Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or any of its characters.

This story takes place after the Pein fight scene and before any other major event happens. There's a brief fight scene in here that, I will tell you now, will be passed over…sorry, not my forte. If you are offended by abuse or rape, I suggest that you not read. It's rated M for a reason. Other than that, enjoy!

Behind The Smile

Ino looked out across the field at her opponents and smiled. They were so going to win. The opposing side had a pale skinny boy, an easily distracted girl, and an idiot. Piece of cake…speaking of which, "Choji! Stop eating and focus!"

Said Akimichi stuffed the last bite of his desert into his mouth and nodded. Ino sighed and looked to her other teammate. He was looking at the clouds. She sighed again…ok, maybe it would be an even match.

"Hey Ino-pig, you ready to lose?"

"Shut up Forehead! I'm not losing to you. Never have, never will!"

"Bring it on!"

After the usual banter, teams 7 and 10 burst into action.

After half an hour, both teams were sporting injuries that were annoying or painful, but not life threatening. At this point, Choji had been knocked out, as had Sai. Sakura was being kept busy avoiding Shikamaru's shadow binding technique. His plan was to take out the supporting two teammates, then gang up on the powerhouse that was Naruto. The same knuckleheaded idiot that she was currently trying to distract in order to help Shikamaru concentrate on his current target.

Seeing the blonde male glancing to see how his teammate was holding up, Ino took it as her chance. Bringing her hands together, she quickly performed her family's technique. "Mind Transfer Jutsu."

Opening her eyes, Ino found something that she was not expecting. Usually when she entered someone's mind, she either saw an image of the person's brain, which she could then touch and gather information from, or she would see a person's mindscape. Now, with a person's mindscape, it changed with each individual. Some had a peaceful setting, their 'quiet place' as they liked to call it. Others had a fantasy playing out in their head about how they want their future to be. Some were sick, twisted individuals whose mindscape consisted of blood and death. All in all, it was supposed to reflect who they are as a person. Ino had expected to open her eyes to a ramen stand or to see the Hokage monument with a certain someone's cheeky grin carved next to the Fifth's face. Instead she opened her eyes to a sewer-like setting. It was dimly lit and the floor was flooded with water.

"Weird," she muttered. She shrugged it off and started walking, trying to find the 'eyes' in order to see how to control his movements. Until she did, his body would remain immobile, staring into space. If she couldn't find that, then she was hoping for something interesting. She never could resist the thought of a secret.

Ino walked out of one of the many winding hallways and into a cavern of sorts. It was a wide open room with impossibly high ceilings. The most intriguing feature was the far wall that looked like an oversized jail cell. It was hard to see anything but blackness beyond the bars. It gave her an uneasy chill down the length of her spine. Just to the left of the ominous cell was a door that looked like, in her experience, one that led to memories.

"Hell yeah, jackpot!" she grinned, quickly making her way over to the door. When she was only a few steps away, the ground seemed to rumble under her feet. It took her a moment to realize that it wasn't that the ground was moving on its own, more like it was vibrating under the menacing growl that came from within the confines of the cell. Ino's eyes widened as she slowly turned her head to look past the bars once more. Instead of pitch blackness, the sight before her made her knees quake. It was a giant fox, a being that she had heard about from veteran shinobi in the village and had seen pictures of in books. Nothing could have prepared her for the sheer magnitude of the creature or the malevolent chakra that it emitted.

"Human, what are you doing here?"

Ino fell to her knees at the power that radiated from the deep voice. She opened her mouth to answer, but only a pathetic squeak was released.

"Hmph, you don't seem to be a threat to the Kit, but you don't seem as though you are meant to be here. Speak human, what is it you want?"

"Kit?" Well, that was intelligent, Ino berated herself, The Kyuubi is standing right in front of you asking a question that you need to answer now and that's the only thing you can say!?

The giant being almost seemed amused, if something like that was even possible, and indulged the mind-walking kunoichi, "My host, the Uzumaki gaki."

