A Flower In The Mist

Asuma was shocked when Ino came barging into his apartment, but he wasn't surprised. It was dark outside and a heavy fog was hanging by the windows when the girl suddenly materialised in his living room, her face a picture of pure sadness. Asuma's own face comically morphed into an expression of confusion and bewilderment, but both these emotions quickly dropped when he noticed the girl's appearance. She was dressed in a short black dress, the skirt was pulled up slightly revealing a lot of milky white thigh, her hair was ruffled and messy; almost falling out of its customary high ponytail, and her makeup was all down her face, the mascara running rivets through her foundation. Her lipstick was smudged too. All in all the girl looked very vulnerable. Immediately horrible thoughts began flowing through Asuma's head. Ino was an accomplished ninja, more than capable of taking on even the strongest of foes, but still the Sarutobi could not help but worry about his only female student. It had nothing to do with her sex really and everything to do with the fact that Ino wore her heart on her sleeve and that made her easy prey for heartbreak.

"Ino-" The man got to his feet and moved towards her, his arms outstretched as if he was prepared to catch her if her knees gave way.

At his voice Ino let out a sob and threw herself at her Sensei, burrowing her head into his chest. Asuma barely had time to react, even despite his honed skills; he was never really prepared for overt expressions of emotion. He was used to Ino yelling, obviously, and laughing and, yes, even crying, but he was not used to her hugging him…especially when he was shirtless. The man felt a blush quickly overtake his face and his whole body began to warm at her touch. He could feel her tears slowly slipping down the lines of his chest. He held himself awkwardly as she wept into him, his arms spread out slightly and his expression one of, almost, horror as he gaped down at her. Eventually Ino let out a sniff and it seemed that she had stopped crying. Asuma tapped her lightly on the shoulder.

"Ino," he coaxed as softly as he could, gently pulling her off of him as he did so. "What's happened? What's wrong?"

Ino did not answer the question. Instead, eyes to the ground, the girl spoke.

"Can I have a glass of water?"

Asuma paused for a moment and then he relinquished his grip from her shoulders, nodding once or twice.

"Uh, yeah, sure," he agreed and then he padded towards the kitchen, one hand making for his hair as he ruffled it in confusion.

Asuma was used to Ino coming to him for advice. He knew about nearly all of her romantic exploits. The girl seemed to enjoy regaling the males of her team about her weekly beaus. So Asuma knew about how Ino felt about Sasuke, he knew how it had hurt her too -not just Sakura- when Sasuke had left. He knew that Ino only ever saw both Choji and Shikamaru as friends (unfortunate for the former, who, the Sarutobi knew, had a small crush on the blonde) and he also knew that Ino was prone to over dramatics, but in all his years of being her Sensei, Asuma had never seen Ino like this. She'd turned up at his apartment to rant about boys, yes, and sometimes to even have a quiet cry, but she'd never appeared this dishevelled, this upset, this…Asuma searched for the word, but could not place it. Realising that he had perhaps left the girl alone a tad too long (and realising he had definitely let the water overflow the glass as he'd been lost in thought) Asuma turned off the tap and padded back towards where his saddened student was.

The girl had moved onto the sofa and was sitting where her Sensei had been sitting just minutes earlier. She had her knees together and her delicate hands were entwined. She was staring down at her own hands hard, her head bent. Asuma looked at her for a few moments, aware she probably knew he was looking at her, and then he made his arrival clear.

"Here we are!" He announced, his voice jovial, perhaps even a bit too loud.

For some reason he felt nervous. What on Earth was wrong with him? Students came to their Sensei's for advice all the time. There was nothing unusual about that. Despite his own assurances, Asuma knew that there was definitely something wrong about the situation. Perhaps it had something to do with how hard his own heart was beating.

At his voice, Ino looked up and gifted him with a small smile, accepting the water with a silent nod of thanks. Asuma nodded back and then glanced around, feeling awkward in his own home. He was suddenly very aware of his attire; he was only dressed in training trousers and that was it. He didn't even have his headband on. Ino drank the drink down with two huge gulps and Asuma watched her throat as she did so. Was it his imagination or were there faint bruises upon her neck? Awkwardness left him immediately then.

"Ino," he crossed his arms over his chest. "Are you going to tell me what happened? What's wrong?"

