Disclaimer: I do not own the anime/manga naruto or any of the characters from the anime/manga mentioned in this fanfiction.

^ That's the only time I'm going to say that for this story but it applies for all of the chapters, okay? ;)

I posted most of these chapters a long time ago but I'm now going through and editing them; just grammer/spelling for this chapter but I might twist the plot a bit in later chapters where I think it's appropriate. Anyway I'll mark the chapters I've edited in this author note and at the bottom so you can all see where I've got up to. ;)
Otherwise - please read and enjoy! :D


chapter one:

The Lesson.

Ino sat on her bed, looking out of the window. Tonight her parents were going to be out on a mission so she would have to run the shop all by herself. Not that she minded that too much; she was used to working in the shop and knew she could handle it. Just…she didn't like being alone. Sakura was going to stay and help Tsunade with her paperwork - so no help from there. Hinata had been asked by Naruto to train with him since Sakura couldn't - and because that was a special thing for her Ino couldn't think of asking her to help out. Tenten was going out 'somewhere' although they all knew that she was going to see Neji - so she couldn't really ask her either. None of the boys would want to help in a flower shop - plus they wouldn't know what to do. Therefore she didn't have anyone who she could ask to come round and help her.

She sighed and jumped off the bed when she saw the time. She was supposed to have a mission today although she didn't know what it was. Apparently Kurenai would brief them (Shikamaru, Chouji and her) when they met up this morning. Kourenai had sort-of taken over since Asuma had died; that still hurt.

She started at a jog and managed to retain it until she reached the designated meeting point, by the gates. Shikamaru and Kourenai were already there and she could see Chouji coming along with a bag of chips as she slowed to a walk a few paces away from them.
'Hi guys!' She said brightly, flashing a smile as Chouji caught up.

'Yes - hey Ino, Chouji.' Kourenai greeted.

'So what's our mission today?' Ino asked, hoping that it wouldn't take too long. After all, she had to get back to the shop by six - and that was at the latest.

'Well…' Kourenai started and then outlaid what they had to do. Apparently they had to scout the woods around Konoha. Nothing much but something might have been spotted there by one of the villagers; a bit of black fabric with a red semi-circle on one of the ripped sides. It looked similar to the corner of one of the Akatsuki cloaks so they had been asked to check it out. 'Well you all have your ear-pieces, yes? So if you have any problems, make sure you contact someone. And above all - don't try and face anyone by yourself. Akatsuki are strong S-Class nins, okay? You wouldn't stand a chance and I wouldn't try it.'

They nodded to show that they understood and Kourenai nodded back.
'Good - well then lets get started, shall we? Meet back here at four if nothing's found.'

They nodded again before taking off into the trees - different directions but the same rough area.

Ino sat on a branch now, her legs swinging, and looked around at her surroundings pleasantly. She hadn't seen anything suspicious and she realised that, although tedious, it really was quite a relaxing mission; the forest was very picturesque and a nice place to be. Jumping down to the ground Ino landed gracefully and heard her stomach rumble. She hadn't brought any food because she thought it would be a bother to carry and would weigh her down. Besides, she was on a diet right now. She continued her patrol at a slower pace, walking along the ground instead of travelling through the trees. For a moment she smiled as she thought of Shikamaru and how he was probably doing the same thing right now.

When she thought of him she felt sad. Life seemed so good for him! Not that it was particularly bad for her though; she had a good family, good friends, a good team and an overall 'good' life. But it was so…well, she couldn't quite figure it out. She supposed what she meant was that it was a bit too…normal. That would suit Shikamaru fine, and she knew it. And maybe…was she envious of that? He seemed so happy with his life, so easy-going and relaxed, treating everything with such a laid-back attitude that it was almost catching. But Ino just wasn't like that.

Why? Whats so different between us that I cant be satisfied with my life while he can?

Ino thought about Shikamaru again - what made him different from her? Family…money…strength…friends…oh. Ino finally realised what was different. Shikamaru had Temari. Although they still lived in different villages they would often go to visit each other and always stopped by on a mission when they could. Although Shikamaru had been happy before Ino realised sadly that he was even more content now. So it was because of Temari?

