Pairings: ShikaNaru, KakaIru, LeeSaku, KibaShino, ChouHina, InoNejiTen (triangle). The main focus of this story is on ShikaNaru and the other pairings may be mentioned but not shown that much, I haven't decided yet.

Warnings: This is yaoi, so there will be homosexual pairings in this story. If this bothers you then please don't read this story. Mature content, crude language, cursing and sexual references are in this story.

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or any of it's characters. This story is a work of fiction based on the Naruto manga and anime series.

Ages: Naruto, along with the ones he graduated with at the academy, are all 16 years old. Neji, Lee and Tenten are 17. Kakashi is 30 and Iruka is 29.

Sasuke is still with Orochimaru, and this is AU because it differs from what the manga has happen after Naruto came back from his 2 and half years training with Jiraiya. When Naruto came back he took the Chuunin exam with Chouji and Hinata and all three passed it and became chuunins. Their other team mates and friends had already become chuunin while Naruto was gone. Neji is the only one that passed the Jounin exams and became a jounin.

Thoughts and dreams are represented by italics.

Chapter One – Blue skies and Blue eyes

He doesn't know when he first started noticing Naruto's blue eyes more than the loud orange of his clothes. It had started out gradually over the past few months and he just couldn't stop thinking about them. Maybe it was the fact that the color reminded him of the sky on a beautiful day that had lots of fluffy white clouds drifting along. And then there is the hair. Golden as the sun that shines on those beautiful, lazy days.

Shikamaru had been friends with Naruto for several years now. Despite the fact that the hyperactive teenager drove him so crazy sometimes, that he just wanted to smack him, there was just something special about his blue-eyed friend. He would always act like Naruto was too troublesome for him to deal with, but that was a lie. He actually admired the blond a lot. Even envied him. The admiration was because of the blond's willingness to fight to the bitter end to save those he cares about. The stubbornness to not back down from any fight, even if the odds were against him.

The envy he felt was because the blond had so much stamina and strength. He made Shikamaru feel guilty sometimes when he'd rather lay around and do nothing. But because of Naruto, Shikamaru has changed some. He is willing to do what it takes if it means the life and death of a friend, or even a fellow shinobi. He did that a few years ago for the traitor, Uchiha Sasuke. And he has done it a few times more since then.

Shikamaru was currently enjoying his favorite pastimes. Cloud-watching and thinking of his best friend. There was a time when Chouji was his best friend. But ever since Naruto had come back from his training with Jiraiya, that position had been taken over by Naruto.

Naruto is should to be back from his mission now. I wonder if I should head over to Ichiraku's to see if he's there. Even if he's not, it is about lunch time now.

Shikamaru worked at the Ninja Academy in the mornings. He would teach the students weapons training for a couple hours a day. Then he would have the rest of the day off until it was time for him to go to his other job, where he would work in the Mission's office and collect the mission reports brought back by the ninja, that came in to turn them in, and then they would collect their pay. He would work there for a few hours after lunch, then he would finally be finished for the day.

Despite the fact that he found both his jobs tedious, the jobs allowed for him to have plenty of free time everyday, so he could enjoy his cloud-watching. There was the occasional day or two a week that he would have to go on a mission himself, if there were more missions than normal.

Shikamaru got up off the ground where he had been laying. He put his hands in his pockets and casually strolled off in the direction of the ramen stand.

Naruto was sitting at the ramen stand, working on finishing up his third bowl of miso ramen. He was the only one seated at the counter, all the other customers were inside the restaurant seated at the booths and tables. Naruto always preferred eating at the counter. He hated eating inside because of all the hateful glares he would receive from some of the other customers.

Even after all the years of having to endure the glares and the hatred, Naruto still didn't have a tough enough skin to ignore it and pretend it didn't hurt. Yes, he had his mask of fake smiles he used, but inside it hurt him and he was so tired of it. If it weren't for his friends, he would have either moved away from the village to find peace somewhere else or maybe even withdrawn into himself and become depressed.

But his friends kept him going, gave him a reason to live and a reason to stay in the village. He also still wanted to be Hokage some day and make life in the village better for everyone.

Shikamaru walked up and saw Naruto seated at the counter, he sat down beside him and looked at him. "Hey Naruto."

Naruto looked up at Shikamaru and smiled at his friend. "Hey Shika!"

Shikamaru ordered a bowl of chicken ramen from the waitress, Ayame. Then turned back to Naruto. "How was the mission?"

Naruto finished the last bit of his ramen then turned back to his friend. "Boring! I'm so tired of the C and D rank missions I've been getting. Today was supposed to be a C one but it really should have been D."

