A/N: This is kinda sad. The final chapter. I really rather wish it didn't have to end, but I know for a fact I wouldn't be able to keep it going. Anyways, hope you all enjoy.
Disclaimer: CrazyNinjaPenguin is a friend to the little people but does not own Naruto.
The sun shone brightly in the sky, calming the peaceful village of Konoha below with its warmth. A young girl sat sighing hopelessly under a great, old tree. She was lost in thought, as she had been for a while.
"Here you are Ino. I was worried when you didn't come home today. What are you doing out here?" Said the voice of an approaching man, the young girl knew the voice as her father's.
"This was her favorite spot. We would always talk here." Ino replied calmly not afraid of how her father might scold her.
"You mean Azami, your cousin?" Inoichi asked in a solemn tone.
"Yeah. We used to talk here a lot. I thought, maybe if I waited here long enough she might come back to us." Ino said giving another healthy sigh.
"I'm sorry, Ino. Azami made her choice. There's nothing any of us can do." The man said in a deeply even tone as he sat beside his daughter.
"I know, dad. I know; it's just… I miss her. I want to talk to her, tell her about everything just like I used to. Everything's so hard and I just wish I had her here to help guide me through it all. Why'd she have to leave anyways?" Ino spoke with a mixture of sadness and frustration.
"You remember why she came to live with us in the first place, right Ino?" Inoichi asked in a somewhat melancholy way.
"Her parents died while they were on a mission, right?" Ino answered at once, this much she knew, but the rest of the story had always been a subject the family avoided.
"Yes, that much is true. But they died several years before she came here. Before coming here Azami lived with someone else." Inoichi spoke reluctantly, realizing his young daughter needed to hear this story.
"Who was that?" Ino asked, her eyes lighting up. She had always had immense curiosity about Azami's past and now she was finally beginning to hear it.
"Growing up Azami became close friends with a girl her age. Apparently they were inseparable. When her parents died, this girl begged her own parents to let Azami come live with them. She lived there for a while eventually graduating form the ninja academy. Her bond was so strong with this girl that it was decided that they would be placed on the same squad, even though it was not traditional for two kunoichi to be." Inoichi told Azami's story in a serious, level voice.
"Something horrible happened, didn't it?" Ino asked this but already knew the answer, she was young but smart enough to ser where this was leading.
"On one of their first B-ranked missions, Azami's team was ambushed by enemy shinobi. Azami's best friend, her jounin leader, and the other member of the squad didn't survive that fight; Azami of course did. When she returned to the village she was emotionally unstable, for months she called a hospital her home. Finally when she was released it was decided she would be sent to the closest relatives who would accept her, her mom and your own being sisters, that just happened to be us." The story came to a close with Inoichi giving a downed sigh.
"I see. Thanks for telling me, dad." Ino gave a faint smile.
"I'm sorry we didn't tell you sooner. The report from the hospital said that the slightest mention of Azami's past, of her friend, of what had happened that day, was enough to cause a mental breakdown in her. We couldn't run the risk of telling you." The girl's father apologized.
"It's fine. It's sad, everything that happened to her, I just wish she was still here. That she had stayed with us. That she hadn't just left." Ino sniffled, tears welled in her eyes.
"I understand Ino. Azami became a part of all our lives. She is your cousin; you love her. It must not seem fair to you. But please Ino, try not to blame Azami for the choice she made." Inoichi put a hand at his daughter's shoulder in hopes of comforting her.
Ino's emotions calmed; she actually smiled. She got to her feet; turning to her father she said with determination, "I know, dad. I won't blame her. In fact I promise I'll try my hardest to fulfill her expectations of me; that way, if we ever meet again someday, she'll have a reason to be proud."
As Ino awoke, she couldn't help but wonder why the hell she was remembering this now. Maybe it was because in remembering the previous night, her first night spent reveling in Sakura's warmth, Ino realized the promise she made back then had become a laughable joke; irony would have her remember how much she had changed. It wasn't like it mattered much anyway. She supposed she was glad she did remember though; when next she confronted Azami she'd have something to goad that fucking hypocrite with before Ino slit her throat.
No, Ino was beyond caring about Azami. Hell, Ino wondered why she even thought about that bitch when the previous night had been so magical. The only thing she really should ever care about anymore was Sakura, her Sakura.
