Author's Note: Yet another Naruto/Ino story, simply because I love them so much. Review if you would, flames will be used for cooking ramen and burning my enemies.

Disclaimer: I, KisameHoshigaki257, do not own Naruto. This is good because that means we actually keep getting new manga and anime. This is bad because I don't get to make this cannon. I only own this story, but not those who play in it, I thank the original creator of Naruto for letting me play with his toys, which are very dear to me.

It all started one sunny afternoon at training ground 34. Ino had been training herself hard, trying to improve her taijustu skills against one of the many old logs that had been planted in the ground, her long legs crashing into the wood as her sweat covered body spun and twirled around the training log. She'd been so intent on her training that she'd missed the small, loose rock that was under her foot as she spun, causing her leg to go out from under her and her ankle to twist. She cried out in surprise and pain as she hit the ground, her long blonde hair falling over her beautiful features as she collapsed. Normally, this wouldn't have been a problem, but she'd been restricted from using her chakra for the next month to let herself heal from an injury to her chakra network.

Slowly, she sat up and tenderly probed her ankle with her fingers, whimpering slightly at the pain that flashed through her. "Great," she muttered, shifting so she could lean against the training post. She was tired, sweaty, and now she was hurt with no way to get back to her home on the other side of the village. It was too much, the stress of the last few months of seeming failures and disappointments, and she felt tears well up in her cornflower blue eyes.

For some strange reason, she was suddenly embarrassed at her sweaty, disheveled state. She always took such pride in her appearance, never seeing why she couldn't be pretty and strong. And now it suddenly seemed so funny, so ridiculous, to think she could be both. She might be pretty, beautiful even, but she was never going to be strong. Tears fell down her cheeks as she drew her uninjured left leg up to her chest and rested her forehead on her knee. Fate was so cruel, to let the pink haired little girl she'd saved so many years ago surpass her. "Maybe I should just stick to arranging flowers and give up being a ninja," she whispered, squeezing her eyes shut.

But fate wasn't done with her yet, even as Ino relaxed enough to let herself cry in peace, she was interrupted by the only person people considered more annoying than herself. Naruto Uzumaki, the legendary prankster and dead last of their year at the academy came strolling into her training ground, talking to a dark orange toad perched on his shoulder. "Oi, Ino-san, what are you doing out here?" Naruto called as he made his way over to her.

Ino bit back her tears, determined not to show anyone what she was feeling. "What does it look like I'm doing baka?" she snarled, her blue eyes flashing with emotion. It was something that normally had her teammates cowering in fear, but the loud young man standing in front of her didn't seem to notice. Scratching the back of his head, he looked down at her curiously. "Well, it kinda looks like you're sitting on that cute little ass of yours, Ino-san," he said calmly, causing the toad on his shoulder to cower at the girl's angry gaze. "Um, Boss, I don't think you should have mentioned her ass!" the toad shouted as Ino stood up, ready to hit the obnoxious guy for even daring to mention that part of her. 'Stupid perverts, all they ever see is my ass or tits!' she stormed mentally.

Only to fall when her ankle gave out, crying out in pain as she did. The next thing she knew, she was stopped by Naruto as he grabbed under her arms and pulled upwards, causing her to crash into him as they fell onto his back. Ino grunted as they landed, forcefully realizing that the young man underneath her was made of nothing if not solid muscle. Her ample breasts were crushed against his chest as her legs splayed on either side of his hips. She stared into his eyes as he shook himself free of the effects of their fall, noticing just how blue they were.

For a moment she was about to thank him for saving her when she grew aware of just how intimately they were placed, her body pressing against his and she could feel everything pressing against her. A twitch of something pressing against her made her see red and she shoved herself into a seated position, slamming a punch into Naruto's face. "PERVERT!" She screamed, inadvertently pressing herself against the very thing that had offended her. Her ankle twinged at that moment, causing her to cry out in pain along with the young man underneath her.

