Pandabot: Well, here I go again. I've been wanting to write a Naruto story for a while now but I didn't really have any idea of who I wanted to use. After attempting a god-awful thing about Shikamaru that fell apart faster than I wrote it I went back and read most of the manga. Immediately, Ino sprang out. I love this girl in the original series and they make her so lame in Shippuden, like a watered-down Sakura. With that in mind, I sat down and wrote this chapter.
I rather like it and after getting a few more chapters done, I decided to post it on here for you to read. So, read, review, tell me what you love, what you hate, what makes you nauseous. I know it's a slow start but just bear with me here as we delve into Ino: Shippuden!
Chapter 1: Meet and Greet
"Stop whining, Shikamaru!"
The dark-eyed ninja sighed heavily as he was pushed steadily along the hallway by a stubborn blonde, a girl he had known most of his life.
"What would Temari say if she saw you slacking off like this?". Shikamaru knew exactly what she would say, followed shortly by a whack over the head with her fan no doubt. He sighed,
"Troublesome women". He was met with a light slap on the back before he felt the pressure on his shoulders again, shoving him towards the classroom. There was a long pause as he began to make his own way there, feeling the pressure decrease as he matched speeds with his troublesome companion.
Ino slipped alongside him, flipping her blonde bangs away from her eyes and looking up at him through her fringe.
"When's Temari visiting again?" she asked softly. Shikamaru shoved his hands into his pockets and blew air out through his lips,
"She doesn't know yet. Gaara's keeping her pretty busy". Ino watched him for a second, studying his expression; to anybody else it might have looked bored but she had known him for a long time.
"I'm sorry, Shikamaru" she said quietly. He merely grunted, pulling a cigarette out of his vest and flicking his lighter. Ino pulled a face but allowed him to light up and take a drag before she spoke again,
"Can't she take a permanent Ambassador position here?". He grunted again, taking another drag, and giving a shrug.
"Gaara tried but the Sand Council say they can't spare her unless they get someone of equal value," he sneered, "Guess who they wanted". Ino shook her head in annoyance; politics getting in the way as usual. The thought put another idea in her head,
"What about a political marriage?". Shikamaru shot her a look; it was meant to be threatening but it just made Ino laugh. He pulled a face at her and rubbed the back of his head,
"I asked that once. She hit me" he said with an embarrassed look. Ino shook her head in disbelief,
"Shikamaru, you don't suggest that to your girlfriend," she sighed, "It's not exactly a romantic proposal" She glanced quickly out of the window as they passed and groaned,
"Dammit, Shikamaru. We're so late. You and your damn clouds". She shoved him down the hallway again, causing him to drop his cigarette to the ground with an angry exclamation,
"Come on, hurry up, lazyass". He grumbled the rest of the way down the hall, Ino dragging him by his sleeve, until they reached Room 109, the classroom of the graduating class. Ino reached out and pulled open the door with an apologetic smile,
"Sorry we're so late. I had to get this lazyass up" she said, jerking her thumb at Shikamaru over her shoulder. It was suprisingly bright in the room and it took Ino a few moments for her eyes to adjust.
There were six young faces looking back at her and Shikamaru, frozen in place; it appeared as though two of the boys were in the middle of a fight, held apart only by a small girl with long black hair that reached down to her waist and a lithe boy with grey hair that spiked in the back.
"Hey! What the hell is going on in here?" Ino snapped, glaring darkly at the group stood in the centre of the room. As one, the group seperated and stood apart, eyes directed to the wooden floors; Ino sighed heavily.
"Alright, let's start this again," she said, taking a deep breath and forcing a smile back to her face, "Sorry we got here so late, you can blame this guy". Again she jerked her thumb over her shoulder at Shikamaru who was still stood next to the doorway, arms folded.
"So," she started, looking around, "Where's team four?" Quietly, nervously, three of the genin stepped away from the others; Ino was pleased to see that the two who had been stopping the fight were on her team. She studied her team closely, eyeing them up with a practiced eye.