"Good morning, did you sleep well, my love." Sakura's sweet voice called out to Ino as that girl noticed she was beginning to wake. Ino sat up at once and offered a full smile before standing up and walking over to Sakura. She kissed her gently.
"I'll take that as a yes." Sakura said with a shy giggle between Ino's enthusiastic kisses. She slowly sat herself down on the grass and sat Ino next to her.
Ino couldn't stop smiling. She still couldn't believe it. She was stunned with her happiness knowing she could very well spend the rest of her life with Sakura. She did however upon thinking on all that had transpired come across a peculiar fact. When she had fallen asleep she had been completely naked, yet now she was fully clothed. Ino questioned, "When did you dress me, sexy?"
"Oh that? I'd say about an hour after you fell asleep." Sakura answered with a slight blush.
"Really? I thought you fell asleep at the same time I did." Ino said in doubt.
"I did at first. Apparently my sense of responsibility wasn't about to let it last though. It's not exactly safe for the two of us to fall asleep naked in the middle of the wilderness. That and leaving an open camp fire burning through the night is kinda a bad idea as well." Sakura said sarcastically, as if she couldn't believe she had almost let this all happen.
"So which did you prefer, putting my clothes on or taking them off?" Ino asked in a sensual way, offering a seductive smirk.
Sakura blushed a deep red. She spoke meekly, "Well… eh, heh heh, I guess… When I undressed you before I really wasn't thinking about you like that yet even if I did think your body was quite beautiful. Last night when I dressed you I was thinking about that stuff… and I tried not to but my hands would sort of linger in certain spots. You were fast asleep through it all though... The look on your face was so cute."
"So you groped my body while I slept, sexy girl? You know you could have just woken me up if you still wanted more fun." Ino laughed at how cute her lover was, it was intolerable. She knew she was happier now than she ever had been.
"Believe me I thought about it. I decided to let you sleep instead though. I know yesterday was a tough day for you." Sakura said softly, lovingly.
"Fuck that. After last night I'm confident in saying yesterday is the best day of my whole fucking life so far." Ino said with force, scoffing at Sakura's words.
"Oh. I see." Sakura said with a cute laugh.
Ino gave a sigh. She remembered how she had started last night's magical session by forcing Sakura to the ground without permission. She realized she probably needed to be serious for a moment, "Sakura, are you really okay with this? I mean with loving me, loving another woman. I don't want to put you through unnecessary pain."
"Ino, loving you isn't going to cause me any pain what so ever. I don't care what anyone says or what anyone thinks. I don't care if all my friends laugh at me or even if my parents disown me. You're worth anything I have to endure." Sakura said with mature romanticism that made Ino's heart beat fast.
"I'm happy to hear you say that. Part of me thought maybe this was too good to be true, that you were just doing this out of pity for me, or that maybe you felt like you were forced into it. I just wanted to make sure you were okay with it." Ino said in a forthright manner.
"How's this for proof that I actually love you every bit as much as you do me." Sakura said playfully before pushing Ino down against the grass, she joined her mouth to that of the blonde and forcefully kissed her.
They kissed passionately for a good moment. Sakura was being especially rough. She had forced her tongue inside her lover's eager mouth and had begun to lash it about ravishingly. All the while Sakura never broke eye contact with Ino; the blonde girl felt she could see into the other's soul.
Sakura pulled away and allowed Ino to sit up once more, Ino spoke while wiping Sakura's saliva from around her lips, "Alright. There's no questioning that. I guess I really am as lucky as I thought. Actually why don't we not stop there? How about we start the magic early, my hot hot lover, and take these clothes off one more time."
"It's certainly tempting, dear, but I'm afraid we have more pressing issues to attend to." Sakura said with a reluctant sigh. She seemed genuinely disappointed that she had to refuse Ino's offer.
"What's more important than our little sexy fun?" Ino asked in a sexual tone, unconvinced, she extended a hand and began to fondle Sakura's chest.
"Well, if you remember, we were sorta on a mission. You do realize that Choji and Kakashi-sensei are either dead, captured, or frantically looking for us right now." Ino said in a serious fashion, sorry she had to disappoint Ino's hopes.
