A Jig-Saw Puzzle

© an1m3.4sp


Ino doesn't want to lose to Sakura in finding true love; so lies and says Shikamaru's her boyfriend. They come into agreement and keep a loose relationship so that the pretenses of a relationship are kept up. But then a complication presents itself and Ino is faced with a heartbreaking decision. Ino/Shika Lemon.

Inspired by the movie 'The Proposal.' (2009)

It's been 3 long years since the last time the old rookie nine had had a chance to see each other. Since the war began they were all scattered across the country formulating plans, and setting forward missions that would bring them closer to peace.

Ino glanced around the empty street, feeling anxious as she walked closer to her destination. Having turned 24 just the week before, and still without a stable relationship, she shivered at the reaction her rival would have at that news. Sakura would have a field day, and finally Ino Yamanaka would have nothing to defend herself with. With no prospects for the near future and absolutely no personal life since she turned 21 she doubted she could even lie about having a secret boyfriend or even friend with benefits on the side.

She jumped as a stray cat dropped the lid of a nearby trash can, shaking her head she attempted to loosen herself up a little. She had been so busy since Asuma died that she lost complete track of her life. Focusing only on her medical practices, and mind control techniques for infiltration and seduction, somewhere along the way she had lost interest in men without noticing. They didn't catch her attention like they had in her teen years, she only drifted by day by day ignoring the attention she still got and focusing all her energies on her career.

She scowled slightly remembering her previous mission. Since the war turned in the earth country's direction many higher level ninja were placed before her to calling the shots. Shikamaru strode into her cave one day and set up his own camp, according to him and the message from the Hokage he would be the new boss in the area. Ino had been infuriated to be out ranked, but she understood the arrangement.

He took over right away, taking every responsibility and really cracking down on all the nearby movements that the enemy was making. He was a genius after all and all his plans worked to the letter. However, he tended to question her reliability and that really irked her especially since they had been on the same team in the past and she hadn't been so useless, right?

After confronting him about it, they had had a huge argument and she was transferred into an extensive undercover mission where she did idle work and was kept out of his way. It had been a major insult to her profession and she couldn't bring herself to forgive him. Being moved aside didn't sit well with her, but she did her job professionally either way.

Once she had returned, they had become enemies. She always argued his methods and even went as far as to questions his ability to lead. Shikamaru in irritation ordered her to work overtime on various missions, getting pleasure out of her anger. He intentionally kept her away from gaining much recognition and kept her in the safe zone of the war, insulting her abilities purposely. She had had no choice but to do her job, and no one could do what she did any better. Even though he never acknowledged it, she was the best.

She spotted the Hokage building in the distance, already music was blasting from the Hokage's roof tops and she could hear many voices talking cheerily. It was going to be a long, long night for her, especially having no date.

"Hey Ino!" she paused at the front of the Hokage building, looking back to whoever had called out to her. Chouji waved quickly making it to her side and she held the front doors open for him to enter. "Guess I'm not the only one really late for this," he commented as they walked up several flights of stairs.

"I had to finish some paperwork before coming over, Shikamaru is too lazy to do the reports himself," she grumbled irritatebly.

"Oh come on, you know he sucks at writing reports. Plus, that shows that he trusts you to do a good job," Chouji grinned, opening the roof door so that she could pass into the brightly lighted rooftops. Everything was beautifully decorated, with ornaments of white lilies and delicious food lining white tables. Sakura must have been the one to have it all organized.

"Whatever," Ino shrugged, not really in the mood to continue talking about Shikamaru.

Right away attention came over her, as the guest in the party turned and noticed Ino in her tight red mermaid styled cocktail dress. Chouji waved, getting out of the spot light, and disappearing into the crowd as old friends came forward to greet her. She frowned, spotting pink hair heading in her direction. Sakura wouldn't miss her chance, especially now that Ino stood alone at the entrance.

"Ino! How have you been? Where's your date?" Sakura asked, getting straight to the point. Behind her came a person Ino hadn't seen in over 6 years. Sasuke Uchiha was pulled into her line of view by the pink beauty; he seemed perfectly calm as Sakura kept him close at her side, looking smugly in Ino's direction. "You remember Sasuke right? He's my boyfriend, so where's your date?" she asked again, her sharp eyes and intelligence showing in her smirk. She knew Ino was alone tonight.

Ino stared, a bit taken aback; Sasuke had been one of her biggest crushes as a young girl. She couldn't believe forehead actually defeated her so completely, her face pinked from the pressure and heat of the room unsure about what to say. Shikamaru should have given her more work tonight, maybe then she wouldn't have had to face this new development unprepared. And since Sasuke made no move to correct the pink haired medic about their relationship, Ino had to believe it was true. She felt a little sick; this was just her awful luck.

Glancing around the room anxiously, she spotted the only person that caught her attention. Shikamaru leaned against the farthest wall, drinking idly from a can of beer ignoring the whole room in general. He had become quite distant to everyone, but still remained greatly revered as a powerful genius.

"My boyfriend's over there," Ino couldn't stop the words that formed in her mouth, her arms lifted also on its own accord and pointed in Shikamaru's direction. Before she could correct her mistake, Sakura turned and spotted Shikamaru instantly her emerald green eyes widening in surprise.

"Why didn't you two come together?" she questioned unbelieving, her eyes narrowing suspiciously.

"I had to finish a few reports," Ino shrugged, not believing her own stupidity. Of all the people in the room, she had chosen Shikamaru, the first person she spotted alone. Why had she panicked? He would never go along with her lie; instead he would probably deny it and make a bigger fool out of her. They weren't the best friends anymore after all.

"Let's go talk to him then, I'm sure he is lonely," Sakura challenged, smirking knowingly. Ino gulped feeling beads of sweat form on her forehead and she could already imagine the embarrassment she would be facing.

"Yeah, I'm late as it is." She agreed, stepping around Sakura and placing a fake smile as she walked towards the shadow user. He noticed her instantly, raising a suspicious eyebrow as she opened her arms just before reaching him and giving him a very friendly hug. "I'm sorry I'm late Shika," she said loudly, her eyes staring meaningfully at his before hugging him tight. Whispering into his ear, "Please play along with me, I can't lose to her again…" Ino couldn't help but sound desperate, she held onto him feeling him relax his tense muscles slowly.

Shikamaru's face had been one of surprise, but was now an unreadable mask. He snaked an arm around her waist giving her a half hug, in his way agreeing to play along with her little game. Ino was stunned, she had expected him to turn around and take the chance to embarrass her in the worst way possible. Rejection.

"Its fine," he grunted gruffly as Ino pulled pack, turning to Sakura whose mouth was near the ground in amazement. No one had ever thought Ino would end up with Shikamaru of all people. The lazy genius never paid an inkling of attention to any women, claiming they were all a waste of time and too troublesome to handle. He had become considerably handsome, and even rivaled Neji Hyuga in popularity. "Were you able to finish the reports?" he asked his hand still around her waist, completely ignoring Sakura's presence as if she weren't important enough to be acknowledge.

"Of course, I always do my job," Ino nodded proudly, she couldn't help feeling happy. She gloated as she turned to Sakura who looked pink in the face with irritation. She had also been caught off-guard tonight. "Do you need anything else tonight Sakura?" she asked smugly as the pink haired ninja looked away and disappeared with her childhood crush in tow.

She breathed in heavily, turning to Shikamaru who hadn't released his hold on her waist. He stared down at her expectantly, waiting for an explanation, making her completely uncomfortable with their close proximity. "Th-thank you, Shikamaru… I really owe you one," Ino stuttered, disliking the way he was looking at her. He looked too smug.

"Yes you do," he smirked, leaning down so there faces were only inches apart. Ino gulped, her face reddening from his pleased expression.

"W-Why are you looking at me like that?" she asked nervously, trying to move away but his arms around her waist prevented her from doing so. "What-" she was about to demand as his arm tightened pulling her closer and his lips were only centimeters away from hers.

"We're being watched," he smirked, shifting his head to the side letting her notice as Sakura was still staring like a cougar. "Should we continue this charade or stop while we're ahead?" he chuckled enjoying himself at her expense.

