This ain't no slash fic.

This ain't no self-insert fic neither.

This is Top Dog.


People sayin they know me

But they only know a portion...


As she trudged homewards, Hinata Hyuuga was not in the finest frame of mind.

Last night had been something else. Even before she'd learned where her duty to her family truly lay, every moment she was able to spend with Naruto Uzumaki had been a godsend; being ordered to spend every moment she could with the man of her dreams had revitalised her.

But her day had been Hell on Earth, and she was frightened about her father's response when he learned she'd been getting colossally drunk with Naruto and Sasuke. She'd never sampled alcohol before, and it had gone straight from can to brain.

Walking into the Hyuuga compound and giving the duty guards a nod and smile, she felt almost like a condemned prisoner walking towards the gallows, especially when what one of the guards had just said sank in.

"Hinata-sama, your father wishes to see you in his office at once."

Oh. Shit.

"Thankyou, Junko-san." She was screwed.

She hurried through the maze of buildings and walkways within the Hyuuga compound, swiftly arriving at the outer office; the longer she kept her father waiting, the more utterly screwed she was.

His secretary rang her through almost immediately.

Doom.

Her father was stood in the centre of the room with his arms crossed.

Doooooom.

"Where were you last night, young lady?" Hiashi blandly queried, in a tone of voice Hinata intimately recognised. It was his explain-now-or-you're-for-it voice.

Dooooooooooooooooooom.

"I-I w-was sp-speaking t-to N-Naruto and U-Uchiha-san at N-Naruto's place." she said. "I-it got a b-bit late s-so I c-crashed over and h-he doesn't have a f-phone."

"Ah." Hiashi said, uncrossing his arms, which was to Hinata's experience a good sign. Maybe not doom?

"So, do you have anything to report?"

Nah, doom.

"H-he knows." she said.

"Knows what?"

Hinata swallowed several times in an attempt to get her nerves under control.

"N-Naruto knows w-who his f-father is." she said. "And he h-hates the m-man."

Hiashi didn't reply for several moments.

"I see." he finally muttered. "Is there anything else?"

"Y-yes. H-he knows about th-the f-fox. A-and he says it's i-insane."

"In what way?"

"H-he says it's n-normally m-muttering and gibbering and screaming in the b-back of his mind." she explained. "He, uh, he w-wasn't very p-polite, he c-called it 'th-the shitbrained drooling idiot fuzzball'."

"I see." Hiashi repeated, frown deepening. "Is there anything else?"

"His h-home... it's a f-f-fortress." Hinata said.

Hiashi raised a warning hand. "Don't tell me the layout! I cannot be forced to tell what I do not know... how would you rate the defences?"

"Th-they're ab-ab-about on a p-par with an a-ANBU s-safehouse but w-with more e-e-escape r-routes. I w-would say they w-were as good as c-can be without s-sentries and b-blast w-walls."

"Glad to hear it." Hiashi said, nodding thoughtfully, and Hinata found herself really hoping he misunderstood why she was getting all relieved about him buying her lie about the number of escape routes she knew about from Naruto's apartment. "Now, I understand that your team and the young master's team has been functionally amalgamated; do you foresee any problems with your team-mates or the young master's team-mates?"

Hinata considered that for several long moments, thoughtfully scratching her chin. She wouldn't normally have dared do that in front of her father, but she was getting caught up in the moment.

"I d-don't t-trust Uchiha-san." she said. "He is... b-broken. I d-don't think h-he knows how not to b-be angry."

Hiashi nodded grimly.

"Indeed; I cannot say I am surprised. Watch him carefully; if he becomes a threat, inform me at once. What of the Aburame or the Inuzuka, or that foundling girl?"

"I th-think they're okay."

Hiashi nodded, considering that. "I see... Have you anything else to report?"

"Uchiha-san s-starts t-trying to r-rap when h-he's d-drunk." Oh god, why'd she go and say that?

Hiashi gave her a long contemplative look.

"You... were drunk, correct?"

Hinata nodded, starting to feel freaked out again and all too aware she'd just gone as red as Sakura's favourite shirt.

"Along with the Uchiha and the young master?"

She nodded again, wishing she could sink through the floor.

Hiashi contemplated her for several moments, then nodded.

