I don't own Inuyasha or Naruto.

Nara Shikamaru grumbled for the fourth time in five minutes.

He swore he would find a way to get out of this next year.

Of course, this tradition just had to be embroiled in the politics of Konohagakure—skipping out, as a shinobi, was considered a slight to the civilian population. The Honey Festival was set to commemorate the beginnings of relationships and solidify the old ones—a purely civilian invention because most festivals in the warrior states focused on battle victories and deaths.

There was truly nothing wrong with the festival dedicated to feasting on sweet treats and dating the love of your life; unless you were a bachelor. And, of course, Shikamaru was a bachelor.

In which case, the civilians thought it a grand idea to do some weird speed dating type of thing. The women were all hidden behind curtains at several stations spread out for privacy, decorated with walls of plants to give some illusion to intimacy.

Shikamaru, having experienced it the year before and before and before, knew it was just some elaborate scheme to torture the affirmed bachelors.

He wasn't made for that type of thing. All the females asked their set questions in the allotted five minutes for each male. And it got old fast. There was nothing interesting on the surface, let alone underneath the underneath—as the civilian coots were so fond of stealing the shinobi phrase during this time.

As if it made the spring festival any more interesting.

Women, during this time, considered it the height of fashion to attend the festival with a prominent ninja on their arm. Shikamaru's only saving grace, as a known genius now that he'd been ousted by his elevated status, was the fact the woman had no bloody clue what man was on the other side of the curtain when they asked their questions—so they couldn't tailor them to attract certain gentlemen.

Despite the fact that the females were the ones who wanted the dates, it was the men who chose their date for the night.

Kagome cleared her throat softly as she shifted; a nervous air about her that she could do nothing to still. She hated this tradition.

Last year had been her first year as a resident of Konoha, and because she was a single female (and determined to remain that way with the apparent entirety of Konoha being some shallow mess) she got pulled and bribed into this. She wished Sesshoumaru had never sent her over here to join the political embassy and help the diplomatic peace relations with all that was going on.

But Sesshoumaru trusted her, and only her, to do this.

She wondered what her brother would do when he realized that they were forcing her to basically court for a day of the year. Being a youkai, with different ideas about the smallest of things, he would probably rage.

Kagome flashed her teeth in a feral smile.

Being considered a part of the civilian side of Konohagakure, Kagome was more isolated than she'd liked to be. But that was okay, Sesshoumaru regularly sent messages by his hounds, and she didn't get too lonely.

Besides, it's not like she wanted to deal with the population she was thrust into anyway. The civilians had proven to be shallow clan-lovers with no idea about the greater things in the world: hard work, sacrifice, friendship, laughter. Instead the population was obsessed with power and prestige. Even after being invaded they clamoured and cajoled to see their 'best' do their work. As if the clan heirs fought alone.

Kagome sniffed and turned her head, staring at the chair she had to sit in for the long first portion of the night. She sighed as she glanced covertly around before running off to snitch a pillow for her comfort.

The residents of Konoha were so used to power that they just naturally assumed that was all there was. They were shallow, ungrateful denizens who never took the time to notice anything else.

Some small part of Kagome, the lonely trembling part, wished this wasn't so.

She wanted a friend; she wanted to, once more, feel loved and perfect for someone else.

And even the shinobi, trained to see 'underneath the underneath' (she'd had the popular nin quote thrown at her during last year's festival enough times to remember) focused so hard on that they failed to see the beauty that was presented around the underneath.

It was a disappointment to realize they couldn't wonder at the beauty of feeling grass between their toes instead of contemplating the overall traction it could gift them with, they couldn't delight in smelling the fresh dewy scent of morning without carefully filtering through the scents to find the one of spilt blood nearby, they couldn't enjoy the twittering of birds without worrying that it was a distraction for some attack, they couldn't relish a toiled over cake without swirling their tongue to check for poisons, and they couldn't see the realm of nature for what it was instead of looking for signs or messages.

Kagome did these things all the time, and no one in Konoha, as much as they were called nature lovers, seemed to do the same. It was somehow…personal to her. Maybe it had to do with the fact that she wanted someone to look at her and think Kagome, and not Priestess or Kikyou or Shikon.

She snorted as she realized she was sympathizing with clouds of all things.

But Konohans never took anything for what it was, never focused on anything unless it related to power.

That small lonely part of her was growing to hate it. She wanted to leave. There was nothing for her here.

Maybe, tomorrow, she would contact Sesshoumaru. Surely the village hidden in the West would welcome her return.

Shikamaru spent the better half of his time avoiding all the population, relaxing on a grassy hill. But eventually he'd made his way to the festival (lest some of the more maniacal supporters of the even come after him…like Gai).

He patiently sat through the questioning of some females, listening to their voices and trying not to simply get up and use his skills with shadows to leave. Their voices were all dull and tiring; he replied in the monosyllabic and waited for the torture to end. He'd just pick the girl at the end of the line when it was time to join the actual festival and eat the confectionaries roasted in honey.

He suffered his way through about nine booths until he found her.

"Do you like spending time outside?" she asked with a soft voice, a quiet voice meant for whispered conversation and intimate moments. It was much different than the strong assertive questions volleyed by the previous females.

"Yes," he intoned lowly, bored out of his skull. What a redundant question, most of Konoha were nature lovers. Most of Konoha were ninjas.

He heard cloth shift and then that soft voice, "Do you like to relax?"

"Of course," Shikamaru shifted and yawned after he answered, hearing his jaw crack.

"Do you like watching nature?"

Shikamaru blinked. The basis of the game was that the woman's inquiries led up to her final question…he wondered where she was going with this. "Yes."

She cleared her throat. "Do you listen to the wind? Or smell the fresh grass, and taste the coming rain in the air?"

Shikamaru replied softly as he straightened his spine, "I do all that."

"And do you feel the touch of the wind?"

"It's gentle, despite how much it rages."

Her breath caught audibly at his answer. "And do you ever watch the clouds?"

He remained silent, stunned.

Her voice continued, desperate. "Do you watch the clouds without trying to make them into something else? Can you simply enjoy their nature without searching for a reason? Can you…accept that they are their texture and character without needing to define them by anything else?"

Shikamaru stood, his chair scraping loudly, and cursed the system. Tearing away the curtain he fell to his knees before the startled woman.

Nara Shikamaru fell in love in five minutes.

He swore he could see the sky in her eyes.

AN: Wow. Never fail, I get a grand idea for a story and then I have to write a completely unrelated one shot. XD Hope you enjoyed it!

This just randomly popped into my head, and it was fun to finally type up something that just hit me instead of staring at the screen and wondering what would happen next.