Naruto could control it. He hated senseless violence, and needless brutality. But when Ino became involved, Naruto had a hair trigger.

A routine mission. That's what they were told. Go in, find the bandit, negotiate for or take the item back, return the item to its owner.

If only it had remained that simple.

Naruto and Ino had gone alone on the mission. They were both jounin, and they were both known for their skills. Naruto could summon vast armies of clones to his aid, and could take a beating that would have killed several lesser men. Ino was cunning, and could use her mind jutsu so well that most many of her enemies ended up killing themselves in confusion.

But Naruto was weak to genjutsu, and Ino was lacking in taijutsu, and because of this, Ino awoke with a splitting headache.

Where am I? She looked around. Some sort of cave. No sign of Naruto. He must have been led somewhere else by the genjutsu. Before she could dispel it, she had been attacked, and, then she couldn't remember anything very clearly. Someone had carried her away through various tunnels from wherever they had been, and then dropped her suddenly when a huge noise shook the cavern. Whoever had carried her ran away from the noise. She heard loud, familiar sounding screeches and other sounds, though her muddled mind couldn't recognize them.

Whatever was making the noises grew quiet, and something flew by her with a loud whoosh. Ino couldn't remember any more.

Performing a little medical jutsu to ease her headache, she set off in search of Naruto, her comrade and more. She slipped as she entered a large opening in the cave. Something had coated the entire area in a thick layer of some smelly, slippery stuff. Ino tried to clear her head some more, and then she recognized the lubricant. As her vision cleared, she also recognized the sources, scattered all around the cave.

Ino gave Naruto a quick peck on the cheek as they strolled towards the Hokage's office. The whiskered ninja smiled and leaned in for another. Ino played coy and leaned away, only to be caught by a second Naruto. They first one burst into smoke.

When he had released her lips. She gave him an exasperated smile. "That is so unfair, Naruto-kun."

A cocky grin twisted his lips. "You complaining?"

She rolled her eyes and jumped at Naruto, who easily caught her and began carrying her bridal style towards the office. She sighed and relaxed into his arms. He was always so warm, she could practically fall asleep while he carried her...

Naruto shook her awake. Ino raised her head quickly. "I'm awake. I'm awake. Just relaxing."

Tsunade smirked. "Yes, I've been watching you relax for the past five minutes. Naruto, set her down, or she'll never stay awake long enough to hear the mission details."

Ino groaned as Naruto gently lowered her feet to the ground. She continued to lean on him, resting her head on his warm shoulder. This was almost as comfortable...

"INO! I swear if you can't stay awake to hear to what your mission will be I'll let Sakura go with him!"

Fire flamed in Ino's eyes as she reared up to attack the Hokage. Naruto grabbed her before any harm was done. "Ino-chan, you know I wouldn't do anything with Sakura. Why are you so jealous?" Although his words were placating, his wide grin told her that he appreciated her jealousy.

"I would never give up time with you, especially to her. And ever since Sasuke died, she's been... more open to the idea of dating you, and I know you used to-"

Tsunade cleared her throat loudly, but Ino kept up her worried babbling. "Naruto, could you do something about this?"

Naruto did something about it with such passion that Ino was left leaning on him for actual support, her knees to wobbly to keep her up independently.

"NOW THAT I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION," Tsunade spoke loudly, "I can give you the mission details. Our client, Kohta, had a rather special ring. It's a family heirloom, and it has a rather large ruby on it. It also functions as his official signet ring. Not so long ago, it was stolen by some unknown group, probably missing-nin. Kohta needs the ring back as soon as possible. I think you might be aware of how much damage these people could do with a signet ring. Anyone with it can pass as a legitimate messenger of Kohta's family, and could do irreparable harm to Kohta's reputation. Time is of the essence."

Naruto and Ino nodded.

"Leave as soon as you are ready, the thieves were last located 50 miles west of here. Go!"

The blondes inclined their heads in understanding, and departed immediately.

Ino stepped gingerly over the dead bodies, careful not to slip on the thick layer of blood that covered the ground. She held her stomach tightly, trying not to lose her lunch. She could sense him up ahead, past the broken wall.

The blonde kunoichi hopped over the rubble of the fallen cave wall to find another scene much like the first. She tried to ignore the signs of combat, and the sickening smell of death. But she couldn't help up see the melted and mangled shuriken and kunai, she couldn't help but notice the terrified expressions on the intact faces that littered the ground, she couldn't avoid the huge, blackened claw marks that decorated every wall, and the floor and ceiling.

She walked across the room and found a long hallway, lit with torches. At the end, she saw him, sitting propped up against a wall, looking at a large, ruby-studded ring in his hand. She approached slowly, holding a hand against her throbbing temple.

