Welcome to When You Say You Love Me! The story is a SEQUEL to Miru Hoshi, but you don't necessarily have to read the first one for this to make sense. For those of you who have read the first story, this chapter will seem familiar because I took it directly out of Miru Hoshi. I am posting two chapters today so that you will have a 'new' one to read in addition to this review chapter. I plan on updating again this Friday, but after that it will probably be Monday-only updates.
The title of the story and chapter titles are taken from the lyrics of "When You Say You Love Me" by Josh Groban. If you have time, go on youtube and look the song up. It is absolutely beautiful.
Disclaimer: Naruto is property of Kishimoto-sama. "When You Say You Love Me" is property of Josh Groban. This disclaimer applies from chapter one to...whenever this story ends.�
Chapter One—Silence Calling
"This way, Haruno-san. Your table is ready," the waitress said, leading the way through the restaurant.
She slid open the door to a private booth, letting the pink-haired medic slip inside before closing the door behind her.
"Do you know how long I've been trying to get a hold of you, Forehead?" Ino demanded, her pale blue eyes flickering with roiling emotions.
Sakura calmly scanned the menu as she answered, "It's been a busy morning, Ino-pig. First I had to treat Hinata, then Tenten went-"
"You saw Hinata? Is it really true that she and Sasuke are interested in each other?" the blond interrupted.
"Yes, Ino. They are attracted to each other. Sasuke is out of your reach. Do not interfere with them, or I will make certain you regret it," firm green eyes met wide blue ones as she continued, "Hinata has a chance at happiness with Sasuke. She has been alone for far too long and I won't let you ruin this before she has that chance."
Ino's lip quivered coquettishly at this and she asked plaintively, "Don't I deserve a chance at happiness?"
"You can have your pick of men, Ino. Sasuke is the first one to interest Hinata since Naruto. You will not do anything to break them apart," Sakura stated.
Ino was kept from responding when the waitress came to take their order. As soon as the door shut behind her, the blond scowled at her friend.
"But it's Sasuke, Forehead! He's the most gorgeous man I've ever seen. Just because you're happy with Rock Lee doesn't mean I should stop-" she cut off abruptly, eyes wide, when a chakra-laden fist came to hover just in front of her nose
Sakrua's green eyes were furious as she glared at her best friend.
"By Kami, Ino, if you won't leave Sasuke and Hinata alone, I will physically stop you," she growled.
The blond met the glare head-on for a long moment. Even though she was still a chuunin, she was a powerful ninja. Although, it was no small challenge to face the superhuman strength of the Fifth Hokage's former apprentice. Her scowl faltered and she glanced away. Just then, the waitress returned with their food. Ino took a bite, then smiled at her friend.
"So, have you and Lee set a date, Forehead?" she asked.
Sakura relaxed at this question. Ino was too proud to admit that she would stop pursuing Sasuke, but this change of subject was a peace offering showing that she acquiesced to the medic's demand.
"Not yet," she said, "You know how Lee is. He would marry me today, but I want everything to be perfect," Sakura said.
"What about your dress?" Ino asked.
The rest of lunch passed in this manner and Sakura left the restaurant in a cheerful mood. Ino, however, was inwardly miserable. She decided to go see Shikamaru. Despite his lazy personality, he always managed to cheer her up. When she knocked on the door to his apartment, there was a moment of silence.
Then, Shikamaru's voice was heard through the door, "Coming! How troublesome…"
The blond found a smile coming to her face even before she saw him. Of course, he had to ruin everything when he opened the door. His eyes widened at the sight of her and he quickly set down the half-full packing box he had been carrying. He stepped out into the hallway, partially closing the door behind him.
"Ino, what are you doing here? This is really not a good time," he said.
She frowned, but her questions were answered by another voice from his apartment.
"Shikamaru, who is it?" a female called.
"No one important, Temari," he responded.
He turned back to his visitor and caught the hurt expression in Ino's eyes. His bored look was replaced by one of chagrin as he realized how his long-time friend would take that statement. He muttered something under his breath about troublesome women, then reached out a hand to her.
"Look, Ino…" he began.
She caught the gleam of a plain gold band on his left ring finger and ducked away from his hand, looking stunned. Shikamaru followed her gaze and his ashamed expression deepened.
"We eloped last night. It was totally unplanned. I'm sorry, Ino, but it would be best if you left now. Temari would not be pleased to find you here since we've…dated in the past," he said quietly.
Again, the blond was far too stubborn to show that he had hurt her with his words. She pulled herself together, nodding in response to what he had said.
"You're right, Shika. I apologize for interrupting. Are you moving to the Sand Village then?" she asked politely.
He shook his head.
"No, we're moving just down the street into a house. Temari refuses to live in an apartment. She says it makes her feel too confined," Shikamaru said.
"Well then, I…hope you two are happy together," she said, the words bitter in her mouth.
"Thank you, Ino," Shikamaru said, wisely backing away from her and going back into his apartment.
Back to his wife.
Ino held her head high as she left the building, blinking back tears. She refused to cry over him. If he had moved on, she certainly could as well. The blond set her jaw firmly. She would go see Chouji.
Ino met her other teammate as he was leaving his apartment.
"Chouji, can we talk?" she asked him.
"Sure! I was just on my way to the new barbeque place to get something to eat. We can talk there," the large chuunin offered.
"Actually, I wanted to talk privately. Can we just stay at your apartment?" Ino said.
Chouji looked rather put out at the thought of delaying his meal. Ino's tenuous control of her temper snapped.
