Disclaimer: Why must I be tormented with this question...? (grumbles unhappily) No, I'm not Kishimoto, and therefor do not own these characters...
Quick Summary: A battle has begun and its length begins to gnaw on Temari's last nerves. Why can't she flush out her opponent? And why does she have the curious feeling that he may want more from this match than a simple victory...? (This story takes place two years after Naruto returns with the Ero-Sennin, making Temari 20 years old and her opponent 17.)
Three violet stars flared once more across the darkness of a star-spattered sky. The wind howled as it was woven into a violent spiral of beauty and destruction. The extent of the latter revealed moments later by the echoing thunder of splintering wood and crumbling earth.
Sabaku no Temari fell from the sky to land in a fluid crouch upon the small scape of devastation. The heavy tessen gripped in her hand snapped shut with a metallic crack upon impact with the ground. Sage irises swept the dark scene of ruin for movement with skilled precision, searching for any indication of life. With all possible cover erased from the battle field, further possibilities of cowering were eliminated. He would have no where to hide now.
As silence began to settle over the night once more, the kunoichi wondered about her opponent and his natural talent for frustrating her. He had managed to evade her fierce cyclones time after time, remaining hidden and undetectable. Flushing him out had been all but impossible. It was a waiting game for him. Any keen analyst would have discovered his objective by now, and Temari was more adept than most. Her adversary was biding his sweet time, waiting with the patience of a predator for the perfect opening.
One she wouldn't give him. Refused to give him.
The match was no longer a friendly spar among allied shinobi. Somewhere along the line, something had changed. Temari struggled to comprehend the difference, to understand why the battle seemed to have grown so significant, but the answer evaded her. He knew, though. Somehow her enemy knew. Temari had the sinking feeling that more was riding on the outcome of this match than she had originally believed. She couldn't afford to loose.
Desperately, the Suna jounin tightened the fierce grip on her weapon and attempted to regain control of her breathing; which, until this point, she hadn't realized had grown so ragged. The continual effort to expose her quarry had taken a bigger toll than was intended. But he was still out there, waiting. His chakra wouldn't be depleted like hers. She wanted to rest. Needed to. But she couldn't afford to be a sitting duck while he prowled closer.
In one graceful motion she rose to stand, hefting the sable tessen into an offensive-ready grip. Her steps were steady and sure in the darkness, confident but always wary. With caution, Temari picked her way across the devastation she had created, walking atop the debris and fallen trees that scattered the combat zone.
"Cheh." Her rich voice carried arrogantly through the night air as she continued to scan the area. How was he still managing to elude her? "I didn't know gutless and weak had become admirable traits in Konoha shinobi!!" The harsh taunt didn't receive a response and the heavy silence of night fell again on the field. If only he'd rise to the bait, I could trick him into betraying his location--
Temari smothered another curse and jumped backwards as power surged beneath her feet. A volley of earth and wood exploded into the air as a massive creature erupted out of the ground, its fangs snapping shut around the air so recently occupied by her torso. Under the ground?!
The white canine landed, the wood below crumbling under its weight, but the animal did not pause. With one bound, it swallowed distance and forced Temari even further back as she again avoided lethal fangs. Emitting a metallic click, the kunoichi's tessen unfurled. In the same fluid motion, leaping back in another retreating jump, she brought the massive weapon up in a sweeping arc.
"Kamaitachi no Jutsu!!" Wind whistled in command. Embedded chakra twisted the air, driving it into a dance of invisible blades. A smirk curved the corner of the kunoichi's lips as her creation smashed into the canine with stunning force. One doggy down. One to go...
Temari's viridian gaze widened in disbelief as the animal caged in her jutsu detonated into a plume of smoke. "A shadow clone...?!" The jounin's feet collided with the earth again, her head whipping from side to side as realization dawned. It had been a ploy. A distraction to throw her off track. Or...!!
"GATSUUGA!!" The shouts tore across the night sky, two voices roaring the single word from opposite directions. She'd been led into a trap.