"DAMN IT, WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO THAT FOR!" Naruto shouted at her, rubbing his cheek as he glared up at her. Ino felt her nerves fraying by the second, the pain in her ankle and the emotions she'd been feeling just then taking hold of her mind. "WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU PERVERT, FOR MAKING ME FALL ON YOU SO YOU COULD MOLEST ME!" she snarled, tears welling up in her eyes as she tried to force her ankle to let her stand. Naruto glared at her for a moment, the glanced down at where she was sitting, straddling his hips and blushed. Ino felt another twitch underneath her ass, although this was much larger than before, causing her eyes to widen and a crimson blush to spread across her features. Despite what the jealous village girls said, Ino wasn't a slut. In fact, she'd only been kissed twice in her life, and had never even had a serious boyfriend. But she knew enough about male anatomy from her lessons at the academy and various other sources to know what was pressing against her and enough to guess he was slightly larger than average.

All that flashed through her mind in the space of the few seconds before she screamed and launched another fist at Naruto's head. The blonde young man dodged the punch. "What the hell is your problem Ino!" he yelled, grabbing her wrist as she pulled her hand back. "What's my problem? WHAT'S MY PROBLEM? MY PROBLEM IS YOU DRAGGING ME ON TOP OF YOU BECAUSE YOU THINK I'M SOME EMPTY HEADED BIMBO SLUT LIKE EVERYONE ELSE!" she screamed, tears flying from her eyes as she jerked her hand away and punched wildly at him. She felt him wiggling around to dodge her blows, causing the offending appendage to rub through the fabric of his orange and black pants that were pressed against her panties, her short violet skirt ridding up in their struggles.

"WHAT?" Naruto yelled as he grabbed her wrists and refused to let go. "Who told you that?" he asked softly, sitting up slightly and crossing his legs underneath her. Ino felt the front of her skirt ride up further, revealing the black spandex boy-shorts she was wearing underneath. Ino bowed her head, refusing to look at him, refusing to admit who had told her the rumors, who had spread them since three years ago. Tears fell down her cheeks and she felt Naruto shift his grip so that he was holding her wrists with one hand while gently lifting her chin with the other. She could still feel him pressing against her, but she didn't say anything about it.

"Hey, Ino, you still with me?" Naruto whispered, trying to look into her eyes. Ino jerked her head from his gentle hold and looked away. "Ca-can you just take me home please," she asked softly, "I twisted my ankle just before you got here." Naruto looked at her and Ino blushed under his gaze. "Sure, as long as you promise not to hit me again," he said with a grin, rubbing the back of his head while still holding her wrists.

Ino looked at him through teary eyes and nodded. "Okay, I promise not to hit you as long as you don't treat me like some easy slut," she whispered, causing Naruto to nod and let go of her hands. Naruto placed his hands under her legs and set her down gently as he uncrossed his own limbs and eased out from under her. Then he turned around and knelt on the ground right in front her. His head twisted around and he grinned at her foxily. "So Ino, how long has it been since you rode piggy back?" he asked with a laugh, causing Ino to blush as she leaned forwards and wrapped her arms around his neck and her legs around his waist. She gasped and blushed as she felt Naruto place his hands under her ass and stand, letting his hands slide down her thighs a little to hold her safely. She slapped at his head.

"Oi, what was that for?" Naruto yelped as he jerked his head away from her hand. "For grabbing my ass, you promised not to be a pervert!" Ino said hotly, tears welling up in her eyes as she realized that everyone must view her according to the rumors, if this dense guy was treating her like this. "Oi, I was just trying to pick you up, why the hell would I want to grab your ass, you're way too violent!" Naruto said hotly as he started walking, her five foot five body seeming to weigh nothing to him.

Ino blushed hotly and buried her crimson face in his shoulder. She didn't know what was worse, being viewed as a slut or being viewed as unattractive. She spent so much time trying to be pretty that it hurt think someone would consider her ugly. 'I'm sorry sensei, but I don't think I can keep my promise,' she thought to herself, painfully remembering her sensei's last words, asking her to never lose to her rival at ninjutsu or love. It was all her rival's fault anyway.

She felt something land on her head and was startled to hear a voice coming from there. "Hey Boss, I think you might want to apologize before she gets mad again," the voice said, and Ino recognized it as the toad that had been on Naruto's shoulder earlier. Normally she would have freaked at having a frog on her hair, but she was too tired and worn out to bother.

