Author's Note: It's been a few years...
I want to thank my reviewers. My faithful, faithful reviewers. I read them all and felt extremely guilty when I saw your kind words. Even after all this time people still read my work! I am grateful. And now, I have finally returned with another chapter. Thank you, and I hope you enjoy this - even though it's a little short. This is just to remind you (and myself) that I haven't forgotten about this story 3
Chapter Two, Part One
I was meek and silent the next few days at work. Shikamaru said little to me, but after three days of silence he paused at my desk and sighed heavily. He said to me, "Relax, kiddo. We're both keeping our jobs. Itachi was more amused than insulted." I looked up at him hopefully. "He doesn't think kindly of his younger brother," Shika leaned on my desk, staring at the cloud prints on the opposite wall. He glanced back at me briefly, "but that doesn't give you the right to insult Sasuke." I bit down on my bottom lip, "even if he is an asshole." With that Shika smirked happily (it was the friendliest smirk I have ever seen on his thin lips) and sauntered into his office. I sighed happily with relief, and to Shikamaru's relief (or annoyance would probably be more accurate) I returned to normal.
It was finally Friday and I had not seen either of the Uchiha's since my rather embarrassing incident (I did, however, receive my paycheck). Nor had I seen Ino... until that afternoon.
I was returning from lunch when the door slammed open. She was screaming before she was even in the the office, "Where is that ungrateful sonofa-" I coughed. She waved a piece of paper wildly over her head as she stalked into the room. Her usual suit was winkled and her hair was in a sloppy tail.
"He's in a meeting right now," I said happily. I did not know why she was here, but it was certainly entertaining. I nice break from my party planning, if you will.
"Then perhaps," she thundered, "you'd like to explain this?!" Her free hand slammed on to my desk with such force papers swirled into the air around us, with her other shoved a letter (with the SPC logo across the top) into my face. I caught enough words from it's short contents to recognize it to be a letter of rejection. "You all should be crawling and begging to read my memoir!" she letter the letter fall to my desk as she pointed threateningly at my nose.
"I guess you're just not good enough, Ino." I said helpfully. She stared at me for a second, her eyes nearly bulging out of her head. Then she took a step back, took a deep breath and shrieked.
"SHIIIIIKAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!" She had quite the set of lungs. She huffed as she bore down Shikamaru's office door, almost daring it to stay shut. I've never seen her so furious. It made me feel good about myself. I smiled and waited.
Slowly, the door cracked open.
"SHIKAMARU I KNOW YOU'RE IN THERE," she screeched, "YOU FOOL! I'M GOING TO CHOP OFF YOUR--" I coughed, "AND FEED IT TO YOU!" she then flew into his office with such speed I barely saw her move. A young looking blond boy came sailing out shortly after and the door slammed shut.
I hurried from behind my desk to help the blond, Naruto was his name if I recalled my day-timer correctly, to his feet. I said, "Sorry about that, they might be a while." His piercing blue eyes stared at me innocently. Then he burst into a slitting grin. He rubbed his nose as he started to laugh heartily.
"He's dead, eh?" he chuckled as he flopped into one of the plush chairs. "Ole Shika, he never stood a chance against Ino. Makes you wonder why he tries." He stretched his feet out and clasped his hands behind his head. "Eh?" I blinked at him, then went back to my desk.
"Somebody has to stand up to her," the pig.
"Nah," Naruto said, never taking his eyes off of me. I was starting to get uncomfortable. "I think he likes it," He smiled broader when I started to squirm under his solid stare. "You're cute." I glared at him.
"I think it would be best for you to leave. I will call you when Shikamaru is free again."
"Oh, I don't have business with Shika," he giggled. He left it at that and continued to watch me. I continued to try and convince him to leave. When I realized he wasn't going to budge, I did my best to ignore him (and the angry yelling coming from inside Shika's office).
It was when I was huffing and puffing over the party meal list when I noticed Naruto's yellow hair above me.
"You should have a selection of salads. And maybe noodles - Ramen!" he said helpfully, putting a finger on my paper. I noticed his fingernails were dirty. I didn't look up at him.
"What would you know?" I said stiffly. Who was this guy, anyway?
"I've been to a lot of parties." He chuckled. "I could take you to one sometime, eh?" He sounded hopeful.
"No thanks." I looked up at him now, in time to see his face sink in disappointment.
"It'd be fun! And educational!" He whined.
"No," What an idiot. He was cute, I'd admit, but I just wasn't interested. We continued to bicker for a while, so neither of us noticed the door open and shut.
"Idiot, what are you doing here?" Naruto and I both snapped to attention when Sasuke spoke. Couldn't he at least knock? What a jerk. I mean, technically it was his office, but that didn't mean he could ignore common courtesy. Even though this was a public office... but still! Humph.
"Sasuke!" Naruto cried happily, "My buddy! My pal! My bestest chum in the whole world!"
"No," Sasuke interrupted smoothly, looking down at my list. I tried to cover it up but he reached down and snatched it before I could hide it.
"Awe man, you don't even know what I'm going to say, Jerk." Naruto physically wilted.
"You need to have a salad selection," Sasuke said to me, placing the list neatly in front of me.
"SasukeSasukeSasuke!" Naruto bounced on the balls of his feet.
"Don't you wash your hands?" Sasuke glanced at Naruto then back at me, "What the hell is going on in there?" he jerked his head towards Shika's office.
"Oi, Jerk! Listen to me!"
I said, "Ino Yamanaka-" and Sasuke held up his hand to stop me (I suppose he knew exactly who she was) and rubbed his temples. Naruto continued to dance around the room trying to get Sasuke's attention. Naruto was distracting me from Sasuke. My God, even under annoying pressure he was good looking. My heart was still recovering from when he suddenly appeared in the room. Be still, my heart!
"Fine. If it will make you go away, what do you want, Dead Last?" Naruto brightened (then darkened again, "Hey! I'm no Dead Last you jerk!").
"I found you an unpublished best seller," Naruto said triumphantly, his hands planted firmly on his hips. Sasuke sighed heavily and left the office. Just outside the doors he said, "Miss Haruno, call me when Shikamaru has a free moment. I greatly wish to speak with him." and he was gone.
Naruto winked at me and danced after him. I heard him loudly declair that he also needed fifty bucks the two went down the hall ("No... Why?")
"He sounds cute," Hinata said earnestly when I told her about my day that evening. I could sense her desire to meet Naruto even over the phone. I didn't need to see her face to know that she was already daydreaming of him.
"He was weird," I said, hoping to distract her. "And annoying." I added. And Sasuke didn't like him, I thought to myself, that must mean he's awful.
Wait. Since when did I side with Sasuke?
I decided I liked Naruto. "I'll invite him to coffee next time we go," I promised my best friend. I had to hold my phone away from my face as it gushed enthusiasm and delight.