Telling Team Ten

Shikamaru officially hated Choji. His best friend status was revoked and there was no chance of him getting it back. That spot was officially filled by Neji now. Because this was going to be torture.

Absolute torture.

Reluctantly, Shikamaru walked through the door Choji held open. The larger ninja strode in behind him and led the way through the restaurant. The eatery was one of the Akimichi properties his clan owned and ran. They had booked a private room so Shikamaru could sit his team down and tell them about the changes in his life.

"This is…"

"Troublesome," Choji finished with a grin.

Shikamaru stifled the urge to smack his former best friend in his grinning mouth. Violence was not the answer. Except when it was. Worst part was Shikamaru was actually considering hurting Choji. He blamed it all on his hormones and the lack of sex he'd endured the last few days since Naruto was on a mission with his Super Pervert teacher.

"Shikamaru?" Choji asked, gently, concern softening his voice.

"This is just so unnecessary," he curtly corrected, as though he hadn't fallen silent for several seconds.

Choji's smirk widened. "Really?"

"Yes." He was sure the Hokage would have told Asuma about his pregnancy in good time – like sometime around when he couldn't take missions – and then the jounin would of course let his team a.k.a Ino know about his burgeoning fatherhood – motherhood. Whatever.

A young male – one of Choji's many cousins – chose to show up at that moment saving him from whatever Choji was going to say. He grinned at the two and placed two large glasses of iced water before them. Shikamaru pulled the closest glass to him and drew circles in the condensation on the glass.

They sat in silence for several minutes. Just when Shikamaru started to wonder if the Kakashi bug bit the other half of his team, Asuma sauntered into the room. "Afternoon," he called out, teeth clenched around an unlit cigar.

"Hi," he replied faintly, while Choji's greeting was much warmer.

Asuma took a seat and turned to him and watched him for several long seconds before saying, "You look like hell, Shikamaru."

"Thanks," Shikamaru muttered sourly. "Why do people keep telling me that? Like I want to hear that? It's not a complement, you know?" he muttered as he shot the jounin a sour look.

Asuma straightened. "You're not sick are you? What did your mother say?"

Shikamaru sighed heavily and leaned forward. "I'm fine."

"Shikamaru!" he demanded.

"I'll tell you everything when Ino gets here."

Asuma cursed and long, broad fingers curled around the end of his cigar and lifted it from his mouth. He held it up and glanced toward the door to the private room as though Ino would choose that moment to appear. She didn't. He grunted. "That girl. Of course she would decide to take her time today."

A delicate knock at the door had them all turning their heads in that direction. "Come in," Choji called. The waiter reentered. "Are you ready to order?" Then he took a second look and asked lightly, " Your final teammate has not arrived?"

"Troublesome girl."

Shikamaru turned and glanced at Choji in surprise. "That's my line," he couldn't help sputtering.

Choji chuckled. "I decided to help you out. Plus, it's not like it isn't true."

"Point," he conceded. "I'm ready to order," he said and glanced at the other two men. Shikamaru knew exactly what he was in the mood to eat. Thankfully, the cravings hadn't ventured into somewhere weird. To be honest half the time he wasn't even sure he was having pregnancy cravings. More often than not he suspected he was just allowing himself to want whatever he wanted, rather than curbing his tendencies. However, he did eat more than normal.

One after another the men placed their orders and with a smile and promise to return as soon as possible with their meals, the waiter left. He hadn't been gone for more than a minute when the door burst open. Glaring at the group, Ino stood in the doorway hands on her hips.

With a huff, she lowered her hands and marched into the room. Shikamaru didn't bother hiding the fact that he was rolling his eyes at her antics. He loved Ino, they'd grown up together so he didn't have much of a choice, but he didn't really like the girl some days and it seemed today might be one of those days.

She took the seat next to Asuma and their team leader, amused smile on his lips, turned to her and said, "Good afternoon, Ino."

"Hi, Asuma-sensei," she sullenly replied. Then she turned to Shikamaru and glared for all she was worth. It wasn't much considering Shikamaru was a high chuunin getting used to having to deal with chuunin and jounin enemies with the killer intent to match. "Why did we have to meet?"

"We already ordered. Do you need to see the menu?" he asked instead of answering.

The heat of her glare rose several degrees before she turned away and released a short burst of chakra. A discrete knock on their door followed. "Hurry up," she yelled.

"Ino," Choji whispered harshly as Shikamaru shook his head. He couldn't believe Ino was being stupid enough to take her irritation out on the service staff, especially around Choji.

The waiter entered and gifted them with a blinding smile. All but Ino. Shikamaru had to lift his hand and discretely cover his mouth because he was grinning too hard.

"How may I be of service?" he asked the room as a whole.

"I'd like to order."

