Chapter Title: Lets Plan A Lunch Date
Word Count: 8,121
Author's Note: Mwhahaha! I finally finished this chapter! I know that some people are going to be absolutely pissed at me for saying that I'd try to update sooner and then I didn't…Yeah. I am super sorry about that and I beg for your forgiveness but I have to play the 'I've just been really busy' excuse once more! Even with spring break, I couldn't find a lot of time to sit down and write. Still, you should be happy that this got out today anyways! I was almost done with it when my computer went all stupid and I lost everything. I had to re-write this all! T_T Anyways, here's chapter nine and in this one, I have the start of Sasori vs. Kiba with Sakura playing the referee – something I think a lot of people have been waiting for! Most of it will still be in the next chapter though just to warn everyone, but Naruto also gets some fighting done in here as well since he's a pretty cool guy and really, I couldn't leave him out of all of it. He's fun to write and I mean, the series is named after him…So I hope you enjoy this chapter and please, after you're done reading it, send a review my way to tell me if you like how the fic is going! Thanks!

Also, if you like this fanfic, I have two other SasoSaku ones going and you might enjoy them though I will warn that they are slightly different than this one...!












"Kiba…" Sakura breathed the young man's name out softly at the sight of her ex-boyfriend – hair disheveled and a panicked expression splayed out across his face – standing in the doorway of the small hospital room with several stern looking nurses behind his back who all had apparently been trying to stop him from coming. "…What are you doing here?"

"Sir!" one of the older looking nurses objected nosily before the boy could even have a chance to respond. "I am very sorry but I must insist that you leave at once!" she barked out her order as her hand reached out to allow her fingers to wrap around the upper part of his right arm, and her newly manicured nails dug deep into the worn material of his old leather jacket. "It's already past visiting hours, and as you can see, we have already made an exception for two people so far," she continued to inform briskly while tugging on him. "So if you would please just go home now, you'd be more than welcome to come back tomorrow morning…"

Looking down to his side, Kiba sent a glare to the loud, pesky woman. "Let me go!" he ordered harshly as he roughly tore himself free of her grip. "I'm not going anywhere until I get a chance to talk to her!"

Though most of the nurses shrunk back at his small, angry outburst, the older one didn't even bother to flinch. Instead, she kept up with her protesting. "But sir!" she shouted. "You don't understand at all! I simply cannot allow you to-

"It's fine!" Sakura suddenly interrupted with enough volume to border on a shout which meant it was easily able to cut off anymore of the annoying woman's persistent rejections as well as surprise everyone. "…I know it may be a bit troublesome for you as well as the rest of the staff," she continued on, looking up, "but I would appreciate it if you would please allow him to stay…"

Peering past Kiba's tall form, the woman paused for a short moment before clicking her tongue in obvious disapproval, but still, she knew that in the end, she didn't hold the authority to refuse a request that came from one of Konoha's top medics and the apprentice of the fifth Hokage. "Fine," she huffed out loudly, giving into the idea of permitting Kiba to stay. "But if anyone else comes I am immediately sending them away! We just cannot allow everyone to break the rules here or this place would easily turn into a mad house!"

Sakura bowed her head slightly from where she sat. "I understand. Thank you…"

"Good," the nurse snapped back rudely, and sending everyone one last withering glare, she slammed the sliding door shut with an earsplitting clacking sound right behind Kiba's back, leaving all four alone in the room with a now awkward silence.

Naruto – of course – was the first to try and break it.

"Wow…" he began. "Do they run a tight security around here or what?! I bet they could even take on Tsunade-baachan's Anbu guards, ne?" he joked pathetically and in the end, the blonde was the only one to let out a chuckle at his sad attempt of a crack.

Sakura completely ignored every last word that her friend had just spoken and instead, she nervously glanced up to be met with Kiba's dark, coffee-colored eyes that starred directly back into her own light, olive ones with evident concern. Hurriedly, Sakura broke off the small connection they had maintained for less than a fraction of a second and moved her gaze down into her lap where she could see that her pale hands were currently fisting into the snow white sheet that had been placed over her earlier while she'd been sleeping.

Biting her bottom lip softly, she hesitated for a short moment before opening her mouth to ask, "Kiba, what are you-

"What the hell is he doing here?!"

