A/N: 'Iris' is a funny title for brainless fluff, considering that every pairing ever made has at least one fanvid to the dark song with the same title. (You know, I don't think I've ever heard that song all the way through; I usually stop at the beginning of each AMV.) But brainless fluff is all this is. So… yeah. NaruIno. Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters mentioned in this, but the concept is mine.
EDIT: I. AM. A. MORON. I finally listened to Iris all the way through, and it is almost as fluffy as this story and one of my favorite songs now, so disregard my above attempt at cleverness.
He had never found Ino attractive.
Her skin was too bronze, or rather orange from her new venture into self-tanning, a distasteful shade in comparison to Sakura and Hinata's delicate lily-white complexions. The long blonde hair that she constantly boasted of was too commonplace while others sported pink, chestnut, amber or blue-black tresses. She was too bony and flat-chested next to Hinata, her voice too screechy, loud and annoying next to TenTen, and he didn't like women that flung themselves all over men with ambiguous sexuality like Sai and Sasuke.
And yet, now that he had the pick of his village, the most beautiful girls in the Land of Fire swooning at his feet, why couldn't he stop thinking about her? They had never gotten along very well: she was Sasuke's biggest fan and he his bitterest rival. She belittled Sakura constantly, insulted his friends Shikamaru and Choji whenever the opportunity arose, and, worst of all, mocked his dream of becoming Hokage!
So why was it that these days he found his path leading to the door of her shop more and more often? He provided good business for her, always in need of some flowers for some moonstruck airhead, but there were other places he could go for presents, other shops in town.
Naruto glared up at the new sign, painted in a curving script with pastel colors. "Ino's Florist Haven." Taku, what a cornball name! He wondered what Inoichi thought about it. Probably didn't matter to his daughter anyway: when Yamanaka Ino wanted something, she got it. He admired that—determination was something he liked in a wom… but really, he reflected, it was most likely that she annoyed everyone until they gave in to her will.
A raindrop burst on his head, moist and heavy with approaching springtime, followed by more, pelting the pavement in a February shower. He pushed the door open, hoping that somehow the irritating bell would be broken today. It wasn't. Instead, the cheery tone announced his arrival like a blaring claxon, shattering all thoughts of slipping in unnoticed. Crap. Well, it didn't really matter. He wouldn't be there long and Ino wouldn't want to see him in any event.
"Rokudaime-sama!" Her voice sounded less shrill today, somehow, and as she came out from the back of the shop, he noticed that her customary apron followed curves that hadn't been there before. Or had they?
"Konichiwa," Naruto said, bending down to enjoy the scent of a pale yellow bloom.
Ino dropped a paper bag onto the counter and came quickly to join him. "Primrose," she explained, a sultry air lingering on each syllable. "It's one of my favorites."
He nodded, running a finger along a delicate petal.
"Who are you buying for today?" She folded her arms, teasing him; daring him. It was an eternal joke to Ino that the outcast of Konoha was now the village's most eligible bachelor. "After all, it is Valentine's. Posies for Hyuuga-san, roses for Forehead-girl, daisies for TenTen--"
Ino nodded, grinning at him wickedly. "That's right—it's posies for Sakura, roses for Hina and—or was it roses for TenTen?"
"Chocolates for TenTen. She hates flowers."
She threw her head back and laughed in a way that made him want to join her, even if she was laughing at him, which she might have been for all he knew. "That's too confusing for me. How do you keep up with it all?"
Naruto allowed himself a small smile, shrugging. "Guess I'm a bit smarter than you think."
Her head tilted to one side, a strange, almost flirtatious sneer spreading across her face. "Do you want to know what I really think of you?" she purred, poking his shoulder with a sharp fingernail.
"It's stopped raining," he remarked, selecting a slender iris and thumbing in his pocket for a few ryou notes. Ino took them reluctantly, not ready to end the conversation.
"Well, who's it for?"
The Hokage grinned lopsidedly, and bowed to her.
"Ja ne, Ino-chan."
Ino sat behind the counter, nibbling at lukewarm dumplings and puzzling so hard her head throbbed. Who was that idiot sending flowers to? And an iris, of all things? None of her customers ever requested them; in fact, the only reason she kept any in stock was that they were her personal favorite. She had always connected irises with thoughts of Sasuke. One of her dearest childhood aspirations was to one day receive a bouquet of freshly-cut irises with a note attached, reading:
"For my beautiful flower.
From your Sasuke-kun."
A few years later, she had added a post-script—
"P.S. Marry me?"
She exhaled heavily. Only Sakura was childish enough to dream of such things. Sasuke had run off with Orochimaru's bespectacled flunky years ago, and, as far as she knew, was happily fulfilling the fantasies of some yaoi fangirl. Actually, Ino thought, stirring her instant ramen with a pen, Forehead-girl was over Sasuke, and so was she. She tucked a free strand of hair behind her ear decisively, and got back to the tedious job of unloading her newest arrivals.
Her back ached, streams of sweat trickled down her cheek and she never wanted to see another rose in her entire life, but the last of the shipment was unloaded and each flower neatly arranged in the display. She gave the final box a boot, content with the hollow sound that resonated through the cardboard.
Another noise loudly interrupted the silence: her complaining stomach reminding her that it was time to eat. "Hold on," she muttered, wiping her forehead with a corner of her apron. "Just wait a little longer, and then we'll swing by… Oh, shoot!" Remembering her diet, Ino kicked at the box again, more savagely this time. "Never mind."
She untied the apron, grousing inwardly with each movement, and flung it into a chair. Grabbing her coat and keys off the desk, she made her way to the main light switch, with a grim memory of the last time she had left the power running all night. The key was in the lock when Ino saw a decrepit flower lying on the ground.
Ino scowled at the plant, furious with the delay. How had she missed this one? She snatched it up, her fingers crumpling a piece of paper tied to the stem with something that resembled… a ramen noodle? What in the—
She yanked the note free and squinted in the twilight to read the sloppy handwriting.
"For Ino-pig. Happy Valentine's Day.
P.S. Ichiraku's. 6:30."
Ino tucked the note into her coat pocket and glanced down at her watch. "Rokudaime-baka won't mind waiting a few minutes; you need some water," she told the wilting iris.
To heck with diets. She pranced back into the store in search of a vase, humming cheerfully.
Because when Yamanaka Ino wants something, she gets it.
Most of the time.