Please don't hate me. I worked for quite a while on this, and did my best to be loose and carefree with the writing. Because I was having a hard time finishing this, I decided to skip a few questions (I'm sorry!), but don't worry! Everyone who asked a question when I prepared to start writing this has had at least one of theirs answered. :] Love you all, and thank you so much for sticking with me on this! Without any further ado, here: have an intermission.
Naruto and all characters found therein belong to Masashi Kishimoto, not me.
It was a calm, comfortable afternoon in a small tourist village at the border between the Lands of Sound and Hot Water. The largest building in this small town was the family-owned Mizushima Inn. Taking up a good portion of the main street (directly adjacent to a small clothing store and an even smaller ramen shop), this decently sized establishment boasted natural hot springs and an all-you-can-eat buffet, and just so happened to have zero availability on this particular Sunday afternoon (and not because of the thriving population of tourists).
If one were to ask the current owner of the Mizushima Inn – that is, Mizushima Hiroshi-san – why his inn was completely booked, he would excitedly reply that a rather important man was holding a very important business meeting and reserved the entire inn for himself and his colleagues. His excitement, while a bit odd from another's point of view, was completely justified given the two simple facts that no one quite as important had ever stayed at his family's inn before, and no one had ever requested to reserve the hundred-and-three suite, three-and-a-half star establishment before.
If one were to ask precisely who this rather important man was, Mizushima Hiroshi-san would reply, "Why, the Tsuchikage and his Counsel, of course!"
All was calm and quiet in the hot spring as a group of eight men and two women relaxed in the nearly-too-warm waters of the pool. Now, before you get uncomfortable with the co-ed sharing of the pool, please keep in mind everyone was clothed in their own bathing attire to provide a (slightly) more professional environment for the proceedings. Ahem, now where was I? Ah…
All was calm and quiet, until a certain silver-haired man suddenly straightened and shouted, "Wait, what the fuck?"
As if a spell had been broken, the other nine individuals also sat up from their various relaxed positions and proceeded to murmur confusedly amongst themselves.
"Where the hell are we, un?" asked a man with unnaturally pretty blond hair.
"Tobi doesn't know! Have we been kidnapped? Tobi was kidnapped!" cried an oddly masked man.
"Weren't we just in Kawabe… on our way back to the hotel?" asked a young, pink-haired woman. (Yes, it was her natural color.)
"We had just run into my foolish brother," replied a beautiful man with absurdly gorgeous long black hair.
"Forget your brother – where's my fried squid? I just had it!" grumbled an oddly blue man with even bluer gravity defying hair.
"Screw your squid. Where's my money?" growled a tanned man with an uncomfortable amount of stitches covering his body in strange patterns.
An equilaterally bicolored man and a blue haired woman both sat in an awkward silence, eyes jumping in various directions to ascertain their surroundings.
"Silence," ordered an excessively pierced man with orange hair. Despite the lack of volume in his voice, the entirety of the group reflexively responded with a sudden and obedient hush. Seeing that all eyes were trained on him, the man nodded and proceeded to answer (most of) their questions. "We are sitting in a hot spring at an inn, located in a small village on the border between the Lands of Sound and Hot Water. I have had us transported here for a purpose that I will expound on shortly. As for how we arrived here and the lack of memory regarding the past few hours, I—"
At this point, the Leader was interrupted by a foreign, mechanical grinding noise, followed shortly thereafter by a strongly accented voice shouting, "Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey!" There was another odd sound, followed by utter, awkward silence.
The Leader cleared his throat. "Yes, quite. In any case, the 'how' doesn't matter so much as the 'why.'" Reaching behind himself, he produced a large, sealed scroll with the letters "LAL" engraved in the wax. "This is why. It seems you all have acquired an odd following of sorts, of which, in all honesty, I am a little disappointed. What Shinobi Core Trait does this 'fan club' and its existence interfere with?"
A moment of hesitation settled over the group before a tentative hand rose up.
"Stealth?" she asked, affecting a timid expression.
"Correct. I'm unsure how you all managed to develop such a group of devotees, but please take measures to ensure your missions remain strictly confidential. Now," at this, Leader held the scroll up. "Would anyone care to read this aloud to the rest of us? I've contained my curiosity enough to not look at the contents myself."
