Feline Occupation

Sakura swiped a hand through her cropped pink locks and gritted her teeth. Of all the annoying nuke-nin they had to encounter on this mission... this guy had to be the worst, most annoying of them. He was hard to hit, and when a hit did land, it was always a glancing blow, doing little to no damage. Damn.

Even though Team 7 all held the status of jounin, this guy was admittedly a little out of their league, at least for now. To make matters worse, he seemed to have information on their entire team, and they had absolutely no information on him, apart from the fact that he was one of Orochimaru's projects.

"Sakura-chan, what the hell are we gonna do?" Naruto growled, drawing close to Sakura and dropping into a defensive stance.

"I have no idea," Sakura snarled back. "He's good against genjutsu, close combat doesn't seem to work on him, and I can't seem to hit him from long range either. Worse, Sai's constructs don't seem to be able to attack him well enough to do any real damage, and he seems to always evade you," Sakura said, summing up the situation. "And what's troubling me is that I have no idea what his intentions are. He doesn't seem to want to kill us, at the very least, but I don't like being played with like this. I don't know what his game is."

Across from them, the Iwa nuke-nin chuckled, amused at their bewilderment. Sakura scowled at him.

"Stop playing around," Sakura snarled at him, straightening her posture, but not lowering her guard. "What do you want?" The Iwa nin grinned.

"As gorgeous as you are, surprisingly, I actually want nothing to do with you, the ex-ROOT or your little jinchuuriki teammate. I'm interested in the redhead that's been following you, surprisingly, for the past four hours. For jounin you guys are either surprisingly obtuse, or the redhead is surprisingly good at sneaking around," the Iwa nin said over a grin, tossing his long brown ponytail over his shoulder. "Come on out, Kazekage-sama," he added mockingly.

"Gaara?" Naruto exclaimed loudly, a large smile erupting on his face. "Gaara's here?"

Sakura spun around in surprise. Gaara was here? How had she not been able to sense him? How had Sai's rat scout constructs not sensed him? How had they all failed to see the Kazekage while doing their perimeter sweeps? The redhead stepped into the clearing, now in plain sight. Even seeing him, Sakura could not sense his chakra. How had he managed to conceal it so well? The Kazekage gave Naruto a short nod and a tiny smile but didn't really seem to acknowledge either Sai or Sakura.

"I want nothing to do with you," Gaara said, in his trademark low husky voice. "Surprisingly." Sakura swallowed a chuckle. And they said Gaara had no sense of humor! The redheaded Kazekage blinked solemnly at the Iwa nin. Silence reigned over the clearing for a good fifteen seconds before the Iwa nin cleared his throat uncomfortably.

"For a political figure, you are surprisingly quiet. But no matter, my jutsu must be tested, and Orochimaru-sama will be pleased with my surprising results. Now, stand surprisingly still like a nice little ex-jinchuuriki and let me focus!" the Iwa nin crowed, before slapping his palms together and beginning to form a series of rapid hand seals. Gaara interrupted him by sending a stream of sand in his direction. Using the sand to distract the Iwa nin, who was jumping from place to place in an effort to escape the deadly particles, Gaara turned a slow gaze to the Team 7 members.

"Go on ahead. I'll catch up," Gaara said simply, turning his attention back to the Iwa nin, who now seemed to be on the offensive. Even though Gaara's statement had been more of a command than a suggestion, Team 7 stayed put, not willing to leave their friend behind.

"Surprisingly, you won't get away!" snarled the Iwa-nin his face twisted in a sneer as he lunged at Gaara, teeth bared to the fullest. He was one of Orochimaru's lackeys and was quite persistent in trying to capture the Kazekage to 'experiment' with a new jutsu.

"Hn," Gaara grunted in reply, inwardly seething at the gall of this unknown and unnamed lackey. The young Kazekage thrust his palm forwards, sending a surge of sand towards the Iwa-nin but he disappeared in a poof of smoke; it was a kage bunshin. Sensing the presence of the mysterious shinobi, Gaara was about to turn and face him but then his body became rigid and he was unable to move.

'Shit,' the Kazekage thought when he heard the low murmur of various hand seals being spoken aloud and form the corner of his eye he saw the Iwa-nin on one knee with his left hand moving extremely fast in a set of rare one-handed seals. He didn't even recognize the majority of the seals; one handed seals were extremely unusual after all.

