Now We Are Awake

Disclaimer: Naruto and all characters belongs to Masashi Kishimoto. This story is purely for entertainment purposes. (Though the subject matter is damn near canon…cough)

Note: This takes place according to the manga, and there may be spoilers ahead, so beware. I believe Shikamaru is 18 years old about this time…

Also, this is slash, man-on-man-love, Shonen-Ai (maybe yaoi later on) MxM, etc.

Hurrah for "Live", for their loverly music. It helped me write this.

"Light up a cigarette she said, and calm the fck down…You've got a serious side to you that'd give the whole world a frown." ;

And of course to Kishimoto, for his spooty characters and visuals. 3

On a side note, This is a complete re-write of the original first chapter, which I lost to formatting. --

A sinewy, dexterous hand crushed a burnt-out cigarette onto the wet stone. Nara Shikamaru stared at his reflection in the black Konoha memorial, long finished with tracing over the names with an index finger. He decided not to do that anymore. The stone kind of pissed him off now. It praised people for giving up everything in life that they used to fight for. In the end they fought for an idea, the idea of dying honorably. Was there truly such a thing? Shikamaru wasn't so sure. He'd developed the belief that suicide is simply the act of giving up. People who didn't have the strength to go on living destroy their lives, and it wasn't always their fault. Nonetheless, it was troublesome.

"Shikamaru-kun!" a sharp, demanding voice called his name and made him flinch. Ino walked up behind him and rapped the back of his head with her fist.

"How could you be so callous?! Putting out a cigarette on the memorial stone!?" The blonde girl was clearly exasperated, placing her

hands on her hips and bending over to glare fiercely at her team-mate. Shikamaru rubbed the back of his head with disdain and said

nothing, continuing to stare with stubborn vehemence at the dark plaque. He lowered his gaze only after hearing a muffled sniffling to his

right, and turned to glance sympathetically at his best friend and original team-mate, Akimichi Chouji. Chou looked very different with his

long hair and armor plates, which Shikamaru had never seen him cry in until recently. The larger boy had gripped his long-sleeves in a

kind of comforting self-embrace, and was trying futilely to keep from letting little sobs escape his mouth. Shikamaru got up from his

crouching position in front of the stone and walked over to sit behind Chou, keeping his back to his friend. He dared not try to comfort

Chou physically, but he had to at least let him know that his pain was being acknowledged. He crossed his arms and hunched over as Ino

ruffled Chou's hair reassuringly. Normally Ino would have taken the opportunity to laugh at Chouji, and Shikamaru would have gone up

in arms against her, but this was a different time. It had been about two weeks since Shikamaru had gone on that horrible mission with his

sensei, and lost the man to death. No one had ever died under Shikamaru's guidance, he had sworn to make sure of that after nearly

losing Chou three years before in the hunt for Sasuke-kun. Shikamaru made a face, he had never liked Sasuke, and after that incident, he

was the only person who really filled him with unbridled hatred. The Uchiha had always been hailed as the strongest of his generation, but

he was really soft in the head, and a lot of people had died because of his selfish decisions. If he ever found Sasuke, Shikamaru decided

firmly, he would make sure the sulky, stuck-up bastard understood all the damage he had caused. If Shikamaru got the chance, he

decided, he'd beat Sasuke's face to a pulp. Shikamaru got up and walked back down the path, lighting up another cigarette. He had not

intended to continue the habit after Asuma-sensei had died, but it had stuck with him. Must be the nicotine. Asuma had smoked when

things were okay, and staved off in times of stress. Shikamaru was the direct opposite, gnawing irritably at the stick and pulling at his

ponytail. He scowled again, as he caught a couple of kunoichi glancing admiringly at him. They all thought the smoking was cool.

