I do not own Naruto, this is purely fan fiction, the concept is not canon and all views expressed are entirely my own unrelated to the manga and Anime x3

Ino had known for a very long time that anything she did would never be enough to get what she truly wanted. She had respected, feared and loved Sakura's flair, beauty, strength and intelligence in secret, but now as she sat alone in her room, realised it truly wasn't enough to just watch. She had trained hard for every day she was given with her Sensei, chasing and advancing on Sakura's skills. But it still was just not enough. As she trained harder so too did Sakura aiming higher and higher each day and Ino was beginning to lose sight of why that happened. Ino knew what Sakura had that she didn't, Sakura had Naruto and Sasuke and would strive each day to protect and rescue them both.

Ino adored her partners, at first they were just simple annoyances, obstructions in her path towards Sasuke, towards Love. In time she realised this was not the case, they did not obstruct her path because what she was aiming for was a lie. Was the reason she had hated to admit it because she just didn't want Sakura to beat her yet again? Or was it because she refused to let go of the one thing she had always clung too? Either way all Ino knew was that once she had been physically stronger and a more successful kunoichi than her pink haired rival. But time had past and now Sakura was definitely more stronger and useful than Ino.

She'd bitten all her pride in order to get Sakura to ask Tsunade to teach her, but still her abilities were inferior. Ino needed something to strive towards, Sakura continued to get more powerful, she was a goal Ino would never catch unless she tried harder, there was no love for Sasuke left in her heart, and Ino admitted defeat to Sakura in spite of not wanting to disappoint Asuma.

Never let Sakura beat you, in Gen-jutsu or in love.

So far, his dying comments had been redundant, and every day she hated herself for not being able to meet them.

You're reliable take care of Shikamaru and Chouji.

If it was so easy for her to do this, then why did she have trouble finding love? She desperately wanted to stop dwelling on it, afraid of what disappointment could happen should she still be weaker than Sakura even if she found the man of her dreams.

Letting out a soft sigh her pale pink lips parted and she turned her head towards the open window, tucking that one long bang obscuring her face behind her ear. Giving it no more thought she stood up, knowing the priority of the mission she had early the next day was higher than her own emotional problems, they helped take her mind off of them at least.

Helped take her mind off of the guilt and pathetic thoughts that plagued her mind. Sometimes she wished she could implant them in someone else with her ninja talents, realistically of course, this was just never going to be the case.

Dragging herself to bed pausing for a slight moment to glance in the mirror, and proceed to wonder if she truly needed to diet in order to get that which she hoped for, she wondered what type of mission it was she was to be sent out on the following day. She didn't even know who her team members would be, but hoped slightly deliriously that it would be something that could help change her for the better.

"I see." The busty Hokage sniffed disapprovingly and made an irritated tutting noise. Her aide shrank back carefully, knowing all to well Tsunade's frequent changes of temper, and hugging her small pet pig looked on fearfully at the thought of the blonde taking her announce out on her.

Shizune knew all to well the types of things Tsunade liked to impose on her when she was feeling particularly moody. Making a mental note that she would probably regret it later, she cautiously opened her mouth to speak quietly. "What's wrong, Tsunade-San?"

"The elders disagree with my team selection." She snapped back "Interfering weasels. They would prefer for Naruto to stay here and train, so now I'll have to send someone else instead."

"I see." Shizune cowered at the thought of Tsunade finding out she had accidentally blabbed to the elders about this particular mission. "Any person in particular you'd send instead-"

"Tell Sakura to go." She responded hastily, "She gets on with everyone in the team I'm sure her intelligence and strength will be useful, besides it's never a disadvantage to have two medic-nins on one squad and for something like this…"

Shizune gave a hurried nod and backed hastily out of the room. As the door closed, Tsunade picked up the Sake bottle and held it to her lips. Perhaps her decision was a hasty one, but there was just no time for thinking. For this mission Sakura would be more of an asset than anyone else, she had only sent Naruto first because… well… he was Naruto. She just hoped that Ino and Sakura would get along well enough for them to complete this mission with ease. She rarely placed them on such a close knit team because she was too wary of Ino's drive to beat Sakura. Tsunade did not want the girl to endanger the mission by placing striving too hard above the mission priority list.

