Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or She's All That.
Author's Note: Thank you to all who have reviewed and stayed interested in this story despite my absence. A special thanks to Deithefrenchfri who sent me a wonderful personal message about my stories. Your message got me back in gear to restart this chapter. This chapter is un'betaed and lacks proofreading in favor of getting it up. Sorry for any mistakes.
Chapter Fourteen- The Swing
After the scene between Hinata and Sakura, Ino wasn't in much of a partying mood. So she found Naruto, who was following Hanabi around like some sort of lost puppy, thanked him for the party, and made up an excuse about having to get home before her parents did. She thanked him for a killer party and was out the door after being there for not even a full hour.
Ignoring the cool air, she made her way over to her car and slid inside. Glancing up she caught her reflection in the rearview mirror, glossy lips, flawless makeup, and an enviable shine to her hair. She was the kind of girl that others wanted to be, but at the moment she didn't even like herself. There were times, like tonight, when the feeling crept up on her. There was regret over the choices she made and the shame of who she had become. It tended to hit her particularly when she looked at the people who she called her friends. They say to really get to know someone, look at their friends. In this case Ino was rather certain no one would like what they were seeing.
Flipping open her phone, she sent Hinata a quick text message asking her if she was alright. Immediately after she punched the send button her phone beeped at her indicating a low battery. She frowned, watching the little closing envelop that indicated the message was being sent. When a check mark popped up and the window closed she flipped her phone shut and sighed out loud as it shut itself down. That's what she got for being on it all the time. The battery never quite lasted all day. She needed to talk her dad into letting her get a new one.
She started the car and pulled away from the curb where she had parked. In autopilot, she made her way back to her house, not even bothering to turn on the radio. Pulling into her driveway, she glanced at her house. The living room light was on, but she knew no one was home. Her mother and father had gone out with some friends, and knowing them, they wouldn't be back until much later. She almost wished they were home, not quite feeling like being alone.
Turning off the car, she dropped her keys into her clutch and snapped it shut. She opened up her door and hit the lock button as she climbed out of the car. Shutting the door behind her, she made her way to the front door. Opening her clutch, she reached inside for her keys only to come up empty. Her blue eyes widened slightly as she proceeded to dump her clutch out on the step in front of the door. No keys. Frantically she shoved everything back inside of her bag and walked back to the car, her heels clicking on the asphalt. Pressing her forehead against the window she peered into her car only to see her keys lying on her seat. She must have missed her bag when she gone to drop them in.
She pulled her head away from the glass. She would just have to use the spare key to get inside. She took one step back towards the house when she remembered that she had used the spare key early that week and hadn't bothered to put it back. She cursed under her breath. How the hell was she supposed to get inside her house then? Her parents were out, and thanks to her phone being dead she couldn't call them. Plus because she had locked her keys in the car she couldn't go anywhere unless she walked. Most of her friends lived further away and even if she did decide to walk they were most likely at Naruto's.
Digging her phone out of her bag, she tried turning it on. The phone started up but as soon as it went to her background it beeped again and turned itself off.
"Stupid phone," she shouted as she not-so-gently threw it back into her clutch. Next she tried the car door as if it would somehow open through her sheer will. "Stupid car," she yelled once again, lamely kicking the tire when the door wouldn't open.
"You going to blame every inanimate object around you," drawled a lazy sounding voice, one she would recognize anywhere.
She glanced around, not seeing the source of the voice even though she knew he had to be somewhere.
"Up here," he said, his tone still bored.
She looked up and sure enough this time she spotted him. Shikamaru was up on the roof of his garage, back propped against the siding. She had known him well enough to know two things. The first was that his room was over the garage. All he needed to do was climb out his window to get onto the roof. The second was that he liked watching the sky. He preferred the clouds, but given that the day had been cloudless and clear, he was probably making up for it now by watching the stars.
There had been a time not too many years ago when it wouldn't have been uncommon to find her up there as well. Particularly on nights when something was bothering her or if she just wanted some company, she would climb up the tree that was growing beside the garage and join him on the roof. She found herself walking towards that tree now. She stopped when she reached it, leaning her back against the rough bark.
