I'm very sorry that there was so much confusion in the first chapter. This is a quick recap of what I meant had happened… Ino confessed to Shikamaru 3 years before. He left to Suna for three years, and when he arrived back he went straight to Ino after the welcoming party. He asked her to confess to him again and they slept together. The next morning and ANBU delivers a message from Suna saying Temari's pregnant, and he volunteers for the assassination mission with Naruto and Neji. Ino realizes something is weird with him to volunteer right after their night together, and sees it as if he's trying to run away from her again. So she volunteers and blah, blah, blah…
I guess I'm rustier than I thought. Very sorry for the confusion. Continuing on…
"I'm sorry my presence is such a pain in your side, but just rely on the consolation that when we return we will never have to utter a word to each other from then on," my heart was shattering more and more, 'I know you don't love me. I know you don't want anything to do with me, I know. Why do you have to make sure it's clear in my mind, why make it more painful than it should be? Why do you hate me?...' Ino/Shika Lemon.
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.
I watched her belly grow more and more as the six months passed cruelly slow. She looked sickly and pale, being bedridden from the high risk pregnancy. Her constant tantrums made my ears bleed, and my head ring with migraines. Temari had really turned into an angry woman during her pregnancy; she had no spark to her personality and slowly withered away in bed.
She hated me, and so she should. I didn't love her like she wanted me too, and she'd heard of my time with Ino during my short stay in Konoha. She knew too well my feelings for my genin teammate, I myself had confessed my feelings when I came to Suna three years before. We had been friends then, now she glared and screamed at me at every wrong word I said or mistake I made.
"You're thinking of her aren't you?" she demanded, holding her swollen stomach as she glared rage filled eyes at me. 'I always think of Ino,' I couldn't really tell her that now could I? "Just admit it, I can tell," her jealousy and rage amazed even me sometimes, 'Hadn't I chosen her? Wasn't it enough that I returned to Suna and asked her to marry me? What more did she want? Me to love her like I love Ino? Impossible.'
"Enough Temari, it's bad for your health," I answered calmly, already use to her snide remarks.
"You're bad for my health," she snarled, making me sigh deeper.
"Do you want me to leave?" I asked, slowly getting up from my seat at her side, her hand instantly found my shirt sleeve and kept me from walking away.
"No, no… you owe me this sacrifice, it's entirely your fault," she cried, tears already sliding down her face, I closed my eyes in exhaustion and sat back down. I knew she would begin another argument if I didn't say it wasn't a sacrifice, 'If I didn't argue the truth.'
"It's not a sacrifice, Temari," I sighed, keeping my eyes closed, it was my responsibility. I made the mistake of drinking too much that night and I would correct it.
"Don't lie!" she continued to cry, but there was nothing more I could do. She would not believe me, and why should she? 'It did feel like a sacrifice, but I wouldn't tell her that.'
"I asked you to marry me Temari, you refused," I said, calmly reminding her of her rejection, "I've been here every day for the past six months, not once have I told you that I was making a sacrifice."
"No, but I can tell! I can tell!" she screamed, loud enough to alert the doctors on standby in the next room. Instantly they crowded her bed, and injected a tranquilizer into the lines connected to her veins.
"She needs to stay calm, the child may come too soon," the doctors shook their heads in disapproval, glaring sideways at me. It was my fault she always went into these tantrums, my fault she always panicked. "We can't ask you to leave because she'll panic, but when you're here she's furious… We're not sure what to do," they sighed, leaving me alone with the sleeping woman.
"I'm very sorry," I said before they closed the door behind themselves, I stood from my place and moved across the room to look outside. It was already dark, and a sand storm had the villagers trapped within their homes. During the day I rarely found clouds in the sky, and the stars didn't comfort me. I spent the little time of privacy alone, training.
"Shikamaru! She's gone into labor!" a messenger said in a rush, breathing heavily from his run to my room. I jumped up from my bed and rushed pass him into her room in time to reach for her hand which was outstretched in a scream. It was too soon, she was only seven months into the pregnancy and the baby would be premature.
