Disclaimer:

I don't own Naruto or any of its characters, merchandise, TV rights, ect… (I think you get the point.)


Summery

ONE SHOT – You can never appreciate the true value of something until you almost lose it. (Sasuke/Ino)

Like all of my work this is just something that happened to float through the empty void inside my head. Like it or hate it please R and R as honest opinions are always welcomed, as are random acts of worship.


Lamb: This is just a random idea that floating into my head while I was trying to find where I'd hidden myself.

Muse: Huh?

Dedi: She's lost the cookies, best if you don't ask.

Muse: Right.

Dedi: This fic is dedicated to Drunksonic cus that's who Lamb wants it dedicated to. So Drunksonic this is for you.

Lamb: As always sorry for any bad spelling and if you feel the need to throw things at me please wait until I've hidden behind the sofa kay!?

Muse: On with the fic!


I hate feelin' like this,
I'm so tired of tryin' to fight this,
I'm asleep and all I dream of is waking to You,
Tell me that You will listen,
Your touch is what I'm missin',
And the more I hide I realise I'm slowly losin' You,


Lost and Found

The two friends sat side by side on the bench in the empty hallway. The clawing hospital smell of disinfectant assaults them from all sides, burning the insides of noses and causing stomachs to churn. The harsh glare of the florescent lights sting eyes that are bloodshot and heavily shadowed, from exhaustion.

How long had it been now? Neither of them could tell, it might have been half the night or less that an hour. Sakura shifted on the cold unforgiving metal bench, shuffling closer to her blonde friend and resting her head on her shoulder, a soft sigh falling from her lips. Ino wrapped a comforting arm around the other girl's shoulders and gave a reassuring squeeze, but empty blue eyes never wavered from the stop on the opposite wall. The same spot she had been focusing on since she had first sat down.

It was the waiting that was the worst thing. The waiting and the not knowing and above all the feeling of being helpless to do anything. Time dragged by with an unnatural slowness. The pink haired girl constantly drifting in and out of an uneasy sleep, but Ino remained far to tense for such release. Tension was winding through her body, tying her muscles into knots and had throbbing pain building behind her left eye.

The whole mission had gone sideways, the enemy numbers were far grater than anyone had predicted and a fairly low key recognizance mission had turned into a full on fight for survival. Pupiless blue eyes stared unseeingly at the blank wall. There hadn't been time to think or plan, only to react. They hadn't tried to take prisoners, for in that environment it was a case of kill or be killed. And somehow, somehow all six of then had managed to get through.

She and Sakura had been lucky, Ino thought, very lucky. A few cuts and bruises that had been healed easily almost the moment they had reached Konoha's hospital and the same when for Shikamaru. Naruto had been in a slightly worse case, but his injuries had not been anything the medics couldn't handle. Kiba had been almost out on his feet, dizzy and barley conscious from blood loss, when they finely got him back. Sakura had done her best, but the wound was deep and had severed at least one main artery, but now thankfully he too was now resting comfortably.

And then there was Sasuke, and Ino could not help the sense of uselessness that washed over her. He had been cleared too, just as Sakura and herself had been. The pink haired girl had gone to ask one of the medics if there was any news on Kiba and which room Naruto was in. At which point the Uchiha survivor had grabbed Ino by the arm and dragged her part way down the hall before turning her to face him. His eyes, dark and unreadable as always had bored into her own, as he seemed to be trying to tell her something. But he had simply mouthed silently as those same eyes rolled backwards into his head, and he fell forwards into the blonde's arms.

There was a creak from the door at the far end of the hallway and a drained yet smiling Shizune walked through. The sound of her heels echoing loudly on the tiled floor as she moved swiftly down the corridor towards the place the two girls were sitting. Sakura was immediately on her feet, sea green eyes bright with a combination of hope and fear.

"It's all right," the dark haired young woman said placing a comforting hand on her arm. "Sasuke's going to be fine. The bleeding's been stopped and he's out of danger. In fact he's asking for a visitor."

