Note: POV is rather fluid here, shifting from one character to another without much warning, but I think it makes sense. If it doesn't, please comment and I will adjust the writing.

Disclaimer: Neither the characters nor the artwork are mine. This is purely a fan work and I am making no money off of the use of any material.

Image to be found here:

nooneym. deviantart. (com/) art/ Break-in-the-monotony-179642079

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: Story Two

Break in the Monotony

Naruto was bored.

Really fucking bored.

Shikamaru was supposed to be going to the festival with him.

It was the first festival since reconstruction of the village was completed.

The war was over, Akatsuki was no more, their home was once again in one piece, and for the first time in anyone's memory there was no immediate threat hanging over the heads of the shinobi of Konoha. The alliance between the five great nations still stood.

Heck, The Kazekage and Mizukage were both in the village to celebrate the Fire Festival with their friends and allies!

But Naruto was sitting against a wall, in the offices for the Hokage, pouting and drumming his fingers on his knee.

"You pouting does nothing to hurry me up." A calm, slightly husky voice floated over to Naruto.

If anything, the pout intensified. "Are you done yet?" He whined, watching the figure across the room closely.

Shikamaru sighed, reflexively tightening his hair band as a manner of maintaining composure; he seemed to do that a lot lately.

The pair had gotten together not long after the end of the Fourth Great Ninja War. The pairing confused pretty much the entire village and utterly flummoxed Shikamaru's mother. On the one hand, her son was dating a village hero and an incredibly sweet person. On the other, her son was dating a boy. And two boys meant no grandchildren. Shikamaru was a clan heir, though he was currently sharing head duties with an Uncle while he was getting his feet wet with becoming what was essentially the head strategist for the village (and often times called upon to consult by other villages). Part of his duty was to provide an heir for the clan...a problem that had yet to be sorted out to her satisfaction. But to see that easy smile on her son's face. The carefree happiness, not tinged with the most remote big of sadness that she had seen ever since the attack on the village that took the life of the Third Hokage that had lifted a weight off of his shoulders that had been there for so long that to see it gone send off shivers down her spine. But there is was. Her son laughing unguardedly, smiling when no one was looking. They would work things out.

Meanwhile, back at the office, Shikamaru picked up yet another scroll and started to sort through the information. The villages were starting to coordinate educational techniques, occasionally sharing teachers between villages to teach upper level techniques to graduating students. It was not uncommon though to see active duty ninja at these special lectures, picking up tricks of their element that they had never learned the secret too. The scroll before him was offering up certain ninja to come and lecture and requesting specific ninja from their village.

Many a request had come in for Naruto himself to make an appearance. Surprisingly enough though, Naruto decline the offers, saying that he wasn't a good teacher yet. Konohamaru and him and similar temperaments, and that was one on one, but he didn't think he could be anywhere near remotely effective in front of a classroom. At least not yet.

Shikamaru had whole heartedly agreed with the reasoning and sent along the reply, adding that Naruto wouldn't mind seeing any ninja that they sent to the village to which Naruto readily agreed. He could probably pick up a few new moves himself one-on-one with a fellow ninja.

Naruto sighed heavily, "So how much longer do you think you'll be?"

Shikamaru looked up at his despondent boyfriend. "An hour and a half at least." He said finally. "You should go down to the festival, enjoy it yourself!" He pointed out signing off on some revisions to a security plan, rolling up the scroll and sealing it. It was quickly placed in the done pile and another was taken from the to-do pile. Shikamaru noticed his own hastiness, and mentally marked how unusual it was for him, but after hearing the small groan from his partner, he realized it wasn't so unusual anymore.

Naruto mumbled something and lightly thunked his head against the wall.

Shikamaru was already skimming through the next scroll and didn't look up. "What was that?"

Naruto pealed open his eyes and glanced through the window at the glowing streets below. "I said there isn't much point in going alone."

Shikamaru snorted, "The whole village is out there. Besides, I'm sure anyone out there would want to join the Hero."

