a/n *SOB* here's the final chapter, hope you like:)
Chapter Twelve: All's Well That Ends Well
"Gaara, you inconsiderate pig. I don't know how you do things in Suna, but in Konoha, you ask a lady before you pick out her housing, her work schedule, and her wardrobe."
Gaara is seated at his desk, his head tilted to the side; it makes him look very bird-like, Temari muses with mirth.
"But Sakura-sama," Gaara rumbles, "I've given you the best of the best—"
"Don't you Sakura-sama me, you old badger! I'll decide what's best for me, thank-you-very-much," Sakura shouts, slamming her hands down on the desk.
"Sakura-chan," Temari breaks in, doing her best not to laugh, "in our country, it is a mark of a man's high regard to—"
"If Gaara holds me in such high regard, he would have asked my opinion before buying me an entire line of designer kimonos with plunging necklines," she remarks dryly. "Honestly Gaara, it's not proper behavior towards one of your employees. In Konoha, buying your subordinate a stripper dress is called sexual harassment."
That's it, Temari can no longer hold in her laughter; next to her, Shikamaru spits his coffee all over Gaara's desk in a similar fit of laughter.
"Sakura-chan," Temari manages through her giggles, "when a man from Suna buys you a stripper dress—"
"I don't want to hear what it means!" she hisses, clenching her hands into fists. Temari sees where this is going. She gathers the documents she and Shikamaru have been working on into neat piles and stows them in her side-bag.
"Sakura-sama, please tell me something," Gaara rumbles. "In your country, how does a man show appreciation to a woman whom he greatly admires?"
"Gaara, I swear to Kami, if you don't stop hitting on me, I will break open that thick skull of yours, magic sand protection jutsu or not."
"I'd rather not hit on you; I'd rather propose to you—"
At this point, Shikamaru is full-on choking on his coffee; Temari grabs him by the arm and hauls him out of Gaara's office before the violence starts. She closes the office door behind them and slaps Shikamaru on the back in an effort to cure his choking fit, as screeches fill the air in Gaara's office.
"How dare you, Gaara! Are you mocking me? I swear to Kami—"
"Not at all; I'm perfectly ernest."
"Do I have to spell it out for you, Gaara? I'm still getting over Sasuke—"
"Uchiha Sasuke? The rogue ninja who went insane on the battlefield, took out a third of your battalion, and almost killed Naruto?"
"Yes, I'm still getting over him—"
"What does that son of a thousand prostitutes have that I don't? Besides venereal disease, of course."
"Don't you dare call Sasuke-kun—"
"Sasuke-kun is the most wanted S-classed criminal in all the shinobi world. Oh, and if I didn't mention it already, he almost killed Naruto. In fact, he almost killed you—"
There are a series of noises, thump thwack! Thwack! Crunch! Before the shouting resumes.
"On the other hand, Sakura-sama—"
"Don't fucking call me Sakura-sama!"
"—I'm the Kazekage of the Sand, one of Konoha's closest allies, and may I mention, I'm not a criminally insane homicidal maniac. Or at least, I'm not anymore? Also, I'm much better looking than Sasuke is, and I'm certainly better endowed than that dickless—"
There are more mean sounding noises after that: the thumps and thwacks of Sakura's fists, the pfffffffffftttzzz of Gaara's sand protecting his expensive office furniture and himself from the ravings of a woman whom he admires.
Temari and Shikamaru share a look, safely on the other side of the door. "Were we that insane when we first started…dating?"
"Darling," Temari coos, "we weren't dating. We were fucking."
Shikamaru slaps himself in the face. "Still…"
"Yes, we were that insane. Actually, I think we were worse."
There's a loud explosion; Shikamaru covers Temari's body with his own as they are pushed against the far wall.
"Damn it Gaara, you are the most infuriating man I've ever met!"
"And you're the most beautiful woman I've ever met."
"I'm going to make you wish you'd never been born!"
