Disclaimer: The standard disclaimers, as always, applies.
Genre: It will develop into Romance, but right now, its just Tragedy/General. Ahh, a romantic tragedy. You could say that this is an alternate universe… this is the biggest story plot twisting that I did out of all my fic.
Author's Note: DEFINITELY not beta-ed and not even rechecked for typo-errors (AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN). To be discontinued or on Hiatus. SORRY.
Pairing: It's Naruto/Ino
Summary: Let's put it this way, at the age of seventeen Naruto has already proven his worth and is becoming known as ONE of the best Konoha Shinobi around. Also he was always optimistic and never lets his past bother him nor does he ask who his parents were. Then later on, he learns how to really love only to realize that it was a mistake since the beginning because of the Unwanted Truth.
Word Count: 4,500 plus estimated
In only an hour's worth of this new training style and Naruto is already exhausted to the brim. Ever since he can remember, he had never ever completed a single meditation in his entire life. Even Jiraiya, the frog hermit, just suddenly stopped after training him to no avail for two weeks. However, he realized that Jiraiya's training was nothing compared to what he was going through right now.
As of the moment, he was sitting on the tree in a normal meditating position except for the fact that… he was doing it upside down… He knew for a fact that controlling chakra was one thing and meditation was another thing. He could not grasp the fact or the theory behind how the two people with him today could easily do this! The silence stretching in that part of the training area was already making him restless and to add injury to the fire, Ino and her Mom, Miho, looked as if they've already fallen asleep long ago in the most comfortable position of all!
'What part, exactly, of meditating upside down is easy?' He asked himself in a whispered contempt. He had already given up on meditating for a long while after falling four times in a row without even a budge from the two people who were looking more like hanging squirrels than respectable women! No offense meant to that but as of that particular moment he was already imagining tails & furs growing out of the two. 'Now, that made me feel a lot better!'
Suddenly, Naruto felt as if he was being stomped by thousands of elephants all over his body, which was followed by the feeling that his brain was being squeezed out of his skull. He couldn't breath, no, it just felt like he could not breath but he knew fully well that he was still breathing at that moment. He landed on the ground and looked around his surrounding and immediately went into a fighting stance in an effort to protect the two women whom he thought to be vulnerable at the moment, but his senses were being dimmed from the pressure that seems attack on his mind.
"Ahh! Naruto – " Naruto instantly looked over his shoulder to see Ino already standing behind him with a puzzled expression on her lovely face. "I knew it! You didn't meditate! Am I right?"
Puzzled by the flow of conversation, Naruto wanted to tell her to protect herself from the current attack, but then realization hit him at her words.
"You definitely will not like it if you do not meditate especially if you come with us… Oh yes, Naruto-kun… we will surely know." Ino playfully smirked at him with that final word before they started the training.
"Ohh… So that's what it was…" Naruto mumbled, his cheeks reddening from shame. "But… why did that happen?"
"It's from meditating, there are two divisions that we do during meditation. We separated a fraction of our mind for it. When we start our meditation we center almost all part of our being, including our chakra within the confines of ourselves, and at the same time isolating a fraction of our brain to function and control the emission of at least an ample amount of chakra on our lower part to keep ourselves attached to the branch. As we end our meditation, we release every chakra in an instant as we slowly wake from our sleep state hence the heaviness in the air."
"uhhuh…" Naruto nodded unsurely, not really getting a hold of the idea. "I didn't get that well enough but I'd be glad if you explain it to me next time in the far future."
"At that rate, you'll never learn." Ino sighed.
"Even I , myself, am not confident with this aspect of my training." Naruto sighed.
"Honestly, Naruto-chan, We won't get anywhere unless you learn this… This is the basics of all the techniques that we will try to learn in the future." Miho explained.
"Eh!?? B-but, what's gonna happen now? At this rate, I'll definitely be stuck!" he complained "By the way, what else is there to learn after this?"
"Well, honestly, the only thing that we will be able to teach you after this is the mind defense techniques" Ino grinned, "but you won't get anywhere if you don't learn that."
