Disclaimer: Naruto is the property of Masashi Kishimoto.
Chapter 1 - Where it started.
She was nice enough, figured Shikamaru, scrutinizing the young lady seated across the booth from him. Cute smile, if not a little plain, and Chouji sure seemed to like her.
And thus ended Shikamaru's in-depth (?) critique of Chouji's newest girlfriend, the guest of honor at tonight's dinner. Like with every new girlfriend, he was dead-set on having his ex-team meet her first and foremost, seeing as they were practically family or something. It was a thoughtful, well-directed gesture, Shikamaru supposed. If you ignored what it was doing to his seatmate.
Said seatmate was currently being a total pain-in-the-ass, nuzzling her head against her drink while mumbling bitter nothings into the crook of her arm. Typically, one didn't plan new partner get-togethers when one of the invited party (especially the over-emotional, borderline-psychotic portion) had just been cheated on by her fourth boyfriend this year. But this was Chouji. He never thought of these things.
"…I just love animals," Yurina was saying brightly. "I volunteer at the shelter every Saturday. Chouji's offered to start volunteering with me!"
Shikamaru just gave what he hoped came off as a polite nod at this saccharine statement, glancing at Ino to see what it was doing to her. In the space of the last few sentences, she had nearly melted into the tabletop. With a mumbled troublesome, Shikamaru rolled his eyes and started filling a plate up with anything and everything he figured would sop up the seven drinks in his ex-teammate's empty stomach and passed it to her with a nudge. Tripe? Hell, that looked spongy enough.
Ino just glanced at the piled-high platter of cow stomach and bread and threw Shikamaru the sourest look she could muster. "Waitress?" She called, interrupting some story Yurina was telling about Chouji sending her flowers 'that matched her eyes'. "Can you bring me a double?"
"Are you going to be okay?"
"She'll be fine," answered Shikamaru, cutting off what would likely be a drunken, pessimistic and relationship-hating rant from Ino, who was currently supporting herself with one arm looped around his neck.
"Shikamaru'll get her home okay." This from Chouji, who, in his perpetual optimism, hadn't sensed that he was the source of all Ino's current woes. Then again, this was the tenth time she had pulled this sort of business on them in the last two years, so Shikamaru supposed that most people just learned to acclimatize.
To this, Shikamaru just sighed. This was beyond troublesome. Couldn't he have ended up in Team 7, with one of the members gone AWOL? Wouldn't that have been nice?
Ino gave his neck a hard tug in an effort to stand a little straighter. "It was nice meeting you, Yurina," she managed, slightly slurred and semi-sweet.
"Oh, you too! Both of you."
She was a nice girl. Chouji always chose the nicest girls. And with Chouji being pretty much the best guy Shikamaru knew, he figured that seemed about right. Which left all the not-so-nice girls for the rest of the world, he figured, hefting one not-so-nice girl's arm higher on his shoulders. And it was time to get her home. "Yeah, you too. We'll see you around."
"—figure they'll be happy, but zzzzeriously. How long does that shit last?"
"Ino," said Shikamaru wearily.
"I swear, relationships are the stupidest thing all times...ever. Ever! Couldn't I have just been promised to someone in an arranged marriage?"
"Ino," he repeated, a little forcefully. This jarred her out of her drunken rant. "We're here. Where are your keys?"
Which began a procession of swear words and pocket fumbling that seemed to drag on for hours. Shikamaru just waited. "I... might have dropped them?" Ino finished glumly.
What a pain in the ass. "Then knock on the door. Your parents should be home."
Well, that was a nope if she had ever seen one. "Shikamaru," Ino said with a tone reserved for speaking to children, pointing at her watch only a little drunkenly and missing, poking her forearm instead. "It's… two-thirty in the morning."
"My dad's got to be at Interrogation for 5:30."
Ino huffed, listing off the offenses on the finger of one hand. "Uh, he'll kill me for coming home this drunk, this late and on a Tuesday night?" Except Tuesday night was a little slurred and came off as 'Tuezzzayight'.