"Eh, why would I need to apologize?" Naruto asked blankly as they exited the training area, adjusting his grip on her legs. Ino heard the toad sigh and heard a wet slapping sound. "Because you just called her ugly, dumbass!" the toad shouted. "Oi, I didn't call Ino ugly, I just said she was too violent," Naruto protested. "That's the point idiot! You don't tell a girl that there's something bad about her, true or not!" the toad shouted and Ino heard another slapping sound, only this time Naruto protested.

They walked silently for several long minutes before Naruto shook her lightly. "Hey Ino, I'm sorry for calling you violent," Naruto said softly, "Honestly, I think you'd be really beautiful if would just calm down some and not let your temper get a hold of you all the time."

Ino's head jerked up, causing the toad on top of her head to yell as it tried to stay on its perch. She didn't know if she should be touched or angry, but after the day she'd been having, she decided that it was better to go with the former emotion. Plus, she could really use someone making her feel like something other than a complete failure. "You, you really think so?" she asked, wondering why she cared about his opinion. But, she realized, he was a far cry from the geeky, dead last student he'd been almost four years ago, she'd felt the difference training with one of the legendary Sannin had done to his body and she'd seen with her own eyes what he'd done to the Ninja that had helped kill her sensei. He was strong, and kind from what she'd heard, and suddenly she found his next words meant more to her than anything else.

Naruto looked back at her, his eyes closed and as he thought. "Well, yeah, I'm mean that you're really beautiful and hot already, but it you didn't get angry all the time you'd probably be the best ever!" he said happily, his closed eyes curving with his grin.

Ino felt herself blush at being called beautiful, at someone finally saying something about that wasn't negative. Even her teammates said she was troublesome. She buried her face into his back as the tears welled up again and muttered a muffled thank you. Naruto laughed as he bounced her lightly. "You're such a spaz, Ino!" he said with a laugh.

Ino jerked her head up, causing the toad to fall with a cry. "Shut up Blondie! You have no room to talk!" she whimpered tearfully, causing him to laugh again. "Well, maybe not, but I still think it's cute," he said cheerfully, causing her to blush harder. They walked on in silence, the toad hopping up to rest on Naruto's shoulder.

"Hey, you wanna grab some ramen?" Naruto asked as they entered the residential area of Konoha. Ino lifted her head off his shoulder and noticed everyone was staring at them, some with rather hostile glares and others with smug looks of superiority. She knew some of those looks were directed at her, but wondered if they were directed towards Naruto because of her or some other reason.

"Um, are you sure, you do know my current reputation right?" Ino asked softly, unsure if this was a trap being played on her by her rival or not. "Eh, what reputation is that?" Naruto asked, giving her a blank look as if she didn't know what she was talking about. Ino blushed hotly, first in anger and then embarrassment as she realized he really didn't have a clue. "I, that is," she started, not meeting his kind gaze, "someone who I used to think was my friend started telling everyone I was a slut, that I'd take anyone who propositioned me the right way!" she hissed.

Naruto's eyes closed in thought as they kept walking. "Well, are you a slut?" he asked cluelessly, causing the toad to slap its forehead and Ino to growl as her face turned a brighter shade of red. "No, god damn it, I'm not!" she hissed. Naruto nodded, ignoring how angry she seemed. "Okay, cool," he said calmly, before turning to look forwards. "What is a slut anyway?" he asked, causing Ino drop her head onto his shoulder with a sigh and the toad to fall to the ground.

"You really are a clueless idiot, aren't you?" Ino asked softly with a groan. "Oi, there's no need to insult me," Naruto grumbled as they ignored the looks sent their way. "Just because I don't know what everything is doesn't mean I'm stupid," he continued, pushing off the ground and landing on one of the many roofs that lined the busy street. Ino looked at the back of his neck and blushed. "Sorry, I didn't mean it like that," she whispered against the blonde hairs, noticing how coarse they were, so different from her silky locks. It was still soft though, where it had brushed her cheek just a moment ago.

"Well, as long as you're sorry, that's okay then," Naruto said happily, his eyes closing with his smile. Ino wondered what in the world could cause him to be so forgiving, but considering Sakura was his teammate she guessed it was only natural. He chased after the pink haired girl for so long and been rejected so many times that it must have just evolved in him to accept when someone got angry with him and forgive everything. Ino suddenly felt horrible for him, people should get mad at others when they were mistreated too much, not just forgive and forget, it wasn't healthy.

