A/N: Aww yay! Reviews . Oh god...sorry sorry this was delayed for so long. Had graduation and loads of finals, so I was pretty preoccupied. Hehehh, I'm planning to update every Friday (except this time), so check in every once in a while :P (I'm not 100 sure of my ability to squeeze my imagination dry every week in time for the Friday updates..buuut I'll try, but I don't guarantee anything). Man..all of you are so smart, hit the mark completely. Read on and you'll know what I mean.
Disclaimer: Boo-hoo. By the way, I might have messed up the land in the original anime/manga in order to fit my story ;. I'm not that keen on the topography of the ramen stall, and it's surroundings, so please bear with me.
Dedications: All of you guys!
Kikanemi- Haha! Thanks . Honored to write a handcuff fic that stands out there for ya P
Marysmary- Mary-samaaaaaaaaaa! Yay, glad you like it. You better update your Sasuke fic!
-tempts you with Sasuke figurine-
Miss Ino- Yay Another dedicated reviewer! Your wish is my command, and here is your chappie
Lilac- Thanks! Hehehh I have many many evil things in store for our lovely Shika and Ino .
aki-child- Another dedicated reviewer! Hahaha! They'll be chained up pretttyyy long. Prettyyyy long. xP -coughcough-
InuBecka-Heheh, Thanks! Oh, I will :P Got many things brewing in my head just for those two.
Alison- Yeaah! Shikamaru 3. Yep! Sorry if it got confusing. They'll be able to shower, just immobile..when I read your comment, I was like..'Omg...she knows exactly what I'm thinking! Yeaaah!' ; Even though you probably have a pretty darn good idea what's in store for those two..I'm hoping you'll enjoy this chapter.
Hououza- Aww! Thanks! 'Now, I wonder what will happen when they try and eat, will they be forced to feed each other?' hahah another psychic. Seriously, all of my reviewers are too smart xx! Hahah, ahh I wonder if Shika will be able to solve it..-laughs evilly- Thanks for the encouragement!
Shika-Kun- Haha yeah. After a while, and after finding out their real names, kinda bothered me if the parents' names were incorrect. P Guilty conscience. Thanks! More dedicated reviewers! I love you guys!
Akikaze- Yummm apple...shinnnyyy apple . Hahah thanks, I have no clue how I got the handcuffed idea suddenly. P Either way, thanks for reading and reviewing annnnd for adoring my story P.
sierra- Hahaha yay! Sorry for the wait, thanks for reading!
Alllllrighty, done with dedications P. Time to start to story. -Evil laugh-
Chapter 3. Seven Shades of Red and a Moonlit Path
Shikamaru walked on with Ino towards the clutter of food stalls grouped together, the stalls lightings casting light eerie shadows on the pavement. He turned the problem over in his mind, dissatisfied with the same results that kept on popping up.
'Better not tell her about this yet..' he thought, grimacing a bit. 'I'll just ignore it, until it becomes...necessary.'
It wasn't long before they reached the voices, laughter, and drunken shouts. They walked through the stalls looking at what was on the menu along the way. They walked in silence. Ino had quieted down and was looking around the lively area, the tiny clinking noises of the chain between them barely heard. She spotted the familiar Ichiraku Ramen stall and dragged Shikamaru over. He looked at it and stiffened a little, but against better judgement, groaned.
"Come on Shikamaru." Ino said practically dragging him by his feet ignoring his groan. The more he resisted the more she was determined to eat there. Finally after figuring out it's pointless to argue with a more-than-just-stubborn woman, Shikamaru relented.
They slipped into the stall and sat at the stools. The chef nodded to him looked at the handcuffs and chuckled to himself heartily. He turned around to prepare two bowls of ramen still chuckling to himself. Ino passed him a pair of chopsticks and took a pair for herself. Shikamaru fiddled around with the chopsticks, twirling it between his slender fingers and looking at anything but the chopsticks.
"Shika? Hey.." Ino said as she peered around his shoulder, his back facing her. She poked him at the side, her eyes had a mischievous gleam and her mouth curled up in a devilish grin. "What're you up to?"
"Nothing." Shikamaru said, placing the chopsticks back onto the counter and stared intently into space.
"Hmm.." she murmured and grinned. The chef turned around and placed two bowls of ramen in front of them and turned back to taking the orders of the other customers seated next to them in the stalls.
