Sorry, I forgot to mention in the previous chapter that the story is somewhat OOC, so yup, it is. I also forgot to thank my wonderful beta Kaka-C, thanks for this chapter and the previous one!

Disclaimer: Naruto = not mine.

When Geniuses Fall in Love

Chapter 2: Wit

This was not cool. This was not remotely cool. In fact, this was really not cool. But wait, hadn't he just said that? Whatever it was, it was not at all cool to expend so many brain cells to come up with the perfect plan, then to have more brain cells killed when you were knocked down by the subject of your perfect plan, and then even more brain cells brutally slayed in the subsequent tongue-lashing from the subject of your perfect plan, which obviously could not have been that perfect after all. You know what? It was just not cool, period.

"What in the world did you think you were doing, Nara Shikamaru?" Ino yelled as she scrambled around trying to pick up stray apples and other groceries which had fallen from her bags when she had bumped into him.

Shikamaru, tuning out the rest of her ranting and stooping to pick up an apple, was about to tell her exactly what he thought he was doing, when he realised that was exactly what he should not be doing. He had to stick to the plan. He stared at the apple in his hands. Not good. Sasuke would never pick up fallen apples, his nose was probably stuck too high in the air for him to see.

Shikamaru adroitly hid the apple as Ino straightened up after retrieving the last of her groceries.

"…"

Ino stared suspiciously at him.

"Shikamaru, did you steal my apple?" she asked somewhat dubiously.

"…"

"You can stop pretending, I can see my apple behind your back, idiot," Ino snapped. "Give it back."

Damn, Shikamaru thought. Why was she so obsessed with her apple? Wasn't she going to notice that he wasn't speaking anytime soon? Not that she hadn't noticed, but she was ignoring the fact that he wasn't speaking. Okay, so it wasn't that hard to ignore the fact that a person wasn't speaking, because if the person wasn't speaking, then there was nothing to notice and thus the lack of speaking could be easily ignored! Ugh, he was starting to make little sense even to himself.

"Hello? Are you even listening to me?" Ino said. "Are you sure you're quite alright? If you wanted an apple to eat you could ask me, you know. Stealing is inexcusable in itself, and to steal from your friend is even worse, especially over something as trivial as an apple."

"…" Shikamaru glared desperately at her.

A slight distance away, Chouji watched in amusement at the interaction between his two team-mates. He could hear their conversation, or lack of, especially from Shikamaru's side, where he was standing, and it was, there was no other word for it, priceless. Man, this is even better than food, Chouji thought in delight, and as if recalling him to his loyalties, his stomach rumbled. Maybe not, then, Chouji reconsidered, as he opened another packet of potato chips and began eating it as silently as possible. But it sure went great with food, he thought with a grin, hearing Ino's yell of "Stop glaring at me stupidly like that!".

Shikamaru gave up. Ino was obviously not getting the message though his expressive and emotive silence. He would have to resort to the minimal, clipped sentences Sasuke occasionally deigned to bless the world.

"Ino – uh –" Wait, Sasuke didn't call Ino by her first name, he suspected Sasuke didn't even know Ino's name. Shikamaru wanted to run off and bang his head into his go board in the hope that he would regain his intelligence (though that'd more likely just increase the brain cells death count tenfold). He'd never been so badly prepared for anything in his life before. This was entirely ridiculous. He always thought things through before taking any action (normally it resulted in inaction, but that was not the point), and for him to rush headlong into this stupidity was abnormal. Okay, he could still salvage this. What would Sasuke call Ino, perchance he ever actually decided she was worth his superior existence to talk to?

"Right, mindless fangirl, you're too noisy," Shikamaru said.

There was a funny choking sound and a crash, and as Shikamaru stared past Ino's shoulder in the direction of the noise, he swore he saw Chouji hurriedly disappearing into the door of a shop. His eyes narrowed. What? Had he said something wrong?

"What did you say?" Ino practically hollered in his face.

Shikamaru blinked. He could practically hear his brain cells screaming in tortured agony as they expired.

"Right, mindless fangirl, you're too noisy," Shikamaru repeated.

"I heard that the first time!"

"Then why did you ask?"

"It was a rhetorical question!"

"Um," Shikamaru said cleverly. He scratched his head. Man, he could never understand Ino.

"Why are you insulting me? Why are you acting weirdly? What's wrong with your hair anyway? And give me back my apple!" Ino advanced towards him. She looked ready to blow a fuse. Or many.

