A chilled night wind blew through the bare tree tops. The branches swayed and twisted, knocking into one another; ever so often one would snap and begin its long journey to the cold earth below. Clouds covered most of the sky. The moon would peak out occasionally only to shed a few streams of light before retreating back under the blanketed sky. A little light was all the team needed. Shikamaru sat on the hill side away from the group. He pulled at the grass aimlessly and let his mind wonder. After a while he'd check over his shoulder to make sure the fire was still going. It was.
Choji and Kankuro sat together and chatted. He could hear their voices and the change in pitch, but he couldn't understand what they were saying…but that didn't really matter to him. His eyes scanned the rest of the camp site. The tent was standing and their supplies were still stacked neatly by it. His eyes continued further over. Ino was skinning a rabbit they had caught earlier, and Temari was cooking the rice they had brought along.
Temari. His eyes finally stopped on her figure. He twirled a piece of grass with his fingers as he watched her. He sighed heavily before facing forward again and rubbing his sleepy eyes. The grass was cold as he laid back in it.
"Konoha should be expecting its first snow any day if this weather was any indication of what's to come." He thought to himself.
His fingers felt around his pocket until they were met with the hard feeling of metal. He pulled out the lighter and popped the top off like he had done so many other times. His fingers went in search again, only this time they were pulling out a small folded piece of paper. He unfolded it and brought it close to the flame. He began to read it to himself…again.
"As part of the new mission to bring all nations together with the common goal of defeating the akatsuki, an ambassador from each nation will be brought here to partake in various diplomatic meetings as well as participating in showing that Konoha is welcoming off all and is eager to work with all. We have enlisted your help as a host to take on and help out one of the said ambassadors and we feel confident that you are willing to help your nation in any way possible" Shikamaru smirked to himself at the last part. "You have been assigned Temari, sister of the Kazekage from Sunagakure, and will be meeting her at a location that will be later assigned to you. I expect nothing less than the upmost kindness towards our visitors and trust that you will be able to do your part as host for them. Thank you, and goodnight. The fifth Hokage, Lady Tsunade."
His fingers smoothed out the creases from earlier that day. He had become annoyed, having to add another objective to his list, and crumpled it up, only to undo it and fold it neatly a few moments later. He knew it wasn't Temari's fault. They had been paired together so many times now they should be used to it. They had written to each other discussing the meeting place. Kankuro would be traveling with her until they met up. He insisted that Shikamaru bring a few people with him. There was no way he was going to leave his sister to travel with him alone. There was something to be said about having protective brothers.
"What are thinking about now?"
A voice disturbed his thoughts and his eyes shot open. Temari stood beside his stiff body.
"Do you resort to that pose for common planning or is it only for deep thinking?" she asked sitting down.
Shikamaru, unaware that he had fallen into his thinking stance, relaxed and laid back down; his head being cushioned by the grass.
"Mostly deep thinking." He muttered while placing his hands behind his head.
Temari sat with him in silence while looking up at the sky. The moon peaked out and the light bounced off the lighter still in Shikamaru hand. A confused look came over her face.
"Don't tell me you've taken up smoking!"
Shikamaru smirked and held his hand with the lighter up. He tilted it slightly replacing his reflection with Temari's.
"Nope," he told her, "it's a long story."
"We have time." She said giving him a curious grin.
A sad smile came over his face as he stared at the shining metal.
Ino turned the rabbit slowly over the open flame. Kankuro was showing Choji tricks with this puppets and Choji, sitting wide eyed, oo-ed and aww-ed as the puppets danced in front of him. Ino smiled. Choji could be a handful, but that was only because he really was a big kid. Sure it would get annoying sometimes, but his innocence was also refreshing.
"Man that is so cool!" Choji remarked as Kankuro put his puppets away.
"Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it." Kankuro replied feeling of high esteem. "You should see what I can do with them when I have Gaara and Temari to assist me. We take it to a whole new level right Temari!"
He waited for a response. After not hearing one he looked up.
"Temari?" he questioned.
"She's over there talking with Shika." Ino said calmly while turning the rabbit.
"Well what's she doing over there?" he questioned. He squinted his eyes in attempt to see further.
"….talking…." Ino restated. Kankuro fidgeted in his seat.
"Why does he have to be so separated from the group?" Kankuro continued to question.
"That's just how Shika is sometimes…he likes his solitude." Choji said while glancing over at the two.
"Ok, I'm fine with that…so he shouldn't be needing my sister to enjoy his solitude." He said getting up.
"You know Ino…I'm starting to wonder if there's something going on there." Choji whispered to her. He had a big grin.
"No way!" Kankuro interrupted. "He's not her type at all. I can't speak for him, but she'd never go for that kind of guy.
"Sit down." Ino said sternly. Kankuro glanced at her. "Dinner's ready."
Kankuro reluctantly sat down and took his plate.
The argument was nothing more than a soft slur of chatter to Temari and Shikamaru. Temari looked at him with glossy eyes.
"And that ended it…" He said smoothly while a small flame flickered in front of his face.
Temari sat in silence searching for the right words. Shikamaru let out a small laugh hoping to lighten the mood.
"Hey Temari! Want some dinner?" He questioned. His tone made it sound more like a demand.
A faint shout could be heard from behind them. Kankuro stood with his arms crossed. She couldn't see his face but she was sure it had an intense scowl on it. Temari sighed.
"Pardon my brother…he get's like this sometimes." She said rubbing her temples.
"No need for a pardon." Shikamaru said calmly.
"Humph." Temari frowned.
"He's just doing what any older brother should be doing. I actually admire him for that." He said sitting up.
"Maybe I should tell him that." She said amusingly while looking over her shoulder.
"The fact that he sees me as a threat is what's so amusing." He said jumping to his feet.
"Yeah…" Temari agreed.
"Maybe I should glare at you now and then…just to mess with him." Shikamaru said with a smile.
"Ok even you should know that wouldn't be a good idea." She said with a scared face.
They jumped to their feet and walked over to the group. Kankuro made an effort to sit between the two all night and distract them from conversating with each other. The fire was burning low and the night was getting colder. Temari and Ino took shelter inside the tent while the boys stuck it out outside. They covered themselves in blankets and drifted to sleep.