A slow time for missions does not mean a break for Shikamaru, nor does it mean he can avoid the boisterous blond who desperately wants to get out of Konoha.
Boom and bust. Boom and bust. It's how all of life flowed. The temperature rose, the temperature fell. The price for sake rose, the price fell. The number of missions rose, they fell.
Konoha was currently in a bust, at least for the number of missions. The price of sake was still too high for Shikamaru's taste but that didn't keep him from enjoying the bitter taste each free evening he had.
Unfortunately, even in a time of bust for missions the lazy nin could not avoid them altogether. Tsunade had requested him specifically to lead a mission the day after next. Sometimes he wondered if maybe it wouldn't have been better to just have pretended to be stupid. It would have saved him a lot of trouble.
With so many ninjas available, Tsunade had given him the parameters of the mission and then the freedom to choose whom he'd like to take based on his own judgment. Shikamaru had gone through every detail of the mission and several scenarios on how to approach it. Given that, he had chosen the appropriate nins. Neji, Shino, and Tenten had already agreed to join him. He had the option of taking one more but didn't necessarily need it. Given the particulars of the mission, the four of them would be more than suitable.
The setting sun was filtering into the small apartment of the lazy genius. Shikamaru sat against one of the walls, his small table in front of him, holding his sake. The scrolls for his upcoming mission were sitting, rolled up, on the other side of the table. He was perfectly set up to enjoy the evening in quiet, as he usually did. He forgot one thing, however.
Boom and bust. It's how all of life flowed. Sometimes a quiet evening at home could last for hours, days even. Sometimes an obnoxious blond came barreling through the door.
Shikamaru groaned. He gulped down his sake and then went to pour himself another small cup. He briefly contemplated chugging the entire bottle but thought better of it. He knew why Naruto was here and he quickly moved the scrolls off the table and tucked them between his body and the wall.
He grunted in response. Naruto sat down across from him. His hands were fisted against the table. Stormy blue eyes stared accursedly at him. "You bastard," he yelled. "How could you not think of including me on this mission?"
The lazy genius said nothing. Continuing to drink his sake, he tried to ignore the blond by concentrating on the lingering light outside. It didn't work.
"Answer me damn it! You gotta include me. You know I can do it."
Silence again answered the blond.
"Come on, missions are barely trickling in. I have to get out of here and do something. I'm going crazy."
"Aren't you training every day?" Shikamaru finally answered.
Naruto sat back against the cushions. His hands relaxed some but they still remained jittery on the tabletop. Shikamaru watched with interest as each of the tan fingers danced over the surface. It seemed the blond had had too much caffeine. But somehow, he doubted it.
"It's not the same. I really just want to get out and really kick someone's ass. You know? Training is all good but...it's not the same."
The other man snorted. He would never understand the boundless energy of the tanned blond. He sighed and tried to reason with Naruto. "It's not that kind of mission."
"What? All missions are like that. Except for D-level missions but they wouldn't assign one of those to you. And you wouldn't have chosen Neji or any of those others if it weren't a difficult mission. I'm not stupid Shikamaru."
He bit back a retort at the last comment. Instead he looked steadily into the blue eyes. "Naruto, this mission does require certain abilities. What do Neji, Shino, and Tenten have in common that would want me to include them specifically?"
The blond cocked his head to the side. His face scrunched up, azure eyes hidden mostly behind squinted lids. "Um," he began. "They all have dark hair."
Shikamaru rolled his eyes. "Try again, Naruto."
"Well Neji and Shino both come from important clans," he paused. "But Tenten doesn't, so that can't be it."
The other man poured himself another cup of sake. He looked critically at the bottle. With its particular size and the current rate Naruto was going, he would have to get up for another one within the next three and half minutes. Shikamaru sighed.
"Well Tenten and Neji were on the same genin team, but Shino was on Kiba's team. And Gai-sensei and Kurenai-sensei are nothing alike so that can't be it. Oh, none of them did well in our first Chuunin exam."
"Technically Shino didn't get a chance to participate before everything fell into chaos," Shikamaru pointed out.
The blond pouted and began to rack his brain again. His eyes darted about the apartment as if it would clue him in to some secret that he wasn't quite getting. The lazy nin stood from his spot. He needed more sake. He wasn't going to offer Naruto anything in fear he would stay longer. Later he would blame it on the sake consumption of why he didn't just tell the blond out front why he had chosen the other three.
"But," the blond paused as his eyes widened. "You're doing one of those, um, trick questions. It wasn't what they have in common but how they're different, right?"
Shikamaru entered the main room again and retook his place. He uncorked the bottle of sake and poured himself another small cup. He ignored the accusation of using a trick question but silently urged the other ninja to continue in his thoughts. Naruto was always the number one at surprising people, after all.
