The lone Chuunin walked quietly along the nighttime streets of Konohagakure. It was silent, most people having gone to bed, but for Shikamaru, now was the time he needed to be up most of all. Instead of his normal clothing, he wore a black shirt, no jacket, and a pair of black pants. Mourning clothing.

His eyes were downcast, a brand new pack of cigarettes in one hand with a silver lighter sticking out of them. He sighed and rolled his tongue against the roof of his mouth, still trying to get over the craving of nicotine. No, this pack was reserved for someone special. And sadly, who no longer was standing next to him with a look of joy on his face.

As he turned a corner, silver rays of moonlight wandered down to dance upon his raven hair, licking the corners of his obsidian eyes. So beautiful, yet Shikamaru couldn't enjoy it. His hands lightly fell into his pockets as he closed his eyes and lowered his head. The KIA stone's black hardened rock came into range, and he slowly walked to the front of it. A place for offerings was set to the side, already cleaned off and sent to the archives for now.

"Shikamaru…" A quiet voice whispered, causing the boy to turn slightly and spot his two teammates, each as solemn as he. Ino held a bouquet of white lilies from her botany, and Chouji held a closed bag of chips. All three shifted their gazes away, a strange silence enveloping them.

It had become tradition for the three of them, to come here, at the same time every year, since Asuma had passed. He was their sensei, and it was unbelievable how they missed him. As Ino lied the flowers upon the black plate for offerings, Chouji stuck his chips, then Shikamaru lit a cigarette and placed the pack and the lighter on the edge.

"Take a drag buddy…There's plenty…" He whispered, hearing Ino whimper slightly. He turned back to her, wrapping his arms around her shoulders in an act of comfort, Chouji soon doing the same. As Ino attempted to hold her emotions in, Chouji sighed and squeezed a bit tighter.

"Hey Ino…" He started, pulling back once Shikamaru had and bringing a finger to his ear. "You remember the day that we got these?" She watched him, staring for a moment before bringing her own hand up to finger the silver hoop. Her eyes clouded over a moment before she nodded and Shikamaru chuckled slightly, attempting to lighten the mood.

"Must you remind me of that? It hurts to think about it…"


Chouji pounded down his stairs, completely bypassing his snacks and such, and sliding around the corner. His father stared at him in disbelief as he completely shot out the door and hadn't stopped for a single snack. A grin took over his face and he nearly giggled to himself, making his way to the snacks. Right before he could grab them, a booming voice was from the doorway, Chouji out of breath.

"DAD! Don't TOUCH those!" he yelped, snatching the plate and going to run back out the door. Choumji stared at his son leaving before sighing and whimpering to himself. He was hungry…

x-In another household…-x

A smash of glass sounded out before a slight yelp. As the blonde girl scrambled to sweep everything up, she kept glancing at her clock. She had to go, really soon. Tossing the vase into a wastebasket, the girl hopped the counter and dropped her apron in the hands of Inoshi, her father whom had walked in at the time.

He blinked, looking at the apron then the girl, watching her speed out of the store and down the road, blowing him a kiss as she did. Hanging the apron up, he blinked again before noticing her makeup unused on the counter. He was still blinking.

x-In another household…-x

Scrambling of feet and an 'oof' could be heard in the Nara household, the one in such a hurry obviously not Shikamaru. In fact, it was his mother, hurrying through the house, attempting to get Shikamaru up and out the door. He had stuff to do today!

Her latest attempt had been to throw something at him, his room much too messy for her to get into, but he had simply rolled over and snored away. The boy slept too heavily in his own bed…

Grumbling, she placed her hands in a kata and concentrated, before her shadow suddenly began splitting and growing, whipping around with a snap. Shadow sewing; Kage Nui. As her shadow whipped closer, it stretched to his bed and flipped it over completely, Shikamaru hitting the ground and widening his eyes at his mother whom had a murderous glint in her eyes, still yelling quite loudly and causing him to jump out of the way of a shadow and slam into his closet.

"OKAY! I'm up, just stop!" he yelped, the threads to close for comfort. She growled and dropped the kata, her shadow reforming to its normal one. With a smile she sweetly turned and walked off to another part of the house calling after him, "Hurry up!"

He grumbled and pulled his clothes on, figuring there was going to be a bruise where the closet had connected with his side. Sighing, and mentioning his dislike of troublesome things, he turned and hooked a pouch to his leg, his hands going into his pockets as he slouched through the mess to his room, and slowly out the door. Yoshino watched after him as Shikaku simply sighed and shook his head with a chuckle.

"That boy'll learn eventually…You have to know how to work 'em…"

"Excuse me, Shikaku?" Yoshino now stood over Shikamaru's father, causing him to cough and sputter a bit, pushing from the table and giving a weak smile.

