This fic is a collaboration between myself and Ahmenet following a late night discussion and inspiration from the song "THE DIVA'S LAMENT" from Spamalot.
We do not own Naruto or any of the characters. We certainly owe Kishimoto Masashi a BIG apology for the liberties taken with his character. This is all in fun. Please don't sue.
The deadline was looming, staring at him as ruthlessly as any ninja opponent. Kishimoto, stretched, groaning from sitting in one position for far too long. His shoulders ached, his head ached, hell ... everything ached. Maybe he was coming down with the flu? No, he hoped not because that wouldn't delay the deadline any.
Yawning, the manga artist looked around and winced. His place was a mess. Take-out cartons with congealed contents and papers strewn everywhere. Those were just the initial sketches, his actual pages were stacked neatly on his desk. Kishimoto sighed as he looked at them. There were not enough. Deadlines, deadlines. Crud.
As he got ready for a quick nap before returning to work on his Naruto pages, he wondered about the course he'd selected for Sasuke's character. No, it was the way he wanted to go, it's just that drawing the character was difficult. Though Sasuke was still one of his favorite characters.
Yawning, Kishimoto winced and wondered if that last carton of spicy noodles had been a good idea after all. He glanced over at his medicine cabinet in the bathroom and decided that he didn't need anti-acid medicine, it was too troublesome to go get it. As he dropped onto the bed, Kishimoto chuckled, he was starting to sound like one of his own characters.
Sleep was instantaneous. The dreaming started not too long after.
With Sasuke and Shikumaru on his mind, and having just left writing about Danzo it was a bit surprising when Konohamaru was the one to visit him first in his dream. And somehow, even asleep, Kishimoto knew it was a dream but one he was helpless to stop.
"I want more screen time." The young character demanded, his trademark long scarf trailing behind him. Moegi and Udon stood behind him, both nodding their support.
In his dream Kishimoto sat up and shook his head. "I don't write the anime." He hedged.
Konohamaru crossed his arms. "Look, I appreciate being given the Rasengan and all, but please ... where were MY training scenes? It's not like it would be taking time away from Naruto because he was the one teaching me!"
The manga artist yawned and tried to lay back down. "It didn't advance the plot, and for pacing ..."
"Pacing-smacing!" Konohamaru pouted. "I want a training scene with the boss!"
"And I just want a tissue every once in a while." Udon piped up. "Please?" He looked so hopeful.
Kishimoto sighed and looked at Moegi. "And you?"
The young kunoichi smiled. "A more mature look would be nice, I am growing up after all."
Kishimoto nodded, knowing none of those things were in his immediate plans. "I'll think about it." Was all he promised. Silence descended and he sighed in relief, until he felt a sharp poke in his ribs.
Jumping up and spinning, the manga artist blinked. Having expected Konohamaru this time, he was left staring at a red-headed stranger. He blinked again. She looked vaguely familiar.
"See! See! That's my point!" The female yelled at him. "If you don't remember me without my hat and flute, then no one else will either!"
It was the mention of the flute that clued him in. "Tayuya?"
The red-headed kunochi pulled out his desk chair and plopped down, crossing her arms to stare at him. Kishimoto sighed and decided not to fight her for the chair. "You died and I need sleep, go away."
Her leg started swinging back and forth in an irritated manner. "Look. If I dye my hair, any color other than red, and leave off the hat and drop the flute you can write me back in again."
"You lost your fight and you died." Kishimoto tried logic once more.
Tayuya sighed and shook her head. "Idiot, you'd change my name but you can still write me back in! Besides, you've brought back dead characters before."
"And I'd like to discuss that very thing." A sibilant voice hissed from behind him. Kishimoto jumped up and spun. Even though he knew Orochimaru was fictional, it still had his heart racing to have the man sneak up behind him like that. "When am I coming back?"
When, not if. Kishimoto dropped his head and closed his eyes, hoping they would all go away. Was this dream because of the deadline or the spicy noodles?
Orochimaru sighed and looked almost harmless as he walked in and sat on the side of the bed. "You've stuck me in Kabuto and I want out."
"That's a big assumption." Kishimoto finally looked up. "It's as fictional as all the Shikamaru romances out there."
Kabuto laughed and the manga artist looked behind and was less than surprised that Tayuya had vanished and the glasses-clad medic was now looking at him with cool detachment. "I assume you want Orochimaru out too?"