Another moment of hesitation occurred before Deidara spoke up. "So, it's like, fan mail, un?"
Sakura's eyes lit up. "Oh this has gotta be good. May I, Leader-sama? Please?"
Nodding his head, he passed the scroll over to Sakura. Performing a quick jutsu to unseal the scroll, Sakura carefully unrolled the long reel of parchment. The rest of the group watched as her bright green eyes scanned the contents, and the curiosity became palpable as she made a few odd facial expressions. "Some of these are… huh. Okay, so I guess they're all directed at each of us, and a few are for the whole group. Let's start with—"
"Tobi! Tobi wants a question!" the masked man shouted, raising a hand excitedly and splashing water into the blond man's eyes, earning him a punch to the gut.
"Calm the hell down, Tobi, un! Idiot!"
Sakura politely waited for Tobi to recover his breath before asking a question. "KrysOfSorrow – that's an odd name – asks, 'Do you want to build a snowman?'"
That perked him up. "Oh! Oh! Tobi knows this one!" He cleared his throat and proceeded to sing in an awkward falsetto, "It doesn't have to be a snowma-AAH!"
The blond man jumped up and shoved Tobi under the water. Before he had a chance to tighten his grip, Tobi managed to kick his legs out from beneath him and the blond man dropped into the heated spring. "Deidara-senpai! How rude!" Tobi cried in a hurt tone.
Spluttering, Deidara managed to find his seat again and glared at the masked man. "Your singing sucks, un."
Shaking her head, Sakura continued with the next question. "Okay, Kisame these are for you. Acetwolf94 – another odd one – what qualities do you look for in a woman?" Sakura was joined in a few chuckles by a couple of the others in the pool as Kisame turned an interesting shade of purple. "They also want to know how you got to be blue, and at what age your first kill was."
"Are these people writing encyclopedias on us or something?" Kisame asked, running a hand through his still-spiky hair. "Well, I was born blue. I never met my father, so I'm guessing that trait came from him. And my first kill was at… what was it, seven? Eight? Something like that."
"And the first question?" Hidan asked, with a mocking smirk.
"Screw you," Kisame replied. "I don't know. A strong fighter with a pretty face and a good sense of humor, I guess."
Hidan leaned forward eagerly. "My turn. Ask me one."
Sakura scanned the scroll for a moment before she perked up. "Tossie wants to know how you became a Jashinist. They also said, and I quote, 'If that's too hard for your IQ, why do you cuss so much?'" The rest of the group snickered as Hidan's expression went from mildly excited to rather insulted.
"Fuck that. I cuss so much because can, that's why. It's ignorant heathens like you sorry bastards that drive me to it."
"Funny," Kakuzu stated. "I always figured it was because you have an inferiority complex and have to compensate with sexual innuendos and cursing."
Hidan stared in outraged shock at his partner for a few seconds, gears obviously grinding for an appropriately witty response, before he gave up and shouted, "F-fuck you, Kakuzu!"
Sakura raised a delicate pink eyebrow at Hidan's reaction, choosing not to comment on the fact that Hidan had inadvertently proven Tossie's jab at his intelligence. "Okay then! On to the next one," she announced, scanning the page for some more questions. "Here's one for Deidara, from… Kiri-chan, who seems to include many kisses in their name? She wants to know what brand… Ha!"
Deidara leaned forward eagerly as Sakura started giggling. "What is it, un? Brand of what?"
"Eyeliner!" she choked out between giggles. "They say they've been looking for a new brand of eyeliner themselves and wanted to know what you use!"
The rest of the group snickered, and Deidara fiercely fought the slight red tinge his cheeks were developing. "I only use the best, of course. Kevyn Aucoin provides the most artistic approach to looking fierce and fashionable, un," he responded with as much bravado as he could muster in the face of his more "macho" peers, crossing his arms and averting his gaze to a very interesting cluster of bubbles a little to his left.
A few more moments of giggling and snickering later, Sakura was moving on to the next question. "Kakuzu, Haisuli123 asks if your… tentacles… are a jutsu or a bloodline limit, and would you sacrifice all of your money if you were in a life and death situation?"