He heard her approach. Naruto turned and gave her a sad, pathetic smile, one that made her want to cry, that made her want to cradle him in her arms and never let him go. "I got it, Ino-chan."

She sat on his lap and leaned against his chest, sobbing. Her tears ran into the hollows above his collarbones. "I'm so sorry, Naruto-kun. I'm so sorry. If I had been quicker, I could have-"

He cut her off with a brief peck on the lips. "Don't blame yourself, Ino. We're fine. The mission is all but complete. We'll be back in Konoha before you know it."

Ino only heard it because she knew him so well. The inexpressible sorrow over his loss of control, his anger with himself for failing to protect her, and his anger, again with himself, for failing to overcome the rather weak genjutsu in time.

Ino stroked his cheeks, running her fingers along his whisker marks. "It's all right, Naruto-kun. You did fine." With her unique sense of the minds of others, and with her knowledge of Naruto in particular, she could feel his emotions gradually wane. She continued to stroke him and whisper comfort until she could feel that he was calm enough to go on.

Naruto stood slowly, picking up Ino as he did so. "It's alright Naruto-kun, I can-"

She stopped when she saw the look in his eyes. He wanted to desperately to make it up to her. She knew that she would not be able to convince him that she didn't need this, and she knew that it calmed him almost as much as it calmed her, to hold her like this.

The ache in her head faded as she drifted off to sleep.

They arrived at the cave rather quickly. Getting there just after dusk.

Naruto grinned at his beloved blonde girl. "You ready?"

Ino shot back with her own smirk. "Of course. Go on, fearless leader."

They rushed in to take the missing-nin by surprise.

Except they didn't. They had been expected. Traps and ninja flew from every corner, but these were not a problem. Naruto laughed as he dodged and blocked the attacks. His constant use of clones and Kawarimi kept the weapons away, and the ninja at bay, while Ino threw her own attacks from a distance.

She wasn't built for close combat, but she had learned how to deal damage from a distance. With a combination of kunai and chakra strings, she tied up or incapacitated quite a number of enemies until it happened.

Ino felt it as soon as she saw it. A dying ninja threw a simple genjutsu at one of the Naruto's.

The real one. His clones disappeared and were not replinished. Ino's eyes widened. What sort of genjutsu was it? She hurried over, and as she approached, she saw his eyes straming tears, and his mouth opened in a silent scream.

She didn't know what sort of vile genjutsu it was, but she had to remove it. But before she got there, a ninja got to her. With precious few clones left protecting them, she should have seen it. But the ninja clubbed her once in the temple, and she dropped like a rock.

Her vision and her memory hazed over.

Naruto was fighting, when he felt a slight pull. He looked over, and saw the ninja stab Ino from behind, he whirled to come to her aid, but he couldn't go fast enough. Too many ninja in the way. He hurried, and hurried, and killed, but he couldn't get there fast enough.

The ninja finished her, sticking a kunai hilt-deep through her eye and into her brain.

Naruto screamed. And screamed. Tears ran down his face. He fell to his knees of the ground, screaming at the ceiling. He was so sad. So sad. So...


No. He couldn't do that anymore. He couldn't. It was bad. And Ino was dead! What was the point? Without her, he was alone, he was cold, he was...


He couldn't fight it. It was too much. His control didn't crack. It shattered into a thousand pieces, and Naruto wasn't sure if it would over come back. He wasn't sure he cared. He was...


Naruto and Ino walked silently into the Hokage's office, hand in hand. Naruto gave Tsunade the mission report.

The hokage smiled. "Success!" Then she noticed their expressions.

Taking a swig of sake, she asked. "Again?"

Naruto nodded. And turned to walk away. Ino held on to his hand, casting a pleading look at the Hokage.

Tsunade whispered, just to her. "Take care of him, Ino. Please."

Ino nodded solemnly and followed Naruto out.

As they walked, she absently rubbed the back of his hand with her thumb. She had it so easy. He had to bear the demon, he had to bear the village's scorn, and now he had to bear the guilt for what his body did against his will.

Naruto never lost control. No insult could faze him. No threat to his person could move him. No amount of injury or pain could make him crack. But he had a weakness. Her. As she was his comfort, she was also his bane. Naruto hated the ruthless way he killed when Kyuubi came, but when Ino was concerned, the slightest thought of a threat could set him off.

He hated his anger, but he had a hair trigger. It's name was Ino.

AN: Tell me what you think. But please, if you want to point out something you didn't like, please tell me how I could have made it better. Constructive criticism is a great help.

Thanks for reading.