An Unexpected Romance

This is a pairing between Ino & Naruto. I noticed that this pair wasn't too popular so I thought I'd give it a shot. Please don't hate on me if you don't like this pairing. Honestly, I'm just sick of Sakura. It's nothing personal, really, so don't start flames on this topic. Anyhow, I hope you enjoy this story and I'd appreciate it if you left me a review )

Disclaimer: All characters belong to Masashi Kishimoto.

The wind swept her hair up in a dance of blonde and red. It was autumn and leaves had begun to fall from their branches, leaving the scenery colourful in shades of the sunset. Ino was not sure how long she had been sitting there, but she was beginning to feel the ache in her back from resting against the rough bark of her favourite tree. Within the past month or so, Ino had often found herself against this tree, wasting her afternoons away, lost in thought and reason. Perhaps it was not a coincidence that it also happened to be a month since Sasuke had left Konoha. Ino found herself deeply troubled by his departure. Ever since the Academy, Ino had found herself infatuated with Sasuke. Along with many other females in Konoha, she admired his silent strength, his mysterious charm, and dark beauty. Admiration may not be the accurate word to describe what she felt for Sasuke. Perhaps obsession was the right term, and even with that, it scarcely touched upon what she felt for him. However, that was all past tense. Ino had quarrelled with herself for the whole month that he had been gone and come to an uncertain conclusion that she no longer harboured feelings for him. Deep within her, she knew she still cared for him deeply. However, her feelings were no longer embedded in infatuation, lust or even love. She could not describe what she felt for him, but she knew that they were not what she had previously felt for him. Then again, he was also not what she had previously thought of him to be.

Another soft breeze blew across the field and a single leaf landed in her lap. Ino picked it up gently and carefully traced the edges with her fingertip. Sasuke… His name whispered in her mind and she closed her eyes briefly. She imagined him as a young boy again at the academy and how he had always been determined to score the highest and best everyone in all competitions. He used to be so strong-willed, she thought to herself sadly. Upon first hearing the news of his departure, she was shocked. She was angry, hurt, confused, and frantic. Even though Ino was never able to establish any sort of relationship with him, she felt betrayed. The fact was, he indeed, betrayed all the villagers of Konoha by abandoning them. She was confused because she was unable to come up with any sort of excuse for Sasuke's actions. Furthermore, she was angry. Everyone in Konoha had supported him and cared deeply for him. Unlike Naruto, whom the villagers avoided and disliked, Sasuke had never been refused help from anyone. Especially because of his tragic past, everyone was careful to be sensitive to his needs and was considerate to him on all levels. Ino ground her teeth and shook her head in frustration. She did not want to think about Sasuke anymore. Blonde strands fell around her face, her ponytail becoming loose.

Ino sighed and stretched her long slender legs forward. Sitting on them had made them numb and she knew that if she wanted to get up anytime soon, she would have to let the blood circulate again, first. Ino shifted uncomfortably as she felt the pain in her back again. She was surprised that she had thought of Naruto of all people, amidst her thoughts of Sasuke. She tilted her head back and stared at the remaining leaves on the branches above her. To her, these were the stubborn leaves that were still clinging on, refusing to accept the change of season. In a way, they reminded her of Naruto's spirit. Despite the hardships that he had endured, Naruto remained pure. Of late, he had become more accepted in the village and she had heard stories outside Konoha that praised him as a hero. Regrettably, she realized that she had never gotten to know the boy, but she had witnessed for herself, on many occasions, his good nature. He was known to be loud and obnoxious but then again, so was she. He never lost faith in anyone and for that, she respected him. Perhaps, I should make an effort to get to know him, Ino thought, making a mental note to herself.


Ino glanced towards the direction of the voice and was surprised to see the very person she had been thinking about. A deep blush flushed across her pale cheeks. What was he doing here? This was Ino's secret and favourite spot and she was shocked to be found here. She stuttered at Naruto, unable to find her voice.

"Ino, are you okay? You look sick."

Naruto had now approached her and he held a hand out, in a gesture to check her temperature. Mortified, Ino drew back sharply and instinctively slapped Naruto's hand away. Naruto stood back on his heels, but did not make a comment. He was used to this sort of reaction. Ever since he was a child, he was rejected by both the adults and his fellow peers. It was only until a while ago that he had found out about the kyuubi sealed inside of him and from that, he was finally able to derive the reasons for the other villagers' hostility towards him. He offered her a timid smile.

"Sorry, Ino. I didn't mean to startle you. I just thought that you might be sick," Naruto said, simply. He shrugged. He had never been very close to Ino and was actually quite unsure of how to interact with her. However, he had come to train and he figured that it was best not to offend anyone in the process.

"N-No. You didn't do anything wrong." Ino was barely able to whisper as her voice caught in her throat. Why is he apologizing to me? Ino wondered. She felt her stomach turn a little. She remembered snapping at him when he had asked her initially if she was sick. She had even slapped his hand away. It was a friendly gesture and I was completely rude, Ino realized. She chewed on her bottom lip. Should I apologize?

"Ino, maybe I should leave. Sorry for disturbing you…" Naruto began, but Ino interrupted him.

"No, Naruto. I'm sorry for acting so rudely before. I was just thinking about something when you came and I was not acting like myself." Ino hoped that her explanation would ease the awkwardness that had settled in the air between them. This was not how she had planned 'to get to know him.'

Naruto flashed Ino his big, signature smile. He felt better knowing that he had not offended her. Ino saw his eyes curve into mere slits as a large smile formed across his face. She noticed that he had lines across his cheeks and that they also curved with the smile. She could not help but smile back at him. He was completely genuine and Ino basked in his purity. Warmth entered her heart and she was glad that he had chanced upon her today.