"I have faith in our companions not to die, and I don't see Azami as the type to capture anybody. And I doubt they'd be looking for us, when they saw us fall to our deaths off a steep cliff." Ino argued as she began to massage Sakura's smooth thighs.
"Actually even if they suspect us to be dead, looking for us is still their priority. If you remember, I was the one who was chosen to hold the scroll we were supposed to deliver. They have to find us in order to complete the mission." Sakura explained, in a soft suppressed voice, Ino's constant touching had obviously gotten her quite aroused making it harder for her to concentrate.
"Oh yeah. So do you still have that thing?" Ino said, remembering for the first time her mission's details. She continued to caress Sakura, running a hand through the girl's beautiful pink hair.
"Of course. I stowed it away with my things. It got a little wet when we fell in the river, but I don't think any serious damage was done." Sakura replied at once.
"Still no rule says we have to go look of them. We can just wait here and have a little fun until they show." Ino said teasingly, she began to place hot kisses at Sakura's neck.
"Ino, we don't have any privacy. Do you really want to risk the possibility of Choji showing up to see the two of us having sex?" Sakura fought back moans as she said this in as steady a voice as she could muster.
Ino stopped touching Sakura at once and got to her feet. She said with a hard laugh, "Point taken. Let's get going then."
Sakura stared at Ino just blinking; she obviously hadn't been prepared for Ino to stop so abruptly. Reluctantly realizing Ino wasn't going to touch her further she gave a soft nod and jumped to her feet. She had a marked look of disappointment about her.
The lovers retraced their steps from the area where Sakura had setup camp back toward the riverbank. Sakura assumed their comrades would be searching the river upstream from where they had fallen. Sakura and Ino decided to follow the river. Along the way they laughed and smiled at each other while they continued to talk.
"So when did you come to the realization you liked me like this, Ino?" Sakura decided to ask on a whim, killing time as they walked.
"Last night." Ino replied in a blunt way.
"I seriously doubt that's the truth…" Sakura said quite skeptically.
"I've never been good at understanding myself. I've always been uncertain about everything... Certainly I was in love with you before last night, but I had no clue what it was I wanted from you until you confronted me about it directly." Ino explained in a reflective manner.
"I see. I was going to feel bad if you told me you had some huge crush on me for years and had always just been unable to say it because you were scared of what I'd think." Sakura said with a light laugh but real relief in her voice.
"Well, it's not like any of that really matters anymore. All my doubt and uncertainty is the past now. We're together now my love, and we'll stay that way from now on." Ino said in a strong voice.
"I'm just so sorry, Ino. It just makes me feel stupid. Even if you didn't know yet, you loved me with all your heart and I pushed you away. I, especially after what's happened now, can't believe how big of a mistake I made." Sakura beat herself up with some sad words.
"Not this again. I don't blame you for anything, Sakura. I mean if you hadn't pushed me away, If we would have stayed close friends, I probably then would have been forced into a situation like that one you were talking about. I'd be the closet lesbian with an insufferable crush on my best friend who I'm too scared to ever let know. As I see it, we had a few rough years but in the end we both got our happiness." Ino said in a warm way that made Sakura smile.
"Who's to say that I wouldn't have went and opened up to you?" Sakura asked teasingly.
"I doubt it. Not that I doubt your love for me or anything. For us to stay as close as we were I would have had to have backed off of Sasuke. He would have found you harder to ignore if you were the only one who pursued him so closely. Who knows maybe then you could have got him to stay. Maybe he'd be your lover now and not me." Ino postulated.
"I suppose you're right that there's no telling what might have happened had I not done what I did. I should just be happy it worked out so well for us in the end." Sakura said showing her content.
"Good, cause I know that if all that stuff had happened to me I'd probably have killed myself by now." Ino said quite jokingly despite the fact she was completely serious.
"In that case I'm glad I was so stupid back then. I'd rather have a hot lover than a dead best friend." Sakura replied in much the same manner, lightly though on a grave matter.
Ino allowed the conversation to quiet. She heard something in the distance. She turned to Sakura and that girl nodded at once. It was the sounds of battle they heard. The girls decided to run up the riverbank in the direction of the sound.
The first sight that graced Ino's eyes was that of Choji who had expanded his near entire body to gigantic proportions and was attempting to crush his opponent. Getting closer Ino saw that her teammate was fighting the Cloud ninja Akihiko. What's more, only shortly ahead of them Kakashi was engaged in battle; his opponents were the barrier master Teruo and the target of Ino's infinite rage, Azami.
