If this story seems familiar, there's a very good reason: This is the second time I've uploaded it, because it got taken down a week or so ago by the admins for a cuss word in the summary.

It has been rechecked for spelling errors and such, and some of it has been changed a bit, so if you've already read it, I would advise a second reading to familiarize yourself with anything different. And for anyone who hasn't read this yet, well: This story is crack-ish. You've been warned.


I hope everyone likes it, and if you've already read it, I would be very happy if you could send your support via review again. :)

I do not own Naruto or any of the songs mentioned or...well...Heck. You guys should be able to figure out what I do and don't own of this.


Please read and review!

I scowled. Life isn't fair.

My name is Haruno Sakura, and I'm fifteen years old. I live with my brother, Nagato, and my mother, Kirame. I'm the "weirdo" of Konoha High — the midget-girl (4' 11'') with pink hair and green eyes. And I'm not your typical girl either; my brother says I'm more like a guy. (I consider that a complement.)

My brother is eighteen, a senior at Konoha High. He's tall (damn him) and he has red hair and gray eyes. He belongs to some group called Acatsky or something like that. I didn't forget the name; I just temporarily misplaced the thought...


My mom got called away on some kind of business trip yesterday, so Nagato and I have to stay home alone for a couple of weeks. (Not that I mind.) BUT, Nagato's stupid little group has a meeting every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and he just can't stand the thought of leaving me alone. So guess what he decided?

Shit-face over here decided that since today is Saturday, he's gonna drag me along to his group meeting. Kill me now.

"Nagato, I'll be fine," I insisted.

He shook his head, pulling on my arm.

"No," Nagato argued. "I will not leave you home alone while mother isn't here."

"Then MAYBE I could go over to HINATA'S," I growled.

"Not going to happen."

"And why NOT? !"

"Because I am three years older than you, and mother would kill me if I didn't keep an eye on you."

"Not my problem."

"It will be your problem."

We glared at each other.

"Why can't I just gather a group of people and stay here until you get back? !" I complained.

"Because mother said that no one can come over while she's away," he retorted.

"But mother doesn't have to know about it," I ground out.

Nagato smirked at me.

"Oh? Would you have me lie?"

I hate him.

"You're impossible," I muttered, crossing my arms and looking away.

"And you're annoying," he shot back.

I scowled at him.










His eyes narrowed.


Oh no. That's it. This is where I draw the line.


"Sakura!" He sounded almost shocked. "Don't use language like that! You're only fifteen!"

I stuck out my tongue childishly.

"Oh, real mature."

"Bite me, aniki."

"Imouto-chan, how many times have I told you not to say such things?" He scolded, frowning. I rolled my eyes.

What — does he think he's threatening me? Fat chance.

"Let's go."

Nagato snatched my arm before I had time to react and pulled me out of the house, somehow locking the door behind us.

"No!" I shouted, attempting to free myself from his grip. "Let go, aniki!"

"Be quiet!" he snapped. "You're attracting attention!"

Attention? Oh, I'll give him attention.



And that's how I found myself squeezed in a death-grip with my back against his chest and a hand over my mouth. My feet dragged against the concrete sidewalk as he continued with his ground-eating pace, eyebrow twitching and scowl on his face.

People glanced at us nervously from all directions, mumbling to each other uncertainly. Mothers pulled their children away while said children complained that they wanted to see what was going to happen.

What were we? Their entertainment?

I glared big fiery holes into my older brother's head...er, rather, chin since I was shorter than him. Stupid tall people.

Nagato didn't even spare me a glance (Jerk!) as he walked swiftly down the street, his dark aura making innocent bystanders shy away in fear of their lives. Even a policeman standing at the corner took a couple steps back as Nagato (and the reluctant yours truly) made our way across the crosswalk. Hmph. Some policeman. Aren't they supposed to be fearless or something?

I gave up on struggling. Nagato was (unfortunately) bigger and stronger than me, so I didn't have a snowball's chance in flames of getting away in less than five pieces. Oh, woe is me.

So, I settled for glaring at every person we stalked — or, in my case, got dragged — by. It was kind of funny to see them pale and run away. Heh heh.

I glanced around to see where he was taking me. Who knew? Maybe I could use their "secret meeting place" for blackmail.

And blackmail is fun, after all.

Disappointment swirled n my stomach when Nagato practically carried me into a normal café. One I had been to a few times, in fact. Akikyo's Grille and Café was one of my favorite places to eat. It was mostly outdoor seating, but they did have indoor seating as well.

The place — we went inside because it looked like it was going to rain later — was packed. There wasn't a single table without at least six people sitting at it. A lot of the tables had been shoved together to make room for larger parties, and chairs were crammed wherever they would fit.

Half of the people in Akikyo's looked up when we entered. About a third of them murmured to each other. About a quarter of them gaped at us.

And every single one of them stared.

And what do you know? I still appeared to be Nagato's hostage — which I undoubtedly was. They sure got a shock. Nevertheless, I glared at them all.

I had never met any of Nagato's "group buddies," so I had no clue what any of them looked like. But I was pretty sure the group of senior citizens sitting in the back corner wasn't them.

But if they were, then my brother had pretty damn weird taste in friends.

Thankfully, Nagato didn't pull me towards the table full of old geezers that looked to be the only ones who hadn't heard us enter. (Go figure.) Instead, he forced me towards a table jammed with people about his age. (At least that's a start.)

One of them looked kind of familiar — no, scratch that; two of them looked kind of familiar, and one of them...whoa. She looked a lot like Ino. But, wait...that was a "she," wasn't it...? !

Okay, so maybe my brother's taste in friends WAS pretty weird.

They all looked up and stared blankly as Nagato dragged his poor hostage — A.K.A, moi — towards their table. We stood awkwardly by the only empty chair. Aniki offered an apologetic half-smile to his "groupies"

"I apologize for the delay," he murmured. I rolled my eyes, snorting inwardly.

"Dude, who's the little hot chick?" one with slicked-back silver hair and violet eyes asked, smirking.

Both Nagato and I glared deathly flames at him, resulting in a few raised eyebrows. Just as my brother opened his mouth to send a furious reply, I bit down on his hand.

Face screwing up in shock and slight pain, Nagato ripped his hand from my mouth and held it tenderly with his other hand. I spat crossly, trying to rid my mouth of the bad taste, and delivered a nice little kick to his shin. He staggered back, glaring at me venomously. I scowled right back.

"She's my imouto," he growled out as we glared holes into each other.

The words "You're related to that?" seemed to be stamped on the silver-haired guy's forehead. A few of them snickered while others just stared unblinkingly.

"I didn't know you had a sister," one with pale blue skin — what the hell? ! — and dark blue-gray hair remarked, grinning widely to show off a row of pointed teeth.

What are these people? !

"That's because I'm not sure if she is my younger sister or some vicious animal my mother found on the side of the road," Nagato stated dryly.

I bristled instantly, lightning flashing in my eyes.

"Bastard!" I yelled. "You're the one that acts like a fucking dog!"

"I've told you not to use that kind of language!" he shot back angrily when a few of his friends gaped at me.

"You don't order me around!" I flashed.

"I do when Okaa-san isn't home!" he hissed.

"Well, you aren't Okaa-san!"

"Of course I'm not, you twit! What do I look like? !"

"You look pretty stupid to me!"

"Brat, I'm gonna make you eat your words!"

"Come try it, you big turkey!"



By now, we were nose-to-nose, our foreheads pressed together as we screamed insults at each other. Everyone inside the restaurant inched away from us, fearing impending doom. A couple of Nagato's friends were laughing their heads off.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" a girl with short blue hair pulled into a bun called, pushing between us. "Time out! Why are you two fighting? !"

We glared at each other over her head. (Well, seeing as she was taller than me, I glared around her head.) My Inner personality — created from my excess of aggression and irritation from when I was little and people still picked on me — was egging me on with some very tempting offers in my mind.

"He/She started it!" we both exclaimed at the same time.

"Man, Nagato!" one of his friends laughed, howling with amusement. "I've never seen you get so worked up before! In fact, I've never seen you get angry before!"

He had spiked orange hair and gray-green eyes, and he was currently clutching his stomach as he snickered. An older-looking clone of him sat across the table, staring blankly at us. The clone, however, had gray eyes that looked a lot like Nagato's and a multitude of piercings decorating his face.

"Bring it, aniki!" I taunted. "I'll wipe the floor with you!"

He growled and attempted to lunge at me, but was stopped by the blue-haired senior between us.

"Siblings aren't supposed to fight like this!" she objected.

