Shikamaru hated sand.

No, he detested sand.

He hated the stupid little bits of brown, yellow, red, gold, orange, cream, and bronze. He hated that whenever he came to Suna, he couldn't take one step without the stupid thing getting all over his clothes, sometimes inside his clothes, and always inside his shoes. It got in his hair, in his eyes, in-between his fingers; it even got in his mouth. Sand was a horrid thing.

Suna was a horrid thing.

The only remotely good thing about Suna was Temari.

What was so attractive about this whole scenery anyway? It was…ugly. It was ugly and troublesome.

Temari, of course, disagreed. She protested that there was a beauty in the sand that he couldn't see because he was fixated on the wretched greenness of his own village. She called the green of Konoha stifling and suffocating. She called it over-attentive and begging for acknowledgement. The browns and golds of Suna were subtle and satisfied. They needed no justification or cluttersome adornment; they were just magnificent on their own. At least, that's what she said.

He thought she was full of it.

He trudged through the sand, bothered by it, but used to it.

Temari walked beside him, her eyes drawn to the sky in contemplation.

He could say one thing about Suna, the clouds weren't bad.

There were some days that all there was in the blue sky was bothersome wisps, but there were some days the clouds were just…perfect. Better than in Konoha.

"I've come to a conclusion, Nara." She said suddenly.

Shikamaru raised an eyebrow at the irked blonde woman. "Good to know."

She pursed her lips and glared at him.

Shikamaru chose to ignore her glare, and continued walking.

Temari scowled. "Aren't you going to ask what it is?"

"You'll tell me what it is even if I don't ask."

Her fingers dug into his shoulder and pulled him back. "Would you quit walking? I have a serious problem."

He swayed a bit at her forceful pull; he took a second to steady himself and Temari's fingers released her grip on him. He turned over to look at the blonde woman. "You said you came to a conclusion. That would mean you don't have a problem because you already have the answer."

Her green eyes were narrowed. "Stop that."

"Stop what?"

"That tricking me with my own word thing, I want to be serious."

He yawned. In actuality he was more than just a little bit concerned. Temari usually enjoyed the 'word thing'; in fact, she was the one who got him to do it. Such a thing had previously been too troublesome for him. He did it now just because he found it fun to argue with her. He found it amusing to get her riled up. Stupid, right? "Alright, woman, I'm listening."

"Call me by my name." She ordered.


"Call me by my name."

The loud buzzing of the village was prevalent as it always was. He still found it odd that her village seemed much louder than his own, but strikingly more quiet than his own as well. There were areas of beautiful silence and other areas of comforting useless noise. The sun droned and pulsated strongly, striking over her hair and hitting him square in the face. If he wasn't so used to the sun, he'd been willing to say that her recent demand was just a hallucination of the harsh light. "Why?"

"Just do it." She said irritatingly.

In Konoha, Temari was beautiful. She was a startling contrast to the softness, and roundness, and green. She seemed to stand out like a diamond among coal. In Suna, Temari was ravishing. She didn't just stand out – she glowed. A prize among prizes. "Temari."

Her lips twisted into a thoughtful expression. Her shining green eyes closed then and she breathed in deeply and slowly.

Shikamaru stood there waiting for her response.

She opened her eyes again. "Good."

He titled his head to the side. She was peculiar, but in a very interesting way. "Your conclusion?"

"When I die, life will go on."

He quirked up an eyebrow. "Is that really so shocking to you?"

"Oh, shut it, genius." She scowled. "There's a difference between knowing and believing, you know."

He supposed she had a point. Knowing that one day you would die and that the life of others would still go on was one thing, believing it was quite another. "So….?"

"So, if, one day I'm going to die and whatever mark I leave will probably fade promptly, then I just realize, I ought to have some fun while I'm alive. I only get to live on earth once." She paused. "At least, I think so. I mean, who really knows what comes after. But assuming, that this one life – on earth mind you, I'm excluding possibilities of afterlife in this statement: heaven, hell, and rebirth." She gave him a pointed look. One that clearly meant 'don't argue with me'. He complied to her silent demand and kept his mouth shut. "As I was saying, assuming I only get this one life, then I might as well have fun. Do something I really want and love while I'm at it. Forget society's rules."

"You care about society's rules?" He joked.

"Shut up. I'm not finished."

"Okay, okay. Continue."

She lifted her hand to her necklace and played with it a bit nervously. "And I sat down to think about it. About what I'd really like to do, if this were the only life I'd get. There were a couple of things to be honest, but only one really important thing that I think I'd hate to not do…"

He waited patiently for her to continue.

She was staring at the sand, digging her foot into the warm red grains. In a second flat, her feet shifted back into a straightened position and her hand dropped from her necklace. Her sharp glimmering eyes looked intensely at him. "I'm in love with you."

Shikamaru had always thought people called him a genius on wrong associations. Surely he couldn't really be a genius of any sorts, smart maybe, but no genius. Later, when he recalled this situation, he would feel a bit smug and content at realizing they really had been wrong all this time. Because at that very moment, not a single coherent thought passed through his supposedly superior mind.

