A/N: Hey, everyone! This is the last installment of this ShikaIno rollercoaster :) I hope you will all enjoy it!

Also, sorry for the odd format of my title and what not...this computer likes to give me problems...

Thank-you ALL for your magnificent reviews, alerts, and faves! I love you all :)


Therapy: A ShikaIno Story

Chapter o3: Therapy

"…Give me therapy, I'm a walking travesty. But I'm smiling at everything…"

-Therapy, All Time Low

When I woke up, I didn't want to open my eyes. To be truthful, I was afraid to open my eyes. Everything from the night before felt like a dream, and I didn't want to feel disappointed. By the way that the light from my window barely seeped through my eyelids, I could tell it was early morning. Very early morning, and I wondered to myself why I had been getting up so early lately. For some reason, I felt myself liking waking up early. It was a new day. I felt rejuvenated. I felt good.

Had I felt this wonderful on the previous day when I woke up early? I honestly couldn't remember. Yesterday felt like decades ago—at least the waking up at my parent's house part. I couldn't count the number of times I pondered as to why I felt days were passing so slowly, but how I was already eighteen. It felt like only a couple days ago that Asuma had told Choji, Ino, and I that he was our sensei. Sometimes, I swore I could still smell his smoke, still hear his mellow voice telling Choji that if he fought him hard enough, he would take us out for barbeque.

Even so, oddly, it feels like years ago that Asuma died, which is actually accurate. And that time, when we was sitting there over our dying sensei, it felt like life couldn't go any slower—that Time was slowly, steadily tearing me apart.

And Choji was trying not to cry.

And Ino was crying so hard, it made my heart ache. I had wished I could close her eyes, and force her not to look at Asuma. He had demanded her to take care of us, but I couldn't help hoping that I could take care of her in the future.

Ha, be careful what you wish for.

"Good morning, Shikamaru."

My eyes shot open, and I looked over to the side to see the blonde I was just thinking about laying right next to me in bed. She had her legs out with her ankles crossed, and her hair was wild and draped over both of her shoulders. Her azure gaze was locked forward and I noticed that she was wearing one of my long sleeved shirts.

I was surprised, as much as I liked to sleep, I wouldn't call myself a heavy sleeper. Shinobi couldn't afford to be. How had she gotten the shirt without me waking? That thought was quickly pushed aside when I remembered…she was there. She hadn't left? I had always thought Ino the type of girl to leave once she awoke after a night of sex with someone she didn't exactly have an intimate relationship with. Had she remembered what we did the night prior? I knew she wasn't drunk—one beer was like drinking kool-aid to her; it didn't affect the girl one bit.

"How'd you know I was awake?" I questioned softly.

Ino shrugged. "I didn't. I've just said it ten times in the last hour."

I raised an eyebrow. "Ah," was all I could say. Figures. I shook my head and groaned quietly. "I just can't believe you stayed…"

She gave me a sly look—skeptical, almost. "And why not?" she asked in a low voice. Her tone was less confronting and more lecherous, and I had to swallow thickly before looking into her dark blue orbs.

I sighed, trying to play off my staring at her. She was gorgeous, even more so in the daylight when the soft rays of light hit her skin perfectly, and made the sun-kissed flesh glow. Her eyes sparkled in the light and just seeing her in my shirt was a big turn on.

I thought about watching clouds to calm myself down and rolled over, feigning sleepiness. It was easy since that's probably what she expected of me, anyway.

"I'm sorry, but if you're looking for a second round—"

"Shut-up, Shikamaru!" I paused—not because she interrupted me, but more because she sounded…hurt. Her words didn't seem to match her tone; she sounded as if I had stung her. And then her voice softened to something that I hadn't heard from the girl in a very long, long time. She sounded concerned about me.

"I stayed because I…" She hesitated, letting out a frustrated sigh and growl as if it were the toughest thing for her to say. Seeing as she didn't like saying anything that would make her feel vulnerable around me (though, her drunken state was a different story altogether), I knew showing any kind of emotion other than anger, lust, or vanity was going to be a little difficult for her.

"I stayed because I…because I care," she finally choked out, and she was anything but quiet about it. I was still facing the opposite direction, but I was sure she had some stubborn-looking pout on her face like some adolescent kid who didn't get away with something. "Believe me, I tried to leave, but I can't." Her soft voice returned for a short second. "I don't want to…" she whispered almost inaudibly. Cue angry, obstinate voice again. "So congrats, you win. I do want you, and I do care."

I knew she expected me to be surprised and excited, but I wasn't surprised, and I was too tired to be excited. I knew it would turn out this way. Anything with legs shows attraction to the girl and she fucks it. Anything with legs and a heart actually cares for the girl, and she is so polite as to care back.

I'm not saying I wasn't thankful, I was. I really did care for Ino, and I really wanted nothing to happen to her—to the point where I could see myself putting up with her for the rest of my life. Marriage and relationships were still scary thoughts for me, as I didn't want anything troublesome, but in time…I honestly couldn't see myself being with anyone but Ino. It's all I knew.

