i don't own naruto.

so i started this to get over my writer's block. seriously, the new chapter of petroleum is a bitch to write. um, dont expect to be scared at all by this fic, it is more comedy than anything(although there could possibly be a character death, to keep with the genre parody). i barely even know where this is going but i'll probably continue it if people like it. petroleum is top priority, though.


"Are we there yet?" groaned an 18 year old boy in the front seat of a black Toyota Camry. Said boy was known as Kiba Inuzuka, and, ever since the battery for his DS ran out ten minutes ago, he'd been asking the same question and poking the car's driver repeatedly.

Naruto exhaled noisily, a vein pulsing in his temple. "Kiba, you're right next to me. The large expanse of road in front of you should tell you that no, we're not there yet."

Sakura looked up curiously from her position in the backseat. "I didn't know you knew how to use the word 'expanse', Naruto."

Naruto scowled. Kiba stared out the window, bored. Suddenly, his eyes lit up.


Everyone groaned. It was the sixth VW Bug they had seen on the road today, and the twenty-third they had seen all trip. Kiba was the only one who got excited about it. Everyone else was just waiting for what was possibly the most uncomfortable car ride ever to be over.

Naruto and Kiba were in the front, while Neji, Sasuke, Shikamaru, and Sakura were crammed together in the backseat. Sasuke had his face pressed against the glass, his head being held in that position by Neji's forearm. The Hyuuga was trying as hard as he could to prevent himself from being slobbered on by Akamaru, who was sitting in the middle. On the other side of the dog were Sakura, who was trying to avoid the thumping of the dog's tail, and Shikamaru, who was fast asleep with his headphones in.

Kiba delivered his punches to the occupants of the car gleefully.

"Neji," Sasuke said for the fourth time through gritted teeth. "Would you please get your elbow out of my jugular?"

"Deal with it. At least you don't have to sit next a smelly dog."

"But, Neji... Kiba's up front." Sakura said innocently. Both Neji and Sasuke cracked a smile, but Naruto burst out laughing as if it was the funniest thing ever said.

"Oh, ha HA." Kiba mumbled. "Well, both of you are wrong, Akamaru and I just took a bath last week."

"Why'd you have to bring him anyway?" Neji asked, his lip curling as he watched Kiba's dog scratch himself. Sasuke stopped himself from repeated the same question about the brunet next to him.

"Akamaru has never missed a camping trip in his life." Kiba retorted, flipping off the longhaired boy, who looked immensely offended at the gesture.

"Kiba's up front… man." Naruto was still wheezing with laughter, wiping a tear from his eye.

"Hyuuga... if you don't move over, I'm going to beat the shit out of you. I mean it." Sasuke said as threateningly as he could with half his face smooshed against the glass.

Neji scowled. "I'd like to see you try. I'm not moving over."

"Then sit on Shikamaru's lap or something!"

"That's against the law. Naruto might get a ticket." The Hyuuga replied stubbornly.

"And having four people in the backseat isn't? Not to mention the fact that none of us are wearing seatbelts!"

"And Kiba's got his feet up on the dashboard." Sakura pointed out helpfully.

"You guys, don't worry. There aren't any cops around, we passed through the last town miles ago." Naruto reported from up front.

"Fine." Neji snapped. "Wake him up." He added with a frown, gesturing to Shikamaru.

Sakura leaned over, shaking the genius gently. "Shikamaru, get up." The unconscious male snored loudly in her face. She growled, and instead of shaking him again, she elbowed him hard in the ribs.

Shikamaru shifted, lazily opening one eye. "Mmmyeah?"

"We're consolidating. Neji's sitting in your lap."

Shikamaru yawned. "Okay."

"Sasuke," Kiba started, turning to face the Uchiha, "Let Akamaru sit by the window, will you? He likes that." Sasuke nodded as Neji made to get up, but was immediately pulled back down onto the seat with a hiss of pain.

"Fuck! Uchiha, you're sitting on my hair!"

"Well maybe if you didn't have so goddamn much of it..." Sasuke grumbled, pulling himself up so the Hyuuga's locks could go free. Neji sniffed, crawling past Akamaru and over Sakura to get to his boyfriend's lap. Shikamaru wrapped his arms around his waist and fell back asleep instantly.