"I locked myself out of my house," she stated. She glanced up towards the roof and a moment later, she saw Shikamaru's face peering over the top.
"I figured that one out on my own."
She noticed he made no other attempt to say anything, and after about a minute of silence between them, she made the completely irrational decision of reaching down and slipping off her heels. The action broke Shikamaru's silence.
"What are you doing," he asked, looking at her with one eyebrow raised slightly.
"I'm going to climb the tree. I thought you a genius," she retorted as she placed her hands on the lowest branch.
"You haven't climbed that thing in years. You are going to hurt yourself."
"So what I am taller now, it should be easier," she retorted.
"You are wearing a dress, a very- short dress," he said after a moment.
"Yeah well don't pretend like you won't enjoy the view," she retorted as she brushed some blonde bangs away from her eyes and pulled herself up onto the branch.
She heard him mutter the word as she carefully navigated her way higher into the tree. She had been right about it being easier now that she was taller. However, he had been right in reminding her she hadn't climbed it in years. It was unfamiliar, and despite her reach, it took her longer than it had used to.
When she had nearly reached the roof, Shikamaru leaned over the side and offered her his hand to help with the last step. She hesitated for a brief moment before placing her hand in his and allowing him to pull her upwards onto the roof.
He did it with relative ease, and Ino found herself wondering how it was possible for someone so lazy to stay in shape. Then again as sad as it was to admit, she supposed she didn't actually know Shikamaru as well as she used to. People changed and there was no doubt there were a lot of thing she didn't know about him anymore.
She settled down on the roof, her back against the outside wall of his room, and wrapped her arms around herself to keep away the chill of the night air. To her surprise Shikamaru didn't immediately settle back down. Instead he moved back towards his window and slipped inside. For a moment the thought crossed her mind that he was going to just leave her out here by herself. He wouldn't do that, would he?
Her question was answered as he came back out through the window, a bundle in his hands. She eyed it for a moment before realizing that he was holding a dark gray hoodie.
"Here," he said as he thrust it towards her. "You can use this."
"Thanks," she muttered, her cheeks growing warm as she took the hoodie from his hands. Using the excuse of pulling on the sweatshirt, she looked away. She pulled the hoodie over her head, noting how large it was on her, as she brought her knees to her chest and wrapped her arms around her legs. Beside her, Shikamaru had settled back onto his back to look up at the stars.
"So my mom told me that you got accepted into Kage University," Ino said, breaking the silence between them. Her mother had told her after Shikamaru's own mom had come over to gush about her boy being accepted into one of the top schools in the whole country. It wasn't much of a surprise. She knew that Shikamaru was incredibly smart. Beside her Shikamaru shrugged his shoulders as if the accomplishment wasn't that important.
"That's kind of a big deal you know," she pointed out when he offered nothing other than the shrug.
"I guess so, but I'm not going there," he said after a moment.
"What? Why not," she asked wide-eyed at the thought of turning down entrance to a school like Kage University.
"Too much work."
"You are a horrible liar," she countered, still looking up at him. He may be lazy but he had already done the work to get in. The excuse was a load of crap.
"I just don't have any interest in going there," he supplied after a moment. "Everyone I know is attending Kohona University in the fall. Plus I went and toured the campus two weeks ago with my parents. The students there were," he trailed off as if trying to think of the right words in his head. "Lets just say they weren't the kind of people I see myself wanting to be around, mostly self-centered, entitled, rich kids whose parents pay that hefty tuition bill. I mean I am sure they aren't all like that, but I'd rather not surround myself with those kind of people."
"Kind of like I did," Ino whispered quietly, his words hitting closer to home than she imagined they would. Because aside from the occasional one or two, most of Ino's closest friends fell into that category. At times she wondered if she herself fell there too.
"Yeah kind of like you did," Shikamaru agreed before tactfully switching the subject. "What about you? You still want to attend Kohona University for the fashion program?"
Ino laughed and shook her head, strands of platinum blonde hair dancing around her face as she did so. "I changed my mind two years ago. I am going to get my degree in psychology. I actually want to try and be a profiler," she admitted quietly. It was something she hadn't told anyone aside from her parents. No one else would take the blonde seriously when she mentioned wanting to be a criminal profiler.
