Home Sweet Home?
Temari lazily reached out her hand and hit the snooze button on her phone.
She turned over to her other side in an attempt to fall back to sleep...only to see that she was not looking at a wall like she expected to.
She jolted awake and sat up.
It had already been three days since her return to home back in her old bedroom, yet she still expects to wake up in her bedroom back in Konoha.
Maybe it was wishful thinking.
Maybe this was all just a dream.
Maybe she took the bullet instead of Shikamaru and fell into a coma since that time.
Unfortunately, the pain she feels when she keeps accidentally hitting her shin on furniture she somehow doesn't see tells her otherwise.
Never did she ever think that her own home would become a foreign abode.
After her alarm went off again, she turned it off properly as she was clearly awake and went into the bathroom to get ready.
She put on the unfamiliar private school uniform with the stifling tie and stiff blazer and wonders if it only feels that way since it sat in her wardrobe for a long time.
Her maid then notified her that she should get going or she will be late.
Her driver was waiting for her out front.
The driver dropped her off at the front gate.
She continued to insist on being dropped off further away from the entrance so that she could walk the rest of the way, but the driver refused her suggestion each time advising that it will get him into trouble.
She tried to discuss it with her father, but as usual, he shooed her off like a fly telling her to come back if she had anything more important to say and that he was too busy for petty matters like this.
It was the first day back at Suna Private.
It certainly kept up its reputation as it looked far more prestigious than Konoha High, however it felt sterile and didn't exuberate the warmth that Konoha had.
The driver opened the door for her to get out and handed her school bag.
She thanked her driver awkwardly and walked through the school gates.
It had been a while since she was last served in such a manner.
'Oh my god. I told you that car was hers.'
'No way, she's actually back?'
'Do you think the other school kicked her out? She's back early.'
'Shh! She'll hear you and tell on you to her father to get you expelled.'
'The Ice Queen has returned.'
As Temari walked down the paved path to the main building, the students moved farther away from her as though she was toxic and also smelled bad leaving an open path for her to walk.
She grinned at the title 'Ice Queen', it was once her name, a name more fitting than Temari; now it just seemed so novel.
As she dared to look at others, the students avoided eye contact and pretended that they weren't looking the whole time.
She sighed and walked into the main building to her locker.
She didn't understand it so much before, but she could understand why the students alienate her so much.
She had a special locker that was painted gold and three times the size of other lockers. She was dropped off at the gates by a private chauffer, her father was the principal and she herself was the heir to the school and the teachers were more lenient towards her and showered her with praise over any reason in an attempt to suck up to her in hopes she'll put in a good word to her father.
'Fools. You actually think he'll listen to me anyway?'
It amazed her that she had never really noticed before and thought the students were just making up reasons to alienate her.
Sitting in the second front row of her first class, two seats either side of her remained empty.
No one sat in front either.
While the teacher continued to talk, Temari played with her bracelet that was given to her by the girls.
'What's the bet that her bracelet costs the same as our house?'
'The Queen always needs her jewellery.'
'You think it's a friendship bracelet?'
'You honestly think she made friends over there? She wouldn't be back so early if that was the case.'
'Wearing jewellery to school is meant to be banned.'
Temari couldn't help but think she was probably going to have some sort of narration and commentary on everything she did for the next week.
It made her realise that she did take what she had in Konoha for granted.
She continued to ignore the words that keep itching her ear in fear that it may cause her heart to freeze again after Konoha had carefully thawed it out.
The bell rang for the next class.
After she packed and stood up, she walked past someone's desk just as they dropped their eraser on the floor next to her foot.
Noticing it, she bent over to get it and handed it directly to the person who dropped it.
They froze as she faced them.
She saw a glint of fear in their eye.
She then placed the eraser on the desk in front of them and walked off without saying a word.
'Did you see that? She actually picked it up.'
'I thought she was going to throw it or just simply ignore it.'
'I thought she was going to throw it right back into their faces.'
'Wouldn't she just normally ignore it and walk on?'
'Could it be she has changed?'
'No way, it was probably a freak accident.'
Eventually it became lunch time and everyone filed into the canteen's large shared seating area.
Unlike Konoha High, it was compulsory to eat your meal in the dining area as eating on the floor or outside is 'unrefined' and 'for animals.'
