The Voices That Guide Us Home
Where am I?
Why is it so dark?
*drip* *drip* *drip*
Where's that annoying dripping sound even coming from?
I can't see anything in this place...
Huh? Can I hear voices? It's so soft.
*drip* Sh- *drip*
This voice sounds familiar...
I need to get closer so I can hear what its saying.
Maybe it'll tell me what to do or where I am.
*drip* *drip* Shika-
Ah, I'm starting to hear it now.
It's calling my name.
I want to hear this voice, but whose is it? It's so warm and familiar...
Shikamaru please...please wake up...
Am I asleep?
*drip* *drip* *drip*
Eh? Is that another voice? It's so quiet.
I can barely hear it even when I move closer.
Shikamaru I'm so..r..
Shikamaru, come back to us honey.
Damn, that other voice is too loud for me to hear it properly.
So, so so..y...
I'll keep running to the voices, surely it'll take me to them.
*beep* *beep* *drip* *beep* *drip* *beep*
Shikamaru's eyes slowly started to pry open to a squint.
"Shikamaru!" Many voices called out to him at once.
"Someone quickly call the nurse!" Another voice asked.
"Oh my darling dear! I'm so glad! I didn't know what to do." His mother started to babble with tears streaming down her already tear stained face as she was holding his hand.
He looked to the other side noticing that Temari was holding the other hand, but wasn't saying a word.
"I...heard you..." Shikamaru spoke quietly as it seemed to be a while since he last spoke and his throat felt dry.
"What did you say honey?" Yoshino moved her ear closer to him.
"I heard your voice, calling out to me...you brought me back. Thanks Mum."
Yoshino continued to cry in joy.
"I heard you too...Temari. It was...very soft, but I heard it."
Temari looked at him a bit shocked, "But I didn't say anything out loud-."
"Shikamaru~" Everyone started to crowd towards him.
"Oh man Shikamaru, you're one crazy guy!" Naruto told him.
"Great to see you back!" Kiba cheered.
"Welcome back" Chouji also spoke a bit teary.
"Alright, there are too many people here. I need to examine the patient so everyone, but immediate family, please leave." The doctor ordered.
Everyone started to leave in a single file one by one.
Temari was about to get up herself, but Shikamaru gripped his hand tighter to hold her back.
"It's okay Temari, you can stay." Yoshino reassured her.
The doctor did the usual inspection tests. When he was done he spoke, "Good. Looks like you're in a very stable condition. It's probably best for you to stay for another couple of days just to make sure, but looks like you'll be free to go very soon."
"Thank you so much doctor!" Yoshino thanked whilst wiping away her tears.
Shikaku gave a nod.
"Well, I guess I'll be leaving now so you can catch up. I'll be back in about an hour to do some more tests for safety measures." The doctor then left the room.
"Oh darling we were so worried! We were scared that you...you wouldn't w-wake up." Yoshino could feel the tears welling up in her eyes again.
"You're really crazy sometimes. I can't believe me and your mother would complain you were too lazy day in and day out." Shikaku came over to the bed and patted his son on the shoulders.
Shikamaru tried to smile, but could only manage a weak one.
He then looked over to Temari who was still seated holding his hand, but was looking down.
Shikaku followed Shikamaru's eyes and gave a slight grin, "Come on Yoshino. Let's get your face cleaned up a bit."
Yoshino looked over to Shikaku, then to Shikamaru and Temari, then back to Shikaku, "Okay."
She then slowly got up from her seat and followed Shikaku out of the room.
There was a silence even after Shikaku and Yoshino had left the room.
"Te-mari..." Shikamaru said first.
"You...idiot." Temari could feel her emotions getting to her head, "Why the hell did you do that? What would've happened if you got shot somewhere irreversible? What would've happened if the bullet hit somewhere vital? What would happen if you didn't wake up, huh? Do you even know how I would've felt? How did you expect me to live on in this world knowing you sacrificed yourself for me? You have a caring family with a loving mother and father and you just go and do something stupid like that? You really are a complete dummy, dummy, dummy, idiot, dummy!" Temari then looked at Shikamaru.
He could see the tears welling up in her eyes.
Shikamaru gave a weak chuckle, "I don't know if I'm meant to apologise or...?"
