Days had passed just as easily. Slowly but surely, Sakura found her own little niche in the Yakushi household - waking up when Ino pounded on her door, getting washed and dressed, helping with breakfast, eat, attend to whomever the doctor needed to in the morning, go home for a light lunch, go back out to heal, then back home for dinner. After dinner, according to Ino, was the only time of day that was not strictly regimented (even the Holiest of days they worked! What a sacrilegious attitude towards God!), for sometimes Dr. Yaksuhi went out with friends, or entertained people at home, or a whole lot of other things. Ever since Sakura had come to work with him, however, he had gone out, leaving Ino, Chouji, Shikamaru, and Sakura to their own devices.

So far, the pink haired young woman had practically devoured a good quarter of the expansive library, and was planning on continuing that night. That plan, however, was dashed before she even made it to the flat's door, her apron still bloody from the operation she helped preform (an absolutely simple and practically bloodless one had the idiot not start crying half way through. God, was she going to pound the little twerp into the ground had Dr. Yakushi not given her that stupid smile that made her face flush so!) and appearance slightly ragged, when it opened. Chouji gave Sakura an apologetic look as his wife pulled her into the bathroom.

"Go get ready and cleaned, now!" the stout woman all but screeched at the younger girl, pushing her into the servants' spartan bathroom. Ino puttered about, getting the water to run before looking at Sakura with a harsh, critical eye. "Well, come on now. Strip."

The slightly sadistic gleam in the blond's eyes had Sakura complying easily, stripping down and getting into the lukewarm water to wash off. When Ino seemed satisfied (and started ranting about making that 'lovable excuse of a husband' of hers presentable as well), Sakura looked around before pulling herself out of the bath and dried off. The clothes were the nicer ones that she had been given and instantly set the pink-haired girl on alert. Why would she need to wear such a nice dress?

A knock at the door and a shrill yell to "Hurry up in there or I will drag you and dress you like the big foreheaded brat you are!" shook Sakura out of her thoughts and helped her double time it into the dress. The frilly, fashionable pinkish-red reception dress fit her well, accentuating her assets while still keeping a tasteful look. Sakura had to admit, that Ino-pig could choose good outfits.

Another knock at the door made Sakura sigh before opening it, only to be pulled out and see Shikamaru get thrown in with a well-tailored suit. Sakura was turned this way and that, as Ino observed the girl in the garb she chose.

"Passable, but I think you could do with out the extra 'hump' on the back," she mused (Wasn't she the one who chose it!? Sakura seethed in the back of her mind) out loud. "Now, come on then. They'll be here in a little while."

This got Sakura's attention off of thinking of ways to brutally kill the blonde and hide her body. "Who will be here?"

A slow, saucy smirk crossed Ino's features, as if taunting her with the knowledge. "You'll see, Sakura dear."

Ugh... Why did that seem to spell "impending doom" in her mind?

~*~

"Yes, yes, don't worry, Herr Kunst. The last one is long gone. You were there when I bought her replacement, remember?" Kabuto listened for a moment, before sighing with a shake of his head. "No, I have - ... - Wait! I - ... - Fine. I'll see you when you get here." There was an audible click. "Ugh..." With a snarl, Kabuto hung up the phone, rubbing his temples as he thought over the conversation.

That.. that... UGH! Kabuto felt a tic place itself in his right eye. He had planned for a nice uneventful dinner with Madame Tsunade, head nurse and the real director at the hospital he affiliated with, and her husband Jiraiya (director only in name). Of course, that stupid pervert just had to be in the same sort of "Underground" circles as himself and Herr Kunst and allowed it to slip out (probably thanks to copious amounts of whiskey) that they were having dinner in his home tonight.

And now that asshole was about to come by, and probably bring his little "friend" too.

"Um... Mr. Kabuto?" Shikamaru had entered the study after being forced into a much more dashing suit, before Ino took herself and Chouji into the servant's bathroom to wash and change. He did not envy his best friend when his wife was in that sort of mood. "Does that mean that I ought to get more plates ready?"

