It was all the hormones' fault, Ino thought as she sobbed on Shikamaru's chest. Shikamaru just quietly held her, occasionally brushing her hair and pressing his cheek on top of her head.
"I'm going to mess this up, Shikmaru!" She had cried once they say themselves down. "I'm going to ruin my child's life!"
Shikamaru frowned at her. It seemed like he was even mad at her for saying so.
"Ino, you practically helped raised Chouji and me," he said, choosing his words carefully. He knows better than tackle this head on without doing so. She wouldn't appreciate being sugarcoated. She always needed facts. "You even complained a lot about it. But look at us now. We're alive. We're healthy. We're doing great."
Ino stopped whimpering for a moment.
"No, you're not!" She chided through tears. "If not for training, you'd be skin and bones. And you'd alway eat take out! And you'll always oversleep and lose your job!"
"And who taught me better or else I'd be dragged around town?"
She tried to keep pouting at him but he knew she was going to calm down soon.
"Ino, you've helped raised orphans at the children's hospital for years. You've even held some classes in the Academy. Your genin team are now all chuunin. And you're only in your early twenties! You are amazing, Ino. Any child would be proud and happy to call you their mother."
Ino clutches at her swollen belly, seven months now. Only a few more weeks left. How can she start panicking now?
"Ino," Shikamaru tries to catch her attention and touches her hand gently. Her eyes swim in tears as she looks up at him. "I'm here. Chouji's here. Sakura. Kurenai-sensei. Hinata. Your mom. My Mom. Your clan. Our clans. We're all here for you. You're not alone in this. You're going to be a great mom."
Her tears fall again and she tries to nod in agreement with him. "H-heck y-yeah, I will b-be!"
Then she proceeds to throw herself on his chest. Familiar, soothing, warm, safe and sound. Shikamaru will always be her stronghold. Someone who would never see her for anything less than she is, an amazing person. He was someone who would always believe in her and defend her against the world.
He embraces her with his long arms, cocooning her with all the love and support he could physically make her feel.
"If it makes it you feel any better, I'm sure that one of this world's most emotionally damaged person wouldn't have chosen you as the mother of his child if he didn't feel it in his heart you'd make a great mom. He's pretty smart, y'know."
She doesn't respond and instead this refreshes her towards a new torrent of fears. She grasps at his shirt with both hands and he holds her tighter.
"I'm sorry, my love." She barely registers him whispering the apology to her. She knows why. She understands. He is whispering it because she is the only one supposed to hear it. And saying these words in this house, being in each other's arms, was almost nothing short of an act of dishonesty to Sai and Temari. So is both of them, in the deepest corners and depths of their minds and heart where they thought they could keep it hidden and hoped to wither out, wishing they could have just done this all with each other instead. Maybe in a different world. A different life. Ino sheds her tears for a life with Shikamaru she could never have. Not now or ever.