What Really is Yummy

"Mm." Ino moans in a rather wicked tone. "Isn't he gorgeous, Temari-san?"

"Spectacular." I drone sarcastically. Ino finds just about every muscular pretty-boy male 'delicious' (her word, not mine). The blonde is very compassionate and kind when she wants to be, but she can be rather shallow. I love her nonetheless, but there are times she irks me to no end.

"Honestly," she harrumphs, a chastising tone in her voice, "one would swear that you disliked all men." She leans forward, and I can almost see the eagerness in her eyes, wanting to pounce on a new rumor. "Are you a lesbian, Temari-san?"

Ino is the prime source for the going-ons about the village; the thin blonde even knows things about other villages. A chismosa she would be called, if I were to use the almost dead language in Suna, which only the elders use to keep prying children from listening to private conversations. She's a gossip-addict, a nosy woman, a – now I'm out of words. Telling something to Ino would be the equivalent of telling the whole world. Although, there are the few rare articles she harbors close to her heart and doesn't drop her impenetrable grip from. Just try getting THAT information from her, it's like talking to a wall. "No, Ino-san, I am not a lesbian; and it doesn't matter how many times you ask, my answer will not change."

"Oh, come now; if you are I'll lock that secret into my heart." She makes a motion across her chest. "I won't tell a soul. You know there are things I do keep and never repeat."

"Hn. Rhyming, a new talent for you."

"Temari-san!" Ino says exasperatedly.

"I'm serious, Ino, I am telling you the truth."

She waves her hand about in irritation before closing it around the cup before her. The steam from her jasmine tea curls up into the air disappearing promptly. "Well, then, if you are straight, whom do you find attractive?"

"Na-Nobody." I blush furiously at the slip of my tongue. I hope Ino doesn't notice.

I can see the gears turning furiously in her head. She's trying to figure what guy's name starts with 'Na'. Or probably which girl.

Her pink nails clink against her porcelain mug, her lips in a perceptible frown.

I have to remind myself to watch my tongue when I'm around Ino. Just about everybody else would blink and pay no mind to the slip, but Ino, the girl considered every slip of tongue; she believed that such slips always meant something. Not that she would be wrong, but her analysis of every word makes it hard to keep a secret. Whatever compelled me to actually almost answer her question, anyway? Fuck, I'm dammed if she figures out I was about to say 'Nara'.

There's no way she would keep that from one of her closest friends.

She sighs. "Who were you about to say?"

Thank, Kami, she gave up. "I don't know what you're talking about."

Draining the last bit of her tea, she pushes the mug aside and gives me her famed glare. This little look usual gets her the answers she wants from whomever she wants. I've only seen two people immune to it. Hyuuga Hinata (a rather large surprise there, if you ask me) and my own personal infatuation – Nara Shikamaru.

And well of course, me.

"Ino," I say calmly, "this little thing," I make a motion at her face, "doesn't work with me."

She sighs again. "Okay, then, since you won't tell me who it is your so passionately in love with—"

"I'm not in love with anyone." To be honest, I'm not even sure if I'm lying about this bit here.

She rolls her eyes. "Whatever. But do tell me what it is that makes you like him." She pauses and props her head up in one perfectly manicured hand. "Or her."

I groan. "Not a 'her'."

"Well, what is it then?"

It's hard for me to pinpoint exactly what is it about him that draws me quite so strongly. It's not obviously apparent; I doubt I would look over such an evident fact or point. I suppose saying that I've tried hard to pinpoint the source would be a lie; I haven't sat down and pondered and tried to solve the entire conundrum. Mostly, because it doesn't bother me. I don't mind not knowing why I'm, for lack of better word, attracted to him. I don't mind the feelings that arise when I see him. Surely, I'm curious; who wouldn't be? But the curiosity isn't so profound that I find I need to know. It would be nice to know, I suppose.

I think I'm mostly afraid that if I think about it, I'll find it's not a very good reason at all. I'm always too far attached to logic. So is he, I guess.

"I'm not sure." I reply as honest as I feel like being at the moment.

Ino scowls. "Well what do you think it is? I don't need an answer that's 100 positive."

Ino is actually very pretty. She has this lovely soft blonde hair. Sometimes I wish my hair was nearly as soft hers, but I rather like my color better. I think it's the climate here that makes her hair so nice. In Suna it's so dry and hot, it's like my hair is so parched it withers into a straw-like texture. She's always smiling too, and she's very thin. A lot of guys like little skinny women, so she's got that going for her, I guess. And the way she talks to men, well…unlike me she actually knows HOW without sounding like a complete and total bitch. I've often wondered if Shikamaru likes her. Loves her even. I wouldn't be surprised really. She's beautiful, and when you get past her slightly shallow attitude she's also a wonderful person. So close to perfection it's sickening. I love her, I really do, she's a wonderful person, but my fear of him liking her also makes me envious.

