Note: In this fic Naruto and Gaara are about...17/18? Oh, and Gaara never had Shukaku removed. Why? Because I say so! lol.

Midnight Snowflakes

Gaara's shudder was unnoticeable to the untrained eye. The Sand ninja watched in fascination as Goosebumps sprung up on his arm. This was the first time Gaara had ever been cold. In Suna at night the temperature did drop dramatically but Gaara had never felt it. Only now in the middle of winter in Konoha did he really understand what cold was.

Another thing Gaara had never experienced before was snow. In some ways it was very much like sand. It shifted and changed underfoot, got everywhere, and was wonderful to touch yet held consequences for those who did. The sand could wear away at skin until there was nothing left; the snow could chill a person to the bone.

Currently Gaara was sitting on a roof staring up at the night sky and the falling snowflakes that landed and then melted on his burning skin. Watching snow fall made Gaara feel so serene that it was almost unnatural. Only the bitter winter wind reminded Gaara that he was still alive, still in Konoha, still visiting a loved one.

Gaara sensed him approaching, heard the snow crunching underfoot, but did not move. He knew who it was without turning around. Gaara knew the familiar chakra well; could tell immediately who that confident stride belonged to.

"Geez Gaara. You come all this way to visit me and you spend all your time out in the cold instead of with me! If you weren't a freak and did stuff like this all the time I'd be offended." There was humour in his voice so Gaara knew he was only teasing. The footsteps were closer now – the Konoha ninja was right behind him. A blanket was gently draped over Gaara's shoulders before the other male took a seat beside the stoic redhead. Gaara stared inquisitively at the blanket before turning his stare on Naruto. The blond shrugged. "I thought you might be cold."

Gaara nodded his thanks before turning his attention back to the dancing snowflakes. "I've never visited you during the winter before," he mumbled into the wind.

Naruto nodded. "It's not usually like this. We don't usually get snow, even in winter. You're lucky you came when you did or you might have missed it. Even if it is rather thick on the ground now it might have all melted by tomorrow."

Gaara nodded, his eyes narrowing slightly in disappointment. He had arrived just after the worst of the snow fall was over and had trudged through the snow to the Hokage Tower where he had met Tsunade. The Fifth Hokage had greeted him warmly and assured him that she would do everything in her power to make his stay in Konoha more enjoyable during the Chunin exam. She had then informed him that the other Kages were running slightly late and asked if there was anything he wished to do in the days before they arrived. He had immediately asked of the status and whereabouts of Naruto Uzumaki. His question had gained him an amused look from Tsunade, who had then informed him that Naruto was currently not on a mission and (if Gaara wanted) she could organize for the redhead to stay with Naruto. Gaara had accepted her offer and was very glad that he had.

"I'd hoped I'd be able to spend another night like this. It is very calming sitting and watching the snow fall."

Naruto nodded his agreement. "It's really beautiful isn't it?"

"Yes. I have seen things more beautiful than this though."

Naruto blushed and chuckled to cover his embarrassment. He knew Gaara was talking about him because his lips were turned up in a near smile. Naruto had watched Gaara talk with others about him before and Gaara always wore that same expression when he did. It was as if he knew a secret that nobody else did and was proud of it. Gaara had a dirty little secret and Naruto was sure he was the only one who knew what it was.

Naruto shivered as the cold seeped through his jacket to his skin. Gaara's eyes shifted towards him before almost immediately returning to the snow. He lifted his arm and the blanket with it. It was an invitation that Naruto was happy to accept.

The blond shinobi scooted closer so that he was leaning against Gaara. The redhead then dropped his arm, rearranging the blanket so that it covered the both of them. He then placed a possessive arm around Naruto's waist, making Naruto smile as he placed his head on Gaara's shoulder. The young Kazekage let his head rest on Naruto's; a minute sigh of contentment escaping his lips.

It seemed like a thousand years had passed since they had first done this. Gaara had been in Konoha for the Chunin exam then too. Shukaku had been restless and Gaara had been prowling across the rooftops in search of a way to shut out the demon's demand for blood. He had found Naruto stargazing, a picture frame in his hand. They had started talking and Naruto had shown him the picture of what was once Team 7. Gaara had joined Naruto in his reminiscing about the past and their conversation had gone on well into the night. Naruto was so tired at that point that he had not realized the implications of his actions when he pressed his body against the Kazekage's and then fell asleep on his shoulder. Gaara had at first been stunned by the physical contact but had then realized that he liked it. He'd held Naruto close until his shoulder had begun to ache and then he'd deposited the blond in his bed. Gaara had sat on Naruto's windowsill to watch the blond and make sure nothing happened to him. For some reason Gaara had felt he needed to protect Naruto even though he knew the other was a capable shinobi.

Gaara didn't work out why he needed to protect Naruto until on the forth night (Gaara's last night in Konoha) when Naruto kissed him. It had been more of a friendly peck than a kiss but Gaara had felt something inside him that wasn't Shukaku stir when Naruto kissed him. That was why in the morning, instead of leaving as soon as Naruto was awake, Gaara stayed with him for breakfast. That morning was full of hesitant words and tentative touches – it was a morning neither shinobi would forget. It was the morning their secret relationship began.

"Are you planning on trying to stay awake all night tonight?" Gaara asked, his breath ghosting in front of him.

