Summary: What Team Ten does when they have spare time... because just when you thought that battles and jutsu and boy-troubles were the only things pulling down a kunoichi's time, occupying an otherwise very clear and innocent mind... this comes along.

Warning: Despite the title, this is in –no- way depressing. There are no pairings in this one, unless you dream it up yourself. The story itself is quite innocent, though Ino might end up making it less so with her paranoia.


Just Never Good Enough

by Blue Jeans

Some days, Yamanaka Ino can't decide if she adores or hates Uchiha Sasuke. Not because he woke up one day with bed-head or turned ugly before her eyes, but when Ino catches glimpses of Haruno Sakura smiling too brightly in the streets or crying in a corner, those days, Ino hates the dark-haired boy. It's not because she likes that pink-haired, forehead-girl, and if she did, hypothetically speaking of course, she'd never admit it. Yet, on days when Sakura wears her heart on her sleeve, Ino -knows- who's at the root of them all, after all, once upon a time - though she refused to admit remembering it too well - she was forehead-girl's best friend. She knows that only -he- could bring out those expressions on Sakura's face. And even if Ino isn't totally honest with herself, sometimes she wonders why no one else can, or better yet why Sakura won't let anyone else get close enough to affect her the way Uchiha Sasuke does and she was, once, privileged to, as well.

Not that forehead-girl is special or anything...

Just that, sometimes, when a new flower shipment comes in, or something wonderful happens, or when the cherry-blossoms bloom down the lane, Ino thinks of Sakura first. Well, she thinks of Uchiha Sasuke all the other times, so sometimes even she needed a break from unending Uchiha Sasuke thoughts - how Sakura manages to never demand such a thought break boggles the mind (but only sometimes) - though not many, mind you. It's just that, -sometimes-, when one is supremely pleased or happy or proud, one's mind tend to go a little fuzzy with happiness, and -sometimes- it fixates itself on former habits and minions, though definitely not friends, because she wasn't -friends- with Sakura then anymore than she is now, not in the least.

Ino doesn't hate Uchiha Sasuke some days just because he is the cause of that rift, of course not. Not for long anyway, since who can stay angry at that face for long? He -is- cute...

At least, Ino thought he was cute. Very cute. Cute enough to fight with a friend over, cute. Well, if he isn't that cute he'd better damn well wake up the next morning and be -that- cute because she did lose a friend over him, so he better be worth her losing her heart to him too. Not that Uchiha Sasuke is not cute, he just had better be cute enough. She can see why Sakura's in love with him though, all dark-eyed and mysterious as he was. Anyway, she was the one who fell first for Sasuke - she thinks - so she has first dibs rights, right? After all, what girl doesn't want the tall, dark, and handsome man he promises to turn out to be someday? He's the best in class - not just the best looking - so he's obviously smart enough for the both of them. He's the last of his once -most- powerful clan in Konoha, and has the eyes to prove it - so he certainly has a stable future to look forward to. And he's the only one able to be on the same level as Sakura, mentally, though Ino suspect that her forehead-girl only lost to him by one-point on that last ninja exam they had at the Academy because Sakura couldn't stand being the root of Sasuke's unhappiness - or break her own image of him. Sakura had always been a stubborn little bookworm when she wasn't worrying about her big forehead. It suited the pink-haired kunoichi, being smart that is, since she did seem to have a lot of space to spare in that large forehead skull of hers.

At least Sasuke's not like that other stupid teammate on the pink-haired ninja's team. The blonde idiot that's always looking at Sakura with puppy-dog eyes is such an annoying little lout, especially since he would do it right before turning a baleful glare at -her- Sasuke (and by her, this time, Ino was refering to herself because obviously we all know who -that- beautiful boy belongs to).

Ino doesn't like Uzumaki Naruto either. She'd like to know who in her class did like him, because -that- would be surprising. Not for the same reasons she doesn't like Sasuke at times - which, mind you, those -times- are not that many anyway. Ino doesn't understand why Naruto is wasting space on Team 7, it's not like he's nearly as smart as Sakura or as cool as Sasuke. That should be her place, one that the unworthiest of unworthies, Uzumaki Naruto, is occupying currently, damnit. She didn't want Sakura to get too comfortable having Sasuke all to herself (or vice versa), of course that's the only reason, really! And how dare he call Sakura, "Sakura-chan", when -only- Ino should be privileged enough. He doesn't know one-wit about that big-forehead girl. He definitely can't just go around sprouting that ridiculous nickname - only ridiculous when he's the speaker - left and right as if he owned it! And anyway, he's an unpopular, unloved, ungrateful, and unintelligent little trouble-maker that didn't deserve to bask in the light of Sasuke's presence, much less spend a minute in Sakura's!

