A/N: First of all, I want to wish "Happy Birthday, Ino!!!"
This is not originally going to be Ino's birthday fic. I intentionally wrote "Kiss The Girl" for both Shikamaru and Ino. Shikamaru has got his present yesterday, but due to my continuous headache, I was unable to finish Ino's part. I wrote this chapter long ago, so I think I should post it now as Ino's birthday present, because it fits somehow. Better than nothing, right?
I apologize for any grammar mistakes. Enjoy.
Little did Shikamaru and Ino know that despite the obvious differences between their fathers, in looks and in actions, they did have the same talent.
It all started (or rather discovered) on the day they were born.
Both soon-to-be-first-time fathers stood outside the maternity ward, worried sick and also very nervous about their wives. Shikaku managed to keep his calm demeanor but Inoichi had puked once. Choza was there as well; to give emotional support just like his two teammates had done over four months ago.
Well, obviously Shikamaru was born first, although their mothers went through labor at the same time. His birth was not really difficult for Yoshino, but Ino's mother, who had weak body, struggled. She stayed for almost twenty hours in the maternity ward after Yoshino had been wheeled out of the room, sending a panicked Inoichi another round to the bathroom.
Shikaku also had a boy, which Choza figured could be a very good friend to his son. The baby was red and very fragile when the three men huddled to see him close, cradled in Shikaku's arms. He had a cloud of soft, black hair and his eyes were as brown as his father. He didn't make any sound; just blinking at the crowd before him and yawning occasionally.
Shikaku cooed at his baby, the sight Inoichi had never thought he would see. But he was happy for his friend. He truly was.
Then after an eternity (well, it felt like it) of waiting, his wife finally gave birth.
They all heard the loud cry from inside the ward and Inoichi instantly knew that this child, his child was nothing like Shikaku or Choza's. And sure enough, his happy bubble towards his friend instantly burst into nothingness when the nurse informed him that he had daughter.
A girl. Something Inoichi hadn't expected at all. He wanted a son, just like Shikaku and Choza had. Long gone his dream about passing the Yamanaka Clan techniques. Long gone his hopes for the new generation of Ino-Shika-Cho.
Shikaku found Inoichi outside their wives' room, looking somewhat unhappy.
"Hey, cheer up. Be thankful that your wife and kid are safe and healthy."
"Easy for you to say. You had a boy."
"What's wrong with having a girl?"
And Inoichi went into a long lecture about how raising a daughter was not as easy (and as terrific) as raising a son.
"Don't worry about it. My boy will take care of your girl just fine."
Inoichi considered that (he supposed his daughter could be a ninja after all and it was indeed possible for his dream about the new Ino-Shika-Cho thingy to come true) then shot a pointed look at his friend. "Forever."
Shikaku smiled kindly. "If that's what you want."
Ino had the same blonde hair and blue eyes just like her father, and shared the same drive and determination, so completely different from her gentle, soft-spoken mother. She grew up to be beautiful and very active and loved by everybody, being the only girl amongst the boys she was. Not to anybody's surprise, Shikamaru grew up to be the exact copy of his father. He had the same intelligent eyes, shared the same passion in shougi and loved to slack off whenever he could. The two fathers witnessed what their child had become.
How on Earth are they going to be together when one acts like he comes from Mars and the other from Venus?
"They're totally different from each other," Inoichi complained.
"Opposites attract." Shikaku was always positive.
Celebrating their birthdays together became a tradition. It was one of the few chances Shikaku and Inoichi could get the two to sit together at least for a couple of hours. It was obvious they didn't get along greatly. While Ino always wanted to play rough and fun, Shikamaru wanted slow and steady. His lazy demeanor seemed to anger her often, while her constant bossing annoyed him a lot.
"They could hardly stand each other."
Shikaku chuckled. "No, they're getting along just fine."
"But they fight all the time!"
"Like an old married couple."