"Tell that to the rabid hellcat," Nagato muttered.

"What'd you say? !" I shouted.

We both made a move to strangle each other, but we were once again stopped by the girl. Damn it!

Get the hell out of the way! my Inner snapped, fists clenching.

"Nagato, sit down!" the girl ordered, glaring at him.

Nagato glared back and then muttered something under his breath before taking the last available seat. I smirked victoriously.

"That's right, aniki," I mocked. "Listen to your girlfriend."

They both glared at me, red staining their faces.

Whoa. That was his girlfriend. I almost laughed. Well, that was surprising.

Who knew that stuffy jerk could actually get one?

"Imouto, sit down," Nagato said sternly, pointing to the floor beside his chair. A vein twitched on my forehead.

"I don't think so," I grunted, turning to stalk out of the café.

Before I even took a step, a hand jerked me down. I landed roughly on the floor, the back of my head slamming against the table. I gripped my injured skull, eyes watering at the splitting pain. With a loud curse, I kicked Nagato's shin again. We both scowled at each other, cradling our wounded body parts.

"Day-um," the silver-haired one muttered, eyebrows shooting up.

"You could've knocked her out with that hit, Nagato," the blue-haired girl commented, retaking her seat and sending me an uncertain look. I glared across the table at her, but rounded on Nagato no less.

"Yeah," I retorted. "That blow could've triggered a blood clot in my brain, sent me into a coma for a couple of days, and then killed me! And then you'd have to pay the hospital bill, and Okaa-san would murder you!"

"Oh, spare me!" he hissed, slapping at my head. "Your skull is far too thick for that to happen!"

"At least I've got a brain in my skull!"

"From where — the dollar store? !"

"Who was the one that misspelled 'cellular'? !"

"That was only one time!"

"'Cellular' doesn't have a 't' in it!"

"And 'psychological' only has one 'h', you little terror!"

"'Doesn't' only has one 's', stupid!"

"Hey, everyone misspells that sometime or another!"

"But does everyone misspell 'staple'? !"

"At least Mother didn't drop me when I was a baby!"

Mother dropped me?

"Well, it's a good thing she didn't drop you! Think about how stupid you'd be then!"

"Look at how stupid you are now!"

"I'm not—"

He cut me off.

"What's that? ! I can't HEAR YOU!"

"Enough!" Stupid blue-haired girl. She glared at us. "Both of you, just shut up!"

Nagato seemed to take her advice. I, on the other hand, settled for scowling at everyone and everything in sight.

"Geez, Nagato, yeah," Ino's doppelganger muttered, revealing that it was — in fact — a guy. "Why'd you have to bring your little sister, yeah?"

"Because Okaa-san told me to keep an eye on her," he grumbled, eyebrow twitching.

A few people that were staring at us squealed at my glare and bolted for the door. I sent a blank look at the blond.

"You know, you look a lot like one of my friends," I commented emotionlessly. He raised an eyebrow.

"Really, yeah?"

"Yep. She's a girl."

He slammed his face against the table. A few of the "Acatsky" guys laughed at him.

"Who?" Nagato asked offhandedly.


His eyebrows shot up, a snort escaping from his throat.

"Now that you mention it..."

We both snickered.

And just like that, the two of us were talking without death threats. Nagato and I had a really weird relationship — it was always either hot or cold; nothing in between.

"And I recognize you two, too," I added, looking at two of the guys.

One of them had long black hair tied into a low ponytail and dark eyes. Lines graced his face from the corners of his eyes to the middle of his cheeks, signaling that he didn't sleep well. His long eyelashes looked almost feminine. Heh. Ino would be jealous.

The other was taller, but he had the same emotionless look to his face. He had long spiky dark hair that covered one of his equally-black eyes. Both glanced at me quietly.

"I doubt that you've met them before," Nagato disagreed. I rolled my eyes.

"I didn't say that I'd met them before," I hissed back. "I said that I recognized them. As in, they look like someone I know."

"Is it another girl?" the taller one asked dryly.

A smirk pulled at my lips, and I failed to stifle it.

"Nope. A guy."

And suddenly Nagato was pinning me with a dark look.

"A guy?" he demanded. "What's his name and address?"

"No, aniki. You can't kill him."

A few of his friends snickered.

"I never took you for the 'overprotective' type," the blue-skinned one jibbed, grinning.

"That's an understatement," I mumbled.

"Is it that one called Matoki?" Nagato growled. "I'm gonna kill that little son of a bitch!"

"Aniki, I already shoved him out of a third-story window. What more do you want?"

The guys at the table all suddenly stopped laughing, staring at me in shock and horror.

"I won't be satisfied until his stupid little head is separated from his neck."

"Ne, I don't think I can persuade a policeman from arresting you again if you do that. It was hard enough after what you did last time."

"What'd he do last time, yeah?" the Ino-man-clone asked hesitantly. We both smirked.

"Attacked him with a shovel and attempted to throw him into rush hour traffic."

The younger orange-haired one clapped Nagato on the back.

"Nice, Nagato," he snickered. "And here I thought you didn't get violent."

Nagato shrugged.

"Sakura, here, is the real violent one," he disagreed lazily, patting the top of my head offhandedly.

I tilted away from the act. I'm not a dog, damn it!

"Yep," I agreed, stretching and cracking my neck. A couple people at the table in front of me flinched. "Nagato takes too much after Okaa-san."

He rolled his eyes teasingly.

"Oh, I take too much after Okaa-san?" he joked, ruffling my hair. I scowled and leaned away. "You're the one with pink hair and green eyes. You're practically a clone of her."

"But Okaa-san doesn't get violent," I disagreed, slapping his hand away. He sighed.

"True," Nagato murmured, crossing his hands over his chest and leaning back in his seat. "She'd have a heart attack if she knew how much trouble you cause at school."

I looked away innocently, whistling loudly to myself. He rolled his eyes again and tapped my forehead. I glared, swatting at his hand.

"Oi. Paws away from the forehead."

Nagato smirked.

"And you have Okaa-san's over-sized forehead."

He flickered the aforementioned temple and I scowled, rubbing it with the back of my hand.

"Keep it up, and I'll give you an over-sized forehead," I threatened.

"And you're just as short."

"Not all of us can be freakishly-tall," I muttered, aiming another kick at his already-injured shin. He scooted his leg away, frowning at me.

"Why must you be so violent?"

I snorted in a very unladylike manner, resulting in his frown deepening.

"This coming from the guy who tried to kill a sixteen-year-old boy with a shovel and traffic?"

"He deserved it."

"Damn straight, he did."

Nagato's eyes narrowed.


"Oh, bite me, aniki."

A few of his friends laughed.

"Your imouto's a little spitfire, eh?" the blue-skinned one remarked in amusement. I nodded firmly, crossing my hands over my chest.

"If only you knew," Nagato muttered.

"So, your name's Sakura, right, yeah?" Ino's impersonator asked.

"Nah. That's just my code name. My real name is Bond. James Bond."

He laughed.

"I'm Deidara, yeah," the blond replied, grinning at me.

I turned and reached across the table to knock fists with him. The guy beside him — Mr. Blue — hit his fist against mine as well.

"The name's Kisame," he said.

"Hidan," the silver-haired one added, smacking his fist with mine violently. I grinned, returning the act with just as much force. He laughed.

"I'm Reiame Yahiko," the younger orange-haired one beside Nagato said, smiling widely at me. "I'm Nagato's best friend. And that" — he pointed across the table at his counterpart — "is my older brother, Pein."

I nodded to them both.

"She's Konan," Yahiko continued, motioning to the blue-haired girl on his other side.

She gave a quiet, "Hello."

The spiky-black-haired guy beside Pein spoke next.

"I am Madara," he murmured. He swept a hand to the other black-haired guy beside him. "This is my cousin, Itachi." Itachi and I nodded to each other, and I couldn't help the feeling that I recognized his name.

"I am Kakuzu," another black-haired guy beside Hidan said quietly. His eyes looked kind of funny and he was covered in stitches, but I didn't mention it to him.

"Sasori," the red-head murmured. I nodded.

"And I am Zetsu," the last one said politely.

Wow. I mean, just...wow. It is possible to look that strange? Yeah, I know I'm being a bit mean, so sue me. But, seriously...

The guy was split down the middle, one half tragically sun-burnt and the other half almost unnaturally pale. He had messy green and the weirdest bright yellow eyes I had ever seen. (I felt a little sorry for him — his last trip to the beach must have been hell, if that burn was anything to go by.)

Nevertheless, I grinned and nodded at him.

