Chapter Thirty-One-

Dating someone is weird. It's like...I'm not sure how to describe it, really. It's not like in the books, or the movies, or the dramas on TV. In fact, no one else seems to be talking about it, so I think it's just me. It's great, really nice have someone, I guess, but honestly, half the time I want to run away screaming and change my name so I'll never have to deal with all the anxiety again.

I think it's because...I've just spent so much of my life alone. Even after Tenten and I met, even after I moved in with the Sarutobi family, I still spent most of my time elsewhere. I was always at school or work, or commuting between the two. I'm not sure if I like it like that or I've just gotten used to it, but now that Ino and I are officially, you know, "girlfriends" or whatever, she seems to want to hang out all the time.

I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing or anything, it's just a little, I dunno, claustrophobic, almost. I like Ino, a lot, I really do, but I'm not really used to being around her 24/7.

I keep having to stop myself from making bullshit excuses about why I can't hang out, even when I do have free time. I don't want to outright lie to her, because being honest does really seem to the best policy if I want things to work out between us, but it's just so easy. I'm good at lying. I like lying. If I lie...I can control things. It's always been that way.

Also the incessant texting is really starting to annoy me.

After my phone buzzes for what must be the fifth time in ten minutes, I cringe and turn it off without looking at the message. I'm alone in my cubicle at my internship right now, but my supervisor could come around at any moment and I don't want to look like I'm texting instead of doing work, even if it is just data entry.

I stick my phone back in my bag, scowling. I never had to turn off my phone before, because everyone else I know would only call if there was an emergency.

I finish the data entry and then check my email to see if I have any other work to do. There isn't, so I tap my foot idly against the floor. I glance around the dim room before fanning myself with a couple papers. The building maintenance seems to be talking the government's request to save energy to heart, what with the absolutely no air conditioning and dim lighting, much to the misery of everyone who works here.

I just sit there for a few minutes and then finally get up to go to the bathroom, slipping my cellphone into my pocket.

"Mmmm," Ino says a couple days later, rolling off me after a makeout session that seems to have rendered me unable to correctly process the flow of time. "We need to do this more often."

I'm not particularly inclined to disagree with her at the moment, and turn to nuzzle her neck with my nose. Ino immediately shivers and skims her hands back under my shirt, rubbing slow circles just above my hipbones. I smirk at her reaction, because, as I've discovered in recent weeks, Ino seems to have a neck thing.

We're at her house again (it's not like I can bring her back to mine, is it?) Ino's mother is out doing whatever she does. (Does she even have a job? I don't think so. Ino says she's always visiting friends in other parts of the country.) We came back here after we went out for sushi at some tiny hole in the wall place that was a little too close to the Red Light district for my peace of mind, but now I feel warm and relaxed, curled up in Ino's bed, her body a warm comforting presence against mine.

"Are you going to have more free time next week?" she asks stroking her fingers through my hair. I close my eyes against the feel of her nails on my scalp and try to figure out the best way to word this.


"Ino, I-" I start when I realize that there's no good way to say this. "Look, I love hanging out with you and...and, you know, but I..."

I open my eyes and sit up, leaning up against the bed frame. Ino is looking at me with an expression of part shock and part disappointment, but she doesn't move.

"It's just...I'm not...I don't usually," I stumble over my words helplessly and then think, fuck it, you said you were going to be honest, Haruno, so just say it and damn the consequences. "I just...I grew up mostly alone, you know. I'm an only child and my parents weren't really...around. You saw me in high school and middle school was pretty much the same. So I'm not really used to being around...people so much."

Ino sits up too, her curtain of blonde hair falling down to swing back and forth once before she tosses it over her shoulder.

I wonder if I should add some more, but I think I've used up my honestly quota for at least another few years, so I just sit there and wait for her reaction.

She tilts her head to the side then and gives me a puzzled look. I swallow and wonder exactly how awkward this is going to get.

"I always admired that about you, you know," she says at last, a sad little smile on her face that I'm not sure exactly how I feel about.

"Yeah?" I say, surprised. "I mean, what?"

"You were always so independent. You didn't care what anybody thought about you," she elaborated with a wave of her hands and then sighed. "Middle school was awful for me. I cared so much about everybody thought of me that I didn't do anything I really wanted. I was so afraid, all the time, though I only realized it after I graduated. I did pretty badly, academically, because of it, too, so I didn't get into Oto like my mother wanted. But when I went to high school I swore that it'd be different. That I wouldn't do things just because everyone else expected me to, or to piss my mother off."