On the other hand Sakura and Ino complimented each other too well; Sakura could fight with all she had whilst Ino acted as a medic should. If their friendship wasn't so passionate the could make one of the best partnerships in Konoha. Eradicating any more thoughts she curbed them with another swig of Sake.

Ino woke up bleakly the following morning, and automatically proceeded to get herself dressed unusually not in her normal preppy stupor. Aching to start the mission, she got herself ready abnormally quickly, and headed from the bedroom past the room of her still sleeping parents and towards the Yamanaka supply room.

Choosing supplies was always a difficult decision for her but figuring this time she would be used more for her medical abilities she packed lightly and left the house, the first rays of sun not yet shining from behind the mountains.

Hurriedly she made her way to Tsunade's office knowing her Sensei would not be in the brightest of moods so early in the morning.

Surely so Tsunade's brown eyes were encircled with darkish marks remnant from a hard nights drinking. Ino didn't like to think her Master had a drinking problem, in some ways, Ino wished it was easy for her to forget what she wanted to forget. Tsunade snapped at her as she entered the office. "Ino today you're going to be the medic-nin of this team, I had to make some last minute changes to the line up of this squad but… bah!" She banged her hand on the desk.

Ino nodded, unlike others she was not as easily afraid of her master after all the training she'd had. That and she too shared the same vicious temper.

There was a knock at the door and Tsunade barked at it. "In!"

Ino turned her blonde head and her cerulean eyes settled on the next people to enter the room. For some reason when she saw the familiar bobbing of pink locks her heart sunk a little. "Good morning Tsunade-Sensei, Ino-Chan!"

Sakura was in a friendly mood as she and a sullen dark haired Sai walked into the room followed by an energetic Lee. Ino grimaced inwardly, she wasn't sure she'd be able to cope with his energies so early in the morning. She desperately hoped they were not to be lead by Gai. Thankfully this was not to be the case, and Ino smiled relieved as Shikamaru Kakashi stepped into the room lazily scratching the back of his head.

Tsunade wasted no time in berating him for being last and for being late. Although Ino personally thought he hadn't been late, she just wanted an excuse to yell at someone. Thinking about it, Ino decided this team was a somewhat strange one, Ino surmised Tsunade had picked them for their abilities, although it was strange for them to be a five man team.

"This mission is so top secret you are lucky it was given to you at all. Normally this would be something I would leave ANBU to deal with but considering the circumstances you're better to deal with this than anyone else…" The Ninja's stayed silent awaiting more news from the Fifth Hokage. She gave a sigh and continued, "I realise this is completely unbelievable but there have been certain reports about Akatsuki wandering around not far from here… the thing is, he's alone, and this is absolutely unlike them, they always operate in pairs. It would be beneficial if there is any truth to this statement, that we detain him and bring him back here. If he's alone it could be that he's been betrayed or on some sort of low key mission… whatever the case I'd prefer you to bring him back alive, however I wish for there to be no casualties, so if you feel like one of you is in danger you're to come back. With only one of them it wouldn't be a problem."

"Do we know which Akatsuki member it is?" Lee asked curiously.

"Yes." Tsunade answered. "He has been confirmed as blonde with a ponytail, leading her to believe it could only be Deidara from Iwagakure."

Sakura's green eyes narrowed. "There were reports he was killed." She muttered. "By none other than… than…"

"Sasuke." Kakashi finished for her, folding his arms over his chest.

"Correct." Tsunade answered. "I've chosen Kakashi to lead you seeing as he has had experience with Deidara's powers before… Ino you are going as a medic ninja, I've chosen Sai to accompany Kakashi for scouting, Lee and Sakura you're to retrain him without harming him drastically, do you all understand?"

"Yes." Came the chorus of reply.

"You leave immediately." She answered. "Dismissed!"

Within five minutes they were standing at the entrance to Konoha village.