"Feline Occupation Jutsu," the Iwa nin said, identifying the jutsu he was using with a slightly deranged flair.

Feeling the binding jutsu begin to wear off, Gaara flexed his now mobilized limbs and opened his mouth to assure Team 7 that he was indeed fine, but nothing came out except for a distinct mewling sound. For a moment no one said anything and, in their distracted state of shock, the Iwa-nin took the chance and slipped away. At first it started as small giggles then Naruto, Sakura and even Sai erupted into full blown laughter; Naruto's raspy cackles, Sakura's feminine squeals and Sai's slow almost hesitant laughter mixing together, permeating the thicket of trees in the forest around them.

"D-did you just m-mewl Gaara?" Naruto stuttered out, clutching his aching sides as he struggled to contain his hysteric laughter. Gaara sent his once fellow jinchuuriki a glare but didn't attempt to speak again. After all, he wasn't sure what was going to come out of his mouth, and he would much rather try his voice out again in private.

"Well, I don't know about you guys, but I am not the least bit inclined to chase after that bastard... surprisingly," Sakura stated, placing her hands on her hips. "What do you think, Kazekage-sama?" Gaara wanted to tell her that he did want to chase down the 'bastard' and have him reverse whatever this jutsu's effect was, but he did not trust his voice right now, so he merely nodded. He felt the strange sensation of having drooping ears...

Gaara concentrated on trying not to answer Naruto's persistent chatter, he was not going to suffer the same embarrassment that he had earlier when trying to speak. Grinning, Naruto squinted happily at Gaara; he hadn't seen him in such a long time (actually just two weeks).

"Gaaaaaraaaa!" Naruto drawled happily, poking one finger at the red haired Kazekage, an expression of delighted surprise dawning on his face when Gaara let out a disgruntled purr. Gaara's eyes widened in shock, and a red tinge of frustration coloured his cheeks... if only slightly.

Naruto rolled on the ground in hysterics while Sakura's eyes widened. What was wrong with the Kazekage? Was he...was he really acting like a...a cat?! A little blush pinked Sakura's cheeks when she found that she actually thought is was really cute.

'What? He's the Kazekage! Why am I thinking such thoughts when this could actually be a serious situation?' the pinkette berated herself mentally. 'This seems to have be the effect of the jutsu that Iwa nin used,' Sakura mused, now regretting her choice in not chasing the Iwa-nin down and demanding an explanation.

Eventually the familiar sands of the Sunagakure outskirts came into view and Gaara mentally sighed in relief; finally he could go home and actually figure out what was wrong with him. And not in the presence of Naruto or Sakura. Especially not Sakura. Naruto's laughter was annoying, but he could bear it for a while... but Sakura... Sakura's little muffled giggles were not at all to his satisfaction. Somehow, the thought that she was laughing at him, even though she was trying really hard to hide it, did not sit well with the Kazekage, and it wasn't even a matter of disrespect to his political position. It was somehow... more.

Another astounding and decidedly unsatisfactory effect of the jutsu used on him... well, he was hoping that it was an effect of the jutsu - was the insane need to rub his sides against Sakura's legs. He'd never experienced such a desire before in his life, and it was extremely disconcerting. As the desire grew stronger, Gaara forced himself to take the lead, storming ahead of Team 7 and trying to put as much distance as he could between himself and Sakura. It didn't help that his muscles were almost trembling with the desire to just turn around and... No. Gaara could not stand these utterly barbaric urges anymore and abruptly began walking faster, desperate to reach the confinement of his rooms.

Gaara stared at himself in the mirror and swallowed convulsively before opening his mouth. To his utter horror and chagrin, instead of the words he'd intended to say, a soft mewl came out. Gaara scowled at his reflection. This was not acceptable at all. He had a reputation to keep up afterall. And how was he supposed to communicate when he needed to when he sounded like a damned house cat? This was nowhere close to acceptable. Growling-er meowing in frustration, Gaara collapsed onto his bed and scowled at the ceiling. He had to attend dinner in a few minutes with the counsel and Naruto, Sai and Sakura. Maybe he could feign sickness? Yeah right...he never got sick, ever, and how would he even communicate his faux dilemma anyway? Certainly not with a damn meow or mewl or whatever. He was screwed.

