A/N: Okay, so like, I was totally just standing in the shower trying to clear my racing mind when a random idea popped into my head that I felt almost compelled to write about. There isn't much plot behind this idea, mind you, but for some reason, I got the urge to write a ShikaxIno oneshot because I haven't had the compulsion to write a story with this pairing since I had my last laptop (I do believe I actually had started one on there, too). It's my first fic of this pairing, but not of this particular Anime (obviously) so I'm HOPING that it comes out okay.

As for the relevancy to the current time frame of the series versus when this story takes place, it's sometime before war is declared (in the manga), the specific time not really relevant. The plot is kind of random, but it definitely does take place during the Shippuuden part of the series. Regardless, let me know how I do on it? Thanks :)

Song: Better Than Me

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or the song featured in this story! The only thing I own here is the plot line and my own perverse antics that just may happen to be in it.

It was raining for the first time in over a month, the entire Fire Country having been plagued by a seemingly-endless drought that had finally come to an end today. The rain was pouring from the heavens relentlessly, the heavy winds harshly blowing the downpour about roughly, the raindrops colliding roughly against the buildings that made up the Hidden Leaf Village. This kind of weather was certainly not considered safe enough for a person to be caught outdoors in, and for that purpose alone, all shinobi missions had been canceled until the harsh weather let up.

Ino let out a sigh as she sat at her windowsill, her bright blue eyes gazing longingly at the now-drenched streets below. Her family's flower shop had to be closed earlier today due to this inconvenient weather, but either way, it was for the best. Even if the flower shop had remained open despite the current downpour, there wouldn't be any customers willing to battle the storm regardless, and thus she was left with nothing else to do.

She was sitting alone in her apartment, desperate to find something to do to distract herself from the thoughts currently plaguing her mind. Today she had the day off from working at the hospital, Tsunade having refused to allow her to work due to Ino having been overworking herself as of lately. And with all shinobi missions being canceled until further notice, there was no way for her to be able to bury herself in her work as a means of clearing her head.

Her thoughts were currently rampant, and she tightly wrapped her arms around her knees in an attempt at holding herself together as her mind replayed his words from several days before over and over in her head, the gut-wrenching feeling that followed returning to the pit of her stomach and it took all of her self-control not to lash out at a nearby wall.

It was exactly four days before the major storm had began its downpour upon the Hidden Leaf Village. Two of the three remaining members of Team Asuma—namely Ino and Chōji—were patiently standing in the village training grounds as they awaited for the arrival of the third member of their forever broken team, Shikamaru.

He had arranged this meeting, and yet for some reason, he was now running a little bit late. Ino and Chōji didn't mind too much, though. After all, they didn't have anywhere else more important to be right now. Team Asuma was void of any missions today, and due to Ino having just ended her shift at the hospital not too long before her arrival, they had been left with all the time in the world to spend.

Despite this, however, they soon realized that they didn't have much longer to wait on Shikamaru as they noticed a familiar pineapple-shaped head of hair slowly walking towards them from a far distance, his hands casually resting behind the back of his head. He was in no real rush to arrive, despite him having declared this meeting between the three of them to be somewhat "urgent", and so he took his time approaching his teammates, whom just so happened to also be his best friends.

When he finally arrived, Ino feigned an angry expression as she slapped his shoulder, her voice tinged with mild humor as she 'berated' him for being late for his own meeting, while also not forgetting to add her own little jab about him being a "lazy bastard", just as she usually did. Shikamaru just shrugged it off and apologized to the two of them for being late anyway. Chōji simply reassured him that it was quite alright, while Ino continued to feign being irritated at him. But both Ino and Shikamaru both knew that she wasn't really that angry with him; she could never stay angry at him for too long...

Ino suddenly snapped out of her reverie by a rather large boom that reverberated from outside of the window she was currently sitting nearby, her eyes widening as she watched the large lightning bolts forming just meters away from her house. For a brief moment, she began to wonder if the lightning bolts posed any form of a threat to her safety considering they were forming so close to where she was currently sitting. Not wanting to risk taking that chance, Ino stood up and tightly shut the curtain, her living room instantly darkening as she walked away from the window sill towards the direction of her beige sofa.

The electricity had been out for two hours now, so she was stuck sitting alone in the darkness. It wasn't entirely dark considering the fact that it was still technically daylight outside, so despite the current downpour of rain being accompanied now by the loud crashes of lightning, there was still enough light shining through the windows of Ino's small apartment to enable her to guide her way about without her getting injured on her furniture.

Before she sat down on her sofa, she walked over to the kitchen-area of her small, three room apartment—the living room and kitchen being connected as one large room—and she opened up one of the cupboards above a counter top, her thin body stretching to a high shelf as she pulled down two small candles and sat them side by side on the counter top below. Closing the cupboard door, Ino walked to the other end of the kitchen area before stopping in front of her fridge.

Once again, her thin body stretched as she stood on her tiptoes, her arm rummaging around on the top of the fridge for a pack of matches that she was certain to have placed there awhile before. Finally finding what she was looking for, she made her way back towards the candles on the counter and simply sat the pack of matches down beside them, deciding to wait before lighting the candles.

