"Gaara!" Temari called out as she raced after her youngest brother. "Stop! Let the council deal with this!"
Gaara refused to answer as he hurried toward the main gate walls.
Kankuro cackled from beside her. "I'm sick of waiting. It's been two hours already. That's not a good sign. What if the council agrees to hand Gaara over to Orochimaru?"
"Then the snake dude dies." Temari said with a diffident shrug.
The puppeteer sighed. "Sorry. I can't be so sure of that. The guy IS one of the legendary Sannin and did manage to take out the Fourth Kazekage."
"So he's sneaky. Doesn't mean Gaara can't take him." Temari said with confidence, although inside she was starting to get a bit nervous.
Gaara finally slowed enough for them to catch up to him, but still continued on towards Suna's main gates. "Thank you, Temari, for the support."
The blond kunoichi caught her breath. Gaara was thankingher? Before now she wouldn't have put money on him even knowing what 'thank you' meant!
"But even I'm not sure about Orochimaru. He's dangerous because he is sneaky. And he wouldn't come here if he didn't have something hidden up his sleeve. The man survived a fight between him and Tsunade and Jiraiya both."
Temari's eyes were wide as she answered. "Then why challenge him then?"
Kankuro snorted. "That should be obvious! To test his skills against such a strong opponent. To pit himself against one of the most dangerous men around. To kill him!"
Gaara snorted back. "Kankuro, since when did you turn into me? No. I want to ask Orochimaru a question, that's all."
Kankuro subsided, pouting a bit. "Awww..."
"Oi! Orochimaru!" Gaara called down from his vantage point along the main walls.
"What?" A guy with glasses called back, the white-faced freak not even bothering to look up.
Gaara scowled, anger starting to build up within him. Ruthlessly, he pushed the anger away. It was getting easier and easier to act outside of anger. Maybe this whole exercise had been worth it after all. "I need to ask him a question."
Kabuto looked at Orochimaru, who remained motionless. "No. We won't change our minds. You're coming back with us."
"That's not it." Gaara called down. "I want to know WHY you're even here? I was writing an apology letter, a sincere one. What did he take offense to that made him come all the way out here? He even had my brother's arm nailed to an outpost wall. What's up with that?"
Finally, Orochimaru looked up at him, a sneer clearly on his face. He spoke softly to Kabuto, who shook his head. Orochimaru stepped forward menacingly and Kabuto stepped back.
"He says it's not for your insults to him, but the ones you wrote to the Uchiha." Kabuto finally called out to him.
Gaara chewed that over for a moment, then called down. "Did Sasuke even get to READ my letter?"
Neither Kabuto nor Orochimaru answered, which was an answer in and of itself.
The red-headed Sand shinobi groaned. "Stupid pedophile! You just don't like that I mentioned your intentions toward him. Don't want me warning your precious target, is that it?"
"No it's not!" Orochimaru screamed, then fumed for answering when he had no intention of speaking to Gaara.
Gaara nodded. He'd hit it on the head with that one. "Okay, we can go back home now." He told his siblings even as he wondered at what was taking the council so long to send a reply. How long did it take to say "Fuck off?" even for the Suna council?
Suddenly a sound ninja came up to Orochimaru and whispered something, making both he and his assistant turn and stare out at the desert.
Their attention caught, all three Sand siblings turned to look as well. Dust rising up in the horizon heralded the arrival of someone new.
"They're giving me a headache." Kankuro whined as he sat watching the circus below him. His puppy, Killer, had somehow gotten out of the house and followed them here. The Chihuahua puppy was currently gnawing on the hem of the puppeteer's pants leg, giving small puppy growls.
Gaara nodded. He too was getting tired of the bickering between the newly arrived Leaf Hokage and Orochimaru as they argued on who had the right to extradite him from Suna.
The Suna council had received both requests and were still interred within their chambers, mulling over the issue. That had been three hours ago.
Temari had set up a 'breeze' jutsu to keep them comfortable as they all waited, but Gaara hated to wait for anything. He stood up and looked down at the bickering duo once more.
"Oi!" He hollered out, annoyed. "I know that Orochimaru has taken offense at me calling him gay and wanting to make Sasuke his 'special' friend. But what are you so upset about, Tsunade?"
"As if you don't know, brat!" The Leaf Hokage called back up to him.
Gaara grinned. He bet she didn't realize that since he was so far up and looking down at her, that he had the perfect viewing spot to look down her cleavage.
"Now THAT'S impressive." Whispered Kankuro, even as he tried to shake loose the puppy at his feet.
Temari grimaced and gave the puppeteer a sharp rap against the back of his skull.
"Ow! Why'd you do that? Gaara was looking too!" Kankuro whined.
Temari rolled her eyes, yeah like she'd be stupid enough to hit Gaara. He might have changed, but she wasn't going to push him too far!
"We demand that Suna turn over Gaara to us for crimes against the Leaf village!" The Hokage's assistant called up to them.