I hate envy, such a useless emotion.

"Well?" she demands. "What're you looking at me for?" She pauses a horror-struck look on her face. "Oh, Kami, you're not in love with me are you?"

I had raised my mug to my lips but at her words my eyes went wide and my grip loosened. The mug crashed onto the table, spilling the hot tea all across the table and throwing shards all over as well. The tea drips down the table falling onto my leg – or my lap, I'm really not sure. It's fucking hot, but I'm too astonished to think really.

Ino's eyes flit immediately to the mess I created. She waves over a waitress while Ino begins to pick up the broken bits of mug.

"Oh, here," she fusses impatiently, wiping the table before me with a napkin, "it's getting all over your clothes."

The waitress effortlessly and flawlessly cleans the entire mess up with some of Ino's help.

"Gomen," Ino says to her a wide smile on her lips, "my friend here, incredibly clumsy."

The waitress nods and with a large smile says she'll go get another cup of fresh tea.

Okay, so Ino's reaction probably wasn't…uncalled for, I was staring at her, and analyzing her, but STILL. I think it shocks me more, because right before I left Suna Kankurou accused me of the same thing. Granted when he said it I imagined he was just being a complete and utter idiot like he occasionally tends to be, but now I was beginning to wonder if other people actually thought that of me.

Considering past events, it wouldn't be too far-fetched of a conclusion.

Ino continues, "Not that I have anything against those people, but you know, Temari-san, I am not a lesbian, and while I appreciate the sentiment very much, I think you should put aside your—"

"I'm not!" I protest immediately.

"You really do need to come to terms with the truth—"

"Ino, believe me, I am not a lesbian, and if I were you would not be the type I would go for."

Crap. Now she looks offended.

"And why not?" She asks testily.

How the hell did the conversation take this turn? Damn it all. I raise my hands and shake them before me trying to placate the blonde. "Look it has nothing to do with—let's just drop it yeah?"

"Why not, Temari-san?" She prods even further.


"Spit it out."

A million reasons pulse through my head, but each one is just as likely to enrage her even further. "I…ano…like brunettes?"

"That's a load of crap. What's the real reason?" Ino looks about ready to pull out her claws and kill me.

"What the hell does it matter anyway?! Neither of us is…" I pause. "Are you?"

"Of course not!"

"Then what does it matter?!"

She leans back obviously disturbed. "It's because I'm fat right?"

I am infinitely glad that the waitress has not brought me tea yet. Otherwise her comment would have made me drop it again. "Ino, are you insane!?" I exclaim.

The waitress ambles over at my last comment and nervously puts the fresh mug of tea before me. "H-Here." She stutters before quickly scampering off.

"Admit it," Ino continues. "You think I'm fat."

I pull at one of my ponytails in frustration. "I think you're an idiot if you consider yourself fat. You know, it's this attitude that makes me wonder how Chouji and Shikamaru can put up with you. Use that brain of yours; you have to be the skinniest female I've ever met, stop bitching about how you are fat! Quite a lot of the fucking men I have talked to rave about how fucking hot you are; and as for the rest, I'm almost sure they're thinking it! You are not fat, Yamanaka. Get over it."

She taps her nails bitterly on the table, "You are—" She stops abruptly. "Nara." Her eyes open wide in realization. "You were going to say Nara!" A brilliant smile spreads across her lips. A wolf who's caught her prey.




"No, I—"

Ino shakes her finger at me, a vicious smirk spreading upon her lips. "Don't even try, Temari-san."

I am so screwed. By this time tomorrow everyone in Konoha, maybe everyone in Suna too, would know that I am besotted with Shikamaru. Oh, Kami, Shikamaru would know. Not good. "I thought we'd established the fact that I was a lesbian?" I try hopelessly. Why being a lesbian is a more preferable option than Shikamaru knowing I kind of sort of maybe feel strong affection for him, I'm unsure of, but hell, I really don't want him to know.

I don't mind liking him. I just…don't want him to know. Mostly because I believe he's besotted with the blonde right before me, and rejection would be pretty embarrassing. I've never tried to start a relationship with anyone before and I mean, really, me: the bitchiest, bossiest, angriest blonde kunoichi smitten with Konoha's lazy genius? Not a very…Fuck, it doesn't even make sense to me, and I'm the one who's entranced by him.

