A Deer's Lament

Chapter 1

"Asuma-sensei!" Shikamaru shouted, tears streaming down his face as he watched his teacher and life-long friend die. He had never cried so liberally before, not even when his mother died. But his mother's death had been different – he was young, not even a chunin, and she had been distant. Asuma's death was a whole other matter completely. Asuma had meant more to Shikamaru than any other person in the world.

And he had left the genius behind. Alone and unloved in a cruel world. How could Asuma be so cruel to Shikamaru? How could he ever be so heartless to the prodigy he had played Shogo with every afternoon? Hadn't they been closer than that?

Shikamaru was suddenly washed over with a feeling of sorrow. Asuma had died, left him alone, and Shikamaru felt an incredible urge to follow his sensei into the dark. He wanted to be with his 'father' for all eternity, maybe even to be with his mother. Without Asuma being alive, there was no reason for him to live. Ino and Choji flashed through his mind then, and he realized that he needed to protect those Asuma couldn't. He had to live for Asuma.

Across the field from he, Hidan laughed in triumph. "Another soul to devour!" He shouted gleefully as he kissed his Jashin necklace. "Come, come, who's next?! We'll share the pain together, and I'll kill your fucking ass!" His purple eyes gleamed maliciously in the sunlight. A gush of rage swept through Shikamaru then, and he couldn't help but growl fiercely. Slowly, he stood, a perfect plan already forming in his strategic mind. He would avenge his fallen comrade, and he would protect those Asuma couldn't. This Akatsuki member would not escape with Asuma's death on his hands…

Shikamaru blinked once, twice, and rubbed his eyes. Ever since Asuma's death two days ago, he had been plagued with the scene. Over and over Asuma died before his eyes, the feelings of woe and misery overtaking him again and again. His eyes burned with fresh tears for his fallen teacher, but he fought them down with a sniffle. It was sad to admit, but he had cried enough already.

"Are you alright, Shikamaru?" Ino asked from his right, softly putting a hand on his arm. Her eyes were full of concern and dried tears. Of course, she knew about Asuma's death and, as a female, was able to cry and be depressed for as long as she wanted. Shikamaru, being male, was supposed to have recovered from Asuma's death already. He was supposed to be strong for her, and so he lied,

"Yeah, I'm fine." He willed his voice and face to stay neutral.

Their eyes stayed connected for a tense moment before Ino gripped his arm once in a comforting way and let go. She turned to her food and stared down at it, picking at it dejectedly. Her eyes watered, and she sniffled in depression. A moment later, she was sobbing in Choji's shoulder. The Akimichi tried his hardest to console the Yamanaka, but it was in vain. When she was like this, consolation was impossible.

Shikamaru sighed heavily as he listened to the blonde's sobs. He looked down to his meal miserably, picking at it with his fingers. Any desire left to eat disappeared as Kurenai's shocked face appeared before him. Of all affected by Asuma's death, Kurenai had suffered the most. They had been married, after all – two years spent together. Not a very long time.

All over again, the dark shroud of depression hovered over Shikamaru's thoughts. How long would he grieve? How much farther could he possibly fall?

The answer came to him instantly, as all answers did: Until he properly overcame his grief. And he could not do that until he left Konoha – which was full of grieving citizens – to sort out that grief. He needed to be away, alone, and ignorant to the rest of Konoha. Temporary abandonment was the only way.

Sighing away the tears that threatened him, Shikamaru stood and turned to leave. "I'm going home," he lied. "I've got to rest up for a mission tomorrow." That was a lie, too. He was getting better at lying to his friends. Nowadays, it came naturally, without conscious thought. He was a genius in many ways, he supposed. A part of him resented lying so much, he nearly hated himself entirely. But Shikamaru fought that self-hatred, not wanting to fall even deeper into a depression that was already smothering him.

Shikamaru sighed heavily – something he was doing more and more of after Asuma's death – as he stepped out of the restaurant. He leaned against the eatery's left wall, looking out at Konoha. People moved about, doing what they must. With his intelligence and insight, Shikamaru could easily see that they had been devastated by Asuma's death as well. Konohagakure was a relatively small village, and so everyone knew each other. Whenever someone died, it always sent waves of pain, shock, and depression rolling through the village. With people constantly mentioning Asuma's death, Shikamaru's depression only increased. Especially when people approached him randomly and started apologizing for it.

