A/N: Well, everyone, here is the final chapter. I hope you all like it. Thanks a bunch for all the views and reviews. :)
Four sets of chopsticks clicked quietly as Ino, Shikamaru, Asuma, and Daisuke ate their meals.
"And you said that's the best you can do right now?" Asuma started, looking over at Ino and then her brunette teammate.
"Yeah," Ino muttered. "I'm still really new to the medical training, so I wasn't able to do much…"
"That's okay; I don't think he's in that bad a condition," Asuma sighed. "He won't be back up fighting for a while, but it's nothing serious, so don't worry about it."
"But it should have been me!" Ino blurted out.
"Not should have, would have. It's not your fault he decided to take the hit for you."
"I'm not sure about that," Ino muttered, looking down at the meal she had suddenly lost her appetite for.
"Hey, don't worry about it," Asuma reiterated. "It's no big deal."
"Right…" Ino stared blankly at her meal as the three others around the campfire continued eating. She looked back at the tent her unconscious teammate was in for a moment.
I'm sorry, Choji… This is all my fault. I…I should've been paying more attention. Then you wouldn't have had to get hurt for me…
I mean, stuff like this has happened before, she started, but this is the first time it's been this bad…
Was this just another attempt to tell me you love me? She sighed frustratedly. For Kami's sake, why can't you just say it?
She paused. But… it has happened before, so… maybe he wasn't just trying to "proclaim his love for me".
That, or he's been trying to do that this whole time.
Ino looked back over at Choji's tent, whose edges were flapping in the mild breeze.
…Could that be it?
"Hey, Ino." Ino jumped up a bit, looking over at her other teammate, who was now standing in front of her, holding an empty rice bowl. "You get to clean up supper today, remember?"
"Oh, yeah," Ino replied, standing up and sweeping some dirt off the backs of her legs that must have gotten there from the log she was sitting on. "Here." She tucked her bowl in her elbow and held out a hand, where Shikamaru placed his bowl.
"Thank you," Shikamaru replied, though he didn't sound particularly sincere about it.
Ino went around the campfire, where Asuma and Daisuke had by now finished their meals, and picked up their dirty dishes as well. She walked over to the stream the squad had found—it wasn't far from the campsite—and prepared to wash the dishes out.
Darn it, Choji! Have you really… been in love with me… the whole time…?
I… I guess it's been kind of obvious, now that I think about it… But…
Ino jerked up, almost dropping a rice bowl, as she turned to face the voice. "Choji! What are you doing up? Y-You should still be resting, a-and…"
"I just wanted to make sure you were okay," Choji grunted, leaning back against a tree.
"I-I'm perfectly fine!" Ino exclaimed. "But you can't be! Go and get some rest!"
"I will," Choji responded, "but I, uh, wanted to say thanks first. For, uh, healing me and everything."
"Well, what I did isn't going to help much if you keep moving around," Ino sighed, washing the next dish. "I'm guessing that's not all you came to tell me?"
"N-No, it's not…" Choji sighed, as if he suddenly couldn't decide what to say.
"So, what did you come to say?" Ino prodded, setting the bowls next to her.
"I…" Choji exhaled, sitting down next to his teammate. "D-Do you love me?" he finally blurted out.
Ino, taken by surprise, couldn't find her tongue for a moment. "I-I… I…" She sighed. "N-No, I-I really couldn't say that I'm in love with you… But…" She moved her hand over on the grass, her fingertips landing on Choji's.
"…Maybe I could be."