"Yes, well, we established I was wrong remember? 'I am not a lesbian; and it doesn't matter how many times you ask, my answer will not change.' Weren't those your exact words, Temari-san?" Ino says with a smile. She signals for the tab. "Well, this has been fun, but I've got to go."

I cradle my head in my hands. I'm toast. "Is there any chance that this would be one of the things you won't tell a soul?"

"Well, as you refused to tell me, I don't see how it should be. I figured it out on my own."

"Because you're a compassionate and empathetic person?"

The blonde, now standing, begins to laugh. "Now that's funny." She taps her nails on the table and smiles this evil little grin I've come to associate with trouble. It's a devil's grin. "I might consider it if you explain it to me."

I groan inwardly. Whatever she is talking about surely does not bode well for me. "Explain what?"

"Come." Ino waves me to her. "This shop is stifling. I need some fresh air. Oh! You know, they're having a sale at that cute little store. Fifty percent off all jewelry."

"That's not fresh air." I complain as I follow the blonde out of the tea shop.

"Do you really want to contradict me right now, Temari-san?"

I bite back a snarky reply. Ino sure knows how to milk it. Fucking crazy ass extortionist.

The thin blonde carefully avoids bringing up the subject so as to torture me with my own thoughts. I walk beside her, counting every step I take. Doom. This all spells out my inevitable doom. Why do I talk to her anyway? Oh, right. I talk to her because she's one of Shikamaru's good friends. Damn, it's a cycle. I can see her smile even though my head is bent down watching my footsteps. I can almost hear the evil thoughts swimming in her even eviler mind. I shouldn't have woken up this morning.

We walk into that 'cute little store', a blast of cold air from the air conditioning system hitting me full in the face. Ino squeals happily and skitters off to a counter muttering something about 'cute' or something equally morbid. I sulk after her. I think ordinarily I would like shopping in this store. As I look around some of the stuff they're selling is actually really nice. (Some though, is that disgustingly horrid cute that reminds me of cotton candy. I hate cotton candy.)

Ino holds up a necklace to me. "What do you think?"

"About what?"

"Duh. Would it look nice on me?"

"Ino," I say in exasperation, "you are weird. For some innate reason EVERYTHING looks good on you."

She grins. "Why thank you." Putting the necklace back she is browsing another set of necklaces. "So…"


"Since when have you been in love with Shikamaru?"

I scowl. "I am not in love with anybody, Ino."

"Don't be stupid. Of course you're in love. Girls don't mind telling other girls that they think a guy is attractive. Girls don't mind telling other girls when they find a guy unbearably hot." Ino stresses the word 'hot' as a broody-looking guy walks by her. "Girls don't even mind telling other girls about their crushes. But, girls definitely mind telling ANYBODY about guys they are hopelessly in love with."

"Wasn't it you and half the female population of this town who swore their undying love to Uchiha Sasuke to just about the entire population of people they knew?"

She clucks her tongue and looks at me with an irritated expression. "That was fake, Temari-san. Do you really think all those girls loved the Uchiha? I know I didn't. I just pretended to. I had no idea what love really meant back then. I just thought he was so yummy-looking."

"Please don't say 'yummy' in reference to a guy again."

She leans back and looks at me in interest. "Why?" An evil smirk settles on her mouth. "Do you find him, yummy?"

I want to gag. "No. No way. He is not…that. And for goodness' sakes please stop saying that word!"

"Yummy. Yummy. Yummy." She chants. She leans forward, her lips hovering above my ear, "Just admit you think Shikamaru is…yummy."

I'd like to say that I felt like gagging when she said that. In reality, a rather large blush spread across my face, I felt shivers all across my chest, and my heart seemed to be jumping about.

I can't really think he's…that word, right?

I mean, I can't even say it, how could I possibly… Oh, jeez, I'm going insane. I need to seek help.

Ino chortles and returns her attention back to the jewelry. The light shining upon the twinkling chains and charms is starting to make me dizzy. I rub my eyes.

"So, now that we've established that," she pulls out a nice silver bracelet and holds it up to the light. "Care to tell me what it is about him that makes you blush so profusely?" She frowns and returns the bracelet to its place. "On any other girl I would be willing to believe it was merely a physical attribute, but on you, Temari-san…" Her nails clink against the metal. "Well, you've never really been swayed by appearance, no matter how delicious looking the man I point out is. So I'm curious, what is it that really…aha!" she pulls out a pretty-expensive looking bracelet. "As I was saying, what is it about him that entices you so?"

I sigh and lean against the counter as the blonde examines piece after piece. "You aren't going to let this go, are you?"

"Do you want me to find him and tell him?"