I'm not thinking these things grudgingly. Ino is the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen, and for the longest time I've wanted her. I do love Ino, but I'm scared to admit that. The girl was so unstable as of late, who said she wouldn't run back to Sai as soon as I confessed to her, leaving me broken and vulnerable. And how could someone that is broken and vulnerable take care of someone who's in the exact same state? It was irrational for me to go tearing down walls that I wasn't sure how to build back up.

The time that it took me to think things through in my mind must have felt like an eternity to her because she was fidgety, and shuffling around in different positions in the bed as if impatiently waiting for me to answer her after her small confession. A confession that I had already made the night before, actually…

"Good…now go shower." I still needed time to think, and away from temptation. In Ino's restless moving, her soft thigh had brushed up against mine, making my temperature shoot up so high I wouldn't have been surprised if I started panting for water. A whole night with her and I still couldn't get her out of my mind. I was sick. I always knew women were troublesome.

"What?" she stammered out, sounding appalled. "You don't want to cuddle after I admitted to all of that?"

I did. I wanted to hold her, and have her, and love her, and never let her go. But she couldn't know that.

Still refusing to look at her, I spoke. "Go shower. You can't be late for work," I ordered, fully knowing that her shift didn't start for another three hours. But I still needed time to think.

She grumbled something, and I felt her lift her petite body out of the bed. "Insensitive jerk…" I heard her mumble to herself, but it didn't sound infuriated as much as it sounded annoyed.

When I thought she was about to walk out of the door, I turned around just in time to see her pull my shirt over her head and strut towards the bathroom in the nude. My eyes rolled to the back of my head, and I slammed right back down on to the bed. She didn't really do that did she? Just seeing her naked body sent flashbacks to the night before, and suddenly I wanted to make it so she couldn't walk at all.

Blood began to pump towards my manhood as I recalled her screaming my name the previous night and I groaned into the sheets. This girl would be the end of me.

Lifting myself off the bed, I quickly made my way to the bathroom (still without clothes from the night before), having heard the shower already turned on. When I opened the door, she was standing right in front of the shower in all her naked glory, facing me so I could see everything. Her perfect curves and dark eyes instantly pulled me in, and before I knew it, I was standing right in front of her.

I leaned forward, giving her a soft peck on the lips, her eyes closing slowly as I did so. She had to stretch to meet my lips, and her beautiful, creamy neck elongated. I found myself wanting to kiss and worship every inch of her body.

"Do you know what you do to me?" I whispered against her lips as I stared into her cerulean-colored eyes, which I now knew had tiny specks of green in them. I kissed her neck, and then her collarbone, and her long arms draped their way around my neck. Trailing my fingers down her sides, I felt goosebumps prick up from under her skin. She moved forward, fitting herself into me comfortably, and I softly licked her collarbone. She was like a refreshing drink of water, and I felt parched. I couldn't get enough of her.

"Hopefully, just as much as you do to me," she said, pulling me up and sensually kissing my lips. Her lips were so soft and talented and pink. I wanted so much to see them the ruby red they took on when they were bruised from my harsh kissing.

Lifting her up, I carried her into the shower with me, pressing her against the wall as water began trailing down my back. The water felt wonderful against my skin, but I could tell she was cold from the contact with the walls of the shower. I placed myself flush against her, and swallowed her whimpers, biting her lip to open her mouth.

My tongue played with her tongue, slowly, sweetly. Instead of the hot, heavy, and rough kisses from the night before, these kisses were light and curious. I had never tasted something so delicious, and I was determined to understand everything about this new flavor called Ino.

She mewled when I grabbed both sides of her face, and pulled her away from me, tilting her head up so she could look me in the eyes. I noticed that the water from the showerhead was starting to cover her whole front now. I also noticed that the there was a wetness between her legs, that wasn't exactly water. Could it be true? Did she really want me as much as I wanted her? I found it hard to believe.

"Say it again," I ordered, sternly looking her in the eyes.

She was in a daze, and her eyes were glazed over. I wasn't so sure it was with lust, but considering the circumstances, it seemed the best explanation. "Say…say what again?" she stuttered. "What do you want me to say?"

"Tell me that you care again." I had to know. I had to know for sure that her feelings were true. And truthfully, anything said by Ino's angelic voice made me hot all over.

She reached a hand up to my cheek and looked me sincerely in the eyes. "I care for you," she whispered before capturing my lips again.

I growled into the kiss, pushing myself back on her and taking control. I brushed my hands through her soft hair and licked her lips, making her moan. I registered the truth in what she said. There hadn't been a single hint of frustration or anger there. She really meant it.

But caring wasn't enough.

I decided to let it go for the time being, for my arousal that sprung from the girls soft cries was all that really mattered to me now. Lifting her again, I settled her onto my throbbing dick. She sighed, and wrapped her legs around me as I felt myself fully fill her. There wasn't an inch of space I didn't cover within her, and she was so warm and tight it was already driving me insane.

"Shika," she sighed into my lips and then trailed kisses along my jawbone and to my ear. I felt my stomach burn with want. "Make love to me," she whispered, before nipping at my lobe.

