The Suna Chronicle: Chapter 6

by Juturne

Their work continued quite successfully.

Ino had begun a mushroom cultivation in an unused series of caves which Shikamaru had suggested as being the perfect spot. The somber location offered a moist, cool environment for the plantation and the fungi were multiplying with unexpected success. It required little upkeep but offered a fine replacement for meat which would be difficult to process in a city under siege and short on livestock.

The works for the irrigation project had taken off and now Shikamaru was studying ways to prevent contamination by enemies of the precious water resource. Earlier, at the survey, he had discussed different trap systems that would detect motion too close to the pipe line. He was very familiar with tag bombs and other devices which could be set to explode upon human approach while resting intact when curious animals came too near. The Naras used such devices to protect their woods and the deer that dwelled there. He did not share his family�s best tricks with the Sand village engineers, the same as the exact locations chosen for the installation of the traps would never be fully revealed to the shadow ninja; but he was able to re-create a system on the same basis as his clan�s general technique that would function for their needs. In the greenhouse lab, working with eucalyptus and milkwort, Ino was able to distill a water purifying solution. A few drops in a bottle of water were enough to bind with the toxins causing them to solidify and therefore to be filtered out. She concocted a number of well-known plant based poisons and felt immense gratification to find that each clumped into large globules when she added her anti-poison preparation.

XXXXX

Almost another two weeks had passed since Shikamaru�s return when their evening cuddling session was disturbed by a knock at the door. Ino went to answer and returned with a very official looking sealed scroll. As she read the paper, her eyes grew wild with excitement.

�It�s an invitation from the Kazekage!� she nearly screamed. �Get this, he wants to hold a party in our honor to celebrate the halfway point of our visit � no, wait, to celebrate our �most successful and productive collaboration.� That�s exactly what he calls it.�

�Well I�m sure you�ll have fun,� was Shikamaru�s reply as he sank back further into the couch.

�No, there�s no way you can back out of this. This is an �official� invitation. It came straight from Gaara�s desk and it has both of our names printed on it. All of the top Suna officials will be there. He�s only doing this for us, from what I read here,� she waved the letter. �You can�t just snub all of Suna by not showing up.�

Shikamaru knew she was right. There�d be no getting out of this one.

XXXXX

It was the eve of the celebration. Already a month and a half had passed. Ino could barely believe how quickly the time was going by as she made it to the training ground for what would have been her taijutsu practice with Kankurou. Having spilled her guts to Shikamaru she had once again found peace with the puppet master. She knew he had really only been trying to show her a good time and that there was no reason for her to feel guilty even if he hadn�t acted like a complete gentleman. She couldn�t say that he had truly misbehaved either and definitely not in ways beyond that which the mix of club ambiance and alcohol caused in most people. Their friendship remained intact as neither spoke of the accursed night out, pretending as if it had never even happened.

Ino arrived at the training ground but she wasn�t dressed to fight. In fact she wasn�t planning on training that afternoon at all but needed to find Kankurou nonetheless to ask him for a favor.

�Why me?�

�Because you�re from Suna so I�m sure you have an eye for these things.�

�Why don�t you ask Matsuri. Isn�t this one of those girl bonding moments?�

�She�ll still be working with Shikamaru and I have to do it this afternoon. I�ve been so busy working on poisons and antidotes that the celebration just slipped up on me. I haven�t had time to look for a proper dress and the party�s tomorrow,� Ino whined.

Kankurou sighed and Ino was almost sure he was about to spurt an outburst along the lines of how troublesome this was (she was so used to resistance of that kind) when to her relief he just said, �Come on then,� and set off for the shopping district.

XXXXX

Kankurou didn�t really know where girls went to buy formal attire but Ino seemed to have no trouble spotting a shop that interested her. In fact, Ino had stood a long time in front of this one particular store the day she had spent window shopping to waste time until Shikamaru returned with the survey team. She was intrigued by the long, flowing wrap dresses. She had seen many styles of dress while in Suna but was not familiar with what one might wear to an official public function. These dresses looked like nothing she had ever seen in Konoha but they were exquisite in her eyes.

