Disclaimer: Naruto and its characters belong to Masashi Kishimoto

Hopefully this doesn't lead to confusion but this second chapter will be a part of my 2019 Summer Show Me the Love Proposals Challenge. It can be read on it's own, or better yet as a follow up to the previous chapter. Please note, I had to change the ending of the first chapter a little to fit the plot of the second, but nothing major was revised.

To all: For easy reference, entries to this year's Summer 2019 Show Me the Love Proposals Challenge will be added to my C2 account as soon as I am notified of their posts. Thank you to: BloodPokemon101, Fxreflies, Lady Rini, MLLu, naash, outloux, Pandasushiroll, Pixie07, RushiAei, and Yengirl for joining me for this challenge. I encourage all of you to see what stories they have to share, and of course, to spread the positive constructive review. With that said, onto chapter two...

Several months had gone by, and courting Temari from such a long distance was becoming quite cumbersome. He loved her. There was no doubt of that. Occasionally they argued, sure, but it was mainly lighthearted banter with an occasional spar to let off steam. Honestly, he couldn't imagine loving anyone else, and now that another year had passed, he steeled himself ready to finally act with his heart, instead of his head. It took some doing, but he was finally able to arrange for a spur of the moment visit to the Village Hidden in the Sand to do something he had been contemplating on (but chickening out of) for the past few months. Family and friends had boisterously hinted at it, and he supposed all the talk had finally worn him down.

Foregoing all the unnecessary stops, the Nara arrived early to his destination and made a quick purchase at a well known Suna flower shop. Without wasting time, he checked into the nearest Inn and freshly showered. Purposely putting in a little extra effort into looking his best, he then made his way over to Temari's childhood home, all the while going over 'the plan'. His Ma had recommended keeping things simple, and after his last fiasco, he easily agreed. The large bouquet of red roses in hand were recommended by Ino and from one of the best local florists. There was no way flowers brought from Konoha could hold up on the trip, and "fresh was the only way to go," according to his blonde teammate. Of course, before paying for his purchase, Shikamaru wisely made sure that the red roses he bought stood for 'true love' in Suna as well as in Konoha.

Silently he reassured himself today was going to be special and there would be no mistakes with any unforeseen mixed messages. Nervously, he checked his pocket and his lips upturned when his fingers felt for the small velvet box. Satisfied, the Nara went over what he was going to say once more. Shikamaru knew he wasn't too good with words or verbalizing his emotions, but with Ino's assurance of guaranteed success, he was swayed into believing this plan of hers was the most direct and least troublesome.

Taking a moment to calm his last minute jitters, he recalled his last conversation with his blonde friend. "Oh my gosh, Shikamaru! Finally. F-i-n-a-l-l-y!" she had squealed with delight. "This is going to be the most memorable proposal ever, if you just stay on task," she scolded, knowing how prone her friend was at dilly dallying around this topic. "Remember, keep things simple, look your best, and under no circumstances should you forget the flowers. Remember, they'll practically speak for themselves, and take it from me, I just know with those in hand, there's no way she will say 'no,'" she further declared. And coupled with having been tortured with all the cheesy romances she insisted he watch, and enduring the unrelenting flak from family and friends for dragging his feet on the matter, for better or for worse, replaying her last assurance in his head, stroked his confidence and provided the certainty he needed to finally take the leap.

Inhaling one last deep breath, he quickly rapped at the door to the Sabaku residence. As the seconds passed though, the gravity of what he was doing began to hit him, and a case of cold feet started to creep in.

Hold up a minute his brain warned him. Was he sure about this? And if so, was now the right time? That thought made him pause. Had he really thought things through?

Even though he had reviewed this 'plan' countless times and resolved he was ready, as the door opened, somehow Shikamaru's nerves took over and managed to short circuit his brain! He willed his body to kneel down on one knee, but he suddenly forgot the whole of what he was going to say! In his panic he closed his eyes tightly, and instead of saying what he'd practiced, he thrust out the bouquet of roses hoping its message alone would be enough. Ino had promised they would, right? He knew Temari might be expecting a proposal sometime soon. If anything, his botched 'almost' attempts twice before would have clued her in. She was a smart girl, he kept telling himself, and he just hoped she would gather what was going on.

"Oh," a very masculine voice spoke up in surprise. "It's only you," it said, playfully, causing the Nara's head to snap up.

Smirking, the puppet master teased, "Gosh, Shikamaru, you really shouldn't have," with an over-exaggerated girly voice.

Red crept up his neck as Shikamaru scrambled to feet.

"I love you too," Kankuro winked, then gleefully grabbed the bouquet from his hands, and smacked him on the side of the head, "but I think Temari would be jealous if I returned your affections." A single rose fell to the floor as he chuckled at the stunned Nara, but soon both Shinobi froze in their spots when they heard a feminine voice approaching.

