Author's note: here's a little ShikaTema one-shot I wrote just for fun. It's an outtake from Scar Tissue, but you don't have to read it to understand this story. Updates will resume shortly, since summer is almost over... *sigh* Enjoy!

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There had been a time, so far back that Temari barely remembered it, when her mother had tried to interest her in something else than ninja training.

Hoping to give her daughter some measure of polish, the Kazekage's wife had employed a nurse to look after her and initiate her to the refinements of the female sex. The experiment had only lasted until Temari had mastered basic escape tactics. But one thing she did remember about that short-lived attempt was the endless stories she had been forced to sit through – tales about princesses locked in far away castles, longing after love and waiting for faith to bring a charming prince at their door.

Of course, it was all a load of crap, even if she hadn't been old enough to word it that way. Temari had never believed in the value of waiting after something you wanted, especially men. However, she had to admit that the authors of such stories had been right about one thing: the fact that when you fell for someone, all other thought flew out the window, and logical reasoning was helpless to thwart it.

It wasn't even as if she hadn't expected it. There had always some sort of tension between them that translated either into cheeky defiance or their own peculiar brand of flirting. Shikamaru wasn't exactly the type of man to be open about what he wanted, and most of the time it wasn't even clear if he wanted anything at all, except being left alone. But Temari knew was he was capable of accomplishing when he put his mind to it, and it intrigued her enough to try and niggle a reaction out of him.

Nonetheless, the amplitude of her attraction to him had been a brutal realization.

The beginning of the story was nothing if not banal. It had come as no surprise to Temari that Shikamaru had been chosen to accompany the diplomatic mission that was to seal the deal between Leaf and Sand. He was one of their best elements, shrewd enough to work around any snags in the treaty, but not pompous or overly ambitious. He also knew their family well, and had no difficult history with Gaara. It was a wise decision on Konoha's part, and it would also give her the chance, she thought, to have a little fun while he was staying in Suna. Opportunities for distraction had been much too rare these past few years.

On the day of their arrival, Megure had climbed all the way down from the outer wall to announce, red-faced and breathless, that the Konoha ninjas were in sight. Temari had suspected any excuse was good enough for the shy, blushing girl to talk to the Kazekage, but she had thanked her for her diligence, and left to prepare for the formal niceties that would be requited to welcome the group.

When it had come down to it, after the bending of the knees and the greetings and gifts, amidst the raucous exclamations of admiration, she had found Shikamaru unchanged, despite the little details that caught her attention – the goatee he was starting to grow, the barely noticeable bulge of his lean muscles underneath his familiar black sweater. He had filled out some – he was stronger. But he still looked as bored as ever with ordinary conversation.

Their eyes had met and he'd given a little nod in the direction of the door, so discreet she wasn't sure she'd really seen it at first. A moment later, he excused himself and left the room. Temari waited until no one was likely to find her absence untoward before following suit.

She had found him on one of the immense, circular terraces of the Kazekage's palace, leaning against the railing, and trying to shield himself from the wind.

"It's fucking impossible to light a cigarette here," he said, flicking his lighter to no avail. "I don't know how you people do it."

"You know I don't smoke, moron. I didn't know you did," she pointed out.

Shikamaru shrugged. "It's a habit I picked up awhile ago. But I didn't really have time for a cigarette break the last couple of times we met."

Temari nodded bleakly. The battle, the cries… the blood… Business as usual, where Madara Uchiha and his ilk were concerned.

She turned her attention back to Shikamaru. He had finally managed to light his cigarette.

"I'm going to have to ask if it's against diplomatic protocol," he noted with a little laugh.

The cigarette dangled between his lips as he spoke. He paused and took a long draw before taking the small tube between his fingers and blowing out the bluish smoke, smiling at her nonchalantly.

A simple gesture that had her mesmerized for a moment. Temari nearly blushed when she realized she had been staring, and she immediately averted her gaze.

Shikamaru raised an eyebrow. "Something the matter?"

"Nothing! It's just… smoking is awful for your health," she replied lamely.

