Instead of finishing my other fic, I decided to write this because I usually end up forgetting whatever I don't write down immediately. *SIGHS* I really should've spent the time to do my hw and study for my tests though. Once again, Naruto still doesn't belong to me. Otanoshimi ni

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Ch. 1 She Thinks He Thinks

They've been married for a few months now and although she loves him with every fiber of her being, she can't help but feel unappreciated. Shikamaru treats her no differently now compared to the time before they married. Although that might sound like good news to most people, those people who experienced a period of passionate courting from their beloved but end up having that passion diminished by marriage, it was the opposite with Ino. Shikamaru had never bothered with romancing her. They never really dated either, since they were almost always together anyways, him being her teammate and only real friend other than Chouji.

She had hoped marriage would bring out the Romeo in him, but Shikamaru is Shikamaru. He still acts like the lazy sloth he is and treats her with what seems to be casual indifference most of the time, punctuated by brief periods of emotional breakthrough. How did a man who always seems to be on the brink of hibernation become a jounin anyways? She decided his jounin status must be accredited to the violent encouragement from her and her mother-in-law.

Ino supposed that she should be glad he even managed to propose to her at all. She was and still is surprised that he proposed on his own. Ino had always assumed Shikamaru wouldn't marry, unless of course, some bossy girl yelled at him enough times to make him give in. So why would he pop the question without any prompting on her part?
Ino can't help but feel a bit insecure when she contemplates his possible reasons behind the proposal. Shikamaru is a calculating guy with an alert mind despite his sluggish mannerism. She wonders if he proposed because as the only child, he is obligated to continue the Nara clan so that Konoha's deer would be tended to for yet another generation. He might have picked her out of all the kunoichi due to a simple matter of convenience. Other than Chouji, Ino is his only other close friend. She was and still is, his only female friend although she was recently upgraded to wife. Ino also understands his personality because they've been together since childhood. He might have thought the process of familiarizing another girl to his quirks would be too much trouble.

Shikamaru knows that although she yells at him constantly, she generally tolerates his ways. Besides, the chances of her agreeing to marry him is significantly higher than any other woman of this village and Shikamaru is too lazy to do something as "troublesome" as finding a mate outside of the Konoha village. Ino sometimes worries that Shikamaru had simply done a little weighing of the pros and cons in that brilliant mind of his and frankly decided she was the easiest way to go.

Shikamaru's marriage proposal crushed her inner romantic self. Like most people, she sometimes indulged herself with secret romantic fantasies. It wasn't that she wanted Shikamaru to ride up to her on a white horse wearing a suit of armor or that she expected him to whisk her away to a paradise of erotic intrigue, it was that she thought he could have tried a little harder.

His proposal took place on an average day. She, Chouji, and Shikamaru were on their way to the B.B.Q. place when Sasuke hurried by with a rabidly lustful Sakura on his tail. Just to piss Sakura off and to get revenge on her for throwing away their friendship for a guy who didn't even want her, Ino had decided to bother Sasuke too.

Just when Ino was about to pounce on him, her body froze stiffly and turned around and away from Sasuke. Ino was caged within her own body as her legs started to move without her volition. She had fought the entire way, struggling with her own muscles for dominance as her legs carried her to a dark alley. Just when she was about to really panic, she saw Shikamaru with the corner of her eyes, walking along with her just a little bit behind her at her left side. That was when she realized that for the first time, Shikamaru had used his jutsu on her.

Her body may have been bound by his jutsu but she was so enraged at the time that her eyelids wouldn't stop twitching and her eyes were filled with the promises of pain. After they had walked into the alley, Shikamaru turned his body and she turned with him so that they faced each other. That was when he released kagemane and gently pushed her back against a wall. All he said to her was, "Ke...this is so mendokusee...Ino, I really really care about you. Would you like to join the Nara family?"

It wasn't what she had dreamed of in her younger days, but, she found herself nodding misty eyed at him. Ino still doesn't quite understand exactly why she had agreed to marry him at the time because it was before she realized how in love with him she is. Maybe it was the blush on his cheeks, or the way he struggled to keep his grumpy expression, or how he couldn't quite get himself to look her in the eyes in spite of his obvious effort to do so. Whatever the reason may have been, she had said yes.

Now that she really thought about it, maybe she is being too harsh on Shikamaru. He isn't completely passionless and platonic. She remembers that on their wedding night, he had asked her so many times about whether or not she was actually ready that she thought he didn't want to get physically intimate with her. While he was babbling something about how social customs shouldn't compel women to have sex before they're ready on some night that's supposed to be significant, Ino had already wriggled into bed. That was when he stopped talking and came blushingly to bed also.

He had kissed her. She had kissed him. Then they had kissed each other. With each kiss, Shikamaru shed some of his inhibition. Before she knew it, Shikamaru was on her heavily with a sense of urgency she didn't know he could possess. And even though that was their first time, the awkwardness faded as the night progressed.

Ino became aware of the fact that she is blushing from the memory of Shikamaru's caresses from that night's heated lovemaking and quickly poured herself a glass of cool water. "Iyada..." she covers her face in embarrassment even though she's the only one in the kitchen. Her body grew warm at the remembrance of the feel of Shikamaru in her. There was the sound of a door creaking open and then slamming shut.

"Tadaima" the object of her affection grunted as he shuffles into the meticulously clean kitchen. He reaches for the glass of water she just poured but stopped midway to stare at her.

"What?!", Ino snaps out of embarrassment. She knows her face is still a deep crimson.

