A/N: Wootwoot! The third installment of the KibaxIno trilogy!
The loud sounds of her running feet echoed around her and matched the panicked beating of her heart. She glanced quickly over her shoulder to see how close her pursuer was. Her eyes widened in obvious fright when she saw that he was but a few feet behind her. Almost close enough to tackle.
She turned back 'round, tucking her head down and picking up the pace. Her arm movements growing wilder and wilder. Her eyes were tearing up at the effort, her sides aching and her throat burning. She couldn't get enough air into her lungs.
She turned abruptly down a side hallway, her trained ninja eye spotting the dead end straight ahead. She didn't even have to turn to see if her pursuer was still on her tail, she could feel him.
The hallway was dark all around her, but their was a faint glowing in the distance. Something told she that if she reached the light in the distance, she would be safe.
On and on she ran, but the light always stayed away. Never coming any closer. Frustrated, she wondered if it was moving, running away from her.
When she thought she all hope was gone and was about to give up, she burst into a light filled room.
Inside, she blinked, trying to adjust to the eye-hurting brightness. After a few blinded seconds, she was able to see again. The source of the light came from a bright, white sphere resting in the middle of the room.
"If I touch that, I will forget who I am," She said, quietly to herself. There was a scrambling noise, and she turned around to see what was going on.
"Go ahead and touch it," Her pursuer said.
"I like who I am, I don't want to forget," She said, shaking her head in refusal.
"The only way to forget me, is to forget yourself," He said, stepping closer to her. As he stepped into the room, light bounced off the lens of his sunglasses.
She took a stop back, desperate to put space between him and herself. But as she stepped closer to the ball of light, she found herself forgetting who he was.
"Who are you?" She asked, taking another fearful step backward.
"Shino, the one you killed," He said.
"I didn't killed you," She said, still backing up.
"How do you know that? You can't even remember who I am," He said, a mocking smile on his face.
"If I touch it, you'll leave?" She asked, tentatively.
"If that's you're greatest desire," Shino said.
"Before you leave, will you tell me who I am?" She asked him, forgetting that seconds ago he had been chasing her.
"Touch it," He urged her.
She turned and touched the orb with a shaky hand. The instant her warm palm touched the smooth surface of the sphere there was an explosion of light issued from the ball.
The ball of light shone brightly. With her other hand, she shielded her eyes. It grew brighter and wider, climbing down her arm. Until it surrounded her. She tried to pull her hand away, as the large ball of light, herself inside it, began to float off the ground.
"Yamanaka Ino!" Shino yelled at her, uncharacteristically laughing.
"Who's that?" She whispered, as everything shone brighter and brighter around her, until everything was white.
She closed her eyes, thinking white was such a drab, uninteresting color. When she opened them again she found herself in a field of white flowers.
Ino sat up and looked around her, wondering where she was.
"Hi, big-pretty," A young boy voice said. Ino turned to see a little boy with black hair and crimson eyes.
"I'm not big," Ino said, feeling self-conscious.
"You're a big girl, silly," The boy said, giggling. Ino's face relaxed when she realized he wasn't calling her fat.
"Why are you out here all alone?" She asked him, looking around for parental figures.
"I always come here big-pretty, I like to get away from my mum and dad," He said, his red eyes dancing.
Something was familiar about this boy.
"Sasuke?" Ino asked, hesitantly.
The boy giggled, and put two fingers at the base of his nose, right by the inside points of his eyes. Then he pulled them both down and away, stopping about halfway down his cheeks.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Ino asked.
"It's a clue, big-pretty," He said in a sing-song manner.
"A clue?" She wondered aloud, wrinkling her nose in concentration. What was this boy trying to say, "Can't you just tell me?"
"No," He said, "If I do, you'll kill me."
"I wouldn't kill you," Ino said, smiling at him kindly.
"But you want to. It's you're deepest desire. You want to kill me more than anything. You would rather see me dead, then forget about bug-boy," The boy said, still smiling.
"Bug-boy?" Ino repeated, puzzled.
"You're waking up now," The boy said, smugly, red eyes flashing.
"Ino…Ino!" Somebody kept saying, shaking her.
She opened her eyes and saw a familiar face with two red triangles and brown hair looking down at her.
"Kiba-kun," Ino whispered, smiling at him.
"Are you ok?" He asked, his forehead wrinkled in concern, "You were crying."
Ino put a hand to her cheeks and found that he was speaking the truth, her cheeks were wet from tears.
"The dream," She said softly, sitting up and wiping away the tears.
"Again?" Kiba asked, moving to sit beside her.
She nodded and leaned against him.
They were sitting in a small clearing, where the branches intertwined above them, forming a roof and a natural air conditioning. It was darker and cooler here.
Remembering the coolness of the clearing, Ino shivered in the spring chill and hugged Kiba's coat closer to her. Feeling her shiver, Kiba instinctively wrapped an arm around her small shoulders. Together, Ino and Kiba found their gazes pulled to the small sprouts, thriving happily not too far from them.
True to their word and previous vow, they protected the flower, and saved it's seeds to plant the next year and the next year. Now there were several, instead of the lonely one. They were in better shape than the first, too, taller and with bigger leaves. Ino had been tending to it, using her magical touch to some how make the rare flower even more beautiful.
Though they couldn't see it through the roof of branches, both shinobi knew that the sun was just rising. Another day had passed, of them performing their ninja duties, training until exhaustion, and then falling asleep here in the clearing.
Reminded of training, Ino glanced over her shoulder at the training equipment laying on the other side of the log, which cut the clearing in half.
"We should head back to the village, Tsunade-sama is expecting us," Ino said. Kiba sighed.
