I'm glad the first of my one-shot ficlets got such a response as it did. I know this next pairing isn't quite as rare and that there are in fact some of these floating around on but I thought I'd try my hand at it anyway. What can I say? When I get an idea I run with it. Oh and for the reviewer who asked me to return to my other works rest assured XVII has been updated and the next chap will be out soon. Now... on with the fic! This doesn't follow the canon time line anytime after Naruto begins his training journey so don't bust a cap in my ass if you think it's wrong. It's meant to be wrong. Well it's not meant to be wrong... You know what I mean, dammit.

Me no own, you no sue.

Love of the Sand

She sat on the top of the mount staring down on the town of Konoha from atop the carven faces of it's former protectors. In all the years she had been coming here it hadn't really changed much. And now... now she was living here. Since she had first come to this place six years ago it had hardly changed. The destruction the Sound had wreaked upon it had all but faded away. It was now as it had been the first time she had stepped between it's giant gates. The first time she had seen him.

It was nearly dawn and a cool breeze blew across the top of the mount where she sat alone. Temari drew her legs up into her chest and wrapped her arms around her nearly bare legs loosely. She propped her chin on her arms and sighed. One thing had changed about Konoha, seemingly at the behest of the Fifth Hokage. Sakura trees. They lined the roads and grew in the parks, their delicate blossoms drifting in the air like a shower of gentle pink rain. Apparently Tsunade-sama remembered a time when the sakura flourished in Konoha and had felt the need to give them renewed life, to blanket the town once again. It was spring now and the trees were in the process of doing just that. She smiled. Sunaha did not have sakura trees, nor trees of any other kind for that matter - well barring that one. That single one. The first time she had visited this town she had scoffed to her brothers that a town this lush could only breed weaklings. Her home was harsh like the desert it was built in. And like the woman she had thought she had become. The people of this place had proven her wrong, more times than she would had liked.

Her deep-sea eyes were hooded, almost closed as she stared out into the place that would be her new home and felt the sadness within her clutch at her heart. Her brother's position as Kazekage had led to the strengthening of the alliance between the Hidden Village of the Sand and the Hidden Village of the Leaf. It was agreed by both 'Kages that an... 'ambassador' of sorts was needed in each village. A jounin whom she was unfamiliar with had taken up the position in Sunaha, and she had been selected by her brother to take up the position here. She had been here a month now... enough time to renew old acquaitances. It was funny, she thought, that the first thing of any interest to happen on her initial visit to Konoha would be echoed so neatly during her latest. She had seen him. That time he had been protecting a child from her Kankuro. This time he had met her at the gates. He had changed. A lot more than she had. But in the time she had spent with him it seemed it was in appearance only. His spirit remained unchanged.

The kunoichi had approached the gates with no outward sign of the trepidation she felt inside. This was to be the place she was to live from now onwards - but she had helped in the plans for it's destruction only a handful of years ago. Temari knew that there were some who were not so forgiving as their Hokage, treaty and alliance or not. But her worry had faded away as soon as she had seen his painfully wide grin waiting for her. The energetic blond had been leant against the wall of the arch that opened into the village, hands behind his head and one leg propped against the sun bleached stone. She had seen him first, mostly because he was staring at the sky, rather than watching the road. While examining him her eyes were drawn to the fox that sat on it's haunches at his feet. She was rather surprised to see that it too was staring at the sky. It was a pale orange, the tips of it's fur a light blonde. The ninja of the Sand had to blink a couple of times to be sure it was there. Soon enough though he had noticed her arrival and had smiled. Escorting her through the village he had demanded to know how her brothers were, like a child begging for secrets. It was the first time any of the siblings from the Country of Wind had spoken to Naruto in six years... before he went on his training journey with the Konoha Sannin. Secretly every time she had visited the Fire Country she had hoped to find the hyperactive teenager in the village. She knew it was childish and hardly befitting a shinobi to have a crush on the boy... but did not make it any less true.

