A/N: We hope everyone had a happy holidays! We can't believe so many of you still had interest in this story even though it had been FOREVER since we updated- thank you! The reviews were amazing and made us very happy (:

Previously on the last chapter:

It stung my heart. I couldn't even talk; I was choking back sobs. Yet I wanted to punch him, to pound my fists on his chest and scream obscenities at him. And that's exactly what I did.

"You asshole! How could you? I hope you get a fucking disease from fucking her, you fucking bastard!" I yelled, my fists numb from pounding so hard.

"Ino, stop! Stop it!" Shikamaru said, trying to grab hold of my hands at the same time he was trying to cover himself with his towel (which had fallen off).

"No, fuck you! Fuck you!" I said, tears streaming down my face. My throat ached from yelling so much. "I fucking love you! How could you do this to me? Didn't I matter?"

"Dammit Ino, don't pull that on me-"

"Yes I will. I was crying my eyes out while you were with that slut!"

"Don't call her that! Temari's not-"

"Don't even mention that name in front of me. I'm leaving. I'm tired of crying," I said, wiping my tears. "I thought I'd leave here feeling better, but I guess I was wrong. Bye Shikamaru."

"Ino wait! Don't leave like this," he said, holding my arm. I pulled free from him.

"I'm done," I said with one last look at him through the blur of my tears. I opened his bedroom door and ran down the stairs to the front door, slamming it shut behind me. I was so done.

Chapter 10

Crying and driving at the same time is not a good idea. I had to stop a few times just to get myself together. And each time I imagined Shikamaru with her.

Once I got back home I didn't even bother being discreet. I opened the front door, my sobs strong as ever, which caught the attention of my parents.

"Ino, what happened?" my mom asked, rushing over from the living room. I wrapped my arms around her, grateful for the familiar comforting touch.

My dad took one look at my distressed state and came to the conclusion that Shikamaru was behind it. "It was that Nara boy, wasn't it? What did he do to you Ino? Tell me and I'll go over to his house right now and settle-"

"No, dad, please!" I said, clutching on to his arm. "Shikamaru didn't do anything bad, well not like that...we broke up."

"That boy! He has some nerve to break up with my daughter like that," my dad said.

"Inoichi, don't get so riled up...I'm sure Shikamaru had his own reasons for making such a hard decision," my mom said. She gave me a knowing look. I cried even harder out of guilt, which my dad mistook for as heartbreak sorrow.

"Ahh, make the poor girl some tea. Can't you see how devastated she is?" he asked.

"Ino, sweetie, go back to bed and try to get some sleep," my mom said, directing me towards the stairs and giving me a kiss.

Sleep was pointless. Everytime I closed my eyes I was attacked by images of Shikamaru with her, and the part of my heart that belonged to Shikmaru ached.

There was no way that Shikamaru and I would ever get back together. I had to accept that. No matter how much I loved him, I felt so hurt by his actions. And he was so done with me. But how could I still have deep feelings for someone and resent him at the same time?

I was stuck in this cycle of love and bitterness.

When I woke up the next day I cleaned my room. I immersed myself in this task so I could forget about everything. Then I got a text from Sakura. She wanted us to get a cup of coffee and hangout. I was so relieved to have an excuse to leave my house and get away from my problems.

"Mom, can I-"

"Yes."

"But I haven't even told you what it was yet," I said.

"Yeah, I know. But you've been cooped up in your room for days now," my mom said. "Any excuse to get you to leave the house is fine by me."

"Ugh. You make me sound like such a loner," I said.

"So where are you going?" she asked.

"Starbucks. With Sakura and Hinata," I said, grabbing the car keys from the kitchen counter. "I'll be back in an hour or two."

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox

"...kept laughing. I lost count of how many times he accidentally stepped on my toes," Hinata said. She and Sakura were recapping the dance for me, and from their stories it seemed like they had a fun night.

"Now let's get to the nitty gritty...did he kiss you?" I asked.

"Ino! Haven't you ever heard of kiss not tell?" Hinata said.

"Well, did he?" Sakura prodded her.

Hinata stayed silent for a while before saying yes. Sakura and I jumped in our seats.

"How was it?" I asked.

"It was nice," Hinata said.

"That's too vague. Be more specific," I said.

"Do you guys really want to listen to me describe Naruto's kiss?" she said.

"Eww, you're right. We don't want to listen to that," Sakura said. We all laughed.

I took the last sip of my pumpkin spice latte and sighed in content. "I think this is the happiest I've been in a long time," I contemplated aloud. Hinata squeezed my hand and gave me an encouraging smile.

