Disclaimer: I do not own any part of the Naruto universe. I am simply playing with these characters for my (and hopefully your) enjoyment.
The Right Words
A YamatoxIno oneshot full of flowery excitement.
Ino loved Sakura for a variety of reasons. It was why their friendship had rejuvenated to the level of best buds.
On their rare off days, when they weren't on missions or imprisoned in the hospital, they lounged, watching horridly unrealistic rom-coms and eating ice-cream out of cartons. They would do their hair and paint their fingernails bright colors of Barbie-pink to ANBU-red.
And while their heads were heavy with curlers and their fingers immobile for the time, they would talk about those in the village, or even other hidden villages. They would chatter about the latest top-secret missions in hushed voices and give out booming giggles at speculated couples. Sakura would talk of the ever-growing stack of empty sake-bottles under the Hokage's desk and Ino would talk how Asuma's child was growing by the day and had made Shikamaru the biggest softie she had ever seen.
Ino loved these days; they allowed her time to breathe and not worry about counting carbs. But there were even limits to this. For one, Ino could not talk about Sakura herself, and there was often gossip about her. Ino abhorred to admit it, but someone on the dream-7-team as well as a medic on par with Tsunade, who was somehow still single, was a hot topic. Ino knew that bringing her single-life topic up was the same as bringing up how her chest had yet to rival Ino's. It would only lead to disaster. Saying whatever was on her mind often lead to disaster as well, because Sakura had annoying morals for Ino's unabashed attitude towards rumors.
So Ino had to hold back on these days that were supposed to have no bounds and, frankly, she was sick of it.
The blond looked out and sighed at the dismal crowd that had appeared at the bar tonight.
Ino reasoned, as she sipped on her sake, that it was a late Tuesday night. That meant the majority of the civililan population were in bed, getting ready for a new workday tomorrow. But Ino knew she had some leave before another mission or a hospital shift. And since everyone seemed to be busy and Ino still felt like some excitement, she had gone alone. Now she was regretting it. Even though she was wearing a deadly, short black dress that accentuated her dangerous curves, there had only been a few biters and none of whom she mirrored the attraction with.
That left her here now, sulking and wondering why she felt more like an alcoholic than someone who just wanted to have a little romp of entertainment.
"DENY ME AND I'LL SEND TREES AT YOU! I'LL MAKE THEM COME FOR YOU RUNNING!" and then a moment later "NO, I AM NOT DRUNK GOOD SIR!
The sudden brawl had come from the opposite end of the long bar. Ino sat up in shock to see a tall, sitting figure suddenly slump onto the bar, the bartender looking a little frightened at the action. Obviously it was someone past tipsy, but it seemed this one was a tad bit formidable as Ino caught the glint of metal on his forehead and noted the dark-green jacket.
Seeing that no one was going to get up and deal with the man who was still loudly muttering, Ino gave a heavy sigh before knocking back the rest of her sake and standing up.
She walked over and just as she tapped the man on his shoulder, Ino realized that even with all her ability she may not be able to handle this man. Shinobi who looked quiet and relatively normal were sometimes the most formidable. She only had to look at Shikamaru or Sai.
But she still felt strong, probably from the sake. She poked his arm, purposely making her fingernail dig in.
"Wha-?" the man slurred as he twisted on the barstool. Ino had to hold down the sudden snort when she immediately recognized the man to be Yamato.
While she knew loads about him, she doubted he knew anything of her. They had a few similar friends, the closest obviously being Sakura, but Ino had never been truly introduced to him. She had seen him at Sakura's birthday party last year, but she was always busy with her own group while Yamato was busy making sure Kakashi would not flee or making scary faces, to intimidate Naruto from not eating the cake. Maybe they had been introduced later in the night, but by then they were no-doubt tipsier then now. Ino had had a headache from that party for days; had been unable to use a mind-swap for a week.
She had also seen him around Hokage tower multiple times, in both ANBU attire and in his flak jacket. He had seemed friendly enough; Ino thought once he had smiled at her once while she waited to be debriefed.
And of course, she could never forget, how he had come with the aid to help her team against Kakuzu years ago. She had not seen the full-extent of his abilities there, she was sure, but it was still amazing to see someone with the ability to manipulate wood, especially with ease.
As she wondered if he was fit to actually skewer her with such wooden ability, she watched as his eyes roamed her body. It seemed his dark eyes seemed to light up for a moment.
"'Ello there," he said before a hiccup caused him to pause; "Who're you?"
Feeling a stab at her pride - they had faced down against an Akatsuki member together! - Ino forced a smile and slid into the stool next to him. She raised her hand to the bar-tender who looked suddenly relieved. Ino felt like she should lecture the civilian man for allowing Shinobi customers, but then she remembered the man next to her when he reached out and touched her hair.
"It feels like new, soft root systems," he said as he continued to run his fingers through her hair.
She felt her chest puff out a little in rejuvenated pride, but she gave an incredious squawk a moment later as he pulled. Hard.
"Pity there's no plant at the end, only your head!" he joked, laughing heartily a few moments later.
Ino felt herself growl, but then a drink was slid over to her.
"Yamato," she said with a smile as she detangled his gloved hand from her hair, "What brings you to this bar?"
He seemed to blink, as if confused by hearing himself addressed (Did he prefer Tenzō? But only Kakashi called him that.) before he laughed again.
"I don' 'member!" he exclaimed out before taking a gulp of his drink. She noted it was some sort of frilly drink, even clad with a little umbrella. She also saw that a good deal of similar little umbrellas were stuck into his forehead protector. Ino resisted the urge to count them all; each one was so bright and colorful.
He was a classic too-gone and while Ino wouldn't mind this, she was still half-sober herself. She glanced at the bartender and saw him silently plead for her to get rid of him (this was not the first time she had to act like a bodyguard). Quickly she knocked back the rest of Yamato's drink and took his arm, beginning the task of dragging him out. She didn't bother paying; that bartender owed her this.
She huffed a little, even though they were only just outside the bar. Yamato felt like he was made of stone. His dead-weight made Ino fear he would snap her heels.
"You smell good...gardenias, hydrangeas and honey-suckle," he said after a few heavy sniffs from her neck. But then he reared his head back and said, "'Nd something fake- 'ow is that vanilla?"
