A/N— Nyeh, hi folks. Well, the origin of this thing is me randomly getting inspiration at about six in the AM (Before I went to bed, mind you.) from here: http/ www .youtube. com/ watch?vFE2LAh-e678 The song is also the lullaby mentioned in the story. In case you are a bit on the dense side, this is written from Temari's point of view, and Shikamaru is the guy. Heh, that would make sense seeing as this is a ShikaTem story, ne?

I think I write better when I'm sleep deprived, because the only other decent thing I've come up with this summer was also written in the wee hours of the morning. (And also ShikaTem...) Now, ShikaTem is pretty much my favorite pairing from Naruto, so please be kind and don't insult it. Insult me if you truly need to bash something, but not the pairing. Flames are most definitely welcome—I can use a good laugh now and then. Constructive criticism would be most appreciated; I'm always looking to improve. If you feel the random need to butcher my entire story and point out every little infinitesimal detail that isn't perfect—go right ahead. And have a helluva good time doing it.

Funny how I wrote a story about hating rain, when in actuality I adore the stuff. .:snorts:. Yeah, I'm a bit odd, so sue me. No wait, don't. I just blew my entire allowance shopping for school clothes and I only have fifteen dollars to my name that has to get me through the month.

Insert Standard Disclaimer here as I sullenly wish I was as brilliant as Kishimoto-sama.

And, without any further stalling, let the fic begin! --Judo

Vicissitude

It rarely rained in Suna, but it had been raining the night her family broke; the night her father revealed his plans for her unborn brother to her mother; the night her mother cried and begged him to change his mind; the night he had gotten angry, yelled, and struck her; the night she and Kankurou had huddled close to their weeping mother as she sang them soothing lullabies through her tears; and the night her own personal hell began.

The rain was frightening, eerie; it pounded mercilessly on the roof, penetrating her thoughts with the dull, relentless thudding. It was agonizing and no matter how she tugged the covers around her ears or covered her head with the pillow; the monotonous echoes of the heavy drops beating against the rain-slicked building continued to ring in her ears, filling her mind with discomfort and apprehension. She could see the rivulets of water streaming down her window at an alarming rate, reminding her of the fearful weather in the outside world.

There were, at times, bright flashes of light, followed by the worst part of the accursed storms—the deafening, petrifying, claps of thunder. It was an angry sound—an ugly, nauseating sound. When that rumbling resonance reverberated through the entire building, causing a tremor to go through the very ground beneath her feet, she felt as if she was going to be sick.

She was used to the wind, there was no denying that fact, but for some reason the wet, sloshing sound of the weighty droplets being thrown about in the ruthless gales sounded so… unnatural. It was as if it wasn't supposed to be like that; it carried those miniscule beads of moisture in its tender, yet forceful embrace and threw them violently against whatever surface crossed its path, as if the storm itself wanted to be rid of the bothersome drops. It was not at all like the soothing, almost melodious sound of the sand gently caressing the walls of the buildings as it leisurely drifted along, caught in the demanding pull of the wind.

During those infrequent tumults where harmony and nature fought creating the dreaded combination of water, noise, and air, she was always dragged back to the days of her childhood when she would sit huddled in a corner with her younger brothers, singing the same lullaby her mother had sang to soothe them while at the same time attempting to quell her own oncoming tears. Those were not happy times, nor were they experiences she enjoyed looking back on. Perhaps that was why the night she had been sent on a one-man mission to Konohagakure she had gone to him seeking comfort from the closest thing to a friend she had.

As luck would have it, it rained when she was on her way to the village of the Leaf. Being closer to her own residence, she strongly considered the merits of forgetting all about the mission and high-tailing it back to her nice warm house with her comfortable bed where she could curl up and wait until her heart ceased its furious pounding. But, obviously, that was out of the question, so she trudged on—feeling more and more like breaking down and curling up on the side of the road until either she was discovered by a team of Leaf nin scouting the area or the rain stopped. Thankfully, she did neither; the troublesome droplets ceased falling before she got to the point where she was actually that desperate.

She had made it to Konohagakure without incident, and the skies remained fairly clear for almost the entire duration of her stay… until that night. She had awoken to an alarmingly earsplitting blast of thunder that seemed to resonate through the entire hotel. Shocked and terrified from the sudden noise, in addition to the disgusted feeling that rolled through her body every time she heard the horrid rumbling, she had made a mad dash for the bathroom and lost the portion of last night's dinner that remained in her stomach to the pale structure that stood in the corner. After that incident she had been unable to sleep a wink, so she paced around the empty hotel room for a while, cleaned and polished her war fan, then repeated the aforementioned actions a few times just for good measure. Finally, her resolve crumbling, she hurried out of the lonely building and—using her fan as a shield from the rain—ran to the only place she could think of: his house.

