A Troublesome Love
Shikamaru couldn't pinpoint when it first began, but he could pinpoint the exact moment he noticed. It was this moment. Right now. It dawned on him milliseconds later just how much trouble he was in. It was the kind of trouble that keeps you up at night.
Heaving a sigh he looked up at the clouds floating by, careless and free . . . a sight that usually left him feeling wistful and content. But not today. He couldn't focus, or un-focus, or-what-ever. He wished he could be like the clouds; impartial, passing through, far away . . .
If only He hadn't come along and messed everything up.
Shikamaru was in Love.
With an older man. An Irritating Man – and worse, not just irritating but intentionally-infuriating!
Shikamaru had been in love before, many times. He'd fallen in love with old friends and new, strangers and enemies – most unrequited or unacted-upon, but not all. It had never been easy to put his feelings aside when need be, but it had never been this troublesome . . .
It worried him. He'd always felt confident in his ability to turn off his emotions. But that was just it, emotions. Feelings. The things he felt for this man were more carnal than he'd felt before. Embarrassingly, he felt like his blood had never run hot until now. He lay in bed wanting to shunshin to the older man and profess his undying love and lust.
He wanted to tell people. He wanted to confess his secret to everyone, it was stupid but he did. He wanted to stare at the object of his affections, and though he told himself not to, he couldn't help himself. He wanted to look at Him, watch expressions crease His face. Meet His eyes and not turn away, watch His pupils grow and shrink. Count the pores on His skin. Taste Him.
It was humiliating. And troublesome!
He wanted to be . . . with Him, but he also sort of hated Him, mostly for being oblivious.
The terrible aching longing was overwhelming Shikamaru to the point that he'd started to become unwell.
People had noticed and he wanted to reassure them, to deny their worries, and their guesses… but he didn't want to talk about it. It was bothersome. It was troublesome. It was a phase, he had decided, and he wanted to forget this ever happened . . . he wanted to clear his head, fill it again with clouds and be at peace.
Peace he could feel it now. He was relaxing, now. He had found a silent, secluded clearing – one he hadn't used before, so no one should come looking for him here. There was no one around; nothing was here to distract him but his thoughts… his thoughts that were trying again to focus on a certain someone.
"Yo," said that certain someone.
'You have got to be kidding me,' thought Shikamaru. This was a definite Speak of the Devil moment, or should that be Think of the Devil? Shikamaru wanted to kiss him, he wanted to hold him tight and never let go, he wanted to push him away and run away and never come back, but all he said was, "How bothersome."
He didn't look. He didn't look away from the sky and the clouds. He acted as if he were distracted, he acted as if his mind was up in the clouds and drifting by . . . he acted as if his heart wasn't racing, as if his pupils weren't shot wide with love, as if heat wasn't creeping up his neck and into his face. But his mind was in the Here, in the Now, racing with his heart . . . working with his heart - thinking fast, this option and that.
'How can I make him love me back in this moment?' his heart was aching.
'Not by acting casual, not by ignoring him. Look at him, look him in the eye and show him who you are,' replied his mind.
Shikamaru flicked his eyes to the shadow standing in his peripheral vision. An eye met his. His eyes flicked back to the clouds. Pathetic, this wasn't who he was… The shadow crouched beside him, a little too close. Shikamaru draped an arm over his eyes and tried not to think, tried not to anything.
"You do look bothered," replied the man, "what's troubling you?"
He was worried. He was worried about him. Shikamaru felt his heart soar, sink and soar; this man, this beloved man cared for him, but on the other hand this man wasn't stupid. Perhaps he already knew what was bothering Shikamaru. A thrill shot through Shikamaru and he wondered; 'when had it first begun?' he just couldn't seem to remember. He only knew that one day he realised that Kakashi had been turning up all over the place, in a lot of unexpected places.
And then today he realised that Kakashi wasn't turning up in unexpected places – he was! It was him – Shikamaru – who was turning up where he knew Kakashi would be, and worse: he couldn't remember when he'd started doing it!
So he'd broken his little habitual routine this very morning, and come here instead. To think. It was time to put this all behind him, he had to take these steps. So he'd . . . he'd . . . hidden here to avoid stalking Kakashi . . . And here Kakashi was.
Something was occurring to Shikamaru. It was impossible. The thought was taking a while to process.
He slid his arm off of his face and looked Kakashi in the eye, "Was there something in particular you needed?"
Kakashi was watching him intently, his headband was up and both eyes travelled over Shikamaru's face, pausing ever so shortly on the younger man's lips. "No," he replied.
