Dancing Dawn

Chapter 7

I groaned, shutting my eyes as I massaged my temples. It hadn't been two full minutes since the Akatsuki arrived, and a headache was already threatening me.

Naruto seemed to notice my distress, for he stepped away from his band and walked towards me, crouching by my chair after he swept his guitar away from his front and onto his back. "Sakura-chan, are you okay?" he asked, concerned. I opened my eyes to look at him, and I was sorely tempted to glare at him. It was his fault the Akatsuki knew my name now; but I opted instead for taking a deep breath and throwing that idea out the window. It wasn't Naruto's fault; he couldn't have known of my little stunt earlier back at the hotel.

"I'm alright, Naruto," I sighed, patting his head like we used to do when we were kids and one of us needed some comfort. "I'm just a little…weary."

"Weary?" he and half of the Akatsuki asked at the same time. Naruto shot a dirty glare at the group for taking the words out of his mouth, and the part of the group that spoke glared right back at him before they all turned their attention back on me. "Is it because of them?" they chorused again, Naruto gesturing at the Akatsuki with a jerk of his thumb while the Akatsuki members jerked their chin at his and the rest of Team 7's direction. The two groups glared at each other again, and I sighed, feeling the headache that had begun to subside come back again.

"Stop copying me!" Naruto demanded.

"You stop copying us, yeah!" Deidara retorted back.

"Why are you even still here, Barbie? Go back to your dream house – I bet Ken's waiting for you!"

"I'm not a woman, yeah! Get it through your thick skull, you meathead!"

"Oh yeah? Why don't you come here and prove me wrong!" By this time Naruto was standing defensively in front of me, glaring daggers at the other blonde who was grinding his teeth, his fists clenched in irritation at his sides. By the look on his face, I'd say he wouldn't mind using those fists either if this continued. The only positive thing I could find in this fiasco was that Naruto had taken the Akatsuki's attention off of me, however unintentional. I made a mental note to thank him and treat him to something nice another time before I stood up and walked between the two murderous-looking blondes.

"Alright, that's enough you two!" I snapped, straightening my arms on either side of me with my palms flat and facing the two boys; my right hand touching Naruto's chest lightly. Naruto always said that my touch had a calming effect on him, and I inwardly cheered when I saw that that remained true as I saw him calm down and relax his stance, although he was still pinning Deidara with a deadly glare. "How old are you guys? Five?" I continued, mildly glaring the two. "Seriously, stop it! You're giving me a headache." They both took a quick look at me before looking down, ashamed. I huffed, and lowered my arms, giving them a quick warning look before sidestepping Naruto and sitting on the chair I was in.

Or that was the plan, at least.

As soon as I stepped past Naruto and turned my back so I could sit, a powerful set of arms yanked me back, making my back collide with a strong chest which rumbled as my captor spoke.

"My angel! My love! I was so worried for you!" Madara gushed, slowly but painfully tightening his hold and crushing my body to his. "I heard some workers in the lower levels mention that Team 7 had brought a guest with pink hair into the building, and my soul rang like a melody, somehow knowing it was you! It rang because it knew you were nearby! But then I realized that you were with them, and I feared for my little flower – and I was right! Oh, you poor, poor creature; to have to endure these fools' presence and nonsense…"

I felt a vein pop in my forehead. First of all, how the hell did he move so fast and without being noticed? I swear I saw him at the back of the Akatsuki, who were a good ten feet away from the studio's entrance. Second of all, who does he think he is to go and grab me like that? Apparently he needs another slap in the face… or a punch. Third of all, he doesn't know me, so why is he acting like he was worried for a priceless artefact? And fourth of all, I did not appreciate my friends being insulted, especially not by some weirdo who was most likely a pedophile or at least had a Lolita complex.

I struggled out of his hold and whipped around, ready to show just what I thought of his behaviour when I felt something touch my waist and I froze, my eyes widening.

Madara smiled grandly, as if nothing was wrong with the world. I felt the thing on my waist, which I now recognized as a hand, move an inch lower to my hip. Madara's smile widened. Oh, hell no. I narrowed my eyes at him, warning him off. He wouldn't dare…

He did.

