A/N: This is Shika/Tema sorta . . . towards the end. It just builds off of Team Ten's relationship. It also briefly references to my other favorite pairing, Naruto/Ino. This is the history of Ino-Shika-Cho according to Ino with a little bit of a focus on Shikamaru. If I ever truly develop a relationship for Chouji, than I'll do one from Shikamaru on Chouji and one from Chouji on Ino. To complete the circle, ya know? Well enjoy!
Their team was more than a team of friends. Team Ten was family to each other because of their fathers' connections from being a team before them. So if Ino was a little defensive on behalf of both her boys, no one could really blame her. After all they were her brothers, friends, and companions since before she could remember.
Ino's first clear memory is of when she was two years old and her father took her over to play with Shikamaru and Chouji while he smoked with his old teammates. She toddled over and plopped down next to Chouji and hugged him tightly. He was in her opinion the best teddy bear to be had. Shikamaru was too bony for hugs, but Ino gave him one anyway and pulled him away from his cloud-watching to join in their games. She was always doing that, dragging Shikamaru out of his private world and into the real one. She worried even back then that if she didn't he would get lost and never come back.
There was a moment when they were five years old that Ino saw the first tears that Shikamaru ever cried after he learned to speak. His parents had fought much worse than usual, and his mother had kicked his father out of the house. Although Shikaku didn't seem to worried as he camped out on the front lawn, Shikamaru was a wreck not knowing what was going to happen to his family next. When he didn't come into the school for lessons, Ino and Chouji had slipped out to find him. Chouji had found him first, hiding behind the building and immediately fetched Ino. Ino sat in the dirt and pulled Shikamaru into a hug, rocking him as he cried and Chouji explained what he knew. Her eyes glinted dangerously and Chouji ended up taking Shikamaru home with him, while Ino took off on a mysterious errand. When Chouza took Shikamaru home the next day, he found a stern lecture wasn't needed since Inoichi's little girl had appeared and given both of the Nara's a good tongue-lashing. They had since made up and life continued on as normal much to Shikamaru's relief.
When they were nine, all three of them had been climbing trees behind the Nara household. They had done it a million times before and no one had ever fallen until that day when Shikamaru grabbed a branch that had held even Chouji's weight before. But a recent storm must have damaged it because it cracked and Shikamaru plummeted to the ground. Ino remembered jumping straight down, while Chouji scrambled down from the other tree at breakneck speed. Shikamaru hadn't moved from where he had hit the earth and one of his arms was bent at an unnatural angle. Their friend was pale and Ino knew they shouldn't move him, but she leaned over and lightly ran her fingers over his throat searching for a pulse like her father had taught her. She was relieved to find it, but then her fingers found blood and she took off like a shot for the house screaming for Shikamaru's parents like a banshee. Two days in the hospital, and Shikamaru returned none the worse for the wear. His arm and the concussion had been taken care of. In fact, the only scar he retained from the incident was a scrape along the underside of his chin, barely visible unless you knew it was there. It made Ino shiver when she saw it because it was a reminder of the first time she had seen Shikamaru hurt.
When they were twelve, they had become gennin together, and then they had entered the chunnin exam. That was the first time she had seen Temari. When Shikamaru had fought Temari, Ino became aware of the fact that the older girl was flirting with Shikamaru and her teammate was flirting right back. She hadn't even known that Shikamaru knew how to flirt and she thought that she had known everything about her two boys. Ino wanted Shikamaru to win so that she could hug him and then smack him. Chouji probably realized this because he moved to Asuma's other side when her eyes started to take on a dangerous shine. Shikamaru, being the genius that he was, must have deduced this as well, because the baka forfeited! This earned him a double blow and he refused to explain the black eye to Asuma during their next training session after all of the excitement died down. Ino's reasoning was that if she didn't keep him in line, who would?
Then both of her boys took off on a mission to rescue Sasuke without her. No matter how much Ino liked Sasuke, the Uchiha was in no way worth even the risk of losing her two best friends in the world. When Shikamaru came back with a broken finger, she almost cried as hard as when he had fallen out of the tree, but then they brought in Chouji and both of them were a wreck at seeing the skeletal thin frame cradled in Shizune's arms. The hours in the waiting room were a nightmare, and Ino finally left to sit somewhere else to avoid the stifling tension between Temari and Shikamaru. She was grateful that the Sand ninja had come to his rescue but that didn't give the older girl an excuse to sit in the waiting room with the people who loved each other and made their own family out of three. But she did and Temari eventually drove Shikamaru out. Shikaku had to intervene before Shikamaru gave up his standing as a ninja forever. Ino would never forgive Temari for that and when tears and hugs commenced at Tsunade's reassurance that Chouji would be all right, Ino made sure that Temari was left an outsider. A silent message flashed between the two blondes. "You don't belong in my family. You don't understand anything let alone know everything."
When Ino's first serious boyfriend, a boy from the village dumped her, she sobbed in the comfort of Chouji's arms while Shikamaru patted her back awkwardly. Finally, the genius' lips tightened, and he stalked away. Chouji shook his head and continued to comfort her, rebuilding her self esteem with careful words and gentle reassurances. It felt good to be reminded of how much Chouji and to some extent, Shikamaru, valued her, and as satisfying as it was seeing her ex-boyfriend humiliated in front of the whole village by the work of a shadow. They weren't perfect. But they tried, and Ino loved both of her boys for that.
Shikamaru turned fifteen first, and Ino received another reminder that the sand kunoichi had not disappeared from their lives as Ino had hoped. She was here to assist with the chunnin exams which meant that she spent a great deal of time with Shikamaru. Ino didn't like it, but she helped her lazy friend start a relationship with Temari (Shika still owed her for that one). Shikamaru seemed happy, or what passed for happy in Shikamaru. Ino and Chouji knew him better than anyone and they could tell. Yet when Asuma died, Shikamaru went to Temari to be consoled. She didn't push him or coddle him like Ino and Chouji would have done, but let him lay there and smoke those awful cigarettes. Shikamaru was an adult now, as they all were. Sometimes they didn't need to be held, but have their spaces respected. When Ino came to call them for dinner, and Shikamaru went on ahead, Ino stopped in front of Temari and uttered two words that she rarely if ever used. "Thank you."
Temari looked at her with raised eyebrow. "I don't know everything."
With that, they headed inside. Not that Temari and Ino ever truly got along . . . and neither got along with Chouji's girlfriend from the village when she came into their lives. But Naruto, Chouji and Shikamaru just grinned and shook their heads as they headed for the safety of the cloudwatching hill to play shougi and let the women battle it out.
Finite Incantatem. I hope you liked it. Please leave me a review if you liked it . . . or if you hated it (a writer's gotta know these things). The Prince of the House (i.e. my cat) appreciates all commentary when I read it allowed and scratch his ears.