[Before he can so much as utter another syllable, he is hurried along into one of the empty carts.]
[The safety bars are electronically lowered, the seat belts too locking each passenger in place.]
[There is a reason why he does not have much of a fondness for vehicles; it is not fear, but rather, he finds that walking is his most trusted mode of travelling.]
[Resigned, his fingers curl around the bars.]
[Ino, you owe him.]
The cart immediately plummeted downwards on the rail with a stream of screams- some terrified, whilst others, like Ino, absolutely thrilled.
"Waaaaaaaahhhh!" She laughed in delight, waving her arms with the rest of the daredevils, eyes streaming and hair most likely blinding the unfortunate people sat behind her. She flashed Itachi a 100-watt grin, glad to find he wasn’t scared.
He looked quite calm, like he could’ve done the Sunday crossword actually.
At least Ino had enjoyed the ride, whooping with delight as they got off.
She laughed and shook her head.
"That- that was amazing!
Let’s go again!”
In turn, Itachi carefully grasped her hand. While he was not quite one who took to such attractions for pure enjoyment, he could not deny that the structure looked promising enough to pique his curiosity.
It might just be interesting.
"I would’ve thought that that goes without saying," he said, as they approached the ticket booth.
Ino had reluctantly agreed to step in that dirty looking place, not because she had any desire to go in there- but because it would be unfair to deny Itachi when he had gone on the roller coaster and the dodgems with her. She held his hand, squeezing it as they got to the front of the queue and Itachi purchased two pairs of tickets.
At least she had a dance with him to look forward to. She should just focus on that… and not the chill that had suddenly fallen over her.
Didn’t a temperature drop indicate the presence of spirits?
No. She was just being silly.
Ino offered Itachi a smile and headed inside creaking, wooden doors.
"Oh haha, look, cobwebs," she pointed out, rolling her eyes. "I told you, this place is just one big farce."
shintenshin replied to your post:[Pulls him into line for Roller Coaster] “It’s called Oblivion. Sounds cool, doesn’t it?!”"It’s the train cart one that goes upside down," Ino pointed to the cart that was looping into the sky. Screams could be heard.
[His gaze follows the direction indicated. It is at that precise moment that the carts are turned upside down, speed slowing down none along the metal tracks.]
… I see.
Is that… safe?
[Not too far from them, one of the passengers that had gotten off the previous ride not too long ago vomits into the drain.]
Hehe, of course it’s safe!
Are you worried? Maybe it’s time you had fun on a faster ride for a change. I bet this goes faster than a horse and cart!
[Clutches his arm with excitement when she noticed they are first in the queue. Dashes forwards to make sure they get a box in the roller coaster where they can sit together.
The cart steadily crawls forward, they are almost at the top…]
Brace yourself, Itachi-San!
[glances back at her.]
But I’m curious.
[Returns his look and then nods - it wasn’t like her cousin could pop out behind her and make that spider appear in her lip balm, could he?
This was going to be like a walk through a house full of fake things meant to be scary. No ghosts or any of that… supernatural stuff.]
Alright, but you’ve got to dance with me.
|... [comes to a halt in front of what appears to be a derelict building. examines it curiously.] ... What about this one, dear?|
[Stares at what is probably the grimmest attracting in the place- was that a bloodied axe near the door?- and glances at Itachi]
Really? That looks like a Haunted House… those are so fake and boring…
|"Yamanaka, while I'm glad we are able to meet once more, I feel I must bring this to your attention. I'm afraid there is a rather large.... split at the, err... rear of your yukata...."|
"Shodaime-Sama!" Ino gasped, glancing at the first hokage stuffing his face with sweets as he talked with the vendor. He seemed happy to see her until he mentioned that her beautiful, expensive yukata was torn… and at a rather crude place.
Ino was absolutely mortified.
Within seconds, her and the baby had vanished from the event to correct their wardrobe emergency!!
|[Is walking down the row of stalls eating ice cream when he trips and sends the cone spiralling towards Ino]|
Ino was rifling through food stalls for now, whilst Itachi was recovering from the dodgems and rollercoaster trip, purchasing some wagashi for Itachi when an ice cream cone sailed past her. It was a good thing her kunoichi training hadn’t got rusty, as she immediately avoided it (colliding into a stall full of teddy bears - and not the fried flakes in the next stand). Naturally, she wasn’t happy.
"OI! NARUTO! What’s the big idea?!” Ino shrieked.
Glad to be able to converse normally again - at least, the closest to it - and touched that she had actually gone through the trouble of transforming herself into a cat as well, Itachi continued to shower the white feline with affection.
From little kisses and (what he could manage as) hugs, Itachi positively doted on her.
Even though he had not uttered a single word of complaint about it, it really was quite… lonely as a cat— and not to mention unchallenging, dull. Especially in terms of conversation.
