A/N: And here I am, I hope that you like this new chapter of Say Anything. The final installment of this one shot! =] You know what to do!!
Disclaimer: You know the routine. =]
NOTE: Be sure to have a few tissues with you, this may make you cry.
"Well, the doctor told us that you will be leaving in a few days now, so all you need now, is a good night's rest and lots of sleep now, dear," one of the elderly nurses patted Ino on the head as she stared blankly through a window onto the side of her room.
"I know how you want to see outside but it takes time since you are in quite of a critical condition regarding your health, and you know, a month ago, that young man of yours who carried you in his arms, he's quite the look," the nurse smiled as she caught a glimpse of Ino blushing furiously in the cheeks.
"Now, don't worry, in a few days you'll be able to see him again," the nurse said her words before she left the room leaving Ino in total solitude.
"He carried me in his arms…?" Ino contemplated as she pulled up her covers up to her shoulders shielding her from the cold night, ", oh forget it Ino, he did that because you were unconscious, if I wasn't he'd probably drag me on the ground, that's how much a jerk he is,"
In a few moments, she drifted off into a sweet slumber.
"Ino!!" Sakura pinched her in the arm as if to wake her up. Ino placed her head up and looked around her and smiled as a few bluebirds near the window sang a sweet tune as her friend handed her the lunch that she made just for her. She opened it and grinned.
"My favorite meal, thank you Sakura," she smiled in gratitude as Sakura left the room. When she took her first bite out of her main course, a familiar face entered her room. He walked over to her and sat next to her staring deeply into the food she was devouring.
"May I help you?" Ino sarcastically remarked.
"I don't need any help," in an impulse, the young man stood up to her and stared into her eyes as if they were the windows to her soul, "I just wanted to give you something," he carefully leaned closer to her face and Ino closed her eyes to meet his lips...
Ino woke up and opened her eyes and saw Shikamaru's face near her. "PERVERT!! GET AWAY FROM ME!!!!!!!" She punched him hard in the chin and he flew to the wall. When he recovered, he stood up rubbing his face.
"Geez, I was just checking up on you because you were rolling in your sleep, it's not like I was going to kiss you! You jump to conclusions too quickly," His lean figure leaned against the firm wall as Ino felt her cheeks hot.
"Was that just a dream? It felt so real," she thought to herself. Before she knew it, Shikamaru went over to her bed and sat on in near her feet and smiled at her.
"What?" Ino crossed her arms, she knew that Shikamaru was up to something.
"I came here to see you, and so, while I'm here, would you like to take a stroll with me outside?" Ino was surprised at this generous offer, even Shikamaru stood up in a gentlemanly posture offering her his hand.
Rejecting this romantic offer, Ino stared at the ground, "We...I can't, it's the doctor's orders, I have to rest here for a few days and then I can go outside,"
With a sigh, Shikamaru smiled and bent toward her and whispered in her ear, "Well, the doctor isn't here now is he?" Every warm breathe he whispered sent Ino's heart to skip a beat.
"Do you like doing this to other girls? Whisper in their ears so then they will listen to whatever you say? I'm not that weak!"
"Bah, Ino, why are you so complicated?" With a sweep, Shikamaru carried Ino in his arms and Ino yelled out his name but he hushed her with his finger to her lips, "Shh...we'll be back in no time, just relax while we're together," with that said, he placed her gently in a wheelchair that was near the door and pushed her slowly out of the room.
When the two reached outside, the warm sunlight kissed Ino's pale cheeks. The young girl breathed in the fresh warm air she longed to breathe every since she's been cooped up in her room for nearly three weeks. Ino leaned against her wheelchair in a relaxing way and felt Shikamaru behind her which made her flush very brightly. The two were in an awkward silence exploring the beauty of nature around them in the garden that was in the back of the room.
"I never knew that they had a garden as beautiful as this one here...it's amazing how they still maintain it with patients coming in and out of the hospital." Shikamaru's thoughtful voice echoed in Ino's ears.