"But for now, this session is finished and we'll just meet again tomorrow. Same time and place." Miho smiled lovingly at Naruto before handing him an itenary sheet, "Genryuumaru-dono asked me to give you this, its your schedule starting today until you've finished all that is written there. You don't have to finish it all in a day so don't push yourself too hard alright? Good luck with your clan mission, Naruto."
"Hah!, That'll be just a piece of cake!" Naruto smirked at the two & prepared to leave, "See you again tomorrow!"
"Hmnn… Let's see, first stop is the Karin's Bakery." Naruto grinned to himself as he stopped in front of the store, "I wonder if they'll give me some goodies after I finished whatever work they'll give me."
"What are you doing there just standing in front of my store?" A man in his mid-thirties yelled at him, "You came here to work, not to give off bad luck to my store! Go inside and make yourself useful and do not ever show yourself to my customers."
The man never noticed the change that happened to Naruto's expression that were gone in an instant. Naruto just answered him with his trademark grin and proceeded silently inside the store. 'Keep it cool, Naruto! You can do this with flying colors Naruto.'
He continued this mantra inside his head for the entire day that he spent there, realizing that the man would never let him go that day.
"Stop grinning you fool." The man, who Naruto learned from the two other workers with him was named Shiki looked at him with contempt and accidentally threw the bread roller to Naruto and smirked.
Naruto whose back was turned caught it as if it was nothing and walked over to Shiki to hand it over. "Shiki-san, your bread roller slipped."
"Damn you." Shiki angrily took the roller back and went back to the store.
"Don't mind him, don't mind!" Rica, Shiki's thirteen years old neice, smiled at Naruto, "he's like that ninety percent of the time… but he's treating you harder than the rest."
"I did noticed that." Naruto sighed before smiling genuinely back at the two workers. "but thanks to the two of you this work doesn't seem that hard."
"My mom said that he wasn't like that before. You see, my mom was working with them before when his daughter Karin was still alive, but I heard that she was killed during the Kyuubi rampage… I heard that their house caught fire & they couldn't save her. Since then he became bitter." Jun, the other worker who was almost the same age as Rica, supplied further thinking that it would make the conversation interesting. As it always had ever since he remembered.
"Now, I see…" From then, Naruto's smile never returned the entire day. He continued working the entire day until there was nothing left for him to work on that Shiki had grudgingly allowed him to leave by sunset. Rica and Jun followed him with their eyes as he prepared to leave and sighed, not knowing what they did.
As Naruto walked towards the door, many things was running through his mind. He knew that he made Rica and Jun feel very uneasy and nervous around him. He also knew that he shouldn't let this kind of stuffs get to him. He most especially knew that things will get harder from here on. He knew what to expect. This made him stop before he could completely walk out the door. "Yosh! That is right. I can't stray from my path. I know what to do and how to do it. Self-pity, anger and everything else… I can't have room for them."
A decision was made before closing the first door of his first task. Another promise he must keep, even if it was a promise to his own self. And with this affirmation, he turned around and gave the Shiki, Rica and Jun his sincerest smile and his most playful display. "I'm sorry for how I acted half the day, but I promise to make it up to you! Shiki-san, I'll show you and everybody in this clan that I'm not the monster that you make me out of and I'll never be. I'll visit next time to help out again. Ja ne!"
Rica and Jun looked at each other puzzled by his outburst while Shiki looked on at the swaying door with both an irritated and amused smirk on his face. 'Let me see what you've got boy. We will see.'
"I'm back!" Naruto greeted as he entered the main house and was pleasantly surprised as Ino peaked through the corridor with an inviting smile on his face.
"Welcome back, Naruto-kun. You're right on time, We were just waiting for you before we start dinner."
"Cool, I'm really hungry now…" Naruto smiled back, "But what are you doing here?"
"It's my 1st clan duty… My punishment, if we put it in other words." She answered back as they walked along the corridor.
"They're not giving you a hard time right?"
"Nope" Ino smiled before whispering, "I'll tell you a secret."
"I'm one of Genryuumaru-Ojisama's favorite students," She smirked, "Let's just say that he's giving me lighter punishment than the rest that I'm going to receive in the future."
"Really?" Naruto grinned, "I knew that old man was cool! So what's your punishment?"
