Ino rubbed her face, trying to get rid of the evidence of her tears. He always hated to see her cry. Swiping the hair from her eyes she listened to the beep of the monitors and shifted closer to the bed.

"Hey . . . I didn't know things had gotten this bad for you, ya know? I had no clue, I've been so busy . . . " She shook her head that was no excuse "I'm so sorry, so very sorry . . . sorry for not paying attention to you when you needed it."

"You know I always admired you. You've always had this aura around you . . . you were always so sweet, why would anyone do this to you?"

She leaned her head down her hands bared in prayer.

-&…&-

"Give it to me, give it to me, give it to ME!"

The seven year old stomped her foot, flaying her short arms around to expensive the point, the point being that Chōji was going to give her the pudding cup and he was going to like it, besides everyone knew you shouldn't tempt a lady with chocolate. That's what her mommy said anyway.

"Umm- "

"I said give it to me Chōji Akimichi right now or I'll – "

"It's not yours in – "

"I don't care it's my favorite!"

Chōji blinked again at the blonde that was standing across from him both hands on her hips with her blue – almost pupil less – eyes glaring at him.

Truly he hadn't done a thing he had just been eating lunch under the tree's when Ino comes storming across from the other side of the playground and demanding his pudding cup, that his mommy had packed for him!

It wasn't that he wasn't willing to share with her in the least, He had no problem sharing with her if she would have just asked not demanded it. Chōji's mommy had always told him to share after all. But Ino hadn't said please!

Ino sighed in frustration, stomping her foot again.

"Chōji will you please give me that pudding – "

"Sure."

"Sure?"

"Sure, you said please that's all ya had to do, course ya gotta share with me too."

Chōji grabbed Ino by the arm pulling her down to rest on the ground next to her before handing her a spoon and tucking into the sweet desert right along with the blonde.

-&…&-

". . . I know I don't do this enough but . . . why did you let this happen to him? Don't you understand that he's the sweetest person you'll ever meet . . . I need him ya know? He's everything I've ever wanted to be like."

"He's the best friend you could ask for . . . "

She bit back a sob.

"You have plenty of angels up there with you . . . so don't take him from me, please don't take him . . . please I'm begging you!"

-&…&-

Ino looked around absent mindedly twirling a lock of her long blonde hair around her finger. It was the first day of middle school and she was beyond nervous. Ino had been popular back in elementary school but everything changed now.

Sixth grade was a whole different ball game.

She shifted her bag onto her other shoulder before trying her combination lock again, finally on the seventh time the locker clicked and she pulled it open before taking off her Aeropostale sweatshirt and hanging it up on the hook along with her purple butterfly backpack.

She then took out the various binders she would need for the first day and was about to start towards were she believed her first class was when she heard her name being called.

"Ino!"

She grinned.

Chōji skidded to a stop in front of her with the biggest grin on his face.

"Hey Ino."

"Hey Chōji, what's up?"

"Not much, I have Mr. Sarutobi first. Who do you have?'

Ino pulled the creased schedule from the back pocket of her skinny jeans and looked it over for the thousandth time.

"Ummmmmm . . . . sweet I have the same."

"Cool" said Chōji before grinning goofily and offering Ino his arm. "Shall we go my lady?"

Ino smiled shifting her ponytail over her shoulder and locking her arm with his "we shall my fine sir" they both shared a look before bending over at the waist laughing.

-&…&-

Ino let out a sob before grabbing the hand that lay against the white-white sheets.

She ran her fingers over the tiny calluses on his palms. She traced a particularly evident scar that ran the length of his thumb with her own. He'd gotten that scar protecting her from a dog they'd run across one day playing 'explorer.'

The dog had tried to bite her and somehow Chōji had ended up in front of her with his thumb in the dog's mouth. When the thing had finally let go there had been so much blood, that she had started to cry out of the sheer terror of the whole ordeal.

But Chōji?

He had only been worried about her.

Why anyone – anyone! – would tease and taunt and bully such an amazing man until he broke was beyond her, and she hated herself a little bit more every time she thought about how she had seen it happening but had done nothing to stop it.

-&…&-

"Yamanaka!"

Ino looked up from her stretches.

"Yes coach?"

