Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or Naruto Shippuden.

A/N: Just a random drabble. My first Naruto ship; ShikaIno needs more love. Summary line is from the song Maria.


Chasing Clouds


Ino can't figure him out for the life of her.

One moment he's a sloth, indolent and listless, but toss him into the thick of battle and he's suddenly a genius commander that demands respect. Pressure forces his repressed responsibility out of him, she theorizes, but he much preferred living the life of a retired war veteran.

She can't figure out his hobby of watching clouds, either. Flat, boring, lethargic. Worst of all, she can't understand why Shikamaru would ever consider wanting to be a cloud. Aren't you just a puff of air in the sky? The sky is just an endless blue of nothing. Just one colour, one shade, so uniform with nothing jumping out at her. The clouds dawdle across a blue canvas with no aim, just drifting carelessly in one direction.

"This is boring," she scoffs, sitting up on blades of fresh grass.

Shikamaru, however, has his back glued to the field. Without batting an eye, he mumbles, "You're just restless."

Ino thinks his level of patience is extraordinary and that he's so unflappable it pisses her off. "And how can you not be?"

He shrugs, citing the obvious and well-known fact that watching clouds is a hobby of his.

Ino doesn't understand the beauty in watching clouds, and quite often, she can't figure out what Shikamaru's thinking, either. Clouds and Shikamaru are forever synonymous in her mind. Sometimes, the blonde-haired kunoichi thinks that he'll disappear like a cloud in the wind, carried off by a rumbling storm.

She thinks he's nuts; Shikamaru could be doing something else — something more exciting, more invigorating right now. No, scratch that. She could be doing something fun right now and leave him to watch his boring clouds in silence.

But she doesn't leave.

With a huff, she flops back down onto the grass opposite to Shikamaru. Something about him calling her restless clawed at her patience, her pride, and it's a verbal jousting match (a petty, one-sided one, mind you) that she doesn't want to lose.

She can only imagine the smirk on his face as he says, with just a tinge of condescending, victorious curiosity in his voice, "I thought you were leaving?"

Quippy.

"I changed my mind, okay?" she asserts, defensive.

"Heh."

She scrutinizes the stretch of blue above her. Well, certainly, the clouds were free like piles of amalgamated cotton and, admittedly, azure was a perfect backdrop for the white fluffy bundles. The sky doesn't move; it never does. It's stagnant but calming, and really, the cerulean expanse is rather breathtaking, pure blue as far as the eye can see.

"How much time do you spend doing this?"

"Hours," the boy simply states.

Ino thinks that, maybe, if she gazed at the clouds long enough, curiously enough, she'd be able to find the beauty in them like he does.

And perhaps she'll understand Shikamaru a little better, too.