Years ago, Naruto heard the phrase, 'The things that hurt the most are the things you have no answer for'. That could describe how he felt now. He had no idea how he should return the heated proclamation from Ino.
"I'll make sure you never become Hokage…" Still, if anything, it made him realize how strongly the other girl felt about what he was doing. He could not change his way now, however. He would continue this mission; he would finish Sasuke if only for his own piece of mind.
"Even that will not stop me, Ino." He whispered. The woman's eyes narrowed and she stood with a huff. Their belongings that had been left in the camp disappeared when Naruto put his hands together. "Release", He muttered, and it was gone in a puff of smoke save for the fire.
"We are not far from where Sasuke was spotted. There is a town not far from here, we should go there and see if we can gather information about him." Ino's words were professional sounding and lacked the warmth that they usually held.
"Sounds good, let's go." Naruto replied, before jumping up into the nearby tree and waiting to follow Ino to the destination.
It was a port town. Ino hated port towns. The humidity did nothing for her hair and she was currently sweating kunai at the heat of the midday sun. Naruto stood off to the left in basic civilian attire. They had both changed outside of the town so as to not attract the attention that being ANBU usually brought. She was wearing something like she had when she was in her teens. The short mini skirt was dubbed in her favorite color.
Naruto was wearing a white T-shirt and jeans, something Ino found odd. Since when did Naruto wear jeans? He was currently talking to an old man that worked a fruit stand near the port. Naruto was chatting merrily with the old man, waving his arms around and enjoying the old man's wheezing laughter. Ino was disgusted by his actions. How could someone who wanted to kill so selfishly be so happy to everyone around him? It was as if Naruto lived a double standard, it was infuriating.
Nodding happily and thanking the man, Naruto walked back to her smiling happily. When he got close his smile dropped to a glare. The change would have left her with whip-lash had she not been somewhat expecting it. Naruto had barely spoken to her after what she had told him earlier.
"The best place to gather information is a tavern on the other side of town. The old man said that a lot of people gather there in the evening. Apparently it's a big party district. As much as I'm going to despise this, we are going dancing."
"How exactly is that going to help us find Sasuke?" He looked at her and blinked a couple of times.
"Simple, intel tells us that Sasuke has kept up most of Orochi's original dealings to fund his efforts, whatever they are. I'm selling you as a slave." He barely got to finish before she was yelling.
"TO HELL YOU ARE!" She walked right up to him and sneered in his face. "Figures you would come up with some idiotic scheme like this. I swear you sure as hell don't act like the student of a San-" She was cut off when Naruto roughly grabbed her shoulders and pulled her into an alley between two port shops. He hit her against the wall, her head smacking against it with a crack. Her eyes became blurry from the pain.
"Leave Jiraya out of this… we are going to do this my way Ino. In the end, Sasuke will be dead so shut the hell up and change into something more befitting to your cover." He growled. He pulled her away from the wall before hitting her against it again, this time a low groan left her and she slumped as Naruto let go of her. She slid slowly down the wall her head lolling forward in a semi aware state. A small trail of blood fell down her neck, obviously coming from the back of her head.
As she sat there Naruto looked at her with slow realization at what he had done. He had hurt her. He saw the blood flow more freely from her head; he looked at her thin shoulder and saw dark bruises forming there along with swelling.
"What is happening to me?" He whispered, slowly falling to one knee in front of Ino. The woman made no recognizable motions that he had moved to her, her eyes hazy and lifeless. "Ino?" He asked, shaking her slightly. As soon as he touched her she shivered uncontrollably. Naruto cocked his head to the side when he heard her whisper.
"Please… don't kill me." His eyes widened, her words were spoken from a semi conscious state. She had no inhibitors about speaking her mind. A realization hit him like a ton of bricks, Ino… Ino Yamanaka, his partner for years now was afraid of him. Nothing she could have done would have hit him harder than this. A single tear fell down his face.
"What have I become? I really am no better than Sasuke." Quickly he scooped Ino up from the ground and disappeared in a gust of wind.
