Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or anything associated with Naruto, so please, Mr. Kishimoto--don't sue me!
A/N: First Fanfic, total TemaXShika. This is just the beginning, and there will be more...You can read and review if you like, but please no flamage.
Chapter 1: Logical Decisions
He had to admit Temari was good at Shogi. Shikamaru looked up from the board, silently admiring her latest tactic. He could see it, of course. His mind made the connections, sifted through every possible option she had, and interpreted whether her moves were panic or strategically based. Definitely the later. All her moves were deliberate and precise.
The corner of his mouth lifted. She was an excellent opponent.
But he was better—even with her largely distracting presence.
Three moves later, the game was over. He suppressed to grin as she stared at the board. When she lifted her large, beautiful eyes to his, Shikamaru raised an eyebrow. "Do you want a rematch?"
Her own brow arched in response. When she spoke, her voice rolled over him like a warm, intoxicating purr. "Maybe tomorrow." She lifted her arms high above her head and bent backwards, stretching sensuously like a cat. "We've spent all evening on this one game."
Shikamaru reached back to rub at his neck, his eyes raking briefly over her chest and shoulders before coming to rest on her lips. "Hn. It certainly chilled you out."
She yawned and laid back on the wooden porch, folding her arms beneath her head. A wry grin turned her lips as she gazed upwards at the darkening sky. "There you go, complaining once again. You should be grateful for such congenial company."
He snorted. Congenial? Is that really what she considered her horrific behavior today? From breakfast until noon, she'd been a virtual dragon to be around, snapping at him for every little thing he did.
Shikamaru, are you deaf? I said I didn't want your opinion.
Shikamaru, you lazy ass! This is no time for napping. We meet the council in ten minutes!
"—are you even listening?"
He blinked. "No, not really."
A storm gathered in her eyes and she bared her teeth at him. "You good-for-nothing…" Her words died as in one quick motion, she pulled the pillow from under her bottom and slung it him.
He casually caught the pillow set it aside. "What were you saying?"
She pushed herself upright and crossed her arms. Her expression suspiciously resembled a pout despite the irritation in her eyes. "Forget it. You obviously have little interest in anything but a stupid Shogi game."
He frowned. This wasn't the Temari he knew. His Temari didn't sulk. The woman felt the very action was weak and beneath her. Shikamaru knew this because she'd once told him months ago during one of her visits when she'd witness Ino throw a bit of a tantrum.
Temari pushed herself off the porch. Her voice was clipped and sharp as she said, "I know my way back to the embassy house. There's no need to escort me."
As she turned away, Shikamaru jumped down to follow her. Now he knew something was wrong. She only dismissed him like that when she was upset. "I'm assigned to you, Temari—as troublesome as it is. I can't let you walk by yourself."
She flashed him a dark look, but said nothing else as they walked through the village. With every step, the strained silence grew between them. As they rounded a corner, Shikamaru wrapped his fingers around her arm.
"Tell me," he said, pulling her to a darkened alleyway, "what's really going on, Temari? Silence doesn't become you." It really didn't. She was flame and fire, always bold and outspoken. Shikamaru actually preferred her brash attitude in comparison to her pensiveness—just typically not to the extent she'd carried it today.
She sighed and turned to face him, her eyes glittering in faint light. "Sometimes I think you'd rather not be my guide," she said quietly. "That I'm truly a pain in your ass."
His brow furrowed. No, that wasn't it—it couldn't be. Shikamaru had called her a pain in the ass several times and would also admit to having informed her that he'd rather be watching clouds or gazing at the stars than be in her company. Yet each time he'd said this, Temari had grinned wickedly and said, Suck it up, cry baby. It was just their relationship—a sadistic form of foreplay, teasing and insults. She was a troublesome woman, and he was a complainer.
"Yes on both accounts."
She punched him in the shoulder. Hard.
"Ow," Shikamaru said as he rubbed his shoulder. "Jeeze. You know I'm only joking."
He saw her lips twitch in the moonlight. "Oh, suck it up. I didn't hit you hard."
"I'll be bruised by morning."
She snorted, but there was a hint of laughter to her voice. "Wimp."
He smiled secretly. "Seriously. What's your problem?"
Temari lowered her voice to whisper. "I…I don't…"
"Jeeze, Temari—just spit it out." Shikamaru shoved his hands in his pockets as he stared down at her.
