They kept the relationship top secret, and Shikamaru continued to render duties as liaison officer. She hadn't asked him for tips and he hadn't given any. They even postponed any games of shogi on the off chance he would inadvertently reveal something about possible strategies she could use during the exam.
It was impossible to keep it secret from their own team members though, which proved that Team Gai and Team Ten either had remarkable information-gathering skills, or they were just plain nosy.
"So you think we could kiss?"
Shikamaru looked at her incredulously. "You're next up on the arena, and you're thinking about that?"
"Uh-huh. Would you kiss me after the match?" She wasn't looking at him; she was assessing the ninja she was pitted against. Her opponent was from the Hidden Rain Village, and had been leering at her and making lewd remarks ever since they'd announced the matches. She was beginning to take it in stride. It was part of growing up, learning to deal with such depravities. Also, Tenten knew that if she didn't finish him off completely during the match, Neji and Lee would be waiting for him outside the arena. They'd become more youthful like that.
"Concentrate, Tenten," Shikamaru lamented, "I don't want you to get killed out there."
"But Shikamaru," she turned doe eyes up at him. "Aren't I your first love?"
He had only two responses to eyes like that, utter speechlessness, or "yes, dear."
"Yes, dear." He was practicing other replies, really he was. "What does being my first love have to do with—"
"I can't be killed. I'm immortal," she beamed at him and delivered the punchline. "First love never dies."
Shikamaru was not a violent man, but he would kill her himself one day. Some things could not be borne.
"I will kiss you after the match," he promised darkly while he heard their team mates cackling behind him.
"Good." She stepped forward as her name was called. "I'm ready."
A/N: I hope you enjoyed it. I'd continue it for the rest of the three year timeskip, but they might end up having a kid named Trunks who travels back in time and fights androids from the future. These three year time skips are really popular in manga, aren't they? That was a rhetorical question, but if it results in a review, please answer, by all means!
I must thank my readers, reviewers, favers and alerters.
Shadowrabbit, Aoi Nami-chan, , waterdragonrai, 1tentenchan1, WinterMission, tigers-and-dragons, Coco Mimi (*mumbles*), Vanilla Cinnamon, Rembaud, Reyes Hovi, Kaze and Kiba, Saphira113, Jins-swords, Nerd4eva, , Tomas Hydraxus, The Pirate on Wheels, Everybody's Neesan and Pyrozia, your feedback and encouragement gave me the incentive to push on and try my best to fit this into the canon Naruto world and at the same time give Shika/Ten a chance to flourish. Sorry if you wanted more, but all I was really planning on was a one-shot consisting of the first chapter, as a sort of springboard for all those other great shikaten fics out there (First by Wielder of Paperclips comes to mind). The rest of the chapters are really just lagniappe.
Many of the reviewers also put the story on their Story Alerts and Faves, but I'll mention those as well who quietly watched and fav'd: alleka, amagaeru, Angelwings228, Imperfect Real 1, Mirabar, pocu, Susan Dreamer, Tendou-Jigoku, Utuu, zalbard, Sundee, and David Tai, I flattered myself by thinking your silently placing this little piece on your story alerts meant that I was cool enough to have stalkers. =D
Casualeio, DragonStorm85, Fredryck, wicknaru, TheGirlInTheBackRound, the speed with which you added this to your favorite stories list despite its unfinished status astounded me, and I appreciate your faith. Did I miss anyone? Hope not.
And to the rest of the readers of this story, both past and future, thank you very much for your time. Finally, to rest.