A/N: This is a Sakura/Ino yuri. This is rated M, for swearing, alcohol usage and sexual references. There will be another author's note at the end.
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. Obviously. I don't own anything that's not mine.
Chapter 25: I Hit a Neutral
I bid goodbye to Hinata who always made it her job to surprise me with a brief call every now and then. It was nice to hear from her; it was always nice to hear from her. My internship was tough, and I always needed a pick me up.
Sighing for perhaps the trillionth time that day I left the nurse's station and rolled the cart out of the ER.
Somewhere down the hall, in another room, a woman was wailing.
I'd grown hardened to wails of despair and loss. I'd heard them countless times before. At first they'd made me depressed, freezing me to the spot, but now…
After seeing people, fathers, mothers, children, die on the operating table… I barely flinched when I heard the cries of their loved ones.
To be frank, these deaths weren't often. My university's hospital was superb. But they did happen. Sometimes, there wasn't much you could do to save someone.
Sometimes, you just had to let them go.
But I've learned that letting go is hard.
"Haruno," I jumped, almost scattering the all of the items that needed to be sterilized.
We had successfully stitched up a girl who had been brought in from a car accident, unconscious. It wasn't a bad accident, but the fact she had been unconscious was what concerned us. She could've hit her head, but the most likely cause was shock.
I turned to see Shizune with an annoyed look on her face and not a single black hair on her head out of place.
"Tsunade said she wanted you to see her in her office," her face fell back into its usual state of neutrality, and she proceeded to take the cart from me and nudge me away.
I watched her walk away for a moment, still having trouble dissecting her character. She was quiet, yet demanding when she wanted to be. She didn't particularly favor me, yet she didn't dislike me. I guess she didn't like first year graduate student interns. Perhaps she was still mad about walking in on Tsunade and I using our mouths for something other than talking.
That had been a strange day. I didn't really know what to do. My boss/ professor was coming onto me, and I felt that if I rejected her, my medical career would be ruined before it could even lift off. After we finished making out, she hit me over the head for "being a cowardly slut (albeit a good kisser)" and advised me that I'd probably find myself in a situation like that again because I was a woman and that she wanted me to "do what is right" even if that meant losing a great job. I never got around to explaining to Shuizune about what happened.
It hadn't taken me long to discover their relationship, after that fiasco. Shizune was a bundle of emotion for a while after that. Tsunade didn't seem phased at all. If Shizune hadn't hated me before then, she hated me afterwards. Her deep brown, almost black, eyes were constantly on me. I found it unnerving because I didn't like being watched.
As I watched her walk off, I smiled, however. She was looking out for me; I could've taken care of the dirty medical supplies and taking them was her way of saying we were at an understanding. She knew how Tsunade got sometimes, and had probably forgiven me for what happened (but hey, it wasn't my fault anyways). Tsunade favoring me was due to my medical knowledge and ease of learning. I was her favorite student.
With a smile I headed away from the ER and up a few stories so I could get to her office. I spared some passing visitors, patients, nurses, and doctors brief smiles as I walked and rode the elevator. That was one thing this job was forcing me to do—work with people. I didn't find it as difficult as I thought I would. Though, I did often get comments from little kids about my hair, some of which weren't all that kind. I didn't want to be known as the "crazy doctor" but honestly, I didn't really care much about what they thought.
I knocked on Tsunade's office door and she beckoned me in. In the office sat my mentor and another woman. I'd seen her before, and felt a bit of my defensive side peak its way out from inside. Inner Sakura was attempting to resurface due to jealousy and embarrassment.
"Oh, Sakura," Tsunade said as I entered the room.
The other woman turned and gave me a smug smirk.
"Hello Sakura," she said, and I blushed.
"Hello Kurenai," I muttered, glancing away from the woman's piercing brown eyes.
Tsunade, unable to keep her laughter in, began laughing madly. I pouted and crossed my arms, not wanting to relive my embarrassing moments with the beautiful woman.
"Oh come on, just let it go," I huffed and Kurenai chuckled at my embarrassment. She brushed her hair back, pinning Tsunade with a look. While doing this, I thought back to when I first saw her, just about a year before.
I rang the doorbell, unsure of the address. This was the first time I'd be going to Rina's house. I'd been spending a lot of time with Rina, because she had just broken up with Temari and was having a hard time with grasping the fact that Temari was scum and she had merely been seduced.
As I waited impatiently for someone to answer the door, I thought back to how I felt when I found out that Temari had just been playing with me. I was convinced we were in love… it was hard, but I got over i, with help from Hinata and Ino (who knew nothing of my homosexuality then).
