Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or any of its characters, merchandise, TV rights, ect… (I think you get the point.)


ONE SHOT – With you at my side I know I could do anything and go anywhere. There is nothing I couldn't do, but just don't ask me to live without you. (Neji/Ino)

Like all of my work this is just something that happened to float through the empty void inside my head. Like it or hate it please R and R as honest opinions are always welcomed, as are random acts of worship.

"Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished and persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot."

Lamb: As always sorry for any bad spelling and if you feel the need to throw things at me please wait until I've hidden behind the sofa kay!?

Dedi: This fic is dedicated to jin. toshikazu

Muse: On with the fic!

Nobody knows it but you've got a secret smile,
And you use it only for me,
So save me I'm waiting,
I'm needing, hear me pleading,
And soothe me, improve me,
I'm grieving, I'm barely believing now, now,

Fragile Strength

Hyuuga Neji stood in the doorway of his bedroom watching his sleeping lover carefully and fought down the familiar combination of fear and fury. He was incredibly worried about his increasingly fragile minded blonde, but there was little he could do to ease his worries. There was nothing he could do to make life easier on Yamanaka Ino which meant that he would have to continue picking up the shattered pieces of his lover's heart and mind.

But it seemed the harder he tried to put the girl back together forces beyond his control sort of rip her to shreds. One day he was sure that the girl he had fallen in love with would eventually be broken beyond repair and all that would be left would be a ragged bit of colour clinging to the tattered ruins of her life. Maybe, the dark haired male thought, he would have found it easier to cope with if the elements that were braking Ino down were doing it because they resented and disliked her. But they weren't.

Time and again she would tell him not to worry about her so much, that it was just the nature of the job she did and that she was really fine. Just a little over emotional really, nothing at all for him to fret over. She knew that he did not believe her. Both of them were well aware that someone could only be exposed to so much darkness before it had a lasting effect.

Rapists, murdering sadists, the sick and twisted degenerates the world spat out and it was into the heads of these people that Ino went day in and day out. Each time loosing a little of what she was as she became just a touch more indifferent to what they did. Into the heads of the surviving victims, looking for clues that would help them apprehended those that committed such atrocities. Reliving the horrors that they had had to endure and feeling their emotions as her own.

Sighing Neji pushed away from the doorframe and walked over to the bed. He climbed on slowly trying not to disturb the sleeping flower as he slipped his arms around the girl's lithe and slender frame. Ino stirred briefly murmuring something inaudible under her breath, but didn't wake instead she simply rolled onto her side and snuggled into the shinobi's strong chest. The opal eyed male pressed a gentle kiss to the top of his lover's head wondering what it was that she had been forced to endure this time.

He had a strong feeling that it was somehow connected to the meeting he and several other members of the Konoha Twelve had had with the Godaime Hokage earlier that day. At long last they had finally been given a lead on a man who had been abducting young girls throughout Fire Country. Their bodies were normally found a week or so later, horrifically mutilated but with never so much as a hint of who the attacker had been.

Flash Back

In close to twenty years, a high percentage of which he had spent as and active ninja, Hyuuga Neji had seen many things. And yet the slight of the girl's body made his skin crawl and his stomach writhe. Beside him he heard Tenten gag and even is normally exuberant team-mate and their eccentric sensei could do nothing at first but look on in dull horror.

It had been a rare treat for them to be assigned to the same mission; the youngest daughter of the Lord of The Land of Honey had been abducted. It should have been relatively straight forward, but no less than a days walk from Mitsu no Kuni they had been assaulted by the stench of blood and death. Thick, ripe and very, very fresh.

They had changed course and within less than half an hour had come across the body of the young girl. Her dark skin and hair as well as wide green eyes instantly identified her as the Lord's missing daughter. The ten year-old was naked, and lay on her back as if she had been left on display for the whole world to see, her arms pinned underneath her body and her legs splayed. The bruising on her thighs said rape and the bruising on the rest of her body said she had fought it as hard as she could.

But that had evidently not been enough to satisfy whoever had committed the atrocity. For they had then ripped apart her throat and slit her body from navel to neck so that her blood saturated the ground.

"Oh, poor sweet child." Tenten's voice was hardly more than a pained whisper and all Neji could do was nod his agreement while silently vowing that no matter what he would find the one who had violated the young girl in such a way.

End Flash Back

She had been the first, but in the last six months no fewer than eight other girls had been taken, their ages ranging from twelve to the youngest aged nine. And now the rumour was that in the last day or so one girl had been found alive and if that was the case then he knew just who had procured the much needed information from her and just how they had done so.

But the Hyuuga would have to wait for mind walker to wake up to be definite and then, if he was right, he would set about sorting out the absolute chaos the ANBU Torture and Interrogation Force had once again made of her head. Neji let his eyes slide shut as he cuddled his lover closer to him. Much more of this and he wouldn't care what it took. He'd kill every one of them stating with Morino Ibiki and the work his way down through the ranks. Kami help him but he'd see them all dead before he'd let them use his future wife to get inside then next psycho's skull.

