Disclaimer: Naruto does not belong to me

(You know, when I was typing that disclaimer, I kept typing 'dies' instead of 'does.' Hmmm, subconscious omen, maybe? lol...)

So, here it is! My latest pet progect - SHIKA SHIKA SHIKA! I've decided to take a slightly different look at their relationship this time- I've always only ever written about them getting together or not but I kinda wanted to explore what would happen AFTER they got together. After all, what's the fun if everything was smooth sailing, eh?

But yeah, wanted to dedicate this little fic to mI.ShOE. You'vebeen such an awesome and supportive reviewer and I'm so happy that you enjoy mystories cuz I've always adored yours!

Anyways, hope you're all having a great summer holzso far and please enjoy!



Chapter 1

"Do you want that piece, Shikamaru?"

Chouji nodded at the last chicken wing lying on the grill, looking at his old friend hopefully. The Nara shook his head.

"Nah, go ahead."


Cheerfully gobbling down the remainder of their meal, Chouji took one final swig of tea and slumped back in his seat, patting his filled stomach in satisfaction.

"This is a really great place. Even better than that noodle shop we went to last time."


The boy glanced up at the Jounin sitting across from him, whose head was propped up on one hand as he leaned limply against the table. Shikamaru grunting and muttering was something he was well used to but there was something different about this grunt. Something was disturbing the Nara.

"Hey, Shikamaru?"


"So, what's up with you lately? You're always so busy that we haven't been able to spend much time together like before."

Shikamaru shrugged, eyes half-lidded as he gazed absently out into the street. It was a hot summer's afternoon, the streets relatively quiet as most people tried to stay indoors to avoid the mid-day heat. A young boy scampered past the barbeque shop, laughing and yelling as he was chased by a little girl.

"Yeah, the Hokage's been keeping me busy the past couple of months. Mendokuse, I knew I didn't want to become a Jounin."

"But you're good at it though. Even if Ino hadn't convinced you to try out for the Jounin exam last year, you probably would have done it sooner or later."

"Better later than sooner. Che, if she hadn't been nagging at me every single moment, I would be at home sleeping right now instead of needing to catch a late lunch because the mission debriefing ran too long."

By now, his tone held a distinct, irritable tone. Eyeing his friend's furrowed brow, Chouji tried a different tack.

"Where is Ino, anyways? Doesn't she know you're back?"

If the boy had thought this would cheer him up, he was unfortunately mistaken. In fact, the crease in Shikamaru's forehead merely deepened until he looked as though he was almost scowling.

"Dunno. Haven't seen her."

Chouji's eyes widened in surprise.

"Really? I saw her yesterday when I was at Kin-san's fruit stall and she said she was going to be there to greet you when you came back today."

At that, Shikamaru's head raised. Standing abruptly, he pulled out some coins from his pouch and placed it on the table.

"I've gotta go, Chouji. Sorry about that. See you later, okay?"

"Sure, thanks for lunch, Shikamaru. I'm glad that you're back."


Lifting a hand in farewell, Shikamaru walked out of the door, blinking at bit at the sudden onslaught of sunlight.

"Maa, mendokuse."

Leaping on to a nearby rooftop, he made his way towards the far west gate at which he had arrived a few hours ago. A quick survey and an inquiry with the guards informed him that Yamanaka Ino had indeed been here about an hour ago. Nodding, he made his way back towards the centre of the village, this time heading towards her house. Ino had moved out of her parents' home at roughly the same time as he had, although both had found places in different apartment complexes. He figured she was probably back home by now, ready to kick his ass for making her go all the way to the west gate for no reason.

To his surprise however, no one answered the door when he knocked, nor could he sense her chakra signature anywhere nearby. Frowning, Shikamaru leaned against the plaster hallway rail, scanning his mind for the most likely place she would be.

He had been a little disappointed when she had been nowhere in sight when he wearily made his way along the trail and back into Konoha. Alright, make that more than a little disappointed and more hurt than he would admit to himself. As usual, his ability to think logically had shut down whenever the matter concerned the bossy, blonde kunoichi and he had completely failed to consider that her absence was because he had returned ahead of schedule.

