Walt Disney and GothicDancer proudly present:
Walt Disney and Gothic Dancer proudly present:
Temari as Pocahontas
"Father, I promise that I'll be okay. I am traveling with Shikamaru Nara, you know. I'll be fine!"
A large man looked down at his son and sighed. He placed his hands on the boy's shoulders. "Okay, I won't stop you if you really want to go," he sighed. "Just be safe, Chouji. Come home to us in one piece."
Several men were out on the docks of a large harbor, loading crates full of supplies onto a giant ship. Some of the men boarded the vessel and fixed it up for its first grand voyage. As soon as everything was packed, a young lady smashed a wine bottle against the bow, and the ship was off.
That night, there was a violent storm at sea. All the sailors and crewmen worked together to try to stabilize the ship, but the waves were too powerful. At one point, one of the men fell.
"MAN OVERBOARD!!" the men called out. They scurried about the deck, trying to find some way to save their poor comrade, but the seas were too strong. No one dared to dive into the raging waters.
However, there was one man on deck who was either very brave or very crazy. He grabbed a long rope, tied it around both himself and a sturdy part of the ship, and dove into the water. He swam about the depths until his fellow sailor was in sight. He quickly grabbed him and resurfaced to get some air. Once the other man on board saw the two of them in the water, they hoisted them back onto the boat.
Once they were safe, the storm started to die down until it was just rain. The two men coughed to regain their breath while their shipmates fetched blankets and tea.
"What's going on out here?" a tall man asked as he emerged from the captain's quarters. Immediately, a blond girl came up behind him with an umbrella and a pig in her arms. "Is there trouble?"
"Ah, it's nothing," the savior replied. "Young Chouji just fell overboard."
"You were amazing out there, Shikamaru!" Chouji cried, crawling up to the man. "Thank you so much! You saved my life!"
"Alright, that's enough," the tall man with the umbrella interrupted. "Let's all get some sleep tonight. We'll be in the new world soon. I want you all rested so we can settle down and get to work."
The crewmen saluted. "Yes, Captain Asuma!"
Chouji scratched the back of his head as Shikamaru helped him stand. "I really am thankful, you know," he murmured.
Shikamaru smiled. "Don't worry about it. You're just starting out."
"So what do you think this new world will look like?"
"I've been all over the place, Chouji. I don't think it'll be any different from the others."
Meanwhile, a group of people, who looked quite different from Shikamaru and his men, marched along a path in the sunlight. "Hey, huh, hey, huh, steady as the beating drum…" they chanted as they walked in straight lines. Eventually, they made it to a pass where a redhead was coming towards them on a cart-like contraption. As soon as he met with the others, they all cheered. An elderly man greeted the redhead as he hopped off the cart.
"It's great to see you, Gaara," the man announced. "It's been too long."
"Yes, it has," Gaara agreed. "However, we have successfully conquered our enemies. We will all sleep safely tonight." The crowd cheered as their leader waved. He looked about the crowd. "All these happy faces…but there is one face I don't see. Ebizou, where's my sister?"
The elderly man laughed. "You know how Temari is. She goes wherever the wind takes her."
"TEMARI!!" a young girl called from a boat at the base of a waterfall. "Get down here!! Your brother has come back!"
A blond girl with four ponytails at the top of the waterfall grinned when she heard the news. "Did you hear that, Shukaku, Kamatari? He's back!" Temari ran into the forest to climb down the waterfall's cliffs, but then she thought of a quicker and easier way. She ran to the edge of the cliff and jumped off, falling directly into the water. Shukaku, her tanuki friend, and Kamatari, her ferret friend, followed.
The girl in the boat twitched. "I DIDN'T MEAN THAT WAY!!" she shouted. Unfortunately, she wasn't given too much time to think. Temari flipped her boat over, and she landed in the water, too. She groaned as she surfaced underneath the boat with her friend, who was giggling like crazy. "Don't you think we're a little old for games like this, Temari?"
The blonde giggled. "No, you're just a spoil-sport, Matsuri."
Later, the two girls met up with everyone in the village. Matsuri chatted among her other friends while Temari went straight to her brother's residence. "Gaara!" she called as soon as she entered. "You're home!" She ran up to the little redhead and gave him a hug. "I missed you while you were gone."
"I missed you, too, Temari," the brother replied, almost chuckling. "I have a very important issue to discuss though. It is almost time for you to come of age. That means that it is time you married."