"We made your favorite, Kazekage-sama," the head chef of the Sabaku household said with a smile. It was no secret among the staff that perfectly cooked gizzard and salted tongue could bring a glimmer of a smile to Gaara's eyes, and that alone meant he was extraordinarily pleased. Sure enough, the glimmer appeared, but when the plate was set before him, it faded.

"Is everything alright, Kazekage-sama?" the head chef asked, concern shadowing her eyes. Was there something wrong with the dish? It looked quite perfect to her! Gaara listlessly nudged at his favorite dish with a chopstick, finding himself uninclined to even taste it. He just didn't have an appetite for gizzard and tongue he wanted cat-what? No! Absolutely not! Gaara shoveled a piece of the food into his mouth, determined to prove to himself that he wanted human food. He looked around at the guests at the table and chewed triumphantly as if proving silently that he still liked human food and that he was not a cat.

Naruto snickered but at least attempted to stop when Sakura swatted him over the head, rolling her eyes in exasperation. The blonde had absolutely no table manners. Or any other type of manners for that matter.

"I see it's still your favourite food," Temari smirked at Gaara her eyebrows raised in amusement. The red haired Kazekage nodded, not trusting himself to speak. Temari was about to question Gaara on his rather more reclusive than usual mannerisms, what with his 'most preferred company' being there. She thought that Gaara would be a little more talkative or relaxed in Naruto's presence. He usually was. Did they have a falling out, or something? Gaara was saved having to try answer his sister's questions by the arrival of an ANBU.

"Pardon the intrusion, Kazekage-sama, but your presence is requested by the counsel for an important meeting."

Forgetting his, uh, condition, Gaara nodded and opened his mouth to speak, but of course nothing but a rather conspicuous mewl came out. Temari and Kankuro tried not to let their jaws fall to the floor in shock because Gaara did indeed just mewl like a cat.

"Did you just.." Kankuro trailed while pointing a finger in Gaara's direction, his ears deaf to Naruto's howls of laughter. Gaara, forgetting his dilemma, strangely enough, responded immediately.

"Meeaaoooowww," he said angrily, his eyes widening when he heard the ungodly sound that came from his mouth. Sakura, seated to his right (he was at the head of the table) turned her face away from him and pressed her knuckles to her mouth. Across from her, Naruto was in throes of laughter, barely restraining himself from slamming his palm on the table. Gaara was most displeased.

"Gaara... I highly doubt that it is a good idea for you to go to a council meeting in this... er... condition," Temari added, trying her very best to be diplomatic and logical. Gaara did not appreciate the connotations of her statement. He was capable, surely.

"I second that," Kankuro agreed. "I think you'd end up looking... well... it wouldn't be good for your image," the puppet master said, folding his arms across his chest. Gaara swung his gaze to Naruto. Would his best friend join in this mass betrayal?

"Don't look at me like that!" Naruto exclaimed, raising his hands. "I only ask that you let me join you if-" His sentence was cut off by both his laughter and Sakura's fist in his side. Gaara glowered at them all... with the exception of Sakura. She seemed to be the only one on his side. He looked to her, pinning his green-eyed gaze on the pinkette.

"I can join you to explain the condition to the council, if you would like, Kazekage-sama. Maybe I could help keep your image intact?" Sakura offered. Gaara almost smiled inwardly at Sakura's generous offer. Yes, she was definitely on his side. He gave her a curt nod, and rose from the table.

He rose from the table without excusing himself, but knew that the others seated around it understood his lack of desire to speak. Sakura rose as well, and the two ninja left the room.

"... so you see, honorable Council, that by saving us, Kazekage-sama ended up caught by the enemy jutsu, which has rendered him unable to speak," Sakura concluded. There was a hum of conversation from the elderly Sunagakure Council members. One of them spoke up.

"Do you have any idea the situation you are in? You and your pathetic team of ninja have put our Kazekage in danger," the man said, an opportunistic gleam in his eyes.

"Oh, shut up, Yamamoto-san," another elderly member snapped. "This girl is the best medic ninja apart from Tsunade-sama, and you know it! In fact, I think this little pink haired ninja may even rival the Godaime Hokage. And the other member, that Uzumaki youngster, is one of the most powerful ninja known to mankind." Sakura was almost about to breathe a sigh of relief when someone else put their two cents in.

"It seems to me, Haruno-san, that you are indebted to our Kazekage for saving your skins," the wizened Council member said. "And, as you are one of the best medic ninja around, it would only be fair for you to seek and administer a cure to our Kazekage's dilemma."