"It hurts, it hurts," she screamed again, clinging to my hand like a life force. "Shikamaru, promise me. You will take care of him, protect him from everyone… Promise me!" She screamed, she was losing blood fast and losing her strength along with it.
"Temari, don't talk nonsense! You're going to be alright, push… Push!" I encouraged her, placing my hand on her upper back to help her lift her upper body. "Isn't it too soon for her to have the baby?" I demanded, glaring at the doctors.
"Her water already broke, we can't stop it now… There have been many women who don't need to serve their whole term," a doctor grunted, flinching as he pulled away with a warm towel of blood.
"I can't, I can't!" she cried, losing all her strength and slumping down into my arms. Fear gripped me, she was pale white and her body was shivering from the pain she was under. 'What can I do? How can I help her?'
"Do something! She's going into shock!" I yelled at the panicking doctors, holding onto her motionless body.
"Promise me Shikamaru, that no matter what, you'll take him with you and raise him as your son!" she cried weakly, bringing my hand up to her face. She was cold to the touch, and still sweating. Something was going wrong.
"I promise you Temari, I won't abandon my own son," I promised, and she actually smiled relieved. Her eyes then closed slowly, "No Ino, stay awake! Push!"
"We have to do a C-section; there is no way around it. The child will die if we don't," they hurried with the equipment, injecting tranquilizers and pain medication into Temari's IV.
"She's lost a lot of blood, do you think it's a good idea?" another doctor asked, catching my attention, 'Why had they suggested the C section if it would endanger her life?'
"We are under orders from both the Kazekage and Temari to place priority on the child, there is still a chance she will come out of this alive," the main doctor said, drawing a line across Temari's belly.
"A chance! No, I want her to come out alive!" I snapped, conflicted, I couldn't choose; this wasn't something anyone should be able to decide.
"It's not up to you," they shook their heads, "we need the space. Please wait outside the room, Nara." I moved away slowly, my hands running through my hair in helplessness. There really was nothing I could do, I was moved out of the room and stood out in the hall as the door was closed in my face.
I hadn't noticed till then, my hands shook almost uncontrollably and all I could do was wait outside the bedroom door for the doctors to give me some news. Temari had been placed in the Kazekage's main mansion's biggest room for the doctors to come here, rather than moving her to the hospital every month.
I waited outside the door unmoving. Only able to hear the rustling of the doctors moving and then a moment of silence before a piercing cry filled the room. I stopped breathing; waiting for a celebration indicating Temari and the child were both safe, but it never came. Instead the machines monitoring Temari's heart rate sped up before it became a constant beep over the newborn's cry.
The sounds made my knees go weak, forcing me to lean my shoulder on the side of the wall to stay on my feet. "It's over, note time and date of death… I will tell the father," I heard the main doctor sigh as he opened the door. As soon as I saw the opening I pushed inside, making it to Temari's side in an instant. Blood decorated the sheets underneath her; it looked like a murder scene… I've murdered her; it was my fault she had died…
"I'm sorry Nara… She lost too much blood, and she was too weak to fight it," I vaguely heard the doctor say from behind me, there was just too much blood all over the white sheets of her bed… They looked as if they had been red bed sheets and she lay there so still. This wasn't the first time I'd seen someone die, but this was the first time a friend died because of my stupidity and inability to do anything else for her. Why hadn't I given her something to fight for? Like a healthy relationship, more support, the pretense of love… Instead of constant awkward respect, and silent companionship…
"This is my entire fault," I closed my eyes, kneeling besides her bed too weak to reach over and touch her. I hadn't been any help to her; I didn't do a thing…
"Would you like to see your son Mr. Nara," a young nurse asked timidly, holding the crying infant close to her body afraid of how I would react to it. It's happened in the past that the father of an infant who was born at the sacrifice of the mother was instantly rejected. I reached for him, and gently cradled him in my arms; he slowly stopped crying and soon was fast asleep. I looked back to Temari and remembered what she had said; I would definitely protect and raise him; that had been my whole intention since I'd arrived in Suna.