Ino felt a chill run down her spine and caused goose bumps to appear all over her skin. She could feel his warm breath over her lips and the warmth of his palm on her lower back. She glanced over to Sakura then back to Shikamaru unsure of her next move. She didn't want to lose to Sakura, but pretending to date Shikamaru would probably cause more problems than it was worth.

He didn't wait for my answer. Instead he tightened his hold, pressing their bodies completely together; they molded together like a jig-saw puzzle…A perfect fit. But the amazing electrifying sensation she felt didn't compare to the heated explosion of passions that was created as his lips crashed against hers and her mind was wiped clean in an instant.

Ino's arms found their way up around his neck to hold on and lost herself in the moment. The world around her disappeared; there was only him and her in their world of wrestling tongues and bruising embrace.

He was the first one to pull away. Her eyes were clouded over, and her lips were swollen red from the force of the kiss. "I think that convinced them," he chuckled pulling away as if unaffected. Ino blinked coming back to her senses with crashing force, she had completely lost herself and he had not even been serious. She looked down ashamed at her moment of weakness, and made sure there was a safe distance between them so she could get her head on straight.

"That should have fooled everyone," she breathed, looking side to side to find a form of escape. "I'm going to go over there now," she mumbled, pointing in Chouji's direction; taking off before he had a chance to say anything else. Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid! She chided herself, feeling her head overheating from all the rushing blood. She had just kissed her childhood friend, her superior, her worst enemy, and had actually enjoyed it!

"Ino, are you alright?" Chouji asked, looking her over, she was completely flustered and looked as if she could faint any second. He had a shot of alcohol in his hand, which she snatched and finished, "That's not water…" he mumbled, watching her pour another one.

"I'm fine, just need a few drinks," she faked a smile which came out wrong, and took the second and third shot without a pause in between. Chouji frowned but didn't question her further as he looked around the room for some clue of why she seemed so distressed. He spotted Shikamaru watching them both from the other side of the room with mild interest.

"Did Shikamaru piss you off again?" Chouji asked, knowing exactly how his two oldest friends got along. Their personalities just clashed, so they always fought and argued. Personally Chouji had thought it had been sexual attraction, but the feud lasted too long and he had accepted that maybe they were just too different.

"No, not at all. Not at all," she shook her head, then threw her head back and gulped another shot of the burning liquid. Chouji raised an eyebrow confused, "Here take one with me," she grinned, passing him a shot glass and raising her own. It must have been the fifth one, because her hand shook slightly as she held it up to toast. He raised his and toasted, drinking the harsh liquor in one go and watching her finish hers easily.

"Maybe you should stop now," a hand appeared over Ino's shoulder since she had reached for the bottle of alcohol again. Chouji raised his eyes to the unexpected interruption. Shikamaru stood behind Ino, grimacing as Ino giggled loudly. He had always thought she was more trouble than she was worth.

"Go away Shikamaru, I'm drinking with Chouji," she slurred lightly, turning back to Chouji who watched the couple, a bit confused. Usually Shikamaru wouldn't have bothered with a drunken Ino. He would have simply ignored them and retired for the day instead of suggesting she stop drinking. Something was up.

"As your boyfriend, I don't approve of you drinking this much," he grunted getting irritated, this time Chouji's eyebrows went high up in surprise at the sudden alien language sprouting from Shikamaru's mouth.

"Boyfriend? Y-you two are dating?" he asked in quiet shock.

Ino laughed, "Apparently we are. We've only begun dating and you're already telling me what to do, geez," she rolled her eyes, reaching for the bottle of alcohol once again. This time Shikamaru sighed and snatched it away. "Hey! I'm not finished with that," she frowned as he raised it over his head and out of her reach.

He tilted the bottle over his mouth and drank the rest of it without a second breath. Both Ino and Chouji stared amazed and disgusted at the same time, he shouldn't have been able to do that. The contents were so strong even Chouji had a hard time swallowing it down without gagging.

"You are now," Shikamaru grunted waving the empty bottle in her face, and then placing it on a nearby table.

"Wow," was all Ino could think of saying before he took hold of her arm and pulled her away from Chouji and the general party. "Where are we going," she wondered out loud, feeling tipsy.

"I'm taking you home because you're drunk," he stated as a matter of fact, exiting the Hokage building and keeping a steady hold on her elbow so that she wouldn't trip.

"I'm not drunk, you are," she giggled, touching Shikamaru's pink cheeks. He couldn't help the smile that crossed his features; maybe he was a little buzzed from drinking what remained of that bottle so quickly. "You look good when you smile, more like boyfriend material," she joked, not really paying attention to what she said.

"Really, then since I have to pretend I'm your boyfriend every time you see Sakura, I'll attempt to do so more often," he replied, rounding the corner and seeing her apartment complex straight ahead.

"You really saved me back there… She was flaunting her relationship with Sasuke, and I didn't have anything to defend myself with. Thank you so much Shika," she grinned goofily, looking up at the taller man feeling her intoxicated brain beg her to get another kiss from the handsome man she always fought with.

"You seemed pretty desperate, it was cute," he admitted without meaning too, her expression sobered momentarily already in front of her front door.

He wasn't sure what happened. One moment he was grinning like an idiot, the next she was pushing him against her apartment door kissing him feverishly on the lips, pulling his button-up shirt off forcefully; sending various buttons flying in all directions. Ino ran his hands up and down Shikamaru's body feeling all the muscles tense at her touch.

She laid her cheek against his hot skin, feeling his smooth skin and smelling his masculine scent; he smelled of fresh grass. His heart beat steady and fast as she placed her lips over his skin kissing him, flicking her pink tongue over his skin, making him shiver.

"You aren't in your right mind," Shikamaru grunted, trying to pull Ino's arms off his body. "Ino," he grunted as she pulled her arms away from his grasp and continued to touch his body.

"I'll reward you for helping me," she said huskily, her hand going behind him to unlock her apartment door. He didn't notice until the door swung open behind her and they both fell into the bedroom. Giggling at Shikamaru's surprised expression as she straddled his waist, pushing the door closed as she began unzipping her red dress.

"Wait, wait, wait," he frowned trying to get his head straight. But her grinding motion over his swollen manhood made it hard for him to think. She rotated her hips as she pulled the dress over her slender body. He placed his hands on her naked hips, keeping her tightly pressed against him as she continued to rotate her hips.

She only wore panties and a matching bra as she loosened his pants and leaned her body down to kiss his chest muscles. "I need you tonight Shikamaru," she moaned into his ear, suckling on his earlobe and kissing his jaw and full lips.

That was all it took for Shikamaru to lose complete control. He pulled his body up with Ino already in his arms, held easily against his body as he moved into her bedroom dropping her on the bed. He dropped his pants and whatever had under in one go, giving Ino a brief view of his well-equipped package before he was over her.

Ino could barely breathe, every touch took her breath away, and he hadn't even ripped away the last of her garments to explore her completely. He kissed her hard on the lips exploring every inch of her mouth. He moved slowly down, suckling her neck which made her wither underneath him in pleasure. It was almost too overwhelming for him to handle.

His strong hands went up and down her curvaceous sides, massaging her hips and squeezing her ass; also widening her legs so that he fit perfectly between them. He was only half on the bed, still standing on the floor with her legs around his waist. He took hold of her black bra and yanked hard enough to make the material snap, throwing the piece of undergarment across the room. Her nipples instantly hardened as he took each into his mouth, giving them equal amounts of attention.

As he worked on her breast his hand moved in between her legs, touching her already moist core. He moved the underwear aside, touching her most sensitive area, rubbing up and down the area with his fingers. Ino gasped, bowing her spine at the amazing feeling he was giving her. She wanted more.

Shikamaru, finally satisfied with her breast, moved down her body, kissing her all the way down to her abdomen where he stopped and looked all the way up her body. The look was aware and intense; Ino stared back at the raw need and bucked her hips for his attention. She didn't care about what tomorrow brought, she needed this, and now.