"Itadakimasu!" (Along the lines of: Thank you for the food.)
Shikamaru looked at his chopsticks and meal hesitantly and then at Ino. She was busy equipping herself with napkins and a pair of chopsticks. She turned her head to him slightly.
"What's up?" she said as she fussed around her bowl. He shook his head and averted his gaze.
He stole a quick glance at Ino again and began to eat effortlessly. 'What is Ino doing coming here. Doesn't she know how hard it is going to be trying to eat ramen with her right hand chained to me like that? That sly Hokage..she knew this.' he closed his eyes and was pondering over something intently, his chopsticks still poised in midair.
In response he felt an upward tugging pressure on his left wrist. His eyes snapped open in surprise. The chain between the handcuffs was taut and straight in a diagonal angle. The pressure shook unsteadily a little at first, his left arm rising off the table a few inches an then dropping back on the surface of the table again as the chain slackened. A few of the passers-by looked at their direction and pointed. Shikamaru swallowed a mouthful of ramen with difficulty. For a few minutes this upward and downward bobbing motion of his left arm continued. He didn't look at Ino, but instead lifted his left arm lightly from the table so it was closer to Ino's mouth and what he hoped would make it easier for her to navigate between the bowl and her mouth. He continued to chew his meal slowly, ignoring the pointing and the other people in the stall giving them sidelong glances. But still the chain strained and half of his cuff was threatening to sink into the underside of his wrist. He raised his hand higher and moved it closer to Ino, so that his arm was on level with his eyes. After a while it started to ache and he felt his bi- and triceps burn uncomfortably. He glanced at Ino, while chewing on his own ramen, the tips of the chopsticks barely touched her lips. She strained to get it closer, but the food between the chopsticks slipped down instead and fell back into her bowl with a echoing–
The broth splattered everywhere on Ino, her front a colorful display of darker purple, her chin dripping with soup, half of her bangs matted to her forehead. She blinked in surprise. Shikamaru almost choked on his ramen going down. He swallowed hard once more and with his free hand held his forehead shaking violently with laughter. He looked away from Ino and laughed uncontrollably silent. He turned slightly and looked at her blinking shocked face suddenly turn 7 different shades of bright, bright red. That brought him to laugh even harder with occasional soft noises as tried to inhale against the spastic laughter.
The cook looked on at the boy laughing and the girl starting to wrinkle her brows in anger, still red as a tomato. 'The poor boy's going to choke soon..and Ino will probably help him along..physically.' he shook his head his eyes twinkling as he looked at the handcuffs jingling as Shikamaru shook. 'Youngsters these days...'
Shikamaru released his forehead and grabbed a tissue. Looked away and took deep breaths of air calming himself. He looked back at Ino and swallowed an impulse to start all over again. He closed his eyes shook his head and counted to five. He opened them and started to swiftly and a bit forcefully remove all the liquid from her hair and chin, he glanced at the stain, and then back up at Ino. He removed his green vest and set it aside to the stool next to him. Traces of the earlier scowl had quickly disappeared from Ino's face as Shikamaru wiped away the broth before, and now she was looking at Shikamaru curiously, excruciatingly aware of the embarrassing stain on her front of all places. 'Oh god..just perfect.' she thought vehemently. Underneath of Shikamaru's deep green vest was a grey shirt, not unlike the one he used to wear even before his chuunin days. He grabbed the edges which were around his waists and pulled upward over his head and slipped it off with grace, untangling his arms from the short sleeves. Underneath that was another layer, the fishnet layer. His torso was covered with a paper thin black shirt connected to the fishnet, which snaked out and covered his strong yet slender arms and a bit of the sleeves. People paused to stare at the scene. Shikamaru held the t-shirt in his cuffed hand, and with his free hand slipped back into his green vest.
He cut her off by shoving his shirt at her face then instantly scowling darkly at the people in the food stall staring at him. Ino instinctively pitched backwards and looked at Shikamaru in confusion. Her confusion ebbed away gradually being replaced by a surprised look on her face. She looked at the cook, who was too, staring at them with a half smile playing on his lips. He gestured to the side of the stall where it was empty and pretty secluded. Ino felt herself flush and a burning sensation crawl up from behind her neck. She took the shirt gingerly and slipped off the stool, concentrating hard on the stain.
