Dancing Dawn

Chapter 13

Since neither Temari nor I knew the area, or the city for that matter, too well, it was Hinata who gave directions to Felipe and took us to a quaint little shopping strip about fifteen minutes away. It was quite cute, actually. It looked a little more like a high-end flea market than a mini mall. Seriously. Despite the small size, there were so many different and unique things being sold there, and one could bargain with the vendors like one might on other open-air markets.

Temari grinned like the cat who got the cream once she realized this, and gleefully rubbed her hands together as she let out a soft cackle. I kid you not when I say that both Hinata and I inched a little away from her, especially once her tongue peeked out from her lips and licked them. She really did look like an evil overlord.

The blonde Spaniard immediately proceeded to drag us over the entire shopping district, stopping at every single stall and looking over every item in display with a critical eye worthy of a pawn shop owner. One would never guess she was such a professional shopper, being the rich ambassador's kid and all, but it turned out she was.

It was obvious Hinata did not see that coming.

In no time at all, the poor girl was starting to turn red and lightly sweat as she tried to keep up with Temari in her traditional kimono. Truly, it was a loosing battle. Temari was like a bumble bee. She buzzed over here, looped around, hovered a bit, buzzed back, buzzed in a circle, thought about, and buzzed somewhere else.

It was all buzz, buzz, buzz.

Deciding to have some mercy on the shy Hyuga, I waved Temari on while I guided Hinata over to a nearby bench. We both sat there, watching in awe as Temari didn't falter in her rhythm and kept buzzing around.

It was a bit amusing to see Felipe, hulk of a man that he was, look resigned behind his sunglasses as he obediently followed her around, trying to look as harmless and not intimidating as he could. Not that it did much good, but oh well.

Hinata spoke, "I wonder w-why Felipe-san is trying to s-stay back…" As we watched, it seemed that every time Temari came to a new stall, Felipe would stand awkwardly to the side, away from the stall owner's direct view.

Hinata's question was answered a moment later, when Felipe stood too close to Temari as she was talking to the stall owner. As we watched, the stall owner, who was in a heated argument over a good bargain with Temari, glanced up at Felipe, did a double take, and immediately backed out; spluttering and bowing to Temari as he offered her his whole selection.

Temari narrowed her eyes and scowled, shaking her head and stalking away, Felipe following after her. It wasn't until they were a few meters away that she abruptly turned around and glared at Felipe, who looked apologetic. She said some words to him, which I'm sure were in a clipped tone, before turning on her heel and stalking to another vendor. Felipe waited a few seconds before following her from an angle.

"Well," I said, "there's your answer. Temari hasn't really changed. She loves bargaining with vendors, and it seems that whenever Felipe is around, the vendors become so intimidated by his sight that they back out. Temari can't stand that."

"P-poor F-Felipe," Hinata said.

"Indeed."

We watched for a little more as Temari found new victims – I mean, vendors – to "bargain" with. This time, Felipe was out of sight. Hinata and I finally decided to walk over to her when she found her match: a stubborn old woman selling cloth. How did we know she was Temari's match? Simple. Both Temari and the woman were leaning over the table, their hands planted firmly on it, their faces only inches away from each other. Both were red, and their eyes were narrowed in concentration, as they rapidly shot words back and forth about quality, color, prices, and all that shebang. Several bystanders had also approached making a semicircle around the two as they witnessed what probably was the greatest bargaining showdown in history.

After a few more intense, terse words were exchanged, the old woman leaned back slightly, looking appraisingly at the young foreigner who so pushed her so far. A worthy adversary indeed. With a glint of respect in her eyes, she inclined her head and accepted Temari's final proposal.

The crowd applauded as Temari, victorious and looking thoroughly satisfied, leaned back with the biggest grin I have seen her sport. As the woman started packing the selected rolls of cloth (why Temari would want them is beyond me since she has her personal designers at her beck and call back in Spain), she turned towards us with a rosy hue to her cheeks due to the exertion and sparkling eyes.

