ShikaSaku 5/9/16

Shadow Bough

Shikamaru fidgets, scratches the back of his neck, adjusts the way his robes lay on his body. Beside him, Chouji laughs good-naturedly, and Naruto smiles in his usual foxy manner. Ino is standing on the other side of the narrow walkway, and can very clearly see her teammates nerves, though he's loathe to call them such, and rolls her pale blue eyes as she smiles. At her side, Temari laughs, teal eyes flashing, her sandy blonde hair for once out of its customary four pigtails, smoothed and straightened and pulled back in a twist with a pretty Sunan blossom.

It was odd; even as close friends for so many years, he still occasionally forgets she was more than capable of being thoroughly feminine, to the point of glamour and elegance.

"Better quit twitching, Crybaby, or you'll earn yourself another nickname," she says with a broad grin. He levels a flat look her way, only to receive more laughter from his companions.

"Troublesome," he grumbles, but there's no real heat in his tone. His nerves are frazzling him, and it's driving him nuts.


Standing further back in the crowd, beside her grown former students and old friends from her own generation, Kurenai shifts her daughter closer to her side, trying to allow the girl to see through the crowds of adults. When that doesn't work, she picks the seven-year-old up, though she's starting to get a bit too big to do this much anymore. Mirai grins when she's finally able to see the group of five up ahead.

"Shikamaru is fidgeting an awful lot," Kurenai says, frowning a little in concern at her late husband's former student, as Mirai chimes something about wanting to visit 'Shika-niisan'.

"It's the nerves. We all tried to warn him…" Kakashi says beside her, shaking his head slightly. He's in his usual garb, at least these days, the white and red Hokage robes, a navy mask covers the lower half of his face. He forgoes the pointed hat, also as usual, and rumors circulate that his gravity-defying silver hair prevents him from keeping the hat on his head.

"How would you know, Kakashi? You're a perpetual bachelor," the Genjutsu Mistress points out with a smirk. The Rokudaime Hokage rolls his matching grey eyes.

"Fine. Our married little students tried to warn him. And I watched."

"If any of those boys did anything of the sort, their wives would have had something to say about it."

"Gaara, back me up here," Kakashi says, turning to one of his fellow Kage in attendance. The younger red-haired man turns to him with pale green eyes and smirks.

"Matrimony is a blessed experience. I'm sure Shikamaru will find it to his liking."

"Traitor," Kakashi mutters to his younger Sunan counterpart. Behind them, the other Kage of the Fourth War, as well as their prospective successors, snicker lightly.

"Aren't you supposed to be up there, Kakashi-sama?" Hinata asks quietly from her place between Kurenai and Gaara, polite as ever. The Rokudaime doesn't give her so much grief for her usage of his title, seeing as it's just in her nature to be so polite. Unlike a certain former pink-haired student of his and her new Iwa sidekick/his blond ex-student's girlfriend, who he is convinced are just doing it to give him grief.

"Eh, I've got time," he says, reaching into his robes for one of his colorful books, looking alarmed when he comes up empty.

"Sakura confiscated them for the day, remember?" Sasuke calls from further ahead, holding a napping, dark-haired baby carefully in his arms, close to the same age as the brunette baby girl Hinata gently cradles, the spiky dark-haired baby boy Sai is babysitting, and the fraternal twins Shino and Tenten are babysitting. The older generation of shinobi, many of whom had forgone marriage and children in the face of conflicts, the Akatsuki, and the Fourth Great Shinobi War, look upon this newest generation and their parents with a healthy mixture of awe, pride, and love.

"Never thought I'd see the day Uchiha Sasuke would be holding a baby," Kiba mutters.

The little girl Hinata carries scrunches up her face then, waving her tiny fists, a precursor to a tantrum. The former Hyuga Heiress holds the child closer, humming and rocking.

"Hush now, Honoka-chan," Hinata says, continuing to hum and drawing Gaara's attention. With a wave of his hand, the Kazekage's sands rise from the small gourd at his hip, shifting into small dancing figures that rise over the baby's head, her pale greenish-white eyes following.

"Will she have the Byakugan, Hinata?" Kurenai asks quietly, looking down at the Kazekage's and Hyuga's heir lovingly. Mirai's red eyes are finally pulled away from 'Shika-niisan', and are immediately glued to the dancing sand.

