I lay on the ground just staring up at the sky, wondering what I would do today and what I should eat, who I might see and what I might learn while training. Thoughts drifted through my mind but I just let them pass by without worrying about any of it. The clouds were a fluffy white today, after the big rain shower we had yesterday. These clouds were my favorite.
“Anako get up already! You’re two hours late for practice!!” I could hear Naruto screaming loudly in complaint and felt him grab my ankles and drag me down the hill I was on. “I swear you are just like Shikamaru! You should be on a team with him instead of screwing with my training!” I swatted his hands and stood up gruffly, pulling at my black tights that had risen up above my knees. All of my pouches were askew so I had to retie them one by one.
“Naruto, calm down. Being a little late won’t hurt. Kakashi-sensei probably isn’t even there yet anyway.” I said calmly. He only crossed his arms and huffed impatiently. I giggled and rubbed his hair like he was a pet. He grinned and pushed me off of him.
“Just hurry up, will ya?” He started to jog to the training grounds we were to meet at today. I shrugged and stuck my hands into my pockets, taking my leisurely time about walking. If I walked too fast then I couldn’t look up at the sky and pick out my favorite clouds when I wanted to.
“Shikamaru, get your head out of the clouds and get back to work! No time to daydream today, boy!” I heard my brother’s voice and looked over to see Asuma grabbing Shikamaru by the ear. He had been looking at me and quickly glanced away to detach his sensei from his ear.
“Yeah, yeah, I get it old man. I’m on it,” he sighed and ran over to the rest of the teammate. I giggled to myself and kept walking, just barely able to see Naruto’s fuzzy blond hair bouncing up and down as he ran off in the distance.
For as long as I could remember, I’ve had these intense feelings every time I saw Shikamaru. I would see him sitting on the hill, walking aimlessly through town, or in class sleeping, but he was always by himself. I would have this great urge to go sit with him or start talking to him, but I know what he would say. “I don’t feel like talking. You women are such drags.” So I never got a chance to talk to him. The most I’ve ever said was hello.
I sigh and go back to looking up at the clouds.
I bounce off of Naruto’s backside a few minutes later, so I guessed that I had made it to where we were supposed to be. And of course Kakashi-sensei is not there.
“Awe dammit!! I blame you, Anako!” Naruto wailed and stomped around, his headband bouncing around on top of his forehead.
“Oh chill out you big eejit. I’ll go find him. Stay here!” I jumped up into a tree and ran back intot he village, looking for any signs of our silver haired teacher. I found him sitting on a rooftop, reading one of his notoriously perverted books.
“Sensei, you’ve made us wait again. Naruto is throwing a hissy fit, so can you please come train us?” It’s not like I minded if we trained or not. I would be perfectly content with not doing anything at all.
“Just tell him there’s no class today,” Kakashi mumbled irritably and flipped to the next page. I should have known, since the next book came out in stores today. I nod and jump off the roof onto the ground.
Naruto was most definitely not happy so he went to see if he could find Jiryia or Tsunade to bug them until they teach him a new technique, while I decided to go have a bite to eat in town.
“Hey, Anako! Are you done training too? Wanna sit with us?” Ino was picking at a small bowl of fish while Choji was chowing down on an all you can eat buffet of chicken balls. I smile, happy for the offer.
“We missed you the other day at my party! You never come around to hang out with us anymore,” Ino pouted. “Is it because what Shika said…?” She ventured to ask in a conspicuous whisper. I wracked my brains, trying to figure out if Shikamaru had talked to me without my knowing.
“Um, no, what did he say?” I tried not to sound too enthusiastic but my unexpected smiling gave it away. Ino’s face brightened more.
“Oh, nothing! Just how cute he thought you were!” My heart pounded inside my chest at those words, and all those worries I never thought I had came in a rush. What if he was just saying that to be nice, what if he actually thought I was weird, should I go talk to him?!
“What are you talking about, Ino-“ Choji said through a full mouth, followed by a very loud “Ouch!” Ino gave him a glare, which made me a little wary.
“Really? We’ve never even talked to each other before.” I scratch the back of my head, a habit I picked up from being around Naruto too much.
“Oh, yeah! He even asked why you weren’t at my party! I think you should go talk to him sometime.” She winked and finished off the last bit of her dried fish.
