A darkening sky rolled over Konoha, the previously bright blue sky, being hidden behind storm clouds promising a long-awaited rainfall. The shopkeepers rushed to cover their merchandise, cafe and restaurant owners covered their outside seating areas. Civilians darted for cover from the coming rain, and the shinobi population groaned at the thought of having to go on missions in the rain.
As the first rumble of thunder hit, a group of shinobi were just placing their orders in a popular restaurant. The Pantry was an Akimichi owned place, with wide booths and plenty of space. Given the clan who owned the Pantry, the food was loving prepared and bountiful. The decor was designed with shinobi in mind. Each booth had sturdy wooden half height wall to help with privacy, and lower the paranoia of the ninjas.
"So Shikaku, where is the guest of honour?" A light-hearted voice asked.
A snort was heard before a voice drawled "Avoiding responsibility probably". The voice belonged to a brown-haired ninja, with two scars across his face. He was leaning his face on his hand, a cup of sake in his other, as he sighed and looked out of the window.
A young female voice rang out from the booth.
"You mean Shikamaru is being lazy… AGAIN! This always happens! What was Lady Tsunade thinking promoting them?? Sasuke-kun would have been a better choice. He is amazing, not lazy, and so hot!"
A blonde ponytail was being flipped around, as the girl gestured angrily. "Seriously, why is Shikamaru late now??? Choji and I confirmed time and place earlier."
The five ninja sat at the booth in silence, before a gentle voice broke through. "Can we just order? If Shika turns up, we can always order more then? No point waiting around when they may not turn up."
Before anyone else could answer a shriek was heard. "CHOJI, DO YOU EVER THINK ABOUT ANYTHING OTHER THAN FOOD?? YOU'VE JUST FINISHED A PACKET OF BBQ CRISPS!" The blonde whacked her rather round companion with her menu before sitting down and huffing loudly. As the two started to bicker quietly, well the girl was bickering and Choji gave the occasional reply, the three older ninjas looked on with amusement.
"A round of sake says they end up together when they are older" was offered by the older blonde.
Two smirks crossed the other two weathered faces. "No deal" they chorused. All three turned their attention back to the two fighting ninja.
"Ino, leave Choji be, and decide on your order" the elder blonde said firmly.
"But Daddy..." Ino whined, before her father gave her a stern look, and she reluctantly opened her menu. Fight ended, the five ninja placed their orders, all of them shooting looks out into the pouring rain, looking for their missing member.
Honey coloured eyes flickered open as the first drops of rain hit. A sigh rang through the clearing in the forest, before their owner sat up. Glancing at the sky, the figure sighed again.
"Oh man, what a drag. It's going to be troublesome going home in this, especially when that troublesome woman at home is going to nag me about coming home soaked."
With a catlike grace the figure stretched and pulled themselves to their feet, their eyes darting around the clearing, they had claimed as theirs. Lightning steamed across the sky, illuminating the clearing, with its little waterfall, and wildflowers. The figure turned, and started to walk off into the forest, feet dragging as they went. Some of the more adventurous deer poked their heads out of their dens to watch the figure walk past. Two of the stags followed just in the tree line to escort the grumbling human home.
"Oh man, I completely slept through dinner with Ino, Choji, and our fathers. What a drag, Ino is going to be troublesome. Why did I have to be on a team with her? She only ever yells at me, or Choji; or she's waxing lyrically about Sasuke. I mean what's so good about him? Such a drag." A sigh followed this rant, and they continued their slow walk towards their compound, taking the time to enjoy the peace the falls over the forest during Konoha's rainy season. A part of their brain dedicated simply to taking in the serenity surrounding them before they get to civilization again. The other part was split between running through mental calculations for a new game plan on shogi, and keeping an eye on the surroundings. After the invasion of Sand and Sound, every shinobi of the hidden leaf walked with one eye on their environment. The paranoia was slowly starting to die down, now the village had been rebuilt, and the new Hokage was in power.
It was this heightened sense of paranoia that helped the girl catch the sight of a doe in distress. Slinking closer on silent feet so as not to scare the doe, the girl found the deer standing at the edge of hole. This hole looked to be the opening to an old well, its sides overgrown with greenery and decades of fallen leaves. Peering into the well, the girl could see light glint off the frightened eyes of a fawn. It wasn't a long way to drop, but still for a fawn it was a scary fall, and not easy to get out.
"What a drag." The girl muttered before switching to soothing sounds, and giving the doe a quick stroke. She lowered herself down the shallow well to land next to the little deer, murmuring sweet nothings to help calm the fawn.
"It's okay little one, you recognise me. I'll get you out of here and back to your mother. Just let me make sure you're uninjured." The girls voice lost its lazy edge as she spoke to the fawn. Her hands running gently over its body, checking for any damage.
"Looks like the Gods were watching over you little one. You're in perfect health, except being down a well."
Coaxing the fawn to stand, she crouched down and scooped the trembling body into her arms. Its spindly legs pressing into her stomach as she used her chakra to jump out of the well. Landing next to the worried doe, she put the fawn down onto its hooves, keeping steady hands on its body, until she was convinced it could stand and walk on its own.
