Author: Snow Tigra
Pairings: Shikamaru & Chouji, Shikamaru & Ino
Warnings: Leaning toward horror, but not so much. Inspired by the movie “Unleashed” but bearing almost no similarity to it whatsoever. Alternate Universe.
Late that night, Chouji dreamt of his mother. He remembered their old house, the small two bedroom with the small living room and the yard out front that really was so small you couldn’t mow it. He pictured her sitting at the kitchen table, the pieces of glass and hot glue gun sitting out as she meretriciously made the glass shade for the old lamp. Butterflies and odd little shapes, rigged to spin slowly and project their shapes on the wall as the light was turned on.
He remembered her long hair, always tied back out of her eyes. When she’d gotten sick she’d always complained about how they cut her hair short, and how it always fell in front of her eyes, forcing her to constantly push it back out of the way.
He remembered her hands, always working on something. She’d loved to cook and around meal time she and Chouza were always dancing around the kitchen, preparing large and delicious meals that Chouji loved. He remembered her enjoying the food too, and he remembered how thin she got when the hospital told her she had to restrict her diet. When they told her she couldn’t eat her own and her husband’s cooking. He remembered her being little more then a twig when she died.
Chouji remembered her smile, and how it lit up the room just like his father’s. He remembered how happy she was, even with the small house and the money troubles they always whispered about when they thought Chouji was sleeping or out of the room. He remembered her delighted eyes when he brought home report cards, class projects and recommendations from teachers. He remembered everything that made her happy.
He remembered her making the lamp again, cutting her fingers on the glass.
He remembered the blood staining the table, soaking into the wood so that it couldn’t be washed. He remembered it dripping on to the floor and smearing, long red lines that faded.
Chouji opened his eyes in the darkroom, curled tightly in his thick quilt as he struggled to breathe. The room around him was dark and for a moment he panicked, until he remembered that the light bulb having burnt out in the lamp somewhere in the middle of the night, with a loud pop and he’d been too lazy to replace it.
All around him the house was dark, and out the edges of the window he could see the sun was still down. But he was awake now and didn’t feel like sleeping anymore. Instead, he felt hungry. For a long moment he lay in bed, fighting the urge, but finally his stomach won out and he decided to go search for food.
Chouji untangled himself from the blankets and climbed out of bed, tugging his night shirt straight as he headed down the stairs to the kitchen. He was careful to step on the very sides of the staircase, so the wood wouldn’t make sounds and wake up his dad. Silent foot steps and low, quiet breaths brought him to the kitchen where he pondered what to make. Upon opening the fridge he was delighted to find cookie dough that his dad had prepared the night before for baking in the morning.
The perfect midnight snack.
Grabbing himself a spoon he took a large chuck of the cookie dough and put it on a plate, then sat down at the table to enjoy it without his father’s disapproving eyes. Of course, his father would notice in the morning, like he always did, but for the moment he was allowed to enjoy his guilty pleasure.
As he ate, Chouji ignored the dream he’d woken up from, not wanting to think about his mother or the strange string of memories that had flowed through his mind. Instead, he imagined that she was upstairs with his father, and that in the morning he’d hear scolding from both of them about the cookie dough, only to be given a plate of cookies as soon as the batch was cooked. Because neither Chouza or Shizune could ever resist having their son sample their culinary works, no matter how much trouble he was in.
It had been perfect. So he just decided, that while he enjoyed the cookie dough, he’d imagine it still was.
Though, perfection it seemed, wasn’t willing to stick around for him. As he was enjoying the cookie dough, he heard a small muffled sound from the basement. It unnerved him enough for him to set down his spoon and wander over to the door, opening it very slightly. He paused, holding his breath, as he heard a voice from down the stairs.
“Damnit, I need to talk to you, so you had better appear!”
Chouji frowned, recognizing Ino’s voice instantly. What was she doing in his basement? He glanced up the stairs toward his father’s room, vaguely considering waking him up, but he didn’t think he could make it silently back up the stairs and he didn’t want Ino to run away in between. Not to mention that he wanted to know what she was talking about. Chouji decided to move slowly down the stairs, happy in the fact that these ones were concrete and therefore silent, even if they were cold on his feet.
