The Last Prayer @graefoxx
15Unobstructed

Hey guys,

Writing when you don't have to work is so much fun. It's like I finally have time to write my ideas down. Some of you may know that I carry a little notebook with me while I work so I can quickly jot any idea that pops into my head. That note book has ideas well into the chūnin exams. Like all the way into the little tournament to narrow down the 3rd part of the exam. And I finally get to write them down! So, I'll write as much as I can, this I promise :)

Warning: Kissing.

Enjoy!

KURENAI

"Again, thank you for granting my selfish request," Kurenai sternly says, bowing respectfully to the heads of one of the four honored clans in Konoha, Chōza and Chiharu Akimichi. Chōza nods but is clearly confused about her insistence to speak with them as soon as humanly available as well by the disguised person sitting next to the Jōnin-sensei. The four are in the traditionally styled seating room of the main house of the Akimichi compound with the clan heads seated across Kurenai and a black cloaked, masked figure.

"As I mentioned this is a very delicate situation and may not begin to make sense until the end," Kurenai speaks. "Furthermore, the identity of the person next to me will never be revealed." Despite having to look up at the large Akimichi, Kurenai doesn't blink, buckle, or dwindle in any way.

Chōza stares into the serious red eyes of the Jōnin and can easily read how deadly serious she is. The tall figurehead grumbles but nods nonetheless, adding, "then please speak, Kurenai-sensei."

"I'd like to ask Chōji-kun a few questions; in your presence, of course," Kurenai starts and quicker than a heartbeat, the clan heads grow tense at the mention of their son and heir. Though easily detecting a clout of paternal energy emanating from them, the raven-haired Jōnin continues calmly as if she felt no hostility. "I will also ask for one of your blue pills, as that item is at the center of this entire event."

In addition to tense shoulders and upright posture, the two heads grow confused. Chōza states, "we'd, very much, like to know what you plan to ask Chōji."

"Of course, Chōza-dono," Kurenai states. "My intention is to ascertain Chōji-kun's knowledge of the blue pill. All I will ask is if he knows what it is and if he's-" A tap on Kurenai's arm from the hidden Ino lets her know she wishes to completely disappear. Kurenai turns from Ino to the observant heads. "With your permission, she wishes to be hidden further in genjutsu. She will not leave my side, I give you my word as a Jōnin of Konoha." With a hard nod from Chōza, Kurenai utilizes her genjutsu to completely erase Ino's presence from their senses, though she, herself, can still see the blond double over trying to keep her shaky breathing even.

Kurenai places her hand on Ino's shoulder though it looks as if she's comforting nothing but air. "You have to understand Chōza-dono, Chiharu-dono, this person has suffered in ways no girl should due to either foul-play or negligence. You know the purpose of your stimulant pill. It shouldn't be difficult to imagine."

"You're saying… Chōji…" Chiharu starts her mind racing. "He would never! He couldn't!"

"I've only ever heard positive things about Chōji-kun," Kurenai admits. "Without the personality needed to carry out such intentions, it's clear there's a piece missing. I only wish to ask him if he knows what the pill is and if he gave it to anyone." Chōza's hard face nods, and Kurenai adds, "please allow me to ask him myself."

They place the blue pill on the table between them and summon Chōji. Stern parents on one side and the pretty Jōnin Ino had talked about on the other side is the sight Chōji faces when he enters the seating room.

"Otou-san, Okaa-san," Chōji calls for clarity. "Kurenai-sensei," he greets with a short bow.

"Please have a seat, Chōji-kun," Kurenai gestures. Slowly, he does as she asks. Spotting the blue pill in the middle of the table, a twin of one he had taken, Chōji automatically grows nervous. He hadn't liked taking the pill, but he was happy that Ino had become much friendlier within the team, so he can't feel all that bad. "Chōji-kun," Kurenai delicately starts. Despite his parents stern energy, the pretty sensei's smile puts him at ease. "If you could help us out, there are a few questions I'd like to ask you. Now be honest, do you know what this is?"

Chōji looks at the blue pill Kurenai-sensei is pointing to and feels very much like he's in trouble. Though his first instinct is to deny it, Kurenai-sensei is a Jōnin, his parents are here, and he's been taught better than to lie, so, he slowly nods as he answers, "…Okaa-san said it was a special pill shinobi and kunoichi take so they can be friendly." As if experiencing terrible stomach pains, his mother drops her head with wide eyes.

Chōji wonders why his mother's looks so sad when Kurenai-sensei continues to ask, "friendly how, Chōji-kun?"

Slowly eying his freaked out parents, Chōji nervously answers, "so they can be nicer to each other, like best friends are."

Chōza's gulp is as audible as his knuckles cracking from a tight fist when Kurenai then asks, "and did you happen to give this pill to someone you wanted to be better friends with?" Chōji slowly nods his head, beginning to answer, "I gave it to-"

"Chōji-kun, please don't say her name," Kurenai interjects, lifting her hand seal ready to silence him if need be. While Chōji's mother seems devastated, Chōza is a stone, immobile and just as imposing.

"Who?" Chōza demands of Kurenai, who only answers, "she wishes to remain anonymous, Chōza-dono. She has plans and goals, like any other, and wants to put this entire episode behind her in order to move forward with her life. Revealing her identity would only accomplish the same end a great deal of time after everyone has already assumed an unwarranted bias and personal opinion of her."

"…H-how old," Chiharu tearfully asks. Kurenai knows that many of the clan mothers are members of the Allied Mothers Force and suspects it's hurting Chiharu to realize what's happened to someone's daughter.

Kurenai turns to a confused, angry, agonized young Ino before answering Chiharu, "too young." Her response pained Chiharu to the point of silent tears.

"…Otou-san," Chōji tries again, reacting nervously to the mood of the room.

"I told you to talk to him," Chiharu blurts to Chōza, dabbing the edges of her eyes. "I told you he asked- I told you!"

Stern yet ashamed, Chōza shifts himself to face his terribly confused son. His small eyes are full of sadness and disappointment as he explains, "Chōji, that pill… is not what you think it is."

"What is it," Chōji quickly asks, desperate to understand the heavy and unspoken thing everyone else seems to know.

"We've talked to you about our clan's medicines," Chōza states getting a nod from his son. "And you've been educated on love and sex by us as well as the Academy." Chōji's chubby cheeks glow red, flickering guilty eyes in Kurenai's direction before nodding. "You know a sexual relationship should only be done between two people who love each other and are married." Again, a pink-cheeked Chōji nods. "When you reach a certain age, older adults simply don't have the energy to be loving like they were when they were young." Chōza indicates to the blue pill on the table, explaining, "this pill is special because it provides older married couples the energy they need to engage in physical love."

Chōji sits up straighter flustered by what his father is explaining, in the presence of Kurenai-sensei no less. "W-what do you mean? How," Chōji gravely asks.

"Think of the reactions from our Chakra pills," Chōza painfully details. "The three colored pills forcibly converts fat reserves to chakra for tremendous power. This blue pill creates a chemical reaction within the body that forces a person to feel a tremendous physical urge to have sexual relations… and if the person takes enough, he or she will want to have sex even if it's with a stranger," Chōza fiercely answers.