Temari frowned. "Who do you propose?"
"Well," Gaara began, "I think we should keep the bloodline pure."
"I think you should marry Kankuro."
Temari almost dropped to the floor. "But he's our BROTHER!!" she squeaked, trying to steady herself. "There's no way I'm doing that!"
"It's either him or me." He pulled a blue necklace out of his pocket and tied it onto his sister's neck. "It's an engagement necklace. Mother wore it when she married Father."
Temari's jaw dropped. This was NOT happening.
"I'll give you some time to consider," Gaara sighed, opening his front door, signaling his sister to leave. "Just remember that we all must marry within our clan. Anyone outside is forbidden." Temari scowled as she left the building. THAT sure had dampened her mood.
On her way towards the river, the blonde passed by her other brother. Kankuro, dressed entirely in black, was having purple war symbols tattooed on his face. Temari cringed. Sure, she loved her brothers with all her heart, but how could they possibly expect her to MARRY one of them? She quickly turned away from the man and continued towards the river, Shukaku and Kamatari following closely behind.
"I guess that Gaara wants me to be steady," she murmured to herself as she gazed at her reflection. "Intermarrying would make the bloodline steady, but is there anything in this world that really stays steady?" She watched as a fish splashed the water and giggled. "Nothing's steady in this world!" She quickly hopped into a nearby boat with Shukaku and Kamatari and headed down the river, humming to herself along the way. "I wonder what's waiting around the river bend…" she whispered to herself. "All my dreaming can't be over…"
Eventually, Temari came up to a dark yet beautiful area with plenty of animals and plants. A large tree grew in the center of the little oasis, and Temari docked her boat next to it. She quickly climbed the trunk until she made it to a little stump. Smiling, she sat upon the stump and softly called, "Grandmother Chiyo…"
The tree twisted and turned until what looked like an old woman's face appeared on the trunk before the stump. "Ah, Temari," it spoke, "it's nice to see you again." It smiled. "What can I do for you, Dear?"
"Well," Temari sighed, "I've been having this strange dream lately."
"I'm running through the forest, and, all of a sudden, an arrow appears before me. It starts spinning and spinning…faster and faster…until suddenly, it stops!" Temari smiled. "I've been thinking that it's trying to tell me something. Maybe it's pointing me towards my path."
Chiyo nodded. "Yes, I think so, too."
Temari suddenly frowned. "But I might have to ignore it. Gaara wants me to marry. More specifically, he wants me to intermarry, and he wants me to marry Kankuro."
Chiyo's eyes widened. "But he's your brother! Gaara can't possibly expect you to marry your own brother!" She paused and suddenly smiled. "I think you should ask the spirits of our land about your path. They should know! Just listen."
Temari closed her eyes. "I don't hear anything."
The tree began humming. "Listen with your heart," it insisted. "You will understand."
Temari concentrated on the sounds around her, and the wind soon began blowing. The young girl felt a chill go up her spine, but she could hear something deep within her. "Something's coming!" she suddenly cried. "I can feel it! The spirits…they're telling me that clouds are coming. The clouds will bring something new!" Her eyes snapped open, and she scrambled her way up the tree to get a better look.
"What do you see?" Chiyo asked.
Temari stared into the distance. "I see clouds," she murmured. "I see strange clouds…"
What Temari didn't know was that the "clouds" were actually the sails of a ship. As soon as the ship docked, the sailors threw the anchor into the water and set foot on the new land. Asuma walked down to the center of the shore and stabbed a flag into the sand.
"I claim this land in the name of our leader Sarutobi!" he announced. The men cheered and soon began unloading the ship. Chouji followed Shikamaru down onto the land but soon lost sight of him.
Shikamaru had run up towards a nearby small cliff. Chouji spotted him and ran towards the cliff. "What are you doing up there?" he asked.
Shikamaru grinned. "I'm just getting a better look!" He stood on the edge of the cliff and looked out at the land before him. "Wow," he whispered, "this place is beautiful." He shoved his hands into his pockets. "And I thought I wouldn't want to come. When Asuma told me about this trip, I thought it would be way too troublesome." He turned to see a bush area behind him. Suddenly, Shukaku popped out. Temari gasped quietly from beyond the bushes but not loud enough for the stranger to hear.