Temari squeezed his hand tighter, "No, that's not..." she sighed, "I really am happy that you're back, though for a moment there I thought you were never going to open your eyes." Tears started to slowly fall down her face.
Shikamaru slowly raised his other hand and wiped away her tears, "You know, in the last moments I remember at the church, living on to spend more time with you was my last thoughts and what kept me going."
More tears started to fall down her cheek, "I'll forgive you this time, idiot. But next time, I will punish you. You know I don't need help, I can look after myself."
Shikamaru grinned, "Yeah sorry, I guess I stopped thinking."
Temari giggled a bit.
"It's funny, because while I was out, I swear I could hear your voice. You were saying sorry or something. It was really quiet." Shikamaru tried to sit up, but the winced at the pain on his hip where he was shot.
"Don't get up yet." Temari held him down with her other hand on his shoulder, "Well I was saying that in my head as I held your hand just before when your mother was talking, but I'm pretty sure I didn't say it out loud."
"Well I heard you" Shikamaru grinned at her again.
Temari smiled back.
"How long have I been asleep?" Shikamaru asked.
"About three days now. The doctor said that if you didn't wake up today, it could lead to a more serious issue. That's what started your mum."
"I was about to say. Mum's pretty strong, she doesn't cry easily, even over me."
Temari giggled, "Yeah, she's pretty cool. Don't know why you are like how you are now even with a mother like that."
"I'll try to take that as a compliment," Shikamaru murmured.
There was a knock at the door when Yoshino and Shikaku walked in.
"Sorry to interrupt." Shikaku apologised.
"No, it's ok." Temari quickly wiped her tears away, "I was just about to leave. I have to brief my brothers on the good news."
"Where are Gaara and Kankurou anyway? I didn't see them in the room before." Shikamaru questioned.
"They had to go back home. They really wanted to stay until you woke up, but Dad's orders are law."
"Well, tell them thanks for me then." Shikamaru grinned.
"Yeah, of course." Temari then let go of Shikamaru's hand and got up from her seat, "Well I'll be leaving now. Thank you for everything." She said to the parents.
"No problem Temari, we'll see you around soon I'm sure." Yoshino replied.
Temari then left the room.
"Temari is such a lovely girl. I can't believe you would be willing to go as far as taking a bullet for her, yet you haven't even introduced her to me and your Father. You will be hearing about this when you get home mister."
Shikamaru clicked his tongue, "I just woke up and you're already scheduling your lectures for me."
"Of course. You've been out for three days now, we need to catch up!" Yoshino mentioned.
"Ah, that Temari really does remind me of your mother in the younger days y'know Shikamaru?" Shikaku then entered the conversation.
"She is such an endearing and respectful girl. It's no wonder she's the daughter of that prestigious Suna Private Academy."
"Have you guys been talking or something...?" Shikamaru raised an eyebrow.
"Well of course. She hasn't left your side the whole time. I would come in every chance I got before and after work and she would always be there by your side. I even had to remind her to eat sometimes as she continued to sit beside you not even hearing her own stomach growling. So naturally we started conversing and got to know each other a bit."
"They were yacking away like a couple of gossiping hens." Shikaku commented.
"Oh..." Shikamaru thought to himself for a while.
At that moment, another knock came from the door as Ino and Chouji entered the room.
Like this, the rest of the people came in shifts of small groups to talk with Shikamaru.
The next couple of days went by exactly the same, but Temari didn't show up once.
After Shikamaru was finally discharged, his mum ordered him to return to school the next day as the doctor advised it was perfectly fine to do so, as long as he took his medicine on time and walked with a crotch or walking stick.
She also made the argument that he missed enough already and that it was his responsibility to take the consequences of his own actions.
Thus Shikamaru lazily hobbled into homeroom.
"Welcome back Shikamaru" Kakashi muffled behind his mask as he entered the room.
"Shikamaru!" His friends called out.
Other classmates and his fangirls surrounded him questioning what had happened to him, why he was walking with a crotch even though his feet and legs look fine and if he needed help.
Shikamaru quickly dismissed the questions and politely removed himself from the crowd and sat next to Temari.
"Glad to see you're okay." Temari greeted him.
"Yeah, long time no see." He responded.