She poked him in the chest. "You've rubbed off on me. You're laziness is contagious! Do you know I've actually laid back to watch the clouds in my home village?" She held up four fingers. "I wasted four hours of my time!"
She was dodging the issue. He raised an eyebrow, and asked, "And there's a problem with this?"
"Of course there is," she shot back and held out her hands. "I no longer satisfied--and this is what I said earlier while you so rudely ignored me—with living in the dirt."
"So that's why you've taken every assignment in relation to the Leaf to come here," Shikamaru confirmed. "You would rather be here. Are you thinking of turning your back on Suna?"
He heard her inhale sharply in response and immediately regretted his words.
"I am loyal to the Sand."
"I didn't mean it like that," he amended.
"Baka," she whispered. "You've a real way with words."
Shikamaru sighed heavily. His gaze roved her over face, admiring her features in the faint light.
She moved backwards, further into the shadows. "I think this is going to be my last visit."
Her voice, though soft and strained, echoed back to Shikamaru. No! His stomach twisted and his vision rolled. His fists clenched as panic shortened his breath. "What about the Chuunin exams?"
He snorted. "Don't be a coward."
"Look who's talking," Temari snapped.
Shikamaru shrugged his shoulders, but he couldn't stave off his glower. "I'm not the one with the problem, here. You are." He stalked her, pushing her further into the inky shadows. "It's a mission—keep yourself separated." Her words from years past drifted back to him. He paused and then said, "You've been through psychological training, right?"
She growled in response. "It's not that easy—and this hasn't been like the other missions."
Shikamaru raised both brows. "How so?"
She was silent for another long moment before she softly confessed, "I like you, Shikamaru."
He smiled in the darkness. "Then don't stop coming to see me."
"No," she breathed. "I don't think you understand. I really…like you."
His heart froze, then tripled in beat. Temari liked him—and judging from her insinuation and behavior, it wasn't exactly a plutonic attachment. That fact pleased Shikamaru to no end. Hell, he'd been struggling with his attraction to her for years now. He'd ignored the issue at first, desperately telling himself it was nothing more than teenage hormones and he had no interest whatsoever in a bossy bitch. But when he found himself seeking Temari out above and beyond his mission as her guide, enjoying her company and witty barbs, it had been impossible to deny his growing fascination.
In time, fascination had blossomed into an obsession.
And from obsession to deep affection.
Of course, he'd never admitted this to anyone. She was a mission first, a friend second, and his obsession third. He'd never jeopardize a mission and never betray a friend with lust.
It never occurred to him that his bold, brash Temari was having the same problem. The difference was, she had said something and was willing to extract herself from the situation—from him—before it became a major liability. His heart squeezed and his lips twisted into a frown. It made perfect sense. It was just too bad he didn't appreciate it. He inhaled deeply, savoring her musky scent, and moved closer.
"I can't…If I keep coming here—"
"No," Shikamaru said softly. "I understand perfectly. It's the rational thing to do." A strange mixture of disappointment and relief crossed her features. Had she been worried that he'd fight it, as he had the one time she'd considered another guide? That he'd trick her into staying in her position? That he'd figure out a way to keep torturing them both with a mutual, un-obtainable desire?
Of course, he was going to fight her decision. Giving her up was not an option.
"Are you departing at your scheduled date?" His eyes roamed her shadowed features, noting the faint glistening of her eyes and the slight thrust of her lower lip.
"That's still my plan." Her voice was husky, unusually quiet.
Shikamaru resisted the urge to pull Temari into his arms. A move like that might move her leaving up a day or two, and he needed every single moment persuade her to change her mind. Instead, he reached for her hand, tracing a finger lightly across her pinky. Her hand moved against his, intertwining their fingers, and he felt his throat tighten. "You're such a pain in the rear," he whispered.
She chuckled as she squeezed his hand. "You're a bum." Her voice wavered, betraying her upset.
Shikamaru smirked, hiding the desperation surging underneath the surface. "Bossy."
"Slob." Her voice grew much stronger as he lured her into the comfort zone of insult sparing.
"You suck," she said in a sing-song tone. "Baka."
"Hey, that's two insults," he objected. "Cheater."
"Beauty school reject."
Temari glared at him, releasing his hand. "Jerk."
"Bitch." In the next breath, "You want to get a drink?"
"Only if you're paying," she said haughtily.
A/N: I know it's a little abrupt ending for the first chapter. Sorry!