“Ok… maybe I will. After I eat.” I laughed, my spirits soaring at what I just learned. Yet something was nagging in the back of my mind. Something didn’t add up. Like, why wouldn’t Shikamaru just come talk to me if he wanted to hang out with me?
I finished off a plate of rice cakes and had some tea to calm my nerves before even attempting to find Shikamaru, let alone talk to him!
I mean, what would I say? “Hi, how are you? I never talked to you before, but I really really like you, so do you want to go out?” No, I think he would just laugh in my face.
I knew where he was of course. He and I sort of had the same hideouts. I climbed the stairs to the top of a building and peeked my head up to the roof. There he was, laying across and bench with his arms behind his head.
“Um, hey.” I laugh, embarrassed at not having anything else to say than that. He jumped, not expecting to have anyone find him.
“Hi yourself. What’s up? Is there trouble?” he got up quickly, expecting to see the whole town raided by enemies or a blazing fire licking at the buildings of Konoha.
“No, no, nothing’s up. I just came to watch clouds. I wasn’t expecting anyone to be here,” I lied, for lack of a better excuse. He raised his eyebrows and shrugged, scooting over on the bench to make room for me.
“Mind if I stay, then?” he asked. I nodded and sat beside him. We both laid back and crossed our arms behind us. It probably looked comical now that I thought about it. The two daydreamers sitting together daydreaming together and in identical positions.
It was quiet for a while. I was so sure he would hear my heart pounding in my chest. I know I could hear it ringing through my ears as if it were battle drums.
“What do you see in the clouds?” He asked out of nowhere. I concentrated and picked out my favorite one.
“That one looks like an elephant on a tightrope.” And so the game of cloud reading began. We were in fits of laughter at the strange things we saw.
“Hey, that one looks like a fish trying to eat Naruto’s face!” I giggled and I could hear Shika chuckling, and the vibrations trickled through me.
The clouds disappeared and we went back to silence for a while.
“Why did you really come up here, Anako? ‘Cause I’m pretty sure you knew I was here.” I peeked over at the boy and he was staring straight back at me.
“You caught me. I came to confess my undying love for you really.” Why did I just say that?! Stupid, stupid! The shock across his face made me realize just how idiotic it was of me to say something like that, so I quickly retraced my words. “I’m kidding. Your face was priceless.” I laughed almost dejectedly. How was I ever to get back on good grounds after that?
“So then, why?”
“I dunno. I just figured it was about time us two cloud watchers united and watched together.” I didn’t have the energy to keep talking and making up such nonsense, so I turned my head back up to the sky. I didn’t watch anything except the words and images inside my head this time. I was filled to the brim with worry now, wondering what Shika must think of me now.
“We should do this more often.” I thought I hadn’t heard properly so I said what, and of course he repeated what he’d just said.
“Um, yeah! Sounds good.” And we did just that. Every day we woke up at the crack of dawn and met up at the hill to watch the sun rise and the sky to quickly change colors, into beautiful days or rainy days. It didn’t matter, we were out somewhere. And when it rained we just let the water wash over us.
This particular day, months after our initial meeting, a torrential downpour had trapped us inside our homes. I sat on the windowsill and stared outside, sighing heavily with my chin in the palm of my hand.
“Anako, visitor.” I heard Asuma greet someone at the door and peek his head into my room. He was smirking, so I knew he was just waiting to tease me. I walked out to see Shikamaru standing awkwardly in my hallway.
“Hey, Anako.” He was soaked to the bone, dripping on the rug by the front door. I laughed at the sight of his hair stringing down his face, almost all out of his ponytail.
“You can toss your shoes in the corner. I’m just gonna go get you a towel,” I giggled behind my hand as I turned around to go to the hall closet.
“Yeah, yeah, very funny. What a drag,” he pulled his shoes off and shook himself like a dog to get rid of some of the rain. It just made things funnier.
“If it’s such a damn drag, why’d you come all the way out here in the pouring rain in the first place?” I threw the towel over his head and rubbed his hair dry. He’d taken it out of the ponytail completely. He lifted his head and put his hands over mine to make me stop. His eyes bore into mine for a second, we both looked quickly away and I went back to drying his hair and chuckling nervously.
