A/N: so this is one of my old Choji/Ino oneshots that I cleaned up and re-posted. Sorry to all that may have read it before (all three of you ;D). I'm debating on whether to make a story of this, so we'll see, depending on the feedback. As always, if you like it, R&R, it motivates me. And, trust me, not much does that right now! Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto
Ino waited at the gate to the village with Sakura. Today was the day her team would finally return. Well, her former team. They had been part of Team Ino-Shika-Cho since they were children. Second generation Ino-Shika-Cho, actually—as their fathers had been teammates during their own Academy days.
"Where are they?" Ino asked, frustrated as she flicked her hair from her face.
She swatted a mosquito away from her, preventing the feast it was about to indulge in on her arm . The summer humidity made her skin damp with moisture, and her hair was beginning to stick to the back of her neck, a feeling she hated. She quickly sat on the grass next to the entrance to Konoha, as Sakura silently sat next to her.
"I'm sure they will be here soon," Sakura responded, picking at the grass.
They had just finished their rounds at the clinic, and her pink-haired friend had offered to wait with her. Ino was glad for the company, though she would never share that with Sakura. Despite being close friends, their harmless rivalry still ensued.
"Choji probably found something to eat, or is just being plain slow," Ino complained ruefully.
She smiled at the thought of her former teammate's constant desire to eat. While she found ways to cut calories, he was always finding a way to eat more calories than a normal male his age should eat. She had tried to intervene at one point, years earlier, but he had simply refused her pleas to become more fit. Ino had told him of the dangers of heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, and a plethora of other complications that were the result from excessive weight gain. Despite being a shinobi, she could never understand how he kept that much weight on his body. She thought back to an earlier tryst, where she had practically pleaded with him...for his own good, she had told him. Choji had waved his hand dismissively, as he finished his bag of chips.
"I have to be this big," he had mumbled between bites. "I'm naturally big-boned, Ino. Besides, half of the secret Akimichi Clan Techniques require me to turn my extra chunk into chakra. No chunk would equal no chakra," he had explained.
She had simply rolled her eyes at his explanation, thinking it quite lame. Shikamaru had shrugged his indifference. He didn't care one way or another how Choji looked—they had been best friends since childhood. Choji was one of the most kind-hearted people he knew, and sometimes he wished Ino would look past appearances. Sometimes, Ino wished she could, as well.
"Ino—," Sakura began, her tone stern as she interrupted Ino's daydreaming.
Ino sighed, "I know, I know. I'm a bitch. But, it's difficult to look this good!"
She grinned her playfulness. Despite her picking, she really did care about Choji. She was worried about his health, for one. Secondly, she truly didn't care what he looked like, though she would never admit it. Over the years, she had slowly began to realize that looks will fade, but bonds will always remain. Most of her facade was for the mere purpose of keeping people on their does around her. The more vain people thought her to be, the more she could get away with. Ino knew it was a despicable ruse, but she had gotten this far with it, so why not continue it until it was frowned upon? Besides, it kept most of her unwanted suitors away from her, mostly because they felt they had no chance.
Sakura rolled her eyes. It was a typical Ino statement. She had been obsessed with staying fit since their childhood, constantly comparing herself to other kunoichi in Konoha. In fact, Ino was currently instructing an aerobics class a couple mornings every week. Sakura had to admit that Ino did look great. Though her constant dieting was worrisome—as it wasn't necessarily a healthy means to a fantastic body.
The sun was beginning to lower in the evening sky, and Ino was now becoming visibly impatient in her swatting at the invisible buzzing insects around her, "Where the hell are they? They are nearly two hours late!"
Her tone was fluctuating from annoyed to worried. Perhaps something had come up? Or gone wrong? She hoped it was the former. Shikamaru was usually the tardy of the three, but they were only coming from Sunagakure. They had spent the last six months helping Gaara on some top secret mission. He had requested help from Tsunade, and the Hokage had responded by sending a handful of jonin to Sand—Choji and Shikamaru being two of the lucky ones. Ino would have gone as well, but was hindered because of the finals for her medical training.
She wondered if Temari had finally sank her claws into Shikamaru. It was only a matter of time, as he was the only man who may actually put up with the horrible woman. Ino had never been fond of Temari, as she thought Gaara's sister was far too arrogant. Besides, Ino thought, she's not that skilled. Ino didn't care one way or another if Shikamaru and Temari were dating, despite her dislike of the Kazekage's sibling. Shikamaru needed someone who would keep him in line, and Ino had no doubt that Temari would do just that. She smirked at the sudden image that formed in her head. I bet she'd knock him around, she thought mischievously.