The son of a bitch lowered his hand a little more, and just before his hand reached my butt, I swung my fist, and swung hard as my anger boiling within me gave me power. "You pervert! I'll teach you to feel me up! SHANNARO!"

Madara disappeared a split second before my fist made the so desired contact with his face, but the momentum was such that my fist kept going and smashed loudly through the door that separated the studio from the rest of the place; effectively and quite literally leaving my fist on the other side of the door through the hole it made, with pieces of wood lying everywhere on the floor.

There was shock-still silence. Nobody dared to make a move or a sound.

I stood there for a few angry seconds, forcing myself to calm down before I slowly pulled my fist out through the door. I didn't look at anyone although I could feel their awed and shocked stares boring into my back. Instead, I checked my hand and was somewhat relieved to see no mayor damage had happened to it aside from tiny little scrapes and a couple splinters I could easily pull out.

I flexed my fingers, stretching the muscles just to make sure nothing had happened to the inner workings of my hand, and all looked fine. The silence remained in the room, and I slowly turned to meet the unsurprisingly quiet bands. I was in control now, so I had my face arranged in a perfectly calm, perfectly composed expression as I looked back at the two rival bands; my half-closed hand still up by my face.

Naruto's mouth opened and closed over and over again, though no sound came out. It made him look like a blue-eyed goldfish; with the golden locks thing going on. Finally, after some more gaping, he managed to splutter, "Holy crow, Sakura-chan! Are you okay?" I nodded. "Damn, I knew that you got stronger with time, but I didn't realize that much stronger!"

Everyone looked at him with questioning looks, and he explained for me. "Sakura-chan has been training in martial arts since little, and she's always been freakishly strong. Once she cracked a baseball bat because she lost a game and in her anger smacked the bat on the concrete sidewalk. I think the sidewalk still has the dent."

"And you know this…" Zetsu spoke up, "why?"

Naruto stuck his tongue out at him. "None of your beeswax," he answered. He looked at me, then at the hole in the door, then at me again before shaking his head. "Damn, you were strong enough before. I was kind of hoping you wouldn't get that much stronger… But at least you didn't hurt the wall behind the door! With that much power, I'm sure it would be easy for you."

I stared at him awkwardly before glancing at my fist, then at the door. I slowly pulled the door back to reveal that I had, indeed, also punched through the wall. It wasn't a gaping hole like on the door, but a nicely deep dent with spider cracks surrounding it in the shape of my fist was clearly visible.

I glanced back at the guys, as an even more awkward and shocked silence took place.

Deidara, who looked like all the blood in his face had suddenly evacuated the zone, suddenly got a whole lot paler; while Kakashi's one visible eye was as big as a dinner plate. Sai, Sasuke, Itachi, Kakuzu and Pein were the most composed of all the guys, merely widening their eyes, raising their eyebrows up to their hairlines, and their lips slightly parted as if their jaws had become unhinged but they had stopped them from hitting the floor through raw willpower. Sasori looked amazed, his lazy half-lidded eyes suddenly fully opened and alert with a pleasant smirk on his boyish face, Kisame had his mouth opened wide as and his eyes held shock but also respect, his arms limp by his sides.

"Damn, Pinky. Remind me to never anger you," he said.

Hidan looked at me like I was some sort of fallen angel sent to Earth exclusively for him (or at least that's what I thought by the expression on his face – it was kind of psychotic). The fact that Tobi, who looked positively terrified, had jumped into his arms and was holding on to him by the neck and Hidan hadn't dropped him in a heartbeat said something. Zetsu looked kind of dumbfounded, silently whispering to himself. I imagine his two personalities were gossiping about me. I'm not sure how to feel about that.

Kakuzu, meanwhile, was glaring at the twin holes as if by just doing that they would disappear. When they didn't, he moodily muttered, "Those things are expensive…"

"Why the fuck do you care, stitch-face?" Hidan asked. "You're not the bloody one paying for it."

Kakuzu pinned Hidan under his glare. "It's a complete and unnecessary waste of money. The fact bothers me."

"Suck it up, you greedy bastard." Kakuzu looked like he wanted to punch a hole through Hidan's head, but refrained from doing so.