The other two human occupants of the backseat breathed a sigh of relief. Sasuke unstuck his face from the glass, sliding down the seat until he was next to Sakura so Akamaru could be by the window. The pink-haired girl immediately wrapped her arms around the Uchiha as Akamaru jumped across them to sit by the window. Sasuke sighed.

The car drove off of the highway and onto an uphill road made out of primarily hard dirt and large, unmovable rocks. The car ride quickly turned from smooth to ridiculously rough. The car jolted over bumps and dips into the road, prompting most of the car occupants to find something to grab on to keep themselves in one place. Twice, Sasuke had to pull Akamaru in by the collar to prevent him from being thrown out of the window.

"I t-tOLD you g-guys we ssssshould be w-wearing seatBELTS!" Neji said loudly, although he had said no such thing.

"Jeez, NaRUto, you c-cOULDN't have fffound a w-worse path to go UP the m-MOUNTain?" Sakura complained, holding on to Sasuke for dear life.

"Y-yYou gays are ccCRAZY! ThisSSs is fFUN!" Kiba yelled excitedly, throwing his hands up like he was on a roller coaster.

Neji turned a bit green as his stomach dropped. "I-- I thTHthink I'm GOing to be sick."

"Nnnnot in my C-CAR, you're nOT." Naruto replied.

Neji closed his eyes tightly, clapping his hand over his mouth, just in case.

The car went over a particularly large bump, jolting everyone upward about a foot in the air. Neji, being higher up than everybody else, hit his head painfully on the roof of the car.


Everyone tried not to laugh as the longhaired male clutched his head with a nearly murderous expression on his face. The ground leveled out beneath the car, ending the dangerously tumultuous uphill ride.

Shikamaru chose to wake up at this exact moment; he yawned, took one look at the miserable boy in his lap, and immediately wrapped his arms around him.

"Shhh, shh, baby you're okay." Shikamaru cooed, cradling the brunet's head, much to the disgust of the onlookers in the car.

"I'm not okay! I've been in this car for hours, I'm covered in dog hair and probably fleas and my stomach hurts and--"

Kiba sighed, reaching forward to the radio's volume control. He turned the music up to the maximum volume, effectively drowning out the rest of the brunet's rant.

"NICE WEATHER WE'RE HAVING NARUTO." Kiba said loudly, not out of curiosity but instead the need to create some more noise. Neji's whining could still be heard over the music.




Naruto realized that he couldn't hear Neji complaining anymore. He was reaching for the radio, intent on turning the volume down, when he caught sight of Sakura in his rearview mirror. She was curled up next to Sasuke, practically suffocating him, with a terrified expression on her face. She was trying as hard as she could to not be next to the couple on her right. 'Help me!' She mouthed to Naruto once he caught her eye.

Naruto adjusted his mirror and caught sight of, to his annoyance, Neji and Shikamaru making out rather passionately. Neji had turned himself around so he was straddling his boyfriend, and Shikamaru's hand was resting on Neji's lower back, his fingers twitching like he wanted to move them lower. It was quite a strange sight, because Naruto had never seen Shikamaru put that much enthusiasm into anything before. But here he was, kissing the brunet in his lap as if his life depended on it.

Neji let out something that sounded a lot like a moan, and Sakura and Sasuke both paled considerably. Sighing, Naruto slammed hard on the brakes. Everyone was jolted forward, except for Neji, who was jolted backward, hitting the back of Kiba's seat and falling to the floor of the car with a pained gasp. Akamaru actually did go flying out of the window this time, and was flung a good five feet before landing in a soft patch of grass, rolling over a couple of times before sitting up and blinking stupidly.

Shikamaru glared. "What the fuck, Naruto."

Naruto gave him his sunniest smile. "We're here!"

They had stopped about 2/3 of the way up the large mountain. They were now on a ledge that was about the size of six football fields, compressed into more or less of a circle. 75% of this ledge was thick, lush forest. The remaining part was flat, grassy land, with a two cabins on opposite sides. The slightly larger one, which was closest to the car, was where they stayed every year. The smaller one, on the far side of the ledge, belonged to the mountain's caretaker. The car was parked in front of a rickety old fence, which, in theory, was designed to prevent anyone from going over the ledge.