"You're right," she turned her head around and gazed into those dark eyes that she longed to look at without a hint of awkwardness. When she stared at him, Shikamaru looked at her and the two had a long eye contact until Shikamaru broke it off for some reason.
"I think we'd better get you to your room, the nurses are probably freaking out if they saw an empty bed in your room," Shikamaru turned Ino in the other direction and slowly pushed the wheelchair into the building. Before they headed back in, Ino whispered, "Thank you...Shikamaru," Much to her surprise, Shikamaru heard her and smiled in a kind manner and nodded at her.
"You're welcome," Shikamaru then carried Ino into her bed and tucked her in and then walked off. When the door closed behind him, a tear strolled down Ino's cheek. This was the most kindest gesture Shikamaru had ever done for her.
Thoughts of Shikamaru swarmed in her head. Images of the two of them together...laughing...and loving...she wanted this...but does Shikamaru want it too? Over the years she's known him, he was like a weird scripture where it was difficult to decipher what he meant. The arguments the two share and the evil looks are as if meant to throw her off from finding out the true side of Shikamaru.
And now, Ino felt as if she does really know Shikamaru.
The next morning...
"INOO!!" Sakura ran in to greet her friend. Ino woke up and realized that it was the next morning.
"What's wrong?" Sakura sat next to the young blonde.
"Nothing really..." Ino sighed helplessly. She later received a nudge from Sakura.
"Shikamaru came by, didn't he?? Aww...how cute! I knew the two of you will get together sooner or later, so how did he say it? On one knee? With a rose? Did he get you something?" Sakura asked as many questions as she could so she could get the juiciest detail from her friend.
"He and I spent our time in the garden," Ino smiled thoughtfully as she thought of yesterday afternoon.
"HEH??? What kind of idiot would do--" before she could finish, Sakura could see that Ino was happy. Of course, the two had different perspectives on what romantic scenarios they would love to be in or how the guy would approach them. Sakura swallowed her words and all she could do was feel happy for her.
"Oh, a walk in the garden is fine with me...however he could've done something more romantic," Sakura thought to herself.
"Sakura?" Ino asked.
Sakura looked up, "Yes?"
"I don't mean to be rude but I just need a little time to myself right now, is it ok with you?" Ino blinked a few times and turned to her friend.
"Oh, ok then...I'll see you later then," before Sakura left, she kissed Ino softly on the forehead and then left the door.
"Welcome home Ino," Mrs. Yamanaka carried her daughter's belongings as they headed to the door, "your friends really missed you..." the blonde woman winked at her daughter as Ino held her hand on the knob, "especially Shikamaru," the mother stood behind her daughter as Ino smiled secretly as she opened the door.
"WELCOME HOME INO!!!" cries and greetings flew through the door as Ino was greeted by her loved ones and friends. Sakura walked toward her in her best red dress with a drink in her hand and put an arm around Ino. She then led her to the living room where everyone gathered together to see Ino.
"Hey Ino, it's been awhile!" Naruto grinned a huge smile as Ino sat down next to Sakura on the couch.
"So...are you feeling better?" Hinata shyly asked Ino as she sat next to Naruto. Mrs. Yamanaka was nearby and smiled as she headed upstairs with Ino's luggage.
"...Yeah, couldn't be better," Ino smiled as her eyes looked around the room. She could tell that almost everyone was here except for one person.
After the long talks and questionings, hours passed and one by one her friends left the house. For Ino, it seemed like forever. She silently sat still next to Sakura who was still beside her. Soon enough, everyone was gone except for Sakura and Ino who were still downstairs.
"You ok?" Sakura knew something was wrong by the expression on Ino's face. She seemed happy that Sakura had planned the party for her, however it just wasn't enough. Sakura sighed and sat back and took a sip of her drink. She knew what was missing.