Life was indeed much simpler, yes, but at the price of quite a number of things.
He didn’t want to trade any of them.
She giggled inside her mind, meowing with delight at the fuzzy, whiskery feeling of his face close to hers. How cute! Ino thought, pressing the pads of her paws against his. She received his embrace, feeling it odd to get from a cat, but no less genuine.
She flicked her tail and poked his forehead with it before deciding to continue telling him about her day.
“Don’t worry, this jutsu may feel a bit weird at first, like you are in a cave and can only hear random echoes, but it’s just sound and information, travelling through chakra channels instead of air. I guess the headmaster decided to make you and a few others into animals, hm? I saw a goat and an owl hooting by my window… it might have been a student.”
She flexed her forelegs and then bounced to the window ledge, exploring the world in cat vision and then plucked a flower from a rose bush, looking rather pleased that she hadn’t damaged it.
"Whether you are a feline or a fugitive, I still only love you, you know that?”
She pushed the flower to him and nudged his face with her nose.
"I’m sorry it took me so long to realise my soul mate was trapped inside another form. But I don’t really have any special eye techniques. You’ll forgive me, ne?"
Of course he would. Itachi was a forgiving person, after all. She kept the form up for as long as her chakra allowed her (a basic transformation jutsu like this was easy to maintain), considering she was also using the telepathy- but it was worth it to speak to Itachi again.
”Pfft — As if…”
Okay, now Sakura was sure Ino was just poking fun at her. First suggesting that she was a mother, and now attempting to convince her that…Wait.
The fact that Ino said she’d been at Iwakiri for all that time was alarming enough, since Sakura was certain that she’d conversed with her at multiple points during the past three years of her knowledge, but it was her question that caught her attention. Sakura knew there’d been something that seemed a bit different about her friend’s appearance. They’d spent enough time together in the past that the pinkette was familiar with most things about the Yamanaka, and she knew well enough to decipher a certain change in the air about her. Still…—
First love…? Could it be…?
Sakura didn’t know exactly who was here, but she’d already heard that both her teammates from the original Team Seven were here, and automatically she thought, Sasuke-kun. After all, Ino had been the one that liked him first all those years ago. She said she’d been here for nearly three years…Could they have gotten close during that period of time? The blooded pounded dully in her ears.
Forcing a smile, Sakura ventured hesitantly, “Your first love, huh…? Congratulations, Ino. I guess you finally proved you were the better kunoichi.”
Really, she was happy for her. If only her heart didn’t hurt so badly.
Sakura pasted on a plastic smile as she congratulated Ino like she was trying hard not to let wasps slip out through the gaps of her teeth and sting Ino’s face.
The florist blinked and then realisation dawned on her. Sakura had thought first love as in Sasuke. Oh wow…
“You… really?!” Ino facepalmed, trying not to gag at the thought. Her with Sasuke? That combination was as good as a chocolate firewall.
If Sakura thought her six year old crush on some moody little avenger could be given the reverent title of love, then she must think that Ino was pretty stupid. Or a terrible friend. The type who would trample all over her best friend’s heart like that. She blinked then, seized by a terrible pang of sadness because perhaps that was how she came across. Wilful as a princess, selfish and competitive.
“Please. Like I don’t know how many tears you have shed for him,” after all, when Sasuke and Naruto had both left, it had been Ino who had stayed beside Sakura, watching her growth- as well as her faltering smiles.
Don’t cry over him… Ino wanted to say, unable to stand Sakura’s sadness. Her heart rate had started increasing. Sakura’s face was so pitiful…
“I would give up a hundred Sasukes for you.”
It was the truth. Uchiha Sasuke had never been her goal. Of course, she had liked him, been fascinated by his beauty and his talent, but she had never told Sakura about her crush. Sakura had found out on her own and decided to become rivals. Her goal had only ever been, to watch Sakura bloom.
And she had… except that the dark cloud of being separated from her teammates always managed to make that flower wilt.
“Crybaby Sakura, honestly, you really haven’t changed,” Ino poked her forehead, an exasperated smile curving over her lips.
“No. He is not my first love. If we are really going to go by who we fancied first, then I liked Yondaime-Sama,” she began, matter of factly. Ino’d had a poster of him in her room. “But he was a hokage and just legendary (and dead)… so I had to find someone closer. And you’ve got to understand our class didn’t have much choice.”
Ino laughed then, thinking about all their little squabbles and fights, pushing their home-made lunches towards Sasuke, watching him eat quietly through the bushes, cheering for him loudly in class with all the other girls…
“He taught me how beautiful love is. I really did enjoy, the feeling of enjoying life and looking cute for him,” she admitted truthfully. Sakura was smart, she would clearly suspect that Ino had cared more about Sasuke than she pretended to, but Ino did know that whatever she had felt for him, it wasn’t love. “But the way I liked Sasuke-Kun is not at all… the way I like him. Perhaps I’m not making sense…” Ino laughed, rubbing the back of her head. “Ara… how to explain… these feelings…?”
