Because this is the first chap, I'll give you guys a treat of 10 chapters! Be happy people, I hardly ever write so much for the first chapter of a multi-chapter story!
And I know that they're sometimes quite out of character, but it's because I don't watch or read Naruto anime/manga. I only know of their personalities through other fanfiction works and my own deductions.
So without further ado, here's the chapter!
Disclaimer: Naruto not I own! Don't mock my England la, I only been here shree months! – Typical Chinese'Engrish.'XD I'm Taiwanese so I can mock myself.
Nara Shikamaru sat at the bar table, wallowing among shot glasses that once contained Vodka, Whiskey and Tequila. The bartender shook his head, another one, he thought, another brokenhearted male who fell to the claws of the other gender.
Across the room, on the brightly lit stage, a pole dancer swung her way down the pole with seemingly effortless ease. She had long, platinum blonde hair, tied up into a high ponytail; one bang coming down to curtains the right side of her face. Her glitter eye shadowed eyes were closed in bliss, as she somehow shimmied her way up the long rod in a way that had all the men there watching her desperately needing an ice cold shower.
Then she winked at them, swung upside down by her legs, and you could almost hear the men's IQ dropping. The tight black bikini she wore exposed her long, willowy form and her shapely legs.
She moved with natural grace, her hair swaying silently while her hips followed the movement. The artificial lighting enhanced her ethereal beauty, yet she seemed to give off the glow of allure on her own.
Shikamaru didn't notice as he was downing yet another shot. He grimaced at the fiery pain as it rolled down. He cursed his alcohol tolerance. It took a lot to get him drunk. He'd already had at least 20 glasses now, and his vision was finally starting to blur. He should go, really, he had work tomorrow. Yeah, another glass and he'll go.
20 minutes later
"Hey, you. We're closing soon. Got a sober friend to drive you home? Or should I call a cab for you?"
The slightly drunken man looked up, the kind gesture of the bartender seeping through his somewhat foggy brain. He shook his head, though, and was about to get another shot, when he growled in frustration, discarded the tiny glass and instead picked up the whole damn bottle.
"You know, you're gonna have one hell of a hangover in the morning." Shikamaru looked up at the voice beside him, finally noticing the woman that had been dancing all over the floor of the stage and the pole, collecting $100 and $50 dollar notes from the drooling men. Her voice was clear, with none of the slur or accent that the lower classes of Konoha used. She was smiling at him; he nodded wearily, acknowledging her statement.
"Yeah, well, that's what I'm going for." He replied shortly, not looking at her and speaking for the first time since he dragged his sorry self to wallow in this pit of a bar. He didn't even talk to the bartender; just pointed at the bottles and the bartender knew the rest. She smiled even more, showing her pearly white teeth.
"Touché." She commented, flicking her hair back, and regarded him slowly. He had nice, angular features, a high nose, and his black hair was tied up into a high ponytail, giving him a pineapple hairdo. His slanted eyes were black; slightly bloodshot from the river of liquor he had drunk. But she could still tell he was a handsome man, and smart; his eyes told her that. They might have been clouded and hazy, but when the alcohol occasionally lifted, she could see the intelligent spark within them.
The tight black shirt he wore defined his toned body, the firm muscles outlined and his broad shoulders stretching the fabric slightly. Ino cocked her head, unashamed in checking him out so blatantly. Damn, those tight jeans look hot on him she thought, unabashed.
"It's rude to stare." He intoned flatly, still not looking at her; instead he eyed the full bottle of whisky besides the bartender. Said person was cleaning a glass, listening to their conversation.
"So, I'm guessing you were just dumped by another one of my gender?" She asked, ignoring his comment. She was still looking at the nummy man from the corners of her eyes.
"No. I dumped her a month ago and it's still making me feel guilty as hell, even though that's not logical at all, and I'm a very logical person." His answer surprised both her and the eavesdropping bartender.
"I was just born logical. Everyone says I'm a genius, but I just have common sense. Everyone is just stupid, that's all." Alcohol was making him babble a bit.
"No, I meant, why are you feeling guilty? I don't give a rat's ass why you're logical." She snapped impatiently. Slightly irked that he was calling people stupid.
"She was cheating on me. With her own criminally insane brother, for god's sake." He bit off each word with ferocity. "Sure, she was adopted, but that's still wrong. She didn't want to tell me, but I found out anyway and dumped her. I might have been a bit irrational though."
"Why would she be tossing with her brother when she's got a guy like you?" It wasn't a true compliment, just a question. One elbow on the counter and her head resting in her hand, she cocked her head to look at him questioningly.
"She didn't mean to. She loved me, but she adored her brother, for reasons unknown. Gaara always looked rather incapable of feeling to me." He'd slipped up, mentioning Temari's brother's name, but he didn't care right now. The blonde's eyes widened.
