Around three months after Weasel's 'death', I woke up planning on going to visit Dolly before hearing Salem yelling up the stairs at me. Making me roll my eyes at his loud voice before his words had even registered.
''Ria! Naruto's at the door!''
I practically raced down the stairs, throwing myself into his arms and glad that he was expecting something like this so he could catch me.
We were both laughing as I pushed myself from his arms, settling my feet on the floor so that I could look up at him, seeing his wide grin as I spoke.
''So what are you doing here?''
He was opening his mouth to reply, but Salem interrupted, his voice scolding.
''Ria, that's rude! You should invite your guests in to sit down before you start questioning them.''
I glanced at his face and noticed that he had stuck his nose into the air, looking down at me reproachfully and causing me to roll my eyes and sigh.
''Fine. Then would you like to come in and sit down, Ruru? I'm sure Salem will then want me to make tea also before I get to satisfy my curiosity.''
Salem shot me a glare, but Naruto shook his head with a grin, speaking quickly.
''Nope! I can't tell you about what we want until I find my friends again. They wanted to be here when I explained everything. I just wanted to let you know that we were coming over.''
I frowned at him and he chuckled, already backing towards the door before his grin turned impish, his eyes shinning happily.
''And can you make us something to eat? I can't tell you the last time I ate, I'm starved! Thanks!''
He was running off before I could reply and I huffed, shaking my head slightly before turning to Salem and seeing him looking at the place where Naruto had just ran from.
''I guess that I had better start cooking.''
He nodded and turned to face me, speaking when he did so.
''I guess so. How many people do you think came with him? He didn't say.''
I shrugged and began to walk towards the kitchen as I spoke, Salem keeping pace with me at my side.
'' I don't know. But if its that perv that came with him before, he's sleeping at Aubry's! I am NOT dealing with that mess in my house for however long they're going to be here.'' Salem laughed and tugged an my hair playfully.
''You could always make him a pallet in the kitchen, and make Sora keep an eye on him. I don't think that anyone would try to cross the giant mutt...no matter if she is as passive as a rabbit.''
Sora was a large Great Dane stray that had wandered into our yard a year before and I didn't have the heart to shoo away the abandoned creature. I had taken her in and she had turned out to be a gentle and affectionate dog. My only problem with her being that she thought that she was a lap dog and that she weighed more than I did. It was slightly hard to breath when she would crawl up to sit on my lap.
I gave Salem a mock scowl before cooing at the large dog that looked up at me from her bed in the corner of the kitchen.
''Poor, Sora. I would never do that to you. Leave you alone with some perv. You would probably jump through a closed window to get away from him, poor thing''
I laughed as she barked in agreement and turned to the chuckling Salem, speaking as he took a chair at the table, Sora coming over to lay her head on his leg.
''I think that I'm going to make some pizzas. They should be quick enough and I bought several pre-packaged crusts the other day. Is there a certain kind that you want?''
He looked thoughtful before nodding and grinning.
''Pepperoni. With extra, extra cheese. You could even make mine last and throw all of the remaining cheese on it.''
I rolled my eyes and smiled slightly, pulling out the ingredients and asking Salem about his opinion on the remaining types of pizza I should make...or how much these ninjas could eat.
Forty-five minutes later and there was still no sign of Naruto, or his group.
The pizzas were finished and to keep them hot I left them on or around the oven, having made eight. From what I remembered of Naruto, he could eat as much as Salem and that would have been an entire pizza on it's own. I wasn't sure if his companions were the same way, but I wanted to be prepared if they were...plus, pizza was a good leftover as well. I could have it for breakfast.
Since we were still waiting, I decided to make some cookies, needing to keep my hands and mind busy so that I wouldn't jump to conclusions or over think the reason as to why Naruto and a group of his ninja friends were coming to my house...I should have probably sent Salem to warn Dolly and the others about the ninjas that were roaming the area, but I had been too busy cooking. I was debating on doing just that, even opening my mouth to holler at Salem when I heard the strange voices coming from the other room.
I paused, trying recognize any of them and I was still listening carefully when Naruto walked into the kitchen, sniffing the air like a dog.
''Mm, that smells really good. What did you make?''
He walked over to the stove, grinning when he saw the pizza and I rolled my eyes before speaking, stopping him from opening the oven to look inside of it.
''It's pizza, and if you get out of the way, I'll pull out the cookies for desert.''
He didn't move and I had to shove him out of the way so I could pull the cookie pan from oven, having shut the door just as Salem walked into the kitchen, a girl with pink hair and a glare on her face following behind him. Her scowl worsened when she saw Naruto, her voice loud and scolding when she spoke.