"So, where to next?" she asked, rubbing her palms up and down like a glutton before a buffet.

Hinata and I shared a look, and laughed.


It was decided that next we'd go to an actual mall, like the ones back home with several stories and food courts, so Temari would stop terrorizing the poor street vendors and to go someplace cooler since the temperature had been getting warm. Temari sulked a little at first, but eventually agreed.

After we walked around window shopping for a bit, Felipe trudging behind us carrying our (Temari's) booty (winnings/ purchases), I split up with them since I decided I wanted to find something personal for my dad. Both of my friends understood, and we agreed to meet up in half an hour by the ice cream parlor.

As they kept walking, I took a left turn and found a store directory. While I didn't mind exploring the place, the time limit and the bit of tiredness in my body urged me to use the directory to help me find something faster.

My father, an Englishman who was constantly travelling for work, would be arriving in a few days from someplace in Africa to spend some time with me and help me move into our house; not to mention for support. It would be the first time we've both been here together since we moved to the States back when I was eight. He'd come back to Japan several times due to work and to check on our property and our friends, but I had been unable to accompany him. Now that we were finally together, I wanted to savor the moment, and have a welcome home gift for him for when he arrived.

Finding a book store with great ratings in the store listings, I decided to head there since my dad was an avid reader. He jokingly called himself a bookworm, before he extended the nickname to me since I myself enjoyed a good book or five when I had the time.

On my way to the bookstore, a big assembly of girls by the music store caught my eye. Curious, I slowed my walk and came a bit closer to the group, lifting myself on my tippy toes trying to see over the many heads to find out what was so interesting. However, my efforts proved fruitless as the restless girls were constantly moving and shifting, not to mention loudly chattering in a very distracting way.

Deciding to simply ask, I politely tapped a girl on the back of the crowd on the shoulder and asked what was going on. She gave me a weird look, like I should know and was being a heretic for asking, before courtly informing me that their new single had come out. Of course, I had no clue who "they" were. The girl looked positively scandalized when I said so and loudly squealed incoherent things, making others in the group turn around and look at us. As the first girl raved on about how I could not know who "they" were, was I living under a rock or what, and all that idiotic jazz, the other girls were also becoming scandalized as their eyes zeroed in on me and started voicing (spouting, cough cough) their own thoughts/ lectures at me. It was like an infectious disease that spread from that one girl to the rest of the group.

I began to back away slowly, and they closed in on me. I gulped. I was beginning to comprehend just what I had done.

I had walked into a pack of fangirls and openly admitted I didn't know who their poor victim of an idol was. Or in this case, victims since there was more than one.

Which really made things that much worse because each girl had a favorite, and each was trying to get me listen to why their respective idol was the best, which only caused the other girls to speak louder and act a little more vicious in an effort to get to me first.

Oh boy.

As they kept closing in on me, effectively surrounding me and trying to convert me, I was beginning to panic. I really didn't want to have to use my self-defense moves on these girls, but right now I was beginning to feel like I was in a zombie movie. Seriously. One normal girl, being surrounded by a mob of infected others who only wished to infect her too… and I do not exaggerate. These girls had glassy eyes, were in near hysterics, and all had their mouths wide open as they shrieked at me.

Just as I was about to bolt, a loud, obnoxious voice boomed from behind us in a holier-than-thou condescending tone.

"What in the seven hells are you all nutcases spouting? Ridiculous!"

As one, the mob and I turned our heads in the direction of the voice. There, a few feet away from us and rapidly approaching, was a red haired girl with glasses and a white jacket with another mob of girls carrying banners and flags marching behind her.

The red haired girl had a headband tied to her forehead with the words AKATSUKI in bold red letters, with their black and red cloud logo on either side of the name. Several of the girls behind her had the same band on their heads, many also wearing other Akatsuki items such as shirts with different pictures of the band or only specific band members, other accessories, and lets not forget the tattoos and banners half of them proudly carried.

