A/N: Despite my shitty update schedule, we've stuck it out the whole way! XD But can I mention that my readers kick ass? Seriously. Simply for putting up with my supreme laziness and writer's block you kick ass. -sweatdrop- Good god…

This is the last chapter of Raindrops. After a while I definitely plan to write more InoSaku, because, you know, it's kind of awesome to finally find a great lesbian pairing that has an equally great fanbase… X3 So, I'll be back with oneshots and probably some more long ones after this! Don't worry about me totally dropping off the face of the fandom.

For now, enjoy the finale. :3

I do not own Naruto.

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Raindrops, One by One

07

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Saying that I had overstepped was a vast understatement. How could I even think of saying all that I had done was overstepped a tiny bit…?! No, that was far fucking worse than simply overstepping.

I shattered her.

If she was the window pane, and I was the rogue baseball, she was absolutely done for. And so was I, because I was undoubtedly going to be picking shards of glass out of my skin for weeks afterward.

I know I ought to be proud that I was trying to be brave and finally trying to make myself happier, but…

Have you ever seen someone's smile crumble away so quickly that you too become confused, mistakenly thinking that there may have been a frame missing in the middle of the film? Oh, but if anybody did anything to the film, it was me. I added a part that wasn't supposed to be there, and I ruined the happy ending.

Didn't I?

Didn't I?

And at that moment, that was what I had done a fair job at convincing myself of.

Sakura was a stiff, easily breakable board enough already, but now it seemed like she'd gotten even stiffer by those four words. Can I kiss you? Really, where did I get off thinking that I could so much as consider saying that to her? "Um…Ino, I…" She stuttered, pale pallor overtaking her skin. "Ino, I…"

"N-never mind!" I choked, heart quivering. Good news, at least I wasn't trying to fix it instead of continuing to insist that I ruin our friendship too. "Just never mind…"

About then I began to notice which of the things I was attached to that was more valuable to me.

Attempting to hide that she was shaking a little, Sakura swallowed and tugged nervously on the ends of her hair. "I… I think I need to go home now, okay?"

"It's fine, I understand…"

"No, it—it's not you!" she covered, still making too much of an effort to keep me happy. "I, uh…I have a test in history soon, so…you know, studying calls…! So many dates to remember, so little—" She shrank back again when she said 'date'. "…Time."

Fuck, had I messed her up that bad by moving too fast with my selfishness? "Oh. Right. That test in history. Maybe I ought to go study for it too." My own voice had lost its life as well. A boring, sad monotone was leaking out, devoid of will or energy. Without a spirited goodbye, I trudged off, a fast little shuffle despite the heaviness my body currently held.

Get the hell away from her and figure things out before you even think about going to see her again. You got that, Ino Yamanaka? Figure your own heart out before you go after hers.

I didn't turn around once to look back at her, because I knew what I would see. My best fucking friend in the world, conflicted and tender and alone.

Alone merely because I had left her that way.

What sort of friend would do that if they really loved her?

Obviously, whoever I had convinced myself into becoming would. Look, there she was, leading me away from the only girl who ever put up with all my shit.

Sakura deserved so much better than her best friend disappearing.

Lord, what was all of this mess?

In order to put something back together again, you generally have to have some glue. I was the glue in this case, but now I needed to decide how I was going to put her back together again. Also, there was another pressing matter…how to put myself back together again in a way that she wanted me.

Yes,I did love Sakura. I loved her very much. I loved her enough to know that deep inside of me it would probably never work out with me as the prince and her as the princess. She was my princess, but all I was was her lady in waiting.

But I was okay with that if I had to be.

Looking back, I had known I was okay with that, because I'd really been happier before I'd let this infatuation get out of hand. I guess I had needed to justify something to myself; that I was sure I was a lesbian.

Oh, Sakura was gorgeous, don't get me wrong. No, no, no. She is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen, but I had only mistakenly reached for her, seeing as she was the closest thing available.

