Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto
Being a genius was already troublesome, but being a lazy genius was way beyond that. Whatever holy power gave Shikamaru his over 200 IQ intelligence, he would curse it for all eternity because being so smart was, simply said, troublesome.
When recently, at the age of twenty-three, he finally passed his jounin exam with flying colors, everyone would just shrug and say 'Well, about time he passed. He's Shikamaru Nara, the famous, lazy 200 IQ genius'.
Oh, how Shikamaru wished that it was just that simple. No such luck; unfortunately, his brain didn't provide him with the knowledge of all Nara techniques and already developed taijutsu, instead leaving the genius to master it all by himself.
Frankly, his intelligence was much more of a bother than it was worth.
While at this particular subject of what exactly was a bother, Shikamaru's generously-endowed mind jumped to the matter of girls and his marital status as a bachelor ever since his birth. Or rather, pale blonde girls with pale blue eyes and the lack of such in his life.
"Shut up, idiots." Lazily drawing out syllables, Shikamaru stared at his so-called friends, who were currently busy howling with laughter, spilling bits of ramen in all directions possible. Irritated, he wiped his face clean from saliva and food and, hopeful to dodge another portion of it, hid his face in his arms, comfortably nestling it on the table of the famous Ichiraku Ramen stand.
The laughter was muffled a little now and the man sighed. "Why me?" He mumbled to himself and to whoever was listening to him. "I am a good ninja. I never killed anyone, unless it was necessary, I tried to carry out mission the best I can, no matter how troublesome they were...So, why me?"
Honestly, all that he wanted from life was a quiet, monotone life of an average shinobi. Ordinary wife who would tend the house, two healthy children and peaceful retirement when their future would be secure. It wasn't much to ask for and yet, he couldn't find enough motivation to even make the slightest effort to achieve it. Not with her, constantly on his mind.
A pat on his back brought him out of the self-pity circle his mind was currently running in. He warily lifted his head, noticing that the laughter subsided.
"Sorry, Shikamaru." Naruto apologized lightly, slurping with delight on another bowl of ramen. "I just couldn't help myself, hearing you say that."
"No wonder." Kiba Inuzuka sniggered from behind the Uzumaki. "A Konoha wonder, boy genius with 200 IQ, asking for an advice in such trivial matters! After all the complaining in the past, too."
"Now, now, guys. Don't laugh. We really should help Shikamaru to solve this problem." Ironically, Chouji was barely concealing his laughter as he spoke, his plump body shaking slightly from the muffled giggles.
Shikamaru rolled his eyes when the three of them started to chuckle to each other yet again. He seriously contemplated if he was needed anymore, seeing that the entertainment he'd just provided could last for another hours.
"Still! You haven't told us who the lucky gal is, Shikamaru! What girl drove you so crazy that you asked us for an advice?" Kiba slung his arm around the man's shoulders and granting him a wolfish grin to which the Nara responded with a bored 'What-the-hell-do-you-want-from-me' look.
Knowing the inexhaustible stamina of his two friends and determination of the third companion, Shikamaru would rather commit suicide than tell them who exactly made him so desperate. Anything would be better than facing the latter consequences his friends would cause, trying to help him.
However, before he could firmly state his opinion on this matter and before Kiba, along with Naruto, started to pester him, a familiar figure appeared on the street successfully silencing the four of them.
Ino Yamanaka obviously hadn't noticed their curious and concerned gazes on her as she dragged her feet slowly, towards the flower shop, a long curtain of blonde hair blocking her face. Her clothes were torn and bloodied and sweat was glistening on her skin as the sun shone on her when she walked away, swerving only slightly.
Trust Ino to make an unforgettable entry. Shikamaru thought inwardly, staring at the slowly fading form with his hands tightly folded in fists on the table.
"Whoa." Naruto broke the silence, slowly gulping down the ramen on his chopsticks. "What happened to her? I've never seen Ino so beat up!"
"She's a spy in training and applying for Konoha interrogator at the same time." Chouji sighed, shaking his head a bit with pity. "She has about three or at least two training sessions extra, every week. Not to mention that she still carries out jounin missions." He sighed, turning to his meal and stirring the content of the bowl slowly. "Both, me and Shikamaru tried to persuade her that it's too much, that she should take it more slowly...But she wouldn't listen. Besides, we didn't have many chances to talk to her. We don't have our team meetings, anymore."
"Oh? Why not?" Kiba inquired, twirling his pair of chopsticks in his hands, before placing them in his empty bowl.
The Akimichi shrugged. "Well, when all of us became chuunins, we went separate paths. Ino wanted to become a spy, I wanted to teach and Shikamaru preferred to continue his career as an ordinary ninja."
