Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.

Gaara stood before Suna's council of elders in the council's meeting room. He stood in the center of a table shaped as a semi-circle, giving each and every elder full view of their Kazekage. Gaara had never been easily frightened, having a sand shield that blocked almost any attack. Something about standing in front of the council, knowing they would oppose him, however, set him on edge. Power was a loose term. He was the Kazekage because he was the most powerful shinobi in the village. But other types of power existed as well. Such as political power.

The elders looked at him solemnly. Gaara returned their stare with more viciousness. The men were old and withered, and hadn't held a kunai in years.

"Kazekage-sama, why did you request this audience?" one of the elders asked.

Gaara sighed. He'd have to do this sooner or later… "I want Shikamaru Nara to be released from suspicion of stealing the papers from my office." Gaara tried to make his voice bold and loud.

The elders looked at him for a moment, surprised. "Do you know of the evidence that was gathered against him?"

Gaara nodded. "I do. However, it is my firm belief that he is innocent."

One of the elders shook his balding head. "We cannot release him from suspicion. Kazekage-sama, surely you see that we must keep him imprisoned. He is the most likely suspect."

"I disagree."

That seemed to take the elders by surprise. "You think you know the true culprit?" an elder asked.

"I cannot say for sure, but Shikamaru told me that he passed out during the time the robbery took place, and that Koji was next to him when he passed out. Whatever is really going on, I believe that Koji has something to do with it." Gaara said.

The elders looked at each other, and slowly shook their heads. "Kazekage-sama, that is not nearly enough to dismiss the suspicion of Shikamaru Nara. And accusing Koji-kun? We knew you didn't like him, Kazekage-sama, but he is your fellow shinobi! A ninja that has been with the village as a young child, when he was found on the outskirts of the village."

Gaara felt anger flow through his body. He had known they wouldn't believe him, but it did nothing to lessen his anger with them. "We cannot excuse someone just because they are a member of this village." Gaara said.

The elders looked at each other once again, as if consulting each other telepathically. One elder nodded his head and said, "What you say is true, Kazekage-sama, but Koji is an outstanding shinobi with no record whatsoever. Your accusation carries little weight. Perhaps when he returns, we might look into any possibility of his being an accomplice of Shikamaru Nara."

Gaara's eyes narrowed and his fists clenched. He'd hoped to avoid this, but…desperate times called for desperate measures. "No," Gaara said suddenly, his voice becoming much louder and commanding. "Koji will be looked into for involvement, but not as an accomplice. As the perpetrator."

The elders looked a little startled. "You tell the council what will and will not be?" one elder asked.

"Yes," Gaara said flatly. "Perhaps I've been busy lately, or maybe I haven't noticed, but the council has been growing bolder in their authority. I tire of it, and it's time the council remembered who is the real leader of this village."

One council member stood up, knocking his chair over. "You presume too much, Kazekage-sama. The council has always respected your authority and title."

"But not me," Gaara said. "You've never respected me, the former monster, as a person. I hereby dismiss Shikamaru Nara of all suspicion."

Another elder stood and said, "You cannot do that!"

Gaara's eyes narrowed, and he said, "I am the Kazekage. Not you. Not this council. Not anyone else. I make the final decisions regarding this village. My final decision on this matter is that Shikamaru is innocent, and that Koji is now under suspicion of the crime."

Gaara called for a shinobi. "Call my sister, Koji, and Shikamaru Nara here." The shinobi bowed and disappeared in a puff of smoke.

"What do you intend to do?" an elder asked.

"I will judge Koji's innocence here, based on my sister's and Shikamaru's testimony." Gaara answered, folding his arms.

The elders glanced at each other, surprise and worry showing on their withered faces. The shinobi returned in a few minutes, anxiety on his face. He turned to Gaara and said, "Kazekage-sama, Shikamaru Nara has escaped from our prison! I tried to also find Koji and Temari, but they are both gone as well!"

Gaara frowned. He'd given Shikamaru that lockpick as a failsafe, or in case things got hairy in the prison. Shikamaru wasn't an idiot. He wouldn't have used the lockpick without a good reason.

Practically all the elders jumped out of their chairs, one saying to the shinobi, "Alert our ANBU immediately! Have several teams dispatched to look for them!"

