After reading the latest manga chapters, I realized that one should not write a battle scene for Shikamaru without knowing at least the basics of Shogi, or at least find a good list of Shogi proverbs.

Naruto and the Narutoverse belong to Masashi Kishimoto and Viz media. "Desert Rose" belongs to Sting. With lyrics like this, how can you not picture Shikamaru thinking about Temari?


Sweet desert rose
I lift my gaze to empty skies above
I close my eyes
This rare perfume is the sweet intoxication of her love


He could see Temari from his hiding place as she sat upon a rock, long slender legs crossed as she sat cleaning her tessen. They had arrived early to make sure that they had the advantage of scrutinizing the terrain before the enemy's arrival. Temari looked absolutely bored, but Shikamaru knew that she was far from it. They had had to stop several times before reaching their appointed destination just so he could get her refocused. He smirked to himself. Shikamaru always did think that she was "as subtle as a rhino" but having the chore of reining in the "rhino" was a different story.

Actually, if he hadn't been analyzing her for the past hour polishing her fan, no one else would be able to see how nervous she was. Watching her take a deep breath, he could see her gather her emotions one more time as she began to inspect her weapon of choice. It was a nervous habit of almost all shinobi to inspect their weapons while waiting for a fight. Shikamaru just hoped that it would hide their intentions as they waited. The last thing they needed was for this shinobi to get spooked by something that looked off to him. Shikamaru glanced at his watch. The sadist was only five minutes late. It could mean nothing. It could mean that he was nearby watching her or trying to get under her skin. Looking up at the empty skies, Shikamaru calculated just how much time they had remaining as they waited. Whatever the reason for his tardiness, he needed to stay as alert as possible.

His Shadow Concealment had him well hidden from sight. It was similar to a jutsu the late Jiraiya-sama had used to control other shinobi and he had stumbled upon the notes in his family's library. With it, he was able to add his shadow to another, either animate or inanimate, before he literally dissolved into the combined shadow. He loved using this one for intelligence gathering missions. No one really paid much attention to how accurately the shadow portrayed the corresponding object and he took advantage of it. He appeared as just another part of the combined shadow of Temari and the rock.

From his vantage point, Shikamaru was able to see both Temari and the dunes between them and the outpost. He wanted Temari alone, but what he didn't know was their advantage. The shadow-nin could sense someone coming and he looked for any sign of their visitor. A breeze started to kick up between Temari and a large dune where the swirling sand settled to reveal their nemesis striding towards them. The man had a girl with short brown hair hanging from under one arm. Her slender form just dangled, as she remained unconscious. Shikamaru could feel anger building in his chest at the sight of the poor, helpless Chuunin, but he forced his mind not to think about what the poor girl may have been through since her capture. He could see Temari in his peripheral vision, her expression was blank, as she looked at their opponent. However, a fire had started behind those teal eyes and Shikamaru had a good idea who she was going to take her anger out on very soon.

Temari stood up slowly. Shikamaru watched as Temari calmly tucked her cleaning rag in her obi and placed her fan against the ground. It was still closed, but she held it out at arm's length. It was a posture meant to intimidate and he recognized it from when they fought years ago. Kami, he couldn't help but notice just how sexy she was standing there with her weight mostly on one leg so that her hip jutted out just so. Shikamaru made sure that his shadow remained attached to her own, waiting for the moment when he would be needed.

"Hello, Hime." A smug expression was on their opponent's face as he spoke. His overconfidence would be his downfall if Shikamaru had anything to do with it.

"Your message said you wanted to talk with me in exchange for the girl. As you can see, I'm here. Put the girl down and we can talk," Temari said. She remained perfectly in control of her emotions and the enemy shinobi seemed just a bit surprised at her calm demeanor.

'That's it Temari. You're doing great. Just get me close,' Shikamaru thought, mentally willing that she would stick with their plan. Half-praying that Gaara had received his message and that "reinforcements" were on the way.

The sun was perfect today, lots of long shadows this morning and it was putting him in a good mood considering the circumstances. He could feel anticipation building as Temari and her nemesis exchanged pleasantries. There was only one other battle that had made him feel like this. He wasn't sure if it was the personal nature that was making it more exhilarating, but he was ready to fulfill his part of the plan. Now if he could only keep himself from being distracted by Temari's long legs at this angle, he would be fine.

"I think I'll hang on to her for a little while longer. I want to make sure that I have your full attention. She's perfectly fine with me."

