Valued: There are many things the people of Konoha value about Naruto. His flamboyance, his relentlessness, his skill in the ninja arts, his power… And there are a lot of things the people of Konoha value about Ino. Her talents as a kunoichi, her family techniques, her interrogation skills…

But all Naruto values is Ino, and all Ino values is Naruto.

Deep in Thought: Naruto is lying on the couch, lost in thought, when he awakes to: "What are you thinking?" His vision fills with a blonde mop of hair as Ino stoops over him, a smile on her face. He lazily pulls her hair out of his eyes with one hand while stroking the back of the kitten, Grey, on his belly.

"That life is worth living only for these moments." He tells her earnestly, and she rewards him with a cherished kiss on his forehead.

Keeping a Secret: "So, one more time," Naruto admonishes, "you are to tell no one about what I told you on this fateful day, here, on the Hokage monument. Swear on your pride as a ninja." Ino rolls her eyes at Naruto's mock seriousness.

"If I were you, I'd be more interested in my keeping the fact that you were bawling your eyes out like a girl when I found you," she tells him. He only groans and plants a palm on his face.

Tower: He knows. For what it is worth, he knows that what he is about to do is wrong on oh-so-many levels and yet, with every single step forward, he comes even closer. It is as if the damn thing beckons him to come closer. He should stop, but he cannot. For right in the middle of the Broken Lands, the Hell-on-Earth, right in front of him, rises a tower manifested from the shadows.

And Naruto's legs seem to have a will of their own as they take him inside the tower, step by step.

Waiting: Ino is combing Akio's hair when a memory of a song strikes her mind. She starts humming it, and suddenly Akio hums it with her. From his corner, where he is reading a magazine, Junko starts tapping his foot on their humming's rhythm. Ino keeps combing Akio's hair, before leaning in to kiss his cheek.

Outside the room, watching the scene unveil with tear-sodden eyes, Haruno Sakura patiently waits for Naruto to return from the Broken Lands.

Danger Ahead: "No, no, no, no…!" These are the words Naruto tells himself again and again as his traitorous legs keep taking him further into the tower's bowels. Despite his panic, he has the perception to notice the doors closing behind him, and decides that enough is enough; he pulls a kunai from its holster and stabs himself in the thigh. The sudden pain is enough to make him snap out of whatever had affected him, but it makes him fall on the floor.

That's when he realizes that he's surrounded by forty black-cloaked men and women. "…Shit."

Sacrifice: Juugo is still holding Ino in his mutated arms, his extraordinary strength taking him away in leaps and bounds. Deep inside him, the Kyuubi roars for blood, and Naruto is more than willing to give it to him. Part of him, a savage, bloodthirsty part, tells him that all the Interrogation Squad needs for a 'mission accomplished' is the mutant's head.

Even as Naruto makes plans to give it to them just because Juugo hurt his girlfriend, Naruto admires the man for making such a sacrifice for Sasuke.

Kick in the Head: It is the night of Naruto and Ino's big (first) date, and practically all of Konoha's kunoichi want to see what Naruto has planned for such a romantic event. So, when Naruto takes Ino out for a bowl of ramen at Ichiraku's, the girls are furious. When he keeps talking louder than a tornado about his fighting, the girls are practically seething. But, to them, Naruto crosses the line after he eats his dinner and lets out a burp. Sakura comes out of her hiding place and is on him in an instant, kicking him on the side of his thick skull with a blue-laced sandal.

To her surprise Ino, who knew Sakura was there, laughs before letting out a burp of her own. "What?" She asks. "It's good ramen!"

No Way Out: "We do not know what you seek here, host of the Kyuubi, but place your trust in us when we reveal that you will die here." One of the men surrounding him says with lethality etched on his voice, but Naruto ignores him in favor of flexing his already healed leg. He gives it a try out as he makes a few preliminary bounces on his feet, and then finally looks the man who spoke dead in the eyes and informs him of a simple truth.

"I'm not locked in here with you." His eyes turn red, and a Rasengan sphere swirls in his hand as he says: "You're locked in here with me."

Rejection: Ino, obviously, had known of Naruto since their days in the academy, but she had never known Naruto. She had never known of his gentle soul, or of his adoring manners, or his quiet strength. Naturally, she had known that he was Jiraya's disciple, and thus a capable ninja, but she still didn't find it in herself to admire him. So that explained it to the spectators of the scene when Ino casually shot down Naruto's question of "Will you go out with me?"

At least, the first time around.

Fairy Tale: The Shinto priest chants his holy verses and performs the traditional rites, but they do pay attention to him. Dressed in formal kimono and holding each other's hands as the priest binds them together with a line of cloth, binding their souls together as one, and claiming their love eternal, all Naruto and Ino can do is look in each other's eyes. They did it. They got married.

Ino laughs out loud when she notices that Naruto stops pinching himself to make sure that this is real only until after the ceremony is over.