Sakura's question was cut off by the person it had been posed to as he asked his own and peering up, Sakura found herself becoming a witness to the scene of Kiba glaring into the far corner where the puppet master currently sat in a chair, looking quite comfortable. He had been nothing more than a silent audience for the last couple minutes though Sakura could spot a small amount of irritation had sprouted in his orbs ever since the other man had entered the room.

"Ah!" You already know Kagari too?" Naruto exclaimed with surprise before anyone could offer an answer to Kiba's question. Turning in Sasori's direction, the blonde admitted with a bright smile, "You're a pretty popular guy!"

"No!" Kiba denied loudly, his tone revealing true fury. "He's a jackass!"

Naruto's grin instantly became something non-existent as soon as the statement was declared and his blonde head whipped towards Kiba. "What?" he asked, a confused look finding a place to thrive on his face. "…What do you mean?"

"I mean he's a jackass!" Kiba repeated his sentence over once more without any hesitation, only this time, he pointed at the puppet master as he spoke the words as if his single action would prove his point, and Sakura watched as a small, disapproving frown appeared on Sasori's lips because of it.

"Why do you say that?" Naruto questioned his brown furrowing deeply. "He's the one who brought Sakura-chan here in the first place…"

Kiba's dark eyes widened in surprise before his gaze flew back over to the corner. "You…saved her?" he asked – his voice making it sound like it was the most amazing thing he'd ever heard of.

In response to the question, Sakura noticed how Sasori's lips twitched up slightly into a haughty smirk which caused him to look like he took pride in the fact that he was the so called 'savior' and Sakura felt her hands that were now resting in her lap burn with the strong want to slap the arrogant look right off of his face.

"Hai…" 'Kagari' finally replied.

Out of the corner of her eye, Sakura saw Kiba's posture stiffen at the answer as the astonishment hit him hard and begin to set in. Seconds later, he stole a quick glance her way, sending her a small quizzical look before he faced the blonde once more with a new hardened expression. "Are you sure that he's not the real reason why she even had to come to a hospital in the first place…?"

Naruto's bright, cerulean orbs widened at the question with the understanding of what Kiba was actually suggesting before they narrowed to angry slits. "Kiba!" he shouted, his tone now full of irritation as well. "What the hell is your problem?! Tsunade-baachan already said that Sakura-chan collapsed from exhaustion so instead of blaming Kagari, you should be thanking him! He's the one who found her before any bad people could!"

"Yeah? Well you know what? I just can't buy all of that shit when I've seen what kinda guy Kagari actually is!" Kiba bellowed right back. "Plus, you hardly know the guy Naruto! Why are you sticking up for him? You don't know what he can truly be like!"

"But as I recall, I don't really remember being acquainted with you either," Sasori cut right into the fight though his voice was dead calm unlike the other two raging men. "Right, Kiba-san?"

Spinning on his heel, Kiba faced the puppet master fully on. "I don't have to be acquainted with you anymore than I already am! Last time I saw you, you kicked my ass right before sending me into a fucking picnic table!"

Sasori's frown deepened. "Actually, if my memory is correct, you were the one who was trying to kick my ass and after you missed landing a punch on me, you sent yourself into that picnic table…

At the response, Sakura watched as Kiba's jaw clenched tightly while his hands turned into threatening fists as his side, and the simple sight if it sent a small ball of panic straight into her gut.

"K-Kiba," she started, not wanting another round to start up right in front of her in the small hospital room.

Stop it or you're going to get hurt!

"Cam down!" her voice ordered of him.

"How can you say that, Sakura?!" Kiba shouted, turning his hard glare onto her. "You've seen what an ass he is! Are you really going to stick up for him?!"

"No. Of course not! I-

"Oi!" Don't you yell are Sakura-chan!" Naruto interrupted her as he tried his best to defend her. "She's done nothing wrong here and Kagari hasn't either! Really, if anyone is acting like a jackass here, it's you Kiba!"

"Me?!" Kiba yelled, taking obvious offence to the blond boy's words. "But he's the one who-

Kiba's bellow was cut off mid-sentence by the door leading into the room sliding open once more with a deafening clacking sound, revealing the same older-looking nurse from before, but right now, her face was a brilliant shade of red from all of the anger that was coursing rapidly through her small, dumpy form.

"What on earth is going on in here?!" she demanded to know. "You all are disturbing everyone else here!"

