Memory of Love

By: Vampire Toy

PG 13 just in case

Disclaimer: Don't own ;;

Summary: Sakura's determination wasn't as strong as she'd thought, and she might've never joined in the Chuunin exams if it weren't for the 'encouragement' of the most unexpected person.

(a follow up to 'Lonely Sand' and 'Friendship Bracelet') as requested XP I did another follow up, this time its when Sakura's older, enjoy.

(I need a break)

Sakura sighed after the vigorous training she'd put herself through. She wandered from the field where she'd been training alone and flopped down under the shade of a tree.

Even though she was reluctant to join her teammates in the Chuunin exams, she thought she should at least give it a try. However, her mind wavered between fear and determination all too quickly for her to concentrate enough on exercise.

(Should I really go through with this? I might embarrass myself in front of everyone….in front of Sasuke-kun…..even HE'S told me I'm the weakest in the group…)

Her heart ached when she thought back to that morning when she'd asked if she could train with him.

'Your as bad as Naruto, why waste your time flirting when you should be practicing? Even his skills are better than yours!'

The few times he spoke to her it was always this way, no encouragement or kindness ever graced his lips for her.

She brushed back her bangs and wiped the sweat from her forehead with the back of her hand.

(No, you have to show him your stronger! You have to show him your stronger than he thinks you are!)

But she couldn't help wanting to curl into the shadows of the tree and disappear forever.

(I'll never get strong enough for the Chuunin exams before they start! I should have trained harder all this time; there's no way I can pass)

She pulled her knees up to her chest, folding her arms over them and resting her head on one side.

(Well, giving up is no option….) She sighed to herself and closed her eyes; her self-encouragement wasn't working, it only brought to mind more excuses for her not to join her two much stronger teammates.

Her inner self yelled at her and told her to think about something completely different, something….anything that would relax her.

(Just retrace the day!…..urg…today sucked……..Sasuke called you weak, some brat thinks your Naruto's girlfriend…..he also thinks you're a witch….and then there was that creepy Gaara and his team!)

Sakura shifted slightly, turning her head so she rest on the other side of her face now.

(He was so weird; I'm glad Sasuke-kun was there)

She frowned at recalling that Sasuke ended up protecting her again from the Sand team. He may not have seen it as protecting, but Sakura was sure that she wouldn't have been able to take on any of the vicious looking team herself.

(Ugh, NARUTO could've probably beaten them better than me)

Her face twisted angrily and her breathing became shaky.

(Don't cry now Sakura, it won't do you any good….)

One tear slid down her face and onto her arm and soon they came flooding from her eyes. She buried her head in her arms as her crying got louder and her shoulders began shaking as she hiccuped and gasped for air.

She flung herself back onto the tree when she felt she was choking on her sobbing and breathed in deeply only to end up coughing and shaking harder. She hugged herself and took long slow breathes to calm herself.

"No, no, no, I can't….:hic: I can't do this…..I'd never make it…." She murmured out loud as her crying finally died down, "I can't become a Chuunin when I'm so weak…."

"Would you shut up?"

Sakura froze; her crying abruptly cut off by the cold voice. She felt a figure hovering above her and her face turned red when she realized someone had been watching her self-pity. Her face slowly tilted to see who her on-looker had been and she nearly threw herself to the side when she saw it was the last person she wanted it to be; Gaara of the Desert.

"I…."

He looked down at her for a moment before his eyes left hers to study the rest of her body. Sakura made a disgusted face at his surveillance and hugged herself tighter.

"Yes, you….your hair is hard to forget."

(Is he talking about earlier today?)

Sakura decided if he could look her over then she could look him over as well, so she did. Her eyes scanned over him, pointing out his messy red hair and dark circles around his jade eyes.

(Hnn he looks familiar…. Well of course! I saw him earlier today….)

Sakura's mind still lingered in doubt, however, and her curiosity distracted her for a moment as her mind tried to recall something….something to do with Gaara, or maybe it had nothing to do with him? She couldn't be sure, but she knew he was somehow triggering a memory of some kind. Maybe of someone she used to be afraid of?

He bent down in front of her, looking her straight into the eyes once more with a fiercer intensity than he had the first time. The pink haired girl couldn't seem to look away from him as she sat dumbly, waiting for him to make his next move.