"Otou-sama and Hanabi seem to think so," Hinata says as Honoka finally settles back down, lifting the infant to kiss her tiny nose before smiling. "Once she's old enough, she'll be coming back to Konoha frequently to train in the Hyuga style."

"And proud Tou-san is agreed?" Kakashi asks, teasing his fellow Kage.

"A Kazekage's daughter must be strong and proud. She will be excellent," Gaara says, looking down at his young daughter with an expression close to adoration.


Further ahead, Uchiha Sasuke glowers at his part-time teammate, who's been sharing in missions more often in the last few months, standing in for their kunoichi teammate. Naruto would begin his training to become Hokage soon, and it was rare for past Hokage to go back into active duty without a damn good reason. In reality, three of the six had died while in office. The Shodai Hokage had retired entirely and died in his home years later, and the Godaime had gone back to her wanderings, establishing medical facilities among the five nations, with the occasional gambling break. Therefore, it is unlikely Kakashi-sensei would return to their team. Sasuke had begun to wonder if their infamous team would finally be dissolved.

It's somewhat hard to think about, he decides. Team Seven—and later, Team Kakashi—has existed for well over a decade, existed during his years as a missing nin, all its members surviving the Fourth War, and it was waiting for him when he returned from his self-imposed exile. Naruto, Sakura, Kakashi, and, to a lesser extent, Sai and Yamato, had all been cheerfully awaiting his return at the gates.

He looks down at the tiny life in his arms, smiles almost imperceptibly. Smooth round cheeks, slightly pink, a small nose, thin dark eyebrows, a head of dark hair, chubby arms and legs. His son looks like him, and by extension, much like his long-lost family. Sasuke thinks he looks quite a bit like his namesake, his uncle, and those who had known the elder Uchiha Itachi, namely Kakashi and Naruto, are inclined to agree. The younger Itachi does bear a striking resemblance, aside from one key factor, a feature from his non-Uchiha mother. Pretty, flared eyes framed by long lashes, their color dark but not black like traditional Uchihas long gone, but a dark blue, reminiscent of the night's sky. Darker than his mother's, more stunning than his father's.

Sasuke is distracted from thoughts of his son by the cheerful babbling of the grown man beside him. The pale, dark-haired Sai is holding his infant charge under his chubby arms, holding the little boy at eye height as he mutters nonsensically. The baby looks back at him utterly impassively, with green eye like his own mother, and Sasuke sweatdrops at the sight. With only that look, the infant could pass for an Uchiha.

"Sakura's going to beat you if she catches you acting like that. And hold him right. Support his head, for Kami's sake."

Sai adjusts the child in his arms and looks over at the other raven-haired man. "Ugly's instructions confuse me. The books I've read on the subject describe the importance of communicating with young children. I am merely trying to be understood by Shikamu."

"It's important to communicate with children in actual words. And the kid's a Nara, what you're doing is probably putting him into a lazy coma."

The little brunet sure seems to be entranced by sheer lazy idleness.

Definitely a Nara, Sasuke thinks, shaking his head. "Trust me, Sai. As a doctor, Sakura is an expert on all this baby stuff."

The artist shinobi quirks his head slightly and then nods. "I will trust in Ugly's expertise, then."

"And for the love of Kami, don't let her catch you calling her that today."


"This sure is taking a while," Tenten says to Shino, before shifting her attention back to the chubby, dark blond baby in her arms. "Isn't that right, Chourou? Quite a while."

The larger boy baby blinks up at her with pale blue eyes, before seeking out his sister, smaller than he is and lighter blonde. Her darker eyes, however, are firmly set on a shiny black beetle crawling over her babysitter's arm toward her.

"Ceremonies like these cannot always proceed perfectly smoothly. Why? Because emotions run high, and many things can go amiss."

"You're not seriously thinking something's up. Ino and Chouji's wedding was fairly calm, especially considering Ino was involved," Tenten points out, cuddling the elder Akimichi heir. Inoka, younger sister and Yamanaka heiress, apparently notices this, and whines, craving more affection.

"And Gaara and Hinata's wedding was like a dream," Tenten continues, fondly remembering the trip to Suna, the desert blossoms in bloom, the clear night sky. She looks over at Shino and blushes, recalling another enjoyable result of that wedding.

"Say, Shino-kun, when do you think Naruto and Atsuko-chan will finally get around to tying the knot?"

He considers that a moment, carefully holding little Inoka with one hand as he pushes his sunglasses back up into place.

