Colour Me Blind

Ino Yamanaka tended her flowers in her shop with careful hands, organizing her peonies and lilacs and daisies as well as other forms of flora. Today was a really hot day in Konoha and normally on hot days, most of the tourists and villagers came. Why? Because on this very special day, an annual Water Festival was being held in Konoha. A Water Festival, in the Land of Fire? It does sound a bit ironic, doesn't it? But Ino was looking very forward to this day indeed. Drink vending machines to quench people's thirsts were stored at the back of her sunny shop, while flowers in rows were on the sides soaking in well watered soil suited to the region. Medicinal herbs were kept in a small cupboard near the back of the room, (but away from the vending machine of course,) and some were crushed up in bags to use at any time. Poisonous flowers weren't usually allowed to enter the shop, for fear of little children using or touching them, so Ino just kept them away from the shop in her apartment at home so no one could touch them but herself. In the wrong hands, these poisonous flowers and various assortments of herbs could do alot of damage to someone's immune system or be detrimental to their health.

Just one sniff of the dangerous flowers could cause someone to easily grow dehydrated. Or worse.

The little chime to her shop rung quietly as the door swung open, and Ino looked up from her bench and her stool, and was surprised to find Hinata Hyuga enter. Her creamy, light pale purple eyes looked around the shop briefly before they settled on Ino, and she ran up behind the counter and gave her best friend a hug. "H-Hello Ino-chan," Hinata said, as Ino embraced her back.

"Hey," Ino said friendly, studying the pale girl's face carefully. "How are you, Hinata-chan?" she asked, squeezing her comfortingly. Having used her mind control jutsu all her life, as she had mastered it at an early age and with help and encouragement from her father Inoichi, she had also mastered the ability to read people's emotions. Now that is normally what any person can do, but not Ino. She can read someone's emotions so carefully that she can sense the tiniest hint of doubt or reason, and even smell fear and taste it on her tongue. This would prove highly useful in the interrogation team, and Ibiki actually offered her to try it out. Ino politely refused, saying it was unnecessary and she didn't want to cause any harm or frighten their captives any more than she would have to.

Hinata had been coping with the loss of Naruto Uzumaki, who had died tragically on an A-ranked mission to bring Sasuke back-and both of them had ended up dying together. She had been depressed for months and months and no one could rile her out of her room at all. Not even Hanabi her own sister, or her older cousin Neji Hyuga. Her father Hiashi was worried sick about her despite his cold demure on the outside, and went to the Fifth Hokage for help. That was when Ino was called into help her in her desperate time of need. The ANBU Black Ops present on the border at the time had found Naruto's body and had returned it, holding the funeral on a rainy day, where everyone attended. Every one of his best friends attended, including Hinata Hyuga who couldn't stop crying the whole time that the priest had read out the eulogy.

Shaking wildly in the arms of Sakura, Hinata cried her poor broken heart out until there were no tears left.

Ino Yamanaka watched from a distance with her team, Shikamaru and Choji sadly. I wish there was something I could do to help Hinata-chan, she thought gravely, her eyes filling up with tears. I know what it's like to lose someone too. Asuma-sensei died two years ago, so she had experienced death before. In fact, many of the Yamanaka clan had experienced death, even in its spiritual form. Being so close to human emotions by entering the human mind, Ino had tried to look into the mind of a dead person by means of telepathy-and was so shocked at what she saw that she had shut down completely and had gone numb.

She wasn't going to do that again.

Hinata, a little distracted let go and smiled slightly. Still hurt inside, Ino had showed her how to smile again, from the heart. "I f-feel alot b-better," Hinata answered in her usual characteristic stutter, which had not faded over the years. She tucked her hair behind her ear and blushed slightly as Ino giggled. But she wasn't laughing at her stutter, so Hinata had no reason to be upset at the blonde girl. She wouldn't have a reason to be upset at Ino anyway, because the two were best friends and had not had a single hurtful argument to separate them over the course of the year. "A-actually," the shy Hyuga girls said softly, "I-I came to collect s-some f-flowers for my Otouto-san."