Shukaku made a few little noises until Shikamaru smiled softly. "Hello there," he greeted. "You hungry?" He opened up his pouch and handed the tanuki some food. "It's a biscuit," he explained. He watched as the little animal munched on it and laughed. "You like it? Well, try eating it for weeks." He groaned. "I NEVER want to eat Ino's 'Kitchen Sink Stew' EVER again." He watched as Shukaku waved the food in his claws towards the bush. Shikamaru perked up. "You got a friend back there?"
Suddenly, Kamatari jumped out of the bush and scurried around Shikamaru's feet, attempting to bite him. From the bush, Temari groaned quietly.
"Shikamaru!" Chouji called. "Asuma wants to see you!"
"Yeah, okay," Shikamaru replied. He frowned at the ferret. "You seem to be the exact opposite of your friend there." He snorted and climbed down the cliff towards his leader. "Yes, Asuma, what is it?"
"I want you to be in charge of looking for savages," the man explained, handing his subordinate a gun. "Go scout out the area to make sure that there are none out there."
Shikamaru nodded and took the gun. "I will, Sir." Once he was gone, Asuma turned to the rest of his men and grinned.
"And the rest of you have a VERY special assignment." He handed them all shovels and picks and pulled a map out of his back pocket. "You all are going to be digging. These spots here show where other explorers found gold." He pointed to several black marks on the page. "Now WE will join them!" He grabbed a gun from a nearby barrel and shot it in the air. "BEGIN!!"
The men quickly went to work digging up the ground. Asuma smiled contently as his assistant, the blond girl Ino, brought him something to eat. "I can't wait!" she cried. "I want some gold for myself!"
Asuma nodded but smirked as soon as the girl turned away. "No way," he said to himself. "It's MINE." He looked up into the forest area but saw something he wasn't expecting so soon. "SAVAGES!!" he cried.
All the men stopped their digging and immediately grabbed their guns and pistols. The "savages," Gaara's villagers, realized that these strangers wanted battle, so they quickly pulled out their own weapons and fired. Before anyone knew it, there was a small war until one of the native men was shot. He fell to the ground and grabbed his leg, writhing in pain. The others quickly grabbed him and brought him back towards their village retreating for the time being. Once they saw that they were gone, Asuma's men cheered.
One was left out of the loop though, and poor, confused Chouji accidentally shot towards Asuma in all the panic. Asuma quickly ducked and watched as the bullet hit the sand near him. He looked up and glared at Chouji, who was almost on the verge of tears.
"IDIOT!!" Asuma roared, stomping over to Chouji. "You could have killed me! Learn how to shoot that thing properly! You're not a man until you can!"
Back at the center of the village, the soldiers brought their injured comrade to Ebizou to see if he could do anything about it. The elderly man examined the gunshot wound and shook his head. "This wound is foreign to me," he announced. "I can't do anything about it."
The villagers gasped and sobbed, mourning the coming death of their soldier. Gaara stood in the corner, an angry look on his face. "Ebizou," he began, "what do you know of these strangers? Anything?"
The old man took some special sand from his sack and threw it into the fire at the center of the room. "They come from a land far away," he began, "where the weapons are frightening and the people are cruel. They are dangerous. There is no chance of us making peace with them, at least not right now."
Gaara nodded. "That settles it then. NO ONE is to go near these monsters!"
Shikamaru explored the forest. He wasn't so much looking for the natives but more for the adventures he was sure would be out on the land. At one point, he stopped at a river to wash his face but saw something in the reflection of the water. Was it a person? Whatever it was, it was watching him. He quickly splashed the water on his face and hopped along the rocks towards the other side of the river, hiding in the shadows under another small cliff. He prepared his gun as the fog started to gather. The intruder was hopping along the stones, stopping in the middle.
Out of nowhere, Shikamaru jumped out from the shadows and pointed his gun at the person. He paused for a moment to get a good look, but he stopped completely when the fog began to clear. He saw that the person was unarmed. When the gray veil completely cleared, his eyes shot open wide. There, standing on the rock, was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Her tinted skin contrasted sharply with the paleness of the water, but her blonde hair seemed to float along gracefully with the wind. Shikamaru was frozen. He could not take his eyes off this beauty.
