Get up! Ino's mind screamed at her.

The blond kunochi had just taken a punch to the face from Sakura and was currently laying on her back. The ground was hard beneath her, cold and unforgiving. Her back was going to hurt later. She was in the preliminary matches for the chunin exams. Her opponent was Sakura.

Come on, Ino! Don't lose to Forehead! Her mind screamed again.

Ino's cereulean blue eyes fluttered open and she squinted at the bright stadium light glaring down at her.


She struggled forcing herself to lift up on her elbows, her eyes clenched shut with effort and she ground her teeth. Across the arena, she saw Sakura in a very similar position, the pink haired girl's face contorted in pain and exhaustion.

This would be easier if you would lose 3 more pounds…Get up!

Ino forced her hands beneath her arms and shoved herself into a sitting position, her slender arms shook with the effort, her entire body shook with effort. Every muscle in her body screamed in protest as she moved each limb.

There you go! Now stand up!

She felt like an infant, her limbs unfamiliar and heavy. Awkward and ungainly. She stumbled from side to side her toes scrapping the green tiles of the arena floor. She finally managed to stop swaying and after a brief moment, looked up.

She didn't look at anyone in particular, she just wanted to look defiant. She wanted to look like a confident and powerful kunochi, not some random girl who almost lost to forehead. Sakura had broken through her mind transfer technique! She had two souls! That had never happened before. She turned her head to see Sakura laying on the ground unconscious. Kakashi appeared in a puff of smoke and nodded briefly to her before he vanished once again, Sakura in his arms.

"Winner, Yamanaka Ino." The voice of the proctor coughed.

Ino released a breath that she didn't realize that she was holding. She bowed to the proctor before stumbling towards the stairs, as she walked she looked up at the names posted on the screen above her head.

Tenten vs. Temari.

Ino paused in the middle of her ascent; disguising her fatigue to catch her breath as interest in the two girls who were currently meeting in the middle of the arena.

She recognized Tenten, the girl was a Konoha nin, after all. She was dressed in a rose pink Chinese cut shirt and a pair of ninja capris. Her chestnut colored hair was tied in two perfectly symmetrical buns on either side of her head. Across from Tenten stood Temari.

Temari was a girl who Ino had never seen before. The blond girl looked to be a couple of years older than she, with sandy blond hair yanked up into four messy pigtails. She had a huge fan in her grasp, and Ino could see the malice in her minty eyes. This girl was brutal, an involuntary shiver went through her body.

"Ino! Get upstairs!" Shikamaru's voice broke her thoughts and Ino turned quickly to continue her ascent. Her teammate caught her at the top of the stairs and helped her walk to where Chouji, Naruto, Kakashi, and Asuma all stood. Kakashi looked at her from beneath his mask.

Ino resisted the urge to stick her tongue out at the man. Yes, she had just beaten his student. Instead she allowed the emotion to expose itself through her eyes.

He got the message because he just gave her his crinkle-eyed smile and turned his attention back to the match.

Asuma's heavy hand landed on her slender shoulder and squeezed happily. "Congratuations , kid."

She smiled brightly at her teacher and returned her attention back to the match. She couldn't help the feeling of pride that was surging through her body, she had won!

That was just because you are too pig-headed to figure out when to stop. And if you hadn't let your emotions for Sakura get in the way towards the beginning of the match or hesitated when you took over Sakura's mind, you would have won the match. She thought to herself.

She knew that she had won that match, and that was all that mattered. But she also knew that she had let her emotions for Sakura get in the way.

A hand yanked on her now stubby and poorly cut ponytail. She instantly regretted having cut it all off. She turned to see Chouji standing behind her.

"You better have not gotten crumbs in my hair." She stated instantly.

Chouji smirked. "I didn't but good job!" he stated happily.

She smiled back at her teammate. "Thanks! Now, you had better win too!"

Once the preliminaries were over, Ino stood next to Shikamaru in a line with the other ninja who would be competing in the final matches for the Chunin Exams.

She looked at the chart before her, a series of brackets with the names randomly chosen was listed before her.

Uchiha Sasuke vs. Sabuku no Gaara

Hyuuga Neji vs. Uzumaki Naruto

Aburame Shino vs. Sabuku no Kankuro

Nara Shikamaru vs. Sabuku no Temari

Kinuta Dosu vs. Yamanaka Ino

Ino couldn't help the shudder that ran through her body, Dosu was the same guy who had beaten Chouji only moments ago without breaking a sweat.

"You all have one month to prepare for the exams. You will receive more information later on." Ibiki stated before dismissing the students.

Shikamaru was on Ino in an instant. "Forfit." He stated simply.

"What?" Ino demanded.

"You heard me."

"No." Ino replied.

"Ino, this man could kill you!" Shikamaru exclaimed.

"And Temari is all roses and butterflies." Ino scoffed.

"But Ino, I actually stand a chance against her."

Ino stopped walking and glared at Shikamaru. "What?"

"You're not strong e-"


The sound echoed in the stadium, and bystanders paused to watch the interaction. Shikamaru slowly raised his hand to his cheek, his brown eyes wide with shock.

"Stay away from me." Ino growled in Shikamaru's ear before walking away.

The next day, team 10 met at the training grounds. Ino hid her horribly cut hair beneath a hair cover, her vanity showing at its finest.

She stood next to Choji avoiding eye contact with Shikamaru.

"Today we will be playing catch the blond" Asuma stated.

"Are you serious?"


Shikamarua and Ino yelled at the same time.

"You heard me. Shikamaru you need to work on your endurance and Ino you need to work on your speed. Choji you need to work on stealth" Asuma stated before lighting a cigarette.

"How long of a head start do I get?" Ino groaned.

"Two minutes, you had better get going. You know the boundaries by now" Asuma stated blowing smoke into the air.

Ino sighed before sprinting across the training ground and into the think foliage in the forest near training ground 1.

Two minutes slowly ticked by. "You ready boys?" Asuma inquired.

"What a drag" Shikamaru stated.

"Yeah" Choji answered.

"Go get her" Asuma said. "You're being timed"

At this Shikamaru couldn't help but smirk slightly. "This will prove to her that she isn't prepared to face that Dosu guy" he muttered to Choji.

The other boy sighed. It was going to be a long day.