She hates it when her legs get like this. She'd shaved and moisturized them almost religiously, but they always wound up drying out. She'd tried everything, from milk and oatmeal baths to special lotions. None of it worked.
Not until she found the nicest little lotion on a shelf in an Akimichi-owned apothecary. Now that she's found it, she'll never go back.
The mint-scented cream is cold in her hands, so she lets it sit in her palm a while. It takes a few minutes to warm to her body heat, but once it does, she rubs it along her legs. Gently, she kneads her calves and thighs. There are hints of rosemary and just a faint wisp of lemongrass. It is a crisp, clean smell and the lotion itself is a serene greenish color.
She breathes the scent in deep and sighs as she massages away all the day's worries. Tenten was supposed to be back today and she isn't. Ino knows she has a deeper reason for caring about this fact than she wants to admit, but she tries not to think about it. Tenten isn't her only problem, of course. Shikamaru and Chouji are having an argument. It's a rare enough occurrence, but it's always off-putting when it happens. And, of course, Sakura is pitching a fit over some deal or other at the hospital. Ino would have paid attention, but she had been watching Hinata. Hinata always seemed to know when her cousin would be arriving back in Konoha, and as Neji is Tenten's ANBU squad leader, Hinata had seemed the person to watch.
The shy little thing had given no indication one way or another whether Team Hawk would be returning that day. It had been frustrating in ways Ino hadn't entirely understood.
She sits on the floor of her apartment and stares at her glistening legs. Her mind drifts from one topic to another as she watches the ceiling above her.
Ino's body jerks and she stands up, blue-blue-blue eyes searching the room for the source of the noise. What she finds makes her wonder if she is dreaming.
There is a dragon perched at her window, tapping on the glass windowpane with hilt of a bloodied sword. Ino knows it is bloody because dark splotches reach all the way to the hilt and tassel. There are even dark splotches on the dragon's mask.
If she were holding the bottle of lotion, she would have dropped it. As it is, she just gapes.
The snarling dragon nods.
Numbly, Ino opens her window. Dragon-One crawls inside, tracking blood all over her bed. Ino doesn't say anything.
The ANBU grips her mask in both hands and pulls and suddenly she is Tenten again. Ino has never seen Tenten in a blood-spattered ANBU uniform, and is faintly disturbed by the red-brown splotches all over her swords, gloves, braces, and breastplate. The taijutsu-based kunoichi always seemed so normal and nice, if a little tomboyish.
They became friends over a ruined pink shirt. Ino helped Tenten update her wardrobe. In return, Tenten helped her to improve her weapons' accuracy.
"May I use your shower?"
The question is polite and totally normal, but Tenten's voice is distant and cool. Not at all Tenten.
"Go right ahead. Try and use the white towels so I can just bleach them?"
The other kunoichi nods. It is a curt, dispassionate movement. It makes Ino's stomach clench just looking at it.
She changes her sheets, making a mental note to throw in anything she can to get the bloodstains out, and listens for the sound of the shower to cease. Ino cannot help but smile at the Tenten who steps out of her shower wearing only a white towel. It's fluffy and cute and Tenten isn't some sort of bloody blade goddess anymore.
"Thanks," the older kunoichi murmurs. This time, she sounds like she means it.
"Are you sleeping here tonight?" Ino refuses to think about the meanings inherent in that question. She is being earnest. That's all.
"Would it bother you if I did?"
"Not at all, but I'm already using the spare blankets."
That night, they sleep back to back in Ino's bed. Ino's long blonde hair tangles up in Tenten's. The moonlight bleaches both brown and blonde until they are nigh indistinguishable. Ino spends most of the night stretching her legs and feeling her back scratch along Tenten's.