Kabuto heaved a great sigh, before shaking his head. "Yes, it would seem Sai and his little... friend," the word was said with an emotion half-way between contempt and amusement, "will be joining us tonight. Do see that they have a proper place at the table." The unsaid 'away from each other' was understood well enough, and Shikamaru quickly scurried out of the room to do as his employer bid him to.

It was going to be a long night.

~*~

The doorbell rang and Chouji opened it. Behind the door stood a tall, black haired man in elegant clothing and a blond haired... person hiding behind him.

"Ah, Herr Kunst, so good of you to join us tonight," said Shikamaru, letting the two in with a flourish and gritted teeth. Despite the placid words, Sakura knew that the other man severely disliked the handsome looking man who was coming in. "Ah, and Mr. Naruto is here as well. How do you do?" The brunet's tone changed dramatically between the two men (Sakura could hardly believe that the lithe, little blonde standing at this man's side was a man; he was far too pretty) - with this person, he seemed even caring, a remarkable difference between his normal, nonchalant attitude the rest of the time.

This 'Naruto' smiled and waved, before pouncing on the slim brunette. "SHIKA! It's been FOREVER!" Oh, yeah, he was definitely a blonde. His dress was somber, even morbid, and contrasted greatly with his bright hair and eyes, as well as his sunshine-like personality. "And Ino and Chouji and Kabuto are here too! And, what's this, someone new?" Sky blue eyes riveted on Sakura's form and the young woman was taken aback by the way his gaze pierced. And then the moment was gone when he opened his mouth again to talk a good kilometer a minute. "'Ello there, I'm Naruto! What's your name? Oh, and this is Sai, he's like, my sponsor or something and - Oh, don't close the door!" He yelled as Shikamaru was about to shut the door to the flat. "Grandma Tsunade and Old Man Jiraiya are gonna be here in a few minutes. Their car was just up the street an' all that."

Slowly, Shikamaru nodded and kept the door open, stifling a sigh. It was going to be a long night.

~*~

The Yakushi household was a flurry of movement as another couple came into the residence before Ino had forgone normal etiquette and ushered everyone into the dining room for dinner. The normal table there had mysteriously disappeared (Sakura wondered how such a feat was possible) and was replaced by a large, beautifully decorated round table. Small placards designated where each person should sit, and Sakura's eyes widened when she found herself placed beside the Lady Tsunade.

Not like the pinkette had known when the woman came into Kabuto's home with a huff, pulling a quite intoxicated man along and a laughing man with a mask over part of his face trailing behind. Sakura was getting a chance to sit beside her idol of many years and, already, butterflies were stirring within her stomach. The large, reassuring hand of Kabuto helped center her as she sat down at the offered chair primly, as a woman of her (former) status should. Kabuto took his seat next to her while the masked man pulled up the chair for the head nurse, before scurrying to his own next to Naruto.

That's odd, Sakura mused. Herr Kunst came with Naruto, but they do not sit next to each other? The table's set up was odd - she sat beside Lady Tsunade, who's other side was occupied by Director Jiraiya (Sakura recognized him quite easily - she had heard stories from other nursing hopefuls when she was in school, of a man who, although a genius with a scalpel, was a bit too loose with his lips and hands). Herr Kunst sat beside him, followed by Shikamaru (who looked more perturbed than bored by the current seating, which was odd as well), Ino, and Chouji. The masked man (Kakashi, Sakura thought, was what Lady Tsunade called him. Perhaps her son?) sat beside Naruto, whom was eagerly engaging both the man and Kabuto in conversation. Sakura felt immensely pleased that Kabuto was sitting next to her; the cool touch of his fingers through her clothes was comforting in such a situation.

"Let's say grace, shall we? Kakashi, if you could?"

