Categories > Anime/Manga > Naruto

Ten Reasons Insanity Tastes Better

by Novocaine 6 reviews

Wherein people don't go crazy even though they want to. Because they want to. Whatever.

Category: Naruto - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Angst - Characters: Shikamaru - Warnings: [V] - Published: 2008-02-14 - Updated: 2009-10-26 - 2396 words - Complete




1) wind-dizzy

There is a gasp and a horrible sound like a dropped watermelon, and Ino doesn't look back at him as she slumps, the Cloud-nin's glowing fist - meant for him, and he had a plan, dammit - still sticking through her gut obscenely. Shikamaru slits the surprised ninja's throat without strategy or fanfare, and when he falls to his knees beside his teammate, he is wind-dizzy and calm and smart enough to know that this is not his fault. He is human enough to know that knowing doesn't help anything. He is desperate enough to hope this is a dream.

Her eyes are squeezed closed, but there is a furrow between her brows and rage in every line of her splayed limbs, and he knows that she is/was/will forever be more furious (with herself, with the nin, with him - with death and chance and reflex and any deity out there) than he has ever seen her.

2) exhaust

Shikamaru doesn't sleep for three days. He sits in the hospital waiting room for the first eighteen hours - Kami, he hates this place more than he has ever felt anything in his life - and stares at his useless hands. He replays the skirmish over and over again, and he doesn't speak to anyone, not Chouji and not his father and not Inoichi and not even Sakura, who is frantic and has been banned from the surgery. Her eyes are red and circled, and guilt is a familiar friend. He can't bring himself to even think the word 'troublesome', and his brain has rebelled, running through the scenario again and again and throwing up his last glimpse of Ino's pale face - so furious and surprised and resigned. He waits for it to exhaust itself - he won't dare sleep until it does.

It takes a long time, and he has never been so relieved in his life when he finally passes out.

3) road

There is no road to recovery. Tsunade tries her best, but it was too late and Ino slips away without waking up, and a woman has lost her lover and two men have lost their sister. A father - a mother - a friend - have all lost, and Shikamaru can't stand to look at the coffin and the terrible picture of Ino on top of it. She would have thrown a fit. Shikamaru can hear her indignant screeches, and the speakers can't drown it out. Neither can her mother's sobs.

He can't look at her name on the memorial stone, either. He looks at the clouds instead.

4) dance

The worst thing about tragedy is having to live with it.

There is silence between the two men as Shikamaru lights up. They are sitting in front of the memorial stone, but Shikamaru steadfastly does not look and Chouji does not break the silence with the crackle of chips. He has lost weight, and Shikamaru can't stop the thought (He loses weight as soon as Ino can't nag him about it) from flitting through his mind. He feels the beat of the sun on his skin and thinks, 'Two down, two to go.' The smoke dances and twirls out of his mouth as he slowly exhales, and he watches the wisps dissipate into the sky. He likes making his own clouds.

5) soldier

They are all ninja. Ninja do not break and they do not cry and they do not wake up from midday naps gasping for breath. What Shikamaru does is join ANBU. He smokes more heavily. He awakes in darkness and slips from his flat soundlessly to go on that necessary A-class mission. "Troublesome" slips from its high place in his vocabulary in the absence of a loud, proud woman to berate him for it, and he stays in the darkness where sunny-haired, blue-eyed, weak kunoichi will never come.

He knows it's irrational. He knows why he does it. He knows he is letting this change him. He doesn't care.

6) insanity tastes better

He knows Hatake Kakashi only distantly. Statistics: former jounin instructor of Uzumaki Naruto, Uchiha Sasuke, and Haruno Sakura. Former student of Yondaime Namikaze Minato. Gained Sharingan eye during disastrous mission which resulted in the death of teammate Uchiha Obito. Has dispatched roughly 28,307 men, women, and children since induction to the shinobi ranks at age five. Made chuunin at six and jounin at thirteen. Oldest member of ANBU, holding the record of relative sanity at nine years.

He watches the Copy-nin lazily, knowing Kakashi notices. Kakashi asks eventually and gets the answer of "Taking notes." When Shikamaru asks a question in return, and all Kakashi says is, "Insanity tastes better." (and i don't deserve that better.)

ANBU always get the most horrific missions.

7) ten ways to die

He is a ninja of the Nara clan and he was born in shadows. He kills. He kills so easily, with a twist of a shadow to break someone's neck - with a kunai to the jugular. He can stab himself in the lungs with a retractable kunai and watch as his enemy drowns in his own blood. He can drop a noose of shadows over someone's neck in the darkness and listen to the choking sounds of the target kicking his life away. He has suffocated two little girls in their sleep, mercifully holding their teddy bears over their mouths, never letting them wake up and screamscreamscream at the mangled corpses of their parents. He has held an entire village of peasants still as ANBU Cat slit their throats for him. He has killed a prostitute with an unfortunately large mouth during an undercover mission, under orders to do it while fucking her (and he never tells the vengeful, satisfied client, but he makes sure she has multiple orgasms, and he kills her kindly with a painless prick of poison in her bloodstream sometime during her third climax. Women are troublesome and she was a whore, but she was a sweet girl - he doesn't think: not like Ino - and her eyes were blue and old and half-broken, very much like a shinobi). He has slowly obliterated every bone in a Sound-nin's body until the ninja - and ANBU Captain Nara doesn't let himself think that this Sound-nin is only fourteen years old, terrified and tortured and about to die - suffocated under the weight of his own carefully crushed ribs. He has ripped a faceless kunoichi's head off with a wire. He has trapped a gang of bandits in a warehouse and set it on fire, and their screams have never been the sugar soundtrack to the nightmares he doesn't have.

