Ino whimpers and shudders as the strange man carelessly pulls her hair free of its ornaments.
The ornaments she chose to go with her mother's necklace.
She leans back, effectively keeping her disgust hidden, as he impatiently snaps the delicate chain of the gold heirloom.
She wore it because it complimented her red kimono.
Behind him, in the shadows, Sakura flashes the high sign. Before the stranger knows what's happening, there's a blade thrust through his neck and the woman beneath him is cool and unblinking as he covers her in his blood.
The blood she wore her kimono to match.
Title: Being Yamanaka Ino
Rating: T (barely)
Ino is a shinobi of Konoha.
More specifically, she’s a kunoichi of Konoha.
More importantly, she’s a woman of Konoha.
But beyond and between all of that, she’s Yamanaka Ino, which isn’t as easy as some might believe. There are laws to follow past those of shinobi (never show your emotions; put the mission first) or kunoichi (while you have no gender on the battlefield, you are your gender undercover) or of woman (you’re unworthy of your lady parts if you can’t control men).
Indeed, there are rules, very strict rules, to being Yamanaka Ino.
She made them up herself.
First of All:
Ino will never be as shallow as she lets people believe she is.
Perhaps it may be said that Ino is hung up on looks, or holier-than-thou, but never let it be said that Ino is anything but a good friend.
A truly shallow person wouldn’t have befriended Sakura; a bad friend wouldn’t have seen beneath Sakura’s mutiny, accepted it, rekindled a two-years-dead friendship.
A truly shallow person wouldn’t care for Chouji like Ino does; Chouji wouldn’t let a bad friend tease him about his weight.
But letting people think is a part of being Ino.
Ino will always take care of her appearance. One can never tell when a show of skin or the act of Beautiful Damsel in Distress will turn the tides of battle in one’s favor.
More than that, guys go for girls who take care of themselves.
Ino wants to be an asset to her family with a celebrated career, but she wants to have her own family some day too. She won’t disgrace herself, her clan, by settling for inferior genes; only the best will settle with a Yamanaka, and the best wouldn’t settle for a lacking woman.
Remember About Letting People Think:
Ino hears things all the time that people say without meaning for her to hear. Indeed, those people would likely jump off a cliff if they suspected Inoichi had heard.
People like to say the Yamanaka family jutsu are cheap tricks.
It’s funny, really, but makes a strange kind of sense. The Akimichi have been mocked for generations for their weight. So if a family that runs, of all things, a flower shop in a shinobi village specializes in non-combat jutsu, it’s to be expected that people will sneer when the Yamanaka turn away.
If Ino can time her Shinten no Jutsu just right, she doesn’t have to see her victims’ faces as they die. It’s tricky- like when Shikamaru breaks Kagemane no Jutsu just before he’d have his head split or insides split- but Ino is, of course, Ino.
It’s certain that her ancestors didn’t develop their family jutsu for this convenience; Ino will bet money that her father doesn’t worry about it. But when Ino finds herself the only one not haunted by the faces of glorified children falling bloody by her hand, she sends a silent thanks for it.
When in public, Inoichi is “Dad” or “Father” or “I’ve never seen the guy before in my life.” Ino, after all, is a young woman now, and not a little girl.
When in public, there’s no hugging, kissing or touching. Even as a child Ino found it embarrassing (unless, of course, she was asking a favor); she took it for granted that her father was there, that her father came home after work, like fish take water for granted.
Whenever one or both of them leaves home, Ino holds her father tight and says, “I love you, Daddy.”
Sakura Never Wins:
Of course there are times when Ino lets Sakura think she’s won; letting people think is part of being Ino. When it comes down to it, however, Ino is always on top.
When Sakura made chuunin first, it was Ino who won.
When two boys openly sought Sakura’s attention at once, it was Ino who won.
Whenever Sakura takes a step, she pushes Ino a step ahead. Sakura wouldn’t be Sakura hadn’t Ino first been Ino. But Sakura needs confidence, lots of it, and remember that being a good friend is another Law of being Ino.
Shikamaru Never Wins:
This is a little trickier because Shikamaru doesn’t owe anything to Ino (other than alleged headaches). More over, this is War of the Sexes. Shikamaru is Typical Lazy Man, but has somehow conditioned himself against the more conventional feminine wiles. Ino is a woman who loves a challenge.
Shikamaru doesn’t have that IQ for nothing (even if there are even more typically male men who think otherwise), and there are times when Ino fears loss.
But even if she loses battles, she knows the war is ultimately hers.
Shikamaru doesn’t even carry shopping bags for Temari.
After getting home from one of those missions, Ino takes an ordinary bath.
It isn’t just that scrubbing is bad for the skin she’s worked so hard to keep up. What Ino does on those missions- those missions that break so many promises- she does out of loyalty to her village.
Even if she has humiliated nightmares for weeks or feels broken and helpless inside, she can assure herself that she need not burn with shame for her actions. Contrarily, she should be proud- even if part of being Ino is horror at losing piece of herself.
Yamanaka Ino is Yamanaka Ino.
Sakura may be Tsunade’s apprentice, Hinata may be Hyuuga heiress, Tenten may have an alias (“Weapons Mistress”? Pft!) and Temari may be jounin, but Ino is Ino.
Shikamaru may be a genius, the first of their generation to be chuunin, Chouji may be the friend everyone wishes for and Asuma may have died a “true shinobi,” but Ino is Ino.
The most sacred Law of Being Yamanaka Ino, a compilation of the others, is perhaps the most ironic (it makes Ino chuckle, anyway):
Yamanaka Ino will never work toward being anyone else.