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Their Bed

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Ino was a space hog. 

Chouji, of course, would never tell her that to her face. Shikamaru did, on multiple occasions, and she mostly just whacked him about the shoulders and yelled about how it wasn’t her fault she got the ‘pig’ in the ‘pig-deer-butterfly’ formation, it was just bad luck. 

Just how much of a space hog their kunoichi was had never really been evident until after much tribulation they finally got The Bed. 

The capitals were required when speaking about it, for not only was it beyond standard king size (a requirement when any member of the relationship, multiple partners or no, had the surname Akimichi), it had taken them four tries to get the dimensions correct. Each time they had to send it back, they had to deal with the same extremely loud and boisterous moving crew. Both Ino and Chouji had feared they would need to lock Shikamaru in the bathroom to prevent any suspiciously normal deaths. 

Shikamaru had managed to restrain himself and their bedroom was now graced with what Sakura had called, “Frankly, Ino-pig, the single most comfortable looking piece of ridiculousness in all of Konoha.” 

Ino assured her boys that coming from Sakura, that was a compliment. They decided to believe her because it was easier than trying to unravel the mystery of the Sakura-Ino dynamic. Shikamaru had a corner of his brain dedicated to crunching the formula, but he figured it would take another three years to get something like an answer.  

So. At last, they had The Bed, and it had the perfect mattress and it was the perfect height and the first night they all laid on it together Chouji’s weight didn’t shift Ino and Ino’s elbows didn’t poke Shikamaru in the ribs and Shikamaru could swing his legs without tangling all of the sheets and it was practically perfect in every way.  

Right up until the next morning. 

When both Shikamaru and Chouji found themselves sleeping on their sides on the edges of their Perfect Bed, because Ino had somehow managed to sprawl-eagle herself diagonally and was face-down straight up dead to the world. 

Ino had been working hard, of late; her father’s death had created a void in the Intel department that she was determined to fill by herself, lack of experience be damned. Other Yamanaka clan members had conspired with Shikamaru and Chouji to get her to relax but no matter the shopping trip, the tempting meal, the intimate afternoon she always managed to get back to her desk. 

Maybe she was just very tired. 

Chouji made the suggestion and Shikamaru made a somewhat-agreeing noise which was Shikamaru for ‘you’re probably wrong but I'm overclocked so let's hope you're right’. 

The problem was it just kept happening. They would go to sleep, Ino snuggled between Shikamaru and Chouji, and the next morning one man or the other would be crammed into a corner or off to the side while Ino laid prone at the end of her midnight gymnastics routine. 

Maybe if Ino had seemed well rested both men would have left well enough alone. Chouji was too easy-going, and Shikamaru too passive, to really be bothered by weird sleeping arrangements. Only Ino didn't seem well rested and that didn't sit well with either of them. The bags under her eyes were pronounced no matter what expensive makeup she used and her troubled cousin reported catnaps at her desk.

When things reached a head, Chouji sat her down and said to her “Ino, you're not sleeping very well.” 

The way Ino shuffled told Chouji she was well aware. 

“What is it?” He asked, taking her hands in his, and when Shikamaru got home from yet another day of convincing Kakashi that no, sneaking out to check up on Naruto’s latest Icha Icha draft could not be justifiably be called billable hours, he found his girlfriend crying all over his boyfriend, who was rubbing her back and making soothing noises. 

When Shikamaru sat down Ino threw herself at him to and all she would say was ‘I’m sorry’ as Chouji quietly explained that Ino had been having nightmares. 

Nightmares where she was reaching out for them and they were pulling away. 

Nightmares that made her reach out and brush them, which they instinctually, after years of training and one world war, pulled back from. 

Which made the dreams worse. 

Shikamaru stroked Ino’s hair and his eyes got far away. 

When he came back, he said, “I have it.” 

Because of course he did. 

It did necessitate a change to an old sleeping pattern, one they had maintained in their genin days while out on missions (one tent was harder to spot than two,) a change which Chouji wasn’t entirely certain was a good idea. Even with their Bed, the inevitable sinking of the mattress would result in overheating and piling and Ino hated rolling in her sleep Shikamaru are you sure?

"I'm sure,” Shikamaru said, and that was that.  

So that night when they laid down, Chouji settled into the middle. Shikamaru was on his left, Ino on his right, and his big arms wrapped around them both.
The morning sun found the three in mostly the same position, only across Chouji’s wide chest one of Shikamaru’s hands had entwined with Ino’s. Her pointy elbows were bent away and Shikamaru’s legs had only half-tangled in the sheets. 

It wasn’t perfect and never would be, but perfection was boring. 

Their bed never was.