Ino's comrades were too tied up in their fights to notice her arrival. When she knew she was in range she opted to make her presence heard, she addressed Kakashi, "Hey, Kakashi-sensei, would you mind if I took one of those two of your hands?"
All at once all eyes turned to face Ino and Sakura; Choji was first to speak, calling out enthusiastically, "You two are alive! That's too good to be true!"
Kakashi also had a beaming smile as he saw his young student and her friend were safe, he said with noticeable relief in his expression, "When we didn't find your bodies right away I figured this might be the case. I'm happy to see the two of you are safe."
"So, what happened on your end, sensei?" Sakura asked curiously, wanting to be filled in.
"After I saw you two fall I took my first opportunity to grab Choji and made a break for it. As soon as we had recovered fully from the battle we began to search for you in the river. And as it was a short time ago we crossed paths with the enemy once more." Kakashi explained in a straightforward manner.
The enemy ninja didn't give Ino and Sakura much more time to catch up with their comrades; Akihiko began assaulting Choji with his sword once more and Teruo and Kakashi began to stare one another down before resuming their fierce battle. Azami's eyes immediately went to Ino who walked toward her cousin with rage in her heart. Sakura followed.
"Well, well, Ino seems you didn't die after all. Quite frankly I'm glad; I never truly desired to hurt you. In fact I felt pretty bad pushing you off that cliff." Azami spoke in a tone that was somewhere between mocking and completely apathetic.
"You bitch! You've hurt Ino so much! For that I will never, ever forgive you!" Sakura said with unchecked fury, Ino had never seen the girl so mad; it made her feel proud.
"Oh my. I actually kinda figured my dear cousin might survive that little fall. You on the other hand, I had thought certain to die. Tell me, how is it you managed to pull through, girl?" Azami said not flinching at Sakura's shouts.
"I fought with everything I had to make sure Sakura lived!" Ino shouted the response; she was just as pissed off as your lover.
"Aww, how… completely fucking disgusting. Does this pathetic little girl honestly mean that much to you, kid?" Azami spoke in a highly ridiculing manner.
"Sakura means more than me than anything in this world. I would do anything to make sure she is safe." Ino said completely forthright, without a single moment of hesitation.
"Listen to that, Sakura. Look how totally in love with you my sick freak of a cousin is. Don't you find her disgusting little lesbian crush on you so completely nauseating?" Azami said in derision, giving off a short haughty laugh.
"No. Ino's love is beautiful. That's why I'm going to strive to love her every bit as much as she does me." Sakura fought back with indignation.
"What?! What the hell does that mean?! You two aren't seriously…? You didn't actually…? I was only…" Azami was completely stunned by this revelation and found it hard to articulate her words.
"After that little near-death experience you put us through me and Sakura finally decided to open up to each other. Last night we made the choice to share our hearts and our bodies with one another. You see, Azami, you can't tease me about my love for Sakura anymore, because it's stronger than any emotion you'll ever feel." Ino said with powerful emotion, never wavering in her delivery.
"Oh my fucking god! I can't believe it. I always thought you and me were the same, Ino. But in reality you're a fucking lesbo. You're some sick, disgusting freak of fucking nature. I can't believe someone like you is my cousin…" Azami cringed as she spoke in pure disgust.
"Now that's a sentiment we share, Azami. With every word you've ever said to me, you've tried to ruin my life. If that wasn't enough you hurt and attempted to kill the girl I love. For you I have nothing but the promise of death!" Ino yelled fiercely as she pulled two kunai from her ninja toll pouch and charged forth to battle her cousin.
Ino exploded into a furious combo attack with her kunai at speeds even she didn't know she could reach. Azami was staggering as she tried to keep up with incessant movements of Ino's steel knives. Even with her own speed and skill and her ANBU sword there was no way Azami could avoid all of her cousin's fury. It wasn't long before Azami suffered through her first cut.
Azami took a large backstop to recover herself, she spoke between placed breaths, "Not bad, kid. Your hatred seems to be a powerful weapon. Means I gotta stay on my toes. Still this is a losing fight for you, Ino. I know you and I know your clan. The Yamanaka don't have any real combat skills. You can't stand up to a ninja of my skill no matter how much you hate me."