Daringly, he decided to hop a rock closer towards the stranger. The woman panicked and ran off in the other direction. Shikamaru twitched and ran after her. "Wait a second!" he cried. "I'm not going to hurt you, I promise! I just want to talk!" He scrambled after her and followed her down a path until he saw her get a small boat at the edge of another riverbank. He suddenly grabbed the end of the boat to keep it from going out onto the water. "Wait a moment…please."
The woman said something in another language. Shikamaru frowned. "You can't understand a word I'm saying, can you?" He paused and held out his hand. "I swear I will not hurt you. It's okay, really. You have nothing to be scared of." The woman looked at his hand questioningly but decided to take it anyway. Shikamaru pulled her from the boat and helped her stand. He looked her in the eye. "Who are you?"
The woman closed her eyes as she felt the wind blow again, and she suddenly remembered some very wise words she once heard.
Listen with your heart…
"Temari," the woman said. "My name is Temari."
The man pointed to himself. "My name is Shikamaru Nara."
Quietly, the two sat down on a nearby tree branch, and Shikamaru explained some of his personal items with his new friend. "This is called a helmet." He pointed to the shiny, metal headpiece.
Temari looked at the headpiece. "Huh, that's interesting," she replied. "Oh…we never even said hello." She lifted her arm and made a circle with her palm. "This is how we say hello. We say goodbye the same way."
Shikamaru grinned. "Hold out your hand." Temari hesitated. "It's how we say hello! Give me your hand!" The blond girl held finally held it out, and the brown-haired man shook it. "It's called a handshake."
Suddenly, Shukaku appeared and grabbed something out of Shikamaru's bag. The man gasped and tried to get it away from the tanuki, but the little animal quickly scurried up the tree.
"Shukaku!" Temari scolded. "Give that back!"
"Ah, he can have it," Shikamaru sighed. "It's just a compass anyway. It helps you find your way when you're lost."
After a long moment of silence, Temari took her hand away and asked, "So where did you come from?"
"This place is called Suna." She paused for a moment. "What are you doing here?"
"We're going to bring the things of Konoha to Suna," Shikamaru explained. "We're going to teach you people how to use this land to its fullest potential. We'll improve your homes and food and…"
"But our homes are FINE," Temari spat. "Who do you think you are, trying to change us?"
"Hey, we've improved the lives of savages all over the world."
"SAVAGES?!" Temari frowned angrily and climbed up the remainder of the tree.
"Hey, wait!" Shikamaru insisted. "Don't be like that! Look, I didn't mean anything by it. 'Savages' is just a term we use to describe people!"
"People like me?" Temari hissed, hanging off a tree branch.
"Wait, no," Shikamaru stumbled as he struggled to climb the tree, "that's not what I mean. I mean…I mean people who are…uncivilized…and…" He slipped on a branch and landed on the original stump.
Temari smirked as she met with him on the stump and helped him stand. "What you mean is 'not like you'." She held onto his hands. "You've been all over the place, so I guess that you would know what an ignorant savage is." She paused and looked at his gun. "Still, something tells me that I'm not the savage here." She brought him out to the landscapes. "I know your type," she began again. "You think the only people who are people are the people who look and think like you. Still, have you ever even considered the ideas and opinions of another person? If you REALLY want to experience the world the way it was meant to be, you have to be able to do one thing."
Shikamaru stared at her questioningly. "What?"
"Paint with all the colors of the wind."
Suddenly, drums could be heard. Temari gasped. "Oh, no!" she cried. "The beating of the drums means that there's trouble. I shouldn't be here. I have to go!" She tried to leave, but Shikamaru grabbed her arm.
"Will I see you again?"
Back at the village, Matsuri ran up to Temari in a panic. "There are strangers here!" she shouted. "There are terrible people who have come to invade our lands!" She frowned sadly. "No one is to go near them. No one can even leave the village!"
Temari gasped and ran into her brother's home. "Gaara! Where are you?"
"Temari!" Gaara yelled. "I'm in the middle of a meeting here. We're discussing how we're going to get rid of those intruders." Temari scanned the room and saw many village leaders gathered together. The girl swallowed the lump in her throat.
"What if one of them wanted to talk to you?" she asked.
Gaara sighed. "Then I would gladly talk. However, Temari, right now, I'm busy. Can we discuss this later?"
Back at camp, Chouji was on patrol for any more natives. Shikamaru walked onto the site, and the chubby boy freaked. He held up his gun as if he were prepared to shoot.
"Whoa, calm down!" the superior insisted. "Chouji, it's just me!"
