Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or any of its characters.

Behind The Smile Chapter 2

As a single parent, Yamanaka Inoichi knew the many wonders and tragedies that come with raising a girl. And having a whirlwind as a daughter didn't temper the ride in any way. He had seen her gain, fight, and make up with friends. He had seen her heartbroken over losers that thought they were good enough for his little girl. He had seen her work her way through the triumphs and failures that come with being a shinobi. He had seen her master many of their family techniques. He had seen her come home in a daze after her first kill.

Yamanaka Inoichi knew his daughter as well as any parent could know their child. Him being a member for the T&I Division and her being a chatterbox had made knowing her that much easier.

So when he came home late from work, nearly three in the morning, imagine his confusion to seeing his only daughter sitting on their couch in the dark hugging her knees to her chest. THIS was an Ino he wasn't familiar with. When she was heartbroken, she would binge-eat ice cream then complain how it was going to make her fat. When she was angry, she would rant and scream until the issue was resolved or she beat the poor bastard into the ground. When she was melancholy, she would take an extra-long soak in the tub and then read cheesy romance novels until the sun came up. Never in the sixteen years of raising her had Inoichi seen his daughter sitting in a fetal position with tears silently running down her cheeks, not saying a word and merely staring off into space.

"Ino, what happened?" he asked as he dropped his things on the ground and went to sit beside her.

Nothing. It looked as if she hadn't even heard him. Now he was worried.

"Ino," he gently turned her head to look at him. He gasped lightly as he saw the dead look in her eyes. She seemed…broken.

"What happened, Ino?"

She seemed to barely register that he was there now, a look of recognition flashing in her dazed gaze. She opened her mouth slightly only to close it with a snap. She shook her head as much as she could with his hand still keeping her facing him.

"Ino-"

"It wasn't real."

"What?" Inoichi was confused. Real?

"I shouldn't have looked." Her dazed look turned to slight panic mixed with grief as her voice slowly rose in pitch, "I shouldn't have looked! I had no right! Why did I look? Why!?"

Instant comprehension filled him. "Ino, who's mind did you enter? What did you see?"

"I shouldn't have looked. So much pain. But it wasn't real. It can't be real." She no longer seemed to remember that he was sitting right next to her. His worry was quickly escalating. There were many drawbacks to their jutsu. They could gain vast knowledge from entering another's mind, but sometimes it came with a drastic cost. It could feel as though you lived the other person's life, good or bad. It took a lot of training and mental restraint in order to compartmentalize the baggage that you gain from another's memories.

"Monsters. All of them. I'm surrounded by monsters. I thought they were nice. How could he see them as human?

"Ino, please, sweetheart. Who is he? What did you see?"

"Oh, Kami," a look of horror etched itself onto her face, "I was one of them! I never helped! I said all those things! I never knew!" She just shook her head, clenching it in both hands as she pulled out of his grip. "He said it wasn't real. It's not real. I shouldn't have looked. I shouldn't have looked." She kept repeating that same phrase. He couldn't get her to respond or move. This was bad. At this rate, her mind was going to break.

He made a kage bunshin and had it stay with her to make sure that she wouldn't do anything drastic. He quickly made his way back out of the house as fast as he could. He knew that she had seen Sakura for a sparring match earlier that day. And he was going to find out what exactly happened to his little girl.

Naruto ran a hand down his face as he failed to ignore the incessant pounding on his front door. He heaved a sigh and forced himself from his bed. In all honesty, he had hoped that they would just go away if he ignored them long enough. Obviously that didn't work. All well, he hadn't been able to fall asleep anyway. Today was just one hell of a roller coaster.

Opening the door, he came face to face with Yamanaka Inoichi. He wasn't really all too surprised to see him. He should have known that Ino wouldn't be able to keep what happened to herself. Sighing again he stepped away from the doorway and motioned for the older man to come in.

"I guess Ino told you." Naruto said in a rare monotone, arms folded as he leaned against the now-closed front door.

"No, actually. That's why I'm here."

Naruto raised a brow at the vague answer.

"I asked Sakura what happened during your training session today. She seemed just as confused as I am. What happened, Uzumaki?"

Naruto huffed a bit and sat down on his chair, motioning for the older man to take a seat on the couch.

"I'll tell you what I told her teammate, she saw something that she shouldn't have."

Inoichi pursed his lips in agitated thought. "You don't need to tell me the details Uzumaki, but you will give me a vague idea as to what my daughter saw."

Naruto straightened a bit in his seat, "She really didn't tell you?"

Inoichi paused before sighing and slouching in defeat into the couch, "Her mind is breaking," he glanced at the boy across from him, "Whatever she saw is making her lose herself. That's why I'm here. I need your help."

"Breaking? What do you mean her mind's breaking?"

"She's starting to go into hysteria. If I can't pinpoint the trigger or have her somehow re-stabilize herself with the real world, she could have a psychotic break."

Naruto's face took on a serious edge as he contemplated how to phrase it without giving too much of what happened away, "You know what I am, Yamanaka-san. You know how Jinchuuriki are treated. Hell, you broke up one of the mobs before when I was a kid."

Inoichi's eyebrows rose at that.

Naruto scoffed a bit, "Don't give me that look. Of course I remember that. You stopped them. Back then, I remembered anyone that showed any form of kindness."

Inoichi nodded in acceptance, "So she saw some of how you were treated as a kid then?"

Naruto nodded and looked away, "Is that all?"

Inoichi hesitated briefly, "Now that I know about what happened, I'll need your help even more."

"With what exactly?"

"…as I stated earlier, Ino's mind is starting to become unstable. She keeps saying that she shouldn't have looked and that she's surrounded by monsters," Inoichi paused to gauge the boy's reaction, "I need you to talk with her."

