"You know guys, I've been thinking. Maybe we should start having our weekly get together somewhere else?" The soft sound of a turning page accentuated the silence produced by the blonde's bold statement. Not receiving any verbal response, her blue eyes turned from the medical textbook that was her current interest to the two shinobi seated parallel to her. "And you can stop looking at me like I committing some kind of sacrilege. It's just a suggestion."
"But we love this place, don't we? The food is great and it feels like we're family here. We've been coming here for years." Her large companion paused to chew another bite of meat; he had pilfered it from her section of the grill while Ino was distracted. "Besides, this is where Sensei always brought us."
"I know I'm going to regret asking, but what exactly brought this on?" A calloused finger lazily played with the sticky sauce left on an otherwise empty plate.
"Do you guys know what the leading cause of death among retired shinobi is?" Chouji shook his head in the negative while Shikamaru groaned to himself, not really in the mood for another one of the girl's lectures. "It's heart disease. Any idea what its leading causes are? No? Well, let me enlighten you. The leading cause of heart disease in shinobi is, and I quote, 'the frequent and excessive consumption of foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol.' Would you guys like to see a picture?"
"We just ate, woman. Save that crap for later." The dark-haired man shoved the textbook back to her side of the table with a sigh. "I have to head out. I'm stuck escorting that troublesome Sand woman again."
"Oh, poor Shika." The blonde teased will a roll of her eyes. "We all know you love it."
"Whatever, Ino." Placing a few bills on the table, the shadow-user rose to leave. "Just let me know where to meet next week."
"Yeah, yeah. Now get going. You wouldn't want to keep that lovely lady waiting." Ino winked and giggled as the man left. His only response was a mere shrug of his shoulders. With one team member gone, the kunoichi turned her attention back to the companion remaining. "So, Chouji... Hey, earth to Chouji!"
"Ah! Oh, sorry about that. I was just thinking, that's all." The man scratched at a non-existent itch on his cheek, trying to distract from the embarrassment upon his face. "Um, do you think it would be okay for me to study some with you? You know, about the stuff you were talking about?"
"Sure." Amazement slowly spread from ear to ear, manifesting upon her face in a genuine smile. "You're full of surprises, you know that? You're the last person I thought would be interested in healthy eating."
"If it'll help me live longer, I'm willing to try it. I can't protect you if my heart gives out, can I?" Emotion flickered through his eyes as he spoke and caused the girl to avert her gaze in discomfort, pink dusting her cheeks. Chouji's expression softened and in consideration he redirected the conversation. "Besides, maybe it'll have other benefits. Maybe I'll figure out the magic formula to eating your way to better chakra!"
"Maybe." The blonde rose to leave, her unease having lifted with her companion's good humor. Ino let Chouji take the last of the meat for himself, before prodding him into action. "Come on. Let's go get you educated."
"Hey Ino, we still meeting tomorrow?"
"Of course. Are those for that Sand woman?" Ino grabbed the reluctantly offered bouquet and set about wrapping it for sale.
"Yes. And you know, I do call her Temari now."
"Well, I would hope so. You're a lazy enough boyfriend as it is." After adding a flourish to the wrapping in way of an intricate bow, the kunoichi handed the bouquet back to her teammate. "Here, she'll love them. That'll be a thousand yen."
"Yep." Neatly kept nails tapped the counter in mock impatience as the man rummaged through his pockets. "Oh, I almost forgot. Chouji says we need to meet an hour later tomorrow. Apparently, Chouza is so impressed with the results of the new eating regimen that he wants Chouji to introduce it to the clan."
"So, our usual tomorrow at seven?"
"Yeah. Zousui Kichi at seven."