Shikamaru slid out of his seat and put his hands inside his pockets and walked idly towards that direction dragging Ino behind him. They rounded the corner, all the bright light from the stall suddenly disappeared from their sight. No one was around, and behind the ramen stall about 30 feet away was other stalls. In this 30 feet was grassland and empty except for patches of concrete sporting tables and chairs. Ino and Shikamaru stood in a shadowy area between the ramen stall and another food stall which was closed. Shikamaru turned fully around, his back facing Ino, and looked out over the crowd shuffling past the ramen stall, glacing at them momentarily and moving along. His left arm was twisted backwards, and he glanced back at Ino who was standing there staring at his shirt. He nudged her with his arm and turned around to face her. He spread his arms in attempt to block her from the passers-by and turned his head to the side and closed his eyes, his brows wrinkled in faint traces of irritation.
Ino glanced at the shirt in her hand, the chilling wind blew at them, her wet shirt making her even colder. She hesitated and stole a glance at Shikamaru who still had his eyes closed tight. She turned back to stare at his shirt the texture soft and smooth.
"What's taking so long.." Shikamaru murmured quietly, but in the little alleyway it echoed loudly making Ino jump.
Ino took a determined breath and turned slightly away from Shikamaru. She glanced back at him warily, and his eyes were still faced sideways and closed shut. She proceeded to take off the purple sleeveless top. She glanced at the bandages that wrapped around her abdomen. 'Dry, thank god.' and she slipped on Shikamaru's shirt. It covered the bandaged and fell to the top of her head protector which sat at her waists and the sleeves ended up near her elbows. She coughed quietly to signal she was done. Without looking at her he turned around and walked quietly back into the light.
"Idiot.." he muttered as he walked out.
"Wha-" she cried out in protest.
"What made you think you could eat by yourself chained like that?" He sighed irritably.
"S-Stupid! I could've managed if..if.." she faltered lamely. 'You idiot! It's your fault. Since you looked so deep in thought before, I didn't want to bother you anymore. Stupid baka!' she thought to herself angrily.
"Tch." he snorted.
Ino looked at him indignantly; another rebuke rising up, when Shikamaru dodged out of sight and under the flaps of Ichiraku Ramen. She slipped into the stall, bright light once again flooding her sight. The cook smiled acknowledging their return. Shikamaru sat down and paid for his own and her dinner, now cold, and to Ino's surprise ordered another bowl. As the two previous bowls got taken away, Ino sat in curiosity, wondering what the second bowl's purpose was. Shikamaru looked around the stall, leaning his head into his right arm, his eyes roaming around disinterestedly, his left hand drumming the counter top. She placed her partially soaked shirt on the stool next to her, and the other customers glanced at her again now taking up the new sight of her in Shikamaru's shirt. She avoided their prying eyes and kept her left arm on her lap. Her right arm was lying on the counter top too, the chain that held them a few inches apart, was lying between their wrists silent for once.
After another five minutes, the cook turned around ever-smiling at them and put down the bowl of ramen in front of them and a pair of chopsticks. Ino looked at it a foreboding feeling forming inside her. Shikamaru snapped out of his apathy and looked at the bowl, rolling up all his sleeves. Suddenly a loud orchestral growl was emitted from Ino. She felt the familiar burning sensation crawl up from the back of her neck again.
"Hey." Shikamaru called out to her softly. She turned to look at him, trying to look as calm as possible.
He was holding the pair of chopsticks in his right hand in front of her face. He had a scowl on his face again, his eyes concentrated on her. She looked at the ramen suspended in air by the chopsticks, with confusion. As everything registered in her head, her eyes widened and she leaned away automatically. He thrust the ramen closer the farther she moved away.
"Wa-Wa-Wai-Wait.." she stuttered in surprise.
"It's getting cold." he murmured, his voice unbelievably calmly.
She didn't move and leaned back as far as her stool permitted. Shikamaru sat there looking at her irritation molding its way into his usually passive-aggressive expression. After a few minutes of this he sighed in irritation and grabbed her arm to pull her back closer to the counter and in that moment forced the food into her mouth. She chewed it and swallowed then looked at Shikamaru angrily.
