Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.

A/N. I meant to put this up earlier, but I was delayed. Ehehe...-.-;;

Anyways, happy birthday to Ino and Shika. XD And you know what's weird? My birthday just happens to be in the same week! YAY! -is somewhat excited- Darn, I'm gonna officially be a teen in two days...X.X

Well, this is my first ShikaIno fic, so excuse me if it's not really that great. T.T Btw, this story can be AU if you want it to be, but it doesn't really matter. xP Aaand...oh yeahh...in case any of you are wondering what ba-dump is, it's simply the sound of a heartbeat. You know, like in anime, when a girl is nervous around her crush, there's this loud heartbeat. And in manga, ba-dump is written around the person whose heart is beating really loud. o.o; xD So, yeahhh...just to clear things up. xD

Revieww, please! x333

xXxXxXx

"Eh? What are you doing out here? Watching the clouds...again?" Ino shook her head and, planting her hands on her hips, stared down in disbelief at Shikamaru. "What is with you and your obsession with the clouds? What's so great about them?" She pursed her lips and sighed heavily.

Shikamaru threw his arms behind his head and closed his eyes. "Don't critisize my hobby. It's not like I critisize your hobby of tackling that Uchiha whenever he's in sight."

Ino flashed an annoyed glare. "Hmph." That was all she could think of to say as she plopped down on the grass next to him, a bit irked that the grass was slightly wet. She smoothed the ruffles in her purple skirt, and sighing, she rested her cheek against her cupped palm, feeling rather bored.

Her head snapped up like a rubber band and her eyes enlightened as she noticed the flowers that bloomed everywhere. "Ohhh, look! Flowers!" she whispered in a hushed tone, gazing in wonder.

"Wonderful. Let's celebrate."

Ignoring his casual, sarcastic remark, she leaned over and plucked a white daisy. Turning over the flower slowly, her dark eyelashes fluttered down ever so slightly as she gazed intently through half-lidded azure eyes. Without even thinking, she gently removed the petals one by one.

He loves me.

She plucked a petal.

He loves me not.

And another.

He loves me.

"What are you doing?" Shikamaru had opened one eye, watching her lazily yet curiously. "Plucking the petals of a daisy and engaging in the 'He loves me, he loves me not' thing? How troublesome."

"At least it's better than staring at the clouds," Ino retorted testily, her face twisting into a mask of sheer irritation. Why did he have to ruin her good mood? However, her annoyance died away as she stared softly at the daisy in her hands, continuing to pluck off its petals.

He loves me.

A petal drifted to the grass.

He loves me not.

And the last petal joined it. .

He loves me.

Ino's eyes widened ever so slightly as a doubtful yet pleased glint flickered through her eyes. She released the petalless daisy, watching the stem fall limply to the grass.

"So, does he love you or what?" Shikamaru's voice broke the silence. She glanced at him without answering for a while, and Shikamaru looked away in discomfort.

"Why do you want to know?" she finally asked.

Shikamaru didn't reply. Ino sighed inwardly and gazed around. Among the daisies, she spotted something else. A dandelion. No - two dandelions. Out of the all of the dandelions in the area in which the two were sitting in, Ino could see that there were only two fully grown dandelions, their fluffy, white seeds and fresh stems swaying gently in the breeze. The rest of the dandelions weren't quite bloomed yet. Ino smiled.

"Look, Shikamaru," she said without thinking, reaching over to pick the dandelion nearest to her. "Dandelions..." she murmured softly, her thumb gently caressing the flower's fragile stem.

"What about it?" came his lazy response.

This time, she didn't ignore his casual remark. Instead, she turned and made a face. "I thought you were supposed to be a genius!" she snapped. "Don't you know anything? If you blow off all of the seeds of a dandelion, your wish will come true."

He loves me.

Ino sucked in her breath and bit the inside of her lip.

He loves me not.

Wouldthe daisy's magic come to life someday?

