I return with chapter two. I'm sorry I'm slow at updating, but school has been really hard these last couple of months. Thank goodness it is almost over! I hope I can keep a better pace up in the some. Please read and I hope you enjoy it!

Kill Me or Kiss Me

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or any of the characters.

Chapter 2: A Taste of Trouble

Some of the women of lore were laid out on the rocks, perfectly sedentary; perfectly relaxed and peaceful. Others were settled in the water, swimming slowly and serenely, the water barely rippling with the movements. The mermaids' scales sparkled in the slowly vanishing light. The scales were a soft green on some and on others a gentle blue. They were almost translucent, but also seemed to glow full of pale colors, which bounced back and forth between shades depending on just how the light hit each piece. The creatures' tails were long, with two see-through fins extending out as if they were the trails of extravagant gowns. Each tail had a silky flipper protruding from the back in the place a tailbone would have been on a human. Each of the women's bodies was slender and curved; fully-proportioned. Long flowing hair swept over their shoulders and down their backs, strands covering their otherwise totally naked forms. Some were brunettes and others had black hair and others were clad in all sorts of rainbow-schemed tints. Their faces were striking: full-lipped, dark lashes, perfect complexions, yet their eyes sparkled with something sinister. Perhaps it was playfulness, but one couldn't be quite sure.

Shikamaru and Ino stared at the mystical creatures with wide-eyes from their position behind a well-sized growth of bushes. The ladies in the water had apparently not taken any notice of them as of yet.

Ino was completely flabbergasted. Mermaids weren't real! They were just myths told to excite little girls, yet there, right before her eyes, were women with of all things: tails! Fish tails! "This has to be…be some sort of genjutsu…" she muttered in a low voice next to Shikamaru.

Shikamaru didn't respond. She shot a glance at him. Perhaps he was too much in thought (or shock) to utter a syllable. She was surprised to find the most peculiar expression on his countenance. It was one she had never seen there before and it was very well quite weird to be there at all. He seemed to be hypnotized. He stared off into the direction of the mermaids. His mouth had closed and his eyes weren't wide any longer--obviously he was over being shocked. He seemed very alert now, but Ino was sure he had no idea that she was right next to him. He was entranced; completely (and quite oddly)entranced.

Shikamaru's mind was awhirl with sounds and feelings. The exotic music continued to hamper into the air. It was gentle, yet exhilarating at the same time. Unseen strings plucked and invisible drums thumped. The sounds hummed in his ears and hit his brain with a wave of thought. It wasn't so much the music that excited him, but something else. Somehow it was like the melody was speaking, whispering things to him. The words crawled deep into his mind. The voices seemed seductive, yet trustworthy. They purred compliments, praises, and promises. For someone who just wanted an easy life and didn't especially want anything they pledged of, he, due to some sensation, longed to take the voices up on their words.

"Come to us," a whisper hissed pleasantly in his ear. The direction of the voice couldn't be determined.

Compelled by some inner desire he didn't understand he started to move forward. His mind, which he relied on and trusted quite a lot, didn't seem to be working very well. It was completely empty of thoughts, plans, and a conscience. Only one thought pulsed through it and that was obey the summon: "Come."

Ino, who was watching him, saw his actions the moment he began them. She completely didn't understand what he was thinking. Shikamaru never did reckless things! What was wrong with him? It was stupid to walk over to them. Their position would be blown and that probably wasn't a good thing! One look at those beautiful beings made her shiver for reasons she didn't know. There was just something chilling about them; something foreboding. In a split-second, before he even completed a full step forward, she lounged herself at him. Her arms extended out rapidly and she grabbed his midriff as tight as she could. Her body weight rushed forth onto him and in a second they crashed to the grassy, damp floor, Ino atop of him, and her arms trapped between his back and the ground. A small grunt of pain escaped from her lips when her hands were squished.

Shikamaru winced for a second and then looked down at the young girl's face, which stared at him with wide eyes. He himself looked quite confused, but no longer in a hypnotized state. Ino's chin rested on his chest and he could feel her hands digging into the back of his spine. The rest of her body was sprawled out over his. The angle of her neck strained its flexibility and caused her discomfort. Her bangs were a mess, covering her nose and right eye.

