Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or its characters.
Authors note: This is my second fic, though my first is not complete. I just got this idea and had to write it so please R&R. I'm not good in Japanese so I don't know if all my '-san' '-kun' or '-chan' is correct so don't mind if it's wrong. This story is mainly about Gaara X , that you will find out by the end of the chapter.
Story note: The story takes place 6 years after Naruto started which is 3 years after where the manga is now. There are manga spoilers so read at your own risk. Everytime this line appears it means a different scene. Enjoy.
The room was silent. All 11 of the Sand's council members were in their thoughts. The sounds of the desert winds blowing through the village can be heard clearly through the wall. There were 12 seats at the oval table. One was empty. Uninvited.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" one of the council members spoke up.
The one sitting on the right side of the empty seat nodded. "There is no doubt that he has changed, but we still need control over him and Temari and Kankurou as we all know, are not on our side."
The rest of them nodded in agreement. "If that is decided, myself and the two that I have selected earlier will leave first thing tomorrow morning, straight to Konoha.
Tsunade looks outside of the full length window of her office, at the sight of Konoha. On her right hand, is a bottle of sake, and on her left hand, is a tiny cup. "Aah, what a beautiful day."
She pours out some sake into the cup and drank it down. "A good day for rest and relaxa-"
The doors flew open as Tsunade's black haired assistant came storming in. "Tsunade-sama, this is no time to be drinking sake!" she said aloud, all the while carrying a thick pile of papers.
"What is it, Shizune? Being a Hokege isn't easy. I need a break sometimes," Tsunade said.
Shizune drops the pile of papers on Tsunade's desk. "But, you must really look at how much reports you haven't went through!"
Tsunade stared at the pile, clearly shocked. "But,…..you just brought in a pile yesterday!"
"Those were yesterdays, Tsunade-sama. These are todays," Shizune replied, flashing a small smile. Tsunade couldn't believe what she was hearing. It's been six years since she became Hokage, but she still couldn't get used to the paperwork.
"Just leave it here. I'll go through it later," Tsunade said, dismissing her assistant. But her assistant didn't budge.
"You can't relax yet, Tsunade-sama. You've got guest"
"Guest?" Tsunade asked. She wasn't expecting any guest, especially not from someone big, not that she knew, but she guessed, from Shizune's face.
Shizune nodded. "The Sand's council members."
Tsunade couldn't help but wonder what the Sand's council members want with her but nonetheless she smiled as they were led into the room. There were three of them, fake smiles plastered on their faces. Shizune excused herself out, and left Tsunade with the sand's council members.
"Please, sit down" Tsunade said, motioning to the three chairs that were specially prepared for them. They took their seats. "So tell me, what brings you to Konoha?"
The one in the middle, seemingly the leader, spoke up. "Hokage-sama, we shan't bore you so we shall get straight to the point." Tsunade nodded. He continued. "As you yourself know, Konoha has been a great help to us and our Kazekage, especially during the incident with the Akatsuki. At that time, considering what we had to recover from, we couldn't really give Konoha a good payback."
Tsunade nodded again, still not sure where they are getting at. He went on. "So that is why now, with our country's condition at its best, we offer you a proposition. Also, to strengthen the alliance between our countries, we propose a marriage."
"A marriage?" Tsunade exclaimed.
"Yes, we would propose it between Kazekage-sama and yourself, but considering the age gap, we suggest that it be someone younger" he finished.
Tsunade chuckled a little. "That would be unnecessary. Helping Kazekage-sama is something I should do, as an ally. We won't ask for any form of repayment."
"We urge you not to decline," he started. "You are risking our countries alliance"
"I don't seem to understand," Tsunade said, more serious now.
"Hokage-sama, we hope….your age have not drawn you to forget about the incident two weeks ago," he said.
Tsunade's brows knitted. "I remember, why?"
"You could call this compensation." he said, looking at Tsunade. "We take in that you are not going to decline any further. A girl, about 18 and better if she is a kunoichi. You have three days to make your decision for on the fourth day, Kazekage-sama himself will be here. Send her to wait for his arrival, for we won't stay long enough for you to make your decision."
Tsunade didn't say anything, her brows still knitted.
"We shall see ourselves out, Hokage-sama," he said and heads for the door, the other two silently following.
