The Golden Scroll Chronicles, Episode 2:

Temari’s BIG Change





Chapter 12


            Everything seemed quiet around the Hidden Leaf Village. No one had any idea of what had transpired over a week and a half ago. The only thing people seemed to notice was the change in Sasuke Uchiha’s behavior and mood. He was smiling and was seen more with Sakura Haruno; some were actually happy to see the young Uchiha boy happy for once. Of course, they would have never guessed that it took Sakura turning into a giantess to make that happen. Yes, things were quite peaceful in the village, at least on the surface.


            What nobody had really noticed was that the Anbu Black Ops had become more active in the last few days. They had been given specific instructions to search for any new rouge ninja groups that were operating in the Land of Fire. They didn’t know exactly what to look for and the only hint they had was that these rouge ninja were mainly from the Hidden Leaf Village. So, even though they had been searching since the day after the incident with Sakura and the golden scroll, they still had nothing to report. They had also been given strict instructions not to return until the end of two weeks. The Anbu did not understand the reasons behind their orders; all they knew was that they had to follow the orders to the letter.


            Meanwhile, in the 5th Hokage’s office, Kakashi, Kurenai, Asuma, and Might Guy had gathered to speak with the 5th Hokage. They had mainly gathered to discuss any new information, particularly anything that may pertain to the mysterious group that gave Sakura the mysterious golden scroll that turned her into a giantess. The group had remained quiet for the last couple of minutes. But Kakashi finally broke the silence.


            “So, any news yet?” Kakashi asked as casually as he could.


            Tsunade just breathed a sigh of regret as she leaned back in her chair. “Unfortunately, no,” Tsunade said as she rubbed her head with fingers and thumb, “we haven’t received any new information as of yet. And that has me a little concerned…”


            “What do you mean, Lady Hokage?” Kurenai asked.


            Asuma reached into his pocket, pulled out a new cigarette, and lit it before he spoke. “Come on, Kurenai, isn’t it obvious. The Anbu are some of the best trackers in the Hidden Leaf Village. If they’re having trouble finding these guys, then that means…”


            “It means we’re dealing with a very crafty, calculating, and careful enemy,” Guy said as he finished Asuma’s thought. “That kind of enemy may be even more dangerous than the Akatsuki.”


            “Come on, Guy, don’t you think that’s going a little overboard.” Kurenai said.


            “No, Kurenai, Guy has a point,” Kakashi quickly interjected. “This enemy may very well be than Akatsuki and maybe Orochimaru as well.”


            “What do you mean, Kakashi?”


            “Well, think about if for a second…with both the Akatsuki and Orochimaru, we at least know what their targets are. We also know how they operate and what to expect from them. But this new enemy, we have no idea who they are, how they operate, or what their objective may be. We don’t even know if we’re the only ones they’re targeting; this danger could be aimed to the other hidden ninja villages as well.”


            “That’s true, Kakashi,” Guy added. “And the only clue we really have to go on is that they knew about Sakura’s crush on Sasuke. That alone would suggest that they were ninja from this village who turned rouge not too long ago without anyone even noticing them. After all, a lot of people know about Sasuke outside the village, but only a few people knew about Sakura having a crush on him.”


            “I see what you mean,” Kurenai said as she took in what the others had said.


            The entire group remained for another couple of minutes as they each tried to contemplate just what kind of enemy they were dealing with.


            “Well, we can’t really do anything about it now,” Tsunade said, finally breaking the silence. “So let’s just continue with our usual business. Shizune…!”


            “Yes…” Shizune said as she handed Tsunade a clip board with a piece of paper on it.


            “Now then,” Tsunade said as she flipped through the papers, “we’ve received a message from the Hidden Sand Village. They are sending a representative over to discuss a new peace treaty with us. The representative will be arriving some time-”


            Tsunade was cut short when her office door burst open. All the jônin quickly spun around, ready if it was an enemy attack. They all relaxed when they saw that it was only Sakura and Sasuke. But then they realized that something was wrong when they saw how the two of them were huffing and puffing for air. Obviously, they had just run a great distance and they both had a distraught look on their faces.


            “Hey there, you two,” Kakashi said casually. “Is something wrong?”


            “Lady…Tsunade…” Sakura heaved as she clasped her chest. “We’ve got a big problem!”



            A couple of hours earlier…


            The gates of the village were wide open, as if to welcome any weary travelers in if they needed to rest. However, the one who stood before the gates now had a much more important task than just simply traveling. She was on an important diplomatic mission for her village. She wore a dark violet ninja dress with a wire meshed body glove underneath. She had a red sash wrapped around her waist and an enormous metal fan on her back. She had yellow hair tied into four, spiky ponytails on the back of her head and wore the headband of her village around her neck almost like a necklace.


            “Well, I’m finally here,” Temari said as she strolled through the open gates. “Funny, I didn’t think I would be here this early. Guess that would explain why no one is here to great me. I’ll just show myself in…”


            Temari casually walked in through the threshold of the gate. When she was in and saw the village around, she was a little surprised to see so many buildings were standing.


            Wow, look at this, Temari thought as she looked at all the buildings around her. This place sure is coming along. I guess the attack didn’t hurt them as much as we thought…


            Temari then looked to her watch. She figured they probably weren’t expecting her so soon, so she decided to relax and take in the sites. She wandered through the village, admiring all the repaired buildings, houses, and even took in the mighty stone faces of the Hokages. She eventually found a nice little stand and decided to stop for a snack. She had a nice plate of dumplings and tea as she sat in the warm sun. She had just finished her dumplings and sipped the last of tea when she heard someone call out to her.


            “Yoo-hoo, young lady!” A little high-pitched voice called out to her. “Over here…”


            Temari looked across the street and saw a short man standing in front of a strange stand. Temari looked around to see if there were any other girls nearby and then pointed to herself.


            “Yes, you,” the short man said as he waved for her to come closer. “Come here, will you…?”


            Temari just shrugged her shoulders and laid down her teacup as she walked to the short man and his strange stand. Up close, the old man had very wrinkly skin, was wearing black sunglasses, arched back, blue clothes, a round hat, and he barely had any teeth. Temari cringed a little when the old man began to chuckle as he raced around the stand and got up on a wooden stool.


            “Welcome, madam,” the short man with a hearty chuckle. “I’m called the Medicine Man. I run a little medicine stand here in town. I saw you sitting over there and thought you might be interested in some-”


            “Medicine,” Temari quickly interrupted. “No thanks, I’m perfectly fine.”


            “Oh yes, you are,” the old man said as his eyes ran up and down her body. “But the kind of medicine I wanted to give you isn’t for healing. I have here-” The old man reached behind his stand and pulled out a vile with some strange greenish powder in it. “-a vile of very special powder. This is a little something I call Jutsu Power Powder.”


            “Excuse me…?” Temari said, a little skeptical of the name.


            “You heard me; Jutsu Power Powder…any ninja that eats the contents of this vile will gain an incredible boost to their overall chakra level. Can come in real handy if you’re in a really tight jam. You take some, free sample…”


            Temari reached out and took the strange little vile and looked at it carefully.


            “Are you sure this stuff will work?” Temari asked as she looked from the vile to short, old man.


            “Cross my heart, hope to die,” the old man, crossing his chest.


            Temari just shrugged as stuffed the vile in her pocket and looked at her watch. She figured still had some time left to kill and trying out something new would be a good way to pass the time. She started to walk off when the old man suddenly called to her.


            “Young lady, one last thing,” the old man said. Temari walked back over to the stand, a little agitated that this was taking so long. “I have this here for you…”


            He then reached back behind the stand and pulled out a beautiful golden scroll. Temari gasped, it was just so beautiful.


            “You like…?” the old man asked with one of his gummy grins.


            “It’s beautiful…” Temari said as she continued to stare at the golden scroll. “Are you sure I can have this?”


            “Of course you can…”


            Temari reached out and took the golden scroll in her hands. “What kind of scroll is this?” She asked as she turned the scroll over in her hands.


            “Oh, this scroll contains a very powerful jutsu. It’d be perfect to test out with the Chakra Power Powder. I, personally, cannot use jutsu like you ninja, so I figure you’ll make better use of it than I will.”


            “Thank you,” Temari said gratefully. “I don’t know what to say…”


            “That’s okay, you don’t have to thank me,” the old said. “I should warn you though, this jutsu is very powerful. So I recommend you go do it in a very isolated area. There is an excellent spot out towards the east; it’s a wide open area. You’ll know it when you see a large blue stone with lots of names written on it. Also, be sure to take in the powder before you perform the jutsu…”


            “Great, thank you,” Temari said as she ran off towards the east. “And good luck with your stand…”


            “Thank you and good luck to you too,” the old man said as an evil twinkle appeared in his eye. “You’ll need it…”



            Temari eventually found the large open area with the large memorial. She quickly surveyed the area to make sure nobody was around and then took out the jar filled with the strange green powder. She then opened the jar and swallowed the green powder. She expected it to taste, but amazingly, it didn’t even bitter or sour, it was completely tasteless. She had only swallowed half of the green powder; she saved the other half of the green powder, figuring that if it really did work she might want to have some on hand as a back up. Temari then took off her fan and placed it nearby. If this jutsu was powerful, she didn’t want to run the risk of destroying her fan, so she laid it up against a tree. She then took out the golden and unwrapped the string around it.


            As the scroll unraveled, Temari looked on in excitement as the characters on the paper were revealed. She was a little disappointed when the characters finally ended and all she was given were the hand signs for the jutsu. There was nothing else on the sheet of paper, not even a name for the jutsu. She then began to wonder if she hadn’t been ripped off by the old man. She then began to weigh the options and decided that the only way to tell if she really had been ripped off was to try out the jutsu. So she quickly performed the hand signs and then waited. But several moments passed and nothing happened.


            Temari eventually just gave up and decided she had been ripped off after all. The powder was also probably also a rip off because her chakra didn’t feel any different. She went to go and retrieve her fan, when all of a sudden; she was overcome by a strange sensation. She started to feel extremely dizzy and she soon collapsed.



Chapter 13


            Shikamaru gave a big lazy yawn as he walked through the village. He was looking for the Sand Village representative who was supposed to arrive at the village today. Since he was the only chûnin available that day, he had been selected to meet the representative at the village gate. He figured he try to arrive early just on the off chance the representative was early. But when he arrived, he learned from the gate guard that the representative was already in the village. Shikamaru just sighed at how troublesome this was. So he began to search the village for any possible sign of the representative.


            Shikamaru had been searching for nearly an hour without any luck. He eventually figured the representative might have had something to eat. So he began going from stand to stand, hoping to find some clue to where the representative or maybe he would get lucky and actually find the representative. But after searching at least half a dozen restaurants and stands, he was just about to give up hope. He finally stopped at a particular snack stand that said it had seen the representative not too long ago and that she had gone out to the memorial stone training field.


            Man, this is such a drag, Shikamaru thought as he walked to the training field. I feel like I’m on some wild goose chase. Man, why couldn’t she just wait by the gate until I got there. I wasted practically half of the morning looking for…such a drag.