To say he had been surprised to see her standing outside his window would be a severe understatement; dumbfounded was more of a proper description. He had stood there for a good long while, gawking at her with a moronic expression spread across his normally bored features before she had—in that dangerously annoyed tone of hers—told him to stop staring like an idiot and let her inside.

It was obvious that he didn't exactly relish the idea of inviting the raucous Sand kunoichi into his home at such an ungodly hour, but he did so anyways and even went so far as to put on a pot of tea to warm her up after her frenzied dash through the downpour to get there. Once they were both settled—he clad in slightly more than his sleeping attire that consisted of only his boxers, and she drinking a hot cup of tea and wrapped in a fluffy towel—they both sat side-by-side on the couch letting a comfortable silence envelop them.

Of course, said silence was broken when he decided to (quite tactlessly) inquire as to why the hell she had shown up at his house without warning when it was well past midnight and pouring rain outside. Of course, that's when she finally snapped. In a torrent of tears she had confessed everything to him; her difficult childhood, her violent loathing of rain, and why she had come to him seeking comfort. Unable to locate the correct words to reply to such a fervent speech, he had nothing more to do than pull her into his arms and allow her to cry.

Looking back on it now, that was most likely another reason why she detested the rain so strongly—it made her weak. God knows, she hated feeling anything along the lines of weakness. She was always in control; powerful, and able to hold her own against the most formidable of enemies… But this strong, intelligent ninja was brought to her knees by one simple act of nature. Pathetic, if nothing else. She should know better than to let her emotions get the better of her. That was the whole purpose of emotional training! But, try as she might, she could never get over the numbing sensation that flooded her entire being every time those disconcerting drops fell from the sky.

It seemed that fate enjoyed torturing her because it was also raining the day he left the world of the living. They had never really been an "official couple," as the term went, but there was no doubt that they loved each other. She remembered the day like it had been yesterday, when in reality it had been several years ago. It had started out so basic—he had been assigned to escort her back to Sunagakure, he would travel with her to the border, see to it that she met up with the ANBU appointed to oversee their arrival to the village and then return to Konohagakure. Funny how something so painfully simplistic can turn into your worst nightmare.

They had been ambushed by a band of Sound ninja; the battle had been bloody and ruthless. Things had gone well at first, and it seemed like they were going to make it out of the fight relatively unscathed when the entire situation became dire. Forced into a corner, her love was forced to make a decision; and not just any decision, oh no, it was one of those life-changing decisions that takes a person forever inside their head to decide what to do, but by the time they come to a final verdict they've already acted impulsively and made either the best fluke in history or the biggest mistake of their life. She had been thrown against a tree, her war fan out of reach, a Sound nin poised to deliver the final blow, when that damned man had jumped in front of the assailant, taking the full impact of the blow meant for her and giving one of his own. Both attacks were fatal. Both of them fell. For the first time in her life, she was truly alone.

She recalled falling to her knees in the soft, moist earth, taking his dead body in her arms and watching him with a stricken hope that it would all be a dream and he would open his eyes. No, it was not one of those wonderfully clichéd situations where one person is dying in the arms of their partner and they whisper sweet-nothings and claims of love along with a final wish for them to live on a happy life without them. Fate was not kind enough to allow her that one last reprieve. He had died shortly after receiving the hit; he would never know if he succeeded in killing his enemy or even if his brief moment of valiance had made any difference in whether the woman he was attempting to save lived or died.

She was quite thoroughly soaked. She supposed that the only good thing about the steady drizzle was as the heartbroken tears slithered down her flushed cheeks the droplets did much the same, making it near impossible to tell she was crying. Mere shock prevented anything more than silent sobs accompanied by delicate sniffles at the moment. So, the near-crushing gravity of the situation not yet dawning on her, the blonde kunoichi slung the fallen Leaf shinobi in a rather awkward position on her back and continued making her way to Suna.

It wasn't until she had made it back to the arid desert land that she called her home and sat down in her brother's office shivering and clutching a cup of hot tea with a towel draped somewhat clumsily over her back that she permitted herself to break down. The cup fell, allowing the warm beverage inside to spill all over the rug as she collapsed onto the floor of the Kazekage's office sobbing.

