Author's Note: Spoiler to Chapter 328! What else can I say but ENJOY!
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto!
In Memories of Team Ten
"I am exhausted after the mission, dad," Ino held out a smile to Inoichi before she stepped onto the staircase, "I am going to take a short nap. Call me when dinner is ready, all right?" Without even waiting for her father's answer, Ino rushed into her bedroom and closed the door behind her quickly, too quickly, that it was almost impossible for anyone to see her face.
Letting out a tired sigh, she fell onto the soft mattress and stared at the white ceiling aimlessly. Asuma sensei... He was gone and there was no doubt about it. She saw his body frozen before her eyes and felt his heart stopped with her hands. He is gone. From today onward, there would be no one kind enough to treat them to lunch. There would be no one smoking around their life anymore. There would be no... There would be no more Sarutobi Asuma walking around in Konoha.
"Ino, you are confident and you know how to take care of yourself," Asuma forced out the word with his remaining breathe, "As for Chouji and Shikamaru, they are clumsy so take care of them."
Rolling to the other side of the bed so that she was now facing the wall, memories of the team flashed in her head like clips. The smoke rings he blew, the earrings he gave them as a present, the dishes of food he bought for them, were all wandering in her mind right now. But, she hid her emotions well. She almost managed to hide her feelings better than Shikamaru did.
The look on Shikamaru's face, when they were in Tsunade's office, was definitely unreadable. He looked calm. He could even explain the whole scenario to Hokaga-sama without any pause or mumble in his words. He even stated twice that Asuma was dead without his voice going shaky. For a lazy and careless shinobi like him, he sure knew how to trick people.
But he didn't trick Ino. She knew, deep in his heart, he was defeated.
And she was sure that Shikamaru was the one to be taken care of first.
- - -
It had been a week since Asuma's death was announced and since the whole team gathered up together. It is time to pay sensei a visit. Ino combed her blonde hair slowly, unlocking the tangled strands. Instead of choosing her usual purple outfit to wear for the day, she decided to wear something simpler, less colorful to match her mood. She put on the pair of silver earrings Asuma gave her, and tied her hair up into a high ponytail. She wasn't in the mood of putting on make up either.
"Ino, don't lose to Sakura in ninjutsu or in love..."
Never mind, maybe she would decorate herself a bit before she stepped out onto the street.
Today was unusually cold and cloudy. Konoha was usually filled with sunshine and laughter in this time of the year, but why not today? She held the bouquet of white flowers closer to her chest. She was going to the graveyard first.
Placing the flowers down and giving the tombstone a 90 degree bow for the longest time possible, she held her tears and joked softly, "Asuma-sensei, looks like your cigarette smoke is polluting the sky today." She smiled, remembering how she always teased him about smoking..."when he was still alive."
Turning away from the tombstone without any other words, she slowly walked out from the woods and into the heart of Konoha. Passing by villagers and comrades on the street, questions like, "It sure is cold today, eh?" and "How's everything going for the team?", popped out from different people, but she always managed to reply them with a fake smile.
Then, unconsciously, she stopped walking when she was near Asuma's house. The smell of his cigarette smoke rushed into her nose. No, that's impossible. She leaned her head against the wooden door and hoped that her nose wasn't deceiving her. Surprisingly, she realized that the door was not locked so she walked in.
"This can't be," Ino mumbled under her breath when she saw the inside of the house clouded up with smoke. She took a step forward unsteadily, "He is gone. There shouldn't be anythi-" Then, she saw someone seated by the shougi board and actually playing it. Sensei... She rubbed her eyes and blinked in confusion. She couldn't really see clearly since the smoke was getting into her eyes and the tears were swelling up as well. Asuma sensei...
But it wasn't him.
Ino stopped in front of the person who was smoking and playing shougi. She weakly spoke up, "What...what are you doing here, Shikamaru?" He didn't reply. Ino squatted down across from him and stared at his face, "Shikamaru, I thought...you have a mission...today. Why are you-"
"I don't want to go," He replied between coughs.
She couldn't believe this! He accepted the mission but decided not to show up? This thought angered her, "What do you mean you don't want to go!? You-" Tears fell from her eyes but she wiped them away with the back of her hand, "The stupid smoke is...the smoke is getting into my eyes!" She is crying... She dried the tears again...and it isn't because of the smoke. "Stop smoking, damn it!" She slapped the cigarette out of Shikamaru's fingers.
But he didn't listen. He took the cigarette pack out from his pocket and lit up another one.
"You lose again..." He suddenly spoke up quietly and rearranged the chess to start a new game.
Is he playing shougi by himself and- Her heart almost torn itself into pieces when she saw the scene in front of her. Ino caught his hand, "Shikamaru, don't do this," Her fingers tightened around his, "you have a mission to attend. Please don't-"
"I don't want to go," He pulled his hand away from her cold one, "I just don't want to-"
Then, her hand slapped his face. Hard.
"If you don't want to go, why did you accept the mission in the first place!?" Ino stood up from her spot, "If you think playing shougi and smoking cigarette will bring sensei back to life, you are wrong, Nara Shikamaru! You think you are the only one depressed over his death? I am too! But I managed to keep up with my work and responsibility! Just look at yourself!"
He didn't lift his head up to look at her.
"You don't have to sit here and blame yourself for not being able to save him," Ino sucked the cold air into her lungs, "Make your life worthwhile even after sensei is gone. This is your life!"
He remained frozen at his spot, "Like you said, this is my life. I want to stay this way and it is certainly none of your business."
Ino shook her head and sobbed out, "I am so disappointed in you," then, her voice turned into a scream, "and HE will be disappointed too!"
With that, she ran out of the house.
But if only Ino took another look of Shikamaru before she ran out of the house, she would noticed that he was crying, too.
- tbc -
Author's Note: this is going to be a very short fiction with only two and three chapters, hopefully. anyways, I am still very upset about Asuma's death. And please don't flame if you think this is badly written because...I just wrote what I wanted after I read the manga! Well, like it or hate it? Please review, I will definitely encourage me to keep up with the work. Last but not least, Rest In Peace, Asuma.