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Is This Real?

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If he imagined that their first time in bed together as lovers to be any different, Shikamaru didn't want to say.

For the first time in their young lives, Shikamaru and Ino found themselves in a quiet. Not because they had refused to talk to each other. It was a different kind. A peaceful quiet.

They lay side by side on his bed staring at the ceiling like any other day they spent on the grassy hillside near school. Except this time, instead of cloud watching, they watched the peeling paint of his bedroom ceiling. Except instead of talking, they could not find any more words to say.

Maybe it was shock. What with having suddenly confessed their love for each other in the midst of another explosive fight between them. How did they get from him saying I'm-fine-with-whoever-you-take-at-the-prom-and-informing-me-at-the-last-minute-it's-not-like-we-planned-this-years-ago-or-anything to jackass-I'm-in-love-with-you! anyway? 

Shikamaru slide his eyes over to Ino. Her eyes are closed. Her chest rising up and down slowly. Calm. But definitely not asleep. He could see her eyes moving beneath eyelids. He looks at her lashes, marveling at how long they were even without the makeup she puts on.

"Ino..."

She opens her eyes slowly and Shikamaru's breath hitches. The way the afternoon sun hit her, dust motes floating slowly like planets moving around their respective suns, felt nothing short of magical. She looked so ethereal and he found the 'I love you' he wanted to tell her again stuck in his throat. He had been afraid that this was all a dream. And now, with this Ino looking at him with bright blue eyes, shining pale yet golden under the sun's rays... He was afraid to break this spell. What if this wasn't real? What if he'd only been dreaming again?

"Shika?" She whispers so quietly as if her lips didn't even move.

He wanted to kiss her. Wanted her to call his name again. Wanted her to tell him again that he was an idiot. That she was in love with him.

He felt his heart beat faster again and he was drowning in the panic that had suddenly overwhelmed him like a crashing wave. He needs to know this was all real. He reached for her hand without hesitation and she intertwined their fingers. She gives him the softest smile that becomes his favorite smile for the rest of his life.

Her hand anchors him in place. The panic is gone. Yes, she said. This was happening. And she didn't need to tell him out loud.