Disclaimer: You know, I don't actually remember who owns Naruto, but it isn't me, sadly.

Title: Little Loved One

Summary: This isn't a story focused around any of the main characters, though they do pop up a little later on. This is actually the story of Aiko Nakamura, a thirteen-year-old genin from Iwagakure, the Hidden Rock Village. It is the story of Aiko's really crappy week, involving tigers, kidnappings, Akatsuki members, the chūnin exams, Orochimaru, and just about every unlucky thing that can happen to an unlucky little genin.

Pairings: Dunno really, there'll be some Shikamaru/Temari later on, maybe a bit of Naruto/Hinata, Kakashi/Iruka, Genma/Raidou, Kurenai/Asuma, Ino/OC, Sakura/OC, Anko/OC (remember these are just really a list of pairings I think I might throw in, but they won't really be central parts of the story). The main OC of the story is only 13, so she won't be paired seriously with anyone.

Timeframe: This goes AU after the Rescue Gaara Arc in Shippuden season 1.

Warnings: None really.

A/N: The title comes from the meaning of the name Aiko.

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Sometimes I wonder, why is it always me? I don't know anyone with worse luck than me. Seriously, Murphy must love me; that or the gods really don't. After the week I've had, I'm convinced it has to be one or the other; hell, it's probably both. The Akatsuki's presence attests to that.

You see, it all started Monday afternoon. The morning went fine; that wasn't when the trouble started. I got up at the crack of dawn like always, and headed to the training field to get in a few hours of practice while the rest of the village was still asleep. At about eight, the rest of Iwagakure began to rouse and I headed to the mission room to meet my team. I'm still a genin in the Village Hidden in the Rocks, even though I'm definitely up to chūnin level. The only reason I've yet to become a chūnin is because the last few years the exams have been held in Konohagakure, the Hidden Leaf Village, and there have been tensions between our two villages since the Third Great Shinobi World War. But that's all over now. With Orochimaru's invasion of the Leaf, the betrayal of the Sand, and eventual renewal of the peace treaties, the Tsuchikage decided it was time to strike our own truce with Konoha, since Konoha and Suna combined were way more powerful than us.

So genins from my village will be sent to this year's exams, which I think will be in Sunagakure, the Hidden Sand Village, and I know my sensei will recommend my team. I doubt my two teammates, Taki and Senji Kimikeshi, will make chūnin though. They're great shinobi, don't get me wrong, loyal, honest, skilled and smart too, but they aren't mature enough to be chūnin yet. I know I'll make it though; I have to.

But I haven't introduced myself yet, have I? I'm Aiko Nakamura. I'm all of 13 years old, a genin of the Hidden Rock Village. I graduated from the Academy at 10. I'm the only kunoichi on my team, Team 4, Dai-sensei's team. My teammates are Taki and Senji Kimikeshi, 15-year-old twin brothers, pranksters, miscreants, troublemakers, but two of the best friends a girl could ask for. They treat me with respect, acknowledge my skills as a ninja, but they have that old world breeding that leads them to open doors for me, and pull out chairs, and be all valiantly worried for my safety. They treat me like a lady, which can cause some confusion because I certainly don't act like one. Then there's our sensei, Dai Hoshiki. He's an interesting fellow that's for sure. He fluctuates between being very late or very early, dates a different floozy every week, and is a slave driver. Honestly, I don't think the man's ever heard of rest. It's made us stronger though, I'll give him that.

Anyway, it was Monday and after training by myself for a while, I went to the mission room to meet with my team. I assumed, given as Senji and Taki were already there and Dai-sensei was no where to be see, that today was one of his late days. And when he was late, he was always very late. I could see the boys preparing themselves for a long wait as I approached them.

"Sup boys?" I said, reaching the spot where they were slumped against the far wall, out of the way of shinobi who were coming in to get their mission assignments.

"Nothing, milady," Taki said.

"Absolutely nothing," Senji agreed.

"Hn," I murmured. As was my usual routine when Dai-sensei was late, I walked over to the chūnin and jounin behind the mission desk and offered my services handing out assignments. They gladly accepted and settled me behind a desk with a stack of D-rank assignments, a list of genin teams, and a shiny red pen. Secretly, I only did it for the shiny red pen. One day, I would steal that pen and name it Bob. For the next hours, I handed out assignments to my fellow genins while their senseis chuckled at Dai-sensei's lateness and the boys slept against the wall to the side.

