'Love is like war; easy to begin but very hard to stop.'
-Henry Louis Mencken
"There'd better be a damn good reason you're lying in that bed."
Opening his eyes to the loud, abrasive voice, Nara Shikamaru groaned and squinted and tried not to meet the glare of the woman who was currently bearing down on him.
Muttering some non-committal answer, he grimaced whenever her foot echoed off the metal leg of the hospital bed with a loud clang.
"Nara, I am serious- you had better tell me why..."
"Tired," he interrupted meaningfully, attempting to turn away from her but wincing when he was stopped by her insistent fingers on his left shoulder. "And injured, woman."
"Whose fault is that?" Temari snapped, removing her hand before folding her arms. "Now, start talking or I'll give you another injury and this time, you won't be waking up afterwards!"
Sighing, Shikamaru gave her his best 'bored' look, after which he averted his eyes.
"You had you back turned," he said gruffly. "Poison dart like that in the spine would have paralysed you...permanently."
A barely audible growl escaped Temari's lips.
"You're on my team," Shikamaru continued blandly, although he was sure she didn't miss the slight hint of irritation in his tone. "I'm supposed to..."
"If you use the word 'save', Nara, I swear to God..."
"...protect you," the nin finished carefully.
"Which explains why Chouji is currently lying in the tent next store," Temari remarked pointedly, her hands now on her hips. "Let's get one thing straight, Nara," she continued lowly, leaning down over him. "I'm not yours to save."
Feeling his jaw clench, Shikamaru couldn't help himself...
"Don't flatter yourself, woman," he stated bluntly. "We both walked away."
There was a change in her eyes as she stood straight, her cheeks a little flushed. Giving him one last withering look, she turned on her heel and strode out of the tent and Shikamaru felt his muscles unclench as he reminded himself that this was the fifth such encounter they'd had in the past three weeks.
This was going to be a long war.
He was feeling a bit guilty as he sat there, trying to keep his eyes fixed on the letter he'd received from his mother yet they kept drifting back to the blonde who was sitting dejectedly at the other end of the tent, no letters having arrived from her brothers.
Sighing because he already knew she'd snap at him the minute he opened his mouth, Shikamaru gave into the inevitable and lazily moved over to her bunk before sitting down beside her. She didn't look up.
But she spoke first.
"How's your shoulder?"
"Better," he replied, moving his shoulder around unconsciously.
She nodded, her eyes on her knees.
He was about to begin broaching the subject of the missing letter before she interrupted him again.
"Remember the time I saved you from that Sound girl?"
"I'm sorry I kept gloating over it," Temari said quietly, but there was a hint of a smirk at the corners of her mouth as Shikamaru himself began to smile.
"To be honest, it was really 'crybaby' that got to me," Shikamaru answered easily, his smile widening when she laughed aloud.
"Don't think I'll be taking that one back unfortunately," she murmured, turning to face him and their eyes met. "There is...other stuff that I'm sorry for too, though," was her next remark, said quietly and the significance of it was not lost on the Konoha nin.
"Me too," he said eventually, after it took him a few moments to work up the mental resolve to place his hand on top of hers. Seeing that she had already started them on the path back to the old days, he took another shot in the dark. "Remember what I said to you on our first date?"
Her eyes once more leapt up to meet his as she leant a little closer to him. "Remind me."
"Would you hit me if I kissed you?"
Moving in so that their lips were almost touching, Temari squeezed his hand.
"Yes," she said lowly.
It took less than a second but in that time she was on her back, he was on top of her and he was desperately trying to remind himself that tents were not as soundproof as her old room back in Konoha.
"Why the fuck did we ever break up?" she hissed in between kisses, tugging down the zipper on his flak jacket, as his hands went for the ties on her hair almost automatically as though they had been programmed from memory.
"We can discuss our collective idiocy later," was his quick response, deciding that his mouth was better disposed re-learning the contours of her neck.
She finally got the jacket off him and had tossed it onto the floor when his skin started to prickle. Knowing that the same was happening to her, he watched her eyes glitter with humour.
"Typical," she sighed as he got off of her and she began to re-do her hair. "You see, this is the reason why you don't hook up in the middle of a war."
Finding himself in full agreement, Shikamaru headed towards the exit of their tent, subconsciously checking his pockets for his chakra blades. On the other hand, there was no sign of this war ending any time soon and he had been unconsciously waiting for this moment for six months, so waiting a little longer wasn't really something he couldn't handle.
As long as it wasn't too much longer.
