Categories > Anime/Manga > Naruto > Stumbling Blind

Momma's Gift

by Virgo 0 reviews

Because he's already whipped.

Category: Naruto - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama - Characters:  Ino, Shikamaru - Warnings: [!!] - Published: 2005-05-08 - Updated: 2005-05-08 - 3345 words

Stumbling Blind
5. Mama's Gift

bgm- "I Turn to You", All-4-One

One more week. The thought brought a scowl to his face- one that was becoming far too regular an occurrence in his teammates' opinions. But who could blame him? If they knew him, that was. Exams were for people that were motivated, people that wanted to make something of themselves, people that wanted to get ahead in this field. They were for people like Ino and the only reason either Shikamaru or Chouji agreed to do this was to keep the girl from burning their ears about their 'laziness'.

It's not about being lazy, Shikamaru thought to himself. It's about giving a damn.

So, as he was wont to do whenever he was thoroughly annoyed by anything, he took a walk. The first place he went to think and growl to himself- when he was too restless to lounge on his porch -was the bridge over the stream. It was still a few hours before midday at the beginning of the week. His team had managed to complete their mission early, giving him the chance to wander while the crowds were still working. The perfect time to just stare out at the water for an hour or so.

As he was passing the bend that curved towards the bridge, though, he came to an abrupt stop. Doing a double take, he leaned forward and squinted his eyes, just to make sure. "Is that Ino?" He murmured aloud. "Hey, Ino! Ino!" The girl- standing waist deep in the stream of all places -didn't appear to hear him. "Stupid girl. Ino! Stop that, get out of there!"

When she still made no sign of noticing him, he scowled even more and waded out after her, cursing as the cool water caused his shorts to cling to his legs, making it feel even colder. His sour mood increased three-fold, he grabbed her arm and bodily dragged her back to shore. "C'mon, Ino. Don't be so stubborn." Belatedly he realized how cold her skin was under his hand and, with merely one dark thought, slipped his jacket from his shoulders and draped it over hers.

She's soaked through! Worry tinged his thoughts. What the hell was she doing? Aloud he said, "Ino, are you.." He looked down and noticed something. "Are you.." Peering into her down turned face, his ire sank to a rough oblivion. "Are you crying? Ino, what happened?"

Her voice hiccuped around her quiet sobs. "L-Locket.. Mama's locket.."

Shikamaru was just as confused as before. "What? What locket?"

Ino put a hand weakly to her brow, half falling to her knees before Shikamaru caught her elbow, lowering her cautiously to the ground. "Mama's locket.. I gave it to Sakura and she-she.."

The scene replayed in her mind, no more than an hour earlier. How she had gone out to do some last minute practicing. How she ran into Sakura. And how everything went down hill from there.

"What are you talking about?" Ino had snootily asked the other girl, arms crossed.

"I said," Sakura repeated, "that I can't hold this anymore." She reached into her pocket, bringing out a small, floral shaped locket on a thin golden chain. "I kept it because it meant so much to you." She explained. "But now, for me to have it is pointless."

Ino felt an unexplainable stir of anger growing inside of her. "What do you know about anything?"

"You gave it to me because I was important to you." Sakura bowed her head slightly, green eyes tinged at the edges with guilt. "Back then, you said that's what your family did with this locket. Back then, we were vital to each other." Her words were losing conviction as Ino stiffly approached her. "But I can't wear it. I'm no longer-"

To her surprise, Ino had lashed out, smacking Sakura's hand. The stream plunked greedily at the shinning object. "Who're you to decide who I think is-" Then, the results of her actions stung at her mind. With a choked cry, Ino fought against the semi-stagnant water, splashing noisily, trying to find her lost treasure.

On the shore, Sakura stood there, uncertain and regretful.

At least, that's what Shikamaru gathered between the sobbing. Feeling somewhat awkward (dealing with crying- no matter from who -was never his strong point) he said the first thing that came to mind: "So you're getting yourself sick because you stupidly lost some dumb jewelry in the water." Foot, meet mouth.