            Shikamaru was walking through the forest, heading for the Memorial Stone. He had just come through the bushes to the training field when he suddenly came face to face with a large purple wall. He looked at it for a while before he approached it slowly. When he put his hand on the wall, it felt soft. It almost felt like cloth, but that was impossible. As Shikamaru was standing there, trying to figure out just what this wall really was, he suddenly noticed that it was starting to tip over. He quickly backed as the giant purple wall came crashing down and caused a giant dust cloud to form.


            Shikamaru shielded his eyes as the dust settled. When it was finally clear, he saw that the wall’s shape had changed shape somewhat. He then looked down at one end of the “wall” and saw that its color changed from purple to peach colored, like skin. He then nearly fell over when he thought he saw feet at the end of it. He then quickly looked to the other end he went completely pale. There, at the other end of the “wall,” was a giant face of someone he thought he wouldn’t have to see again. He was staring at the giant face of Temari.


            Shikamaru almost thought he was in a bad dream and tried to wake himself up with a hard slap to his face. But when he felt the pain in his cheek, he had to come to terms with the fact that he wasn’t dreaming. He just continued to stare at Temari’s enormous body, completely mesmerized by it. He judged she had to be at least 50 feet tall and that was far too big for him. He almost felt like running away, but he just couldn’t; something was keeping from moving. He couldn’t tell if it was fear, curiosity, or something else.


Just then, Shikamaru noticed that she was beginning to stir. He began to panic and started to think of possible ways to explain this to her when she woke up. But he was unable to think of anything, even when he assumed his thinking pose; all he could do was just watch as Temari’s eyes flickered. She then reached up to her eyes to rub them and as she did that, she sat up. This only made her more intimidating to Shikamaru, who was now completely petrified at this point. She then scratched her stomach and stretched her arms out with a big lazy yawn that sounded almost like a fog horn. Now Shikamaru was freaking out; he usually had a plan to deal with any kind of situation. This time, he was completely unprepared.


Temari’s eyes opened slowly as her vision slowly came into focus. As she looked around her, she rubbed her eyes again, thinking she was still partially asleep. But when she opened her eyes again and saw that nothing had really changed. That’s when she started to panic and her body was shaking like a leaf. Everything around her was so small; it was like she was in a toy version of the world. She at first thought it was a genjutsu that someone had cast on her as a practical joke. But after she tried to break and nothing happened, she was really scared.


“What’s going on? What happened to me?” Temari as she looked at her now gigantic hands. She then looked down and saw a tiny person next to her. She then looked closer and immediately recognized who it was: Shikamaru. “YOU!” she said with an angry voice, pointing a big finger at him.


Shikamaru started to turn and run, but he wasn’t fast enough. Temari had wrapped her hand around him in the blink of an eye and brought him up to her face. Now Shikamaru was really scared; here he was in a giant hand, staring into the face of a very angry, giant girl. He then started to cringe with pain as Temari’s hand began to constrict him.


“What did you do to me!?” Temari said in a low, angry voice.


“I-I didn’t do anything to you!” Shikamaru struggled to say as her grip tightened.


“Liar! This is obviously some kind of jutsu and you’re the only ninja around here! Now fuss up; what did you do to me!?”


“Look, just think it about for a second,” Shikamaru said as Temari’s grip slowly tightened. “The only…kind of jutsu that…I’m able to perform are Shadow Possession techniques. So how could I possibly use a jutsu that changes so dramatically? And besides…I just got here and found you like this!”


As what Shikamaru said started to sink in, Temari’s grip slowly loosened. Shikamaru let out a deep sigh of relief once he found he could breathe again. Once Temari realized this, she began to realize just how mean she had been. She then gently placed Shikamaru back down on the ground next to her. She then bent to look at him at eye-level.


“I’m really sorry, Shikamaru,” Temari said gently as she looked into his eyes.


“Ah don’t worry about,” Shikamaru said he popped his shoulder back into place. “You were just angry; even I’d probably do something irrational if I was in the same position.” Shikamaru then dusted himself as he continued to look at the enormous kunoichi. “Now let’s just think about this carefully. Try to remember what you were-”


Shikamaru suddenly stopped when he heard a rustling noise nearby. He went pale when he heard the noise; if somebody saw Temari like this, it could lead to real trouble. He tried to think of some kind of excuse to explain the situation without causing a panic. But he was too late; he watched as two people came bursting through the bushes. It was Sakura and Sasuke, the two new love birds of the Leaf Village, who were planning to do some training today. They were a little surprised to see Shikamaru.


“Hey, Shikamaru,” Sakura said cheerfully.


“What are you doing-” Sasuke started to stay when Sakura shoved him.


They stopped their train of thought as they looked up and saw the giant kunoichi. They didn’t recognize her at first until they saw her headband. They then thought back to the Chûnin exams.


“Temari!” Sakura and Sasuke said in unison.


Shikamaru threw his hand over his eyes as he waited for their reactions, expecting them to run to the village screaming about a giantess. But all they wound up saying was:


“Oh no, not again…”



Chapter 14


            For the longest time, Shikamaru just stared at Sasuke and Sakura in complete bewilderment before he finally spoke up.


            “Wait, wait, what you mean by ‘again?’” Shikamaru asked. “You mean this has happened before?”


            Both Sasuke and Sakura nodded to confirm Shikamaru’s question. Both he and Temari were in complete shock; not just at the fact that this had all happened before, but by the fact that it had happened with out anyone else knowing about it.


            “Of course, this would only be the second time if this somehow involved a golden scroll…” Sasuke said casually.


            It was those words that got Temari’s attention. “Wait a minute; did you just say a golden scroll?” She asked. Sakura nodded. “I remember now…I had gone into the village and ran into a medicine man who gave me some strange powder and a golden scroll…”


            Sasuke and Sakura just groaned when they heard that.


            “Yep, it’s definitely the same scenario as last time,” Sakura said in an annoyed voice.


            “Yeah, only this time, it looks like the guys behind decided to try a new tactic,” Sasuke added.


            “Um, look you guys,” Shikamaru quickly interrupted. “Not to stop your incessant rambling, but don’t you think we should probably find a place for our large friend to hide…?”


            Who are you calling large? Temari thought as she crossed her arms and pouted.


            “Thankfully, we’ve already got that covered,” Sasuke quickly said. “You two, follow us…”


            Sasuke and Sakura leapt into the trees. Shikamaru just shrugged and figured their really wasn’t much choice. He quickly leapt into the trees behind them. Temari eventually got up and dusted herself off, causing a small dust storm in the process. She then reached down and grabbed her fan. Actually, it was more like a toothpick than an actual fan. She quickly pocketed it and started to follow after the others as they leapt from tree branch to tree branch.



            Sasuke and Sakura lead the way through the forest to the large cave. They weren’t moving as slow this time since Temari wasn’t being exactly careful and stomping all over the forest, leaving unexplained large holes in the ground. Hopefully, nobody would notice and they would find a way to fill in the holes later. They continued on for a while until they finally reached the cliff side and the giant cave where Sakura spent her time when she was giantess.


            “Well, we’re here,” Sakura said as she stopped in front of the cave opening.


            “This is it,” Temari said with a little annoyance in her voice. “You don’t have something, I don’t know, a little cleaner and cozier…”


            “Oh, excuse us,” Sasuke said sarcastically. “Why don’t we just go back to Konoha and rent a room at one of the inns? We’ll just ask for the extra super deluxe economy size, I’m sure they’ll have one available…” Sasuke just frowned and crossed his arms. “Look, this is the best you are going to get Temari. You may not be from our village, but you should at least be thankful we even knew about this place!”


            “Okay, okay, I’m sorry,” Temari said shaking her hand at Sasuke. “I was only kidding. I am actually very glad there is someplace big enough for me to stay.”


            “Good, now then,” Sakura started to say. “We’ll go and retrieve Lady Tsunade as well as the other jônin team leaders. We’ll be back as soon as we can and, uh…” Sakura motioned for Shikamaru and Sasuke to huddle in closer. She obviously had something on her mind. “…listen, Shikamaru, do you mind staying here and watching over Temari until we get back?” Sakura whispered.


            “WHAT!?” Shikamaru said quietly in shock. “Why do I have to stay here? It’s not like she needs protection!”


            Not that anyone would be crazy enough to mess with her, Shikamaru thought as he peeked over his shoulder at the gargantuan sand standing innocently at the cave entrance. Temari then turned around and noticed the three of them huddled together, whispering to each other. She leaned in a little cleaned out her ear to try and hear what they were saying.


            “That’s not it, Shikamaru,” Sasuke said in Sakura’s defense. “It isn’t so much as to protect Temari as it is to protect the village. Listen, out of the three of us here, you have the best chance of stopping her, or at least slowing her down if she decides to go for a stroll towards the village.”


            “That’s right,” Sakura said. “If she heads towards the village, it’ll be complete chaos!”


            “Look, I admit my Shadow Possession Jutsu can stop a lot of things,” Shikamaru said in a worried voice. “But I’ve never used it on something that big before. I don’t if I’ll be able to stop her!”


            “You don’t need to stop her, just slow her down a little bit. Look, don’t worry, we’ll move at top speed and be back before you know it. Come one Shikamaru, please?”


            Sakura gave her best innocent face as she looked Shikamaru. Shikamaru eventually realized that there was no way of getting out of this and sighed in defeat.


            “Fine, fine,” Shikamaru said in an annoyed voice. “I’ll stay…just back here as quickly as you can!”


            Sakura and Sasuke both nodded, promising they wouldn’t dally. All of sudden, the group heard a loud thunderous boom that caused the group to stumble backwards. They looked over and saw that Temari had fallen against the side of the cave entrance and was gasping. She also had her hand clenched over her chest like there was a great pain inside of it. The three quickly realized she was in serious trouble and started to panic!


            “What are you guys waiting for!?” Shikamaru said hysterically. “Get moving!”


            “Right!” Sakura and Sasuke said in unison as they leapt into the trees and raced towards the village.



            Shikamaru sat and waited of the others to return while he watched over Temari. Fortunately, Temari’s condition had improved since they left. She wasn’t breathing heavily anymore and she was much calmer now. It seems whatever had hit her passed just as quickly as it came. But she was still short winded and a little exhausted from the whole experience, so she mostly just sat against the cave wall. She hadn’t moved much if at all; she was too afraid to move, really. She was worried that any sudden motions could trigger another episode. So she just sat near the entrance, lying against the cave wall.


            Shikamaru was just passing the time, doing his favorite activity: cloud watching. Though the view wasn’t as good as his favorite spot, but he couldn’t complain given the situation. He just sat there, waiting patiently for the group to return. He nearly fell over when eight figures suddenly jumped down from the trees in front of him. He quickly collected himself and saw that it was Sasuke and Sakura; they had managed to find Tsunade and the others in less than 20 minutes.


            “We’re Shikamaru,” Sakura said in a serious and frantic. “Where is Temari? Is she all right?”


            “She’s fine,” Shikamaru said casually. “Thankfully, whatever hit her had passed not too long ago.”


            “That’s good…” Sakura let out a deep sigh of relief. She then looked behind and saw that the others were gasping for breath. “I’m really sorry everyone!”


            “Yeah, we thought Temari was in real danger.” Sasuke added.