Ino wasn't jealous of Temari. She liked Shikamaru as a friend, almost a brother - and she was glad of anything that made him happy. But she was slightly jealous of him - jealous because he was so happy. More so then herself? She realised that if having Temari was what made him happy, then maybe having a boyfriend would cheer her up.

But the only boy she had ever really fancied was Sasuke; and he was gone with Orichimaru, the snake bastard. But it wasn't as if he hadn't been given a choice. Sasuke had gone of his own free will and that had made her a bit depressed for a while. She was surprised that one of the reasons for the sad state was because she thought that Sasuke had been brave to take his future into his own hands and that she wasn't sure if she would have been able to.

That had been three years ago though and she had got over it. She didn't think of Sasuke much now although she knew Sakura still did. Sakura…her best friend. They had been stupid back then to fight over Sasuke and now Ino saw how small and childish her crush had been - and how deep Sakura held Sasuke in her heart. Ino knew that Sakura always tried to hide the fact that she missed Sasuke but she wasn't very good at lying; she never had been.

Ino had been walking as she thought and hadn't been looking about her properly. Instead her gaze was fixed on the ground, a frown adorning her normally care-free face. She didn't even notice that she was being watched; being watched very carefully and intently. She only noticed that something was up after she had slipped in a puddle of water, landing her on her back, which caused her to snap out of her thoughts rather quickly.

Immediately her senses came back and the hairs on the back of her neck tingled. Turning hurriedly as she got up Ino stared into the trees around her thinking how stupid she must look now - a kunoichi of her age having slipped up on a puddle that was right in the middle of the path, her clothes now wet and stained with mud.

At first she saw nothing but all the same she felt her hand subconsciously rise to her earpiece, deciding to warn the others just in case there was someone there. After all, reporting nothing was better than not reporting something. Just as her hand reached the communications button though she heard the whiz of kunai and instinctively dived out of the way, her team-mates momentarily forgotten.

Ino looked up just in time to see two more kunai coming and managed to dodge them - but as soon as she had she saw two more coming and two after that and two after that. This time she knew she wouldn't be able to dodge and a moment later she found herself pinned to a tree by several kunai through her clothes. It was, she decided, either a miracle or completely planned that she hadn't got hurt. Her clothes were usually so tight-fitting that it would be hard to hit them without hitting her but three kunai had got her skirt pinned to the tree, the only part of her clothing that wasnt clinging to her skin, and four more had her arms pinned, one either side of her wrists, their handles stopping her from moving her arms out and their blades dug in deep into the tree so that she couldn't move. Another unnerving thing about this persons aim, she saw, was that her earpiece was lying on the ground, a kunai lying next to it, having managed to flick it off her ear without hurting her.

'Pretty impressive, Hmm?'

Ino's head jerked up as she heard the voice - a male voice - but he didn't look like a male. In fact he didn't look too dissimilar from herself. Long blonde hair held in a high ponytail, bangs covering the left eye and the rest hanging loose down his back. But she couldn't see how long it was because he was wearing a cloak. A black cloak with red cloud designs on it.


'I got taught that by an Uchiha, Hmm.' The man continued, and carefully came forward until he was standing by the earpiece. Bending down and picking it up he examined it, holding it between his forefinger and thumb. As Ino continued her examination of him, she saw with a start that he seemed to have something like deep slits in his palms.

The metal was uncomfortably rough against her wrists, and Ino looked down and tried to wriggle her hands out, but gave up a moment later as she saw that it wasn't going to work. And without her hands free there was no way of freeing her skirt. Two kunai's pinned the sides of the skirt to the tree. One on the left side, one on the right. And another kunai pinned the middle of the skirt in-between her legs to the tree. That made the movement of her legs very limited as the skirt was tight as it was anyway. So she couldn't try and kick him. She was, in fact, she thought with gritted teeth - completely helpless. But she could still speak.

