Title: Behind Closed Doors
Fandom: Naruto
Pairing: ShikaTema
Theme set: Delta
Rating: T
Warning[s]: A few adult themes, swearing, spoilers.

Summary: They are shinobi, and as shinobi, love isn't something to be displayed, showed off or shouted out to the world. As shinobi, love is hidden and secret and subtle...and painfully obvious behind closed doors.

Author's Note: I consider myself an intermediate in the 50 sentence business, but I'm a novice in Naruto and ShikaTema, so here's hoping I hit the bullseye! Reviews are wonderful as always, and I'd love it if you'd mention any of the sentences that caught your attention in particular. I thrive on feedback! If the response is good, I'm thinking about doing another one...

#01 - Air

For some reason he couldn't yet grasp: when Temari gave him that (savagebeautiful) grin, Shikamaru had to remind himself to breathe.

#02 - Apples

She takes a bite out of his apple without permission, and while he scowls and grumbles ("Troublesome woman."), his friends' eyes almost bug out of their sockets when he doesn't even hesitate to bite the exact same place, a hint of a smirk on his lips at her flustered glare.

#03 - Beginning

He just couldn't find it in him to hurt her and her stubborn spirit, not when she looked at him like that, with that desperately struggling, trapped expression that made him feel like the bad guy.

#04 - Bugs

He tells himself that he is most certainly not bothered at all when he comes back from a mission to find Temari visiting, with Shino as her escort (perhaps he is scowling slightly more than usual, and perhaps he is relieved when Temari drops by his apartment for a shogi match or two or fifteen, perhaps he is secretly, secretly smug when he ends up spending more time with her than Shino, perhaps he practically falls over his own two feet when he finds out Shino already has a girlfriend, perhaps, perhaps, perhaps- but, even so, he will never admit to such out of character, troublesome things).

#05 - Coffee

It's 5am in the morning, her favourite coffee's getting cold and he's tired and sick of fighting; he just wants her to open the door and forgive him already.

#06 - Dark

There are some nights, when she thrashes around in her sleep, whimpering and pleading to a man long dead, that he finds her so weak and vulnerable and so un-Temari that it hurts to watch; her confused looks in the morning, when he refuses to let go of her for a while, are both a blessing and a curse (she always forgets her nightmares).

#07 - Despair

It is some weeks after Asuma's death when Temari visits again, and, to the surprise of many gossipers, talks to him normally, looks at him normally, treats him normally (save for one moment of weakness when he caught sight of a terribly familiar looking lighter, and the look on his face prompted her to place a hand on his shoulder, just for a few seconds, before moving away) and Shikamaru is grateful for her normal behaviour, knows that this is Temari's way of comforting him, this is her way of telling him that she knows he's hurting right now, and she's sorry for it, but it's a hurt he chose to risk when he became a shinobi, and he needs to learn to deal with it by himself, needs to learn how to grieve even if others don't give him the chance, needs to learn to pick himself back up when he falls without help (she wants him to be able to survive anyone's death, and that is far more important than coddling him with unreliable words and promises).

#08 - Doors

"Alright class, since you're all so cheery today, I'll ask you a question that's going to affect your grades... which one of you punks thought it'd be funny to write 'Mrs Nara' on Te- the Suna ambassador's hotel door?!"

#09 - Drink

He blinks in surprise when she smoothly hands him her water bottle ("You never bother to pack one, lazy idiot.") and twitches when his friends' snicker behind their hands.

#10 - Duty

She's always inwardly scoffed at that pink haired girl's devotion to that renegade, but then the tables are turned when he asks that secretly dreaded question ("What...what would you do if you had to pick between...Konoha and Suna?") and she suddenly understands Sakura's feelings all too well.

#11 - Earth

The first time she tackled Shikamaru to the ground, he'd said something stupid and had to fight off the enraged woman's half-serious attempts to strangle him; the second time she tackled him...well, the circumstances were...significantly different.

#12 - End

There's a tiny, hidden, oppressed part of him that actually likes walking around with her and kinda, sorta, maybe wishes the preparations didn't end.

#13 - Fall

He swore, on pain of death, to keep the memory of her first and only stumble a secret until the grave ("...I told you to be careful, you know." "Shut up!" "That's my thanks for catching you?" "ARGH!").

#14 - Fire

Sometimes, when she's fighting and winning against generally fatal odds, there's a certain gleam in her eyes that he both loves and hates; because it's so obvious, then, that she belongs to that land of scorching sands and vicious wind, and not to his land of cool breezes and lush nature, even though he desperately wants her to.