Like before, when she entered the cafeteria, everyone stopped talking for a moment and looked at her. Then when they noticed what they were doing, they will quickly look away and try to start conversation again awkwardly.
Temari went to the back of the line of the queue for food. A teacher suddenly came up to her and advised her that there was no need to be at the back of the line and to just cut straight to the front.
Temari felt uncomfortable and quietly refused whilst other students stared.
The teacher continued to insist, thus Temari gave in before creating a scene.
'Yeah, why would you go to the back of the queue?'
'Just because she's the principal's daughter, all of the teachers suck up to her.'
'Shouldn't matter who she is, it is clearly unfair.'
The canteen lady stopped listening to a student's order and quickly ran over to Temari as soon as she saw her cut to the front.
She apologised for the 'wait' and asked what she would like to eat out of some choices she listed verbally.
None of which were on the actual menu.
You don't usually find items like lobster and steak on the usual canteen menu.
The lady then insisted on Temari to take a seat and she will bring out her food for her.
Temari sighed and agreed as she was getting sick of her futile attempts of resisting.
She then went and sat at an empty table.
'Remember now Temari, many others would die for the privileges you are receiving right now.'
While chanting to herself, her sibling then joined her on the table.
"Don't talk to yourself like that sis. It's creepy..." Kankuro abruptly said interrupting her thoughts.
"How is your first day going so far Temari?" Gaara asked.
Temari sighed, "More tiring than I thought it would be..."
"Having trouble adjusting?" Gaara questioned.
"Surely you must at least miss the luxury treatment we receive" Kankurou cackled as he saw his large steak come towards him.
"Temari isn't greedy and boisterous like you Kankurou." Gaara commented.
Temari could never understand how Kankurou manages to get along with others considering how obnoxious he can be obviously enjoying the benefits.
Gaara also managed to get along with a small group as he is the Student Council President and everyone in the committee has learned to understand his character noticing that even though he may seem stiff and snobby, he was actually a good guy who is just more quiet than the average guy.
"There's no need to worry about me guys. I'll be okay after a few days." Temari reassured.
She then made a realisation and quickly grabbed her phone out and took a photo of her meal that had just arrived.
"I never thought you were the type to do that sort of thing Temari" Kankurou remarked.
"Don't go getting any ideas. I promised the girls that I would make some sort of 'status update' every day for them to see, otherwise they will make a big deal out of it."
Kankurou and Gaara looked at her a bit sadly.
"You probably miss them a lot huh? Thinking back, you never really fit in here in the past either..."
"No point moping about it now, can't do anything about it now." Temari replied to Kankurou coldly.
They then ate their meals without much further talk.
Temari crashed onto her bed when she finally got home.
After a deep breath, she turned on her computer and logged onto an online chat service.
Not much later, a call came in from the online chat.
Answering it, all of the girls from Konoha popped up on her screen through video chat.
She also turned her camera on and they all talked excitedly to each other.
Temari told a couple of lies when she said that everything was fine and she was having an easy time adjusting back.
The girls continued to chat on for the next couple of hours before she was called for dinner and had to get off.
She promised to keep to the schedule of online calls with them like she did today and hung up.
Going downstairs into the dining room, as usual, her father was missing but her two siblings were already there.
They ate in silence as they had pretty much said everything they needed to at lunch and they needed to get through the large meal their personal chef prepared for them.
Returning to her room afterwards, she jumped back onto her computer only to be greeted by a chat message from Shikamaru.
Only to Shikamaru she couldn't lie and explained her situation and difficulty adjusting back to the lonely life.
Shikamaru attempted a couple of bad jokes to cheer her up, like how sometimes when Ino goes on one of her rants, he wishes he could be alone.
It always ended in them confessing they missed each other as sappy as it sounded.
They talked over the chat box into the dead of the night.
The days went by and even though the murmurs from the other students finally started to quieten down, she still felt uncomfortable.
Not to mention the loneliness only grew.
Every night she would find Shikamaru online and most of the time they would call each other, but generally don't say a word as they were busy with other tasks, such as homework.
Well, for Shikamaru it was more like he didn't have all that much to say on a daily basis and didn't want to distract Temari.
Even so, they continued to do it every night as it gave them a slight warmth as though the other party was really near them and they felt comfortable in their silence, just like when they were together in person.