He smirked at her impatience, ripping the last piece of garment blocking their unison away. Ino bit her lip and closed her eyes, waiting for his invasion but instead tensed as she felt something else. A wet, strong tongue kissed her lower lips. His lips pressed against her firmly, his hands coming around both her thighs to keep her from moving as he concentrated on his work. Her eyes widened in disbelief, never had she had this done to her.

He ran his tongue along her lips, his teeth touching the sensitive areas every time he pushed harder. He noticed one of her hands was now gripping the sheets underneath her, the other covering her mouth to silence herself. Smirking, he squeezed her thighs tighter lifting her hips so that he had easier access.

A loud moan escaped her lips, and then escalated into screams of pleasure. His thumb moved over her swollen womanhood, massaging firmly and causing more approving noises to escape her. Ino couldn't control herself, it all felt overwhelming…amazing even. He was better than any of her past lovers. No one's ever gone down on her.

He pulled away, leaving her breathless, the satisfied smirk on his lips made her lower stomach throb for more. She felt hot, burning up with need as he licked his lips and looked her over appreciatively; almost as if he were memorizing every curve on her body and being Shikamaru, he probably already has.

Ino pushed up completely naked as he stood beside the bed waiting for her to do something. His manhood was already ready and she wondered how it would feel in her mouth. The thought made a blush color her cheeks, she's never done that sort of thing before, but with Shikamaru she didn't feel like she would mind.

Now on her knees, her head turned up to him as her hand closed around his member; Ino shivered feeling the pulse from his manhood at her touch. He was big, very well equip. She wasn't sure what she expected from Shikamaru, but the size surprised her for some reason; in a good way of course. People usually only had one gift and he was a genius… Maybe she hadn't expected him to have another asset.

His hand came around her wrist, stopping her from stroking his member. Today he wasn't in the mood to receive, especially since he was having Konoha's flower; the most beautiful woman in Konoha. He wanted to do all the giving, pushing her back down he moved them into the middle of the bed, separating her thighs so that he could fit comfortably between them. Ino was hot, wet, and ready to take him in.

He pushed in the tip, slowly entering her. She was tight, Shikamaru was about to pull back and continue with more foreplay but her hand firmly grabbed onto his arm pulling him further down over her. She didn't want him to stop, even though she would probably rip a little from his size. He leaned the rest of the way down, slowly pushing in inch by inch kissing her hungrily.

"It's been so long," he heard her sigh, closing her eyes in ecstasy as he buried most of his shaft within her depths. Her mouth opened at the overwhelming feeling so close to pain but mostly pleasure. Now that she mentioned it, he hadn't heard of Ino going out on dates, or even having a boyfriend in a long time. He vaguely wondered why before pulling most of himself out, and then thrusting into her hard.

Ino screamed in pleasure, it felt so deliciously good. He shaft hit the back of her vaginal wall pushing her over the edge over and over again, making her feel unimaginable pleasure from every thrust. He moved in a controlled rhythm, it was amazing he could still hold back. She felt so close to insanity, or death, that her core begged like an addict for more. Faster, harder! Her body screamed, lifting her hips and matching his rhythm perfectly. They fit like a jig-saw, and she had never noticed before…

His rhythm faltered, and he hurried his pace. He was close to the edge and she could feel his muscles tense with the effort. His hands pushed down her hips forcing her to keep still while he worked. She struggled a bit but it was pointless, he was much stronger than she was. Screaming and moaning in pleasure, Ino came with him on the final thrust.

Breathing heavily he pushed up off of her body slowly, his muscles still twitching from the after effect of their activities. She opened her blue eyes looking over his impressive figure. Why hadn't she every noticed Shikamaru in this way before? Was it the kiss he gave her, or the alcohol that had driven her to bring him to her bed? She wasn't sure, and that fact frightened her.

"If that was my payment for helping you, then ask for help anytime," he grunted, sitting at the edge of the bed with his back to her. Ino stared, vaguely remembering she had said that she wanted to repay him.

She couldn't help but frown, she couldn't have been the only one to feel the connection right? Was she the only one haunted by forbidden and awkward thoughts?

"Later," he had pulled on his clothes, and flicked his hand as he walked out of her room without a backward glance. Just like that, he was gone, their amazing connection that only she felt, shattered with the indifferent departure.

Anger burned her face; she couldn't believe she had been so gullible and stupid. It was only because she hadn't had sex for a while; it was her deprived body playing tricks on her. Connection? What a laugh, it was just raw need for sex because she had had a dry spell for over 3 years. Nothing more.

Pushing up from the bed onto her shaky legs, she limped into her bathroom to clean up. Blood stained her white thighs from their fierce lovemaking. Sighing she turned on the water to her bath, filling her tub to the top with warm water before slowly sliding in. Her muscles were still twitching at every movement. She would be walking with a limp for at least a week.

She then noticed the bruising on her skin, her arms, hips, and thighs; she had bruises where he had held her. She hadn't even noticed he had grabbed her too tightly, or even felt any pain. How unusual that he was able to invade her every nerve, and make her so vulnerable. Shaking her head, she closed her eyes and enjoyed the satisfactory feeling of the warm water on her tired limbs. She would worry about dealing with Shikamaru later.

Ino yawned again for the fifth time in the past ten minutes. She had stayed in the bathtub for an hour after Shikamaru had left, and had barely slept, remembering their time together. The horror had finally settled in at what they had done, and she couldn't sleep all night, dreading the next time she would see him.

Konoha was such a small village, and since they were on vacation at the same time it would only be a matter of time before they bumped into each other again. She had been called earlier by her mother to watch over the store while her parents ran some errands outside of the village. She was currently sitting behind the counter, with a hand on her chin, waiting for customers in the early morning. Why did they insist on opening so early anyway? No one ever wants flowers this early, she thought irritably, watching as the sun slowly lighted the streets.

"At least I won't have to see him," she sighed to herself, turning the page of the newest flower magazine her mother had bought her.

"Who won't you have to see?" Ino jumped, looking up in surprise as she spotted Chouji entering the flower shop soundlessly.

"Uh, no one… What brings you here Chouji?" She asked changing the subject and straightening herself, turning to check the clock for the time; it was eight in the morning. "It's early still," Ino commented, smiling nervously as she closed her magazine and gave him her full attention.

"I enjoy early breakfasts," Chouji grinned, his hands were in his pockets as he stopping on the other side of the counter. "Wanted to stop by and make sure you made it home safely, you and Shikamaru said some strange things last night," he commented leaning on the counter trying to look nonchalant.

"I don't remember," Ino mumbled nervously, looking away. "How did you know I was going to be here?"

"Your parent's told my parents, and my parents told me," he laughed, reaching to touch some lilies on the counter. Ino swatted his hand away from the flower.

"You know you shouldn't touch the petals," she scolded, moving the vase farther away.

"So is it true you and Shikamaru are dating?" he asked bluntly, he tried to look indifferent but failed miserably since he wanted to know so badly.

"Ugh…" she frowned unsure of what to say. Just as she was about to deny it, and explain the situation she had dragged Shikamaru into; the shop's door opened suddenly and Sakura flashed inside happily.

"Hey Ino, heard you were manning the shop today," Sakura skipped inside, interrupting the conversation or saving Ino from answering; either one. "Sucks, having to work on a Saturday… But I guess dating Shikamaru means you don't usually do anything at all," she teased making it to the counter.

Ino felt a nerve under her left eye twitch in irritation. Why did she have to start so early?

"I close the shop at five Sakura. You should know that," Ino retorted, completely missing Chouji's frown before he hid it behind a pleasant look.

"So he does take you out?" Sakura asked prying. "I would never have thought Shikamaru was the thoughtful type, he looks so boring," she smirked, trying to get Ino reveal something.

"He's far from boring," Ino said suggestively, looking smug, she was about to continue when Chouji placed down a long jewelry box on the counter; slamming it down a bit harder than necessary, making both Ino and Sakura turn to him surprised.

"I wanted to give you an early Christmas present, I'm leaving on a mission today," he grunted, the present had been the reason he had had his hand in his pocket. "I won't be back for two weeks so have a Merry Christmas," he had turned away without waiting for her to open the present. "Later," he waved, feeling it was cold, similar to Shikamaru's goodbye.