Instantly, both Naruto and Kiba began an idiotic sounding, mumbling rant as they quickly tried to apologize while explaining what was going on but the two boy's were interrupted by the woman's razor-sharp tongue as she continued, "This is a hospital! Not a playground where you kids can get into one of your foolish fights or one of your screaming matches. If I had known that this is what would've happened from the start, I would not have allowed any of you to stay in the first place!"

"I-I am very sorry for the disturbance that we've caused," Sakura apologized hastily, trying to get the whole situation around her to calm down to a certain degree. "It's just that-

"Haruno-san," the nurse snapped, turning her pointed gaze onto the young, pink-haired woman. "Right now, I really don't care what position you hold here. I am very sorry but because of how your guests have behaved, I must insist on them leaving!"

The woman's last words caught Kiba's attention, causing him to object with a quite loud, "But-

"Now!" the nurse stormed, stomping her high heeled foot against the tiled floor of the room. Moving to the side, she held the door open for the three men, clearly expecting them to obey her order without any questions.

A thick silence traveled through the room for several seconds after her command, stretching out to every corner until it was broken by the rustling of clothes as Sasori took a stand, abandoning his seat behind. "I apologize for the commotion we have caused," he told the nurse while offering one of his false, friendly smiles. "We'll be going now…"

To his side, Naruto nodded slightly in agreement. "Yeah. Sorry," he mumbled, leaving his spot by the bed Sakura sat on to walk towards the exit.

Silently, Sasori followed behind the blonde though Kiba was a whole different story. He stood tall, his lips set in a long, firm frown as he stubbornly refused to budge from his position which caused everyone to look at him expectantly.

"Sir…!" the nurse called out to him impatiently, her eyes revealing her small amount of wariness with the knowing that she was going to have a problem with the dark –haired boy once more. "I'm sorry, but you have to leave…"

"Kiba," Naruto said the boy's name from where he stood in the door way. "Come on already."

"Give me five more minutes," Kiba suddenly demanded of the nurse, glancing Sakura's way which caused her sea green orbs to widen.

No…! I don't want to be alone with him!

"Absolutely not!" the nurse barked back viciously at the request to Sakura's relief.


"Oh, just let him stay for a little longer," Naruto cut in with a heavy sigh as he leaned against the wall. "Even if he is a jerk, he is her boyfriend after all, and he hasn't really been able to talk to her yet, ne Sakura-chan?" The blonde sent her a warm smile, thinking he was being some sort of help to her.

Stupid idiot!

Apparently the news of the big break up between Inuzuka Kiba and her that had only occurred a little more than thirteen hours earlier hadn't yet reached the ears of the infamous Uzumaki Naruto.

"Absolutely not," the nurse repeated once more, standing firm. "I cannot allow him to after all that's happened."


"Come on! It's just five minutes," Naruto tried to bargain once more, thinking it was for Sakura's sake. "It's not like the whole world is going to end if you just let him stay for that long."

Shut up, you dim-witted moron!

Sakura watched horrified as the nurse's face flickered with hesitation for a few seconds before Naruto pressed a little bit more with a small grin, "Please…?"

That was all it took to wear down the rest of the woman's resolve. Letting out a heavy, frustrated sigh, she gave in. "Very well…" she said, turning her head in Kiba direction. "Five minutes is all though! Not a minute more!"

"That's fine," Kiba said hastily, settling for any time he could possible get. Grateful, he nodded politely to the older-looking woman to show his gratitude.

The nurse didn't offer any type of kind gesture in return. Instead, she turned smartly on her heel to face the other two men. "You two however have to leave now," she informed both Naruto and Sasori.


"Okay," Naruto said with understanding and he looked past the nurse to give Sakura a bright smile. "Bye Sakura-chan!"

Don't leave me alone with him!

"W-Wait, Naruto! We're not-

"No need to get all embarrassed. It's okay!" the blonde said, rolling his eyes at his teammate sarcastically. "I don't want to be around anyway when you two start to suck each other's faces off. That's something that would totally scar me for life!"

Naruto faked a shudder before laughing at his own words, while a dark shade of red spread rapidly across Sakura's two cheeks like an out of control wild fire, and even a slight pinkish tint could be seen on Kiba's own face.

Don't go! Don't go! Don't go!

"No! Na-Naruto. Please wait…" she called out nosily after the blonde as he began to exit the room.