"It's not dumb!" Ino launched herself at him with more energy than he had expected, with limbs too weary and cold to do any damage. "It's special, it's Mama's!" Her voice degenerated into sobs once again. "She told me- told me to give it to the one most important to me..!" Ino's voice broke on the last few syllables and she cried into her hands. Shikamaru moved his jacket more securely over her shoulders, slowly guiding her away.

"C'mon, Ino." He said gently. "I'll take you home."

Oh God. Now that he thought about it, what was he supposed to say to her mother? He knew Ino wouldn't say a thing to her, so that left that honor to him. He could see it now: "Yes, ma'am. Found her standing in the stream in hopes of catching pneumonia. Oh yeah, and apparently she lost something important that belonged to you. By the way, that's a very nice window display you've got today."

That definitely wasn't going to fly.

By the time they made it to the flower shop, Shikamaru still hadn't come up with a decent answer to the questions he knew were coming. But, they had come to the open doors, Ino no longer crying or shivering, and he prepared himself for the worst. The worst always seemed to like him for some reason or other.

A fact made obvious when they walked in and her mother was helping a customer. With three or four others inside as well. The woman felt the entrance of two more people and looked up, bright smile on her face. "Welcome to-INO!" The blonde girl shrunk even more miserably into Shikamaru's jacket, sniffling into the plastered hair against her face. "Ino, sweetie, what happened!?" Her mother frantically took her into her arms, blubbering about how wet and frozen she was. Finally, remember that she should know the situation before she went full out mother hen, she held Ino out by the shoulders. "Honey, what happened to you?"

"I don't want to talk about it." She said quietly.


"Leave me alone!" She cried, pulling out of her mother's grip and running up the stairs in the back. Shikamaru heard her sobbing just before her footsteps overpowered them. The woman got up, then remembered her customers and was suddenly torn. Fluttering slightly, she gripped Shikamaru's shoulders.

"Shikamaru-kun. Can you look after her a little while longer? I'll be up as soon as I can." He barely got a nod in before she went to hastily take care of the consumers. A couple of them were moving off to leave, promising to be back later that day and hoping everything would be all right.

With a sigh reminiscent of a man facing that noose, Shikamaru made the trek up the steps. Stopping outside the door to Ino's bedroom, he knocked just loud enough to be heard.

"Ino." He said, voice soft. "Ino, c'mon."

"Go away." Came the pitiful reply.

He sighed again. "Ino, it's not that bad."

"What do you know?" She accused. "That locket was important!" There was the sound of sobbing again. It wrenched Shikamaru's heart in ways that made him uncomfortable. "I'm so stupid. How could I have done that?"

"It was an accident." He didn't know why it was suddenly so important to keep her from crying, but he felt it deep inside. He couldn't leave Ino a wreck. Not like this, not Ino. "It's okay. Your mom will understand."

"That locket is an heirloom." Her muffled voice sounded closer. Good, he thought. If she's moved by the door at least she's willing to talk. "It's been in my family since we were officially initiated as a clan." In a quieter voice, he heard her berating herself. "I'm such a fool.."

"Ino-" he felt a hand on his shoulder. Ino's mother stood behind him.

"Shikamaru-kun." She said quietly. "What happened?"

Scratching the back of his head the boy said, "I don't really know. Apparently Ino gave Sakura a locket a while ago and when Sakura tried to give it back Ino accidentally threw it in the creek."

The woman's face crumpled in disbelief. "The locket? The one I gave her?"

"Yeah, the heirloom one." He moved out of the way as she pressed against the door.

"Ino, honey." She said softly. "Sweetie, I'm not upset. It's okay if you lost it. Please, come out. I don't want you getting sick."

"I'm sorry, Mama.." Ino's voice broke into sobs once more. "I'm so, so sorry."

With her ear pressed against the door for a moment, both she and Shikamaru knew Ino wouldn't listen to them now. "Honey, please don't be upset. I'm going to close up the shop so I'll be back up in a few minutes and we can talk then, okay? It may not be much comfort now, but I'm not mad at you. So please don't be mad at yourself, all right?" When no answer was forthcoming, she shook her head, escorting Shikamaru to the top of the steps.

There she turned to him. "Thank you so much for brining Ino here, Shikamaru-kun."

