Envy Eats Nothing But Its Own Heart
With thirty-seven-year-old Ino…
Ino hated the desert. It was hot, dry and too brown. But she had to admit, standing on the roof of Gaara's house, as the sun set over the horizon, a hot wind brushing over her skin, was somewhat calming.
She knew the Kazekage was standing behind her. But she was yet to acknowledge his presence.
"It's strange," Ino finally broke the silence.
"I don't think so," was Gaara's response.
Ino tilted her head, acknowledging and appreciating the fact that she had not needed to verbally express what she had been thinking. Perhaps telepathy was not so bad, after all. Even if she did still feel like he was invading her personal space.
"I'm not always listening," Gaara muttered. "I do know how to turn it off."
"I know, sorry," Ino replied.
"You ready?" Gaara changed the subject.
Ino inhaled sharply. "No, but I have to do this."
"You don't have to. You could always just reverse Five Dimensions to Heaven and go home with the memory block still firmly in place."
Ino placed her hands on the railing before her and gripped it tightly, her knuckles turning white. "No, I need to remember. I have a feeling that whatever it is I have decided to forget, is something silly that has hurt someone."
Ino pursed her lips. Yes, like her husband.
"I'll see you on the other side, then," Gaara said.
Ino turned to face him and smiled. "Indeed. It was nice to meet you, Gaara. This version I mean. You really should drop that mask of yours. I think people would love to get to know the real you. Make some real friends."
Gaara's eyes bored into hers. "If your younger self is anything like you, maybe I'll start with her."
Ino grinned. "I think she'd like that."
Gaara excused himself, and Ino turned her gaze back to the village sprawled below her. She smiled. When she got back to her dimension, the first thing she was going to do was have a nice little chat with the Hyuuga family.
But first, she had a memory block to remove.
Ino settled herself on the bed in the guest room. She had a feeling that removing the memory block would knock her unconscious, so to prevent any accidents; she thought she might as well get comfortable.
She did not want to do it. It frightened her. Because she knew herself. She may be smart, ambitious, empathetic and good-natured, but she was also shallow, vain and prideful. She chose to block her own memories. And she feared her reasons for it was stupid.
She had done many stupid things in her life, after all.
She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. She could do this. She had to do this.
She counted down from five.
The first memory was not one she had forgotten per say, but jumped straight to the forefront once she started unravelling the barrier.
The Hokage Monument loomed ominously over the party. Uzumaki Ino felt almost uncomfortable standing with her back to her husband's stone face. It was a new addition to the monument, having only been added recently.
She was proud of him. Really, she was. But she was also a smidge jealous. She had said this to him, and he had laughed and told her everyone probably was, except perhaps Shikamaru. He would find the job 'too troublesome' after all.
Besides, Shikamaru had always wanted to simply be by Naruto's side as his advisor.
She knew being envious of Naruto's success was normal, to an extent. Jealousy was normal. But like everything else, there was a limit to how jealous one can be before it became unhealthy. One glance at Shimura Ayaka, and the damage of such unhealthy envy was quite clear.
"Ah, Lady Ino," a voice interrupted her deep thoughts. Ino looked up, and grimaced when she saw a woman from on the lesser ninja clans, who was quite infamous for being a gossip.
"Good evening, Lady Uotani," Ino greeted her curtly. "Enjoying the party?"
"Oh yes," Uotani hummed as she took a sip of her champagne. "You must be so proud of your husband."
"And I hear you have been appointed as Head Botanist," Uotani continued.
"How nice," Uotani hummed. "Congratulations on the promotion. Does this mean you will stop working for the Interrogation Squad?"
"No, but I will only be working when needed," Ino replied.
Uotani smiled, but Ino could tell it was fake. "You are an inspiration to us all, juggling so much on your plate. Do you ever get the time to see your husband?"
Ino did not think her work took much of her time, honestly, but people always liked poking their noses in things. Especially when it concerned their beloved Hokage.
"Of course," Ino replied, eyes narrowed. She was hoping the glare would make the stupid cow shut up and go away.
Uotani, however, was as blind as a bat. "Lord Hokage tells me you have been developing a new jutsu, one that could potentially give the Yamanaka family quite a boost."
Ino made a mental note to scold her husband later. She had told him not to talk about it until she felt more comfortable that it was going anywhere.