"Don't wait on me to stop. But it does have its fun sides – I learned how to make rings when I blow. Want to see?"

She didn't think it was a good idea to indulge in a sight that put so much emphasis on his mouth and on his fingers. Holy shit, when had he gotten so… so…

Hot. Temari hated herself for thinking it, yet "attractive" or "handsome" definitely didn't cover the tingle that was crawling up her spine. But this was Shikamaru, for fuck's sake – the world's laziest guy, and not a player by any means. He couldn't be doing this on purpose. Which meant she was, by her own accord, fantasizing over the cigarette currently being rolled between his index and his thumb.

Damn.

"Yeah, well, maybe later," she said, trying to sound uninterested but barely containing the waver in her voice. "I have more important stuff to do."

They had left it at that, but so far, she hadn't found anything quite so important that it could keep her mind of him.

Temari made the count in her head as she stared at the ceiling of her bedroom – that was five days back. She had just woken up from another restless night, and was pinned down with the same feeling of agitated lethargy. This was not an unfamiliar sensation, and she had acted upon it before, with generally disappointing results. But this was different. She wasn't simply curious to try it out with him, or so ravenous that she thought he might do. She wanted to seduce him, to taunt him, to spark something in him that would make him take charge. She wanted Shikamaru to want it as bad as she did.

Temari threw back her covers and lied still another moment. The palace was strangely quiet – there was none of the usual coming and going in the corridors. Or else she couldn't hear it over the constant blowing of the wind.

Frowning, she got up and went to her window, drawing the shades apart. Sure enough, the sun was veiled by a halo of reddish dust, and barely any light could come through. This explained the muffled silence, the subdued activity – whenever there was a sandstorm, everyone in Suna took it as a sign to lay low and wait for it to pass.

"Apparently this isn't going to let up very soon," Kankuro said at breakfast later that morning. "The wind isn't very strong yet, but it's been growing in intensity for almost a week straight, and the sand will stay up for sure."

Shikamaru made a face as he contemplated the bacon at the end of his fork. "What a drag. There isn't anything to do if we can't even go outside."

"We have a indoor arena if you want to train," Kankuro offered. "I'm dying for a little action myself."

"I was planning on taking it easy, to be honest, like a sort of holiday," he replied. "But I can't say no to that, even if I'm in for a major beating."

Kankuro grinned. "Great. I'll meet you there."

Once her brother had left, Temari felt free to glare at Shikamaru with all the exasperation she could muster. "You have got to be the most obnoxious person on the planet."

"And to what do I owe this qualification?"

"It's just that – no smoking inside," she snapped as he retrieved a pack from his pocket. "And we've just finished breakfast, you sick fuck."

He rolled his eyes. "Well, since we can't go outdoors, could you please tell me where I can smoke? And then we can take this conversation to wherever that is."

Temari was tempted to bring him to her room, but even in his tobacco-deprived state, Shikamaru would see right through her intentions. She had to find another less conspicuous place.

"Come on," she huffed, grabbing his arm and dragging him through the corridors to one of the supply rooms. "Just make sure you don't set fire to the brooms."

"I can imagine why you'll need them, once all that sand settles," he pointed out. "But you still didn't tell me why you threw a hissy fit over the scrambled eggs."

Temari rounded on him. "I did not throw a hissy fit. I was just stating a simple fact."

"Do you have substantial evidence to back it?"

He was looking at her with that maddening expression of his, halfway between curiosity and boredom, tapping his unlighted cigarette on his knee.

"You are incapable of providing any effort when you're not confronted with a life-or-death situation," she said. "As much as it pains me to admit it, you have the capacity to beat Kankuro. But you're simply not going to do it because you're too fucking lazy."

"You're right," he replied evenly. "The prize simply isn't worth the strain. It would require a lot of planning and a lot of chakra on my part to beat your brother. But why do you care anyway?"

Temari tightened her fists, feeling like she ought to strangle him. In fact, she couldn't have cared less about his practice session with Kankuro, but she had the dreadful suspicion that Shikamaru didn't consider her as a prize worth any strain at all. This blockhead would never make a move on her.