"Hiashi wants flowers?" Ino broke into another fit of giggles, and Hinata couldn't stop giggling either behind her hand. Once she had finished her fit of giggles, Ino steadied herself on her counter with a hand and smiled, her hair falling into her eyes. "I'm sorry, but that was too funny to pass up."

Hinata giggled and blushed. "I-I know, r-right?"

Ino nodded and laughed. "Yes! Now, what flowers would you like for him? I think lilacs would be nice, because they're also your favourite colour. Or lavender, maybe? I know it's a herb, but…"

Hinata thought for a long moment. Well lilacs were a pretty flower, and lavender was a nice smelling herb. Maybe…maybe she should take both? She gave Ino a warm smile. The lavender she could use in her healing medicine to give it a nice smell-and she could give the flowers to her father. That sounded like a nice idea. "Can I p-please t-take both? I-I'd like to w-wrap them too, p-please."

Ino tilted her head and gave her friend a pretty smile. "Of course," she said politely. "What colour wrapping would you like then, Hinata-chan?" She disappeared under her bench for a moment before coming back up with wrappings of various colours and matching bows. A light blue aquamarine coloured wrapping stood out the most, and she chose that along with a matching pretty bow.

Ino started to talk while she wrapped up flower in the blue cellophane wrapping, leaving the stalks a little exposed. "So how has Hanabi been? I heard she has been training very hard for the next Chunin Exams coming up this year."

At the mention of her younger sister's name, Hinata nodded excitedly. "Y-yes. Hanabi onii-san has been t-training very hard in preparation f-for the Exams, a-and Otouto-san and I t-think she will d-do very well."

Ino handed Hinata the flowers and got lost in her own train of thought for a long moment. If Hanabi is in preparation for the Chunin Exams, I wonder how Hinata's ability is now that she's matured alot? I'm sure she wants a rematch with Neji sometime too. Hinata stared at Ino for a while, and as the blonde finally snapped out of her thoughts, she saw that Hinata was staring at her. She gasped a little and put her hand to her mouth, her blue eyes widening. "O-oh um…I'm sorry," Ino stammered nervously, "I was sort of lost in my own thoughts there-"

"Y-your eyes are very pretty, Ino-chan."

Blinking at that sudden comment coming from her best friend, Ino tilted her head to the side in an embarrassed but slightly confused manner. "T-they…are?"

Hinata clasped her hands together and bowed politely with the flowers in her basket that she had carried to the shop and blushed. "Y-yes. U-um…excuse me for interrupting you…b-but…"

"Yes?" Ino waited for the shy girl to continue speaking politely.

"U-um well…I-I was w-wondering if maybe y-you would like to come a-and eat l-lunch with me."

"Oh? That sounds really nice of you to offer that Hinata-chan, but I'm afraid my lunch break doesn't start until the next hour." She frowned and looked up at the clock which only said 12:30 P.M. "Maybe if you stay here for a little while until it begins, I can tell Mum that I'm going out for a while, and we can go and get something to eat?" She offered. Actually, Ino didn't want Hinata to leave, and that was the truth. Her lunch started at12:00, so she had been lying by half an hour. But she would do anything for her best friend not to leave her alone in the shop, even if it meant lying untruthfully.

Hinata nodded shyly. "I'd like that. W-what can I do in the meantime?" she asked.

Ino pursed her lip in thought. What could she do? Organize some of the flowers for flower pressing? That is her favourite hobby I know, and she does have careful and small hands…and I'm sure she'd find it fun and not boring like I always do. "Hmm. How about organize the flowers for flower pressing?" Ino suggested. "We have a big tea ceremony coming up in our clan, and my Mum wants me to do it, but I find it just too boring to manage. Sakura normally does it anyway when she comes in regardless, but um…would you like to?"

Without giving it a second thought, Hinata agreed. "I'd love t-to," she stuttered excitedly. "W-where do I s-start?"

