Title: The Way To Their Hearts
SasuSaku, ShikaIno, NejiTen, & NaruHina.
Crackalicious. And OOC. Because they're silly. Or maybe I'm silly. OR BOTH.

Also, I have no reverence for the dignities of our dear Neji and Sasuke. Maybe in other stories, but not in this one.

So the boys messed up. You know, again. Obviously, they need to apologize, and fast. But wait, too many chefs spoil the stew. No, really.

Author's Notes: I apologize profusely for the lateness of this chapter, and hope that I still have some readers after my long (read: inrunwithskizzers' words "evil") hiatus. And I wish that they would add "crack" or at least, "random" to the list of genres.

Disclaimer: Still not mine.

"And then, the idiot had the nerve to ask me whether he could eat his stupid ramen first!"

Tenten smirked as she scooped out another serving of chocolate ice cream for her pregnant friend. Hinata's hormones were definitely on the fritz. There was no way she'd be talking about her beloved—if slightly dim-witted—husband like that if she were truly in her right mind (which she wasn't, because she was pregnant, and in Tenten's very honest, unbiased opinion, pregnant women were absolutely insane, right up until the actual birth).

"We know, Hinata-chan. Naruto's a moron."

"Don't you call him a moron!" yelled Hinata, who was going through mood swings faster than the four of them went through chocolate during That Time of the Month.

Ino nudged Sakura in the direction of her pantry to get some more marshmallows. The pink-haired medic-nin growled a little before slowly moving off her kitchen bar stool – she wanted smores too, after all. The blonde sighed as she turned back to her two friends, slim fingers poking her (very flat) stomach.

"Ne, maybe Shika-kun is right. Maybe I have put on a little weight." She appeared distraught at the very thought, and her lower lip quivered a little. Tenten smacked her arm.

"Don't be ridiculous. You're as pretty as you've always been."

"But that's just it! Maybe Shikamaru thinks I'm just pretty now! Maybe I've been downgraded from beautiful! Maybe –"

"—you'll shut up so the rest of us can mope and enjoy these terrible, horrible, no-good, sinfully delicious desserts in peace? Not likely."

Ino glared balefully at her Sakura, who, in turn, simply went on assembling her usual comfort food—she had long ago learned to ignore her best friend's frequent fits of pique.

Hinata wiped away the chocolate stains on the table top, hand resting on her slightly rounded belly.

"They really are idiots, aren't they?"

"And yet, we stay with them."


Silence. Then,

"Guys, do you really think I've gotten fat?"

Neji paused in the middle of stirring the broth for stew. Sasuke regarded him, one eyebrow arched in question.

"Why did you stop?"

"…I suddenly felt a large amount of killing intent nearby."

"Well, ignore it, and watch the broth."

"Don't tell me what to do, Uchiha."

"Well then, Hyuuga, pay attention to what you're doing."



Naruto, who was busy cutting vegetables at Sasuke's kitchen table, eyed this exchange with bored interest before calling for assistance.

"Shikamaruuuu! Their monster egos are invading my personal bubble again! Make them stop!"

The strategist lifted indifferent brown eyes from the recipe book he was reading and rolled his eyes.

"These two…so troublesome. Oi! Uchiha! Hyuuga! Let's pay attention to the task at hand?"

After a few more moments of silent death, Sasuke broke Neji's gaze and shrugged.

"Whatever. That broth is supposed to be stirred continuously until it boils." He looked down at his mother's recipe cards.

"Slow boil the stock for an additional three hours at low heat."

Three hours? There's not enough time for that. Sasuke almost sighed in frustration, before relaxing.

His mother had never said that he couldn't help it along a bit…

"We're out of food."


"You heard me. We've cleaned this place out." Sakura turned to Ino.

"Your turn to food run."

Ino pouted.

"I'm still hungry. And I don't feel like going to the store to pick anything right now."

"So what are we going to do?"

The four girls were lying around in Sakura's bedroom, praising the fact that it was (except for a few minor skirmishes near the country borders) generally, a peaceful time and that there had been no missions assigned to any of them. Despite their bad moods, it was nice to have a few moments of peace between all the bloodshed (well, aside from those incidents involving their significant others). Tenten was fiddling with one of Sakura's many trinkets, and Hinata was fast asleep under the covers. Ino was sharing the futon with the owner of the house.

"So where do you think they are right now?"

Ino snorted, and Sakura resisted the urge to make a comment about her namesake.

"Who cares about them? Let's do something fun."

Tenten looked up at Ino.

"Like what? Pick up girls at the club?"

"No, smart-ass. I don't know. Something fun to take our mind off the idiots we call our significant others." She thought for a moment.

"I know! Let's visit Chouji!"

"…no offense, Ino, but why would we do that?"

The blonde looked at them incredulously.

"Duh! In case you guys weren't aware, everybody in the Akimichi clan is taught how to cook at a very early age, and they're all great at what they do." When she saw that her friends still weren't getting it—really, she was the ditzy one?—she sighed.

"Chouji will cook for us. Or at least, he'll help us make something so fabulous that we'll forget we were ever upset."

Sakura and Tenten looked doubtful. From inside her cocoon of blankets, Hinata snorted.

"Do you have any better ideas?"

Shikamaru rifled through the vegetables in Sasuke's fridge.

"Hyuuga, we need more potatoes."

Neji looked at him imperiously and asked,

"And what do you want me to do about it?"

However, Shikamaru was unfazed. Ten plus years of dealing with Ino had made him skilled in the art of appeasing divas.

"Well, there's really not much for you to do here, right now. All the difficult parts come later, and that's when you can do your thing. So, I was thinking maybe you could get some more ingredients."

Neji nodded, pleased with Shikamaru's acknowledgement of his (obviously) superior culinary skills.

"I will see what I can find."

Naruto yelped as he nicked his fingers yet again. Sasuke snickered unkindly.

"Hn. I would think that any competent shinobi would have no problem handling sharp objects."

"Shut up, bastard!"

The Uchiha gave him a (falsely) sympathetic look and turned back to his own dilemma.

To raise the flame, or not to raise the flame?

He shrugged. What harm could it do?

"Katon: Gōkakyū no Jutsu!"

A few moments later, there was much hacking and coughing up of vital organs. And then…



"…What happened to your eyebrows?"

Neji, who had come back just in time to see Sasuke's…enthusiastic display of culinary technique, proceeded to bang his head against the wall

(in the most dignified manner possible, of course, because he was a Hyuuga, and they had rules for this sort of thing).

Shikamaru trudged over to the phone and dialed the number for Salvation.

"Chouji? Do you want me to get the phone?"

The muscular—"not fat!"—man looked over at his former teammate, who was mixing up the batter for chocolate chip cookies, from where he was pulling cinnamon rolls out of the oven. At his table, Tenten and Sakura were eating their way into a diabetic coma, and Hinata was methodically licking all of the chocolate frosting off of the éclairs. He smiled. Even with the various foodstuffs smeared across their faces, they made a very pretty (albeit sticky) picture .

"That's all right, Ino. I've got it."

He wiped his dusty hands on his apron—a practical black one that Ino had bought for him last year—and took the handset from its hook.

"Hello? Oh, hi!"

He snuck a sideways glance at Ino, who was licking the spatula, and continued the conversation in a hushed whisper.

"Wow…you guys are pretty hopeless, aren't you? I'll be over in a few minutes."

He hung up and was met with the inquisitive (and vaguely suspicious) faces of four kunoichi.

"Who was that?"


Yeah, I'm late. Once again, I apologize!

...And shamelessly pimp out my request-drabble collection, a pocket full of sixpence.