A/N: Ino had always been troublesome for him to figure out.
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. Damn.
Warnings: M, because of lots of smoking and some drug reference, heavy make-out and character death.
Can't be to careful y'know?
Spoilers for Asuma arch! Take them seriously people.
Some Asuma/Shika that is platonic, and maybe a tiny bit of Asuma/Ino/Shika if you squint very, very hard, but it's unintended.
Cigarettes and Sunsets
They're sharing a drink they call loneliness,
But it's better than drinking alone.
Shikamaru would never have said that he was the type of guy to let things get to him. He was passive. Nonchalant. Lazy even, if you wanted to call it that. Things and people would come and go, life would continue its inexorable pattern, and the fact of it was that none of the trials and tribulations and goings on would stop a spike-haired genius from kicking back and getting in some serious cloud-watching time.
It wasn't that he couldn't enjoy the gentle drift of white across the sky, but the truth was that it was simply difficult nowadays. His lazy contemplation of the shape of a cumulus would begin, at peace with the world, brushing off emotions like flies. He would lean back on grass without trouble or malcontent and let life pass him by. But now his cloud-watching was inevitably interrupted practically every time because as soon as he'd lie quietly and begin to picture a finely crafted kunai in the clouds, or Tsunade's pig, or who knows what, it would inexplicably change and become a face.
A face with a chin-hugging beard and flashing gray eyes and a cigarette in the mouth which would wisp smoky cloud in the air. And then Shikamaru's throat would clench and his teeth would ache and he'd worry. And feel guilty again. And just...it was wrong. He wasn't supposed to feel like this. Shikamaru wasn't overly proud, but he prided himself on his lazy uncaringness, and with Asumas face in the clouds that would be gone in a blink of an eye.
He wasn't sure he could call this troublesome though. Asuma was never troublesome. But they hurt these emotions. He had been surprised to find out. They took up time, made it hard to focus, and impossible to concentrate. And Asuma... His throat tightened again.
The picture of Asuma planted in his head, blowing clouds of smoke in Chouji and his face, beating him (rarely) at shogi. He saw Asuma leaning contentedly into Kurenai's shoulder, ruffling Ino's hair while she squealed indignantly and buying Chouji barbecue on his tab. Asuma fighting with his knuckle knives glinting, fire in his breath. Asuma with a grave and strangely calm look on his face as his life was ended. Death looked noble, he remembered thinking as he'd watched his teacher with something holding tight onto him in his chest, his mouth, constricting and clenching.
Shikamaru groaned slightly and rubbed his eyes, blocking out images.
Unfortunately they remained resolutely behind his retinas, mocking him.
There was only one thing to do when things got like this.
Maybe someone more used to stress and troublesome things would have found a better way to lessen the glaring ache. But he couldn't really deign to care.
He heaved a sigh and reached into his flak vest, wondering if his fingers were shaking from his fatigue or...
It didn't matter.
A slide of thick paper against cardboard, a flicking hiss of his lighter, a deep pull of breath, and then it was all better.
Like a band aide.
Like the few more extra pills at night necessary to get himself to sleep.
Like that white powdery drug he'd snagged to try after he'd confiscated it and had felt his mind bend out pleasantly.
Shikamaru snorted amusedly at the memory of that last one. He'd never be curious on how the orange jack-ass kept up his energy again. He pulled in again, breathed out, and watched the smoke on the breeze, wondering how long it would take him to learn how to blow the smoke in the perfect spheres and rings Asuma used to show them. Probably not long, he was a genius after all, but he hadn't tried. And he wouldn't, just yet. Shikamaru took things slow. When you're a mastermind, it's nice to have a few mysteries.
When he breathed out again the smoke wafted up into his face and he smelled it and smiled. This was better then the pills or the coke. This was the one thing that succeeded most in making everything fade out except for the warm tang of the thick cigarette brand that Asuma had never been without.
And it wasn't the nicotine, Shikamaru thought, that kept him coming back for another and another pack of the sticks at the counter of the pharmacy no matter how many pitying but disapproving looks the matron sent his way, though, he reflected with a grin as the taste of the nick curled on his tongue, it probably didn't hurt. The genius knew he could break his growing addiction pretty easily if he wanted to.
