A Year and a Half Later…

It was a beautiful summer's day in Konoha. The sun was shining, the birds were singing. Residents everywhere were enjoying the morning outside, walking or visiting the parks before the temperature got to high. Everyone was outside, having a great time.

Except for Nara Shikamaru, who was trying to fit a few last winks of sleep in before his mother broke down his door… again.

However, the bright sun rays were nearly too much for his eyes to handle. It didn't help that his blinds weren't thick enough to block all the light from getting into his room. Of course, most teenagers are out of bed by 10:30 in the morning, so no one really ever bothered to make such strong blinds. The lazy boy tried his best to block the sun out by smashing his face into his pillow.

But the sandman wasn't on his side today, because his cell phone rang just that moment to wake him up.

"I'd Do Anything / Just to hold you in my arms-"

Ugggh, he thought, not bothering to lift his head from the pillow, and just reaching to his nightstand for his phone, I know that ring tone…

"Hello?" He said, voice muffled by his pillow. He shifted in bed slightly to be more easily understood, but still didn't open his eyes. He rubbed his brow; he got his reply instantly.

"Hey, they just let us use our phones again. I have Baggage Claim area A; we're gate 3. You're coming to pick me up still, right?"

"Uh huh." He mumbled.

"Great! I'll see you in a little bit." She paused, "And get out of bed now. Don't be late."

"Uh huh, see you." He yawned and turned off his phone, then covered his face with his pillow again. A few more minutes wouldn't hurt….

His phone vibrated in his hand. He grumbled, knowing it was a text message, and bothered to open his eyes to check it.

Get out of your bed and come pick me up you lazy ass!

He laughed and shut his phone, then got up to go to the bathroom. She knew him so well.

The Christmas that was planned a year and a half prior had gone… almost without fail. Once Ino had mentioned it to her father (which was promptly when she sat on the plane with him), he blew up in rage and came up with at least twenty different excuses for why she shouldn't go. However, after a few days of careful evidence and arguing, Ino and her mother convinced Inoichi to allow her to spend winter break with the Naras. For two weeks she was able to sit around lazily with her boyfriend again, watching TV and cleaning his room.

After that break they hadn't seen each other again until prom. Ino didn't care about Iwa's prom, since she had no real friends there, so of course she bought the perfect purple dress and attended Konoha's dance instead. It took a while to convince Shikamaru to go (despite him having already proposed the idea himself), but everything worked out still. She even got him to dance some.

But after that April, the couple began to suffer a lack of communication. Both had to figure out what to do about college, what to maybe major in, and how to pay for it all. They applied to most of the same colleges, but Ino obviously didn't compare to Shikamaru's mental ability and didn't get accepted to as many schools as he did. Eventually, they found a solution: Shikamaru had gotten a full ride scholarship to Kishimoto Univesity, about an hour outside of Konoha. Ino got accepted there as well, but in order to pay for it had to work hard to earn scholarship money. She spent the next year working on a portfolio of art and design, and eventually earned a modest art scholarship that was enough to convince her parents that this school was the right choice.

Fall classes started in September, which was only two weeks away. But Ino was impatient to return home to Konoha, so requested to come earlier. Her plane had just landed, and now Shikamaru was driving down the highway towards the airport to pick her up for her mini-vacation before school began. For the next two weeks she'd be staying with the Naras, just chilling until classes in September.

He walked into the baggage claim room an instantly spotted her not too far away, her back turned to him and watching the suitcases go by on the electric rack. He smirked and quietly approached her.

"Boo." He said quietly into her left ear from just behind. She flinched slightly and turned her head to see who had snuck up on her, then instantly squealed and in one quick moment had her arms tightly woven around his neck and her lips crushed against his. He kissed her back even more fervently.

"Shikamaru!" She cheered when she pulled away, completely ignoring the fact that he had tried to surprise her, "I've missed you so much!"

"I know, I know," he laughed, "it was clear from your fifty plus text messages a day. I had to get a whole new messaging plan because of you, remember?"