Chouji gasped. "Shikamaru! I could have killed you!"
Shikamaru shook his head. "You wouldn't have like that. When you shoot, keep both eyes open. You'll see better." He grinned. "How is everything here?"
"You missed all the action, Shikamaru!" a sailor named Naruto called. "We had a fight with a bunch of savages, but we beat them back!" He suddenly frowned. "Unfortunately, the gold hunt isn't going well. Captain Asuma isn't happy."
"THIS. IS. BAD."
Asuma quickly scanned his maps. "I don't understand why we haven't found any gold! This is REALLY bad!" He panicked and flipped through his papers. "I don't get it! I should be rich by now!" He groaned and threw his head against the wall. "If I don't come back with something valuable, Sarutobi will NOT be pleased! I won't have any opportunities for a promotion, and one of my rivals will take the jobs! I'm not that well-liked back at home!"
Ino perked up. "I like you!" She went back to scrubbing the pig in the tub. "Hee, let's get you all cleaned up, Tonton!"
Shukaku was looking through the windows at the time, and while Ino's back was turned, he dove into the bath and made Tonton go ballistic. The pig scrambled out of the tub and chased the tanuki…right into the mud. Ino had a blond moment when she realized that the pig was missing.
"THAT'S IT!!" Asuma suddenly shouted. "Those savages! THEY have the gold!"
Temari was quiet throughout the next few days. Matsuri was the first one to notice. "What's wrong with you?" she asked. "Ever since you vanished a few days ago, right when the intruders came, you've been acting really strangely. What's the matter?"
Temari sighed. "Uh, nothing's the matter." She picked an ear of corn from a nearby plant. "I've just got a lot on my mind."
Suddenly, the crops began to move, and Shikamaru appeared behind Temari. Matsuri's eyes widened in pure horror. "Oh…my GOD!!" she cried. "Temari! Look behind you! It's one of THEM!"
Temari whipped her head around and saw her friend. Her face fell. "What are you DOING here?!" she whispered urgently.
Shikamaru shook his head. "I just had to see you again."
Matsuri fell to the ground, her jaw unhinged. Temari glanced at her quickly. "Please don't tell anyone about this!" she begged. Speedily, she grabbed the man and yanked him away from the crops so no one could see them. It was just in time, too, because Kankuro was coming.
"Matsuri," he greeted, "have you seen Temari?" The girl shook her head. Kankuro sighed. "That girl can't keep running off. It's dangerous."
Temari dragged Shikamaru out towards the oasis. "You shouldn't have come to my village!" she exclaimed angrily. "It was too dangerous. What if they had caught you? Then what?!"
Shikamaru shrugged. "I didn't think about that."
Temari shook her head but suddenly smiled. "While we're here, you may as well meet someone." She took the man up towards a tree stump and sat him down. "Now look closely into the bark."
Shikamaru did as he was told and saw a hint of movement in the tree. He blinked a few times but realized he was not dreaming. There was an old woman's face in the tree! It smiled. "Why, hello, Shikamaru Nara."
The man paled. "That tree is talking to me."
Temari giggled. "Then you should talk back."
"What do you say to a talking tree?"
"Anything you want!"
"Hey, come closer," Chiyo insisted, one of her branches reaching out to touch the man. She examined him for a moment and smiled again. "Ah, he's a good one," she confirmed. "He's very smart and strong, and he's handsome, too."
Shikamaru grinned and gestured towards the tree. "Oh, I like her."
Chiyo suddenly frowned. "I feel that something terrible is about to happen," she explained. "The wind is rough."
At that moment, Tonton came rushing through, chasing Shukaku. The two of them met head-on in a battle atop the tree stump until the two people brought them away. "I'd say that would be it," Shikamaru sighed. "Once two sides decide that they want to fight, there's no stopping them."
Chiyo nodded and dipped one of her branches into the water. "It's like the ripples here. They start small but soon grow large."
Shikamaru shook his head. "And it's only worse since I hear we haven't found any gold."
Temari cocked her head. "What's gold?"
"You know…it's yellow and comes from the earth."
"Oh!" The girl pulled an ear of corn from her pack. "This is gold!"
The man shook his head. "No, gold is hard, like this." He pulled a gold coin from his pocket.
Temari examined it. "There's nothing like that here."