"I see." he said. "Very well; dismissed."

What happened to the doom?

As the sound-proofed door closed behind her, Hinata could have sworn for a moment that she heard the beginning of a roar of laughter in her father's voice.

Nah. Couldn't be.


Disclaimer: This disclaimer is invisible. You can't see it.


Naruto: A Fox in Tokyo.

A Doghead13 / United Galaxies fanfic

Written & produced by Calum J 'Doghead13' Wallace

Preread by Kuro_Neko

Aided and abetted by the denizens of Caer Azkaban

Brought to you by Hairy Scottish Git Productions, GMBH

This is not a drill.


Chapter 3: That. Damned. Cat.

(In which a homicidal feline is met, and discussions are held)

"So." Kakashi said.

"So?" Kurenai asked. The pair of Jonins were stood on the compound's perimeter wall, leaning against the side of the generator house; Naruto had taken off to meet up with the others at Ichiraku's.

"What do you think about the kids?"

She didn't reply for a while, instead momentarily amusing herself by catching the eye of the driver of a passing freight train; he was obviously an old hand on this route as seeing ninjas on that wall didn't visibly surprise him and he hadn't reacted to the pair of Hyuugas who were perched on the front of his locomotive. Instead, he gave the beautiful Jonin an appreciative look and sounded his horn.

"How good is Naruto really?" she finally asked.

Kakashi snorted, idly nodding to the very surprised hobo who was relaxing on one end of a passing flatcar.

"His chakra control is... well, ropey. I'm not surprised, with the sheer quantities he's got."

"Quantities? How much are we talking?"

"You've seen the way he spams Kage Bunshins." Kakashi let out a low laugh. "Sarutobi can produce three – four and he exhausts himself. Each time you replicate yourself with that thing, it splits your available chakra between you and your clone. So, the first one halves your chakra, the second halves it again, and so on and so forth."

"Kakashi, just how many of those can Naruto produce?"

"I'm not sure. At least a couple of hundred – and it doesn't visibly tire him. At all."

"... holy SHIT."

"I'm still not sure if it's physically possible for the kid to suffer chakra exhaustion."

"Ropey control?"

"Yeah. He's got so much chakra that trying to cast an Academy-level justu is like trying to water a flowerpot with the Victoria Falls. I'm exaggerating a bit, but you get the picture... You realise we've got six incredibly talented kids?"

"Even the Haruno girl?"

"Her chakra control's better than mine and nearly as good as yours. Sasuke's an absolute chakra powerhouse – in terms of chakra he's Chuunin-level today, with control to match. He'll easily be Kage-level by the time he's twenty; the only reason it's missable is because we're comparing him to Naruto, who might as well have an infinite supply. Hinata and Kiba are nearly as powerful as Sasuke, and Kiba's got reflexes like a weasel on crack while Hinata's control's almost as refined as Sakura's. As for Shino, he's got a mind like a steel trap and a precision of control over those insects of his that's at least on a level with his father. Frankly, we're looking at six legends in the making." He gave Kurenai a side-on look. "I'll be putting my three into the next Chuunin exams we host."

"That'll be, what, December '98?" She checked.

"Yeah." Kakashi confirmed.

"So we've got a year and a half... do you really think they'll be ready that soon?"

"Count on it." Kakashi said with a firm nod.

"So... C-rank missions?"

"I've spoken to the Hokage. He'll give the kids one once they pluck up the guts to complain to his face about the D-ranks." Kakashi said, smirking behind his mask.

Kurenai stared at him for a long moment, then burst out laughing.

"I doubt it'll take Naruto long."


The next morning found Kakashi and Kurenai sitting in a disused bedroom within the mansion, both holding binoculars. They'd told the Genins to meet up at eight o'clock sharp at the generator house; the pair of Jounins would be heading down to meet them whenever the six finally spotted them.

"Good; they've got the timing right." Kurenai said as she watched the six converge on the building.

"Looks like Shino's taking up sentry duty... what the hell is Naruto playing at?"

"I think he's shooting at the crocs with that toy gun again. Ah; Hinata's noticed us."

"Trust Naruto to start making offensive gestures... well I'll be... huh, didn't know Sasuke had it in him."

"Kakashi, why do you sound pleased that Sasuke just mooned us?"

