New story, New couple! I know i should at least finish one of my stories before starting another one but my Muse! My Muse... she's a slave driver. I couldn't write anything until i got this out of my head and on paper (laptop). Well i plan to be more active (psh i always say that. I'm so unreliable :/) but we'll just have to see.
Holy Crap! NarutoxIno?... Yup! :) Make sure to review!
EDIT: Big thanks to my beta PoisnousPixie for being the most detailed beta i've ever had in my history of having betas! Definitely helpful (even if it did take you forever :P)
Disclaimer: 'like anyone pays attention to these... I wish Fanfiction had some kind of rating system...' huh? oh right i don't own Naruto etc.
The air had been crisp that night. A soft breeze blanketed the trees and whistled between the branches. Had anyone been walking around that evening, they would say it was quite peaceful. However this was not the case in training ground eighty-eight, the secretly registered training field of ANBU Root.
Fu Yamanaka kept himself aware as he talked over his headset with his fellow operative. He, along with another Root member, had been assigned to oversee a particular test; a test that he personally found risky and unnecessary, but he knew better than to make his thoughts known. The Shinobi had been trained not to question his orders, and if that didn't deter him, the seal on his tongue did. With one last glance towards his target, Fu set off towards his commander.
An old bandaged man stood patiently in the middle of a small clearing. Beside him a young boy in ninja garb mimicked his actions. Under the child's blank white mask were steely cobalt eyes focused and ready to complete his mission. Though he was still young, he acted like a seasoned veteran. His breath was even and relaxed, his hand steady as a rock, and his senses sharp as knives. The sudden sounds of rustling leaves immediately gained his attention, but let his guard down after realizing who the presence was.
A blurred figure jumped from the canopy and landed with one knee on the ground, bowing to his master, "All is set Danzo-sama." Fu reported.
The elder gave a slight nod and raised his hand in front of the young boy, "This will be your final test. There are three prisoners located precisely a hundred yards north, a hundred yards southwest, and two hundred yards east-southeast," the man briefed.
He then proceeded to pull out a small trigger box from his robe, "When I press this button they will be released from their confines and you will have to apprehend them before they reach the village area. Failure in capturing all three bodies will result in immediate failure and disqualify you from entering my ranks," and before the man could utter a warning, his raised hand slammed down on the small black button.
The young shinobi wasted no time darting towards his closet target.
Ino was mad… No, frustrated would probably be a better word. And the best way to explain her aggravation would be to start from the beginning.
Since she'd been able to walk, the young blonde had helped out in her family's shop. Her mother had had much joy watching her daughter partake in the family business whether it was watering the plants, helping to plant seeds, or later on working the cash register. It was the spring after she had turned twelve that the blonde had finally been given the right to be responsible for her own plot of in the garden with the task of raising one of the stores goods. Ino had been ecstatic when that day arrived; having imagined what kind of special flower her dad would allow her to grow. When she was told she was to grow plain old pansies, she was insulted.
Konoha Fire Pansies were as common and easy to grow as a flower could get. The girl was sure she'd seen plenty of them grow wildly in the nearby parks. So for her father to ask her to grow that particular plant, when he knew she'd helped take care of much more delicate flowers, was degrading in a way.
It was her more rebellious side that told her it would be a good idea to prove him wrong, and plant something more her level. Behind Inoichi's back, his daughter used what ninja skills she'd learned in the academy to sneak into his office, snag his keys, and grab a seed bag of whatever rare flower was in season.
All had gone according to plan the first two weeks. But after a while she noticed the how weak and slow the plants were growing. Feeling nervous she looked over her botany guide and cringed at her careless mistake. Ino had mistakenly mixed up the popular Konoha Moon Daisy with Kumo's incredibly, and probably expensive, rare Silver-lined Moons. Though they looked very similar well into their budding phase, they needed completely different ways of care. After doing a bit more research she discovered the plants had been dehydrated and malnourished with the wrong fertilizer. Inoichi didn't take long to discover his daughter's mistake, and nearly blew up realizing he'd just lost a bag of one of his most prized seeds.