"Wait!" Tsunade said, now standing. The men looked at her. She stared straight at them. "Did Kazekage-sama agree to this?"
The leader smiled. "Don't worry yourself with that matter, Hokage-sama. He won't decline."
Shizune re-entered Tsunade's office after sending the three Sand council members off. They seem pretty satisfied and were smiling the whole way. Shizune looks at Tsunade. "Naa, Tsunade-sama, what did they want?"
But instead of answering, Tsunade hands Shizune a piece of paper. On the paper were four names. "Gather these four people now!" Tsunade commanded.
Shizune nodded "Haik, Tsunade-sama," and quickly went on her way. She wondered to herself, 'What could Tsunade-sama want with these four kunoichi's?'
Twenty minutes later, Tsunade found herself facing the four ladies she had called for. Starting from the left, Haruno Sakura, her very own apprentice, now a fully fledged medical ninja, followed by Hyuuga Hinata, the heir of the Hyuuga clan, whose techniques have improved so drastically that it even won Neji's respect. Next was Yamanaka Ino, still running her flower shop and from what it is heard, business is bad until Ino had to use her jutsu's to make people buy without realizing what they were doing. Finally, there was Tenten, who is taking her Jounin exams soon. For a shinobi that depended highly on weapons, she has come far indeed.
The four looked terrified, as if they did something wrong, added by the fact they didn't know why all four were called together and Tsunade's grumpy face wasn't helping either.
"Why are we called here, Tsunade-sama?" Sakura asked, breaking the silence.
Tsunade looked up, straight at the four. She sighed. "I want you girls to hear me out now, for five minutes while I explain everything. While I'm at it, I want no interruptions at all. Understood?"
The four girls nodded. Hinata gulped. From the way Tsunade is putting it, it can't be something good.
"I just received a visit from three of the Sand's council members," Tsunade began.
"The sand's council members?" Ino sputtered. Tsunade glared at her, silencing her immediately. Tsunade sighed again and went on.
Bt the end of the five minutes, Sakura and Ino had their jaws hanging wlile Hinata and Tenten were just plain shocked. Tsunade have expected them to be shocked, but Ino and Sakura were really overdoing it. Ino was the first to react. She marched up to Tsunade's desk and brought her hand down on it.
"Tsunade-sama, you can't be serious" Ino said.
But Tsunade gave her a I'm-not –kidding-either look. Instead she looked at the other three. "I know this is sudden but I don't have time to make a decision. That's why I'm asking now if anybody is willing to volunteer for this or else I have to pick someone and there is to be no objections."
"But, Tsunade-sama," Hinata spoke up, the years haven't changed her shy persona. "What is that incident that happened between Konoha and the Sand?"
"I prefer not to say anything about it. The one who is going for this will know about it though, I'm only telling it to that person alone," Tsunade said. Then she looked at the four. "Any volunteers? Ino?"
Ino seem startled that Tsunade called her name, "Aah…..you can't pick me, Tsunade-sama. I don't hold anything against the Kazekage but I cannot betray Sasuke-kun"
Sakura tensed and glared at Ino at the mention of Sasuke's name. Ino retuned her glare. Tsunade sighed and turned to Tenten. "Tenten, what about you?"
Tenten sighed too. "As Ino said, I too bear no grudge against the Kazekage, but, the extant of damage he once did to Lee, me as his teammate, it's quite a traumatizing experience. Out of all four of us, I think only Ino hasn't went through anything like that."
Ino, sensing that Tenten was hinting to Tsunade to pick her, lashed out "What are you talking about, Tenten?"
Hinata and Sakura seem startled by Ino's sudden burst-out. Tenten lifts her hands towards Ino in a calming manner. "Don't be angry, Ino-san. Hinata first-handly saw three Rain-nins killed and Sakura-san almost got killed herself."
Hinata and Sakura nodded in agreement. Ino whirled around to look at Tsunade and she too, was nodding. Fear rippled through Ino. The chances of her being chosen now is ninety-five percent. She felt like screaming, but she couldn't find her voice, she saw Tsunade-sama's mouth moving, but she couldn't hear anything. She suddenly found herself falling towards her left. Someone had pushed her. She turned to see who it was. It was Tenten.