"I am looking into the possibility," Ino said. "But it is early days, who knows what could happen?"
"Well, it would be wonderful for your family," Uotani practically purred. "It would be terrible if the Yamanaka's were to lag behind the Nara and Akimichi clans. Did you know? The Nara clan has been working on ways to overcome the issue of shadows not being available at all times. And the Akimichi clan is currently developing a new soldier pill."
"I do know," Ino spat. Was this woman stupid? Of course she, a Yamanaka, would be aware of the developments of her closest allies.
"Oh, yes, of course. How silly of me."
Ino closed her eyes and inhaled deeply to try and calm her nerves. A part of her wished a hole would open in the ground and swallow the stupid woman, so that she didn't have to deal with this anymore.
Luckily, in that moment, Uchiha Karin interrupted.
"Ino, there aren't any pickles on the buffet table," Karin said frustrated. Uotani glanced at the redhead, then down at her swollen belly and scowled.
"Excuse me," Uotani muttered as she turned on her heel and stomped away.
Karin snorted and placed her hands on her hips. "That fucking bitch still can't let go of the fact that I married Sasuke and am now carrying his baby."
Ino nodded, then frowned. "Pickles?"
"First thing that came to mind when I realised the bitch was annoying you. Nothing like rubbing pregnancy cravings in a jealous jilted lover's face."
Ino laughed. "I don't think Sasuke has ever even looked at her, never mind be her lover."
"Doesn't mean she doesn't have crazy ideas in her head that he has looked at her. You know how infatuated people can twist the truth to make themselves feel special."
"You alright?" Karin asked.
"I am, thank you."
Karin smiled. "Good. You are a good woman, whatever Uotani was spouting is just jealousy talking."
Ino nodded and smiled. She liked Karin. They hadn't gotten along well at the beginning, but they had become friends when Karin had gotten cold feet on her wedding day. Ino was the only one who had managed to talk the woman into climbing down from the temple roof, and had walked the redhead down the aisle, like her father would have, if he had been alive. They had been inseparable ever since.
"We should probably mingle," Karin suggested.
"Yeah," Ino agreed, when she noticed an elderly couple had cornered her husband. He looked incredibly nervous as they talked to him, arms flailing wildly.
It was an hour after her encounter with Uotani, when Naruto had lightly tapped a pen against his glass to get the attention of everybody in the room. It took a minute or two for the people to settle.
Once they were, Naruto raised his glass. "I'd like to thank Uchiha Karin, who organised this party to celebrate my inauguration as Hokage."
Everyone raised their glasses to toast to Karin, who looked more annoyed at being called out, than grateful for the gratitude. Ino had to stifle her laughter – Karin hated unwanted attention. Naruto motioned for her to come stand next to him with his hand. Karin scowled and with a shake of her head stood up from her seat and started to make her way to the front of the room.
What happened next led to utter chaos.
Halfway to the front, Karin had tripped, and while she had tried to break her fall, her arms gave in under her and she landed belly first on the ground. The scream she unleashed was earth shattering, and Sasuke was by her side in an instant. He helped her sit up, and then went pale as a sheet.
"Oh my god!" a woman nearby shrieked. "She's bleeding!"
Ino pushed through the crowd and also paled when she reached her two friends. She froze for a moment, horrified as the blood stained Karin's dress and pooled beneath her. Then she sook her head and forced herself into medic mode.
She knelt down and placed her hand on Karin's belly, praying that the blood was not an indication of a problem there, but she already knew it was. She felt a flutter of chakra and sighed in relief. They could still salvage this. She looked up and scanned the room for the two medics she knew were there.
She luckily did not have to call out to them; they had already pushed through the crowds and were standing ready.
"Get a stretcher," Ino ordered and they both nodded. Ino watched them go, pushing through the crowd again, including pushing past Uotani, who looked rather pleased with herself.
Anger boiled within her. The woman had tripped Karin, she just knew it, but she had no way of proving it. So she simply gritted her teeth and turned to her friends. Sasuke looked like he was in shock, but luckily Naruto was standing behind him with a supporting hand on his shoulder. Karin looked rather calm, considering she was bleeding and very likely on the verge of going into an early labour.
"You alright?" Ino asked.
"No," Karin shook her head. "But I can still feel his chakra, so I know he isn't dead."
That shook Sasuke from his shock. "It's too soon."