Other than spending their time together on their birthdays, Shikamaru and Ino rarely hang out or even see and talk to each other. Shikamaru found comfort in Choji's company because he demanded less of him and seemed to be with him all the time. Ino, on the other hand, had become popular and befriended a girl named Sakura. They became best friends but turned enemies when they discovered that they like the same boy. (They became friends again later in the future, with strong sense of rivalry in almost everything but let's not get into that)
On the last day in the Academy, Ino went home fuming because despite what she wanted, she was teamed up with the most boring person on Earth (well, she certainly oblivious to the fact that her father and Shikamaru's father had something to do with this). After she lashed out her frustration, Inoichi (who was quietly listening) asked her to bring Shikamaru to meet him.
Ino pouted but went to get him anyway.
"Troublesome…what did he want from me?" Shikamaru asked, dragging his feet following the blonde. Ino shrugged and tried to walk a bit farther than him. Being with him almost all day today seemed to get on her nerves. "Geez…like I know." She answered in a clipped tone. Shikamaru no longer asked questions; he knew when to keep his mouth shut.
"Listen," Inoichi spoke sternly when Shikamaru was already in front of him. He liked that boy enough to be nice to him but sometimes he just like to show his dark side. "Now that you two are teammates, I want you to take care of Ino."
"What?" Ino shrieked. The idea of having the laziest person protecting her was completely and utterly absurd. How could Shikamaru protect her, when he didn't care enough to protect himself? "I don't need protection!"
Inoichi ignored his daughter. "Whatever happens, don't let her out of your sight. Watch her very carefully, okay?"
And poor Shikamaru (although the old man didn't scare him the slightest bit) promised that he will do whatever he can to protect Ino so that she didn't have a scratch on every time she came back from mission.
"I don't want him to take care of me!" Ino was still complaining long after Shikamaru had gone home. "He doesn't even take care of himself, then how on Earth is he capable of protecting me?"
"Oh, but he will. And he must."
"But why? Why not Choji instead? I think I can trust Choji rather than Shikamaru. He's lazy and a coward. Why it must to be him?"
Inoichi bent down a little, making their eyes on the same level, and spoke softly but firm. "Because if he doesn't, Ino darling, nobody will."
Ino didn't believe him. Well, not until later in the future anyway.
When Shikamaru relayed the news to Shikaku, the old man didn't seem surprise at all (of course he knew about that, after all, he was part of the scheme). "That sounds about right." He commented.
Shikamaru shot a are-you-kidding-me look at his father.
"When the Yamanaka use their jutsu, their soul will leave the body, making them unconscious and completely vulnerable." Shikaku explained. "And since our technique keeps us immobile, unlike the Akimichi, it is our duty to take of care of them."
Shikaku agreed. "I have to say looking over Inoichi's body while he's off doing his own thing is not the best job in the world, but hey, you're different. You get to take care of Ino."
Shikamaru raised his eyebrows.
"Well, she's a girl. You'll learn to appreciate it when you get older. Believe me, son. You will get all the benefit."
Like Ino, Shikamaru didn't believe his father. He didn't even understand what that meant.
Days come and go, and the bonds between Team Ten members had grown into something unbreakable. From unable to stand each other's presence when they were younger, now Ino and Shikamaru were able to accept each other fully. They were inseparable during missions, because Shikamaru was still holding on to the promise he made with Inoichi. He tried to protect Ino the best he could although she insisted many times that she didn't need any protection and could take care of herself.
Shikamaru had finally realized that taking care of Ino wasn't troublesome at all. It felt natural. Saving her, protecting her from harm and danger was like a reflex. His body just reacted that way. And growing up, he saw her body matured from a girl into something beautiful he cannot even describe. She was always by his side, right? So there was no way he could've missed that she had grown taller and had curves in all the right places. It was proven the day she discarded the bandages. And he always knew the fact that she was pretty and became prettier, perfect even as she grew up.
Like his father had said, he learned to appreciate it. And like his father had said, he got all the benefit.
