Yoshino's Mission

Yoshino's point of view:

The one that had delivered the news of Shikaku's death to Yoshino has been Yuhi Kurenai. The young woman left to raise her child alone after the death of her husband, Asuma Sarutobi. She was the wife of the man that sacrificed himself to save Yoshino's son, Shikamaru. Yoshino Nara felt it would be selfish of her to lament the loss of her own husband in front of a woman who would probably give anything to trade places with her. Shikaku may not have been the perfect husband or father, but at least he had been there. Yoshino had had someone to turn to, lean on, confide in, and gain strength from while their son had grown to a young man. Whoever had selected Kurenai to deliver the news definitely knew what they were doing.

Kurenai offered her sincere condolences which Yoshino thanked her for and quickly changed the subject. The Nara woman asked about how Kurenai's newborn son, Hiruzen, was doing. The elder woman asked Kurenai how her training was going having a small child and practically begged to babysit the infant. Their conversation was brief and Kurenai sensed that Yoshino wished to be alone, so she excused herself gracefully.


Yoshino stood in her bedroom later that evening looking around as the last rays from the sunset filtered in through the curtains. Shikaku had known when he left what the odds were of his returning, so he had instructed Yoshino what to do in the event of his passing. She had detailed instructions about every aspect. The woman knew exactly what to do and how to do it, but the feeling in her chest wasn't something she was prepared for. It really did feel as though her heart was breaking. She looked down at where her shadow was cast across the floor and could no longer hold back her tears.

'Yoshino, I will always be with you because you can never completely lose your shadow. You may not see it when it is dark or cloudy, but your shadow will always follow you. I will be watching you forever from the shadows, my love.'

Shikaku's parting words rang clearly in her mind as she sank down to the floor with her hands reaching for her own shadow. "I know, I know I'm not supposed to cry," Yoshino whimpered to the shadow. "Today, I have to let myself cry today. I won't cry anymore starting tomorrow. I will be the strong, troublesome woman you want me to be starting tomorrow."


Yoshino kept herself busy with the many items that Shikaku had left for her to complete in his absence. One of his directives had been that if he passed, that Shikamaru was to have a home built worthy of the next Nara clan head. This was the project that Yoshino immersed herself into the most, because the next generation was the thought that kept her going. Grandchildren, that would be the thing to make her life feel more complete. It would never be whole again, but spoiling grandchildren would certainly come close to that feeling.

The Nara woman also renewed her medicinal and healing studies, becoming an even higher level expert than she already was. Shikaku had told Yoshino that this would be key in tempting the Suna kunoichi into joining the Nara clan. Sabaku no Temari had been the only woman their son had ever even looked twice at. It wasn't looks that appealed to him, but her intellect. Shikaku believed that if Yoshino approached Temari offering to teach her medical jutsus and healing techniques that Shikamaru had struggled to master, the kunoichi would jump at the chance for something that she could do better than the lazy genius.

Yoshino kept herself so busy that the days flew by until the day it was announced that the war was finally over. She was so relieved to hear that both Shikamaru and Temari had survived, but was worried when told of how badly Gaara was injured. Temari was named Kazekage of Suna until Gaara was healed but there were many rumors saying that Gaara may still possibly die from his injuries. Yoshino decided she wasn't going to worry about rumors like that until Shikamaru was finally home. Her son, her husband's legacy, the child who looked and acted so much like his father, would finally be coming home.


"Tadaima!" came the tired voice of Shikamaru from the front of the house. Yoshino had to control herself to keep from sprinting to the living room where her son stood silently with his hands in his pockets. He looked exhausted and had tears in his eyes as he looked around his childhood home.

"Okaeri for the last time my dear," Yoshino smiled as she grabbed Shikamaru and hugged him tightly. "You are now the clan head and have your own home, but you are welcome to come here for dinner every night."

"Mom," Shikamaru whispered, "I don't know if I can do this. I'm not ready."

"You have friends and family who will do everything we can to help you," the Nara woman said smoothly as she held her son out at arm length and looked into his eyes. "I'm not ready for your father to be gone either, but we will do our best and make him proud." Shikamaru nodded his head in understanding, but did not look convinced. "Go rest while I make you your favorite dinner," Yoshino said tenderly which she realized was very unlike her. Shikamaru looked as if he was so fragile that he would break at any moment, which made her heart ache even more. She was going to have to take him to visit baby Hiruzen soon to snap him out of his.