Ino raised an eyebrow in appreciation. She had worked with those flowers today; as for the 'fake vanilla' it was her perfume she had sprayed on before leaving. For some reason men liked the scent of vanilla; maybe it reminded them of baking cookies and love.
"Even drunk you are quite able," she said as she attempted to push him away.
Yet this very able Shinobi refused to let go, his arms like a vice around her shoulders.
"I can show you capable-"
"Alright then," Ino spoke up before he could finish; "Where do you live?"
"My place, is it? How forward young lady," he cackled as she began walking to the right of the street. Might as well go one direction, it was a fifty-fifty chance.
"Sure," she huffed in annoyance. Ino honestly did not want anything to do with this blubbering fool right now, as she felt miserable from being alone at the bar. But maybe if she did this he would owe her one. If anything she could complain to Sakura and she would treat her to lunch.
When Yamato was quiet for a good five minutes of walking, she asked him again. He burst out into a fit of giggles before exclaiming, "I fo'got!" and promptly set all his weight on Ino.
She groaned under the weight and again cursed. Men were so useless at times.
Yamato woke with a pain in his head. He wished he could think of a word stronger than 'pain.' It was a throbbing behind his eyes and a splitting sensation in his head, like a seedling had taken root in his brain and was attempting to split his skull like a seedpod. It really hurt.
He groaned and turned, causing him to fall a few feet to a hard carpeted floor with a thud. He groaned again, not feeling like opening his eyes in fear of the sun.
"So you've finally decided to awaken, sleeping beauty," a very feminie voice said not far off.
This shock got him standing and blearily rubbing his eyes to take in the situation around him. He took in much from the first sweep of the room, but the most striking realization that came to him was how he was not at his apartment or anywhere he remotely recognized.
When a young woman with tied-up blond hair, clad in a worn cropped t-shirt and pajama shorts, came out from the kitchen with a steaming cup of what smelled like coffee, he felt his stomach drop. She seemed to recognize the shade of green his face had probably turned when she pointed to the right and said, "The bathroom is through that door."
Yamato offered her a hurried thank you, closing his mouth fast in fear of something other than words coming out, before he lunged for the bathroom and shut the door back behind. Once he felt like he had puked everything up in his stomach and then the stomach itself, as well as a few other organs, Yamato stumbled back out.
She was still there, although now she was inside the kitchen and had begun making breakfast. He continued his hobble-walk to stand at the door-way where she had previously stood.
"So," she began from the kitchen, "How are you feeling? De-flowered perhaps?"
He watched her with lowered eyelids, but he did give a half-smile. "I do, indeed, feel quite uprooted."
"Ah, so you have a sense of humor just like Sakura said!" the blond laughed as she turned to him. He could see two eyes that seemed to change between green and blue; a very pretty aquamarine like a cascading jade vine flower.
"Naruto disagrees, says that you aren't funny at all. Only spooky," she continued to blabber as she moved something in a pan on the stove. It looked like scrambled eggs.
Yamato continued to stand there, his fuzzy brain trying to figure out what was going on. Obviously he was still in Konohagakure, but he honestly did not know who this young woman was. He would have felt happier with the situation if he had woken up naked and in her bed, but no, instead he woke up fully-clothed on a lumpy couch with a splitting headache. Even though he was quite a rational man, he felt this hangover was making him even more blunt than usual.
So, feeling guilty and like an idiot, he asked, "Who are you again?"
This made her frown before she turned to him, putting hands on her hips (Yamato winced - he knew that universal sign in women) and stated, "Yamanaka Ino."
Yamato squinted his eyes at her before they opened in revelation. "Inoichi's daughter, I remember you now. You look quite different when you don't have your bangs down."
Ino lifted a hand up and she realized they were fully pulled back for once. When she turned back she saw that he was gone and had returned to the couch. She could hear him groan as he touched his forehead. Then he asked out the inevitable quesiton of, "So...what happened?"
"You were a classic drunk last night, stating how you had some 'specially controlled wood' in your pants you wanted to show me-"
"You're kidding," he said as he was suddenly at the kitchen bar that overlooked the stove Ino was currently at.
"No, really, you said you could move it better than any other wood you could conjure up -"
"Stop, for the mercy of the First, stop," Yamato said in hot humiliation, suddenly feeling that wearing full-body lycra was a bad idea. Although, he would have liked to have a mask like Kakashi to hide behind. He was sure his face was turning red.
Yet Ino's face stayed unflushed as she laughed at him and moved to get some toast that had just popped up. "I have heard much worse, believe me," she laughed; "And I was kidding. You were not nearly as creative in your approach. But you looked so defenseless right now, I couldn't help it!"
Yamato did not know what to feel.
"Anyway," she continued, "You couldn't remember where you lived so, rather than leaving you out for the shop-owners to find early this morning, I brought you back home."
"Home as in, your father lives here?" Yamato asked in sudden fear. Sure, the man was nearing mid-forties, but that did not mean he was suddenly unable to be a highly-capable shinobi.
"Home as in my own apartment I've been living in since seventeen," she snorted.
Yamato was quiet then, and soon Ino brought out two plates of breakfast. She returned to the kitchen for her cup of coffee from before, and then offered him some. He refused politely, and so she offered him tea that he accepted.
"I can't believe you don't recognize me," Ino sighed as she sat back down after handing him his cup.
"I would have eventually," he argued with a shrug. "You are quite known for a variety of reasons. Especially how you almost flashed everyone at a bathhouse recently."
"That was purely accidental!" Ino screeched, catching Yamato highly off guard. He almost flipped his plate of eggs and toast up in reaction, as her voice had sounded like kunai clashing.
Once recovered, he lifted his eyebrows up at her in question.
"Tenten was feeling all full of herself since she had just been with Neji and- wait. How did you know about me almost flashing?"
"The fourth time Tenten and that Hyūga have come together, huh? What a shame they make of each other," Yamato muttered to himself. He then looked at Ino and said, "I just heard some of the Jōnin talking about it, before Sakura came roaring in."
Ino made a mental note to thank Sakura before she said, "It's actually only the third time something happened between Neji and Tenten."