"But… But-" Chōji gets to his feet, and whips to his mother. "It's for being better friends! Okaa-san, you said-"

"You were wrong Chōji!" Chōza's powerful voice thunders in the room. "…We were wrong. The girl- the far too young girl you gave this pill to suffered terribly because of you and this clan."

Chōji looks horror-stricken, clearly thinking of his blond teammate having sex with someone she doesn't love. "But that- that wasn't why I gave it to-"

"Chōji-kun," Kurenai yells lifting her genjutsu seal to her chest but doesn't silence him. "She is the victim here! The guilt you feel, the shame your parents must feel only comes second to her suffering, so do not speak her name. If her identity is revealed, your parents and her parents will have to be involved, which will then involve the Hokage. And despite any justice she may see, everyone will know what happened to her. This will define her in the eyes of her peers, her village, and to some extent, her parents, possibly for years. That is not what she wants. You will never—I repeat, NEVER—reveal the identity of the person you gave that pill to!"

After ordering the teary-eyed genin, Kurenai turns to the parents. "It's very possible you may come to learn the identity of this person. In the event that you do, she only asks three things of you. One, you attempt to shoulder your shame so she may have a brighter future without the stigma of being a victim of sexual impropriety. Two, if you must appease your conscious, you give her sufficient time to speak and prepare her parents. And three, she punches your son."

Before Kurenai finishes the sentence, an invisible Ino spins Chōji around and strikes him harder than she's ever punched anyone in her life. Her fist didn't even feel human as her suffering condenses her muscle, tendon, and bone to the unyielding density of a diamond. Driven by extensive mental and emotional anguish, her killer right straight impacts Chōji's nose with such force, he's sent flying into the table behind him. Despite feeling a crunch at the end of her fist, Ino feels no sense of satisfaction and rather than hit him again, and possibly lose herself to homicidal mania, Ino snags the blue pill that's rolled on the floor, jumps on top of Chōji, and shoves the extra-strength sexual stimulant down his throat.

More than content with the one easily aroused boy in her life, Kurenai prepares to leave, informing Chōza, "despite the suffering Chōji-kun is responsible for, I do not believe your son had any ill-intention." Chiharu is helping her son while Chōza remains still. "If you can assure me he will be thoroughly informed of what's expected of him moving forward, I will accept that and maybe some of us can move on from this."

Both knuckles pressed into the floor, Chōza bows deeply, stating with grim authority, " you have it." He turns to where Ino may be and bows again, "you have our deepest sympathy for the pain my son, our clan, has put you through." Chiharu bows as well while Chōji looks around, both hands holding his broken nose.

Kurenai can see Ino steel her posture, likely putting on a brave face under the mask before she turns and leaves. After a bow, Kurenai follows and when they reach the safety of Kurenai's home, the genjutsu over Ino is removed along with the cloak and mask. "Considering all involved, as a ranking officer in our military force, I will have to hand our Hokage a Black Scroll about this."

"What's a Black Scroll," Ino asks before realizing, "and you promised me you wouldn't tell anyone-"

"I'm not telling our Hokage what happened," Kurenai states, calming the girl some. "Well, not exactly. A Black Scroll is a detailed report of what happened to you and all involved, so in that sense, yes I am. However, it is sealed and only opened in the event a blood feud arises between prominent members of those involved; in this case, should the Yamanaka clan claim a blood feud against the Akimichi clan. If two of the four honored clans in Konoha begin to feud, our Hokage will need to intervene. Opening the scroll then, and only then, will equip him with the facts he'll need to help avoid any bloodshed."

"…I know this can't remain a secret forever," Ino rationally admits. "I just don't want to be the gossip of the village; portraying me behind my back like some slut, or helpless victim."

"I know," Kurenai hugs the girl. "But remember, no matter what others say about you, they don't define you. You're the only one who can do that. For the moment, we've bought ourselves some time for you to make a name for yourself that has nothing to do with who you slept with. Use it wisely."

Earnestly, Ino nods before hugging the beautiful woman appreciatively. "Pretty sure we saved him too," Ino says into Kurenai's mane with a chuckle. "People hate him so much they'd probably figure out a way to blame the whole thing on him."

"It wouldn't surprise me," Kurenai admits, pulling back to look at the girl.

"Thank you sensei," Ino gratefully expresses, kissing the gorgeous kunoichi in the cheek, to Kurenai's pleasant surprise. "Would it be okay if I talked to you sometime, you know, about my… strong feelings?"

"If you want to talk about specifics you can't or won't share with your mother, than I'd be happy to."

SAKURA

Sakura was surprised to hear her mother call her down. Her family had just finished dinner and Sakura was getting ready for tomorrow. She sighed when she realized it would be a Sasuke-less tomorrow. Earlier that morning, Kakashi-sensei had explained to Naruto and herself that he would be taking Sasuke-kun to a specialized training trip. While she was thrilled Sasuke-kun was getting the recognition he deserves, as well as the famed Sharingan, she was also sad and frustrated that she was being left behind.

'Physically left behind by Sasuke-kun and Kakashi-sensei, and left behind in terms of skill by Naruto,' she thinks, repeating for the hundredth time since the miracle event. 'He beat a Jōnin! Zabuza was giving Kakashi-sensei a hard time,' Sakura recalls. 'And Naruto beat that!' Sakura felt abandoned on multiple fronts.

She was certain about that feeling of abandonment, as it's been an on again and off again companion for most of her life. Sakura easily recalls the first time her father left to travel with the slow-moving caravan along trade routes throughout the countries. Young as she was, she couldn't understand this was how he supported their family. All she knew was that he was leaving and feared he may never come back. Sakura can vividly recall her younger self waiting at the corner of their street for hours, hoping to see his figure walking back to her that night, but he never did. It wouldn't be until many weeks later when he finally returned, and though Sakura was happy to see him again, she still had those lingering feelings of inadequacy as a daughter.

After leaving the Konoha forces, her mother joined the civilian council which took up most of her time and energy, leaving Sakura with a great drive to prove her existence to her somewhat vacant parents. So, rather than mentally reciting the protocol for treating subarachnoid hemorrhage with Iryō-ninjutsu, her mind is filled with her depression over Kakashi-sensei and Sasuke-kun's departure and her feelings of inadequacy within her home and team.

A despondent Sakura slinks downstairs at the call of her mother and at the sight of her late-night guest, Sakura is instantly simmering with anger. Ino waves happily at Sakura and after explaining to Mebuki she already had dinner, both girls relocate to Sakura's room. Sakura takes a seat on her puffy white and pink bed, glaring at Ino as she moves around the bed and lays down on the other side, letting out a sigh of content. Ino pats the bed, a clear indication, and Sakura lays down as well without much fuss.

Both girls lay on Sakura's bed, looking up at the ceiling for several moments until Ino states, "you were right about the Tree-walking and Water-walking." Sakura swivels her head to look at the blond as she continues, "you guys were gone for a month and a half and our team just started water walking last week. I may have to see Naruto train because it's pretty hard to believe he can hold that constant flow of chakra for longer than twenty minutes."

Thinking of her confusing orange-clad teammate, Sakura lets out a sharp exhale like quick laughter before she answers, "you're more than welcome to take my place training with him. I don't want to be around him any longer then I have to."

"I doubt that," Ino casually replies. At Sakura's confused quirk of her eyebrow, Ino responds, "don't think I don't know when you're bluffing."

