Disclaimer: Yes, well, if I owned Naruto he'd be way more awesome . . . and Sasuke'd be his bitch, at the very least. But I don't, so he isn't. And ain't that a damn shame?

Pick My Brain: doesn't that sound good? I heard that fried brain with olives is quite the treat. As is, you only get a piece of it (of my brain, that is), so deal.

Anyways, yes, another fic! One with straight people. And yes, you can feel properly horrified at this news. But then, I've been hogtied and tickled into submission, literally forced I tell you, forced, to write this out. It ain't even my plot-puppy (it's a shiny little plot-fish instead), but it was a cute little bugger and it's for a good friend, so yeah.

As so, you get to read my first ever non-yaoi fic.

Don't you feel special?

Apart from the lack of boy-love (and just you watch, I have several one-shot-side-stories in mind to fix that), I have to fulfill certain conditions. Principal amongst them being that Naruto has to end up with a bundle of girls (though which ones, I don't rightly know). You say that because of this, this'll fit right into the Harem category? Maybe, maybe not. I have schemes for it, you see, evil though they may be, but this won't be like any Harem fic you've ever read, I assure you.

After all, it has a plot. Kind'a. Maybe. So girls won't be raining on top of our main character (much), and yes, gasp with me here, because he'll have to work his ass off for any (permanent) lass that he gets.

I won't be held responsible for the temporary ones, though. I won't! After all, you already knew I was a pervert, so this shouldn't be news to you.

-o

Derailed

-o

He was hungry, so very hungry. More than anything else, more than everything that had happened to him, it was the hunger that remained his only focus, for that was the grievance that his mind supplied more readily than the rest.

And there were a whole bunch of other things that his head could come up with, I'll have you know!

He didn't understand how everything had changed so drastically in only a few days, or how the results and consequences of it could have dragged for so long afterwards. But here he was; alone, afraid, freezing and famished.

Freezing not because of the weather, but because of the bitter bite of despair, the cold taste of shattered dreams and impossible to reach goals.

Hunched into a small ball on the corner of some building or other, in the dirty streets of the leaf village, Uzumaki Naruto trembled in hopelessness, his eyes glassy, though no tears escaped from them. At least that vow he would uphold, at least that bit of pride he would keep.

He would never allow himself to be seen crying again. Not by these uncaring villagers.

How had he found himself in this situation, you might wonder? Homeless and hopeless? His dreams stripped from him? His confidence banished?

Easy.

He would never be able to become a shinobi.

They wouldn't even allow him to leave the village to find his own way in the world! He was trapped, feeling more alone than ever, with despair chaining him like a criminal, with limitations placed on him because of something that no one would explain.

But then, we're getting a bit ahead of ourselves, aren't we? You might be wondering just how this all came to be, right? So let's start there, if that's the case. It was truly a series of ill-timed events that landed Naruto in this situation, one that starts and ends with a simple thing; failing the Genin Exam.

He had been so disappointed in himself, so depressed that Mizuki had been able to trick him easily into doing his dirty work. He fell into that traitor's scheming without even a hitch. He stole the Forbidden Scroll and leaned the Kage Bunshin, just as instructed. Exactly like the good little pawn that he was supposed to be. And he had been exited at his achievement because it meant that he'd be able to graduate; that he would have taken the first step in accomplishing his dream.

Success and satisfaction coursed through his very blood; He had done it, that's what he had believed. That he would be a ninja in no time now and Hokage in a few months.

So caught up in his daydreaming was he, that he didn't notice the danger until a hail of kunai had picked him up from the floor and pinned him to a tree. And let's just say that it hurt like a bitch. There was nothing more to it. He was sure that he blacked out for a second or two, and he came awake gasping and in the most intense pain that he had ever experienced.

It was agony. It was torture.

It was indescribable.

Naruto hadn't been aware of anything but the seven kunai holding him up through his skin and muscles, and especially the eight kunai that was buried in his stomach. Blood flowed freely from his wounds and his vision swam in front of him. And he felt every second of it. He felt the blood leaving him and his life with it.