"Sooner rather than later, I'm sure. Why? Because Naruto recently procured a ring for Atsuko, with help from Tsuchikage-sama and Kurotsuchi-sama."

"Iwa nin sure know their stuff about stones and gems," Naruto had confided to his male friends, no more than a month ago, referring both to his girlfriend, a former Iwa kunoichi before the Fourth War, and her former Kage and the old man's granddaughter.

"HE DID?!" Tenten exclaims excitedly.


Kiba glances over at his long-distance girlfriend as she elbows him in the ribs. Painfully.

"Do you think she's getting cold feet?" Karui asks quietly, gold eyes lingering at the front of the crowd, where Shikamaru, Chouji, Naruto, Ino, and Temari are waiting and talking quietly amongst themselves.

"Psh. Of course not. If I know anything about her, I know that she's sure in everything she does. Girl's been the epitome of confidence the last couple of years, which is saying something, if you knew anything about her back in the academy and genin days," Kiba divulges quietly.

"So she's fine?" Karui wonders, watching Shikamaru's hand move toward his collar again before Ino reaches over and slaps it away, and Temari twists to laugh at the poor guy's misfortune at the hands of his teammate.

"Oh yeah, she's fine," Kiba scoffs, and puts an arm around the redheaded Kumo kunoichi.

"By the way, I nearly forgot. Raikage-sama has assigned me to be the official Kumo ambassador to Konoha," she says with a sly smile, and it's all Kiba can do to grin and hoot and kiss her thoroughly.


"LEE! THE FLAMES OF YOUTH BURN BRIGHTLY IN YOUR GENERATION! YOUNG LOVE AND THE BIRTH OF THE NEXT GENERATION ABOUND!"

"YES GAI-SENSEI!"

"LEE!"

"GAI-SENSEI!"


"Aren't Gai and Lee supposed to be the ushers?" Kurenai asks worriedly.

"Yes," Kakashi admits, pinching the bridge of his nose and groaning.


"We weren't waiting so long at your weddings," Shikamaru accuses sullenly. Chouji and Ino smile at each other across the aisle, while Temari makes a face at him, mocking his nervousness. Naruto just laughs again, having as of yet avoided the entire shit storm that is a wedding.

"Ours was surprisingly calm, all things considered," Chouji agrees. Shikamaru remembers this, since he had stood as the Best Man. Even with Ino as the bride, everything was calm and had gone smoothly.

"The only drama from mine came from my husband," Temari says, rolling her eyes and glancing over at said man as he cradles the baby and continues bickering with Sai. Seemingly sensing her gaze, the Uchiha looks up at her and scowls, but they can all see the warmth in his dark eyes.

"Statistically, wedding drama was overdue," Ino says, smirking at her poor teammate.

"Oi, relax, Shikamaru! Everything is fine!" Naruto says boisterously, reaching around Chouji to clap Shikamaru on the back soundly. "A little wait is nothing, eh? Just means you'll be extra blown away when everything starts."

"Maybe I should just go check on Shikamu," the Nara says, moving to walk toward where his son is being cared for, but is stopped by the two blonde kunoichi waiting with him.

"Shikamu is fine. The kid is totally chill and lazy, just like you," Temari says, surreptitiously signaling to Nara Yoshino, who is just arriving from visiting with the bride. The Nara grandmother immediately moves to Sasuke and Sai, checking in on her grandson and eventually taking over for the oftentimes emotionally constipated member of Team Kakashi.

"See? Yoshino-obaachan has him. All good," Ino says, smiling as Yoshino lifts baby Shikamu to her chest and holds up one of his little hands to wave at the wedding party. Shikamaru waves back weakly, and then nods.

"Okay."

"See? All good…" Naruto repeats, before trailing off as he catches sight of something in the distance, eyes going slightly vague before his face breaks out in a sunny smile. "Hey, Atsuko-chan!"

The former Iwa kunoichi is standing near the door of the Nara household, her black hair pulled back into a chunky braid that has Sakura's handiwork written all over it and wearing a dark red dress reminiscent of the Iwa standard jounin uniform. She waves, beckoning him over, and Naruto is only too willing to comply. They chat quietly for a moment, Naruto nodding excitedly and Atsuko gesturing from time to time, and then they kiss and separate. The future Hokage of Konoha pops into the Nara household to call greetings, and then retreats back to the wedding party, grinning cheekily and revealing nothing.


