Motivation

by Original Blue

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.

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M is for Motivation, or lack thereof.

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The council had been called, but most of its members were in their sixties and not inclined to moving quickly.

Gaara waited impassively with Kankuro at the head of the table as the leaders assembled. Only the tension in the set of the Kazekage's shoulders revealed that there was something wrong.

Behind him and to the right, Kankuro balled his hands into fists. "I don't care who they choose; if Temari doesn't slit his throat I will," he said under his breath, for Gaara's ears alone. He glanced out the window. "Even the Nara would have been better."

Gaara sensed his sister and her lover climbing the stairs beneath them and smiled. "Yes, he would." When he heard their feet touch the landing, he rose, and the room's occupants fell silent.

"This meeting has been called to address the subject of Sabaku no Temari's marriage," said Gaara quietly.

The council members hushed instantly.

"I understand that several clans, including those with members in this room, wish to further the interests of Kaze no Kuni." He laced his fingers in front of him. "The laws of this land are not to be ignored," he said, "so I have decided to nominate a candidate for your consideration."

The room held its breath.

"The man I am speaking of is Nara Shikamaru."

There were shouts of outrage from the members of the Morichi clan, and the Hidozawas' leader turned an ugly shade of purple. Apparently no one liked the prospect of Temari marrying outside of Suna's ranks.

"He's from Konoha!" someone yelled, and Gaara raised a hand for quiet.

"Yes, he is from Konoha, one of our allies. He is also the Nara Clan heir, a jounin squad leader, academy instructor, a member of the Hokage's council, and a friend of mine." He regarded his audience. "You may remember that he was also my second in command in the Fourth Shinobi War, and he served us all well in defeating Madara."

The head of the Hidozawa Clan stood. "Where is this man that you speak so highly of?" The color had not faded from his cheeks. "Is he afraid to confront us? Before we cast our votes, we should appraise him."

Gaara gazed unflinchingly in his critic's direction. "He is outside, with my sister."

And then the door opened, just as Shikamaru and Gaara had planned it, revealing Temari and her companion.

Nara Shikamaru saluted the Gaara. "Kazekage–sama, I request permission to marry your sister."

Gaara almost smiled at his relaxed manner, but knew he needed to maintain a neutral image. "You have my full support."

The two men just looked at each other for a moment, and then Temari stepped forward.

"I believed my marriage is being discussed? Why wasn't I summoned?"

The only woman from the council was from the Morichi Clan. "You were on patrol," she said, her voice an ancient croak. "We do not pull jounin from their tasks to discuss something so trivial."

"Trivial?"

Shikamaru knew the look on Temari's face and backed up a step, her brothers following suit.

"You think the decision of my marriage is trivial?"

Quietly, Shikamaru slipped out of the room and met the Sabaku brothers in the hallway. He nodded to Gaara and gave Kankuro the reports from the Godaime, then waited for the threats to begin.

It didn't take long to start, and went on for about half an hour.

Occasionally they heard the sound of Temari taking out her frustration verbally on the terrified members of the council, but the walls were thick, and sand absorbs a lot of noise.

Finally, Temari walked out, breathing hard, but with a self–satisfied smirk on her lips. "They decided my marriage could wait," she said nonchalantly. "And the Hidozawa guy is taking a trip to Kumo for a while. Possibly years."

She grabbed Shikamaru's hand and towed him down the hall.

Kankuro turned to Gaara. "I love the way she does politics."

Leaning against the railing with a smile, Gaara responded. "I'm not sure any of them will attend another meeting with her present." He shook his head. "I should let her handle them more often."

At the end of the hall, Temari pulled away from Shikamaru for a moment. "Oh, and Gaara – it's now illegal in Suna for the marriages of adults to be arranged, by their families, clans or any form of governing body." She returned to kissing Shikamaru.

...

"You're like the cat that killed a whole flock of canaries," he commented later, lazing in her sheets.

She flicked his arm. "Don't spoil the mood," she warned. "I could kick your butt all the way back to Hi no Kuni."

He walked his fingers up her arm. "But then you'd miss it."

She smiled, and gave him a serious look. "How did you know when to come to Suna?"

He yawned. "I asked your brother when he would call the meeting."

"You what?"

He groaned and brushed his lips against her neck. "Stop being so mad at me, would you, you troublesome woman? It was the only thing I could think of that would work."

"Why didn't you ask me?" she said, feeling slightly hurt that he would talk to her brother but not her.

Shika gave her an appraising look. "Because someone hasn't been answering my letters."

"Oh." She turned crimson.

"Yeah." He rolled over and kissed her intently for several minutes. "Don't worry about it. Everything turned out fine, didn't it?"

She grinned slyly, arms winding around his neck. "I guess it did," she said, still smiling. "And you turned into a real jounin while I wasn't looking."

"Unfortunately," he grumbled. "You wouldn't believe the amount of paperwork twenty almost–genin can produce."

She smirked, gently biting his lower lip and eliciting a gasp. "And all you needed was a little motivation."

...

Epilogue

...

The house was cold, but it was Spring again, Temari's least favorite season. Why couldn't it be like Suna, where the seasons were pretty similar in terms of temperature?

I hate the rain, she thought with a sigh, not for the first time and certainly not for the last.

She padded softly down the hall, a toddler on one hip, as the light mist outside turned into a miserable drizzle.

"Tema?" came the husky voice from their bedroom. Shikamaru sat up and rubbed his eyes. "Is everything okay?"

She nodded and sat on the edge of the bed. "Shikari wanted some tea, so I had some too."

He raised an eyebrow and let his wife curl into his arms. "Did you have honey with it?"

She gave him an annoyed look. "Yes."

"And peanut butter? And peaches? And chocolate covered pistachios?"

Her eyes narrowed. "We have chocolate covered pistachios?"

Shika laughed at his wife's odd cravings. "You were like this when you were pregnant with Kari too." He planted a kiss on her forehead and their daughter's.

Temari dozed with her chin just above Shikari's head. "We both like peaches," she defended in a murmur, and felt his fingers brush through her tangled hair.

Shikamaru glanced once more at the two most beautiful people he knew and closed his eyes, a smile quirking his lips. "I know."

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M is for Motivation, or lack thereof.

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