Considering the fact that it was still just bright enough inside of her apartment for her to be able to make out everything, due to the weather outside causing a blueish gleam to cover relatively everything inside of her apartment, Ino figured that she wouldn't actually be needing to use the two remaining small candles until much later on tonight, knowing that as soon as nightfall arrived, her apartment would be pitch black inside, even with all of the curtains open wide.

Satisfied with her candles now being left out and in the open on standby for later, Ino let out a long sigh and slowly made her way towards the sofa in her nearby living room. Once she arrived at the beige sofa, her body sluggishly fell upon it with a soft thud as her blonde hair spread around her head, almost resembling a halo.

Her bright blue eyes stared up at the motionless ceiling fan above her, her right arm draped casually across her forehead as she once again started to think, only now, thoughts began to drift much further back into time, back roughly about two years earlier; back when everything was different and at the same time, changing between two of the remaining three members of Team Asuma. Closing her eyes, Ino imagined his face just as it had appeared on that particular day, and her lips slightly twitched into a smile at the sight—slightly.

For the first time in what seemed like forever, Ino and Shikamaru were left training alone together, Chōji having been summoned by the hokage earlier that day to be placed on some random team for a B-Ranking mission. Normally, the three members of the former Team Asuma would be training together on this day—Monday—at this particular hour, but due to the circumstances, both Shikamaru and Ino were left training without him. They didn't mind his absence too much, the two going about their training just as they normally would.

They had spent the past three hours sparring back and forth with one another, both teenagers touching up on the usual skills—ninjutsu, taijutsu, and genjutsu—before working more tediously on their more clan-based skills, that being Shikamaru's shadow techniques as well as Ino's mind techniques. As the few short hours passed them by, it didn't take them very long to become exhausted and low on chakra, before both shinobi decided to call it quits for the day.

Before they would head off to their respective homes, the two had first decided to sit down for a moment to catch their breaths, both sweating and panting heavily in exhaustion. Their sparring had been relentless and thus had caused the two of them to work up quite a sweat, and right now, the two of them were currently laying side by side in the grass, both shinobi staring tiredly at the sky above them in silence as they focused on slowing their breathing back to normal levels.

It took several moments before they were both breathing normally again, but neither Ino or Shikamaru had made an effort to move from their respective places in the grass, both far too comfortable and content with watching the clouds above them to even consider budging.

The clouds in the sky were spread out into various shapes and sizes, each one slowly moving towards one another before they would eventually mesh together and forming into one larger cloud. It was truly something that Shikamaru had found to be the most amazing thing in the world right now, and he decided to voice his opinions to the blonde woman laying beside him.

"Hey Ino," he started before turning his head to look at the blonde woman at his right. Upon hearing Shikamaru saying her name, Ino turned her own head to the left to look back at him in encouragement for him to continue with whatever he wished to say to her. Taking her cue, Shikamaru continued stating his cloud musing aloud.

"You ever notice how the clouds always somehow manage to go from being one large, separate entity, before they both end up merging together into one giant being?"

"Eh? Well, I guess that that's a good way to look at things, so yeah... What made you say that though?" she asked in surprise, but Shikamaru remained quiet, his only verbal form of response being a barely audible grunt. Ino watched as Shikamaru's eyes drifted back to the clouds above them before her own head turned to face upwards at the abstract beings moving above the two of them. Several long moments of silence passed them by before being broken by Shikamaru once more, his words leaving Ino stunned and unsure how to respond to him.

"Do you think that will happen to you and me someday, Ino? Us growing together until we eventually become one whole being?"

Ino's eyes were open wide as she stared at the brown haired man, his eyes never leaving the sky above them in refusal to look at her. She didn't know how to honestly respond to his question, and she knew that he was expecting some form of an answer, so she opted for simply shrugging her shoulders and giving him an uncertain response, it being the best that she could do for the time being.

"I guess it depends on fate. Anything's possible though." There was another long moment of silence, this time being spent with Shikamaru's words echoing over and over again in the back of Ino's mind as she tried her best to just focus on the bright blue sky above them. Cloud watching had never really been much of a hobby of hers, but she was still too fatigued from their sparring session to really be willing to tear herself away from it. When she was the first to break the silence, her words left him confused and at a loss for a means of response.

"Do you want us to end up growing together someday?"

To be honest, Shikamaru wasn't sure of the answer to that question, never really having put forth the effort into thinking about that. He stared at one of the smaller clouds directly above his head as he tried to think of an answer, the moments ticking by once more before he finally concluded some sort of an answer to her question.

"I think I would want that to happen to us, yeah..."

It was one of the very few memories she had of Shikamaru that Ino could easily recall and relive over and over again, no matter what the situation. It was probably because it was one of the few times Shikamaru gave off any hint of an actual emotion—more specifically, affection—and it was being aimed towards herself, of all people. It was this knowledge alone that made her feel a hint of pride, knowing that he had reserved such a feeling towards her and her alone. Or at least, that was how it used to be, back before everything had changed between them.

Ino let out a long, shaky breath, her eyes now wide open as she stared up at the paint patterns of the living room ceiling, for once noticing how similar they looked to clouds. Her right arm was still draped across her forehead as she once again closed her eyes, her mind willing itself over and over again not to think about remotely anything having to do with clouds because it would only make her think of him. Despite this, however, her silent mantra was proving to be failing her miserably right now, the first thing she sees the moment her eyelids shut are clouds.

