woke up again at eleven, Naruto and Salem banging on my door and
demanding that I either get up and make some food, or allow them to
use my kitchen. Something that I had no intention of ever
doing again. Several incidents with the two of them making a mess and
almost burning down the house with their 'experiments' causing me to
give up on sleep rather than deal with something similar again.
I yelled through the door as I pulled on my clothes for the day, asking about what they wanted to eat and had gotten a mixed reply of waffles and spaghetti. A strange combination, but I wasn't going to judge.
By the time that I had opened the door, both boys had already scurried away and I found them both in the kitchen, already setting out the plates. Meaning that they were extremely hungry, since neither usually helped me unless I asked them to.
I shrugged and walked towards the cabinets, pulling out the ingredients and seeing Salem's grin as he finished with the table and turned towards me, his voice teasing.
''So, how was your run in with the perv last night?''
I shot him a glare, realizing that he must have went to let Sora inside and witnessed that whole seen.
'' Well I figure you saw most of it, so you tell me.''
Salem was trying hard to not laugh, his face tinged red, but Naruto ruined it by laughing himself, Salem losing control of his giggles and joining in soon after.
I huffed at them for a moment, fighting off my own laughter before finally giving up and joining in. I just couldn't help it. They both just had that contagious laughter and truthfully, had it been Salem in my place the night before, I would have teased and laughed at him as well.
We were still laughing when the other ninjas walked into the kitchen, apparently deciding to find some food, Sai the last one through the door. I tried to calm my laughter, not wanting to answer any questions, but the two boys didn't have the same thought. Instead, their laughter increased when they saw Sai, Naruto falling to the floor as he held his side and Salem having sunk into a chair, his head resting on his folded arm on the table.
I was still unable to force back a few snickers of my own, leaning against the stove as I prepared the food and ignored the confused looks of the other ninjas.
After Salem had calmed slightly, Sakura asked about what we had found so funny and Salem had simply grinned at her, bringing up his index finger and placing it over his lips.
''It's a secret. We can't tell you.''
She frowned and he turned to me, his conspiratorial grin still in place.
''How long until we can eat? All that laughing made me hungry...er.''
I rolled my eyes as Naruto quickly agreed from his place on the floor and I gave them an absurd time, hearing their groans as I returned to making our food...I was hungry as well now.
A week after my run in with Sai, Salem and I were scheduled to go into work.
The ninjas had been more than a bit antsy and had been training the full day, having taken sandwiches with them for their lunch. Neither Salem or I had been able to get to Weasel, the ninjas seeming to watch our movements far more closely than I wanted, even volunteering to go with me to the market to buy food.
I had tried to sneak out once, a few days before, while they were training, but had been caught by Sakura, the girl having come back to get some water and I had given up on trying to leave again that day.
For some reason the girl was suspicious of me, seeming to watch me more carefully than she did Salem. I wasn't for certain, but I believe that she had a small feeling of jealousy about how well Naruto and I seemed to get along. From what he had told me, he didn't really have a lot of female friends in Konoha and I suppose that it was only natural for Sakura to be slightly possessive and protective of the boy.
I shook my head and went to my room, needing to look more put together than I had during the past week. I just didn't see the point in dressing in anything than my raggedy clothes when I was just lounging around the house...I did change into jeans and a nice shirt when I had gone shopping.
I shrugged and decided to take a quick shower before pulling on my, for the moment, clean uniform, knowing that it wouldn't be that way by the end of the night and dried my hair before taking the time to search for my shoes.
If there was something that I always seemed to misplace, it was my shoes. Sometimes I think that they just walk off by themselves and they were always the things that took me the most time to find during my working days...well, that and my hair. Which I would eventually need to find Salem so that he could tear a brush through the tangles.
As I was looking for both Salem and my shoes, both seeming to have disappeared, I lost track of time, needing to be at Aubry's at four and not realizing until it was twenty till, that I had spent over an hour looking for my A.W.O.L. housemate and misplaced shoes...meaning that, with messy hair and without my shoes, I was leaving.
I grabbed a pair of my tennis shoes from my closet, knowing that Aubry would comment on them if he saw them and pulled my still damp hair into a messy ponytail before rushing out of the back door, meeting Naruto on my way out and stopping him for a moment.
''Hey, if you see Salem will you tell him to look for my shoes? They always seem to appear for him.''
Naruto nodded and frowned slightly.
''Sure. Do you want me to walk with you to Aubry's?''
I rolled my eyes and shook my head.
''I think I'll be fine by myself. It's not like it's that far and I'm a big girl, I can normally take care of myself, you know.''
