Just Like You

Chapter 1

It had been five years since Sasuke-kun had returned. Sakura had surpassed her long ago - snagged Sasuke all for herself. Al the people around her were falling in love an settling down. Shikamaru had married Temari, Choji had found someone of his own, Naruto had found Hinata, Sakura and Sasuke, Tenten and Neji - everyone. All but her. She hadn't found the one guy she though she could share everything with yet. And worse - she was still a virgin at twenty. How was the possible? Simple: she had become an ANBU at fifteen, and engrossed herself into her work, leaving no room for any man. Yes, Sakura had as well, but she had Sasuke to keep her afloat in the real world. Ino had no one. Her parents were constantly fighting, her father in drunken rages, always beating her mother. There was hardly any reason to live. Ino, although it didn't seem like it on the outside, had fallen into a deep state of depression. Soon, her voice and features were dragged through hell, and eventually she stopped caring if everyone knew how she felt. If they did, they never helped anyway. With no one to turn to, she had tried to make a friend out of Sakura again. It had worked, but with Sasuke always around, Ino felt as though she was being watched and couldn't share something personal with the pink haired kunoichi.

I need a phyciatrist, Ino thought to herself as she jumped through the trees with her ANBU teammates. But what wouldn't work, either - she couldn't go to daily, or at least normal, visits because she was constantly gone on missions. Other then Sakura, who was still distant, Ino had no one out there.

But what she wanted most, what kept her up at night more then anything else, was the longing for a male figure like her. One that at least knew what it was like to have no one to turn to. One whose hair she could run her fingers through, one who didn't think her flower arrangements were mediocre - someone who enjoyed art and nature. A guy who wouldn't be afraid to tell her everything he thought - someone who was raw, real. Just like she used to be.

Sighing, Ino realized she would never be able to find a man like that in Konoha - she would have to look elsewhere. "Our mission today leads us closer to the Akatsuki base!" One of her teammates, Misha, told her. She was on his left, and her other male teammate, Yuri, was on his right. Misha's mask resembled the cat, Yuri's the dog, and Ino's the fox. All three of them had been able to choose the mask they wanted, and so Ino chose the fox. Why? Because it was a solitary animal, smart, sly, witty. Because it was able to get out of any situation alive. Ino.

Yuri, always the hyperactive one, shouted out, "We'll be at the leader's throat in no time!" His rugged, unkept, black hair flowed behind him. His hair had always disgusted Ino, but she never made any complaints. There were worse people out there, she supposed.

"Don't underestimate the enemy." Ino answered in her as-of-late voice - a stoic voice that never showed any emotion, expression, or care. From what she had heard about him, Ino had adopted the voice of Uchiha Itachi.

"Ino's right, Yuri. We're not the strongest group out there, you know. But anyway, once we get through this barrier, we'll be right in the fray! And then we'll finally be able to wipe them out for good!" Misha had better-kept hair, but he died it silver for some reason. Or was that his natural color? She wasn't sure. Either way, neither of them were very attractive, and even if they were, she would never consider going out with them. They were pathetic.

Ino sighed, looked down a bit. Her teammates were always so happy...It seemed she was the only uncaring one in the world. The way she had been left alone in the world...What more could one expect?

Shortly, they ran into their barrier. Hiding in the trees, Ino could see the two Akatsuki members were teammates. She couldn't see much of them - most of their features were covered by both the Akatsuki cloak and the coned hait they were wearing. But what she could see of them, was that one had blonde hair and the other seemed to be a monster. She guessed it was a puppet, or shell, of some sort. The two of them stopped, and the blonde one looked up to Yuri and Misha's shared hiding place and said to them, "You can stop pretending now. I can sense your Chakra, un." Bakas! She thought to them, Don't either of you have the common sense to surpress your Chakra? At least hide somewhere different from one another! Damn bakas, you deserve what you get. But when Yuri and Misha jumped down from their hiding place and tried to make themselves look better - whilst looking worse - Ino knew there was no hope. She sweatdropped as she watched the looks on the two Akatsuki members go from 'ready for a fight' to 'this is pathetic.'

Letting her head drop onto the branch she was sitting on with a semi-loud thud, Ino sighed. We're done for. How did those two get into the ANBU anyway? They're pathetic excueses for chuunin, let alone ANBU. Ino watched as Yuri battled the blonde and Misha the monster thing. She waited until both her pathetic teammates were defeated - which wasn't much of a wait - before she revealed her presence to the Akatsuki. She knew, from seeing a bit of their skills, that she wouldn't be able to take on one, let alone both. She would be dead before the minute was over.