And make love we did.

Until the water went cold.

By the time that Ino and I had gotten out of the shower, we had already used up close to eighty minutes of the three hours she had before her shift. The girl was still in the bathroom "dressing herself", but I knew she was up to something else since it had been around twenty minutes since I had seen her doing such.

Even after making love to Ino again, and again, and again, I felt odd. Part of me thought it was because I felt a one-sided love forming. While it was safe to say that Ino loved me, it was obvious it wasn't in the same sense that I loved her. I knew that some day, when I was ready, I wanted Ino to be my all. I loved her so much, it felt crazy to believe that I had denied it and kept it in so long. I didn't think that I could ever do something like that again. Now that I was where I was, it seemed almost impossible. Many of my walls were still up, but a lot were knocked down, and I had been correct; building them back up would be no easy feat now that the cat was out of the bag.

I felt that Ino cared for me and, no doubt, loved me for the simple reason that I was there. I was there when she was sad, and Sai didn't feel like comforting her, or didn't even know how to go about doing so. Because I cared, and Sai didn't, it was easier for her to care back.

I frowned slightly. Thinking about Sai made me realize that Ino wasn't exactly mine yet. Sai and Ino were still dating, and I was still the teammate, the friend. It seemed so stupid that Ino was dating someone who didn't even know what feelings were, but it was so unmistakably Ino. She was going through the stage that Sakura had previously gone through with Sasuke (though I couldn't even start to compare Sasuke and Sakura's relationship to that of Sai and Ino)—the I-Can-Fix-Him stage. No, you can't fix him. The girl can never fix him, especially a jaded and one-track-minded shinobi. That kind of stuff only happened in crappy romance novels and sappy movies that I see girlfriends always dragging their boyfriends to. Maybe to give the clueless a clue—something that, once again, never works.

It seemed almost obvious that with all the pain the pinkette went through that Ino would catch a hint. Sakura had matured from that stage in record time seeing as what she was going through, but for someone as hopeless and foolish as Ino, I figured it would take a little longer. But it was starting to get a bit ridiculous.

I sighed, closing my eyes. And it seemed even longer now that I wanted her to myself.

I heard the door open to the bathroom and in walked Ino. She was combing her hand through her long, silky, blonde locks and was wearing black pair of simple biking shorts, and purple tank. It would be lying to say that Ino hadn't had to stay the night on other occasions because of her crazy drinking habits and my ever-present knowledge of where she was. She possibly had a whole wardrobe here, and by the looks of it, a blow-drier too. How the blow-drier got here is a mystery to me, it's definitely not mine, if that's what you're thinking.

How troublesome, before she knows it, Ino won't have anything left in her own apartment.

"I can't believe I left a blow-drier over here, Shikamaru. I don't even remember bringing it." I chose not to answer, flipping over in the bed so that I was facing away from the girl and letting out a groggy moan. It was easy to pretend I was tired, because that's what everyone expected of me, so I just closed my eyes. "Shikamaru?" she asked warily.

I heard swift steps coming towards the bed and felt a small shift in weight on the opposite side. I could tell she was crawling over to me, and after awhile, I felt her straddle me awkwardly.

"Shikamaru!" she called again, giggling lightly. "You lazy bastard, I should've known."

I couldn't help the small smirk that etched its way onto my face as I reached out and grabbed her by the waist, pulling her down on top of me. She squeaked softly, and I felt her body stiffen slightly in surprise, felt her silky locks caress my face.

I growled softly, eyes still closed as I positioned the girl halfway under me. I rested my face into the crook of her neck and breathed in her scent—which was at the moment, whatever soap I owned—and resisted the urge to ravish her again. Only a few minutes had passed and I had already forgotten how soft her skin was.

Giggles ruptured through her lips, and her whole body shook with small vibrations before she gasped sarcastically. "Being playful? Shikamaru, I never thought you had it in you…" she said, her eyes narrowing as she gave a knowing smirk.

I rolled my eyes at her, giving her a leer of my own. Everything she said was always so smart-assed, though I couldn't say it was always witty. But it was fun, and prodded at you until you wanted to say something of the same manner back.

"Why don't you put your mouth to better use," I whispered before smothering her with a hot kiss. She moaned sweetly into my mouth and sent her talented hands through my hair. As soon as she did that, I knew it would be hard for me to stop. She was utterly mouth-watering and her kisses tasted like plums. I felt myself getting lost in Ino, surrounded by her. Her eyes were a watery maze of their own, but when I added the feeling of her wiggling and squirming beneath me and the soft-sounding beat of her heart, she became a labyrinth. Usually I would use deductive strategy to find my way out when I was thinking straight, but every time I came into contact with her, I would start pondering the fact of what would happen if I searched every inch of the labyrinth instead.

My fingers trailed up under her shirt and across the soft flesh that was her stomach as I placed a small kiss against her collarbone. She hummed tenderly in response. "I don't want to let go…" It had somehow slipped from my lips subconsciously—something I wouldn't have said had I been thinking straightly.

