Categories > Anime/Manga > Naruto > Stumbling Blind

Say... Anything

by Virgo 0 reviews

Getting things out in the open.

Category: Naruto - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama, Humor, Romance - Characters:  Ino, Shikamaru - Warnings: [!!] - Published: 2005-05-08 - Updated: 2005-05-08 - 4409 words

Stumbling Blind
9. Say.... Anything

bgm- "Pain", Joanne Hogg

He had gone to find Ino. Instead, he was bombarded with stares and questions and congratulations. Shikamaru attempted to hide in the collar of his flak jacket- which his father forced him to wear under threat of surgically attaching it to his body. The boy let out a relieved huffed when the Yamanaka store came into view.

Stuffing his fists into his pockets, he ambled inside, trying to look natural.


He barely got a look at Ino's mother before she wrapped him into a hug that nearly had him suffocating on her shoulder.

"Your father told me the moment he got word! Let me get a look at you!" She pushed him an arm's distance away, turning him this way and that. "You look so good! I wish I could've made it to your promotion ceremony. Inoshi said he hasn't seen your father so proud since you were born!" She crushed him into another hug. "We're all so proud of you, Shikamaru-kun."

"Un." He shifted his flak uneasily. "Thanks." He wondered if he sounded as awkward as he thought.

Suddenly, as if remembering that the boy wasn't there to be hugged and cooed over, she pulled back abruptly. "Oh, are you here to see Ino?" Shikamaru nodded. "She's taking care of the plants. You remember where the garden is, don't you?"

He nodded again. "Yeah. Thanks." Uneasily, he gave her a little wave and tried to look as if he wasn't hurrying out of the shop.

The walk to the garden wasn't long. It sat at the eastern side of the village and was fairly secluded in the thick trees yet still in viewing distance of the town. The Yamanaka shop itself was near the outskirts and the trip generally took not even 20 minutes.

He found Ino kneeling among the rows of flowers, carefully arranging any petals that entangled with each other, pulling out the weeds and peeling off any destructive insects. She was humming to herself in her diligence, not noticing anything asides from her beloved flower. The bugs were never a big problem, the trees were filled with birds that dealt with them.

She wore, he was surprised, baggy trousers and t-shirt, well worn and dirty. Red splotched gloves were on her hands and an off-white scarf held back her hair. For a moment, the resemblance between her and her mother were uncanny.

Shikamaru clenched his throat, trying to think of something to say. So, he settled for her name. "Ino."

More than a little startled, she jerked up. "Ah!" She smiled brightly. "Shikamaru! What're you doing here?"

"Um.... Nothing else to do." He was starting to feel foolish.

"So you only come see me when you're bored? You're mean." She stuck her tongue out at him. "Give me a few minutes and we can go somewhere else."

"Here's fine." Ino looked at him in mild surprise.

"Okay...." She sat back on her heels, taking off her gloves and scarf. Her hair fell just above her shoulders and Shikamaru realized he'd never seen her with her hair down before- not short, anyway, and not unless she was trying to be 'sexy', which he never really understood.

"Is there something special you want to talk about?"

"N-Nothing, really." He scowled, trying to hide his embarrassment.

"Yeah, right. C'mon, tell me."

"It's nothing." His mind raced, one part trying to figure out a way to: dammit, just say it already, another screaming at him that this was, in no /way/, the way to tell her. And another part was telling him to leave before he could embarrass himself any further.

"I don't believe you. But," she stretched, the sleeves fell to her pale shoulders- they used to be her father's clothes when he was younger, "it's a nice day and I'm in a good mood. So I'll forgive you this time."

At that point, a strong wind pushed through the clearing, plucking up the loose petals and feathers, swirling them around the garden. It caught Ino off guard and she fell back on her elbows, flowers brushing gently across her glowing cheeks. She laughed into the wind, pulling her soft hair from her face.

And, with her clear blue eyes bright, her eyes caught Shikamaru's.

He thought he felt his heart stop.

She's.... beautiful.

He never thought it and believed it so powerfully before. Say it! His mind cried. Say it!!


Smile still on her lips, the wind died to a gentle breeze. "Hm?"


She sat up, sensing something important.


WAIT! His mind crashed to a halt. What are you /doing/?!

