Disclaimer: I Don't Own Naruto.
Author's Note: Is a slight AU, not an expert in Naruto or Japanese customs please forgive any stupid mistakes. Beta is welcome. Is written in second person…obviously. I know it doesn't suit many people but it's just my preference in writing. Chances are a lot of the 'ninja' stuff I write may be grossly inaccurate and apologise in advance but hey! It's an AU! So let it be…
Summary: "One day you'll understand." You said carefully rolling back the abandoned script. "One day you'll find something worth fighting for; something worth dying for."
Pairing:. Shika/Ino
Reviews: Always welcome!

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It all started when it was revealed that Shikamaru's IQ was over 200. At first the attention pleased you, even if it was only for him. It took a little of the limelight from Sakura's team. Then Shikamaru had gone and got himself upgraded to a chuunin. Then the finger pointing became blatant staring and the hushed whispers transformed into ridiculous rumours.

'They called Itachi a super genius too' one woman whispered loudly to her companion.

'Yes' the companion agreed 'and didn't Orachimaru have an IQ over 200?'

You glared in their general direction while Shikamaru had his hands deep in his pockets, head bowed.

'They say he'll be ANBU before he's 18'

'Bah! I beat he would have destroyed the village before his 16th birthday.'

'I don't know why he's still around. He should be exiled.'

With each successfully completed mission the rumours grew more and more absurd. While the burden on Shikamaru's shoulder weighed heavier.

'He is a spy from the sound village!'

'Didn't you hear? He's Orachimaru's son'

'…Itachi's real brother…'

*

"Why do they say such cruel things sensei? You think they would be pleased to have a super genius among us"

"People fear what they don't understand, Ino, and they hide that fear under anger and hate"

"He used to be like us…"

"I think I see now… why he hid his genius. He saw this coming, the pressure the expectations and …the burden."

"Sensei…"

"I failed him."

*

You're walking home after the short meeting with Asuma-sensei; it had been months since you last saw Shikamaru, four to be exact. Four months, three weeks and 2 days, and every time he returned he would have barely half a day's rest and he would be off again, sent on another mission. He was always specifically named and more money was always offered for his services. They had stopped asking about Sasuke a long time ago. …And still the people of Konoha feared him.

'I hear he wiped out a whole village last night.'

'The whole village?'

'Women, children, the elderly and the wounded.'

'That monster!'

'We'll be next I tell you, now that he has gotten a taste of blood…'

*

/Flashback/

"Clouds are SO boring! Shougi is boring! You are so boring Shikamaru!" You ranted and raved for another good 5 minutes before even you got tired of hearing your own voice. Puffed out and a little tired you sat cross-legged beside him. You think he was the only person who could put up with your incessant whining without threatening bodily harm.

You sat in comfortable silence before you yawned and stretched yourself over his smooth chest, balancing yourself so you too could stare up at the blue sky.

 "Why do you watch the clouds?" you asked squinting against the sun.

You were comforted by the rhythmic rise and fall of his chest and the steady beating of his heart.

"Because it's simple"

"Oh" you'd said, like you knew.

/End Flashback/

*

But you didn't understand it then and you still don't think you understand it now but as you look up into the darkening sky you wander if he still had the time to watch clouds go by anymore.

*

/Flashback/

"All these wars and ceaseless fighting" Shikamaru threw down an old history scroll with disgust, "All this pointless waste of lives and for what? Honour?"

You flinched; he wasn't usually one to show sudden bursts of emotion. You glanced over at Chouji who was conveniently busying himself with a packet of potato chips.

"Shikamaru" you began not sure how to handle the situation. "We're still young, we couldn't possible contemplate the many reasons for war but…"

"Nothing can justify taking the life of another human being" and he pushed back, his chair scraping against the floor, walking over to lean by a windowsill. But it was night and it would be near impossible for him to see his beloved clouds.

"One day you'll understand." You said carefully rolling back the abandoned script. "One day you'll find something worth fighting for; something worth dying for."

"Like what?" his gaze never left the skies

"Like love" you offered and he scoffed

"The greatest thing you can do for love" he paused and sighed pressing his forehead against the cool glass, "is to live for it."