It was a fateful day when she met a group of girls that didn't seem to mind her presence.
One of the girls was the one who dropped her eraser at Temari's feet.
It all started when she approached her on her own to apologise for being rude before and not saying thank you even though she had gone out of her way to hand her the eraser she dropped.
Temari looked at her strangely and gave a slight chuckle explaining that it wasn't necessary to apologise or thank her.
From then on, the girl continued to talk to Temari slowly every day starting with a smile when they passed her and eventually integrated Temari into her own group.
Temari almost told her not to bother considering the facial expressions of the rest of the group when she came to sit with them for the first time.
The whispers of 'are you crazy' weren't all that encouraging either.
However, the girl continued to insist on Temari to sit with them every break and the murmurs and awkwardness in the atmosphere faded.
She openly admitted later that she went out of the way to apologise because she was scared that it would've offended her like all the rumours said.
It was then she realised that Temari wasn't as uptight or snobby as she thought and then felt bad for even thinking that due to rumours and didn't try to make her own judgement herself.
From there on, Suna Private became more bearable.
Temari eventually started talking more and more about her time in Konoha and how different it was to Suna and all the great people she met and the crazy situations they got themselves into.
The group then confessed that Temari was definitely different to the rumours and enjoyed hearing about Suna.
She wasn't the cold rumoured Ice Queen as others have said.
Temari explained that those rumours were probably somewhat accurate to how she was before she did the exchange program.
After the few weeks of peace and finally fitting in, drama began.
A different group confronted Temari telling her that the group she was in was only using her and hoped to reap her of her benefits if they continued to befriend her.
Temari as usual ignored the warnings and moved on.
It wasn't like they were getting a selection from the special menu nor did they get to cut the line just by being friends with her. Their lifestyle didn't change one bit.
Soon after however, the group suddenly alienated her away.
She didn't understand, nor did she know why, but as always, she accepted the fact and apologised for being a bother and went on her way.
Feeling terrible due to the whole situation, after a couple of days, she decided to do what she never would've done before and made an attempt to talk it out with the group to see why what happened actually happened.
She saw the girl who dropped her eraser in the locker bay, however before she called out her name, she saw her open her shoe locker and noticed it was empty.
She then walked over to the bin and looked around in it.
Before Temari could walk over and help her out, one of the girls from the group that 'warned her' came over to the girl fishing in the bin, "Oh, looking for something?"
"Why are you doing this? I did exactly as you told me. I can't afford to buy another pair of shoes so please tell me if you threw them out again or did you just hide them." the girl pleaded.
"Who do you think you're giving orders to huh? You should be grovelling at my feet if you want something from me."
Temari couldn't believe her eyes. This stuff actually happens?
Before the girl had a chance to cry as it was obvious she was about to, Temari walked in between them.
"U-Uh, Ice Queen, I mean Temari, what a coincidence to see you here. You see we were just-"
"Looks like a typical case of bullying to me." Temari cut her off glaring at the group.
"N-No, you misunderstand. We were actually trying to protect you. We had warned you about your 'new friends' and how they were just using you so we decided to teach them a lesson ourselves."
The rest of the group nodded their heads enthusiastically.
"You're lying! You threate-"
"SHUT UP!" the mean girl exclaimed.
Temari grinned, "Oh thank you girls. I really appreciate that. I had absolutely no idea, I'm glad I have you girls to help me."
"O-Of course! We'll do anything for you Temari." the group's faces showed relief.
Temari smiled, then quickly grabbed the lead mean girl's collar, "Do you actually think I'm an idiot?"
The mean girl's facial expression changed to fear, "Wh-what of course not! P-Please let me go, you can't do this."
Temari gave her an evil grin, "I can't do what now? Did you forget who I am? Are YOU questioning my authority?"
"N-No of course not, I didn't mean to say that."
"Good. Now, please return my friend's shoes and whatever else you took from her. If you threw it away, I suggest you to buy her a new set. Also, it seems like more than one pair of shoes have gone missing so a reimbursement of money will also be appreciated. If this is all done by tomorrow, then all will be forgiven, got it?"
The mean girl shook her head in agreement quickly.
Before they ran off, Temari spoke again, "Now, if you don't do what was said, well, I don't need to explain what may happen right?"