"…I'm not trying to bluff-"

"Let's be true kunoichi, Sakura," Ino cuts in, confusing Sakura further. It's always a red flag when Ino uses her name, but the pinkette couldn't know how amazed Ino is with Kurenai-sensei, nor how much lighter the beautiful Yamanaka felt after that afternoon. Knowing the truth has eased her in a way she hadn't expected, like there is hope after all, and with clear satisfaction, Ino tells Sakura, "I'm getting a better picture of the type of kunoichi- well, the type of woman I want to be."

"A blackmailing cold-hearted bitch," Sakura asks.

Ino snorts. "I get why you're angry with me but you should really read the mood better," Ino points out, brushing the sting of the pinkette's words aside. "I'm in a good mood so naturally that makes you angry, because why should I be in a good mood when you're suffering, right? But if you hadn't snapped you would've heard me offer to give you one of the photos."

"Okay I'm sorry," Sakura tries rolling on her side to face Ino with desperation. "Look, it's not so much you. Kakashi-sensei told us this morning he would be taking Sasuke-kun on a personal training mission. They're going to be gone for a whole month, leaving me with Naruto, so, yeah, I'm upset. Please, Ino… I didn't mean the cold-hearted part," Sakura weakly fumbles to apologize.

"But the blackmailing bitch part?"

"If the sandal fits," Sakura hotly returns, rolling back to look at the ceiling. Though she expected some form of backlash, Ino simply snickers and Sakura can see it more clearly now. Ino does look lighter—more cheerful perhaps.

The Yamanaka smirks and nods before asking, "so what are you and Naruto going to do while they're gone."

With another sigh, Sakura answers, "Kakashi-sensei has me working with the Iryō Butai and per your demands, I'll keep training with Naruto around my medic training."

Slight uneasy, Ino asks, "what about Naruto?"

"That's a little odder," Sakura admits to her former best friend. "Kakashi-sensei said that Kurenai-sensei will manage Naruto's training while he's away and that Asuma-sensei will be helping as well, but I'm not sure why two sensei. I mean, Naruto is a lot stronger than I thought he was, but does he need two sensei to train?" At Ino's hard squeal, Sakura turns to the blond to witness Ino rolling from left to right, kicking the air in gleeful delight. "What?" Sakura cautiously asks.

Ino turns to her and happily answers, "I bet you anything Kakashi-sensei is trying to help Asuma-sensei."

"Why would he-?"

"Because Asuma-sensei is in love with Kurenai-sensei!" Ino squeals before explaining to her Asuma's duty as the Hokage's son, the princess' stay in Konoha, and how the nearly-arranged marriage intervened in Asuma and Kurenai's love. "You should see how many roses he's buying just to win her back, uahh, it's so romantic! There's even this other cocky Jōnin totally trying to make a play for her. I just know Kakashi-sensei is trying to help Asuma-sensei."

"That's so sweet of Kakashi-sensei to do," Sakura had to admit, feeling better about her sensei leaving.

"I really want them to be together," Ino admits. "Kurenai-sensei is just amazing."

"She's so beautiful," Sakura admits, recalling the strong Jōnin-sensei. "I love her red eyes. They remind me of the Sharingan."

Turning to the pinkette, Ino says, "since Sasuke-kun's gone, you wouldn't have been able to earn that photo anyway. I was going to make you talk to him." Sakura listens saddened and perplexed as Ino continues, "the woman I want to be doesn't use blackmail to solve her problems."

"Then why not give me all the photos," Sakura pleads.

"We're still ninja," Ino sternly tells the green-eyed girl. "Just because we're in the safety of the village doesn't mean we should be lax. You were careless, and more than that, I don't believe your love for Sasuke-kun is healthy."

"You're just jealous because I'm the closest one to Sasuke-kun's heart," Sakura automatically counters before her well educated mind tortures her with specific exerts of the reports Ino made her do on obsessive love; specifically on her compulsion to assume without any concrete facts and argue with anyone who doesn't wholly support her love.

Soured, Sakura sighs when Ino states, "let me be clear here, I don't care if you love Sasuke-kun-"

"You have photos in your possession that say otherwise," Sakura retorts.

"In spite of how I got those photos, I'm only going to use them to help one person," Ino states, adding before Sakura could retort her obvious response, "a lot of people run from self-discovery. Despite how pathetic you are, I'm going to hold up a mirror and make absolutely certain you see the ugly truth about yourself whether you like it or not."

"And what's this truth I'm supposed to see?" Sakura snarls.

"What I've been saying this entire time, Forehead," Ino returns. "Obsession is not love!" Ino gets up out of the bed and walks to the foot of it before turning to Sakura. "Your hair's messier now without your constant brushing and conditioning—the style looks a little like Kurenai-sensei's actually." Sitting up, Sakura was going to counter nastily until she mentioned the pretty Jōnin-sensei. "Your arms have more definition, your neck looks stronger, your thighs have more tone, your butt pops out more, and you have sharper eyes, like you see more. You're starting to look more like a proper kunoichi but your mind still needs work."

"I've always been smarter than you," Sakura smugly admits.

"Memorizing text isn't what I'm talking about," Ino returns. "There's a boy in your head where you should be, so, in an effort to be the kunoichi I want to be, I'm going to offer you the chance to earn all the photos a lot sooner than I had originally planned."

Sakura leaps off the bed, asking, "how?"

Before walking to the door, all Ino says is, "by proving to me just how much you love Sasuke-kun of course." Ino opens the door, informing Sakura, "we're having a sleepover at my place, tomorrow, 8PM," before leaving.

NARUTO

The day turned out to be far more interesting than Naruto had anticipated…

…Not that he could think in the cold darkness of pre-dawn. Naruto didn't really wake up until his acute grogginess met with the reality of meeting Kurenai and Sakura at the crack of dawn. To his left is the pink-haired green-eyed love of his life, and to his right is a beautiful woman he actually has the supreme fortune of learning how to have sex with. He grew very anxious then, and slightly aroused at the sight of the one woman he has sex with and one he hopes to on the night of their wedding.

Standing before two of the most important kunoichi in his life promotes a never-ending sinking feeling at the pit of his stomach, like a queasy pulling of his intestines. Maybe if he wasn't such a slow learner he would've figured out everything there is to know about making a girl feel good—or at least not regret being with him—then he wouldn't feel like he's betraying his love for Sakura-chan. But how could he know the world of sex would be so large and complex?

He's gaining steady experience with Nai-chan, happily so—near to the point of addiction—enough to think maybe he could make Ino-chan feel good a few days ago, but clearly she hadn't liked what he did. Hopefully, he'll have the opportunity to ask her about Ino.

Noticing how beautiful both women look in the morning, it's enough to get his blood rushing, waking him up as Kurenai promptly starts as soon as she arrives. "Good morning, Team Seven," and Naruto effortlessly recalls her moans, sending more blood to his third leg. "I know it's early, but as I'll be with my team for most of the day, I wanted to connect with you both to explain how things are going to proceed while your Jōnin-sensei and teammate are away."

"Sensei," Sakura-chan begins to say as she looks around. "Shouldn't we wait for Asuma-sensei? Kakashi-sensei said he would be assisting as well."