It was Rina's dad who opened the door. He was on the phone and he looked at me and silently beckoned me in with a hand gesture. I'd met him plenty of times and he'd always been nice to me.
After shutting the door, he pointed up towards the 2nd floor and I nodded my understanding. Rina was in her room. Having never been to the house, I made my way upstairs and tried the first door I got to. Opening it up, I found it to be empty. There was a large, king-sized bed within it, and I assumed it was her parents room, granted that there were no k-pop posters everywhere.
The next door I tried was the bathroom. When I opened the door, the rug caught it about halfway, and it refused to open any further.
Annoyed with my ill luck, I tried another door. As soon as I opened the door, I knew it was her room. It was fairly frigid in comparison to the rest of the house, and it smelled like Rina. A somewhat fruity, yet placid scent—it was very pleasing to the nose, like freshly sliced apples.
However, all of the details of her room faded into my peripheral as soon as I laid eyes on Rina, and someone else. Sitting on the bed was Rina, and she was in someone's embrace. A woman with somewhat unruly black hair was kissing her all over her face and petting her head.
"Oh," I uttered in embarrassment, realizing I had walked in on Rina and a lady friend. The woman looked up and her beauty momentarily stunned me—if there was a single word I would use to describe her, it'd have to be hot (and I wasn't trying to be disrespectful in any way). Her piercing brown eyes looked up in surprise at me and Rina's face was stained in an unforgiving blush as she buried her face into the woman's neck.
"Sorry," I squeaked, feeling epically uncomfortable as I stepped back and shut the door. I swiftly made my way downstairs and was almost out the door when I heard Rina pursuing me.
"Wait," she called out to me, before I decided to stop. I didn't really have a reason to be running. I was just uncomfortable, albeit a little mad (due to the fact she had invited me over without saying a thing about this woman) and a great deal surprised. I'd never expected Rina to date older women. I mean I hadn't expected her to be dating so soon after breaking up with Temari either. And her dad! He'd just sent me upstairs, without any word of another visitor. Didn't he care his daughter was alone in her room with a woman so much older than her?
"Where are you going?" she looked at me with a frown. Her lower lip was quivering.
"I, um, I didn't know you had other company," I said, watching her face take on a confused look. "It's just… wow, she's pretty hot, yeah? I wasn't expecting it, that's all. I didn't know you liked older women…"
Her look of confusion, morphed into a look of hesitant humor, and finally she began to laugh. She covered her face with her hands briefly before shaking her head.
"Sakura," she said. I looked up to see that her brown eyes were red and lacquered, hinting at a recent bout of tears. "That was my mom."
And then it dawned on me. Her mom. The woman had been hugging her, petting her head, and kissing her cheeks in an attempt to make her feel better. She wasn't trying to seduce her—she was comforting her!
"Holy shit, that's your mom?" I was so surprised. Rina's mom was beautiful, but it wasn't until she had uttered those words that I saw their physical similarities. The hair and the eye color, the cute nose and the lips. Rina was just a younger, less sexy version of the woman (though I was sure the sexiness would come with age).
And if things couldn't get any more embarrassing for me, her mom appeared behind me.
"Yes, I'm Rina's 'pretty hot' mom."
I was sure my face was redder than a tomato at that point, but I turned to face her.
"Uh, hi," I offered her my hand, attempting to keep my eyes pinned to hers and not let them stray, because there were other things about her that were sexy, aside from her face. I refused to let myself get caught staring.
"You must be Sakura," she said with a small, assessing smile. I was a bit worried; she looked like she was strict. "It's nice to meet you. You can just call me Kurenai, or' hot mom' if you really want to."
"Mom!" Rina exclaimed, embarrassed.
"What? It's not everyday I get to meet the pink haired girl who turned my daughter into a lesbian," she said offhandedly. I blushed and Rina blushed, looking like she wanted to disappear.
"I'm not a lesbian!" she screamed in embarrassment. This was true. Rina was totally bi.
"Ah, don't worry about that and go have fun with your cute little friend," she said, ruffling her daughter's hair before leaving us be.
One of our usual silences slipped between us before I said, "I can't believe this… your mom is super hot. And she's really young. And your dad… well, you always say he's old, but he's never looked old to me at all, and I'm just really confused."
"This is really weird. Can you stop calling my mom hot? And she's really not that young…"
"Erm, yeah… sorry about that. I wasn't expecting that at all… let's just forget this even happened. Look, I brought some movies with me. Let's just watch them, ok?"
I loathed the fact that Kurenai and Tsunade were fairly good friends and the story of my embarrassment was shared once she knew I was interning under Tsunade.
"Aw, come on Sakura, it's a good laugh," Kurenai smiled smartly.
