Author's note: I'm currently working on an AU Gaa/Saku multi chapter fic. I was organizing my ideas when the thought of this one shot came up. I just had to write it so it would leave me alone. Contains possible spoilers for the manga, up to chapter 263.

A small tribute to all you Gaa/Saku fans out there! Hope you enjoy!

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters of Naruto. This story was meant for entertainment purposes only.

When I'm traveling far from home

On the wide horizon

I can feel you're still around

And the dream overtakes me

Then I know, you'll stay in this moment

We'll go where it's flowing

You'll be what you want to be
Right here, with me

Persistence of Memory - Afro Celt Sound System



She hated waiting. She hated being the one to wait back home, the one to sigh in his absence, the one to long for his presence. She hated to be the one who couldn't sleep at night… that had always been his role, not hers.

Once more she shifted to a new position in bed, effectively entangling herself in the sheets even more. Her tossing and turning had lasted for a couple of hours now, and her patience was starting to wear dangerously thin.

Kicking the covers off in a small temper tantrum, the young pink haired medic lay on her back, glaring at the ceiling.

Five days, he had said. Five days. The mission wouldn't last more than that. He'd be back by then, he promised, and he had never been anything less than punctual. So where the hell was he? Five days were just about to turn into seven.

Sakura knew she was probably making a big deal out of all this. She knew she was exaggerating, since he'd never been late in returning from missions, and if he was, he'd always send her a message. He'd always been more than considerate when it came to her, placing her welfare before his. He not always did it in the best way possible, since his temper had a way of getting easily altered, but she knew he had the best intentions at heart.

She sat up, back against the head of the bed. She breathed deeply, trying to control her rising anger. 'The mission was delayed,' she thought to herself, 'that's all. They were delayed and he simply couldn't find a runner with which to send me a message.' She sighed, exhaling slowly as she closed her eyes, her irritation slowly leaving her.

'Well, it's either that,' Inner Sakura piped in, 'or he's out there celebrating the mission's success with the other members of his team. You know, the usual drinking and partying, especially with that young chuunin who recenty joined his team… yes, the pretty brunette, the one who flutters her eyelashes at him and stares adoringly whenever he speaks… "Yes, Kazekage-sama, anything you say Kazekage-sama"… she really is annoying.'

Growling, her fury unleashed itself as Sakura punched her mattress fiercely. 'If he comes home right now, HE'S GOING TO GET IT!'

Breathing heavily for a few moments, she was suddenly aware of the emotional state she had worked herself into. Him, out drinking with a group of people and being social? It was the most absurd thought she had ever come across.

Shaking her head slowly, she quietly laughed at herself. How could she be jealous? He still barely tolerated any human contact with anyone who wasn't her. He was always suspicious of anyone acting friendly towards him, even if it was someone he already knew. Just a couple of weeks ago, he'd commented he'd found Hinata suspicious because she'd stopped him on the street just to say hello. Who, in their right mind, would ever be suspicious of the sweet and shy Hyuuga Hinata?

She was laughing then as she was laughing now, when she explained Hinata's intentions, that she was just being friendly and polite. It was the way people behaved towards their acquaintances, and though it had taken some time in his case, her friends had finally come to accept him, coming to terms with him being part of her life and were just treating him accordingly. She remembered he'd fumbled with the word 'accept', not sure he was comfortable with it. She knew all he needed was time.

Sakura sighed deeply, relishing in the memory of his face. How she loved when he looked at her so, with the eyes of a confused and lost child, silently asking her to explain how the world worked. At first she'd found it unnerving, how he could shift from a merciless and violent killer when it came to fighting, to an innocent and unknowing infant when it came to relating to others. It had taken some time to get used to this changing aspect of his personality, but she'd finally managed to gain the skills to deal with it.

Of course, he wasn't innocent and unknowing in certain aspects, especially when it came to her. Sakura's breath quickened as she called on the memories of his mouth, kissing the most sensitive places on her body… of those deep and passionate kisses he gave her, making her forget everything else except his strong and dominant presence. The feel of his rough hands as they caressed her, the feel of his skin against hers… the feel of his muscles as she rubbed his back.

