Restoration and Recovery
Dust and bits of earth fell to the ground in what felt like slow motion. Temari looked around her slowly, warily. The battlefield was shrouded in an eerie silence. The younger shinobi that were still alive looked relieved, yet confused. Veteran shinobi were alert and scanning their surroundings like the kunoichi. She had been in a dream, but she didn't dare think about those visions now. Temari began shouting orders for regrouping not wanting to risk being taken by surprise. The woman's commands were immediately followed as stunned shinobi scattered. The Sunan organized what little remained of fourth division and the reinforcements that had been sent to assist. Gaara and Shikamaru were gone; both somewhere near the main altercation helping Naruto. Temari's left arm hung limply at her side, it had been unusable since the meteor collision. As she continued assessing the situation and issuing orders, Matsuri walked up and began to heal her shoulder and arm.
"It's just an arm," snapped the blonde kunoichi, "there are shinobi close to death that need you more than I do."
"But, Temari-san," pleaded Matsuri.
"Sabaku no Temari!" yelled a sensor shinobi as he ran up. "You are requested at these coordinates immediately. It's over! The war is over!"
"Understood," the nin from Suna barked as she pulled out a scroll to seal her giant iron fan. "Who will take over here?" she asked the sensor shinobi. Matsuri began to heal Temari's shoulder again despite the glare she was receiving. Once the transfer of command was arranged the blonde patted Matsuri on the head as she turned to leave. "Thanks," the woman smirked as she turned to run towards the coordinates.
"It's still not completely healed!" the young med-nin yelled after the blonde kunoichi. "You're welcome," Matsuri whispered as she began to move towards her next patient.
Gaara walked slowly from the medical unit towards the new command post, his mind listing off all of the immediate needs and concerns. He was still trying to sort out what all happened while everyone was under the influence of the infinite tsukiyomi.
"Yo," greeted a familiar voice, "glad you're still alive."
"Kankuro," Gaara said softly with a sense of relief. The Kazekage turned just in time to be bear hugged by the puppeteer. "We didn't hear from the surprise attack unit and I had feared we lost you," the red head whispered as he reluctantly hugged his brother back.
"Ah, I'm hard to kill," the puppet master stated with a chuckle. "So, is this really all over?" the black clad nin asked. Gaara simply nodded his head in response.
"Am I late for the family reunion?" Temari chimed in as she ran up to the two. Kankuro gave her a big grin as he playfully smacked her shoulder, which caused her to wince.
"Oh, whoa. Sorry, I didn't know you were hurt," Kankuro quickly apologized.
"It's nothing, I'll be fine," Temari responded quickly as she turned to Gaara. The Kazekage was already giving her a knowing stare though.
"Report to medical first, get your shoulder taken care of, and then report for your duties. That is an order as your Kazekage and a request from a concerned brother." Gaara pointed the direction of the medical tent as he gave his sister a pleading look.
"Fine," grumbled the blonde under her breath. Temari turned to begin walking towards the medical unit when she glanced over her shoulder. "Hey, you two, I'm glad you're both OK," she said softly.
"Ditto, sis," Kankuro added wearily. "We've lost a lot of shinobi."
Gaara nodded in agreement.
"Kazekage-sama!" yelled a shinobi as he ran up to give a report.
Temari turned back away and began to walk slowly towards the medical area. 'Who has survived? How many people that I know are now dead? The dream, what do I do about what my dream was?' the kunoichi thought as her feet continued one in front of the other. Her shoulder was aching and now that she wasn't running on pure adrenaline she was beginning to feel it. She moved her hand to brace her shoulder without really thinking as her mind continued trying to process everything.
"Hey, are you OK?" she heard a familiar voice come up beside her.
She looked up to see Shikamaru watching her with concern written all over his face. Temari was hit with a flood of emotions all at once. She wasn't prepared to see him yet; she had not had enough time to come to terms with her dreams and what they meant. The blonde didn't think about trying to conceal her feelings though as she smiled and sighed, "You're alive."
"Yeah," the pony tailed genius chuckled. "I came pretty close to not being alive, but decided I have things I really needed to live for."
The green eyed woman shook her head and snorted, "Well, that's good. I don't want to feel guilty about not being there to save you as usual."
