A/N: So, if I didn't have a new chapter, I'd be hiding in a corner, as I've been doing for the past months. Sorry it's been so long. I hope you guys are still interested! Review! :)
Shikamaru stretched and yawned, blinking as he started to really wake up. Sleeping on the floor wasn't something he couldn't do, but doing it in his own home sucked. They really needed to do something about this bed situation.
"Morning," Temari called.
He grinned to himself as he stood up. This was just how it went in Ino's girly movies, after two people had an eventful date. The woman would remain there until morning and then rush off to work after making breakfast. (Though, Shikamaru reflected, sometimes it was the man that cooked. Luckily, she had woken up first.)
As the smell of bacon and eggs greeted his senses, Shikamaru's grin became wider. He could get used to this.
"You made breakfast?" he asked, walking into the kitchen.
"No, I put you in a genjutsu to make you believe that I did," Temari snorted. "Yes, I made breakfast, you idiot. Here's your food."
She pushed a plate toward him with two pieces of toast, a couple strips of bacon, and two fried eggs on it. Shikamaru sniffed it suspiciously before digging in.
"You're a better cook than my mom," he admitted, between mouthfuls.
Temari shrugged but said nothing. Shikamaru picked out her staying quiet as strange but waited for her to say something.
"My mother made the best food," she said finally. "I was young, but I remember… And so I learned in a kind of memorial to her."
Shikamaru had tried to fill the silence by eating, so he was done by now. He put his fork down and put a hand on her shoulder.
"She'd be proud," he told her, the words spilling from his mouth in a somewhat awkward fashion.
He then walked back into the bedroom to shower and get ready for the day. After all, she wouldn't want him to see that she was biting her lip. (He noticed anyway; oh well, it was how their relationship worked.)
As Shikamaru stepped into the shower, he reflected that some things never changed. The hot water comforted him as always, sending his mind into a happy haze of warmth. He reached for the soap, humming softly.
Shikamaru finished within a few minutes, so he turned off the water and reached for his towel. Wrapping it around the lower half of his body, he wrung out his wet hair into the tub before exiting the bathroom.
He turned to the side to find a wide-eyed Temari looking at him, her hand over her heart as if in shock.
"Oh, hey," he said, nodding in acknowledgement. "Did I take too long in the bathroom or something?"
She blinked a few times. Sure, she'd trained with Shikamaru enough times that she'd seen him shirtless before, but Temari had never seen him like this. His hair dripping wet, his lean torso covered in droplets of water… If only that towel would have the courtesy to fall.
"Temari, are you okay?" Shikamaru asked.
"I needed the bathroom, yeah," she managed to get out.
Temari hurried into the bathroom and shut the door behind her. Shikamaru looked after her, scratching his head in confusion.
"Women," he muttered.
Temari happened to do some of her best relaxing in the shower as well, so she shed her clothes and stepped into the still steamy shower. All went well for the next seven minutes; she managed to get clean as well as forget about how good that scrawny idiot had looked. And then…
"Shit!" Temari exclaimed.
She had forgotten her towel. Her towel! How would she go outside with Shikamaru there? Quickly, she remembered that she had worn clothes before getting in the shower. Sighing in relief, she got out and wrapped her clothes around her body, not putting them on because it was, of course, ridiculous to put on unclean clothes right after showering.
Temari shrieked as she opened the bathroom door. Shikamaru was standing there, already dressed. This momentary surprise caused her fingers to slip, and the material covering her form dropped to the ground.
It was Shikamaru's turn to widen his eyes. He did, at least, have the decency to turn around as she ran over to the closet to actually put on clothes.
"WHY THE HELL WERE YOU STANDING THERE LIKE THAT?" Temari shouted. "YOU GAVE ME THE SCARE OF MY LIFE!"
"I thought you were supposed to be a kunoichi," Shikamaru retorted. "Guess that's all it takes to scare you…"
"Real mature," Temari shot back. "Attack my skills because I happen to be female. At least I'm not so lazy that I couldn't muster up the effort to make jonin!"
He sighed; the truth was, he wasn't in good enough condition to spar verbally with Temari. The image of his wife, her skin still moist from the shower, was embedded in his mind. Every time he closed his eyes, the image greeted him.