"What the hell are you thinking?" she hissed, her chin drawing up and down, raking over his chest. The chain mesh under his shirt caused a tingle of agony to fill her jaw by the movement. Her eyes were burning with anger and a slight hint of worry.

He stared back down at her for several moments, appearing completely perplexed. What was he thinking? That was a good question. He couldn't even remember what he was doing. Why the heck was she on top of him like this? Where was he? A second ago he was doing that troublesome chore of washing dishes and now she was lying on top of him and yelling at him of all things. "I don't know…" he muttered and looked away, embarrassed.

Her expression softened a little.

He remained in his thoughts. He was scrubbing a dish and talking to her a second ago, wasn't he? What was their conversation about? Oh, yeah, disposing of that troublesome man, Takuya. Then…then he heard that odd music! That strange, yet enchanting, display of strings and flutes and voices. He looked back at her, his eyes lit up a bit. "That music!" he whispered. He strained his ears. It was still being played. He could hear it louder than ever. It was pounding in his ears, exciting as ever, causing his heart to hammer within his chest. "Don't you hear that music?" There was a slight frantic note to his voice.

She gave him a peculiar look. "No…" Her voice shook with uncertainty.

"Are you sure?" His voice seemed even more desperate.

"Shikamaru, a lot of weird things have happened today. Being peeped on by some old pervert and seeing mermaids, just to name a few, but hearing some strange music isn't one of them."

He looked very confused for a long moment. A look she had rarely seen on him before. Shikamaru was never puzzled. She was getting worried. What was wrong with him?

Then a second later he blurted out, "Wait! Mermaids?" The images were vaguely coming back to him. He remembered gazing out at the creatures of legend. Those women in the water had definitely had scaly tails. The images were blurred and hazy. Why was he not remembering? Why'd he not know what just happened a few minutes ago in the first place? Why was everything a faint memory?

Her eyes widened and she said in a bitter yet worried and confused voice, "Did you exchange brains with Naruto or something?" She gave him a pitied look. Something was seriously wrong. "Yes, the mermaids! Hey, come to think of it, you started to mention hearing music before we found them."

"But you don't hear it?" His voice softened. It seemed less panicked and more thoughtful now.

She shook her head the best she could in her position.

His mind began thinking rapidly. Maybe she couldn't hear it? Maybe he was only hearing it? He knew he wasn't going crazy. He also knew Ino wasn't lying to him. She wasn't hearing it, but it definitely was loud enough for her to hear. The only explanation was that she couldn't hear it for some reason that had nothing to do with how good a person's hearing was. He knew that music was there though. He knew it! Could it be the mermaids that were making the music? Yes, it did seem to get louder when they got nearer. He looked around the area. From his position he could only see blades of grass and the trunks of trees and the bottoms of bushes. He looked back at her. Her visage still held that worried expression. Her brows were arched down a bit and her lips were separated just a little in a downward path. Her eyes were opened wide, one of which was still mostly hidden by her mop of hair. He lifted a hand and hesitantly moved the golden locks to the side. The magnificent sunset was causing her skin to glow a pale color. "I'm sorry," he whispered. Then a thought crossed his mind: Why the hell did he just do that? Sure, she was worried, but he didn't have to apologize for it, so why did he? Oh, man, maybe he really was going mad.

Her cheeks turned a light shade of pink from his action. "You're forgiven," she managed to breathe back. "At least you're…um…better now." She let her eyes drift away from him. Maybe he wasn't "better" now. When did Shikamaru ever do anything endearing?

A rustling sound erupted in the area. In an instant Shikamaru drew his eyes at the source. Ino attempted but her pinned position inhibited her. Shikamaru's eyes widened at what he saw.

Crawling through the bushes was the slithering form of a mermaid. Half her body could be seen extending from out of the bush. Her breast and stomach dragged on the ground and her elbows were bent, pushing her along. She sketched out a slender hand, her fingers raking the ground, pushing aside dirt and ripping apart vegetation. Her long black hair fell over her back and slid onto the forest floor. She stared back at Shikamaru, eyes icy. She wore a terrifying grin. Her visage showed malevolence at his greatest. Thick black strands draped over parts of her face, darkening the shadows on her skin. She extended another arm, shakily, but determinedly. The bush rattled as a piece of her blue tail became visible. A small hissing laughter escaped her lips.