Yoshino was concerned about her son. She knew Shikamaru would be changed by war and the loss of his father, but this was like a completely different person. He had come home and immediately been thrust into his father's positions. Shikamaru didn't complain though, he simply gave everything to completing all of the tasks the village put on his shoulders. Honestly he was working too hard. Yoshino Nara never thought she would ever worry about her son working too hard in her life. Shikamaru didn't have time to see Choji or Ino even though they both tried to see him repeatedly. The genius did make time for Hiruzen, Kurenai, and quick dinners with Yoshino, but that was it. His team mates visited Yoshino who assured them that Shikamaru would eventually come around. Choji was easily convinced, but Ino was a different story. She was struggling to deal with her own father's death and didn't understand why Shikamaru wouldn't want to work through their loss together. It was clear to Yoshino what Shikamaru was doing though; by being unavailable he forced Ino to turn to the person who was always there for her. Choji Akimichi.


The day of Shikaku's funeral came, the day that Yoshino had been dreading. Shikamaru had made it clear that he had no desire to speak or even be seen at his father's funeral since he didn't want to talk to everyone in the village and hear their condolences. Yoshino tried to convince him otherwise, but his mind had been made up. Naruto actually did an exceptional job of speaking and supporting Yoshino, which was much appreciated. Shikamaru had prepped the Hokage thoroughly knowing full well that Naruto would have to do what he himself couldn't. Yoshino played her role as Shikaku had wanted her to, the strong widow. She was to be the pillar of strength for the other war widows to lean on.

The Nara woman was pleasantly surprised when an unexpected dignitary arrived silently without introduction. The trio from Suna stealthily slipped into the back of the Konoha cemetery relatively unnoticed. Yoshino knew where Shikamaru was hidden and watched the young woman in Kazakage's robes go right to him without hesitation. What had been an incredibly difficult day for Yoshino now had a glimmer of hope for the future.

When the funeral ended Yoshino received condolences from villagers and foreigners alike. They each told her what she had known all along, that her husband had been an exceptional shinobi and man. After what felt like hours Yoshino finally made her way over to her son's hiding place along with Naruto. The acting Kazekage had been held tightly by Shikamaru for at least the last ten minutes from what Yoshino had been able to see. Yoshino realized as she got closer that her son was sobbing into Temari's shoulder as the acting Kazekage held him and stroked his hair. Shikamaru had not allowed himself to really grieve until Temari was here with him. Yoshino was envious that she could not do for Shikamaru what this young woman was able to accomplish by just a few minutes of her presence. This just proved what Shikaku had told Yoshino though. Temari was going to eventually be Shikamaru's wife. The Nara woman moved so she could see Temari's face which was almost comical. The young woman looked incredibly lost and uncomfortable, but wasn't about to make Shikamaru stop.

"Thank you," mouthed Yoshino silently to Temari.

"I didn't do anything," Temari mouthed in response still clearly lost.

"You're here," mouthed Yoshino as she smiled gently. The woman placed her hand lightly on Shikamaru's shoulder as she cleared her throat. "Shika, I think the Kazekage has to return to her duties. Temari has risked a lot to be here," she spoke gently.

Shikamaru slowly released his death grip on Temari and stepped back to see the concern clearly written in her eyes. "I know. I'm sorry, Temari," he whispered.

The blonde kunoichi grasped his shoulder as she looked up into the shadow user's eyes, "As soon as Gaara is well enough to resume being Kazekage, I will be back. Promise me you can keep yourself together that long, Nara."

Shikamaru shook his head yes in response slowly. Temari was then pulled away and hugged by Yoshino who began to question the acting Kazekage quietly.

"How long until Gaara can resume being Kazekage?" Yoshino asked in a tone of voice that meant business.

"Probably two months," Temari answered without hesitation. "How bad is Shikamaru?"

"Bad. He hasn't even talked to Choji or Ino since they returned from the war," the Nara woman said with a knowing look at Temari. The blonde bit her lip with frustration. "You need to come back as soon as possible and bring enough things to stay for three months," the Nara woman stated with a no nonsense tone. "I need to train someone in the Nara clan medicinal specialties before something happens to me. Shikaku and I were the only ones that had the knowledge and skills, but now I am the only one left and my son has no talent for medicine. You are a genius and in teaching the sister of the Kazekage a guarded clan secret we are showing incredibly good will to Suna," Yoshino explained easily as if it completely made sense.