For the first time in his lonely existence, Naruto knew utter despair and horrifying, soul aching fear.

He didn't know what happened or how he survived, because he did, surprisingly; he just knew that one moment Mizuki was talking about something and coming closer with a windmill shuriken spinning in hand, ready to finish him off, and the other, his vision had bled red with blood before everything went dark.

He had thought himself dead at the point, but this wasn't the case.

His life, his dreams, his goals and his hope died on that day. And no one told him why.

When he woke up next, it was to find himself under a full out interrogation, which was a fuzzy ordeal within his memories. He could only remember bits and pieces of questions and he was certain that they had used some kind of mind jutsu to make him answer them. He didn't know how long they kept him, since that too was blurry in his mind, but when they hauled him over to the Hokage he had let himself hope that everything would be made right; that the old man would put things straight again.

Oh, how sorely he was mistaken.

Never had his world tilted so much as it did then.

If Naruto could describe the old man that day, it would be by comparing him to a mountain; the Hokage was unmovable, unshakable; like he was made of stone. No matter how he pleaded and begged, no matter what he said or promised, it was like he was talking to a carved statue.

He was kicked out from the ninja program, forbidden from becoming a shinobi of Konoha. He was told this even as he cried in a heap at the Hokage's feet, still in his bloodstained, shredded clothes. His actions had been unforgivable, he had been told, and that was all the explanation he got.

And just like that, everything had changed, and everything continued changing.

He was kicked out of his apartment by the landlord, who had taken everything he owned as payment for the month's rent, leaving him only with the filthy clothes on his back. Without the stipend given to every shinobi-in-training, he suddenly found himself bereft of even the meager things that he had taken for granted.

Food and shelter, especially.

His remaining money vanished quickly and Gama-chan was soon flat as a pancake. Days passed and everyone ignored him or turned from him, some even with fear in their eyes, which confused him.

No one would help him, no one would give him a job, and no one gave him a chance.

And this was how he came to be in such a pitiful state, days later. His education cut short, his future demolished, his spirit fractured and on the verge of splintering. For if nothing else, the last few days had made him loose whatever optimism that he had once had; it had left him almost broken.

Almost, but not quite.

For it was on this day that something happened, that something changed once again.

A new door opened in front of his very eyes and, at first, he didn't know what to make of it. Still, this was the way that his life changed; it was how his path was forever altered.

It was a difficult thing to accept his circumstances, true. But then, it was hard not to cry over the spilled ramen. It was even harder to look for another bowl. Especially when it was your favorite flavor and the cook told you that it had been the last of it that he'll make.

Ever.

Becoming a shinobi of Konoha was one door that would never open again.

oOOoOOo

Kurmochi Michiko had seen many things in her line of work, and experienced many others in the length of her life, but never would she have believed the sight that greeted her that early morning as she made her way back from the market, where she had just finished negotiating and arranging the resupply of some of her business' food requirements, among other things.

She always preferred to get that sort of thing out of the way early in the day when the need arose, and though it was unusual for her to handle such affairs personally, it was always best to do so from time to time.

It gave the suppliers a sense of importance when she did so, even if her subordinates were the ones that handled the day-to-day dealings of it.

Still, the sight that greeted her on her way back was quite startling, and while she had encountered such things outside of the village before, she would never had thought of seeing it within it, and that made her pause.

Oh, she knew who the child was at first glance, of course, and she had heard more than enough about what had happened some days ago to form some firm speculations, but never would she have thought that Konoha would just abandon a child in the streets like this. That they would leave any child to suffer as this one had so obviously had.

They were a prosperous village with vast resources. Poverty was not a common thing, especially were children are concerned, be that child a Jinchuuriki or not, those standards should not have changed, and she was suddenly disappointed in her home.

True, the boy might have been ejected from the shinobi program, more to appease the populace and the politics than anything else, but that was no reason to let him end in such a way, to let him endure as he was.

