A/N: I couldn't go to sleep because this scenario played in my head over and over, so one day I groggily forced myself to type this story when I was half asleep. Anyway, I was surprised at how cool it turned out, heh. Because my cool Beta friend is busy, I was too impatient and edited everything myself, which means a lot of mistakes folks. Sorry. This is sorta a present for people waiting for the other story to update, which I will. Um...oh yeah...this isn't depressing I swear!
The day brought upon a warm setting, unusual for autumn. There lay a calm breeze in Konoha, one that shuffled the fallen leaves. Yet, instead of admiring the weather, Ino ignored it, and chose to disregard everyone else for that matter.
She stomped through the streets, tears trailing down her eyes. She grunted at the blood she felt rising towards her cheeks. Long strands of her blonde hair swayed from side to side, the tie loosening at its hinges. But Ino continued to walk forward, disgusted by the ease of her vulnerability.
Through her moistened glare, there awaited an empty bench, covered in restless leaves. She stood in front of the bench, swiping the leaves away despite of any potential splinters. Without much of a second thought, she sat herself upon that bench, shoving her palm under her chin, crossing her legs. She was in dire need for peace and the chitter chatter neighborhoods were not very appealing.
"Stupid." Ino whispered, rolling her eyes. She shook her head, heaving a long sigh to calm her nerves. She felt the urge to scream, but had to simply let that go. Her father always warned her of her unstable impulses, claiming it was hereditary. "Probably so," She nodded to no one in particular, misplaced in her own thoughts.
For a while, she had her back turned away from the way she came. It did not take much to have herself composed, but the tears did not stop. Absentmindedly, she smeared the unwanted moisture from her cheeks and chose to focus on the concrete patterns of cracks beneath her bench. Anything, if it meant to quit being so emotional.
Yet, as she sat there in her own scrambled thoughts and rising depression, it was the sudden sniffles and soft sobs that had her reflexes practically twitching.
She turned, swiftly, to meet the back of a boy sitting from across the bench. A rouge tinted leaf stuck from his pocket shorts, indicating that he had been there for a while. Ino blinked, surprised by her lack of judgment for time. The tears dried quickly, because two people crying for two different reasons was always embarrassing, especially when you have to compete with a child.
Ino grumbled a bit, hoping to have had some privacy. For a minute or two, she listened silently to the boy who kicked at the leggings of the bench with his sneakers, his untied shoelaces clicking together.
"Are you okay?" She finally found herself asking, curious in the way a teenager could only be. She placed her palm onto the shoulder of the stranger in front of her, he flinched, startled. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you. But are you okay?" She asked again, hoping the boy wouldn't find her appearance strange.
"Yes." He turned to meet her gaze, she was met with the purest hue of blue, a tone so intense, she smiled. She was always a sucker for blue eyes. Oddly enough, a patch of blonde hair ruffled at the top of his head. If it was not for the absent streaks of cat whiskers, she would have definitely thought it was he who shall remain nameless.
A hint of scarlet arose on his cheeks, indicating embarrassment. Not one for feeling that way herself, Ino patted his shoulder for good measure, "Don't worry, I was crying too!" She smiled, eager to see a grin on the small boy's face. He laughed a contently, in a mindless manner, the way a child can only pull.
"Yes, go ahead and laugh at my problems, kid." She guessed humor was probably the only way to calm him, but he did seem to have sobered a bit. After a moment, she felt a bit relaxed. "So, did a couple of kids bully you? Because I'm up to kicking a couple of rear-ends." He laughed again and she nodded. Somehow, she felt relieved to have someone with her, even if he was a child. Sulking in her own sadness was never her type of style anyway.
"No," he shook his head, "I'm waiting for my dad, he promised to play with me today." He frowned, the abrupt sad expression on his face left Ino slightly gloomy as well.
"Don't worry," she spoke softly, hopefully. "I'm sure he'll come sometime. I'll wait here with you if you want."
He smiled and nodded. For a boy his age, she figured nine or ten, he was quite shy. Usually kids at his age are little bursts of overexcited hellions.
Ino then turned her view onto the other side of the street, gazing at the various food shops and clothing stores. She was never much of a conversation starter, but she felt she needed to keep him talking. "I'm Ino, by the way," She extended her thumb, jabbing at her chest.
Her instincts told her that he wasn't open enough to tell her his name and she understood. Besides, children weren't supposed to be so open with strangers. At that impulsive thought, she turned towards the floor again.
