Hullo! Okay, so this is the last chapter! I know it's a bit long, but I happen to like long chapters! (I just can't write them! ') Tee hee! Hope you like!
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Soon Kankuro got up and stretched, yawning.
"The sun's going down – I'm going to bed. 'Night, minna-san." He padded sleepily up the stairs to his room.
A few minutes later, Temari stood, only half awake. "G'night, Sakura," she mumbled. "You coming up, Gaara?"
He shook his head. "I'd like to stay out here for a little longer," he murmured, looking at his hands. His sister snorted with her eyes closed.
"Don't wake us up tomorrow before noon," she grumbled. "It's Friday night." With that, she disappeared into the house, leaving Gaara with a sleeping Sakura.
Lying on the chair with her dress bellowing out in the night wind, and her long hair being gently caressed by the air current, and her bright eyes closed, and her face peacefully at rest, and her hands laid at her side, the image Sakura created was that of a sleeping Greek or Roman goddess. (I know, that was a really long run-on sentence. ) Suppressing a sudden urge to reach out and touch her, the Kazekage sat beside her and gazed at her face. Free from the stress of the day, the kunoichi's face was softer, somehow, and less harsh.
For an hour – one quiet, peaceful hour – Gaara sat and stared at Sakura. Finally, the need the touch her overwhelmed him, and he couldn't help it. His hand moved of its own accord to brush past her closed eyes and move one silky strand of hair, tucking it gently behind her ear. He noticed that her skin was smooth and unmarred by scars of the life she lived. She stirred slightly at his touch, but as he withdrew his hand, relaxed with a sigh. The red-haired young man took the seat across from hers and settled himself into a comfortable position. He closed his eyes and, though he didn't fall asleep, withdrew to a dark corner of his mind.
Sakura woke the next morning when the first rays of sunlight shone on her face. Yawning, she swung her legs over the edge of the chair onto the ground and stood, straightening the thin material of her dress. The sash around her waist had come loosed wile she slept, so she retied it. Drawing her fingers through the air, she quickly worked out the knots.
Looking over to the other chairs, she was surprised to see Gaara sitting across from her with his black-rimmed eyes closed. Though he still looked like the Kazekage, this was a side of him she'd never seen before. With his face relaxed and not scowling or frowning, he was actually quite good-looking. (She just noticed this!) Seeing him like this, Sakura finally understood why his fangirls were willing to follow him anywhere.
Then she remembered how she'd overheard two girls talking. One had said that he looked like a panda; now, gazing at his face, she could see a slight resemblance. Suddenly and image of a panda controlling sand appeared in her mind and she giggled.
"What are you giggling about?" he demanded without opening his eyes. Sakura stepped back on instinct, but came forward again as she answered, her face red from the laughter she was still holding in.
"Nothing, Kazekage-sama," she replied, wiping her eyes. "Did I wake you…"
"I don't sleep," he answered curtly. Any other girl that he knew (with an exception of Temari, of course – she was his sister) would have asked him why not, but Sakura immediately bowed and apologized.
"Eh! Gomenasai, Kazekage-sama!" she exclaimed.
"Forget about it," he replied gruffly. "Why are you up so early?" Gesturing to the inside of the house, he added, "They won't be up until noon, unless you call them."
Sakura chuckled. "Let them sleep," she said cheerfully. "But meanwhile, are you hungry? I'm sure Temari-chan wouldn't mind if I use her kitchen."
"Hn. It's your kitchen now – you're the only one who can cook," he replied. His stomach growled, answering her question for him. She laughed and turned.
"What would you like, Kazekage-sama?"
Gaara grunted, frowning. "I'm not the Kazekage in this house," he muttered. "The Kazekage does the paperwork." Again, Sakura laughed, and Gaara decided that he liked that sound.
"Okay, then, Gaara-sama," she answered, smiling cheekily, ""you still haven't answered y question."
The not-Kazekage growled in frustration. "I don't care," he told her. "Anything. And don't call me Gaara-sama!"
Sakura grinned. "So what should I call you? Gaara-chan?" Laughing, she danced off to her room to change. It would be a pity to ruin the beautiful dress by cooking with it on.
After donning a black and red outfit, she hurried down to the kitchen and began looking through the refrigerator. She decided to make soup, and, after debating with herself, also threw in the leftover curry from last night. She'd found some chicken and beef, managed to save the last of the veggies, and had added a cup full of rice. When everything was cooked, she turned off the stove, placed a lid on the pot, and went to find Gaara.
"Oi, Gaara-sama! Breakfast is ready!" she called. He stomped in, looking at her unhappily.
"I told you to stop calling me that!" he said, frowning. Sakura huffed impatiently.
"Fine then! Gaara-san, breakfast is ready," she repeated. Slapping a hand to his forehead, he groaned loudly.
"No Gaara-san, either," he told her sternly. She looked at him in exasperation, sighing.
"So what do I call you?" she demanded.
"Gaara is fine," he replied, quietly, not wanting to be overheard. Fangirls were everywhere; even the walls had ears. Sakura put a finger to her lips and thought for a moment. A semi-evil grin grew on her face.
"Can I call you Gaara-chan, then?" she asked innocently. His eyes narrowed a tiny bit, but he nodded, sighting regretfully.