"Well Shino fights with his bugs as his primary weapon. Neji has his cool three sixty vision and Tenten is a master with weapons. Each has a very different special attack so all angles are covered."
He couldn't help being impressed with the deductive reasoning of the man in front of him. Shikamaru put down his cup and blinked a few times. He rubbed the heels of his hand against his eyes, trying to disperse the mirage sitting across from him. It didn't work. Naruto was really there.
He was really there and grinning ear to ear. "And that means," he said, excitement building. "That this mission must be really important and dangerous."
Shikamaru's shoulders slumped. He picked up his sake again.
Boom and bust. It's how all of life flowed. And Naruto...had just busted.
"Shika, man, you've gotta take me along. You can add another person, right? I mean, you need someone with lots of stamina, you don't have anyone like that yet."
"Kiba," he suggested.
Naruto screwed up his face. "Too similar to Shino. They both use animals in their fighting style. Not to mention he's no where near as strong as me."
Shikamaru conceded, he did have a slight point on the similarity to Shino. Though he questioned how much of Naruto's fighting style relied on the strength sealed within him.
"Kiba and Shino were on the same genin team. They have a long established sense of team between them. They work better together."
"So what," Naruto objected. "I've gone on plenty of missions with you and Neji. I haven't worked as much with Shino or Tenten but it can't be too hard. Tenten seems to be nice in a badass type of way and Shino seems to be similar to the other quiet types, except less of a bastard."
"Hinata is a quiet type, are calling her a bastard?"
Shikamaru could have hit himself for egging him on.
"Well no, but she is really weird."
"Weird how?" Shikamaru inquired.
He was already adding up how long this bottle would last him at the current rate. He was beginning to regret not grabbing more than one on his last trip to the kitchen.
"I don't know, she just acts weird. I mean, I know she's shy and all but," Naruto sighed. "I don't know. She's just weird."
Shikamaru snorted. "Did you ever think there was a reason behind her 'weirdness'?"
"She likes you."
Naruto's eyes widened. Tan cheeks flushed red and he looked outside. The sun had set fully since the blond had entered the apartment and now the dark of twilight was setting in. "She can't like me."
"Well obviously she can."
"No, I mean she /shouldn't/."
Shikamaru narrowed his eyes and studied the man across from him. His shoulders were slumped slightly and he continued to gaze out the window. "Why shouldn't she?"
Naruto bit his lip, chewing on it in silence. "I'm not like that. I just don't think like that," he said softly. "I don't know if that makes sense or not."
The other nin sighed. He sipped his sake and nodded. "Women are troublesome," he agreed.
The blond turned to look at him. The blue eyes studied him. His head was once again cocked to his side, an obvious indication that the blond was thinking too hard about something he probably shouldn't.
"What?" Shikamaru asked when Naruto remained silent.
The blond rose gracefully from the floor and walked around the table towards Shikamaru. His eyes had become unreadable to the lazy genius and it made him squirm. "What Naruto?"
He unconsciously shifted to protect the scrolls behind him. He dropped his small cup to the table in case he needed to use a jutsu. He wasn't expecting, however, the blond to come down hard on his lap. Two orange-clad legs straddled either side of him. His knees rested against his hips in a tight vice. Shikamaru's eyes widened. "What the hell--?"
His words were cut off as chapped lips hungrily stole the words from his tongue. The genius was too stunned to react. He sat there, dark eyes wide and stared at the closed lids of the blond. His mind reeled as he tried to adjust to the situation.
Boom and Bust. It's how all of life flowed. With a sudden boom and quick bust, Shikamaru's brain had fully fried.
"Oi, Naruto," he said, pushing the blond back slightly.
The other man pouted, crossing his arms, but refusing to move from his position. Shikamaru tried to shift but the friction was anything but unpleasant and he stopped before things began to awaken.
"What?" the blond whined.
"I should be asking you that. You just suddenly jumped me."
"Well, yeah. You said you didn't like--"
Shikamaru's eyes widened. He mentally berated himself for not seeing the obvious. Naruto didn't like women not because he didn't understand them or was too preoccupied with other things. He didn't like women because he /didn't like women/. This left his own earlier statement incriminating towards his own preferences. "I didn't mean it like that," the lazy genius tried to explain.
Naruto shoulders fell and he slumped forward. He still hadn't gotten off of the other man's lap. He rested his forehead against the wall Shikamaru was resting on, his warm breaths washed over the lazy nin's neck. He couldn't help but shiver from the sensation.
"Sorry," Naruto mumbled. "I guess I just assumed 'cause I was so excited."
"Excited?" Shikamaru gulped.
He tried to shift again but was unsuccessful. "Yeah," the blond began. "I thought I finally found someone who was the same as me."
Shikamaru felt like sinking into the shadows. Naruto sounded so dejected. He brought a hand to the blond's hip and squeezed it to encourage him to continue speaking. Naruto shifted at the pressure but settled back down without moving much from his original spot.