Kakuzu looked up in the vague direction of a group of cumulus clouds before answering. "My 'tentacles' – as Haisuli-san put it – are the result of a secret jutsu I stole from my village. The likelihood of a life and death situation occurring in which I must sacrifice my money in order to survive is microscopic, and should therefore warrant no thought whatsoever."
A slightly dissatisfied silence followed this statement, broken by Kakuzu's sharp sigh at the stares of his comrades. "But if such a situation were to occur, I am highly confident I would be able to regain any and all losses in due time after said incident."
Sakura cleared her throat. "Alright then. Leader-sama, I found one for you." At this, she looked up nervously. "I'm not so sure I should…"
The excessively pierced man sighed and replied, "I will take no offense to whatever your masses of fans desire to know."
Sakura nodded before continuing. "Right. Tossie says, 'I think peace isn't the only thing you want. If you wanted simple peace, wouldn't you find another way than to kill the jinchuuriki?'"
The atmosphere of the hot springs suddenly became decidedly solemn before the Leader bowed his head in quiet contemplation. The other nine individuals all seemed to squirm where they were seated in slight worriment, awaiting the unknowable response of their fearsome Leader.
"Tossie-san is correct; I do desire more than peace. Acquiring the tailed beasts will grant untold power to the one who is able to contain it. However, by being the one to hold all of that power, I will be able to enforce peace. Regrettably, there are really no other viable options to acquiring the bijou; the jinchuuriki die, but they die for the ultimate goal of peace." At this, he looked up at Sakura. "I believe that answers the question."
"Yes, sir. Very well said," Sakura replied carefully, and the other members nodded reassuringly. Sakura cleared her throat and picked another question from the seemingly endless supply written upon the scroll. "Itachi, I have one for you. This is from… LadyJadyeHatake?" Her green eyes grew round with shock. "I… I don't know what to think of this."
"A relative of his, perhaps?" Kisame offered.
"Is he married?" Itachi asked.
"Crazy fan-girl, more like," Hidan sniggered, and Tobi elbowed him in the ribs.
"That's unkind, Hidan-san!" Tobi admonished.
"In any case," Sakura interrupted, recovering from her moment of confusion (and inwardly making a note to question her old sensei when she returned home), "She says your hair is gorgeous – I agree – and wonders what conditioner you use."
Itachi nodded in silent appreciation to the compliments. "I do not actually use conditioner. I use a homemade mixture of mayonnaise, yogurt, coconut oil and honey."
A few members of the group made gagging noises, and the others tried not to giggle at the image of the ever-emotionless Itachi massaging a messy mixture of mayonnaise into his pristine hair.
Sakura tried not to grimace. "O-okay then… Next! Zetsu, here's one for you. KrysOfSorrow – another odd one – asks, 'If you could create a new breed of plant or flower, what would it look like, and what would you name it?'"
Without hesitation, Zetsu answers, "It would be small – huge – and multicolored – a gradient of fuchsia and aqua – and very delicate – carnivorous. I would name it iridis flore parva – Deadly Fuchsiqua."
Yet another awkward silence settles over the group after Zetsu's rather schizophrenic display of horticultural innovation.
"That's… nice, Zetsu," Sakura responds worriedly. "Okay, Nanashi wants to ask everyone if any of us has kicked a puppy or kitten. That is deplorable, I would never dream of it."
Tobi nearly fainted in response. Kakuzu shrugged and admitted to forcibly removing a small, starving kitten from his presence with his foot when it tried using a pile of paper bills as a litter box, to which Hidan leveled a nasty glare and declared Kakuzu a "sick, godless motherfucker" and vowed to personally remove Kakuzu's feet if it happens again. Itachi and Kisame answered in the negative, and Deidara admitted to accidentally kicking a puppy as he was making an escape during a botched vandalism attempt. Zetsu quietly mentioned that both animals were rather tasty when marinated correctly, and Konan visibly shuddered at the thought Zetsu's response brought forth. Pein merely shook his head, whether as an answer to the question or in response to his underlings, the world may never know.
Coughing in an attempt to return to normalcy, Sakura moved on. "Kisame, Kiri-chan wants to know why your favorite color is pink – she said, 'don't lie, we all know it's true' – and if it's true that you have a biting fetish."
