I finally got a break from school to finish this.

Last installment of the three-shot, by the way.

Thanks to all for the lovely responses. I was definitely not expecting as much feedback as I got for this piece. Thank you very much; it's greatly appreciated.

Disclaimer: M. Kishimoto owns all characters and places. I am the writer of the words.


The Nara complex wasn't too far out from the heart of the village.

Ino ran barefoot through the streets and on rooftops, adrenaline pumping in her veins.

True to the Nara's lazy nature, they lacked adequate security that most clans—like the Hyuga—had. Ino was grateful for this tonight.

She crept past the many wooden buildings and to the building where Shikamaru and his family stayed.

Ino considered her options. Shikamaru slept on the second floor of the house, and he had no balcony. A tree stood fairly close, Ino studied it.

If she leveled herself to the end of an outreaching branch, she could probably get to where she could open the window.

Ino knotted her comforter around her waist and started climbing.

The bark scraped the bottom of her feet, but Ino didn't mind. She scrambled up to the tree branch and swung herself up to sit.

Slowly, Ino stood and began her journey to the end of the branch. It creaked slightly under her weight, so Ino hurried to the end before it could break beneath her.

Ino reached out and tried the window. It was locked.

Damn, she thought.

Just as Ino began to contemplate breaking into the house and getting in that way, the window popped open.

Ino took the chance and scrambled inside.

Shikamaru was wide awake, and standing in front of her.

"What the hell are you doing?" he asked softly.

Ino didn't answer at first as she stood, rearranging her comforter around her. She had neglected to notice that she wore only her underwear and a camisole.

Through the dim light, Ino saw that her punch had left a mark—Shikamaru's jaw was bruised.

"I couldn't sleep," she answered finally.

Shikamaru walked over to his bed, sighing. Ino went to him, praying he wouldn't reject her.

Shikamaru was spread out on his back, his eyes closed. Slowly, Ino sat on the bed and slid over his legs, straddling him.

"What the hell are you doing, Ino?" Shikamaru asked, his voice barely audible.

"Why did you kiss me the other day?" she implored.

Shikamaru took his time to answer, staring up at her with an unusually guarded expression.

"As I recall, you asked me to," Shikamaru replied. "Why did you slug me at dinner?"

Ino frowned. She didn't want to talk about it, but Shikamaru deserved an answer.

"I only get to say no on certain occasions," she responded crisply.

Shikamaru drank openly of the emotion she was conveying in her eyes.

"Ino. I'm not an idiot. I see what these missions do to you."

Ino closed her eyes briefly, wondering why she felt so impatient.

"You can't do everything, idiot. You can't be everything to everyone."

Ino smiled joylessly.

"Doesn't mean I can't try," she retorted. Her impatience resurfaced. "I don't want to talk about this anymore."

"Fine, why did you ask me to kiss you yesterday?" Shikamaru inquired.

Ino leaned forward, pinning down his shoulders. Her comforter slipped from her shoulders to reveal her lack of clothing.

"I thought you had left the shop already," Ino said casually.

Shikamaru shrugged slightly.

"I know you enjoyed it," muttered Shikamaru.

Ino rolled her eyes.

"Don't flatter yourself," she scoffed, her cheeks flooding with color.

Shikamaru waited.

Ino tentatively pressed her lips to Shikamaru's neck, feeling the rhythmic beat of his heart.

"Ino."

Ino paused and Shikamaru maneuvered her onto her back.

She looked up at him, inquisitive. He pressed himself down onto her, leaving a string of warm kisses along her jaw.

"What do you want from me?" Shikamaru muttered in a low voice.

Ino shook her head and wrapped her arms around his neck, kissing him.

"What are you willing to give?" Ino retorted, coming up for air.

Shikamaru raised his head, and stared at her, eyes hooded.

"I'm not sleeping with you," he replied firmly.

He rolled off Ino without pause and onto his stomach, his face turned away from her.

Ino stared up at the ceiling, eyes narrowed in confusion.

Ino hated being confused. She was always in the know.

Ino sat up straight, suddenly furious.

She grabbed Shikamaru's shoulder and forcibly made him face her.

"Is that how this is?" she exclaimed shrilly. "Are you going to kiss me and flirt like all of those other boys and then throw me away like some piece of trash when you're done?"

Shikamaru clamped a hand over Ino's mouth, expression serious.

"Idiot, are you crazy? You'll wake up my mom." Shikamaru deflated and let his hand fall. He considered Ino for a moment, countenance unreadable.

"I'm not like those other guys you've been with," he said quietly. "I respect you enough to tell you no."

Ino rolled her eyes at this, but his words stuck and made her heart quicken its pace.