Karin snorted. "Yes, well, it's not like I asked for this." She then grimaced, as if in pain.
Ino noticed and returned her hand to her belly, green chakra folding over her palm. She could at least try to ease the pain.
"Probably," Karin muttered.
The medics arrived with the stretcher, and they helped Karin onto it. Ino noticed that the bleeding was worse than she anticipated.
"Get her to the hospital now!" she exclaimed in panic.
Karin had given birth to a boy. He was several weeks early, and had struggled a bit with breathing at first, so Ino had insisted he remain in the hospital for the time being. He was a tiny thing, and Ino knew that being premature might mean a few concerns in the future, but they would deal with that when the time came.
"Are they alright?" Naruto asked once Ino had left Sasuke with his wife and son. She nodded as she closed the door behind her.
"Baby will have to stay in hospital for a fey days, maybe longer," Ino replied, "but I think he will be fine."
"You once told me premature babies can have problems."
"Sometimes. But we won't really know until he gets a bit older. He isn't sickly, at least. His vitals looked good once we got him breathing properly. He is a bit on the small side though."
"He'll grow though, yeah?" Naruto asked.
Ino smiled at his concern. "Yes, maybe a bit slower than his peers, but he will. He'll likely be like Gaara."
"Gaara?" Naruto asked, confused.
"Hmhn," Ino hummed. "Gaara was a prem, and I'm sure you noticed he was quite short for a long time compared to you and the others when we were teens. And he is still short and skinny for a male in his line of work."
Naruto blinked. "Oh, that is why?"
"A contributing factor, at least."
"Is falling during pregnancy always this dangerous?"
Ino shook her head. "No, a baby is usually quite well protected, even from falls. Karin was mid-third trimester, which unfortunately raises the risk of preterm labour when falling a tiny bit. She was just unlucky."
Naruto sagged in relief and pulled his wife into his arms. "Good, I'd hate for you to fall and…"
Ino chuckled and returned her husband's embrace. "Relax, I'm not even 12 weeks yet."
"I know, sorry. I know nothing about this stuff. I don't have a mother who could tell me about what to expect. And uh, even if she was alive, her pregnancy was unusual, with her having been a Jinchuuriki and all."
Ino nodded and buried her face in Naruto's neck. He smelled like aftershave and soap.
"Uotani did it."
Naruto, who had been rubbing his hands in circles on her back stopped. "Huh?"
"She tripped Karin."
Naruto pursed his lips. "Do you have proof?"
"Then I can't do anything."
"I know, I just had to say it. That woman frustrates me."
"Why did she trip Karin?"
"Envy eats nothing but its own heart."
Ino laughed and pulled back enough so she could look up into her husband's blue eyes. "She's jealous."
"Everyone and everything, really," Ino shrugged. "She's jealous of Karin because she is married to Sasuke. She's jealous of me because I have made a name for myself. She's probably jealous of Hinata for being born into the Ancient and Noble House of Hyuuga."
Naruto frowned. "She was talking to you at the party."
Ino grimaced. "Yeah, wouldn't leave me alone. Had to point out that the Yamanaka clan is going backwards."
"What? That's not true."
"It is, when the Nara and Akimichi clans are developing new jutsu and technology and we are not. I-I don't actually know why what she said is bothering me. It's never bothered me before."
"But you are developing new jutsu! I told her!"
Ino rolled her eyes. "And I told you not to tell anybody yet. Honestly, Naruto, it's barely even a concept."
Naruto smiled sheepishly. "Oops?"
Ino chuckled and playfully punched him in the chest, then buried her head under his chin once more. "At least tell me you kept your mouth shut about the baby."
Ino groaned. "Really? I'm not at 12 weeks yet!"
Naruto laughed nervously and scratched the back of his head. "Oops?"
Ino sighed. "Okay, who did you tell?"
"Just Shikamaru. And Sai. And um, Sasuke."
Ino had a nagging feeling that wasn't all. "And-?" she prompted.
"Gaara, Hinata, Kiba…your mother."
Ino groaned again. "You're hopeless. Now that my mother knows, the whole of Konoha will know by tomorrow."
"Actually," Naruto chimed in, "the whole Land of Fire will, knowing your mother."
Ino simply groaned again.
The second memory was not one she had forgotten either, and was from several years after the first.