But he didn't.
It was the smoke he breathed; it was both soothing and enticing. When he pushed the smoke out and closed his eyes to suck the smell into his nose, it was Asumas scent and Asumas presence right next to him, and any moment now he'd snag his cigar from Shikamarus teeth and crush it between his own and his gravely voice would laugh and grill at him for stealing his brand before challenging him to a shogi game.
He waited for it.
Of course, Asuma could never do this, but with the smoke in his lungs and nose he could pretend. So he lies back with his eyes on the clouds, waiting.
The sun drifts down the horizon as he breathes mechanically and watches the clouds drift by. His lashes drift closed with them.
Cumulus's have formed pink and red bands across the sky and the sun looks like its dying over the edge of the world when he notices his cigarette is starting to go out. He drags it on as long as he can, struggling to get every last bit, seeing as he knows he'll need another one. When he heaves his eyes open to feel for his pack he starts at the change of light on his face because quite suddenly Ino is standing above him.
He could be surprised, but he'd never let her know. She isn't supposed to know things like that about him. Sometimes it niggles at him a little however, and he wonders if Ino is ever truly fooled by him.
He adjusts his hand behind his head and blinks a greeting at her, the cigarette lolling from his lips. She sighs exasperatedly at him, all pale skin and pale hair and dark tired shadows under her eyes. But she doesn't start to berate him, in true Ino fashion, on his laziness and ask why can't he even say 'Hello'? Because even a genius has to use common courtesy sometimes thank you Shika, and most of all why was he still smoking because it was stupid and he'd get sick and hadn't she always, always told Asuma-
He stops himself imagining it, because she hasn't even opened her mouth, even though usually she'd be in her fourth paragraph about lung cancer by now. She just flops on the soft grass next to him, sitting with her elbows on her knees and chin on her hands, ponytail waving in the wind. It's unusual, but he finds it troublesome to dwell and instead enjoys the quiet.
But as Ino can't stay quiet for very long, she eventually speaks. But, when she opens her mouth it's not what he was expecting. Her voice is quiet and low and he can hear the musical timbre in her tone that only comes out sometimes behind the high indignation.
"I can see why you come out here sometimes Shika-kun. When it all gets..." she sighs a deep sigh, "a bit much."
He raises a black brow. "Losing holds of things too often? The Indomitable Ino?"
She flicks a strand of grass at his nose. "Not often at all dickwad." A hint of a grin is playing on her lips. "Just sometimes." She turns to brush a lock of hair off his face, tugging her nails over his scalp in the process, and laughs at his wince before turning to watch the sun again.
For a rare moment, he is content. He doesn't much care where Ino decides she wants to be, whether beside him or not. She does that herself. There is smoke in his lungs, and Ino's flowery scent is wafting around him and mixing with his cigarette. The sun is a bloody red ball in the sky.
"I miss him too."
Inos voice is small and quiet, but her eyes are clear and there is a rueful smile on her mouth. She throws a careless cutting glance over to him and then away, her hair flicking over her shoulder. He is briefly distracted by the pale gold flash.
She speaks again
"Think he knows we do?"
Shikamarus tongue is dry. His cigarette is papery. He coughs raspily, trying not to dwell on her words. She isn't supposed to understand how he feels. "Don't be silly." His voice is raw, though from the emotions or the ash he can't tell.
Her eyes are too knowing. "Sure Smarty-pants" she drawls, and he scowls.
His jaw aches and tightens as he realizes his cigarette is far past being done. He fiddles for another one and is fumbling urgently, needy for the fix.
His hands shake again as he searches for his lighter. Where is it? Asuma needs to know that he's there, that he was sorry-
He stops himself. Ino has tossed his lighter into his lap, and is throwing another sidelong, dagger look his way, her eyes narrowed. He is his lazy self again now, and the slow grin slides over his face.
"Want one?" He offers the pack to her. He knows what will happen. He'll ask if she wants a cig, and she'll cut a biting 'No' out of clenched teeth and glare. She'll ask how many smokes he has had today, and he'll respond this is his third even though it's actually his sixth. Every day they query, every day the responses are the same. Every day since the first day he'd stumbled out of the pharmacy with a glazed look on his face and a circle of smoke around his head and she'd bumped into him as she was going in.
