Title: Shukaku Love

Author: pawsbells

Characters/Pairing: Haruno Sakura and Sabaku no Gaara

Type: Continuous (InComplete)

Genre: Romance/Humor

Word Count: 5819

Rating: M (Contains content suitable for mature teens and older)

Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Kishimoto-san.

Summary: She should never have extended her help to him. It was supposed to be a simple healing but it was anything but. Now he was chasing her around the countryside in his bestial form and she still had no idea what she had done to merit his attention.

Chapter Last Revised on: 10/07/08

Chapter One

Haruno Sakura was having a very bad day.

'In fact,' the pink-haired kunoichi thought as she leapt nimbly from tree branch to tree branch in what she was starting to see as a doomed effort in escape, 'this was rapidly degenerating into the day from hell.'

It was all her fault actually. None of this would have happened if she had just headed straight back for the safety of Konohagakure. But no, being the almighty second most powerful medic-nin of Konoha that she was, she just had to poke her nose where it didn't belong and stop to play the part of a Good Samaritan.

Kindness just did not pay as well as it had once upon a time, and all Sakura got for her random act of good deed for the day was a long bloody slash down her arm as well as what she now realized was going to be a one-way ticket to hell.

The female kunoichi cursed herself for being so softhearted; Naruto was right, her sensitive trait was going to turn around and bite her in the ass one day, only she had never thought that her blonde fox brother would be so accurate in the literal sense.

A loud growl erupted from somewhere behind the twenty year old, the sound so thunderous that she could feel the leaves around her shake from the vibration. Worst still, the ever present slither of sand became even louder if possible. That could only mean one thing.

He was closing in on her.

Sakura barely managed to squelch the feeling of blind panic and instead worked on pumping more chakra into the soles of her feet. It would do her no good to go into hysteria now; she needed all her wits around her if she even hoped to pull out of this episode fully intact.

She doubted that would be the case though.

As it was, Sakura was sure that one single misstep from her and it would all be over. He was that near. The pink-haired kunoichi grimaced as she quickly considered her circumstances. It was not looking good at all. She was returning from the completion of her one-man mission and was still a good two days away from Konohagakure. It would be impossible for her to maintain this sort of insane speed for the next forty-eight hours, and combined with her apparent fatigue from her earlier assignment, her exhausted body was already starting to feel the strain as Sakura entered the forth hour of this high-speed chase.

Perspiration dripped from her temples and her pale face showed her physical distress as she forced herself forward and to not think of the certain death that was sure to await her behind. Sakura wasn't planning to give up just yet; she could just imagine the look on the face of her shishou if news came back to the Godaime that her prodigious student had been eaten alive by the Shukaku. Morbidly she just knew that her teacher would find a way to resurrect her just to strangle her to death herself for being so careless.

Sakura gritted her teeth and groaned inwardly as she tried to increase her speed once more. To her dismay, he seemed to be keeping up with her with almost no effort at all; it was as if he was toying with her, enjoying the thrill of the hunt. In fact, he seemed to be inching nearer towards her!! Sakura hissed as her heart pounded with adrenaline and increasing fear. Really, she had only herself to blame for this entire fiasco.

Why, oh why, did she have to go and help the 5th Kazekage?

Gaara was seeing the world in a most glorious haze of red.

Bloodlust. Instincts. Mate.

The Shukaku within quivered with fierce anticipation. By stroke of luck, he had found her, and now all he had to do was to mark her, claim that tantalizing blood scent as his, and mate her.

He lifted his great head to sniff the air; inhaling through his snout and tasting the scent of her on his tongue. She was tiring rapidly; intermingling with the siren call of her blood he could smell the increasing amount of lactic acid that was accumulating within her body, but yet she still pushed herself in an effort to increase the distance between them. Gaara was amused—and excited.

His female was both determined and strong, to have survived his relentless pursuit for four hours straight.

It was just too bad for her that he was stronger, and even more determined to capture her than she was to evade him.

The tailed beast rumbled its fierce demand within his mind, loud and unrelenting. Gaara focused his vision on the slender female but a mere hundred feet in front of him. It was time to end the chase. The Shukaku vessel increased his speed drastically, closing in on his pink-haired prey in no time.