And don't even let her get started on that talentless Rock Lee that chases after Sakura with sparkling teeth and that freaky, tasteless, green whatever...

Not that Lee is a bad person. He's foolishly nice to the point where Ino felt like she was going to get a toothache just being near him when he happens to be within proximity. He just becomes far worse - words cannot describe him worse - when in the presence of Haruno Sakura. He's not worthy of Sakura either though, because... well... because Sakura used to be friends with Ino and even ex-friends had to have standards and Lee just didn't cut it. Who cares if he surprised them all at the Chuunin exams? It's not like he became ANBU overnight - now that -might- do it - but it isn't going to happen, so Ino's got nothing to be afraid of - not that she's afraid of anything, mind you. Anyway, Lee couldn't do a Genjutsu or even Ninjutsu to save his life, even though he could be called a Taijutsu master - but -obviously- his genes just cannot compare to hers or Sakura's, so he should just drop this infatuation of his and go fall for some other pink-haired chit who's not Sakura--

"And, who is that!"

Ino suddenly straightened, her voice breaking the lazy calm of the afternoon, much to the surprise and consternation of both her teammates as she fumed silently from her vantage point. There's not many people Ino did like, but a girl's got to keep track of her, um, -rivals-, so it's not like she's stalking or worried over anyone, unless they happened to be Uchiha Sasuke, of course. However, Ino probably wouldn't be able to convince anyone, much less a jury at court, what with her twitching eyebrow at the boy talking to Haruno Sakura (no Uchiha in-sight) a few streets down. "Is that that antisocial, arrogant, weird-eyed, girl-beater—" Ino splutters for further, incriminating descriptions "–pretty-boy–" and this was said with quite a bit of contempt (since no one but Sasuke can be called a pretty-boy with anything less than contempt) "–Hyuuga Neji!"

At that moment, the two people being spied on are sharing a seemingly intimate discussion on something down the road. "Oh! How dare he! He's really not -that- good-looking, if you look more closely. And is he blushing? What the hell is he blushing about? And that just can't be attractive because, I mean, he's practically got no pupils, especially since he doesn't even feel bad about beating a poor, defenseless girl up..." at which point Ino started a mental list of all the reasons why Neji was a horrible person and why he was especially horrible for Sakura and why he was even more horrible since he dared to blush in public in front of Sakura (an obvious show of interest!).

Shikamaru sighed and turned away, trying hard not to think about what Ino was up to now. Choji chomped down on another chip, wisely staying silent except those intervals of sound due to his chewing. It was, after all, pointless to say "She's at it again" since even those words becomes pointless after awhile.

-----

"Do you know where Yamanaka Flower Store is?" Hyuuga Neji politely asked Haruno Sakura after a bit of small talk, stiff and formal and unnatural as he was at it. His Uncle had sent him out to do the errand, being that his cousin's birthday was coming up and everyone was exceptionally busy preparing for it, commanding him to learn some social skills and get some flowers too while he was at it - though it was more punishment for what he did, Neji was sure. He was even more insulted at the implications that he had no social skills - or that they were rusty if they did exist - and stiffly went about his assigned duties with the same rigidity and purposefulness that he did for his training. Granted, it scared off some people, but as the saying goes: "If they can't accept you for who you are, they aren't worth your time." Or, something like that.

At that moment though, Neji thought he was doing rather well conversing with Sakura. However, he felt slightly itchy in his jacket though, his ninja senses warning him that there was someone watching him, but he wasn't sure where they were doing it from or why. And—wait, is that Yamanaka Ino spying on him with those weird, pink and purple binoculars? "I was given directions but I haven't been able to locate them..." he continued smoothly, though he couldn't help but be a bit distracted by the sharp focus she seemed to have on him, sensing even from this far away, her scrutiny.

"Neji-san?" Sakura put her hand on his arm, "Is something the matter, because I was just telling you the way but you seem distracted." She politely refrained from pointing out that he was obviously using his Byakugan to spy on someone else during her one-sided conversation with him. "Anyway, who are you buying flowers for?" Sakura asked teasingly, trying to make the currently conversation less wooden and more friendly - even if she had to come off a bit more nosy than usual. Inner Sakura excused herself by pointing out that she would be a pretty useless ninja if she didn't harbor a bit more curiosity than the average person and then went off on a tangent on who the cold-hearted Hyuuga Neji could have a crush on.

At the moment though, Neji was wondering why Yamanaka Ino would do such a thing as spying on -him- of all people, when Ten-ten's voice suddenly popped into his head: "When a girl really likes a guy, sometimes she can't help but follow him around." The dark-haired shinobi had sighed dreamily as she said those unusual words.