Buh? Said the rest of his head.

You can't tell her! Look at her!


She's in ugly clothes. She's got dirt and sweat all over her. She probably hasn't bathed today, yet.


Do you think she'd let anyone see her like this? Ino's vain! She always has to look her best! The fact that you can see her like this now just means that she doesn't think you're important enough to impress! You have nothing she wants, you don't have any values she likes, what chance do you think you have?

.... Oh.

"Shikamaru?" His eyes focused on Ino, who was looking at him, concerned. "Are you okay?"

"It's.... It's nothing." He turned abruptly. "I just forgot something." He walked off, then stopped. "I'll.... I'll see you later."

"Eh? Oh. ....Okay." The other replied quietly, watching as Shikamaru walked away.


"So you chickened out?"

"I did not 'chicken' out."

"But you didn't tell her."

".....It's not the same thing."

Chouji frowned, an odd effect with chips in his cheeks. "You chickened out."

His friend glared at him. "Shut it."

Shrugging padded shoulders, Chouji held his bag upside down, trying to shake out stray crumbs. "Okay, fine. Of course, if you don't tell her, you'll just be hearing worse from your dad and you know he never stops."

With a grimace, Shikamaru wondered if the world was conspiring against him. Or if it was just his father and best friend.

My move, he thought. And looking at the options opened to him, he didn't have an awful lot to choose from.


Shikamaru didn't know how long he stood outside the flower shop, hands clenched and occasionally drying his palms against his shorts when he had nothing else to do.

I can do this, he thought. It can't be that hard.

After all, the worse she can do is say no.

And laugh in your face and say she never wants to see you again.

Damn, but he really didn't like his head at that moment.

He took a deep breath, then two more just for luck. Putting a palm against the door, he gave it a push.

Ino was behind the counter, looking up at the sound of the bell. The tassels wound about her bun twisted elegantly, matching the deep red of her soft, Mandarin styled shirt, blue eyes and pale skin enhanced by matching powder scarlet eye shadow and lipstick. Vain though she was, she preferred simplicity in her appearance. Which was fine. She had enough natural beauty, she didn't need much of anything to garner attention.

Shikamaru wondered why he never bothered to see it before.

"Ah, you're back." She smiled at him, eyes warm. He lost his nerve. "I knew you couldn't keep away from me for long."

To his horror, Shikamaru felt his cheeks heat up. He kept his head down, frowning and resolutely telling himself he was not /blushing/, dammit!

"Shikamaru? Is something wrong?" She received silence. "Shikamaru."

She rounded the counter and went up to him. The closer she got, the warmer his cheeks felt.

"Are you okay? Your face is so flush!" That only made him blush deeper. "C'mon." Grabbing his hand she took him into the back room. "If you weren't feeling good earlier, you should've said so!" She moved to put the back of her hand against his forehead. "You don't have to make excuses for me-"

In a fit of frustration, he snagged her wrist. "I'm fine!" She doesn't even notice, he thought painfully. She always knew when another guy liked her, so why doesn't she notice me?

Because you're not the type of guy she'd want liking her. She doesn't want that attention from you so she's ignoring it. She wants you to ignore it, too.

That.... That's not fair.... Shikamaru's shoulders slumped. She won't even give me a chance....

He turned. "Sorry for bothering you." His voice seemed hoarse to himself.

"Shikamaru!" She stood indignant. "What's wrong with you?"

".....It's nothing."

"Like hell!" Ino gave into her childish tantrum and stomped a foot. "If you have something to say, then say it!"

"Not everything is as easy as that."

"If it's not then it's because you're making it like that!"

His voice was part cold, part wounded. "If that's the case, then it's just something I have to work out on my own."

Ino frowned. "Why won't you tell me?"

At the pleading note in her voice, Shikamaru felt his insides collapse, wobbling together somewhere in the vicinity of his stomach. ".....Maybe later."

If I have the guts.....

He walked out of the store, heading down towards..... somewhere else. He didn't go more than five steps before he stopped and smacked himself in the head.

Asuma was right. He had just thought himself right out of it. Any time he finally figured he had the courage to tell her, his mind thought him into a U-turn. He was really starting to dislike it.

