AN: Gah, one of the shortest chapters yet, right on the heels of the longest chapter...so much for uniformity. This just didn't go with the last chapter, and simply wasn't going to fit with the next.
Lots of thanks to everyone who reviewed, followed, or added to favorites after last chapter! :) I love reading everyone's comments, which reminds me...
*Ahem* It has come to my attention that an alarming amount of people have almost choked on their food and/or beverages while reading this story. People, for your own safety and my peace of mind, please do not consume food or drink while reading humorous fanfiction. For that matter, don't drive or operate heavy machinery while reading fanfiction, either. It's how people like Deidara get run over in the streets.
Disclaimer: Sadly, I still don't own Naruto. I do still own Dr. Mendo and Miss Kusai. Also, this humble author is not responsible for asphyxiation due to consumption of food or drink during the reading of this fanfiction.
The aftermath of The Day The Akatsuki All Went Completely Bat-Shit Crazy (as the rest of the Naruto characters called it) was a nightmare.
The paperwork alone was enough to make even the mightiest and most organized kage want to cry. Factoring in the property damage and attempted lawsuits, there was enough to make the Naruto crew's best pencil-pushers threaten to quit - and that wasn't even counting the complaints Dr. Mendo and Miss Kusai's office got.
What made everything worse was the fact that the only ones to actually complete the step that day without attacking or being attacked by someone were Itachi (who had Naruto and over a dozen other witnesses backing him) and Konan (who showed up the next day with a massive hangover, leaning against Lord Jiraiya for support).
Evidently, Jiraiya had cheerfully forgiven Konan almost immediately upon hearing her out, but wouldn't hear of her leaving until they'd both sat down and had a proper drink together for old times' sake. Coincidently, this is also how Konan discovered that she does NOT hold her liquor well, having gotten smashed after only a few cups of Sake. Jiraiya didn't go into details, other than saying he couldn't take her home because she couldn't remember where she lived at the time, had been forced to take her back to his place to crash on the couch, and that he now needed a professional to come clean his carpet. This didn't explain all the phone numbers written on Konan's arm, but when questioned, he simply groaned and said he hadn't realized how drunk she was until he'd come back from the restroom. Konan was too ashamed to inquire further.
Hidan and Kakuzu came back covered in a myriad of injuries (Hidan specifically had several weapons sticking out of him, with one side of his person being burned almost beyond recognition), spitting mad and ready to murder the first person to say anything to them. They had eventually given Okane's men the slip at the cost of their dignity, hiding in a garbage dumpster for over an hour until the search had been called off. After that, Hidan bluntly said that if he was forced to apologize and hug a homeless person (as was his project in place of anyone he knew personally, as the general consensus was that him hugging anyone who actually knew him was a terrible idea) at the moment, he'd dismember the poor bastard and send the body parts to Okane and Miss Kusai. For once Kakuzu was in agreement with him on something, so therefore didn't force it.
Kisame was still arguing as to whether or not his attempt counted. He pointed out that he had been hugging one of Bee's tails for at least ten minutes, and already had apologized to the jinchuuriki prior to that. How was it his fault, Kisame argued, if the idiot hadn't been listening to him, and automatically assumed he'd been about to attack when he'd gone in for the hug? He'd even been forced to listen to more awful rapping the whole time, too! Really, Kisame was the victim here. That's what he kept insisting, anyway. Not that anyone else saw it that way.
Sasori and Deidara were still very annoyed and, though they would deny it to anyone who suggested it, deeply insulted by Gaara and Kankuro's refusal to accept their apology. They were even more insulted when they discovered, upon entering the Sand siblings' house ,that Gaara and Kankuro had escaped out the back door while Deidara had been blowing the front door off its hinges. This led to Deidara and Sasori taking to the air on one of Deidara's clay birds to search for them, which in turn led to the aerial chase Itachi had witnessed, which ended when Hachibi-mode Killer Bee hit them when they flew too close, knocking all four ninja to the ground and almost stepping on them. (This incident almost caused a war between Cloud and Sand, a war that was avoided simply due to the fact that Gaara and Bee are both nice guys who don't hold grudges and quite rightfully placed more blame on the Akatsuki than each other.)
Poor Nagato was the most down-trodden of the lot. After the first fiasco, he'd gone and found Kakashi a second time and once again been let down, albeit much more gently than the first time. Kakashi had pointed out that, yes, he did accept Nagato's apology wholeheartedly, but no, there would be absolutely no hugging because Kakashi was just not a hugging guy, especially not to near-strangers. End of story. Nagato was disappointed but determined, deciding to go down his list and try those people instead.
Unfortunately, he'd been unable to find Jiraiya (which he now knew was due to the Sannin baby-sitting a drunk Konan in a bar somewhere) and when he'd decided to try Naruto he'd found him defended by Sakura and Sasuke, who obviously were still freaked out by Itachi's display from earlier as in a surprising show of camaraderie they refused to let Nagato see him, saying Naruto had hugged his quota of Akatsuki for the day, and that he could "kiss off and die" (though they will deny that this happened). The next person on his list was Lady Tsunade, but he'd been ultimately too embarrassed at that point to ask for a hug once his apology was done - which is a shame, as she would have done it and had been expecting such, having just talked to Kakashi an hour previously.
Dr. Mendo, in his typical fashion, took it all in stride - in fact, he mostly seemed pleased that a city hadn't been leveled, and remarked that they had all done much better than the Bleach villains had when they'd been confronted with the step. Miss Kusai didn't say a word; simply gathered witness testimony and continued making notes while contacting some of Mendo's lawyers.
However, after a week had passed and the Akatsuki still had made no initiative to try again, Dr. Mendo gave them an ultimatum: Either they all went out and tried again, or they remained in his 'Long-term' program indefinitely (which, from Miss Kusai's slight smirk, they took to mean 'forever').
As horrifying as those two options were, though, the third (and technically easiest) option that was also given was much, much worse: A group hug with their fellow Akatsuki members.
Many tantrums, tears, and curses ensued. A table, one meeting room, a window, and a passing bus were all destroyed. One pedestrian, two more minions, and another Cell Jr. were injured. Kishimoto himself was called three times. But eventually, after much deliberation, more tantrums and more tears, it was agreed: Option 3 it was - though only under the condition that nobody, nobody, ever, EVER spoke of it again. Period.
And so it was on that day - unrecorded but monumental to history and future generations regardless - that it happened; the Akatsuki all got together and had a group hug, timed by Miss Kusai to be exactly five minutes and fifty-five seconds in honor of them completing their fifth step.
(Well, all of the Akatsuki minus Itachi and Konan, who both pointed out they had already completed the exercise and doing it again would be redundant. That, and if Mendo and Kusai forced them they would not be opposed to burning the building and everyone in it, including themselves, down in a blaze of glory.)
Once they were done, Dr. Mendo, Miss Kusai, Itachi, and Konan all clapped (completely ignoring the looks of pure loathing and homicide directed at them), and Dr. Mendo proclaimed them all ready for Step 6: Managing Your Psychotic and Uncontrollable Bouts of Anger and Rage.
It really couldn't have come at a better time.
AN: Alright, it is now safe to consume your food and beverages. Again, reeeeally sorry for the short length. But I figure short update is better than no update, yeah?
Thanks for reading! And remember, reviews are love. ;)