An explosion erupted as her tessen swept through the air and a powerful windstorm slammed into one of the dark drills, smashing it off course. But they had cornered her. There was no time to defend against the second drill as it tore across the sky toward her. But, as she imagined the blinding pain of a collision, Temari refused to simply wait for the impact. Her sandals shoved roughly at the ground as she tried to dodge out of the line of fire. But even as her body twisted, the Jounin knew it was futile and steeled herself for a wave of physical agony.
Gritting her teeth, she waited.
But nothing came.
Confusion coursed through her veins as Temari slowly opened eyes she had not intended to close. She was alone.
And unable to rationalize the faint sense of longing that rose in her gut.
But she didn't have to. It vanished along with the sudden displacement of air behind her back. Temari uttered a curse and lunged forward just as she sensed his presence. But he had caught her off guard again. And again her escape would not be quick enough. But the strong arms that caught hold of her body and put an end to her bolt were not the means of restraint the jounin had expected. One slipped around her waist in a secure grip; a powerful bicep and strong fingers easily holding her arms immobile at her sides. The other slid easily, almost leisurely, across her chest to firmly grasp her opposite shoulder.
Temari tensed as shock and indignation ignited her blood.
The painful blow of a clenched fist might have been anticipated. The fire of a kunai's blade piercing her skin would have been bearable. But this; being manhandled like a sack of potatoes, however gently, was something Temari had not predicted.
And she didn't enjoy the feeling of having her fate lie in another's hands. And damn the fact that it had to be so literal!!
Even if Sunagakure was allied with Konoha, the thought that this could have been a real battle irritated her. Unnerved her.
Had he been a real enemy...
Inuzuka Kiba might have been able to kill her.
He was a specialist in close range combat.
It had been difficult to breach her defenses and get close enough to nullify her attacks. But he had always been patient where she was concerned, and the plan had finally succeeded. What he had witnessed through his game of waiting, however, only made him more determined to force the end result.
She had been unable to detect him, find him, flush him out. It was infuriating to know that not even in battle was she able to feel his presence. While he...he could track her movements as though he were born for that simple purpose; maybe he had been. The steady beating of her heart captivated his sense of hearing. The alluring scents of frustration and confidence and determination caressed his sense of smell. The faint shimmer of golden hair and flicker of vibrant marine irises captured his sense of sight.
Sabaku no Temari had never given him a second thought.
Yet she had somehow managed to control his world.
But no longer. Here and now, Inuzuka Kiba would see to it that she acknowledged him. He would make sure that after tonight Temari would never again face difficulty in knowing when he was near. He would force her to become as aware of him as he was of her. This Sunagakure kunoichi; a sister of the Kazekage; a girl who unknowingly held the power to shatter his life with a single word...
Kiba felt his throat thicken, his breathing cease. Instinctively he drew her body closer against his, growling low in his throat as he shut his mind off to everything but the task at hand.
It was frustrating how she could make him feel like that.
When she hardly even knew he existed.
She didn't relent. Glowering spitefully at the tanned arms that penned her, Temari swore that until a kunai was held up to the vulnerable skin of her throat, she wouldn't give up this match. And no sooner had she completed her vow did she loose the ability to form coherent thought altogether, if only momentarily. Without warning, Kiba's grip tightened with what she most definitely must have mistaken as something akin to possessiveness. He pulled her body tight against the length of his, holding her captive.
She bit back the noise that built in her throat, unsure whether it was a gasp or a curse. But the Konoha jounin apparently had no such control. His warm breath feathered across the nape of her neck as a growl rumbled deep in his throat. Temari tensed, building energy for an escape from his hold that she was beginning to believe was long overdue. She had to break free of his grip. As his muscles tensed, tightened, her chances of release grew slimmer.
It was now or never.
Gritting her teeth, Temari twisted and lunged out of his grasp.
Kiba hadn't expected the fiery explosion of energy. Hadn't thought she'd have it in her after the chakra loss she had suffered over the past hours. Her stubbornness, which he'd found ran in all of the Sabaku siblings, never failed it seemed.
With another growl, Kiba dashed forward. His speed surpassed hers and an instant later both of them were tumbling to the ground. He twisted so that he took the brunt of the impact with his own shoulder, saving her from a scattering of bruises. Within a breath, though, he rolled her back beneath him and pinned her body with his. For a sweet moment she simply didn't struggle, shocked from the speed of his reaction and exhaustion beginning to pay its toll on her body.