Shikamaru smiled and rolled his eyes, "Whatever." The genius shoved his hands into his pockets as the two arrived at the medical tent. He stood quietly as Temari checked in with a nurse that promptly left the room once all the necessary paperwork was filled out. The blonde shrugged and sank into one the chairs of the waiting area.
"I'm sure you have things you need to be doing," Temari sighed. "This may take a while," she grumbled under her breath. The kunoichi's face brightened when she looked back up at the Nara. "I'm guessing that I'll be working with you to coordinate the demobilization of troops?"
"Oh, yeah," the black haired shinobi answered absent mindedly. "I need to report to Tsunade actually," Shikamaru mumbled as he started to rub the back of his neck. "When you are done here, report to the logistics tent. We can start putting together our plans for demob with data from there. We also have to collect intelligence during the demobilization as far as who battled who, what techniques were used, who saw who die, where are their bodies. It's all troublesome, really," sighed the Nara.
"We'll get it done," laughed Temari. "Together we can do almost anything." The kunoichi smiled until she realized what she had just said and how it sounded. 'The stupid dream,' she inwardly cursed. The blonde immediately regretted saying it as soon as the words left her lips, but Shikamaru turned and gave her an odd look. He looked pleased, yet conflicted. The Konoha nin stepped closer so he was standing directly over where she sat.
"I'm really glad that you're OK," the shadow user said softly as he reached down and brushed his hand along the side of her face. He looked at her as if trying to memorize every detail of her face as he gently placed his hand on the side of her face and ran his thumb across her cheek.
Temari felt her face get warmer as her eyes locked with his. Her breath hitched. 'It was just a dream, wasn't it?' she thought. She wanted to look away, but felt as though she couldn't. "I'm really glad that you're alive too," she said in barely a whisper as she gently put her hand on top of his.
"Temari!" called a medical nin that walked into the tent.
The blonde dropped her hand as she quickly jumped up at the sound of her name. Shikamaru quickly shoved his hands into his pockets as he turned to walk out. Temari walked over to the medical nin as Shikamaru got to the exit of the tent. The Nara looked over his shoulder at the sand kunoichi as she watched him leave. He smiled, not his usual smirk, but genuinely smiled as they locked eyes for the last time when he ducked under the flap of the tent to leave.
The medical nin began asking questions as she escorted Temari to another tent for evaluation and treatment. The blonde's head felt as though it was trying to process and analyze things at 100 miles an hour. 'Did that really just happen?' she thought.
Shikamaru and Temari walked slowly in the forest holding hands as they laughed and talked. It was night time, but there was a full moon shining through the leaves. They reached a clearing that was filled with wild flowers that looked like they were almost glowing in the moonlight. The Nara turned her to face him as he got down on one knee. He proposed, she accepted. They kissed. The kiss and the embrace felt so warm and real, but Temari's mind was screaming that it wasn't. The dark haired shinobi laid Temari down in the flowers as he began to kiss down her neck. The blonde ran her fingers down his back then gripped the bottom of his shirt. She quickly jerked it up and over his head with a smile. The genius smiled back as he placed his hand on the side of her face, looking at her as if she were the most beautiful creature on the planet. He began to rub his thumb over her cheek then leaned down and kissed her again. The weight of his body felt so real, the feel of his skin, the warmth and smell of him was maddening. 'Wake up!' she screamed at herself. 'Wake up!'
Temari bolted up out of her sleep covered in sweat and breathing as if she had just ran a marathon. She looked around and realized that she was in a post op bed sore and slightly disoriented. Kankuro was asleep in a chair beside her. The blonde looked around for some indication of what time it was. "Ugh, I knew it hurt but didn't think it would require surgery," she grumbled as she rubbed her shoulder.
The puppet master yawned as he stretched. "Hey, Gaara wanted me to take you to your tent so you could rest for the night before starting your work."
"How long have I been out?" the blonde asked anxiously. The kunoichi's head was a jumbled mess between sorting out what was real, what was the infinite tsukiyomi, and what was from the sedation medications.