"Believe it or not, I'd just like to see you act like a man for once," she muttered, making her way towards the door.

"Goddamnit, Temari…" he started with a heavy sigh. "I love it when you get so angry."

She froze with her hand on the doorknob and glanced at him over her shoulder. A small smile was playing on his lips, and she couldn't tell if he was making fun of her or not. But when in doubt, she decided, it was always best to take your chances.

She stalked over to him and shoved him against the wall, then brought his lips down to hers. Shikamaru didn't hesitate before responding to her kiss. Temari was taken aback by his confidence – she thought he might be shocked into submission for a second or two. But he wasn't the least bit at loss with the situation, if his roaming hands were any indication. In fact, the kiss was getting much more heated than she had imagined at first, not that she was complaining. Shikamaru seemed unfazed as he snaked one hand up her back, under her shirt, and the other on the nape of her neck, preventing her from breaking away. She was starting to believe he had mapped everything out in advance.

"Is that man enough for you?" he asked in a placid voice when she finally gathered enough strength to pushed him away.

The cheeky bastard wasn't even short of breath. She wanted to press herself against him, feel his heart pound against his chest, feel the taunt hardness on his lower stomach. But that would simply give him too much satisfaction.

"I'll leave my door unlocked tonight," she said breezily, making her way back towards the exit. And then we'll see if you have the balls to go all the way, was the unspoken challenge that followed.

The rest of the day was like sweet torture. Once again, Temari found herself thinking back on the princesses of her childhood tales, trapped inside the inner walls of their gardens, watching the cherry blossom petals fall languidly to the ground and longing for love to come. She felt trapped as well, with no possibility to go outside, and nothing to occupy her attention other than the prospect of Shikamaru showing up at her doorstep. She was starting to understand why some of the tales depicted these poor girls becoming mad and throwing themselves off the highest roof of their pagoda, and it had only been a couple of hours.

The evening dragged on even more slowly, if it were possible, than the rest of the day. As the custom required, Gaara had hired performers to entertain his guests, and tonight they were being treated to a No play – in Temari's humble opinion, the most boring form of art ever invented. She kept glancing at Shikamaru, who was seated a little further away, but he seemed engrossed in the play. Either that or he was sleeping with his eyes open.

When it was finally over, she hastily retreated to her room without sparing a glance in his direction. She didn't want anyone, and especially not her brothers, to find out that she had given open access to her bed to one of the Konoha emissaries.

It was a precaution, however, that she came to regret. The minutes became hours as she sat on her bed in the darkness, waiting for him to show up. But the door stayed infuriatingly closed.

Temari was fuming. Hadn't she been clear enough? She couldn't believe he had forgotten all about it and fallen asleep. Even worse, perhaps he had consciously decided not to go, either to goad her… or simply because he didn't want to continue what he had started.

She shuddered under her covers. This was Shikamaru, after all – given his pathological indolence, nothing was impossible.

But this was going too far. Her honor as a woman was at stake, not to mention the throbbing itch that she simply had to scratch. Sooner or later, he would pay for this.

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As soon as he opened his eyes the next morning, a good solid minute before his alarm went off, Shikamaru knew he was in big trouble.

He had already figured it out before going to sleep, but it hadn't been quite so vivid – only the vague dread that Temari might show up in his room in the middle of the night to beat the shit out of him. Now there was no escape, literally, with that godforsaken weather.

He ought to face it like a man, he thought to himself as he left the bed. Besides, it wasn't all his fault. True, it was pretty discourteous to leave a woman's thinly veiled demand for sex unanswered – discourteous and dangerous, since that woman was Temari – but his practice session with Kankuro had exhausted him. He had put some effort in it after all so as not to insult his host, and Kankuro had taken it as a green light to put every single one of his routines to the test against the Shadow Techniques.

Those puppets, Shikamaru decided, would haunt him for the rest of his days. And going back to his room after the play, in the heavy silence of the corridors, he had wondered if by chance Kankuro left one or two of them lying in front of his sister's door at night, just in case. You never did know – the guy was a maniac.