Eighty feet.

Fifty feet.

She seemed to realize that he was getting nearer, and threw herself forward with one last burst of speed.

He was giving her no chance.

Thirty feet.

Ten feet.

She chanced a desperate glance back, and her brilliant emerald eyes widened with fear at his overwhelming proximity.

He grinned, a slash of fangs and lips.

And pounced.

Oh god. Oh god. Oh god.

The human-sized Shukaku was but a few feet away from her when she last turned her head to glance at its progress mere seconds ago. She could swear that her blood had frozen up then; despite the fact that Gaara had not transformed into the massive form of the Shukaku; the human-sized version of the sand Tanuki was just as terrifying.

It had all started a few hours ago when she had run across the injured Kazekage. Despite not having seen him for almost five years, Sakura had instantly recognized that blood red 'ai' character on the left side of his forehead, not to mention that distant charcoal-rimmed jade gaze. Only Gaara could look as if he could hardly care less even when he had just been bitten by a King Cobra, but not for Sakura. She just couldn't leave the Suna shinobi alone and nice meddlesome medic-nin that she was, she had immediately offered to use the simplified version of her self-created poison extracting jutsu to remove the potent poison from his body.

Sakura was pretty sure that Gaara didn't remember her from those years ago, and that it was only for the leaf symbol on her hitai-ite that he had silently consented to her request to heal him. Konoha and Suna had been allies for almost seven years now, after all. The extraction had been a success; the poison hadn't traveled too far into Gaara's system, and to Sakura's fascination, the Shukaku within him had been slowly nullifying the effects of the venom even before she had removed them.

Her work thus done, Sakura had cheerfully pronounced Gaara healthy again and had received the male's slight nod of appreciation when she made the biggest mistake of her life.

She cut herself accidentally.

It wasn't even a small nick; but a long slash from elbow to wrist when the cloth encasing for her set of kunai ripped and pressed the sharp blade of the weapon against her soft flesh. Immediately preoccupied with the sudden pain and the blood, she hadn't really understood at first that sudden stillness, and then the soft slither of sand that seemed to completely occupy her hearing. It was only when she lifted her head in confusion and saw Gaara layered in sand that everything became frighteningly clear.

She quickly remembered the Kazekage's strange fixation with blood even when they were but preteens, and how very well those encounters always ended.

Sakura wasn't very proud of what she had done right after that, but upon witnessing Gaara's immediate and unwarranted transformation and having first hand knowledge of what said dangerous shinobi could do, the pink-haired kunoichi had quickly fallen into the instincts of prey and did the first thing that she should not have done: run like hell.

It was a really stupid thing to do now that she thought of it, for any hopes of Gaara leaving her alone in favor of rampaging all over the countryside was quickly lost when the Shukaku got into the chase. Not that her regrets were helping her at all at the moment but-


Sakura squeezed her eyes shut and gasped when she felt the inevitable happen. A huge impact smashed against her mid-jump and the pink-haired kunoichi was thrown off course immediately, missing the next tree branch that she was supposed to land on. Emerald eyes widened as she started to fall from the canopy of tall trees with the great weight still pressed threateningly behind her, and belatedly, Sakura started to wonder if she would die before she hit the floor…or if the Shukaku would crush her to bits unto the ground. Either way…

Was this going to be the end then?

Sakura watched in a state of suspended shock as the greenery of the forest floor rushed up before her peripheral vision to greet her one last time. She squeezed her eyes shut.

God, she was only twenty! She didn't want to die-


They landed on something soft. Sakura opened her eyes gingerly to meet the bed of sand that had cushioned their fall. She could only gape with shock.

She was alive!

Sakura's budding relief was quickly doused when he shifted. She stiffened quickly. She was not out of danger yet. The pink-haired kunoichi tried to still her rapidly pounding heart and calm her harsh breathing as she quickly contemplated what to do next.

She could try to use her superhuman strength to punch him away from her, though she really doubted that would accomplish anything other than to piss him off even further, not to mention that her chakra reserves were on an all time low at the moment and harnessing them for that one solid hit would probably deplete her energy so much so that she wouldn't even be able to escape…

Or she could stay put and see what Gaara wanted from her.