"You can't hang around Kiba without hearing of one of his many conquests, all women, of course. Jiraiya is constantly paying women to hang all over him, which isn't quite the same, but enough to make me feel even more of a freak. And don't get me started on Neji. His fan club is huge and he can basically melt any woman he wants with just the right look. It's so wrong. And here I am, watching and listening, but I don't feel the same way as them. Yeah, I still have all those same emotions and hormones and all that crap, but...I don't know. It's just not the same."
"It's not the women you're interested in."
It wasn't a question.
Naruto shook his head.
When had things become so serious?
"And so," the blond continued after a bit of silence. "I guess I just assumed wrong, sorry."
The lazy nin couldn't see his face but he could tell in his tone that he had a cheeky grin on his face. He shook his head in mild amusement. Only the blond change his mood so easily.
He idly wondered why he didn't throw the other man off.
"Don't stop," Naruto mumbled.
Shikamaru looked down. Unconsciously he had begun rubbing circles in the blond's back. He wasn't sure when he had started, nor when he had stopped. He took his hand off the man altogether and drew it back to his self. Naruto whined into his ear.
"I told you not to stop."
"Are you planning to get off me anytime soon?"
Naruto shrugged. He wiggled closer to the other man, if that was even possible. "I kinda like it here and you weren't complaining."
"Well I am now; you're making my legs go to sleep."
Shikamaru pushed at Naruto who easily slid back a little. He drew himself up to rest on his knees, but he still stayed straddling the other man. The fox-like grin was spread over his face, reaching his eyes and turning them an even brighter blue. The lazy nin dreaded to know what he was thinking.
"I was making your legs go to sleep."
"Didn't I say that?"
"And that's why you wanted me to get up."
He felt like banging his head against something hard or maybe just drinking all the sake in his house and getting completely sloshed. Shikamaru closed his eyes and took a deep breath. When he opened them again, Naruto was millimeters from his face. He jumped in surprise, his head hitting the wall with a resounding thud. The lazy nin groaned from the minimal pain. The blond, however, showed no remorse.
"What are you doing, Naruto?"
The blond's grin widened. "You didn't object."
"You didn't object. It wasn't the fact that I was on your lap or that I kissed you, it was that I was cutting off your circulation."
Shikamaru's eyes grew. He had no retort to Naruto's observation but it didn't matter, the blond continued to talk. "So you really didn't mind, did you?"
Naruto, still on his knees, leaned forward. He put both arms at an angled parallel around Shikamaru's body, one by his head and the other by his chest. It effectively caged the lazy nin in.
"What are you doing?"
"It depends," Naruto said, his voice a husky whisper. "On what you want to do?"
"And if I said I wanted to go back to drinking my sake in peace?"
The blond smirked. He lowered himself onto the other man and lightly ground their hips together. He returned to his knees when Shikamaru's eyes closed in pleasure. "You can say that, but I'd know you were lying."
"Unusually astute of you," he retorted.
Naruto just continued to smirk. "So, I'll ask again, what do you want to do?"
"I suppose it would be stupid to ask if you knew what you were doing."
Their voices had been reduced to whispers but they were close to enough to hear every word.
"Eh," Naruto shrugged. "Not my style. I like to improvise."
Shikamaru winced at the thought. "Some things are better planned."
"Well then I'll go ahead and apologize for this."
The blond closed the small gap between the two of them. Lips met again and this time Shikamaru didn't bother to resist. Inexperience on both sides made the kiss sloppy but both men pulled away breathing heavy. Glazed blue eyes met dark. An unspoken message passed between the two.
Naruto sat back up before pulling himself to his feet. He offered a hand to Shikamaru who took it with a grunt. Shyly, the blond stole another chaste kiss from the lazy genius. He just blushed and motioned to the connected room, his bedroom. They both made their way towards the door.
"Oi, Naruto," he said. "You aren't doing this just to get on the mission, right?"
The blond looked both hurt and amused at the same time. "Of course not. I don't want to go on that mission now, anyway."
Shikamaru stopped a step away from his door. Naruto entered the bedroom and looked over his shoulder.
The other man grinned widely. "Isn't it obvious, /genius/? Lovers shouldn't work together, too many personal issues."
The lazy nin stood at the door looking as the blond jumped down on his bed. He rolled around a bit before settling on his back. Even in the low light, Shikamaru could see the blue eyes watching him. Waiting for him. He sighed and shut the door behind him.
Boom and Bust. Boom and bust. It's how all of life flowed. Sometimes life crawled along at a gentle, peaceful pace. And sometimes life came out you fast and quick. Who could say which one is better: the calming pastime of cloud watching or the passion of an exuberant blond lover. Maybe, on occasion, life could equalize out and sometimes, with a bit of luck, both the calm and the passionate come together in perfect harmony.