Suddenly feeling her temperature rise, she got up from bed to open the window. The night was clear as the stars shone down from their heavenly perch. All was silent in Konoha and as the cool breeze touched her face, she leaned into it, trying to catch his scent on the air. Not perceiving anything, she looked up to the sky with a downhearted expression.

"Gaara, where are you?" she asked out loud. There was no answer, only the continuous singing of the crickets in the grass.

Deciding she couldn't sleep anymore, she made her way to the kitchen. As she passed their small living room, she suddenly saw the mess it was in. Having returned recently from a mission herself, she hadn't had time to clean things up. She picked up the magazines she'd been reading and piled them up in a corner.

She'd arrived at Konoha the night before, completely exhausted. With the certainty that Gaara would be home later on in the night or in the morning at the very latest, she'd taken a quick shower and had collapsed into bed. Sakura was only a little surprised to find Gaara missing when she woke up. Not thinking much of it, since it still was a bit early, she made herself ready and attended some meetings with the Fifth, leaving a small note on the door just in case Gaara came home and didn't find her. She had to make some detailed reports on her mission, which lasted well after lunch time. However, once she was free, she had the rest of the day for herself. Making her way hastily back to their apartment, she was more than a little disappointed to find the note exactly where she'd left it. Not wanting to sit down and wait, she went to visit Ino. Her friend was glad to see her, and they talked all afternoon, happily sharing gossip and chitchat.

It was getting dark when she got home and found the note still stuck on her door. She twisted her face in annoyance as she walked in, ripping the note from its perch. Making dinner and setting the table for two kept her mind busy for a while, but only helped to irritate her further when she finished her meal and stared angrily at the empty spot next to her. She was doing exactly what she didn't want to do… sitting down and waiting. She didn't know how long she sat at the table before getting up and cleaning the dishes. Having nothing better to do, she got ready for bed, sitting down with a magazine on her pillow. She got bored quickly, and decided to call it a day. Sleep was very far away however and now, here she was, cleaning up the living room in the middle of the night.

Sakura picked up some of the scrolls Gaara had been working on recently, and placed them in a neat pile on the edge of the coffee table. He had resigned to his title of Kazekage after their run in with Akatsuki, his argument being that he would be more helpful to the village if he took care of the most dangerous missions, where he would be able to gather more information about any potential threats to Suna. The council had reluctantly agreed, electing a new leader, but this didn't mean they wouldn't turn to him for advice. This kept him busy most of the time as he basically led his village from a distance.

Sakura found herself remembering how Akatsuki had attacked him, trying to steal Shukaku. If the teams from Konoha hadn't arrived at the time they did, he would have been lost. It had been Sakura's job to bring him back from the verge of death while Naruto, Kakashi and Chiyo-baasama fought all around her. At first, she thought they had lost him for good, but he slowly regained consciousness as she fed him with her chakra. Green stared into green as he got a bearing of his surroundings, looking utterly confused. Some time later, he had confessed to her how empty and at peace he had felt in that moment… the demon he had once housed just wasn't there. The moment was short lived however, since Shukaku had been hiding at the edges of his consciousness, all Akatsuki had managed to do was rob him of some of his powerful chakra and the demon tanuki had successfully tricked them into thinking they had properly exorcized him. Neither the demon nor the rebel group had cared how this would affect Gaara however, and once the Kazekage came awake, his wrath was all consuming.

Forcing the sand demon to do his will in its weakened state didn't take long and a few minutes after Sakura had been able to heal him, Gaara was standing, half transformed, bringing chaos and destruction to the world. Sakura honestly thought she was done for… she thought she'd come to the end of her existence. Having seen him transformed and threatening her life before, she didn't garner much hope and therefore was completely and utterly amazed when she saw a barrier of sand form all around her. The shield protected her from harm throughout the whole battle and did not dissipate until everything was peaceful around them. The sand flew away in an instant and Gaara was there, standing in front of her. He looked into her eyes, a strange expression on his face. He was barely able to thank her for saving him before he collapsed from exhaustion. They brought him back to Suna's hospital, where Sakura personally took care of him, nursing him back to health.