Temari smiled and sighed into the cool skin of her arms before she noticed and shivered at the sensation. Rubbing her arms absently to build up warmth again she briefly considered returning to the apartment that was supposed to be her home, but decided against it. She had endured colder nights in the desert... and her 'home' was too empty and silent for her comfort. She would rather brave the cold air than withstand the silence and barren atmosphere the rooms she had been assigned, even though she wasn't really dressed for the cool weather. Her skirt and top were light and her legs were only covered in the net stockings she wore. The long pale blue bow that tied around her waist and knotted in a bow at her back fluttered lightly in the air, riding the cool currents. Her thoughts drifted. And this time as she had found them doing so far too often before they wandered back to him. Naruto.

Seeing him at the gates smiling at her had left her stomach doing tiny flops, like a dolphin at play in the surf - much to her annoyance and discomfort. She was ruefully afraid that she night have blushed lightly when he told her it was great to see her. The pig-tailed girl felt her cheeks redden at the thought alone. He really had changed. He was taller now, much taller. The top of her head barely reached his eye level now. He still wore the garish orange jump-suit she remembered, but it was unzipped to reveal the fishnet vest underneath and the strange necklace he wore. Temari had been meaning to ask him about that but had never found the chance. When they did run into each other they had always ended up talking about her and her family and home. They never seemed to talk about him. She hadn't seen him in a week - not that they arranged to meet each other formally before that or anything... it just seemed that she had taken a liking to the small stall down the street that sold ramen and she almost always bumped into him and his fox strolling down the street in the opposite direction. They normally ended up eating together, but Temari didn't allow herself to think to much of that. She had been told that if Orochimaru climbed out of the grave and offered the blond youth his favourite dish, Naruto would probably take him up on the offer.

None the less she had begun to enjoy the meals they ate together and had found herself inexplicably smiling softly at the thought of eating and speaking with him. Now that he was on a mission, she realised just how much she missed even that small amount of contact with the young man. Temari remembered having crushes on some of here peers in the Sand and none of them were like Naruto. They were all serious, committed ninja. None had the childlike innocence that Naruto seemed to carry with him permanently. They were all focused on becoming stronger, becoming better ninja and that desire seemed to have burnt out the child in them. Naruto, on the other hand, was one of the most committed people she had ever met... to becoming stronger, faster... better. And he was still him. She missed him, even if they only saw each other for the duration of a single meal on most days. She missed even that.

The first thing she heard was the soft padding of the fox's feet on the dirt as it approached her. Looking over her shoulder at the beast in surprise, she quickly stood, recognising it's colouring immediately. She wasn't disappointed. The man of her thoughts stepped out of the shadows, for once not wearing the orange clothing that almost made him a tourist attraction in the village below them. The blonde kunoichi couldn't help but smirk, hiding her relief at seeing him again in the process.

"What's this? No dayglow orange today?" He looked down at himself and chuckled slightly. The dark blue jacket and pants weren't as loose as the ones she was used to seeing him wearing. They held his figure closely, showing the outline of his legs and chest a lot more than the baggy orange jump-suit did. The jacket was unzipped, showing off the net shirt he had taken to wearing between the time he had left the village and the time he had returned and the strange necklace he wore. The fore-head protector was not on his brow. Another thing she had noticed about him was that while once he would have never removed the Leaf protector if he could help it, now it was rarely worn unless he was on a mission or official business.

"I don't actually wear that when I'm on a mission y'know." She arched an eyebrow in light mockery and planted her hands on her hips. The tilt of her head begged for an explanation. He should know her well enough by now to know she'd never actually ask. He smiled brightly in return to her smirk and Temari uncomfortably felt her cheeks heat, though she trusted the darkness of the near dawn to hide it.

"I was nearly skewered by a pole arm one time when my outfit was spotted in the trees. Jiraiya dragged me to a clothes store as soon as we were done and threatened to stop teaching me unless I got a new wardrobe." He grinned. "That stuffs just for lounging around now." He walked forward so that he stood next to her, his long hair trailing in the breeze and tied back into a high ponytail and turned his attention to the sleeping village of Konoha below them both. The fox had collapsed onto it's side and closed it's eyes a few feet away, Apparently bored with the little reunion the two humans were dancing around the prospect of thinking about having. Temari could feel the breeze ruffling her four ponytails. She hadn't really changed her hair since the first time they met, except to let it grow out a little.

The darkness made it hard to see exactly what Naruto was doing, even with her ninja senses. His dark clothing blended in to the night much better than his old getup would have. She realised she was scrutinising him a little too closely to pass for casual observation and looked away hurriedly.

