AN: Manga chapter 622 has me on the edge of my seat. I know something big is about to happen. Me, personally, I hope Sakura sacrifices herself to help Naruto.

For The Good Of The Village: Hyuuga Arc

Ch 8 What's In The Clouds

"Food of the Gods," Anko purred in pleasure, chewing around the dango dumpling. Twirling the first skewer between her fingers, she flicked it across her hiding spot in the trees to land on the tree trunk across from her to complete the kanji 'Naruto'.

It had been some time since the Snake Mistress had zeroed her attention on the blonde haired Uzumaki Jinchuuriki. Kakashi had approached her pre Wave excursion for a bit of fun, and she was always game to bring a little bit of misery and blight to the young. They were so easily corruptible after all. So there she was, sitting in one of her favorite stalking spots to keep an eye on the little Gaki, when she had her memorable flashback to that time at the Wasted Leaf. It wasn't planned for her to meet one of her ex flings when Naruto showed up, it just happened to be that way. Of course, it just made it that much easier for her to be ticked at him when he out right called her a dirty tramp.

"Little shit," Anko huffed in annoyance. Still, her disposition changed genuinely when she thought about the little gift she gave him. "I couldn't be too hard on him. He did bring me flowers, after all."

An ANBU flickered into visibility behind her.

"I wouldn't make another move if I were you," She warned, tilting her head at the slithering 'branches' surrounding the ambushing figure.

"The Hokage wants to see you."

Anko's shoulders slumped. "It wasn't a big tattoo and the kid totally deserved it! He broke up with me...and we weren't even on a date yet!"

Poof!

Anko grouched as she dismissed her snakes. She'll have to check back with the brat later. Plus, if the time was right, her little gift should be well charged right about now.

It was the little things that always seemed to bring a smile to her face.

xxx

"It wasn't my fault," Anko grouched as she pushed herself past the Chuunin assistant by Hokage's office door. "Besides, it's only a little tattoo and it will go away with just a little bit of chakra-"

"Normally misdirecting blame is reserved for my Genin, Anko," Sarutobi tugged at the wispy beard at his chin, "but I can assure you that your presence isn't for disciplinary reasons."

The Third took a quick look around his desk, "At least I haven't received anything about you in the last five minutes or have anything pending."

"Nah, I've been a good little Leaf," Anko's grin was disarming. "And anyone who says otherwise is mistaken."

"I'm sure they are," Sarutobi pushed a manilla towards her, "I regret to tell you I have some news that you need to observe. Please believe me when I say that you are the first person outside the Elders to hear of this."

"Oh, is it a suicide mission? Maybe a seduction that requires something more than sugar britches Kurenai can handle?" Anko giggled naughtily, reaching for the folder. "Ah, men like a real woman to take charge and smack them around a bit. Only those goody two shoes like your son and Naruto like..."

All the color in Anko's face seeped away to a pasty white.

"Believe me, Anko, I am surprised as you are."

Anko lifted her gaze from the paper back to the village leader, her voice caught in her throat.

"Trust me, if I could-"

"Can I be excused?" Anko interrupted, dropping the folder back on the Hokage's desk. She was already on her feet to head towards the door. "I...have things I need to do."

"Anko," Sarutobi called out, his elderly voice tinted with warning, "There will be consequences if you do anything."

"I'm a proctor to the exam," She grinned, her head tilted cutely to the side, "You know, scholastic stuff to prepare and all."

"I'm sure," Sarutobi held her eyes, waiting to see that his message had sunk in as well. With a flick of his hands, Anko politely excused herself with the close of his door.

xxx

"So this is what you call training, huh?" Temari rested the back of her head with her interlocked fingers, staring up in the sky. To her right, Shikamaru mimicked her pose with his eyes scanning the cumulus with a calm, enviable serenity.

It had been only a few hours since she and the other suitors had went their separate ways. Naruto and Hinata went off to their perspective teams while Ino chatted animatedly with Mei about the upcoming Chuunin Exam.

"Think of this as meditation," Shikamaru drawled, rolling his eyes towards the heavens, "This has to be one of the most neglected tools to help with mental clarity and focus."

"You must be a shinobi surgeon at this rate." Temari snickered, glancing at him out of the corner of her teal eyes.

"I do alright," he lifted his hand and pointed towards a white puffy cluster to their left, "What does that look like to you?"

"It looks like a bunch of clouds."

"Troublesome," He huffed, waving his hands to the vast sky before them, "You don't see a face or an animal? Maybe some kind of food or flowers?"

"No, they're just clouds," She griped, squinting her eyes to try a different blurred view. "What do you see?"

"It doesn't matter what I see," He shrugged, "Everyone sees something different. Ino always sees flowers or Sasuke in the clouds. Chouji always sees food."

"So why don't you tell me what you see?" Temari turned on her hip to appraise the young Gennin next to her.

"You probably wouldn't like it."

