I'm not dead. XD Sorry for the late story and not updating any stories! School takes a lot out of you and I haven't been inspired recently. Anyways this is the last part of the Hinata Matchmaker series and the ShikaTema request for 10Join-Fei.
The title is translated from 'Sobi ni iru kara', the 11th ending theme of the anime Naruto by AMADORI. Thank you!
"Where are you taking me exactly?" The sandy-blonde jounin asked her Konoha companion.
"You'll see," Shikamaru said from in front of her, his hands in his pockets as usual. A picture of ease.
"I'm here for the chuunin exams," Temari reminded him brusquely and she saw his spiky hair bounce up and down as he nodded.
The kunoichi gave a resigned huff and folded her arms as he moved at a surprisingly quick pace through the streets of the Hidden Leaf Village.
"Eh?" Temari blinked as the pale-eyed Hyuuga girl brushed by her.
"What is it?" Shikamaru asked.
"Ah, that girl. Hyuuga Hinata." She said wonderingly.
"What about her?" He inquired, turning his head back to glance at Temari, then Hinata.
"She seems different somehow. She was humming to herself, and it looked like she was taller..." Temari stopped abruptly, realizing how weird she sounded.
But Shikamaru was flashing her one of his rare smiles. "Yeah, well, she's been like that since Naruto returned. I forgot, you haven't been here in a while."
His expression changed a little and Temari turned her head sideways. "Shikamar–?"
He spun on his heel and started off at even a faster pace. "We're going to be late, let's go."
"Late for what?" She growled, throwing her arms up in anger.
Shikamaru didn't respond but smirked involuntarily. Troublesome.
"This is it," he said, more to the homey-looking house in front of him, than the still-pissed off Suna ninja by his side. Then he started up the walkway.
"Why are we here? Where is here?" she asked in frustration.
"Can you just be quiet? You're giving me a headache." He complained as he knocked on the door softly.
The door creaked open, followed by a sigh of relief and the screaming of a baby. "Oh, Shikamaru. Thank goodness you're here! I can't get him to stop crying."
Temari blinked in wonder as the Nara half-stepped into the house, grabbed the baby, and had ceased the crying by the time he entered the doorway. "There we go." He said softly, a small smile on his face as his brown eyes looked down at the child, whose own large brown eyes gazed up at him.
The dark-haired woman with ruby eyes smiled and kissed her son lightly on the cheek. "Bye, Uma. Bye, Shikamaru. Thank you so much. You don't know how much this means to me." She patted him lightly on the shoulder with a fond, yet sympathetic look in her eyes.
"I made a promise," he said nonchalantly and glanced up at Temari (who was beginning to feel quite lost and out of place), whom he seemed to finally remember was there. "Hey, Troublesome Woman, could you get the bottle on the counter for me?"
Kurenai waved, her parting words as she closed the door on the two teenagers being: "He hasn't had a nap today, so he should fall asleep soon."
Temari blinked her green eyes at him. "Um..bottle...counter?"
He sat down with the drowsy-looking Uma in a chair and gestured with his head towards the kitchen. "Through there and to your left." He pointed patiently.
She nodded and retrieved the baby's formula. "I...uh..I checked it. It's not too hot." She told him as she handed it to him, blushing sheepishly.
He smiled. "How did you know how to do that?"
"I've babysat before, lazy ass!" She snarled at him, though somehow being able to keep her decibel level down.
She watched with unhidden curiosity as he fed the small being in his arms. She looked at his face and felt her heart lurch. There was such love and caring in his expression. It made her chest hurt.
"Uma's not his whole name," Shikamaru said suddenly and Temari noticed his eyes didn't leave the boy's.
She sat down opposite him, deciding this errand wasn't so bad after all.
"Kurenai named him Sarutobi Asuma, after his father, my sensei." He stopped for a minute, his dark eyebrow knit together. He removed the bottle and the baby burped.
"How did you do that?" she asked automatically, green eyes wide.
Temari blushed as he gave a laugh, but she'd say it again if it made him smile and close his eyes like that.
Uma continued to gulp down the formula and Shikamaru continued. "After Asuma died, I promised Kurenai that I would protect her unborn child with my life. I owed that much to Asuma and to myself." He paused again and Temari silently egged him on with her penetrating gaze. "I come here every other day around this time so that Kurenai can catch up with important news with the other jonin and the Hokage and such."
"But I think it's more than that." Temari said and the lazy ninja looked up in surprise. "I mean, when I saw you looking at him that way as you fed him, it's obvious you love him with all of your heart." Her expression was soft and her face was a slight pink as she spoke.
Shikamaru's own heart beat irregularly for a moment and he nearly dropped the near-empty bottle. "M–Maybe I see Asuma in him." He replied, frowning as Temari shook her head, plucking the bottle from his hands.
"Maybe you see yourself?" She asked lightly and he stared after her, as she made her way back to the kitchen.
"Troublesome woman," he muttered to Uma, who had fallen asleep some time ago.
"Can I hold him?"
The Konoha chuunin gaped. "Huh?"
"I want to hold him. Please?" Temari asked and he blinked, his mouth hanging open wider.
"What's the matter?" She asked, her face flushed, blond eyebrows drawn together.
He didn't know how to answer. He wasn't sure if he was more surprised that she asked to hold Uma, or the way she asked.
"He's asleep," he said flatly and blushed when the pretty Suna kunoichi rolled her eyes.
"I know that. That means he's not crying."
"Fine. Here. Just hold his head and–."
"Shikamaru." She held his eyes with hers steadily. "I know. I promise I'll be careful."
He lost himself in her blue-green stare for a moment, before placing Uma into her outstretched arms.
Temari smiled as soon as the baby made contact with her. "He's so warm." She murmured, barely resisting the urge to kiss the top of his head.
Shikamaru smirked at the innocent statement and observed as she sat in the rocking chair, and began to hum. This was a completely different Temari of the Sand than the one he knew.
"You're going to be a good mother someday," he said and acted on sudden impulse, bending forward and kissing her on her forehead.
Her humming stopped, as well as the movement of her chair and she blushed furiously.
The Nara (who couldn't quite believe what he had just done to the Troublesome Woman) braced himself for an outrageous slur of curse-filled sentences, hoping she would have enough sense to keep her voice down so as to not awaken Uma.
"Yeah? You'll made a great father." She said and when he opened his eyes she was rocking and had resumed her humming.
Shikamaru placed his hand on top of hers, where it was resting on Uma's small, sleeping body. "What're you humming?"
"Eh? Oh, just a lullaby."
"Teach it to me."