Theme 11 – Memory.
- - -
It is spring in Konoha. The world is turning a new shade of green, the sun is remembering its own warmth and, today, Yamanaka Ino is falling apart.
She does not care how beautiful the flowers are because she is screaming. She cannot see the earth forgetting how to be a stone because she is trying to tear out her own eyes. Ino doesn't care about this spring because she is trapped in the springs and summers, autumns and winters of years past, seasons that weren't even hers!
This is the drawback of specializing in controlling the minds of others; in the end, they control you.
- - -
It is spring and she is not she, she's a he and he's a Rain-nin. He's a Rain-nin and, surprise surprise, it's raining. The water is sheeting down from the heavens and there's a girl with him, a girl that he loves who has long hair plastered to her skin, and he gathers her close and kisses her and he's so, so in love…
Ino killed this man using his own hands and his own sword.
- - -
There are familiar, strong hands holding her down and she arches into them, throwing her bodyweight against a cage of fingers and thumbs. Dimly, she is aware that it is Chouji holding her shoulders while Shikamaru pins her hips and hands, but the pain in her head is more demanding.
And the voices—oh, the voices won't leave her alone and she wants them outoutoutOUT!
"Ino!" she hears Shikamaru yell, but is he a long way away? He sounds so distant. "Snap out of it!"
She cannot hear him. The other voices are louder. And hers, when she screams, is the loudest of them all.
- - -
It is summer, a summer from years before Ino is born. And not-Ino, a woman this time, is fighting a fire on the grassland. There was lightning and there was dry grass and now there's an inferno and even if the smoke stings her eyes, she cannot let it pass her. Behind her is her home, with all of her loved ones in, so she has to stop the fire, even if it burns her throat and singes her hair and the heat is drinking her lungs dry…
Ino took this woman's body and jumped off a cliff with it.
- - -
Ino is trapped in memories and the memories are not her own. She is losing herself, turning molten and liquid at the edges, and she cannot tell where she ends and the memories of every mind she's ever forced her way into begin.
Ino is no longer Ino and she hates that.
She can feel all of those minds inside her head, personalities warring with each other to come to the surface, to escape. She is only one delicate little girl – she does not have space for them inside of her.
Ino is bursting at the seams, coming apart.
She cannot hold herself together and she cries out in despair as, even as her comrades' hands hold her body fast, her mind sinks under the sea of memories…
- - -
It is autumn and Ino/Earth-nin is contemplating growing a beard to keep her/his face warm in the growing coolness. There is a festival, with hanging lanterns and the smell of cooking meat filling her/his hairy nostrils, and the music is all twanging mandolins and the beating of heavy drums. The rhythm thrums up through her/his legs and who wouldn't want to dance on a night like this…?
This man only died after Ino had used his body to slaughter his entire genin team and made him swallow his own suicide pill.
- - -
Distantly, she hears Chouji crying quietly.
Distantly, she hears Shikamaru yelling at Shizune to do something. The small part of her that is still conscious of just who Shikamaru is thinks this is odd – Shikamaru doesn't yell, he's too…
She cannot remember. She is fading and it's almost a relief.
Ino, or what's left of her, drifts. Her own memories mingle with those of the people she has killed.
- - -
It is winter and Ino is not herself. In fact, Ino is a man who cannot even remember where he came from. All he knows is this: there is snow, there is ice and he's painting all that purity crimson with blood. He giggles as he lovingly slits a throat, laughs joyfully when he spills a kunoichi's guts into the snow. He revels in the kill and he tastes salty rust when he licks the cheek of a young chuunin's cheek, just below the eye he'd rammed a kunai into…
Ino killed this man because he was abomination, but if she did so by entering the mind of an abomination, becoming an abomination, what did that make her?
- - -
The girl with no name floats. It is not lonely here because she isn't really herself, whomever that might be. No one here is alone because no one has any definition and all she needs to do is close her eyes and stop fighting, allow them to take her into their cool, loving embrace…
No one called Ino here.
No one aside from memories.
Ino, sweetheart, you're making Chouji cry.
Chouji…the girl with no name knows that name at least.
I always told you this would happen if you held onto them too tight.
Too tightly…? How was she supposed to let them go? She'd killed them, been with them as they died – letting go was not an option.
Aii…so stubborn. Well, you always did need your daddy's help.
There is someone else here, someone who isn't a memory, and the girl with no name cringes away from something that is far too alive for this place. The someone comes closer, turns into a blond man and – even though the memories whisper and wail and try to keep her with them – his face is one that she loves enough to pierce her reverie.
This place is for the dead, sweetheart. Yamanaka Ino does not belong here.
…she takes a breath. Suddenly there is distance, space in which she can be. The memories turn distant, drawn in colours that are not her own. It is a place to honour the dead, yes, but she does not need to be here. He is right – this is no place for a girl of sunshine and seduction such as herself.
Yamanaka Ino's exhale is a sob. "Please get me out of here, Daddy," she whispers.
Whatever you want, darling.
- - -
It is spring. Her teammates hands are warm in her own and her father is a solid weight at her back.
It is spring.
- - -
It seems I am incapable of writing in a tense that isn't the present one these days…
I wanted to work Sakura into this somehow, but Inoichi made me write him instead. Bloody pushy Yamanakas…
Anyway, there should be one hundred of these at the end, once I've used up all the themes. I wonder how long that will take me…