With a short smile, Kurenai tells them, "Asuma-sensei will be assisting in a specific area of Naruto-kun's training. So he doesn't need to be here at this time." When Sakura nods, Kurenai continues. "I want you both to know that much of your day will not change. With or without a Jōnin-sensei, you will continue to train yourselves diligently. Kakashi-sensei has arranged for the Iryō Butai to assist you, Haruno-chan, in your medic training. Having looked over Kakashi-sensei's notes, I'm very excited to see your progress."

"Sakura-chan's the smartest one on the team," Naruto professes. "I know she's going to be the best Iryō-nin ever!" Sakura sighs and Kurenai's jaw tightens despite her smile.

"I'm impressed by your progress as well, Naruto-kun," Kurenai says, and his heart beats even faster before aching in the presence of Sakura.

"He's just a training freak, sensei," Sakura-chan easily asserts. "No need to waste too much effort on him."

Naruto chuckles lightly when Kurenai tells the two, "I rather disagree, Haruno-chan. Kakashi-sensei's notes mentioned Naruto-kun learned quite a few techniques before his teammates, and even recognized your potential as an Iryō-nin. Not to mention, as a Jōnin-sensei, I can tell you his current training is years ahead of his time. As I'm only a stand-in for your sensei, I wouldn't presume to tell you how to feel about your teammate, however, I would advise against allowing your opinion to obstruct your perception of clear facts."

Naruto didn't know how he felt or what to say. Sakura looked hurt, and it seemed to be by Kurenai. Instinctively, he wants to defend Sakura but Kurenai is one of the best sensei's he's ever had and he doesn't want to ruin that. It feels like he's being forced to choose between the love in his heart and love of a special person, splitting him right down the middle. Taking a stand Naruto begins to say, "ne sensei-"

"And Naruto-kun," Kurenai cuts him off. "There is nothing wrong with standing up for yourself. Don't think I haven't noticed how terribly others treat you. You are a valuable shinobi of the Leaf, you both are, and in my presence, I want you to treat each other as such. Do I make myself clear?"

Both Naruto and Sakura looked at each other a moment before nodding and speaking in unison, "hai, sensei."

"Good," Kurenai smiles warmly at them both. "Mission central opens in two hours. Before the day's end, I want Team 7 to complete three D-ranks-" Kurenai is cut off by Naruto's bemoaned groan. "I would now like Team 7 to do four D-ranks- and if you complain further I'll add another." Aside from the audible gulp, Naruto remains silent. "Four D-Ranks for me to sign. I also want you alternating the leadership position on your missions. Two missions will have Haruno-chan in charge and the other two will have Naruto-kun in charge. After each, I want you to talk about what you did right and what you could've done better. After missions, you will continue with your special training. Naruto, you'll see me after. In the next few days, we'll discuss each of your training schedules for the month but that's all for now. Any questions?"

"Ah," Naruto hollers, recalling what he wanted to ask her the night before. "Kurenai-chan-"

"Don't use chan to address our sensei, Naruto," Sakura interjects. "That's disrespectful."

"But I'm not trying to be disrespectful," Naruto genuinely replies. "It means we're close, right?"

"You say it when you actually have a personal connection, like a friend or family member," Sakura sternly informs him. "Kurenai-sensei probably doesn't want to hear that from you."

"While I prefer to keep conversation professional, I've made a special exception in Naruto-kun's case," Kurenai tells Sakura before turning to Naruto and asking, "though, I wouldn't be opposed to learning a little more about your relationship to the Sandaime." Naruto looks confused so Kurenai simplifies it, "why do you call our Hokage, Ji-chan?" Sakura turns to Naruto as well, very interested in what her blond teammate may reveal.

Naruto simply shrugs, answering, "because he's always been Ji-chan."

With a patient smile, Kurenai asks, "can you be a little more specific?"

Naruto squints his eyes looking deep in thought before answering, "Well, when I was just a kid, I met him in the forest. I was training—you know, hitting targets with rocks—and hunting for ninja tools-"

"Why would you look for shinobi gear in the forest?" a perplexed Sakura asks. "I hope you didn't think shinobi just leave their important equipment for anyone to find."

"I-" Naruto starts, only to stop himself and consider his words. It's not something he does often, but he doesn't want his teammate thinking he's weird by telling her the truth.

"Naruto," Kurenai softly speaks. "I've done a fair amount of research, and I know you've had a tough life. It's okay to tell me the truth."

Naruto automatically thinks about how she tricked him into telling her about Ino and smirks before saying, "I'm not falling for that again. If you know so much, you tell me."

Kurenai smirks cheekily before turning to a confused Sakura, explaining, " as an orphan, ryo is always a problem. There's a village issued allowance, however, that barely covered food, much less all the equipment needed to be a ninja. Without the funds to buy gear, Naruto-kun must've realized at some point that ninja die in some of the training grounds; Training Ground 44 for example. You went into the Forest of Death to scavenge for tools from shinobi who'll no longer be using them."

"You stole from dead bodies," Sakura cries in disgust. The tone of disgust alone made him want to cry, but her deep denial, like no one 'normal' could ever do such a thing, made him want to crawl in a hole and take a suicide pill.

Kurenai immediately tells Sakura with authority, "Haruno-chan, it seems you don't quite understand the predicament your teammate lived through. While I don't begrudge you for having a stable home and fortunate finances, perhaps it's too difficult for you to understand since every material desire you've needed was more than likely met. Please recognize the fact that many other shinobi in this village, young and old, are not so lucky. Had my parents not left me a sizable savings upon their death, nor had I inherited my home, I can assure you I would've done the same thing Naruto-kun had."

Sakura looked stung, again, and this time Naruto was going to stand up for her. "Sensei, I'm not like that anymore, so it's okay. And you're right. That's how I met Ji-chan. I didn't know who he was. He was just Ji-chan. We camped, ate together, and talked—he told the best stories—and he… he was really good to me… the first one to really be good to me. We've been friends ever since. That's pretty much it."

"You make it sound like afternoon tea," Kurenai mumbles, mentally scratching that curiosity from her list before asking, "what did you want to ask me?"

"Ah, yeah, um, will you come to a Welcome to the Village party I'm throwing for Haku?" Naruto asks, surprising her with the unexpected question. "So far it's me, Hinata-chan, Haku, Sakura-chan, and if I can sneak out Iruka-sensei-"

"Naruto, do not take Iruka-san out of the hospital. He's a post-acute inpatient care, which means until they clear him, he remains where they can monitor him, understand?"

Glumly, he nods and Sakura tells him, "don't include me without even asking first."

"Sorry," Naruto chuckles. "I just thought you'd say yes. Come on, you like Haku right?"

With a shrug, Sakura just nods. Naruto turns to Kurenai then, with large, sparkling, hopeful, clear blue eyes, his has clasp together like in prayer. Kurenai very nearly regrets all her decisions up to this point when she feels a great pang of affectionate submission under such a cute onslaught. 'Ugh, really?' her emotion-driven mind groan. It's just hard not to care about someone who cares so much. Add to that he's still spending time with Hinata-chan despite ending her genjutsu training with her ward. Kurenai rolls her red irises a bit before nodding with a small smile, which grew when he fist pumps in unrestrained glee.