Her breathing hitched for a second before her hand began to massage my scalp lovingly. "Listen, if you're looking for another round…" I could hear the mirth in her voice and I shook my head.

"You're a smart ass, you know that?"

"Yeah, I know," she laughed. "Listen, Shika, I wouldn't mind staying for, say, the next three hours, though. If you really just feel like holding me, I'm all yours, bud."

I lifted myself off of her so I could look her straight in the eye. She had some lopsided smirk on her face and was pulling her hair out of her eyes and over one shoulder. I began to wonder if she, unbeknownst to it herself, did those things and ended up turning me on, or if she knew exactly what she was doing.

Knowing Ino, she wasn't completely innocent to how she was making me feel. Ino was anything but naïve. All kuniochi had training for these sorts of things, but Ino was on a different level—purposefully dragging her training into her everyday life.

"You're just saying that to get out of work," I murmured blankly, though I couldn't help but leer at the girl. She raised an eyebrow at me and laughed again.

"Oh, now you care? It didn't seem like it with what you did to me last night; I can barely walk straight," she accused, licking her lips.

I hardened instantly at the thought and leaned forward, licking her neck. She tilted her chin back, allowing me to access it perfectly. I wouldn't let her get off so easily just because she was so delicious, though.

"You're quite the flatterer, Ino, but you were walking just fine this morning." I shuddered, thinking of the Hokage and what she would do if I went against her wishes—probably something troublesome that I wouldn't be able to erase from my mind for years to come. "Besides, Tsunade'll have my ass if you don't get to work today."

She pouted playfully. "But what if I collapse from exhaustion on the way there?" she questioned dramatically.

I scoffed and looked her solemnly in the eye. "Something tells me that that isn't the exact detour you'll be taking to work today, Ino."

She stiffened, smile fading and eyebrows furrowing as she lifted herself from under me, sitting up. She tucked a golden lock behind her ear and refused to look me in the eye. I wondered how just the simple mentioning of a person could make her change her attitude so quickly. Was he really that much of an influence on her life?

"We're talking about him again…"

My eyes narrowed slightly. "Yeah, 'cause we need to." She still wouldn't look at me—for some reason the bed sheets were much more interesting to her. "You've let him take over your life, Ino. You're being stupid and careless with yourself."

She shrugged and that same distant smile from the night before plastered itself on her face. "I love him."

I leaned forward, finally locking gazes with her. "But he doesn't love you," I said as quietly as I could. I didn't want to yell at her, but it was getting harder and harder. "At first you just wanted to change him, but then you got attached, Ino."

She seemed to snap out of her aloof and lovestruck façade after that. I knew she didn't like people making assumptions about her, but we both knew who was speaking the truth.

Her cerulean eyes narrowed and her lips pursed furiously. "I am changing him!" she defended, slamming her fist down like a troubled child.

I leaned in swiftly, my own eyes hardening. "No, you're not! This isn't a damn fairytale, Ino! Things don't work like that!"

She inhaled sharply, teeth gritting. "You don't know anything about us, Shikamaru! Not a thing!" She seemed to be shaking in anger now and I had to push down the urge to kiss her again. Her eyes were so bright and alive when she was arguing, even when she snarled it was a work of art. "And who made you captain of mission Sai-Ino, anyway? How do you know he doesn't love me?" she challenged.

"Oh, besides it being obvious?" I questioned harshly, tilting my head to the side mockingly.

Ino was taken aback for a split second, but then she growled, bristling with anger and clenching her fists. "Obvious? I have no idea what you're talking about! Sai and I are perfect!"

I clicked my tongue at the girl's blindness. I tried to stay somewhat calm because just yelling at her would only make her yell louder, which would lead to her not listening to a thing I'd say.

"Yeah, perfect, that's why he makes you cry all the time. That's why he treats you like shit, Ino!" I shot back, my voice starting to rise. Why didn't she see? I was right there in front of her! I was perfect for her, we were perfect!

Her knuckles were turning white, she was squeezing her fists so tightly. "He treats me perfectly fine! I can't believe you're acting like this! You're my best friend, Shikamaru, you're supposed to be supporting me!"

I lost it, finally grabbing on to her upper arms forcefully and looking her straight in the eye. She gasped, cringing under my stare. "How am I supposed to support your decision when I'm sitting here watching him hurt you again and again?" Her eyes were startled after my outburst as she deflated right before my eyes. A small whimper flittered through her mouth, and she bit her lip, quieting herself and looking at me with quivering, cobalt eyes.

"I'm trying to be your friend, but you won't let me! Friend's don't watch other friend's go through depression because of some guy who doesn't even deserve them!"

Tears were filling her eyes, and her voice was meek and shaky—something I hadn't heard from the girl in a very long time. I knew I was scaring her, but I also knew eventually I would blow up if she never listened. I had to protect her; I couldn't watch her cry over him anymore.


"No, enough!" I interrupted, easily silencing her. My eyes narrowed slightly and I shook my head at her. "Why don't you get it?" I whispered, my voice suddenly becoming softer. "I've been standing right here in front of your face this whole time, Ino, I've always loved you." Silent tears began to fall hastily down her face and I let go of her arms to hold her countenance in my hands, gingerly wiping her tears away. "I will always love you," I murmured as I looked into her sweet, baby blues. They were filled with so much confusion; I knew she didn't know what to think.