He loves me...

Her eyes saddened, and she leaned forward, hugging her knees to her chest.

No...I wish he loves me.

"Of course I know that," Shikamaru answered. "It's just that I don't believe in it."

Ino's gaze softened and shifted to the flower that lay in her slightly cupped palms. Of course. Wishes don't actually come true. Blowing off the seeds of a dandelion to grant one's wish was such a riduculous belief. For some reason, her heart felt as if a cold metal fist had clenched itself around it. It seemed as if wishing for something was foolish. Why make a wish if it would never come true?

But she was perfectly happy, and she didn't need to make a wish. No...she wasn't happy. She was half happy. But the other part of her longed for something. Love.

She wanted someone to love, and who would love her back. She wanted to belong to someone, and she wanted someone to belong to her. Love...a feeling that could be given and recieved. She longed for love.

Love was the key to happiness. Without love, she would be all alone, stranded in the middle of a vast, empty world of darkness. Without her family, without her friends...how could she possibly cope?

But she did have a family and she did have friends. But she wanted a different kind of love. A love that only true couples feel. What was it like to love and to be loved? What was it like to embrace a man's musculine form and to be embraced protectively in his strong arms? What was it like to kiss a man's lips and to be kissed? What was it like knowing that no matter what, your true love would always be there for you? What was it like knowing that no matter what, you would always be there for your true love? What was it like to feel true love, and not a stupid schoolgirl crush?

Ino was older now. She had matured. She learned that there was more to a man than his looks. She had learned that the hard way. Actually, every girl around here learned that the hard way. Every girl had chased after one male because of his looks. It wasn't just his looks that attracted them; it was because he was hard to claim. Girls always loved a challenge.

Ino was one of those girls. She loved chasing after him because he refused to be claimed. It was tempting and irresistible. It made her want him even more. But after several years of suffering for true love and chasing after a man who would never be hers, she finally realized and accepted it. Uchiha Sasuke wasn't her true love.

Sasuke didn't want love. He was too cold, too obstinate, too bitter, too loveless. He detested love. After much thought, Ino finally admitted to herself that she wouldn't want to spend the rest of her life with a man who didn't love her, even if she loved him more than anything in the world.

Ino gave him up long ago. There were a few girls that moved on and found their true loves, but most girls still chased after Sasuke, thinking that he was their true love. Ino smiled bitterly. They would learn sooner or later.

"Shikamaru," she called suddenly, "do you believe in true love?"

"Ehhh?" Shikamaru opened one eye and stared at her suspiciously, wondering why she would ask him such a question.

"Do you believe in true love?" she repeated, more slowly and clearly this time. Would wonders never cease?

Shikamaru shrugged, not wanting to answer the question. He closed his eyes again, clearly telling her that was the end of the discussion.

Ino sighed inwardly "Never mind." The blonde's eyes never left the dandelion. "Wellll..." she said slowly, twirling the flower with two fingers. "Do you believe that wishes can come true?"

Shikamaru shrugged yet again.

Ino sighed. "I might as well talk to myself, for all the good it'll do," she muttered. She waited a moment, and before she knew it, she announced, "I'm going to make a wish, okay?"

Was she talking to herself? Shikamaru wondered. Nonetheless, he shrugged in reply. Ino turned away from him and her eyelids fluttered down to conceal her orbs.

Make a wish.

She sucked in her breath.

Make a wish for all the good it'll do.

Her lips slowly parted to form a small oval.

Make a wish, even if it will never come true.

She finally exhaled, and a long breath escaped her lips.

Make a wish...and wish with all your heart that it'll come true.

Ino was almost frightened to open her eyes, but she forced them open. She looked at the seedless flower, and lifted her eyes to gaze in wonder at the small cotton-like substances that drifted in the air. In spite of herself, she smiled.

"What'd you wish for?" Shikamaru asked lazily without opening his eyes or even looking at her. Ino kept her eyes glued onto the floating seeds.

