N/A: Contains spoilers from the manga. And a sad one at that. You have been warned!

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto...If I did, Asuma would be alive, damnit! T.T

Proud of You...

She's vulnerable now, more vulnerable than he'd ever seen her. Her hair is a messy yellow pile, concealing her face. Her eyes, blue and clear are now red and teary. He hates it.

He hates it even more because he can't do anything about it. Even more because he feels the same. But he can't let it show. No, because he has to be the strong one now. The one to carry the whole team.

Ino used to motivate them, but now she's on her knees next to Asuma's body, using the last of her chakra to revive him.

Silly woman...never could take no for an answer.

Choji knows the outcome. His eyes are red, but no tears fall down his painted cheeks. He looks at Ino with pity and sadness, knowing it would be futile to pull her away.

Shikamaru stares. The situation is overwhelming, but he understands his mentor and sensei is gone. He sees his teammate, the girl who always appeared strong and confident and she's worn out. She doesn't even look at him, her arms going limp from too much chakra use.

"Ino." He starts. His tone is demanding, confident. Unlike it used to be.

She raises perfect blue eyes to his, befuddled. He thinks they have the color of the clouds.

"You can't do anything anymore. Get up." He orders her for the first time.

She stares, her arms still shaking and her eyes threatening to fill up with tears.

Shikamaru thinks he's never seen her more beautiful. He always knew she was beautiful, just not like this...she was so fragile now. So delicate...he feels the need to protect her.

His hand grabs her arm, with a determination she'd never thought possible. His black eyes lock with her azure ones.

"Get up." His voice is like an order. She complies, without realizing it.

But then she understands. She understands that the boy she always thought to be lazy and weak had turned into a man. A man powerful enough to replace Asuma and she wants to cry. Because she never thought Asuma could be replaced.

A strong arm pulls her into an embrace and she feels her knees weaken. He knows what she feels and she's not ashamed to cry on his shoulder. Choji cries too.

Shikamaru's the only one to remain composed. He runs his fingers through Ino's soft hair and sighs. Asuma's body is right in front of him, but he can't afford to show weakness. He has so support his team, take care of them. Ino can't do that right now, even if Asuma asked her to.

Shikamaru thinks he could fall in love with her, as his hands tighten against her waist. He hates her pain...for Asuma and for her pain, he would seek revenge. His muscles harden.

Ino raises teary blue eyes to his own. She understands.

He holds her tighter and nods. They would avenge Asuma together, even if they should die in the process.

Shikamaru takes one of Asuma's cigarettes and lights it. Ino tries to refrain from crying. Choji's not that strong.

He coughs, because he hates smoking, but he knows it's a habit he has to get used to. Without warning, Ino buries her head in his chest, sobbing. His arms wrap around her, reassuringly. With one glance, he calms Choji down.

He's in charge of Team Ten now and he knows he'd rather die than let them down. Right now, he realizes just how much Asuma's done for them. Then most united team...InoShikaCho...

Shikamaru knew then that he didn't find Ino bossy and annoying and he realized that's why Asuma was always laughing when he told him about this. Feeling her body against his, while she cried...he realized. He loved her with all his heart and Choji too. They were all he had left.

Shikamaru grabs her shoulders hard enough for her to look at him.

"We'll get through this." He tells her and she tries to straighten up.

Without warning, his lips crash against hers, because he feels like it and he knows Asuma's laughing right now. Choji snaps out of his depression and looks at them with surprise. He wonders if she's going to slap him as he pulls away. But he can't help but notice the blush suits her pale skin perfectly.

Ino looks at him with wide eyes for a moment, then her arms circle his neck as she hugs him.

He smiles to Asuma's memory and Choji smiles as well.

You always knew, didn't you?

Three children, grown up before their time searched the heavens. And their sensei smiled down at them.

I'm so proud of you...

A/N: I cried while writing this...I'm so sad...and I have an exam tomorrow on ethics. Screw ethics! T.T