"The Gaara? The one who brutally killed the burglar breaking into his room at the age of 10? And went on to another rampage when he was 17? Wasn't he locked- oh, yea… he broke out." She let out a low whistle. "That is some impressive soap opera you've got there." He nodded glumly.
"So you decided to come to this shady bar and have a little self-pity party, eh?" She smirked, leaning closer to him. He didn't notice, again. The bartender, surreptitiously close to them and still cleaning the same glass, frowned; this was a very prestigious bar! Some of the Konoha's elite came here! He sighed, and wept silently inside; no one appreciated him and his bar.
"Yeah, I did. What are you doing here, anyway?" He finally turned to look at her.
The alcohol managed to let off long enough for his vision to become clear, and the first feature he saw about her were her large eyes. They were pale azure, with flecks of navy and cerulean, and a midnight blue ring around them. The false lashes she wore magnified her stunning eyes even more. No doubt about it, she was a real knocker. But he cared less; he'd seen his share of beauties, and Temari was definitely one of them, and he'd just dumped her. Her skin was a bit pale, but not enough to look sickly. She wore hip-hugging jeans and a blue halter-top, advertising her curves and slender frame.
She raised one elegant eyebrow. Is this guy blind or something? "I work here." She finally answered, watching him steadily for a reaction. "I'm a pole dancer." He raised his own eyebrows this time, but didn't comment. He should have known; women who were pretty knew they were, and used it to their advantage.
After a long silence, she finally spoke. "You're not much of a talker, are you? Guess you're not a talkative drunk. I hate those more than the violent drunks or the sick drunks. Then you have the weepy drunks, the truthful drunks, the giggly drunks, the sleepy drunks, the groping drunks and the delusional drunks, but talkative drunks are still the worse." He smiled wryly at that; he'd talked more with her in the past hour than one of his friends in a week.
She suddenly smiled mischievously, and leaned closer to him again. She blew softly into his ear, and he unconsciously moved away. She pouted, her pretty face scrunched together in a childishly puzzled frown.
"Why," She said slowly, "are you the only man in this bar who doesn't want to screw me?" Her point was emphasized when one of the leering, drunken men lumbering past tried to grab her chest. Her arm shot out and twisted the arm to an impossible angle, until the man collapsed, wheezing and sobbing, from the pain.
He turned his head to look at her, fixing her with his dark, unwavering gaze. "I don't think with my dick, and I'm not out for a pity-fuck." She laughed not a tinkle-silver-bell-laugh, but a real, full laugh. She liked him; one of the rare men in a long time who hadn't looked at her with lustful hunger.
"Oi, Ino. I'm closing here soon. Get the sorry lump to a cab or something, will ya?" The bartender said, peering closely at the pair as he cleared away the sea of shot glasses.
"Sure, Nick." She replied, sighing to look at the slumped form of the drunken man. But Shikamaru had already gotten up, fishing keys from his back pocket and slouching off to the exit.
She followed him, stepping over the cop-a-grope man. "Hey, hey! You're not sober enough, okay? I'll just call you a cab to get you home." He turned to look at her, and found out that she was just a bit shorter than he was. If he didn't slouch and she took off the heels, she would probably come up to his nose. Perfect kissing distance, a voice at the back of her mind whispered. He scowled fiercely.
"I just used up all my cash for the drinks. And I'm sober enough. It takes a lot of alcohol to get me drunk." She believed him; he didn't walk funny or drunkenly, his speech wasn't slurred, and the haze had gone from his eyes. If she hadn't seen the shot glasses before, she wouldn't have believed this was a drunk man.
"Yeah, but what if the police catches you?"
"I'll take my chances." He replied in his monotone, clearly impatient.
"I'll drive you." She offered suddenly, and surprised both him and herself. He raised his eyebrows again, wondering if she'd gone off her rockers.
"You want to drive a man back to his apartment?" He said incredulously, looking at her up and down. She crossed her arms over her chest, not liking his somewhat sexist remark.
"So? I'm quite sure you're not going to rape me, considering you must've had enough of women. And see these arms? They're not just for pole dancing, you know. I learned karate from when I was 8, and I'm a black belt. I'll just take a bus home when I drop you off." She smiled smugly at him. Take that, chauvinistic male!
He didn't say anything, hoping she'd realize what that stupid action, had it been someone other than him, would lead to. But she seemed resolute, looking at him with her nose in the air and a haughty look in her eyes. He felt he was in déjà vu all over again; he was attracted to her, and that would have been fine, it was normal, but she was acting a lot like Temari was, before she went wonky and decided to commit incest with her murderous brother.
But he sighed, deciding that it was not worth the trouble of arguing with her, and nodded. She grinned triumphantly, and bounced over to him to take his keys. She hopped out of the underground entrance, and waited for him to lead.