Magic: About forty to fifty brutal mutilations later, Naruto walks past the dispatched guards and further into the tower. He climbs stairs that seem to take ages to climb, and sees out of windows that only reveal the gloominess of this hellish place. When he reaches a throne room, he is tired, miserable, and all he wants to do is go home to Ino, but he knows that what he is doing here is important. He stares at the creature sitting at the royal seat and simply says: "I know you have it. One of your men down below told me, if only I could stop hurting him. Now give it to me." The creature on the throne rises, discards its cloak and reveals heavy muscles and the head of a bull. With a savage roar, the beast-man pulls a halberd out of the shadows cloaking the place and charges Naruto, who finally understands why Kyuubi had warned against venturing in this place.

Magic exists. And it is angry.

Do Not Disturb: They laugh, they smile, and some of them even sob as one of Konoha's most eligible bachelors finally gets hitched. Naruto and Ino only wave back in return, their smiles genuine and warm, their fingers intertwined and their hands bound by the wedding bonds. They thank people for coming, smile and nod, and greet familiar faces as they invite them in the ballroom for the party. As soon as the last person is inside and the music starts booming, Naruto and Ino disappear in cloud smoke and appear outside their hotel room.

The last thing Ino does before focusing on kissing her husband as he carries her into their room is hanging the 'do not disturb' sign on the pommel of the door.

Multitasking: "Quick!" Number One says, while Number Two runs as fast as he can across the living room, a mop in his hand, and Number Three tails him with a bucket of detergent. Number Four is busy cooking, Number Five is busy unfolding new sheets on their bed, Number Six is doing the dishes and Number Seven is dusting shelves and furniture off, alongside Number Eight. Naruto and clones Numbers Nine to Twelve are running amok in the local convenience store, buying everything required for Ino's return from her mission.

…Which Naruto, obviously, forgot until the last possible moment.

Horror: NO! Oh please, no, don't make me do this, please don't, Sakura, please; I beg you, if we were ever friends, don't make me do this. Please, PLEASE, don't, I really need this, Sakura I beg you, stop, why aren't you stopping, do you enjoy hurting me, Sakura, Sakura… Sakura, I can't do this without Akio and Junko, I'm nothing without them, I need them more than even Naruto, as long as I have them I'll be okay, can't you see that? Sakura, please don't. I can't watch them die again…

These are Ino's thoughts as Sakura injects her with a drug that would end her delusions, hopefully forever.

Traps: Naruto knows what he is getting into from the moment of his first kiss with Ino, but he has -painstakingly- chosen to ignore the dangers, on all accounts. The first time they make love, Naruto has found an isolated part of the training grounds and, while he knows that they can be found easily, Naruto and Ino choose to ignore this for the obvious reasons. When they start making love in Ino's bedroom, located right next to her parents', they once more choose to ignore the obvious predicaments. And this is the reason Naruto is currently stuck on the windowpane with powerful, weaponized glue sticking the inside of his thighs, calves and boots to the walls.

"See? I told you we shouldn't overdo this and that your dad knew I was coming!" Naruto complains to a guffawing Ino.

Playing the Melody: The fever has taken Ino severely. She is burning up and, no matter what Sakura does; it's possible that this whole ordeal can prove lethal for Ino. Sakura knows that this is an allergic reaction to the lucidity-inducing drug she has injected Ino with, and there is nothing else she can administer in danger of making everything worse. In a bout of zealotry and wariness, Sakura lies down with Ino and starts gently combing her hair and singing to her. She is surprised when Ino noticeably gets better.

She is not surprised when she realizes that the song she sung was the same one Ino had been humming to her illusionary children.

Hero: "Heads up, ugly!" Naruto calls, his voice and visage altered by the Kyuubi's demonic energies, before slamming with all his might against Juugo's back. The mutant howls with pain even as his spine shatters, and he releases the unconscious Ino, forcing Naruto to jump off of him and tend to his girlfriend. Even as Juugo's spine mends back, Naruto oversees Ino's wounds and makes sure she'll survive this. Juugo roars, before five of Naruto's clones stab him in various important organs with Rasengan spheres, and the mutant topples, dead. The clones disappear in harmless smoke.

Agonizingly slowly, Ino opens her beautiful eyes and smiles, her left hand reaching for Naruto's face. "…My hero…" She says with adoration in her voice even as she jests, and all Naruto can do is laugh with relief.

Annoyance: "So he got away?" Naruto nods and Ino looks down, crestfallen. They are both covered in bandages that serve to inoculate their wounds from their fight with the traitorous Uchiha. Standing in front of their beds, the sixth Hokage casually flips a page of his porn novel, even as his single visible eye dashes back and forth, from the writing to Naruto and Ino's prone forms. Ino is certain she can see a smile underneath the cloth mask covering his face. Naruto groans with irritation. "If you read the damn report like you should, you wouldn't have to come here and ask me that, you damn pervert!"

"Indeed," Kakashi agrees, "but how would I get a chance to annoy you otherwise?"