''Naruto! What are you doing in here? We need to get started.''
Naruto rubbed the back of his neck and laughed nervously, shifting uncomfortably as he answered. It was obvious who was in charge between the two of them. I would have laughed had I known the girl better. Instead, I placed the hot tray I had been holding on the counter, listening to Naruto's apologetic voice.
''Sorry Sakura. I was just checking on the food. I'm really hungry and I know the everybody else is too. It's been ages since we ate.''
I looked at the girl again, recognizing the name. So this was the infamous Sakura. The one with the terrible temper and the one that was so concerned about Sasuke. Dolly had given me some information about her after their fight, being rather impressed with her, which was not something that Dolly typically admitted to...she didn't seem like anything extremely special to me.
knew that she was the present Hokage's apprentice, Naruto's team
mate, and had been irrevocably in love with Sasuke. Which had caused
a nice little love triangle.
Naruto had been infatuated with Sakura, Sakura was in love with Sasuke, and Sasuke had just wanted to be left alone so he could train to kill his brother.
Though, from what Naruto had told me, it seemed as if the younger Uchiha had liked Sakura far more than he had ever let on. Though at the moment, with the way she was screaming at Naruto, I couldn't exactly understand why.
''Why do you always think of food? Even at important times like this, all you can think about is your stomach!''
Her face had become an unattractive shade of red, her hands clenched tightly into fists and I had the brief thought that she looked like she was ready to murder him. In order to save my kitchen floor from any blood stains, I thought that I had better intervene, speaking gently.
'' Alright, how about we eat first, and then you guys can explain to why your here. Like Naruto said: you're all hungry. You're just not blunt enough to say it. And the food IS already finished. It would be a shame for it to get cold, right?''
Sakura had turned her gaze to me when I had started speaking and was now looking at me with a frown, obviously not having noticed me in her anger at Naruto.
She was still just staring at me, making me slightly uncomfortable when Naruto, being the oblivious person that he is, ran to the other room telling his other friends about our plan to eat.
Even with Naruto out of the room, it took her a few seconds to speak, her voice slightly unsure.
''I'm sorry, I don't remember Naruto saying that a girl lived in this house.''
I blinked at her in surprise, I would have thought that Naruto would have at least mentioned me.
''Really? I don't know why he wouldn't. He spent the majority of his time here with me when he visited. But since he skipped over me, can you tell me what he did talk about.''
I wasn't for sure what all Naruto had told this girl and far be it from me to open my big mouth again and create the mess that I had with Ruru. I didn't feel as if this girl would keep my family's lives a secret like the hyperactive blond had promised to do.
Sakura shrugged and frowned, thinking over the things that Naruto had said.
''Well, he mentioned that he spent a lot of his time with a guy called Salem and another called Ri. He also mentioned that they both worked at a club.
And he said something about how some of the workers at this club have the ability to use certain elements, though none of them were ninjas.''
I was holding in my laughter, realizing that Sakura must have just assumed that since Salem was a boy that 'Ri' would be one as well. I wouldn't admit it, but I was slightly pleased that Naruto hadn't actually skipped over me when describing his time here.
''Ah, it seems he just wasn't very clear about the details. Naruto did stay here. And Salem is a guy. But you have the gender of Ri wrong. My name is actually Ria, but there are several people that call me Ri, and Naruto picked up on that nickname. I'm not even sure if he remembers my full name or not now. He's never used it.''
I choked back my laughter as I finished speaking, Sakura's face looking like it would burst into flames with how red she became. It was obvious that she was embarrassed at the mistake and she hesitated a moment before yelling and storming towards the living room, preferring to blame her blond friend for her error rather than herself.
''Naruto! Why didn't you tell me Ri was a girl. I just made a complete fool of myself.''
I shook my head and walked over to the stove, seeing that the red light was still on and realizing that I had forgotten to turn it off when I had pulled the cookies out. When I turned around again, I saw Salem appear out of the shadows where he had apparently been hiding, his voice holding a laugh that he was trying to hide
''Sooo, that's a pretty violent little girl, isn't it?''
I sighed and winced as I heard a loud bang, followed a moment after by Naruto's pleading voice.
''Oh come on, Sakura. I didn't mean it. Why are you getting so mad for?''
There was another 'bang' and I looked back to Salem, my voice filed with sarcasm as I spoke.
''Oh, well this is going to be fun. I always wanted to clean ninja blood out of my carpet. How much stuff do you think they're going to break before they leave?''