Shizune's tired smile faded slightly as she held onto Sakura's arm to prevent her bounding down the hall to the room beyond. "I'm sorry Sakura, but he's asking for Ino...maybe a bit later Ok."

The blonde kunoichi hadn't moved when the medic-nin had arrived, had not so much as lifted her head to acknowledge her words of reassurance. Her only movement had been her arm falling from Sakura's shoulders when the other girl leapt to her feet. Slowly she now rose to her feet also, eyes flickering over the faces of the two women. Shizune's heavy with fatigued, but her eyes shinning with triumph. Sakura's pale and drawn, relief clearly evident in her features but also showing resentment.

Ino offered her best friend a shrug of confusion, why Sasuke would be asking for her she didn't know, but the other girl did not respond. Turning she headed for the door through which Shizune had come, and she could feel Sakura's eyes burring into her back with every step she took. Pushing the heavy door, she stepped into dimly lit room beyond and almost walked straight into the Godaime Hokage.

Ino bowed respectfully to the blonde woman, her body moving without conscious instruction from her brain. Warm amber eyes met cool blue orbs, and Tsunade gave the young woman a small smile before leaving Ino alone in the quiet room. Taking a deep calming breath she walked slowly across the wide expanse of floor towards the bed and the person lying upon it.

"Hey." She murmured. It wasn't the best opening Ino had to admit, but her brain was still too strung out to come up with anything better.

"They told me I collapsed in your arms." Ino couldn't quite place the tone of his voice; slightly resigned but also something else she couldn't put her finger on.

"I thought you were just trying to get my attention." She quipped back; it was after all so much easier to hide behind smart-ass comebacks than to actually think.

"Did it work?" Sasuke asked looking up at her through the dark strands of hair that fell boyishly over his forehead, shading seemingly bottomless onyx eyes.

"Nope, I hardly noticed." Ino said flashing him her trade make grin and seated herself carefully on the edge of his bed.

"But you got the medic..." His voice was light, half teasing half serious, but Ino suddenly felt as if she were walking over quicksand and it would only be a matter of time before she lost her footing.

"I was just lucky Lady Tsunade was there." The blonde shrugged off his implication that she had done anything, when in fact she had done just as anyone else would have.

"Ino...there's something I have to say to you." Her reaction was almost instantaneous, but he had been expecting it. So when Ino started to jump to her feet, Sasuke's hand was already round her wrist and he pulled her back down.

"Sasuke, no." She almost yelped, and the panic in her voice was obvious. "You've just undergone a major procedure, not to mention suffered severe blood loss and probably concussion into the bargain. Whatever it is can wait."

"Yamanaka?" He waited until she raised her head to look at him, showing she was listening. "For once in your life would you just sit down and shut up."

Part of Ino wanted to snap that he had no right to order her around like that, but somehow she just found herself nodding her head while she nibbled on her lower lip. Maybe it was simply that she didn't have the energy to fight him right then, she was too tired not just physically but also emotionally. There was no way for the blonde to put into words just how terrified she had been when he had passed out before her eyes.

"Good, now pay attention." On hand came up and raked through his already messy ebony bangs. "I almost lost you today, and I think if I had I wouldn't have been able to stand it. This sort of thing isn't easy for me to say Ino, but coming that close to having you taken away made me realise how much I want, I need you in my life. Do you understand what I'm saying?"

"What about Sakura?" It wasn't a smart thing to say; Ino knew that and didn't need the dark look on Sasuke's face to tell her that.

"What about her?" The words were bitten out as if they left a bitter taste in his mouth.

"You know how she feels about you," Ino said softly, not quite meeting his gaze. "She's in love with-"

"But she's not the one that I care about," Sasuke growled. "Not the way she wants me to. Not the way I care about you."

The blonde kunoichi didn't say anything, but just sat her eyes fixed intently on her hands which were placed folded neatly in her lap. She had half suspected that this was what he had been intending to say when he had pulled her away from Sakura all those hours before, and it was what she wanted after all. Wasn't it? For most of her life Ino had wanted to have Sasuke's affection, so why was it that now she had it her first reaction was fear?