"Nothing, sweetheart."

x-A much more convenient area-x

Sarutobi Asuma stood frowning before the counter in a secluded little building off a street of Konoha. His right hand rose to scratch his head as he stared at the items he really shouldn't be buying, upon the counter. Why he was doing this again, he had no clue.

And the lady holding her laughter in behind the register wasn't helping much, either. He furrowed his brow more and just sighed, motioning her to put them all in the bag; he'd just get them all…She could pick the one she spoke about later.

As the lady handed him the bag, she snickered and spoke quietly behind two fingers.

"You know…when you buy two boxes of those, you get a box of cleanser free." Asuma twitched, his eyes widening. Why the hell the woman would need the first item was oblivious to him, but cleanser?! That was all he needed to hear; he quickly turned around and sped through the door of the boutique. A cigarette soon found its way between his lips to calm his nerves.

As he walked sown the street, the Sarutobi held the bag closed tight, so that most wouldn't see its contents. It was embarrassing enough that he had to go get it. But alas, when a woman talks to you like that and gives you a look like that and promises things like thaaaaat…Then who could say no?

Asuma sure as hell wished he could have. The cigarette diminished sooner than he had expected, and a second one was soon placed in his mouth and lit. He rounded a corner and stopped suddenly. Before him was a certain three shinobi:

A potato chip.

A stick figure.

And a lazy ass.

In other words…

His team. Had they seen him?! He frowned for the umpteenth time within the last hour and sidled against the wall, hiding in the shadows. Good, they weren't paying attention. In fact, they were still staring into the glassy window of a jewelry store.

Jewelry store?

Asuma scoffed and a skeptical look came over his face. They were up to something. As a matter of fact, Shikamaru wouldn't be there unless they were. Right as he was about to simply walk of, uninterested, Ino started talking. Given he couldn't hear her, but she was pointing. Asuma crossed the street, coming behind them, yet far away enough that he could remain unnoticed. For now.

He still couldn't make out what they were saying, but the other two were nodding at her, and she was pointing to a black box. It looked like a ring box, actually. Was Ino getting married and asking for help to pick a ring? But she was only twelve!

What would Inoshi say?! He had to stop this. Asuma reached out, grabbing Ino by the shoulder and causing her to yelp. The other two backed away a bit, their muscular sensei quite intimidating. His eyes fell upon Ino's and he spoke quietly.

"Ino…What are you thinking? Getting married so young?" Once he said it, Chouji coughed, Shikamaru blinked, and Ino flared up. Her face turned red, and she began to stutter.

"W…Wh-what?!" She yelled, annoyed, not embarrassed. The boys backed up a bit more, start to chuckle despite their best efforts. Well, Chouji chuckled, Shikamaru grinned lazily.

"The ring box!" He pointed at the black box he had seen her pointing at. "Who pressured you into making such a decision?!" Before she could answer, a man pulled the box from the window, and stepped out the door, pausing as he opened it and handed it to Ino.

"Yamanaka-san, your transaction is finished. Here they are." He bowed and she nodded a thanks, still to flushed to speak. Instead, she opened the box and shoved it in her sensei's face.

If Asuma could sink into the ground, he would have. Before him lay a pair of earrings, shining in their silver glory. They weren't a wedding ring…'Fix thisfixthisfixthisfixthi—' He interrupted his own thoughts with a grin.

"Ahah, Ino, I know. Don't get so worked up; I was kidding you. I know Sasuke wouldn't have been so forward." Chouji cracked up at this, and Shikamaru covered his mouth, muffling his laughter. Ino looked relieved, then angry. He insulted her Sasuke! However, Asuma turned to leave before she could answer.

"Oi, Asuma-sensei," Shikamaru called, both his teammates looking at him as Asuma turned around, a quizzical look upon his face. "You do know that tampons are for women?" This time, it was the children laughing, and Asuma burning red. 'Damn kids.' He thought as he hurridly headed home to Kurenai.

x-Along the streets afterwards-x

"Well, atleast he didn't ask why we had the earrings." Chouji offered, Ino having had a mood swing and joyous once more. She grinned and nodded, flipping her long blonde hair back and pocketing the box.

"Yup," she grinned. "Who would have thought he forgot his own birthday?" Shikamaru had gone back to his lazy demeanor, grumbling about being there, and troublesome bounties. Ino sighed, and Chouji soon ushered his two teammates down the road towards the bakery. They only had three hours until the party.

x-Said three hours later-x

After all the finalities were finished, and the last minute invites passed out, a slightly large group of people sat in wait in a dark room. It was Asuma's surprise party, and Ino, Chouji, and Shikamaru were ready to go. Naruto lied in wait beside Shikamaru, chouji at the window, and Ino silencing Sakura, Tenten, and Kiba. Lee was grinning so brightly everyone swore you could see it in the dark, and Gai was right behind him. Kakashi read his book by the table, and Sasuke was brooding in a corner. Neji silently watched from his spot on a couch, while Iruka was stationed at the lights.