Sighing, Ino revealed herself as she jumped in front of the two Akatsuki. "Don't make this too difficult for me, alright? My teammates - they had interest in you. I do not." She sounded very manly - she guessed the Akatsuki thought she was one. Her ANBU outfit was loose on her, and so padded that there was no curviture to her at all. Her voice had changed through depression as well - Sakura had hardly been able to believe it when she first spoke to her again.

The blonde smirked. "And who are you? Judging by the teammates we killed, you're nothing to worry about, un." He revealed his face a little, and she knew it was a boy. Pretty blue eyes, long blonde hair...Ino shook her head, broke herself out of that. You can fantasize later, when you've managed to get away alive.

"I may not be," Ino answered his jeer, "But now that I've seen a bit of your faces and your techniques, I can get better people after you next time." Like Uchiha Sasuke, Ino recalled, remembering that he was ANBU as well. As well as Uzumaki Naruto...Those three had been their own team in ANBU. Curse you, Sakura. I've hardly ever been able to speak to Sasuke-kun. Although she felt nothing for the Uchiha anymore, she still despised the fact that, although she had liked him all those years, she had never been able to get close to him. Sakura had stolen him away from her in a heartbeat.

The blonde seemed disturbed by this. "And just who are you, un?" He shook his head, erasing the thought. "Either way, you're no threat to either of us, nor the Akatsuki. ANBU standards must have dropped, un." Ino just stood there, waiting. She didn't want to fight - didn't feel she had the strength at all. Jeers no longer bothered her - she was an empty shell, feeling nothing, living because she was forced to. Even pain didn't break through the barrier. She doubted there was anything left that would.

The monster spoke. "I don't like all this waiting." And then, from behind, came another tall figure, this one a little taller then the blonde. The figure wrapped one arm around her neck, and used the other to hold a kunai to her throat. "Move, ANBU, even a fraction, and all I have to di is break the surface of your skin - all my weapons are dipped in poison." She gasped. It was the same voice that had come from the monster thing.

"So it was a puppet," she whispered aloud.

"You're smarter then your teammates, aren't you?" With that, the arm bearing the kunai was pulled back, and the last thing she felt was something wooden making contact with the back of her head.


When she opened her eyes, she was hurting everywhere. The back of her head was what was hurting most, and she was laying exactly on the spot where she felt a swell. Moaning at the pain an inability to move, Ino's eyes rolled to the top of her head, and she fell into unconsciousness again.


The second time she awoke, she could hear the two Akatsuki mumuring to each other under their breath. "What do we do with her, un?" Blondie asked.

"I don't know," the one that knocked her out admitted.

"Perhaps we should turn her over to Leader and see what he wants to do with her, un?"

"It may offend him, bringing such a whelp back."

Blondie must've nodded, because he continued on, "Either way, we can't let her escape, un. It'll only cause more trouble for all of us - no matter how weak she is."

"She's in no state to move," the puppeteer told the blondie. "Let alone try and outrun us. I think, if she doesn't die, she'll be with us for a while."

She could hardly process any thoughts, but Ino was able to move her hand up to her face and realize they'd taken her mask off. She tried to move, but everything was so stiff and cramped that she couldn't. She managed to move her head a fraction, however, and found that good enough. She was able to get a better look at the two Akatsuki.

"Do you think she'll die, Sasori-danna?" Blondie asked him. Sasori was the redhead, the one who had hid in the shell and had knocked her out. Ino tried to hold onto this information, but her concept of memory was not with her. When she tried to think back to exactly what had happened, she was overcome with a wave of dizziness and confusion. There was nothing...No memory, no though, no feeling but pain. Had she fallen into an even deeper state of depression through this?

The puppeteer - Oh, what was his name again? - shook his head and answered, "She's suffering from a great state of depression - you can see it all over her face. Fatigue, too - as though she only eats and drinks when she's starving or quenched."

"She has been sitting there for three days. You think she's woken up yet, un?" Ino attempted to move, make a sound, anything to tell them that she had woken from her unconscious slumber. She managed to move her head, but move it too fast, which resulted in a horrible wave of nausea that threatened to take her. She moaned as loud as she could, forced her arms to move up to her head. She couldn't think anything but: ow.

"So, she's up." The redhead said as he looked over to her. The two of them moved over to her, the blonde in her plain of vision, and the redhead behind her.

The blonde, who she could now fully see, had sat down in pretxel position, gently taking her in his arms. She reached an arm up and grabbed at the man's chest area, gasping at the pain and nausea. He seemed to be unaffected and asked her, "What's your name?"

Ino, she thought. She could feel her mouth moving, but words refused to come. She repeated it, this time shouting in her mind, Ino! Ino! Ino! Ino! Ino! Ino! But that was all she could do - think her name. Anything else brought out the nausea.

