((A/N: Hey ya'll. Just a cheesy idea that popped into my head a couple years back after watching every stupid cartoon ripped from the ballet, Swan Lake, with my nieces. It didn't take me long to start replacing the characters with Naruto characters (I had… have a very sad life) to try and make it bearable to watch (they're really bad). So finally I decided to put the pen to paper, key to Word, and put together this (hopefully entertaining) adaption of this sappy tale that won't leave my head. Hope you enjoy ;) ))
***The Deer Shinobi***
Chouji and Shikamaru walked casually behind Ino who briskly walked deeper into the streets of Nanao, located just south of mid Tea Country on their way back home from a mission further south. The day was drawing to an end and the streets were busy wish villagers heading home for the day. Ino turned around and began walking backwards with a stout smile on her face.
"I know I said it before, but kami, civilization! I was about to think we were going to have to camp out again earlier today," Ino sung happily.
"I just hope the Inn we stay at serves good food. It's going to be nice to eat a meal we didn't have to catch ourselves," Chouji added.
Ino righted herself and commandeered the space between her two friends. "I wonder what their specialty for tea is in this village. I hope it's sweet like Kawakita. Their plumb tea was amazing. "
"I preferred their mate tea personally," Shikamaru added.
Ino made a sour face. "Blech, that was disgusting Shikamaru. I still can't believe you willing finished that."
Smiling, Shikamaru leaned toward his friend. "You're the one who grabbed my cup and drank it. I told you you wouldn't like it."
"You could have stopped me," she accused. "Why can't you be overly protective of what goes in your stomach like Chouji is?"
Chouji looked mocked offended, "I am not overly-"
"Yeah, you are," Shikamaru cut in.
"Yeah, I am," Chouji finished with a smile.
Ino laughed as she caught sight of the local Inn, "Gyokuro," she read. "That's a type of green tea, right?"
"Yep," Shikamaru answered.
Ino shrugged, "I think I'll stick to my blooming teas."
"That's because they're sweet like you," Chouji said with childlike grin.
Ino's face brightened, "awww, thanks Chouji."
Shikamaru rolled his eyes. Ino jabbed him in the shoulder. "I saw that."
"Yeah, real sweet," Shikamaru offered sarcastically as he opened the door for his friends. Ino jabbed him again as she passed. They bypassed the check in station and walked to the tavern's side.
"Welcome," greeted an enthusiastic teenager, picking up empty plates and cups. "Sit anywhere and I'll get you some menus."
The three offered their thanks and took a small round table that was empty. Shortly after the same girl arrived and handed out their menus. "Hi, my name is Ninako. For tonight our specialties are nikujaga. On the back side of our menu is a list of all our teas. I suggest our specialty Sencha Jade tea."
"Meat," Chouji said enthusiastically. "I'll take two orders of the special. Shikamaru would like the yakizakana, mackerel, if you have it. Ino would like the… yudofu. Shikamaru and I will have your jade tea and Ino would like some momotaro tea."
"Umm," Ninako muttered as she looked at the other two. Shikamaru quickly eyed the menu and nodded.
"I concur," Ino added.
The waitress stared at the three momentarily. "Okie dokie lokie!" She scribbled some things on her note pad, "I'll be back in a bit with your teas."
About an hour and a half later the trio was done with their meals and just finishing up the third or fourth cup of tea. Shikamaru rested his chin in the cup of his hand, leaning against the table. While Ino had her feet propped up on his lap and leaning against Chouji across the table with his arm wrapped around her.
"Tea makes me so sleepy," I'm willing to fall asleep right here.
"It is getting pretty late," Shikamaru commented. Much to Ino's displeasure Shikamaru pushed her feet to the side and sluggishly stood up. "It's my turn to cover the meal. I'll be back in a bit and we can rent a room."
"Okie dokie lokie," Ino chimed, copying their waitress's confirmation phrase.
"Why are you acting drunk?" Chouji asked teasingly.
Shikamaru ignored Ino's rebuttal as he made his way to the checkout counter. Ninako just finished ringing up a middle aged woman who dined by herself while they were eating. She quickly exited without saying a word.
"Thank you, come back soon," Ninako spouted after her.
Ninako turned to Shikamaru. "Already paid," was all she said.
"The lady who just left opted to pay for you three."
"Really?" He asked surprised. "Who was she?"
She thought for a moment. "I don't know. Don't think I've seen her before and know pretty much everybody in this town."
Shikamaru thought momentarily but then shrugged it off. "Well, I guess that was nice of her. I'll just give you this for the tip then."
"Thanks," Ninako said happily as she put the money in her apron. "Will you guys be staying here for the night as well?"
"I can help you with that too."
Upon opening the door to their small room Ino immediately dropped her pack and fell into the full size bed, snuggling against the pillow. "Claimed."
"I guess we're getting the bunk beds," Chouji said.
