I'm not really sure what to think of this one. Just glad one of the reigning queens of Sandcest enjoys my meager offering. Wewt!

Naruto not mine, etcetera and so on.

Request – Gaara/Temari, "Strawberries"


Temari could still remember their mother, which was more than either of her brothers had. All they had were pictures and a name, but Temari had memories to go with that. Their mother's scent, their mother's warmth, the sound of her voice and the feeling of safety when in her arms. The way she sang the sun to sleep in the late afternoons, when the bright sunlight would slant through the hallways and reveal dancing dust motes. How she would smuggle strawberries out of the Kazekage's kitchens, giggling with her daughter as they gorged on the fruit, dribbling juices staining their lips and fingertips red.

Their mother had loved strawberries. The Kazekage had banned them from the household after her death. Even Yashimaru refused to indulge in them. It had been many, many years since Temari had held one in her hand.

She was older now, and should no longer have been prone to childish flights of fancy. But when she saw what the vendor was hawking on the streets of Konohagakure, she had to buy it - a full half pound of the ripest strawberries she had ever seen. She thought of her mother when she popped the first one in her mouth, before she had even received her change, and the taste was bittersweet.

Temari hadn't thought of her brothers at all. She had been fully intent on eating the bag herself, a bit of indulgence after months spent in a foreign country and having missed the chance to make chuunin as well. A little pick-me-up. A girl's treat to herself.

She had forgotten about Gaara's sense of smell.

"What are those?"

Her youngest brother was staring at the half-eaten bag of fruit on her bed as if it contained something poisonous. She cleared her throat and self-consciously wiped her hands, still sticky from juice, on her shirt.

"They're strawberries," she replied. "It's a kind of fruit."

Gaara continued staring. "We do not have strawberries in Sunagakure," he pointed out, and his tone of voice seemed to imply that if it didn't come from Wind Country, it was inferior.

"No," Temari said, "but you can import them." And before she could stop to think about the effect of her words, she said: "Mother loved them."

Gaara's nostrils flared. She forced herself not to flinch. She knew better than to say whatever popped into her head, but sometimes the words had a life of their own. Her mouth was going to kill her one day, but not before Kankurou's mouth killed him first.

It took her a moment to realize that the flaring of Gaara's nostrils did not signal his anger, but rather his intent to catch the strawberry's scent.

"Give me one," he said, and in his monotonous voice there was no room for argument.

She took one out of the bag and held it out to him. He did not take it. Instead, he wrapped his slim fingers around her wrist (his skin was so cold) and tugged her hand higher to better observe the fruit. He was still staring at it as if it was a bug.

He did not take it.

"It's just a strawberry," Temari said. She did not like the way her voice quavered. "Go on, eat it."

In retrospect, she should have said, 'Go on, take it,' because the last thing she expected Gaara to do was lean down and wrap his lips around the fruit. To sink his teeth into the strawberry so the warm juice dribbled down her fingers into her palm. Nothing but his breath touched her, but it was so solid a sensation that he might as well have been running his tongue along her skin.

She let go reflexively. Gaara also let go, and straightened to chew the fruit thoughtfully.

"It's good," he stated monotonously. He wiped his mouth on the back of his hand and left the room.

Temari exhaled the breath she had not realized she'd been holding.