A/N: Well, I'm back! I decided to go ahead and publish this series of one-shots, taking place after Sunagakure belly dance. I like this idea a lot, since it gives me a lot of free reign for all the different ideas which shoot through my mind concerning Gaara and Sakura. The possibilities of scenarios are endless! Hehe. So, here's the first one.
I really enjoyed writing this vignette; the idea was just too tempting for me not to write it.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters of Naruto. This story was written for entertainment purposes only.
Summary: Never having experienced such a situation in his life, Gaara is forced to deal with a craving and goes on a personal mission to acquire some… ice cream.
There it was again, the incessant interruption of his brain.
Once more, in an attempt to silence the irritating disturbance in his daily work, he forced himself to concentrate on the report at hand.
"…The meetings with the diplomatic envoy from Cloud were satisfactory. Members of said village were reluctant to open their borders to allow Suna emissaries through. However, they were pointedly reminded of the reigning alliance and of the benefits in communication this…"
Yet again, his brain managed to boycott his reading, forcing him to lose concentration and suddenly, all thoughts and ideas of the diplomatic missions which were so important to Suna at the moment, banished in the air.
'Just what the fuck is wrong with me?' the Kazekage thought in frustration. He'd been fighting his lack of concentration all morning, and after hours of futile warfare against his treacherous mind, he still couldn't pinpoint the cause of his constant distraction.
Growling in aggravation, he leaned back in his armchair, glaring at the report on his desk, as if the piece of paper were responsible for his annoyance. He grinded his teeth, anger making its way steadily towards the surface. If he continued like this, he wouldn't be able to get even half of his work done today. This just wouldn't do.
It was time to change tactics. As it seemed that ignoring his deceitful brain wasn't going to work, then maybe he could listen to what it had to say and get the whole thing over with. If he gave his wandering mind just 5 minutes of his attention, maybe that would be enough to shut it up for the rest of the day.
Satisfied with his strategy, Gaara closed his eyes, breathing in and out steadily. Allowing his body to relax just as if he were initiating meditation, he allowed his mind free reign.
Due to the constant restraint the Kazekage had over his thoughts, it was strange to suddenly allow himself to think whatever he pleased. Having lived his whole life strictly controlling every single idea passing through his head, which was part of the job description when you had Shukaku sealed inside your body, this was not an exercise Gaara indulged in often. However, he was completely sure that the distractions he was suffering were not coming from the demon tanuki, therefore, it was safe to explore them further.
After a couple of minutes of light meditation, an image started showing up in the Kazekage's mind. It was not completely clear at first, and in truth, it wasn't exactly an image… it was more like a… taste.
Frowning at this development, Gaara reluctantly allowed it to continue.
'Vanilla', he thought surprisingly, as he recognized the signals his mind was sending him. 'Vanilla… vanilla… vanilla ice cream?' The thought arrived in full force, sending his already muddled brain into a frenzy. The reaction was so intense he could feel his mouth watering slightly.
Slightly shocked, he opened his eyes just to make sure no one else was in the office with him. It wouldn't do for someone else to catch Suna's Kazekage in a moment of obvious weakness, salivating like a brainless dog.
His anger followed quickly on the heels of the realization that his devious brain had been boycotting his work all morning just because of some stupid longing for vanilla ice cream.
'Why, in the name of all that is holy, would I, Sabaku no Gaara, have any real use for vanilla ice cream?' he thought, furious with himself.
After a whole minute of being the object of attention of his own wrath, the red head decided that it was in his best interest to calm down, at least slightly. He wouldn't be able to analyze his situation if he went on a killing spree, no matter how much such a course of action would alleviate his stress. Not only that, but his psychological stability would be seriously questioned if he took up such habits once more. Refraining from killing people on a whim had been a crucial decision when he was elected as Kazekage and he was not about to surrender his post.
A different course of action was clearly necessary. He needed to pinpoint the source of his need for vanilla ice cream and thoroughly eliminate it.
If he remembered correctly, he was suffering from what was commonly known as a 'craving'… a state of longing for something completely useless, which, in Gaara's point of view, was a condition reserved only for little children and pregnant women. How he'd allowed himself to fall to such low levels was beyond his current comprehension, but that was not the point at the moment.