Ino nodded slightly and cleared her throat, trying to speak without sounding like she had a toad lodged in her vocal chords, "I'm Yamanaka Ino. I'm one of Naruto's… comrades. We were sparring…and…I ended up here with my family jutsu."

"A Yamanaka. I haven't seen one of your kind in a few decades. That explains how you are here. But that doesn't answer my question why?" the fox growled out, making goosebumps appear on the blonde girl's skin.

"I…I got lost. I was trying to find the 'eyes' but when I couldn't I…decided… to go exploring?" Her voice got softer as her sentence went on, ending in an almost question, realizing just how pathetic and intrusive she sounded.

The Kyuubi raised a brow at her, "You wished to see his memories then." At her timid nod, the great beast closed its eyes and sighed, "You may not be ready for what you will see."

Curiosity overriding fear, Ino looked at the Bijuu, "What do you mean? It's not like there's anything that bad back there. Sure there's you, but however…intimidating you are, that doesn't seem that bad."

The Kyuubi huffed in mild agitation, "The Kit never did tell anyone. He's a better actor then most would realize," he looked her over a moment, "You may look if you wish, but you will never be able to forget what you see." The mighty Bijuu turned away from her and laid down, for all the world looking as if he had fallen asleep.

Shaking herself from her stupor, Ino got to her feet and hesitantly made her way to the door. It couldn't be that bad, she thought. Naruto's too upbeat for anything to have really happened to him.

She took the knob in hand and slowly opened it.

In front of her was the image of a brain, the indicator of stored memories. All she had to do was touch it, and the information would flood into her mind. She was originally just going to look for embarrassing habits or memories to hold over the Jinchuuriki later, but the stuff that the Kyuubi said intrigued her. An intrigued Yamanaka was something to be weary of. She focused on painful memories and, once again, it was nothing like what she expected.

A six year old Naruto sat in his kitchen. The sun was beginning to set outside as he tentatively and carefully lit the tea candle in front of him. His lights were all off, making the small glow of the fire before him that much more prominent. He placed the tea light into his bowl of instant ramen and just watched for a second as it floated in the broth.

A small, sad smile made its way onto his face as he softly began to sing a familiar tune, "Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday dear Naruto. Happy birthday to me."

He scrunched his eyes in concentration as he whispered his wish, "Don't let them find me this year." With that, he blew out the candle.

Suddenly, Naruto was startled out of his seat and landed with a thud on the floor as a loud banging rattled his front door. His eyes widened in terror as he heard the screaming curses coming from behind the wooden frame. It looked like his wish wouldn't be coming true this year either.

The young boy got to his feet and ran into his room, quickly locking the door behind him. His eyes searched his room for a hiding place when he spotted the window. He ran over and cautiously peeked out, scanning the street below. Seeing that it was clear, he scurried out the window as fast as he could and proceeded to descend the fire escape.

If I can just make it to Ji-ji's office, then I'll be safe, he thought as he rounded the corner. The thought quickly evaporated as he ran directly into someone, causing him to, once again, land on his rear on the ground. Naruto slowly looked up, seeing sandals, knee-length shorts, a sleeveless shirt, then the face. The guy in front of him was probably in his mid-twenties, as were the other three behind him. The young man glared down at him, "Aren't you that Uzumaki brat?"

Cold dread started filling Naruto's veins. He knew what was coming, "Please, not today," he begged in a soft voice, uncharacteristic of his usual personality, "You can do it a different day, but please, it's my birthday."

The older boy sneered, "Did you hear that guys, the little monster wants to celebrate today."

The two boys and one girl behind him all scoffed in distaste. The one that Naruto had bumped into glared at the boy still on the ground, "This is the death anniversary of the Fourth Hokage and many other innocent villagers, and you want to celebrate." He spit on the ground in between Naruto's feet. Naruto looked briefly at the glob on the ground then looked up in time to see the smirk forming on the older boy's lips. He lifted his head up slightly and called out, "Hey everybody, I found him! He's over here!"