"You look confused."

(I am!)

"Hn….I suppose I am the only one who remembers. It's better that way, you've already gotten in my way once."

"Hey!" Sakura spoke up for the first time, slight annoyance in her voice, "I wasn't in your way! Your teammate was in OUR way!"

"……."

Sakura's heart began racing as Gaara's face contorted angrily.

(Way to go…who knows what he's like or what he'll do to you? He doesn't look like he has a patient temper)

"You must not know about me then either? So you forget me all together, that's fine, most others would do the same." He gave her a deranged smile making her press her back harder into the tree, as looking for an escape. He dropped to his knees and leaned foreword, enjoying the game she was setting up for him.

"Do I scare you?"

(What….is his problem! I….can't show weakness!)

"…you…..don't scare me…" she said, barely above a whisper, though she wasn't sure if he'd heard her seeing as her heart was loud enough to make anyone close by deaf.

His eyes held onto her for a moment longer as his smile faded and he placed both his hands on either side of her in the grass. Gaara's face looked down at her now, their foreheads almost touching he hung so close.

"Do you pity yourself?"

(Right now? Umm…a little…)

"Do you think your life is miserable and unfair?"

(….damn you….damn you, where the hell have I seen you before…..)

"Hnn, you've disproved even your own logic….it's some type of love that's made you this way." He muttered. She could feel his warm breath against her face as he spoke but his eyes were lost to her now, she couldn't tell if he was still looking at her or looking right through her.

(Love….? Like the symbol on his forehead!) She could clearly see the features of his face now and she narrowed her eyebrows as she studied his marking.

(If I take the marking away…..different clothing….)

"The way you said his name….that Sasuke….."

(…he's…..no……)

"You say it with love? Do you really think it's love?"

(…Gaara…..of the Sand…..of the…..Sand……sand….)

"You sounded very smart back there…..very professional, checking for our papers…but he doesn't care about anything you do does he?"

(He's being so hurtful dammit! It can't be him!)

"Are you HAPPY? Does he make you….happy? He's your friend isn't he?"

"Y-yes….Sasuke-kun….Naruto…they're my teammates and my friends."

"Are you sure they're your friends? You said….you're weaker than both of them, that upsets you doesn't it? Your never unhappy….when you have a friend…"

(NO!)

"Gaara!" she gasped as if only just then realizing it was him who was hovering above her.

"Gaara…." Her eyes widened and so did his. His more out of smugness and hers out of shock.

"You….you….."

"Yes?" he asked tauntingly.

"From…the Sand village…and…..my house…..when…. I……"

"Of course…I'm from the Sand Village….I stated so earlier today…" his voice was full of mocked ignorance and Sakura's heart snapped.

"It IS……and your…." (so…hateful….Gaara, that's your name…) she shut her eyes suddenly as she tried to recall her fuzzy memories from childhood. She never looked back on her younger years because of the pain the memories brought her and hoped that way she would be able to forget them completely, but somehow they'd always find her when she was alone…..now, however, when she needed them the most, she couldn't gather them.

"G….A…." she murmured out loud. Gaara gave, for the first time, a truly confused look as she seemed to spell out his name.

"…that's all I saw but…..it's G.. A.. A.. R.. A.. that's what you were going to spell….and your hair….your hair is…." She opened her eyes to find Gaara frozen in confusion, his eyes wide and burning into her own.

"Shut up." He muttered shakily.

"Your hair is…so messy that its silly." she murmured, her hand reaching up without hesitation and running her fingers through his hair lightly. Gaara shivered and yanked himself away form her, stumbling up.

"I'm going to kill you!"

Sakura was too dazed to completely hear him. She only looked up at him, her eyes traveling down his body to his feet, murmuring about how much taller he'd gotten.

"Shut up!" he snarled raising his hands as the cork of his gourd flew off spastically, letting the sand spill out.

"Was it? Was it you!" Sakura asked sitting up.

"No…"

"Yes! D-did….I mean….do you still have…."

"I don't understand what you're trying to say, but you're beginning to annoy me and if you don't shut up, I'll kill you."

(It…was him wasn't it? How many other people look like him?)

The sand was beginning to wrap around her legs and her waist. Sakura's fear finally registered with her brain as she watched the sand climb up her body, wrapping around her legs and squeezing them tightly.

