Wow...I'm really on a roll here:glomps muse: I adore writing Shika and Ino! They are just so much fun! Again, thank you so much for reviewing my other stories! You can review this one too...I won't be mad... :grins:

What's On Your Neck?

"Shika!" Ino hissed, delighting in the sensations that her husband's ministrations were sending down her spine. In the nearly seven months they had been married, Shikamaru had developed a disturbingly insatiable lust for her neck, of all things, and often concentrated most of his efforts there. An evil tactic, since Ino's neck was one of the more sensitive parts of her body, and Shikamaru knew it.

Her eyes narrowed. On the outside, her husband appeared to be a lazy, ineffective bum with no will or drive whatsoever. At one time, this was true. When they were students at the Academy, Shikamaru fell asleep in class and didn't even bother with tests because he claimed that the effort involved in using a pencil was too troublesome. During his Chuunin exam, he willingly handed the victory to his opponent, Temari, saying that he was too tired to finish her off, even though he was clearly the winner. Never mind that he was the only one of his classmates to receive the symbolic vest of an upper-level ninja for his decision that year. He would have happily remained a Chuunin, too, had it not been for Asuma, Shikamaru and Ino's former sensei, convincing the dark haired young man that he had the skill to try for Jounin.

Shikamaru would always be lazy at heart, and there was nothing anyone could do to change that, though not for lack of trying. However, there were some aspects of his life that he pursued with a relentless diligence that was completely out of character. Torturing Ino until she was putty in his hands was one of them. She knew it, and he knew that she knew it, which only made things worse. When she married him, the thought never even crossed her mind that she would have to keep her guard up virtually around the clock. It was Shikamaru, for crying out loud! She figured that she would have to beg him to show affection every now and then, let alone find the energy to make love to her. Naturally, she had been completely and utterly mistaken.

Like most tacticians, Shikamaru did not expose all of his tricks at once, but rather kept some on reserve for different occasions. His store of weapons had become quite large after years of careful observation, which began in their Academy days, and from the day they were married on, he began using them. Quite frankly, he had been more than ready to shed the stoic male image and show her just how much of a drive he really had. Escape, at that point, was impossible. His target was locked, and his resolve set in iron. Even after she picked up on her husband's scheme, Ino resigned herself to the fact that she was doomed. The element of surprise, it seemed, was always on Shikamaru's side. She could never tell when the devious side of his personality would rear its head; it was so...erratic. Sometimes it would lie dormant for weeks, even months, before deciding that it wanted to play again.

Shikamaru took an almost childlike delight in his wife's reactions to his little game, the current moment being no different. She had been sitting comfortably in her favorite armchair in the living room, a book in her hands and a fire burning in the hearth, completely oblivious to anything and everything around her. She had unknowingly left herself open to attack, and Shikamaru took advantage of it. Ever so quietly, he knelt next to the chair, surveying his options. Almost feeling the horns sprout from his head, he noted that her neck was exposed, and grinned. If there was one thing that could drive him mad, it was Ino's long, smooth, glorious neck. Gotcha.

The heroine in Ino's book had been just about to kick her cheating boyfriend to the curb when Shikamaru took the liberty of deciding that Ino was finished reading for the night. Taking the book out of her hands, he set it aside and began the insistent barrage of kisses to her neck that usually reduced her to a fawning little girl. It was working.

"Shika!" She hissed again, desperately trying not to enjoy the feeling of his warm mouth against her skin. She had to be at the flower shop early the next morning, and, if she let this go any further, there was no way that she would get to bed at a decent hour. "Come on! I need to—oh my." Shikamaru had just trailed his kisses up her neck and stopped at the spot right beneath her ear. Damn you! She thought, a shudder coursing through her frame. Before he could do any more damage, she mustered up the last of her willpower. "Shika, stop. Please? You know I have to work tomorrow."

Shikamaru mentally smiled. He had just the right trump card for this situation. Looking at her with huge, puppy-dog eyes, he said in a tiny voice, "I may get called off on a mission soon, and then I won't know when I'll get to see you again."

Ino's eyebrow began to twitch. Of all the nasty, low down things to do, this was definitely one of the worst. Why you little...She leaned forward until her face was directly in front of his and said menacingly, "You'd better be thankful that I love you so much, otherwise I'd just have to kill you."

"Now why would you ever want to do a thing like that?" Shikamaru asked innocently.