In the end, in the battle between his brain and his body, his brain had won. His body, of course, was remembering in every evocative detail the few minutes he had spent with Temari in the supply closet. And it wasn't the first time his senses were begging for an outlet - he had stopped counting the number of evenings he had spent nearly doubled over, with incessant images of her running through his mind. The insolent smile, the defiant eyes… the muscular thighs… and all the rest…

But his brain was simply too tired. After a day like that, he didn't feel like thinking things through. And with Temari, he couldn't just improvise. He knew she had liked him for a long time – women were no good at hiding their feelings, and he could tell simply by the way she looked at him – but that was no reason to be sloppy. She was more experienced than he was, and would not likely be satisfied with second best.

Curiously enough, it was something about her he found staggeringly attractive – the way she pushed him constantly, and never settled for anything less than his maximum capacity. In his mind – or out loud, depending on the mood – he started by writing her off as a nagging bitch, but the truth of the matter was that he loved getting such a reaction out of her. Temari was a bombshell in every sense of the word, and he was reeling to see what that would amount to between the sheets.

But first, he had to plan. He had to regroup. He had to make sure that she would be screaming by the end of the night, and not in frustration.

All this implied that he survived through breakfast. As he made his way down to the dining hall, Shikamaru was starting to wonder how he would manage, and the glare Temari shot him as soon as he entered didn't leave him much hope.

"Sleep well?" she asked him icily.

"Like a log," he replied, automatically glancing towards the nearest exit. "Your brother really kicked me around the room yesterday, I was exhausted."

"If you think that's bad…" She leaned forward and lowered her voice. "What is it exactly you're waiting for, you tremendous jerk? An engraved invitation?"

"I didn't know there was an expiration date on your proposition. Geez, we're staying here nearly a month."

"Oh, so I'm just supposed to leave my door unlocked every fucking night and wait up in case you feel like a tumble? Sorry, but they have whorehouses for that."

Shikamaru bit down on his lip. He should have clamed up before the conversation had even started, but Temari's eyes were flashing and her cheeks were flushed and from this angle he could see her breasts rise and fall with every furious breath she took, and he simply couldn't resist.

"Can't leave the palace. Sandstorm."

Temari stood up so violently she nearly knocked the table over. Shikamaru prepared himself to duck a blow, but instead she smiled and turned her attention to a table further away, where the eldest members of the Suna council were having breakfast.

"Master Kenda," she said, addressing the most boring-looking, sour-mouthed old geezer of the lot. "Shikamaru Nara of the Leaf has expressed his wishes to go over the paperwork concerning the treaty with you. He thought two pairs of eyes might be more effective than just one."

"Why, I'd be delighted," the aged man replied. "I have a rather lengthy report I must go through, and it's always better to double-check."

Shikamaru suppressed a groan. If there was one thing he loathed, it was paperwork of any kind, but he couldn't possibly back out of this now without insulting his elder.

"Have fun," Temari said with a smirk. "And I'm expecting you in my room before midnight, I need my beauty sleep."

"I don't take orders from women," he said with a snort.

That sort of remark had already gotten him a load of grief from Sakura and Ino, back in Konoha. No doubt they would be pleased to know he considered Temari a fearsome opponent in the battle of the sexes. After an entire day of wading through endless lines of convoluted phrasing, Shikamaru felt like his eyes were starting to bleed. She had really hit where it hurt most.

Not only that, but he simply couldn't show up at her door after what had happened. If Temari was left to simmer any longer, there was no telling what she would do, yet his credibility as a male would take a serious blow if he did. And she wouldn't be interested in a cowering, submissive pansy anyway. So in the end there was no other solution than to barricade himself inside his room and skip breakfast altogether in the morning.

It was simple plan, in theory. But as soon as he had retreated for the night, Shikamaru could tell the decision was not going over well with his agonizing libido.