"Hey Kankuro, what's all the commotion about?" the voice questioned as she came into view. Upon seeing Shikamaru, she stilled. Her usually casually dressed boyfriend was almost unrecognizable, cleaned up nicely, and standing at her doorstep, grabbing for a bouquet of roses that were just manhandled by her brother.

Deviously, Kankuro held the roses out of Shikamaru's reach and whispered, "Okay Nara. Time to say the words," and with that, he ran off with the bouquet. "See ya, sis," a laughing Kankuro spat back.

With no bouquet to hide behind, a dumbstruck Shikamaru stood before Temari with his mouth still open. Practiced plans just flew out the window, but being that he just ran three days from Konoha and soon had to head back, he knew couldn't afford to waste this trip. Honestly, it was now or never. Sucking in a breath, the Shadow Wielder knelt down again and swallowed his embarrassment as he leaned over to pick up the single rose on the ground. Reaching for Temari's hand he cut straight to the point. "Sebaku Temari, I..."

And wouldn't you know it? At that key moment, his mind again chose to go blank! Frustrated, he shook his head.

"Troublesome," he mumbled but straightened when he saw the look in her eye. Do this right, he reprimanded himself. C'mon, man up, Shikamaru. Isn't that what Ino had said? "Temari, I...heh..." he laughed sheepishly. "You know I love you."

Argghhhhh. He wanted to smack himself. What was up with him today? Don't act stupid, Nara he chastised himself. Shikamaru looked her in the eye, took in another breath, then held out the single rose from the ground. "I know it's troublesome, but well...?" he asked, barely remaining composed and hoping she would read between the lines.

"Well, what?" Temari countered, knowing exactly what he was trying to say but purposely dragging it out. She was frustrated after getting her hopes up for a proposal a few times before with nothing resulting in the end, and she was NOT going to let him off the hook this time.

Shikamaru could hear the tease in her voice but despite great effort, he found he could only stare at the beautiful woman in front of him. "Uh..." Just great, he was proving he was not only whipped but he could be reduced to nothing more than a bumbling tongue-tied fool when she was present!

The silence stretched, and when nothing else was said, Temari sighed loudly and stomped away, mumbling something to herself. When she didn't return immediately, his heart began to pound and the intense worry made his stomach churn. Things were going nothing like planned, and left alone with the engagement ring and no Temari, panic was closing in on him, big time!

The Sand Princess was really only gone a few minutes but nervous perspiration already started to pepper his forehead, and inner doubt managed to seize its grip on him. Gads. This was all wrong. Wrong. Wrong! What was he doing? He questioned himself. Maybe he wasn't ready. Heck, maybe she wasn't ready. At that point, he wanted the ground to swallow him whole and yet, still no words came to him. His tongue and brain seemed to be disconnected. All he could do was stare at the beauty in front of him.

"Nara, it sounds like you're interested in having me be a permanent fixture in your life," Temari joked.

That instantly got his attention. Stunned by her accuracy, he felt for the little velvet box in his pocket and nodded dumbly.

"Shadow possession got your tongue again?" She grinned.

It was frustrating that the person standing before the green-eyed beauty was nothing like man he usually was. On a daily basis, the strategist conversed with intelligent speech, and that IQ of his allowed him to be steps ahead of his opponents with a plan for every idiosyncrasy that altered said plan. It was beyond comprehension, but somehow, whenever romantic feelings with Temari were involved, all that simply went out the window. He supposed that was why all of their other friends, including even Sasuke and Sakura, were already engaged or married, yet the two of them were still only at the dating stage.

When nothing more was said, Temari crossed her arms and huffed in irritation. "I love your sorry butt, but..." She frowned and waited, but when he said nothing she complained, "Argggh, for crying out loud, Shikamaru, I give up!"

His eyes immediately widened. Wait. What?

"Give up?" he suddenly questioned and snapped to his senses.

"Yeah," she agreed. "This..." she gestured between them. "This is ridiculous, don't you think?" When nothing further was said she continued. "C'mon Shikamaru, I can't stand this anymore! I'm ready to move on!" She burst out.

At first he said nothing, but as he slowly processed her words, a frown appeared on his face. Wait. Give up? his stomach suddenly dropped and he went pale. Huh? Did Temari just say... 'move on?' His heart rate sped up as he tried to make sense of her words. Move on?... He tried desperately tried to wrap his head around her words as his mind raced to keep up. NO way. Was she serious? Shikamaru stood there in disbelief hoping he'd misheard. Gads, she couldn't possibly mean... Could she? All this time he was sure Temari mirrored his feelings but just now it sounded like...His eyebrows creased. Oh man. Was she?...Was Temari giving up on him? All at once, the Nara's world started to spin. This..this couldn't be happening. There was no way she was insinuating they should break up, right? They were meant for each other. This was... He panicked. Insecurity surfaced as disbelief overtook his senses. Scrambling he knew he had to do something.

"Stop!" he suddenly burst out.