Kurenai grabs a handful of leaves and turns to him. "Naruto-kun, I want a clone for this many. You know what to do."

"What?" Naruto complained, thinking about Ino and all the questions he has about why everything happened to her. He never got a chance to last night since she never came over. "But I was hoping-"

"Naruto," Kurenai says with such warmth in her voice and eyes, it's stunning. "I know you can do it. I believe in you."

Naruto feels like he found something he lost. Though he can't forget how important his training is, he knows he can get distracted, especially when it comes to Kurenai or the people he's hurt with his mistakes. He's literally standing in front of two of the most important people in his life and unlike them, he knows something bad is coming to try and take them away. All slumber and arousal are forgotten as he puts his fingers together and speaks, "Kage Bunshin no Jutsu."

Naruto had never spoken so much to Sakura before. They've communicated necessary information before but never did they have long-running dialog. She was still a little sharp with her critiques of his style as mission leader but she also pointed out what he did well. Their missions were mundane but talking to Sakura calmly was fun. Naruto is looking for Kurenai to sign off on their fourth mission when he runs into Team Ten.

"Yo!" Naruto calls cheerfully, trying to act as natural as Ino seems to be. "Have you guys seen Kurenai-sensei? We need her to sign our mission scroll."

"'Fraid not," Asuma answers. "Try training ground four. Found her team using the lake there before."

"Cool," Naruto calls. It takes him a moment to break down and finally ask, "…where's Chōji?" Ino gives him a cold stare for a second before returning to a neutral look. Naruto was told to not do anything but he still wanted to talk with the boy he thought he knew. Certainly, Ino-chan looked fine but he was still worried.

"He's sick," Asuma states.

"Sensei," Ino calls out. "If you want to help Naruto find her, we can turn in the mission scroll."

Asuma looks at a smirking Ino who chuckles a bit before saying, "that might not be a bad idea-"

"Ah!" Naruto yelps surprising Team Ten. He turns around as if sensing the location. "Never mind, I found her." Naruto quickly turns and runs opposite the training grounds. A clone of Naruto's spotted Kurenai and Hinata walking out of the Konoha library, and it only took him ten minutes to find them walking toward the training grounds. After getting her signature, Naruto creates a clone to take the scroll back to Hokage Tower, asking them, "what time do I come over?"

"Before dinner is fine," Kurenai tells him all the while observing a slightly pink-cheeked Hinata keep her cool. That would've been impossible two months ago and Kurenai is supremely happy with the girl's progress. To keep Naruto around a little longer, she asks him, "Naruto, if you had the option, would you prefer to learn Genjutsu or Fūinjutsu?"

"Mmnn," Naruto hums, thinking about Naru-nii's suggestion. Playing it with a distasteful expression on his face, Naruto responds, "don't you need to read a lot for both?"

"Anything that's worth doing requires a lot of practice and research, whether it's in a training ground or in a library," Kurenai informs him.

"Well, if I had to pick, I guess Fūinjutsu," Naruto admits before adding, "does that mean you want me to learn Fūinjutsu while I'm training?"

"As you have the option to do so without injuring yourself, yes, that's exactly what I want," Kurenai affirms. "It'd mean a lot to this village and to your future to learn as much as you can."

"It's still a lot of reading," Naruto bemoans. "If I'm supposed to learn what my clone understands, it's not going to be much if he's staring at a scroll all day."

"Trust me," Kurenai asserts with a sweet smile. "I have a full-proof method of making sure your clone retains what it reads."

"Tha-that's an amazing skill, N-Naruto," Hinata shyly confesses.

"Hm," Naruto hums as if considering a new idea that he's already discussed with Naru-nii. "How about I learn Fūinjutsu if I can spar with Hinata-chan? I bet you have some wicked moves," he eagerly tells the indigo-haired girl.

Hinata is shocked by the proposition and instinctively hops back a step, twiddling her thumbs. "I-I c-c-couldn't!"

Naruto wonders if maybe it's too much, alluding, "I guess you'd rather not spar with me. It's okay, I just thought-"

"N-N-No!" Hinata hops forward, eyes wide and fearful like accidentally stepping on a dog's tail. "T-th-that's n-not it, N-Naruto-kun. I-I would like to… I-I'm just n-not g-g-good."

"So," Naruto points out. "That's why we train! So we can get super strong. So we can spar, right? Right?"

Hinata seems trapped and looks to her sensei for help. An easy smile on Kurenai's symmetrical face tells Hinata she won't get out of this and so, despite the tremendously rapid beating of her heart, Hinata nods, 'yes.'

"Sweet!"

"Leave a clone with me so I can get you started while you train," Kurenai tells him, who salutes her command before creating a clone.

Naruto is shaking off the worst of the throbbing teeth-clenching head pain. Having to dispel ninety-three clones with hours worth of training took an hour to do safely, and yet it still had him spinning. Laying down on Kurenai's couch as the raven-haired beauty and Hinata-chan prepare dinner, Naruto recalls his eye-opening conversation with Naru-nii.

'Fūinjutsu is so much more than sealing,' Naru-nii explained during Naruto's break from his physical conditioning. While ninety clones try desperately to finally complete this stage of the leaf-cutting training, Naru-nii told him, 'think of sealing, whether it's all sorts of objects, living beings, and or chakra, like the first stage of Rasengan; it's just the entry level of Fūinjutsu. It can be tough, sure, but there are even tougher levels after that, like using Fūinjutsu to create extra-dimensional pockets for all sorts of purposes. It's what I'm doing now. Then there's what I did to commune with Shinigami-sama or contract with super strong summons from other realms to help you fight. Then, putting all that knowledge together, you can do some super sweet stuff like Fūinjutsu that can manipulate space-time to teleport yourself anywhere you want in less than a second!'

'That sounds INSANE,' an achy and sweaty Naruto gasps, his large blue eyes shining brightly at the world his older counter-part just described. Though, it's also painfully sobering for Naruto to think about. If Naru-nii knows how to do all that and still couldn't stop the danger that's coming for the entire shinobi world, what's he supposed to do? It easily paints, with such clarity, how much farther behind Naruto truly is.

Moving past some of the bias and antagonism constantly leveled toward him, the energetic blond actually felt like he was getting stronger. He felt proud that the villagers and classmates who ridiculed him were all wrong; that he does matter; that he can be as great as he envisions… but Naru-nii's predicament can very easily be Naruto's future if he doesn't get stronger as fast as he can.

Naru-nii had then listed off the levels to mastery: 'History, Calligraphy and Inscription, Chakra Mechanics within Fūinjutsu, Seal Safety and Modifications, Seal detection and Identification, Seal Design, MPBC, which stands for Mathematics, Physics, Biology, and Chemistry, Seal Disarming and Security, and Innovation.' Naru-nii also described some useful skills for a Fūinjutsu Master to have. 'If you want, I'd start with tailoring, you know, like stitching and stuff, that way you can create seals within the clothes you wear. Forewarning, that takes a LOT of practice to get good. Blacksmithing and woodworking would be cool too. Kenjutsu also helps with hand strength.'

'…How,' Naruto gasps. 'How am I supposed to learn all of that in a short amount of time? I feel like my head's going to explode right now.'