The latter was the only choice that made sense; after all, she reasoned, if he wanted to kill her he would not have formed the sand bed in the first plac-

Something wet and tentative touched the sensitive flesh at the back of her neck then, and Sakura's breath hitched with surprise.

What the- I can't- Did he just licked-

"Anou…Kazekage-sama?" Sakura squeaked out at the male clearly situated behind her. She received a muted growl for all her careful efforts at politesse and respect.

And then he bit her.

She jerked and gasped. It wasn't a real bite, but he had scraped his teeth hard enough against the fragile skin of her neck to be considered as a painful nip. What the hell? Was he planning to eat her or something? Was that why he did not kill her on the spot? Was she going to be sushi? Panicking slightly, Sakura started to thrash about.

She was just as quick to still when she felt teeth latch warningly over her neck again. Sakura shut her eyes once more. Crap. She could see her epitaph already. Eaten alive by her own good intentions. Let this be a solemn warning to all.

Fortunately for Sakura, Gaara did no such thing. He started to release her slowly instead, and Sakura opened her eyes cautiously when she felt him straddle her hips firmly and sit up. Was he going to get up and let her up too?

She could barely prevent the sharp intake of surprise from escaping her lips when he flipped her over suddenly. Earlier facedown and all but pressed intimately to the ground, she was now exposed to the glaring sunlight and it took a moment for her to adjust her vision to the male who was holding her captive. Wide, slightly unfocused emerald met intense jade and Sakura had no idea what to make of the almost fierce look that he was currently regarding her with. Gaara had changed back to his human form now that he had her in his grasp, and it was all Sakura could handle when he suddenly lifted her injured left arm to meet his scrutiny.

To say that Sakura was stupefied beyond belief would be an understatement. Why the hell was Gaara so fascinated with her wound? It wasn't a very deep cut; in fact, the wound had already clotted and there was nothing but small streaks of dried blood left on her arm. He seemed to find the crimson-browned rivulets interesting though…and Sakura watch incomprehensively as the strange male whom she barely even knew tilted his head closer as if to inhale the coppery scent of her blood.

Sakura started violently when he started to lick tentatively at the wound. Totally shocked, the immobilized Konoha kunoichi protested his action by trying to rip her arm from his hold. Gaara merely tightened long fingers around her left wrist and his charcoal-rimmed jade eyes shot straight to hers. All around her, Sakura felt the sand shift warningly and the resigned kunoichi forced herself to still once more. God, it wasn't that she didn't want to do anything else, to escape, but Sakura knew better than to try. It was not like she could easily forget about the unstable and cold-blooded killer currently holding her captive when he was practically sitting on her.

He must have been satisfied with her temporary obedience, for he went back to what he had been occupied with earlier, and Sakura could not help but watch dry-mouthed as he meticulously lapped away all the blood from her arm like a giant feline. It was an odd experience, feeling his wet raspy tongue moving slowly against her soft skin again and again and watching his utmost attention on her wound made her abdominal muscles clench in a way that she had never experienced before. The female ninja frowned at the foreign feeling and was only too glad to have her arm back when he was done with it.

Then he started to pay all his attention to her once more, and Sakura decided that she didn't like that one bit either. The pink-haired female was thinking of all the possible scenarios that could happen if she used her superhuman sucker punch on him when his face was suddenly looming right before hers, his eyes staring into hers with utmost intent. He was so near that she could see the slivers of pale gold in those light green orbs. She froze. It was a good thing that she had received all those trainings from shishou, or surely she would have been reduced to a blabbering mess by now.

When in the presence of a predator, do Not look away from its eyes.

It took all of her willpower not to turn away from him in submission but she had done it. Feeling a little proud of herself for her small victory, Sakura decided to try her luck with Gaara once more. "Anou…Kazekage-sama?" Sakura whispered even though their noses were nary an inch apart. "Why are you doing this?"

Predictably, he didn't answer her, just continued to look hard into her eyes, as if searching for something. Sakura was starting to feel a little freaked out.