Groaning from the floor, Neji reached up and felt along the inside of the door for the handle. Once he found it, he opened the door and promptly tumbled out of the car. Shikamaru immediately followed, exiting the car and helping the longhaired male up. He gathered his boyfriend up in his arms, carried him over to the cabin, and kicked the door open before disappearing inside.

Everyone stared.

"You know... I really fucking hate what Neji's done to him." Sasuke muttered as he got out of the car.

"Yeah. Any chance I could get one of you big, strong guys to carry me into the cabin?" Sakura mused, opening the trunk and removing her suitcase.

"Sakura, you could probably carry me into the cabin." Naruto responded, slamming his door shut. He made his way over to the trunk, pulling out Kiba and Sasuke's suitcases and handing them out, respectively. He then took out his own and, as an afterthought, Shikamaru's as well. Sakura waited until he was finished, then slammed the trunk shut with a huge amount of force. The only remaining suitcase, which was Neji's, was twined to the top of the car because it was so big. The four of them shared a look before Naruto shrugged and left it there.

"Ahh. Smell that mountain air." Kiba inhaled deeply. Akamaru broke out of his stupor and bounded over to his owner.

"Home sweet home." Sakura muttered as the door creaked open.

The cabin was cozy, but by no means cramped. There was a desk with a chair in front of it against the wall opposite the front door. To the left, there was a door that led to the bathroom, and to the right, there were two bunk beds parallel to each other. The third bunk was next to the desk, set slightly apart from the other two due to the architecture of the house. Shikamaru was leaning against the wall to the right of the desk, eyeing the group as they came in.

"I call top bunk!" Naruto and Kiba shouted simultaneously. They raced to claim their beds across from each other, with Kiba's being the one that shared the wall with the front door of the cabin.

Sakura shrugged as she followed them in. "Doesn't matter to me." She muttered, setting her suitcase on the bottom bunk of Kiba's bed. The bottom bunk of Naruto's bed already had clothing folded neatly on top of it, so Sasuke placed his suitcase on the remaining free lower bed.

"Feels good to be back." Kiba said, dropping his suitcase on the ground and taking a seat on top of it.

"Where's Neji?" Naruto asked Shikamaru politely, noticing that the other teen had a less than pleased expression on his face.

"Taking a shower." The other boy responded, gesturing to the closed bathroom door. "Said he had to disinfect himself from all of the dog germs."

"Good. We need to talk, Shikamaru." Sasuke said as he locked to cabin door behind him.

Suddenly at the center of attention, Shikamaru raised an eyebrow. "Okay."

He pulled a pack of cigarettes from his back pocket, shaking one out of the carton. Kiba and Akamaru growled simultaneously, causing the genius to look over at them in question.

"NOT in the cabin. Akamaru has asthma."

The genius rolled his eyes. "Whatever."

"You're bleeding." Sakura suddenly noticed. She was staring at Shikamaru's lip, which was, in fact, beading with blood. "Are you okay?"

"What happened, Neji got a little too feisty in the backseat?" Kiba cackled, placing his arms behind his head.

"It's not mine." Shikamaru said as he wiped the blood from his mouth with the back of his hand. "It's Neji's. I accidentally bit him when Naruto stopped the car."

Naruto had the courtesy to look sheepish. "Oh. Sorry, man."

Shikamaru shrugged. "Don't apologize to me." He pulled the chair away from the desk, sitting in it backwards as he faced the other occupants of the room. "I assume that Neji's going to be the topic of this conversation."

"Yes." The four others said in unison. They all continued to talk at once, voices mixing with similar comments.

"Prissy little rich kid—"

"--I thought you had a thing for blondes--"

"--So annoying, I can't stand the sound of his voice—"

"--Why are you even with him?"

Shikamaru crossed his arms, itching for a cigarette. "You mean besides the fact that he's drop-dead gorgeous?" Was his response to the last question he could make out from all their chatter.