Naruto hummed as he considered the question. "Perhaps."

"You don't need to if you don't want to. I'm going to be here for a few more nights and I'm used to being awake on my own anyway."

"That's because I'm not with you in Suna – if I was we would be doing this every night."

"You're not an insomniac Naruto; it's not healthy for you to not sleep."

"Your concern for my health is appreciated but not needed. I know my limits and how far I can push them before I snap. Besides, that's not the point. What I was trying to say is that we only get to spend a few days and nights a year with each other so those times should be special, different to how things usually are. I can always catch up on my sleep later when I'm not spending time with my most precious person."

Gaara smiled as warmth flooded into his chest. He always took great pleasure in being reminded that he was loved. Whether it was the encouraging words of his siblings or Naruto's warm lips Gaara wasn't bothered. As long as he was acknowledged Gaara didn't care in what form that acknowledgment came.

The biggest problem for Gaara was returning that acknowledgement. Expressing the more tender emotions had always been a problem for him and even though he was no longer a psychopath that still hadn't changed. Naruto had learned early on that he had to look closely to find the things that hinted towards Gaara's true feelings. It had been difficult and frustrating at first but as Gaara became more open the signs became more obvious and Naruto found it easier to interpret his lover's words and actions.

"It's getting colder, perhaps we should go inside," Gaara suggested.

"But I just got comfortable," whined Naruto.

Gaara rolled his eyes in exasperation. Naruto pouted before an evil idea came to him. He reached behind Gaara, a devious smirk curling his lips as he slipped his hand under the Kazekage's shirt. Gaara gasped as the ice cold hand ran up his back, his spine arching to try and escape the frozen touch.

Naruto chuckled, his lips pressed against Gaara's ear as he whispered, "That will teach you to roll your eyes at me."

Gaara stared at him incredulously before frowning and jerking the blanket away from Naruto. "For that you can freeze to death."

"What?!" cried Naruto.

"I said you can freeze to death," Gaara said as he wrapped the blanket around himself more tightly.

"Gaara!" Naruto whined loudly as he tried to get back under the warm blanket. "I'm sorry I pulled that prank on you; please let me back under." When it seemed Gaara was not about to yield that easily Naruto played his trump card. "If you let me under I'll give you a kiss."

Gaara considered the proposition. Eventually he lifted up his arm and allowed Naruto to snuggle up to him once again. Naruto then kept his side of the bargain, leaning up and capturing Gaara's lips in a sweet, chaste, kiss.

Gaara closed his eyes as the sensations the kiss caused coursed through his body. He loved it when Naruto kissed him, loved the feel of being touched without fear. All his life people had done their best to avoid him because they were scared of what he would do to them. Naruto didn't avoid him though – he did the opposite. Naruto was usually the one to initiate the hugs and the kisses and all other forms of emotional expression. Gaara was usually the one who received and then tried to copy Naruto while his hands shook with nervousness. Gaara was deadly afraid of doing something wrong, of not living up to Naruto's expectations. If he didn't live up to expectations Naruto might not want him anymore and Gaara was sure the resulting trauma of that happening might just be the thing to send him over the metaphorical edge.

As if sensing the direction his lover's thoughts were heading, Naruto whispered, "I love you Gaara."

Gaara swallowed before replying with a timid, "I…love you too."

Naruto straddled Gaara's waist and pressed their foreheads together so Gaara couldn't escape his very serious gaze. "Don't say it if you don't mean it."

Gaara heard the ice in Naruto's voice and his eyes softened with pity. Naruto always said those little words with meaning while Gaara could barely manage to say it as a statement instead of a question. Gaara was sure it must hurt to hear your most precious person say such a deeply significant thing without emotion but he couldn't help it. His heart was still fragile and he was still somewhat reluctant to allow someone the chance to cause him great pain like Yashamaru once did.

Gathering his courage, Gaara gave Naruto his own chaste kiss, hoping desperately to find there the inspiration to say what he had to say. "I do mean it; it's just hard to say."

Naruto's gaze softened. "I know, and I'm sorry for doubting you but you're not the only one with insecurities," he whispered sadly while gently stroking Gaara's cheek.

Naruto gasped as Gaara pulled him flush up against him, his eyes piercing. Before Naruto could ask what Gaara was doing the redhead had crushed their lips together in a kiss that was definitely not chaste.

When they separated for a moment to regain their breath, Gaara asked in a breathy whisper, "Still feel insecure?"

"No," Naruto replied before smothering Gaara's lips with his own.

They continued to kiss passionately until they realized that the cold chill they felt was due to the fact that the blanket had fallen off them onto the snowy roof. Naruto lifted a corner with one hand, grimacing at how wet it had become. "I think perhaps it would be best to go inside now."

Gaara nodded in agreement and the two struggled to their feet. Their clothes were wet and clung awkwardly to their skin as they slipped back into Naruto's apartment. As soon as they were inside they hurriedly changed into something dry before Naruto guided Gaara to his bed. They slipped under the covers together and made themselves comfortable in each other's arms. After that there was silence and Gaara was sure Naruto had gone to sleep. He was proven wrong when the blond murmured, "Gaara, next time you want to watch snow fall do it inside."

Gaara turned to look out Naruto's window and saw that he had a perfectly good view of the swirling snowflakes from the position he was in. His lips twitched as he replied, "I will Naruto, I will."

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