That was what had led to Ino's current situation. The blonde never told her father about the left over seeds she had decided not to plant. She was simply too stubborn to accept her defeat. Now the young girl was running around in the forest at night looking for a good spot to plant the Silver Moons.
Thankfully for the Yamanaka heiress there was an abandoned, or at least she thought it was an abandoned, training field that wasn't too far from her home. The grounds were close enough that she could come every day to water the plants without too much trouble; but secluded enough so it didn't run the risk of potentially being destroyed by a careless ninja.
She had no idea of the dangers that lurked nearby.
Her pale blue eyes scanned the clearing that appeared before her, "There!" she cried out happily after spotting a small stream running by. The soil near the bank was perfect to grow the seeds, and the little bag of fertilizer she brought wouldn't hurt. But before she could lay down a single seed…
"Well, look what I found!" Said a gruff voice.
The blonde girl jumped, with a startled cry, dropping the seeds along the way.
"Wh-who's there!" She called hesitantly, her eyes scanning the floor desperately for any sort of weapon.
A tall lanky man with slanted eyes, and shoulder lengthen silver hair, leaped from the shadows of the forest.
Nabi had been one of the prisoners chosen to be a part of Danzo's test. At first he wasn't so willing, but in hearing that he had an opportunity to escape his barred home, the rogue chuunin couldn't help but take the chance. He was not told what his role was, or the reason he was doing this in the first place. But he didn't really care, as long as the man could get his freedom. So from the moment he was released from his shackles in the middle of the forest, he'd been running straight towards the village gates.
But the lanky ex-leaf nin was not stupid. His best chance in escaping was to either get into the crowd and sneak out with outgoing merchants, or somehow make it past the gate guards. Lucky for him, a solution appeared before him.
"You don't have to worry about me. I'm just a lost stranger," Nabi spoke, behind his wide grin. He took slow steps towards his target, "But you're lost too, aren't you? Why else would a pretty girl like you be out here?"
If he was trying to charm her, then he was failing miserably. Ino didn't trust the gleam in his eyes one bit, "Back off! I'm a kunoichi!" she yelled, as boldly as she could. The girl did her best to make the rock in her hand as intimidating as possible.
Nabi let out a short holler. He didn't believe her one bit, "Then I wonder, where's your headband little kunoichi?" His sneer caused goose bumps to run across her fair skin.
"It's… It's none of you business. Now I said back off!" She screamed louder. 'What I wouldn't give for a kunai right now,''
"Whoa, calm down little kunoichi. I promise I won't hurt you. I just need your help is all," And with every breath he took a step closer, driving her towards the edge of the water.
"I said, get away!" Ino gave a final shout, and threw her only means of defense at the threatening man. In doing so her foot slipped from the muddy bank, causing her to stumble backwards towards the river.
The man smirked, finally catching the girl off guard. He had easily dodged the small pebble and dashed towards the fumbling preteen. "Gotcha!" he said, yanking the girl by her arms and into his grip.
She winced at the feeling of his nails gripping into the underside of her arm "Agh! Let me go you creep!"
The blonde struggled hard in his grip, but he held her tightly. "Hell no, you're my ticket out of this place!"
He frowned at the amount of effort it took just to restrain the girl, "Hmph, you should be lucky I'm not into kids. Oh! But it seems like you're developing already," he laughed, as his left arm brushed over her chest.
The girl let out a loud squeal, and managed to free an arm. With that accomplished, she struck an open palm straight up, striking the larger man square in the nose. When he let her squirming body go, Ino made a quick dash towards the village.
Nabi raised a single hand to his nose, and felt the blood tricking down his nostril, "Get back here you little bitch!" Recalling on his memories, he began pushing chakra into his legs in order to quickly recapture his target.
Ino huffed, as she sprinted through the forest. Her adrenaline was pulsing, and her heartbeat was drowning her ears. Even though she was a kunoichi in training, never before had she felt like a scared civilian until now.
'I should've never come here! This was the stupidest idea ever, Ino.' She mentally berated herself. Suddenly, the hairs in her neck spiked up after hearing a voice just behind her.
"Doton: Yuka Shintai no Jutsu." (Earth Release: Floor Shift Technique)
It had been a while since the rogue chuunin had freely used chakra, but he hadn't forgotten how to fight.