Around a block, turned a corner, and there it was – his prized car, an expensive silver BMW manual that his boss had given to him as a sign of appreciation for his work. It was unusually kind of the boss, so he accepted it; and anyway, he didn't want to argue with Tsunade; it took too much energy and she would call him ungrateful and then he'd have to deal with her angry glares for a month.
The girl, Ino, he remembered, was practically squealing when she saw the car. "OH MY GOD! The latest model! I didn't know you were this rich! I mean, most of the idiots that go to that bar are all rich, but you're filthy rich!" She giggled, and splayed herself over the hood of the car, apparently enjoying the feel of "New Car Paint". Shikamaru simply went to the passenger side of the car, and waited patiently for her to unlock it.
She jumped inside immediately when she opened the lock, inhaling the "Fresh Car Leather" scent. She giggled again and bounced in her seat. Shikamaru was beginning to get the feeling that it was a bad idea.
After she inspected everything thoroughly, insulted his taste in music ("Coldplay is SO overrated!), threw away the pine air freshener (""Fresh Car Leather Smell" is the best!"), they finally drove off. Interestingly, she handled herself and the car pretty well, like an expert. She smiled dreamily as she wove through the busy streets of Konoha. Shikamaru leaned against the window, watching the flashing lights go past.
"Oh, yeah, I don't even know your name yet!" She exclaimed, startling him out of his stupor. "I'm Yamanaka Ino." She stated carefully, keeping an eye on him for a reaction.
"I'm Nara Shikamaru." He replied, trying to go back to his light doze. Her name ran a bell somewhere, but he discarded the thought. Sleep was much too inviting than a talk with the blonde.
"Where do you live again?" She asked, her eyes on the road as she took a graceful turn. He sighed; she obviously wanted to talk, she was going exactly on the way to his apartment.
"758 Sakurato Avenue."
"Hmm, a nice, rich suburb. What did you say you worked as?" She asked, turning to look at him while she waited for the lights. She was about as subtle as a brick to the forehead.
"I didn't tell you. I work as a lawyer." Of course, that was just a mild cover-up. He did work as a lawyer sometimes, but mostly he worked for the government. Damn his strategy skills! He wanted to go off and sleep, look after some deer in the wildlife preserve but nooooo, his father just had to send his IQ report to the bloody government. And now he was stuck with his job; at least it paid well.
"What rank?" She questioned absently, bewitched by a billboard advertising make-up. His head shot up; his gaze sharpened and he looked at her carefully. 80 percent of the population of Konoha didn't know or care that lawyers have classes and ranks. To them, it was just either 'lawyer', 'solicitor', or 'attorney', and it all meant the same thing to them. He was one of the very, very few lawyers that managed to become a barrister, and at only 20, the youngest in history.
He pieced the jigsaw together: her speech was unlike that of street people, whom pole dancers usually grew up with and hung around; she learned karate, that wasn't cheap, and she said she'd been learning since she was eight. Her teeth were pearly white and even, quite rare for normal people. She drove the BMW manual with familiarity; most people would be fumbling to use it, and even he had just adjusted himself to the car's demands. She knew that lawyers have ranks; the 20 percent of the Konoha population that knew this were either the rich or elite, or just the lawyers themselves. Her name rang a bell…
And finally it struck him, Yamanaka! Yamanaka corps was one of the companies that secretly ran the world! They specialized in warfare (and strangely, flowers), and were the name underneath everything. People didn't really know that they exist, to them Yamanaka corps was just a large company that dealt with flowers and electronics. But Shikamaru wasn't normal; he knew that everything would eventually lead back to the company. After all, he was Konoha's best military strategist; without him, Konoha would have been taken over a long time ago by the ambitious Otogakure (sound) country.
He let out a breath he didn't know he'd been holding when he realized why the girl was so tense about telling him her name. Yamanaka's not a really common name, but she must have found it safe enough to use if she told me, he thought.
"Why are you a pole dancer?" When you could be living in a palace? She stiffened, not extremely visibly, but enough for Shikamaru to notice. She gave a false, fluttery laugh.
"Well, that's rather personal, but it should be so obvious. I need some quick cash, and being a pole dancer was the quickest way without having to sell my body. And it's exhilarating, being able to collect so much money just by working out my body." She replied in a too-bright voice, suppressing the tingling nerves in her body. She had caught the underlying tone in his question, but wasn't sure.
Shikamaru was pissed off with women lying to him in general. In his defense, he was drunk, so his thoughts had to be off-kilter.
"I'm not sure that the heiress of Yamanaka Corps would need 'quick cash' when she could buy an island with the money she finds in her car seat cushions." His voice dripped with sarcasm. He blinked; that was out of character for him. Usually he wouldn't have cared; he'd just accept the information and got on with life. It must be because she reminds me of Temari, he thought bitterly.
