Title: Send It All In A Letter To Myself
Author: Killaurey
Prompt: 3) 3) I worshipped dead men for their strength/Forgetting I was strong. -- Vita Sackville-West.
Summary: Letters, memories, and decisions. Thinking hard, or hardly thinking? Ino runs.
Author Notes: AUish/Future-fic. Prompt used. I don't own Naruto or any of the characters from Naruto. Kishimoto does. Thanks to Ana for the beta.


"Write a letter to myself?" She'd been seven then, not yet even tall enough to stand higher than her father's waist and he'd ruffled her hair at the question.

"That's what I said." And he sounded amused.

Ino'd blinked up at him. "Why?" She hadn't understood it. "All my thoughts are already in my head, aren't they?"

He'd laughed. "It helps you organize what you want to think about. What's important to you or not."

That had gotten a frown as she'd tried to work through that one.

"Tell you what," he'd said, and she'd glanced up to find him smiling at her, "address them to me, then."

"Then you'll read them!"

"I won't," he'd assured her, "but that way you won't be writing to yourself."


Hey Dad,

It's been a while since I wrote, I guess. Last time was just before that mission out in Kusa. It went fine, since I know you'd worry if I didn't tell you, a few bruises, a broken arm (not mine, don't worry) and the mission got accomplished with a minimum of extraneous bloodshed. No big deal, really.

Jounin exams are just around the corner now, and everyone's been talking about them. Either because they're helping with the preparations, or because they're planning on taking them to try and advance in rank. Rumour has it that Hinata--you remember Hinata, right?--is going to take them. Chouji's already signed up, and Shikamaru keeps asking questions trying to see if I'm going to or not.

I'm not--or, at least, not this year. I've got other plans.

You're sighing at that, aren't you? I know you are. But, yes, I do have plans. Whether or not you'd approve of them is something else entirely but I've been thinking about it for the last month, and I handed in the paperwork earlier today.

Next Wednesday I'll be taking the Special Jounin examination for infiltration and sabotage. Failing is, possibly, a chance. But I'm confident in my skills.

Morino Ibiki suggested it. A few of his subordinates--do you know a Chiba Kei? Or a Moriyama Mayumi?--were on a mission with me... oh, six months ago? Something like that, they all sort of run together after awhile, I guess. But they liked what they saw, and passed that on to him. He tracked me down and suggested obliquely--subtle is the man's middle name after all--that I consider it. Unspoken went the fact that I wasn't allowed to mention the chance of me being recruited to anyone else. So, yeah, I guess I've been lying a lot this last month.

Practice, I guess, for when I do get in.

... I've got to go. Mission.

Love you,

Ino


Hey Dad,

I passed my examination. No surprise there, right? Morino-san was waiting outside for me when I got out of it. We talked for awhile, and I got to come home last night with a shoulder that had a new tattoo. The artist that did it said I'm not allowed to use chakra to heal it, something about the forced healing interfering with the permanence of the spiral.

There's a scarlet spiral on my arm. I haven't told Mom yet. She'll probably yell a lot about it, and then cry. That's what you said she did way back when you joined for a few years.

Still no idea how to keep on lying to them. I just don't know what to say there. Amaya-chan's just turned three, and Kurenai-sensei's too busy with her to pay much attention to how often I've been around, but Shikamaru and Chouji... such a pain. They'll take it the wrong way, you know it, that I didn't tell them right away. But, if I had? They'd have told me not to be stupid, that ANBU was the worst idea ever, and ask if I knew what the death stats for ANBU agents were.

I know what they are. They're awful odds. Eighty-six percent of ANBU never make it past their first year, whether from going mad, dying, being crippled on the job. And that fourteen percent that do make it? Are generally considered to be completely crazy for doing so. ANBU's hard, I know.

It was my bad decision to make. You understand that, right? I don't know if they will. Maybe I'll die, or go crazy, who knows? But I can be useful to Konoha while doing that...

Dying isn't in the plans, Dad. I promise. My luck might run out, or I might do something so stupid luck can't save me, but I won't do it deliberately. Yes, even after I joined ANBU. This will... give me focus. Ever since Shikamaru's been more wrapped up in Temari--whether avoiding her, or kissing her, it's all the same--and Chouji's just been swamped with missions and helping his younger brother--Choumaru, he's fourteen now--get ready for the Chuunin exams. They've been busy, and I haven't felt like... talking to them.

You know--since that mission. Yeah. I know, I know. I should. The nightmares that Kumo-bitch planted in my head are just that. Nightmares. It doesn't much change the fact though, that for that month? That was my life. I can't explain that to them. I can barely talk coherently to them some days, and definitely not about anything important. Not when she made it so that, in my head, they were the ones that killed me. Over and over again.

I'm running away, Dad. I promise I'll get help for it, in a bit. For now though, I'm still running--can't stop running--and ANBU is the safest place for me to get myself back together. Always did perform better under pressure. Watch me, I'll get better, and I'll talk to them about it. I will. My word as a kunoichi.

I love you,

Ino


She signed the letter with a flourish, carefully folding it in thirds and setting it aside, before leaning back in her chair and sighing. Maybe this letter, Ino mused, she'd have let him read. It was an old game she played with herself, rolling it over in her head and wondering if maybe this one, or that one, she ought to let him read.

It didn't matter now though, the point was moot. He'd been dead two years now.

"So, really," she murmured to herself, getting up with the letter in hand and throwing it in the fireplace, "send it all in a letter to myself, because the no one will read it."

Every time, without fail, she still addressed the letters to him. He'd told her to, after all, all those years ago.

It still helped. And it was a little less running she had to do.