"It's only natural," she rolled her eyes, "Don't tell me you didn't miss me too."

"Don't even joke about that," he nearly glared, "You know I did." With Ino gone, Shikamaru had an even harder time dealing with everyday life. She was the reason he got out of bed every morning back when she lived in the area (aside from his mother yelling at him when he slept in past noon).

She smiled, "I know."

"Good." He loosened his embrace on her so they could stand next to one another watching the luggage rack, "Where's your suitcase?"

"Ahh…" she mumbled, looking around. She finally spotted a suitcase that had just entered the rack, "There!"

Shikamaru frowned. The suitcase was incredibly large (and purple, of course, but that's not important), larger than any suitcase his family owned, "What's in that thing?"

"Oh, you know, clothes, make up, hair dryer, flat iron," she rambled on a long list, "shoes-"

"Okay, okay, got it." He walked up to the line and grabbed it, nearly falling over when he finally lugged it off the electric line, "Is this the only one?"

"Are you kidding? No! I still have two more to find!"

Shikamaru groaned.

After dropping off all of Ino's luggage at Shikamaru's house (his mother refused to help him, or to allow his father to help him. Yoshino wanted Shikamaru to learn from this), they headed out to Starbucks to meet up with some friends. They were the first ones there, but after they got their drinks someone finally showed up.



Ino cheered in delight and shoved he frappachino into Shikamaru's hand so she could run up and hug her best friend. The two girls jumped and cheered together, happy to see one another again.

"How was Ame? Did you like it there?"

"It rained. A lot." Ino rolled her eyes, "And it's no Konoha."

After leaving Konoha, Ino's family had stayed in Iwa for about seven months before moving again to the city of Ame. Her parents were still situated there right now, and would be coming to Konoha to help Ino settle into her dorm room come September.

Speaking of which, Sakura would be attending Kishimoto University with Shikamaru and Ino that following month, and was even going to be rooming with Ino. She had finally decided this past year that she would be going into Pre-Med after a long, grueling process of trying to decide what her use was in life.

"So hey, how's Naruto?" Ino laughed.

"Oh, you know," Sakura sighed, "Looking for ways to yell at and beat up Sasuke, trying not to get into trouble but failing miserably, the usual. But lately he's just been upset about college."

Naruto, unlike many of the people in their little circle of friends, hadn't gotten into a university and would be attending Konoha Community College instead in the fall. He was incredibly upset about not being able to go to the same school as his girlfriend Sakura, but she was sure that he would come and visit whenever he had the chance. On top of that, his arch rival Sasuke had graduated from Oto Academy with top honors and was going to be attending one of the most prestigious universities in the world, so Naruto was always grumbling about this horrible turn of events.

As Ino and Sakura continued catching up, Shikamaru sat down on the sofa at the side of the coffee shop and closed his eyes, sighing. It was about then that Choji showed up.

"Hey man," Shikamaru greeted his best friend, who waved and sat down with him, "Not gonna get something to eat?"

"In a minute," Choji replied, "Depends on how long the girls there are squealing at each other; I was going to say hello to Ino first…" Choji was also attending Kishimoto University in the fall and planning on rooming with Shikamaru.

"May be a while, they haven't seen one another since April." It was true. Despite the lack of communication, Ino managed to find her way back to Konoha to visit during the Christmas and Prom of their senior year. But that had all been ages ago, so she of course had a lot of talking to do.

The rest of her friends eventually filed into the Starbucks. Kiba and Hinata showed up first after Sakura, neither of whom would be attending college with Ino and Shikamaru. Kiba was going to be a community college with Naruto (but was a lot more calm about it. He had seen it coming, after all), and Hinata was being sent off to an expensive institute that her cousin Neji was already attending. Lee showed up next; he had earned a track scholarship the year prior and was already enrolled at Kishimoto with Tenten (who arrived next with Neji.) Finally Naruto stepped into the coffee establishment, extremely unhappy (as he grew more so the closer Sepetember got), and instantly seeking Sakura for comfort.

