"I know you never wanted to see me again, but I didn't know what else to do." Gaara told her. "I don't even know why I adopted him."
"I can hardly believe they let you leave with him." Sakura said.
Benji had fallen asleep on her bed, but the two of them were still awake, drinking tea in her kitchen. Sakura gulped down the last of her cup and set it on the table with a clink.
"Don't worry;" she told him, and patted his shoulder, "You can stay here. I didn't never want to see you again."
"Then why did you tell me you never wanted to see me again?" he asked. He remembered the night they had parted ways, even if she had forgotten.
"Because I was angry." She said, pouring herself another cup, "Because you were being a jerk. Because I felt like a piece of shit."
"That's funny, you never looked like one."
"Haha." Sakura said sarcastically.
Gaara watched her expression change from irritation to regret to exhaustion. She put her head on the table and folded her hands on top of her head.
"Sorry." He said.
She waved the apology away, "I told you, its fine. I just… wow. Ok. This is a lot right now. And… and…"
She never finished her thought. Gaara sat waiting for a while before he realized she was asleep. He rolled his eyes and carried her to her bed, laying her down beside Benji. When he turned to leave she reached out and grabbed his sleeve.
"I'm sorry." She murmured, "It wasn't supposed to happen like this."
Sometimes when he kissed her it felt like being struck by lighting. As though a current was running through her, making every nerve in her body sing. Sometimes when he kissed her she felt she wasn't even there. She felt like a spectator, watching from outside of her body, two other people there kissing because there was no way that could be her. There was no way she could ever share a moment like that with someone. And sometimes it was just a kiss.
It was never anything more than a kiss really. She knew that he wanted more, she could feel it when he held her, when he whispered into her ear. Sometimes she wanted more too; her body wanted more than this. But when she thought of that she felt a ball forming in her stomach. A feeling of dread, something like nausea.
Sakura woke with a start. There were arms wrapped around her waist and they were not Ino's. She glanced down at the small boy hugging her torso and sighed. This was not good; this was bad. She had a headache suddenly.
If only she could go back to sleep, back to that dream she couldn't remember anymore, she thought. If only she was like Gaara and she could meditate for months without feeling anything. If only she was as unfeeling as him all the time.
She could really go for some of that unfeelingness right now actually. The little boy who was at that moment snoring happily in her bed beside her, wrapped around her waist, was also the boy who had been in her nightmares for the past months, ever since she had been involved in the death of his father. And Gaara was the reason he was here.
Speaking of Gaara… he was probably just sitting in the living room now, laughing to himself, thinking about what a sucker she was. Or he was gone already. Thinking that, Sakura was so angry she jumped out of bed, carefully of course, so as not to wake the boy - Benji was it?- and stomped into the living room, ready to show Gaara a whole world of hurt for bringing this in to her life.
He wasn't in the living room when Sakura got there. She stood there for a long while. She hadn't actually thought he would leave her there all alone with the boy. That was low of him. Lower than low. It was... It was...
Her lower lip started trembling, but she clamped her hand over her mouth. She hadn't cried for the past fouryears; she wasn't about to start crying now, over something like this. Gaara was not going to get her this time.
'Then why are you on the floor?'
"It's comfortable." Sakura argued, trying to rationalize her actions to herself. "It's just because my head hurts, and I feel kind of dizzy, and it's easier on the floor." As if to prove her point she curled over and put her forehead on the floor.
'You're such a liar. Even to yourself.'
"Shut up." Sakura gulped air loudly to keep from crying. If she started now she would have to go on and on, to make up for lost years. She couldn't start now. She would not.
She lifted her head from the floor to watch feet come in to her home. 'Those aren't Ino's feet…' She lifted her head even further, up to kneecaps, then the waist, stopping at the chest. She didn't want to look at the face, not yet.
"What are you doing?" he asked.
And it was strange; those four words made her feel like crying even more than anything she hadthought before.
"I thought you were gone forever." She said, disgusted with how pathetic her voice sounded. She wiped non existent snot from her upper lip and looked up at Gaara, "Where were you?"