"Hear, hear," another member said, voicing her agreement. Sakura's eyes widened. Surely they didn't mean...

"It would be best if you stay in Suna until you figure out how to reverse the effects of this... this jutsu," the member continued, glaring down at Sakura from his place at the Council table. Yamamoto-san, ever the opportunist, spoke up again.

"Unless, of course, you find yourself unable to do the task and we can work out another situation between the two villages..." he suggested. His tone alone made Sakura's spine itch. Most likely the Suna Council, if left alone with this information for an extended period of time, would come up with some cockeyed political gesture that would do Konoha no good. She would rather take the time away and learn something for the sake of medicine than potentially put her village in a compromising position.

"Fine, I'll do it..." the pinkette agreed, sending a glance in Gaara's direction. His expression gave her no clue whatsoever about his feelings on the matter.

Little did she know, the redheaded Kazekage was battling the most intense desire to have Sakura show him some affection... her petting his head, perhaps, would be most satisfactory.

"Well, let us have a vote on this before we get ahead of ourselves," Yamamoto-san added loudly, still hoping that he could get an edge up on Konoha with this. To his dismay, however, the majority of the Council voted in favor of Sakura staying in Suna.

"We will send word to the Hokage immediately," one of the members said after the meeting was adjourned. Sakura nodded.

"Please ask that some medical equipment and journals be sent over to the Kazekage's residence," Sakura requested. "I think it would be in all our best interests that this matter be kept quiet for the protection of the Kazekage." The Council, Yamamoto-san excluded, seemed to agree, and a team of ANBU were sent to the Suna hospital to fill out Sakura's requests.

"Kazekage-sama, please remove your cloak and shirt so I can conduct this exam," Sakura said as she approached Gaara, who was seated on the desk in his home office. She tried her best not to stare when he obeyed silently, instead focusing all her energy on retaining her professionalism.

Pressing her palm to his chest, Sakura activated her invasive chakra, and proceeded to investigate his chakra center. So far, everything seemed intact. She slid her hand across his chest, and then down to his stomach, almost jumping in shock when he suddenly purred.

Gaara was in feline heaven. The feeling of Sakura's warm chakra covered hands sliding over his torso was absolutely incredible! He'd never felt a sensation such as this before, and he would not mind its avid repetition. He was only vaguely conscious of the sounds he was emitting, but he was powerless to stop them - the feeling of being touched was far too good - and he was loathe to indicate that she should stop this any time soon.

But then it got even better. She moved to his head. At first, Gaara was disappointed at the removal of her hand from his skin, but when it moved to rove over his head, and behind his ears... he couldn't help himself. He pushed his head into her hand, determined to feel more, and quite involuntarily, his eyes slid shut.

A low, satisfied purr simply oozed from his throat, and when she moved to remove her hand, he reached up and held it there. To his surprise, he voiced his thoughts. To both their surprise, it was not a purr.

"Don't stop."

Sakura's green eyes widened in shock. He spoke! Did that mean he was well again? Before the thought was even complete in her mind, Sakura's Inner punched it to death.

"No, he is not 'well again', you idiot!" Inner screamed. "He just asked you not to stop! Obviously, he's still in cat mode and likes being petted... waaiittt... this could actually be a good thing!" Sakura scowled at the perverted tone her Inner had adopted.

She refused to acknowledge the Inner's suggestive tone and focus on the situation at hand. While Gaara's chakra centre was completely intact, there were disturbances in the chakra pathways in his brain, no doubt an effect of the Iwa nin's jutsu .

However, the situation was far from simple. The disturbances seemed complex, and looked the type to set off a series of chain events should she simply unblock them. She would have to consult the medical journals and possibly Tsunade-sama to find a good course of action, for she did not want to make the situation worse.

"SAKURA!' Inner Sakura yelled, trying to get Sakura's attention. 'Look at those cute kitty eyes that he's giving you! PET HIM NOW!" Sakura was just about to mentally berate her Inner when Gaara made a kittenish mewl of dissatisfaction. She fell for it. Hook, line and sinker. She had no hope against such levels of cuteness.

She scratched him behind the ear, trying desperately to stave off a squeal when he closed his eyes in absolute bliss, his fingers slipping from her wrist. He was literally like a love-starved kitten, and Sakura's inner fan-girl succumbed immediately. Uncontrollably.

