Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, or Shikamaru. This T-shirt I'm wearing isn't even mine either...uh oh...
It was a quiet mid-morning at the office, and Nara Shikamaru sat at his desk, contentedly occupied with opening his mail. In contrast to the piles of perfume-scented, indecently worded notes, invitations and fan mail coloured in every shade of pink that he had been receiving over the course of the past few weeks, today there were only a few advertising pamphlets, a leave of absence request or two, and a small flat package wrapped in brown paper.
With deft fingers, he removed the drab covering to reveal a signed copy of anIcha Icha Paradise Limited Edition that included two extra chapters which hadn't made it past the censor in the widely distributed version. Shikamaru raised an eyebrow as he flipped through it then grinned at the message elegantly brush-stroked onto a piece of paper tucked inside the dust jacket.
For the man who provided the inspiration for Icha Icha Fangirls and its sidestory, Kunoichi Katfights: Illustrated. To be released next spring. (Don't get your ponytail in a knot, kid, I'll use pseudonyms)
"Now there's a Legendary Sannin for you." The pony-tailed ninja chuckled softly. What other shinobi could take on a horde of lust-crazed fangirls and live to tell, let alone write a best-selling novel about it?
Thanks to the efforts of the mighty Toad Hermit, in combination with Shikamaru's own self-revelatory speech to the women, everything had gone back to normal, and just two days ago, ANBU had broken into his apartment and left almost undetectable signs of having filled in holes in his bathroom wall; clearly, Sneak Peek Productions had decided to find a new leading man.
There was a knock at the door. Shikamaru quickly bundled Jiraiya's gift back into its wrapping and shoved it into a convenient desk drawer. Maybe he could keep it up his sleeve to bribe Hatake Kakashi the next time he needed the Copy-nin to babysit a new chuunin squad.
He was surprised to see none other than Haruno Sakura walk into his office, leaving the door partially open behind her. She was poised and smiling as usual, but there seemed to be an air of hesitation around her which Shikamaru couldn't quite fathom. Inexplicably, he began to feel nervous.
"Good morning Shikamaru."
"Hi Sakura, what are you doing here?" Why the hell did I say that!? It sounds like I want her to leave!
"Er, I mean, what can I do for you?" Yeah, better.
"Well, Tsunade-shishou and I have been researching this eye strengthening technique, and she suggested I try it out on uh, you, so, if you have a minute, I mean, if you're not busy…" Sakura trailed off, looking embarrassed.
The pony-tailed jounin looked surprised for a second then nodded. "Sure, I'm wide open."
"Ok then, just sit back and relax for a minute." Sakura dragged an extra chair around the corner of Shikamaru's desk and sat down on it as he swivelled to face her.
Too close, he'll get uncomfortable.
Too close, she'll smell my coffee breath.
Both ninja simultaneously began to shift their chairs back, caught each other's gaze and started to blush furiously.
"Um, right, well I'll just get started then." Still blushing, the pink-haired girl shook her hands from the wrists to loosen up then wriggled her fingers for a few seconds, before laying a hand against each of the shadow-user's temples.
"Sure, yeah, and um, Sakura?" Shikamaru spoke tentatively.
"Yes?" Her eyes were shut, and in his peripheral vision he could see a soft green glow emanating from her hands.
"Thank you for trying to help me out the other day. I know you didn't get there in time, but I appreciate the thought."
Sakura's eyes flew open with surprise. "How on earth did you know about – Ino!"
He grinned. "Yeah, Ino spilled. Told me how you guys showed up with some hideous orange glasses you had stashed away. From her description, they sounded familiar somehow."
Sakura smiled sheepishly, "Well, I was planning to give them to Naruto, but Sasuke threatened my life. Anyway, by the time we got there, all we could see was a pile of fangirls looking violated and outraged, and Jiraiya-sama," she laughed aloud, "whose life I saved by the way."
Shikamaru raised an eyebrow, "No kidding? How did you do that?"
"By stemming the worst nosebleed this town has seen since Tsunade-shishou got drunk and flashed Ebisu-senpai at the Spring Festival last year."
"Yeah, that was quite a gusher."
Eyes closed once more, Sakura shifted her hands for a moment, a slight crease appearing between her eyebrows.
Crap. Did she notice?
Her face cleared, and Shikamaru inwardly sighed with relief. A smile hovering about her lips, she said, "And by the way, you're welcome for the rumour we started as well."
The hovering smile turned into a mischievous smirk. "According to this rumour, you've been out of town on a mission for the last few weeks, and it was Jiraya-sama impersonating you and hitting on girls all this time. Needless to say, I don't think many girls will be going near him or you for the next few months."
The pony-tailed boy couldn't believe his ears. "Sakura, that's pure genius!"
To his astonishment, at these words, her cheeks darkened to a rosy blush, and her hands dropped from his temples quickly.
"Well, you're all done! I've really got to be going now, lots of patients to see, lives to save, you understand." Sakura sprang to her feet, knocking over the chair she had been sitting on. "Sorry!" She made a grab for the chair, but Shikamaru beat her to it and set the chair upright again.