One second the blonde was speeding past trees, the next she was on her back gasping from lost air. Her pale blue eyes looked up and found the menacing man looming over her, his knees pressing down on her legs pinning her to the ground. For the first time in a long while, the young girl had felt true fear, a fear beyond losing her favorite comb or finding a spider in her desk. She was scared she was going to die… but the girl was much too stubborn to show it.
"Get the hell off me, you creep!" Ino screamed, while swinging her arms wildly in hopes of freeing herself.
The lanky man used his left hand to pin her arms above her head, "Ugh, if you keep struggling like this you're not gonna leave me much of a choice." he grunted. Getting sick of her angry attempts to free herself, he raised his free fist in the air, 'An unconscious hostage is better than a squirmy one,' He reasoned.
Ino felt the shadow from his arm cast over her face. Time seemed to have slowed down as she watched the larger man grip his hand into a fist, ready to bear itself down upon her. She stiffened and closed her eyes, 'No… don't..' she whimpered mentally...
Then she shrieked, "Help!"
Naruto knew this forest like the back of his hand, as well he should, considering he had been practically raised here his entire life. The earliest memories he had were of when he was a few years old, and even then he was either living at the tower in the center of the grounds; or staying at the Root command. At the tender age of three, he had begun training as a ninja, learning how to feel and mold the chakra in his body. By five, he had enough control and understanding to cast jutsus. At eight, his physical abilities were sharpened to match genin twice his age. Then, not long after that his real training began.
Naruto thoroughly believed he was ready to become a ninja two years ago. If he could keep up with his chuunin sparring partners, pass all of Danzo's simulation tests, master a small arsenal of ninja techniques, then why couldn't he have been enlisted into the Konoha ranks already? Danzo's answer was simple. There was still one course of his training that he had not completed… mastering his other chakra.
The blond shook his head to dispel the thoughts. His earlier attempts to harness his inner power had all failed miserably. If it weren't the bandaged man's will for him to learn, the boy would have cast that power away, to lock it deep within his memories. Overtime, the boy learned that moderation was key, that only small amounts of the red chakra could be used safely. Still, a part of him feared what would happen if he drew out too much of that chakra, and lost control.
The branch under his foot cracked beneath his weight. The whiskered ninja was quick to hop onto the next branch, and regain his balance, 'Damn, now's not the time to daydream.' He steeled himself whilst speeding towards his next target.
The first prisoner was a civilian convict, so tracking and restraining him took very little effort. The next guy was a bit tougher. He was a former chuunin, who'd left the village to become a thief. He specialized in running and hiding, but that didn't stop Naruto from locating him. After a brief fight, he too was knocked unconscious and roped tightly to a tree.
The blond now had one target left, and he knew the man wouldn't be far from reaching the village. Seven minutes had already passed by, and the time it takes to sprint to the village wasn't long at all. He knew it would be a stretch, but kept his eyes alive, and sprinted to the last target's starting point.
The dark blur shot through the canopy, and landed in a small open clearing. It only took seconds to figure out which direction the man took, so he was back in the trees in no time.
'The village is less than a mile away. I'm sure I can find him before he gets close.' He ensured himself. His blue eyes stuck to the small tracks he left behind, and continued his path.
Soon enough he found himself in another clearing, this time with a small streaming running along the side. By the looks of the dug up dirt and sandal prints, there was some kind of trouble. His ears then perked at the sounds of distant struggling.
"Damn!" he cursed aloud. 'That better not be a villager,' though that was highly likely.
His legs worked hard in pushing him straight where the sounds were coming from. There was a voice of a man close by, no doubt his target. When his eyes finally found the tall man, his fist was ready to strike.
The girl's desperate cry triggered his attack. The whiskered nin bulleted out of the shadows, and threw a kunai at the offender's hand, stopping his attack. The blond quickly followed with a strong kick square onto the man's face.
Ino kept her face cringed, awaiting the pain that would soon come. Oddly enough the only thing she felt was the weight from her arms, and legs release; followed by the sound of a tree being slammed, and the groaning of a man. Her curiosity came alive, forcing her to peek out into the night.
