Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. Naruto bleongs to Masashi Kishimoto.
Author's Note: This story takes place in the same parallel universe as "Sacrifice." The Fourth Kazekage (Father to Temari, Kankuro and Gaara) is still alive. And please, if you feel as if any characters are OOC, let me know. I tried with Temari, but I'm not sure how true to character it was.
Just a short friendship story between Temari and Tenten. R&R and enjoy.
Cold. It was so damn cold.
The snow wasn't really the problem. It didn't help, certainly, but it was the wind that cut through Temari like blades, jabbing her over and over. The gales picked up the powdery snow, pushing it across the plains, creating a type of effect that was reminiscent of the sandstorms in Temari's home region.
And it was just as dangerous.
If a person was caught out in a sandstorm, they would most likely be buried underneath a pile of sand and either die of suffocation or their neck would snap beneath the weight of the earth. Out here, a person could freeze to death. Some had frozen to death.
Temari had no doubt that she would soon be one of them.
When she was thirteen, she and Kankuro had accompanied Baki-sensei and another Jounin of Suna to the hidden village of Yuki in the Land of the Snow. Baki-sensei had insisted Gaara remain in Suna; despite his incredible skill, he was barely ten at the time. Kankuro and Temari had seen and felt snow for the first time in their lives.
Temari had forgotten how cold it was. And she had never been outside in the snow for such a long time.
Temari was startled to realize that the feeling of cold was ebbing away, gradually replaced by numbness. Fairly certain that this was a sign her body was succumbing to death, she gathered her strength and tried to push herself up off the ground. The effort was futile; she didn't have enough energy to move.
Despite the cold, Temari felt the heat of anger burn through her. Damn this. Damn her father for giving her the duty of Suna ambassador to Konoha. Damn herself for trying to journey to Konoha alone instead of waiting to travel with a team.
Despair replaced the anger coursing through her veins. She was going to die here. She was going to die, perhaps quickly, because her body wasn't accustomed to defending itself against the cold.
Temari inhaled deeply, the sharp, cold air biting her windpipe. So this was it. She would feel the water from the snow soaking into her clothing, the ridiculous cold, and her vision would darken and then it would be all over. Not exactly the long, full life she had imagined, but she supposed she had been lucky to make it through seventeen years, considering thirteen of those years were spent as sister to Sabaku no Gaara.
Gaara . . . would he be okay? After overcoming his initial fear of Gaara, Kankuro had become very protective of his younger brother. And Baki-sensei would take care of both of them, so everyone would be all right even if she was gone . . .
Suddenly, Temari realized that she could sense another chakra presence very close by. She waited, barely able to detect the other person, as they approached and knelt down next to her. Scarcely managing to open her eyes, she squinted due to the harsh wind, and looked directly into a pair of chocolate brown eyes. Then darkness closed in, overcoming her vision, and she faded into oblivion.
Bright lights seared through her eyelids, piercing directly into her brain, then burning holes into the back of her skull. Temari jolted awake, immediately sitting bolt upright, the room tilting back and forth as she did so. Temari closed her eyes and pressed her fingers against her temples to allay the dizziness that overcame her.
"Be careful," a level voice intoned. "Take it easy, you just woke up."
When Temari opened her eyes once more, she noticed that she was in a small hospital room, the only furnishings the bed she lay in, a bedside table, and a visitor's chair.
Currently occupying that chair was a girl she faintly recognized. She had been Temari's opponent during the Konoha Chunin exam preliminaries. Temari had defeated her in less than ten minutes; the girl's weapons had been no match for the whirlwind Temari had created with her fan. Temari had broken her spine with great satisfaction, and would have impaled her on her dozens of weapons if it hadn't been for that bothersome teammate of hers.
Now, nearly six months later, the girl (What was her name, anyway?) sat beside her hospital bed, casually reading a scroll. Temari's stomach lurched in realization as she realized she was wearing a hospital gown, and none of her tools, not even her fan, were in sight. If this girl was going to attack her, Temari knew she would have to use taijutsu, her weakest technique and if she remembered correctly, this girl's strongest. Temari studied her, trying to determine whether this girl intended any harm. Brunette, with her hair tied into a loose but neat bun just above the nape of her neck, wearing civilian clothing that was obviously tailor-made. Simple, Temari supposed, but tasteful.
