Before the Chuunin finals Shikamaru thinks about something that bothers him.
Warnings: Drabble. Spoilerish for around the chuunin exams. Yes, I know it's over with but some people still aren't that far in the series.
Notes: Bah, I know Chouji doesn't get out of the hospital till later. Ignore that. And for the end when you might think, "But no, nothing happened the third time," I say, "Ah, but it nearly did, didn't it?"
Third Time's the Charm
Shikamaru was up far earlier than he liked to be. If he'd had any say in the matter he'd still be at home in his bed, but his mother wouldn't hear of it. The sun hadn't even been up and she'd been yelling at him to finish his breakfast.
He yawned and stretched out on the bench. She'd been so demanding he'd had to leave the house and come out to his favorite place. The final matches weren't due to start for another five hours. He had plenty of time to watch the clouds.
A light gray cloud passed overhead. He hoped it wasn't a forerunner for a storm. It would be too much work to have to fight in the rain. Especially with some of his opponents. He'd need to be able to dodge quickly and mud would only slow him down.
Or he could just forfeit his first match. It was that or fight an extra match, and why was he the only one that had that? Completely unfair. Naruto should've gotten it instead. He always had energy to burn off and would've loved having an extra opponent.
Anyone besides him. Even that Gaara guy. Shikamaru frowned. He wondered if all Sand nin were as messed up as that guy was. Most likely, if what he'd said the day before were true, he was just the exception.
If what he said was true.
Shikamaru couldn't bring himself to believe it. Oh, the sealing of a demon in a human was theoretically possible; it just came with a high price. He had no trouble believing that at all. He also had no trouble believing that someone would be willing to pay that price to make a sort of living weapon. He had no trouble believing any of that.
What he had trouble believing was that there was a man who could do that to his own family.
That a man existed who could calmly sacrifice his own wife to birth his own child and treat it as a tool. That he could order the murder of that child when it became apparent the powers of the demon would not be controlled.
He couldn't believe it. No, he didn't want to believe it.
He believed it.
"Which can really be called a demon?" Shikamaru wondered aloud. "The child for simply living, or the man for destroying the child?"
Lighter clouds blew past overhead. Looked like there would be no storm that day. Shikamaru sighed and muttered, "Good."
Shikamaru hadn't even realized he'd drifted off into sleep until he was being shaken awake.
"What?" Shikamaru asked because it was Chouji, and his friend wouldn't wake him up unless it was something important, but mostly because Chouji looked to be just this side of scared shitless. "What is it?"
"You're alive!" Chouji slowly stopped shaking him and started laughing in relief.
"Yeah," Shikamaru pushed his hands away and sat up to look at him more closely. Chouji had just been released from the hospital, but he was pretty sure the doctors hadn't prescribed him any medications that would explain the odd behavior. "Why wouldn't I be?"
"Geez," Chouji sank down onto the bench. "You really didn't notice, did you?"
Shikamaru sighed and eyed the other boy. If it were anyone else but Chouji he would have either gone back to sleep or told them to quit playing around. Well, he would have already told Chouji to spit it out, but his friend was still laughing and looking around like he expected to be attacked at any minute. "No, all I noticed were the clouds. What happened, Chouji?"
"It was Gaara of the Desert," Chouji pointed at the railing across from the bench. "He was standing right there when I came a few hours ago. He was just standing there looking at you, but you didn't even seem to notice!"
Gaara. Shikamaru swallowed and looked at the railing. A cold shiver running up his spine.
"You just kept watching the clouds, you didn't even look down, and then you just went to sleep," Chouji continued shakily. "Man, I thought he was going to kill you for sure when you did that."
"What," Shikamaru cleared his throat, "what did he do then?"
Chouji shrugged and looked back at him utterly baffled, "He jumped down and walked away."
Walked away. Shikamaru ignored his friend's relieved babble. So far the Sand nin had walked away from him twice. Once under the gaze of Lee's sensei, and another for whatever reason he had of his own. Shikamaru couldn't help but think that the third time they met there would be no walking away.