Pairings: Shika x Saku. Squint and you'll miss it Chouji x Shika & Ino x Saku.
Warnings: Non-canon couple. I cannot stress that enough. Character death. Vagueness. Possible OOC for Shikamaru.
Summary: Sakura and Ino are a story incomplete. Shikamaru will fix it, the way he couldn't fix her.
Dedication: For Epiff Annie. She asked for ShikaSaku, and I tried my best to deliver. I'm trying to think of a happier plot bunny for these two. On the bright(?) side, I've discovered that I can't write this particular pairing well unless Sasuke's either asexual, or completely out of the picture.
I'm so sorry! (bows)
Notes: Experimenting with a new writing style. Oi.
Disclaimer: Not mine—could you imagine the chaos?
Yamanaka Ino is being buried today.
Nara Shikamaru knows he should be crying, should be wailing, should at least respect her enough to grieve, dammit! but the tears are not coming, and so he stands, stoic and numb, eyes dry, hands clenched into tight fists.
He is a nothing boy.
Next to him, Chouji is sobbing. Every tear that trails down his too-gaunt cheek is a needle that pierces through Shikamaru's seeming indifference.
It was a routine mission, a scenario they'd practiced countless times before and they were jounin, dammit not green little genin. It was familiar.
He should have stopped her, could have warned her, would have protected her…
Should have could have would have turns into a haunting refrain, a cacophony of voices that play together against the backdrop of her too-slow descent to rain-slick ground.
Nara Shikamaru wishes he could stop thinking.
Haruno Sakura is approaching the stone, and as he watches, pink and green blurring together in his mind's eye, he cannot help but envy her.
She buried her ghosts a long time ago, when the darkest pale boy Shikamaru will ever know, landed a blow to the back of her neck and placed her limp body on a stone cold bench with nothing more than a whispered thank you and an absent brush of skin on skin
That, and the teardrop on the right sleeve of her red top.
Ten years ago, this happened, and even now, he sees the shadow in her eyes, sees it slip into her hands between patients and lonely lunches, notes the way it makes her movements languid and slow. He sees it darken her eyes whenever she passes the derelict district that she dreamt of calling her home.
He wonders whether it's a look he'll share with her.
She walks past him, her black sleeves brushing his own, eyes fixed on the nothing that lies before her and desperately trying to ignore everything that calls her from behind.
He trains his eyes on her, remembers the fight that ended them. His quicksilver mind is sifting through options, all business once again. Before that kunai had struck deeply from behind, Ino had turned to him, her eyes resigned.
Tell Papa I'm sorry and make it right, Shika-kun. You're good at that.
Sakura and Ino are a story incomplete.
He can't—won't—fail her here.
Before she is completely out of reach, he reaches out, grasps the cloth of her kimono. She turns to him, eyes deadened.
"Tonight." His fingers whisper over her hand, and for a moment he sees the surprise in her eyes before it is covered, once again, by the same indifference that masks his own intentions.
She nods, once, twice, and walks away.
Non-canon Naruto couple? Oh my.