It All Started With A Laugh.

They were best friends.

When Ino and Shikamaru were little, they were very different. Ino would not stop crying, and Shikamaru would not do anything. That is, however, until they met each other.

Their dads decided it was about time they met each other, and it was never too young to start up the team thing again. What they found from the small get together they would've never guessed.

Once the two had been placed in the same crib, they had looked at each other for about two seconds, and started laughing.

Their dads were speechless.

"So…" They both said.

Now, if you think about it, their dads were best friends, but that wouldn't mean they would set their kids up just for convenience. But this was something else; this was something they could see even at this age. So they sealed the deal, amidst peals of laughter.

"I bet they won't even need it. Those two were made for each other. They'll be smart kids. They'll realize." Inoshi said.

"I don't know. Any boy of mine couldn't be that smart. After all, I'm his old man. He'll get his mothers smarts if anything." His best friend said.

The two decided not to tell their kids for now, and see how things turned out by themselves.

They were inseparable.

When they were 12, Ino's parents left for another village on a mission with a 2 survival rate.

"What did I do? Why did they have to leave?" Ino asked. She asked it in an innocent sort of way, in pure curiousness, instead of pain. But her words were empty, and Shikamaru noticed.

He moved her closer to him, and hugged her close to him. "You didn't do anything. I promise." He didn't know what else to say, but he put all his concern into those words.

Ino knew he was trying his best to help, and it did, but not enough to hold back the words she spoke next. "What's the use?"

In those three words lay such pain and anguish, he could feel it. He took her back to her now empty home, and let her cry against his chest until she fell asleep. He watched over her the whole night.

When he got back from the retrieval mission, and Chouji was in critical condition, she was there. She brought flowers, she brought him lunch, blankets, and a pillow. She stayed with him when he slept over in the hospital, she made him laugh and smile when he felt like dying. She told him what he needed to hear.

"It's not your fault." And she kissed him on the tip of his nose.

This is what friends do.

They were dating.

Eventually, their friendship turned into love. No one really knew when it happened, but somewhere along the line, everyone knew the two were in love.

Everyone would see Ino fuss over him like a mother, and every now and then, someone would catch her kissing one of his more serious wounds.

Everyone saw the blush on his face as she would check his body over for wounds she knew he would never admit.

Everyone would see her make sure he ate healthy; she would bring him the best lunches.

Everyone saw how he checked up on her every now and then, a look of love in his eyes.

Everyone saw how she would spend nights in the hospital when he was injured, how she would talk him back to her.

Everyone saw how he would shield her with his body in a particularly dangerous battle, positioning himself so that he would be the one to fight most of her attackers.

Everyone saw how her eyes would glow green whenever the sand-nin would try to make a move on the unreceptive ninja.

Everyone would see how he would fend off the lewd glances.

Everyone saw that special connection they had, like something was tying them together.

Their hearts belonged to one another.

He was jealous.

No one would guess, the way he carried himself; laid back, nonchalant. She was flirting with a very cute, very available, very interested man.

"So, later on, you wanna see my place?" The man asked.

A look of disgust passed Ino's face just before she forced a flirtatious giggle, it wasn't fast enough; Shikamaru caught it.

The man took two more shots of whisky, before getting up and pulling Ino along. For a second, she resisted, then, remembering the information she needed to get from him for the mission she relented. "Before we go, let me grab a couple drinks." Ino smiled, then winked. "To loosen up, you know?"

Shikamaru had watched all this pass with seething fury. His eyes promised great pain to the man making moves on his girl.

"Sure babe." He pinched her. Shika nearly killed him right there.

A couple of minutes later…

She had all the info she needed thanks to the lip loosening effects of alcohol, and she signaled to Shikamaru and Chouji. Ino had made sure he drank so much that by the next day, he would remember nothing about tonight over the splitting headache.

"It's been fun. See ya." Ino said. As she turned to walk away, he grabbed her wrist, and just as his lips were an inch from her, he found himself flat on the wall. Shikamaru wrapped his arm possessively around Ino's waist and the three of them walked out. Chouji was laughing at Ino's flabbergasted expression.

Later that night he was the one who pushed her up against a wall, and he declared that her first kiss belonged to him. Who would've thought, the lazy ninja had some drive. He did stop however, and when she looked at him with hurt eyes and asked if she was good enough he said that he had to stop then or he would never be able to. He said he wanted to wait till they were married.

They're engaged.

He asked her that night, by the lake in his backyard. It was his favorite spot, and she loved it too. He had planted some flowers earlier that week for this day, and she noticed the moon was out and shining on the lake.

It was beautiful.

When he asked her, she had said yes a split second before he finished. She literally jumped on him.

No one was surprised when they announced they were getting married. As a matter of fact, no one was surprised when they started dating, either. But that's not the point.

Shika and Ino were now officially living together. Before, they had begun living with each other in secret. Now don't get me wrong, they said they would wait, and they had come this far so why blow it so close to the wedding? It was Shika who started it, he had come back from a mission with a 15 chance of survival, and he wanted to see her first and foremost; even before he slept. It just so happened, she was awake, and she greeted him with a kiss. She hugged him so tight he thought he would die, but he liked it. She hadn't slept the whole time he was gone out of worry for him, so it was natural for him to feel a little guilty of course. She had asked him to stay with her for a while, and he agreed. They had a better sleep, entangled in each other, than anywhere or anytime else.

They love each other.

Neither of them would forget that day, or that night. He stole her second and third kisses as well. And fourth, and fifth, and sixth, and seventh, and… Well, you get the idea.

Somewhere else that night, there were a certain pair of dads who made a certain promise about a certain pair of newlyweds 27 years ago.

"I told you they wouldn't need to get forced into it." Inoshi said.

He was met by a scowl.