She found him immature when she first noticed him, what with his slumped shoulders, hands stuck into pockets, ridiculous hair piled into a pineapple ponytail that seemed ready to revolt. He was too young for her tastes, too naïve of the world. At that time, she was more interested in the mysterious boy wonder, Uchiha Sasuke than the average shinobi of Team 10.
The first time she watched him fight, she was far too shaken to notice the muscles that rippled, if only a little, along his arms. He controlled shadows, and he seemed far too laid back to care that he had won in such an interesting way against the Sound Nin. He was a boy who controlled the dark in a place where light seemed to reign. But she reasoned that she didn't have to worry about it. She wouldn't fight him.
When she did, she found her assumptions to be far from correct. Although he seemed lazy (and he admitted to that only a few minutes into the fight), he seemed far too intelligent, too cunning, too sly. He made her calculate and recalculate every single time he made a move, driving her straight into his carefully thought-out trap. He had her in his grips and when he raised his hand, she was sure he was ready to make her slit her own wrists. But she heard him say he wanted out, that it was over, that he didn't have enough chakra to fight. And then he released her out of his jutsu, looking nonchalantly away, ignoring the screams of the crowd as they demanded he continue.
She asked him why.
He said it was too troublesome.
She didn't answer.
And he continued, explaining that he had thought of two hundred possible outcomes and decided that maybe giving up was easier.
When she still couldn't respond, he smirked and walked away, the screams of the blond brat filling the arena. All she could do was watch with her teal eyes narrowing, her lower lip drawn between her teeth.
For the first time, she noticed that he had an interesting walk. If she were more honest to herself, she would have admitted that it was more than interesting.
It was alluring.
After the horrible events that occurred during the Chuunin exam, she was surprised to receive the order of the Hokage that she was to go help on a mission to bring back the mysterious boy wonder, the one that she had eyed like prey the first time in Konoha. When she arrived on the scene, she caught sight of the genius that had managed to beat her, even though she had technically won the battle. And so, in order to prove herself, she whipped out her fan and had her fun with the aggressor, his opponent, letting that woman know that only she could fight him. In a matter of minutes, the flute-wielding, pink haired beast of the Sound was dead on a broken trunk, her mouth bleeding.
When she turned to look back at him, she saw his eyes.
He had never seen anything like her display of violence before.
For the second time, she was slightly disappointed with herself.
But in a moment, he was smirking as if that were the way he could thank her. As if his smirk meant so much that she would take it as payment of her rescuing him.
In the hospital, as she accompanied him with waiting for the diagnosis on the health of his best friend, she watched as he deteriorated before her eyes. A complete breakdown, something she had not had the pleasure of doing since the age of five. She watched as his shoulders shook and his hands fiddled with each other in an attempt to distract him from the possibility that everything would end in tragedy. She couldn't stand watching him like that. She wanted to pull his hair and bang his forehead into the wall. That was not the same boy she had fought and lost to. That was an immature wreck of dissolving emotions, and she wanted nothing more than to bash his nose in with her fist. But she settled with biting remarks and a cold tone, telling him that he had to get a grip of himself. And she continued until he walked away from her, only to be stopped by his own father and given a good talking to until the Hokage came out to inform them that his friend, the chubby one who always ate chips, was in stable condition. Then her assistant came by and told the group that the blond brat had returned, alive and well.
She watched, transfixed, as tears crawled their way down her rival's cheeks and fell to the floor, dark stains of sadness.
When she was leaving Konoha and its brightness (she claimed it was too green for her complexion when Kankurou asked her why she was in such a hurry), he had come to see her off with his group of students. She said a few words before turning around with her brothers, ready to go back home, whatever that was. Only a few feet away and she had to turn, to make sure he was still there. She smiled and said a few words and he smirked, once more. Satisfied, she turned back, ignoring the remarks her paint-smudged brother gave her and the looks she received from her youngest sibling.
Reaching the place they had been born, she took the chance to look back towards the direction they had come, her eyes searching for a hint of green, suggesting that maybe, just maybe, they didn't live so far apart.
All she found was sand.
Two years and a half later, and she was given the choice (her brother told her it was an order she could readily decline as a way to mask it) to venture back to Konoha as a liaison for the two countries. When she asked why her, the red haired, tattooed teenager simply answered that she knew more people there than any other candidates. Besides, he thought she was looking strangely pale and that, if he remembered correctly, the green of Konoha had done wonders, even if she easily declined such a thing.