"Yes. Besides the fact that he is smoking hot." Kiba said sternly, causing everyone else to turn and look at him.

"What!? Are you guys blind?"

Shikamaru sighed, looking as if he was trying to figure out a way to explain something very complicated to a group of children. "Listen. He's actually really smart. Like, really, really smart."

"Uh-huh." Sasuke didn't look convinced.

Shikamaru glared at them. "Honestly, I really don't know why I have to explain myself to you guys. You all are supposed to be my friends."

"But, Shikamaru—" Sakura started, albeit somewhat guiltily.

"You guys don't like him. Fine, I get it." The genius interrupted, intensifying his glare and quickly turning the conversation around so that they were the ones now being attacked. "But I do. And I wanted him here with me. If you guys must know, things haven't been going that great for him at home. He deserves a vacation, and I'm not going to let you ruin it."

They all shared similar guilty expressions on their face. Naruto stepped forward.

"Well... just make sure you keep him under control while he's here. You know Sakura's been itching to beat him up ever since he told her how obvious her roots are."

"My hair is NATURAL!" Sakura fumed, slamming her fist into the wall.

The door to the bathroom opened and Neji emerged, one fluffy sky blue towel wrapped around his waist and another in his hands, toweling off his hair as he hummed to himself. There was a small gash at the corner of his bottom lip, but other than that, he looked fine. Shikamaru's eyes softened.

Neji stopped when he realized everyone was looking at him. "What?" He asked, slightly annoyed. He made his way over to the bed his clothes were on, frowning. "Shikamaru, where's my suitcase?"

The younger teen jumped. "I forgot. I'll get it right now." He quickly exited the cabin.

"Thank you, baby." The brunet said sweetly.

"GodDAMN that boy is whipped." Naruto muttered, scratching the back of his head.

"What was that?" Neji asked, whirling around so fast that his wet hair smacked Sasuke in the face.

"Nothing." Naruto said hastily, putting his hands up defensively as Sasuke wiped leave-in conditioner from his mouth. "Come on guys, let's start unpacking."

Shikamaru returned five minutes later, dragging Neji's suitcase, which was about 4x4 feet and looked to weigh around 200 pounds. He set it by the foot of the bed Neji had chosen, panting and sweating a bit. He earned a kiss on the cheek for his effort, and he went over to his own suitcase, ignoring Sasuke's low, sarcastic commentary. The rest of the group started unpacking, except for Kiba, who just planned on taking things from his suitcase as he needed them. Instead, he collapsed on his bed, with Akamaru on his chest. Neji disappeared back into the bathroom to put on some clothes, and, when he didn't return for several minutes, Shikamaru sighed and started unpacking Neji's belongings as well.

It was early evening, and the sun was very slowly lowering itself in the sky. Just as it reached the top of the tallest oak tree, there was a knock on the door.

"Come in." Sakura said, stuffing a handful of panties back into her suitcase.

The door opened. An elderly man with a cane entered, and everyone recognized him at once as Danzou, the elderly caretaker of the mountain.

"Hey, Danzou." Naruto said brightly, hopping down from his bunk to give the elderly man a welcoming handshake. "I was wondering when you were going to come."

"Mr. Uzumaki," The man said. "And friends. It is good to see you again."

"You too, man." Kiba said from his bed. Neji chose this moment to emerge from the bathroom, complaining loudly about how ugly the shower curtains were. He cut himself off when he noticed the extra person in the room, eyes going wide. He quietly took a seat at the wooden desk.

Danzou didn't notice. His gaze was fixed on Naruto, and his expression was serious. "Mr. Uzumaki... you should have called in advance to tell me that you were coming."

"Huh? Why?" Naruto asked, stepping away from the man and noticing for the first time how nervous he looked.

"I wasn't planning staying up on this mountain for the summer." The man responded, wringing his hands. "I had intended to rent a room in town while everything blows over. As a matter of fact, I am on my way down right now."

"Blows over...? What do you mean, Danzou?" Sakura asked, turning her whole body around to look at him.

"I mean that the mountain might not be the safest place for a vacation, what with the recent events. I actually strongly recommend that you cut your visit short."

