I apologize in advance for Sai's OOC…he is a complicated character to write, however I appreciate the reviews beyond words.

"Come on pick up the pace, Naruto." Sakura shouted from a few feet ahead causing the blonde to pout. Beside her was Yamato-sensei whom was leading the team being that Kakashi had "personal matters" to attend to. Naruto quickly stated that the only "personal matters" he had to attend to was his porn literature.

"I still don't get why we received this C-ranked mission…weren't not in the academy anymore." Naruto folded his arms behind his head and glanced around the thick shrubbery about them.

"At least we can visit with the Kazekage." Yamato reminded allowing Naruto to quickly fixate his attention to Gaara.

"Yeah…I haven't seen that guy in ages. Hey, Sai! Why don't you, me, and Gaara take a quick tour around Suna? There's this place a few blocks from our motel that has the best ramen…not as good as Ichiraku's, but it's pretty damn close." Sai smiled falsely in confirmation and continued to let his thoughts wander. In truth he had been hesitant to accept this mission, but upon learning they would be traveling to Suna, Sai was willing to join his team.

He and Gaara were friends (surprisingly), when the two hit it off upon first meeting Naruto was shell-shocked to say the least. Both he and Sai held a morbid and crude sense of humor, while both were not familiar with illustrating emotions and bonds. Temari even enjoyed his presence, being the only girl ever to do so, yet Gaara's older brother was an entirely different story. It's not so much that he hated Sai, but whenever the artist was around this scowl would cross his face.

The newly reformed artist was still apprehensive about traveling, as every mission within the course of the year had led to him being in a dire state, physically or mentally. Pushing the thoughts to the back of his head, Sai managed to feel excitement (…Was that the word?) upon arriving in Suna.

"Gaara! How the hell have you been, buddy?" Naruto slung his arm over the redhead's shoulder, pulling away to place his hand on the Kazekage's head and then his own. Repeating this step until his question was solved, "Damn, what are they feeding you up here? You're taller than me!"

Gaara chuckled, "It's nice to see again, Uzumaki-san-"

"Hey, quit with the last name bullshit…Naruto is fine." The blonde grinned proudly quickly rushing ahead to greet Kankuro.

"How are you, Kazekage-sama?" Sai bowed his head respectfully and was surprised when Gaara greeted him with a warm smile.

"I am well and how are you, Sai-san?" Truthfully he felt like shit, but lying befitted him.

"I am…good. Will you be joining Naruto and me for dinner at the ramen stand?"

"Yes…yes I will. Walk with me." Crossing his arms, Gaara glanced over at Sai before walking ahead.

"How are you really, if I may ask?" The redhead noticed the slight apprehension creep into the Kohana-nin's shoulders, "I was told from outside sources that you came into contact not only with the Akatsuki, but Sasuke Uchiha, as well. A rescue team was put forth to free you from Orochimaru's hideout, after the Uchiha had detained you. I have encountered many enemies, some more treacherous than the rest…however Sasuke Uchiha is not one to associate with by any means. Within him he holds only vengeance and hate, nothing more and certainly nothing less. If you two should meet again do not hesitate to kill him, albeit Naruto may have some objections…there is no saving him, he has fallen too far."

Sai listened intently, this was the most Gaara had ever spoken in one sitting, obviously he and Sasuke had some history, "Kazekage-sama…"

"Gaara will do fine."

"Gaara…thank you." The red head nodded in affirmation.

"…So then the fucking old geezer said that's not water…it's piss!" Naruto laughed obnoxiously as well as those listening in on his one-sided conversation with Gaara.

After ramen had been eaten and conversations had been passed, the small group of friends eventually lingered over to the bars. By now Naruto was drunk-as-fuck, Sakura was buzzed, Sai was tipsy, and Temari was plastered…Kankuro and Gaara remained semi-sober.

"Hey blondie, what the hell happened to Sai…you know with the Uchiha and everything?" Kankuro drawled throwing back a shot of whiskey as Naruto sputtered around his beer. Blue eyes glanced over to the pair sitting in the corner talking adamantly…Temari and Sai. The Kohana-nin was laughing with ease, while Temari was throwing her hands about in wild gestures.

"Uhh…well I honestly don't even know what happened. The only thing I can quite remember was Sasuke kissing Sai and then…" Naruto's face pinched up as liquor splattered his face and a choking noise from Gaara was heard. Kankuro had spurted out his next shot onto Naruto and Gaara was beating his hand against his own chest to stop coughing.

"What the fuck?!" Kankuro was the first to respond eyes widened beyond comprehension.

Gaara recovered himself quickly, "The Uchiha kissed him?"

"Thanks a-fucking-lot, Kankuro! Now I smell like goddamn whiskey, but yeah…Sasuke kissed Sai and it wasn't a chicken peck, either. I'm talking full on make out session, with tongue and everything." Naruto rubbed the sleeve of his shirt against the side of his face to wipe off the strong beverage.

"Well fuck me side-sally…who would have thought the Uchiha swung that way." Kankuro raised his fingers to signal two more shots.

"What did Sai do?" Gaara's curious emerald eyes glanced up from his drink.