"Ino, get off me now!" he ordered.

Instantly panic welled up inside the girl. She couldn't see what was coming towards them, but she could definitely hear it. Her heart beat quickened as did her breathing. A sickening feeling exploded in her stomach. She tried to obey Shikamaru and lift her upper body, but only felt the strain on her arms. She wiggled some more. She could only manage to lift her chin a small measurement off his chest. With her arms pinned under him like they were she was helpless. She tried to gain some footing and push off, but she only managed to hit his legs several times and fall back down.

The mermaid was wiggling quickly towards them. She was worming towards Shikamaru's upper body. She opened her mouth and revealed a row of menacing sharp teeth. Shikamaru could hear his heart pounding in his chest. "Now!" he shouted.

"I can't! You're on my arms!" she yelled back in an alarmed tone.

The mermaid was a mere few inches from him. She lounged down at his neck, teeth bearing. At that same moment Shikamaru wrapped his arms around Ino's sides and in a quick movement of force rolled the two of them over. He heard the mermaid's jaw snap shut right next to his ear as he rotated. He had barely dodged that!

Ino winced under him. The wind was knocked out of her. And pain rung in her chest and stomach. Her head hurt too. She was way too low on his body for that turn-around to be comfortable and he had given her no warning! Didn't he realize how much heavier he was than her?

In a quick step he released her and rose off of her, allowing her some air. He then shot a hand down and pulled her to her feet roughly. She wobbled momentarily, grasping for breath. He held her balance with a supportive hand, yet he wasn't paying much attention to her, but instead their new enemy. She shot him a dirty look of which he didn't see. When her breathing became more manageable, she realized he was staring at something on the ground.

Ino followed his gaze and was shocked to see that one of the mermaids was looking up at them. Her tail was wrapped around her side. She supported her weight with her arms and she appeared to be choking. The mermaid coughed several times. Then she sent an icy look up at them and smiled coldly. The creature laughed a feminine snicker.

"It doesn't seem like it can move well on land because its half fish," Shikamaru observed, staring at it intently. "Come on, let's get out of here." It was best to leave while they could.

Ino turned to him. "Should we wake Takuya?" she asked. She could visualize his angry looks and words when he heard they found mermaids, but decided not to tell him about it immediately.

"It's troublesome either way," he sighed, keeping one eye on the mermaid. "But I guess…we better." He began walking away, never letting his eyes cast away from the being on the ground. Ino hesitantly took a step after him.

The mermaid came rushing at them, slashing at them with her nails. Dodging, they backed up into the bush it had slithered out of. A splashing sound rang in the air behind them and more splashing noises followed. Shikamaru's head whirled around, eyes wild. How close was this growth to the water? He glanced over the bush and realized with a heavy heart that it was too close for comfort. It was only a foot or so away. A louder splash echoed in the air. He turned completely around just in time to catch the flying form of a mermaid. She pushed him to the ground, about two feet from the other mermaid. The one on top of him snapped at him and clawed his face with her long nails. He gritted his teeth and held her upper body back with his hands.

"Shikamaru!" Ino shouted, surprised and worried at the same time. She raised a hand to her lips.

"Worry about yourself!" he grunted, not taking an eye off the mermaid attacking him.

His words made her remember just how much in danger she was herself. Hesitantly she turned around and looked over the tall green bush. Five mermaids stared back at her. Their forms appeared radiant in the orange and yellow of the setting sun. The water around them clung to the colors as well. They were only a few feet away from her.

She reached down to the holster at her thigh. She pressed her fingers down on the latch and was about to open it when the mermaids leapt at her, all at once, without warning. She told herself this wasn't the time to freeze. She swiftly pulled up the latch and pulled out a kunai and an instant later swung a back leg roundhouse kick at one of the impending enemies. The ridge of her foot collided with the mermaid's stomach and sent her flying. She slashed at another with her kunai, blood poured out from the creature's opened wound and onto Ino. There was too many to attack all of them at once. The other three overwhelmed her. One clung to her arm, digging her sharp nails into it. Another grabbed her at the waist, clinging to her. The final one, a mermaid with bright red hair, jumped onto her right leg. It flung its jaw into the flesh of her thigh. Ino let out a cry as pain shot through her leg.

