Genre: Pre-shipping, comedy
Warnings: A tiny bit of language
Summary: In which a perfectly good shougi board meets its untimely demise and a relationship comes into being. Sort of. Maybe.
Disclaimer: Naruto is owned by Kishi, not me.
A/N: Something light for a change.
She arrived in Konoha in a flurry of paperwork and petty negotiations as a proctor for the chuunin exams, a position that was half pragmatic and half ambassadorial. With the exams scheduled for only a few weeks from now, there was a litany of preparations to make and questions to consider– Was it okay to use the Forest of Death so soon after the fiasco with Orochimaru? And as for the scars between Konoha and Suna– it would be near-impossible to do too much making-up.
(Every aspect of shinobi life, Shikamaru had discovered, just had to be this complicated. Well, political games like this didn’t particularly interest him, but they could be fun to watch at least. All of those pretenses!)
–That was before he got the news.
“It’s a gesture of the renewed goodwill between our villages,” Temari said as she shoved her official letter of introduction into his face, “That you will be hosting me during my stay here.”
So perhaps it wouldn’t be so fun after all.
(“You,” he hissed at his father, “You knew about this.”)
“Aren’t you meant to be entertaining me somehow?” she wondered aloud.
He barely looked up from his shougi to glance at her silhouette perched in front of the window. Not every day of preparation was a busy one; today they were waiting for other members of the planning committee to make a decision. Unfortunately.
“I already said you could play against me,” he said, pointing down to his shougi board for her benefit.
“We did that yesterday.”
“Are you angry that I kept winning? The truth is that when it comes to shougi, not even jounin can beat me. Sorry.”
“So what are you trying to do now? Beat yourself?”
“I guess. Well, I’m a better opponent than you were,” he said as he made a move with one of the knights.
“You just don’t like me because of last time I saw you.”
“What about it?” (Yes, that last move was quite ingenious; he was proud of himself for having thought of it. It was going to make things difficult for him in a minute, though.)
“You’re angry because I saved your pathetic ass from Orochimaru’s subordinate. If I hadn’t been there, she’d have killed you. You just can’t stand being in debt to me. Which you are, of course.”
“I don’t not like you because of that. I don’t like you because... well, let’s see: first off, your brother is... what? Demonically possessed? I don’t think I can trust people whose brothers carry around giant, ferocious sand demons around with them.”
He looked up from the problematic situation with the rooks for a second to catch her glowering at him.
“Gaara’s gotten a lot better since he became Kazekage, you know.”
“Really? Well, if you say so. But your other brother is still... some sort of gay kabuki player?”
She snorted at him derisively. “Gay kabuki player? Not likely. If you’d ever seen the inside of his room, which I, unfortunately, have... Trust me, you wouldn’t say that.”
“Ha. Look at what you just did.”
“You just told me, a shinobi from another village, personal details about a Sand jounin. I could possibly assassinate him with that. No, really. Look, all I’d have to do is send him a girly magazine full of poison. Honestly, do you realize that? I don’t know that you’re very good at this; maybe you should just go home. Suna must be a crazy place anyway. I don’t know what sensible organization would let a teenage girl be an ambassador–”
“Shut up. Don’t talk about my family like that; you know nothing about us.”
Shikamaru looked down, considered the situation for a moment, and then put himself into checkmate.
“So you’re really just going to be rude and then ignore me?” she asked peevishly as he started a new game.
He didn’t answer, instead toying with one of the pawns. –That was when she strode over and, very calmly, snatched the board away from him and beat it against the table so hard that it snapped in two. The chess pieces went flying everywhere. She was smiling brilliantly.
“Well?” she asked.
“Gaara’s obviously not the only one who’s possessed,” he muttered, then bent to pick up the pieces.
“By the way,” he queried after a moment, “Are you planning on staying very long after the exams are over?”
“I have things to do back in Suna.”
“That’s good, at least,” he replied. (But then she laughed, and there was something that flickered, rattlesnake-quick, in her blue-green eyes....)
It was fortunate, Shikamaru decided, that this day at least was a busy one; it seemed to make Temari almost infinitely easier to be around. They certainly had places to go and people to see, so they talked as they walked. Her four pigtails bobbed up and down slightly in time with her steps. They went to visit the Hokage (that woman! Always wanting to check up on them...) and ended up spending most of their time talking to Naruto instead.
That idiot. That utter and complete, total blundering idiot.
“Are you two on a date?” he asked. Right when they were out discussing delicate matters and walking around on what seemed to be the most unpleasantly muggy day of the year, he asked that.
There was a quick denial. Didn’t he know anything? (Apparently not; it turned out that he hadn’t even heard that the chuunin exams were about to start.) Anyway, it was irritating to think that someone who had just seen them would think that they were together.
Temari seemed to agree: “What does he think he knows?” she said, shaking her head– but she was smiling in that certain way.
–Well, Shikamaru reasoned, it was far too hot and still out, but the sky was high and perfectly blue; in other words, it wasn’t all that bad a day to walk with someone who did not yet mean anything to him. (Where did that yet come from?)
“You said something similar before,” he remembered, “A few days ago, when you broke my shougi set.”
“You said I knew nothing about your family. So why don’t you tell me about them, then?”
Somehow he knew: if she answered, it would mean something. And if they could keep going like this– for now, it was enough.
I wanted to try my hand at writing these two now since I have plans for a disgustingly long ShikaTema fic sometime in the future. Shikamaru's characterization is really hard to pin down for me, though. -.-