, barely hitting the Manor." Hinata laughed at her cousin and sister's daredevil stupidity.

Tenten only squirmed mildly in her chair, trying not to attack for the sake of those endangered by her actions, "I must say, Ten," Black Ivory said, twirling a .22 pistol with her free hand while the other held a grenade, "You and Eagle Eye have some powerful vibes and passion. Hot-blooded lovers? Amusing. But pathetic to the core." She tossed the pistol into her palm and twirled the cylinder.

Sadistically, she pressed the gun's mouth against Tenten's forehead, her finger stiffly placed on the trigger, "But now, you'll have to forget about everything you two had: The infatuation, the love, the concern, the delusions, the sex…" Tenten flinched at the words. They hurt painfully, being thrown back into her head like sniper shots. Flaming sniper shots, "It's all going to end up into nothing. Not even shit. Tell me: What the hell is lower than shit?"

You, Tenten thought acrimoniously, knowing she'd never be able to verbalize it anyway. Hinata dropped three guns onto Tenten's lap, saying with her fangs bear, "Tomorrow, sunrise, I'll have Eagle Eye ready for his final battle. And you're going to beat him, Tenny," Tenten tore her stare at the marksman's weapons laid for her, "Pick one. Any one. You know, just to get you going."

A Beretta with Tenten's name engraved on it in gold, the .22 pistol Hinata was toying with earlier, and a lovely shotgun—one excellent shot usually means death. Tempting, as it seemed, Tenten couldn't decline anything. It didn't mean her life, but Lee's. And soon, Neji's. She hesitantly picked up the .22. Minimum damage.

"That's a water gun, in the mafia world," Hinata heckled her choice, taking everything away from her, "But it doesn't matter, really. If this were a test, you just went through the multiple-choice portion. And these guns were just the letters. A, B C, the works." Swiftly, Black Ivory snapped her fingers, calling for one of her henchmen. Tenten had something to fear for, at last.

One of the men came forward, holding out a flamethrower. Tenten's eyes only swallowed hard with her. "Don't like it?" Black Ivory murmured, sliding her finger through the cold metal, "You can go for the rocket launcher or the chainsaw. What'll it be: Pyromania or a blood lusted massacre?"

As Hinata chortled at her own will, Tenten only stared hard at the setting sun outside. She couldn't imagine what she had just gotten herself into. How could she strike that deal? But, still, what choice did she have?

The mafia world was too clever for her.

"Wait," Tenten mumbled awkwardly before Black Ivory could leave her in the guest room. As Hinata turned to face her, she asked almost accusingly, "Why at sunrise?" She didn't have any motif, but she just wanted to find out why at the beginning of a day, when the world was still groggy? Did she want to catch Neji off-guard? Was she able to calculate the time approximates?

Hinata openly responded, "He will be entering the Manor tonight, I know. I'm letting him disable me by a sixth, to let him get cockier than usual. It's amusing to see his confidence wither little by little once he enters the abyss," She threw Tenten a hypnotizing glare, "By dawn, he'd probably be meeting with the dragons of this castle. You be one of them." Eventually, she had half-expected a violent reaction from Tenten, for such a pointless dot to be added to a plan like hers. Imagine Hinata's delight when Tenten simply…

…accepted it.

"Have a good night's sleep, Tenny," Hinata said, waving her hand lazily as she departed, "Tomorrow's going to be a big day."


Did Hanabi and Neji endure their insane helicopter trip? Will Tenten really be able to kill Neji? What about the battle of the two sisters, Black Ivory Hinata and Blue Gun Shot Hanabi? Will Lee survive? Is Sasuke going to make it? Is Shikamaru gone forever? Is Harumi really meant to die in a watery grave? Is Ino going to go crazy looking for Shikamaru? How are Konohamaru and Inoichi doing? Will Rose be able to help finish this mission in Sasuke's tribute?

Will there be a happy ending? Or is Ruki going to lap up on a tragedy?

Find out soon.

Kankuro: Hell yeah! It's nearly over! Just two chapters more to go!

Me: Yeah, got that right. –high five- Now, let's go celebrate with some cupcakes!

Kankuro: Way ahead of you!

Me: Oh, by the way, I have a poll that needs to be answered. Thanks to anyone who cooperates!

Kankuro: Chocolate or strawberry cupcakes?

Me: Oh! Strawberry! –grabs cupcake- By the way, guys, I want to thank you all for making this fic a success. But I'd like to give out a special thanks to these people:

1. Strawberry Shake

Me: You aren't the Awesome Psychic Woman for nothing, girl! Thank you so much for the support, the friendship and everything else in between! I might've even deleted this fic all in all if it weren't for you! –hug- You rock! And the epilogue's gonna be dedicated to you, pal! Oh, here's your present:

Kyouya Ootori tied with strawberry drenched ribbon!

Kyouya: This isn't going to be covered by your insurance.

Me: The Dark Side will always honor your membership!

2. Poisoned Scarlet

You gave crime fics a name that we would all be proud of! You are one of the people who has inspired me to make this fic. So, thank you for the crazy conversations we sometimes have and thank you for the never-ending support and love you give! I wish I could do the same for you. All the power to you, Panda-chan!

But, of course, I have a general thank you to everyone! Thank you again!

Kankuro: Cupcakes for everyone!

The cupcakes are obviously my vices… CROSS DE LENA!!!