Notes: I'm usually not interested in writing multi-chaptered fics about minor characters, but for some reason Ino's jutsu abilities tickled a little plot bunny in me last night. So here's the start of something that I'll probably add to sporadically over time: a long fic about Ino, her abilities, how she grew up, and her future, based around her progression and growth as a ninja.

Suggested listening music: "Doctors of Deliverance" by Crooked Fingers, on repeat.

The Mindwalker Ninja

1 – Mind Your Mind

Yamanaka Inoshi had a favorite saying, a small diamond of wisdom that was his family's answer to every situation—every "what if" that the youngest apprentice asked and every nightmare that haunted battle-worn ninjas in their sleep. From his great-grandfather to his grandmother to his mother it was passed, and from his mother to him to his own little girl. It was simple, short, and he was determined to make sure it was the first sentence that Ino learned to speak.

He held his newborn daughter in his arms, and whispered to her through the tears as they covered his wife's body with a hospital sheet.

"Mind your mind, little Ino."

The phrase had a myriad of purposes for the Yamanaka clan; the practical definition of it was "Watch your head," asking a loved one to be careful and take care. There was also the meaning as it applied to little children, to obey one's conscience and always do right. And just as easily it meant "don't sulk" or "think it over."

The abstract, and ultimately truest definition was a literal interpretation of the phrase. Be aware of mental traps, be aware of invaders, and be aware of genjutsu. To protect your mind from assault and from madness, because in the end you had nothing more precious than your inner self and your power of reason. But it meant more than just to guard one's mind, it meant to be aware of one's thoughts at all times— to know your own thoughts before you know anything else, because in the end a strong mind was the house of a strong ninja.

It should be no surprise that confidence and force of personality came easy to Yamanaka children.