'What the hell,' Inner Sakura, who had been suspiciously inconspicuous for the past four hours, finally spoke up then. 'What are you waiting for? Attack him now! Can't you see that he's going to kill us?! Who cares if he is the Kazekage and we have to maintain diplomatic relations with him? He was the one who sat on us first!! Attack first and talk later!'

"Don't do it."

That soft, silky voice jolted Sakura back to reality. She did not know that she had clenched her right fist and focused her remaining chakra onto it until she felt one of his hands easily close over her smaller one. Sakura turned her face aside and watched dumbly as his large, long-fingered hand engulfed hers completely. They both knew that he could easily crush those fragile bones anytime he felt like it. Sakura started to shake slightly from fear and her inner self screeched all kinds of insult at the redheaded male currently all but leaning over her.

Sakura was scared out of her wits, and worst still, she did not know how to react to his offensive. In fact, she couldn't, for in all truth Gaara was doing nothing but physically restraining her. He wasn't attacking at all and that was what made the pink-haired kunoichi so nervous and uncertain to act. It would have been much easier for her to respond had he been aggressive but that was not what he was doing and his current uncharacteristic behavior threw her in for a loop. Confusion warred with fear and was winning.

What was going on here?

Sakura decided that she did not want to know. This whole chain of events from her healing Gaara to his capture of her was nothing if not strange. Not that she gave much thought about the matter, but she had never expected for him to be the type to go about climbing atop of people just to immobilize them. Gaara always seemed so untouchable, and she would have thought that his ever present sand would have done the job for him.

It was really, really odd.

Sakura shook her head inwardly. What was she thinking, analyzing the situation at a moment like this? She needed to get herself out of this predicament, quick, but it seemed that nothing short of his willing release of her would accomplish that.

Feeling slightly calmer now she was (almost) sure that he wasn't planning to murder her, she turned her gaze back to his.

"Please let me go."

Something flashed in his eyes at her soft request, and his grip on her tightened. Once again, a mystified Sakura was left to wonder what that could mean. Surely-


It took awhile for her to process that softly uttered word. Inner Sakura started to shriek furiously and wave her hands angrily. Sakura narrowed her eyes at the Kazekage above her.

"What do you mean 'no'?" The kunoichi demanded as her emerald eyes started to light up with feminine indignation. She had about enough of this weird encounter and she wanted out, now! She was exhausted, she was dirty and she wanted to go home. She was not in the mood to wrestle on the ground with insane, sand-wielding, demon-hosting ninjas who could only speak in monosyllables and seemed to have developed a sudden liking for using her as target practice!

"I demand that you let me go now, Gaara! Did you forget who I am, Kazekage? The 5th Hokage is not going to be happy about this, you hear me? Let me go! Don't make me get nasty!"

He only appeared slightly amused by her bluster, and that was what set the pink-haired kunoichi off. She growled softly and started to struggle under him, trying to buck him off her but to no avail. She was equally quick to still when he easily pressed her down with his body, so much so that it felt like they were intimately joined from chest to thigh. Sakura swore that she could feel his sleek muscle definition through their clothes then, and the female ninja felt herself turning pink.

Good god, this was the Sabaku no Gaara, for god's sake! It was mind boggling to Sakura that she was paying attention to such personal details of the deadly shinobi. Frantic to get him off her as well as to get as far away from him as possible so as not to think of such things ever again, Sakura quickly brought up her unrestrained left hand to shove at his shoulder. She was inwardly surprised when her hand met flesh and not the wall of overprotective sand barrier like she had expected.

What surprised her even more was the electrifying jolt that her voluntary contact with him had caused. She gasped and pulled back quickly, her emerald orbs flying up to meet his triumphant ones. She frowned in increasing confusion.

"Why are you doing this?" Sakura questioned. "Why can't you let me go?"

It was the question that Gaara had been waiting for her to ask. His jade gaze gleamed with hidden conquest and Sakura watched stunned as he leaned even nearer so much so that his lips touched the delicate shell of her ear. Sakura shuddered at the spine-tingling sensation of his warm breath against the sensitive skin behind her ear, so preoccupied with the intense feeling that she almost didn't catch his next words.

"Because, you are mine now."

He pulled back slowly, and a bewildered Sakura could only watch as he moved nearer to her once more, his intense focus now on her slightly parted lips. She started to panic when she realized his next intent.

