The trees whirred by Shikamaru, his feet barely touching the light filtering through the leaves was getting less and less. When night fell his fighting skills would be reduced to practically nothing, so he knew this was a bad idea, but kept going. The shadows were long for now, advantageous.
It had all happened so fast. One minute they were sailing through the woods, hands in pockets, a routine document run. The next thing he knew there was a kunai through one nin's leg, a dozen shuriken in another's back, and the scroll was gone. Their attacker had been blindingly fast, he could have rivalled Rock Lee.
Now all Shikamaru knew was that he needed to get that scroll back. Speed didn't count for anything when you were locked in shadow imitation. They had been so stupid, he cursed himself. Letting their guard down while carrying top secret information. Sakura was still with the group, healing their wounds, so it was up to him to hunt down the offending nin before their documents ended up in the wrong hands.
He had lost sight of his opponent several minutes ago, and was wishing for Pakku or Akamaru to help him with this task. He was no tracker. With any luck there would be an ambush waiting for him. Outwitting an enemy ninja wouldn't be a problem. Easier than outrunning them.
Shikamaru huffed as he ran. This was just his luck. A simple document run turned into two casualties and a footrace. Troublesome. He spotted his good luck. An explosive tag rested on a tree in front of him. At least his wish for an ambush was coming through. He mentally projected his attacker's plan, running full pelt at the tree and springing off before the tag could catch him in its blast.
His landing was perfectly timed, and he instantly formed the seals for his shadow imitation. His shadow shot forward to where he knew the nin was waiting for him. He didn't have time to waste sparring, his team would need him back.
The ninja opposite him easily dodged his shadow, anticipating the maneuvre. Shikamaru cursed. Troublesome. His opponent wore a slashed Kiri forehead protector. Missing nin.
"Troublesome," Shikamaru grumbled, rising to his feet to assess to situation. The kirinin carried no obvious weapons, not even a pouch at his side. So he wouldn't appreciate engaging in taijutsu, but Shikamaru still needed more information.
"Konoha jounin," the man spoke in a low, rumbling voice. "Leave now and I will spare you."
"Hand over the scroll," he challenged. Every ninja seemed to think they could talk him out of fighting. He'd heard every line there was.
"Very well." The missing nin made a hand signal very much like Ino's and Shikamaru darted away. He didn't know what the man was doing, but he knew enough about Ino's technique to not want to find out. Keeping out of reach, he tried to find cover where he could work his shadow. Nothing was jumping out at him, which was frustrating. Nothing was ever simple.
He jumped upwards, breaking the line of site with the tree branch below him. It wasn't perfect, but might buy him some time to think. This guy was too fast to hit with his shadow. He might fall for the chakra knives, but his speed made his trajectory almost impossible to predict. This was going to be taxing.
"One more chance, Konoha jounin," the missing nin called out calmly. "You're already in my jutsu."
He was? Shikamaru frowned, his fingertips touching. He wasn't in any kind of pain, and certainly wasn't out of his mind. The jutsu had to be multistep. He had activated the first step, now he was going to activate the second. Whatever it was, he was sure he could find a way out. No jutsu was invincible.
"Come on, then," he drawled to his opponent.
"Your choice," the missing nin grinned, a maniacal glint reaching his eye. Shikamaru glanced over his shelter to see the same hand signal as before, but this time he wasn't even pointing it towards him. Just some random place in the scrub.
Without warning, Shikamaru's viewpoint changed. He blinked, suddenly looking at the only landmark, namely his opponent, from an entirely different angle. Looking around, he tried to figure out what had happened. Was that the big jutsu? To teleport someone else twenty feet? Definitely not invincible.
Shikamaru reached down to pull out his kunai and mount a surprise attack, but stopped short. Where his hands should have felt his trousers and kunai pouch, he instead felt soft, soft fur. He looked down and a sense of dread filled him. He frantically looked at his hands, and then whirled around, watching a big, brushy tail follow him.
He desperately patted his face, hoping it would somehow remain the same. But no, chubby, fuzzy cheeks were all that greeted him. A glance over only increased his horror as he saw his own body looking around in a similar confused fashion, before it tried to climb the tree and fell flat on its back, letting out little chitters of fear.
"As you can see, my technique is one to fear." The gloating in the kirinin's voice made him suddenly furious. The anger in him blossomed and fell flat with an odd sounding sigh. He wasn't often taken by the urge to yell profanity, but on this rare occasion he was increasingly frustrated by his inability to do so.
The kirinin made the sign again, and Shikamaru felt himself once again jolt out of his body. Into a freefall. He watched the ground soar up at him and felt a moment of panic. Trying to get a grip on himself, he took a deep breath and looked around at a rather... odd angle.
His eyes were on the side of his head! He immediately begain beating the wings of the eagle he now possessed. This was not good. He had to take up some kind of offensive. And he wasn't particularly good at flying, he discovered. Wobbling through the air, Shikamaru tried to get his brain to function. Pigeons didn't have the most advanced thought processes, he discovered. It was a stifling feeling, trying to handle abstract thought even as he felt it slipping away from him. It was like a memory of a thought process.
Attack. He had to attack. It would be surprising. Next switch, whatever it should be, he had to attack, scratch the man's eyes out if necessary, anything to change the pattern of what was happening.
He breifly saw through the trees the shadow of another person, rushing to his aid. Sakura? She shouldn't be there, she should be with their injured team. And he didn't want her trapped in this same hell. He tried to gain control of his flight again, moving closer to the missing nin who was obviously enjoying himself.