I flexed my fingers once more, slowly, and a couple cracks popped from my knuckles; the noise sounding ten times louder in the shock-filled silence. "So," I casually said, still looking at them, "where did that molester disappear to?"

It took a second for my words to sink in, and when they did they all looked at a place on the floor a few feet to my left. I followed their gaze and there, sprawled on the floor tied by a bunch of little string toys like yo-yo's, tops, silly string and yarn, was Madara, holding the side of his head with a dazed expression.

"My love…" he breathed, "what exquisite display of strength…! Truly, you are my ideal woman. But love, you might want to get a little control on that fist of yours. You almost got me, the man of your dreams!"

I raised an eyebrow at him, not sure if he had hit his head on the way down or if he was just an idiot. A perverted idiot, but an idiot nonetheless. I stepped away from him and returned my attention towards the other guys, giving them an is-he-serious look. Team 7 shrugged, looking at Madara as if he was insane which he probably was at some level, while the Akatsuki shrugged and shook their heads. They didn't need words to tell me he was a hopeless case.

"Oh, Sasori," Madara called, gingerly holding on to the wall as he tried to stand up. "Thank you for getting me out of the way, man. That was a close call."

I looked at Sasori, who once more took up that tired look of boredom as he crossed his arms. "I didn't do it for you, Madara. I did it for the doll-face." I twitched at the nickname, but he had me curious. How had saving Madara from my wrath help me?

Sasori, as if reading my thoughts, sent me a tiny smirk before explaining. "You're an idol, Madara. Your face is as important to the band as your actual musical skills are; if not more. If I let the doll over there hit you, as much as I would've loved to see that, she would have to answer to a lot of lawsuits from the record label, the paparazzi would've ruined her by exaggerating what happened even if we did try to cover it up, and even if the paparazzi published exactly what happened, the doll would have to answer to quite literally a world of fan girls." A collective shudder went through the group at the mention of fan girls. God, those girls had problems. Most were harmless, but people are kind of afraid of them is for a reason. Some were plainly bat-shit insane, pardon the language.

"So you see, Madara," Sasori continued. "I frankly couldn't care less about what happened to you; in fact, I would very much enjoy watching you get the beating you're due and even applaud whoever did it, but I won't let doll-face here pay the price for your stupidity."

I blinked. Wow. Sasori wasn't as quiet as the Uchihas or Pein, but he wasn't very talkative either. It was amazing to hear him say so much just to come to my defence, all the while putting Madara in his place. I think Tobi is not the only Akatsuki member I can tolerate any more.

Speaking of Tobi, Hidan had realized that he was carrying the childish man in a princess carry and unceremoniously dropped him on the hardwood floor, making the young Uchiha yelp on impact while the albino was swearing something about parasites, disgusting idiots, pansies and a man-child with quite a few colourful words in between every other word as he walked away, furiously wiping his hands on his pants. I shook my head at him and walked over to Tobi, who was whimpering as he rubbed his behind.

"Are you alright, Tobi-kun?" I asked. Tobi froze on the spot and shot his face up, looking intently at me. Then, a second later, he launched at me once again, this time wrapping his arms around my neck and pulling me down with him as he bawled. "Hidan-senpai is so mean to Tobi! What did Tobi do? Tobi is a good boy, but Hidan-senpai hurt Tobi anyway!"

I sighed at patted Tobi on the back, awkwardly returning his embrace. I say awkwardly because he's a grown man who's crying like a baby for something so insignificant (although I'll admit he's kind of cute), because he was hugging me, and because its weird that he has the mind of a child but has the body of a grown man! Seriously, he may not be holding on to me as tightly as Madara was, but I could the muscles on his arms, shoulders and back. Damn.

"Hey, hey, hey!" Naruto interrupted. "Get off of Sakura-chan! We were just about to show her something!"

Tobi sniffed and turned towards Naruto, but he didn't let go of me. Before he could say something, another voice cut in.

"What were you going to show her?" he politely asked. I turned my head as much as I could to see who had spoken, but Tobi's hold on me prevented me from seeing much out of my peripheral vision. I guessed that by the rich smoothness of it and quiet politeness that it was Pein.

