Dedication: For Shadow Owner, since it's her story and it's the last chapter that will come out.
A/N: As usual, with my last chapters/epilogues, my Author's Note is at the beginning. See all other stories to find out why.
I'd like to thank all of those who read and reviewed! It was greatly appreciated! Sorry for the delay and for the lack of replies; I've had a horrible month of December and January, work wise. Now I should be all cleared up, so send those reviews in!
Three days passed afer the incident. That afternoon, Shikamaru entered the living room at the same time that Gaara attempted exiting it. Both had to halt abruptly, then coolly eyed the other.
The redhead's look was slightly wary. "I didn't hear a knock or the doorbell. How did you enter?"
Shikamaru shrugged carelessly. "Front door. It was unlocked. I came in."
"Obviously." Gaara rolled his eyes. "You seem to lack a certain sense of propriety, Shikamaru. One that I deem necessary to have if you are to constantly visit like you did the last few days."
"Sorry," Shikamaru shrugged, but then added rapidly, "Kazekage-sama."
A shadow of a smile tugged at the corners of Gaara's lips. "Thank you for the effort, yet I required before that you call me by my first name."
"It was more of a congratulations." The shadow user shrugged lightly. He brushed his hair back from his face, loose for the day, then politely sidestepped the younger boy and made his way into the room.
He had barely stopped in front of Kankuro, his second obstacle to getting close to his girlfriend, when a sudden crash made them all jerk. The sound of broken glass reverberated through the home, and while Shikamaru looked around, Kankuro simply sighed as though he had expected that.
Temari entered the room, walking slowly. She stopped beside her brother, yet her eyes shone as she glanced at her lover. "Hi, lazy a–"
"Oi, troublesome woman," he cut in, refusing to listening to her mean title. "What happened? Looked in the mirror again?"
Temari winced once she realized he was referring to the crashing sound made not ten seconds ago. "You'd deserve to be kicked. Hard."
He shrugged, but didn't have to require an explanation since Chokichi suddenly burst in the room, dragging a weeping Genin in his hands. The little boy looked to be about eleven year old, and he shivered frantically when all eyes turned upon him.
"I found the culprit!" Chokichi growled, settling the boy down on the red carpet. "This little fellow was having fun throwing rocks at our windows."
The boy kept weeping, then shook his head continuously. Finally, he managed to choke out, "A man asked me to do it! He gave me a coin to do it... I just wanted to buy myself ice cream..."
Shikamaru almost smiled, but Temari grinned first. Then, she shrugged at Chokichi. "He's harmless. Let him go; I think the fear of being caught will be enough for his punishment."
The boy's tears immediately halted. He instantly smiled and nodded, then took a step back. He didn't go far, though, since Shikamaru stopped him by grabbing his arm. After a second's examination, he leaned down and whispered softly in the boy's ears. "If I give you another coin, can you promise me never to throw rocks at this building?"
The boy nodded rapidly, grinning happily.
Shikamaru reached in his pockets for spare change, then pulled out two and slipped them in the boy's palm. He peered down at them, then chuckled and looked up. "Thank you, sir!" He then frowned lightly. "The man who gave me the rock told me to avoid Konohan shinobi also. You're not mean!" He then brightened. "But you can't count!"
Shikamaru also smiled at the boy. "I can count. Take the second coin and go buy ice cream to the most troublesome woman you know. Understood?"
The boy bowed deeply. "Yes sir!" He then whirled around and, after weaving skilfully around Chokichi, dashed out of the room.
After a few seconds of silence, Temari's sarcastic voice broke the tension. "Well, wasn't that just so adorable."
Gaara entered the room, so Shikamaru didn't have time to retort. Chokichi took this as a hint, and then excused himself to go tend the broken window. After a quick promise to have it fixed by nighttime, he vanished.
Kankuro looked glumly at Gaara. "I guess that not everyone is getting accustomed to the idea of your return to being our Kage."
The redhead shrugged, yet his eyes spoke for him. He didn't care much about a single incident within three days.
Temari then spoke up, looking straight in her lover's eyes. "And since I know you're full of questions and yet you're too lazy to ask them, Shikamaru, I'll answer them for you. Yes, we are keeping Chokichi around. We figured out that we somewhat needed someone to keep a look around our home. It's safer this way.
"Fumio vanished in thin air. Well, last I saw him, I was kicking his ass in the middle of the desert. I then told him I was giving him ten seconds to run. He ran. I let him go, since I know he's way too ashamed to ever come back to Suna. He'll surely try to start his life over in another shinobi country, or in just a regular town. News leaked that his chakra system was messed up. He was like Rock Lee from Konoha; he can't mold his chakra. Yet instead of working on taijutsu like Lee did, he gave up. He saw his teammates succeed and he failed, which angered him and made him jealous. He was also rich, since his entire family came from a line of very tough shinobi who made good money through their lives. He then managed to bribe people into voting him Kazekage. The rest is history."
Shikamaru yawned. "I knew that."
Temari rolled her eyes as Kankuro snickered and said, "Sure you did."
"And now," Gaara spoke up. "What are your plans?"