She gave him a conspiratorial smirk, "You'll see after dinner!"
"Hey! That's not fair!"
"I know." She said finally before opening the door to the dining area.
Dinner went quietly and comfortably well. Genryuumaru asked him about his first mission which he answered with a smirk and told him his decision on the matter, earning another level of respect from the two people with him in dinner.
"By the way, Ino will be going here this entire week for house cleaning and of course, to be your guide while learning the scrolls I gave you." Genryuumaru leaned in closer to Naruto looking as though he was forcing himself not to laugh, "And good luck to you… Ino, well, let's just say that you might not like this episode, I won't be surprised if you learned sooner."
"W-why? What do you mean?"
Naruto's question was answered sooner than he had expected and he did not like it one bit. To say that Ino was a scary teacher was an understatement. She was a downright terror. She was Naruto's nightmare come true.
'Oh God. I'd take on ten Iruka-sensei than her.' Naruto muttered to himself earning him another hit on the head. "I heard that. Keep quiet and finish those two scrolls I've assigned to you."
Naruto had no choice but to sigh, "Hai, hai."
The silence was too ear numbing. In the middle of the night a lone figure sat on the tree branch, silently looking towards the Konohagakure with eyes holding no emotions. His dark locks waved together with the wind and his pale skin was reflected by the moonlight. A few hours afterwards, the silence was disrupted by a few rogue-nins rushing towards the direction of the village. The lone man just kept silent, not wanting to be interrupted. However, his effort was wasted as one of the rogue-nin stopped on his track before he could completely stumble upon the man.
"Shit, who are you?" The rogue-nin asked. The rest of the troop also stopped dead on their tracks.
"No one." The man answered. "Leave, before I decide to kill you."
Another rogue-nin who was obviously the leader as shown on the gold plated hand gloves he wore gave a signal which in turn made the rest of the group round up on the man. Commanding the troop quietly, "Kill him. We can't leave any witness."
"Hokage-sama, there's been an alarming incident just last night on the borders." Kotetsu started, seeing the Hokage's silent approval, he continued, "Apparently, ten Rogue-nins were found under coma at dawn. They were identified to be from the Hidden Mist and Grass Village."
Shizune and Sakura, who were also in the room looked on at Kotetsu with surprise. Tsunade straightened from her seat at this news, "Any suspects?"
"None at all. There were neither tracks nor clue left on the scene that would have been left as a clue. It was a clean slate."
"What about the rogue-nins?" Tsunade asked him again, "How was their medical finding?"
"Almost all of them suffered from an advanced genjutsu technique, two had internal bleeding and concussions, five had serious lacerations all over their body. The rest were just simply in coma." Kotetsu sighed, "Unfortunately, the medic-nins could not confirm when they will wake up. They have been theorizing that at least four of them will suffer from mental damages."
"Send out public warning to all villagers to avoid going out to the forest or anywhere that is close to the borders especially if they're alone. The criminal may still be there and we cannot afford any casualty from our own village. Also send an urgent message to the villages concerned about this incident. Finally, I want you to dispatch the Jounins who are free at the moment around the village and along the borders. I want results the next time you report."
"Hai, Tsunade-sama." Kotetsu stood up and left the room.
"Shizune" Tsunade called out to her, "Do another check-up on the Rogue-nins. Research and find out the jutsu used at them. I have a guess about this and I want to make sure."
"Hai, Tsunade-sama." Shizune nodded, "I'll look in to it as soon as possible."
"Hai, Tsunade-shishou." Sakura waited for Tsunade to continue.
"I want you to go to the Yamanakan Main house and see Naruto's progress. I want a comprehensive report on him, afterwards go to the Nara Laboratory to see if there's any new progress on Naruto's situation. It's been three days and I haven't heard any news or development from them so I want you to go there and find out what's going on. And why don't you spend sometime with Naruto? I won't rush you, it's been a while since you've spent time together."
"Hai, Tsunade-shishou." Shizune and Sakura left together not seeing the forming grin on Tsunade's face as the door finally closed. "Hehh, Finally, I can sleep."