They walked on in silence for a long moment, Naruto humming tunelessly and Ino resting her head on his shoulder. "My house is just over here, do you want to stop by and let me treat your ankle?" Naruto asked quietly, as if afraid to break the awkward silence that held them. Ino felt herself falling back into the depression from earlier. "Yeah, sure," she replied, closing her eyes and burying her face in his shoulder.

She felt the fabric under her skin growing wet and prayed her savior wouldn't notice. But it seemed that even an oblivious idiot notices a woman when she cries on his shoulder. She was sobbing by the time he set her down on the roof top and peeled her delicate, bruised hands away from her eyes and knelt between her legs, giving her a worried look that wrenched her heart. "Ino, are you okay, did I hurt you?" Naruto asked, his voice growing tight with worry. Ino shook her head, her long hair snapping with the force of her movements.

Ino wasn't sure why she did what she did, but she grabbed his stupid black and orange jacket that made him look so big and strong and pulled herself against him, crying her heart out.

She heard Naruto mumbling to himself, trying to figure out what to do, before his strong arms wrapped around her and held her. "H-how can you b-be so n-nice t-t-to me?" she asked brokenly, sobs wracking her body. "I hardly know you, I've been nothing but mean when I'm around you, all my other so called friends avoid me now," she sobbed, her light makeup running with her tears. It was probably staining his clothes. "Even the person I thought was my best friend tells everyone I'm a slut!" she cried, tears falling harder as Naruto held her close.

She felt Naruto stiffen, and froze herself. Ino couldn't believe she'd let that slip out. She was so stupid, now he'd leave her after bawling her out for daring to say anything bad about his beloved Sakura. She felt him pull back and she sobbed even harder. She should just end it anyway, there was never a chance of someone liking and respecting her ever again, even someone as dense as Naruto. Sure he was an idiot, but it would have been nice to have him be her idiot. To have the same level of blind devotion from someone that Sakura seemed to get from everyone.

Then she felt Naruto's large, gentle, strong had pulling her face up and his dark blue eyes stared deep into her own pale blue orbs. He was silent, and Ino felt herself crumbling even more, knowing he was seeing her as ugly, horrible Ino that no one liked, who was only good for laying on her back and spreading her legs, who could only get missions done and receive promotions because she was a good lay and had big breasts. It didn't matter that the number of guys she'd slept with could be counted with one finger, or that the number of times was the same. It had been foolish and stupid and she'd regretted it almost from the moment it happened, but Sakura still used it against her because it had been with a man the pink haired girl had wanted in a passing fancy, and Sakura couldn't take anyone beating her at anything.

Then Naruto smiled at her, his eyes closing in that strange way of his, before he collapsed on the ground and pulled her into his lap and another hug. "I'm so sorry Ino," he whispered and she felt something wet splash against her and knew that he was crying too, despite the fact his smile was still in place. It struck her then, how fake that last smile had been, how each smile had just a hint of something hidden in it and realized that it was his mask, that he was just as hurt as her, just as lost. But there was something painfully real there that said at least a part of him had been happy to be with her.

Something stirred in her, something she'd thought she'd locked away when a lost little girl with pink hair had thrown Ino's gift back in her face and declared they were rivals, tossing away everything they had over some boy. The desire to help one last lost soul before hers was completely erased by the girl who'd destroyed her world. "N-Naruto, w-what's wrong?" she whispered through her own tears, clinging to him and ignoring the throbbing in her ankle, ignoring the swelling and pain in her limb for the one in their hearts.

Naruto was silent as he cried, and it broke Ino's heart to think of what would force him to learn to cry without a sound. "I-I guess we were both wrong about her," Naruto said softly as he turned to bury his head in her neck. She blushed at the intimacy, but her hand moved to the back of his head, tangling her delicate fingers in his coarse hair. "She always rejected my feelings, but I didn't think she'd, that she would actually…," he said, breaking down, his tears soaking her violet shirt. Ino realized just how fragile he was, wondered how he'd been so strong for so long with no one to support him beyond their teacher from the academy.

They were silent, their tears falling like rain, alone, but for each other. Ino felt cleaner as she cried than she had in a very long time. It felt good, to help someone again, to be helped in turn.