As soon as she had read the invitation she knew that she wanted to dress in formal Sand style. She and Shikamaru were being honored and what better way to show her appreciation than to dress in local fashion, showing how comfortable and pleased she felt to be a part of the community. Furthermore, she knew she�d have to make a strong, positive impression. She could already picture Shikamaru showing up in his flak jacket, yawning throughout the night, shifting impatiently until it was time to leave. It was imperative that he participate; but Ino knew that she was going to have to smile, mingle and look good for them both given as they would be the center of attention.

A young salesperson measured Ino and after carefully examining her stature chose three models she felt would complement Ino�s look. After explaining how to drape the garments, she led the kunoichi to a changing booth.

Ino tried on the first dress but wasn�t too convinced. She stepped out to get Kankurou�s opinion. Surely he�d been to a million of these functions. He�d know if she looked presentable.

Kankurou was already fed up with waiting. He couldn�t believe he had let himself get led into this; but as Ino stepped out of the booth for the first time he had to admit that he was quite surprised. She did look very nice. It was almost funny how well the Suna toga style looked on this girl from Konoha. He could tell from her pout however that she was not pleased.

Ino returned to try on the second dress. This wasn�t going as well as she had hoped. Maybe she just didn�t know how to properly do the wraps.

The second dress looked better; but there was still something wrong. She felt she looked dumpy. Somehow the dress just wasn�t very flattering despite the sash. Maybe she just wasn�t meant to wear Suna clothing or maybe it was just meant to be worn in such an unattractive manner but she stepped out to show Kankurou anyway.

Kankurou�s boredom had long subsided after Ino�s first appearance. He was actually eager to see what she would look like in the next dress and had to admit that he was greatly appreciating the private fashion show.

As she stepped out through the curtain this time she tried to make the best impression she could in a dress that once again she knew didn�t suit her. Ino didn�t even notice but she was primping, twirling, and posing in ways that no straight man could ignore. She gazed at her reflection in the large store mirror and was so disappointed that she didn�t even notice the smirk that had formed at the corner of the lips of the reflected image just behind her which she might have likened to the one Kankurou had wielded at the nightclub. Still unhappy she feared she would have to spend the entire afternoon, going from shop to shop to find a dress that would work, and she turned with a huff to try on the last of the saleslady�s selections.

For the third gown Ino took her time dressing. She tried to remember all of the tips the saleslady had given her for wrapping the dress properly. Eventually she even decided to call her in to help. Maybe there was something she hadn�t understood. She couldn�t possibly believe that the beautiful dresses she had seen in the window the other day were so hideous once on.

�There,� the saleslady finished, having properly adjusted the wrap. �The dress is worn much tighter than what you�ve been doing, even for the sash. That�s what accentuates your cleavage so much. You might not be comfortable with this look but here in Suna we women like to show off our curves.�

Ino turned to take a look at herself in the small booth mirror. She could hardly believe her eyes. Oh yes, this was the look she had been going for.

The saleslady could read the delight on Ino�s face and certain that she�d made a sell asked �Are you sure you�ll be able to do the wrap on your own next time?�

�Yeah, I think I understand now.� If this was going to be the result, there was no way she would forget even the slightest tuck; but would Kankurou approve?

She took a deep breath before leaving the booth, hoping she wasn�t still wasting his time but it was he who had to release an appreciative gasp as she appeared before him. The wait had been far more than worth it. She really did look amazing. With the dress wrapped correctly, he could easily read the feminine form of her body. He almost cursed himself for having returned to the club that night to look for the brunette. How had he found himself stuck in a love hotel with a stranger when all he had to do was pursue the Konoha girl with a bit more persistence? There was no way he was going to miss out on this while he still had a chance, he finally decided.

XXXXX

It was the night of the celebration and Ino was busy getting ready. She carefully applied her make-up and did her hair. She left plenty of time to wrap the dress as it should be. In fact, she had spent most of the day repeating the saleslady�s instructions in her mind so as to be sure she wouldn�t make a mistake. There, she thought. I�m finally ready and with 20 minutes to spare, perhaps a record.

She stepped into the common area of their apartment, thinking she�d have to wait for Shikamaru, so proud she was of herself for finishing ahead of schedule; but he was just exiting his room at the same moment to go and wait for her.