It had finally struck her, that bitter truth her mind had so desperately tried to avoid: he was gone. He was really, truly gone. It wasn't the same as placing a tender kiss upon his lips as they reached the gates of the city and then watching (rather dejectedly) as he strolled lazily down the road back to Fire Country, hands stuffed in his pockets, slouched over as if he had just gotten out of bed. No, this was far, far different. Because she knew—unlike those times he left to go back to Konoha—that this time he wasn't coming back. She was always sure that she would see him again before, but this… this was the ultimate separation. Death, the one thing that all mortals are doomed to endure.

She had remained like that for some time; crumpled up against the coarse rug as salty drops of agony and loneliness made trails of moisture down her skin. She shook almost violently as heartfelt sobs racked her entire form, low, mournful howls escaping the confines of her throat. So many years of sadness, so much suffering… she just wanted it all to stop. Wondering in the back of her mind if she was destined to be miserable for all of eternity, she allowed Kankurou to lift her up, cradling her gently in his arms as if it was not her who was the eldest, but him.

She frowned, was she to be showed up by her younger brother in her time of weakness? Was she really so pitiful that she needed the child she had cared for since she was a little thing herself to carry her as if she was still a six-year-old, unable to summon the strength to stumble back to her room and change into her nightclothes, forcing her uncle to do so for her? Struggling in his arms she grumbled, her voice rough from the crying, for him to put her down; that she could walk by herself. Muttering something about her being stubborn and independent until the end, he complied, gradually lowering his sister to her feet. Staggering a bit, she managed to catch her balance and make her way back home, followed by both of her younger brothers.

As expected, the youngest offered her nothing more than a glance that could be considered sympathetic and a droning "I'm sorry," before retreating to his room. She didn't really mind, coming from Gaara that was a lot. He never really learned how to comfort someone despite her efforts to show him affection when he was younger.

That night, while she laid in bed shivering over the dull pitter-patter of rain on the rooftop, a slow smile formed on her pale lips. Sure, life hadn't been the best it could be, but those blissful moments she had shared with those dear to her—emotional times spent with her mother when she was still alive, the rare, highly appreciated times her father would slip out of Kazekage mode and actually become a father, the sweet moments she shared with her siblings every once in a while, and, of course, the days she had spent with him, tender instants when he had ceased his normally argumentative behavior and became the caring lover only she knew him as… In the end, she figured, it was all worth it, just for those brief breaks in the sadness that gave her a reason to be alive.

Now, a woman of sixty-four, standing at the grave of her deceased beloved, it rains again. She thinks with a bittersweet air that if it wasn't for that one night when she had visited his home, nothing would have happened between them. It was indeed a fact that that incident had been the ice-breaker in their rather awkward relationship. A sigh escapes her lips, she still doesn't like it, but perhaps the rain isn't so bad after all.

---End---

.:snorts:. Joy. I've read this accursed thing so many times that it doesn't even stir up a flicker of emotion in me… Great, now I feel like Gaara or something. Impassive, uncaring—at least I don't go off and slaughter people for fun, ne?

So, like it? Vaguely tolerate it? Does it make you want to go on a homicidal rampage of doom slaughtering everyone in your path? Do you now have a phobia of rain? … Why am I asking questions?

Heh, either way, I hope you took more pleasure reading this than I did writing it, editing it, re-editing it, sending it to like, ten people for more editing, agonizing over whether I should post it or not, and all that other nonsense that comes with producing a new work… And did I mention how incredibly hard it was to find a title for this thing? That bad boy was a royal bitch to think of. It involved several moments of bashing my head against the keyboard and huddling in the corner singing a little ditty about bringing home baby bumblebees and whatnot… There's no doubt about it; writing has stolen my soul… It would really suck if I never got to a professional level after donating so much of my time to it, wouldn't it? .:shakes head:. Anyways... Ja ne minna, thanks for reading. --Judo

vi‧cis‧si‧tudevi- sis-i-tood, -tyood –noun

1. a change or variation occurring in the course of something.

2. interchange or alternation, as of states or things.

3. vicissitudes, successive, alternating, or changing phases or conditions, as of life or fortune; ups and downs: They remained friends through the vicissitudes of 40 years.

4. regular change or succession of one state or thing to another.

5. change; mutation; mutability.