Gaara, Kazekage of the Village Hidden in the Sand, narrowed his eyes at what lay before him. It was a bed. But not just any bed. His bed. A bed he had never slept in, since going to sleep would result in Shukaku breaking loose and rampaging. But now, Shukaku was gone, torn from him by Akatsuki. So, for the first time in his life, he could lie down and sleep like everyone else. He was certainly tired, the collected weight of a lifetime of missed sleep tugging at his eyelids. But, he had a slight problem.
"How do I…"
He shifted his gaze to the pink-haired medical ninja who had tended to him after his rescue, stayed close to him as the group from Konoha escorted him back to his village, and helped him up to his room.
"How do you what?"
"How do I…sleep?"
Gaara frowned as the girl giggled. Sure, he had occasionally used a jutsu to fake sleep, in order to intentionally let Shukaku out, and had even been knocked unconscious once or twice in his life. But he had no idea how regular people did it.
"I've never slept before. How do I?"
Gaara nodded silently, his gaze returning to the bed in front of him.
"You just…lie down, and when your body wants to…"
When Gaara was very young, he occasionally snuck into his sibling's rooms to watch them sleep, wanting but unable to understand the whole concept. He was older now, and had observed plenty of guards and sentries fall asleep, and understood the basic concept behind it all, but still…
"Err…it helps to take your clothes off."
Gaara frowned again and sat up, unbuttoning his vest and setting it aside. His shirt and pants went next, but the girl began to sputter and wave her arms just as he tugged as his undershorts.
Gaara didn't bother questioning her odd outburst as he dropped back down, adjusting the pillow under his head. He watched the girl walk around the room, extinguishing the candles and closing the curtains. She turned back to say something, but paused, Gaara not seeing the blush on her face in the dim light.
"And sheets. Cover up! Well, with just enough as you need to feel comfortable."
Gaara shifted and pulled a blanket over himself, stopping halfway with a tiny grunt of pain.
The girl sat down on the edge of the bed, moving his hand from where he had grabbed his side, replacing it with her own, and Gaara felt the familiar warmth of a healing jutsu. As he felt it spread through him, he rested a hand on top of hers and leaned back, closing his eyes.
"Gaara? Gaara? I need my hand back…oh."
Rolling her eyes, she weighed her options and decided on lying down next to him, to wait for him to let go of her hand. But between the late hour and the stress of the past few days, it wasn't long at all before her eyes closed as well.
Gaara slowly opened his eyes. That was strange. It was morning. He was talking to Sakura, she used a healing jutsu on him, and then…
"Talking? The jutsu? Or…"
Looking down, he saw Sakura curled up against him, asleep as well. Her arm was draped over him, her hand still in his. That was it, he decided. His thumb moved without thinking, stroking the back of her hand. It felt…nice. Gaara didn't know why, but he enjoyed the physical contact. Normally, he hated when others infringed in his personal space, but once Sakura had gotten past that barrier and actually touched him, gently, he found he enjoyed it. A lot. He found her head was resting on his arm, so he bent the arm around her to rest that hand on Sakura's shoulder. That was nice too, but Sakura was still just a slight distance from him, so he used that arm to pull her towards him. She murmured something he couldn't understand, moving closer to him. Her head was now resting on his bare chest, and she mumbled something else, nodding in her sleep, her cheek rubbing the skin it was resting on. That was a sensation Gaara particularly enjoyed, but he returned to frowning at her when the motion stopped.
Gaara opened his mouth to tell her to do that again, but he remembered that noises and talking to sleeping people would wake them, so he tried to get her do it again without waking her. He could give another squeeze with the arm that was around her, but knew that guards often shoved, jostled or otherwise moved each other to get them to wake up. And as long was Sakura was asleep, she would stay were she was, so that wasn't an option. The thumb moved across her hand again, and her fingers flexed slightly. But since he wanted her head to move, he took the hand off her shoulder and carefully brushed her neck. He was rewarded with a slight motion, and brought the hand further, tracing her jaw and up to her cheek, brushing the skin as gently as possible. This time, Sakura's entire body shifted, pressing against him, a leg twisting around one of his own. As an unfamiliar warmth spread through his body, the source of which he couldn't identify, he made a mental note: brushing cheeks with fingertips, good. However, after a second brush failed to elicit the same response, he was back to frowning. Deciding to review what he had already done, he dropped his head back onto the pillow and replaced the hand onto her shoulder.
A short time later, with Gaara still no closer to an answer on how to get Sakura to move around in her sleep again, Sakura blinked her eyes and looked around, trying to get her bearings. She had just used a simple healing jutsu on one of Gaara's wounds that she thought she had healed completely. He had grabbed her hand, and not wanting to wake him now that he had finally fallen asleep, she decided to relax a moment and wait for him to release her hand on his own. But that was at night, and it was morning now…
"So where am I?"
"Oh, good morning, Gaara."
"Yeah, that's what you say to someone who…just…woke…"
Gaara looked down at her when her voice suddenly trailed off. Her eyes were wide open, staring straight down at his chest.
She turned her head, very slowly, to look him it the eyes. She looked back down and away, sweeping across his body as if she was looking for something. Her cheeks were bright pink. Gaara had seen people blush, of course, but it was one of those things people did that he didn't really understand. He made another note: the feeling of hair brushing against his bare chest, also very good.
"Why are we…in bed together?"
Her voice sounded odd, almost squeaky.
"I suppose I fell asleep. You must have fallen asleep as well."
They were interrupted by the sound of movement outside the room. More like a stampede, though, followed by the sound of several people arguing, one voice rising above the rest clearly.
"Oi! Sakura, are you there?"
More arguing. The knob turned.
Sakura tried to sit up, but she noticed with no small shock that Gaara had an arm around her and had holding her against him quite securely.
Naruto froze as he took in the scene before him. Gaara was half-covered by a blanket, apparently naked, with Sakura lying against him under the same blanket. She was also blushing brighter than he had ever seen.
"Sakura? Gaara? You two…"
"But, since when are you two-"
He was interrupted in turn by a blast of sand in his face that pushed him back out into the corridor beyond. The same mass of sand closed the door a moment later after several other heads, wearing a mix of both Konoha and Suna forehead protectors, had carefully leaned over and peeked into the room.
"Um…thanks. We should…get up."
"Why? Because…just because!"
Gaara frowned for the hundredth time. Before he met Naruto, he had always met the world with a mix of contempt and distaste. But lately, he almost looked like he had some unspoken question, and was waiting calmly for an answer. Of course, the answer never came. The world was annoying like that. Still, he released his grip and sat up slowly, watching as Sakura scrambled away. He stood carefully and dressed, watching as Sakura kept turning her head towards him slightly before quickly looking away.
"We just woke up. We're supposed to have breakfast now, right?"
Without another word, he turned and walked to the door. Resting his hand on the handle he turned to look blankly at the girl behind him. She had finally turned to look at him, and seeing him by the door, slowly approached. He opened the door to reveal a corridor full of sand shinobi who were standing very straight and who greeted him very formally. Stepping out and around Naruto, who was busy spitting sand out of his mouth, he headed for the stairway. Sakura fell in behind him, cringing under all the eyes that were on her. It was even worse when she and Gaara walked past her own leaf nin. Kakashi was smiling under his mask, and several others were openly gawking at the two of them. She unconsciously fell into old habits and grabbed at the nearest object, which happened to be one of Gaara's arms. He raised an almost nonexistent eyebrow at it, but said nothing as the two walked arm-in-arm past the crowd.