"What's your last name?" I asked, glancing at Madara. It didn't escape my mind that Yahiko had been the only one to state his last name.

He raised an eyebrow, but answered anyway.


And just like that, it snapped together in my head.

"That's it!" I exclaimed, making a few people at other tables jump.

"Do you think you could keep it down?" one man grumbled.

I scowled over my shoulder at him.

"Come over here and say that to my face, fool!" I snapped back. "I'll floor your sorry ass!"

He paled and quickly went back to eating.

Nagato gave me a very unimpressed look, and I rolled my eyes back.

Okay, okay — so maybe I was a little addicted to "The A-Team." And maybe B.A. was my favorite character.

So what?

Madara's eyebrow twitched.

"What's 'it'?"

"You're related to Sasuke, ne?" I asked.

Itachi and Madara seemed surprised. In fact, they all seemed a little surprised.

"You know Sasuke?" Nagato asked.

"Of course," I replied. "Who doesn't know the biggest asshole at Konoha High?"

Kisame barked a laughed.

"Nicely said, kitten," he snickered.

"Oi, what's up with the whole 'kitten' business?" I demanded, glaring.

"Your brother calls you a hellcat," he said simply. "I say you're more like a kitten."

A vein popped on my forehead, but I didn't reply. Jerk.

"A 'kitten'?" Nagato deadpanned. "Honestly? You all have no idea what she's like at home. I have to put up with her tantrums and screams all night, and then her grumpiness in the mornings."

A few of his friends found that amusing. I, however, didn't.

"I wouldn't be grumpy in the mornings if you didn't drag me out of bed by my feet at four a.m.!" I retorted.

"Well, I wouldn't have to do that if you could stop damaging your alarm clocks!" he shot back.

His friends now found this incredibly amusing. And I still didn't.

"Hey, those things are annoying as hell!" I objected.

"You still didn't have to go to extreme measures to get rid of the last one!" he argued.

"'Extreme measures'?" Yahiko cut in, a wide grin on his face.

We both looked at him, eyebrows twitching.

"Oh, please continue," he urged. "I don't like my alarm clock, either, but I haven't been able to get rid of it."

"The last alarm clock she had was during last year," Nagato explained dryly. "She got so fed up with it, she tore a hole in the wall from the plug-in when she threw it across her room. And then, for some ungodly reason, she decided to throw it down the toilet and flush repeatedly until the water system blew out of our house."

Half of the "Acatsky" found it utterly hilarious, while the others found it horrifying.

"We didn't have running water for over a month."

I scowled at the floor.

"The time before that, she threw her alarm clock out the window. The time before that, she threw her alarm clock out the window, but the window was still closed. The time before that, she stabbed her alarm clock with a pair of scissors. The time before that, she—"

"Alright, I think they get it!" I snapped.

He sent me a smug look, obviously thinking he'd won our argument. I'd get him back later, and he'd regret that stupid little smirk of his. He'd see.

"Great Kami," Konan mumbled. "It isn't natural for a girl your age to be in so much trouble!"

I sent her a blank look, my chin just barely reaching the table from my sitting position on the floor.

But before I could say anything, a waiter showed up. About time.

"Hello," he said with an apologetic smile. "I'm sorry about the wait; as you can see, we're a bit crowed today." He looked around our table, pulling out a small notepad. "My name is Hikaru. What would you like to—" He went silent when he saw me.

He stared. And stared. And stared.

Nagato sent him a glare.

"Er, wouldn't it be more comfortable in a chair?" he suggested weakly.

"Tell that to my parole officer," I said sarcastically.

He stared again.

"Your...parole officer?"

"Yes. Didn't you hear about it? I killed two guys, cut 'em up into pieces, and buried them behind Konoha High School. It was all over the news."

He paled.

"Er, r-right. Um...wh-what would you all like to drink?"

I smirked. Idiot.

A few of the Acatsky snorted in amusement.

"Coke, please," I called, leaning my head back against the table and examining the fingerless gloves on my hands nonchalantly. "And make it a bit thick. I like my high to be quick and long-lasting."

Hidan laughed while Nagato glared at me. The others seemed to be smirking or stifling snickers. The waiter looked like he was about to faint.

"O-of course..."

He continued around the table, going to my left — which would have been my right, had I been facing the table.

"Coke," Nagato echoed, still shooting me a sharp look.

"Do you have root beer?" Yahiko asked.

The waiter nodded, casting me a slightly worried glance.

"Then, root beer!"

"I'll have a Sprite," Konan murmured.

"Water," Madara said quietly, his voice deep.

"Coke," Pein agreed, also quiet.

"Dr. Pepper," Itachi grunted.

"You got Red Flash?" Kisame inquired.

The waiter shook his head. "Sorry. No."

"Ah, well. What about Frisco?"

"Sorry, what?"

"...how about Coke with Lemon?"

"Yes. We've got that."

"Then give me that."

"Coke, yeah," Deidara said with a grin.

"Coke," Hidan echoed, shooting me a smirk.

"Diet Coke," Kakuzu said smoothly.

"Water," Zetsu mumbled.

The waiter finally looked at Sasori, who sat on my right — or left, if I had been facing the table.


The waiter nodded and scribbled it down, making a beeline for the kitchen. I laughed as he flew away.

"Sakura, this is not amusing," Nagato scolded. I rolled my eyes.

"You're such a tight ass, aniki," I grumbled.

He glared.

"Girls your age shouldn't cuss like that."

"Spare me, aniki. Your material is like a broken record."

Yahiko coughed loudly — and pretty badly — to hide a laugh.

"If you don't put an end to your outrageous cursing, I'll tell Okaa-san," Nagato threatened.

"She won't do anything," I shot back. "She's too nice and quiet to get angry. She didn't even get mad when I broke that bitch Karin's nose."

"Watch your mouth," he warned.

It didn't escape my notice that he failed to prove my statement wrong. I scoffed.

"Can we please just get a move on, already?" I complained. "My life is wasting away, and I seriously think that I could die of boredom. That is, if the sight of your face doesn't kill me first."

He glared.

"You are being very rude to your senpai, so do us all a favor and put a cork in it."

"Oh, stuff it. Your comebacks are cheap and uncreative."

"Oh? And yours aren't?"

"Hey, at least I don't get off on calling someone a 'twerp'. Seriously, what are you? A third grader?"

"And you call me a turkey. That sounds about first grade to me."

"Oh, really?" I flashed back. "Then how about man-whore?"

"Man-whore? ! Your language is truly atrocious!"

"Suck it, aniki! And yeah! I called you a man-whore! Why do you think Okaa-san named you 'Nagato'? ! Nagaho!"

Yahiko wasn't able to stifle his laughter this time, and soon half of them were snickering. I didn't even notice the waiter setting down our drinks as Nagato and I continued to yell at each other.

"H-have you all decided what you want to order?" the waiter — Hikaru — asked nervously.

Order? As in, eat?

"Oi, faggot. Hand me a menu."

Nagato glared disapprovingly at me, but shoved a red-colored menu in my face nonetheless.

"I can come back if you're not ready—"

"The hell you will!" I interrupted. "I'm not staying here longer than I have to, so shut up and stand there! I'll be done in a second!"

"Sakura," Nagato warned.

I ignored him.

"Give me the chicken lo mein with a side of white sticky rice," I ordered. "And there's no soy sauce on the table. Can you bring some?"

"O-of course!"

I tossed the menu over my head, not bothering to see if he caught it. I didn't pay attention as the others ordered, but I knew Nagato would get vegetable lo mein and fried rice. We had similar tastes, but they weren't exactly identical. The waiter took off at the first chance he got. I titled my head back, resting it on top on the table.

Ah-ha! My coke.

I grabbed my drink, snatching out the straw and tossing it on the table, and gulped half of it down in one breath. The one named Kisame snorted.

"Someone's not thirsty at all," he remarked sarcastically.

I briefly entertained the idea of flipping him a bird. I decided against it.

"You do what you gotta do," I replied lazily, setting the coke down a little harder than necessary.

"You are a freshman, correct?"

I glanced up — my head back flat against the table — and attempted to look at Pein upside down. I hadn't expected him to speak to me at all.

"What about it?" I countered.

"I had heard that some freshman pulled a prank on one of the ninth grade history teachers, Hatake Kakashi-san," he murmured. "No one seems to know who it was. Would you happen to know anything about that?"

I smirked.

"I might, seeing as I'm the one that did it."

"Sakura!" Nagato reprimanded.

I waved him off.

