Title: The Pitfalls of Seduction

Shikamaru x Ino

Summary: In which there is much plotting. And head-banging. Only, not the good kind.

Notes: Sequel to And Fortune Smiles.

OK, basic timeline (since I haven't updated in so long and it's very possible that all my lovely readers have forgotten what happened when). This chapter takes place on the same day/night that the events in Chapters One and Two go on. The story, as a whole, takes place a few days after And Fortune Smiles.

Author's Notes: Chapter III. I suck. Please, please forgive the lateness. I made it longer than the last, at least?

Smidgen of Grey's Anatomy, once again. Probably won't even catch it. ;)

Disclaimer: No matter how many times I wish for it…nope, none of it's mine.

"Swing your hips a bit more! That's it…pretend he's a mission target!"

"Ugh, shut up, Forehead!"

The two of them, along with Hinata and Tenten had reconvened later that day after all of their various healing (Sakura), interrogation (Ino), teaching (Hinata), and training (Tenten) obligations had been completed. Now, after a thoroughly sinful dinner consisting of entirely too much of, well, everything, and plates upon plates of mochi and dango, they were lounging in Ino's bedroom for an impromptu sleepover, still contemplating her battle-plan for, ahem, seducing Shikamaru, or—in Sakura's words—"having him flat on his back faster than reports of abnormal amounts of cumulus, dammit!"

Ino swore under her breath as she complied with Sakura's insistent request.

"This isn't necessary, Forehead-girl. In case you've forgotten, we covered all of this in training, remember?" She swayed her hips effortlessly to prove her point, and sighed.

"Besides, if I know Shikamaru—and, I think after over ten years of interaction, I can safely say I do—he's going to need a lot more than just these hips and wet lips to get the point."

Sakura raised a skeptical brow.

"Shikamaru? He can't be that dense. That's why you're seducing him instead of flat-out telling him you want his—"

"Sakura! Honestly, this relationship with Sasuke might have done more harm than good if you're going to be this…horny." Ino thanked Tenten for the interruption.

"Hello! Did you not hear about how long it took for him to realize that Temari was interested in him?" Ino answered the rhetorical question while attempting to tame her white-blonde hair into a messy bun with chopsticks. "Two years. On her wedding day. Her wedding day, Sakura. And he didn't even figure it out himself! Gaara had to explain why she threw those lace garters at his face."

There was a moment of silence to let that sink in. Sakura's eyes crossed at the mental picture she got of Subaku no Gaara explaining anything even remotely connected to love.

"…all right, so you have a point."

"Of course I do."

"So, what's our next course of action?" asked Hinata, clearing away the forks and leftover mochi.

Tenten stretched lazily from her reclining position on Ino's bed.

"How about a line?"

Ino snapped the chopsticks in half.

At Ichiraku, Shikamaru twitched.

Naruto, concerned, squinted his eyes, and invaded Shikamaru's bubble.

"Oi. You ok?"

"I…have a bad feeling about tomorrow."

"A feeling? What kind of feeling? Oh! Is it like that one time I told you about? When Sasuke-teme let me drink that milk without telling me it was expired—bastard!—and I had to blow chunks—"


"Oh…what kind, then?"

The shadow user sighed mournfully.

"The kind that tells me I shouldn't even bother leaving my bed tomorrow."

"A line? You want me to use a pick-up line? Are you freaking kidding me?"

Ino threw herself on the bed in despair.

"This is never going to work."

She felt her weight shift on her bed and lifted her head from the shelter of her arms to see her three friends smiling at her.

Now, now, this isn't the Yamanaka Ino I know and…well, this isn't the Yamanaka Ino I know."

"Screw you, Sakura. Why are you so desperate to see this work, anyway? Just because you're living in happy, sappy, might-as-well-be-wedded bliss, doesn't mean the rest of us have to. Or want to."

The pink-haired woman smiled, unaffected by the anger in her best friend's voice. Because she was, really. Despite the year(s)-long argument over the Uchiha—your fault! her Inner Self often liked to remind her—and their numerous mini-fights over everything from the last babydoll top on sale (which Sakura usually won), to who could get the most free drinks at the local nightclub (Ino was currently three up), they were best friends. Tenten and Hinata were getting there, and her boys (her Sasuke-kun in particular) had a special place in her heart, but Ino…was Ino.

Ino was the first. She'd made Sakura believe.

"Ino, you swooned over Sasuke-kun for three years," Sakura raised her hand when the blonde started to interrupt. "After realizing that he and I were meant to be—here, Ino choked on air, and possibly her vomit—"you gave up on him, and then, for some God-forsaken reason, turned to Sai. Sai, Ino. You remember him, right? The guy who walks around in tight belly shirts—"

"Though," Tenten interrupted, "he does have nice abs…very nice." Sakura snorted—but didn't deny it—and continued as though she hadn't even been interrupted.

"—and makes comments about penises? PENISES, Ino. Really, sometimes I wonder about you."