"Yeah, yeah," I scoffed taking the only other empty seat in Tsunade's office.
"Well, I'm off now. Sakura's mom and I have a shopping date!" and with that she strutted out of the office.
Damn, I was sure I would never get over the fact that she had the most perfect legs ever.
"If she wasn't married," Tsunade sighed dreamily.
"Huh?" with that comment, she had my attention. Didn't she have Shizune? No need to be a pig.
"Sakura," she finally decided to get on track. She leant forward; her wheat blonde bangs slipped into her face. My eyes strayed from her light brown eyes to her tantalizing cleavage. Her breasts were practically spilling out of her low cut shirt.
Suddenly, pain bloomed on the top of my head and I realized she'd hit me! Cradling my cranium, I complained.
"Hey! What the fuck? Are you trying to give me a concussion?"
"People with big heads don't get concussions," she said matter-of-factly, and I knew there was no truth to her words. She was just trying to piss me off.
"Oh, well you would know," I bit back, sticking my tongue at her while rubbing away the pain. "It's not my fault your boobs are hanging out."
Tsunade had rather large breasts.
"Look, we could go back and forth all day, or you tell me exactly why you want the rest of the day off."
I froze on spot, giving her an incredulous look.
"We already talked about this," I said worriedly. "You already ok'd my leave."
"Oh yeah," she said, seeming to suddenly remember. "Well, one of the nurses called in sick, so you, as an intern, have to fill in."
"You've gotta be kidding me," I said, instantly downhearted.
"Whoa, calm down. I'm just kidding… are you about to cry?"
I looked up into her stoic expression and shook my head.
"No," I lied.
She gave me a knowing smile.
"You know, Sakura, despite our disagreements, we know a lot about each other. "
"…Can I leave now?" That was a discussion I didn't want to start at that time.
She gave me an irritated look, but leant back in her chair and rolled her pretty brown eyes. Tsunade was very attractive—she had a sophisticated kind of beauty, but in reality, she was a really lighthearted person once away from the work place. She was easy going and a bit too keen for the bottle. It was a surprise to run into her at every bar I went to after I turned 21. And I never really enjoyed that, granted that at the beginning, she was nothing but a professor to me, and it was uncomfortable to have her drunkenly hit on me at the bar, and then have to sit through her 8AM seminar the following Tuesday.
"Sure, whatever. Thank Shizune on your way out. She said she'd cover the remainder of your night shift for you."
I smiled, nodded, and dashed out of her office.
Today was shaping up to be a perfect day. I hoped into my car, noting that it was beginning to get a bit chilly out and drove home. I was living with my mom now; well, when she was in town. She'd bought a nice, three-room flat near my university, just to be able to spend more time with me. She asked me to live with her, and I at first declined her offer. Why settle for living with my mom, when she had promised me she would pay for my living arrangements once I started graduate school?
She had proposed this my final year of undergrad. My scholarship covered tuition and board so she had only been paying for my books and meal plan. Eventually, I realized that it wouldn't be such a bad thing. Our relationship had been healing, and she'd be saving herself the trouble of purchasing two apartments the following year. She bought me a car and she generally left me alone when I said I wanted to be left alone. Half the time, she was off in other places for photo shoots.
When I got home, I shed my clothes in my room and quickly hoped into the shower. I was running low on time.
I had to admit, it was nice to not have to share a bathroom and shower with strangers.
It didn't take me long to blow-dry my hair and fix it just how I liked it. I ironed my clothes, put them on, and left the house in a rush.
In my mind, I had formulated exactly how this evening would play out, countless times. I was all about perfection. I wouldn't screw this up.
Fifteen minutes later, the building that served as my first destination came into view. I put my trusty little Toyota in park and I coolly got out of the car and walked up to the door. As soon as I opened it, the fresh sent of flower petals drifted about as the entry bell rang. I saw no one was at the counter, but just as soon as I noted that, she poked her head out of one of the aisles.
"Oh, Sakura," she seemed startled and offered me a hesitant smile.
"Hey Ino," I smiled back at her, confidently.
"You're… early," she checked the clock posted on one of the aisles of tall refrigerators filled with bouquets and other flower arrangements. The potted plants section was being watered by an automatic, misting water machine, in a similar fashion the produce was at supermarkets.
"Yeah, well, I just didn't want to be late," I blushed, giving the place a quick look over. I looked back at Ino and she smiled at me with a cute giggle.
"Hmm, well let me just put these flowers where they need to be."
