"A distorted image that appears normal when viewed under certain conditions."
Gaara awoke to the sound of chirping birds.
Even now, after all of his visits to Konoha, the sound was peculiar. The desert was full of vast stretches of nothing but sand, so the trees, cacti and other vegetation birds liked to roost in were a rare sight. At least, when compared to the forests that surrounded Konoha, never mind that there were plenty of trees inside the village itself. Life was so much more abundant here, it seemed.
He could tell he'd slept longer than usual if even the birds had woken up before him. It was rare for Gaara to get more than a few hours of sleep, but it was more than he'd ever got as a Jinchūriki. Rarer still was a good night's rest in a village other than his own.
He forced his tired eyes open. From a single window, the orange light of early morning illuminated a room Gaara found unfamiliar.
This wasn't the room he fell asleep in.
Not to mention the disconcertingly warm weight besides him.
Gaara froze for a few seconds, eyes now wide open. Feeling no movement besides him, he quickly sat up and turned to see what the disturbance was.
Gaara watched his chest rise and fall in a steady rhythm. His head was buried into his pillow and his body was haphazardly strewn around the bed, yet he seemed undisturbed by Gaara's sudden movements.
The Kazekage untensed, letting the sand that had automatically accumulated in the air around him out of defense fall to the floor. There was a sense of relief in having woken up besides a friend instead of an enemy or stranger. Gaara ruled out a kidnapping attempt, but there were still so many other possibilities swirling in his head. Of course, Lee was someone he trusted and as such there was likely a reasonable explanation for this situation.
Reasonable was probably not the right word to use when it came to situations involving Lee though.
Gaara tried hard to remember anything he could from last night besides falling asleep in the hotel he and his siblings were staying in, but had no luck. He was currently in Konoha for diplomatic reasons and had finished a round of meetings the day before, with more scheduled for this afternoon. He had no time for something like this.
Waking up next to a friend after a night he couldn't remember didn't seem like something Gaara would do without external influence and his friends were apt for mischief. Especially Naruto, despite his age. In fact, age had probably made that worse, what with adulthood opening up certain avenues of influence and all. Lee, on the other hand, just had the unfortunate habit of being unable to say no to spending time with friends and was always eager to come along for the ride. Gaara doubted this had much to do with him really. He could think of a few situations that would result in a lack of memories like this and for all of them it was wise to keep an eye on the affected party. Lee had probably just been looking out for him.
Something else nagged at the back of his mind, however. The last time he'd had this good of a sleep, there had been consequences.
Logically he knew he no longer needed to worry about Shukaku and, on his own, he'd never been a sleepwalker. But still, it was hard to forget fifteen years of anxiety over falling to sleep. It didn't stop him from worrying if something had happened to both the hotel or his siblings. Gaara knew it was unlikely. Even more so that he'd manage to sleep through it, being the light sleeper he was.
He stopped trying to speculate. If anyone had the answer, it would be Lee.
So, with a bit of hesitation, the Kazekage gave the sleeping man a nudge.
Lee must not have been a light sleeper like Gaara because he proved harder to wake than the red head expected. The nudge turned into a shake, but Lee remained unstirred. Gaara had to contemplate what to do next; he didn't want to hurt Lee after all and he'd never had to wake someone up before.
"Lee…" He rasped, shaking the leaf ninja's shoulder once more. No response.
"Lee!" Gaara tried again, louder this time.
The sleeping man groaned. That had apparently worked.
Lee's black eyes peeked out from behind heavy lids and his brow furrowed in annoyance at the sudden awakening. When those eyes finally focused on Gaara however, a sleepy grin appeared.
"Hey…" He gave a mumble, barely awake.
Gaara gave him one look and got straight to business.
"You're going to tell me why I'm in your bed," He demanded, as serious as always despite the strange nature of the situation. It only earned him a laugh.
"That's such a silly question…" Lee replied, face still half sunk into his pillow. With a big yawn, he adjusted his position into something more comfortable.
Lee wasn't making sense; at least from Gaara's perspective. Slouching out of frustration, he realized he'd have to explain the situation.
"I don't remember falling to sleep here," He admitted softly, his discomfort obvious.
Big eyebrows met in the middle to form a V and Lee stared back at him in silence for a moment.
Gaara considered repeating the statement before Lee continued.
"Are you feeling okay sweetheart? This is not some kind of joke, right?" The leaf ninja seemed concerned and sat up in an instant.
With an arm extended towards the red head, Lee reached for his face. Gaara simply turned his head to avoid the contact. Lee let his hand drop back to his lap, but a worried frown stained his features.
"What are you trying to do?" Gaara asked, deadpan.
Lee took a second.
"I… I wanted to check if you had a fever," He answered, tilting his head to meet the sand ninja's gaze, "You are acting strange, maybe you are sick?"