Naruto's eyes widened as he quickly scrambled to his feet, tripping over himself a few times due to him rushing, and bolted away from his would-be attackers. He could hear them loudly counting down behind him, "Three, two, one, get him!" They made it a game. Naruto felt one tear trail down his cheek in fear as he rushed as fast as his six-year-old legs could carry him.

Unfortunately it wasn't fast enough. In under two minutes, he felt his legs swiped out from under him as his chin made contact with the dirt road of one of the alleys behind the apartment complexes. He felt himself bite through his tongue on impact and the strong coppery taste of blood filled his mouth. He quickly spat it out before he felt a sudden impact on his stomach, the breath being instantly forced from his lungs. Less than a second later, a blow hit his head, causing him to feel light-headed. He guarded his head with his arms as best he could while blow after blow rained down on him. It turned out that the people that had been at his front door earlier had joined the group that he had run into just moments ago.

Naruto almost thought that he would pass out after fifteen minutes of getting the shit kicked out of him when his assailants slowly started to leave. The last one that left was the boy he had accidently run into. He gave him one last sneer, "That'll teach you to celebrate today, you revolting piece of trash."

Naruto feigned unconsciousness until he knew that he was completely alone and that they weren't coming back. He blearily opened his one good eye and pushed himself up with his left hand. His right eye was swollen shut and his right arm felt broken, along with a few ribs. He shuffled home, tears silently making their way down his whiskered cheeks.

The climb up the stairs took a great deal of effort and a few quick breaks to catch his breath. He finally made it to his door and saw that it had been broken down again. He made his way inside and saw that the damage wasn't as extensive this year. They probably heard the shout and left his apartment in favor of beating him up.

He walked over to his bedroom and struggled with pulling the key out of his pant pocket. Now he regretted locking his room. He finally made it to his bed and collapsed on the old mattress. Sobs racked his small body as he repeated over and over, "I won't celebrate any more, I promise. So please no more, no more. I won't celebrate." And with that, he finally slipped into unconsciousness.

Ino reared back from the images, a tear escaping her eye. She knew that boy! He was her neighbor Takeshi! He always treated her like a cousin or little sister. He didn't seem like he was capable of such blatant cruelty. But that…that…memory! She had passed by at least half of those people on a daily basis around town. She was disgusted. Naruto had only been a little kid. Naruto. Why?

She glanced over to the doorway that led back out into that cavern. Was it because he had that giant fox in him? That made some sense. The Bijuu was terrifying. But…Naruto…He's always so kind…He was just the loser goofball from her graduating class! That memory had to have been a mistake of some kind!

She wearily looked back at the brain. It couldn't be any worse than that right? Curiosity too much for the nosy kunoichi to handle, she replaced her palm onto the image of the brain.

Sixteen year old Naruto sat at his favorite restaurant in all of Konoha, no, in all of the world! Ichiraku Ramen! It was only about a week after the attack from Pein and the city was slowly being rebuilt. Of course, Naruto HAD to help make sure that this place was one of the first ones repaired. People had to eat right?

As he was slurping down his meal, he heard the flap behind him opening and a small excited gasp coming from whoever had just entered.

"Hey, you're him right?" asked the one of guys behind him. Naruto looked over his shoulder and saw that the two guys were speaking to him. He slurped up the noodle that was dangling out of his mouth. "Huh?"

"You're Uzumaki Naruto, aren't you? The one that beat the Akatsuki and saved everyone?" the second one asked, excitement evident in his voice. After a hesitant nod from the blonde Jinchuuriki, the slightly older boy suddenly shoved a piece of paper under Naruto's nose, "Can I have your autograph please?"

Naruto saw a different memory superimposed over top of the two guys in front of him. A younger version of the two.

"Hey, you're him right?" askedthe one boy.

"Huh?" asked a confused eight year old Naruto. The two older boys had found him on the swing just outside of the Academy. It was a little later in the afternoon, so everyone had already gone home. He didn't bother rushing home. Why would he? No one was waiting there for him.

