Alright you guys, I'm sorry I've kept you guys waiting this long. It's been crazy busy at school. Anyways here you guys go, chapter seven. This chapter was really hard to write for me so please forgive me if it isn't up to par. Well like always I appreciate all your reviews and I hope to get more. Anyways before I ramble on for too long just want to tell you guys if you have any ideas or whatever just email me. And if you guys have any pairing you wish me to try my hand at just ask. Well I'm done with talking, on with the story.


Desert Flowers

Chapter 7

Today the Kazekage's office was dull and dark. Little light now shown through the windows to either side of Gaara's desk. Where bright sunlight washed through on most days now only came a dull light. The light of the sun that managed to pierce through the thick gray ceiling of clouds.

Gaara stood looking out one of his windows, looking out towards the direction of Konohagakure. Something seemed to draw his vision that way.

Why am I feeling this way. This tension. Not only mines, even Shukaku seems on edge. Maybe it's just the storm. Maybe...

He looked on towards darkening skies.

A knock came from behind him. He turned around to see bright pink enter the room. Sakura always had a way of brightening any room she walked into, but today not even she could break through the gloom that settled over Suna.

"Hi there love." Sakura said enthusiastically walking to Gaara's side giving him a kiss on the lips.

"Hey there." Gaara answered. He moved closer returning the kiss with more passion.

"Slack day today at the office?" Sakura ventured after parting from the kiss.

"Yeah, with the storm coming," Gaara raised his hand and pointed out the window towards the oncoming dark cloud. "There are very few mission requests. Everyone is just hunkering down."

"So it's going to be a big storm?"

"Yeah, it gets strengthened by the mountains outside of Konoha and usually just passes over your village. When it gets here, that's when problems start. It's ironic that out here in the desert our biggest worry isn't a sandstorm but a thunderstorm." Gaara gave her a small smile. "But we have grown better prepared each time it passes."

"Alright." She smiled back and pushed him back into his chair. Before Gaara could even react she was on him. She straddled him leaning down to kiss him.

"Sakura where did this come from?" Gaara said surprised.

Sakura laughed and shushed him. "Just relax... and enjoy."

Outside the gates of Sunagakure the Konoha Eleven stood with Sasuke standing in the rear.

"Come on Hinata, I haven't seen Sakura-chan in so long, same for Gaara." Naruto almost sang in his enthusiasm.

"Naruto we're all tired, we don't have your stamina." Hinata answered. "Go ahead without us. We'll be right behind you."

"Oh... alright." Naruto gave Hinata a kiss and ran off ahead towards the Kazekage's building.

"Damn he's energetic." Kiba said speaking to no one in particular. Shino nodded in agreement.

"That he is." Neji said.

"Hey Shikamaru isn't that Temari over there?" Kiba said nodding his head in the direction he meant.

Shikamaru looked up and saw her. Everyone could plainly see that Shikamaru and Temari liked each other, just as Hinata and Naruto, but they were too shy to do anything.

"Why are you telling me?" Shikamaru answered Kiba, slowly realizing where they were heading with their comments.

"Oh come on Shika, it's obvious you like each other. You are as obvious as Hinata was." Tenten jumped into the conversation.

"Hey I wasn't that bad." Hinata said quietly. They all laughed except for Sasuke who mostly stayed to himself in the back of the group. Most of them already forgetting the Uchiha.

"Well Shika if you don't like her then you wont mind this." Ino said with a grin on her face. "HEY TEMARI." Ino screamed.

Temari quickly turned around seeing all the Leaf shinobi and ran to them. Shikamaru quietly whispered to himself. "Troublesome."

"Hey what are you guys doing here?" Temari said looking mostly at Shikamaru. No one answered, they waited on Shikamaru. Seeing that he was put on the spot Shikamaru thought he might as well roll with it.

"We came to visit everyone." Shikamaru spoke lazily.

"Really well, Kankuro is somewhere, probably a bar. And Gaara and Sakura should be in the Gaara's office. Come on I'll take you to them."

"Well Naruto went off ahead, you know him." Shikamaru said back.

"Yeah that's so Na-" Temari stopped halfway. Shikamaru had walked forward giving Temari a view of Sasuke who mostly hidden by the small group. She stared at him, the same fear that had come over her the night before while she stood looking outside of her house seeped back into her. "Why is he here?" Temari said coldly. And why am I feeling this way? Again?

