A/N: Hola I'd like to point out that this is NOT a ShikaIno fanfiction, whatever it may seem. They're platonic friends, okay? It's set hmmmm before Gaara becomes Kazekage? It really doesn't matter but I guess it'd make sense haha
Oh and this is also not an anti-Ino fic. I don't hate her
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. All characters within this fanfiction belong to Masashi Kishimoto.
There's a human tendency to gossip, and to enjoy it; to know every single bit of detail there is about another's life and to formulate another 'truth' that is to be spread around the village. One such truth is that Uzumaki Naruto as host of the Kyuubi is the equivalent of a monster; there is no possible way that he is any different or special. Another less known truth of the village is that the unique taste of the noodles from the ramen shop on the border of the Fire Country is due to them being the rejects of both their own country, as well as the neighbouring River Country's. A truth known amongst even less people is that Yamanaka Ino and I hated each other.
Was there verity to this particular rumour?
Anyone who knew either of us would deny it.
That Naruto kid? He thinks so highly of the world, so naïve, so hopeful; so innocent in that retrospect. He makes you want to hope again, makes you want to believe there's still good in the world. It's not something you see every day. He probably thinks we're best friends or something. He's kind of slow at times too but when he comes around he still tries to look for the better side of people. He'd bring up every time he saw us that we weren't arguing or fighting. He's a good kid.
In that sense he reminds me of the Hyuuga girl. Another optimistic youth of Konoha. Another good, honest person who believes the world isn't a terrible place, that hell does exist if you believe in it, but it doesn't exist here. Even if she'd seen myself and Ino fighting she'd rationalise it with a reason and try to convince others that there could be another reason rather than pure hatred.
And Sakura would probably just say I had a good reason to hate 'Ino-pig', as she calls her, and continue on about her, even after everyone stopped listening. They have quite a history, those two. She'd have a think about it, analysing every moment we've spent together and our personality traits before she decided. Cool, calm and collected, she'd come up with her answer: Ino and I did not hate each other, and even if I did I had her support.
I don't know much about the other teams. Gaara says Rock Lee's another optimist and I'm guessing Hyuuga Neji would make a logical decision like Sakura, and Tenten would pretty much agree with what he said. The guy with the dog told Kankurou once that he doesn't smell hatred on either of us; I didn't even know you could smell hatred but apparently you can so there you go. And the bug guy I really have no idea about. But everyone seems to say he's nice, even if a little weird.
Kankurou's opinion isn't even worth counting. He's the one who made up half the stories about myself and Ino, and he enjoys it of course. According to him, Ino and I once decapitated half a forest because we were declaring our undying love to the lazy ass of a chuunin and fire burned in our eyes. He came into the hotel room laughing at how the faces of the gossips went from shock, to interest and then to some kind of surreal joy as they left the grocery store to pass it onto someone else. Naturally, I smacked him across the top of the head for that. That and every other time he spreads another rumour. Kami knows how he does it. His purple-lined face is well known throughout these streets by now as one of the Suna shinobi who frequently travel to Konoha.
Gaara on the other hand insists that I hate few people unless I really have a reason to.
'Nee-chan,' he'd said to me, 'you've been raised as a princess of Suna. People you don't even know would hate you for reasons that you could never help. You just ignored them instead of focusing all your energy and attention on them. The only reason you'd hate someone is because of something they would have personally done to you or someone you care about.'
And at this point Kankurou chimed in as well.
Helpful? No, not really.
'Yeah, Tem, you just look like you're angry at the world all the time but really you don't care about half of them.'
I smacked him across the head for that too.
But what about Yamanaka girl's teammates, right?
Well Chouji's a nice guy, unless you call him fat, which I strongly advise you never say to him. And even if he doesn't know me, he does know his teammate. Shikamaru's told me they've all known each other since they were little, even if they weren't always as close as they are now. Time does things to you. Chouji's the kind of guy that looks beyond appearance into a person's true personality. I honestly think he can see through Ino's fan-girl attitude, just as he can see through Shikamaru's lazy-ass attitude. He can see the potential people have inside themselves.