            “That’s okay,” Tsunade gasped as she wiped the sweat away from her brow. “Now, where exactly is she?”


            “She’s right in here,” Shikamaru said. “She hasn’t moved much since that little incident.”


            Tsunade and the others walked over to the cave. They looked in and saw the enormous kunoichi leaning up against the cave wall. She seemed fine, though she looked a little scared. She relaxed a bit when she Lady Tsunade and the others at the cave entrance.


            “Well, hello there everyone,” Temari said in a rather playful. “Do you like the new and improved me?” She then sat up and struck a bit of a pose.


            The group just looked at her with a little bit of shock as they looked at the giant Sand Village kunoichi. They continued to stare at her for a few more minutes before Tsunade finally spoke up. Something had been eating away at her since she had learned that Temari was the one who had fallen victim to the golden scroll.


            “Uh, Temari, why exactly are you here?” Tsunade asked.

            “Oh, well I volunteered to be the Sand Village representative and so here I am.” Temari answered.


            Tsunade’s head just fell forward in grief. That’s what I was afraid of…


            The other jônin saw the grief on Tsunade’s face and they all knew what was wrong. If Temari was really the representative they had been waiting for and word of her condition got back to the Sand Village, they would have a real serious mess on their hands.


            “Lady Tsunade, is something wrong?” Sakura finally asked.


            “Sort of, Sakura,” Tsunade replied. “But it isn’t something you need to worry about.” Tsunade then whipped around. “Shizune!”


            “Ready, my lady,” Shizune said as she pulled out Tsunade’s medical kit and opened it up. She then started to sift through the equipment until she found what she needed: a large hypodermic needle, the same kind she had used to get a sample of Sakura’s blood.


            “Whoa, what’s that for?” Temari said in shock when she saw the giant needle.


            “Relax, this is just a precaution,” Tsunade said as she took the needle in her hands. “That attack you had not long ago couldn’t have just been a coincidence. Look, just relax, this won’t take long…now, extend your arm please.”


            Temari gulped as she slowly extended her arm down to Tsunade’s level. Even from Temari’s view point, the needle Tsunade had was incredibly big, it almost made her wonder what other kinds of dangerous she had in that bag of hers. She then watched as Tsunade plunged the needle into her arm; it was so painful that Temari almost retracted her arm out of reflex. Once Tsunade was done taking the sample and withdrew the needle, Temari quickly placed her hand over the entry point. Shizune then took the needle from Tsunade and gave her some bandage tape to cover up the entry point. Once that was done, Tsunade then whispered something to Shizune who then disappeared in a puff of smoke.


            Tsunade then reached back into her and took out her stethoscope.


            “Okay, Temari, could you please lift me up to your chest for a second?”


            Temari nodded, glad to know that she wasn’t going to get with another needle. She lowered her hands and allowed Tsunade to hop on. She then lifted her to her chest and watched as Tsunade moved the stethoscope around, as if she was listening for anything in particular. Once she was done, she motioned to Temari to let her down.


            “Well, Temari, I really don’t know what to tell you. I can’t find anything wrong with you at the moment; it could be that whatever hit you earlier might have just been some kind of side effect. Did you do anything else besides perform the hand signs on the golden scroll?”


            Temari thought about it for a moment when she suddenly snapped her fingers. “Oh yeah, now I remember, I ate some strange green powder right before I performed the hand signs…” She reached into her pocket, but discovered it wasn’t in there. “…and I think I accidentally dropped it back at the training site, sorry.”


            Tsunade just sighed. If she left the powder back at the training site, there it probably wasn’t there anymore. No doubt whoever gave the golden scroll had already taken it back along with the green powder that they had given Temari. She just sighed and covered her head with her hand. This whole thing with the golden scroll was starting to become very frustrating, and it had only happened twice.


            “Uh, excuse me, Lady Tsunade,” Shikamaru said, finally speaking up. “But how exactly are we going to feed her? She’s got to have an appetite bigger then Choji’s.”


            Temari crossed her arms and pouted when she heard that comment. Asuma smiled and rolled his eyes as he remembered how he had been nudged by Kurenai for that very same comment. But it was a problem though, especially since neither of Temari's teammates was here to help. They first thought about bringing Ino and Choji in on this, but then they might have to explain everything that happened before with Sakura and knew that Ino would have a field day with this. So that idea was out of the question. That’s when Temari suddenly something.


            “Oh, wait a minute,” Temari quickly said. She then reached into her back pouch. “Let me just check…yes, they did grow with me.” She pulled out a large velvet bumpy bag that was tied with a string. Of course, to Temari was about the size of a normal pouch. The group was amazed that something other than Temari’s clothes had grown with her, but they were a little concerned as to what the contents.


            “Uh, Temari, what’s in that?” Tsunade as she looked at the large bag.


            “Oh, well since I was elected to be the Sand Village representative, I figured I might want to bring something as a sort of peace offering. So I decided to bring our latest invention…” Temari untied the string and showed the contents to everyone. Inside was a pile of large green pills that were about the size of a soccer ball. “They’re called T.R.P.s or Traveling Rations Pills. Just one of these pills is equivalent to a full square meal and is very nutritious. They’re meant for ninja who have to travel long distances and need to carry a lot of equipment.” She then took out one of the pills and stuck it in her mouth. But after chewing it twice, she gagged. “Of course, we still need to improve the taste. Right now, it’s like trying to swallow steamed and creamed broccoli and spinach all in one sitting…”


            The entire group stuck their tongues out when they heard Temari’s comparison.


            “So, you see,” Temari said as she tapped herself on the chest. “I’ll have plenty to eat; you don’t need to worry about me.”


            The entire group breathed a deep sigh of relief, thankful that they wouldn’t have to worry about emptying their pockets to keep her fed. But then they realized that they had another problem; as they looked at Temari, they realized she was taking this situation much better than Sakura was. She also seemed more confident too; perhaps a little too confident. They were worried that she may decide to take a little stroll through the village and if that happened, the results could be disastrous. Tsunade told Temari to wait while she and the others discussed some important matters. They then went around the bend and huddled in a group outside the cave, just Sakura and Sasuke had done before.


            “I don’t think I need to tell you why we need to gather like this,” said Lady Tsunade as she whispered to the others.


            Everyone in the group nodded their heads.


            “We can’t just leave her alone,” Kakashi said. “If we do, who knows what she’ll do.”


            “But what are we going to do, Kakashi?” Kurenai asked. “It’s not like we can just hold up our hands and tell her to stop…”


            “That is true,” Asuma said, rubbing his chin and his beard. “We’d need someone who can use a special kind of technique. A technique that hold anyone in place, something like…” Asuma cocked an eye-brow and looked over at Shikamaru, as did everyone else.


            Shikamaru just sighed when he saw everyone turn their gaze on him. “All right, all right,” Shikamaru said in defeat. “I’ll stay and keep an eye on her. But don’t blame me if I can’t stop her from taking a stroll. Okay…?”


            “Thanks, Shikamaru,” Asuma said as he gave him a playful nudge. “Now you better go back to your house and get some of your stuff. You may be out here for quite a while…”


            “Yeah, yeah,” Shikamaru said as he disbanded from the group and headed for his home.


            “You guys can head back; I’ll stay here and keep an eye on her until Shikamaru gets back…”


            With that, the entire group separated and headed back for the village while Asuma stayed behind to watch over the gigantic Temari.



Chapter 15


            Asuma had been standing outside of the cave entrance. He had just recently lit a new cigarette since he old one had gone out. Temari just pretty much sat inside the cave, thinking of whatever random stuff popped into his head. She really wasn’t able to do much of anything else, since she was so big. She couldn’t read any books or scrolls since the print would be too small for her. She couldn’t write anything since any pens of brushes would be too small for her hands. So she was able to do was think of random stuff and stare at the cave wall.


            Asuma was starting to get worried. It had already been over an hour since he had sent Shikamaru home to collect his gear. He was starting to wonder if he had completely blown off his duties when he suddenly heard a twig snap. He looked over to see Shikamaru come shuffling out of the woods.


            “Well, it’s about time,” Asuma said as he took a puff off his cigarette. “What took you so long?”


            Shikamaru let out a long, deep sigh. “Look, I’m sorry I took so long getting back, but I’m going to be out here for at least several like you said. That means I won’t be able to see my home or family for a while either. So I decided to spend some time at home before I got here.” He then began to scratch the back of his head. “Besides, I had some trouble finding my favorite Shogi board…”


            Asuma shook his head as the lazy genius came out into the light. Temari was still thinking of random things when she heard the voices outside. She looked over and saw Shikamaru arrive with a large backpack. It didn’t take her long to realize just what was going on; the others obviously didn’t trust her to be on her own. Not unless they wanted a difficult situation. She crossed her arms when she realized this and pouted; she felt like she was being treated like a prisoner or something.


            Asuma eventually disappeared from the cave in a puff of smoke, leaving Shikamaru alone with the Sand Village giantess. He quickly unpacked and set all of his things outside the cave. He then looked inside and saw the frustrated Sand Ninja with her arms crossed.


            “Look, I don’t like this anymore than you do,” Shikamaru said as he finished unpacking the rest of things, including his favorite Shogi board. “But we’re both stuck here, whether we want to or not. So let’s just make the best of it, all right. Now then let me see, I think I grabbed a pretty good book to read; would like me to read it to you?”


            “Excuse me, but do I look like a baby?” Temari asked. “I can read well myself without any help.”


            “Yeah, but I doubt you can read any of the tiny words written on it…” Shikamaru looked up and smirked at her. He watched as Temari blushed terribly and chuckled a little bit.


            Temari was so frustrated. Sure, she was bigger than him, but she couldn’t do anything to him. Or could she? An idea suddenly popped into her head as she continued to stare at the tiny ninja. The thought she had would be perfect payback for his most recent insult as well as for the time he humiliated her at the chûnin exams. Shikamaru then turned his back for a moment to try and find the book; that was when Temari struck. She reached over and plucked him off of the ground.


            “Hey, Temari, what are you doing?” Shikamaru asked as he was brought in front of the giant kunoichi’s face.


            Temari had a bit of a mischievous smile across her face.


            “Oh nothing, just a little payback…”


            Shikamaru then noticed that she was licking her lips slowly from top to bottom. That’s when he realized what she was going to do: she was going to eat him. He started to panic as her face drew ever closer. He tried raising his arms to try and slide out of his jacket, but unfortunately Temari also had a hold of his shirt as well.


            Man, not good…Shikamaru thought as he watched her gigantic lips as she continued to lick them over and over. I’ve got to get out of this! Shikamaru continued to struggle and break free while Temari giggled at her helpless prey. I can’t break free! Man, this stinks, who would’ve thought it ended like this; a snack for some troublesome giant woman. If I had known I was going to go out this way, I would’ve at least gotten one good game of Shogi in.


            Shikamaru was now only a few inches from her mouth. He braced for the inevitable end; but once he reached the lips, they didn’t open. In fact, he was just resting against them for a couple seconds, when he suddenly felt a sucking kind of motion and a strange noise in his ear. Once Temari was done, she placed Shikamaru back on the ground and waited for the expected reaction. Sure enough, it came, she watched as Shikamaru’s face contorted in disgust and he ran of the cave screaming things like “Yuck!” and “Gross!” the whole way. Temari couldn’t contain herself and started to laugh hysterically as her little guard ran out of the cave and around the bend towards the lake.