"Oh, now I'm curious," She grinned, straining even harder. "C'mon, tell me."

"Well, you see those right there?"

"There?" She followed his hand, leaning closer to him to get an exact pin point of what he was looking at.

"Yeah," He tilted his cheek to make sure she was, in fact, looking where he was. "That looks like a table."

"I...guess I can see that." She pinched her mouth, then waited impatiently for him to continue. "And?"

"And that looks like a counter top. You know, like a-"

"Oh, yeah, I see it. It's a kitchen." Temari nodded, shifting closer to him, and following the lines of the clouds with her pointed finger. "And there's a sink and a fridge."

"Right there, what do you see?"

"Looks like...a person?"

"Eh...really?"

"Yeah, really."

"Okay, fine, a person," He reached over and turned her cheek with his finger to another part of the sky, "And what do you see in front of the person?"

"A table? Maybe a centerpiece on a table?"

"I guess, but what else could it be?"

"Food? Something square, I guess...lunch, dinner?"

"Yeah, maybe, and that lump by the table?"

"Someone sitting down..."

"And what about that lump next to it?"

"Someone standing next to it?"

"Yeah, right there, see?"

Temari squinted her eyes further, canting her head this way and that. Their faces were very close now, almost nose to nose.

"I guess you could say that is another person standing next to someone sitting down-"

"Oh, it has to be. Does the one sitting down look like it has something sticking out of its head?"

Now they were cheek to cheek, her proud sea green eyes gazing bemusedly into his dark brown.

"Yeah, maybe a short pony tail or a horn?"

"And the one next to it looks like it may have something of the same?"

Leaning closer, their lips almost touched...

"Nah, it looks like it is wearing a crown or has four..." Temari's eyes grew to saucers when she realized what she had said.

"See? You're right on the money. The one sitting down is a Nara, due to the single pony tail and the one doing the serving has four tails sticking out of her blonde hair-"

Shikamaru turned in time to receive Temari's death glare. Knowing what was bound to come, he leaned forward, stealing a kiss from her soft lips.

"Hey, don't look at me. You're the one seeing all of this."

"Run," Temari was already reaching for her fan.

"I'm pretty sure killing me will at lest get you expelled from Konoha."

"Oh? What do I get if I only break your arms?"

"A long talk from my mom."

"I think I can handle that."

"You've never met my mom."

"And you do know you're going to have to answer to my fiancee." Temari's eyes looked away, angry and frustrated. "I'll take my chances with your mom."

"You're not engaged yet." He could see the turmoil weighing in her angry eyes. "So, till then, I think I'll take my chances with a troublesome woman."

"You're still here."

"Yeah, I am."

"You shouldn't be." She struck fast, almost catching him on the cheek with her hand...till it stopped to just a simple caress. "What the...?"

His countenance was just as conceited as her's back at the sparring match.

"Did you know at this range, I can get you with my jutsu without having to say anything? Our shadows are touching."

Her hands strained to fight him, but it ended up copying him: folded behind his head, leaning against her cheek to cheek. Teeth bared at him, he could tell she was seething.

"Has anyone ever told you that you're beautiful when you're mad?"

Eyes wide, she was about to scream at him to let her go, when he forced her to lean forward and share another brief peck.

"But you're always mad, so that would make you always..."

"I'm going to kill you." She hissed when he went to kiss her again.

"Yeah, I can tell you hated it."

Her light pink blush belied her threat.

"By the way, planting that tag in the sand when Pirimiko was out was a nice touch. She really isn't on your level. Neither is Neji."

Temari's eyes shifted towards his. "No one is on my-"

"I am."

Temari huffed, "No, you're-"

"I may be even better than you if it wasn't so troublesome to work that hard."

Unable to respond to his irksome rebuttal, she felt him release her from his Shadow Bind technique. Rolling away from her with a taunting smirk only she thought she could master, he shrugged while skipping backwards from her.

"I knew you weren't going to like what you saw in the clouds, but what you see is all on you. I knew serving me again was something you couldn't help yourself for wanting to, being a woman and all."

The redness in her cheeks and turn of her lips was enough to show he had definitely pushed her past her patience.

"Maybe your Neji does have something right when he talks about Fate. You and I were destined to be together."

He ducked just in time to miss a kunai thrown at him.

"Troublesome."

When she pulled her tessen fan out of her belt, he finally flickered away.

Before she gave chase, she thought about life with this very annoying boy who was younger than her, yet able to rile her beyond words. So far, he was the only man she had met who could stir her into smiling while hoping to smash his face in.

It made her heart beat faster to know she was always underestimating him. Normally, she could figure out every man she ran across. Men were very simple creatures after all.

Except him.

Glancing back at the clouds where she had originally been scrutinizing, she thought about the lie she had told Shikamaru. She had said that she didn't see anything, when it had, in fact, looked like Neji glaring as he had when Hinata and Naruto were together.