There was a beat of a moment or two before the waiter proceeded to Ino's chair and for just a second Shikamaru wondered if he'd really ignore Ino. When they were younger and Ino was surprisingly more of a brat that was how the Akimichi clan members dealt with her. He still thought fondly on all the times her father had chewed Ino out for embarrassing him.

"I'm sorry," Ino said after several tense moments of staring.

One dark eyebrow arched before a perfectly serene look overcame the waiter's face. "How may I help you?"

Shikamaru felt a little trickle of apprehension at the look. The Akimichi family loved food too much to disrespect a customer's meal by spitting in it, but Shikamaru knew if the family cared just a little less Choji's cousin would be adding a little something to Ino's food.

Still, he made a mental note not to go anywhere not owned by the Akimichi's with Ino.

After Ino ordered and the waiter left, Asuma turned to group and asked, "So, what have you guys been up to?"

Choji leaned forward. "I've been working on mastering one of my clan's techniques."

"Oh?" Asuma prodded.

"Yeah, working on expanding and lengthening my limbs."

Asuma frowned in confusion. "I thought you could do that."

"Uh, I meant one body part. Like only my left or right leg and quickly. I can do it like that," he said, finishing with a snap of his fingers and sure enough the other hand doubled in size at the same time.

Asuma smiled broadly. "That's great, Choji. Impressive really." He turned to the female of the group. "What about you, Ino?"

She huffed and folded her arms across her chest. "Why are we here? Not that I don't love you guys, but I had plans. Important plans and lunch with you isn't exactly at the top of my list, so if we could get to why we're here, I'd like that."

"Got somewhere important to be?" Asuma asked, and Shikamaru just knew their teacher was asking, hoping that Ino said yes so he had a reason to excuse her behavior. Shikamaru would have told him to save the effort.

"As a matter of fact, I do," she replied icily. "I was hoping to hang out with Tenten."

"Still chasing Neji?" Shikamaru couldn't help asking.

Ino flushed a pretty red and shook her head. "No, I'm not," she retorted but Shikamaru could easily hear the lie. He'd known her too long.

To be honest Shikamaru didn't understand why Ino bothered. First of all, Neji was a Hyuuga and while he might be willing to date someone from another clan, the Hyuuga Elder's would never allow him to have a serious relationship with anyone who didn't share their bloodline. The only expectation would be if that person was very important and had something to bring to the clan whether it is monetary, societal, or political. The Elders were bloodthirsty bastards so he could easily see them selling out a branch member for some gain.

Unfortunately for Ino she just didn't have that much clout. Oh, her clan was important in Leaf, but that was as a whole. They didn't have the political, economic or social weight that the Uchihas' had.

Also, Neji himself has higher standards of what a ninja should be than Sasuke did before the Uchiha turned traitor and the Hyuuga wasn't going to look at a girl who barely passed her chuunin exams.

With a frown, Shikamaru realized the sharpness of his thoughts and felt poorly for thinking so lowly of his friend. Hormones. Ino was pretty and smart and articulate and really Neji would be lucky to be with her.

"Right," Asuma drawled after a moment. "Well, at least this one is loyal to Leaf."

An uneasy hush settled among the diners as they were vividly reminded of Sasuke's defection. After several tense seconds, Asuma turned to Shikamaru and asked, "What have you been up to since I've been gone?"

He shrugged. "Not much," he admitted. "I'm sure you checked in with the mission Office, so you know I haven't taken any missions."

Asuma nodded.

"So, you've been training? That makes sense."

"Actually, I haven't been training. Can barely make it to the training grounds most mornings," he corrected with a shrug.

Asuma frowned fiercely. "Look Shikamaru, I know sometimes training may seem too troublesome, but it's needed. You can't get lazy. That's how damned good shinobi die."

"I'm not getting lazy. I promise. I've actually got an excuse."

"Really?" Ino sneered. "What is it? Cloud watching taking up too much of your time?"

"Actually, I'm pregnant."

For a moment no one moved, let alone replied. Then slowly as though it was taking his muscles time to response, Asuma's eyes widened and his fingers went lax around his cigar. The tobacco fell to the tabletop and the sound seemed to echo through the room.

Choji released a low chuckle and grinned.

"Uh, did Sai infect you?" Ino asked, watching Shikamaru with considering eyes.


"Well, you've got Sai's sense of humor. Didn't know something like that could catch. I mean Sai's hot in a Sasuke-ish sort of way, but he's way too weird. It doesn't really work for you. At all, actually."

Shikamaru sighed. "Ino, I'm not joking. My mom did the test. I'm pregnant."

"What?" she squawked.

"And Naruto is the father," he continued as though he hadn't heard her.

She leaped to her feet and screeched, "Uzumaki?" at the same time that Asuma dropped his head to his hands and muttered, "Fuck!"

Thankfully, their waiter chose that moment to return with their dishes. Shikamaru breathed a sigh of relief. He was starving.

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Kisses and Cake!