"How so?" Shikamaru started eating. He had heard these complaints from Naruto before. Practically every time Naruto came back from a mission. But he didn't feel like angering Naruto by telling him that he kept repeating himself all the time.

Naruto got a disgusted look on his face. "It was an escort mission, but it was only to escort a spoiled rich kid from here to her village, two miles away. Sheesh! I had to listen to her brag about how much her father spoiled her and gave her everything she wanted. And about how important her father was in her own village. The kid never shut up the whole trip! Of course no one attacked us to make the trip more exciting, and to get the kid to shut up. Why do I always get the worst missions? Huh? Can you tell me that!" Naruto had started yelling by the end of his speech.

Shikamaru had started wincing from the pain caused by sitting too close to the loud ninja. Then he realized he was supposed to say something now. "Hmm...sounds like it was troublesome." His old standby answer for everything. It was expected after all.

"You have no idea, Shika!" Naruto yelled, but not as loud as before. Then he shook his head. "I wish Tsunade baa-chan would give me an A or B mission to make up for all these lousy ones I've been getting for the past month. But she keeps insisting that there aren't enough to go around, and that the more experienced ninjas get first priority on the available ones. I'm never going to be Hokage doing these crappy missions all the time! I need more experience and the only way to get it is to do A and B missions."

Shikamaru understood Naruto's frustrations and he wished there was a way he could cheer up his friend. "Hey Naruto."

"Yes, Shika?"

"Do you have another mission tomorrow?"

"No, that damn old hag claims there is a shortage in missions at the moment and told me to take the next two days off." Naruto was not happy about it and it showed on his face. Naruto always goes to the Hokage whenever he gets back from his missions in order to try and get her to give him better ones.

Maybe I can help get Naruto to feel better. I hate seeing him like this, I miss his cheerfulness and smile. "Well tomorrow I only have to work for a few hours at the Academy, I don't have a shift at the Mission's office tomorrow, so I have the rest of the day free. Would you like to spend the day with me tomorrow?"

Naruto looked with surprise at Shikamaru. He wants to spend his free time with me? "Um, yeah sure. I'd love to, Shika!" Naruto smiled with happiness at his friend.

Shikamaru smiled back at him. "Great. I get finished at the Academy at eleven so do you want to meet here after to eat first, then we can go cloud-watching and talk?" I love seeing that look of happiness on Naruto's face. He should always look this way. It makes him look beautiful. Why am I using the word beautiful to describe him? Hmm but the word does fit him.

"Sure, Shika that sounds like fun!" Naruto smiled again and gave Shika a real smile that was big and full of happiness. Shika is such a good friend to me. I'm so lucky to have him in my life.

There is that smile again, it touches something in my heart. It's rare to see him give a smile like that. Every time I see it, it makes me want to see it all the time. Naruto has had such a hard life. He doesn't deserve the treatment that he gets from the villagers. I don't understand how anyone could hate such a bright light in the world, as Naruto is. It makes no sense to me at all. One of these days I'll figure out why so many seem to hate him. I wonder if Naruto knows why. Would he tell me if he did?

Shikamaru pulled out his wallet and paid for his and Naruto's meals.

"Shikamaru, you don't have to do that!" Naruto had changed over the last few years. He no longer begged others to pay for his ramen. In the past he did it because he didn't receive a lot of money when he was younger, and had to pay for his own rent and other living expenses, and so he had to be careful about not having enough money for food. But now he made enough money on missions that he could afford to eat and he didn't want to scrounge off his friends anymore.

"It's okay, Naruto. I want to pay for it." Shikamaru smiled at him. "Well, I'll meet you here at a little past eleven tomorrow."

Naruto gave in to Shikamaru's insistence on paying for his ramen and smiled back. "You bet! I'll be here waiting!"

"Bye, Naruto." Shikamaru turned to leave.

"Bye Shika! And thanks!"

Shikamaru gave Naruto a wave as he left, then headed in the direction of the Hokage Tower where the Mission's office was located.

Naruto smiled and waved at Ayame. "See you later Ayame!" As Naruto walked home, he thought about how nice Shikamaru was being to him. He had noticed that Shikamaru had been coming to the ramen stand a lot during the past month and that it seemed to be whenever Naruto would be there.

Shika has become my best friend now. I used to think he was just a lazy ass when we were younger. But after our mission to try and save Sasuke, I realized how very smart he is and also how dedicated he can be as a shinobi. He risked his life for his team and the mission. Since then I've come to admire him a lot. I trust him with my life. I also enjoy all the times we spend together. I don't know why he's been so nice to me. But I'm glad for it all the same.