"Ino-san, are you okay?" Tenten asked. Ino saw Hinata, Sakura and even Tsunade staring at her.
"Aah, I'm fine," Ino said bleakly.
"Don't worry Ino, I'm not going to pick you just based on that" Tsunade said. Ino sighed with relief. Tsunade looked at the remaining two who hasn't been questioned. "I bet you two are not willing either, huh?"
Their silent state proved her suspicion. "In that case, I'll have to do this my way." She hands each of them a piece of paper. They looked at the paper, then at her, puzzled.
"On this piece of paper, I want you four to write three good reasons why you shouldn'tbe picked. You have half-an-hour." She finished, dismissing the four.
All four hurried out of the room. But Sakura and Ino didn't get far before Tsunade called them back. "I'd like to have a word with you two"
Tsunade waited till Hinata and Tenten were out before she began "I want you two to really think what you are going to write in there. The possibility of Sasuke ever coming back is very low and if he does, he won't be the Sasuke you know anymore."
Sakura nodded, followed by Ino. "We understand," Sakura said.
"Well then, you two are dismissed."
Half-an-hour later, Tsunade stared at the four pieces of paper on her desk, all folded nicely to conceal its contents from others. The girls have been dismissed and are only to return the next morning for the results.
Tsunade sighed to herself, angry at the Sand's council members for doing this to her. Reluctantly, she picks up Ino's paper and began unfolding it. However, she could already guess its contents. One of the reasons is sure to be Sasuke. It's been six years since he left, but Ino and Sakura still hasn't given up hope. Although it is clear that Orochimaru did not manage to use Sasuke's body as a container, as Orochimaru himself has revealed, that Sasuke left him before he could make the transfer, Sasuke wouldn't be interested in coming back to Konoha. Tsunade completes the unfolding process and read the contents.
1. I will not betray Sasuke-kun.
2. I have a flower shop to take care of.
3. I'm afraid of the Kazekage.
Tsunade puts down Ino's paper and took Tenten's. She slowly unfolds it and looks at the contents.
1. More than I want to admit, I'm afraid of him.
2. I'm too young to get married.
3. I am in love with someone else.
Tsunade raised an eyebrow to that last statement. But she did not ponder on it much as she reached for Hinata's paper. She opened it and read. She was startled by its contents. Still holding the paper she reached for Sakura's. She opened it and again seemed startled. Then she smiled. She looked at both Hinata and Sakura's paper. "I've found you….."
Sakura, Hinata, Ino and Tenten found themselves back in Tsunade's office the next morning. She seems to be contemplating something. All four had nervous looks on their faces on their faces. At last, the moment of truth has arrived. Tsunade looks at the four. "I've read what you've all written, and I have come up with a decision. As I've said yesterday, I expect no objections."
She could hear heavy breathing from the four. She looked at Ino. "Ino."
Ino straightened up. 'Is it me?' she wondered.
"It's not you," Tsunade said. Ino let out a breath of relief. "You may exit the room."
Ino exited the room after muttering her thanks to Tsunade. Tsunade ignored her and now looks at Tenten. "Tenten."
Tenten shut her eyes and waits for Tsunade to continue.
"It's not you. You may exit the room"
Tenten nodded at Tsunade and then exited the room, leaving only Hinata and Sakura. Tsunade looks at the two. "It's one of you two."
Hinata and Sakura found themselves walking the street away from Tsunade's office. They walked in silence for a while.
"Hinata, do you think what you wrote caused this?" Sakura asked.
Hinata nodded. "Em, I'm sure of it. I can't understand why though."
They reached a T-junction . Sakura's destination was on the left, while Hinata's was on the right.
"Well, see you, Sakura-san," Hinata said and turned to go.
"Wait!" Sakura screeched. Hinata stopped and looked at her. "What did you write on your paper?"
Hinata smiled. "I wrote, I wouldn't volunteer, but if I'm chosen, I accept"
Sakura smiled. "Well. See you, Hinata."
Hinata smiled some more and went on her way. Sakura walked silently back towards her home. She heard footsteps behind her, chasing up to her. She turned just in time as Ino slammed into her.
"Ino! What are you doing?" Sakura wailed. Ino grinned at her.