Already her feet took her gracefully, calmly, toward to curled up boy, and, ignoring the dirty ground and the stench emanating from the glassy-eyed blond, she gently knelt in front of him, a hand stretching out to rest on his shoulder.

The body under her hand stiffened in surprised and unfocused blue eyes peeked up from a matted fringe. She smiled a slight smile, her painted lips curling gently upwards, "How are you child? What are you doing sitting in the street so early in the morning?" she asked, already knowing the answer, but needing to know the boy's condition.

Was he lucid? Was he sane? Could he understand her?

She received no answer apart from the persistent sound of a growling stomach, and nodding to herself, she pulled the small basket of fruit that she was carrying onto her lap, ignoring how the long sleeves of her kimono dragged on the dirty street and offered one of the fruits within it to the hungry child, "Here, eat, it seems to me that you haven't had anything in some time," and though she tried to keep the pity out of her voice, Michiko didn't think she was all that successful.

Nevertheless, a tentative, if grubby hand took the offered food and before she could blink it was gone. Surprised, she pursed her lips, knowing that things were worse than she had previously thought, "Here," she passed the small basket to the boy, "help yourself."

It didn't take another word or invitation for the boy to dive into the fruits within the basket, and though she grimaced slightly at the manners displayed, she could overlook it under the circumstances. She waited patiently for him to finish, deep in thought, unmindful of the stares that she was getting or the dirt staining her expensive garments.

After all, in the face of starving children, the state of her clothes didn't really matter, now, did it?

oOOoOOo

Naruto's eyes slowly focused as his stomach quickly, if uncomfortably filled. "Thanks," he muttered hoarsely at the beautiful lady that was sitting in front of him, his head tucked into his knees as he looked at her from the corner of his eyes. It was unnerving really, just how pretty she was, so he didn't know what else to say.

"Would you tell me what your name is?" she asked in the same gentle tone of voice, both lilting and musical, with which she had offered him the first meal that he'd had in days.

"Uzumaki Naruto," he answered slowly and swallowed, clearing his throat, ducking his head further and closing his eyes so that she couldn't see the few tears of gratitude sliding across his cheeks. He had already lost hope that anyone would help him, and yet, here was someone doing exactly that.

It was a bit overwhelming, truth be told.

A hand caressed his dirty hair, lifted his head a bit and wiped a stray tear, before gentle fingers lifted his chin to meet a warm gaze, "And why are you in the streets, Uzumaki Naruto. Don't you have a home?"

He shook his head a bit, frustration making itself known as his hands closed into fists, his eyes doing the same without his notice, "I was kicked out of my apartment," he told her, not knowing why, "I don't have any money to pay for it, and no one's willing to give me a job." He almost started crying right then, but he ruthlessly suppressed it; he didn't know why no one would give him a chance, why everyone hated him.

"Then how about I hire you?" came the unexpected and sudden offer.

His head snapped up so fast that he made himself dizzy. He didn't think he heard her right, "Really?" he asked, not daring to hope, "You'll give me a job?" and she nodded before he turned slightly suspicious, "And you'd pay me as well?"

"Certainly," she nodded at him, "In fact, you can live in my establishment and work for your food and board; anything extra after that I would give you as spending money, after all, I could use a young boy like you to do all sorts of odds and ends. What do you say?"

He blinked pretty fast at that and he nodded frantically at her, hope flaring wildly within him. He didn't know what to say, didn't know how to thank her . . . he didn't know who she was or what kind of work she was hiring him for and there were a whole slew of other questions that started popping inside his head. But for once, he kept his mouth shut and stomped on his first reactions of shouting his thanks, or jumping in celebration.

Not that he had the strength to do such a thing.

Instead, he bowed. Low and long.

Naruto had never done this before; he used to have too much pride and too much stubbornness to ever lower himself to anyone, thinking that it would be him to whom everyone would bow to one day. But those dreams had been dashed and this seemed like the right thing to do.