"Hn, not true," Yamato said around a bite of toast, "There was that small Tanigakure mission where apparently there was nothing else to do on the rivers, a seduction mission of Tenten that Neji got so jealous over he simply knocked the target out and jumped her instead, last summer after the sakura watching were I'm supposing Tenten put something in his sake and then now. Really, the youth of this village..."
Yamato went back to eating, missing the stupified face of Ino. When he finally did look up at her becuase of her silence, he took her face the wrong way.
"I apologize for my insensitivity," he said nobly and with entire truthfulness; "I should know better than to talk badly of your teammates. It must be the hangover, I usually don't rattle off like that."
"No, no-!" Ino said in a hurry as she pushed her plate aside; "That was amazing! Even I was unaware of that seduction-mission detail, and I was completely unaware of the sakura viewing!"
Yamato blinked owlishly at her before giving a shrug of his shoulders. But Ino saw the slight color high on his cheeks; he must be easily flattered.
"I never took you as one for a gossip," Ino said as she cupped her chin in an upturned palm
He scratched the back of his head a little before explaining, "I was ANBU for so long and collecting information is such a critical point of it it has just, well, become engrained in me. It's natural really, I simply file away all the information about people in case I need it for a later time. While gossip is not the most reliable information, rumors don't start for no reason. No matter how lucrative it is, there stands to be at least some shred of proof to uncover."
"So rather than being a deadly assassin you're now a deadly rumor collector?" Ino said, holding down a laugh. "It is the perfect scenario though, you unsuspecting but with all the skill. Do many people know you know all about them?"
He gave another shrug before he began rubbing at his temples. Maybe it was the hangover that was making him suddenly ok with the situation at hand. Here he was in a young lady's apartment without any real consent, only here from coincidence and a bad tolerance to alcohol. Yet rather than seeming peeved, Ino seemed more fascinated with him than anything.
"So, tell me about the mission that Neji actually went against," Ino said, like a small girl ready for a bedtime tale.
Soon the stories flowed as each one made Ino ask more questions, revealing details to stories she had previously known, but not this extent. Sakura had always described Yamato as a very stoic man who was always the one most concentrated on the mission. Maybe it was because this wasn't a mission scenario that he was so nonchalant and talkative.
Quickly an hour had passed, and then another, before Yamato began to feel the true fatigue of the headache. He supposed rounding up all this information and stories had not helped in its recovery.
"Hm, I should have learned from Sakura how to battle a hangover better," Ino said as she came up to him and lifted his forehead protector, feeling his slightly hot skin. She was a medic and did hospital shifts similar to Sakura, but headaches were very tricky since it was dealing directly with the brain.
Yamato ignored how cool her fingers felt, but he could not distract himself from how he suddenly had an excellent view down her shirt.
Ino continued with, "I just have such a tolerance already I have no need for it."
"While I appreciate your assistance, I do not require it," Yamato said with a wavy smile.
Ino stuck her bottom lip out in annoyance before she asked, "So why were you at the bar again?"
"I was with Kakashi-senpai, in apparent victory for a mission well-done, but clearly he skipped out on the bill and left me to drown myself."
The blond nodded in understanding. Only once had she tagged along to lunch with Team 7, out of curiosity. After that she did not feel like she wanted to help pay for his deluxe plate of tempura he had literally inhaled when Ino had blinked.
"Sounds like him. If you want, you can keep recovering here," Ino said as she finally stood and took their plates and cups to the kitchen with a hop in her steps.
Looking at the sun outside, Yamato realized morning was soon going to meld into afternoon and he had yet to hand in his mission report. Thankfully it was already written, sitting pretty at his desk in his own apartment across town.
"Thank you, Miss Yamanaka-"
"Don't you dare call me that! You just told countless peoples' secrets to me, the least you could do is call me by my first name."
This girl definitely was as social as everyone said, Yamato realized, as all he managed was a weak smile in answer.
"I do appreciate the offer, but I do have duties to fulfill today," he sighed as he moved to her window. He almost jumped, but then he thought again and peeked his head back in to say, "I never truly thanks you for the help against Kakuzu. So, thank you for your abilities." And then he had jumped out of sight.
Ino looked out from the kitchen window and gave a little wave, which he returned, before he was off. So he really hadn't forgotten that whole escapade against evil.
Ino sighed as she slumped behind the counter. It was barely past six and her father had rushed her up with a piglet summon to the shop. When she arrived, he explained in a hurry that he was called off for some interrogation at the tower and she needed to step in. Honestly, Ino sighed, her father was getting too old to be dealing with high-end criminals.
When the bell gave a little jingle, Ino looked up and straightened as she saw Yamato.
"Yamato!" she called out happily, at to which he just gave a ghost of a smile.
"Hello Miss Ya- Ino," he corrected himself as he saw her eyes narrow.
"What brings you?" she asked, although she really wanted to ask more about what he had recently heard around their massive village. It had only been a few days since he had been on her couch (snoring like trees being ripped from the ground) but in those hours countless things could have occurred.
"When my mind finally became clear yesterday, I realized I owed you something for your care," he said stiffly.
Ino now understood what Sakura explained how he had a very wooden persona in more ways than one.
"Oh, really," she said with a wave of her hand, "It was nothing. People stay on that couch all the time."
"Regardless, what can I do to show my appreciation?"
Ino put a finger to her lips in thought. And then it came to her easily.
"My floors. I want wooden floors," she said in a gush; "I haven't been able to afford them and I've already permission from the landlady."
Yamato's eyebrows rose and he lifted a hand to rub at his lips in thought. Then he said, "It shouldn't be too much of a problem. Will you be out today? Shall I do it now?"
"Now?" she asked in amazement. Could he really just do that?
He gave a small smile at this. "I can easily conjure up a house. A simple reflooring shouldn't be too much trouble."
"I have carpet right now," she told; "Do you need help ripping it up?"
He gave her a flat look that she shrunk under a little. "Right, shinobi and ANBU master."
When he did not leave, and instead looked at some lilacs to his right blandly, Ino realized he wanted to say something else. So, she egged him on with, "Is there anything else?"
"I'm interested how you haven't told anyone about my drunken escapades," he said as his dark eyes slid over to her once again.