Shikamaru's eyes popped. "Nothing? Nothing at all?" Temari shook her head, and the man sighed again. "Well, Asuma won't be happy to hear that. I guess we'll just pack up and go back to Konoha."
There was a long pause. "Will you go, too?" Temari suddenly asked.
Shikamaru shrugged. "Maybe. I've never really fit in anywhere before."
"You could fit in here."
Shikamaru frowned. "Maybe." There was another long pause. "Anyway, I should go back to camp. Chances are good that my fellow men are looking for me. Plus, they have to hear the bad news eventually." He picked up the ear of corn. "This is food, right? Can I bring this along?" Temari nodded. "Thanks. I want to see you here again…tonight." The man quickly nodded, smiled, and ran back towards his camp. His men were there to greet him.
"Where have you been, Shikamaru?" Chouji asked innocently. "We've bee preparing for the fights against the savages. They have all the gold!"
Shikamaru raised an eyebrow. "Who told you that?"
Shikamaru shook his head. "No, there's no gold around here."
Some of the other men noticed the conversation. "There's no gold?" Naruto asked. "Aw, that means we did all this for nothing!" He paused. "Wait a second. Who told you that?"
"One of the natives," Shikamaru replied, pulling the ear of corn from his pack. "I met one of them."
The men gasped. "You MET one?!" Chouji exclaimed. "Really?! What was it like?"
"They know the land, and they can help us settle here." Shikamaru showed them the food. "Look at this. If we become friendly with them, we can all learn from each other. This is something my friend gave me. It's food! Plus, it's WAY better than those crummy biscuit's or Ino's stew." He pulled a few kernels off the corn. "Try it!"
Chouji took the yellow food from his superior and put it in his mouth. His eyes widened. "It's delicious!"
"What is this I hear about no gold?"
The men turned and saw Asuma. He was NOT happy.
"One of the natives told me that there's no gold here," Shikamaru explained.
Asuma snorted. "Yeah, I'm sure." Suddenly, he grinned. "It's all a lie, you know. Those greedy devils are keeping it all for themselves! Otherwise, why would they be trying to keep us away?" The men were silent; the man had a point. "You will all retire to your tents now. Tomorrow, we're going to invade."
A few hours later, once the sun had gone down, Shikamaru emerged from his tent and snuck out of the camp, careful not to be noticed. He quickly hid under the shadows and ran into the forest to make his way to the talking tree.
However, Chouji saw him just as he escaped into the trees. The young man watched him as he left and jumped when he felt a hand on his shoulder. Asuma stood behind him.
Temari was already standing near Chiyo by the time Shikamaru arrived. She smiled when she saw him. "I want you to come back to my village with me," she whispered. "Please? Let's go talk to my brother. Maybe he'll understand if you try to explain what your men are doing here. Then we can avoid fighting."
Shikamaru was silent for a long time but then sighed. "Alright," he agreed. "I know it's going to be extremely troublesome, but we should definitely try talking. You think your brother will understand?"
Temari took a few steps closer towards the man. "I sure hope so."
And they kissed.
From two opposite bushes, people were watching. Kankuro gasped when he saw his sister. There was just no way she loved one of those intruders! They had destroyed their land and killed one of their men! Chouji watched from the other bush and just blushed when he saw the beauty of his superior's native friend. He had had no idea that the person was a pretty girl.
Kankuro suddenly leaped out of the bushes and tackled Shikamaru to the ground. Temari gasped as her brother wrestled with the man and tried her best to stop them. "Don't hurt him, Kankuro!" she begged. "He's a friend of ours! Stop it!" She tried pulling her sibling off the man but to no avail.
Chouji panicked when he saw his friend in danger. Quickly, he loaded his gun and aimed. Remembering wise words from before, he pulled the trigger. "Both…eyes…open…"
A single gunshot went off, and Kankuro fell backwards into the water. He grabbed onto Temari's necklace, and the jewelry shattered. Shikamaru looked up into the bush and saw his comrade there, shaking. Temari placed her ear atop Kankuro's chest. "HE'S DEAD!!" she screamed. She looked towards the murderer. "YOU KILLED HIM!! HE WAS MY BROTHER!!"
Suddenly, several other men jumped out from the bushes and seized Shikamaru. Chouji and Temari watched in horror as the man was bound, gagged, and taken away. A few other men came to bring Kankuro's body back to the village. Temari sobbed as she watched them leave. Before long though, there was someone standing before her. She looked up and saw Matsuri.
