title: reading tea leaves
pairing: ShikaIno
for: lovely missa
prompt(s): good morning beautiful, flashlight, blue ribbon

summary: AU. ShikaIno. As he moved to put it back in its place, she stayed his hand, and weaved her fingers through his own, looking down into the rest of their lives.

notes: Late, late, late. Impossibly so. Embarrassingly so. I have many gift!fics to write. So sorry, Missa, for the delay. Feel free to call me a lily-livered, sheep-gnawing piece of shizle flarf for the trouble. D:

Also, I look at this, and I look at of déjà vu and desteenee, and I giggle a little.

disclaimer: decidedly not mine.

There was a swath of blue silk there, tangled deep and tied in knots, intertwined with strands of coarse black strands until, for a moment, in their darkness, she couldn't quite tell where one ended and the others began.

She knew it was hers, though.

She'd tied it there the night before, at 8:07 exactly, according to the blinking red numbers on her dresser-drawer digital clock. (The flashlight batteries would have to be replaced, later.) She remembered because it had taken the water four minutes to steam, and the oolong three minutes to steep.

He liked his tea scalding hot, but not quite boiling—"It ruins the leaves," he'd said. "And waste is troublesome," he'd said.

Privately, she agreed. Waste was waste, and she'd been taught better than to throw away ruined leaves. Perhaps she'd read them one day—they did that in other places, or so she'd read, in far-off lands with impossibly foreign names. Maybe she'd ask him later—he knew practically everything, anyway, or at least, everything in the world that she cared about, which was good enough for her.

Maybe she'd ask him later, when he woke up.

She sighed ruefully, felt her breath brushing the angles of his sleeping face.

Shikamaru wasn't very different in slumber, than he was in consciousness. His face was relaxed, his jaw slack, his breathing steady—a metronome she'd learned to live by. The only real difference was that his eyes were shut.

Suddenly, she was tired again, stifling her yawn with a slim, pale hand. Her hair fell over to his side of the bed, and she laughed a little, watching his nose twitch at the sensation.

He was waking up, and like everything else, he did it increments.

A tanned arm stretched up towards the ceiling, sailing in an arc before falling fast against their cotton comforter. His eyes twitched at the corners, but did not open—they were always last. His legs began to rub against the blanket, kicking it to the floor.

She'd have laundry to do that day. She found that she didn't much mind.

He shifted then, until he was lying on his stomach, and turned to her, nudging her hands with his face, until she'd done what he'd asked her without words, and run them through his hair, removing the ribbon in the process.

Finally, he opened his eyes, blinking once, twice. Ino fancied that it was all for confirmation.

She was in his room again, the way she had been for two months, today. It was a strange thought, she commented to no one in particular. She'd been with him for two months, and until the moment—this moment—of waking, she didn't quite know why.

And what sort of sign is that, she wondered, directing the question to the abandoned cup on her night stand.

"What's wrong," he asked, voice rough with sleep. "It's too early to look so serious. That causes wrinkles, you know." He burrowed his head into her pillow, and she smiled softly, hearing him breathe deeply.

"Who has wrinkles," she wanted to ask, trying to gather an appropriate amount of indignation.

But, he was right—as he usually was.

It was too early.

"Good morning, beautiful," she said instead, falling back into the warmth of the space at his side.

He smirked down at her, and reached for the ceramic cup, drinking the last few sips with little ceremony. As he moved to put it back in its place, she stayed his hand, and weaved her fingers through his own, looking down into the rest of their lives.

There were letters in the dredges there—distant futures, and unhatched stars, shapes with no design.

They could wait.

Different from my usual fare. Ino was strangely quiet, no?

And look! No mention of SasuSaku at all.

(Except just there.)

Apologies for the lateness, again, m'dear Missa. More to come, as you well know. :)