Clouds would be one of the few things in her life, aside from being a shinobi, that would truly have a permanent impact on her life, and she blamed Shikamaru for that wholeheartedly. It was because of the fact that she did not have a single memory involving clouds that did not involve himself as well, and she knew that things were always going to be this way. Of course, she'd watched the clouds before during instances when they weren't with one another, but it was only with him that she ever truly took a moment to fully take in the moment of cloud-watching with pure amazement and wonder, watching their movements as artfully as humanly possible. He made cloud watching fascinating.

Team Asuma had just been summoned to the Hokage's office, all members of the team—Asuma included—having shown up on time, save for one person—Shikamaru. The brown haired shinobi was currently nowhere in sight, much to everyone's displeasure, and a fourteen-year-old Ino was immediately assigned the task of retrieving him so that they could all be properly informed of their mission. To say that Tsunade was pissed over his lack of attendance would be an extreme understatement, and Ino partially feared for her own life upon seeing the look on the Godaime's face as the older woman had angrily given Ino the task of "dragging Shikamaru's lazy ass" to the Hokage tower.

It took her over twenty minutes of searching the village high and low, making sure to search in his usual hiding spots before finally coming to the current and final one—the training grounds. And alas, there was the person she had been desperately searching for, laying on the ground just several feet in front of her with his arm lazily draped over his eyes, shielding them from the sun.

"Shikamaru Nara, there you are! I have been looking everywhere for you!"

Shikamaru didn't need to open his eyes in order to know who was currently shouting his name; he could recognize the high-pitched female shrieking anywhere. Ino.

Hearing her angry voice, Shikamaru inwardly groaned, his arm still shielding his eyes from both the sun as well as the angry blonde before him using the juncture of his elbow. Ino gripped Shikamaru's mesh shirt in her fist as she drug him up into a sitting position, thus forcing him to stop shielding his eyes and actually look at her.

"Troublesome woman, what do you want?" he muttered, his closed fists rubbing the apparent sleep away from his eyes. Whatever she wanted right now had better been important because she had just managed to interrupt a very good nap. As he finally stopped to look at her expression, he immediately knew that she was beyond pissed about something—namely, him—and he wondered what it was that she wanted.

Ino stood before him with her hands placed firmly on her hips, her face upturned into a scowl as her angry blue eyes glared down at him. Suddenly, she opened her mouth once again to shout at him.

"Dammit, Shikamaru! Our team was just summoned to the Godaime's office, but once we all arrive there, we realize that you're missing! So now I'm the one being sent out here by Tsunade-sama to drag your lazy ass to the Hokage Tower so that we can be briefed on our damn mission! So get up off your ass and lets go!"

Shikamaru let out a long sigh as he started standing up, his body immediately stretching his still-tired muscles in the process as he began walking beside her back towards the Hokage Tower. Much to Shikamaru's surprise (and pleasure), Ino was relatively quiet for most of the walk to the tower. That is, until she finally spoke again, her voice less angry than before though still tinged with a slight hint of irritation.

"What the hell were you doing back there, anyway Shikamaru? You know we're supposed to be within reach at all times for things like this."

Shikamaru stared straight ahead as he let out a long sigh, his eyes closing momentarily as he answered Ino's question casually, his hands stuffed deep within his pockets as a force of habit.

"Yeah I know... I was originally going to go cloud watching, but the sun was too bright for my eyes to handle. So I just laid there for a little bit with my arm shielding my eyes until I accidentally fell asleep. The next thing I knew, I had you screaming my ear off. Sorry." He shrugged his shoulders, and Ino—now satisfied with his answer—didn't say anything else in response as the two of them walked quietly to the Hokage's office, both young Chuunin bracing themselves for the earful they were bound to get from the blonde Hokage in regards to Shikamaru's lateness.

Ino realized now that almost all of their most memorable moments spent together was linked somehow with involving the clouds. It was only natural, considering cloud watching just happened to be Shikamaru's favorite pastime in life, and for a brief moment, she wondered if all of it was due to some cosmic coincidence that their brighter moments in life happened in the presence of the clouds above them.

"Ino, do you love me?" Shikamaru asked calmly from beside the blonde haired woman. His question was one he had asked her several times before, and the fact that he felt the urge to ask the same question over and over again was because he wondered if her answer was still the same.

"Always. Do you love me too, Shikamaru?" Ino asked, her voice followed immediately by her soft girlish giggling. Shikamaru broke his gaze away from the clouds above them, his eyes soft and full of love.

"I'll always love you, Ino. Always." There was a long pause of silence, Ino's face plastered with a smile as the two laid in the grass, their hands linked together lazily. As Shikamaru spoke again, his words left Ino in complete and utter shock.

"Ino, will you marry me?" Shikamaru asked suddenly, his words causing Ino to immediately snap her head towards him in shock, her eyes wide as she started to sit up on her elbows to look at him.

Both shinobi were currently laying in their usual spot at the training grounds, their eyes watching the moving white blurs in the sky above them. This had became almost a ritual for them over the years, not a week passing them by without the two of them stopping for a good few hours to just stare into the sky above and get lost in their own thoughts.

His question had caught her completely off guard, and she questioned having heard him correctly, knowing that she truly did. Shikamaru had just out of the blue asked her to marry him, and the two hadn't even been dating beforehand!