"I don't need you to feed me. I'm not hungry, Shikamaru." she said, right before her stomach growled loudly in protest. He smiled simperingly at her, which she reacted to by opening her mouth to tell him off again. At the moment she opened her mouth, he quickly slipped in another bountiful helping of ramen. He held his left hand over her mouth to make sure she didn't spit it out and watched her chew and swallow it. He released her and looked at her. She glowered at him, embarrassed he had to feed her. 'Ahhh this is so embarrassing.' she thought and blushed furiously. She didn't respond to him and kept her mouth shut and looked away from him defiantly.
"Ino, open your mouth now or do you want this to be a battle? Open your mouth or I'm going to force it open." he sighed. She ignored him stubbornly. The flaps of the stall didn't offer any privacy and instead more people filtered in.
"It's getting cold." he said in a softer tone. "Well this leaves me with no choice." he muttered to himself.
He put down the chopsticks and Ino looked away. With both hands, he started to tickle her at her sides. Ino froze on the spot in surprise and bursted out laughing and squirming uncontrollably away. In a flash Shikamaru stole another hefty amount of ramen into her mouth. As she laughed pairs of eyes from inside as well as outside Ichiraku Ramen focused on them. She regained her composure quickly, well aware of the fact that Shikamaru cunningly took her by surprise. He suddenly leaned in very close to her ear.
"Either eat willingly or eat unwillingly." he whispered quietly, and leaned back into his own seat.
She looked at him, defeated and nodded. He gave a big sigh of relief and picked up the chopsticks again.
"Finally.." he muttered and rolled his eyes, the ghost of smile passed his lips.
He faced her fully and fed her slowly, waiting for her to chew and swallow properly and making sure the food wasn't cold or too hot either. She felt her face flush every time the wooden chopsticks grazed her lips, every time he turned his eyes back to her, or maybe it was every time she heard someone laugh and whisper.
"Hey, do you see that couple over there? That boy and Ino! Yes, it is her! See! I told you they were chained together." one woman hissed a few feet from them. Ino tensed up.
"Yeah yeah! I remember once at the flower shop she barely paid attention to the customers, but instead stared out into space. What a rude girl. And now she's so intimate in public too! Has she no shame? I heard even after that boy disappeared she still associated with other boys. And she's part of that 'fan club' supporter thing of his too. What a two-faced girl! Really, she cares more about guys than her training and whatnot--" another said loudly. Ino turned quickly to them, her anger rising.
"I--" she interrupted, but to her own surprise her voice was drowned out by Shikamaru's.
"Will you shut it already!" Shikamaru growled, irritated. "Jeez, you old women nag more than my own mother! At least go somewhere else to do it, do you know how hard it was for me to get her to eat this and now you diverted her attention." he closed his eyes and sighed forcefully.
The two women scowled darkly at Shikamaru and shuffled away. Shikamaru opened his eyes to see Ino smiling to herself. She laughed as she thought of the defensive scowl Shikamaru had on while telling them off. Shikamaru rolled his eyes but blushed lightly nonetheless. He put the pair of chopsticks on the bowl, empty of everything but broth. He got up and placed the money on the table and walked out of the bright light quickly.
Ino followed him, always a lagging a few paces behind. They walked silently towards the direction of their new apartment, the moon lighting their path. The leaves of the trees rustled in the wind as they passed. The street they were walking on was glued with shadows of people sitting in food stalls laughing and eating. As they left behind the sounds of the people, he heard a whisper so faint that even the rustling tree leaves almost drowned out.
"Eh..?" he said as he looked back at Ino.
"I said, thank-you." she repeated quietly looking at the ground the whole time.
"What for.." he asked quietly as they continued to walk.
"..Thanks for everything today.." she said softly, hesitating a little as she walked, the darkness hiding her reddening face.
"Mmmm." he grunted softly in response, his voice cracking at the end. Ino stole a glance at him.
'My voice..just...cracked..why..' he swallowed hesitantly in disbelief.
'Stupid, I probably mistook some other noise. That wouldn't happen in a million years with that guy...but..still..was it really..?'
'Damn it. Why do I even care or react so much when it concerns this thick-headed woman.' Shikamaru thought, his right hand covering his mouth. He blushed furiously, half angry with himself, and half of some undescribable emotion.
A/N: Sorry once again that this got dragged out till the first of July ;;. Thanks for waiting for this so patiently! Ahh excuse me for any mistakes I made in grammar and whatnot (I'm rushing right now 'cuz I need to get out of the house for an appointment ;) — so I can't proofread this. Also if I made some mistakes about Shika's gray shirt, please bear with me. Thanks!