Convenient: Laugh and Grin

A Naruto one-shot: Nara Shikamaru and Yamanaka Ino

Author's jibberish: Uh. Nothing really. Naruto and its characters are not mine.

They had known each other since birth. They actually had their cribs next to each other at the hospital. He was born on the 22nd of September, and she followed a day after. Their fathers, who were in the same three-man-cell during their youth, though it was mighty convenient that one had a son and the other had a daughter. They would study at the same academy and perhaps be put in the same cell. Oh, it made perfect sense. Their parents were under the impression that they were fated.

Apparently, the idea made her positively sick. Maybe because she was harboring feelings for another dark-eyed boy with black spiked hair and brooding tendencies. He thought nothing and said nothing about it.

She, Yamanaka Ino, was too beautiful for her own good. And it annoyed him, Nara Shikamaru, to no end. As they reached past adolescence together, they both became targets. Males adored her and knew Shikamaru was her best friend. They would bombard him and ask him everyday for advice on how to get her attention, or tell him to put in a good word so maybe she would speak with them. At this, Shikamaru did what he wanted to do: turned away and said "no".

He told himself eventually that he'd tell her how he felt. Eventually. He was looking for the most convenient time. But when she came to him and complained on how a certain Uchiha boy is spending too much time with a certain forehead girl, he realized finding the right time was harder than he thought.

But he was always a form of convenience for her. He was there to listen to her vent. Granted, he looked like he wasn't paying attention, but she didn't know that he hung on her every word. Always.

He was also there when the Uchiha boy officially told her off. She was upset, he could tell, but by the end of the evening, Ino has kissed Shikamaru. When she acted like nothing had changed the next morning, Shikamaru raised an eyebrow. It figured. When she needed to complain, he would listen. When she needed to feel wanted, he was willing. When she needed anything, he was there.

"That's what so great about you, Shikamaru. You're always there when I need you."

"Hn." My, how convenient...

Of course, it was the most curious night that one September evening. He was walking back from his meeting when he saw Ino standing outside his apartment building. She stood, staring skyward, rain drenching her clothes, hair and skin. Shikamaru approached her with easy steps, shared the umbrella he was using, and escorted her inside his room. He gave her a change of clothes (his old t-shirt and a pair of shorts) while she hung her soaked-through clothes in his bathroom. He set up some extra beddings on the couch for him to use.

When she emerged from the bathroom, she looked at him curiously. "We've always shared a bed when we were younger."

"I know," he answered. "But…"

"…That was before hormones were an issue."

"I didn't say that."

"Or before body parts grew."

"I didn't say that either."

"You were thinking of them."

When did she get so smart? He waited for her to say something, because it was usually her to start conversations. He waited for her to tell him why she was standing outside his apartment in the pouring rain. What was it that she wanted to say?

But when she said nothing, he just turned off the light in the living room and told her to "Help yourself." He tucked himself in the couch and that was the end of it.

However, he heard her footsteps approach and stop right in front of his couch. She managed to crouch in front of him so that she was eye-level to him. "Hey," she asked.

"Hm?" he kept his eyes closed.

"If I love you, what would you do?"

Slowly, he opened his eyes. He glanced at her briefly, and then resumed to close his eyes. "I'd laugh."

A few moments of silence passed before she said, "Then you should be laughing. Right now. So hard, that you can't breathe."

His eyes opened again and he looked at her, studying her features. Her beautiful, flawless features. Her moon-eyes were set like stone. He had seen that expression before and it shocked Shikamaru. She was serious. "What would you do?"

"If you loved me?"

He nodded.

"I'd smile."

"Then smile," he told her. "Grin."

She kissed him on the lips. It was rather convenient that these lovers started out as best friends.

…el fin