I chanced a glance at the original mob. The girls who had me surrounded, I noticed for the first time, wore similar things but for a different band – Team 7. I don't know how I missed Naruto's face grinning at me from several angles, or any of the other band members from my friend's group, or the damn shinny leafs the girls wore on most of their person, but I did.

And now I was stuck between what I could tell was going to be one hell of a showdown between two mega-mobs of fangirls. Who just happened to be fans of two of the biggest bands in the world and therefore rival bands. Both of which were compromised entirely of male idols.

And lets not forget that currently one group is already targeting me.

I'm not ashamed to admit I was currently fearing for my life.

"Karin," some of the Team 7 fans bit out. The redhead glared at all of them with dark, narrowed eyes, but aside from tiny nervous fidgets, the girls remained firm and didn't back down. The Akatsuki fangirls behind Karin hissed at them, and the other group hissed right back as they forgot about me and turned their bodies to face their rivals.

Hissed!

Jesus, I had no idea I had run right smack into Animal Planet in the middle of a Japanese mall.

"Newcomer!" The Akatsuki fan leader, whom I presumed to be said 'Karin,' barked out. I looked around, wondering who the poor shmuck was. When the Team 7 and Akatsuki fans pinned their hard, slightly manic stares on me, I paled. I turned and gave Karin a flabbergasted look, raising my hand to point dumbly at myself. Surely, she couldn't be talking about me, could she?

When she rolled her eyes at me in exasperation, I knew my answer. I gulped.

"Yes, you. The pathetically desperate girl with the ridiculous pink hair. Get over here!"

My eye twitched. She did not just go there.

Before I could tell her off with a few choice words, the Team 7 aficionados moved up from in front of the store to stand between me and the new group before they closed rank around me, effectively trapping me in their midst.

"Forget it, Karin!" one random girl from the group shouted at the redhead angrily. "She's one of us!" All of a sudden, the other Team 7 fans started pitching in.

"Yeah!"

"She was here to get the new Team 7 album like us!"

"She prefers Team 7!"

"She's a decent girl like us who wants good music, not a harem!"

"She wants nothing to do with you and your lackeys!" Well, I'm glad at least one person got something right.

The Akatsuki fans started to yell out their own comments.

"She is not one of you!"

"We all saw! She didn't know what you lot were doing!"

"She didn't even know your precious band's single was out!"

"She belongs to no one yet!"

"Akatsuki all the way!"

"Yeah!"

"She's free game!"

Excuse me?

I'm free game? I belong to no one yet? Um, I'm not sure I like where this is going. I don't like it one bit. Thinking back to my Animal Planet analogy, if these groups are like two wild packs of animals, right now I felt like the only prey in all of the Savannah. And from my point of view, one wrong move and these girls would go at each other without holding back; nails, banners and all.

I really like how I look, and I especially like living. So, deciding that the only way to keep up both of those things, I started to back out of the Team 7 group, taking advantage that the majority of them were up front facing down Karin and the other Akatsuki fans; their backs to me. I inched my way to the back of the group, keeping my head down and making no sudden movements.

Once I extracted myself from the war zone, I realized I'd underestimated the size of both groups. There were about just under fifty or so Team 7 fans fanning out at the entrance of the store. I hadn't been able to see all of them because many were inside, but had apparently come out when they realized the Akatsuki fans were nearby, in what apparently seemed to be defending their territory – or their territory at least for today.

Meanwhile, the Akatsuki gathering was a larger group. I estimated there to be eighty girls or so, which made kind of sense since Akatsuki was more famous and had been around longer than Team 7. Still. Where the hell did all these chicks come from?

Inwardly shaking my head to shoo away such trivial thoughts, I kept backing away into the only option open for me: inside the store. Once I was a few steps in, I turned and rushed inside to hide between the shelves at the very back of the store.