"I wonder what that was about," Ino commented, turning to the long velvet box he had left behind. Ino reached over and touched the top of the expensive looking box. It was beautiful; she had completely forgotten that Christmas was already around the corner. Being so busy, she hadn't celebrated the holiday since the war began. Chouji of course, had always remembered, and gave her a present every year.

"Wow…" Sakura formed an 'o' with her mouth as Ino opened the box. There was a necklace within, a thin chain with a white gold 'I.' "That's pretty… I wonder what Shikamaru will give you," she said open mouthed, reaching out to touch the piece of jewelry.

"Why are you so concerned about what Shikamaru will do? Chouji just gave me this beautiful present!" Ino smiled, pulling up the necklace and adjusting it around her neck bringing up a mirror to take a look. It suited her, she loved it!

"Why aren't you concerned? Shikamaru has to top that!" she laughed, staring at the jewelry enviously. "He'll have to buy you a promise ring to compete," she joked, causing Ino's cheeks to color.

"Don't be ridiculous, it's not a competition," Ino laughed trying to brush off Sakura's comment.

"For guys it usually is," she said knowingly. "Anyway, I came by to tell you about the Christmas party… Naruto's hosting it at his new house," she grinned, already moving towards the exit. "You better be there with your boyfriend, it's in two week so enough time (?)… Oh, and its a couples' thing," she smirked, closing the door behind her.

"Great," Ino mumbled to herself, resting her cheek on the cool glass of the counter. I forgot Christmas was this close, she thought miserably. She had hoped that she wouldn't have to see Shikamaru for a long while, but with the party being in two weeks that wouldn't happen, what rotten luck she had.

The rest of the day went by uneventfully. Her parents returned at 3pm, two hours earlier than they thought, letting her finish early. She walked to her apartment quickly, trying to stay indoors for the rest of her vacation since she didn't want to risk seeing Shikamaru accidentally before she had to.

"Oi, Ino," she cursed her luck hearing his voice as Shikamaru appeared right behind her, gaining up to walk besides her. "I just talked to Sakura, she mentioned the Christmas party that you agreed we'd go to together…" he commented getting straight to business; he stared straight ahead looking indifferent at the whole subject.

"I didn't tell her we would attend, its Sakura… She hears what she wants to hear," Ino mumbled, keeping her eyes averted with her hands shoved deep into her jacket pockets.

"Are you going to continue our charade?" he asked seriously, "because if you are I would like to know, instead of getting caught by surprise again… not that I mind, since I was awarded," a cocky smirk pulling on his lips, he looked like a confident asshole.

"Grow up…" she grinded her teeth, her face darker than a tomato. "But if you can please come to the party with me, I'll… award you again," she couldn't believe she just said that. Maybe it was the heat in her face that had somehow fried her brain, or she just wanted to experience sex with Shikamaru again. Whatever the reason, it got her what she wanted instantly; Shikamaru is a man after all.

"Deal," he said almost instantly, turning to look at the side of her face since she was trying really hard not to look at him directly. "Is that what Chouji got you?" he asked, spotting the necklace Sakura had mention already around Ino's neck. Ino touched the jewelry unconsciously, looking up at Shikamaru a little surprised. Why would he care enough to ask? She gave a slight nod, still caressing the cool gold.

"You should be careful, I'm the jealous type," he chuckled, making Ino's throat constrict from the intensity of his eyes. He was partly serious.

"It's Chouji," she defended; Chouji was a sweetheart of a friend. He treated everyone with kindness, especially her since they had been in the same genin team as kids.

"He's a man," he shrugged indifferently, "you try explaining to people why another man is giving the woman who's suppose to be my girlfriend expensive jewelry," Shikamaru shrugged acting nonchalant, but he was completely serious. He just doesn't want people to think I'm disrespecting him, Ino realized, giving a slight nod of understanding.

"I'll pick you up before the party, be ready by 8," he continued, taking longer strides and leaving her behind as he walked up ahead. Again he walked away without a second glance, just the way he did it made Ino angry. Frowning she turned the next corner, trying to quicken her pace and make it to her sanctuary. Stupid Sakura making things more complicated, if she continued sticking her nose in it Shikamaru would probably blow a gasket and admit it had all been so I could save my reputation, Ino frowned biting the inside of her cheek.

At least he's acting like his usual self, she thought, sighing as she finally made it into her apartment. And now I can relax until the party in two weeks, she smiled happily jumping onto her comfy living room couch and browsing through her newest fashion magazine. She spent the rest of her two weeks of peace, either relaxing in her apartment or helping out at her parent's shop. The peace made the time pass by quicker.

Ino checked the clock for the tenth time in the past hour. Shikamaru had said he would come by for her at 8 in the evening, he was 30 minutes late and she had hurried to be ready on time; he was always punctual for these sorts of things.

She had decided to wear a sexy Christmas costume; with white ruffles at the top and bottom of the fitting red dress. Her hair had been combed straight, and light makeup was applied carefully. She looked beautiful, even passing her own expectations tonight. Maybe she had put so much effort into her outfit because she wanted to intimidate Sakura into minding her own business, or maybe to regain the attention she had not gotten since the war began… Or maybe just maybe she wanted to look good for Shikamaru…

Whatever the reason, she felt confident enough for anything. Her dress wasn't too short, being mid-thigh level; her full breasts, thin waist, and round feminine hips looked amazing in the dress.

8:45pm… 9:00pm…

Finally Ino had had enough, something was up and she couldn't wait any longer. Getting up from her kitchen table she stormed into her hallway, and out the front door. How dare he ditch me like this? He could have just said no, and been done with it, she thought angrily. Ino slammed the door to her apartment shut hard, and strode out of the complex all together.

He had planned this out, to say yes, and then ditch her last minute. She really hated him now; this was a new low even for Shikamaru. But she was more frustrated with herself, why did the fact that he had abandoned her hurt her so much?

She walked down the busy streets, couples laughed as they walked hand in hand. The sight irritated her, Christmas was meant for couples in Konoha and she was alone tonight. Biting her lip she drew a bit of blood from her frustration.

"Hey gorgeous, do you want to be my date tonight?" a rogue ninja walked out of a dark corner, right behind Ino. She continued walking trying to ignore the dark man behind her. "What's wrong? You don't have a voice?" he asked, his hand grabbing her shoulder and turning her to face him.

Ino whipped around, her long hair slapping his face as she glared up at the ugly face of her harasser. "Don't touch me, bastard!" she snarled, pulling her shoulder away forcefully; she really was in no mood to deal with this right now.

"Ooh, a tough one eh… Well you'll have to be, to survive your time with me," he smirked perversely, moving faster than she had expected and grabbing her arm with bruising strength. She flinched without meaning to, her own hand clawing onto his wrist to try and remove it. "You're a woman, bitch, our strengths are clearly different," he smirked nastily, leaning down to kiss her.

Ino spit in his face, and slammed her smaller foot on his foot. It had no effect, slowly he wiper the spit from his face, his hold on her arm becoming unbearably tight; her spine bowed from the magnificent pain. "Fuck you," she hissed, unwilling to submit to a dirty rogue. She was Ino Yamanaka; the bastard wouldn't get away with this!

"You dumb bitch," he snarled, throwing her into the nearest alleyway. She fell on the ground, hitting her side on a rock, breaking a rib. The pain alone made her scream. Biting her tongue to keep further sound from escaping her, Ino pulled herself up slowly only to have the rogue's body slam over hers. He positioned himself in between her legs, and even with all her struggling she couldn't push him off or stop his disgusting hands from roaming her body. Tears slipped down the sides of her face, she couldn't believe this was actually happing… And she couldn't do a damn thing to stop it!

Real fear, she opened her mouth to scream for help; letting go of all her pride to keep from being raped in her own village. His massive hand covered her mouth and nose as he ripped off her panties underneath the dress.

She was going to get raped… I'm going to get raped; the thought repeated and repeated itself in her head forcing her to come into the realization. She had no one to save her; no one was around; even if they were who was strong enough? The bastard had overpowered her so easily. Help me Shikamaru, tears streamed down her face. And as the rogue already lowered his pants stroking his shaft so that she could see it, the only thought she was screaming in her head was for Shikamaru. Help! Shikamaru, please save me!!

