Title: The Desert Is Ice Cold (chapter 4)

Author: Sabaku-no-Ai

A/N: Reviews motivate me. They really do. I mean, it's been 5 months since I last submitted a chapter or anything, but someone reviewed this story and it made me read everything again…and it motivated me; so…sorry for the wait! Love ya'll!

Warning: Super slight OOC-but-you-won't-realize-it-ness. :) (I apologize for it…I haven't watched/read any Naruto stuff for a long time)

"Objective: Put decorations up as fast and quietly as possible. Do you read?"

"Roger that. But what do we do about guards, sir? Over." Fox-like blue eyes looked questioningly at round, brown, determined ones.

Lee's index finger stroked his chin thoughtfully. He, Naruto and Hinata are currently behind the Kazekage house, hiding behind a dried bush. It's at least 2 in the morning, and he was pretty sure everyone was asleep. They needed to put the decorations up for later that morning, so that Gaara will be surprised. But the catch was that they had to set it up in Gaara's favorite place: his roof. He observed many guards standing by the entrances and exits. How they will be able to go through without trouble is beyond him. Hinata tapped him on the shoulder. "P-perhaps we could j-just…uhm…tell the g-guards about o-our plan…?" she suggested.

Naruto's jaw dropped. "Are you crazy, Hinata? They won't allow us! They're super overprotective! We might get killed! We gotta find away to sneak in!" Hinata looked at him dumbly for a few seconds, as if to say 'Well, isn't that more dangerous?' before her eyes lowered to the ground, embarrassed. Naruto hummed noisily to himself, conjuring up a plan to get them in without anyone knowing; like true ninjas.

"No," Lee mumbled. "I think they'd let us in. Kankuro and Gaara made me the leader of the Suna Troops earlier today. I think they'd let me in if I explain only a little; you know, without giving out too much." His eyes scanned the house thoroughly; three to four red-clad soldiers stood by each door. There were 18 in total. Lee really wanted this to work for Gaara's sake. And although he knows there is a chance that Gaara will never forgive him for throwing a party without his consent, Lee is confident that Gaara's gratitude will overwhelm his displeasure. At least, that's what he convinces himself with.

Gaara still thinks he doesn't have friends. Lee growled angrily to himself, as if it was his fault for not showing Gaara his appreciation from the very beginning. He doesn't know that everyone was one-hundred percent willing to help prepare the party. I'm sure he'll realize how much people really care for him. Lee's trail of thought halted when Hinata tugged on his arm, panicked. His attention turned to an empty spot beside him, where Naruto had been. Looking over the bush, his eyes widened as he saw Naruto hiding behind a pole from a nearby guard; then jumping to a window and tossing himself over to the roof. He waved triumphantly to Lee and Hinata from above. That idiot! Lee panicked as well, fearing for the ruining of his plan. But when he saw that the guards on the roof hadn't noticed him, he sighed in hesitant relief.

"Now, we have to do this really quietly. These guards are tough." Lee whispered to his two companions after they made it to the roof. They huddled together, discussing the course of action. "First, we need to set up the tables and chairs…where are the tables and chairs?!" Naruto pointed down to the bush. "Oh, okay, also, we can tie the balloons to the chairs already. Do we have enough red ones?" Lee smiled as he saw Hinata hold up a rather large bag of deflated balloons. "Cool. The long food table and the streamers are last, because they catch the most attention. Ready?" Everyone nods. "Alright, let's go! We need this done before—"

"Before what, Lee-san?"

All three ninja's shoulders tensed. Slowly, they turned their head to the dark silhouette of a sleepy Kazekage. Strangely, he did not look murderous or anything close to that. More of a childish kind of curiosity. "What's going on, sir? Are there trespassers?" a guard rushed up to Gaara's side, and a few more followed suit. Pretty soon, six were behind the teen, who then raised his arm and sent them away.

"…" Gaara's dark, tired eyes looked to what Hinata had clenched in her hand. "Balloons?" he asked monotonously.

Lee shifted in position and attempted to cover a bag of decorations and other miscellany with his hands. He mentally slapped himself. Gosh, I forgot that Gaara doesn't sleep! He pouted to himself, realizing that his on-time effort was in vain. He straightened out when Gaara kicked his foot. "What are you doing here?"

"I'm…uhm…going to throw you a surprise party…?" he hesitantly said.