"Good night!" was all the blonde responded with, and completely oblivious to her pleading words, he disappeared from her view which just left Sasori in the doorway next to the nurse.

Sakura exchanged gazes with him for a short moment. One in which she saw him drop his front all together so that he could give her one of his original, playful smirks as a parting gift before he too turned to walk out of her sight.

"Five minutes is all!" the nurse's voice reminded Kiba and Sakura once more before she closed the door softly behind her, leaving the two teenagers alone in the room with complete privacy.

The fact made a frown form on Sakura's cherry-colored lips and slowly, she shifted her gaze from the door to Kiba who was currently gawking at his feet and not daring to meet her eye. Sighing at him, she looked down into her lap, shifting uncomfortably.

This is too awkward…

Still, Sakura found herself being forced to peer back up when she heard the loud, scratchy sound that broke the heavy silence between them and she watched as Kiba effortlessly dragged a wooden chair towards her. Finding a place for it about a foot away from the bed, he stopped in his actions and took a seat. Silently, the two exchanged a self-conscious look before Sakura broke it off to face forward and stare at the opposite wall.

"Why are you here…?" she questioned quietly while wringing her hands in her lap.

"Naruto called me," Kiba answered, and she felt him shift until he was leaning back in the chair. "All he told me was that you were in the hospital and that you-

"No…" Sakura cut off, annoyed by his nervous ranting. "Why are you here?"

Kiba's brow furrowed at the question. "What?"

"After this morning…" Sakura started and her eyes slid back over to meet his own, "why would you even bother to come?"

The brown-haired boy's orbs widened with slight understanding of what she was getting at. "Well…I thought we agreed on being friends," he began, his voice revealing how uncomfortable he truly was. "…Isn't it normal for a friend to come visit another when their in the hospital...?"

"Yes…" Sakura said with a nod. "But not when it's on the same day they broke up."

An exasperated sigh escaped loudly from Kiba's parted lips. "Do we really have to get all technical about everything, here?" he asked with slight annoyance showing in his expression. "I was just worried about you, so I came…"

You shouldn't have. I'm here because this is my fault. You're too nice for this. Too sweet. You shouldn't have come. In fact, I wish you hadn't.

Yet another stillness easily took over the room, and the two sat in it for a short while until Kiba questioned, "So what really happened…?"

His question caused Sakura to glance back over at him. "What?"

"What really happened to make you have to come here?" the young man asked, his concerned eyes meeting her own. "I really doubt it was just what Naruto said."

Stop it now!

"What Naruto said was true," the girl answered, breaking contact with him. "I fainted from exhaustion. That's all there is to it."

"Tch…Don't feed me that crap, Sakura," Kiba told her, his tone becoming slightly harsher. "It's too much of a coincidence that that guy was the once who found you."

You're going to get hurt if you keep this up!

"I don't know what you're talking about," Sakura whispered, trying to downplay the interrogation her ex had started. "Nothing happened except for me passing out from fatigue. I don't know what you want to hear, but-

"I want to hear you tell me the damn truth already," Kiba yelled, leaning in closer to her so he could get a better view of her face. "You're lying to me! I can tell so just stop it! All I want from you is the truth of who that guy is!"

Stop it!

"Kiba…" Sakura whispered out, peering to her right to meet his gaze.


"I think you should go…" she finished.

Immediately, she saw the unspoken frustration gather in the boy's eyes. "Fine!" he bit out as he pushed himself up to his full height. Without a single word, he showed himself out and slammed the sliding door shut behind him.

The noise was loud enough to make Sakura wince slightly from where she sat before she sighed heavily down into her lap.

"…There is one thing that I will never quite understand and that is what you can possibly see in him," a voice rang out through the silence though Sakura found she didn't feel any surprise or shock from it like she used to.

It was pretty much common knowledge to her now that he was always observing her though all hours and everything she did.

"Just go away…" she breathed out the sentence, absolutely in no mood to humor him and the current games he wished to play with her.

"Ah, but that would be no fun at all," the puppet master's voice shot back playfully and out of the corner of her eye, Sakura watched as his form moved out from behind the long drapes that hung in front of the window before he moved further into the room. "You seem to be in a sour mood tonight," he acknowledged, stopping about five feet from where she sat on the bed.

Silently, she turned her level gaze onto him, hating to see that he was still wearing that same, arrogant smirk of his that he had parted with only a few minutes earlier.