There was a long silence and eventually Ino looked up. "Akako." She murmured, her voice so quiet that Asuma had to lean forward slightly to hear her.

"Akako?" The man repeated, frowning.

The older ninja recognised it as the name of a boy from the next village over. He, too, was a ninja and Ino had been seeing him for the past few months. Asuma couldn't say he approved of him. The red headed boy had proved to brash and rude for the man's tastes; and it wasn't brash in an endearing way like Ino, or perhaps even Naruto. Shikamaru and Choji, too, had agreed they didn't like him, but the three males had agreed to keep it quiet, for Ino's sake. There was an agreement with the men of the team; Ino was, essentially, the boss and if Ino was happy with a guy (and the guy wasn't giving her any trouble) then Asuma, Shikamaru and Choji would not pass judgement. However as Asuma looked down at his tragic looking student, he could see that perhaps it was time to pass judgement on Akako.

"Yeah," Ino looked over at her Sensei, her eyes swimming with tears. "He…we just…"

Asuma felt a jolt in his stomach all of a sudden.

"Just…what?" He questioned carefully, his voice hoarse.

Inside the man was praying to God he wasn't going to get the answer he was guessing. For some reason the idea of someone touching Ino, of…of doing anything with Ino, it made his heart twinge, as if someone was pinching his very soul. God, why did he feel that though? Asuma cared for all his students. He probably had the best relationship with his students out of any of the Sensei's in the village and he didn't have a favourite, despite many people's insistence that Shikamaru was his favourite. He could talk to Shikamaru, yes, and they got on well, but he honestly cared for each of his students equally and he'd always -always- wanted to protect Ino- and that included protecting her from unwanted suitors. He tended to ignore the twitches he felt when Ino talked about her current boyfriend of the week. He put the irritableness he felt about her dating down to the idea that he was like a father to her, but…he knew it wasn't like that. He did not look upon Ino as a daughter and it would be wrong to suggest that he did. The man shook his head, not willing to dive into that can of worms and instead he focused his attention back onto Ino.

The girl's eyes were welling up again and her chin wobbled as she looked over the man's shoulder, her eyes glazing over slightly.

"I…Asuma Sensei could you please sit next to me?"

Asuma was startled by this and his eyebrows furrowed in confusion.

"What? I-?" The man's protestations were cut off by his blonde student.

"Asuma please."

Asuma did not protest again. He shifted on his feet once or twice and then ventured over to the sofa, seating himself next to her. Ino turned once he was close and she looked up at him with her large blue eyes wavering with emotion.

"Look, I," the girl huffed and shook her head as if trying to relieve herself of the fogginess clouding her brain.

Asuma glanced over her shoulder at the window; mist blocked any view of the outside world. The Sarutobi felt almost as if his brain was as misty as the outside of his apartment.

"Ok," Ino finally let out one last huff and then pierced her Sensei with a determined look. "I was just on a date with Akako,"

Asuma raised an eyebrow, trying hard to look nonchalant despite the fact his heart twinged in response to the, relatively, benign statement.

"Right?" He replied.

"It was going fine; he was very sweet, though I thought he was acting kinda weird," the girl paused again and then looked to the side. "Anyway, we were walking through the forest when he reached out and grabbed my hand. I, sorta, didn't really want to-"

"Hold hands?" Asuma checked.

Ino gave him a slightly curt look for interrupting her and Asuma felt a slight beat of amusement. The Yamanaka continued, apparently unaware of how fondly her Sensei was looking upon her.

"Yes," she concurred to the man's question. "Look, I, uh. I know I've told you and Shikamaru and Choji that I've done…um…quite a bit with guys,"

"Yes you have." Asuma agreed, trying to keep his tone emotionless. Ino had come to him for help, he needed to be grown up and mature about this. Plus…he was 31 years old he shouldn't be feeling jealous about his 16 year old student getting attention.

"Mm," Ino paused again for a moment and then the next moment she spoke, she rushed, the words tumbling out of her mouth like a waterfall. "Well, look, I haven't actually done anything with any guys in all honesty. I know that probably makes me seem pathetic, but I just…I haven't kissed anyone, I haven't done anything,"

Asuma felt elated though he kept his face as contained as he could.

"That's not pathetic." He murmured, still trying to keep on the good Sensei track. God, why couldn't he had got Kakashi's kids? He'd take a revenge mad murderer over an emotional, attractive blonde who made him feel all mixed up inside, any day.