"W-What?" she asked incredulously, her eyes gazing down at the brown-haired man whose own eyes were now staring up into hers.

Shikamaru didn't respond to her immediately after, his lips pursed tightly together in a thin line as he stared intensely into Ino's eyes, his arms remaining folded behind his head. Several moments passed in silence as Ino impatiently waited for him to say something, anything as a means of explanation as to where his question had came from all of a sudden. He let out a sigh before raising his own torso up, his upper body weight now resting entirely onto his elbows as he shifted his body towards Ino's own, his gaze never leaving her own as he intensely stared at her.

It wasn't until the two shinobi were mere inches away from one another's faces that Shikamaru began to speak again, his dark brown eyes staring intensely into her bright blue ones, his gaze filled with both resolve and a seriousness that could only be uniquely his. She knew in that moment that he was being entirely serious, and she honestly was at a loss for words. She parted her lips to speak but couldn't find a word to say to him, so she remained quiet. Shikamaru waited a few seconds for her to say something—anything—before he crushed his own lips against her currently parted ones, the response from her being instantaneous as the two sixteen-year-olds began moving their lips against one another.

Ino immediately relaxed her body until she once again was laying flat on her back in the grass, her movement being followed entirely by Shikamaru as he shifted his body until he was laying on his stomach, his hands bracing his body weight from either side of Ino's head. His neck was dipped low as he continued to slowly move his lips along Ino's own, the two young shinobi quickly losing themselves in the heat of the moment.

But alas, all good things must come to an end, and Shikamaru had to pull himself away from her briefly for some air. The moment their lips separated, Ino's eyes slowly opened as she stared intensely up at him. Both shinobi were out of breath from their intense kiss, and their panting was met against each of their faces. Finally, Shikamaru spoke again, his eyes still staring intensely into Ino's.

"Again, will you marry me, Ino?" The blonde haired kunoichi looked at him in shock before pressing her palms to his chest, her right palm feeling his heart beat heavily against his chest as he waited for her answer. She lightly began pushing him away from her, distancing them. Shikamaru immediately complied as the two sat up into an upright sitting position.

"Shikamaru, I...we can't..." Shikamaru looked at her in an expression of shock tinged with genuine hurt and rejection, his eyes silently questioning her answer and thus prompting her to continue.

"We're too young to get married anyhow! We're only sixteen!" Shikamaru's intense gaze never faltered as he responded to her excuse.

"We are also shinobi who could end up dying relatively any day now. I think that now would be as good a time as any to get married, but it's up to you to decide if it's me you want to marry."

Ino's eyes widened and she was left once again at a loss for words. Just as before, her lips parted slightly but no words left her mouth and Shikamaru couldn't resist the urge to kiss her vulnerable looking lips. So, he leaned forward with one of his hands at the back of her head as he pressed his lips tightly against her own, her own mouth moving against his on instinct alone. Shikamaru brought his other hand to her cheek as he held her face in place, his lips frantically moving along her own lips as the two engaged in yet another intense kiss before he was forced to pull away for some much-needed air.

"So what do ya say?" he asked, his eyes closing for a moment. Ino wrapped her slender fingers around his wrist, his hands still placed on either side of her face as the two remained mere inches from one another. Her answer wasn't a complete form of rejection, but she still felt guilty regardless as she finally found the courage to answer his proposal.

"I'm sorry, I'm not ready yet... But maybe in a few years, I will be..." Shikamaru released her face from his hands as he leaned back onto the grass, distancing their faces once more. He let out a long sigh as he ran his fingers through his ponytail, his eyes looking up towards the clouds.

"Alright, Ino. Whatever you want."

It had been almost four years since he had proposed to her that first time, and nearly two years since he tried to convince the young woman to marry him a second time. Yet again, she rejected him, her excuse still being that they were too young. They were never a couple, but things felt better for the both of them that way. As they slowly matured into young adults, both Shikamaru and Ino only grew closer together as the years passed them by, the two of them becoming inseparable over time.

Ino's eyes filled with tears as she shifted her position on the couch, her body now laying on its side as she stared at the bare wall in front of her. In a sense, she now regretted not accepting his marriage proposal all of those years ago, because it was over time that she had grown to love him in ways that excelled far beyond the depths of mere "friendship" alone. She had fallen in love with him, but at the same time, she had blew her chance at the two of them ending up together.

The storm outside had only seemed to worsen as the day dragged on, and Ino wondered what Shikamaru was doing in that exact moment, not like it really mattered regardless. The two of them weren't exactly speaking to one another at the moment, though this was her own doing and fault. As she stared at the white wall in front of her, she started thinking back to her earlier thought, about Shikamaru calling a meeting between herself, Shikamaru, and Chōji at the training grounds, just four days before today.

"So what was so important that you just had to arrange an actual team meeting with us to talk about?" Ino asked, a glint of amusement and humor in her bright blue eyes.

Shikamaru's expression didn't have any indication of amusement, though. No, he was completely and entirely serious right now. Noticing the seriousness of whatever it was that Shikamaru was about to say to them, Chōji urged Shikamaru to go ahead and tell them, Ino immediately catching the drift and her attitude also turning serious as the two of them stared at Shikamaru.