Temari and Shikamaru could hear her make a small moan in response. She wasn't unconscious after all, just unable to move under her own power. Temari eyed him suspiciously, but kept her calm.

"I'm not going anywhere. There is no reason for you to involve the girl anymore. Just set her down. I have some business of my own to settle with you," Temari's command was unmistakable. Her anger was building, but she was channeling it. Good girl.

"And I with you. The girl was a good distraction, but she's nothing compared to you. Temari-hime, you know you left me with a broken heart. There is no one that can make me feel like you do," he said before he flickered and appeared right behind Temari.

Temari may have been in control of her emotions, but this guy certainly was not. He was reminding Shikamaru of a certain Snake Sannin the way he was practically salivating on Temari as he stood behind her. Temari had turned her head to look over her shoulder, but she didn't move any more than that. She needed to stay in control of the moment. Letting her anger out on him now would be a mistake that they couldn't afford to make. Temari's anger was his high, a come on as far as this sadist was concerned. It was obvious that he just wanted her for the challenge. There was no way a mental shinobi like this would find real pleasure in loving this woman like Shikamaru hoped to.

Taking advantage of the moment, Shikamaru began to reach for Asuma's chakra knife. Silently he charged the knife, waiting for the moment when he would need it. He placed it between his teeth, as it was now time for him to prepare the next step. He could feel the pulse in the metal, but he needed to focus on his chakra and Temari. Shikamaru began making the required hand seals, focusing his chakra into the surrounding shadows.

Slowly, effortlessly he began to feel the shadows around him respond to his own. No one realized how different every persons shadow was and he hadn't really appreciated it when his father had been teaching him the family jutsu when he was younger. Shikamaru had happened to stumble on this fact when playing with people's shadows, as they would pass him on the street. Most people just thought he was being his lazy self as he watched them pass him by, but he was playing with their shadows as they passed unawares over his own. More than once, he had freaked out Naruto with this game when he would catch just the edge of his friend's shadow with a split second Shadow Possession as he passed, causing him to trip over himself. The blonde still hadn't figured out that Shikamaru was the one that had been playing the prank on the prankster. Whenever Naruto looked his direction, he would just nod calmly and act as if nothing happened. He considered it payback for all the times Naruto had gotten him in trouble back in the Academy.

Grabbing a hold of the girl's shadow, he slowly took control of her muscles. He had no idea of how badly she was hurt, but her legs and arms seemed sound and he just needed the chance to get her out of the way. They needed this to be a clean fight. Through her shadow, he could tell that the grip on her wasn't that strong and he twisted just enough that she fell to the ground. The semi-conscious Chuunin landed just where he wanted her to and he popped up out of the shadow, grabbed her and flipped out of the way in one fluid motion. While he was halfway out of his shadow, he pulled the knife from his teeth and threw it into the part of the enemy shinobi's shadow that had not crossed Temari's.

Landing several meters away, next to some larger chunks of desert rock, Shikamaru announced, "Shadow Possession successful."

The other shinobi was able to turn his head just enough to give Shikamaru and confused and angry glare. Shikamaru set the girl down gently on the leeward side of the rocks, making sure that her head was supported and that she was not too badly injured. He had business to take care of, but trouble was busy fighting against his Shadow Possession at the moment. He could hear the ninja making vulgar threats toward him, but he paid them no mind as his attention drifted from the Chuunin to the rage-fueled kunoichi assessing her target.

"Once I break free from this jutsu, you'll be the first to feel my anger. Hime, I told you that I wanted a meeting with you alone!" he said glaring at Temari. "How dare you let that slime here? I have half a mind to kill all three of you."

"Shikamaru, I suggest that you let him go," Temari said as she glared at the man that was now before her.

Shikamaru smirked and replied, "As you wish."

He had a good idea what she was planning and sent out a shadowy tendril to retrieve the chakra knife. Once he pulled it from the shadowy sand, Temari took her tessen and smacked the shinobi up the side of his head hard enough to cause him to stumble. Once he regained his footing, they could see blood seeping from the corner of his mouth where she had split his lip.

Temari calmly stepped back so that she was at a better distance for her tessen to perform her wind-based jutsu better and with a flick of her wrist, she opened it only a small distance. Not enough to do any real damage and Shikamaru knew that she was toying with him. Taking up a defensive stance, Shikamaru waited for his opportunity to join the fight or dodge her technique depending on what Temari decided to do.