#15 - Flexible

They are sparring in the sun when she twists a certain, ridiculously elastic way to dodge his shadow, and for a moment, he can't move; he has the strangest, strongest urge to push her against the wall.

#16 - Flying

He knows she's pissed when she marches into his room and sends his shogi board and pieces flying with a well placed, furious kick- but why his old man is smirking at him, of all things, he has no clue.

#17 - Food

Suna food is spicy and tangy and everything he hates in a meal ("Well? How is it?" "...Passable." "You finished the whole thing, and it's only 'passable'?!") but he'll deal with it.

#18 - Foot

When no one's looking, he likes shutting her up with his mouth ("If you say anything, anything to anyone about this, I swear I'll kick out your teeth and-mph!" "Mmmhmm.")

#19 - Grave

He doesn't know why he brought her with him to here of all places, but her presence is quiet and sombre and comforting in a way no one else can quite pull off- and when she insists on paying her respects to his teacher, the rush of fondness for her makes his chest ache.

#20 - Green

He ignores the warmth in his chest when she comments that the green nature of Konoha is beautiful (a small voice, deep inside of him, wonders if she would mind staying here forever).

#21 - Head

She likes to lean up and kiss his forehead, because he always gives a small, odd, rare smile when she does.

#22 - Hollow

For the first time since he met her, Temari has been injured (it doesn't make sense) and as he sits in the waiting room, he fidgets, and fidgets, and fidgets,her brothers still and silent as stone beside him (Temari doesn't gethurt, why didn't the doctors understand that?) and the hospital is white when it should be red, like the colour of her blood (surely all that blood didn't come out of her, Temari doesn't get hurt, Temari doesn't bleed, Temari doesn't get sent to the hospital, it just doesn't happen) and, oh Kami, he is scared.

#23 - Honor

It is a mixture of jealousy at straying eyes and anger at harsh rumours that makes him march up to her one day and demand she lengthens her skirt (even though, fuck, he'll miss those legs).

#24 - Hope

She looks at him and his thin eyebrows, ever-frowning face, gravity defying hair which was only slightly less ridiculous than her own, and smiles to herself, because a part of her hopes (and another part of her knows) that she's found something other people spend their whole lives searching for.

#25 - Light

He is surprised when she doesn't object to his smoking, and then, shocked and hypocritically enraged when she asks him for a light the next day; he is so busy making up plots and reasons for her to quit the unhealthy habit, that he ends up quitting himself, if only to make sure the troublesome woman didn't kill herself.

#26 - Lost

She smirks up at him from her hospital bed, acting so brave and brash despite her pale skin and blood soaked bandages ("Don't tell me you were actually worried? Idiot. A few stabs won't take Temari of Suna down.") and he wants to smirk back, but just can't find it in him to do anything but sigh and sit down; he is grateful later when (it finally hits him, he could've lost her, Temari, gone, forever, just like that and) she pretends not to see his shaking shoulders.

#27 - Metal

She seems to have a fetish for tugging lightly on his earrings when they're in bed, but he can't complain- after all, he gets to loosen her hair.

#28 - New

Maybe he had a hidden possessive streak, or too big an ego, or just didn't understand since he never had siblings- but, whatever the reason, when Shikamaru really saw, for the first time, the extent of her devotion to her siblings, he felt something inside him twist and burn with envy.

#29 - Old

"...This fan was my mother's," she says, and he feels like he's just been given a world of secretly treasured, forbidden memories, ("...Oh.") and a universe of trust.

#30 - Peace

The moments he loves most are, predictably, the laziest: late morning, waking up first, watching her sleeping face and counting her breaths.

#31 - Poison

Fucking snakes, fucking venom, fucking Shikamaru, idiot, doesn't even watch where he's stepping; Temari's gritting her teeth as she fumbles with the anti-venom, a part of her worrying that she should not be this shaken, not about this mere boy-turning-man ,but she still blinks back tears as she tilts his head back and makes him swallow ("You aren't dying that fucking easily, Shikamaru!").

#32 - Pretty

It's times like this, when she's all dressed up and alluring and so much more than just pretty, times likes this that he feels like he's getting cornered into something he's not sure he doesn't want.

#33 - Rain

They're not quite as upset at having to stay the night at the inn as they make themselves out to be.

#34 - Regret

He's been planning this for three months straight and though he isn't one to regret a decision or second-guess himself, the way she is so oblivious to his intention to propose makes him ridiculously nervous.

#35 - Roses

Though he knows she has her thorns, she's anything but a rose in his eyes- imagining Temari being all elegant and tragic and portraying true love, pfft, the contrast makes him laugh.

