Title: A Road to Somewhere
Fandom: Naruto
Pairing/characters: Shikamaru/Ino
Word Count: 414
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Recent chapter spoilers.
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or the characters.
Summary: Ino can't lose when it comes to love. That's why she wants Shikamaru to stop smoking.
A/N: Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

She buttons up her top, fingers nimble under slow movements.

"I can't stand the smoke," she tosses as him, not with annoyance, just with sad anger. The anger she feels when bringing back the memories of rain, death, and smoke. She forces back the tears of irritation and mourning.

A puff of smoke into the clouds was his reply. She hits him, and it suddenly felt like nothing had gone wrong. But Shikamaru doesn't glare at her. He chokes when he inhaled. "Go somewhere else then."

She pulls on her fish nets, tying her hair up with a purple band.

"You're going to kill yourself, Shikamaru. Let..." She hesitates, but plows on. "Let him go."

It was the fastest he ever looked at her before, his eyes furious with things she couldn't possibly understand. He pins her down, the end of the cigarette glowing with a hidden fire. She lets him over power her, but that doesn't break her. He wouldn't do anything to her. She knew it, and he did too.

She closes her eyes and feels the ashes kiss her cheeks. Shikamaru says nothing.

Her weapons get tucked away and she pulls on her shoes before she heads towards the mirror.

His hand releases her wrist, buries the cigarette into the soil, and stares at her with all the emotions he wishes he could express. She feels sick and wants to look away. But she doesn't, and she knows he's grateful.

"Asuma won't rest. Not until he finishes the mission. Ino, don't you get it-" He glares at the crumpled butt, as if it was the source of all his responsibilities. "I can't quit smoking, Ino, not until I finish that mission for him."

A kunoichi is staring at her through the mirror, and she nods with confidence. She remembered her promise to Asuma. She wasn't going to lose to Sakura in love. She wasn't going to lose Shikamaru.

"Promise me," she demands, her nails tearing into his flesh with sharp tender care. He winces and looks. "After this mission, you'll stop."

He doesn't say anything and glances at the sky, looking for an answer. Finally, he sighs, nodding as he leans back muttering "How troublesome." She rubs his scratched arm.

Shikamaru comes just after her, pulling on his pack and adjusting his shoes. He flicks open the lighter.

"You ready?" she asks, and he blows out the familiar scent of cigarettes. He glances at her once, and she gazes back.