He is going to-

He leaned down and caught her lips with his.

Mine. Mine. Mine.

The Shukaku chortled exultantly within his mind, and Gaara shoved the irritating demon to the deepest recess of his consciousness. After all, how was he going to enjoy her lips if he had an annoying voice that kept ringing in his head? The Suna shinobi ignored the growls of protests from the Tanuki and instead concentrated on getting the little kunoichi to respond to his kiss.

Instinctively, he pressed himself even closer to the female and started to coax her out of the state of shock that she was in. The powerful redhead licked her soft pink lips delicately before moving on to nip and suck on the side of her mouth, silently encouraging her to react to his sensual ministrations. The lightning bolt of attraction that he had felt when their lips touched had been undeniable, and he needed her to acknowledge that as well. Impossible as it was, the physical attraction was the only form of persuasion that he had on her to convince her to form the bond with him, and low as it was, there was no way that he was not using it as an advantage.

He needed to form the mating bond with her.

She started to shift under him, and Gaara tensed slightly, preparing himself to be forcefully pushed away from her. The Shukaku would not interfere with its Shield of Sand, in fact, this kunoichi lying beneath him was probably going to be the only person that he would not, and could not harm. The Tanuki demon within him would protect her just like it did him, all because it had seen her as their mate.

Gaara had known that this day would come; the Shukaku had been looking for her ever since he had turned seventeen, and to say that he was not pleased had been an understatement. Used to being independent and remote from human interaction, Gaara did not relish the knowledge that he would one day have to share his life with an unknown female.

Even though he knew that it was probably the Tanuki's animalistic instincts that were affecting him, he was beginning to change his mind

To his inward surprise, the female lying under him did not use her perfect chakra control to shove him away. Instead, she merely made a small sound in the back of her throat before she tentatively parted her lips for him.

The gesture was primal and non-mistakable. His Shukaku hissed with triumph.

She was accepting him.

The masculine satisfaction that he felt at the moment had nothing to do with the Tanuki demon within him. The powerful shinobi wasted no time slipping into her honeyed depths, his free hand absently circling her side almost as a gesture of comfort, respecting her enough not to wander anywhere else where he was sure that she would not have liked.

She made that soft mewling sound again, and it was all he could do not to growl a reply in return. She was hesitant, but slid her tongue so sweetly against his that he groaned throatily.


She tasted of the succulent red fruit, sweet and thirst-relieving, and it was dangerously intoxicating. Had she not been his chosen mate, Gaara was sure that he would have killed her. For someone to possess such an allure for him was simply unthinkable, as well as a weakness he could not afford to leave unattended.

It was with that dangerous thought in mind that he sobered enough to quickly pull away from her, his charcoal-rimmed jade eyes dark but his facial expression impassive. Her own emerald orbs were wide and slightly glazed with passion and Gaara found that he had to literally push all thoughts of satisfaction out of his mind to keep from fulfilling what the Shukaku was shrieking for him to do.

With one fluid move, he was up and a safe distance away from the little seductress who did not even possess an idea of what she was doing to him. Easily, his sand deposited her gently onto the ground before quickly creeping towards his back to form the gourd of sand once more.

He did not look at her, but could clearly hear her soft mutters to herself as she clambered noisily to her feet.

"I will escort you to Konohagakure."

Without another word or another glance at her he turned and started to walk away.

What the HELL had possessed her to let him touch her like that? Why hadn't she shoved him away, or at least resisted him? She couldn't even blame it all on him now; she had kissed him back willingly, for crying out loud! And why was Gaara even touching her in the first place?

Sakura's head pounded from all the accusing thoughts that she was pummeling herself with. She was trudging blearily behind Gaara and between cursing inwardly at the redhead and glaring daggers at his oblivious (or maybe he couldn't care less) self it had been almost two hours since that 'incident'. Sakura hadn't wanted to follow the clearly insane Kazekage at all, but instincts and common sense told her quickly that her energy was almost run out and she would definitely not be able to lower her guard enough to recoup as much rest as quickly as possible if she was all alone in the potentially hostile forest.