"Really?" I say before I can think it through. "I'd have never thought...I mean, in high school, you didn't seem...I mean, you always looked like you were having fun. I mean, you were friends with everyone."

Ino laughs and then stops, giving me a strange look as she seems to realize I wasn't joking.

"Sakura," she says, looking a little confused, her brow furrowed and lips curved slightly downward into a frown. "There were three thousand kids at our school. I barely knew the names of half our class."

"Oh," I say, immediately feeling stupid, because, really, what was I thinking? The answer was obviously that I wasn't. If I had put even a few seconds thought into it I'd have realized that it was impossible that Ino was friends with everyone. I knew Konoha was majorly overcrowded; it was a big issue in the district and there was always talk of building another school. It's why we went to the middle of nowhere in Akita for our school trip instead of something cool like Kyoto like other schools usually did. I just...never really paid much attention.

Ino sees the look on my face and sighs, lying back down on the bed with her arms folded under her head. "I guess I had two groups of friends through most of high school. I really only keep in touch with our group though now."

I'm surprised at how pleased I am to be included in "our group." It's not like I care all that much, but after I found out they all knew that Ino had a crush on me, I kinda wondered if I was only invited anywhere because of that.

"To be honest, I'm surprised you noticed me at all in high school," Ino continues with a rueful grin, warm and soft in the afternoon light that's streaming through her bedroom window, turning the entire room different shades of gold.

"I noticed you," I protest, wondering how dumb it would be to reach out and grab her hand.

She raises an eyebrow. "Like right before we graduated. And that was only because I was a complete bitch to you for no reason."

Well, yeah, technically that's true, but I feel weird about Ino calling herself a "complete bitch," even though she kind of was.

"No, I..." I say, embarrassed, even though I don't know why. I fix my eyes on Ino's pink sheets instead of making eye contact with her. "I knew who you were."

There is an awkward silence and I fidget restlessly on the bed, raising my eyes to meet Ino's with trepidation. She has that sad sort of look on her face again, the one that makes my stomach twist uncomfortably. I don't like to think that I'm the cause of that look.

"I meant...Shit, I'm really messing this up, aren't I?" Ino says, playing with her ponytail nervously. She takes a deep breath and her blue eyes are simultaneously serious and rueful. "I know it was years ago, but I'm sorry for the way I treated you. I was...a bit screwed up and I don't really have any excuse."

I shrug. It's true, nothing she's saying is anything but the unvarnished truth, and I really was hurt by what she'd said to me at the bathhouse and in the ramen shop, but...

"I know," I say awkwardly, reaching out to put my arm on hers, though I can't quite bring myself to raise my eyes to her face, so I just look at that instead. "I mean, I kinda figured that something else was going on."

"Really?" Ino says, sounding surprised. I glance up at her to see her looking a little taken aback.

"Yeah," I say in an attempt to be reassuring, but I don't elaborate. Awkward it is, but it will only get worse if I bring up her mother.

"I didn't mean it," she says quickly, and I'm horrified to notice that her eyes look a bit damp. "I know that that doesn't excuse anything, but I wanted you to know that. I was just so mad at you-you didn't, you didn't even do anything! You didn't even know who I was, but I'd had a crush on you for ages and then Naruto and Sasuke got outed and the school freaked out, and I..." She brings up her knees to hide her face in them, hands clenched at her sides alarmingly hard. "The things they said, to them and behind their backs, I had no idea people could be so...Naruto and Sasuke, they, you know, tried to pretend it didn't bother them, but it was horrible. I think the only reason they didn't transfer was because there was only two months left until graduation. Sasuke was even worried about his uncle finding out and all I could think of was my mother's reaction, so I-"

"Hey, um, don't," I say and find myself wrapping my arms around her trembling shoulders. It's a lot more than I'd ever thought-I hadn't even made the connection between Naruto and Sasuke's outing and Ino's reaction, but I guess it makes a lot of sense. " don't have to...I...I get it. It's okay."

Ino clutches at my hand and I let her, leaning her head against her shoulder, marveling at how easy this is. I've never hugged all that many people and I'd always imagined trying would be really awkward, but it feels...natural. Like, why did I ever bother worrying?

"You don't," Ino mumbles, shifting forward on the mattress to press herself closer into my side. "But that's...I'm glad you didn't have the whole sexual identity freakout."