"Sorry Ino...I invited him but he declined it," Sakura whispered just in case Mrs. Yamanaka overheard their conversation. Mrs. Yamanaka tends to be a very protective mother especially when it concerns her daughter's well being. She is fully aware that Shikamaru and Ino have been together for such a long time but never overlooked the fact that the two could actually develop romantic feelings for each other.
"Figures, he's that kind of guy," Ino tried to shrug off the thought however it just stayed stuck in her head. Silence came. Later, Sakura stood up and pointed at Ino, "You should tell him how you feel Ino, do you want to know how many times you two imply hints of affection towards each other but you guys are TOO stubborn to notice it?" Sakura kneeled down before Ino and placed her hands on her friend's knees, "Ino...if you really like him, tell him how you feel! It's really easy," Sakura leaned closer to Ino.
"I don't like him Sakura...I love him," Ino realized that she was crying and Sakura wiped her tears off for her.
"Well then, you go get him Ino! Tell him how you feel!" Sakura stood up victoriously and held her fist in the air. Ino stood up beside her friend and smiled.
"Thanks Sakura...I don't know what I would do without you, thanks," Ino embraced her close friend and ran out of the door.
A few minutes later, Sakura collapsed down onto the couch and sighed as she took a sip of her drink.
"Finally...those two will be together,"
Ino ran down the street trying to find Shikamaru. The young blonde ran as fast as she could...every move and step she took, a tear fell down her cheek. As she ran, the sky thundered with fear as dark clouds gathered around. Ino finally reached a place that was close to the woods. She decided to stop for awhile to catch her breathe. As she took a few deep breathes, cold beads of water fell on her. Ino knew that she had to go on, she wouldn't give up. She didn't.
She kept running...and running.
"Where could he be?" Ino thought to herself as the sky thundered above her. Without noticing the road ahead of her, Ino accidentally tripped on something and fell on the rough ground. She stood up and looked at her knee.
It was bleeding.
As the rain fell harder, it fell on her knee wound and blood dropped like tears onto the ground. Ino knew she had to run further.
But she couldn't.
Warm tears fell down as Ino pulled her bangs back as she stared at the sky as if she was mad at it.
"Why?" Ino furiously screamed at the thunder.
The thunder boomed back in anger as if answering to Ino.
"Why?" Ino cried out in pain as the rain fell harder on her.
Just then, she felt as if someone was running toward her. Before she could turn around, the mysterious person held her shoulders and dragged her down the road seeking shelter from the thundering rain.
"Wait! Wait!" Ino stopped the person and looked closer.
"Come on Ino, we have to find shelter or else you'll get sick," the familiar tone made Ino smile in the rain.
"Ino, come on! We have to find shelter!" Shikamaru held her hand and ran down the road as Ino stood her ground.
"Shikamaru..." Ino called his name. The black haired young man stood still. He had never heard his name be called with such a sweet voice. Usually, Ino would yell at his name or call his name in a high tone...but never as such soft and sweet as this...
"What?" Shikamaru walked up toward Ino, "we have to find shelter right now!"
"Ok, but please just hear me out just for once!" Ino held his hands tightly. The two held eye contact with each other as Ino smiled as she gazed into the person that she loves.
"I..." Ino began her sentence as she could see the rain fall rapidly down on Shikamaru. Both of them were drenched with water out on the road. Ino gazed into those eyes of Shikamaru's. She felt happy deep inside because this was the right moment. The rain...the two of them...alone...it was perfect.
"I...I love you," Ino confessed. The hands she held tight in her hands felt limp and weak, they were hard and sturdy before.
Shikamaru was silent when Ino told him her biggest secret she has been keeping all these years. Ino moved her head a little and waited for him to answer. The young man in front of her cleared his throat and then answered her.
"Look Ino, if we stay out here you and I will get very sick and probably end up in the hospital, now let's go!" Shikamaru held his hand tight on Ino's and pulled her with him as he ran down the street.
Silence fell over Ino. She told him that she loved him. Didn't he love her too?