Kabuto shook his head and smiled.
Orochimaru snarled. "No. If I'm stuck in him he gets all my lines and screen time! He sidelines me and becomes the next Big Bad. This is NOT going to work! Look at him, he can not take my place, I'm far more scary just as I am!"
"Which makes me a better villain." Kabuto yawned. "I don't look evil, so it makes a better juxtaposition."
Juxtaposition? Kishimoto winced, not sure that the word actually fit the meaning in the sentence. It was his dream, shouldn't he be in charge?
"Just remember who was your first and best villain."
Kishimoto shook his head. "Actually that first villain was Mizuki." After he said the name, he looked around his room, but the thief didn't make an appearance. He sighed in relief.
"He was never the BEST!" Orochimaru snarled. "I am one of the legendary Sannin!"
"I know, I wrote you." Mumbled Kishimoto.
"That's not all you wrote you disgusting old man."
Kishimoto opened his wearily and looked over at Karin. "I am not old."
"Older than me and now older than I will ever be." She spat at him. "How could you?"
"What? Kill you? No one liked you and it showed in what direction that Sasuke was moving." Kishimoto sighed. "I am not apologizing to my own creation." He mumbled to himself. "I am not."
"You're not terribly good in the sympathy department." The manga artist took a deep breath as he peeked to the side and saw Sakura and Sai looking back at him. The pink-haired kunoichi shook her head. "You could at least pretend you feel bad about killing her off, at Sasuke's hand no less."
Sai looked like he had no opinion on the matter.
Kishimoto sighed. "Let me guess. You want more screen time? More training? To be Hokage yourself? It's not going to happen."
Sakura laughed and shrugged. "See how little you know me? And you write me. You even said to one of those reporters that you wrote me to be a normal type of girl. So ...can't you guess what it is I want?"
He thought about it a long moment, but his head still hurt. "No. What? A mall?"
The sound of cracking knuckles was her only response as she glared at him.
Kishimoto sighed. "Not a mall then. So what do you want?"
"A better English voice actor!" Hissed the pink-haired girl, as if that should have been obvious the whole time.
Kishimoto grabbed a notebook and flipped to a blank page. "Training for Konohamaru. Nothing for Tayuya. Orochimaru versus Kabuto. And better English voice actors." He looked up at Sai in question.
The artist nin shrugged and tugged on his midriff baring shirt. "New wardrobe. Something like Edward Cullen or Neo from THE MATRIX."
"Who's Edward Cullen?" Kishimoto asked blankly and Sakura made a rude noise.
"As long as we're discussing wardrobe changes." Shino stepped out of the shadows. "Do you hate me? Am I unattractive? No one ever sees my eyes and now the collars of my coats keep getting higher, and now a hood too? You hate me, I know it."
Shino was worried about clothing? Kishimoto looked startled as he wrote some scribble in his notebook. This had to be a result of the spicy noodles.
"So. You're &^%$#^ not going to bring *&^%&^ Tayuya back? Does that mean that I'm *&^%$% permanently gone too?" The voice was harsh and angry. "I'm supposed to be (*&(*^ &(I)&^& immortal you $$^&**.
Kishimoto sighed. "You're not dead Hidan, just dismembered. You still have a chance to come back at a later time." Not that he had any intention of doing that right now, but maybe.
Sudden silence. Kishimoto knew it was too good to be true. He opened his eyes that he didn't remember closing, but wasn't that the way in dreams? Suddenly he was surrounded by dozens of ninja all in cloaks with ANBU masks. He sighed and lifted his pencil. "Wardrobe changes? Voice actors? What?"
One bear-masked shinobi stepped up. "Spin-off. We want our own manga."
Kishimoto's eyes went wide. "I can't keep up with the deadlines of the one I have, I can't write two!"
The ANBU weren't satisfied. "We're dark, we're mysterious, we're Ray Park and cooler than Darth Maul. You could write it and call it "The ANBU of Konoha". It'll be a cross between Grey's Anatomy and Supernatural.
His hand moved automatically and when he looked down, Kishimoto frowned. "Grey's Anatomy? What's that? Isn't that a medical text book?"
"Medical texts? Do you need to borrow some of mine?"