"I can't tell what you want, Ino. You're so confusing. I don't think you even know what you want yet."

She closed her eyes and more tears leaked out and it was then that I realized she was letting me see her cry without trying to hide it. She was in a vulnerable position right now, but she seemed perfectly fine with me knowing about it. Was she already starting to open up to me, or was it honestly just too much for the girl to handle?

"Shikamaru…I…I'm sorry. I…" she whimpered between hiccups. I lifted my finger, and put it over her soft lips, a small smile plastering itself onto my face.

"But I get it now," I continued. "You didn't mind him treating you that way because you thought it was part of a process. You just wanted someone who cared, and when you realized it was me instead of him, you panicked."

She looked off to the side and pushed her hand through her golden locks. I knew I had her because when Ino had nothing smart-assed to say, it was safe to say you did something right.

Even though I knew in the end she would still pick Sai over me, I wanted her to know that I was always still here. Part of me felt like a piece of crap—that I was only making myself some cheap booty call when Ino was drunk and unhappy, but another part of me knew that as her close friend she needed to understand that someone was always there for her, someone who genuinely cared for her well-being and loved her for everything that she was. It felt good knowing that it was off my chest, that Ino knew that I loved her (though, I still felt that the rest of Konoha didn't need to know that much—if it wasn't so obvious already, that is).

After a long silence, Ino finally spoke. "Shikamaru?"


She looked at me at long last. Her expression held peace, though I couldn't say she was totally happy. "Thank-you for loving me."

I smirked, and rolled my eyes. "It's not as difficult as it seems."

She quickly perked up, pouting. "What is that supposed to mean?" she barked, crossing her arms.

I chuckled softly. "Nothing," I mumbled, rubbing my thumb across her chin lovingly. "Let's get you to work."

She suddenly gave me a lecherous look and crawled on top of me, kissing my neck. "Let's not, and say we did," she whispered hotly in my ear.

I stood up, purposefully knocking her off of me and onto the floor, where she yelped in surprise. Stretching leisurely with my hands in the air, I yawned, and then scratched my back, making my way to the door. She cursed softly and then stood up, catching up with me.

"Sorry, Ino, in the end, it's just too troublesome to get my ass beat my Tsunade…" I replied.

She growled, stomping behind me. "I hate that word!"

I smirked, grabbing the keys to my apartment and lazily resting my hands behind my head before making my way to the door. "If you hate the word so much, then stop being it," I jeered.

The pretty girl squeaked as if astounded that I would say such a thing and then her eyes narrowed dangerously. "Excuse me? Would you like to run that by me again, Nara!"

"…I'm flesh and bone, I'm a rolling stone. And the experts say I'm delirious…"

-Therapy, All Time Low

The next few days had been rough ones, partly because without having to deal with missions for the time being I had nothing else to do with my time. Mostly because I hadn't seen Ino since the morning we woke up in the same bed. I knew that she would probably still want to be with Sai, and I had let her go, but it didn't mean I liked it.

I should've known I would be like this—full of regrets, but still wanting more of Ino. Hadn't I been manipulated by the witch enough? Why couldn't I have just kept it to myself that I loved her, why did I have to have her right then? I found myself looking impatient and wanton with my actions, they were so irrational and done in the moment.

I—or she had somehow—fooled myself into believing that I could only be that—second best, that if she was ever lost or hurt, that it was okay for her to understand that I would be there to pick her up. I sounded pathetic and self-conscious. She needed to want me—only me.

"It's your move, Shikamaru," mumbled my dad, his arms crossed as he stared at me demandingly.

"I know. I'm thinking," I replied.

His eyes grew skeptical and he looked down at the board as if thinking to himself that I was some sort of amateur. Honestly, I probably just couldn't decipher his look correctly. My father knew that he could only beat me in Shogi until I reached the age of about ten, at best.

"You're taking a long time to think," he pointed out slowly.

"You made a good move," I said, lying through my teeth. The truth was, after all the pondering I had done without Ino next to me, I had realized the mistakes I had made with her. I also realized that though I made those mistakes, I still wanted nothing more than to be with Ino forever.

My eyes narrowed slightly as I made my move. My father wasn't playing his best, and I knew I could win, at the most, in five more moves if I kept holding it off like I was doing. I had agreed to play a game with my father to get my mind off of Ino, but it obviously wasn't working.

I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. I couldn't believe I actually told her I loved her—in the heat of the moment, I had potentially ruined my life. I had come to wonder how many men Ino had done this to. Had they felt the same way as I had? As if they were somehow falling in love? It was weird. It was like I was watching myself from the outside of my body as I made mistake after mistake falling into the hands of this seductress. You would think the outer me that was watching everything happen would try and put an end it to it. But it never ended and I had mixed emotions about that.

