Everyone knows I don't own Naruto, right?
Author: desolate butterfly
Pairings: Gaara/Kiba, Naruto/Gaara if you squint, implied Shikamaru/Temari
Rating: PG 13 for language
Summary: In which Kiba hates Suna and Akamaru doesn't help.
Kiba hated Suna.
It was too hot, too sunny, and too windy, with too little trees for Akamaru to mark, and too little rivers for Kiba to dunk his tired feet in after a long day. There was also too little for Kiba to do, since it had unanimously been decided that he would be unable to attend the diplomatic talks currently being orchestrated by Suna's foreign affairs council.
Kiba scowled and thought back to Shino's flat voice saying—"We thought it best that you stay away from the upcoming meetings. We don't want to have to deal with anymore accidents."—and Hinata's blush as she slowly nodded her head.
"It's not that we don't want you there Kiba-kun," she had murmured, "it's just that we think the talks might go smoother if you and Akamaru didn't attend. A-And you'd probably be really bored anyway, right?"
Akamaru gave a wet huffing sigh beside him, and Kiba reached out absently to scratch behind his ears.
'Man, you let your dog pee on the pant leg of one Sand diplomat and you get kicked out for life.'
"It's not Akamaru's fault that guy looked so much like a stump," Kiba grumbled out loud. "Suna needs more trees."
Akamaru barked a lazy agreement and flopped over on his side in the yellowish, scratchy grass that covered most of the parts of Suna that weren't desert. Kiba folded his hands behind his head and toppled down on his back, puffing his cheeks out at the heat of the sun on his face. His tribal paint itched and he would probably get a strange sunburn surrounding the marks on his cheeks.
Still, it was amusing to think about the kind of tan that Shino would come back with, as he had refused to part with his sunglasses (understandable) and his high collar-jacket (less understandable) while in Suna. Kiba smiled and closed his eyes, trying to picture Shino with a strip of bronze forehead and a pale outline around his eyes leading to a brown nose and a blindingly white chin and neck.
Chuckling to himself, Kiba added a sunburnt nose and tan-lines in the shape of a hitai-ate to his mental portrait of Shino.
'Serves him right for kicking me out like a kid or something.'
Kiba opened his eyes a second later to find a set of dark-rimmed pale-green eyes staring down at him.
He sat up quickly, brushing some dust off his shirt while the kazekage of Suna watched with a blank expression on his face.
"Were you sleeping?" Gaara asked, and Kiba really wished that Gaara had eyebrows so he could tell whether the guy was frowning or not.
"Ah…no, not me. I was just resting my eyes, ha ha!" Kiba said, grinning widely. He turned to Akamaru and hissed why didn't you warn me someone was coming? out of the corner of his mouth.
Akamaru whined and flopped his tail against the ground in the doggy-equivalent of a shrug. Kiba gave Akamaru a glare and then turned back to Gaara, who wasn't giving any indication that he had heard Kiba's whispered conversation with the nin-dog. Which really didn't mean anything, because Gaara's expression rarely gave away what he was thinking.
"So um," Kiba floundered for a topic that wouldn't get him blasted with sand, "what brings you out here Gaa—Kazekage-sama? Shouldn't you be listening in on the diplomatic talks?"
Gaara stared silently at Kiba for a moment, and he wondered if he should be standing up in the kazekage's presence. It did feel kind of awkward, sitting and staring up at someone you were talking to, and Kiba didn't like the vulnerability the position afforded him. But, on the other hand, getting up would mean dislodging Akamaru's front legs from his lap. And Akamaru was heavy and decidedly not moving.
Luckily, Gaara made Kiba's inner debate a moot point when he stopped staring and took a seat on the other side of the Inuzuka boy.
"They kicked me out," the red-haired nin confessed.
Kiba's eyes widened. "They can do that to the kazekage?"
"Not technically," Gaara clarified. "But it was suggested that I find something else to do. Apparently I offended the envoy from Grass by asking how it was possible for her to grow a mustache."
"…She has a mustache?"
"Ah, I see you are curious about her strange ability as well." Gaara drew his knees up to his chest and looked out across the field to where the patchy sections of grass ended and the real desert began. "I wondered if it were a jutsu, but I was unable to determine what the purpose of such a jutsu would be."