'Well, first, I'm definitely helping you out,' Naru-nii asserts. 'This is all stuff I wish I had help with so you can bet your ass I ain't going anywhere until you're the absolute best, unless I'm dead… and maybe not even then. Second, we have some time. We'll do as much as we can and hope for the best. And third, it's in your blood.'

'What do you mean,' Naruto asks.

'I already told you our family's crazy good with Fūinjutsu,' Naru-nii simply answers.

'Yeah, but just because kaa-chan and tou-chan are good at something, doesn't mean I'm automatically going to be as good at the same thing,' Naruto points out, thinking about his demoralizing Academy days.

'True, but this is somewhere between the Uchiha's Sharingan and the Nara's Shadow Bind,' Naru-nii explains. 'Not quite kekkei genkai but a little more than hiden techniques. It's just our clan's jutsu.'

'Our clan?' Naruto repeats. 'I'm part of a clan!?'

'Yup! And we were wicked awesome too!' Naru-nii energetically asserts, and Naruto can just feel the fist pump. 'It's sad, but, most of our clan were killed and the ones who survived disappeared a long time ago. I always wanted to reinstate the Uzumaki clan in Konoha but, well, with the war and all, I never got around to it.'

'Oh… do you think I could,' Naruto cautiously asks, hesitantly fantasizing about being part of a clan in Konoha—just like the other clans—so he'd never be alone again.

'I hope so, Little-Me,' Naru-nii asserts. 'I'd definitely like to know more about Kaa-chan's people.'

'Now I definitely have to be a Fūinjutsu master,' Naruto exclaims. 'So I can help the rest of our clan!'

'Hell yeah!' Naru-nii calls. 'And to be a Fūinjutsu master, you have to know how incredibly flexible it is. The thing I think a lot of practitioners get hung up on—besides how much easier it is compared to the other levels—is Fūinjutsu means sealing arts, so they just think in terms of containing something, when they should be thinking in terms of extreme chakra programming. Sealing is a task. It's a simple framework for chakra to perform. If you create other tasks and frame them properly, Fūinjutsu will do those tasks just as easily as sealing. Like I said before, with enough time and chakra, I could've used Fūinjutsu to go back in time but that wasn't an option.'

It's why Naruto pushed himself so much harder; training all afternoon and even using more of Kurama's chakra than normal. He was so close to cutting a leaf with chakra alone, it felt hours away from happening, making his bones hum deliciously with anticipation. He even created another three clones to help the one he created for Kurenai to study Fūinjutsu in Iruka-sensei's home. Pushing himself with so many clones training and studying, it left him half-dead on Kurenai's couch and useless to help Hinata and Kurenai.

Near dinner time, Naruto hops in the shower. The blond genin was surprised he remembered everything he read on Fūinjutsu as clear as if he had been told. Kurenai had his clone copy the text repeatedly on Sealing Lore in order to help him memorize it but Naruto felt like that was completely unnecessary; he just took to Fūinjutsu like a fish in water. Simply put, his brain felt naturally engaged by the knowledge and he wanted to soak up every bit of information he could get his hands on. Honestly, it shocked as much as surprised him.

After his shower, a refreshed Naruto walks down to the dining table with a mild headache that'll likely be gone in the next thirty minutes and to his surprise, Asuma-nii is sitting at the dinner table while Hinata and Kurenai are setting the table with a nice spread. At the sight of them, Naruto is even further startled when his throat clogs up and his eyes heat with prickling moisture. The three people he'll be having dinner with is such a nice scene to not only see, but be a part of…

'Dinner in a nice home, at a clean table, with three people who don't hate me!' Naruto felt choked up and wondered how much longer Haku's going to be to further complete his happy home. It's been two days and he's missing his friend very much.

KURENAI

"Have a seat Naruto," Kurenai curtly states, feeling odd by the company.

The blond ball of energy hops into his seat across a shy Hinata, and though pink-cheeked, looking away from Naruto every once in a while, she's smiling the entire time. Asuma casually nods at Naruto with his bearded chin to which Naruto returns, "what's up Asuma-nii?"

"Since we're both Fūton users and Kakashi asked me to help your training out, so, I thought I'd come over," Asuma informs him. Kurenai walks over from the stove top to place a medium-done steak on Naruto's plate before finally taking her own seat across from her fellow, yet, curious, Jōnin.

"Are we training after dinner," Naruto asks, smiling at Kurenai for the perfectly delicious looking steak. Turning to Asuma's plate Naruto then asks a more important question. "Don't you like steak?"

"As I had no prior knowledge he would be here at this time, yours was the only one I made Naruto," Kurenai answers as she and Hinata load their plate with salad, nuts, and fruit.

Crestfallen, Naruto painfully offers Asuma, "um… I guess… you can- we can split mine… if you want."

"It's okay, Naruto," Asuma states with a mild chuckle, and Naruto heaves an exhale of relief. "Salad's good to have at least once a day."

"Yeah, yeah," Naruto mutters as he starts cutting up his thick cut of well-cooked meat. Naruto moans in delight when that sweet cut of juicy meat aggressively delights his taste-buds, disqualifying him from proper dinner manners. "So, good."

Hinata laughs a pretty joyful sound, happily telling Naruto, "Naruto-kun, that's bad manners."

"Ah," Naruto hollers, turning to Kurenai. "It's really good Kurenai-chan. Thanks."

Considering how easy of a slip it is, Kurenai smiles and thanks Kami every time he doesn't say, 'Nai-chan.' Kurenai shakes her head good-natured, responding, "thank you and you're welcome."

"We won't have a full training session," Asuma starts telling Naruto as he assaults his steak. "I'd like to see where you're at in your training so I can know how to direct you from there."

"Sweet," Naruto says between bites. "With your help, I'm sure I'll be using Fūton jutsu in no time."

"Hey, now, I wouldn't say quite that fast," Asuma says eating his salad easily enough. "But I promise we'll make some headway before Kakashi's return."

"What? I want to be done before Kakashi-sensei gets back," a worried Naruto tells Asuma, feeling like he's making too much progress to slow down now.

"Naruto, you should know this isn't so simple," Asuma asserts. "It wouldn't be good for you to rush. You could end up making a costly mistake when you're in the field. Proper training in Fūton chakra is so you don't get yourself killed, and proper training takes time."

Finding the exchange curious, Kurenai wonders aloud, "has Kakashi mentioned the rate by which he learns?"

"Just said he's a Fūton user starting nature manip and could use some pointers," Asuma answers.

"And that's it," Kurenai sharply asks. While she's big enough to admit Naruto could benefit from a Fūton user's one-on-one instruction, she can tell—due to Kakashi's help—Asuma will likely split his attention between Naruto and using this as a legitimate opportunity for them to talk more.

She'll admit a part of her wants to go back to the way it was when it was just them, when it was simple. At the time, being a ninja was what a strong female did before marriage, after which a life at home taking care of the children was always where the path led to and Kurenai was happy to have that with him. But that's no longer the case. Since their last separation, she became the Genjutsu Mistress of Konoha and a Jōnin-sensei. Not to say her achievements completely derail where she thought her life would end up—she cared too much about the future of the village to not have little shinobi of her own—but with two very important pupils sitting on either side of her, and her genin team to guide, she's not ready to settle down just yet.

'Maybe in time,' she mentally asserts.'But definitely not now.'