She was breathing hard, furious at both him and herself, while dark eyes bore holes into his.
Looking down at her, the moon radiating its hazy light from above, Kiba couldn't resist any longer. She looked too damn beautiful when she was pissed.
How the hell had he caught her so quickly? As he straddled her waist and pinned her arms with his own, Temari cursed him for his combat skills in close range fighting. His speed and physical strength outmatched hers.
If only she could get in one good bash with her tessen, she stood a chance of disabling him completely.
In the midst of her boiling fury, however, Temari took note that her heavy weapon lay a few yards away among the debris of fallen branches. Damn.
Taijutsu wasn't her specialty. In fact, it was one of her strongest weaknesses. But if wrestling for freedom was the only way she would be able to obtain it, then she had no choice. Staring up hatefully at the boy who had put her in this situation the Suna Jounin lay still and gathered her breath, certain that anger and physical exertion was the cause for her loss of it. She took a mental check of her remaining equipment: two kunai, three shuriken, and one exploding tag. It wasn't much, but it would have to do.
Temari tensed, ready to throw his weight off of her and finish this match.
And then Kiba's mouth came crushing down on hers.
He let the fingers of one hand trail up the inside of her arm, the other releasing its grip of her wrist completely to take up position beside her head.
This was the only chance he would get, and he intended to make it count.
So when he caught her lips with his own, Kiba poured into it every ounce of emotion that rattled his soul. Anger. Frustration. Passion. Pride. Respect. Love.
Actions spoke louder than words, he'd been told.
And he'd never been good with words anyways...
She melted inside.
The shock subsided, overrun by an onrush of foreign emotion and pain. She couldn't explain why her thoughts muddled; why thinking felt like a senseless thing to do at a time like this when it was certainly the most logical thing to do.
Drowning in feelings that weren't her own, it didn't even register that her hands were no longer held captive.
How long had he felt this way?
A shiver raced up her arm where his fingers glided across her skin.
Why hadn't she realized it?
She moved her lips against his, returning the kiss. Wanting more.
He'd been in front of her this entire time.
And she hadn't even known.
Temari, her own hand now moving on its own accord to graze up Kiba's spine and spear into his chestnut hair, couldn't help but feel regret.
She didn't push him away as he expected. Didn't struggle or fight the caress of his lips, the stroke of his hand. Her body melded to his like liquid, and her mouth responded to his rough kiss in ways he could have never hoped for.
Kiba found that in that moment, he couldn't have been more content with his life.
He was unsure how much time had passed --perhaps seconds, maybe minutes-- before she broke away from him. Cherishing that last moment, he slowly let his feral eyes flicker open. Steeling himself for anything, he awaited rejection.
But it never came.
Instead, Temari was gazing up at him with a rather lovely expression of curiosity.
"Where's your better half...?" The question was somewhat breathless, and Kiba chuckled.
His better half, huh?
"I sent Akamaru to inform our teams that the match is over and we'll be returning soon."
"But it isn't over." That stubbornness was back, and he could feel the muscles beneath him tensing again. Deciding he would have to remedy this quickly, Kiba leaned down and pinned her head with his arms. A mischievous smile curved his lips, flashing a single fang.
"I know. That's why I told him to take his time." Her lips tilted into that damnable smirk of hers and she relaxed once more.
Temari didn't want to rationalize her actions, her feelings.
At least, not now.
"I've always loved dogs." She murmured.
"Good." Came the blissful response.
Maybe, Temari thought, she could afford to loose just this one match.
A/N: I would like to put forth an Official apology in regards to this story. It was a piece requested back in the middle of March, a simple One-Shot that should have taken merely a few weeks to finish and post up. But, as I'm sure is obvious at this point, I was completely unreliable in my set dates. After a few interruptions of school and the upcoming summer, I sort of just lost my inspiration to continue what I had started. Then, when I did put my attention back to it, I decided I didn't quite like the story I had begun and nearly finished...so I deleted it to begin anew. And, even so, I'm still not quite happy with the outcome of this one. So, any and all reviews would be more than welcome, as I would like to know what others really think of this short story.