AN: So I have a lot of one shots that I've been meaning to post, but haven't because some of them feel like they need to be more than one shots. This one might leave you a bit unsatisfied at the end, but in the future (don't ask when because I don know myself ;P) there will be a second part to it.
Parts: 1 of 2
Song: What About Now by Daughtry
Main Parings: InoSasuke, InoShikamaru, InoNeji
Three young men settled in training area 7 to wind down from their early morning session. Naruto was sprawled on his back, his chest rising and falling with his labored breathing. Kiba had propped himself on a nearby tree with a panting Akamaru to his side. Sasuke was the only one standing, taking deep mouthfuls of water and wiping the sweat from his forehead with the back of his hand.
"What's up with you today Sasuke? Pm-essing? You never go all out unless you're pissed about something." Kiba whined. Sasuke ignored him and settled cross-legged in the bruised grass. If he didn't want to train then he should have never come. Kiba bitched like a bitch Sasuke thought to himself sourly.
"He broke up with Ino again." Naruto supplied, resting his arms behind his head and looking up to the sky. Sasuke glared at his best friend, imagining cutting his loose tongue out of his mouth to keep him from saying useless things. So what if it was true?
"Ah. I see." Kiba said a little softly, patting the top of Akamaru's head. "She's back with Shikamaru then? Can't say I'm surprised."
Shadows fill an empty heart
Sasuke stood up angrily. It annoyed him to no end how his business was known to everyone. He wasn't upset that she was probably with Shikamaru. He had expected it to happen. So why was he upset then? She was the one to call it halts again, not him. He should be pissed at her not himself. After calming himself, he came to the conclusion that he wasn't upset. He was…concerned.
"About what?" Naruto asked with a frown. Now Sasuke Uchiha wasn't one to go to others for advice. He detested the idea, but for the first time in his life, he didn't know what to do. Ino…how could his life be so confusing over one girl? They had been together on and off for three years, since they were thirteen. Nothing between then was ever cut and dry and their relationship was far from normal.
"He's concerned about Shikamaru and Ino. Can't say I blame you. If she were my girl and every time we broke up she ended up with her best guy friend, I would be concerned too." Kiba said with a little wolfish grin. Sasuke suppressed a sigh.
"I don't understand your relationships with her at all. You guys are good for a month or two and then you break up for a month or two. You go and sleep with whomever and she ends back up with Shikamaru. They you miraculously make- up and on and on it goes. Don't you get tired of it?" Naruto asked, concerned blue eyes studying Sasuke's expression.
As love if fading
I'm getting tired of it all…why do we even try? Gods, why did those words make him feel so uncomfortable? Like he was about to lose something forever. It wasn't the first time he heard them, but they never bothered him before. She always said things like that but it never hit a nerve the way it did the last time she said it. He remembered her not meeting his eyes and withdrawing herself until her eyes were blank. She looked numb and sad. And tired…
"She's not with Shikamaru. Temari is here." Sasuke muttered looking the trees. When Temari was here, Shikamaru was unavailable. So who was she with this time? He passed by her house late last night and didn't feel her chakra anywhere. But he knew Ino almost as well as he knew himself. She was with someone, he had no doubts about that.
"You're love life it too complicated Sasuke. I get tired just thinking about it." Naruto sat up and yawned before he grinned. "I'm glad I'm not you. I'm glad I have Hinata all to myself."
Sasuke scowled. "Quit bragging."
Naruto chuckled. They left the training area after and once he got home, Sasuke had a summons waiting for him. He quickly showered and left. It was still early in the morning and Leaf was still waking up. He was escorted in as soon as he arrived.
"S-rank. Neji Hyuga." The Lady Hokage said absently. Her assistant Shizune handed him his scroll summary.
"He's not here?" Sasuke asked. That was not like Neji at all. He worked with him before and knew that the Hyuga Jonin had an impeccable record. He was logical, prompt and disciplined and he would never be late unless it was something important. He knew politics in the Hyuga clan were always in an upheaval, so perhaps there was a meeting of some sort?
"I know. We're surprised as well. Would it be a bother if you went to the Hyuga compound to get him?" Shizune looked at the Hokage nervously as she spoke.
"Fine." He left the room and Shizune called in the next team.