"It was pretty damn funny, if I do say so myself," I continued proudly. "Kaka-sensei never even saw it coming."

He, too, seemed to ignore my fuming aniki.

"Oh?" he inquired, eyebrow raising. "And what exactly was this prank?"

My smirk widened.

"You know how Kaka-sensei is always reading his trashy porn books?"

He gave a small nod.

"And you know how he always shows up late?"

Another small nod.

"One day while we were waiting for him to get to the class, an idea struck me: if we should have to wait half an hour for him to show up, he should get something in return. So, I made a plan. The next day, I snuck some supplies out of the house" — I could feel Nagato's glare on me — "and when I got there, I set it all up. Of course, he showed up halfway through the class, so I had plenty of time."

I grinned.

"Alright, so every day when he comes in, he makes up this half-assed excuse of where he was," I explained. "Then when we all call him a liar, he sits at his desk, pulls out his porno book from the top middle drawer, kicks his feet up on the desk, and reads for the rest of the class. He does that every single day, so he's pretty predictable."

My grin twisted maniacally.

"When he showed up, he gave us his lame-ass excuse and then sat at his desk. But when he opened his drawer — BAM!"

A few people at tables around us jumped at my sudden outburst.

"A whole shit-load of flour exploded from the drawer and smacked him right in the face."

Pein smirked, and most of the Acatsky were laughing.

"But that's not all."

His eyebrow raised, smirk widening slightly.

"Oh? Then by all means, do continue."

My own smirk returned. I was starting to like this guy.

"While he was still in shock over the flour, I yanked on the invisa-wire — I think that's what the theatre kids call it…yeah, I stole some from them; anyway — I pulled the wire in my hand, and a bucket I'd suspended over his chair tipped over and poured all over him."

Now, they were laughing even harder.

"What was in it, yeah?" Deidara choked out, snickering.

I gave a short laugh.

"Super glue and duck feathers."

Hidan lost it.

He, Kisame, and Yahiko sounded like they were going to laugh themselves to death. I was only half-surprised that one of them didn't fall out of their seats. The stares directed on us were growing by the second, but I paid them no heed. I was too busy laughing, myself.

Nagato, on the other hand, was furious.

"Sakura!" he scolded. "Do you have any idea how much trouble you could get into? !"

I snorted in rather inelegantly, drawing a scowl to his face.

"Oh, please, aniki," I muttered, waving it off casually. "I cause trouble all the time, but I never get caught."

"Seriously? !" Hidan asked in surprise. "I pull shit every frigg'n day, but I always get caught! Fuck'n teachers. I swear, they're out to get me."

Out to get him? I wonder why. (Not.)

I sent him an innocent look.

"Me?" I said in the cutest-sounding voice I could scratch together, pointing to myself. "Why, whatever did I do? Surely you don't think I did this..."

He grunted, coughing a laugh.

"Of-fuck'n-course," he said dryly. "Girls can get out of anything."

"Meh," I murmured, shrugging lazily. I jabbed a thumb to my left — my right, if I had been facing the table — at Nagato. "All except with him. If I try the innocent act, he 'accidentally' trips me on my way downstairs."

"The last time was an accident," he remarked.

"Seriously?" I deadpanned. "How the hell did you manage to bust your ass like that on accident?"

He glared, but — I noticed — neglected to reprimand me for my choice of words.

"If your stupid cat wasn't always lying in the middle of the floor, that wouldn't have happened," he retorted.

"Hey!" I objected. "Haran is not stupid! In fact, she could probably score higher than you on an IQ test!"

"She's just a cat!" he shot back. "I don't understand why Okaa-san won't get rid of her! All she does is eat, sleep, shit, and attack me!"

"And with good reason!" I snapped. "You stepped on her tail when she was two weeks old, and then you kicked her for 'being in the way'! You're lucky I didn't kill you for treating her like that!"

"That cat never liked me, even before I stepped on her tail!" Nagato disagreed. "And that was an accident! Like I said, if she didn't flop down in the middle of the floor, she wouldn't get stepped on!"

"Animal abuse!" I yelled at him. "You can't treat animals like that!"

"It's hardly animal abuse when she claws at me every chance she gets!" he hissed. "It's more like human abuse!"

"Aniki, you've always hated my pets!" I growled.

"And I wonder why? ! You've had two demon cats, a hellhound, and a rabid snake!"

"Kishi-kun was not rabid!"

"He bit me!"

"Because you dropped him on a letter opener!"

"No, I dropped him because he bit me! And then he bit me again!"

"He bit you the first time because you poked his eye! And the second time is already justified!"

"He was rabid, I tell you! He was foaming at the mouth!"

"Snakes don't foam at the mouth! And where the hell would he catch rabies? ! From you? !"

"He could've gotten outside!"

"If he had gotten outside, he would've hauled ass away from us! Not have come back!"

"You don't know that!"

"With you in the house? ! Hell yeah he would've!"

"Well, what about your hell-dog? ! He nearly took my arm off!"

"I've told you a thousand times! You never take a dog's food bowl while he's eating! Especially not a husky's food bowl! They're distant relatives to wolves, even more so than other breeds!"

"He'd already had enough to eat that day! I was making sure he wouldn't kill himself by eating too much!"

"Dogs always eat a lot! They need it, because they burn it all off with their never-ending energy!"

"He was still eating too much!"

"Why are you so stupid? !"

"Look who's talking!"

"I am — and it's you!"

"Imouto, shut up! You're testing my last nerves!"

"Since when did you have nerves? !"

"Since when did you have a brain? !"

"Longer than you! That's for sure!"

"I was born before you, idiot!"

"Really? I never would have guessed!"

"Don't get smart with me!"

"Smart? Oh, that's right. I forgot. I can't use BIG WORDS WITH YOU!"

"You little–!"

And just like that, we were at each other's throats again. I had expected it, of course. This was what happened every single day at our house, but today we seemed to hate each other even more — if that was even possible. It was probably because Okaa-san wasn't present to unintentionally break up our fights. We neither one had the heart to fight in front of Okaa-san. It would crush her.

And — yet again, unsurprisingly — Konan pulled us apart and stepped between us.

"You two need to settle this now," she ordered, glaring at us. "You're acting like a couple of children, and honestly? It's embarrassing to be seen in public with the both of you."

Ouch. Talk about a mood-killer.

I almost winced at her words and tone. Almost. She sounded so much like all the mothers I had always seen. The ones who got onto their children for being bad. The ones who drilled manners and respect into their kids. The ones who led respectable lives and relied on their husbands to spank their kids later at home when they were bad.

The one I didn't have.

It struck way too close to home, and I didn't like it at all. My Okaa-san was everything I wanted, and needed. She was perfect in every way — in my eyes, at least — and I didn't want to change a thing about her. But it always made me sad to see other kids' moms. All of my friends had mothers and fathers, and all of them had been taught right from wrong when they were little.

My mother never did that. After our father died, she broke on the inside. She was still the same sweet, loving mother I had always known. She never yelled at us or scolded us or even told us what we did was wrong. She was never like that. She didn't say she was disappointed, and she didn't frown at us. She just worried.

Whenever we got in trouble, she'd comfort us and say that she was glad we weren't hurt or given a worse punishment. She never glared; she always smiled.

But now, those smiles were always sad. It hurt to see her so sad, and knowing that there was nothing I could do to help. Knowing that I was the reason she was so sad. It burned me on the inside, and I took it out as anger and sarcasm on the people I hated.

But it was still my fault. I'd been in the car when my father and I had the crash that killed him. I'd distracted him from the road by childishly calling for him to look at a butterfly I'd thought was pretty.

Those few seconds had been all that was needed.

He was gone.

And now, as I glared at Konan with my same angry expression, I was hurting on the inside. Even as I retorted that things would never be settled so long as Nagato and I stood within a thousand feet of each other, I wanted to curl into Okaa-san's side and have her hold me like she did when I had nightmares of Otou-san.

"You know what?" I finally said, focusing solely on my anger. "This is bullshit. I'm out of here."

"The hell you are," Nagato snapped, grabbing my arm. "Imouto, sit down, and keep your mouth closed."

I glared fiercely at him, not the way I usually did. I think it startled him for a second, because his eyes seemed to flash with surprise. I shocked myself, too.


His single word left no room for argument, indicating that there would be no more talking on my behalf. I couldn't have been more pleased. And even though I had announced my departure only seconds earlier, I slid down onto the floor and glared black flames of hatred into the fake tile. He merely grunted and retook his seat, running a hand through his hair. Konan glanced between us once more before sitting back down, as well. A long, awkward silence stretched across the table.