"She's right, Ino. I'm better at physical combat than you are. I'll take care of her for you." Sakura suggested in a methodical tone.
"No you won't, Sakura. This is my fight, there ain't a fucking chance in hell I'm standing this one out. I'm not going to be satisfied until this pathetic little bitch has stopped breathing for good." Ino shot down her girlfriend's suggestion with a cruel laugh.
"In that case let's fight her together. I want to make her die as well." Sakura said callously, returned the cold laugh with her own as she closed in on Azami.
"Fine by me, love. That's what I had intended in the first place." Ino offered her lover a smile before jumping into battle once more.
Ino continued with her relentless quick combos, forcing Azami to be further disoriented. Then, finding her way to Azami's back, Sakura delivered a kick with crushing force. Azami flew several feet forward but was stopped by another kick from Ino. She fell to her knees.
Azami got back up before the next attack came. She rushed forward to slash Ino with her sword but the girl dodged. Azami made several mer desperate strikes; each time she cut through nothing but air. Another slash was made and this time Ino deflected it with her kunai. While Azami recoiled Ino launched her two kunai into her cousin's body causing her to reel in pain.
This time Azami had no opportunity to continue her offensive. Sakura had appeared behind her once more an had put her into a fierce hold. No escape was possible under Sakura's immense strength. Ino ran forward and began to punch Azami's stomach repeatedly.
Azami gave off agonizing cries as her cousin continued to barrage her stomach with fists. Soon she was hacking up blood and had all together stopped struggling against Sakura's grasp. She seemed too weak to even fight anymore.
"P-please... s-stop. Ino, please... I-I never meant to hurt you..." Azami began to speak in a rasped voice, between punches.
"How in the fucking hell can you possibly still say that to me?!" Ino shouted before kicking Azami hard out of Sakura's hold and onto the floor.
"You reminded me of myself... I didn't want to see you end up hurt like I did." Azami said as she writhed in pain on the floor.
"Oh what, is this about that fucking dead girlfriend of yours? Do you think I even care about your stupid past?" Ino shouted in high contempt.
"Oh? So you know something about it then? No one but me knows the whole story though. I wanted to help you Ino, believe me. I've never told anyone before but I'll tell you." Azami had fear in her eyes and clearly recognized her defeat.
"What point does your god damn story have to me when in a few seconds I'm going to slit your fucking throat?" Ino asked in a pointed way drawing closer to Azami with a kunai drawn.
"I don't care if you kill me, Ino. You probably deserve to. Just listen to me before that." Azami near pleaded.
"Fine, If that's your death wish. Just make it brief cause I honestly don't give a shit about whatever you're going to say." Ino said in a patronizing way, making sure to laugh hard in her cousin's pathetic face.
"Kotone was the best friend I ever had. It wasn't like you and Sakura though, neither of us had romance on the mind. The idea of being with a girl, even with Kotone still seems so foreign to me. When I met you I never imagined you were like that. If I had known I probably would have realized the path I was pushing you down would be impossible for you." Azami spoke in an almost apologetic way, she sounded quite broken.
"I get it already. Now hurry up and get your damn story out so I can fucking kill you!" Ino commanded feeling sick already.
"When I was a child I was shy and not really popular. I didn't have too many friends. Kotone was the most popular and beautiful girl in our whole class though and she decided one day to be my best friend. We quickly became very close. When we graduated to being full-fledged ninja we were assigned to the same team." Azami started her story in an even tone, it was clear she had tried to block out these memories for some time. She seemed to regard them with nostalgia. Ino just listened and rolled her eyes in contempt.
"The third member of our squad was a boy named Hideo. He was strong and noble, smart, focused, an excellent shinobi and an excellent man. I quickly developed a huge crush on him. It was overwhelming but I kept it hidden from everyone, especially from Kotone and Hideo himself. Then one day Kotone told me that she was starting to like Hideo herself. I was completely crushed." Azami continued to talk, speaking with reverence of her former love. Even as she paused, Ino didn't say anything, she didn't want to prolong Azami's ridiculous story any longer than necessary.