"Why do you want to know?"

Shikamaru didn't respond. Annoyed, Ino let out a sigh of irritation. Her narrowed eyes suddenly widened, and a happy gleam glistened within them. "I'll tell you my wish..." she began slowly.

"...Hn?" came a confused response.

"...if you tell me yours."

This caused Shikamaru to open his eyes. He frowned and stared at her through narrowed eyes. "What are you talking about, Ino? I didn't make a wish."

"No, but you're going to!"

"Who says?"

"Me." Ino quickly plucked the last dandelion and shoved it in Shikamaru's face. "Come on! Blow all the seeds off!" she ordered.

Shikamaru groaned and turned away. The dandelion had a weird smell. Or maybe it was her fragrance that was overwhelming him? She smelled nice. Kind of like flowers. No, wait - she didn't smell like flowers. He had smelled flowers once, and turned away in silent disgust. Flowers had a plain, strange smell. But Ino...she smelled fresh and sweet. He cleared his head of those thoughts. Perhaps all girls smelled like that.

"Come on!" Ino urged again.

He groaned. "Why should I? It's so troublesome."

"How trouble is it to simply blow?"

"Very troublesome."

A moan of disbelief escaped Ino's lips. "I can't believe you!" she exclaimed irritatedly. "You're so...so...ugh. You annoy me."

"Hey...it's what I do, you know." Shikamaru's lips curled up. Was it a smirk or a smile? She couldn't tell. Either way, she could tell that he enjoyed toying with her. She pursed her lips and glared at him, hoping that it would force him to give in.

"Shikamaru...blow. Now." Ino's eye twitched. "You hate the smell of flowers, don't you? You're gonna be smelling this for some time if you just sit there like a rock."

No, he thought distantly, not really. He didn't hate the smell of flowers. It was all right...especially if the smell of flowers was coming from her.

Shikamaru's frown deepened, and his brow furrowed slightly. Did he just think that?

"Come oooooon!" Ino whined in that shrill voice of hers.

Scratch that. She might smell good, but she sounded so annoying, especially when she whined in that screechy voice of hers.

"Okay, okay." Shikamaru sighed. "Just leave me alone after this, okay?"

"Gotcha." Ino's irritated and determined expression was replaced with a satisfied grin. "I'm just too irristeble, eh?"

Uhhh, no.

Shikamaru almost rolled his eyes. Sure, she was pretty in some way, with those silky locks of creamy yellow and those large blue eyes. And she was especially pretty when she smiled...

Wait a minute. Rewind.

What in the world did he just think?

He shook his head in an attempt to make those weird thoughts go away. "What are you supposed to do again?" He stared suspiciously at the dandelion, as if it would blow up in his face if he did anything wrong.

Ino made a face, and she rolled her eyes. "You have got to be kidding me," she muttered. "You blow all of the seeds off! Duhhhh!"

Scratch that. She might be pretty, but she wasn't at all cute when she said duhh and rolled her eyes in that way of hers.

"Okay, okay. The quicker I do this, the quicker I get to watch the clouds in peace."

"Chyeah. Hurry up. And blow off all of the seeds, or it won't work. Make a wish, too," she added smoothly.

Shikamaru sighed. How troublesome.

He closed his eyes and inhaled.

Wishes don't come true, do they?

He parted his lips to let out breath.

How foolish. How could a mere exhalation of breath grant a wish?

He released the breath he had been holding.

No matter how much one would want for their wish to come true...it wouldn't.

He slowly opened his eyes.

If I had one wish...it certainly wouldn't come true.

"Now was that so troublesome?" Ino mimicked, cocking her head innocently.

He glanced at the flufffy seeds that were floating away from them. It was troublesome, making a wish that wouldn't come true.

I do have one wish...a wish that will never come true.

Shikamaru sighed inwardly and lay back down on the ground, propping himself up with his elbows. Sometimes, he wondered why he bothered doing such troublesome things.

