Disclaimer: not mine.

There are only Truths

Night enveloped the deceptively quiet ninja village, and the balmy air licked at the skin of those too uncomfortable to sleep. It was during this warm night the fire country was known for, that a lonely moon watched over two friends.

They were supposed to be asleep; after all, they had a long day finishing some of the missions for the Leaf, and tomorrow Asuma promised the team a vigorous workout. That is, if the trio could get their act together that day and not prematurely end the session to go eat BBQ. Nevertheless, two childhood friends sat upon a roof of a flower shop playing a game whose rules they knew of by heart.

"Eh, Shikamaru, if you could do only one thing for the rest of your life what would it be? Truth."

"Geh, what type of question is that?" a shinobi answered uninterestedly. His toned arms naturally folded behind his pristinely tied mane. Eyes lazy and body scarred but relaxed, he seemed to melt into the shadows: as if it was some type of unnatural home. He'd been on that roof many times. The certain spot somewhat worn from the rest of the concrete. Shikamaru was never one to volunteer to do things that he deemed too much of a bother, but he seemed to always find himself in the same spot every night for a hour or two. Then again, it wasn't as if he volunteered to always lounge there; she would always call him out first; that is, if the weather permitted.

"I don't understand what you mean? And stop always avoiding my questions!" The petite blonde hissed at her friend. Although yelling would have worked well to instill the authoritative persona she wanted to give off, it would have felt wrong to disrupt the calmness of the evening, nor would it have affected the lazy boy beside her.

"Troublesome," came the weak hackneyed reply, "Look Ino, there is no way that I could do one thing for the rest of my life. Conditions change, and plus, what about the necessities? Those are more than one task. Ask another question."

"Jeez, Shika, this is just hypothetical! Now answer the question."

As the kunichi waited for her response, she stole a glance at her ever-present friend. She wondered what he was thinking. She had known that behind that nonchalant scowl was a bright mind, so whatever Shikamaru thought was important to her, although she would never admit to it aloud. Nevertheless, true to her nature Ino was never the patient type. She would leave that to other ninjas, like Choji. They couldn't stay there forever and he was taking such a long time!

"Shika!" the hundred threats never spoken, but felt.

"I want to watch the sky, "was his simple reply, "The clouds during the day and the stars at night."

"I should have known. Fine. Now it's your turn," Ino resigned herself to be content with his brief answer. If that was all he wanted to say then that was all she was going to get. While not as smart as the astute man beside her, she was sharp enough to let his lack of detail to her question pass; he would just say that it was too troublesome to explain and that she probably wouldn't understand anyway. So, she let it go. Just this once.

Silence, and then...

"Do I have to?"

"YES!" her thinning patience or lack there of, flamed.

"Ok. Now your turn again."

"WHAT?!?" her frustration exploded and the girl demonstrated her lung capacity. Ino quickly capped her mouth, hoping that her little outburst would not wake anyone in close proximity.

Silence again, then...

"You lazy idiot! That doesn't count! That's not how you play the game and you know it! That's not a valid question! How dare you bait me into...into that trick of yours! This is the Truth Game! Only meaningful questions! You know life, love, and all that other stuff..."

When it seemed like she was out of air, Ino produced another feat of the voice, by continuing to rally off examples of proper game questions, along with acceptable answers. All the while increasing her heatedness, and forgetting the calm that she tried to earlier preserve.

In the meantime, the young man continued to stare at the moon. The overcast sky preventing him from connecting the dots, or stars. He didn't need to listen to her banter. He knew the rules. His capacity to store knowledge was immense and so he only half listened. He's spent many nights on this roof. He knew the rules. He just didn't have a question.