Besides, Gaara's promise to accompany her back to Konohagakure hadn't been intended as a request, but more of a command, and the pink-haired kunoichi wondered what he would do if she had disobeyed him and insisted on going her own way.

He would probably come after her and kiss her stupid again.

Sakura turned a furious shade of red. She felt so embarrassed; she was even clinging to him when he pulled back!! What was she, some sex-starved pervert or something?

'Don't blame yourself.' Inner Sakura piped up then. 'He's pretty good looking, don't you think? And he kisses oh so very well too…' Sakura's inner self giggled hideously at the memory. The pink-haired medic-nin's mouth dropped open in shock.

'I thought that you didn't like him too!!'

The distant laughter that her alter-ego bestowed upon her was slightly condescending, and Sakura bristled. Oh! If she could just meet her inner self there was so going to be one hell of a bitch fight!

'Yes, Sakura love, but that was before he cornered us and laid a good one on us. Do you think that he would do that again?'

'Hey!!' The pink-haired kunoichi was blustering within with fury. 'Watch what you say, that's Gaara we are talking about, the one who nearly killed us when we were thirteen, remember?'

Inner Sakura merely laughed again.

'Yes, when we were thirteen. That's seven years ago, and aren't you a little too old to be still nursing childhood grudges?'

Childhood grudges!! Sakura stopped mid-walk and growled loudly. Oh, she would show her inner self childhood grudges alright!!

Inner Sakura was not oblivious to the irritation of her other half, but Sakura was just so much fun to tease sometimes. The alter-ego finally decided to stop before she riled the tired girl to the point of no return.

'Fine, fine. I will stop. I'm leaving, don't get your panties in a twist.' Inner Sakura could not resist a last parting shot. 'Though I think that you should get laid…he would make a real nice bedmate, don't you think?'

Sakura turned bright pink.

What the- She really could not believe the cheek of-

"Why are you stopping?"

Sakura froze like a deer caught in front of the headlights. Emerald eyes lifted immediately to clash with impassive jade ones.


Her reply must have displayed her astounding intellect to its full capacity, for Gaara started to backtrack to her. Slowly, one sandaled foot before the other, he barely stirred the grass as he stalked, yes, stalked towards her. Sakura was immediately wary of the handsome redhead's approach, but she managed to stand her ground and narrow her eyes at him.

He ignored her false bravado and continued right on until he was where he wanted to be; right before her. Sakura thought privately that if she was to pitch herself forward a little her nose would have bumped against his chest. As such the pink-haired medic-nin quickly scrambled backwards in a futile effort to put some distance between herself and the Kazekage. Futile, because he easily matched her retreat step for step. When Sakura finally realized how foolish the whole thing looked, she quickly stopped and instead opted to fold her arms across her chest and scowl at him. What she didn't realize was that she hardly looked intimidating at all, with her face smudged with dirt and pieces of leaves stuck askew in her hair from their earlier 'romp' around the forest grounds.

Her disheveled appearance made him frown, and quickly reminded him of what he had made her go through but a couple hours ago. She was probably exhausted beyond belief but yet he hadn't even heard a peep of complain coming out of her. He quickly came to the conclusion that she was either very hardy or just too afraid of him to say anything that would bring his attention to her.

His frown intensified.

For some reason, he, who had always equated a healthy dose of fear as respect, did not like the thought of her cowering before him.

"You fear me."

It wasn't a question.

Sakura gaped at his arrogance. Feminine indignation kicked in, and although Sakura inwardly admitted to herself that she was still a little wary (wary, not scared!) of the powerful shinobi, there was no way in hell she was going to let him know of it now.

A few things happened simultaneously then.

All at once, worn-out emerald eyes sparked to life and Sakura took an irritated step towards the very male whom she was trying to evade a couple of minutes ago. The pink-haired kunoichi thought that she heard her alter-ego laughing wickedly by the sidelines but at the moment she was too fired up to notice. Her attention was wholly focused on proving the expressionless redhead standing before her wrong.

"Do I fear you, you ask?" Sakura started very softly, her eyes gleaming with her growing irritation.