After Asuma's death, Chouji took it on himself to take his place and applied for a jounin teacher test, which he passed successfully. Right now, he had his first genin team to take care of and, as he said himself, now he could fully understand why Asuma-sensei was such a sadist on their training sessions. Shikamaru didn't have the courage to ask what Chouji meant by that, choosing to stay blissfully unaware of obvious child abuse his friend was implying.
"I see...and, let me guess, once Ino was out of reach Shikamaru found out just how much he loves her?" The Inuzuka grinned with triumph as a beet red blush spread all over the genius's face.
The Nara chose not to react to the provocative question, choosing instead to turn his head slightly in a feeble attempt to pretend that the orange light of setting sun created the violent flush on his cheeks.
Chouji grinned cheekily. "Checkmate."
"Huh? Shikamaru, in love with Ino? But she's loud! And bossy! You said you hated woman like that!" Pointing an accusing finger towards the dark-haired jounin, Naruto unintentionally spit bits of ramen on Kiba's face.
Kiba growled slightly, wiping his cheek clean with his sleeve. "Naruto, you eat like a pig. And it's not like Shikamaru wanted to fall in love with her." He smirked. "You're already an adult and yet you're still a child when it comes to such matters. Only someone as dumb as you wouldn't notice the obvious."
"Look who's talking, dog-breath!"
Shikamaru tuned out the bickering as usual, feeling the urge to run after his former teammate grow stronger, like a bubble. His frown turned deeper when he realized that he'd gladly carry her home if needed and maybe even tuck her to bed, anything just to make this damn, troublesome feeling of concern disappear!
Ino was already out of sight so in the end he did nothing besides rising slightly from his seat, only to plop down heavily after a minute. A sigh escaped his lips and his hand buried deeply in his dark locks, shielding his face.
It was highly disturbing that he was actually ready to do such things, even for her.
He slumped more in his chair.
"You want to go after her, huh?" Chouji commented lightly, observing his friend.
"Yea." Shikamaru grumbled, grateful that the other two were too busy to argue to listen to anything else. "Mendouksee."
"Does it mean that you're whipped, like your father?"
The Nara contemplated it for a while. "Well," he replied dryly. "I guess you could say I surpassed him."
"Tadaima." He lazily called out, opening the door of the Nara residence and sliding off his shoes, leaving them carelessly on the floor.
"Where were you this long? I thought you had a day off!" Just as usual, his mother appeared in the kitchen door, her whole posture signalizing displeasure and irritation. "I made you dinner, but it's already cold. You'll have to heat it up yourself."
He didn't even bother to head towards the kitchen, already proceeding towards the stairs. "That's not necessary. I've already eaten, I was hanging out with my friends."
"I'll freeze it then and you'll warm it up tomorrow, for breakfast. I'm not letting my cooking go to waste."
Shikamaru merely grunted, a signal that he acknowledged her order and slowly dragged himself upstairs.
"I met Nadeshiko Yamanaka today." It was nothing special, seeing that the Nara and Yamanaka clans were bonded by strong friendship, but it was something in his mother's voice that made Shikamaru stop, halfway up.
"She's really worried about Ino." Yoshino Nara folded hands on her apron, a look of worry crossing her features. "You heard that Ino moved out about three weeks ago? Now she's renting a flat, quite nearby. Anyway, ever since that, Nadeshiko barely caught a glimpse of her. She's barely home and even then, she's only sleeping for few hours, before going to train and on various missions."
She paused, looking at her son critically, from head to toe. A small grimace made its' way on her face.
Shikamaru had the elegance to remain unaffected under the scrutinizing glance. "What?"
"Quite a contrast, comparing to you. You barely train, ever since passing that exam."
The man mumbled something under his breath, before asking in a louder voice. "Did she say something more about Ino?"
Yoshino let out a sigh. "Well, she did say that Ino took too much on her shoulders. Especially that she's determined to provide for herself, carrying out missions to pay for the flat, food and so on. Even though her parents are ready to help her with that."
Shikamaru's hand tightened on the rail. "She has to earn for herself...?" With a heavy sigh, he continued his journey upstairs to his room.
As soon as he was out of sight, Yoshino let out a small smile and when the sounds of shower being turned on reached her ears, she hurried to the phone, dialing a number quickly.
"Nadeshiko...? It's me, Yoshino. Just as we thought, Shikamaru was really worried about Ino. And you know how much he has to care to be actually worried about something, much less someone."
A sigh could be heard on the other side of phone. "I'm glad. I'll be much calmer if Shikamaru will be there, watching over her."
"I bet that they'll become a couple really soon now." The Nara woman giggled excitedly and was answered with equal excited giggles from her female companion.