With a grateful nuzzle from the doe, and a playful headbutt from the fawn, the girl made her way back to her original path, watching the doe lead her baby away. A gentle smile quirked her lips, as she continued her way, her uniform soaked from the rain and the well. Her mind noting the wells location to come back and cover it properly the next day. Hey, maybe she could use the fawn as an excuse for missing dinner? Nah, probably not. Ino was already on her back about skipping meals, no way she'd accept that. With a sigh, she looked up as warm yellow light began to illuminate her path. The forest growing thinner and thinner as she approached her clans compound. The shadows on the ground swirled in the light, racing each other in their patterns. A large wooden building rose in front of her, a porch wrapping round the edge. Light was spilling from an open door, hindered by two figures waiting for her. Lifting a hand in acknowledgement, she continued her unhurried pace towards them. Part of her wanted this walk to go on forever, to put off the inevitable confrontation, the other wanted to get it over with so she could have a warming shower.
"SHIKAMARU! Where have you been girl? Its pouring out there, and your father told me you never turned up for your celebration dinner! Well?"
A voice yelled at her, before she was dragged inside, the door closing behind her as she was pushed towards the stairs.
"Go get out of those wet clothes, and have a shower, I'll heat you something to eat." Her mother ordered, before turning to go into the kitchen with Shikaku.
Sighing, Shikamaru trudged up the stairs and into her bathroom. Her hands stripping her clothes off and into the basket, before she stepped into the shower. The water scolding her frozen skin, as it ran down her body. Lathering her hair with shampoo, as she turned her thoughts to the conversation that was undoubtedly about to happen.
"Why does she insist on nagging me? Just cos she has dad whipped doesn't mean she needs to nag me too."
Rinsing her hair and finishing up her shower before her mother came up to hurry her, Shikamaru stepped out and wrapped the soft towel around herself. Stroking the fluffy deep green towel, she ran her fingers over the embroidered Nara clan symbol. Grounding herself, and quieting her ever racing mind. It was a technique her dad had drilled into her as a child. Nara's are known to have ever racing minds, and sometimes they need something to help them simply shut their brain down for a bit. It's this reason that they always seem lazy. Unfortunately, the big intellect seems to mean insomnia is hereditary. To combat this, most Naras nap during the day, and sleep when they can at night. Maybe it had something to do with Yin chakra? Their clan jutsu was draining on the yin, and didn't use yang at all. As she contemplated this, and made a mental note of a few books to look up about this, a bang on the door shook her from her thoughts.
"Shika-chan, are you okay? Dinner is on the table, come down before it gets cold." Her mother's voice sounded. Reminding her of the need to get downstairs, and fast, before her mum lost her temper.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m on my way mum.” Shikamaru sighed, and slipped into a soft pair of black sweatpants, and a t-shirt. She dragged herself out of the bathroom, and down the stairs. Pausing at the entrance to the kitchen, and Shika inhaled slowly to brace herself for the coming interrogation. On silent feet, Shikamaru stepped into the warmth of the kitchen and seated herself next to her father; where a bowl of rice and vegetables had been placed, and waited patiently. For a heartbeat no-one said anything, then her father nudged her with his elbow.
“Eat, Shika. Ino-chan was telling me that you aren’t eating enough recently. To be a competent ninja, you need to be healthy… That means eating enough at meals.”
“That also means not skipping organised meals, Shikamaru! So where were you this evening?” Her mother cut across Shikaku. Her voice hard and unyielding.
“It’s bad enough that you’re too lazy to do anything, you never train, you’ve decided to be a school teacher, and you’ve shown no interest in starting to prepare for the jounin promotion board in a few years; you’ve been avoiding your family! Why, Ino-chan told me you never go to team 10 lunches now, or their missions; nor do you train with them!”
Shikamaru’s normally light-coloured eyes, darkened as shadows flickered across them. Frustration caused her tense muscles to tremble. The more her mother ranted, the more the room darkened. The natural shadows responding to Shika’s mood, drawing closer and closer. She wasn’t just angry at her mother for the constant yelling; she was also feeling betrayed by Ino. How dare she go behind her back and discuss Shika with her parents. After all, Ino was the one on constant diets. Ino was the one that kept berating her and Choji, so much so, they avoided spending too much time with her. Ino was the one that said Shika shouldn't go on missions with them, because Ino found it uncomfortable having Shikamaru as the chunin of the group. As her mother continued her rant, and demands, Shikamaru made her mind up to leave. There was no point in her saying anything, or defending herself. Her father wouldn’t rein in his wife, he never had before so why would he now?
She stood abruptly, and pushed her untouched food away, cutting her mother off mid-sentence. Spinning on her heel, she walked away. Stopping at the door, she glanced back over her shoulder.
“I’m going to bed, thank you for the food. Don’t bother making breakfast or dinner for me tomorrow, I’ll sort myself.”
As her mother spluttered and stumbled over her words, Shikaku spoke up.
“Shikamaru, do not walk away from us, I haven’t dismissed you from my table yet. You walk away now, and there will be consequences.”
With a huff, Shikamaru continued her walk away, continuing up the stairs to slam her bedroom door...