I. Am. So completely floored by the responses I've been getting for this fic. Really. This has been up for a while and I'm still getting reviews and requests for a continuation. Well... I don't know about a continuation; believe me, I've tried thinking of ways to make this a two-shot, but my brain is giving me zilch. So sorry folks, I'm afraid this will forever remain a one-shot. Feel free to check up on me from time to time, though. I don't think I'm done with ShikaTen just yet.
Special mentions to Sonnie's Sea of Sand, which led me to believe in the possibility of ShikaTen.
Disclaimer: Vague situation belongs to me. Fluff belongs toShikamaru and Tenten. Shikamaru and Tenten belong to Masashi Kishimoto
He just told her one day, right out of the blue, in the simple, straight-to-the-point manner that was his style.
"Tenten, I think I like you." Pause. "A lot."
They had been strolling down the streets of Konoha Village when she stopped and stared at his back, uncomprehending.
He stopped too, and turned to study how her face closed in on itself, as if to protect its master as she tried to make out what he had said. Inevitable, that's what it was - that small wrinkle to her brow that professed both confusion and wariness.
"Do you need me to say it again?"
His companion shook her head. "Wait," she said, holding up a hand to her forehead. Her eyes bore holes into her palms as she digested his words. "You…like me?"
He sighed, thinking for all the world how utterly troublesome – yet undeniably necessary – the situation had become. "Yeah."
She looked up and they locked gazes – hers scrutinizing, his calm.
"Don't ask me how or why," he said, cutting to the chase as always, in order to avoid delving into long, horrid explanations that would only waste his time and be a cause for further discomfort. "I don't know. It just happened."
His eyes were flat bored, but something like determination flashed beneath them.
"I won't ask you to return my feelings. I just wanted you to know."
(We might as well get over this awkwardness first.)
Her gaze, then, is one of wonderment. "Wow, Shikamaru," she began, uncertain of how to continue. She twiddled her thumbs, looking anywhere but at him. "I never expected– "
"This? Yeah, me neither." He spoke as if it was something that bothered him greatly. When she jerked around to look at him, he knew that it wasn't because of his tone. It was just uncharacteristic of him to interrupt a person like that.
(Ugh. I'm getting too worked up over this.)
He 'Tch'-ed and shoved his hands into his pockets, glaring at the sky. "I don't get it at all," he said, trying to keep the whine that threatened to enter his tone. "One moment, I'm okay with hanging out with you, the next, I'm head over heels."
A puzzle that he could not figure out.
It frustrated his intelligent mind to no end.
"Well…" Pink stained her cheeks and she laughed a laugh that sounded suspiciously nervous. "Are you sure you're not overestimating yourself or something, genius?"
He eyed her seriously. "No."
Then he approached, not allowing whatever awkwardness to steal upon the pause in between their brief exchange. That was why he told her. He didn't want any uncomfortable atmosphere seeping into their friendship later on. He accepted his interest in her as something that would soon blow over. He knew so – he had compared both their personalities over and over in his mind and came up with the same result.
They were compatible, all right. Just…not in the romantic sense.
Mere inches separated them, but he noted that she matched up his stare without a single flinch or sign of nervousness. That was why he liked her, after all. She was a breath of fresh air.
He said nothing as he slipped a hand out of his pockets and tilted her face upward. The feel of her skin under his fingertips caused a rush of hotness to spike into his blood and spread throughout his body like wild fire.
(Just this once.)
Then he leaned in and met her lips with his own.
Warm. Tender. Brief.
A short moment of bliss.
"I'm sorry," he said by way of apology as he pulled away. "I had to indulge myself."
(This one time.)
She gave him a look – half astonished, half-bewildered.
"You are so weird, Shikamaru."
He shrugged and straightened up. "Thanks for noticing."
