Takes place around the beginning of the Shippuuden storyline, but no real spoilers.

And I'm sure this has been done before but I thought I'd add my version to the mix. XD

Advantageous Surrender

She had expected it from Naruto. Honestly, the kid had the social graces of a desert sand crawler.

She had expected it from Ino. After spending a significant amount of time around Shikamaru's noisy teammate, a certain level of prying was not unanticipated.

But then it had been Kiba. And the ramen-shop owner's daughter. And even Tsunade-sama for goodness sake. When Hinata and Sakura had both inquired within 10 minutes of one another she knew something had to be done.


- - - - - - - - -

Temari and the lazy leaf ninja walked along one of the more secluded roads in town; Shikamaru as always, preferring solitude to the commotion of the main street. It was not yet noon and thus the typical flurry of activity surrounding the mid-day meal had yet to begin. A warm spring breeze wound its way around her ankles and then moved on to stir up a pile of fallen blossoms.

The earlier comments fresh in her mind, Temari noticed they were probably walking just a little too close for "colleagues." She made a conscious decision to position herself with slightly more distance between their bodies. Determining that some measure of subtlety was required, she made an effort to remain casual. She didn't want him to start thinking he smelled funny or anything.

Next to her, Shikamaru was quite amused by her antics. He couldn't figure out what she was attempting to do, but he could tell she was entirely absorbed by it. Diverting his attention to her feet, he mulled over her strange behavior. Since when did a ninja need to pay this much attention to the simple act of walking?

A discreet sigh escaped his lips. How was it women always managed to turn every situation into such a hassle? He clasped his hands behind his head, glancing towards the cerulean sky in a feeble attempt at nonchalance.

Eyes still skyward he inquired shortly, "Everything okay over there?"

Her head whipped up guiltily, eyes glittering dangerously. "Any reason I wouldn't be?"

He rolled his eyes, wishing he had simply kept his mouth shut. Too late now. He wracked his brain for the least volatile wording, "Er, you seem a bit… distracted." He risked a brief glance in her direction, knowing he ought to be prepared should her temper flare. His shoulders relaxed when he failed to discern any additional tension in her posture. In fact, it almost seemed she was… embarrassed, judging from the pink hue dusting her cheeks.

Unpredictable women.

She cursed under her breath. So much for subtlety – dropping her shoulders in defeat, she figured she might as well spill. "Hai, Shikamaru. It's just that I've gotten the third degree from half the village in the last couple days."

A thin, dark eyebrow lifted in surprise, unsure of her precise meaning. As far as he knew, the village had gotten past the incident involving her home country; the Sand was once again considered an ally. And they were used to her "unique" siblings for the most part.

It was apparent from his furrowed brow that he had no clue what she was referring to. Why were men notoriously dense about such things? Even men as intelligent as Shikamaru. She stopped and turned to face him, folding her arms across her chest. "I've lost count of the times I've been questioned about our…" she paused, "…our status." She gave him a moment to allow her meaning to sink in.

"Che, that's just Naruto, he's a baka." Again proving his limited knowledge of the female mind, he considered the conversation over. With hands buried deep into the pockets of his pants he continued walking.

She rolled her eyes and followed after him, but refused to jog the few steps to catch up, preferring to torture him at a distance. "Right, at first it was just Naruto, but then it was Ino-" she rushed on loudly before he could interrupt, "then Tsunade and Kiba, plus both Sakura and Hinata attacked me with questions just this morning."

He came to a dead stop. Her mouth twitched, desperately fighting the urge to smirk as she considered his shocked form. At least something had finally gotten through.

Slow steps brought her back to his side and she could no longer hide her grin when she noticed the distinct rosy hue blotting his face. Hands on hips she faced him mock-seriously, "Why are you blushing, cry-baby? Wishing that there were some truth to the rumors?"

He rolled his eyes and did his best to will the color from his face. It wasn't that he hadn't considered it; she was quite attractive – especially on the days she wore the pale blue kimono – days like today. Mentally he shook himself, thoughts like that would only lead to… complications.

Amusement danced in the wind-nin's eyes as she watched him struggle inwardly with her teasing question. Although he was only two years younger, she knew he had been too busy on missions and too lazy when not to put any effort into romantic pursuits. She couldn't help but give him a hard time, especially considering how easy it was to make him blush with the mere mention of certain subjects. Secretly she was pleased that he didn't seem put-off by her taunt as she grudgingly recalled how frequently she had admired his strong shoulders beneath his vest… and how nice the back of his pants looked with his hands shoved in the pockets – she forced herself to abandon that line of thinking, before the two of them ended up staring red-faced at each other.