Scowling, Temari realized that she was getting sidetracked. "What are you doing here?" she demanded.
The brunette girl rolled up the scroll, tucking it into one of the side pockets of her pants. She raised her eyes to Temari's. "Just making sure that you're all right." Her brown eyes casually met Temari's blue gaze, and then it occurred to Temari that these eyes were familiar.
"You're the one who saved me." The words came out in a snarl; Temari's pride was dealt a blow with the knowledge that she had needed to be rescued by a younger and weaker kunoichi.
The girl didn't appear to be bothered by Temari's savage tone. "Yes," she replied evenly. That was all.
The monosyllabic response annoyed Temari. The girl offered no further explanation for her actions, trying to make Temari ask about every detail, gloating the entire time.
Well, she wasn't going to get away with that.
"What's your name?" Temari abruptly asked, none too politely.
"Tenten." The one-word response struck again, increasing Temari's irritation.
"Tenten?" she sneered. "What kind of name is that?"
The girl's face remained completely expressionless. "It's a nickname that I prefer to my birth name. "
Temari scoffed, hiding her surprise. She had been trying to insult the other girl, but this Tenten was thick-skinned, and it hadn't worked. "Your real name must be terrible if you're willing to take that as a nickname."
A casual nod was the only response Temari received from Tenten. Her conversational skills appeared to be on par with her fighting. She was a better conversationalist than Gaara, at least, but that wasn't saying much.
Tenten rose from where she had been seated, and Temari noticed she was holding a small backpack, styled with a single strap that went over the shoulder, similar to the kind of bag a messenger would use to deliver scrolls.
"You're leaving?" Temari questioned, perplexed.
"Yes," Tenten said flatly.
"Already?" Temari was surprised. Perhaps Konoha civilians had a different etiquette for visiting those in the hospital.
"The only reason I came was to make sure my endeavors weren't useless," Tenten replied, in her oddly emotionless way of speaking. "My team was commissioned to search for you when you failed to arrive. If you had died, or had sustained any permanent damage, then I would be aware my team needed to practice search and rescue missions."
Offended by the careless way Tenten spoke, Temari bristled, but curiosity got the better of her. "What's in the bag?" Temari asked, her tone disdainful.
Tenten handed the bag to Temari. "Clothes," she said briefly, by way of explanation. "I don't know if what you had in your backpack was ruined by the snow or not."
"Wait," Temari said in disbelief. "You're willing to lend me clothes?"
"You can keep them," Tenten replied. "I own too many clothes. There's no longer space in my closet."
"You don't really strike me as the fashion diva type," Temari observed.
"My stepmother," Tenten said. She didn't add to the statement, and Temari supposed that unlike the other answers, in this case only a few words were sufficient.
Temari shook her head. "That's not the point. Why are you helping me? You already checked on me to monitor the skills of your team, there's no need for to go out of your way to be nice to me. If anything, you should hate me for winning while you lost."
Tenten paused on her way out the door. "Why should I hate you for that?"
" . . . What?" Temari stared at her. Because I defeated you in the most painful and humiliating way I could have, that's why!"
Tenten looked at her directly in the eyes. "Temari, when you defeated me in battle you showed me my weaknesses. You showed what I needed to do to become stronger. There's no reason to hate you for that." Fierce determination glinted in Tenten's eyes. It might've unsettled anyone else, but Temari had Gaara for a younger brother. "Someday, though, I want a rematch."
Temari smirked. "Well then, someday, I'll give it to you."
Tenten nodded at her, then left her room, closing the door after her. Alone with no one to see her in her weakened condition, Temari laid down, intertwining her fingers and putting them behind her head.
Color at the edge of her vision caught her eye, and Temari turned to see what she hadn't noticed before. A bright bouquet of flowers was nestled in a pretty glass vase on her bedside table.
Temari's smirk grew. "Checking to make sure her 'endeavors weren't useless,'" she muttered. "Yeah, right."
Temari then surprised herself by wishing Tenten would visit again tomorrow.