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.
Chouji awoke the next morning with the sun shining in on his face from the window. The room, and house, around him were peacefully silent, only the sunlight interrupting any of his thoughts. He smiled and rolled over, taking a moment to snuggle against the familiar smell of the couch. He basked in the comforting smell of popcorn and enjoyed movies and a small hint of the perfume his mother used to wear. It was just a moment, but already it made the large house seem more like home.
And, of course, the icing on the cake was the fact that breakfast was sitting out for him on the table, complete with a note from his father about taking a quick shopping trip.
“You went to the grocery store,” Chouji hummed to himself, laughing softly. It was just like his father to wake up and sneak away, and probably this afternoon he would come home, his arms full of bags and many recipes already in mind to try. He’d probably make some excuse about needing to try things for breakfast to put on a menu for the B&B they were planning. Any excuse to cook. With Chouza it was any excuse to cook.
More so since his mother had died.
Chouji sat up and started eating the breakfast, happy to find it was still warm and it hadn’t been long since his father left. Cheese eggs, bacon, and two homemade cinnamon rolls with the best kind of frosting. Well, if nothing else Chouji would never have to deal with the nasty package food that his father considered a plague upon the earth.
While eating his eyes wandered to the window; looking at the curtains as the moved softly from the morning breeze. Had it been a dream? He remembered that somewhere during the night he thought he’d heard someone outside, moving around in the yard. And there’d been a voice, hadn’t there? They were saying some type of name, some long name that Chouji didn’t recognize and had never heard before. He couldn’t remember now, he just remembered that it was a long name. But the quilt had been so warm and the couch so soft, he’d just ignored it and rolled over back to sleep. Though, now that he thought about it in the daylight, that whole idea seemed stupid.
Voices and movement outside one’s house in the middle of the night could be dangerous. He shouldn’t have rolled over, especially when he was close to an open window on the main floor. Instead, he should have closed the window, or at least looked outside. A voice could be anyone. At worst it could be someone trying to break in.
But that was just stupid.
Chouji raised his fork, addressing the window. “Now that’s just silly. Just because you’ve spent the last couple days thinking about ghosts and creepy stuff doesn’t make some silly sound a burglar breaking into the house. You’re just being paranoid.”
That being said, Chouji felt much better as he needed to himself and set the fork back down. He put the last piece of the roll in his mouth and happily enjoyed the taste as he washed his dishes in the sink and went up the stairs.
“And another thing,” this time he addressed the stairway railing. “Just because you’ve been hearing creepy ghost stories all week doesn’t mean that what you saw was an evil ghost. He seemed nice enough and you being scared by him is just plain mean. Just like papa always says, you have to be nice to everyone until they don’t earn it anymore. Otherwise there’s no reason for them to be nice to you.”
That being said, Chouji arrived back in his room and looked at his surroundings. He was confident in his belief that the ghost wasn’t bad, he was probably just lonely. After all, he looked lonely. And that in itself was all the more reason to be friendly about it.
But standing in his room and looking around wasn’t good enough. He had to make a gesture to the boy in order for him to show up. The boy had made the first move before, now it was Chouji’s turn, so he had to do something. He pondered for a moment, then walked over to the window and pulled the shades shut, closing off the sunlight from the room. Walking back over to the door he closed that as well. Then, Chouji took a deep breath, and reached up, turning off the light and filling the room with complete darkness.
The boy watched from near the closet doors, seeing the comforting darkness filling the room. For a moment he wondered what the other was doing, watching him block out all the light from his room and just stand there. Why would he do such a thing? Didn’t humans need the light to see what they were doing? So then why turn off all the lights and not be able to see anything?
“Hello? Um… are you there?”
The boy blinked. No, that wasn’t really possible, was it?
“I saw you in the basement… I don’t know you’re name… but well, I wanted to see you again. Can I?”
The words hung in the air and the boy considered. This was something new, he hadn’t expected the boy to try and talk to him. Hadn’t his only friend said that no one would do that for him? Hadn’t they said that no human would ever care but them? So then why was this boy even doing this?
His eyes flickered to the windows and the very small line of sunlight creeping through. It could be a trap. He could be trying to lure him out and then throw the curtain open and burn him again. The boy didn’t want to be burned again.