"You're Uzumaki Naruto, aren't you? The one that the whole village calls a demon?" the second one asked, loathing evident in his voice.

Naruto sighed. He knew what was coming. He knew it would hurt. He knew he couldn't do a thing about it. The boys took his sigh as confirmation and Naruto braced himself as they charged him.

The faces that were twisted in sick satisfaction morphed into the slightly older faces of the two enthusiastic young men before him, their lips turned up into nervous smiles. It was the same two guys as back then.

"My autograph?" he asked, just to make sure he had heard correctly. At their eager nods, Naruto hesitantly took the paper in front of him, "O-ok."


Naruto signed the paper and handed it back to them. As they walked away, Naruto only had one thought, "I guess they forgot."

"What the hell!? Why didn't you punch them in the fucking face! Honestly, I don't ever think I'm going to understand your logic Naruto," Ino said as if Naruto were standing right there in front of her, "Seriously? You get the shit beat out of you and you meet them a few years later and give them your autograph?"

Ino shook her head in incredulity at his forgiving personality. There was no way that she would have been that nice.

She glanced at the brain one more time. That last one wasn't too bad. Not great, but not as bad as the first one. She wondered what the worst thing he experienced had been. As she thought that, she momentarily forgot that her hand was still on the image of his brain. She was suddenly pulled into another memory.

This had to have been the longest day of his life! Iruka-sensei had just given him his headband. He was officially a ninja! And now, thanks to Mizuki, he also knew why the village seemed to all hate him.

He touched his stomach. There was a fox demon, the Kyuubi, inside him. After getting his headband and making sure that ANBU had taken care of the unconscious Mizuki, Naruto had a long talk with the Third. He explained why he hadn't been told in the first place and about the fox itself and some…side effects of having it sealed in him.

But man was he exhausted! He had been up all night learning the Kage Bunshin no Jutsu, then he used a lot of his chakra to beat Mizuki into the ground, and then he had to spend the rest of the next day listening to Ji-ji talking about the blasted fox. Sure it was mostly interesting and all…but he was tired! Naruto couldn't wait to crawl into bed and just sleep!

He was now about two blocks from his apartment, blearily shuffling his way home, eyes straining to remain open and only half succeeding. He felt himself accidently bump into someone and wearily opened his eyes enough to look at the man. It was an older man, probably in his early forties, and he had a glare that made some of Naruto's worst tormentors seem like gentle kittens wanting to play.

However, Naruto being as tired as he was, merely bowed slightly and muttered out an apology. He then turned and walked the last two blocks to his apartment.

When he got to his building, he sighed in mild defeat as he half-heartedly glared at the stairs…he lived on the third floor. It took him much longer than usual to make it up what he now called the stairway of death.

He fumbled in his pockets for his keys and finally managed to get it into the lock. As he heard the lovely click indicating his return home, he also felt a large hand firmly and painfully placed on his right shoulder.

Shocked, Naruto looked up and stared into the face of the man he had just bumped into a few minutes before. He still maintained his glare, and if possible, it seemed to get more intense.

"Can I help you Yamura-san?" Naruto asked the older man, trying to keep the quiver from his voice. He knew this man. He owned the local sweets shop. Naruto was run out of there a few times and knew not to try to go back in. Every once in a while though, he was able to bribe someone else to go in for him to get some candy. Yamura-san was always nice to anyone that wasn't Naruto.

Instead of answering, the older man forcefully shoved Naruto into his small one-room apartment. He landed with a hard thud on his shoulder, already feeling the bruise start to form. Naruto heard the lock click again, and this time it wasn't such a pleasant sound. The young Genin looked up to see the imposing man standing in front of him. Before he could make a sound, he felt a sharp kick connect with his side, sending him halfway across the floor and breaking one of his ribs.

"You want to do something for me, you little piece of shit? How about you bring back the family that you stole from me?" he said through gritted teeth, punctuating it with another kick.

