Humour, romance, a bit of angst, fluff, lemon, language
Disclaimer: Characters and names all belong to their proper owners.
Author's Note: If you'd like to read the complete (and uncensored) version... you can find it over at TONFA or AFFdotNet. Feel free to message/contact me and I'd be more than happy to give you the url. Yes... this is the final chapter. Thanks for all the support and for taking the time to read my little story—it's been fun.
Temari leaned against the door. He was gone. She sighed. He was gone. She didn't know why, but a part of her sort of wanted him to stay. Stay? And do what? She chuckled. Oh god, she knew what. Just then, he was looking pretty damn hot. She shook her head.
She was getting retarded, freaking hell.
Maybe she had drunk one too many shots of sake at that after-party.
Though, truthfully... she had no idea why they even had an "after-party" at all.
She had to admit, she was surprised when she saw him on stage. Okay, maybe "surprised" was a bit of an understatement; try completely and utterly stunned. That's not to say, however, that she wasn't moved... and touched. She couldn't help but think that... well... he'd done that... for her, hadn't he? She smiled. It was... kind of sweet.
She paused. And knocked her head backwards, hitting the door.
Good god, she was getting sappy.
Eventually, she pushed herself up and started walking away from the door, a part of her still feeling a bit... incomplete. She blamed all tipsiness and confusing emotion to the alcohol. Perhaps she shouldn't have gotten into that drinking game with Shikamaru. But, in her defence, he didn't look like the kind of guy who could hold down his alcohol.
That night, Temari learned to avoid judging people by their looks alone. It was kind of annoying how Shikamaru kept proving her wrong. Really.
Suddenly, she heard a knock. She turned around, wide-eyed. What?
Was she hearing things?
No. She heard it again. She walked back to the door. It couldn't be...
Hand hovering over the knob, still unsure whether she should open it or not, she reprimanded herself for being stupid.
Shikamaru was confused about the after-party. He wasn't expecting it. Why was there even an after-party anyway? It wasn't like they won... and it wasn't like their group was complete... He certainly wasn't a member of their little band and he wasn't planning on being one any time soon—tonight's experience was a once in a lifetime thing, and he was more than willing to keep it that way.
So, when Kankuro came to him with the invitation to join them for some sort of "gathering" at the local pub, he had been rather taken aback. So much so, in fact, that the Okay, why not? that had escaped his mouth did so without his noticing it.
Minutes later, at the pub, he realized it was their manager's idea. Baki was a rather intimidating sort of man, as far as Shikamaru was concerned; and the way he had stared and looked over Shikamaru in a sort of annoyed and irritated, yet superior way made Shikamaru feel really small indeed. He supposed he wasn't too happy an outsider had butted into band business, regardless of the fact that it had saved their asses.
He wondered for a second whether the tall, muscular man was part of the Sabakuno clan as well.
"Next time, even if you intend to aid us, do not do things on your own," was the only thing Baki said to him all night.
It was a little bit past 2 AM now. He wasn't too drunk... though admittedly he had drunk a bit more than wise.
But really, he had no idea women could drink so much.
Or maybe that was just Temari.
She'd looked really happy tonight. In truth, though they'd spent quite a lot of time together, it wasn't often he'd see an unguarded Temari. Every time he talked to her, he felt this wall thing—it was like she was warning him to stay away and not get too close. Tonight, there hadn't been any walls. Alcohol-induced or not, he had enjoyed being there to witness such a happy Temari.
Maybe... a bit too much.
He'd enjoyed it a bit too much.
That was probably why he'd offered to walk her to her hotel room when Kankuro got swept away by a couple of drunken fan-girls who had been brave enough to follow, and when Baki said he had a plane to catch. He couldn't have let Temari walk the streets at two in the morning by herself, now, could he?
That was also probably why he allowed his feet to take him back to her after having just deposited her there a few minutes ago.
That was probably why...
Temari got pushed back against the wall across her front door. With a grunt, she looked up, confused, at the boy now holding her shoulders. He's drunk was all she could think... but her body didn't seem to mind.
She was shushed with an eager mouth she was a bit too willing to welcome. Faintly, through her suddenly erratic heartbeat, she heard the door close with a click.
"I know he was trying to help us and everything," Kankuro said seriously, looking at Temari. "But..."
"Let it go, Kankuro," was Temari's short reply.
Gaara spoke up, "Kankuro has a point, Temari."