"Ino!" Shikamaru grunted. His own mermaid still struggled against him. "Dammit," he cursed. He should have known that they wouldn't be allowed to escape easily. They should have been the ones to attack first. His hands were too busy to do the hand sign for his shadow jutsu. It was too slow a move anyway. He needed to help Ino now. She was in the water as well. In the water there were reflections not shadows. The setting sun made his extension at its maximum, but the use of the technique didn't seem very practical. Either way, it seemed Takuya would be getting the carcasses he wanted.

He flung the mermaid up with his arms and shot a leg at her. His kick sent her flying over his head. She let out a scream as she flew through the air. The mermaid with the blue tail was very close to him once again. She had slowly managed to crawl closer to him. He spun his body around on the ground and kicked it twice, once in the face and once in the collar. It wailed at his hits. Shikamaru then jumped onto his feet. He turned to Ino and began making his way to her.

The mermaid that had been clinging to her waist, now pulled at her formerly free arm. The limp weight of the creatures on both her arms was too great for her muscles to lift. She strained but couldn't move her arms. The red-headed mermaid still had her teeth in Ino's thigh. The girl groaned and tried to shake it off.

Shikamaru appeared next to her. He hit the mermaid on her left arm with an elbow strike and threw a shuriken at the other. Both creatures shrieked and fell back into the water. Freed, Ino swung her right arm down, kunai blade facing to the water and stabbed the remaining one in the back, near the neck. Instantly she screamed and released Ino from her teeth. She sunk back into the water.

Ino fell into a weak stance, breathing heavily and wincing from the pain. Shikamaru stood next to her, alert, and ready to attack anything that moved.

The three mermaids in the water stared at them, only their eyes and tops of their heads seen over the water's now red surface. They stared back with hate and pain-filled eyes. The two mermaids Shikamaru had injured and the ones Ino had hurt before lay behind and to the left of the ninja. They hissed intimidatingly.

The last bits of the golden sun were fading away in the horizon. The water lost its yellow tint and slowly became a dark blue. In a moment the sun completely disappeared from the sky. It was fully dark. A pale blue color radiated off the visible skin of the mermaids and off the flesh of Shikamaru and Ino.

The mermaids slowly rose in the water, coming toward the ninja. Slowly more of their bodies appeared and they surfaced more and more. The ninja prepared themselves to be attacked. Then Shikamaru's and Ino's eyes widened in shock as they realized the scaly rough tails of the creatures had magically turned into legsand human legs, at that! The mermaids laughed a wicked giggle. The ninja shot around to see the other mermaids fins had also somehow turned into a pair of legs. The women struggled to their feet, clutching wounded areas.

Ino readied her already bloodied kunai and Shikamaru reached down to his thigh to get his own weapon. They waited for the naked women to come at them, but the attack never came. The former mermaids exchanged quick glances and then with a final glare at the shinobi, ran off into the forest in the opposite direction of camp, long silky hair whipping out behind them.

The two shinobi stayed in fighting stances for several moments. Then slowly they lowered their guards. "I think they're gone," Shikamaru said after a few quiet moments had passed. Ino slowly returned her kunai to its holster once she was confident she was safe. The male glanced around, eyes scanning everything. "But why'd they run away and why the hell did they turn into humans?"

"They were pretty hurt," Ino commented, deciding to answer only the question she had a possibly correct answer to. Then she added after a pause in which she churned the events over in her mind. "Maybe they took their transformation as an opportunity to get away." She glanced in the direction that the women had run away in.

Shikamaru followed her gaze and then quickly turned back to look at Ino. He had no better explanation than her. He would have to really think some things over that night. He took in Ino's injured form. Her left arm was bleeding under the shoulder. There were various cuts all over the arm from where the claws had dug into her flesh. Her other arm was in a slightly less damaged state. His eyes traced down her stomach. Her abs were completely revealed to him due to her sense in fashion and the soft flesh had scratch marks in an up and down direction. Her thigh had the largest gash of all. The teeth marks were deep and ripped a good portion of her skin away. Blood was dripping down her knee and calve in a thick ghastly river. He could see she had shifted her weight to fully rest on her left leg to relieve some pain.