Not good, Gaara thought. All that they'll do is kill Shikamaru first, ask questions later. Gaara held out his hand and said, "Disregard that order. Tell no one what you know. Return to your other duties." The shinobi nodded and bowed to his Kazekage, then left the room.

"Kazekage-sama!" an elder yelled, "What are you doing? We must send someone out to stop Shikamaru Nara!"

Gaara shook his head. "What exactly do you think happened?"

"Obviously, Nara escaped the prison and kidnapped Koji and Temari. He must be formidable to have accomplished such feats."

Gaara almost rolled his eyes. "There are several things wrong with your reasoning. But I won't take the time to explain what they are."

"Someone has to go after Nara! He is a criminal!"

"Shikamaru is not a criminal. I just ruled so. Koji is the one we should worry about. And, if it makes you feel better, I'm going after them myself," Gaara said grimly.

Shikamaru and Temari sprinted out of the village as fast as they could, leaving Suna far behind them. Shikamaru still couldn't believe he'd let her come along, but what was he supposed to do? Even if I'd stuck to my guns, she'd probably just knocked me out with the fan and carried me out of the village, Shikamaru thought. He looked ahead, at her, since she was leading the way. She knew the desert best after all. He found himself staring at her butt as she ran and scolded himself. He tried to look straight ahead, but his vision turned to her pig-tails, and he suddenly had the urge to pull all four of them out, just to see what her expression would be. He shook his head in an attempt to get rid of such thoughts.

"You okay back there?" Temari asked, glancing back at him, "You've been quiet."

"Maybe I'm slightly upset with you. After all, I didn't want you to come with me." Shikamaru said.

"Pfsh. You'll just have to get over that," Temari said. "It's for your own good. Someone has to watch your back. Kami knows you're too lazy to."

They continued on for several more hours, until sunset, when Temari spotted a large cloud of sand heading their way. "Sandstorm," she said to Shikamaru. "We need to find cover. Now."

They looked for cover, any sort of cover, though on a bare desert it was hard to come by. Finally, Temari spotted a cave. They ran to the cave and took shelter. It was a fairly small cave, with enough room for them to stand up and lie down. They were only in the cave for a few minutes before they heard the grating sound of sand rushing past the cave. Looking outside, they saw trillions and trillions of grains of sand rushing past the mouth of the cave.

"How long do these things last?" Shikamaru asked.

"It varies. Judging by the cloud I saw outside, this is going to be a long one." Temari said.

Shikamaru sighed. "More time that K– my attacker has too catch up with us."

Temari gave him a funny look but said, "Relax. I guarantee he can't travel in the sandstorm either."

"If you say so." Shikamaru said.

"Besides, we can rest during the storm for travel tomorrow. See? It's a blessing in disguise." Temari said brightly.

"I guess." Shikamaru said. "Though I wish my blessings would be less disguised."

Temari giggled a little at that, and proceeded to sling her pack from her shoulders. Shikamaru followed suit and laid his pack next to hers. Temari started digging in her pack and lifted out two cans of pre-prepared ramen, tossing him one.

Shikamaru sat down and opened the can, his stomach already growling at the notion of food. He hadn't eaten anything at all today. He found a small plastic spoon inside, and eagerly started eating the ramen.

"I'm impressed," he said between mouthfuls.

"Impressed about what?" Temari asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Impressed that you were willing to spend so much money on me," Shikamaru said, holding up the can. "I mean, this is obviously expensive stuff. It comes with its own little spoon and everything. Normally, I'm the one paying for all of your food."

Temari rolled her eyes and said, "You'd better be glad I'm not done eating yet. Otherwise, this can would be flying at your skull."

Shikamaru smirked. They ate in silence for a few minutes until Temari's cerulean eyes began to nervously look around. "Something wrong?" Shikamaru asked.

"Well, I…" Temari started, but then stopped. She breathed in, seeming to be gathering her courage and then continued, "I was just wondering if there was any substance to the rumors that you and Ino were…you know, in a relationship."

Shikamaru stopped eating for a moment to look up at Temari. Her face was colored a slight shade of pink, and her cerulean eyes weren't looking at him, but glancing at a corner of the room. He finished his can of ramen and smirked. "Why do you ask?"