"Well well, I didn't think it was that bad with you Ino, but for the two of you to leave each other in tears it must have been truly horrible. And right here on the roofs, you really do have no shame, do you Ino-pig," a perfect, feminine voice said, her tone so friendly it dripped with disdain. "Naruto, if you were that desperate to get laid, I could have at least set you up with someone who you weren't likely to catch something from. So what was the deal Ino, you need a place to stay that badly after your parents kicked you out that you're willing to pay for it with sex, picking the loneliest guy in the village in the hopes he wouldn't turn you out on the street?"

They broke apart in a rush, standing up with Ino leaning on Naruto and favoring her injured ankle. Sakura stood not four feet away, a smirk on her lovely features as she twisted a lock of pink hair around her finger. Ino was about to tear into her rival, when the other woman's words sank in. "What?" she asked dazedly, staring in horror at Sakura. The other woman gave a light laugh as she held up a stack of papers with an official seal on them from the Konoha Hospital. "Well, I went by there to drop off the results from your latest screening, since I figured news like this was best delivered in person, and of course your parents were concerned and insisted that I tell them what was wrong," Sakura said as she slipped the papers in and official envelope and tossed them to Ino.

"So of course I had to tell them what you had, and then I had to explain how you got them all," Sakura continued as she looked up at the clouds, a sympathetic expression on her face that didn't reach her eyes. "Let's just say your mother was heartbroken that her daughter would fall so far, and you Dad disowned you, but you know all that already or else you wouldn't be begging Naruto for a place to stay with that diseased body of yours." Sakura shook her head sadly. "So beautiful, yet so horribly ugly."

Ino pulled out the papers and flipped through them, staring at the least of diseases, some of which she didn't know, but from the others it looked like most were sexually transmitted. "These, these are fake, I don't have these!" Ino cried, tears welling up in her eyes as she crumbled the papers in her fist. She never thought that Sakura would go this far, to attack her with her family, using the rumors she'd spread to isolate Ino away from everyone all over one stupid mistake.

Before she could do anything though, Naruto leapt to her defense and spat at Sakura's feet. She quivered at the pure rage that was coming off of the big blonde man at her side, watched as he seemed to glow with killing intent. He was so different from that little loudmouth from so long ago. "How dare you," he growled, eyes flashing, "HOW DARE YOU, SAKURA!" His roar nearly deafened her as he let her slip off his arm and charged the pink haired woman.

For a breathless moment, Ino thought she was going to hit the ground, only to be lifted into the air bridal-style by another Naruto who appeared behind her with a pop. She hadn't even seen the handsigns for his shadow clone justu. But she was too distracted by Naruto's fist passing within an inch of Sakura's head as the woman twitched to the side in fear. What followed was a dance of brutality surpassed only by its beauty.

Sakura's fist blew craters and destroyed at least on building before the two were in the air, slashing with kunai and slamming their limbs into each other with enough force to shatter bones. Ino heard Sakura scream in rage as she drove her fist into Naruto's chest, screaming how she was only trying to do what was best for the blonde man, how she was trying to protect him from making a serious mistake. Naruto's answering roar sounded almost demonic as he caught her blow with his hand and broke her arm, taunting her with her constant rejections of him, her lies about all the other girls when he started to show the slightest interest in someone else.

Blood fell like rain drops from the both of them, and Ino thought it could have been beautiful if it weren't so personal. Tears ran with the blood as she felt herself crushed beneath the weight of not having a home to return too, to spending the rest of her life being viewed as a horrible, diseased woman who'd sleep with anything. Then she saw Sakura go flying and Naruto landing next to her, breathing hard and bloody. Watched as he made several clones and sent them after the pink haired woman before asking if she was alright and leading the way to his apartment.

Ino thought that it was nice to be held by him, even if it was just a clone, and wish it was him holding her instead. The lying papers were clenched in her fist, and a soon as she could she'd go to Tsunade herself and get another check up just to prove they were lies. Slowly, almost afraid that the enraged man before her would rip apart the next thing to touch him, she reached out and grasped his hand. She smiled as he looked at her, confused, and tightened her grip. "Thank you, Naruto, no one has stood up for me for a very long time," she said softly, giving him a grateful look.

