Hello everyone!

It has been quite awhile, I know.

My laptop hasn't had a charger, and still doesn't,

and typing in my living room on the desktop doesn't

exactly help with concentration.

But here I am! Typing!

I hope I haven't bothered any of you with

this ridiculous wait.

Thank-you for your continued support,

even when I was absent!

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Chapter Six:

Broken Tears

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"Gosh, I just love Christmas time!" Tenten happily cheered with Ino along-side her, getting into the Christmas spirit. Her breath clung to the air with every exhale, "All of the lights, and everyone is just so kind to each other!"

Ino gazed at some of the colorful lights as she walked passed another street vendor, this one selling hot chocolate. "Kind?" She chuckled slightly, "If by kind you mean fighting each other in the mall!" Every year, in every village, it was the same. Fights always break out between frustrated shopper attempting to get the best of what is left on the shelves. No matter where you went there was somebody arguing over how they should have the last toy train, doll, or stuffed animal for their child or loved one.

The weapons expert sighed, "True... Well at least in the story books, and stereotypical Christmases people are kind to each other..." Her expression changed as she looked up into the sky, at the glittering stars. The way they and the lights hanging above the streets connecting the buildings blended together above the base of the dark blue night sky was fascinating.

"So..." Ino's tone changed from her previous laughter to a slightly more serious, though almost mocking one, "Whatcha getting Neji? Are you two gonna spend Christmas Eve snuggled together up by the fire?"

Crimson spread across Tenten's cheeks in a flash, and she turned her face away to hide her visage from her gossip queen of a friend, "We're not like that and you know it..."

"Not like that yet and you know it!" She laughed, "Isn't that what Christmas does to people? Makes them realize that they had love in front of them all along?"

Tenten turned her face bake to Ino, her blood having calmed down after the mention of the Hyuga. "Well, what about you and Shikamaru then? You do have all those kids following you two around, and you seem quite good at taking care of them together!" She stuck out her tongue now feeling like the victorious one. She then started sprinting backwards away from the soon to be furious blonde.

"Hey! You get back here!" She shouted and began to dash off after her friend and shopping partner.

...

The morning after Christmas came and Ino woke up quite excited, though also extremely tired. She had spent all of the previous night staying up and wrapping her team's presents. She was going to meet her team at the park to give them their gifts and to celebrate the upcoming exam.

She plopped back down onto her bed and stretched, letting out a squeak-like yawn. Everything had changed so much, and while being a sensei could be stressful at times, it sure was a lot of fun.

She got up and changed into a light pink floral dress. It was slightly longer on her left side and had a violet silk waist band about an inch thick. Around the arm hemmings were tiny yellow and white carnations. She really like how around the bottom, the satin seemed to sparkle in sunlight. All around the dress were faint floral designs panted on the satin, floating over the delicate shade of lavender pink of the layer underneath.

Undoubtedly they would have something planned, they always do, it was just a matter of finding out what.

She was just running to the door as her doorbell rang, and since she was already there, she answered immediately, "Ryou? Diro? What are you doing here? Where's Yume?" They were supposed to be at the park, not her door-step, and Yume was definitely supposed to be with them.

Ryou sighed and hung his head in resignation, "That's the thing, we can't find her... We searched all over the park and yet there was no sign of her..."

"I said we should search else where but Ryou insisted that we come and tell you first." Diro crossed his arms feeling defiant as usual. He could have found Yume, how hard could it possibly be to find a single girl?

Ino smiled nervously feeling the usual tension between the two, in a way, they definitely reminded her of Sasuke and Naruto. "Did you check her tree by our training grounds?"

Ryou looked startled, "She owns a tree?!" He then received a few of the 'you-are-a-moron' glares from Diro, making him realize that he had asked possibly the stupidest question that a genius on a team full of other genius shinobi could possibly ask, "Oh... ha ha... Just joking..." Causing Diro to face-palm.

"Well..." Ino grabbed her bag that she had set the presents in the previous night from right behind the door, "Let's go find her!"

...

The team searched all over Konoha for their missing member; the park, the Ichiraku's ramen, the academy, they even knocked on her door, but no one was home. And now, as a last resort, they were going to check the river in their training grounds, the one place they had neglected to check before.

To their surprise, they found Yume sitting there on one of the larger rocks on the perimeter of the river, kicking her bare feet into the water in an almost robotic fashion. She was starring at the water with the most melancholy expression.

Ryou was so excited to find her he nearly tackled her into the water, while everyone else was still running to catch up. Ino and Diro were quite surprised with how quickly the predominately lazy boy could run when he wanted to.

"Yume! Where were you this morning? We were looking all over for you!" Diro and Ino finally caught up as he was hugging Yume, practically to death.

Yume slowly pushed Ryou off of her, "I've been here." The way she responded was exceedingly cold and heartless, it made all of them shiver. It was terribly unlike her, she was the kind of girl who would freak-out and blush after being hugged by a boy, and yet, she didn't.

"Yume..." Ino was now more than concerned, Yume definitely wasn't acting like herself, "Is everything alright?" She sat down beside her with concern written all over her eyes.

Yume then tackled Ino, hugging her, tears suddenly flooding out of her cerulean eyes, "Daddy is gone!"

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