He smiled and nodded, rolling his own eyes.
'' Yeah, I know that. Have fun, Ri. We'll see you in a little bit.''
I smiled and nodded, watching him walk into the house before sprinting towards Aubry's. I would have to run the entire way or I would be seriously late.
As it was, I ran through the door right on time, breathing hard as I looked around, seeing which people already filled the room.
Misa and Mona were there, standing at the back of the room and talking quietly, while Yuki, Suki and Jagur were all absent. That wasn't anything new for the first two, both always fashionably late even for work, but it was strange that Jagur wasn't around, the boy typically being here when Aubry first unlocked the doors...though Aubry could have sent him on an errand. I shrugged and walked towards the two girls in the back, Misa tackling me in a hug when she noticed me.
''Ria, hiii! How are you? Salem was here earlier and he said that Naruto came back, but this time he brought a couple of his friends with him and that they were all staying at your house? He also said that one of them was a major pervert and already made a pass at you.''
I rolled my eyes and smiled good naturedly. If you didn't have much to say, Misa was always the girl to have with you to fill the silence. Sometimes it was hard to get a word in between her ramblings.
'' Yeah, we have a house full of ninjas and one was dumb enough to hit on me, though after our run in, he's been shooting me more hostile looks than spouting anymore pick up lines. Can I ship him off to yours and Mona's house before he finishes planning my murder?''
Misa laughed and Mona smiled, shrugging her shoulders.
''Sure, send him over. I can handle pervs pretty well. Most of the time they're really funny.''
I shook my head, wrinkling my nose slightly as I answered, almost serious.
''Coolness. I might see if he'll go for that. Although Misa may not be too happy about that arrangement.''
I looked back at her and she grinned.
''Not really, but we could switch places. I would come stay at your house and he would go stay with Mona. It would be fun!''
I laughed, almost agreeing with her.
'' But then you would leave poor Mona all by herself with a pervert. Would that be alright?''
Mona gasped, her hand against her chest.
''Thank goodness! I might actually get some alone time, without anyone trying to crawl into my bed and CUDDLE. Finally!''
There was a startled silence for a moment before we all started laughing, neither Misa or I taking her seriously and Mona joining in after a moment, finding her own joke funny.
When we had calmed, Misa turned towards me, seeming to have calmed down a bit after being around me for a little while.
''So are your peoples going to be here tonight? It would be nice to meet all of them.''
''I think so. They were still planning on it the last time I saw them, but something could have come up between then and opening time.''
Misa pouted, slightly disappointed and Mona huffed playfully, trying to get her happy mood back.
''Yeah, Misa, these people have lives you know! Gosh!''
Misa made an indignant noise and opened her mouth to reply, but was interrupted when Yuki and Suki, or secretly known as the 'whore bunnies', walked through the doors. They laughed loudly, the noise echoing across the room, and I had the brief thought that if they had been standing any closer that my eardrums might have busted.
Mona sighed and I turned my attention away from the twins as she spoke, her voice lowered slightly so that she wouldn't be overheard.
''Great, just what I needed. Two giggly bunnies for target practice. Where do we keep the butcher knives again?''
I laughed at the sarcasm in her voice before shrugging.
''I don't know, but if you need help getting rid of the bodies, give me a call.''
She grinned evilly and nodded.
''Sure thing, Ria. Do you know of a place where they wont be found?''
I was about to answer when Mona's sudden tensing told me that the twins were walking towards us without me even having to look, Misa plastering a polite smile on her face and greeting the girls when they came to a stop beside us, Suki speaking first as she tossed her long hair.
''So, how was everyone's night last night?''
They didn't give us time to reply, Yuki laughing loudly and speaking just as loudly.
''Ours was great. We met these really cute guys at a party. They were ninjas from one of the villages nearby. I can't remember their names though.''
She turned to her sister, faking a small pout.
''Do you remember their names?''
Suki shook her head and grinned widely.
'' No, and it doesn't really matter. They were cute, but they're gone now, so it's time to focus on other guys. Oh, and a few cute ones just walked into the door.''
I looked uninterested over to the door and sighed when I saw who it was that had just caught their attention.
Salem had just led the group of ninjas inside and the Bunnies didn't waste any time on making their way over to them and causing me to sigh. If they messed with these guys heads like they liked to normally do, there would be problems. For the moment, these ninjas were my responsibility and I would have to step in before things go too out of control... though I wasn't exactly sure what I would have to do to keep things from getting messy.
I was still glaring icily at the flirting twins, thinking about my options when Misa began speaking, drawing my attention back to her.
''Are those the ninjas that are staying at your house?''