"Have you thought of a name yet?" Naruto asked, his mouth full with noodles. Six-year-old Kaguya giggled at her father, and moved to try and attempt to stuff her mouth equally as full. Ino patted her arm and when the little girl looked up, shook her head. Kaguya pouted.
Ino rolled her eyes and looked back up at her husband. "No, we are not naming our son after a frog."
Naruto blinked. "Huh? I wasn't talking about the baby."
Ino blinked, then blushed and she absently rubbed her swollen stomach. "Oh, what were you talking about then?"
"The jutsu! It's been years and you still haven't given it a name."
"Naruto, it's barely even a jutsu."
"You should name it something awesome. Like Super Mind Manipulation Dimensional Jumper."
Ino tried very hard not to laugh. She knew Naruto was being very serious, and would be offended if she laughed.
"Um, that's a bit long and winded, don't you think?" Ino managed to say with a straight face.
Naruto looked down at his noodles, the frown on his forehead indicating he was thinking very hard. Then he looked up, excited again. "What about Dimensional Crossfire Super Jump Deluxe?"
This time Ino could simply stare at her husband in amusement.
"What?" Naruto asked when he realised she was staring.
Ino shook her head. "Nothing, just wondering where you got this 'gift' for naming things."
Naruto did not notice she was being sarcastic. "My father, apparently."
Ino had a hard time picturing the Fourth Hokage, Konoha's infamous Yellow Flash, as being a bumbling idiot who named jutsu with ridiculous names. But weirder things have happened.
A loud SPLAT! Interrupted Ino's thoughts. She turned to her daughter and sighed. There were noodles everywhere. And Kaguya was grinning like it was Christmas.
The third memory took her to Konoha's training grounds, three years after the previous one.
Five Dimensions to Heaven. That was the name she had chosen for the jutsu. Naruto had been disappointed. He thought it was incredibly boring.
She struggled with it. Every time she thought she had found a breakthrough, it would simply lead to a dead end. She had been working on it for years now, and people were starting to ask questions.
People, of course, being Uotani. At every social event, the infuriating woman would take it upon herself to remind Ino that while the Nara clan has ditched their efforts to make shadows in the dark; they were now developing other ways to improve the Shadow Sewing jutsu. And the Akimichi clan was now working on another soldier pill. It was getting rather annoying. Uotani's continued effort to snub her was getting ridiculous – it's been years. What was her problem?
Ino had also started to notice other strange things in the village. The High Council, who had before paid little attention to her, seemed awfully interested recently. Four of them had personally sought her out to greet her at the last Hokage Gala. And Shimura Ayaka sneered at her a lot, not that that was anything new really.
Naruto worked longer hours, and came home in a bad mood almost every day. They argued a lot, usually over who would do what chore. It was stupid really.
After giving birth to Minato, Ino had requested long-term leave from the Interrogation Squad. It freed up a lot of her time, and she dedicated half of that to working on Five Dimensions to Heaven. Because, even though she told herself Uotani's words did not bother her, it did. Just a little bit. She wanted this jutsu to be completed. She wanted it to work. It would revolutionise scouting missions. Communications would be completely overhauled, as well. And she was a teeny tiny bit jealous that the other two clans were doing so well.
So here she sat, grass tickling her legs, at the Konoha Training Ground. Her notebook, filled to the brim with everything about her jutsu, sat open before her. She brought her hands together, in the position she always took when she was about to transfer her mind to another, and inhaled deeply.
She could do this.
She felt it. That familiar tingle of leaving her body. She soared ahead, praying that she would be successful.
She came across a barrier, like a brick wall, which forced her back to her body. She opened her eyes, frustrated, but then pain shot through her head and down all the way to her toes. She groaned and slumped forward, surprised at the burning sensation that settled in her head and chest.
This has never happened before.
A blinding flash crept over her, and she had to blink several times to regain her bearings. She frowned. She could have sworn she had just heard a voice…
She looked around, but saw nobody. Shaking her head, she stood up, wobbling slightly.
"Mother," a voice echoed. Ino once again looked around and saw nothing. The pain intensified.
She had to get home.
The next memory was not much later than the previous.
Ino woke up screaming.
She had them every night now. The nightmares.
Naruto sat up, disoriented, but sagged in defeat when he realised his wife was up, and her back turned to him, her pyjamas drenched in sweat.
"Again?" he asked.