"He's coming!" Chouji whispered quietly to the others. Everyone finally hushed, and Chouji left the blinds, standing by the door. Footsteps were heard, and a key entered the lock on the door. Anticipation grew and made the air tense and heavy around the party holders, and suspense grew. One lock sounded off, and the key moved to the other one.

As that lock clicked too, the silver knob turned lightly, and Asuma opened his door. He tossed the bag onto the table, not turning the lights on yet. Kurenai grinned and shut the door, nodding to Iruka. With that, the dolphin named nin flicked the lights, and a loud Happy Birthday filled the room.

Asuma was frozen to his spot, staring at the room as his outstretched hand stayed in the position to grab his cigarettes from the table. His mind racked the situation, and slowly he remembered it was his birthday. His birthday…Oh yeah! The silence was broken as he chuckled loudly and grinned.

"For me, eh?! Then let's have a party!" Kurenai smiled brightly at that, and the party commenced happily.

x-Towards the end of the night-x

The party was still going heavily, people drinking and sitting around, all together having a good time. Food had been passed around, and even the usual loners were socializing a bit. Kurenai and Asuma were talking on the couch, the smiling crimson eyed woman blushing as the chainsmoker spoke. Gai had long drunk himself to sleep, and Tenten and Lee were trying to wake him up.

A certain blonde ninja, however, slowly made his way towards a certain table. His blue eyes curiously stared at the bag there, and he picked it up to rummage through it.

Ino pulled the box from her pocket, opening it and pulling out the rings. She handed them to Shikamaru who lazily walked to his sensei on the couch, and held them up. The man chuckled and he stood.

"Ah, so that's what you three were up to."

"Yep," Shikamaru spoke, bringing the jewelry to his ear in a gesture. "Picking these troublesome things out for yo—"

"DATTEBAYO!" Naruto exclaimed, eyes wide as he yanked out a certain content from that bag. Rushing over to Asuma, he slammed past Shikamaru and held up two long white, wrapped sticks.

"ARE THESE LIKE REALLY SPECIAL SENBON?!" He waved them around, and Asuma slowly felt sweat trickle down his neck. Kakashi made his way over, blinking innocently, and smiling at Asuma.

"Hey Asuma…Never knew you had such a feminine side." Asuma jerked his head,

preparing to say something until a groaning Shikamaru sat up from the ground. His face was slightly distorted with some type of pain, and he soon realized that the earrings was gone from his hand.

Shikamaru began to search for it, before a sharp pain rang through his ear and he froze. His hand went up slowly towards his ear, and he felt a slight amount of blood. Oh…Oh dear Kami…

"Shika…maru…" Ino stared at him wide-eyed, Chouji on the otherside as well, both staring at his ear. As he ventured his hand farther up, metal touched the tip of his fingertips. His ear was bleeding…and there was metal…So when Naruto pushed him…

"I pierced…my ear…" He stated bluntly, the thought of what his mother would do to him, devastatingly crossing his mind. The room was silent before a few people started laughing and soon the situation was lightened a bit. Shikamaru remained gloomy, on the fact that his mother would kill him.

However, Asuma got away with hiding the tampons, and not being asked by the hyper active Hokage boy again.


"…Heh heh…Yeah, and then we felt bad for your mom beating on you." Ino grinned, finally lightening up a bit. "So we ended up getting our ears pierced as well. It's like an Asuma tribute, you know?" Her hand dropped, and the others followed suite, glancing at the KIA stone.

"Yeah…but it still hurt." Shikamaru added, causing a nice amount of laughter to come from the group. They silently smiled, bowing at the stone and leaving their roses for the Sarutobi sensei whom they had lost. Chouji smiled, placing an arm around Ino, Shikamaru soon doing the same, as the three walked from the memorial.

And Shikamaru swore, as they walked, he saw the glint of a silver earring, followed by a small cloud of smoke, off by the KIA stone when he looked back at it. He might have been hallucinating…But he knew Asuma was smiling.

Yep...Who would have known Asuma was so kawaii-ly teaseable? But yeah, this was a request from one of my reviewers of Twin Tessens, my ShikaTema fanfic, and is the basis of an idea on how Shikamaru and his team acquired their matching earrings. It's cheesy and lame, I know, but I took long enough on it, and I had no other idea as to why it would be there, that wouldn't have been all angsty and depressing.

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto...Gwaaaah