"Pssh-" she said with a roll of her eyes; "I am not spilling something about you that obviously only I would know about if, like I highly suspect, you know so much about me. I don't want you as an enemy."
"Well, that's obvious enough as we both fight for the same village," he said with a tip of his head.
"Your humor is dry when you're sober, too?" Ino said; "Pity that."
While this would have made him grin a little that morning, he now only blinked. Suddenly feeling odd for such a flat joke, Ino did a half-chuckle of her own before saying that he could go if he wanted. Before he left, she tucked one of the new purple-white lilac hybrids she had helped along into one of the many pockets in his flak jacket. He had seemed to give a soft smile at the odd gesture before he was off.
Ino was eager to see how the flooring was going, so when her mother woke up a few hours later, Ino was off like Akamaru to a steak.
When she arrived home, she patted down her hair and entered, feeling odd that she should be apprehensive about entering her own place. She looked immediatly down and gasped at the smooth, polished flooring. The ratty carpet was gone and few furniture pieces were back. The carpenter himself was sitting out one of her windows. He was careful not to step on any of the flower pots and seemed to be feeding some cardinals sunflower seeds. The bright yellow flowers were sprouting from his arms, so when he turned to wave, seeds scattered and the birds flew.
"Erm," she began, feeling he looked a little laughable; "The floor looks amazing."
"I forgot to ask what type of wood you prefered," Yamato said as he hoped back in the room. He then cut off the sunflowers at the base of his skin, much to Ino's shock and mild horror, before bundling them and handing them over to her. "In thanks for the lilac."
"Oh, thank you," she said uneasily as she took his self-grown flowers. Seeds still fell from them, and she looked to see the cardinals from before hopping on the window sill in envy.
"What type did you decide on?" she asked as she moved to the kitchen to grab a vase.
"I thought cherry wood would do. It doesn't scrape too easily and the color is dark and fairly easy to maintain," he rattled on as Ino reappeared with the bouquet in water.
"Perceptive as always," she said with a flashy smile before she placed the large flowers on the round table.
She looked over to him, who she found was looking at her.
"What?" she asked smartly.
"You really won't tell the rest of Team 7 about me being drunk?"
"Why are you so worried about that?" she laughed; "Everyone indulges a little too much sometimes."
"Naruto would never respect, let alone fear, me again once he hears those pick-up lines. And then they would jam alcohol down my throat just to see it all for themselves," he stated.
Ino blinked at how he did not sound worried or had any emotional reaction to the picture he had just painted for her. If Ino knew her friends were like that, she would relocate to a new Hidden Village, so hidden no one knew about it yet.
"Well, till another time Miss Ino," Yamato said as he stood and straightened his face-framing forehead protector.
"Stay for lunch," Ino suddenly found herself rushing to say. "I just picked up some fish - you do eat fish right?"
"Why wouldn't I?" he asked with another tilt of his head. Ino realized he must do that in habit when something interested him.
"You're so connected to everything," she said with a jesture to the flowers and then the birds still sitting patiently; "I just wondered."
He simply shook his head before going back to the birds outside, shooing them away. Soon, after Ino had seared the fish with a simple fire jutsu and Yamato had set the table, they were chatting up a storm yet again. Ino talked first, but it seemed Yamato was already aware of almost all she had to diverge. He, on the other hand, had a first-hand account worth sharing.
"You're shitting me," Ino gasped, pits of fish falling out of her mouth as her jaw fell.
"I assure you I am not," Yamato said as his chopsticks clicked to pick up a piece of pickled radish; "I saw them holding hands at the bookstore yesterday. Quite close."
"To think..." Ino shook her head; "Izumo Kamizuki and Kotetsu Hagane-" she broke off in a squeal. "Oh, when I tell Sakura this she has to see them everyday and she's going to blush everytime and they'll realize they've been discovered and-" she squealed again, louder if possible.
"It's like I just told you an enemy-nin's unknown weakness," Yamato said around another bite.
"How are you not interested in this!" Ino said with clear eyes glimmering.
She sighed melodramatically before saying, "For being someone who knows everything you sure seem apathetic to it all."
"I am not a teenage girl," he reminded blandly.
For some reason, Ino found herself laughing. And somehow, it seemed a new friendship had formed.
People found it odd when they began seeing the young Yamanaka and the ex-ANBU, part first-Hokage Yamato attached at the hip. Soon the nickname of 'Yama-Yama' had appeared. But it seemed that they shared more than similar names if they continued to see each other as much as they did. Of course people whispered, and the two found it hilarious (or at least Ino did, Yamato didn't laugh all that much).
It was essentially that - gossip - that kept them together. Ino found that while she held back for Sakura, to Yamato's stoic face she would say whatever she wanted. He would comment, but never judge her like Sakura had a tendency to do. Yamato would just sit and listen and inform her - it was a great agreement.
That, and their affinity to plants and anything from the earth. Ino got tips from Yamato and, similarly, Ino tried to help expand his ability with plants. Yamato told her how he did not plan to stop expanding his abilities anytime soon until he truly put the First's abilities to work.
Soon the shop was full of cross-breeds of flowers and seedlings Yamato had thought would be interesting. Ino was always up for experimentation (if only her father was the same, who had yet the commend her ability to create new colors). She even began teaching him the ancient language of the flowers, Yamato's interest immediately perked when she told him nothing didn't have a secret meaning. She explained with a coy smile that the purple and white mixed lilac flowers he had stared at and she had given his first time here signified first emotions of love (the purple) and youthful innocence (the white). He had turned a pretty light pink, which she commented that on a rose also meant desire and youth.
Whenever they had leave they could be found together, hunched over hybrids or whispering over tea. It was one of their regular lunches at one of the numerous cafes in town when Ino elbowed a dozing Yamato in the ribs, pointing to two figures walking down the street.
"Look!" she hissed in his ear; "It's Sakura and Kakashi."
This caught Yamato's attention as he looked up and blinked the slight sleep from his eyes. When he took in the two strolling down the road, Kakashi with his nose in porn and Sakura's eyebrows furrowed at the orange book, he looked back to Ino expectantly.
"There's nothing scandalous there," he said before he dropped his head back on an arm.
"But they have been spending quite some time together lately," Ino said as she drummed her nails on the table.
