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Summary: Ino always prepared herself for the worst situations, but finding SASUKE in her yard definitely caught her off guard. Especially when she just found out he was supposed to be dead, along with the Snake freak. Why is HE here, and what has Itachi to do with it?

"Normal."

Thoughts

Flashbacks

Jutsu


Just to refresh your memory ;)) Last time:

Just as she was about to hit the tree another time, her fists were captured by a couple of strong hands.

Right then, her eyes widened in harsh realization.

It wasn't him she hated...

"I...-" She whispered thickly.

"Hate..-"

Her eyes were dull now, and she let herself fall on the ground, dragging the person behind her down as well.

"Me..." She finished shivering. Suddenly feeling very sick.


"Ino!" The worried shadow-user called out to the departing form of his childhood friend, while a pair of weary hazel-orbs rested on the scenery.

"Nara, Uzumaki! Stay where you are. "The Godaime ordered sternly, already stopping the two young men before they had the chance to persuade the upset blonde.

Tsunade-hime sighed deeply.

"She needs to make this decision on her own."

"What-" Naruto started with a voice full of suppressed emotion, "are we supposed to do then? What the hell can we do if we're not allowed to help her, support her?"

Barely audible in the tense silence Shizune responded in a soft voice filled with sadness.

"Pray.. Pray and hope for the best."


Outside the rain was pouring as it never had done so before. Dark clouds were spreading above the sky as the last people were rushing their way home, leaving the streets of Konoha soundless and deserted.

The silence was however disrupted as a sudden shadow emerged from a small alley, gliding in a fast pace over the empty roads. The figure was clad in a black outfit, with only a black cloak protecting It from the cold pouring rain and making It truly look like a shadow, a black sketch drawn with ink. Pale fingers held steadily onto the black hood as a violent fraction of wind yanked on it. Its cloak was moved behind its back though, giving the impression of a pair of black wings, and now left the muscular chest of a man bare to the bad weather circumstances.

His fingers momentarily left the edges of his hood and were transferred to the cloak, attempting to wrap it once again around his form. The hood slightly glided of his head, showing a good amount of half-long black silky hair, as he almost reached his destination. He entered the forest and started to fasten his pace even more. For the first time in his life, his onyx eyes flickered with emotion. And then he finally found his target.

She was absolutely breathtaking.

He froze for a second, his black orbs observing.

The splattering crimson blood contrasted against her pale creamy skin as she continued hitting the hard surface of a now worn out tree. Her short blonde hair covered one of her eyes and water was dripping from the edges all the way to her lips, which had turned in a lovely shade of purple by the cold. Her long purple jacket looked heavy on her tensed form as she continued hitting and kicking, her voice carrying so many emotions he didn't even know the existence of.

And for a moment he almost felt envious of her. She portrayed everything he had never have in life.

Emotion.

The moment however, passed by quickly as he remembered his purpose.

In steady steps he arrived behind her and captured her bleeding knuckles in his hands, stopping her from inflicting more damage.

"I…-"

Her voice was close to broken now.

"Hate…-"

And she let herself fall on the ground. He let himself be dragged down with her as well.

"Me…-"

She finally leaned into his hold, and his bloodied hands released hers as he turned her around. Her dull blue eyes flickered with surprise for a second when they locked with his onyx ones, while he placed one toned arm under her knees and supported her back with the other one.

" Y-you." She whispered thickly, before darkness once again entirely consumed her.


Somewhere else Haruno Sakura cursed as she dropped a glass of water. Fractions of glass spread over the wooden floor, as she tried to control her trembling hands.

Can it get even worse?

She bended down to clear the mess and cut her finger in the progress.

"I guess it can." She commented dryly.

It wasn't that much of a deep cut, but somehow she didn't feel like healing it.

The pink-haired nin bowed over her finger, closely examining the red dripping fluid.

Sasuke…

"You're such an asshole, you know?"

"I...-"

"I…-"

"Ihate you!"

Liar. You never hated him and you still don't.

Youcan't hate him.

Green disgusted orbs were filled with angry tears.

You're weak, just like he said you were.

"Ino…-"

She allowed herself one tear to drop and watched how it mixed with her blood.

The cut stung by the little amount of salt.

"The bottom line is, Ino, that I, no matter how much resistant you're planning on being, will rebuild our friendship to the way it once was. And this time, I swear, Sasuke will NOT happen again."

