So I haven't written for this site for more than two years. And I wouldn't have, except I've been reading the Naruto manga lately... and, well, there's one really good couple there. Not Sasuke and Sakura, as I don't like either of them (though at least Sakura's not useless anymore). Not Naruto and Hinata, as she has what I term Aoi Syndrome, except she's too shy to even act on that. Not Neji and TenTen, because at least in the manga she has just about zero characterization and I can't see what you get this out of except the fact that they're on the same team. And certainly not any of the slash pairings. Those scare me. No, I'm talking about Shikamaru, hands down my favorite character in the show (maybe because he reminds me so much of, well, me), and Temari, sand-nin babe extraordinare. But what do I find here? A staggering lack of fanfiction based around the pairing, and an even more staggering lack of good fanfiction. So I had no choice but to try, in my own small way, to rectify this. And now, if I haven't driven you off by insulting your other favorite pairing (and if I missed it, let me know, I'd be happy to insult it), I hope that you will enjoy my story. And that it will inspire you, too, to write Shikamaru/Temari fanfics. Because dammit, I'd hate to have to write two of these.

Also, if there are any formatting issues, blame upload. They're trying, I'll give them that, but they still haven't gotten it totally right.

No Trouble at All

Women, I decided, were troublesome.

Granted, there was nothing particularly new about this observation. I'd held the opinion for years, ever since the first time I was paired up with Ino and Chouji and had to listen to the obnoxious blond girl shrieking loudly in my ear when all I wanted to do was spend the afternoon staring at the clouds. But while clouds remained clouds, and Ino remained Ino, women in general were finding new and inventive ways to be troublesome.

Well, okay, one specific woman. Temari.

I'd known she was going to be troublesome since the first time we met, in the arena at the Chounin exam. She was far more powerful than me, and a lot smarter than my last opponent, and I'd actually had to think more than two steps ahead to trap her. Not to mention get bruised and battered and use almost all of my chakra. It was enough of a pain that I'd decided not to win the fight, as the next one was sure to be even worse, and I didn't have any particular desire to become a Chuunin anyway. Not that the examiners, in all their brilliance, had managed to divine this. No, they'd had to promote me anyway. Ah well, at least they hadn't made me a Juunin yet.

Sourly, I glared up at the clouds, then sighed. For all the trouble that exams and fighting provided, they were still like Shogi, in a way. I could strategize my way through them. They had defined rules to work with, measurable strengths and weaknesses to probe.

Everything that my current troubles lacked.

Sighing loudly, though there was nobody around to hear me, I attempted to let go and focus on the wandering clouds above. For as long as I could remember, there had been no better way for me to escape from whatever had been bothering me. Staring at the clouds let me feel at peace, something that being a ninja rarely allowed.

For a little while, it worked. I let myself go, let my mind wander with the clouds on their whimsical paths across the azure sky. And then, as I began to drift off, I saw her face again. Not the determined, confident face she used in a fight. Not the smirk she used to tease me, or to mock Naruto. Just her smiling face, the one that looked genuinely happy to see me, the one that I'd gotten used to because I saw it everyday now. The one that made my heart lurch and forced me to spend far too much energy controlling my emotions and maintaining the air of general irritation that had been second nature to me since I was born.

I banished the image quickly, but not quickly enough. Because even just a fleeting glimpse, triggered by my irritatingly insubordinate unconscious, caused the same damnable smile to appear on my own face, of its own volition, as it did every time I saw her.

How truly, staggeringly, troublesome.

"So why am I not surprised to find you out here?"

The voice, like the smile, was all too familiar. Tilting my head back, I let my eyes come to rest on the girl standing behind me. Of course it was her, overly-large fan strapped to her back and all.

I grunted and put my hands behind my head, then went back to staring at the sky, hoping that she'd get the hint to leave me alone. Not that I didn't enjoy her company… just that it was more and more unsettling these days. As I said, troublesome.

Of course, she ignored me. I smirked inwardly, remembering the time she saved my ass on the failed Sasuke retrieval mission. Back then, I'd thought she was pushier than Mom. It was, I supposed, still true.

Now, if only I could convince myself that this was a bad thing so I could stop paying so much damn attention to things like how pretty she looked when she smiled at me.

