Thanks to Ivzory, Caili-kun, JaliceLove, silentE, cherrysakura12345, The Filipina Dreamer, Rose and an anonymous reviewer for reviewing the last chapter and voting! :] Wow! Sorry if I didn't get to reply to you. You have to understand how busy I am lately. Well anyways, enjoy chapter numero cuatro!
Regrets: Chapter Four
Shikamaru's gaze shifted to the third person in the picture, a young boy, about four years old. He noted that the boy had the same black, tousled hair as the man and the same, unmistakable twinkle in his familiar-looking blue eyes as Ino.
And that's when Shikamaru realized: Ino didn't belong to him anymore.
I think I know why Ino left Konoha…
"Oh, Shikamaru-kun! Please come in," Mrs. Yamanaka stood aside to let the lazy ninja in.
"Thank you Yamanaka-san."
He sat on his favorite chair quietly. Without hesitation, he asked, "Is Ino back from her mission yet?"
Mrs. Yamanaka shook her head and said simply, "I haven't heard from her yet."
"So Shikamaru-kun, what brings you here today?"
Shikamaru sighed, "Oh, nothing really. I just wanted to visit."
Ino's mother looked disbelieving. "You are just like Nara-san. You've finally gotten your lazy self to do something, and now you refuse to admit what you wanted to do." She arranged some flowers in a vase.
He chuckled. "Well, I just wanted to check if Ino was here. But since she's not, I guess we could talk."
"What do you want to talk about?" Mrs. Yamanaka laced her fingers nervously. Her signs of anxiety did not go undetected by the lazy genius.
She knows what I want to talk about. "Um, Yamanaka-san, do you happen to know why Ino left Konoha four years ago?"
She sighed. "I knew you were going to ask that."
"Oh." He blushed. "Well, if it's personal, then you don't have to tell me…"
"It's fine. Ino just had some important mission, that's all." She waved her hand, as if trying to dismiss the subject.
"What was the mission?" The Nara inquired quite nosily.
Her eyes narrowed. "Nothing at all. Ino-chan just needed some space. That's it. She wanted to have some alone time."
That caught Shikamaru's attention. Was it something I did wrong?
"That's all I'm going to say. If you want to know more about the subject I suggest you ask Ino when she returns," she said, her eyes heavy with ice. But then her mood suddenly shifted and she became her regular, cheery self—an older version of the girl Yamanaka Ino used to be. "Good day Shikamaru-kun, tell your parents I said hi!"
Great. He sighed and got up. "'Bye Yamanaka-san, of course I will."
He leaned against the doorframe after he closed it. Looks like Ino won't be back for a while. I've gone for too long living like I'm not alive. I have to see her again…How can I get her off my mind? He knew the answer right away. He couldn't.
I wonder what Chouji is doing today…
"What's wrong?" Chouji opened his door and asked the Nara boy.
Shikamaru's brow furrowed. Was it really that obvious that something was on his mind? Something named Yamanaka Ino?
"Nothing's wrong," his answer seemed so automatic.
Something's definitely wrong, thought Chouji suspiciously. He chuckled. "Sure, sure."
Shikamaru didn't bother answering. He made his way up to Chouji's rooftop and plopped down, sighing. Chouji sat next to him with another bag of chips.
"If I didn't know better, I'd have to say it's Ino who's on your mind again," Chouji stated quietly between munching.
Damnit. He was too easy to read.
"Hn." He growled through his clenched teeth. His thoughts kept lingering back to that locket that Ino had… he felt it in his pocket to make sure it was still there. It was his only trace of Ino left, and the hell he wasn't going to let her go.
"We've talked. I know everything."
Shikamaru laid his head on his knees, avoiding Chouji's solemn gaze. So he knew. Of course Ino would tell Chouji… the three of them had always been ridiculously close, almost like siblings. He was sure that was what Ino thought of him now, even though he thought of her as so much more…
"Do you know… why Ino left Konoha?" An uncomfortable silence filled the air as Shikamaru awaited the answer. He hoped that Ino wouldn't tell Chouji.
"She wouldn't tell me."
"Oh," he mumbled. Of course. Telling Chouji would only hurt him more. He was glad that after all these years he still cared for her, even though she barely knew who he was now. And he could say the exact same thing about her.