I crouched in a corner between a shelve with only Team 7 merchandise and a cutout of the three band members. I glanced around the store, searching for a way out when I noticed that right across the place where I was hiding there was another shelve filled with merchandise only from Akatsuki with its own band cutout.

Sheesh, talk about rivalry if even within music stores they're trying to have a showdown, even if only in cardboard form.

A whispered click of the tongue with a tiny whimper following it caught my attention. I turned my head to find what I could only assume to be the store manager, crouched behind the Akatsuki cutout across from me. The poor man – no, youth, he couldn't be more than twenty – looked slightly terrified, but was keeping calm only by an iron will alone. I pity the dude, not many people have first-hand experience with obsessive fangirls and he now had two rival groups of fangirls ready to fight right outside his store.

The guy beckoned me over, and after a quick glance in the harpies' direction, I quickly scurried to where he was, flattening myself against the shelf beside him.

"The backdoor's over there, miss," he said, pointing to a half-hidden door behind some giant poster of an anime I've never heard of.

"What about you?" I whispered back. It was obvious this guy was in way over his head. He gulped nervously, peeking around the cutout to glance at the commotion before turning back to me.

"I'll be alright," he said. "Thank you for your concern."

"Are you sure? It looks like you have quite a situation in your hands." I was tempted to say "bloodbath" instead, but I knew that was melodramatic. At last, I hoped it was. Fangirls were unpredictable.

He flashed me a nervous, albeit reassuring grin. "I'm the store manager. If they want their music, they'll have to listen to me."

I ignored how it sounded as if he was reassuring himself as much as me. I took a quick look at his nametag and smiled gratefully at him. "Thank you, Kiba-san."

His cheeks tinted slightly pink before he mumbled a "no problem" and shooing me away once the coast was clear.

Once I was at the door, I glanced back behind me in case he changed his mind. He didn't, but he did glance down pointedly at my feet. I looked down to find a small white dog with droopy brown ears whining pitifully at my feet. I looked up at Kiba in shock. Where did he hide the (admittedly adorable) puppy? There is no way they allow dogs in malls.

Kiba whispered-called at me, a hand cupped by his mouth. "Long story. Can you please take him with you? I don't want him to get involved." He shot me pleading eyes, identical to the puppy dog eyes the dog was giving me, and I couldn't refuse. I bent down and picked up the pup, looking over a last time at Kiba in half disbelief. After another nervous, reassuring grin, he urged me to hurry with his hand after flashing me a thumbs up. I returned the gesture and slipped through the door, closing it behind me as I silently prayed for his sanity.

The backdoor connected to a long hallway with random items pushed up against the walls. Other doors lined the wall I'd emerged from, probably the backdoors of other stores. I looked both ways, unsure of where to go, before shrugging and taking the left. I figured I might as well go in the direction I was originally heading to and slip into the bookstore the moment I could. According to my watch, I had just over ten minutes before the half-hour was up.

The puppy shifted worriedly in my arms, and I cooed softly at him as I petted him while I walked. The poor thing must've been terrified. I just hope he doesn't get it into his head that human females were all as batty as those girls. A traumatized dog was way out of my expertise.

Eventually the god managed to calm down, and I checked his collar. His name, apparently, is Akamaru. I raised him so we were both at eye level. He panted contentedly with his tongue lolling out the side of his mouth. Awww.

"Well, Akamaru," I said to him, and his tail wagged at his name. "I'm not entirely sure what to do with you. We could always pretend that you're a plush toy." He barked as if in agreement and licked my face. I giggled. There really was nothing dogs couldn't make you feel better about.

I turned a sharp corner and collided with something, hard. With a whoosh of my breath, I fell on my butt, clutching Akamaru to my chest. Owww. I opened my eyes to glare at whatever I'd hit. It turned out to be a man.

