I don't own Naruto, whoever does is doing a great job keeping the story entertaining.

It was about 6:00 in the evening, when Yamanaka Ino finally closed up shop.  She kept looking to the door all day, as if expecting a certain something or someone to walk in.

He should be back by now.  He's been gone for so long, he should be back.  Ino thought as she placed plastic covers over the flowers in the shop.  She had been watching the shop for the past couple of weeks.  Her mother had surgery on her foot, so all she could do was lie in bed with a cast.  Her father had been in and out, going to missions, and running errands for his wife.

The bell above the door rang, as it swung open.  Ino looked up and saw her friend, Sakura standing by the door with a basket of fruit in her hands.  "Hey Ino-pig, aren't you supposed to be getting home now?"  She said with a smile.  Ino and Sakura had since mended their friendship, ever since the Chuunin exams 12 years ago.  After their fight in the preliminary round of the exam had grown into a mutual respect between the two.  Ino since knew that Sakura was more deserving of Sasuke than she ever will be.  But that never stopped her constant teasing. 

"I'm just closing up, getting ready to go.  What's with the basket, Forehead?" asked Ino.

"They're for your mother, my mom told me to bring it by, and wish her well on her recovery." replied Sakura.

"That was nice of you."  Ino went and took the basket upstairs, a few minutes later, came back down.  She noticed that her long time friend and team mate Chouji was talking to Sakura.

"My mother sends her gratitude.  Hey Chouji, you ready?"  Ino picked up her sweater, and walked toward the two.

When they were outside, Sakura looked at Ino, worry in her eyes.  "Are you okay?  You seem a little distant.  He hasn't come back yet, has he?"

"No.  He should be back at any time.  His mission was supposed to take only a year.  It's been about a year and a month.  Must've taken a little longer"  Ino tried to fight back tears, as she gave her friend a half-hearted smile.  "He's coming.  Naruto-kun and Tsunade-sama expects him back at any moment."  Sakura reassured her as she gave her a hug.  "See you later."  Sakura walked away toward her home.

Chouji finished the bag of chips he was eating, and looked at Ino.  "She's right, he'll be here at any moment.  Come on, it's getting late."  Ino and Chouji started walking to the direction of her home in silence. 


"When are you coming back, again?"  Ino asked, hoping to stall a little bit longer.  She hated to know that her boyfriend was going to gone for a year.  Shikamaru looked at her with a look.  She knew that answer to that, she's asked him a hundred times already.

They had been team mates in the beginning.  After he was promoted to Chuunin, she was especially happy for him.  He had always been smart.  Of course, she was little jealous, considering that she was the team leader, she always wanted to be the team leader.  He had beat her to it. 

His first mission was to get Sasuke back.  Shikamaru purposely didn't tell her about it, in fear that she would be too stubborn to talk out of going.  He already imagined the dangers they were going to get into, and he didn't want Ino to get hurt.  He always protected her.  Sure they fought all the time, and she was seen as "troublesome" in his eyes, but he still watched over her.  When the team got back from the mission, it had been hard for Ino.  Neji was in Intensive Care for great loss of blood from his battle.  Kiba had lost a substantial amount too, so he was in the hospital for a week, recovering, with his faithful dog, Akamaru by his side.  Chouji had been worse.  He was in a coma for a month and half.  It was said that he wouldn't make it, and Shikamaru was torn.  He was his best friend.  The moment Chouji woke up, had been a day of joy among the team.

Since then, Team 10 had been training hard.  Shikamaru would be out some days with his father, learning new techniques, or out on a mission. 

Ino and Shikamaru had grown to respect each other more and more.  That respect grew into a fondness they had for each other.  The eventually it grew into a love for one another.

"I have to go now, Ino, I really can't be late."  Shikamaru looked at her with sadness in his eyes.

"Then leave your pillow here." Ino responded with a sly smile on her face.  "Excuse me?  What do you need my pillow for?"  Confusion had worked it way across the Jounin's face.  "If you leave your pillow, then when you get back, the first thing you want to do is sleep, and you can't sleep without your pillow.  So you'd have to come see me first before you go anywhere else.  I know you so well, if it weren't that way, you'd come see me the next day, not as soon as you got back."  Ino explained.

Shikamaru kissed her gently on her forehead, wrapped her in his arms and held her tight.  They both didn't want to let go, wishing time would just stand still for just one more moment.  He kissed her, and let go.  "I'll be coming back to get another kiss from you, and my pillow."  With that, he was gone.

You better come back to me, lazy.

End Flashback

"Thank you for walking me to my home, Chouji, you really don't have to go through the trouble."  Ino and Chouji reached the door to her apartment. Ever since Shikamaru had left, Chouji had taken the responsibility of walking Ino to the shop early in the morning, and walking her home in the evening.  Ino argued with him, saying she was a ninja and able to handle herself.  Chouji pointed out, ninja or not, it's not appropriate to let her walk alone so early or so late.  It was his job to watch over her.  Everyday, Ino told him the same thing, but he would not take "no" for an answer.  "My pleasure, it's a good walk.  Take care, I'll see you tomorrow morning."  He waved as Ino walked in her room.

He's such a good guy.

Chapter 2 Coming.

Please read and review.  Trying to make it enjoyful for all, constructive criticism is always welcomed.  Thanks.