Title: Water Conservation
Author: desolate butterfly
Genre: romance, smut, yaoi
Pairing: Naruto/Gaara
Rating: M for non-graphic sex
Summary: The people of Konoha take their water for granted. Gaara objects in an interesting way.

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Gaara stands in the marketplace watching the citizens of Konoha go about their shopping and selling. It is raining—has been raining since Gaara woke up that morning—for hours and hours, and now it is early evening and the grey clouds have yet to exhaust themselves of water to pour down on the village. It also doesn't look like they will be stopping any time soon.

Gaara has never seen so much water. They have rain in the desert when it is the appropriate season. A sporadic storm that lasts thirty minutes or so at most, and dumps a deluge on the sands, so that the few scrub brushes that grow will be satisfied, and Gaara's people can collect the precious drops for storage during the dry months. This rain is nothing like that.

There is no fury, no gusting winds or flashes of heat lightning across the sky. The rain is steady, but not harsh or slanted, and it just…fell. From the sky. All day.

Most of the shoppers are running away from the rain to duck under awnings and inside buildings, shaking the drops off their hair and clothing with looks of mild irritation of their faces. Gaara watches them curiously from his spot in the open, where he holds his cupped hands out to catch the cold droplets and bring them to his mouth every so often to sip.

Water drips off of his hair and down into the back of his shirt, sliding coldly down his spine. It thunks against the dry dust of his gourd, wetting the sand inside until it's heavy like clay. Water soaks through his clothes and into his skin and Gaara feels the moisture on his body like an alien thing, alive and breathing, and travelling on his body like the sand armour that protects him; only the slip and slide of the rain doesn't feel gritty or hard on his skin like sand.

Across the street, a woman takes a broom handle and pushes the water that has gathered on the awning off into the street with a muted huff of annoyance. Gaara stares at this, mystified at the casual waste of resources. In Suna, every drop of water is drawn carefully from deep under the ground, treated and counted and recycled to be treated again. In Suna, rainfall is gathered in basins and filtered through special moss imported from Rock Country so it's drinkable, and Gaara remembers the children running out of their houses to stand in the street, mouths open to the sky, on those rare days when it would rain. And then their mothers would call them back in before they got struck by lightning, yelling mouths also pointed towards the sky as they yanked their children by the arms and elbows and ears.

Gaara remembers watching this from the window in his room, because going outside meant that no one would venture out with him except for the assassins always following him. Not even for a taste of rain, would the citizens of Suna risk coming across Gaara of the Desert.

He wonders if this would change now, if he were to walk out into the streets of Suna during a rain storm. Of course, now that he is Kazekage, he has guards following him everywhere instead of assassins. He likes to think that if he were so inclined, the children would ignore the sight of their Kazekage wandering about in the rain in favour of drinking their fill. More likely they'd stare and his Captain of the Guard would hover disapprovingly until he went back inside, out of the confusion of the storm where it would be much harder to track his movements. But at least they wouldn't throw rocks.

That was something at least, Gaara thinks.

A familiar figure in orange appears coming at a rapid pace towards him, and Gaara nods to Naruto as he jogs up, rain flattening his hair in sodden spikes over his forehead-protector and smacking wetly against his whisker-marked cheeks as he runs.

"Hey, I've been looking for you everywhere," Naruto pants, putting a hand to his stomach. "What are you doing standing in the rain? You're getting soaked! Let's get out of the wet. The Hag will yell at me if you get sick on your first official diplomatic appearance here, you know, and I've already been yelled at twice today."

His words burst from him in a rush, tumbling over each other and Gaara struggles to make them out over the drumming of the rain. When he finally deciphers them, he only shrugs a shoulder in reply. He'd never gotten sick from being in a bath or a shower, those rare times water conservation allowed the people of Suna to take showers. Why should standing in the rain make any difference?

Beside him Naruto sighs and shifts his feet.

"Look man," he says, "At least come back with me to eat something. Then you can camp out on the roof all night if you want to. Just remember that if you get the sniffles, it's not my fault."

