Cat AndMouse (a temashika story)
"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake." -Chessmaster S.G. Tartakower
It switches POV's quite a lot. Sorry if it confuses anyone...
"Do you ever get tired of killing?" he asked.
Temari stared at the corpse at her feet, cut up and bloody. She stared at her fan, cut up and bloody. Did she get tired of it, he wanted to know? The genius with a 200+ IQ wanted to know something? What a stupid question. What a stupid guy.
"No." she answered, turning her back on the body and refusing to meet Shikamaru's eyes. "I don't get tired of it."
She walked past him and left him to trail behind her.
Shikamaru was irritated.
The fact that he was irritated just irritated him farther. Things did not nag Shikamaru often, and when they did, he would just forget about them and stare at the clouds before the problem went away. He had been staring for the clouds for two hours now and it was getting dark.
Temari had not gone away.
"We should break camp," he stated lazily, throwing his pack down and using it as a pillow.
She still held a grudge against him, apparently. It wasn't Shikamaru's fault that he had been assigned an assassination and that Hokage-sama thought him incapable of doing it right himself. It wasn't his fault that Temari happened to be in Konoha at that time. And it definitely wasn't his fault that at that precise moment she had strolled into Tsunade's office for something or other. He didn't understand women. His father insisted that he hadn't exactly had the best selection: his mother, Sasuke-obsessed Ino, Sasuke-obsessed Sakura, and the one women scarier than his mom: Temari of the Sand.
Shikamaru observed her from the corner of his eye. She sat there, staring out into space, the slightest hint of sorrow in her impossibly black eyes. The moonlight caressed her figure, accenting the soft curves and smoothing the sharp points of her hair, showcasing the softness of her porcelain pale skin- he abruptly stopped himself, feeling the slightest tinge of a blush work its way into his cheeks. ...where did that come from...?
Her inquiry brought him out of his trace. "Do I what?"
"Get tired of it. The killing."
He didn't answer for awhile, just sat there pondering the question. Not as much the answer to the question- he knew that already- but exactly how he would present it. The why's, the when's, the who's. He debated on telling her that the lifeless eyes made his stomach turn and that he still occasionally threw up in the bushes after missions. Thought about revealing to Temari about the figures that haunted him in his dreams. Thought about telling her that the smell of blood revolted him.
"Yeah." he said. "Killing is troublesome."
"Troublesome." She laughed harshly. "Everything is troublesome, isn't it?" She chucked again and leaned back, her smirk bitter. "Well, that's the truth."
Shikamaru rolled over and studied her casually. "Hating is troublesome too."
Temari turned, startled, and narrowed her eyes. "What's that supposed to mean?"
He hid a small smirk, turning away to study the stars. "Just what I said. What good ever came from hating someone?"
She furrowed her brows but didn't reply. Picking up her fan, she absently began checking the joints, running her hands over the rips and tears that adorned the staunch parchment in a macabre pattern. This was going to take forever to fix. Temari removed the sewing kit from her weapons pouch and began to stitch the tough, coarse paper together. Shikamaru's thoughts had just began to drift when she spoke again.
"I don't think that you hate someone intentionally. You don't just look at them and say, 'Hm, I think I'll hate them'." Temari kept sewing, eyes on her work. "Telling yourself not to hate would be..." She paused, hands momentarily still. "It'd be like telling yourself not to love." She moved again, resuming the sewing where she had left off.
Shikamaru rolled over again, studying her face. "You seem awfully familiar with hatred."
Temari looked him directly in the eye, her gaze almost a challenge. "I never denied it."
They held each other's gaze for awhile, Shikamaru trying to understand the one person who could confuse him. Finally, he looked away, and both bodies let out a silent breath neither realized they had been holding.
Shikamaru pictured her eyes, how she had looked as she had stared. They held anger, apathy, and beneath everything- barely tangible- a wisdom that came only through pain and suffering. Other moments they would sparkle, but that wasn't often. More so they were hard like flint, with a ruthless- that was too strong of a word- a morbid delight, maybe. It seemed like the real Temari was hidden beneath layers and layers of emotional training classes.
