Alas, my fair readers, the end is here! I want to thank everyone who bothered to read this, and I want to triple thank all of the reviewers. You guys are seriously the best. :')
I hope you've enjoyed this crazy ride, and I hope you're willing to check out my other stuff and/or read the series of oneshots when I post them. ^_^
Let's just get to it. I don't own Naruto. If I did, this would have been a filler arc. Believe it!
"Kiba." Everyone turned at the sound of the voice, properly distracted. It was Hana again, leaning on the doorway. "Mom's coming home soon."
"Oh shit!" Kiba swore, standing up quickly. "You all have to leave. My mom's coming back and you can't be here."
"Why?" Naruto asked confusedly.
Kiba looked sheepish. "Well, technically I'm not allowed to throw a party without asking her first."
"You aren't throwing a party," Sakura scoffed. "If you were, there would be booze. And at least a couple strippers."
Kiba grinned cheekily. "Yeah, you're right. Good times, good times."
Hana rolled her eyes. "And that's exactly why he is no longer allowed to throw parties."
"Oh, don't act like it wasn't the party of the century," Kiba retorted. "Although I probably should have rethought inviting Lee. No offense, bro."
"None taken," Lee piped up.
Everyone but Temari shuddered at the memory. Lee and alcohol definitely do not mix.
"Okay!" Kiba said loudly. "Everyone, get the hell out."
Naruto pouted, but brightened when he saw the time on a wall clock. "It's almost time for my midnight snack at Ichiraku anyway!"
"Isn't Ichiraku closed?" Choji asked.
Naruto grinned. "Not for me! Teuchi-san always leaves ramen out for my late-night and midnight snacks."
"How are you still alive?" Temari gaped. "All...that...sodium…"
"Beats me," he responded cheekily. Feeling eyes on him, he turned, only to be met by the pearly gaze of Hyuuga Hinata. Embarrassed, Hinata averted her gaze. But a lightbulb visibly went off in Naruto's head. "Hey!" he exclaimed. "Hinata-chan! Want to come with?"
Her eyes widened, all of her blood seemingly rushing to her face. "C-come?" she squeaked.
"Yeah!" the rambunctious blond answered. He wanted to get to know Hinata better, and Ichiraku Ramen seemed like a great place to start. "With me to Ichiraku!"
Hinata got more red, if that was even possible. "L-l-like a d-d-d-da—"
"Yeah!" he replied, flashing her a foxy grin. "Like dinner."
Hinata couldn't believe her luck! Feeling as if she would pass out at any second, she vigorously nodded her consent, her pointer fingers pressing together and her gaze once again averted.
"Great!" Naruto said happily. Then, without any further warning, he stood, grabbing Hinata by the hand and yanking her to her feet. "Let's go! Don't want the ramen to get cold."
"Naruto!" Sakura admonished. "You can't manhandle her like that! It's rude."
Naruto dropped Hinata's hand like a hot potato. "I'm sorry, Hina-chan!" he said quickly, regret in his eyes. "I just get so excited about ramen—I wasn't thinking—"
"It's okay, Naruto-kun," Hinata said quietly, still not looking at him for fear of fainting. "I don't mind."
The grin quickly took over his features again. "Really? Then let's go!" Unthinkingly, he grabbed her hand again, half-dragging her towards the front door. Hinata followed willingly.
"Hinata-sama," Neji interrupted, causing his cousin, while still walking, to look over her shoulder at him. "Your curfew is in half an hour." In other words, "it would not be wise for you to go."
But Hinata's feet still moved, her hand still captured in Naruto's. And when she finally made it out of the front door, she reached out to shut it.
Neji stared at the door disbelievingly. "She ignored me," he stated, completely shocked.
"Of course she did," Tenten snorted. "Leave the girl alone. You can't cockblock her forever."
Neji looked at her in dismay. "Tenten."
"Yes, munchkin?" she responded, her facial expression feigning innocence.
If he were a lesser man, Neji's teeth would be ground together in frustration. But as it was, he was not. He was a Hyuuga. Exhaling slowly, he said, "We should leave, lamb chop. Before Kiba gets in trouble."
Ino snorted, finding it hard to control her mirth.
Tenten nodded, standing. "That's a good idea, snuggles. We wouldn't want Kiba to get into trouble. Let's go, Lee," she told her other teammate.
"Yosh!" Lee responded buoyantly, jumping to his feet. Bowing deeply to the Inuzuka siblings, he said, "Thank you for your hospitality."
"Yeah, thanks, Kiba," Tenten added distractedly, walking with Neji to meet Lee on the other side of the room. She looked at the Hyuuga thoughtfully. "Soooo….does this mean we get to make out now?"