For her part, Inoue Atsuko merges into the assembly of shinobi, clan members, and foreign dignitaries. She plans on watching the proceedings from here, with the dignitaries from her home village and friends she's made in her four years as ambassador to Konoha, and then as a transfer to the Village Hidden in the Leaves.

But now, Atsuko is on a mission, dark braid swinging behind her as mahogany eyes scan the crowd. She waves to Sai and Sasuke, her boyfriend's close friends, and then grins when she spots her target. The Godaime Hokage, Tsunade-sama, had given her this mission, and she's pleased it has been completed so quickly.

"Kakashi-sama," she calls as she approaches, gaining the attention of the Rokudaime Hokage, the former Team Kurenai and their significant others, and the other Kage and their chosen successors. She bows in the presence of the Village Leaders, smiles at her friends, and addresses the Hokage. "I believe it's time for you to make your way into position, Kakashi-sama."

He grunts slightly, correcting his robes. "You're just as bad as Sakura-chan, Atsuko-chan. You're practically a member of our bizarre team/family, and yet you two both insist on the –sama."

"It's all propriety," the former Iwa nin says cheerfully.

"You both just want to make me feel old," he accuses, before giving her one of his patented eye-smiles and heading toward the wedding party.

Still grinning, she chats quietly with Hinata and Gaara, cooing over Honoka for a moment, and then moves to stand by Onoki, the Sandaime Tsuchikage, and his granddaughter, Kurotsuchi, the soon-to-be Yondaime Tsuchikage, one of her oldest and dearest friends.

"How are you finding Konoha, Atsuko-chan?" Onoki asks, a faint smile spread over his features.

"Perfectly agreeable, Tsuchikage-sama. The climate is wonderful and the people as welcoming as the citizens of Iwa," Atsuko says politely.

Onoki and Kurotsuchi exchange a glance and smile, and Atsuko doesn't miss it.

"What?" she asks.

"What about the esteemed future Nanadaime?" Kurotsuchi grins mischievously.

Atsuko gapes at her childhood friend, and the future Tsuchikage cackles, even earning a few quieter chuckles from Onoki.

"Oh, come on, Atsuko-chan! Everyone in the Five Nations knows Uzumaki Naruto is sweet on you!" More than sweet, Kurotsuchi thinks to herself, winking over at her grandfather.

"It's true," Hinata says quietly, as Gaara nods.

"True," the Raikage and Darui nod.

"It's some of our best gossip in Kiri," the Mizukage, Mei, adds, Choujuro grinning and nodding as well.

All Atsuko can do is blush and stammer for an answer, before eventually just settling on punching Kurotsuchi in the arm. Hard.


Shikamaru's eyes light up as Kakashi-sensei approaches, and unlikely as it seems, the fidgeting stops. Temari and Ino look at each other and roll their eyes, even as they smile, while Naruto continues to grin and Chouji smiles warmly at his best friend. The two women adjust their dresses and brush strands of blonde bangs out of their eyes, and then Kakashi is in his spot in the middle of the walkway, standing just behind the younger shinobi.

"Let's get this started, eh?" he asks, eye-smiling and raising a hand to wave at the Nara household. Just inside a window, another hand is raised in acknowledgment, and the woman in a dark dress and short dark hair moves to the door.

The door swings open with a creak, gaining the attention of every self-respecting shinobi assembled. Shizune moves down the steps to the walkway first, holding the door open for the two women who will follow.

There are murmurs running through the crowd as the bride steps into the yard and Nara forest, holding onto the arm of her longtime mentor and mother figure. Comments fly on the ceremonial kimono, her hair, the woman herself.

The various remaining members of the Konoha Eleven are quiet, simply staring at their childhood friends and comrades. Some watch the bride, some watch the groom. Several look back and forth between the two, trying to catch every expression that passes over their faces.

The moment she steps out of what will soon be their shared home, Shikamaru's eyes are firmly glued to her, and they don't stray away.

She has defied traditional wedding garb that clans like the Hyuga and near-extinct Uchiha had long held to, because she has never been a member of a major shinobi clan, and she has never been one for tradition. And in the wake of an earth-shattering, nation-unifying Fourth War, traditions have been swept aside for a new generation, new trends emerging in the more unified and connected continent.