Ino was the first girl he touched, held in his arms, the closest girl he ever got to be with. She was soft and light and smelled really nice. She gave him such strange feelings every time they were in contact, although he never mistaken it for attraction or something like that. He was a boy, she was a girl; it was natural for his body to react that way. He knew because his other male friends reacted that way too towards certain girls. That was it.
And as for Ino, there was nobody she trusted as she trusted Shikamaru. Of course she was a bit mortified to leave her body behind in his care at first, when she went off taking over people's mind, but Shikamaru proven to be trustworthy. He never did anything to her, never took advantage, never tried to do anything perverted she thought he would do. In fact, Shikamaru even complained that taking care of her body was a troublesome job for him. But still, he never abandoned his responsibility. Her body was always in perfect condition whenever she released her jutsu and sometimes she even woke in his arms. Seeing his face hovered over hers felt strangely calming and surprisingly gave her the sense of security she had never felt before.
And she loved it.
When she thought about what her father had said that there was no other boy who will take care of her but Shikamaru, she almost believed it. After all, he seemed like he was always there at certain points in her life, like a permanent background that she couldn't get rid of, or like the shadow appeared whenever there was light. His existence became important to her as time goes by.
On days without mission, they didn't usually hang out except if it was a team thing, like going to Yakiniku or simply training. Other than that, they usually do their own thing; Shikamaru hanging out with Choji and watching the clouds, Ino studying medic with Sakura and managing her family's flower shop. But their birthdays were still a tradition. Their families still got together on that day (usually on Ino's birthday) and they would sit together and talk and just enjoy each other's company. As friends, of course.
Then one day, their fathers decided to meddle in their affairs once again.
"Some boys ask Ino out." Inoichi informed Shikaku during one of their meetings in the bar.
"So?" Shikaku raised the glass to his lips.
"It's about time."
"For your boy to ask my girl out."
Shikaku went home and found Shikamaru was playing shougi alone. What a poor, lonely, boring boy, he thought. Shikamaru frowned when he saw his father swayed slightly and smelled of sake, going to his direction.
"You know, mom won't like what she's going to see."
"Oh, don't worry about her." Shikaku waved it off and slumped in front of his son. He studied the board and spontaneously made a move. "Let's worry about you instead."
"What about me?" Shikamaru replied absent-mindedly; his thought was on the game. Even in drunkenness, Shikaku had the tendency to win. He was unbelievably genius in shougi.
"You are almost seventeen." Shikaku stated.
"What's with a boy your age playing shougi all by himself on a lovely Saturday night like this?"
"Is there something wrong with that?"
"Obviously. Why don't you go out with some girls and have fun?"
Shikamaru almost rolled his eyes. "Should I?"
There was a long, pregnant silence fell between them as they continued the game. Both seemed to be lost in thought, although it wasn't about shougi but the thing they spoke earlier. When the game ended (with Shikaku's winning of course) he cleared his throat and looked directly at his son.
"Go ask a girl out. Ask Ino."
Shikamaru sighed. "And what gives you the impression that she will go out with me?"
The answer was simple. "Because if she doesn't, nobody will."
On the next Saturday night, Inoichi and Shikaku were seen crouching behind a building nearest to Ichiraku Ramen instead of drinking.
"I don't believe he takes her out just to bring her there." Inoichi shook his head.
"And I don't believe that she actually agrees to go out with him." Shikaku voiced his thought.
"First date supposed to be special."
"Well, they still have a long way to go."
Having absolutely no clue that their fathers were spying on them, Shikamaru and Ino acted as normal as they could although both were well aware that this was not under a normal circumstance. Shikamaru had asked Ino as per his father's request (or rather command), bracing himself even for her to flat-out reject him but to his surprise, Ino accepted his invitation.
"As long as you're paying," she reasoned.
"Of course," he replied.
"Then why not?"