This question evidently did the trick, as the mood lightened considerably and Kisame turned an interesting shade of purple. "My favorite color is not pink, it's green," he replied indignantly, "and if she must know, yes, I do like biting. I wouldn't say it's a fetish, per se, but it makes things… interesting."
Chuckles permeated the air, and Hidan voiced a lewd agreement to Kisame's last comment.
Still smirking, Sakura continued, "And to go along with that, Haisuli123 wants to know if you sharpen your teeth, or if they're natural."
"I sharpen them. It's a Mist thing. Plus, it goes with the whole shark vibe," he responded, visibly less embarrassed by this line of questioning.
"Not sure if that's creepy or kinda cool," Sakura muttered. "Here's an interesting one. Tobi, Tossie says, and I quote, 'I know who you are! Kidding. I kind of know, kind of don't. I can't decide who you are between two people that I know of, both Uchiha!' So, not really a question, but…"
Tobi brought his hands to his mask in a pantomime of shock. "Tossie-san knows me? But… Tobi is Tobi! Tobi isn't Uchiha Tobi! Tobi is just Tobi, because if Tobi was Uchiha Tobi, Tobi would be related to Itachi-san, but Tobi isn't related to Itachi-san! Who is this Tossie-san, and why do they say I am Uchiha Tobi? Tobi is so confused!"
At this, the masked man proceeded to wail piteously, and Deidara – with no small amount of discomfort – vaguely attempted to offer consolation by roughly patting Tobi on the shoulder.
"Crazy fan-girls," Hidan reiterated in a sing-song tone of voice, which earned him a few uncomfortable chuckles.
"Konan-san, here's one for you from Tossie, who says you should spend more 'girl time' with me," Sakura says with a giggle to the only other female present, who smiles softly in response while adjusting her wilting origami hairpiece.
"I would probably enjoy that, Sakura-san, if we had the time. Perhaps someday soon?" she asks, and Sakura nods good-naturedly, while thinking that these questions are weird and perhaps she should just say that's all there is on the scroll. That is, until she sees what's next on the list, and fairly screeches in amusement.
"Ha! Kisame, here's one from KrysOfSorrow, who asks – and I quote – 'Wanna go out?' followed by a winking face and, in parentheses, 'I had to, not sorry.'"
Kisame, despite the laughing of his peers, manages to keep the shocked spluttering to a bare minimum as he flounders for an answer (pun certainly intended). "Um… I don't do blind dates. Maybe…? Is that an acceptable answer?" Inwardly he wonders why all of his questions range from mildly embarrassing to borderline sexual harassment.
The chuckling continues as Sakura moves on. "Kakuzu, LadyJadyeHatake wants to know if you would marry money if you could."
"Yes," the stitched man deadpanned, and then proceeded to list a few reasons as to why. "Money doesn't complain, it doesn't ask for anything, and it is simply content with serving its purpose. Unlike women, who—"
"OKAY," Sakura nearly shouts. "Let's derail that train before it explodes. Deidara, here's one from Tossie."
"This Tossie chick really has an ungodly amount of questions, damn," Hidan grunts in an aside to Itachi, who mumbles a monosyllabic agreement.
Sakura continues as if nothing was said. "She wants to know if your hands are part of a kekkei genkai, or if were you simply born with them? She also asks, 'If they're kekkei genkai, wouldn't there be more of your clan with it? Or do you not have a clan?'"
Deidara takes a moment to gather his thoughts, distractedly running a hand through his ridiculously pretty hair. "By my hands, I'm assuming she means the mouths, un. These," he says, holding up both hands as the mouths open simultaneously in twin mischievous, tongue-lolling grins, "are part of a forbidden jutsu I stole from my old village. The explosive chakra, on the other hand, is a bloodline limit. From what I can remember, some of my family possessed the bakuton as well. I wouldn't say I ever had a 'clan.' It's a rare bloodline limit, but more common in Iwa than anywhere else."
"Interesting," Sakura replied, nodding slightly as she absorbed this new information. "These are good questions…"
A moment of awkward, anticipatory silence ensued.
"Sakura-san?" Tobi asked nervously, taking in her blank expression with concern.