Ino shot him a look that would curdle new milk. "Just keep going, Shikamaru. I dare you."

Biting back laughter, Shikamaru placed a chaste kiss on her pouting lips." I am thankful, trust me." When he was sure she wasn't about to throw things at him, he resumed his earlier task. Ino sighed, and let him. It was pointless to put up a fight now. Too...troublesome...

Ino woke to the persistent beep of her alarm clock. She didn't even remember setting it the night before, and figured that Shikamaru must have done it for her. It was the least he could do, all things considered. Glancing over at his side of the bed, she saw that he was still fast asleep, his arms and legs splayed out and tangled in the covers, mouth slightly open. Grinning, she leaned down, kissed his forehead, and proceeded to the bathroom to take a shower. Though it was tempting to just tie her hair up and go to work as she was, there was no way she could get away with it, especially after last night's...activities.

When she reached the bathroom, Ino bypassed the mirror and went directly for the shower. She already had a pretty good idea of what she'd look like, and would rather scrutinize her clean self as opposed to her sticky, sexed self. The water felt blissfully warm as it ran down her body, and she stayed in the shower for a bit longer than was really necessary. There was a foggy mist hovering in the bathroom when she finished, so she opened the door to air it out, wrapping a towel around her hair. Now for the mirror. She wiped a patch clean of mist and peered at herself, happy with what she saw. Her skin had a nice, healthy glow from the shower, though she was sure that the lovemaking probably had something to do with it as well. About to walk back to the bedroom to search for an outfit, she stopped short. Getting up close to the mirror, she turned her head to the side...and there it was.

Her jaw went slack. She blinked once, and then again, thinking that if she did it enough, it would go away. But lo and behold, it was still there, sticking out like a sore thumb. "SHIT!" She screeched, her mouth working enough to produce sound. "This is NOT happening! Oh Kami help me, I'm going to MURDER him!" Barely able to contain her rage, she marched into her bedroom, still stark naked, and shook her husband roughly awake.

"LOOK AT WHAT YOU DID!" She yelled, pointing at the thing that marred her otherwise flawless porcelain skin. "LOOK AT IT!"

Shikamaru was so startled that he could do nothing but what she told him to, his sleepy eyes going wide. "Holy shit," he murmured, awed in spite of himself. When Ino glared at him, he had the decency to look sheepish.

"I'm sorry! I didn't mean to, honestly! You do believe me, don't you?"

"I told you this would happen! I told you! But did you listen? OF COURSE NOT!" She flung open the door to her walk-in closet and began tearing it apart, looking for a sweater with a turtleneck high enough to, still fuming as she did so. "Oh, I am so pissed at you right now, I could spit nails! I'm NEVER going to hear the end of this!"

The dark haired Jounin winced. He'd faced more than a few nasty adversaries in his life, but none of them compared to his wife in a rage. This is bad. Ino emerged from the closet, sweater in hand, and kicked the door closed, the sound reverberating through the room ominously. Ino took a few deep breaths, calming herself. She smiled sweetly at Shikamaru, and he shrank beneath her gaze. She began dressing herself, looking back over her shoulder to glare at him every once in a while. He remained immobile.

Once dressed, she turned to face him. "Can you see anything?"

The sweater left not even an inch of skin exposed. He shook his head. "Nothing."

"Good." With that, she left the bedroom, and he heard the steady hum of her blow dryer. Shikamaru blinked. He wasn't sure what was more frightening, Ino screaming at him, or her sudden change in countenance. Surely she couldn't have forgiven him already? The blow dryer ceased, and Ino breezed in again, this time to grab her jacket and purse. "I should be back around five," She said, and headed off. "Oh, and I'm still mad at you, so don't think you're off the hook just yet!"

"Wonderful," Shikamaru said to himself, before he drifted back to sleep. It was too much work to get anxious over what he had no control over, anyway.

As luck would have it, the flower shop was bursting with customers, much to Ino's chagrin. She was convinced that every one of them could somehow see through the fabric covering the thing on her neck and were secretly laughing at her. She'd kept her hair down as an extra precaution today as well, but it still didn't make her feel any better about the whole situation. At least none of her friends had wandered in... With a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach, Ino heard the tinkle of the little bell above the door to the shop, and saw none other than Sakura and Hinata, two of her closest friends. That was it. Her cover would be completely blown to smithereens. She could never keep anything from the pair of them...well, except for some of the more intimate details of her physical relationship with Shika...but everything else was fair game, including...the thing.