Gaara dropped a bag on the floor. "I went to get some stuff from my 'office'."
"Oh." Sakura felt so lame at that moment. She wished she could sort of just… melt into a puddle on the floor and seep through the cracks between the floorboards. And she wished Gaara would stop looking at her like that. She stood up and brushed her knees off in what she hoped seemed a blazé manner. "Ok then. I guess I'll make breakfast now."
Gaara looked over his shoulder back out the window. "Even you usually wait until the sun is ready to rise before eating breakfast."
Sakura followed his gaze and realized it was the middle of the night. She couldn't have been asleep more than a few hours then. No wonder she was so moody.
She glared at Gaara. "Fine. I guess I'll just go back to bed. Don't break anything."
She got back into bed slowly, but she needn't have worried about waking Benji up. He slept like a rock.
Benji was following him. He followed him everywhere. Gaara was getting kind of sick of the boy already, so he went to visit Sakura at her shop. Benji seemed to enjoy bothering her even more than bothering Gaara.
He was even more excited by her shop when they got there anyway. Benji ran around looking at jewelry on display as Gaara walked past Sakura into her office and closed the door behind him. It didn't do much to shut out Sakura's laughter.
Gaara breathed deeply and smiled at the peace and quiet he found in the office. Sakura's office was neat- like all her space- and small. It wasn't much like his own place of work had been. It was nice.
He frowned when he realized he could still hear Benji talking through the door. If he had known how much he was going to talk he would never have adopted him in the first place. Adopting him had been a very bad idea; possibly the worst idea of his life. Sakura laughed again, and he relaxed. No need to think about that, no need to worry; Sakura would take care of things.
Sakura walked in and grabbed and few tools, patted him on the shoulder and walked out again. Just a simple gesture, but he could feel the shadow of her touch on his shoulder long after she was gone. Why was she so comforting? No one had ever had this effect on him before.
'Aw, is the wittle fool in love?'
Gaara snorted. Stupid demon, 'I highly doubt it.'
'You're going soft on me. I mean, come on, let's go kill something!'
'Now that you mention it…' it had been a long time since he had last killed anything. He stood and left through the window. Let Sakura deal with the boy.
"Oh my god Sakura, you're a mommy!" Ino squealed and pounced over the counter at Benji. He squealed and tried to get away but he couldn't escape her loving clutches. "You are so adorable!" she told him, then put him down, "But seriously Sakura, who's the kid?"
Sakura didn't look up from her book as she said, "He's Gaara's."
Benji laughed as Ino's mouth dropped open much wider than he had ever thought possible.
"What the hell?" Ino asked.
"Hey, watch your language!" Sakura scolded her.
Ino looked sheepishly at Benji, "Sorry. Never use that sentence, it's bad. At leastuntil you're older." Then she winked at him. That's when he decided he liked her. She turned back to Sakura then, but grabbed Benji and held him on her lap, "Come on Sakura. It's story time!"
Sakura looked up at them then, for a moment looking as though she was about to launch into some big explanation, but instead she just shrugged. "Ask Benji, he was there."
Ino set Benji in front of her and put her hands on her fists, "Ok, tell me your story."
"Hey guys, would you go into the office please? I'm still open for customers." Sakura asked them and oblinginly they followed her orders.
Sakura breathed deeply once they were in the office. Gaara had left about an hour ago, so they were safe from him, and she was safe from them. She wasn't really looking forward to the end of Benji's story, when they would both inevitably come out and want to talk to her about it, especially Ino. What would she tell Ino? How could she explain the situation with Gaara?
"Oh right..." she said to the empty shop, remembering the Kazekage's visit a few days ago. She should probably have told Gaara about that. Oh well, she could tell him later. 'Because he's staying.' she smiled a little, but then she realized... "Oh god, we're going to be like... a family." she shuddered at the thought.
A woman walked in the door then and Sakura smiled at her like the good business woman she had become. The woman didn't take long to decide on an anklet and then she left. Ino and Benji were still in the office. Sakura stood with her arms crossed and watched the door fearfully. Any moment now...