Temari started to sweep her fan in one giant arch, building up momentum until she was in the center of a small tornado that was picking up sand, as her fan was moving so quickly now that Shikamaru could not see it. The enemy grunted and Shikamaru could see that his skin changed to a more earth tone color than his normal tan; earth jutsu user indeed. Shikamaru was afraid of what was about to happen and the enemy shinobi stomped toward his prey, the jutsu obviously making his limbs heavier as well. Jabbing his arm into the cyclone, the shinobi gave an evil smirk as he had caught a hold of something within. The cyclone stopped and Shikamaru couldn't help but feel his breath hitch as he hoped that he hadn't caught Temari in that outstretched hand.

Once the sand settled, Shikamaru could see his broad hand clamped onto the delicate throat of Temari. She struggled for a moment before disappearing in a cascade of sand. A sand clone and Shikamaru thought that was only a jutsu used by her brothers. Temari was standing a few meters away, one purple circle showing on her tessen. Shikamaru felt himself relax and his lungs began to work again.

She smirked and said, "Missed."

The ninja's face contorted with a scowl and he started to lumber his way towards where she was standing on the top of the dune. With a cry, Shikamaru sent out his shadowy tendrils and they wove around the man. A split second before they took a hold of him, the man disappeared and reappeared right behind Temari. He apparently had release his earth jutsu, allowing him to move faster. Shikamaru knew that they were just outside of his reach and charged the chakra knife again so that he could extend his range. He held back only because Temari looked as if she was preparing another jutsu and he knew that her cycling winds were not something he wanted to be caught in, connected to the victim through his shadows or by himself.

The young Chuunin let out painful moan, which caused Shikamaru to turn and kneel down at her level. Her eyes were still closed, but her breathing seamed ragged. The Leaf-nin wondered if she had sustained broken ribs during her captivity and began to check her thoroughly for injuries. What he wouldn't give to have Ino or Sakura here right now. First aid was not his area of expertise. The girl lay limply as he checked her ribs over for any obvious breaks; he felt his stomach bottom out when he noticed she was smirking.

"Shimitta," he hissed, right before she sliced through the front of his flak jacket, effectively cutting through a few of the front pockets.

Shikamaru lost a few half-sliced scrolls as he jumped awkwardly backwards. He landed right into the arms of a couple of enemy ninja; he assumed they had come with the bruit that was currently fighting Temari. How could he have missed this? The Chuunin changed forms to reveal a wiry and ragged looking man in his mid 30's. Henge no jutsu. Child's play and he had missed it.

Cursing under his breath, he tried to go into the shadow sewing hand signs and found himself being restrained on both sides, arms held apart, before he could send the inky lines of his shadow out. Two of the three thugs had his arms and the third proceeded to send a blow to his midsection that took his air away and made his head swim with the pain from the blow. Coughing up blood, Shikamaru knew that this was a turn in events that he had failed to foresee. By now, he should know that bad guys always come in groups and that the only reason these three hadn't shown up before is that the leader was a cocky bastard that had planned on them believing that he was a solo act. Actually, Temari had mentioned he was on a team at one point and he had just assumed that the other three were destroyed when the one Temari was currently battling was believed to be dead the first time. No matter, now he needed to regroup his thoughts and adjust his plan, as soon as these three were tired of beating him bloody. What a troublesome turn in events.

Blow after blow, Shikamaru tried to focus as much chakra into the areas where the thugs were focusing all their energy, hoping that it would minimize the damage.

'Damn it! These guys just won't give up,' he thought to himself.

He could hear Temari crying for them to stop in the background and he glanced up at her as much as his head would rise to see her battling the leader with all her rage. That was the last thing she needed to do, feed the desires of the sadistic bastard. He wanted her angry, enraged and he was getting it from her. Shikamaru took several more blows to the stomach before he was able to look up again and he found that Temari was caught by the front of her dress, staring angrily into the eyes of her enemy. This time, she wasn't dissipating into sand. She was the real thing and apparently, the bastard was whispering something in her ear that was making her glance helplessly at Shikamaru. In between punches, Shikamaru was able to get out the phrase, "Don't…don't listen… to him… Temari! It's… a lie!"

Temari's face blanched as the bastard whispered some more with a glare focused on Shikamaru's face and a look of victory when he glanced back at Temari. He let go of her dress as he caught her by the waist. He began to ravaged her cheek and neck with his mouth before confidently walking behind her and loosely wrapping his arms around her shoulders, hands dangling in their embrace. Temari stood there as if frozen by a shadow possession jutsu. She looked as if her heart was breaking; she hung her head so that her bangs covered her eyes. He had said something that had taken the fight out of her. Shikamaru looked on in horror, unable to do anything. Rage started to build within him as he took several more blows to the head and stomach. These guys just wouldn't let up!