Kakashi gathered them into a group to go over plans. "If possible we need to protect both Sakura and Ino, Sai you'll take to guarding Ino at all costs. Lee you will take to guarding Sakura. I know of Deidara's powers he uses bombs."

Ino nodded once, she knew this, she had read up on him, and the rest of the Akatsuki that they had information on. Ino gave a shudder, an awful thought crossed her mind, if Deidara made everyone think he was dead, when in reality he was alive. What of Kakuzu and Hidan? No. Shikamaru had beaten Hidan personally, and she'd seen Kakuzu die with her own two blue eyes. It wasn't true.

Blocking the thought from her head she concentrated on their orders that Kakashi was giving. "Sakura you and Lee are going to wear him down whilst I apprehend him with Sai as my back up. Ino I want you fully concentrating on all matters and going ons and to assist medically if needed. Try now to use your mind techniques they leave you too vulnerable ok everyone?"


"Let's head out." Kakashi answered, remember Sai you're to help me track in the meantime Lee be on guard with both Ino and Sakura."

"Yes Sir!" Lee replied enthusiastically as they began to run from the village jumping up into the trees of the surrounding forest. Ino moved with grace as she moved, launching herself into the air quickly and landing lightly on her toes before springing again. Certainly with more grace than anyone else on the team; though she knew it would come in handy for going about undetected.

They continued moving for at least half an hour without stopping for a break. Lee and Sakura were talking but Ino was too busy concentrating too hard to hear clearly what they were saying. Kakashi and Sai lead the pack with Lee following up the rear.

Ino thought back on Deidara's profile. Uses his Chakra to manufacture bombs, supposedly blew himself up in an attempt to kill Uchiha Sasuke and lost both arms to Gaara and Kakashi respectively. He was seemingly dangerous, an S-Class missing-nin like most of the Akatsuki, kind of hot though, she shook her head, bad thoughts, he was the enemy after all. He had formerly been partnered with Sasori, the Puppet Master from the Hidden village in the sand.

He together with Sasori kidnapped Gaara… and Deidara beat him alone without Sasori's help… he was dangerous.

"My ink has detected a strong sense of chakra in a north westerly direction, about a kilometre away." Sai suddenly said calmly.

Ino's thoughts lost she followed the other two ninja through the forest quickly. They'd been travelling 45 minutes now and were making good speed. A tingling sensation took of Ino as she realised they were getting closer and now she could sense the high chakra levels omitting from somewhere close by. She followed them, stepping from tree to tree fast and instinctively. It was about to become her second counter with Akatsuki and she was certain it probably wouldn't be the last time.

"We're almost there!" She heard Sakura call.

Sai dropped back next to Ino, his pale face glancing at her. She looked at him and nodded to him, knowing that now he was to stay near her. Lee and Sakura dodged forwards past them and Ino could see the sunlight of a small clearing a little way away. She was surprised to find the chakra was not being masked. She was certain most Akatsuki members would have masked it, why not this time? She hoped it wasn't a trap; she didn't put it past the evil organisation.

Her breathing becoming slightly more rapid she prepared herself for the encounter. The blue sky got wider and within seconds they jumped down from the trees to the ground below. Her eyes raised and she stopped, pausing to move her long bang of hair from her face so she could see clearly.

The blonde in front of her raised his magnificent head, like her, one yellow bang obscuring his right eye. He looked partially amused to see them but not entirely surprised. He lifted a hand up to remove the hat from his head and Ino watched more blonde hair fall loosely about his broad shoulders. She stared intently taking in his looks and arrogant attitude. He stood proudly in front of them an Akatsuki cloak wrapped about him.

He tilted his head to the side, his one visible eye softening at the sight of them all and he cast his gaze upon each and everyone, as his vision lingered on Ino she felt him take all of her in before he moved on to look upon someone else. Eventually he let out an irritated sigh and place the rounded hat back atop his magnificent head.

"I wondered why it was taking you so long, yeah."

Ino's soft lips parted slightly in awe.

A first chapter, I shall try to be vigilant in updating!

Reviews are always lovely but I hope everyone enjoys!