Ino was at Shikamaru's house helping prepare for the surprise birthday party for both of their birthdays. She remembered that Shikamaru said that he wouldn't make it on his birthday but he said he would make it on her birthday.
"Well, everything seems ready, I'm going to check if he is home yet, Yoshino-san," Ino said to his mother who helped prepare for the party.
"Sure sweetie, I'll wait here for your friends for the party, he may not show it all of the time, but he does appreciate everything you do," she replied honestly.
"I know he does, which is why I want to tell him how I feel," Ino unknowingly replied out loud.
"Well, you better do it now or he'll never know, he is a brilliant young man and I love him but he can be a bit dense when it comes to romance; he's just like his father." Yoshino playfully replied to her ambition.
Ino blushed because her best friend's mother knew of her feelings and she didn't even directly tell her that she had feelings for her son. So she went towards the gate to see if he arrived home like he said he would.
"I hope that I can be clear with my feelings, it was awkward between us when I just kissed him when he woke up on the battlefield," she reflected.
Flashback (Ino's POV)
"I don't know if we can make it out of this," I thought as I was relaying Lord First's words; the shinobi weren't inspired but then suddenly I feel a rush memories that were not my own; they were Naruto's. I had no idea that he had such a bad childhood growing up, if I had known that, maybe I could have been a bit nicer to him earlier. I also saw Asuma-sensei's funeral through his eyes and he even though he had a rough time growing up, he was still willing to fight even if all hope seemed lost. So I saw him and Sasuke-k.., no Sasuke attack the tree as I tried to heal Shikamaru.
"Please Shika, I already lost a lot; our teacher and my father, and I can't lose you too." I said to him, I wanted to cry but I knew I couldn't cry now.
It was getting harder to hold them back, because I look down at him, so weak and exhausted that I couldn't take it anymore. I let a few tears drop, some had landed on his cheek, I couldn't help it; I was so scared that he might die if I couldn't heal him. But then I felt a hand caress my left cheek, wiping away my tears, I looked down and sure enough, Shikamaru was awake.
"Troublesome woman, you know I hate to see you cry," he said to me.
It was his way of trying to comfort me, but at the moment, I was so relieved and happy that he was awake that I grabbed his face and planted a kiss on his lips. I honestly didn't know what made me do it, but I didn't care; all that mattered was that he was alright and awake. I had to admit that I wondered what it would be like if I kissed him and to put it bluntly, it was intoxicating. He responded to me a little bit before I pulled away and wiped my eyes.
"Don't scare me like that again, Shika," I said to him in relief.
He smiled at me and said, "Sure, now let's finish this war."
So I watched as the battle was getting more intense and he was trying to think of a strategy.
End Flashback and POV
It was so awkward between the two of them that they never had a chance to talk about it since the Rookie 9 and Team Guy had been promoted to Jounin. She would work at the Intelligence Unit, taking her father's place and she also managed the flower shop herself since she owns it now.
"I admit that I had feelings for Shikamaru when we were kids but I tried to forget them when I was attracted to Sasuke, but that was all that was, an attraction." Ino thought to herself as she hid herself in the trees waiting to spot Shikamaru.
Ino had realized that the bond she shares with Shikamaru ran deeper than a platonic friendship or a brother-sister bond; she admitted to herself that she fell in love with the lazy Jounin years ago but hadn't comprehended it.
She then spotted him coming up the path towards the gate, he stopped for a minute and to her, he looked like he was contemplating something. Since she found him, she quickly went away from the area before he sensed her and went back to his house to wait for him.
When she got back, all of the guests that she had invited were there even Sasuke because she knew that Sakura dragged him to come but he didn't complain. Naruto and Hinata came together since they were dating since the war; to which she was happy for them. So she kept peeking out the window until she saw him come up the path to his house so she told everyone to get ready to surprise him.
When he came through the door, she and everyone else shouted, "Surprise!" She giggled as she saw the surprised look on his face. Then he went ahead and talked with the others, them saying to him, "Happy Birthday" and talked of recent missions. She slipped in the kitchen to maybe help Yoshino with the cake.
"Have you told him yet, dear?" Yoshino asked amusingly.
"No, I thought he would greet the others first, and then I'll talk to him," Ino told her.
Then she saw him come toward her and he asked her, "Hey Ino, did you help Choji with this?"
Ino blushed but she answered him, "Well, we celebrate our birthdays together and I knew you would get home today, so we planned it yesterday."
What came next, was not what she expected, he came closer to her and planted a kiss on her cheek and she heard him whisper, "Thanks, Ino."
Needless to say, she was bright red in the face and her heart was fluttering while Yoshino was smiling at her and when Ino looked back at her, Yoshino winked at her; which caused her to turn even redder.