"Don't worry, I've got it."
"Oh ok, right, well, I'll see you later then, Shikamaru," still flustered and trying to ignore the a peculiar sinking feeling in her chest, the pink-haired girl walked to the door. Her hand was turning the knob when Shikamaru spoke from behind her, sounding as if the words had been wrung out of him.
"Listen, Sakura – to say thank you for your help, I was wondering if you'd like to," he hesitated," I mean, if maybe you would –"
There was a knock at the door, and he paused. Sakura didn't move.
Just spit it out, you idiot!
Hand still on the knob, the pink-haired girl turned to face him with a smile.
"I'd love to, Shikamaru. Tonight at 7?"
"Yeah uh –"
He broke off at the sound of another knock, followed by rattling of the door handle. Sakura just smiled.
"I'll come meet you at your office, here."
"Ok, so –"
From outside, a murmur of voices could be heard, and someone started banging on the door again.
"I'll see you later, Shikamaru, so have a nice day!" Still beaming, Sakura released the door knob, then nimbly stepped to one side to avoid being crushed as Naruto burst in, falling on the floor in an orange heap.
"Shikamaru! You have got to get this door fixed! I was trying to get in just now but the door knob was totally frozen up or something – Sakura-chan?" The blonde stopped in the midst of his rant and blinked in surprise.
"Good morning Naruto, Sasuke-kun," she smiled at Sasuke as he entered the room with a folder tucked under one arm.
"Sakura," he nodded at her briefly then turned to Shikamaru. "We have mission reports to turn in." He handed over the folder he had been holding. Scrambling into a sitting position, Naruto frowned in thought for a moment.
"Oh yeah!" Brightening, he unzipped his jacket and dug around in the inner pockets, then pulled out a sheaf of paper and tossed it onto the desk in front of him.
"Thanks guys," Shikamaru gave Sakura a wave as she headed out the door, shooting him a wink over her shoulder as she went. He let out a sigh of relief.
She didn't notice. And, I have a date. All according to plan.
"See ya, Shikamaru! We'd love to stay and chat, but we've gotta go train with Hinata-chan!" Naruto called noisily as he followed Sasuke, who muttered, "Do we always have to train with her?" as they walked out the door.
With a nod of acknowledgement, the pony-tailed ninja sat back down in his chair. He removed his glasses and slid them into their case, then tucked them away in the third left-hand drawer of his desk. He looked up at the clock on the opposite wall; first with his left eye shut, then his right eye. Perfect vision, as expected of the Fifth Hokage's healing abilities.
Two days ago…
His eyes were shut, but he could feel a warm tingling behind his eyelids as Tsunade-sama's chakra flowed into him, minutely adjusting and altering something, he wasn't sure what, in his eyeballs. After a few minutes, it stopped, and when he opened his eyes, the Hokage's beautiful face was visible to him in un-blurred detail.
"Well, you shouldn't need these anymore, Shikamaru-kun," she said, holding up his glasses for his inspection.
"Yeah, I guess not, but I think I'll hang on to them for just a bit longer."
"If you like," the Hokage shrugged, handing them to him.
"And Hokage-sama, if you could do me a favour and not tell Sakura that you've fixed my eyesight, I'd really appreciate it."
"Not tell Sakura?" She gave him a fishy look for a long moment. Shikamaru's gaze didn't waver. "Well, alright."
Shikamaru grinned. After Ino had told him about Sakura's attempt to help him, he figured it would only be a matter of time before she thought of using medical ninjutsu. He had waited for over a week, but couldn't refuse when Tsunade had offered to personally heal his eyes two days ago.
He was glad the Hokage had honoured his request and not told Sakura.
This way, she thinks that she helped someone and so it makes her feel better. Typical medic nin.
He was even gladder that she hadn't noticed his eyes had already been in perfect condition. He had been a bit worried about that, but counted on her inexperience with the jutsu and distracting her with small talk to gloss over the fact.
It all went exactly as I planned.
Except, he had to admit, that he hadn't really planned for Sakura's sudden blush when he called her a genius. That had not really been expected. The way his heart had suddenly started pounding and his palms had gone all sweaty hadn't really been in his calculations either.
She's going to come and meet me at 7. A grin spread over Nara Shikamaru's face as he slid down into his chair, getting comfortable for his mid-morning nap.
I guess things don't always end up according to plan.
His eyes slowly slid shut.
Sometimes, they end up even better.
Author's Note: And that's the end. Thank you so much to all the reviewers. It was your encouragement alone that made me see this through to the end! I got a lot requests for pairings, but unfortunately, I never intended for this to be a romance piece. It was actually quite a surprise when people started pointing out ShikaSaku elements, which definitely influenced the direction of the story.
The SasuNaru element was another surprise. I got a few concerned reviews, asking whether or not Sasuke was gay! I think we ALL know the answer to that...haha kidding. I've decided to leave it up to the readers how much yaoi subtext they want to read into it.
Anyway, thanks again for reading!