I wanted to know how it had happened—that I had somehow come to love this troublesome girl. Had she known the whole time? Did she do it on purpose? Some part of me screamed that she had played the just-wanting-to-be-cared-for card to get me, that she acted depressed and drank whole bars for fun, that she allowed Sai to emotionally wound her and treat her that way just for the experience. That same part of me wondered what would happen if an Ino of this demeanor got bored with Sai? Would she merely keep him as a pet? Would she somehow do the impossible and break his heart for no reason, too? A sliver of my mind wanted to believe that Ino was sincere, though. The girl had feelings and emotions, too. Emotions that could cause her to someday, maybe, somehow, kind of love me back in a way…

But I quickly fought these petty wishes from my mind. I didn't want to get my hopes up. It seemed logically irrational and foolish. But as much as I went through the many scenarios in my head, the percentages of Ino liking me, and the ratio of chances that I had compared to every one of Sai's, I found myself still having hope that Ino would someday pick me.

"Hm..." mumbled my dad thoughtfully, as he gazed down at the board to make his move. "Ino's a nice girl, isn't she?"

My father's correct assumption didn't startle me. I might have been a genius, logically, but as far as I knew, my dad was my dad—and saw every emotion that was playing through my head travel to my face and took to notice all of my actions, though the changes were miniscule.


Clouds hadn't calmed me for the last few days, either. Every time I saw a cloud, it vaguely reminded me of Choji, which happened to remind me of our team, which of course, has Ino on it. Then starts the thoughts that I had been trying to avoid since the beginning.

The thought of Ino was so unnerving. Where could she be right now? Was she actually with Sai—after all that she actually went back to him? Unbelievable.

And the inescapable feelings continued, almost to the point where I felt irrevocable sickness occurring. Not being able to think of anything else but a girl that was ultimately causing problems in your life, was not only hard to deal with, but utterly sickening. I kept praying that the days would quicken so I could get to my mission. As tiring and troublesome as they were, they couldn't beat sitting around with my mind on my blonde teammate all day.

I had only been resting under the clouds for about an hour when I heard footsteps behind me. For the longest time, I chose not to look (hoping that it was/wasn't a certain azure-eyed vixen), but when I did the bright sun obscured my vision. A puffy, dark cloud soon rolled right over the dimming sunlight as a damp breeze came blowing across my face. It would rain soon.

Emerald eyes smiled down at me. "Hey, Shikamaru! Have you seen Ino?"

My facial expressions hadn't wanted to change, so my face probably looked void of emotion when I stared at the girl. "No, I haven't seen her in days," I stated truthfully, lifting myself off the ground. If I wasn't thinking about Ino, I was talking about her. Sakura always had a way of bringing her up in conversations, though I knew there was some sort of system behind all the madness. The pinkette always had a keen eye for when something was doubly bitter between the blonde and I (doubly, because our attitudes toward each other were usually anything but joyful) because of the care she held for us and was unusually petulant towards us when we didn't get along at all.

Sakura looked more taken aback than angry—astonished, if anything. For Sakura to be totally unaware of something of such importance going on between Ino and I meant Ino had to be acting irregularly cheery, and was perhaps smiling a lot.

Both cotton-candy-colored eyebrows rose. "You're not lying, are you?" she asked and then her arms crossed tersely under her chest, her eyes stern and hard. "What happened?"

I closed my eyes, sighing. I hadn't the energy to deal with a furious Sakura, demanding why Ino wasn't hanging around me as of late. It was too complicated a thought for even me to decipher. "I don't know…I don't want to talk about it. Has she not been at work again, or something?"

She arched an eyebrow. "Acutally she has. I just wanted to ask if she wanted to hang later." The young kunoichi took on a look of concern, her tone suddenly changing. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine. Why are you asking?"

She chuckled shortly. "No reason, it's just that as someone who's so smart, you act like you have just as much sense as Ino. You both obviously love each other, but you refuse to do anything about it."

That had certainly come out of nowhere. And here I had predicted Sakura knew nothing about my and Ino's situation. I retorted with the only thing I knew was true, "You're crazy, Sakura."

She shrugged contentedly. "You can say that all you want, but at the end of the day, I'm happily engaged," she pointed out boldly. I took the time to sigh again; the thought of engagement sickened me almost as much as the recurring thought of Ino implanted within my brain.

I glared slightly when she started to giggle more or less at my state of mild depression, but I knew to her it only looked like a pout, and then took a deep breath. "She's too in love with Sai to even think about me anyway, so you need to just drop it," I confirmed dryly.

Sakura shook her head again as if I was some small boy who just didn't understand. "You're a genius, Shikamaru, but you're honestly the biggest dumbass I've ever seen when it comes to love."

I rolled my eyes. "Really? Tell me something I don't know."

Sakura's eyes narrowed. "Okay. Ino loves you, but she's just as dense and stubborn as you are and somehow is stuck in fairytale land where she can magically fix all of Sai's problems." My dark brown eyes hardened. "And unless you get off your ass and make her choose you, you're going to have a long, sad life full of regrets," she said calmly before walking away.

The troublesome thing was, I had already accumulated quite a few regrets when it came to Ino—the one that was bugging me currently: letting her go to work without knowing and fully comprehending everything that Haruno Sakura had just told me.