It only widened when he saw that he had her full attention before he showed both of his empty hands as he decided to tease, "I fear that you will be severally disappointed if you were expecting a 'get well' card or some flowers."

"…Go away," Sakura repeated once more, giving him a hard glare. "Just leave me alone…"

Get out my life. Stay away from me. You're ruining everything.

Her current behavior caused a small frown to replace his sneer as he shifted all of his weight to his right. "Where did your feistiness go?" he questioned her. "You seem slightly boring tonight."

"And you seem disturbingly calm," Sakura shot right back.

One of the puppet master's brows shot up at the sentence she had loudly declared. "What do you mean?" he questioned, tipping his head slightly in puzzlement.

"Are you faking ignorance," the pink-haired girl began to ask with a sharp tone, "or have you really already forgotten that we were paid a visit earlier tonight by Uchiha Itachi?" .

"…So that's what has put you in this little mood?" Sasori asked, the smirk returning to his lips. "Is that all?"


"I will admit that the little visitor we received was not something that I had planned for, but I see no reason in getting so worked up about it," the puppet master told her. "Or are you upset about the time limit he has put on the game we're playing…?"

It's more like a time limit on my life….

Sakura's bitter thought was cut off by Sasori's small chuckle.

"You don't get it do you?" he mocked her which caused her to glance up at him with a glare. "…In the end, do you really believe that I'm going to follow the orders of a filthy Uchiha?" he asked, and he watched as her sea green orbs widened. "Uchiha Itachi is something that I will eventually have to deal with in a week," he continued, "but this game that we're playing together is something that will end when I wish it too..."

Sakura's lips parted but no words escaped from her mouth since she wasn't quite sure how to respond to his sentnce.

"But, may I offer you a small amount of advice though?" the pupppet master asked and he carried right on without waiting for her reply. "If you wish to keep your life for a little bit longer," he began, "than I suggest that you find ways to keep me entertained in our game…"

He turned quickly without waiting to see the shocked expression that came over her face or the way her lips turned down to form a scowl. "Good night, Haruno-san" was all he said instead, using the phony voice he employed when he was fronting as Kagari and she watched as he prepared to leave by exiting out the window he'd come from but not before leaving her with a, "Sleep tight…"

And then he was gone.




Silent and by herself, Haruno Sakura stood in front of the large, intimidating Hokage's desk, shifting from foot to foot awkwardly while she waited anxiously for the person who usually took the seat on the tall chair pulled up to it.

She'd been in the same position for the last ten minutes - having come here just like she'd been told to do right after checking out of the hospital which had been about twenty minutes ago. That meant it had given the nervousness plenty of time to build up in her gut and swirl around nauseatingly through the rest of her body.

It wasn't of any help at all that her head currently pounded away with a mind-splitting headache and that her stomach was growing angrily for some food. She was also still wearing the now foul-smelling, grimy clothes that she'd worn the night before to the bar with Ino and Hinata while large, dark-colored bags hung under her bloodshot, olive orbs due to her lack of sleep last night.

Altogether, she felt disgusting as well as exhausted and in the Hokage's office to receive what she was sure to be a lecture, was really one of the last places she wanted to currently be at.

Suddenly, the door leading into the room opened up with a loud, creaking sound right behind Sakura's back, causing her to jump slightly before she turned to see a yawning Tsunade entering, followed closely by the also tired-looking Shizune who was carrying the little, happy piglet, Tonton.

"Sakura…" the tall, blonde woman greeted her pupil stiffly with a long-stretched frown on her lips, and her high heels clacked nosily against the wooden floor as she walked over to her desk so that she could lean against it for support while she gave the young, pink-haired girl a onceover.

"…Shishou," Sakura responded politely, bowing her head respectfully to her sannin master, and glancing to her right, she also gave a kind nod of acknowledgement to Shizune as well to which the woman countered with the same gesture.

"How are you feeling today?" Tsunade asked, crossing her arms while tipping her head to her side to regard her student closely with a serious expression. "Any better?"

"Very much,"' Sakura answered calmly without any hesitation, though her insides turned uncomfortably from her uneasiness. "Thank you for your concern."