Sakura swiped the green nail polish on Ino's nightstand, giving it a speculative look before turning back to her friends.

"Then, after him, came the parade of most perverse, degenerate losers Konoha has been unfortunate enough to ever produce. Let's see. There was Satoshi."

"He was nice," defended Hinata, ever the positive one.

"Yes, Hinata-chan. But he was also fond of picking his ears with his chopsticks." Tenten looked up at the clock. "Oh, shoot. I'll be right back guys." She padded off in the direction of the kitchen. Sakura, who'd changed into a pair of Ino's sweats, decided to continue.

"Hmm. Who was next? Oh right, Kaoru. Now, personality-wise, he was pretty OK."

"He was sweet! No, he was more than sweet! Hinata-chan, back me up here! He was probably the nicest guy in Konoha. And he was cute. Adorable, even. Bluer eyes than mine! Plus, he was always on time. He was—"

"Absolutely, irrevocably, completely, utterly gay? Yeah, we figured that when we caught him sucking face with a picture of Kakashi-sensei. Well, as much as anyone can make-out with matte paper." Tenten, who'd sauntered in at the end of Ino's rant with a plateful of cookies fresh from the oven, placed it on the floor and proceeded to look through her friend's cramped drawers for an oversized shirt to wear to sleep.

Ino pouted.

"Um…you're all forgetting Nobu-san. He was very nice. And he was handsome."

"Once again, good points Hinata-chan. But he was thicker than Naruto. The guy could barely hold kunai the right way. I'd like my godchildren to have some modicum of sense, and I know they're not getting it from their mom."

"Old, Forehead. You used that one yesterday. Maybe you're losing your touch?"

"Whatever. Anyway, after him, there was Ritsuo. Then, Kazuma. And then, Shigeru. All of them so uninteresting I can't even be bothered to come up with appropriate descriptions."

"Was there a point to this, Forehead-girl? Because I'm going to have to special order a thicker skin if you're not done yet."

"Of course there's a point. And it is, that quite honestly, you have been dating below your standards. You've been messing around, flitting from guy to guy, when you absolutely know that there's nothing waiting for you when everything's all said and done. Your relationships last a maximum of three months and then, you're on the prowl again." She paused, not quite sure how to phrase what she wanted to say.

"Honestly, it's like you're trying not to tie yourself down. You had to know that your relationships weren't going anywhere. And you had to know that those guys were beneath you—we told you enough! It's like you purposely went out after guys you knew you wouldn't be committing to…almost like…" She trailed off, a look of dawning comprehension in her eyes.

"Almost like you were saving yourself for somebody else."

Ino groaned in abject misery at the misty, sappy, ugh, romantic look in her best friend's eyes, as around them, the world's smallest violins began to play.

Nara Shikamaru sighed as he waved goodbye to Naruto and made his way home. Something had been bothering him lately, and he couldn't quite put a label on it. The feeling came and went, and with Naruto's antics as a distraction, he'd nearly forgotten about it. Now that he was alone, the anxiety came back in full-force.

It wasn't so much a feeling of serious dread—one he generally associated with catastrophes like death, or grave injury.

Or lack of shade in summer.

No, it was more a feeling of impending doom.

Something was coming.

"Tch. Troublesome."

"OK, so which one?" Tenten was poring over one of Sakura's datebooks, a furry-red paperback left over from her pre-teen infatuation with the man she was currently dating. She tossed the book over to Sakura, who, after catching it mid-flight, handed it to Hinata to peruse. Her hands were currently full with scrubbing off the shade of forest green nail polish she'd painted on. It would be pretty pointless to have it on if she was going to chip it off in training tomorrow anyway.

Besides, she'd already memorized the book by heart.

She ignored the thumping sound oh Ino banging her head against the wall and raised her voice to be heard above the din.

"Well, it depends on what reaction Ino wants."

Hinata moved over to where Ino was making a dent in her pretty lavender wall, and shielded her head from (further) damage.

"Ino-chan, what would you like?"

"To die."

"So sorry, but that's not an option. Try again?"

She sighed, resigned to the fact that she was indeed going to make an ass out of herself in front of the guy she might possibly (maybesortofkindofALLRIGHTJUSTSHUTUPALREADY) like.

"…What've you got?"

Sakura looked like her Sasuke-kun had just proposed a lifetime of living in absolute decadent sin.

"I've got one. 'Hey, baby. What's a hot man like you doing in a dirty mind like mine?'"

Tenten snickered.

"That's pretty good, but listen to this. 'Pardon me, but are you a screamer or a moaner?'"

"Mmm...that one's pretty direct."

Hinata coughed.

"Um…there's this one. 'Hello. I'm a thief, and I'm here to steal your heart.'"

There was utter, absolute silence.

For about three seconds.

Then, Sakura, Tenten, and Hinata (that traitor!) laughed and laughed and laughed some more.

Ino went back to beating her head against the wall.

Um. Yeah. I don't know either. Next chapter will have more action.

Until next time, my ever-so-lovely readers and reviewers. :)