Mint and lilac / Final breath

Ino smelled of lilac. Always.

Her room smelled of lilacs when they were ten and she decided she wanted her first kiss already, dammit. Her hitai-ate smelled of lilacs on their first day as shinobi, with only the briefest time spent with her. Her bedroll had unfurled with a wave of purple blossoms on their first overnight mission. Chakra poured into spilled hair filled the air with the slightest hint of floral scent even after five days in the forest of death. Choji and Shikamaru had relished in the way she seemed to overpower the piercing sterile smell of the hospital when they almost didn't make it back from their confrontation with Sound.

At Asuma's funeral she gave him a bouquet of lilacs, "Something to remember me by. After all, scent is the best way to trigger a memory!" she declared to her teammates with a smile though tears threatened to spill through closed lids. A beat passed and the smile turned to a frown and the tears did spill and she said to them: "But lilac also helps you sleep, he deserves to sleep."

And she smelled of lilac now.

Ino smelled of lilacs when she was sweaty from fighting, when she had gone without bathing for days and had been away from any kind of artificial scent for weeks. The scent of her overpowered the dirt and the water and the ashes and the blood.

When she was this close to him, knelt beside him, leaning over him, glowing hands pressed to his chest in a futile effort, Shikamaru took pleasure in the tip of her ponytail that brushed his face and the scent that was so simply Ino.

He was barely aware of the leaves thrown towards him and her order to chew them. Through the thin coat of saltwater tears they were easily identified as mint. He knew they would do nothing to help him and if she had been in a less frenzied state she would have as well. But at the moment she was desperate – reaching out for anything that may save him, and he was strangely at peace. He blamed the lilac; she was right, it did put you to sleep.

Shikamaru supposed that he could have, should have, would have, used his final breath to speak to her. To tell her not to worry, to tell her he would be alright, that he wasn't afraid, that he loved her. But instead he used it to breathe in her scent, long and deep one last time, and savor the way the desperate, frenzied mint seemed to compliment her sleepy lilac. One last memory of her, so that when she gave him his bouquet of lilacs, he was sure to remember, no matter what world he was in.