"You can't be thinking-"
"Why not?" Ino interrupted; "It's not completely unbelievable."
Yamato lifted his head again, drew his lips in a thin line, and looked out at Kakashi and Sakura again. The pink-haired kunoichi had latched herself onto one of Kakashi's arms to pull him inside a shop, but the taller man was trying (in vain due to her strength) to go to a shady looking bookstore instead.
"You know you want to find valid proof, either way," Ino wheedled; "If I can't stand to only wonder what Sakura is doing you must wonder what Kakashi is doing.
He could not lie to that.
"And what are friends for, if not to meddle in each other's lives? And if someone found out their situation before us, I would die of humiliation."
Going past the exaggerated threat of death, Yamato contemplated her words. He sighed as he knew she was not going to give this up. Spending these months with her had easily allowed him to understand all her expressions and the moods they hinted to. Right now, all he saw was determination. Nothing of finding the truth would stop her.
This was not the first time (and he knew not the last time, either) Yamato had done a stakeout with Ino for non-mission reasons.
The last time was at a bathhouse, where he had felt incredibly uncomfortable as she had thrown both of them in a small closet. With only towels covering creamy skin, Yamato had a blush that reached even the tips of his ears. Thankfully he had the steam to blame for his lobster-like face. In this particular escapade they had discovered Anko was having a very 'steamy' situation with some person named Hayase Ino barely knew about. It was one of the times that he was reminded how Ino was quite beautiful. And shameless, as she invited him to join her for a soak (he refused of course, his face still hot).
But this careful watch was going to be much simpler and would not require them stuck in a closet. Yamato would sit outside of Kakashi's place while Ino would do the same for Sakura's. Whoever saw some movement would contact the other through the radio.
While it had sounded simple, Ino was getting bored out of her mind by the time the fourth hour rolled around without a sight of her pink-haired friend. She could only stand to watch the moon rise for so long. To be out this late, Sakura must still be on her hospital rounds or dragging a drunk Hokage home...
She crackled the radio and said, "Yamato, are you there? Over."
"Here. Any movement? Over."
"Nope. Over there? Over."
"He's reading. Previously washed his dogs, prepared for dinner. Nothing out of the ordinary, over."
"How domestic, over."
Silence once again hung between them.
"So, who was your first kiss Yamato? Over," Ino suddenly blurted.
"Why do you want to know the answer to that? What could you possibly gain?" he asked back in obvious bafflement over the radio. He added after a late pause, "Over."
She moved on her branch so the texture wasn't digging into her skin as much; "Well, why not? And you sound a little defensive, over."
Ino actually had the sneaking feeling that it must have been a guy, since Yamato himself had explained just how many years he had been in the ANBU. There were few breaks, and Ino imagined him as an awkward youth, spending more time sprouting seeds than learning how to charm a girl out of her skirt. And that was even if he had the off-base opportunity.
"Was it Kakashi? Over," she asked as a joke. But when she heard only silence from his end, she gasped, "No. Way. Was he good? Over."
"We were going into a huge battle," he explained in a hurry, "And he knew I had never been kissed, so he just suddenly jammed our faces together. It was probably more of a joke and to get black-mail on me than anything you're thinking of. Over."
Ino was wrackled with giggles, threatening to topple her off the branch she was perched on. She knew that Kakashi did have a very dry sense of humor, but that kiss sounded wet and too much!
"How old were you?" she asked in interest. She was over saying 'over.'
"I believe... thirteenth summer."
Ino growled in defeat, "How unfair! Mine was on my fifteenth birthday."
"Who was it?" Yamato asked in interest, holding back the shock of her having her first-kiss that old for someone who was obviously so sure of herself.
"Shikamaru," Ino sighed in rememberance; "I asked for it as a present and it was awkward but so rewarding. Then I realized he liked - yes, somehow he, the most lazy person in all the hidden villages, got his heart going - Temari instead and all he felt for me was obligation becuase of our family ties. But that's boring. Long story short, he has something with her and I began drowning myself with boyfriends ever since. I was never very patient, so don't even bring up the prospect of me waiting for Sasuke to get his spiky head out of his ass."
Yamato leaned back on the branch, thinking of all the rumors he had heard of her. Many boyfriends were bitter at their sudden breakups when she stated she was 'bored' with them. He had thought her to be quite a man-eater of hearts before (maybe she shouldn't have been so worried going against Kakuzu?) but now it made since. She had waited for Sasuke for years, but once she had found another hopeful person, he had already been unavailable as well.
"That sounds unfortunate, over," he finally said after he realized the silence was getting long. This was surely an odd conversation to have on a stakeout.
"So is life, over," she sighed dramatically.
There was silence yet again and Ino was about to comment on how Sakura's neighbor was watching a kinky, adult-rated film when Yamato's voice crackled over in a whisper.
"Sakura just showed up, over."
"Give me a minute, over."
Immediately Ino leaped into a sprint, overtaking houses, streets and multi-storied buildings with giant jumps. It took just what she said to reach Yamato, landing lightly on his branch and squinting her eyes.
"Anything?" she whispered over to him as she rearranged herself, allowing her legs to swing under her. Yamato remained in his crouched position, as if on a true mission and ready to pounce.
"No," he answered simply.
And that answer continued to last for some time, as the two in the room did not show signs past a teammate relationship. Sakura petted and brushed all the dogs, fresh and fluffy after their baths that Yamato explained were not an easy task for even the skilled Kakashi. Then they made dinner together, chatting as they ate. Yamato commented on how Kakashi was not reading and had his mask down as well; very uncharacteristic. Ino craned her neck, but he was facing against them. All they would be able to see was his stock of silver hair.
Ino yawned loudly and leaned against Yamato for warmth as Sakura and Kakashi fed the dogs. Then they began doing the dishes.
"They are so mundane," she commented on in a flat voice.
No sooner had the words sprung out then Sakura had taken Kakashi's hand in hers and walked them deliberately over to his bedroom. The smirk on her face could not have been misread.
She heard Yamato give an audible exhale of breath before he began a set of hand signs. Soon his fingers were vines, and they grew and crept the distance to Kakashi's apartment. Meanwhile, Ino watched his face. When his eyes widened and he quickly retracted the vines to regular fingers, he said, "Well then."