Everyone turned around looking at Sasuke but he only stared back at Temari. Sasuke began walking forwards. Temari was frozen, her body would not move. Everyone tensed ready to stop Sasuke in the event anything happened. He only calmly walked forward, towards Temari.

Sasuke spoke, his voice chilling to the bone. "We better get going. Naruto is waiting for us." He continued to walk passing Temari and heading off in the direction Naruto went. Everyone followed quietly. After a few minutes of silence Hinata began telling Temari of Sasuke's return to the village.

"So he just shows up one day at the village out of the blue saying that he had left Orochimaru and that he wanted to be a Leaf ninja again." Hinata nodded. Temari looked down at the Hyuuga girl with a bewildered look. "And they just let him stay?"

"Well Naruto made sure that there would be no formal interrogation or anything like that."

"So he got off scot-free?" Temari said appalled.

Shikamaru was the one to answer now. "Basically yes." They all walked on in silence from then.

Back at the Kazekage's tower, Naruto rushed into the lobby. There was a lone receptionist.

"How may I help you?" She asked.

"Um, where is Gaara's office?"

"The Kazekage's office is on the second floor at the end of the hall to the right. But he's busy right now."

"Thanks." Naruto said ignoring the last part of what the receptionist said.

"Wait you can't go in there!"

Gaara and Sakura heard the commotion from downstairs but totally disregarded it. They were too enveloped in each other. Naruto hurried up the stairs almost running head first into Kankuro.

"Hey Kankuro."

"Naruto what you doing here?" Said the puppet master surprised at seeing an old friend.

"Visiting, everyone's here. Where's Gaara and Sakura?" Naruto panted.

"In Gaara's office but... Wait Naruto!" Kankuro called after Naruto who had run off. Kankuro gave him chase. Damn, Gaara said the he wanted no one to disturb him.

Naruto ran down the hall and turned facing the door labeled Kazekage's office. He quickly opened the door and ran in. He looked in and went wide-eyed. Sakura was still straddled on Gaara but had lost her top. Her bare back was exposed to Naruto. Kankuro walked in, totally stopping when he saw Sakura in front of him. She turned in her surprise exposing her breasts to them both.

Gaara just sat in surprise seeing his older brother and his best friend too shocked to be angry or take any action. Sakura jumped off Gaara retrieving her top from the floor and slipping it on. "Naruto I'm going to kill you." She walked up to Naruto raising a fist but the reality that she was seeing her old teammate who she had not seen in so long hit her, before she could hit Naruto. All the anger washed away from her. She jumped at Naruto hugging him. Naruto still in shock at seeing her exposed like that had not moved. And Naruto knew better than to press the issue with Sakura. He was never a fan of needless violence especially needless violence directed at him. And in the case of Sakura, needless violence was her thing, especially when it was directed at him.

"Na-Naruto it has been s-so long." Sakura said holding back the tears that fought to escape.

"What's wrong Sakura-chan you're sounding so much like Hinata." Naruto teased his bubblegum haired friend.

"You fool..." Sakura spoke her tears spilling out of her. Naruto just laughed and accept her hug. Gaara came walking around to greet his old friend. He stuck out his hand and Naruto gratefully took it.

"So what brings this impromptu visit?" Gaara smiled at the blond.

"Well we thought to visit you guys." Naruto said with his usual dumb wide grin.

"We?" Sakura said confused. As if her question summoned them, all of the Leaf ninja came walking down the hall, all except one. Leading them was Ino ecstatic to see her best friend.

"Ino-pig?" Sakura looked up at her blond friend walking in through the door.

"Well is that any way to say hi forehead girl?"

Sakura ran and hugged Ino she looked behind her and saw all her old friends and fellow ninja.

Naruto looked at their numbers noticing the absence of one of them. "Where is he?" Naruto asked to no one in particular.

"He's outside." Shino simply said.

"He didn't want to come in." Tenten smugly put.

"Well I'll go get him." Naruto said.

"Wait-" Ino looked away from Sakura hearing Naruto rush out, she tried to stop him but he was out the door before she could even react. "Naruto... this won't turn out good." Ino sighed under her breath. This won't turn out good at all.

"Who is he talking about?" Sakura inquisitively said.

"Well it's best I tell you before he comes." Ino said rather in a voice Sakura had never thought hearing coming from her headstrong friend's mouth, it was worry. "It would save so much trouble."

"What is it?... What's wrong?" Sakura said growing more worried.

"Well it's that... um... it's that we... um..." Ino stumbled over her words.

"We found him." Tenten let out.

