Author Notes: Hello, everyone! Welcome to the second installment of my ShikamaruxTemari series, the first one being Convincing the Boy. This story will make more sense if you've already read that one. Enjoy :)

Setting: Somewhere in the early chapters of Shippuden before the chunin exams.

Warnings: AU. Possible OOCness.

Rating: 'T'

Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Masashi Kishimoto.

- Story Start -

Temari's three day journey from the Leaf Village back to her home in the Sand was uneventful.

It was a good thing since a part of her mind insisted on dwelling on her conversation - she refused to call it confrontation - with Shikamaru just before she left. His refusal to respond to her teasing... her refusal to give up... and all of it culminating in the promise he had given her together with that rather masterful kiss.

The girlish and well hidden part of Temari fancied she could still feel his warm lips against hers, but the rest of her remained alert as to her surroundings as she moved through the trees.

On the morning of the third day, she arrived at the Sand Village. She nodded to the two guards posted at the entrance who greeted her respectfully.

"Where is Lord Gaara?" she asked.

"The Kazekage is in his office with Lord Kankuro."

"Thank you." Temari wanted to see her brothers, but that could wait until after she had washed off the dust of three days' worth of travel. It wouldn't be the first time she had dropped by to say 'Hello' only to be pulled into a discussion that lasted for hours.

Thirty minutes later, bathed and dressed in a clean outfit, she made her way to the Kazekage's office and knocked on the door.

"Enter."

Temari opened the door and went in, smiling to see Gaara sitting behind his desk and Kankuro perched on it at one end.

"Gaara. Kankuro."

"Temari," Gaara greeted, "I am glad you are safely home."

"Good to see you, sis," Kankuro added. "How was your journey here?"

"The best kind - uneventful," Temari replied as she went to perch on the other side of Gaara's desk. With just the three of them present, she didn't feel the need to stand on ceremony. "We've finalised every detail of the chunin exams so all that's needed is your approval and the Hokage's."

She handed the scroll to Gaara who took it from her with a nod of thanks.

"I will look at it tonight, but I am sure it is fine," he assured her.

"So, how is Shikamaru Nara doing?" Kankuro asked.

Just the mention of his name brought up the image of Shikamaru smiling at her right before he kissed her. To her embarrassment, Temari felt herself blush. She quickly hopped down from the desk.

"He's fine," she said shortly. "If there's nothing urgent, I think I'll go look-"

"Your face is red," Kankuro said, stating the obvious.

Already halfway to the door, Temari swung around to glare at him. He was blunt as a brick, nothing new there.

"What happened with Shikamaru, Temari?" Gaara hadn't moved and his expression and voice hadn't changed at all, but he was holding himself very still.

Temari switched her glare to him. He was overprotective, nothing new there either.

"Nothing happened," she insisted.

Kankuro raised an eyebrow at her, Gaara giving the solid impression he was doing the exact same thing.

"Fine," she huffed. They were her brothers after all. "Just that we... we're a couple now."

In an instant, both brothers had moved from behind the desk and were standing in front of her, making her blink in surprise. Overprotective Brotherly Killing Intent had dropped several degrees into the safer, but more exasperating Curious Brotherly Question Mode.

Sometimes, she wasn't sure which was worse.

"Shikamaru Nara, huh?" Kankuro asked.

Temari rolled her eyes. "Yes. Him."

"Why him?" Gaara asked.

"Yeah, what's so special about him, sis?" Kankuro asked, bolder now that he had Gaara's support.

Temari narrowed her teal eyes at them.

"I don't have to explain my choice to my younger brothers, you know."

Kankuro quickly cracked a placating smile.

"We know," he said and glanced at Gaara. "We're just curious, that's all."

"Very curious," Gaara agreed without batting an eye.

Temari sighed.

"Shikamaru is of the Nara clan," she began with exaggerated patience. "He's clever and resourceful. He's excellent at strategy."

The two brothers exchanged a look.

"Didn't you say he was nothing but a crybaby who needed saving all the time?" Kankuro asked.

Temari bit her lip, wishing she hadn't been so flippant after the three of them had gone to the Leaf's aid when they tried to retrieve Sasuke Uchiha.

"That was in the past," she said.

"Didn't he lose his match with you in the second round of that chunin exams?" Gaara persisted.

"He didn't lose the match!" Temari insisted. "He forfeited it since he had run out of chakra."

"Low stamina, huh," Gaara observed, flicking a grain of sand from under his thumbnail. "I see."

Temari sniffed.

"You don't see anything at all," she told him, something she would never have dared to do three years ago.

"He's not even good looking," Kankuro complained.

Temari fisted her hands by her sides.

"That's not important! He's a good man. He's not the type to go chasing after other girls."

"Lazy, huh," Kankuro remarked, imitating Gaara's nonchalant nail inspection.

Temari's eye twitched while the two brothers exchanged another look. Kankuro's painted lips were starting to quiver, but Gaara's face remained impassive.

"Besides, he's just a chunin," Gaara said in a dismissive tone.

"That's right!" Kankuro snapped his fingers. "You're a jonin now, Temari! There are many talented male jonin here in the Sand, you know."

"Ugh!" Temari tightened her fists, longing to bring them down hard on the heads of her very annoying brothers. Then she exploded.

"Look, it's him and no other, alright?! I love him and that's all there is to it!"

Silence fell as Kankuro and Gaara stared at her, their eyes comically wide. Temari felt her cheeks flame. Yes, she was a jonin, so how could she let her brothers get to her like this?

"Just forget it!" she snapped and tried to push past them. Two hands closed over her wrists at the same time, halting her progress.

"Wait a moment, sis. Don't go off in a huff," Kankuro chided.

"We were just... teasing," Gaara added, cocking his head to one side as if the word was unfamiliar to him.

They both drew closer to Temari who blinked again when she received a brotherly peck on each cheek.

"After all, Gaara, any man who's caught the eye of our big sister must be something, right?" Kankuro said, speaking as if Temari wasn't standing right there.

"Even if he is just a chunin from the Leaf Village," agreed Gaara.

Temari pulled her hands free, eyes narrowing dangerously before she tossed her head. Her glare vanished, replaced by a sunny smile.

"Thanks, boys," she said. "Glad you see it my way."

The two brothers exchanged a third glance.

"I still think we should test him," Kankuro said in a casual tone. "Just to make sure he's worthy."

"Test him, huh? I like the sound of that," Gaara agreed, nodding.

Temari refused to rise to the bait this time.

"Test away," she said blithely, moving towards the door. "I'll see you two later."

They could test Shikamaru any way they liked, but she was sure he would still come out on top. She loved him, she had faith in him and most of all, she believed in him.

- Story End -

A/N: Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed it, a review would be appreciated :)