Deidara was glad to finally have his mission completed. He had captured the Shukaku without too much difficulty. The entire time his thoughts stayed on Ino. He wanted to get things done quickly so he could be with her faster. The three day extraction process was tedious on him. And then he'd lost against a group of Konoha ninja only to return to find out that Sasori had died. Nothing was going good for him. Except for the fact that Ino would permanently be in his arms within the month.

He sighed as he glanced over at his new partner. Tobi was a little dense and frequently got on his nerves. But it wasn't a big deal to take him to meet up with Ino, he was clueless anyways. Deidara had sent her a letter, telling her to meet him and she would be there very soon. Of course his anticipation got the best of him and he almost ran right into a black haired boy. He'd stopped and hid, but it was too late. The other had sensed his presence.

It did not take Deidara long to figure out that the kid was Itachi's little brother. What with the both of them possessing the same Sharingan and apathetic personality. Of course Deidara could not pass up the opportunity to beat up a Sharingan user, so he fought the kid. He was surprised at the strength the Uchiha possessed. So he had to increase the power of his own attacks. He wasn't going to lose. He was not going to let the Uchiha brat better him. He'd suffered being bested by Itachi his entire time with the Akatsuki. He wasn't going to let Itachi's snot nosed little brother beat him.

Ino was excitedly running through the forest to her destination. She was going to meet Deidara at an abandoned shack just off the main road. She was not too far away from it. She'd managed to sneak out of the village and say goodbye to everyone without making it sound permanent. Which of course it was. She was never going to leave Deidara's side again.

A loud explosion echoed through the woods. It still kind of faint and she could tell it was a far way off. But knowing what she did about Deidara and his techniques, she automatically assumed it was him. A hint of fear clawed at the pit of her stomach. It probably wasn't a good thing if he was fighting someone in the middle of a forest. She immediately changed her course, heading towards the sounds of the ever increasing number of explosions.

All at once a giant fireball lit up the sky. Ino could feel the heat of it even though it was still in the distance, and the force of the explosion made the ground tremble. Ino's nagging fear turned into full blown terror after this, especially when she noticed that there were no more explosions.

She easily found the area where the huge explosion had destroyed. It wasn't difficult when all the trees where scorched or burning as evidence. She made her way to the center of the circle of destruction, carefully avoiding getting herself burned. She still moved quickly, more afraid than she had ever been in her life. What had happened?

She heard a groan. She followed the voice and came upon a charred and bloody body. The person screamed. Ino kneeled down beside him and gasped in horror. Beneath the ruined physique she could discern that this person was indeed her beloved Deidara. "Oh no…" she stammered staring down at him in disbelief. Her voice was quiet and filled with uncertainty. "What happened to you?"

He moaned. She felt the tears stream down her face as she started to use her chakra to try to heal his injuries. "I…I lost," he choked through the pain. "He…was…too…powerful."

Ino knew he was in terrible condition. Especially since he didn't even have the strength to use his classic "un's" and "yeah's". "Who did it?" she whispered in his ear.

"The…Uchiha…younger…I wanted, uh…to kill…him," Deidara stuttered, wincing with every word he spoke. She grabbed one of his hands. Holding it close she could feel the mouth on it, slack and unmoving. She pushed her own chakra into him, desperately trying to make him better. He groaned low, gasping for breath. "Ino?" he asked.

She looked at him in the eyes. She could see the tears in his. "It's too late to save me." He grimaced.

She shook her head, fervently denying what he'd said. "No! No! No! I won't let you die! I don't want to be alone! Don't go! Please!" she screamed while sobbing.

He squeezed her hand. He gave her a grimace which was supposed to be a smile. "I'm sorry." He grip loosened considerably and he sagged against the ground. In a weak and faded voice he muttered his last word, "I love you." And then he spoke no more.

Ino screamed in anguish. He was dead. The man she loved was dead. She flung herself against his burned up body, letting her tears stream into the open mouth on his chest. She laid there mourning for several hours. Eventually she cried herself to sleep.

