Beginning of the End

By: Vampire Toy

PG-13 for mild violence

Disclaimer: Do not own (sigh)

"Talking"

:Sound Effect:

(Innermost thoughts at the time)

Summary: When they were little, Sakura and Ino didn't fight too much, but even before Sasuke, there was a moment that Ino wished hadn't happened; Ino's POV. (Childhood)

A/N: Slight Shoujo-ai

I twirled my loose hair around my finger casually as I sat under a tree reading. I frowned when I noticed my hair strands molding into oily curls with my constant fingering and pulled my hand down to turn the page instead. The book didn't hold my attention so easily and I leaned back on the tree with a sigh. Lately I had been reminiscing a lot over my childhood, mainly the part of it I shared with Sakura. With Sasuke gone, we had nothing to argue over so I had no reason to approach her. It was tiring to try avoid her, I don't know what we'd talk about if we had to spend time with each other again.

I was afraid I would blurt out something stupid or tell her I had given up on Sasuke. It wasn't that I didn't want to spend time with her, but I knew that Sasuke wasn't the thing that really tore us apart. Sure it was supposedly the deciding factor, but I had never cared for the Uchiha in the first place.

I closed my eyes wearily and a pang of guilt came over me when I recalled the reason for our first real fight.

Flashback

I had been so proud of myself; I had helped her, Haruno Sakura, become popular. She wanted friends so badly that it wasn't too hard to help her out. I remember how her face lit up and everything, it made me feel pretty good, and she was sweet and fun to be around. She turned into my best friend and we were almost never apart. I couldn't believe that meeting her had started with a bet from one of my other friends.

"Hey Ino, look." Maya said as we walked with some of my other friends. I turned to see where her finger was pointing and tilted my head curiously.

"Yeah?" I asked when I saw Sakura sitting alone under a tree.

"Do you think that other girl picked on her again?"

"Probably, she looks like she's gonna cry."

Miya's face was blank for a moment when I turned back to look at her, then she gave a mischievous smile.

"What?" I asked making a confused face.

"You're really popular and stuff right?"

"Uh, I guess…"

"Do you think you could make her popular?"

"Huh?"

"You know, if you're so cool, you should be able to make her cool too." Miya said narrowing her eyes with a grin. I blinked and turned back to Sakura as we walked away.

"Or maybe you just think your cool? Like Sasuke right?" the blue haired girl snort.

"What!" I huffed angrily; Sasuke was annoying, cute or not, he always acted as if he were all that, I didn't want to be compared to someone like him, "Fine, I'll do it."

And I did, on my way home I saw her still by the tree, this time with tears running down her face.

(Now would be a good chance…)

I walked over to her and plopped down in front of her. It took me a moment to think of what to say and what came out wasn't exactly my smoothest choice of words.

"Everyone always calls you 'billboard brow' and picks on you…" I stated so she'd notice me. Her head shot up and she hiccuped meekly.

"W-who are you?" she asked in a tiny voice.

"My name is Yamanaka Ino, what's yours?"

"I'm Sakura…Haruno Sakura…"

"I can't help noticing you have a high forehead…" I poked her forehead gently with one finger, "So of course you get teased." I lifted her bangs up lightly, "And you hide behind all that hair like a sheepdog….or a shy little ghost."

My words brought her no comfort, obviously, since she began sobbing louder. I blinked for a moment and looked her over; I'd never been this close to her before, I'd always only watched her from a distance. She cried a lot, but when I was up close like this….it seemed to effect me more. I wanted her to stop crying.

"Tell you what Sakura…Meet me here again tomorrow okay?" I said standing up and walking away quickly. I didn't like it when she cried.

"Huh?" her voice piped.

I turned once to look at her again, "I'll make it worth your while, so don't stand me up." I told her, and I was off.

At home that night I was thoroughly confused by my actions. Sure it was part of a bet, an easy bet, but it really hurt when my words would make her cry.

(I'll give her my nicest ribbon, maybe then she'll stop crying)

I rolled over in bed with a frown. I never picked on Sakura myself, but I had seen others do it, sometimes I laughed sometimes I ignored them.

(She just needs to toughen up then she can take care of herself….then maybe this bet will be quick)

I'd never been so uncomfortable in a dare or anything similar and it caused me to lose a lot of sleep that night.

The next morning I tied up her hair for her with a smile.

"It's much cuter like this Sakura," I grinned, adjusting the red ribbon in her hair, "You can keep the ribbon."

"Th-Thanks but…"

"But what?" I asked putting my hands on my hips; she was making this harder than it had to be.

"People can see my forehead!"

"The only reason they tease you about it is because you've made it obvious you're sensitive. Don't play their game, show it off!" this was the moment that I was able to persuade her into my group, "Let the world see that pretty face! Strike a pose!"

I meant every word but it still felt awkward when she gave me a grateful smile.

(Well it's not like I plan to hurt her or anything, so I'm not doing anything wrong!)

