Title: The Lost Things

Characters: Shikamaru, Tenten, Neji

Summary: He just realized three important things in the span of less than five minutes—that the Hyuuga does know how to get jealous, and that for all her intelligence, Tenten was pretty oblivious. That, and he might have just come to appreciate her a little more, for reasons he wouldn't be caught dead saying aloud.

A/N: A sort of companion one-shot to "Sleepwaking" from my Beginnings series. This one is from Shikamaru's point of view.

The Lost Things

Cover your eyes with paper gloves
That you stole from paper sheep
Tracing their jumps on the paper sky
Where they fall on paper seas

"Do you count sheep backward to fall asleep?"

He should have seen it coming. He was supposed to be a genius after all, the smartest in his age group. Still, it amused him how she could be so unpredictable at times.

He tched. "No. Too troublesome."

And it was. In his mind, he reasoned that counting sheep backward would in fact not help him fall asleep, because he'd be too preoccupied making sure he did not miss a single number. That, and counting backward required too much brain cells, and he did not feel like wasting any on them on those four-legged bags of wool.

"Typical," she answered, and Shikamaru could swear she was grinning from ear to ear, even when he had his eyes closed. It amused him a little to realize that he had grown so accustomed to her presence that he could correctly guess her facial expression just by the sound of her voice.

"Tch." Women are so troublesome.

"Ah, that one looks like a pineapple," he heard her say, chuckling a little. "No, scratch that," she continued, after a short pause. "It actually looks more like your head, Shika!"

Shikamaru groaned. Not for the first time that day, he wondered why he had even bothered telling her that he planned to go cloud-watching near the riverbank that afternoon. He should have known she would convince him to let her join him, or at least blackmail him with something utterly ridiculous but very effective. Still, a small part of him wanted her to be there (he did not wish to dwell on that part yet), so he didn't object to her self-invitation.

He was dangerously realizing that he liked her company more than he cared to admit.

When he felt that she had quieted down, Shikamaru risked opening half an eyelid to sneak a peek at her. About an arm length's away, lying comfortably on the grass beside him, with her eyes closed and a soft, dreamy smile on her face, the chunnin genius studied Team Gai's weapons specialist, Tenten.

She was clad in her usual training attire, nothing too revealing or fancy, unlike his teammate Ino (for the life of him, he still could not figure out why the Yamanaka daughter had to dress in such revealing clothes, even during trainings). Her hair in her signature twin buns, her face without a hint of makeup, Shikamaru found Tenten pretty, beautiful, even, in her simplicity.

He had stopped trying to figure out how they became close. It was too troublesome to get into the details anyway. All he knew was she had to replace Ino last-minute in a crack mission his team was assigned in, and when they had come back to the village, he found out that she had grown on him, or him on her. Even Chouji took a liking on Tenten, although most of the time, he'd invite her to yakiniku rather than cloud-watching.

Shikamaru suddenly realized that he had both his eyes open, observing the silently sleeping kunoichi beside him. She looked so peaceful, so innocent, as if her hands had not been dirtied with dry blood from all the trainings she had undertaken under the direction of Maito Gai, as if she had not made her first kill yet (which he knew she has, she had told him that in passing while they were on their way back from the mission), as if she was a normal girl who was not troublesome at all.

And he found himself smiling just a little wider, and moving a little closer to Tenten's sleeping form, Shikamaru closed his eyes and dozed off himself.

He was woken up by small stone hitting him squarely on the chest. Shikamaru blinked open sleepy eyes and turned to the obvious source of the stone. "What was that for?"

He didn't expect the Hyuuga protégé to be there.

"I told you to remind me that I have a sparring session with Neji at four!"

He sat up lazily, scratching his head. "But you looked so peaceful, sleeping like that." That, and he completely forgot about reminding her. It was too troublesome to remember things like that, especially when there were other more important things to think about—like how it felt right to be lying next to her as he lazily watched the clouds.

Shikamaru contemplated on explaining further when an icy, annoyed voice cut through his thoughts. "Why are you with him?"

He suddenly felt irked, for some reason. As far as he knew, Tenten and Neji were not involved in any romantic relationship, so technically, Neji had no say as to who the kunoichi hung around with. Sure, he had a hunch that the Hyuuga harbored feelings for the weapons specialist, and maybe Tenten reciprocated the feeling too (now that soured his mood for some weird reason), but so long as nothing was official, Neji should not speak in that tone.

"I didn't know I had to consult with you my choice of friends."

Shikamaru almost nodded in agreement, had Neji not answered, his voice growing colder, if that was at all possible. "You don't."

Tenten growled."Could have fooled me."

Shikamaru, for all his admiration for Team Gai's weapons' specialist, did not want to get in the way of a fight between the two older ninjas. He had seen them spar before; it wasn't pretty, and it would be too troublesome to dodge all of Tenten's weapons, or avoid Neji's Gentle Fist. He was about to excuse himself when Neji spoke, "I'll see you tomorrow then."

"Excuse me?" The shock in Tenten's answer was undeniable. He himself was surprised. He had always thought that Neji was as stubborn as a block, but apparently, the Byakugan-user had backed off without putting up much of a fight.


"Since you're too busy watching the clouds to come to our session today, I'll just see you tomorrow." There it was, that somethingin his voice that Shikamaru did not miss. It was as if Neji wanted to say something else, but being the stuck-up, stoic person that he was, he couldn't bring himself to do it.

Shikamaru almost grinned. (He didn't, of course, because the Hyuuga was still looking at them, and he didn't want to risk a confrontation.)

"What are you…" but before Tenten could even finish her sentence, Neji already walked off, leaving her and Shikamaru alone. "That arrogant piece of…argh!" she hissed, turning to Shikamaru and glaring at him."What are you looking at?" she demanded.

Shikamaru could tell her that he was looking at her because he had just realized three important things in the span of less than five minutes—that the Hyuuga does know how to get jealous, and that for all her intelligence, Tenten was pretty oblivious. That, and he might have just come to appreciate her a little more, for reasons he wouldn't be caught dead saying aloud.

But being the genius that he was, Shikamaru merely shrugged and lied down again.


Summer was once where the whitest winter breathed
I know it somewhere, right behind our teeth
Coming, we're coming, we're calling

The title makes no sense, but I decided to use the title of the video where I got the song that became my prompt for "Sleepwaking." That, and Shikamaru does seem lost most of the time anyway.

Reviews will be lovely, and flames will be used to roast marshmallows.