"It's no problem." He hated taking compliments. He never knew what to do with them.

"You don't know how happy I was when I heard you and Ino were on the same team, Shikamaru-kun." He looked at the older woman, somewhat surprised. "Ever since she and Sakura-chan got into that fight...." she sighed, "you're one of her closest friends. You and Chouji-kun are always looking out for here. You've helped her out so much, you don't even know."

Shikamaru looked down, not certain how to respond. Finally, he said:

"She's my teammate. I'd do anything I could for her."


When he met Chouji for lunch, that morning was all he could thing about. His preoccupation immediately caught the other boy's attention, as if Shikamaru's lack of jacket wasn't a dead give away that something was up. And after the situation was explained to him, Chouji couldn't help but be preoccupied with it himself.

"Hm.." He slurped around his noodles. "I can see how that would suck."

"Feh. And somehow I'm the one that feels guilty about this and I don't even know why." Shikamaru hadn't felt the need to eat much and had already finished his kid's serving, fists sandwiching his cheeks between them.

"It's not like you could help." Chouji agreed. "Not like you could go and find it for her."

"One necklace in that thing? Yeah right. That's impossible. If it wasn't, I wouldn't have told her to forget about it."

"You would've just left her looking for the thing?"

Though Chouji knew that Shikamaru wouldn't, the insinuation was still in his voice. "Of course not!" The other replied, aghast that such a thing would even be considered. "I wouldn't have let her stay in that freezing water!"

"Then what would be the point in not telling her to forget it?"

Shikamaru frowned, grasping his cool glass. Normally he would scowl, being forced to play Chouji's word games. He knew the round boy was playing with him, thinking that he had some deep feelings for Ino. But it was an excursion in futility.

That's what he kept telling himself, anyway.

"She's our teammate." Chouji said thoughtfully. "And because of that, we'd do anything for her."

He was pressing at something, but Shikamaru wasn't sure what it was. "So then I should be out there right now, is that it? Looking for the thing?"

The other shrugged. "It's impossible, isn't it." Shikamaru didn't say anything. Chouji lifted his bowl to his lips, intent on draining the rest of his food. "But knowing Ino, she won't give up. She'll probably be out there tomorrow, looking for it again."

As the blonde slurped noisily, Shikamaru turned away, gaze settling on the horizon. And on the bend that he knew was on the other side.

He hated decisions.


It was late, it was dark and he was cold. He didn't like that combination at all. And on top of all that, some how, it felt as if he hadn't resolved anything.

Was it really this locket thing that had Ino so broken up? Or was it the thought the person she thought was important to her no longer wanted to be that vital part of her life?

When he came into the house, his father was racked out on the ragged cushions in the front room, still in his uniform. Must've come back from a long mission, Shikamaru thought, somewhat bitter. He quietly went the steps, bypassing the creakier planks. However, no more than five steps up there came a low rumble:

"You're out late, boy."

He paused. "....I was out thinking."

"Oh?" His father smiled, not wholly unkind. "Don't catch cold. You have exams coming up."

Shikamaru scowled in the dark. "Right."


The next morning wasn't as brisk as the one before, but the water would still be cold. But it didn't matter. Ino had lost something, something very important. And she wouldn't let something as trivial as chilly water stop her from getting it back. Determination was something she didn't lack in the slightest.

"I'll find it, Mama." She said to herself. "Don't worry." She found herself, for the umpteenth time that morning, gripping Shikamaru's jacket. It was comfortable, made of a nice material and, she had found, was warmer than one would initially think. But, regardless, it wasn't hers and as she stepped toward the river, she folded it gently and set it on the ground.

As she toed off her sandals, though, a voice caught her attention.

"Oi, Ino! Catch!"

On reflex alone, Ino's hand shot out in response, snagging whatever it was in mid-flight, before she had a chance to even see it. However, she knew the weight in her palm, the corners that were rubbed smooth by countless fingers and the small nicks she had memorized long ago. And, just as instantaneously, she recognized who the returnee was.

"Shi-Shikamaru! You found it!" Then she realized the state he was in. "You-"

"Don't worry." His voice held more force than he had meant. But he couldn't help it. He was tired, cold and sopping wet. "It's not like I spent all night in the freezing water."