"That is pretty ambitious," he said, and she felt herself bristle, ready to defend her decision. "You'd probably be pretty good at it though. You've always liked reading people."
Ino found herself smiling then, glad to know that he didn't think her ambition was silly. It meant a lot to her, though she didn't voice that. Instead she swallowed a sudden lump in her throat and nodded her head before turning her gaze back to the night sky.
They stayed comfortably like that for a while longer. Both of them were content to simply watch the sky. For Ino it was a nice change of pace. Normally on a night like tonight she would be chatting it up with her friends on Facebook or watching something on television. She hadn't done something like this in years. Actually it had probably been back when she had still been good friends with Shikamaru and Choji.
"Shikamaru," she said breaking the silence once again. From beside her he let out a 'hm' to acknowledge her.
"What happened to us? I mean stuff like this. Why did it all have to end," she whispered softly.
"You really don't know the answer to that," he asked, and when she didn't reply he let out an annoyed sigh. "You wanted to be popular Ino. That wasn't something that was going to happen with Choji and I around. We could take a hint."
"It wasn't that simple," she argued.
"Yes it was. We didn't fit into your image. You made that pretty clear."
She visibly winced as she remembered that day, the beginning of ninth grade when she had tried to explain to Choji and Shikamaru that she still wanted to be friends, but she wanted to sit with other friends in school. It had been a stupid, selfish thing to do. Yet there was a lot more to it than Shikamaru was bothering to point out, and her temper flared just slightly.
"So the whole thing was my fault, is that it? I guess you are forgetting how I tried to apologize later. I wanted to fix things," she said, her voice gradually increasing in its volume. "You wouldn't let me!"
"Because I was angry. You chose popularity over years of friendship. We'd known each other since we were in diapers and as soon as high school hit, you suddenly wanted nothing to do with us."
"I know I had messed up. That is why I wanted to say I was sorry," she said her voice no longer loud but instead reserved.
"I wasn't ready to forgive you," he said quietly.
"I'm sorry," she whispered after a moment. "I wish things had been different."
She wasn't sure where they were going or how long Sasuke had been driving. In fact she was only dimly aware of that she was in the car with him. The whole time she had been staring down at her hands, which were wrung together and sitting on her lap. A few more tears had slipped from her eyes and rolled down her cheeks before falling onto the fabric of her dress that lay across her legs. Sasuke hadn't said a word to her and for that she was glad because at the moment she did not feel like talking. She was sure her voice would crack and sound raw from the crying she had done. Plus she preferred to be alone with her thoughts.
The tears themselves were bad enough. She had promised herself long ago that she was done crying. It had been ever since her father had called her weak when she had cried in front of him over something that had happened between her and Neji back when they had still been in elementary school. She couldn't even remember what had happened but she remembered the unchecked impatience in his tone as he had told her she better toughen up. Ever since that day the only time she would cry was when she was alone. It was more often than she cared to admit but there was never anyone around to see her weakness.
She had been a fool to agree to go to the party with Sasuke. She wasn't sure why she had done it. Perhaps it had been some false hope that things weren't quite how she imagined them to be, that there wasn't such an immeasurable gap between who she was and who the people Sasuke hung out with were. She wanted to believe that maybe she had been wrong about not fitting in with them, or with him for that matter, but as it turned out she had been right from the start. Sakura's words still stung, and like a slap across the face, they were a bitter reminder that didn't fit into Sasuke's world. She was a nobody and it was probably best that she stay that way.
It wasn't until she heard the driver's side door open and shut that she realized they had stopped. Jerking her head up, she caught sight of her reflection in the window. Her eyes were red-rimmed and tear streaks ran down her cheeks. Her makeup was smeared as well and even some of the shine seemed to have vanished from her hair. All in all she looked a mess and made a futile attempt at rubbing away some of the smeared eyeliner when her door swung open. Her reflection vanished as the window was swung away from her. In its place now stood Sasuke.
