Oft There is a Scar

by Gladdecease

The situation had spiraled out of control hours ago. Numbers he could have never expected and predicted were pouring out of the woods, a constant flow of fresh enemies when he wasn’t getting a single reinforcement for his allies.

The difference between the sides of the fight that was saving his ass was that while the enemy had numbers (it felt like hundreds of numbers, though it was actually closer to twenty, maybe twenty-five squads), his side had quality fighters. They were taking out four, eight, ten enemies for every ninja on his side.

Looking out at all the carnage, Shikamaru had to admit to himself that he had made quite a mess of things.

This was war, and he needed to find a way to win it.

A few moments of frantic thinking later, he struck upon a plan.

Using several well-disguised hand signals, Shikamaru called over the important players in the plan. They continued to fight in a wide circle around him, while he passed along the plan through a short-range radio he had made everyone on his squad wear. The message received, his troops quickly (but subtly) made their way to appropriate landmarks, to wait for the right moment.

To the enemy ninja, it looked as though a shadow had burst onto the field and was pulling all those unaware into its depths, never to see daylight again. The bravest trembled at the sight of Sakura’s best genjutsu, which transformed Shikamaru’s attack into their deepest fears. With chakra continually poured into the genjutsu by the strategically placed ninja from Shikamaru’s squad, the trick was almost impossible to beat. If they ever paused to consider it was a genjutsu, and tried to break it, the genjutsu would reapply itself instantly to the person in question.

What they didn’t count on was a ninja reacting violently out of fear and attacking the shadow. One panicking, clearly inexperienced ninja threw a string of kunai at the shadow—his aim was bad, but not bad enough to miss entirely. Shikamaru, distracted by a stubborn enemy who refused to be pulled in, only realized he was under attack when the first one grazed his shoulder.

He stopped short, surprised by the pain. The ninja who threw the kunai, seeing the shadow pause, grew hopeful, and pulled out a tantô. He rushed at Shikamaru, took a flying leap, and sliced downward. Tenten, the only person with an experience with weapons who witnessed the attack, would admit later that it was a perfect move, and Shikamaru was lucky to have lived.

Tenten wasn’t the only one who saw the attack, of course. Ino, who had been manipulating ninja wandering away from the range of the genjutsu (but very carefully, so they wouldn’t notice they weren’t moving of their own will), saw the frozen look in Shikamaru’s eyes, and reacted.

With a speed she didn’t know she had, Ino broke off her control on the enemy ninja and formed the seals to control Shikamaru’s body for him. The back flip she forced him to make woke him out of his startled state, just in time to see the short blade reach his forehead. He jolted backwards, and Ino forced him into a backward run, but it was too late.

Shikamaru cried out sharply as the sword sliced a jagged line down his face. He felt the flesh of his face rip apart. The fighting around him disappeared; all that was left was the sensation of cold metal splitting toughened skin, and the cartilage of his nose breaking as it took the brunt of the attack.

Ino remembered what Shikamaru had warned her before they started this maneuver. If he was badly injured, or looked like he was about to pass out, she had to be ready to take over for him. Her will was stronger than his, and she could bear his pain and finish the plan for him. She motioned for someone to hold her body, and felt more than saw Sakura approach.

With a lightly whispered name, Ino left her body and entered a world of pain. Not daring to look and see her own skin start to split in the same way, she fought down Shikamaru’s will and the pain. Pulling the seals from her memory (and a bit of Shikamaru’s memory), she forced the ninja who had attacked Shikamaru to his knees, finished him, and moved on to the next one. And the next one, and the next one.

There was blood trickling down Shikamaru’s face.

ino, she heard someone say, it hurts. damn it. it hurts. it hurts, it hurts it—

"Ino, get out of there. You can’t hold it any longer, and I can’t hold the genjutsu either."

it hurts it hurts ithurtsithurtsithurts—

Ino moved Shikamaru’s body out of the fray and returned to her own, his mental cries of pain echoing in her mind.

--

The tantô cut deep, slicing skin, muscle, cartilage. His cheek peeled away from the bone, and he saw rather than felt his gums bleeding through the hole in his cheek, and down his face. His nose was crushed on one side, the cartilage ruined.

Intense agony shot from the nerves and the crimson liquid oozed down his chin. Blood was pouring down his neck. His blood. His nerves were on fire, and he couldn’t see through the blood in his eyes.

He opened his mouth to scream, but the blood filled his mouth. He tried to breathe, and the blood was in his nose.

He was drowning, drowning—drowning in his own blood.

Wake up, Shikamaru!

Wake up? How could he wake up when he was drowning? He couldn’t breathe, he couldn’t speak, he couldn’t think, so how could he—

Wake up!

--

She was screaming at him to wake up, the idiot. Why wouldn’t he wake up—if he had just paid attention, then all that would have hit him was a stupid kunai, and even Chôji could have healed that! But no, he had to freeze up, and get his face sliced in two! And if she hadn’t been keeping him moving and Sakura hadn’t been fooling the enemy, then one of them would’ve had the strength to put both their faces back together instead of half-assing both of their faces and—

Did he move? Ino stopped shaking Shikamaru by his shoulders, rubbed hurriedly at her eyes, and peered at his face. He groaned and cracked open an eye, and she felt like cheering. Or crying again.

Instead, Ino wrapped her arms around Shikamaru (but only where she knew he wasn’t injured) and held him tightly, rambling into his chest about how stupid and idiotic he was and how glad she was that he wasn’t dead and how she would have killed him if he went and died on her.

Barely conscious, Shikamaru nodded weakly, looked around to check on how the battle was going, and passed out, his head on Ino’s shoulder. Ino considered shoving him off, or waking him up again, but decided against it.

The battle was over. They had won. They could worry about everything else later.

--

Shikamaru woke up to the blinding white of hospital walls. He sat up in bed and winced, wishing he hadn’t. Sitting up got the attention of the only other person in the room—Ino. She rushed to his side in full nurse-mode, checking his wounds and how his scar was healing.

It was scabbed up, and made it very hard for him to speak for fear of opening the wound. He still managed to frown when he saw the small bandage taped across Ino’s nose.

“Got that from me, did you?”

Ino rubbed at her face unconsciously. “In the rush to heal everyone’s major injuries after the battle, replacing the cracked cartilage wasn’t important enough.

“It’s going to scar…for both of us.”

Shikamaru smiled wryly at the thought of a scar across his nose. Guess it was true: like father, like son. “All I’ll need is my dad’s cloak and we’d be twins.”

Ino frowned. “Daddy’s gonna be mad that my face is messed up.”

“You’ll look fine.”

“You—you think so?” Ino blushed, and it was hard to say which of them was more surprised.

Shikamaru smiled and pulled her down so their noses touched—so their scars touched.

“I know so.”

“...you always do, don't you.”


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