Disclaimer- I don't own Naruto.
"Shikamaru!" Ino scowled, stomping her feet as she glared up at her teammate.
Shikamaru, from his rather comfortable position in the branches of the tree, ignored her. His nerves were already a bit frazzled, and just didn't have the energy to deal with Ino today.
"Shikamaru!" Ino called again, stomping twice for emphasis. "Come down here and train with me!"
"Leave me alone." He said gruffly, closing his eyes. "I trained yesterday with my dad. I'm all worn out."
"Well my daddy's still on a mission, so I need a sparring partner! And since Chouji is training with his family today, that means its your job!" Ino snapped, hands on her hips and eyes glaring fiercely, as if to burn through the branch.
"No." Shikamaru said simply.
"Fine then." Ino snarled. "Some friend you are!"
"We're friends?" Shikamaru asked dryly, without opening his eyes.
Ino's frustrated scream of repressed murderous rage could be heard throughout the village.
"Ino's angry with you." Chouji stated, idly digging through the dregs of his potato chips for those last salty crumbs.
"Thanks, I really didn't notice." Shikamaru all but snarled as he glared at the other boy. The fact that he had rocks thrown at his window in the middle of the night, jolting him awake from a nice dream where loud blondes didn't exist and the only missions he had to do were simple D ranks, was a sure sign that Ino was angry with him.
After all, there weren't too many people who would also be shouting, "Shikamaru you jerk!" while they threw rocks at his window.
"You should probably apologize." Chouji continued, unhindered by Shikamaru's irritable demeanor.
"Or I could slit my throat with my own kunai. How about that?" Shikamaru said caustically, his frown setting in like a determined storm.
"Seriously Shikamaru, apologize to Ino." Asuma's looked almost run ragged. His beard looked mildly frazzled and the cigarette in his mouth was hanging on by a scant amount. "I don't know if I can put up with anymore rants about how she wants to slit your guts open and make you eat them."
Shikamaru winced. "Thanks, but I like living." He muttered, scowling all the while. "Besides, it's not my fault."
Asuma sighed, patting Shikamaru on the back in a paternal fashion. "Shikamaru, I do like you and I think you're a great shinobi, but frankly, I don't really give a damn whose fault it is."
Shikamaru scowled. "Thanks a lot."
Today, Shikamaru decided, he was finally getting a break. Asuma-sensei had called off training due to the fact that he might end up in an asylum if he had to listen to Ino's ranting any longer.
"She can really hold a grudge," he muttered, crossing his arms as he laid in bed, staring up at the ceiling. Still, since Ino's father was back from his latest mission, chances were that the blonde terror wouldn't be coming around to harass him today.
"Shikamaru? I need to talk to you."
Those dreaded six words that no teen wants to hear.
Shikamaru shuddered and hoped that if he didn't answer, his father would simply go away.
His father's grizzled visage peeked in and the older Nara did not look well pleased. "Shikamaru... I just talked with Inoshi, and-"
"It's not my fault." Shikamaru cut in quickly, seeing that his room had already been overrun and deciding to cut his losses.
Shikaku sighed, rubbing the back of his head. "Trust me, Shikamaru. It is."
"Why the Hell does everyone say that?" Shikamaru demanded, rolling his eyes. "I was tired, and she was being unreasonable."
Shikaku sighed again, stepping over toward his son and placing his hand on the boy's shoulder. "Shikamaru, this won't end until you two come to an understanding."
"You try being understanding with her." Shikamaru countered sarcastically. "I think I'd have better luck with negotiating a peace treaty with the Hidden Sound."
By Saturday, Shikamaru was convinced that Ino's grand revenge was turning everyone, absolutely everyone in the village, against him.
After all, that had to be the reason why he was pranked by Konohamaru and his friends, why the girls who passed him on the street sniffed and looked away from him pointedly, and most especially, why that dog bit him on the leg.
"She probably got Kiba in on this stupid scheme..." Shikamaru grumbled, rubbing his leg irritably.
"It's all in your head," Chouji replied sympathetically, patting him on the back with his free hand.
"What? The pain in my leg? No, I think that's real." Shikamaru snapped.
"Ino can't possibly be making your life miserable just because of one fight. And why would she ask Kiba to get a dog to bite you?" Chouji questioned, polishing off the last of his chips and moving onto another bag.