She was awakened later, by a tap on the shoulder. Groggily with still bleary eyes she looked up at the person. Shikamaru and Naruto stood over her, looking down at her in shock. It was obvious to them that she had been crying, and the blackened corpse she had been sprawled across was the person the tears had been shed for.

Shikamaru bent down to kneel in front of her. "What happened, Ino?" he asked in a concerned manner.

She stared through him, at an obscure point behind him. "He's dead." She had briefly mentioned to her teammates the source of her previous woes. The reason that she had been depressed. So Shikamaru kind of knew about Deidara, but not everything about him. He'd also figured out she'd left the village to go meet him and if no one went after her she would never come back. He'd asked Tsunade for permission to go find her when she'd been reported as missing.

He hugged her. It wasn't in his personality, but seeing his teammate dirty and crying over the man she loved was causing him pain as well. He let her cry into his shoulder, offering what comfort he could to her. Naruto gently rubbed her back, also in an attempt to make her feel better. When her tears abated the three of them set to work burying Deidara. Ino was pale and quiet. Neither Shikamaru nor Naruto knew who the guy was (yes I know that Naruto fought against Deidara, but Deidara's not exactly recognizable anymore. Think Anakin Skywalker in the Revenge of the Sith. That's pretty much what he looks like) but the diligently and quietly buried the body and paid their last respects.

On the inside Ino was being torn to pieces. She was glad to have the two guys there for moral support. But she had just lost a big part of herself, and it would take a very long time for it to completely heal. And a deep hatred was forming in her heart. She would never be able to forgive the man who'd done this to her. She regretted ever liking him in the past. She'd pay the favor back in some way. She'd hate him forever. "Damn you," she whispered to herself, cursing the man who'd killed Deidara, Sasuke.

The other two didn't hear her. They finished what they were doing. "Alright, Ino, let's go home," Shikamaru told her. She nodded mutely and they plodded home as a light rain started to fall.

Ino's punishment hadn't been too severe. She'd gotten placed on probation of sorts and couldn't do much of anything. She could still train in Konoha, but missions were forbidden. Her medical ninja training was suspended as well. Fortunately, they didn't classify her as a missing nin. Since the chance at that life was now dead, literally.

Every once in a while she would need someone to talk to. Or a shoulder to cry on. Broken hearts didn't heal over night. And in the whole of Konoha she could only go to two people, the two people who'd found her. She tried to avoid Naruto for this; he was such a loud mouth. On occasion, she'd join him for ramen and have an emotional outpouring. But much more frequently, she found herself alone with Shikamaru; him holding her while she cried.

As time wore on, she didn't need to cry as much. But she still found herself spending time alone with Shikamaru. And he still held her as if she was crying. Slowly, Ino came to realize what this meant. He loved her. She pondered this, not really wanting to admit that she loved him too. Because she'd used him as an emotional crutch for so long, she was bound to him.

One day, while he was holding her she turned around to stare into his eyes. He looked at her perplexed. She gave him a smile. "Thank you for saving me from myself Shika. I don't know where I'd be now, without you."

He shrugged. "Just helping out a teammate."

Ino shook her head at him. Then she leaned in and kissed him. He stared at her shocked. "What are you doing?" he demanded.

"Shika, if I couldn't have come to you for comfort, I'd probably still be depressed right now. But you afforded me emotional support. And because of that, the bond we share has grown. It's grown into something much more than friendship." She gave him a bashful smile. "Yes, in my heart I still love 'him', but he's dead now. And, Shika, I think I may have fallen in love with you."

Shikamaru stared at her. "Troublesome girls," he muttered.

Ino hit him. "I just confessed my love and all you have to say is that I'm 'Troublesome'!"

He smirked. He pulled her against him and kissed her lips passionately. When he pulled back he said, "Yep, you're troublesome, but I love you too."

Yeah! I hope you don't mind me putting her with Shikamaru. As I've said I like Deidara dies by explosion (like in the original story) and Ino is with Shikamaru (like in my other story). This whole thing was pretty much a side adventure into DeixIno for me. I actually really enjoyed it. I hope you did too.

Please leave me reviews. I'd like to know what you thought about the story as a whole.