            Temari then leaned out of the cave and watched as Shikamaru began to frantically splash himself with water. Of course, seeing this only made her laugh even harder. She held her sides because they were starting to hurt from laughing so hard and she was slamming her hand down on the ground. Just then, the two of them heard a strange crunching noise. Temari stopped flailing and looked over to see that her hand had indeed crushed something. She gently lifted her hand and looked to see that she had accidentally crushed Shikamaru’s Shogi board. Shikamaru walked over and slowly picked up the pieces of his now destroyed Shogi board.


            “Oops…” Temari said meekly.


            “Just great,” Shikamaru sighed as he started to sift through the wreckage, pulling out any of the pieces that had survived. “Guess I better get used to reading more.”


            “But it’s just a Shogi board, what’s the big-”


            “It’s not just a Shogi board!” Shikamaru interrupted. “It was my first Shogi board. It was a gift from my grandpa on my fourth birthday. It was probably the only thing I had to remember by…” Shikamaru never once turned to face Temari when he spoke. “I remember how I was never able to beat him even once. I got better though and one day, I finally did beat him. That was the last game we ever played…before he passed away…”


            That last line made Temari feel even more guilty than she already did. “I-I’m sorry…I didn’t know…”


            “That’s okay,” Shikamaru said as he turned with a small grin on his face. “At least I brought games to play and some of my favorite books…”


            Temari just continued to stare at him, unable to say anything that could possibly make him feel better.



            Off in the distance, in the branches of a tall tree, Ko, Goro, and Sai were perched in the branches. Ko had the telescope in one hand while he was taking notes with the other. Goro and Sai both waited patiently while Ko finished his notes. Sai leaned up against with his elbow while he chewed on a piece of grass in his mouth. Goro was tapping his fingers, waiting impatiently fo the report.


            “Are you done yet?” Sai asked with a sigh.


            “Just be patient,” Ko said as he continued his observations. “There’s nothing to worry about.”


            “Nothing to worry about, have you forgotten about the attack she had a while ago. What if she has another one, only much more severe? We could wind up losing the test subject!”


            “That could actually work towards our advantage.” Ko looked over and saw a confused look on Goro’s face. “Think about it; she is the representative for the Sand Village. If anything happens to her, the Leaf Village will be to blame. And besides, its not like we can’t just find another test subject. So just relax and let me finish my notes.”


            Goro finally relaxed and laid down on the branch he was on, glad to have someone like Ko around who could always find a way to make things stable. Sai just continued leaning against the tree, chewing on his grass piece when he looked up in the sky. That’s when he spotted the dark clouds forming off in the distance.


            “Uh oh, guys…” Sai said. “We better get back down to the camp and secure it.”


            “Why?” Ko asked as he looked to Sai.


            “Those storm clouds off in the distance are looking very nasty. We’d better get down and secure the tents, unless of course you want your tents to be blown away!”


            Both Ko and Goro got the message and jumped down from the tree behind Sai who was already on the ground. They weren’t ones to argue with Sai’s judgment. If there was one thing he was really good at, it was predicting how bad a storm would be. He had never been wrong about these things before and so they didn’t question him about it now.



            In the Hidden Leaf Village, Tsunade was in the same room she was in last time when Sakura had been turned into a giantess. Only this time, she wasn’t alone. The other jônin team leaders were there with her along her trusted assistant Shizune. She had requested Shizune to fetch the other team leaders; apparently, something was really bothering her. The attack that Temari had shortly after she grew couldn’t just be coincidence, especially since Sakura was just fine when she transformed.


            She was now looking at a sample of Temari’s blood through the microscope. It had just been like before; pumping out a sample from the needle was like trying to pump out think jelly. As she continued to stare at the sample, her face grew more and more grave.


            “Lady Tsunade,” Shizune spoke up. “Is something wrong?”


            “I’m afraid so,” Tsunade said as she looked from the telescope to the other jônin. “I’m afraid the stuff that Temari ingested isn’t anything good.”


            “What do you mean?” Asuma asked.


            “This powder she took in is designed to help keep chakra flowing through the body no matter what. The only problem is how it makes the chakra. The powder slowly, unbeknownst the ninja who ate the powder, opens each of the eight inner gates.”


            All the other jônin quickly looked at Tsunade in shock.


            “Wait, Lady Tsunade, does that mean…?” Kurenai asked in a shaky voice.


            “Exactly; if we don’t do something soon and the eighth and final inner gate opens…well, I don’t think I need to tell you what happens.”


            “So what do we do?” Guy asked.


            A broad smile appeared across her face. “I’m glad you asked that question! There just so happens to be an antidote for this kind of powder. The good news is that I know how to make the antidote and that some of the ingredients needed to make it can be found right here in the village.”


            “Oh, well that’s good,” Asuma said.


            “Hold on, Asuma,” Kakashi quickly interjected. “There’s bound to be some bad news as well…”


            “I’m afraid so,” Tsunade said as she leaned back in her chair. “The most important ingredients needed are scattered throughout the Land of Fire. So I need all of you to leave immediately and find the remaining ingredients. Shizune…”


            Shizune then pulled out four scrolls and handed one to each one of the jônin.


            “Inside these scrolls are instructions on where to find the ingredients and what they look like. This should make finding them easier; the only problem is time. Even with her immense size, I imagine can’t have more than five days before the powder takes effect. That means you’ll have to leave right away and not stop to sleep. Just bring along some food incase you get hungry; and don’t give any complaints about leaving right a rainstorm hits. Do you understand?”


            All the four jônin nodded their heads.


            “Good, now go!”


            With that, all four jônin disappeared in four puffs of smoke. Tsunade then leaned against her chair and rubbed her forehead, secretly praying that she was right about Temari and the time she had left. If she was wrong, this who thing could easily lead to another war. She then turned her head around and looked out the window. She watched as the rain poured and the thunder cracked, suggesting a terrible omen to come.



Chapter 16


            The wind blew through the trees with the force so great; it knocked many of the older trees to the ground. The thunder was loud that the ground shook sometimes. The lightning was so bright that when it flashed, it lit up the sky like the sun. The rain was falling so hard, it sounded like metal chips when it hit the ground. This had to be the worst storm the village had ever seen. Many people just stayed in doors and kept warm and dry with their families. But there was one Leaf ninja who had was unable to weather out the storm (no pun intended) in his warm home with his mother and father. That ninja was Shikamaru.


            Shikamaru just sat at the entrance of the cave, shivering, trying to keep himself warm. He couldn’t start a fire because he didn’t any dry wood to make one. He couldn’t curl up in his sleeping bag, for that had been soaked by the rain. He had noticed the storm coming and started to move his stuff into the cave. Not all of it was wet, but when he went back out to get the sleeping bag, the last of his belongings, the storm hit. Now Shikamaru just stood there, with wet clothes, rubbing the sides of his arms.


            Temari was quite fortunate. She didn’t have to move at all and since she was so far back in the cave, she was still completely dry. She wanted to help Shikamaru, but he said he didn’t want to have to pick any more pieces. That comment made her feel even worse about breaking Shikamaru’s Shogi. She still felt like she had to make it up to him somehow. But she was able to do was just watch as Shikamaru just sat there at the cave entrance, shivering in the cold wind.


            “Hey,” Temari whispered to Shikamaru gently. “Why don’t you come and sit by me? You may be able to warm up a little…”


            “No thanks,” Shikamaru said bluntly.


            “Oh come on, quit being so stubborn, I said I was sorry. I didn’t mean to break that Shogi board…”


            “Yeah, just like you didn’t mean to cream Tenten during the Chûnin Exams. Or that your village nearly destroyed half of our village and wage war against us. Why I should believe anything you say, especially after the way you treated some of us!”


            Temari clenched her fist; she had all she had taken all she could. In frustration, she slammed her fist into the ground causing a small earthquake. Shikamaru jumped when he felt the quake.


            “Do you think I really enjoyed doing all those things? I hate war, I hate it!” Temari said as tears started to form in her eyes. “Even if it was to save our village, I just couldn’t stand it; even though I never showed it, my heart was aching with each blow I dealt to your village and the people. I still have nightmares about it each and every night.” She then curled up into a ball and started crying.


            Shikamaru was really feeling bad now. He hated to see a woman cry, especially if it was his fault. But that wasn’t the only thing going through his mind at the time. When she said she hated war, he realized that they had something in common. That’s when he thought about something that might cheer her up.


            “You know, you’re right,” Shikamaru said. “War is just stupid. You don’t really achieve anything except waste time and lives. The world would probably a much better place if there was no war.” Temari finally stopped crying and looked over at the tiny genius. “But we can’t exactly change what’s happened. At least not about the war…Look, I’m just trying to say I’m sorry for what I said earlier. I guess I was just frustrated about being out here and losing the Shogi board, but I shouldn’t have taken it out on you…Sorry.”


            Temari smiled and wiped her tears away. She was feeling much better now that Shikamaru had finally apologized. But she still felt like she had to make it up to him somehow; and as she lay there, watching him shiver, an idea came to her.


            “Hey, listen, you look really cold. How about I…warm you up a little bit?” She said in a rather seductive tone.


            Shikamaru stopped shaking and began to blush. “Gulp…uh, what exactly do you mean by that? Cause if it involves being inside your mouth and being slobbered by your tongue, I’ll have no-” Shikamaru couldn’t finish what he was saying because Temari had wrapped her hand around him.


            “Oh, don’t worry,” Temari said as she pulled him up to her face. “I promise you’re really going to love this…”


            Shikamaru then watched as she used her free hand and moved it to her chest. She then grabbed hold of her shirt and pulled it out. She then lowered Shikamaru in gently, making sure that his arms and head were still sticking out. She then looked at the tiny shinobi and saw that he was blushing furiously; his face was a deep shade of red. But she didn’t laugh; she just stroked his head with her finger.


            “Comfortable…?” She purred softly.


            Shikamaru didn’t say anything; he just couldn’t really say anything. He then looked up into her face, still completely embarrassed by the whole situation.


            “I-I’m fine,” Shikamaru stuttered. “A-a-are you okay with this. I mean, me being in here…Not that don’t like it, I do…I-I-I’m just not that kind of…oh man!”


            Temari giggled at seeing the resident genius of the Hidden Leaf Village fail at finding the right words to his situation.


            “It’s okay, I don’t…I am actually enjoying this myself. Now just relax, I’m not offended at all, I wanted to do this. And besides, look at it this way; at least you’re finally warm…”


            Shikamaru was now starting to sweat bullets. He admitted that her chest was indeed comfortable and that she was letting him sleep there. Once that thought settled in, he started to relax and ease into a comfortable position. Once Temari saw this, she stretched out her arms and gave a big yawn.


            “Well, good night…” Temari said sleepily.


            “Good night, troublesome woman…” Shikamaru said as he drifted off into a peaceful slumber.