It was a running joke with them, remarking on Naruto as The Hero, as the young man had played the role so many times. But this time the upturn of lips wasn't mirthful, but rather rueful.

Shikamaru put down the scroll he was gazing at and took in Naruto. Why would the impatient young man be waiting up here? Why not go down and enjoy the festival? Naruto had been going on about this for weeks now. So why hesitate...?

Suddenly it hit him, "Naruto, have you ever gone to any of the festivals before?" He kept his tone light and went back to his scrolls, making sure that he wasn't watching Naruto so as to add any pressure.

"I went once as a kid...when I was four or five...snuck out of the orphanage. It was right before they moved me out to my apartment..."

"Did something happen?" He marked a few places for revision on this scroll and set it in yet another stacked pile to be sent back to its writer, grabbing up another scroll to be reviewed.

There was a hallow laugh. "Yeah. It was made very evident that I was not welcome. Every festival after that the Old Man used to come round and bring dinner to my apartment after he'd done his duty opening the festival."

Once again, Shikamaru felt that tug somewhere deep inside anytime Naruto's childhood was brought up. He wished that he had been more proactive with his friendship with the blonde. He knew that he had been far kinder to the boy than most, he was lucky that his parents had nothing against him playing with Naruto. He had done all that he as a child could have done. And maybe it was enough, because Naruto was good now.

He still wished that he had done more though.

"And you weren't really around much after the Third..."

"Yup, off on missions, training with Jiraiya, I was a busy boy huh?" Naruto plastered that smile on his face. The one that Shikamaru loathed, because it tugged just too high, and just too wide, spreading the lips just too thin. It was the same big smile that had filled Naruto's face for the majority of his childhood that all of them had thought was normal. The smile that he tosses to the world as a shield, making them think that he is alright when he is often anything but. The one that filled his face as they started off on that mission, all those years ago, when they set out to try and retrieve Sasuke on Shikamaru's first mission as a Chuunin. The smile that Shikamaru never wanted to see again.

"You know what...?" He started, pulling the scroll closer and trying to decipher the horrid handwriting of whoever had written it. "I could use a little break...we could go down for an hour or so, walk around a bit, but I'll have to come back up and work again."

A furious flush had taken over his face, so he moved to hide his face further, missing the brightening of Naruto's eyes and shift of that smile into a real smile.

Next thing he knew there was a Naruto on either side, laying a sweet kiss against each of his fevered cheeks.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you!" He whispered, laying a few more kisses in between.

With a 'poof' the clone was gone and Naruto was tugging the dark-haired man to his feet, "Let's go! Let's go!"

Shikamaru could only chuckle, a small smile gracing his face being tugged down the stairs and into the street. He watched the joy of Naruto, his eyes wide as though to take in everything in the streets, his hand casually resting against Shikamaru's wrist, while the strategist strolled with his hands in his pockets, occasionally being tugged to a stand to see something or find some kind of food to snack on.

They met up with a few friends in the streets, but were left mostly to their own devices, free to experience the festival the same as any other couple.

It was with a bit of regret a couple of hours later that Shikamaru announced that he had to go back and finish up his work. Rather than the whining begging for more time he had been expecting from his boyfriend, he was instead treated to a gentle smile and small tug that would pull the pair onto a side street that would lead back towards the Hokage building.

Naruto walked Shikamaru all the way up to his office and as Shikamaru settled amongst his stack of scrolls once more, Naruto settled himself back in his spot against the wall.

"You can go back to the festival, or home to sleep. You don't have to stay here." He pointed out, picking up the scroll that had been left in a heap on the floor when Naruto and he had existed earlier.

"I know." He said, "But I want to keep you company. You didn't have to go to the festival with me, but you choose to. So I choose to keep you company during your boring tasks."

Shikamaru fought valiantly against the blush and instead dove back into deciphering the scrolls. It wasn't long before even breathing and an occasional snore told him that his companion had fallen asleep.

It was in the early hours of the morning when Shikamaru finished up his paperwork, double-checked that everything was in the right pile and laid down next to Naruto on the floor, slipping into peaceful sleep himself.