You stare dumbstruck, caught completely off-guard by his words. He then glanced over his shoulder to look at you, his dark eyes piercing through you, and it felt like he could read your every thought. And after what felt like an eternity he turned away, adding almost like an afterthought "Love is so troublesome" 

/End Flashback/

*

The wind was beginning to pick up, whip lashing the long coat you had on. You pulled up the collar to protect your face and you wondered if, Shikamaru had had to kill anybody yet.

*

"Ino!"

You look up, "Sakura?"

"Have you seen Naruto?"

You shake your head and she frowns. "Hmm… Well I guess he must have gone without me"

"To where?"

And Sakura looks at you like you were insane "To… see… Shikamaru…" she says slowly in case you didn't understand. "He's supposed to be back tonight."

Your eyes widen. "What?"

"You didn't know?"

You shake your head. "But what does it matter, he'll only be gone again"

"Oh, I take it you haven't seen him for a while"

You shake your head again "Shikamaru is only a memory to me now" and you brush past her.

"Well… I'll tell him you said hi" and she takes off in the other direction. You listen as her footsteps fade into the setting night.

/Flashback/

"Ino! Ino!" you looked up from the sand pit to see Chouji bounding up to you excitedly, it was the first day back to school, second grade and you were glad to see your friend whom you hadn't seen since… this morning. "Guess what!"

"What?" you replied not as enthusiastically, smoothing out your castle.

"A girl kissed Shikamaru!"

The castle crumbled in your hands.

"What!"

Chouji laughed like it was something funny. "She attacked him while he was lying under the tree, you know his favourite spot!" He pressed his chubby hands to his lips to stop him from laughing too loudly.

You sat next to him in class after playtime was over. "What did it taste like?"

He didn't have to ask what you were talking about as his forehead scrunched in concentration. This was before he came up with his thinking stance. "like sand"

You blinked, "eew"

"I know" he crossed his arms on the desk burying his head in between them. He muttered something that was muffled but it sounded suspiciously like 'girls are so troublesome'

/End Flashback/

*

So caught up in your thoughts you didn't notice the figure crouching outside your house until it rose to its feet, reaching out to you. Your scream for help was cut off by the other hand pressed up against your mouth. You could smell the distinct stench of blood.

"Ino, it's me" it said leaning out of the shadow.

Your eyes widened as the hand lowered slowly from your mouth. "Shikamaru…" your voice was so soft if he hadn't been standing so close it might have been lost in the wind. You pressed a hand against his cheek, cold but real but you quickly jerk away when you felt a sticky substance smear itself across your hand. "…blood"

"It's not mine" he says his grip on your shoulder tightening until you visibly wince; he mutters an apology and lets go, his hand falling idly by his side.

"Then who…"

"I killed people today" his voice is soft and even not the kind of tone you'd expect with such a revelation.

"What…"

"A lot of people"

You look down at the shoulder he'd grabbed, and you notice the dark handprint against your white coat. You slowly raise your head to meet his gaze and he stares back, he looks older, jaded… and you notice for the first time that he's covered in blood. You reach a hand to your cheek to feel the residue blood already drying and flaking against your skin. He moves forward and instinctively you take a step back.

He jerks to a halt. "Ino…"  You take another step back until you feel the hard wall press against your back.

"Please…don't touch me" you say noticing him flinch from your words.

He closes his eyes for a moment, "I never wanted this, Ino"

Tears well up in your eyes, "I know" you whisper.

"I have to go just before the sun rises…"

"…are you hurt?"

He shakes his head, "this…this isn't my…"

"Let's go inside so we can get you cleaned up before you leave again."

"Ino…" he says but you're already walking past him.

*

He sits shirtless, cross legged on your bed while you run a wet cloth across his back, your eyes taking in the angry, new scars that now marred his once smooth pale skin. You slide the already stained cloth up his neck and you shift your position so you're directly in front of him when you clean his face. Each time you get a bit of the blood off its like finding another part of Shikamaru.

You fall asleep watching him watching you and when you wake he's gone. The only memory of his visit is the towel stained with other people's blood.