'What do you want from me, you homo?' She spat out, deciding to act tough and see if it complemented her.

The man in front of her raised his head so that his one visible light blue orb was staring directly at her. Another similarity - he has blue eyes, Ino thought - but she also noted the annoyed look on his face.

'What did you call me?' The distinct lack of anger made her feel even more uneasy and made the voice sound even more menacing. Maybe this wasn't the right track to be taking…

'I called you a homo,' Ino answered anyway, still trying to act brave. After all, since Ive already started, she tried to reason with her uneasy self. There was a pause before he replied, in which he went back to studying the device.

'I could kill you for that, hmm,' he said lazily before lifting the earpiece and fitting it onto his ear. Ino watched him in confusion; what was the point in him wearing it? He couldn't say anything to them because they would know immediately that she was in danger - but maybe that was his plan?

'I want to hear what they're saying, hmm,' the man muttered in reply to Ino's bemused face, gesturing at the earpiece to make sure she understood.

'Why? If you're here then they're not exactly going to report that they've seen you!' Ino snapped, annoyed at her current position.

'Not me, no.'

'There's more than one of you bastards?!' Ino almost screamed, immediately worried for her team members. Still, if she hadn't been off in cuckoo land then chances are she wouldn't have been caught. Not that easily anyway. They would probably stand a better chance - and they would probably be able to use their ear piece too, a convenience that had, unfortunately, been taken away from her.

'You're rather useless for a kunoichi, hmm,' His voice startled her out of her thoughts, the words bringing a slight red flush of anger onto her cheeks. 'That's assuming you are one and didn't just steal this pretty ear piece and weapons pouch.' He finished, almost as an afterthought.

Ino looked up in surprise to see him watching her, head tilted slightly to the right as his one eye studied her carefully. Like he had done with the earpiece.
'Hmph. Like I care what a cross-dresser thinks!' She replied and turned her head away, determined not to look at him although she was itching to see what his reaction would be.

'Oh you're still on about that, are you?' He asked in an almost bored tone which made Ino wonder why the hell she wasn't dead yet. 'Haven't you ever seen a man with long hair before, hmm?' He continued and Ino had to force herself to not respond. Of course she had seen tons of men with long hair but…she didn't know what it was about him. Maybe because it was practically her hairstyle and she was in no-way going to admit that it was a male hairstyle. She was, after all, most definitely feminine herself. 'Well I just find it easier to keep it out of the way in this style, hmm.' He finished and Ino wondered whether he had noticed she was trying to ignore him.

Apparently he had because after a few more awkward moments he walked over to her, stopping only about a foot away.
'What, hmm? Wasn't that a good enough explanation for you?'

Ino realised she must have hit a sore spot when targeting his looks; maybe he got teased about it a lot - or maybe most people didn't have the guts. She would have thought that if he was this touchy about it he would make sure that people knew not to mention it. So again that question…why was she still alive? He didn't have any use for her and she had pissed him off. Did that have no meaning? He was an S-class criminal from the infamous organisation of Akatsuki. These people weren't supposed to have feelings. They were supposed to do everything on order - right? So he must have a use for her or…

Ino's musings were interrupted by a hand roughly grabbing her chin and forcing her to look at him, into his one eye.
'Answer me, hmm. Wasn't that good enough?'

Ino hesitated at the glint in his eye but mentally shrugged; if he wasn't going to kill her then why not annoy him?

'You still look like a gir- mmph!' Ino was cut off as something was pressed over her mouth. Something soft but definitely not gentle. Her eyes widened even more as she realised that it was his mouth and that he was kissing her.

What the hell? She wondered, shocked, but she didn't really have time to think anymore as she concentrated on what he was doing. She had hoped that her first kiss would be sweet and gentle with someone who she truly loved; the complete opposite of what she was actually getting.

The hand that had been gripping Ino's chin had moved back to partly cover her left cheek while his fingers held firmly onto the back of her neck. His other hand was gripping her right elbow, pressing it into the rough bark although she couldn't move it anyway, and his lips were crushing hers so painfully she was afraid of going numb.

