Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.
By Silver Sailor Ganymede
Shikamaru had always found emotions to be troublesome things. That was why women were always such a pain, he reasoned, because they looked too deeply into emotions and tried to make them mean something that they did not. He had always tried to take such things for what he could see on the surface, only analysing when it was absolutely necessary for him to do so – on a mission for example.
As far as he was concerned, when someone was crying it meant that they were sad or (in the case of most girls) about to kill you for insulting them: when they were smiling it meant that they were either happy or concocting a plot that would inevitably make things extremely troublesome indeed.
Shikamaru never found Chouji or Asuma confusing: they were easy enough to read; they never did or said anything that he couldn't figure out. Ino though, she was different, troublesome woman. He never expected her to cry, and when she did it always shocked him somewhat.
He remembered maybe three times when he had honestly see her break down into tears. Twice she hadn't seen him, once she had and that had made for quite a confusing situation, not that it had ended up a bad thing in the end… well not really.
The first time he remembered her breaking down was when she and Sakura had drawn in the Chuunin exams and neither of them had made it through. At first he had thought she was upset because she hadn't proved herself to be stronger than her rival, Sakura, but according to Asuma he was wrong about that. His teacher had told him that Ino wasn't upset; she was crying because she was glad to have managed to bridge the gap between herself and Sakura, however slightly, and bring them a little closer to how they were when they were younger. Shikamaru had never understood that; why should she cry if something good had happened?
The second time he remembered her breaking down was when Sasuke had left. He didn't know why everyone seemed to love that boy so much – he was far too moody and unpredictable for Shikamaru; anyone that would run off to join an evil snake-man-hybrid was just too troublesome for him to want to bother with. He had always thought that she'd been crying because she missed Sasuke; her unrequited love had run away before she got a chance to explain how she felt. He had asked Chouji this time, and his teammate, much like Asuma, had told him he was wrong. On first sight everyone would think Ino had been upset because she loved Sasuke, but she was only upset because the boy had betrayed her… betrayed them all; Ino hadn't lost a friend, more like a rather distant older brother, one whom you always wanted to impress but who was never there. Shikamaru had been confused; didn't Ino have a stupid crush on Sasuke still? Chouji had replied that no, she didn't; she'd got oven Sasuke a long time ago and had better things to focus on. Like beating Sakura, Shikamaru had supposed.
The third time he had seen her break down crying was without question the most confusing of them all. Just another one of his offhanded comments, something said without even thinking, something he honestly couldn't even remember, and she had just lost it. Slapped him hard and stalked off crying. Judging from the look Chouji was giving him at the time he would have said he'd been asking for it, but Shikamaru knew that he'd never ask for anything so troublesome. But he'd still done what Chouji had suggested and gone off after Ino to apologise for whatever it was he had said.
She was crying when he found her, aqua eyes overflowing with tears like the droplets of water that came flying from the tide as it crashed into the land. In fact Shikamaru didn't remember seeing her cry so must or look so depressed. It was so damn troublesome…
He went and sat down next to her, slightly surprised that she didn't notice him for a while, and she almost screamed when she finally did. She was a shinobi, she was supposed to be alert… then again she was too busy crying like she'd had her heart broken to notice anything around her, so it wasn't really that shocking.
"What do you want?" Ino snapped. Now Shikamaru really was surprised; Ino never usually acted like that. Sure she would yell at them a lot but she was never venomous like that… then again he probably deserved this, even if it was so damn troublesome.
"I wanted to apologise, I didn't mean what I said earlier," Shikamaru stated and Ino glared.
"Not much of an apology but it's fine," she said. "I'd be worried if you started taking your friends emotions too seriously."
"What do you know about emotions?" Shikamaru yawned in reply. "You're still pining after that Uchiha even though he left us ages ago now."
"Pining over Sasuke?" Ino sounded angry. "You… I thought you would have… you really are hopeless, Shikamaru!"
She went silent after that, a stark contrast to her screaming-fit just seconds beforehand. Then he realised she was crying again.
"I'm sorry, Ino," Shikamaru said, and this time he meant it. He was beginning to get worried about his teammate now. "You can feel
whatever you want for Sasuke, even if he is a bastard. It's none of my business anyway."
"But it is your business," she replied. "And it has nothing to do with him! I've been over that bastard since the Chunin exams, you should know that."
Shikamaru frowned, "What do you mean it's my business why you're crying? You know I didn't mean to upset you."
"You still don't get it do you?" Ino laughed, though she was still crying. "You lovable, lazy genius of an idiot."
Lovable? No one had ever called him that before… It was then that it had struck him what she had been trying to say. Well no wonder she was crying if that was the case… and she was right, he really was an idiot for not noticing at all, strategy be damned. Just because he had an I.Q of over two hundred it didn't mean he could read people at all, obviously not… But Ino had still flung herself into his arms and continued to cry.
"I'm sorry if I upset you," he had mumbled at last, and Ino had laughed again.
"But you're crying…"
"I was upset," the girl replied. "But now I'm not crying because I'm sad; I'm crying because… well I guess it's because I'm happy. Not everything is how it looks on first sight, Shikamaru, you should know that."
On second sight everything always looked strangely different. Well everything except for one small fact – women would always remain troublesome, no matter how lovely they were when they smiled, even Ino. No… especially Ino.