The Suna Chronicle: Chapter 7

by Juturne

Shikamaru felt uneasy to be sitting at the main table under the scrutiny of all of Suna�s top officials. Perhaps he would have felt better if all eyes in the house hadn�t have been riveted on Ino, but even that wasn�t enough to break his abnormally, perky mood. His mind kept returning to the vision of the evening�s prior events and the promise of what was to come once this damn party would be over.

Ino looked positively stunning, perhaps even better now than when she had finished preparing for the event. The blush that lingered on her sun kissed cheeks following her tongue wrestling match with Shikamaru brought a healthy, radiant glow to her face. She was beaming- the perfect picture of a girl madly in love.

She had butterflies in her stomach and the nervous feeling was making her more chipper than usual as she made her way around the room meeting old and new acquaintances. She couldn�t keep from giving Shikamaru knowing glances across the room. When she would catch his gaze, and often she did, she would smile and send him a quick wave; he�d smile and pretend to turn back to a conversation he wasn�t paying much attention to.

Many eyes were on Ino that evening, but among the most persistent were those of Kankurou. In some twisted way he was taking Ino�s appearance here as a prize that was destined for him. Wasn�t he the one who had helped her select the dress? Hadn�t all of the twirling and posing been for his unique benefit? She had insisted he tag along to the shop; she couldn�t just toy around with him like that, his sake-clouded reasoning dictated. The glances he caught between her and the shadow ninja only increased his determination. Obviously something had changed in their relationship and it was his fault for not having moved in sooner. He was certain that he could have had her that night after the club. He felt rather fidgety and uncomfortable like he needed to act now or accept defeat (which was out of the question) at the hands of the Konoha loser.

XXXXX

Ino spun round to see who was tapping her shoulder.

�Kankurou! How�s it going?�

�Wow, you really look great, Ino. Glad I chose that dress.�

�Yeah, thanks for the help. It did turn out nice.�

�You know I was just thinking, you�ve never been here in the State Hall before have you?�

�Well we were escorted to Baki�s office when we first arrived. You should know that. You were there, remember?� she teased.

�Oh yeah,� he feigned, knowing very well where he had been that day. �Well, still, how about a private tour? Hardly anyone but government officials ever get to see all the memorabilia that�s tucked away in here.�

Ino had to admit she was pretty curious to see what else lay in the ornate building. It was always heavily guarded and she knew that an opportunity like this wouldn�t present itself two times, so she took him up on the offer. �Ok, but it�ll have to be quick. I probably shouldn�t disappear for too long.�

She ducked out behind Kankurou, hoping to wave to Shikamaru but couldn�t find him as she glanced quickly over the crowd.

The building was a real labyrinth. Without a guide she didn�t know how anyone could find their way through the long, now dim, corridors.

They stopped in front of a few glass cases where he half-heartedly showed her the weapons used by fallen or otherwise naturally deceased Kazekages; but as haphazard as the tour might have seemed, pausing here, peeking at that, Kankurou was following a precise predefined path that would eventually land them at their final destination. �Are you sure we should be going into Gaara�s office when he�s not there?� she questioned.

�I�m his brother remember. I can go in anytime,� he reminded her. �Anyway, there�s something really special in there that I want to show you. It�s better than all that other stuff, I promise� he continued, pushing back the door to the room.

�See,� he said, after crossing the room and motioning for her to follow. �This is the largest jade stone that�s ever been found, to my knowledge. My dad gave it to our mom as a gift when Temari was born. Gaara keeps it in here. I guess it�s to honor her somehow since he never knew her. I have some rather vague memories but I was so little when she died I�m not sure whether they�re real or invented.� He knew she�d be touched by the story; all girls were.

�I�m really sorry. I never knew you lost your mom. It is a beautiful gem though. I can see why Gaara would associate it with your mother.� Earlier, she had admired the photos of Karura along the walls in the corridors.

�It is beautiful, but in my opinion it doesn't begin to compare with present company.� Ino took a second to catch the compliment. It was actually rather sweet and it caused her to blush, not expecting that sort of comment from Kankurou- definitely not now, certainly not here.

In Kankurou�s rather drunken mind, it had been enough to justify his intentions. The statement caught Ino off guard, however, and she never would have anticipated finding herself being spun around so quickly by the Sand ninja.

He laid into the kunoichi now facing him to kiss her.

Once Ino realized what he was trying to do she pushed him back but to no avail. He only came back at her with more force, knocking her back into Gaara�s desk.