"You son of a bitch! I'll kill you!" her assailant was suddenly ripped from over her body, thrown a few feet away and slamming into a brick wall hard. Ino opened her eyes, not remembering when she had closed them and stared up at the man she had been begging for to show up. Shikamaru glared death at the rogue ninja, Asuma's old knives were over his knuckles as he strode to the fallen enemy mercilessly. With one fatal attack he sliced the rogue's throat.

Ino righted herself from the humiliating position she had been trapped in, closing her legs and pulling herself up against the wall painfully slow. She's never seen Shikamaru actually fight, especially with this anger, in their whole life of knowing each other. That must have been how he killed Asuma's murderer as well. She hadn't seen it, but now she could imagine what exactly happened in the Nara forest.

Shikamaru turned, his eyes softening the moment he looked at Ino. She looked so vulnerable, her face was stained with tears and fear still shook her body. Her hair and clothes were dirty from the wet ground she had been lying on, and bruises on her arms and legs, from her struggles, were beginning to turn an ugly dark purple on her light skin. He paused unsure of what to do in this situation; he'd never seen Ino in this state, so weak and vulnerable in her Christmas costume… Christmas? Shit the party! He cursed his busy schedule and opened his mouth to say whatever came to mind, but she moved forward into his arms slamming her little fist against his chest.

"You asshole, this happened because of you! Because you ditched me, you could have just said no to begin with! But instead you let me believe you are coming and this happens," she hid her face in his chest crying heavy tears. Shikamaru stood there shocked, loosely holding her trembling shoulders as she cried pools. "I want to go home, take me home! That's the least you could do, asshole…"

He sighed; if he hadn't been looking for the missing fugitive, Ino would have probably been raped. The thought disgusted him, no other man should ever touch 'his Ino,' he paused correcting his previous thoughts. Ino was his friend, even if they disliked each other most of the time he would not want anything to happen to her. "I'm sorry Ino, he escaped from our prison and I was given the job to find him… I lost track of time," he grunted, not sure what bothered the woman most. Him forgetting the party or almost being raped. Women are troublesome.

"Just take me home," she insisted, still clinging to his body. He looked around unsure; ANBU ninjas were already removing the body, and clearing up the blood so he wouldn't have to deal with anything more tonight. Sighing he curved an arm around her waist and moved her to his side so that they could begin walking.

"Can't we just run over the roofs? I don't want anyone seeing me like this…" she murmured, tightening her hold to his side when they almost stepped out onto the street. Again Shikamaru sighed and removed the cloak he had been wearing to travel through the cold woods earlier.

"Use this, it'll keep you warm and covered," he grunted, placing the cloak over her shoulders. It reached her feet covering her whole body completely.

"Thank you," she murmured, clinging to the cloth. It smelled like him, and the realization made her relax further. At least she wasn't completely alone, and he had saved her from that disgusting fugitive so easily. Ino had never noticed how strong Shikamaru had become because when they went on missions together he had always insisted on fighting from a distance. He was beginning to look different to her, more appealing for some weird reason… Shaking her head at the thought as they continued to walk to her house; they received many mischievous stares as they walked so closely together.

The walk was short, and her apartment was eerily quiet, making Ino jump at every tiny sound. Shikamaru closed the door behind them and her nails nearly dug into his muscles. "Sorry," she mumbled pulling away slowly; she took hesitant steps into the apartment turning all the lights on to erase the shadows in the room.

"Since the party is out of the question, I'm going to get going and leave you to get cleaned up," Shikamaru stated, still at the front door. He was pulling open the door to leave when she suddenly slammed the door closed again. His eyebrow rose in surprise, he hadn't expected her to move so fast.

"Don't go," she grunted her other hand holding onto his jounin jacket. Ino wasn't sure what exactly she was doing, but she needed him to stay. Maybe it was because she already felt weak, and without Shikamaru she was afraid she would be completely defenseless.

Shikamaru frowned; he really was the worst person for this type of situation. He was never good at consoling friends, or making any sort of sentimental efforts. But with the face she was making and the trembling of her lips, he couldn't allow himself to ignore her request, "Troublesome…" he sighed, locking the front door and pulling her into the apartment. "Get cleaned up, I'll wait here."

She looked uncertain, looking back as she walked towards the bathroom. "I promise I'll be here," he sighed again, reassuring her.

Ino gave a slight nod and disappeared into her bathroom, leaving the door unlocked. She couldn't believe she just asked him to stay, what was she thinking, looking so pathetically weak, especially with Shikamaru?!

Shikamaru frowned, lying down on the couch, he hadn't had much sleep because of the blonde taking a shower in the next room. Ino had been on his mind since they spent the night together, and it bothered him. She was troublesome and clearly not his type; yet every time he remembered their night together his pants would become tight and he would have the sudden need to see her. To his irritation he woke up every other night in a sweat from perverse dreams about the loud blond.

He could hear her enter the shower, and could almost imagine her naked body under the soft spry of water. He noticed Ino had left the door slightly ajar and he couldn't help but lean back a little to try and take a peek. Realizing what he was doing he turned away and laid back on the couch. This was Ino, and she had almost been raped.

He focused on the ceiling stubbornly, hearing her move under the water's spray. The entire room apartment was quiet, so hearing her every move within the shower was hard to ignore. He heard a loud thump and her shower curtain rip suddenly, jumping up from the couch he rushed to the bathroom slamming the door open and looking inside the steamy room.

Ino flinched; she had slipped and fell out of the tub onto the tiled floor. Looking up as the bathroom door was pushed completely open, and Shikamaru stood there staring down at her, alarmed. They both froze; she was completely naked, sitting on the ground with her legs bent at the knees.

"I slipped," Ino snapped out of her shock first, her face heating up in seconds but her voice staying leveled somehow. She pulled herself up as Shikamaru still stared, finally standing in the middle of the room as Shikamaru blinked into realization. "Not like you've never seen me naked," she shrugged walking past him still nude.

Shikamaru felt his mouth still open in shock, closing it he stared at her as she walked towards her bedroom; her hips swaying as she walked, forcing him to follow. What is she doing! He demanded silently, unable to stop himself from trailing her into her bedroom. He could see the bruises already forming on her body, and cursed the dead rogue who hurt her. If he could he would kill him all over again, in a much slower pace.

Ino turned and looked up at Shikamaru who was now inside her bedroom. She could have pulled a towel around herself in the bathroom, but she chose not to. Why? So that she could tease him? Or did she want more, a repetition of their previous night together sounded appealing. "Can I help you with something?" she heard herself asking, playing nonchalant; she stood before her bed, turned to Shikamaru who was still at the door holding the handle.

He wasn't pleased; he could see the tiny smirk playing on her lips and knew this was meant to tease him. Shikamaru didn't like to be teased or played with, "troublesome," he cursed himself, slamming the door closed and giving in to his animalistic need for sex.

"Where are you going?" Ino asked alarmed, feeling him shift away from her body; sitting up on the side of the bed.

"I need to get going," he grunted annoyed, "I've wasted enough time," he stated indifferently, not noticing her stricken look. She turned her back to him as he glanced back to see her figure on the bed. "I'll lock up after myself," he frowned, noticing she shrugged and failed to reply. He hadn't really thought about what he said, but Ino couldn't help the tears of anger that followed.

Once he was gone she got up to shower. Why did he make her feel like nothing after a complete night of making her feel like the only woman? How could one man make her feel both? She threw the nearest object across the room and slammed the door behind her. The shower turned into an hour long bath, and the only reason she cut it short was because of the loud knocking coming from her front door.

Ino tied a white shower robe around her body, with her hair held up in another towel. The knocking on the door was consistent; whoever it was was being very persistent. She opened the door slowly, but it was swung open out of her hand revealing a breathless Chouji. "What the-" she began to scold, but stopped at his worried expression.

"I just heard you were almost raped yesterday, I wanted to make sure you're okay," he breathed, trying to catch his breath. He must have run across the whole village to get to her. Ino smiled, Chouji was always this thoughtful when it came to their friendship.