"You guys know how I've been dating Temari of the Sand over the last year now?" he asked and Ino's back visibly stiffened as she slowly nodded her head, Chōji nodding his own head in suit with her own, both prompting Shikamaru to further continue.

"I wanted you guys to be the first to know this since you're all a part of my team..." Shikamaru paused to look both Chōji and then Ino directly in the eyes before letting out a long sigh.

"Man, this is so troublesome... Anyway... Temari and I are going to be getting married." Ino's entire face turned a deathly pale as she felt her blood turn cold at his words. What...? He's going to be marrying Temari of the Sand? Her jack slackened visibly as she was left at a loss for words, a million questions now running through her mind.

It had been no secret that Shikamaru and the Sand kunoichi had been seeing each other from a distance over the course of the previous year. In fact, Ino was completely fine with the knowledge of the two being a long-distance couple, never once imagining things to actually last as long as they did, let alone lead to the two of them getting engaged. At this very moment, Ino was only able to form one coherent word.

"When?" she asked, her eyes still wide with shock and her face still drained of all pigment. She looked like a ghost at this very moment in time but Shikamaru paid no notice to this as he casually answered her question.

"In a month."

As soon as the words registered in Ino's brain, her she lost all traces of coherent thought. She felt dizzy and nauseous at the exact same moment, and suddenly, she started to panic. The next thing she knew, her legs began to move of their own accord as she felt her body retreating quickly throughout the treetops, her sole intention being to get very far away from Shikamaru and Chōji. At this very moment, only one thought raced throughout her head as she continued running, her legs leaping from tree branch to tree branch: "Must...run...far...away..."

And from there, Ino's body ran on pure instinct, and out of fear, she darted throughout the treetops of the forest surrounding the training grounds, her body pumping chakra into her legs to enhance her speed. Shikamaru and Chōji were left in shock at her response, wondering not only where she was going, but also, what was wrong with her.

It wasn't until Ino was considerably far away from the training area that she stopped running, her muscles burning from overexertion as she finally came to a stop on a tree branch, her body leaning forward as she struggled to catch her breath. She had forgotten to breathe as she ran, and fear alone dragged her body away from the two of them. Now that she had finally snapped back to reality, she felt the floodgates breaking as tears leaked from both corners of her eyes, her crying immediately turning into violent sobs.

In her mind, all she could think about was him and the time they had spent together, both going from friends to something more as teenagers. She remembered everything he had told her and her mind began to consume her with the memories they shared with one another.

"...Ino, will you marry me...?"

"...Hey Ino, you ever notice how the clouds always somehow manage to go from being one large, separate entity, before they both end up merging together into one giant being...?"

"...Do you think that will happen to you and me someday, Ino? Us growing together until we eventually become one whole being...?"

"...I think I would want that to happen to us, yeah..."

"...Ino, do you love me...?"

"...I'll always love you, Ino. Always..."

As his words played over and over in her head, Ino sunk to her knees, her sobs coming much harder now, wracking her entire body as she curled up into a ball, her arms wrapping around her knees as she gently trembled on the forest floor. Never in her life had she felt as much pain as she did in her heart. Then again, never in a million years would she have imagined falling so madly in love with Shikamaru as she had when they were teenagers.

But this was what Ino wanted, right? She had turned him down for marriage twice already, and she knew how much it had hurt him both times. She wasn't ready yet, and honestly, she was afraid of taking a step as far as marriage. That would be just asking a bit too much of her and she still had some growing up to do. That's why she had supported his relationship with Temari; she was sick of being the person who would always end up hurting him in the end.

She wanted him to find someone who could make him happy, because in her opinion, he could do so much better than her, and now he really was going to be doing better, by marrying Temari. At least Temari said 'yes' to his marriage proposal, unlike Ino who had turned him down twice. No, Temari definitely could make him happier than Ino could; she had hurt him too much as it is.

I think you can do much better than me
After all the lies that I made you believe

Ino stood up from her place on the couch, not bothering to pay any mind to the fresh set of tears now flowing down her face. She felt guilty now for running off on Shikamaru that day, but she felt even worse for avoiding him until now afterwords. He had came to her door three times already and she pretended she wasn't home, she avoided walking around the village out of fear of bumping into him on accident, and she did everything else in her power to avoid facing him and giving him some sort of an explanation.

Meanwhile, on the other end of the village, Shikamaru sat alone on his bed, his fingers entwined as he stared ahead at the wall, his mind drifting to thoughts of the events that had taken place four days earlier between Ino, Chōji, and himself as he tried to figure out what was wrong with Ino, though it wasn't too hard for him to piece things together. After all, he wasn't a renowned "genius" for nothing.

She was hurt; he could see that much in her eyes the moment the words left his mouth. He never anticipated her running away from him in such a frenzy, however, and it still had him feeling shocked that Ino had lost her composure so badly in that very moment.

He hated this entire situation, because he still loved Ino despite everything between himself and Temari. To be honest, Temari was just a means for him to try to get over Ino. He had decided a while back, before he had even began dating the Sand kunoichi, that Ino would probably never want to marry him. She just didn't seem like she would ever be ready for something like that. They were twenty years old, and by now, almost all the kunoichi in their age group were either engaged or married by now except Ino.

Shikamaru stood up from his bed and began pacing around his bedroom, his hands running along the contours of his face as he glanced over at his bed, his mind immediately being flooded by a memory between himself and Ino that he had long-since suppressed since he had begun seeing Temari.