When he entered the compound, a branch member with a glowing green caged seal left him in the foyer as he went in search for Neji. Sasuke impatiently followed him, ignoring the meek protest of the servant as he stalked down the polished hallways. He didn't have time for formalities. As far as he was concerned, their S-ranked mission had started as soon as he got his mission summary.
He came upon Hinata who was quietly exiting a room with an empty tray. She gasped when she saw him. He looked her over, Naruto's words still stinging his pride a bit. Hinata had been patient in her love life. She had waited for Naruto to finally realize just how she felt about him and had waited some more when he said he had to work out his feelings where Sakura was concerned. They had only been together for a few months but to the rest of the Rookie 9 and Team Guy it seemed like it had been longer than that.
"Neji." He demanded. She awkwardly looked at the door she had just exited and he brushed by her.
"S-Sasuke! You shouldn't—" But he ignored her and pushed the door open. Neji's room was immaculate with a dark cherry wood floors and ebony furniture. The white wallpaper matched his sliding rice paper door that lead into his private gardens. His bed was low to the floor with pale blue silk blankets. It was currently occupied by someone. Sasuke smirked. So that's why he was so late. He would have dismissed the young woman in Neji's bed if not for him noticing the pale golden hair sprawled over the pillows. His heart seemed to stop and he took a step forward, finally able to see her pale ivory limbs tangled in the silk sheets. She was cradled in Neji's goose feather pillows with a small content smile curving on her pink lips.
So, it's Neji this time. The thought even sounded savage in his mind.
"What are you doing in here?" Sasuke turned to the steel laced question and saw Neji standing just outside his personal bathroom, dressed and ready to go.
"You're late getting ready." Sasuke spoke in a soft tone, though it had heat in it. "Now I know why."
Neji didn't even look at Ino in his bed. "I don't see why it's any business of yours. Please remove yourself from my chambers at once." He shot back in an equally low tone, a tick in his jaw. Sasuke gave one last look at Ino and left outside. The door closed behind him and he paused when he saw Hinata lingering close by. She blushed and left him alone in the hallway. Sasuke leaned against the wall and folded his arms. In a way he should be relieved that she was with someone other than Shikamaru. But he wasn't. He was angry and jealous. It had only been two months since they broke up and she had found herself a new playmate. In Neji Hyuga. This displeased him.
When Neji decided to emerge from his room, the guys had a little stare off. "Don't get too attached." Sasuke finally said.
Neji matched him smirk for smirk. "I'll enjoy her until then." He replied and the two left for one of most awkward and uncomfortable mission ever.
From all the things that we are
But are not saying
Ino stood silently behind the counter of the flower shop, just gazing out of the window as people passed by. There were a couple of customers today, and one of the other workers, Mai a busty redhead, was helping them out. Looking at the bright cheery colors of the spring inventory made her feel a little better, but not a whole lot. It was two months since she and Sasuke separated. Three months since she coached herself to not go back. Despite the fact that she still had very strong feeling for him, their established relationship is not what she wanted anymore. When she was younger, she could fool herself into thinking that breaking up regularly and getting back together again was something she could get used to. She convinced herself that their arguments and petty differences was nothing compared to their relationship in the long run. She was Ino Yamanaka, beautiful confident ninja of Leaf who was the girlfriend of Sasuke Uchiha, beautiful genius and last of a powerful clan. Out of all the girls he could have, he chose her. He chose her above Sakura. She relished in the thought, preened under the jealous stares of the female population and flaunted the fact unashamed. But after three, almost four years of it, she found herself growing tired of it all.
She grew tired of the fact that she was always expecting another break up. She grew tired of crying when they did break up. She grew tired of arguing, of getting back at him if he did something wrong in their relationship. Tired of knowing that he moved on to other girls as soon as he left the village for a mission when they weren't together. She didn't dare think about how many he had under his belt because she would grow furious and disgusted at the thought. Relationships weren't supposed to be like this.
She looked at Naruto and Hinata and Lee and Tenten and wanted what they had. A stable relationship with someone who belonged to only her. A relationship where she didn't dread the day when they would break up again, where she felt comfortable enough the share her heart and not just her body. The physical stuff they did together was enough at first. Sasuke was very skilled in that department. But like all girls, she wanted more than sex. She wanted his heart and he didn't give it freely despite their history. That's why she didn't feel guilty about not giving hers back. That's why she didn't feel guilty when she would spend her break-up time cradled in Shikamaru or Neji's passionate embrace.