"Hey, you okay?" Naruto spoke, kneeling down to get a better look. This was the first time he'd ever really talked to anyone his age, and despite the situation, he was curious about the girl. He didn't mind that she was openly staring at him, for he was doing the same thing.
And blinked again.
Somehow, her cries were heard, and she was saved by this short blond ANBU. And by the sound of his voice, she doubted the shinobi was that much older than herself. After a moment of collecting her thoughts, she tried forming a response; but was cut short when she saw the creepy prisoner ready to attack.
"Watch out!" She yelled, while trying to push him out of the way.
Naruto was able to move his head just in time to avoid his own kunai from penetrating the back of his head. However, he hadn't managed to save his mask. The metal projectile slammed into the white mask at an angle, shattering the majority of it into the ground.
"Cheap piece of crap." The boy muttered in annoyance.
Ino saw the young shinobi's face clearly under the moonlight. His blond hair, sparkling blue eyes, and defined marks along his jaw, were engraved into her memory. Her only thought was, 'Cute, and mysterious is so my type!'
"Hey you!" The boy yelled, "Stand down and come with me peacefully or I'll have to use force." Though he wasn't planning on not using force anyways.
The slanted-eyed man let out quick laugh, "Bah, like I'll let myself get captured by some kid!"
Naruto smirked at his decision. "Well this kid's about to beat ya up!" He shouted just before darting towards his foe.
Nabi's eyes widened, at the speed the blond had. He quickly ran through several seals, and tried to repeat his last success, "Doton: Yuka Shintai no Jutsu!"
The blond felt the ground begin to quiver, so he channeled chakra to his feet and planted it firmly on his next step. When the ground beneath him suddenly swept to the left, he went right along with it, his posture remaining the same the entire time.
"What, that it?" He mocked. His insides filled with laughter seeing the older man's frustration. The blond then ran through seals of his own.
"Here's a real attack, Fuuton: Daitoppa!" (Wind Release: Great Breakthrough) His hand went to his mouth and a great wind blew straight towards his foe.
The lanky man rolled to the side in hopes of dodging the attack. But he was still caught in its blast, his body being tossed in the air, and his slammed back against yet another tree. It was clear that Nabi and trees did not mix. But he did not want to give up quite yet, as he limped behind a tree for cover; and began yet another, much stronger technique.
Naruto grabbed a kunai from his pouch, and carefully approached his enemy. Just when he was about to get past the tree line, a giant fist made out of pure rock smashed where he stood. The whiskered boy dodged with a back-handspring, and hid within the canopy.
The silver-haired prisoner struggled holding his right arm up due to the large fist of stone attached to it. His frown only got worse when he realized he lost track of the annoying punk.
"Why you hiding kid? C'mon out, Iwa Taiho!" A large piece of rock crumbled away from his heavy fist and shot straight towards the trees. There was no screams heard, so he repeated his action three more times, until the last of his rock fist was gone.
Nabi breathed heavily, feeling drained from his attack. But desperation was biting him so he restarted his jutsu, "Doton: Taiho Iwatekken!" (Earth Release: Cannon Rockfist)
Another fist-shape boulder gathered around his arm. It was then that he spotted a shadow leap from above, 'You think you can get me off guard?' He grinned maniacally, as he shot another large rock towards the figure…
It hit dead center.
Ino watched in horror, as her hero was hit hard by the small bolder. But then his body puffed into smoke.
Naruto had a grin of his own, as he leapt from the shadows of his shadow clone. He landed with a stomp, right on top of the stony hand, forcing the man off balance. Then with little effort, he leapt off and swept his feet from beneath him, letting the large rock crush its wielder.
"Beaten by your own technique, tsk tsk." The blond mocked. His head snapped in alert towards the sounds of approaching footsteps, but it didn't belong to an enemy.
The blonde girl ran to her savior. "That was incredible! You were so amazing, and you beat him so easily!" She squealed happily with a smile, and her hands held together on her chest.
The ANBU recruit chuckled nervously, "Uh, yeah. It wasn't that big of a deal," his hand began rubbing his neck as he turned around to properly restrain his target.
