Set around Ch. 245. A Temari short. Temari, Shikamaru. Written for subdivided's anon!meme.

She does not know what to say to him when the winter comes.

They have made a joint project out of lying in bed that weekend, only getting up occasionally to visit the bathroom or grab a drink. Shikamaru brings back only one cup from the kitchens; easier if we both just drink from it, he explains through a yawn, taking liberal swallows before he passes over a considerably lightened glass to her.

His parents look the other way, for which Temari is grateful. She does not want to explain to anyone right now why the Sand-representative is spending an inordinate amount of time with a Konoha jounin, why her fan has been tipped over by the door like an object instead of a weapon. Why she has been naked on his futon for the last forty-eight hours. Why the inside of her wrist has a dark bruise the size of his mouth. No, let Konoha overlook her presence. She can wait.

But the winter is new to her. It is strange and foreign, and just a little bit dangerous. Temari smells it first when it arrives; they had cracked the window to let some of the odor out -- sweat and oils and assorted bodily fluids -- and the change in humidity cues her sand-heightened senses.

"Hey," she whispers, and then hisses, prodding the lump of flesh beside her with her finger. "I think it's snowing outside."

Shikamaru responds by grumbling, and then draping his body on top of her leg.

Temari gives him an ineffective shove. "Get up. I want to see the storm. Shikamaru." Her voice knows her mood better than she does; it lowers into a snarl, one that only partially shows its teeth. "Move it, idiot. Are you asleep again? Shikamaru!"

Her only answer is a snore.

He finally gives up his limp resistence when her pokes turn to punches, flat thumps of her hand along his back. "Stoppit, stop." He relocates his weight with as little energy as possible, falling off her body rather than rolling away, like an overripe apple grudgingly releasing its branch. Just as she is about to hit him once more for good measure, he cracks open an eye. "I was dreaming."

"Yeah?" Aborting her downward swing, Temari only gives a menacing shake of her fist instead. "Didn't you hear me?"

"Sure I did." Shikamaru twists his spine, boneless as a cat with black hair. "I just didn't recognize you until you started yelling."

She snorts at him, unwilling to give him the victory through denial. The sheets of the futon stick to her body when she moves, sweaty clumps of fiber that have been warmed by spit and proximity until they match her body temperature. And his. Temari is fortunate that Shikamaru runs on the lukewarm side: her from a Sand heritage, him from lethargy.

He doesn't even protest when she peels herself off the bed and takes the top cover with her. It's a petty victory. The sheet trails behind her feet in kitten-whispers, rubbing against her ankles. The floor is cold. Shikamaru's parents are in a one-sided arguement downstairs; their voices drift up to her in distorted bits and pieces, the mother lecturing, the father giving in.

Outside, Konoha is a battleground of white.

This is not the first time she has seen snow come down before. Temari prides herself on her ability to look distantly cynical, unsurprised despite the oddities of the world, and it takes a lot of exposure to build up a shellack of indifference. Kankurou was with her that first time, when she'd been unable to keep her composure, and had gaped like a little girl.

You look like you're watching Baki's sandstepping lessons again, he'd teased, and had limped all the next week for the mockery.

Shikamaru is watching her from the futon. His head is propped up on the pillow, and his bangs are everywhere, so that his face is a seaweed mass with black eels for eyes. The imprint of her teeth still lingers on his upper arm in a nice ring of broken blood vessels, or grape candy freckles. His hair is thicker than hers; his skin too. He does not flinch when she snarls.

Shikamaru likes to take her ponytails down with both hands, his fingers fisted in her scalp. It is one of the few times she does not mind someone over her.

He blinks when he sees her looking back over her shoulder towards the bed; he blinks, and says nothing.

That's one of the things she finds that she relishes about him: Shikamaru never comments. He says he's too lazy.

Laziness is the saving grace of their interactions. Shikamaru never tells her that she looks girly, or not girly enough. He never tells her that she should keep her Village in mind or make her country proud, or even that he can pick up the tab for their take-out. There are no rules established for their relationship -- what little there is of it, she tells herself, because Temari has never wanted more weaknesses than she can afford. He doesn't try to take control, and doesn't protest when she does.

He never tells her she should change.

Most importantly, Shikamaru never says anything when he sees her half-naked by his window, one hand reaching out to try and catch the flakes.

Winter feels like dozens of tiny needles lancing her skin. It's a pain that's worse than a sandstorm. Winter gets inside Temari's body in a way that kunai never can, turning her own flesh numb and unresponsive. It eats sound. Everything is quiet and frozen and dead once the snows come in, burying the world in silence.

It's worse than Shikamaru's shadows. At least he never leaves her cold afterwards.

She leaves her fingers extended anyway, cupping the snow that trickles from the sky.

When she comes back to bed, her hand is frozen from the storm. She slides it between the sheets, along the planes of Shikamaru's stomach, feeling the restrained heat of his body rise to meet her. She can see how his eyes tighten at the sudden chill, but she makes no excuses, and he is kind enough not to wince.