Disclaimer: Naruto does not belong to me, nor am I making any money off of this work of fanfiction.

Warnings: Implied yaoi, parody of Naruto fandom.

A Logical Conclusion

The disturbance took place in the very center of Market Street. It wasn't a particularly loud or violent disturbance, but it momentarily distracted some shoppers from their perusal of the fishmonger's goods.

"I see you managed to salvage your precious hair." Yamanaka Ino smirked and gestured to Haruno Sakura's recently-shorn locks, now done up in a neat pixie cut. Sakura narrowed her eyes. Of course, Ino had helped to "salvage" Sakura's hair herself, but now was not the time to bring up such things.

"At least I don't have to hide my hair in a tea bag," Sakura said. Ino touched her hair covering self-consciously. She happened to think it looked very nice, thank you very much!

Ino narrowed her eyes. She'd be damned if she didn't give as good as she got.

"Does Sasuke-kun like your hair now that it's short, Sakura-chan?" she said. "Does he compliment you on it when you visit him in the hospital?" Losing interest, the shoppers selected salmon for dinner and went on their way.

Sakura smirked. "At least he likes it when I visit with him. He always looks like he's swallowed something nasty after you leave." Ino reeled for a moment, then recovered.

"That's probably 'cause he has to look at your huge--"

"Ino," interrupted Shikamaru, startling her a bit. She'd forgotten he was there. "If you're gonna pick a fight, I'm gonna go. No way I'm gonna get a lecture from Asuma-sensei again just 'cause you've got Sasuke problems."

Ino rolled her eyes. "Fine."

Shikamaru stuck his hands in his pockets and walked off towards the Ichiraku, muttering something about girls and obsessive tendencies. Ino stuck her tongue out at his back. Stupid boys, what did they know? Some things were more important than punctuality, and anyway she'd just bat her eyelashes at Asuma-sensei and everything would be forgiven, right? Right. Everyone knew all old men shared a weakness for sexy young girls.

"Hah, you really think Sasuke-kun will like someone who'd rather fight over him than train, Ino-pig?" Sakura sneered, brushing past her and walking in the exact opposite direction of where Ino was supposed to be going. Ino snorted. That girl irritated her so much! She dashed to catch up to Sakura, and they marched down the street shoulder-to-shoulder, forcing various innocent bystanders out of their way.

"As if he'll ever know! Besides, I'm sure you spend all of your training time looking at him instead of the target, right, Sakura-chan? I'm sure he finds that attractive." The pair almost ran over an old lady, who was able to dodge in time, thanks to her long life as a ninja, but nearly lost her basket of vegetables in the process.

"That's not true! Sasuke-kun complimented me the other day, at the first test!" Sakura's face flushed with fury. Ino smiled. It felt so good to get a rise out of Sakura.

"Oh, with his 'your genjutsu knowledge is the most improved' crap? He was probably just trying to make you feel better so you wouldn't chicken out on the test."

"That's more than he ever says to you!" Sakura's voice shook, and Ino knew she'd hit a nerve.

"Hey, you two, watch where you're going!" Ino looked up. They'd run into a bear-like man in a cook's apron, who glared down at them like they'd just interrupted his hibernation. Paralyzed, the two girls stared at him until the man waved his spatula at them in annoyance.

"Ah, forget it. Just get out of here, OK? You're bothering the customers." He gestured to the cart in front of him, where a small throng of people awaited their chance to order fresh tea and mochi. The pair tiptoed around the man, then quickly turned onto a comparatively empty street. Once they were sure they wouldn't run into anyone else, they resumed their bickering.

"I'll bet most of what he says to you is stuff like 'Get out of the way, you useless girl!'" Ino said. Sakura dropped her eyes, and Ino wondered whether she'd really hurt her this time. Would she go back to being the old, submissive Sakura, the one who wouldn't fight for herself? Or--

"At least my only skill isn't something virtually useless like 'Mind/Body Switch!'" Ino almost smiled, but managed to hold it in. Looked like their friendship had meant something to Sakura after all.

They exited the alley between the buildings that formed the "back wall" of the market and entered the grove of cherry trees on the other side. Ino remembered her dad telling her something about it being there to raise the property value, offsetting the clamor of Market Street with the peace of the grove, but she never paid attention to him when he went on those kinds of rants. She put the thought out of her mind.

"You've got a point there," Ino said, pretending to ponder. "Your special skill isn't useless--oh wait, you don't have one, do you?" She tossed her head to show off her hair, then remembered she didn't have it anymore.

"Shut up."

"Like hell."

"No, I mean, shh." Sakura had left Ino's side to crouch behind one if the cherry trees, her eyes focused on something deeper in the grove. Ino crept up behind Sakura, curious.

"What is it?" she whispered. Sakura pointed. Ino followed the line of her finger with her eyes. It wasn't the strangest thing she'd ever seen, but it was up there.

Hatake Kakashi, aka the Copy Ninja, Leaf's #1, and Umino Iruka, her former schoolteacher, were standing in the grove together. Ino frowned, confused. She didn't see any reason they'd be spending time together at all, but she also didn't see why Sakura was bothering to spy on them. Then again, Sakura had always had a better eye for these kinds of situations than she had.

"What's the big deal?" she asked, only to be shushed by Sakura. Still confused, she looked back at the two teachers.

"So..." said Iruka, looking at Kakashi curiously. "You wanted to see me?"

"Yeah." Kakashi looked off to the side for a moment, then back at Iruka. "I think I owe you something." Iruka blushed, but it faded quickly.

"Is this... about last night?" he asked. Ino blinked, then slowly raised a hand to her mouth.

"Yeah," said Kakashi. He ambled over to Iruka and stood in front of him.

"Ah, don't worry about it," said Iruka, scratching the back of his neck and smiling uncomfortably. "I don't mind doing it--I mean, I've been in the same situation myself--"

"Be quiet." Iruka immediately fell silent, staring at the taller man. Then Kakashi did something completely unexpected. He took Iruka's hand in his own.

Iruka blushed. Sakura blushed. Ino blushed. And all three blushed even more when Kakashi took his other hand out of his pocket and pressed it into Iruka's. Kakashi leaned in. Cherry blossom petals wafted around in a sudden gust of wind. Ino's eyes widened. She held her breath. Slowly, ever so slowly, closer and closer, just about there--

She nearly fainted when Kakashi bypassed the other's face entirely and instead whispered in his ear. She froze when Kakashi drew back, terrified that he'd see her. But she sighed in relief when Kakashi simply let go of Iruka's hand and said, "I'll see you tomorrow at noon, in front of the shrine."

With a puff of smoke, Kakashi disappeared. Iruka gazed at the hand Kakashi had held with an unreadable expression. As one, the two girls ran back through the alley to Market Street to find their fellow genin, their previous quarrel forgotten.

After all, there was only one thing in the world more important than rivalry, and that was gossip.

~*~To be continued~*~