"Sorry about that, I had to deal with my Dad straight after I left. He was mad at us for not taking Sasori back by force, or even try to convince him; nor did we contact him straight after seeing Sasori the first time. He also didn't like the whole event with the Akatsuki; thus Gaara and Kankurou was to return immediately. I just managed to convince him to let me stay as my contract to remain an exchange student hasn't ended yet. Unlike my brothers, I'm technically here on official business."
"Ah right. Well I wasn't too worried because apparently you never left my side right after I blacked out." Shikamaru smirked at her playfully.
Temari could feel her face starting to burn, "Yeah, well, of course I did. Had to eat and sleep you know?"
"I also heard you didn't even realise you were hungry until my mum advised you to go eat."
Temari's face started to flush, "Sh-Shut up. I didn't do that just for you to get cocky about it. This is why men are annoying; they let their ego get to them too easily."
Shikamaru chuckled, "Bit harsh making an attack on the whole gender itself."
Before Temari could continue to defend herself, they were hushed by Kakashi who began to take the roll call.
As usual, they moved between classes and Shikamaru started to see the bright side of being injured as he was allowed to leave early for every class so he didn't have to fight the crowds when moving around or getting to his locker.
Throughout recess, the group continued to talk about the day with the Akatsuki and asked questions about what happened at the church and why Hidan did what he did and asked Shikamaru if he was okay.
As flattered as Shikamaru was about his friends' ongoing care and gestures of help, by the time it hit lunch time, he needed some time alone.
He made an excuse that he needed to see Principal Tsunade and went to his quiet place nearby the office and laid himself down on the grass looking up at the clouds.
He then realised it had been an awfully long time since he had last done and enjoyed his favourite hobby.
Crunching noises could be heard as someone was approaching him ruining the peace.
In the end he didn't mind as it was Temari.
"'Ey," She greeted for the second time that day.
"Mm" was all Shikamaru made in response.
Temari laid down next to him and watched the clouds.
It was odd that they could find such peace after so much drama that had occurred in the past few weeks.
"I thought I would find you here." Temari then started to say, "This was where I met you for the first time."
Shikamaru grinned, "Yeah. I remember it clearly. You were so not cute."
"Oh and like you were the charmer. You were really cocky." Temari rebutted, but didn't look away from the sky.
"What can I say? Girls love me. You could've been just another one of my crazy fans." He smirked.
Temari turned to look at him and punched his arm softly, "Please. You don't even compare to Sasuke."
Shikamaru laughed, "Right, because I would want to be mauled by a pack of crazy women. After witnessing that terrible scene, I couldn't look at a group of girls straight."
"Is that why you've been avoiding people today ever since you walked into the school?"
"There's that, and there's also a lot of other factors."
Shikamaru then turned to face Temari.
They just laid there together looking into each other's eyes not saying a single word.
Shikamaru looked back up at the sky again, "Yeah, I thought of the moment when I first met you here as well."
"Did your life flash past your eyes or something?" Temari asked not moving her eyes from Shikamaru.
Shikamaru chuckled, "Actually, not really. I was thinking about all of this when Hidan gave me a 'moment to say my prayers'."
"Ah" was all Temari said back.
There was a moment of silence.
"So what other reason brings you here to escape from the world...besides girls?" Temari finally asked.
Shikamaru paused for a moment, "Everyone keeps asking and talking about that day and..." he drifted off.
He then turned so that his back faced Temari ignoring the pain whilst doing so, "Well I guess I don't want to talk or think about it anymore."
Temari sat up and looked at his back giving a face of concern, but didn't say anything.
"It's funny," Shikamaru gave a shaky chuckle, "At the time I felt like superman and didn't think anything of it; but now...but now..." Shikamaru could feel his face get hot, "well I guess you can say it was a pretty scary experience. Actually scratch that, in the final moments, I completely threw everything. In the end I didn't hold too strongly."
"You know, there isn't anything wrong with wanting to live." Temari pointed out.
"I'm a coward. In the end when I had the gun pointed at me, I caved in to the fear of death."
"As I said, there's nothing wrong with that. I also wouldn't call someone who runs in front to take a bullet a coward either."
"That's because I stopped thinking, doesn't count."
Temari sighed and looked at Shikamaru's back again.