The coach sent her a look that promised a good hundred sit-ups before answering "there is someone here to see you."

Ino was about to ask who it was but decided against it and just stood before following the coach out. The coach finally stopped at the door to her office before motioning with her hand for her to head in, Ino nodded and stepped inside the room.

"Chōji?"

The brown haired teen startled up and nodded hastily before nervously rubbing the back of his head. "Hey Ino . . . I really need to talk to you I need your help – "

"Chōji I can't I have practice but I promise I'll talk to you later okay? Maybe tomorrow at school we have Senior's English together remember? Or I can drop by your house on my way home from practice?"

The teen looked crestfallen but he nodded.

"Yeah sure whatever Ino, I'll see you later . . ."

Ino nodded and turned to the door but hesitated. Something felt wrong she couldn't say what it was but something just felt wrong. She shook her head; she would talk to Chōji first period tomorrow morning at the latest.

"See you, Chōji."

Then she was gone.

-&…&-

Ino brushed the bangs from Chōji's closed eyes.

She hadn't known how much he had meant to her until she had almost lost him.

But really how could she have known? She had grown up with him; Chōji had been her first real friend before Shikamaru or even Sakura. She hadn't noticed when things had changed. She wasn't blind she just had a bad habit of not appreciating and loving what she had while she had it.

She carded her hands through his hair, salty tears mingling with the caramel strands.

The constant beeping of the heart monitor was a comfort for her, it proved that she had a chance for a second chance.

She was determined not to waste it.

-&…&-

Ino knocked on the Akimichi's front door several times before Chōji's mother finally opened the door in her cooking apron.

Ino smiled at the familiar face from her childhood "hey Mrs. Akimichi is Chōji here I need to talk to him?"

The woman smiled and nodded before ushering Ino into the homely main entrance complete with cheery blooms that Mrs. Akimichi had bought from Ino's parents shop and many paintings that Mrs. Akimichi had painted herself.

"He's up in his room go on, you know where it is."

Ino nodded and headed up the old oak stairway she was halfway down the hall when she realized something. Chōji loved music – adored it actually, everything from Train and The Fray to Mozart – and she couldn't remember a time when Chōji was in his bedroom without music playing.

There was no music it was complete and utterly silent.

Ino gulped and turned the door handle before stepping into the room. She blinked before shaking her head at Chōji, how did he function in this complete darkness? Feeling her way along the wall to the light switch she flicked it on with a finger.

In the hours to come Ino will say that the next few moments seemed to happen in slow motion.

"Hey Chōji, see I told you I'd drop by and – "

Ino didn't really know how it happened one moment she was standing there the next she was behind Chōji his head in her lap while she pressed two shirts to his bleeding wrists and she must have screamed because suddenly Mrs. Akimichi is there trying to take over and get Ino to let go.

And Ino won't. She won't!

"Ino I need you to let go please – Ino snap out of it! – Damnit Ino – "

But all Ino can do is back up shaking and crying and watching and feeling totally and utterly useless and scared – and dear god Chōji please don't go!

And then there are sirens from the incoming ambulance and there is flashing lights and Paramedics and there trying to get her to let go but Ino won't until they rip her away from him kicking and screaming and crying and damnit, it hurts so bad.

The rest of the day and night is spent going over the letter left behind and crying.

Dear Mom, Dad, and Ino,

I can't do it, it's all too much. They won't stop and I'm tired of lying and telling myself that it will get better, because it won't and it's not ever going to.

Bye.

Chōji Akimichi.

-&…&-

Ino is startled awake at midnight by the twitch of Chōji's hand.

"In . . . Ino?"

And that's all Ino needs, without asking permission she launches herself onto him, kissing his nose his forehead his bandaged wrists before kissing him squarely on the lips.

"Ino?"

"Don't you ever do that again Chōji you hear me? I can't lose you, I can't lose you and we'll find a way to make them stop okay, just please don't leave me!"

And Chōji's looks a bit dazed but he nods and she climbs up onto the bed and wraps her arms around him hugging him for all she's worth.

They don't move from that position for the rest of the night.

END

for choji ino month prompt bullying. Please DO NOT favorite without reviewing if you like it enough to favorite it then please tell me why.

Love you lots,

Abby