Gaara had tasted ice cream only twice in his entire life and the latest of these events had taken place just a couple of weeks ago. Having reluctantly agreed to give a lecture concerning Suna's security to some second year students at the shinobi academy, the Kazekage managed to scrape through the experience only to find himself on an outing with said children. Their sensei, a man who Gaara almost fired on the spot, had the brilliant idea of taking them out for an excursion to eat some ice cream after the lecture… an activity which included their unenthusiastic leader. Knowing it was necessary to keep his reputation intact, especially when the runts would stare up at him with nothing short of awe-struck admiration in their eyes, he was forced to accept the invitation.
Hence, he found himself standing in front of the ice cream vendor, looking over all the flavors available. On a whim, Gaara had chosen vanilla, since he'd enjoyed the smell on Sakura's skin and…
That was it!
Standing up abruptly as the realization hit him, his angry chakra swirled all around his private office.
This was all her fault!
Growling loudly as he slammed his fists against his desk in a violent motion, Gaara finally reached the root of his continuous distraction throughout the whole morning.
He missed her, damn it!
Sakura had left almost a week ago to attend some meetings back in Konoha and wouldn't return for another 3 days. Reluctant to let her out of his sight for even a few moments, Gaara had planned on accompanying her back to her home village but she had painstakingly disagreed. After exploding in the usual manner whenever his ideas concerning her met any kind of resistance, Gaara managed to find the logic behind her disagreement (important paper work, managing missions, leading a shinobi village in general…) and very grudgingly admitted that she was right. It would be better if he stayed behind. He trusted her enough to take care of herself and it wouldn't kill him to be without her for a few days…
But from the way things were developing, him standing behind his desk in a fuming tantrum and experiencing idiotic cravings for something he'd never needed before in his life, he wasn't sure if he would manage to survive anymore. Everything pointed towards him going completely insane… even though if his medical records were reviewed, people would say this had already happened early in his life, but who the fuck cared?
The point was that Sakura's absence was getting on his nerves, making him crave for things which reminded him of her. Trying to unconsciously recreate her presence with small and infuriating details, such as vanilla ice cream, he was trying to fill the sudden hole she had left in his life.
And the truth was he really did miss her.
At night, he could still find her smell in the bed's pillows, making his heart clench involuntarily, wanted her to be there, in bed with him. She wasn't there to greet him every morning and wasn't there when he came home to his apartment after a day's work. Gaara had lived his whole life like this, without needing anyone else, but once he did find someone, her absence made him realize what an empty existence he had always led. Sharing wasn't something he did easily, but with Sakura, it had always happened effortlessly. They had welcomed one another into their lives, clearly knowing the good and the bad, so it was only natural for them to fall into step next to each other, shaping their lives into their own unique mold.
It wasn't easy, but their downs were always compensated by their ups. And for Gaara, who's life had once been a nightmare from which he never woke, everyday living became something he enjoyed and actually looked forward to… something which once, not so long ago, he would have never thought possible.
Coming back to the situation at hand, Gaara sighed deeply. Belatedly realizing that his fists were still pressed up forcefully against his desk, he lifted them slowly, opening them and shaking then slightly to relieve the tension in his fingers. Having successfully held his temper in check, he had managed to arrive to the source of his problem.
He missed Sakura, that much was clear and he admitted it openly to himself. Missing Sakura inexplicably caused his brain to function in a very strange way, something with which he wasn't happy, at all. This curious malfunction of his neurons led him to crave vanilla ice cream, which in an extremely weird way, tried to make up for Sakura's absence. The craving then disrupted his concentration completely, causing him to halt in his work every 2 minutes; something which needed to stop if he wanted to keep his job. Officially, this problem required immediate action.
After a couple of minutes of intense troubleshooting in his head, Gaara narrowed down the solution to two options.
Number one: Using his sand as a mode of transportation and going over to Konoha to bring her back. Once she was in the immediate vicinity, he would be able to get back to his normal life and would be able to concentrate. However, to achieve this plan of action, he would have to enter foreign shinobi territory, kidnap her from whichever meeting she was in and face the wrath of not only the Hokage, but of Naruto as well. As much as he loved a good sparring match, the amount of work on his desk didn't allow him to take such leisure.
Number two: Leaving his office momentarily to search for the ice cream vendor and satisfy his craving. As much as he hated to admit it, this was, by far, the most viable option.