"No!" she said with finality. "I've been through this too many times before. I think you're going to ask me to marry you and then that big brain of yours gets to overthinking and you retract your plans. This is pitiful! Enough's enough. It's time to move on!"

He started to tremble as his eyes grew wide at her declaration. Oh no! No. No. No. No. This couldn't be happening. Temari was leaving him? For real? There was no contingency in the plan for this, not even in his wildest nightmares.

"This is it," she said firmly, with a resolve that meant business.

Wait. This. Is. It? he gulped and could hardly believe what he was hearing. How? Tears began to well in his eyes. The love of his life was actually breaking up with him before he even had a chance to propose. It was unbelievable! He'd finally met the one. She was troublesome, totally non-conventional, and got him going despite his laziness. Yes. But she was tender and loving beneath that tough exterior, the perfect complement to his lazy self to balance things out. All at once his breathing became labored. His heart hammered on and the rush of his own blood pulsing filled his ears. He had envisioned Temari would be his lifelong partner. She already was his everything. His stomach coiled tight and he didn't even realize there were tears streaming down his face or the fact that Temari was kneeling down before him.

"Nara Shikamaru, you will marry me, right?" she announced, popping open a small box out she pulled from her sleeve that contained a ring for him. At that point, he almost wanted to scream, 'No!' until her words started to register.

Wait. What? Rubbing his eyes to clear his vision, time froze and he tried to process what was going on. Temari was leaving him. Wait. No. That wasn't quite right. Temari was... Wait? Did she just ask him to marry her?

"Well?" She questioned back.

Dumbfounded, the Shadow Wielder stood there with his mouth hung open. Thoughts were jumbled together but when his brain caught up to what was going on, he scrambled not to lose this chance. "Yes," he blurted, shocked and relieved all at once.

Smiling, she teased, "You're asking for trouble you know."

Watching him swipe at his tears of happiness she added, "Geez, you're such a crybaby."

He almost choked on his snort as he nodded. Whether it was meant he conceded as accepting her as trouble or being a crybaby, it wasn't clear.

She plucked a gold ring out of a box she produced from her sleeve and slipped it onto his left ring finger.

"It's too late to back out now. You're officially mine," she smirked.

"Temari," he closed his eyes in relief, exhaling sharply. "Thank you," he breathed, overwhelmed with it all.

Before his brain could catch up, Temari, led him inside to the foyer of her home and moved to open one of the drawers in the console table. Riffling through it, she found what she needed, scribbled a note, and took out a small camera. Setting the timer and placing the camera on the console, she retrieved the rose on the ground, and pulled her glassy-eyed, disheveled fiance in for a memorable picture.

"Say cheese," she said, and just like that, Shikamaru and she smiled for the camera, as she held up the sign 'He said yes,' and with the single red rose behind her ear.

In the moments that followed, the reality of their engagement eventually hit, and Shikamaru followed in her lead, reaching into his own pocket to procure the small velvet box. Kneeling down on one knee, he popped it open and carefully removed a Nara heirloom engagement ring to place it on her left ring finger. Clearing his throat he finally spoke. "For you," he announced. The act was sort of cheesy after all that had transpired but she smiled and accepted all the same.

Of course, hours later (and he really should have known), things done this way would have an uncanny ability of worming their way into the gossip mill, and despite great efforts to hide it, even without the internet, the whole incident would become a well known story both in Suna and Konoha. The totally non-conventional proposal that flipped things on it's head was nothing like he had rehearsed, but the Shadow Wielder took it in stride, and it became a funny and memorable one to laugh at and love.

Added story epilogue:

And for those who were wondering, you'd be correct in assuming there was indeed a silver lining to this all:

After settling in with each other, post wedding, starting from his very first anniversary and every year thereafter, whenever Ino would badger him and try to get him to come to her shop to get flowers for his wife, Shikamuru would wisely remain silent and offer up a simple shrug. And to his credit, instead of going through all the hoopla of expressing his feelings with a grand bouquet of flowers, partaking in dramatic gestures, or any other over the top romantic arrangement suggested, he ultimately concluded that his best 'plan' was really just to stick with the simple truth, using three beloved words any woman would want to hear:




And reward his beloved Sand Princess with his own personalized heartfelt actions to express the deep love he had for her in the privacy of their own home. And who would have known? Even the infamous Nara was able to finally learn, it was ultimately those simple words and actions that actually did the trick, hassle-free and with the best results.

~The End

Man, what an amazing brother-in-law that Kankuro is. I mean, who knew he could be such a great matchmaker and bearer of love advice? Just kidding. I have to admit, I'm curious, how many of you out there have taken love advice or any other crucial advice from a well-meaning friend and have it go very wrong? I realize things like that are never fun but I hope it was something you could look back later and laugh at.

Thank you again to everyone who participated in this Summer's challenge. You are amazing! Happy reading, writing, and reviewing to everyone out there, and I hope if you're a new or established reader and made it this far you'll continue to support the reviewing process and leave feedback to inspire better writing and sharing stories on this site.