A/N: For Prism, in payment for services rendered (meaning she was nice and made the team_10 community an icon ^_^). Possible spoilers for the 190's of the manga, or possible AU past the 190's. Implied ChouShika.

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"Days Without Clouds"

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The sky has never been so blue before. There isn't a cloud in sight.

Chouji hates it.

Shikamaru has, since the first day Chouji met him, always been obsessed with clouds. Chouji has never understood exactly what it is that Shikamaru sees in them, but he doesn't ask. If Shikamaru wanted him to know he'd have said something.

He very much hates such a clear sky, though.

If there were clouds out today, Chouji would know exactly where to look for Shikamaru, but with none, he can't even begin to imagine where the other boy is at the moment. So instead he wanders the village, wondering. Where oh where could Shikamaru be?

He finds the other sitting next to one of the village's countless memorial markers. Another testament to the dead; another hundred families out a member.

Perhaps he should have known after all.

"Hi, Shikamaru," he says. Shikamaru doesn't say anything. But then again, it wasn't like Chouji expected him to. He sits next to the other, watching his friend's fingers rubbing over one of the newer names carved on the stone.

"I failed you," Shikamaru says quietly.

"I wanted to stay," Chouji tells him with a sigh. "You know that."

But Shikamaru can't hear him now.

Chouji really hates being dead.

It's so . . . tiresome.

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. : i never saw blue like that before . . . : .