Title: Snowstorm.
Fandom: Naruto [manga.
Rating: PG for language.
Genre: EPIC FLUFF.
Summary: Nobody listens to Shikamaru. Well . . . almost nobody. A Shikamaru character study, with botched barbeque and some delicious hot chocolate.
Warnings: Slash and ueber-cuteness.
Pairings/Characters: Shikamaru/Chouji, Ino, Asuma.
Author's Note: THANK YOU FOR HALPING WITH THIS, THADDEUS. But oh, man, this is some G-rated shit (curses notwithstanding). It was supposed to be for 100prompts, but uh, they never got back to me, so. Suck it. Suck some delicious it. Also: there were gonna be some possible shenanigans, but then I remembered: THEY'RE THIRTEEN. SHIT. So. No shenanigans. Just cute. I don't know what the fuck they are all doing at Asuma's house. SLEEPOVER LOLS? The sketch.
Disclaimer: All characters herein are the property of . . . that guy. Who wrote Naruto. Kishimoto? Whatever. His crazy ass. Not mine. I merely steal his characters and cause buttsex.

---

SNOWSTORM.

---

Snow, Shikamaru has decided, is interesting. Sure, it's cold and wet and tends to go down the back of your shirt—especially his shirt, since he seems to be an irresistible target for snowballs; he gives a long-suffering sigh and shivers as frigid water runs down his spine.

But, he feels as he closes the door behind him, setting aside this unpleasantness, snow is very acceptable, as precipitation goes. It's certainly more interesting than rain, which merely plops dully into rivers and forms puddles, which are invariably splashed in right next to where he's walking. And hail probably causes concussions. Snow, on the other hand, is light and pleasant to look at, can be used to build snow ninja, tends to blind opponents, and—most importantly—is intricate and subtle.

There's a snowflake, still frozen, resting on his sleeve. He squints at it, taking note of its shape and texture, then watches it melt to a drop and sink into the fabric of his shirt, leaving a tiny damp patch.

Snow piles up, he thinks. It looks like a big blanket, or like concrete. But what it really is, is many thin little shapes like that one locked together, one big puzzle. He wonders idly what it would be like to prize that never-ending puzzle apart, if he were small enough to walk down in between the snowflakes, and considers whether it would be more efficient to simply break the patterns apart where they locked. He discards this idea as too crude; besides, it overlooks the point, the challenge of the exercise.

A sudden increase in the wind's power on the walls brings him back to the now, if not precisely to the here. He glances outside; the sky is bleak and gray, and the light is fading. He can see Ino still outside, along with most everyone else in Konoha. Even Asuma's outside, leaning against a tree and smoking. Shikamaru sighs. He really expected better of them. He had said that morning: the wind's going to pick up by lunchtime. It's going to pick up a lot. Lots of snow. Lots of snow. The response was a hideous chorus of morning grunts. He had been seriously tempted to tell them to crawl back into their horrible burrows if they couldn't use their damned mouths. It was less noisy when they did that, anyway.

Thick flakes fall outside. Shikamaru can tell they're going to stick and pile up and generally make things difficult. He, of course, is inside, and warm and relatively dry as a result. He's comfortable enough to feel superior. One of these days, he reflects, they're going to have to learn to listen.

Then he realizes who he's talking about, and snorts under his breath.

A tree branch snaps in the chill outside. He cracks his neck, side and the other side, sighs, and settles down to watch the snow fall.

People never pay attention, that's their problem. The ability to really focus has been largely replaced by what Shikamaru likes to call the hyperactive gene; or perhaps it's just that those with the attention spans of gnats tend to draw more attention than those who actually know how to sit still.

It's not exactly meditating, what he does; it's just concentrating, plain and simple, on one thing, a sound or smell or texture, to the exclusion of everything else. He sits down, legs crossed, eyes closed, and listens to the near-silent landings of each individual snowflake.

pah
pah
pah
pah-pah

He hears when the snow starts falling more heavily. He has, he estimates, approximately another half-hour of peace before Ino and Asuma blow in the door, huffing and sneezing and ferrying drifts of snow on the folds of their clothing. He ought to make the most of it. So he cuts off his thoughts completely, and sinks further into the rhythm of the snowfall.

pah-pah
pah-pah
pah-pah
THUNK
pah-pah
THUNK
pah-pah
THUNK
THUNK
THUNK
"AARGH."
pah-pah
THUNK
pah--

Something's burning. This fact registers vaguely in Shikamaru's consciousness just a few seconds before he starts to cough. Through tearing eyes, he sees clouds of smoke drifting merrily past, coming from the kitchen--

"AARGH AARGH DAMNIT AARGH SHIT AARGH."

--from Chouji. Shikamaru sighs and straightens up.

Amidst the swirling smoke at the stove, Chouji is standing, flailing frantically at a heavy pot whose contents, while not precisely on fire, are certainly no longer categorisable as 'food'. Coughing into his sleeve, Shikamaru stomps over to the window and throws it open. The outside chill hits them at the same time, a slight breeze beginning to ferry the smoke out of the kitchen.

"Um," says Chouji. "Whoops."

Shikamaru glances into the pot briefly. He wrinkles his nose. "What was that before it died?"

"Pork," Chouji says, gazing at the charred mess mournfully. "I was trying to make--"

"Barbeque?" Shikamaru shakes his head. "Chouji, I have to tell you, barbeque is definitely not made in pots."

"So I've noticed." He stares at the unfortunate meat for a moment more, then walks over to the window and tosses it outside. They can hear the snow steaming at the pot cools.

"Man, you can't cook," Shikamaru remarks.

"I know." Chouji sighs. "But I really wanted barbeque."

"What about something simpler? Hot chocolate, for example?"

"Oh!" Chouji grins so widely that his eyes disappear. Just for a moment, things seem a bit warmer, despite the wind howling outside. "That's a good idea. Plus we can give some to Ino and Asuma-sensei when they come inside."

"Yeah, maybe they'll whine a bit less if we wait on them," Shikamaru says with a snort, taking four mugs out of the cabinet. Then he frowns, glancing at his friend.

"Chouji," he says slowly, putting the mugs down on the counter, "how come you didn't go outside with Ino and everyone?"

Looking up at him, Chouji blinks, peeling the lid off of the hot chocolate tin. "You said the weather was going to turn bad, didn't you?"

He shakes the tin, peering inside, and a little cloud of powder puffs up, making him cough. Shikamaru looks at him for a moment, unsure. Then he smiles and shakes his head. "Give me that, you idiot," he says, reaching out his hand. "You're going to choke yourself."

---

With every passing minute, the temperature drops. Exactly five and a half minutes after Shikamaru closes the kitchen window, the front door bursts open, and a snow-encrusted, sneezing Ino stomps in, followed by a shivering (but nevertheless mellow) Asuma. They make their way into the kitchen, leaving a trail of wet clothing.

Shikamaru is lounging against the counter, hands wrapped around a steaming mug. He smirks at Ino, who opens her mouth to shout at him and manages a small sneeze. At this point, Chouji distributes chocolate with impeccable diplomacy, not to mention timing, to the near-frozen ninja. Accepting with his ordinary cool grace, Asuma nods into the heat and smiles a little, watching the boys clean up, talking quietly to each other and attempting to ignore Ino, who is still sneezing frantically.

He takes a sip. It's perfect.