"S-Shikamaru, are you sure about this?" A very naked seventeen-year-old Ino Yamanaka asked from beneath him, her breathing heavy and labored as Shikamaru looked down at her, a mixture of desire and love both relevant in his dark brown eyes as he stared at her.

"Ino, I already told you, if you aren't comfortable doing this, we don't have to. All you have to do is say the word, and I promise you we can stop. Are you alright with this...?" His voice held so much concern and compassion, that it was impossible for Ino to say 'no' to him in this very moment in time.

They had already made it this far anyhow, all that was left to do was to take the final step towards discarding their virginity, but it was her nervousness that had driven her to interrupt it. Finally deciding that she wanted him to continue, Ino smiled sweetly at him, her eyes closing as she nodded. Immediately, Shikamaru bent down and kissed her passionately on the lips as he guided his member to her entrance before once again pausing. He broke the kiss and looked Ino deep in the eyes, his forehead pressed against her own.

"This is going to hurt at first, Ino..." he said regretfully, and the blonde took a deep breath before nodding her head and urging him to continue.

Shikamaru's lips covered her own once again as he pushed his length inside of her, trying to delay the pain for her as much as possible before realizing that the only way to get it done and over with would be in one hard thrust. So, pulling his hips back slightly, Shikamaru thrust himself forward and used his mouth to block the blood-curdling scream that followed, his eyes never leaving Ino's face as he watched tears immediately begin pouring down her face.

He did everything in his power to distract her from the pain as he moved his lips gently against her own, slowly enticing her to follow. Sobs began to wrack her entire body and Shikamaru remain stilled inside of her, the pressure of her tight virgin walls constricting around his member almost being too much for him to handle as he forced himself to remain still until she urged him otherwise. He felt guilty for hurting her, but at the same time, he had to keep in mind of the pleasure he would soon be causing her.

A good ten agonizing minutes had passed them by before Ino's crying had completely stopped, the blonde looking into her lovers eyes as she nodded her head for him to begin moving. Smiling softly down at her, Shikamaru once again captured her lips in a passionate kiss as he began to slowly pull his hips backwards before thrusting them forward again. The slow movement immediately enticed a soft moan from the blonde beneath him, and that was all the encouragement he needed to repeat the notion once, twice, thrice... until his body felt the urge to increase his pace.

It was within no time at all that Ino's soft moans had turned into loud screams, and Shikamaru's name could be heard echoing throughout the dark room as he quickly began thrusting himself into her. Shikamaru began sucking on and biting Ino's neck, his name still rolling off her tongue with ease as he thrust himself in and out of her tight opening, and as the bed beneath them began to squeak in strain from their movements, a set of nails on one of Ino's delicate hands began sinking into Shikamaru's back before dragging it's way down, leaving a trail of red lines in its wake.

He could feel her walls clenching tightly around himself, and he realized that they were both quickly approaching their climax. Despite wanting to prolong things as long as he could, Shikamaru continued his violent thrusts within the kunoichi's warmth as the two came closer and closer to their impending climax. It wasn't until the clawing on his back stilled and he felt her muscles grow taut that he felt her come undone, his own climax following immediately after as her tightening warmth around his member became too much for him to take.

As the two shinobi slowly came down from their high, they were left feeling exhausted beyond belief, and it took almost all the effort he had for Shikamaru to remove himself from her heat before dragging his body beside her, his arm instantly pulling her thin body towards his own as he held her in an almost protective manner, the two slowly drifting off to sleep as they slowly evened out their breathing. Before completely succumbing to sleep, Ino leaned up towards Shikamaru's face, giving him a brief yet tender kiss on the lips before whispering the words "I love you."

Shikamaru's lips immediately twitched into a genuinely happy smile, his eyes remaining closed as he leaned forward to return the gesture, his own lips pressed up against hers as they kissed once again, this time for a bit longer before he pulled away to whisper back at her...

"I love you too Ino, forever and always."

And guilt kicks in and I start to see
The edge of the bed
Where your nightgown used to be.

Shikamaru's back pressed against the wall as he slowly sunk his body down into a sitting position on the floor, his face immediately being buried in his hands as he stared at the bed in front of him, the memory of their first time together coming back to him as freshly as the day it had actually happened. He shouldn't be thinking about something like that; shouldn't be missing another woman because he was going to be marrying someone else within a month. But dammit, he couldn't help himself; there was just too much that he had left to remember whenever it came to Ino.

"Dammit... I wasn't supposed to miss you, Ino... I'm marrying Temari in less than thirty days!" Shikamaru slammed his fist against the carpeted floor below him as hard as he could, the cushioned surface softening the powerful blow as Shikamaru felt tears welling up in his eyes.

I told myself I won't miss you,
But I remembered...
What it feels like beside you.

Shikamaru and Ino were laying in his bed, the blonde's hair void of her usual ponytail for once. Her body was towering over Shikamaru's own, her hair cascading in his face as she straddled his hips. Throughout her golden locks, Shikamaru's dark brown eyes sought her own baby blue ones, and the moment they met, Ino dipped her head towards him for a tender kiss, the gesture driving him to wrap his arms around her back, pulling her even closer towards him. The sudden movement jerked her and she squeaked into the kiss, her body instantly relaxing against him immediately after as the two gently moved their lips against one another, a look of pure love clear in both of their eyes.