"Well, there wasn't much he could do…that Akatsuki-freak, Hidan from the bingo book, had pinned him to a tree with a couple of kunai; one was right in his throat, too."

"Bet that hurt like a bitch." Kankuro narrowed his eyes looking over at the artist who was sipping at his shot of vodka.

The puppet-nin smirked cockily downing both of his shots, before sauntering over to the booth where his sister and object of interest sat. Leaning casually against the side of the booth, he listened intently to the artist's rant and watched carefully as he brought the liquor to his lips, "That a little too strong for you, princess?" The younger man jumped, clearly caught off guard, and quickly spun around to face who had addressed him.

"Kankuro, when the hell did you get here?" Temari slurred not noticing the exchange between the two men.

Without even taking his eyes off Sai, Kankuro replied, "About an hour ago, someone's got to be sober enough to walk you drunks home." A blush had bloomed over pale skin, either from alcohol or embarrassment, and Sai turned away from the man's lecherous stare to focus on the ceiling's paneling.

"So tell me, what have you ladies been gossiping about?" Without invitation, Kankuro wormed his way into the younger man's seat intentionally bumping their hips together.

Devoid of thinking, Sai replied, "Just that you have more dick in your personality, then in your pants." Temari erupted into laughter banging her fist against the table, while the puppeteer merely chuckled at the snide comment.

"Well darling, I can take you back to my place and show you just how much dick I have in my pants if you'd like. " Kankuro anxiously awaited the other man's retort.

"I don't think all the alcohol in Suna could make me do that." His tongue and mind were no longer his own as he finished his sixth shot of vodka.

2 hours later

Sai's POV

I nearly moaned when I collapsed on top of my bed. Crawling forward, I snuggled my head into my feather pillow and haphazardly threw the sheets over myself, not willing to undress or wash up. I was tipsy…maybe a little drunk, but still able to formulate my thoughts, correctly. The mission had been completed sometime before entering the bar and tomorrow we would trek back home.


'Dammit, not tonight' I was only half conscious, but that voice sent shivers over my spine as it swarmed my thoughts.

"I'm waiting for you."

'No…no…I said no!' My eyes shot open and I gasped in handfuls of air not willing to even blink my eyes shut, for fear of falling back asleep. This had been the first time I was able to break the genjutsu…maybe because I was only half-asleep or maybe because I was drunk, but the idea of having another "nightmare", was not at all appealing. My eyes drew to the clock on the far side of the wall noting I had four hours until our team was scheduled to leave Suna.

'I best train, if I cannot sleep…'

Sasuke Uchiha was pissed.

His teammates Karin, Suigetsu, and Jugo sensed the change in their leader although none dared to question the ex-Kohana-nin about it.

Currently the four team members were on a scroll retrieval mission and had halted their journey to rest. Karin and Jugo were tensed, sending one another knowing looks, while Suigetsu stared into the fire they resided around.

Sipping casually from his water bottle, Suigetsu snickered upon realization, "Why so glum, Sasuke? Are you thinking of someone special back home…what was that guy's name…San…Sid…Sai…Yeah, Sai." The Hozuki clan member was familiar with the name, being that Orochimaru and Kabuto conversed daily about the Kohana-nin, while he was ensnared in his tank. They did little to stifle their discussion and because of this Suigetsu knew of the Uchiha's infatuation and Orochimaru's desire to add the man to his pet collection.

"Ah!" Suigetsu narrowly ducked as a kunai scraped over his head cutting several strands of hair, to which the other man pouted childishly.

"Next time…I won't miss." The prodigy growled. Unwilling to spare his team a glance his mind began to swarm with thoughts surrounding, Sai. Somehow the artist had broken the genjutsu and the Uchiha was far from being a happy-camper. Smoothing out his frustration, he rationalized that Sai had been about to drift off and had quickly come to his senses in time to release his sleep imprisonment. Uchiha's were known for their patience and in time Sai would give in to his body's exhaustion, willing or not. For now he would wait.

"I give you a single task to complete…and yet three of you could not accomplish that." Within the recesses of a hidden cave eight members of Akatsuki had gathered at the request of their leader.

"Pein-sama…you requested that we bring the Jinjuriki back, as well as the elite member of Root…however we did not anticipate the arrival of-" Kisame began to explain only to stop when Pein's hand shot out signaling silence.

"Enough…enough of these games…I am not about to withstand failure. Itachi go to Kohana…and complete what these fools could not." The hologram of the Uchiha dispersed and a slew of profanities erupted from Pein's right.

"You send the fucking Uchiha to capture the Jinjuriki…in Kohana, no less? Have you lost your goddamn mind? Fucking Christ…and what of that prick brother of his…fucking cocksucker, trying to protect that doe-eyed little slut." Hidan rambled incessantly.

"Hidan, watch your mouth. I did not send him to capture the Jinjuriki, so let it be." Pein announced causing the surrounding members to look upon him in confusion.

"What the fuck did you send him there for, some goddamn ice-cream?" Hidan crossed his arms impatiently, not liking the smirk that crossed their leader's face.

"I sent him to retrieve our other object of interest."