Ino felt rejected deeply and flung her hands away from Shikamaru's hold and stood where she was and stared hard at the person she loved. Shikamaru turned around and looked at her, "What's wrong? We have to go! Are you even listening to what I'm telling you? Bah, you're so annoying!"
"I love you, Shikamaru," Ino felt her voice quiver with pain.
Shikamaru stood where he was and gazed at Ino. They were a few feet apart and all that was heard was the rain and the thundering sky.
"I love you Shikamaru..." Ino tried to smile as she slowly walked up closer to Shikamaru, "...do you love me also?"
Ino was so close to Shikamaru that she could hear his heart beating furiously and his shallow breaths of air.
"Ino, I don't have time for this, now let's go find some shelter for the last time!" Shikamaru ignored what she was saying.
"So you don't love me..." Ino sniffled on some of her tears.
"Ino...let's go," Shikamaru held out his hand.
Ino shook her head as thoughts of the two of them ever being together shattered before her eyes.
"No...no..." Ino felt as if she could die right there. Just then, she turned around and started running the opposite way and also limping because of her wound.
"INO!! INO!!" Shikamaru started running after her, "WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING? YOU'RE WOUNDED, YOU HAVE TO FIND SHELTER!" Shikamaru ran after her. Ino, who was in front of him, ran faster than she could usually run until she fell on her left leg and cried out in pain as rain fell down on her. Behind her, Shikamaru ran after her and stopped to pick her up.
"NO, leave me alone Shikamaru!" Ino struggled as she tried to get up without Shikamaru's help and started walking away from him.
"Ino!" Shikamaru walked after her.
"LEAVE ME ALONE!" Ino ignored him.
"Ino! Please!" Shikamaru pleaded after her.
"GO AWAY!" Ino stopped and put her head down as her bangs covered her forehead. The blonde wiped her tears away and wiped her eyes. She turned around and told him, "It looks like there is no use for you to be here with me now is there?" Ino replied in the rain. Shikamaru stood still.
"I told you...finally, that I love you...and you said nothing back. Clearly, I take that as a no. Well, thank you Shikamaru for finally being clear on your feelings for me. Now, there is no reason for you and I to be together here in the rain...why don't you find shelter by yourself, I'll walk my wound off." Ino wanted to bite back her words but she couldn't.
Shikamaru didn't love her.
Ino slowly walked away from Shikamaru. Away from the person she loved. Away from the person that she enjoyed to pick fights with...away from Love.
"INO!! INO!! INO!!" Shikamaru furiously ran after her and went in front of Ino blocking her path, "Don't go..." his voice lowered down.
"I don't know you," Ino's eyes darted back towards Shikamaru. She shifted to her side and walked past him. Before she could take a few steps further, Shikamaru stopped her with his voice.
"What is it that you want me to do?" Shikamaru turned around and looked at Ino, who had her back faced toward him. He walked toward her, "Do you want me to hold you?" Tears fell down Ino, as she shivered in the rain, "Do you want me to kiss you? Do you want me to comfort you?" Shikamaru's voice echoed through Ino's ears.
"I'm not that kind of guy Ino, you know that. Don't expect anything like that from me," Shikamaru's cold words tore Ino's heart apart.
Wanting to get everything off of her chest, Ino turned around, "You see? That's why you don't have anyone to love or even a girlfriend!!" she taunted him.
"I don't want one! They're annoying!" Shikamaru answered.
"You're pathetic!" Ino spit out her words.
Shikamaru's head fell back a little as if blown away by her cruel words. He walked slowly up to her, "Am I pathetic enough to be in love you with you?" He put his arms around Ino and kissed her passionately on her lips to share a wet kiss.
Ino furiously shoved him away and started heading towards the woods as Shikamaru followed behind her.
"Leave me alone!" Ino continued pacing through the bushes of trees and wood around her.
"Just let me explain, Ino!" Shikamaru still pursued.
Ino impulsively stopped near a tree and went inside and found shelter. She held her knees to herself and closed her eyes tight hoping that Shikamaru wouldn't find her. He did.
