Disclaimer: Naruto and its characters belong to Masashi Kishimoto

First, I wish to thank all of those who surprised me this holiday with gift fics. I was so honored and delighted with all of the special stories and thoroughly enjoyed each and every one. They are now tucked away in my favorites stories section and your surprises are a gift I will never forget! Thanks so much!

Secondly, for all those reading out there, I want to take this time to wish you a Happy New Year! I hope the holidays were a lot of fun for you and the year ahead is a good one.

And now, as promised, here is my submission for my 2019 'Misunderstandings' Show Me the Love Challenge. I hope you enjoy this story and venture to check out the other entries, all of which will be added to my C2 account as soon as I am able. Finally, please don't forget to share your wonderful positive constructive criticism for all the stories you read. It's a gift that gives back in more ways than you know!

And now onto my story...

What a drag.

The Shadow Wielder remembered being more than irked this day even existed, and being that it followed right after the December holidays, he was certain it was the creation of some woman trying to add romance to her hum drum life after the hustle and bustle of the holiday season was all said and done.

After a few moments of contemplation though, he let it go. It was bothersome, but not to the point he would waste a minute more of his precious time worrying over it. Besides, the day was good for Ino's flower shop, and he guessed that since the War ended, it was a nice way to bring people together with a simple gesture.

Simple? Gads, he felt like smacking himself for even thinking that. There was nothing simple these days about being a young adult. In fact, life just seemed to get more complex the older he got.

Honestly, it wasn't too long ago, Shikamaru saw himself as just a normal guy, who wanted a simple life. He envisioned his future settling down with an average girl, living a relatively unremarkable life with her, his daughter, and his son, and spending countless hours watching the clouds in his free time.

So, it almost seemed surreal, fate would have other plans.

These days he wasn't sure when the last time he had a free moment to himself, and he would have never predicted the 'average girl' he was going to fall for, would be the fiery Kunoichi from the Sand, the noble sister to the Kazekage of all people!

Initially, he believed he didn't have what it took to fall in love with anyone. So when the Sand Kunoichi (with a little sass) caught his eye, and showed some interest in him, it simply dumbfounded him that ordinary things he would normally never have the energy to do, suddenly became completely doable!

Furthermore, it astonished him that mutual feelings actually developed between them and eventually grew into something he never imagined. Their love and secret courtship involved tons of extra work, but he couldn't bring himself to complain. Temari was the best thing to ever happen to him, and although he wasn't exactly prone to being romantically inclined, she made him want to make the extra effort just to assure her that his love was real and she was the only one for him.

Unfortunately, as smart as he was, Shikamaru didn't realize, inexperience in the romance department would one day become a huge problem. Temari was like a Princess to the villagers of the Sand. They were a cautious group of people after having been double-crossed by foreigners in the past, and everything he did with their precious Temari was under intense scrutiny. As a result, he was mindful to dress properly, bow in a socially acceptable way, and always walk the appropriate distance away from her in public. To his credit, his behavior was slowly starting to work in his favor. So of course, just when things were going well, he could hardly believe his announcement that he wanted to officially court her on Flower Day would almost lead to an international incident.

What a buffoon I was he thought...

Now, it may be said, Shikamaru was traditionally one to hide in the shadows, but on that one fateful day in Suna, one tiny misstep led to him being unexpectedly harshly thrust into the spotlight.

Cringing, he remembered the incident like it was yesterday...

Alone on a bench, the sole Konoha Shinobi awaited his fate. It was impossible not to tell how upset everyone around him seemed to be.

"Nara," an older Shinobi by the name of Baki crossly called out. "They will see you now," he stated firmly, opening the heavy door.

Shikamaru gulped. The sudden cold shoulder and the unmistakable look of mistrust in the man's eyes had him worrying. Was this the beginning of the end? He hoped not.

"Have a seat," the Kazekage said, voice serious and grave as ever as he slid a picture of the offending plant that was seized and placed it in front of the Shadow Wielder.

"This was sent from you, we presume," Gaara clarified.

By the way it was said, the correct response was 'no,' but the truth of the matter was, it was indeed from him. He tensed, but he knew it was pointless to try to hide that fact. Gaara clearly already knew the answer, and he supposed it was only right to confess. Better to be honest than to be caught in a lie.

Clearing his throat, he gave his answer: "Yes."

Temari immediately stiffened and the confusion and hurt on her face suddenly threw him for a loop and instantly stabbed him through the heart.

Gads. What was this all about? he wondered. Why the long face?

"Why you..." Kankuro burst out but was silenced by the hand Gaara extended out to hush him.

"What was your intention in sending THIS to her?" Gaara questioned, voice as smooth as steel, pointing to the picture thrust before him, a photo of the lone cactus plant he sent in a decorative clay pot.