"I think that's them!" Sakura stood quickly, holding her hand over her brow to shade her light green eyes from the bright, setting sunlight.
Ino squinted in the direction Sakura had indicated. "I think that's Shikamaru…but who's that with him?"
She, too, stood as she eyed the stranger next to Shikamaru. The man was about six inches taller than Shikamaru, his body lean and muscular, from what she could see. Ino could smell muscle from a mile away. She licked her lips in appreciation of the firm male body.
Someone new! she thought giddily. I hope he's cute!
"That," Sakura whispered, "is Choji!" The whites of her eyes showed as she widened them in surprise.
"No way!" Ino hissed. That. Was. Not. Choji. No way! "He's too skinny to be Choji! Hello? It's Choji we are talking about!"
"I know," Sakura shot back. "But who else do you know that would have those patterns on his cheeks? Or that kanji on his armor?"
Ino squinted toward the symbol on the front of the…red shirt…. "You've got to be fucking kidding me!" she gasped. Choji!
"Hey Sakura! Ino!" The muscular man waved his armored arm enthusiastically. Shikamaru nodded his head in greeting.
Typical Shikamaru move. Six months of not seeing his friends, and this is how he reacts, Ino thought. She couldn't tear her eyes from this new man coming toward the two women. It really is Choji! But…how? she asked herself.
She studied his new frame. He was wearing his usual red shirt and dark, long pants. They hugged his body in a way only Ino would appreciate. His armor covered his well-toned arms and chest. She could see the build of his newly hardened frame under his clothes. His hair had been cut, and was currently in disarray around his head. Sexily disheveled, Ino thought, before realizing she was thinking about…Choji!
Ino glanced beside her, noticing that Sakura, too, was appreciating the change. The blonde suddenly felt a stab of almost protective jealousy at the way the pink-haired kunoichi was staring at her friend—her teammate!
"Put your eyes back in your head, Forehead," Ino growled under her breath. Sakura said nothing, quickly realizing that her mouth was hanging open.
The two men were feet from the women when Choji pulled both Sakura and Ino into a massive hug. Ino was in shock as she was forced against a rock hard wall of muscle. She was tempted to reach out and touch it to make sure it was real.
Oh, it's real! her mind naughtily replied. Even Sakura was blushing from the close contact with Choji. It wasn't that she had thought him unattractive, but it was more that he just hadn't been her type.
"Hi to you too, Choji!" she said, pushing her pink hair from her face. "You look…great!" She eyed him appreciatively. Almost too appreciatively. Ino cast a warning glance at her childhood friend.
"So, Ino, I heard from Shikamaru that you are officially a medic-nin. Congrats!" Choji beamed.
Ino studied his newly angular face as his forehead protector reflected the sunlight that glistened in his hair. She had never seen him in this light before—both figuratively and literally speaking. Sakura elbowed the blonde medic.
"Uh, er, y-yeah!" Ino stuttered, as Shikamaru studied her with narrowed eyes. She avoided his dark gaze of scrutiny. Choji ran his hand through his hair, looking at the ground, obviously misunderstanding the reason for the unspoken discomfort.
"Yeah, uh, so I lost some weight…," he blushed, his eyes downcast.
Some weight? Ino's brain shrieked. Just some? She realized her mouth was hanging open, and swiftly closed it.
"Really? I didn't notice," Ino casually replied. Shikamaru snorted, and Ino sent him a warning glare. Even Sakura had to suppress a smile. She knew exactly what Ino was thinking. "Your hair—it, uh, it looks pretty good! Nice h-haircut!"
"Thanks, Ino!" Choji smiled, as he put his arm around both Shikamaru and Ino's shoulders. "Sorry, Sakura," he told the Team Seven medic, "It's a Team Ino-Shika-Cho moment!"
"Completely understandable," Sakura gestured emphatically. The trio had not seen each for almost half of a year, and hadn't been a team for much longer. They were all much older than their younger genin days, and it was nice to relax with old friends. Sakura understood that feeling...
"I was only keeping Ino company while she waited for you guys! I'm gonna head back to Ichiraku's, I promised Naruto I'd meet him for ramen."
