Foxhound Chapter 2: Part 7
Ino opened the door quietly, just in case the Hokage was still in the room. Peeking her head in, she was surprised to see a dark figure turned away from her. The sun had set while she was getting dinner and no one had bothered to turn the lights on in the room yet. Because of the shadow, she couldn’t make out who it was, but the person was definitely smaller than Tsunade. Whoever it was, they were standing next to the bed muttering something over and over.
Remembering what Kakashi had said about people being after Naruto, Ino eased her way into the room and shut door behind her. The well oiled hinges and latch didn’t make a sound and the person appeared to be too distracted to have noticed the brief glare of light from the hall. The genin inched her way forward as her hand went to the slim kunai she kept hidden in the bandages on her right thigh. You never could be too careful in a ninja village, after all…
As Ino got closer, the figure’s muttering became clearer and clearer. It was still hard to make out though and for all she knew it was some sort of bizarre jutsu. She was leaning up to grab the slim figure in a chokehold from behind when she finally caught part of what they were saying.
“…Stupid dobe… Stupid dumb-ass… Can’t believe you… What’ll you do now…? Dumb moron…”
Ino blinked. Her eyes were adjusting enough that she could finally make out the white circle on the back of the figure’s outfit.
“Sakura?” There was a sharp gasp as the person whirled around.
“Ino?” The genin in question frowned. Something was funny about the way Sakura was speaking. The chuunin’s voice was lower and scratchier than normal. Her hand tightened on the kunai, still not sure if it was really her friend standing there. It could be an assassin using a henge to sneak in here. If that was the case, then what the hell did they do to the real Sakura? Even if the two kunoichi fought like alley-cats half the time, if someone hurt her pale friend…
“Yeah, it’s me. Why the hell are you standing in the dark? And why is your voi- OOF!!”
The kunai skittered across the floor as a forceful impact knocked Ino onto her ass. In the twilight dark of the room, it was hard to make out her attacker. Ino tried to get to her feet, only to realize an odd weight was pinning her to the floor. Panic swept through her, the cold adrenaline heightening her senses even as her nerves screamed at her to run.
‘Nin-jutsu? Gen-jutsu? What the hell did they do to me?’ The genin frantically thought.
A hitching sound, halfway between a sob and a sniffle broke through Ino’s haze of fear. As she took better stock of her surroundings, she realized the weight on her was warm, soft, and smelled of cherry blossoms. Carefully, she moved her arms and wrapped them around what turned out to be a near-hysterical Sakura who was lying most of the way on top of her and sobbing into her chest.
‘Dammit, you ditz. I nearly cut your throat open and you almost gave me a heart attack. If you weren’t so upset I’d whack you on the head.’
Ino allowed herself to relax and forced her heart rate down. Slowly, she managed to tug the crying medic up and over to the more comfortable couch, as her ass wasn’t appreciating resting on the cold floor. She grimly noted that she’d have quite the colorful bruise there tomorrow from all the trauma her posterior had received that day (‘Stupid giant toads and stupid crying kunoichi who stand around in the dark.’) Sakura hadn’t released her hold once and only burrowed deeper into her friend’s chest when Ino got them on the couch. It took the genin almost fifteen minutes, but she was able to calm Sakura down enough for her to tell her what happened.
Sakura had avoided visiting Naruto’s room until the end of her shift just to spite Ino. When she’d finally walked up to the room, she’d paused with her hand on the door handle when she heard the Hokage speaking from inside. She’d used her excellent chakra control to hide her aura and listen in undetected. Fortunately, the ninjas inside the room were too occupied to notice the brief flicker from outside the room. She’d listened with growing horror as Tsunade listed Naruto’s injuries and described his crippled healing factor. She’d been quite impressed when they talked about Naruto’s mastery of an A Rank jutsu, but that didn’t surprise her much as he was always off somewhere learning something new. When the Godaime asked the other ninjas to leave, she’d moved quickly down the hall and into a nearby room to avoid being caught in the act of eavesdropping.
As luck or fate would have it, she’d picked a room that was nearby the bench Kakashi picked to sit on. She’d listened in on their conversation with Shizune as the older medic described Naruto and Tsunade’s relationship. It hadn’t really occurred to her until then, but she’d noticed before that Tsunade kept a framed picture of herself, Jiraiya, Shizune, and Naruto on her desk, presumably from the trip to bring the wayward Slug Sannin back to the Leaf. Sakura had spent the next hour waiting for the Hokage to leave Naruto’s room and berating herself on her earlier actions. When Tsunade finally left the room to terrorize the entire nursing staff of the floor about their conduct, Sakura had snuck in and checked Naruto out for herself. She’d managed to ignore the sight of him covered in bandages, but she’d only gotten halfway through a diagnostic jutsu before the results caused her to breakdown. She had no idea how long she’d been standing there until Ino came in.
Sakura finished her story and trailed off, relieved that her friend was there to listen to her and wasn’t as angry as she’s been earlier. She’d loosened her hold a bit, but she refused to let go completely. Ino sighed and ran her hands through Sakura’s hair, internally grumbling about pink-haired teases who innocently flaunted how good their hair smelled to girls that used to have crushes on them. She wasn’t really upset though. In all honesty, just about all her anger towards Sakura from earlier that day had disappeared when she saw how upset the medic was over her former comrade.
“Silly… If you’d listened to me before, you wouldn’t be so upset now. Now look at how much you’ve gotten yourself worked up,” The blonde gently said. Sakura leaned back to stare up at her for a full five seconds before her face crumpled and she started crying again, while burying her face in her rival’s shoulder. Ino smacked her own forehead with her free hand and sighed, before trying to calm Sakura down again.
‘Smooth, Yamanaka, real smooth.’
It was going to be a long night.