She disappeared completely into the aisle and I looked around a bit more. They sold flower seeds too. I ended up to just watching Ino finish up her job, mildly humored. She always complained about having to cover the store for her parents because they were having trouble finding qualified florists to work there. Ino was always ranting about how it interfered with her work with the EPA, but I could tell she really loved the shop. She was the perfect caretaker for those flowers, and she looked perfect amongst them.
Ino's hair had grown long, once again. It was at its silkiest and it always smelled like flowers. Her eyes were deep, and darkened with maturity—however, they still managed to challenge the cloudless summer skies.
Her return into my life was… strange. After we had broken up, I'd found myself in a dark place. Nothing seemed good anymore. Nothing seemed like it was worth it. But, as every heartbreak went, I had to move on. It went from me thinking about Ino constantly to me only thinking of her every now and then. I didn't bother dating anymore, making sure I had no time at all for that. I barely had time for friends—yes friends. Rina had forgiven me for breaking Temari's nose and Temari had apologized for flirting with me and invading my personal space; we had come to an understanding that we could be friends, but she had to stop trying to ruin my love life (not that that mattered, because I hadn't been dating). Hinata, Naruto, Shikamara, and Lee talked to me every now and then, but aside from that, I isolated myself. I was in a bad place, emotionally, and I didn't even know how I'd react to different people.
Eventually, I mellowed out. I hit a neutral, and I couldn't surpass or fall beneath it. I accepted that and lived my life. I graduated, fully prepared to take on the world, landed a great internship, and mended my relationship with my mother. My dad and stepmom were expecting a child. I'd have a sibling—the thought itself was… strange, but delightful at the same time.
Yet, things still seemed dull and empty. And then… well, Ino and I ran into one another.
Suddenly, all of those feelings I thought I had repressed so many years before came flooding back to me. I knew that was how it was going to be. Even seeing someone who looked a little like her made me remember my feelings and love—made me hurt, just a little.(1) But this was different. When Ino returned… it was…
Her blue eyes stared into my green for the longest time, waiting for a reply, but I couldn't bring myself to speak. I was afraid of what I might say. I hesitantly parted my lips to speak but she beat me to it.
"Hey," I replied back to her. She assessed me for a split second and shook her head.
"Wow, I wasn't… what I mean to say is… well, this is unexpected," she finally got out.
I nodded at her, still unable to speak.
"How's it going? How have you been?" she was eager to talk. Eager to know. What? What did she want to know? How I've been without her? If I was doing something with my life?
"Ok," I said shrugging. Before I had seen her, I was in a rush to get to the bank to cash my paycheck… Now…. Well, now I had no idea what I wanted to do.
She gave me a worried smile and I smiled back at her—sort of. I bet she was worried I was still hurting because of her. But honestly, it had been three years and I was ok.
Of course, the rest of what followed was expected. Being so aloof with her apparently shrouded me in mystery and she wanted to figure me out. We had dinner at my house with my mom, and then we had sex. (2)
Just thinking about it still confused me. I hadn't even really thought about it. It had all seemed so natural, like we had been doing so for years—dinner with my mom, and then sex. We repeated this process a couple more times.
That was, until I decided I'd had enough. During our ninth dinner (yes, I was counting, but subconsciously of course), I turned to her and said in a matter of fact way, "Ino, we're not a couple. This isn't what I want."
My mom kind of gave us a confused look and excused herself, complaining about confusing lesbians and my lack of conversational skills.
I then spent the following fifteen minutes pouring my heart out to Ino, but telling her that I just couldn't bring myself to love her as I did before and that since that was the case, I couldn't enjoy the two of us together. Ino looked genuinely hurt.
Ino and I kept in touch, and a strange sort of comfortably awkward relationship developed between us. After a couple of months, I realized that this relationship we had found ourselves in was the best we could have. Not best friends, not girlfriends, not enemies, not lovers—but something else. Something that comes after all of those strange stages; something better.
We'd been through a lot.
I turned to see she was no longer standing in front of me. I went back to the counter of the small shop and grabbed a couple red and white peppermints in the mint bowl. I loved their free mints—they satiated my once a month desire for sweets.
"You're so weird," Ino teased before handing me the bouquet I had come for.
I shrugged before saying, "I don't know how else to be."
I smiled at her, before giving her the money for the beautiful arrangement of whites and blues and purples. They smelled delightful.
"Thank you; I can see you put a lot of effort into this."
"She'll love them," Ino sighed dreamily with a cute smile.