"You've been over here around six hours," Kankuro answered as he stood up. "Gaara and Shikamaru wanted me to stay with you when medical reported how much work you needed," the puppeteer smiled. Kankuro had changed into his casual clothes and removed his makeup, so he looked just like their father at that moment. That sight caused a whole other series of images to flash through Temari's head. 'The tsukiyomi,' she reminded herself. 'It wasn't real, it was the infinite tsukiyomi. I know what my childhood really was. It cannot truly change the past. I have to sort out what memories are real and what were only dreams.'
Kankuro called for the doctor who came in and discussed with Temari what was done, what she needed to do, and things to be careful of. The blonde listened carefully and was quickly discharged to free up another bed for the many patients that the medical unit had.
Kankuro directed Temari to where her quarters were and walked her there at a leisurely pace. The two chatted about nothing really until Temari stopped suddenly.
"What's the matter?" Kankuro asked sounding concerned.
"The infinite tsukiyomi," the blonde stated sounding annoyed. "I'm having a hard time separating my real memories from the fake ones," she almost growled.
"Yeah," the puppet master agreed. "We're all having that problem, it's not just you. Don't worry about it," he shrugged.
Temari grunted in agreement as she started walking again. The two fell back into idle chit chat as they walked the final distance to Temari's tent.
"Well, here you go!" Kankuro gestured with his thumb. "Get some sleep and I'll see you in the morning!"
"Thanks," Temari replied as she walked into the tent and waved goodbye. The blonde walked over to the sleeping bag and plopped onto her stomach wanting to bury her face in a pillow. "I'm afraid I won't be sleeping very well though," she told the empty tent.
Shikamaru was playing shogi with his dad as Asuma and Choji chatted with them both. The men all turned to look when there was a bout of laughter. Kurenai was holding a sleeping toddler chuckling as Ino laughed loudly beside her. Yoshino and Temari were laughing so hard they had tears in their eyes, but Temari abruptly stopped and placed a hand on her stomach.
"Is something wrong?" Yoshino immediately asked looking concerned.
Shikamaru looked to his father who nodded for him to go over to check on his wife. The pony tailed Nara quickly moved to behind where the blonde was sitting.
Temari looked confused, but didn't appear to be in any pain. She shook her head no in response to the question from her mother in law, but sat there with her hand resting on her stomach. Temari met Shikamaru's concerned look with a smile as she gently pulled his hand onto her stomach. The genius gave her a perplexed look until he felt it. There was movement underneath where she had placed his hand.
"The baby, I can feel the baby moving," she happily whispered to him looking up at him in awe.
Shikamaru smiled as he wrapped his other arm around Temari and kissed the back of her neck.
Shikamaru woke up as he placed a hand to his forehead. 'It's the dream, it's just the dream,' he told himself. "It wasn't real," he said to the empty tent as if saying it out loud would make it easier to deal with. The genius thought about earlier in the day when he saw the kunoichi from Suna. He initially felt scared and conflicted about approaching her with the extremes that his dreams had been with her. He was so happy to see that she was alive, but part of him didn't want to go back to the reality where they were nothing more than friends. He had had so much more in his dreams and now he wanted that in reality, but he just didn't know if she felt the same way.
The shadow user analyzed everything they said, her reactions, her body language. He tried to recall exactly how the smooth skin of her face felt against his hand in reality compared to how it had felt in the dream. Today was so much better, it was real. He stared at the top of the tent pondering whether he wanted to forget the dreams in the infinite tsukiyomi or not.
"She put her hand on top of mine," he said out loud as if trying to convince himself. "She said she was really glad that I was alive, but why? Does she really feel the same way about me?" The Nara tossed a blanket across the tent out of frustration. "I never thought there would be a day that I would have trouble sleeping," he grumbled. The dark haired shinobi got dressed, left his tent, and shoved his hands into his pockets as he walked. Shikamaru looked up at the star filled sky as he mindlessly wandered through the camp. It was probably somewhere near 3am in the morning he guessed. He passed guards every so often as his feet continued to walk. He then saw the candle light flickering in the logistics tent, which piqued his interest. He concealed his chakra as he silently moved to where he could see inside.
Temari sat at a table surrounded by paperwork talking to herself. The genius felt his chest tighten as he looked at her. The blonde's hair was down, falling in waves around her face. She had on a black yukata that she had sat on in a way that it revealed far too much of her legs because the Nara was having a hard time thinking straight. Images flashed through his head again. Him kissing her, holding her, making love to her. Temari was his in the infinite tsukiyomi and he was hers. His thoughts were interrupted when she raised her voice.