"Shikamaru…" I turned to the sound of the voice, seeing the Kazekage at the doorway. "Come with me, we need to talk," he sighed, turning away from Temari's bed. She was covered with a white sheet, but the blood still leaked through. I followed him out of the room; the child lay fast asleep in my arm as I took a seat in the spacious living room outside the mansion. "Temari and I talked a lot during her pregnancy… She told me that if she died tonight I should talk to you and tell you the truth…"
"The truth?" I asked, too disoriented to really give him all my attention. This really wasn't the time to talk about business; his sister had just died…
"That child in your arms… My nephew; is not your legitimate son," he finally forced himself to say, staring off in a different direction to avoid my eyes. My world went mute for several minutes, trying to comprehend the bombshell he had just dropped on me, I stared at the infant in my arms. Temari's dirty blond hair, and bright green eyes just like his mother's opened slowly and closed quickly… "Shikamaru..?" Gaara tried to regain my attention, after realizing that I wasn't paying attention to anything further than the first statement. I looked up and caught that look of pity before he was able to hide it with an expressionless mask. With the pity, I had also seen the worry that I would just get up and abandon this child.
"Continue," I forced myself to say, trying to slow my over stimulated brain. Temari had made me promise to raise the child as my own, was this the reason she didn't trust my commitment to the boy? She had me leave my home, and abandon the woman I love for her own benefit and selfishness? I couldn't believe it. I didn't want to believe that the woman I had known, that had just died, would do this to me…
"The child is a bastard…" My eyes snapped back to his face, checking for any sign of a lie; I was pulled aback by the harshness of his words towards an infant. "I can't defend or protect it… I now understand the hate my uncle (Edit 7) had for me as a child, and the hardships both Kankuro and Temari faced with their own mothers' family… We were not bastards, we all have the same high ranking father with different mothers. But that child," he pointed at my arms, "was conceived by rape…" he looked at me then, allowing me to see the truth in his words and the shame he felt for feeling so negatively towards an innocent child. I couldn't say or think anything helpful, so I stayed silent; I could not defend his feelings or grasp the horror of the child's conception.
"She wouldn't even consider abortion… She wouldn't listen to Kankuro or I. A pregnancy would kill her, we tried to reason, since women in our family never live through their first pregnancy," he closed his eyes. The Kazekage had been suffering as much as I, probably more, he kept his eyes closed and gripped his robe till his knuckles turned white as he continued, "we pleaded with her, begged… reminding her that the child would only suffer like we did, but she wouldn't 'murder her child.' She made us promise to keep her story a secret from you until she died... She knew she would die. After a while we accepted her decision, but we can't raise that child knowing we will probably unintentionally or intentionally treat him like our mothers' family treated us. I can't accept him, because even though he is my nephew, he still was the reason my sister is dead. I can't raise him properly, and he deserves to be loved like I wasn't. Please take him, and love him as a father," he bowed his head low to me, something the Kazekage should not be seen doing to a lower class ninja from another village. I could see the crystal drops fall on his hands and tried to keep up with the overwhelming amount of information.
There was a long pause, he tried to fill it with more explanations, "The child will only suffer here… I'm sorry my sister misled and used you, but she loved you enough to trust you with her last wish." He knew it was too much to ask of someone who's been betrayed and used, especially after losing so much already. I was I horrible person to hesitate as I processed the story?
"I've already promised to raise him as my son… Finding out the truth will not change my decision…" looking at the child in my arms had me talking instantly, the words simply escaped my mouth, "I-it must have been so unbearably hard for Temari, but there is still a chance I might be the father… W-we drank too much one night, and slept together," I admitted, staring at the child's small hands as they grabbed my finger; he was so small. He wasn't the one to blame; he shouldn't be the one to suffer… I will protect him.
"She mentioned that night to me because it was a lie, by then she was already pregnant and you passed out before anything could happen. A lie in a web of lies," Gaara shook his head gravely. It had been two weeks before I was scheduled to return to Konoha.
I was rendered speechless. I should have felt angry and I would have if I hadn't held the baby, I would probably have left if I hadn't seen or touched him. "I-I don't want to know anything more." I closed my eyes, gritting my teeth, holding my son securely in my arms. "I've made my decision and will return to Konoha promptly after the funeral," I stated clearly, standing up from the couch finished with the conversation.