"What did you wish for?" Ino asked curiously.

Shikamaru frowned. "Hey, you told me that you would tell me your wish if I made one," he pointed out accusingly.

Ino ignored the remark and rose onto her knees, crossing her arms and fixing him with a stern gaze. However, her annoyed expression had little effect on Shikamaru. "Come oooon!" she complained, tugging on his arm unknowingly.

Shikamaru flinched slightly at her touch. "Hey, let go - "

"Tell me! Tell me!"

"I said, let go - "

Ino was tugging his hand towards herself, but Shikamaru wrenched her hand rather hard towards himself in an attempt to release her hand from his arm.Ino lost her balance and she fell...right on top of him. \

"Ack!" she cried out just as she lost her balance.

"Uhn," a barely audible moan escaped his lips as Ino's full weight covered him completely.

They found themselves staring into each other's astonished and bewildered faces.

Ba-dump. Ba-dump.

She smelled even nicer than before, Shikamaru mused thoughtfully. Maybe it was because the distances between their bodies was closed. Anyway, he relished in the fragrance that he was breathing in at that moment. For someone her height, she was actually pretty light. She also felt...warm. He wanted to push her away, but something held him back. He just wanted to lay there with Ino lying on top of him, staring into her eyes. He had never noticed it before. Her eyes were a beautiful shade of blue. How strange. How could something like this make him feel so bewildered and confused?

Ba-dump. Ba-dump.

Ino could practically feel her heart beating so furiously that she was sure Shikamaru would feel it as well. She had never been this close to Sasuke. She had tackled and threw her arms possessively around him thousands of times, of course, but she had never been in such an awkward position with a boy. Wow, she thought dazedly, he had such a muscular chest. This thought made her cheeks feel warm from blushing. Why was she thinking about such a thing in this kind of situation? But still...he also felt really warm...

Ba-dump. Ba-dump.

Shikamaru was the first to recover. Arching an eyebrow, he managed to casually say, "Well, this is awkward. Mind getting off me?"

"Erp!" A rather high-pitched squeak escaped Ino's lips as she climbed off him, turning away quickly to hide her furious blush.

"That was...rather troublesome," Shikamaru remarked, slowly rising into a sitting position.

There was an awkward silence. Ino found herself staring up at the sky and studying the clouds. "Look." Ino pointed upwards. "There's a cloud shaped like a heart," she said nonchalantly, hoping this would divert both of their thoughts from the previous incident.

Shikamaru's eyes followed the direction her finger was pointing. "Yeah."

Ino's hand slowly fell and clenched into a fist that rested at her chest. She closed her eyes, her mind calling to the scenes that recently occured - her plucking the daisy, her blowing the dandelion, Shikamaru blowing the dandelion, and now, the heart-shaped cloud that hovered overhead. Did all of this have a meaning? Maybe she read too many of those books that explain how to spot signs of love in the future and what things to wish upon. Still, still...she felt as if all of these things were connected somehow.

He loves me.

Ba-dump. Ba-dump.

"Do you still want to know what I wished for, Shikamaru?"

Shikamaru raised an eyebrow. It was rare that he heard her speak in such a soft tone, not like the usual loud and shrill tone she used. His shoulder slowly rose in a shrug. "What?"

"...Courage."

"Courage?" he repeated, confused, studying her through narrowed eyes. Why would she want courage? She was already bold and brave enough to the extent where it scared him sometimes. "Aren't you bold and brave enough, Ino?"

Ino's hands clasped together, and she swallowed nervously. "No," she confessed. "I'm not bold and brave enough to..." Ino swallowed again, her voice trailing off.

"To do what?"

He loves me.

Ba-dump. Ba-dump.

"...this."

She whirled around slowly, giving Shikamaru a sad smile. "I know I'm not bold and brave enough to accept what you have to say," she admitted softly, walking towards him, "but..." Then, placing her hands on his shoulder, she kissed him.