"Ino, please? Say something." Sasuke's voice was pleading, well as close to pleading as he could get and he reached out and covered her hands with his.

"We can't do this." It was a sorrowful whisper, that was almost lost in the large room, but he heard her.

"Why the fuck not!?" He hadn't meant to raise his voice so much, but of all the things she could have said why was it that?

"Sakura…" Ino let her best friend's name fall from her lips but still couldn't lift her head to look at him.

"What's she got to do with anything?" And the evident irritation in his voice was not lost on the blonde who continued to study their joined hands.

"She'll hate me. I've lost her once because…because of you and I can't do that again." Ino tried to keep any hint of blame out of her voice but wasn't sure if she managed it or not. Not that she blamed Sasuke for the ruined friendship, it had been Sakura who had turned her back on the bond that they had shared the Uchiha had just been her reason for doing so.

"What? So you're just going to make yourself miserable, make both of us miserable to keep her happy?" The anger was rising in Sasuke's tone as he tried to keep from screaming at the blonde for her stupidity.

"I…I…" He could hear the unshed tears in her voice but carried on regardless, it wasn't in his nature to give up what he wanted.

"Are you trying to tell me that you don't feel the same way I do?" Icy blue eyes looked up and she stared beseeching into his face. "Do you feel the same way or not, Ino?"

"You know I do." Her voice was a pained whisper and even as Sasuke watched the first tear escaped and rolled slowly over the soft skin of her cheek.

"Then why…" He trailed off as he watched Ino brush away that first only to have it swiftly replaced by another, and then another, and then they were falling think and fast and Sasuke did the only thing he could think of.

Pushing himself up into a half sitting position he snaked his arms around the blonde and pulled her tightly to him. Ino buried her head in his chest and vented her bottled up emotions the only way she could; she sobbed as if her heart was braking. She didn't notice when he lay back down, pulling her with him, or when she curled her legs on the bed so that she could snuggle closer to the warmth of his body. All the while Sasuke murmured soothing nonsense to her while his hand rubbed relaxing circles on her back.

For a long time they stayed that way and Sasuke wondered if they stayed long enough whether the world outside the four walls of his room might fad away. It was that outside world that brought the problems, the whispering voices that told his blonde kunoichi that it was wrong for her to be with him. They shouldn't pay attention to what anyone else thought, but Ino did care, and sometimes he thought that perhaps she cared too much.

Gently he kissed the top of her head, rubbing his cheek against the soft strands loving the way they brushed against his skin like liquid silk. It felt so good to hold her in his arms at last, to feel her warm and vital against him. Sasuke couldn't put into words the fear that had filled him as he was forced to watch Ino in a life and death struggle, it had only been years of training and iron self-control that had kept him from rushing to defend her. In that moment he had known that as soon as they got out of there, and yes they were all going to get out of there he swore, he would tell the Yamanaka what he felt for her and then nothing would stop him from being with her.

Again Sasuke kissed her hair one hand moving to raise her head so that he could kiss her forehead and then her tear streaked cheeks. He placed feather light kisses along the line of Ino's jaw working steadily towards the prize of her soft sweet lips.

"No," Ino said softly, shaking her head as she tried to pull away from the Uchiha. "We can't."

"Ino, stop it." His voice was a deep growl and he tightened his grip on her body, holding her close even as she tried to move away. "I said, stop it."

"Sasuke please! I'm sorry, please!" Fresh tears were running in rivulets across her skin as she placed her hands on his shoulders, trying to gain some sort of leverage and push herself away from him. "We can't, we mustn't. Sasuke-"

"Stop!" There were so many emotions conveyed in that one word; anger, sorrow, jealousy, irritation and tenderness to name but a few.

For a moment Ino stared into his face, felt the pull of onyx eyes that could almost see through her and in her head she could hear the raging as two sides of her fought over what she should do. Give into Sasuke and risk everything on a dream she had long given up on? Or preserve her friendship with Sakura and pull away now, to live her life always thinking of what might have been?

