Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. I make no money from this fanfiction.

Editor's note: This is sort of a companion story to my fic "What You Need", taking place the next day, but each story can stand alone. You don't have to read one story for the other to make sense. Contains spoilers and character death. This is probably the closest to a drabble I've ever written.


Shikamaru Nara crouched before the grave marker of his late sensei, Asuma Sarutobi. The rain poured down over him, thundering on his head, his shoulders, and his back, but he paid it no heed. His black topknot drooped under the weight of the rain, and his clothing clung wetly to his lean frame, but still he did not move, aside from a slight shiver that was only partially caused by the cold. His eyes were red and ringed with dark circles; he hadn't slept well the previous night.

It was the day after Asuma's funeral. Shikamaru hadn't attended, preferring to grieve in private. He was grateful for the rain, in a way, as it served to hide the tears that fell from his dark eyes. His chest hitched with the emotions that he could not bring himself to share with anyone else, and he wiped his nose with the back of his wrist, chewing his lower lip. He did not ask the usual questions. He already knew the answers.

Why did Asuma have to die? He gave his life to defend Konoha.

Could Shikamaru have done anything to prevent his death? No, but by Kami, he'd avenged it.

He put a hand over his eyes and wept, taking no pleasure in the fact that Hidan's severed, immortal head would suffer under the soil of his clan's lands, choking over and over again in its deep grave. It would not bring back Asuma.

He became aware that the rain had ceased, but only in a three-foot wedge around him. He glanced up and saw Sabaku no Temari, holding up her huge war fan as a makeshift umbrella and looking down at him with a softer expression than usual. Was she concerned? He didn't know. He couldn't think. He remembered that he had been scheduled to be her escort in Konoha – but so much had happened in the past few days…

He didn't have the energy or the inclination to make excuses. It wasn't his style anyway. Either she would understand, or she wouldn't. He turned his gaze back to the grave marker, remembering Asuma's smile, his voice, the way he'd made their team work hard even though at the time they were the dregs of their class.

He felt a curiously warm sensation across his shoulders. He glanced over and saw that Temari had decided to join him, crouching next to him and putting her arm around him.

"I'm wet," he said.

"I know," she said.

"I'm very bad company right now," he said.

"I know," she said.

"I want…" he began, but stopped as his voice broke. He had intended to finish the sentence I want you to go away, but that was a lie. He didn't even have the energy to argue with her, to protest against her presence. He closed his eyes, leaning against her slightly. "I want him back," he whispered finally, fresh tears leaking out from under his eyelids. "He was… like a second father to me."

She gave his shoulders a brief squeeze. At this proximity, he found that she smelled faintly of cinnamon. "I know," she said softly, with a note of tenderness that he did not often hear from her.

After a few moments' thought, Shikamaru decided that her presence was less troublesome than her absence, and put an arm around her waist.


End