Ino, be strong for the both of us because I can't.

I'm sorry.

"Sasuke happened again."


Blonde eyebrows furrowed slightly as a pair of weary eyelids slowly opened. Dry lips formed a soundless moan, as the young woman tried to survey her surroundings.

By the looks of it she was still in the forest, but this time in a small shed she recognised from one of her childhood missions.

"But Asuma-sensei- Come on! It's raining and my hair..-"

"No buts, Ino. We need to report our mission."

"But whyyy? We already finished the stupid mission and we're all feeling tired. Why can't we just stay in the shed until the weather starts clearing up?" She nagged.

Shikamaru sighed and muttered a dark 'troublesome' before replying.

"It wouldn't make a good record if we couldn't arrive before the time limit."

The young teenage girl 'hmphed' angrily. "Whatever!"

She slowly got up and moved one hand to her head as she felt a sudden headache coming. After massaging her temple she looked up to see him sitting across the fire he probably had made in order to keep them warm.

"I see you're awake." He commented monotonously.

She straightened her back in an attempt to relax her tensed shoulders.

"Sai."

He looked up. "What?"

She thought a couple of minutes, pondering where the hell she should start, and in the end settled on asking a simple question consisting of one word.

"Why?"

Ino eyed him expectantly, while waiting for a response.

"What are you going to do about Uchiha?" He asked in return, ignoring her question.

Her features visibly tensed as she looked away.

What am I going to do? That's a good question.

She bit her lip as an image of Uchiha Sasuke flashed in her mind.

He had changed.

His looks were somehow more mature as he had grown from a pretty boy into a handsome man. His hair was quite longer, the bangs in front nearly touching his collarbone, and still had that slight navy glow. His skin was pale as always, but now had a rough edge on it. His lips…-

"You have two options." Sai continued, breaking Ino from her reverie.

Their eyes met as he continued. "You can either accept the mission and go with the Uchiha, or you can decline. Whichever you're going to choose; you have 14 hours left."

Despite the fucked up situation Ino couldn't help but to start laughingreal hard.

Here she was, about to take a decision one that would determine everything; her future, her heart, herself. And yet the way Sai put it was so utterly straightforward and seemed so simple that it almost made her hysterical.

Meanwhile the only reaction Sai could muster up was to raise one black eyebrow.

It's probably the tension. It's starting to get to her. Yet... even in this situation, how is she able to illustrate such emotions?

Ino's chest was rising up and down rapidly as she tried to stop laughing. Tears were rolling down her cheeks by now, but somehow after a while she finally managed to calm down a bit.

"Sai!" She hiccoughed. "You never struck me as the type of guy who could ever make me laugh, but damn, boy, congratulations for making me laugh on the worst day of my life. You might be what I need right now after all."

The young emotionless man merely shrugged.

The loud blonde let herself fall on her back and lay down alongside the source of heat.

Her facial expression turned to a more serious one and she sighed wearily.

"There isn't much of a choice is there?" The kunoichi chuckled bitterly.

My head is telling me not to accept, for even before the mission that bastard put me in this state, yet my heart screams...-

"At this rate it's not really about me, my decision."

That's right. Of course it's not about me, never about me. Stupid fucking Sasuke! What the hell do you and your fucking brother want of me anyway?

"This mission was assigned to me because of Uchiha…"

"For a second you seemed honestly surprised, Yamanaka Ino. Don't tell me you possibly thought I wouldn't be able to know such a petty thing as your name, when I came all the way to your home."

He came 'all they way to my home', so even if I'd decline, what proves the fact he won't just take me by force?

"In other words, if I decline I'd probably be put under surveillance 24/7."

Ino closed her eyes. After all those years I thought I'd become stronger. I promised myself not to let my emotions get in the way, yet..

"You know what Sai, I'm kinda jealous of you."

She opened her eyes and pushed herself up.

"You can't feel emotions, right? Believe me; you're not missing anything out." She continued while staring at the flickering flames.

As a response Sai took a notebook and started to sketch.

A couple of minutes passed with no sound except for the sparkling red and orange flames and the sound of Sai's pen on paper.

Finally his hand came to a stop.

"Here,beautiful." In one fluid motion he threw the notebook at Ino.

She quickly got up, just on time to grasp it with her battled fingers and grimaced as one of the wounds stung by the sudden movement. Before opening the blue notebook she threw the emotionless young man a questioning look and he just motioned for her to open it in return. In the end she decided to shrug it off and placed her attention upon the blue notebook she'd seen Sai quite often with.