"We were going to play something for her," Sai answered. "That is, until you lot barged in uninvited."

"Ah," Pein answered, and I could imagine him nodding his head sagely. "I apologize for the interruption, but we simply were glad to see our little dancer here after our visit was cut short this morning."

I jumped out of Tobi's arms and fixed the orange-haired leader with a look bordering between confusion and paranoia. How the hell did he know I was a dancer? I'm pretty sure I didn't mention that this morning. I went through the conversation in my mind, and I assured myself that I was right. In that case, how did he find out? My eyes narrowed in suspicion before they snapped open in horror. Had I just earned myself a celebrity stalker? By talking to him? I fervently hoped not.

Pein, either not noticing my little panic attack or choosing to ignore it, kept talking. "If you do not mind, my band and I are interested in listening to your group. We know that we are rivals, but we have never heard you play live, and I am most curious to hear how you sound. Plus if I am correct, you were going to play your new single, were you not? Since my band and I were overseas for a while, we have yet to hear it. Would you mind if we stayed for the performance? We'll leave afterwards."

Team 7 shared a look, silently debating if they should let the Akatsuki in on my private concert. Naruto's face clearly showed his displeasure, as he had set this up for me and me solely as a surprise, but Kakashi seemed to think it was a good idea while Sasuke looked determined to play in front of the Akatsuki, sparing Itachi a brief look. I sense some sibling rivalry here… In the meantime, Sai just looked confused, but his smile had returned even though it was obviously fake.

The four continued to silently debate the issue, Kakashi and Sasuke trying to convince Naruto to do it while the blonde adamantly refused, and Sai couldn't seem to pick a side. I glanced at the Akatsuki, who were for the most part waiting patiently for an answer.

I heard Naruto sigh irritably before muttering, "but this was supposed to just be for Sakura-chan…" I felt my calm façade slip as my heart went out for my childhood friend. He had gone through so much trouble to prepare this for me, only to have it ruined by some uninvited guests.

"Think about it, dobe," Sasuke urged him. "Having them interested in watching us means we've upped our game. They are seeing us as true rivals, they're recognizing us as actual talents and idols. This is our chance to prove ourselves."

"Sasuke's right," Kakashi added. "This is a great opportunity. It's unfortunate that it happened the way it did and messed up your plans, but it's fortunate in the sense that it happened when all of us are here and ready. Besides, Sakura can listen too, so you'll still be giving her a concert."

Naruto scowled. "Sasuke, you just want to compete with your brother, and Kakashi, it's not the same."

"Why not ask Sakura?" Sai suggested. "The concert was meant for her. She should choose if she wants it to be private or if she doesn't mind sharing."

All eyes turned towards me, and I inwardly cursed Sai. It was a good idea since they had come to a stalemate on the decision, but it sucked that they had to pin it all on me. On one hand, if I chose the private concert then Naruto would be happy and I would be rid of the Akatsuki. However, Kakashi and Sasuke wouldn't be too thrilled although I knew them enough to know that they wouldn't complain; not to mention that I felt kind of bad for telling the Akatsuki flat-out that I didn't want them there. One thing is to tell them what you think of them (like Hidan, the foul-mouthed narcissist, and Madara the idiotic pervert), another is to throw them out like a plague. Plus, who's to say they wouldn't be waiting for me later? I wouldn't put it past some of them to try.

On the other hand, if I allowed the Akatsuki to stay, Naruto's hard work would've been cut down in value and he would be unhappy, even though Kakashi and Sasuke probably wouldn't be. Also, the Akatsuki would be focusing on them, not me, so I would still get my concert and be left in peace. Plus who knows, if they stayed here then maybe their work would be delayed and they wouldn't be able to wait for me. Either way, Sai didn't care and someone would be hurt by my decision even if that someone didn't say anything.

Option number two sounds very nice, but that's me being selfish because that's the option that would hurt Naruto.

Crap, this sucks.

I sighed, looking up at Naruto. His eyes showed me he understood my problem, and he reluctantly backed off and relaxed, letting out a long breath. I mouthed to him "I'm sorry," darting my eyes towards the Akatsuki very quickly to let him know why I was deciding on that choice and he nodded, giving me a small grin.