"Thank you for asking. Now let me tell you something; did you know that nothing has gone smoothly for me this entire afternoon? I had the misfortune of meeting you, and against my better judgment, had wasted my precious chakra healing you, cut myself bloody by none other than my own bloody kunai, got chased up and down half the countryside by none other than you again, almost got flattened to a pancake by you, got sat on by you, got…licked by you, got…nevermind about that, and then got involuntarily dragged around the remaining half of the countryside by you again, and did I mention that I had been the one to heal you in the first place?"

Running on full steam now, Sakura ploughed on.

"And now I am tired and I am dirty and I am low on chakra and I am utterly confused as to what is going on and my horny alter ego can't stop raving about that stupid kiss that you had forced upon me and I am so irritated and frustrated and you ask me if I fear you? What do you think?"

Gaara did not even blink at the overwhelming wave of feminine temper that Sakura had just upended upon his head. He did respond to Sakura's sarcastically-posed question though.

"You fear me."

Sakura's mouth hung open at his emotionless reply. Then she scowled.

"Gaara?" she asked after a short moment of silence. The tall male looked down at her, his jade eyes clearly commanding her to speak. And speak she did. "Do you think that you can stand still and not call up your Shield of Sand while I summon the pathetic remains of my chakra to punch you with?"

He continued looking steadily at her.

"I would advise you not to do it."

Sakura's shoulders slumped then, her earlier ire taking away almost all of her remaining energy. "Yeah. I thought so too." The pink-haired medic-nin whispered almost dejectedly.

He found himself with the absurd urge to smile at that look on her face, and it was only thanks to his harsh upbringing that he had not done so. Instead, he placed the tips of his fingers on her chin and lifted her gaze to meet his, and mournful emerald met indulgent jade ones.

"You are exhausted." He stated by way of explanation. "We will rest here for the night. Set up camp while I secure the parameters."

Then his light green eyes sharpened, and before Sakura could make out head or tails of what was going on he leaned down and whispered softly in her ear.

"Keep your guard up, mate."

And with one gentle caress of his thumb against her cheek, he was gone.

Sakura could only stare blankly at the air before her in shock, so rattled was she by Gaara's yet again sudden display of…affection?

And why was he being affectionate to her, someone he barely knew, in the first place?

Then suddenly, almost as if the ever present fog in her mind had finally decided to clear up, she quickly recalled what Gaara had said to her earlier.

"Keep your guard up, mate."

"Because, you are mine now."



Inner Sakura giggled coquettishly.

'We are so going to get some soon, huh?'

Sakura's screech of disbelief could be heard echoing through the entire forest.


Questions That I Would Like To Answer Before You Ask:

I have finally decided to edit and revise Shukaku Love, which means that new chapters are on the way. Good? I certainly hope so.

This fic can be generally categorized as canon-verse AU, as confusing as that sounds. Basically I'm planning to keep the facts in Shukaku Love as close to those in the canon-verse as possible, barring the fact that the Ichibi is evidently still residing within Gaara, that is. In other words, the Akatsuki failed in extracting the Shukaku. I have read before some interesting theories about how that could possibly happen; namely that the extraction process had pulled out a large portion of the tailed beast's chakra instead of the beast itself, and I have decided to use that for my explanation as well.

Either way, that was not a very important factor in this fic, just that there had been a lot of curious readers wondering how on earth Shukaku was still residing within Gaara when technically it should have been extracted already.


As for the question of Shukaku not recognizing Sakura as Gaara's other half during the Chuunin exams, well, they were only thirteen at the time. Gaara was not matured yet, and neither was Sakura. Not that I'm keen on comparing Gaara to an animal, but most do wait until they are sexually mature before seeking out their mates, which explains why Gaara never took active notice of Sakura, until the Shukaku urged him to look for her the moment he turned seventeen.


I know that Sakura's interaction with Inner Sakura sounds remarkably like she is suffering from schizophrenia or multiple personality disorder, but that is really not the case. Like in Hanami, I'm aware that Inner Sakura is really not so active in canon-verse, emerging only when Sakura is distressed or in danger. However, I find it rather amusing that Sakura has her own alter ego whereas Gaara also has to deal with his own parasite of a bijuu, therefore Inner Sakura will stay like this, as well.


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