            The next day, the sun was shining brightly over the Hidden Leaf Village. Despite the severe storm yesterday, the village did not sustain much damage. The sunshine eventually reached the outskirts of the village and illuminated a certain cave. Inside the cave, Temari was resting peaceful with Shikamaru still sleeping inside her shirt. Shikamaru was pleasantly dreaming away, resting comfortably on Temari. Surprisingly, her breasts made excellent pillows and her heart was like a steady lullaby. He almost didn’t want to wake up, but the warm rays were just too hard to resist.


            Shikamaru slowly opened his eyes and rubbed them. His blurry soon adjusted. He looked outside to see a beautiful day ready to greet him; well, him and his giantess friend. Shikamaru stretched out his arms (he tried to stretch his legs, but it was a little hard from inside her shirt). He then pulled himself out as gently as he could so as not to disturb Temari. Once he was on the ground, he took a quick look at her face, sleeping peacefully through the brilliant glow of the sun. He stared at her face for a couple of minutes, thinking that there was just something radiant about her face that made him just smile. He then walked out into the open, basking in the warm glow of the sun.


            Temari finally started to stir. She then stretched out and gave a big yawn. She then looked down and saw that her little guest was gone. She looked outside and saw standing in the sunlight.


            “Well, good morning sleepy head,” Temari said as she stood up.


            “Good morning, troublesome woman,” Shikamaru said. “Sleep well…”


            “Mmm, like a rock…” She then reached into her back pocket and pulled out the small bag with the TRPs in it. She then took out and popped it into her mouth; she then gagged at the foul taste. “Yuck, man I hope Lady Tsunade finds a cure soon. I’ve only been eating these things for about two days and I’m already sick of them.”


            Shikamaru just smiled and shook his head. Temari started to walk out of the cave. Just then, Shikamaru looked up and he was shocked by what he saw. He then saw that Temari was starting to walk out. He quickly activated his Shadow Possession jutsu. Temari was just starting to walk out when she suddenly felt like she couldn’t move. She then looked down and saw that she was caught in the Shadow Possession technique.


            “Sh-Shikamaru, what are you doing?” Temari asked as she tried to break free.


            Shikamaru didn’t say anything as he struggled to keep the jutsu going. It was just as he suspected; keeping someone as big as Temari in the Shadow Possession jutsu was difficult, but he never suspected it to be this difficult.


            Temari was still caught in the technique, trying to understand what he was doing. She soon got her answer; a giant boulder came crashing down right next to Shikamaru. The boulder caused Shikamaru to release the Shadow Possession jutsu and be knocked back more than a couple meters. Temari was also knocked back, but as much as Shikamaru. Once Temari recovered from the experience, she quickly rushed over to Shikamaru. She looked at him closely and saw that he had a terrible bruise on his head.


            “Shikamaru, Shikamaru are you all right?” Temari asked frantically.


            Shikamaru didn’t answer. He was completely out cold. Temari didn’t know what to do; all she could do was cup him in her hands and gently lift him off the ground. She then brought him to her face and gave him gentle kiss that covered his whole body.



            Shikamaru finally began to stir after about an hour or so. He could still feel the pain throbbing in his head from where he had been struck. He also felt something warm up against his body. It felt like it was moving and he could hear a steady rhythmic tone, like a heart beat. He then slowly opened his eyes and saw a very familiar looking wire mesh body glove. He lifted his head and looked into the gentle, smiling face of the giant kunoichi he had been assigned to guard.


            “Glad to see your awake,” Temari said gently. “Are you okay?”


            “Yeah, just fine,” Shikamaru groaned as he rubbed his head. “Man that was not pleasant. You aren’t hurt are you?”


            “Me, no, I’m fine…I’m glad to see you’re okay. I was so worried when that boulder came crashing down. But why did you use your Shadow Possession Jutsu to stop me? You could’ve just warned me.”


            “To be honest, I don’t know why I did it either. I didn’t really have a lot of time to think, especially when I saw the boulder coming down. I just did the first thing that came to mind.”


            Temari just smiled as she gently stroked his head with her finger. Shikamaru liked that he was being treated so well. As he sat there in Temari’s shirt, he began to feel strange. He couldn’t explain it, but it was something he had never felt before. He began to wonder if this feeling was love…but he quickly shook it off. How could he possibly be falling in love with this Sand ninja? She was mean, brutal, and rude; but now that she was taking such good care of him and treating him so gently, he started to see that there was more to her than he first thought. But Shikamaru didn’t concern himself with that right, all he wanted to do was just lay on her chest and sleep off the pain throbbing in his head.



            Ko watched through the telescope as he continued to make observations of the test subject. He was quite interested by what he was seeing; the report they had received about Temari from the Sand Village said that she had special emotional training so that she wouldn’t be distracted in battle. And yet, here she was, taking care of the resident genius of the Leaf Village with tender love and care. This was a side she had probably never even shown to her own family. He began to wonder if the change in attitude was a result of the powder or changes made to the jutsu on the golden scroll. So many unanswered questions; he only hoped that after all this was said and done, he would be able to study the civilization that created this jutsu.


            “Hey Ko, you almost done up there?” Goro called out. “Dinner’s almost ready, you better get down here before Sai and I eat without you!”


            Ko closed his notebook and stored the telescope into his pocket. As he jumped down, he could only wonder if after all this was over, he’d finally be able to achieve his dream.



Chapter 17


            The next morning turned out to be as peaceful yesterday. Shikamaru had slept through all of yesterday, even skipping lunch and dinner. He wanted to at least do something, but Temari refused to let even move so much as a muscle. He had only gotten a simple bump to the head, but she treated him like he had broken both his legs. He wanted to say he was just fine and that there was nothing to worry about, but he realized that arguing with someone nearly ten times his size was a bad idea. So he spent the entire day sleeping in Temari’s shirt, resting against her soft breasts, just letting time slip by.


            Now it was a brand new day and Shikamaru was feeling much better. His head was throbbing at all now, but he suddenly like something was missing. When he opened his eyes, he found he was lying on the floor of the cave. He looked out and saw Temari outside, kneeling down on the ground. Shikamaru eventually stood up and gave a big lazy yawn.


            “Well, glad to see you’re finally awake, lazy boy,” Temari said as she turned around.


            Shikamaru started to say something when he saw the kunai knife in Temari’s hand. “Uh, Temari, what are you doing with that?” Shikamaru asked in a shaky and uneasy voice. He had hoped she hadn’t decided to go out for and early morning walk that resulted in some uneasy confrontations.


            “Hm, oh this,” Temari said, pointing to the knife. “Well, I figured since you’ve been doing such a good job taking care of me, I figured you deserved a little something.”


            Shikamaru was astounded. “Um, I’m confused here…I thought I was supposed to be taking care of you.”


            Temari smiled as she returned to her work. “That may be, but I am the official, acting representative of the Sand Village. I am here to establish a strong friendship with the Hidden Leaf Village. That means I have to be on good terms with all the ninja of the village, and that includes you. Besides, I still kind of owe for the whole Shogi board thing…”


            That again, Shikamaru thought. Man, when she feels guilty, she doesn’t let it go so easily. Maybe I shouldn’t have made such a big deal about the Shogi board?


            “Finished!” Temari said. “Come over here, Shikamaru. You’re going to love this…”


            Shikamaru thought about it for a few seconds and figured it couldn’t be very bad, so he just shrugged. He walked over and around Temari; the sight he saw when he walked all the way around her astounded him. There, carved into the ground, he saw what looked like a giant Shogi board. It was a bit crude, but he didn’t care how fancy it looked. He then looked over and that were large, round Shogi pieces. They looked like they were carved out of tree trunks; he then noticed the hacked branches and large wood shavings. He then looked over to the forest and saw several large holes, no doubt made by Temari from ripping the trees out be the roots.


            “Whoa, you made this?” Shikamaru asked in surprise.


            “Sure did,” Temari said, a bright smile spreading across her face. “I woke up early today and I didn’t really have anything to do. So I figured I do something constructive. I remembered you liked Shogi, so I figured I make a giant Shogi board for us to play. You feel up for a game?”


            Shikamaru smiled and shrugged his shoulders. “Sure, why not…I’ve been itching for a decent game for a while now.”


            Shikamaru watched as Temari set up the pieces in their proper spots. He was amazed to see that all the pieces had the different symbols as in the game. He then looked up to Temari and thought she must’ve spent a good deal of time making this; certainly more than just a few hours. Which also made him wonder how long she was really up for?


            Once all the pieces were set up and Shikamaru had taken his spot on the other side of the “board,” the game began. It was a little difficult for Shikamaru, since some of the pieces were a bit heavy and he wasn’t exactly able to move the pieces easily. Temari giggled a few times as she watched Shikamaru struggle with his pieces. Shikamaru complained and asked why she couldn’t help him move the pieces. Her simple reply was that the game was still on and that it wouldn’t be fair to help an opponent. This only made Shikamaru groan as he continued to move the large and heavy Shogi pieces.


            A few hours passed. The two of them had only managed to get in only five games, with Temari actually winning the last one. The reason she won was that Shikamaru had gotten so tired from lifting all the pieces, so he wasn’t able to think straight on the last game. As Temari looked at the board to see the pieces in position for her winning play, she couldn’t help but feel proud of herself for finally out doing the little lazy genius. She then looked over and saw Shikamaru lying on the ground, panting for air.


            “Well, mister genius, looks like I win,” Temari said triumphantly.


            “So…it does,” Shikamaru said in between breaths. “Man, I thought…Shogi was supposed to be…relaxing…” He then looked at the smiling giantess. “You know…the least you could’ve…done was made…the pieces a little smaller…”


            “Sure, I could have,” Temari said, a smug look across her face and her arms crossed. “But then I wouldn’t have been able to tell which piece was which then, would I?” She continued to hold her smug look.


            “Ah, just forget it,” Shikamaru said as he waved a hand in defeat. “I just want to catch my breath now.”


            Temari laughed as she watched Shikamaru just lay there, no longer gasping for air but still fairly exhausted. She soon stopped laughing; she began to realize that seeing Shikamaru in defeat wasn’t as fun as she thought it was. She finally decided she needed say something:


            “So, what do you want to do next?” Temari asked.


            “Whoa, hold on a minute,” Shikamaru said without even lifting his head, “I’m the one who is supposed to be taking care of-” Shikamaru wasn’t able to finish his sentence. Temari had reached over and wrapped him up in her hand. She then raised him to her face.


            “Look, I appreciate the thought and all, but you seriously need to think for a moment. What could you possibly do to make me feel comfortable about my current situation? The only thing you’d be good for would be cleaning out the gunk between my toes.” Shikamaru cringed when she said that. “Don’t worry; I’m not going to do anything like that. Besides, I’m having much more fun ‘playing’ with you.” Shikamaru could only imagine what her definition of “playing” meant. “Now come on, there’s got to be something else you want to do.”


            Shikamaru started to think what else they could do. He then looked up into the sky and watched as the clouds floated by. That’s when an idea popped into his head.


            “Well, we could always do cloud gazing…”


            “Cloud gazing?” Temari asked.


            “Yeah, it’s something I do when I usually want to just relax. Unfortunately, my favorite spot is somewhere in the village.” Shikamaru sighed as he lowered his head. “And the view here isn’t exactly great. If there was only some we could get higher?”