That had been the start of their intense and conflictive relationship. First he had resented all her attention, snapping at her for treating him like some decrepit fool, telling her he didn't need her help, that he'd make it on his own. She had managed to ignore the tantrums and insults for a while, but then it had been too much. Sakura launched a verbal onslaught at him, one she had been particularly proud of, and asserted herself as a professional medical nin, letting him know of how unstable his condition was, especially with Shukaku being so defensive and unpredictable after having suffered a direct attack. He stared at her with something very close to complete shock on his features, not being used to people talking back to him, much less rebuking him. And especially not used to people talking so openly about the demon he housed. Without waiting for him to answer, Sakura walked out the door, deliberately avoiding him for the next couple of days as she helped out with other patients in the hospital. The next time she went to his room, he was strangely compliant, but still had the nerve to ask her why she hadn't come around to check on him. They had openly glared at each other for five minutes straight.

Sitting down on one of their couches, Sakura smiled in remembrance. How immature and stubborn he had been in those first days. It was some time before he came to terms with the friendship she was unwittingly offering him, even if it was under the guise of being his medic. He hadn't been able to handle their growing closeness very assertively either, as he fumbled with what to say or what to do. She had patiently waited for him to come to terms with his feelings once she had come to terms with her own. At first, she wasn't very sure of what she was doing, hesitant of appearing vulnerable, especially with some one as aggressive and destructive as him. She came to discover the other part of his personality though, the lost and susceptible child. Thinking she could get through to him by means of this facet in his character, she took the plunge, knowing she was risking her very soul in the process. Amazingly, she came out unscathed as he accepted her in return, embracing her and claiming her as his own. The lost boy had found his shelter.

Only two weeks after she had left Suna, leaving him completely recovered, he came looking for her. Their growing relationship was something they could clearly feel, but none of them had ever dared to speak of it openly. She was leaving the Fifth's office late one night, after an intense day of training. She had to make up for all the time she had been away and was entirely too absorbed in her lessons to notice the looming figure watching her from above the rooftops. He made his appearance as she reached her apartment, while she looked for her keys. As she fumbled with the small pouch at her waist, Sakura noticed a shadow detach itself from the wall.

She heard the rustle of the sand first, clearly revealing his identity. She found her heart racing as he stepped into the light of a street lamp, approaching her leisurely like a stalking feline. Sakura felt the sand come up behind her, pushing her slowly, but firmly, towards his approaching figure. The sand stopped until she was barely a foot away from him.

"After you left, I realized how empty my life had always been," he told her, skipping a greeting entirely. His tone was hesitant, as if he was reluctant to reveal such an intimate feeling. "As the days passed, I realized I had to come looking for you…had to come and claim what was mine." The look in his eyes turned harder, as if daring her to deny his statement.

Sakura smiled in return, knowing about his ever present need to show dominance. She wasn't about to give in so easily, however. "I thought you would come sooner," she replied casually.

He frowned for a moment, glaring. But his expression changed in an instant, as he gave her such a wicked smile she was sure her heart would burst from her chest. "And what would make you think you were the only thing on my mind? With my resignation as Kazekage, I had many things to take care of." He grew silent for a moment, as if adding effect to his words. "Now that I'm done with politics, I have other matters I need to take care of."

"Oh really," she said. "And what would those be?"

His eyes lit up like burning candles and without deigning her with an answer, his sand started pushing her towards him again, into his waiting arms. Without warning, he kissed her, and hard. She found herself melting in his embrace as his sand helped him to keep her close. His kisses became more insistent, making her painstakingly aware of his body pressed against hers, of his clenched muscles as he held her. Soon, she found herself fumbling with her keys again, as she tried to open her door without stopping their kiss. From that day onward, the apartment stopped being 'hers' and became 'theirs'. He was passionate and fiery at the same time he was loving and gentle, something she had never expected from him. It was truly surprising for her to find that underneath the cold exterior, he could be really caring when he wanted to.