"Because the kid really needs to loosen up. Come on; we might as well head down there."


Having spent the morning doing pairs katas and full-power sparring, and lunchtime arguing about the virtues of different calibres of rifle, the six headed over to the Hokage's office to get work.

And it was thus that the six Genins (and one dog) found themselves introduced to the animal generally known as 'That. Damned. Cat.'

The cat in question went by the name of Tora, and was the uncontested bane of every Konohagakure Genin's life; mention 'That damned cat' to anyone who'd been a Genin (or in command of a Genin squad) any time in the last eight years and they'd immediately know what you were talking about.

A battle-scarred but immensely fluffy white tomcat with razor-sharp claws, ragged remains of ears, a face like a bunch of knuckles, and a mind like an elastic band, Tora was the pet of a particularly idiotic old lady, apparently the Master's batty spinster sister-in-law, who absolutely doted on the psychotic ball of fluff and claws.

Tora, as per the tom-cat pattern, liked to wander off looking for lady-cats to violate, other tom-cats to mutilate, and small defenceless fuzzy creatures to brutally murder, and if he was (as usual) gone more than ten minutes his owner would become convinced someone had 'kidnapped' him, whereupon she would command her brother-in-law's ninjas to recover her 'poor darling puddy tat'.

As this was a complete and utter waste of time (if unfound, Tora would inevitably come back a few hours later, looking sincerely smug and bearing a few more battle-scars) the task was of course passed off on the Genins, whom the cat seemed to loathe for fairly simple reasons.

Tora, simply put, hated everyone and everything. Any attempt to capture the 'evil fluffball' resulted in claw-related incidents and mayhem; Naruto found himself privately admitting to Sasuke and Hinata that he'd finally found a fuzzball more evil and insane than the fox.

All of which explains exactly why the general consensus of the six Genins was, 'thank fuck it's Sunday'.

Prior to the two teams being amalgamated, Kakashi had Wednesdays off and Kurenai had Saturdays; Sarutobi had spent five minutes reshuffling duty rosters to pull the two teams into line, and the only two Jonins who had the same rest day and (after threats and/or bribes) were okay with swapping duty periods with the leaders of the combined team happened to have their day off be a Monday.

Thus, on Sunday afternoon following three days of intensive training, Kakashi and Kurenai told their Genins to have fun, and in fact Kakashi dropped the six kids the address of a Konohagakure ninja bar that he advised was 'genin-friendly'.

Watching the two adults head off in different directions – Kakashi towards the Memorial, Kurenai towards her best friend Anko Mitarishi's place – Sakura blew out a sigh.

They hadn't got wrecked Saturday night; the lesson of that morning hadn't taken them long to learn as being hungover on a grenade range is not fun.

"So... what're we gonna do tonight, Sasuke-kun?" She asked.

"Same thing we do every night, Pinky." Sasuke drawled, giving Naruto a side-on look.

Much to his delight, the next part came out as a chorus:

"Try to take over the world!"

"I'm pretty much bushed." Sasuke continued. Only Naruto seemed to have much in the way of energy left, but that wasn't exactly unusual considering the demon container's not-so-latent hyperactivity. "How about we drop past Ichiraku's, then split up for a while, I gotta get a rest. Then later on we could check that bar out, and I guess afterwards we can head to my place, I got beer."

"Sounds like as good a plan as any." Naruto said, nodding, and glanced round at each of the others, all of whom indicated that they were game.

"OK, let's drop our rifles off and we'll meet up in, what, half an hour at Ichiraku's?"

"I'll have to be a bit late; I gotta check some stuff up at home." Kiba said. "I'll be about an hour and a quarter, 'kay?"

"OK; I'll probably be at the pub by then." Naruto said.

"I'll see ya there."

Making agreeing noises, the others headed away.

Naruto grinned a bit and leapt neatly down from the roof of the generator house onto the side of the railway line, and began mooching towards home.


"Sakura."

Once again, Sakura Harano found herself nearly jumping out her skin on hearing her name in her sensei's voice, causing her to whirl round.

"Oh! - Hello, Kakashi-sensei."

"We need to talk." the white-haired man said, straightening away from the wall.

"What about, sensei?"