"He was cute. Pity we had to take him down."
Rolling his eyes, Shikamaru tried to steady his breath and looked over to his heaving counterpart, who like him was also covered in sweat, although she was still eyeing the dead shinobi lying on the forest floor. Taking a few minutes to watch a stray bead slide its way down her neck and into the tendrils of loose, wet hair that curled at the base of her collar bone as she continued to breath heavily, Shikamaru eventually tore his eyes away and managed to look at her face-to-face.
"If you're done checking out the enemy, can we go?" he drawled in response, feeling his chest beginning to level as he half-limped over to the nearest tree to pull out one stray chakra blade that had been embedded in the trunk during the fight.
"As if you're eyes weren't all over that half-dressed kunoichi two weeks ago!" she retorted heatedly, as he marvelled at her ability to fight for at least forty-five minutes non-stop and still have the energy to debate with him. "And yes we can go, but it's not as if we'll be running back."
Wiping the sweat from his brow as he sheathed the blade into his flak-jacket with its partner, Shikamaru turned to get a better look at her injured leg.
"You're putting weight on it," he commented easily, walking back over to her and kneeling before her. "Lift," was the next command, which she did as his hands wrapped around her calf and he felt in his back pack for bandages.
"This'll have to do until we can get back to camp," Shikamaru added, wrapping the material tightly causing her to wince visibly. "Sorry."
"...still insist on treating me like a baby," she muttered, glaring down at him through narrowed eyes.
"You're very welcome, Temari-san. It was no problem. Yes, I know- no need to thank me for taking care of you again," he countered dryly, meeting her glare steadily until her foot met his chest with a thump and he fell back onto the ground.
"Just because I'm hurt doesn't mean I still can't kick your ass, Nara-san" Temari replied, leaning over him with a glint in her eyes and he didn't miss the smirk that was beginning to form on the corners of her lips. It only took two seconds for him to begin smiling back.
Standing up and managing to stop meeting her eyes, Shikamaru stood and dusted down his trousers.
"Here, put your arm around my shoulder," he offered, his left arm sliding around her waist as his mind hazed at the feeling of her sweat-soaked clothing sticking closely to her damp skin.
Again, she gritted her teeth as her arm wove around his neck and she hopped to remain balanced.
"Why is it that I always end up looking like an idiot when you're around?" she queried in a gruff voice and he couldn't help but laugh wearily as they began to move away from the scene of the battle.
"Maybe you're just insanely attracted to me. I understand...it must be difficult to be around me all the time and not start..."
"Don't even finish that sentence!" Temari interjected forcefully, poking him in the ribs with her free hand- a gesture which he returned making her jump. "I'm not the only idiot here," she continued as they hobbled for a bit through the trees and after a while, her head fell against his shoulder.
"How's the patient?" he queried later on as he strode into the bustling medical tent to find his partner sitting grouchily on a bed- a new bandage wrapped around her leg.
"I was fine," Temari bit out on sight of him, raising her eyebrows at him as he began to smile.
"Do you know, you're really the most graceful, poised creature I've ever met. A true angel when bearing through pain," Shikamaru replied merrily, coming to stand in front of her and revelling in her pout.
"Don't start with me, Nara, I'm not in the mood."
"Pity- I was just thinking of a better use for this bed."
Using her good leg, she kicked him in the shin and he swallowed a yowl of pain.
"What have I told you about remarks like that in public, idiot!" she hissed, glaring at him.
"Sometimes I think it's you I'm really in a war with," was Shikamaru's sarcastic utterance after he finally calmed the pain in his leg.
"Trust me, you'd be dead by now if you were. Now hurry up and get me back to the tent. This place smells horrid."
Once more wrapping his arms around her waist, Shikamaru hoisted the kunoichi upwards and trudged with her towards the flapping entrance.
"Try not to look so happy, Nara, you'll give us away," she whispered wryly as they moved and he smirked at the feeling of her breath on his neck.
"This coming from the woman who made so much noise yesterday that she nearly gave away our position to the enemy," Shikamaru quipped, giving her hip a quick squeeze as her mouth curled. "What? No comeback?"
"As if. It's true," she said through a pretty laugh, and he couldn't help but give her a light nip on her neck.
"Not here! Not here!" Temari hissed quietly through a suppressed yelp. "Wait for the tent!"
"Don't care," he muttered, kissing her again on the neck as she tried to move them faster towards their own little enclosure.