"Ah." Kiba wondered if he'd actually fallen asleep and was dreaming this, or if too much sun had finally caused him to hallucinate. The conversation was too surreal for words.
"Well," he said, "If it's any consolation, they kicked me out too. I hear those things are kind of boring anyway."
"Oh they are," Gaara continued. "But usually Temari gives me paperclips to stack while I wait for everybody to stop arguing. She says it's not polite to just dismiss the stupid ideas out of hand. I have to pretend to listen to them for at least ten minutes before I can say 'no'."
"Temari…that's your sister, right?" Kiba leered at Gaara. "I hear that she and Shikamaru are knockin' boots. That true?"
Gaara just looked at him, face blank.
"Yeah! It means, uh…" Kiba's sense of self-preservation finally caught up with his mouth. "Nevermind! So, are you enjoying your position as kazekage? Apart from the boring meetings, I mean."
Gaara pursed his lips in thought and Kiba watched him curiously. He hadn't really spoken much to the kazekage before—once at the chuunin exams when he scared the fuck out of Akamaru and threatened to kill him and his team, and briefly a few days ago when Team Eight had arrived in Suna. He had to admit, this wasn't what he had expected from the once mad container of Shukaku.
Frankly, he expected more hurting and sand in uncomfortable places.
"I am doing adequately," Gaara replied, finally. "There are still those who fear me, but as long as I am permitted to protect them, it poses no problem. Naruto-kun told me that it's worth it, protecting the bonds you have. Even if I'm not sure yet what I'm gaining, I trust Naruto-kun to tell me the truth."
Kiba smiled a little at that.
'He's changed a lot, hasn't he Akamaru?'
As if on cue, the huge nin-dog rolled off of Kiba's legs and leaned its head over to deliver a sloppy wet lick to Gaara's hand.
'Uh oh.' Kiba shot a nervous glance at the kazekage.
Gaara was staring at his hand, which was now covered in dog saliva. He shook it a little.
"Your dog licked me," he said, monotone.
Kiba bit his lip and then pasted a wide grin on his face.
"Yeah well…uh…" 'Dammit, what to say?'
"I am not a food item."
"He doesn't think you're food!" Kiba protested, flailing a bit. "Akamaru likes you that's all. He's just showing you that he enjoys your company."
Gaara blinked, but didn't comment more. Akamaru whined at him hopefully, trying to indicate that ear scratches were now in order, but Gaara didn't appear to understand the whines like Kiba did.
Sighing, Kiba placed a hand on Akamaru's ruff and tugged him away from the confused Sand nin. Apparently, a change of subject was in order.
"About people fearing you…"
Gaara's eyes focused on his and Kiba had to swallow past the lump in his throat in order to continue.
"You just have to keep going at it," he finished. "Lots of people are scared of my fangs, or of Akamaru now that he's big, but once they get to know us, they relax. So don't worry. People won't be afraid of you forever. Not the people that matter anyway."
Gaara was silent for a long while, and Kiba was beginning to worry that he'd overstepped his bounds.
'Oh man, they never should have sent me on a diplomatic mission. The only thing worse would have been sending that crazy bitch Anko. Even Naruto's better at this than I am!'
Akamaru whined for more ear scratches at his side, and Kiba turned to give them, grateful for the chance to stop looking at Gaara's expressionless face. He could still feel those pale eyes burning into his back though.
After a few moments, Kiba gained the courage to turn around. He started to move his neck, but a sudden, damp pressure on his cheek stopped him. Kiba's eyes widened and he sat very still.
'That isn't…he can't possibly be…oh SHIT.'
Gaara's tongue swiped a careful line from his chin to right above his ear. It was hot and wet and Kiba had to control the whimper trying to emerge from his throat. After he had finished that one lick, Gaara pulled away, and the sudden absence made Kiba shiver, enough though it was still almost unbearably warm out. He brought a hand slowly to his cheek.
"You taste salty," Gaara observed, before standing up. "We shall talk later."
And with that, the kazekage was gone, moving back across the field to the collection of houses and shops that made up Suna. Kiba watched him go with a stunned expression on his face. Akamaru nuzzled at his hand and he petted the beast's nose absently.
"What the fuck was that about?" he muttered, shaking his head.
With a frustrated huff, Kiba returned to his sky-watching position on the ground. He was going to kill Shino for kicking him out of the meetings. After he got his breath back. Eventually.
Any commentary is appreciated.