It was true; Ino had changed drastically. He almost, almost couldn't tell who she was at first. His mind still stuck to an image of seventeen-year-old Ino. Now, Ino was becoming an attractive young woman at twenty-one. She had cropped her previously long, waist-length hair to sit right above her shoulders. She didn't wear flashy, revealing clothes like she used to, or those arm guards, or anything. Her outfit consisted of a modest long-sleeve shirt, a purple skirt that ended slightly above her knees, and fishnets around her arms. He thought Ino looked good; even better than before. A few years ago he would have never thought that Ino could look so beautiful.
He missed the way her eyes used to shine when she looked him in the eyes. He missed her radiant laughter, chiming like bells. Most of all, he missed how she used to call him Shika-kun. Nobody but Ino ever called him that. It was like her possessive nickname for her. It proved that he was hers and would always be hers.
Now, the same brilliant blue eyes pierced right through him like they had never done before. She hardly laughed, and when she did it was mournful, sadistic even. And she would never call him Shika-kun again, for all he knew, only a curt "Shikamaru."
He never knew it was humanly possible for him to miss somebody so much. He had never stopped thinking about her, even after she left. He felt like he would go crazy if she didn't come back from her mission soon. Maybe he could check in with Sakura, she probably knew something about her mission, if they were even speaking to each other.
Sakura. He almost allowed himself to forget still had commitments. Damn it, he was about to get married in two months! He couldn't just let himself be thinking about Ino all the time! She wasn't his anymore, and he wasn't hers. It just was never meant to be.
He knew just how devastated and heartbroken Sakura would be when she found out that he had been lying, that he had been unfaithful all this time.
We've tied our pain below and no one ever has to know that inside we're broken.
He couldn't even think about what had happened before…
Flashback: two days ago
Damn…Ino…BREATHE! Shikamaru fought back tears. Don't die on me now Ino…not when I need you.
He gently laid his lips upon hers, startled at how impossibly cold she was. He breathed in and out several times, trying to get a pulse.
Finally, he felt something. He took a sigh of relief. He knew that his time was almost up, that he would have to remove his lips from hers before she got suspicious.
But hell…it felt good. The taste of her lips. The touch of her skin. It was too much for him to bear. He kissed her one last time, exerting his full force of passion onto the nearly conscious blonde, because he knew that once she gained consciousness she would never kiss him again.
Her eyelids slowly fluttered open and Shikamaru resisted the temptation to keep kissing Ino.
Sure, it wasn't like he kissed Ino by his own volition. She was dying, and he was merely there to save her life. But the thing that bothered him most was that he actually enjoyed it. And if that wasn't cheating, Nara Shikamaru didn't know what it was.
Oh god…what have I done to Sakura?
"Chouji." He stood up, casting a long shadow on his best friend.
"I have to go… to Sakura."
Chouji somehow seemed to understand this all and nodded. "Go to her, Shikamaru."
He waved his hand goodbye as he jumped off the roof.
Sakura had already been the cure for Ino once… surely she could help him this time.
"Oh, hi…Ino." Sakura forced a smile.
Ino returned it politely, "Forehead." As soon as the door was shut, she buried her face in her hands. She desperately needed to talk to her best friend. She had told Shikamaru that she was on a mission, when she really just needed to talk to Sakura.
"Oh god. I'm such an idiot!"
Sakura held out her arms for Ino, "What are you talking about?"
Ino embraced Sakura, crying onto her shoulder. "You know why I left Konoha…right?"
"Yes…" tears welled up in Sakura's eyes as well. How could she do such a terrible thing to poor Shikamaru?
"I'll never forgive myself again!" sobbed Ino. "I can't believe I've been so unfaithful!"
Shikamaru. The four years I have been without you were the darkest years of my life. I've never stopped thinking about you, as much as I tried to. Oh, god. I've missed you like hell.
Sakura didn't say anything, she knew she couldn't say anything that would ever make Ino change her mind. She had always been so headstrong.
"Oh Sakura," Ino whispered, smudging her eyeliner, "don't you see? I don't deserve a great guy like Shikamaru! You'd be so much better for him. You're the sweetest girl alive. I'm nothing but a slut and a bitch who coldly and cruelly broke her true love's heart!"