I really miss your hair in my face
And the way your innocence tastes...

Ino was laying on her bed, the covers long-since discarded at the foot of the bed. Tears were pouring from her eyes as she stared out her window at the endless rain. She had no right to be missing him right now, even though she truly was. She had been given two opportunities to have him, which she had given up without so much as a second thought and now, he had every right to move on with someone better than she was. Because she knew that she was a horrible person to deny him for such stupid excuses as she had, but what's been done cannot be erased now and she just had to accept the fact that he was marrying someone else now. He deserved better, and that's all she had to keep telling herself in order to keep from doing something irrational.

And I think you should know this,
You deserve much better than me.

Ino's eyes drifted around her almost bare bedroom, the only furniture being her bed, a dresser, and a small nightstand sitting off in the corner. She draped her legs over the bed as her eyes rested on the nightstand, her body numbly making its way across the room. Her eyes were transfixed on the small drawer, and as she pulled it open, it was filled almost to the rim with different papers, notes, and photographs. She slid her fingertips across some stray pieces of paper until she found what she had been searching for: a photograph that Chōji had taken of both herself and Shikamaru kissing. She instantly picked it up, remembering that Shikamaru had always wanted her to have a copy made of the image for himself to keep, but she never got around to actually doing it.

While lookin' through your old box of notes,
I found those pictures I took that you were lookin' for.

Ino dropped the picture back into the drawer before re-arranging the scraps of papers around as they had been before, the paper covering their faces. She slowly slid the drawer shut before making her way back towards her bed, her body falling onto it sluggishly as she stared up at the ceiling. Her face was tear stained and her eyes were puffy, but at least she had finally stopped crying. Turning her head towards the window, her blue eyes began to scan across the rain-hazed buildings on the other end of the street, her eyes stopping on a particular clothing boutique as Ino closed her eyes.

"Shikamaru!" Ino squeaked softly, her voice almost a whisper.

She felt her body being guided into a dressing room as she watched him lock the door behind them, his gaze instantly falling on her body. Immediately, his face was covered in a devilish grin as he stalked towards her in two short strides, her body instinctively pressing up against the back wall of the dressing room.

"What are you doing?" she whispered sharply, worried that they were going to get kicked out of the store for causing mischief.

She felt his body press up against hers, his mouth covering her own in silence as he immediately hoisted her thighs up around his hips, her purple shinobi skirt bunching up around her hips as she grabbed a hold of his shoulders for dear life. After several moments, she broke the kiss to glare at him, her arms still wrapped around his neck as he pinned her against the wall.

"And just what do you think your doing, Shikamaru?" she hissed at him, his eyes sparkling at her in amusement as a smaller yet still devilish smile once again met his features.

"You," he whispered in response before covering her mouth once again, this time, his movements more frantic.

If there's one memory I don't wanna lose:
That time at the mall,
You and me in the dressing room.

Ino blanched at the memory, the stress of her thoughts making her heart wretch into her stomach as she remembered everything good she once had with Shikamaru. She stared at her hands as they clenched tightly into fists, the same mantra repeating itself over and over in her head as she tried to keep it together, though tears once again brimmed the corners of her eyes.

'He can do better than me.'

She was feeling that familiar dizzy feeling again as she continued working herself up, the memories shared between herself and Shikamaru becoming too much for her to handle. She clutched the sides of her head with her hands, feeling a migraine coming on from it all as she closed her eyes tightly. She willed the fresh set of tears not to fall from her eyelids, and grimaced as she felt the salty stream reach her chin before dropping into her lap. The moment her eyes closed, she seen his face again.

They were supposed to be cloud watching, or at least, that's what they had originally intended to be doing. This was their usual cloud watching day anyhow, but apparently, Shikamaru had other plans as he towered over Ino with his arms resting at either side of her face, his eyes staring intently at her face though he didn't say a word to her. Ino chuckled at him as she reached her had up to the tie holding his hair up, her finger nails locking around the band before pulling it out. She watched with much glee as Shikamaru's long brown hair pooled around her face and he grunted at her in annoyance.

"Troublesome woman..." he murmured before leaning his head towards hers and capturing her lips in a passionate kiss. Her fingers immediately entwined themselves in his long brown hair, pulling him even closer towards her as she deepened this kiss.

I really miss your hair in my face,
And the way your innocence tastes.
And I think you should know this.
You deserve much better than me.

Not for the first time tonight, Ino was filled with regret. She regretted everything that she had done over the past few years—turning his marriage proposals down, supporting his decision to start dating Temari, losing her composure when he told her about his engagement. She realized in this very moment that it was all a mistake because she was madly in love with Shikamaru, and now there wasn't a damn thing that she could do about it. Her entire body felt deathly cold as she laid back on her empty bed, her eyes staring lifelessly at the ceiling once again.

The bed I'm lying in is getting colder.
Wish I never would've said it's over,
And I can't pretend...

Shikamaru stared out of his window, thoughts of Ino having plagued his mind the entire night, and it left him second guessing his idea to marry Temari. He'd be a liar if he said that he wasn't thinking of battling the current wind/rain storm outside just to see her, just to talk to her about all of this, but he feared another rejection along with the possibility of ruining his relationship with the Sand kunoichi, especially if he would be doing that in vain over a woman who didn't love him anymore – even though he still loved her with all of his being.

