Sakura enjoyed watching him while he slept.

Some say that you look more peaceful when you're asleep, that all of your cares and worries are cast aside, to be replaced by serene calm, by beautiful oblivion.

Once, she would have laughed that off as a silly, romantic ideal, but her perception changed. She had never seen him sleeping before now.

Hesitant fingers brushed fiery red hair away from his forehead, the touch as light as a feather. She was unwilling to wake him so soon, his lips parted only slightly, the usual creases upon his brow gone.

Were he anyone else, she might have named him an angel, but the irony was far too blatant. He may have been many things, however angel wasn't one of them, not even on his good days.

And he wasn't particularly bothered by that.

"I'm still learning how to be human," he'd joked with a straight face. "Of course there'll be deficiencies in some areas."

Sakura's vast intellect allowed her to fill in the blanks rather easily. Certain faults he was in no hurry to renovate, because they gave him an advantage in the political arena. Perhaps he was not as ruthless and apathetic as he used to be, but he ran his village with an iron fist. Akatsuki had come close to breaking him--had Chiyo not been there when she was, ready to sacrifice her life for his, they would have succeeded. He would not soon forget that, nor the instability that threatened to shake Sunagakure down to its very foundations. His options, then, were few: allow chaos to reign and plead an inability to carry the weight of the responsibility delegated to him, or do his job and lead.

He chose to lead.

Yet there were moments when the pressure overwhelmed him, exhausted him more than the years of insomnia, and it was during those times he slept as one of the dead, the world fading to nothing but a detached recollection.

Like now.

She recalled a recent conversation between herself and his sister. They had sat up late chatting about who knows what, and somehow the subject turned to the Kazekage, as it was bound to do.

"I remember the first time I saw him sleep, really sleep..." Temari's expression was wistful. "He had his head in my lap, and he just sort of drifted off while we were talking. I don't know why, made me cry. All his life he hadn't been able to do that, and the fact that I got to share it with him when he did blew me away." Her eyes were misty. "I cried like a damned baby. Kankuro walked in on us and looked at me like I was nuts." They both chuckled at that, and then Temari smiled. "I'll have that image of him burned in my mind forever. He's a pain in the ass, but he's my baby brother, and, lord help me, I love him."

Thinking about it nearly moved Sakura to tears, especially out here, underneath a starry sky...

With Gaara's head resting in her lap.

It's amazing, the things you take for granted, things that appear so simple, so commonplace that you don't bother to worry about them, and can't imagine that someone else might.

Though their relationship was peculiar, a tangled web of delicate intricacies, Sakura was drawn to this person, a complication all on his own, despite their rocky first encounter years ago. She'd be lying if she said she wasn't afraid of him then, wasn't disgusted and horrified by his complete lack of conscience, his determination to annihilate whatever crossed his path.

Even knowing what she knew now, she didn't excuse his destructive behavior, but she understood it to a degree. That understanding was the mortar that held their bond together, what made her continue to ask him questions about him, and what made him continue to answer. The more she discovered, the more he intrigued her, and the less guarded he became.

So when he proposed she reside at his estate while she trained Suna's med unit, it was only natural that she accept.

Sakura liked him. It was undeniable, though she did on occasion if he pissed her off. For example, he had a vexing habit of being stubborn at the exact same time as she, and his refusal to budge even a centimeter rivaled hers. Worse, Sakura would bellow at him until she was purple, and without blinking, he would casually inform her that her conduct was insubordinate and she ought to revise her opinion.

There was no doubt he had mastered the art of flawless delivery--all at her expense.

But the flipside, the real payoff, was that he trusted her...and she was beginning to believe she could trust him. Oh, he didn't want to kill her anymore. Granted, he hadn't admitted it, though she could tell by the way he looked at her.

They were Naruto's captivated looks, the looks she had hoped and dreamed and wished Sasuke would bestow.

He did it when he thought she wasn't paying attention, but she always knew when his eyes were on her. It was intense, like a bolt of electricity through her blood.

It thrilled her when it shouldn't. They were incompatible. Her home was in Konoha. He was Kazekage.

And her fingers stroked his hair as he slept with his head in her lap.

"No wonder you have so many fans," she murmured amusedly while she studied his features. "You really are adorable."

Abruptly, his sea-green eyes shot open.

"Not you, too." His voice was pained.

Briefly startled, she recovered enough to arch one of her brows. "I thought you were asleep." Her hand in his hair was still.

Gaara frowned. "I was."

"You couldn't have heard that," Sakura chided, incredulous. She wasn't sure if she should move her hand or not, but she didn't want to draw it to his attention.

"Sakura." Her name practically exploded out of him. "If you had a swarm of teenage girls stalking you, I guarantee you'd be conditioned to react to words like 'adorable' even if you were six feet below ground." He drew an agitated breath, however exhibited no signs of moving.

Her heart started to pound.

"Would you rather I call you ugly, then?" She wondered, secretly grateful to her self-control.

His expression soured immediately. "No."

Sakura bit her lip to keep from giggling at the play of emotions on his face. "Well then what should I refer to you as, oh esteemed Kazekage-sama?"

She wasn't prepared for the sudden turn in his countenance.

"Just Gaara is fine."

He was giving her that soul-shattering look, and he wanted her to see it.

Throat paper-dry, she forced herself to swallow. "I suppose that's manageable."

Gaara smirked. "How kind." Shifting a bit closer, he allowed his lids to slide shut again. "What you were doing before...with your fingers. It felt nice."

Sakura's lips quirked. Wordlessly, she flexed her fingers and smoothed his hair, watching the steady rise and fall of his chest.

I have been bitten by the GaaraSaku bug. Hard. Yet another LJ drabble, keyword "feather," for friend (sakurab). Hope y'all enjoyed. XD