Yeah, why not? Shikamaru thought as he rested his chin on his palm, looking at her. Ino was still eating her ramen and whenever her eyes met his occasionally, she smiled. Obviously she was in a good mood. It was unbelievable how the little troublesome monster had become less troublesome over the years. And it was unbelievable how the most boring person on Earth could be less boring. And it was more and more unbelievable to see how they managed to sit together over a meal under a calm atmosphere, unlike so many years ago where they used to be bickering and picking on each other all the time.
So they spent the rest of the night talking and talking and laughing until they lost the track of time. If this wasn't the perfect first date as Inoichi had pointed out, then he was wrong because it was special in its own way.
"Well, I say they get along splendidly." Inoichi said as he led the way to their usual bar later in the night. He was clearly happy about how the date had turned out.
"See?" Shikaku replied, sounding pleased as well. "A few more then they are it."
A couple of dates later, however, something went very wrong and resulted the date to turn into a disaster. When Inoichi and Shikaku witnessed that their children were arguing (yes, they were still spying on them) they were stunned.
"What's going on?" Inoichi demanded. "They were fine the last time they met!"
"There must be something wrong." Shikaku tried to figure out the cause of the argument but failed (of course) seeing that they were too far from hearing Shikamaru and Ino's exact words. Who was at fault?
Well, it could've been Ino because sometimes she was so full of herself it could drive people insane. Or perhaps Shikamaru because – believe it or not – he could be such a pain in the ass.
And soon enough, Ino was seen standing with both fists clenched tightly by her sides, face red as tomato, holding back tears. Something Shikamaru said clearly insulting her but she was too angry to fight back.
"Oh, no she's going to cry." Shikaku quickly glanced at Inoichi, who looked ready to kill.
"I swear if he even let a tear fall I'll break his neck."
Shikamaru suddenly realized that he was offending her because it was clearly shown in his face that he was disgusted with himself. He tried to make the situation right again by apologizing to her or explaining whatever he meant earlier but failed. Ino was completely mad by now, from the way she jutted her chin out to him, and her eyes flashed with fury.
Then with all her strength, she hit him furiously on the chest, or where she could get her hands on over and over again.
Shikaku and Inoichi could only stare, agog, at the monster unleashed right in front of their eyes. Hey, it was Ino. Her chakra control was almost as good as Sakura. It was painful to see Shikamaru received the beating without fighting even once, that both fathers gave him credit.
"Trust me, that hurt." Inoichi voiced, seeing Shikaku cringed on behalf of his son.
"Serves him right, I guess."
Shikamaru went home with body full of bruises and blue cheek. His usually expressionless face looked sullen. Ino clearly showed no mercy.
"You okay?" Shikaku asked sympathetically. Shikamaru frowned at his father's tone, like he knew the reason behind all the bruises.
"Yeah." Shikamaru replied hastily. He had no energy left to deal with anybody. He just wanted to sleep. He dragged his feet upstairs, ignoring the old man creeping up behind him.
"Did something happen? Did Ino do that to you?"
Shikamaru turned. His father knew about the date so it was stupid to lie.
There was a long pause before he answered. "We had a fight."
"What is it?"
"Seriously, why do you want to know?" Shikamaru turned to face Shikaku. "It's none of your business."
Shikaku looked slightly uncomfortable. "Well…I figure I could offer you some advice if you want." The truth was he wanted to help so badly.
"Don't trouble yourself." Shikamaru retreated to his room, slamming the door in front of his father's face.
Well, that was unexpected. Shikamaru rarely acted rude to his father. Whatever he had with Ino after those dates must be important to him, although he always claimed that they were troublesome.
Shikaku got the whole story in the next round of alcohol the next day. Unlike him, Inoichi had successfully dug some information out of his daughter. Using what kind of techniques, Shikaku didn't know. Inoichi was a master on interrogating people anyway.
"He was late. Both in a foul mood. She accused him of something and he said something bad to her." Inoichi clarified.