He whispered his thanks and allowed a few of his tears to water the ground where his face was pressed. He didn't know what else to do.

"You are quite welcome, child," the well-dressed lady said, and he heard the rustle of her clothes as she moved before her soft hands were stroking his hair once more, "but there is no need to bow," and he could hear the gentle smile within the words, "Now, would you be kind enough to escort me?" she asked.

And then, without a whisper of effort she slowly, gracefully, stood up, taking Naruto with her. He didn't know how she achieved this, and was too dazed at being upright after such a long time to really notice, but his dizziness soon ebbed and he took a good look at his new employer for the first time.

She was, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful women that he'd ever seen. She had long, dark, shiny hair arranged into elaborate knots; dark, warm eyes and an even warmer smile. She was wearing a navy blue, sea-green and gold kimono with long, flaring sleeves and a sweeping trail.

He'd never seen anything like it, that's for sure. But then, he'd never seen anything like her, either.

Shaking himself out of his stupor, he suddenly noticed that they were moving and that he was walking beside her and that her hand was at the crook of his elbow. He felt suddenly, undeniably inadequate, and he didn't know where to look, for everywhere he did, stunned eyes fallowed in their wake.

But then, his eyes settled on her, and really, he didn't know what to make of her. She walked with such poise and purpose that it would have fooled the most sharp-eyed of people into believing that he, Uzumaki Naruto, was some High Lord escorting her in a walk through the village, or the gardens of some grand palace.

It was unbelievable, but all the same it gave him a sense of confidence back, even if it was not his own. Here and now, it didn't matter who he was, or that his clothes were filthy and bloody. And because of this, he managed to steal a bit of this women's confidence from her, if only for a bit; his back straightened and his stride smoothed, though not overmuch.

He got a smile for his efforts and a nod and suddenly, just like that, he had a smile on his face too . . . it was the first smile he had smiled in what seemed like years.

It felt good, more than good, even.

"Now, Uzumaki Naruto-kun," she spoke up, her voice soft and gentle, but still gathering his full attention, "I am called Kurmochi Michiko. At this time I really don't have anything for you to do, but then, I want you to settle in first and recover before you start working."

He opened his mouth to protest, to tell her that he could start working right away, that he didn't need to recover from anything, but a slight look out of the corner of her eyes, just an insignificant narrowing of her gaze, stopped him before he could voice them, before he could say anything, really.

He gulped and she nodded slightly.

"I own a large establishment, Naruto-kun, so trust me, once you are settled there will be plenty for you to do. But first, there are a few things to get out of the way."

"Like what?" he asked, hanging off her every word. He knew that there was something in the way she spoke that begged for him to ask a question, but when she frowned just the tiniest bit, his mind scrambled for what he had done wrong, until a spark of memory ignited somewhere in his head and he added, rather hastily, "Kurmochi-sama."

Maybe that was going a bit overboard, and by the amused glance that she gave him, she thought so too, "Michiko-san should do well enough, Naruto-kun," she told him, a slight smile on her lips. "Still, that is one of the things we will need to work on. First, however, you will need to get a check-up with our resident medic, though maybe a bath would be a preferable first step, hmm?"

He blushed and shuffled a step before he was forced to keep pace with her.

"Ah, here we are," Michiko remarked as she led him through the side-alley of an enormous building. He stretched his neck to try to find their destination, but he couldn't really pinpoint anything. After all, he hadn't been paying all that much attention to where he was going.

Not long after, they reached a small courtyard entrance at the end of the alley and entered a cozy-looking three-story building that was well out of sight. Inside, people paused in what they were doing and gave a slight bow and a greeting to his escort, along with a side-glance, more curious than anything, in his direction.

They walked deeper inside and out into an inner garden, and some kind of reception area, where they left their shoes before turning into a left-side corridor.

It didn't take more than a few turns before Naruto was hopelessly confused. Just how big was the building? It hadn't looked this large from the outside. What kind of place was it? Why were there so many people milling around? He stayed quiet though, and kept following.