"Looks like it," replied Shikamaru smiled as he dropped his pack next to Ino's and walked toward the window, overlooking the town. He pulled back the curtains and looked across the view. It was… quaint, nice and quiet. He looked down into the streets that were lining the inn and saw a shadowy figure standing alone alongside the far buildings. He knew he was imagining things but it felt he or she was looking his way."
"See anything interesting Shikamaru?" Chouji asked as he crawled into the lower bunk.
Shikamaru turned to his friend. "No, not really," he replied and turned back to the window. He looked back down but the person he saw was gone. 'Well that was creepily cliché…' he thought as he closed the curtains and joined his friends.
"That was a nice town, I say if we're ever in the area again to stop by," Chouji said as the three continued their journey back to Fire Country.
"I agree, everyone was so nice," Ino added. "I still can't wait to get home though. These long missions are tough. I'll be happy to get to sleep in my own bed for a change."
"Four more day Ino, and you'll get your wish," Shikamaru replied.
"That's… A long time," Chouji pouted.
The three made good speed as the traveled north as it drew closer to noon and the day grew hotter. They were happy that they reached a wooded area so they could sit in the shade during lunch. Most of the way was filled with idle chatter, primarily from Ino, but for the past five minutes it was very silent.
"Shikamaru…" Ino whispered softly.
They were being followed. They could feel it, they didn't know how strong or exactly where from behind them they were coming, but they were close.
"Be ready…" Shikamaru said, as he quickly calculated some possible outcomes.
Not even half a minute later two exploding kunais were thrown from somewhere from above ahead of the trio.
"Go," Shikamaru shouted as the three jumped back.
The tags exploded, bringing down a few trees across the path. Smoke began to cover the area but Chouji quickly uses his partial expansion technique and spun quickly, dissipating their immediate area of the smoke. Ino made a quick seal and used the mind body switch technique and took control over some small woodland creatures. She fell into Shikamaru's arms who then placed her on the ground.
"Seen anything Chouji?"
"No," replied Chouji as he crossed across the field.
Chouji felt his body freeze mid-step and move back on its own. "What is it?"
"Trip wire," was all Shikamaru said.
Chouji then noticed the small glimmer of light reflecting off the clear tight line. "But we already passed this way."
"Yeah, and there's a pressure plate over there as well. He's setting up traps as at this very moment."
"But how are we not noticing that?"
"Don't know, but keep your eyes sharp. Whoever this is doesn't want an outright confrontation. He's hoping to injure us somehow before making an appearance.
'Where are you,' questioned Ino as she squired up a thin branch and hopped to another tree. 'I don't see anyone. Where could they be hiding.…'
She stopped momentarily and looked down to where Shikamaru, Chouji, and her body were underneath. They were in high alert but nothing seemed to be happening. Looking around she did finally see something odd. It wasn't a person but she did see a falcon somehow tightening a bomb on a large tree branch suspiciously over her friends.
'Do you belong to someone,' she questioned suspiciously.
It wouldn't be the first time someone trained animals to sneak around and do things for them in battle. Ino ran and leapt across the trees to where the falcon was working and casually made her was closer. As she drew closer she saw the falcon's gaze snap to her and in a flash she found herself in the talons of the bird of prey.
Ino shrieked as she shot up, back in her own body.
"Ino," Shikamaru knelt beside her. "Are you okay?"
She looked up to see a squirrel be carried away by the swift falcon. "Yeah, I'm alright. I didn't find who's doing this but I think I found their pet," she said as she pointed to the bird that flew back into one of the dense trees.
"So that's how he's laying these traps without us knowing," Shikamaru said.
"What's the plan?" Chouji asked.
Shikamaru turned with a smirk. "We just keep going."
"That's your brilliant plan. Keep going?"
"He won't attack unless we trip something. So we'll just have to keep your eyes peeled."
Ino shook her head "You need to get your brain checked. This has to be your stupidest plan ever."
"Come on Ino, Shikamaru knows what he's doing," Chouji commented.
A few hours passed as they very slowly made their way across Tea country. Finding and disarming many hidden traps along the way. Some were very well hidden while other's where painfully obvious. The hours of the day were dwindling down and the sun was beginning to set. Chouji's stomach began to grumble.
"We have to stop. This small snacking is not doing it for me. I can't do this for another four days."
"Some complaining Chouji," Ino chided. What choice do we have?"
Chouji slowed to a stop. "Fifteen minutes. That's all I ask. I need to sit and properly eat."
Shikamaru sighed. "Okay, it won't do us any good if we wear ourselves down and be ambushed anyway. Let's take twenty."
Chouji smiled with relief as he opened his bag and began to rummage through it. Shikamaru stood guard as Ino began to do the same.
"Let's sit in the shade; it's still really hot out here." Ino said as she motioned to a shaded clearing underneath a large tree.
"Sounds good to me," Chouji said enthusiastically as he began to sit.
Ino noticed something, "No, Chouji wait!" She shouted, but it was too late.
