So this was written for my main ho, Andy, better known 'round these parts as Paperbutterfly7. If you're a ShikaTema fan, you've probably read her story A Nameless Fic Because Shikamaru Said So.

I'd like to say that I wrote this purely out of my love for her (and believe, I have a lot of it), but the sad truth is that she shamelessly guilt-tripped me into writing it. As I am not generally a ShikaTema fan, you can blame her for this mess of a story.

Please try to enjoy!


The clouds pass a little faster, and there are footsteps behind him.

His mind puts two and two together quickly, as it always does. His brilliant, beautiful mind; his wonderful mind, which failed him when he needed it the most; his mind, which is God's gift to him.

(It's in the name of a god that his teacher was taken away from him. Jashin can rot in His own hell for all he cares - he has no god now, and maybe never did.)

"Stop it," he commands of the woman behind him, not even sparing her a glance as he does so.

Temari, resting on her fan, raises an eyebrow at him. She's come to accept that he has a brain that far surpasses her own, that this boy - this child of a mere sixteen years - is able to understand things that she simply never will. But Temari doesn't have the ability to look into other people's minds (perhaps, she thinks derisively, that he's mistaken her for that Ino girl), and thus doesn't automatically know what he thinks. "Stop what?" she asks dully.

"The wind," Shikamaru replies moodily, stretching his legs out on the grass under him. "It's making the clouds move too fast, and I know you're doing it. You're the only one with wind as your element who would be so troublesome." Then, to the side, he murmurs, "Why do you always bring a storm with you?"

Temari knows Shikamaru didn't mean for her to hear that last part, but like he said himself, wind is Temari's element, and she knows how to make it carry sound. She doesn't know what he meant by it, though, and doesn't particularly want to think about it. Instead, glaring at the object in his mouth, she smartly says, "What can I say? I hate the smell of smoke," and in one clean motion, lifts her fan and brings it down swiftly across her body.

Shikamaru bites down hard on the cigarette between his teeth as the gales of wind cascade over him. The built-up, neglected ash on the end collapses in a pile on the grass next to him.

He spits out the butt, finds a new cigarette from the depths of one of his many pockets, and lights it.

"That's a nasty habit you picked up," Temari scolds as she eases herself down to sit to his left. He doesn't look at her, and she knows he's pissed, so she hesitates with what she wants to say next. But Temari has never been a subtle girl, and she doesn't see why she should start now, just because of a little tragedy - she's had enough of her own, and she's gotten on just fine. "Did you get it from... him?"

It shouldn't - doesn't - surprise Shikamaru that Suna's been informed of Asuma's death, considering how close the two villages are, and that the death of a jounin is usually a big deal. Even more so is the fact that he is Konoha's liaison to Suna, where Temari is is Suna's to Konoha. Still, the topic of his deceased teacher is one that Shikamaru had been trying to avoid, just because it still stings so much. It should've realized how futile that was. "Yeah, I guess," he says eventually, shrugging nonchalantly. It's an awkward movement on the ground, his shirt staining green and brown as his shoulder blades drag on the grass beneath him. "But it was bound to happen eventually," he finishes, and rolls onto his side.

"What is that supposed to mean?" Temari asks his back, which is now facing her. She's beginning to get frustrated with him, but she realizes how delicate the situation is and tries to keep her anger in check.

"It means that maybe it was about time for me to grow up."

"Hey," she placates, punching his arm lightly. When he makes no sign of responding, she punches him harder. "Hey, come on." Eventually, he reluctantly turns to face her with a grumble, the smoke from his cigarette wafting into her face. She wrinkles her nose in disdain, but tries her hardest to be sympathetic. "You should take a nap," she finally suggests. He likes naps, right? Maybe one would make him feel a little better.

Shikamaru moves his face toward the sky and exhales through his nose as he shakes his head. The smoke makes his nasal passage burn and his short ponytail causes his neck to rest at an uncomfortable angle, but he barely notices the pain from either. "I can't sleep," he tells her frankly, and presses on his palms to raise himself into a sitting position, turning back down to look at her. "I've tried," and for the first time Temari notices the dark bags under his eyes and the pallor of his skin. After so many years with Gaara, she wonders how she missed such obvious signs of insomnia. "For the first time in my life, I feel truly awake." He spits out the dying butt of his current cigarette.

There's a distant look in Shikamaru's eyes that Temari doesn't like. "I don't get it," she informs him slowly.

"Of course you don't!" he snarls back ferociously. "How could you possibly even think that you could begin to understand? You're just a troublesome woman, what do you know about losing a mentor? What do you know about how it feels to not be sure if... if..." He cuts off, and Temari holds her breath, looking up at him expectantly.

Then Shikamaru kisses her.

He tastes cigarette black: black like smoke, black like ash, black like tar. It's far from the best kiss Temari has ever been on the receiving end of, and she knows that there will be a nasty aftertaste in her mouth when it's done, but there's a desperation in his actions, so she lies there and allows him to do what he wishes.

Shikamaru places one hand on her arm and feels the flesh beneath his fingers. His other hand he puts on her neck, digits prodding gently at her jugular, searching for the pounding pulse of the blood flowing underneath. His tongue finds its way into her mouth, feeling the solid hardness of her teeth and the smooth muscle of her tongue. It's not romantic, and it's not arousing, but it feels real, and more importantly, she feels alive.

Shikamaru pulls back suddenly, gasping for air. He's dizzy, oxygen-deprived; the world swims before his eyes. He looks down at her, at them, and notices that their position is awkward at best, with him half straddling Temari and his hands on either side of her head. He takes a few calming breaths to get himself back under control and to hopefully stop the jelly-like feeling in all the muscles in his body.

It doesn't work, and he collapses on top of her.

Temari grunts from the added weight and raises a hand to smack him, because his face is buried right in her cleavage, and really, that's just indecent, but a warm, wet sensation on her chest makes her pause. When she realizes a second later that he's crying, she instead brings her arm down slowly, gently onto his back and rubs it in what she prays is a comforting gesture.

"You have no idea what it's like to not know if the people you care about are okay," he sobs, and his voice is muffled by the skin beneath his mouth. Temari thinks briefly of Gaara and his precious people as Shikamaru turns his head to the side, his left ear right over her heart. "But I know you are. Everything about you feels so alive."

All Temari says is, "I know," and hugs Shikamaru tight to her chest.

The clouds pass a little slower, and there is a heartbeat underneath him.


Andy, I swear to God, you better appreciate this.

Comments and Criticism make the authoress happy in her pantalones!

-Insidiae-