"Are you really that vindictive?"

She smirks.

"Alright, fine!" I pull at one of my ponytails. "He…" I blush. "He…He…"

"He?" Ino prompts.

"He makes me think. He's intelligent. He looks at me like I'm a person not just a woman. He respects me. He actually listens when I talk. He cares, even though it seems like he doesn't. He's kind. He's compassionate. He may be lazy but he doesn't give up. He's a good shinobi and an even better person. He cares for those he loves. And he's—he's honest." I explain to her all in one breath. "There? Are you happy?"

Her eyes are squinted slightly. She's trying to separate everything I said. I realize now it probably sound like one really long sentence. I sort of hope she isn't able to differentiate most of it.

"The honest thing," Ino begins slowly, "why does that matter?"

I scowl. "Almost everyone I've ever met has been a fucking liar. He's honest, not many people are these days. It's refreshing. Even you aren't all that honest."

Her head is inclined to the side. "Yes, I suppose I'm not. Actually, I never noticed the honest thing before, but you do have a point." She smiles. Ino returns to rummaging through the jewelry.

"Are we done?"


"Is this enough to satisfy you?" I ask, feeling incredibly embarrassed and naked.

"Oh, more than enough." Ino grins and pulls out a very nice silver necklace. "Now Shikamaru can know why you are in love with him."

I falter and my hands slide so my head bangs against the desk. My head is throbbing like hell, but for the second time in the day Ino has done something that I do not expect in the least. "What the hell, Ino?!"

"I never said I would keep your secret. I said I would consider it."

I want to kill her. I want to wrap my hands around her skinny little pale neck and watch her slowly asphyxiate. Evil, horrible, terrible, vindictive, little bitch.

"Hey, don't look at me that way. You should know by now that talking to me could potentially lead to the entire village having a play-by-play of your life."

Count to ten, Temari. Count to ten.

Killing a Konoha shinobi would be bad for…various political reasons That…for some reason I can't recall at the moment….

"Frankly, I find it very cute that you love him."

"I don't love anyone." I manage to spit out through gritted teeth.

"Who does she love?" Someone new asks.

I look up. Dammit. Does the world just hate me today?

"Chouji!" Ino squeals. "Mm." She holds up the silver necklace against her neck. "What do you think?"

Chouji opens a bag of chips. "It looks nice."

"Just nice?"

"Fantastic, gorgeous, amazing." Chouji mumbles through a mouthful of chips.

"Nah," Ino mumbles, "it isn't any good." She puts it back on the rack and continues browsing about.

I lean against the counter again, propping my head up with my hands. I wonder if there's anything I can do or say to change or her mind. I also wonder if she was joking about telling Shikamaru. With Ino I never know.

"So," Chouji continues, "who does Temari-san love?"

"Nobody." I mutter bitterly.

Ino grins. "Shikamaru."

Once more my hands lose their stability and my head slips down smacking hard onto the counter. I can hear the sound of Chouji's chip bag as it hits the floor. With Ino I had a chance. There was a slight possibility she wouldn't tell Shikamaru. There's no way in hell that I could ever convince Chouji not to tell to Shikamaru. That's it: I'm doomed. I don't bother raising my head. I let it rest on the counter.

"What," I can hear Chouji's smile as he talks, "are you doing?"

I picture the scene once I confront Shikamaru once Ino or Chouji's told him my horribly ridiculous secret. I'm laughing, trying to hide my embarrassment. Shikamaru has his eyebrows raised. He calls me an idiot. Secretly I agree. He walks away. I feel stupid. By some freak accident Ino somehow ends up dead… I get in trouble. Then I'm strung up in Konoha jail awaiting my sentence – probably death. Konoha once more hates Suna. Suna hates Konoha. We're on the brink of war once more…Brilliant.

"I'm hoping the earth will open up and swallow me whole." I mumble, my head still resting against the counter, honestly hoping the earth will open up and swallow me whole.

"I take it," Chouji reasoned, "that this information is something Ino shouldn't know and you'd been hoping she wasn't going to tell anyone?"

"What can I say?" I grumble. "I'm a freaking optimistic."

"How much money do you have on you, Temari-san?" Ino asks sweetly.

"Why?" I mumble.

"Because you're buying me this necklace.'

I straighten up and glare at the skinny blonde. "What the HELL? First, you lead me to believe you won't tell Shikamaru I love him if I tell you why I love him, then you tell me you're going to tell Shikamaru everything I said to you, and then you tell Chouji! Why would I buy you anything!?"

Her eyes twinkle. "Because if you buy it for me I'll consider not telling Shikamaru."