Maybe it was bizarre to expect so much from a kid.
"You're pretty," He spoke, almost in a whisper, "Like my mom."
"Thank you." She laughed, relieved. "You're cute too, for a little kid." Unexpectedly, she reached her hand out to pinch his cheek, but he did not withdraw. Instead, he blushed and kept his hands clamped to the ends of the bench.
When she pulled away she said, "Anyway, at least you're sad for a good reason."
He continued to stare, curiosity hinted under the bangs of cornflower hair.
"Mine is sorta stupid."
She bit at the bottom of her lip, immediately regretting ever dwelling into that subject. Explaining relationships to a ten year old would probably leave him confused. Besides, why depress him again, she thought, he was too caught up waiting for his father. "Never mind. Besides, kid, life is too short to be sad."
"Are you waiting for your dad?" Ino could not help but crack a grin, the tone of voice of his, at his adolescence, was irresistible.
"Nope. I don't know why I'm here, actually."
The boy opened his mouth, as if to speak. Instead, he hugged his stomach, a squirming expressed plastered on his face. A noise rumbled out of his tummy, one quite familiar.
"Oh, you're hungry, aren't you?" She found herself reaching into her pocket for change. "See, situations like this, I wish I could cook."
"No it's okay."
"You lucky kids, you get to eat your mommy's delicious dinners. Adults like me have to attempt to cook stuff." She arched an eyebrow, a bit taken aback by that term: Adult; she thought she would never fit that phrase.
"What?" He cocked his head to the side, his little legs swinging. "I never eat my mom's food!"
"My dad cooks for us."
Ino's eyes widened faintly, "That's weird," She tapped her chin, "I guess boys are starting to cook now."
"I miss him." He frowned once more, the tone in his eyes dimming.
"Aw-kid. Don't do that, you're breaking my heart." She felt the sudden urge to ruffle his hair, but thought against it.
"Are you sad, too?"
"I was." Her gaze shifted towards the sky, "Not anymore. You kinda made me feel better. Thanks."
"It's okay, I like you, you're funny."
"You know what, I like you too." Going against her previous thoughts, she reached her hand over, taking a stroke the boy's head. Again, he did not recoil, she figured he was probably accustomed to grown-ups pinching and patting him. Little kids were always vulnerable to that sort of treatment. Instead, he dropped his gaze, rouge hinting under his blue eyes. He appeared to be a bit embarrassed, but only chuckled shyly.
When she finally pulled away, she pressed her back towards the bench. She sighed again, feeling much more lively than before. A pleasant smile curled onto her lips.
"You can come eat with us, my dad won't mind."
Ino paused, scratching her chin. Her eyes shifted to the tree on the right, as she considered the offer. "Maybe, I'm actually kinda hungry myself." Konoha civilians were always known for their hospitality, she figured, perhaps she could catch her way to a free meal.
She paused. It took a second to let that sink in, Ino. The voice was a low murmur, but sounded quite serious. Her nerves trembled as she turned to look at the boy, but found thin-air. "Hey!" She cried out, her fingertips patting against the ends of the bench, as if the boy who sat beside her were now invisible. "Where'd you go?" Ino stared at the bench, her hands fumbled for any signs of a boy. Only, a leaf was left behind. She grabbed onto it's stem, bringing it closer. "Where'd he go?"
"There you are…" She turned once more, shaking the leaf in her hands, "You scared me a bit there--"
Her eyes widened. There was no boy. Instead, Naruto stood in front of her, a rather confused expression playing upon his features. "Are you still mad?"
"What the hell are you doing here?!" She cried out, pushing herself off the bench. "Where's that boy?"
"What boy?" Naruto questioned, scratching at the back of his ear. "What are you talking about?" He chuckled.
"…I don't know myself."
Naruto then took a step forward, "Ino, I'm sorry, I really am." He frowned, "What I did was stupid, okay? I'll even admit it." He offered his hand, "Okay? There I said it, I was stupid."
Ino glanced behind her, completely convinced of the little boy she was speaking to existed. Her limbs loosened and the leaf she once held promptly released from her grip, floating with the autumn breeze.
Silently, she shifted her gaze back to Naruto, and took his open hand, smiling. "How'd you find me here?"
"Don't know." He shrugged as they began to walk away from the bench, "Just had a feeling you'd be here."