"Oh, I'm hungry, I'll go with you," Ino offered. "You guys hungry?" she asked, turning and looking at both Choji and Shikamaru.
"Nah," Choji replied. "I, uh, should be going home to see Mom and Dad. You two go ahead, I'll catch up with you guys later!" he waved his goodbye, before walking into the village, his head held high. It was the first time Ino had seen him walk with such confidence. Part of her felt sorry for Choji—it was as if he had released some unspoken burden he had always carried with him.
Ino stared after Choji, this time allowing her jaw hanging open. "Close your mouth, Ino. You're practically drooling."
"I am not!" she said, defensively. "I-I just can't believe he t-turned down food!" she huffed.
"Well, in the words of Naruto, 'believe it'. He's a changed man." Shikamaru nodded in the direction Choji had walked.
He had a feeling that Ino was culminating some naughty ideas in her head, as it wasn't so unexpected of his vain friend. He had a deep–rooted respect for the blonde woman, but she was quite shallow when it came to attractive men. And he didn't want Choji to be an object of attraction for her, considering she had looked past him all these years, despite Choji's obvious crush on her.
"Ino…" he began.
"Hmm?" she said, her eyes dreamily focusing on him.
"Don't hurt him. He doesn't deserve that," Shikamaru warned, "This isn't one of your conquests. It's not a game. It's the same old Choji you looked past all these years..."
"What makes you think I'm interested in…Choji?" she angrily replied, hurt by Shikamaru's words, despite the truth in them.
"Because," Shikamaru retorted, feeling slightly sorry for his earlier lashing, "your jaw is practically dragging on the ground."
It had been months since the Nara and Akimichi offspring returned to Konoha from the Sand-Leaf mission. Choji's sudden change in appearance had created quite a stir, especially with the young, available women in the village. Ino was tired of hearing girls whisper about Choji like he was some object. She had even threatened to beat some young teen to a bloody pulp for her vulgarity in discussing Ino's former teammate. She felt oddly defensive of her friend, despite the fact that he was receiving so much well-deserved attention. Hell, Ino couldn't deny that he would be a catch for any woman in the village. Too bad she didn't want aboard that train.
It wasn't like she was attracted to him. It was Choji, that they were talking about, here. She just didn't want someone as kind-hearted and loving as him to be objectified in such a manner. Sakura had merely tsk-ed at Ino's explanation, unconvinced of her blonde friend's words. She knew Ino much better than Ino knew herself, it appeared.
Ino had seen Choji only a handful of times since his return. He had been training every day since they came home from Sand. Shikamaru had informed Ino that Choji had been severely injured on their mission and suffered an infection from his wounds. This ultimately led to his drastic weight loss. After he recovered, he had lost his normal, boisterous appetite, substituting it for that of someone other than an Akimichi Clan member. It wasn't that he didn't want to eat so much, it was that he couldn't bring himself to—he just wasn't hungry. That, combined with their intense training, resulted in the man that escorted Shikamaru back to Konohagakure. Choji had shared with Ino and Shikamaru that his parents were not happy with his new appearance.
"Yeah, Mom cried for days. Dad even cried for a few hours. He's adjusting better than she is, though," he muttered over his tea.
His mom had tried to entice his appetite by making all of his favorite foods, but he had no real desire to eat like he used to. When he explained that to her, she suffered another bout of tears. His dad seemed to understand, though, worried that Choji's ability to use the clan's Secret Technique would be greatly inhibited by his lack of body fat that he could convert into chakra.
"I think it's more about calories being converted into chakra, not fat," he sighed. "I think it's just an excuse for the Akimichi Clan to eat so much."
"Perhaps, but it has its merit and uses," Shikamaru nodded.
"Yes, it does," Choji agreed, "but I'm not that boy anymore."
No. No you are not, Ino thought hazily.
She had begun to find ways to run into Choji outside of their weekly lunches. She felt guilty for the years that she looked at him as a bigger man, instead of who he truly was. She wanted to take the time to really get to know him. Properly. And, perhaps some of it was for her own guilty purposes, though she was in major denial that she had a crush on…Choji. Of all people! She felt Shikamaru kick her under the table. She quickly cast him a glance, to find him glaring angrily at her. He briefly shook his head, and she sat back in her chair. Perhaps she was running her finger around the rim of her glass too much. She lifted it to take a drink, changing her thoughts into something more productive.
