Disclaimer: Since it's like, legally required and all that crap: I don't own Naruto.

Friends With Benefits

Chapter One


Their relationship had always been an unconventional one. In their academy days, he'd known her only as 'the girl who always fought with Sakura-chan over Sasuake-teme.' Other than the one time he'd contemplated becoming friends with her in order to get closer to Sakura--a plan which would of worked fantastically had the two not become eternal rivals for Sasuke's heart the very next day--he'd never even thought of talking to her. She would never have noticed him at all if he hadn't insisted on always making a spectacle of himself. Even then, she only indentified him as 'the kid that Iruka-sensei is always yelling at.'

As genin, they were on seperate teams so they rarely even saw one another, and when they did, they would both offer a casual greeting before continuing with whatever it was that they were doing at the time.

Then, of course, he'd left for two years to train with one of the Sannin so they never even had the oppurtunity to glimpse each other in passing. When he finally returned, she had attended the small welcome home bash that Sakura had thrown for him and they had spoken for a few minutes. She'd politely asked how his training hand went. He'd replied that he'd learned a great deal, he'd even prefected his cloaking skills thanks to peeking so often at the many women's baths that he and Jairaiya had visited during their journey. She'd floored him with a solid right hook square on the nose. He'd laughed uproarously at her fuming face while trying to stem the blood flow.

After that, their relationship had slowly begun to evolve from being acquaintances to being almost-friends. Every now and then, they'd be assigned together on a mission, and after they'd returned to turn in their mission reports, they'd go grab something to eat--usually at Ichiraku, much to her chagrin. When they passed each other on the street, they'd stop and have a short conversation. Sometimes they'd even seek each other out, though they usually wouldn't admit to it. He'd visit her family's flower shop on the pretense of needing her advice on how to care for a new plant and she'd show up at his uasual training ground saying that she needed to work on her taijutsu.

It had gotten to the point where Sakura had taken to teasing Ino about her and Naruto's relationship. The teasing wouldn't have been so bad if Sakura's not-so-subtle insinuations that there was something more going on between them behind the scenes hadn't led Ino to wonder just what they were at that point. It irked her to no end that she couldn't pinpoint a proper word with which to label their relationship. By then, they were definitely friends--granted they were friends who bickered constantly, but they were both very argumentative people who insisted on getting in the last word, so arguments were to be expected--but was there something more there lurking beneath the surface?

Before Ino could answer that question, Sasuke returned to Konoha. That in itself would have been a big enough speed bump to stop their relationship--whatever kind it may have been--in its tracks, but there was the matter of Orochimaru and of course the Akatsuki had to be delt with as well. Whatever had been there before sizzled down to a strictly platonic friendship as Ino took to chasing after Sasuke once again and Naruto found himself preoccupied with nuke-nin that wanted him dead.

The next major development in their relationship took place when Sasuke and Sakura started dating. Both found themselves pining for another that would never return their affections. With Ssuke and Sakura together, they could no longer delude themselves into thinking that one day they might have a chance. So they sought comfort from each other. At first they had just ranted about the unfairness of it all, but the more they dwelled on what they'd lost, the more they needed physical comfort, and who better to recieve said comfort from than someone who was in the same boat as you?

After all, that way there were no messy emotions, no other connection than a mutual need of comfort and fulfillment of lust. They didn't have to explain anything to each other; they barely even needed to speak at all. They could meet up at his apartment or hers--where they could hug and kiss and caress until the feeling of lonliness began to ebb away for a little while--and when they saw one another the next day, there were no embarassed blushes, no awkward silences.

They had become friends with benefits, and they were both perfectly fine with being such, content to lust without love because they'd both come to agree that a ninja had no place in his or her life to love in the first place--it was best to just quench their desires and leave love to those who could afford to have such distractions in their lives.

But that pesky something that had been there before--that emotion, whatever it was--was slowly beginning to wriggle its way back into their relationship, determined to complicate their happy arrangement and force them to face that there was something more there, that they had only to label it for themselves and admit it to the other. Unfortunately, neither of them was willing to admit such things freely anymore, and that only compicated things more.

A/N: I think this is going to be about four chapters long. I already have most of it written down in my notebook, I just need to unscarmble it all and put it in coherent form. Please review and tell me what you think so far!