"I...haven't been to the ramen place recently. Never got round to it." That was the closest she would ever get to saying that she had missed his company and didn't want to got to the ramen stall without him. He nodded, almost absently.

"Yeah. I missed the here ramen too. It's just not as good anywhere else. Not the same." She drew in breath sharply, wondering if he had meant it wasn't the same eating ramen without her, or if she was just reading things into his words that were not there. Probably the latter. He hardly knew her. Why should it matter to him whether or not she was with him when he ate his favourite food. No matter how much she disliked the fact he had known ramen far longer than he had known her. If it came to a choice between her and ramen, the noodle soup dish would probably win. It was depressing to be jealous of a meal. A silence stretched over the mount and the two figures on it who were inclined to speak. The cool breeze swept across the village once again, prompting Temari to rub her arms once more. The heat she had gathered when sitting down had disappeared once she had stood.

She didn't notice Naruto moving until he dropped his jacket lightly onto her shoulders. She turned, surprised by the touch and found herself inches away from his face. It was one of the things she liked about Naruto - that he was virtually the same height she was. She didn't feel inferior, didn't feel like she was being forced to look up at him. Right now all she could think about was the fact that it meant she would have to lean up to kiss him. But she didn't move. Neither did he. He didn't pull away, but he didn't lean in either. The blush that exploded onto her face this time had to be visible. She felt like a furnace and he was too close not to see. She turned her face away hurriedly and he imminently backed off slightly. As soon as he did she began to miss the warmth he had been providing by standing do near her. And she missed his scent. Did he turn away because she hadn't looked at him? Had she missed a chance she hadn't even realised she wanted? Temari of the Sand was rarely flustered and it was not a feeling she was growing fond of. Before she could organize her thoughts though he spoke. And that particular chance was carried away with the breeze in totality, lost beyond recovery.

"So... are you settling in ok?" Clutching the jacket he had left on her shoulders around her she shrugged, feeling the material rubbing against her skin. Her cerulean eyes refused to meet his, leaving them both staring out over Konoha and the slowly brightening horizon.

"I'm getting used to it. It's nothing like Sunaha. No sand, " Naruto chuckled quietly at the observation, earning him a heated glare. " so many trees..." Naruto looked at her quizzically.

"There weren't any trees in your village?" Temari lowered her head and whispered her answer, not really paying attention to whether he could hear her words or not.

"Just one." Naruto kept looking at her silently. She knew he would not ask. It was the tentative agreement they had. Any information they gave was always volunteered, unless it was in casual conversation. This conversation was becoming far from casual.

"My mother... when she was still alive... kept a garden. Not really a garden I suppose. It only had one tree in it and that was all. A sakura tree actually. She was the only one who could keep it alive. She infused it with chakra and nurtured it through the harshest of summers and freezing desert winters. Every spring it bloomed and the petals showered our home." She stopped, swallowing shallowly. She had long since shed all her tears over her mother's death, but talking about it was not something she had ever done before. She hadn't even told Gaara... because once he wouldn't have cared and now it would only sadden him to know. Ignoring her cracking voice she continued. "The tree wasn't entirely natural because of the chakra infusions... so when it bloomed the petals were always a pale blue rather than the natural pink or white. They were beautiful." She whispered. "After she died, the tree died. It was so bonded to her that nothing we could do, no matter how much chakra we tried to infuse it with would keep it alive. There aren't any trees in Sunaha now." This time she felt his approach and sensed the warmth of his body as he wrapped his arms around her from behind. She stiffened momentarily before relaxing into his embrace.

Temari closed her eyes, startled when her lashes found the wetness of tears in her eyes. She shivered slightly, from a cold that had nothing to do with the breeze and watched the sun rise with the blond holding her securely. She couldn't help but wonder what he saw when he looked at her. Three years older than he she was twenty-one now and unlike him hadn't changed that much. She had grown in places and her figure had filled out, but overall there was little difference. The girl she had been was the picture of the woman she had become. As a kunoichi she had little time for femininity, nor the patience for make up and 'beautifying' herself. She was a shinobi and everything about her reflected that. Was it really a surprise that he showed no interest in her beyond friendship? Perhaps not but that didn't mean she couldn't pretend. Couldn't ignore the fact that they would never be involved the way she had hoped they could be when she had first seen him propped against the gates of Konoha, cloud gazing intently. She relaxed further into his embrace, absently realising that not even her brothers had ever held her like this. They were not a tactile family.

