True to a "princess', the wedding was a mix of Old World ceremony and Western pageantry. True to Choji, it was being held in a very old Tea House that had survived the Pein attack and the last war.
When Ino arrived, she was surprised at how many people had shown up for the wedding.
The number of wedding guests milling about outside made Ino's covert operation that much more easily executed. She arrived at the entrance with nary a look in her direction.
It was a little odd to her, being ignored by everyone. She just wasn't used to a lack of attention. Ino filed this feeling in the back of her head for future use in intelligence gathering. Today was as good a day as any to get used to not being noticed.
The Tea House was absolutely beautiful; old wood, polished daily so that each sunbeam sparkled off the rich wood, bamboo and well cultivated evergreens surrounding the mahogany fencing and slate shingled roof, paper insets with inked floral designs placed into the sliding doors. Ino sighed, she should have been getting married here, but, she had been so foolish, and now she was making sure someone else wasn't getting married here today.
She milled about with the crowd, noticing that, though they were checking invitations at the door, they weren't being very diligent or careful about it, and looked for a larger party to sneak in with. Ino had heard from Shikamaru that Choji had placed her on the guest list, and that his bride had promptly removed her. This bothered Ino at first, she wondered why Shikamaru would so easily offer up that tidbit, and why would 'the princess' be so quick to remove Choji's life long teammate? It gave her hope though, to know that somehow she was a threat to Gaki.
It wasn't long until she spotted a large group of Akimichis, large in more ways than one, they would make a good cover. As they were heading inside, she carefully inserted herself in the group and walked right into the tea house without a hitch. 'This really is far too easy', Ino thought.
She entered into a foyer, lined with a wall of cubbies, wherein everyone was stopping to remove their shoes and put on the slippers provided. Each cubby was named and numbered for the ease of the wedding guests. Ino spotted a pair that looked like it might fit her, so she took them, but didn't put her shoes in the cubby, instead, dumping them into a large plant in the corner. If there were any questions, it would look like an error on the guest service's behalf, and not on someone crashing the party.
Soon, a petite girl, dressed in peach frills, came running down the hall from the right. She had her arm thrown over her face, but it did little to suppress the tears that were spilling from her eyes. A shrill voice echoed down the hall after her, "And I hope you NEVER get marRIED! BECAUSE you've ruined MY WEDDING!". It appeared that Gaki was the cause of the tears, and Ino's curiosity was peaked as to the cause of the screaming.
As the crowd parted to let the crying girl through, Ino snaked her way around it, and followed the girl into the bathroom. She found her leaning over the sink, crying into it, while her make up ran down her face.
"She..she..stttupid…GAKI!" The girl hit the sink in anger. Ino put her best concerned look and asked the girl what was wrong.
"I.*hiccup*..I th-thought I got Champagne colored sh..shooess….." Here she started crying again. Ino patted her back, placating her with 'there theres'. "Wh-when she opened the box…I thought they looked Champagne…She swears they're pale yellow…which…which…doesn't belong in her..COLOR SCHEME!" the girl began to sob harder.
Ino rolled her eyes at this ridiculous drama. Even if she wasn't irrevocably in love with Choji, even if she had just been here as a guest, if she had witnessed this, she would still be trying to stop his marriage. There's no way someone as wonderful as Choji should have to spend his life married to someone like his fiancée.
Ino handed the girl tissues and helped her clean up a little.
"You going to be okay?"
"Yeah. She's my cousin, so I've got to perform today. After that, I'm free from her."
"That's the way. Have a lovely day."
Ino left the bathroom as quietly as she came in and began to make her way back down the hall, aiming to spy on the 'lovely bride to be'.
The crowd was starting to thin out as more people moved into the main ceremony room. Ino pushed herself a little more along the wall, running her fingers along the smooth wood and paper of the hallway, attempting to look like someone who was deeply interested in historical architecture. She could hear muffled sounds, like that of a parent soothing their out of control child. At the end of the hallway a door was cracked open, letting a wedge of light into the dim area around Ino.
She peeked in. There was Gaki surrounded by her attendees and who Ino assumed was her mother. The older woman was petting her hand and giving there, there's, while the younger women were repeatedly assuring Gaki that she was the most beautiful bride ever, that her shoes won't be seen and that they'll have different ones for her by the reception.
Ino may have been biased in her opinion, but she did not think Gaki even one of the more presentable brides she's ever seen. The woman was sitting there, completely surrounded by frills, lace, rhinestones, fake flowers, bows, etc. Literally every embellishment a wedding dress could have. She looked like an out of control confection, but maybe Choji would have liked that bit of it. Her hair was big, really big, and stiff. She had one of those huge, poofy, veils with bits of pearls and leaves hanging off the sides. And her makeup!, It looked like a peacock had nested on her eyes. Her eyes were angry and her mouth in a permanent pout.
Ino grimaced, remembering one of her lies to acquire info about Gaki, and could now see why Sakura didn't believe her. Next time she would make sure she knew more about the other person's appearance before she used a story like that again.
Suddenly the bride looked right at Ino. Ino started, afraid she had been caught, but then Gaki asked, "Did you bring the shoes?"
