DISCLAIMER: I do not own Naruto or any of the characters. All rights belong to Masashi Kishimoto. I only own my OC's (Original Characters)-if any appear in this story. That's all. Oh, and this particular fanfic. Thank you.

Chapter One: Blond Hair and Demons

"Damn it! I'm gonna be late!"

Down the streets in the bustling city of Konoha, a young girl was desperately pushing and shoving her way through the crowds. It was almost 8:00 am on a Wednesday, and she had overslept.

And she was nowhere near the high school.

'BUMP' "Hey! Watch it!"

"Oh! S-Sorry!" Sheesh, why today, of all days? I have a test, first thing up! Oh God, do you hate me or something? I can't afford to miss this!

Her name was Yamanaka Ino, and she was a senior at Konoha High.

As she rounded a corner, her shoes skidded on a wet patch of cement-it had rained the night before-and she shrieked, grabbing a lamp post to keep from falling. Her legs splayed, and she almost did the splits right there.

"Augh! Stupid flats!" She cursed at her shoes, scowling. She'd had them for a couple years already, and it was beginning to show. The bottoms were worn smooth, to the point of peeling at the edges, and one of the straps had already snapped. She'd had to sew it back on, and then the buckle had broken. She kept it in place with tape, but it had to be changed every few days.

She pushed her bangs out of her face, and continued running. Her blond ponytail streamed out behind her. Her sky blue eyes blinked rapidly, as a bright beam of sunlight suddenly shot into her line of vision.

'BEEP BEEP' "Yeek!" Ino had unknowingly crossed against the light, and almost became road kill, as a grey sedan swerved and slammed on the brakes.

As Ino tried to catch her breath, the driver furiously pounded at his horn a few more times. "What the hell is wrong with you, girly? You stupid or something?"

"I'm-I'm sorry! Really! Forgive me!" Her face was burning. She hurried across to the other side of the street. She didn't need to be told twice. She was in the middle of traffic.

Today was just not her day.

'WHOOSH' "Aiee! Shit!" A gust of wind had almost lifted up her skirt. She hated her uniform-a short red plaid skirt, white long sleeve button up shirt, black vest, and matching red plaid tie. It wasn't so much the top that she didn't care for-just the bottom. It was too short! Absolutely horrible every time the wind blew, and as for the males on her campus…don't ask. Guys were such pervs nowadays…

'TRIP' "Ack!"

'WHUMP'

"Owwwch…no more, please…" Ino had tripped over a rather jagged crack in the sidewalk, and was now sprawled out on her stomach.

She sat back, pulling her legs up to access the damage. It was just as she feared…a nasty strawberry had opened up on her right knee, and was slowly bleeding down to her white socks.

"Dang it…there's no way I can make it now…" She stared at a lone patch of grass near a high fence, and felt the long suppressed tears begin to rise to her eyes. She tried to hold them back, once again.

I feel so useless…nothing new there. She sighed. If I can't make it on time…can I at least ask to arrive in one piece?

"Excuse me…are you okay? Do you need help?" She looked up, startled. Who was that? Were they talking to her?

A young boy, about twelve or thirteen, stood before her. He had sandy brown hair, and a worried expression that reached his amber eyes. His clothes were a little tattered and dirty. Ino didn't care. He was asking if she was okay…that never happened around here. In the big city, no one gave a damn.

She sniffed, and looked away. "I'm fine…I'm just clumsy. And now, I've made myself late for school. I have an important test today…I can't do anything right…" Her hands clenched into fists.

"Um…" The boy reached out to her. Ino was shocked. "I may not be able to get you to your school on time, but…I can at least help you walk. That cut looks pretty deep, too. Um…" He pulled out a pack of tissues from his pocket. "Here. You can keep them. I don't need them." He smiled slightly. "My mom…she always made me carry these around."

Ino didn't know what to say. She simply mumbled a 'thank you', before taking the pack, and pulling out a sheet. She dabbed lightly at the wound on her knee, wincing. It was pretty bad. But she was able to clean up most of the blood.

After she was done, the boy carefully helped her to her feet. She didn't want to, but she ended up leaning against him for most of the walk to the campus.

"Hey." Ino's voice caught his attention. He looked at her from the corner of his eye. "Thank you, for all of this. What's your name?"

He smiled shyly. "You're welcome. And, I'm Shinji. Otori Shinji."

"Yamanaka Ino." She grinned sheepishly. "Total bad luck charm, as well as being late for school. Nice to meet you."

"You're not bad luck. It's just an off day. Everyone has them." This made her feel a little better.