A question suddenly struck him: why in the heck did he care?
I hate Nara. I hate Nara. I. Hate. Nara.
Temari silently cursed him with every curse she knew- and there was a lot of them. When he locked eyes with her, something happened, something strange. This weird fluttering in her chest, the words would erupt from her mouth before she had even recalled thinking them. Shinobi did not speak foolishly, and this stupid, lazy Chuunin was seriously throwing her for a loop. What in the heck was this guy doing to break through her walls?
Temari looked up, confused. That was also a new development, being confused. Sabaku no Temari did not get confused. It simply didn't happen.
It happened today, apparently.
"How troublesome," Shikamaru mumbled, sitting up and wiping water from his face. "Rain."
Temari felt like screaming in frustration, her short temper evident. "Fine. We just need a tent."
"Do you have one?"
"No, I thought you did..."
She absolutely, positively, HATED Nara.
Act normal, Shikamaru. He beat this thought in his head. Just act normal.
After they had realized that both had neglected to pack a tent, the storm had picked up. The rain pounded and thunder had almost drowned out Temari's reluctant suggestion that they find a sturdy tree, cut a niche in it, and use her freakishly huge fan as a roof. It was simple, just wedge the shorter end of the fan into the niche and the larger part was an automatic, immobile umbrella.
It had taken them about ten minutes to find a tree- they couldn't agree on one, not surprisingly- to cut the niche, and to try and stick the shorter metal end in without snapping the trunk in half. Finally, for all their hard work, they had about three square feet of rain-free dirt.
It should be mentioned here that three feet is not enough space for two teenagers, especially when both are very conscious and protective of their 'bubbles'. So now they had to scrunch- SCRUNCH- together, shoulder to shoulder, against that stupid tree and wait for the storm to stop, and it didn't look like it would anytime soon.
Even that wouldn't be so bad, Shikamaru mused. But rain was a stupid, stupid element that liked to play with teenager's hormones. His ponytail was flopped down and sopping wet, along with Temari's upper pigtails. And her clothes stuck to her like a second skin. Sticking to every single curve and contour of her well-toned body. Be a cloud, Shikamaru. You are a cloud, you are drifting... free...
I'd be easier to imagine being a drifting cloud if there was not a very soft arm resting against his.
Temari glanced furtively over at the pineapple haired boy, flicking her eyes over and not noticing as they stuck like flypaper. His hair was slick with rain and flopped, but not a stray hair in front of his face. Maybe he used hair gel... Shikamaru and hair gel? This train of thought led her to imagining him getting up in the morning: yawning, pulling himself out of bed, shrugging out of his-
"...find something interesting to look at..." he quipped, noticing her stare.
"I was just noticing how the rain made it look like you were crying. Like after that mission." she shot back, immediately regretting it. He flinched and looked away. ...moron. You're such a jerk, Temari. Go shoot yourself.
She mumbled something incomprehensible. Shikamaru twitched. "Hn?"
He turned to face her, confused. "Lucky? About what?" Shikamaru decided not to point out that scientifically, there was no such thing as luck. This woman was one of the only people he knew that understood half of what he was saying.
"You can cry, and people won't scream at you. I haven't cried for... well... since I was four, I think." She paused, trying to cover up the personal information glitch. Something in her brain must have shorted out. "Emotional training classes are crap in Konoha."
"...you haven't cried since you were four?"
Temari scowled. "I thought you were a genius. Rule number twenty-five, remember?"
Shikamaru shrugged nonchalantly. "Rules were made to be broken."
Rules were made to be broken? What in the heck had possessed him to say that? "That's what they say, at least." he added lamely.
"Who are 'they', exactly?"
"What kind of question is that?"
"I'm assuming 'they' are dead people that we quote because we have nothing better to do."