"About birds, bees and interpersonal relationships." Kakashi said. "Come."

Nervously, she followed him; he led her to a quiet basement bar, and he further surprised her by buying her a beer before sitting down opposite her in a corner booth.

"You're not going to like what I've got to say, but it's got to be said." he said.

"What is this about?" she asked.

"It's about Sasuke and, more to the point, just how colossally disturbed he really is..."


Fangirls.

Everywhere he went, fucking fangirls. It was like, Sasuke Uchiha mused as he sloped into the ninja bar popularly known as the Pissing Mutt, he couldn't move without fangirls up the ying-yang.

He could see them from here, he could see the assumption on the faces of the whole lot of them – every last one of them thought he was going to sit with them.

Only one was right, and he wasn't going to so much sit with her as with the short-arse blonde dobe she was with.

He really wasn't sure when he'd upgraded Naruto Uzumaki from 'dobe' to 'buddy' and, on reflection, it didn't really matter. He wasn't really sure about what made the dobe tick, what drove the dobe – but he was absolutely certain that, if he let the dobe, well, the only thing that'd stop Naruto Uzumaki backing Sasuke Uchiha up was the Grim Reaper, because, dobe or not, hyperactive or not, annoying or not, fucking crazy or not, the dobe understood.

No pity, no condescending looks, no trying to make it easy, none of that crap that forced Sasuke to think that Itachi had a point – the dobe just got it, got that sometimes there are things a man's got to do if anyone's ever gonna be able to call him a man, and wasn't like, here, let me handle this shit, he was like, I got your back buddy.

Naruto was annoying, but he understood and he was right there, and he wasn't going to steal Sasuke's kill, no fucking chance if Sasuke'd even started to get his measure. Dobe was the kind of backup a guy can rely on.

And somewhere beneath the semi-permanent sneer, Sasuke knew he was going to need that sort of backup if he was ever going to set things straight with his so-called brother.

"Hey, bastard. What took you?" the dobe asked. He was sitting one side of a booth, with Hinata one side of him and Sakura the other side of her; Akamaru had annexed Sakura's lap, while Kiba was sitting beside Sakura and blocking her in. They'd obviously got going early from the number of empty glasses.

"Fangirls." Sasuke snarled, suddenly back in a right high dudgeon. "I swear if I'd got a Ma Deuce and all the fangirls in the world lined up... fucking BOOM."

"Hey, relax man." Naruto said, angling a thumb at Kiba, who was repositioning himself to block anyone from trying to sit beside Sasuke. "Don't gotta worry about that shit when you got your friends around, right bastard?"

"Hey, anyone seen bugboy?" Kiba asked.

"I'm right behind you, Inuzuka-san." Shino commented, emerging from the crowd. "You need to work on your situational awareness."

"Bite me."

"Hey, Shino. What's up?" Naruto asked.

"I don't know; I've never been there." Shino's deadpan response caused Hinata to release a most unladylike snort then go bright pink.

"Oi, sit here bugboy, I'm gonna go get a round." Kiba said, getting up; Shino seemed to immediately understand, seating himself firmly beside Sasuke. "What's everyone drinkin'?"

Everyone having ordered, the most complex being 'Lager, cold' from Sasuke and the simplest being 'Beer' from Naruto, Sasuke glanced around.

"So, what's happening?" he asked, momentarily wondering why a certain pink-haired fangirl looked oddly subdued; something had happened to her between when they left Ichiraku's and when they got to the Pissing Mutt.

Naruto pointed in the direction of the stage, where a couple of people in the pub's staff T-shirts were setting up a karaoke machine.

"... oh bloody hell, karaoke night." Sasuke muttered.

"Hey. Move, you." a voice Sasuke hadn't wanted to hear declared from behind Shino; glancing round, he discovered who he'd been expecting (one Ino Yamanaka) and proceeded to bang his head on the table several times.

"No." Shino said, adjusting his sunglasses.

"That wasn't a request. I'm going to sit beside Sasuke-kun." the vorpal fangirl declared.

"Actually, you're not." Shino replied, in that same deadpan.

"Don't make me have to hurt you." she growled.

"Go stick your head in a pig." Shino suggested, earning himself another barely-stifled snort from Hinata.