Naruto took a second to catch his breath. "What do you mean?" he gasped out, "I didn't hurt your fami- Oof!"

Another kick cut him off as Yamura seethed, "You killed them! My wife and child. My daughter was only ten!" Naruto let out a short yelp as he was pulled up by his hair, now smelling the sake on Yamura's breath, "Why do you get to live when they couldn't?"

Naruto felt the sting on his cheek as the older man punched him, sending him to the floor again. Naruto didn't even bother to move as he felt the blows raining down on him. He was too tired to defend himself. On top of that, he was use to this kind of treatment. He had been on the receiving end for as long as he could remember. While the initial blows hurt like hell, the ones after that started to have a numbing effect. Naruto also knew that he was a quick healer. Most of the wounds he sustained would be gone come morning. Now he knew why. It seemed like that fox healed him at a faster rate than most people would be able to normally. Naruto laughed sadly. At least having the Bijuu sealed in him had some perks.

Unfortunately for Naruto, the slightly inebriated man above him misinterpreted his soft laughter, "You think that's funny!? Are you some kind of masochist you twisted little fuck?"

Naruto's eyes widened slightly at the crazed tint that the man's voice had taken on. This wasn't good. He didn't know what was going to happen, but a crazed mad man was always worse than just a mad man.

"If pain doesn't do anything to you…than how about humiliation?" Yamura asked in an almost sweet tone. It made a cold sweat start to form on Naruto's forehead.

The next thing he knew, Naruto was stripped of his pants and boxers. He didn't even see the man do it! Now he was scared. This had never happened before. Was the guy going to castrate him or something?

With that thought in mind, Naruto skootched backwards with his hands and feet, trying to put as much distance between them as possible. Before he could get very far, he felt an iron-like vice grip on one of his ankles as he was dragged back and turned onto his stomach.

"Try laughing at this you fucking demon."

Before Naruto could comprehend what was happening, he felt an excruciating amount of pain, so different from what he was used to, originating from his backside. At some point during his panic, Yamura had removed his clothes as well and was now inside of him. A gut-wrenching scream made its way out of Naruto's throat that was quickly muffled by a piece of cloth being forceful shoved into his mouth.

Yamura cackled wickedly as he pumped in and out of Naruto's now bloodied bottom.

"What's wrong little demon? Can't handle it?" he gave a particularly rough thrust, causing another round of screams to come from the young blonde. "I noticed that you have a hitai-ate. They actually made a little fucker like you a ninja? How pathetic. You can't even defend yourself from a civilian! Come on, show me what you can do."

A demented smile made its way onto Yamura's face, "You want to kill me right? A demon child like yourself, of course you would. Go ahead, kill me." The man taunted, his smile becoming more twisted as time went on, "Oh, wait, I'm a citizen of this village. Which means that you have to protect me!" His laughter echoed and harmonized with Naruto's screams as Yamura continued to pound into him.

Naruto's throat felt raw. He couldn't remember ever feeling so much pain. After ten minutes of the torture filled with taunts and curses, Naruto finally started to feel numb. At that moment, Yamura released himself inside of Naruto with a grunt. The older man then wiped himself off with one of Naruto's discarded articles of clothing and redressed.

He made his way to the front door and looked back at the prone boy one the floor with disgust, "Just die already." And with that, he left.

Naruto laid there for several more minutes, his vacant eyes staring into nothingness. When he tried to get his limbs to respond, he felt the ache pierce through his body. He moved through the pain and slowly removed the makeshift gag from his mouth, absently noting that it was his own underwear. He gritted his teeth and dragged himself up off the floor and into his shower to wash off the blood and…other fluids. After a shower that was hot enough to blister the skin, he dazedly made his way to his bed and collapsed. As the tears flowed from his eyes in a never-ending stream, Naruto tried to go to sleep. "I have to go meet my new team tomorrow," he whispered brokenly through his quiet sobs.

