Shikamaru lay on the ground in a clearing of the Nara forest watching the clouds float lazily across the sky. His forest now, he was now the Nara clan head whether he wanted to be or not. The Fourth Shinobi World War had only been over a matter of months, it felt longer than that to Shikamaru though. The time had been passing excruciatingly slow to him. He had been thrust into so many responsibilities that he had not had a moment to himself until now. The shadow user sat up and lit a cigarette with Asuma's lighter and took a long, slow drag.
Tsunade was gone, so Naruto was selected as Hokage. Shikamaru was naturally selected to take his father's place as Jounin commander and advisor to the Hokage. There were so many things to do to get the village back up and running it was mind numbing. Then there were the funerals… His father's, Inoichi's, Neji's, the list went on and on. Naruto had to speak at all of them and Shikamaru worked with him on what to say at each funeral, but his father's had been the hardest.
6 weeks prior-
Yoshino had been amazing the day of the funeral. Most of the widows had not been able to speak at their husband's funerals, but not Shikamaru's mom. Yoshino Nara stood proudly in front of everyone and spoke of the amazing man that had been her husband, the father of her son, and the love of her life. Shikamaru had stood to the side at the funeral hidden in the shadows where no one would bother him with their condolences, or so he had thought. She found him though, as if she knew exactly where he would be hidden. He felt her approach, but said nothing. The Nara simply continued to watch his father's memorial service in silence. Temari slid her right hand into his as she slipped up beside him silently. Shikamaru closed his eyes momentarily as he squeezed her hand as if the touch reminded him that he was still alive. He opened his brown hawk like eyes and turned to meet the shimmering green orbs of Temari's. The blonde kunoichi was wearing the Kazekage robes, since she was selected to be the acting Kazekage until Gaara was well enough to leave the hospital. Shikamaru realized that she really shouldn't be in Konoha with her responsibilities and had come here secretly against the Suna council's wishes. The genius sensed that Kankuro and Baki were with her, but had kept their distance to give them some privacy. Shikamaru said nothing though and neither did Temari. The two watched in silence hand in hand until the end. Temari quietly stepped and turned to face Shikamaru where she saw the tears welling up in his eyes. The kunoichi placed her left hand lightly on his cheek and stood on her tip toes to kiss his other cheek lightly. The next thing she knew Shikamaru had wrapped his arms around her and pulled her tightly against his chest as if he was holding on for dear life. The Nara buried his face against her shoulder so no one would see him cry as Temari gently stroked the back of his head. Baki and Kankuro moved to make sure no one could accidentally see the acting Kazekage in such an unusual position. The mourners at the funeral left in turn until Yoshino and Naruto were the only ones remaining. Baki and Kankuro greeted Naruto and began to discuss the situation in Suna when the Hokage cheerfully approached them. Yoshino walked quietly up to Shikamaru and Temari so she could see the panic in Temari's eyes. The blonde kunoichi looked up pleadingly to the woman clearly having no idea what to do to console Shikamaru who still held her tightly.
"Thank you," mouthed Yoshino silently to Temari.
"I didn't do anything," Temari mouthed in response still clearly lost.
"You're here," smiled Yoshino. The woman placed her hand lightly on Shikamaru's shoulder. "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 had shook his head yes in response slowly. Temari had hugged Yoshino then was pulled to the side to talk with her quietly while Naruto, Baki, and Kankuro came over to talk to Shikamaru. Then the Suna shinobi were gone, quickly and as quietly as they had arrived.
Fade back to present
Everything since then had been a blur of meetings, paperwork, funerals, assignments, analysis, responsibilities, and occasionally sleep. Shikamaru really had not had a chance to think about everything that had happened until now, as he sat slowly smoking his cigarette. He needed to go visit Kurenai and baby Hiruzen soon, so he pushed his cigarette into the ground with a sigh. Kurenai would give him a hard time about smoking again, but he figured it was better than turning to sake. The shadow user stood up slowly and stretched looking to the sky one last time longingly. Shikamaru walked slowly towards his home as he shoved his hands into his pockets. He had his own home now in the Nara compound, but visited his mother daily. As he neared his new home he realized that there was a familiar chakra heading toward his house. The lazy nin suddenly seemed to have more energy than usual as he began to jog towards the signature. Shikamaru emerged from the Nara woods right beside Temari who was walking purposefully down the dirt road. The genius immediately grabbed her around the waist as he lifted her up, hugging her to him.
"No longer the Kazekage?" Shikamaru asked as he raised an eyebrow.
Temari laughed as she shook her head from side to side, "Thank Kami no. Never again."
"Good," the shadow user breathed with relief as he sat her back down and slipped his hand into hers. "You are complicated enough without the title of Kage."
"Whatever," Temari rolled her eyes in response. The kunoichi was glad to see that the genius wasn't as bad as she had expected him to be. They walked the last stretch of road to Shikamaru's home in comfortable silence. "You're mom said I can stay with her while I'm here," the wind mistress offered as they were walking up to the door of his home. "I don't want to be troublesome," she teased with a small smile.
"No, you're staying with me," Shikamaru answered quickly as he ushered her into his home and shut the door behind them.
"What if I don't want to?" the blonde joked as she slipped her shoes off by the door and dropped her pack on the floor.
The shadow user stood in his living room with his hands in his pockets as the kunoichi walked up to him waiting for an answer. The blonde cocked her head to the side expectantly as she placed her hands on her hips. The genius seemed to be thinking through several different options. Shikamaru finally simply wrapped his arms around Temari, "I'm too tired for games," he sighed. "I need you with me. I can't explain why. You make me feel normal again, like things can really go on when you are around."
Temari wrapped her arms around his waist in response and smiled up at him. The Nara took one hand and caressed the side of her face the way that she had to him the day of the funeral. The blonde kunoichi closed her eyes at the feel of his hand on her face. Shikamaru then did what he had been waiting to do for what seemed like ages, but had never had the courage to do. He leaned down and gently kissed her. It was a sweet and soft first kiss, but it broke down the final walls and uncertainties that they both had. The two kissed again as if their lives suddenly depended on it, there was a certain desperation and need they both seemed to have. Shikamaru finally pulled away reluctantly with a sheepish look on his face that almost made Temari laugh. "Uhhhmm..I would love to stay here, but I am supposed to be at Kurenai's in fifteen minutes," he lamented.
"That gives me a chance to take a shower, get unpacked, and go check in with Yoshino," Temari shrugged. "I'll be here when you get back. I will go with you to see Kurenai and the baby next time, OK?"
Shikamaru smiled and kissed Temari one last time before he slipped his shoes on to leave. He opened the door and looked over his shoulder as he said, "Ittekimasu."
The blonde kunoichi looked over at him fondly as she responded, "Itterasshai."
A/N: Shikaku's death is one that will take a huge toll on Shikamaru. He will turn to someone, but who will that end up being this time? Hopefully it will end up being Temari, but Kishimoto will ultimately decide.
The ending of Shikamaru saying "Ittekimasu," and Temari responding with "Itterasshai" is something that Japanese families do when someone is leaving. Literally it's "I'm leaving," and the response is "Have a safe trip," but the point is that this is usually only done by families/married couples. So it's Shika's way of testing how Temari reacts to a blatant marriage implication.