            “Higher, you say,” Temari said as a smile began to spread across her face. “That’s easy.”


            Temari stood up to her full height with Shikamaru still in her hand. She then walked over to the side of the cliff. Shikamaru immediately understood what was happening; Temari was planning to scale the cliff! At first, Shikamaru wanted to protest to it, but then he remembered just who he was dealing with and decided it would just be a waste of time to argue the matter. So he just kept his mouth shut as Temari started to put one on the cliff. But she quickly drew her hand back once it had touched the cliff.


            “Hey, what’s wrong?” Shikamaru asked.


            “Oh nothing, it’s just that…” Temari looked down at her little guardian. “I think I should use both hands if I’m going to scale this cliff.”


            “So…?” Shikamaru was now starting to blush as he remembered what Temari usually did with him when she needed a free hand.


            Temari didn’t say anything. She just smiled and stretched out the front of her shirt, once again placing Shikamaru against her chest. She giggled as she watched Shikamaru blush once again; she just loved to embarrass him whenever she could. However, this time, Shikamaru wasn’t blushing as much. He was able to keep a rather calm and collected composure this time. But it was still embarrassing to be this close to someone he barely knew. Shikamaru didn’t even try to argue since Temari had already started to climb the side of the cliff.


            After a few minutes, Shikamaru felt the urge to look down. But when he did, he nearly went white; the ground below was already so far away. Even the giant Shogi board was barely visible from he currently was. He started to shake from being up so high; Temari began to giggle a lit bit because Shikamaru’s shaking was tickling her. But once they finally reached the top of the cliff, Shikamaru stopped shaking and his fear was replaced with awe. He saw the entire village stretched out before him and it was most beautiful thing he had ever seen. He almost forgot that they had climbed all the way up to look at the clouds. A gentle tap on the head gave him a quick reminder.


            “Hey, I thought we were here to stare at the clouds, not the scenery.” Temari said.


            Shikamaru just smiled and nodded as he lay back against Temari’s breasts and looked up as the clouds gently flowed by.



Chapter 18


            Shikamaru had no idea how much time had passed since Temari and him had been up on the cliff, but he really didn’t care. All that mattered was that he was a comfortable spot and watching as the clouds gently flowed by. Temari was also enjoying herself; she had never seen clouds like this. The only clouds she ever saw were sand clouds. She then noticed that one of the clouds was drifting a little low and so she raised her hand and watched as the cloud passed through and parted into much smaller clouds. She smiled as she watched the cloud break up. Shikamaru also smiled; he almost wished that he was tall enough to reach for the clouds himself. It was then that a question popped into his head, a question he had been meaning to ask for a while now.


            He rolled over and looked Temari in the face. “Hey, Temari, I’ve got a question,” Shikamaru said. Temari stopped admiring the clouds and looked at Shikamaru. “Why is it that you want to do the things I want to do? There’s got to be something you want to do?”


            Temari sighed. “Well, there are a few things I want to do, but the only problem is that they all involve going back to the village. And, needless to say, the Fifth Hokage would not be very happy with that. Besides, it’s not like I’m not enjoying myself. I really needed to relax and all the things we’ve done so far today have been very nice and comforting.” She then stretched out her arms and gave a big yawn.


            Shikamaru smiled a little bit at hearing that; he started to realize that Temari and him had some things in common. He also started to see her in a whole new light. She wasn’t at all like the scary ninja he had fought against in the Chûnin Exams so long ago. He then felt his heart skip a beat as he thought how pretty she looked and started to blush.


            What’s going on? Shikamaru thought as he grasped his chest. What’s happening to me? My stomach feels like it’s doing back flips and I’m starting to sweat a little. No way, it can’t be, could I be falling in love with this troublesome woman?


            Shikamaru quickly dropped the idea, thinking it was completely ridiculous, and resumed watching the clouds float on by.



            It was around late afternoon, early evening when Temari began her decent down the cliff. Shikamaru was clinging tightly to her shirt and kept his eyes closed the whole way, afraid he might accidently fall out. Seeing Shikamaru in such terror made Temari both a happy and sad; she was happy to finally see the resident genius finally scared instead of in control, but it was also sad because she really didn’t like seeing him look like a frightened child. She tried to move as fast she could down the cliff, but she didn’t want to go too fast and lose her footing.


            Temari’s feet finally touched the ground again after about fifteen minutes of climbing.


            “Hey, Shikamaru,” Temari whispered. “We’re back on the ground. You can open your eyes now…”


            Temari smiled as she watched Shikamaru slowly open his eyes and looked down. He was glad to see that the ground was much closer now and he let out a sigh of relief.


            “You know, it’s funny. I never pegged you as an acrophobic.” Temari than crossed her arms across her chest as if to try and comfort Shikamaru a little more.


            “Yeah, kind of surprised me too,” Shikamaru answered with a quick sigh of relief. “And here I thought I wasn’t afraid of anything trivial. I mean, it was only…gulp…a few miles off of the ground.” Shikamaru then started to feel faint and dizzy.


            “Hey, come on now, don’t faint on me yet. We’ve only just gotten down. Hang on…” Temari quickly reached up and gently lifted Shikamaru out of her shirt. She then placed him on the ground, next to the cliff. “Here, why don’t you spend some time here on the ground for a while and catch your breath.”


            “Yeah, good idea,” Shikamaru said shakily. He had to lean against the cliff in order to keep his balance.


            “I’ll just go wait inside the cave. You come see me when you’re over your little episode, okay?” Shikamaru nodded his head slowly. Temari patted him on the head gently. “Good…”


            She then walked off around the bend into the cave while Shikamaru continued to lean against the cliff. He couldn’t believe how nervous he was; it took him at least 20 minutes before he was finally over the shock and he was able to shake it off. He then walked around to see Temari peacefully resting against the cave walls. She eventually stirred and saw Shikamaru standing there at the entrance.


            “Hey there, feeling any better?” Temari asked in a kind tone.


            “Yeah, much better, thanks,” Shikamaru said rubbing his head. “How about you, are you doing all right?”


            “Of course, I’m doing just fine. You know, it’s getting rather late and it’s kind of chilly. Want to curl up with me?” A playful smile spread across her face. “That way, we can keep each other warm.”


            Shikamaru started to blush. “Uh, no thanks,” Shikamaru said in a rather shaky voice. “I’ll just…go get some firewood. Yeah, that’s it, firewood.” Shikamaru quickly turned around and ran into the woods. “I’ll be back soon, so don’t wait for me.” Shikamaru was good with a lot of things, but that last line he spoke was both awkward and stupid. But it was the only thing he was able to come up with at that moment.


            As Shikamaru ran off into the woods, Temari couldn’t help but giggle. He may a genius out on the battle, Temari thought. But when it comes to women, it’s obvious he’s got a lot to learn. He’s so awkward around, almost as if he likes me… Temari suddenly gasped as she realized that her heart had skipped a beat. Wait a minute, it can’t be! Could I really be falling in love with him? She quickly realized that she was blushing. I guess…he’s kind of cute. And that awkwardness of his does add a certain charm to him. But I wonder does he feel the same way about me?



            Shikamaru was off in the woods, busy collecting firewood. He was just about to head back to Temari when he was suddenly overcome with a sneeze that made him drop the firewood.


            “What the,” Shikamaru said as he rubbed his nose. “Why did I sneeze just now? Is someone thinking about me? Yeah right, who would have the time to think about a lazy guy like me?”


            Shikamaru just discarded the thought and looked down at the pile of firewood he had just dropped. He just sighed as began to pick up the pieces, again. Once he had them in his arms, he made his way back to the cave. The whole time he was walking, he was thinking how he should’ve brought Temari along since she could’ve been really helpful in carrying some of the bothersome load.



            The sun had started to set over the horizon, causing the buildings of the Hidden Leaf Village to cast long shadows. Most people were already heading home, ready to rest after such a long and tiresome day. But there was one place that seemed peculiarly restless: the Hokage building. The ANBU were busy reporting in to Lady Tsunade, giving the usual report, saying that they had found nothing. She had immediately dismissed them once she got their information. She was starting to become very frustrated with all this; it seemed like this new enemy was able to stay several steps ahead of even the ANBU Black Ops. But that wasn’t the only thing on her mind that was troubling her.


            It had been over a day or so since she had sent out the jônin team leaders to retrieve the ingredients for the antidote. Some of their genin teams were wondering where their senseis were and why they couldn’t be given any real information. Tsunade was really starting to feel the strain on the whole situation. She just sat there at her, tapping her fingers against the hard wood desk. Her frustration had nearly reached its peak; she almost felt like smashing the desk in half just to ease her mind. Just then, the door suddenly burst open and an exhausted Shizune came barreling in.


            “Lady Tsunade, good news,” Shizune said in an exhausted and excited tone. “Kakashi and the others, they’ve returned!”


            Tsunade at first had a surprised look on her face that quickly turned into a confident smile.


            “Well, it’s about time,” Tsunade said as she stood up from her desk. “Tell me, where are they now?”


            “They’re waiting for you in that little room we have in the hospital.”


            “Good, then let’s go.” Tsunade got up from her desk and walked to the door. “We better hurry, Shizune. I ran an analysis of Temari’s blood not too long ago. I’m afraid the powder may be working faster than I thought. We may not have much time left.”


            Shizune nodded her head as she followed Tsunade out of the room. Tsunade knew they had little time, so she decided they would work through the night if they had to. If they didn’t finish the cure in time, she could only guess at what kind of repercussions Temari’s death would have.



Chapter 19


            The sun had nearly set over the horizon when Shikamaru had finally gotten back to cave and started the fire. Temari just stood by and watched as Shikamaru used a couple pieces of flint to get the fire going. Once it was ablaze, Shikamaru took a seat next to the fire and fed it a few extra sticks to keep it going. All the while, Temari was sitting in the entrance to the cave, where the fire had been set.


            “Hey, I’ve got a quick question,” Temari said.


            “Yeah, what?” Shikamaru said as he continued to watch over the fire.


            “Why did you go into the woods to get the firewood? Couldn’t you just use the braches from the trees I used to make the Shogi pieces?”


            “I could’ve, but there would be a couple of problems with that. First of all, those branches are from younger trees; they would’ve had plenty of moisture in them, making it difficult to set them ablaze. Second of all, there are plenty of dead branches throughout the forest. They are dry and brittle, thus it would be easier to get them going. So you see there are plenty of reasons why I couldn’t use those branches.”


            Temari smirked a little. “Are you sure you didn’t just a little alone time away from me?”


            “No, no, nothing like that,” Shikamaru said casually. “Besides, why would I want to stay away from-” Shikamaru stopped his statement when he realized what he was saying.


            Temari looked at him inquisitively. “What did you just say? Are you saying you actually like being with me?”


            “Well, maybe…” Shikamaru said in an unsure voice. He then started to scratch his head. “I mean…it’s just…ah, I don’t know what I mean.”


            Temari smiled as she laid down on her stomach and looked straight at Shikamaru. “Come on, Shikamaru, I want to hear it. You really like being with me, don’t you?”