"Sasuke…" The indecision and panic in her light blue eyes was all too evident and something inside of Sasuke snapped. One hand remained firmly around her waist while the other moved to the back of her head, and fisting in the silky blonde strands forced her head down so that her mouth crashed down onto his.

He saw her eyes wide with shock and felt the resistance tensing every muscle in her lithe body, but he didn't care. Kicking his legs free from the blankets Sasuke forced the girl onto her back, ignoring the pain that seared through his right hand side as he moved over her. The IV was ripped from his arm, sending scarlet drops spattering onto the pure white sheets, but he was in no mood to notice and wouldn't have cared even if he had.

For too long Sasuke had been on his own, alone without anyone to turn to and now that he had finally realised who it was that he wanted she was trying to run away form him. And that was not something he was about to let happen. Ino might be into self sacrifice, but he sure as hell wasn't and there was no way he was going to let her go just to keep Sakura Haruno happy.

He wasn't rough with her, but he was thorough, his mouth moving demandingly over hers as he used a hundred casually learned tricks to wed the blue eyed goddess to him. He felt Ino start to relax under him, the hands that had been trying to push him away now were clutching and grabbing at him, seemingly desperate to pull him closer, just as Sasuke had know she would. What they felt was too strong for her to ignore and for that he was grateful for sick and twisted though he may be, he wouldn't have forced himself on her.

Having said that, now he had her where he wanted her Sasuke fully intended to prove to Ino that she belonged to him and no other.

--

It had been almost half an hour and she was sick of waiting, why should Ino get to see him and not her? She was Sasuke's team-mate after all, she knew him better than the blonde ever could and the question that raced round in Sakura's head was what could those to have to talk about for so long. The pink haired kunoichi was jealous but refused to acknowledge that fact, even though it was Sasuke who had asked to see Ino some part of her was insisting that it was that pig's fault.

Pushing herself to her feet, Sakura walked slowly down the empty corridor towards the door that had not opened since Ino had entered and Lady Tsunade exited Sasuke's room. She pressed her hands to the door and drew a deep shaky breath; a sense of forbidding filled her as she looked at her pale fingers spread out on the cold metal.

"Why her?" Sakura whispered quietly, sea-green eyes not straying once for the door. Why would Sasuke ask for Ino and not for her, she just didn't understand.

Leaning her head against the door she strained her ears, trying to make out any sound from the room beyond. But there was nothing but silence, no murmur of voices, just a deep dark silence. For almost a full minute the girl named for cherry blossom remained as she was listening intently for the slightest sound for the room beyond, but none came.

Slowly, hardly daring to breathe she pushed the door open enough to see into the room and froze as her eyes alighted upon the bed in the centre of the room and the pair upon it. Ino was on her back, her arms curving around Sasuke who was alternating his attention between her lips and the sweet flesh of her throat. They were so wrapped up in each other that neither of them noticed her presence.

A combination of rage and betrayal flooded through Sakura. How could Sasuke choose the blonde over her? What could she have that Sakura didn't, she was the fifth Hokage's apprentice not Ino, she was stronger and smarter than the pig. And Ino didn't understand him, could never know him the way that she did. So why?

But then realisation began to dawn for Sakura. How could she have been stupid enough to think that Ino was really her friend, the green-eyed girl silently asked herself, unable to turn away from the two people entwined on the bed. It was obvious to her now; that the blonde had only been using her so that she could get close to Sasuke and then take him away from her.

Well no one could say that she, Sakura Haruno, gave up with out a fight and she would do whatever it took to get back the man that her so called friend had stolen form her.


Lamb: I know Sakura seems like a bitch, but I think she'd find it easier to blame Ino and think of her as a thief than to admit to herself that Sasuke just didn't want her. See what I mean?

Muse: I think she's lost her marbles as well as the cookies.

Dedi: Could be onto something there and, Drunksonic we hope that you liked it.

Please R and R I'd love to know what you thought.

Big luv see ya

Lamanth