Sometimes I wonder how far he's seen into me.
And Shikamaru? I could assume he's too lazy to have an opinion but he's grown a lot since we met. He probably has one but gives us the excuse that he's too lazy to even share it. But he has his moments when you wouldn't be able to tell that this is Konoha's lazy shinobi.
Like now: as the explosive tags go off ever few seconds, and kunai and shuriken fly left, right and centre, never mind the various jutsu and shinobi on the battlefield with us. I can see him out of the corner of my eye, fighting like there's no tomorrow. Dodge. Dodge. Duck. Strike.
It's like some sort of sick dance, watching a battle between ninja.
It seems like nothing unless you see a familiar face. You feel nothing until you see someone you've personally met have their arm cut open because they have no other way of defending themselves. You feel nothing until you see their empty, lifeless eyes staring back at you, asking you why you never helped them.
And then you have to feel nothing.
As a shinobi you're not meant to feel as you kill, as you watch others die. And if you do, you won't survive. Physically, you may, but mentally you're scarred for life. And no amount of soap or water can wash the blood stained on your hands, nothing can erase the vivid images in your mind. And you will die. You will not exist as anything more than an empty shell that breathes and lives out of habit.
And as a kunoichi of Suna that's something we pride ourselves on: our ability to separate ourselves from emotion as we kill. It's harder when you know the person you're fighting, or to watch people you care about in a state where it looks like they could lose. But as Gaara and Kankurou were on my team that was a feeling I rarely felt, unless it was because of Gaara. They were the only ones I ever really cared about.
But now there's more. In Konoha the friends we've made here are genuine. They didn't know us by status but because of our encounters in the Chuunin Exams and through various missions as allies.
And in a second I see Nara barely avoid a fatal wound. And my heart stopped. I physically stopped. And in that moment of distraction the dagger of my opponent is driven through my left shoulder, just missing my heart.
Kankurou's scream had brought me back to reality, and just in time it seemed.
'TEMARI! Are you crazy?! You never let your guard down! What's wrong with you today?!'
I hear him but I don't know what to say. He's right. It's unusual for me to lose, but it's scary when I start letting my guard down. Not just for me, but for my brothers too. They know me well, and when I start leaving myself open to attack, something is very wrong. And that distraction could prove to be fatal.
Our family is small but it's all we have. I know how they feel. Hearing Gaara was kidnapped froze me to the core. Seeing Kankurou so broken and close to death merely shattered my frozen state. I never wanted to feel like that again. And I felt it all coming back to me just by seeing the chuunin fall in battle.
And in a second Kankurou's by my side, knocking aside my opponent in one swift, quick movement. And then Gaara too. He must have heard Kankurou.
'What's wrong? What happened?' he asked quickly, eyes ever wary as he continued to fight. I watched my brothers protectively guard me as if I were some little child that could not protect myself.
'Nothing! Go back to your positions,' I replied harshly.
Even though I knew they would see right through it.
And then we were enveloped in sand and darkness as Gaara displayed his unbelievable power once more. His third eye appeared outside the dome, I assumed, as his finger was placed in the centre of his forehead and his eyes were closed.
'Temari. What's wrong?' he demanded as soon as he opened his eyes. Kankurou merely stared at me.
Despite myself, I couldn't help but sigh.
'This isn't the time or place,' I simply said. There was a battle going on out there. Our comrades needed us. But I could tell that Gaara was watching them, controlling the sand outside the dome to crush more enemies and protect our allies.
'Then make it quick. Temari, if you're going to go out there and lose focus you're going to get yourself killed!' Kankurou yelled at me once more.
Stubborn as I am, I don't want to waste time in here. I love my brothers and that they care but we need to be outside fighting, rather than safe in here.
'I'll be alright. Don't worry.'