            “Uh well, uh, um,” Shikamaru stuttered as he tried to find the right words. “I mean, I guess so.” He then looked over and saw a smile starting creep over Temari’s face. He took a deep breath as he prepared to finally say what was on his mind. “Look, the truth is, whenever I used to hear your name, I always thought of the same scary, aggressive, tough woman who didn’t know a thing about being sensitive.” Temari’s smile quickly went to a frown when Shikamaru said that. “But, these last few days, I’ve been seeing a whole new side to you, one I thought would never see…” Temari then looked a little confused. “I’ve seen that you can be sensitive as well as caring, gentle, and maybe, kind of…nice.”


            Temari was completely surprised; did Shikamaru really just say that about her. He surprised expression quickly changed to a gentle smile as she moved one of her hands behind Shikamaru.


            “Yeah, well, do you know what I think about you?” Shikamaru slowly turned to face her with a nervous look on his face. “I always used to think you were lazy, irritating, and just plain rude. But now, I’ve come to also realize that there is more to you than meets the eye. Now I see you can be quite sensitive, fun, nice, and maybe even a little bit sweet.”


            Shikamaru was now starting to blush like crazy as he felt one of Temari’s fingers run up his back. She really loved to see him blush like that; it almost made him look like a cute little doll. That’s when she thought of something she knew was really going to make him burst.


            “Hey, Shikamaru,” Temari whispered. “Do you remember the first time I kissed you?”


            Shikamaru face quickly changed to a disgusted look. “Yuck, don’t remind me…” Shikamaru rubbed the side of his face like there was something. “I can still feel the sticky saliva!”


            “Well, how about I give you a real kiss? One that it isn’t slobbery and sticky…”


            Shikamaru just froze. He was at a loss for words; he just didn’t know what to say. All he could was just sit there as Temari gently wrapped her fingers around his body. She then sat up and back on her knees and lifted Shikamaru with her.


            “Come on, don’t look so nervous. You’ve done such great work at taking care me; just consider this reward for such excellent service…”


            Temari slowly moved Shikamaru to her face, her lips ready to deliver his reward. Shikamaru struggled to break free, but Temari’s grip was just too strong. All he could do was brace himself as he watched Temari’s lips get closer and closer. As soon as they were touching him, he was a little relieved to feel that they weren’t wet at all. But then, he felt the same sucking motion and heard the same loud noise. Only this time, it wasn’t that loud, it was rather quiet and her lips were moving very gently, caressing his entire body. He was at first disgusted, but after a while, he actually started to like it. It just felt so warm and nice; he almost didn’t want it to end.


Temari eventually stopped and pulled Shikamaru back. She looked into that tiny, adorable face and smiled. Shikamaru smiled as well as he looked into her beautiful and lovely face. They didn’t say much, but then words weren’t really needed. Temari then lowered Shikamaru to her chest and wrapped her arms around him, giving him the biggest hug of his life. She moved Shikamaru to her chest, stretched out the top part. And lowered Shikamaru in. She then got up and walked back into the cave. She then found her comfortable stop and laid on her back, all the while looking at Shikamaru with loving eyes. He returned her loving gaze with a warm smile.


They may not have said it, but at that moment the two of them were thinking the same thing: I love you…



            Off in the distance, Sai had taken over Ko’s duties and was observing the test subject. When he saw the two of them kissing, he made a gagging noise and pointed his finger in his mouth. He really wasn’t the romantic type and seeing affectionate displays like that always made him sick. He then watched as the two of them then hugged each other (or rather, the test subject hugging the tiny ninja). He couldn’t really take much more of this lovey-dovey crud anymore. But then he watched as the test subject placed the tiny ninja inside her shirt and he started to watch intently.


            Man, what a lucky guy, Sai thought as he continued to watch the two of them. He was disappointed when he watched the giant kunoichi turn around and walk back into the cave, where it was too dark to see anything even with a telescope. Once the “show” was over, he leapt down from the trees to the campsite.


            “So, anything new to report?” Goro asked as he stirred the fire while Ko went over his notes.


            “Not really, she seems to be fine.”


            “Really…?” Ko said in a rather surprised tone as he looked up from his notebook. He then started to chuckled. “Well, she won’t be fine for very much longer…”


            “What do you mean?” Sai asked in a worried tone. “Don’t we need her alive?”


            “Yeah, I thought were supposed to capture a live subject?” Goro asked in a worried tone.


            “Well, that was the original idea,” Ko said casually as he returned to his notes. “But our master has a bit of a different plan in mind.” Goro and Sai both looked at him, completely confused. “You see, the truth is, the specimen’s life isn’t as important as you think. In truth, what we’re really after is the subject’s chakra, so her life is of little importance to us. Besides, it’s probably a good thing if the subject is dead; that way, they won’t be able to feel the pain and agony as their chakra is literally ripped from their bodies!”


            Ko then started to chuckle in an evil tone and soon his two companions joined in. It was true, the ritual they were planning to perform was probably the most dark and forbidden ritual in all of the ninja villages. It was so terrible, not even Orochimaru would dare it. It would be this very same that would lead to the conquest of all the villages, and maybe, even, the entire world.



Chapter 20


            Shikamaru slept pleasantly throughout the entire. He had never gotten such a nice and comfortable sleep before; he almost didn’t want to wake up. Especially since he was resting on the softest pillows and was curled up in the warmest blanket ever. But unfortunately, the sun had other ideas. The warm morning rays entered and illuminated the cave. They eventually reached the lazy genius’s face and caused him to open his eyes. He just ignored it and rolled over, to block out the sun. He wasn’t going to wake up until Temari woke up. However, while he could ignore the glare of the sunlight, there was no way to avoid the warmth that was slowly heating up his back. So Shikamaru had to get up whether, while he liked it or not.


            “Morning, Temari,” Shikamaru said with a yawn. “Are ready to get up? Temari…?”


            There was no response. Shikamaru rubbed his eyes so they came into focus and looked into Temari’s face. He was shocked to see that there were beads of sweat rolling down her cheeks and she was breathing heavily. She then groaned and coughed badly. Shikamaru quickly put his ear to her chest and listened. He was scared when he heard her heartbeat; it wasn’t rhythmic and steady like before. It was more spontaneous and erratic. He wasn’t able to listen because Temari’s hand had shot for her chest and gripped it tightly with pain. Shikamaru had just gotten out of the way when her hand had come down.


            Temari was now gasping for breath as she rolled over to one side, causing Shikamaru to topple out of her shirt. Shikamaru got back up and looked at Temari with a worried expression on his face. He quickly realized that Temari was having another attack, just like before! Only this time, it was much more severe. He quickly started to panic as he wondered what he could possibly do to help. But he soon stopped panicking as he realized that maybe Tsunade may be able to help. Without a moment’s hesitation, he quickly headed back to the village, praying that he could find the Fifth Hokage in time.



            Tsunade sat back in her chair as she and the jônin looked on in anticipation as the last process to make the antidote went on. They watched as all the herbs they had collected along with all the herbs needed from around the village boiled in a beaker until they became a fine, thick, blue liquid. Once it was done, Tsunade took a pair of tongs, removed the beaker and poured the blue liquid into a funnel that hung over a vile. Once the last of the antidote was out, she removed the funnel and put a cork on it to seal the antidote inside.


            “Well, it’s finally done,” Tsunade said triumphantly as the jônin all let out a deep sigh of relief.


            “About time,” Asuma said. “I was just about ready to jump out of my skin.”


            “Now, all we have to do now is-”


            Tsunade was interrupted when the door to the room burst open and an exhausted Shikamaru came barreling in, barely able to breathe.


            “Shikamaru, what’s wrong?” Asuma asked as he relaxed when he saw it was one of his students.


            “Lady…Tsunade…” Shikamaru gasped as he held onto his chest. “It’s Temari…she’s…she’s…”


            A shocked look came over Tsunade’s face. “Oh no, I thought we had more time…”


            Shikamaru didn’t quite understand, but he really didn’t care at the time. “Tell me; is there a way to save her?”


            “Sure is,” Tsunade said as she held up the vile containing the viscous blue liquid. “This is an antidote for the powder Temari ate. It should-”


            Tsunade wasn’t able to finish her sentence, nor were any of the jônin team leaders able to say anything at all. In a split second, Shikamaru had rushed forward, grabbed the antidote right out of Tsunade’s hand, ran to window, opened it, and leapt out into the air. He then began to jump from rooftop to rooftop at break neck speed. Tsunade and the others leaned out the window as they watched Shikamaru speed off into the distance.


            “Wow, I didn’t think Shikamaru could move that fast,” Kurenai said.


            “I’ve never seen him so…motivated,” Asuma added.


            “Well, what are we doing just standing around here,” Guy exclaimed. “We’ve got to moving ourselves. If Temari is in trouble, we can’t just sit back and watch. We’ve got to get moving!”


            Everyone nodded in agreement and they all quickly leapt out of the window just like Shikamaru had done. They then started to jump from rooftop to rooftop, following close behind Shikamaru.



            It was remarkable how fast Shikamaru was moving. Even the jônin were having trouble keeping up with him. If had only stopped realized just how fast he was going, even he would’ve been completely impressed at his speed. But none of that matter to him right now, all that mattered to him now was getting back to Temari. Even he couldn’t believe it, but it had happened; in less than a couple of days, he had found true love. He had been lazy about many things, but this time he couldn’t slack off at all. There was no way he was going to lose her know, especially since he hadn’t even expressed his true feelings yet.


            So, Shikamaru continued to jump on and over the rooftops of the village until he was at the edge of the forest. He then started to jump on the tree branches as he sped towards Temari. He could only hope he would be on time and that it wouldn’t be too late. He completely ignored the pain in his legs and chest as he continued to move at incredible speeds towards the cave.


            Shikamaru had finally reached the entrance of the cave a few minutes later. He didn’t stop catch his breath, he just rushed inside and saw that Temari was still breathing hard, but at least she was still alive. Shikamaru didn’t waste any time and ran towards Temari. He was soon right next to her face and popped open the bottle and quickly poured the antidote into her mouth. He then watched as the antidote trickled down her mouth and into her throat.


            “Come on, come on, troublesome woman,” Shikamaru said in a hasty and worried tone. “You’ve just got to make, you’ve just got to…”


            Shikamaru watched as Temari’s breathing and body began to relax. He started to feel relieved, but he grew frightened when he realized that Temari’s breathing was getting slower and slower. And then…she just stopped breathing altogether.


            “NO!” Shikamaru cried.


            He started to curse himself for being so slow when he was suddenly overcome by fatigue. His body began to ache all over, especially in the legs and chest. He was unable to keep himself up anymore and collapsed to the ground in complete exhaustion. As he fell to the ground, he fell like he was falling into a world of darkness. He had just lost the first person he truly loved and so he felt completely lonely and sad for the first time in his whole life.


            The Fifth Hokage and four jônin leaders soon arrived on the scene and looked into the cave. They saw that Shikamaru had collapsed.


            “Shikamaru,” Asuma said as he rushed over to Shikamaru’s side. “Are you all right? Hey come on, say something…”


            Tsunade ran over to Shikamaru as well. She gave him a thorough examination.


            “Don’t worry, Asuma,” Tsunade said as she looked at him. “Your student is fine.”