"UHHH, you know, THE SHOES!, I sent someone out to buy them a few minutes ago, if you're not here to deliver them, then why the *bleep* are you standing there like some idiot who's never seen a beautiful woman before!?"
"Uh, yeah, um…I was…looking for…the bathroom?", Ino was a little embarrassed to be caught so easily, and to have come up with such a ridiculous excuse, but Gaki seemed to buy it.
"Geez! Someone get this dummy out of here!" Gaki pointed at Ino. Ino waved her hands in front of herself, "No, it's okay, I'll find it…Probably where that crying girl was headed earlier." Gaki's head snapped up and she glared at Ino. Ino straightened her shoulders and glared right back. "Have a lovely wedding." With a quick turn, Ino removed herself from the doorway and toward the ceremony hall.
By the time she was back in the main hall, it had completely cleared out, except for a few stragglers. Ino didn't want to be sat by the ushers and didn't really want to be seen going in at all. She peeked her head into the sanctuary area, ready to claim that she wasn't ready to be sat. Instead, the ushers were seating others, and no one was looking at the side entrance she came through.
It was a perfect set up for her plan. The entire back of the room was draped in long velvet curtains that she could hide in easily. Each curtain had thick gold roping for tying them back if they wanted them out of the way. The chairs were set up on the left and right with an aisle down the middle. The right of the sanctuary was obviously the groom's side, because Ino recognized the back of every head in there. Scanning quickly, Ino found the head she was looking for. Near the front, toward the isle, was Shikamaru, sitting right next to Temari. That might be a problem for Ino's plan, but there was no going back. She was a little miffed that Temari was allow to come, and not her, but she supposed having the Kazekage's sister at one's wedding was a pretty sweet deal.
Ino slowly edge her way into the mass of curtains. They must have been installed specifically for the wedding because they matched nothing else about the Tea House. They were very velvet, and very orange, and very pretty actually. She found a split in the curtains that gave her a good view of the stage and Shikamaru, just in time too, because Choji and the officiator came on stage and the music started.
The wedding party made their way down the isle, two by two. Men in peach colored haori and girls in frilly, frilly orange and yellow dresses made there way to the front. The music changed and everyone stood up and looked down the aisle. Choji looked nervous and unhappy, but he smiled and looked down the aisle none the less.
Ino's heart began to speed up, she sent out little bursts of chakra to make sure no sensing was going on. All seemed well, so she quit suppressing it. The bride began her trek down the aisle, her dress causing Ino to have to suppress a laugh. The white monstrosity could barely fit down the aisle, each bow and fake flower being mashed into the sides of the chairs as she advanced. Her nose was in the air and she gave off an air of superiority to everyone in the room. Ino saw her glance up at Choji and grimace a little. 'No way. Unuh.' Ino thought.
With each step the bride took to the front, Ino became increasingly nervous. This had to work. She reached for the gold ropes hanging on the curtains on either side of her, anchoring her arms through them, making sure they held her up without support from her legs.
The officiator began his wedding proceedings, he talked about what marriage was supposed to be, how life should be for two people, what a wife and a husband can and should be to one another. Then it was almost time. Ino had to time this just right, she had a brief window to execute her plan in. She took a deep breath, made the hand signs, then a triangle, and aimed.
Everything was black for a second, then her awareness returned to her, she adjusted to the change in view. Temari was on the right of her and instantly let go of her hand. She leaned over and whispered, "This better not take long Ino, I would like my boyfriend back soon." Then Temari smiled a wicked little smile at Ino, in Shikamaru's body. Shikamaru must have known what Ino was planning because he wasn't fighting her presence in his psyche at all. Either that, or he was really that lazy.
"If anyone has any reason why these two shouldn't be married today, speak now or forever hold your peace." This was it, this was go time. Ino stood up and yelled, "I have a reason!" The officiator said, "Go on man." Ino looked right at Choji and said, "He can't marry her today, because…I love you Choji, and I know you love me. I want to marry you now. I'm sorry I ever said no. Forgive me!" Everyone breathed in with shock. Kiba and Naruto gave each other knowing looks, and Shikamaru's mom hid her face with embarrassment. Choji beamed, "I love you too! I always have!" He laughed and laughed. "Meet me at the back door Choji, let's get out of here!" Shikamaru dropped, Choji ran off the stage toward the back of the tea house, seconds later a mousy, brown haired woman came out of the curtains and began running to the front of the tea house. The attendees were murmuring, Temari was laughing hysterically, Shikamaru was bright red and attempting to prove he hadn't confessed to Choji by trying to kiss Temari. Naruto and Kiba were exchanging money over various bets won and lost, and the brown haired girl tore her wig off and threw her glasses as she reached the front. Turning around to face everyone Ino hollered, "See you in a few weeks when Choji and I get back from our honeymoon!"
At the back door stood Choji, in everyday clothes, smiling ear to ear. Ino had never seen a more perfect sight in her life. She threw herself in his arms. Choji swung her around, then hand in hand they walked off to the Hokage's office, hoping to be married by sun down.
AN: 1. Thank you all who reviewed this story. I'm sorry it took me so long to finish. There will be a short epilogue…someday.
2. I laughed a lot and continue to laugh whenever I think of the whole wedding party staring at Shikamaru 'confessing' to Choji.
3. Thanks again. :-)