Shikamaru felt like pointing out the fact that all her bad decisions had been entirely of her own doing, and she should have stopped around the four-drink mark, like himself, but that was just too troublesome. Instead, he shoved his hands deeper into his pockets and just looked at her expectantly. "So?"
"Let me stay at your place."
Ino scowled prettily at him. "Selfish! You live by yourself, there's no one to wake up! I'll be gone first thing in the morning, promise."
Shikamaru was sure he had an untapped reservoir of willpower somewhere deep, deep inside of him. And once he figured out how to actually tap into it around all the scary/manipulative women in his life, then the quality of said life would likely start improving.
When Shikamaru exited the kitchen with a large glass of water, Ino was struggling with her shirt around her head. She gave a drunken hop, hoping to coax the offending garment off of her. It was kind of funny, except for the fact that the movement caused an eye-pleasing motion across her bra-clad chest.
Shikamaru, being what was considered the polar opposite of stupid, had certainly not somehow missed the fact that his ex-teammate was a considerably attractive girl. That is, until she opened her mouth. Fortunately, the many years he had spent with her had left him considerably more acquainted with the abovementioned mouth rather than the well-proportioned possessor of the mouth all the guys had started noticing when they turned fourteen. Shikamaru figured he was almost entirely immune to her charms. Still, better safe than sorry. He made his way over to the dresser.
"Do you have a tank top…" she was mumbling, fumbling for a long while through a drawer he was sure most people would have long ago realized held only socks.
"Yeah, hold on," he opened the appropriate drawer and found the largest shirt in his smallish collection, long enough and high-necked enough to hide all of her considerable assets. There was no use in having her pop out of one of his undershirts and catching him by surprise, after all. He was only almostentirely immune.
She tugged it on with only a slight lack of coordination, taking a moment to give it a deep sniff. Shikamaru caught the motion. "Sorry, I might've worn that once. Want me to give you a clean one?"
Ino shook her head, looking a little dazed. "No, it smells good."
Now she was being weird. Great. "There," Shikamaru pointed out the glass on water on the bedside table. "Drink all of it, and go to sleep."
In a miraculous twist, Ino obliged him without any further argument. She did try to drink the glass of water and attempt to remove the skirt she was wearing under his shirt at the same time, which made for a pretty hilarious show. But before long she was nestled neatly under the covers, her soft snuffling the beginnings of a snore.
Which meant that Shikamaru now needed to go through his disaster of a closet for an extra sleeping bag, having lent out his usual mission pack (and his primary sleeping bag) to the absentminded Naruto a week ago. Meaning it would be weeks -- no, months -- before he saw it again. Troublesome.
"What are you looking for?" Ino asked him softly, partially passed out.
"Sleeping bag," replied Shikamaru, not looking up from his search.
"What's wrong with the bed? It's big enough for you, me, and Chouji."
Shikamaru considered this for a moment. It was true; when he had moved out of his family home following his (unwanted) promotion to assistant head of Cipher ops (Tsunade had threatened him with bodily harm should he decline), Shikamaru was dead set on putting aside the appropriate funds to make his bed – his most beloved piece of furniture – the best damned thing in the whole apartment. Which he had most certainly accomplished. In fact, the rest of the apartment was painfully sparse for its size (a fact that Ino had bemoaned many a time when she had come to visit and needed to sit on the floor), containing only the most necessary of kitchen furniture, a single dresser and a small desk that he both worked and ate at. The bed, on the other hand, was the biggest one he could fit through the front door. A worthy investment, it turned out, considering how much time he spent in it.
Fine. The sleeping bag wasn't going to be found within the next little while, after all. And there might have been an old, forgotten sandwich in that closet Shikamaru most certainly didn't want to encounter again. And, after all, they had slept in closer quarters before on long mission nights, in cramped tents in the woods. To be fair, those were back in the pre-pubescent days, but Shikamaru tried not to think about that.
So he climbed into bed beside his ex-teammate, she pointed out a slurred breakdown of which side of the bed belonged to whom and he only half-noticed that her hair smelled like flowers before he fell into a deep sleep.