The girls quickly shook their heads and ran off.
Once they disappeared from her sight, she sighed in great relief, "Geez that was tiring. I don't know who started the rumour, but I honestly have very little authority here."
"Uh, um, I can explain..." her friend started to talk.
"It's okay, I can kind of make out what happened here." Temari rebutted.
"N-No, I think you should hear it from me. I know everything that has happened is completely unforgivable, but they came to us and told us to create a distance from you or they will make our life hell. We ignored them at first, but then they pushed one of us down the stairs and they got a sprained ankle, so we got scared and listened to what they wanted. We then regretted that decision because the assault wasn't quite as harsh, but it continued and we lost you as a friend too. We then wanted to tell you afterwards, but we felt ashamed of our decisions and thought to just wait it out until they got bored as a way of repenting I guess. We should have told you from the very start, but it all happened so fast that we got caught up. I know it's no excuse but...well I guess we don't deserve forgiveness..." the girl blabbered.
Temari just smiled at her.
Before peace could be restored as she returned to her group, a bigger issue came to light.
She went on her computer to see that Shikamaru wasn't online.
They had agreed to have a video chat that night, so she stayed on not moving her eyes off the computer screen until it was about 3am and she had to get off before she fell asleep at the table.
The next day she prepared to give Shikamaru an earful for standing her up on their video date, only to see that he wasn't on again.
By the third day she got worried as yet again Shikamaru was nowhere to be seen.
She texted him multiple times only to receive no answer and even called only to find his mobile was off.
She even desperately called his home number, only to get his parents telling her he wasn't home.
After a few days, it was her video date with the girls again.
She asked them about Shikamaru, however they avoided the question multiple times. When it became impossible to avoid any longer, all they could say was that 'they cannot give her an answer and that they were sorry'.
Temari didn't understand what this meant.
How could there be no explanation?
The answer she was looking for was he was grounded or something stupid that coincidentally caused him to no longer be allowed online or on his mobile.
Days went by and still nothing from Shikamaru.
It became pointless to question the girls any further so she didn't even bother anymore.
The last time they had a full conversation, it was about how her new friendship group started alienating her for what seemed like no reason at the time.
It was Shikamaru who encouraged her to go after the for some answers.
After that they were both a bit busy so they had the call on, but not many words were exchanged.
She didn't even get to tell him that everything is okay now and that she returned to the group safely.
After a couple of weeks, she started to monitor her computer less. She still checked every day, but wasn't watching it like a hawk as she did before.
Mid semester exams were coming up, so her workload increased significantly.
She may have been naturally bright, but her result had to be in the top ten of the year level or she'll hear it from her father.
Taking advantage of this, she buried herself in work and study.
She sometimes skipped her break times to go and study.
However, no matter how much she studied, nothing was sticking.
'I don't get that Shikamaru, why would he just suddenly disappear? This is exactly the same as what happened with the group, so there must be an explanation. I can't imagine a group of girls approached him telling him to ignore me. Which leads to the question as to why the girls won't tell me anything. They clearly know something. What if it's something that's hard to say? Like he's actually avoiding me because he's seeing some other girl, like that Shiho woman? Maybe he's creating space between us to give an illusion he's single and to understand if he actually likes her? No surely not, Shikamaru doesn't look at girls anyway...but it's the only explanation I have. I mean the girls would find it hard to tell me that, especially if he hasn't made a decision and they probably wouldn't want me to worry until he does. ARGH WHY DOES THIS STUFF KEEP HAPPENING TO ME?!'
Whilst Temari was battling with her thoughts, her group approached her asking if everything was really alright.
That was when Temari did something completely unlike herself, a tear streamed down her face as she buried it into her hands.
Temari explained the situation to her group and even though they couldn't really come up with a clear explanation, she felt a bit better.
Studying also became easier as a consequence and information was piecing together nicely.
She continued to bury herself with work and also involved herself more into the group and her friend's issues to avoid her own.
At least this time it was somewhat successful as the deadline approached and the adrenaline kicked in.
Finally the examination period was over and she let out a huge sigh of relief.
Even though she had done this, she wasn't feeling relieved as she had nothing left to distract her from Shikamaru.
After contemplating for an hour that night, she logged back onto her computer and checked to see if Shikamaru was finally online.