"Two problems with your statement." I mutter bitterly. "One: you said 'consider' again. I'm not doing anything for you just so you'll consider something. Two: even if you restated that to 'if you buy it for me I won't tell Shikamaru.' Chouji here," I jerk my thumb at the robust ninja, "will tell Shikamaru anyway."

"Chouji won't say a word." Ino purrs charmingly.

"Fuck you." I spit out.

"Now, now." Ino says warmly. The bitch is enjoying holding this over my head. "It wouldn't do to piss me off."

Chouji is smiling, but the boy looks at me warmly, "Look, if you really don't want me to tell Shikamaru, I won't. But really, I don't see what's wrong with him knowing."

"What's wrong!? He'll laugh at me!" I exclaim. "He'll think I'm an idiot."

"What makes you so sure?" Chouji asks.

Okay, admittance time. I really like Chouji. Out of all the male shinobi in Konoha, he's the nicest. He's probably the nicest person period. (The women here, with the possible exception of Hinata, are vicious. Like mean, snotty, horrible, evil vicious. And coming from me, you KNOW that means something. It's no wonder Shikamaru thinks all women are troublesome.) He's really sweet, and compassionate, and incredibly comforting. Given, he isn't always honest, because the truth is pretty painful sometimes, but he's still very sweet. He reminds me of a teddy bear. (I will never admit that to anyone though!) But even though he's really nice, right now, I think he's full of crap.

"Because he thinks I'm a bitchy troublesome woman. Nothing that could possibly come from him knowing the truth would be a good idea. Absolutely nothing."

He shrugs. "I think you're wrong, but ok." He holds out his bag to me. "Chip?"

I smile despite my current situation. He's trying to cheer me up. Chouji would never offer his chips unless he's trying to cheer you up. "No, thanks."

"I really won't tell him if it bothers you so much, you know." Chouji assures me. "I can convince Ino not to say anything either."

"Ep!" Ino squeals out immediately. "You can convince me to do no such thing. Now," she dangles the necklace before me, "I think you owe me a present, Temari-san."

I look at the tag and almost smack my head on the counter again. "Are you insane, Yamanaka?!"

"You know, that's the second time you've called me insane today. I'm starting to get offended."

"This is a ridiculous amount to spend on a piece of jewelry."

"So?" Ino flicks her hair behind her shoulders. "You're rich."

"Rich or not, I don't waste money." I am rich. My father – better known as the fucking soulless bastard – left quite a large sum behind when he died. Even then, we had always been rich. We were a 'noble' Suna clan and with nobility comes tons of monetary profit. And despite the fact that Gaara, Kankurou, and I grew up with no actual adult guardianship we still know how to take care of our money. Kankurou is probably the most reckless, but that was only when it came to his precious puppets. "This isn't even worth half of what it's priced."

"I still want it." Ino pouted.

I push it back in her hands. "So buy it."

"You're buying it for me."


She smirks evilly. "Oh, look," She points outside the window to a blonde-haired shinobi in an orange jumpsuit and the pink-haired medi-nin, "there's Naruto and Sakura. I wonder how long it would take them to spread your undying love to the entire village."

I grit my teeth and snatch the necklace from the thin blonde's bony fingers. "Fucking bitch." I storm over to the counter and pay for the stupid trinket.

As I hand the cashier the money, Ino dangles an even more expensive bracelet in my face. "This one too."

I pull it from her hands bitterly and shove it into the cashier's hands. "This one too." I manage to spit out.

I walk out of the store feeling incredibly pissed off. Ino walks beside me admiring her new bracelet in the sunlight. "Doesn't it look sooo hot?" She asks Chouji.

Chouji, standing beside Ino, sends me an apologetic look.

Ino straightens immediately. "You know," she starts of conspiratorially, "there's this really amazing pair of shoes in this one store. I hadn't bought them because they were waay too expensive for me. But you, Temari-san, could buy them for me." She's grinning.

I can feel my eye begin to twitch. "No."

"Well, I suppose I could—"

I stop walking to glare at the girl. "I fucking hate you, Ino."

She grins. "Good. The store's over here."

Two hours later, I'd wasted more money on two – just TWO pairs of shoes – than I've ever spent in seven months.

Chouji, who's carrying her bags, gives me another apologetic look. Ino on the other hand looks absolutely ecstatic. "There's also—"

"No. NO more sales. That's it! I'm not letting you coerce me into doing anything else!"

Ino has the decency to look wounded. "Why, Temari-san, I'm doing no such thing. Oh!"

"Oh? What 'oh!'?" My eyes narrow. She's up to something.