Sakura sighed, "Ino. I understand how you feel."
"No, you don't."
"Fine, whatever you say. I just want you to know that I'm here for you, Ino. I always have, always will be."
"You're not mad at me for leaving Konoha? Or breaking your future husband's heart?"
"No. Whatever you do, I'll stand up for you." Sakura smiled at Ino. She meant it.
Ino grinned back through her tears, "Sakura. You're still my best friend. I won't let you give up on a miracle. From now on, nobody is going to stop you from marrying Shika-ku—I mean, Shikamaru."
"What?" Sakura asked, confused.
"You heard me right," the blonde said with a cheerful smile despite the situation, "I'm not going to stand between Shikamaru and you. I already broke his heart once, and I assure you I'll never do it again."
"How are you going to do that?"
"Because I'm leaving you…and Shikamaru…and Konoha, tomorrow. Forever. I'm never coming back," she smiled sadly, her face still wet with tears.
Sakura's eyes widened and she said incredulously, "You don't have to do that Ino!"
"Trust me. I do." Ino hugged her friend one last time before whispering, "And don't bother telling Shikamaru. He's just going to come chasing after me again. And I don't want that to happen to him."
Sakura nodded and a single tear slid down her cheek. Nevertheless, she kept smiling because she knew that her best friend would be even more upset if she started crying on the spot. "I guess this is goodbye Ino…"
Ino smiled and nodded. "Good luck with your wedding," and she was gone. Forever.
Shikamaru arrived at Sakura's house just a little too late.
The first thing he did when he stepped over the threshold was give his fiancée a long, deserving, passionate kiss. But he realized, as he was kissing the pink-haired girl, that his thoughts weren't around Sakura. Instead, the whole time he was kissing her, he was thinking about Ino. Oh god…this is wrong…this is so wrong!
He broke free and stared painfully at his future wife.
"Sakura, where's Ino?" he questioned.
How come when he sees me the first thing he asks about is Ino? Why doesn't he ask how I'm doing like he used to?
Sakura smiled sadly at her future husband. "It's better that you don't know."
His eyes widened in shock, "What?" He went over to his fiancée and grabbed her arms. "Sakura. Don't tell me…"
He knew it was already too late. He bolted out the door without hesitation, leaving Sakura behind.
A pair of cold jade eyes gazed at the running figure longingly.
After four years of not seeing Ino, he's falling for her all over again! What do I do? I don't want Ino to get her heart broken again, but I definitely don't want my fiancé chasing other people! Why did she have to come and make things so complicated…? Things were perfectly fine before she left…
Meanwhile, a certain lazy genius scoured the town of Konohagakure, looking for a certain blue-eyed blonde. He would never stop until he found her. Because if he didn't, and Ino left him again, he just didn't know what he would do. But then again, he didn't know what he would do once he found her…
That troublesome woman! If she had never left Konoha, this would never had happened! Sure, I fell in love with Sakura because she left me… but now that she's back I'm starting to love her again! Who do I love? I love Sakura. And then I love Ino. Oh, kami-sama, I love them both, why do I have to pick one?!
"Sh-shikamaru-kun! P-please, come q-quick!" Shikamaru whirled around impatiently to find himself in the presence of a shy raven-haired girl.
"What is it Hinata?" he replied urgently.
"P-please come with me. Ch-chouji-kun is in the h-hospital, and he's severely in-injured," the Hyuuga girl stuttered. "I-I thought you might want to see h-him again, th-this may be your l-last time…"
Shikamaru hesitated and he quickly found himself in yet another dilemma in his complicated life.
If I don't find Ino soon, she might be gone forever…if I don't see Chouji NOW, I may never see him again! What do I do? …
Haha. Ooooh, suspense… well forgive me, this IS angst…well not really angst, just drama I guess. It's more of Romance/drama/angst actually.
I promise Shika/Ino will meet sometime soon...
Oh, if you're wondering why this is titled 'Miracle,' it's after the Paramore song Miracle! I put some lyrics from that song in here. Also, it sort of follows Miracle by Cascada, which I also really like.
Haha, please review! Let's see if I can get 8-10 reviews as always! :D (No review pressure here!! ;))
The next chapter will be called Oxygen. ;D