"I don't mind if the Akatsuki stay…" I started hesitantly. "So long as they don't try what Uchiha did and focus on Team 7."

Itachi spoke up then. "You do realize that there are three Uchihas in the band, right?"

I looked at him. "Yes, but for me Tobi Uchiha is Tobi-kun so that counts him out. And you are Uchiha-san to me, so the only Uchiha is that pervert over there."

"You wound me, love! You wound me deeply!" Madara cried, clutching his shirt over his heart. "But that's okay, because I love you."

I raised an eyebrow at him before giving Itachi a pointed look. "I refuse to address him in a respectful manner by adding '-san' to his name. Calling him by his surname is as far as I go in the respectful scale."

He nodded, accepting my reasoning and dropping the subject while Madara sniffed loudly.

Pein stepped forward. "We are honoured and grateful that you have allowed us to watch," he said, bowing slightly at Team 7 and at me. "I give you my word as the band leader that the Akatsuki will behave accordingly." As if to prove his point, he looked over his shoulder at his band, and the members gave him tiny nods even though his facial expression was unchanged. Man, he sure held a lot of power. Even Madara and Hidan nodded their agreement.

"Alright then," Kakashi clapped his hands. "Boys, got finish setting up. Akatsuki, you may stay here in the control room to watch, but I'm afraid we only have four chairs available."

Team 7 shuffled back into the recording room with their instruments to do as Kakashi said, Naruto throwing back a worried glance at me before turning back after I sent him a reassuring smile. Huh. You would think that I would be the one who needed reassurance. But I trusted Pein and I knew I could count on his word and his ability to control his band members.

I shrugged my shoulders, taking a seat in the middle of the control room. Too late I realized my mistake; there were two chairs on either side of me, meaning two places where one of my least favourite Akatsuki members could sit. I inwardly cursed, and was about to change seats when the Akatsuki took them. I was trapped.

I looked to my right and there was Deidara, sitting between me and a working Kakashi, giving me a cheerful smile. I smiled back at him, relieved. I liked Deidara enough. I looked to my left and found Itachi sitting there, elegantly sitting back as his crossed his ankle over his knee. Over his shoulder, I could see Madara fuming at him, though Itachi paid him no mind as he simply looked at me and raised an elegant eyebrow slightly as if asking me "is this okay?" I nodded and beamed at him. I didn't know him very well, but he had been nothing short of a gentleman. That was good enough for me.

Beside Itachi, on the last chair, was surprisingly Zetsu. I'm not sure why I was surprised, but I was. Maybe it's because he's so quiet but his presence isn't as boisterous as that of the other members. Whatever the case, I didn't mind him either. He nodded once in my direction before turning his attention towards the Team 7 on the other side of the glass, who were just finishing setting up. Naruto stood to the left, slightly in front and close to the center in the lead singer's place with a tall mike stand in front of him. Sasuke was back behind the drums, testing the tension of the membranes, and Sai was tuning his bass guitar, a piano placed before him. Both dark-haired boys had microphones on stands by their mouths, although their microphones were slightly smaller than Naruto's. I found myself eager to find out what would happen; what kind of music my goof of a friend had put together.

All of a sudden I felt exactly how cool my position here, watching Team 7 perform live for me was, and sitting in the recording studio to boot. My adrenaline was shooting up! The band seemed to have finished setting up their instruments, and placed thick earphones over their ears.

"We're ready," Sasuke's voice sounded in the control room as Naruto shot us a thumbs up.

"Alright, testing mikes," answer Kakashi, and he flipped a couple switches before turning some knobs. All three boys from the band took turns talking into their phones, Kakashi adjusting each mike accordingly until he was satisfied with the volume, clarity, echo, and resonance. He nodded once and flashed the boys a thumbs up. "Okay, guys. You're good to go. On my count. Ready?" The boys nodded, taking their positions. Kakashi pressed a button, and a soft ticking beat became audible.

"Five…six…five, six, seven, eight!"

Sai pressed on the keys of his piano, the sound resembling that of an organ but no quite as deep and more electronic. He started with a medium note, going up and holding it for two beats, and softly dropping it thrice for two beats each, each beat a note lower than the last.