Ino was forced from Naruto's head, the shock too great. As she came back into her own body, she could hear a heart-wrenching scream of terror and anguish. It took her a second to realize that it was coming from her. She had collapsed to her knees and was screaming with every fiber of her being. Only about a minute had passed in the real world, but it felt as if she had just gone through a lifetime of torture, and in a way she had.

Shikamaru and Sakura immediately stopped their sparring match and looked in horror at her. They quickly rushed over. By the time Sakura had made it to her side, Ino was retching up what little food she had in her stomach from that morning.

"Ino! What's wrong? What happened?" asked Sakura as she ran a green glowing hand over the blonde, trying to assess the damage that could have put her rival into such a state.

Shikamaru looked from his teammate to the other blonde that was a few feet away, just starting to become aware of his surroundings after the jutsu. "Naruto, what did you do to Ino?" he asked in an accusatory voice.

Naruto blinked a few times, then focused on the Yamanaka that was now hugging herself while rocking back and forth. He nervously scratched the back of his head. "It looks like she saw something she shouldn't have," he said simply.

Shikamaru scrunched up his face in confusion as he looked back to his teammate.

At the sound of Naruto's voice, Ino's head snapped up. She stared at him with impossibly wide eyes. "Why are you still alive?" she asked in barely a whisper.

The training grounds grew quiet at her seemingly violent statement. Naruto's posture changed from laid back to cautious in an instant, a small frown marring his face.

"Do you want me to die, too?" he asked, resignation rather than accusation filling his voice, a sad look hidden behind his eyes.

Ino wordlessly shook her head. She tried to get to her feet, stumbling slightly, but was caught and supported by Shikamaru and Sakura. They were both highly confused as to what was transpiring right then. As Ino tried to step towards the Jinchuuriki, the other two solidified their hold on the mind-walker, stopping her from doing something reckless. Ino quickly shook them off and stumbled forward until she was standing right in front of Naruto. He didn't move and just waited. She leaned into him and grabbed his jacket, burying her face in his chest and shaking her head back and forth. He stiffened slightly from the contact, but didn't try to remove her.

"How are you still alive? How can you smile? How could you save a village like ours instead of just destroying it? How!?" she asked, tears running down her cheeks.

Naruto stiffened more as she spoke, "Ino…what did you see?"

Ino continued to shake her head, her face still in his jacket. He pulled her away from himself and held her at arms-length, forcing her to look at him.

"What did you see!?" he asked with urgency, a crease forming between his brows.

Ino replied in a whisper so that Naruto was the only one that could hear her, "Your sixth birthday, those guys that wanted your autograph and…"

She drifted off, not wanting to say the last part, not wanting to acknowledge its existence, let alone that she had witnessed it. Naruto saw her hesitation, dread growing in the pit of his stomach, "And what?"

She looked away from him, her voice barely audible, "The night after you graduated."

The change in Naruto was instantaneous. His eyes were round from disbelief, fear concealed just beneath the surface. When Ino glanced up at him, she gasped when she saw them change from blue to a deep, blood red. When she blinked, they were back to normal. Before she could sigh in relief, she felt an enormous pressure. Naruto wasn't suppressing his chakra anymore. It started to whip around them, making the grass and trees sway as if a strong gust of wind had suddenly picked up. It was making it hard for her to breath. The sheer weight of it was suffocating! If he didn't have a grip on her shoulders, she wasn't sure if she could even stand in the presence of this much power! The two shinobi behind them were barely keeping upright themselves, shocked at Naruto's unrestrained power.

It lasted only a few moments before he realized what was happening and reined it in. He gripped her arms in a slightly tighter, but not uncomfortable, hold. "Never repeat what you saw Yamanaka Ino. If you do, I swear that you will regret it," he growled out in a low voice.

"Naruto!" shouted Sakura, aghast at the deliberate threat. Her protest was ignored by the blondes.

"Promise me Ino," Naruto said firmly.

Ino couldn't do more than nod her head obediently, too overcome by the magnitude of the moment to do anything else.