The ponytail girl quickly hopped into step, walking a little bit in front of him and bending down low to get another good look at his face, "So… what's your name? Oh! And I'm Ino, by the way." She gave him a cute smile that made him even more nervous to begin with.
It was then that he remembered his mask had a gaping hole in it. He immediately brought his hands to cover the open portion of his mask, "Sorry, I uh… I can't really talk to you," The boy wasn't sure if he was allowed to be seen in the first place.
She put on a pout, and watched him kick over the large rock that seemed to have detached from the skinny man's arms. "Aww, why not? I promise to keep it a secret! I'm good at that," she lied. The blonde loved to gossip.
Naruto reached towards his pouch, and sent chakra to the storage seals drawn on its face. Two pairs of thick shackles appeared, and with it he bound the man's hands and feet. With a sway of his arms and hips, the boy hoisted the large man onto his shoulders.
"Sorry, I have to go," he said in a rush.
"Wait!" She tried to stop him, but he had already leapt beyond her reach. The young girl tiredly flopped on her knees and butt, exhausted from the hectic night, and sad that her brave knight took off without even giving her his name.
"He was sooo cool… would have made excellent boyfriend material." She muttered that last part under her breath.
High up in the canopy, hidden well outside of sight, Fu sighed in relief. He kept steady track of his foe, and felt conflicted when he saw his young cousin run into the prisoner. Had Ino not escaped the first time, or Naruto been even a few seconds late, the older blond wasn't sure he could keep himself neutral. The last thing he wanted to do was to tell his aunt ,and uncle that their dear little princess was attacked, and used as a hostage by an escaped prisoner. Then there was also Danzo…
His ears twitched at the sounds of static from his radio, "Uzumaki here. Last prisoner captured. Off to retrieve the other two."
Another crackle came from his earpiece, this time a deeper voice, "No need. Juhi and Hide have already done so. Return to base."
Fu took one last glimpse at his cousin, making sure she wasn't harmed, before leaping towards the designated area.
The older Yamanaka managed to beat his younger comrade to the tower, only for him to witness the said boy stride in with a prisoner on his shoulder and a big grin on his face.
Danzo looked less pleased. For the past twelve years, the grumpy man had been bitter about Naruto's lack of control with his emotions. The endless amounts of sessions trying to re-create the ideal attitude of a Root operative had failed miserably; the most successful times only lasting a few hours of angsty silence. He was what many liked to call, stubbornly happy.
"You've done well, Naruto." The elder praised.
Seeing the stern face of his commander reminded him of where he was. His smile instantly disappeared, as he put on the calm indifferent face he was told to have, "Thank you Danzo-sama." The prisoner's body was cast aside as he was now on his knees bowing to his master.
The bandaged man took a step closer to his pupil and pulled out a small box, "I believe you've earned this… Fox," that name wasn't meant to be an insult. Rather it was his highest compliment.
Holding back a grin the size of Konoha, his steady hands came up and reached for the box. The lid opened and inside he found a small scroll, and a mask. It looked somewhat similar to the white mask he wore previously, but this one was a bit different. This new mask was sharper and edgier, though the most significant difference was the three whisker marks on both cheeks. He also guessed it was sturdier than the cheap one that broke on him. His hands wandered around the face of the mask, then soon strapped it to the side of his hip. The next object was the plain looking scroll.
"This here will be your true test," The bandaged man said, gesturing to the scroll, "This will show me, if you are truly fit to be a Root operative."
His small hands went to the scroll, and carefully unraveled it. After taking a few seconds to read its content, his blue eyes looked up with contained excitement, "A mission?"
The man nodded, "This will be your first task. You are to do it solo, and I expect your success within one month's time."
It had seemed like the commander was being generous in giving that much time, but there proved to be a reason behind it.
"I will not fail," He said to himself, more than to his commander.
Danzo gave an approving nod, "As expected." There was a brief pause. "You start tomorrow,"
Ino woke up feeling especially groggy. After a brief moment in transitioning to the conscious world, her mind began recollecting the memories of last night… but were they even memories to begin with?
