Right. Well. I have a chapter of Leader's Towel on the go, Drunken Uchiha Incident is half written in my notebook, and my Christmas Special was so late due to a failure of the internets that I'm adapting it into a Valentines Day Special instead. Hopefully you guys know how sorry I am already, having skimmed over my profuse apologies in everything else I've updated in the last year (which, painful though it is to admit, isn't very much).

Anyway, I had a PM a while ago from someone who wanted to read Gender Issues, and so here it is. Chapter One. Enjoy. I am now going to hide from your torches and pitchforks.

Disclaimer: Tei is mine. Rei is Lady Lilliana's. Anno, Rimu, the Hawktopus and Esme are joint possessions. Sai's breakfast is Sai's. And everything else is merely borrowed. Do not sue me, for I am poor.


Puberty. It happens to the best of us. A time that all dread… but generally not until after it's started, because no doubt nobody really understands how terrible it is until they have experienced it. It is a time during which one finds new bits popping out everywhere, nobody understands one anymore, people attempt to give one talks with capital Ts… and suddenly boys don't seem to have cooties any more. It is a peculiar time that generally occurs between the ages of eleven and sixteen, however, occasionally it occurs much later… at the age, for example, of somewhere above two hundred.

I would like to say that it was a normal morning in the Akatsuki Cave, but as I'm sure we have already established, there is no such thing as a normal morning for the Akatsuki. The average morning for Akatsuki involves alcohol, corpses, explosions, more alcohol, cake, bats, and underwear. This cannot be defined as normal in any culture I've ever heard of, and so it shall not be defined as normal. Besides, it is normal to be abnormal, so technically that would make it normal, but, well, that's just too deep. Too deep I say!

Suffice to say that for the Akatsuki, this was a regular morning, complete with three dead door-to-door salesmen piled on Zetsu's breakfast plate.

As said Venus-flytrap-man calmly gnawed an arm, one particular blonde she-male turned away from the table and calmly threw up in the nearest bin.

Yes. A normal morning for Akatsuki, but for one thing.

Tobi's bunches.

Tied with blue scrunchies, perched on top of his head, and conveniently not clashing with his mask. Nervous eyes glancing his way learned nothing- Tobi was, in fact, acting completely normal, eating his cornflakes happily.

Finally, someone had to ask.

"…Tobi."

"Yes, Kisame-sempai?"

Kisame cleared his throat nervously. "Uh… what's with the… uh…"

He gestured at Tobi's hair, glancing around the table. Everyone, bar Leader, was listening intently for Tobi's answer. Leader was merely listening… not-so-intently, curious as to why the happy-go-lucky shinobi was drawing even more attention to himself... again.

"Tobi has an announcement!" Tobi jumped up, happily waving his spoon and drenching his fellow Akatsuki with soggy cornflakes. The only one who escaped this milky fate was the kidnapped Konoha-nin Sai, who was currently curled up underneath the table, happily accepting slices of bacon or corners of toast from various S-class criminals. A small parcel of cheese and bread addressed to him had even followed Orochimaru's brick in through the window this morning.

"Tobi has thought about it a lot," Tobi continued, oblivious, "And Tobi has decided that Tobi would like to be a girl."

Silence reigned throughout the room for all of eight seconds (well, eight point six nine two four three seconds to be precise, but who's counting?). Then it was shattered by Rimu, who burst out laughing. Hidan and Sasori quickly followed suit, Leader rolled his eyes and went back to his comic, Tei went back to her Cheerios and vodka, Sai twitched and went back to sleep, and everyone else, bar Rei (raising a gigantic mallet above her head) and Anno (who was too confused to care), sniggered behind their hands.

"Shit, Tobi, you're so fucking stupid!"

Another three point six eight three seconds later, Hidan and Rimu were bleeding on the carpet and Sasori had fled to his room to repair his face before Deidara saw. Rei raised the mallet threateningly. "Anyone else?"

Leader sighed contentedly into his coffee mug. Sometimes, his peons did do evil things, even if it was against their fellow Akatsuki, and he was reminded exactly why he'd ever made this group in the first place. Ah, at times like these, he could pretend world domination was within his reach...

"Don't you dare make fun of Tobi's innocent mind! If he wishes to be a woman, I say, good on him! I mean, her!"

Unfortunately for Leader, his moments of bliss were always very brief.

"Rei, did you get that mallet from Esme-chan?" Tei inquired, downing a glass of sherry.

"Why yes, yes I did," Rei replied proudly, hefting the mallet over one shoulder. "And you all should be ashamed of yourselves! Making fun of Tobi like that! It's a very big decision to make, becoming a woman. Why, I remember the day I became a woman..."

"So do I," muttered Anno, remembering a ten-year-old Rei beating him up for asking why she was looking a little ill.

Tei, however, was remembering something else. "Shut up, Anno. I remember that. Wasn't that that time when that ANBU Hyuuga--"

"Not that sort of 'becoming a woman', Tei," Rei admonished. "The sort that includes puberty."

"Oh! I thought you meant--"

"Yes, we all know what you thought she meant," interrupted Itachi. If one looked closely, one could see a slight pink tinge on the bridge of Rei's nose. Very slight, but it was definitely there. The room fell silent again.

Kisame recovered first. "Anyway, it doesn't work like that, Tobi. You don't get to choose."

Again, the room fell silent, but this time, instead of avoiding the eyes of an unflustered Rei and a smirking Tei, all eyes were on a scowling Deidara. He half expected one of his obsessive admirers/stalkers to jump in to defend his honour, but then remembered that one of them was lying in a crumpled heap on the floor and the other was probably carving himself a new face right about now. "Oh, shut up. Just shut up."

"Well then," Rei clapped her hands. Tei and Anno mysteriously disappeared and reappeared flanking her. "To the conference room. Tei, fetch Sasori and meet us there. Anno..."

The entire Akatsuki, including the fearsome and fearless Leader, couldn't help but fight back a violent shudder at four words they knew were coming next.

"Fetch me my easel."


Ahem... Yeah.... well... To Lady Lilliana: that stuff we had notes on? That's in the next chapter, 'kay? Yeah. To everyone else: Review please?