When Asuma answers, "unless it's a mission, you know he's not much on details," Kurenai gets up, walks outside to grab a leaf and returns to the dinner table. She hands Naruto the leaf, asking, "how close are you?"

Naruto smiles broadly, super excited to show Kurenai the fruits of his labor. He takes the leaf and places it between his palms and at the errant thought Kurenai might reward him in some ultra-amazing mind-blowing way, Naruto concentrates as he's done hundreds of thousands of times, converting his chakra into his elemental nature and cuts completely through the leaf. He's a little more tired than he usually is but there's still plenty of steak to nourish him, so he grabs his fork as he casually hands Kurenai the cut leaf.

Naruto didn't notice Asuma's stunned expression or Hinata's prideful smile as Kurenai takes the leaf and shoots Asuma a, 'well?' sort of raised brow. Hinata sweetly asks with only a small amount of stutter, "S-Sensei, is that why you t-tested us on our elemental natures?"

"I was aware Naruto was beginning his training on nature manipulation," Kurenai begins to explain to her ward. "However, I don't expect my students to rush their training to catch up to anyone. You have your own strengths and rate of progression. Learning your elemental natures is simply so I can integrate and customize your training to best prepare you."

"Mn!" Naruto hums. "What's yours Hinata-chan?"

"F-fire," Hinata answers.

"Mn, fire is weak against water but strong against wind," Asuma starts explaining to the genin like the sensei he is. "Lightning is weak against wind but strong against earth. Water is weak against earth, strong against fire. And wind is weak against fire but strong against lightning, which means, if all things are equal, your wind won't hold up against her fire."

Kurenai would've preferred if Asuma had more tact as she absolutely hates how upset Hinata withers to hear the elemental weaknesses. Kurenai understands Hinata is simply sensitive to needless competition, preferring instead if everyone got along, however the crimson-eyed Jōnin couldn't know that Naru-nii had explained to Naruto both of his teammates elemental natures and despite eating, Naruto casually repeats as he was told by his future counterpart, "I thought Wind made Fire stronger?"

Kurenai's chest swelled with pride for a quick breath, absolutely thrilled by his effortless response as the energetic blond puts the color and smile back on Hinata's face. Despite years of hate and assault in his own village due to what's inside the boy, Naruto continues to prove to her just how much he's inherited the Will of Fire.

It's wondrously stirring and though she initially felt weird having dinner with the beloved man, currently causing the ache in her heart, sitting next to the blond genin, causing the multiple orgasms in her bed, she's feeling more and more like seeing the blond tonight. Sitting across from Asuma's observant eyes, she has the most wicked thrill rush through her when she wonders if she should do some anal play with Naruto. Her lower body tingles, making her press her toned legs tighter together and her cheeks visibly color.

INO

Ino opened the door to her room, letting Sakura in after the pinkette greeted her parents. The Yamanaka has a plan. She's thought about it for a full day and became resolute when she saw Naruto earlier on. Though he acted perfectly normal, she could see his concern for her behind his casual eyes. After discovering why her life took such a drastic turn, Ino found it interesting to realize she didn't actually hate her fellow blond, blue-eyed genin. Naruto was simply in the wrong place and time… or maybe in the right place and time if she considers how lucky he got.

"Here, change into this," Ino orders, enjoying the stunned and curious look on Sakura's face when she tossed her some skimpy nightwear.

Though nervous about her plan for Sakura, Ino felt the clock now. Someday in the future, her mother is going to learn what happened to her. Her father will likely go ballistic. The Yamanaka and Akimichi may no longer be close friends or even allies afterward, and where would that put the Nara clan? Ino's certain it'll happen one day and she's determined to make a name for herself before it does. She will not be known or talked about as the slut who slept with the Dead Last because neither description fit them.

Using Kurenai-sensei as her guiding star, Ino is determined to be a respectable kunoichi and that begins with getting rid of the photos. However, she can't simply give them to Sakura. Despite everything they've been through, Ino still cares about the pink-haired girl and she can't imagine her former friend will ever wake up if she didn't help her now, regardless of how hard she's shoving. If her plan didn't work, then she'll live with that, but Ino has to try.

In her short purple hotpants and tight white tank, Ino walks out of her walk-in closet to find Sakura dressed similarly. While Ino may fill out the tank more than Sakura's B-cups, Sakura clearly has the rounder derrière as evidenced by the white cheeks she's attempting to completely cover.

"Don't you have anything less slutty?" Sakura asks, squirming to cover her round posterior.

"Not going to need it," Ino admits with a smile.

"Why," Sakura cautiously asks.

Ino pats the bed and they both sit facing each other cross-legged. While Sakura's sensuality isn't on Kurenai's level, Sakura does have her charm, and Ino appreciates that this won't be as hard as she was imagining it would be. 'I might even enjoy it,' Ino thought without fear of what that says about her. After her conversations with Kurenai-sensei, Ino doesn't feel so corrupt about her odder quirks, and slowly, she's happily learning how empowering it is to be accepting of one's self. "As I said earlier," Ino starts. "I'm willing to give you all the photos earlier than originally planned."

"How?" Sakura quickly asks.

"I want you to prove to me your love for Sasuke-kun is truly strong-"

"It is!" Sakura cuts in. "You just can't see it because you're too jealous."

"And you can't see how wrong you are because you think nothing else matters as long as your love is indisputable, which is wrong!"

"Whatever, it's not like you could understand," Sakura asserts.

"Maybe, maybe not, but after this month, I think we're both going to understand more."

"What do you want?" Sakura tersely asks, "what do you want me to do? What's this master plan of yours?"

"You can keep the first one I gave you, which means I have nine photos left," Ino says taking one out. "Sporadically, I'll give you the option of earning one. I could offer you one this week, four the following week, none the week after that, or all in one day, but regardless of my giving you a photo, you and I are going to be meeting every day. And your earning a photo is completely dependent on my mood. Do you understand?"

"Yes, I'm not an idiot."

"You also have the option of backing out any time you want-"

"And prove you're right? Is that it? You're just going to make me do awful embarrassing things, making it worse and worse after each time until I give up? And this is the better kunoichi you want to be?"

"If you were a better kunoichi, you wouldn't be in this mess in the first place," Ino returns. "But you're lucky it was me and not someone else."

"Fine," Sakura calls. "What is it?"

"I want you to kiss me," Ino plain states.

"… wait, what?"

"I want you to kiss me," Ino slowly repeats.

"I… I don't- …but, we're not like that."

Ino shrugs, voicing, "so?"

"So?" Sakura repeats scandalized. "What do you mean- …wait, are you… are you a lesbian?"

'No, I'm definitely all about dick,' Ino mentally sings, thinking of how great it feels when Naruto stuffed her wide and flooded her full. After a calming breath, Ino answers, "no, I prefer men."

Confused, Sakura asks, "then why?"

"Because that's what I want you to do," Ino serenely answers.

"…No," Sakura finally tells her.

"If you don't want to that's fine. Only now you don't get a photo at the end," Ino coldly deals, forcing the pinkette to quickly understand that her options will only ever go from bad to worse. "This is how it's going to be from now on, Forehead."

"I," Sakura tries, feeling stunted. "I don't want my first kiss to be with you!"

"No, you want it to be with Sasuke-kun but unfortunately for girls everywhere, Naruto stole his first kiss, so what's it matter?"