He thanked the gods that she did not react in the negative – considered it pure luck, on his part even. Women were THE most unpredictable beings on earth as they were prone to sudden mood swings and violent tendencies. Tenten was less likely to revert to Kill mode compared to Ino, but he wouldn't put it past her to let an injustice slide if it roused her temper. She was female, after all, and females were scarily creative in the ways of "How to Torture our Male Counterparts".
A sudden force pushed him down, startling him out of balance. "What– " he spluttered, but was cut off.
Something warm – nice – grazed against his cheek.
He jerked his head around and met her mischievous expression with a confused one.
"You owed me," she replied simply. "I was just returning the favor."
She twined her fingers together and gave a fierce yawn as she stretched. He watched her, hands once more in his pockets, expression wistful but contented.
Tenten had grown to be a lot of things to him. He supposed that he'd have to blame Ino and Chouji for it, 'cause their busy schedules were what drove him to seek the company of this strange mix of female and ninja. He'd bumped into her in one of the small training grounds scattered around the outskirts of the village the day Ino had thrown him out of the Yamanaka Flower shop (for "being a lazy bum and getting in the way"). Things had been pretty interesting ever since.
"We should get going. We're already late as it is."
Oh... He suddenly remembered the group outing that the girls planned. "Yeah," he agreed, resuming their interrupted walk.
He paused to show he was listening.
"I can't give you an answer anytime soon…do you mind waiting?"
(It's what I do best.)
At once, his fingers went up to massage his temple. "You know, Tenten, forget it. I don't really care anymore." He sighed a long-suffering sigh. "All of this is just too troublesome."
He heard her laugh – chuckle – to herself. "Lazy bones. I can't believe you'd go and do that" – he knew she was referring to the kiss – "then wave it off as if it were a bothersome fly."
"But it is bothersome," he pointed out tiredly. "Just forget about it."
"You are unbelievable… Are you saying you have no chance with me?"
He thought of a certain white-eyed shinobi with long, dark hair. "Maybe."
"Hey, time changes people, y'know… Maybe someday…"
The sigh he let out was deep and resigned. "Tenten, forget it." (Don't give me blind hope) "We should get going before the others throw a fit." (How does a guy compete with the likes of that?) "I don't want to be accused of ruining everyone's fun again. It's too troublesome." (Like this situation.)
"Wow… I've never heard you say so many words at a time," she joked, although he knew she was trying to cheer him up. She didn't even question the topic change.
Yeah, that was why he liked her. She was smart.
It was no wonder the Hyuuga had an interest for her.
She appeared by his side and grabbed his arm. "Do me the honor of being my escort," she said, flashing him a grin. When he squirmed, she only held on tighter. "You got my first one, you know." Mischief was in her tone. "The least you can do is repay me for that."
There was a pause – a brief one – in which he reveled in that fact.
(At least it was her first.)
Then he gave in to her little request and they traipsed their way to their destination.
When Neji approached Tenten to scold her for her tardiness, he couldn't help but feel a little ticked off by the way she hung onto the person she'd arrived with.
And he could've sworn that when their eyes met for the briefest moment, the usually unconcerned Nara Shikamaru had smirked at him somewhat triumphantly.
'Idiots,' he thought, a shadow crossing his features. He began to feel very, very irritated for some reason.
Shikamaru allowed his companion to be taken away from him. He returned her enthusiastic wave (with less gusto, but as much sincerity) and grinned slightly at the "Feel free to be my escort whenever you feel like it!" that she shouted over the noise that their group produced.
(It will be like this later on.)
He watched as both members of Team Gai conversed – one berating, the other laughing, both hiding something mutual in their eyes.
(But at least…)
The slight curve to his lips widened by a millimeter, and he turned on his heel to join his friends.
(I got to her first.)
Behold, my first attempt at straightforward fluff...! Or...something like that. ShikaIno, ShikaTem, NejiTen fans, flame me not. I happen to like those pairings as well. Just felt the itch to try something new.
Reviews will be highly appreciated. Tell me what you think, feel free to gimme some constructive criticism, and have a nice day!