"I had a choice then. I had to choose between them. Between my friendship with Kotone and my chance at love with Hideo. In the end I chose the first option; Kotone was my best friend. She was the only close friend I ever had. I could suppress and eventually forget my feelings for Hideo; there was no getting over loosing Kotone. On top of that I knew that if I ever had to compete with Kotone I'd loose. She was better than me in every way I thought. I let her have Hideo without ever letting her know I was even interested." Azami seemed to curse herself under her breath.
"Then it happened. We were on a mission. We were ambushed. The enemy made itself known to us by killing our sensei. It was just the three of us against the enemy ninja squad. I was scared. I was terrified. Kotone could see how weak I was. She distracted the enemy and told me to run away. Like I always did, I listened to her. I didn't run very far. I realized I couldn't just leave her and Hideo behind. I went back. I was still too scared. I hid my presence and decided to just watch." Ino continued to act rudely impatient while Azami told her story.
"He protected her. Me and Kotone were just genin then but he was a chunin. He was stronger than us. He was determined to protect her. He fought hard, he killed one of the enemies and gravely injured another. I thought for awhile my brave, strong Hideko was actually going to take em all out by himself. Then he died. An enemy caught him off guard and thrust a sword straight through him. Kotone rushed forward to help her beloved only to find herself on the end of the same sword. They died, smiling, in each others arms. I had never been more jealous of Kotone than I was that day." Azami spoke with a desperate longing.
"Big fucking deal. Don't you see it's your own damn fault? If you had stood up and fought your ass off, maybe at lest one of them would be here today. Instead you ran away like some pussy little coward. You're pathetic Azami, absolutely fucking pathetic." Ino said coarsely, Azami quivered at her words.
"I know, Ino. I know. Believe me ever since that day I've hated myself. I've blamed myself for their deaths. I'm such a coward I couldn't even end it all myself though. I decided I wanted to just go somewhere to just die. I would have left Konoha immediately, I knew from the start I never had a chance of living a normal life with a normal family like yours, but then I met you. I saw myself in you. I thought I could help. I could guide you. I could show you how to avoid my pain, so that if you were ever in the same situation as me and Kotone you'd end up dieing happy and loved rather than living alone in complete misery. I never wanted to cause you pain."Azami said in a miserable voice, full of self loathing and doubt, and emotion that had been bottled up for far too long.
"You know what Azami?! If you had told me all this crap five years ago, no, if you had told me even two days ago, I'd have ran up to you and hugged you told you shit like 'I'm sorry,' 'thank you,' or "I'll be there for you.' But not after what you did yesterday. There are no fucking words you can say in this whole god damn universe that can make me forgive you for what you did to Sakura yesterday!" Ino said in choleric temper, Azami was visibly shaking.
"I still didn't understand. I saw that you hadn't followed my advice. I saw that you still had reverence for Sakura. I wanted to show you firsthand the truth that I had seen back then. I wanted to show you that this world isn't one filled with love and happiness. It's filled with nothing but sadness, regret, pain and misery. This world is a horrible, horrible place, Ino, I just wanted you to know."Azami pleaded miserably, beyond scared now.
Ino took several steps forward. She held her kunai tightly. She bent down to her knees on the ground so that her and Azami had perfect eye contact. Ino then spoke, a cruel unforgiving certainty in her voice, "If what you say is true, Azami, if this world really is a horrible place, it is only because it contains horrible people like you!" And with that Ino let her knife find it's way deep into her cousin's chest. Azami Ijiri looked to be relieved as she died.
Ino left her kunai inside Azami as she got back up and turned around. She caught sight of her beloved Sakura who had watched the scene just now. She was crying, she spoke, "I'm proud of you Ino. I'm not sure I could have done that."
"Just goes to show you, sexy girl, it doesn't matter if she's my own cousin, it doesn't matter if she gives me some damn sob story, any bitch foolish enough to make an attempt on the life of my girlfriend get a kunai through her fucking heart." Ino declared proudly. There was no regret or remorse in Ino's eyes as she looked at Azami's corpse.
"God Ino, I don't know whether to be touched... or scared." Sakura said with a nervous laugh.
"Just be mine and you won't have to worry about anything." Ino said in a strong voice.
"No that wouldn't be enough. I got to make sure that if some bitch ever tries to take your life I'm ready to stick a kunai through her fucking heart as well." Sakura said in a light way while continuing to laugh.