"It was my fault," the girl whispered. "I sent Kankuro after you."
Temari dropped her head and bawled. "Now I'll never see Shikamaru Nara again…"
Matsuri shook her head. "No, there is a way you can."
Back at the village, Matsuri brought her friend towards a guarded hut. "Temari wishes to look into the eyes of the man who killed Kankuro," she explained. The guards looked at one another and moved.
"Just make it quick."
Temari ran inside and sat down in front of Shikamaru. The man looked up. "Temari!" he gasped. "I thought I'd never see you again!"
The girl was on the verge of tears. "It would have been better if we had never met," she choked. "None of this would have happened! We wouldn't be going to war, and Kankuro would still be alive!"
Shikamaru suddenly smiled. "Temari, look at me," he commanded. The girl glanced at the man's handsome face. "I would rather die tomorrow than live a hundred years without knowing you. If I never knew you, my life would be incomplete."
"Temari," Matsuri whispered at the entrance of the hut, "it's time to go."
Back at the campsite, Chouji came running in. "Wake up, Everyone!" he cried. "Wake up! It's Shikamaru! He's been captured!" He watched as the men emerged from their tents and scrambled over to the young man. "I watched them! The natives took him away, thinking he had killed one of their men! We have to save him!"
"Oh, we're going to save him alright," Asuma growled. "What did you expect? All of them are disgusting! Their existence alone is a curse. What was I saying this whole time? They're SAVAGES! We must sound the drums of war AND ATTACK AT DAWN!!"
Back at the village, Gaara was standing before a large fire burning in the center of a giant crowd of soldiers. He was silent as he watched Ebizou paint their faces with the purple and red war colors. The elderly man sat Baki, the man who was to replace Kankuro in combat, down to tattoo the colors on his face.
"This is what we feared," Gaara suddenly growled. "They're nothing but demons. All they know is greed!" He ground his teeth together and opened his black-rimmed eyes widely. "THEY'RE SAVAGES!! First, we shall kill this one!" The soldiers dragged Shikamaru out into the crowd. "IT'LL BE A DECLARATION OF WAR!!"
Temari sobbed as she sat on the tree trunk before Chiyo. The tree frowned. "There is much trouble coming soon," she whispered. "What's happening out there, Child?"
"It's awful," Temari whispered. "Kankuro is dead, they're going to kill Shikamaru, and it's all my fault. I took the wrong path! Now there's no stopping the war. There's nothing I can do. I feel so lost."
Shukaku, Tonton, and Kamatari were quiet as they watched the girl cry. The entire forest seemed to be crying along with her until the tanuki remembered something. It climbed up the tree, grabbed a circular object, and threw it towards Temari. The girl looked up and gasped as the arrow in the center of the compass began to spin.
"It's a spinning arrow," she whispered. Her head shot up. "Chiyo! Do you think it could be…?"
"Yes, it must be the arrow from your dream!"
"Then I can still save him!" Temari scampered off the trunk and ran. She ran as fast as her legs could possibly go.
"There's still time!" Chiyo called out as the little animals followed the girl. "LET THE SPIRITS OF THE EARTH GUIDE YOU!!"
Temari gasped as the sun began to rise. There was no doubt that the two sides were marching off towards war. She could hear and feel the drums pounding in the distance, just as she could hear and feel her heart pound in her chest. There wasn't much time left. She could make it…if she just ran a little faster… "Help me," she whispered. "Help me fly to save him. Help my heart be great. Help me! This isn't just for Shikamaru. It's for my people, his people, and the peace of the world!" She gasped when she saw her friend being thrown against a stone in the distance. From where she was, Temari could see her brother's red hair and the sand gathering together in his fist.
"You savage!" the village leader spat. "NOW YOU SHALL PAY FOR KANKURO'S DEATH!!"
He swung his fist down and…
Temari threw herself on top of Shikamaru just as her brother was about to strike. She panted heavily and bit her lip as she wrapped her arms around the man and stared up at her brother.
"Move, Temari," he growled. "I am going to kill him."
"NO, I WON'T LET YOU!!"
"He's the man who killed Kankuro, our brother!"
"I don't care what he is!" Temari paused. "Brother, I LOVE HIM!! Look around you! THIS is where the path of hate has led us. Do you REALLY want to go down that path?!" She tightened her grip on Shikamaru. "If you want to kill him, you'll have to kill me, too!"