Shikamaru wished someone cared enough to try and break him of the habit. There were enough things a shinobi could worry about dying

of without adding lung cancer to the list. As if on cue, Ino sidled up beside him and did a girly little walk that seemed to repel the would-

be admirers. Shikamaru suppressed a sigh, wishing Chouji would finish paying his respects and walk on the other side of him. He disliked

being alone with Ino. Shikamaru had realized years ago the invisible wars that went on in his team. Ino was one of those girls who had

always pined over Sasuke-kun, but had unconsciously developed attachments to more accessible boys. Shikamaru, in this case. He

realized this before Ino did, and afterwards became increasingly aggravated concerning her behaviour towards Chouji. It was very

simple, Chouji and Shikamaru were best friends. They spent a lot of time together. Ino liked Shikamaru, was annoyed by his high regard

for someone whom she could not even give the time of day to, and so constantly tormented the Akimichi. Shikamaru had developed

'special' feelings for Chou, but never told anyone, and so had to endure a double-edged sword whenever his team interacted with each other.

"Ah, Shikamaru-kun…why DID you put out your cigarette on the memorial?"

Ino had bent over slightly as she walked, folding her hands behind her back in an attempt to look cute and endearing. Shikamaru met her

coquettish smile with a flat expression, wondering briefly if she had only been upset because he hadn't finished his cigarette before putting

it out. She was getting over Asuma's death more quickly than either of them. He heard heavy footsteps behind him and sighed out his

relief in a large plume of smoke as Chou caught up beside him. Chou made a face and rubbed his eyes.

"Nah, Shikamaru-kun," Ino grinned, shifting into her teasing mode.

"Chouji just finished crying his eyes out, don't make him tear up again." She giggled into her hand. Chouji sniffed again, and Shikamaru

stared straight ahead, thinking maybe he would blow smoke in Ino's direction this time. His plan was foiled, however, as Ino cheerfully

announced her departure to help out at the flower shop, and stalked away, hips swinging in another of her girly walks. Chouji giggled in her direction,

"She tries too hard. Like she's afraid no one will notice her behind if she doesn't wiggle it like a bumblebee." Shikamaru snorted out short

little streams of smoke from his nose in laughter. He didn't laugh often, and it was even rarer now, given current events. He decided that

his hilarity was mostly due to pent-up stress. He'd needed that laugh. He was just about to thank Chouji for it when he felt the cigarette yanked from his mouth.

"I wish you'd stop that…" Chou muttered as he ground the stick underfoot.

"As hard as you work yourself these days, you need clean air in your lungs." Chouji paused after his little speech, and scratched the back of his head sheepishly.

"Nah, Shikamaru, tell you what…Asuma wanted me to diet, ne? So if I do that, you should quit smoking. What do you think?" Chouji

placed a finger to his lips ponderingly after he finished speaking, watching Shikamaru for a reaction to the deal. Shikamaru barely

processed the last bit, still wondering at the crumpled cigarette on the ground. He felt all tingly, absently rubbing his arms to shake off the feeling.

"No Chou," Shikamaru shook his head with a bemused smile. Chouji's expression sank a little, disappointed at what he thought was outright denial on Shikamaru's part.

"You don't need to diet. Just eat healthier food, but eat all you like. I can respect Asuma's last wishes, but I think he was just concerned for your health…I really hate smoking. It's just addictive. I do it when I'm stressed out, I guess. I'll quit, but you'll have to stop me when you see me start, okay?" Shikamaru smiled and nodded at Chouji.

Chou blinked a couple times, then chuckled and rubbed his nose with a finger. He wasn't quite sure what to say to that, but he liked

hearing someone tell him he didn't need to diet. Shikamaru never seemed to think badly of him, and it still surprised him to this day.

"Yeah, I can do that, if you need it." Chou nodded agreeably and smiled a little.

"I have to go home now, though." Chou mumbled, scratching the back of his head again."Dad wants me home for dinner, we're cooking

for Asuma-sensei's wife." He added somberly, turning to leave. Shikamaru noted that Chou was kind enough to say Asuma-sensei's

wife, not his widow. They waved curtly at each other and parted ways. Shikamaru trotted in the direction of a tall water-tower, and made

his way to the top using his chakra. Anything to be alone at this moment. Once at the summit, he laid back on the surface with his knees

drawn up, and hugged his arms to himself. There were a lot of clouds today. Shikamaru sighed.

"Maybe I was wrong to hold it inside all this time…" he whispered to himself.

(Whoo, first chapter. It's like OMG, there's a plot. 0.0; Um, please R&R. It makes me smile, and motivates me to write to the best of my abilities, which this is not. p)