A/N: Hi! Well, this is my first Shikino ficcy….GAH! The need to write an oneshot for this pairing has been eating me alive! It's my fave pairing, so I guess I had a mad rush of adrenaline while writing this. Only took one day! XD!

I hope you enjoy reading it. Plz R and R and tell me what you think.

Disclaimer: I DO NOT own Naruto…

Withering Flowers

The sky was dipped in canvases of gray and blue. The ground was veiled with a thick blanket of snow as white dust continued to plummet the Earth. It was winter, a rare site in Konoha, with it's heat waves and blazing suns. A magnificent season, pure and angelic. Everyone found winter as a time of frozen beauty…everyone except a blonde flower girl.

Yamanaka Ino walked through the frozen desert park. She was now 15, three years after becoming a full-fledged kunoichi…no ninja. Her blonde locks were outgrown again and the single bang of hair she always had, now covered about half her face. She wore a dark purple trench coat, black pants, with black gloves for her hands.

Ino continued her stroll as her boots sunk into the white sheet with every step and she winced at the wind's icy breath. Feeling the need to take a rest, the blonde sat down on a nearby bench, glaring at the frozen sun and the waterfall of snow. She could feel her eyes burn in disgust and her smile etched into a frown. Oh how she wanted to dust off the snowflakes that plagued her clothes and scream at the sky for…for….but her train of thought was interrupted by her pineapple-haired lazy teammate.

"Hey Shikamaru." Ino plainly greeted, redirecting her gaze to the lazy chuunin who was now sitting beside her.

Shikamaru furrowed his brows. This wasn't like Ino. She's a troublesome woman alright, but she's always full of energy and spirit. He was always greeted by "Shika-kun!" always with the suffix at the end. No matter how troublesome Ino was, it left him dumbfounded at the low-morale words that were spoken.

"Hey, what's wrong?" Shikamaru asked.

There was no reply, only winter's empty silence. Ino had turned her gaze back to the snow buried ground, her crystal eyes no longer a glare. Shikamaru studied those eyes. They were lowered and sadness stained them. But how could that be? Ino's always strong. She never backs out and let others insult her or her friends without paying a price. Even through the three years they've fought together, he had never seen her like this.

'How troublesome…' He thought. 'It makes her look so vulnerable….' He opened his mouth to speak, but she had beaten him to it.

"I hate winter," Ino didn't redirect her gaze, but the words came out bluntly. "It's ugly."

Shikamaru watched without a smile or frown as his teammate's hands tightly clenched her trench coat.

"I hate it because it's a thief. It steals beauty." She spoke again, but her tone was shadowed with displeased hatred. "It withers all the flowers and plants. It makes the trees lose their leaves, exposing their dull branches. Winter steals the flowers' colours, withering them dry and dead. It steals all the flowers, leaving behind sheets of snow and a frozen sun. Winter has no colours, it's only white and gray. It stole the flowers, the beauty, and the colours. That's why I hate winter…" There was a pause as her hands violently wrinkled the fabric. "Because it's ugly."

The boy beside her could see her eyes travel along the tree branches and then to the sky, but they had looked away from the ground, where there was nothing, but clouds of snow. Shikamaru didn't know what to do or say. He was a ninja with an IQ over 200, but he had no knowledge of how to handle women, especially Yamanaka Ino…when she looked so vulnerable. So, like the lazy person he was, he didn't reply and only nodded. Then he leaned back on the bench and watched the clouds float by, his arms behind his head. Unbeknownst to him though, a certain blonde was quite displeased by this.

"How can you do that?" Ino snapped at him, her crystal orbs finally meeting his.

'How troublesome…' Shikamaru tilted his head, only to meet a fiery glare, one that was somewhat familiar. "Do what?"

"How can you still watch the clouds?"

"Huh?..."

"How can you like watching the clouds?" She thrust her arm upward and pointed at the blue and gray sky. "How can you still watch them in this time of year? In the spring and summer, they're pure white and floating freely, but in the winter, they look like stained ink puddles, weighed down by the sky itself! They use to have beauty and now…now…"

"And now they're ugly?..." He simply finished for her, his blank stare competing against her fading glare.

It was as if something mentally hit the blonde as Ino stared wide-eyed at her teammate, her orbs drowning in realization. She couldn't speak, her mouth left agape. Only the sharp intake of breath was spoken. Her arm was no longer raised, but resting limply at her sides. For the second time that day, empty silence was her reply.

"Geez…troublesome women." Shikamaru had expected a slap across the face, but no pain was felt.

"Sorry Shikamaru…." He heard her whisper to the crushed blanket of snow. Shikamaru…that's what she said. Not Shika-kun like what she usually calls him. Shikamaru's eyes lowered to the ground, staring at the white monster that buried his boots. They were now like mirror reflections of each other, each facing the thief that surrounded them.

He didn't know what made him do it, but he kicked the mound of snow in front of him, making white crystals dance in the icy breeze. It might have been because it was fun or maybe because it really was true….winter was ugly.

The next day, as Ino finished putting on her boots, she unlocked her front door to take another depressing walk. To glare at the snow, to challenge winter, but what she didn't expect was a little gift left on her porch.

The blonde kneeled down to brush off the veil of snow that tainted it, only to have a short intake of breath at what was before her. It was a vase of flowers….paper flowers. They were assorted in different shapes and colours. There were red ones, blue ones, yellow ones, but there were no dull gray ones.

Ino reached out to study one when she noticed a note stuck to the transparent vase. Snatching it and holding it up, it wrote:

How troublesome…

You're right. Winter stole beauty. It withered all the flowers, but you shouldn't let yourself wither away too. Even though your troublesome a times, you're like a flower, you're fragile. I don't know what made me do this, but I guess I wanted to return some of the stolen beauty.

Shikamaru

An overdue smile played on her lips as she was suddenly mesmerized by the vase of paper flowers. 'He folded these all for me?...Thank you...Shika-kun.'

A/N: I bet you didn't expect the ending to end like that. Well I was considering making the title Paper Flowers, but that would've given it way, so I chose Withering Flowers instead, symbolizing how Ino feels right now with the comparison of her to a flower. I really don't think winter can come across Konoha, but after reading a couple oneshots with it, I couldn't resist! Plz R and R!