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Now and Then

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Temari is working with such focus that even she might believe she has no interest in the Konoha envoy due to arrive. Still, between pages, she can’t help stealing glances at the drawer where she’s been keeping the earring she found under her bed.

The turn of the doorknob stills her hand halfway through her signature. Even Kankuro and Gaara knock.

Without a look or a word, she reaches for the drawer, says, “I guess you came for—”

"You," Ino interrupts, suddenly right there. “I came here for you.”

Anything else that needs said is said with their kiss.


(last month)

"So, you’re leaving," Temari said, tone so flat as to give away nothing and everything.

"Of course," Ino said, tone flippant. She didn’t look up from packing. "It was a temporary position, after all."

Temari hummed, noncommittal. They both knew that two of the group Ino arrived with had filed papers to extend their stay.

"You’ll keep an eye out for my earring?" Ino asked on her way out the door, looking at Temari for the first time since she’d arrived.

"Of course," Temari said. She couldn’t (wouldn’t) shake the feeling Ino knew it was in Temari’s pocket.


(the week before)

Something was holding Temari down; she tensed, ready to fight before her eyes opened. When they did open, she wasn’t sure whether to feel silly or not.

Of course it was Ino, limbs tangled with Temari’s. Her scent, touch, breathing— all of it was as familiar as the sight of Ino in her bed had become. Something about the morning, though, made the old seem new.

(“Stay,” she barely remembered whispering.)

"Just gonna stare at me," Ino murmured without opening her eyes, "or make me some breakfast?"

As response, Temari snorted and shoved Ino out of bed.


(six months before that)

"Care for a drink?"

In the back of her mind, it occurred to Temari that she should have been put on alert by her door opening. It was with some surprise that she realized her usual caution had been overruled by a sort of… comfortableness. When had that happened?

"Where?" Temari asked, already standing, shuffling her papers into folders. A drink was tempting just about then.

A grin stretched over Ino’s face as she looked Temari deliberately from head to toe and said, “My place.”

With that, she sashayed away. Temari hesitated only briefly before following.


(way back in the beginning)

Temari had hoped someone she knew and trusted would take part in the exchange, but the only person she recognized was the Yamanaka girl, who was paying more attention to the new aide’s biceps than Gaara’s welcoming speech.

The girl— Ino? Ino, Temari thought— met Temari’s eyes with a smile more suited to friends. Temari acknowledged her with a nod and looked away.

She’d play the good host, of course, but everyone was better off the less she dealt with this girl. It was obvious to her already that they wouldn’t get along at all.