"I..." Shikamaru knew he had to select his words carefully. He wasn't sure what this interrogation was all about, but by the tone of things, not only his relationship with Temari was being questioned, but somehow his life seemed to be on the line too. He gazed over at the Sand Kunoichi trying to get a sense what this was all about, but nothing was given away. Eyebrows creased together, he desperately attempted to grope for facts as he tried to stall.

"In Konoha, January 19th is International Flower Day," Shikamaru began.

"Same here," Kankuro concurred.

Still confused, he gathered they at least had this in common.

"Traditionally, flowers are sent," Shikamaru continued, hoping to coax more information out of someone present, but he was only met with stonewalling silence. He concentrated hard, trying to read Temari, but nothing but hurt and anger seemed to reside in those beautiful green eyes of hers. Uncomfortably he floundered to come up with more.

"So why send the cactus?" Kankuro finally bit out. It was obviously on everyone's mind and he was getting ready to clobber the Nara for hurting his sister like this.

"I..." Shikamaru nervously raced to find the right thing to say. "This year, my teammate suggested we send a meaningful message with a flower to our significant others," he began, but this only seemed to further anger the three in front of him.

"Message received loud and clear," Kankuro threatened, as Shikamaru was taken aback.


He wanted to ask what was so terrible about sending the cactus and yet it was deadly apparent something in the gesture was terribly wrong.

"Temari?" he croaked, but she only turned away.

"Look. I'm sorry," he offered. Not quite knowing what he was sorry for but knowing without a doubt he did something seriously wrong. "But I'm lost here. I sent Temari the cactus as a symbol that our love would endure despite the long distance that exists in our relationship," Shikamaru admitted. "In old times, at least in Konoha, it was taboo to speak of your feelings directly, and the cactus plant was sent to a person if you had strong feelings for them, to indicate to her you felt you had the kind of love that endures. I'm sure you've guessed, I'm not good when it comes to words, so I thought I'd send the message with this plant so I could share that message with her."

With that, Temari's head shot up, clearly flabbergasted.

"What?" Kankuro sputtered.

Temari's serious face then slowly morphed into a smile, and looking over at her stunned brothers, the grin only grew. Before she knew it, outright laughter escaped. Kankuro wasn't far to follow.

"Doofus!" he exclaimed to the Nara.

"Huh? What's going on here?" Shikamaru fumbled, now confused more than ever.

"I knew there had to be a good reason," Temari told her brothers, voice full of relief.

Her now relaxed nature was assuring but it still left Shikamaru clearly befuddled.

"Shikamaru," Gaara said coolly, clearing his throat to avoid laughing out loud. "Sending a cactus to someone is bad luck here in Suna," he informed him. "The guards prevented its delivery to Temari, and took this picture of it, carefully keeping it outside and sending the card immediately to me for inspection. As you can imagine, a Konoha delivery of a wish for bad luck was quite a shock and easily sparked up the rumor mill."

Bad luck? Shikamaru was speechless.

"This is hilarious," Temari snorted, shaking her head. "Who knew your lazy foreign butt could drum up this much drama?" she teased.

"Dude, next time just say the words!" Kankuro advised standing and laughing all the way to the door.

Geez, leave it up to the Hokage's advisor to nearly set off an international incident! Shikamaru chastised himself. Lucky for him, this meeting got to the bottom of things before things were thoroughly misunderstood.

"Heh, accept my apology?" Shikamaru asked his love sheepishly, now clearly embarrassed with his oversight.

"Hmmm," Temari dragged on the silence then cracked a smile. "All right, Nara. You're off the hook this time, but in the future, how about you be a little less creative?" she told him, moving closer to snake her arms around him, and leaning in for a tender kiss.

Shikamaru's cheeks brightened and wordlessly, he simply nodded his agreement.

Author's note:

It was too tempting to put Shikamaru in a situation where he overlooked an obvious fact.

Different superstitions often come from different parts of the world, and since Shikamaru and Temari are from two different Villages of the Narutoverse, I wanted to try out my first story of the year with the misinterpretations that can happen when that is so.

Fun fact: A cactus does indeed represent endurance and in some parts of the world, but there are also parts of the world that have a superstition that believes it brings bad luck.

Thank you to BloodPokemon101, Emma Raye, Fxreflies, mississippimudpiecraves, MLLu, naash, outloux, Pixie07, wingedmercury, and Yengirl for your participation in this challenge and of course your wonderful support of the Fanfiction Review Movement.

To everyone else, I hope you'll share your feedback in the form of a review to the many stories that have touched and entertained you.

For now this story is complete, but if I ever get the inspiration for a follow up, maybe I'll consider continuing.

Enjoy the rest of International Flower Day and here's sending you a virtual yellow rose if you review!

7-20-2019 update: All thanks to your feedback, I decided to add to this story. Please note, the second chapter will officially be a part of my 2019 Show Me the Love Proposals Challenge. That said, can you guess where this is going?