A/N: hooray

A/N: I'm back! Love me! Don't throw pointy objects at me! Review me! Don't hurt me!

narashadow made me realize I forgot to explain about Kagemaru's talkingness. --;; The JaeSang jutsu "rebirth"ed his mind, AND his body…so yeah. Not too much, but enough that his throat wouldn't feel like it was eating itself when he talked. Sorry for the confusion.



He feels so empty. He's trapped, both beneath a waterfall and his own mind. The waterfall is admittedly his fault; he hadn't noticed the exploding tag. Temari can glare at him all she wants, but it won't change anything: he is trapped.

He remembers everything just a little too much. Shikamaru's first crush, Shikamaru's first kill. Shikamaru's protectiveness of Ino and Chouji and his terrible grief when Asuma died. Shikamaru's savage pleasure when he destroyed Hidan, broke the bastard apart bit by bit and relished every bloodied second of it. Shikamaru's horror when Itachi picks him, above all others, as the heir to his twisted legacy. Yes, he remembers very well.

But it's not him. Shikamaru's dead now, simply a ghost of a person dwelling in his mind. Or is it Shikamaru's mind? He isn't so sure anymore, what with it being Shikamaru's body but his own consciousness in control.

He wonders how Ino is, smirking a little as strong feelings to protect her arise, despite them not being his own.

Maybe Nara Shikamaru's not as dead as he thinks.

Kagami's blissfully asleep on his finger, his entire silver body shut down at the moment, and he hates to wake his sleeping friend. Friend. Are they friends?

He isn't sure what a friend even is. A comrade, but more intimate. But not a lover, nowhere near a lover. Perhaps a certain subsection of soulmate, yes, that fits nicely. So what was… - his eyes slide to the furious woman trapped with him - …she? Not a lover, he supposes. Not really a teammate either, considering he is the mixed up fragments of negative space left by Nara Shikamaru.

Perhaps she is meant to guide him. Lead him in this unfamiliar, strange, demented world where he doesn't belong.

Because she is in love with Nara Shikamaru. He isn't stupid; he can see the signs, subtle as they are. She is deep in mourning for the loss of someone she never told. And she is most likely in love with him as well, confusing him for Nara Shikamaru. But they aren't the same.

Nowhere near the same.

It isn't Kagemaru who killed five hundred thirty-eight people. It isn't Kagemaru who cried raggedly while locked in a room with a murderer. It isn't Kagemaru who tried to kill his former friends, countless times, and willingly lost his soul in an attempt for peace.

But it isn't Nara Shikamaru either.


She wants to die, so badly. She can feel her mind crumbling as it becomes hard to breathe. She misses him, misses Shikamaru, and it's funny how it's now that she finally admits it to herself now that he isn't here.

She's in love with Nara Shikamaru.

She didn't mean to fall for a lazy, chauvinistic genius that smiles and tells her she's a troublesome woman. It just happened, as if Kami had pulled Fate's strings and tangled their lives entwined. But Nara Shikamaru isn't here anymore.

She knows that they're not the same. She knows that Kagemaru isn't the one who beat her at the Chuunin Exams. She knows Kagemaru isn't the one who made her cry when he went missing. She knows Kagemaru isn't the one who told her killing is what everything's about.

But she's not one hundred percent it's Nara Shikamaru either.

She wishes he were here, making some snide comment about how troublesome the situation is, making a brilliant plan that impresses her, then making some sexist remark that makes her want to kiss him or kill him.

But he's not here anymore, and her heart sinks in her chest when she's faced with this fact. Nara Shikamaru is dead. Nara Shikamaru is dead. Shikamaru is dead. Is dead. Dead. Dead.

She sighs loudly and barks out that this is all Kagemaru's fault, that he better fix it, that if they die here in such a stupid way after surviving the Akatsuki she'll kill him, while her heart and lungs wither up and she chokes back the feeling of dread and sorrow and tears.

Kagemaru makes a comment she misses and she ignores him while feeling around the thick wall of dirt and rock and root and muck and secretly wonders what the hell he is.

He isn't Shikamaru. Shikamaru died, so long ago, and it was only the tearstained hope his old comrades would end his suffering that kept him alive. But they couldn't; and they proved that to him countless times. So he destroyed himself so it would be easier on them.

But Kagemaru still holds pieces of Shikamaru, even if he doesn't notice. "Troublesome." The obsession over their safety, especially Ino and Chouji's. The fear of Ino. Shikamaru didn't kill everything he was, just put it into a different mindset that lives a different world.

She supposes she's his angel. She guides him, leads him, prays he doesn't die, and obsesses over him because she wants him to be someone else. She briefly wonders what would happen.

"Please," she could say. Please what? Stay like this forever? Pretend to be the dead almost-lover? Live a lie, live a life that's trapped in your head for little old me? Please?

She's startled when her arm plunges through the wall and feels water and air and Kagemaru's laughing and saying she's amazing, saying she's found the weak spot. She numbly pulls her arm back and a thin stream of water and gold sunlight shimmers down, and she sees him smiling at her so beautifully and she just wants to cry.

He's not Shikamaru. He never will be. But she still feels for him, still pities him, still loves him like he's the person he's not and she's so confused. So…exhausted by the whole experience, and she needs to die, needs to kill, needs to live and to breathe and to scream because she doesn't understand.

She's leaning in but she barely notices, even when her own breath hitches in the back of her throat. She's pulling at his shoulders, bringing him close, but she barely sees even while she stares deep into dark eyes that are not Nara Shikamaru's anymore.

And suddenly she's kissing him, and flecks of water pelt her face, and she's not sure if the cool sensation trickling down her cheeks is water or her own tears.