"Here, Deidara, give her this." The puppeteer handed blondie a cup.

"Drink this," Blondie said gently as he held the cup to her mouth. She drank it quickly and loudly, not caring if she spilled some on herself. She was so thirsty, and there was virtually nothing in the cup. When it emptied, blondie - Deidara, damnit! - took the cup from her and repeated his question.

"I-ino," she finally managed. Her voice was raspy, and she could hardly hear it. "Ino," she repeated, her voice a little louder this time. She thought he hadn't heard, and so began to repeat herself again. "I-i'm - "

"Ssh," Deidara said softly as he held her mouth with his finger. "Ino, you said?" Ino managed the smallest of nods. "That's a lovely name, un. I'm Deidara. That guy over there," Deidara motioned to the puppeteer, "that's Sasori-danna. How're you feeling, un?" She tried to move a little, but failed horrible. With a loud grunt, she allowed herself to fall limp onto Deidara's chest. Deidara looked up and over to Sasori, who had moved to in front of them where she could see him, and back to Ino, beginning, "I'm going to get you washed up. Do you have any objections to that?" Even if she had the nerve to voice her objections, she couldn't. She could feel her voice slowly return, but shook her head instead. Best let them have it their way, she thought, Survival first, accomodations later. Deidara nodded and gently lifted her.

Deidara left Sasori with a nod, brought Ino to another room that resembled a bath. He gently set her in a chair that was beside the tub. She wasn't very observative in her current state, and so everything else in the room was ignore. Carefully watching her, Deidara removed his cloak and cast it to the side. He was very cute in the black outfit underneath, and Ino felt her face get hot. "Don't feel conservative now, alright? I'm doing nothing but washing you. And don't scream at anything you see, un."

Anything I see? Ino repeated through her thoughts, He's mutated in some way...She blushed an even deeper shade of red - something she hadn't done in years - when he stood her up, using his hands to both hold her up and strip her to her unders. He then set her against the chair, and turned to the tub, letting the water run through his fingers. "How's this, un?" He flicked the water at her.

"Too cold," she managed. Her voice was still raspy and her throat ached. It seemed worse whenever she took a breath.

"You like it hot, like I do, un." Deidara observed as he lessened the cool and greatened the heat. He tested the water, then flicked it at her. "How's that?"

"P-perfect." She managed, much to the complaint of her throat.

Deidara nodded, made bubbles with some bubble soap. The bubbles rose about two feet above the higher level. Deidara stopped the water, stoof, and turned his back to her. "You've got a minute to take your garments off and get in the water before I turn back around, un."

Ino quickly took her bra and panties off and entered the wonderfully warm water. She sighed in relaxation as the water loosened her cramped limbs. She told Deidara he could leave, that she had everything covered. But, instead, he looked back to her, nodded, and sat at the chair she had been in. She studied him for a moment, but when he motioned to her, she moved away and grabbed a bar of soap. She wished he would leave, but apparently he was in no obligation to do so. Innerly sighing, she ran the blue bar of soap over her skin, then gently began splashing the water over the suds. It left her feeling sleepier then before, to the point where she could've fallen asleep right there.

She kept herself awake by untying her hair, quickly running a brush through it. When satisfied, she dunked herself under the water completely. She was half tempted to stay under, to drown herself right there and then. Don't be so pathetic, she absconded herslef, Prove to the Akatsuki you're worth considering. Even if you aren't. She stayed under a little longer, indecision keeping her ignorant to the screams and pleas of her lungs. Had it not been for Deidara firmly grabbing her arms and pulling her up, she probably would've forgotten to come up again.

Ino broke the surface, gripping the side of the tub by Deidara, leaning over it a bit. He let her go, beginning, "No suicide attempts, okay?" She looked up to him whilst coughing the last bit of water out of her lungs, nodded. "I'll wash your hair, un." She nodded weakly, and Deidara squeezed shampoo out of bottle, lathered it into her hair. His hands were so gentle...She hardly noticed the presence of two, heavy, cloth-like things feeling around. there was one on each hand, and it seemed they moved of their own accord.

"What are those?" Ino asked in a dreamy, faraway voice.

"Mouths." Deidara answered simply as he put one hand down by her face. The mouth on his hand let its tongue stick out, like a dog's. For some reason, she was only moderately surprised. Deidara took back his hand, continued to wash her hair. After a moment, he held onto her arms, instructed her to dunk her head under. She complied, briefly running her hands through her hair. Deidara pulled her up before she was satisfied. He gently ran some water over and through her hair, making sure all the shampoo was out for her.