"I won't stand for-"

"I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty-headed animal food trough water!" Shino snapped, causing Hinata to struggle not to start giggling. "I fart in your general direction! Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries! Now go away, or I shall taunt you another time!"

He stuck his thumbs in his ears (and his tongue out) and, waggling his fingers, made an insane warbly burbling noise that might possibly have been some variant of raspberry.

"Look, four-eyes." Ino hissed. "Don't you try to out-weird me, I get stranger things than you free with my breakfast cereal."

"There are currently thirty-five kikai bugs remarkably close to a very specific portion of your anatomy." Shino informed her, meaningfully aiming a finger at her crotch. "Correction, thirty-six. If you don't want them to engage in some internal exploration, go away."

Ino went very red, looked down, let out a horrified squeak as she saw the insects disappearing under her skirt, and legged it with her hands between her legs while yelling something about 'argh', 'beetles' and 'getthemoffme', all the while failing to notice that the beetles in question had dropped off and were scuttling back to their symbiotic partner.

"Well, that got rid of her. Welcome back, boys; mission accomplished." the Aburame gloated as he let the squad of bugs run up his sleeve from where he'd touched his fingers to the floor, and then he noticed the looks the rest of Team 7/8 were giving him. "What?"

"We're tryn'a work out what you've been smokin' this time." Kiba, who had in the interim returned bearing drinks, told him.

"I often find that being sufficiently weird is enough to make annoying people such as Yamanaka depart the area." Shino replied, accepting a beer. "When it isn't, threats of molestation by beetles is the next step."

"So what's the step after that?" Sakura asked, sounding simultaneously fascinated and appalled.

"Carrying through with the threat, of course." Shino told her. "An empty threat is rather pointless, you know." Sasuke swore that Shino was smirking a bit, but since when did Shino ever have an expression? "Admittedly, it can occasionally backfire; that's how my parents met."

"... remind me never to piss you off." Sakura said. She looked a bit ill.

"Hey, uh, Shino..." Sasuke said, grinning a bit.

"Yes, Uchiha-san?"

"... thanks."

"Think nothing of it; I make a policy of doing a minimum of one thing every day that scares normal people."

That proved too much for the dobe, who cracked up and started howling with laughter, which rapidly set Hinata off.

"Hey, Hinata." Kiba said, once everyone had got over their giggle-fits. "How come you always cover yer mouth when ya laugh?"

"It ain't her fault that pops of hers made her shy." Sasuke snarled, suddenly pissed off. Hinata went even pinker than Sakura's hair.

"It's n-not th-that," Hinata started to say, but Naruto butted in.

"The bastard was right the other night, y'know." the blonde told her, angling a thumb at Sasuke. " Hinata, believe it, your old man's full of shit."

"Bastard actually said that?" Kiba boggled.

"Fuck off, mutt. I said Hiashi Hyuuga's a shit-head." Sasuke snarled. He was rapidly approaching a state of slobbering frenzy. "And I don't say shit like that when I don't mean it. So he calls you useless, hey Hinata? Like fuck you're useless, I've seen you going at it with them hand-cannons and you," he jabbed a finger into her collarbone, "Are officially fucking scary." His glare intensified, and he continued poking her collarbone. "I wouldn't say that to just anyone, Hinata Hyuuga, so you better fucking believe me. Your old man's a dirty sack of lying shit. He oughtta get his head out his arse or I predict someone's gonna give him an attitude readjustment, drive-by with a fucking gat! No motherfucker rolls around dissin' my crew!"

"Fucking Amen, bastard." Kiba growled.

"Shut your hole, mutt. This shit's important, for real."

"Hey, talkin' 'bout important stuff, well, knowin' Kakashi he's gonna start pushin' us real soon, an' if we ain't ready we're gonna be up shit creek." the dobe remarked. Hinata looked very relieved at the change of subject.

"Well how in the fuck are we gonna get ready anyway?" Sasuke snapped.

"First off we all gotta get better chakra control, an' you guys gotta try'n strengthen yer reserves, right, an' we gotta work on our sneakin'-about skills."

"That would be prudent, going by what my father has told me." Shino said.

"What'd your father tell you?" Sakura asked.

