There was a pregnant pause as Ino's thought process screeched to a stop "What?" she exploded
"She said she was ok with it?" Naruto repeated a little put off by Ino's reaction but refusing to be deterred as he smiled "So let's go."
Ino opened her mouth to protest, there was no way any girl would willingly let her boyfriend see someone else was there? Maybe Hinata liked girls too... she scrapped that train of thought quickly, no she was far too proper to be like that... so then why? It just didn't make sense, she knew the girl was meek, and rather lacking in backbone, but in this case at least she must've been able to put her foot down. Still... she shouldn't be looking a gift horse in the mouth "Ok then." she nodded her agreement pushing herself from the bed "Where to?" she asked curious as to what Naruto's plan for their date was, she had been expecting a ramen binge by what she knew of him but unless that lunch bag of his was filled with the stuff it didn't seem as likely any more.
Naruto laughed softly and grinned "Secret!" he chanted playfully offering his hand to the other blonde "Come on, let's get out of here." his tone made no secret of his distaste for the hospital.
Ino nodded gently taking Naruto's hand, a small flush appearing on her cheeks, she'd never realised how big his hands where until his large palm easily encircled her smaller dainty one, or how smooth. She frowned softly running her fingers lightly across his palm, the sensation sending pleasant tingle down Naruto's spine, it was too smooth, he was a shinobi he should have at least some callouses in his hands, heck even she did! But, nothing, his hands where smooth as a baby's. She never thought she'd ever be jealous of a man's hands, let alone Naruto's...
Oblivious, as usual, to Ino's internal monologue Naruto lead the girl out of the hospital, pausing only to suck in a deep lungful of the fresh, unsterilised, air "Come on." he chirped happily.
Ino nodded letting Naruto lead her through the town, getting increasingly curious as to where they were heading but knowing she would be unlikely to pry a worthwhile answer from Naruto before they arrived. She hoped it would be somewhere in the village centre where most of her classmates would likely be, she really wanted to show them that she had won, she had taken Naruto out from under them, barring the whole Hinata situation but she was sure after this date it would be quickly resolved, Naruto would leave Hinata to be hers and she would prove herself as the top girl in the class. But what if Naruto didn't want to break up with Hinata? The thought drifted unbidden into her mind, would making him break up with the Hyuuga heiress make him sad? She didn't want to make Naruto-kun sad after all... she shook her head. Where the hell did that thought come from, she really didn't mind pressing him into a decision, she had no desire to share him at all!
Still blissfully oblivious to Ino's thoughts Naruto lead her the more open, but longer, route through town to the destination he had in mind, he didn't really think she would appreciate the quicker route that snaked through the gardens and back alleyways that Naruto knew on an almost instinctual level.
Ino grinned as her eyes caught some of her classmates sitting at a café just a little ahead of them her face lighting up as she got a chance to show off her victory she pressed herself against Naruto, moulding her body to his side and wrapping an arm around his waist. Her face lightning up softly as she realised the intimate position didn't feel wrong at all, in fact it felt so right and somehow... familiar? But that was impossible. Mentally shaking off the odd feeling she smirked broadly as the small gaggle of girls noticed them, basking in the jealous glares she received, ah it was good to be the queen!
Naruto blushed as he felt Ino press herself against him glancing down at her, somewhat galvanised to the feeling of a soft feminine form pressing against him from his multiple sessions with Kyuubi a soft flush spread across his face but he didn't freak out as he might once have. "What are you doing?" he asked curious, his tone carefully neutral, if he sounded like he was enjoying it, which he was, then he might come off as a pervert but likewise he knew sounding like he was annoyed by a female's closeness was just as, if not more, dangerous than being called out as a pervert.
Ino looked up at Naruto as he talked her face heating up further as she met his curious eyes "Ummm, I was.. I mean I.." she stuttered searching for an answer "I just wanted to be closer to you." she finally spoke softly, the words springing into her scrambled mind from seemingly nowhere, surprised by just how much she seemed to believe her own words, being closer to Naruto defiantly seemed like a good thing and, just for a moment, suddenly what the other girl's thought didn't matter to Ino she just wanted to show Naruto how much he meant to her.
Naruto smiled softly, those had been the exact same words Kyuubi-chan had used when they had walked like this through the forest of his mindscape, and nodded pulling Ino closer still "You should have said." his smile grew as he wormed his arm around her waist and held her flush against himself, by now the couple was getting quite a few stares from the people they passed in the street but Naruto was so used to glares that he really didn't notice them, happy as he was he barely even registered the multitudes of eyes locked onto the couple as the meandered down the high street.