I was usually good at boosting my own confidence but….it seemed a lot different around Sakura. I was almost afraid of her, afraid that she could see through me into my intentions. I wondered often if it would hurt her feelings to know why I'd approached her at first.

Through our friendship I began to really love her, she was cute, kind, and funny. I gradually forgot about the 'bet' aspect and we became best friends. I had never declared anyone my best friend, I liked to think that I was everyone's best friend and vice versa, but I wanted to keep Sakura for myself, I was the only one who could protect her.

Though my intentions in that were good, it only paved the road to our broken friendship. I never let her get too close to my other friends because I didn't think she needed other friends, she seemed content with just me and I was fine with that. My other friends however, never got to see how kind she was and seeing me spend more time with her made them angry.

"Ino, do you wanna go to the park today?"

"Sorry, I'm going to Sakura's house, maybe tomorrow."

"Hey Ino we're gonna go train, you wanna come?"

"I'm training with Sakura today, thanks for the offer though."

"Hey Ino you've been hanging out with that Sakura girl a lot lately."

"Yeah, so?"

"Isn't she annoying?"

"She's been a real ray of sunshine hasn't she?"

"Rumor is she likes Sasuke."

I remember my face twisting into a sour expression; I hated that kid.

"He thinks he's all that." I muttered crossing my arms; I couldn't think why Sakura would like him.

"Hmm, don't you like him?"

"Pff, no!"

"Right…"

I made a face at my male friend, trying to show him I really wasn't interested in Sasuke.

"Well in any case, she likes him a lot. She'll probably end up leaving you to be with him." Sen muttered, crossing his arms as well.

"What are you talking about?" I asked flustered.

"The same thing you did to us!"

"What would that be?"

"She'll ignore you."

"I don't ignore you, Sakura and I are just best friends so we hang out a lot." I said defensively, omitting the subject of Sasuke.

"Yeah right! Why are you guys so close all of a sudden?" he demanded.

"We just are ok? She's really cool, I like her."

"Yeah well don't like her too much now." Miya huffed beside him.

"What's with you guys?" I asked angrily.

"You don't hang out with us anymore because of her!"

"Yeah I do!"

"No you don't! You need to stop hanging out with her anyway."

"Why!" I demanded.

"The bet is over, you made her popular, now let her go."

My lips pressed together tightly in thought and I narrowed my eyes at the group of friends cornering me.

I suddenly heard a scuffle of feet and cocked my head curiously to look around Miya and Sen, who turned also. My heart broke when I saw a flash of pink quickly turn a corner.

"S-Sakura!" I cried pushing past my friends and running to try catch her. I heard my friends behind me laughing and ran even faster.

"Sakura!" I tried again, running in the direction I last saw her in. I heard no response and frowned, my eyes darting around the empty street nervously.

I couldn't see her anywhere and I began to panic.

"Sakura! Please! Come on, say something! Please talk to me!"

I heard loud sniffles coming from the tree where I first found her. I ran over and peeked around behind the tree to find Sakura, crying with her knees pulled up to her chest.

"Sakura…"

She looked up and turned away quickly, biting her lip to quiet her crying.

"Hey Sakura, what they said… they were just kidding…"

"Th….they don't like me and neither do you!" Sakura yelled with a hiccup.

"No, they're lying! I do like you."

"No you don't!"

"Yes I do!"

Sakura didn't reply this time and closed her eyes tightly instead, lowering her head onto her knees.

"Sakura…"

"I don't like you either!" her head shot up.

"What!"

"I don't…:hic: I don't like you either!" she pulled the red ribbon from her hair and dropped it beside her before getting up and running away once again.

I blinked, confused for a moment and then frowned and picked up the ribbon.

End Flashback

I managed to convince Sakura that they were lying and that I did like her, but I could always tell there was doubt. Up to the point where she said we were rivals, I realized she might always hold that slight grudge against me. Even though she directed it at me in a new way, I was positive that she didn't love Sasuke to the point where she would just leave me; she had few friends and wouldn't risk being alone….or I thought so. She made friends on her own after we…'broke up'. She even ended up on Sasuke's team; she really didn't need me anymore and I don't believe I've ever really needed her but I felt as though our friendship was my first real one and I couldn't help wondering if we would ever be friends again.

A/N: Eh, I think too much, I always thought to myself, 'kids have a lot more crap to deal with than just boys'. Little kids around the age Sakura and Ino were, are especially keen on wanting to fit in. aside from that I wanted to know what made Ino notice Sakura in the first place, if she had so many of her own friends, why would she stop to help Sakura? Now, not to say Ino's a bad person, she's one of my favorite characters, but she doesn't seem the type to randomly want to help someone, it just seems her personality. But she DID end up loving Sakura a lot XD so yeah, and besides, I thought it was too simple how Sakura just suddenly said 'I heard you liked Sasuke too blah, blah, We're not friends anymore.' Their friendship, as it was portrayed, seemed too deep to be so easily broken unless something else happened to taint it….uh…make sense? Maybe? No? Hahah, ok well, R & R please, flames welcome…..