The sun was hovering above the horizon now. They had been there for far longer than was wise, but not nearly as long as she wanted them to be. Gradually Naruto released her and she let him go without complaint, but mourned the loss, both of his warmth once again and of her fantasy were he held her all night. Stepping to the side he stared down at the awakened village, frowning lightly. Temari started, only now realising that with nothing under the jacket but the net shirt, his basically bare chest had been pressed against her. She looked away before she could stop herself. Abruptly she saw movement out of the corner of her eye and dragged her unwilling gaze back to him, watching in confusion as he performed a series of hand seals before muttering the name of the jutsu under his breath.

"Fuusajin no jutsu." The wind picked up abruptly, leaving the ribbon tied about her waist and their hair snapping in the air. Her eyes widened as she watched the sakura trees being stripped of their petals as the sharp wind carried them upwards, high over the village and above the mountain she and Naruto stood on. She looked back to the boy whose hands were rapidly flying from seal to seal, this time in a longer, more extended sequence. The wind was still carrying the blossoms into the air as he finished the final seal, dozens after he had started. The fox sat up and watched it's master perform.

"Sakura aoi no jutsu." He ended his technique and looked upwards at the storm of petals broiling over Konoha in the cloudless sky with a small smile on his face. Speechless she followed his gaze, staring at the blossoms, aware that the people below had begun to watch as well, confused by the performance. She thought a few had noticed the two of them and were pointing them both out. She turned to the smiling youth, feeling agitated and uncertain.

"What did you do?" Her voice was a little more demanding than she could have hoped and she nearly flinched at the sound. He smiled a little wider and her eyes softened at his gentleness. The wind died but she paid it no heed. The blossoms would fall back down now. Big deal. His hand reached out slowly and caught something out of the air. Her eyes were drawn to his lightly closed fist without thought and watched silently as he opened his palm and offered the contents to her. Her breath caught and she gasped.

A prefect blossom, white with the lightest shade of blue she had ever seen lay in his palm, just like the ones her mother had made. Whirling back to the sky above Konoha she watched the soft blue sakura flowers rain down on the city slowly, blanketing it in a light frosting. She gasped again, shocked to find the tears streaming from her eyes and the sobs caught in her throat. His jacket fell off her shoulders and slid to the floor behind her as her arms wrapped around her body, nearly doubled over, trying to keep the wracking sobs to herself, to stop them flying out into the open. She stared up at him through waterlogged eyes and saw him smiling down at her with nothing but kindness in his eyes. Before she knew it she was in his arms again, crushing herself against his body. Her arm were wrapped around his chest now instead of her own and her face was pressed into the hollow of his throat. His arms held her to him and stroked her back gently, running up and down her spine lazily, comforting her as the blue petals fell around them.

Temari drew back a little to look into his face. Not meeting his eyes she leant forward a little and pressed her tear-stained lips against his for a second or two before drawing back slowly. Her eyes reopened, still watery and she watched him grin - the largest smile she had ever seen on him. She tried to laugh, but hiccuped lightly from her tears and looked down in embarrassment. A finger under her chin drew her face to his and he kissed her this time, long and drawn out, caressing and tasting her lips softly. Slowly he drew back and her eyes fluttered open once again to stare at him. he pulled her to him and held her against his body one more time, raising his head to smell her hair as she tightened her grip on him.

"...Why did you come up here?" Her voice was weak and cracked from her crying, but she needed to know.

"I was looking for you." He whispered into her dull blonde hair, kissing her forehead as he spoke. Her grip tightened again, before her hands snaked up into his hair and drew his lips down for another kiss.

Y'know, I liked that. True I'm the author so I might perhaps be a tad bias, but still. If I can't like my work who can? Just as a side note the last part of the story was written to 'Sadness and Sorrow' of the Naruto soundtrack (1). I don't know if reading it to the same would make any difference to you but I recommend you try. It suits the tone perfectly in my opinion. And as we have already established my opinion is law.