For a brief moment she stared up at him almost as if she had forgotten how to function normally. Before she had a chance to regain her wits, Sasuke offered her his hand, and she took it only to be helped from the seat and out of the car. As Sasuke shut the car door, Hinata took a moment to look around. Only then did she realize where they were. Sasuke had parked by at the Kohona Park. Vaguely she remembered him telling her in English class that he liked to walk. She supposed that was why he had come here, despite the late hour.
Sasuke dropped her hand as she looked around, but moved his own hand around to the small of her back. Resting his hand there, he guided her forward towards the path that ran through the park. It wasn't an overly large park, and the lights from the softball fields and parking lot managed to at least dimly light up most of the park.
Glancing around as she fell into step beside Sasuke, she noticed that the park was empty, or at least the parts she could see. She could hear other people shouting not too far off meaning that there was still at least one basketball game going on, but from where they were, she couldn't see it.
Neither she nor Sasuke said anything and the only sound except the voices in the distance was the sound of her heels as they clicked against the paved path. Wrapping her arms around her stomach and snuggling into the warmth of Sasuke's jacket. It smelled like him, just like the sweatshirt he had lent her before had. It was oddly soothing as was his silent presence beside her.
They walked for awhile before Hinata caught sight of the playground. Almost unconsciously she started to walk towards it. Sasuke followed, his hand had fallen away from her back and had been shoved into his pocket some time ago. Before she went to step off the path, she kneeled down and unstrapped her heels. Stepping out of them, she straightened back up with them in hand when she heard a low chuckle from beside her.
"What," she asked quietly as she turned to look at him.
"I forgot how short you were without those things."
She made an attempt to glare at him but between the smudged makeup and the fact that it was her, it was a poor attempt. He ended up chuckling again, and she sighed slightly in defeat. Turning away from him, she moved towards the swings. The woodchips poked uncomfortably into the bottom of her feet as she walked onto the playground itself but she ignored them.
Coming to the first set of swings, she sat down on one and let her feet dangle, kicking them back and forth slightly. Her face felt cool from the evening air and she hoped that it meant the red blotchiness created by her crying had faded. She pushed herself backwards, allowing herself to swing slightly. The chains squeaked softly as she did this, her hands gripping them as her hair blew around as she swung.
She looked over at Sasuke who was now leaning against one of the posts of the swing set. He had his arms folded across his chest, and he was watching her with a hint of amusement on his features. She could tell by the way the corner of his mouth quirked up ever so slightly. It was almost unnoticeable, but he was a bit easier to read than one might expect.
Her eyes flickered back up to his. His gaze was always so intense, and the black color of his eyes made it all the more unnerving. It was no wonder that so many people would squirm when he turned the full power of his gaze on them, especially if he wasn't happy with them. When she realized that she was staring, she flushed red. He noticed, and his lips quirked upward even more as a smirk settled on his devastatingly good-looking features. She dropped her gaze down to her feet and trailed her toes in the dirt under the swing as she slowed her momentum.
"T-thank you for bringing me here. I-I needed this," she said softly as she brought herself to a stop. She really did appreciate him brining her here. She wouldn't have wanted to go home like this. Coming here gave her a chance to regain her composure away from any prying eyes. She supposed that she and Sasuke had that much in comment. They both valued their solitude more than the average person. She heard him make a 'hn' sound, but other than that offered no more comment.
Unsure of how to take his comment without seeing his expression she glanced up. When she looked up, a small gasp escaped her lips. She hadn't realized how close he had gotten. He had left his spot by the pole and was now right in front of her, his black eyes peering into hers, which seemed to glimmer slightly in the dim light of evening. He leaned forward, placing his hands on the chains of the swing directly above her own. Her mouth hung open just ever so slightly at the surprise of his sudden closeness. She hadn't even heard him move. Yet, she couldn't tear her eyes away from his though and for a moment they simply stared at one another, neither moving.
Then Sasuke moved closer, his denim clad legs bumping against her knees. His face moved closer but all she could do was look at his eyes as if she were frozen under their gaze. His face hovered in front of her own, until his forehead came to a rest against hers. Realization of what was happening registered somewhere in the back of her mind, and as a result her pale eyes fluttered shut as her heart beat wildly in her chest. Sasuke's nose brushed lightly against her own, the action sending shivers down her spine. She could now feel his warm breath against her lips. All she had to do was lean forward just a fraction of an inch.