"And what could I possibly say?"

"Try to get her to focus on something else. I would do it, but I'm not sure exactly what she saw. And going through her memories myself right now would possibly just do more damage. Plus, I don't think you want me seeing whatever it was she saw as well."

Naruto nodded slowly. That wouldn't be good. One person knowing was bad enough.

"Fine, let me get changed first."

Inoichi gave a small grateful smile, "Thank you."

Less than ten minutes later, Naruto found himself standing in the Yamanaka's living room. Upon arrival, Inoichi dispersed his clone and made himself scarce, saying that he would be back in an hour. Naruto looked down to see Ino on the couch, her hands grasping fistfuls of her long hair and streams of tears trickling down her cheeks. In all the years that he had known her, he had never seen her this unkempt. It was…odd. And quite disconcerting.

Ino was always brash and bold. To see her like this…now he knew why her dad was worried.

With a sigh, he crouched in front of her and looked her in the eyes, "Ino. What are you doing? I told you to forget what happened, not obsess to the point of breaking."

Ino's eyes came to life at the sound of his voice. Now it looked as if she were looking at him rather than through him.

"Naruto?"

He nodded and opened his mouth to speak but was cut off by a blur of blonde launching at him, knocking him down onto the floor. Mildly disoriented, he looked down a bit to see Ino hugging him.

"I'm so sorry, Naruto. I'm so sorry! I started thinking about what horrible human beings those people were, and then I realized that I was one of those people and that I said terrible things to you for years and I realize now that I was wrong and that I was only following what everyone else was doing and I just thought it was ok at the time cause everyone couldn't be wrong but they were and and and…"

"Breathe Ino! Breathe! Geez, you talk a lot." Naruto said, trying to get a smile, or hell, even an angry rant or fist upside the head. Something other than tears.

She took a deep breath and let it out slowly, then looked him in the eye, "I'm sorry. Is there any way you can forgive me?"

Naruto gave a lopsided grin, "I never thought you needed to be forgiven for anything Ino. You're my friend. I couldn't be mad at you for something like some teasing as kids."

She huffed out a semblance of a laugh and extracted herself from the somewhat awkward hug, leaning back so that her back was against the couch, "How do you do that?" At the confused look she elaborated, "How can you smile like that? It looks so genuine. No one suspected that it was just a mask."

Naruto's grin became a self-deprecating smile as he looked down at the carpet between them, rubbing the back of his head in a nervous habit, "It was more for my own sanity then anything. If I smiled big enough, long enough, eventually even I wouldstart to believe that I wasn't hurting. Eventually, I could forget and just be as clueless as others perceived me. But," Naruto paused and looked at Ino. She was leaning forward ever so slightly, completely focused on what he was saying.

"But…what?" she asked in an almost whisper.

A small yet genuine smile crossed his face, "But…after a while, I stopped having to fake the smiles as often. Little by little, I gained people precious to me that made those smiles come naturally."

Naruto reached out and gently rubbed away some of her tears with his thumb, "You are one of those people Ino. You don't need to be sorry for anything because you and so many others helped me feel human." He retracted his hand and watched as Ino straightened.

She rubbed the last remnants of liquid from her face and started to giggle, "Man, I must look like shit right now."

"Yeah, you kind of do."

Ino gasped in fake indignation and playfully shoved the other blond as both started to chuckle lightly. As the laughter died down, Ino shifted slightly to get more comfortable.

"…I'm never going to be able to look at those people the same way, am I?"

"…Probably not. But Ino, you can't act any differently. Having others ask questions about it wouldn't be good."

"Yeah," she whispered, "I know. I'm still surprised that you're such a good actor."

Naruto chuckled a bit, "I guess you're right. I am pretty good aren't I?"

"Naruto…you know…now that I know more about the real you…if you want…maybe we can get together sometime?"

Naruto looked at her skeptically, "Are you…asking me out?"

"What!? No! Not that there's anything wrong with you, but you're really not my type."

Naruto, relieved at her admission, grinned lightheartedly, "I don't know…you do seem to go for the guys with darker pasts."

Ino waved her hand to dismiss that thought pattern, "Try dark hair and eyes. Something about that really draws me in."

"So, like Sai then?" he stated, enjoying teasing her for once.

Ino's face lit up with a blush as she quickly changed the subject back to her previous train of thought, "What I meant earlier was that we could hang out, as friends. And if you ever needed to talk to someone, I'm a good listener. I swear on my honor as a kunoichi that whatever you tell me won't become public knowledge."

Naruto nodded as he stood, holding his hand out to help her up as well, "I'd like that. Thank you Ino."

A spark of mischief entered her eyes as she started to examine him a bit, putting him instantly on edge.

"What?"

"You know, speaking of asking someone out, I could probably help you with your love life a bit. Give some dating advice and whatnot."

Naruto relaxed and put his hands behind his head, "You do know that I don't have feelings for Sakura-chan anymore right?"

"Oh, I wasn't talking about Forehead," the devious gleam became stronger as the statement threw him off a bit.

"What?" he squeaked out.

"What do you think of Hinata?"

The instantaneous blush darkening his features could have rivaled the Hyuuga heiress herself.

Pausing outside the front door with his hand on the doorknob, Inoichi smiled to himself as he heard laughter coming from inside. It seemed his little girl was going to be ok. The father turned around and decided to let the two finish whatever discussion they were having. Now that she was out of danger, Inoichi was just glad to see his daughter gain a new friend.

Well, I ended up making this a two-shot. It really is ending here this time lol. I never intended for Ino and Naruto to become a couple formed through tragedy, just close friends. So I'm sorry for those that shipped the two of them together. I hope that the second chapter lived up to the first! Please let me know what you think! Thank you for reading :D