He sighed and shuffled closer to her. He placed his hand on her shoulder and she flinched. He ignored the fleeting feeling of hurt that threatened to blossom and pushed it aside. She could not help it. He glanced at her pillow.
She had bitten it again. Completely ruined.
"Ino," he whispered as he leaned into her. "Please. It's been weeks. And I don't know what is going on."
Ino was shaking and muttering something under her breath.
"The nightmares…they started when you came back from training that day. When you felt sick. You never told me what happened."
Ino had stopped muttering, but she was still shaking.
Finally she whispered: "Five Dimensions to Heaven."
Naruto blinked. "What?"
"I think I did it. Sort of."
"What do you mean sort of?"
"It backfired. I thought I had failed, but I think something worked."
"Worked?" Naruto hissed. "Worked? It's done nothing but destroy you!"
Ino turned to face him. "But I brought something back with me. Or someone, at least."
Naruto stated at his wife as if she had sprouted a second head. "Ino, the purpose of Five Dimensions to Heaven is to travel long distances to take over another body."
"Yes, that is the theory," Ino agreed. "But I based it on dimensional travel. So, in theory, it travels through dimensional space to cover that distance. It can perhaps even travel to other dimensions, if they exist."
"Then how the fuck can you bring someone back with you?"
"I don't know!" Ino exclaimed. "The jutsu is far from complete. Something clearly went wrong! But I know something has changed. The nightmares…they-they are far too real to be simply dreams."
"What do you mean?" Naruto asked, dread settling in his gut.
Ino bit her lip and looked down at her hands resting on her lap. "The nightmares. There's a girl. And…me. I'm Hokage."
"But it's in a different world. It has to be! I am a tyrant – I became Hokage by killing you. I torture people for fun. I torture the girl for fun. More than the others."
"I can't explain it. It just feels so real. And then there are the voices."
"Voices?" Naruto echoed.
Ino nodded. "I hear them throughout the day. There is someone in my head, Naruto."
Naruto had no idea what to say. Ino looked at him, desperate and afraid, and he had no clue what to say. What could he say? That it was okay? That clearly she wasn't insane? That this would stop and go away?
Suddenly, Ino's skin turned green, but before Naruto could ask if she was okay, she pulled away and ran for the bathroom. He was just in time to pull her hair out of the way as she bent over the toilet.
After she cleaned her mouth, she collapsed on the ground and grasped her stomach.
"It hurts," she cried. "It always hurts."
Naruto was at a loss. He had no idea what he could do.
"D-do you want some painkillers?"
Naruto helped her to the bed, then headed downstairs to the kitchen. As he poured her a glass of water, he made a mental note that he had to go see Tsunade as soon as possible. Ino was sick. Very sick.
He headed back upstairs, only to find Ino on the ground, shaking. He dropped the glass and practically flung himself to her side, watching in horror as shook violently and foamed at the mouth.
"Kaguya!" he screamed as he lifted his wife into his arms. "Kaguya!"
The ten-year-old ran into the room a minute later, still half-asleep. She froze when she saw her parents.
"Run to the hospital! Tell them I am coming with your mother. Tell them she's having some sort of fit."
Kaguya did not move.
"NOW!" Naruto yelled. Kaguya snapped out of her daze and nodded. She disappeared in a puff of smoke. Naruto smiled despite the dire situation, she was a skilled kunoichi already.
He could hear Minato had woken up, but the toddler luckily wasn't making any noise other than shaking his cot, desperate to get out.
Naruto paced in the hallway, his nerves on edge. Ino had been in the operating room for an hour already, and he feared the worst. Kaguya was sitting on one of the chairs, Minato tucked under her arm. Shikamaru had been called by one of the nurses, and was also sitting down. He looked the most calm out of all of them.
"Naruto, stop pacing, you're giving me a headache," Shikamaru said.
"I can't," Naruto muttered. "I'm too worked up."
"Then get a stress ball or something."
Naruto doubted a stress ball was going to work.
Just then, the door opened and Tsunade stepped outside of the operating room. Naruto was in front of her in an instant.
"Well?" he asked.
Tsunade's expression was grim. "The seizures have stopped, but she's not out of danger yet. Naruto, her chakra system is a mess. It is completely disrupted. I don't even know how she is alive."
Shikamaru had stood to join them, and he was tapping his chin with his finger in thought. "Disrupted? Like with genjutsu?"