I sound gentle and caring … and weak and vulnerable. Nobody but them hear me use this tone. And I know they don't believe me. I know they'd never stop worrying.
They don't answer. And in the dark I can almost see their worried and stubborn faces. So I reach out to where I know they are and place a hand on each of their shoulders.
'I can take care of myself,' I tell them again.
'We know,' Gaara's voice answers.
'But when you stop to stare at Nara and leave yourself open like that we need to step in,' Kankurou added.
And I smile with sad eyes.
'Gaara,' I say and he knows what I mean. I want him to lower the shield and return to the unforgotten battle. We need to.
And he does. And in a flash the blood and screams return to me, the shuriken fly and the fire spreads and another enemy stands before me. This time I'm determined not to lose focus. And sure enough five bodies lie motionless at my feet and without a breath I move on to my next prey, because I have to.
But then I saw him: back turned to an oncoming enemy, too wrapped up in his current fight to notice the sword-wielding ninja raise his arm to decapitate him.
Now everything stops. My chest tightens and without a single thought I run towards him before I raise my fan, willing the wind to reach him, to save him. I beg for his life to be spared.
Because I couldn't bear to lose him.
I beg Kamatari to reach him in time.
And almost literally fall to the ground in relief. Instead, I manage a weak grin as I lean against my fan and shoot him a smirk. He quickly disposes of his opponent before he looks over in my direction. We lock eyes for a moment. But then they move beyond me and he no longer sees me.
Blocking an attack, before I smash his head in with my tessen, I turn to see him run past me towards something else. Or rather, towards someone else.
White-blonde hair in a pony-tail. Purple. And Shikamaru running towards her.
I don't question who it is. I know.
I feel my heart break just a little more. As it does every time. I wonder if hers ever did the same when it was the other way around. I wonder if there's ever been some truth to that rumour.
She's dear to him and I envy that. As one of his best friends of course he'd run to save her. She'll come first, no matter how well I know him. She'll be before me even if I tell him I care. Because she has that part of him. He may not be in love with her but he cares for his friends so much.
There's nothing else between them but I envy her all the same. He'll always move his lazy self to run and save his friends, to save her. For them he'll change and I envy them for mattering so much to him.
And I'm struck once more. In the back with a kunai. Funny how it doesn't hurt as much. So I look away and strike back.
But I see him in the corner of my eye, fighting for her life. And he's different from before. He'll give everything he has just to bring her back safely. And for a moment I wish I were weak. For a while I wish I couldn't take care of myself, just to want him to come and protect me like he did once before.
But I'm not. And I don't need to be protected. I'm Sabaku no Temari, a kunoichi and princess of Suna.
And with a sad smile I watch once more as he moves her body to safety, before a flash of pink arrives and kneels beside her. She'll be okay, I know she will. And he'll turn and fight again, knowing she'll be taken care of.
But still my heart breaks a little more as I feel another few kunai hit my back. Damn it. I really am losing focus. I can see Gaara crushing whoever threw them with fury in his eyes, and Kankurou yells at me some more.
But he's not there. He didn't run towards me or even try to warn me. He didn't see, he didn't know. I know he would have helped.
And despite myself, I know I do. I can't help it.
It'll go away again. I'll brush it off when it's over and we all sit together.
But as I watch his pineapple head steal worried glances back in her direction, whatever's left of me shatters.
I'll fix myself up, as I always do.
She has you. And it hurts.
And right now?
I hate her.
A/N: Hehh I hope I don't get killed by my fellow ShikaTema fans. Hmm maybe I can do one from Shika's perspective? Coz I really do think they'd be great together But I doubt either would toss their friends aside. Even if you know someone cares, you know, you still wouldn't be able to help but feel hurt.
Anyway, I really want to make it clear that Shika only goes to help Ino because they're good friends. Sigh. I need to go read a nice ShikaTema fic now haha
Reviews are always welcome!
And thanks for reading this far. And sorry for the repetition haha xD And if my tenses change. If they do, please tell me, because I have a problem with them sometimes.