At his words Ino blushed a little and she looked down before she scooted a little closer. The older man stiffened slightly, but he didn't move away. Ino was now close enough that he could feel her body warmth, he blinked slowly trying not to focus on it.

"Well, actually, the reason I've refused to do anything is because I…I actually really like someone else…"

Asuma's muscles were rigid now.

"Akako?" He reminded her, his voice comically high.

Ino was silent for a moment and then she nodded. "Yeah, anyway, so I resisted holding hands with him, but he insisted, so eventually I gave in. Then, a little later on, he suddenly pinned me against a tree and, uh, kissed me-"

"Against your will?" Asuma's blood was boiling and his tone was harsh as he choked out the question.

Ino looked a little bemused. "I, uh, no I don't think it was against my will," she replied. "Because, I, reciprocated,"

"Oh," Asuma began to feel a little stupid. Maybe he shouldn't have started reading into the lines so much. Teenage girls were awfully finicky at times. "Ok. Well…that's good."

"Yes," Ino agreed, but she didn't sound convinced. "Only, he didn't try to leave it at that…"

Asuma's jaw tightened. "Oh?"

Ino began looking upset again now. "No. Um, he…he...well he tried to have, uh, sex with me."

Asuma closed his eyes. Flashes of Akako and Ino in various states of undress flitted through his mind. How beautiful Ino most likely looked with the cold night air against her. Her cheeks red-Asuma cut off his own thoughts and opened his eyes.

"Tried?" He repeated.

Ino nodded. "Yes. I didn't want to, but he kept insisting and he kept trying to pull up my dress," the girl indicated down to her legs and Asuma let his eyes roam down her porcelain thighs, following the curve of her calf as it met her ankle.

When had the girl become a woman? When had Ino gained all these curves? When had the nape of her neck become so inviting? Asuma shook his head; aware that the last thing Ino would want would be her own Sensei checking her out.

"So, I, um, I kicked him in the balls,"

This grabbed Asuma's attention, he looked up, his eyes glinting.

"You did?" He questioned, making no effort to hide his delight.

"Yes. And then I got him into that choke you showed us."

Asuma's mouth split into a happy grin. "That's my girl!" He exclaimed.

Ino met his eyes as he said this. "Yes," she agreed.

Asuma closed his mouth and looked at her, his brow creasing slightly at the amount of emotion in her voice.

"You see, that's what I told him,"

"What?"

"That I belong to someone else," the girl replied. "That I belong to you."

A white heat raced up Asuma's spine and he could not find the words to reply. He stared at the girl mutedly, his mouth agape. Part of him knew how wrong it was to find those words so delightful, but the other part, the stronger part, was telling him how lucky he was.

"Asuma, when I was fighting Akako I realised something. I realised why I didn't want him to touch me, why I didn't want to kiss him, why I didn't want…him. It's because I want you Asuma. I've wanted and loved you for a long time-"

"No, Ino-" Asuma's bleats were cut off when Ino placed one slender finger to his lips, silencing him.

"Please Asuma," she stared at him soulfully, her mascara drying upon her cheeks, her hair falling free completely now. "Please love me back."

Asuma was silent and the silence seemed to go on for many minutes. All he could hear was his own breathing and his own blood pounding in his ears. Ino's eyes were desperate and the man could see she'd laid everything on the line. Could he do the same? Could he drop the relationship he'd forged, out of want of companionship, with Kurenai? Could he risk the backlash? The glares he could receive?

After looking into Ino's eyes for a few moments, Asuma Sarutobi decided he could and then he moved the last few inches down the sofa. His hand ghosted up her back and gripped the back of her head softly while he slowly moved his lips forward, melting them with her's. He brought his hands to her face, wiping away the last of her tears with his thumbs as they drew apart.

They did not speak, but they simply smiled. Aware that they'd changed everything, but too elated, at that moment, to dwell on it.


So…yeah! My first AsuIno fic is finally up! We can all thank rabid behemoth for this crime against writing as she inspired me to be quicker with my fic! Here's hoping she'll continue writing her wonderful fics! I hope this was ok. I truly love this pairing and I know this is more of just a snapshot, but I will be working on more AsuIno fics because the pairing needs more love! I'd appreciate a review, but thank you for simply reading too! Lots of love, Gerkyhen.