Not Love: Loneliness

Shikamaru pushed Ino against a wall as he smothered her lips in a kiss. She wrapped one arms around his neck to draw him closer. His tongue slid over her lips. She parted her lips to give him entry. He explored her mouth and tasted her hollow passion. A sound was heard behind them. They untangled from each other in a hurried manner that was free from any embarrassment or guilt.

Naruto ran down the hallway towards them. "Huh? What are you two doing standing around her?" He didn't wait for them to answer, though they wouldn't have anyway. "Iruka-sensei is letting us train more before the next round of the exams. You better hurry."

They followed him silently. Naruto running, them walking. They entered the room and went up to the platform. The previous day they had all picked numbers to decide who would battle. The first to battle was some girl named Ten-ten and their other team member. He seemed to be losing. Badly!

Ino leaned against the rail and watched the battle with extremely little interest. Next to her, Shikamaru did the same. She didn't want to be here at the moment. But she didn't particularly want to be alone with Shikamaru again. She was just plain bored.

Across from her she saw Sasuke. It felt as if her heart had just started beating. She stared longingly at him. He was so perfect. He had everything. He was smart, he had good looks, and was probably the strongest person that was entered in the exams.

Shikamaru glanced towards Ino. She was staring at Sasuke, he knew. He didn't really care. He had no desire to be with Ino. Or any other girl in the exams. At least, none that he'd met thus far. He had no actual affection for her, but it was better than the alternative…

Ino sighed. She'd much rather have been kissing Sasuke. That would be like a dream. She'd take anything from Sasuke that she could get. A smile, a few words, even a glance in her direction would suffice for her. Anything that would let her hope he could at least know she was alive. That she existed. There were no such signs though. She sighed.

"Match Ten-Ten." Iruka-sensei called out. "The next match. Five and seven." Two people she didn't recognize stepped out. She wasn't up to this. She walked out the room. Shikamaru followed, explaining that she didn't feel well and he would check on her.

On the opposite side, Sakura wondered what was wrong with Ino. Though they were rivals, Sakura worried about her use-to-be friend. She asked for permission to leave. She saw Ino and moved closer to hear her talking, keeping as quiet as possible.

Ino broke into tears. She felt horrible. Horrible and pathetic and alone. The person she loved so dearly would never pay attention to her. She felt a terrible stinging pain in her chest. In every heart beat. It hurt her to breathe. She then felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned around to see Shikamaru. She exploded with rage. "Why the hell did you follow me?"

"Because I felt like it." He said coldly. His ice seared over her heart. The icy wind eased the burning she felt for a moment.

"Why? You don't have a reason to! You don't care about me!"

"I don't have to." He said with just as much cruelty as the first time. He moved closer to her. She stepped back from him. Her pain was slowed again. She found it hard to continue crying, but she had a bit of rage to release.

"I hate you!" she said. The pain stopped with the truthfulness of the statement. She had stopped crying. Sasuke was worthy of her tears. Shikamaru was not.

"I know you do." He said. He leaned forward, pressing his lips to hers. Her heart felt cold and hard. She no longer felt any emotions. She never felt anything when she kissed him. In truth, she didn't want Shikamaru. She didn't even like him. He felt the same. She just didn't want to be alone. Being alone would be the worst thing that could happen to her. That's one reason that made her a good ninja. She wasn't afraid of being killed or any pain that would come. She just couldn't stand to be alone.

Sakura gasped. She covered her mouth with her hands. Shikamaru and Ino. It couldn't be. There was no way. She left quickly. The shock following her back to the others.

Ino remembered when she a Shikamaru first began to secretly date each other. She had been sitting in an empty classroom, not long after the teams were picked for the exams. She was on the floor. Her kness to her chest, her arms around her. She had been crying then, too. She was startled when he'd come in. "What do you want." she had yelled.

He looked at her. "You're alone. You don't like that, huh?"

"No. I hate it."

He leaned down and pressed his lips to hers. Her eyes had widened in surprise. She remained how she was. He stopped kissing her and looked her in her eyes. "I do, too. Be with me."

She couldn't believe this. "I don't want you." she had told him.

"I don't like you either. But we're on the same team. It would be easier to hide. And you wouldn't have to be alone." he told her. "Dealing with me is better than that, at least."

He was right. That was better than that. She had pulled him to her and kissed him back. This would be better than trying to date someone, she had told herself. And even now, she still thought that. He would expect nothing from her except her presence. She didn't have to love him, like him, trust him, she didn't even really have to talk to him. Aside from what they did for the exams.

It worked for them. They didn't owe each other anything. Not affection. Not love. Loneliness is the only thing they had to stop. Besides that, they had nothing. They just kept one another from being lonely.