Ino saw, even in the dark, his face was flushed and he was looking anywhere but the small apartment.
"Heavy breathing, rumbling moans?" she asked quickly.
He nodded; she whistled.
Ino sighed as, for the countless time that afternoon, Yamato jumped at a sudden noise. This time it was only a clumsy waitress dropping a cup of water.
"You need to relax. Here, have some coffee," Ino said across to the older man with a grin.
"I cannot relax," Yamato whispered; "I know Kakashi-senpai's secret."
"You know so many people's secrets you're probably a village hazard. But people don't know that, just like he doesn't know you know."
"But what if he knows I know but that I think he thinks I don't know and I end up getting murdered because of it," Yamato said quickly.
"Ok, seriously calm down," Ino said gently as she patted his hand; "Yes, you know a secret they would kill us over, but there's no fretting over it."
He became silent, allowing Ino to have a good look-over at the situation at hand. True, it wasn't like Kakashi and Sakura having something past platonic was anything to get the village up for, but it was still interesting for Ino to chew over. For the most obvious reason, he was her ex-sensei. True, she was now a jōnin just as Kakashi and no longer had him, or anyone else, as a teacher. If she ever had a teacher it was obviously Tsunade, but it still felt a little odd.
"I wonder how it happened," Ino said to break the silence.
"Can we not talk about it? I've been thinking about it and now if we keep talking-" he rambled as he lowered his face closer to his soba noodles, as if he wished to hide in the depths of the small bowl.
"Are you jealous or something? Want more than just that one kiss?" Ino asked with a disarming smirk; "If their moans made you blush he must be really good-"
"Shhhhh-!" Yamato said quickly as he looked over and saw Genma and Raidō give them an odd look.
"You're the one who needs to quiet himself," Ino sniffed.
Yamato leaned over, running hands through his hair in distress. It was as if he was under some horrible genjutsu and only wanted to escape. It seemed his habit of spying on people had finally caught up to him. Truly, Ino didn't understand what the huge problem was. They only knew that two people were together like never before. It wasn't new for either of them. Shinobi were famous for sudden pairings, the fear of deadly missions pushing them to connect with someone.
"You know, I don't think I've heard one rumor of you before," Ino said to change the subject and hopefully distract him. It really was sad to see someone as able and accomplished as him fretting over something like this.
"I like a low profile," he stated. "I don't like enemies and people giving me odd glances."
"Hah! Well, seems that's changed since you've become so close to me," Ino said through her glass.
Yamato finally looked up, and saw that, indeed, there were a few people studying him. One was a seemingly normal group of teenage boys. Half were glaring at him, the other half drooling at Ino.
"How old are you?" he suddenly asked her.
She sputtered on her drink before managing to ask, "Excuse me?"
"Sakura is the same age as you, correct?"
"Oh," she said, realizing she had misunderstood; "Nineteen."
"And Sakura became a Jōnin at eighteen, am I correct?"
Ino muttered a curse under her breath before saying, "Yeah."
Yamato raised an eyebrow at this before saying, "Why are you offended? You became a Tokubetsu Jōnin last year."
"You know?" she asked in interest.
"Of course I'd know. Your father could not stop bragging about it," Yamato grinned; "And then you were given a recruitment letter from ANBU that you declined not a week later."
"Not for me," she laughed uncomfortably.
Yamato seemed to be back to normal, no longer looking like a sapling in a storm but a secured tree. But it only lasted a moment more. Then his eyes grew wide and he dived to hide under his bowl like before. This time his nose was on the rim of the bowl, causing ripples in the broth.
"They're here," he whispered.
Ino felt her stomach uncharacteristically drop in dread before she looked around, indeed sighting one lanky form with silver hair and a shorter one with pink. She quickly ducked under the stall and whispered to Yamato, "Don't worry, they haven't spotted us. All we have to do is sneak out and-"
"Well, good morning."
Yamato wasn't the only one who jumped at Kakashi's voice, both heads turning to see him and Sakura. The later was beaming down at them while the former had a look of boredom. Ino glanced over at Yamato's face that had slackened to nothing. Finally he got out with a grin, "Don't you mean good afternoon?"
Kakashi raised an eyebrow, obviously not liking being questioned.
"Well, gotta go now," Yamato said as he stood with a sudden jolt, almost flipping the table over onto Ino. He gave a meaningful look at her.
"But I just ordered-" she tried to protest, but he simply grabbed her wrist, threw some money on the table (this shocked Ino, she was going to treat him like usual) before walking out of the store like his spine was stuck straight.
"Yamato," Ino whispered as they began a speedy retreat, "Now they'll know something is up!"
To affirm this, she glanced back and saw that Sakura was watching them with narrowed eyes. Ino knew that look.
"I think I'm relocating to Suna," Yamato stated suddenly. "Sure, I don't like the sand, but I could simply just grow a forest of something. Yeah- raise a forest!"
Ino looked at Yamato as if he was turning mad, especially with that ghoulish expression he had. It was scaring all the everyone, shinobi or civilian, out of the street.
The blond teenager wanted to laugh at the Yamato before her, but resisted the urge. He looked a tad too fragile to laugh at him.
"Ino, Ino - I think he knows! He was at my apartment and he was waiting and looked moody so-"
"You fled here," she finished dryly. "Did it not occur to you that he might just want to talk becuase, oh, I don't know, you were in ANBU together and are friends?"
"Oh," Yamato said.
She sighed and rubbed her sleep-ladden eyes with a hand. She moved out of the doorway, allowing him to step in.
"Your paranoia is really something," she said as she moved back to her bedroom.
"You haven't had anything done to you by him. While he will always be amazing in my eyes, he has bad sides I deathly fear..."
Ino sighed as she reached her bed. Looking at Yamato and realizing he was too busy pacing like a caged animal, she dropped her bathrobe and went back into her bed with only her panties and t-shirt. Not that it mattered much, as he had seen her in less.
"Come here, you block-head," Ino sighed as she patted the bed.
Yamato looked from her to the nearest window, asking, "Have you protected your windows against unwanted intruders?"
"Sure," she said as she patted the sheets again.