Now he looks at her, pack extended. She is gazing back at him. There is a dull and yet burning look in her eyes and her lips are quirked upward at the corners. Her bangs blow sideways in the air with the wind like gold gossamer. She leans forward.
He stares, startled and rooted to the spot as a hand wraps around the box and long fingers curl around a cigarette, manicured clear nails digging into the paper just a tiny bit. He tosses her the lighter with a robotic motion and watches as she lights up like she's been doing it her whole life. Her pale lips form a perfect little O and she breathes a cloud of smoke onto the breeze. Her mouth quirks some more.
His eyes narrow at her with suspicion, and she looks back, own eyes dull and burning at once, and he notices suddenly they are very blue. The rueful smile dances over her face. He doesn't say anything, and neither does she.
Shikamaru lights up for himself. He tries not to think about the weirdness of Ino. She's always been terribly troublesome for him to figure out. It won't do any good to puzzle. Instead he sits there, soft grass on his hands, and watches the clouds and her, feeling the smoke whirl in his mouth and throat. Her elbow is on her knee. She holds the cigarette in two delicate fingers instead of lolling it lazily between the teeth as he did, and when she breathes the smoke on the air her chin tilts up and her lips wetten.
The sun starts to bleed out and they melt back together. They are lying against the grass and each other, she is curled into his side and one of his arms is outstretched to pillow her head while the other tucks behind his own. They are touching all the way down, sides melded, but touching has never really mattered to them. Ino doesn't do the personal bubble thing, and Shikamaru is too lazy to care.
Though right now, he would even say he likes it. Her body is warm and the smoke she daintily blows brushes tingling on his skin. Her hair still waves in the breeze and he can see it as some occasionally washes across her face fleetingly before she shoves it away. The light strands are sometimes a bit split at the ends.
He finds himself wanting to touch them.
He likes her eyes like this, an almost fragile glassy blue instead of the harder, louder brightness. He notices her lashes are a dusty blonde.
He wants to touch them too.
His ashy smoke pushes hard through his lips, and he closes his eyes against the blonde and the blue and he can see Asuma. Asuma and Ino. Practicing taijutsu and playing during barbecue and she stealing his cigarettes and him rolling his eyes as she lectures him about the apparently horrendous state of his lungs. Ino conspiring with Kurenai about the life of Kunoichis while Asuma spouted jestingly chauvinistic ideals until they both bonked his skull angrily. Ino fighting wildly during practice, burning in her eyes but music in her voice, and her blue irises glowing when Asuma nodded his approval.
It's too much. Asuma was gone and he was alone and Ino was alone and Asuma didn't know. Didn't know he was waiting, and he was sorry, and he missed him. The smoke burns in his throat and he hacks to get it out, coughing like he could cough up his own lungs, his own self—
And then Ino is on top of him. He abruptly stops and realizes she's right there, and her hair is trailing down to lie on his forehead and he can smell the flowers and the smoke mixing together. It smells good.
He looks at her, his cigarette in his splayed hand and hers in her mouth and her fingers digging into his flak vest. She's straddling him, soft and lithe over his hips. Her eyes bore into his, dull and burning and bluer then anything he's ever seen in his life, in the world.
For a split second he sees his own sorrow and loneliness reflected back at him in the blue of those eyes. But it's gone as she smiles a little Ino-quirked smile and she blows a thick cloud of sweet smoke in his face and then, suddenly and perfectly, she's kissing him.
He's kissed her before; there are few men Ino hasn't kissed. But that was back way before, and a dare at Chouji's, and he'd only pressed his lips once lightly against her own, and tasted only the sticky sweet of her lemonade lip gloss.
This was different. She pressed into him and rocked her body against his, making a slight groan pulls from his lips. There was smoke in her mouth and she passed it to his and down his throat as she twisted their tongues and he can taste her, sweet and smoky and ashy on her pale lips and her whole heady flowery scent rippling around him. His hand comes up and grips in her hair, the other unthinkingly shoves up the back of her shirt to the smooth hot skin of her back beneath, between her delicate angel bones, pressing her closer. Her hands dig in his spiky knot and yank the tie free so she can twist the rough strands around her fingers. He jerks as one of her palms grinds her hot cigarette butt into his muscled shoulder, but it only makes him press her in deeper, take her mouth farther.