If he had had less grace, Neji definitely would have stumbled. But he was a Hyuuga, dammit! He was full of grace! "Tenten!" he hissed, stopping in his tracks, a slight blush adorning his cheeks.
"What?" Tenten responded nonchalantly. "I'll let you rub my feet after."
"FOR THE LAST TIME!" Neji bellowed, startling everyone in the room. "I DO NOT HAVE A FOOT FETISH!"
Tenten stared at him, stunned.
Neji cleared his throat, regaining his composure. "If you must know," he said stoically, looking Tenten straight in the eye, "you have nice legs."
It was silent as Tenten slowly comprehended this. Then, a grin reemerged. "I can roll with that," she winked, linking an arm through each of her teammates'. "Come on, boys. Let's blow this joint."
And with that, Team Gai left Kiba's house.
Temari burst out laughing. "I knew there was a reason I loved that girl," she sniggered, standing up as well. "Snuggles. Wow."
Shikamaru looked up at her. "Where are you going?"
Temari rolled her eyes. "If I'm not mistaken, Kiba just told us to get the hell out." She crossed her arms beneath her chest. "So I'm going to my room at the consulate."
Shikamaru sighed, standing as well. "That's on the other side of town."
Temari raised an eyebrow. "It is."
"And it's dark outside."
Temari suppressed the urge to laugh. "It is."
The shadow user looked annoyed that she was making him say it. "I'll walk you, you troublesome woman. A man should never let a woman walk alone in the dark."
Amusement glinted in Temari's eyes. Let it never be said that chivalry was dead. "Oh, Shikamaru," she swooned sarcastically, a dramatic hand draped across her forehead, "thank you so much! God forbid I had gotten lost! Or attacked. What would I have done?"
Shikamaru looked skyward, wondering why he always put himself into these situations. He followed Temari towards the door, stopping when Sai handed him a piece of paper behind Temari's back.
A now completely finished portrait looked back at him.
Before he could completely admire the blue of Temari's eyes against the pale paper, the muse herself turned around, wondering why he was walking so slowly. He stealthily slipped the paper into his pocket, following her into the night.
"They are in denial," Ino huffed. "Seriously." She rolled her eyes, standing. "Let's go, Forehead. I denounce tonight to be Sleepover Night. We have too much to talk about."
"Okay, Pig," Sakura sighed, standing as well. "But it's going to be your house this time. And you better have ice cream."
"What kind of Sleepover Night would this be without ice cream?" Ino snorted indignantly. She turned to her remaining teammate. "See you tomorrow, Cho. Lunch, right?"
Choji nodded, reflexively smiling to Ino's infectious one.
Thanking the Inuzukas for their hospitality, the two girls left, leaving only Choji, Shino, and Sai.
"We should leave as well," Shino said quietly, prompting the other two to stand along with him.
"Yeah," Choji responded, scratching his head. "We can walk together, since we all live in the same general direction." He paused. "I think. Where do you live again, Sai?"
Sai smiled creepily in response.
Choji looked weirded out. "Oookay. Whatever. We'll just head out. Thanks for having us, Kiba."
"Yes," Shino added, bowing his head slightly. "And thank you as well, Hana-san."
"Oh." Hana smiled, wrapping one of her bangs around her finger. "No problem, Shino-kun."
Kiba nearly gagged at the sudden spike in his sister's pheromones. "Really?" he shrieked childishly. "Really now."
Choosing to ignore Kiba's outburst, the three remaining shinobi nodded their goodbyes and then exited the house.
Kiba turned to his sister. "Really?" he shouted, clearly on the verge of having a mini-tantrum.
Hana shook her head. "Shut up, brat. You're just a puppy. You'll understand when you're older."
Kiba gasped. He crossed his arms, looking in the opposite direction of his sister. "I am not a puppy," he sulked, clearly insulted.
"If you say so, Kiba," Hana laughed, mussing his hair. Suddenly, she noticed a blue orb sitting on the carpet. "Hey, what's that?"
Kiba and Akamaru shared a knowing look. "Nothing," he responded, picking it up. "Ino must have left it. I'll give it to her tomorrow."
Hana shrugged, yawning. "Well, I'm going to bed." She turned. "Oh, and this room's a mess. Clean this shit up."
Kiba growled at her retreating back. "Bitch," he hissed.
"I'm sorry, did you say something?" Hana called sarcastically, her voice far away.
Mumbling, Kiba cursed his sister. And, as his eyes scanned the popcorn-speckled carpet, he cursed the fact that Choji was a messy eater.
…or is it?
I can do this, Sakura thought miserably.
She had to.
She just had to know!
