Shikamaru looked around the burning hut. Nothing would survive this fire, as intense as it was.
"Maria!" he roared. He made his way over to the corner where Bess had been the previous day. The table had fallen down and had was burning quickly, along with the books the girl had put on the table. He kicked the tabletop out of the way and saw a hand, badly burnt. Ignoring the pain in his own body, he grabbed the hand and pulled. It was Maria's body, which was burning. He grabbed her under the arms and pulled her out of the house and away from the fire.
Yarraman was waiting outside and was jumping around nervously. When he saw Shikamaru pulling Maria out of the house he ran over and tugged on his shirt again. He led the way around the back of the hut where there was a stream. Yarraman jumped in and out of it, splashing water everywhere. Shikamaru carefully lowered Maria's body into the stream. The flames on her body went out with a sizzling sound.
And time seemed to stand still until Maria drew a ragged breath, and Shikamaru let out a sigh of relief. He pulled Maria out of the water and onto Yarraman's back, who had lain down for him. He got on behind her and covered her body with his. Yarraman stood up and ran towards the village. The wind seemed to make him faster and he didn't slow down for one second.
Then ninja from the village appeared in front of them and Yarraman reared up, screaming. Shikamaru yelled to the horse and he calmed down a little.
"Shikamaru!" Iruka called to him. "What do you think you're doing here?"
Shikamaru just lifted his body up to show them Maria's burned figure. "We need to get her to the hospital," he said. "Now!"
"Yes," Iruka nodded. "You take her, we'll go and sort this out!" Shikamaru nodded. "Go!" Iruka gave those orders and ran off with the other Shinobi. Yarraman took off again and ran through the forest. By the time they had reached the cliff, Yarraman was panting and sweating. but nevertheless, he ran to one side and climbed his way up a steep hill. Once he got to the top, her reverted to his top speed and ran on. Shikamaru was flat on his back, his arms around the stallion's neck and covering Maria. They ran into the village and heads turned as they barreled past towards the hospital.
Before they knew it, Yarraman had screeched to a halt outside the village hospital and had reared up with a mighty neigh. Doctors and nurses were rushing out, asking why there was a wild horse in the village.
Shikamaru slid off the stallion's back and pulled Maria off after him. He looked at the horse, who was breathing heavily and foaming instead of just sweating.
"Thank you," he said to him. He turned to the nurses. "She needs urgent treatment." he told them, letting them take Maria inside. His vision began to go blurry. He heard a loud thump and saw that Yarraman had collapsed for exhaustion. Shikamaru's knees gave way and blackness came rushing to meet him.
Shikamaru's eyes fluttered open to the white ceiling of the hospital. He heard the scratching of a pen nearby and turned his head to look. He winced in pain and inhaled sharply. A lady in a white coat with long brown hair and brown eyes turned at the noise.
"Good, you're awake." she said, walking over to him. She picked up up a clipboard and got straight to it. "Your burns are serious, but they're healing fine. Just don't try to move too much." She put the clipboard back down and looked at him. "You're a lucky one." It was then Shikamaru notices the bandages on his arms and face. "Yep. You shouldn't have gone into that hut. You could've been killed." Then she smiled. "Then again, we're all very glad you did go in, otherwise Maria would be dead, too."
"How is she?" Shikamaru asked.
"Still unconscious, but she'll be alright. She was even luckier."
The lady was confused. "Who's Yarraman?"
"Oh! He's alright too. He's being fed and washed. He worked himself till he collapsed. You were lucky he was around."
Shikamaru managed a small smile. "He wouldn't leave Maria willingly. They're good like that."
The lady smiled again. "I see." She walked over to the door. "You have some people who want to see you. She opened the wing door and Shikamaru's mother and father, Shikaku and Yoshino rushed in, along with Choji. They all surrounded his bed and the lady walked out.
Choji talked first. "How are you?"
"No clue." Shikamaru replied.
Yoshino butted in. "You're a fool, Shikamaru. You shouldn't have gone!" she accused. "You could have died!"
"Yoshino, calm down." Shikaku told her. "He saved that girl. That deserves a 'well done'." He looked at his son. "Well done, son." Shikamaru smiled.
A few days later, Shikamaru was walking up and down in his hospital ward. He was wincing every now and again, but otherwise he was fine. At least, he thought so.
"Good," The lady said. "I'd say you can go. But don't over-exert yourself until you're fully recovered." Then she had a thought. "Oh, and a foal has joined Yarraman in the stables. A little bay filly, do you know her?"
Shikamaru nodded. "Bess."
"Good! Now, I assume you'd like to see Maria?" She smiled at Shikamaru's urgent nod. "Okay then. Come this way." She led the way out of the ward, down a hall, left, down a hall and right into another room. She opened the door and held it open for him. There was a single bed and a girl with silver hair, this time loose and hanging around her shoulders, was sitting up the bed. She looked up and her eyes lit up as Shikamaru entered the room.
"Hey, Shikamaru," Maria said brightly from the bed. "I was hoping you'd come soon. What took you so long?"
"Calm down, these burns take a while to heal, you know." Shikamaru smiled back at her. "It'll be a drag, but I'll be up soon."
"That's good." Maria sighed and looked at her hands, which were bandaged tightly. "I can't exactly say the same about me, though." Shikamaru sat down in a chair beside her bed and gave her a reassuring little smile. She flushed a little and smiled again. Shikamaru flushed himself and looked away.
"I'm sure you'll be up soon." He assured her, scratching the back of his neck.
"Thanks, but the doctor says it'll be at least another week before I can leave." She reached over and took his hand. "Thank you for getting me out of there. I don't think I'll ever be able to thank you enough for this." She winced at the movement, but she ignored her own pain. "Really."
Shikamaru looked at the girl. "It's okay. It's what comrades do, right?" What happened next surprised him. Maria leaned in even further and kissed his cheek softly.
"Comrades, huh?" She murmured. "You're going to wish you hadn't said that one day."
Shikamaru was silent. He scratched his neck again. What a drag.