“I brought a game of chess. Wanted to see if you were any good.”
“You bet I am. I call the white side.” I took away the towel and took a look at Shika with his hair down for the first time. The way his black locks framed his face made my heart skip a beat. He was so hot. I felt my cheeks burning, so it was definitely time to turn away. I didn’t though. Instead, I stepped closer. He watched me closely as I came up to him, so near his face that I could feel his breath on my cheeks. I grabbed the hair tie from his hand and raked up his hair to put it back up so it didn’t distract me so much. I was still facing him as I did this. It was all I had in me not to just lean in and touch my lips off his. The only thing that kept me from doing so was the thought that I just managed to become his friend. I didn’t want to go back to square one after this.
I managed to put his hair up with no big scene and we both went to the living room where the heating was on under the table and the covers were nice and warm. We tucked ourselves in and set up the board in front of us.
Two hours later, Shikamaru called checkmate and the game was over.
“And here I thought you were actually good, Anako. You’re such a liar, you know.” He teased, kicking me softly under the table. I pouted and kicked him back.
“I am good, you’re just a genius at this game. I held you off for two hours at least! A lot better than some, you have to admit.” He grinned.
“I do admit that. Hey look, it stopped raining.” We both glanced out the window and saw that it indeed had stopped raining for the moment. I jumped up and ran out into the hall.
“Hey, Asuma! Headed out for a while!” I shouted as I stepped into my shoes and threw on a flannel shirt that acted as my only jacket at the moment. “Come on Shika! I don’t want to miss it!”
“Miss what?” he asked, confused, while still following behind me as I ran out the front door and onto the road.
“Miss this!” I pointed up to the fat clouds hanging above us. They were so dark and mysterious, just waiting for the right moment to let go and pour rain once more.
I dragged Shika out to our hill and took off my makeshift jacket to place it on the ground so my clothes would stay semi dry. Shika sat down with me. We both looked up at the fat clouds, at the fraying at their tips and the darkness at the bottom of them.
“Here it comes!” I stare up into the sky, then close my eyes as I feel those first few drops and then the downpour once more. I laugh at the coldness of it. Shika jumps to get shelter under the only tree near us. I just stand up and dance around and around. I can feel him watching me but I don’t mind. The purple of my shirt turns to an almost black as the rain soaks through to my skin. I can feel the chill bumps on my arms but I just keep dancing around.
Arms stop me from spinning, and as my eyes open, I find myself staring up at a drenched Shika. His arms slowly wrap around my hips, pulling me close to his body. I can feel the heat radiating from the water through his clothes. He leans into me and captures my lips with his. My hands shoot up into his hair and I accidentally snag his hair tie back out as I pull his head more to me to deepen the kiss. I’m afraid to pull away for breath because I don’t want this to end. But my heart is beating so fast and I can’t breathe anymore so I pull away and look at him, gasping for air.
His hands are still on my hips and his lips are still slightly parted, as if he was only waiting for the next kiss.
“You are such a liar. I knew how you felt the moment I saw you up on the roof.” He breathed and a smirked played off those lips I was staring at.
“How?” I whispered breathlessly.
“I told Ino to tell you what she did. I wanted to see how you’d react. I was just a bit surprised when you actually said how much you cared and then turned around and lied about it.” His smirk was turning into a grin now and I could feel the embarrassment in my cheeks.
“So you knew the whole time? Why didn’t you do something sooner if you felt the same?”
“I had to test the theory first and I wanted to get to know you as a friend first. And see how it worked out for us?” He spread his arms out at the hill and I understood then. He’d become my best friend and now I have that and his love too. I stood on my tiptoes and kissed his lips once more. He wrapped one arm around my waist and the other hand he placed across the back of my neck.
The rain died down and the clouds parted enough for the sun to peek through and warm us back up. We pulled away and sat on the wet ground to cloud watch together while the rain was gone. I reached over and linked my fingers through with Shika’s. he chuckled and scooted closer to wrap hia arm underneath me.
“I’m glad you’re so smart. Otherwise, it’d be a drag to have to blatantly tell you how I felt.” I teased, making my voice sound kind of like his. He poked me in my side and pulled my head closer so I could rest it on his chest. We continued to watch the clouds and lay next to each other. Two daydreamers united.
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