After another moment, she suddenly spoke, "Oh shit, I forgot!"
Shikamaru snapped out of his lull and quickly turned to look at her, "What?"
"Ino and Sakura wanted to talk to me about something. Apparently she needs my help and I promised I'll talk about it with her now."
"How unlike you to volunteer. You wouldn't normally care to go, let alone being late."
Temari thought to herself for a moment, "Well I guess after everything we've all been through, I've kind of gotten caught up in the flow of things. Even a bit attached."
Shikamaru grinned, "Who would've thought, the Ice Queen's heart is melting."
Temari softly kicked him, "Whatever cry baby".
She then flashed him a smile showing her teeth and left.
Shikamaru remained laying on the grass watching the clouds with that uncomfortable feeling in his chest that had yet to leave.
He closed his eyes, only to be interrupted again by another familiar voice, "Shikamaru, is that you there?"
'Can't have a moment can I? Clearly need to find a new spot...'
"Hey Asuma" Shikamaru responded leaving his eyes closed.
"How you feeling? Ah, knowing you, you're probably sick of hearing that question by now" Asuma laughed.
"You have no idea..."
Asuma walked over to Shikamaru and sat beside him, "So it seems you've found the thing you were missing."
This statement gave Shikamaru quite a shock that he sat up really fast, hurting himself.
"Take it easy." Asuma put his hand on Shikamaru's back to support him.
After wincing in pain, Shikamaru spoke again, "I don't understand. If anything I went backwards that day. I let my emotions get ahead of me and...and..."
Shikamaru shut his mouth not knowing what to say next.
"Great! So you're now human!"
"Huh?" Shikamaru raised an eyebrow.
Asuma took out a cigarette, "You need to value your own life Shikamaru. The will to live is the strongest tool human's have. Once you throw that away, you might as well jump off a bridge and end it yourself."
"Isn't that no different than fearing death?"
"Fear can be good. It keeps you awake and aware and reminds you that you're still a mortal human. Stops you from doing stupid things sometimes. Although, too much fear can be worse of course."
Shikamaru remained silent.
"I bet you, if you didn't feel that need to live and willing to face death so easily, you probably wouldn't have survived that bullet."
Shikamaru raised his eyebrow again, "I would've survived it anyway, it didn't hit anywhere vital."
"How do you know that your reflexes didn't just kick in to make sure you didn't get shot anywhere vital? If you really felt the need to live, your body would act accordingly to protect yourself. If you didn't care about your life, it wouldn't have mattered to you where you got hit."
"Saying that is like arguing whether spirits, fate and coincidences exist."
"Well, you're alive even after taking a bullet, aren't you? What else is there to talk about?"
"It's pretty lucky that it pretty much just grazed my side and still managed to redirect the bullet away from Temari."
"Alright, calm down lover boy."
"Says you, don't think I don't know about you and Kurenai."
Asuma's face flushed, "H-H-how did you know about that?"
"Please, they don't call me a genius for nothing."
"W-Well I knew about you and Temari a long time ago too!"
"Why do I care? It's no secret."
They continued to trade playful banter.
"Well, I better be off now. Got a job to do y'know?" Asuma got up.
He helped Shikamaru to get up as well.
"See you around." He then left.
Shikamaru walked back to the group, which he then saw had no girls in it.
"Hey Shikamaru!" Chouji called out to him whilst munching away at his lunch.
"Yo, where are all the girls?" Shikamaru asked as he slowly sat down.
"They all ran off somewhere to have a secret meeting or something. Who cares?" Kiba stated.
"Did you do what you needed to do? Everything okay now?" Chouji asked.
Shikamaru smiled, "Yeah. Everything's okay"
End of chapter with NO CLIFFHANGER!
Though it's probably mean to say this, but you should all now be thinking 'What are the girls plotting?'.
It will be revealed next chapter!
I will say this again I DO PLAN TO FINISH THIS STORY SO PLEASE HANG ON. I WON'T STOP WRITING!
After all, I even returned after a year hiatus!
There was a couple of Shikamaru and Temari moments in this one. As there should be.
Thanks again everyone for putting up with me and see you next chapter!
Thanks for the reviews again! I love reading them. It's really encouraging! :D