She had stopped checking the last couple of weeks as she was busy and her heart couldn't really handle reality at the time.
She scrolled down to find Shikamaru's name, only to see he was still offline.
Feeling frustrated she shut down her computer and threw herself onto her bed and screamed into her pillow as loudly as she could.
She then heard a knock on the door.
After she quickly tidied herself up, she advised them that it was okay to enter.
To her surprise, it was her father that had knocked.
"Are you okay?" he asked coldly.
"Er, yeah I'm fine. Just exam stress y'know."
He raised an eyebrow, "If you did well, there should be no stress."
Temari pouted, "Yeah, well I'm normal and feel stress no matter what with these sort of things."
After giving her a strange look, he left the room.
In her time of freedom, Temari distracted herself with movies and talking to her friends from morning through to the late evening where she would fall straight to sleep.
Finally, it was time to see the results of the exams a week later.
Looking at the board on display, she found herself ranked 8th.
Her friends congratulated and cheered for her.
Even though it was enough to satisfy her dad, she felt like it was less than she was expecting.
She would normally rank between 8th to 10th, and she wouldn't have studied nearly as much as she did this time around.
It only showed how much the situation was affecting her.
Which only made her think about Shikamaru again.
That night she couldn't bear watching another movie and simply laid still in bed until she fell asleep thinking of Shikamaru and beating up his stupid head.
The next morning, she stared in the mirror to see her eyes were swollen.
She quickly asked the maids to steam a towel for her and she swapped between a cold and steam towel for her eyes until they returned to normal.
Half wanting to go and half wanting to skip the day at school, she walked into the school reluctantly feelings completely exhausted even though she went to bed early.
It wasn't until she was nearly at the end of the paved path that she heard the squeals of girls and whispers around her.
'Who is that?'
'He's so good looking.'
'Does he go here? I've never seen him before.'
'Surely not, we would have noticed a guy like him.'
'Is he here looking for someone?'
'New exchange student?'
'Weird to have someone enter the school right before the mid semester break. Usually they wait until afterwards?'
As Temari's interest peaked, she slowly turned around to look behind her.
To her surprise and relief, it was no other than Shikamaru who stood a few feet away from her.
She froze on the spot. She didn't know what to say, do , feel.
Shikamaru took a step forward and grinned, "Temari."
She could feel a sensation going up to her head that you usually feel before you start to tear up.
She took a step towards him, then her steps grew increasingly faster until she found herself leaping into him.
He embraced her in return.
A stunned crowd started to vaguely form as everyone looked in shock.
'The Ice Queen is...hugging a guy?'
'Maybe they're related?'
'They look nothing alike.'
'It isn't possible for her to get a boyfriend though, right?'
'That's one courageous guy if it's true.'
'He's probably from Konoha.'
Temari then gently let go of the embrace, only to meet him with a punch in the cheek.
"O-Oww..." Shikamaru complained.
'There's our Ice Queen.'
"Yeah well you deserve more than that! What are you even doing here? First you stopped being online, don't answer my texts and calls and then you just suddenly show up?!" Temari scolded, "You're lucky I haven't beaten you up already."
"No, you have every right to, but before you do , please let me explain." Shikamaru held his hand up in front of him in defence.
"You h-had four weeks...a WHOLE MONTH to e-explain yourself..." Temari's speech started to stutter as she could no longer fight back the tears and one managed to escape.
'Nope, lost her again.'
'Is this really the rumoured Ice Queen?'
"I know. I promise you there is a valid and sensible reason to all of this. I didn't want to put you through this, but I knew you had the strength to last. Hell, you're pretty damn strong. I think you slightly sprained my jaw." he rubbed his jaw.
Temari couldn't speak any more or she would start crying, so she simply looked at him, glared and pouted.
Shikamaru smirked and embraced her again, "I'm sorry. I really am."
Shikamaru explained that the reason why he avoided all contact with her was because he made a deal with her father. He wanted to transfer to Suna Private as soon as Temari left, however her father knew that they were seeing each other and refused as he didn't deem Shikamaru good enough to date his daughter as he wasn't from a prestigious blood line. Shikamaru continued to ask him every day in every way possible to allow him to transfer to Suna. Eventually he had worn him down and they made an agreement. If Shikamaru managed to score 100% overall on the mid semester exam, he was allowed to attend Suna; however this went for both the Konoha and Suna school's exam even though he wasn't able to attend Suna's classes. Also, during this period, he wasn't allowed to speak to Temari at all as he wanted to see Temari's resolve in this relationship. If he found out that he had contacted Temari even once in any way or if he had even lost 0.0001% of a mark on either test, he would forget about enrolling at Suna at all and leave them alone.