When his shunshin arrived at its intended location Naruto gently placed the young woman on the bed in a room they had rented earlier that day.
"Concussion, two dislocated shoulders, erratic heartbeat, hyperventilation, my god Ino what have I done to you?" Naruto said slowly as he looked over Ino's body in a new light. She was breathing heavily , a cold sweat had broken out.
"How did I do this to you? All I did was grab you." It was then as he looked back on that moment. He had let himself go for a moment when she had mentioned his late sensei. "Kyuubi… I used his chakra." It had to have been only a moment but as the years passed Naruto had refined his ability to use the demon's chakra to a point that the slightest touch to an unsuspecting person would leave them in the state Ino was in, with the final loop being heart failure.
"I have to remove it from her." He cursed as he brought up the process of removing the chakra from her body, it was a difficult seal. Reaching into his pouch he pulled out his inkwell and brush. The next part, he remembered, was that the ink would be a permanent 'tattoo' on Ino's body. A constant reminder of what he had done today. He had lost it and hurt her… his friend, his partner, and one of the few people that had helped him in so many ways. "I'm so sorry, Ino." He whispered to her and slowly turned her over on her stomach as gently as possible. He didn't need to take off any clothing for what he had in mind. Ino's clothing made it so her lower back was completely exposed. He quickly rubbed an anti-septic pad across her back so that nothing would affect the seal in a different way then he intended. Her breathing didn't slow any and it made drawing a seal extremely hard, not that it wasn't already. Sucking in his breath he began to make one of the most complex seals he had ever created, and one he believed that he would one day have to use on himself.
Naruto made the first swipe of the brush and the long and complex seal was being placed.
Ino knew that none of this was real but nonetheless it still affected her so much. It was the scene from her dream where she saw Naruto standing in the flames.
"I should have been here!" He growled. For the first time, though, she realized that the dream wasn't going to stop. She saw herself standing not too far off and slowly she watched as the dream Ino walked to Naruto.
"Naruto you need to see this." She said lowly, as if the words pained her beyond belief. His eyes were still red but Ino knew Naruto still had primary control over himself. Slowly the jinchurikki followed her. Ino followed her dream self as well.
"No, no, no, NO!" His words began as a whisper and he stumbled up a small hill. By the time he reached the top he was screaming. He fell to his knees in front of a tree. A person was impaled on its feet, hanging off the ground. Blood was pooled on the ground around him. Naruto looked up at the tree, his hands caressing the feet as tears streamed down his face. Ino realized as she got closer that the person hanging from the tree was Sakura.
Despite herself, Ino did not wake up with a fit of screams as she had done last time. Instead she awoke with tears falling freely down her face. She was lying on a bed on her stomach, slowly she turned over and looked to the window of the small room, obviously a hotel room. She saw Naruto standing there. He was shirtless and he looked as if he had been sweating. The room was unnaturally hot. Slowly her body caught up to her mind and she groaned and her back arched as pain shot up her spine from her lower back, as a searing hot pain was there.
"Welcome back." Naruto said quietly from his place from the window. Ino turned her head to him and saw that he had yet to look at her. She realized she had a headache. "Its good your awake I would have woken you soon anyway as with your concussion it is required that you not sleep long as you will slip into a coma."
"What happened?" She asked simply and saw Naruto lower his head in apparent shame, despite not being able to see his face.
"I'm sorry Ino, I didn't want it to go this far…" He said, his voice staying in the quite fashion in which he had spoken originally. Her memory slowly came back, she remembered what he did. "It is worse than you think it is, you have seal on your lower back now. I had to remove the demonic chakra from your system it was quickly killing you."
"Why?" She asked. She didn't have to relay what she meant. He knew what she was asking.
"I don't know," He replied shaking his head slowly, still unable to look at her. "What is happening to me Ino? I know longer have a hold on myself." Slowly, painfully, Ino stood from the bed. She began to wobble toward him at a sedate pace. She lightly touched his shoulder, but he quickly shrugged it off.
