The Suna Chronicle: Chapter 2

by Juturne

Shikamaru marched proudly back home. He carried the sealed letter he would deliver to Baki like a trophy.

It had not taken much to convince Tsunade. Despite the young man�s age, she greatly respected his decisions and never hesitated to call on him to work out a strategy in even the most dire of situations. She could easily see that Ino would be a useful partner for the work required.

At first she had been hesitant about losing another chuunin; the village was already a bit strapped for strong shinobi in case of attack. Then, Ino wasn�t really adapted to frontline fighting. Plus, Suna would take the initiative as a true sign of friendship. Konoha lending out two of its best would send a powerful message. Furthermore, there was the whole ambassador aspect of the mission. The work would require attending formal ceremonies and celebrations, socializing and mingling. Whereas Shikamaru would find these affairs troublesome, here Ino would shine brightest. At Shikamaru�s insistence, Tsunade had to admit that she could not think of a better �poster girl� for the village. No one else she knew possessed the kind of enthusiasm and spirit as Ino for marketing Konoha.

After an arsenal of only about three or four of his two-hundred arguments, Tsunade was asking Shizune for the documents to be stamped. She added a short annotation to explain Ino�s presence, sealed them and handed them to Shikamaru. Was that a smirk she saw on the edge of his lips?

Once he had left the office, Tsunade turned round in her chair to face the large window that allowed her to examine the city that lay below. She let out a deep sigh as she gently stroked the pig, TonTon, sitting in her lap.

Shizune spoke. �Do you get the feeling Shikamaru wants Ino on this mission for other reasons besides her help?�

Of course Tsunade had noticed. Looking through the window she saw only the image of Dan. She remembered how she used to go out of her way to get assigned to missions with him. How could she blame Shikamaru for wanting the same? She broke into a smile and turned to her assistant. �Yes, Shizune, our young chuunin have really grown up.�

XXXXX

Sakura took a double take as she read the morning ledger. Surely there was a mistake. Shikamaru wasn�t supposed to be leaving this early, but that wasn�t the mistake that caught her eye.

�Tsunade-sama, I think you wrote Ino�s name on here by accident,� she said, offering the journal of the day�s official exits and arrivals back to the Hokage to correct. �You were probably getting ready to write the names of Team Ten.�

�No, that�s correct,� she replied, making a shooing gesture with her hands. �You can go ahead and deliver the ledger to the guards.�

�This is for Shikamaru�s three month visit to Suna, right?�

�Yes.�

�But when did Ino� ,� Tsunade cut her off.

�Everything �s correct, Sakura. Now hurry off. Kotetsu and Izumo are waiting. The gates will be opening soon.�

Tsk, thought Sakura, the sound nearly making its way out of her throat. When was Ino added to the mission and more importantly why hadn�t she been informed? She was Ino�s best friend. Yeah, they were rivals too but that had never stopped them from sharing all kinds of intimate information (unless it dealt with Sasuke but that had been back in the day and was no longer a real issue; it seemed almost silly now.) Sharing feelings meant that Sakura new pretty damn well what Ino felt for Shikamaru. Admittedly, Ino had never put it into concrete words but a best girlfriend just knows these kinds of things. She really needed to find out more about this from Ino.

Arriving at the gate, Sakura handed the ledger to Kotetsu.

�Anything special I need to know for today?� he asked.

�Well Shikamaru�s leaving for Suna today, earlier than expected, and guess who�s tagging along?� She stopped long enough to rouse Kotetsu�s and Izumo�s curiosity so that they would take a look for themselves.

�Wow. Ino. I hadn�t heard about that,� answered Izumo.

�You�re not the only one,� Sakura mumbled, mostly for her own benefit.

�Sounds dangerous, if you want my opinion,� added Kotetsu. �Three months with Ino. It will only end in heartbreak or bloodshed.�

He had never understood how Shikamaru could concentrate on a mission with Ino on his team. He sure knew he wouldn�t be able to and he, like a lot of others, was suspicious about Shikamaru�s fellings towards the girl. Shikamaru was definitely not out spoken, but when their team found the downtime on a mission to sit back and relax around the fire, the discussion would always turn to the masculine prowess of each and comments on Konoha�s sexiest single females. Inevitably, Ino�s name would surface and the quiet chuunin would always jump in at that point with some sort of defensive drabbling, having stayed shy of the conversation up until then. The scenario had repeated itself often enough that Kotetsu, Izumo and Genma would have had to have been rather thick to not make the connection. If they hadn�t have heard the rumors surrounding Shikamaru and Temari then they would have been certain; but Shikamaru never participated in their fireside banter. This they had always associated with his lackadaisical attitude.

Sakura was just finishing up with the guards when Shikamaru and Ino came strolling up to the gate.

Shikamaru waved at the threesome as they passed the desk. He preferred gesturing to opening up the path to a full blown conversation.

Ino saw Sakura standing there, arms crossed, a rather disappointed look on her face. �I�ll fill you in on all the details when I get back,� she hollered, hoping that would be enough to appease her friend. She would have loved to stop and explain everything to Sakura but she knew Shikamaru didn�t have much patience for what he referred to as their bothersome girly chitchat. The couple continued to make its way toward the gate.

Kotetsu watched the two forms exit, paying most careful attention to the silhouette of the girl. �Yep, heartbreak or bloodshed,� he repeated.

Shikamaru could feel the three pairs of eyes on them as they made their way out of the village. Finally, about 50 meters out, he felt a huge weight lift from his shoulders. What a relief to be free of the scrutinizing regards of Konoha.


Shikamaru and Ino are copyright to Kishimoto Masashi. This is simply a fanlisting/fansite.