The silence was unbearable — for me, at least. I wasn't sure about the others. I didn't bother to look at them to see, though. I didn't care. The quiet surrounding our table continued on, drawing curious looks from other tables, but I continued to ignore them. Besides, when would I ever see any of these people again? Chances were, never.

I wasn't sure how long we sat in silence, but it must have been a long while, because the next thing I knew, our food was being sat down on the table. I grabbed my plate and rice bowl as soon as it was delivered, pouring soy sauce on my white sticky rice and mixing it in. We all murmured the customary "Itadakimasu" and dug in. It was completely quiet as we ate.

In fact, it was still quiet when I finished eating.

I discarded my plate and bowl on the table behind me, downing the last of my coke and placing the glass — void of everything, save for some ice and a little liquid at the bottom I couldn't reach without said ice slamming into my nose — on my empty plate. I waited for what felt like hours, not even sparing the waiter a glance when he took my dishes and empty glass away and sat down a new coke. After a while, I took a long drink from it, only stopping when my nose began to fizz.

I faintly heard conversation pick up around me, and it took a moment for me to realize that the Acatsky were the ones talking. I was completely out of it, my mind in its own little world. That car ride kept replaying itself over and over until I felt a shocking tingle in the corners of my eyes.

Surely — surely — I wasn't about to cry!

I discovered, to my extreme horror, that I was. No tears were visible, and my eyes weren't even red, but I was beginning to feel the first stages of a bawl-fest. There was no way in hell I was going to let myself do that.

And then, suddenly, something cold and hard slammed into my forehead with the force of a dump truck. I staggered back and landed flat on my back, stars shooting across my field of vision.

What the hell?

I hadn't even noticed that we'd gotten up and left the restaurant. When had that happened? We had apparently been walking down the sidewalk for a good ten minutes, because our surroundings were nowhere near Akikyo's. My forehead pounded heavily, and I felt like my head was going to explode.

My God, what hit me?

"–kura? !"

I blinked slowly, willing the fogginess to leave my eyes. I distantly recognized my aniki's voice. A shadow crouched over me — no...Nagato crouched over me, quickly brushing the hair from my face. Even in my dumbstruck position, I could see the worry and concern in his ringed gray eyes. Pein and Yahiko were with him, all bent over me and looking at me anxiously — well, I don't know about Pein; with him, I couldn't tell, but it was close enough.

"Sakura? !" Nagato repeated, his warm hand pressing against my forehead.

I flinched, groaning and rolling onto my side.

"Stop it," I moaned. "Kami, what just happened?"

He pulled me gently into a sitting position, supporting me against his chest. I put a hand to my forehead, wincing slightly, and squeezed my eyes shut at the pain. It felt like someone had come at me with a baseball bat, or even a crowbar.

"You scared me to death, imouto-chan," he murmured, giving me a small hug. "Taken down by a light pole. How will I ever explain this one to Okaa-san?"

My eyes flew open, and I went completely still. I blinked. My head lifted slowly, and I stared blankly at a black unlit light pole in the middle of the sidewalk.

"...a light pole?" I echoed stupidly.

Nagato choked out a disbelieving laugh.

"Yes, imouto-chan," he answered. "Didn't you see it?" He didn't wait for a reply. "No, I suppose you didn't. You walked into it head-on without even the slightest bit of hesitation." He shook his head in exasperation, his chin brushing the top of my head from his position of hugging me from behind. "If you keep on like this, you really will kill yourself with a blood clot in your brain, however small it may be."

I tried to scowled, but my face screwed up in pain. God, it hurt.

"Shut up," I muttered, clutching my agonizing injury. "Damn it, this is killing me."

"Like I said."

"Shut up."

I noted faintly that he still didn't scold me over my language. I stored that in the back of my — painful, throbbing — mind to save for later.

"When did we leave?" I blurted out before I could stop myself, my eyes already squeezed shut again.

"...come again?" Nagato asked blankly.

"When did we leave?" I repeated. "Akikyo's. When did we leave?"

Puzzled, he lifted his left arm from his hug around me and glanced at the watch on his wrist.

"It was about 1:38," he said. "Why?"

I wanted to glare at him, but my head hurt too much. Hell, thinking hurt too much.

"That's not what I asked," I growled.

"But you said—"

"Yeah, I know what I said!" I snapped, cutting him off. "And I said, when did we leave Akikyo's? I don't remember getting up or anything!"

They all gave me strange looks. Or, at least, I felt them give me strange looks.

"What — you sleepwalked all the way here?" Kisame questioned incredulously.

"If I don't have any conscious memories of doing that, then I'd say that I was unconscious during that time."

He didn't seem to enjoy my sarcasm. But then again, no one ever seemed to, unless it was directed at someone they despised.

The pain didn't go away.

"Ah!" I grunted. "Muther fuck! That hurt like a bitch!"

Nagato sighed, pulling me around to face him — even if my eyes were still closed.

"Let me feel," he soothed, touching his hand to my forehead. When I flinched, he lightened his touch. "Ah," he murmured. "I can feel a pretty nasty bump. Great Kami, imouto-chan. You sure clocked yourself a new one."

I scowled at his teasing.

"You should probably go see a doctor to make sure you don't go into shock," he continued. "That was a pretty ugly hit. It nearly took your head off."

I still didn't appreciate his commentary.

"I'm not going to a hospital," I objected, shoving him off and standing on my own. When my legs wobbled, I felt a firm hand grab my left shoulder to steady me. I continued to grip my forehead with my right hand, eyes still closed. It lessened the pain a bit when I couldn't see everything around me spinning. "Forget it," I muttered. "I just walked into a light pole; it's not like I broke my neck or anything."

"You almost did," Nagato remarked dryly.

For some reason I couldn't place, something seemed a bit off to me. My mind hurt just trying to think about it, but it eventually hit me — no pun intended:

Nagato was on my right, judging by the sound of his voice, and the hand steadying me was on my left. It took me a moment to realize why this was even strange in the first place.



Nagato can't be in two places at once.

So that meant that the person keeping me upright wasn't Nagato. And that left me to wonder who that was.

So, I decided to find out.

I lifted my left hand without warning and smacked it down — figuratively speaking — onto the hand on my shoulder.

"...who's hand is this?"


I think my face paled.

"...oh...hello, Pein. Fancy meeting you here."

I could hear the smirk in his grunt. My hand dropped immediately, and my eyes flew open. I stepped away in a poor attempt to conceal my discomfort at being around people I didn't know, thankfully bumping into Nagato again. I turned on him instantly, eyes wide and completely blank.

"Since I'm injured, does this mean I can go home?"

He sent me an exasperated look.

"You don't miss a beat," he mumbled. "And, no. I told you, I'm not letting you stay home alone."

"What if—"


"Or if I—"


"But what if—"

"Not gonna happen, Sakura. Just deal with it."

I sighed, seeing that I was going to get nowhere with him. Geez. Even when I knock my brains out, he still doesn't go easy on me.

With that thought, I almost smiled. Every other kid may have a mother that teaches them right from wrong and gets onto them for being bad, but I have my aniki. He does all that and helps me with all my problems. The perfect mother and the perfect — annoying — older brother. Who could want more?

But then, my moment of peace was shattered. Of course.


I swear, I think I died and went to hell.

"Sakura, do you know this person?" Nagato demanded, glaring and pointing at a certain spiky-haired blond that was racing towards me at speeds that defied all laws of science.

"Oh, Kami; it's Naruto," I groaned.

My groan must have tipped him off, because Naruto looked at my forehead — that I was still rubbing tenderly — in wide-eyed alarm.

"OH MY GOD, SAKURA-CHAN!" he screamed, skidding to a halt and grabbing me by the shoulders. "ARE YOU HURT? ! WHAT HAPPENED? !"

My right ear had to have been bleeding.

"Dobe, get back here!" a voice snapped.

Damn. I recognized that one, too.

I didn't get a chance to look around the screeching blond idiot currently latched to me, however, but he snapped his head around to scowl at the person coming up behind him.

"SHUT UP, TEME!" he yelled.

My ear was now officially throbbing.

None-other-then Mr. Asshole himself, Uchiha Sasuke, appeared at his side. He grunted, stuffing his hands in his pockets in a 'trying-to-act-cool-when-really-this-guy-is-pissing-me-off' way.

"Hn," he muttered. "Dobe, let's go. We don't have all day."

I glared at him, right hand still on my forehead. How dare he ignore me? !

"Uchiha," I growled.

His eyes narrowed as he looked at me.