"Maybe I should buy Naruto some Pork Ramen… I wonder how he is doing?" Sakura spoke to herself as she got nearer the Ichiraku Store. "I might as well make it two, knowing how his stomach works."
"Talking to your self now, Sakura?" Kiba appeared beside her, "Are you going to Naruto?"
"Hai, Tsunade-sama asked me to go see his progress."
"I'll go with you then, I have nothing else to do. I was late for the sudden meeting the Hokage called, so I couldn't get a part in the search mission."
"Ahh, I see. I guess it won't hurt if you go." Sakura smiled at Kiba and Akamaru, "I just need to buy some Ramen for Naruto."
"Really?" Kiba then smiled at her convincingly, "Why don't we just invite him and also Ino later you report back to the Hokage? Don't forget that Naruto promised to treat us."
"Ah! Yes you're right. Why don't we do that?" Sakura nodded at him and with that they were gone, racing through the rooftops to get to the place faster.
As they reached the Main house, they were greeted by Genryuumaru who seemed to be waiting for them. Kiba was asked to stay out in the front porch as Sakura was lead to the conference area of the house. After a few brief formalities, Sakura started to ask Genryuumaru about Naruto's progress.
"Honestly, I am a little bit mystified myself about his conditions. I myself want to ask you some things concerning him but it can wait for now." Genryuumaru sighed before he continued, "As I have heard from his trainer, Miho, the boy can't seem to grasp the most basic of our techniques, and if I may say so myself, it is the easiest of all. If this continues, I don't think he will ever learn other more advanced mind jutsus. The Hokage knows very well why I am bothered by this. In his current position he cannot afford not to have any defensive measures."
"What basic techniques are you talking about Genryuumaru-dono?"
"Concentration and Meditation. Actually, that's the main point. Concentration and meditation is the root of almost all our techniques, without it, he can never advance at all and Miho tells me that he simply does not know how to do it."
"Actually, he's always had that problem ever since I can remember, but I do know that he can meditate, I am 100 sure of it. He's just really slow on taking up stuffs and retaining it but he makes up with it through his wits."
"So, that's what you say," He looked at her seriously, "Are you saying that maybe he is playing pranks on us?"
"No." Sakura's tone raised a few level in disagreement, "I will never believe that Genryuumaru-dono. Forgive me for my impudence but Naruto is way past being a kid, he has grown into one of the most responsible men I've ever seen. So please Sir, don't ever judge him and say that he's doing something that is less than serious."
"I see, thank you for your insight. I promise to take note of that."
"Thank you Genryuumaru-dono."
"Would you like to see Naruto and Ino today?" Genryuumaru smiled at her, "I think they're in Naruto's room studying. I think Naruto put his clan missions on hold in exchange for some serious studying. I think he wants to finish his sessions with Ino in the soonest possible time."
"Really Sir?" Sakura looked so surprised, "But Naruto exchanging mission for more studying? I've got to see this and can we invite them out later?"
"Go ahead child, and you can bring your friend along." Genryuumaru smiled before adding in a mysterious tone, "You'll see what we mean…"
Sakura and Kiba walked towards the door located on the south wing of the main house. As they went closer to the said room, they could already hear scribbles of pens, a while later they heard Naruto's voice on the opposite side of the wall…
"A-anou… Anou-sa, Ino-chan, Ah, I mean sensei…" Naruto, all but whispered. "Ah… hehehh… I can't seem to get this part on Familial Retribution, Part IV…"
Sakura slowly peeked on the small opening at the door. She saw Ino glaring at Naruto menacingly before responding, "and?..."
"Why would you need to have expressed approval just to get unpunished?"
"What?" Ino inquired again, her tone rising a little bit higher.
"Uhu… See its written here, If wronged without expressed approval by the council and the head of the house," Naruto scratched his head.
"Naruto, how can you not get such a simple thing?" Her tone raised yet again.
"Uhh, I-I mean, doesn't it directly mean that if you were wronged, it was without approval?"
"Of course not!" Ino's eyebrows were twitching now, "Naruto, you're not living in a perfect world, at times, somebody with a higher position than you, will either get angry or pissed off at you with or without reason at all. If they deemed you worthy to be treated as dirt, they will. Then, you can't do anything at all. That is why we take the utmost care in selecting our council in the first place."