"So, what are your plans tonight?" Ino asked casually.
Choji's face turned bright red at the question, but he remained silent. Ino studied his face, confused by his expression.
"I'm relaxing," Shikamaru interrupted, crossing his arms over his chest. "Choji," he nodded to his left, "has a date."
Ino's eyes flew open as she stared at Choji, "What?" A date!
"Yeah…uh, I'm going out, I guess," Choji mumbled, embarrassed.
"With who?" Ino leaned forward. Her stomach felt like it was filled with marbles. She suddenly had the urge to vomit. Why was this bothering her? It was just a date!
"Ayame. The daughter of the owner of the Ichiraku Ramen Bar," he explained. "She's a really nice girl. I finally got up the nerve to ask her out."
Ino was reeled by Choji's revelation. He asked her out? When did Choji go out on dates? S
Since he became so damned hot, the tiny voice responded as her heart pounded furiously. Why was she so…upset about this?
"Oh." She replied. "Well, uh…have fun, I guess."
"Thanks, Ino." Choji replied, studying her reaction. Something about her tone made him think that she wasn't entirely happy for him. What had gotten into her?
"Why is this bothering me so much?" Ino fumed as she stormed into her room. She threw her bag onto the floor, and fell back onto her bed. She closed her eyes, thinking furiously. Why her? What's so special about the owner's daughter? She's not even that pretty!
Ino rolled onto her side, her hair spilling over her face. There weren't many places that a couple could go on a date, and she had a feeling Choji would take her to the typical hot spot. She quickly made the decision: she would show up there, looking her best.
I will not lose to her! Ino fumed.
Wait, what are you talking about? Lose what? She sat upright, suddenly terrified about the answer to her silent question. It couldn't be...could it? Was she really this upset that Choji had a date? And what were her reasons?
Sakura had been right these past few weeks, Ino had changed. She hadn't even been watching her calories or dieting as much as she normally did. In fact, she had even stopped going to the gym seven days a week, twice a day. Instead, she settled for three times a week...total.
You're in love with him! Admit it, Pig! Ino told herself, her hands trembling as they clasped on her lap.
In love? With Choji? Could it be? Ino tried to shake the thoughts from her head, but found that they were clinging to her like a vine. There was no other explanation, was there.
The tears filled Ino's eyes as she realized why she had felt such elation at Choji's presence recently, and such devastation at the news he had shared this afternoon. Yamanaka Ino was in love.
"Shit!" she growled, her palm slapping her forehead. "How? When?"
Doesn't matter, does it? Her inner self chastised her. You better let him see how much you care, of you'll lose to this...girl!
Ino looked at her closet, her mind quickly racing. She would have to do it. She would find him on his date and show him.
Show him what?
"Show him who the best woman for him truly is!" she declared, her mind already calculating. Yamanaka Ino wouldn't lose!
Choji was enjoying his date with Ayame. She was a quiet girl, but quite delightful once you got her talking. She had always been kind to Choji, and he had always found himself attracted to the woman, though never thinking she would want to date him. She had grown much more beautiful over these past few years as she shot through the awkward teenage years they all passed through. When he had run into her a few days earlier, she was her usual cheerful self around him, greeting him no differently than she always had. He decided right then and there that he wanted to spend more time with her-to get to know the only woman who hadn't treated him differently because he returned in a much more fit state than he had been before leaving Konoha. Oh, he knew what people were saying about him. He could see all the appreciative stares from the young women in the village—the same women who would have never given him the time of day a year ago.
No, he was where he wanted to be at that moment.
They were talking, Ayame laughing at one of Choji's stories as he saw Ino and a few others enter the bar. He waved at them, as Ino flashed him a smile. Her clothing was tighter and shorter than usual, but it was Ino. Choji's eyes flickered over her, his expression flat. With a slight blush, he brought his attention back to his date.
A few drinks later, Ino was nowhere to be found. A few hours later, Choji noticed people gathering around the bar. He could see someone dancing on it, swinging around the pole that intersected it. He realized it was Ino, and immediately stood, excusing himself from the table. Ayame watched him, concerned by his sudden distraction. Choji pushed himself toward the bar, ignoring the few hands that strayed to grab him or rubbed over his abdomen appreciatively. He pulled his shirt back down, covering himself as he approached the bar.
"Choji!" Ino squealed as she quickly spun around the pole, her pale eyes falling on her friend.