"Are you mocking me, Sakura?" Ino said shooting her lover a glare.
"Maybe. But it's just because you're so cute, love." Sakura smiled widely and gave another giggle as she said this.
"Anyways, we should probably go help the others." Ino said turning from Sakura in a pout. Sakura nodded and the two went to go aid Choji and Kakashi who still fought their fights.
Akihito didn't last long when face with Ino and Choji's impressive teamwork, failing to avoid being crushed under Choji's giant body while he was being distracted by the girl. Likewise with Sakura there to break through Teruo's barriers with her shear strength, Kakashi found himself on way to an easy win over the other cloud ninja. Soon the Konoha team had managed a complete victory over their adversaries. They began to talk as they continued on their mission.
"Oh Ino it was horrible! We thought for sure you two had died. You don't know how awesome it is to see you safe and sound." Choji said once again, excitement in his voice.
"Come on, Choji. What's that about? You think I'm so worthless I couldn't even survive a fall like that? Have a little faith in me." Ino said acting just a tad full of herself.
"Hmm, maybe everyone has been underestimating you, Ino, if you're able to survive a fall like that and protect Sakura who has been completely immobilized as well, maybe you aren't getting the credit you deserve as a ninja." Kakashi spoke methodically.
"Don't give her credit sensei. I'm sure it was all just excellent luck on her part that it went so well." Sakura said with an antagonizing laugh that got another glare from Ino.
"It wasn't luck and you know it Sakura. I fight my damnedest to protect the ones I care about most." Ino said in a haughty fashion.
"So you'd fight just as hard to protect me, right?" Choji asked searchingly.
"Uh, no. You don't mean half as much to me as Sakura does." Ino said without hesitation.
"And why the hell's that? We're all friends, right?" Choji asked with a raised tone.
"A number of reasons Choji: I've known her longer, I wouldn't have ever talked to you if we weren't on the same team, and most importantly Sakura's a lot more to me than just a friend." Ino declared in a pointed way.
Choji gave a puzzled expression as if he thought she couldn't be meaning what he thought she did, he said with a shrug,"Yeah I've heard a lot about how close you two were. You should really watch saying stuff like that though Ino, some people might get the wrong impression."
"What do you mean 'the wrong impression?' I was pretty sure what I said was pretty straight forward..." Ino said with a devious look.
"You know, saying she's 'more than just a friend' some people might think you mean you're actually in love with her or something." Choji said with a noted decline in comfort level.
"I am. I do love Sakura. As of last night we're officially a couple." Ino said with a wicked smile. Sakura blushed, Choji was speechless, Kakashi looked as if he wanted to get the hell away from this conversation.
"Are you serious?!" Choji exclaimed in disbelief.
Sakura sighed, she said in a light warm tone, "Yeah, she's serious. And after the devotion she showed me yesterday and again today I'd be crazy to reject her. Besides she won me over in a few other important ways last night as well."
"I think I'm going to run ahead of the group for awhile if you don't mind." said Kakashi as he ran ahead, obviously not wanting to hear about his young student's adverse romantic life. Sakura and Ino laughed.
"Looks like that's the village on the horizon. Seems this mission will soon be history." Ino said contently as she spied the remote ninja village to which they had been headed on the horizon.
"Yup. I for one can't wait until we get there. That is as long as we get a private room together." Sakura said playfully. Ino stopped her mid run and the two began to kiss. Choji decided to go and catch up to Kakashi and allow just the girls to follow behind.
As she kissed Sakura tenderly Ino thought back on her cousin Azami's distant advice to her. Azmai got the gender wrong but part of her words rang true, a lover would be something more useful to Ino than a friend.
A/N: That's it. I really love how this fic turned out. Sure the fighting was lame, and Azami's story was a little dry but Ino's intensity in this chapter just made it all special. It was a fun write. I particularly like Azami's character in this fic. I tried to make her an almost redeemable character in those final scenes, only to have her be completely denied a shred of forgiveness. (How many of you thought for a moment when Azami started telling her story that Ino'd end up sparing her?). Azami had to die. This fic just wouldn't have seemed just were she to live. Anyways tell em your views. Oh yeah, and my next fc should be up some times next week. I STILL do not know what it is going to be. And, I wasn't going to mention it but there's a little poll on my profile about that, vote if you care.