"Let's get out of here," Temari mutters, extracting herself from Shikamaru's death-grip. It takes a bit of effort, because she's a bit ungainly at six-months pregnant.
As they run down the stairs, they're met by a squad of concerned ANBU.
"Temari-sama, the Kazekage—" begins an anxious man with a cat mask.
"The Kazekage is the one causing the trouble," she retorts wryly.
Shikamaru breaks in, "It's a Konoha courting ritual. Very violent stuff; don't worry, I'm sure the Kazekage is fine."
Shikamaru and Temari pass the bemused ANBU in the stairwell, Shikamaru grinning, Temari muttering to herself. At last, they make it out into the bright sunshine, the sounds of the altercation fading to a dim roar above their heads.
"I still don't know why we have to get married again," Temari muses, plopping herself down on a shaded bench. "We've already done it twice."
"Third time's a charm," Shikamaru mutters, sitting beside her and placing his arm across her shoulders. "I'll marry you a thousand times, as long as it's not as embarrassing as the first time."
"Tch. At least the first time we got married, only our friends were there; that wedding of state Gaara had us do was too much."
Shikamaru chuckles at that. "There was no way your people would forgive you, your highness, if you didn't include them in your wedding plans. You're just salty you had to wear a frou-frou wedding dress."
"I looked like a fucking layered cake, with lace instead of icing," Temari grouses, slapping him on the shoulder. "Besides, nothing can beat our first wedding, when you opted to clean the middens for the chance to court me," Temari quips. "They would have had to rename us the Desert-Princess and the Shit-Stalker."
"I'll stick with Shadow-Stalker, thanks," Shikamaru retorts, running his hands through her hair. Abruptly, he changes the subject: "Temari, you can wait until the baby is born to come to Konoha—"
"What? And miss my chance to have a double wedding with Ino while she's just as fat as I am? Not a chance! Think of the wedding pictures we'd miss out on; I want our kids to see just how ridiculous we were so that I can warn them about unprotected sex. Especially if Plague is a girl; seeing two brides as fat as pigs and trussed up like turkeys will teach her more sense than I had."
Shikamaru shakes his head. "We still need to think of a baby name; my mother is going to drop if you refer to her first born grandchild as 'Plague.'"
The conversation is interrupted by a loud explosion from the Kazekage's tower. A large hole has just been punched through the wall; Gaara's sand-covered form flies out, as if from the impact of a large explosion. He hovers in the air on waves of sand and sits, cross-legged in the middle of the sky, as if it is the most normal thing in the world.
Next, Sakura launches herself straight at Gaara, flying out of the new-made hole like a bat out of hell. Shikamaru and Temari can't see much after that, just a great whirling of sand and jutsu.
"You have no idea how much this turns Gaara on," Temari says sourly, her face twisted in a grimace. "He's such a masochist. It's gross."
"And Sakura's a sadist; it's a match made in heaven," Shikamaru intones.
"A match made in zombie-battlefield-hell, actually," Temari retorts. "There seem to be a lot of those, lately. Gaara told me he first lost his heart to her when she rescued him from the Akatsuki and the Death God in one day; but he fully fell in love when he saw her dancing like the blades of the War Goddess herself on the battlefield, mowing down zombies like they were nothing more than blades of grass. His words, not mine."
"That's pretty romantic, I guess…" Shikamaru hazards. "Still, do you think she returns those feelings?"
"You really do have shit for brains. Just look at them," Temari snaps, waving towards the battle in the sky.
Gaara and Sakura are dancing on a platform of sand in the middle of the air; they are completely ignoring the legions of ANBU surrounding them on every rooftop. Gaara has already commanded the ANBU to stand aside, Temari saw him flash the hand-signal; but if that isn't clear enough, Gaara's face is split in a shit-eating grin—he is enjoying himself a bit too throughly.
They lunge at each other again, and Sakura's battle-cry rings out; she sounds like an enraged sand cat to Temari. Again, Sakura and Gaara are lost in a bright flash of light and swirling of sand. Something plummets towards the ground, but the sand catches it, cradling it as gently as a mother with a babe. When the dust clears, Temari realizes it is Sakura who has fallen, and Gaara who has saved her; he floats down through the air on a wave of sand.