I kiss her temple without really thinking about it-some weird comfort gesture picked up by osmosis, I guess-and then she stiffens a little and raises her head.

"Unless, I mean, did you?" she asks, her face only centimeters from mine.

I pause to think about it, but the answer's pretty clear.

"Not really, I guess," I say, thinking back upon my realization. "I mean, I was in denial for a really long time, but then right after I graduated everything, well, it was pretty obvious."

Just like that. I never really thought about it before, but I guess it was easy for me. I never had any of the self-hatred or the fear that people I loved wouldn't accept me that is so common.

I guess that's because I never had that many people to worry about disappointing in the first place.

"The worst part is that I've pretty much always known," Ino whispers miserably, leaning back against the headboard, closing her eyes. Her mascara's a little smudged, but she still looks gorgeous, even now. It's almost kind of annoying.


She nods, a little stilted against the headboard and gives me a rueful smile. She reaches out then to take my hand, just like that, so easily, and I don't feel stupid grabbing it back.

"When I was little I had crushes on girls in nursery school," she says with a reminiscent smile, because she probably went to one of those colorful, completely child-proofed centers full of toys that they show on TV instead of an overcrowded piece of shit apartment with no central heating and a leaky ceiling during rainy season.

Ino had crushes on other little girls in nursery school. I had bruises and bite-marks.

"But I always knew that I wasn't supposed to feel that way, even before I knew what being gay was," Ino continues, oblivious to my increasingly morbid thoughts. "No one had to tell me that I wasn't quite right. In middle school, I thought, I thought if I just tried hard enough, I could be normal, but that kind of backfired on me."

I marvel at how easy it is for her to talk about herself, especially about things that are obviously painful. I feel like I should offer up something about myself in return, but...I hate talking about myself. It's...creepy and unpleasant. It doesn't feel safe, even here, curled up in Ino's bed.

"Anyway," she says when I don't say anything, clearing her throat and sitting up straight in an attempt to get herself together. "I thought I should tell you that. Because...because I really do like you, and, if you want to, you know, this, I guess. Well, I figured you should know what a fuck-up I am."

The laughter bursts out of me before I can suppress it. It's not because Ino's basically asking me to be her girlfriend, something I'd thought was obvious and unspoken, but because Ino thinks she's the fuck-up in this...this relationship, God.

Ino looks shocked, hurt starting to bleed into her expression, so I smile at her in a probably botched attempt at comfort.

"It's okay, really," I say and pull her closer by the hand. "Everyone's a fuck-up."

Ino sighs and curls into me, pushing me down until we're lying back on the mattress again. Her hair smells nice, not the fruity crap that I used to buy at convenience stores to disguise the smell of unwashed bodies and I've continued to buy out of habit, but like class and money. Designer brands and immaculate make-up and decorated nails. I used to hate girls like her on sheer principle, except for the fact that there are no "girls like her" and it was stupid to think so in the first place. The worldview of a child. And despite the fact that I won't be of age until next March, I haven't been a child in years and this is not a coming-of-age story for either of us.

Ino might be born into the upper-middle class of a first world country, but she's smart enough to realize she's got issues.

I didn't lie; everyone's a fuck-up.

Just some are more than others.

"Sorry," I mutter, hiding my face in her shoulder.

Ino shifts slightly under me and strokes her hand gently through my hair. I suppress a shiver.

"For what?" she asks softly.

I feel my face redden idiotically.

"I kinda...I kinda already thought we were, you know, girlfriends," I admit, my voice cracking embarrassingly on the last word. "I didn't think it was something that you had to talk about."

Ino lets out a small chuckle and kisses my cheek, her lips soft and dry, because all her lip gloss has disappeared by now.

"S'okay," she says, and I can hear the smile in her voice, feel the way her body's tensed with the sort of excitement I had no clue existed until I discovered dating. "I have no clue what I'm doing either."

And for some reason it's this statement that sends of shivery flush of heat running through my body to pool low in my belly and I practically have to raise my head and kiss her now, cupping her face in my hands as she rolls on top of me, a comforting weight above me with strands of hair tickling my face and her smile against my mouth.

"So..." Konohamaru whispers as we wash the dinner dishes a couple hours later, looking positively delighted with himself. "How was your date?"

I'd missed dinner, which is hardly unusual, as I'm still not completely comfortable with Asuma and Kurenai as I was with Sarutobi, but I'd come back in time to help with the dishes. Not to endure Konohamaru's adolescent sniggering.