"Who?" Sakura said more confused now than worried.

"DAMN IT... GET IN THERE NOW!" Naruto screamed from the end of the hall.

Footsteps could be heard going towards them. Everyone moved away from the door. All of them had some mixture of suspense, worry, or anticipation on their faces. They did not know what would happen now. Gaara straightened up at Sakura's side.

Through the door came Sasuke. He looked up, his hair covering some of his face. He wore his old attire from before he defected from Konoha. Sakura saw him and felt faint. She had given up hope in finding him again and there he was like a ghost from her past. She grabbed on to Gaara's arm for support. Sasuke looked at Sakura, his face emotionless. He shifted his eyes to Gaara. Gaara stared back. For a few moments all was silent. No one dared to move. Gaara replayed the night before. He had known he did not imagine those red eyes. And now he was able to place them. They were the legendary Sharingan, now more infamous than legendary. Sasuke had been there, he had been spying on them... but why? Anger rushed through Gaara's body. He stepped forward towards the Uchiha.

"Why were you here last night?" Gaara asked not masking his anger. Sand slowly rippled through the cracks of the wooden floor below them.

Sasuke only stared at him. Behind him Neji and Hinata activated their Byakugan. Lee readied himself in his stance. Tenten had her scrolls in hand. Kiba and Akamaru let out low growls. Shino only stood there letting his bugs cover his body. Shikamaru and Choji jumped next to Ino who stood ready to use her technique. Kankuro and Temari readied themselves next to each other. Naruto only stood there awestruck at this turn of events.

"ANSWER ME!" Gaara roared. More and more sand poured from the cracks of the floor. The wooden floor slowly disappeared under everyone's feet. Sasuke only stared at Gaara keeping his face expressionless. No one shifted. The air around them thick with tension and energy.

Sasuke looked back at Sakura. He moved away from the Leaf shinobi putting the wall of the office to his back. No one dare stop him.

"Come with me Sakura, you and I will continue the Uchiha legacy. Take pride in me choosing you. Leave that monster and come to me." Sasuke said outstretching his arm beckoning Sakura to his side. Gaara took a step forward but was held back by Sakura's arm on his chest. Sakura stepped forward taking Sasuke's hand.

"Don't call him a monster!" Sakura squeezed Sasuke's hand. He let out a scream as Sakura crushed his hand. She pulled him forward using her free hand to fling him to the other side of the room. Sasuke swiftly recovered standing closer now to the wall that was at his back. Sakura rushed at him hoping to catch him off guard.

"Sakura wait!" Shikamaru called from behind knowing that hand to hand combat was not a good idea with the Uchiha, and past experience reinforced that.

Sakura swung in a large arc at Sasuke's face.

"Chidori Nagashi."

She had enough time to see red eyes glaring at her before she felt a jolt of pain throughout her body, then numbness, then darkness enveloped her completely. Her limp body hit the floor with a dull thud. Her eyes stared blankly up at the roof.

"You bitch." Sasuke spat and kick Sakura's lifeless body. Her body flew limply through the air five feet to Sasuke's left.

"I'LL KILL YOU." Gaara roared. He ran at Sasuke who just stood there, waiting.

Gaara went for a straight on jab. Sasuke smirked knowing he could easily evade his attack. He made to move but found his feet glued to the ground. Tendrils of sand wrapped and around his feet, effectively cutting his movement. Sasuke could only watch as Gaara's fist connected with the side of his face. Just as quickly he was moving away from him. Sasuke flew back smashing into the wall behind him creating a small crater, cracks raced away from Sasuke marking their trail across the wall. Sasuke toppled over onto the ground. That hurt him more than he expected. Blood poured from his face. Four gaping holes the size of dimes adorned his left cheek.

Gaara stood slightly hunched over breathing heavily. Blood dripped from his closed fist. Four spikes of sand protruded from each of Gaara's knuckles. The makeshift but effective brass knuckles of sand grew longer. The spikes extended until they were three inches long.

"Next time I won't make it so shallow." Gaara taunted.

"That hurt..." Sasuke said in his toneless voice. He placed his hand on the nape of his neck. Sasuke cracked his neck moving his head in imaginary circles. From his neck flowed the curse mark. Red flame-like marks ran across Sasuke's face. It continued down the left side of his body. The holes in his face closed up healing perfectly. His previously mangled hand straightened and healed. The curse mark settled turning black once again. Deep red eyes, sharingan eyes, stared into Gaara's soft sky blue ones. "My turn." Sasuke said rushing at Gaara. Naruto jumped in between them bringing Sasuke to a halt.