She looked at him now, her eyes narrowing somewhat and her mouth frowning. "I just wanted to know if two of my Konoha friends were involved, that's all. I don't really care. I was just wondering if I'd be invited to a wedding anytime soon."

Shikamaru chuckled. "A wedding? Don't you think that's a bit extreme?"

Temari looked away sullenly, shrugging. "I don't know. You two have been friends for a long time, and I just thought that maybe sparks were flying. Look, if you don't want to tell me–''

"No, we're not in a relationship. We never have been and never will, at least if I have anything to say about it."

Temari's face brightened a little and she asked, "Why not?"

"Because I'm not a horrible person? Chouji has had eyes for her since we were kids."

Temari's cerulean eyes softened and she said, "That's kind of you."

"I don't know if 'kind' is the word, but let's go with it," Shikamaru said, shrugging. "As long as we're playing twenty questions, it's my turn. How serious are you and Koji?"

Temari folded her arms and huffed. "I've told you before, we're just long-time friends."

Shikamaru hesitated before continuing with, "He doesn't seem to think so."

"Oh yeah?" Temari said. "How do you know?"

"He's got a big mouth. When he escorted me up here, he said something about you two being destined for each other." Shikamaru said. "It was kind of weird."

Temari's jaw dropped a little and her eyes widened. She'd never even remotely thought of Koji and herself getting together. It just seemed…wrong. Koji was one of her best friends, sure, but for them to be together?

Shikamaru reached over and closed her mouth, saying, "You'll get sand in there if you don't close it."

Temari shook her head. "I don't believe this. I've never even thought of Koji romantically."

"I think you should make that clear to him." Shikamaru said. "Otherwise, you're leading the poor guy on."

Temari sighed. "Yeah, you're probably right."

Koji had to stay fairly far behind Temari and Shikamaru, as they could easily spot him in the open desert, especially if he happened to fumble too close. He saw the cloud of sand seconds after Temari did, and saw them take cover in a small cave. The sandstorm rushed closer and Koji looked around desperately for cover. Finding none other than the small cave, which wasn't an option, he began to make handsigns. After a minute, he finished his technique and said, "Earth Element: Dome Barrier Technique!" A small dome of earth enveloped him, serving as an effective shelter against the sandstorm.

Temari stretched in the small cave, trying in vain to work the kink out of her lower neck. Shikamaru sat and watched with interest.

"Well, if the shinobi career doesn't work for you, I think you've got an excellent chance in pole-dancing," Shikamaru said, smirking.

Temari blushed and actually did throw her empty can at him this time. Shikamaru expected it though, and deflected the can with a wave of his hand. Watching her go through a few more modest stretches, Shikamaru said, "Does it really bother you that bad?"

"Yeah, I can feel something out of place. I'm fine, but it's easily one of the most…troublesome things ever." Temari said with a smirk.

Shikamaru sighed and said, "Do you want me to try to work it out?"

Temari looked at him, eyebrow upraised. Hesitantly, she nodded and sat down in front of him. Shikamaru stood on his knees just behind her and sighed once more in nerviousness as he put his hands on her shoulders. She tensed under his touch at first, but gradually relaxed as he messaged her shoulders and lower neck. Temari sighed in relief as she felt the kink in her lower neck worked out by Shikamaru's hands.

"Thanks," Temari said, moving away from him. "I owe you one."

"One massage? I'll keep that in mind." Shikamaru said, smirking.

Temari moved towards her pack and said, "I guess it's time to rest. We've got a long road ahead of us tomorrow."

Shikamaru nodded, moving towards his own pack as well. He picked up his sleeping pad and spread it out on the ground. Temari dug through her pack some more. And some more. And some more, until she finally said, "Ah! I forgot to get my sleeping pad before we left!"

Shikamaru raised an eyebrow at her. "Some shinobi you are. Isn't 'Always be prepared' somewhere in the shinobi rules?"

"Shut up. I was in a hurry!" Temari said, sticking out her tongue at him.

"How mature," Shikamaru said with a smile. "Go ahead and take my pad. I'll sleep on the ground. I can't let a woman sleep on the ground."

