It was boiling hot in the forest, even in the shade.

Lee finished his five hundred roundhouse kicks and stopped for a break, breathing hard. He looked at the edge of the clearing, where Gaara stood silently, arms crossed, obviously looking at the ground and not at Lee himself.

Lee walked closer. "Hello, Gaara-kun," he greeted the guest to the training ground.

Gaara didn't say anything, didn't look up.

"It's an Invigoratingly Hot Summer's Day, isn't it?" Lee continued blissfully, taking a long gulp from his canteen, and then waving it toward Gaara in an offering of sorts.

Gaara's eyes moved to him. Nothing else even twitched.

The canteen was capped and set down again. "You're wearing all those layers and clothes, Gaara-kun. If you're going to be here long, wouldn't it be more comfortable to take some of it off? And your gourd?"

The eyes narrowed.

Lee smiled. "I mean, of course you would keep it near you…but it must be heavy…"

Gaara moved his eyes away and said quietly, "I am more powerful than heat."

Lee thought this over. Was Gaara trying to say, 'I grew up in a desert, I can over come heat'? Lee replied, "But the desert's dry heat is not the same with the forest's humidity, is it, Gaara-kun?"

No response.

"So, while you are adapting to the humidity and forest here, perhaps it would be more fun to be cooler than the desert itself."

Gaara seemed to think about this for a long time. Then, his chin dipped slightly in a nod, and his pale fingers began moving up and down, unclasping some things and unbuckling others. When he was bare to the waist, he stood with his arms at his sides and his gourd touching the backs of both his legs.

Lee assumed that Gaara fixed his eyes on him for confirmation that this was what he had meant. He nodded, did his Good Guy pose, and said, "I'll return to training now. Make sure to stay out of the sun, or else you'll get a burn."

Gaara blinked at him.

"But, naturally, you already knew that." Lee did a mock-salute and went back out into the sun, wishing that he could stay in the shade and get out of his own jumpsuit.


A/N: And you just know that Lee thought to himself, 'Wow, Gai-sensei was right. I can't believe that strategy worked! Thank Kami-sama for skin!'