It got even worse when he opened his eyes, blinking at her solemnly with an expression that said 'Love me now.'

Sakura gave a quick glance around the room to make sure that no one was seeing them, then proceeded to rub and gently scratch his skull.

Heaven could not even describe the place in which Gaara found himself. Sakura was the best mistr- medic ever, and Gaara decided then and there that he would not leave her side unless it was utterly necessary. This... contact was by far the most satisfactory thing he'd ever experienced, and staying close to her increased the probability of its recurrence. He made up his mind. He was not leaving her.

Sakura moved around the lab that had been set up for her, trying not to giggle as the cat-er Kazekage followed her around, nudging his head against her shoulder every time she paused. It had been a couple days now and there still wasn't much improvement. Deciding to 'test out a theory' Sakura placed herself on the couch in the corner and immediately Gaara walked over to where she sat , lay down on the soft furniture and promptly put his head in her lap. He blinked up at her, his sea foam green orbs silently pleading for affection.

Sakura hesitantly stretched out one hand while feeling rather silly and not to mention that a really hot guy who also happened to be the Kazekage was lying on her lap. A little frown creased Gaara's forehead when Sakura did not immediately pet his head. What was she waiting for? He let out a disgruntled mewl but she still didn't obey his wishes. He mewled his displeasure haughtily, before what he really wanted to say actually came out.

"Touch me," he commanded in his best 'Kazekage voice'. Sakura's eyes widened and a surprised squeak escaped her lips but she dared not disobey his orders and ran her hand over his head, trying to keep her face from exploding.

Again with the bliss. Gaara was seriously considering the option of never returning to normal. It seemed to be to his benefit so far; he's been exempt from all Council meetings, and even though he still had to do paperwork, Sakura was with him all the time. He wasn't afraid to be touched anymore - no, he craved it now, and Sakura always gave him what he wanted.

Then she stepped it up a notch, gently raking her nails over his scalp. It was mixed pleasure, but pleasure all the same, and after a few moments of that, a beautiful, mind-numbing haze settled in Gaara's mind. He felt so comfortable, and peaceful and loved... and so very relaxed. It was like he was in the clouds with no one to disrupt his peace. Gaara did not realize that he'd shut his eyes until Sakura removed her hand from his head and his lids snapped open. Immediately his eyes flickered open. He was not going to sleep! He never slept! Sleeping was...it was a foreign notion.

"You should go to sleep now, maybe it'll help the jutsu to wear off," Sakura said softly, biting back a smile as she watched the redhead struggle to fend off the clouds of sleep. Gaara looked at her with an extremely displeased expression and shook his head. He was the Kazekage so he could sleep whenever he wanted to, which was never, so she couldn't order him around. Sitting up Gaara crossed his arms and then a rather delicious idea popped into his head. He reached up and gently grasped her hair then pulled her head into his lap. She struggled to get up and he gave a rather feline growl of protestation.

"Erm... Kazekage-sama...?" Sakura squeaked, looking up at him in confusion. "What exactly..." He cut her off with a self-satisfied meow... until he began getting the cravings again. He didn't like not having her affection, if even for those few moments, so he reluctantly let her up. She sat up slowly, eyeing him warily before clearing her throat awkwardly and standing.

"...Right..." she muttered. "Will you excuse me, Kazekage-sama," Sakura managed politely, struggling to maintain her professionalism. When he looked at her so cutely, it was so hard. She was literally struggling not to just grab him and cuddle him. Unfortunately, she'd spent a lot of chakra examining him today, and if she wanted to have any chance of having it regenerated, she needed to get to bed.

She reached around halfway across the room when Gaara perked up, his gaze sharpening. He let out an inquisitive mewl, which halted Sakura in her tracks.

"I have to go to bed," the exhausted medic replied. "I will see you in the morning, Kazekage-sama." She nodded politely at him, ignoring how the way his seafoam eyes followed her unwaveringly made her want to just run back over and give him one last cuddle. It was so tempting she sent a few longing glances in his direction before steeling herself to just get out of the room.

Her worries did not end there.

Why? Because he followed her.

She'd been halfway down the passage (that all the bedrooms in the Kazekage mansion led into) when she heard the quiet footsteps behind her. Turning sharply, kunai drawn, Sakura's eyes widened when she came face to face with none other than the Kazekage.