His hands moved forward in the signal and Shikamaru prepared himself to attack with whatever weapon was available to him when it happened. Claws, teeth, anything, he had to find it and attack while the nin still thought he was disoriented.
The hands were brought forward and the world switched. Shikamaru nearly fell over backwards, a weight on his back so heavy that he could barely keep upright. He seemed to be blissfully on two legs and found his target. The nin, he sped forward, rushing straight at him, his hands groping at each other to try to make sense of his new form.
Two legs, long arms, five fingers, decent speed. Shikamaru grinned as he realised he was human, but it was short lived as he reached for his back to find out what was weighing him down. About four feet long, thin, metal, with some kind of cloth... between... oh, Kami.
No time for his mortification, he ripped the tessen off his back, seeing his own body nearly plummet to the ground in a pile of lanky limbs. He winced, but forced the fan open, his mind racing to figure out what to do with it, his target was approaching fast and he doubted that simply swinging it around was the trick. Her chakra was wind type, his was shadow. That wasn't going to work.
Snapping the tessen shut, Shikamaru hauled forward at his surprised target and slammed the closed fan into the tree with all his might. The trunk crumbled and he sprung backwards. He hadn't realised how strong this body was. The tree fell with an almighty crash.
Shikamaru looked down from his vantage point, trying to see his own wayward body in amongst the mess of trunk and branch, but couldnt find it. He did see the brutally beaten body of his forgotten opponent lying at an unhealthy angle on the ground below. It didn't matter for the moment, he leapt down to try to find his body. He needed that.
With enormous relief he saw one green clad leg sticking out from under a light branch. His body was struggling to get up, still ungainly at best. He pulled the branch off, once again surprised at his own strength, and backed off a little.
His body lay sprawled on its back, legs finding their way underneath him to push upright. "What the hell is wrong with my body?"
It was expected, but still a shock to hear his own voice. He was sure he didn't sound like that. Especially not with the girlish lilt to his words. It was tempting to hold out a hand and help her up, but he kept his distance, knowing that he'd want some space between them when she noticed him.
Sure enough, when his own eyes fell on him, his body stopped struggling. A dead calm fell over the forest as his voice rang out, calm and dangerous. "What are you doing in my body?"
"Tch," he tried to put his hands in his pockets, but realised that he didn't have any, instead tangling his hands in a long red obi. "Troublesome woman, the same thing you're doing in mine."
"Shikamaru?" she quizzed, his feminine voice making him wince again. She examined her new hands, looking down at his jounin outfit.
"Temari," he nodded in greeting. He didn't know why, but he liked hearing her voice from his mouth. "Any reason you're out here stealing my body?"
"Well I was heading back to Suna from Kirigakure," she huffed, finally managing to clamber to her feet. "I ran into Sakura who said you needed help, so I chose to oblige."
Shikamaru shrugged. "Well, you made my plan work, I was going to scratch out his eyes if he turned me into a squirrel again."
"What are you doing with my tessen?" she asked sharply, and he realised he had left it dragging in the ground. Pulling it up quickly, he tried to reattach it to his back. The weight fell awkwardly on his shoulder, it didn't seem to want to turn the right way. He found himself spinning on his heel, trying to reach the catch that held it and fit it properly.
Temari was watching him suffer, her head cocked to one side. Shikamaru glared at her and she wandered over to help. He felt the dead weight snap back into place easily under her guidance and sighed. Even her weapon was troublesome, what was wrong with a few kunai? At least they didn't require the back of an ox to carry them around.
The two ninja looked at each other silently. Shikamaru felt some of the initial shock wear off, the heaviness of the fan nothing compared to what had just settled on his shoulders. He was Temari, Temari was him. And he had just taken a tessen to the only person who knew how to turn them back.
"So what the hell do we do, genius?" Temari quizzed him, tilting her hips and folding her arms, his hips and arms, in a humiliatingly feminine way. He was looking in an effeminate mirror and not liking what he saw.
"You're holding my brain hostage," he noted a little sourly. He wasn't having too hard a time in her body, but the fact that he could get 50 moves ahead at most without forgetting everything was not working for him. She had a decent brain, but he was missing his own.
"The only thing hostage here is my reputation," she snitted back at him. "People are going to think I've turned butch. Let's just go tell the Hokage and..."
"No!" he instantly objected. She stared at him like he was insane. "You're not doing wonders for my image either, but you don't have to live in Konoha. If they find out that you and I have... cohabitated, so to speak, I will never hear the end of it."
"So what?" she huffed. "I want my body back more than I want you to have a pleasant life."
"Fine," he shrugged. "Let's go see the Kazekage, I'm sure he'd be happy to..."
"No!" she echoed him, then looked away, embarrassed. "Point taken."
Shikamaru frowned, crouching down and assuming his thinking pose, hoping for insight. "Do you have an excuse to be in Konoha for a few days?"
"Yes," Temari nodded and he was momentarily distracted with thoughts of coaching her on how to act like a man. He quickly shook them off and started to mold some chakra.
Transformation jutsu complete, he stood up in his own body. "First let's see if the jutsu wears off."
She gave a curt nod and transformed back into her own body. Suddenly a lot more comfortable, he took in her appearance for the first time in six months. She looked good, 20 suited her. So did that dress. Not that he'd be telling her that.
"C'mon," he sighed, hauling the comatose missing nin over one shoulder and heading back toward Sakura.