She slowly opened it and gasped at the drawing on the first page.

It was her!

And not only that, the image was drawn in such a way that it almost seemed as if she could come out of the paper anytime!

She turned the page over only to find yet another portray of her.

In the first one she had her famous flirtatious smile. The small one where her lips were just tugged upwards a bit. No teeth. Her blue eyes were bright, twinkling naughtily.

She turned over to the next page.

Two words; Pissed. Off. She couldn't describe it in another way. Her face was drawn without any emotion, but her eyes…

Those eyes, how the hell could he capture them? How was he able to see right through her? They were brimming with emotion.

She flipped the page.

Again. Her expression normal, but her eyes…- The way her lips pouted slightly.

The next one, and the next one, and the next- all of them- moments captured of her at times she didn't think anyone was looking- moments of happiness, anger, flirtation, sadness, childishness, business and so on.

She was about to comment when she turned over to the sketch on the last page.

Ino couldn't stop the audible gasp that erupted out of her mouth.

This... This… It can't be!

Breathtaking.

It was a picture of her, while hitting a tree. Blood was splattered on her face and rain dripped from her bang that covered her left eye all the way down to her lips which were set in a tight line.

Her eyes, from afar they might have looked dull, but when observed closely they captured so many emotions; despair, frustration, anger,hatred, confusion, disgust

A chill went up her spine as she slowly looked up to the emotionless artist, her trembling hands closing the notebook.

"S-Sai!"

"You've always intrigued me, Yamanaka Ino."

"Eh?"

"To me you have been the definition of Emotion, from the moment I met you."

"B-but the pictures, they are…-"

"Breathtakingly beautiful, aren't they, beautiful?"

"I…- I…-"

"Emotions, for me they're something non-achievable. They're a part of who you are, though. All together those emotions form you, Yamanaka Ino, the girl who can capture all emotions in one look."

Ino's features softened while Sai continued.

"Emotions are both your strengths and weaknesses, while not having them is my own strength and weakness." He finished attempting another 'empty' smile.

The pretty blonde stood up entirely, smoothed the crinkles on her purple jacket and walked right at the young man afterwards.

"Here." She said, while handing the blue notebook out to him.

"Keep it." He responded, fake-smiling all the way.

"Ne, Sai?"

"Hai?(1)"

"Arigato…-(2)"

However, what both ninja didn't notice was a pair of crimson orbs, following theirevery movement…


After her somewhat strange, yet satisfying encounter with Sai, Ino felt she could think in a more concentrated and clear way. She shook her head while chuckling softly at the thought of the Root-nin. At the moment she was walking to her last destination.

"I'm here."

Memorial for the fallen heroes of Konoha...

"Hey sensei(3), what's up? No, literally! How is it there, way, way up? You know I can totally see you there, floating on some cloud while smoking your cigarette as you watch over us. Anyways, I came here to tell you not to worry about our boys. I did my best in watching over them until now, but now…- but now they have grown into two strong and proud shinobi of Konoha, they have finally grown into men. And it's time for me to let them go, or in Shika's case give the leash to another person." She allowed herself a small smirk here before continuing. "Bet you're laughing your ass off about Temari and Shika. It serves him right! At least now he'll think twice about uttering 'troublesome' in order to escape Temari's wrath." She paused and took a second to let her hand glide over the cold stone that consisted of hundreds of names, including her instructor Asuma's.

"I just, I just wanted to say goodbye. I'll be going on a nightmare trip starting tomorrow and I'm not sure if I will turn back ever again. "Her voice cracked slightly.

"Sensei… For the first time in my life I'm soscared. I just wish that you'd be here and team 10 would turn back to the old times where the biggest issue I faced was not being able to get that red skirt from sales, where I would whack Shika on his head and force him to come shopping with me, where I would screech at Chouji for taking the last piece of meatball. Where, where I could permit being immature, naïve and innocent."

She fell on her knees and rested her head against the cold yet comforting stone.

"Why, sensei? Why?"

The blonde once again sighed wearily, raised her head and slowly got up to her feet after a couple of minutes passed.

"Sorry, once a drama queen always a drama queen, huh!" She exclaimed forcing a shaken smile.

Bye sensei.

She straightened her back as a determent look settled on her pretty face, turned around and started walking towards the Hokage tower.