"SASUKE!" Naruto screamed, his voice slightly distorted by his release of kyuubi's power. Sasuke put distance between him and Naruto. His back was now to the glass of the window. Sasuke took a quick survey of the room. All his former friends and shinobi stood there, along with the sand shinobi. Seeing the situation in front of him, even someone of his caliber couldn't stand a chance against all of them.

I could take all of them, just not with Naruto here. I'm going to have to separate them. Sasuke quickly thought to himself. "I'll settle this later." He spoke coldly, spite filling his voice. He directed it mostly towards Gaara and Naruto.

"You're not getting away." Gaara rushed forward. Sasuke formed a blur of hand seals.

Tiger seal. Gaara had enough time to think to himself before Sasuke completed his jutsu.

"Katon: Gōkakyū no Jutsu."

Crap. Gaara thought slamming his hands into the sand covered floor. A wall rushed straight up effectively blocking the attack but also blocking any chance of a counterattack. Gaara released his will over the sand, the wall fell returning to the floor.

"He got away..." Gaara said in a clear voice looking ahead of him. One of the two windows behind his desk lay broken. Some shards of glass rested on the floor. Gaara made to follow out the window but a hand gently grabbed his shoulder. He turned to see the bright blue eyes of Naruto.

"Let him go... for now." He nudged Gaara back and faced him in Sakura's direction. Ino lay over Sakura. Her hands glowed with a green chakra as she made passes over her friends unconscious body.

"She's fine, she's just unconscious." Ino spoke with a not so steady voice.

"Are you sure?" Gaara said running up and kneeling next to Ino but only looked at Sakura.

"Yes, she's just unconscious. Lets just take her to a place so she can rest." Ino stood up letting Gaara pick Sakura off the floor.

"I'm taking her to my house." With that Gaara was gone in a swirl of sand.

"We'll meet you there." Ino spoke to the empty air where Gaara was a moment before.

"Lets go." Naruto said.

"What about Sasuke?" Tenten asked.

Neji began walking towards the door but stopped. "He won't be back anytime soon. He's already well into the desert, beyond where my eyes could follow. He went that way," Neji said pointing north with his finger. "I followed him a little ways until he got into the desert, then I lost him."

"W-Well he turned eastward towards the dunes. After he passed the a small oasis north outside of town." Hinata let out in a low voice.

"You could see that far?" Neji let out not being able to suppress his amazement.

"Y-Yes, nii-sama." Hinata said looking up at her cousin. Naruto came around hugging Hinata from behind giving her a kiss on the cheek.

"Looks like you're getting rusty Neji." Naruto said mockingly knowing full well that it was not lack of skill on Neji's part put rather an improvement on Hinata's. Neji only glared at Naruto before walking out the door, Tenten following in suit. Naruto let out a smile.

"Why do you like teasing him so much?" Hinata asked her lover.

"Cause its always funny." Naruto answered giving Hinata another kiss but this time on her lips. He then spoke to everyone. "Well lets go see how Sakura is. And make sure Gaara doesn't do anything stupid." Everyone nodded in agreement. The small crowd of ninjas walked out of the office. Naruto broke off from the small group when he got to the door. He stood at the door looking back at the broken window of the office.

Baka. Sasuke... What are you thinking? Naruto thought to himself.

"Naruto-kun," Hinata's sweet shy voice rang through the hall. "Are you coming?"

"I'll be right there." Naruto took a quick look at the broken window before breaking his eyes awake from the jagged glass. Damn the Sasuke. He'll never learn.

Naruto stepped out into the hallway closing the door behind him. He looked down the hall at the shy Hyuuga girl who waited for him with endless patience. He smiled at her pushing his worry and weariness down and to the back of his mind. If he didn't, she could read it on him like a book. She and her cousin had a knack for reading people. He walked slowly to the end of the hall. Naruto could feel Hinata's gaze capturing every inch of his movement. He stood in front of her. She looked into his eyes, he could not hide the sadness in those crystal blue eyes. She looked up at him with innocent hazy white eyes.

"I'm so sorry Naruto." Hinata hugged him. Naruto rested his chin on the top of her head. She squeezed him harder. Naruto didn't say a word. He only let the girl he loved embrace him. Tears freely lept from his eyes. They fell on her hair but she did not move nor care.

"I'm alright now. Thank you Hinata," He moved her away from her keeping his hands on her shoulders. "Aishiteru." Naruto looked into her eyes for a second before pulling her into his own embrace.