The clouds had moved in and the wind was growing stronger in Konoha, signaling rain. The air was warm and humid, a Konoha summer specialty. It was usually rainy in the beginning months of summer, and the trees would glisten from the light drizzle from the day before. We hadn't had any rain for a couple weeks, so no doubt people were excited. Konoha's heat was usually humid, and I think people liked it that way—though the moisture in the air mixed with the rain could make one feel slightly suffocated.

I knew the rain would start in the next few minutes, but there was no thunder or lighting, so it wasn't unsafe to be outdoors. It was Friday today, the day I liked to visit Asuma at his grave. When Asuma first died, I visited him every day and smoked a cigarette at his grave, lighting up one for him, as well. Team 8, we used to visit as a team. Ino would cry, Choji would look remorseful and I would just stare and smoke. Everyday turned into once a week, and Ino's attitude was changing now that she had Sai. She would smoke along with Asuma and me, but she would smoke two or three at a time, blowing through them like they were sticks of candy. Now she stared just like I did; cobalt eyes jaded and dark.

Every week turned into every two weeks, and now I only showed up about once a month. But it was always Friday. Asuma was killed on a Friday.

The smell of a cigarette seeped softly into my nose, mixed with the humid stench of the air around me. Asuma had already started smoking before I got here, and I knew it was Ino's treat. Choji rarely brought smokes to Asuma, only when we all went together and Kurenai only came with Asuma's son and maybe a flower or two.

The cigarette was beginning to go out, and I supposed that Ino had only been there at most a half an hour earlier. It had to be fate that I just missed her.

By now the rain had started, gingerly speckling atop my skin—but the size of the drops were steadily picking up, and second by second the rain came harder. I didn't care, I couldn't care, a slight want to relight Asuma's cigarette flickering through my mind for a split second. I knew I would be soaked through soon, but it didn't trigger any desire to find cover, or get out of the rain. I only wanted to be with Asuma, everything was so much simpler with him there.

I need help, Asuma. What should I do? Everything was less troublesome with you here…

Instantly the rain stopped pattering along my head and I looked up to see a black umbrella sheltering me in such an abrupt matter, I feared whiplash. A sun-kissed hand, detailed with long manicured fingers held the impermeable object above me, and by then I knew who it was.

"I didn't think you'd actually stay if it rained." I froze. "You shouldn't be out here. You'll catch a cold and be no good for your mission."

That voice and the sound of bells ringing were equals. It was clear, but soft—simple and clean, indicating towards the girl's happy and serene attitude.

"Ino…" I murmured softly, the word almost exiting my mouth subconsciously. Just whispering her name sent shivers up my back, and I shortly pondered if saying my name gave her the same results. It was hard to know; the feeling was so wonderful and intense when it happened to me, I found it hard to believe if anyone could understand it. I had been sitting under Ino's umbrella for quite awhile now before I started to wonder… "How did you know about my mission?"

She chuckled. "Ah…you assumed that you knew everything about me, but I didn't know a thing about you. Sloppy logic, Shikamaru."

I raised my eyebrow and shook my head. She talked to me as if we hadn't had an intimate couple days before practically avoiding each other for a week. I turned around, standing up so that she had to raise her umbrella a bit for it to accommodate my height and grimaced down at her.

"Ino, where have you been?" I demanded.

She shrugged lackadaisically "Work, home, training…why?" she listed casually, but then I stopped listening to her and just stared.

It had been a trick, her voice. There was obviously something wrong, but aside from the pleasant tone in her words, she was doing little else to hide the fact that she wasn't okay. It was written in the contours of her face. She was giving off that distant look like she had a few days prior, and there was some odd-placed smile across her face. Even though miniscule, the smile was forced, and her eyebrows furrowed and quivered gesturing that the girl was trying not to cry. After staring at her for quite a bit of time, I understood. My eyes narrowed.

"Why aren't you with Sai?"

Her face seemed like it had just cracked for a moment before she answered, her lips straining to smile only a bit wider as her eyelids lowered. She didn't look happy in the least; she looked hurt. "You don't usually hang around the person you just broke up with, Shikamaru," she laughed, but it was painfully butchered for she was clearly feigning her sarcasm. The break-up had probably damaged her more than it had him, though I found truth in the fact that she broke up with him.

I leaned in as if to validate the truth in her words by searching through her azure orbs. "You broke up with him?" I asked disbelievingly. Concern washed through my being as she nodded. I wanted her to end it with Sai, but I was worried about her well-being. "Are you alright?"

She nodded again, closing her eyes and then opening them at a snail's pace. "I'm fine. But I'm a little confused." I raised an eyebrow. Her forged smile was widening again, but there was a hint of true mirth beneath it.

Ino still hadn't gotten to the point after a few seconds of waiting, so I prodded her along, my anxiety for her welfare most likely coming off as irritation. "Well? Out with it."