Looking up, Kishimoto was happy to see the ANBU had left. He hoped. He instead looked over at Tsunade.
The blonde scowled at him. "A coma? A frickin' coma?" She cracked her knuckles at him too. "I'm bored. Kill me or revive me, but do something. Coma's are boring. Am I dead or not? Do something! I can't be Hogake like this."
"You're complaining? You got to be Hokage for more than a month. I didn't even really get to settle into the office!" Danzo snarled, suddenly appearing out of nowhere. "You have nothing to complain about you bitch!"
"Are you going to let him get away with calling me that?" Tsunade said with annoyance. "Or do I need to destroy him and your office all at the same time."
Kishimoto felt alarmed, though why he should he wasn't sure. This was merely a dream after all. They couldn't really destroy his office. Right?? But in his dream he wasn't so sure. "STOP! Both of you just stop it!" He yelled, looking back and forth between the two Hogake's but they had vanished.
"Talking to yourself is never a good sign." Came a bored voice from behind him.
Kishimoto spun and stared at Uchiha Itachi. He fumbled for his notebook feeling clumsy next to his oh-so-cool creation. How bad was it when you felt inferior to someone that you wrote? Unsure what to say or do, and with Itachi remaining silent, he asked the only question that came to mind. "So, what do you want?"
Itachi stared at him and even though he knew that the figment of his dream couldn't actually use the Sharingan, he still dropped his gaze, not meeting Itachi's eyes.
"You must want something." Kishimoto asked, uncomfortable in the silence. Itachi just looked at him and slowly turned away. "There must be something! I put you through hell and killed you off and your brother is throwing away what you tried so hard to achieve. There must be something you need!"
Itachi walked slowly away, never saying a word.
"Damn your inscrutable self!" Kishimoto yelled after his character. "I wrote you and I don't even understand you!"
"He was right. Talking to yourself is never a good sign."
Kishimoto wondered when the hell he was going to wake up. With a weary sigh he turned to glare at a beaming Ino. She waved at him. "Hi."
"I know you want something at least."
Ino's smile grew wider as she pulled out a piece of paper, that as she unfolded it reached nearly to the floor.
Kishimoto shook his head. "My dream, my rules. Choose one request. That's all you get."
Ino huffed and puffed and turned red, as she pored over her list of needs. Finally she looked up and smiled at him. "Shikamaru."
Surprised. Kishimoto blinked at her. "I just knew you were going to say Sasuke."
"Have you read the fanfictions about me and Nara?' Ino pouted prettily. "Opened my eyes I can tell you that. I want Shikamaru."
"Go away. My turn." Kishimoto sighed and turned to look at the Sand siblings, Kankuro and Temari. He tried to come up with a smile for the duo, but then gave up as he grimaced instead.
Ino huffed again, and pointed at the writer. "Remember, I get Shikamaru." She said coolly before fading into the shadows.
"Let me guess. You've been reading fanfictions and you want Shikamaru too?" Kishimoto looked over at Temari.
"No. But he does." The blonde pointed at her brother who looked appalled.
"I do NOT!" Kankuro roared. "You evil twit!"
"Well?" Kishimoto pulled out his chair and took a seat, leaning his chin on one fist as he stared at the two from Suna. "What do you want then?"
"More money." The puppeteer snarled. "We were only signed on for that chuunin exam story arc. But you keep bringing us back. You even poisoned my ass."
Kishimoto nodded. "I had no idea you all would become as popular as you did. I even enjoy you. So I brought you back. Something many other characters would love to have. Tayuya comes to mind."
"Who?" Temari asked, genuinely puzzled.
"You killed me and you don't even remember me?" The red head was back. She turned on Kishimoto. "See? I could come back, no one would mind."
"Never mind her. We want more money." Temari said and Kankuro nodded.
Kishimoto shrugged. "I don't pay you."
"See? That's the problem!" Kankuro snarled.
"I'm going back to bed." Kishimoto shoved his notebook on the table and left the sand duo behind as he threw himself on the bed. "Go away."
Blessed silence. Then someone cleared their throat. Then several someones.
Kishimoto squeezed his eyes shut and wished them all to go away. Someone grabbed his ankle and pulled him off the bed. Squeaking and sputtering, the manga writer looked up, startled. He blinked.
