Word Count: 413
Disclaimer: I own neither Naruto nor the characters therein.
A.N: There is dark-ish, unhappy sorts of stuff here.
Sand and Blood and Shadow
“The children are with Gaara,” he says. He coughs; there’s a long, burning pain down his spine that seems to stab through his lungs when he breathes. “He’ll take care of them.”
“Yes,” she says. She licks her lips and tastes blood. “I never thought I’d see the day.”
They’re lying on their backs, both of them. The sun’s out; there are no clouds. Shikamaru wishes there were. He would have liked to die staring at the clouds.
He coughs again; his ribs ache and his lungs burn and he hacks, feeling the blood splatter across his stomach. It’s not a very dignified way to die. He would have liked to die sitting in front of the shogi board in his mid-eighties. His children would have found him when they came out to call him in for supper. The sky would be sunny and the clouds would be numerous and Shikamaru would be dead.
“I’ll miss you,” Temari says hesitantly. Her voice is low, and raspy, so quiet Shikamaru can barely hear her. He’s not sure if it’s because she’s dying or because, even after six years of marriage, she’s still hesitant to tell him she loves him.
Probably a bit of both.
There are birds in the sky above. Vultures, maybe. Shikamaru hopes his team will find their bodies before too long. The desert isn’t kind in that respect.
He hears a rustle and the distinctive clank of the edge of her fan hitting the ground. Temari’s reaching out to him, he’s sure. They’re too far away to touch without moving, and neither has the strength to move.
Shikamaru reaches out his hand to her anyway. It hurts.
“I wish you didn’t have to die,” he says, and the words drain him of breath. Temari makes a slight, liquid chuckle. She’s drowning in her own blood; she won’t last out two more minutes.
The sun is hot and bright and blinding, and Shikamaru waits and watches and, when he’s just about to close his eyes, he sees a cloud come up beside it.
Lots of clouds, he sees, all making shadows over the sun, shadow over shadow over shadow, and it covers the sun and the sand and Temari, and Temari’s throat makes a rattling sound and Shikamaru’s heart hurts, and the shadows creep closer and closer and closer until Shikamaru can’t tell where the shadows start and he ends.
It’s not a bad way to die.