"Do you think things will ever get better between the two of you?" she asked.

"I don't know...At this point I'm done being hurt, I'm done crying all the time," I said.

"But you're still not over him," Sakura said. It wasn't a question.

"No, I'm not. I still feel for him," I said, slumping down in my seat. "It sucks."

"Love sucks. But it can be a beautiful, magical thing as well," Sakura said. "Don't forget about that part."

"I know," I replied. "It's hard, though. Ugh, let's change the subject. I don't like being depressed for too long."

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

I was walking Tracy when I saw her. She was out for a run, her headphones peeking out from her t-shirt. It took her a while, but she finally spotted me too. And her whole demeanor changed.

"I think the dog is suppose to be the one on the leash," Temari said.

"And I thought the zoo took better care of their animals, but I guess they let one escape," I retorted.

"You bitch!" she said.

"At least I'm not a zoo creature," I said.

"Ugh! I can't believe of all the people I had to run into, it had to be you," Temari said with disgust.

"Well, you weren't my first choice either," I said. What was she even doing here? "Do you live nearby?"

"No. I was just visiting someone who lives near here," she said.

"Who?" I asked.

Temari crinkled her nose. "You're nosy. But if you must know, it was Shikamaru," she said. That's when I noticed that she was wearing Shikamaru's gym t-shirt and basketball shorts. Tracy had started sniffing her. "Eww, get your dirty dog off me!" she said.

"Why were you there?" I asked.

"What?"

"Why were you with Shikamaru?"

"It's none of your business, litte girl. I don't really know what happened between you two, but Shikamaru was really messed up when he came to see me last week," Temari said. "He hates you."

"Is that what he said?" I asked.

"He didn't need to. I could tell by the way he was kissing me that he didn't want anything to do with you."

I definitely was not going to start crying in front of Temari. I willed my tears to not fall.

"Don't cry, it's pathetic," she said.

SLAP!

Temari placed a hand on her cheek, her eyes wide with shock.

"Yeah, bitch, I just slapped you, don't look so surprised. And stay away from Shikamaru. I will get him back," I said. Temari continued looking at me, speechless. "C'mon Tracy, let's go."

I had no idea what possessed me to say that, but I realized that no matter how angry I was at Shikamaru for sleeping with Temari, I still loved him. And I was going to fight for him until the very end.

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

The next day I made a bold move. I ran all the way to the parking lot after my last class ended and waited for Shikamaru by his car. I fixed my hair several times, adjusted and readjusted my shirt and finally decided to leave the first two buttons unbuttoned. I purposely didn't gloss my lips because I knew he liked my lips natural.

He spotted me right away and walked towards me (well, his car, but I was there too).

"Shik-"

"Do you mind? I need to get in my car," he said briskly.

"Actually, yes, I do mind. I'm trying to talk to you," I said. By this time, we were getting a few stares from people nearby. "Can we talk inside your car so they don't hear us?" I asked.

"Fine...but fix your shirt first," he said. Aha! So he did notice.

"Maybe you should fix it for me if it's bothering you so much," I said.

He sighed and looked away. "Just get in the car Ino." I frowned and walked over to the passenger side as he got into the driver seat. "What do you want to talk about?"

"Why'd you have sex with Temari?" I asked.

"Dammit Ino, if that's -"

"I hate her! I hate her so much and the thought of you two being together sickens me," I said.

"Why do you hate her so much?" Shikamaru asked.

"Isn't it obvious? She's with you and I'm not."

"I'm not with her...not like that, I mean. She's just always been there for me," he said.

"Does she make you happy?"

"Why do you care?"

"You're such an idiot! Fine, be with her. But I know she'll never make you as happy as I did." Damn, how did we even end up fighting like this?

"You lied to me," Shikamaru said.

"I'm sorry for that! But I wasn't lying when I said that I loved you. I still love you," I said. Then I kissed him. At first he resisted, then gave in and kissed me back. He sucked on my bottom lip and pulled me closer towards him. My tongue traveled the inside of his mouth as my hands slowly found their way under his shirt.

Shikamaru pulled away and looked at me in disgust.

"Wh-What's wrong? Why are you looking at me like that?" I asked.

"You're confusing me...why do you pretend to love me? I know you told me all that because you wanted to end it between us once you found out that Sasuke was no longer available," he said.

I shook my head. "No, that's not why. I told you all that because I wanted you to know the truth. We were in a good, honest relationship and I just wanted you to know the truth. I never wanted to hurt you...why don't you believe me?"

