A future-fic, Post-Sasuke in Sound. This is a one-shot. Please don't ask for more chapters.

Title: Peace Offering
Author: desolate butterfly
Pairing: Ino/Sakura
Rating: M for sexuality
Summary: Ino invites Sakura over, expecting their usual battle, and ends up having to fight a much bigger war.
Warnings: yuri, touch of angst

It begins, innocently enough, with cups of coffee.

Ino's just bought a new apartment, after all. Fully furnished with the earnings of her new Jounin position, and very modern, and Ino wants, perhaps, to rub it in a bit, that her future is taking shape, that her skills are being recognized at last. And that she has beaten her rival in the race for passing the Jounin exams, and by quite a bit as well, as Sakura is still struggling with her training under Tsunade at the hospital.

What Ino wants to make perfectly clear is that, all things considered, she is the better kunoichi.

So Ino invites Sakura over for coffee in the new apartment, sweetly, with a smile so much like a challenge that the pink-haired young woman immediately counters with one of her own, and the battle is on.

Ino buys the rarest, most expensive imported coffee beans from Suna and grinds them herself.

Sakura brings white orchids as a housewarming gift, arranged professionally with chrysanthemums and tropical greenery. When Ino asks who did the arrangement, Sakura smiles delicately and says that she did it with her own hand. The flowers need no water, but Ino adds some anyway and leads Sakura into the well-sized, oak-panelled kitchen to gain back some ground.

One cup of coffee is enough for Ino to learn that Sakura hasn't been sleeping more than a few hours at a time for a while now. It's difficult to sleep when you are the second-best medic-nin in a village where people regularly get sharp things stuck into their bodies. Ino watches her former friend drain her mug of rich black coffee in less than a minute and silently moves to refill it.

'It's a good thing,' she thinks, 'that I ground more beans than the merchant suggested.'

After two cups, Ino is ready to spill her news about the offer of her own Genin team, the two boyfriends she's been alternating date offers with, the fact that Shikamaru and Chouji finally moved in together and that Shikamaru made ANBU, even if he protested wanting to do the job.

Sugar and cream are added to the coffee, and Ino points out that the slick black mugs weren't on sale, but she had splurged anyway, because it was to be only the best for her dear friend.

Ino waits for Sakura to her her Ino-pig and drop the mug accidentally on the floor, and feels slightly ill when the other woman only smiles weakly at her and takes another sip from the expensive mug she is holding.

After three cups, Sakura softly admits that she doesn't know where Naruto is now, only that he and Kakashi were working on something that would perhaps be enough to take down Orochimaru and, by default, Sasuke. Naruto writes her letters that aren't very detailed, and aren't really legible, but Sakura spends the little free time she has trying to decipher them.

Time that really should have been left for sleeping, Ino thinks, as she watches Sakura's eyelids droop.

The fourth cups are topped off with almond liquor, and then things start to blur around the edges a little. Sakura's face is tired and sad and Ino starts to feel guilty in a way she doesn't quite like. The orchids—surely they had taken up half of Sakura's paycheck this week—nod at Ino from the kitchen counter, chiding her, and she avoids looking at them as she splashes some more amber liquid into the steaming mugs.

When Sakura gives a fake smile and starts to compliment Ino on her decorating skills, the blonde kunoichi finds it the last straw. One slim white hand presses firmly against Sakura's lips, while the other loosens her grip on the almost empty coffee mug.

Sakura's eyes widen and her mouth works against Ino's palm, slurred words that Ino decides to ignore. It's not a matter of shouldn't or can't anymore. It's a matter of need, and the fact that Ino just can't stand this…this pathetic caricature of a kunoichi—a friend—and Ino's pretty sure that for all her snide remarks she's never wanted Sakura to need anything like this.

Obviously you can't count on boys for anything. Really, what the hell did Uzumaki think he was doing, leaving her waiting at home like some civilian who couldn't be trusted to keep out of trouble? And that Hatake Kakashi was just as bad. Morons, the lot of them.

Ino rolls her eyes as she pulls Sakura from her seat and tumbles them out of the kitchen and onto the living room floor. Their kisses are clumsy, hot, and without rhythm, and Ino sucks the smoothness of almonds from Sakura's tongue while her fingers tug and fumble at the buckles of her skirt.

Sakura's fingers are warm and curious as the travel up the bared expanse of Ino's stomach, circling lazily around her navel and curving fully around the hip to bring the two girls into alignment. Ino's lips attach wetly to Sakura's collarbone and red weals that will soon become bruises are left in their wake.

The low moan that escapes from Sakura's throat sends a heat shooting through Ino that is surprising in its intensity. In order to mask that surprise, Ino deftly unzips Sakura's top and massages the breasts that she'd often made fun of in earlier years.

They don't seem so very small now that they are filling up Ino's palms with their pale softness. Ino kisses them impulsively and is pleased when Sakura moves closer.

Clothing is pushed aside, and white thighs are parted as the two writhe together on the carpeting. Ino feels a hand weave its way into her long hair and grins against Sakura's breast, teeth scraping the pert nipple between her lips. When Sakura arches against her, Ino laughs and the sound is lost against the wet slide of skin and the dull thud of a head striking the floor.

After they are both spent, Ino pulls Sakura's sweaty body across her own and finger combs her hair while she sleeps. The scent of orchids and coffee wafts into the room, and Ino feels the thread of carpet under her back, and the weight of Sakura's arm around her waist, and sighs.

"Stupid girl," she whispers into Sakura's hair before she untangles herself from the other girl's limbs and gathers her clothing together.

A quick shower and a half-hearted rinsing of the coffee cups in the sink later, and Ino is ready to meet her new Genin team. Before she leaves, she slides a pillow underneath Sakura's head and ties a bright red ribbon around the other girl's wrist. Sakura doesn't stir a bit and Ino makes a note to herself to tell Shizune not to come looking for her today.

An orchid blossom is tucked into the vest pocket of Ino's Jounin uniform.

It's the only peace offering she can think of.



Commentary is appreciated.