Temari stared down at me for another second or so. Then, obviously determining that I wasn't actually going to say anything, she plopped down in the grass beside me and turned her own gaze to the sky. We stayed like that for a few minutes, only a dark shadow at the corner of my vision reminding me that she was there. I could, I thought, get used to this. She might be pushy, but at least she had the ability to keep quiet, unlike Ino. It was almost peaceful, something I hadn't been in her presence since… well, ever.

Amazingly, when she spoke, she didn't ruin it. Her voice was soft and contemplative, something I'd only heard once or twice before.

"You know, just looking at the clouds, I almost feel like I'm back home. I guess they're the same everywhere."

Despite myself, I was surprised. I sat up slightly. "You watch the clouds when you're in the Sand country?"

She flashed a grin at me. "Nothing better to do when it's too hot to move, y'know."

I settled back down. "Hn. Somehow never pictured you as the cloud-watching type."

"And I never pictured you as the responsible type, but look who's got this exam planned out so well that we've got the afternoon off." Her voice was light, needling. My face twisted into a scowl.

"The meetings are too troublesome. If I get them over with quickly, I can come out here and relax. Or I would be able to if a certain Juunin wasn't so damn fixated on following me around." I shot her a glare, which had, as usual, absolutely no effect.

Instead, she laughed and threw herself down in the grass next to me, a playful grin darting across her face as she propped herself up on her elbows, her face far too close to mine for comfort.

"You're not fooling anyone, y'know. Even most of my village elders think you're going to be a legend someday. And they're very grudging with their respect for anyone outside the Sand."

I groaned. "Much too -"

"- troublesome." She finished with a laugh. "You'll be muttering that the day they promote you to Hokage, I swear."

I almost bolted upright in horror. "Hokage? No, no, NO. That's Naruto's dream, not mine. He's welcome to it."

She laughed again, a surprisingly musical sound. "You're cute when you're flustered, y'know."

For once, I really had no response. I kept my eyes staring firmly upward, though they didn't actually register anything, and tried desperately not to turn red. Unfortunately, I was less than completely successful.

"Aww, what's this? Is the grumpy genius blushing?"

Dammit, I thought, trying to keep the blush from spreading even more. This is exactly what I'd meant about no rules to work with. I had a hard enough time telling what women were thinking normally, let alone when they were flirting. What use was an IQ of 200 when nobody would even tell you how to play the game?

Finally getting it under control, I turned my head to the side and put on my best irritated scowl. "Since when was this 'fuck with Shikamaru's head' day? I don't recall seeing that on our afternoon agenda."

Temari grinned cheekily. "Well, since you were nice enough to clear said agenda, I figured I could just fill it in all on my own."

I groaned and turned my head back to the sky, trying my resolute best to pay no attention to her. Which wasn't easy, since she seemed to be moving even closer to me. I could feel her breath on my ear. And then she spoke again, in this sultry little voice that I'd had absolutely no idea she possessed. It convinced me once and for all that there were no rules whatsoever in this game. Because if there were, using that damn voice would be the first thing outlawed.

"And I had some verrrry interesting ideas..."

I admit, my brain just completely shut down right there. IQ of 200 or no, having a woman like Temari whisper a comment like that in my ear, especially in that voice, rerouted all of my blood instantaneously. And I think it's fairly obvious where to.

By the time enough blood made its way back to my head to allow me to speak, Temari had gotten to her feet and was walking away, shoulders shaking as peals of laughter rang out across the field. I lay there for a moment, fighting to get the rest of my raging hormones under control, before I finally admitted the obvious.

I'd been beaten. Truly and soundly beaten.

I thought for a moment.

Aw, hell. Since when did I ever let myself lose to a girl, no matter how troublesome it was? And hey, if there were no rules in this game, that simply meant that I had no restrictions. Not to mention the fact that despite her innate advantage in being mysterious and cryptic, which came with being female, Temari and I were much closer in power on this stage.

I flipped myself upright and stretched. Then I called after her.

"Oi, Temari."

"Yeah?" Her voice still shaky with laughter, she turned and flashed me an unrepentant grin.

"C'mere. I forgot to mention something."