�Kankurou, stop,� she shrieked, but he only took her open mouth as an invitation to fill it with his tongue, ignoring the words.

Ino wasn�t a helpless girl by any means, but push as she might she couldn�t get him off of her. His drunken state made him much more cumbersome and resistant, not to mention that he was already a pretty big guy as it was.

Since pushing wasn�t working, she tried to pull back but the movement only helped him to pin her down on the table. �Just calm down,� he tried to reassure her, his hand moving under the fabric of her dress to cup her left breast.

She tried to free a leg the best she possibly could to kick him in the thigh. Unfortunately the long, tight gown didn�t offer the same ease of movement as the uniform she wore on missions so she ended up not caring much about her aim as long as she made contact somewhere. Eventually she thought she had landed a blow on him somewhere in the melee of their bodies as Kankurou stopped suddenly and stepped back.

Finally he has come to his senses, she thought, when a familiar voice came from the hall.

�Ino said she�s not interested. Got it?� She peeked over Kankurou�s shoulder to see Shikamaru standing in the doorway in shadow possession jutsu stance.

So Kankurou hadn�t stopped of his own accord. Ino felt a wave of disappointment and fear as she ran to Shikamaru�s side. She couldn�t believe what had just happened. It had all been so fast. Just a minute ago she had been standing with a friend, even pitying his childhood misery and now she was no longer quite sure who that man was.

Shikamaru wanted nothing more than to break into shadow neck bind technique and kill the mother fucker there and then but he knew that killing the Kazekage�s brother would only lead to a diplomatic incident. Instead he chose to take Ino away from the room as quickly as possible, knowing they should keep their distance from the guy to avoid any further confrontation.

Ino rearranged herself as best she could before stepping back into the party hall. She hadn�t spoken a word. She was far too shaken to speak of the incident just yet, not even feeling the courage to thank Shikamaru who had quickly noticed her absence as well as that of Kankurou. Having watched her from afar for a good part of the evening he had become suspicious of the puppet master�s stares as well. She put on her best party face and continued making her rounds speaking with guests.

Meanwhile, Kankurou was busy fuming in his brother�s office. Two times that bitch had refused him, something no girl had ever done once. Maybe she was involved with the shadow bastard but having a current boyfriend had never been an obstacle for any of the girls he�d known. Women were always flattered to receive his attention. He was after all the fucking son and brother of a Kazekage, dammit!

As his anger began to subside a bit after two shots from Gaara�s private liqueur stash, a wave of humiliation began to take its place. How was he going to still be around the girl after what had just happened? He certainly couldn�t tell Baki and what would his reasons be for suddenly no longer wanting to be her guide? Even worse, what if she told Baki what he�d done and requested that he be relieved of his duties. No, Baki must not hear about this. No one should. He would have to get rid of the Leaf ninjas, but how?

XXXXX

Kankurou figured his plan was fool proof as he made his way back to the State Hall after a little errand outside. He carefully grasped the two small vials he had picked up at the greenhouse and made a concerted effort to not get them mixed up.

He slipped back into the party as discreetly as possible, verifying that no one was watching him too closely and that the Konoha couple had their backs turned to him.

He proceeded directly to the main banquet table and carefully poured the contents of the first vial into Gaara�s cup. He then walked in the direction of the couple. He passed quickly behind them, remaining back far enough so as to not be detected but close enough to send a nearly invisible chakra string, to which he had attached the empty vial, into one of the side pleats of Ino�s dress. The manipulation was simple child�s play for Kankurou. He smirked as he remembered how he used to perform a similar trick, in the reverse sense, to grab wallets off of passersby for fun. Now he just needed to send the alert.

Back at the entrance, he whispered to one of the guards and handed him the second vial. Immediately the guard took action and went to locate Gaara. He spoke lowly to the leader and accompanied him back to the table where he had been dining.

The guard emptied the vial into Gaara�s cup under the Kazekage�s supervision and they both appeared stunned to see the dark coagulating forms that confirmed the presence of a poisonous substance in the beverage.

The guard said something else to Gaara who gave a nod of approval.

He then went over to Ino, excused himself for interrupting the conversation and for what he was about to do before proceeding to pat down the startled girl, easily finding the empty poison bottle which had been so casually dissimulated on her person. He held it up so that Gaara could see it from the distance.

Ino recognized the vial immediately as one that she worked with in the lab and although she didn�t fully comprehend what was happening she knew that the empty bottle could not be a good sign. She spun round with a most horrible and frightened look to turn to face the Kazekage.

Her body and mind were struck numb as he spoke: �Place them under house arrest.�


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