Recompense

Yugao

Summary: They were two souls seeking others' affection.

Author's Note: Like I promised, I'm posting a post-prom one-shot (yes it's very late), for a rather unusual pairing, Naruto x Ino. (I didn't actually know this would be the pairing I'd be writing beforehand, but I let the events take my writing's course.) The style might be hard to understand at first, but in the 2nd to 7th paragraphs, it talks about Naruto, then Ino, then Naruto, then Ino, and so on and so forth. It might also be taken into account that this idea could not have been as effective without implying some Sasuke x Sakura.

Disclaimer: I don't own Someday by Nina and I don't own Naruto, either.


"Someday, someone's gonna love me

The way I wanted you to need me

Someday, someone's gonna take your place

One day, I'll forget about you

You'll see, I won't even miss you

Someday, someday…"


They were two souls seeking others' affection.

Since the beginning, his heart was set on one person: Haruno Sakura. That first day he was enchanted by her long, silken hair and her dazzling green eyes; yet, as he came to know her, he was drawn in even more by her kindness, her charm, her wit, her intelligence. To him, she was the most perfect creature he had ever known, with imperfections that beautified her more than they marred her.

She, on the other hand, constantly strove for the attentions of a certain Uchiha Sasuke. The air of mystery that constantly surrounded him had always intrigued her. She sought to unravel the secrets behind his brooding, dark eyes; she never succeeded. He always seemed cold and detached from the world, yet capable of great strength not only of body but also of spirit.

He never gave up in his seemingly relentless struggle for her favor; he never once told himself, "You don't have a chance." He didn't think that way, and he wasn't about to start. He was determined to worm his way into her heart somehow. He had thought that becoming her Genin teammate was a stepping-stone to that goal – rather, he had hoped. He never once turned back, even if it meant having to go home each and every night with a resounding "no" echoing in his mind.

Being the free spirit she was, she was always armed with a smile whenever she approached him, set on coaxing a conversation, a smile, or even a glance from him. She never once told herself, "He's too good for you." Even she knew that he was human, that he had his own flaws; still, whenever she was around him, she couldn't help but feel otherwise. Regardless, she was resolute when it came to winning him over, even for just a day. In the end, that was all she ever asked for – just a day.

Once again, he had lost Sakura to him. Life was cruel that way, but he knew better than to let his feelings show. He had learned a long time ago that it was better for people to think him a mere practical joker incapable of human emotion, than to know the true weaknesses he had inside. He took it all in stride, with a wide grin whenever he saw them together, even if there was nothing better he wanted to do than to take her away, take her away…

Once again, she had lost Sasuke to her. Like always, she pretended it didn't matter to her in the least. She glowered, or laughed, whenever her friends tried to show her sympathy over the rejection. She didn't need pity, and it was oozing in their sugarcoated tones every time they spoke to her. She didn't want it, and so pretended there was no reason for it. She walked with her head held high, without a single care in the world.

It was then that they found each other.

It was a cold, blistering night in Konoha, and the downpour came suddenly and mercilessly. She had just come from a mission, when she the oncoming torrents, taking her by surprise, soaked her in rainwater. He sought shelter and warmth in a bowl of steaming ramen, when he saw her, drenched and alone. Over the past years he had not paid much attention to her, since she thought him too annoying and he thought her too demanding. Still, seeing her helplessly trying to return home, pity, perhaps, or merely his conscience, stirred in him.

"Ino-chan!" he called out as he ran towards her, out from the comfort of the warm, dry ramen stand into the pouring rain. He took his jacket off, and held it up over her head to keep her dry. "You'll get sick. Come on, I'll treat you to ramen. It'll warm you up."

"N-naruto?" she mumbled in recognition. She stuttered not because of shyness, or that much of surprise; the chills the cold night wind sent up her spine accounted for many things. Despite her somewhat bruised pride, she followed him to the Ichiraku.

"Ayame-nee-chan, we'll be needing another bowl of miso ramen here!" he announced cheerily as he ushered her into a stool in front of the counter. He let her sit down on one of the chairs and sat beside her, leaning over his own bowl of noodles. He didn't eat them yet, though, turning to her instead and asking, "So how come you came back into Konoha alone, Ino-chan? Where're your teammates?"

"Shikamaru and Chouji headed back home immediately; Shikamaru said he was going to draw up the mission report, and Chouji just wanted to get something to eat. I was going out for a walk to calm down, but…" she stopped mid-sentence to sneeze. She felt strange to be feeling the heavy, bright orange jacket draped on her shoulders, not particularly because it clashed horribly with her outfit, but because for some strange reason, it felt like it belonged there.

"The storm came all of a sudden, I know. But at least you're here, and you can wait the rain out in the Ichiraku. I'm sure no one will mind, and your parents and teammates will understand," he received the bowl from Ayame and set it down in front of her, putting a soupspoon and a pair of chopsticks by it. He watched her stare at it blankly for a few moments before he laughed slightly and said, "Eat it! It'll help you feel better."

She smiled weakly, parting the chopsticks and starting to eat. She knew she was on a diet and was supposed to be avoiding food like this – especially food like this! Still, she finished the bowl, setting aside for one night the dictations of her day-to-day life. She knew for sure it wasn't just an ordinary, mundane day; she decided not to make it one. She stole a glance at her companion, who was also busy eating his ramen. Her expression softened. Despite the way she had treated him since the beginning of their academy days, he still found it in him to help her and to put up with her.

She set her spoon and chopsticks carefully in her bowl, sitting there quietly as she waited for him to finish. He noticed this, and when he was done, he shot her a questioning look. She opened her mouth to speak, when she went into another round of sneezes instead. He took his handkerchief from his pocket and handed it to her, and she stifled her sneezes rather embarrassedly. "Naruto…" she said finally, "Thank you."

"For what?" he asked, surprised.

"For doing this. All of this. I can hardly believe you can stand me after everything I've called you, everything I've done to you since we first met. I'm really sorry, and…" she could hardly believe her pride was lying down and letting Naruto trod all over it, but she knew she had to say it. "Thank you, again."

He smiled. "It was nothing," he answered, then, turning to look outside, added, "Oh look! The rain's stopped. Come on, I'll walk you home."

She blushed at the offer. "You don't have to," she protested.

He shrugged, following her outside anyway. Together, they walked all the way to Ino's house, which was on the opposite side of the village from Naruto's. They talked all the while, from the most mundane to the most serious. Soon, before they knew it, they arrived at the Yamanaka's doorstep.

"Well, good night," Naruto said cheerily.

She nodded in reply, and made to take his jacket off. He stopped her, and she looked at him questioningly. "But, your jacket… it's cold out, and you still have to walk a few blocks! You'll catch a cold."

"So will you, if you take that off. Your clothes are wet. It's probably not going to rain for the rest of the night, anyway. Keep it for now – you'll get sick," he answered. He turned to leave, then, and waved goodbye. "See you tomorrow, Ino-chan."

"You too!" she called out between sniffles.

She felt herself smile as she watched him walk away. Her encounter with Uzumaki Naruto had certainly been unexpected – and yet, he had changed in her eyes. Maybe, she thought, she should give him a chance.

He hummed a tune to himself as he left. He'd never have been able to predict that he would be spending the night with Yamanaka Ino of all people, but he had enjoyed it. He vowed to himself that he'd try harder to understand her.

And both of them were grateful that, if just for one evening, they were able to find recompense.

Author's Note: And… done! I'm on a writing spree at the moment. Please forgive my hyperactivity. How did you find it? Was it all right for a first try at NarutoIno? Please tell me what you thought. I'd really appreciate it.