It was the way she spackled butter on her toast.
Her knife sliding back and forth, spreading the butter around unevenly while she hummed absentmindedly. She hadn't bothered to comb her hair before making them breakfast and random pink hairs stuck out comically as she bobbed to the music in her head. Her pajamas were the farthest thing from sexy. An old jounin shirt that used to belong to Shikamaru until she stole it for herself. The hem was frayed from a fire jutsu attack and the sleeves had holes in it. She curled her toes against the floor, red chipped nail polish looking warm against the kitchen tiles. A large ugly scar stretched out across her visible thigh and she had many others scattered across her hardened skin to match it. She probably hadn't showered yet since she came back from her mission just a few hours ago. There was a smudge of dirt across her collarbone that she probably didn't even realize was there.
Anyone else would think she was a mess of a woman. But she was home to Shikamaru.
She looked up at him as she turned to put the toasts on the table, just noticing him. She smiled softly at him and no one else would notice the way her shoulders seemed to relax when he smiled back at her. She stuck her thumb in her mouth to lick away at some stray butter and gestured to the table. "Happy birthday, Shika."
Her voice was like a warm hug and Shikamaru felt himself lose any tension he had. He joined her at the table after kissing her cheek. "Thanks, Sakura."
She grinned at him and started cutting into her eggs. Their mornings were usually quiet, but they were anything but awkward. When they were younger, sometimes Sakura would trail one of her feet up his leg while wearing an innocent smile. But nowadays, she liked to hook her feet around one of his ankles and recline back in her chair while she ate. While he still thought back fondly on those days, he'd be lying if he said he preferred it to this contentment they had now.
No, Sakura didn't make his heart race anymore. She didn't get flustered around him and blush redder than nail polish on her toes. He didn't get goosebumps when her fingers brushed against his and shivers didn't run down his spine from her whispering into his ear. There was more than that between them now.
Because there was something about the way she buttered her toast. How she was the messiest person he knew and left her dirty clothes lying around their room. How she cried every time she read her favorite book. The way she fell into his arms after a mission and could instantly fall asleep. How Ino told him she'd stare longingly at her wedding ring when he was away. How she threw her head back when she laughed like she was still a teenager. The way her hand would automatically reach out for him when they walked.
Everything she did seemed to be comforting just because of the normalcy of it. How she could just smile at him and he'd thinkI'm home. The way his body sagged in relief and a soft smile turned up his lips when he came home and could hear her moving around in the house.
The way he felt about her when they were young, it was something he thought he would always feel. It was intense and demanding. But this, this was something he could never imagine. She was a part of him. It really felt like he shared his life with her and vice versa. Without her, he wouldn't know who he was. She was the best thing about him.
"Are we officially an old married couple now?" He asked her, trying to sound annoyed by the fact but couldn't stop the smile on his face.
She rolled her eyes at him as she picked up her mug. "I wouldn't say forty is old."
Shikamaru cocked at an eyebrow back at her and she giggled into her coffee with a wink. After a pause, she said, "I feel like being an old married couple isn't such a bad thing. Feels like a sort of accomplishment, you know?"
He reached across the table and held her left hand in his, his thumb stroking across the metal on her finger. He agreed in a quiet voice, "Yeah, I know what you mean."
She squeezed his hand back and then said coyly, "Especially since I still seem to have you wrapped around my finger. I heard Choji telling Ino you booked us that hot springs trip I've been wanting to take, even though it's your birthday."
Shikamaru laughed with a shrug. "Anything you would enjoy, I would too."
She raised their hands to her lips and kissed his knuckles, giving him a fond smile. She told him simply, "I love you."
"I love you, too," and with that they went back to their quiet breakfast.
Until Sakura handed him a slice of toast with jam at the corner of her lips. "Toast?"
He bit back a chuckle and took the slice of bread with too much jam and not enough butter.
Yeah, he was pretty sure he could spend his whole life wrapped around her finger.