I glare at him, jerking my head towards the other room, where Kurenai, Asuma, and Yoshiko are situated. Yoshiko's been improving so lately she's been looking for a part-time job. She's mostly been looking at department stores close by and Asuma and Kurenai have been helping her with applications.

Konohamaru unfortunately does not take the hint.

"So when can I meet her?" he asks, undeterred by my dark looks. "C'mon, I have to give her the "hurt my big sister and I'll fuck you up" speech. It's practically mandatory."

"Just focus on drying those," I scowl and hand him another pan. Konohamaru rolls his eyes and mutters something under his breath about me being no fun, but I don't much care.

"Alright, alright," he sighs, managing to dry bright pink rice bowl with little fishy patterns on it and still look like a martyr. "But you should probably cover that up if you don't want to get weird looks from my family."

He doesn't even have to point or elaborate. I nearly drop the tea cup I'm holding to grab at the spot on my neck which I now realize must have a suspicious looking bruise on it.

Konohamaru howls with laughter and my face feels like it's on fire, even as I try to maintain a dignified expression.

"Shut up!" I hiss, but it's too late, there's the sound of shifting chairs in the other room and Asuma peeks his head through the door, gives us a trying look, and then disappears back into the other room.

"Sorry," I mutter after him and then escape to the bathroom and leave Konohamaru to deal with the rest of the dishes like he deserves.

The lights in the downstairs bathroom always make me look like I haven't seen the sun in years, even though I've never been particularly pale, and the hickey stands out even more than it probably does in natural light. It's on the right side of my neck, just to the side of my Adam's apple and there is absolutely no way to hide it, even if I'm wearing a collared shirt.

I glare at my reflection in the mirror. Great. I took the bus home like this, so all the other commuters probably saw...And I'm going to have to steal some of Kurenai's foundation if I don't want to make even more of a spectacle of myself.

/I hate you./ I text Ino, because I can't complain to anyone else about this.

/?/ she responds.

/You know what you did./

/lol, yeah, i really do (°з°)/

/It's not funny. I have work tomorrow, Ino!/

/i know. something to remind you of me./

I raise an eyebrow even though there's no one here to see it and sit down on the toilet seat, regarding her text carefully. I've gotten less awkward with texting her lately, but every once and a while I have to stop a while and think of the best response.

/Are you flirting with me?/

Ok, I could have probably come up with a better answer than that.

"Fuck," I say aloud and let my head fall to the side against the tile wall with a thud.

But before I can try and salvage my error, Ino texts back with lightning speed.


/Ino, I don't know what that means./

/im sure you'll figure it out baby/

I roll my eyes and decide to quit while I'm...not ahead.

I manage to get up the stairs without anyone seeing me to change into my work clothes, but don't get the chance to "borrow" some of Kurenai's makeup. The club is dark and my hair is long enough now that I sort of manage to brush it in front of my neck, but Suigetsu still makes a lewd comment about me picking up girls in the back room (It was just the once and it was months ago! When is he going to get over it?) and Temari gives me an extremely unsubtle thumbs up. Sai just smiles at me and thankfully Jiraiya is too busy to notice.

It's nearly 2:30 by the time I get back to the house, leaving me less than five hours to sleep before I have to get up for my internship. I don't particularly mind; I'm used to not getting a lot of sleep anyway, but second year classes are a lot harder than first year classes were and there were times in the spring that it definitely would have helped to have weekends completely off for studying. My current internship pays pretty well, but it's only for the summer and while I'm not paying for rent at the moment, that's going to change soon and financial aid isn't going to cover shit if I want to live anywhere near Tokyo.

Not that I'd want to leave Konoha just yet, with Ino here and all. Maybe once she graduates from beauty school in March, but that's months off and who knows what will have happened by then.

Ignoring the cold feeling that's settled in the pit of my stomach at the thought of the future, I creep quietly up the stairs towards my room.

But apparently not quietly enough, because as soon as I hit the landing, Konohamaru's door opens and I freeze.

"Nee-san," he says sleepily, hair wild and eyes soft. "You just get back?"

"Yeah," I say guiltily, glancing over at the other bedroom doors. "You should go back to bed, it's late."

"Nah, I just wanted to ask you something," he says, looking a little more awake. And then, oddly enough, he leans against the frame of her door and looks over me with more appraisal than I'd expect from someone who just woke up at two in the morning.