"When you told me about your dispute with your friends, I knew I had to be here; so I really pushed your father into having an agreement with me. Luckily he agreed and well, he didn't give me an easy task, but it wasn't impossible. It was the first time ever in my life that I actually studied. I told the girls to not tell you anything either as that would count as 'communication', and well they didn't like it and they bugged me about it every frikin' day, but they understood the situation just wasn't that easy. I knew it wasn't going to be easy and that it would hurt you, but I took the risk to be here. I'm sorry that you had to go through this blindly, the whole time I kept wishing you would forgive me once I explain it to you and that you haven't moved on or anything even after being a complete jerk," Shikamaru explained further.
Temari took a step back and noticed that Shikamaru was in fact wearing the Suna Private uniform; and neatly too to her surprise.
"I still have to keep in the top three in every test and exam from now on or I'll get kicked out, but we'll worry about that later."
Temari just continued to stand there stunned about the whole situation.
When she finally collected herself, she stormed into her dad's office, "I can't believe you pushed Shikamaru into a corner and struck such a ridiculous deal."
"Please Temari, not that it's appropriate to speak of this here, nor is that tone acceptable, but if anything, I was the one pushed into the corner, " her dad retaliated.
"Why couldn't you just let him in with the normal entrance exam? Why be so difficult?"
"Temari, you should know of all people how important your position is. You are the eldest of the next generation and the heir. I wanted to set you up properly with a proper partner that was fitting for the role of being your husband. I knew that you and Shikamaru were seeing each other and as noble as his family's occupation is, it is all but that of the commoner world. I needed to at least be satisfied of his own worth since his family lineage is nothing special. I didn't want you wasting your time with dating a nobody when you should be concentrating on your future."
"And my future is not for you to decide! You are absolutely unbelievable. I'm so glad Shikamaru totally kicked your sorry ass. It's one thing to have a ridiculous test, it's another to have kept me in the dark about this whole thing to see my 'resolve' or whatever like you're a good judge of that. Don't think I didn't notice how noticeably harder the test was this year."
"Complain all you want Temari, but instead of wasting your time complaining about the past, you might as well enjoy your victory...and mind your language young lady."
Temari groaned and started to leave the office.
Before she left, she turned around, "Actually, I'm surprised you were so honest. You could have easily enforced a mark to be lost somewhere in the whole exam, yet you didn't. Why is that? And don't you even bother speaking about honour or anything."
Her father paused, "Well, to be honest, I was watching you too and saw your resolve. It's clear that making Shikamaru disappear wasn't the answer. Plus, I felt like I could be satisfied if your suitor was intelligent enough, even if he was a peasant. I was honestly shocked though considering his marks were good, but not the best. I didn't expect him to succeed, so when he did, I had no choice."
"Oh yeah, Shikamaru usually gets bored during the exam so he falls asleep and doesn't finish the paper."
For the first time in a long time, Temari saw her dad grin and almost chuckle.
She left the room only to see Shikamaru sitting in the secretary reception room.
"Feel a bit better now?" Shikamaru asked.
"Yeah, a bit." Temari replied and continued to walk out of the room.
Shikamaru got up from his seat and followed behind her.
As they walked around the school together, Shikamaru couldn't help but notice everyone they passed was staring at them and murmuring.
"You weren't exaggerating over the call when you told me about this."
Temari giggled, "I already attract enough attention as it is. With you here it makes it worse."
'Did the Ice Queen just smile?'
'Maybe the rumours aren't true after all.'
'I'm more interested in the guy with her.'
'Don't even think about it, they're probably together and I wouldn't want to challenge her.'
'Shh, they can hear you!'
"How do you get used to this? Ugh, I can see being here is going to be troublesome after all." Shikamaru raised an eyebrow.
Temari simply smiled back with her toothy smile as none of those things mattered anymore with the lazy ass around.
ONE MORE CHAPTER TO GO!
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