She points forward. "Doesn't Shikamaru look so bored?"

Oh crap. It is Shikamaru. My heart does the stupid flipping thing and I can feel a blush start to crawl up my face.

Chouji grins at me. "What do you know? I didn't think you were capable of blushing."

Stupid body.

Ino plays with her platinum hair. "I should go give him the interesting news." I pull her back, my hand gripping tightly on her wrist. She smirks up at me. "So…As I was saying, I think I need more clothes. Nicer clothes. Ooh! From that store Hinata's sister buys hers from. You know that stuff is expensive. Gorgeous, but expensive. Of course, money isn't a big matter to you, now is it, Temari-san?"

"Just a thought." Chouji adds. "Killing would be a bad option."

"THAT'S IT!" I let go of her wrist. "NARA!"

Shikamaru turns from his bored stroll to who knows were. I can see his brow furrow. He walks over slowly. "Yeah?"

Count to ten. Count to ten. I think I'm blushing again. I look at Chouji. He's snickering. Yup, I'm definitely blushing.

Shikamaru raises an eyebrow and looks at me with worry in his dark eyes. "Temari, are you okay?"

Ino leans forward. "Oh, she's just—"

"I'm in love with you." I blurt out before Ino can say anything.

Shikamaru's mouth drops open and he blinks repeatedly.




Please tell me I did not just say that.

His eye seems to be twitching.

I'm blushing even more profusely than I was before. I wouldn't be surprised if I looked like a tomato.

Oh, Kami, I hate Ino.

"I'm going to go now." I mutter quickly and depart as quickly as I can. I most definitely should have stayed in bed today.

Note to self: never, ever, EVER, talk to Ino ever again. Even if it's only a ten-second conversation.

I bustle into my apartment immediately, cursing everybody I can think of for my stupidity today. Shutting the door closed behind me I slide to the floor. Heavens above, I couldn't have found a different way to say that?

I'm in love with you.

Jeez, who says that?

I pound the back of my head against the door. "Stupid. Stupid. Kami, I am so fucking stupid." I should have kept playing Ino's stupid games. Better yet, I should've given her my entire share of our family fortune and put it all behind me. But, noooo. Shikamaru looked horrified when I told him I was in love with him. "Ugh! STUPID!"

"Not that I happen to disagree, but why exactly have you decided you're stupid?"

My eyes flick over immediately to the source of the noise. My worst suspicions immediately confirmed. Damn it all! Today just plain sucked! "What are you doing here, Kankurou?"

He yawns and stretches. "Mission." The puppeteer collapses on the couch his feet still visible. "So, what the hell's got you all twisty?" I straighten and walk over to the couch sitting on the floor. I look up at my younger brother. His eyebrows draw together in confusion. "Oy, Tem, what's up with you? Seriously. You haven't hit me or threatened to hit me yet."

"Hypothetically speaking, what," I begin slowly, "would you think, if some girl you knew called you over and then told you that she was in love with you?"

"How well do I know her and how did she say it?"

The one thing I'm infinitely glad about Kankurou's personality is that when he's serious, he's serious. He honestly and truly thinks the questions over. "Pretty well and with a huge blush." I fidget. "Bluntly, too." I add in afterthought. "No pussyfooting around."

He blinks. "Who did you confess to?"

I start. "Nobody!" I protest immediately. It will do me no good if Kankurou laughs at me too.

"That blonde girl?"

"Fuck, Kankurou! I've told you before I'm not a lesbian!"

"Well, I'm just saying, you seem to like that blonde a lot. And it's not like she's ugly. I don't care if you are a lez, sis, I love you anyway. Besides, she's pretty hot. And—"

"I don't love her! I love Shik—" I stop. Crap. Am I that easy to get information from? Jeez, I'd be no good at undercover missions.

He moves from the lying on the couch to sitting beside me on the floor in one swift motion. Don't ask me how he does that. It's creepy. Okay, not really, it's very cool actually, and I wish I could do it, but I don't think I have the grace and speed required to move that quickly and effortlessly.

"Nara, hunh?"

I growl and look at my feet. Damn it all. I really, really wish I could rewind this entire damn day. The worst about this whole damn conversation is Kankurou's expression and tone. He's not joking, he's not being sarcastic. He's honestly and truly thinking it over. It's at this exact moment that I realize everything is real.

Kankurou pulls his hands behind his head and looks up at the ceiling. "Why?"

I cradle my head in my hands. "I don't know. Lots of reasons. Mostly because I like the way he looks at me. The way he talks to me." I look up at my brother. His eyes are still drawn to the ceiling.

"What did he say to you when you confessed?"