"Oh, I hope so. Ino's too stubborn for her own sake and I don't know how long she'll hold on."
"And my son is too lazy for his own sake. It's about time he started a life of his own and Ino is the only one who can make that bum to do something with it. Even if she's not aware of it."
With his body still wet from the shower, only slightly dried up, Shikamaru stepped into his room, with a towel around his hips being the only form of cover. Not bothering to turn on the light, the young man stood in front of a large mirror, contemplating his looks.
An average looking guy, with black, wet hair plastered all around his shoulders stared back at him, small eyes narrowing in obvious disapprove and the constant frown on his forehead.
With only one hand holding up the towel, Shikamaru turned around, judging his looks from both profiles and straightening his back, the other hand holding his hair upwards, in a characteristic ponytail.
After a minute he returned to his previous, slouching pose and let his hair fall on his face again. Nothing worth mentioning, when it came to his looks. Nothing that stood out in crowds. It was just as he'd always want; he was an ordinary looking man, perfect to lead an ordinary life.
'Aren't I the luckiest guy ever?' He thought with sarcasm evident in his inner voice. 'Of course, apart from the fact that I just had to fall for a girl that is almost obsessive about physical appearances.'
"Flowers are troublesome. Why do people care about them so much anyway?" A spiky-haired boy grumbled, looking with slight admiration as his teammate's slim fingers gracefully created a splendid bouquet for his mother's birthday.
"These aren't just flowers, Shikamaru. Each of them has a meaning. Plants have their own language." She took out a big, beautiful looking flower and positioned it in the center. "For example, look here. It's a beautiful flower, right? So big and bright...But, it's poisonous for many bugs and animals that try to eat even a smallest bit of it. Perhaps not exactly lethal, but it causes painful stomachache."
Shikamaru looked at the big flower warily, before focusing on Ino's hands again.
"Now, these." She took few, weed looking like plants with small, white flowers. "These are simple. Nothing special, right? They can't be used in a bouquet unless as an addition, somewhere in the background. Not in the middle. But, you know what? Their juice is used for many ointments and it's great for healing. It's really useful." She wrapped the small flowers around the big one and tied it up with a blue ribbon. "I like those flowers a lot. Even though they're not standing out, there's a lot more to them than it seems at a first glance."
Shikamaru's heart started to beat slightly faster. "Is that so..."
"Yup!" Ino nodded happily, handing him the flower arrangement. "But, I like the colorful flowers even more. It's so pretty!"
His heartbeat came to a rapid stop and then slowed down to its' earlier pace. Something on his stomach level sank. "Really."
Frustrated, Shikamaru ran his fingers through his hair and turned away from the mirror, slowly making his way towards the window. The memory gradually faded away from his mind.
"Even though you say such smart things from time to time, you're still blind, Ino." He grumbled irritated, looking in the darkness covered Konoha. A small figure slowly made its' way under his window and he glared at it, irritated.
The sight of long, blonde hair glittering in the dimly lights that greeted him, was not the one he expected and on pure instinct, he hid behind the curtains.
'She has to provide for herself,' He gulped, remembering his mother's words. He'd like to help her somehow, really he did but she'd never accept, just because she's too damn prideful!
As he watched her go, obviously worn-out and exhausted, his mind suddenly made a decision. To hell with everything. That troublesome, damned feeling that made him restless for God knows how many nights, has to end. Once and for all.
The knowledge he's only in his towel was the only thing that prevented him from jumping out of the window and running up to Ino.
He put on his clothes frantically and dashed downstairs, slipping on his shoes already halfway out of the door.
"I'll be right back!" Yoshino heard her son call and the door slam. With a delighted smile, she positioned herself near the window, squinting her eyes to get a better view of what was happening outside.
"Ino!!!" He'd caught up with her easily, especially after she stopped and turned around. Panting only slightly from the short run he steadied her by grabbing her firmly by the shoulders, unconsciously drawing her slightly closer to him.
She was beautiful, he noted with a sudden lump in his throat and, much to his embarrassment, he could feel a blush coming on his face, spreading slowly so that it reached the tip of his ears. Long, blonde hair slipped from the messy ponytail, encircling her beautiful face and big blue eyes looked at him, widening even more. He could see his reflection in them.
Later, Shikamaru Nara would seriously wonder what was wrong with him that night and what made him do what he did. And if he should be thankful for it or not.
Tightening his hold on her, Shikamaru took a deep breath and simply blurted out the first thing that came into his mind, seeing her like this.
"Ino... Will you marry me?"
And with that simple phrase, everything started.
A/N: I really think it's not a bad chapter. So, please, onegai, review! I need really a lot of encouragment on this one! R-E-V-I-E-W!