He had silver-ish-grey hair, like Kakashi's, tied back in a low spiky ponytail with bangs on his forehead. Round spectacles rested on his slightly crooked nose, evidence that he'd broken it at least once previously. He looked to be between his early to mid-twenties, and wore a long white lab coat. Apparently, when we'd collided he'd gone down too, because he pushed himself onto his forearms to glance at me from his place on the floor in front of me, pushing back his spectacles further up his nose.

Old habits and manners kicked in. "I'm sorry about that!" I said, rolling onto my knees. "I didn't see you there. Are you okay?"

He huffed, pushing himself into a sitting position, staring oddly at me. "Yes, well, I'm alright. Are you?" he asked, a tiny, serene smile forming on his lips. When I nodded, he nodded once before getting up on his feet. He cast me another odd look, as if he were studying me. I didn't like the feeling. It was as if he knew me, or something about me. The feeling left when he smiled again.

"Well, I'm sorry I bumped into you, too. Those corners are always tricky. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm in a bit of a hurry. Sorry again." With a small bow of the head, he turned the corner and kept walking quickly away.

I blinked. That apology didn't sound sincere at all. In fact, it sounded a bit mocking. And he didn't help me up! That was rude. Shaking my head at his lack of consideration, I glanced down when I heard a tiny squeak from my arms. Akamaru! I forgot just how tightly I was holding him when I fell. I loosened my hold and glanced him over, making sure he was alright. He was, and licked my hand. He jumped out of my arms and onto the floor, shaking himself as if airing his coat. I stood up and kept walking, only turning around when I realized Akamaru had not followed me.

Akamaru stood his ground, his head facing the direction the rude man had gone. His hackles were slightly raised, and he growled low in his throat. It was obvious the man was not well received by him either.

"Come on, Akamaru. Let's get out of here," I called him. He looked at me and trotted over, looking back only once and sneezing in the man's direction. I smiled; then we both resumed on our way.


Akamaru was surprisingly smart.

Once we were a few doors down the fall, I picked him up and reminded him of the plushy plan. I honestly had no idea what to do with him, and I was sure I couldn't take him with me; but neither could I leave him.

To my surprise, he adopted a laying down position in my arms and went limp. When I called him, worried that he was sick or something, he cracked open a black eye and glanced at me with mirth, his mouth opening slightly so he could pant. I scratched his back; he didn't move. I poked his tummy. Nothing. I tugged gently on his tail. Nada. He literally was acting like a plushy! Kiba had him trained well.

With a wide smirk on my face, I held Akamaru like a football with one arm and with the other opened the random door we'd chosen.

We walked into a pet boutique. I kid you not. Everything you could think of to dress and pamper your pet was there. Shirts with funny logos and words, shoes, bows, leashes, collars both plain and studded with designs, some of the fanciest dog and cat beds I'd ever seen, jackets and – was that a dog stroller?

Walking out of the super pet-fan store, I glanced around to orient myself. I shifted Akamaru more comfortably in my arm, and walked to the right. The bookstore was close by, luckily, so after a quick glance at Akamaru to confirm he was holding up his façade, I walked in and immediately headed for the history books.

After flipping through several somewhat interesting-looking books, I finally decided on a thick hardcover book about Japanese legends and myths. My dad was a world-history nut, but he especially loved the particular myths and legends of the world, so I thought he'd like it. Not like he didn't already have many similar books at home, but this one just seemed to offer a little extra.

As I paid for the book, the cashier asked me if I also wanted to buy that chocolate in my arm. I blinked. What chocolate? Looking down, there was, indeed, a small chocolate bar tucked loosely between my arm and Akamaru's jaw. I stifled the urge to scold the dog, but couldn't help but raise an eyebrow at him. Shrugging, I took the chocolate bar and passed it to the cashier on a whim. Why not? The fangirl scare took a lot out of me. However, I would buy something different for him. Chocolate is, after all, poisonous to dogs.

Walking out of the store, shifting Akamaru to hold him with my other arm, Temari and Hinata appeared from another store. When they saw, they walked towards me.

"Any luck?" Temari inquired.