"Arigato, Ka – Gaara… chan. Let's go eat!" Grabbing his hand, she dragged him to the kitchen and, with her abnormal strength, pushed him down into a chair. As she dished out a bowl of soup (which was basically congee – congee… yum!), he rubbed his shoulders and winced.
"You certainly like exploiting your power," he grumbled. She snorted, setting the bowl down in front of him.
"What good is it if I don't use it?" she wanted to know. "At least I don't chuck chairs out the window. Or at people," she added, glancing pointedly at him. He promptly ignored her, giving his full and undivided attention to his soup.
Kankuro stumbled into the kitchen, sniffing the air hopefully. "Ohayo, Sakura-sama," he mumbled. "Is there enough to go around?"
Sakura laughed. "Of course, Kankuro-san. You should just call me Sakura, you know," she added.
"But Sakura-sama is Sakura-sama," the puppeteer insisted. Rubbing his head, he added, "Ever since you left a dent in my skull."
Temari's voice rang out. "You had it coming, Kankuro. Nobody annoys Sakura and gets away with it. That smells good, Sakura. Can I have some?"
Temari-chan!" the medic-nin exclaimed. "Kankuro-san, can you get
two more chairs, please?"
Once they were all seated, Sakura turned to Temari. "Oh, yeah! That pretty dress you lent me yesterday is in my room; remind me to put it in yours after breakfast."
The older woman beamed. "I'm glad you like it," she chirped happily. "You can have it – it doesn't fit me, anyways."
Sakura gasped, her hand flying to her mouth. "A-are you sure, Temari-chan?" she asked weakly. "I – I don't know how to thank you – "
Temari waved it off casually, saying, "Don't bother. Just do me one favor, 'kay?" She winked. "Wear it. Otouto-kun seems to like it." Sakura blushed prettily, looking at Gaara, who had suddenly decided that his empty bowl was more fascinating than the conversation. Kankuro maintained a polite silence, but Sakura could tell he was smirking behind his hand.
"Are you finished?" she asked, standing abruptly. Gathering Temari's, Kankuro's, and he bowls, she glanced uncertainly at Gaara, ho was glaring at his silverware. "Ano… Kaze – Gaara… chan…?" Without looking up, he handed her his dishes, then got up and disappeared in a swirl of sand so that nobody would see the pink tinge on his cheeks.
" 'Gaara-chan?' What's up with that?" Temari asked, grinning at the pink-haired kunoichi who was washing the dishes with a strange expression
"I'm not allowed to call him Gaara-sama, Kazekage-sama, or Gaara-san, so what else can I call him?" She shrugged. "Just Gaara is too informal, Gaara-kun reminds me too much of Sasuke-kun, and I think that Gaara-chan sounds cute."
Temari sweatdropped but said nothing. After a moment of silence (during which Kankuro departed), she grabbed Sakura's hand and dragged her upstairs.
"I've got one more outfit to show you! We'll need to get that dress, though."
Gaara was lying on his back with his gourd by his side when Sakura's voice cut through his thoughts – which, for some reason, had been full of petals and leaves.
"Ano… it's been three weeks since you began meeting these women, and Temari-chan and I think that you should chose one to stick with for now…" she murmured, fidgeting with her fingers.
Gaara sat up to glare at her – his eyes widened, and his expression softened. Temari was a genius, he thought to himself. She'd lengthened the bottom of the dress even more, so that the slightest wind picked it up and blew it around Sakura, but revealed nothing. Her hair was loose and wild, but not messy, and her arms were adorned by a single, silver armband.
He was pulled back from his staring when she held something out to him – it was a ball of smooth, round crystal, handing from a simple chain of white gold. It looked perfect lying in her pale hand.
"It's to show that you would like the woman you chose to be your… girlfriend… without causing an embarrassing scene," she explained, her eyes sparkling with tears. "Whoever gets that will be very lucky… Someone gave me one once…" Someone gave me one once…" His heart clenched.
"And? What happened?" He held out his hand, tanned by the sun and dark against hers.
"…He put it one me and then knocked me out." She dropped the necklace into his hand and turned away, sighing. She sat down next to him with her chin resting on her knees. "Any unmarried woman – and perhaps a few married ones as well – in this village will gladly accept that, Gaara-san," she commented softly. "Just choose one."
"Any woman?" he asked suddenly. She nodded and smiled, though he didn't see it. She closed her eyes, feeling the soft sand beneath her body, and the breeze brush past her. She was shocked when something cool touched her neck. Jerking back, she realized that it was the necklace.
"Wh-what are you – " Her voice was cut off as he pulled her to his side, taking her hand in his.
"You are in the village, are you not?" he asked. "Do you want to go have lunch with me?" She smiled through her tears and entwined her fingers with his, nodding.
"H-hai, Gaara…kun." He smiled gently at her and pulled her closer.
Temari grinned from her view in the house, lowering her binoculars. "For once, Tsunade-sama won a bet! Shizune-san will have a heart attack!" She skipped off to tell the Hokage.
"Oi, Shizune! Temari just told me that Gaara gave Sakura the necklace!" the blond shinobi called to her secretary. "I win! Get out the sake!"
Shizune rubbed her head and decided that today was not her lucky day, all the while wishing the new couple happiness (I know, I know. It sounds like they eloped or something… Oh well.)
Somewhere far off in a restaurant in Suna, Sakura sneezed.
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I really hope you liked it!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you so much for reading, and I'll see you later!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!