"…That's good," the Hokage commended, letting out a light sigh. Pushing herself away from the table, she stood before walking behind it to take her seat there. "Fainting from exhaustion is never a pleasant experience but at least it's not as bad as other injuries. I have to wonder though, what caused you to pass out from fatigue in the first place…"

Sakura blinked silently at the last sentence, fidgeting slightly under her shishou's heavy gaze.

"Sakura," Tsunade began slowly, "is there something that you should be telling me…?"

Biting her lower lip, Sakura stared at the woman who sat in front of her.

This was a person that she had looked at as a teacher, confidant, as well as a motherly-figure for the last couple years of her life, but still, Sakura found herself hesitating on whether to say anything about the current crisis her life was revolving around.

'Do you really think that any of your silly friends would believe you if you ever told them that me – a dead man – was in your apartment? That's right. They wouldn't. They'd think that you lost you mind and you'd be locked up in that little hospital that you work at for life.'

"No," Sakura finally answered, glad that her voice sounded strong and confident while she did it.

Nervously, she watched as Tsunade gave her a quizzical look that made her seem like she wasn't buying the answer until she said, "Okay. If there isn't anything else, you are dismissed for now. Just remember that you have a little over a week and two months left until you're suspension is up."

Sakura's mouth dropped open and a confused expression spread rapidly over her face as she watched her shishou signal Shizune to bring several documents over to the desk. It was like she was a completely forgotten matter.

"Am…Am I not receiving a lecture?"

The question caused Tsunade to glance up from her seat before she let out another loud sigh. "Do you really want one?" she asked, eyeing her pupil lazily. "I think you already know just what I would say, and besides, you look like crap. The best thing that I can tell your right at the moment is for you to go home and get some badly needed rest before you collapse once more from exhaustion. We don't want a repeat of last night's occurrence."

Sakura stared dumbfounded as the blonde-haired woman ended the conversation by looking back down to get started on her large stack of hated paperwork. The whole meeting had been surprisingly swift and painless to be actually real.

"…Goodbye then," Sakura whispered out after a moment of recovery from her shock before she turned to take her leave. She was half way across the room and almost to the door when her name sounded out through the air.


The young, pink-haired girl stopped shot of griping the handle of the door to turn around and glance back at the Hokage who was currently gazing back at her. "Yes?" she asked, her green eyes revealing a slight wariness.

"…You know that you were lucky that that Kagari kid came and found you instead of someone else…If it hadn't have been for him, who knows what could have possible happened to you…"

Sakura's orbs widened with surprise at the statement before she looked silently down to her feet. A small frown spread across her lips and the self-loathing flowed rapidly through her veins as she admitted in a small voice, "Hai…I know."

She could still feel Tsunade's weighty gaze on her, but she didn't dare to look up to meet it and after several more seconds of silence, she heard her shishou say, "Good…Well if there is nothing else, you are free to go."

"Thank you," Sakura whispered out before turning to let herself out.

Opening the door that led into the office, she closed it behind her without a sound before leaning back against it for some kind of support while she felt the sudden need to cry and let it all out come over her.

Don't you dare do it…!

A few short seconds passed by until Sakura felt she had enough strength to push herself away from her prop up and letting out a shaky breath, she started on her way to leave.

All she really wanted to do now was go take a shower, get a clean pair of clothes to change into, and then go to sleep for a couple of long hours, but as she rounded the corner, she soon found out that none of her wishes were something that would be coming true in the near future.

The sound of her tall, black boots clacking against the wooden floor came to an immediate halt when she saw the tall form standing further down the hallway, leaning against the wall casually with his hands deep in the pockets of his leather jacket while looking as if he was waiting for someone.

Knowing that that someone Kiba was probably looking for was her, Sakura took a small, hesitant step back, wondering if she could make a speedy escape and find another way out before he spotted her.

Don't look over here…

But it was already too late. His head turned in her general direction and she watched with anguish as his dark, brown orbs focused in on her form.

At the simple sight of her standing there, Kiba instantly pushed himself away from the wall and up to his full height before starting towards her. "Sakura," he greeted without one of his grins or even with any hint of a happy tone as he came to stop about a yard in front of her. "How are you…?"

"Kiba…" she said, her eyes turning guarded against the boy. "What are you doing here?" she asked her own question quite bluntly with a tone that sounded a bit too sharp even to her own ears.

