New Strength

A dark shadow walked away from his home, from people who loved him. How could he do that to her, who would have all too readily given her life for that bastard?

The thought sent a fresh boiling wave of anger through Ino's blood. She took a kunai and chucked it at his picture; a picture she once cherished, now riddled with knife holes from the past few hours. A disturbing feeling of satisfaction calmed her some when the blade struck the image's left eye. That would put out that Sharingan he was so damn proud of.

Ino flopped on her bed where the image of her and a pink haired girl smiled and waved back. That smileā€¦it'd been too long since Ino had seen it. She missed it.

Before she had really decided to, Ino found herself running out of the house and down the block. Mrs. Haruno let her in with few words, knowing her mission.

Upstairs, Ino found Sakura sitting on the edge of her bed, looking down at a picture, the one she kept of the team Kakashi, of her, Naruto, Kakashi and him.

Ino's heart flared in anger once more. How could she still cling to him after all he'd put her through?

Sakura looked up upon Ino's entry. Looking into her brimming forest green eyes, Ino's anger melted away, replaced by the feeling she never let on, the feeling she could never fulfill, but only cling to the cruel ghosts of imagination.

Steeling her will against the reopened wound in her heart, Ino came and sat next to her long time friend.

"Hey," she placed a soft hand on the other's drooping shoulder.

Her broken forested gaze wandered back to his pale face and the grim ghost of smile he'd never put much effort into.

"Why couldn't I stop him, Ino?" she whispered.

Ino gently removed the photo from her hand and placed it back on the nightstand, face down. "His mind was made up long before anyone else had an idea. I don't think even the Hokage could have stopped him, Sakura." Ino's comfort fell on deaf ears.

"Why did I have to be so weak?" A fresh wave of tears rained down her beautiful face.

Words were no more use. Ino wrapped her arms around Sakura and held her while the rain came crashing down. It was all she could do not to break down herself, mourning someone she loved cast in his shadow.

She looked out the window at the snow falling lightly to blanket the earth.

My dear Sakura, let this pain become a new strength as the cherry blossom springs to life even after a harsh winter.