Tsunade nodded. "Yes and no. She's not under a genjutsu, we checked. Whatever is wrong with her is messing with her chakra system and production."
Naruto was trying to digest what Tsunade said, but he was finding it difficult to do so.
"Has she been ill recently?" Tsunade asked.
Naruto nodded. "She's had nightmares too. But she says they are…"
He trailed off, not sure how to explain it. Tsunade and Shikamaru glanced at each other.
"Naruto, if you know something, you must tell me. Especially if it can help with her treatment."
Naruto sighed. So tell them, he did.
After he finished, Tsunade and Shikamaru were staring at him, wide-eyed.
"I know it sounds crazy," Naruto began, but Tsunade cut him off.
"No, incomplete jutsu can do all kinds of weird shit. Did Ino write down any of the inner workings of the jutsu?"
"Yeah, she had a notebook."
"Bring it to me. I might be able to figure something out."
Ino stopped pouring her chakra into the barrier that was blocking her memories and stepped back for a moment. None of the memories she had witnessed so far were new, and she was slightly baffled at why she was coming across them as she worked through the barrier. Perhaps she had piled them up, in hopes of burying the blocked memories even deeper?
She shook her head. She remembered her time at the hospital well enough. She had another few episodes of seizures, but luckily the medics were able to prevent it from escalating. When she had woken up, she had worked out with Tsunade that another consciousness was bleeding into hers – an incomplete Mind Transfer was likely the cause.
And it was killing her.
Tsunade studied her notebook vigorously, but had been unable to find a solution. Eventually, the voices and nightmares got so bad; Ino had to be drugged to sleep at all.
And then, one morning, she had woken up, completely healed. Just like that. The voices and nightmares had vanished. The vomiting and seizures stopped. A week later she was discharged and back home with her children. Naruto had ordered her to label the jutsu forbidden, an order she agreed with initially.
Ino never told anyone, but she knew that she was healed because the jutsu had been reversed. The consciousness, the voice in her head, the girl…she had learned all about Five Dimensions to Heaven from Ino's head, and somehow managed to reverse it. Her 'murderer' had saved her life.
Ino feared that the knowledge being out there, somewhere in a broken war torn world, meant it would be used against them somehow. It was why she kept quiet about it. And why she eventually ignored Naruto's order and kept working on it. She had told him, because she would never betray him like that, and he had not liked it. Although she only told him about her still working on it. Not about her concerns of it being used against them.
Ino turned back to the barrier and pursed her lips. She had forgotten that. And in hindsight, keeping quiet about it had been stupid of her.
She reached forward to continue.
The next memory was one of the ones that had been blocked.
"When is this going to stop?"
Ino looked up from the dining table, surprised. "What?"
"The all nighters," her husband snapped. He was standing by the sink, having just dumped the dishes from breakfast in it.
Ino blinked. "I thought we talked about this already? Something went wrong when I activated the Five Dimensions to Heaven, and I want to fix it."
"Something went wrong?" Naruto snorted. "It nearly killed you!"
Ino rolled her eyes. "And yet, here I still am."
"I thought I asked you to stop working on that technique and just scrap it as forbidden," Naruto hissed.
Ino fidgeted and looked away from her husband's gaze. "I can't give up now. I'm so close."
Ino jumped at the noise from Naruto slamming his hands against the sink counter. She turned to him, not surprised to see his face red in anger.
"Dammit Ino!" he yelled. "I know you want to prove something by completing the jutsu, but it is dangerous! Another human being's consciousness bled into yours! You nearly died! Think of the children!"
Ino nearly barked back that the very human who nearly killed her, saved her life in the end. But she chose to show her anger instead. She stood up, the chair clattering to the floor.
"I am thinking about the children! But I can't just leave it now, not when I am so close to making a breakthrough! This can make Yamanaka history!"
She had expected he would yell back. She had thought he would scoff, and yell something about her listening to Uotani too much. That she was jealous of the Nara and Akimichi clans for getting things done, while the Yamanaka clan was stuck with what they had always had. Perhaps even say something about how prideful she was.
Because this had been her pride talking.
His expression drew blank. She quivered under his cold stare. Then he stomped out of the house, the door slamming loudly behind him.
Ino sank to her knees, her earlier confidence gone. Never, in their several years together, had he looked at her like that. Like she was…nothing. Dead. Thin air. Tears started flowing down her cheeks.