That was why Shikamaru had to temporarily leave. How would he ever recover from the shock, fight away the depression, when people continued talking about it? And so Shikamaru decided to leave. He needed time alone, on his own, in order to recuperate.

Shikamaru pushed against the wall and began to walk away, lighting a cigarette as he walked. He brought the burning roll of tobacco to his lips and took a long drag. The things were addicting. This was one of the last twenty cigarettes Asuma had owned. Besides the one he was smoking now, there were only ten left. He had promised Ino that he would quit once the pack was gone, but he wasn't sure if he could keep that promise. They were so good…

Before he knew it, he was out of Konoha completely, in the thick woods surrounding the village. He inhaled deeply on his cigarette – it was almost gone now – and stopped to rest before a beautiful tree, looking out at the forest as he finished his cigarette and killed the fire, placing the remains in his pocket. The genius sighed heavily, contentedly, and laid his head back against the tree's trunk. He exhaled once more, closing his eyes as he left his mind drift.

The next time Shikamaru opened his eyes, darkness embraced everything around him as crickets chirped, owls hooted, and fireflies sparkled. Shikamaru stood, a little dizzy, and looked up at the stars checking his position. This was very hard to do when trees blocked your view.

Eventually, though, Shikamaru was able to determine his location and which way was away from Konoha. He continued on his 'journey,' enjoying the forest even more in the dark. The depression smothering him was loosening its grip, receding so that he could actually breathe again. It felt good to fill his lungs with oxygen; as if he had not breathed for his own in a very long time. And he hadn't.

His footsteps went unheard as he walked. Even if he wasn't on duty and lacked a true need to be stealthy, Shikamaru preferred it. This way, he could hear more of the forest around him. It was soothing.

An unexpected crunch in the foliage nearby brought Shikamaru to a halt. The sound was too large to be a deer or small animal, and, based on the sound caused by the snapping twig, it was something bigger than a deer. Bears weren't known for residing in this area, and no other sound had been made afterwards, which meant that it wasn't an animal or natural movement. Almost instantly, Shikamaru had come to a conclusion; he wasn't alone anymore. Someone was hiding nearby.

Shikamaru silently pulled out a kunai and assumed a battle position as he strained his ears for more. But there was nothing; whoever has caused the noise had either frozen in their tracks as well, or had run away without making another sound.

Behind him, about twenty-five meters to his right, another twig snapped. Without thinking, he whirled around and threw his kunai at the predator. It hit, but not a target; the kunai lodged itself into a tree.

Pulling out another kunai, Shikamaru wrapped an explosive note around it and waited, straining his ears to pick up even the smallest of sounds. Suddenly, the sounds of his own bodily functions seemed so much louder than they were normally. Shikamaru prayed to any deity above him that his heartbeat wasn't as loud as it sounded.

Again, a loud crack ran through the woods. Directly behind him.

Panicking now, Shikamaru whirled around once more and stabbed his kunai downwards, keeping a tight hold on it. He drove the kunai into nothing but air. His fright increased, sending more adrenaline pumping through his veins. His logical mind told him to calm down and use his intelligence, but it was barely heard over the screams of his primeval mind. "Someone unseen is here and they're toying with you!" It shouted. "Defend yourself!"

Just as he was about to turn around again, someone jabbed the back of his neck with two fingers, killing his consciousness.

The next time he awoke, his arms were tied behind his back, and he was laying against a cold, hard floor. His neck hurt, but the pounding in his head completely overpowered it. Shikamaru groaned and tried to roll out of his current position - everything ached with an intensity that tempted him against movement - only to learn that his mouth was bonded shut. Forcing himself to roll onto his stomach - he had been on his side before - Shikamaru touched his forehead to the cool ground, thanking Kami for it. The cold helped relieve some of the pain radiating through his skull, though not by much.

Slowly and carefully untying the bonds holding his wrists together, Shikamaru's genius mind started to form several means of escape, all complete in less than five seconds. The ropes on his wrists came off easily. Silent as a deer, Shikamaru sat upright and untied the cloth around his mouth, lying in down against his chest like a necktie in case he needed to look binded. He kept the rope connecting his wrists on, like a long bracelet. All precautions had been thought up by his mind the instant he learned of the ties.

Taking his time, Shikamaru climbed to his feet and soaked in his surroundings. He was in some sort of prison cell; the room was bare save for a candle on the west and east walls. The only way in or out was a door directly above him. From what he could see, stairs led up to it. Tightly gripping the stairs' railing, Shikamaru made his way to the door, turned the knob, and...