There was a moment of silence after that exchange. The two Sabaku brothers turned their eyes to Shikamaru, who raised his to the ceiling in a non-committal sort of way.
The blonde broke the silence. "Listen, brothers. It's either you get out of the room, or I'm running away with him." A small smile danced upon her face; she enjoyed seeing the slight blush making its way onto Shikamaru's face. She understood his intentions clearly.
Neither Kankuro nor Gaara flinched, so she reached over and grabbed Shikamaru's hand. "You guys asked for it!" She grinned and tugged him out of the living room, then out of the house.
They escaped the busy streets of Suna, choosing instead to pass behind the training grounds, where sand dunes and rocks rose high and would provide them with enough shade and privacy. Temari chose the area; a levelled spot just under a tall mountain-like rock, and sat down.
Shikamaru followed suit, yet positioned himself so that his head would rest on Temari's knees. When she glared at him, he only shrugged and murmured, "You're used to having sand all over yourself. I'm not."
"Well get used to it," she replied, yet affectionately began to play in his hair, a small smile playing upon her lips. "So, to keep my 'troublesome woman' status, I guess I'll have to keep asking troublesome questions."
He closed his eyes, shielding her beautiful face from his view. "Spare me, woman."
The kunoichi ignored him. "To repeat Gaara's question; what are you going to do now? Go back home?"
"Probably," he shrugged.
She sighed. The man was impossible. She prompted, "And?"
"And I plan to talk to my mom. She'll freak out and start preparing already, even though I want the ceremony in mid-Spring. November maybe?" He cracked his eyes open, his dark brown eyes studying her dark blue ones intently.
Temari felt her face drain and she backed out slightly. Out of every single possible things to come back home... No. He had to be kidding. "... What ceremony."
He groaned, reaching up to shield the sun from his eyes. "Our wedding, troublesome woman. Do I really have to spell it out for you?"
A few seconds passed in stunned silence. The kunoichi openly gaped at him, unsure of what to make of his words. He had to be kidding her... right? Simply to confirm her suspicions, she murmured just loudly enough for him to hear, "Are you proposing to me, Shikamaru?"
He only answered by giving her a sly smile, waiting for her answer.
After a brief second, she growled and glared at him heatedly. She moved her knees, forcing him to sit up beside her. "That was the most impersonal proposal in the entire world."
The shinobi turned around to face her, studying her face, the small grin still on his lips. "And that was the most impersonal affirmative answer in the world." Then, he reached over and kissed her carefully.
Part of her wanted to spit back at him that she refused, only to spite him. Yet the taste of his lips definitely made her change her mind. She found herself smiling and leaning into his embrace, pressing her hands against his chest.
The kiss didn't last very long, yet the feeling remained etched into her. She dropped her head to his shoulder and looped her arms around his neck, feeling his snaking around her waist. He rubbed her back without really thinking about it and she closed her eyes.
She could've remained this way for hours, yet she pulled away after only a few minutes to look at him squarely. "Hey, Shikamaru?"
"Hm?" He also looked at her, his face emotionless.
"Where's my ring?"
He shut his eyes and mentally prepared himself for the beating of his life. "Didn't buy one. Didn't feel like it. Too many troublesome kinds and shapes..."
Temari's eyes grew hard, though it was only to hide the sheer disappointment she felt. She got to her feet rapidly, turning her back to him and took in a deep breath. Instead of whimpering, of course, she yelled. "You are the most inconsiderate, stupid, lazy asshole I have ever met!"
She heard him quietly say behind her, "Temari..."
Yet she didn't stop. "I can't believe you! You could have done a tiny bit of effort for me if you love me like you say you do!"
"Everyone knows it's the way to do it! Proposal equals ring. Well, if you call what you did a proposal!"
The force in his voice made her stop talking. He rapidly gripped her wrist and turned her around. Her furious eyes met his grinning one, before she spat out, "You find this funny?"
"Do you really think I'm that lazy?"
As he spoke, he reached in his pocket and pulled out a dark blue box. Before she could react, he opened it up and revealed a golden ring. A few diamonds sparkled on top, encrusted in the ring so she could wear it during missions without worrying about knocking them out. Shikamaru presented it to her and smiled, then said gently, "Sabaku no Temari, will you marry me?"
She almost felt tears in her eyes. Almost. The joy within her, however, couldn't be concealed the slightest. Wordlessly, she reached over and carefully plucked the ring from the box, slipping it upon her ring finger. It was beautiful and fitted perfectly. She looked up at Shikamaru's smiling face and shook her head.
"You're such an idiot. I love you. Of course I'll marry you."
Shikamaru grinned and crossed the distance between them. Then, he reached over and picked her up, pulling her against him tightly for a few seconds before bringing her back to the ground. Pressing his forehead to hers, he whispered softly, "Was that romantic enough for you, troublesome woman?"
She looked up at him, her shining eyes already answering for her. "You still forgot to get on your knees, Crybaby. But two proposals within a half hour is more than enough. Let's go back home."
He instantly found himself being dragged out of the training grounds. As he followed her, he couldn't help but grin and think to himself, "Nara Shikamaru, you will so end up whipped, just like your father..."