But then why would this boy want to trap him or hurt him like that? He seemed so nice and friendly and not at all like the other one. True, the boy didn’t know many humans, but this one seemed nice and he just couldn’t understand why he’d want to hurt him. So he took a chance. He turned and slid through the space in the door, moving out into the room.
At first the human didn’t see him, the room was too dark for that. So the boy moved, walking around toward the colored thing which had fallen, waiting to see if he’d be noticed.
“You are here.”
The boy stopped and looked at him.
“Um, I’m Chouji. Remember? Do you have a name?”
Chouji. The human had said that before. So he was called Chouji. The boy smiled, it fit him. But he had to shake his head at the question, as his kind didn’t have names amongst each other. More often then not his kind combined into one dark being and then scattered when the light came. Simply movements and actions really didn’t require names.
“Oh. Well… are you a ghost?”
The boy tilted his head. He didn’t know that word, but he could remember the other mentioning it maybe once.
“Ok, not a ghost then. Can you… speak at all?”
The boy shook his head. When the light had hit him, he’d gained touch to a limited extent and some semblance of a human form, but beyond that there still wasn’t much he could do. Talking certainly wasn’t something he’d learned. Shadows didn’t make a sound, and apparently that also applied to shadows which had been burned into another existence.
“Oh, well, that’s fine. Well….” Chouji shifted from one foot to another, his eyes roaming the room. He seemed to be trying to think of something, trying to catch his thoughts and words in the air and suddenly the situation felt awkward. The boy frowned and took a step back. He didn’t like feeling awkward in situations, it made them unsafe. So he stepped back, moving back for the safety of the closet.
“Wait! I mean, please don’t leave. I should be more polite. I meant to introduce you to my family and well… you were here first, so I wanted to ask if it’s ok that we stay in your house.”
The boy stopped and blinked. This…. This was new.
“My name is Chouji Akamichi. And I wanted to stay in this room, if that’s all right.”
The boy considered, then decided he didn’t mind Chouji staying in this room. He found the human to be rather interesting and he especially liked the lamp on the table. So he nodded.
“And my father. His name is Chouza. He cooks a lot and it always smells and tastes really good.”
The boy nodded again, he already knew about the other man in the house and didn’t mind him at all.
“So…. I guess I just wanted to make sure it was ok with you that we stay.”
Now this was certainly new. The boy wasn’t used to being asked permission for anything. He was a shadow and he wasn’t part of the human world. He’d wanted to be part of the human world, which was why he’d tried to touch the light. But now… now he felt like he had a small part in the human world.
The boy nodded, then decided on something else and pointed at the lamp. Once he was sure that Chouji was watching him, he moved over to the lamp and tried to touch it, the lamp shaking just a little from the touch.
Chouji smiled and picked it up, setting it back on the table, then he turned it on.
The colored lights filled the darkness and the boy found himself smiling. Quite happy to watch the shapes move around the room quietly.
Meanwhile Chouji just sat and watched him, echoing the boy’s smile on his own face.
The stage lit up, lights flashing and cheers surrounding the stage. Guitars sounded, filling the room with dramatic music as the band stepped out on stage. Sasuke was wearing Naruto’s favorite outfit of tight black leather pants that laced up the sides and disappeared into knee high platform black boots. His blue shirt was open and so shiny and clingy it looked wet, which really just made Naruto all that much happier. Sasuke, aside from being the best singer in the world, was also the best dresser in the world. Of that, Naruto was sure.
Behind him, on the bedside table, the phone began ringing, interrupting Naruto’s private little worship session. Naruto quickly sat up and grabbed the phone before Ino could answer, hoping it was one of her wacko friends. He needed some entertainment lately.
“Naruto! Naruto!” Chouji didn’t even wait for Naruto to answer, he just jumped right in as soon as Naruto picked up the phone.
“Oh good, I thought you were one of her lame-o friends coming over to discuss her invisible boyfriend. She so needs to get a real one.” Music began playing from the tv, Sasuke’s voice filling the room. Naruto turned it down, reminding himself that he could always rewind the tape and watch it again, which he planned to do for the rest of the day.