"Here we are," Michiko said as they reached a set of double doors. Pausing slightly outside to knock, she nevertheless stepped inside right after.

"Michiko-sama," a girl of about seventeen stood up and greeted them with a bow. The place was obviously a type of infirmary by the looks of it and they were standing in a wide reception area. Naruto could see two corridors leading off from this room towards the left and right and more than a few doors, both opened and closed, but focused more onto the desk that the girl was sitting in and the humongous book opened on top of it.

"Good morning, Tami-chan, studying hard I see," Michiko greeted the girl, "How are you today?" she asked, before giving the room a cursory look, "and where is Kaya? I have need of her."

"I'm doing very well, Michiko-sama, but I'm afraid that Kaya-sensei isn't here at the moment. She was called away earlier, but she should be back shortly. Should I fetch her?" the girl asked.

"No, don't worry, child, it is nothing so urgent," she paused and then looked back towards the door where Naruto was standing, uncertain, before she gestured for him to come over, "In fact, since Kaya is indisposed at the moment, would you mind doing a favor for me, my dear?" she asked the girl with a smile.

A smile that was readily answered, "Of course, Michiko-sama," the young nurse said with a bow, for as Naruto neared, he was sure that that was what she was, a nurse. Not that he knew anything about nurses apart from knowing with great certainty that the one at the Academy was a hard ass.

"Very well. This," Michiko treaded her hand through his filthy hair, completely unconcerned and seemingly ignorant of just how much comfort that simple gesture gave him, or how much grease and fifth had accumulated in it, and introduced him, "is Uzumaki Naruto-kun. I wanted Kaya to give him a complete check-up, but since she isn't here, well, a bath is just as dire a need, don't you agree?"

The girl giggled and nodded, but still smiled Naruto's way, so he wasn't offended, though he still huffed a bit and crossed his arms quietly. He knew that he needed a good shower anyways.

"Certainly, Michiko-sama," the girl, Tami, was it? told the stately woman with another giggle, "would there be anything else?"

"No, not at this moment, my dear, just take good care of him for me, will you?" And when she received a nod from the nurse, she turned toward him and kneeled, brushing his hair out of his face a bit, "Now, Naruto-kun, Tami-chan will take care of you for now. I will arrange for a proper breakfast to be sent to you and a room to be assigned to you. If Kaya, our resident medic, doesn't show up by then, then I suggest that you rest up a bit. I will come looking for you later on. Do you understand?"

He just nodded and followed his impulses for the first time that day by launching himself at her and hugging her tight, a whispery 'thank you' being the only things that his choked up voice would allow him to say. It wasn't a long hug, though. He stepped back just as quickly, his face slightly red, even as he wiped some tears with the sleeves of his jacket.

He was almost mad at himself for them, but then, he thought he could allow himself to cry if he was happy.

Her hands, though, kept him close, and when he dared to look at her face again, he was greeted with the same gentle smile, "You are quite welcome, my dear," he told him and as her hands cupped his face once more, he didn't protest and followed their direction until a tender kiss was placed upon his forehead.

Completely and utterly red, and a bit glassy eyed, Naruto was sure that even his toes were blushing, and his embarrassment was such that he didn't even notice when Michiko stepped out of the room, leaving him in the nurse's care. He'd been watching his blushing toes too intently to notice, really.

He came to, however, when dancing grey eyes appeared suddenly in front of him, making him jump in surprise at the sight of the nurse leaning slightly down to look him in the eye. "Ah, back in reality, are we?" she asked him with a teasing smile.

Naruto just blushed a bit harder, if possible.

"Well," she clapped and straightened up, "follow me then, Naruto-kun, and I'll lead you towards the baths, eh?"

Blinking at her departing back, Naruto quickly got himself together and gave chase. When he caught up with her, he noticed that she had a rather pixie-like face and short black hair. In fact, she wasn't all that tall to begin with. "Eh," he spoke up, scratching at his whisker-marked cheek, "what is this place?"