The look in his eyes spoke volumes more than he ever did and she decided to give the poor guy a break.

She smiled softly, willing to let the subject drop… at least for now. "Hey, you're right; what do they know anyways, ne?" With that she set off towards the training grounds, adjusting the fan strapped across her back for comfort. Halfway down the hill she turned her head around to see Shikamaru still rooted to the spot, a faint blush haunting his cheeks. She grinned impishly at him, unable to help herself, "C'mon, we're gonna be late and then everyone really will start to wonder."

In the time it took Temari to wink and process an intention to turn her head back around a new thought had replaced it: she was stuck.

Shadow Possession.

Inwardly she grumbled. Why would he be upset – it wasn't her fault the entire village was drawing unfounded assumptions about them. It wasn't as though she went around spreading rumors about herself.

She wasn't Ino after all.

With the few muscles remaining in her control she blinked at him twice and raised an eyebrow questioningly.

Deliberate steps brought him inside her personal space, so close she could feel a slight heat emanating where their bodies nearly touched. Dark eyes glinted and she knew he had already planned a thorough strategy. She realized she should have known better than to taunt him too far. She swallowed as he brought his eyes down to meet hers and he then quickly glanced away with an air of nonchalance. He voice was lower than usual when he spoke, "Well… it would be troublesome to have to correct everyone's misconceptions."

Her eyes went wide at his implications, not sure where this "game" she had started had led. But if he thought she was backing down now he was sorely mistaken. She raised her chin in defiance, ready to snap back in reply. Unknown to her his strategy had taken her stubbornness into account and he was fully prepared. With the stealth that comes only from years of training, he swiftly captured her chin in his thumb and forefinger and lifted her lips to meet his.

Before she realized it, a delighted "mmmm" escaped her throat as she met his kiss, angling her head slightly opposite of his. Belatedly she noticed that the jutsu had already been released, as her hand had not mimicked his when he lifted her chin - it was her own desires keeping her firmly in place.

He sighed contentedly, enjoying not only the feel of her smooth, warm lips pressed against his, but also the glorious silence this particular activity provided. Not usually an excessively talkative woman, he had easily deduced how much the town's interrogation had ruffled her by the sheer volume of words she had used in the last ten minutes.

His mind jolted back to the task at hand, realizing no straight man would be worried about anything else with a gorgeous woman plastered against him. Confidence increasing by the minute, his hands drifted to the small of her back pressing all her lovely curves in even more intimate contact with his chest.

Temari felt her breasts compressed against his muscular torso, the sensation sending a warm heat coursing through her belly and then spreading lower. She moaned against his mouth, marveling at what she was certain was his first kiss. Apparently ninja arts weren't the only thing he was a quick learner at. This certainly surpassed any of her previous kisses – a couple of awful slobbery messes from "suitors" more than twice her age and only interested in her for her political connections. A brief yet thorough description of what she would do to them if they did not immediately desist had sent each one fairly sprinting from the room.

But this… this was intense and enjoyable; never had she imagined it would be so overwhelming. Her lips parted in a not-so-subtle hint to which he immediately responded. His tongue slipped between her soft lips and caressed her tongue in return, the feisty wind nin making no struggle as her arms loped gracefully over his shoulders.

He broke the kiss and Temari immediately suffered an intense feeling of loss without his mouth joined to hers. But before she even had time to comment on his actions, he swiftly brought his lips down to press against the silky skin just below her ear. She clung to his neck, her legs feeling as though they might betray her at any moment, whimpering softly as he nipped her sensitive skin. Her fingers dug into his shoulders, unable to even support herself. He easily held her up, pausing briefly for her to catch her breath.

Stubborn to the last, she managed to flash him a cheesy grin, "Took you long enough."

Resisting the urge to smirk he merely raised his eyes skyward and rubbed the back of his neck absently.

Arms crossed over her chest she glanced up at him through her lashes, "Of course, if it's too 'troublesome' for you…" she trailed off.

"You are troublesome," he clarified, as his arms went back around her slender frame and his thumbs traced gentle circles over her slender back. His gaze met hers directly, finally succeeding in making her cheeks flush pink in return. "But I suppose you're worth it."

- - - - - - - - -

And when neither Shikamaru nor Temari made it to the training grounds that afternoon, no one really wondered why.