Temari laughed, a real laugh this time. Shikamaru chuckled and gave her a ghost of a smile. "You should laugh more often."
He leaned back against the tree, not really caring that the back of his shirt was getting soaked. "We're technically not on a mission right now. Rule twenty-five was put in place so that shinobi wouldn't mind death. If we're not on a mission, we're not killing. The rule is null and void."
Temari stared at him in amusement. "Does this mean that you'll say something other than 'how troublesome' tonight?" She looked him in the eye and an idea sparked in Shikamaru's mind. A devious idea. He smirked.
"Fine. I won't say 'troublesome' once tonight."
She raised her eyebrow skeptically. "And the catch?"
"You have to show me a real smile. Not a snarky or sadistic one."
"It'll help with emotional training. Manipulating your emotions."
Riiiight. Admit it: you just want to see her smile, his hormones taunted. He beat them back with a huge log of common sense.
Temari crossed her arms and snorted. "You're an odd person, Nara Shikamaru." She paused, twirling a strand of wet hair on her finger. "...so rule twenty-five is discarded tonight...?"
There was silence for a moment- an inviting one. One you could either fill with something meaningful or something trivial.
"Apparently?" Temari retorted, crossing her arms. "Just answer yes or no, Nara. Honestly, quit beating around the bush."
Temari cringed inwardly, but held fast. Hide behind the sarcasm. She had learned early on not to trust anyone. Ever. But this guy... there was something about him...
She smirked to herself. So we're going to play this little game, Temari thought, her fingers steepled. Peel the onion: see who can get to the heart of the other while simultaneously guarding ourselves. It would be quite the game, she predicted. Temari liked games, and she especially liked to win.
Bring it on, bum.
"So, do you have any childhood trauma you'd like to share, Shikamaru?" Temari taunted, grinning sadistically. "Life-scarring memories, clan massacrers, family conspiracy?"
Shikamaru rolled his eyes. "You should be talking to Sasuke or Neji if you want something like that."
"Shall I make something up, then?"
"Oh, please do. I am absolutely craving entertainment."
Shikamaru gazed into the fire they had managed to start after the storm had passed about a half hour ago, noting in the back of his mind how troublesome it was to start the stupid thing. "Let's see..." He yawned, too lazy to assume his traditional thinking pose. "My mother is secretly having an affair with Orochimaru's assistant, Kabuto. My father suspects foul play, but he's too whipped to say anything. Meanwhile, I just found out that Tenten is my long-lost sister and Gai is my uncle. Now Rock Lee keeps quizzing me for information about his bowl-cut sensei and Tenten is stalking me. Naturally, I am suffering from all of this human contact and have began to show the symptoms of manic behavior." He paused, shooting Temari a look and relishing the shock on her face. "Entertained now?"
The blonde just sat there for a moment, blinking. "...are you on crack?"
Ouch. That one hurt. "You wanted entertainment, fan-girl."
"Fan-girl?" Temari shot him a glare. "Where did that come from?"
"You strap a giant fan onto your back, Temari." Shikamaru said, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world and that she was stupid for making him point it out. Which in his perspective, was partly true. It was unusual for her...
"If I'm fan-girl," she decided, "than I'm going to call you shadow-boy."
He shrugged. "Better than Mr. Crybaby."
Temari sulked inwardly. It's no fun to insult someone if they accept it. Moron. "There's no clouds, so I don't know why you're staring at the sky like an idiot."
He started to mumble 'how troublesome,' but remembered their deal and caught himself just in time. "Why do you care?"
She ignored his question. "Honestly, what are you going to do with yourself? You just nap and complain all the time. Are you ever going to grow up?" Instantly, Temari knew that she had gone too far. He turned away from her, tensing slightly. She fell silent, cursing herself for her own stupidity.
It was quiet after that: Temari not knowing how to break the spell and Shikamaru not wanting to. Abruptly, she rose. "I'm going to go get some firewood," she mumbled, brushing off her skirt and disappearing into the thick woods.