Still I would adore to be her lover too, but the whole thing seemed likely futile and I was aware of it. Aware of it since the start, which was why her finding out scared me at first so much. If she knew, that would open the door to get me too eager. It did, and so did I, and eventually it had proved that first and foremost I needed to be her best friend.

In order to survive in this painful, tricky world, everyone needs a best friend to cry with and play match maker for you, not necessarily to be your match all of the time.

I got my dance with her; I did. No one could ever take that away from me now.

Sometimes one single memory can be better than a whole gallery. With only one being there, it is only made all that much more special and pretty.

Not to say that there couldn't be more.

There could.

I still hoped that there could. And I was still going to try to make more with her.

Calm down. Calm down and just make sure that it's her choice, and not mine, whether we keep going like this. Because she is the one who it is up to; I'm just the one who's praying she doesn't hate me for it.

I stopped running away, shoulders heaving as I panted from physical and mental exertion, I stood rooted to the pavement and gathered myself. Eyes hammered shut; I turned on my heel and began walking back towards her. Though she had said she had to leave to go study, she hadn't moved. Instead, all she'd done was sit limply on the sidewalk, hugging her knees to her chest. She had obviously been thinking about all of this just as hard as I had. Staring down at the ground, she was sad.

Sad.

I could tell.

"S—Saku-chan?" It was like I hadn't spoken in weeks, how cracked the sound was.

The only response she gave me was to draw herself further hidden behind her legs, but after a moment's continued wrenching silence; I saw her expressive eyes peering out. They were trained on me. no tears hovered behind those glass orbs, and not only did it surprise me, but it embedded a slight new hope into my core. Sakura always couldn't help but cry when she was angry at someone, so at least she didn't hate me.

I swallowed. "Okay…so you don't have to talk to me, I guess. but could you at least nod or something so I know you're listening?"

Her head might have moved, I'm not positive, but I'd like to think she did. "Anyway, I just need to say a few things. And that probably means I'm going to babble and make no sense about it. Which I'm sure you isn't a surprise for you of all people…you know I never shut up and sometimes don't even stop to take a breath and everything I say is a gigantic run on sentence and—"

Passing out from lack of air had an appeal to it then. Were I to pass out and skip the waking up part, it would all be wonderful. That way I could go ahead and be dead, and be left with no need to worry about how to wrap this all up in gauze and heal it.

Apparently, Sakura had already come up with a healing plan on her own. Leave it to the one studying to be a doctor… "Piggy, stop it."

"What?"

"Just stop it, Piggy."

"Um…stop what, exactly?"

She sighed, coming out of her hiding crouch. Her lips were flat and serious, but still not angry. "Groveling. You always made fun of me for groveling. Quit being such a hypocrite and be a bad ass. Because you're much better at that, and bad asses are way sexier. In my opinion anyway. And that is the opinion of someone who's, ah…sort of regretting not being more open to this whole...um…" She hesitated, stumbling over her thoughts.

I blinked, startled to hear her using the word sexy directed toward myself. "Oh. Alright."

"…Good. Because it's annoying…" She paused and bit her lip before braving a look up at my face. "Just for the record, what I was trying to say was…I… I wanna say that I don't necessarily want to give up trying. The whole girlfriend thing, I mean."

Meeting her bright gaze, I was both pleased and taken somewhat off guard. "Hm? Really?"

"Yeah…not fast, but… I really do want to give it an honest try. In case I would ever regret not trying." Playing with her fingers, she went of sheepishly, "Because something sort of tells me that someday I might be regretting that."

Those were the sweetest tiny words ever to grace my ears at the point.

But still.

I had to safeguard the part that was truly the most important to me.

Through my vivid smile, I attempted to sound a bit stern. "I can definitely work with that, Madame. However, one more thing. Say that you promise to be my best friend."

I didn't even begin to know the greatest tiny words in the world until she came up to me, stuck her hand in mine, and whispered gently in my ear, "I do."

We were open ended and safe to be so.

Because we were best friends, and we knew that we could deal with whatever came our way, some lopsided way or another.

And maybe kick its ass while holding hands and the same time.

Fancy that.

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