They both looked at him. They'd just finished briefing Gaara on what happened the night before. He was due to check out that afternoon and after that, they had a plane to catch. Their stay in Japan had been originally planned to be only a week at most—they, after all, only had one gig. However, the competition had pushed the date of their return home back and now that it was over, they had no reason to stay. Baki had called them that morning and informed them that he had managed to book them tickets home. They had a show in two days and he wanted them back ASAP. They had no reason to stay.
Yeah... no reason to stay.
"If the press ever found out about my broken arm, they'll have a field day."
"It's a good thing the hospital keeps things confidential, then," she said, as she zipped Gaara's bag closed.
"You are defending him." Gaara didn't ask a question; it was a statement.
Kankuro chuckled. "You're too young to understand, Gaara."
Temari shot him a look.
He raised his hands in mock defeat. "Hey, you're a girl, right? It happens when you get lai—Ow!"
A red apple, originally on top of Gaara's bedside table, found itself bouncing off Kankuro's head.
"Temari, it isn't wise to avoid the situation." Gaara was watching her now.
She sighed impatiently. "Look. What's done is done. There's nothing else we can do."
"Shikamaru was only trying to help."
He looked up from kissing her porcelain neck to find her staring at him, eyes glazed over. She was beautiful. He cupped her head with both hands, and gave her a chaste kiss on the lips. There was a momentary pause before she leaned in and sucked on his bottom lip, asking him to open his mouth. She was so god damn beautiful.
Shikamaru took a sip from the quickly cooling cup of coffee he held in his hands.
What in the hell was he doing here?
He looked up at the blonde girl across him as she nervously moved her cup around and around. He almost sighed—but he knew she had something to tell him and that it was wiser to listen. The gravity of the atmosphere said at least that much. But, really... it was the first thing in the morning... and he wasn't quite done talking to Temari just yet.
"I... saw the news," she said finally.
He moaned inwardly. Of course she did.
"It was you... wasn't it, Shikamaru?"
"Why do you say that, Ino?"
"I don't know," she shrugged. "Women's intuition?"
He looked at her. "Right." You forced it out of Chouji, didn't you?
"So," she said, still not looking him in the eye. "That blonde girl you were with-"
"-was Temari," he finished for her.
"How did you-"
"Her father is an important sponsor for the school orchestra. We got introduced after our last presentation." The one you decided not to go to, remember?
"Oh," was all she said.
He wondered for a second why she didn't just go through with it. Was she finally breaking up with him? Was she going to accuse him of cheating on her and make a big deal about it? She was, wasn't she? She was going to make it into something she could cry on Sasuke's shoulders about... The ironic thing was, whatever it was she decided to dish out, it would probably be true.
He couldn't help but think about what happened last night.
"Nothing happened, then?"
Shikamaru stared at her. She smiled—cheekily—at him.
"I mean," she continued. "A hot girl like Temari... she wouldn't be interested in a boring guy like you."
He had to admit, she actually had a point...
But... that wasn't the problem here.
"That's not what you really want to say, is it?"
She looked at him, startled. "What do you mean?"
He sighed impatiently. "Look," he said, not masking his irritation. "If you want to break up with me, go ahead. Accuse me of cheating on you; call me a lying, cheap bastard. Cry. Tell me I've broken your hea-"
"But," she said, voice growing weaker, "you didn't..."
He couldn't look her in the eye.
"Shi-Shikamaru," she said, voice shaking, "tell me you didn't."
"What does it really matter?" he said, looking at her now. "It's been two years, Ino. Two. Years. Obviously your little plan to win Sasuke's heart is not working—the guy will not get jealous. Haven't you had enough?"
She stared at him.
"I don't even know why you're acting out now. Jesus, Ino," he said looking away again. "He's not even here."
What was he saying? He was asking for a fight.
Really, that Temari had a way of making his mind go fuzzy when he most needed it—
"Shit!" Suddenly, Shikamaru found himself soaked with coffee. Thank god it had cooled down—he shuddered to think what it would've felt if it were still boiling. "What the hell, Ino!"
She was standing now, hand still sticking out from having thrown the coffee at him.
She was shaking.
"Is that it?" she whispered, staring at a spot on the table. "Is that it, then? That's what's going on?"
Shikamaru stared at—for the first time ever—an Ino with tears silently falling down her cheeks. He'd never seen Ino cry before.
"Baka. Don't think you can read everyone so well."