I nodded and slowly pointed out the ninjas to both her and Mona.
''Yeah. The pink haired girl is Sakura. The boy with black hair that's wearing the shirt that doesn't cover his stomach is Sai. The blond girl with the ponytails is Temari, the guy with the purple paint on his face that kinda looks like a cat is her brother Kankuro, and the guy with red hair is Gaara, their younger brother. And of course you've already met Naruto.''
Misa nodded, her forehead wrinkling as she tried to memorize what names went with which face as Mona spoke.
''Are they all from the same village? They seem to all be pretty close.''
I shook my head, keeping my attention halfway on the twins that were now pressing themselves against Sai's and Kankuro's arms while I answered Mona's question.
''No, Temari, Kankuro and Gaara are all from the sand village. Gaara is actually the Kazekage of that particular village.''
Misa looked at me confused, not having heard this term before.
''Okay, you can tease me later for not knowing, but what is a Kazekage?''
Mona sighed but answered anyways.
''A 'Kage' is someone that rules over the hidden ninja villages. The Kage that rules over the Leaf Village is called the Hokage, and the Kage that rules over the sand village is called the Kazekage.''
She paused for a second, her gaze looking over the group of ninjas before she returned her attention to me and spoke with a smile.
''So, is Sai the perv you were talking about?''
I nodded emphatically, still only half teasing when I spoke.
''Yap. And if you want him, you are more than welcome to take him home with you.''
She smiled impishly and crossed her arms over her chest, her eyes again looking over the ninja as she spoke.
''I might just do that. He's actually kinda cute, but...do you know what happened to his arm?''
I had been looking at her with a scowl, wondering about her taste in guys when her question about his arm caused me to turn and look at him more closely than I had since the incident on the stairs.
There was a bandage wrapped around his hand that I was sure hadn't been there before and was about to shrug it off and tell her that he had probably hurt himself during training, but stopped as a sudden thought came to my mind, my voice surprised as I answered her.
''You know, I think that Sora might have bitten him.''
Mona gave me a you-have-got-to-be-joking look, her voice as surprised as mine had been
''Your little fufu dog actually bit someone?''
I nodded, snickering slightly as I suddenly found the whole situation funny.
''Yeah. She had blood on her mouth and I was wondering where she had gotten it from. I guess now I know. Apparently she's got more of an attitude than I thought she did.''
Mona huffed her voice dripping in sarcasm while she shook her head.
''Well that's just nice. The huge fufu dog running around and trying to tear off some cute guys hand.''
I smiled and looked over to where I had last seen the ninjas, finding that the twins had seemed to decide that Kankuro and Sai were easy targets and had focused most of their attention onto the two boys, completely ignoring the girl ninjas.
I turned back to Mona, giving her a lopsided smirk.
''Well, if you want to talk to him before Yuki sinks her claws in, you had better get over there. I can already tell that she's starting to play her mind games.''
Mona glared at them from across the room before grabbing Misa's wrist, speaking as she tugged the passive girl along behind her.
''Come on, Misa. Let's go talk to the ninjas.''
I giggled softly as I saw the twins shoot a glare towards the other girls as they took the boys' attention away from them, Mona seeming to catch Sai's interest easily, while Misa started up a conversation with Kakuro, who had shoved his hood off of his head and was showing off his messy hair.
I glanced at the others, seeing that Sakura was being a good friend and instantly placed herself between Naruto and the twins before they could decide that he was an easier target than Sai and Kankuro had become.
I frowned when I noticed that a certain red headed Kazekage wasn't anywhere to be found in the group and scanned the room for him and not finding him. I knew that he had come in with the others, though it could have been possible that he had left as soon as the Bunny Twins had pounced. He didn't seem the type to enjoy that type of attention.
I was preparing myself to walk over and simply ask Temari where her youngest brother had gone when I caught a small flash of red from the darkest corner of room, having to look hard before I could make out the form of the unsociable Kage.
I bit my lip hard to keep from laughing and after making sure that the twins weren't looking my way, walked over to him, able to see his expression better when I was in the shadows with him.
It was obvious that he wasn't enjoying his time, his shoulders hunched and his jaw clenched tightly as his eyes darted around and the slowly growing crowd of people.
He didn't look at me, and I thought that he might be so lost in his discomfort that he might not have noticed me and began speaking gently.
''This is a good hiding place when your trying to disappear from fawning twins.''
I hadn't talked to him much since he had been staying at my house, neither of us seeing the other without someone else next to us and I was hoping slightly to draw him into some sort of conversation. Even an inane one.
