Yeah so, if the summary didn't do it justice but you're curious, the story is Ino/Shika, however instead of getting together you are seeing them already together and maybe even the split and all the factors that are causing it. I don't even know if I'll really allow them to split (I love them together so much) but I'm starting to wonder if it would be a better ending – BUT SINCE THIS IS THE FIRST CHAPTER, we shouldn't be worrying about endings, especially since I might not finish it (I'm in the habit of doing that). I wrote this story when I was a little depressed and wanted a deep Ino/Shika fic (not saying mine is deep, you may think its about as deep as crap in a toilet bowl)

On to technical stuff: There are minor spoilers for chapters 327/328

And the amazing disclaimer we love to hate: I do NOT own Naruto.

So here is! To good reviews, to keep this little train-a-chuggin'!

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For the third time in a half an hour Ino watched him light a cigarette. Not just any cigarette, but Asuma's favorite kind. He smoked often now, maybe just to relive the moments with their dead sensei, but today he was already through two packs, and she couldn't blame him. His shoulders sagged, and he looked like Hell, but Shikamaru wouldn't cry, shinobi didn't cry, even if it was for a fallen comrade like Chouji. Ino stood beside Sakura, afraid to approach her own husband for the fear of his reaction. Sakura's eyes, filled with tears, revealed a friend's understanding of Ino's situation, as she patted Ino's hand comfortingly.

Ino felt ashamed, after Asuma's death she had been the one to give Shikamaru comfort – it had been the main reason why he had asked her out in the first place. Shikamaru had been agitated since Chouji's death and no matter how hard she tried he wouldn't respond to her warm embraces or soothing words. In fact, he hadn't said much to her at all short of a mumbled word or two at dinner. When he had left for work – no goodbye, when he came home – no hello, and the endless cycle of silence continued. When the service was over and only the few real friends Chouji had were beginning to leave, Ino found the strength to confront him.

"I'm so sorry Ino, good luck, I'll call later to make sure you're safe and sound alright?" Sakura broke from Sai's arms only to wrap Ino in a motherly hug sniffing loudly.

Ino could only nod, watching her best friend walk down the small hill arm-in-arm with her new husband, and frown. She turned her sight back towards Shikamaru as countless of their other friends passed by her, nodding their condolences. She waited until the final person had left before taking a shaky step toward him. "Shikamaru?" she said it gently, but with the blaring silence around them, she was sure he heard. She took another tentative step, reaching a hand out to run along his back as she came to his side "Let's go home, it's cold out here and it's been a long day."

He didn't even look at her, exhaling the smoke and throwing the cigarette to the ground, "Go on without me. I'll be back soon."

She quickly looked away as she felt the tears fill her eyes, "Alright, I'll make dinner – "

"Don't bother" he cut in "I'm not hungry."

She nodded before turning away from him and following the path Sakura and Sai had made. She made sure she was well away before she allowed her sobs to escape. Of course he'd want to be alone, she couldn't replace Chouji, and she couldn't be that friend. When she reached their front lawn she stared up at the house, all the happy memories stared down at her mockingly as she charged through the front door. She threw her winter coat on the couch and headed straight for the bathroom, a shower would cover up the unrelenting sobs if he happened to come home to early.

"Chouji" she passed a picture of the three of them on the mantelpiece from their team 10 days. Her face was smiling widely; Chouji looked content with the bag of chips in his hand, and Shikamaru looked bored but oddly happy. She bit her lip, turning the picture on its face, those days died with Asuma and any happiness they may have had as three teammates died with their teammate. She turned her back to the fireplace, memories filled with Asuma and Chouji's smiling faces.

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It had been a week since Chouji's burial. Seven long and silent days in the Nara House. Ino had stopped having one sided conversations in a vain attempt to seduce an utter from her husband, and even began sleeping on the couch at night when she just couldn't bare to be near him. She had tried everything, from smiles to starting arguments and nothing fazed him. She finished her soup quickly, not looking up as she carried the bowl to the sink.

"I'm going to Sakura's." Nothing. "I might stay the night, like old times. Sai is out on a mission" she sighed as she reached for her coat and her keys. "You can fend for yourself until I get back" She looked back at him once as she opened the door, his eyes were trained on her, deep and emotionless, like he was trained to stare at an enemy. She felt rage well up and she threw her bag down, stomping toward him with one purpose.

She slapped him – hard. "Don't you ever look at me like that, and get your act together Shikamaru or I swear Chouji won't be the only one you'll have lost!" and like ice in her bloodstream she shivered, turning away and grabbing her bag and slamming the door shut behind her, realizing the full weight of her words. By the time Sakura opened her door to greet her with a warm smile; Ino was shaking and trembling in tears.

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Ino held the tea in her hands, savoring the warmth of the cup as it heated her chilled bones. "I don't know what to do now that I've said it. Am I supposed to just forget it, like it never happened? Or am I supposed to take it seriously? I can't leave him Sakura, he's a part of me now, and he's all I have left…"

Sakura lowered a warm hand onto the blonde's shoulder. "Maybe he'll actually take the hint? I mean he's so smart he's got to be realizing what this is doing to you. I'm sure he is just really sad over Chouji; they were best friends, if anyone should know about their connection it's you. Give him another week, I mean, you've never had trouble like this before."

Ino nodded, closing her eyes and inhaling the tea. "How are things with you and Sai?"

Sakura smiled, "We are great, he's still a little awkward though, embarrassed to show his affection" her head tilted as if caught in a memory, a laugh escaping "Every time he wants to kiss me in public he gets really agitated, never knowing if its okay or not."

Ino gave a small laugh, but was not amused. She doubted any of Konoha's funniest comedians could bring a smile to her face. "I'm tired, do you mind if we turn in early?"

"Not at all" Sakura had the blankets folded neatly on an armchair and spread them out. Throwing the pillows onto the floor Ino quickly followed, claiming a firm and cold pillow for her own and lying down on it. "Good night Sakura," and for the first time in about two weeks, she got a good night in return. .