A/N: So I was trying to work on my KakaSaku oneshot (hello writers' block) when I suddenly got bitten by a plot bunny for this..I had not been planning on continuing this story, but I just couldn't help myself. I had gotten some requests to write more of The Game, so I hope you lovely readers like it. Just be warned, fluffyness abounds in this chapter.
And as always, please review!! 3
Set at some point later on…
The wind ruffles delicately through the trees, leaves just starting to show a change in color. It is dark and shadows are everywhere, so naturally, Shikamaru feels right at home. He glances across the small fire at Temari, who's trying to straighten out her kimono and obi into some semblance of presentable. She winces a little as the fabric rubs against the fresh scrapes on her back, and he feels a twinge of remorse for taking her up against the tree like he did. But her tongue had been doing all kinds of naughty things to him, and he had just wanted to feel her heat one last time before she went back to Suna…
Shikamaru shakes his head a little and starts to pull his hair back into its customary ponytail.
"I wish you'd leave it down more," Temari blurts out, then she bites her lip for saying something so stupid. Things like that were too close to sounding sentimental, affectionate, and these were feelings that she did not like to voice. But she couldn't help liking his hair down, especially when he was on top of her and it formed a curtain around their faces, blocking out the rest of the world.
He smiles at her, a real smile, not his patented smirk, and doesn't tie his hair back. She lets out a small 'hmph' and decides to change the subject.
"I still don't get why you insisted on coming to the border with me tonight."
He doesn't answer at first, but moves to sit beside her against an old log, gently running a finger along the inside of her wrist.
"Because I…" …love you would be the logical end to that sentence. Or even I care about you or I miss you, but those are words that go unsaid between the two of them.
"…have nothing better to do." It's a damn lie and Temari knows it. He's only gotten busier over the years, as has she, and it's been harder and harder to find time to spend together. The games they used to play all the time, cat and mouse, check and checkmate, have devolved into something more sedate, in a way.
At first, she used him as much as he used her, leaving them both with mouth shaped bruises and pulled muscles. But lately, Temari has found she likes stupid things just as much, like holding his hand, or nestling into the crook of his chest on those rare lazy mornings. Making him breakfast, even.
Shikamaru turns to face her more squarely, still holding onto her wrist. Her pulse feels like it's burning against his thumb. He looks away, then back at her, trying to get the words out.
"Aren't you starting to get tired of this? All this extra running around, trying to take missions where we can find some time together? It's so…troublesome."
Temari's breath catches in her throat like broken glass. What is he saying? Is he finally tired of all this extra work they have to go through just to have a couple stolen hours here and there? Is he tired of her? After all this time, is this what it comes down to? She looks into his serious eyes, knowing he's probably picking apart her thought processes by the millisecond. Which is why he so easily blocks the slap she aims at his face.
She tries to scoot away from him on her knees, scrabbling for her fan, for anything, she wants to hurt him, but he's still holding onto her.
"You asshole!" she spits out. "Why didn't you say something before, I didn't have to come this time! And you don't bring this up until we're way out here, what, were you afraid I was going to make a scene?"
She wrestles out of his grip finally, as her eyes start to well up with tears she's too proud to shed. Shikamaru, after staring at her dumbly for a moment, does something very unexpected.
He starts laughing.
Furiously wiping at her eyes, Temari swats at him again, connecting just above his temple. Rubbing his head, he sits back on his heels, frowning.
"Damn it, woman, would you just let me finish? You're making this a lot harder than it has to be."
She crosses her arms and glares at Shikamaru. He meets her gaze, not afraid of her temper. Then he shuffles closer, till he can feel her breath puffing against his neck. He takes one of her hands in his.
"Why don't we get married?" he whispers, and Temari feels something small pressed into the palm of her hand. She holds it up to the firelight to see a ring, with a stone the same blue-green color of her eyes. She closes her eyes and smiles, finally seeing his plan. The first move is always a feint; the second move wins the match.
All this time she had thought the game was over, when Shikamaru had just decided to play it on a grander scale.
"Well?" She realizes he's still waiting for an answer, and can't think of anything better to do than kiss him. Things like yes or I love you would be the logical responses, but words like that go unsaid between the two of them.