At her nod, Naruto released her and turned to his teammate, "Sorry, Sakura-chan, I'm going to go clear my head. I'll see you later." And with that, he disappeared, leaving the other three shinobi at a loss for words. Ino made her way over to her things and gathered them up before quietly leaving herself. She needed to clear her head, too.

Ino had made her way into the shopping district of Konoha. She hadn't bought anything, but it was a nice distraction. She had been aimlessly walking around for almost four hours. She should probably be heading home soon.

"Good evening Ino-chan," came a kindly voice to her left. Ino looked over and had to force back the look of disgust that wanted to make itself present on her face. She wanted to yell, she wanted to scream curses at this horrible excuse for a man. She wanted to make him bleed and hear his mangled cries echo through the whole of Konoha for the atrocities that he had committed. Instead, she used all her kunoichi training and produced a small smile, hoping that it would look tired rather then forced.

"Good evening Yamura-san, how have you been?"

"Oh, the same as ever. I feel as though I have sugar running through my veins from being surrounded by all that candy," he chuckled a bit at his longtime joke with her. When she didn't respond with the usual 'maybe that's why you're always so sweet' that she had started when she was just a child, he looked up and noticed that she was lost in thought. He looked at her for a few moments when she heard him whisper, "You look so much like my late wife."

Grasping at a way to distract herself from the many ways she could kill him and have no one the wiser for it, she latched onto this string of conversation. He never talked about his family, and still being her, she had an innate need to know as much about people as she could. "What was she like?"

The older man smiled gently, causing Ino to both gag inwardly at how natural he seemed and at the same time, start to doubt her earlier revelations about this man. Could he really have been the monster of those nightmares?

"She was about your height, loved wearing her hair long, and always had a slight mischievous glint to her smile, like she knew all your secrets," he laugh quietly under his breath as he was lost to his memories, "She even had blonde hair and blue eyes, though a bit different than yours."

"Different how?"

"Your color is softer. Hers was more vibrant! Her eyes were the brightest sapphire blue that I had ever seen and her hair was like sunshine."

Ino tried picturing it and one face suddenly popped into her mind, her heart plummeting slightly. "Naruto." He had bright blue eyes and hair like sunshine and his smile practically screamed mischief.

The man's face before her suddenly lost the serenity of his memories and gained a scowl that would rival her childhood crush. "What did you say?"

She didn't even realize that she had said the name out loud, "Sorry, I just thought about one of my comrades. He somewhat fits that description as well," she said, trying to smile despite her tongue's sudden lapse in reliability.

His eyes shadowed and he no longer looked like the caring man she had known all her life. Now he resembled the nightmare. "Never say that thing's name around me again," he spat out with venom, "How dare you compare it to Haruka."

"Thing? It?" Ino stared in disbelief, she felt some of her tightly concealed anger start to slip, "Naruto is a person, for your information!"

"That monster is nothing of the sort. It's the reason I lost my family all those years ago."

She was momentarily stupefied by the blatant hatred coming from this man.

"That person is a ninja of Konoha and one of my friends!"

"Then you should choose your friends more carefully, dear. He's dangerous."

"So am I," she said through gritted teeth, "So is every ninja that lives and breathes in this city! We all have the potential to be dangerous to the people here, but like Naruto, we have chosen to defend it instead."

Yamura scoffed, "That monster is the reason countless people died."

"Naruto's the one that is sealing the monster to keep countless others safe! And you, you small-minded bigot, are one of the ones that he's protecting!"

"Oh, the thing is protecting me? Well, it should just die while on one of its missions, then I woud feel safe."

Ino saw red. The last bit of resolve that she possessed to keep her temper in check snapped. She drew back her fist and slammed it forward, hoping to knock the older man into next week. She never got the pleasure. Her hand was caught mere inches from his suddenly terrified face. When she looked to see who had stopped her from delivering sweet justice, her breath caught.


