Nara Shikamaru was enjoying the day in his usual way, staring at the clouds lazily adrift in the sky while he lay on his back listening to songbirds' melodies, when Death dropped by for a little chat.

He noticed when the birds stopped singing. He showed that he noticed it when the wind simultaneously took on both a spine-chilling cold and a burning desert heat. He'd never heard of such abnormal fluctuations in the temperature.

Cross with whoever it was who dared ruined his day, but too lazy to do much about a mere nuisance, Shikamaru opted to simply give the intruder a quick once-over.

His heart practically stopped beating in shock and fright when he saw who was coming.

It was that psychotic ninja from the village of Sand. Gaara. He was coming Shikamaru's way.

And he did not look happy.

"Oh, shit."

Congratulations… I Think…

A Naruto Fan Fiction

I do not own Naruto. Simply read and enjoy.

Gaara did not look happy. He never did. Either he looked like an angry sunken-eyed zombie or an insanely rabid wolverine. He was in the former mood right now, but Shikamaru knew from experience that the already creepy Sand ninja could easily shift into his more demonic demeanor in a jiffy, and at the slightest provocation.

He was also alone. Neither that equally weird guy with the manikin slung over his back nor the sexily deadly blonde kunoichi with the giant tessen were present. That was odd. Gaara's lackeys –okay, he considered, scratch that impolite word on pain of being beaten to death by a giant fan– were always there to keep an eye on him. But not now.

Just great.The nannies were out on vacation, and the baby was all ready to rip the throat out of the dog. Or was it the other way around? Shikamaru didn't remember. He didn't care.

For some unknown reason, he found his mind considering happier thoughts. Sort of. He was thinking of Gaara's teammate. Temari. That was her name, right? Yeah, that was the girl he had beaten at the Chuunin finals, the one with the costume with lots of netting and the ridiculously (but dangerous) giant fans. Now that he considered it, she wasn't a bad looking sort. Neither was she insufferable a person overall. Tough, independent, street-smart, she wasn't a bad bet. If you could get past the self-imposed armor of self-sufficiency and arrogance, then a guy could find himself exceedingly lucky.

Shikamaru caught himself then and there.

What the hell am I thinking of her?

No real reason why he allowed his consciousness such dalliance, not with Death at close attendance. And with Temari as the topic of his roving fantasy, too. The girl herself was dangerous if crossed. What made it worse was that Gaara seemed to regard her as a blood relative. If he could read minds, the Sand ninja would absolutely murder me for thinking of his teammate in the way I did a moment ago.

Is being overprotective of their sisters a trait innate to all brothers, big or little, blood relation or not?

And if he survived this, Shikamaru still had that nagger Yamanaka Ino to deal with. If anyone could read minds, she could. Ino would raise holy hell for absolutely no good reason at all. A possessive and defensive girl, but he could understand why. Ino was still smarting. Sakura had recently cemented her victory over her rival/best friend in their war over that Uchiha guy. Stung by her loss, Ino then realized what a priceless treasure at hand that she had been virtually ignoring all along. She promptly and officially staked her claims on her teammate. And by 'teammate', she sure didn't mean Choji.

Suddenly, Death didn't seem so bad a prospect…

Not being one for useless expenditure of time and energy, he aimed an inquisitive glance at the approaching Gaara. All the while, he tried to keep his composure and tried not to show he was scared. Knowing he was outmatched and most probably a dead man, he didn't bother to put up a fight. Shikamaru also knew that Gaara could probably smell the fear off him, but his effort was calming.

If I were to die right now, I'm happy to do so lying on my back.

In as confident and careless a tone he could muster, he asked:

"What do you want?"

Gaara stared down at him. Glowered, actually, but since his face was perpetually set like that, it was the same thing for him.

Shikamaru waited.

Then, Gaara spoke.

What the Sand ninja said would have floored Shikamaru if he had been standing up. As it was, his decision to stay on his back helped save a lot of face. Still, he would have presented a comic sight.

Gaara said: "Congratulations."

Shikamaru was not just stunned. He was devastated. He looked like he had been forced to wash down a huge bowlful of terrible-tasting Tekiyaki Udon with a whole case of that awful Refresh mineral water, both foods recently imported from that distant but assuredly horrid country called the Philippines. (That the place was horrid could be testified to by its produce. Surely no country deserving of goodness would ship such dreadful tasting water as trade goods. Maybe it was another one of Orochimaru's convoluted schemes. Who knew?) Thus, his normally-quick and clever brain on the fritz. He was not able to reply properly beyond a stupidly astonished exclamation:


"You heard me the first time." Gaara did not look happy. Which was good, really, because the only times he looked happy was when he was feeling particularly bloodthirsty. But he repeated it for the sake of the idiot on the ground. "Congratulations."

"Is there anything else?" Shikamaru dared to add. Reluctantly; he didn't want to die yet.

A small tic appeared on Gaara's forehead. Or did one really do so? Shikamaru shared the general opinion that what passed for the guy's permanently aggravated-looking face was actually sand.

"Yeah, there is," he considered.

That was when Gaara became his frightening demonic self.

Shikamaru prepared himself for his inevitably painful demise at the hands of this maniac.

Gaara growled.

"If you ever make my sister unhappy, I'll track you down, corner you, inflict indescribable misery and pain upon you. And then maybe," he added very unenthusiastically, "Maybe I'll let Temari talk me into letting you live."

So saying, he stalked away. Then he stopped, reluctantly turned around and again repeated:

"Congratulations again." Then added: "I think."

And then Gaara really left.

A stupefied Shikamaru sat there where he was. He did not move or react until a full fifteen minutes after the Sand ninja had disappeared from sight and hearing. He was still alive and unable to comprehend why he survived. He also could not understand the import of the 'best wishes' Gaara gave him. Finally, what the hell did Temari have to do with all this?

Congratulations… I think…

And then an astonished Shikamaru did comprehend at last.


: Ang iksi, ano? This is dedicated to all the Temari-Shikamaru fans out there. Hope you enjoyed.