Yes, she is nontraditional, and her wedding attire is no exception, a modern gown. It is a gentle pinkish cream, rather than stark white. She says she wears white often enough with her doctor's coat. It is patterned and colorful, where traditional kimonos are white on more white, as she and Yoshino had worked on it for months, since probably even before his proposal, certainly before their son was born. Golden yellow twists are sewn into the skirt, twining up to her hips, similar to the antlers of the deer tended to by the members of his family. Interspersed between the amber antlers are oblong shapes of olive green, like the leaves of the Nara forest. Her bodice is otherwise plain, aside from the subtle texture of very fine lace along the square neckline and two thin lines of dark gold twirling over her ribs, and the lace covering her shoulders and arms. She wears a trailing, semi-sheer robe over her more colorful gown, allowing the designs to be shown but somewhat more whitewashed during the ceremony.

Her hair is still short, even slightly shorter than it had been during the Fourth War. It's curled somewhat now, something he's never seen on her before, and pinned back to keep it out of her vibrant eyes.

And he realizes that those eyes are on him, planted as firmly on him as his are on her. In that moment, he smiles, all traces of nervous energy cast away completely, and all that's left is a sense of calm and peace that's permeated his life ever since their relationship began, years and years ago, a feeling that only increased as their bond strengthened and their beloved son was born.

Really, the only time the calm had wavered had been during her pregnancy, when hormones coupled with her incredible (monstrous) strength had made for a somewhat terrifying second and third trimesters.

She's nearly reached him, and Chouji nudges him gently, bringing him back to semblance of reality. She smiles, seeing this, and it takes most of his willpower not to do something stupid like roll his eyes. Naruto is practically bouncing on the balls of his feet as she approaches, grinning at her, that grin usually reserved just for her, and she chuckles as Tsunade scoffs and does roll her eyes. Temari and Ino smile at their best friend, resplendent in their purple dresses, and she's glad they found the gowns in the color they both so favor.

And by then they're close enough to touch, and Tsunade is smiling at her and saying something to Kakashi-sensei, but she doesn't care because it's time and he's right there and she can barely breathe, forever a romantic despite her occupation and the realities of the world she lives in and the things she's seen and the experiences she's lived.

A strong hand wraps around hers, and she looks up into dark eyes. He's smiling down at her, and she can do nothing but smile back. This is home.

They turn their backs to the crowd to face the Rokudaime Hokage, the leader of their village, their friend and mentor, who officiates their union. In doing so, the assembly gains another view of the couple, stunning many and eliciting more murmurs. As her dress is designed like antlers and leaves, his dark robe is also decorated. A great tree runs the height of the robe, from his feet up, dark in color at the trunk, the branches and canopy spreading over and across his upper back and shoulders, leaves of olive green surrounding the occasional blossom of pink. In the middle of both their backs, the Nara clan symbol in amber gold.


Temari and Ino exchange a glance at this, smirking. Hinata and Atsuko, standing among the other villages' dignitaries, gasp at the beauty of the garments. Tenten, Shino, Kiba and Karui's eyes widen, while Sasuke smirks knowingly, and even Sai is wearing one of his somewhat vacant smiles. She had been working on both projects often enough when they went to visit.

"Hey, Shikamu," Sai says, lifting the Nara infant again. The baby's eyes seem to focus at the sight of familiar colors, in this case his parents' hair colors and styles, and Sasuke is reminded that yes, this child is a Nara, and thus bound to be a genius, but he is also his mother's son, and she's a genius in her own right. Along with being determined and driven as hell.

Kami, could this kid end up being a motivated Nara?

"Otou-chan and Okaa-chan," Sai says to the child, remembering Sasuke's earlier words, and he watches Nara Yoshino wipe her eyes beside him. So, these events elicit strong emotions.


"What took you so long?" Shikamaru whispers as Kakashi starts his officiating, glancing over at his very-soon-to-be wife.

She grins, looking at him out of the corner of her very green eyes. "Nervous?"

"Absolutely not."

Temari snorts at this, Ino and Chouji chuckle, and Naruto coughs a few times, trying to choke back his louder laughter. Shikamaru shoots them all dirty looks, and appears thoroughly betrayed as his bride giggles at his misfortune.

"To be fair, he only said 'troublesome' once," Ino divulges quietly once her laughter subsides.

"A wedding day miracle."

"Don't get used to it," Naruto mutters cheerfully.

"You didn't answer my question," Shikamaru says, ignoring the others, before responding to Kakashi's prompt. One step closer.