"Aishiteru Naruto-kun." Hinata said laying her face in his chest.

"Come on the others are probably wondering what happened to us." Naruto said trying to put a more cheerful tone despite his actual feelings. He just did not want to worry the light eyed girl in front of him.

"Lets go." Hinata spoke softly to her blond haired love.

--

Sasuke walked to the mouth of a cave. He looked back towards the east. Far east the hidden village of Sunagakure could barely be seen, even this high in the mountains. From behind him came a voice from inside the cave.

"Sasuke, what do you think you are doing?" The voice spoke not hiding whatever anger he had towards the dark haired boy.

Sasuke did not move. "Why don't you come out of there coward."

A young silver haired man came out of the darkness. The light of the setting sun glinted off his glasses. "I'm no coward Sasuke. And you haven't answered my question."

"None of your business Kabuto." Sasuke spat.

"Really it is my business when you disappear in the middle of the night without a word, especially a week before the deadline."

"Funny you put it that way, dead-line?" Sasuke glared at Kabuto.

"Don't be smart with me, you won't really be dead." Kabuto said with a snicker.

"I won't really be alive."

Real shame that would be. Kabuto sarcastically thought.

"But like I said before I don't care. So you can take that accusing look and shove it up your ass. I'm not running away. I am no coward." Sasuke looked towards Village Hidden in Sand. "I need to take care of something before... well... do I even need to tell you." Sasuke said this in a voice rarely heard in this Uchiha. One of sadness. Although just as quickly as it came it was gone. "Now Kabuto, be a good lapdog and go tell Orochimaru that I'll be back by the deadline."

This struck a nerve with Kabuto.

I am no one's lapdog. Kabuto thought growing angrier. I won't play his little game.

"Well Sasuke, I may be a lapdog but at least I didn't lose a girl to some nobody with a demon inside of them. What does that make you?"

Kabuto had no time to react to Sasuke's attack. All that he could see was a blur heading towards his face. Sasuke's fist connected with Kabuto's jaw. His jaw and cheek bones cracked under the pressure of the hit producing a sickening noise. Kabuto flew back into the rocky wall behind him. The rock cracked as his body hit. Pieces of rock flew everywhere. Kabuto rocked forward but did not fall. He trained his eyes on Sasuke. The side of his face where Sasuke landed his punch was a mess of torn flesh and visible bone. The flesh was torn mostly away revealing a wide grin of exposed teeth, which led to jagged bone that was his jaw jutting out.

Kabuto did not divert his eyes from Sasuke. A red tinge slowly seeped into his eyes. Kabuto put a hand over his torn face covering his injuries from view. His hand glowed green for a moment and quickly subsided. When he moved his hand away, it revealed his face in perfect condition, the art of a master medic-nin.

More red seeped into his eyes, the red quickly overtaking the white until it was mostly gone save for a small circle around his iris. "You are going to regret that."

Kabuto made to rush at Sasuke but was stopped by a gently placed hand on his shoulder. The red that filled his eyes slowly subsided, although his anger still remained.

"Orochimaru-sama, please forgive me. I seem to have lost myself." As Kabuto said this he slowly backed away making sure to move out of Orochimaru's way, at no time looking into his snakelike eyes. Orochimaru stepped out of the darkness of the cave.

"Leave us Kabuto." Orochimaru hissed out, sounding as snakelike as he looked.

Kabuto walked passed Sasuke.

"That's a good lapdog." Sasuke let out, smirking.

Kabuto glared at Sasuke before smiling. "I'll be seeing you around... but not for long." Kabuto laughed before disappearing into a puff of smoke.

"So now what? Another lecture? Well I don't want to hear it." Sasuke said still angry that his fight was interrupted.

"Hmm... No." Orochimaru walked up to Sasuke. "I don't like giving lectures and I've never been one for revenge but... I wouldn't mind watching how you're going to go about this." Sasuke could feel Orochimaru's breath on his face.

Sasuke smirked. "Well I have a few ideas. But I'm going to need a few things."

Orochimaru stared down at the Uchiha, the slits of his snakelike eyes narrowing. Orochimaru let out a laugh that would leave most frozen in terror, but Sasuke only stared at him. "So Sasuke-kun," Orochimaru hissed out putting extra emphasis on kun. He moved closer to Sasuke standing right over him, the height difference was unmistakable. Orochimaru smiled as he looked down at his pupil, at his future body. "What will you need?"