A/N; I wrote a ShikaIno last year on Thanksgiving, so I thought, what the heck? And here I am. How long has it been since I've last contributed to the Naruto fandom...?
Written for the LJ prompt community all_unwritten. Prompt #441: I hid under my bed and watched.
Also, just for reference, this was set around seven or eight years before timeskip, so they're pretty young.
Disclaimer; I'm fairly certain Naruto and its characters still belong to Kishimoto. I've not been absent that long.

I saw everything from a different point of view in that space of time. Everything I'd ever looked down upon, stepped on, walked across, was staring me straight in the eye. Like the stuffed lion my old man teased me about-- of course I had to stash it somewhere unseen by human eyes. I couldn't get rid of it, but it couldn't be known that I felt safer with the mass of plush around. Under the bed was the only choice I had at moments notice. Apparently, I'd forgotten to retrieve it. For months. It was filthy, and I couldn't take it out to be washed. What a bother.

There were other things in the small, cramped space as well. Toys that, despite the fine coat of dust, looked brand new; as it should be, seeing as I never saw fit to play with them. There were papers and notebooks with silly doodles and scribbles that someone-- likely Chouji or that troublesome blonde daughter of the blond friend of the old man's. She seemed keen on taking his stuff and turning it into a state of disarray before cheerfully returning her handiwork.

Then again... Chouji was no better, getting crumbs and abstract food stains on whatever he got his hands on...

I sighed, closing my eyes in my mostly dark hiding spot, trying to ignore the raucous noise my father and his boisterous friends were making and the light filtering in from beneath the door. They would always get together on holidays like this, spending the night laughing and drinking and playing silly card games that just happened to be their namesake. This would go home until my mother would "politely" send them packing, or when she herself went to bed after a drousy drink. Holidays were supposed to be a time of rest, but apparently the pops didn't get it.

My ear pressed against the floor, I could hear footsteps coming up the stairs. They were distinct enough to showcase the fact that their stepper didn't care if someone was trying to sleep, but they were still too light to belong to one of the three men. I assumed it was my mother, too tipsy to tiptoe for my sake, heading to her room for bed.

My assumptions proved wrong.

To the far right of the room, my door opened with a bang, and I could see small stockinged feet traipse in confidently.

"I know you're here, Shikamaru."

Oh joy. The loud one. Why were blondes created, anyway? Just to be annoying? For the longest time, I'd presumed it so.

"Let's see... where's Shikamaru..." Her feet (the stockings were green, light green) padded over from the door in a small circle around my room. "In the... closet?" She opened the door on the eastern side of the bedroom. "Nope! Maybe... under the covers?" She trotted over, and her toes were mere inches from my nose in a flash. I heard my covers being tossed about. There was no way I would reveal my position to the annoying girl. "A pillow! I thought it was weird that a lump as fat as Chouji would be in your bed."

Try as I might, I couldn't contain myself. Angrily, I reached out and grabbed her ankle, recieving a startled yelp in return. I was inwardly pleased at her frightened reaction. It served her right. "Don't talk bad about Chouji, you irritating girl."

She knelt down when I let go, peering at me in my flat position under the bed. The frown on her face relaxed and her eyes immediately told me that she'd disregarded my statement. "What are you doing under here?"

"That's none of your business."


I sighed. Did this brazen blonde know nothing?

"So it's none of your business." I stared purposefully at her. I was obviously trying to tell her in the most subtle way possible to leave me alone. It seemed that she would be having none of it. Ino stared back unabashedly.

"Aren't you scared of the monsters?" She eyed me with faint concern. It was weird.

"Of course I am," I replied. "Pop tells me really creepy stories about the monsters, but Mother says they don't exsist, so I can't trust either of them. All I can trust is my own judgement." I heaved a long-suffering sigh. "So I'm checking it out."

"But... what if they eat you?"

Of course I'd entertained that possibility, and had attempted to bury it deep into the recesses of my mind. Leave it to Ino to drag it back out and wave it in my face. But I definitely couldn't show her my trepidation, so I snorted.

"Then I'll be eaten, of course."

"Are you okay with that?" Of course I wasn't, but I couldn't look like a scaredy cat in front of a girl. I nodded. "You're weird, Shikamaru." Of course, her opinion meant little to me, so the comment was no skin off my bones.

Imagine my surprise when she flattened her little body to the floor and wriggled her way under the bed beside me. I can only imagine the expression on my face; one of shock. One of disbelief. One of confusion. She couldn't have possibly seen it in the dim light drifting up from downstairs, but Ino answered my unasked question.

"Daddy says that when you're with someone, the monsters are too scared to eat you." She sneezed and rubbed her nose. She must have been sensitive to dust. "I'll stay here so the monsters won't come, 'kay?"

And really, though, what could I have possibly said to that?

It was too odd, too incomprehensible for me to fathom the irritating, busybody Ino burying herself in a dusthole with me to protect me. I hadn't ever done anything for her, had I? She didn't seem to be the type to do things out of good will. Surely, she must have been plotting something. Maybe it was a dare. Maybe it was punishment. I was suspicious.


But, whatever the case, she was still here, and though her constant babble and way of making me tired and frustrated and irritated never ceased to amaze me, she still squirmed around the unkept, dirty floor until she was right next to me.

(Her stockings were green and fuzzy.)

And I suppose I let her because I knew that one day, I'd probably have to protect her from monsters, too. She was just pulling me into a troublesome world of debt.