"Yep," I help up the bag with the book.

"I-I'm glad you were able t-to find something," Hinata smiled kindly.

"I'm glad you're still in once piece," Temari added.

"Huh?"

"W-we saw quite the commotion b-by the music s-store," Hinata explained.

"Yeah, crazy-ass fangirls from rival bands were ready to go at each other. Wouldn't you like to guess which bands?"

I groaned, slumping my shoulders at the reminder. "Akatsuki and Team 7," I answered.

They gave my surprised looks.

"How do you know that?" Temari questioned me.

"I was walking by when I was caught in the cross-fire. I'm pretty sure they wanted to recruit me." Scratch that, I'm not 'pretty sure' – I'm downright convinced that was the case. They shuddered at the thought.

"W-which g-g-group?"

"Does it matter?"

They shook their heads before Temari piped up thoughtfully. "Well, Akatsuki has been around longer, so I would guess their fangirls are a bit more…"

"Obsessive and insane?" Hinata offered. Temari and I looked at her. We were not expecting something like that to come from her. She blushed, and looked down.

I sighed, giving up. "Both," I finally admitted. They winced in sympathy.

I accepted their condolences when I noticed something was off. I squinted at my friends. "Where's Felipe?"

My answer came a moment later when said man stumbled around awkwardly as he tried to avoid other people and the mall's walls while carrying a stack of bags and packages that came up to his nose, leaving only his sunglasses and hair visible. Even with his impressive build, it was obvious he was struggling to carry his cargo while simultaneously weaving around the mall while keeping up with the girls.

I gave Temari a flat look. She shrugged and grinned. Shaking my head, I started walking towards the exit, my friends following me with a shaky Felipe trailing after. There were so many things I wanted to say.

It so happened that Felipe had parked the limo on the other side of the mall, so we had no choice but to walk past the music store and the infamous fangirl groupies. So we snuck around. Once we came near the music store, we hid behind a nearby pillar and spied on them. I'd think we looked pretty comical, like those cartoons where you only see the heads, one stacked on top of the other.

I wasn't really surprised to notice that the immediate area was mostly deserted, and the few stranglers who remained hurried around the fangirls or peeked at them from the second floor railings. The two rival groups, meanwhile, remained standoffish, but both had focused their attention on a single individual standing on a platform that came from nowhere. It was Karin. She seemed to be in the middle od delivering some surely deep speech about the importance of idol (superstar) worshipping.

"S-she sure knows h-how to get attention," Hinata, the bottom head in our head totem, stuttered.

"Behold," Temari, the top head of the totem, said gravely in an Australian accent. "We are in the presence of wild fangirls. We have stumbled upon a showdown between two of the largest and most vicious of packs in all of the modern world."

I smirked, liking her Crocodile Hunter take on the situation. It was pretty apt. I followed her lead, "We must approach with outmost caution. One wrong move, and the fangirls, regardless of pack, will turn on us."

"T-they will try to convert us," Hinata said, playing along. I looked up at Temari before we both grinned and looked down at Hinata who grinned back.

"Turn us into one of them."

"Beware! Beware!"

"We must be quick and silent."

"We mustn't speak."

"Should they hear us speak of their idols –"

"The horror!"

"Run!"

We dissolved into giggles, pulling back into standing positions behind the pillar. This was pretty fun.

"I wonder what they would think if it was revealed what a bunch of dummies they all are," I said.

"What do you mean?" Temari asked. I briefly told them about the stunt with the cards and flowers; they already knew about the dance studio fiasco. I wasn't surprised when Temari had to sit down in order to keep laughing, Hinata using her shoulder as support as he politely tried to keep her laughter to herself, unlike the Spaniard who had no qualms about who heard her guffaws. Felipe looked slightly concerned, but didn't intervene.

"Yeah, yeah, you two keep laughing all you want," I said with a roll of the eyes, though I couldn't help from smiling.