The other side of his personality was more difficult to deal with, though. Easy to anger and violent when he became so, his jealous tantrums almost gave her a reason to leave him. Luckily, they were never directed at her, but to the people surrounding her. This gave her cause to worry though, since he would wrap every unknown male who approached her in sand, threatening to use his Sabaku kyuu if they dared to get too close or to even talk to her. He definitely crossed the line when he threatened a young boy at the market who offered to help her with her grocery bags.

Sakura unleashed her anger at him as soon as they got home, telling him that if he wanted to stay with her, he would have to deal with his jealously in a more constructive way. He would have to learn to control his urges and would have to learn to calm his anger, something he wasn't able to do at the moment. Their discussion came to the attention of the whole neighborhood as they both bellowed their fury at each other. It escalated to the point where Sakura couldn't take it anymore and threw him out of the house, telling him to stay away until he could control himself. He grew suddenly silent, fury and hurt in his eyes. She thought he would lash out at her then, but he hastily disappeared in a cloud of sand.

She cried herself to sleep that night… and the night after that. The days passed excruciatingly slow and she came to think he would never return. It was a week after their fight when she heard a knock on her door. Opening it slowly, she saw him standing there, haggard and worn, with a small glint of pride in his eyes. They didn't talk at first and he didn't dare meet her eyes. He them half mumbled an apology, and it was all she needed. Kissing him passionately, as if she hadn't seen him in a year, she dragged him hurriedly in.

After that, their fights scaled down to a whole different level and he did manage to control his jealously. He would lose his temper at other men from time to time, but would never threaten their lives… at least, he didn't do so out loud and his sand managed to stay in his gourd.

Caught in her reverie of the past, she had laid down on the couch. She looked over all the shadows in the living room, finally settling her gaze on the sand glass on the small bookcase. The soft rustle of the moving sand only helped her miss him even more. It had been his first gift to her, intended to remind her of him in moments like this, when he was away on missions. The sand had been infused with his chakra, and its holder would turn by itself once one of its sides ran out of sand.

Staring at it absently, she finally realized how late it was. 1am

She wasn't sure when her anger had dissolved into worry, but she was keenly aware of it now. He'd never been so late in returning from a mission. Maybe something had happened to him. 'No,' she told herself, 'he is Suna's best shinobi. Not to mention the fact that he was Kazekage himself. His sand offense and defense make him nearly invincible. There's no way something could happen to him.'

'Nearly invincible,' Inner Sakura interrupted once more. 'You certainly would wish to forget how Akatsuki managed to kidnap and almost kill him. Do you remember how close to death he was then?'

She shook her head free of such thoughts. It did no good to think such things; she would only get herself worked up again and probably end up dressing and going out to look for him. 'No, no', she thought, 'I have to calm myself. I'm no good to him if I got out there, looking for him in the middle of the night. He would make a scene if he came in and didn't find me.'

'If you were this late, he would've already been out there, dragging you back home.'

Sakura smiled at the thought and at how true it was. He would've probably organized a search team already, to help him look for her, and once he found her, he would've scolded her silly with all types of curses. Knowing he would do all this was reason enough not to do it herself. Getting up from the couch, she made her way to their bedroom once more. Spreading the sheets neatly, she lay down, finally dozing off for the first time in the whole night.

Sakura didn't know how much time had passed, but she came half awake when she heard a familiar rustle as the sheets were lifted from her body. The noise was then followed by the sweet sensation of sand caressing her skin. She opened her eyes to look directly into his, as he knelt down by the side of the bed, watching her intently as she slept.

"Gaara," she softly sighed. "You're finally back. Where were you?" All thoughts of the scolding she had planned for him quickly evaporated as she looked into his handsome face.

Reaching out to caress her cheek, he explained. "I really apologize, Sakura, but we were inevitably delayed. The mission was supposed to be a simple bodyguard maneuver for an important politician. I was hired to lead it since I knew the politician well and would be able to help with the negotiations he had planned for Suna. The meetings were painstakingly long, though, and what was scheduled as a 2 day council finally turned into 4 days of meetings. Needless to say, my temper was at its boiling point when we finally left, and I made quick time in taking the politician back to Suna."