"But isn't that a bit---"
"Ahh! Naruto! You ask too many questions." Ino's voice now reached another high. "I told you I'll only answer one question per part so you should just ask the most important ones."
"But that wasn't another---" Naruto stopped abruptly, seeing the death glare his way 'question. It was a follow-up!'
Sakura's sweat dropped. She was inwardly laughing at Ino's attempt to be calm and Naruto's predicament that she decided to make their presence known and save them both.
"Alright alright, stop it you two," Sakura entered smiling and clapping her hands, "We're eating out with Kiba at Ichiraku and it's Naruto's treat."
"Sakura-chan!" Naruto crawled fast towards her hugging her in the legs with fake tears on his eyes and his most disarming pout. "Help me! She's a monster I tell you! She's just here to make my life a living hell! Help me, help me!"
"Naruto, stop that." Sakura was rolling over with laughter inside. "You're acting like a baby."
"I don't care."
"Ahh, if it isn't forehead lady." Ino smirked. "Alright, why don't we go out and unwind for a while? I think Naruto-kun needs some air."
Naruto literally shivered which wasn't left unnoticed by Sakura then relaxed afterwards and stood up. Kiba was also rolling over with laughter on the background. "Damn Naruto, this is the best show I've ever seen!"
"I swear she could be your sister." Naruto whispered not noticing the veins forming in his friend's face, "You both have this split personality that makes you act like scary old hags at one time then loving ladies in the next."
Kiba saw Sakura and Ino glare madly at Naruto and punched him and threw him to the wall. He all but whispered, "Damn again Naruto, did you really have to say those words of all things?"
The group finally made it to Ichiraku by four in the afternoon and surprisingly intact after all the ruckus they've created and a few sermons from Genryuumaru. Naruto Sat between Ino and Sakura where as Kiba sat besides Ino. He happily ordered himself two pork ramen stating that he hasn't been eating it for a few days now which makes it a record streak since he always, always, eats at Ichiraku at least once a day when without mission.
"So Naruto, how have you been?" Teuchi, who was preparing the soup for the next bacth of ramen that he will be making, instantly asked, assuming that Naruto went on a mission. "What kind of mission was it this time?"
"Oh, you don't wanna know, Teuchi-san." Sakura answered with a smile before Naruto could open his mouth. "He's done it again. The number one ninja in surprising us. We're just glad that everything worked out fine for now."
"Why? What happened?"
"I'm sorry Teuchi-jiisan but this is something I can't tell yet." Naruto spoke with an apologizing tone.
"Ah, I see." Teuchi smiled back at the group and continued on his work.
Things happened so fast and so slow at the same time. At one instance, Teuchi was still standing but the next thing they saw was the pot of boiling hot ramen soup flying towards them and Teuchi falling back towards the counter. Naruto immediately before anyone could move and moved back enough to give him momentum as he kicked the pot of soup on the streets only earning some minor burns.
"Naruto!" The three surprised ninjas snapped as the heard the clanking of the pot on the ground and Naruto's kneeling form beside it.
Then again, before Sakura could even move, Ino beat her to it and immediately came to Naruto's side and started healing his injuries with a genuine worried look on her face. In the background, Kiba immediately went to Teuchi's side to help him but Sakura still stood there looking at the two for what seemed like forever.
"Mou, Naruto." Ino said, "I told you not to get me worried to much and look at what you did?"
'Since when… That's my—" Sakura though to herself as she saw her ask Naruto for anymore injuries and saw Naruto's genuine smile that was mostly directed to her and Kakashi, her heart pounded fast for a few second before she snapped at her thoughts,
'What am I thinking?' Gathering back her thoughts back she prioritized helping Teuchi with his own injuries. Not catching Naruto's worried glance at her direction. After clearing up all the mess that happened Teuchi happily gave the three of them one free ramen each and Naruto got two. They just talked about anything and everything in general until they finished eating and said their goodbye to Teuchi.
The four walked for a while, with Naruto and Kiba leading them and bantering at each other. Sakura was surprisingly silent and Ino's attempt at conversation was disregarded. Finally having enough of this she ended up asking her directly, "Sakura? Would you like to tell me what's wrong?"