"Hmm? You don't know?" she asked curiously and he shook his head, "Well, it's a whole complex really, and we cater to quite a big clientele. There's a hotel, a couple of restaurants and bars, a casino, things like that. More specifically, this is the main medical wing of the complex, though it's a bit early for most of the staff to be up and about," she explained, smiling at his stunned expression, "You remember the block where this building is?" and he nodded, though he didn't remember it at all, "All of it belongs to Michiko-sama, and we all work for her."

Somewhat awed by the sheer magnitude of what the nurse was talking about, and even more so by the fact that that pretty lady that took him in was the owner of it all, Naruto just shook his head in an attempt to make sense of what he'd just heard, but couldn't.

He just followed the nurse blankly, too stunned to do otherwise, even if he did feel better than he had in some time.

oOOoOOo

"I think I broke him," Tami muttered to herself as she maneuvered through the twisting corridors of the medical wing, seeing that the baths were at the back, along with the long-term rooms. Most of the rooms up front were for immediate treatment and such, while the middle ones were made up of labs and treatment rooms. She didn't know where the mistress had found the boy, or who he was, really, but she was surprised by his presence all the same.

Kurmochi Michiko-sama, while a kind and gentle person, was also a shrewd and sharp businesswoman. Tami had never heard of the Queen of the Beehive ever taking in a stray and even less to help them out personally.

It didn't mean that she was heartless or that she didn't help others, it just meant that she usually found more subtle, indirect ways to do it. She usually made use of her subordinates or third-parties to offer her assistance; nudging here and pointing there to get the job done. Never had she taken in someone as she had with this boy. And yet, here he was.

If anything, that made the kid special, and Tami would be damn if she disappointed her boss. So she kept talking lightly to the blond, telling him about the conglomerate of businesses that formed the 'Hive' as most of them liked to call it.

The fact that all of the buildings in the block, large or small, tall or not, had an inner-courtyard, connected by a maze of maintenance and staff halls and edifices, among other peculiarities, were the main reasons why they had taken to calling the place that.

She didn't even start on the sheer size of the place and just promised to the boy, Naruto, if she remembered correctly, that she would take him on a tour of it later on. Still, when he only nodded dazedly at her, she frowned.

Tami knew just from the state of his clothes, the dirt and the blood, that he hadn't had the best of luck lately, if ever, but the boy had been somewhat more animated when he entered the infirmary than he was at the moment. It was almost like he was running out of fuel, really, and when he stumbled just a bit, she was quickly helping him along, though he didn't really seem to notice.

Somewhat concerned, she was glad when they reached their destination and quickly shuffled the young blond in. "Well, then, strip out of those filthy clothes and leave them on the bench, I'll be right back," and then left the boy after he nodded faintly and started looking around.

Shaking her head, she quickly went to one of supply rooms and grabbed a big fluffy towel, a good number of scrubbing implements, hair brushes included, and filled a basket with some soap, shampoo and conditioner, among other things. Tami took particular care of making sure that they were all from the heavy-duty stuff.

As it was, she was glad that the place supplied them with all of this, even in the medical wing, as well as rather comfortable facilities for those who worked there full time. She double checked that she had everything and headed toward the main changing room where she had left Naruto, glad that it was either too early or too late for there to be anyone else around. She didn't want to think about the kind of fuss they would make over the boy.

Lost in thought, she was startled when she reached the room and found the whiskered boy sitting somewhat slumped on the bench, completely and utterly naked. All of his ruined clothes, green boxers included, where folded neatly beside him. Naruto himself just looked up a bit when she came in and stood up, completely unconcerned about her state of undress.

She blinked again and blushed, and then blinked again. Well, she certainly hadn't expected that. She had expected him to take one of the small bathing towels stacked in the shelves to cover himself, or that he'd remained in his underwear at least.

Not that it was really a problem for her, just a surprise.