"You have to show us these cards!" Temari exclaimed. Hinata nodded eagerly at her side.

"Sure," I said. "Once my dad arrives and we're both settled at home, you guys can come over." I paused, thinking about all that's happened to me ever since I became acquainted with the two bands. They were exasperating, but they were good guys and certainly gave me memorable moments. "They grow on you, the goons."

"Ahem."

We turned around to find a stunning woman standing behind us with a tiny smile on her otherwise serious-looking face. She had a black jacket with matching pencil skirt, and sweet-looking heels. What surprised us the most, though, was that she had a couple piercings on her face and short blue hair, which was held back by a white flower.

Temari stood up, but before any of us could inquire who the woman was, Hinata bowed to her. "Greetings, Konan-san. What a c-coincidence to find you here."

"Ah. Hello, Hinata-san. It is indeed a pleasure to find you here. May I ask who your two friends are?" Wow, even her voice was beautiful.

"O-oh! My apologies, Konan-san. These are m-my friends: Temari no Sabaku, and Haruno Sakura."

"Haruno Sakura?" Konan echoed, looking interestedly at me. I bowed to her as did Temari.

"How do you do?" I greeted her. Her sharp gaze seemed to relax a little. Was it me, or was there some approval in her eyes?

"Indeed; it is nice to meet you, Haruno-san. I have heard much about you." Really? From whom? Before I could ask, she continued, inclining her head at Temari. "Same goes to you, Sabaku-san. I trust you're enjoying yourselves."

"We sure are," Temari grinned.

"I am glad to hear that. I must apologize for my abrupt departure, but I'm afraid I must be going. I'm certain our paths will meet again in the near future. Until then, have a good day, Haruno-san, Sabaku-san, Hinata-san." She bowed her head graciously at each of us, which we returned. She left in a show of pure elegance and pride.

I turned towards Hinata. "Who was she, exactly?"

Just as Hinata was about to answer, a familiar, screechy voice cut in. "You!"

I turned my head towards the voice, half-regretting the action already. Yep, it was Karin. And she wasn't alone. I took in a deep breath and exhaled, preparing myself. "Yes, me. What?"

"Why were you talking to Konan-sama?!"

"Eh?" Just who was that woman really if Hinata and these fangirls knew her?

"Don't play dumb! What were you two talking about?"

I narrowed my eyes at her. So she wanted to play bitchy, eh? Alright, two can play at that game. I loved messing with people's heads when the situation called for it. When Temari, with her temper, was about to retort, I caught her eye and shook my head. This one was mine. She paused, before smirking and stepping back with Hinata.

I turned towards the redhead. "I was not aware that you were invited into my private conversation, Obsessed-san."

She glowered at me. "Don't get smart with me, pinky!" she snapped. "Just spill it!"

Aaaand we're back to the hair. Big mistake.

"Nope. I'm not that cruel." Confusion marred her features. "I simply don't have the heart to tell you what she thinks of you. That is just a hit below the belt."

The other girls behind Karin began to get jittery, anxiously whispering amongst themselves. Karin silence them with a glare, before pinning it on me. "What did she say?" she growled.

"Nope. Not telling ya." And to prove my point, I childishly stuck my tongue out at them. "Just how desperately pathetic you all were." Yeah, I wasn't forgiving the jibe about my hair that easily.

Some girls began to wail at my news, many more looking stricken. Karin turned on them and tried to restore some order, with varying amounts of success. I took this opportunity to turn towards my friends to let them know to get ready to run, because what was coming next would make sure we got our exercise.

I turned my attention back towards Karin, who was looking a bit murderous. She stomped towards me and got right in my face. I lifted my arms to put some distance between us, effectively putting her nose to nose with Akamaru who had yet to divulge any clue that he was alive.

"I don't believe you, bitch," she hissed at me. Man, again with the hissing! I scrunched my face in distaste.

"Dude. Tic tac." She looked outraged right before Akamaru's nose twitched and he let out a huge dog snot-filled sneeze right in the middle of her face.