"I just wanted to tell you that I was leaving," Shikamaru told her. "I'm going, okay?"
"Oh, SHUT UP," Temari barked. "There's no way you were standing right out there just to tell me you were leaving. Just because you were comfortable with me seeing you half naked doesn't mean that I was comfortable with you seeing me without clothes on! Have some tact, Shikamaru!"
He looked at her, confused.
"What are you even saying?" Shikamaru asked.
The kunoichi's cheeks turned a light shade of pink, and it finally dawned upon her slow-in-all-romantic-matters spouse that she had enjoyed seeing him right out of the shower.
And then, for once in Shikamaru's life, he did something on impulse. He didn't take himself through the hundred possible outcomes, nor did he think about the hundred different ways to execute this properly.
"We are married, you know," he informed her swiftly.
That was all the notice she was given before, for the second time in twelve hours, Shikamaru's lips met hers in a sweet kiss that felt right in so many ways that Temari threw her hands into her husband's still damp hair and kissed him back.
She was the first to break away this time, and it was only then that she noticed that her back was against her closet door and that Shikamaru's body was pressed lightly to her own.
"We are only past our first date, you know," Temari teased.
"You don't seem to be too troubled," Shikamaru shrugged. "Tsunade-sama's gonna kill me if I don't get to work though. See you tonight?"
"I suppose this is the part where I play the role of the perfect wife," Temari grumbled. "Blow my husband a kiss as he waves?"
"I'd never expect you to be the perfect wife," Shikamaru winked.
At first, Temari thought he was just being sweet in an attempt to comfort her. He was long gone by the time she realized the second meaning.
"Damn him," she muttered.
Chouji was waiting outside the apartment building for Shikamaru, so when the black haired shinobi finally came outside, he was relieved.
"Where have you been?" Chouji asked. "Tsunade-sama's going to kill us both!"
"Blame it on Temari," Shikamaru sighed. "Sorry, Chouji."
The large man shrugged amiably. He would always wait for Shikamaru; that's just how their friendship was.
They started walking, not too fast. It didn't take Chouji long to notice the spring in his best friend's step.
"Why so happy?" he questioned curiously.
Shikamaru stopped in his tracks, wondering if it was really that obvious. Grimacing, he turned to the man he trusted with nearly every secret he had.
"I kissed Temari again today," Shikamaru told him.
He allowed himself a small smile.
"Again?" Chouji said. "Kissed? Shikamaru, you haven't even gone on any dates yet!"
"We went on one yesterday," Shikamaru protested. "She kissed me yesterday! I kissed her today, because, well…"
He explained the whole situation in great detail, not leaving anything out or exaggerating.
"It sounds like you're liking married life," Chouji pointed out, his eyes twinkling.
"Shikamaru, that had to have been the only smooth thing you've ever done in your entire life!"
Both men turned to their right to find a smiling Ino.
"How long have you been there?" Shikamaru asked slowly.
"Darling, when will you learn that stealth is a key part of my skills?" Ino retorted, tossing her blonde hair. "Anyway, I have to say I underestimated you, Shikamaru. I thought I'd have to guide you through your relationship like I guided this team to ultimate coolness!"
Her teammates looked at her skeptically.
"Coolness?" Shikamaru said. "I think you might have to use real words to attract Sai's attention, Ino."
The blonde waved that away.
"Doesn't anyone let you in on the gossip?" she asked, offended. "I'm with Kiba, Shikamaru, Inuzuka Kiba."
"Yes, Ino," Shikamaru replied tiredly. "We all care about your love life."
"Well, I care about yours!" Ino exclaimed. "And I can't have you stuck in a miserable marriage when you are both so obviously in love. So I think we should devise a plan."
Chouji looked at his female teammate suspiciously.
"Is this going to be like the plan you made to get Sai's attention?" he asked. "That didn't really– "
"Just like that!" Ino interrupted, snapping her fingers. "I'd forgotten about that lovely little ploy. Now, Chouji, I'm going to take the day off and teach Shikamaru all he needs to know about marriage. You tell Tsunade-sama that he's taking the day off."