As they maneuvered through the crowds, Ino couldn't help but notice how many people were looking at them strangely. A few even seemed disgusted. She glared back at them. What, they'd never seen chivalry before?

"Here it is…Konoha High." Ino straightened up, and glanced at the clock tower. 8:13. Great. She was very late. But…

She turned to Shinji. She had met someone very kind this morning. Even with all the bad things, it was worth it. To know that there were still people out there who cared…she couldn't help it. She felt warm, and lighthearted. For the first time in a long time. She smiled at him this time, and he blushed.

"Well, again, thank you very much, Shinji. It was very nice to meet you. I hope to see you again. Under better circumstances, though." She waved her arm, and chuckled. He did too, but she couldn't help but notice-there was a strange sadness present in his expression now. It hadn't been there before.

"Goodbye, Yamanaka Ino…it was nice to be with you, too." He headed back down the road. Ino turned around, and began to limp up the stairs. Before anything else, she needed a bandaid.

She didn't notice that Shinji had stopped walking, and was watching her, or that he seemed to fade away into the scenery of the city…

…...

"Hey! Yamanaka! Oi, Yamanaka!"

"Urrgh…go away, please…"

"Aw, come on! Don't be so moody!"

"Inuzuka…I'm not afraid to kick you."

"Yeah, I know. You're just too lazy!" 'BONK' "Oww! What the hell, Shika?"

"She's tired. Leave her alone. Dummy…"

Ino was sitting at a table under a tree, slumped over. Her earlier depression had returned with a vengeance. After checking in at the office to collect a late pass and getting patched up at the health room, she realized that she had missed the morning announcements in Homeroom, and later on, was certain that she'd failed the test in First period. From there, everything just went downhill, as her energy was completely drained. Draped against the table, she resembled a limp piece of pasta, with blond hair.

"You know why you're so tired, though, yeah? It's because you rush around so much." Her only real confidant- though she would never say it to his face-Nara Shikamaru, was sitting next to her, his dark brown hair pulled up into its usual ponytail. Yes, ponytail. He was yawning. Well, nothing new there. He was almost always asleep; yet, somehow, he got straight A's. It baffled his teachers to no end. Ino too, was confused, but she never asked him about it. She figured it was one of the many wondrous oddities of life.

"Shut up, Shika," she muttered into her arms. "You know why I was rushing. I was late."

"Don't you have an alarm clock or something?" Inuzuka Kiba tilted his head. He was a wild looking guy, messy brown hair, with red triangles painted on his face. At least, Ino thought they were painted. She couldn't be sure. His uniform was wrinkled and stained, and there were a few rips in the pants. Probably from his dog, Akamaru. He loved dogs. That's why he had one. But man if that mutt wasn't mental!

"Why are you still here, dog breath? Go away." She tried to lift her hand, but failed. It hit the wooden surface with a faint flop.

"It's a free country. I can sit where I like." He stuck out his tongue.

"Screw you." She turned her head. "And, yes, I have an alarm clock. It just happened to choose today to break on me."

"That, plus the fact that you barely eat, is not a good combination." Shika sighed. "Ino, go grab a lunch or something. You'll feel better."

"No I won't."

"Why don't you eat more?" 'MUNCH' Shika rolled his eyes at the speaker. Akimichi Choji, a rather large boy with brown hair and swirling red cheeks, sat across from them. A bag of chips was in his hands. How he had wound up friends with the guy, Shikamaru would never know. He was always eating. You would never see him without food. The teachers had given up a long time ago trying to keep him from eating in class.

"Because, she's a girl. And girls are constantly obsessed with their looks and weight." At this, Ino's head snapped up.

"No, that's not it, Shika! I just happen to have a small appetite!" She paused. "That comes and goes when it pleases." Kiba snorted. Ino glared at him.

"So, your appetite has a personality, too? Interesting…" Shika began drumming his fingers on the tabletop.

"Forget it. You wouldn't understand." She sighed in exasperation, and plunked her face down against the table once more.

"Nah, it's just you!" Kiba scratched his head. "Oh! Gotta go, Hinata is calling!" Shika gagged. Hyuuga Hinata was Kiba's girlfriend. He would always get sappy and mushy around her…it was troublesome, as he would put it.

"See ya." With a single bound, Kiba was gone.

Shika looked at the brooding Ino once more, before sighing in defeat, and staring up at the sky. Cloud gazing was always fun…it took him away from everything.

Too bad it wasn't so simple to escape for Ino.

…...

'BRRRIIING'

"Woo-hoo! And school is out for the day!"