The basement was lit from various small windows, scattered along the ceiling to the yard. Moonlight shown in, giving Chouji plenty of light so he wouldn’t trip and fall, yet not enough to be overly noticeable. He moved completely down the stairs and hid on the other side, so Ino wouldn’t see him. Ducking out of sight, he couldn’t help but stare… as the boy appeared in front of Ino, out of the shadows.
“All right, just what the hell are you doing? Since when did I say you could make friends with that fat boy?! You were supposed to be my boyfriend! I’m the one who gave you the name and everything! I’m the one who didn’t run away from you! How dare you turn around and do that to me!” Ino’s voice was hushed, to not wake anyone up, but it was still very apparent how angry she was.
The boy didn’t seem phased at all, as he frowned back at her in his silence. A couple times Chouji noticed him clenching his fists in anger, but otherwise he didn’t show much of a reaction. Once Ino was done yelling, the boy shook his head and stepped back from her, making a show that he was leaving her and not staying around. Chouji was pretty sure that meant he wasn’t happy with what she was saying.
“Don’t you even dare walk away from me to him! Shikamaru!!”
Chouji blinked and covered his mouth to keep from making a sound. Shikamaru? Wasn’t that supposed to be the name of Ino’s imaginary boyfriend, according to Naruto?
Suddenly it all made sense to him. Her anger, her rage and just pure hatred of Chouji could easily be summed up and explained. Ino knew about Kage… she’d named him Shikamaru and she’d claimed him as hers. That also explained why she was so upset when Chouji and his father moved into the house. They’d taken the boy away from her, completely unknowingly.
Chouji moved to stand up, ready to say something to stop Ino’s anger from being directed at the boy, but he second guessed himself when he saw her pull out a lighter and flip it on. The small pin of light dramatically changed the darkness in the room and Chouji watched as Kage stumbled backward, quickly moving away from the fire, shaking his hand that it had been close to.
Kage wasn’t just afraid of the light. It hurt him! And Ino was planning to do just that, because she moved forward, swinging the lighter in front of her, and purposely backing the boy into a corner.
“Ino! Stop it!” Chouji wasn’t second guessing himself anymore, instead he quickly climbed over the stairs and stumbled toward her as quickly as he could to catch her hand. Ino, for her part, was completely surprised and completely dropped the zippo lighter to the concrete floor as she gave a small cry from burning her own fingers. Turning around to react to Chouji, she shoved him back into a pile of empty boxes, causing them to fall all over the room.
The next thing allowed little time to react. Chouji landed hard on the concrete floor, scraping his hand enough for it to bleed. The boxes around him rolled, making a loud crushing and moving sound as they spread out. One of the boxes must have landed next to the lighter, because the next thing Chouji knew the three boxes between him and Ino were burning brightly, lighting up the room around them. Chouji kicked them away out of reflex as he scrambled to his feet, looking for a path out of the basement. But everywhere he looked fire was popping up and smoke was clogging the air. He could only imagine that the door to the basement door had slid shut somewhere along the line, blocking the air in. That meant the basement was going to get smoky fast. And the fire was getting bigger, the room growing brighter-
Chouji stopped and turned quickly, looking over to where Kage/Shikamaru had been. The fire was creating light and that meant it was hurting him! Chouji could see him cowering in the corner, hugging himself tightly as the light seemed to be drawn toward him. His normally black skin was puckering and turning red, seeming to curl like paper slowly burning away. Chouji could see the boy was scared and shaking, obviously in pain.
Then another box tumbled from the fire breaking down its shape, rolling toward the boy. The flames actually touched him this time and Chouji stared in horror as the boy let out a scream of pain.
The air seemed to shatter around them, and suddenly the shadows were moving. Darkness darted out from the wall, diving into the flames like water, trying to put them out. The flames danced around the darkness, and more screams filled the air, as if others were burning as well. Chouji curled up in the corner, covering his ears as he watched Ino standing in the center of the flames, the shadows wrapping tightly around her.
One by one the flames hissed out, water coming in through the windows and the door, yelling and lights filling around him. Chouji’s mind took a full minute to realize the shape coming toward him wasn’t a shadow, but rather a fireman, yelling in a muffled voice to see if he was ok.
The flames were gone now and Chouji couldn’t see anything, his eyes still adjusting to the darkness. As the fireman lifted him and carried him out, he looked back into the basement for something… anything.
But Chouji was the only one left in the basement.