"I spoke too soon. Guys, let's promise to never do this again," Sakura replied, an odd look making itself present on her face.
Itachi was the first to speak. "Why is that?"
"…I don't think I want to know the answers to some of these," she responded, closing her eyes as though a decidedly strong migraine was setting in.
"Pansy!" Hidan jeered. "I'll fucking read 'em if you won't! Shit's been boring as hell up 'til now!"
Sakura opened her eyes to glare menacingly at him. "Shut up! Just for that, here's a question for you: Kiri-chan wants to know, 'if being a Jashinist involves painful rituals, are you allowed to masturbate or do you have to mutilate yourself in the process for that to be okay?'"
A brief moment of shocked silence gave way to raucous laughter at the resident zealot's expense, who turned a rather fetching shade of Akatsuki Red ™. "W-what the hell?! What is wrong with these people?"
Between giggles, Deidara swiped at a tear. "And I thought 'Kiri-chan' seemed like such a sweet girl, un!"
Kisame chuckled and replied, "I wasn't so sure after the 'fetish' question. This is gold!"
Hidan crossed his arms in a rather macho and grown up (or so he thought) version of the classic childhood pouting pose. "No way in hell I'm answering that question!" he declared, which sparked another round of riotous mirth at his expense.
After the laughter died down to an amused silence, Hidan did his best to regain his composure by scowling at an apparently particularly offensive bubble somewhere in the middle of the pool. "According to one of the teachings, it's not allowed. So true Jashinists don't," he stated, voice gruff and irritated with the giggling of the group of heathens he had the displeasure of calling coworkers.
The atmosphere quickly shifted from amused, to shocked, to outright hysterics, at which point Hidan went from Akatsuki Red ™ to Asphyxiation Purple ™.
"Alright, alright!" Sakura shouted over the clamor, giggling herself but attempting to remove some of Hidan's obvious discomfort. "Itachi, here's one for you from StrawberryMIKO… that's a cute name for a priestess. She asks, 'Why do you keep your hair long? I mean, besides Deidara (who has pretty girlish-ass hair that I'm jealous of), your hair is like… some' – ha! – 'fucking silk maiden just threw up on it… I'm jelly.'"
Itachi remained blank-faced as several of the others around him laughed at the phrasing of the question, and he only vaguely glared in Kisame's direction when he mentioned that the girl had a point. "I keep my hair long because I like it long. I take pride in my appearance."
"My hair's better, un," Deidara quipped, casually flipping a lock of it over his shoulder.
"If by 'better' you mean 'more feminine,' then yes, it is better," Itachi fired back, calm as ever, as he leaned back against the edge of the pool and rested his elbows behind him (quite obviously showing off his well-formed physique).
"Hoo-boy, let's dial down that testosterone," Sakura declared as she fanned her face with her hand. "On to the next one." An eager silence followed this statement, and then the tension grew as Sakura's expression changed to a rather uncomfortable look.
"Is Sakura-chan constipated?" Tobi stage-whispered to his beloved Deidara-sempai. Sakura glared at him and answered before anyone else could get a word in edgewise, "No, Tobi. I just don't understand why this question is on here. He's dead."
That instantly got everyone's attention. "Who's it for?" Deidara asked, suddenly a little wary.
Sakura cast a slightly sympathetic glance his way. "Sasori."
An awkward moment of silence passed as each member considered asking that which Hidan so elegantly queried next.
"So what's the fuckin' question?"
Sakura rolled her eyes. "Tossie wants to know why he believed in eternal beauty."
Each member processed what they knew of the former puppet master. "Maybe because he wanted beautiful things to live forever?" Itachi offered.
"Or maybe because he wanted to live forever?" Tobi suggested.
"How about because he just disagreed with everything I ever said or thought, un?" Deidara retorted, rolling his visible eye.
Suddenly, a rather ghostly figure descended upon Deidara and, with a resounding 'thwack', smacked him upside the head. "Troublesome brat," the figure grumbled, and then slowly faded away.
Deidara, clutching the back of his head, stared wide-eyed ahead of himself. The rest of the group held similar expressions on their faces, and then Hidan made the triangular sign of Jashin over his heart and offered a prayer for the apparently not-quite-resting soul of their former teammate.