"A lot of things. He told me the most amusing uses for kikai bugs, he told me to always keep twice the munitions I believe I will need, he told me that overkill is a myth invented by pinko liberals and flower-power peaceniks to save enemy lives, but pertinent to our current subject he told me that once a Genin team is successfully operating as a team, the usual form is to begin setting seemingly-impossible operation criteria, docking pay for failure to adhere to criteria, letting the Genins suffer for a week or two, and then once they've got halfway to figuring it out on their own, giving them the necessary training to cope."

"... oh. So, uh, chakra, right?"

"Yeah, we gotta all maximise our control an' reserves because believe it, we're gonna need it." Naruto said, nodding firmly.

"My control's good." Sakura chirped up. "But... well, I haven't got much of anything in the way of reserves."

"Chakra's like a muscle." Naruto told her. "The more you work it the more you get out, right? I mean, you were pretty crap the first time you tried pushups."

"Well, isn't everyone?" she asked, slightly put out.

"Course. But if anyone don't work it they won't get better. And the more constantly you can work it without working it too hard, the faster it gets better."

"That wasn't very coherent, but I get the idea." Sakura agreed.

"That's why I reckon we oughtta find some way of exercisin' our chakra a bit all the time." Naruto said. "Hey, any of you know that water-walking thingy?"

Everyone aside from Sasuke (who looked annoyed) and Sakura (who looked embarrassed) nodded.

"Right. Bastard, Sakura, I can teach the both of you later, right? Hey, and mebbe Shino can help, he's good at explainin' stuff, which I ain't. Everyone else, accordin' to what Vulture tole me it's good trainin' for most people to run it all the time and, hey, good habit to get into coz it's how you can walk over mud an' stuff an' not leave footprints, and don't look worried Sakura, it don't take much chakra to do it, right?"

"What about you, Uzumaki-san?" Shino asked.

"Well, I'm always levitatin' myself a bit anyway when I ain't relaxin' someplace, I got into the habit ages back, I'd a' been busted like a million times if I left footprints."

"That was not what I meant; you're saying we should be doing everything we can to maximise our chakra reserves and control, but you're not saying you need to work on your own, and from what I've observed your control is... limited."

"Well, yeah, my control's kinda ropey, but tryn'a strengthen it with little stuff like not actually steppin' in shit is a bit like tryn'a kill an elephant with a peashooter, right?"

"Dobe, you're obviously following your own advice in some way. Spit it out." Sasuke growled, glaring at him.

"Well I got like two hundred Kage Bunshins up all the time." Naruto said, looking smug. "I Henged 'em to not look like me, right, and they're knockin' round Tokyo checkin' shit out."

"... you said they split your chakra. Share it round." Sasuke blankly stated.

"What kind of reserves have you got anyway?" Shino asked, peering over his sunglasses and thus revealing that he had pleasant brown eyes and looked absolutely shocked.

"That's a secret." Naruto said. "Hey, looks like they're ready for people to start takin' turns singin', I'm gonna go have a go."

With that, he leapt to his feet and went dashing over to the stage.

"You can see a person's chakra coils." Shino remarked, looking side-on at Hinata.

"W-well, yes, I c-can." Hinata readily agreed, obviously hesitant about where this was going.

"Just how much has Uzumaki-san got anyway?" Shino asked, absently pushing his sunglasses back up.

"Um, w-well, I'm n-not sure because it's h-hard to look at him with th-the b-Byakugan. A-all there is t-to see is th-this Naruto-shaped b-blob of chakra so c-c-concentrated all th-the details b-blur out into this b-bunch of orangey w-white that m-makes my eyes w-water. It's a-almost like..." Hinata paused, obviously struggling to find the right comparison, and finally said, "Like s-staring into the sun."

Shino slowly removed his sunglasses, and spent a moment cleaning them.

Then he said, "Damn."


It transpired that Naruto Uzumaki was into some seriously old-school rock-and-roll as he sneered his way through Alice Cooper's 'Gutter Cat vs. The Jets'.

"Okay, bastard." he said, huge grin firmly in place as he swaggered back over to Team 7/8's table, "Your turn."

Sasuke gave Naruto a dire look.

"I'm bad at singing." he flatly stated.

"C'mon man – it don't matter." Naruto said with a shrug. "Half of everyone in here's crap at it, and I really do mean crap. It really don't matter."

