Me and My Shadow

By: OtakuSailorV

Ino stared at the ornate little box thoughtfully, poking at her lower lip with one finger. It didn't seem that heavy, but judging by how tightly Shikamaru was holding onto it, it had to contain something valuable.

"So, what's in it?" she questioned.

"Nothing," Shikamaru replied, looking as if he wanted to get away from her. Bored, he was looking in another direction entirely as he spoke, seeming almost anxious to be off amongst the crowd. Ino didn't believe him for a second, there was something wrong here.

She huffed, looking at the few bits of sewing supplies that he had purchased before she had come upon him in the streets. Her anger at not being informed of the box's contents soon turned into amusement. Was Shikamaru trying his hand at sewing then? Perhaps making something for someone special? She stifled a burst of laughter at the thought. Smiling coyly up at him, she continued to poke at her lip, bent slightly to get a better view of the box.

He caught the look out of the corner of his eye and glanced over carelessly, only to turn with a jerk sharply. Pink tinged his cheeks and he set his teeth against a small cry of surprise. "What?" he demanded roughly of her.

Ino reached forward and, before he could react, she flipped the top of the box open. He cried out in surprise and frustration, hurrying to shut the lid back, but the damage had already been done.

A black wisp darted out from under the lid, barely a flicker of movement, but it contrasted so greatly with the other colors around it that the two noticed it immediately. Ino gasped in surprise and jumped back, arms raised to defend herself. Shikamaru cursed between clenched teeth and took off into the crowd.

"Idiot," he shot at her sharply as he passed. Ino shot after him, vexed at being called an 'idiot.' She yelled at him several times, but he never replied, glancing once over his shoulder at her to glare.

"What was that thing anyway?" she asked when she caught up with him, nearly running head-long into a merchant that had stepped out to call attention to his stall's wares.

"My shadow," he muttered under his breath.

Ino nearly fell over, stupefied by what he had just said. There was no way that he was serious. Who had ever heard of someone's shadow getting loose and running about? She quirked a smile of sheer disbelief after a moment. "What? You're not serious," she replied, her tone uncertain.

He stared back over his shoulder at her grumpily, his steady gaze being his only reply to her question. She knew him well enough by now to know that he didn't joke around much, didn't she? He stopped shortly thereafter, causing her to bump abruptly into the back of him. He glanced at her briefly before looking around carefully, investigating all the objects around him with an expert's eye. Ino opened her mouth to speak, but he shushed her with a wave of his hand.

Ino let out a sigh of frustration, putting her hands on her hips grumpily. She turned away, prepared to leave Shikamaru behind. This wasn't any of her business, if Shikamaru wanted to play around as if he were chasing his shadow, then let him. She had other things to do.

There, a movement caught her attention as it fleeted daringly by her peripheral vision. She whirled to face it instinctually and was surprised when she saw nothing at all. She stared at the spot thoughtfully, glancing over at Shikamaru who apparently had not seen the movement in the shadows at all. She drew a breath, pointing at the spot where she had seen the movement as she turned to speak to Shikamaru. The words turned to a shriek of pain and anger as she was pulled backward by her ponytail.

Shikamaru turned with a jerk as Ino stumbled backward, about to loose balance and completely tip over. He jumped forward, diving at the ground at Ino's feet.

"What are you doing?" Ino cried, both hands wrapped around the base of her ponytail in an effort to fend off whoever was pulling it. Was this Sakura's doing? She fumed and spun in an effort to throw her offender, but they clung still to her hair with devilish strength.

And then she was released, a black shape darting out from under her feet and re-joining the crowd of people not but five feet from the pair. Shikamaru cursed, pulling himself up off of the ground; Ino whined angrily and glared after the shadow, rubbing her scalp. The beautiful hair she'd grown out for Sasuke, mangled by such offending hands as Shikamaru's rogue shadow! She'd get that shadow now!

"After it," she cried and immediately gave chase, charging far ahead of Shikamaru, who seemed somewhat taken aback by her vigor.

Shikamaru took up the chase after her, somewhat dumbfounded by her sudden change in attitude. He hadn't seen her this angry since Haruno Sakura had ended up in the same genin cell as Uchiha Sasuke. Maybe he'd end up recapturing that shadow faster than he'd thought…

Even with how angry Ino had become by the shadow's antics, it still took the pair hours to hunt down the rogue shadow. It could hide anywhere, mimicking another's shadow or jumping out at them only to retreat before they could properly react.

Ino, enraged now, tried several unsuccessful jutsu's on the shadow, ignoring Shikamaru's grumbling that the jutsu's wouldn't work. Each time she'd complete a jutsu, the shadow would mockingly tug her hair, knock her down or otherwise tease her. She only grew angrier with each failed attempt to outwit the shadow.

She tugged at her head, pressing her palms against her temples in rage. "How are we supposed to catch this thing if we can't use a jutsu on it!" she cried, stabbing her kunai into the ground.

"We wouldn't have to catch it if someone hadn't been stupid enough to set it free in the first place," Shikamaru grumbled, leaning against a wall with his arms crossed.

Ino turned on him, eyes blazing. She pointed a finger at him that shook with rage. "You're not even doing anything!"

"I'm concentrating," he replied crossly and closed his eyes.

Ino threw her arms up in exasperation, her kunai slipping out accidentally. She ignored it, opening her mouth to ridicule him once more. The kunai landed in the dirt point-down with a thick 'thunk.'

Shikamaru flinched at the same time, his eyes shot open in pain and surprise. Ino halted before she had even begun to speak, staring at him with her hands on her hips. He motioned for her to turn around, grasping at one of his feet as if in pain. She simply stared at him, one eyebrow quirked.

"The kunai…" he hissed, his voice pained.

Ino turned to see that behind her the shadow was writhing on the ground, pulling at the shadow of the kunai in a futile effort to free itself. Ino stared at it blankly for a moment before realization hit her and she grinned wickedly. Shikamaru's shadow would have paled had it been able to, and it increased its efforts with renewed vigor, eager to be away from her.

"Now I've got you," Ino purred evilly.

Ino seemed quite content now as she stitched the feet of Shikamaru and his shadow together carefully. Shikamaru was seated in the dirt, grimacing each time she missed his first layer of skin and struck a nerve. For all of her claims to be the perfect kunoichi, she was a horrible seamstress. She didn't seem bothered at all though, happy that she had caught the stupid shadow that had taunted her for so long.

"Hey, watch what you're doing," he grumbled at her when she stuck him again with her needle.

She didn't seem to hear him, humming a song to herself happily. His lips twitched as he looked at her and then he turned away, a tinge of pink highlighting his cheeks again.

Heh, I just adore this pairing and it struck me the other day that the scene in Peter Pan where Wendy is sewing Peter's shadow back on was adorably cute to put them in. I think fanart would probably have been a better idea for this though, but hey, I did that too. Haha!

Due to issues later on in the series, this event will probably have taken place before the chuunin exams. Heh, poor Ino's ponytail…

Thank you for reading this far and reviews will be greatly appreciated! Arigatou and have a good summer everyone! Ja'ne!