"You are my friend Naruto, and I dare say that I know you better than anyone else. You are scared of losing her, but you have to remember-"
"Remember what Ino?" He exclaimed, he spun on her and she saw the tears streaming down his face. She saw that his eyes were completely broken. "Remember that I hurt you because you are standing in the way of killing someone that I used to love like I brother!" He jerked to the side and his fist smashed into the wall, putting a hole into the sheetrock. "I have lost my mind Ino, I have lost my nindo, and I have lost myself. I am not the person I should be anymore." He leaned up against the battered wall and slid down it, much as she had that day. His head fell into his hands and, trying her best, she fell to her knees in front of him, there physical rolls reversed despite their emotional reasons being different.
"What are you saying Naruto?" A sob escaped his lips, and Ino put a hand on his cheek noticing for the first time the bones in her shoulders felt as if they had been put back in socket wrong.
"I'm saying that I can't do it Ino, I can't honestly bring myself to kill Sasuke. It is turning me into a person I don't want to be." He began to cry harder, and Ino grabbed his shoulders and pulled him toward her. Her hand passed through his hair as she stroked him, he placed his cheek on her sore shoulder. She didn't care though, she needed this to happen. He needed it she had to bring him back from this darkness before he was lost forever.
"You have no idea how happy that makes me Naruto, I'm so proud of you." She had her own tears now, and they sat there for a long time not saying anything until Ino finally spoke. "Naruto?" Ino said.
"Hmm?" He replied.
"I forgive you." She felt him smile from his place on her shoulder.
It was one day later and the sun was once again setting over the port town. Naruto and Ino were walking down the streets toward this club everyone had been going on about. Naruto wore a business suit, with a girl in a ratty looking cloak following behind him. The hood pulled back, showing a bejeweled head piece that was put nicely in her long flowing blonde hair.
"I can't believe you got me to do this." Ino growled. Naruto smirked slightly at her words but continued to lead her there.
The place was called The Valarium. Naruto insisted it sounded like a drug. Ino replied 'It probably is'. They arrived at the entrance to the huge club. They heard the overly loud music blasting like a sound jutsu through the doors.
"Do I have to do this?" Ino complained again, but Naruto just nodded. They went to the entrance and was greeted by two samurai
"Identification please." They said in unison. Naruto handed two fakes to the man, who only gave them a passing glance before waving them in.
It was a true club if Naruto had ever been to one. As soon as he got into it the place was alive with loud upbeat music and people dancing all over each other. Naruto raised a blonde eyebrow when he passed two girls that were dancing all over one another in a very proactive way. They saw him and one had the gall to actually beckon him over.
He humbly denied, as he heard Ino give a snort behind him. It was a fact of her close proximity to him that he could actually hear her over all the noise.
"We have business here Naruto, try to not get distracted. You have a wife at home." Ino yelled over the music, her voice full of mirth.
"You seem to forget I do quite often." He fired back, the good nature toward the other only thanks to last night, and the realizations from one party. He heard Ino make an offended noise.
"As if I could forget that, with that clingy pink haired banshee always yelling something about how no one better even get close to you! No matter what sex they are!" Naruto actually guffawed, remembering he had once thought that about Sakura when she was so obsessed with their teammate. That line of thought quickly darkened his mood. He didn't have long to think about it though, when he saw a man standing in a corner.
"That's our guy Ino, time to play." He said darkly, her ninja skills allowing her to hear him. She quickly moved up beside him and shed her cloak, having no qualms about throwing it against one of the walls as they walked to the man. Her outfit was a dancers uniform. Naruto handed her a veil and she clipped it in place as they arrived at the man's place. He looked at the pair carefully.
"Slave." He said simply. It wasn't a question but Naruto nodded his affirmative. The man did the same and pushed off against the wall. They followed him to the back of the club and were led to a small room. There was a table and two couches and the man sat on the farthest one. Naruto finally got a good look at him. He had a military shave and his beard was trimmed extremely short. He had a scar on the right side of his chin, and apparently an injury in his right shoulder if the wince that he gave when he shook Naruto's hand was any indication.