"Honestly, I don't even know myself what's wrong." Sakura finally stopped walking before giving them a forced smile, "Naruto, I need to go ahead. I still need to finish my duties today. I'll see you around, ok?"
"Ehh? But--" Naruto could not finish is sentence as Sakura fled with a poof. "What happened?"
"Oh, just give her sometime, Naruto." Ino replied.
"I guess so."
As they reached the Academy Kiba bid his goodbye stating that he's in charge of taking Hinata home, who was now temporarily assigned as the school's medic-nin.
"I really had fun this day! Thanks for giving me sometime off from studying" Naruto smiled at her. "I swear I was growing another head with all that clan rules."
"Hah, just take your time then." She smirked. "I promise to bring hell back tomorrow."
It was Sunday. Another day passed by without any incident and Genryuumaru was commending her for getting as much as Seventy percent of the scrolls in Naruto's head in just five days since she started. although her ways was questionable.
"Mom, can I ask you something? Is it possible to see the person's forgotten memories in the depths of their mind even if they're not even related?" Ino was lazing around in their kitchen, her head resting on the breakfast table while Miho prepared breakfast. She looked over at Ino with a curious gaze. "Why do you ask?"
"Nothing…" Ino sighed, "I was just curious."
"Hmmnn…" Miho walked over to the table opposite her daughter and sat down, "I think there's something more to this… but I won't force you to tell me. Come to me when you are ready. As for your question, I don't think its impossible but rather very very rare. The mind itself is very vast, if physically utilized jutsu's has thousand's of possibilities, then it means the mind has limitless…"
"Isee…" Ino haired her head a little, "So, what's for breakfast?"
"Oi, Inoichi-kun! Arashi-kun! I've brought some snacks." Miho sighed as she looked on at the two sweating men, "Come on! If you don't stop at the count of five, I'll bring these back home and eat it all myself."
"Ehh? Hey, you can't do that!" Arashi said looking back at Miho. Inoichi took this opening as a chance to give him a blow in the stomach making the man writhe on the grounds, "Ouch!, That's so not fair Inoichi!"
"Heheh, All is fair in a Ninja fight so I win, Baka." Inoichi smirked at him and ran towards Miho.
"Ah! I'll get you for this later, Buta-'kun'!" Arashi shouted at him as he followed him and sat down on the picnic blanket, "So what did you cook Miho-chan?"
"Honestly, I don't believe you two. You're already fifteen but you still act like children every time the three of us meets."
"Isn't it fun like that?" Arashi asked.
"Of course it isn't." Miho sighed once again, "Hey, Inoichi-kun, help me explain this logic to this stupid guy, will you?"
"Hey, I'm not stupid!" Arashi pouted, "Right, Inoichi-chan?"
"You can't blame her, you do act like one. The instant we met, you started fighting me already and I told you to stop calling me Inoichi-chan, we're not kids anymore." Inoichi smirked.
"Of course I would." He grinned, "I always want to see how you've improved with your team. I sure do with my team."
"So, why don't you fight Miho-chan?" He asked again.
"It's because she's weak!" Arashi never had time to dodge the onslaught of fists in his direction from a blazing Miho. "Ouch! Ouch! Stop it, I'm sorry. That was just a joke!"
"Hah, say that again and I'm going to burn you alive!" Miho declared as she gave him the glare of death.
"See what I mean? Who would want to fight her?" Arashi whispered conspiringly, "I'm more curious as to who's going to fall for such a crazy girl?"
"Hah, Arashi, you don't know anything do you?" Inoichi mocked him.
"She's already had countless of suitor's despite her craziness, even when she was under our noses." He supplied to Arashi, smirking at his apparent lack of knowledge.
Discontinued or On Hiatus. I can never answer this right now. I'm sorry everybody for raising your hopes up. It's even a wonder to me how I got this chapter done at all! I'm SO VERY SORRY! I have no defense but just tell you that I totally love this story but the inspiration just won't come anymore and if I continued in this state of mind this story will totally become half-assed at best... SO, SORRY AGAIN.