A little later on in the evening when they were sharing a bottle of sake and both feeling a lot more relaxed, Shikamaru leaned back against the tent and passed his companion the bottle as she leant against him.
"Remember the lake?" she said aloud, a reminiscent lilt to her voice after taking a large swig, beginning their game again.
"As if I'd forget," he chuckled in return, taking the bottle from her. "Remember the sand dune?"
"That I'd like to forget," Temari laughed, grimacing as he did too. "Way too many sand grains."
"It was your idea!"
"What did you expect? You're the one who insisted on walking around with no shirt on!"
"It was hot," he said simply, shrugging his shoulders.
"Unhuh...remember Hokage mountain?" Temari began again, taking the bottle but pouring some into his mouth instead of her own. He nodded after a gulp.
"Remember the first time?" she continued, beginning to nuzzle his neck.
"...Mmmm...the field," he remembered, setting down the bottle and tilting her head towards his to meet her lips.
"Remember Gaara's desk?"
He pulled back and crinkled his brow.
"Oh, sorry, that was my ex," she added, grinning proudly as he shook his head.
"Troublesome woman," Shikamaru muttered, biting her lip as she continued to grin. He was about to begin kissing her again when they both stalled.
Feeling the rise in chakra, Shikamaru sighed as Temari groaned.
"This damned war is always interrupting us," he moaned, shaking his head, still not quite sure he was going to move.
"You'd better move- they'll come looking for you if you don't go," Temari advised, rubbing his shoulder sympathetically. "And don't give me that look. I'd rather be going with you but I can't!" she went on, gesturing to her leg whenever he fixed her with a hassled countenance.
"Alright," he heaved, standing up and stretching out as well as he could in the cramped tent. "I'll see you when I get back..."
He was just at the exit of the tent and about to leave when she spoke.
Smiling at her words, he pulled his flak-jacket on tighter, ready to face whatever it was that was out there.
"I won't be there to save your ass this time."
She could never just leave it.
The sweat was back this time as Shikamaru noted how bloody hot it was in this tent. Running down his neck, several beads were swept up by Temari's fingers as she attacked his mouth with her own. Breathing heavily, he let his own hands skim up her thighs and over her hips, happy that her leg had healed up enough that she was able to straddle him.
"Happy I'm back?" he asked knowingly between kisses as she began ripping at his jacket zip, her mouth now aiming for his neck.
"You're not getting me to argue," she replied breathily, ridding him of his outer layer as he smirked. "Not this time."
He was going to reply with something equally smart and riling until her mouth closed around his ear.
His hands began to move towards her obi at the same time hers tried to go for his belt buckle.
One set stopped the other.
"You first," Temari smirked, batting his hands away.
"We'll see about that," he answered with purpose, grabbing her thighs and turning them so that she was underneath. When she tried to move them again, he pinned her hands beside her head. "No you don't," he breathed, leaning down to her lips but not kissing her. "My turn."
"Tsk tsk, Nara Shikamaru...and people think you're lazy," she mused through a satisfied sigh whilst he resisted the urge to take a kunai to her clothing.
He was just about to pull the thing apart when he felt it again.
"Goddamn," he groaned, his head falling forward onto her collarbone as he inwardly started to call Madara all the names of the day.
And then he found he was on his back again. With Temari once more attacking his neck.
"Woman, didn't you feel that? I have to go..."
"No way. Not this time you don't," she panted, beginning to unbuckle his trousers. "We're not being interrupted again."
Laughing at her insistence, Shikamaru tried to move.
"Just shut the hell up Nara," Temari stated matter-of-factly, giving up on one method of persuasion and untying her own obi as Shikamaru started to see what she was talking about.
Somehow, he managed to keep a hold of his mind as she pulled open her kimono.
"'Tem, they'll come looking for me," he tried softly, running his hands up and down her arms and averting his eyes from her chest...somewhat successfully.
Growling as her head fell backwards, Temari dismounted him.
"I hate this stupid war," she sighed, whilst Shikamaru dressed himself again.
"You and me both," he added, kissing her quickly before he stood up and groaned as his back cracked. Thinking quickly before he exited the tent, he turned back towards her.
"Don't move until I get back."
Rolling her eyes, she lifted her obi.
"Please...do not move," Shikamaru persisted causing her to smirk.
Unfortunately for Shikamaru it was 4am the next morning before he managed to arrive back at the camp- it had taken them a couple of hours to move and locate the somewhat nearby enemy. But, fortunately for him, it being so late, he was able to sneak into Temari's tent without anyone noticing.