Ino burst out of the room and hug-tackled Sakura. "I'm so happy for you! You're going to be a real family now!" she squealed into Sakura's ear, temporarily deafening her.
Sakura glared at Benji over Ino's shoulder, "What did you tell her?"
Benji shrugged, "Only that Mr Gaara adopted me, and now we're going to live with you."
"Woah there," Sakura said, "That hasn't been decided yet...And did you just call him, 'Mr Gaara'?" She snorted, trying to suppress her laughter.
Ino frowned at her, "And what's so funny about that?"
"Well, everything!" Sakura gasped, turning to Benji, who was pouting, "I don't mean to be rude you know. But I'm sure you can call him Gaara. Just Gaara."
"But do you know what he did for me?" Benji asked, dismayed at the thought that his hero could be 'just Gaara'.
"I've heard stories," Sakura said, rolling her eyes. 'And knowing how he feels about being a hero he probably did much more for the boy than he wants me to know.'
"Well, I don't care what you say," Benji declared, "To me he will always be Mr Gaara!"
'Mr' Gaara sat on the roof and glowered at the moon. Finally everyone was asleep and he could have some peace and quiet and for some reason he didn't really want it. He frowned as Ino's snoring rose up out through the window to meet his ears. She hadn't left after dinner; instead she had gone to bed with Sakura and she slept on one side of Sakura with her arms wrapped around her waist while Benji slept on the other side. If Sakura was going to have so many guests sleeping over all the time she should really think about getting another bed.
Gaara looked up as Benji joined him on the roof.
"Couldn't sleep?" Benji asked, with a look of concern on his face. Gaara snorted and looked at the moon again.
"Yeah, that's it."
Benji crossed his arms behind his head and lay back, "Me neither." He sighed deeply and wiggled his toes at the night sky.
Gaara looked across the village to a lighted room where a man and a woman sat, enjoying a late night chat. They had been just sitting there for hours now. Gaara wondered briefly what they talked about, what was so fascinating they could talk about it for hours and hours without going to bed.
"I like it here." Benji told him. "I hope Mrs Sakura will let us stay."
"Miss Sakura," Gaara corrected him, lazily flicking away a fly attempting to land on his shoulder. "I hope so too." he whispered to himself.
"What are you doing?"
"I'm counting out the money I need to pay my landlady this month."
Ino growled at her, "You know that' s not what I mean. And speaking of her, won't she throw a fit?"
Sakura paused her counting for a second to consider her landlady. Miss Misumo was a stickler for propriety. What would she think of Gaara and Benji living with Sakura, a single woman?
"Eh." Sakura shrugged. She didn't really care that much what the old bitty thought.
"Oh my god Sakura, you just said the word bitty in your thoughts." Ino gasped and giggled a little. "And you doknow what I'm talking about!"
Sakura wiggled her nose. "Yes, I know what you mean. And I know what I'm doing."
"Sakura... Do you love him?"
Sakura lost count of her money. She looked down at the money in her hands, but it felt like her hands were somewhere else, floating in the air somewhere, or maybe in space...
"Damnit Ino, now I've lost count! Would you stop talking for one minute?"
Ino slammed her hand on the table, "I will not!" she said indignantly. "If I wait they could be back before I get what I want out of you!"
Sakura rolled her eyes, "Well what do you want?"
"I want you to answer my question."
"Well I can't, ok?" Sakura folded her hands on the table and watched them intently. "I don't know."
Ino sat down closer to Sakura and put her arm around her shoulder. "Well that's something."
"Yeah, I guess."
Ino squeezed her shoulder, "I think you should keep them. That Benji boy is so adorable!"
"What do you want Benji?"
Benji squinted up at Gaara, wondering why he was standing in front of the sun. Didn't he know how it hurt his eyes to look at him? "I want to stay with Mrs Sakura."
Benji frowned, "But if they're married, don't you call them Mrs?"
Gaara nodded, "But she's not married."
Benji's eyes widened, despite the glare of the sun, "You mean you're not...?"