The irritation in his voice was evident, and she stifled a giggle as she imagined the politician being dragged in a pile of sand all the way back to his village.

He grew silent, looking into her eyes, still caressing her. "I'm really sorry I made you wait. I know I promised to get back here sooner and I couldn't find a single runner with which to send you a message."

"That's what I thought," she replied, "even though I was starting to get a little worried."

'Damn right I was worried!" Inner Sakura grumbled. "And you're damned lucky that my drinking and partying theory was a fluke, or else you'd be under my fist right now, red head!"

He smiled at her, lifting from his kneeling position. Sakura had previously failed to notice that he was shirtless, wearing only his sleeping pants.

Inner Sakura stopped her angry tantrum all of a sudden, going completely speechless as she took in the sight of him. "Ooh," was all she was able to say as her eyes went from his chest down to his hips, where muscles rippled with his movement.

He got into bed with her, embracing her tightly. "I missed you so much," he said, "I really couldn't wait to see you and I literally flew on my sand all the way from Suna to Konoha."

She smiled, sinking her face into his chest. "I missed you too. You know I can't sleep at all without you here."

His laughter was a quiet rumble, as he started caressing her back, slipping his hand under her night shirt. "You must be tired," he said, as his touching became rubbing and his mouth found the most sensitive spot on her neck.

She pressed herself closer to him, lifting her face to give him better access. Something inside her was mildly irritated, but he was successfully making her forget with his careful ministrations.

"You should get some sleep," he said, just before he caught her mouth in his, kissing her deeply, letting her unquestionably know what his intentions were. But just before his quick hands found the drawstrings of her own trousers, Inner Sakura managed to make herself heard.

"Just an hour ago you were worried sick about him, wallowing in your loneliness and want. Are you going let him get away with this so easily? You've been waiting for him all day! Now it's his time to wait!" she effectively said, crossing her arms and throwing her chin in the air.

For once, Sakura thought she was absolutely right. She really was tired from her lack of sleep and the emotional turmoil she had been suffering all day. The least he could do was to let her get some rest… and in the meantime, she would be able to teach him a lesson. Let him stay up all night while she slept, looking over her body but not being able to touch it unless he woke her.

Grabbing his fumbling hands, she took them to her mouth, kissing his knuckles. Gaara was utterly confused with what she was doing, not wanting to diverge from his goal of taking her clothes off.

"Gaara," she said sweetly, "I really have to get some rest. I haven't slept all night, since I stayed awake worrying over you…"

"I already told you it wasn't my fault," he said, starting to get irritated, since he wasn't achieving what he wanted. "I would have let you know sooner."

"I know and I'm not blaming you. But that doesn't make the fact that I haven't slept go away, does it?"

He frowned at her for a moment, before shaking his head.

She kissed him tenderly, brushing her tongue on his lips ever so slightly. He looked into her eyes, and dawning comprehension flashed through them as he finally realized she was doing this on purpose. He literally glared at her, but before he could say anything, she turned her back towards him, folding his arms around her so he could embrace her from behind.

"Don't worry, we'll pick up where we left off in the morning," she said, yawning sleepily. Apparently she wasn't faking the part about being tired. When only his silent irritation answered her, she continued softly. "Good night."

"Sweet dreams," he said, tone dripping with sarcasm.

Sakura smiled smugly at herself, giggling in her mind. He would be quite a grouch in the morning, but it wouldn't be hard for her to coax him out of it. Knowing how worked up he would be after a few hours of watching her sleep with nothing but his imagination to keep him company, she was sure that some carefully placed kisses would easily make him forget his grumpiness.

Wrapping her fingers between his, she softly closed her eyes. Her smile was one of true happiness as she drifted into sleep, feeling his reassuring warmth behind her. All was as it should be.

For once, Inner Sakura completely agreed with her.

Whew, I'm glad that's out of my system… Thanks for reading! R&R: )