Yamanaka Ino had never backed down from a mission, and this was noexception.

"Heroes of Konoha, watch over my fine ass, we wouldn't want it to get damaged now, would we?"


Tsunade was just about to take the final draught of sake left in the bottle when she heard knocking and ended up grudgingly putting it away somewhere under her desk.

"Come in." She grumbled.

Her first apprentice entered with a worried look etched onto her features.

"Tsunade-sama, it's Yamanaka Ino and she's ready to inform you of her decision." Shizune stated solemnly.

"Let her in."

"Hai." Shizune turned around and disappeared only to re-appear a few moments later alongside Ibiki's praised apprentice.

The Godaime nodded at their entrance and motioned with a flick of her seemingly young hand for her secretary to leave. Then her hazel-orbs turned their attention back to the form of one of her gifted kunoichi(4).

"Yamanaka Ino, signing in for duty."

"Very well, before I'll ask for you decision, are you entirely positive about this? You still have two hours to go and from what I've been informed, you haven't even consulted your parents and close friends yet." Her thoughtful eyes locked with Ino's determent, stubborn ones.

"I wanted to make this decision on my own, Hokage-sama, without being influenced by others, even by my own family and friends." She responded soft, yet clearly.

"I see." The fifth sighed loudly.

She's too stubborn just like her old man. I guess it's a Yamanaka trait. At this rate I can already guess what the outcome is going to be.

"Well, let's get this over and done with." The Hokage straightened her back as her features grew serious and ruthless.

""Yamanaka Ino, you mission consists off a journey together with the missin'-nin Uchiha Itachi and Uchiha Sasuke of an unknown period of time in which your life isn't warranted a certain safety. Do you accept or refuse?"

The blonde mustered up the most determent voice she had in her and answered;

"I, Yamanaka Ino, proud member of the Yamanaka clan and apprentice of Morino Ibiki accept this mission and swear on the honour of my family name and village that I will be willing to risk my life in order for the success and the benefit of Konoha."

Tsunade nodded and couldn't help but to feel proud of this girl, no young woman in front of her.

"Here, these are the mission's requirements in more detail. You have one more day to prepare and will depart at sunrise." She handed a file over to the blonde.

Ino reached out for the file and grasped it with her battered fingers. The Godaime raised her eyebrow at noticing the wounds.

"Visit Sakura before you go, she'll know what to do."

"Hai."

"You're dismissed."

The mind walker turned around and was just about to leave the office when the Hokage spoke her final words. Words that would be imprinted into her mind forever.

"Ino, make him regret… and… thank you."


Tsunade's expression turned sour the moment Yamanaka Ino left.

"You can come out now. Your spy-act may have fooled others but don't you dare to underestimate me, Uchiha."

A shadow appeared from out of the corner of the room and slowly walked in front of the Godaime's desk.

Uchiha Sasuke

His eyes were dyed in red and looked down at her in a nearly amused fashion.

"About time someone noticed." His tone was neutral, almost bored.

Her eyes narrowed considerably. "Remember, traitors, I'm the Hokage. Somewhere along the way you might have discarded your duty and respect, but don't be fooled into forgetting my power, Konoha's power."

"Whatever."

She eyed the young Uchiha suspiciously. "My part of the deal has been completed. Don't forget yours."

"Hn, consider it done."

With that Sasuke disappeared in an eruption of fire and left Tsunade alone to contemplate about the miserable situation he left behind.

"You were right, gramps... Damn Uchiha."

In a matter of seconds she grabbed the bottle of sake and gulped all of it contents down, craving for more.

This was going to be one long night.


(1)Hai: Yes

(2)Arigato: Thanks

(3)Sensei: Teacher

(4)Kunoichi: Female ninja


A/N: Waaaaaaaaah I'm so sorry! Before y' all start throwin' tomatoes at me; I just wanna apologize. It's been quite hard for me to adapt living in an entire different country and environment than my own. Also my new school has demanded a lot of my free time. Damnz', I didn't even come close at having free time. :X

That's why I have been writing this now, in my winter break while I'm still home. Anywayz., enough whinin' on my part... I really hope ya liked it and that I haven't lost my ' touch' , since to me.. this chap kinda..- well not kinda; to me it just plain sucks

Let's hope that y' all be satisfied..

Thanx for botherin' to read and please lemme know what cha think ;))

Volim te..

MisSs005