Sort-of

Somebody who shall remain nameless sort-of asked for this.

Dedicated to Chopkins, who shall remain nameless.


"Are you almost ready, Temari?" Shikamaru called up the stairs towards Temari's bedroom.

"I'm coming! I'm coming! Geez, hold your frickin' horses!"

Kankuro looked up from his Final Fantasy game as Shikamaru sat down on the couch next to him. "How long have you been waiting for her, again?"

Shikamaru checked his watch. "Thirty-five minutes. At this rate we'll miss the movie... which I usually wouldn't mind, but I sort of wanted to see this one."

"What is it?"

"Yellow Blithe."

"The new Sage Harlequin flick?" Kankuro asked, sort-of interested. "Sage is my hero."

Shikamaru nodded, sort-of agreeing. "Yeah, mine too."

"Not really a romantic movie, though," Kankuro observed, sort-of coldly.

"Temari's not,"

"The romantic type?" Kankuro cut him off, picking up his game controller again. "Yeah. I know."

Shikamaru sensed that his tone had become sort-of hostile. "Are you..." he started awkwardly, only to realize that he didn't have any good way to finish that thought.

"Am I what?" Kankuro asked, staring straight ahead and concentrating on the video game.

"I mean... uh, do you have a problem with me and Temari?"

"What?" Kankuro sort-of jumped and looked over at the young man next to him, then back at his game. "No, of course not. Why would I have a problem with it?" he asked, sort-of nervously.

Sort-of embarrassed, Shikamaru blushed. "Nothing, I mean, y'know, your sister's with this kid who's, like, your brother's age, and not real motivated, and he's sort-of from an enemy village, sort-of, I'd understand... well... not liking me."

Kankuro made a little "whew" noise that Shikamaru almost mistook for a sigh of relief. "No. I know you're a lot more mature than Gaara. A lot more mature... and I actually like Leaf ok. We wouldn't be living here if we didn't. So, I don't have anything against you." he finished, sort-of regretfully.

"But, you still don't like me."

"I... I don't have anything against you," Kankuro repeated carefully.

Shikamaru sort-of nodded to himself. "Is your brother here?"

"Nah. He's off stalking Team Green Spandex again... he's eerily obsessed with all four of them... I don't envy that little Chinese girl, let me tell you."

"Ok," Shikamaru leaned in and lowered his voice. "Hey, don't tell Temari I told you this, ok, but,"

Kankuro hit the 'pause' button and leaned in.

"Temari and I aren't really dating. I come pick her up and then we meet up with my team and Naruto's group and run around with them all night. She and I hardly even talk. It's just, if she told you guys what she was doing,"

"Gaara would want to tag along."

"Exactly. I don't think she would even mind bringing you, but we couldn't explain why you could come and he couldn't. Sorry, man."

"Nah, that's ok. I understand. In fact, I'm sort of glad. Temari doesn't really get away from us as often as she should." Kankuro actually smiled at Shikamaru in a non-hostile way. "Hey, thanks for doing that for her."

"No prob."

This confession eased a lot of the tension between the two boys and they found themselves conversing much more easily.

"So, thanks to that little comment of my dad's, my mom stuck us all on the Atkins Diet, which sort-of sucks."

"Diet?" Kankuro laughed. "What, is she trying to starve you? You weight what, forty pounds?"

Shikamaru stared at him, sort-of shocked. "Are you using English System Units? And, not that it matters, but I'm not that skinny."

"Do me a favor, don't tell Temari how many calories she's downing when she gets in an eating contest with that blond chick who got in the cat fight with the pink-haired chick during the Chunin prelims, ok? I've heard anorectics like to do that, and she'd get ticked and beat you up."

Shikamaru rolled his eyes. "I'm not anorectic."

"Oh, come on, you're on a diet, and I could break you in half. I bet Karasu weights more than you do."

"...Karasu?"

"My puppet."

"It has a name?"

"I had a very lonely and isolated childhood."

"Oh." Shikamaru fidgeted, suddenly sort-of uncomfortable again. Most kids in Konoha had had bad childhoods, but Shikamaru, being on the only team in the whole village that consisted entirely of normal, well-adjusted kids, knew very little about dealing with past trauma. "Do you want to talk about it?"

Kankuro looked at him sort-of funny, which suggested that he had said the wrong thing. "Nah, I'm over it... but I may take you up on that later. Hey, stand up."

"Huh?"

Kankuro got to his feet. "Stand up, I want to see if I can pick you up. I mean, I know I can pick Gaara up with one hand, but that kid's a twig, even you weigh more than him."

"Oh... ok," Shikamaru shrugged, standing. Kankuro scooped him up, which sort-of upset Shikamaru's balance, causing him to flail around, finally re-centering himself by wrapping his arms around Kankuro's neck.

"Ok, so maybe you don't weigh less than Karasu, but, still, you really shouldn't be on a diet."

"Tell my mom that," Shikamaru sighed. "Anyway, don't worry about me, I think the Atkins Diet actually causes you to gain weight. Not that you'd be worried or anything," he tacked on, sort-of as an afterthought.

There was a long pause while the two young men noted mentally that it was awkward indeed for Kankuro to be standing in his living room holding Shikamaru bridal-style. Neither of them voiced this opinion.

Shikamaru sort-of sighed. "Hey, I've got something sort-of creepy that I might as well tell you now."

"I wouldn't worry," Kankuro said. "Whatever you've got to say can't be as creepy as what I was sort-of considering telling you."

Shikamaru blushed, sort-of. "Well, you go first, then."

Kankuro blushed, too, sort-of, not that you could tell under the face paint. "Nah, you first."

"No, really," Shikamaru stopped, turned his head to the ceiling briefly as he had a revelation. He turned his attention back to Kankuro. "Actually, let's blurt it out at the same time... I have a hunch that we're about to say the same thing."

"On three?" Kankuro asked.

"Yeah..." Shikamaru agreed.

"One, two, three," they counted in unison, finally taking a collective deep breath.

"I sort-of like you."

Kankuro and Shikamaru grinned at each other, sort-of.


Temari emerged from her and entered the living room to find her brother and her date making out on the couch.

"Hey, Shikamaru-kun, sorry about the wai— WHOA." Temari began walking backwards, talking herself through the shock. "Turning around... going out the door... finding the others and drinking until I repress everything..."


A/N: I don't write boy-on-boy, not because I have something against it so much as I suck at it, which this story should have provided ample proof of. It doesn't get more soft-core than this... this isn't even fluff, it's like, lite caffeine-free fluff. Not as good, but better for you! (Ok, not even that.)