As if he had read her thoughts Ino felt a sharp jolt of pain shoot through her as he bit her lip, his body pressing closer and his eye still staring intently into hers. Ino gasped against her will and felt something moist brush past her lips as he took advantage of the situation and slipped his tongue in. Ino's eyes opened still further at that but a moment later she found them closed, a moan managing to escape her even though she had tried to keep it in. This wasn't fun for her but something, her body Ino guessed, argued that it was. That it felt…good??

His tongue was still roaming her mouth but for some reason Ino didn't try to stop it. Until she needed air that is - and then she flinched back a bit, pressing her tongue against his to tell him to get out. Getting the message he played with her a bit more by returning the pressure, doubled, before withdrawing and gently releasing her lips.

Ino gasped for air, not really caring that he didn't get off her to start with. She noticed a moment later though, when her breathing was less frantic, and closed her eyes to try and steady her nerves. She could feel his hot breath fanning her cheek, his hands still positioned as they had been a moment ago. Although his breathing wasn't as erratic as hers it was still rather shallow and Ino momentarily wondered why. Until he started to speak, that is. Then the barely hidden fierceness showed through; fierceness to prove her wrong?

'Do I act like a girl, hmm?' Although her eyes were closed Ino could feel his boring into her and knew he needed an answer so she shook her head. This had gone on far enough and now was the time to stop it and back out if she could.

'Do I feel like a girl, hmm?' He asked, the fierceness still there, although Ino could have sworn that it had decreased minimally. As he asked Ino felt him lean in again and brush his lips against hers, biting her bottom lip as before, just lighter this time. She shook her head again, holding her breath.

'Do I taste like a girl, hmm?' He murmured and Ino realised that nearly all of the fierceness of before had disappeared. He sounded almost tired in comparison as he ran his tongue over where he had bitten her. Again she shook her head - not bothering to point out that she had never tasted a girl before so wouldn't really know.

'Answer me properly, hmm. You're not mute.'

'N-no…' Ino left it hanging, not knowing his name. Not knowing the name of her first kiss. Either he didn't get what she wanted or he didn't want to give that information out because he didn't tell her his name. Instead,

'What - a stutter?!' He asked quietly, mocking her; 'You weren't that shy a moment ago, hmm.' Was he…teasing her? Ino cracked an eye open to see a smirk on his lips; he was!

Ino blinked, staring at the way his lips curled upwards. This was not what she had expected of an S-class criminal, not at all, but then…she was still bowled over from what had just happened. It had happened, right? She was sure of it - he was still up close to her, although not as close as before.

'So what do I look like?' He was back to speaking almost pleasantly and Ino felt some confidence return, although not much.

'A male, yeah,' she replied, giving a very weak smile at the end. He retreated a few steps, dropping his arms back to his sides - although not before, Ino saw, he had disarmed her - the weapons pouch lying on the ground about a foot away from her.

'Good, hmm. You learn quickly.' It had been a lesson - he wasn't fazed at all. Ino didn't really understand.

Then a static noise filled the air and the man moved his hand up to the earpiece to adjust it so the noise didn't hurt his ear so much. He was only a few feet away and Ino found that she could hear what was said. It was Shikamaru speaking.

'Kourenai, Ino?' Ino frowned; what about Chouji? 'Are you Ok? Can you hear me? I've found Chouji and need you to come at once. Near the East gate. He's been wounded quite badly and isn't conscious. I think we need to get him to the hospital but I'll need some help…'

Now Kourenai's voice spoke up, 'What happened to him - do you know? Are there any clues? Do you know where the person who attacked him went?' Ino's throat was dry. Chouji…would he be Ok?

Finito! :)
What did you think? Please review but, more importantly, please keep reading! :D

Also...Ino's house features quite a bit in this story so a while back I drew a plan of what I imagined it being like. A few details aren't accurate (eg. the bathroom's too big) and my labels are messy and hard to read but if you want to see it anyway it's on my devient account;
(spaced out) http :// solus-serpen .devian tart .com

WfCP xxx