"Fine! Go to your barbeque restaurant, Chouji, but don't expect to see me outside a mission again," she spat, storming from the building and leaving Chouji gaping after her.
Ino left the walls of Konoha, moving swiftly through the forest which surrounded it. She stopped running when she reached her favorite field. There, surrounded by myriads of colorful flowers, she sat down and at last allowed herself to cry. Shikamaru and Chouji had been her friends since they were first placed on a team together. She had relied on the two of them for almost everything, but now that would change. Shikamaru was married and she refused to keep competing with food for Chouji's attention.
The blond lifted her head as a bug settled on her bare arm. Unlike most girls, the sight of the bug did not cause her to panic. Years of working around them in her parents' flower shop had delivered her of that fear. The bug flew off her arm, drawing her attention to a man she had not noticed beforehand. He leaned against a tree at the edge of the clearing, dressed entirely in dark clothing that was probably the reason she had not noticed him earlier. Despite the warmth of the day, he wore a jacket which covered his hair and the lower half of his face. The visible portion of his features was further hidden behind dark sunglasses. Seeing that she had noticed him, he straightened and walked toward her. He paused a few feet away.
"Am I intruding, Yamanaka-san?" he asked in a deep, soothing voice.
Ino knew she recognized him, though she could not recall his name. Still, there was something about his presence that made her relax. Wiping away her tears with one hand, she gave him a brilliant smile.
"Not at all. Please sit," she hesitated, waiting for him to offer his name.
He took a step closer, then lowered his lean form onto the grass. Though it was impossible to make out any expression in the small portion of his face that was visible, she sensed somehow that he was disappointed by her failure to recognize him.
"Aburame Shino," he supplied.
'The bug boy from Kiba and Hinata's team,' she realized.
That explained why he had seemed familiar, and why she hadn't been able to place him. Because of his unique ability with bugs, he had often been assigned solo missions even as a chuunin. Since he had become a jounin, nearly all his missions were solo or with other members of his clan. Even when her team had been paired with his, he had easily been overshadowed by the boisterous Kiba and even the quieter Hinata. She wondered why this reclusive man had suddenly decided to speak with her.
"What is the matter, Yamanaka-san?" Shino asked.
Ino looked up into his dark glasses, seeing only the reflection of her own face. Her smile wavered.
"What do you mean?" she said.
Shino leaned forward and, ever so gently, ran a calloused finger down her cheek. The blond felt her breath catch at this unexpectedly tender gesture from the mysterious jounin. She tried to search his gaze, but the sunglasses hid any emotion from her scrutiny. He leaned back, lifting his finger so that she could see the tear which glittered on its tip.
"You have been crying, Yamanaka-san. Why?" he repeated.
Ino was still unable to read his expression, but something in that deep voice seemed to shatter the barriers her pride had built around her heart. Tears rushed back into her eyes, blurring the field around her. She dropped her head so that her long hair hid her face and let the tears fall as she blurted out the entire story—from Sasuke's rejection, to Sakura's ultimatum, to Shikamaru's sudden marriage. Ino ended with a tirade against barbeque restaurants and Chouji's inattentiveness.
Throughout the long speech, Shino sat quietly without showing a sign of boredom. Then again, it was nearly impossible to see any kind of emotion on his concealed face.
"Now I've lost both of them and I don't know what to do," she ended tearfully.
Shino regarded her silently before saying, "It doesn't sound to me like you have lost your teammates, Yamanaka-san."
"But they both have someone…or something…more important in their lives," she protested.
Though she could not see his expression, she was again able to sense his emotions. He seemed almost amused by her words.
"Forgive me, but everything does not revolve around you. You can remain friends with your teammates without being the center of their attention," the jounin stated.
Usually, this sort of statement would earn Ino's wrath, but around this man it seemed that she just could not summon her rage. She leaned toward him, studying what she could see of his face again in an attempt to determine what it was about him that affected her so powerfully. Beneath those sunglasses and the hood, he might actually be handsome. The well-defined cheekbones and aristocratic nose boded well for his hidden features. Ino smiled suddenly, leaning even closer to him.
"But I like being the center of attention," she purred.
Before he could catch himself, Shino drew his head away from her advance. The blond smirked at this sign of discomfort from the otherwise stoic man.
"Things don't always turn out the way we would like them to," he said.
Ino could not immediately think of a response to that, so instead she scooted toward him and laid a hand over his. She could feel the vibration of the insects which lived inside him through his skin. Not expecting this, she instinctively pulled back her hand. Again, she felt the jounin's disappointment. He didn't say a word though as he rose and began to walk away, taking with him the comfort he had brought. Ino scowled, not ready to let him go.
"Shino-kun!" she called, following after him.
He stopped and turned back toward her. When she reached him, Ino acted impulsively. She yanked down the fabric which covered the lower portion of his face, taking a moment to admire his finely-shaped mouth, then used the hold she had on his jacket to pull him down to her level before kissing him deeply. When his lips touched hers, Ino felt an electric current run through her body. Kissing Shikamaru and Chouji had never felt like this! She was so dazed by the feeling that she didn't notice he had pulled away until he spoke, voice cold.
"Do not toy with me, Yamanaka-san," he stated, making a hand sign and vanishing with a puff of smoke.
Ino lifted a hand to her lips, wondering if his lips had left a mark. It did not seem he had, but her world had been shaken. She knew instinctively that no man would be able to measure up to what she had just experienced. Now she just had to convince Shino that she was the only woman for him. Her light blue eyes narrowed. There was no way she was going to let the reclusive bug-user escape her.
�Please leave me a review and offer any comments or advice about this chapter. I welcome constructive criticism.