With his pale face wet with tears and drops of rain, he was panting for breath and for the long racing after her. He put a hand on the wet tree and bent down to see Ino, who was shivering in the cold. "Ino..." he whispered, he was nearly out of breath when he saw her.
"Go away...there's nothing for you to say," Ino sniffed back her tears.
Ignoring her reply, Shikamaru scooted himself into the hole and sat across from Ino, holding his knees to himself because the two of them were in a small space. Dirt was nearly turning into mud as their wet clothes mixed in with the dry dirt. Insects were crawling from the sides seeking shelter just like the two and the echoing of the thunder vibrates against the bark of the tree. Not a romantic place to be at a time like this.
Stillness crept among them.
"Ino..." Shikamaru broke the silence. Ino's eyes shot back at his as if wanting him to shut his mouth. The blonde closed her eyes shut tight and buried her face within her knees.
"No...I don't even want to hear from you!" Ino's voice was muffled by her tears and knees. Feeling as if he could comfort her, Shikamaru crawled closer to her and put his arms around her, embracing her from the cold.
"No...no...NO!" Ino pushed him away and rested her head against the hard interior of the tree.
"In--" before he could finish his words, Ino cut him short off of his words.
"Leave me alone...please," Ino pleaded him.
"I don't want to leave you like this, Ino...I--" however Shikamaru was interrupted.
"Don't...don't even start," Ino wiped some tears off of her face. She realized that her face must be blotchy and red, however, for once, she did not care about her appearance in front of Shikamaru...he just wasn't worth it anymore.
"I love you, Ino..." Shikamaru looked down. Hearing those three words she has been longing to hear...Ino started laughing sarcastically as the thunder boomed with her giving it an eerie feeling.
"You love me?" Ino laughed.
"Yes...I love you Ino." Shikamaru reassured her.
"This is pathetic. Actually, YOU are pathetic. You claim to love me? Well then how about the things that you said earlier? Saying that you're not the type of guy that would hug and comfort and kiss...well you did! You not only lied but you have toyed with my feelings for the past few years! Do you know how sick it is to actually remember and think about the things that you and I have gone through in the past? I don't even want to hear a word from you!" Ino cried out to him.
Shikamaru looked up and down and sighed, "Well...I lied,"
"Oh? So you lied...well then what makes you think that I'm going to fall for your words again this time? Nara Shikamaru, I will not succumb myself to you. You are nothing but a lying, cheating, conniving son of a--" before she could finish, Shikamaru finished for her...a kiss. However, again, Ino pulled away from him and slapped him twice on the right cheek.
"What? What did I do?" Shikamaru held up his hands in the air, "what do you want from me Ino? Tell me...what do you want?"
"You want to know what I want? I want the truth Shikamaru! The truth about everything. You, me, us, everything! Everytime I talk to you, there are some times where I just don't know you and there are also some other times where I feel like I know you so well that I could even read your thoughts. But boy, was I wrong!" Ino exclaimed.
"All right then, you want the truth? Bah...I'm not going to tell you," Shikamaru leaned against the wall.
"Why? Just tell me the truth Shikamaru. Do you love me? For once and for all, I just want everything to be clear...what is it that is on your mind? Some other girl? If so, then please tell me. I don't want to be someone that you go to...a last resort...a second place in your life. Just tell me the truth," Ino whispered.
"You can't handle the truth Ino, I've told you many times and yet you reject it as if it was yesterday's news," Shikamaru leaned closer.
Ino later bent closer to him until they were facing face to face with their eyes darting back and forth.
"Try me," she lowered her voice.
Shikamaru smiled...for the very first time in their time together. He slowly ran his hands through her blonde hair, feeling the smoothness of her silky luscious hair. The young man later caressed those small round cheeks and wiped away the remaining tears...he cupped his two hands with her face and inclined toward her and whispered, "I love you," and then softly kissed her as the percussion of the rain harmonized with the thunder.
Together...they were finally together as one in love.