Finally, Dai-sensei showed up, this week's floozy on his arm. He kissed her goodbye, a long, drawn out, disgusting kiss, and smiled while she swooned and left reluctantly. I gathered up my remaining assignments and returned them, giving the shiny red Bob pen a mournful glance as I handed him over (the chūnin on duty – Ichimaru – chuckling at me; he knew of my want for that pen and found the sweet sorrow of Bob and I's parting highly amusing), and walked over to meet Dai-sensei by the sleeping twins.

"Good morning, Dai-sensei," I said to him, not even bothering to admonish him for his lateness; he'd heard it so many times and besides he wasn't always late like that Copy-Nin fellow from the Leaf.

"Good morning, Aiko-chan," he said with a sunny smile. "I see you helped our friends at the mission desk in my absence this morning." He glanced down. "While our boys over here slept the morning away. Ah, if only they had your work ethic, my dear."

If only you had my work ethic, you miserable old pervert! I thought to myself. I didn't say it to his face; I just smiled and thanked him. Then I turned my attention to the sleeping twins.

"Get up you lazy sloths!" I shouted at them, landing a solid kick to both their sides, waking them with a start.

"Gah!" they both shrieked, rather unmanly shrieks if I must say.

"We're up, woman!"

"Jeez, no need to be violent!"

It always amuses me the way one minute I'm "milady" and the next I'm "woman!". These boys are so fickle, I tell you.

"Dai-sensei is here," I told them, matter-of-factly.

"Sup, Dai, my man!" Taki said.

"Say, Dai, my man, what's the lady of the week like? She hot?" Senji waggled his eyebrows. They were so disrespectful, and really crude when it came to Dai-sensei's women. It irked me.

"Boys!" I shouted. "Be more respectful to Dai-sensei!" They made a face at me. "I'm serious. He's our sensei. Honestly, 3 years and you have no manners still!"

"Oh, Aiko-chan, you know our boys will never learn," Dai-sensei said, patting me on the head. "Why don't you go grab our mission from Ichimaru-san?" He said it like a friendly suggestion, but I knew as soon as I was out of earshot he would start to tell them all about his flavor of the week. Boys, they were all the same, no matter their age or rank.

Ichimaru-san handed over our C-rank mission (which was our usual; sometimes we ever got B-rank missions, but we hadn't had a D-rank mission in over a year), to escort a diplomat from the Land of Fire to the village of Konoha. He'd been escorted to our country by Leaf shinobi, but they'd not been able to wait for two months for his meetings to be over, so he was hiring Rock shinobi to escort his back to Konoha, where his family was being guarded until his return. Apparently, there were a lot of people who would've done anything to cause relations between the Fire and Earth countries to fail. But they figured now that his assignment was over, no one would waste time or resources to try to kill him, hence the classification of C-rank.

Dai-sensei sent us home to pack for our mission and told us to meet at the gates in half an hour. Taki I and Senji would undoubtedly take longer, their mother being such a worrying hen and all. I didn't have to worry about troublesome mothers. Mine's been dead since I was 3, along with my father. I have no memories of either of them, so it doesn't make me all that sad anymore. It is what it is. I'd been raised by the village's orphanage until I graduated the Academy, then I'd come into the inheritance my parents left me and moved into the Nakamura compound. It was a nice place, but empty, built for a big clan that had slowly dwindled over the years until none but myself were left. Sometimes, I got lonely there, all alone with none but the ghosts for company, and those were the times I was thankful for the twins worrisome mother, who insisted it wasn't right for a girl like me to live by myself in "that dreadful empty tomb" and I was "welcome anytime, day or night; you just come on over honey, there's always room for you here, Aiko-chan." She was sweet sometimes but I was glad I didn't have to live with her.

As predicted, the boys showed up 20 minutes late, rubbing lipstick off their cheeks, muttering crossly about "crazy over-protective women" and they were "men, dammit, ninjas, shinobi, not babies!" Dai-sensei and our charge, Land of Fire diplomat Tijirou Zukani, both laughed at the boys. That was good; at least this guy wasn't a stuffy old bad; for all that he was an old geezer, he seemed to have sense of humor. That would make this mission a lot easier.