"Kazekage-sama?" Sakura gasped. "Did you need something else?" He gave her 'the look' that she'd become familiar with over the past week that she'd been in Suna. 'The look' meant he wanted more contact. 'The look' worked on her every time. Every time. His eyes widened, blatantly begging for the contact he craved and the expression melted Sakura's will without fail. Despite her exhaustion, she gave in again this time... because she couldn't help it.

Reaching out, she put her hand above his head, biting her lip to hold in the squeal of fan-girlish delight when his eyes squeezed shut in anticipation of her touch. He was so CUTE! Her Inner agreed vehemently.

"OHH, don't you just want to grab him and squeeze him and just aaaaahhh! I can't take this anymore! How dare he be so freaking adorable?" her Inner wailed, hearts streaming from her eyes.

The very moment her fingers touched his brick-red hair, Gaara released a kittenish sounding sigh of contentment, pushing his head further into her hand. His actions were so cute that Sakura felt this indescribable feeling well up inside her being. It was like he was so cute, there was this energy pooling inside her body and it was like she didn't know what to do with herself; like she just needed to punch a wall or scream or release it somehow, but... but he was the Kazekage, and such actions would be inappropriate.

To make matters worse for her Inner's girlish fits of delight at his cuteness, Gaara reached up with both hands to hold her wrist in place while he nuzzled her palm. If she could just dissolve into a happy mass of loving pink bubbles from his sheer cuteness, she would! It was too much!

Reluctantly, she pulled her hand away and led him to his room. Hopefully he would stay there this time.

"Good night, Kazekage-sama," Sakura said, loathe to leave the kittenish Kazekage for the night. He gave her a disgruntled nod and went inside his room. Sighing a little and running her hands through her hair, Sakura wearily made her way to her room.

She'd already undressed to her bindings and shorts when she realized she was not alone. What the heck was Gaara doing in her room again? He'd been sneaking in every night since the effects of the jutsu had been activated, but he'd usually come in when she was already in bed. Never when she was undressing! The heat of embarrassment flooded her cheeks then she felt anger rise up in her for the first time in a week. Before she could even open her mouth to yell at him, he gave her 'the look' and effectively diffusing her anger. Seriously? That was so unfair! He was so cute, looking at her with big, green, begging eyes, his hair in red disarray on his head, with his hands at his sides and a pleading, open expression on his face. The hopeful mewl he uttered just compounded his cuteness and Sakura was a goner. Plus the fact that there seemed to be no lecherous intentions behind his presence made it really easy to forgive her.

Sakura sat on the bed and opened her arms.

"Come, Kazekage-sama," she sighed. He didn't even hesitate, walking over to her immediately and getting onto the bed. Within moments, his head was back in her lap... only this time he was laying flat on his back so he could fix adoring eyes on her face while she stroked his head.

'This is an experiment. Yes it is. I am trying to find out how cat-like he is... indeed I am petting the Kazekage's head because I am trying to find the cure," Sakura thought, really trying to convince herself that she was not indulging Gaara's wishes because she thought it was cute but because she was 'experimenting' in order to find the cure to his 'condition'. Glancing at the clock on the wall Sakura realized it was getting late and she needed to finish her night time toiletries.

"Uhm Kazekage-sama you can sleep on the couch. I have to go and get ready for bed," the pinkette said, trying to sound as stern and as 'professional' as possible. Gaara looked up at her and gave a little mewl of dissatisfaction before getting up and walking over to the couch in the corner of her room and settling down on it, his green eyes watching her intently as she moved to the ensuite bathroom.

After finishing her bedtime toiletries, Sakura headed towards her bed and collapsed exhaustedly onto the plush mattress. Using all that chakra during the day while trying to figure out what was wrong with Gaara had nearly emptied her modest reserves resulting in extreme lethargy. Her eyes dropped sleepily and she yawned, stretched and found a comfortable spot on the bed then began to drift off to sleep. She was interrupted by a sound of movement and cracked open her tired eyes to see Gaara crawling onto her bed and, before she could say anything, he rested his head on her stomach and let out a contented mewl. Sighing, Sakura closed her eyes and sank her fingers sleepily into his hair, not bothering to even try and push him away; she was just too tired. Hopefully he'd get the message and remove himself sometime during the night.

He didn't.

The distinctive sound of a door opening jerked Sakura awake and she was greeted by a grinning Temari and a smirking Kankuro.

"So this is where he's been disappearing off to!" Temari exclaimed with an amused chuckle.

