System of Touch
Genre: drama, angst
Summary: Ino's very good at her job. Chouji and Shikamaru wish that she wasn't.
During the day she walks through minds, opening them like doors that she can slip between. Doors where she can infiltrate, reach in, and rummage through the rooms without hassle or interference. Most people don't bother to shield their minds from attack, and even if they did, she can tear through them like paper.
The old man with the scar on his neck, a souvenir from a love affair gone wrong. His skin spilt in a hot line of pain while the perfume of his lover still seeped into his clothing. He was lucky to escape with only superficial wounds. He had known that the woman was married. Her name was Rurui and he called her Rurui-chan
It wasn't difficult anymore, to perform the jutsu. She hardly even had to concentrate to separate from her own body and dive into another's, the hand movements flicking automatically to her fingers in a second nature. Third nature, fourth nature. She had so many natures…sometimes it was hard to tell which was the real one.
Rurui-chan was slightly bored of her not-so-important position of the wife of the daimyo's nephew. She amused herself by taking numerous lovers: the foolish old man that brought them their milk and any trinkets she asked for from the market, even if he was growing steadily bankrupt. The third-shift guard with the broad shoulders and scratchy beard who had thick clumsy fingers and not nearly enough stamina to satisfy. The daimyo's secretary, with his nervous hands and quiet awe of her presence
Where before it might have taken hours for her to sort through the random information cluttering people's often untidy minds, now it took only seconds. Seconds to pierce with her chakra, and insert herself inside. Seconds to peel back layers of memory, and section off what she needed, like neatly paring the fleshy halves of apples. People weren't so complicated. They could be cored and swallowed and sorted from their seeds.
name was Fuun Yushito, and he'd worked for the daimyo for years, so when the order to dispatch a number of spies into the border towns to Konohagakure came, he was well aware of the names and faces of each and every shinobi chosen for the task. Musashita Hako, Nishi Taru, Nasake Ruruto
"Hotoro Kaede…Otohori Jin…and Mimoko Eede."
"That's all of them?" The ANBU didn't look up from the pad of paper he was scribbling notes on. His voice was calm and clinical.
Ino rubbed at the nape of her neck to dispel the small tension headache there and nodded. For a second she felt the raised ridges of scar tissue under the pads of her fingers and she shivered. 'Not my body.'
The ANBU flipped his notepad shut and bowed perfunctorily in her direction. His thank you was brief and unnecessary. Any thought of asking Ino if she was certain of her information was also unnecessary. They had stopped doing that after the tenth time she'd performed this kind of mission. They had learned that she was always certain.
When Chouji appeared solidly in the doorframe, Ino hauled herself to her feet and allowed him to loop his arm around her waist. He hefted her off the ground easily with that one arm. She rested her face childishly against his neck while he carried her through the streets to the temporary apartment where they were stationed…to where Shikamaru would be waiting.
They found him in the kitchen, a bowl of rice forgotten on the table next to a pile of scrolls and schematics. He looked up when they came in, and smiled, but talking would wait until Ino was bathed.
"Roses or lilacs?" Chouji asked as he stooped over the tub, a package of bath salts looking small and ridiculous between his huge fingers.
Ino watched and whispered, "Lilacs," from the toilet, and fumbled with the buttons to her top.
When she was finally settled into the steaming water, breathing in the relaxing floral scent, she allowed herself a sigh of relief. She was content to sit in companionable silence while Chouji played with her hair, combing through the blond mass with wet fingers, until Shikamaru stepped onto the tile, his feet as bare as the rest of him.
Chouji gave the other boy a small smile and shifted to make room for him on the bench by the tub. Shikamaru dipped his toes in the water and swished them around, making waves across Ino's hips and the swell of her breasts.
"How far this time?" he asked.
It was a routine that started ever since her first attempt at the Shintenshin, when she had successfully captured Chouji under the watchful eyes of Asuma and the proud smile of her father. That time she'd only been able to reach three feet from her body with her mind.
She'd been so happy that she'd actually done it, she completely forgot about making Chouji attempt a cartwheel like she had been planning. Asuma had taken them all out for a celebratory dinner that day.
She moved her hand through the bathwater and watched as the milky soap residue swirled around her fingertips, around Shikamaru's tanned ankle, and Chouji's strong wrist.
"Seven miles," she said and held her breath.
Behind her, Chouji's hand tightened momentarily in her hair. She gave a tired smile and reached backwards and he abandoned her tresses immediately so she could link their fingers. By her feet, Shikamaru was pouring water over her knees, and she parted them slightly, so she could feel the warmth of it trickling down between her thighs.
"Tell me about my body," she said, and Shikamaru obediently lifted her foot and cradled it in his hands.
"You have a scar right here," he said, flicking the heel with his fingers, "where you stepped on that sparkler Chouji got you for the Moon Festival when we were eleven."
Gentle lips on the nape of her neck made her arch and stretch in the water, a wet lock of hair falling across her cheek and she tilted to the side. A full cheek rubbed against hers and from the crease against her chin, she could tell that Chouji was smiling.
"You like to be kissed here," he said, pressing his lips again to that spot, "because you told Shikamaru once that the nape of the neck was a woman's most vulnerable place, regardless of what those dirty magazines say. That was when we were sixteen."
Calloused hands were stroking her hips, while others were raising her slightly out of the water, and Ino laughed and smiled and ignored the wetness blurring her vision as they reacquainted her with each and every part of her body—her body—with slow and careful exploration.
When they took turns slipping inside of her, she took comfort from the fact that there were no jutsus involved.