"My name is unimportant, as someone who has done this before should know," He said, watching as Naruto's reaction was only a slight nod.
"Who are the buyers and there prices."
"Well this is the slave market boy, I think that should be obvious. There aren't many but the pay is high, and as for the product I would say she will fetch a pretty penny. Is she skilled?" He asked. Naruto nodded his affirmative. "Show me." The man said a smile on his face. Without missing a beat, Naruto snapped his fingers and Ino hesitated a second. It was perfect really, she had always been a good actress. When she didn't go Naruto slowly leveled his gaze to her and she gave a deliberate shiver and went to the man.
And without even a beat except for the faint sounds of the music in the main rooms Ino began to give him a lap dance. He made the young woman endure this for several minutes before he beckoned for her to stop. She did so without hesitation, and Naruto saw that she didn't need to act to be truly relieved.
"I believe that is demonstration enough." Naruto said evenly, as Ino once again amazed him and sat at his feet and rested her head on his knee. The man saw this and raised an eyebrow. Naruto smirked and shrugged. "She becomes rather attached to her owners." He said with slight mirth. The man gave a deep chuckle though.
"Alright, let's get this down to business." The man said. "I have three possible buyers for a product with her skills." Naruto felt Ino tense when he called her a 'product'. "Two of them will be using her in escort services but pay less than the third." He paused and looked longingly at Ino.
"And the third?" Naruto questioned.
"The third takes all slaves, many think it's for experiments." Ino playing part looked at Naruto, eyes wide with a pleading expression. He slowly looked down at her and gave his best dark smirk.
"I'm in it for the money. Who is the third?"
"His name is Sasuke Uchiha. He used to be one of the Sannin's students until he killed him and took over his underground empire." Naruto nodded knowingly, as if he was humoring the man by listening.
"And he buys slaves often?" Naruto asked.
"He has never turned down an offer that I know of." Naruto looked down at Ino.
"This is not my only slave, I wish to sell others. I want to meet this Sasuke. I would like to sell to him directly." The man raised an eyebrow.
"That won't be possible. Sasuke meets only a few people each year. He is a powerful man." Naruto sighed at his words.
"Fine how much for the woman?" Naruto said with a huff.
"Three million ryo." The man said instantly.
"Seven." Naruto counterd.
"Five." The man persisted.
Naruto scoffed. "Seven." The man gave a sneer, and looked at Ino.
"Fine seven." Naruto nodded, before he smirked.
"You know you could have her for free. I'll even give you the price for her if you told me how to find Sasuke." The man looked at him suspiciously, but he looked as if he was seriously thinking about it.
"Why?" He said. "Why do you want to sell to Sasuke so bad?" Naruto nodded in understanding at his words.
"Simple. He pays the best and I don't really need a middle man when I only want one buyer." The man scoffed.
"That puts me out of a job."
"Fourteen million ryo. Take it or I leave with the product." Naruto saw Ino look absolutely put out by him calling her that, thankfully the man didn't see it.
"Deal." He said slowly. Naruto grinned widely and pulled a scroll out of his pocket. He pulled a pen from his pocket and began jotting down things on it.
"This is a statement to the bank along with ownership of her. You will find the amount that I owe you there." The man nodded.
"It's good to see a fellow professional." He went to a book shelf in the corner of the room and pulled out a scroll sitting on the top of the shelf.
"This is a summoning scroll for a single summon, a snake will appear and you will be able to set up a deal through it." He produced a vial from a drawer in the table between them, as well as a knife. Slowly he cut his hand and a small stream of blood fell into the vial.
"The contract will be activated by my blood." Naruto took the items from him, looking at each slowly.
"You know you should really not be so trusting. Thanks for this but I don't really have money." The man's eyes widened before he clutched his neck, a senbon needle was sticking out of it. He quickly fell to the floor, very dead.
"That's for calling me a product you bastard." Ino raged.
A/N: I'm back!