"Haruno," he acknowledged.

"Uzumaki!" Naruto exclaimed, grinning widely.

I would've slapped my forehead at his idiocy if it hadn't been killing me. I settled for sending him a 'Kami-you're-stupid' look instead. Sasuke rolled his eyes.



"Uzumaki!" another voice hissed.

Oh, what do ya know? I knew that voice, too.

Hyuga Neji was the next person to show up. He crossed his arms, giving Naruto a sharp glare from the blond's right.

"Eh?" said blond mumbled. "What?"

"We don't have time to run around everywhere," Neji reprimanded. "We need to pick up a package for my uncle before two, and it is already after 1:30. If we do not return in time, Hinata and myself will be scolded." His eyes narrowed, flashing dangerously. "And if it comes to that, I will explain how it was all your fault."

Naruto paled, gulping.

"Er, r-right," he stammered, failing epically to appear calm. "M-maybe we should get going..."

This time, I was the one to roll my eyes. It couldn't have been more obvious if someone bashed me in the face with a frying pan and screamed it to the world. Naruto was deathly terrified of Neji's uncle — A.K.A., his girlfriend's father.

I took his moment of cowering weakness to pry his hands from my shoulders.

"You know, Naruto," I said sickeningly-sweet, "I would just love to stand here all day and scream at each other about how nice the weather is, but I really need to get going." It was painful to plaster such a scarily-bright smile to my face. "As in, now. Is that alright?"

Naruto was stark white and shaking.

"O-o-of course!" he stuttered, laughing hysterically to poorly conceal his panic. "L-let's go, t-teme!"

His hands flew off me like I was on fire. Instead, he latched onto Sasuke and pulled with all his might, desperately trying to escape. Neji sighed quietly, and Sasuke glared at Naruto.

"Oi," he growled. "Dobe, quit pulling on me! I'm coming."

Neji sent a fleeting glance my way.

"Good day, Haruno-san," he murmured. "I trust you're well?"

"Hyuga." I nodded back. "I've been better. You?"

"The same," he agreed. His eyes flickered to the Acatsky people — whom I presumed were still standing behind me, judging by the direction of his gaze. "I see that you are busy at the moment." He nodded to me. "I'll leave you to your business."

That's what I liked about Neji. He was nice enough, could hold an intellectual conversation, and he never stuck around long enough for it to become awkward.

As he began to turn away, starting to follow after Naruto — whom had already fled without Sasuke — he stopped, glancing back at me.

"If you see Tenten..."

"I'll tell you," I finished for him.

Tenten was his almost-girlfriend. The two of them were obviously close, but they were both too blind to realize that the other liked them. It was kind of like one of those cheesy soap operas. Currently, Tenten was in China visiting her grandmother. Tenten, herself, was Chinese born, but she was brought to Japan at about two months old. She was supposed to be coming back any day now, and Neji didn't have enough time to look for her, what with everything his uncle was making him do. So, I volunteered. I mean, what else was I supposed to do?

It was too bad he already had a thing for Tenten. He would've been perfect...


Neji nodded in relief and walked away after his cousin's boyfriend, undoubtedly about to scold said boy. I faintly wondered if Hinata was with them. I didn't get the chance to ponder that thought, however, as I felt Sasuke's gaze on me.

He was staring.

"What?" I snapped irritably.

I didn't like him, and he didn't like me. It was a mutual hate-hate situation. He sent me his infamous — and ineffective — Uchiha death glare. Instead of growling back, he shot a gibe at me.

"Be careful about hitting your forehead," he mocked. "You don't want it to grow on you."

I glared back.

"Be careful about thinking up any comebacks," I hissed back. "You don't want your head to implode."

We both glared at each other. Neither of us blinked. Finally, Sasuke grunted.

"Hn. Annoying."

He turned away and closed his eyes in a 'failing-miserably-to-act-cool' way and walked off. I scowled after him until he reached the corner to follow his companions. I didn't have the slightest clue why he was with them in the first place, but knowing Naruto, the idiot had done something to drag him along. But before Sasuke could disappear and continue on with his stupid little life, I had to get in the last word.

"Chicken-ass!" I called after him.

He twitched, stopping in the middle of the sidewalk and scowling over his shoulder at me.

"Low-life," he ground out.

He began to turn, obviously thinking he had won. Oh, how wrong he was.

"Ice bitch!" I threw back.

He whipped around, his eye acquiring a sudden tick. I nearly smirked.

"Cheap prostitute," he snapped.

I jerked back in shock, my mind going blank of any comebacks. He swiveled on the heel of his foot and stalked off. It wasn't until he was halfway around the corner that my brain processed his insult.

A vein popped on my forehead and red stained my face — but whether it was a blush or anger, I didn't know.

"What the fuck did you call me? !" I yelled after him.

He flipped me a bird, not even looking at me as he rounded the corner and disappeared. That asshole!

"Hey!" I shouted. "Get back here, you bastard!"

But, of course, he was already gone.

"That son of a bitch!" I ground out between clenched teeth, balling my hands into fists. "I'll rip his stupid little face off when I get my hands on him!"

"Sakura, just how are you acquainted with Sasuke?" Nagato demanded. There he went again into over-protective-older-brother mode.

I only half heard him, though. I cried out in fury, punching the light pole I ran into earlier with all my might. I didn't even notice when my knuckles split and began oozing blood. I screamed all the curses I could come up with, swearing up and down that I'd beat him to death with a very long and very large stick after I pulled it out of his ass.

I could hear Nagato growling at me to shut my mouth, but I didn't pay him any attention. Inuzuka Kiba took that moment to stroll on by.

"Hey, Sakura!" he called, waving eagerly from across the street. He dodged cars left and right until he made it to my side of the sidewalk. "You wouldn't have seen Hinata, Naruto, Neji, and Sa—"

He cut off, looking at me fully with raised eyebrows.

"Whoa," he commented. "Who pissed you off?"

I glared death at the corner where HE disappeared.

"Fucking Sasuke!" I spat.

Kiba laughed.

"What'd he call you this time?" he teased. "Pink Bitch? Midget-bitch? Lesbian? Or was it something new?"

I felt like flames were erupting from my eyes.

"He called me a cheap prostitute!"

Kiba blinked blankly — and then abruptly burst into laughter.

"He's still pissed that you beat him during our last Halo tournament, eh? You two are always going for the jugular, but somehow it's like you're almost friends—" I scowled at him. "Hey!" he exclaimed between laughs. "At least it's not as bad as last time!"

"'Last time'?" Nagato growled.

And suddenly, it was as if Kiba was seeing the Acatsky for the first time. His laugher immediately ended, and his eyes widened.

"Whoa," he murmured. His eyes flickered to me before shooting back to them. "Sakura, what're you doing with the Akatsuki?"

I stared stupidly at him.

Akatsuki? Did he mean the Acatsky people?

"What about them?" I asked blankly.

He shot me a disbelieving look.

"Dude, don't you know who these guys are?" he insisted.

"Honestly? Not at all."

Kiba looked at me as if I'd sprouted rabbit ears.

"Are you nuts? !" he choked out. "Haven't you heard about all the crap they pull? !"

I was pretty sure I looked like a complete retard at the moment, but bite me. I didn't have a clue what he was talking ab—

"Huh? !" I exclaimed suddenly, the thoughts clicking together in my head. "You mean that Akatsuki? ! Holy shit, I've been stuck here with them this entire time? !"

Kiba and I gaped at each other and then snuck poorly-hidden glances at the Akatsuki.

Damn, if I'd known this was the Akatsuki, I'd have changed my game plan!

"Uh, look, Sakura...I, uh...gottagobye!"

And then he was gone. Traitor.

I looked over my shoulder at the Akatsuki, doing a pretty shitty job of acting cool.

"Aniki, I'm sick," I offered blankly. "Take me home."

Nagato sent me an 'are-you-really-trying-to-pull-that' look.

"You're not sick," he muttered.

"Yes I am. I'm deathly ill."

"Oh? Then what do you have?"

"...the black death."

"Stop bull-shitting around," he reprimanded.

"No, really. I'm gonna die if I don't get home."

"And why do you need to get home?"

"...because I have the cure at home."

"Why not go to a hospital?" he challenged. "And why would you have the cure at home?"

"Because I'm sick with it."

"Then, like I said, why not go to a hospital?"

"...because other people might catch it."

"There are these people at hospitals called doctors. Ever heard of them?"

"Doctors can get sick, too."

"But they can treat themselves."

"Not if they're deathly ill."