"W-well then…" Sakura muttered, shaken by the sudden appearance of the supernatural into their otherwise rational and somewhat scientific lives. "How about we move on to another question. Kakuzu, this one is from Tossie. She wants to know, 'Why do you love money so much?'"
Kakuzu, possibly eager to move past the unsettling events from a few moments ago, quickly responded with a simple, "Because it isn't complicated, and it gets me what I want."
Sakura nodded, seeing logic in the stitched man's reasoning. She was about to ask another question from the list when Tobi piped in.
"Sakura-chan, don't you have any questions for yourself?" he asked, all innocence and boyish enthusiasm.
Sakura blanched. Unbeknownst to her teammates, she did, in fact, have questions addressed to herself. However, she wasn't willing to share them due to the sensitive nature of her true reasons for being with them. She cleared her throat, fearful of being suspected by not at least answering one. "Y-yeah, I have one or two, I think. Let's see… Here's one, from Hatsune Jenni. She wants to know if I'll ever return to Konoha…"
An odd feeling washed over her as the other members of the group looked expectantly to her for her answer. She swallowed nervously, trying her best not to give anything away, but also to make sure she didn't seem as though she was forcing anything. "Well, I mean… Why would I? I left because I wanted to. There's no reason for me to go back. That's a weird question. Anyway…" Her green eyes eagerly scanned the page. "Oh, here's one I've been curious about myself. It's for all of you, by the way. Authentic Cyanide – what's with these names? – wants to know how we'd all react to a game of Nervous."
Keeping a straight face, Itachi placed his hand on Kisame's thigh beneath the water. In that same instant, Kisame yelped, shot out of the water and shouted, "What the hell are you doing?!"
Itachi turned to Sakura and stated simply, "Like that."
"What? Like what?" Kisame bellowed, before pausing and realizing that Itachi had simply been demonstrating how the game of Nervous would have gone. "Oh… Dammit, Itachi," he grumbled, warily sinking back into the heat of the water.
"Alright Sakura, last question," Leader stated magnanimously, and Sakura was quite eager to comply.
"Yes, sir," she dutifully responded. "But how will I choose?"
Before she could react, Deidara grabbed the scroll from her and pointed to the first question he saw. "Mickaylee asks, 'When you were all sitting together and talking without Sakura, were you… making…'" Deidara trailed off, somehow managing to look embarrassed and terrified at the same time. "Um…"
Sakura glanced around the group, which contained many sets of shifting eyes and expressions of forced nonchalance, which instantly raised her suspicions. "What were you all doing when you were sitting together and talking without me?"
"S-Sakura-chan, you really wouldn't want to know. It's nothing special," Tobi stuttered, attempting to draw her attention away from what would surely be a bad blow-up.
Kisame joined in. "Yeah, just… just stupid guy talk. You know how it is, right?"
Raising a pink eyebrow, Sakura replied, "I assure you, Kisame, I would most certainly not. Deidara," she turned her vibrant green stare to the nervous blonde. "Finish the question, please."
"Yes, Deidara," Leader began. "Please finish the question. I am most curious to hear what my S-ranked subordinates have been up to in my absence."
Gulping, Deidara closed his eyes and steeled himself for what was bound to be a terrible punishment. "She wants to know if we were taking bets, un… on who could… ah, g-get Sakura-san, um… laid."
The three-point-seven minutes which followed will forever remain a confusing series of unknown events, as the foreign, mechanical grinding noise returned, followed shortly thereafter by a strongly accented voice saying, "Well then, time to go! Allons-y!"
The rather important man and his colleagues were whisked away, as were their memories of the previous hour and twenty-two minutes at the hot spring. As for Mizushima Hiroshi-san… well, he was quite content with the substantial amount of paper bills he received as payment for renting his inn. That is, until he realized the paper bills (which had been given by the odd man with blue and red spectacles) belonged to a foreign board game called "Monopoly," and consequently held no monetary value outside of said board game. He then fell into a deep and inconsolable depression and promptly sold his business to his cousin, Mizushima Takeshi-san.
(There really was no point to the story of Mizushima Hiroshi-san. You're quite welcome.)
As always, your continued support is very much appreciated. Thank you, thank you, thank you!