She was stunned beyond all belief and the only thing that her befuddled mind managed to get out was: "You. Why?"

"If people found out I let you search in the river and get sick, they'll never stop bothering me about it. I would've failed as your teammate, and as a man." He was trying to wring out his shorts as it was the most normal thing to do. And under the circumstance it pretty much was.

But even with the careless way he said it, his sharp look pointedly elsewhere, Ino was touched beyond belief. Never, in all her time, would she have thought someone would go through such trouble for her. "Shikamaru.." In a move that surprised them both, she threw her arms around him in a tight hug. "Thank you! Thank you so very much!"

"H-Hey!" He stuttered. "I'm still wet!"

She pulled back hastily, both from the shock of his cold skin and from the fact that she was hugging him. "You're frozen to the bone!" She rushed to pick his jacket up and wrapped it around his shoulders. Even though he struggled- claiming he could put it on himself -he felt relieved to have something dry against his skin and felt the heat radiating from hers.

So busy was he reveling in the warmth that it took him a moment to realize that Ino hadn't let go of his jacket, hands resting against his chest. Head bowed, he saw her blushing faintly. "I.. I just want to thank you for everything." She shifted, the tightening of her fists bringing him closer by an inch. "For looking out for me. And for finding my locket."

With a near imperceptible frown he asked, "What's so special about it?"

"We've had it for generations, given to the oldest child to be given to the person most important to them." She sniffled slightly at the memories, but continued. "Sakura was my best friend. She was, really, my only true friend. She tried to give me my locket back before, but I wouldn't let her. Because, even if we became rivals, she's still important to me."

"Then why did she try to give it back again."

Ino smiled bitterly. "One thing I hate about Sakura: She always has to be right.." This came as a low murmur. Not that Shikamaru had any idea what she meant, anyway. Then, to his surprise, Ino stepped back. And her locket had somehow managed to get around his neck. "Perfect." She said simply.

Shikamaru wasn't sure what to say. "But.."

"Ah!" The tip of her finger tapped his nose, breaking his train of thought. "Don't say a word. It's my locket, I decide what I want done with it. And since I obviously can't keep track of it," she tapped him again, this time on his chest above the locket, "I'm giving it to you for safe keeping."

His mind, treacherous as it was, went through all the implications his possession of the trinket could mean. He tried to hide his blush by running his arms through his jacket sleeves. As he struggled to get his second thawing arm through the hole, Ino grabbed his other hand. Tsking at its lack of heat, she gently rubbed her hands over the tips of his fingers. His blush deepened- which she somehow didn't seem to notice -and tried to tug his hand away, but her grip only tightened.

"C'mon." She said with a wide smile. "I'll take you home so you can change and I'll treat you. Anything you want, it's okay."

"You-You don't have to." He stammered. He chalked it up to the fact that he was shivering.

"No, I want to." She looked him dead in the eyes. "You don't understand how much this means to me." She smiled widely at him. "And you know how I feel about owing people, anyway. So, c'mon!" She pulled him along, laughing as he spluttered. Shikamaru barely had time to tuck the locket safely under his shirt before Ino took off running with him close behind.



Hn, finished in just under a 12 hour span. Including the 5 hours I had of sleep :P

This was originally a script I had made for a very short, very cheesy ShikaIno doujin. But, seeing as my scanner was broken, I don't really have to time to draw it out and as I had decided to do a series, I figured I'd stick this in here and change some things around. So, a bit of fluff, a bit of their relationship developing, a bit of subtly growing romance, blah blah blah. Hope that made you feel gooey inside. If not, good. Because gooey is an odd feeling to have. And yes, I get random after spending hours with friends (a majority of who were decently drunk) and a week of little sleep with the pressure of projects baring down on me. So I hope you liked it.

I've almost finished my Christmas project, so hopefully I'll be getting more ficcies up. eyeballs the other series she has to write for Er.. sometime in the near future, anyway..

And thanks again to people that are reviewing. Especially those that put up little comments and suggestions, too. You guys are really helpful^^
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