Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Kishimoto Masashi.

Third Respite: Group Discussion

Under the clear night sky, the four members of Taka sat around a campfire in the midst of massive, age old trees, getting some much needed rest after a day's worth of traveling. With the sound of crackling as Sasuke fed wood into the fire, the sound of crickets chirping in the nearby bushes, and the sound of the wind softly rustling through the leaves, everything seemed tranquil…for about a span of five seconds, when Suigetsu decided to add the sound of him sucking on the straw to his already empty water bottle. Again.

Karin's brow twitched. He was doing it on purpose. She knew it. Similar to how people needed to keep breathing to stay alive, she had determined that Suigetsu needed to ceaselessly annoy in order to do the same. Even the conversation between him and Juugo that she and Sasuke were currently being subjected to…if it could even be considered that…was ultimately meant to annoy. She just knew it. How did she know? Because the Mist ninja did this practically every single night: start an 'in depth' discussion about things not really worthy of discussion.

Tonight's topic? Juugo's ability to communicate with animals. It was at least a better topic than the one last night: why yogurt wasn't readily available wherever Suigetsu went. But still, no matter how discussion worthy this topic may seem in the beginning…it was bound to go downhill before long. She was just waiting for it to happen as she watched the silvery white-haired youth from the corner of her eye, trying her best not to give him the pleasure of seeing the agitation on her features.

With eyes directed up towards the moon for inspiration, Suigetsu continued to suck on his straw as he tried to think up another question for Juugo. They had pretty much established that the animals could give him information, and certain more intelligent species could even spy for him, but Suigetsu wondered…"Can you get animals to do anything you ask them to?"

"If it's within reason," Juugo replied, not particularly surprised, excited, or displeased. He was accustomed to Suigetsu's random questions by now. In any case, past experience had taught him that it would be easier for him to simply answer the questions rather than to question why he was being asked the questions, which would only lead to more branching questions before he would, eventually, have to answer the original question anyway.

"Bring ya food?" Suigetsu continued.

Juugo thought a moment. "Maybe…I've never asked before."

"Do your laundry?"

"That's not within reason," Juugo replied, unable to comprehend why that question even needed to be asked. "And they're my friends, not my slaves," he elaborated just in case.

Suigetsu immediately turned to Sasuke. "I think you can stand to learn a thing or two from Juugo here."

The raven-haired Uchiha continued to feed wood to the flames, completely disregarding the Mist ninja as usual.

Suigetsu resumed sucking on his straw in contemplation until he came up with the next question. "So, how complicated a task can you get them to do? Can you get birds to do triple aerial flips? Cuz, you know, stuff like that can earn you money."

"I don't know," Juugo answered in all honesty. It was something he never even thought about before.

"Alright, then," Suigetsu said, not quite ready to let this one drop. "Can you get them to…" His eyes darted around as he tried to come up with something. "…crap on people's heads? Cuz that can be useful in a fight as a distraction."

At this point, Karin rolled her eyes. Here we go…

As for Sasuke…he used the meditative act of wood feeding to help tune out the conversation and keep the mental image of a flock of birds raining excrements over the heads of unsuspecting ninjas at bay.

"It's an unreasonable request," the orange-haired youth replied.

Suigetsu quirked a brow. "How so?"

"Well…" Juugo shifted a bit uncomfortably. "…you can't just tell them to do it when…it's not time."

"Good point," Suigetsu said, still wearing a straight face as though they were discussing something serious along the lines of real battle strategies. His brows furrowed as he went into thinking mode. Then his face lit up. "I know! You can just ask the ones that are ready to take a crap to do it!"

Juugo sighed as he looked away. "That's…kind of an embarrassing thing to ask. I don't think anyone would answer."

Suigetsu almost snorted. "Why would they be embarrassed? They're just birds."

"Birds have feelings, too," Juugo insisted.

For the next few seconds, Suigetsu simply stared at his animal-loving teammate. "…You're talking about the animals with the modesty to relieve themselves while in mid-flight on a regular basis," he deadpanned. "I don't think it'll be a problem. You should test it out," he suggested with a grin. "Ask 'em to crap on Karin's head and see what happens."

The redhead exploded at that. "Leave me out of your crude discussion, you bastard!"

"Aw, come on," Suigetsu said as though it was no big deal. "It's all in the spirit of experimentation."

Karin folded her arms. "I don't care! I don't want any part in your experimentation!"

Suigetsu twisted his lips. "Hmph... You never much minded before when Orochimaru had you helping him with experiments."

There was a pregnant pause, and the tension in the air could be felt by all four.

Then Karin began to adjust her glasses with nervousness, sputtering defensively. "I…! That was…! I didn't have a say in the matter! In any case, use your own head!"

"You have red hair," Suigetsu pointed out in a why-can't-you-see-my-logic-is-sound tone of voice. "It's the perfect target for crapping on."

"Bastard, are you trying to pick a fight?" she huffed before turning to their aloof leader for support. "Sasuke, say something!"

The former Leaf ninja heaved an internal sigh. He didn't like having to do anything she asked him to do, but he had to admit that the conversation was beginning to get on his nerves…especially since he ran out of firewood. "Suigetsu…can't you think of a more intelligent topic?"

"Heh…that's mean, Sasuke," Suigetsu replied with an easy grin. "We're talking about the possibility of using wild, untrained animals in a battle here. It's the most intelligent and interesting topic that's come up since I asked you if your Sharingan could make people without any musical talent sing and dance like they were pros…which was three weeks ago."

"Suigetsu…" Sasuke said, his eyes trained on the fire, his patience wearing thin. "Change the topic or be quiet."

The Mist ninja pouted, feeling put out. "Fine."

He sucked hard on his straw once again as he contemplated, albeit a little grumpily, on what to talk about now that the subject of crapping birds had been added to the ever growing list of banned subjects. However, before long, a sly grin spread across his features, and he looked to the tallest member of Taka. "So, Juugo…would it be possible to ask a deer to remove the stick from Sasuke's ass?"

A/N: Ah, Suigetsu…he's just…asking for it. LOL! XD

It's been forever since I posted anything. Thought I'd try getting back into it with something short and generally senseless. I feel a bit rusty…

Thanks for reading! Reviews appreciated!