Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.
Ino Yamanaka was a proud kunoichi, and being the kunoichi she was, had occasionally pondered over how she would die. She came to the conclusion that she would die fighting for her village, just as she always would. Ino could picture it. There she would stand, Konoha's last hope. Behind her lay her unconscious-yet-not-mortally-wounded comrades, completely dependent on her. She would rush forward, surprising her enemy with her speed and deviously good looks. The match would be long, and brutal, but in the end, she would win with the ultimate sacrifice. Her teammates would awake just in time to see her give them a final, breath-taking smile as her battered and curvaceous form fell slowly to the ground. Yes, it would be a death fit for a proud kunoichi like herself.
Too bad life's a bitch and it didn't end up working out that way.
You're dead, a voice boomed.
No shit, thought Ino. So maybe trying an advanced version of the Mind Body Switch Technique on herself while drunk was a bad idea. Bite her. She was drunk, for god's sake. Haha. Sake.
And you died the stupidest way possible, the voice added helpfully.
Ino scowled and decided to ignore the voice. She deserved all of the good sake she drank for learning a new clan technique. The fact that she ended up showing it off to her friends by using it on herself could be ignored. She peered about into the unending darkness, hoping to find some other ninja she knew, maybe Sakura or a hot shinobi. Unfortunately, she could clearly remember Sai sitting out on the drinking last night. He probably didn't end up dying from a drunken act of stupidity. Oh well. Maybe Sasuke got killed by another missing-nin. Ino wasn't too sure if she'd want to deal with Sasuke by herself, she knew he had gone around the bend more than once. But jeez, he was one hot possibly-insane, condemned international criminal.
Ahem, said the voice. I need to talk to you about some important stuff.
"Who are you?" asked Ino. "Tsunade?"
Inner you, said Inner Ino. By the way, I have something important to tell you.
"Oh look," said Ino. "There's a light over there. Must be time for me to go to heaven or be reincarnated. Ta-ta!"
No, wait! said Inner Ino as Ino flounced off into the light. It's really important!
Ino opened her eyes.
"Must be in heaven," said Ino. She wouldn't be so self-aware if she had been reincarnated. Wait. There was something wrong with her voice. She couldn't quite put her finger on it, thanks to her splitting headache.
Oh. That's what it was. Her voice was way too loud. Ino winced and closed her eyes. The room she was in had a tasteful color scheme of pastel pink and blue with white accents. The light coming in from the windows lit up the room way too much for her aching head. She groaned in despair, recognizing the classic signs of a hangover.
Come to think of it, this room looked exactly like her room did before she redid it a few years ago, swapping out the blue for a light green. Ugh. This was too much thinking in the morning. So far, in Ino's esteemed opinion, heaven sucked. Oh, her poor head. There was a tapping at her door, and Ino covered her ears. There was a muffled voice that sounded like her father.
"Ino, are you up yet? Your team's waiting outside for you."
Ino glared her pillow. Chouji and Shikamaru knew better than to wake her up after a night out. Screw them and their high alcohol tolerance. They were doing this on purpose, just because she was a bit of a lightweight. Later, she was going to give the two of them a painful lecture on hangovers and being respectful to the dead.
"Oh god!" Ino shot up from bed, forgetting her headache.
She was dead. Had died. Inner Ino told her so. She was drunk and used a stupid technique on herself. And now she was in her room from a few years ago with disrespectful teammates. Quickly she looked down at her chest. She was up in seconds, barging past Inoichi Yamanaka, flying into the bathroom, and immediately looking into the mirror.
It was true. Her breasts were about a size and a half smaller. She was in the past, and all of her hard-earned curves were gone.
A few minutes later Ino stormed out down the path in front of her house in her old, purple outfit. Chouji and Shikamaru wisely chose to not ask what had been taking Ino so long, and instead meekly fell behind her as she stalked ahead to their usual team meeting place.
For some reason, training that day was harder than usual for the boys. Ino's anger seemed to fuel her sparring to new levels. The girl wasn't pulling any punches, her reaction time had increased, and she was improvising with new taijustu that would have worked better if she had more muscular strength and practice. Asuma called an end to team sparring early that day.
Team training was a disaster at first, but steadily improved over the course of the 2 hour long spar against Asuma. Ino was constantly adapting her moves to benefit Shikamaru and Chouji, and once Chouji caught on and Ino punched Shikamaru for motivation, their teamwork was better than ever. The only problems occurred when Ino expected Shikamaru or Chouji to do a move or formation they hadn't learned yet, to her immense frustration.