Refusing to stay in his office behaving like a disgusting love sick puppy a minute more than was necessary, Gaara picked up his gourd, tied it to his back and walked out the door.
Once outside, he stood in the doorway, mapping out the best route to take. Personally, he would have preferred to travel across Suna's rooftops, as he used to do, but now, it wouldn't do to have the village's Kazekage jumping from roof to roof in an effort to avoid any human contact.
Settling for the more standard approach, Gaara proceeded to walk in the direction of the ice cream vendor, intent on getting this little mission over with.
As he walked down the street, a small part of him noticed how no one stopped to stare openly at him anymore. There were no whispers behind his back and no hostility displayed openly towards him. Ironically, the people who used to hate and fear him would now bow respectfully towards him, addressing him by his formal title. Smiling cynically at the fickleness of human nature, he returned their greetings in a polite but brief manner.
But in many ways, he knew he was no different from them. Now, instead of vowing to kill the villagers, he had promised to protect them and had risked his very life in doing so. After many years, they were finally treading on common ground and it gave Gaara a small measure of comfort to know this.
After a 5 minute walk, he finally spotted the ice cream cart parked at a corner, its proprietor sitting on a stool while he saw to his clients. Much to Gaara's anguish, those clients were all small children. This whole thing was such a low blow to his pride that he refused to even think about it.
After contemplating the possibility of bribing one of the runts to buy the ice cream for him, the Kazekage reminded himself that he needed to get back to work as soon as possible. And since when had Sabaku no Gaara ever hesitated before a task, anyway? The answer was never. This whole thing was just so below him he shouldn't even deign it with more than a few seconds of his time.
Unconsciously squaring his shoulders as he walked forward, the Kazekage stood at the end of the queue of children while he waited for his turn to buy his ice cream. It was inevitable for some of the kids to notice him as he stood there. Some of them gasped in surprise while some others whispered excitedly to each other; one even mouthed a huge "WOW" to his friend next to him. Refraining from rolling his eyes at their antics, Gaara took it all in stride… until a small girl came to stand next to him.
Out of sheer force of will, he managed to survive 2 whole minutes without paying any attention to her. But once he realized she wasn't going anywhere, he sighed in resignation and looked down at her, pinning her with one of his trademark glares. Much to Gaara's aggravation, she wasn't even slightly affected by this, since she just smiled up at him, batting her eyes constantly. She couldn't have been more than 9 years old.
"Konnichiwa, Kazekage-sama," she said brightly, never stopping her eye batting. If he didn't know better, he could've sworn she was attempting to flirt with him.
Sakura was going to pay for this when she got back.
By the mercy of some benign deity, it was Gaara's turn in the queue.
"Three scoops of vanilla ice cream, please," he said curtly.
"Yes sir, coming right up," the vendor replied. "Would you like some type of topping with… ACK!" the man exclaimed, as he looked up to face his customer. "Kazekage-sama! I truly wasn't expecting to see you here! What an honor!" Bowing deeply before Gaara, the man forgot all about the red head's order.
At end of his patience, Gaara dropped all formality. "Could you please make it quick? I have a lot of work to do."
"Yes sir, I'm sorry, sir," the vendor said, returning quickly to the task at hand. "Would you like any…"
"No, thank you," Gaara interrupted. "I just want plain ice cream."
"Yes, sir, whatever you like, sir."
As the man handed Gaara the cup with the ice cream, the red head handed him the money.
"Oh no, sir!" the man exclaimed. "I cannot accept any payment from…"
"Oh, just take it!" Gaara said vehemently, throwing the coins on the cart's counter. Turning quickly on his heel he walked swiftly away, vaguely wandering what kind of food mothers fed their daughters to cause them to harass their leaders.
A few minutes later, the Kazekage was once more sitting behind his desk, a cup of half eaten ice cream in his hand, intently going over the reports in front of him. Having regained his concentration, he managed to fly through his work with his usual efficiency between spoonfuls of vanilla.
Once the cup was almost finished, he looked down into the plastic container with a look of satisfaction.
'This stuff isn't really that bad,' he thought contently, his previous tantrum completely forgotten. 'I might have to procure some sort of supply of this… until she gets back, that is.'
Taking the last spoonful into his mouth, he plunged once more into his work.
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