Could he be happy with Temari though? He was starting to question that a lot as of lately, even before he told Ino and Chōji about his engagement. To be quite honest, he wasn't sure if he could be happy with the other blonde kunoichi, his heart being so far lost to his first and true love, Ino Yamanaka.

His knee visibly twitched with the urge to continue walking forward, his instincts driving him to go outside in this hellish weather just to see Ino again. Even if it's just one last time, he needed to make some sort of closure with her, or this marriage wasn't going to happen at all—he'd go insane first. Grabbing a poncho from a nearby coat rack, Shikamaru let out a long sigh before throwing the plastic material over his head.

I wont think about you when I'm older,
Cause we never really had our closure.
This can't be the end...

Ino's eyes shot open as she heard a loud and frantic pounding coming from the direction of her living room door, and she immediately draped her legs over the side of her bed as her bare feet began padding their way quickly to the source of the noise.

'Who the hell would be stupid enough to be out in this weather right now?'

She thought in horror, as she sluggishly made her way towards the front door of her apartment. She knew she looked like hell right now from crying—her eyes felt puffy and she could still feel the drying tear tracks on her cheeks—but she hoped that whoever is at her house right now wouldn't notice due to the darkness of the room around them. She finally reached the door and swung it open quickly, her breath leaving her the moment she laid eyes on the soaked man before her.

There, in all his glory, was a distraught (and extremely drenched) Shikamaru, a look in his eyes that Ino couldn't quite identify with. He looked angry, but for some reason, she doubted that he was actually angry. Her eyes were wide as she stared at him, too speechless to bother inviting him inside. Shikamaru took a step towards her after a long pause and instinctively, her body stepped backwards to give him room to enter the apartment. He shut the door behind him and he pulled the soaked poncho off, discarding the plastic material to the floor without a word.

Aside from his hair and shoes, Shikamaru was otherwise dry all over thanks to the plastic material, and once it was discarded, their eyes met again. Ino bit her bottom lip in confusion and nervousness, her eyes frantically searching him for a sign that he was really there, and it wasn't all her imagination. She softly uttered his name, breaking the silence and invoking a reaction of sorts out of him.

"Sh-Shikamaru..." she whispered and the young man immediately shoved her up against a nearby wall, his arms pinning her in place just above her head. This was a position the two shinobi were all too familiar with, but this time, things were different—so much different.

'Because he's getting married...'

Ino reminded herself as she pressed her hands up against his chest in attempts at distancing them. Shikamaru frowned and held himself in place against her as he finally spoke.

"I just have to know something, Ino..." he said softly enough for her to hear him, a loud noise of thunder being heard immediately after. The blonde woman looked up into his eyes realizing that resistance was pointless. Shikamaru took a deep breath before continuing.

"Would you have married me now, had all of this not happened?" Ino's eyes widened in shock before she let out a shaky breath, her head lowering slightly in shame as she nodded her head once in confirmation. As she began to speak, her voice was practically a whisper, but he heard every word she said.

"But you're engaged now, so it doesn't matter." Shikamaru's body went rigid at her words before his gaze softened upon her, one of his hands lowering to her chin as he tilted it to meet her face to face. The feeling of his hand touching her face made Ino's eyes open once again, her eyes widening as he tilted her chin up.

"I don't have to be... Not to her at least... Will you marry me, Ino?" she felt as if her heart stopped, and she was immediately wracked with guilt. She had denied him so many times before and from what she could tell, Temari truly did make him happy. It almost drove her to turn him down once again just so he could be happy with the other woman, but currently, her heart was winning that battle and she just couldn't bring herself to turn him down. So she remained quiet, her eyes looking at him questioningly. As he stared at her, he realized one thing...

"I really missed you, Ino..."

I really miss your hair in my face
And the way your innocence tastes
And I think you should know this,
You deserve much better than me.

I really miss your hair in my face,
And the way your innocence tastes.
And I think you should know this,
You deserve much better than me...

Ino stared up at Shikamaru, her eyes wide at his words as she smiled slightly at him.

"I missed you too..."

And I think you should know this,
You deserve much better than me.
And I think you should know this,
You deserve much better than me...

And I think you should know this,
You deserve much better than me.
And I think you should know this...

"Ino, will you marry me? For real this time..." he asked, his voice betraying the panic he was currently feeling in his heart that she'd say no again. Ino looked at Shikamaru with tears in her eyes before nodding her head at him, his body froze for a moment in shock.

"Yes...I should have told you that a long time ago, but yes..." she whispered, her eyes closing as tears poured down her cheeks. Shikamaru's lips crushed against her own instantly, their bodies responding in a rhythm both were long-since used to by now, as their lips glided against one another's, slowly and roughly. And for the first time in both of their lives, everything would start to go right. Because when two people are meant to be, everything will somehow end up falling into place.

And just like the clouds, they were one.

-The End.

A/N: Okay, 15 pages worth of story, not bad :D I've been wanting to use this song for a fic for awhile now. I was originally gonna use another song for this story, but this one ended up seeming more appropriate for the plot I was going with. I hope you guys liked it :) R&R?