"You can start from over there if you'd like," Ino pointed over to a small crop of flowers on a bench, covering the bench in all sorts of rainbow colours and hues of shades. They were tied up in string in a neat little bunch that Ino had done to make it easier, not that she had really bothered to try and organize them much anyway. Hinata walked over to the bench, her eyes shining happily as she began to untie them and sort them by colour and to Ino's amazement, type of flower. Ino stared, quite surprised as Hinata turned around, smiling in joy. "How did you…?" she trailed off, unsure of what to say. How amazing! Hinata is really amazing… she thought to herself, blushing. Wait. Where did that thought come from? I must be going insane. I didn't actually think that…did I?

Hinata fiddled with her fingers shyly. "W-well…I learnt t-to d-distinguish different t-types of flowers at h-home while I was flower pressing t-to see w-which colours w-would g-go well together. I-it's r-really n-nothing," she admitted.

"No it's something," Ino said in awe, stepping around the bench to stand near Hinata, as she looked at the neatly colour coded and matched flowers wrapped in neater bundles that she had managed before. Well that was certainly something she wasn't expecting to have happened. As Hinata picked up a flower bunch to show her, she dropped them accidentally on the floor and went to pick them up as Hinata bent down too, trying to scramble to pick them up quickly. "Here, let me help you-"

Their eyes locked. Blue on light purple, lost in each other. Ino blushed and Hinata flushed crimson and looked away quickly as Ino smiled nervously, picking up the rest of the flowers for her. "S-sorry," Hinata apologized. "I-I'm s-sort of c-clumsy."

"It's okay," Ino said gently, putting a hand on her shoulder, wondering why her face was growing so hot all of a sudden. "It's fine. It was an accident, that's all." An accident? What am I saying? She thought embarrassingly. Hinata dropped the flowers, and I couldn't stop staring at her…! What's happening to me? Do I like her?

"Okay," Hinata replied, fidgeting with her zipper on her purple jacket as she watched Ino put them back on the bench. Hinata couldn't understand why she had felt heat flame across her cheeks and face as she looked in those pure, blue opal blue eyes. She was surprised actually as well, to feel her heart racing so much in her chest that she thought it would burst right out! Having someone stare at her so close would normally be a cause for her to blush alot, but this was Ino. Her best friend. Surely she didn't…like her that way, did she? But that time when Ino caught her staring at her stirred feelings in her breast. She sighed to herself softly. I think I'm s-starting to l-like Ino as m-more than a friend, Hinata thought a little wearily. B-but does she feel t-the same a-about me? She's s-so honest a-and straightforward t-too…there's n-no way that she would like m-me anyway. I-I'm too s-shy.

"There you go. All done." Ino stared at the bunch of flowers and smiled. Trying to change the subject as she felt a little awkward, she stared at the clock. "Oh, would you look at the time? It's almost 12:30." She turned to Hinata cocked her head to the side. "Do you want to get going? There's nothing else to do here now, so…"

"O-of course," the brunette answered, a little too quickly. She bit her tongue and blushed. "I-I mean, I'm in no h-hurry to l-leave, um…"

Ino laughed at her shy behaviour and felt a tug at her heart as it raced along splendidly. "It's fine. Come on; let's go before everyone crowds the park."

They walked side by side in silence as they passed Ichiraku Ramen. Hinata wasn't sure what to say to fill in the silence, thinking that her talk would be meaningless, but Ino was too happy to be in Hinata's presence to care that she had nothing to say either. Just being with her and near her was enough. Ino had packed a bento for them to eat at the park. As they entered the lush green park, Hinata went to find a place to sit under the trees, and Ino followed her and sat down happily, spreading out her bento on the sweet green grass that tickled their legs. Hinata watched as the blonde girl took out her ponytail, so her hair cascaded and fell down her back. Being a natural blonde, it made Ino feel a little left out. All of the people in the Yamanaka clan had blonde hair-it was a genetic trait passed down from generation to generation. "I don't like my hair," Ino mumbled, shaking the strands of blonde that fell out from her head.

"I-it's pretty, I-Ino," Hinata said, a little shocked at why she didn't like her hair. "W-why don't you like it?" she asked.