Or maybe it was just the fact that it was Asuma that had him pinned. And that it was Asuma who was predicting just how he'd act. Maybe it was childish, but Shikamaru really didn't like the idea that his instructor thought he had figured Shikamaru out (first relationships, then what?).

He stood and thought about fidgeting for a moment. Just until he convinced himself to go back into the flower shop, anyway. But fidgeting wasn't something he did and thought it was a stupid thing to think about when he had more pressing matters that demanded his attention. Then he realized that it was that sort of thinking that kept him in the same square for so long.

Fine! He growled to himself. I'll go in and tell her! He did a sharp about-face. And proceed to not move forward. Okay, okay, okay. I am going back into the shop. I will find Ino and I will tell /her/ that I like her.

His feet were not convinced.

"/Move/!" He found himself snapping at them. He didn't even bother to look around to see if anyone was within hearing distance. He didn't have the most sparkling reputation to begin with, a couple people thinking he was crazy most likely wouldn't hurt him any.

They did as he commanded, taking him back into the shop.

And straight into a Yamanaka Ice Glare.

Unlike most other cold looks, the Yamanaka Clan had a different way of going about it. The Uchiha Clan and the Hyuuga Clan, they had patents on several different forms of glacial glares. The Nara family had a look that could stop a full grown and capable ninja cold in their tracks and blank out any thought in their head. Even the Abarame Clan- whose eyes were difficult to see through their sunglasses -gave off a glare like being shot through with a cold laser. The Yamanaka family, though, were known for birthing some fiery tempers- which was logical because their blood technique required the user to have a very strong will. They had a glare that was like a thin sheet of cracking ice and a volcano, roaring just below the surface, ready to blow at any given moment.

Shikamaru didn't think he was ever that frightened of a girl before in his life.

"You." Ino commanded, no room for argument, no regard for the customer she was dealing with. "Upstairs. /Now/." Shikamaru tried to open his mouth, but found his tongue was inexplicably glued to the roof of his mouth. "I'll deal with you in a minute."

That was not the tone of voice you said no to. Not if you wanted to walk straight and not consider permanent placement in a boys' choir.

Trying his damndest not to look like a dog with his tail between his legs, Shikamaru obediently went up the stairs in the back, sat on the steps halfway up and tried not to agonize over his fate.

He had heard from Ino's dad that his own father was whipped in his married life. Shikamaru wondered if this was what it was like.

Pretty soon he heard stomping feet on the abused, wooden planks. Hastily he stood, nearly coming to attention when the blonde stormed up the steps toward him.

"You!" She practically shouted, jabbing a finger painfully in his chest. "You have got some explaining to do!"

Shikamaru blinked. "What?"

"Don't give me that! You have something to say. I know you have something to say. And you won't say it and it's really starting to tick me off!" By this point, Ino was practically standing on Shikamaru's toes. "You are not leaving until you tell me." She growled in his face.

"I can't tell you /now/."

"Why not?"

With a quick sidestep, Shikamaru began moving passed her, waving an annoyed hand over his shoulder. "I'll come back when you're in the right mood for it." He grumbled.

"What mood am I supposed to be in?"

"A not pissed one."

"Every time I'll see you, I'm gonna be so pissed about this I'm never going to be in a not pissed mood!"

He looked over his shoulder at her. "Well that's not my problem. I know what I have to say, you're the one that wants to know."

"God, Shikamaru! You're such a jerk!"

It happened like each scene was taken like a photo, the shutter capturing each moment in its precision clatter.

Ino moved a hand to shove at him in her temper.

Shikamaru turned on the step, scathing remark on his tongue.

The force of her hand on his shoulder pushed his weight onto his back foot, hanging half off the edge of the stair.

She saw him pitch backward, eyes widening in vague surprise.

Before she realized he was falling, Ino had grabbed his arm.

He panicked then, knowing that his weight would drag her down with him.

Shikamaru pushed her against the railing, breaking her grip on him.


"Shikamaru!" He groaned at the bottom of the stairs, sprawled on the bottom three steps. Shikamaru's head and shoulders were angled oddly on the landing as he painfully pushed himself to his elbows. "Shikamaru!" Ino skipped the stairs as she skidded to his side. "Are you-"

"You're not hurt?" It was meant to be an observation, but failed.