"I don't think this crowd'd dig my tunes." Sasuke tried.

"So? You think Alice Cooper's everyone's thing? I told you man, it doesn't matter."

"You're not gonna let this lie, are you dobe?"

"What, are you chicken?"

Sasuke glared at the dobe, said, "Screw it." and headed for the stage.

He'd heard the fangirls whisper. He could see it in their eyes as he cued up the track and set the distortion on the mike. They all though he was into the same sappy crap as they insisted on melting their brains with – idol singers, boy bands, that sort of bullshit.

Not only no, but Hell No.

Eat this you fucks.

"Everything's tight from my loot to my friends
I ain't got time to tighten up loose ends...Huh
I've been that route too many times
If I ain't stabbed in the back I ain't fightin no crime
I wish for that which my heart holds near
But ain't nobody playin what I'm tryin' to hear
I've been sayin for years that the fakes wouldn't last
You were jockin that bullshit, now you lookin' like an ass..."


Afterwards, walking away from the karaoke stage amidst a mixture of stunned silence from the fangirls and foot-stomping and hollering from assorted others, Sasuke had a bit of a spring in his step that hand't been there before.

"Kid Rock?" the fangirl said, and Sasuke took a moment's intense satisfaction at the dazed-and-shellshocky tone in her voice.

"Don't diss the Kid, Pinky." He growled, levelling a full-power #2 Sasuke Glare at her. "He's good at what he does."

"Hey, thought you said you were bad at singin'?" The dobe asked.

"I don't sing; I rap." Sasuke firmly informed him, taking a seat as several people (primarily Kiba) shoved an annoyed Shino up onto the stage.

"Well yer good at rapping." Naruto said, shrugging.

Sasuke smirked.

"Some people seek to be cool, others have coolness thrust upon them. Me, I was born cool."

"Yeah right – dickhead." Naruto grinned and gave Sasuke a rough clout on the shoulder. "Same old stuck-up bastard, huh?"

"Feh. Dobe."

" Hello, I'm Johnny Cash..." came Shino's voice from the direction of the stage, suddenly possessed of a very different accent.

"Y'know, bastard, I reckon you got the whole goals thing the wrong way round." Naruto remarked, and then slugged back a long pull of beer as Shino started to do a banal job of singing something bluesy in English about some sort of prison.

"What the hell are you on about dobe?"

"I've read up on Itachi." Naruto said, and Sasuke went as rigid as a board. "He is fuckin' dangerous, man." The orange-clad street rat leant forwards over the table and glared at the last loyal Uchiha. "So what the fuck you gonna do if he wins when you run off to fight him, huh?"

Sasuke didn't reply.

"He gotta point, man." Kiba remarked. "Fuckin' hell, you gonna let your family die out or somethin'?"

"Thin ice." Sasuke snarled.

"I ain't jokin', bastard. This is serious stuff." Naruto snarled back, half standing up. "Hell with it but I like you, you fuckin' arrogant bastard, an' I don't wanna see you getting your ass wasted out there, an' if you do I wanna be able to tell your kids just what a badass motherfucker their dad was."

Sasuke stared at him for a long moment, then chuckled darkly and shook his head.

"You're a real piece of work, dobe."

"You too, bastard."


Sakura found herself pressured into taking a turn at the karaoke next, thoroughly embarrassing herself with a bad rendition of Marilyn Monroe's 'Material Girl' when it turned out she barely spoke a word of English, followed by the spectacle of Kiba belting out a very enthusiastic but horribly mispronounced gibberish version of Guns 'N' Roses 'Paradise City' while Akamaru yodelled hilariously in tune to the guitars, whereupon a now rather drunk Hinata slurred her way through some folk song nobody else recognised, and then they set to getting even more drunk and gave people who weren't a part of the combined team a chance at the mike.

Eventually, they decided to head for Sasuke's place; by this time, Hinata (who had been matching Naruto drink-for-drink) was so thoroughly drunk she couldn't stand up and could barely cling on to the ground.

"I gotta drop past old man Hokage's place an' pick some bits up, I'll meet you lot at bastard's place." Naruto said. There were a couple scrolls he'd left at the Hokage's apartment that he now wanted to show the others when everyone came round in the morning, and he figured he might as well have them with.