They taste each other, each ones smoke pressing hotly into the others lungs with carbon dioxide and rough tongue and bittersweet saltiness. They can feel the vapor swirling down their raw throats; they can taste the ash on each others tongues. Her mouth melds against his own as though she owns him, because maybe she might, and he lets her tongue capture his as if he doesn't mind, because maybe he doesn't. His mind is hazy, with Ino and smoke in his brain and Asumas cig brand taste in his mouth as Ino kisses him and makes him sweet with her flowers and her cigarette and her body. With Ino, he realizes, as she rocks her hips into his a little more, and moves her mouth against his a little harder, there is no room for loneliness. She is everywhere for him, and he is everywhere for her. There's no room for Asuma, but that's okay. He doesn't have to be there, because this is for them.
When she finally pulls away and stills above him, pulling in oxygen in shuddering breaths, he has to fight the urge to pull her down again. She sits back, still seated on his hips, and he shudders too. She's smiling a true Ino smile now, all devilry and most likely troublesome fun, but he can't help but slide a corner of his mouth up at her, along with his eyebrow. In response she brushes the back of her fingers against his cheek, leaving an ashy smear. Her eyes are burning, glassy blue orbs.
"It's okay. Asuma would know."
She doesn't mean about the kiss.
For a moment he doesn't swallow.
He chooses to be disgruntled anyway and feels around for the cigarette he'd abandoned, only to find Ino has claimed it into her own mouth as she rolls off to lay sprawled half on him, half beside him, her fingers idly flopping on his chest.
"He'd probably be scandalized if he knew about that."
He's grumbling, but he can feel her laugh against his side as her fingers tug on his ear and it makes the genius smile.
"Maybe, but who knows? Perhaps he does. Will."
Her whisper is a tease but also a promise, and suddenly he tingles where her fingers brush.
He watches dazedly as she pulls in, and then breathes out a set of three perfect smoke rings, dancing against the now dying blaze of the sky. His eyebrows rise.
A long silent moment passes, quiet against the breeze, and he knows they are both thinking of Asuma and his perfect rings and spheres and sometimes triangles, and they are remembering. But he can't remember with loneliness anymore.
He takes another cigarette from the pack for himself and lights it up again. She watches.
"How many have you had today Shika?"
He looks at her, long and measuring, at her ashy kiss-swollen lips and pale hair and knowing blue eyes and the sinful quirk of her mouth and the delicate fingers holding his cigarette lazily. They are lying close and still with Ino's fingers on his neck and Ino's leg curled around his thigh. He can feel the imprint of her lips upon his own, and feel her body warmth on his hips as he drags the new cigarette, and see the wisps of smoke still from her rings as they drift over the trees.
"This is my sixth."
He pulls in, and breathes out a large ring on the first try. He wasn't a genius for nothing. She grins a small little grin, damning and saving in one.
He'll probably come to cringe at that grin. For now, he tilts his lips up at her quirked ones, slow and lazy.
They sit and breathe, pulling in and pushing out silently. Inos hair flutters like the lightest sun-ripened wheat in the wind. He lets his own hair stay loose and caress his face, and snags her split ends when it catches his fancy to let them slide through his ashy fingers.
They blow smoke rings and think of their dead Sensei as the sky darkens past sunset,
And it still hurts.
But Shikamaru can still taste Inos sweet smoke in his mouth, and when he looks at her sidelong and sees her cutting glance and her burning blue eyes on him he knows she has his taste in hers too.
A/N: Soooo? Let me hear you. Only no criticizing the pairing please, because if you don't like Shika/Ino you should've stopped reading at the beginning. Thanks!
Oh and yes that was Naruto on Cocaine reference. Just my imagination running away with me, I'm pretty sure its Kyuubi who provides all that energy. And who knows what type of drugs Narutoverse has anyway?
And for whom it may concern and those who might be scandalized that I mentioned smoking, let it be known that I hate smoking. But the Shikamaru and Asuma muses were speaking to me and I had to listen. It goes with the story and that's what's important. So don't flame me about it please.