"I'm okay, if Shikamaru hadn't been pursuing the rogue I would probably be dead by now," Ino said reassuringly, pulling the bigger man into her apartment and closing the door behind him. Chouji had lost his baby fat in his late teens, and now had a body like Asuma's; thick but not fat.

"I'm sorry I wasn't around, I just got back this morning when the guards at the front gate told me," he explained, taking a seat on a chair in her kitchen table.

"You didn't have to run over here right away, especially with that injury!" Ino's eyes widened towards the end of her sentence noticing the blood dripping from Chouji's arm. "Let me get my med kit," she said horridly, leaving the room and coming back seconds later with bandages and sanitizers. "Let me see," she ordered, and obediently like always Chouji removed the garment covering the huge gash on his shoulder.

"I knew you could take care of it," he smiled, content enough as she worked over his wound, Ino forgot she was still in her robe which was riding low off her shoulder, and that maybe in her form of dress it was unnerving to be so close to a man. Chouji coughed, trying to get any inappropriate thoughts out of his head. It was a failed effort because she only leaned closer and the towel holding up her hair fell off. He could also feel her hot breath near his face, and no one could blame him for what he did next.

Shikamaru frowned bothered by her distant behavior earlier that day, she one moment asked him where he was going then turned her back to him and ignored him. Had he said something inappropriate and pissed her off? He stopped in front of her apartment and debated with himself, in the end coming to the conclusion that he would rather deal with her temper now than let it build and explode later.

He turned the knob and it clicked open to his surprise. He was sure he locked it before leaving an hour ago, frowning he pushed open the door and heard voices coming from the kitchen.

"Ino… I love you," he heard, before a chair scrapped the floor and silence followed. Shikamaru wasn't sure what he expected to see when he stormed into the kitchen, but the sight that greeted him was not it.

Chouji stood in the middle of the kitchen, his hands on Ino's arms as he had leaned down and kissed her on the lips. That's not what surprised Shikamaru though; he had heard the last words. What surprised him was the way Ino was dressed, a white robe… Her hair was still wet and free, with her shoulders bare and the top of her breast showing.

Rage he couldn't understand made him snap; he moved without thinking and pulled Chouji away from her by the shoulder. He must have put a lot of strength into it because Chouji ended up across the room. Ino looked dazed as he turned to her angrily, "Get dressed," he snapped with barely controlled anger. For once in her life she did what she was told, running from the room too stunned to deal with the situation. Shikamaru turned to his old childhood friend, "You know you had no right," he began his voice trembling. Chouji calmly pulled himself up, dusting himself calmly. "She's my woman, you lost your chance," Shikamaru snarled, getting angrier by the minute.

"She's not yours Shikamaru; even you aren't delusional enough to believe that. I haven't lost my chance, Ino and I have always been close; you couldn't even stand her a few weeks ago," Chouji spoke evenly, keeping his own temper in check. "And you expect me to believe that suddenly you're dating? From one day to another? I might not be a genius like you, but I'm not stupid."

Shikamaru strode forward, grabbing Chouji by the front of his chunnin jacket forcefully; Chouji just raised an eyebrow, not really trying to struggle with his old friend, "I always knew you liked her… Even before Asuma died, but you never did a thing about it; you are too damn late because whatever the reason I am her boyfriend now," he snarled into his old friend's face, turning away and rubbing a hand down his face frustrated.

"I knew you liked her too…" Chouji began, his eyes accusing as he fixed his jacket too calmly for Shikamaru's liking. Chouji was never this calm, and Shikamaru never had this much trouble controlling himself. "But you never treated her like I did; you only hurt her to keep her away after Asuma died. You don't deserve Ino," Chouji stated as if it were the simplest truth.

"And you do!?" Shikamaru demanded, a voice in his head screamed for him to stop. In reality he and Ino were only a charade, why was this bothering him so much? The picture of Chouji and Ino kissing still bothered him, and only exploded emotions inside of him every time the picture flashed in his mind's view.

"I'm not saying I do, but you certainly don't," he stated it so easily, that Shikamaru had had enough. He knew he was right; he had worked so hard after Asuma's death to push both Ino and anyone else close to him away. He moved forward without thinking and punched Chouji hard in the face, sending him flying again but this time Chouji hit the kitchen wall hard.

Shikamaru breathed hard, slowly realizing what he had just done. His eyes widened, and guilt ate him as he noticed the blood from Chouji's busted lip and already darkening cheek. He stepped back frowning, and Ino suddenly appeared; she was now fully dressed and looking back and forth between them.

"Pst, I'm leaving," he said as indifferently as he could, stuffing his hands deep into his pockets and walking out of the apartment. Even though he acted more controlled he felt far from controlled, his fist hurt from hitting Chouji and guilt didn't make it any better. He still had a soft spot for Chouji, the bigger man was always more peaceful and happy than he was; they had been best friends too… He frowned rounding the corner of the street quickly trying to get away from them both, and fast. He hadn't felt this unstable since Asuma's death, and that really bothered him. He had thought he had gotten over those useless emotions, but I guess he would never be able to sever all bonds completely. Especially bonds from Chouji and Ino… It always just made his job harder.

Ino looked after Shikamaru; she hadn't wanted him to leave. But glancing back to Chouji who got up slowly she figured it was for the best, especially if they would only end up fighting. "Let me get you frozen mean for that," Ino said quickly, opening her freezer and pulling out a big steak that would cover the bruising area.

Chouji had just kissed her, she wasn't in her right mind but helping him was her first priority. "Does it hurt?" she asked, as he sat down holding the meat to his face and she sat in front of him. The only sign of their fight was an indent on the far wall where he was hit; she would force Shikamaru to fix it later.

"Na, not physically," he said shaking his head slowly, flinching since he had pulled on the split on his lip. "Look, I'm not sorry for kissing you Ino… What I said is true, I do love you," he repeated the embarrassing statement making Ino's face instantly darken into a darker shade. "I know you never noticed, but I've loved you since Asuma-"

"Chouji," Ino shook her head interrupting him, this was all too sudden. She really hadn't noticed anything, and with her confusing relationship with Shikamaru; she couldn't handle this… "I need some time to think…" she said after a long pause.

"Yeah, of course," he nodded too quickly, placing down the piece of meat on the table and getting up. He turned, moving towards the front door, and Ino hurried after him with the piece of meat he had forgotten.

"You'll need this, it doesn't look too bad," she commented, staring at the small bruise on his face. Shikamaru was probably angry that Chouji kissed her so suddenly, he'll probably be angry at her too. "If it keeps hurting come back, and I'll check it in case it has more damage," she stated, as he looked down at her. Accepting the meat once again, and slapping it over his cheek.

"Ino… Whatever you decide, we'll always be friends," he blurted out, as if it had been bugging him the whole time. "Don't feel pressured, or bad about anything, just please tell me the truth…"

"Thank you Chouji… Please give me time," she smiled but it didn't reach her eyes as she closed the door, breathing out heavily. This was only another complication in her already hectic life. Chouji, of all people, had confessed to her, and even kissed her; Shikamaru had walked in on that…

"He's probably not going to come by anymore," she frowned, leaning down against the door, which supporting her body. It bothered her, even though she hated to admit it. He even called her a waste of time in the morning, imagine what he thought of her now… First Sakura was bothering him with thoughts about the present Chouji gave her, and now Chouji's confession.

Chouji… What would she do with him? He was handsome, sweet, strong, and her closest friend. They stuck by each other thought all their hard times, and spent a lot of time together. Why hadn't she ever thought of him in any other way? He was like the perfect option for a serious boyfriend, yet she never once wondered…

What can I lose? Chouji deserves more from me, and I do love him… not romantically yet, but it could grow, Ino told herself unable to get Shikamaru's face out of her mind. He had been furious, livid almost when he pulled Chouji away from her. Yet he called her a waste of time, and troublesome.

Her previous anger rose, he had called her a waste of time and even after they slept together. He made her feel insignificant, dirty, and easy. Fine, her eyes narrowed angrily having made up her mind. She shouldn't have asked him to pretend to be her boyfriend, she shouldn't have let herself think more of him; especially in the way she had been.