She accepted after she received a glare from the fifteen year old. His response was handing her a visa scroll and giving her the faintest smile she had ever seen grace his lips. He stared at her for a moment before waving her away, muttering to himself about paperwork and robes.
Green trees were the signs that told her she was getting close to her destination. She felt flushed and her skin tingled, though that could have been the sweat, she reasoned. Her black yukata felt strangely tight on her, and her fan, for the first time, was hindering her and causing her to believe she was going far too slowly for her benefit. Although she was sure she was going to get there late, she arrived a day early, her journey only a two day trip. She was received by a much taller, slightly lazier version of the boy she had wanted so badly to defeat. He only glared at her when she arrived before leading her towards the official building where the Hokage lived and did her work. She followed obediently, though she remained a few steps behind, entranced by his walk.
This time, though, her eyes were more drawn to his rear.
By the time they reached the Hokage's office, she was blushing madly at the thoughts that raced through her mind. The Hokage, her assistant, and even the pineapple haired freak stared at her for two minutes as she tried to regain her composure.
When the older blonde deemed the younger to be ready to receive her briefing, she waved at her assistant to begin the instructions. And then the fan wielder blushed some more at the news that he was going to be following and leading her around.
He seemed appalled at the idea, mentioning something about her having been there before and knowing the city.
He shut up the moment both blondes gave him a look, even though he did manage to mutter something that sounded awfully like troublesome.
During her stays at Konoha, he'd take her around, indulging her in most of her desires, taking her out to fancy dinners as she demanded, because according to her, she was an important part of the future negotiations between the Kazekage and Hokage. He simply shrugged and nodded, claiming that arguing would tire him and that it would prove easier to just do what she said. He explained to her that it was the same philosophy he had with his mother.
She smacked him over the head when he said that.
And she smiled.
On her third visit, she asked him why he didn't have a girlfriend, seeing that he was much better looking now than he was two years before, though she still said that he wasn't much to look at. He countered with a question about her romantic relationships, and she blushed. He was never allowed the chance to press the matter, for a few minutes later she had heard that the Kazekage of the Sand had been kidnapped.
On her seventeenth visit, as he so cleverly informed her, she dared herself to sit closer to him during dinner. Instead of the usual foot and a half separating them, she sat only a foot away, her hand on the table, reaching over to where his hand was to quickly grab the tiny glass jar that held the salt. He quickly looked down at the vinyl seat they shared and then settled on eating his food in silence. She knew he had noticed but, much to her surprise (though she supposed it was due to how troublesome it would be if he made to move away) didn't move.
On her twenty-first visit, she managed to close the distance between them to a mere half foot in their favorite restaurant, as it had become regularity for the two to share a lunch when she came around. That had also been the first time for him to break the norm and order the same dish she did.
He said it was to know what was so good about that crap.
It was her turn to smirk as she had failed to do so for so long.
On her twenty-fifth visit, though the distance between them remained the same, it was the first time skin touched skin. Both of them had raised one of their hands to reach for the salt, wrist grazing wrist, skin against skin. They remained that way for a split second before she withdrew her hand and said that she didn't like her food too salty anyway.
He didn't say a word. But he didn't put any salt on his food either.
On her twenty-seventh visit, he walked her to the room she occupied in the Hokage building. He waited for her to enter her room, his back against the wall, a leg bent and pressed against it. She paused with her hand on the doorknob, her other hand jingling with the spare key. For the first time, her voice faltered when she asked someone into her room.
He shrugged. She headed inside. He followed.
It was strange to have another man present in her room that wasn't her brother or wasn't sleeping with her. It was stranger to have a man sit in front of the low table that occupied the room with a shogi board spread before them, pieces littering the boxes. The strangest thing of all was when she lost, the first time for her in her entire life.
He didn't gloat. He simply helped her pack away the pieces before he bowed his head and left her.
On her twenty-ninth visit, during their lunch together, he finally closed the distance between them, allowing only an inch to separate their thighs. She blushed crimson all through the meal although he cleverly avoided looking her way and meeting her gaze. When he walked her to her room, he entered, and this time they sat before the table with only a cup of tea in their hands and a tiny plate with cookies on the wooden surface between them. Reaching for the cookies, their hands met, though this time the contact wasn't broken.