Though that didn't help with the fact that I seemed to become tongue tied around him when he turned his head to look at me with those eyes of his, causing me to lose concentration.
He stared at me for a few moments, almost making me uncomfortable enough to shift nervously before he turned back to watch the people and replied.
''Are those two girls always like that? They almost jumped at us when they saw us.''
I rolled my eyes and nodded, clasping my hands in front of me, wondering why they were shaking as I replied.
''Yeah, they flirt with all the guys they see as long as they're cute.''
I frowned, wondering suddenly if I could have been wrong and Gaara liked that type of girl, almost wincing at the thought.
He didn't say anything for a few minutes and I saw that he was trying to find the right way to word what he wanted to say and I waited as patiently as I could. Which for me and my typically impatient self, was definitely a chore.
''So they're in love with all the guys that they find 'cute'? Even when they don't know them?''
He looked back at me, his eyes confused and I shook my head, not breaking the eye contact. Naruto had told me some about the young Kazekage and I was suddenly glad that I had filed the information away like I had, instead of forgetting it.
Gaara was rather unknowing about any joyful feelings, having never learned them as a child and I took his question seriously when I would have laughed and teased anyone else for having asked such a thing, assuming that they had been joking.
''No, they're not in love with anyone that I know of. They just like to flirt.''
He seemed to become even more confused and I tilted my head, a sudden thought coming to my mind.
''Gaara, do you understand what flirting is?''
He paused before answering, his voice sounding slightly technical.
''It's when a person likes another person and they begin to tease each other. Sometimes giving small touches to the other person for no reason...basically doing what those two girls were doing.''
I stared at him a few moments, wondering if he actually understood what he had just said, or if it was just something that someone had tried to explain to him and he was repeating without grasping the concept.
I thought for a moment, trying to make it simple so that he would actually understand, and not just hear words.
''Those girls do like every guy that comes in, but its not because they like the guy himself, or that they even care about him as a person. It's almost like a game to them. Like they want to know how many guys they can get to notice them before they die.''
I took a breath, letting what I had said so far sink in before continuing.
'' Most people like the people that they flirt with, but there are some in this world that just use it to pass the time when their bored, without caring for the other persons feelings or thoughts.''
I hadn't looked away from him while I spoke, wanting to see that he understood and I saw the comprehension light his eyes after I had finished my explanation.
He stared at me for a few more minutes, causing me to feel as if we were having a small starring competition until he blinked and studied me seriously as he asked his next question.
''Are you one of those people? Do you flirt with guys you don't like just to pass the time?''
I tilted my head to the side, a gesture that I had picked up from Dolly when I was little and had carried through the rest of my life, smiling gently.
''No, Gaara. If I flirt with you, I like you. I don't play games like that.''
He smirked and I had to keep myself from letting my eyes drop down to watch the movement, forcing my eyes to stay on his as he spoke.
''Good. I didn't think that you were that kind of girl, but I thought that I would make sure.''
I laughed and he gave me a small smile, preparing to say something else but not getting the chance as the clock that signified that it was time to work rang loudly.
Aubry had had it specially made for the purpose of the club, the chimes being loud enough to sound over a few hundred people screaming at each other and Gaara, who was not prepared for the noise, grimaced and covered his ears, causing me to smile at him in understanding. I was slightly convinced that we would all go deaf from hearing the loud noise so often.
I waited for the echo to die away, and for him to remove his hands from his ears, before I spoke, smiling slightly.
''We'll have to finish our conversation sometime later. I have to go work now.''
He nodded and I looked around for the other ninjas, noticing as I did so that the club wasn't as crowded as it would be later on in the night, easily finding Naruto as he stood on one of the tables, Sakura trying to pull him down, her face red with embarrassment.
I pointed them out to Gaara and smiled at him gently.
''The others are over there. You might want to join them soon instead of staying in this corner. If Yuki and Suki catch you by yourself, they'll consider you fair game. At least you might be slightly safer if you're in the group.''
He nodded, though he didn't seem very intimidated about the threat of the two Bunnies.
''Are you the one taking orders at that table?''
I shook my head sadly, wishing slightly that I was. Had that been the case, I would have been able to talk with him the majority of the night...now that I had seemed to get over my case of being tongue tied.
''No, I'm typically upstairs. I don't know who is working the downstairs tonight. I'll just have to come and sit with you guys during my breaks.''
I smiled up at him, feeling slightly apologetic.
''I really do have to get to work now though. I'll see you later, okay?''
He nodded, still not moving from the corner and I ran off towards the stairs to start my shift, seeing that there weren't very many people there yet and glad that they weren't upset at my slightly late arrival.