"That still doesn't mean I want to kiss you!"

"No shit," Ino hurls back. "You think I'm just going to ask you to brush my hair or sharpen my kunai for a photo?"

Sakura's chest grows heavier with suffocation "…Why Ino?"

"Why not?" Ino simply shrugs. "I'm presenting you with the option to end this nightmare so you can once again chase after Sasuke-kun. One month, nine photos and when Sasuke-kun comes back, you'll actually be able to flaunt about him of your own free will. But of course, if you don't actually love him- Mnn!" Verbalizing her goading ended in success when Sakura pitches forward, smashing puckered lips and against Ino's. The platinum-blond engages her core muscles so as to not fall backward as Sakura merely presses her lips against Ino's.

'This is pathetic,' Ino's first thought judges. From her ordeal with Naruto, at least Ino has enough experience with impassioned—if not sloppy—kissing to know this is basically like shaking hands but with lips. Ino grabs both of the pinkette's shoulders and pushes her back. After wiping her red lips, Ino comments, "if that's what Sasuke-kun has to look forward to, don't be surprised if he breaks up with you a second later."

"Why would it feel good when I don't love you!?"

"You think love is necessary to be a good kisser?" Ino sharply asks before sarcastically retorting, "no, sure, because everyone knows you can't love your parents, friends, or teachers unless you can kiss them properly."

Saddened, Sakura pleads, "Ino, please reconsider…"

"Are you scared," Ino bluntly asks. "Is your love so weak? I could've made you kiss one of our classmates, or better yet, some old fat-ass with a thing for underage girls, but I'm trying to prove a point. If you ever want to be more than a teammate to Sasuke-kun, you need these photos. In other words, if you love Sasuke-kun, you need these photos, right? So, what's it going to be?" With a slow, painful nod, Ino tells Sakura, "lay back." After Sakura shuffles to the center of the bed, laying her head against the pillow, Ino straddles Sakura's waist, surprising the submissive girl.

"One final touch and this is non-negotiable," Ino states, placing her left index and middle in the palm of her right. "Henge!" And out of the smoke, still straddling Sakura's waist is the exact physical features of Uzumaki Naruto. Ino, disguised as Naruto, stares contentiously, daring Sakura to complain further.

All Sakura weakly asks is, "why him?"

"Hehe," Ino perfectly mimics Naruto's voice and mannerism. "Because I'm willing to bet I love you more than you love Sasuke-kun."

Ino leans down slowly, so as to not startle Sakura but to also give her time to decide. Rather than retreat, Sakura closes her eyes, and Ino's fine with that. Less than an inch away from Sakura's face, Ino-Naruto's holds there, gazing at the green-eyed girl's features.

'Sakura really is pretty in a unique sort of way,' Ino-Naruto thinks, then feels her face flush at Sakura's warm exhale. Ino's lips gently brush against Sakura's, endeavoring all she can to be soft and non-invasive.

In order for her plan to work, Ino needs Sakura's mind to feel Naruto's constant proclamations, even if it's only a disguise. Ino would've used someone else but since Naruto is the only boy who so brazenly shouts his love for Sakura, it only makes sense to use his likeness and let Sakura's mind connect the boy's ardent words with Ino's affection. The platinum blond has planned many activities for the month that will sadly get her blood rushing, but, as long as Sakura questions what her love actually means in the end, then it'll be worth it.

Ino slightly puckers her lips and pecks Sakura's soft skin cushions, pressing in a bit and enjoying the warmth of them. Noting Sakura's face is nearly the same, Ino presses her affection more wholly across her former friend's lips, clipping Sakura's spongy pink flesh so Ino can suck and pull a bit. The disguised Yamanaka pulls and kisses Sakura's lips trying to coax more reaction from the girl. For several minutes, none is forthcoming, but Ino's patient.

Slowly, Ino lowers herself on top of Sakura's supple twin mounds as she's kissing and licking Sakura's lips. Weight pinning the pink-haired beauty, Ino shuffles forward, drawing delicious friction against the girl below her. Being pressed so fully against someone who's soft and warm felt pleasantly inviting and Ino slowly moves her warm weight up and down Sakura's warm softness. The pinkette's breath hitches and her mouth opens a bit, to which Ino quickly takes advantage, sliding her saliva-covered tongue inside the moaning girls mouth.

Ino moans into hot swirling saliva because she mentally admits, 'kissing her feels good,' igniting not only a warm tingling sensation between her legs, but her memories of a certain blond boy who repeatedly brought her to mind-erupting pleasure. At the recollection of feeling him fully inside her, pumping hot semen into her depths, her inner thighs quiver against Sakura waist.

Ino's efforts are rewarded when she feels Sakura's nipple harden to stiff points poking at Ino-Naruto's chest. She continues her down-pressing grinding when she feels Sakura open her mouth further. Though she should feel happy with the progress, her thoughts weren't about how easy or successful her plan appears. It was about furthering the sensation that's beginning to be all that mattered. She sinks her hands into Sakura's mellow pink tresses and tilts her head to have more access to Sakura's warm mouth. Moaning in delight, Sakura cups her jaw and returns the heated kiss with more energy until they both needed to break apart for air.

Sakura slowly opens her eyes and is immediately disturbed to see Naruto over her. She looks away and Ino swears the pinkette is going to cry. Sakura does cry and Ino dispels the disguise. Despite feeling hot between her legs, Ino shuts off the light and goes to bed with Sakura lightly whimpering beside her. If not for her own growing arousal, Ino felt this was a good first step.

'Only twenty-nine more days to go,' Ino mentally states, dreading the break down of her own will. She doesn't want to have sex with Naruto again—it scares her sanity to think about. Knowing he can give her the total satisfaction her body craves for, how many more nights with Sakura is going to leave her hot and aching for mind-numbing relief? How many more nights can she endure before she's knocking on his door? How many more nights before she's begging him to mercilessly scratch the itch away? Ino doesn't sleep much that night as she dreads the answers to those questions.

So, I really wanted to highlight how I view Fūinjutsu. This is going to be a substantial portion of Naruto's education moving ahead. On top of that, I've always thought it was weird that whole countries banded together to destroy Uzushiogakure because they feared their power, and Konoha just let that slide, like, "okay, I guess we were too late to help. Lets just move on with our lives." Like really? That's something I'm definitely going to address with my fic.

This chapter was a little slow in terms of activity, but it's set up for the month before the Chūnin exam. Lots of stuff will happen with my characters and I want it all to make as much sense as I can relay.

Thanks again, and have a great one,

-Grae

PS. This is something I want to mention for Sakura's character in response to some positive criticism. I, as the author of this fic, am using the canon-Sakura. I understand she can be difficult sometimes-trust me, I do. I'm not a big fan of a lot of her decisions or her train of thought... but I've only just started working on the Sakura within my fic. Ino has a plan and we'll slowly get there. All I ask is you give me the time to properly blow her psyche to kingdom come before I pick up the pieces and make something I think is bad-ass. If you all don't like her after she goes through her crucible, that's cool. I hope you find a better fic to read. I don't like useless characters or useless arcs, so if you have faith in me, great, I'll endeavor to do a Russo brothers instead of a David Benioff and DB Weiss, and not let you down.

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