Shikamaru was lucky and should be grateful for his life. It was a mantra he repeated to himself several times a day. With dark hair, dark eyes, tanned skin and no ID, he was categorized as a mongrel by society and, as a mongrel, was considered to be at the very bottom of the social and economic ladder.
Yet, he couldn’t help letting out a long-suffering sigh muttering out a, “Troublesome”, as his companion jabbered on about work.
Blue eyes sharpened, as the owner turned towards him angrily. “Did you just call my promotion problems troublesome?” the blonde asked sizing him up.
Normally, a s a pet, talking back to an elite or clan member would mean punishment in the form of whipping, imprisonment or even death depending on the person’s temperament. Normally, he won’t dare talk back. Normally, he would listen carefully and respond when appropriate. He was a self-certified coward. Keeping his mouth shut and head down meant less trouble for him. But he hadn’t slept much last night, so he felt grouchy and tired, plus this specific blonde was different. They had known each other since they were kids, had grown up in the same household, shared the same food and told each other almost everything. Their relationship was a special one, and thus, he was allowed far more leeway because of it.
He reached out, wrapping the blonde in a loose hug. They were at home. No one here would care or dare say anything seeing them in such a position. “You’re smart and successful. It’ll be their loss not to promote you.” he reassured.
“Of course, you’ll say that. You’re biased.” came the mumbled reply, as thin arms wrapped themselves around his waist, returning his hug.
He wished he could help her more. He saw the stress, the pressure she was under to make a name for herself.
Ino, that was the name of this specific blonde. His blonde.
Strong, independent, determined – she was one of his best friends. With long blond hair and pale blue eyes, Ino was often mistaken by civilians as being part of the elites of society. As heir apparent of her Clan, that assumption wasn’t too far off the mark. He himself, was a mongrel and a pet. His responsibility was to cater to Ino’s every need. However, Ino, unlike most others in her position, almost never used her power over him. Of course, he still had his role to play, but she treated him more as an equal, more as a friend than anything else. For that, he would be eternally grateful to her and her family.
They lived in Konogakure - a caste-based society. At the very top of the ladder were the Elites, followed by the Clans, the citizens of Konoha and lastly by the mongrels of Kamagasaki. The elite class was subdivided into two groups: The Blondies and The Eyes. They were responsible for the overall governance and security of the village. The Clan class was involved in the management of the districts and in military duty. Most civilians had regular jobs. However, they were some who were appointed to the civilian council. The counsel members were the ones who communicated the needs of the civilians to the Clans.
At 23 years old, Ino had only entered the workforce last year, but was already aiming for a promotion to Chuunin. As her unofficial advisor and right-hand man, Shikamaru had been with her throughout her entire journey. He trained with her every day in both physical and mental exercises. He helped with her mission strategies and battle analyses. Ino’s dream was to become the administrative head of Kamagasaki. It was where the mongrels lived. The slum of slums. Ino had both selfish and selfless reasons for her dream. Although she saw a promotion as a way to ease her parents’ and clans’ expectation of marriage for a while, she also genuinely wanted to improve conditions in the district.
She believed that, through proper management and with the right support, the tiny district could flourish. She was one of very few elites that felt that way. This made her a pariah amongst some of the clan heirs. Both her and her family were seen as mongrel sympathizers – a very dangerous title to be given. In fact, if not for their friendship with the Akimichi clan, their own abilities in reconnaissance and data analysis - her father being the head of the Analysis team in the military’s Intelligence division – and their effort in the Great War, they would have had their Clan status revoked ages ago. It was a long shot to achieve her goal. They both knew that but with her passion and his brain, it was a shot they were determined to make.
“Why don’t we finish off your mission report. You need to submit it tomorrow, right?” Shikamaru said hoping to get her to calm down a bit.
“Yeah, I still need to finish off the evaluations section. Asuma-sensei said that I’ll need to give an oral report in addition to the write up. That means that you can’t sleep in tomorrow, lazy bones. We’ll be leaving at 7 a.m. sharp!” Ino said flouncing out the room.
“Troublesome.” Shikamaru stood lazily and followed the blonde out.