A/N: This story came from a short time of daydreaming. Random, a little bit pointless – I think. Done in about…what, an hour?
Naruto © Masashi Kishimoto
Fanfiction © ArAshiMitArAshi
When the truth slipped out of his mouth that he might like her, Ino didn't say anything.
Instead, she stared at him with mouth slightly open, blue eyes seemed bottomless in amazement. He knew he should be glad that his confession didn't earn him something destructive from her like always but it didn't help him feeling much better either.
He felt like an idiot.
She was going to laugh, he thought. She was going to tease him, embarrass him in front of the whole Konoha…but…
He didn't know that his simple sentence fill the gap left by Sasuke in her heart.
He fixed her.
Out of his expectations, she smiled. And her smile felt like a warm summer's day, lifting his heart, his spirit.
"You know, you're a great guy, Shikamaru," she said, looking into his eyes. She touched his hand. "I'll chance it with you."
Then she leaned in and kissed him for the first time, on the cheek.
He was fourteen.
They were a couple, but nothing major changed. In fact, all was the same.
They met everyday for training and such, ate barbeque, gone on missions, they did everything like they always did before. He didn't feel like her boyfriend, and she didn't treat him like one. It was like he was still his teammate, a friend.
He didn't mind, even a slightest bit. She said she'll chance it with him, the relationship. And somehow, it didn't seem to work the way he always imagine it will be, but he knew it was only the matter of time. He knew she tried. They both tried. After all, it wasn't easy for friends to become more than that in just short moments.
But sometimes, he couldn't help but feel a little annoyed.
Even so, he was still glad having the title "Ino's boyfriend" and proud of it, too. Most boys his age envied him.
A few weeks after they started going out, for the first time, she showed the world that they were indeed, truly, were together.
Maybe not the world, but still it meant world to him.
His team just finished training that day when she handed him something he was sure she made it herself.
"Here," she pushed a bento into his hands, smiling.
Chouji peered curiously at the bento and it was obvious that he was quite jealous that he was given such attention. He knew they were going out but that didn't mean he let Ino treat him differently than his best friend.
Instinctively, he turned to Chouji and flashed a triumphant look, the same look Chouji wore when he told Ino visited him when he was hospitalized where he was so sure no girls will ever come to visit him.
But once again Ino surprised him. She dug her bag a second time and took another bento, identical to the one she gave him and gave it to Chouji.
"Here, Chouji," she said, also smiling. "I made one for you, too."
Chouji turned to him and returned the triumphant look back to his face.
What was the meaning of being her boyfriend, he thought scathingly, when he was treated no differently from others?
But in the end, she did treat him differently from Chouji.
He walked her home and she gave him another kiss on the cheek before running into the house. His second kiss.
The spot where her lips touched his face burned.
He didn't wash his face that day.
The kiss broke the ice. Days, weeks and months after that, they were really like other couples around. They hold hands, kiss (even though it was only on the cheek), hug, and spend time together. Most times, Chouji liked to irritate him by following them around Konoha like a stubborn fly. But when he felt bored and decided to give them some privacy, they were completely left alone.
They spent a great deal of time at a secluded spot on a hill, under the warm sunshine, where thick grasses and wild flowers mixed, cool breezes past by. Ino would made crowns of wild flowers while talking animatedly, he simply lay around watching the clouds, listening to all her rants and complaints, her fears and dreams.
They had their first fight just after they celebrated their first anniversary as a couple. It was simply because of a very small thing.
She was jealous he spent so much time with Temari whenever she came to Konoha, he of all the attention she got from guys around her.
But fear of losing her, and she him, they usually made up pretty fast. All were forgotten by simple kisses on the cheek.
He was fifteen.
Then Team Ten lost Asuma-sensei.
He didn't attend the funeral and as expected, she came looking for him after that. He was at their dating spot the moment she found him, smoking the cigarette his sensei left him.
She didn't scold him about the newfound habit. She simply went to his side and sat, staring at what he was staring.
Then after a pregnant silence, she spoke, "Shikamaru…"
He sighed, knowing what will come.
"No, not today, Ino…" He lit a fresh stick of cigarette. "Just today, no nagging, please…"
From the corner of his eyes, he saw her gritting her teeth.
She didn't want another fight.
"I wasn't going to…" She said softly.
Then she bent down, took his cigarette away from between his lips and kissed him, for the first time, full on the mouth.
He was stunned. His body went numb. Her bold act seemed like freezing his thought, his soul. He knew he must've tasted like smoke, ashes but that didn't stop her from kissing him. In a split second, his body was on fire, bringing him back to life, to reality.
"Smoking feels like Asuma-sensei still with us, I understand." She returned the burning cigarette back to where it belonged. "That's why I'm not stopping you from doing whatever it is you're thinking. I'm with you."
Not long after that, together with Chouji, they set on a journey to find their sensei's murderer, for revenge. With Kakashi joining them (Naruto, Sakura and Sai came later as backups), they located the enemies and engaged in a battle. He lured Hidan far from his partner, far from Ino herself so that she won't be in mortal danger and killed the guy himself.
When he rejoined his team back, Ino slapped him the instant she caught sight of him.
"Idiot!" He never saw her so angry. Her eyes full of tears and worry. "Why did you have to fight him yourself? What if you're not succeeded? What if you got yourself killed?" She pounded his chest over and over again. "What if you're not coming back? Are you going to leave me just like Asuma-sensei had done, just like…just like…" She didn't finish her sentence but he knew what she meant.
Just like Sasuke…
She burst into another howl of tears as she collapsed on him, still punching the air out of him with all her might.
"Don't worry, Ino," he patted her back slowly, breathing her scent. "I won't leave you."
Too upset of his behavior, she isolated herself from him for a moment that felt like eternity.
It was painful. But he knew he deserved such torture.
After Kurenai left him alone at Asuma-sensei's tomb, finally Ino came out of her hiding.
Wordlessly, she searched all his pockets and pouches and when she found what she was looking, she gave him a true smile. He knew by the warmth that spread in his heart, she had forgiven his careless attitude.
"We should bury these," she held the empty cigarette pack and lighter close to his face. "You don't have the intention to smoke again, do you?"
He smiled as he shook his head, crouching and began digging a spot near the tomb. She joined him and together, they created a small grave for the two things their sensei love the most.
When they finished, he stood first and led the way to exit but she stopped him. With dirty hand, she clutched tight his arm, looking straight into his eyes and said, "Stay."
He complied, somehow knowing what was going to come.
Sure enough, she wrapped him in an embrace and kissed him hard. He didn't lose himself this time, as if he had been waiting for that moment to come. He kissed her back with equal force, perhaps more than that, for the longest time, afraid if he let her go, she will disappear forever. Everything seemed melted around him and he felt like he didn't care about anything anymore in the world except this girl and the way her lips moved so perfectly against his own.
Then it came to his senses that he didn't just or might like her, but truly…loved her.
"I don't think Asuma-sensei wants to see that," a familiar voice along with the sound of munching chips broke them apart. Chouji stood a few feet away from them, grinning. "It'll make him sick."
"Chouji…" Ino rolled her eyes, a little bit embarrassed. But he just laughed, for the first time in days since Asuma-sensei gone and once again, returned to the girl's embrace and kissed her again and again.
He was sixteen.
And now, after years chancing himself of being her only one, today it was official that he was indeed, her only one.
He'll show her how much he loved her tonight, right this very moment.
He didn't count his age anymore.