Nevertheless, Asuma was impressed by the end of the day, enough to skip the usual D-rank and give each of them a sheet of paper.
"Chunin Exams are here in a week. If you want to go, fill this out and follow the instructions."
Chouji frowned. "You think we're ready for this, sensei?"
Asuma smiled around his cigarette in response.
"Chouji, have more confidence. In one day you three learned two new formations. How many other genin teams can say they did that?"
"Yeah!" said Ino, good mood restored at the idea of beating Sakura. "Team Ino-Shika-Cho has this one in the bag. We can't let other teams beat us!"
Shikamaru just sighed before slouching away with paper in hand, muttering under his breath.
Ino was still in a partial daze when she got back to the flower shop, her entry form clutched tightly in one hand. She took a quick bath before setting up, as usual, behind the counter at the Yamanaka Flower Shop. Her father had stepped in earlier with lunch, and speaking with him was strange, to say the least. Talking about the upcoming Chunin Exam with him was surreal. Her father teased her for being shocked that she was good enough to compete. She had retorted, but her heart wasn't into it. Considering the reassuring hug and promise of extra training Ino had received at the end of lunch, her father must have sensed it somehow. The next few hours were a haze for Ino as customers came in looking a bit younger, startling Ino each time. She had never thought about how much a few years can change a person before all of this.
It was late that afternoon when Ino finally got a chance to sit down at her desk and think things over.
Well, first of all, it was likely that she wasn't dead, sp that made Inner Ino a liar. It was extremely likely that in using a mind technique on herself, she wasn't dead, but simply stuck inside of her own memories, and it was her imagination that was making things different. Perhaps this was a dream, or she was in a coma at the hospital. In that case, she could wake up at any moment with the dream shattered, or truly die in the hospital from a coma.
Yamanaka justus were not ordinary genjustus. They were not breakable by simply calling out "KAI!" and temporarily blocking the flow of chakra. Likewise, hurting oneself wouldn't stop the technique either. This was the mind and soul that was being dealt with, not simply a perception of reality. To complicate it further, Ino's chakra would be the source of the technique. She could try running herself dry on chakra to break the technique, but that risked death from chakra exhaustion. And if she was in a coma, she definitely didn't want to mess up her chakra levels.
She had learned enough of medical ninjustu to know that the slightest changes in a coma could lead to the loss of the patient.
There was the chance that she had, somehow, warped the space-time part of her justu and sent herself to the past, which was more terrifying that anything. Time travel was pretty much impossible. In the event that she had actually traveled to the past, she had no idea where to even start trying to make sense of it. It didn't help that when she used the Mind Leech justu when she was very drunk and unable to recall how or if she had messed it up at all. The Konoha Twelve wouldn't be friends yet, her teammates were still finding motivation, Chouji still would be hesitating at critical moments, Naruto was even more bratty than ever, her boobs were smaller…
Ino really hoped that she was in a coma.
Still, in all cases, there was nothing she could do to break the technique or time-travel back to the future were she was able to drink and celebrate achievements with her friends. Ino sighed and let her head fall forward onto the desk. Why couldn't she have hallucinated herself to be her age?
Reality or not, she was stuck and here to stay. She turned over and looked out the window. The sun was setting behind the village walls, bathing Konoha in a soft, orange glow without shadows. The sounds of people going about their daily lives and the happy shrieks of children playing drifted in into room. At least there was one benefit to all of this, she thought absently while admiring the sight. Ino's lips curved upwards into a smirk.
This time, Forehead-girl was so going down.
The next week, after some hellish training thanks to Ino, Team Ten gathered early at the examination hall. Ino refrained from saying anything about the two chunin guarding the fake room, instead letting Shikamaru direct them up another flight of stairs. There, they took a stance in the corner of the room.
"Watch each of them," said Shikamaru quietly to his teammates. "Try to figure out what type of ninja they are and which one might be weaker than us."
Chouji opened his next bag of chips.
"I'll check the kunoichi, Ino seems to have the shinobi covered."