Salem snorted and crossed his arms over his chest, playing along with my words even as his evil grin worried me.
''I know, its always been on your wish list. And it gets even better...''
He trailed off and I became even more anxious when he didn't continue.
''Oh no,what is it?''
His grin widened and I knew that it was something bad.
''Well, for one thing, there's a guy in there that is a major perv.''
I groaned, though not finding anything too terrible with that, surely I could handle ONE perv for a few hours. I did at Aubry's on a weekly basis.
Salem nodded and I sighed, hoping that was all of the bad news and he had thought that I would just take it worse than I had.
''Alright. Is there anything else?''
He nodded again, his grin giving him away that this was the information that he thought would bother me.
''Yeah, do you remember the last mission that Die and Sasori went on together?''
I nodded, feeling confused and glad that he continued without me having to guess.
''Well, you know the Kazekage that held the Shukaku spirit...''
I was gaping at him and I swallowed hard before being able to answer, my voice barely above a whisper.
''I think that my life has just gotten very very complicated. Crap! It was bad enough that the Sakura girl was around and would recognize Dolly if he came through the door. But the Kazekage managed to tear off one of Die's arms. And he was actually trying to win that battle. I knew that I should have sent you to tell them to not visit for a while!''
Salem, the jerk, was laughing at my discomfort, causing me to glare at him, my voice now no longer a whisper.
''Oh shut up, Salem! Why? Why me? I'm going to have blood all over the place if Dolly and Die drop in for a visit...not to mention that this house will no longer be standing when Die gets through with it...''
Salem began to laugh harder, tears coming to his eyes and his voice was shaky when he began to speak, finding my discomfort amusing as he usually did.
''Well, would you like to go and meet them or would you rather stay in here and have a pity party?''
I smiled at him irritatingly, crossing my arms over my chest as I answered petulantly.
''Pity party for one, please. That is, unless you would like to join me at La Moping. They serve cheese and wine, and are very famous for their smallest violin collection.''
He gave me a 'you're-an-idiot' look and I sighed dejectedly, my arms falling to my sides as I nodded.
''Fine, lets go meet the perv and the Kazekage. Maybe Die and Dolly will stay away today and our home can survive another day.''
Salem chuckled again and led me through the door, finding a bruised up Naruto sitting on the couch, rubbing his head which now had a very visible knot.
I sighed when I saw the small indent in my walls plaster before turning my attention back to the people the room, hearing a now calm Sakura introduce them to me.
There were three boys and two girls.
Sakura I had already met of course, but she introduced herself all the same, as well as the other girl, calling her Temari.
She was the eldest sibling of two of the boys. Kankuro her middle brother and I could have laughed as I imagined him as a cat who had fallen into a bucket of purple paint.
Their younger brother was Gaara. The Kage that Dolly and Die had stolen from his village.
I would never have expected his appearance, no matter how someone explained it to me, and was beyond startled when we were introduced.
I had been told that he was young, but it had never really hit me that he would be my age. And cute. Really cute. With steady aqua eyes and slightly spiky, blood red hair. It took me a while to drag my eyes from him to the next guy, even after Sakura had moved on.
His name was Sai, and he was the pervert that Salem had mentioned. He was drawing something with ink and I heard Sakura scold him slightly, telling him that he wouldn't have anything to use against an opponent if they met one, and I figured that his jutsu had to do with painting. Well that, or he threw ink into his opponents eyes and ran for his life. Which would probably be one of my favorite techniques to see.
I sighed as I introduced myself and took the seat next to Salem on one of the overly large chairs, refusing to sit next to the ninja's that I had just met and feeling uncomfortable as the room feel into a strained silence.
Naruto was the one to break the awkward silence, not seeming to realize the uneasy aura around everyone as his loud voice echoed around the room.
''So...when are we going to eat?''
I smiled, glad for once that Naruto was still typical Naruto, and thought more with his stomach and not his head. I saw him flinch when Sakura shot him an angry look and felt a small pang of sympathy for my friend before Salem intervened, jumping to his feet and clapping his hands loudly.
''Now. We'll eat now. And after we finish, you can all explain why you're here and what's going on?''
He ushered the ninjas to the kitchen, Naruto running past him and I watched from where I sat, flinching as I heard the plates clattering through the door, hoping that they wouldn't break anything.
I sighed and stood from my chair, mentally preparing myself on being with the ninja's in the small room, and then forgetting all about my unease as Naruto's loud voice carried out through the closed door.
'' Ria! These cookies are great.''
And I was sure that he would devour the whole tray if I left him on his own.