Shikamaru's eyes widened for a moment before they slowly closed. He didn't know what else to do, so he just allowed her to kiss him. Half of him wanted to push her away, but the other half wanted this to go on a bit longer.

It seemed to go on forever, but at last they parted. Ino blushed, touching her lips with the tips of her fingers. Shikamaru turned away, looking more confused than embarassed. What had just happened? Did they just kiss?

He felt slightly dizzy from all of the bewildered thoughts rushing into his head. How could one simple kiss make him feel so...weak?

The embarassed, somewhat pleased expression on Ino's face gradually faded. Her smile wavered and was replaced by an anxious frown. "...Well, at least say something!" Ino cried out, breaking the empty and uncomfortable silence that hung onto the air.

He looked at her and became even more confused by the expression on her face. It was one of deep longing and sadness. Why was she looking at him in such a way? That look seemed unfamiliar to him. She was always glaring or making a face at him. The Ino he was used to seeing had a mask of annoyance when he irritated her or happiness when Sasuke was in sight. He had never seen her with such a desperate, sorrowful expression. He didn't know what to think, or what to say.

"What am I supposed to say?" Shikamaru turned away, feeling both uncomfortable and guilty. Why was she making him feel this way?

Ino felt tears building up in her eyes, and she didn't have enough energy to force them back. This was exactly how she had pictured it - her kissing him with all of her heart, and him...just simply confused and doubtful. What was she thinking? How could he possibly feel the same way?

He loves me not.

Shikamaru turned to look at her again, but he was startled to see a single tear slide down her cheek. "I-Ino...?"

"Sorry. I-I'm sorry," Ino choked out. Her hand flew to her right cheek, and her eyes suddenly widened a bit, as if she just realized that she was crying. She bit the inside of her lip, which didn't help make the pain go away. She couldn't focus her eyes on his face, and instead, she stared down at the ground.

"What are you apologizing for?"

"I-I'm sorry. I just forced myself on you, even though you probably didn't like it. I just...I just kissed you without even considering how you would feel..." Ino wrung her hands, and she sniffled. Every drop of tear that slid down her face sunk into the violet fabric of her shirt. "I-I'm such an idiot..."

"Quit your rambling, Ino."

Ino lifted her head, startled by his response. And then she felt his lips over hers.

She was so shocked, so stunned that the tears that threatened to continue falling immediately stopped. She just stood there, dazed, as Nara Shikamaru kissed her. What was he doing? She could feel her heart beating faster, and she could feel herself slipping away into a light, peaceful paradise.

His lips weren't harsh or forceful...just very light and very soft. It made her feel tingly all over, and the sensation still shivered pleasantly within her even when he drew away.

"Well..." he whispered, his voice surprisingly soft and rather tender as he turned away and stared up at sky, his eyes focused on the heart-shaped cloud. "You know what, Ino?" he said in a far away voice, his half-lidded eyes gazing at her questioningly.

She was still dazed and stunned by what had just happened. Did this mean that he felt the same, too? It made her feel as light as a cloud. She felt as if she were simply floating, like ash caught in a draft from a dying fire. Her heart pulsed with such joy and happiness that she was bewildered. She had never felt this happy before. Had her empty void been cured with what she wanted most?

"...What, Shikamaru?" she finally managed to muster. She felt his hand bump into hers, and then she was startled when he closed his hand around hers. His hand was warm and surprisingly soft, she thought absentmindedly. She had thought that a man's hand would be rough and calloused.

She had thought a lot of things, she admitted to herself, and most of the time, what was true was actually the exact opposite of what she thought. But now, she didn't need to think about anything. Instinctively, she held his hand. She didn't want to trouble herself by thinking. She just wanted to stay like this, holding Shikamaru's hand, staring up at the heart-shaped cloud that proclaimed what had cured both of their voids.

"I'm glad that both of our wishes came true."

He loves me.