#36 - Secret

He's glad they're not an open, PDA-obsessed couple, but sometimes, he can't help but tease her and love it when he sees that rare blush coat her cheeks.

#37 - Snakes

The way he embraces her is surprisingly possessive: his head firmly tucks into her shoulder and strong arms wrap around her with absolutely no intention of letting go.

#38 - Snow

He still can't figure out how their impromptu snow ball fight ended up turning into a make out session.

#39 - Solid

She's drunk, Shikamaru reminds himself, trying to push away a ridiculously inebriated Temari as she drapes herself over him rather suggestively, she's drunk, drunk, nibbling his earlobe dr...dr..dru..drun...wh...what...was...the word...?

#40 - Spring

She shows him the spiky cacti and their beautiful blooming flowers, unhesitating and determined even underneath the harsh desert's glaring sun, and he has to stop himself from smirking at the similarities.

#41 - Stable

They have a pretty fixed schedule for whenever Temari comes to Konoha: breakfast is eaten at Ichiraku's and greetings are traded with teasing friends, the embassy is visited and work is done, Shikamaru is sent out for coffee he pays for, more work is grudgingly accomplished, they break for lunch and the tab is split, back to the embassy to work again, preparations are watched over before they knock off, Konoha is toured with a souvenir or two being bought for her brothers', Shikamaru makes a point of walking the indignant sand nin back to her hotel, their hands occasionally brush on the way, they bid each other goodnight and head to bed feeling cheerful, looking forward to tomorrow (it's no secret that they love the schedule).

#42 - Strange

She laughs when he tells her (he doesn't really know why he does, he just mentions it in passing) how the men in Konoha propose, and although some part of him says he should be irritated at her flippantness, his lips can't help but twitch up at the corners ("W-with a, haha, with a ring? Really?" "What did you expect, woman? A weapon?" "That's how we do it in Suna." "..With a wea-...really?" "Mmmhmm.") and he suddenly has the strongest urge to examine that bladed fan he'd glimpsed in a shop window...

#43 - Summer

Naruto was very startled, and considerably smug, to find that when he suggested catching sight of something he shouldn't have seen occurring between the Suna ambassador and his guide, they both spoke up with amusingly different protests ("The summer heat got to me and I was dizzy. I just crashed into her." "It was winter and I was cold, he was just making sure I didn't freeze.")

#44 - Taboo

He doesn't know when, doesn't know how, barely knows why, though he knows it shouldn't happen, knows he should have prevented it, knows that it's all so horribly, wonderfully right (in his dreams, his children have her teal eyes).

#45 - Ugly

She has always known the world was an ugly, unforgiving place (no one can have a childhood like hers and not know) but, somehow, seeing him cry for his friends and teammates, seeing him swear to become stronger, not to prove himself or gain something, but to protect them, to keep everyone under his care alive...somehow, when she sees him do that, the world looks...just a little beautiful.

#46 - War

Though he doesn't always show it, Shikamaru is terrified: terrified of making a mistake and costing someone their life, terrified of losing a comrade and gaining a grave to visit, terrified of a certain fiery girl (far too reckless) dying three days away from him, terrified of all the ways the world can collapse under his feet, terrified of the sky falling down, terrified, terrified, terrified- and his father was right, he was a coward, but at the very least, he will push down his fears, he will square his shoulders and fight against and the odds, and though he may not always win every battle, he will win this war against death (it doesn't matter if he dies in the end, but he swears that his loved ones will be breathing at his funeral, damn it all).

#47 - Water

Seeing her again after being deprived of her presence for months was like finding an oasis of water in the middle of the desert ("If I don't have you in my arms in under 10 seconds, I can't guarantee I won't grab you." "I-i-idiot! My brothers are watching!" "Don't care. Time's up." ).

#49 - Winter

While eating a hot breakfast she wonders if he is warm in Konoha, then shakes her head and forces the thought away; as she changes her clothes, she absentmindedly asks herself if he bought a new coat like she told him to- and bangs her head on her closet's door; in the office, a white, clear piece of paper is in front of her, waiting for her to write an important message, and she notes to herself that she should ask whether it was snowing in Konoha- and roughly slaps her cheeks (the pattern continues and worsens, until the Hokage receives a mildly confusing letter from the Kazekage, politely demanding that, for the sake of his sister's physical safety, she send her best strategist to Suna for a few weeks).

#50 - Wood

Light breaks through the tree branches and gives Temari an almost ethereal look as she grins at him; Shikamaru swallows, looks away, and grabs her hand ("...I...you... Come around more often." "I missed you too, lazy ass.").