            “What about Temari?” Kakashi asked.


            Tsunade turned around and looked at Temari. She at first looked concerned since Temari wasn’t breathing. But when Tsunade started to move towards her, she stopped as she and the other jônin watched in amazement as Temari begin to shrink. Soon, she was back to her normal height, much to the relief of the four jônin team leaders. But Tsunade wasn’t quite as relieved as they were; Temari still wasn’t breathing. She walked over to her and put her ear to Temari’s chest, expecting it to be very quiet.


            However, that wasn’t the case; when Tsunade listened closely she heard something that nearly made her jump for joy. She could hear a faint sound in Temari’s chest, a faint sound that was a ray of hope to her: a heartbeat…



Chapter 21


            The Hidden Leaf Hospital was quite quiet. Not too many patients had come in today with serious injuries, so many of the rooms were left vacant. There was only room that wasn’t empty. There was a lot of activity inside the room as the Fifth Hokage and her retainer treated the Sand Village representative. But outside, not a single stirred at all. There was only person outside the room; he was considered a genius, the only one among his graduating classmates to pass the Chûnin Exams on the first try. Sure, if he was such a genius, why was the first woman he had come to truly love? That was the one thought that kept racing through his mind as he waited outside of the room.


            Shikamaru just couldn’t take the waiting; he had assumed his famous calming pose, but it did little to help. He could barely contain his sorrow as he waited for the news. The other jônin had suggested that he should get some rest since he was so exhausted, but Shikamaru was unable to relax. He was hoping beyond hope that he had been fast enough, that the antidote had worked fast enough. Because if he lost her now, he didn’t know if he would be able to go on. He was just about to lose it when the door to Temari’s room opened and Lady Tsunade walked out.


            At first, Shikamaru was distraught because Tsunade had a grim look on her face. But the grim expression quickly faded and a warm bright smile spread across her face. Shikamaru soon realized that the worst had not happened and tried to find the right words. But they never came; he just remained silent as he for Tsunade to answer. But, just like with Shikamaru, she didn’t say anything; she just nodded her head a few times and stepped aside to let Shikamaru through. He quickly walked through the doorway, but once he was inside, he slowly walked over to Temari’s bed and sat down next to her.


            There were no words that could express his relief and happiness. He tried to find the words to say, but they never came. He just stared into her beautiful as she rested comfortably in her nice soft bed. Shikamaru then realized that he was crying, but not out of sadness. He was crying because he was just so happy; he didn’t even bother to wipe away the tears when he saw Temari finally stir and slowly open her eyes. He then gently took hold of her hand and stroked her forward softly.


            “Hey there, troublesome woman,” Shikamaru whispered softly.


            “Hey there, Mr. Lazy Genius,” Temari replied weakly.


            Tsunade was still outside the room with her ear pressed against the door. She had been hoping to pick up something juicy happening between the two of them. But nothing came; she figured they must’ve been whispering to each other, so she wouldn’t be able to hear anything. So she just moved away from the door and decided to head back to her office in the Hokage building.



            Tsunade got back to her office fifteen minutes later and opened the door to her office. When she opened it, she saw that all four of the jônin team leaders were there waiting along with Shizune. Tsunade wasn’t surprised in the least; she had actually asked them to wait in her office after they had gotten Temari to the hospital. She didn’t say anything when she first walked in; she just made her over to her desk and took her seat.


            “Well, I don’t think I need to say this, but I’ll it anyway,” Tsunade said as she addressed Kakashi and the others. “This is really starting far more serious than we thought.”


            “I’ll say,” Asuma said as tapped some of the ashes off of his cigarette. “We almost lost an important person today. If she hadn’t made it, our village would be facing some very serious accusations right about now.”


            “Man, this is so frustrating!” Guy said as he pounded his fist into his hand. “And we still don’t have leads yet.”


            “Well, we may at least know one thing,” Kakashi said as everyone’s eyes focused on him. “Think about it, if the Anbu haven’t found anything outside of the village, then that means this enemy may already be inside the village.”


            Everyone gasped at what Kakashi said. Could it be true? It would make sense seeing as how they were able to give the golden scroll to another kunoichi and not be noticed by the Anbu. This also meant that the enemy was getting smarter and constantly changing their tactics.


            “Man, just what kind of enemy are we dealing with here?” Asuma asked as he scratched his head.


            “If only we had something more to go on,” Tsunade said. “A name or something like that…”


            “Perhaps I can shed some light on the subject,” said a mysterious voice from behind Tsunade.


            Tsunade quickly spun around in her chair, ready in case it was an enemy. The other jônin all leapt to their feet, ready for a confrontation. But everyone quickly relaxed when they saw who it was.


            “Oh, Jiraiya, it’s only you,” Tsunade said as she relaxed back into her chair.


            Jiraiya jumped down from the window sill. “Hey, everybody, how you all doing?” he said in his usual boisterous voice while assuming one of his ridiculous poses. Everyone just stood there and stared at him. “Yeah, well, ahem…I overheard all of you talking and decided to step in.”


            “Geez, Jiraiya don’t scare us like that,” Tsunade said as she rubbed her forehead. “And what exactly did you mean by ‘shed some light on the subject?’ Where and what have you been doing this last month?”


            It was true what Tsunade had said. Jiraiya had completely dropped off of the radar and no one hade any idea where he was. Everyone assumed he was just off doing his usually peeping. But by the sound of his tone, it seems he was had been doing some serious information gathering.


            “Well, if you must know, I’ve been busy doing research…” Kakashi perked up when her heard that phrase but everyone just hung their heads and shook them from side to side. Shizune just gawked while Tsunade gave him a particularly nasty glare. “…but it’s not the kind of research you’re thinking of.” That one live was enough to get everyone’s attention, except Kakashi who just sulked when he heard that phrase. “You see, rumors reached my ear about a group of rouge ninjas had recently began to look into old temples from ancient times. At first, I thought the Akatsuki were up to something and I decided to look into it. However, when I began to investigate this rouge ninja, I discovered that it wasn’t the Akatsuki at all. Turns out, it was actually a group that call themselves the Crescent Moon Syndicate.”


            Everyone listened intently; even Kakashi found what Jiraiya was saying to be rather interesting, even if it wasn’t about his newest Make-Out Paradise book.


            “I discovered that they have been investigating ruins that pertain to an ancient ninja clan that existed. What was interesting about this particular ninja clan was that it was completely matriarchal.”


            “Eh?” Asuma asked with a dumb look on his face.


            “That means that the entire clan was run by women, Asuma…” Kurenai explained.


            “Oh…” Asuma said nodding his head.


            “Exactly, but that’s not all. Apparently, the women who led the clan considered superior to their male counterparts and figured they should have a way to show it. So they wound up developing a jutsu that-”


            “Wait, let me guess,” Tsunade interrupted, “makes them gigantic, right?”


            “Bingo!” Jiraiya exclaimed.


            “Well that explains why they’ve only been targeting women, but what are they trying to do,” Guy asked. “Create an army of giant angry kunoichi?”


            “Man that would be something wouldn’t it. But no, that’s not quite it. I don’t know exactly all of the details, but apparently they also acquired a very nasty forbidden jutsu that is banned from every ninja village.”


            “Every ninja village!” Everyone in the room said in shock.


            “Yep, but unfortunately I don’t know exactly what kind of jutsu it is. But the fact that it has been band by every ninja village means it must be something pretty nasty. Unfortunately, that was all I was able to gather about their plans. As for their members, I can only tell you that they rank mainly at chûnin and lower.”


            “Lower, wait do you mean some of them are genin or even academy students?” Tsunade asked.




            “But how could chûnin, genin, and academy dropouts be so careful?” Guy asked.


            “It probably means we may be dealing with a real mad genius,” Kakashi said. “In which case, we better think about tightening security within the village…”


            “May be, but that may not be the best course of action,” Tsunade said. “If we tighten security within the village, we may make the other villagers nervous. I think we should just keep our eyes open and act as the security force within the village ourselves. That way, at least, we don’t scare the villagers and maybe we’ll be able to catch the enemy off guard.”


            “We should also keep an eye on all of the kunoichi on our teams.” Kakashi said. “One of them might wind up being the next victim.”


            Everyone nodded in agreement. This was definitely a step in the right direction; they finally had an idea of who and what they were dealing with. Of course, this only solved part of the problem. Now they had to keep a watchful eye on all of their kunoichi teammates. They could only hope they would be able to catch the enemy off guard.



Chapter 22


Three days later…


            Things were quite pleasant in the Hidden Leaf Village. Temari had been released from the hospital two days ago and spoke with Tsunade that same day. Thankfully, negotiations with the Fifth Hokage went over quite well. After everything was said and done, Temari decided to say one more day. She spent much of her time with Shikamaru. They mostly spent the time talking about some of the missions they were on. Of course, they mainly talked about Shikamaru’s missions; Temari didn’t really like to about her missions, especially the ones her brother Gaara were involved in. But sadly to say, her last day went by so fast, it was hard to believe it even happened.


            Shikamaru had met Temari in the morning and had escorted her to the village gate. And that’s where the two of them were now, just standing there. Shikamaru stood on the inside of the gate while Temari stood on the outside. They were so close together and yet they had never felt so far apart. They just stood there for the longest time, not saying anything. It was as if one of them was expecting the other to say something.


            “Well, guess I’ll see you around,” Shikamaru finally said after a few moments of silence.


            “Yeah, I guess so,” Temari replied.


            She waited anxiously, hoping that Shikamaru would say something, anything at all. But nothing came; he just stood there, silent as the air. She just sighed and turned around to head for home. Of course, if she had just waited a little bit longer, she would’ve noticed the smile that spread across Shikamaru’s face as an idea came into his head. Temari was only a few meters away from the gate when she suddenly stopped, frozen by a mysterious. Although to her, this force wasn’t quite so mysterious; she immediately recognized the feeling. It was the same feeling she had felt during the Chûnin Exams, when Shikamaru had caught her in his Shadow Possession Jutsu.


            Temari slowly turned and saw that she indeed had been caught in Shikamaru’s jutsu. Both of them started to walk towards each other, Temari’s heart beating faster and faster as the two of them drew closer. She began to wonder exactly what Shikamaru was up to. She got her answer when they were only a few inches from each other. Shikamaru’s arms shot out and wrapped around Temari’s body; he then proceeded to give her a long, gentle kiss which Temari enjoyed very much. She quickly followed his example as she too wrapped her arms around his waist and pulled him in even closer.


Shikamaru and Temari soon released each others’ lips and looked each other in the eyes. Neither one of them said a word; words weren’t really necessary. Not when actions spoke so much louder and that’s just what Shikamaru was going for. He was never very good with words, especially during such emotional moments, so he decided to let his actions do all the talking for him.


Temari soon broke away from Shikamaru and started to head for home once again. She only stopped once and turned around to wave to Shikamaru. He waved back to her and watched as she started off for home. Shikamaru stood there for a few minutes as he watched Temari get further and further away. Once she was out of sight, Shikamaru turned around and headed back into the village. All the while, he was thinking of the woman who made his realize that there are some things in this world that are worth the trouble. He could only hope that he would get the chance to see her again as he walked back through the gates to his home.