Indeed, Ino did think she had shinobi that were covered. Covered way too much, that is! Ino subtly checked out the guys. She already knew which ones were the threats and their abilities, so why not indulge herself? Last time they did this, she was too busy trying to identify the foreign ninjas' styles to give the boys a proper glance over. And yum, was this paying off! A team of shinobi from Suna that didn't make the finals were standing in the corner. Although two of them weren't wearing the traditional headpiece for blocking the desert winds, the one that did had a very nice facial features. She skimmed over the rest of the group. Sound ninja with weird surgeries, ew, Kabuto, oh gross, so creepy, stylish black hair and dark eyes, blue shirt…
"SASUKE!" Ino squealed, and launched herself at her favorite shinobi. Behind her, Shikamaru sighed and looked away, pretending not to know her. Who was she kidding when she thought Sai was a close replacement for this hottie? Oh wait, international criminal that she was thinking about killing. But in this most-likely-dream-world, Sasuke hadn't gone rogue! And he was so cute at this age. She gave him an extra squeeze.
"Ever since we got into teams, we've hardly seen each other!"
"Why does Sasuke always get all the attention, huh?" Naruto kicked the floor and glared at the boy on his left. On the other side of Sasuke, Sakura gave Ino an odd look before realizing that the blonde kunoichi was hanging onto her Sasuke.
"Get off, Ino-pig! Stop acting like you're so close."
Ino stuck out her tongue.
"Make me, Billboard-brow!"
"You're just as ugly as ever, Ino-pig!"
"Bad comeback, Sakura-chan. Small brain, big forehead! Too bad it's not the other way around."
The fight carried just like old times, and Ino was surprised at how much more fun it was when she wasn't taking it seriously. It was so weird to see everyone young again. Her fellow apprentice still had the long hair and pretty dress instead of her practical haircut and clothes. She found herself missing the old Sakura a bit. She liked it better when they were friendly rivals, instead of just rivals. Lost in her thoughts, she didn't even notice when it was her turn to insult Sakura and stepped back from Sasuke instead, leaving Sakura more than a little confused.
"Mmm-hmmm," Ino said vaguely. At the front of the room, Ibiki Morino called for everyone's attention, and the exam began. Naruto and Kiba had been remarkably silent, instead watching the two genin kunoichi bicker. Because of this, there was no large disruption
Huh, thought Ino. That was different. She inwardly complimented her imagination for thinking things out so thoroughly. Even the spot she sat at had the same hole in the wood that she vaguely remembered picking at during the boring exam last time.
"Began!" said Ibiki, and Ino flipped over her paper and skimmed over the questions. As a genin, they were pretty hard. But she was chunin now, and could probably fudge her way through enough of the questions to get a passing grade. Well, that was if she wanted to. She would just take a nap until the tenth question. She lay her head down on the table and under hooded eyes watched Sakura write furiously a few rows ahead of her. Well. This was too tempting. It was like the universe was begging her to annoy the crap out of the pink kunoichi. Ino grinned and make a few subtle handsigns.
Universe, this one's for you.
Stealing Sakura's answers felt as good as ever, especially when she mentally informed Sakura that yes, she was capable of answering the questions on her own.
"But Sakura-chaaaaaan, you know what Iruka-sensei told us," Ino said cheerfully to Sakura inside her head. "Always double-check your work!"
She paused to draw a winky face on Sakura's paper holding a V for victory sign. When she released Sakura from the Mind-Body Switch Technique, the poorly-concealed scream of rage from the pink-haired kunoichi almost got Team Seven kicked out.
Ino ignored the fact that she was an experienced chunin messing with a rookie genin. Life, or not-life, was good.
A few notes: Ino doesn't have some giant fox that's a master of time to take her back to the past and tell her that, no scroll with time-travel justu, no sealing techniques because she's a seal master….nada. Of course she's going to question if this is real or not, she's an intelligent person.
Team Asuma is a lot more focused on teamwork than Team Seven when it comes to fighting. Therefore, Ino's not getting a super power-up. It's impossible for her to change the timeline with sheer power herself, she needs Chouji and Shikamaru's help. So no god-mode Ino, sorry guys.
Remember, she's not treating this like it's reality yet. To her, time-travel is still in impossibility. So she's not going to go out of her way to help Team Seven against that snake creep, or call out Kabuto. From her perspective, she doesn't know the extent that Kabuto plays in the Chunin Exam, though she does know that Orochimaru is no good news. Inner Ino will return, and more on where she is from the future timeline will be revealed in the next few chapters.
And man, time-travel stories are so easy to write! You start typing and BAM! Two hours have gone by and you have 2,500 words. Crazy stuff, so awesome! My goal for this story is for each update for this story will be around 2k-3k words to get me in the habit of writing a lot in one period of time and to get me used to writing tons of words in general.
R&R and I'll love you forever.
See you next week or so!
EDIT: Fixed details and some typos.