~Side Story – The Unsent Letter~

Temari-san,

After a considerable number of nights I've spent awake, staring up and my ceiling and pondering the question, "Do I love you?" I've come to the conclusion that yes, I do. Undoubtedly, in fact. I think my own stubbornness was the only factor that dragged out my arrival at the conclusion that you are the girl I want to marry. You're the strongest kunoichi I've come across in my long seventeen years, so strong in fact that you need no protecting. For all my life I thought that fact would drive me away from a woman. But something my father once said to me was hanging in the air the whole time I was contemplating my feelings for you. He sat me down, when I was twelve years old, after my mother had gotten in a serious fight with a woman from another clan. He looked me straight in the eyes and said, "Shikamaru…even the strongest, toughest woman will show her softest side to the man he loves. This is how you are with me. You can blow away even the strongest shinobi, laugh as he begs for death, and then turn to me and give me one of those smiles that always seem to say "Who, me?" I could look at that smile for the rest of my life. Aishiteru.

Shikamaru rolls up the scroll he'd written the confession on, and stuffs it under the floorboard of his room.