Kakashi's one-showing eye (ah! How could Sakura have missed that prominent eye patch covering the man's left eye?) curved up, giving the room the distinct impression that he was smiling. He held his hands open, palm up to both sides of him, before Naruto eagerly took it. Kabuto was more hesitant, but took it as well with no coaxing. Moments later, those sitting at the table were linked together. "Nos oremus!" Latin practically flew from those covered lips, startling Sakura at how clear it can be from behind a piece of cloth. "Benedic, Domine, nos et hæc Tua dona, quæ de Tua largitate sumus sumpturi. Per Christum, Dominum nostrum. Dear lord, thank you for the circle that binds us. May you bless the food that we are about to receive, and all the hands that touched it. Thank you, our saving grace, Amen."

And then the hands let go, dropping each other like hand grenades. Plates of food were passed around, and amiable conversations popped up along the table. It took a while, but Sakura was able to shake off Kabuto's reassurances and talk to Lady Tsunade as an equal. It was quite an exhilarating experience - after Tsunade realized that not only Sakura had read every single one of her (well, her husband's, but they worked on it together) books on medicine and the future of the health profession, but had enough wit and tact to keep up with her, the two were quickly bouncing ideas back and forth, talking about all sorts of medical maladies. They were in a particularly rousing debate over the ethics of using fetuses for experimenting when silverware clattered and the chair to Sakura's other side harshly scrapped against the floor as its occupant stood up quickly.

"What did you say!?" The words were not shouted but hissed, yet they were still more than enough to stop the rest of the conversations. That tone from anyone could be deadly, but coming from a man like Kabuto Yakushi, Sakura thought, was down right terrifying.

Kakashi stood up as well, standing defensively in front of Naruto, who seemed to have been the person to say something to cause such an explosive reaction. "I'm sure, Yakushi," Sakura's employer's name was hissed as a dark grey eye narrowed, "that Naruto did not mean what he said. He's obviously confused - he's Naruto." An indignant "hey!" came from the tiny blond (for Naruto was tiny, now that Sakura thought of it) as he flailed his hands around his head.

"I said what I mean and I meant what I said! I saw Lord Uchiha's younger brother the other day!" Naruto said with a huff. "He sat in a psychology class of mine in the university, although I would not have noticed him if it wasn't for Kurenai pointing him out as an auditor of the class. After the professor let us leave, he approached me outside the classroom. He said such queer things about you, too... And kept asking questions about things I surely could not answer! Why, he kept coming back to Ms. Sakura here - as if I had seen her before tonight! I know the boy is supposedly a bit touched in the head, but he had no reason to speak of a lady like that, even if I have never met her." Here, Naruto gave Sakura contemplative look from behind the two men. "And I most certainly agree with only one thing the man said - you are quite a lovely young lady, Ms. Sakura." His sudden compliment made a fine blush dust her cheeks. The boy smiled at Naruto before turning sharply to Herr Kunst, who was gazing at the blond with a smoldering glare. Naruto sighed before slipping out from in front of his seat, pushing his chair into place with a murmured 'excuse me.' He left the dining room with Herr Kunst right at his heels.

Kakashi was the first to sit down, picking up his fork to resume the meal he was previously eating, despite the mask. It took a moment more for Kabuto - the calm, composed doctor that Sakura had found herself admiring over the past few weeks - to quell his shaking before he, too, could right his chair and sit down again, although agitation still tensed his shoulders.

Despite the attempts to bring the lively dinner conversation back, Sakura could still feel the blanket of perturbation covering the table, without really knowing the cause.

To be continued

----

Author's Note:

Well, not exactly before New Years. Sorry, I was busy. I'm back in classes now, hahaha. I got a one shot that needs writing, and a bunch of random ideas that need to be written down. Might get an actual x-over on here, and HoL is in need of love, hahaha.

Um, so, yeah. Kakashi was thrown in there last minute. Getting into the groove of Naruto characters is hella hard when I haven't seen the series in ever and have practically given up on it. Add the fact that I'm on a WEWY binge and, well...

There ya have it. This stupid thing has been in my inbox for a while, but I didn't want to have it too half-assed (Naruto's appearance was what I had up to originally), so I added some bit. So, still crappy, but at least I tied it a bit.

Ack, disclaimer! I don't own Naruto! If I did, would this be on FFN? And the plot is only loosely owned by me too, lulz.