"Cold as ice," Sai sang as Sasuke picked up the beat with his drums, throwing a beat resembling a heart beat but not quite. "And more bitter than a December. Winter night…That's how I treated you."

"And I know that I," Sasuke continued, "I sometimes tend to lose my temper… And I cross the line. Yeah, that's the truth."

"I know it get hard sometimes," Sai sang as he dropped the piano and played his bass guitar, the drum's tempo changing into a single, powerful beat of pum, pum pum, "But I could never… Leave your side, no matter what I say…" Sasuke beat his drums, giving the song momentum before slamming them loudly in a single pum, throwing the song into its chorus.

"`Cause if I wanted to goo, I would've gone by now, but" Naruto sang, "I really need you near me…! I can't, keep my mind off the edge… If I wanted to leave, I would've left by now, but you're, the only one that knows me… better than I know myyseeellllff!"

My eyes bulged. I didn't know Naruto could hit the high notes.

"All along," Sasuke continued, "I tried to pretend it didn't matter, if I was alone. But deep down I know-oowow…"

"If you were gone," the three chorused.

"For even a day I would know which way to turn. `Cause I'm lost without you."

"I know it gets hard sometimes," Sai picked up the bridge, his bass resounding and the drums again began their rhythm: pum, pum, pum. "But I could never… Leave your side, no matter what I say…!"

The drums picked up again, and exploded simultaneously with Naruto's voice. "`Cause if I wanted to goo, I would've gone by now, but, I really need you near me…! I can't, keep my mind off the edge… If I wanted to leave I would've left by now, but you're, the only one that knows me… better than I know myyssseeeeelllff!"

Sai played a few notes on his piano, the sound no longer that of an organ but that of a normal piano. The gentle melody sounded like it was trying to calm itself down; it was gentle and agitated, fighting against sadness.

"I get kind of dark," Naruto quietly sang, letting his voice drift and making his part stand out from the rest of the song. It sounded almost as if he was sorry…lonely…pleading. "Let it go too far… I can be obnoxious at times, but try and see my heart."

"`Cause I need you now," Sai and Sasuke joined him.

"So don't let me do-own… You're the only thing in this world, I would die without!" The music picked up again, more powerful than ever. "Cause if I wanted to goo…!" Naruto held the note while the two picked up the chorus.

"I would've gone by now, but I, really need you near me! I can't…"

"Keep my mind off the edge…!" Naruto joined them, and together they sang.

"If I wanted to leave I would've left by now, but you're, the only one that knows me…Better than I know myssseeeellff! `Cause if I wanted to go, I would've gone by now, but I, really need you near me, I,"

"Can't keep my mind off the edge..!" Naruto held the high note, long and despairing while Sai and Sasuke kept singing in harmony.

"If I wanted to leave I would've left by now, but you're, the only one that knows me…"

All three took a deep breath and together they finished. "Better than I know myyssseeelff." They let the last word linger as it fell, the drums and guitars falling mute as Sai played his piano for the last time, once again the sound sounding similar to that of an electric organ's, falling and fading into nothingness.

The entire floor was silent as we all processed the magic of music we had just been privy to. I forgot about everyone else as I focused on the feeling of exhilaration that listening to the band had given rise within me, my heart beating loudly with emotion as I perched on the edge of my seat. It was… I don't know how to describe it. Amazing. Wonderful. Awesome.


"And that's a wrap," Kakashi called through a small mike of his own as he pressed some more buttons and turned some more knobs. I didn't listen, as I was still too wrapped up in what I had just felt with Team 7's song.

Naruto, looking up to the ceiling with his eyes closed with a slightly melancholy expression on his face, took a deep breath and let it out, catching my eye. We both looked intently at each other, and slowly, twin grins crept up our faces. Quickly removing his guitar and placing it on its stand along with his mike, the he rushed to the door and opened it.

"How did you like it, Sakura-chan?" he asked with his foxy grin as he pushed past Zetsu and Itachi to crouch by my seat, his eyes twinkling.

"Oh Naruto," I gushed, throwing my arms around him as I gave him the biggest hug I could muster. "It was amazing! Fabulous! I've never witnessed something like it!" Naruto laughed, standing up and picking me up with him with ease.