Ino, however, was not so jaded to glares and stares. Oh sure she was used to them, fond of them even, being an outgoing, popular, girl almost every facet of her behaviour had been tailored to garner attention. Whether it be the longing stares of boys who wanted her, the jealous stares of girls lower down the pecking order of herself, or the loving gaze of a boyfriend she had thrived on attention throughout her school life but these were different, the gazes of the villagers sent shivers down her spine. The stares directed at the couple were different to the jealous stares she had thoroughly enjoyed getting from her classmates, instead people were looking with an odd mix bag of emotions in their eyes. Some looked on with pity or fear, as though Naruto were diseased or she were a hostage, others, anger, as though the couple were somehow offending them by their very existence, such anger she would expect from her parents, who were always overprotective, or some of her classmates, who would definitely resent her getting to the new trophy boy first. But from strangers who'd never met either of them, it just made no sense as she mused on the issue a strong lance of alien guilt struck her, it lasted for but a brief moment but left an ache in her heart that would last of hours.
Naruto glanced over as he felt Ino stumble slightly in her step "You ok?" he asked worried as he scanned the floor for anything that she might have tripped over but finding nothing.
Ino took a deep, steadying, breath before nodding "Yeah, I'm fine." she replied slowly as she tried to work out where that intense sudden guilt had come from.
Naruto nodded glancing around to try and spot any reason for her stumbling, his gaze locking onto a small group of men who were glaring at them for the first time since getting Ino out of the hospital he became consciously aware of the number of glares he and Ino were getting. Cursing his own stupidity he sped up their walking pace, how the hell hard he forgotten about the damn villagers! He was used to it but Ino definitely wasn't that was why she had stumbled, she just wasn't able to shrug off the angry glares of the stupid civilians. Not for the first time Naruto felt a spike of rage towards the ignorant masses however he slowly counted to ten inside his head pushing his rage down and locking it away in the back of his mind, where it belonged, sure Mind-walker-san had said something about repressed anger being unhealthy but Naruto hadn't seen any bad affects so far, maybe being a jinchuuriki helped him in that regard as well he silently mused.
Ino gave Naruto a confused look as he suddenly sped up, not enough to leave her behind or make her jog but enough to be noticeable, and changed direction. Noticing her confused look Naruto gave a slightly melancholy smile "Sorry I didn't think about the villagers, we'll take the back route so they don't ruin our date further."
Ino frowned "Sorry? You're speaking like it's your fault, like you're used to it." she accused pausing as her, rather patchy, memories of the night before finally kicked in "The Kyuubi." she whispered answering her own question. Up in the rooftops above the couple the ANBU assigned to watch them shifted prepared to swoop in if there were any signs of Ino either relapsing or falling under any kind of control. Sarutobi might have been getting on but his mind hadn't completely gone yet and he was more than aware of the threat Ino represented, having been in direct contact with the great fox, he was, however, trying to avoid preventing the two teenagers from interacting not wanting to do anything to rile Naruto up too badly so soon after dropping the CRA on him. The boy had great potential but he was unpredictable and already had too many reasons to dislike the village for the old Hokage's comfort, he just couldn't risk falling on the boy's bad side as well lest he sever the last real, concrete, bond the boy had to Konoha.
Naruto winced softly at the fear with which Ino had spoken Kyuubi-chan's name, he really needed to figure out a way to get away from his ANBU shadows so he could explain the full situation to at least Hinata, if not Ino too. "Yes." he admitted softly "Kyuubi." he bit his tongue to stop the chan flowing out automatically and gave Ino a sad smile "I'm sorry I forgot how they'd react if I walked with you in public." they were now leaving the village by one of the smaller side gates and heading out into the forest.
"Where are we going?" Ino felt the urge to ask as they left the beaten path, Naruto leading her on a weaving route that threaded around the dense foliage of the forest that gave Konoha it's name.
Naruto chuckled softly "Aww come on" he teased "Not long now, surely you can wait a little longer." he smirked feeling a lot better now there were no villagers to ruin things for them.
Ino rolled her eyes but giggled softly glad to leave the depressing conversation behind them, although she did have loads of questions for Naruto especially to do with.. those... memories... she shuddered visibly as she recalled those horrible moments glancing at Naruto, running her eyes over his body looking for the scars the medical course of the Shinobi Academy told her he should have. However despite the questions she was silent as the rest of the walk was in a soft companionable silence.