"Don't be angry, it's a friendly gesture." Ino said. Ever since Sasuke's long disappearance, the two have stopped calling each other names, though it happens once in a while. Sasuke not being around has also gave space for the two to 're-bond' and now they are rather close.
"So, who is it?" Ino asked.
Sakura, still recovering from the slam, couldn't register the question. She replied "Huh?"
"Who did Tsunade-sama pick?" Ino repeated, more clearly now.
"Aah…..I'm sorry, Ino. I can't tell you. Tsunade-sama has warned us not to," Sakura said, with a smile.
"Sakura, she won't know. Tell me," Ino persisted.
"I can't, Ino. It's a mission."
Hinata arrives at the Hyuuga main house and is shocked to see Tenten standing at the entrance. As soon as Tenten noticed Hinata, she trotted up to her.
"Tenten-san? What are you doing here?" Hinata asked, full of curiosity.
"I was waiting for you to return" Tenten answered. Before Hinata could say another word, Tenten continued. " So, who was picked?"
Hinata knew Tenten was going to ask this. She smiled at her. "I'm sorry, Tenten. Both me and Sakura-san are not allowed to reveal that information. It's a mission."
Ino walks down the street. No matter how much she persisted, Sakura wouldn't tell her anything. Ino spots Tenten at the junction and speeds up her pace a little.
"Anything?" Ino asked.
Tenten shook her head. "Not much, other than the Kazekage is arriving the day after tomorrow. Whoever it is will wait for his arrival at the arch around midday."
"That's useful. Sakura wouldn't tell me anything" Ino said. Tenten seemed proud of herself.
"Tenten, let's make a bet," Ino said.
"Yeah, I'll bet it's this girl."
"Then I'll bet on the other," Tenten said. "What's the prize?"
"If I win, you have to buy 20 flowers each month from my shop for 5 months," Ino exclaimed.
"Fine. If I win, you'll be my slave for 20 days a month for 5 months." Tenten said in return.
Ino seem to ponder her options a while before offering her right hand to shake. "Agreed."
Tenten accepts the hand. She smiled. "Agreed."
The Day after Tomorrow
It was around midday, and Ino and Tenten were hiding ina tree, among it's leaves. It's a strategic spot overlooking the arch. They were waiting for either Hinata or Sakura to appear. Ironically, they both appeared together, from opposite directions. They stopped to greet each other and seemed to be having a light conversation. After a while, Sakura left. Hinata stayed. Tenten opened her mouth to say something but shut it again as she sees Hinata leaving.
"What's going on? They've both left," Ino sajd, in disbelief.
They waited awhile, which almost felt like forever, and almost made the decision to get off when the tree but just then, one of the girls came walking towards the arch. She stopped, and waited.
Tenten smirked. "Looks like I won the bet."
The Kazekage of the Sand walks down the path that will eventually lead him to Konoha. Beside him, is a blonde beauty who ties her hair in four ponytails and wields a giant fan on her back. Yes, the Kazekage of the Sand, 18 year old Gaara and beside him, his 21 year old sister Temari, one of the few pretty ladies in the Sand. He was wearing his Kage outfit, without the hat which he modified himself. From the waist all the way down, the robe was slit at both sides, allowing maximum leg movement. Inside he wore a long white trousers and had bands, like his battle outfit. Two were under each knee, and one more was above his right knee. Behind him is his ever faithful sand gourd.
Temari eyed her little brother. He is still wearing that emotionless face. Despite having changed after being given a second chance at life three years ago, his overall attitude has not. In exception of course, towards Kankurou and herself. They were the only ones he would apologize to of he done anything wrong. And although he doesn't show love like a normal person does, Temari knew he cared about her and Kankurou. She marveled at Gaara's growth. Not only has hi matured inside but outside as well. He is now taller than her, by around quarter a head. His messy hair which has not changed in three years and his smooth complexion deemed him very good looking indeed.
"Naa, Gaara," Temari started. Gaara moved his eyeballs to look at her. "Aren't you anxious to meet her?" she finished. 'Her' referring to who ever it might be, because they didn't know themselves.
Aren't you even a bit curious as to who it might be?" Temari asked.
"It doesn't matter. This is only done in political means."
"Hmm…..I don't know if you'll appreciate my comment, but I think it will be that girl, Hyuuga Hinata. Do you remember her?" Temari asked.