Shikaku stared at the ceiling thoughtfully. "That sounds troublesome."
"It's just a stupid misunderstanding for me."
"Should we do something?"
"Of course! Listen." Inoichi leaned closer to Shikaku and whispered his devious plan.
"Genius, Inoichi. If this isn't working, I don't know what is."
"Let's make it our mission to get them back together – and this time for real – shall we?"
"Whatever you say."
Inoichi went to see Shikamaru the next day. He found the chuunin was watching the clouds in the middle of the vast Nara field, looking clearly disturbed. He and Ino obviously hadn't made up.
"You hurt my daughter, didn't you?" Inoichi accused in an icy tone.
Shikamaru opened his mouth to ask how the hell he knew about that but closed it immediately when realized it was a stupid question. Of course Inoichi knew.
"Oh, no… Did she cry? Troublesome…"
"What did you do to her?"
"Nothing, I swear!"
"I don't believe you." Inoichi stared him down. "You hurt my daughter, boy, and now you have to pay."
Meanwhile, Shikaku was seen strolling into a familiar flower shop, doing his part on the so-called 'mission'. As he had expected, the daughter of his partner in crime was standing behind the counter, staring absent-mindedly into a distance. She looked sullen.
"Shikaku-san! I…didn't notice you come in! How can I help you?"
Shikaku pretended to look troubled. He cleared his throat a few times. "I know you're not on speaking term with Shikamaru right now but I think you should know…" He sighed dramatically. "Your father came over to our house just now and I think he wants to give Shikamaru a lesson."
Ino immediately straightened up. "No…" Her tone was dangerous. Anger flared up inside her. Inoichi pretty much knew about her fight with Shikamaru and judging from his reactions (Inoichi was acting of course), he was more than willing to beat Shikamaru into a pulp on her behalf. But Ino didn't want anybody to interfere in her issues with Shikamaru, let alone her father, so she had reminded him to not do anything stupid.
And did her father listen to her? No. He simply decided to take the matter into his own hands.
Ino bolted out of the flower shop (with Shikaku followed closely behind) and arrived at the Nara residence just in time to see Inoichi was about to pounce on Shikamaru.
Inoichi turned to see his beloved daughter running towards him, looking mad as hell.
"Geez, didn't I tell you to not mess in my affairs? What am I, seven? Just what do you think you're going to do with him?" Ino acknowledged Shikamaru by just a jerk of her head. Apparently, she was still too pissed at him to even say his name.
"But Ino darling, this boy hurts your feeling." Inoichi stood his ground. "He made you cry and you know how I feel about boys who made you cry…" At the end of his sentence, Inoichi turned to Shikamaru and gave him a cold inspection, sending a shiver down the boy's spine for the first time in his life. "So, don't worry, baby girl. Daddy will take care of him just fine. A couple of broken bones are not going to hurt him…"
Witnessing at a safe distance, Shikaku could be seen chuckling. Oh, Inoichi… He thought amusedly. What drama…
Ino glared at her father. "Thanks for the offer, daddy, but this is our problem. I'll be glad to break his bones myself. So. Do. Not. Interfere. Okay?"
"No buts. Just leave us alone."
"Oh, fine!" Inoichi huffed. "I'll leave but if you ever need help, I'll be around. Don't be shy to call for reinforcement, okay!"
Inoichi vanished into the shadows where Shikaku currently hid. "All right!" He high-fived his friend and said excitedly. "Just wait and see. They're going to make up for sure!"
The two teenagers stood facing each other awkwardly. It was the first time they met since the big fight and obviously they were not comfortable with the situation they were in right now. Shikamaru had his hands inside his pockets and was looking at the sky while Ino stared at the dirt beneath her feet, with both arms crossed across her chest.
"I'm glad I came just in time." Ino broke the silence. "He could be very aggressive, you know. You could've been in the hospital by now."