I left the store, feeling rather good about myself, still convinced I was having a good day. I rolled down my windows and sang, terribly out of tune with the radio. I realized how different I was now. Ino was different too. Perhaps Karma had dealt her a hand for the way she used to be, but now she was different, and she deserved better. Had she wanted me the way she wanted me now, years earlier, I could've been that better. But, that's just not how things turned out. "We put our feet just where they had to go."(3) It was weird, how someone who was so sure she didn't love me, could turn around and love me the way she said she couldn't. But, whatever the case, I was sure we'd both find happiness. I was almost certain I had found mine.
As I pulled into the driveway of my final destination, I abandoned those thoughts on the street. I refused to look back.
I hadn't even shut my door when I was tackled in a tight hug. Suddenly, the scent of freshly sliced apples reached my nose, and I knew that she was finally in my embrace. I had missed her so much. I hadn't seen her in so long. I hugged her back as tightly as I could without ruining the bouquet.
She pulled back and I smiled at her. She was so beautiful.
"Oh, I've missed you sooooo much!" she gushed, and I blushed at her. She looked so much older than I remembered. Her webcam did her no justice.
"Me too," I smiled. I offered her the flowers awkwardly and she smiled, pulling me into the house. I watched silently as she bustled about the kitchen, making sure the flowers we properly taken care of. It was then I noticed a different scent. She had prepared dinner.
"Please don't tell me you got off your flight and didn't even rest," I chided and she blushed.
"I couldn't sleep, even if I wanted!" she exclaimed. "I figured you'd be hungry anyways. You work such terrible hours."
Her pretty brown eyes narrowed as that usually did when she smiled and I could only smile back goofily.
"Rina, can I kiss you?'
I know it seems like a dumb question, but I still wasn't sure where I stood with her, relationship wise. Rina didn't live anywhere near me any longer. She was completing her graduate studies at the best engineering school in the nation. It just so happened, that school was over a 9-hour drive from where I was doing graduate studies. We talked on the phone as much as school and work permitted, and we had Skype video-session every now and then too.(4) Over the past year, my feelings for Rina seemed to develop surprisingly fast. It had gotten to the point that hearing her voice on the phone was all that I looked forward to any more and if I didn't hear from her, I got unreasonably cranky. I took it upon myself to tell her that, and asked her to be my girlfriend during one of our video-sessions. She smiled and accepted, happily. Aside from our "I miss you" admittances taking on a different meaning, our relationship seemed to stay the same.
I hadn't ever told her that I loved her. I did love her, but I was foolishly afraid. The last time I told a girl I loved her, we broke up, but I suppose that didn't matter.
Rina's cheeks took on the brightest blush I had ever seen her sport.
She was beautiful. She would always be beautiful to me.
"Yes, of course," she said before shortening the distance between us.
I angled my head and kissed her soft, moist lips tenderly as she brought her arms up to drape them over my shoulders. Her lips parted gently and we prolonged the kiss. I'd never felt so alive in my life. I reluctantly pulled away, not wanting to overkill our first kiss together as a proper couple. My eyes began to water and I sighed deeply, happy.
Today was a perfect day. Tomorrow would be a perfect day too. And the day after that. As long as I had Rina. As long as we had one another.
"I love you," she said without hesitation. Her deep brown eyes gazed at me with love I knew was as old as the time we had known one another. I smiled, and kissed her again, claiming her warm lips as my own.
"I love you too," I replied gently, imagining the days to come with Rina by my side.
1- I hate this. =/ When you're trying to get over someone and you keep seeing people who look like him/her. TOTALLY HEARTBREAKING. lol
2- True love never dies... or in this case "WTF SAKURA? AGAIN! DON'T YOU EVER LEARN?"
3- Lol, song lyrics? Not really my style, but it's just one of those lines that will forever stick wtih me. I thought it was fitting.
4- Skype anyone? :3 lol, jk, that program makes my comp run soooooooooo slowwwww.
A/N: lol, so please tell me I had you going with the flower shop scene for a moment there. :P So, I know I said this was an Ino/sakura fic, but it was primarily them, right? People come and go-love comes and goes. And Rina is awesome, right? Well, everyone, this is the end here. I really hope you liked the story. :D I just want to thank everyone for reading and reviewing! It's been a fun ride! Anyways, let me know what you thought of this chapter and/or what you thought of this story as a whole.
As for future projects, I do hope to write a Naruto canon story (which the pairing would be Ino/Sakura-seriously this time, lol) and an InuYasha AU in which the pairing would be (Sango/Kagome), both of these stories will be deviating from my usual teenaged high school angst trend. With that said, I'm having a bit of trouble writing (with a few additional hinderences) and I'm not too sure either story will be out anytime soon. I guess I'll be taking a break from writing to get things together. That doesn't mean I'll be gone forever though! Thank you so much for sticking with me for so long; it's been nice getting to know some of you. :3
So long for now,