"No, I'm not going to let you sleep on the ground either." Temari said, pushing him onto the pad.

Shikamaru stood back up and pushed Temari down on the pad. "You may have talked me into letting you come with me, but you're losing this fight. I'm sleeping on the ground."

Temari looked up at him and said, "NO, you're not. Look, if it's such a big deal that I don't sleep on the ground, we can both share the pad. There's enough room."

Shikamaru looked at the pad Temari lied on with doubt. "I don't think we're looking at the same pad, troublesome woman. Maybe we could both fit on this one if we were both five. Maybe."

Temari, who had had enough of arguing, simply grabbed Shikamaru's vest and pulled him down beside her. "There, enough room."

Shikamaru snorted and unzipped his shinobi vest, deciding that there was no point in continuing the argument any further. Once the vest was off, Shikamaru lied down on his back. He noticed that Temari was lying on her side, facing away from him.

"Good night." Shikamaru said.

Temari turned to face him, now lying on her other side. "Good night," she said with a smile and then closed her eyes.

Shikamaru stared at the ceiling of the cave, realizing just how close Temari was lying next to him. I told her there wasn't enough room. Shikamaru thought. He sighed, Of course, I'll get in trouble for accidently groping her. He felt Temari move a little, and thought that she moved even closer to him. He dismissed the thought as his imagination and tried to focus on going to sleep.

Before he could really even think of going to sleep, he felt Temari move again, but she rolled completely on top of him.

"What are yo–'' Shikamaru started to ask, before Temari's mouth cut him off. She kissed him even harder, and Shikamaru felt her curvy body being pressed into his. They continued kissing for several minutes before breaking to breathe. Temari sat up on top of him, breathing heavily. She playfully pulled his hair tie, making his hair cascade all around his face.

Shikamaru made an irritated face and responded in kind, attacking her pigtails, undoing all four of them. Temari's golden, messy hair fell down beyond her neck.

After that, they sat in silence, simply gazing at each other. Shikamaru finally broke the silence by saying, "Listen, if we're going to keep going with…this, I think we should switch positions here."

In the dim light, he saw Temari raise an eyebrow at him. "Why?" she asked.

"Well, I think that the man should be on top, and–'' Shikamaru was cut off once again by Temari's lips and mouth. They kissed again, this time more frenzied than the last. They parted once more, but only long enough for Temari to say, "Well, I think that the man should shut up and go with it when a woman jumps on top of him," then she resumed attacking Shikamaru with kisses.

They continued for several minutes more, then Temari started to grab Shikamaru's shirt, seeking to pull it off. It was then that Shikamaru realized something, and it made him groan. Temari heard his groan and misinterpreted it, now trying to get his shirt off faster. Shikamaru grabbed her hands to stop her and swung her off of him, disconnecting their mouths as well. Temari looked at him with hurt in her eyes. Shikamaru saw the hurt and held her hand, saying, "Believe me, I didn't stop because I wanted to. I realized that…we can't do this Temari. Not here and not now. It's just not the place. Especially when there's a guy trying to kill me out there somewhere."

Realization of the facts hit Temari as well, and she squeezed his hand back.

"So," Temari said in a slow tone. "You want to finish this later?"

"Yes," Shikamaru said intensely.

Temari smirked. "That means you liked it. What happened to all those words about how you wouldn't touch me with a ten-foot pole?"

Shikamaru just sighed and said, "Troublesome woman," while pulling Temari into his arms.

A/N: Haha! I bet nobody expected an update to be out this fast! Mwuha!

Anyways, now that that's out of my system, please leave a review or send me a PM in you liked it (or even if you didn't). I welcome all criticism. I'd especially like some feedback on the last scene where Shikamaru and Temari almost do the…you know, the bow chica wowow. Did you think that scene turned out well? Was it tasteful? That kind of thing. Of course, feedback on the other parts is also highly appreciated.

Also, as a note, pretty soon, I'm going to try and do my own little Summer WriMo. Of course, that means the stories will be original and can't go up on fanfiction, so I'll post them on my fictionpress account and link them to my fanfiction profile page if anyone wants to read them. But that's a few days off.