"I'm glad to hear that!"

"Trust us, so are we," Sai said, coming out form the room. "Dickless had us practicing like maniacs these past four days just so we could give you the best performance possible."

"And it worked," Kakashi happily said, clicking a few more buttons and looking at a computer. "That was one of you guy's best performances. And, seeing that that was your new song, the recording is now complete."

I gasped. "You mean this is the first time you guys play that song?"

"Yep!" Naruto chirped. I felt my eyes water slightly; I was so touched, and so honoured that Naruto would let me be the first person to hear his band's single. I squealed and attached myself to the blonde once again before letting him go and giving each member of Team 7 a hug.

"You guys are the best!" I exclaimed as I released Kakashi and embraced a startled Sai, who confusedly patted me on the back. "This is the best day ever!"

"Hn," Sasuke hummed as I gave him his hug. He didn't do anything but stand there and let me hug him, but seeing the looks of bewilderment on the others' faces told me that was more than was expected from him. I beamed.

"I'm truly, truly grateful to you guys," I said as I bowed towards the group. "This was fantastic!"

"I'm glad you liked it, Sakura-chan," Naruto beamed back at me as he wrapped an across my shoulders.

"Hmm. Now we can clearly see why you guys are the top of the company," Pein said. "We sincerely congratulate you, Team 7, you indeed have exceptional talent." Team 7 bowed their heads in recognition of the praise.

"However, yeah," Deidara said as jumped up beside me, leaning casually on my free shoulder. "We would like to invite Sakura-chan to watch us perform, yeah."

I sniffed."That's Haruno-san to you."

"Haruno Sakura? That's a nice name," Sasori commented, and I cursed. Now they knew exactly who I was.

"Thank you," I answered back courtly.

"How about it, Pinky?" Kisame shot me his toothy smile. "Wanna watch us perform? There is a reason why we're the number one talent around."

"Yeah, bitch," Hidan added. "Let us show you how real men do it." I heard Naruto growl, and I wrapped my arm around his waist as I shook my head.

"That's okay," I said. "That's enough excitement for one day for me."

"Aw, come on, yeah," Deidara pouted. "You watched them perform."

"They are my friends and they invited me."

"We're inviting you, and are we not your friends?" Itachi asked.

"Yes, you're inviting me, but no, you're not my friends. I've known you for what? A little more than an hour?"

"Don't be such a prude," Kakuzu rudely commented. "We're inviting you. You should be honoured. Do you know how much a normal performance costs? We're offering you a private performance!"

I glared at him. "Your attitude, mister, is a problem. That, and the fact that there's a pervert in your group."

"You see, you perv? You're not wanted here. Shame on you!" Madara lectured Sasori, who smacked him in the back of the head, hard.

"If I'm the pervert, I'd hate to know what that makes you," the redhead muttered disdainfully.

Sakura-chan doesn't want to see Tobi?" Tobi sniffed, on the brink of crying. I inwardly groaned. How could I say no to him? I'd have no problem doing it if he was a normal guy, but no, he had to be the child. Children are my weakness, which is why I took up teaching dance to them.

I sighed. "I'll watch you, Tobi. But not tonight. It's late, and I have work to do."

Everyone looked at the clock hanging on the wall above the glass that divided the control room from the performance room. It was indeed late; it was 7:07 pm.

I turned towards Naruto. "Tonight was great, Naruto. Thank you."

"Anything for you, Sakura-chan," he smiled. "I'll take you back, just give me a few minutes to help clean up."

"That won't be necessary," Pein spoke. "We can take her back."

Sasuke narrowed his endless obsidian-black eyes at them. "How do you know where she's staying?" he questioned.

Zetsu answered. "Simple, little Uchiha. We're staying at the same hotel as her."

"WHAT!" Naruto yelled.

The tension in the room skyrocketed as Team 7 (mainly Naruto) glared fiercely and protectively at the Akatsuki, who glared back (except for the 'cool' guys like Pein, Sasori, Itachi and Kakuzu who just shot him annoyed looks).

Aw, man. And my headache had just disappeared too.

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