Naruto reached his apartment and unlocked his door. He went inside and took his sandals off at the door. Then he hung up his jacket on the coat rack that was nailed to the wall by the door. He headed to the kitchen and got a glass out, then filled it with water from the tap in the sink. He then headed for the living room and set the glass down on the coffee table in front of his couch. Then he sprawled himself out on the couch. He reached for the water and took a big gulp from the glass, then set the glass back down.

"Here I was in such a bad mood earlier after coming off the mission. Now I can't even remember why and it's all thanks to Shika. I need to remember to tell him how much I appreciate him, tomorrow. I don't want him to think I take his friendship for granted. It's too precious for me to lose." Naruto spoke aloud to himself in his lonely, empty apartment. But he didn't feel lonely at the moment. He felt very happy.

Shikamaru sat down at the long table, that was where the chuunin that worked in the office would sit and wait for teams, or those ninja that did solo missions, to come in and hand in their mission reports. It was also where Shikamaru and his co-workers would hand out any new missions, if any were available. His job also required him to hand out the paychecks.

It was a very boring job in Shikamaru's opinion. So he would spend the time just thinking, while waiting for ninja to arrive. At the moment, the only ones in the office were the workers, and Shikamaru's co-workers were busy signing off on the mission reports and then filing them in the file cabinets, that were lined up behind them.

I wish Naruto didn't care so much for Sakura. I hate seeing him pining away for her when she doesn't seem to have the same feelings towards him. Girls are so troublesome anyway. I've told him that many times but he just ignores it.

A few more minutes go by...He really does have the most beautiful blue eyes I've ever seen. I'd rather look at them than any girl's eyes. I really can't stand looking at any part of a girl, let alone their eyes. And their voices just grate on my nerves. I used to think that one day I would settle down with some girl that was not pretty and yet not ugly and have two kids, a boy and a girl. How stupid I was then! There is no way that could make me happy. I don't want to become like my Dad and be a slave to some female. Mom can be so scary. Dad says it's worth it but I think he's full of shit. How could it be worth it? I'd rather marry Naruto!

Another minute goes by...Whoa did I just think that? What am I thinking!

Luckily for Shikamaru's peace of mind, a team arrived to hand in their mission report. It was Kiba and Shino. Hinata had stopped going on missions with them because she was training to become a medical nin.

"Yo, Shikamaru!" Kiba greeted his friend.

Shino just nodded at Shikamaru.

Kiba handed Shikamaru the mission report. Shikamaru opened the scroll and read it. Then handed both Kiba and Shino their paychecks. He signed off on the report and handed it to the chuunin beside him. "Looks like you guys had an easy mission."

"Too damn easy! I'm getting really pissed at getting missions that genin could handle with their eyes closed!" Kiba ranted.

Kiba sounds almost like Naruto. "Yes, some others have been complaining too. But you know how it can get sometimes. Sometimes having peace with your neighbors can be so boring."

"You said it! I'm beginning to feel like my skills are getting rusty, what I wouldn't give right now for a freaking A mission! Right Akamaru?" Kiba looked down at Akamaru who was lying down on the floor next to him and looking bored.


"See even Akamaru is getting bored with our missions!" Kiba grinned at Shikamaru.

I agree with Kiba about the lack of good missions, but he's really annoying the hell out of me. All he does is complain all the time and now he's got Akamaru doing it too. There would be a frown on Shino's face if he was someone else. Since he wasn't, his face remained impassive as he listened to his team mate's complaints.

No, even though Kiba shares some personality traits as Naruto, I'd rather listen to Naruto complain all day then to listen to Kiba do it for even a few minutes. Shikamaru was handed a scroll from the man sitting beside him and told it was to be given to Kiba and Shino. He handed it over to Kiba. "Here's your next mission, have a good evening." Shikamaru hoped Kiba would get the hint and leave.

Kiba was about to say something more to Shikamaru, but Shino turned away to leave the Mission's office and said as he was leaving, "Thank you and have a good evening too, Shikamaru."

"Um, yeah, thanks and see you later, Shika!" Kiba and Akamaru followed their team mate out of the office.

Thank God! Now I can get back to my thoughts again. Now what was I thinking about before being rudely interrupted. Hmmm...oh yes, Naruto. I can't wait till tomorrow. I actually feel excited. This is weird...but it's a nice kinda weird.

Shikamaru had a big smile on his face. His two chuunin co-workers looked at him with surprise, and then looked at each other with a questioning look on their faces. Then both just shrugged and went back to their work.