Author: Snow Tigra
Pairings: Shikamaru & Chouji
Warnings: This fic takes place after Chapter 328 and does contain a spoiler or two for what happened. Mostly fluffy cuteness that really Shikamaru needs. OMG it's not an alternate universe fic! O.o
The cigarette tasted bitter as he set it against his lips, looking up at the sky and inhaling. His throat tried to close at the now familiar taste and his entire body yelled at him for smoking again, before it too gave in, pretending the taste was actually good, pretending the feeling was relaxing. He leaned back in the grass, looking up at the sky. The clouds were gray again, they'd been gray for the last couple of days, ever since they'd returned from the mission with his body.
Shikamaru coughed a bit, still not used to the bitter taste, but not willing to stop. Something about smoking when he thought about that day just felt right. Though, sadly, he'd be out of cigarettes soon, having thought about the day a lot in the last few. He'd lost track of how much he was smoking now, but he knew the smoke didn't make his eyes water any more and most of the time he told himself it tasted good. He was getting used to it... which meant that he'd been doing it a lot.
Shikamaru closed his eyes, one hand resting on his chunnin vest as he listed to the sounds around him. For a moment he wondered how he would die, given the missions he went on. Would he be tricked into a trap, given a quick death he couldn't stop? Would he be injured in battle and be forced to be lazy, rather then by choice? Would he live through every mission, only to die in some hospital bed when he was the age of the old hokage, too frail to even lift another cigarette in honor of his teacher?
None of them sounded appealing, really.
But one of them would happen... eventually.
Today, even thinking seemed troublesome.
Footsteps approached slowly from the side and Shikamaru barely acknowledged them. Last time it had been Ino, trying to cheer him up with flowers of all things. What in the world had possessed her to think he would like flowers was beyond him, but he had to give her a little credit for trying. It wasn't his fault that she'd become so frustrated and had started yelling at him to wake up and do something. That wasn't his fault really, people should just let him alone to grieve on his own. That was really all he wanted. So whoever was walking toward him... he didn't really care.
The footsteps stopped and he could hear whoever it was sitting down on the grass, setting out something between them. Then there was the sound of many small wooden pieces. Shikamaru opened his eyes, looking over.
Chouji was the one sitting next to him know, the old and used shogi board sitting between them. He'd spilled the pieces over the ground and was now giving all his concentration to trying to remember where the pieces should be placed on the board. He hadn't even opened his bag of chips yet.
Shikamaru sat up. "When did you learn to play?"
The chubby boy blinked and sat up a bit, his red jump suit looking bare without the armor and familiar emblem he always wore now. "Oh.. Shikamaru... I thought maybe you'd like... well you and Asuma always..." Chouji's eyes watered a bit at the mention of the name as he stumbled through his words. Shikamaru watched his nervous hands place the pieces randomly on the board as he tried to calm down.
Reaching forward he began moving the pieces to the correct spaces for Chouji.
"Shikamaru, you should teach me."
Shikamaru couldn't help but blink at that one. This was new, Chouji had never shown interest in the game before. ".... why?"
And at that Chouji just gave a small smile. "So you still have someone to play with. I know I'm not as smart as you or Asuma but I can learn to be... and umm... I'll share my chips while we play."
Silence stretched between the two as Shikamaru watched Chouji and the board. Then, after a long moment, he took the cigarette from his mouth, crushing it in the grass. No, Chouji wasn't as smart... but sometimes, in his caring way, he was so brilliant it just astounded Shikamaru.
Today was just one of those days.