The large, uncommon smile that took over his face once he took in the elegantly dressed kunoichi was enough for her to know that he was pleased.

There was no ignoring how well the snug wrap of the gown greatly accentuated her feminine features and the dark violet strap that was slung across her bare shoulder brought forth the soft smooth skin. She wore her hair down for the occasion, with her bangs hanging in ringlets to frame her lovely face on both sides, and as she spun around to offer Shikamaru a full three-sixty view he noticed how the long locks of her hair swept perfectly over the curve of her buttocks.

However, the greatest surprise was for Ino as she stopped dead in her tracks from spinning. Shikamaru wasn�t dressed in a flak jacket as she had predicted and she had to blink twice to recognize the shadow ninja she had known for years. He too was dressed in formal Suna wear. He looked incredibly sexy draped in the fabrics for men, complete with the curved sword officials wore at their belt for only the most official functions.

Shikamaru noticed that she appeared in a daze, just staring and staring at him and he was beginning to feel uncomfortable under such merciless scrutiny so he decided to break the silence, explaining how he understood how much the event meant to Ino and how he had asked Matsuri to help him find something to wear. He really didn�t know what to pick but she had recommended this deep blue color for the sword sash which she thought would complement whatever Ino would wear, assuming it would be in the purple range�

Still Ino didn�t speak but she found herself creeping closer and closer to Shikamaru, her gaze never faltering.

Oh, yeah, Matsuri had said something about how men didn�t cover their heads for this kind of event and that it would be better if he wore his hair loose�

It was if he had been transformed into a magnet. Never in Ino�s wildest dreams had she ever imagined that Shikamaru could be so handsome. How many times had she tried to ignore him physically in this same common area over the past month and a half, with his dark hair falling messily down to his shoulders in the mornings? Too many times she knew but never had she seen him dressed so well at the same time. In fact, Ino couldn�t recall ever having seen Shikamaru make an effort with his appearance and never had she imagined that he could look so fucking hot.

When she came to stand before him and took his hands in hers, he wasn�t all that surprised. She had been inching over as he spoke and she too had a smile of appreciation for his new look that clung to her lips.

What he didn�t expect however was the speed and pressure with which she placed those smiling lips on his and not just to place a quick, happy peck on them; rather this time the skin of her mouth remained glued to his and he could not and never would have put up resistance as he felt her lips separate to force an exploring tongue into his own warm mouth.

This was their first deep kiss and it was filled with several years of dormant yearning. Before he knew what he was even doing, Shikamaru had released Ino�s hands and cupped her jaws with his hands to force her face as close to his as was humanly possible. He didn�t want her to release the death grip of their tongues.

Ino responded by grabbing the freed locks that had made her stomach burn on many an occasion since their arrival in Suna. She felt that if she held on tightly enough, became truly entangled in his unruly hair, then he would never be able to break free.

His hands eventually worked their way down the carefully folded fabric of Ino�s dress and cupped her ass, bringing her body even closer. Feeling her so near only reinforced his desire and his hands roamed still yet again, not knowing where to go, wanting to feel her and hold her everywhere at once. They were joined in a kissing frenzy; the result of over a month�s (possibly years of) pent up desire. A casual onlooker might have taken it for a wrestling match as they grappled and tackled one another until Shikamaru found himself backed into a wall.

He knew all too well what he was feeling and where this was going to lead and it took every ounce of self control for him to break the embrace.

�Ino, sweetheart�� he announced between kisses (Oh, shit. Had he just used a term of endearment? It had slipped out so naturally that he didn�t even catch the word that rang loudly in her ears) and continued, �I really don�t want to be saying this but we�d better get going if we don�t want to be late and if we keep this up I�ll just mess up your hair.� The last part made Ino laugh, enough to allow her to pull back from his kiss. Was he really so worried about her hair? Well in any case, if he hadn�t reminded her of all the effort she had made to prepare for tonight�s event she would have forgotten to leave, not wanting to see this moment end.

Only after a promise on his part that they would take back up where they were leaving off once they returned home that night did she turn to head towards the door.


Shikamaru and Ino are copyright to Kishimoto Masashi. This is simply a fanlisting/fansite.