“Naruto I saw him, he actually talked to me. Well he didn’t really talk to me, but he responded and everything.” Chouji spoke at a mile a minute, not even letting Naruto get a word in. He just couldn’t keep the news in, it all just spilled out. He finally stopped to take a breath and that’s when Naruto got a word in.
“You talked to the ghost?”
“Yeah, he looks like a normal guy and I’m not quite sure if he’s really a ghost. Because he was nice and all, and not really scary once I actually tried to talk to him. He didn’t talk, but he knows what I was saying because he responded and he actually cool looking, and just really-“
“Boooooooooring.” Naruto sighed over the phone, turning over on his stomach and pausing the video he was watching. About the only thing better then watching Sasuke singing was looking at the screen and seeing him frozen in a hot position about ready to sing. “That’s not fair, it’s a cheat. Ghosts are supposed to be scary and creepy and you know... ghost stuff! They aren’t supposed to smile and be cute and make people all bubbly. Boooooring. You should go return him.”
Chouji paused at that statement, then when he spoke again Naruto could hear the laugh in his voice. “Naruto, you can’t return a ghost. It’s not like something you bought at the store that turned out to be broken.”
“Yeah, well, you should be able to. Damn! That’d be great wouldn’t it? I’d buy a ghost and stick it in my sister’s dresser. Then when she wakes up in the morning and pulls out her clothes it’d be like ‘boo!’ and she’d freak so much. Damn now I wish you could buy and trade ghosts. Hmmm…. Maybe we can train him…”
“Oh well, whatever… that’s just plain silly.”
“I think he’s cool. And nice, actually… he smiles a lot.”
Naruto rolled his eyes and hit the mute button, watching Sasuke move on stage, dancing around his blond haired guitarist. They moved together, emphasizing the muted music with their bodies as a grin moved over Naruto’s face as he imagined himself in the blonde’s place. Now that would be great.
Chouji continued talking about the ghost and Naruto gave general responses, tuning him out just enough to be able to enjoy watching the concert video and hear his friend’s impressions. Apparently this ghost was a step more friendly then Casper and that much more not interesting. That was all fine and nice for Chouji, because Naruto would have hated it if the guy was scared out of his house, but at the same time friendly ghosts really were no fun. Casper wasn’t nearly as interesting as all those other scary movies out there.
Eventually the phone call ended and Naruto rolled over on his bed, watching the concert upside down with the volume at it’s appropriate level. Sasuke’s amazing voice filled the room and Naruto couldn’t keep the grin off his face. That was it… he needed tickets. He needed tickets like the desert needed water. Problem was he couldn’t really afford to buy them, much less afford to drive out to wherever Sasuke was performing. He was still a kid to his dad and there was no way he’d be able to convince him.
Still… it couldn’t hurt.
Naruto sat up and turned off the TV, plan in his mind already. He walked into the kitchen with purpose and determination, all ready to set his plan in motion. He retrieved the phone number from the fridge for their father’s flower shop and picked up the phone.
“-I’m serious Sakura, this is a major deal. I don’t like others being around him like that.” Plan foiled. Naruto’s teenage sister had taken over the phone and Naruto knew she would never give it up, not even on threat of death. Maybe he could disconnect the phone line and hang it all up on her.
“Ino, you’re being silly. Besides you barely even see the guy, why are you so worried about him cheating? You two aren’t even really dating. You sound more like a stalker the way you talk about watching him and sneaking out to visit him at night.”
“I am not a stalker Sakura! He’s my boyfriend!”
“Jeeeez! Relax! Calm down. I was just saying how it sounds, not that you are. Do I at least get to meet the guy?”
“Sorry Sakura, out of the question. He doesn’t like meeting others.”
“But you just said-“
“You can’t see him because he’s not real!” Naruto yelled into the phone with a big grin on his face. He couldn’t resist, he just couldn’t. Ino didn’t have a real boyfriend. “She’s going out with an imaginary friend. Not real, completely fake-“
“Naruto!! Get off the phone!”
Naruto laughs loudly onto the phone, then begins humming on the line, making a general annoyance of himself. It doesn’t take long before Ino gets so upset she hangs up and stomps out of her room with the intent to hurt her brother. But Naruto is already hidden up in their father’s room, calling him to beg for tickets to the best concert in the world.