A/N: I couldn't write anything else until I got this out. It's been bouncing around in my head for three days now. Btw, I love cliches. I don't care how much this is used, I liked it. XD

Sasuke crouched beside the bloodied bodies laying in the soggy mud of the lake beach. His eyes went from coal, night black to a red that was like the color of freshly shed blood and he examined the corpses quickly.

No obvious sign of a jutsu being used, three of the men had been killed by kunai and the last one by a shuriken. There was a fresh, alien chakra trail hovering close to one of the victim's head.

Sasuke's eyes passed over the men once again on onto the trail of blood that lead away from them. Studying the way the blood was splattered, he could tell that who ever it belonged to was limping.

He stood and followed it as it wound through the trees and eventually leaded to another beach further up the lake and sheltered in a copse of trees. He saw a blonde girl laying broken on the ground, laying at an awkward angle as if she had fallen and couldn't get back up.

Sasuke rolled the girl over onto her back and saw that she was familiar. But, who was she? As he stared at her, trying to remember, the girl stirred and looked up at him with beautiful, ocean blue eyes.

"I must…be dieing," She rasped. Sasuke was perplexed, wondering why she said that. The girl smiled faintly and weakly raised a hand up, only to drop it with a pain-filled gasp.

"I thought I was over…you, but I guess not…since I'm seeing…you now…," She answered with some difficulty. She had a large red spot on abdomen that was soaking through her purple shirt.

"You're not…talking. Maybe I'm…just imagining that…you're here…Sasuke-kun," She said, and Sasuke finally remembered her. It was Yamanaka Ino, the blonde who had obsessed over him with Sakura. What was she doing here in the middle of nowhere?

"Ino, where's your team?" Sasuke asked. He couldn't imagine the Hokage sending Ino on a mission by herself. Sure, Ino had been strong enough to take out the four strong shinobi on her own, but she'd been fatally injured in the process.

"I don't," She said, a bout of coughing stopping her mid sentence. Sending spasms through her. When her fit finally subsided she continued, "I don't…know."

"What do you mean you don't know?" Sasuke asked, his tone sharper than he had meant it to be. Ino didn't seem to notice.

"We got separated," Ino said, her voice weaker now. She tried to lift her hand up to wipe her mouth, but this proved too painful. Sasuke hesitated, but then reached out and wiped the blood away from her lips. She was going to die anyway. He could help her this much.

"Sasuke…is this…real?" She asked, having trouble breathing now, "Am I…really…dieing?" He considered telling her a lie, but so close to the end, he owed it to her to be truthful.

"Yes, Ino, this is true. The pain…me…it's all real," He answered. She nodded slightly to indicate that she understood.

"Sasuke," She was whispering now, so he had to lean down closer to be able to hear her, "My eyes…are so heavy."

"Don't be afraid," Sasuke said, wondering how he could ease her pain. Sure she had been annoying, but she'd been so pure and had done nothing to deserve such a painful death. A stomach wound. Sasuke admired the calm she possessed as she was slowly and surely slipping away.

"I'm not…I have you," Ino said, her eyes shining as she looked up at him, despite the fact that she was dieing.

"Shh," He didn't know what to say so he just pushed her hair out of her face.

"Sasuke…will you hold…my hand?" She asked, her eyes half closed. He nodded, though she probably couldn't see. Already her eyes were starting to look distant. It became hard for him to swallow.

Sasuke gripped her hand gently in his, feeling the weak heart beat as she loomed close to death. He didn't know why he was getting all choked up, but moisture was gathering in the corner of his eyes, threatening to spill over.

The last time Sasuke had cried was when his parents died. His whole body tensed as he heard a sound further up in the clearing and sensed chakra sourced coming closer. He recognized Sakura's, she wasn't even bothering to suppress it.

"Good bye, Ino. Sakura's here now. She'll take care of you," Sasuke murmured, as he bent quickly to kiss the blonde's brow. In a blink of an eye, Sasuke was gone from her side and hidden in the tree branches, his chakra suppressed.

"INO!" Sakura cried, seeing her friend laying on the floor. She ran to Ino and sank to her knees on the ground beside her. Tears were already flowing from her eyes.

"Sakura," Ino whispered, attempting a smile at her friend. Sasuke noted how small and sad it looked compared to the huge grins he remembered her having.

"Ino, it's going to be ok. It's going to be ok," Sakura said, summoning her green chakra to her hand.

"Sakura…an angel was here…," Ino murmured, her eyes getting duller by the minute. The shimmering, ocean blue of a few minutes ago was gone.

"Ino, it's going to be ok. Shh, now. Save your breath," Sakura said, pumping her chakra through her.

"I saw him…Sasuke…," Ino whispered, "He was…just…as beautiful as…ever. He said…don't…be afraid…I'm not…Sakura. I'm not…afraid…I know…it's time to go…"

"Don't talk like that, Ino. Sasuke wasn't here. You're not going to die," Sakura said urgently, her brows drawn together in worry and concentration.

"He was…he held…my…hand…," Ino said, her breath was ragged now, "He…told me that…you…were…coming…"

"Ino, no. No. No. No. No. No," Sakura begged, sobbing, "You're not going to die. Come on. Breathe in! One…two…three…breathe out. Come on. Ino. I'm almost done."

Sasuke could tell that Sakura was lying. She wasn't almost done. Ino was slipping away and she couldn't stop it.

Ino fell silent, it was beyond her ability to speak anymore. Sakura was desperately trying to heal her, but it was too late. Sasuke turned away, unable to watch anymore. He knew when she died because Sakura let out a loud cry and her sobbing filled the area.

Another voice came from between Sakura's cries. Sasuke turned to see whose it was. It was Shikamaru's.

"Sakura?" He said, moving to stand by the trees, seeing only her back, "Are you hurt?"

The pink haired girl couldn't speak because she was crying so hard and could only manage to shake her head no.

"I-Ino," Shikamaru choked out when he saw why Sakura was crying. He, too, crumpled to his knees, his expression of shock. Sasuke watch unobtrusively as they mourned the loss of their dear friend, as Sakura washed the blood from Ino's face, and as Shikamaru gathered her up in his arms. They left the clearing, Sakura looking back just as she was almost out of sight, and began their long journey back to Konoha.

Sasuke wondered what the Hokage and the rest of the village would say about her. Would they say that she was an unfortunate loss? Would they say she died a hero's death? Would they say how great of a person she was? Would they even care? Of course they wouldn't care. Ino was just a shinobi, like himself. Shinobi were just pawns. They had no life. Shinobi were just lethal weapons, loosed on the enemies of Konoha.

As Sasuke finally slipped away from the scene of Ino's death, he had to wipe tears from his eyes.

The last time Sasuke had cried was when Ino died.

"Sasuke…will you hold…my hand?"