Already, they were whispering, looking pointedly at Ino and then at each other, broad grins on their faces. It was as if they had some sixth sense in detecting when Ino was trying to hide something, and she felt the sweat begin to bead on her forehead. It wasn't fair at all. Hinata especially never used to be this way, but she had undergone some drastic changes since their childhood days, shucking off the timidity that held her back from excelling like a snake sheds its skin. She had become, more or less, a total knockout, cutting a path through the hearts of plenty of the young men of the Leaf before settling down with Kiba. Her grin was positively wolfish as she advanced upon Ino, Sakura close behind her.

"Well, well, well, what have we here?" Hinata said evilly. She looked to Sakura. "Her hair is always up, is it not? And she gave up on wearing those silly turtlenecks of hers a while ago, yet the style has been resurrected today. I think something's up, don't you?"

"Oh yes," Sakura replied just as evilly. She leaned across the counter, and said in a voice only meant to be heard by the three of them, "I think someone received a gift last night."

Ino's face blanched. "No I did not!" She said all too quickly, more than giving herself away.

"Oooo!" Hinata squealed. "Let's see it!"

"WHAT?" Ino screeched. She blushed when heads turned in her direction. That had come out a bit too loud. More quietly, she continued. "You absolutely cannot see it! Not here!"

"HA!" Sakura smacked her hand against the counter in triumph. "You do have a hickey!"

Realizing her folly, Ino's jaw opened and closed, and she hung her head. "I hate both of you, just so you know."

Hinata laughed merrily. "Yes, and we love you, too. Now come on and let us see it!"

Oh this is hopeless. Ino glanced around nervously, making sure that no one else was watching, and motioned them forward, peeling back the edge of the turtleneck just enough for them to get a quick look.

Sakura whistled. "Damn girl! Shikamaru did that?"

"That has to be the biggest hickey I've ever seen in my life," Hinata added, impressed.

"Oh just rub it in why don't you. Thanks awfully. Now, is there a reason you two came in here, or is your purpose in life just to torture me?"

Smiling, Sakura replied, "We've always tortured each other, Ino. I don't see why you're acting so surprised. But besides that, we wanted to know if you're free on Saturday for dinner and pool with the boys and us. Your hickey can come too, if it wants."

Ino forced a laugh between clenched teeth. "Very cute, you little bitch."

Sakura shrugged. "Minor character flaw. So, are you coming or what?"

"I suppose so."

"Fantastic." She linked her arm through Hinata's, and the demonic pair saluted her together. "Sayonara, oh queen of hickeydom." With that, they scampered out, laughing hysterically.

The rest of the day went off without a hitch. When she returned home that evening, a wonderful smell invaded her senses. Shikamaru had made her dinner as a peace offering. Not only that, but he cleaned. The floors were spotless, the furniture dusted... he even tidied up her closet that she'd destroyed looking for the sweater. Wow. He must really be sorry. He hates cleaning. It was impossible for her to stay mad at him now.
Entering the dining room, she found Shikamaru waiting for her, the table all set and laden with food. She couldn't keep the smile from her face. Pulling out a chair for her, Shikamaru took her hand and kissed it.

"Are you still mad at me?"

"Of course not," she replied, her eyes misting over. He could be so damn sweet sometimes it made her sick.

I really am a horrible person, Shikamaru thought to himself, grinning madly. Yet again, he had turned what could have been a serious fiasco to his advantage, avoiding the punishment that was rightfully his. He couldn't help but be proud of the love bite that he branded Ino with, however. Most impressive, Shikamaru. You really outdid yourself this time.

"You do realize that I let you get away with murder," Ino said primly, taking a sip of her favorite red wine.


Ino sighed. Another victory for Shikamaru. "I can see this mode of conversation is pointless."

Shikamaru winked at her impishly. "Of course it is."

She sighed again. "Just promise me something, would you?"

"Anything...within reason, of course."

"The next time you decide to be frisky, focus on something a little less noticeable, please. Hinata and Sakura were in the store today, and they gave me hell."

Shikamaru raised an eyebrow, filing away what Ino said for future reference. He was sure she didn't realize how many doors she had just opened in those few words, and he planned on throwing them back in her face if she protested later. Blackmail could be such a fun sport.
"Ino, my dear, you've got yourself a promise."