Ino was seemingly lost among the mass of teenaged bodies, as she made her way to the exit. It had been a lousy day…she just wanted to go home and sleep. Forever, if possible. No one would miss her, anyway, so it was a good deal.

She fiddled with the end of her long blond ponytail, as she descended the steps. Yes, no one would care-not her mother, who was too busy with the flower shop and trying to be a big business success, or her father, who had been a drunk. He'd left the house one day and never returned. He was found dead in a bathroom stall, apparently from alcohol poisoning.

She'd been nine at the time. But it hadn't been much of a shock, since he'd never been home in the first place. She hadn't cried at the funeral-she was unable to find a single tear to shed, simply because she didn't know what she was supposed to be crying for. And her mother had scolded her for this afterwards-for being such a horrible child.

Ino had started bawling then.

That was when she noticed, that her heart truly began to harden…

'GWOOO…' A cold breeze had kicked up. It played with the hem of her skirt, but she didn't seem to notice-or care. All she could focus on was the pain inside. She hated being alone. Even her 'friends' at school had no idea about her past, present and future-if she lived that long. But yes, they had no clue as to what had happened before. Or how she felt inside. If she were to open up, they would push her away. Others had. She refused to take that risk again. A shallow relationship was better than none at all…right?

"GRRROWLL…" The sound startled her. It was so loud. She looked around. No one else seemed to have noticed it. She shook her head. It was just the city.

"GRRROOOWLLL…HEH HEH HEH…" She whirled around. Okay, that was freaking scary! How could no one have heard that? She glanced from side to side. Nothing.

And then…

A hint of something caught her eye, to the left, in a corner across the street. She turned, slowly, and noticed right away the large shadow on the wall. It was huge!

And it was moving…

But what was creating it?

When its caster stepped into plain view, however, Ino wished she hadn't bothered to even think about it. Her blood ran cold, and she could feel herself turning pale.

An ugly, slinking, sliding, slimy creature, one that she'd never seen the likes of before and hoped she never would again, stood on the road. It had lumpy, dragging arms, two claws on each, jutting out of what she could only assume were hands-they were bulky and swollen in appearance, like permanent boxing gloves with boils. A long, spiky tail swished side to side. Its eyes were glowing red, and when it curled its lips, jagged, yellow fangs were revealed. It almost seemed to be grinning...in her direction.

A chill shot down Ino's spine. H-Holy crap, what the hell is that thing? Am I going crazy? Please, please, please, somebody tell me that-that thing isn't real! She was starting to shake. A few passers-by raised their eyebrows at her apparent panic. "What's her problem?" one of them muttered.

She wasn't paying any attention. The 'thing' had begun to move, shuffling and slurping across the road, over and through the cars-wait, what?

Yes, it was true. Like a ghost, it was passing through everything on the road. Ino was sweating. Was she the only one who could see this? Had she finally snapped?

It had reached the other side of the street-her side. It had to be at least a few stories tall-at the bare minimum, five.

Suddenly, it lifted up an arm. Ino's eyes widened. What was it doing?

'WHOOSH' 'CRASH' Its fist had slammed down, into the ground. The street shook, people screamed, and cars wobbled. It was like an earthquake! Ino stumbled backwards, and was now looking up. The creature caught her gaze.

And it began to chuckle.

That couldn't be good.

"HEH HEH HEH…HEY, BLONDIE…I KNOW YOU CAN SEE ME." She squeaked-it was the only sound that would come out of her mouth. It was talking to her…it was talking to her. What did it want?

"MMM…AND, YOU SMELL GOOD…REALLY GOOD…" Her heart dropped. That sounded bad. Really bad.

"ENOUGH PLAYING AROUND-NOW IT'S TIME TO ENJOY MY MEAL! HEH HEH HEH…"

And with that, it began stomping towards her.

Yes-this was turning into an absolutely awful day.

And it might possibly be the very last day of her, Yamanaka Ino's, life.

To be Continued…?

A/N: UPDATED So, yeah, that's Ch. 1! Wow...it sure has been a long time since I wrote this. I decided to tidy up my last Author's note, and just give you the basics. Since it's been about two years from the day of publication, after all. ^^

This is a Yuri/Shojo-Ai fic, as in girlxgirl. If that is not your cup of tea, then feel free to leave at any time. I won't hold it against you. :) The pairing is SakuxIno. The setting is a modern day AU, and some of the personalities...are a bit different. But, I did my best to keep at least some of the canon together. If you like it, great! If not, then...well, drop me a line. Feedback is always appreciated.

Next time: The grand entrance of Sakura! See you soon!