Ino could feel her cheeks heating up as she searched for the words to to make Sakura understand just what and how much she felt for Itachi. And then the florist realised, she didn’t need to. Sakura was her best friend and would understand without any explanations.
"His kind smile and tender heart lasted longer in my mind than his beautiful face. I fell in love with him and confessed. We have been together almost two years but have been friends for much longer."
She held out her hand, the one with the ring on and showed it to Sakura, a bashful smile over her face.
"Things are going well. I’m really happy."
"I didn’t lose to you in ninjutsu or in love- but… I don’t think you lost either.”
Tenten split her chopsticks with a soft clack! and murmured her thanks for the food. Steam rose into her face, carrying with it the delicious aroma of sweet sesame, and she cut up the dumplings with practiced movements, first in half and then again to create quarters. The scent grew stronger and Tenten felt her stomach rumble in response, making it difficult to resist the urge to simply shove her face like Lee did. You’re a lady, she reminded herself stubbornly.
Delicately she rose a segment to her lips, chewing carefully and methodically. She made sure to take her time, so that the food would metabolize faster, and to give herself more time until she had to answer Ino’s question.
"No, it’s not," Tenten replied finally, voice soft and guilt ridden. "It’s only gotten worse. I’m not sure how much you’ve heard, but… I… We’re doing well, as a collective, and we’re making a strong push, but…" She fell silent, lips pressed into a thin line before she sighed and leaned forward onto an elbow, hand lifting so she could splay her fingertips across one side of her forehead and her thumb against her cheekbone. Tenten closed her eyes, horrific images flashing behind them.
But the cost has been too high, she wanted to say. How could she, though? The way Ino’s eyes had sparkled when she’d told her about the village was so heartwarming, and the only reason Tenten was so concerned was because she was being selfish. They were doing well, considering that they were up against impossible odds. Yet all of it was in vain, utterly pointless, to Tenten. She had lost her best friend. And why? Because Naruto froze up.
Maybe they’d sheltered him too much. She couldn’t be mad at him, not considering all he had done, but that one moment had changed Tenten’s life entirely, had flipped it on its axis and left everything jumbled. She couldn’t think straight, had to force herself to eat, and just getting out of bed in the morning had become a chore. It just wasn’t fair, though, for her to go dumping all that on Ino. The girl probably had enough problems.
She sighed again and shook her head, straightening and selecting another piece of dumpling. “You know how it is,” Tenten finished. “War isn’t pretty. I just want us all to be together again, like the old days.”
Although she was happy to see Tenten enjoy her food, the answer she received was something that erased the smile off her face. Her heart sank. So the war wasn’t over then?
Tenten’s eyes looked sad behind the smoke that snaked out from the buns, melting like breath into air.
There is a war that is still going on and I am not there fighting beside my friends… I hope they don’t think I have abandoned them.
The thought that everyone was doing well ‘collectively’ was encouraging, but there was still a drag to Tenten’s usually chipper voice. After a while though, she fell completely silent, dark eyes shrouded with tragedy before they closed completely.
Something terrible had happened. Not just about the sad fate that had met her father and his friend, either… Something so terrible, it couldn’t be put into words. Was Tenten perhaps, feeling like Konoha asked for too much?
Ino placed a hand over Tenten’s and squeezed it.
"Since I’ve came here, I’ve learned, that the village I fought for is not pure and heroic as I first thought. But even knowing that… I would still fight for it. All my friends are there. And… if my Sensei and dad can give their lives for the future generation, then I will happily fight for it. For the future kings of Konoha."
She closed her eyes too, just to control the sudden rush of emotion that had overwhelmed her with the steam from the dumplings as well as the thought of a fatherless Konoha to return to.
I hope Otou-San was not in too much pain, Ino wanted to ask. Her strong, handsome father. He wouldn’t even show pain if he was in it. Even when he got hurt or tired from missions, he’d still let her clamber all over him. Ino had been raised in the swing that was her father’s arms.
I only found out… how gently you raised me, Otou-San, after meeting the people here.
Ino found comfort in running a thumb over Tenten’s calloused hands, worn from handling years of metal and other manner of weapons. Hard working, honest hands. Like her father’s and Itachi’s. People who fought until their very last breath.
"I hope we can be together again. We are already sitting here, under the same sky and eating your favourite food," the florist added with an encouraging sort of smile.
Things weren’t the best, but they would get better. They had the number one, knuckle-headed ninja on their side (and some amazing, glamorous Kage’s and hot-blooded ninja).
"We will definitely win the war. It will be over. Then we’ll make the village even more beautiful than it was."
Ino wanted to promise- but she didn’t think she had the right to, being stuck here at Iwakiri, getting engaged, whilst others gave their lives.