"He is my son," I shook my head, "I'm not doing this for anyone but my son."
"I understand," he didn't care if I forced myself to forget the horrible truth, as long as I cared for the child properly. I couldn't make up my mind if he was a horrible person for clearly rejecting his nephew or wise for placing him in a healthy home.
I left the mansion after leaving my son with the nurse, "What will you name him?" She asked before I had a chance to get away.
I turned to her, then looked at the child and a name appeared in my mind. "Rinji…" the nurse smiled and nodded, leaving me to my escape. Remembering a particular conversation Temari and I had a few months back when I'd just arrive from Konoha.
"Shikamaru… I heard that your family, the Naras, own their own forest with protected deer," Temari smiled, staring out of the window of her bedroom as I was.
"Pst, we protect the forest and gather medical herbs. And the deer have always simply liked to stay close to our family," I shrugged, stuffing my hands into my pant pockets. I hated talking about Konoha with Temari, she would always find a way to bring Ino into our conversation and explode in a tantrum. Strong emotions like hate and anger were not good for her health or pregnancy since she was already bedridden and weak.
"The forest is so peaceful, I use to love going to your village because there was forest surrounding it for miles…" she smiled in memory of the many times she had to travel to Konoha as an ambassador. "I always took extra long to arrive because of the Nara forest… It was so beautiful and comfortable."
I had been surprised. "I have a cottage there, maybe we can visit it sometime," I didn't let the opportunity to understand each other at least a little pass, and so I was rewarded with a smile.
"I would like that, a peaceful life in the forest," she nodded, and I didn't see that smile too often after.
Rinji meant peaceful forest, a fitting name for my son. The name just fit him so perfectly, since I've decided to raise him in the cottage I built within the Nara forest outside Konoha. I sent news to my parent's and the Hokage letting them know of my return and circumstance. I didn't mention the situation Gaara explained to me, no one would ever be allowed to doubt who Rinji's father was.
Two weeks had passed since Temari's cremation, and Gaara had prepared me an escort cart heading to Konoha. Rinji was still too young, so I would need the help to travel back home. It was amusing to see how the boy could not stand being held by anyone other than me, he'd cried the first time I handed him to the nurse to take a shower since he'd been awake. I fed him, changed him, and looked after him all day and night, becoming accustomed to the new responsibility easily. Like ninja missions, I was in charge of a life and I could not afford to make any mistakes.
As a joke, the nurses who often helped me and 'trained me' with the basics of raising a child, tied a garment across my chest to my back and placed Rinji in front, supporting him against my body. I wasn't pleased, but Rinji looked comfortable and my hands were finally free.
"Shikamaru…" I turned, expecting to see Gaara, but instead coming face to face with Kankuro. He had locked himself up after Temari's funeral and hadn't seen Rinji because of the same inner turmoil as Gaara.
"What is it?" I asked covering Rinji's head from a sand breeze. I could feel his tiny hand pushing against my chest for attention; he must already be hungry again.
"Can I see him?" he asked glaring at the floor. I must have hesitated too long because he snapped, "I don't want to hurt him. I just want to see my sister's son."
I was surprised, but slowly pulled back the blanket covering Rinji's tiny body. He blinked bright green eyes up at me, and then turned to look at Kankuro who returned the stare with a solemn look. "He does have Temari's eyes," he breathed out heavily, closing his eyes and relaxing his shoulders. "Can I visit him in Konoha?"
"He is your nephew," I nodded, as I handed Rinji his formula milk bottle.
"Please take good care of him…" I heard him say as I jumped lightly into the cart that was tied to two Ox.
"He is my son," I shrugged without bothering to turn to him as I took a seat, covering Rinji's body with his blanket. Kankuro nodded, smiling sadly as the cart began to move.
I spotted Gaara watching from his office and Kankuro waved slowly. I felt Rinji's movement against my chest and began wondering if I was lucky. I already loved him, the moment I cradled him in my arms. I didn't regret accepting the responsibility of raising him, he was a gift. Indeed, I had some twisted luck.
Don't Forget To Review
I will make a single chapter sequel. Thanks to Ray by Another Name for beta-ing for me!! Super helpful!