This is a challenge fiction. I've never written a challenge fic before, so I hope I do this right.

CHALLENGE: By Mind Spectrums

The challenge: A fic of less than 750 words with the line "I always knew pancakes were evil but this is ridiculous!"

Word total: 721 (minus the author notes and disclaimer)

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto

o.o.o.o.o

Chouji liked food. Almost any food. In great amounts. At almost any time. Except pancakes.

Ino becamed intrigued the first breakfast meeting with their new team. At the sight of her pancakes, Chouji had started to look ill and had actually put down his chopsticks and stopped eating.

Yet, somehow, she'd never brought up the subject to her rotund teammate. It wasn't until many years later, while eating at a late brunch with her team, that she saw him do the same thing again. "What's the matter? Don't like pancakes?"

Chouji turned away, blushing slightly as he refused to answer.

Shikamaru dug into own food and grunted. "He thinks they're evil."

Ino's eyebrows shot up, surprised.

"What was the first evil again?" Shikamaru asked his friend.

Chouji muttered, then finally spoke up. "My grandmother made me pancakes on my fifth birthday."

"I used to love pancakes." Shikamaru said sadly. "Now Chouji won't let me touch them."

"You never bothered to warn me about pancakes." Ino huffed, more than a little miffed at the oversight.

Chouji grinned at her. "You never eat." He pointed out reasonably. "And pancakes are fattening. This is only the second time since I've known you that you even looked at a pancake."

Reluctantly, Ino gave him a nudge and a smile in acknowledgment of the accuracy of his words. "So, go on. You're grandmother made pancakes for your birthday, so what?."

"She died that day." Chouji sighed.

Ino looked over at Shikamaru who shrugged. "I didn't put much stock in it either. But then he claims his mother made him pancakes another time, and she fell down some stairs and broke her ankle in three places."

"Ouch!" Ino groaned, "I think I actually remember that! Still, that doesn't mean pancakes are evil."

Chouji sighed and sat back. "I had pancakes the morning that the Sound village attacked. And the morning before we left on that mission to "rescue" Sasuke? Kurenei made pancakes for all of us."

Ino laughed. "Big man, it's all in your mind."

Shikamaru shook his head sadly. "No. I put it down as silly too, but then my mother made them the morning before Asuma's last mission."

Chouji stared at his friend in surprise. "You never told me that."

The shadow nin shrugged, "I didn't want to freak you out."

Ino thought about it a moment, then grinned. "There were pancakes on the table on that first day we became teammates! Nothing catastrophic …."

"Thunderstorm knocked over a tree into our house, poked a hole in the roof." Chouji told her, shaking his head. "What's going to happen today? No idea. But …" The large ninja looked melancholy.

Ino pursed her lips. "Nothing. Nothing bad can happen today. We won't let it."

"Uhm, Ino?" Sakura walked up to them, looking a bit apprehensive. "Can I talk to you a moment?"

"Sure."

"In private." Sakura asked, smiling apologetically to the two men.

"Sure, what's up?" Ino asked as she allowed Sakura to pull her to a quiet corner.

Ino watched her friend chew her bottom lip a moment, before drawing in a deep breath. "I don't know how to say this."

"Well, spit it out." Ino said, getting a bad feeling about this. Her half-eaten pancake turning sour in her stomach.

"That flu bug you thought you had?" Sakura paused and leaned forward to whisper in Ino's ear.

Shocked, Ino's hands flew to her belly while her eyes got big as saucers. "You're sure?"

o.o.o.o.o

Chouji and Shikamaru finished eating their breakfast before their blond teammate sank back down into her chair.

"Ino?" Chouji asked in his gentle manner. "What's wrong?"

"I'm pregnant." She blurted, her large eyes filling with unshed tears.

Shikamaru's eyes closed as he groaned. "I thought you broke up with Gaara?"

"I did." She whispered. "It's not his."

"Whose then?" Chouji asked, rubbing her shoulders gently.

"Kankuro." Ino choked out, then stared at the other two men in horror at the turn her life had just taken.

Chouji stared down at her plate in disgust. "I always knew pancakes were evil but this is just ridiculous!"