"Why?" Temari called back. "Suna surrendered to you after the whole debacle of an invasion that was HIS fault, not ours!" She said pointing toward Orochimaru who simply grinned at them all. "If you wanted to try Gaara for war crimes, you've already passed up that opportunity."
"Exactly!" Orochimaru crowed. "That means he should be turned over to me. And you too, little girl, seems your brother wanted to swap you for one of the Leaf maidens."
"What????" Temari turned and glared at her red-headed younger brother.
Gaara didn't move a muscle as he whispered to her. "Remember, he's sneaky." Not actually admitting to anything.
Killer gave a small growl and tore off a piece of Kankuro's pants leg. The small dog turned a circle and settled down to enjoy his 'prize'.
Kankuro sighed. "This was my last pair of trousers he hadn't torn up yet."
"He played voyeur at the girl's bath house!" Tsunade called up to them.
Gaara scowled back down at her. "So does Jiraiya, I don't see him in chains!"
"He has a point." Shizune told Tsunade frankly.
Tsunade scowled. "He murdered Lord Hyuuga Hiashi!"
Gaara shook his head. "Try again. Hiashi called ME out with a declaration of 'Blood Feud'. Then he set a trap for me through my sister! And I didn't kill his accomplices, only him."
"Not to mention that Neji and Hinata didn't actually seem all that upset about his death." Shizune said with a shrug.
"You're not helping!" Tsunade yelled, turning on her assistant who just blinked at her.
Gaara crossed his arms. "You have no legal claim to take me back to the Leaf village."
"You're still an ass!" Tsunade hollered up at him.
Gaara shrugged and pointed at Orochimaru. "So is he. And he did far more against your village than I've ever even thought of."
And with that, he watched with glee as Orochimaru and Tsunade started bickering back and forth. The bickering escalated into name calling. Then it all went to hell. All out battle ensued at the main gates of Suna, with the Sand village looking on in interest.
A stray swipe from Orochimaru's giant snake hit the walls of Suna, sending rubble raining down on them.
Gaara's swift use of sand protected them all as Killer peed on Kankuro's foot in fear.
"Watch it! There's innocent puppies up here!" Gaara yelled down at the combatants.
Iko peered down at the ravaged desert landscape. "And they dared to complain about the mess we left in the forests around the Leaf village."
"At least Orochimaru left." Temari pointed out as the Leaf ninja set about healing their injured and gathering up their scattered weaponry.
"He didn't lose." Kankuro pointed out, just a tad disappointed.
Iko shrugged. "At least he didn't win."
They all nodded at that.
"What did the council decide?" Gaara asked curiously.
Iko pointed down to the Suna messenger making his way toward the exhausted Leaf Hokage. "They're sending her the answer now. Watch."
Killer wagged his tail as Gaara picked him up so he could see too.
"WHAT THE FUCK????" Tsunade screamed as she read the message.
"I guess the answer was 'no'." Kankuro crowed happily. He hadn't been so sure that the Suna council wouldn't have taken this opportunity to rid themselves of Gaara.
"Not exactly." Iko said with a smug smile.
"They named him Kazekage??????" The Hokage yelled in outrage.
Kankuro and Temari turned to stare at Gaara, who was looking stunned.
Iko laughed. "The council was mightily impressed with how you handled the situation, turning both parties against each other instead of at us."
Gaara couldn't talk. Kazekage? They'd named him Kazekage?
"You know what this means?" Kankuro finally said.
Temari shook her head as Gaara turned toward his brother, still looking stunned.
"The council accepted your apologies." The puppeteer pointed out gleefully.
Killer whined and licked Gaara's hand.
A smile slowly bloomed on the red-head's face as he took in a deep breath.
"Kazekage." He said.
"Kazekage-sama?" A messenger came up to him, bowing low. "A delivery for you."
Gaara turned to look at the letter scroll, and the box that came with it. "Who's it from?"
Temari stepped away from the box cautiously, so did Kankuro. Gaara handed the puppy over to his brother. "Keep him safe."
"Him? What about me?" Kankuro whined.
Gaara took the scroll from the messenger and broke the seal.
Everyone held their breath, but nothing happened. They all started breathing again. Gaara unrolled the scroll carefully and read it through. A smile teased his lips as he read it through a second time.
He handed it to Temari as Kankuro read over her shoulder.
Dearest Gaara of the Sand,
THANK YOU! Words alone can not express our deepest gratitude. We are sending you a gift to show you how much we really appreciate you and all you've done.
If you ever have need, just call us and we will be there for you.
Hyuuga Hanabi (although I still have some slight reservations, I still add my thanks to theirs)
Gaara held the scroll happily. He was appreciated. And Kazekage. It didn't get much better. Killer gave a small yelp and wagged his tail. Gaara smiled happily.
"Aren't you going to open the box?" Kankuro whined, eager to see what the Hyuugas had sent.
"I have everything I need right here." Gaara said.