Temari hoped that he hadn't noticed that there was a pile by the fire in the first place, but she highly doubted that he had missed anything.
Shikamaru rolled back over and glanced furtively at the spot where Temari had vanished, trying to keep his expression blank but failing miserably. He groaned and passed a hand over his face. This was not going to be an easy night, especially if they kept this stupid game of cat-and-mouse up. But who was the cat and who was the mouse?
He tried to convince himself he didn't care. And it didn't work.
Shikamaru wasn't sure how long he sat there, trying to figure out how to forfeit this game, the game with no rules. He longed to feel the familiar Shougi tiles in his hand, the click as he placed the pieces on the board knowing exactly what was going on in his own mind and in his opponent's. But alas, there were no game pieces to hold, only a blonde girl that could throw him in seconds flat. He groaned again as he realized where this train of thought was going, and tried in vain to exterminate the thought from his head.
"Hey." Temari's voice broke though his reverie, unusually quiet.
"So I take it there was no firewood?" he asked, smirking at her.
Temari felt fury explode in the pit of her stomach, and resisted the urge to punch Shikamaru in the face. "...you pompous, lazy, sexist JERK! I was going to apologize to you, you know that?" she ranted, stomping her foot so hard that it left a miniature crater. Temari hauled Shikamaru up by the collar of his mesh shirt, her face inches from him as she continued to scream into his face. "I come back here to tell you that I'm sorry, and you ask me about firewood?"
He was panicking. What do I do, what do I do? Shikamaru's thoughts scrambled for purchase in the steep, rocky crevice he was falling into, down, down, down...
Then, he kissed her.
Temari eked out a slight squeak in surprise, releasing Shikamaru's collar. What in the... Coherent thoughts faded away as he wrapped an arm around her waist, sliding her closer to him. Sliding her eyes shut, she felt her legs turn to jelly as he tipped her head back gently, deepening the previously chaste kiss.
Then as quick as it had started, it was over, Shikamaru letting go quickly and turning away, his whole face aflame. Temari tried to catch her breath and her train of thought– the one that had been derailed so abruptly.
"Crap." she heard him whisper. "That wasn't supposed to turn out that way." He ran a hand through his hair before realizing that Temari was still there. He turned around and stared at the ground, hands in his pockets. "You were supposed to shove me away or something, then I could've forgotten about this whole troublesome mess..."
"Well," Temari said, crossing her arms and trying to keep a quiver out of her voice, "are you forgetting?"
She could see his face scrunch up, disbelieving that she would ask such a stupid question. "...no..."
The blonde groaned in exasperation and grabbed a fistful of his flak jacket, yanking his face inches away from her own. "You're such a moron."
He grinned, a silly little grin that he instantly felt stupid for. "I can live with that," Shikamaru drawled, pulling her closer and closing the gap between their lips again.
Temari stared into the fire, embers smoldering gently. She felt Shikamaru shift slightly in his position next to her, an arm draped lazily around her waist and tugging her to him. Sighing, she nuzzled closer and buried her face into his mesh undershirt. "Oi, lazy."
"I lied before..."
He shifted a bit, tipping his head down to observe her face still against his chest, muffling her words. "Hm?"
"I get tired of it." she mumbled, her words slurred with drowsiness. "I know that I'm not supposed to... 'cause I'm a shinobi, but..." Temari trailed off, figuring he could finish the sentence himself.
Shikamaru breathed her in, the scent of sand and lilies and blood and water and grace and roughness and a thousand of other things that he couldn't place, but he wanted to, so badly, and he kept a small flame of hope inside that maybe someday he could. Tightened his grip and felt strangely protective of this foreign nin in his arms. And he wondered if they could keep rule twenty-five discarded for just a bit longer.
Another story that's been sitting on my computer for a long time, and I've finally finished it! Loved it? Hated it? Something not quite right? Review and let me know!