"Gah!" she screeched, flinging herself back as she furiously wiped at he face, her fellow fangirls converging around her trying to help.

I looked at Akamaru, who was grinning ruggedly at me and wagging his tail. He knew the jig was up, but was perfectly content with that. "Huh. You're a pretty good judge of character, aren't you?" I said, remembering he'd also sneezed in the direction of the rude guy we'd bumped into earlier.

"You'll pay for that!" she cried, trying to lunge at me but being held back by her groupies.

I shrugged indifferently, hugging Akamaru to my chest more comfortably and petting him. "Normally, I'd say that to you, but I can already see you're already paying for something. I mean…" I paused for dramatic effect, giving her my best innocent look. "You worship some of the dorkiest, silliest and weird guys in the planet."

At this, every. Single. Fangirl. Pinned me under a steely gaze and bared their teeth at me. Yep. I'd just insulted whatever fantasy they'd had of their idols; to their faces. I grinned widely at them.

"See ya!"

I turned on my heel and, fast as I could, grabbed my two friends and ran as fast as we could to the nearest exit; Felipe trying his best to keep up as a mega mob of outraged fangirls chased us.

"You're crazy!" Temari accused me, but she couldn't hide the manic glint in her eyes telling me she was loving it.

"Aren't we all?"

"Catch them!"

"N-Neji-nii will n-never b-believe it!"

"Burn the witches!"

We burst through the doors of the first exit we found, which luckily was only a few stores down. As we were about to jump into the street to make our getaway, a mega-fancy red and black Porsche screeched to a stop right in front of us.

"Get in!" a familiar female voice commanded us.

We looked behind us, only to find a stampede of furious girls hot on our heels. Without a second thought, we threw ourselves through the car doors and shut them, cramming ourselves awkwardly inside.

The car sped off in the nick of time, for just as the car doors shut, the mob chasing us burst through the exit doors and aimed right for the car. I was shocked momentarily to discover that Felipe had remained behind to act as a defensive human wall; having shoved all of Temari's bags in with us. He was brave, that was for sure.

Once we had put some distance between us and the rabid girls and sat properly, I turned towards our mysterious savior.

"Thank you, miss…?"

Amused hazel eyes caught mine in the rearview mirror. "I did say our paths would cross again soon, Haruno-san."

My jaw dropped. "Konan-san!"

"It is nice to meet you so soon again, Haruno-san, though I cannot say I foresaw the circumstances."

Temari and I shared amazed looks before Hinata, who was riding shotgun, turned back to face us and smiled.

"I didn't have t-the opportunity b-back there, but I can tell you now. K-Konan-san is the manager f-for Akatsuki."

I inwardly groaned and sat back. I was surrounded.

A whine got my attention. I looked down at Akamaru, who was panting and looking damn pleased with himself. Well, it wasn't so bad.

"Where'd the dog come from?" Temari questioned with an interested tone. "He sure did a fine good job back there."

"Long story, tell you later." I cuddled the puppy, who was more than happy to accept the affection and wagged his tail wildly.

"W-where will you keep him?" Hinata asked worriedly. I paused. I hadn't thought that far. I'm pretty sure my hotel doesn't allow dogs.

My hesitation must've been palpable because Konan spoke up. "I have an idea, if you're interested…"

"I'm all ears."

"Well, my charges have more than enough space for themselves. I'm sure one of them wouldn't mind lending their roof for the night."

I considered this for a moment. It made sense. And even if some didn't like dogs, out of the eleven of them, at least one had to be okay with it. Really, what's the worst that can happen?

Damn, I must be more tired than I thought if I just thought that about the Akatsuki.

But it's not like I had much choice. I just hoped that when we meet the band, as there is no doubt that's where we were heading, that Team 7 had left already to go their own way. I really didn't need any more excitement today.

Then again, it's not like fate ever really listens to me. But I can hope.

Nah.

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