"What?" I say quietly, wondering why he didn't just ask his question.

"This Ino girl..." Konohamaru says softly, looking at me with piercing eyes that I've never seen on him before. "Is the reason you don't want her to meet me because you haven't told her?"

Again, I do not have to ask what he's referring to. It's obvious.

"Konohamaru, what-" I say weakly, feeling suddenly sick to my stomach. I swallow and fuss with one of the straps of my bra with twitching fingers. "It's late, you need to-"

"You haven't, have you?" he says, sighing and closing his eyes. I can't really see his expression very well in the dim light and I'm actually kind of glad. I don't want to see the censure that I know must be in his eyes.

"I haven't told anyone either," he admits, surprising me. "Not even Moegi or Udon. They asked, you know, but I just said I moved from a different district. It was automatic; I didn't even think about telling the truth."

I don't really know what to say. I just stand there in the dark, uncomfortably aware of the silence and the rapid beat of my own heart.

"I didn't realize it until tonight, though," he continues, and I'm shocked at how adult he sounds. Surely this cannot be the cheeky brat I'd run into almost a year and a half ago now and taken under my wing. He's not even in high school yet. He's not supposed to...he's not supposed to be like this yet.

"It's over," I say, and my throat sounds wrecked, like I haven't had a drink in days. "It's done with now. We don't...we don't have to talk about it if we don't want to. We don't have to tell anyone. It's not any of their business."

"I know," he says after another silence. "I just thought..."

"Don't," I say, and it comes out more harshly than I intended, because I know what he's going to say. It's going to be that I should probably tell Ino, or at least I should think about it if we get serious.

I don't want to think about that. He shouldn't think about that. I don't know why I said "we" before. Konohamaru was only homeless for a month, and I was there with him for most of it. He has a family now, even if he just met Asuma and Kurenai. He has no idea what it's like to be out there, alone, with your best friend dead because you weren't there to protect her and no one to turn to because the only thing worse than being out there is being out there and people knowing about it.


"I'm going to bed," I say coldly and don't so much as glance at him as I walk past him into my room and shut the door behind me.

I feel a little bad about it in the morning and manage to give Konohamaru a stilted apology before I run out the door. It was late and I was exhausted, and he didn't deserve how short I was with him, not when he was only trying to help.

He accepts my apology a little too easily though, an odd sort of resigned smile on his face that makes me uncomfortable and my stomach feels wound tight with nerves all the way to work. I don't like to think of Konohamaru thinking that I'm...I don't know, a coward, or something. I'm not. I'm not scared of people knowing about my past, it's just...I just don't want to talk about it, you know? I had to tell Hinata that one time because she would have asked questions about where my parents were that night she stayed over and that was bad enough. She's still my best friend and everything, but she...she looks at me differently now. She's a little too kind and careful in the way she speaks to me now and it's not bad, I'm not accusing her of anything, but it's's not pleasant.

I know she'll get over it, she has been getting over it, slowly but surely realizing that I'm the same person I was before and she doesn't need to treat me like I'm made of glass and will break at the mention of money or extravagance or any reminder of her own privileged upbringing. Like I don't remember that it was this same upbringing that drove her into a deep depression.

And that's fine, I know it could be worse, but doing it once was enough and I don't want to have to go over it with every new person I become close with. Everyone's got secrets, right? I don't ask Ino all the gory details of her overbearing, most likely homophobic mother, a childhood of what I suspect was delinquency, and, if I've guessed correctly, losing her virginity in fucking middle school. I haven't even asked exactly how her father died and among her recent confessions, she showed no interest in talking about it.

I'm still me, right? I'm not putting on a fake persona of some well-adjusted comfortably middle-class university student. That really would be lying. I'm pretty sure with the ratty clothes all through high school, the total social isolation, the sobbing in the bathroom after Tenten's death, and the obvious intimacy issues and general cluelessness when it comes to human relationships, Ino knows who I am.

Konohamaru doesn't understand that though, and I don't expect him to. He will, eventually though, when he's figured out that life isn't some drama where everything has to be some huge melodramatic deal and everyone's issues have to be dissected by everyone else. Mostly, life isn't melodramatic or even all that exiting. It just kind of is. Because everyone's got issues, and if we all talked about them all the time we'd never have time for anything else.