"Are you going to say something, or just stand there like an idiot with your mouth agape?" She questioned in irritation.

Even when she spilled her heart out, the damn woman did everything with such an air of superiority. "I thought…I thought you s-said there's only one thing you'd hate not to d-do…?" Shikamaru blinked repeatedly.

"That was it." She said like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

Now, Temari, she was intelligent. She might not have accumulated random facts stored in her mind like he did, but she knew things. She knew how to act and what to say, and he'd yet to see her lose her footing. Not that he hadn't tried; he'd just never been able to pull it off. "That wasn't doing; that was saying."

Her lips pursed.

She was magnificently beautiful, but he'd only ever really noticed that after he noticed her. Shikamaru didn't really pay attention to how the female population looked, just how they were. Ino was nice, but she was irritating quite a lot of the time. Sakura was caring, but too loud and…Ino-like. Hinata was sweet, but too demure. Tenten was confident, but too cheery. Temari was rough, sure, independent, caring, kind, opinionated, smart, sincere, and self-assured. He'd always tried to find a flaw in her, one that disturbed him a lot, but never managed to, and in failing to find something that bothered him enough to brush her off, began to notice everything that enticed him. And that was just…absolutely everything about this woman. Every word, every curve, every emotion, every step, every touch. He was intoxicated by all of it. He adored every troublesome aspect about her.

He just never thought he'd do anything about it.

Too much trouble.

It would never work out.

And she didn't see him that way anyway.

"Fine; I'll do something." In a movement too swift for him to realize, she'd removed her fan from her back and swung the unopened iron at his feet.

He collapsed to the floor ungracefully, sand swirling up around him creating a cloud circling around them. Before the dust had even begun to settle, he felt her drop onto his chest. Temari was sitting on his chest her legs on either side of him.

Shikamaru tried to think, but found his mind was once more, very much blank.

Temari slowly leaned down, the sand floating above mingling around her causing the bright sun to glint off of it. The combined effects of the shimmering particles circling around her and the sun glinting off her golden hair made her seem surreal and oh-so gorgeous.

Her lips pressed against his.

His heart stopped. Thinking still was impossible, but he was most certainly responding to her kiss.

All the gold and yellow and awful brightness mingled into the air horribly and ingrained into his mind, in his heart, in his soul.

She pulled away, "There. I did something."

There was no smirk on her lips. No smile. No cocky grin. There was uncertainty in her emerald eyes and a wary expression on her lips. Also, a blush on her cheeks and sand sprinkled across her tanned skin.

"So?" She prompted.

"Am I supposed to say something?"

She huffed and straightened, but did not move from off his chest. "It would help."

"Help what?"

"Help me figure out to see if I've accomplished what I want, or if I have to try harder." She looked pointedly down at him. "I won't give up so easy you know.

"W-What is that you w-want?"

Her eyebrows creased together. "Why are you stuttering?"

"I believe I asked a question first." His heart was beating loudly, but thankfully his brain seemed to be starting up again, though by the expression on her face, he had the distinct impression that he was ruining the moment.

"I love you. What do you think I want?"

"What I think you want doesn't matter. What matters is what you—"

"Stop." She scowled. "Nara, how do you feel about me?"

He swallowed. "I…I feel…" His brain was processing events and moments repeatedly in his head. "Say my name, Temari."


"Is that so unreasonable of a request?"

She frowned in confusion. "Are you–?" She shrugged. "Shikamaru." She said his name with finite clarity; the word rolled off her lips with such a fluid air and grace. Her eyebrows drew together. She repeated his name. She said it again and again and again. It didn't seem to be so much for him, but for her. She rolled the letters around in her mouth, and each time it came out it sounded just a little bit different. Her eyes glinted happily and her lips widened into a large smile. "Shikamaru." Her expression was gleeful and satisfied.

He looked up at the golden haired goddess. She was infinitely beautiful. And he loved spending time with her. He'd give up his life for her. He'd give up a lot for her. When he thought of her he always smiled. When he worried for her his chest twisted horribly. Just seeing her lifted his mood. He trusted her. Wholly trusted her. "Temari?"

She looked down at him.

"I love you too."

And it was true.

"You have a point." He continued. "If I'm going to die. And life will go on, if I can't live again, if…if this is it, then…I can't let you pass me by. Troublesome as it may be."

She smirked. "I'm glad you feel that way, because really, when I come to a conclusion, I'm pretty stubborn. One way or another, I was going to get my way."

The sand still mingled in the air, and the wretched sun still glimmered off the particles and glimmered off her golden hair, glimmered off her bronzed skin. He thought about it, and the more he thought, the more he realized, he liked the sun. He liked the sand. He liked – no, loved – her. And he liked Suna.

Grains of sand never looked more beautiful.

A/N: That last line was said to me once in a review. I can't for the life of me remember who reviewed or what story it was, but I remember as I read it that I thought it was so beautiful. I hope (whoever it was) you don't mind me using it in this fic.