A small pressure plate was pressed and an explosion shook the area. Smoke rose around them and when it cleared it showed Team Ten incapacitated on the ground. A few moments passed before a womanly figure appeared next to Chouji. She pressed on his sides a few times with her foot and when got no response began to make her way to Ino. About mid way through she stopped dead in her tracks and cursed under her breath.
"Gotchya," came Shikamaru, as he sat up from his place.
Ino and Chouji both sat up with smiles on their faces and stood to face their pursuer for the day.
"That was easier than I thought it would be," said Ino as she flipped her hair.
A sly smile came across the older woman's face as she eyed them with her dark brown eyes. She wore a weathered brown cloak with the hood over most of her head, but a tuft of chestnut hair could be seen over her shoulders.
"I should have seen that one coming. How did the explosion not take you out?"
"We knew that trap was there," Shikamaru began "We lined Chouji's pockets with duds. I held the trap tight when he sat down and 'set' it off. The fake explosion hurt but it was mostly show."
The woman let out a bitter laugh, "You Nara men… Always such teases."
Shikamaru eyed her suspiciously. "Alright, you know who I am. But who are you?"
"Someone who knows your family's technique very well."
"Right," Chouji said as he reached toward the woman to hold her in his grip but before he was able to fully do so she disappeared in a puff of smoke, followed by a flash of light that separated her shadow from Shikamaru's .
"How the hell?" Shikamaru questioned as he covered his eyes with his arm.
He glanced up and saw the falcon seen earlier loop backwards and quickly advancing Chouji. With another puff of smoke turned back into the woman and was now hurtling toward Chouji's backside with her leg extended. She kicked Chouji square in the back and when she pulled away was a paper explosive. It exploded, sending Chouji to the ground.
"Chouji!" Shouted Ino as she rushed to her friend's side. The back of his armor was shredded and he was bleeding profusely. Looking back she saw Shikamaru and the woman doing mid range combat. She was very cautious to keep her distance. Quickly she pressed her hands over his wounds and began to heal him.
"Don't- don't worry about me," Chouji began. "Help Shikamaru."
"I'll be fine."
Ino nodded and rushed to Shikamaru's side.
"Chouji?" Shikamaru asked.
"He'll be fine."
Their opponent transformed back into her falcon state and darted into the trees.
"Shit, she's hard to find this way."
"At least we know what we're looking for," Ino reassured, but as soon as those words left her mouth a large mountain lion burst from the bushes and pounced on Ino's side. She let out a scream of terror as she fell to the ground.
The lion quickly tour into her shoulder but Ino quickly retaliated by digging her kunai into the beast's side. The lion snarled and leapt off. It froze the moment it dismounted and looked down to see a glowing chakra blade in its shadow. Another puff of smoke and the lion was now a rhino, knocking over the chakra blade out of place. Shikamaru stepped back as he quickly formulated a plan. With one last puff of smoke she transformed back into her human form and pulled out the kunai embedded in her side. She reached over and pulled Ino up by her hair before she could react. Shikamaru stepped down the moment she placed the bloodied kunai to Ino's neck.
"Okay, you win. Let her go," Shikamaru asked through hate filled eyes.
"Drop all your weapons. Everything." The woman quickly glanced back to make sure Chouji was where he had fallen and turned back to Shikamaru. He dropped his pouch and began to unfasten all of his blades tied to his legs and hidden in his vest. She then reached into her pocket and pulled out a vial of clear liquid and tossed it to Shikamaru, which he easily caught.
"Drink it," she ordered.
"Shikamaru don't," Ino warned.
"Shut up," she said squeezing Ino's wound, making her moan in pain. She looked at Shikamaru. "Now, drink it. It won't hurt you. It'll just make you a bit more… compliant." She watched him as he eyed the liquid suspiciously. "If I wanted to kill you I would have done so already, believe me."
Shikamaru sighed and pulled the top of the vial and drank the liquid. "There, I drank it. Are you happy?"
"Exquisite," she stated as she pulled Ino's arms behind her back and cuffed her.
"You really think these will hold me?"
"They'll hold long enough," she said as she shoved Ino to the ground.
Ino got to a sitting position and watched Shikamaru as he looked at his hands. "Shikamaru? Are you alright."
Shikamaru looked at Ino and tilted his head. "… Yeah. Just feel a little… tingly."
Shikamaru wobbled a bit but manage to stay standing. "Yeah… tingly." He moved his hands up and down. "OoooOoooOooo."
"Oh, kami. You're so drugged."
"Okay," the woman interrupted. "Shikamaru's coming with me. Have fun following us because you'll fail."
"What do you want?" Ino asked. "What are you gaining from all this."
She pointed in Shikamaru's direction who had finally passed out. "Him."
"But why?" Ino couldn't help the tears that were forming in her eyes.
A bitter smile formed on the woman's mouth as she leaned forward. "To ruin his life, like he ruined mine."
"Bu-"The clocked woman grabbed Ino's throat and pressed down until she lost consciousness then let her fall to the ground.