"Then why can you treat yourself when you're deathly ill, but they can't?"

"Because they don't have the cure."

Nagato glared, looking fed up.

"Alright, cut the crap, imouto. Why the sudden need to get home?"

"I cracked my skull."

"Then go to the hospital."

"I sprained my ankle."

"Then go to the hospital."

"I suffered trauma."

"Then go to a psychiatrist."

"...I feel the distinct need to murder someone, and if I don't get home soon, I might just carry it out."


His friends were laughing, now. Maybe I could make a career in the comedian business.

"You only started acting like this when you found out we were the Akatsuki," Nagato said firmly. "So what's gotten into you? You didn't act funny around these guys before."

"Hey, where's Konan?"

Nagato sent me an exasperated look, but whether it was because I changed the subject or because of my question, I didn't know.

"She left just before we walked out of Akikyo's," he muttered. "Weren't you paying any attention?"

"Oh, hey. Would you look at the time? It's almost two; we should get home, aniki!"

"Nice try, Sakura, but it isn't going to work."



Nagato's eyebrow twitched as he glared at me. His friends laughed even harder.

"Still not working," he hissed.

Crap. I thought I had him with that one.

"...uh, there's Matoki?"

"Nani? !"

Nagato instinctively glared in all directions. I took that chance to flee. Sucker.


I heard his scream, but I didn't look back. If I did, I'd probably knock my head off on a stop sign and get a concussion. And that was something I seriously didn't need at the moment. My head was still throbbing from my epic battle with the light pole.

I dodged people left and right, not bothering to apologize when I shoved through some of them. I didn't know these people, and it's not like they could sue me. I could hear multiple sets of feet running after me, so I figured most of the Akatsuki was on my tail. Why did they all have to be so tall? Konan was the shortest one, and she still had about two-thirds of a foot on me.

I rounded a corner and nearly crashed into a couple guys. No, wait; scratch that. I nearly crashed into a whole parade.

I cursed. I had forgotten that Konoha High — the only high school in Konoha, ironically — had played Kiri High last night. Kiri High's football team was the best in practically all of Japan. (Kiri High was a school for athletics, after all.) Konoha High had beaten Kiri High 24-21 by scoring a field goal just as the fourth quarter ended, saving them from going into overtime. It was the first time in three years that Kiri High didn't go undefeated, so to celebrate, the Konoha High football team and band were parading down the street.

But wait.

Now that I thought about it, maybe the parade wasn't such a bad thing. If they couldn't find me in the mass of people, I wouldn't get caught. Until Nagato came home. But I'd deal with that when the time came. For now, I wanted freedom, and freedom I was getting.

I sped through the crowds of people that cheered on the sidewalk, stepping on feet and slamming into shoulders. A lot of them growled at me, but I snapped back at them. As if I was going to let them talk to me like that. I've got a reputation to uphold.

After only a few seconds, I lost sound of my pursuers. I wasn't sure if they were still even chasing me. Hopefully, not.

But just in case, I kept running until I reached a small ice cream shop. I skidded to a halt, hunching over in exhaustion and bracing my hands on my knees. I was gasping for air, my lungs straining against my rib cage. I stood there for a good ten minutes huffing before the laughing started.

I laughed breathlessly, and I didn't have a clue why. There wasn't anything to laugh about. I figured it was the exhaustion. Either that or insanity, and I was pretty sure I could pull off the latter without too much effort.

I received a lot of strange looks from people around me as my laugher heightened in pitch to a hysterical-sounding cackle. Kami, I really was crazy. And I couldn't stop laughing.

Heartbeats later, I was slumped against the brick wall of the ice cream shop, hands wrapped around my middle as I laughed my brains out. I struggled to get a grip, but I just laughed harder. My eyes were starting to water, but it didn't affect me. I just kept laughing. I was pretty sure all the blood had rushed to my face.

And just like that, the breath was knocked out of me.

I stumbled — still laughing — and felt a strong hand latch onto my forearm. The person pulled me back against his side, grunting quietly.

I flung my head back to get a full look at his face, hysterical laughter increasing tenfold when I found myself face-to-face with Pein. He quirked an eyebrow at me, but I kept coughing up laughs, attempting to breathe at the same time.

"Why are you laughing?" he demanded.

I couldn't answer. Laughter really was infectious.

I collapsed against him, feeling the strength leave me. He caught me in surprise and studied me carefully, gently lowering me to a sitting position against the wall. Pein crouched down in front of me, staring me directly in the eye.

"Your aniki is most displeased that you ran," he stated bluntly. "Nagato even went so far as to have us look for you."

"W-why—" I choked out between gasps and laughs. "Why would you a-all...c-come look...ing f-for me—?"

"Because we need to take shelter," he replied calmly.

My laughter finally ended.

"What?" I breathed.

Pein's ringed gray eyes and slightly tanned face took my breath away (or what little breath I had left). God, he was attractive. Why, oh why, did my stupid teenage hormones have to kick in now?

"We must take shelter," he repeated. "You noticed earlier that it looked as if it were about to rain, no?"

I nodded, breathing heavily.

"A storm is coming."

"A storm? Like a tornado?"

I liked storms just as much as I liked rain. I didn't wait for his reply.

"Can I watch?"

He sent me an incredulous look.

"If a tornado is coming, and you sit outside to watch, do you not think that you will be sucked in?"

"Not if I stay far enough away from it."

He sighed quietly, shaking his head. I admired his deep orange hair.

"No matter," Pein murmured. "It's a lightning storm, not a tornado."

"Oooh. Can I watch that?"

I like lightning.

"No. You might get struck by the lightning."

"No I won't."

He shot me an amused smirk, and my breath caught in my throat. Damn, he was hot. Not just attractive; hot.

"I suppose you're right," he teased quietly. "You are much too short to be struck by lightning."

Normally, I would've curb-stomped someone's head if they called me short. But now? No. I couldn't curb-stomp Pein's head. He was much too pretty. (How could I ever stomp his head on the curb until it was a bloody smear? !)

I blurted out the first thing that came to mind.

"If all of the Akatsuki are looking for me, how come only you found me?"

He smirked wryly. Damn. He noticed I didn't yell at him for the height comment.

"Only Nagato, Yahiko, Deidara, and myself are truly searching for you," he replied. "The others decided to walk with Deidara rather than 'waste their time'."

I rolled my eyes. Typical.

"Come on," Pein murmured, taking my wrist and pulling me up to stand as a raindrop pattered on my forehead. "The rain is beginning to fall. Soon, the lightning will strike."

"How did you know there was a lightning storm coming?" I inquired, attempting to keep my cool when I bumped into his side. "I mean, how could you tell that it wasn't just a normal storm?"

"The weather was showing on a television; we saw it through a window at a small café."


But that was hardly any help — those screw-ups we called weathermen were, well…screw-ups. For all we knew, it really could be a tornado.

I was quiet as Pein led me in the direction I had run from.

Wait. Back up.

Why was I letting him take me back? I should be running! That was the whole reason I escaped in the first place!

But my Inner was objecting.

No! Don't leave!

But I'm supposed to be running away!

But Pein's here!

So? !

And he's hot!

So? !

Hello! I just gave you the reason!

No you didn't!

Yes I did! You can't abandon a hot, single, older guy!

What's that supposed to mean? ! And how do you know if he's single? !

Because if he's with someone, I'll kill her. Simple as that.

I felt like slapping myself in the face. Why did I have an Inner mind? Insanity. That's the only answer.

Thankfully, Pein didn't seem to notice my blanked out state.

But my stupid self had to go and dig me a bigger hole.

"Hey, why don't you call aniki to tell him you found me?"

I wanted to die. I was supposed to be trying to get away! Not helping my captor! Pein sent me an amused look, revealing that he had had the same thought.

"My phone is dead," he explained. "But why would that matter to you? I was under the impression that you were attempting to run away from him."

I flushed in embarrassment and looked away, glaring. I felt him chuckle lowly, and I suppressed the shiver running up my spine.

A moment later, Pein halted. I crashed into him, my momentum carrying me right into his side. With a nervous mumble, I scooted back. When I didn't receive a reply, I glanced around him.

And just at the right moment, too. No sooner than I peered around Pein, a large flash of lightning lit up the sky.


He glanced down at me.

"Let's go," he grunted, tightening his grip on my wrist. "There's no time to find Nagato. We'll meet up with him after the storm is over."

I managed to nod, staring in awe as lightning shot across the sky again. This time, it was followed by a loud clap of thunder. The rain pelted down harder, and I felt as though thousands of tiny needles were piercing my skin. (I loved rain and all, but this was a bit much.)