Still, the thought that Konohamaru might think badly of me, even just a little bit, bothers me for the rest of the week. But then something so completely unexpected, while simultaneously being something I really should have been ready for, takes my mind off the matter entirely.

It starts out so simply. There were so many warning signs and I could make excuses, say I was busy with suddenly having a girlfriend and a nine to five job in Tokyo, but the reality of it is that I got stupid. Even worse, I got complacent, lazy. I forgot how precarious my situation is and that once you've managed to claw your way up into some form of stability, you've only got that much more to fall.

"I keep meaning to ask about your plans, Sakura-kun," Asuma says, adjusting his reading glasses and a stack of file folders about optimizing production of something boring under his arm. I look up from where I was checking my email on the downstairs computer, as I am probably the only university student in Japan without a laptop, to see that Asuma has sat down on the couch behind the computer desk, file folders in his lap, eyeing me thoughtfully.

"Plans?" I say blankly, but the ice cold grip of fear is already at my stomach. I rarely exchange anything more than pleasantries with any of the Sarutobis besides Konohamaru. Discussions of anything but the amount of rain we're getting this time of year does not bode well.

"Your future plans," he stresses, looking at me expectantly, and I get it, horribly.

"Oh," I say and abruptly lose my appetite for the leftover soba I was going to snag later.

My throat feels tight and dry, like those times when I first moved to Konoha and didn't know where to find free water in the city. I feel a little numb, like I'm not really here, like this is some sort of nightmare that I'm going to wake up in any second and then have to convince myself wasn't real after all.

"I-I've actually been looking for a place, with a friend," I say hesitatingly, forcing myself to meet his eyes even though I want nothing more than to beg out of this conversation, possibly forever.

It's a lie. I've thought vaguely about living with Karin somewhere down the line, but never with anyone else. Hinata is still living with Kiba, but she's looking for another place in Chiba and I could never move all the way out there. It'd be a two hour trip back to Konoha and I'd hardly ever be able to see Konohamaru, not to mention Ino.

"That's good," Asuma says in what I'm sure he thinks is approval, but just comes off doubtful. "I don't mean to be pushy, but you must have realized that this was never meant to be permanent."

It's not a question. Because...because, of course it wasn't, not for him, not even for me. I knew, I knew as soon as Sarutobi died that I wasn't welcome anymore, or rather, was even less welcome. Which makes it all the more ridiculous that I truly did not see this coming.

"No," I say faintly, "Of course not."

I'm absurdly grateful that I'm already sitting down, because my knees feel very weak right about now.

Sarutobi doesn't notice, just clears his throat uncomfortably, straightening the folders on his lap for no discernible reason.

I don't think I ever noticed this before, but as I look at him now, I can't help think he has a very strange beard for a salaryman.

"I'm sure you understand, with Saya getting older," he says, suddenly awkward where he had been perfectly business-like before. "I wouldn't want her to become...confused."

Confused about what? I think, but don't say aloud, because it's clearly something I'm supposed to understand by implication alone.

"Of course, we're all very grateful, what you did for Konohamaru," Asuma continues, at least somewhat comprehensibly this time. He gives me a small smile, just a bit strained. "Kurenai and I talked it through and we don't mean to alarm you...just think of this as a...heads up."

"Righ...Yes," I say, trying to look like I know what's going on when I really have no clue. Asuma gives me a curt nod and then stands, still clutching his folders.

"Well," he says, coughing awkwardly again. "It just needed to be said. And...and hopefully, things will work out with you and your...friend."


He's gone before I can come up with some sort of response, and if there were any part of me paying attention I'm sure I'd be glad, because as it is all I can do is sit in the computer chair and stare blankly at my university email.

My...friend. Saya being confused. That's what this is about.

Not all the way, to be sure. I'm sure it's weird having some random ex-homeless girl living with you while you're trying to take care of your formerly estranged mentally ill sister, her teenage son you just met a year ago, and a new baby. I'm sure Asuma and Kurenai don't really trust me because of that and I can't find I blame them too much.

But at least part of this is that I like girls, and for a brief second I'm able to empathize with the fear that Ino, Uchiha, and probably Uzumaki have.

Because this is what they were afraid of.

A/N: So yeah. It's been more than a year. I wish I had a happier chapter to bring you, least the first part was happy? Anyway, I'm really sorry, but the truth is I've been really busy with real life stuff this past year and it doesn't look like it's going to get better anytime soon. :( But I'll update as soon as I'm able, I promise! Please review!