Gaara allows himself to be pulled by the wrist and splashed through various puddles until they reach Naruto's apartment. Once there he drips unconcerned on Naruto's hardwood floor while the blond rushes into the bathroom to grab some towels. He tosses one to Gaara, who looks at it curiously before setting it on the floor to soak up the water pooled beneath his feet. He sets the gourd down by the front entrance by their discarded shoes and brings a hand to his lips to suck the moisture from his palm and fingers.

Unaware of this, Naruto shrugs out of his wet jacket and shirt and spreads them over his kitchen chairs to dry. His pants makes a squishing sound as he moves, barefooted, around the kitchen, pulling open draws and setting the rice cooker down on the counter. Gaara rings the water from his coat into the gourd, hoping a bit of the moisture will remain trapped in the sand until he comes home. His tunic follows suit, and soon Gaara is left in only his mesh shirt and loose pants which sag with the weight of the water soaked into the heavy cloth.

Over in the kitchen, Naruto is spilling most of the rice on the floor in his attempt to get it into the top of the cooker. He swears under his breath as he slips on rice grains that have become wet under his feet, and Gaara watches until Naruto makes a frustrated growl and then comes to help.

"Oh hey, thanks buddy," Naruto says absently, as Gaara takes the rice from him and pours it neatly in the cooker. There's a sheen of rain water on Naruto's forearm, and the blond frowns at it and raises a hand to wipe it off onto the floor when Gaara suddenly grasps the arm at the elbow.

Naruto stiffens and glances around him, like he's looking for a disturbance. He turns his head obviously in the direction of the gourd but the lack of sand rattling in its depths seems to calm him a bit so he relaxes his arm into Gaara's grip.

"Something wrong?" he asks, casually.

Gaara stares hard at him, and then at the arm in his grasp. "You shouldn't waste it," he states.

"Waste what?" Naruto looks confused until Gaara lifts his arm a bit and the glaze of rainwater catches the light, sliding in sparkly drops down towards Naruto's elbow. "The water? But, er…what do I do with it then?"

"You drink it," Gaara says, and since all the moisture has been sucked free of his own palms, Gaara bends his head towards Naruto's arm and sucks up the water that's gathered there.

Naruto's sharp inward breath at the action confuses Gaara, and he steps back, uncertain. But then Naruto is smiling and moving closer again and pulling at Gaara's shirt which he allows the man to remove without protest.

"How about this," Naruto is saying while he brings his own mouth down to suck at the water clinging to Gaara's neck and collarbone, "You drink from me, and I'll drink from you, and then nothing will be wasted."

Gaara can't really find anything wrong with this plan, so he follows Naruto to the kitchen floor where they sprawl amongst the hard beads of rice and strip each other to get at more spaces of wet skin. At one point, Gaara finds himself lapping water from the hollow in Naruto's neck while the other sucks the wet strands of his hair into his mouth. The sensation of another person's mouth on his skin feels supremely different from his own mouth on his skin, and Gaara finds it hard to catalogue the feeling. It's warm, somehow, like burning, but in a way that makes Gaara shiver. Strange.

Once Gaara's pants are removed, Naruto seems to concentrate overly on one specific area to suck the moisture from. Gaara thinks about informing Naruto that this isn't really efficient, except that his body seems to really like Naruto's mouth there, and Gaara's panting too hard to actually say anything at all.

The grains of rice are hard and poky beneath him, but Naruto's weight on him, and the pleasant warm buzzy feeling as they rub against each other is a good distraction. Rainwater turns to sweat and when Naruto licks a drop from Gaara's nose and pushes hard against him, he finds that his body can make yet another kind of wetness emerge.

They lick that up too, saltier than sweat and almost bitter, and then Naruto is pulling Gaara up and flicking the rice bits off his back, and urging him over to the couch where he wraps them both in blankets and sits, tracing patterns on Gaara's naked skin.

Eventually, Naruto falls asleep, and Gaara watches him breathe, listening to the patter of rain against the roof.

He remembers Naruto's promise that he could go back outside after eating, if he wanted to, but the blond has an arm locked comfortably around Gaara's waist, and he decides to stay put for a while.

It will probably still be raining tomorrow, after all.

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fin

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