Blinking, he looked at he dark skinned youth with spiky light hair. "Omoi?"
"Team Samui." Omoi nodded and looked at his two female team members. "We have a LOT of potential. And where are we? The meeting of the Kage's looked promising, then you gave it all away
to Sasuke and Danzo. Is that fair I ask you, is it?"
A furious barking interrupted Kishimoto's response, which was a good thing since he wasn't quite sure what to say to the furious trio. He turned his back on the Cloud ninja and looked at Akamaru, then over at Kiba, who was looking irate. "What now?"
"His highness has a bigger trailer than I do! That's the problem." Kiba pointed at the large shaggy nin-dog. "And better food! I get cheese sandwiches and Akamaru gets steak!"
Kishimoto moaned and turned away to throw himself back down on the bed. This was getting ridiculous. He didn't feed his characters, they were fictional!
"Well, aren't you going to do something?" Kiba demanded, refusing to leave.
Kishimoto groaned into his pillow. "The dog is more popular than you are, deal with it."
Again, it fell silent. He held his breath, but no one coughed, no one pulled him from his bed and maybe it was all over.
Kishimoto screamed into his pillow.
He turned over, blinking. The young woman slowly came into focus. "Hinata?" He looked stunned.
The young woman in question blushed furiously and poked her two fore-fingers together shyly.
"Yep. You're Hinata." Kishimoto sat up.
Hyuuga Hinata handed him his notebook and pointed to an entry that she'd written. Kishimoto looked at it and nodded. "You'd like to say a sentence without a stutter. Got it."
"And I'd like to be able to say a sentence too. I never get to talk." The second girl stepped up next to her sister. Hanabi. "Please."
Kishimoto nodded and both girls bowed politely and left. "They were at least nice about it."
"I have a request too." Another young female voice.
Kishimoto looked over his shoulder at Matsuri. She smiled rather shyly. "Yes?" He prompted her.
The writer nodded hoping he was now out of fangirls and kunoichi with crushes. Maybe he could get some actual sleep now.
Kishimoto blinked his eyes and groaned. What had happened to the polite little pokes? Now he was getting hit. He rolled over and groaned. He'd been wrong. More kunoichi.
TenTen looked upset as she glared at him.
"So." Kishimoto sighed. "What do you want. Or is that a 'whom' do you want?"
"I want in on the action!" TenTen growled throwing a few kicks in the air, looking every inch the master of martial arts. "Why do the boys get more screen time than I do? Sure Neji is a pretty boy but I'm better looking than Lee! I have an ass and I have breasts!"
"Not much of either." Shikamaru yawned and sauntered into the room followed by Gaara.
TenTen shrieked and attacked, only to be brought up short by a wall of sand.
Kishimoto was grateful for the quiet, but he was still annoyed. "What now?"
Shikamaru and Gaara shared a look and then held out rolled scrolls. "Sign these." They demanded.
"Bigger trailers, better food, different voice actors, what the hell?" Kishimoto unrolled the first scroll, then looked puzzled. "This is a contract."
"Sign." Gaara demanded handing him a pen.
Shikamaru nodded. "These contracts are ironclad assurances that you won't put us in any romantic nonsense with the fangirls. No romance. This isn't that kind of manga."
Kishimoto looked suprised.
Shikamaru pointed out a line. "See. This is to make sure you don't listen to the fanfics. No Ino, no Temari and no Tayuya."
"Well, Tayuya will be pleased you even remembered her." Kishimoto yawned.
"No Matsuri." Gaara said pointedly.
The writer shrugged. "I have no interest in writing romance. I've even made it clear in public, no dating and that stuff."
"We want it in writing." Shikamaru insisted. Gaara nodded.
Kishimoto laughed and pushed the scrolls away. "Go back to where ever you came from. Don't worry about it."
Shikamarua and Gaara shared another inscrutable look, then the shadow-nin stepped forward. "If you don't sign, we quit."
"Quit?" The writer looked stunned. "You can't quit, I created you!"
Shrugging, the two shinobi held the contracts back out. "I hear you have a twin brother writing a manga or two. He might appreciate a couple of experienced characters that already have their own fan bases."
Kishimoto grabbed the contracts and scribbled his name illegibly across the bottoms. "Contracts signed in a dream, drawn up by figments of my imagination, and under duress will never hold up in a court."