"What things?" Shikamaru asked, genuinely puzzled. Danzou looked around slowly, finally realizing that the six teenagers he was speaking to had no idea what he was talking about. His gaze fell on Sasuke. "Uchiha, right?"

Sasuke nodded.

Danzou looked at him confusedly. "And you don't know, either?"

The dark-haired boy shook his head. Danzou paled. "...You mean no one's told you?"

"Told me what?" Sasuke asked exasperatedly.

"There... there was a break out in the asylum at the top of the mountain. One of the escapees was... well, your brother."

Sakura gasped. Naruto and Kiba exchanged a surprised look. Neji looked clueless, tilting his head to the side.

Sasuke froze, trying to sort out his feelings. Itachi? He escaped? What... how could that have happened?

"The rest of the prisoners have been re-captured, but I'm afraid that your brother is still at large."

He took a deep breath. "Do my parents know this?"

Danzou nodded "Yes. I believe they were notified on Tuesday."

"O-oh. I... I see." He said, struggling to keep composure. Five days ago, and three days before Sasuke had left. They purposely hadn't told him.

"This is why I hope you all will take my advice and get out of here as soon as you can. You should be safe for one night. However, I urge you to leave first thing in the morning."

A heavy silence set over the room. Everyone looked around, not knowing what to say. They had just gotten there, and now they would have to leave? Granted there was some sort of danger, but still... everyone had been looking forward to the trip for ages.

"Listen." Naruto said firmly, startling everyone out of their thoughts. "We're going to stay. This is our last chance to be together before everyone goes off to college, and we're going to make the most of it." Kiba nodded somewhere behind him. "I don't think there's anything to be afraid of. Itachi's probably long gone by now, and if Sasuke's parents already know then I'm sure they're pretty well protected."

Danzou met Naruto's determined gaze. "Are you sure, Mr. Uzumaki?"

Naruto looked around at the rest of the occupants of the tent. He was unable to spot any nervousness on any of their faces. His eyes lingered on Sasuke, who returned his gaze with a steely look in his eyes. Naruto turned back to the caretaker.

"Yeah. We'll clean up the cabin when we leave, you won't have to worry about anything, okay?"

Danzou sighed. "If you insist, Mr. Uzumaki."

"Itachi escaped."

Sasuke stared at himself in the bathroom mirror, unable to believe the words even as he said them aloud.

"Itachi… escaped?" He tried again.

Still nothing. He wondered how long it would take for the words to sink in. That his psychotic, murderer brother had escaped from a supposed maximum-security asylum and was probably on his way to kill his parents right now. He wasn't worried about them; he was certain that if they knew about Itachi's escape then they would have taken every precaution to make sure they were protected. Unfortunately, Sasuke was sure that Itachi knew this as well.

Was his brother going to come back and try to kill him too? Maybe they should follow Danzou's advice and cut the vacation short.

But no, Sasuke Uchiha wasn't a coward. If his brother wanted to try and kill him, then bring it on. He wasn't the same scared little kid he was when the incident happened.

He splashed some water on his face to clear his head. When he finally felt calm enough, Sasuke exited the bathroom. Not paying attention, he took two steps toward his bed and bumped into a hard chest. He frowned as he looked up and saw Naruto grinning down at him.


"Hi." Sasuke made an attempt to move past the blond in his way, but Naruto was having none of it. He grabbed Sasuke's shoulders, forcing the Uchiha in front of him once more.

Sasuke scowled. "What do you want from me? I'm not in the mood for your shit, Naruto."

Naruto tilted his head to the side, still grinning. "Look at you, acting all tough. It's cute."

"Fuck you." Sasuke tried to twist out of Naruto's grasp.

"Hey, come on, I was just trying to cheer you up! Calm down, Sasuke."

"I am calm." Sasuke's voice wavered. "Let me go."

"You're not." The blond left Sasuke's shoulders in favor of pulling him into a warm hug. Sasuke tentatively returned it, and soon had his face buried in Naruto's chest.

"You can cry, if you want to."

"I'm not going to cry." Sasuke pulled away, looking Naruto in his bright blue eyes. "…Thank you, Naruto."