He gave her an unreadable look as she slowly lowered her hand. His face had a strange neutrality as he glanced at Yamura, who was still in shock. The young Jinchuuriki straightened and addressed her in a rather monotone voice, "Ino, the Hokage wants to see us about our next mission. I'll escort you there."

Ino looked at him in disbelief. He was being too natural and too formal. It was a strange combination that was so out of place with the usually hyperactive blonde. He turned to the older man and bowed slightly, "I'm sorry to cut your conversation with Yamanaka-san off, but we must be going. Goodnight."

With that, Naruto grabbed Ino's arm and dragged her away before she could protest.

"Naruto, where are you taking me?" Ino asked as they passed through another backroad. Most of the civilians never came back this way and the few who would were most likely on their way home by now, "The Hokage just gave me the rest of the week off, so I know she doesn't-"

"What did you think you were doing?" he said, anger clearly visible in his features.

"What was I doing," she murmured. She shook her arm out of his grasp then spoke louder, "What was I doing!? That was him wasn't it? I recognize him from your memories! He was the one who-"

"Who what?" he yelled, interrupting her mid-rant, "Can you really say it out loud? I sure as hell can't! I don't even want to remember it!"

She paused and could literally feel the anger leaving her body.

"You weren't even supposed to see those memories. You had no right to go snooping through my head!"

He stopped himself from continuing and closed his eyes, taking a deep breath to compose himself. Naruto looked at her after a brief moment with a stern gaze, "He is just the old man that owns the sweets shop down the road. He was the one that always gave you a free piece of candy whenever you came into his store, wasn't he?"

"How did you-"

"I may have been labeled as an idiot, but I was more observant then most people gave me credit for. I had to be to survive."

He paused a moment but saw that she wasn't going to comment, "Now, was he not the one that always treated you kindly and gave you free candy?"

Ino nodded slowly.

"Then that's what he is. Treat him like you always have. What you saw in my head as a dream. A really bad dream that I pushed into the corners of my mind. It never really happened," Naruto stated, his voice catching a bit at the end. Seeing her about to protest he looked at her firmly.

"It was just a dream. Say it."

"I-it was too real to be a dream," Ino said hesitantly, still in shock, "There was no way someone that young could think like that! Not to where it manifested itself into a dream in the first place. Not unless something like that actually happened." She argued. Ino looked down at the ground and clenched her fists. How could he ask her to just pretend like she didn't know!?


Her head snapped up. His voice was almost hoarse from the repressed emotions. Never had she heard him sound so desperate before in the many years that she had known him. He was the number one hyperactive, knucklehead ninja. He was always so happy and strong. Now she knew that that was just a front. An act so that no one would see just how broken he was. Now he looked at her with tears barely suppressed in his eyes, "Please, say it."

"I-it was just a dream," she said in barely more than a whisper, hard-pressed to let the words escape her lips. How could she pretend not to know? How could she deny him the request to let himself forget? She felt almost numb.

He nodded stiffly, showing that he heard her, then turned and walked away. She stood there in the alleyway motionless for a few minutes longer before the first sob made its way out of her mouth. Soon, the tears were cascading down her cheeks as she slumped to her knees and just cried for the boy that no one truly knew. He even denied himself the closure that the truth would bring.

She didn't know how long she stayed there and cried, but when she finally composed herself, she noticed that the streetlamps had long since been lit. She wiped the lingering tears and slowly started making her way home, her arm seeming to tingle from where he had grabbed her to drag her away from her nearly violent fit. Now that she thought about it, even with of the underlying fury that Naruto was holding at the time, she realized that while his grip was firm, he made sure it wasn't to the point where it would hurt her. She gave a sad chuckle. Even when he was angry, he was still so gentle. And it wasn't until today that she truly saw just how far his kindness went.

And there we have it! Sorry for the cliff-hanger ending, but this just seemed like a good stopping point. This was my first one-shot, and no, there won't be any updates. I hope you…enjoyed?(...I think that's the right word, though considering the semi-gruesome content I'm not sure) this fanfic! Please review so I know what your thoughts and feelings are regarding it!