"Come on, let's tell those two to quit it; we're leaving for Konoha soon," Shikamaru groans.
"Aw, but it was so entertaining." Temari fake pouts, and Shikamaru rolls his eyes.
"Gaara-no-bastard, who told you you could rescue me? I'll have you know, I had the situation totally under control!" Sakura roars. She can't move though, because she's still encased in sand.
"I couldn't let you plummet to your untimely death; besides causing a diplomatic incident, I'd have to spend the rest of my life bereft of my one true love."
"It would be no great loss, because your life isn't going to be very long! Not if you keep pissing me off like this, asshole!" Sakura's body glows with chakra, and the sand around her explodes into a thousand fragments.
Shikamaru places himself between the explosion and Temari and activates his jutsu; by the time the dust clears, both Gaara and Sakura and caught in his shadow possession jutsu.
"Sorry guys, no time to flirt—"
"Shikamaru! I wasn't flirting!" Sakura protests.
"—Because our ride is almost here," Shikamaru continues. "You don't want to be late for the Hokage, do you?"
"Hokage-elect," Sakura grumbles. "Anyway, it's Naruto's fault that I'm stuck in this sand pit for the next nine months, excluding the time I'm playing body-guard and doctor to Temari in Konoha."
Gaara breaks in, barely suppressing a grin. "If you don't like the Sand, I'll make the desert bloom for you. I'll divert rivers and move mountains—"
"Oh stuff it, Gaara. When I get back, I only pray that your manners will have improved," she snaps. "Shikamaru, lemme go!"
Shikamaru smirks. "Only if you promise not to rabidly attack my Kazekage."
"I won't attack him if he stops being a machismo, hair-brained, moon-struck—"
"Gaara," Temari mutters, "leave Sakura alone."
"Gaara, I said stop taunting her." Temari places her hands on her hips and mock-glowers.
Gaara has no time to reply: a sound like water sizzling on the fire crackles in the air, and they are momentarily blinded by a yellow flash.
"Oi, Sakura, are you causing another diplomatic incident?"
"Naruto-kun, please get me out of here," Sakura pleads, finally free of Shikamaru's jutsu and walking forward. "You've stationed me here with a madman who constantly proclaims his undying love for me—it is driving me to distraction."
"Don't think I don't know what you did!" Sakura shouts, boxing Naruto's ears. "You and Gaara made a deal—you schemed to get Shikamaru and Temari together, and now you are scheming to get me together with Gaara! I tell you—"
But she breaks off abruptly, because Naruto is grinning like an idiot; she swivels around to meet the object of his gaze, and sees the Kazekage giving Naruto a thumbs-up. She lunges at the Kazekage, her eyes wild with rage, but Shikamaru stops her just in time with his shadow jutsu.
Before Sakura can scream, Gaara steps forward and kisses her on the mouth; Temari almost falls over, and has to clamp her hand firmly over her mouth to keep from guffawing.
"Every minute you're gone will feel like hours," Gaara murmurs; Temari reckons he looks about as pleased as a cat who has eaten a canary.
"Gaara of the desert," Sakura seethes, "when I come back, I will rip you limb from limb; I will claw out your eyes, and I will remove all your internal organs—one by one!—and this time, I will not rescue you from the Death God!"
"I will look forward to it, Flower-of-the-Desert. Have a nice wedding, everybody; I'll see you all in a week," Gaara states, completely nonplussed—and, Temari thinks, all too excited—by Sakura's death threats.
They are gone in a yellow flash before Sakura can retort.
a/n I had such a fun time writing this fic, you have no idea; now, I am sad that it is over! ALAS! Well, feel free to check out any of my various and sundry other fics if you are so inclined. Thanks all for reading and for your wonderful reviews and support for this fic; I do so appreciate it!
As always, much love to you, and please review;)