The main thing was, however, that even as short as he was and as young as he was, the boy had a surprisingly lean body. Even with the beginnings of starvation showing, which she easily recognized, she couldn't deny that he looked rather fit.

She quickly calculated him to be at around ten years of age, all things considered, even if his body was a bit too toned for even a boy of fifteen, even one with shinobi training, which she suspected was the case by the bandages where a shuriken holster was supposed to be.

But then, wouldn't the boy have some weapons on him?

Shaking her head before her brain got lost in speculation, Tami rallied herself and smiled at the blond, gesturing him to follow, looking him over again. Apart from the visibility of his ribs, there was nothing apparently wrong with the kid, though with the dirt clinging to him, she couldn't say that for certain; especially when she couldn't be sure what shade of blond his hair was.

Shrugging, she made sure that the kid was behind her and smiled at the boy's complete disregard for modesty. That was pretty unusual, she was sure. Though she had no doubt that some of the other girls that worked in the complex would find it more than cute.

Stifling a giggle, she entered one of the smaller baths, since the bigger ones were mostly used for other purposes.

"Alright, Naruto-kun, wash yourself as much as you can while I go take care of your clothes," she directed, taking one of the stools and placing it in front of the tap, "I'll help you wash your back when I return, okay?"

That whiskered face looked up at her and blinked its wide blue eyes slowly, as if it were taking more than normal to process her words before he nodded. Sighing and wondering just what was wrong with the kid, she left the basket with the bathing necessities beside the stool and tucked the towel in a shelf.

It really didn't take her all that long to bag the dirty clothes, though she was unsure what to do with them; should she throw them away? Send them to the launders? She didn't know, so she just kept them for now. She'd ask the mistress what she wanted her to do with them later. After that, however, it was an easy thing to procure a navy blue sleeping yukata for the kid.

Tami tucked both bundles under her arm and headed over to the private onsen, only to find Naruto sitting on the stool with the hand-held shower head atop his head and his eyes closed. From the steam rising around him, she could guess at the temperature of the water, but what worried her more than anything was how still the boy was.

Putting the bundles she was carrying away, she made her way toward the him, unmindful of the water, and took the showerhead out of his hand.

He didn't seem to notice, and she saw that his eyes were closed.

"Naruto-kun?" she asked, and taking another stool, sat besides the blond, for she could see that now, and tilted his head up. Slowly, ever so slowly, he blinked his startling blue eyes at her, "are you alright?" she asked.

"'m tired," he mumbled and his stomach gave a low, long growl.

Tami stared at the boy's flat tummy and blinked as it growled again. That . . . didn't sound like normal stomach sounds; it almost sounded like there was something there that could eat her—

Nah, she shook her head, though her eyes softened as she took in the boy's slumped posture. Well, she'd just have to help him out, right? She could give him a full body examination while she was at it. She was sure that Kaya-sensei would like her input.

She nodded to herself and lathered up some shampoo.

It wasn't like she was a pervert molesting the kid. She was a nurse, damn it! She was trained for this, and even if she hadn't done it before, there was nothing to worry about. She'd be doing stuff like this for years after! Right?

Right.

So why then, did she feel so naughty while washing him up? That wasn't normal either; no matter how fit the boy was, he was too young! Oh kami! Maybe she was a pervert . . .

. . . But his skin was so soft too.

This was her friend's fault, she was sure of it. There was no denying just how perverted they were, that's for sure. And now, now they seemed to have rubbed off on her!

Damn them.

And damn this kid for having such a fit body! It was his fault as well. Hmph.

Her hands strayed not one bit.

Honest.

-o

TBC…

-o

Pick My Brain: Done! And you can expect a whole bunch of new and updated fic's after this, since I have a backlog to work through. However, I won't post more than one chapter ever three days (giving me time to write some more), which means that I have enough new material to keep you all entertained for the next month or so—

If you follow all of my fics, that is.

How can this be possible, you ask? Well, it's because I have some free time now, can you believe it?!