"He stood there looking like I told him I was really a boy and was only pretending to be a girl. Then I just…left." I mumbled.

"Idiot." He breathes this out harshly and somewhat angrily. He looks at me warmly. Like an older brother might. It's a really nice and comforting look. "Do you want me to knock some sense into him? I'd offer to kill him, but as much as I'm sure Gaara would agree I think that would mess up all the progress we've made."

I laugh. "No thanks. I'm okay."

He looks at me, "You know you've just about fucked me up."

I raise an eyebrow. "What?"

"Well, see, I bet Gaara you were a lesbian. He said that he was pretty sure you were straight. In fact, he even went as far as to say that you had a crush on Nara Shikamaru. So we sealed the bet. Now, I owe him."

I stare at him open-mouthed. "YOU BET ON WHETHER I WAS STRAIGHT OR NOT!?"

He edges away slowly. "Hey, l-look, I'm sure you'll get your revenge once Gaara calls on his bet. I'm sure he'd even let you help pick the consequence." Kankurou is now standing and backing away into the kitchen, "You can't kill me! People will suspect!"

I let my slight anger ebb away. He does have a point. Gaara will let me exact my revenge on the bet. Because we are, as Ino had pointed out earlier today, rich, the bets we hold have nothing to do with money. They usually have to do with chores or sacrificing pride. And, oh boy, lose a pride bet and we're brutal. Last time I lost a bet to Kankurou, is the reason everyone seems to think I'm a lesbian. I used to loathe Ino. Something about her pretty little hair and smile and shallow attitude made me want to throttle her. Kankurou, in lieu of some fantastic pervasion of his, decided my 'consequence' for losing was to get on my knees before Ino, kiss the floor before her, and declare myself her 'bitch'. (Actually, now that I think about it: that was probably the reason I started talking to Ino. The blonde sought me out after that episode and then we just started talking. We became friends.) Oh, I would definitely make sure whatever 'consequence' Gaara decided on was a fucking brutal one.

"I'm gonna make you pay." I warn him.

He blanches. "I just had to make that bet with Gaara, didn't I?"

There's a knock on the door. "Will you get that, Kankurou?"

"I bet you it's your boyfriend."

"Very funny." I mutter dryly as he opens the door.

I hear Kankurou laugh. "Damn it all. Why couldn't I have actually made you agree to that bet?"

I'm lying on the couch now, my head resting on the arm rest. "What are you talking about, idiot?"

But he doesn't answer me. "What the fuck do you want?" Kankurou demands of whoever's at the door.

I sit up angrily. "Kankurou! You don't…crap." Shikamaru is standing at the door looking very uncomfortable. I can feel the blood rush to my face once more. "DAMMIT ALL!" I blurt out. I don't blush. I really don't. I may stutter. I may shiver. I may even act like a total idiot, but I do not blush. Sabaku Temari does NOT blush. And now, in this stupid most horrific of all horrific days, I've blushed over five damn times! I slouch back into the couch and hope, for the second time today, that the world will open up and swallow me whole.

I'm not a teenager anymore, and yet I'm acting like a moronic love-struck – gah! I need to ask Gaara to send me to a psychiatrist once I get back home.

"So?" Kankurou prods Shikamaru. "What the hell you want?"

"C-Can I talk Temari?"

"I'm sure you can, doesn't mean you will." Kankurou is probably glaring at him. I just want him to go away. Today is a horrible day. "Get lost, Nara."

"Fuck! You know what?" Shikamaru bites irritably. "I'm beyond irritated. I'm in no mood to appease you before I can talk to her. Just – Dammit, Temari! I need to talk to you."

I sit up and look at him curiously. Mostly because I don't think I've ever heard him utter a swear word in the entirety of his life. Also, I've never heard him sound quite so…pissed.

"Look, shadow punk, my sister doesn't want to talk to you. Get that in your little pineapple-y head. There's nothing you could say that can change that."

Shikamaru's eye is twitching. He takes a deep breath. "I'm so going to die." The next thing I know Shikamaru's shadow hand is by my brother's neck and Kankurou crumples to the floor.

My mouth gapes open. "WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO?!" I'm ten seconds away from killing him.

He closes the door, "I just knocked him out."

"You…" What the hell is happening? What the hell is up with him? Just, what the fucking hell in general? "WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO THAT FOR, JACKASS!?"

"Because I needed to talk to you, and like I said before, I was in no mood to appease him just to talk to you." He holds up a hand as I'm about to start yelling again. "I realize you want to kill me, and I'll give you free rein as soon as I'm done talking."