"Doesn't that constitute as stalking?" Neji remembered pointing that fact out with a weary look in his eyes.

"No way!" Lee joined in the argument with an equally disturbing shine in his eyes. "Nothing may bar the path of true love, especially not during the Spring of our burning youth!" Neji didn't even try to hide the exasperation he felt from his expression, if not slightly disturbed by such an answer, when Ten-ten moved in to agree with bushy-brows. The weapons-kunoichi also added something along the lines of being practice for their ninja skills, and that stalking really can't be too bad in the name of love. He was just glad, at least, that Gai-sensei had yet to arrive to sprout even more nonsense with those two.

Thinking back, Neji began to feel his cheeks warm as he continued to feel Ino's intense gaze bore into him. Did this mean that the blonde girl liked him? "Continue," he encouraged quickly instead, and any apologies he might have given to Sakura for his earlier rudeness seemed to be stuck somewhere between his throat and his mouth and stayed there instead of coming out because of his mounting chagrin and unease.

"Well," Sakura smiled at him stiffly, fighting back her growing annoyance as Inner Sakura demanded an apology. "It's just three blocks from here. I would advise for you to go there tomorrow, though if you could. Ino-pig might give you a discount since she knows you, sort of. But she's not working there today," Sakura snorted slightly, but there was a bit of fondness in her voice for the said-blonde.

Neji shook his head a bit quicker than Sakura would have expected from him, almost as if he was in a panic, which gave the pink-haired kunoichi more ideas than he probably would have wanted her to have. However, the dark-haired boy that she never knew too well to begin with had always been somewhat of a mystery, like her Sasuke, though if he liked Ino-pig, he certainly had interesting taste...

"No!" Neji declared quite firmly, obviously distracted a second more, which was getting on Sakura's nerves. Neji also seemed to be a lot more rude and scatter-brained than what his cool facade seemed to hint at. "No, it's okay! I'll go see the shop now." He quickly left in the direction Sakura pointed him in as if running away from her (or something), leaving behind the very confused, and slightly miffed, pink-haired kunoichi to watch him go.

"Hmph, I wonder what's gotten into him," Sakura pondered out-loud to herself, sounding if not a bit insulted for the other hurrying off so quickly. "The least he could have done was to say a thank-you." Shaking her head and promising never to help that mannerless boy again, Sakura went on her way to attend to more important things.

-----

Somewhere, a few blocks down from the encounter, a long-haired blonde sighed in relief. Ah, the infamous Yamanaka's Glare of Death Jutsu never failed! A good thing too, in case Neji got any funny ideas into that supposed prodigy head of his. Too bad Ino didn't notice that her Yamanaka's Evil Laugh Jutsu (which came soon after Neji's departure, and perfected by her grandfather some generations ago) also left her teammates scrambling for cover before studying her from a safer distance and gouging her approachability for the rest of the day.

"What do you suppose has gotten into her?" Akimichi Choji asked perplexed as he admired a perfect chip in his hand before devouring it whole.

Nara Shikamaru sighed in annoyance as he lay down again and tried to get comfortable in his new spot. "I don't think I want to know," and just as he said that, an ominous looking cloud passed over both of them that looked disturbingly like that girl from Sand, . "Girls," Shikamaru muttered with a shudder, knowing no genius in his right mind would ever try to fully understand what went on in their minds.

No, Shikamaru thought to himself with great discomfort, he supposed he really -didn't- want to know what girls really thought of during their free time. Especially -not- Yamanaka Ino, not if he had any say in it. Another cloud passed, this time reminding him of Ino. Shikamaru sighed heavily at the plague of clouds that did not fail to resemble every troublesome woman in his life.

No, he thought in defeated, he don't suppose he might get a say in it though.

The End


I was supposed to write one from Naruto's perspective... but then school started. I got put on the burner of stress and anxieties... What can I say? This one popped out of nowhere. Just a reminder, this -is- a humor piece. Ino's opinion of the boys in Sakura's life in no way resembling my own (well, most of it does not), though I tried to keep her in character throughout her tirade. There are -zero- pairings in this, but I am poking fun at a few popular ones. And no, this has zip to do with Sakura/Ino as lesbian-lovers. I don't know about you, but friends can get pretty damn possessive without needing to cross the line into being attracted to each other and I always thought Ino and Sakura's friendship was both endearing, real and quirky at the same time. If you're reading girl-girl love in this fic, let me just say this now: "That's you, not me and definitely –not- this fic."

Okay. Hope you had fun! I know I did. ;)

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