Shikamaru grabbed her wrist gently. Ino's eyes widened and slowly she looked up at him. He was a little shocked by his action as well. He rubbed a thumb over her hand, feeling her bones under the thin flesh. His eyes were directed down at the grasp. "You need to take care of these wounds."

Ino stared down at their hands for several long seconds and then felt a blush burning on her cheeks. She quickly pulled her hand out of his grip and then attempted to act normal. She wasn't quite sure of the reasons behind her embarrassment or his actions. Why exactly was he doing things like this?

Of course, he couldn't have answered that question even if she had asked. He had no idea himself.

"Err…yeah," she muttered. She then lifted her right hand up and placed it in front of his face. Shikamaru stared at it with wide-eyes. She ran her palm over his cheek. He stiffened at her touch and jerked back a little. She arched an eyebrow and gave him a puzzled smile. She pushed her hand close again and it slightly glowed a white aura. Instantly he felt a warm sensation run over his skin. It tingled slightly. Or maybe that warm feeling was just his creeping blush.

She pulled her hand back and smiled. He could feel that the scratches on his face had completely healed. He actually had forgotten all about them before her recent actions. "Now you're all better," she announced.

He looked away from her. His face still felt warm. "You shouldn't waste your chakra like that when you have much more serious wounds to attend to."

A look of pride swept over her. She placed her hands on her hips and held her head high. "What? That was nothing! My chakra control is excellent now and I have plenty of chakra left. I haven't been training all these years for nothing, you know? That little thing isn't going to tire me out. Don't underestimate me. Geez." She rolled her eyes, but a smile was tugging on her lips as she spoke.

"Oh, really?" He arched an eyebrow, more playfully that skeptically. "Then why don't you heal yourself all ready?"

"I'm getting to it," she assured him. She lifted her right hand and once again the faint light emitted from it. She pressed her palm against the flesh under her shoulder. Slowly the bleeding stopped and the flesh reformed itself. When she lifted her hand off there was no evidence of the wound; not a scar. Quickly she moved on to the other arm. She ran her left hand down her arm, healing the scratches and bruises that dotted her flesh. Next she pressed her palms on her stomach and let her chakra rush upon the marks that raked up and down her abs. She leaned down a bit and went about healing the last of her wounds, the deep bite on her leg. Blood was trickling down her leg in flows of crimson. There were indents on her skin in the places the fangs had fully sunk through and red marks where the other teeth hadn't broken the skin. Her flesh was purple around the wound. Her hand pressed over it and her chakra welled up.

Shikamaru noticed Ino's brows knot up as she used her medical jutsu. Her lips set into a sort of frown. He looked back down at the area which she was attempting to heal. The dark blood, appearing black in the dim light, was still pouring from the wound.

"I-It's not healing," she whispered. She looked more desperate and more chakra poured around her hand. A few seconds passed. The wound still appeared the same as when she began, just considerably more bloody. She pulled her hand away and looked at the crimson on her hand.

Shikamaru stepped closer for a better look. "What happened to all your talk?" She gave him the dirtiest look she could muster up. He sighed and the said, "Let me see." He took another step closer and she lifted her leg up. Instantly she grabbed the clothes on his shoulders to maintain balance. She blushed as soon as her hands touched him. He appeared unaffected.

He grabbed her thigh to hold it steady. Her blush deepened at the rough touch. The area was dark, nearly black. He strained his eyes to see the wound. It didn't make sense. Why wasn't it healing? She was putting chakra into it and doing everything she normally did to heal a cut. She shouldn't be injured any more.

He let go of her leg. She let it drop slowly. "I don't get it," he muttered. It looked like an ordinary bite. Bites should heal by medical jutsu. Only a curse wouldn't…

He sighed. "Either way, you need to take care of it before it gets infected. Looks like you'll be doing it the old fashion way."