With the whole gang there (the baristas were slightly surprised with such an influx; but then again, this IS Starbucks), Ino finally felt at home again. Leaving Sakura with her boyfriend, she collapsed onto the sofa between Shikamaru and Choji and took her frappachino, then burrowed herself as close into her boyfriend's embrace, who had already wrapped his free arm around her. She took a sip of her drink and smiled and Choji.

"It's nice to see you again!"

"You too," he smiled back, "Now excuse me as I get some food."

The two watched Choji leave to get in line before they turned their attention back to one another. Ino's smiled widened, "I'm so happy to be back."

"You look happy," Shikamaru laughed and drank his mocha espresso, "And it's making me happy to see you happy."

"Good." She laughed. She closed her eyes and leaned her head onto his chest, enjoying the moment. Shikamaru ran a hand through her ponytail and averted his gaze over to the door.

"Oh great."

"What?" Ino opened her eyes again and looked up at Shikamaru's face, which was masked in a glare directed straight at the most recent entrant into the shop. She followed his gaze and repeated his groan.

"Oh great."

"Is that really a way to greet an old friend?" Sai smiled mysteriously, "I didn't know you were back in town Miss Yamanaka."

"Arrived today." Shikamaru answered for her, "What do you want?"

"I can honestly promise you that I did not know you would be having a…" he looked around and surveyed the room, "gathering here. I only stopped by to get a drink before heading home. I have work to do, you know."

"What kind of work?" Ino asked, curious.

"Art work. I have a scholarship to maintain." He grinned, "Full ride to the Masashi Art Institute."

Shikamaru grunted, and Ino rolled her eyes, "Congratulations."

"Thank you," he nodded, "And welcome home." He turned away from them and got in line.

"Shikamaru, you have to let the past go," Ino scolded, elbowing him in the rib. He flinched but didn't say anything, obviously still annoyed. "That was a year and a half ago."

He still didn't respond. Ino laughed and sipped her drink again, before allowing her gaze to pass over the doorway again. She halted, and let out a sustained groan. Shikamaru followed her stare and laughed audibly.

"You have to let the past go, Ino."

Ino scowled at him, because there in the doorway stood Temari and her younger brother, Gaara. Gaara looked at them and then quickly looked away, ignoring the couple and heading straight for the line. Temari, however, lingered.

"Still together, I see."

"Yes." Ino frowned, "Why are you here?"

"Why does anyone walk into Starbucks? To get coffee." She laughed, "I thought I heard a whisper around here about you coming back, Yamanaka."

While Ino grumbled, Shikamaru decided to speak up, being just a casual as she had just been with Sai, "And what have you been up to?"

Temari smiled at him, "Went back to Suna, you know; attending college there. Gaara is too; today I actually came to pick him up and take him home, but he wanted to stop by here."

Ino looked across the room at the line, where Naruto was grinning widely and patting Gaara on the back, who looked slightly uncomfortable but still rather pleased. She smiled slightly, but frowned again when she looked back at Temari.

"Good luck to you both," Shikamaru nodded.

"Thanks. You too." She eyed Ino and smirked before leaving to retrieve her brother. Ino growled.

"You calm down, now."

"You shut up."

He laughed and reached to brush the bangs out of her face so he could see both of her icy blue eyes, "You know that I love you, and nothing is tearing us apart again."

She couldn't help but smile, "Especially not a move. I'm looking forward to spending the next four years in one place."

"And I'm looking forward to having you there."

He kissed her again, and she knew that his words were true.

September came. Ino was moving into her dorm finally at Kishimoto Univesity with Sakura. Her father had arrived and was lugging the boxes full of the items she had left at their house in Ame into the new residence.

"Another month, Another move." She said, looking at the door to her new dorm. She smiled.

Change was good.


Thanks for reading this guys, and thanks for all the reviews. I've had a great time writing this and I hope you've all had an equally great time reading it! I AM glad I finished it, though. Like, no doubt. I feel accomplished.

So hey, you know…


Oh no she didn't.