"Would you babies stop whining, already?" I groused, slapping them upside the head. "You're making yourselves look bad in front of the client, and you're making me look bad by association."

"Ah-hah-hah, that's alright," Tijirou-san said, guffawing, slapping his knees. "Boys will be boys. I remember being that age. I hated when my mother babied me too."

"See?"

"Someone understands our pain."

Boys.

~ · ~ · ~ · ~

I was snapped out of my remembrances by a sharp kick to my side. I sucked in a breath at the pain and winced slightly. "Ouch. That hurt," I complained. Shockingly, my captors didn't seem to care (insert sarcastic eye roll here, huh?).

"Too bad, yeah," the blonde with the annoying speech pattern said. For once in the entire time I've known them (half a day, half a day longer than I'd care to), the freak in the swirly orange mask kept his mouth shut. The other two – a shark and a scary, quiet dude with red eyes – were quiet as well, which as far as I can tell was only unusual for one of them. And what's up with that anyway? I thought Akatsuki worked in pairs, not teams of four. It's not even fair. How's a genin 'sposed to take on four S-class missing-nin and win, huh? I was doomed from the get go.

"You know, you're not very nice," I said.

"We're criminals," shark-face said. "We aren't supposed to be nice."

"I've met criminals who were perfectly pleasant people once they stopped trying to kill me," I said. "Who are you people anyway? I mean, I know you're Akatsuki, you're not exactly subtle in that regard." I indicated their ugly cloaks. "But who the hell are you? I can't keep calling you 'annoying loud-mouthed blondie boy', 'shark-faced freakazoid', 'hyper-active weird in the swirly orange mask' and 'uber-quiet psycho killer with scary eyes', can I?" I did genuinely want to know if I could keep calling them that; I liked my nicknames for them, even if they were a bit of a mouth full.

"What?! 'Annoying loud-mouthed blondie boy'? Why you little runt! Let go of me, Tobi; I'm gonna kill her!" Call me suicidal, but for some reason Blondie just didn't scare me all that much. At least his loud-mouthedness was marginally helpful this time; I learned that orange mask dude's name was Tobi apparently.

"Tobi thinks maybe the little girl shouldn't antagonize Deidara-sempai so much. He might blow you up in your sleep." Apparently, Tobi also talks in the third person. Annoying, are they all so annoying?

"Forget her sleep! I'll blow her up now, yeah!" Blondie – sorry, Deidara – shouted.

"You've got to admit, she's got you pegged," Shark-face laughed. Blondie flipped, struggling even harder against Tobi.

"Deidara!" Scary Eyes finally piped up. "Settle down!"

"Don't you tell me what to do, Itachi, yeah!" Blondie…well, pouted is all it can be called really. He stalked off, away from the fire and his bedroll spread out beside it, shouting back, "I'll take first watch. Keep the brat away from me."

I blinked. "Not very mature, is he?" I commented to the other three, rubbing my wrists where the robes they'd tied me with earlier had chaffed my skin. "So, I know he's Deidara, he's Tobi, and he's Itachi (and is that Itachi Uchiha, by the way?), but who are you?" I asked shark-face.

"Kisame, of the Seven Ninja Swordsmen of the Mist, and yeah, that's Itachi Uchiha."

"Huh, so I got the psycho killer part right then." Almost as an afterthought, I remarked, "You know, the Seven Ninja Swordsmen of the Mist just doesn't hold as much weight as it used to after Zabuza went and got himself beat by a bunch of genin."

"Oh shut up, who asked you, brat?" Kisame sulked. Yes! I'd managed to make two big and bad S-class Akatsuki criminals sulk like pig-tailed little girls! What? I was getting bored waiting around for someone to come save me, or for one of these fools to slip up long enough for me to escape. I needed something to keep me occupied, and pissing them off was really fun, if a little big like poking a sleeping dragon.

I shrugged, settling down on Deidara's bedroll (hey he wasn't using it!) and curling up to sleep. "If you decide to kill me, wake me up first," I said nonchalantly. I thought I heard Kisame murmur "What a weird kid" before I drifted off to sleep.

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A/N: Please review! :) I will 3 you forever!