Kiba didn't show that he had any problems with her obvious rudeness though since he immediately offered an answer to her inquiry without any hesitation. "I went by the hospital this morning to check up on you," he began to explain to her while his own nervousness caused him to shift from foot to foot uneasily. "But they told me that you'd already left to come down here, so…"

The expression in Sakura's sea green orbs turned into irritation. "So you followed me, then?" she finished for him.

Her words only caused Kiba's expression to harden with a heated glare. "I was worried about you!" he defended himself, the volume of his voice rising slightly as it revealed his quickly building anger. "Damn it, Sakura! You make me sound like some crazy stalker!"

Stop it. Just leave me alone or you're going to get hurt!

"…Well, I appreciate your concern," Sakura said icily as she pushed past him hard so she could continue on her way. "But I'm fine!"

Don't follow me…

To her disappointment she felt Kiba fall easily into step beside her only a second later as he asked, "Just what the hell is your problem?!"

My problem is that I'm trying to break off contact with you to save your stupid ass, but you just don't seem to get it!

"I don't have any problem," she responded in an unkind tone while she quickened her pace to try and lose him, but persistent as always, Kiba effortlessly kept up with the new speed she set without even breaking a sweat. Hoping he'd back off if she just acted mean, she snapped back at him, "What's yours'"

"My problem is with how you're acting!"

Sakura glanced his way to give him a nasty scowl. "And what's wrong," she started, instant relief filling her as she saw the exit about four yards ahead, "with the way I'm acting?!"

Reaching out, Kiba's long fingers wrapped around Sakura's thin wrist, snatching it up in his strong grip and forcing her to come to halt in her steps. Pulling on her arm slightly, he made her face him fully while stopping her from getting to the sweet outside that she currently craved so badly.

Stop it!

"Let me go!" Sakura commanded with a shout, jerking back to try and free herself from him but to her annoyance, he hung on tightly. "Now!"

Please…Just leave me alone…

"No! You said we could go back to being friends but you're just pushing me away and not even allowing me to do that! What the hell is up with you?!"

I'll hurt you again if I have to! If that's what it's going to take, I'll do it…!

"Well, I am very sorry but I just don't feel like acting all buddy/buddy with you at the moment because of yesterday, and if you don't let me go right now, I'll make you!"

She pulled against his grip once more and this time, she felt him let her free.

Hastily, she turned smartly on her heel before he could get another word in and started for the door once more. Flinging it open with a loud thumping sound, she marched out as fast as she could, not even bothering to hold it open for Kiba who banged into it ungracefully right behind her before making it through as well.

Don't follow me!

Walking out further into the busy street, Sakura made a sharp turn to her left, trying her best to lose the pursuing boy as quickly as she could by blending into the over-sized crowed that had come out to enjoy and bask in the beautiful, sunny morning.

"Sakura!" she could hear Kiba shouting after her constantly retreating back while he chased hurriedly behind her which caused him to bump into several pissed off people. "Just wait up for one damn minute!"

Stopping, Sakura did as she decided to turn and face him fully with a loud, exasperated sigh and a determined expression. "Listen, Kiba!" she started with a pointed tone. "I just-

"Sakura-chan!" an earsplitting voice rang out stridently, causing almost everybody who stood on the street to turn in the direction it had come from. Both Kiba and Sakura were no different as they glanced over to see an eager-looking Naruto running towards their way. "Sakura-chan!" the blonde called out again, waving his hand in a warm greeting.

"Naruto…?" Sakura asked with a small, confused expression when the boy stopped no more than a couple feet from her. "What are you doing here?"

The blonde's breath escaped out in small, fast puffs, showing that he'd probably been running for some time as he told her, "Jeeze! I can't believe how hard it was to find you! We've been looking for you all morning!"

Sakura's brows knit together. "We?"

"Good morning, Haruno-san," a voice greeted cheerfully, causing Sakura's olive-colored orbs to widen with slight shock before the looked past Naruto to see an approaching Sasori walking up to her and the other two boys with one of his fake grins on his face. "How are you today?" he asked as if he cared, coming to a stop at the blonde's side. "Feeling any better…?"

Sakura didn't bother to offer him an answer or any polite salutation in turn. Instead, her response was to glare at the puppet master angrily with strong dislike before turning to Naruto.

"What is he doing here?" she as well as Kiba asked at the same time though Kiba's voice surprisingly held more anger than hers'.

The blonde's cerulean orbs were as bright as the big, goofy grin on his lips as he answered, "He's here because we're all going out!"