The boy with the grey hair looked lithe and tough, much like a feline of some description; probably a taijutsu specialist. He wore the standard Leaf Village vest with dark pants and a dark long-sleeved shirt with a red headband; Ino couldn't help but think he dressed an awful lot like Shikamaru.
The next one in line was the other genin who had been stopping the fight; she looked much more delicate than the boy with long, black hair that reached down to her hips. She peered shyly out from beneath a sweeping fringe that covered her right eye. She was the most colourful of the group, decked out in short blue dress with a split on the left side of her legs. Underneath, she wore black shorts with mesh that reached below her knees; her shins were covered by boots.
Ino almost gasped as she turned to the last one in her team; she was almost a carbon copy of a young Temari, right down to the eye colour. She wore a long white robe, tied tightly around the waist with a red tie. She wore shorts, the same as the other girl's, but she wore bandages that reached down, stopping just short of her knees. She held a closed hand fan loosely in her hand.
They all look pretty capable, she thought, feeling absurdly pleased with herself; she didn't even know if they were actually any good yet. She turned to see Shikamaru eyeing up his own team; he really couldn't look any less enthusiastic.
"Well, let's get out of here" Ino said, turning around and heading towards the door; she paused as she passed Shikamaru.
"Hey," she said quietly so only he could hear, touching his arm gently, "don't get so down. You'll figure it out". He grunted as she stepped past, leading her team silently out of the room.
"So...you guys are team four"
She had led them silently, walking up to the roof of the Academy and motioning for them to sit down across from her. Now she faced them, eyeing up her team again; she noticed them shift uncomfortably under her gaze.
"So, why don't you tell me about yourselves?" she suggested gently, allowing her features to soften into a friendly smile. The grey-haired boy in the middle glanced either side of him, at the uninterested Temari clone on his left and at the incredibly shy girl on his right, before he spoke up.
"Uh, I'm Kazuki of the Rakuden clan" he paused, looking at Ino uncertainly; he clearly didn't know how to continue. She sighed heavily, I hope they aren't going to be this awkward for long.
"Alright," she sighed, "Why don't I go first?". She judged the group's silence to mean that they agreed so she sat back and folded her arms.
"My name is Ino Yamanaka of the Yamanaka clan. My specialty is my Mind-Body Switch Jutsu so I specialise as a spy and interrogator" she paused, biting her lip as she thought.
"Hmm, I was awarded a medal for my participation in the Fourth Shinobi War's conclusion and was named a Jounin at the same time. Right now, I guess my goal is to train you guys so that you can handle yourselves in any situation. Anything else you'll probably find out at some point" she said, tilting his head backwards to look up at the gazebo roof above her head.
There was a long pause as Ino stared upwards, a strange sort of smile on her face; finally, she sighed.
"Are you guys gonna start or what?". She turned her gaze on the genins, who were all staring at her silently; with a blush the girl with long black hair cleared her throat.
"Uh, um. My name is Yomiko of the Nagashi clan," she began in a soft voice, "and Iruka-sensei said that I am a genjutsu user". She straightened her shoulders and raised her head, green eyes piercing into Ino,
"My goal is to awaken my clan's secret jutsu and become a powerful kunoichi". Ino studied her carefully for a long second, noting the fire that had ignited in her eyes when she brought up her clan.
Interesting. She's the same but different from Sasuke, Ino noted, There's no hate there. Still, gotta be careful. She felt a flare of hatred that she was careful to hide; it wasn't directed at the girl after all - no need to burden her with that.
"Genjutsu, huh? That can be very helpful" she commented with a smile. She turned her gaze onto the boy who was staring with admiration at Yomiko.
"Alright, Kazuki. What about you?" He turned away from Yomiko with a light blush and rubbed the back of his head in embarrassment,
"Oh, right. Um, I'm Kazuki Rakuden and I specialize in my clan's taijutsu but I kinda suck at the other stuff" he blurted, almost stumbling over his words; he clearly had a lot of energy to burn. He paused, and glanced to his right again; Ino frowned slightly, All taijutsu, huh?
"My goal is to bring my clan back to it's prime and make us a force for the Leaf again" he said with a self-conscious grin. Ino nodded silently; she had heard of the Rakuden clan and it's decline.