He lit a smoke to give himself a bit of aplomb and starting twirling his lighter between his fingers, but it wasn't helping one bit. He tried to focus his mind on more serious things – the letter he had to write to Choji, what he was going to bringing back for Sumei… But Konoha was too far away, beyond the desert and the sandstorm, and just a few corridors over, Temari was waiting for him, eager and willing… Perhaps she was already undressed – not everything, no, he liked her better with just a lace bra and panties…

Shikamaru squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head. What use was all his intelligence if it couldn't even keep him from fantasizing like a dim-witted teenager? Stubbing out his cigarette, he decided the best was to go to bed and simply pray for sleep to take over.

Once the lights were out, he felt a little better. It took a lot for him to miss out on sleep. Even during the most dangerous missions, he always managed to get some rest. It was a ninja's best asset… He and sleep were like Choji and food… Never one without the other…

A small sound tickled his ear. Sitting up, he realized someone was at the door. Someone with an extra set of keys.

"Shit," he hissed. Of course, she would know where to find that.

Shikamaru stayed riveted into place as Temari slipped into the room, wearing a plain black yukata.

"Temari, what -"

"What am I doing here? Use your brain, genius."

She climbed up on the mattress and straddled him unceremoniously. Shikamaru wasn't sure whether she intended to slap him or assault him, but the effect in on his bodily functions was immediate.

"Oh god," he moaned as she slowly bent down to lie on him. He captured her mouth in a rough kiss and felt every single one of his muscles grow tense as she continued to grind against him. The sensation was mind-blowing.

Temari felt smaller in his arms than she looked, an impression that strangely shook him. But she was just as strong up close, there was no doubt about that, and he complied without a word when she savagely tore his shirt off and flung it to the floor.

"Come on," she challenged him with a playful smile. "Don't you want to find out what's underneath?"

His hands sprung into action, sliding the fabric up her leg. So far, so good – he found nothing but a plane of smooth, silky skin as his palms rolled over her thighs. He hesitated for an instant before venturing further, but Temari gave a little whimper of impatience, and he took the plunge.

She wasn't wearing anything at all. And she was more than ready, he noted with a little tremor of victory. No wonder she hadn't been able to wait for him to come… But he didn't want to rush things, now that she was here – this was amazing all in its own, feeling her open at the brush of his fingertips, reaching for her very core, hearing her breath hitch at every stab…

She pushed his hand away suddenly and rolled over to the side, her yukata nearly split open. A few strands of hair were slipping out of her messy hairdo, and her eyes were glazed over with pure lust. The sight of her in such a state was almost enough to make him lose it right there and then.

"Take it off," she said, motioning towards his pyjama pants.

"Excuse me?"

She started to fiddle with the knot of her belt, and the dark fabric of her gown slid down her shoulder. "Now," she groaned.

This was too much. He was in no condition to negotiate or to deny her, if she couldn't wait another moment…

No sooner had he rid himself of his clothing that Temari stood up from the bed and closed her yukata again, acting as if they hadn't been on the verge of giving in to unbridled sex.

"Well, you know where to find me if you want the rest," she said.

He glared at her in disbelief. "What the fuck?"

"Just making sure you're not going to wait two more weeks before getting off your ass," she stated.

It dawned on him that she really was going to walk away and leave his raging erection unattended. Shikamaru couldn't believe this. She had let him think she was giving in, when in fact she had annihilated his defenses. She had outsmarted him. And now he was trapped, because if he was perfectly honest with himself, he would be hard-pressed to wait even twenty-four hours before cornering her somewhere and finishing the job.

"All right, you win," he grumbled, retrieving his pants.

"I already told you, you shouldn't concede defeat so easily," she said. "You put up a good fight… for a man."

She gave him a triumphant glance before she turned to leave. Shikamaru fell back on his pillow and reached for the pack he had left on the nightstand. This entire affair had turned out to be much more troublesome than he had anticipated. Yet he clearly remembered what his sensei had told him, so many years before – the cigarettes always worked, if you knew how to use them.

It was that goddamn wind, and that goddamn sandstorm, Shikamaru decided. It had thrown every off course. And yet as he watched the smoke curl up towards the ceiling, he didn't feel too bad about the turn of events. After all, in that sort of battle, nobody ever really lost.