"What apple?" Shikamaru tried to reply innocently, holding his hands up to ward off the increasingly scary Ino.

Both of them stared at the apple in Shikamaru's hands.

"Oh, uh, this is mine…from home," Shikamaru said lamely. "You have no proof!" He continued in desperation.

Ino rolled her eyes. "Are you sure you didn't knock your head into a pole…many times? That was a really, really bad excuse."

Shikamaru scowled. This was all Chouji's fault. He'd make Chouji pay. Yes, he'd slaughter Chouji in the next go game they played, that'd show Chouji. Even if Chouji didn't seem to show much emotion whenever he lost at go…but never mind.

Ino continued, "I really couldn't be bothered if you wanted to become a kleptomaniac, but man, what was up with going all Shino on me and skulking around wordlessly?"

Shikamaru blinked. Shino? Shino? Didn't he seem like someone else? You know, like possibly, perchance, maybe the guy she thought of every waking hour of her life, whom she was for some inexplicable reason not thinking of now, maybe, just maybe, this guy named Sasuke? And he did not skulk! That was a careless saunter.

"And that hairstyle…Shikamaru, you really need to condition your hair, your fringe is sticking all over the place. Are you trying to look like Kiba?"

Shikamaru almost fell down. Kiba now? What the hell? This was getting way out of hand.

He sighed. "This is way too troublesome," he muttered. He handed her apple back to her and walked off. He wondered if he would be able to move quickly enough to get home and barricade himself in before Chouji could catch up.

"Hey, Shikamaru!"

No luck, Shikamaru thought wryly. He sighed as Chouji caught up with him, somehow managing to wear an enormous grin while his mouth was stuffed full with chips.

"Chouji, I hate you," Shikamaru muttered tersely. "If it wasn't so troublesome, I would chop you up into a many tiny pieces and then chop you up into many more tiny pieces and then chop you into many, many more tiny pieces and –"

"Okay, okay, I get the point," Chouji said, but it seemed he was grinning even more widely, if that was possible. "You really shouldn't have just walked off like that just now, Ino looked like she was going to do something really dangerous, like hack the apple you gave her to bits and then stomp all over it."

Shikamaru scowled at Chouji. "You know she said I was acting like Shino? And that my hair was like Kiba?"

"Hey look, this wouldn't have happened if you'd actually used some sense!" Chouji protested.

If looks could kill, oh he would have zapped Chouji into many tiny pieces and then even more tiny pieces and then even more tiny pieces and –

"Looks can't kill, Shikamaru, so you can quit glaring at me like that," Chouji said. "Listen, when I said to emulate Sasuke, I didn't mean you had to act like a carbon copy of him! Calling Ino a mindless fangirl…"

Here Chouji broke off into laughter for the next five minutes while Shikamaru glowered, beginning to feel…well, like maybe he had an IQ of 20 rather than 200.

"Oh gosh, that was the funniest moment of my life!" Chouji gasped out between guffaws.

"Let up, already," Shikamaru said irritably. "It seemed like a good idea at the time."

"Okay, moving on," Choujii said, having finally controlled his laughter. "Shikamaru, you are hopeless when it comes to love."

"Oh, gee, thanks for pointing out the obvious, Chouji," Shikamaru said sarcastically. "You notice my original plan was to just not do anything?"

Chouji ignored the comment. "That's quite alright though, at least now you have some experience. Remember that you're Shikamaru acting like Sasuke, and not Sasuke himself, so uh, no more mindless fangirl."

At this point, Chouji broke out laughing once again while Shikamaru decided that maybe his IQ was more around the regions of 2.

"Okay, fine, I realise I overdid it. Now that we've figured out this plan isn't going to work, why don't we just go back to my house and play shougi?" Shikamaru said.

"Goodness, no! Shikamaru, you can't give up so easily because of one setback! We just need to refine things a little." Chouji said adamantly. "Now let's go and find your Sasuke clothes!"

"Where?" Shikamaru couldn't help but ask curiously as Chouji steered him along by his arm.

"My house. I have some clothes of that type," Chouji said cheerfully.

Shikamaru blinked. "Um, Chouji, aren't you at least a good three sizes larger than me?"

"Oh, don't worry," Chouji said languidly. "Those were from when I was eight or so."

"Oh," Shikamaru said.