"Ok, good. And now for the last one" she said, turning to the clone of Temari. There was a long pause as the girl sighed and straightened up slightly, exaggerating each movement as though it caused her great effort.
"I am Kana Sunia," she began, her voice the epitome of disinterest, "and my family moved here from Sunagakure last year". She began to twirl her closed hand fan distractedly,
"I use wind-style ninjutsu like Temari-sensei of the Sand and my goal is to one day be just as good as she is" she said, watching her fan twist and turn over her fingers. She looked up at Ino's chuckle, eyes narrowed.
"I should've known you were Temari's student" Ino laughed with a shake of her head. Kana glared at her for a long moment and Ino thought she had better explain.
"You look and act exactly like Temari when I first met her" she said and watched Kana's gaze turn from angry to curious.
"Ok," Ino said, clapping her hands and sitting forward, "from now on, we are team four. We'll train together, go on missions together; sometimes we'll eat together too". She paused, watching the way the genin glanced at each other uncertainly.
"Tomorrow," she began, drawing their attention back, "we're going to do a training exercise, see how you three work together. Got it?". When the three nodded, looking a little uncertain, she smiled, standing and stretching a little.
"Good. So meet at Training Field Six at nine tomorrow," she turned to go but paused and turned her eyes back onto them, "Don't be late". Then she was gone, leaping across the rooftops of the Leaf Village as fast as she could move.
She was so late.
"Sorry I'm late, Kurenai-sensei" Ino panted as she ran into the graveyard, bouquet of flowers in hand, spilling petals onto the dewy ground in her wake. Dark hair swished as Kurenai turned away from a familiar stone, the same sad smile on her face; the same one she always wore when she visited him.
"Ino," she murmured, "it's good to see you". She turned back to the polished grave, arms folded tightly around her body. Ino laid her bouquet down on the stone and stepped back to Kurenai's side, hands clasped before her.
"Asuma-sensei," she began, "I finally received my own team today". She paused, taking a deep breath and allowing a small smile to cross her face,
"One of them looks just like Temari. You should've seen Shikamaru's face!". She gave a small chuckle;
"You would've laughed" she said sadly. There was a second pause as Ino wiped a tear away, remembering the man who had taught her so much, who had given her so much. The pair stood for a long time, merely remembering Asuma Sarutobi. Finally, Kurenai spoke gently,
"How is your team?". Ino shrugged uncertainly,
"I don't really know. They seem capable at least and they all look pretty level-headed". Kurenai smiled knowingly at her answer, almost a smirk.
"You know, not many people know this," she started, "but Kiba and Shino hated each other when I first started training them; I'm pretty sure Hinata is the only one who kept them from killing each other". She turned her red eyes up away from the grave and stared up at the grey clouds fighting for position above.
"Apparently Kiba thought Shino was a 'heartless bastard who didn't care about the team' while Shino thought Kiba was...well...insane". Ino couldn't help but laugh at that; Kiba had always been intense to say the least and to call Shino reserved was the understatement of the century.
"I didn't know about any of this until Hinata told me". Ino shot her a suprised look; Kurenai had always seemed like one of the best sensei the Leaf had to offer.
"You are a jounin and that's going to intimidate these kids into behaving themselves when you're around," she turned to Ino with a serious expression.
"The best way to see how your team behaves is to spy on them; you'd be suprised to know how much you can figure out just by how they stand together". Before Ino could answer, Kurenai crouched and brushed her hand gently across the carved stone, clearing the few leaves that had fallen.
"I'd better get home to little Asuma," she sighed, standing, "Shikamaru's watching him for now but I promised I wouldn't be long. You coming along?".
"No, I think I'll stick around for a little while" Ino answered quietly. Kurenai glanced across the graveyard before returning her red eyes to the blonde kunoichi with a soft smile,
"Of course. Remember what I said, ok?". When Ino nodded, she turned and walked away; eventually the graveyard fell silent again save for the wind.
She smiled again and moved away from Asuma's grave; she still had one more to visit.