The blonde medic shrugged leisurely again. "Well, for some reason I ended up falling for you in the end." I hesitated, my eyes widening ever-so-slightly. Was she really being truthful? She seemed to notice my surprise, and the amusement began to show through as she giggled slightly and then wrinkled her nose cutely. "I know; gross, right?"

I still couldn't believe it. Ino had finally admitted to having feelings for me other than merely caring for a teammate and I was speechless. Butterflies were tickling the inside of my stomach, and wanted to travel up my esophagus and spill from my mouth, but all I could do was stand there and stare at the beautiful, albeit troublesome girl before me. After awhile, Ino's entertained laughter snapped me out of my stupor, and I smirked.

"What would Asuma say?" I asked, sparing a look at our late sensei's grave.

Ino grinned genuinely. "He'd probably just want us to keep the "king" safe," she shrugged, sending a hand to her belly and patting it gingerly.

I paled, faltering a little. Had that been a hint? "You mean—" I began, and then cut myself short, watching the girl intently. Was she saying she was pregnant? Right now? She couldn't be serious, could she? I thought about it. We had had a lot of sex, and without protection, too. But it had been recently, and normally it took a little longer to realize a pregnancy, right? But Ino was a medic…

She laughed again, this time loudly, her shoulders shaking jubilantly. I was too astonished to scowl at her, too nervous to scold her. This was no laughing matter! "I'm not pregnant yet, Shikamaru, calm down." Relieved, a breath I hadn't known I was holding slipped through my lips. "In order for that to happen, the father of would be child would have to promise to care for me for forever."

My features softened considerably. "Ino…I will never stop loving or caring for you. It's you I'm wary of…" I answered, trailing off. How was she worried about me when this whole time I had been confessing to her?

She shook her head, her blonde brows knitting together prettily. "Please don't be. It's hard for me to put myself out there after all I've been through, but with you it's different. I trust you, Shikamaru." Her voice was pleading, and I couldn't help but want to comfort her. She seemed frightened of something…

"What are you scared of? I won't hurt you, Ino," I assured her.

She smiled sadly. "I know you won't." She reached out, lacing her fingers with mine. They were soft and warm. "But trusting someone with your emotions is a scary thing. You can't tell me you're not a little scared of serious relationships, Shikamaru."

"I am," I shrugged. And I truly was. It was part of the reason it took Ino and I so long just to get to this position. "But I'll regret it if I don't go for you now," I stated, recalling what the pink-haired kunoichi had told me earlier that day.

She firmly squeezed my hand. "Same." The girl looked up at the sky and then pouted slightly before laughing. I wanted so much to know what the girl had been thinking, but all she did was laugh. The laugh was bubbly and airy, and so full of irony the way the dark clouds were looking angrily down at her. She was so beautiful, even with this type of setting behind her, and I couldn't help but pull her slightly closer to my bodice. "This is the part where the rain is supposed the stop and the sun peaks from behind the clouds, right?" she finally voiced, raising an eyebrow at me.

I smirked, giving her a sly look. "This isn't a novel, Ino. I don't think we need that, anyway." I snatched the umbrella from her grasp and tossed it to the ground, enveloping her other hand in mine and leaning forward into a slow, sensual kiss without much resistance.

The rain poured down on us and flowed along our skin, saturating us with its warmth and she lifted her hands and hung them limply around my neck, my own hands going to her downy cheeks, now slick and smooth from the rain. Her kisses were slow and captivating, and they broke off into many more mouth-watering little kisses that kept me wanting more. I pulled her closer, if humanly possible, and delved my tongue into her mouth.

I lied when I said it was impossible for one to change the one they love, or specifically, for the woman to. I warned that it only happened in movies. But I had changed Ino, and she was changing me. We were changing, and it wasn't some sappy novel.

I couldn't call what we had troublesome anymore. It was time for a change of vocab. Though, I couldn't put my finger on the word yet, I could almost feel it at the tip of my tongue.


She broke the kiss, breathing harshly. "Asuma shouldn't have to see us doing this," she said, gesturing at the inappropriate area in which we were making out.

"I'm sure he's just happy we're not fighting," I pointed out, wanting so badly to continue kissing her.

She smirked artfully as her eyes narrowed, glinting a playful sapphire. "Oh, Shikamaru, it's just so painfully obvious that you want me," she whispered huskily. I wanted so much to devour her right then and there.

I sent her a jesting look of my own. "Oh?" She nodded and I sent my hand through her sopping blonde tresses. "And what gave that away?" I asked sarcastically before I captured her lips again.

No, not yet. But we were getting there, slowly but surely.

For now, let's simply go with…


"…Therapy, you were never a friend to me. And you can choke on your misery…"

-Therapy, All Time Low

A/N: Well, there you are! Suprised that it was actually a happy ending? Haha, I usually don't go for the sappy ending, but don't put it behind me! I was feeling the ShikaIno love, ya know? Anyway, I hope you liked it :) I hope to do more ShikaIno in the future...it's fun and cute!

Thanks again for all the reviews...BUT, you have to REVIEW this chapter to be part of the COOLCAT club, ya dig?

Thx for everything!

Luv you and laterz!

-chewingonpearls (SAYURI)