Naruto gave her a cheesy grin as he blushed and scratched the back of his neck. "You don't have to thank me Ino, it's not really a big deal," he replied. Ino clenched his hand tightly and forced him to look in her eyes. "You're wrong Naruto, it's a very big deal, especially to me. About three months after Asuma-sensei's death, everyone started shutting me out. They left me behind like I was just some shallow pretty girl who should quit playing ninja, all because I couldn't save my teacher. When Sakura started spreading rumors about me, no one spoke up against them, no one had my back, not even my teammates," she said earnestly, climbing out of his shadow clone's arms and forcing him to hold her instead.

"You don't know the number of guys I've had to fight off because they thought I was a slut, or the number who said they did me and I was such a freak, wanting so many weird things that people won't even look at me without disdain," she whimpered, burying her face in his strong chest. Tears welled up in her eyes. "Everyone thinks I'm a freak, that I'm some sort of insane sex pervert who will do anything! You're the only one who doesn't look at me like that, who actually stood up for me!" she cried, clutching him as she sobbed, letting everything out. Ino knew she was making her savior uncomfortable as they traveled, and that he sent the clone that had been carrying her off somewhere.

She cried for a good five minutes before he jostled her in his arms. "Ino, hey, we're at my place so let's see if we can't fix up that ankle of yours," he said, adjusting his bridal-style grip on her body as he crossed the threshold into his home. Ino pulled out of his chest enough so she could look at his home, wondering where she would stay since her parents had kicked her out. Sakura could have been lying, but Ino knew the pink haired bitch well enough to seriously doubt it. 'I wonder if Naruto would let me stay here in exchange for helping with the rent and house work.' She thought, looking at the incredible mess that covered everything. 'Maybe he'll settle for just the housework.'

She watched as Naruto cleaned off one of the sofa cushions with his foot, knocking empty ramen cups, scrolls, and various weapons to the floor before setting her down gently and sitting on the coffee table in front of the sofa. "Well, let's take a look at that ankle," he said, pulling her sandal off and running his large hands over her delicate foot. Ino bit her lip, at first to keep from hissing with pain, and then to stop the giggles as his thumb traced the arch of her foot. He kept running his hands from her toes up to her calves and back again. She watched as his hands started to glow with blue chakra and the pain receded.

Naruto looked up at her gasp, grinning at her. "I bet you didn't know I could do that," he said with a laugh. The swelling went down, then the pain was gone and Ino knew her ankle was completely healed. It was still tender though and that meant she'd have to take it easy for a few days. But it was healed! She threw herself against Naruto and wrapped her arms around him, burying her face in the crook of his neck and shoulders whispering her thanks over and over.

She felt him rub her back with one hand and balance her with the other on her shapely hip. "You're welcome Ino," he said happily, "But it wasn't really that big of a deal." She squeezed tighter and decided right then and there to get it through his thick skull that it was a big deal. Everything that he did was a big deal, helping everyone without a second thought.

Suddenly, he shuddered in her grasp and she pulled back, a worried expression on her delicate features. Naruto gave her a sad look, adjusting his grip on her so that his arms were wrapped loosely around the small of her back. "Shadow clone," he said simply. At her confused look, he elaborated. "I get their memories when they dispel, the one I sent you your place just confirmed what Sakura said earlier. I'm so sorry, Ino."

Even though she'd been prepared for it, the words still struck her like a fist in her gut. She didn't have a home. Her parents trusted her rival more than they trusted her. She was all alone except for the faint hope that the man in front of her might show just a little more kindness that she really didn't deserve at this point. Her body sagged as everything sunk in, the loneliness and depression and hopelessness. She should just give up being a ninja, or a wife, or a mother, or any of her other dreams that she'd had since she was a little girl because none of them would ever becoming true now. Her reputation was gone, her skills were weak at best, and she didn't have a home anymore.

It was almost enough to make her want to die.

"Ino, I know you're probably the farthest thing from okay right now, but you can stay here until something better comes along. If you want to."

Naruto's voice cut through everything, all the darkness, the hopelessness, the loneliness. In that moment she knew she'd give anything to take that hope, do everything all those bastards accused her of wanting to do with them if it meant Naruto would accept her. Her head shot up, blonde hair whipping around as if in a storm as she gazed at him with tear filled eyes. She slid her arms so they were wrapped around his neck and gave him a watery, grateful smile. "I-I would like that very much, Naruto-kun," she said softly, her heart pounding wildly as his smile lit up the room.