Ino had tried to convince her to go buy her own copy, but even if Sakura could find a merchant willing to sell it to her, she didn't think she would be able to stand the shame.
For this reason, she had been following her former sensei around all day as he meandered about, oblivious to the world as he giggled into that stupid book of his.
The stupid book that Sakura needed.
She jumped quietly onto another branch as she watched Kakashi somehow dodge a group of rambunctious academy students without once looking up. She knew very well that she couldn't take it from him—there was no way he would allow that to happen. The only option left was asking to borrow it, and that was just as embarrassing as buying the book herself!
Sakura froze in her tree-jumping escapade, noticing for the first time that her target had stopped walking and holy shit, he was looking right at her!
"Sakura," Kakashi called, cocking his head to the side in question. "Why have you been following me all day?"
Embarrassed, Sakura jumped out of the tree, landing in front of the calm jounin. She looked at her feet, Kakashi's presence adding to the awkward feeling in her gut.
Stupid future-telling orb.
"Sakura?" Kakashi prompted again, causing the roseate girl to shyly look up into his masked face.
Sakura fidgeted under her sensei's gaze. "I was wondering if you could do me a favor, Kakashi-sensei."
His visible eye turned into a half-moon. "Depends on what it is, Sakura-chan."
"I want to borrow Icha Icha Tactics," she said hurriedly, before she could second guess herself.
Kakashi paused at that, her request apparently throwing him for a loop. He had expected that she wanted a training session, or maybe that she was here again to try to convince him to take his yearly physical, but he hadn't expected that. "Icha Icha is for adults, Sakura," he responded, his tone carefully blank.
"I am an adult," Sakura huffed, forgetting her embarrassment in favor of feeling indignant. "I've been an adult since I became a genin."
Kakashi continued to observe her, nothing about him betraying his feelings. Sakura struggled not to shrink back at his scrutiny. Finally, his half-moon eye was back. "Okay."
"Really?" Sakura breathed unbelievingly.
In response, the Copy Nin held out the book to her.
Slowly, Sakura reached out, her fingers closing around the novel.
The moment had finally come.
She no longer had to wonder!
Shakily, she opened to page 134.
Immediately, every drop of blood in her body migrated to her face.
Involuntarily, her jaw dropped in astonishment, head turning sideways to view the illustration at another angle.
She was pretty sure she would have to dislocate her own arm for that.
"Ah," Kakashi said, a smile in his voice. "That's one of my favorite parts."
Sakura shrieked, immediately jumping away from the Copy Nin, the book flying into the air. When had he gotten there? she thought frantically. He had been in front of her, but with no warning he had appeared behind her, reading over her shoulder, so close that she could feel the vibrations as he spoke shiver against her back. So close that his breath brushed her neck, causing the fine hairs to stand on end.
Kakashi easily caught his beloved book, clearly amused that he had caught her off guard.
Sakura breathed heavily, her heart still crashing against her ribs. "Is," she started tentatively. She swallowed. "Is that even possible?"
"Oh yes," Kakashi answered seriously. "You have to have perfect chakra control, but it's possible."
Sakura's heart stopped.
She had perfect chakra control.
ABORT MISSION! ABORT MISSION! her ninja senses screamed at her. And, for once in her life, Sakura didn't think twice about listening.
"See you later, Kakashi-sensei," she squeaked, dashing out of there like she was Naruto and she had just been told ramen was on clearance.
Kakashi watched confusedly as his former student disappeared in a cloud of dust. He scratched his head in bewilderment, wondering if Sakura was merely PMSing again. But, shrugging the whole strange incident off, he reopened his book to his previous spot, giggling.
A/N: Just to clear up any last minute things:
~Shika really did just walk Tema home. Unless you want it otherwise, in which case they lemoned it up, baby! ;)
~I love Tenten. She is just so much fun. Go get 'em, girl. Go get 'em. XD
~Writing time travel-y things is a bitch. Seriously. For example, Ino had to stay oblivious to Choji's love so that her own future come true, but during this whole fic, I'm going off the idea that everyone is going to disregard the orb's power. Thus, when pregnant with Kenji, Hinata will say that she doesn't know the sex of the baby (even though she had seen him through multiple futures), and Sakura will still hope that Sasuke loves her, even though she's seen that he can't. Ino will date Genma, even though she knows he's in it only for the sex, because she will think that that is what she wants as well (even though she has clearly seen otherwise). Temari won't see Shikamaru's proposal coming because she is a.) exhausted and b.) a skeptic.
Even though Shino's future proved the power of the orb, everyone will later mark it off as coincidence. We have got a bunch of cynics on our hands, people. Just roll with it.
One last review for old times sake? *author nudges readers towards review button*
Thanks again, folks! ^_^