The troublesome trio took a small break from their beating and studied his bent over form, as they tried to figure out just how much more Shikamaru could take before they upped the ante. From somewhere deep within, Shikamaru was able draw the strength he needed.

'The side stepping knight foils the best laid plans,' Shikamaru thought with a smirk. It had been years since Asuma had called him a knight and it was times like these that Shikamaru could appreciate the inspiration that it gave him. 'It's now or never,' he thought.

The thugs resumed beating their captive and Temari seemed frozen in time as the lead thug continued his monologue. It took them all a minute to realize that something wasn't right. Shikamaru came out from behind a sand dune, a little worse for wear, but smirking with satisfaction.

"Basic jutsu really isn't your thing, is it?" Shikamaru asked rhetorically. "Substitution Jutsu, a success."

Four sets of eyes looked at him in awe as he bent down on one knee and held his hands in the sign of one of his preferred jutsu. One set of teal eyes looked on him in understanding and gave him a small nod, to which he only smirked in reply.

"Kage Nui no Jutsu!" he screamed.

Inky tendrils exploded up from the shadow covered ground where the three thugs were standing; still trying to figure out how they had lost their captive. They still held a very convincing looking Shikamaru, but with one difference, the face had a crack in it. They had been left holding the half charred, yet repaired, puppet of Kankuro's that Shikamaru had later recovered from the burned out building; rigged with seals for just such an occasion. The inky black tendrils raced to each of the three bastards that had been beating him mercilessly and they were limp figures on his outstretched shadows in a matter of seconds. "Hm, that's what they get for messing with a Leaf Ninja."

Coughing up some blood, Shikamaru whipped his mouth on his sleeve, leaving a nice long bloodstain on black Jounin shirt that he was currently wearing. Assessing his damage, he could count at least three cracked ribs, a punctured lung, a very sore gut probably bleeding somewhere, the puncture wound in his right leg was bleeding again, and a cut above his left eye was bleeding profusely. His injuries would have to wait as they had more important matters to attend to. Looking up at Temari, he gave her a smirk as she took on a renewed look of determination and gave him a nod. It was time to end this.

Temari jumped back from her stunned opponent; the loss of his team was the last thing he had expected. Apparently, Shikamaru must have looked worse than he felt because this guy wasn't even thinking that he would be a factor in this situation, even after what just happened to his team. Overconfidence would be his downfall.

Opening her fan to where all three circles were visible, Temari started to spin herself around until she had a small tornado forming around her. The opponent smirked, as he knew that he had an advantage over wind jutsu and started to form hand signs for what Shikamaru assumed would be a fire jutsu. Temari continued to spin as the fireball whooshed towards her. Letting out one final thrust of wind from her fan, Temari pushed the cyclone away from herself and sent it straight toward the fire jutsu. Their opponent smirked as the firestorm started to increase in size and heat. What he didn't account for was that now Temari had control of where this firestorm could go and she built it up larger and larger until it was reaching into the sky. The heat created an updraft that was starting to build some serious clouds and even on this hot, dry day, Temari had been able to set off a dangerous looking thundercloud.

Shikamaru raced to Temari's side as she tumbled backwards on the unsteady sand as she sent one final blast of air into the storm. As the storm continued to build, Shikamaru helped her into a sitting position as the jutsu she had used apparently took quite a bit out of her. Not that he was in much better shape, as he winced at the pain in his ribs as he pulled her up. Reaching into one of his pant pockets, he held his hand there in preparation for what would come next.

Shikamaru pulled her toward him and whispered in her ear, "Temari, no matter what, I Love You!" causing her to look up in shock at him.

He knew that saying that would break her of whatever spell that the sadistic bastard had put her heart under, but it was also something that he had been thinking about for a while now. He loved her. It couldn't be helped that she had control of his heart and probably had since the first time that she gave him that confident smirk of hers. He loved her, as troublesome as it was and if they lived through this he'd probably have hell to pay for saying it in the middle of a fight like this, but it was all worth it in the end, wasn't it?