"Me?" For a moment it seemed no other thought would come to her. "You're the one that fell down the stairs!"

"Obviously. It's not like I'd let you do something that stupid."

This time, nothing did come to her.

"Ino?" He asked after a length of time. "Are you sure you're okay?"

"You...." She knelt next to him. "You purposefully pushed me away?"

"If you held on to me, you would've fallen, too."

"But...." 'you're always protecting me' didn't come out of her mouth.

"Would you rather fall down the steps? It wasn't fun." He grunted, wincing faintly.

Heavily, Ino sat down beside him, a hand against her forehead. She looked like she was on the verge of crying. "Why do you always have to be so /nice/?"

Shikamaru blinked. Him and nice weren't often in the same sentence. Even less in a positive way. Swiveling on his rear, he rested his back against the wall, stretched out a banged up leg. His ankle was less than a few inches away from Ino's knee.

Neither said anything for a long while.

Finally, steeling his pained nerves, he reached into his shirt and pulled out the locket. Thoughtlessly he rubbed a thumb against a worn side.



"Why did you give this to me?"

Her blue eyes flickered up and rested on the locket for a moment before she looked away again, blushing slightly.

"Why? You don't like it?"

"You said you're supposed to give it to someone important to you."


"My dad told me you give it to the most important person in your life. He told me you give this to," he tried to swallow the heat spreading across the bridge of his nose, "the person you intend to marry."

Her blush darkened and she tried to look like it didn't matter to her. She merely managed to appear haughty. "So what? You don't want to be important?"

"I didn't say that." His fist tightened around it. "I just want to know.... Why didn't you give it to Sasuke?"

Ino lowered her head. "Because.... I knew that I would never get him. He's above everyone else, so untouchable. He's sexy and he's talented and it would be nice to get his attention. If it weren't for the fact that I hang on him, I doubt he'd even know I was alive." She smiled bitterly. "I admire him. I wish I could be so strong and cool. Everyone likes him, though, and I sort of hate it. Sakura thought I loved him and she thought I'd leave her for him. So she left instead. And... I sort of hate him because of it. So I hurt her by being close to him. If I could have him, it would be fun because then everyone would be jealous of me. I'd be the center of attention, just because of him."

Shikamaru's brow furrowed as she spoke, not sure what to make of her words.

"If he ever asked me out, I'd jump at the chance. I'd be so happy. But, I wouldn't know what to do. Sasuke-kun's something like a fantasy, you know? Nice to dream about, but you know it'll never happen. Like white knights and fairytale romances. When it comes down to it, I'd like something honest and real. People that I trust, and a moment of truth so raw it hurts. That's why I gave my locket to you. Because I know you're someone that won't hurt me, you're someone I can trust. And...." she clenched a fist against her thigh, "I don't have to worry about you not coming back to me. Because I know that you will. Just like last time." She smiled up at him, trying to blink back the tears and only succeeded in making them overflow.

"Ino..." He moved forward, reaching out to brush away her tears, then stopped. He dug into his pockets for a kleenex or a handkerchief and cursed when he came up empty. She giggled and wiped her cheeks with the back of her hand.

"It's okay. It's kind of stupid, I guess." Fiddling with her fingers, she said quietly, "I can take back my locket if you don't want it."

"I didn't say that." Shikamaru repeated. "I just.... I just didn't want to be runner-up."

She blinked at him in surprise. "'R-Runner... up'?"

He scowled slightly, trying to find the right words. "Yeah. I didn't want to be some sort of consolation prize, just because you couldn't get Sasuke. If I were supposed to be your most important person, I want to be the most important. I don't want to be 'the most important except for Sasuke'." Shikamaru rubbed the back of his head, looking slightly sheepish. "Did that make any sense?"

"Not.... really." But she laughed. "But I think I kind of get it."

"Good." He gave her a small smile. An uncomfortable silence fell between them as they looked anywhere but at each other. "Um," he tried to keep his voice normal and tried not to wince if it wasn't. He failed at both. "So.... you like me? Even though I'm a lazy bum?"