Temari looked at Yoshino warily, "With all due respect ma'am, you teaching me the Nara clan secret medicinal practices doesn't make sense at all unless you are intending for me to become a part of the Nara clan."

"Which I am," Yoshino hissed under her breath as she grabbed both of Temari's arms. "You are the only woman my son has ever cared about." Yoshino brought her face up to Temari's in a way that made her appear even more menacing before continuing, "I need grandchildren soon and if you two don't hurry it up I am going to seal both of you in a cave until you come out pregnant. Am I clear?"

Sabaku no Temari didn't fear many people in the world, but she now had a glimpse of why Shikamaru feared his mother the way he did. This woman could be incredibly scary when she wanted to. The blonde kunoichi shrugged her shoulders out of the woman's grasp and squared her shoulders as she raised her chin to the air proudly.

"What gave you the idea I am even remotely interested in your lazy ass son romantically?" Temari whispered back as she placed her hands on her hips. "He's a friend, that's all. Sealing the two of us in a cave would only result in your son's death, I assure you."

Yoshino gave a sly smile to the young woman, "You care about being better than him in as many things as you can. I'm giving you the opportunity to excel at something he struggles with. Think about it."

Temari glared back at the woman, but didn't argue Yoshino's point. "I'll think about it," the kunoichi grumbled as she tried to turn to leave.

"Good," Yoshino smiled warmly as she grabbed Temari's arm yet again forcing the kunoichi to face her. "When you come back you can stay with me since Shikamaru has his own house now. This will give me plenty of time to train you properly in all matters of Nara clan procedures." The Nara woman hugged Temari tightly before saying, "Be careful going back to Suna and I look forward to your quick return." The acting Kazekage was now clearly flustered and confounded on how to deal with this woman. It was clear that the Suna nin simply wanted nothing more than to leave as quickly as possible. Temari turned and bounded off towards the front gate of the village without so much as a word to Kankuro and Baki. The two Suna shinobi scrambled to catch up with the fleeing kunoichi.

The Nara woman smiled to herself. 'She'll be back. She's so much like me it's almost scary,' Yoshino thought with a chuckle.


6 weeks later

There was a knock on Yoshino's door as she was working on Nara clan business paperwork. Shikamaru was far too busy to deal with all of this on top of his every day workload, so it fell to Yoshino to complete all the things that his wife would normally be dealing with. She sighed as she stood and walked towards the door. The Nara woman stretched as she opened the door quickly ready to snap at whoever was interrupting her work, but caught herself when she saw who was standing there. Sabaku no Temari stood in front of her door shifting her weight from side to side clearly uncomfortable being there. She was freshly showered and didn't have her pack, so she obviously had stopped somewhere prior to coming to see Yoshino.

"Yoshino-sama," the kunoichi breathed as she bowed deeply. "I gave you incorrect information when we last spoke. I would like to take you up on your gracious offer to teach me. Onegai shimasu. " The words were soft and it sounded as if Temari was almost in pain as she spoke.

"I will be more than happy to teach you, Temari," Yoshino smiled before cocking her head to the side. "I do believe that I told you to come stay with me rather than staying at the inn though. We'll have to go get your things and bring them here," she tisked as she crossed her arms.

"I'm not staying at the inn," the kunoichi answered with a slight blush coming to her cheeks.

"Where on earth are you staying then?" Yoshino asked becoming agitated.

Temari dropped her head and looked at the ground as she answered quietly, "With Shikamaru."

Yoshino actually began to laugh out loud. "Well, that's even better!" she chuckled as she hugged Temari tightly and pulled the kunoichi inside her home. "Let's get to work then," Yoshino said as she shut the door behind them. "I'm actually working on some things you need to learn anyway, so your timing is perfect," Yoshino beamed as she practically dragged Temari to the desk covered in paperwork.

"Well, I can't stay too long today," the blonde said apologetically. "I told Shikamaru that I would be there when he gets home from Kurenai's."

Yoshino looked at the clock and sighed, "We'll go over this another day then. Would you like to have some tea and just talk for a bit then?"

The Suna nin actually gave a small smile as she responded, "That would be great. I have a lot of questions for you actually."