But could she really date Chouji?

Shikamaru punched a nearby tree without thinking, instantly pain made him retaliate and hold his injured knuckles; continuing to stride towards his old training grounds. He hadn't had time to visit his old hill in some time, and today just felt like the perfect day to try and forget his problems. Primarily forget his indecision about a certain blond and his old best friend.

"So it's all come to this," he mused without humor, glaring at the cloudy sky as if it were to blame. He had convinced himself to close all his bonds and ignore those troublesome feelings that only impede his military objective. But nothing went as planned when it came to Ino, she had a gift to irritate him, and force these confusing emotions onto him to unsteady his purpose.

Did he want to pursue something with the most troublesome woman in Konoha? Ino Yamanaka… The only woman worst than even his mother when it came to her temper and tongue; he had his hands stuffed deep into his pockets unwilling to lie down on the moist grass. Again glancing up at the angering sky, it really reflected his current mood.

She wasn't troublesome all the time; he had to admit remembering their private time together. When no one was around they could actually spend more time in each other's company than anyone who's seen them fight would believe. She would smile a real smile, not the one she used in social occasions. He would think of her more and more, and eventually he couldn't completely block her out of his mind. He couldn't help memorizing her every twitch and expression; making sure he would remember her body and every sensitive area. But the sex wasn't all that made him hesitate in letting her go… When he hugged her, she felt like a missing puzzle come whole. A perfect fit.

"The fuck with it," he snapped, lying on the cold grass to watch the angry cloud instead of standing like an idiot. He wasn't sure exactly how much time passed, but the clouds finally cried fat drops of water down on the earth. He didn't even make an attempt to move, what was the point? It was wet before he lay down; the only difference now was that he was wet on both side of his body now.

Ino Yamanaka, huh… He really didn't deserve her, Chouji was absolutely right. Yet a little part of him wished he was, as troublesome as it seemed he really hadn't been able to ignore the beautiful girl since they met. She always demanded his attention, and he gave it for whatever reason. She was impossible to ignore, and impossible to handle.

I wonder if she's chosen Chouji, even he admitted to himself that it was her best bet. Chouji had always had feelings for the irritating blond. If she said jump he would ask how high. That sort of thing, and of course he deserved it for being able to deal with her mood swings for so long. But the thought didn't sit well with Shikamaru.

It doesn't matter either way, because I'm no good for that sort of thing, he accepted closing his eyes and welcoming the cold rain that fell over him.

NoI couldn't date Chouji, she decided frowning deeply as she glared at an old Team 10 picture. He would only be a friend in her eyes, and she couldn't force herself only because she was angry at Shikamaru. But why did she think he would care if she chose Chouji? That man was so emotionally deprived that he would never know the difference between a casual fling and friendship anymore. For a genius he was really stupid not to notice her fee-

"He's an idiot!" she screamed, covering her face with a nearby pillow and screaming in her frustration. It was obvious to her now; even she couldn't deny it to herself for long. Her heart fluttered every time he spoke directly to her, butterflies fluttered every time she saw him; and whenever they touched she was thrown into a world of pleasure. Then after when he held her for a few moments; those little instances she felt right at his side. Their bodies molded together like a perfect match; her missing piece of a puzzle.

Ino jumped at the sudden loud roll of thunder making her bedroom windows shudder. She sat up in her bed suddenly, turning to the windows; it had begun to rain really hard and the silent apartment trembled with every strike of thunder. She jumped again as a new loud sound sounded, snapping her out of her trance. It was her doorbell ringing, annoyed at her own jumpiness she quickly trotted to her front door in only her pajamas. She had stayed in the whole day, afraid to confront either Chouji or Shikamaru.

She pulled the front door open revealing the last person on her mind. Sakura leaned casually against the side of her door frame; she was in full jounin attire carrying a sour expression. "It's about time you opened up," she snapped, pushing her way inside past Ino; striding into her apartment as if invited in.

"What the hell?" Ino demanded following closely as Sakura searched her kitchen, living room and bedroom for something. "What's going on!?" Ino finally grabbed the other woman's arm and turned her forcefully to face her and explain.

"Is Shikamaru here?" Sakura demanded angrily.

"Shikamaru? No. Why would he be here?" Ino asked confused, forgetting the little lie she had told Sakura.

"He's your boyfriend right! Damn, I thought he would be here," she cursed, not really waiting for Ino to fully understand as she began walking towards the front door.

"Wait! What's happening? Is he in some sort of trouble?" Ino asked following closely behind, feeling panic grip her so suddenly she sounded breathily.

"He's missed the Hokage's meeting, we can't send out any missions without him. The idiot just disappeared," she said quickly, already running into the loud storm outside.

"Dammit," Ino cursed, she couldn't help the panic she felt. Shikamaru wasn't the type to just disappear, especially when his duty called. Hadn't he just said that same morning that he had a lot of work to do? Why would he not show up?

A thought formed in her head, the only other place she could think he would be wasting time was their old training ground. She remembered she use to always find him there staring at the clouds pass, sometimes wasting a whole day away. But why would he be there today, it was raining hard.

Pulling on her rain cloak, she ran out her door hurriedly, not even bothering to change into her ninja uniform. It was hard to see, so she had to take a slower pace than usual. The walk to the training grounds felt eternal. Finally arriving she trotted with difficulty on the muddy ground, farther and farther into the grassy hills where Shikamaru once had chosen his favorite spot.

She didn't even realize she had been silently praying that he was there, please let him be safe here, please let him be here and nothing's happened, please, please… The hill slowly came into view, but the weather was too dark to see. She squinted struggling forward, "Shikamaru!" she called, but her voice was drowned out by a loud thunder.

Her heart was beating faster than usual, and her body felt hot even with the freezing wet weather. Her steps becoming more frantic as she tripped in a deeper mud ditch falling on her hands and knees. Grunting she pushed forward, pushing off the heavy cloak becoming instantly soaked in her purple tank top and pajama pants. Her legs slipped as she struggled up the hill, her panic becoming greater since she didn't see him.

"Fuck! Shikamaru, where the hell are you?!" She screamed up into the storm, standing at the top of the hill soak and wet. Her skin prickled with goose bumps, and her nipples stood at attention against her thin layer of cloth. Her hair stuck to the side of her face, undone by her rush.

"Ino?" his voice came from behind her; Ino turned and found Shikamaru sitting on the other side of the hill facing the Nara woods. He must have sat up when she screamed. He looked up at her as if in a daze, she quickly ran to his side, sliding down and taking a seat on the muddy ground.

"You stupid idiot, how did I know you would be here? You stupid, stupid, stupid," she was crying, why had she been so afraid? Maybe because she knew Shikamaru, and he never missed a meeting in his life. Never late, never made mistakes, she worked under him for so long that she knew something big must have happened. And the only thoughts she had had were of him being hurt somewhere.

"What are you doing here? It's raining," he grunted, shivering, if she didn't get his temperature down quick he would surely get hypothermia. His cheeks were flushed and his skin looked paler than usual.

"I know you idiot," she grunted pulling his arm around her shoulder and lifting most of his weight with her legs. He cooperated slowly, lifting most of his own weight as we stumbled to the main street. His apartment was only a street away, so Ino headed in that direction. "Why were you soaking in the rain?" she grunted, already nearing his apartment.

"I was too lazy to move," he mumbled, closing his eyes and depending fully on Ino's direction.

"Liar… You wouldn't miss a Hokage's meeting because you're lazy," she snapped, finally reaching his complex and stopping in front of his door. His apartment was on the first level, so it saved her from climbing stairs.

She pulled keys out of his side pocket easily and opened the door; they walked unevenly inside, closing and locked the door behind them. Ino went straight to work, finding his bedroom and sitting him on his bed. She pulled at his long-sleeve turtle neck shirt over his head, leaving him in his fish net; which came off right after. His boots, and pants and boxers soon followed leaving him naked. Ino pulled a warm looking blanket she had found in the closet onto his body, rubbing his skin to try and hurry the heat to warm him. It wasn't going to work fast enough.

His breathing was coming too fast, and his body wouldn't stop shivering.