Chouji gulped and looked at his best friend with uncertainty. Shikamaru sighed in exasperation.
"Ino, I can't just do that," he began.
"Not a word!" Ino told him. "Shikamaru, we can do this the easy way, or we can do this the hard way. Are you going to cooperate?"
It was then that Chouji realized that the most pressing danger was the glint in Ino's eye.
"No worries, Shikamaru!" he declared. "Sakura told me that I needed to come in for a check up, and Tsunade-sama will surely be sending me to the hospital, so it works out for everybody."
Chouji grinned at Shikamaru, and Shikamaru sent him a look of sympathy. Still, as Chouji left them with a wave, he knew that he was the one getting a better deal here.
"Shikamaru, let's start with tonight," Ino said. "So, what are you doing?"
"Ino, this is stupid," Shikamaru replied. "Do we have to do this?"
"Take flowers," she instructed, ignoring his protests. "I'll give them to you free! After all, you are my teammate. And let's do something about your look…"
Shikamaru threw his hands in the air in frustration.
"I'm not changing for Temari!" he proclaimed. "I'm just not! So, if you want to talk about what we should do, fine. But I'm not doing anything I don't want to do."
"Fair enough," Ino agreed. "But don't blame me when you're not having sex."
"Is that all anyone cares about?" Shikamaru grumbled. "I just want to have a nice, calm relationship."
Ino clicked her tongue.
"With Temari?" she asked skeptically. "Sweetheart, you and I both know that's not happening. So let's work on how you're going to win over the lovely woman I'm sure is trapped inside the tomboyish kunoichi."
Shikamaru raised an eyebrow, but he allowed her to continue talking.
Three hours later, Shikamaru was exhausted, but Ino seemed to be perkier than ever.
"Let's go over the plan one more time!" she said. "Just to make sure you know it. I know you're a genius, but you never seem to pay attention when I talk."
"I wonder why," Shikamaru muttered.
She glared at him, so he rolled his eyes and started talking.
"I go in with flowers," Shikamaru sighed. "I give them to her, and then I ask whether she wants to go get ingredients for whatever we're making. She has to say yes, because we'll have to eat, so we go to the market. When we're there, I somehow manage to put my arm around her, or we could hold hands. Of course, I pay for everything. We get back home, and you will have already set up the kitchen with candles and a bottle of wine. We cook, we eat, and we sleep. Happy?"
"Good enough for day one," Ino replied, satisfied. "But Shikamaru, you can't just sleep! Get some action in there. Do you want me to ask Kiba to come give you some tips?"
"God, no," he said quickly.
"Okay," Ino shrugged. "Let's go get you some flowers."
Shikamaru arrived at the apartment fifteen minutes later, a bouquet of red flowers in hand. He took a deep breath before twisting his key into the lock.
"Hey, Temari," he called.
"Oh, you're here," Temari replied, appearing from the bedroom. "What's up?"
Shikamaru held up the bouquet and made an effort to smile.
"I got these for you," he told her.
"How'd you know these were my favorite, Nara?" Temari asked.
Despite her suspicion, she accepted them graciously. He didn't bother to tell her that he'd picked them out even though Ino had said they weren't right for such an early date.
"Just picked ones that looked healthy," Shikamaru shrugged. "So, do you want to go to the market?"
"Yeah, let me grab some cash," Temari agreed.
"Uh, you don't have to do that!" Shikamaru said awkwardly. "I'll, uh… I'll pay for everything."
She looked at him and raised an eyebrow.
"I guess we can just go then," she said. "You ready?"
Shikamaru nodded, and they stepped out of the apartment into the hallway. As he struggled to remember Ino's stupid plan, he felt a warm hand slip into his.
"Hey, Temari," Shikamaru nudged her, overwhelmed by a burst of spontaneity.
"What?" she asked.
"Marry me?" he smirked.
Temari didn't bother to dignify that with a response; besides, it made no sense.
Shikamaru chuckled to himself as his wife thought that over.
A few minutes later, when they had almost reached the market, Temari's lips parted to let a single word slip from her mouth.
Note: The title of this chapter is from Animal by Neon Trees.