I don't know where this is coming from, it wasn't really planned. @_@ Woe.


"Do you two mind if we talk to Naruto for a minute?" Kakashi-sensei asked, and her first reaction was 'I'm sure they won't'.

Then she remembered she was included in the two who were excluded. Or something. So she just smiled and linked her hands behind her head, and went, "No problem!" instead. (Kyuubi went "Why should I care" and walked away.)

It felt very strange to watch her team from the outside. She didn't like that, the feeling she got then, her teacher and her teammate talking quiet and serious with what looked like one of her kage bunshins, like he was real and she wasn't.

She turned on her heel and jogged after Kyuubi... or the other half of Kyuubi. Whatever the hell he was. (whatever the hell she was.) She made sure to bounce; she didn't want anyone to worry.

He slanted her a look when she caught up. She grinned and opened her mouth to say -- something. She didn't know what. 'Nice clothes' ? 'I'm glad you're coming home with us' ? He turned away before she could figure out out.

"--Hey!" she protested, after a few seconds of watching him stalk away, incongruous in his knee-length lab coat.

When she chased him through the front door she almost ran into Yamato-taichou and Sai, who were coming the other way. She saw Sai's eyes dropping straight to Kyuubi's groin and she didn't think, she slapped a hand across his mouth to keep him from saying anything about his dick.

"SHH do you want to die."

"I just wanted to point out that this man's clothes--"

"Believe me, he doesn't give a crap." She huffed, planted her fists on her hips to give Sai a 'seriously you're so... Sai, you should see about stopping that already' look.

"Well. Thank you for the assistance, miss." Sai gave her a blank look, and a perfectly empty smile, and his eyes slid away to turn back toward the door.

Naruto's stomach dropped again. Sai didn't recognize Kyuubi. He didn't recognize her either, not really. She'd never gone sexy-no-jutsu around him before, she didn't think, but even then he -- the way she talked or behaved or anything, it didn't spark a '--oh hey Naruto you have nice breasts today'. Yamato-taichou was staring at her weird, like he thought maybe he knew what this was about, what she was about, but not like ... Not like she was Naruto either, his subordinate, his teammate.

It was like she'd gotten kicked out of her own life.

"Oi!" someone called, and Sai threw a smile that way, almost real, and sure enough when she turned the other Naruto was jogging up to them, with Sakura-chan and Kakashi-sensei on his heels. "Hey guys, what are you -- oh. Tsunade call you, huh."

"Yes," Yamato-taichou said, staring at him, and then at Naruto herself. "She was a bit cryptic, but I think I begin to see now."

"... Yeah." Naruto -- boy-Naruto -- scratched the back of his head. He looked tired, not really happy. Everyone watched him.

No one really watched her.

Apart from Naruto himself. "So, uh, where'd he go?"

No need to ask who 'he' was. She shrugged. The other Naruto sighed.

"The man in the labcoat?" asked Sai. "It should be easy to track him. He has a memorablemmmph." Both Narutos and Sakura-chan had lurched to silence him. Sai's eyebrows furrowed and he tilted his head back out of range of their hands, leaving them a bit entangled. "... What's wrong with mentioning dress sense? His is strange."

"Aha, you're right," Sakura-chan replied, laughing nervously.

"It doesn't truly hide anything, especially not his p-"


Yamato-taichou coughed in his fist to bring them back to order. "Ah. Briefing?"

Naruto smiled, and wondered if she was gonna be asked to leave again. It was just -- she -- damn it. Too many thoughts, it was bad for her health. She did better when she didn't have to think about hard stuff, just didn't have the brain for it maybe or whatever and, and, damn it.

"Actually, uh." Naruto raked a hand through his hair. "Kakashi-sensei, mind explaining to them? I just really want to go home already..."

Kakashi watched him in silence for a couple seconds, and then looked at her, and she grinned but it went a bit wrong.

"So long as we can find you if necessary," he said soberly, and that surprised her a bit. "Go."

Naruto turned to her. "So, er. ... You coming?"

Oh god yes. Home. Her house and her bed. There were issues with that but nothing that got her in the stomach quite the same way as her teammates. "Yeah, sure."

They walked down the stairs together, leaving the group behind and she could feel them watching but that was okay, another second or three.

The other Naruto didn't try to talk to her. That was fine. It wasn't necessary. It was -- kinda nice, that he was there, that he hadn't stayed behind with her (with his) teammates.

She didn't want to think about it, didn't didn't didn't. She was thinking about nothing worth the bother, they'd all get used to it in a few days and then it would all be okay and normal and fine. She'd just go home and eat some cup ramen and water her plants and maybe watch some tv, maybe do some push-ups, she'd sleep and laze about and then it'd all be alright.

Tomorrow they'd (like her again) (take her back) ... tomorrow they'd...

"I really want some ramen right now," they said together, and if she forgot about everything that had happened to get them to this point the stereo thing was kinda funny.