"Awesome!" he said happily, before blushing and looking around his tiny apartment. "Well, it's not much, but you're welcome here as long as you want to be," he said, before setting her down on the couch and flying about in an attempt to clean up. Ino stood slowly, grabbing him as he flew past in an orange and black blur. He looked up at her curiously, his eyes closing as he thought. "Naruto, please, you're being so nice to me, at least let me take care of the housework for now, in return for you letting me stay here," she said softly, but with enough of an edge to her voice that he wouldn't argue. She watched as he opened his mouth to protest, but the part of her that was so grateful to him wouldn't let it happen. So she did the only thing she could think of to shut him up.

She kissed him. On the lips.

It didn't last more than a few seconds, but it did the job wonderfully. She had to fight back the fit of giggles that almost erupted at the sight of his dazed face, with its too cute dreamy expression. "Now, I'm not going to take no for an answer. If you want to help, then you can go sneak into my former home and bring me some clothes. I'll have this place cleaned up by the time you get back here," she said as she guided him to the door and pushed him out. "And don't forget my underwear, it's in the top draw of my dresser!" she said, giving him a sexy smile as she winked the eye not covered by her hair.

She laughed, sounding like silver bells, as she watched him blush and shut the door before he could protest. Turning around, she surveyed the room, noting the small kitchen which was attached to the living room. Then there was the bathroom, which was so tiny that it only had a shower stall instead of a tub. Lastly was the bedroom, also small, with a king size bed that ate up most of the room. It wasn't what she was used too, and boy was it a mess, but it would do. Bending over, she picked up a pair of green boxers with orange frogs and tried to bite back another laugh.

There were worse things in life than having to clean up after one's hero, especially when he was so big and handsome.

She was about two hours into the job, with several loads of laundry running in the washers three floors below, when Naruto returned, along with six shadow clones of himself, lugging in several plastic bags. Ino shook her head and decided she'd teach him how to treat her clothes properly some other time. At least he was trying. Plus, the stunned look on his face as she stirred a pot of ramen on the stove was cute enough to distract her temper. It took another three hours to finish the laundry, clean up from dinner, and pack her clothing away, along with the pleasure of Naruto blushing at her tiny black and violet thongs, before they had to deal with sleeping arrangements.

Naruto hadn't realized what it meant to only have one bed in the apartment until Ino finished putting the clean sheets on the bed. He'd insisted on taking the couch and letting her have the bed, but Ino wouldn't hear it. "I'm not letting the man who spent the entire day rescuing me sleep on the couch!" she said fiercely, her cornflower blue eyes blazing as she backed him against the wall. "Now, either I take the couch," she started, watching as he protested again, "Or I'm sharing that bed with you, your choice."

Naruto hadn't been happy about that, he was too noble to let a woman sleep on his couch. The inevitable occurred. Ino smirked as she slipped into her small violet nightie that showed off her wondrous figure. "Okay Naruto, you can come in now!" she called happily, glancing at the mirror in the corner, loving how the short night gown showed off her cute butt. Naruto came in, wearing a pair of boxers and a tee-shirt, in his sexy-no-justu form. It had been the only way he'd agree to share the bed, and Ino had to admit the tall, leggy blonde woman standing sheepishly across from her was almost her equal in beauty. Really cute, especially with the whisker marks on her cheeks, if she'd been a lesbian she'd have jumped the girl in a second.

"Are you sure you can hold that all night long," Ino asked as she climbed in the bed, making sure to show off her body as much as she could. She grinned to herself as Naruto blushed at the sight of the violet butterfly thong she was wearing. Her blonde savior climbed in on the other side of the bed, turning off the lights as he did so. Ino giggled at the small 'meep' that came from her hero as she curled around the now female Naruto. "Thank you so much for this, Naruto-kun," Ino whispered as she laid her head on the soft chest beside her. "Oh, um, your very welcome, Ino-chan," Naruto replied, her voice so cute and sexy to Ino's ears, "Night."

"Good night, Naruto," She whispered, smiling for what felt like the first time in forever.

'Sweet dreams, my hero.'