Lying down beside her, he pressed his back to her, not bothering to unzip his jacket and deciding he'd tell her the news in the morning.
Smiling a little when he felt her arm drift backwards and pull his own over her hip, Shikamaru heard her breath out sleepily.
"What took you so long?"
"Sorry," he whispered into her neck, "took us a while to get there and back."
She was silent for a moment, whilst he revelled in her warmth and enjoyed the feeling of falling asleep, the cool night air lulling him into relaxation.
"Remember the fight?" she breathed quietly, pulling him closer again as he closed his eyes.
"Mmmm...you said you never wanted to see me again."
"You called me a bitch," Temari retorted, still sounding sleepy.
"Well you were..." he replied boldly, wincing when the kick to his shin came even though he expected it.
"You were being a jerk."
"By asking you to be with me in public?"
"Yup," she sighed. "I told you not to push it..."
"And I did," Shikamaru finished for her, remembering the fight before the war broke out and the time spent apart. "There's news..." he said after a while, banishing the unpleasant memory of the feeling in his stomach as she walked away to the back of his mind.
"Yeah?" she asked, now sounding awake and turning around over her shoulder to face him.
"We're moving- I'm east. You're west."
A brief span of worry crossed her face as she turned around altogether and linked her hand with his.
She looked up at his face as though trying decide something and he pushed her bangs back from her forehead hoping to disguise the worried look in his eyes that was so blatantly obvious in hers.
"They're sending Chouji with you, right?"
He nodded again.
"That's good- he'll take care of you," she said, sounding a bit calmer whilst she buried her head in his chest.
Sighing, he wrapped his arms fully around her as she wedged her leg in between his thighs.
He hated this part.
"I love you, troublesome woman," he said, deciding just to get it out of the way.
She nipped him on the neck and he smiled.
"You better not being saying that just because..."
"I'm not," he interrupted, knowing that even though he felt several pangs of embarrassment it had been the right thing to say. "I'm saying it because I care too much about you to not say it."
That had been even harder to say but he managed to get it out despite feeling her smirk through his chest.
Tensely, he waited for her response, knowing Temari had never been too forthcoming with feelings.
"I suppose you're wanting me to say it too then" she finally croaked, her fingers playing about his back.
"I'd think it was the proper thing to do..."
Growling, she tried to hide her face even more.
"Fine..." Temari began bitterly, now pinching him but he refused to interrupt. "I love you too...idiot."
"See now, that wasn't so hard, was it?" he gloated, kissing the top of her head as she pinched him with particular venom.
"It was about as annoying for me as it was for you, Nara," she snapped back, now looking at him and he could see the flare in her eyes even though there was little light. "It's only this bloody war- making me say it in case you die this week..."
"You mean you only said it because..." Shikamaru interrupted dramatically, feigning hurt and betrayal.
"I fully intended never to say it, I'll have you know," Temari murmured easily, now happy to have riled him even though it was only pretend.
"Well then I guess I can't be too annoyed at this war," he said, quietly happy, placing his chin on top of her head.
There was silence for a moment as he began to fall into the rhythms of sleep, trying to forget that in this would be the last time he'd see her for probably a couple of months.
"Don't die this week."
"I'll try not to."
"And write to me."
"If you insist..."
"Actually, I'm happy you're going to the East," she said sleepily into his chest, as he hummed in approval, "that's where Gaara is. You can make sure he's not killing himself with work."
Laughing inwardly as he drifted into sleep, Shikamaru pulled her closer and allowed himself to be surrounded by the smell of her hair hazily thinking that he was also glad to be going to where Gaara was, because he had a question to ask him.
He could always hate this war for taking him away from his family and his friends, for putting their lives in danger and for tearing apart their country. And for interrupting him every time he got anywhere close to removing Temari's obi. But for the things it had brought back to him, Shikamaru had to be thankful.
A/N: So as the summary says this won the ShikaTemaShrine's In Love and War Contest on DeviantArt so I thought I'd post it here for you all. I actually wrote it about 3 weeks ago but I realise there are people on FF who are not on DA.
I'd really encourage everyone to go on DA and look at all the other fics and art entered for this contest- they were all amazing and really worth taking a look at.
As I said on DA- this was really inspired by Superman and Clark and Lois' relationship and the amount of times they get 'interrupted' because he has to go off and save the world.
In other news- the prompt list is up for my own ShikaTema competition- claiming officially starts tonight! For the link to the forum and prompts see my profile page.
Hope you all enjoy this anywho!