On her thirtieth visit, she asked him what he liked to do when he wasn't weighed down by her presence. He led her to a remote place she had never known existed where a single bench stretched along under a wooden, temple-like structure. They sat on the bench, leaned back and stared at the clouds.
He even went so far as to point out there was a cloud shaped like a pineapple.
She punched him.
It didn't hurt.
But she did smirk.
On her thirty-sixth visit, she asked him to dinner. He accepted although he mocked that she didn't know any good places to eat. He was right, but she did go out and stalked his blonde teammate and threatened to cut up the girl's lustrous hair if she didn't give her a good place to take the pineapple haired boy. The blonde teammate simply smirked and informed her that he disliked kelp and gave her directions to some restaurant or other in the village. She even ordered her best friend, the pink haired terror, to show the Sand Nin to the place. Although the pink terror complained all the way, she did smile when she found out it was to take the IQ genius out for dinner.
When he finally came round to take her to dinner, she simply took hold of his wrist and led him around, even though he dragged behind her and claimed that this was clearly harassment.
Though at dinner he didn't mention it at all as they shared one of his favorite dishes.
On her next visit, he asked that she meet him in the alleyway beside the ramen shop the blond brat seemed to stalk at around noon, once her meeting finished. When she did, she found him waiting for her. He handed her a flower, one she distinctly knew, and said that he had heard it was her birthday.
A desert lily.
In gratitude, she leaned forward and pressed her lips against the skin of his cheek. She left him then, her own face too flushed to face any interrogation. He didn't chase after her.
On her thirty-eighth visit, she made sure to stalk him out early the morning she arrived. She even went so far as to threaten to knock the door of his apartment down if he didn't open up. He did, although he was clearly upset.
"What is it?"
"I like you." She crossed her arms over her chest and glared at him as he failed to respond. "And if you dare make fun of me or spread it around, I'll rip out your throat, understand?"
He nodded. He looked incredibly handsome without his shirt and his hair out of its regular stile. "That all?"
She stomped away. She was satisfied. Although she grew disappointed when he failed to come escort her the rest of the day. He even missed their regular meeting of lunch. Even the nightly shogi sessions they had set.
The next time she came by the Leaf Village, she spotted him speaking to the blonde beauty that helped in the local flower shop, his teammate. After a few exchange of words, the two embraced and departed opposite ways. The blonde desert lily simply shrugged the feeling of jealousy that rose in the pit of her stomach away.
Good riddance to him, she reasoned.
That night, in her room, she sat by the table, shogi board and its pieces laid out in perfect order before her. She waited till well into midnight before she fell asleep, alone, game abandoned as her opponent had failed to arrive.
Sometime during the night, a knock filled the air and aroused her from her sleep. She was going to kill the person on the other side of the door, she told herself quietly, as she made her way to it and hauled it open with all her strength just as her other arm reached for the fan that leaned against the wall. She stopped when she caught sight of a familiar face and figure.
"What?" she snarled at him, fingers curling on the doorknob, the hand reaching towards the fan halted in midair.
"Women are troublesome," he began lazily, "but my father warned me about this."
"What?" she snapped, clearly irritated at him beating around the bush.
He rolled his eyes and shrugged. "Something about finding a woman that would change my mind." His hands were digging into his pockets.
This time, she rolled her eyes, raking a hand through her disheveled hair. "That all?"
He shook his head.
"Then what? I have a meeting early in the morning."
He leaned forward, catching her lips in his own, hands still in his pockets. A moment later, he broke the contact and gave her a nod, walking off and disappearing into the darkness that engulfed the hallway outside her room.
On her forty-first visit, she found him waiting by the front gates, something he hadn't done since her fifth visit. She made her way to him, wearing a puzzled look on her face, her forehead crinkling, her nose scrunching up. She demanded to know why her presence was suddenly demanded when she had left not even a week before. He shrugged and said that it was the Hokage's decision, not his, and that if she was going to bitch and moan about it that she should do it the one giving orders, not the one completing them.
He led her through a different maze of streets this time, going further away from the Hokage building than ever before. When she questioned their whereabouts he told her it was a new meeting place for the day as the room they usually used was under construction.
They arrived to a building she hadn't seen before. He led her up stairs and down hallways. He stopped before a room and took out his keys, fitting one into the hole and turning it. He opened the door and stepped inside, nodding for her to follow. She did, teal orbs observing the bigger apartment that he now occupied, with several rooms and more lighting.