An indistinguishable look slipped over Shikamaru's face like a mask.

"I'm going to take a bath", he said moodily. His thirst forgotten, he left the glass of water behind and trudges up the stairs.

Ino is left alone in the kitchen in a state of confusion until she happens to look down and notices the mud on her shiny tile floor. Apparently, Shikamaru was too lazy to take off his boots again.

"Shikamaru no baka!! What *IS* that man thinking anyways?!"

Ino grouchily grabs a few paper towels.

Shikamaru kneads his bare shoulders in vain. His muscles simply refuse to relax and his entire frame is still tense in his mission mode. He let hot water run on full blast but the bathtub is only half filled.

"Mendokusee~", he sighs in frustration.

Shikamaru starts to rub the muscles in his arms but the pain he felt in them didn't abate. He couldn't help but sigh at himself again. If he hadn't ticked Ino off by walking mud into the house, it would be her hands massaging his tired body. In cases such as this, only Ino can bring comfort to his sore flesh. Being a jounin is too hard a work. He would've been perfectly happy to be a plain, low-level ninja for the rest of his life. Hell, he wouldn't even be a ninja if it weren't his only way to earn his meals.

It has been so long since he's had the time to laze about and admire the clouds, and even more so, the sky. On days when the clouds are nice, the sky is usually a clear calming blue. Although Shikamaru likes clouds, cloud watching was actually a code term for sky watching. He knows the bright blue sky of a summer's day is the closest blue in existence to the color of Ino's eyes. But anyways, this isn't the time to contemplate that. His mind is more preoccupied with the state Ino was in when he got home.

He remembers how her face glowed with a rosy flush and her lips, a delicious red. That expression on her face triggered something in him because.......wasn't that the look she gets when they're making love? Shikamaru trusts Ino. He knows she would never and is not the type who cheats. Besides, he sensed no lingering foreign chakra when he got home. That means only one thing. Ino was *thinking* about someone. He had reacted brusquely to her because Shikamaru knew 'that someone' was probably not him. He understands that Ino has a right to her own fantasies even though she's married to him but he is no saint. Logically, he knows she is his, but, his irrational male side caused dark and unnamed emotions to crawl within him.

He moves stiffly, feeling each kink and ache of his body, until he gets to the Sink. Shikamaru reaches out to the mirror, which was above that sink and wiped the fog off it with an arm. It left ugly smears of oil and dirt on the mirror but he didn't care. Shikamaru put his hands on the edge of the sink and leaned forward.

"Jealousy is an ugly thing...." He said to his own reflection.

He tries not to get angry over the thought that someone else can turn his Ino on but even now, his mood is still foul. He never thought about anyone other than Ino that way. Before he became interested in girls, Ino was his friend, troublesome, but still a friend. Then, when he started to notice curves, his devotion was entirely reserved for her.

What if Ino still thought about Sasuke. What if she is still in love with that Uchiha yarou. What if.... what if she only married him because Uchiha was openly gay and in love with Naruto? Maybe she replaced him with Sasuke in her mind whenever they're physically intimate. What if, in Ino's mind, it was Sasuke with her on their wedding night instead of him? What if...what if.....why are his hands in pain?

Shikamaru looks down to see his knuckles white from gripping the bathroom sink too tightly. Pieces of the sink crumbled when the cracks and fissures under his hands widened.

"Uso....." his right eye twitches, "maybe I can get it replaced before Ino notices."

Shikamaru carefully removes his hands from the sink and kicks his jounin vest on the floor out from under the crumbling sink. He slides off his pants tiredly. By now, the tub is filled with the adequate level of hot inviting water. He is about to get into the tub when he suddenly changes his mind. No matter how bone tired he is right now, Shikamaru decides that he'd better toss his clothes into the dirty laundry basket. Suppressing a groan, he bends down and gathers his grubby outfit into his arms.

'I'm so whipped. Give me a few more weeks of this marriage thing and I'll become my dad' he thinks glumly, 'oh well', he finishes the thought with a mental shrug. Antagonizing Ino never did him any good

Shikamaru opens the bathroom door and walks out comfortably into the hallway where the laundry basket is located because he assumed Ino is still downstairs. And while it rarely happens, it is not impossible. Shikamaru had miscalculated.

Ino stood in the hallway wide-eyed and red-faced. Shikamaru feels a slow burn developing on his face. The proof of his embarrassment increases steadily in intensity until even the back of his neck is blushing.

Ino makes an honorable effort at pretending to be unaffected by his nudity but Shikamaru knows better. Neither of them had any experience with the opposite sex before they married each other. They also haven't had enough time to become fully acquainted with each other's bodies. Therefore, self- conscious shyness, when either of them is in a vulnerable state of undress is unavoidable, until, a long period of domesticity dissolves whatever is left of their reservations.

Ino's eyes avoid his body and he manages to win against the reflexive urge to cover up his groin. He quickly tosses his clothes into the basket and strides back into the bathroom, closing the door softly behind him. As he climbs into the tub, Shikamaru thinks he hears Ino's giggles.

"Ke....women...mendokusee"

He slides down into the tub until even his head is submerged under the water.

'Of all the women to fall in love with I end up falling for the most troublesome one', Shikamaru mentally laments.

The bathwater bubbled with his defeated sigh.

TBC (when I feel like it) +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ I don't like to write but I was attacked by a particularly bossy muse today and wrote this fic in a day then forced a friend to read it. Thanks for being a good friend Fi-chan. This is a lot of material to read, especially for someone who isn't a rabid Inoshika fan such as myself.