But as the party went on, they had talked together and she was relieved that there wasn't any tension between them, almost like old times. Then when they finished and they blew out the candles on their cake, they ate some cake. Then they started opening their presents, well she was opening hers, Shikamaru was waiting for her to finish. Then he opened his and they both said their thanks to everyone.
"Maybe now I can talk with him," she thought.
So she approached him and asked him nervously, "Can we talk in your room?"
He had a confused look on his face but he answered, "Sure."
So they went up to his room and he opened the door for her to let her through first then she went to sit on top of his bed and he soon followed, sitting next to her. Then it was silent between them and she didn't know how to start.
Before she could get out a word Shikamaru asked, "What did you want to talk about?"
Ino was really nervous as she played with the present in her pocket and then she took it out and held it in her hand.
Trying to work through her nervousness, she started with, "Before I give you your present, I just wanted to tell you something that has been on my mind. In the war, I was really scared that you could have died that day. It may have been almost a year ago and now it is your birthday, which I thought you would never experience your eighteenth birthday. I'm relieved that you survived and now you are eighteen, I hope you can experience more birthdays with us, with me."
She waited for a response and what she got was one of his rare genuine smiles and he patted her on her shoulder.
He then said to her, "Don't worry Ino, I'm still here and I wouldn't leave you or anyone else. Thank you for telling me that."
Ino felt like a heavy weight had been lifted off her shoulders and heart and now she was a bit more like her confident self again, so she handed him her present.
With a smile she said to him, "Happy Birthday, Shika."
She watched as he carefully unwrapped the paper and opened the box, he had a look of surprise on his face and she was wondering if maybe he didn't like it.
"I hope you don't think that it's too girly or anything…I just," but she didn't get to finish her sentence because she felt his arms around her making her feel warm.
"I really like it Ino, thank you," Shikamaru told her honestly.
She was happy that he liked it and she stifled a giggle when she watched him try to clip it on himself.
"Need help?" Ino asked playfully as she saw him roll his eyes.
She clipped the necklace on into place around his neck and she liked how it looked on him, it suited him in her opinion.
"It looks nice on you, Shika," she voiced her opinion to him.
"Thanks and don't think I forgot you," Shikamaru replied to her and handed her present to her.
"Thanks, Shika!" she was happy that he didn't forget her but she knew he didn't forget.
She was excited so she just tore through the purple wrapping paper as she saw it and opened the box to reveal a heart shaped pendant with sapphires outlining it. She was nearly speechless, she never thought that he would ever give her a gift like this.
She then said breathlessly, "Shika, it's beautiful."
"Look on the other side, Ino," she heard him say as she admired it.
Curious, she flipped it over and gasped again when she read an engraving that said, "Ino, I love you".
She had to ask, "Shika? Is that true?"
She was so shocked yet so elated that he felt he same way as she heard his answer.
"Yes, I wanted to tell you that for a long time. I wanted to tell you after you kissed me in the battle but it never came up. I understand if you don't feel the same way, I just wanted to get it off my chest," he answered her question.
She was so happy that tears had started to fall and she wrapped her arms around him tightly, letting the tears flow to express how happy she was.
Shikamaru asked her, "Ino, why are you crying?"
"I'm crying because I'm happy that you love me, that's because I love you too," she exclaimed happily.
The she saw as he took her necklace and put it around her neck and smiled at her asking, "Will you be my girlfriend, Ino?"
She smiled up at him and replied, "Of course, Shika!"
She looked into his eyes and saw all of the emotions he was expressing as she felt him stroke her cheek and leaned down to meet her lips in a passionate kiss that made her shudder in pleasure. She would describe it as one explosion, making her heart swell with love and excitement. She traced her tongue on his lips to ask entry she was granted permission when she felt him smirk against her lips. Then they were clashing with their tongues and then she felt him bring her down on his bed, still kissing him, hungering for his taste. They parted and she looked in his eyes and saw the love in his eyes.
"Happy Birthday Ino, I love you," Shikamaru whispered to her after kissing her forehead.
She was so happy that he loves her and no words could describe the feelings she had right now. Then she felt that she wanted more of his love and to prove how much she loves him too. She went up a bit to his neck and kissed it, leaving many open-mouthed kisses on his neck. She smiled as she felt him shudder because of her kisses.
"Shika, do you know what else I want for my birthday?" she asked him.
She unzipped his flak jacket and felt his muscles on his chest admiring how he is had strong muscles.
"He is well-built, I have to say," Ino thought to herself.
Her answer was given in the form of a click of a lock, and a smirk on his face and then he came down on her and engaged her with a hungry kiss. Then she got what she wanted, what she always wanted and she could definitely say that this was her best birthday ever.
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