"Hey, mind if I roll along with ya, man?" Kiba asked. "I just wanna talk about some stuff, in private like."

"Yeah, sure." Naruto said, shrugging. "Hey, see you guys in a bit."

"You know the way in, dobe?" Sasuke checked.

"Sure I do, I figured it out after, well, a while back." Naruto said, changing what he'd been about to say halfway through as referring to the time he'd pranked Itachi would probably send Sasuke ballistic.

Sasuke gave him a momentary dubious look, shrugged, then glanced at Shino.

"Wanna help me with white-eyes, bugboy?"

"Certainly, Uchiha-san." Shino said, moving to support Hinata's other side.

"Mm'kay. C'n walkon m'own." Hinata mumbled.

"Hinata, you're completely plastered." Sakura told her.

"S'notthatbad."

"Yes it is, you can sit down at Sasuke-kun's place and sober up a bit."

"... 'kay."


"So, whatcha wanna talk about?" Naruto asked. He and Kiba were now mooching their way towards the Kuno compound, and with it Sarutobi's apartment; Akamaru was running around sniffing at things but mostly keeping up.

"Been thinkin' about somethin'." Kiba replied.

"What likes?" Naruto asked, surprised about how serious the usually cheerful and boisterous boy sounded – he'd been going to respond by cracking a joke about thinking he'd smelt smoke, but something about Kiba's tone stopped him.

"Hinata." Kiba said. "I'm worried about her, man." This immediately caused Akamaru to turn his attention off pissing on a lamp post and, with a sharp bark and a firm nod, take up position between the two boys.

"What's wrong with her?" Naruto asked, not liking the way this was going. Over the last few days, he'd developed a bit of a soft spot for the Hyuuga heiress; she was kinda cute the way she got all shy around him.

"Haven't you noticed the way she only stops stuttering when she's totally drunk?" Kiba asked, sounding a bit put out.

Naruto thought about that. She'd stopped stuttering about the same time as she'd started hiccuping that night at his place, and tonight she'd stopped stuttering at about the same time as she'd plucked up the courage to take a turn singing, and both times she'd already lost the ability to walk in a straight line.

"Now you mention it..." he mused.

"There's somethin' well wrong if someone can't relax without bein' blasted, man, an' I wanna help her but I dunno how." Kiba bluntly stated. Akamaru nodded firmly but said nothing.

"Mebbe it's her dad." Naruto said. "Fuckit, I always known dads were a waste a' time."

"Aw, they ain't always so bad, man, I mean I figure Hinata gotten a reason to think that and I guess same goes for you an' bastard, but..." Kiba shook his head. "Look, man, me an' me dad, we get on real good. He's kinda an arse sometimes, but I've really been missin' him."

Naruto nodded, interested and a touch worried; he'd never heard anything about Kiba's father before, and maybe that was because the man was dead? "What happened?"

"Aw, him an' Mum got in a huge fight an' Dad hadta scarper an' he don't come home no more, he's with TAPD, he drives police labors fer SVD Section Two, on second division, right? He's cool, man. I see him when I can get over to Areoka Harbour City an' he ain't on duty, but that ain't often; Dad says they're right overworked an' understaffed an' he ain't got time to bleed never mind visit, but I know that's coz Mum tried to castrate him. But we're gettin' sidetracked. We were talkin' about Hinata."

"... yeah." Naruto agreed, glaring at the pavement. "I guess... well, about all we can do is ask her what's up while she's real blasted, right?"

"I swear if it's coz of that asshole dad of hers I'm gonna rip off his head an' shit down his neck." Kiba stated, clenching a fist and glowering at it. "Hinata's a sweet chick an' she ain't done nothin' to fuckin' nobody, an' anyway there ain't nobody fuckin' messes with us."

End: Chapter 3.

AN – If anyone's wondering, since Kiba's canon dad isn't described in more detail than having run away from Kiba's mother, I had to flesh him out for why Kiba doesn't think dads are a bad idea. I settled on Isao Ohta, the gun-mad labor cop from Patlabor, because he's loopy enough to do something like getting intimately involved with a stone-crazy ninja dog-handler, and because his attitude's just as straightforwards and gung-ho as Kiba's.

Doghead Out.