Still grinning, she ambled back across the grass, the afternoon sun behind her illuminating her spiky blond hair as if it was surrounded by a bizarre sort of halo. It was beautiful, but I had other matters to concentrate on at the moment, and I wasn't about to let myself be distracted this time. I kept the irritated glare on my face, as it was imperative that she not suspect anything until it was too late.

I waited until she was about ten feet from me. At which point her shadow touched my own, and no matter how fast her reflexes, she wasn't going to escape.

"What'd you want to tell me?" Her tone was still a victorious one.

Well, that was about to change.

I smirked.

"Shadow copy no jutsu... success."

A wide-eyed expression of shock came over her face. "Wha..." She tried to jerk away, but to her horror, she was held fast. I dropped my hands to my side, and she had no choice but to do the same.

I walked forward slowly, smirk widening at the apprehensive look in her eyes. Oh yes, the tables were turned now. Now it was my turn to be amused and superior.

"You know, if you want to challenge me, you should know better than to lower your guard like that. Remember how it works, Temari? Every time my opponent thinks they have me backed into a corner it's just another trap. You should've learned that the first time."

I kept walking forward, step by step, until we were only inches apart. I smirked down at her. And then, giving in to an impulse I'd been suppressing for weeks, I leaned toward her until our lips were only a centimeter apart. I could hear feel her ragged breath on my mouth, and it amused me greatly to know that I, for once, had her completely flustered. I stared into her eyes for a minute. There was apprehension there, and irritation, but there was also something else I couldn't quite make out lurking behind them.

No matter. "Because you know, Temari... I'm not always going to say I quit."

I held her gaze a second longer... and then, mission accomplished, I released her and stood up. "Just this one last time." Revenge or no, I wasn't going to force a girl to kiss me. I had enough problems with fighting them.

I started to laugh and turn away, but before I could, Temari's hands shot up from her side and grabbed me by the front of my Chuunin vest, dragged me down and pulled my mouth to hers.

And then, as I stared into her stormy blue eyes, I realized what else I'd seen in her gaze.

Lust. And maybe more.

But now was not time for contemplation. Finally able to give in to all my pent up frustration, I pulled her against me hard, burying my hands in that spiky hair I'd been wanting to touch for so long. Her arms were locked around the back of my neck as she kissed me furiously, her tongue invading my mouth. I kissed her back just as intensely, matching her movements with my own, feeling out just what she liked as I traced intricate patterns on the back of her neck with my fingertips. I was well rewarded as she moaned into my open mouth, her own hands moving restlessly across my back, frustrated by the Chuunin vest.

Finally we broke apart, gasping for breath. Temari rested her head against my shoulder, pressing her face into my neck. I felt her smile. Not that I could blame her for it; my own permanently scowling countenance was now covered by an indecently wide grin.

"Well," she finally said, in a low voice that sent shivers up my spine, "looks like your genius carries over to kissing as well."

I laughed. "If it didn't, I'd have to deal with your complaints. Which would be..."

"... too troublesome." She finished with a laugh of her own. Then she pulled back, looking up at me questioningly.

"So," she murmured, "how about us?"

Though her tone was still light, I could hear a real note of worry underlying it. And that warmed me up almost as much as her kiss had, because it meant that this wasn't just a fling to her. She wanted an actual relationship.

I thought about it for a minute. She was bossy, had an attitude, already outranked me, and had an absurdly powerful psychopath of a Kazekage for a brother, so I was completely and utterly dead if I ever hurt her. She also lived in another village, so logistics would be a pain. In short, it was far too troublesome.

And refusing her simply wasn't an option.

I chuckled ruefully, causing her to give me a quizzical glance. "Hmm?"

"Oh, nothing. Just thinking that I'm going to have to admit to Dad that he was right."

"About what?"

"Three years ago, when I was complaining about how troublesome women were, he told me that someday when I grew up I would understand why they were worth it. And," I said, smiling down at Temari, "I think I finally do."

She laughed delightedly and pulled me down for another kiss. When this one ended, her fan was lying discarded on the ground and my Chuunin vest was half-unzipped.

"So," she purred, a deliciously sinful glint in her eye, "want to show me just how far your genius does go?"

"That," I replied, as I pulled her to me once more, "would be no trouble at all."