Chapter 5

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   Seeing as I would be living on my own from here on out, I figured it would be best to find a job, something that would help me support myself. I found one with Ino at the Yamanaka flower shop. It was easy to obtain due to being apart of her team. Throughout the day we would make small talk with one another. One of the first days I saw her, after everyone consoled me at my new apartment, we'd had a small conversation. Though it was about the sensitive subjects of my life, knowing that they cared lessened my usual anxiety.

   Ino was trimming the flowers as I stood at the counter waiting for customers to make their purchases. She walked over and took a seat on a stool next to me at the counter. "Hey, I want to make sure you're all right. Are you feeling okay?" She asked politely. I nodded my head as I began to speak. "I'm doing good actually." I gave a smile as I tilted my head. "You seem, more open for some reason. Is there anything you want to talk about." I began to think, I felt bad for how I had acted towards Shikamaru at Kiba's party. He'd wanted to help and now here I was about to console with Ino. I'd have to go speak with him later. "There isn't anything worth talking about, now that things seem to have been solved...in a vulgar way unfortunately." Ino looked confused for a moment. "What do you mean? If you don't mind me asking." I smiled to reassure her. "It's fine, but I didn't have the best family life." Though the care she showed me, it was still difficult to open up about the details. She luckily seemed to get the memo. "I understand. If you want to ever talk about anything, just know I'll listen." I smiled at her. "Thank you." I replied quietly.

   After my shift I headed toward a familiar street. looking down I could see my old place of residence, but that was not my destination. After passing a couple houses down, I approached Shikamaru's home. I knocked and waited for someone to answer. It was his dad. "Is Shikamaru here?" I questioned. He nodded his head and turned to retrieve him. A few moments later Shikamaru came out and we took a small walk.

   "So, what's your business with me anyway?" He asked calmly. "I wanted to say sorry about what happened at Kiba's party. If I would have told you, or anyone, what was going on sooner, things may have been different." "Don't blame yourself. No one would expect you to talk so easily. It would be dumb to expect that of anyone in your situation. Thinking from that point of view, you wouldn't want anyone to know that you're struggling because it would show as a vulnerable aspect to you and possibly everyone else. Even if the best thing to do is tell someone about the problem, its impossible to do nonchalantly." I listened as Shikamaru spoke. Everything he said was absolutely true. "I feel selfish for thinking of it that way." "You didn't know how bad the situation was going to get, don't feel bad." I could only walk alongside him as he came back at me words that I couldn't counter. What he was saying was true, but the guilt would still be there.

   "Is there a reason why your father did what he did?" Shikamaru was attempting to dig deeper and understand the situation. Maybe even to understand my character more. I didn't mind going in detail with him because he'd already known about it for some time and he knew I was okay with it to.

"It wasn't just him. My mom would hurt me to. My sisters weren't an exception, but they didn't show any sympathy to me or one another. But you can't really blame them because all they ever knew was abuse."

"But why?" Shikamaru questioned.

"I can't fully answer that myself either. Though they would usually do when they got mad, like when I would cry the usual blood. We were all confused as to why that would happen to me, but now I connect it to me suppressing my anger or sadness because those are the only times it would happen. Like if I was angry, I wouldn't attack because it wouldn't be the rational thing to do, so the blood rush would go to my eyes and I would cry because the blood wouldn't have flown through my arms for a punch or something." I explained.

"That's unusual," He commented, "Though with your parents, maybe it was an unhappy marriage." His words brought up a small memory.

"Since you mention that, I do recall it being arranged. But that's all I can say about it." I wonder if the Kazekage or Hokage would know anything about it. I don't mention this to Shikamaru as I'm not even sure I want to investigate, I only want to forget.

"What was your life like in the sand village?" I hadn't thought much about my life in the sand village, since my thoughts would usually be of worrying about Gaara and the memories we had.

"No one talked to me there. It was like everyone knew something I didn't. Looking back I only thought no one talked to me because they knew my parents were abusive, but thinking about it, there had to me something more to it than that."

"So, you had no friends? Is that why you were so distant?" He almost sounded hesitant asking the question, but I didn't mind.

"I did have one friend, he was like me. No one talked to him and he seemed sad when I first saw him. I didn't like seeing him like me so I asked him to be my friend. I was really young, if the same thing happened now, I probably wouldn't have made the confrontation. You know, young confidence. But I did believe that I wouldn't have any luck with friends here because of how things were at the other village. I didn't realize that until they died." My tone died down as I spoke the last part, knowing he heard me.

"Why are you asking me all these questions?" I ask genuinely curious, it's unusual for him to be so interested.

"I don't know actually. Sympathy maybe?" He replied unsure. "Talking about this stuff and getting it off your chest is a good way to relieve stress. Speaking of, you don't seem very phased by all of this."

"While I was distancing myself from everyone, there was a lot going on in my head," I began, "I always thought about how I was forced to leave my friend behind because when I left he was screaming at me to not leave and as a 10 year old it messed with me a lot and it still does. Living with my family, I constantly felt in danger, I was always stressed and didn't feel like I had time to relax. The most sleep I'd ever gotten for the past three years was 3 hours a night because of the lack of reassurance of my safety and including the screaming and yelling almost every night as well as the stress of if my sisters lives were about to end due to using drugs. I swear I was going insane. I'd hear voices and see things and honestly I still do, but it's not as frequent. Luckily the panic attacks have died down to." Shikamaru seemed forlorn to hear of the things I'd gone through and was experiencing.

"I didn't want them to die..." I said quietly, "I hated them, but all I ever wanted was for them to get better and for us to be happier." I began to tear up, thinking about what it would have been like if we were a normal family. Shikamaru stops walking.

"We don't have to talk about this anymore," He begins, "Lets change the subject." Clearing my head of the negative thoughts, I pat my eyes and look at him with a small smile as he starts talking again.

"Have you tried using your rage during training or battle?" Confused by his question I look at him.

"How would I do that?"

"Think about something that makes you happy or sad and train yourself to make rational movements and decisions. And even use the strength you build during that to make a move on an opponent. Do you even know if the blood flow that would go to your arm makes you stronger or not?" Hearing what he said, I took into account the idea.

"That sounds interesting to look into and would be useful if it does make me stronger. I can try that out tomorrow during training. The idea almost makes me want to test it out now, but it's almost dark." We'd been walking for a while on the streets of Konoha.

"Yea, I should probably head back home." Shikamaru replied as he looked around. We said goodbye to one another and I headed home to my empty feeling apartment. Thinking about my family and Gaara, I found it difficult to fall asleep again. I missed Gaara so much. 3 years and nothing has changed concerning my thoughts about him. I wonder how he's doing, where he's at, and what he looks like now. I think about all the times we had played together then.

"I will meet him again." I whisper to myself quietly, closing my eyes contently, confirming my only wish.

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