"Our meeting is going to be held here?"
"I requested your presence," he explained, sitting in a chair that adorned the room the main door opened to.
He shrugged. "I'm seventeen now."
"Could have fooled me," she snapped back quickly, trying to mask the blush that she was sure was rising to take over her face. "So what do you want to talk to me about?"
"About your feelings for me…"
She paled. "Oh? What of them?"
"Have they changed?"
She shrugged, trying to appear as if they didn't really matter in the bigger scheme of things. She managed to avoid catching his eyes, her own looking down at the floor. She still remained by the door, afraid to remove her sandals to step further into his territory. She wasn't prepared to become that vulnerable before him.
"You don't have to remove your sandals," he said quickly, his eyes watching her carefully.
"I'd rather remain by the door, just incase you try something improper," she retorted, her eyes narrowing.
He snorted. "That would be too troublesome. You'd probably beat me with that freakishly huge fan of yours."
"At least I have a weapon."
He raised an eyebrow. "What is this? A contest to who has the last word?"
"What if it is?" she countered childishly. She was a woman of twenty.
"Your feelings, Temari. Do you still feel the same?"
She shrugged once again, as if doing so would make the question disappear. "What if I do?"
He sighed, the sound reaching her ears and making her wince involuntarily. "You live in Suna and me here in Konoha."
"It would be too troublesome to establish a relationship. Besides, with your looks, I'd have men staring at you and tempting you to change your mind about me."
She growled angrily and left. She requested a break from being the liaison between the two countries and was granted the tiny vacation. For a whole six months, she didn't venture near Konoha or any place that had green trees and forests.
For the first time in her life it was her younger brothers that came to her to demand she tell them what was wrong.
For the first time in a very long time, she lied to them and said everything was perfectly fine. That all the traveling around was making her sick. They didn't believe her but acted as though they did.
Six months later, she was making her way through the Leaf Village, her eyes and feet readjusting to the place. In only a few hours, she had met mostly everyone she had grown acquainted to over the years she had gone back and forth. She was even granted a special audience with the new Hokage, the blond brat she had slowly come to call by his name. Naruto gave her his quirky grin as he filled her in on everything that was happening, even the unnecessary things like the new menu the Ichiraku Ramen had. She smiled and acted as if nothing was wrong, waiting patiently as he finally turned into serious mode and informed her of her up-to-date duties.
He also told her that she was still assigned to the genius, if only because they had been doing so well before.
When she met him that day, he was waiting by the room she had occupied only six months before. She stared at him for a long moment before deciding that ignoring him would be the best course of action. She simply opened her door, stepped inside, and closed it.
Him on the other side.
On her forty-second visit, he asked her to dinner. She accepted only because he had asked late at night and her stomach had growled in protest, demanding some semblance of edible food instead of the crap she carried around in her pack.
At dinner, she sat on the opposite side, three feet now separating them, the distance they had once closed claiming them. When he walked her home, she paused as she stepped into her room before inviting him. He accepted.
The following morning, she watched him from her place on the bed as he looked through the room, trying to find his discarded clothing. The rest of the day she spent wandering her small little apartment, mentally pointing out all the places they had been together.
All together, there were seven.
Even some shogi pieces had become lost.
On her fiftieth visit, they went out somewhere only to run into his blonde teammate. She smirked at the two, asking them what they were doing.
He responded that he was simply taking his girlfriend out to eat. It was what normal people in normal relationships did.
Both blondes were speechless and he took the opportunity to drag his newly acclaimed girlfriend away. That night, they made love for the first time.
On her fifty-ninth visit to Konoha, they did what had once been the norm. They went for lunch. They went to dinner. They went to her one room apartment and played shogi. And as he was about to perform his finishing move, he replaced the piece with a ring and moved it towards her side of the board.
She stared at it for a long moment, pale hands reaching forward to hold it up to the moonlight streaming in through open windows. After staring at it with narrowed eyes, she slipped it onto her ring finger, nodding.
"Checkmate," he whispered before smirking.
It had only taken him fifty-nine moves.
AN: My first Naruto and ShikaTema fan fiction, so please be kind. First time with this kind of style. I know I could've done better, but life's a bitch sometimes.
Comment, critique, concerns accepted, so review till your fingers bleed. Preferably on my fic.