I was blubbering by this point. My eyes felt swollen and the front of my shirt was getting wet with my tears. I was about to wipe my face with my hands when Shikamaru gave me a tissue. I gratefully took it.

Shikamaru started the car. "What are you doing?" I asked.

"I'm taking you home," he responded back.

"You never answered my question," I reminded him with a sad smile. He remained silent.

I looked out the window, trying not to think about how close Shikamaru was to me, yet how distant. I started to cry again and tried to muffle my sobs.

"Dammit! Don't do this to me Ino. I can't drive if you're going to keep on crying," he said, pulling over into a street nearby.

"I'll walk from here," I said, unbuckling my seatbelt. Shikamaru grabbed my arm before I could leave.

"Don't be so dramatic," he said. "Just calm down...I don't like seeing you like this."

I sniffled. "I love you," I whispered, hoping he would believe me and that he would see the truth in my eyes. He didn't look away from me. Instead his hand grazed down the length of my arm and intertwined with my hand.

"I love you," I said again, kissing his neck. I heard him sigh and he ran his other hand through my hair. I quicky settled myself on his lap and lightly nipped the soft skin of his neck; his breathing hitched.

"Ino..."

"Shh...please..."

"Mmmm..."

Somehow Shikamaru lowered his seat so it was reclined all the way. I kicked my leg over so I was straddling him and we began this rhythmic grind. Shiakmaru's hands creeped up my skirt to my thighs and he started rubbing and groping the skin there. Warm heat surrounded my entire body, and at about the same time I could feel him. I almost stopped because it startled me. Yet it felt nice to know that I could elicit that kind of response in him.

I continued kissing him, happy to just be with him and see where this would go. However, Shikamaru broke free from our kiss and stared up at me, desire in his eyes. But then he shook his head and looked away.

"I know you want me-"

"Not like this."

"We can go somewhere else."

"..."

"Shikamaru?"

"No. This isn't like you, it isn't like me either. Try to tell me otherwise."

"Y-You're right," I said, getting off of him and settling back down to my seat. He breathed deeply and readjusted his seat so it was back to its prior position. "Are you satisfied?" I asked him.

He gave me a sharp look. "What exactly are you referring to?" he said.

"For someone who claims to not want to do anything with me, you sure are quick to be aroused," I retorted, my cheeks flaming red. Did I just say that?

Shikamaru just stared at me, his ears also flaming in color. Not only was he uncomfortable, but so was I. There was an awkward silence that followed.

I was about to speak and break the silence when Shikamaru crashed his lips onto mine. He pressed me closer, his hands traveling up the sides of my stomach. I relished in the warm touch of his fingers, in his soft lips that caressed my neck and the exposed skin of my chest. Suddenly he stopped.

"Now I'm satisfied," he said.

He left me breathless. Why did he stop when I so wanted him to continue?

"Well...umm...that's good," I said. "I wouldn't want to leave you unsatisfied."

Another awkard silence, one in which Shikamaru smirked amusingly.

"I guess you should take me home now," I said, fixing the state of my clothes and hair.

I wanted to wipe that smirk off his face. Maybe I had been mistaken in thinking that Shikamaru would ever want to get back with me. He was a guy after all, the only thing he desired was my body, or any girl's body, as he had proven it by sleeping with Temari. Maybe I had actually saved myself from giving it all to him...even though I knew it was a bogus excuse. I would gladly give all of myself to him because I love him and I know it'd be magical.

The ride home was silent. I kept glancing at Shikamaru, only to find him glancing back at me as well.

"Thanks. I guess I'll see you tomorrow?" I said, not meaning for it to come out like a question.

"Yeah. Sure," he said. I didn't know if I should take that as encouragement but it did make my heart flutter in hope.

"Okay, "I smiled and quickly left the car before I suffocated him with kisses. Once I was safe in my room I flopped onto my bed and took a moment to replay what had happened in Shikamaru's car. It had been wonderful, but now I was confused.

I turned over on to my stomach and rested my chin on my hand. I loved Shikamaru, that I was certain. But did he still love me?

xoxoxoxoxxooxoxoxoxoxoxox

I woke up to the sound of rain. Oh great. I looked out my window and sure enough it was pouring outside.

Grumbling out of bed, I washed my face in the bathroom and noticed I had a hickey on the crook of my neck, and right below my collarbone...and another one even below that. This was just not my day. I did my best to cover them with concealer and left my hair down.

I went back to my room and put on my uniform, adding a navy blue cardigan with the school's symbol on the top right cornor. I traded in my usual pumps for my black rain boots.