"Just because you're lazy doesn't mean I'm going to stop being a perfectionist. Especially on my wedding day," she tells him with a grin, before repeating what he had just said himself, once again at Kakashi's prompting. They stop whispering after this, focusing on Kakashi's words fully.

Kakashi spoke a bit longer, vows were spoken, rings exchanged. Two Nara clan symbols shimmer as the couple turns, and kiss. Applause start up, a few tears are shed, laughter is shared, and Naruto even starts up some wild cheering, which Kiba and Lee and several others are all to willing to join, until the wailing of four very young children start up. Yoshino approaches, kissing her son and new daughter-in-law, and then deposits her grandson into the arms of his mother, who cheerfully begins kissing and cuddling the baby, eliciting giggles and happy squealing.


Two hours later, photos have been taken, formal clothing have been switched for looser, lighter garb, and the Nara forest has been decorated with string lights in the tree branches and bunches of colorful wildflowers. Genin teams have been called in to babysit children, and everyone has reassembled.

The only ones who haven't changed their clothes are the bride and groom, who hadn't really had the time even if they wanted. He takes off his robe with the gorgeous tree design, wearing what looks suspiciously like standard shinobi blacks underneath, while she has carefully set aside her sheer outer robe, leaving her long, decorated dress and lace sleeves exposed.

Ino tucks a pretty white flower into her hair behind her ear, admires her new wedding band, and Chouji hands Shikamaru a drink, only allowing him a sip before the two shove their respective newly married best friend toward each other, and the dance floor. Both blush, and then he takes her into his arms as the music begins and they start to sway.

Somewhere else in the crowd, watching the first dance, Temari feels her husband stiffen at her side, unusual for a shinobi of his caliber, and looks up at Sasuke as his Sharingan activates, three tomoe swirling in the red iris. Further off, Hinata activates her Byakugan at the same time, drawing the attention of her Kazekage-husband, as well as Naruto and Atsuko, who she had been chatting with up until a moment ago.

"What is it?" Temari asks.

"There are chakra signatures here. Familiar, but not supposed to be possible," he responds, before smiling slightly and deactivating his doujutsu, red eyes swirling back to onyx.

Hinata smiles when she's asked the same question, recognizing the chakra signatures more easily than Sasuke had. "Some old friends are just here to check in," she says, the protruding veins around her eyes relaxing, though she keeps an ear turned in the direction she had been looking.


In the shadows of the Nara forest, invisible to the party-goers, two men stand together quietly, watching their precious people celebrate, smiling gently and laughing from time to time. The scarred face of Nara Shikaku stays turned exclusively to his son, daughter-in-law, and wife, while Sarutobi Asuma's cigarette bobs now and then as he looks to his wife, former students, old friends.

"Remember what he used to say all the time?" Asuma asks, turning to look at the dancing newlyweds again.

"He'd have an average career. Marry an average woman, not too beautiful, not too plain. Have a daughter and then a son. Retire when his daughter marries and his son can provide for himself," Shikaku responds, laughing lightly.

"Exactly. And not one point of that's turned out accurate," Asuma chuckles. "Hell, he went and married a strong, beautiful woman, the Godaime's apprentice, a Sannin in her own right. The only woman in all the Five Nations with pink hair!"

"The Nara curse continues," Shikaku mutters gently, his eyes turning to his beloved Yoshino again.

"Better watch out for that son of theirs," Asuma points out.

Shikaku smiles, watching his son and his son's wife spin around the dance floor in the forest, smiling and laughing and whispering to each other. So much like he and Yoshino had been on their wedding day. "Shikamaru and Sakura will be just fine."

Asuma only nods his head and grins.


"Thank you," Shikamaru whispers, holding his wife's hand over his heart and tightening his grip on her waist, drawing her closer.

"What for?" Sakura asks in surprise, smirking. "Being not-so-troublesome?"

"You're definitely always troublesome," he responds, grinning when she pouts at him. "Thank you for this. For our son. For being you. For being mine."

She smiles up at him, jade eyes suddenly seeming suspiciously bright and shiny. "Thank you for all those things, too. For putting up with troublesome, for giving me Shikamu. For loving me."

And under the clouds and stars and string lights, as their friends and other couples move to join them on the dance floor, they kiss again, her hands fisting into his shirt, his fingers framing her face and gently pressing into her neck and soft pink hair, and for a moment, there's no reception, no fancy clothes and heels and dignitaries and friends. There's just Shikamaru and Sakura under the boughs of the trees, kissing in the shadows.