She nodded her head slowly, confused about the situation, slightly disappointed in her abilities and a bit angry that he didn't care enough to come up with a better answer than, "I don't get it.". She then limped over to the edge of the river and slowly at down, gritting her teeth at the pain emitting from her thigh. She slid forward and dunked her leg into the icy water. Her face distorted more at the cool touch. She unzipped the pouch on her back and took out a bottle of herbs specially made to treat infections, and a roll of bandages. She worked silently, pouring the clear liquid on the wound and winced as it stung. Next she wrapped the white strips of cloth around her slim leg. When she was done she put her articles away. She stayed at that spot, staring at the water, watching the ripples form and disappear.

Shikamaru walked over to her slowly. She whispered when he was near, "Are we going to tell Takuya?" she paused. "You know, about the mermaids?"

"Maybe in the morning," he responded with a yawn. "I don't want to hear him ranting for the rest of the night."

"Yeah," she sort of laughed. "He'll blame us for not catching them." She smiled and held her nose high. "But, hey, he said our job was just to carry them!" Shikamaru let out a small chuckle. She continued, softer. "I can't believe they're real. Never gonna hear the end of that."

"Yeah," he sighed in agreement. "I still don't think I believe it yet."

Shikamaru lowered his hand down to her. She stared at it for several seconds and then slowly reached her own hand up to accept it. Once he had a firm grip, he hoisted her to her feet. "Come on." His voice was soft. "I'm not looking forward t tomorrow, but I'm tired."

"So am I."

"Wouldn't want to miss any of your beauty sleep now, would you?" He smirked.

"Haha!" she exclaimed dryly, making a face.

Slowly they made their way back to the camp grounds. Ino was limping, but she didn't ask for any help, and he didn't offer her any. She was too proud to accept it from him, even if he had overcome laziness and wanted to help. He had eyed her wearily when she almost fell, but she just brushed it off and reassured him that the injury wasn't that severe (However, he knew that it may not be life threatening, but something was definitely dangerous about it. Wounds always heal with medical ninjutsu.) Ino also figured that she'd only annoy him if she requested his help. Why would his lazy ass want to help her?

On their way back, they grabbed the dishes they had left at the river's coast. Takuya would have had a heart attack if they lost his bowl; he wouldn't care about theirs, but his own, oh, that would have sent him on the warpath.

The fire had died out in the center of the camp. That pig was snoring, quite loudly--as if he was a roaring bear. Even at night (asleep!) he gave them no peace. The two ninja crawled into their separate tents and attempted to go to sleep. Slowly, the fatigue of the day's events rushed upon them, forcing the horrid snoring to vanish away and darkness to fall on the mind.

It was not even light yet when Shikamaru awoke. He held his eyes shut, not quite ready to get up just yet. He wasn't sure why he had awoken, but was positive that dreamland was where he wanted to be.

A hoarse whisper raked into his ears, "Shikamaru!" He'd just ignore it. "Shikamaru!" This time it was louder and more desperate sounding. "Shikamaru!" The voice sounded in pain. Slowly, he opened his eyes. What a bother. He didn't want to get up (really, he didn't) but hearing that moan for the rest of the night was more annoying.

Clumsily he staggered to his feet. His vest and sandals were somewhere in his tent and he wasn't going to figure out where that "somewhere" was. He threw back the cloth door and walked out into the night air. It was cool out and silent if one excluded the thunderstorm Takuya brew all on his own. Shikamaru walked a few feet and then pulled back the entrance of the tent next to his.

"What?" he whined, fatigue evident in his voice, and appearance groggy.

Ino stared back at him. He could barely see her. Only her silhouette was visible to him, but the shape of her figure told him that she was looking in his direction.

"It feels like it's burning!" she cried in a soft, yet pain-felt voice. She appeared to be clutching her leg.

Burning? What? What was "it" anyway? Shikamaru's face became winkled in confusion, but, of course, she couldn't see it. He was too tired to think clearly. Slowly logic came back to him. Was she talking about that bite? He lowered his head and stepped into the tent, crouching to avoid the low ceiling. He sat down next to her. Closer, now he could make out her visage better. Her cheeks twinkled where tears were falling from her eyes.

"Let me see," he said in a low voice, a bit taken back by her tears. She must really be in pain for someone as stubborn as her to cry. She nodded and lifted her thigh and placed it on top of his legs. Her skin was hot; he could feel the heat radiating off her flesh. He strained to see the wound, but couldn't make out anything. "Don't you have a candle or something?" he said drowsily.