Shikamaru nodded. "No, they wouldn't. But you know and we know that you signed them. They're binding. We'll haunt you if you break the contracts."
Gaara nodded. "And give you a wicked case of writer's block."
Kishimoto shuddered and handed them back the scrolls, all signed and ready.
"If I'd known threats like that would work, I would have come better prepared." Kakashi slid into the room as the other two melted away.
"I just made you Hogake, and didn't leave you dead." Kishimoto sighed. "What could you possibly want?"
Kakashi held up his Icha Icha novel and turned it around. The pages were blank. "Give me a book to actually READ! Preferably porn."
"You are such a pervert." Ebisu and Genma came out to join Kakashi.
Genma smiled at Kishimoto. "We won't make you ask. We want more screen time and I want to get rid of this damned senbon in my mouth."
"It's your trademark." The writer protested.
"This is all petty and uninteresting." Tobi was suddenly standing on top of Kishimoto's desk looking menacing.
"Pfft. Whatever." Genma and the others slid away leaving Tobi by his lonesome.
Kishimoto ran one hand over his face as he looked up at Tobi. "What could you possibly want?"
"An explanation." Tobi laughed. "I don't get where you're going with my character. What are my real motives? There are more secrets to be revealed, I just know it."
Tobi shrugged, his arms out wide. "So tell me. I signed on to star in Naruto, not Lost."
"Get bent." Sasuke finally made his grand entrance, looking like he owned the place. Tobi made a weird noise then 'poofed' out. "I have a bone to pick with you!" He pointed toward the writer.
"Of course you do." Kishimoto nodded. "At least I'm running low on characters by now."
"Secondary and tertiary characters and cameos, not to mention the filler arcs." Sasuke pointed out ruthlessly. Kishimoto nearly cried. "But forget them. I want to know about this!" He pointed to his head.
"My hair!" Sasuke looked disturbingly angry. "Why do I still look like I have a duck-butt on my head? I'm your new Big Bad. I rule. I killed Danzo."
"And me!" Karin yelled from out of the darkness.
"Shut up!" Sasuke hissed.
"Not me." Killer Bee laughed, but didn't show up.
"Shut up!" Sasuke roared then glared at Kishimoto. "Why couldn't I have gotten Neji's hair? He's got cool hair and I get this mess? Why is it always Neji, Neji, Neji?!"
Kishimoto groaned. "Don't have an emo melt-down now, I'm on a deadline. Just be glad I like you. Don't forget I could always bring back Itachi. Or Orochimaru."
"YES!" A hissing voice yelled out from the darkness.
Suddenly the darkness vanished and the room was filled with whipping and glowing red tails. Nine of them. Oh crud. The Kyuubi no Yoko. The nine-tailed fox. In his office. Kishimoto winced and then peeked.
The demon was glaring at him.
Kishimoto picked up his notebook and held the pencil expectantly. "Yes?"
"Red M&Ms." The fox roared.
"You want M&Ms?" Kishimoto sounded surprised.
"Just the red ones." The fox demanded.
Kishimoto nodded. "You got it."
He wrote down the request and when he looked up the nine-tailed demon was gone. He breathed out in relief. "Good."
"Not done yet."
Kishimoto spun and then smiled as he spied Naruto sitting in his office seat. "What do you need? Orange M&Ms or more ramen?"
Naruto shook his head and shrugged. "Whose name is on the manga?"
The writer paused and then answered. "Yours."
"Whose story is it?"
"Mine." Naruto glared. "Okay, yours." Kishimoto gave in.
The blonde nodded. "If it's my story, then why am I not in it?!"
Kishimoto nodded, sighed and wrote a notation down in his notebook. "More Naruto."
A ringing noise grew and grew and Kishimoto groaned before rolling over, blinking at the harsh numbers on his clock. Time to get up. He had a deadline. So here he went, working on no rest because of that damned dream.
He looked over at the mess on his desk and padded over, picking up his notebook. Then he frowned sharply. He looked down and yep, there it was.
All the requests. In his handwriting. Except for Hinata's, which was in a different handwriting style all together. A feminine one.
Kishimoto looked around and wondered. It had been all a dream, right?
Feeling stupid, he walked over to his kitchen and pulled out a bowl. He filled it with red M&M's, and only the red ones.
Just in case.