She winced as the grains cut through her shorts and pierced into the skin of her upper thighs.

(Is he really going to kill me? Because I'm remembering? What's wrong with him…..what happened….?)

"Ahh!" Sakura tried to yank her leg away from the sand as it buried itself in her skin. Gaara's face twist into a childish expression of fear.

"You're hurting me! Stop it! Stop! What are you doing!" she cried as blood seeped in small amounts from the tiny incisions.

"Sakura…." He mumbled dropping his hand by his side, the sand falling with it. Sakura watched him shakily as she timidly reach to feel her right leg, the only leg he'd caused to bleed.

"Blood…" he murmured, surprising Sakura when she looked up to find him close again.

"You're…." He bent over, reaching down and running his fingers down her thigh as the blood clung to his hand making Sakura shudder.

"Bleeding…."

She wasn't sure what to say or do; afraid if she brought up anything else that he'd completely destroy her, but a sudden gust of sand and wind made her let out a small cry of surprise. She opened one eye when she thought the storm was over and blinked a few times, looking around but not seeing Gaara anywhere.

(No way)

"Could sand….)

Sakura stared off in front of her for what seemed to be forever as she thought over everything.

(It makes sense….now….everything….the sand, his eyes….)

She pushed herself up and brushed off some of the sand still clinging to her body. Her fingers traced lightly over the many tiny holes in the side of her pants and leg. It was easily covered and she had more shorts at home….

(The friendship bracelet! Does he have it?) She wiped the blood that clung to her fingers off on the other side of her pants; it wasn't as if she was going to wear them ever again.

(Oh come on Sakura, as if he'd really still be wearing that piece of crap)

Sakura paused for a moment as if expecting him to come back, but when he didn't, she turned and walked home, her confusion making her forget about the many tiny wounds she would have to tend to.

(Why…if that's really him….then why….is he like this? I know people change as they get older but….how so much? Did I change that much?)

The sky was dark now as she went into her home, tossing her sandals aside and looking through the medicine cabinet.

After refreshing herself with a shower and cleaning out her wounds she realized, to her relief, that the way the sand had cut into her skin made it hard to tell there was any would there unless it should start to bleed again, which was highly unlikely. They weren't too deep.

She didn't want her teammates to worry about her leg and Gaara attacking her when they should be training.

(Friends….if you have a friend, then your never unhappy…..I remember saying that to you Gaara….you remembered it too….so…it must have been you…it HAD to have been)

Suddenly she remembered that he'd given her a friendship bracelet of his own, a SAND friendship bracelet!

She grabbed the box she'd put it in from under her bed and opened the lid.

(It had fallen apart I remember, it was just sand when I put it in here…)

A small gasp escaped her lips when she saw the bracelet was in full form again and that it had broken the shot glass it had been placed in.

"It's because he's in the Hidden Leaf…..because he's close by…." She looked at the bracelet for a moment and tried to put it on but it was too small for her more adult wrist.

(Why would I wanna wear it anyway? It might try cut my hand off…) but Sakura's fascination grew and she ran to her dresser, taking out a ribbon and putting it through the loop of the bracelet. She held it out to look at it and gave a nod.

(It will do for now)

She placed it on her dresser top gently and yawned.

(Hnn….Gaara…..he's so creepy now…..I don't know if he scares me or intrigues me)

She sighed and flopped into bed.

(What a weird day…and Chuunin exams start tomorrow! Oh shit; I should've been in bed way earlier!)

She glanced out her window as she pulled the covers over her body and turned out the light.

(He's definitely gotten stronger, Gaara…..hnn he's here for the Chuunin exams…)

She closed her eyes and smiled.

(Maybe I'll see him there….I bet he wants his sand back)

Vampire Toy: ok, so it wasn't exactly IN the Chuunin exams quite yet (as requested by a reader), but I'll get there XP, I'll do one more chappie I guess, from Gaara's 3rd person POV. I'm sorry this one is such a wreck but I tried my best :( Whelp, these stories are probably just showing the romantic tention between the two at the moments we werent able to see :D fwah! I'm a freak, ok, well, its late and school is tomorrow, I hope this was ok, please R & R and flames welcome.