The sound of Sasuke's phone ringing shattered the silence as well as the trace she was in. Her eyes shot open as they both simultaneously jerked away from one another. Had Hinata not been holding onto the chains she would have fallen right off of the swing. She released a breath she had not realized she had been holding as her face flushed a bright shade of red. As for Sasuke he was looking at the ground as he agitatedly pulled his phone out of his pocket. She swore she heard him mutter something about killing Naruto as he flipped the phone open.
"What," he snapped.
His expression shifted to one of mild confusion before he pulled the phone away from his ear and extended it towards her.
"It's for you," he muttered before shoving his hands into his pockets after she had taken the phone.
Her own expression shifted from embarrassment to confusion as she hesitantly took the phone from him. The screen read Naruto, and she wondered how it could possibly be for her.
"Hinata! It's Hanabi. I have been trying to get a hold of you for forever now. I must have called your phone like ten times!"
"Hanabi? Oh I am sorry. I-I must have left it in Sasuke's car," Hinata answered as she realized it was her sister.
"Are you alright? I heard what happened. I missed the whole thing. If I had been there, I would have.."
"I'm fine Hanabi," Hinata said cutting her younger sister off.
"Seriously I don't know how you didn't slap her. She would have deserved it. I bet everyone would have cheered you on too," Hanabi rambled from the other end of the phone.
"I'd actually rather forget it happened," Hinata admitted softly.
"Okay I really just wanted to make sure you were okay. I was really worried."
"I promise I am alright. I will see you at home, okay?"
"Okay bye Hinata."
"Bye," Hinata said as hung up the phone and sheepishly passed it back to Sasuke, who had retreated several steps.
"Sorry about that," she said softly as she stood up from the swing and scooped her heels off of the ground. Sasuke shrugged as he shoved the phone back in his pockets.
"We should probably head back. They are going to shut off the lights here soon," he said gruffly as rubbed the back of his neck, no longer making eye contact with her.
"O-okay," she stammered thinking that if this was anyone except Sasuke she would have thought they were nervous. She didn't dwell on it though, instead she scurried forward, heels in hand as she tried to keep herself from blushing as she thought back to what the phone call had interrupted.
He couldn't figure out if he was more annoyed with the interruption that had just occurred or the fact that he had been about to kiss Hinata. Both left him frustrated. He really had wanted to kiss her. Even with her makeup a mess, her sitting there on that swing with a soft smile on her lips had really got to him. She had looked just as breathtaking as she had when she had first walked down the steps earlier that night. At the same time though the interruption had given him a moment to think, and he had gone and reminded himself of why he was supposed to be doing this in the first place.
He was annoyed at himself for making the bet in the first place. It was his fault she had been crying tonight; his fault he was dragging her into unforgiving population of high school's elite. She didn't deserve any of that just so he could win some stupid bet. He knew he was too proud though to go and call the whole thing off. No way would he let Kiba win something like this. But at this point he couldn't help but wonder what was the cost going to be. He shifted his gaze to the girl walking quickly beside him, and admitted to himself that it was going to be a lot more than ever would have expected.
AN: So I am a horrible updater. The list of excuses goes on but the fact is I just don't have time to update nearly as often as I would like to. In addition numerous lost drafts of this chapter and the last one have equated to no muse. That aside I do have every intention of finishing this story so it will get done. So for those of you who are sticking around for it, I thank you.
As for this chapter I hope there was some fluff that everyone enjoyed. A little ShikaIno and SasuHina going on in this chapter. I realize this chapter had more ShikaIno than SasuHina, but this will not be something that happens regularly. I just wanted to address what has been going on between those two. I am planning for one or two more chapters before everything falls apart. Then a couple more chapters and that will be about it. I plan on around 20 chapters for this story.
Another quick note I would like to make is that there have been some comments regarding the ShikaIno pairing. I understand not everyone likes this pairing but I am not about to change the story to ShikaTema either. It's not the way I plotted the story out in my head so I am sorry but stop asking for a change in the pairing. And now if you got this far into the note thank you so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed this chapter.