Finally he sat on the corner of the bed, and she lied back down. She brought the blankets up to her chin and sighed in content. He sat in silence before he unbuckled his sandals and holsters, zipped off his flak jacket and lifted off his fore-head protector. Ino felt the mattress shift as he lied down aside of her on top of the blankets.
"You don't think he saw me and followed me here and is now waiting for the opportune moment-"
Ino silenced him with a pillow to the face.
When Yamato woke the next morning, he looked over and almost jumped off the bed in shock. Because that was Ino right there with her sleeping face, her long hair fanned out in every direction.
This was bad. He had once again overstepped a boundary despite their friendship. Yamato quickly swung his legs over and hasily began snapping his sandals on. He had just placed his forehead protector back on when he turned and saw in the window one Kakashi Hatake peaking in. Yamato let his mouth fall open in a silent scream, his dark eyes widening.
Yet Kakashi only gave a thumbs up before he was off from Ino's flower trough and gone from sight.
She sighed, cracking her eyes open to look at his face that was too close to wake up to. All she could see was his large, dark eyes that were wide in worry.
"What?" she croaked out as she sat up.
"I'm guessing this male you're alluding to is Kakashi. Did he threaten you or something?"
"No, but he saw me here and I think he believes you, me-"
Ino's sleep-muddled brain attempted the problem and finally worked it out. She yawned before saying, "Is there a problem?"
Yamato blinked down at her.
"You're a great guy with amazing ability and whose very, very kind," she broke off to yawn a second time; "While you don't like paying very much and are a tad plain, you make sure to provide everything else when you're with me. I've never had so many flowers and plants from a guy before. I could do much worse than you." Feeling like his still face was enough, she rolled over to go back to sleep.
"Really?" he asked loudly, causing Ino to blink her eyes open give a weak glare.
"Will you continue to wake me up from my beauty sleep?"
"You don't need it. You're beautiful enough," he was speedy to say.
Ino snorted before she dragged him down to her level. Quickly Yamato stilled with her arms around him, and Ino was finally able to drift back asleep.
Yamato had felt love a few scarce times in his life. He remembered when he was young and still training for ANBU he had managed to create an orchard to provide food for the troops. They had been gracious of course, and so had the trees for the attention. But then an enemy convoy had burned it down and Yamato had felt heartbroken as he looked at the charred remains.
He also remembered feeling a little teary-eyed with all those movies Ino had been force feeding him. He had never seen these types of films, so he was vulnerable. Ino had found this more enjoyable that the movies. His heartstrings did not agree.
But now, as he watched the light shine on her golden hair and felt her breath on his shoulder, he wondered how he had missed out on such an odd emotion.
While Yamato wondered if this was what adoration was, as his fingertips itched to touch her, Ino slept blissfully on for hours. Finally her eyelashes fluttered open and her eyes focused.
"Ok, that face is still a little frightening to wake up to," Ino mumbled as she looked at him with a grin.
"What face?" he said, and realized that in his deep thought he must have turned a little nightmarish. "Sorry," he said in chagrin as he tried a smile.
"You're so hoplessly adorable," she sighed as she wrapped her arms around him and tucked her head under his own.
"What?" she asked, her voice vibrating against his collar-bone.
"What are you doing?"
"I thought I had confessed early this morning," she said; "Obviously you're not turning me down."
"Have you looked at me?" she said as she finally sat up. "Have you looked at these?" she asked as she lifted her shirt.
Yamato only managed a silent scream as he realized she wasn't wearing anything underneath.
"And why would an old man like you turn down a young thing like me?" she said as she lied back down against his chest.
"I'm not old," Yamato said in weak retaliation, but he could not say much else as he felt Ino's body arch against his under the sheets. Without any cue his body stiffen.
"I'm sorry, would you like me to say 'experienced' instead?" Ino asked; "We could go now and find out, if you wouldn't mind..."
Maybe he should have experienced more love in his life, because now he felt like someone had taken out all his oxygen. He could barely breath, much less think rationally at the situation. All he knew was that this very pretty teenager was up against him invitingly, her eyes glimmering in the morning sun. She had splayed her heart out to him without so much as batting her eyelashes - how was she so calm in this situation?
Yamato couldn't help it; he bolted.
For having never been in any rumors, Yamato suddenly found himself the center of quite a few. It seemed like it was his fifteen minutes of fame - although he wished it was truly that amount. But this was going on for weeks now.
Unlike Yamato, Kakashi had decided to casually tell everyone who knew him (or anyone with the ability to hear and understand) how he had been spotted in a Ino's room, quickly dressing while she slept ignorantly on. To worsen the rumor, Ino and him had yet to see each other, much less talk. This was most likely because Yamato was using all his ANBU training to avoid her at all costs. In all honesty, he was terrified. The fear of Kakashi and Sakura held nothing with what he was to do about Ino.
People whispered how they had been so close and were now avoiding each other like the plague. Everyone seemed to wonder when it would break and when the true confrontation that was bound to happen would occur. Yamato knew there was a betting pool; Tsunade had already lost.
That confrontation happened straight in the front of the Hokage tower. Yamato had been coming to hand in a mission report (well done and grammatically correct, as always) and Ino was coming out from a hospital shift.
When her clear eyes finally set on him, all hell broke loose.
"FUCK YOU WITH A RUSTY PIPE YAMATO!" she yelled across the short distance. Yamato's body became stock stiff, something he should have gotten used to with her around. Maybe if he didn't move a muscle, she would pass by?
A few people were already peeking out from the windows.
"That's right, you heard me right! Fuck you Yamato or Tenzō or whatever your pathetic name is!"
The one being yelled at with all of Ino's lungs ability gulped. He saw even Tsunade was leaning out of her high office to see the scene. Ino was oblivious to the attention (as usual) as she took some gulps of air to continue.
"I'm ready and I come on to you and what do you do? Literally vanish! You didn't even have the decency to fuck me before you disappeared you fucker!"
Yamato had never heard so many swears at him, even from dying enemies.
By now people a mile radius around and ever single person in the tower were watching, waiting for his reaction and response.
"Was it to make me think of you and miss you? Because it worked then," Ino now said in normal volume, sniffing at the end. Her chest heaved from the yells, but Yamato could tell it was also emotion that was making her breathe heavily.