"Ino what are you doing?" he angrily asked as he pushed some random young man away from the bar as the drunken admirer tried to slip a few coins into Ino's back pocket. "Get down from there, you're embarrassing yourself!"
Ino was shocked at his sudden change in tone, immediately ceasing her pole routine. She unsteadily attempted to jump down from the top of the bar, and Choji reached up to help her as she leaped down. She could feel his muscles under her hands. She stood before him, straightening herself.
"Hi! How's your date?" she attempted to smile, her cheeks flush.
"It's, uh, going well," he said, looking back over his shoulder. He waved to Ayame, who smiled in response. Ino glared at the young woman. Choji turned his attention back to Ino, "What were you doing up there, Ino? "
"Dancing, Choji. You know, having some fun," she said, pushing her long blonde hair from her eyes. She wore it down, hoping to make herself more noticeable.
"Well, uh, it looks bad. And it's not like you," he replied cautiously, his eyes flashing their warning to any young suitor that though they would be taking the kunoichi home that night.
"What does that mean?" Ino asked through narrowed eyes. She didn't like what he was insinuating.
"Nothing," he sighed, as he turned to walk back to his table, "I should get going back to Ayame."
"Yeah, do that," she practically hissed.
Choji caught her venom, turning to cast a concerned look at her before weaving through the crowd. Ino watched as he sat down across from Ayame, reaching for her hand over the table. Ino felt sick at their contact, wanting to tear the young woman's hair from her head. She knew that the three drinks she had didn't help her raging thoughts. Her face became hot as she thought about how nonplussed Choji was at her actions. Had she magically thought he would fall head-over-heels in love with her because of that? Before she could talk herself out of it, Ino walked through the crowd, pushing her way between people as she approached the table where Choji was leaning over and talking to the young woman. The girl looked up, surprised to find the newcomer so close to their table.
Ino ignored the girl, clearing her throat as Choji looked up, "Oh, Ino!"
He looked from Ayame to Ino, and back to Ayame. "Ino, this is my date, Ayame. Ayame, this is Ino."
Ino nodded quickly in the woman's direction, turning her attention back to Choji. "Hey, could we talk? Quickly. I promise," she asked.
Choji looked to Ayame, who nodded vigorously. "Go, I'll be fine here." Her innocence was sickening to Ino.
"Uh…sure," Choji said as he stood. "Outside?" Ino nodded. He followed her as she made her way through the human maze. She pushed the door open, feeling the cold breeze hit her face. It was suddenly sobering.
"What's up?" Choji asked, looking at Ino questioningly.
"How's your date?" Ino asked, suddenly confused as to why she felt it was so urgent to speak to Choji. It didn't seem like such a good idea now that the cold air was sobering her senses...
"Good, thanks. Did you want to speak to me about something?" he asked, scratching his chin. "I thought maybe you were in trouble or something…"
"No, no trouble," Ino replied, suddenly embarrassed at her behavior. "Look, Choji, I'm sorry! About what just happened!" she blurted, her cheeks pink. She could feel her heart racing. "I don't want you to think any less of me! I was just having fun, you know?"
He thought for a moment. "It's your life, I had no right to interfere. I just didn't think it was like you to do something like that," he answered carefully, his eyes straying from her face.
"It's not like me," she muttered under her breath.
"Then why would you do that?" he asked, slight concerned lacing his voice.
She looked up, amazed that he had heard her. She hadn't expected to say that so loudly. She chewed her lip. "I guess I wanted to get a certain person's attention."
"Well, that's definitely a way to get it," he grinned, jokingly.
"Obviously," she sighed.
"But, I'm not so sure that's someone who's attention you should want," he answered, oblivious to the real meaning of her words.
"Oh, nevermind, Choji," she waved her hand, suddenly feeling guilty. "Go back to your date, "Choji!"
Her voice was tinged with sadness-which was not missed by her former teammate. He placed a hand on her shoulder.
"Ino, if you need to talk, you know I'm here for you," he offered, "I don't know what's going on with your life, but..."
"I know," she replied sadly. "I know, Choji. You've always been there for me."
"Yes, and probably not for all the right reasons," he admitted.
She looked up in surprise. Did he mean what she thought he meant? "What?"
He nodded, "It's true. I used to have a major crush on you, Ino. Maybe more than a simple crush. But, I realized that you would never be interested in someone like me. I was so stupid!" His face reddened slightly at his sudden truthfulness.
