This was done on request of a friend, who asked me to write something along the lines of 'What if Tsuande had taught Ino instead'.
There was a girl that had Tsunade's attention. Almost to the point of distraction. Watching her, she would have sworn that the girl would have been the one to march into her office instead of the pink haired kunoichi that had done so.
But then, Tsunade knew better. The girl wouldn't have done that.
So, instead, she was teaching a desperate girl, eager to please, and advance, instead of the headstrong beauty that she frequently saw from her window.
She was blonde, beautiful, headstrong, prideful with one hell of a temper. When Tsunade saw her, it was like looking at a reflection of her when she was younger. And unlike Sakura, who had so much hope and optimism, Tsunade saw that this one had the potential to end up just as jaded as she was.
And it was then that Tsunade was thankful she was not teaching Yamanaka Ino.
"You're doing it wrong."
She told herself she wouldn't go to her. But she couldn't help it. She spent the last several hours watching her all but kill herself trying to accomplish some feat. Tsunade realized what it was; the girl was trying to develop a defensive technique, and she was using her habit of channeling chakra into her strikes as a basis.
Her handle of chakra wasn't as precise or controlled as Sakura's, but Tsunade was amazed at how she was able to manipulate it with ease.
Blue eyes stared at her, determined despite the exhaustion Tsunade could clearly see, "I don't need your help. I don't care who you are. I'll get this done by myself."
Tsunade smirked. She wasn't as insulted as she thought she should have been. She walked over, took Ino by the wrist and massaged it. "You need to let the chakra flow, not force it out. Not everything can be won by shoving it around."
Too much like me. Tsunade chuckled then, and explained a few tips. Ino was stubborn, but listened anyway. Tsunade found this to be a breath of fresh air from Sakura. Ino resisted even while she was listening, where as Sakura would eagerly hang on every word.
And even as she spent the rest of that evening showing the young Yamanaka a few things, she swore to herself that Ino was too much like her as a child, and because of that, she wouldn't teach her.
She swore this would be the only time.
"Stop going easy on me!"
"Damn it, girl, you can't handle it."
"How do you know what I can and can't handle if you don't push me!"
The next thing Ino knew, she was laid out across the field. That wasn't the first time she had ended up like that during this 'lunch' (what Tsunade always called their training sessions. It was always lunch or dinner, shopping trip, whatever.). And like the other times before, Ino pushed herself to her feet. But this time, she couldn't feel her arm.
"Heal yourself," came the order.
"What? You're nuts! I can't—"
"You can. What do you think I've been teaching you?"
Ino paused. It didn't make sense. "You're teaching Sakura that stuff, though."
The comment caused the older woman to look thoughtful, but she simply gave a chuckle. "Kunoichi should know a little bit about the medical jutsu. You never know when it'll come in handy."
Ino thought there was something else there, but she didn't push it. Instead, she turned and tried the only thing she knew how to do; force chakra into her arm, and hope that it strengthened it. Tsunade taught her a lot about the flow of chakra, and if it was coaxed it could help her be stronger. After a few moments, she had feeling in her arm, but she still couldn't move it.
"That's good. That's the basic of any healing Jutsu. By this time tomorrow, I want you to have healed your arm completely."
It didn't dawn on Ino until that night, as she was trying to mend torn muscle fibers with her chakra, that she was actually being trained by the Hokage.
After three years, Tsunade realized she had broken that promise to herself. She told herself, time and again, that she wouldn't teach Ino. And even as she was telling herself that, she gave the girl lessons. They were sporadic, and no where near the level of training she was giving Sakura. But that didn't matter. Ino took what she was given, and ran off with it.
Much like how she did years ago.
She found herself comparing the two girls often. Sakura had grown up petite and cute. She was still eager even though she finally found confidence in herelf and her abilities under Tsunade's tutelage. Ino grew up to be a child in a woman's body. At sixteen, Ino was clearly one of the most attractive girls in the village, but she still acted like a spoiled thirteen year old at times. But she was highly ambitious. She never had the confidence problems that Sakura did, and grabbed onto the scraps she was tossed and ran off with them.
Ino proved to have perfected control over another's nervous system much to Tsunade's surprise at the Chuunin exam she passed. The match lasted three minutes, and her opponent was paralyzed for three days. Tsunade had only told her how chakra could be used to such levels a few months earlier. And she perfected it on her own.
She was beautiful and ambitious, and felt nothing could stop her. Tsunade was concerned.
After all, she once felt nothing could stop her as well.
It was the first time in three years Tsunade truly began to regret teaching her.
Sakura would always be considered Tsunade's apprentice. She was the one that Tsunade openly taught. She was the one that was considered to have followed in Tsunade's footsteps.
But Tsunade knew better.
There was only one kunoichi in this village who truly followed the footsteps of the Legendary Sannin.
She was berating herself, chastising herself for teaching the girl. So young, full of life… so ambitious. She thought she could take on anything. Tsunade should have taught her that she couldn't. But sometimes only Life itself could teach those lessons.
Regret hung over Tsunade as she watched the girl, now a grown woman, shake on the bench in the waiting room. The med-team couldn't get her any further before she broke down. On her hands was the blood of her fiancé, someone who was unfortunately lost on the mission she was on. The boy died under her hands.
And Tsunade could only watch as Ino shook, unable to look at her own hands, and the blood that was there. She watched with a detached sympathy, having been there herself years ago.
She let out a sigh and hung her head in regret. Yamanaka Ino was truly her successor.