We took shelter in the closet building, which happened to be another ice cream shop. (It wasn't my favorite like the one I'd ran to earlier, but it was still decent.) Only five other people — three employees and two customers — were in the ice cream shop, all of them seated at or standing around tables close to the back.

Pein held the door open for me, his body shielding me mostly from the sharp rain. The bell on the glass door jangled loudly.

"Come back here, you two," an elderly woman — one of the customers — offered, patting a hard pink chair on her left.

Pein and I exchanged a look before taking up her suggestion. We made our way around tables until we reached them, nodding to the five people. Pein gave me the seat and dragged a chair from another table to sit on my right. (The table only sat three; the old woman was on my left, and a guy that appeared to be her husband was on Pein's right.)

The elderly couple smiled at us.

A brown-haired girl that looked to be about twenty sat on the cashier counter, a guy with red hair leaning against said counter on her right and another guy with silver-white hair that looked about twenty-four standing with his arms crossed on her left. All three wore white pants, pink shirts, green aprons, and green visors.

"Hey," the brunette said with a bouncy smile, her ponytail swishing. "I'm Kimiko! And this" — she shoved the red head playfully — "is my brother, Mutsuki." The guy glared at her. (They looked nothing alike!) She placed a hand on the silver-white-haired guy's shoulder. "And this is my boyfriend, Ishima."

He nodded to us.

"How do you do?" the elderly man greeted. "My name is Uryu, and this is my wife, Kaede."

Kaede smiled at us.

"Sakura," I replied. "And we're good. How are you?"

"Pein," my companion grunted.

"Oh, we're wonderful," Kaede replied warmly. "My, you two are young! And how pretty you are!"

I blushed in embarrassment, looking away. She laughed kindly.

"Young love is so sweet, don't you think, Uryu?"

I was no longer embarrassed. I was horrified.

"W-we're not—!" I choked out.

"Oh?" Kaede said in surprise, looking between us. "Then are you close friends?"

I sent an uncomfortable look at Pein, who returned my glance blankly.

"Er...not really," I mumbled. "I only know him through my brother. We got separated from our group."

"That's too bad," she sighed wistfully. "You two would make such a nice couple."

I hoped a black hole would open up beneath me and suck me in. Kami, I wished I could pass out right now.

The girl named Kimiko was laughing.

"I think so, too!" she added. Uryu nodded, smiling tiredly.

Before I could possibly die from embarrassment, the bell on the door rang out and a fierce wind nipped at us. Pein and I both turned around, seeing as we were the only two facing away from the door.

Never in my life was I so relieved to see my aniki.

"Imouto!" Nagato ground out.

"Oh!" I said with false sweetness. "There you are, aniki! You know, it's so easy to get lost in these crowds."

"Don't give me that," he warned. "You're lucky Pein found you and got you to shelter; you could've been struck by lightning and killed!"

I glared at him.

"You don't sound too worried that I might have been killed," I shot back. Some brother he was.

"That's because it's your own stupidness that gets you in trouble," he retorted. (Coming from the one that said, "stupidness?") "If you took the time to actually think things out, maybe you'd stay out of sticky situations."

"And since when has thinking things out ever helped you?" I deadpanned.

He glared, crossing his arms and standing right behind me. He spared a nod to Pein. I faintly heard Yahiko asking Pein how he had found me.

"You really are a little terror, you know that?" he muttered.

I scowled.

"And you really are an asstard."

And so, here we were, fighting yet again. But this time, Konan wasn't there to interfere.


During the entire five hours that we were stuck sheltering in the ice cream shop, Nagato and I got into about three or four dozen fights. It was to be expected, though. Two Haruno's couldn't be in the same room without yelling at one another. (Except my mother.)

I think it shocked the old couple. They were horrified when I called Nagato an asstard. Heh heh.

So now, five hours later, I was waking up. And why, you ask? Because I fell asleep at some point.

My eyes flickered open slowly, and I grunted, blinking. I heard snickering and I frowned, rubbing my eye with the back of my hand. What was so funny? Did someone put something on my face?

No. I didn't feel anything.

Except the firm warmth I was currently leaning on.


My eyes flew open all the way, and my horrors were confirmed.

I had fallen asleep.

On Pein.

Well. I certainly wanted to die.

"Did you have a nice little nap, imouto?" Nagato taunted.

I glared, heat rising to my face.

"Shut up, aniki," I snapped.

Deidara and Yahiko were the ones snickering, while Hidan and Kisame just smirked. And then, a sudden thought struck me.

What if Pein was awake?

I paled. I didn't want to find out.

But before I could be humiliated even further, I heard a familiar song. It was "Zetsubou Billy" by Maximum the Hormone.

My hand instinctively went to my pocket, but my cell phone wasn't there. I frowned and looked up, only to be met with the sight of Nagato dangling it in front of my face.

"Your phone has been ringing nonstop since you feel asleep," he informed me. "We didn't answer it, though. Who is it?"

I knew that ringtone anywhere. I answered almost instantly.


His eyebrow raised.

"The one that showed up after Sasuke left?" Nagato guessed.

"Yeah. Has it been the same ringtone over and over?"

"No," Yahiko answered for me. "About five different ones."

"What were they?" I asked, ignoring the small beep as my phone went to voice mail.

"'Shinkirou' by Loveholic," Kimiko threw in. "I was the only one that knew the song."

"That was Hinata."

"'Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni' by Eiko Shimamiya—"


"'Re:member' by Flow—"


"And 'Closer' by Inoue Joe."

"Either Kotetsu or Izumo."

"Nani? !"

Nagato glared at me.

"How do you know them?" he demanded.

Kotetsu and Izumo were seniors at Konoha High.

I rolled my eyes.

"We have Website Foundations together."

He didn't seem convinced. Of course, he never believed me. Even when I told the truth.

"We're going home."


I turned around — noting that Pein WAS, in fact, awake — to see that the storm was gone. Well. It only took FIVE HOURS.

I cracked my back as I stood up.

"I thought it was supposed to be a lightning storm," I muttered, yawning as Nagato stood as well.

"It was," he agreed. "But that was just a normal storm."

"Man, our weather people suck."

"I know."

(Last year, they said a tornado was coming, but it was a thunderstorm. Then, they told us a flood was coming, and it was a hailstorm. Then, they told us a regular storm was coming, but it was a tornado. They need to be fired.)

I was silent as we all left the small ice cream shop — I wanted ice cream! — and entered the bright sunlight. Runoff dripped from every roof, and the road was covered in about an inch of water.

Nagato grabbed my arm and walked off in the direction of our house. I protested, yelling that I could walk on my own. He rolled his eyes, but didn't lessen his grip.

"Hey," I said suddenly. "Why are the Akatsuki following us?"

"Because they're coming back to the house," Nagato snapped back.

I stared at him blankly for a moment before smirking.

"Hey, aniki," I gibed. "I thought Okaa-san said we couldn't have anyone over at the house."

He glared at me.

"But Okaa-san doesn't need to know that."

"Oh? Do you want me to lie to her?"

Where had I heard this conversation before?

"I want you to keep your mouth shut, or you'll regret it," he growled.

I snorted.


My phone rang again (Naruto), but I ignored it.

But then, it was as if the thought sunk in. The Akatsuki were coming to our house. To my house. I was done for.

"You know, aniki," I started weakly. "That isn't such a good idea."

"And why is that?" he demanded.

"Er...the house isn't clean?"

I winced at the horrible cover. He grunted.

"So? Since when is our house ever clean?"

He had a point.

The reason I didn't want the Akatsuki at our house was simple: I had pulled about a thousand pranks before and blamed it on them (that was when I didn't know who they were), and I had nearly a thousand more planned out and spread across my bed and kitchen table for the whole world to see. (That was why I attempted to escape when I discovered that they were the Akatsuki.) If Nagato found out I was the one blaming countless almost-crimes — and maybe some actual crimes — on them, he'd kill me. Literally.

"...your underwear is laying all over the floor?"

Deidara and Yahiko laughed loudly.

"No, it isn't," he hissed. "Unlike you, I keep my room organized."

Damn. He had another point.

In a matter of six minutes, my life was officially over. We had reached our house. Nagato held the door open for the Akatsuki to go in before us, and I couldn't help the way my eyes lingered on Pein.

I felt someone staring at me, and I looked up to see Nagato's smirk.

"Do you want his address and phone number?" he teased. "And in case you were wondering, he is single."

I blushed furiously, glaring.

"Shut up, aniki!"