Shikamaru lowered his gaze to look at her, surprised by her concern. "I think I could give him a fair fight but thanks anyway, for saving my neck."
"I'm still mad at you though."
Shikamaru hid his smile. Ino was clearly lying. She wouldn't come all the way there if she was still mad at him like she had claimed. But Shikamaru knew when to push the right button and when not, so he decided to go with her flow. "For the hundredth time, I'm sorry, Ino. For everything. You could beat me again if you want to."
Ino finally raised her eyes to meet his, considering it for a moment. Shikamaru thought she was going to smile but she didn't. "Apology accepted."
"Truce?" He offered hopefully.
"Just one question."
"Did you really ask me out because your father told you to?"
Shikamaru figured it was troublesome to lie about something she had already knew. "Yeah…"
"Because he said…that if you don't go out with me nobody will."
Ino was speechless for such a long time that Shikamaru wondered if he had said something wrong.
"So, you ask me out to see whether he was right?" Oh, clearly wrong. Her eyes narrowed and Shikamaru thought that they were back to where they started a few nights before. But he proceeded with the truth.
"So, now that I had gone out with you, do you think that other girls will do the same, too? Are you planning on asking any of them soon?"
"Ino, that's not –"
"What am I, Shikamaru? Your guinea pig?"
"You know that's not true." Shikamaru replied darkly, a bit hurt by the accusation. "I never thought of you that way. Okay, I admit our first date is basically because of my father but the rest is totally out of my own free will. And I don't plan on asking other girls…when I have you…" The last four words remained unsaid. "Why did you accept my invitation to those dates anyway?"
Now it was Ino's turn to feel uneasy. "Why not?" She countered.
"Well, duh… I'm obviously not your type. You could've just said no and save us from all this trouble…"
"Okay, maybe I want to prove something, too." Ino said, avoiding his eyes. "Daddy once told me that…that if you don't take care of me then no other boys will. I guess I want to see how far that goes. You clearly protect me in missions and I wonder whether you'll do the same in normal circumstances."
Something clicked in Shikamaru's mind, like a puzzle finally coming together. It was surprising to see how a genius like him failed to figure out all of this before. "Ah…so, all these times you've been…testing me?"
Ino pursed her lips tight, didn't intend to answer.
Shikamaru slowly walked towards her. He couldn't help from flashing a sexy smirk. "So, what's your assessment, Ino? Did I pass?"
Her defense finally crumbled. Her pride shattered into thousand of pieces. Instead of answering, Ino quickly jumped and gave him a big, bear hug. "Yes," she whispered. Then, without knowing that the older Nara and Yamanaka were still there watching them, she kissed Shikamaru lightly on the lips, which he returned fiercely.
"Oh, finally." Inoichi sighed in relief. "It's about damn time. Took them long enough."
"Almost seventeen troublesome years. I guess mission 'matchmaking my boy and your girl' is a success."
"Not yet. What we need now is a date." Inoichi tried his best to tune out the kissing noises from the two teenagers.
"Another date?" Shikaku was kind of green in the face. Public display of affection was never his thing. So, seeing his own son making out with a girl made him nauseous.
"No, I mean a real date. For the wedding."
"There will be a wedding?"
"Of course there will be a wedding. What do you think I'm doing all this if there is no wedding?"
"But aren't they…too young to marry?"
"I don't mean now, Shikaku. They're still underage anyway. But we still need to set a date. So that we can plan everything! The wedding has to be perfect for my baby girl!"
"Okay, okay, I get that."
"Let's pick a date first–"
"Wait, Inoichi," Shikaku held up a hand. He looked really unwell. He couldn't take it anymore. Shikamaru and Ino became louder and louder every second. "I think…I think I'm going to puke."
Inoichi shook his head as he watched his friend ran wildly towards the house.
And then he shouted with all his might.
"Ino! Shikamaru! Go get a room!"
lol. This is the first time I wrote Inoichi so completely different from he was usually portrayed. I had fun. I hope you have, too!