What had she done?
Did she seriously let her anger for Uotani, her silly and baseless jealousy get the best of her? Was she really so prideful, so ambitious, that she would push her family away so she can have some glory? Yes, she was worried that the jutsu, now in a woman from another dimension's hands, would be used against them. But really, she wanted to complete the jutsu because she was an idiot.
Envy eats nothing but its own heart.
Ino eventually cried to the point where she no longer could. She managed to pull herself together to call her mother and excuse herself from their plans, and then do the dishes. She mentally chanted to herself that things would get better. When Naruto got home later, she would talk to him. This was just another misunderstanding. Another argument.
She moved to start drying the dishes, only a searing pain suddenly shot through her, almost as intense as the pain she had felt when she had activated Five Dimensions to Heaven. She gasped and stumbled forward. She grabbed the counter, hoping she could break her fall, but missed and collapsed on the ground, the pain now shooting through her spine.
The world became blindingly blurry, and Ino knew that she could potentially have another seizure. Maybe she wasn't out of the woods yet as she had thought. Slowly and painfully, she grasped the cabinet doorhandle to her left and tired to pull herself up. It was difficult, as her limbs felt heavy and numb, but she somehow managed.
She stumbled to the living room, desperately looking for the phone. She hoped it had been returned to its stand, as it was supposed to be if it wasn't being used. But Naruto often forgot it on his desk. And it seemed luck was not on her side. She groaned and turned to move to the study, but another shot of pain crawled up her spine and she collapsed again. Luckily she was able to twist herself so that she landed on the couch, but before she could even try to help herself up again, the pain moved back to her head, and she swore she screamed before everything went black.
No words could describe what Ino was experiencing. At first she thought she had somehow managed to enter her own mind, like you would do to interrogate or find memories, but it didn't feel right. There was a flash, and then she was in a world of white. Just white.
She frowned, turning around, trying to figure out what was going on. Hadn't she just been in the living room, having another fit? Had she lost consciousness? Was she dreaming?
A wind swept through the vast nothingness, and Ino shivered. Another gust came through, this time stronger. And then from the corner of her eye, Ino saw movement. She spun around, and saw a glimpse of a face she had only seen in her nightmares.
Oh shit. Her fear had come true.
Five Dimensions to Heaven. She panicked, knowing that whatever was happening obviously was not supposed to. Or well, it was, but she couldn't allow it to happen. She was a kunoichi. And that meant protecting her village from invaders. And she sure as hell was not going to allow somebody to take her body to use for their own.
She knew it wasn't complete. She knew there was a chance that her attempt to reverse this would blow up in her face. But she had to try. So she performed the seals, and placed her hands together. She inhaled deeply, hoping that it would work out somehow.
She felt that familiar pull, then gasped when the wind was knocked out from her. And then she was falling. And as she fell, it was like she was passing windows into other worlds, some familiar, others not. And she realised that she potentially just made it worse.
'Shit!' she cursed internally. Who knew where she was going to end up? Who knew what was going to happen next?
So she did what any Yamanaka kunoichi would do in such a situation. She delved deep into her mind and pulled. She could not risk capture, where they could interrogate her. She had to forget.
The next thing she knew, she was coming to at Ichiraku's, a much younger Naruto beside her.
Ino staggered back from the memory with a gasp.
Her intention had been clear. She was going to block all of her memories, so that nothing could be extracted from her. Clearly the stress of the situation had made that impossible, and she had ended up only blocking a few. But it was a blessing in the end, for if she had blocked everything; she probably would not have been able to figure out how to reverse Five Dimensions to Heaven again.
She sighed. So it had been an accident. Not because she was running away from something stupid. The argument with Naruto made her heart feel heavy, though. Once she got back, she was going to apologise to him. He deserved better.
The block dissolved, and Ino smiled, knowing that her mind was once again her own.
Now all she had to do was go home.
A/N: Yeah. I know. A year. One big ball of a shit year. But, here I am. And we're close to the end now. Two more chapters to go, I think.
Two of the memories in this chapter has been in the story before, but I added a bit more to them. These are in chapters 26 and 37 respectively.
I don't know when the next chapter will be up. You all know I am unreliable with regular updates, so please bear with me with the last two chapters. If anybody is still even reading this, thank you. Thank you so much. I appreciate it. I don't deserve your loyalty.