Gaara furrowed his brow. "Sweetheart…?" He inquired skeptically.
It was an odd thing to call a friend, but then Gaara remembered that Lee himself was odd and that he was no stranger to his overly affectionate shows of friendship. Gaara had gotten quite the shock the first time the leaf ninja had hugged him and, to be truthful, anytime since.
Lee seemed to ignore the red head, continuing his questioning, "Uh, please tell me you have not woken up with amnesia..."
It was weird to consider, but the Kazekage supposed forgetting an entire night could be considered amnesia.
"Perhaps," He replied as he kept staring at Lee suspiciously, before he returned to his own line of questioning, "Lee, what did you mean by sweetheart?"
"Oh my. Okay… u-uh…" The leaf ninja stammered and Gaara held his gaze, "You have forgotten? That much? R-really?"
"That's what I said, yes," He answered, getting a little annoyed at Lee's continued refusal to answer things.
"Wow…" Lee mumbled. It didn't take long before that usual enthusiasm returned, however, "Well then, I guess I will just have to win you over again!"
"We're already close friends Lee, I'm not sure-"
He stopped when he felt Lee's hand touch his cheek.
Gaara noticed the faint blush dusting Lee's face as the leaf ninja stared intensely at him. He could feel every movement as the man's thumb kneaded little circles along his jawline.
"I think I can help you remember…" Lee began, taking the opportunity to invade Gaara's personal space further, "Close your eyes and trust me."
They were close enough for their noses to touch. Gaara only looked more skeptical, however.
"Are you trying to kiss me?" He asked flatly.
While Lee seemed stunned into silence, the red head's gaze narrowed. He didn't buy it.
"That's not how things work," Gaara stated, giving Lee a puzzled look.
Lee couldn't be foolish enough to actually think kissing would return his memories, could he? There had to be another reason for the suggestion, but Gaara couldn't think of one. Well, besides the obvious connotations of a kiss, but that wasn't happening right now, was it? Lee didn't feel that way about him, right?
Maybe it had something to do with last night.
"We can try…" Lee whispered, leaning in ever closer.
Gaara leant away.
Lee really was trying to kiss him. Gaara was speechless, he could only gulp.
"...Or maybe that is not such a good idea," Lee winced and it seemed like he'd realized that yes, trying to kiss the confused Kazekage in your bed wasn't a smart thing to do. He'd moved away again now, as had the red head, whose arms now sat crossed over his chest.
"I thought the things in Temari's romance novels weren't meant to be realistic…" Gaara mumbled. He'd borrowed them solely for research purposes, of course, but his sister had been sure to warn him about not taking them too seriously. Despite that, this was beginning to look like something straight out of one.
Of course, Lee had heard him. He laughed. "What kind of romance books does your sister read?"
Gaara didn't want to acknowledge him.
"I would have thought they do not make the sort of stuff she is interested in," The leaf ninja seemed to find the idea amusing, but probably more so as a distraction from what had just happened, "Ah, but you would not be reading something like that. Perhaps I of all people should not be making assumptions about Temari-san…"
"Lee, be quiet…" Gaara sighed. He didn't care to hear the leaf ninja try to joke around right now.
Lee looked at him, but kept is mouth shut.
They sat in silence before Gaara eventually spoke up.
"You like me…" He mumbled, after a few moments of careful thought.
An attempted kiss was like a brick in the face. It was something even Gaara, as inexperienced as he was, could recognize as clearly unplatonic. That didn't mean it made any sense, however.
Lee laughed again, this time more nervously. "Yep!"
"You shouldn't," Gaara stated matter-of-factly, turning towards Lee with his arms still crossed. It was then that he decided to get up.
He frowned, realizing how cruel it sounded, but that didn't mean he was wrong. There were a myriad of reasons why Lee shouldn't be his friend, let alone feel this way about him. Of course, it was easy to say that without knowing any of Lee's reasons; all Gaara had was a list of negatives.
Gaara might not have understood the finer details of romantic love, but since Naruto had married and his sister had started dating Shikamaru, he'd tried to learn a little about it for their sakes. He knew that what came from love was weighty and meaningful and not something one should decide on after a single night. Gaara couldn't begin to understand why Lee wanted that from him.
He spotted a familiar bag propped up against the bed and quickly grabbed it. "I'm leaving," He said, adjusting it on his shoulders awkwardly.
"If you have amnesia, then it is dangerous for you to wander off on your own," Lee suggested, and though he sounded concerned Gaara paid him no mind.
He could remember where the hotel was; he didn't need Lee's help. Besides, he'd prefer to be alone right now.
Gaara didn't look back as he walked out the door.
Note: Thank you for reading! This is some trashy silly fun because I wanted to write something that wasn't serious.