"Ugh!" the kunoichi groaned. "Stay busy, Temari, just stay busy!" She picked up a stack of papers as she stood up. "Don't think about that stupid dream, it wasn't real. Just stop thinking about it," she growled as she slammed the papers down in their new location. The nin from Suna walked back to her chair and sank down as she grabbed her head. "Focus on your task at hand and nothing else," she almost whimpered. "If you try to think too much, you'll only get confused," she moaned as she laid her head down on the table.
The genius stood up and walked into the tent as he shoved his hands into his pockets. "You couldn't sleep either?" he drawled as he pulled up a chair next to Temari. The blonde simply shook her head from side to side in response as she started reading reports again. "Mind if I join you?" he asked mischievously.
Temari couldn't help but chuckle. "You're volunteering for work? Wow, you must really be having a hard time sleeping too." The pony tailed shinobi shrugged in response. "Fine," she laughed, "how about starting on that stack there." The two worked in comfortable silence for a good half hour. Temari was working quickly, obviously trying hard to keep herself occupied. Shikamaru was working at a leisurely pace since he was thinking about multiple things.
The Nara cleared his throat once he decided what his next course of action was going to be. "I couldn't help but hear you just before I walked in," he said slowly as he looked up from his papers towards the blonde. Her green eyes snapped up and met his as he continued, "I'm getting confused too."
The kunoichi sat her papers down as she spoke barely above a whisper, "It seemed so real. I thought it would be easier to forget, but in a way it is haunting me."
Shikamaru nodded his head in agreement. "It's hard to distinguish what really happened in the past and what happened in the infinite tsukiyomi," he stated quietly. "Then there are the things that you wish were true in real life that you had in the dream. Asuma and my father were still alive in my dream. It's hard to not long for that, but somehow even while in the dream I knew it was wrong."
Temari's eyes widened with realization, "Oh, Shikamaru, you're father. I'm so sorry." The blonde shifted her weight in her seat obviously uncomfortable with the subject. "I," she paused, "I'm not good at this sort of thing." She looked down at the table as she continued, "I do know what it's like to lose a parent. Heck, I've lost both. Anyways, what I'm trying to say is if you need anything…" She paused trying to find the right words then huffed in frustration. "Well, you know what I'm trying to say," she grumbled.
Shikamaru chuckled, "Yeah, actually I do know what you're trying to say." He leaned back in the chair and placed his hands behind his head. "I don't think it will really hit me hard until I get home. Staying busy helps too," he sighed as he lowered his hands and picked up another stack of documents.
Temari looked down at her papers trying to appear occupied as she tried to casually ask her next question. "So," she hesitated and bit her lower lip for a moment, "what was your dream about it?"
Shikamaru couldn't help but stop and smirk at the blonde who was trying very hard not to look at him. He placed his head in his right hand as he laid the papers he was looking at down with his left. He watched the kunoichi closely as he answered, "I thought we were both trying to avoid thinking about our dreams?"
The nin from Suna waved dismissively without looking up. "Yeah, you're right. Never mind."
'Damn,' Shikamaru thought. 'This is going to be a challenge with her, isn't it? Time to change tactics.' "Well, I don't know," drawled Shikamaru, "maybe it would be good to discuss them. What did you dream about, Temari?"
Temari's breathing stopped for an instant, fast enough most people wouldn't have noticed. "Family," she answered without looking up from her papers. Shikamaru could tell that it wasn't a lie, but it wasn't the complete truth either.
"Go on," the genius encouraged as he watched her body language.
Temari put the papers down as she looked straight ahead, not really looking at anything. "It was redoing my complete childhood. It was happier, better." The kunoichi paused not sure of how much detail to go into, but decided to say what was on her mind. "In my dream my mother survived giving birth to Gaara, so my father never hated him. My father never became cold and distant, didn't fall under the control of the Akatsuki, and actually established a peace treaty with Konoha. The Leaf and the Sand became allies, Naruto and Gaara became friends at a young age, we were all so happy," the blonde stated softly.