"You're welcome." Naruto smiled. Sasuke resisted the urge to smile back and instead cupped the blond's face in his hands, pulling him down for a kiss.

Naruto kissed back, gently backing the Uchiha against the wall. They stayed like this for a while, until Naruto broke the kiss, resting his forehead against the other boy's.

"Sasuke," He asked seriously. "You'll be okay?"

Sasuke swallowed. "Yeah."

"Are you sure? I'll take you home right now, if you want."

"No. Its okay."

Naruto gave him a disapproving look, but backed up from him anyway.

Sasuke sighed, crossing his arms. "I'm sorry if I'm being difficult. I know this has been hard on you, keeping us a secret from everyone…"

"Everyone except for Kiba." Naruto muttered offhandedly.

Sasuke's gaze snapped over to the blond. "Kiba!? How does he know?"

"Because he's been watching us for the last ten minutes."

"Don't mind me." Kiba chirped, popping out of the pile of sheets that had already become a mess on his bed.

Sasuke groaned and leaned back against the wall. "That's just great." He glared at Naruto. "Why would you kiss me if you knew he was there?"

"You kissed me first, Sasuke." Naruto shrugged. "Besides, Kiba's my best friend. I had to tell him eventually."

"Hey, I have a question!" Kiba said, waving his arm from the bed.

"What." Sasuke glared.

"So… when we were in that diner yesterday, and you two both went to the bathroom and didn't come out until half an hour later, you guys were…?"

Naruto coughed, blushing a bit. "Yeah." Sasuke still looked mildly pissed off, but that expression was close enough to his normal one so Naruto wasn't too worried.

Sasuke took his head off the wall, directing his gaze toward the brunet boy. "Kiba. You can't anyone about this."

Kiba snorted. "Who would I tell? Shikamaru wouldn't care."

"We don't want Sakura finding out." Naruto said, taking a seat on the chair in front of the desk. "She has this huge crush on Sasuke, and we don't want to hurt her."

"Okay, so she can't find out. Other than that, though, I don't see why anyone else can't know."

"But what about Neji? He's an asshole, if he found out, he would probably tell Sakura just to piss her off." Sasuke commented.

"You really think he would do that?" Kiba climbed down from his bunk, opting to lean against it instead. "I mean, he's annoying, but I don't think he'd do anything that malicious."

"Hn." Sasuke looked back up at the ceiling, effectively ending the discussion.

"This trip is gonna suck if everyone's getting laid but me." Kiba grumbled.

"And Sakura." Naruto pointed out.

"Yeah, and Saku... ra..." Kiba paused, a slow grin spreading across his face. Naruto recognized that expression right away.

"Oh, no Kiba, really? She's like, my sister." Naruto said, his face twisted up in disgust.

"She wasn't your sister when you made out with her at Sai's party." Sasuke grumbled offhandedly.

"Shut up, we don't talk about that."

"Look, if I fuck her, I'll be happy, and so will you two, because you wont have to hide your relationship anymore!"

Naruto still looked disgusted; Sasuke just rolled his eyes. "I don't care. Do whatever you want. You don't need our blessing or anything." He crossed over to Naruto, shoving him off the chair just because he felt like it.

Kiba grinned. "Score."

"Your friends don't like me that much, do they?"

"What makes you think that?" Shikamaru said neutrally.

The two were sitting side by side on the front steps of the cabin, bathed in the romantic glow of the setting sun.

"Shikamaru." Neji gave him a pointed look that said something along the lines of cut the bullshit.

Shikamaru sighed, taking a drag from his cigarette. "They just need some time to get used to you." He responded after exhaling.

"I don't care if they don't like me. I'm only here for you, Shikamaru. You know that."

"I know, baby." Shikamaru wrapped his arm around his boyfriend's waist. "Though, to tell you the truth, it isn't really that awkward being around Naruto and Sasuke."

"It's not?"

"No. I though they were going to tell everyone once we got here, but it looks like they're planning on keeping it a secret."

"Oh. So I guess you don't need me anymore, then." Neji said playfully. "Since it isn't going to be uncomfortable between you and your friends…" He trailed off, rising to get up.