"I don't know." Shikamaru replied gruffly. "But then again, when have I ever understood women?
I am a man.
Shikamaru felt a bit of sweat roll down his back.
I am a man, he reminded himself. He was not letting this get to him, he was not losing his resolve, and he most certainly wasn't going to back down and let Ino walk all over him.
Shikamaru had his pride.
He was only coming to Ino's house to ask her to stop this conspiracy.
He was not, not here to apologize.
Shikamaru raised his hand, about to push open the shop's door, when it swung open.
"Hi, Shikamaru." Inoshi said gruffly, a definite change from the older man's normally friendly demeanor.
Shikamaru swallowed, feeling a sweat break out again. His mantra was beginning to lose its shine... "I... Uh..."
"Ino's not here." Inoshi crossed his arms and glared fiercely.
"Oh... Then... well... uh..." Shikamaru wilted underneath the blonde man's glare. "I'll just be going now."
It took all his pride not to run on the spot.
After he turned the corner, he decided pride was overrated and ran all the way back home, not stopping until he had slammed his door shut and locked himself up in his room.
One never knew who was under the thrall of Ino's conspiracy.
Shikamaru found himself in a part of town he didn't normally frequent, hoping to God and any other deity who cared to spare a bit of mercy that Ino's conspiracy hadn't reached this place yet.
His stomach rumbled rebelliously. Scowling, Shikamaru spotted the sign of a ramen shop and decided that some ramen, maybe fish ramen, sounded good right about now. Licking his lips, Shikamaru stepped inside.
A momentary spasm of fear overcame him as he saw a blonde head of hair. Upon closer inspection, however, he saw that the strands were bright, sunlight gold rather than the beautiful platinum blonde of Ino's.
Just platinum blonde, nothing else.
"Hey Shikamaru!" Naruto grinned-somehow- through a mouth full of noodles. "I don't see you around here too often!"
"Hn. Hey, Naruto." Shikamaru said wearily, seating himself down next to the other genin. "I suppose you're going to lecture me about it being my fault Ino's mad too?"
Naruto blinked, surprised. "So that's what Sakura-chan and Ino were talking about..." he muttered, pausing to slurp down the rest of the bowl in one go.
I knew it! She is spreading a conspiracy against me! "Did you hear anything about Ino's plans? What does she plan to do next?" Shikamaru asked hurriedly, hoping to get the jump on Ino before she could cause him any more agony.
"What? Uh... she actually looked kind of upset." Naruto replied, confused. "I didn't hear anything about plans..."
Shikamaru felt the leaden weight of guilt drop into his gut.
"Crap." He swore, running his hand through his spiked hair. "What the hell am I supposed to do now?"
"This week sucks." Shikamaru muttered, hands entrenched firmly in his pockets, head bowed low.
Stupid dogs. Stupid girls. Everyone's against me. My father, Asuma, Chouji... They're all against me. Well, I don't need them.
So engrossed was Shikamaru in his full blown paranoia that he just about barreled over the blonde girl in front of him.
Blonde girl? Oh shi-
"-kamaru! Watch where you're going!" Ino scolded, but her glare seemed almost... forced?
"Oh... sorry." Shikamaru said distractedly, puzzled. Strangely enough, Ino's anger didn't seem as enthused as it normally would be.
Ino blinked, as though she had just witnessed a divine miracle. "Oh... well, it's no big deal." She smiled brightly, and Shikamaru had the distinct feeling he was missing something. "Oh... and... sorry for throwing rocks at your window."
Shikamaru waited. He still wasn't convinced that Ino wasn't conspiring to run him into an asylum.
Ino punched him in the shoulder, hard. "You jerk! You're supposed to accept my apology, not stand there like an idiot!"
Shikamaru scowled. "Fine, fine. Apology accepted... jeez, such a troublesome woman..."
"You should feel grateful I even decided to apologize." Ino said snappishly, but there was a distinct impish grin on her face. "I'll see you later, alright?"
As he watched her bound off and away, her hair whipping about like flashes of wondrous light, Shikamaru realized that he was probably right back where he was last week.
Still, he reflected as her smile flashed like lightning through his mind, perhaps it didn't really matter.
What was the point in changing a good thing?