"Done…?" Kami, I don't even know what to think. I sit back down on the couch and try to think if maybe, just maybe, this is all one weird, really crappy dream. I pinch myself. Owp. Okay, so it's not a dream…

Shikamaru sits down beside me. "That stuff, you know, what you said earlier…Did you lose a bet?"

I slap him. I don't even realize that I had slapped him until after when my hand is sort of lingering in the air and his cheek is red with the imprint of my hand.

He rubs his cheek; my hand is still shaking in the air. "Look, woman, I'm sorry if that offended you, but knowing the bets you've held in the past that was plausible."

"That," I seethe, "was not me losing a fucking bet, you asshole. I was being honest, you—" My words are cut off promptly as I feel his shadow hand cover my mouth. What the hell? His stupid shadow hand could actually cover my mouth? This was new. If he could do that why hadn't he done it before? Wasn't he always bitching about how I was an annoying woman because I never shut up?

"Alright, you can continue insulting me later. You'll have plenty of time for that later, I gather."

"Marhgpad." Oh, brilliant, that's right; his third hand is covering my mouth.

"My second question was going to be if Ino put you up to it, but you've already said that it was how you honestly felt." His actual human hands draw up behind his head. "Which leads me to my third point."

I slap him again. Good, at least I can still hit him.

He moves his jaw about. "You know, woman, that hurt."

I move to slap him again, but he grips my wrist with his real hand. "It's very hard to have a conversation with you when you keep slapping me."

I try to speak against the shadow hand, but nothing coherent comes out. Damn idiot. It's very hard to have a conversation when you have my mouth bound! And what's worse, it's a shadow hand; I can't pull or push it off!

"If I remove the hand will you swear to refrain from yelling and not find some way to disallow me to speak?"

I think bitterly about choking him. Stabbing him. Pounding him to a large puddle of mush with my very heavy fan…

I nod. His shadow hand leaves immediately. "Asshole!" I spit out at him. "You are the most infuriating—"

I can feel his hand craw up again.

"Ack! No! I'll shut up!" I feel the hand stop its movement. He's still looking calmly at me. "So what's your third point?" I ask a bit too bitterly.

"I'm very much in love you as well."

My heart stops abruptly. And the blood rushes furiously to my face. "Th-This isn't funny, Nara." I know my voice is strained and I sound stupid, but I can't help it.

"I'm quite aware it isn't funny. It's infuriating. I've been in love with you for quite awhile now. And Ino, the damn witch, has been milking it. She's made me buy her all sorts of ridiculous items to bribe her into not blabbing her mouth to you or any other shinobi in Konoha."

My mouth is open. "Fucking whore!" The words fall out of my mouth before I realize what I've said. "Next time I see that bitch I'm going to smash her into a damn puddle."

"What are you talking about?" He murmurs lazily.

"I spent all day buying her ridiculously priced junk to keep her from telling you!" I'm furious. "Finally, it just became too damn much so I told you myself." I'm very busy contemplating ways to murder the blonde when I feel his lips on mine.

Oh… My…


At that very moment, I can't think anymore. I can just feel his very nice lips on mine and – holy crap, what is he doing with his tongue?! I relax completely. Whatever he's doing, it's very good.

I pull away a bit reluctantly. I'm unable to see correctly, and I most certainly can't think correctly.

"You talk too much."

I blink. "Yes, well…" I almost hate myself as a treacherous thought crosses through my head. With his eyes lidded like that, his lips so prettily swollen, and his face so lovingly flushed, he looks absolutely yummy. "I certainly like this method of shutting me up better than the shadow hand."

He smirks. "You know, I do too."

I pull at one of my ponytails. "You're taking me out to eat."

He shrugs. "Troublesome, but for you, I'm okay with it."

"But you're paying this time. Ino cleaned me out."

He raises an eyebrow at me. "I thought you were rich?"

"I don't carry all my money with me, baka."

"I'm sorry about your brother, by the way."

I shrug. "Meh, no big deal."

He's absolutely the most delicious looking man I've laid eyes on. Even better, he's more than just delicious. He's kind, intelligent, and just a tad bit conniving. Mm. Now he really was gorgeous.

Ino had to be stupid not to have picked him up.

I lean forward and kiss him again.

I could do that forever.

A/N: Well this is my first time trying out my hand at first-person writing. What do you guys think? Do I write better in third or in first?

Gah! Someone save me. I'm actually --insert gag and shocked expression here-- tempted to write a ShikaIno. Save me! Don't let the idea fester in my head! (For those who don't know, I despise the ShikaIno pairing.) I'm not thinking clearly. I need chocolate or-or AH!