"Ooooh, what have we here, what have we heerre?" Kankuro teased with a smirk. "If I had known that acting like a cat could get me to such places I'd have started meowing already," the puppet-master said, raising one hand in a paw-like imitation and meowing. Gaara raised one head lazily, looked at him for probably a second or two before ignoring him completely and placing his head back against Sakura's stomach.

The medic stared groggily at the two amused intruders for a couple seconds before her brain caught up with the situation. A red flush rose to her cheeks.

"Wha-? No! N-nothing happened!" she protested, her green eyes going wide. "He just... he seems to like snuggling... And I did say no... at first... but then he gave me 'the look' and.."

"'The look', huh?" Kankuro said, interrupting Sakura's flustered chatter. "Yeah I hate when he does that. He's too cute to resist, and if you tell anyone you said that I'll poison all of Konoha," he continued, grimacing. Gaara perked up when he realized that they were talking about him as if he wasn't there... as if he was an animal, and he immediately took offense. He glared at Kankuro and hissed at him, red tingeing his cheeks when he realized that he was acting like an animal. Noticing Gaara's embarrassment Temari took pity on him and swatted Kankuro over the head.

"He can't help it Kankuro, now leave him alone!" she scolded but then turned and winked at her youngest brother and the pinkette. "Sorry to interrupt your...erm... whatever this is." Sakura glared at the blonde shinobi and was about to go off into a rant of angry excuses but Temari quickly grabbed Kankuro by the elbow and headed for the door yelling over her shoulder.

"Its time for breakfast by the way!"

Two weeks had passed and Sakura was finally making some headway in Gaara's case. Somewhere along the line, she'd stopped referring to as Kazekage-sama... although it might have been when he'd snarled at her for referring to him as such and, in a moment of rare human speech, he'd declared that she was to call him "Gaara". Sakura had capitulated to his demands embarrassingly easily.

He was staring at her while she scanned the chakra pathways in his head, and even though Sakura supposed that she should have gotten used to it by now, his steady, unrelenting gaze still disconcerted her.

Forgetting for a moment that he was still the Kazekage, Sakura playfully tapped his nose with her fingertip. She barely held back a giggle when he scrunched up his nose and snuffled cutely before giving her a rather indignant scowl and meowing his displeasure. It was too adorable for words. One glowing hand on his head, Sakura petted the red-headed male in front her, and, as per her expectations, the anomalies in his chakra pathways receded ever so slightly. After several weeks of continuous affectionate attention, the anomalies were almost completely gone, and Sakura came to the conclusion that with about three days to a week of constant affectionate contact, they would recede altogether.

For some reason, this saddened her. She supposed it was because 'Neko Gaara', as Kankuro had taken to calling him behind his back, was so cute that she'd grown a bit attached to him, and it was so much fun to play with him. To be perfectly frank, he was like a pet. A really cute, sexy pet, but a pet nonetheless. Sakura could safely say that she was on the very border of what could be defined as a platonic relationship with the Kazekage, and it would only take the slightest push for her joyful leap into something more... meaning she probably would not resist at all if he gave the hint that he wouldn't mind.

"Well it looks like you will be back to your normal self in about a week," Sakura said while trying to sound cheerful about the entire matter... it wasn't working. "Since it will wear off so soon I will be heading back to Konoha this afternoon. I will inform Kankuro and Temari of the necessary procedure to be continued throughout the rest of the week." Gaara's eyes widened in something akin to horror and then he looked sadly at Sakura, hoping that if he gave her that 'look' she'd succumb and stay. Noticing 'the look' in his eyes and knowing that she wouldn't be able to resist its effect on her, Sakura turned her head and looked away, trying to hide the flood of emotions that had rushed to the surface. The red haired shinobi gave a sad little mewl designed to reclaim her attention. The sheer yearning in his tone had Sakura's head turning back to face him, but she forced herself to stop before she met his gaze.

She wouldn't be able to say no if she did.

Reaching out Gaara awkwardly took her hand in his and the familiar sound of his husky voice filled the air.

"Sakura. Don't go."

And FIN!

Before you guys even protest … before you type even one request for another chapter... Let us inform you that this is, and will always be a one-shot. However...there is a sequel on the way! That said, please leave a review to let us know what you thought! This was both our first attempts at a GaaSaku, and even though Gaara was horribly OOC, we are blaming it on the jutsu! Hehe!