Shikamaru's scowling face was, as usual, not unnoticed by his mother. In fact, Yoshino had what could only be described as "Mom senses", able to tell when her son was genuinely upset, and when she should interfere. And, after seeing him sulk and look particularly apathetic, she figured that this was one of the few times where she shouldn't step into his life.

At least, not directly. So, she did what she always did when she found a situation she couldn't fix with blatant words and hard smacks; she convinced someone else to do the dirty work. And that poor sucker just happened to be her husband, trying to sleep and relax after a grueling mission.

Well, he should know better, she reasoned. After all, no one relaxes in HER household! The lazy Nara men desperately needed her to keep them in shape. And, well, alive, due to their horrid domestic skills. In fact, if Yoshino didn't cook every day, her boys would probably end up starving to death, ordering take out or rummaging for instant noodles.

So, Yoshino, being the proud woman she was, refused to let the two most important people in her life get that desperate. So, of course she'd throw Shikaku at Shikamaru. The boy was asking for it, sulking and looking out at the horizon.

"Shikaku…" She started, deciding that perhaps the gentle approach would work. "I need a favor." She said, peering at her husband's bedraggled appearance.

"Hm?" he asked, gruff and bleary. "What is it?"

"You need to talk to Shikamaru."

He looked at her. Now, Yoshino and he had decided that their son was important to both of them (oh, you should have seen him when Shikamaru was born, running to the hospital from his mission with twigs in his hair) but, Yoshino was in charge of his well being and emotion while Shikaku would ensure his safety, training him and challenging him.

So, his eyebrow quirked up. The only time he ever needed to speak to his son by his wife's request was when Asuma died. "Is something wrong?"

"He's rather melancholic….not as bad as when the tragedy struck, but bad. He reeks of smoke, more so than usual…"

His eyebrow quirked up even higher. "You know about that?"

She snorted, gently setting her wave of hair over her shoulder. "What mother couldn't? Asuma smelled of it all the time. And, remember, I do our son's laundry, it's not as if his basket is odor proof."

"How much more than usual then?"

"I wrinkle my nose when he walks by…you've been out on a mission for a while now, but Shikamaru has been…particularly upset."

"You think they got in a fight?" He asked.

"Maybe…I know how women take things like that, but it doesn't seem like it…it might have to do with her absence."

"She hasn't been around for a while."

"Exactly."

"What if they fell through?" He asked and instantly regretted it. His wife's brown eyes seemed to spark and her glare was on par with the intensity of a thousand neon suns. Shikaku gulped.

"It would never happen."

"You're right honey!" He said, faking a cheerful grin. She perked up instantly, smiling at him.

"Good. So you'll talk to him?"

"Well-" The glare returned. "….of course."

"Good!" She said happily. "He's in the living room. I'll make tea!"

As she left, Shikaku let out a breath of relief. Yes, he loved Yoshino dearly, in fact, at the very thought of losing her, he'd slaughter something with his bare hands, but she could be….overbearing sometimes. He shuddered, hoping she would never know he thought that of her, and made his way to his son.

Shikaku had to frown. As soon as he walked within five feet of his boy, his nose wrinkled. He took after Asuma more than anyone could have predicted, right down to his troubles. Just like Asuma, he would sit and brood, simmering in his own thought. Even if he was the spitting image of Shikaku, there was very little of him in his son, really. Most of his intelligence was Yoshino's, but his laziness was that of his fathers, and that, at least, made him content.

So, he sat down and looked at Shikamaru. Brown eyes hit brown and the two seemed to stand at an uncomfortable silence.

"Would you like to play shogi?" He asked, knowing it was one of the few things that he could entice his son with. He frowned for a moment but nodded, his thoughts still swirling in his head. As he set up the board and began to play, he started to notice how Shikamaru was more far away and distant than usual, leaving empty pockets, and not bothering with strategy.

"What is it?" He asked, looking at his son.

"Hm?"

"You're obviously not here."

"I'm sitting in front of you." He drawled, voice thick and lazy.

He had to smirk, that was definitely his son. "Physically, yes. Mentally…not so much."

He shrugged. "Just thinking."

"Of?"

"My life."

"How specific."

Silence. Empty and somewhat eerie silence. Shikaku sighed. "Does it have to do with Temari's absence?"

"No." Yes. Shikaku could hear it basically ringing out through the room, flitting around.

"Really?" He raised an eyebrow. Shikamaru only sighed.

Now he remembered why he always left it to his wife. She was so much better at it than he was.

And, of course, as usual, she couldn't keep her nose out of it, walking in and seeing his desperate look. She shook her head, looking amused. Slowly, she walked behind Shikaku's chair and looked at the two cheerfully.

"Sorry to interrupt your game, but Shikamaru, the Hokage would like to see you. Something about a mission to Suna."

He instantly perked up, his eyes landing on his mother and stood. Both parents could see that he was a bit embarrassed for looking too eager and he caught their looks. Shikamaru coughed awkwardly and stuffed his hands in his pockets. "Well…it can't be helped."

"No, I suppose not." Yoshino replied, looking mischievous. He made his way out and Shikaku looked at the woman as she giggled.

"So…what did you have to do to pull that off."

"Tsunade is a horrid gambler, luck was on my side was all."

He shook his head but smiled, wrapping an arm around her waist. "You're such a mom."

"And damn proud of it." She said, nodding. Okay, so she never really stayed out of her son's business, even when he desperately needed her to. But, who could blame her? Only Temari could really spark a fire under him. And Yoshino was really looking forward to her grandbabies. So, she figured that everyone won!


I...am a horrid person. yes, yes, I know. I haven't updated in forever! Unfortunately, I recently fell a little out of love with Naruto, and really, it's getting on my nerves with how slow it's going, but I love this little series. I know it isn't much, but I did try, I swear.

In other news, for those of you who are Fairy Tail fans, I'm REALLY getting into that and loving the complexity of the characters. Gajeel Redfox is LOVE! As is Aries, Levy, Gray, Lyon, and Lisanna. I have many favorites, and many couples, and I've already gotten a few one shots done. Well...in any case, enjoy the meddlin' mama! She just can't get her nose out, can she?