…And was promptly pulled back down. "Don't be stupid." Shikamaru growled. "I wanted you to be here. I just figured you'd say no, because of them."

"Hm." Neji arranged himself so his head was in Shikamaru's lap, his legs stretched out lengthwise on the top step. "I probably would have." From this position he could see the stars gradually appearing in the darkened sky, way more clearly than he could ever see them back in Konoha.

"I'm glad you're here." Shikamaru leaned down, kissing him lightly on the forehead.

Neji rolled his eyes, but blushed nonetheless. Shikamaru had a sweet side that most of his friends didn't know about because it only came out when he was around Neji.

The Hyuuga tapped his boyfriend on the arm. "Ah," He said, pursing his lips.

Shikamaru leaned down and placed the cigarette between his boyfriend's lips. He watched as the older boy inhaled, feeling slightly guilty that he was the one who started Neji's smoking habit. However, to his knowledge, Neji only ever smoked around Shikamaru, which made the younger male feel better.

Neji removed the cigarette from his lips, exhaling slowly and watching the smoke drift up towards the crescent moon above him. "The stars are so clear out here."

"Yeah." Shikamaru could tell the other male was thinking hard about something. Instead of prying, he decided to change the subject.

"So... what are the stars saying about our vacation?"

A smile stretched across Neji's face. Shikamaru knew quite well of the boy's obsession with astrology, and how he liked to talk about it every chance he got. Shikamaru didn't really understand how the boy was so intrigued by his own fate; the Nara was just content with rolling with the punches, so to speak, and stepping around every blind curve life threw at him. The Hyuuga quickly launched into a long description about the positions of the stars and the planets, and Shikamaru stroked his hair, only half-listening.

Suddenly, there was a rustle of noise and a movement in the trees to his left. Neji continued talking, oblivious. Shikamaru quickly covered Neji's mouth with his hand. Neji made indignant muffled noises of protest while the younger teen's sharp eyes scanned the area.

Everything was silent. Shikamaru's eyes narrowed. "Sakura…?"

Neji fell quiet, realizing that something was amiss.

There was another rustle, this time coming from in front of them, past the car. Shikamaru let go of Neji and stood up cautiously. The two were surrounded by darkness. He walked forward, stepping down from the porch, and then saw it: a figure, too tall to be Sakura, turning and running through the forest. Shikamaru knew for a fact that everyone who was with him were the only people who were supposed to be on this mountain; the attendants of the asylum at the top of the mountain never left, and he and Neji had watched Danzou leave by taxi twenty minutes earlier.

His first instinct had been to chase after it; but no, that would hardly be rational. He turned to the boy beside him, realizing that he was staring at the same place Shikamaru had been looking at. Relief washed over Shikamaru when he realized that Neji must have seen the same thing; the boy had unnaturally good eyesight.

"Shikamaru," Neji started, taking the other boy's hand in his. "I want to go back inside."

After explaining what they saw outside to the rest of the group (or at least, Shikamaru did, while Neji hung back) everyone went back outside to search the surrounding areas for Sakura. After about fifteen minutes, she came back on her own with an armful of firewood. When they told her the story, she looked at them like they were all crazy, and went about starting a fire in the circle of rocks in front of the cabin.

Much later on, the six teenagers were getting ready for bed. Kiba was shirtless, chasing around Akamaru, who was in possession of the t-shirt he slept in. Naruto was lying on his bed, headphones in and playing the air drums to a loud rock song, singing along horribly off-key. Neji and Shikamaru were both in the bathroom, with Neji brushing his teeth and Shikamaru watching him with a love struck expression on his face. Sakura was sitting on her bed, painting her toenails a pastel green and averting her gaze from Kiba's bared tan skin. Sasuke was out on the porch, engaged in a heated phone conversation with his parents about why they hadn't told him of Itachi's escape. He was trying to be quiet, but parts of the conversation could still be heard.

The lights in the cabin finally went out around 10:00 pm; any other time they would have stayed up later, but it had been a long day, and they more or less all clocked out at the same time.

Across the clearing, a shadowy figure settled into a tree, red eyes fixed on the cabin.