Shortly after Konoha was able to acquire some sense of peace from the threat of Orochimaru, the two had started this game of theirs. At that time, it was used to talk to someone about... well, about "life, love and all that other stuff." mainly Ino used it to express her desire for a closer relationship with Sakura. Then she used it to tell about her crush on Sasuke, but it seemed that over the years the frequency at which Shikamaru heard the prodigy's name, lessened. Never fully disappearing, but not as important. The game was really for her piece of mind, and the quick-minded Shikamaru, wisely asked the right questions. He asked the questions he knew she wanted him to ask but would never say. And so, as the rules dictated she had to answer each truthfully. Thus, the kunichi did not carry the burden of her fears by herself and her dreams could be shared and not locked away.

"... and more than one question can be asked during one turn, a two part question, as long as it's connected to the first question, for example..." Ino rattled on, but quickly noticed that her friend just seemed to not care. "Are you listening to me?" Not expecting an answer, she took a breath and continued. "Fine. Fine! I don't even know why I still ask you to come here. What"

"Why do you still call me here Ino?" Shikamaru finally took his gaze away from the moon. Eyes the color of the darkest of night faced blue orbs that reflected the sky in which his favorite clouds would float in. "Truth."

And it seemed the game was not yet through.

Silence. It stayed that way, as the minutes continued to pass. Their normal window of time together, increasing. Never before had they used the game to explore truths that were linked to "them" and their gradual closeness over the years. It was an unmentionable subject, but never part of the rules. Shikamaru's question, though foreign was fair.

And for once in the many long years, Ino wasn't able to give him an answer. And this annoyed her. She prided herself in mastering her own game. There was no hypothetical situation too hard to fathom, and no truth she wouldn't own up to. Inner secrets were always told if asked. After all, she trusted Shikamaru. She trusted him to be her best friend, one that was closer to her heart than Sakura. He's always been the friend that was always there...that's it!

As a breeze kissed the rooftop, Ino's answer was whispered. "Because you're my best friend."

A lie. A partial lie. No. A half-truth.

All the same, the first rule of the game was finally broken.

An awkward silence.

If it were a true exchange between friends, just friends, the awkwardness would not have been an issue. If they hadn't lived their lives parallel to one another, with each other, the silence would not have been so deafening.

Accepting her answer, Shikamaru tore his gaze from hers. He's a smart man, one of the most intelligent the village has ever known, but that doesn't mean that he wasn't susceptible to the irrationalities that accompanied the blossoming of love. It was gradual. Unexpected. Unwanted. At least not with Ino. She could never fit in his dream. No matter however many times he ran the scenarios in his strategic mind, his future with Ino would not be the simple life he wanted. Not because she wasn't average looking, or that he felt that she would birth him a son first, but because... because...

And try as he might, Shikamaru wasn't sure anymore. It seemed the fates have decided that Shikamaru would finally experience uncertainty. And that annoyed him. He wasn't able to contemplate this unnerving realization, because Ino had decided to speak. The game was still in motion and it was her turn.

"Shikamaru," her voice still soft, "Do you love me?"

Not one to beat around the bush, Ino had set of her own taboo. He started it first, she reasoned.


It was simple. The truth. The full truth, but only he would know its true meaning and she could take it as she will. Plus her turn was up anyway. By tomorrow, a different game would be played; a game that they were more used to.

"Look, it's almost morning. I'm heading out. I still want some rest before"


Shikamaru turned to her not knowing what to expect. He thought maybe tears. To him all women always end up in tears one way or another. But as the true gentleman he is he would hope to rarely in his life bring tears to the eyes of a lady; if luck was on his side, never. But Shikamaru was a by the facts guy. He'd leave luck to other ninjas, like Tsunade-sama.

"Two part question," was the steady voice that greeted him. No tears. Standing to her full height, she closed the gap between them. "As your best friend, a sister you never had, or your one precious person? Truth."

Shikamaru had no time to answer though, as her index finder, a bit callused from kunai and shriken use, was placed upon his lips.

"It's ok," she said. Her determination that had helped her through the years, presented itself again. "You don't have to answer. I already lost the game. I call you here because I love you."


Author's note: um... not much to say. First fic. Please be kind. SHIKA/INO rocks!hehe