Gaara didn't answer, and kept walking in silence. Temari sighed and shook her head. But Gaara did remember. 'Hyuuga Hinata?' he wondered. 'That girl who likes Uzumaki Naruto. And he doesn't even notice it'
'Uzumaki Naruto' Gaara thought. The only other person he interacts with other than Temari and Kankurou. Naruto and Gaara have became extremely close friends after Gaara's revival and Naruto often went to the Sand to visit Gaara as Gaara don't have the luxury of leaving the Sand so often. In fact, Naruto's last visit has just been a month ago where he asked for a rematch of their fight six years ago.
The sand charged at Naruto and he jumped backwards, somersaulting and landing on his feet, sliding a little. He threw three quick shurikens at Gaara but his sand protected him. When the sand cleared around Gaara, Gaara smirked.
"Naruto! You've been going at this for half-an hour. You haven't got me yet."
Naruto laughed. "I know that! But, I won't give up. Take this!" He puts his second and third fingers of each hand together, in a shape of a cross. "Tajuu Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!"
Hundreds of Kage Bunshins appeared at both sides of Naruto and behind him. Naruto grinned. "I've got you once with this. I'll get you again!"
But to Naruto's surprise, Gaara grinned, or rather, smirked. "Interesting. We'll see how you try." He put both his hands together in a seal position. He looked at the village about 100 meters away. Then he looked back at the few hundred Naruto's. He closed his eyes. Naruto saw Gaara's mouth move but he couldn't hear anything. The ground around them started to rumble.
About a hundred Naruto's fell down. "What's happening?"
Then he saw it. Hundreds of Suna Bunshins appear from the ground. Gaara looked at the real Naruto. "I won't fall for the same trick twice."
They went all out. Suna Bunshin against Kage Bunshin. The village watched in awe. Some of the Sand's shinobi's joined the villagers to watch the fight and some cheered Gaara on. But they didn't have to. The Suna Bunshins have the advantage. Their ability to absorb weapons like kunai or shuriken instead of disappearing upon contact made them more long lasing than Kage Bunshins. Naruto too, noticed this. Together with a Kage Bunshin, he created Oodama Rasengan and charged into the Suna Bunshins. Sure enough, Oodama Rasengan ate into the Suna Bunshins and it all started to disperse upon contact.
Naruto gained confidence and ran into the Suna Bunshins at high speed, before he realized he was running straight towards a residential building. 'Oh crap! I can't stop! This is bad' he thought. A giant wall of sand appeared in before him. 'Heh, good thinking Gaara.' But again, Oodama Rasengan practically ate through the sand wall. He was just 2 meters away. He felt sand wrap around his right foot and he tripped. Oodama rasengan ate through the building wall and then disappeared with his Kage Bunshin. Around him, all his other Kage Bunshins disappeared too.
The villagers who had fled to a safe distance looked at him. When he looked up, he found that the building was falling towards him. Sand wrapped around him and pulled him away just in time. Gaara approached Naruto to see if he's alright and then he saw that the council members have gathered around. They demanded an explanation. Gaara said it was an accident, and since nobody got hurt nor died, an apology was enough. Naruto did apologize, and the 8 families that lost their homes didn't mind as much but the council members insisted to bring this matter up to the Hokage. It was a case of destruction of property, whether it's accidental or not.
Gaara continued to walk silently. Just this one small matter, had caused him to be forced to marry a girl from the leaf. He thought of what the council members told him, that the chosen girl will be waiting for his arrival at the arch. He looked along the path. The top of the arch can already be seen peeping from the horizon. He looked at Temari, who is biting her lower lip. She was clearly nervous. He sighed, and just continued.
Temari felt her heart racing as she sees more and more of the arch. She knew her little brother wasn't feeling a bit of what she was and didn't bother asking him again. They walked a while more and the chosen girl's head got into sight. Upon seeing the colour of her hair, Temari gasped. The girl was leaning against one of the arch's pillar looking at her hands. 'She must have been here long' Temari thought. The girl noticed them and immediately straightened up. They soon got into talking range.
The girl bowed at them respectfully. "Kazekage-sama. Temari-san."
Temari grinned. "I really am not dreaming huh, Sakura?"