These appearances, they were not always coincidence on Shikamaru's part, but neither were they always on purpose; like today. Kakashi was seeking him out too, either he didn't realise it, or he did. Shikamaru's heart wasn't racing now, so much as stomping. He sat up slowly.
"Does anyone need me for something?" he had to make sure, he had to know for sure.
"I – no."
Shikamaru sighed heavily. His day was ruined, this couldn't go anyway but sour, he rolled his eyes to the sky and asked, "Are you sure you're not the troubled one?"
There was no reply for a second or two. He looked back at Kakashi, who was smiling.
"No," said Kakashi.
"You might not be troubled," said Shikamaru, getting to his feet and looking down at the other man, "but you are troublesome."
Kakashi was looking up at him, and Shikamaru was looking down. He wasn't sure if it was the change in heights, but he reached out and placed a hand on the older man's clothed cheek, and blinked rapidly, involuntarily, before slipping his hand to the back of the Kakashi's head. He tangled his fingers in surprisingly coarse grey hair, and leant in slowly. He met Kakashi's gaze, watching him, just watching. He saw no negative reaction, but there was not a positive one. There was nothing but storm clouds. Shikamaru closed the distance quickly. He shut his eyes, closing off the world.
He placed one chaste kiss on those masked lips and walked away. He couldn't wait to hear what Kakashi would say, he didn't want to know. 'Please let me have just that,' he pleaded in his head, and then, 'I should have kissed him differently, if I pulled down his mask, maybe he would have kissed me back. Maybe he would have kissed me back, if I had kissed him a bit longer.' But then again, maybe he wouldn't have, and Shikamaru felt strangely fragile. He couldn't face the expected rejection.
He was an emotional mess. Through this haze of anxiety, Shikamaru muttered one word, "Troublesome."
What he really needed was some sleep. He didn't want to think about today. Partly because it hurt, and partly because he worked with the guy, and he had work tomorrow . . . and how was he supposed to face Kakashi after this?! If Shikamaru's obsession hadn't been clear before, it would be now. Right now Kakashi was probably remembering all those times they'd bumped into each other unexpectedly and feeling creeped out.
He'd probably put in a request to never work with Shikamaru again!
Shikamaru dwelled on these thoughts for an inordinate amount of time, before coming out of it to see that he was inside his apartment, and night had fallen.
He headed straight for the bed and dropped onto it. On the ceiling were a multitude of badly painted clouds, courtesy of his teammates Ino and Chouji. They had decided his lonely apartment needed some cheering up. It did, and the clouds worked. He cracked a smile thinking of the day they were painted.
And then his doorbell rang.
There was a not-small chance that a possibly-angry, possibly-furious masked man would be waiting outside. The bell rang again and again and again, in quick succession. Never mind. There were only three people who rang his doorbell like that, and seeing as Naruto and Lee hardly ever visited, it must be Kiba.
The doorbell jangled again, gratingly and he slouched to the door. He flicked the lock, the door swung open before his fingers could grasp it – and hit him on the head. Kiba stood there, mouth agape. The door was slowly creaking closed between them. Kiba had just opened his mouth to apologise, when Shikamaru quickly slammed the door shut.
He felt at his head, embarrassment and humour warring. His hand came away wet with blood. Head wounds always bleed heavily, even the little ones. He should've known it was going to be a lame day start to finish. He'd had worse days, he knew, much worse. But this wasn't a good day either. He walked to his small bathroom to get a look in the mirror.
There was a bleeding dent smack in the middle of his forehead. This would turn Kakashi's head for sure . . . He wrapped a bandage around his head and vowed to get it healed first thing in the morning. He'd probably get double black eyes from this, as well. Typical Kiba, typical freaking Kiba making a bad day worse.
Typical freaking Kiba screaming outside: "I'm. Sorry. You. Didn't. Move. Out. The. Way. Shika-maru!"
Shikamaru perched himself on the edge of his rickety old sink and leant out of the window. The sky was beautiful he saw, heavenly clouds peppered the sunset . . . and then he looked down, down, down into hell and there was Kiba.
"Forget about it, Kiba. See you tomorrow. I'm tired." Tired of everything . . . Or . . . Maybe he was just grumpy about the door-thing.
"…see you tomorrow," agreed Kiba, and then Shikamaru was retreating from the window and closing it after him. He didn't bother changing out of his clothes, these clothes that he had kissed Kakashi in. He crawled into bed and willed the next day to hurry.
