A/N: I'm not dead! I haven't completely switched fandoms either, although it might look that way. My computer is rebelling, some of my files are at home and I'm at college, and I'm at college which puts a serious crimp in my writing. I'm going back to my Harry Potter stuff as soon as possible.
Okay, here's a Naruto/Ino fic, because I really like the pairing. Enjoy.
"I agreed to one date . . . with you . . . and only you." Ino rubbed small circles at her temples to diminish the migraine growing rapidly. Explaining simple concepts to Naruto-or any other male for that matter-was always headache inducing.
She really hated to do this. She had been looking forward to a fun date with her hyperactive blonde friend, and he looked so adorable rubbing the back of his neck apologetically. But even though he was duly ashamed, he had brought half of the rookie nine, Lee, the Konahamaru corps, and Iruka-sensei to Ichiraku with him, and Ino had a reputation to uphold.
"Chouji, Shikamaru? Will you walk me home?" It wasn't that she couldn't walk home by herself, but Inoichi would be very angry if she did. Then her father would go on a rant about the death of chivalry in today's teenagers. Since such rants were troublesome, Shikamaru and Chouji escorted her everywhere . . . unless she was shopping with Sakura. They flat out refused to accompany her then.
Unfortunately, Ino hadn't seen Temari until that moment and it became readily apparent that Shikamaru could not walk her home. She turned to Chouji, finding him involved in an eating contest with Lee and Kiba. He wasn't an option either.
Naruto passed his ramen to Chouji-a small miracle in itself-and stood up, leaving his money on the counter. "I'll walk you home, Ino. It's the least I could do." Ino grudgingly nodded.
"But Boss," one of the snot-nosed gennin whined.
"Later, Konohamaru. I'll help you with the technique tomorrow. Go back to your ramen." Naruto pulled his jacket on and reached for Ino's, but she beat him to it. He shrugged and they left the ramen stand, walking side by side, but not touching. Ino made sure of that. Within a few moments, they were both lost in thought.
Naruto followed Sakura into the Hokage Tower, pleading his case. Neither noticed Ino across the room finishing a report. "Sakura-chan! Want to go out on a date? Just for some ramen please?"
"No, you baka," the pink-haired kunoichi shook her head in exasperation. "I'm too busy for dates, even with just-friends." She continued up to Tsunade's office, and Naruto sank onto one of the sofas to wait.
Naruto's dejected look pulled at Ino. She didn't get Sakura. Why pine over the traitor to Konoha when she had a boy here devoted to her every whim and steadfast in his devotion? Two boys if you counted Lee. She personally thought that Naruto deserved some sort of reward for his unwavering affection going on three years straight.
"Oi, Naruto!" she called. "I'll go out with you." She couldn't let him think that it was pity or he'd refuse. "My date canceled last minute and I already bought a new outfit."
Naruto looked up at her and grinned briefly. "Another outfit?" he teased. "Can't let Ino-chan go out alone like that now, can I?"
"Watch it, whisker-boy. I'll meet you at the ramen stand around six."
"Sure thing, Ino."
It would have been fun to blow an evening at Ichiraku and then walking around the outdoor market that had been set up for the week long festival, Ino thought wistfully as they reached her home above the shop. Naruto walked her up to the door, and returned to his nervous habit of rubbing the back of his neck. Ino narrowed her eyes. If he expected a kiss after his mistake he had another thing coming.
"I'm sorry, Ino. And if it helps any, I thought your new outfit was very pretty."
It was actually an old purchase, but she hadn't worn it before so it hadn't been too big of a white lie. She could tell that he was earnest, so she graced him with a small smile before letting herself inside. "I'll see you tomorrow, Naruto. Good night."
Ino didn't see Naruto the next day. The Ino-Shika-Cho team were sent out on an emergency mission and the next four days were a grueling exercise in exactly why infiltration took so many years to perfect. When she finally did return to Konoha, the only thing she wanted was a long hot bath and a pound of chocolate. However word traveled fast in Konoha, and by the time she reached the shop, Naruto was sitting on the front step.
She raised a questioning eyebrow at him, and Naruto flushed jumping to his feet. "Your mom kicked me out 'cause my fidgeting was scaring the customers."
Ino chuckled at that. Naruto's idea of fidgeting was bouncing around like a pinball. She was surprised her mom had let him remain sitting on the doorstep. She cocked her head and shrugged. "So what are you doing here?"
"I wanted to give you this," he told her cheerfully, dangling something in her face. Ino took it from him. It was a long black cord strung with pieces of blue, green, and purple glass, but she could tell that the edges had been softened and rounded for use as a necklace. "One of the gypsy ladies was selling a ton of them, but I thought you would like that one the best."
"It's pretty," she smiled up at him. "Help me put it on?"
Naruto agreed and fastened it carefully around her neck, while she held her hair out of the way. "There!" he announced triumphantly.
Ino fingered the dancing glass. "Most guys just buy me flowers."
Naruto laughed. "Seems tacky to buy a girl flowers from her own shop, and rude to buy them elsewhere." He relaxed against the doorway. "So how was your mission?"
"One more priceless over-glorified vase returned to its rightful owner," she chuckled. "Two lackeys squished, one servant's mind melted, and a dishonest merchant with a new appreciation for shadow puppets."
"Good old Team Ten," Naruto chuckled. "Well, I'll let you go relax. Tsunade-baachan probably has stuff for me to do." He started down the street, but turned back. "We're good, right?" he asked worriedly.
Ino laughed and gave him a peck on the cheek. "We're good." She started inside, but suddenly turned around and surprised both of them by really kissing him. When she pulled away, Ino giggled at his dumbfounded expression. "Thanks for the necklace, Naruto. Want to go for barbeque later?"
A content smile spread over his face followed quickly by the foxy grin. "I can do that. No hang-ons either. That's a promise."