Shikamaru pondered in silence for a while.

"By the way, you're a really bad hairstylist."

"Oh, come on! This is totally a case of a bad workman blaming his tools. We'll get you conditioner."

--

Shikamaru stared. Okay, the black shirt and white shorts were perfectly average, but…

"Bandages?" Shikamaru asked incredulous. "What are those for? And what are you doing to them?"

Chouji paused from unrolling the bandages into a pail of black paint. "Oh, I couldn't find those black strappy things that Sasuke wears, so we'll just have to make do."

"But bandages?" Shikamaru sounded disbelieving. "I'm going to look like a masochist!"

"Isn't Sasuke one?" Chouji asked, lifting up the now-black bandages with pegs and laying them on sheets of paper to dry. "Come help me, will you?"

"How would you even know?" Shikamaru asked in annoyance as he stooped beside Chouji and helped lift out the dripping bandages and arranging them on the floor.

"He's so brooding and antisocial, he must be," Chouji said decisively.

"Um, okay…" Shikamaru said. There was really no point in telling Chouji the problems with his logic, since he probably wouldn't listen. Not to mention Shikamaru was getting a little suspicious of his own wits since he had totally failed at 'Sasuke-ing' Ino.

Having taken out the last of the bandages, Chouji stood up and grinned exuberantly at Shikamaru.

"Okay, while we're waiting for the bandages to dry, let's move on to the next phase!" Chouji said, opening the door and beckoning Shikamaru out.

"What, we have to move again?"

"Of course!"

"Why couldn't we have had a more sedentary plan?" Shikamaru complained, getting to his feet and trudging after Chouji. "What are we doing now?"

"We're going to break into Sasuke's house!" Chouji said brightly…maybe a little too brightly.

Shikamaru almost walked into the wall instead of out the door. "Did you just say that?"

"We have to break into Sasuke's house!"

Shikamaru stared. "I didn't hear you say that," Shikamaru said decisively, walking into the wall. Repeatedly.

"Hey hey, what are you doing!" Chouji said in consternation, pulling Shikamaru away from his self-destruction.

"Waking myself up, obviously," Shikamaru said seriously. "This has got to be a nightmare. A very bad one, I might add. And troublesome."

"Oh, come on!" Chouji said. "It's not all that bad breaking into someone's house!"

"Chouji, it's a criminal offence. Which part of that don't you get?" Shikamaru asked.

"Hey, this is important for our plan."

"In what way, exactly?"

"Oh, many. For one, we need to steal, uh, borrow some of Sasuke's conditioner."

Shikamaru stared. "Sasuke keeps conditioner?" He asked in amazement.

"Well, obviously he must!" Chouji said as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. "How else would he keep his hair so sleek and healthy? I mean, didn't you see the time when he popped up just in time for the Gaara fight during the chuunin exams, and his bangs were longer than usual? It was like he was purposely trying to mislead us into thinking he'd been practising so hard he didn't even have time to visit the barber, but he didn't fool me!"

"Huh?" Shikamaru said.

"Didn't you notice? His bangs were all shiny and bouncy and flying about dramatically when the wind blew! Only conditioner could have kept his hair in such perfect condition!" Chouji finished conclusively.

Shikamaru just stared blankly.

"And we have to redecorate your room to look like his!" Chouji added.

"But wait, I thought we should only imitate some aspects of Sasuke that Ino liked," Shikamaru said slowly, still trying to process Sasuke + Shiny bouncy hair = Conditioner.

"Of course Ino will love how Sasuke styles his room!" Chouji said, sounding scandalised. "Ino loves everything about Sasuke."

"But what you said just now…" Shikamaru's mind was floundering.

"Oh well, the mind of a woman is very confusing," Chouji said wisely, nodding. "Do not fear though, I am here to help you along your perilous quest!"

"No wait," Shikamaru tried to say, but was interrupted by Chouji.

"Come on, Shikamaru!" Chouji cheered. "We're doing this all for Ino!"

Before Shikamaru could even decide that the sentence didn't make any sense whatever, he was bodily dragged away from his beloved wall and out of Chouji's house to continue to wreck mayhem on his own life.

Maybe he was a masochist after all.

-to be continued-

Thanks for all the encouraging feedback, but I'm sorry this chapter was rather bland and disappointing. I'll try to improve the next chapter. Comments are always welcome. :)

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