Title: Clouds

Author: Jasmine Starlight

Universe: Naruto

Rating: …figure it out.

Word Count: 1,009

Spoilers: eh…not that many…up to the 130's I think.

Warnings: romance. Implied smut. Perhaps some fluff toward the end.

Time Started: 03:47 PM 8/29/05

Time Completed: 04:40 PM 8/29/05

Pairing (s): Shikamaru x Neji Chouji x Ino

A/N: I've never written this pairing before; it came to me when I finished A Return To Normalcy, perhaps I can be a yaoi writer after all. I now have upwards of 30 stories posted here. This is a good writing day for me. I hope people will read this.

Dedication: Lala to the power of 2 crack queen

There was a reason that Shikamaru always took to watching clouds instead of worrying about his problems like other people; it was simple, Shikamaru, although capable of solving most problems considered such worries a waste of energy.

Others liked to muse that Shikamaru's efficient conservation of energy was the reason why he hadn't finally gotten together with Temari or Ino.

That was not the reason.

But his mother still liked to nag him about his lack of marriage prospects, albeit it was now over the phone as Shikamaru had long since moved out of his childhood home. Leaving his father to go deaf listening to his mother's complaining.

It wasn't that Shikamaru didn't love his mother; he did or she might have killed him a long time ago, but the relationship that his parents had didn't seem fulfilling enough for him. He didn't want so many responsibilities.

Town gossips liked to use that fact to explain away his lack of girl chasing.

That was not the reason.

All that really mattered to him was his freedom, freedom to watch the clouds, to sleep, to watch the clouds some more, to sleep and to collect his paycheck at the end of the week.

Shikamaru sometimes did not have the strength to care about another person, which really translates into selfishness. But that doesn't matter right now.

Ino likes to flaunt her new relationship in his face to spark jealousy that will maybe motivate him to do something about his life; it doesn't work. But she means well and Shikamaru is now used to her intricate ploys.

He is happy that Chouji finally got the girl, the Akimichi deserved it, and if anyone put up with more crap it was Chouji. And Chouji had the patience to deal with Ino's incessant barking.

They balanced each other out.

But Shikamaru was the only one left outside watching the clouds, even though it is logical that in an odd numbered group someone will always be left out. Logic can't stave off loneliness, though.

Clouds can't carry on conversation at the breakfast table, the cool breeze won't tell you about its day; the dewy grass won't hold you. You can commune with nature but it won't commune back.

That is the lesson that Shikamaru has learned.

Predictably he has learned it the hard way, but will not do anything to change it, he went about his life completing missions and staring at clouds until the sun disappeared. His routine was never subject to change. Not once.

Until one day he had slouched his way toward his favorite meadow to find someone else occupying it. It was too troublesome to find another so he left Hyuuga Neji to do whatever he needed to do, in hope of not having to come across an awkward situation.

But Neji was there the next day, the day after that, and Shikamaru's curiosity was slowly gnawing away at him until one day he finally broke the thick silence that hung between them, "That cloud looks like ramen." He remarked in his usual drawl.

"It does." Neji replied.

And that was how it started, Shikamaru would often stumble upon Neji and occasionally when the silence became unbearable Shikamaru would remark about something that had happened on a mission and Neji would reply and vice versa until they lapsed into silence again.

One night Shikamaru found himself inviting Neji over for dinner, which the boy quietly acquiesced to. His brain was shouting curses at him for doing something so troublesome and for once Shikamaru ignored that voice as he ordered takeout.

When the takeout had been devoured Shikamaru found himself trying to make excuses for Neji to stay longer, before any of them could venture out of his mouth Neji had kissed him.

Of course it would have been troublesome to not kiss back, and the five minutes before they needed air was a strange yet pleasant experience for Shikamaru. Staring into Neji's eyes, which were a non-troublesome color by the way, Shikamaru finally took the initiative and roughly grabbed the older boy's chin and pulled him down for another kiss.

Which set off a course of actions not even Neji's Byakugan could have foreseen, the kisses were now more violent and frantic, the fingers no longer caressing but now pulling, ripping and tearing.

After which Neji remarked, "Maybe it would have been less troublesome to have done this on a bed."

Shikamaru smiled, "We could still do that." He said lazily, as he aimlessly drew circles on Neji's chest, Neji smirked, "Let's."

Shikamaru stood up, calmly straightened his shirt and all but dragged Neji to his bedroom, and Neji discovered where all of Shikamaru's energy went.

The next morning when Shikamaru stole Neji's tea, he realized that maybe effort wasn't so useless after all. "I'm sticky." Neji announced as he swept his hair off his neck.

"As am I." Shikamaru said.

Neji smirked and attacked Shikamaru's next again, "Race you to the shower?"

"It will be less troublesome to take one shower."

The following afternoon Shikamaru and Neji were seen with their arms slung around each other, rather possessively, Shikamaru stepped into the Yamanaka flower shop.

"You can't accuse me of being lazy now." He said in his best I-told-you-so voice to a shocked Ino and a cheerful Chouji, then he flounced out in a very un-Shikamaru like way.