The storm continued to build and with the amount of dry, charged air that now surrounded them, Shikamaru smirked at how this was now playing in their favor. The man had backed away from the blaze as it continued to burn and Shikamaru rushed towards the man in one final attack; leaving a tired and slightly stunned Temari to recover her strength. Using the chakra blades, that the man's teammates hadn't even bothered to take from him (and people called him lazy), Shikamaru came at the man with all his rage.

"What did you say to her?" Shikamaru hissed between clenched teeth.

"What do you care? You're after her for the same thing I am," the man said with a smirk as he countered Shikamaru's blows.

"Oh really? What is that?" Shikamaru said as he took another swing at the man, only to have it deflected by the man's jutsu hardened arm.

"Oh, come on; don't tell me you haven't fantasized what her smooth skin would feel like next to yours or her curves within the power of your hands?"

"But I don't fantasize about it causing her pain. That's the last thing I want for her."

"Why am I not surprised. All you Kanoha-nin are a bunch of big softies," the man said as he grunted in the effort of his attack.

This was getting Shikamaru nowhere, bantering with the man like this; it was distraction he was going after, not an understanding.

Blow after blow, the man was able to counter every one and land a few of his own. Shikamaru was only biding his time until the right moment. The thunder began to crash and the lighting flashed more and more frequently. Out of habit, Shikamaru blocked an earth jutsu hardened arm with a downward block with his own flesh and blood arm. He could feel the bone crack as they made contact, but he continued to fight through the pain. Shikamaru figured it must be just a hairline fracture as he could still use the arm even though he could feel that nauseous feeling in his stomach as the appendage began to throb.

It wouldn't be much longer now. Shikamaru sped up his attacks, as he knew that the man couldn't keep up with his earth jutsu and speed. Just as predicted, the man dropped his earth jutsu long enough to keep up with Shikamaru's speed, careful not to let him hit any vital points while he did so. The man was gaining the upper hand and knew it. He started to hit Shikamaru with a rapid succession of blows that were effectively knocking him off balance and backwards.

"Women are week. They need a real man to take care of them. A real man like me, not some pansy-ass Leaf ninja," the man taunted, a smug look of victory on his face.

"Who said I need a man's protection?" Temari said. "I can take care of myself."

Shikamaru smirked as the man's face contorted in pain and confusion. Temari appeared behind him and traded a smirk with Shikamaru over the man's shoulder.

While Shikamaru had kept the man busy, Temari was able to sneak up behind him and stab the man in the back with one of the kunai that Shikamaru had given her earlier, the special tag wrapped around the handle allowed it to sink completely into the man's flesh. The lightning flashed and the thunder crashed around them as Temari grabbed Shikamaru's hand and they dove behind a nearby dune. As if on cue, a large bolt of lightning caught their long time opponent in its path, the special metal in the kunai acting as a lightning rod. All the man could do was let out one last, blood-curdling scream. Once the lighting had dissipated, Temari and Shikamaru both looked up to see the man sink to his knees then fall to the ground with hallow eyes and smoke rising from his body.

The wind started to kick up even more and they could hear a low rumbling in the distance. Looking at each other, they knew that it wasn't over as they grabbed each other's hand and took off toward the rock outcropping where Shikamaru had hidden the real Chuunin that he had found while the men had been fooled by his Substitution Jutsu. The sand started to kick up around them and Shikamaru could feel his eyes begin to burn because of the airborne sand. They dove into a space just barely big enough for three people as the storm hit. Gaara had apparently got the message and had sent Shikamaru's requested, but unusual backup. Even if any of the men out there had made it through this battle alive, in their conditions they wouldn't last for long buried by the sand from this storm. Now all Temari and Shikamaru had to do was survive it themselves and everything would be fine.

Before Temari fastened her Suna issued face-mask on that all Suna-nin had in their packs, she turned to Shikamaru and caught his lips forcefully before snapping Shikamaru's own mask in place; the pain in Shikamaru's now throbbing and useless arm as well as his broken ribs forgotten in the moment.

"What was that for, woman?" Shikamaru said his voice muffled through the mask.

Temari finished putting her own mask on before reaching over to put one on the unconscious Chuunin that was hidden in the same, small space.

"Thank you," she said as she peered over her mask at him.

"For what?"

"For loving me," was all she said before the wall of sand hit.

All his senses were overrun with stimuli, but he could still smell the scent of Temari's desert spice as he buried his face in the crook of her neck as they braced for the full impact of the storm. The rest was a blur of sand, as they held on tight to each other, waiting and hoping that they would live to see the end, together.