"But I want to," she said, trailing her fingers across his chest. It turned her on to feel the muscles beneath his t-shirt.

Shikamaru sighed, his brown eyes fixed on her blue ones.

"Do you want to because you're angry about the missions or because you like me?"

Ino bit her lip and broke the gaze.

"Both," she answered.

Shikamaru chuckled.

"That's not good enough, Ino."

Ino's face fell.

"It's not that I don't like you, Shikamaru."

Shikamaru reached a hand up and tangled it in her hair. He persuaded her head down so he could kiss her.

This kiss felt different than the others. The others had been about passion and desire. This one was about need.

Shikamaru ran his free hand over every inch of Ino's body that was accessible, only showing the slightest hesitation at her breasts and bottom.

Ino pressed herself closer to him. She wanted him more than anything else.

"Please," she whispered to him, pleading.

Shikamaru did not answer for a long time, stealing as much skin as he could get away with.

He finally fell back against the mattress, eyes full.

"Not tonight, Ino."

Though disappointed, Ino caught the hint of a promise in his words.

"Okay," she mumbled, grabbing her comforter to leave.

Shikamaru watched as she secured it around her tightly.

"Hey, Ino."

Ino looked at him, wondering if he had changed his mind.

"Talk to Tsunade in the morning about your mission schedule. Or I'll do it for you."

Ino recognized a warning when she heard one.

She nodded and left a lingering kiss on his mouth before she disappeared out his window.

-o-

"Enter," called Tsunade.

Ino did so with slight trepidation. Lady Tsunade rarely made her nervous, but on several occasions, namely when Ino was requesting something, the woman could be downright scary.

Tsunade nodded to her, sitting back in her chair as Ino came closer.

"I hear your mission went well," complimented the leader. "Well done."

"Thank you, Tsunade-sama." Ino stopped, not sure where to begin.

"What do you need?" Tsunade prompted.

Ino glanced at her feet and sucked up her courage.

"I came to ask that you would lessen the amount of—pleasure missions you send me on. I'm fielding practically all of them lately, and even though I'm good at them, I just—"

"It's taking a toll on you?" Tsunade offered flatly.

Ino nodded.

Tsunade heaved a big sigh.

"It's common, what you're going through. Too many pleasure missions can do damage on a girl's psyche, not to mention her body. I was lucky on that front. I was a medical ninja, so I was used for missions that required my expertise.

"You're a capable kunoichi, Ino. The trio of Yamanaka, Akimichi, and Nara always are talented ninjas. I wasn't giving you the pleasure missions to be cruel or to exploit you. You're one of the best kunoichi I have in that area. It takes a special person to endure that kind of mission."

Tsunade glanced out the window for a moment.

"For as long as you're an active ninja, I'm going to use you for these kinds of missions. But I'll space them out more infrequently, if that's what you wish."

Ino didn't understand what seemed to be disappointment in Tsunade's words.

"Have I disappointed you, Tsunade-sama?"

Tsunade looked up at Ino.

"Ino, I just don't want you to waste the talent you have, that's all. I understand this is a demanding job, but you're good at it. It takes a strong kunoichi to endure such a task."

"What are you saying?" the blonde asked.

Tsunade shook her head.

"Nothing, Ino. I understand that these missions have been taking a toll on you. Now I know your limit."

Ino nodded, still feeling slightly downcast.

"Ino, don't think that I'm angry with you. You're not showing weakness; you're taking proper care of yourself, and that's just as important as completing missions. No hard feelings, really."

Ino inclined her head, feeling better.

"Thank you," she said to the Hokage, grateful.

Tsunade waved her out, already focusing on something else.

-o-

Ino spent the majority of her afternoon in her parent's flower shop. Shikamaru walked in just as evening was setting in.

"Hey," Ino greeted somewhat shyly.

"Hey. Did you go see Tsunade?"

Ino nodded, locking the register.

"What did she say?"

"It was kind of a weird conversation, actually. She said she understood, but she seemed disappointed."

Shikamaru leaned against the counter, pensive.

"Anyway," Ino continued, "she's going to spread out those missions for me."

Shikamaru glanced at her.

"Are you happy?"

Ino thought about it.

"I'm relieved," she decided.

Shikamaru seemed satisfied with this response, since he started walking towards the front door.

"You hungry?" he questioned.

"Sure," Ino ceded.

She followed him out and locked the shop door.

Before they started walking, Ino planted a quick peck on Shikamaru's cheek.

"Thanks," she said softly.

Shikamaru stayed rooted in his spot, watching as Ino sauntered on ahead of him.

He smirked and started walking to catch up with her.


The end.