When Ino woke up, blinking sleep out of tired light blue eyes, the Hyuuga was still holding her possessively tight. She smiled softly as she buried her face in the Byakugan using male's chest and wrapped long, slender fingers into the fabric of his shirt as her legs automatically went to wrap around his waist. Neji stirred, roused by the girl's activity and blinked before placing a kiss on the top of the blonde's head.

"You woke up." He whispered softly and Ino lifted her head enough to smile at her lover before nodding once in the affirmative. "What's wrong love? I came back from training and found you curled up in bed sound asleep looking as if you had been crying."

The Yamanaka sighed and rested her head against the pillows once more just inches away from the opal eyed male's beautiful face. With one hand she reached out and brushed aside the stray hairs that fell into his face, the lustrous dark brown strands smooth as silk against her skin. For a moment her fingertips traced over the leaf symbol on his hitai-ite under which both of them knew the caged bird seal of the Hyuuga branch house resided before her hand fell back to his chest.

"I'm fine love, I promise you there's nothing wrong. It's just this job. Sometimes I…" She trailed off, her gaze sliding away from his and screwed her eyes tightly shut as she tried to push aside memories that were not her own.

Fear rose briefly and I stumbled as the fog that filled my mind momentarily dissipated. Clarity of thought was like being dosed in ice water, something was wrong here. Something was very wrong and I had to get out of here now. I had to.

Pulling with all my might I wrenched my arm free of his grasp and lashed out desperately with a foot, catching him hard in the shin. But even as I started to run he lunged forward, grabbing my heel and yanking brutally. The world span and I came down hard face-first, blood sprayed and pain exploded. I screamed and thrashed, kicking out, trying to get him to release me.

Inch by bloody inch, I was being drawn inexorably toward him. Fighting with all my mite I pushed myself into a sitting position, scrabbled to grasp one of his fingers, hoping to snap the joint. He hit me with his free hand, the blow landing fiercely and snapping my head violently back. For the second time I hit the ground and for several seconds all I saw was stars.

By then he was on me, weight pinning my down. His legs pushing mine apart as he grabbed my wrists and held them above my head. "So, little one likes to play rough does she?"

"Ino…? Ino…? Ino…!?" She blinked convulsively and a shudder ran through her body as she mentally shook herself free. The child had been terrified and Ino, when she had had to enter the girl's mind, had felt that terror as her own.

Neji's flawless face contoured into a frown he had heard that familiar lie far too often and had seen to her reaction when other people's memories assaulted her. It was a state of events that he was not prepared to live with much longer. "If Ibiki keeps asking you to do this…"

He let the threat hang unsaid in the air between them. "No! It's not his fault; it's no ones fault. You protect the village in your way and I protect it in mine. And I can do this, it's what I've been trained for, what we've all been trained for."

What Ino didn't say was that she hadn't been trained to deal with what she felt when she entered other people's heads. The poor girl today, the victim of such horrific things, her mind had been all pain and thick arousal and overwhelming shame. Sweat had broken out across her skin and for several seconds it was all the kunoichi had been able to do to fight the compulsion to spin around and find the nearest male. Though whether it was to fuck him senseless or to beat him into a bloody pulp the blonde hadn't known.

"I don't think you've been trained to deal with half of what you're asked to do." He saw her outraged look, her mouth opening ready to object but continued before she could even draw breath. "But I don't think there is any form of training that could prepare anyone for the things you have to face."

"Thank you." Ino breath softly and catching his look of mild confusion elaborated. "For not forcing the issue."

"It's all right but I still want to talk to Ibiki or even the Godaime Hokage herself. Maybe if I explain the situation to her they'd agree to cut back on the amount that you're being asked to do. They don't want to loose your skills and I think risk of that might get them to see sense."

"Maybe." Ino conceded but smiled her thanks before she nodded and tried to move closer to her Hyuuga protégé. She knew that Neji would never back off completely, he cared about her far too much to be content to just sit by and watch her suffer. And truth be told, in spite of all her assurances, she wasn't sure how much longer she would be able to do all that was being asked of her.

Neji chuckled low in the back of his throat and twined their legs together before tugging the kunoichi closer and drawing her into a deep kiss that left them both breathless. "And I don't want to loose you at all."

Ino blushed slightly at the insinuation and depth of his admission but was more than happy to allow him to shift their positions so that he ended up straddling her and she could stare up into those beautiful opalescent eyes. She didn't know what to say so simply pulled him down towards her and pressed their lips together into a deep, searing kiss that would lead to much more.

The Yamanaka couldn't put into words all that the stoic often cold seeming shinobi made her feel. Not just wanted and desired, for they were things many had made her feel. What Neji offered was something she desired far more, he made her feel safe and loved and protected. When they were together it didn't matter about all the horrors she had witnessed through other people's eyes because when she was in his arms he was all she could see.

Please R and R I'd love to know what you thought.

Big love and inspiration