Ino shrugged vaguely. "You're lazy when you can be. But you're there when it really matters, so...." She blushed, reaching up and twirling a tassel between her slim fingers. "Do you like me? Even though I'm annoying?"

The way he was leaning against the wall was starting to hurt to hurt his back so he shifted. "You're not all that annoying." When she looked up at him, he turned his gaze. "'re really not annoying at all."

Ino blinked. "Really....?" Her response was a shrug, but it caused her to smile. "Thanks."

Again they fidgeted, not really sure what they were supposed to do now.

C'mon, you idiot! Shikamaru's brain prodded itself. She already said she likes you, just say it! were the one that said she could never like me to begin with.

Are you going to let something as inconsequential as the past stop you? Just ask her! After all, you can't go back to how you were before already. Just look at how you're acting around each other, even if it doesn't work out, it won't matter anymore. You're too shy to even look her in the face, now.

.....I am not. But Shikamaru still scowled to himself, because he knew it was true. "O-Oi, Ino." The way she shyly looked up at him, cheeks flushed with an amazingly meek expression he didn't know she had- he couldn't think with her looking like that. "Um," he looked away, "do-do you.... Wannagooutsometime?"

Ino sat up a little straighter. "What?"

Biting the bullet, he repeated, "Do you-"

"You mean.... like a date?"

"Um, yeah. I guess so."

Her face spread into a wide smile. "I'd love to!" It looked as if she were going to clap and giggle happily, or glomp him or bounce or something of the like- until she remembered: "Oh! I still have work- AH! No one's been in the shop!" She jolted to her feet and almost ran off but remembered herself and turned around. "I'm sorry, Shikamaru. Maybe tomorrow or-or," she stuttered and blushed.

"Tonight?" He hazard. She nodded and looked at him, somewhat hopeful. "O- Okay. I guess I can do dinner."

"I can meet you at your house after I close up." Ino reached down to pull him to his feet. "I'm sorry, but I really didn't mean to take so long and- "

"Ino." He cut her off, squeezing her hands gently. "It's okay, I know."

After a pause, she let out a little breath, returning the soft pressure. "Okay...." She was reluctant to let him go, to even move from under his eyes. They were really pretty, she thought, a deep almond color, just short of black. She wondered why she only noticed them now. "I-I'll see you tonight, then." Almost painfully she pulled her hands from his and took a couple steps back on weak legs.

"Un." He gave her a soft smile and she couldn't help blushing deeper. He really does look good, she thought, even without the flak.

Ino couldn't help the bright smile that stayed with her for the rest of the day.



If you think this is the end, you are so wrong. grins And I'm sure you're happy with that.

Do you know how many different ways I tried to think of to get one/both of them to admit they liked each other? Pretty much any way you could think of, but it all seemed so trite to me! I needed something different, something new, something that wasn't just your average 'confession' scene. So I hope this turned out right^^

This is the sort of humor I write. If you see a comedy from me, don't expect slapstick, dirty jokes or dumb airheads. Unless the occasion calls for it. No, the comedies you get from me is wit, the most random string of words to be put in one sentence, the most random things to create a sentence /of/. And in case you haven't noticed, I had a lot of fun writing the pissed!Ino parts^^ I'd feel bad for Shikamaru, but he's pretty properly whipped already, so I don't think he really has much to worry about XD

While I do agree that I think part of the reason Ino chases after Sasuke so shamelessly is because she wants to get back at Sakura- make her mad and make her hurt, just like Ino did when Sakura no longer wanted to be her friend, that seems to be pretty much her only excuse in every ShikaIno fic I've seen. And, while I do agree with it, I don't think it's the only reason. And I didn't want to look like I was copying everyone else. I guess an easier way to understand what Ino means, think of it like a crush on some superstar actor or singer. Sure, you think he's hot, you'd be more than happy to go out on a date with him but you really don't know him and you have no idea what you'd do with him. Besides, even if a big name celebrity that you didn't like asked you out, you'd probably say yes, just because you'd be getting a shit load of attention and be the jealousy of countless people.

So, between those two reason, I think, is why Ino chases Sasuke. She knows he's a lost cause to her and just about everyone else coughexceptNarutocough, but sometimes that chase is just fun. A smart girl like her knows the difference between a dream and reality (i'd like to think).
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