She sat up, and looked around her room. Things seemed normal, as if everything in her mind had all just been a dream. It just seemed much too crazy to be real right? There couldn't have been someone as cool, and incredibly strong, as the mysterious boy in her dreams. Except for Sasuke-kun, right?
The blonde huffed in aggravation, "Just too good to be true," she whined before starting her morning rituals.
After about an hour the girl was cleaned, dressed, fed, and had her hair done with just enough time to walk to school. She took the same path, and pretty much saw the same people passing by. The blond bet she could have counted the amount of steps it took her, to reach the academy, and have that number be almost the same every morning. Was her life that mundane?
After the adventures of last night's dream, it felt exactly like that… mundane. Her thoughts had distracted her for the remainder of her trip before reaching her usual desk right next to her ex-best friend/rival/friend, Haruno Sakura.
"What's up forehead," She greeted.
"Nothing concerning you, Ino-pig." The pink-haired girl retorted.
The blond mentally chuckled. Even their greetings were becoming predictable. "Is Sasuke-kun not here yet?" She asked, scouting the class after spotting his empty chair.
The rosette leaned her chin on the palm of her hand, "Not yet," she then gave her fellow classmate a quick glare, "And don't even think about trying to sit next to him,"
She, in turn, gave back a competitive smirk, "We'll see about that forehead."
The blonde let her head fall onto the desk. Pale blue eyes began drifting around the room, stopping at a random seat. She tried envisioning Sasuke sitting on that seat, and her jumping into the seat next to him… but oddly enough it wasn't his image that came to mind.
Instead of stylish raven black hair, a spiky bunch of blond took its place. Then the flawless light skin, she had so long admired, turned into a half broken white mask with tan skin peeking out. Finally the eyes… once a stony onyx, were now a vibrant blue. It was no longer Sasuke that sat next to her in her mind, but the nameless hero of her dreams.
"Hello! Calling Pig-girl. Pig-girl do you read? Over," the emerald-eyed student mocked to get the blonde's attention.
Ino shook her head of her thoughts, "What?" She gave her a look of irritation
"You were spacing out really bad. Something wrong?" The rosette seemed generally curious.
The blonde groaned, "I had this really weird dream last night and I can't stop thinking about it."
If Sakura hadn't been interested before, then she definitely was now. Despite their constant bickering, she was always ready to hear a weird dream story. It took a good while to properly explain the events to her, and the whole time she absentmindedly rubbed the underside of her right arm.
"Oh, no! Sasuke's already here, and his seat's taken!" She exclaimed, dejectedly.
Normally Ino would be somewhat upset, but she was too distracted by her rival's rude interjection, "Hey! Were you even listening to me?" She all but screamed in her ear.
Sakura waved her off dismissively, "Yeah, yeah, Pig, I heard you. Attacked by a creepy stranger, and saved by a handsome shinobi. I've had that dream with Sasuke before too."
"But it wasn't Sasuke!"
Sakura was slightly put off by the statement, partially by what she said but also in the tone of her voice. The girl crossed her arms, "Then if it wasn't Sasuke-kun, then who was it?" She said, accentuating on her crushes' familiarity.
"I don't know," The blue-eyed girl whispered, to herself. She then continued rubbing the back of her arm like she'd done all morning. This time she was aware of the small bumps she felt.
Iruka began speaking up, but Ino was too distracted by the four fingernail marks that marred her skin, 'Isn't this the place where he grabbed me?'
"Class, we have a new student with us. I want you all to treat him nicely. Why don't you go introduce yourself." The scar-nosed chuunin said, with a smile.
The young blond boy smiled in return, "Okay."
Suddenly, Ino found herself looking hard at the new kid. He had spiky blond hair, sparkling blue eyes... And three defined marks on both sides along his jaw.
"My name is Uzumaki, Uzumaki Naruto." He gave a foxy grin.
Now you see, I'm not very familiar with writing Ino so please tell me how i'm doing with her. Obviously this is my first time writing NaruxIno but i hope i can do some justice. There's also the deal with Naruto's character. Anbu Root = Emotionally Retarded... But i'm keeping Naruto fairly in character. It's a bit of a stretch so bare with me.
I think that's it... ok REVIEW!
If you don't Review...