Gaara smirked, obviously thinking that he was kidding. "No really," he said, crossing his arms. "What are you doing here?" Lee smiled at Gaara's ignorance…though he never expected to use the words 'Gaara' and 'ignorance' together. The Kazekage is highly intelligent; but maybe, in this case, too intelligent. This is more proof that Gaara doesn't believe that his friends would do something nice for him. Lee is not sure how to feel about that.

"Uh…Lee told us that the view here is nice! So we, uhm, decided to go!" Naruto made up. Gaara asked him why Lee would do so at the time of night. "And yeah…man, the view is awesome! Why haven't you invited anyone to this place, Gaara? They'd love how far away everything seems…and how everything is brown…so much sand…" he rambled on and Gaara quickly lost interest. He turned to Hinata, who played with a deflated balloon. He was about to turn to Lee but then heard someone call said ninja.

"Lee! Hey, Lee, where are you?! I got the food for the party!" a hushed female whisper called aimlessly. "Whoa! What the?! Let me go!" the person whined as she was held by the guards, questioning her about why she's here. "I'll let you know, I can kick your ass anytime!" The guards grumbled angrily at her, talking about how disrespectful teenagers are these days. She observed a knocked-out soldier by the door. "I'm Gaara's friend! He's going to kill you once he finds out that you're sleeping on the job! Let me go or I'll tell!" The guards refused to budge.

Gaara listened from the rooftop. Was that Ino just now? He pieced his thoughts together. Did she just call me her friend? …And what's this about food? And a party? He looked at a panicked Lee from the corner of his eye. He wasn't lying…? He approached the edge and shouted to the guards below, "Leave her alone." The guards mumbled their protest, but wouldn't want to disobey someone like Gaara. They let the blonde female go, who brushed them off. Lifting a heavy bag of various treats up, she reclined her head. "Thanks Gaa—ack! Gaara?! You heard! Oh no!" Lee then appeared next to Gaara, looking harassed (xx). "Lee! He knows! What do we do!?" When Lee didn't respond, Ino made her way to the roof. Dropping her sack next to Lee, she observed that Naruto and Hinata had the same look on their face. Gaara's emotion was a mix of confusion and amusement.

"So I guess there really is a party?" Gaara whispered to himself. Firmly, he asked the four ninjas, "Who is responsible for this?"

Lee immediately straightened. "I-I am!" Naruto was heard shouting, "Oh the brave Lee!" in the background. The Taijustu master cleared his throat, and then proceeded to rant, "This party was supposed to make you realize that you have friends here in Konoha! We wanted to make you feel like you have something to come back to and to look forward to and that we love you!" Naruto commented on the side again, saying "Lee loves you the most!"

Ino smacked him upside the head.

"We planned this party for you because you're our friend. I don't care if you've given up on emotion or anything, because we sure haven't given up on you. I don't care if you think that a Kazekage shouldn't feel anything because you're wrong! A leader should feel the most out of anyone in a group. He's the one who is destined to protect and to guard their comrades, and vice-versa. And guess what? We're your comrades! So I don't care if—"

"I never said I didn't care." Gaara interrupted, a blank stare still showing. "I never said I've given up on emotion or that a Kazekage should deprive themselves of feeling. And I surely never said that I never had something to look forward to every time I go to Konoha." His piercing eyes seemed glassy as they looked at Lee in thought. No, he in fact does have quite a few things to look forward to. The powerful, caring, determined ninja in front of him was one of those things. Lee is someone to look forward to…whether or not in Konoha.

Lee blinked. "O-oh…uhm…well, in that case, we just wanted to reminded you about those things." He rubbed the back of his neck and chuckled nervously. Hinata came up to the two and handed each a balloon, red and round…just like how Gaara's cheeks are at the moment. "Look! It's dawn." Ino pointed out, and then a big shout of "SURPRISE!" rang in their ears. Sasuke led the pack, followed by Sakura, Gai-sensei, Ten-Ten…and everyone. Everyone is here. Everyone did this for Gaara. He couldn't be more surprised.

A/N: A really, really HUGE thank you to my readers and the people to review my stories. I wouldn't be here if it were not for them. Please REVIEW!!!And if you see a typo, please tell me about it! Constructive/fan-girlish criticism only. Thanks. :) (BTW, no, the story isn't over yet. Any plot suggestions welcome. :D )