Title: All the Small Things
Author: Desolate Butterfly
Pairings: Ino/Chouji + Shikamaru
Genre: Humour/Romance, drabble
Rating: G
Summary: There were some things Shikamaru could always count on.

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There were some things Shikamaru could always count on.

One of them was the fact that Chouji would always request food as the reward for a hard-day of training, no matter how much he had eaten for lunch, or how many snack breaks had interrupted their sparring. Another was that Asuma would pay for one course, and one course only, and after that they were on their own (because Asuma needed to keep a roof over his head, or so he claimed). The third was that Ino never ever ate her side of daikon, even though she always ordered it.

"I don't like the taste," she'd claim, handing another piece of it off to Chouji, who'd accept it with open chopsticks.

"It doesn't taste like anything," Shikamaru would point out. "It's a garnish."

And Ino would smile and push another section of the pinkish vegetable over to Chouji's plate.

"That's the point," she would say. "Why eat something that doesn't taste like anything?"

"It tastes alright to me," Chouji would comment, clearing the last bit of daikon from Ino's plate and licking his lips.

This would end the ritual and talk would turn to other matters, like what the team needed to work on in terms of training, or how Shikamaru's new technique was coming along, or (unfortunately for the boys of the group) what Uchiha Sasuke was wearing that week.

But Ino's repeated ordering of the radish-like vegetable at every single team meal irritated Shikamaru in a way that he couldn't explain away with a simple "girls are weird" like he usually did.

"I don't get it," he said finally to Asuma. "She doesn't like daikon. She says that every time she gets it, but she won't order anything else. She could just as easily request cucumbers, or pickled ume if she wants it. I know she likes those. Why does she insist on getting daikon at every single meal, just to give it away?"

Asuma had smiled at him and shook his head. "Ah Shikamaru," he sighed, "so smart and yet so blind."

"Huh?"

"Watch closely the next time Ino does it, and then you'll figure it out," Asuma advised.

So Shikamaru watched intently the next time Ino ordered daikon. He watched as she went through her usual theatrics about the horrid qualities of the vegetable, how much she hated it, and how superior other sides like eggplant and sweet potato were to the dreaded plant.

He watched as Ino offered the slivered sections of vegetable to Chouji, at the way Ino smiled and the way Chouji's eyes widened as he snatched up the sections with glee. He watched Ino's smile grow larger and larger with every piece of daikon that was removed from her plate, and how Chouji was practically vibrating with happiness at the thought that not only was his blonde team mate giving him something of her own free will, she was giving him food.

'Oh,' Shikamaru thought, feeling slightly miffed that Asuma had apparently noticed this development before he had. Who was supposed to be the genius of this group anyway?

For a minute, Shikamaru wondered if he should be doing something about this: either to help it along or nip it in the bud…or join in or something. But then he saw the way Chouji growled as the subject turned once again to Uchiha Sasuke, and Ino's triumphant gleam as she bopped Chouji over the head when he claimed that he didn't care what stupid thing Sasuke was wearing/doing/fighting this week, and Shikamaru figured that his team mates were doing just fine on their own.

Besides which, getting involved in relationships is just too troublesome.

Fin.

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AN: Any commentary is appreciated.