"What do you mean 'someone like you'?" Ino whispered, her heart breaking at the past tense of his words. She was aware of what he meant. Someone like him. Someone fat. Someone who's not a cookie cutter male. He was partly right, and she was ashamed to admit it...it was something the old Ino would have definitely thought.
"Ino, I know I was fat. Despite all of the denial on my part, I was overweight and unhappy with myself. And I hid it by pretending to not notice how large I was," he admitted, his honesty hurting her more than he knew, "And you were always so caught up with the other guys in the village, that I knew I didn't stand a chance. No one wanted to go out with me. I'm well aware of how women look at me now, since I'm no longer overweight." He shuddered at the unwanted attention and stares.
"Yeah, I guess I can see why," she answered cryptically. She was still contemplating what he was saying. He had been in love with her! Why hadn't she seen this?
Oh, you wouldn't have given him the chance, admit it! she told herself.
Shut up, I would have!
"And I hate it!" Choji quickly spat. "I hate it. That's why I asked Ayame out. She was the only person who didn't change the way they treated me based on my appearances. She's always been kind to me. That's what I like about her."
"Do I treat you differently?" Ino asked, afraid to meet his eyes but equally afraid of his answer.
Choji was quiet for some time, his eyes on the ground as he dug his heels into the dirt.
"Yes," he whispered.
Ino met his eyes, tears forming in her own.
"I do?" she had asked the question, not wanting an answer.
Choji nodded. "I know, Ino. I may be slow with some things, but even I can tell."
She felt as if someone had knocked the wind out of her. So it was true! She was infatuated with her childhood friend, and even he could see that!
"I'm sorry," she whispered, dropping her head in shame.
"It's alright," he replied softly, pulling her chin upward with his forefinger. "It's just…you."
"But this isn't how I want to be!" she replied angrily, her rage more toward herself than anything. "I'm not just interested in looks, you know!"
"Maybe not, but you never gave me a second look before now," he answered calmly, confirming her fears.
"I had a lot of stuff going on!" she replied, her voice tense with emotion. "It's not easy being Inoichi's daughter!"
"For fifteen years?" he shook his head sadly. "I'm sorry Ino, but there's more to me than just how I look right now. And I hope you understand why I can't believe you."
She nodded, swallowing her pride, her voice soft with sadness, "I'm sorry to have interrupted your date, Cho. She seems like a nice girl. I'm sure she's wondering where you are."
Choji studied her for a moment, "Are you going to be alright? I can stay and talk if you want to, Ino."
His sudden concern rubbed salt in the raw wound in her heart.
"No, I'm fine. Thanks, Choji. Now go back to your date!" she commanded, turning him around and pushing him toward the door with more force than he expected.
He nervously ran his hand through his messy hair as he turned to study her. "Thanks, Ino!" he grinned. "Do me a favor?"
"Huh?" she asked, raising her blue eyes to meet his laughing gaze.
"Don't dance on any more bars. I can't promise I'll be around to help you down," he said solemnly, before shutting the door behind him.
Ino listened as the bar noise was muffled by the closing door. She let the tears fall down her face as she thought about what Choji had said to her. She had been a complete idiot tonight! Stupid! She clenched her jaw, angry at how manipulative she was being.
She had never expected that she would ever fall in love with Choji. It was Choji! But, he had changed over the past nine months, and she felt some strange, new connection to him. Yes, she had been attracted to his new appearance. And yes, his weight had been a distracting factor when they were children. But, what she hadn't admitted to herself until these past few days was that she had cared about him even before he left for Sunagakure.
She realized it by the way she missed him after he left. She had been giddy when thinking about seeing him for the first time since he and Shikamaru had left for their mission. She had denied it, until she could deny it no more.
It was a bittersweet feeling, this new-found devotion to Choji and his apparent rejection of her feelings. He had admitted his former attachment to Ino, only to reclaim it as she was ready to accept the stale feelings. Her tears slowly dried as she made the silent promise to herself: she would win…no, earn, Choji's affection and admiration! She didn't care how long it took him to see that she was not just in love with his exterior, but also his persona and being...with him.
She loved his heart.
With her newfound resolution, she turned and silently walked home. She looked up to the moon, as if making her dedication to this new mission permanent-no matter how long it took or how much she suffered. She would wait for him to see that she had changed—truly and permanently.