After the war, Temari comes to Konoha to help administrate the Chuunin Exams. Shikamaru is assigned to guide her. The village has changed a lot since she was last there, and she needs someone to show her the new layout.

He's given the assignment because he's between missions, and they know each other from their platoon in the war. It's an easy job - walk her around town, make sure she knows where the offices are, take her to get food because she doesn't know the local restaurants. Mundane stuff. They don't talk much, and when they do, it's strictly business.

They avoid discussing the war. Most people do.

..

The second time she's in Konoha she needs a guide again. The village keeps growing, and the offices have been shuffled around. The Hokage's headquarters are now in the old Jonin standby center, her previous offices have been converted to various administrative offices, and the security systems have been upgraded. Due to some confusion about arrival dates and misplaced paperwork, Temari doesn't have a security access scroll, so she can't get anywhere she needs to go without an escort.

Shikamaru is assigned to her again and basically serves as a walking key, letting her in and out of buildings. They talk some, mostly about the weather, things back in Suna, current events in Konoha.

She's partial to chrysanthemum tea. She likes to watch the flower unfurl in her glass

..

The third time she's scheduled to arrive Shikamaru shows up in Tsunade's office and sighs heavily. "I suppose I'll have to guide her around again, right?"

Tsunade blinks in surprise.

"Oh, I hadn't . . . I suppose so. Yes. Please do."

He shoves his hands in his pockets and saunters off to the gate to meet the ambassador.

When she arrives she smiles wolfishly and punches him on the arm. "Good to see you, crybaby. Where are we going for lunch? I'm starving."

"Your choice. You're the honored guest, after all. I'm just your lowly escort."

"Hmmmm." When she's thinking, she squints her eyes a little and bites her lower lip. "Somewhere with fish. That'd be a treat."

..

"This place is nice," she says, sipping her water. "Not too many people."

"That's why I like it. How long will you be here for?"

"Three months."

"Just three months? Seems weird for an ambassador."

"Well, three months in Konoha, three months in Suna, alternating. So I'll be here six months each year ."

"Are you all right with bouncing back and forth like that? It seems like it'd be pretty stressful."

Temari arches an eyebrow. "Stressful? It's my job. It doesn't matter if I'm ok with it or not."

"I guess so."

"I don't really mind, anyway. I like Konoha. It's relaxing."

"Well, I'm glad you're the ambassador. It'd be a real hassle to have to show someone else around."

Temari has an odd look on her face. If he didn't know better, he'd say she was pleased. "I'm surprised I have a guide again. I know Konoha pretty well by now, I think."

"Well, it's my assignment. Pain in the ass, but you know how it is. The Hokage says 'jump', you say 'how high?'"

She laughs suddenly, like a hyena. "Yeah right. The Hokage says 'jump', you sigh and groan about how troublesome jumping is."

"You think you're funny, but you're not."

"I know I'm funny. It's one of my many good traits."

..

Three months can go by very, very quickly. When she leaves she smiles wolfishly and punches him on the arm. "Good to see you, crybaby. Thanks for breakfast, I was starving."

He watches her walk out the gate. He watches until she's out of sight. She doesn't look back.

..

Three months can go by very, very slowly. Shikamaru realizes how boring Konoha can be. It feels too small, like a shirt that shrank in the wash. He fidgets and lies around and is so restless he can't decide where to stand or sleep or sit. He can't focus on reading or chess. His mother nags at him to sit still at the dinner table. Ino asks what bug crawled up his butt and Choji puts a friendly hand on his shoulder and rumbles "She'll be back soon, buddy."

"Who'll be back soon?" Shikamaru's hackles are raised, he's feeling dangerous right now.

"Your lady friend."

"And who might that be?"

"The girl from Suna! Gaara's sister. You don't need to hide it, everybody knows."

"If you're referring to Temari, the ambassador from Suna, I was assigned to escort her while she was in Konoha. That's all."

"But-" Shikamaru can see Ino pinch Choji's leg under the table. It makes him want to grind his teeth but he shoves the feeling down and tries to enjoy the rest of the meal. They don't mention it again. Only six more weeks, he tells himself, not sure what he's counting down to.