AN: A kind reader suggested that more Shika/Tema would delight, and I'm more than happy to oblige. This one's not as good as my others, but it's cute and you've already clicked the link, so haha.


She traces the characters into her thigh, staring blankly out into the maroon expanse between them.

Somewhere on earth Shikamaru is standing, and the unspeakable thing about it is that she thinks, without any provocation or proof, he'll last longer than the walls of sheer stone that shields Sunagakure in it's own biosphere of ill will.

----

These things has she loved:

The rough touch of wool blankets, barely insulating the bamboo floors which chill her thin skin. It's a papery room somewhere in the tangle of Konoha, the tangle of veins which feed a heart she's never seen before in a land. This place is alive, and she feels the warmth even in this disconnected, distant closet that foreign emissaries are set up in. Temari wraps the gruff covering about her full form, and pads over to the single, painted window in the blank tatami room. Someone is singing on a street below, the sound wafting gently above the sunken cold air and the greasy stink of yakitori from the streets below, finding her on the third floor. The kid is half-drunk and mangling the old hymm, but she still sits to hear it, regarding the moon and loving her job.

The twittering of water between mossy rocks, and the exfoliation of a shining pond she has to break the ice from. It is a day they've escaped to the woods, without rhyme or reason, and Temari feels very dirty all of the sudden. She lays aside her red sash and shrugs the robe from her shoulders, sinking into the sandy pool in only her undergarments. It is unspeakably chill and fresh, painful to the point of inciting glee. She laughs, without thinking of it, and lets her buzzing head loll back beneath the depths. She's lighter than air, lithe and above all of the grime of her life; it is perfectly calm down here, the only sound the quiet pulsing of the life that's in water. "I'm not standing here all day," Shikamaru reminds her when she surfaces; he is standing in the bushes nearby, back staunchly to her, watching for perverts that might wander by. She climbs out into the freezing air at his insistence, and pulls on her kimono without regard to how it plasters against her wet skin or how she stings from head to toe. She is pulling her hair back, not the same at all, when Shikamaru comes traipsing over to consume her with his brown, doe eyes.

"You're really weird, you know that?"

Lying there without dreams or faith, wondering what's so damn thrilling about the clouds; listening to him snore, and knowing that's he's nodded off while she was talking (way to make a girl feel like a million bucks). But instead of stepping on his face, like she should, Temari rolls over onto her stomach and stares at him for a very long time; at the soft curve of his cheekbones, like beach pebbles worn smooth by generations of waves, at his parted lips and his rumpled, old-man forehead. He's saying something with this, something she'll have to grow new ears to listen to. The wind wails above, and tomorrow she'll be pitting her life against the fan she's left home; but for now it's just nice to lie in the grass beside his thick, warm body, to curl at his side and contemplate believing in things again.

----

Back here, but not back home; begrimed from the road and weighed down by the gray sadness that permeates this land, Temari lays her hands in her lap. The sun is sinking over the horizon, and she knows it sleeps in Konoha; that's where it gets the blinding audacity to shine in the long days. She knows all good things are born from there, including this new part of herself; this peace.