"You're an idiot," she growled again, quickly pulling off all her clothes. She moved onto his massive king sized bed and cuddled close to his side; being so close to Shikamaru made her instantly hot. Ino felt the usual electricity as she touched him, pulling her body over his torso and straddling his waist with her chest over his. Their bodies fit, and she closed her eyes resting her cheek on his strong chest.

"This is your fault Ino," he mumbled half asleep, Ino looked up sliding her body up higher and tapping his cheek.

"Stay awake Shikamaru, I can't let you fall asleep," Ino said back, making sure he opened his eyes before resting back on his chest. "How is this, my fault?" she asked realizing what he had just said. It was his fault for not going home when it started to rain. His dark eyes looked at the top of her head a little dazed, he wasn't completely himself.

He didn't answer, but his temperature was warming up quickly now. His hands came around Ino's body, shifting her hips higher and pressing her firmly against his suddenly hardened manhood. "You seduced me," Shikamaru pressed her down over him so suddenly and expertly that he easily slid deep into Ino's core.

Ino's eyes widened momentarily, and then closed as her back arched and she lifted her body up into a seated position so that his penetration rubbed her sensitive area. The blanket fell to Shikamaru's knees and he had a perfect view of Ino's perfect curvaceous body.

"I take it you didn't choose Chouji…" he grunted, pulling her hips down harder and raising his hips simultaneously.

"Because I saved you?" Ino moaned, trying to grind her hips harder against him, but his hands on her hips kept her still.

"Because you're still here," he answered, moving inside of her firmly again. "Why did you come looking for me?" he asked, her eyes moving to the back of her head as she felt every inch of him.

"I was worried… Sakura told me you'd gone missing," she sighed attempting to move against him, he allowed it. He loosened his hold on her hips, and matched her rhythm by raising his hips. Ino enjoyed every second, feeling something had changed for good between them. He was accepting her into his life, she felt it by the way they had sex this time. He caressed her face, kissed her passionately on the lips, and pleasured her every need while taking his time. On a final thrust, they both experience an explosive orgasm making them unable to speak or breathe normally for several minutes.

Once under control, Ino tensed feeling Shikamaru move her aside. She closed her eyes waiting for him to tell her to leave or something along those lines but it never came. Instead his strong arm curved around her waist spooning behind her. "You are one of the most troublesome women I've ever known. Which makes you hard to ignore…" he spoke into her ear, his hot breath on her neck.

"You really know how to sweet talk a girl," Ino said dryly, beginning to pull away but his arm tightened around her belly; keeping Ino firmly molded against his body.

"Ino… Even though I have a hard time showing it, I'm happy you chose me," he admitted, she was glad they weren't face to face because at the moment her face must have been darker than any tomato. Soon after she could hear his breathing even out as his exhaustion finally caught up with him and Shikamaru fell asleep in her presence for the first time; sleeping peacefully.

"I love you too Shika," she whispered, before joining him in happy dreams.

The next morning Ino was shocked awake by a sudden crash. Shikamaru stood in his boxers at full attention, as Sakura entered his bedroom. Ino's eyes widened as she covered her naked body with a blanket, glaring at the disrespecting medic ninja. Sasuke must not be giving her enough at night, or she just enjoyed spoiling other's perfect slumbers.

"Sakura, I'm fully aware of where I need to be this morning. Get out," Shikamaru snapped, looking royally irritated. Ino's eyebrows rose in surprise and Sakura's mouth fell open in shock at his rude tone. Usually he was so controlled when it came to other women, but morning was just not his best time of day. Sakura glance in her direction her face coloring as she realized that Ino was probably naked under the blankets and Shikamaru was only in boxers.

"Fine," she snapped marching out of the apartment embarrassed.

"Troublesome," Shikamaru grunted turning back to Ino who wiped her eyes from sleep. "I'm going to shower and get ready, you can sleep or make yourself something to eat," he yawned stretching his arms over his head as he walked towards the bathroom.

"You know Tsunade's going to make you work overtime for not showing up yesterday," Ino called, and heard him give an indifferent grunt before turning on the shower. Smiling lightly she pulled herself up with a white sheet around her body since her clothes were still wet, and trotted to the kitchen to make something to eat.

It was harder than she thought to cook in only a bed sheet which she had to hold up with one hand. In the end she just let it drop and cooked in the nude, eggs and bacon sounded good to her.

"Are you trying to make me late?" Shikamaru's hot breath suddenly warmed her neck, as his hand curved around her waist pulling her back against him. He was fully clothed and equipped for his ninja duties.

"I didn't hear you finish… I thought I had more time to cover up," she giggled; both her hands were occupied with plates. "I've made eggs and bacon," she announced, feeling him kiss her neck moving up slowly. "Shikamaru," she warned, her eyes slowly closing.

"Shikamaru! Open up," Ino almost dropped the plates, her eyes opened wide and she turned as Shikamaru removed his hand and took the plates from her hands. Someone was at the door, and they didn't sound the least bit happy.

"Go to the room and put on some of my clothes," he grunted seriously, moving towards the front door as Ino hurried to the bedroom with the white sheet around her.

Shikamaru sighed heavily then opened the front door, already knowing who it was on the other side. "What brings you here today…Chouji?"

"I want to talk to Ino… I know she's here," Chouji frowned looking away, "and I owe you an apology…"

"Don't worry about it," Shikamaru grunted, turning back as he heard Ino coming out of his room to see who had been knocking. She paused unsure when she spotted Chouji. "Ino, he's here to see you," Shikamaru stated, moving aside so Chouji could come in. "I'm going to get going," he said moving back into the kitchen and eating his breakfast quickly. "I'll see you later Ino, later Chouji."

"He looks happy," Chouji commented trying to act normal in the awkward atmosphere.

"I think he just wanted to get away from the situation," Ino joked, but he didn't follow the joke.

"I came by to apologize… I'm sorry I just sprang the confession on you, especially now when you and Shikamaru are seeing each other… I guess I really blew it yesterday," he scratched the back of his head, "I knew you would choose Shikamaru, he's had feelings for you since before Asuma died…"

"I didn't know that…" Ino muttered.

"I've had feeling for you too," he said in his defense. "But that's not the issue right now; I just want to keep our friendship… I'm sorry for making such an awkward situation yesterday."

"Chouji… I'm sorry too, for never noticing… But I-I l-love Shikamaru, as unnatural and weird as that might seem," Ino felt her face redden at admitting something so personal.

She saw the pain cross his expression before it was erased with a smile, "I just want you to be happy Ino; I still love you, even though its one sided… But I'll always be your friend," he moved forward and gave her a light kiss on the cheek. It felt like a goodbye.

"I do love you too Chouji!" Ino said quickly disliking his suddenly grave look, "but not in the way you want me too…"

"I understand," he smiled, and it broke her heart. "Well, I better go, see you around," he waved, already walking down the hall.

Ino watched him leave her life; she knew she wouldn't see him for a little while. She knew him better than anyone; Chouji was hurting because of her ignorance. But there was nothing she could do, she didn't love him the way he wanted, and if he didn't get away from her; he would only keep getting hurt. She understood that, but it still hurt losing one of her best friends.

Chouji left for a year-long mission the following day.

Shikamaru even saw him before he left, and they managed to fix some of their problems. But he still needed time and distance to heal.

Ino and Shikamaru moved in together 3 months after, and to everyone's surprise it had been Shikamaru's suggestion. It's easy to see that their relationship only bloomed without their insecurities and confusion. Their friendship and trust also grew considerably; they still argued and fought about the littlest things, but because of their hopeless and irresistible attraction their fights never lasted.

One day, after a vigorous love making session Ino smiled, loving him more and more every day. She had her head on his chest and barely recovering from their breathless orgasm.



"You better love me…"

"You don't have to threaten me, Ino."

"Do you love me?"

"I have to."


"Because you're my missing puzzle piece."




I hope you all enjoyed this one shot, wrote it one handed! And while high on pain killers, lol, I hope you enjoy this one. 'The Proposal,' was my inspiration my story itself change directions. But I enjoyed writing it. Thanks to 'Ray by Another Name' and 'demonicnargles' for beta-ing for me!