"Here we are." Naruto announced proudly as they walked into the clearing "I only really knew that you liked flowers." he chuckled
Ino gawked softly as she looked out over the clearing, a few small trees dotted the area but largely the open patch was dominated by low grass and wild-flowers of all shapes and sizes. The shinobi in her guessed the clearing had probably been made by some high level jutsu years ago even as the rest of her took in the rainbow of colours provided by the flowers "It's beautiful." she muttered softly, awed, she had no idea a place like this even existed
Naruto smiled warmly as he sat down on the edge of the clearing, not really knowing how she'd react if he were to trample any of the delicate blossoms that covered the ground here, "Sit, you must be hungry." he chuckled "And even if you're not, I am." he added with a grin.
Ino giggled softly and smiled as she sat down her face gently flushed, she really had no idea Naruto could be so... well romantic, she'd had him pegged as an idiot, a loud-mouth, yet since she'd decided to look at him more seriously he'd managed to shatter everything she'd thought she'd known about him. Although, she admitted, as she watched Naruto pour a huge variety of food from his bag, he could still act a little stupid from time to time.
Naruto saw Ino eyeing the pile of miscellaneous food incredulously and chuckled bashfully, rubbing the back of his head, "Umm I didn't know what you liked, so I got a bit of everything." he explained "So just take what you like."
Ino palmed her face softly to hide her grin, this was more what she had expected from a date with Naruto, a sweet but idiotic gesture "Why didn't you just ask?" she sighed exasperated even as she silently enjoyed the knowledge that Naruto had gone so far for her
"That would have ruined the surprise." Naruto answered simply, that and he hadn't know he was going to go on a date till the night before but what little tact Kyuubi and Hinata had managed to beat into him was screaming at the rest of his brain not to mention that particular fact.
Ino nodded, although she couldn't quite believe that, she knew that Naruto could be sneaky when he wanted to be, honestly it had taken quite a lot for him to prove that given his usual loud-mouthed behaviour in class but since seeing their classmate but the village ANBU through their paces or prank a Jōnin every one of his classmates had, however bitterly, to concede Naruto could be sneaky. She was certain he could have easily discovered her favourite food was, oddly, Taiyaki if he had tried, but she decided not to bring it up, after all this date had to go well if she was to steal him from Hinata, not that she really thought it would be too hard to do so, Hinata was just so.. plain. Picking through the food, and it seemed he really had gotten one of everything in the store, she was slightly disappointed to not find any of her beloved Taiyaki amongst the selection however she did find some rolls that had the same red bean paste of her favourite dish as a filling and that, she supposed, would do for now, Picking those out, along with a sandwich, she opened up the food and began eating. She did feel a little bad for eating so little when Naruto had clearly spent a good amount of money on the pile of food but she was on a diet and needed to watch her figure.
Naruto, however, was far less reserved as he picked out a good quantity of food smiling at Ino as he dug in, eating with more manners than the other blonde had expected of the boy, "So Ino, what's your favourite flower?" he asked as he ate
Ino was quite surprised by the honest sincerity in his voice, he seemed honestly curious, like he really did want to know about her rather than just attempting to make conversation. Yet somehow, on another level, she was unsurprised by this some, small, part of her felt almost insulted that she'd thought so little of Naruto. "I guess the Blue Dawn Flower." she answered after a moment of thought
"What does it look like?" Naruto prompted curious, he'd never heard of such a flower but took a mental note to keep an eye out for one
"They have big flowers, bright blue, almost violet in colour. The blue background is split into five sections by lines of purple that radiate out from the centre." Ino explained with a small smile "They look so pretty. Especially in groups."
Naruto nodded with a small chuckle "Wow, you know a lot about flowers don't you. I've never even heard of that flower." he admitted
Ino blushed faintly under his praise, sure she'd been praised before, by boys a lot prettier, at least in her opinion, than Naruto too, but Naruto's praise held such sincerity in really struck her, and being praised for her knowledge of flowers outside of work or her parents was definitely new to her, most of the praise had been, predictably, very physical in nature "Thanks." she smiled warmly finding herself scooting closer to Naruto, resting her head on his shoulder this time the enjoyment of his closeness seemed somehow more her own than it had before.
Sorry for the long wait I was on holiday, don't think I'm backsliding I hope not to stop writing for very long periods of time again =p In case your wondering, yes the Blue Dawn Flower is a real flower, feel free to google it to get a good image of one.