Annoyed at himself and the situation in general, Shikamaru headed back home almost unconsciously, the muscles in his body screaming for respite. Grunting a greeting at people he knew as he passed them, the boy stretched, loosening up the tension in his back. It had been a long two weeks and he had been eager to come home, not least because he had missed a certain someone.

A certain someone who was currently parked on the steps of his building, idly twirling a flower between her fingers.


At the sound of his voice, Ino looked up. There he was, standing right in front of her on the road. A surprised expression was on his face, which quickly faded into its usual look of mild indifference.

"What are you doing here?"

"What am I doing here?"

Jumping up, the girl stalked over to him, glaring up into his face. He peered down at her, hands tucked inside his pockets. Jabbing a finger into his vest, Ino let loose the worry that had been fermenting inside of her for the past hour.

"What I'm doing here is waiting for your sorry ass to get home so I can beat the crap out of you!"

"Eh, you really shouldn't swear, Ino."

Screeching, she whacked him on the arm, noting his pained wince with righteous self-satisfaction.

"Don't tell me what to do, you inconsiderate jerk! Do you have any idea how long I've been waiting here for you? Who was it that said they were going to be back by noon today, huh?"

Rubbing his abused arm ruefully, Shikamaru skirted around her with a single, fluid motion and headed up towards his apartment. Mouth dropping in indignation at his apparent dismissal of her, Ino stomped after him, all the while demanding an explanation.

"The mission went better than expected. I made it back ahead of schedule."

"I know that! The guards told me after I'd been standing there like an idiot for more than an hour."

Unlocking his door, he stumbled inside gratefully, kicking off his sandals before collapsing on his dull, tan sofa. Ino slammed the door behind her, making her way past his small kitchen and into his equally small living room. Shikamaru was sprawled on his back, the very picture of utter exhaustion. Crossing her arms, she stood at one end of the sofa and gave his leg a sharp kick.

"Stop pretending to ignore me, Shikamaru!"

Groaning, the shinobi shifted his leg out of the way, draping an arm heavily over his eyes. Ino grimaced, taking in the various cuts on his arms and the overall grunginess of his appearance. Sighing in resignation, she located the medical kit in the bathroom, knelt down next to him and dabbed some ointment on the angry-looking gash along the forearm covering his face. Shikamaru's head tilted to look at her.

"Thought you were mad at me."

"I am. Don't think you're off the hook yet."

The corner of his mouth crooked in the faintest smile, which he wisely hid. Ino could feel him watching her as she wound a roll of bandages around the cut and it unnerved her somewhat.

"So, I thought you said the mission went well. What happened here?"

Shrugging, Shikamaru examined his bandaged arm, muttering his thanks as she started on another wound on his other elbow.

"Got hit by a shurikan one of the Wind guards threw at me. And that one's from a dart I didn't see. It's no big deal."

"'No big deal.'"

Scowling down at him, Ino finished up on his arm and waited expectantly.


Shaking his head in response, Shikamaru watched as she stood up and headed back towards the bathroom, medical kit in hand. Her voice carried down the hallway.

"Well, you should be more careful next time. What if the dart had been poisoned or something? Then what would you do?"

Deciding that there was no real way for him to reply and that it would probably be easiest for him to just agree with her, the boy made a sound of acquiescence, which Ino managed to catch as she came back out. Although his eyes were closed, Shikamaru could feel her standing there uncertainly, most likely with a frown on her face.

Probably trying to decide whether to continue yelling at me or finish it up tomorrow. Please let it be tomorrow.

There was the sound of her footsteps and then a light bundle landed on his chest. Cracking open one eye, he found it to be a thin blanket. Gathering his remaining strength to crane his head up, Shikamaru could just barely see her putting her sandals back on.

"Get some sleep. You look like crap."

And with that parting shot, Ino left. Flopping back down, Shikamaru spread the blanket over himself, never mind that it was actually too hot to sleep with one. Fingering the cotton fabric thoughtfully, he fell asleep.


A/N: Ahhh, really getting back into the ShikaIno mindset. It's surprisingly different from NejiIno, at least the way I picture them lol. I dunno, maybe cuz there's so much more history between Shika and Ino and thus, so much more opportunity for exploring that something that seems to be lurking between them. lol...

Yeps, I hope to get the next chp up in a week or two. Thanks for reading and please do review!