"Mom!" I called out as I walked downstairs toward the kitchen. She wasn't there. I walked to the living room and saw that she was sitting on the couch with her shoulders hunched over and her head in her hands. She was crying.

"Mom? What's wrong?" I asked, coming over to sit next to her.

She looked up at me and wiped her tears. Her smile didn't quite reach her eyes. "Nothing's wrong. I'm fine sweetie," she said.

"No, something is wrong," I said.

Mom sighed. "You're old enough to know."

"What is it?"

"A few months ago your dad was working on this case... he was defending a man accused of embezzlement."

"Yeah, I remember, but dad won that case," I said.

"Yes, he did, but now he's being sued by the opponent. They're saying that your father used false evidence to clear his client's name," mom said. This day was just turning worse and worse.

"That's not true!" I said. "Dad would never do that. He's a good, honest man."

Mom ran a hand through her hair. She wasn't saying anything. This worried me.

"Mom? It's not true, right?"

"..."

I shook my head. "He would never -"

"Oh Ino! He didn't know!" mom cried. "One of his partners presented him with that evidence while they were researching...it's all very complicated right now."

She was scared. And I was scared too. I couldn't believe this was happening.

"Your dad needs out support right now," she said, taking my hand and giving it a gentle squeeze. "C'mon, I'll drive you to school."

"No, it's fine. I'll walk," I said.

"But it's raining outside."

"You shouldn't be driving in your state, mom. Besides, I don't mind walking," I said. It was a lie, but I really wanted to be by myself and think.

"You sure?" mom asked. I nodded my head.

Five minutes later...

I was soaking wet. Fuck my life.

It was crazy windy outside and my umbrella kept flipping out. It almost flew out of my hands. I swear, my umbrella was possessed.

I was shivering cold and my uniform was wet and clinging to my body. Today was definitely the worst ever.

Then I heard a car honk. I turned around and for one fleeting second I thought it was Shikamaru. But it was an unknown car, so I kept walking. The car honked again. I stopped.

"What the hell is your problem?" I yelled.

The car pulled up beside me and rolled down the window. At first I thought it was Sasuke but on closer inspection I realized it wasn't. He looked oddly familiar though, and he apparently went to my school since he was wearing the boys' version of the uniform.

"Do you want a ride?" Unknown Boy asked.

"Uhh...do I know you?" I said.

"We've met before. At the mall," he said.

"Ohh," I said, trying to remember. Nope. I had no clue who he was, but if he was offering a ride I was in no position to say no.

"We go to the same school. My name's Sai," he said.

"I'm Ino," I said. I walked over to the passenger side and opened the door. "I'm going to get your seat all wet," I said.

"It's fine," Sai said.

I sat down, dripping everywhere. I placed my hands by the heater and couldn't believe my luck. What are the odds of a random stranger saving me from walking in the rain? The day could only get better from here on out.

"Thanks," I said to strike up conversation. "This is a nice camarro." I didn't know much about cars but I liked the interior. I felt bad getting it all wet.

"I bought it a few weeks ago. I saved up enough money by selling my paintings at art galleries," Sai said.

"You paint? That's amazing," I said. I've never met a painter before. "You must be really good if people buy your work."

There was a blush on Sai's cheeks. I guess he wasn't used to recieving compliments.

"So what sort of things do you paint?" I asked. We were almost by the school now.

"Mostly landscape. But sometimes I paint portraits of people. It's a bit of a challenge trying to capture the expression of their eyes though," he said. I nodded in agreement.

"Sai, what grade are you in?"

"I'm a junior, just like you."

"I only asked because, well, I feel bad that we go to the same school and I've never seen you before," I explained.

"It's okay," he said with a small smile. "I'm the new kid that no one really knows about. I've always been kinda socially awkward."

I frowned. It wasn't fair that this kid was so unknown, so friendless. It also wasn't fair that my dad was being sued. Ugh, life wasn't fair.

"We're here," Sai said, easily finding a parking space.

"Thanks again for the ride," I said, combing my hands through my hair. The heater had somewhat dried me off.

"It was my pleasure," he siad. "Hopefully if I walk fast enough I won't get completely soaked." It was still raining like crazy outside.

"Don't be silly. We can share my umbrella. It's possessed, but it's the least I can do since you've been so kind to me," I said.

We gathered our messenger bags and huddled close together under my umbrella. We walked as fast as we could, passing other students. I thought I saw a pineapple-shaped head in my peripheral vision but when I turned my head it was gone.

xoxoxo-end of chapter-xoxoxo

A/N: And the plot thickens! Muahahaha! Please review!