With a heavy sigh, she removed her work apron and called to Mai that she was going off duty. Trudging up the stairs to her house she thought about Shikamaru and Neji. They were another tangle in her love life. Her relationship with Shikamaru had always been a close one because she considered him her most valued and best of friends. She was close with Choji too, but not like she was with Shikamaru. There had always been the underlying tensions of attraction between then since they turned fourteen. She was aware of how quickly she was filling out and how tall and lean he was getting. She had been with Sasuke at the time, but couldn't help how she allowed herself to be lured in by his dark warm brown eyes. So when the inevitable break up did occur she propelled herself at him without hesitation, catching him off guard with how hard and sudden she had slid her arms around his neck and locked her lips into his. Part of her was curious about what would happen when she smashed through the barriers of their friendship to explore more romantic aspects of their relationship and part of her was just doing it to get back at Sasuke. Whatever the case was, that kiss seemed to seal their fate.
Like her, Shikamaru didn't have much of a stable relationship as well. He and Temari broke up almost as much as she and Sasuke did. So he understood what she was going through which only made their relationship stronger and more complicated. When he was back on with Temari and she and Sasuke were not together, she found herself looking for someone. She hated being alone and hated the fact that Sasuke was probably with some whorey girl. At first she thought that she could do what he did and just hook up with some random guy to get her thrills, but in the end she just could bring herself to do that. Guys who had sex with some nameless girl was in it for the act alone, but most girls (like herself) had a hard time separating sex from emotions. That's were Neji came in.
She and Neji got to know one another when they were paired together for a few missions. After the Chunnin exams he and Hinata grew closer and his demeanor thawed. She forgave him for the time he didn't fall for her in the Forest of Death. Even though he didn't stare openly at her like the rest of the male population that drooled over her, she knew he was attracted to her. It was like a sixth sense for her and she took a chance one night when she decided to visit Hinata. Of course she knew that Hinata wasn't home and on a mission, but he didn't know she knew. He noticed she looked subdued and knew (like the rest of his team and the rookie nine knew) that it was because of her on again off again relationship with Sasuke. He knew about Shikamaru too. They sat together in the Hyuga's beautiful gardens to watch an early meteor shower. It set the mood as they chatted idly letting the tension they felt in each other's company build. It only took one look and one touch and that night changed their relationship as well. In the beginning, after their night together she felt obligated to ask him if he minded. Neji was smart, he knew what she was asking. Did he mind that she was with him because she broke up with Sasuke and Shikamaru was unavailable at the moment? He just gave one of his little rare smiles and gathered her up in his arms and began his gentle, deliberate loving again.
No one really knew about she and Neji except for Hinata (who walked in on them while they were in the throes of a very sexually charged kiss) and Shikamaru. Shikamaru was a little put off about it, but slowly got over it when she told him that he would always be her first choice. It's not like he never messed around with other girls when he and Temari were on a break and she was with Sasuke.
Three men in her life, each so different from one another. Sasuke with his arrogance and skill who liked to be adventurous in bed. Shikamaru with his cool head and intelligence who was very deliberate and rough in his bedroom skills. And Neji who was quiet and thoughtful who liked to be gentle and thorough when they were tangled together under his silk blue sheets. All of them had a little piece of her heart and all of them were important to her. How did things end up so complicated? She wondered as she walked to the nail salon for her four o'clock appointment. She heard about Sasuke and Neji's mission together from Hinata when she was leaving the Hyuga complex. Damn, now what was going to happen? Sasuke knew about Neji now.
Can we see beyond the scars and make it to the dawn?
"Maybe it's better this way." She murmured to herself. Maybe this could help her break from him once and for all. Her throat hurt from the sudden swell of emotion at the thought. No matter how many times she thought of removing him for her life, it didn't lessen the pain. Her heart still burned. But...it was something she had to do no matter how much it hurt, no matter how much it tore at her. At this point, she didn't think they could ever fix their relationship. Habits died hard, but so did love...