He has done these things because he was told to. He is what all ninja are: a murderer for hire. He is not a healer - not a medic. He doesn't know how to give life. He thinks once, during a mission to assassinate the young son of a Snow daimyo, that he doesn't even remember how to live.

It's a sign of how far he has gone that the thought doesn't really bother him.

8) a game without rules

He doesn't play shogi anymore. The control and strategy crucial to the game taunt him with you-couldn't-keep-her-alive, and he doesn't really have the time anyway - there are so many missions, so many deaths to tally up tritely on his soul. He is lazy, and this is why he doesn't break quietly and resign from ANBU: he knows how to kill. It is simple, effortless, something he can almost sleep through doing most of the time. Best of all, ANBU have masks. He never cares to find out who he is doing missions with, and when ANBU Rat has every drop of blood ripped out of his body by a target with a bloodline, he doesn't mourn before taking the opening, capturing the nin in an advanced shadow jutsu, and slitting the man's throat. He doesn't know who Rat was. He is tired enough most of the time that he can easily block out any of his comrades' telling habits, and the sneaking suspicion that Rat had been one of his students during his time at the Academy - Genji Watanabe, the one with a quiet smile and viciously sneaky taijutsu; Shikamaru had almost liked him - is softly killed and left to rot in the cabinet of thoughts he never opens (the one that contains her, and Sakura never could look him in the eye after - Stop. Close the door and turn away).

He stays with ANBU because he doesn't need to care. He can sleep with his shadows and ignore life. He always has preferred shogi - life is a game without rules, and he doesn't care to play.

9) the sound of you walking away

His shadows are quiet. His life is quiet. He never sees his harridan mother anymore -

it is fourteen months ago and she doesn't look up when he enters the house - she knows his chakra, and she simply continues washing the dishes. her hands are sad and empty when the small job is finished. it is too small now, and she misses her son. he is silent in a different way than he was when he was a child, even from when he was a chuunin. she turns to catch his gaze, but he is cloaked in his shadows and wearing that damnable mask. (sorry, mom. I won't make it for dinner on friday.) (why - ) she begins, but shikamaru is gone, his shadows with him. the house is silent in that different way which she truly hates, and she doesn't allow her face to crumple. she turns back to her sparkling dishes with blank eyes and very badly wants a mission -

and meeting up with his old best friend has become rare because Chouji has moved on to teaching genin how to survive.

it is six months ago at the old barbecue restaurant, and chouji's eyes say everything to shikamaru as he mentions one of his genin. shikamaru knows without being told that she is sunny-haired and blue-eyed and weak and chouji is going to change the pattern.

His father hasn't forgiven him for breaking both Ino-Shika-Chos in one fell swoop. It is spring now (he doesn't know the date - he has just come in from a very important S-class mission that lasted - he doesn't know. The large organization of missing nin trying to start its own village is decimated, he personally killed at least two hundred of its members, and the rest of his squad are already at the hospital) and Shikamaru runs into Shikaku outside the Rokudaime's office as he goes to report. He very pointedly allows his father to see him. Shikaku continues on his lazy way past the secretary, pretending not to notice his son, but Shikamaru doesn't really feel the pain anymore. Doesn't really feel anything anymore, and he notices as he steps silently into the Hokage's office that his beyond-saturated uniform is dripping a trail of blood.

It isn't his. He doesn't care, and he is long past the point where the lie has turned into truth.

10) chocolate kisses

He is stretched out on a sturdy tree branch. He has been dozing on and off, but he has his orders to keep an eye out for any suspicious characters (code for: you've been taking way too many missions. Go sit in the sun before you break and we can't use you anymore) and that is why he notices the two kids when they come to a stop in front of his tree. They can't be more than nine, and he can tell by their kunai-scarred little hands that they are Academy students. The boy is out of breath, and the blond girl has started yelling at him. The obvious reason is the chocolate covering the boy's mouth, and Shikamaru gathers that it belonged to the girl before the kid nicked it. The girl is a talented shrew, and she is red-faced and cowing the boy into seeming submission only to be cut off by what Shikamaru surmises is a very chocolaty kiss. She goes even more red and stutters, and the boy, having caught his breath, runs off with a wink. She breaks out of her shock and begins chasing him again, indignant yells and victorious cackles fading as they move quickly out of range.

Shikamaru stares up at the glimpse of blue sky he can see through the branches of his tree and vanishes without a sound moments later.

When he was a child, he used to think about the future constantly. He realizes as he asks the nameless chuunin at the desk for a mission that this is the future, masks and missions and nin-sandals that squelch with blood as he walks and a father who won't speak to him and a mother he can't look in the eye and a best friend who is desperately trying to change the past every time he trains his students.

This - now - is the future.

He decides he doesn't like it very much.






A/N: Happy Valentine's Day! I meant to start a request, but it mutated into something not even close to what was asked for. So... Here you are. I'm in an insanely good mood. I originally thought I would post this in two chapters, but I changed my mind. Decided the overall effect might not be as total - was I right?

And looking up foreign words for titles is getting old. Foreign titles and their competitions are probably going to go on my Endangered Idea list. Maybe. The requests are fun, but thinking up English titles is more fun. I can make them vague and confusing. Well, not really with this one, but that's because I wanted to get the format across right away.

So if you have a story you'd like to request, just tell me about it. I make no promises on time, but the more requests I have, the more chances there are that I'll be inspired and go on a writing frenzy. Everyone wins. Remember, good requests mean good stories. Don't give me one just to give me one. You can just give me a character and watch me run. ^-^
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