She looked at him, tears still welling up in her eyes. She was obviously trying hard to stop them, regardless of the fact that she was failing terribly.
"You know what? For a genius, you're pretty stupid," she said finally, voice breaking. She sat back down.
Without looking at him, she said, "I asked you out to the Spring Formal two years ago, Shikamaru—not Sasuke. I asked you."
Her eyes shot open and she gasped.
She could hardly breathe now. She wanted him to stop—no. She didn't... she couldn't decide. Either stop the torture now or finally push her off that last cliff because it was driving her close to insani—
Her body stiffened and she involuntarily arched, mouth open in a silent scream of ecstasy.
"I can go back on my own," she said indignantly, waving away his offer. The both of them watched as Baki-san disappeared into the night. I'll call you later when something turns up were his last words. Temari knew she would probably get a call from him a few hours later—probably when he was still in his plane. He was just that kind of man, really.
"It's two in the morning," he retorted. "There're weirdoes and rapists out... and you're drunk."
She stared at him. "You're the weirdo. Besides, I'm not drunk."
"You're holding your glass upside down."
She stared at the shot glass. "I'm doing it on purpose."
She sighed and smiled at him. "Admit it: you just want to get into my pants."
He choked on his water. "Wh-what!"
"Ooh," she laughed. "Bull's eye?"
He stared at her for a split-second before turning away with a slight blush.
"You're not wearing pants."
Shikamaru groaned as light pushed through his closed eyelids.
He was exhausted. His body ached. His head throbbed. Somewhere to his left he heard sounds that seemed to come from a television—something about a robbery somewhere by someone. To his right, he heard the sounds of clothes being folded. Slowly, he opened his eyes to stare at a plain white ceiling. It took him a moment to remember where he was.
He pushed himself up from the bed, letting the sheets that covered him fall. His chest was bare.
"Ah," Temari looked up from her packing. She was fully dressed. "You're up. I was just about to wake you."
He didn't—or rather, couldn't—say anything.
She laughed. "You have a hangover, don't you?"
Looking to his right he spotted a glass of water and pills beside it. Temari continued her packing as he swallowed the painkillers.
"Where you going?"
She looked up. "Back home. We're picking up Gaara at the hospital and catching an afternoon flight."
Shikamaru stared at her for a bit. Home?
She didn't even pause. "Well, yeah. I live in the States, remember?"
"I have to fly," she said, closing her bag. "Your clothes are over there. You can walk out of here on your own, right?"
He stared at her.
She looked away, as if unable to look him in the eye. "One sec. Bathroom."
As she disappeared into the adjoining washroom, he stared at the television. Grabbing the remote, he flipped channels.
NHK General TV—public announcements...
Really, what had he expected?
Nippon TV—some lame game show again...
This was Sabaku no Temari they were talking about...
HBO—oh, they had cable.
It wasn't like she was—
Fuji TV—more news...
"—according to this footage we see, it appears all three members of the famous punk rock band Sabaku were present at a cafe three days ago. Unfortunately, due to the poor video quality we are unable to identify who they were with... however, it appears clearly here," a red circle appeared in the middle of the screen, highlighting someone being strangled by someone else, "that one of them was injured. Based on eye-witness accounts, the victim appears to be Gaara, Sabaku's lead guitarist."
Shikamaru stared at the screen. "Shit..."
The screen flashed to footage from the Chuunin Battle of the Bands.
Temari walked out of the washroom. "What's up, Shikamaru?"
He continued staring at the screen.
"The band was also present at an underground rock concert last night called the Chuunin. Gaara was able to play the guitar without difficulty," the camera panned and zoomed in on a hooded 'Gaara', "but was unable to sing. Live at a fan's after-the-concert party we have our correspondent..."
"Wow," Temari spoke up. "Had no clue Japanese people were this quick picking up the gossip."
Shikamaru looked up at her, a strange knot forming at the bottom of his stomach.
"They don't know about Gaara actually breaking his arm yet, do they?"
Temari shrugged. "Guess not."
"If they do find out..."
Temari grinned. "It'll be fairly amusing."
Shikamaru cursed. "Shit. I'm sorry... I wasn't thinking when I-"
She sat down next to him. "Relax. It's not... entirely your fault..."
He looked blankly at her.
"Okay, maybe it is," she surrendered. "But, hey, you did help us out."
He sighed, looking away. How could he have been so stupid?