Deidara stood, wiping his hands off, and picked up a black towel from the rack. He spread it out wide, told Ino to stand. Blushing, she obliged, only to find he had used the towel to block her from his sight. He alloed her to step into his arms, where he sort of hugged her whilst simultaneously tying the edges of the towel together so they'd stay on her. "Get dressed with the glothes I gave you, un." Deidara instructed her, turning around again. Ino quickly put her unders on, then the clothes he'd supplied for her, noticing how the black pants gave her legs a firmer tone, how it gave her rear a rounder shape. She put on the top next, smiling as she realized how bigger her breasts looked, and how thinner her waist seemed. It was almost with relunctance that she put the Akatsuki cloak over her outfit. She gave Deidara the okay, and he turned back around and brushed her hair for her. She saw stars when he brushed over the swell and grunted, shooting her hands to her head. He calmed her, finishing by tying her hair back for her. Deidara put his cloak back on, walked her out of the bathroom.

"Finally out?" Sasori gruffed as the two of them emerged. Ino tried to fight fown the exhaustion and nausea, but the standing and walking wasn't helping. She swayed, but Deidara held her up, tightly holding her against his own body. "You've developed a soft spot for the girl alread?" Sasori jeered, "You're pathetic."

"I don't have a soft spot for her," Deidara answered, "I'm just trying to be nice, un."

"Whatever. Feed her - she's dying." Aren't we all? She thought glumly as she walked along with Deidara.

Deidara walked slowly with her, allowing her to go at her own pace. He navigated through some doors, down some halls. Ino vaguely wondered if he was purposely going around in circles to confuse her - disuaded her in case she tried to run. Where exactly are we? She asked herself.

Eventually, he led her to a simple room furnished with a refrigerator on the left and a circular table reflecting it on the right. There was a small stove to the refrigerator's left, and a countertop and sink beside that, cupboards hovering above. Deidara sat Ino at the southern end of the table, and went over to the refrigerator, asking, "What do you want, Ino-san? I can cook, if you like, un."

"No, thank you - that won't be nessecary. If you're going to eat, I'll have whatever you're taking." She spoke in the most polite tone she had, but even that had been weighted by depression - she sounded like a bored, careless man.

Deidara nodded, collected some fruit for the both of them. He tossed her one and sat down in front of her, taking a bite out of a peach and asked, "Ino-san, what's wrong with you? I know you're sick and all, but you act and sound so..."

"Depressed?" Ino finished for him. He nodded. "I fell into depression a long time ago. Five years, maybe. But I've had bad luck all my life - my Father was an alcoholic, always coming home drunk, beating and raping my mother. I was subject to the beatings as well, so I stayed away from home as much as possible.

"When I became ANBU, I basically found a way to hide myself from everyone else. I was always off on missions - I had no time for friends. And when I did come home, I was greeted by nothing more then a raging father and a weeping mother. Father would beat me, and I would srawl upstairs and take a shower. That was the only time I could cry. I lived life mechanically, and only for myself. I ate and drank only when it was absolutely nessecary, and soon developed a UTI and anemia. With no one to turn to, and my body slowly dying, depression quickly claimed me."

Ino looked up, expecting criticizim. But Deidara gave none. "My family was killed because I wouldn't join the Akatsuki. I was blamed for it, and shunned. I had no choice but to join, un." Ino studied him. I didn't expect Deidara to have been forced into the Akatsuki, she thought to herself as the bit into the peach she had been given.

"Do you miss them?" Deidara's simple existance mesmerized her.

"I live to keep their rememberance alive," he answered, and Ino wanted to cry. "I live only to remember them - that's my way of avenging their deaths, un." Ino lost it. She tried to rub the tears away in a vain attempt to keep Deidara from seeing. He looked up and saw.

"I wish I had a reason to live," she explained herself. "The Akatsuki are going to kill me, aren't they?"

"I won't let that happen, un."

"I'm a pathetic fighter. I'm nothing to them but a deadweight."

"Don't say that," he was trying to be comforting, but it only made her feel worse.

"You don't understand the weight," she told him as she rubbed her eyes. "It's like having concrete on your shoulders, and you can't move it. I can't even kill myself! There's nothing for me after death, so I live. It's as though you're nothing but a shell - you feel nothing. Not even pain. I hate feeling so fucking pathetic!" She jumped to her feet, throwing the peach down. She forced the tears back, so that they silently fell.

Just as she was about to hit the wall, Deidara grabbed onto the agressive hand and held it close to him. He pulled her close as well, wraped his arms around her. "You're not pathetic," he whispered, and she cried herself to sleep in his arms.


A/n

I like how this is starting out. The other Akatsuki are coming, and there's more drama and romance for sure! Let me know how you feel in wonderful reviews!