Ino muttered some more and shook her head, tying the hair band around her wrist so that it wouldn't get lost in the grass. That'd be terrible. "Because I don't!" Ino whined, pouting. "It's so…so blonde. I want hair like yours, Hinata-chan. At least yours is a natural looking colour. Mine's just normal." Ino's blonde creamy hair fell over her face, covering her eyes. "I'm normal," she repeated. "I'm not a good kunoichi or strong like Sakura, and I'm not pretty like you. I'm just…-"Ino was cut off as Hinata's lips touched hers softly, interrupting her low self-esteem.

Hinata didn't know why she felt a strong urge to kiss Ino, but she did. Her lips were so pale and kissable, and Hinata could smell the faint smell of cherry lip gloss that she had applied this morning, probably before she went to the shop. Ino blinked in shock. What? She thought, shocked to the core. Hinata…she's…kissing…me? What do I do? Kiss her back? B-but-! Ino's mind was whirling with thoughts as her brain tried to process it all, but all she could get out of it was Hinata's crisp, nice smell and the feel of her lips on hers.

Leaving her lips shyly, Hinata turned a pretty shade of pink and touched her lips with her finger, as Ino didn't move or talk. What could she say? She was too surprised to say anything at all! "Y-you're very p-pretty," the younger girl said firmly, trying to sway Ino's opinion of herself to a better one. "A-and I-I love that y-you're so c-cheerful and happy, and b-because I just love being w-with you, Ino-chan. I-I l-like you a-alot…a-and…I k-know it's p-probably wrong, but um-" she shook her head furiously, closing her eyes, "I-I d-don't care! I l-like you, and that's all that m-matters."

If Ino was shocked before, she was even more shocked now at Hinata's confession. Hinata nervously stared into her crush's blue eyes, finally recognizing her feelings now. P-please don't r-reject me, she thought sadly. I-I c-couldn't handle it i-if you did that. Nervously fidgeting with her hair, Ino tried to find something to say but was at a loss for words. Hinata watched her nervously duck her head and moved the hair off her face, shining prettily in the sunlight that flooded through the trees and onto the ground where they were sitting together. "Um…wow. Hinata, I…I never knew you felt that way about me," Ino finally spoke up. "You're really cute and to tell you the truth, I've liked you for a while too. Well," she added sheepishly, "ever since this morning since you turned up. I wasn't sure what to do-but when you said my eyes were pretty, you had me hook line and sinker. No one's ever called my eyes pretty before and you swept me off my feet."

"R-really?" Hinata stuttered, taken aback. "S-so you-?" Hinata's mind only managed to scramble for some of that information-the right part of her brain was in a daze, and she hadn't even heard that Ino liked her. Silly Hinata.

"Yes!" Ino squeaked happily, her cheeks blushing, as she tackled Hinata to the ground. "I like you Hinata. I like you! I really, really do," she said honestly, laughing.

"So that means w-we're together n-now?" Hinata asked hopefully, still in a big daze.

Ino laughed again, shaking the hair out of her eyes as she traced Hinata's cheek with her finger delicately. "Well, I should hope so. But..." Ino's eyes twinkled mysteriously, and Hinata blushed. "…Maybe if you kiss me again, I might be more inclined to share some of my food with you!"

Hinata grew bright red. "F-f-food-? You want m-me to k-kiss you to s-share f-food?"

Ino shook her head, giggling. Hinata was so hopeless! Her cute face grew even redder as Ino winked suggestively. "Well…we could always French kiss if you want…"

Hinata blushed as Ino began to kiss her neck gently, pressing her into the sweet green grass with her body, her hands in her silky blue hair. "I-Ino c-c-chan…!" Ino chuckled and drew her tongue away from that gorgeous scented neck and tilted her head beautifully. "P-please…I w-want to take this s-slowly…"

Ino gave her a reassuring kiss on the lips and brushed the hair from her eyes. "I was only teasing you," she answered playfully, hugging her. "Come on. Let's eat lunch, ne? I'm starving."

Ino realized something after she kissed the kunoichi goodbye at her compound while no one was around. Hinata was hers. Well colour me blind, she thought happily as she waved goodbye to Hinata who quickly ran inside the house. I'm in love with Hinata after all.