Now he was truly speechless; Yamato had never felt so scrutinized and fearful for himself. He had no words he could think of was like any human language had been stripped from his brain. He himself still didn't exactly know why he had left that morning in such a hurry. True, Ino had opened herself up for him to greedily take, but instead he had headed for the hills in fright.
He was still standing there, gasping for air, when Ino began to look at him like he had grown a third eye.
It wasn't far off, as he felt up and found grass was sprouting from his forehead, pushing away his forehead protector. Pulling some off, he blinked down at the green strands and then suddenly understood. Even if he could not say the words he wanted to, he could grow the plants that could tell them for him. He was finally going to use the flower language Ino had pained to teach him.
She held out the grass to her, and she obediently lifted her hands to catch it.
He pointed at it, still speechless.
"Grass? What about it?" she asked as she looked at it, studying it hard. Then she seemed to realize what he was trying to show, with his flailing arms now coated in the green grass as he pointed to himself and then her.
"Submission? Are you saying you're submitting to me?"
He nodded his head once. Ino opened her mouth to say something, but the grass was already shrinking back and now long, multiple foot clumping red flowers were falling from his body. He carelessly ripped one off, the tip dragging on the ground as Yamato held it out to her.
"Love lies bleeding," she named as she took it; "Helplessness?"
Yamato felt the same spike of emotion as the flowers foretold. What was he supposed to do with her suddenly there and giving out her heart so easily to someone like him?
He quickly shed the hanging garlands of red just like the grass, now bright marigolds of orange, yellows and reds had replaced them. Again he took a handful in offering.
"Pain and grief?" Ino asked in slight alarm.
The marigolds gave way to daffodils of bright yellow.
"Uncertainty, chivalry, respect," she listed off as she grabbed some of these as well. A bouquet was quickly being made of the warm-colored flowers. "But also...unrequited love," she said with shoulders slumping.
Yamato quickly shook his head; her eyes widened. Hope quickly transferred to her face as next he grew orange lilies, their bright color contrasting against the green of his vest.
"Desire and passion," she whispered as she plucked a few off herself.
Next was a mixture of campanula and canterbury bells, both of cool purples and blue.
"Gratitude," she said with a smile beginning to grow on her face.
Yamato felt his lungs restrict a little; he had never grown so many different flowers off of himself at once. It wasn't very taxing, as the emotion of baring all his emotions he had been wrestling with these weeks was finally being revealed to the maker of them herself.
Next open-faced mallow flowers appeared, and Ino's small smile grew into a wide grin as she said, "Consumed by love."
The excess flowers she had not chosen once again fell off, and Yamato looked down to the piles around him, and then the large and very clashing bouquet Ino was clasping tightly to her chest. Taking a deep breath and closing his eyes, Yamato knew that this would be the last group of flowers.
Ino gasped as suddenly Yamato's body exploded in red tulips. And then, when she remembered to breathe with a gasp, he lifted one of his hands. From his index finger a small, simple and five-petaled white flower sprouted.
"Red tulips mean a declaration of love," she said. Her grin diminished a moment later as she noticed the small, unsuspecting white flower. She stared at it for some time before she burst into a laugh. "I don't remember what that one is! Did you manage to memorize every flower?"
"It's Arbutrus. It means-" Yamato broke off. He was shocked at the sudden, rough sound of his voice.
He had been hoping she would have known what it meant. It was embarrassing to say. Ino's eyes blinked in patience; Yamato took a breath and felt like he really should get rid of all this lycra.
"'You're the one I love.' Th-That's what it says. All these flowers...that's what I've been feeling for you."
His voice was soft, so none of the people watching could hear.
Ino was dead silent for a tense few seconds. Then she erupted in a yell somehow even louded and higher then before. She threw the flowers she had been so careful to collect off of him up in the air before launching herself at him, not caring about crushing the tulips that still coated his body.
If Yamato had not been so occupied on how she was suddenly kissing him and he was kissing back, he would have heard the cheers and catcalls from all around.
For being so descrete, Yamato became quite the talk of the hidden village for days and weeks to come. How he had made such a fine young woman fall brains-over-butt for him, only to rip her heart out and make her pine away for him until he decided to bring her back without even a word, only flowers grown off himself. It was a stylish confession that had become all the rage becuase of it.
Ino could not stop smiling, even though Yamato remained submissive to all the attention. The flower shop was raking in profits like never before. Even her father couldn't argue against Yamato's methods much anymore.
But more importantly, Yamato wasn't just someone to gossip with anymore. Yes, she still immensely enjoyed it when they curled up in bed and talkde about the town before falling asleep, but she enjoyed other activities they did in that same bed immensely more.
Ino had gone to bed tonight alone, as Yamato was on a long ANBU mission. She awoke in the middle of the night from the sound of a mask hitting the ground with a dull thump.
"Come here," she cooed drowsily as Yamato finished taking off all his sweaty, bloody clothes. He personally felt like he still stunk like a battlefield, but he knew better than to say no to her after being gone for two long weeks.
He ambled up on the bed but, remembering something, jumped off and back to his leg holster.
"I saw this and thought of you," he said as he brought out a clump of earth and a Lily of the Valley plant, it's small white blossoms hanging. They were closed, yet to be awoken by any sunlight.
"I'm guessing you're going for the 'returning happiness' meaning," she smiled as she took the plant before putting it next to her lamp, where it could wait for the morning to be planted in one of the over-crowded flower pots that hung from her - no, their apartment.
"It's always nice to be back," Yamato told her with a peck to her cheek.
She grinned as she closed her eyes and reached her arms out for him. Soon, immersed in his warmth and piney-scent, Ino was feeling like she was about to fall back asleep. Yet Yamato's deep voice brought her back.
"If you were a flower, I would pick you first," he said as he nussled against her soft straw-hair.
"Stick to the flowers," she said with a sleepy grin; "They say things much better than you."
AN: For some reason unknown to me I adore the idea of this pairing. I just had to write since there's none of them - haha! And once I got started on this little idea it just kept growing to the mutli-word monster it is now (hope it didn't lag). In case you are wondering- yes, the flower language I used is very legit.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this odd pairing story and mind dropping some feedback?