"Couldn't we just wait here a little longer. Rest a little bit longer?" Kiba asked.
"And while we're sitting here resting, Itachi is out there getting stronger. Maybe killing another innocent," She said.
"I know," Kiba said grimly, "Let's go."
He stood up, and then reached out a hand to her. She took it, and he pulled her to her feet. Kiba started to leave, but Ino stopped him with a light hand on his shoulder.
When he turned to look at her, she grabbed both his shoulders and pulled him in for a kiss.
"I'm sorry, but we can't give up, you understand, right?" Ino asked when they parted.
"I understand, we need to train and get better," He said, a sly grin on his face, "Keep moving forward, eh?"
Ino returned his smile.
"Yes, keep moving forward," She said.
Together they set off back to the village, taking a different way than they had the day before and the day before that. They tried to vary it as much as they could. Ino and Kiba wanted to keep their clearing a secret.
Both of them were at the clearing often, sleeping there more than at their own homes. But their parents never asked them anymore, always knowing the answer.
"We have to get stronger, for Shino," They'd say.
Ino was surprised at how understanding her father was. She recalled how angry Inoichi had been when he had heard the rumor that Ino had slept with Kiba. She hadn't of course. She still hadn't. A baby would just get in the way of their ultimate mission. To avenge Shino.
"Hey, Ino," Sakura said, nodding at both of them in greeting, "Kiba."
"Hi," Kiba waved.
"Sakura," Ino said, hugging the girl.
"Naruto got back today," Sakura said.
"Really? How exciting," Ino said, smiling at her best friend.
"I know, right?"
Naruto had gone off with Jiraya-sama for a few years to train. His most important mission was to bring Sasuke back.
Ino had considered leaving to train like Naruto had, but she knew that she'd miss her family and friends too much. Plus, Ino and Kiba had never been ones to 'copy' somebody else.
So training in the clearing suited both of them just fine. And Ino was proud to know that they both had improved immensely. Tsunade often paired them up on missions together, all their training allowed them to work as one. They developed their teamwork and jutsu in such a way, that they could fight along-side almost flawlessly.
With much persistence, and lots of puppy-dog eyes, Kiba had even convinced Ino to give up dieting. Looking at her, you could tell. She was still thin, but now she was more healthy. Full of healthy, feminine curves, Ino saw the benefit of eating and exercising as opposed to not eating and not exercising.
"How is he?" Ino asked, suddenly missing him. She hadn't seen him in nearly three years, after all.
"I haven't seen him yet. I'm on my way, in fact," Sakura said, straightening her shirt and smiling at the pair, "So, I'll see you later?"
"Yah, later," Kiba said, as he and Ino waved at Sakura.
"Oh! I almost forgot, Tsunade-sama wants to see you," Sakura called over her shoulder.
"I'll meet you there?" Ino asked, already starting to walk away.
"Yep," Kiba said, walking in the opposite direction.
Ino walked in the direction of her house, she needed a shower. She enjoyed taking showers daily, but then again, who didn't?
She pushed her front door open, letting go of it and letting it swing all the way on it's hinges and hit the wall behind it.
"I'm home!" Ino called to the quiet house.
She hooked her foot behind the door and swung it shut. Ino had pushed it harder than she had meant, and it banged.
Cringing at the noise, Ino danced up the stairs, looking forward to her shower.
About 20 minutes later, Ino emerged from the bathroom, hair clean and hanging around her shoulders wet. She ran to her room, clothed only in a towel. She threw her clothes on quickly and bound down the stairs.
"Ino?" Her mother's voice came from the kitchen.
"Yes, mama?" Ino asked, pausing at the bottom of the stairs.
"Come drink a cup of tea with me, I haven't talked to you properly for so very long," Her mother said, in her serious, grown-up way of talking.
Ino walked into the kitchen, pulling her long blonde hair up into a ponytail, carefully leaving her bangs down. She sat down at the table with her mother, plopping down on a embroidered pillow and grabbing a cup of tea.
"How are things going with you and Kiba?" Her mother asked, taking a sip of her tea.
Ino took a long, deep drink before answering.
"Good," She answered simply, cupping the warm cup in her hands.
"No fights or anything?"
"Why? Do you want us to fight?"
"No, it's just unnatural for you two to always be close and to never fight. Your Father and I fight, surely you know that," Her mother sad, setting her cup down on the low table.
"We do fight, sometimes. But when we start to get on each other's nerves, then we hang out with other people for a while. That way we don't get tired of each other," Ino answered.
"I see. I was just worried about you, Honey," Ino's mother said, suddenly looking very tired and old.
Ino jumped up from her spot and kissed her mother on the cheek.
"I'm doing just fine, Mama. Me and Kiba are just peachy," Ino said, putting her cup in the sink, "But I have to go now, Tsunade called for us."
"She calls for you everyday, doesn't she?" Her mother asked.
"But I feel like something's different today," Ino said, smiling broadly at her mom. Her mom returned the smile.
Ino called 'good-byes' over her shoulder and walked briskly to her and Kiba's meeting place. She thought about her talk with her mother. What had brought that up? People thought they never fought?
She decided to just shrug it off when she arrived at the Hokage's Place. Shizune smiled at Kiba and her warmly and lead them into Tsunade's office.
"I have received reports of Yuri sightings. She's not to far from her, actually," Tsunade said, clasping her hands together.
"But," Tsunade said, noticing Kiba and Ino's eager grins, "You have to bring her back alive. And understand that this opportunity may never show itself again. Don't fail."
Ino and Kiba nodded.
"Farewell, Itachi, next time I see you, I will be stronger. And I will kill you," Ino said. Turning back, she slipped out the hole.