"What happened when you were older?" the shadow user asked trying to hide his interest. He was still watching her closely, but she appeared to be lost in her thoughts.
Temari actually turned her head away from Shikamaru as she answered. "I got married and moved away. My brothers and parents tried to visit every couple months, but once Gaara became Kazekage I had to try to make it to Suna every so often since it was harder for him to come visit."
'Hmmm, interesting reaction,' the genius thought as he pressed her further. "Did you have any children?" he asked.
Temari turned around and glared at him at this point, obviously getting flustered. 'Checkmate,' he thought with a smirk coming to his lips.
"Yes, but it doesn't matter because it was just a stupid dream," she almost yelled.
Shikamaru put his hands up and nodded his head in understanding. "Whoa, whoa, I get it." He shrugged as he offered, "I could tell you about mine if you want to talk about that instead?"
The blonde chuckled, "Really? I can call that one now, your dream involved cloud watching and sleeping. The end."
Shikamaru pretended to be hurt as he put a hand to his chest. "Well, that did happen occasionally, but that's not really what was important."
"Do tell," the blonde teased obviously in a better mood since she didn't have to talk about her dream.
"Asuma was there for the birth of his son, my dad was there for my wedding and the birth of his two grandchildren," Shikamaru paused and smiled. "I had a lot of responsibilities and had to work a lot, but I was actually happy. Funny, isn't it?"
Temari actually laughed out loud. "We are put into a dream state to dream our perfect world and you actually gave yourself work? I've heard it all now!" She shook her head from side to side, "You really are a glutton for punishment."
"More than you know," he mumbled under his breath as Gaara walked into the tent.
"Why aren't both of you sleeping?" the red head asked looking confused.
"Probably the same reason you aren't sleeping," chuckled Temari. "Pull up a seat and tell us about your dream."
The Kazekage looked at the two for a moment before he shrugged and sat down. "Well, it started as my childhood but better. Mother survived giving birth to me and father never hated me. My father never became cold and distant, didn't fall under the control of the Akatsuki, and actually established a peace treaty with Konoha. The Leaf and the Sand became allies; Naruto was my best friend and came to visit often. We were all so happy."
Temari and Shikamaru both looked at the Kazekage puzzled, then at each other. "Gaara, that's exactly like my dream," Temari said slowly as she looked back at her brother.
"Really? I guess since we are so close in real life we actually shared that part of our dreams," the Kazekage said in his monotone voice.
Temari and Shikamaru then looked at one another with their mouths slightly hanging open, not sure what to say to one another. They were so busy staring at one another; they didn't notice the slight smile come to the Kazekage's lips.
"Married?" Shikamaru said. Temari shook her head yes. The couple's eyes were locked onto one another.
"Two kids. The oldest a girl, the second a boy?" the blonde asked. The Nara simply shook his head in agreement.
Shikamaru quickly stood and walked over to the Kazekage, "Gaara-sama may I have permission to ask for your sister's hand in marriage?"
The Kazekage feigned deliberation before waving his hand and shaking his head yes. Temari had stood up and was walking towards the two at this point. "What are you..?" the kunoichi started to ask.
"Thank you, Gaara-sama," Shikamaru bowed before turning around and grabbing Temari up into his arms. The blonde placed her hands on both sides of his face as they began to kiss. "I love you," the genius breathed in between kisses.
"I love you," the kunoichi whispered as she smiled. "Why did it take this stupid dream to get us to admit that?" she laughed before wrapping her arms around his neck. The Nara walked quickly out of the tent towards his own with the kunoichi wrapped around him.
The Kazekage began to chuckle as soon as the couple was out of sight. The red head stood as his third eye came down from the ceiling where he had been listening and watching their entire conversation. "I wonder if they will eventually figure out what I did?" the red head asked quietly. "They're both smart enough they really should have figured that out on their own by now."
Yes, I am still working on the follow up to Temari's Tournament, but I am not publishing any chapters until it is completely done. I apologize for my absence to everyone, but even with as crazy as my life is I had to get a couple ShikaTema shorts out in honor of Naruto 678.
Hugs to glockcourage, ohdee, lollipopmania, and all the authors/reviewers that have sent encouraging messages during my absence. Really hoping to be back regularly soon!