"Y-yeah," she choked out and reached over to her side and grabbed her bag. After rummaging through it for a few seconds, she produced a candle and a match. Sniffling, she lit it. The light glowed throughout the tent, brightening up the dark enclosure. She held the light up for him.

His gaze rested on her momentarily. Her hair was down and free, but it appeared tangled and sweaty. Even her face seemed tired and wet. Her eyes were watery. She still was wearing most of her clothes, except for her black sandals, and chain mesh tights and elbow guards. Her face was red and she seemed to be trying to restrain herself from crying. She wasn't looking at him, but her leg. He looked back at the extremity.

In the dark he hadn't even realized the bandages were still wrapped around her thigh. The binding was red with blood. Slowly, he unwound the cloth, twirling his hands around her thigh. The sight that greeted him was different than before. It appeared like a scab had begun forming. Something was odd about it, however. He ran his fingers over it. Ino stiffened at the touch. Odd. Not only was the area burning hot, but the scab was smooth if he ran his fingers one way, but if he did so in the other direction, it was sharp and jagged; it wasn't bumpy like a normal scab. A normal wound wouldn't have formed a complete scab in so little time in the first place.

"It hurts?" he asked, curious and puzzled.

"Yes, it frickin' hurts!" she grunted, her mouth full of tears.

He continued looking at it. Something else was different than before. It was a larger wound now. Before it was only about two inches in diameter, but now it was almost three times that. It was reaching much closer to her knee and maybe it went higher too. Her skirt was covering some of it. It might spread much farther up to her hip. He didn't dare test that theory. She definitely wouldn't appreciate him examining her that closely.

She was looking at him intensely, hoping he had an answer. Shikamaru, the boy deemed a genius, didn't exactly have one for her. "I don't know what to do," he finally muttered. "I've never seen or heard of a wound like this."

He watched her teeth grind together, disappointed and in pain. Her face was a little pale.

"I'll bring some water and a cloth to cool it down with. Maybe it will at least make it hurt less." She nodded. Gently he lifted her leg and placed it back down on the tent floor, which was covered with a blanket. He realized as he did that the rest of her leg was cool, the average temperature expected in the night. It was only that one area that was hot.

He slowly made his way out of her tent, with one last glance at her, and into his, where he grabbed a clean bowl to put water into before walking back out. He walked to the river, dunked the bowl into it, and scooped out the crystal liquid. The sky was beginning to lighten as he did these actions. It was much brighter now than when he entered her tent. The sun was beginning to rise. The water appeared clear and magical in the river due to the brightening setting, causing it to sparkle slightly.

He stood for a moment near the water, thinking that this mission was much more trouble than it was worth. The whole thing was ridiculous.

He then remembered Ino, and with more speed than the degree he used to get there, made his way back to her. The sky was becoming brighter the whole time he made the little trip. He looked up and could now see the sun on the horizon. The atmosphere had taken on the early morning gloom. He knew he should be going faster, but then the water might spill from the bowl, and he'd have to go back, which wasn't really high on his agenda list. Also the river was at least a three minute walk from the camp site. Almost a whole ten minutes had passed when he returned.

He stood outside the little tent's door. He could hear anguished weeping emitting from the inside of it. Damn! What had happened now? The pain couldn't have increased that much! That girl was too much for him!

He opened the tent door, quickly. The candle had been blown out. It wasn't necessary anymore, anyway. The morning light provided enough light to see with.

Shikamaru dropped the pan of water he had been carrying. He blinked once. He must have been really tired. He couldn't be seeing what he thought he was seeing. He blinked again and rubbed his eyes. Yeah, he must have been really tired. What he thought he saw wasn't logical. Yet, nothing about what he had seen the night before was logical. And what he saw didn't change no matter what he did. Ino was sprawled out on the floor; withering in pain; looking at him with watery, tormented eyes between the locks of long blonde hair tossed across her face; and instead of two legs, she had a long glittering fish tail.

Thank you for reading. I hope things are getting interesting for you. I know things are getting quite strange for me. Every time I think of this story, I think that it's so weird. Please review if you liked my story! Also, I notice that I am using double hyphen's insteadof dash's, but I can't get them to appear right on this site.