The effects of his words were startling and instantaneous. Her shoulders slumped, her entire posture claiming defeat. She banged her head on the steering wheel, accidentally activating the horn for two brief honks. Other cars honked back in greeting.
"So you know." She replied gravely, the life suddenly out of her, and her brilliant blue eyes were clouded. "Thought I could escape, but unfortunately, it never happens that way, does it?"
Shikamaru frowned; why is she mumbling to herself? The light turned green, and she drove on, closer to his home.
"Escape?" He questioned, curious as to why a girl like her, born with not just silver, but a solid platinum jewel encrusted spoon in her mouth, would want to get away and become a pole dancer.
"My… father wanted me to marry. To further increase his wealth and power, and also to make sure I was in safe hands, where he could always protect me. He loves me though, and I him, but… the person he wanted me to marry, he… my best friend is in love with him, and I can't just break them up like that! So… I refused, my dad got mad, we had a fight, and I ran away…" She sniffled, remembering those painful memories, and the hurtful words she flung at her father, even though he simply had her best interest at heart.
"My dad is of course, going crazy with worry right now, but he still wants me to marry Sasuke. I won't go back until he ditches the idea. He's almost desperate enough to make it public, but I know he won't. The news would be huge, rival companies would probably search and kidnap me.
"I can't use my card, they would track it. And I can't go to friend's houses either and certainly no permanent residence. I can only call my dad through public phones, hundreds of miles away, so I can throw them off. But they're getting smarter." She was really crying now, tears splashing down her pale cheeks. She swiped at them angrily. Damnit! Yamanaka Ino showed weakness to no body! And certainly not this random guy she's driving home!
"So I got a job as a pole dancer, in a place where it doesn't matter what rank of society you are, they accept. But they don't know I'm related to Inoichi, I just laugh it off as a hilarious coincidence. I don't know how to use a fake name, I never respond to it in time, and they always get suspicious." She finished, just in time to arrive in front of his apartment- sorry, penthouse.
She gave another gut wrenching sob. "I just want to give it up, running from place to place; it's just sheer luck that I've managed to escape dad's men. But everytime I think of Sakura, who's had a crush on Sasuke since we were 6, and I have to keep running, because now that Sasuke's finally noticed her, and beginning to like her even, I can't let dad marry me off to him! His family is also pushing at him, urging him to marry me. We both have no choice, so I had to run away…"
Shikamaru regarded her slowly, his calm outer appearance hiding his inner thoughts, which were in turmoil. She was a kindred spirit, like him, whose world had suddenly changed, but she was worse off; she didn't even have a home.
"How long have you been running?" He asked carefully; she'd just stopped crying, and he didn't want her to start again. He hated it when women cried, it always seemed to be his fault too.
"Six months, give or take a few weeks…" She croaked, wiping at her blue eyes again, sniffing. She didn't cry prettily, like Temari did, but really, Temari never cried for real, not even when he'd dumped her. Her tear-stained face was scarlet and blotchy, her nose was red as well, and her eyes were swollen, leaving streaks of eyeliner and mascara down her face. In her attempt to wipe off her tears, she had smudged the smoky eye shadow she wore, making her look like a panda.
He frowned, weighing pros and cons. She'd been running that long? She must be pretty smart if she was able to dodge Inoichi's men. Impressed, he sighed and came to a conclusion that he knew would result in his doom.
"You can stay at my place if you want." He said gravely, every warning bell, alarm, and klaxon in his mind going off into overdrive. He ignored them, and the small part of his conscience, morality, gallantry, whatever, praised him.
She stared at him with eyes as wide as dinner plates. She sniffled again unconsciously, still staring at him with an open mouth.
"Re- really? You'll l-let me?" The hope, relief, joy and gratitude in her voice made everything rather worthwhile for Shikamaru. He smiled, and she noted absently the way the corners of his eyes would crinkle, and the pre-mature crow's feet would disappear.
"Yes." He replied, taking off his seat belt to turn and look at her.
"You mean it?" She asked tearfully.
"Keh, I just said it, didn't I? I'll let you stay until your father gives the idea up." He said, just a tad impatient. He gave her tissues to wipe her streaming eyes with. She took it absently and automatically wiped her eyes clear. She was still staring at him in hopeful disbelief, so he heaved a dramatic sigh and nodded.
She grinned, laughed, and then launched herself at him to wrap her arms around his neck, just to sob with tears of relief, thoroughly soaking the black shirt he wore. Shikamaru felt his face heating up. He patted her awkwardly on the back while he looked off to the side with a soft muttering of "So troublesome…"
So there you have it! The first installment of Paperback Novel! The title is actually a tribute to one of my favorite bands, Nickelback. But for a true ShikaxIno song, listen to Maroon 5's 'She Will Be Loved.' I adore both the song and the band.