The answer caused Sakura's eyes to narrow in misunderstanding. "Wh-What…?"

"He's here because we're all going out!" Naruto repeated once more, his voice even louder this time as he exclaimed the sentence. "It's a celebration for you not getting hurt and also for thanking Kagari!"

The pink-haired girl's mouth opened and closed again in shock as she tried to process the information she had just received. "What?" she repeated since it was the only word she sadly could currently manage to form.

Naruto sighed as her question, leaning to his right side and giving her a small exasperated look as he carried out the action. "Do I have to say it all again?" he whined before saying again with less enthusiasm, "We're all going out to celebrate…"

Sakura's eyes flew over to Sasori, locking gazes with him for a short moment before they slid back to her blonde teammate. "B-But…" she started, not sure what to say exactly. "Naruto…I-

"Am I invited?" Kiba asked, cutting of anymore of her mumbled sentence as he entered the conversation.

Naruto glanced his way, giving the young brown-haired man a onceover before answering, "Depends…"

Kiba's expression was overcome with irritation because of the single word. "On what?" he questioned, his teeth grinding together while he shoved his hands into his pockets angrily.

"On whether you're going to act like a stupid jackass again!" Naruto replied, crossing his arms while giving a glare.

"I wasn't acting like a jackass!" Kiba shouted, defending himself while his temper was starting to get the best of him. Looking past the blonde's shoulder, he pointed at the puppet master. "I already told you that it was him!"

"No! It was you!" Naruto shot right back, sounding no better than a toddler in a fight as he did it. "And you know it! Just admit it already!"

Kiba parted his lips once more to give yet another rejection to the idea of him acting like a jerk but he stopped himself right before the words could escape from his mouth. Looking to his side, he glanced at the pink-haired girl who stood there and then slid his gaze over 'Kagari', giving the other man a full glare of dislike, but he still mumbled out under his breath, "Fine…I won't act like a jackass again…Can I come?"

A grin broke out across Naruto's face. "Yep!" he answered brightly before turning to Sakura. "Okay, then. Let's go!"

"No," she objected, taking a step back from the little group that they'd formed. "I'm not going!"

"What?" Naruto blinked at her with confusion. "But Sakura-chan-


"Ahhh…Sakura-chan," the blonde whined out with a large frown, showing his disappointment at her lack of eagerness for the idea. "But why…?

"Because…" she started, meeting Sasori's golden-brown orbs that starred directly back into her own with a slight haughty look.

Because of him!

"Because, I'm just really tired," she said, coming up with a fake excuse that would be good enough to hopefully suffice. "It seems that so much has happened in the last twenty-four hours and I just really want to go home and take a shower before getting some rest…" Her words only seems to put Naruto down more, making her feel slightly guilty for her lying, but not enough to change her mind. "I'm sorry," she finished, trying to offer a kind smile to her teammate.

"That's okay," Sasori cut into the conversation with that phony cheerfulness he currently possessed as well as a grin. "I understand Haruno-san. Naruto-san, Kiba-san, and I can go alone today and maybe when you're feeling slightly better, you can come another time…"

The puppet master's words caught the young, pink-haired girl's attention, just as he knew it would.

'And then…I'll escalate it a bit. Who knows? Maybe one of your friends will up and disappear without a trace and be found dead in a ditch the next day…'

The words Sasori had told her earlier came back to ring through her mind like some earsplitting, warning bell.

"What do you think of that plan, Haruno-san?" 'Kagari' asked her, a hint of his true self shining through his expression and eyes. "Does it work for you?"


She glared in return. "…I change my mind," she hissed out through clenched teeth. "I'll come too." To her side, Kiba gave her a weird look while Naruto cheered happily at her sudden change of heart, but she ignored them both, only focusing in on Sasori. "What do you think of that plan, Kagari-san," Sakura asked, using his words over in her own sentence though hers' wasn't as sugarcoated as his. "Does it work for you?"

She watched as a small smirk overcame the puppet master's lips, showing that he was obviously humored by her mouthing off. "Quite," he answered. "Shall we get going then…?"

"Let's just get this over with," she snapped, pushing past him hard as well as the other two boys. "Naruto, where are we going?!"

"Ichiraku!" the blonde answered with a joyful shout which only caused Sakura's eyes to roll.

Of course…