Gaara blinked…twice. He slowly lifted his head and looked at Asuma and his men. They all had their guns locked and loaded, ready to fire. He looked back at his own men. They all had their knives and bombs ready to attack. He looked down at his own fist, and the sand disappeared. Temari gasped as he held up his palm.
"My sister speaks with words of wisdom far beyond her years," he announced. "Never have I heard such brave, strong words from even the wisest, most experienced leaders. We come here with hate in our hearts, and she comes with compassion and love." He lowered his hand. "If there is to be any killing, it will not start here." He took a few steps back and looked at Baki. "Release him."
Baki did as he was told and cut Shikamaru's ropes. The man slowly rose and grabbed onto Temari. "Thank you," he whispered. "There will be no war." He embraced her happily and then looked at Gaara. "I am forever in your debt."
Gaara shook his head. "I'm not so used to this," he explained. "For a long time, I thought that this kind of punishment was the only proper one. However, Temari has been talking about peace this whole time. She has taught me to forgive and forget."
Asuma smirked. "This is perfect! They've lowered their guard! FIRE!!" He looked back at his men when he realized that nothing was happening. "What?" he questioned. "You're going to LISTEN to her? She's just a savage!" He glared at Chouji and grabbed his gun. "FINE THEN!!"
Shikamaru gasped. "NOOOO!!"
He jumped to protect Gaara.
The bullet hit.
The men widened their eyes in horror. "YOU SHOT SHIKAMARU NARA!!" Chouji cried, grabbing his gun back. "HOW COULD YOU?!" He let the tears fall. "RESTRAIN HIM!!" The others grabbed their ex-captain and tied him up, overpowering the man as he struggled.
Temari fell to her knees as Shikamaru panted for breath and collapsed. "Shika…" she whispered. "Shika…please…don't go…"
"Are you sure he'll be okay?"
"The sooner we get back to Konoha, the better it'll be for him."
Gaara and Chouji watched as Naruto and his friends carefully placed Shikamaru in a small boat to bring him over to the ship. Gaara frowned. Now HE was the one in debt. "After all my hate, I don't deserve to be alive."
Chouji was just about to reply when Shikamaru struggled to shake his head. "No…" he whispered. "We came and destroyed your land…Don't say that…" He slowly lifted his hand. "Wait a moment. She…said she would…be here."
At that moment, Temari came running towards the shore. She stopped next to Shikamaru's boat and embraced him. "It's better if you go home," she murmured comfortingly. "They have the medicine and care for you there."
Shikamaru smirked weakly. "I'd rather be here with you," he replied. "I love you."
Tears welled up in Temari's eyes. "I love you, too." The two shared a quiet kiss as Asuma, still bound in ropes, was thrown on board. Temari looked up and nodded at the crewmen as they motioned for Shikamaru to come on board. Slowly, she stood but still held onto his hand. She perked up when she heard a rustling coming from behind her. There was Matsuri with the rest of the women of the village with baskets full of fresh fruits and vegetables. They placed them down with the rest of the cargo and bowed.
"It's time to go, Shikamaru," Chouji insisted. "We have to get you back to Konoha."
Temari watched as the men brought the small boat on board the ship. Quietly, she stood next to her brother and animal friends. Only this time, there were three, as Tonton decided to be friends with Shukaku and Kamatari. She could not smile though; there were still tears in her eyes.
"I'll never see him again," she sobbed. She watched as the ship sailed off towards the wide ocean and gasped when she felt something around her neck. Matsuri had repaired her engagement necklace. She looked back at her friend and widened her eyes.
Quickly, Temari began running as fast as she possibly could. She ran up the cliff side near the shores of the river and scrambled to climb to the top. Once she was there, she could see the ship. It was small but still visible. The wind began to blow, and several colorful leaves danced along with it.
Shikamaru breathed in the fresh air and opened his eyes. On top of the cliff, he saw his love. Weakly, he held up his palm and moved it in a circular shape. He smiled sadly.
Temari let the tears flow down her cheeks as she remembered the symbol for "goodbye" she had taught him. She moved her palm upwards and copied the motion. The wind brought the two farewells together, and it seemed to speak with two voices.
"Goodbye. I love you."
Next: The Little Mermaid (AKA: Karin as Ariel)