Gaara glared at Benji. "Not?" Then he realized what Benji was thinking and laughed. "Of course we're not married!"
"Then why do you live with her?" Benji asked triumphantly, as though this proved that thye must therefore be married.
"I don't live with her. We are staying with her for a while until we decide what to do. So what do you want Benji?"
"I want to stay with Miss Sakura."
Gaara frowned, suddenly angry with the boy for being so stubborn and stupid. "Well maybe Miss Sakura doesn't want us to stay with her! What will you do then?" Without realizeing it he picked the boy up to his eye level. "She doesn't neccesarily want to keep a whiny brat like you, and a creep like me! Most people wouldn't even let us stay with them for this long! So what will you do?"
Benji burst into tears, "You're lying! Miss Sakura will keep us! She'll let me stay with her!"
Gaara blinked. What was he doing, threatening a little boy? Quickly he put the boy down and knelt beside him. He tried to smile a little, hoping it didn't look as insane as his smiles always ended up looking. "You know, you're right. She will let you stay with her. Would you want that?"
Benji nodded, wiping his cheeks with the back of his hand.
"Even if I can't stay with you?"
"What are you talking about?" Benji asked, "She's going to let you stay too."
"I'm not so sure about that..."
"Well I am!" Benji said, puffing out his chest with his confidence. He put his arm around Gaara and turned him back towards Sakura's apartment. "You just wait and see. She'll take us both!"
"Let's get married."
Sakura jumped, "What?" She barely caught herself before she fell off the roof.
Gaara didn't look at her, "You heard me."
"Yeah, but… why?" 'Yeah exactly, what the hell?'
"Isn't that what people do?" he smiled just the tiniest bit, "You're the first person I actually get along with."
"Well yes...but Gaara, usually, people get married because they're in love. Or for money. There's part of the equation missing see?" Sure, they shared a child, sort of, but, seriously, what had he been smoking to come up with an idea like that? Even if Ino seemed to think there was something between them, marriage was an idea way out there.
Gaara shrugged, "Okay then."
Sakura blinked at him stupidly. 'That's it?' Nervously she turned back to the sky, "You've got to stop doing this to me. My nerves are bad enough as it is."
"Oh, hey Gaara," she said casually, "The Kazekage came to see me a while ago. He wants you for a mission."
"Well I'm done with that." Gaara said, turning away. "At least for now."
Sakura leaned back on her roof and crossed her arms behind her head. Tonight she felt closer to the sky than she had ever felt before. She felt as though she could reach out and gather the stars to her chest and cradle them there. Maybe she could hold them inside her chest. She looked over at Gaara. He was still sitting there cross legged, staring at the sky. She wondered what he could be thinking.
'I'll take you.' She imagined herself saying. He would maybe ask her what she meant and she would tell him about the old woman, and how she had been wrong. How she had decided that she didn't need a man to love her, not the way the old woman thought. Not the way Ino and Mark had loved each other. She would tell him that she would take him and Benji for as long as they wanted. She would take care of them. It wasn't what the woman had meant, but she would laugh at the old woman because what did she care for the ramblings of an old woman? And Gaara wouldn't say anything, he would just be there and he would accept that, the way he accepted everything. That calm way he had about him, once you got past his insanity. She wanted him to stay with her, she would say, she wanted to be with him because with him she felt calm. With him she felt safe.
Sakura was a little surprised at that last thought, especially when she realized it was true. She had never thought she would feel safe with anyone anymore, and yet here he was, a murderer and a sociopath and he made her feel safe.
She sat up and scooted over until she was sitting right beside Gaara and leaned on his shoulder. And he said nothing. He just accepted her presence. And that was what she loved most about him.
"I'll take you."
The End. (get it? going out with a bang...)
Anyhow. Thank you everyone who has been nice to me and reviewed, I hope you enjoy the end and maybe there will be more... But probably not. Doot.
WaMat DeBly: You have a coolname. O.O
thaisha:I have continued! And will do so in the future. Just not with this.
nishasha: I think every one of your suggestions has happened.