...he was out! The door swung open freely, void of any sort of trap or determent. Light of a normal day burned into his retinas, but Shikamaru welcomed the blinding pain. Once his eyes adjusted to the light, Shikamaru poked his head out of the door and looked around again. It seemed like he was in a house of some sort; he could plainly see that going to his left would lead him to a kitchen. Directly in front of him were more stairs, but to the right...The right didn't seem to lead anywhere. Curious, Shikamaru moved off to the right. He'd come back for the stairs later.

Careful to keep his footsteps silent, Shikamaru followed the hallway. The farther he followed it, the darker and colder the place got. He was soon overcome with a dark, foreboding sense of death, betrayal, and pain. It was overwhelming; it griped at Shikamaru's heart like a hand made of ice, ripped it out of his chest, and threw it back at him. Shikamaru's breath came out in ragged gasps as his heart raced. But he ignored it, forcing himself to continue on.

The very first thing he saw of the room at the end of the hall was an Uchiha wall scroll, holding three Uchiha symbols in vertical correspondence to one another. Shikamaru stifled a gasp by slapping his hand over his mouth. He forced himself to continue on, sliding his fingertips against the wall for support.

Finally, the entire room was visible from where he stood. This time, he couldn't stifle the cry that escaped from his lips. In the very center of the room was a large blood stain, large enough to have been the remnants of two people's blood. In the far left corner of the room were two large sliding doors, leading out of the Uchiha home. Shikamaru frantically ran over to it, carefully jumping over the large bloodstain, and grabbed the handle to open on side.

"Now, Shikamaru," a familiar voice said from the hallway, "that wouldn't be very polite, now would it? After I so kindly brought you to my home and gave you a room to call your own?"

Shikamaru's hold on the door's handle tightened in anger. "Uchiha Sasuke," he spat, hatred in every syllable. "Why did you bring me here?"

Sasuke advanced four steps, but didn't respond.

"Let me go!" Shikamaru shouted angrily, pulling out a kunai and whipping around.

To his amazement, Sasuke had somehow crossed the room in four steps. How had Shikamaru not felt his presence behind him? More importantly, how had Sasuke crossed the room in four steps? "Now, now," Sasuke hissed as he grabbed Shikamaru's wrists in either of his hands, "it's impolite to be so rude to a host who's treated you so kindly." Slowly, but with a painful force, Sasuke pried the kunai out of Shikamaru's hand and put it back in its holster in a way that made the deer feel uncomfortable.

"Sasuke," Shikamaru spat through gritted teeth, "what do you want with me?" He stared into those blood-red Sharingan eyes, hoping to seem strong and defiant.

There was a long moment of silence before Sasuke answered, "Help."

"W-what?" Shikamaru stammered, surprised.

"I need your help," Sasuke repeated calmly.

Shikamaru's surprise was replaced with anger. He frowned. "Me help you? After what you've done to Naruto? Sakura? The entire village?! No." Shikamaru finished firmly, fists balled. "No way in hell!"

Sasuke's grip on Shikamaru tightened to the point where the chunin could hear his wrist bones crack. As Shikamaru cried out in pain, Sasuke hissed in his ear, "Soon enough, someone will find the false evidence I laid. They'll all think you killed yourself. With your level of depression over Asuma's death, it wouldn't be very surprising."

"You bastard." Shikamaru growled. How had he known about that?

"There's no way out of this, so you might as well listen."

"There's no way back to my normal life anyway, so what's the point? I can still choose not to help you, since I'm already dead."

He really wished he wasn't so defiant sometimes. Sasuke's grip on Shikamaru's wrists tightened until they collapsed with a sickening crack. Shikamaru screamed in pain, and Sasuke threw him to the ground. "Once you're ready to talk civilly," he snapped, "come find me." He left.

Weeping with pain, Shikamaru rolled onto his back, holding his wrists as waves of pain swept through him. Sasuke had completely shattered both of his wrists - what good could he possibly be now?

There has to be a way out of this, he thought. But his subconscious was having none of that; it shut down his nerve endings, then each of his five senses, until, finally, he fell asleep.


w00t! Another update from Bianca! This is a ShikaSasu yaoi request from my "brother." Originally, it was going to be a oneshot, but I thought to myself, "How would that possibly work? That would be one long oneshot!" And so I decided to turn it into an actual story. This is the first chapter. So what do you think? Review, please!