He woke in the night and lay silent, listening. His fingers twitched in preparation. Someone moved in the room. Shikamaru made an aborted attempt to get out of the bed, and the intruder was on him, over him. Hands pinned his hands, knees across his thighs.
A moment of nothing but breathing and confusion, and then Shikamaru breathed, "Kakashi?" The man did not reply, and Shikamaru said louder, more determined, "Kakashi-?"
The older man covered his mouth, just for a second, and then his hand flitted away to hover between them almost touching, but not. His other hand slipped to press beside Shikamaru's head, and the knee pinning his was gone too. What was a shocking moment became something else, as Kakashi half-sat half-lay beside him.
Listening to their breathing slowly calm and fall into rhythm, Shikamaru knew it was up to him to press this again. This was the man opening up as it was, saying "Show me."
Shikamaru took that hovering hand in his, gently and felt warm, rough skin, and felt warm, rough fabric, and the cold smooth metal guard. Kakashi gripped his hand back tightly, and Shikamaru, moved by the moment, crushed the hand to his mouth and kissed those rough fingertips.
Stiff material and leather creaked beside him as Kakashi leant closer. Shikamaru wanted to kiss him, so he did, only for Kakashi to turn his face away. But before the younger man could begin to feel hurt, his lips were back, naked without his mask. They were soft and warm. Shikamaru tried to pull him as close as he could get, but his covers were in the way. He threw the covers from the bed, and while Kakashi used this moment to get closer – it didn't seem close enough. Shikamaru couldn't hold him close enough; he couldn't hold him tight enough. A kind of despair was upon him, a terrible aching despair through the pleasure and the happiness.
He didn't want Kakashi to stop, and pull away and never come back. Shikamaru was not himself, he needed anchoring, and he needed this.
Kakashi eventually managed to extricate himself, and Shikamaru turned his head away, breathing heavily. He couldn't watch.
But then he heard the clothes being dropped to the floor, and he was being rolled to the older man's side, his head was being turned to press into the crook of his bare neck. He reached out and took Kakashi's gloveless hand.
"How long have you known?"
"Longer than you, long enough to notice as soon as you didn't turn up!" The rumble of Kakashi's voice so close was as exciting as what he said. Shikamaru pressed closer. Pressed his lips to the other man's lips . . . It was nowhere near dawn when he fell asleep to Kakashi's breath whispering in his ear. He didn't think he'd ever felt so content in his life.
He woke to a grey dawn, cold, alone. The feeling of contentedness fled soon after he opened his eyes. His covers were on the floor, and Kakashi was not beside him, or anywhere else in the flat. The covers could mean nothing; perhaps he'd dreamt the whole thing. He'd probably had. He'd just dreamt the whole thing.
Shikamaru scraped his hair back out of his face and washed quickly. If he saw Kakashi while he was with his friends, he'd go by the way the man acted towards him. He'd wing it. It was a quick run down to the bridge where the teams met up now, so once it was in view he slowed to a leisurely stroll so he could prepare himself, settle his mind, and … maybe daydream a bit.
It was a dull morning with plenty of clouds. No picking shapes out of these clouds, it seemed one great mess, but it was pleasant to watch their ever-changing forms, not unlike watching a flame, just… slower. A form of meditation.
By the time he arrived at the meeting spot on the bridge, he'd changed his mind on the whole 'wing-it' plan.
"I've gotta leave early, Chouji," he told his friend.
"Why's that?" Chouji was watching him with interest.
Shikamaru paused and then a small smile crept onto his face, "I have something important to do."
He'd left the bridge and was about to turn into the road leading to the main road when he heard his name being called from close by, "Shikamaru?"
Shikamaru turned to see Kakashi, (his troublesome love) walking up behind him, hands in his pockets, little orange book nowhere to be found. Shikamaru accidently let his eyes linger on strong thighs before flicking quickly up to meet warm, amused eyes. Suddenly he was burning up. He didn't know what to say, 'Hello'? 'Hey'? 'Yo'? He was worrying over meaningless things.
"…hey," he sounded a little shy, not as confident as he'd wanted. But Kakashi was at his side now and they were staring into each other's eyes. Just standing there staring and yet some communication was passing between them, because a smile was spreading across Shikamaru's face, and Kakashi's eye was crinkling.
"Kakashi," he began warmly, but he'd never remember exactly what he was going to say, because Kakashi was suddenly kissing him, in the street, with his friends on the bridge.
It took a while for his friends to get used to visiting Kakashi when they visited Shikamaru, but no one ever doubted they were meant for each other.