Temari reached out. "You're the last person who needs to be worried about this. I mean, it's our ba-"
Shikamaru's cell phone rang out of no where. He really needed to change that ring tone. Blushing, he reached out for his jeans which were at the foot of the bed. After fishing the phone out of the pocket, he moaned at the number on the caller ID.
All the while, Temari watched.
"Ne, Shikamaru," Ino's voice sounded. "Let's meet up for breakfast, okay?"
"What?" was all he could say.
"I'll wait for you at, uhm... that... cafe we always go to. Okay?"
"Wait," he couldn't believe what he was hearing, "Ino-"
He sighed again. It was too early in the morning for this.
Shikamaru started. He turned around to see a smiling Temari.
"Can't keep her waiting, can we?"
"I can't believe it," Ino was hanging on to Shikamaru. "It really is you."
Inexplicably, Temari felt an urge to grab her and choke her to death.
"Even after Shikamaru told me how you two met..." she started, still staring, and still hanging unto Shikamaru like he was her favourite bloody teddy bear.
Shikamaru coughed, interrupting.
Temari laughed—oh she wanted to kill the bitch. First she'd stolen him away that morning when she was planning on—
"And I can't believe it's you," why the hell is he going out with you? "—the girl I hear so much about."
Ino looked pleased. Ah, so she was possessive and obsessed. "Really?"
Shikamaru was looking at her now. She smiled.
"Oh yeah. He would never shut up about you."
Ino blushed—it was obviously fake. Somehow. Probably.
"Temari," Shikamaru started.
No. Temari wouldn't have it... a part of her wanted it, but she couldn't—he didn't belong to her.
"If you're still worried about the press, don't."
Kankuro spoke up from behind. "Yeah, no one knows about us leaving today—hell, we didn't find out till this morning. It's not a big deal so long as no one finds out Gaara actually broke his arm. We'll just dismiss it as gossip."
Gaara said coolly, expression still unchanging. "The plane is boarding."
Ino forced down a squeal and started shaking from excitement. Temari rolled her eyes.
"Gaara, say hello to Ino."
Gaara regarded her for a few seconds before finally nodding.
Temari then realized why she was hanging onto Shikamaru for dear life. She practically fainted.
A fan-girl... pathetic.
She looked at Shikamaru who was obviously still concerned.
"Forget it, Shikamaru. As far as we're concerned, it's just some free publicity."
With that, she smiled and turned to her brothers. Kankuro waved, Gaara nodded curtly and the three of them disappeared into another crowd. Shikamaru stared after Temari's retreating back for a while before realizing Ino was staring at him.
"Nothing happened, right?" she asked softly, referring to the conversation they'd just had in the cafe.
He looked back at where Temari's back originally was.
"No, nothing happened."
It was all a dream.
Temari moaned as Shikamaru pushed her against the door. Her hand desperately tried to open the door behind her, but she couldn't manage to grip the knob long enough to turn it.
Suddenly, the door behind her disappeared and she fell.
With a groan of pain, she hit her head on the carpeted floor of her private bedroom in their hotel suite. Shikamaru managed to catch himself and not fall on her, though he ended up above her. They stared at each other for a while.
"You're not drunk." Temari hadn't really asked a question.
"No," he replied. "Are you?"
She smiled at him. "Not really."
A silence ensued as they watched each other.
"Temari," he began, "I... I think... I'm-"
She shushed him with a finger.
"Don't ruin the moment by saying something stupid, Shikamaru."
He looked at her confused.
"Besides," she finished, "I don't think your girlfriend will appreciate it."
Ino was walking in front him. Where she got all her energy was a mystery he didn't want to bother even thinking about. He sighed. Looking up, he saw an airplane flying away into the distance.
In the end... they lived in two different worlds.
He pocketed his hands, contemplating whether or whether not he should excuse himself when... he pulled something out of his pocket. He stared at the white piece of paper now in his hand. He chuckled. Temari's song. Complete with chords and everything.
What was she trying to say, exactly?
Turning the paper over, he smiled.
Next time round, Nara, make sure you're free, yeah?
Temari leaned against the compartment window. Because it had been such short notice, they'd only managed to book business class seats—ah well. It wasn't too bad, really. She smiled to herself as she watched buildings below her getting smaller and smaller.
It wasn't very long... but she had shared a little harmony with him.
In the end, that was all that mattered.
They'd see each other again one day, anyway... right?