I, Donot own Naruto.
Sakura turned towards the opposite side of her bed, pulling the coverlet over her head while in motion. The absence of the annoying beeping of her clock meant there was still a few hours or maybe minutes of sleep to be had, but something else was keeping her from returning to unconscious slumber. Sitting up suddenly in bed, she scanned her room for the offending object and her eyes fell upon the answering machine not too far from her coffee table. Four stomps and three huffs later she was standing over the small black machine, her fists clenched. It wasn't really the machine per say but rather the red light that blinked ever few seconds that was really getting on her nerves. It was insanely bright for such a simple gadget. She glanced at the clock and groaned, she was up two hours early. Ignoring the machine, she padded over to her windows and drew the curtains letting in the bright morning sun, the sounds of human activity drifting up from the streets below. The day was well in swing while she was just over her slumber.
Scratching her head, Sakura pondered over the reason why her gut was telling her something important was going to happen today. Oh yes, the case. This thought was followed by a offending 'pfft' as she remembered the day before. Hinata and herself had rushed over the hospital after receiving their mentor's page, only to be greeted by two empty bottles of sake, scattered files and a small sticky, which would have gone unnoticed if this hadn't happen before. 'Be here at 2:00, shanip' it had said. They later deciphered the last word to be 'sharp'. And that wasn't all too bad, normally they started work at 4:00 today, two hours early for a case file was asking very little of them. And now, it was only 10, almost 4 hours to kill. Dragging herself from the obvious comforts her bed promised, Sakura walked back up to her machine and pressed the play button.
"You have four new messages." The feminine voice started up and almost immediately begged the question, why were almost all answering machines programmed with a female voice, she wasn't trying to be sexist, it was just something to ponder.
"Your first message….Sakura, Darling, it's your mother here, I was wondering if you wanted to go shopping this weekend. It might do you good dear, being around all those sick people everyday isn't very healthy, if I might say so myself. Call me."
With one touch of a button, her shopping trip with her mother when 'poof', it makes you enjoy modern electronics quite a bit.
"Your second message….I don't know if you didn't get my last message, dear, but it's your mom again, there's just been an opening in that great little restaurant I was telling you about, I think your friend owns it, well you're friend's husband. Sakura, sweet heart, when are you going to settle dow... PEEP"
Sakura smiled to herself, yes, there was nothing better than modern technology.
"Your third message…. Sakura chan! Sakura Chaaaaaaaaaaannnnn!!! Sakura chan, Sakura chan, Sakura chan! Oi! Where are you?! Sakura, I'm getting married! The teme finally asked. I think he's slow, you know, mentally, took him three years; you should give him a check up or some…Ouch! What was that for? Teme!! I'm gonna…PEEP"
Sakura stood frozen, the piece of toast she had just bitten into shook and then feel from her mouth. Had she heard correctly? Naruto, Naruto was getting married… to Sasuke. She'd have to lie if she ever had to say she didn't feel a sudden pain crushing her heart within her chest. Her Sasuke. The one man she had… she had…. And her best friend… Wasn't it enough finding out that he prefered the one thing she couldn't be for him and then… with her best friend…. A single lonely tear fell from her right eye unto her cheek, surprising her. Hadn't she gotten over him, hadn't she moved on, hadn't…wasn't…didn't things go back to normal? Then why? Why was she feeling…. This way.
Shaking her head furiously, she tried clearing her mind from the line of thought it presently was determined to follow and just barely caught the last massage,
"Your fourth message….Hey Sakura, um… it's Genma, I think it would be best if we meet, technically we haven't broken up, well, can't say we were together even. Why you reacted the way you did, to me, is a conundrum. That too I would like to clarify. Usual place. Ja ne."
The first sound of the voice made Sakura groan, by the second sentence, her shower was running. Apparently, modern technology was not that grand after all.
Gaara's eyes bulged as his body was gripped and squeezed. Finally being released he took a much needed breath, however he was once again enveloped by two strong arms and crushed against an almost promising equally strong torso. This was not right. Gaara was not one for hugs.
Being released a second time, the young Kage quickly learned from experience and took a step away from the offending appendages. And like clockwork, they closed again in the space he was previously occupying. Blue eyes, blinked, then refocused on their target,
"Nice to see you too, Naruto." The red head said calmly. His simple comment was meet by a huge grin. Really, what was it that had that guy smiling so much, all the time?
"What are you doing here?" came the inquiring question.
Gaara shrugged, wasn't it obvious? He glanced from Naruto to the display case and then back, unwilling to answer such a silly question.
"Of course, you're buying pastries." Naruto said, walking towards the shorter man, who almost instinctively took a step back.
"I assume, that's what people do in Pastry shops? I meant, what are you doing in Konaha, why don't I know anything about it, and why didn't you even send to say you were coming? I thought we were buddies." he concluded with a feigned hurt look on his face, a smile obvious behind the frown he was now wearing.
Gaara stared, blinked, then stared so more not giving any hit as to whether he was going to answer the question or not. And to his surprise, Naruto didn't fidget, or jitter, he simply stood there staring back at him with an expectant look in his eyes. The staring contest might have gone on longer had not the blond break the rules by crossing his eyes. It made quite a funny picture, to the point where Gaara had to willfully keep himself from smiling.
"I'm here on business, which has connections with my office, and as your not being in any way directly connected to said post, I doubt you would be informed on my activities or that of any other person in my position…. No matter how close you are with the Hokage." Gaara replied with a small playful glint in his eye, which soon disappeared from the look he received
Naruto looked as if he had taken a blow, that too surprised Gaara, what was going here?
"Well, it's not that…" the blond had began solemnly,
"And the reason I had not informed you of my coming here before hand, was because I had no intention of coming here in the first place, this…" he said glancing around the room,
"This is all an inconvenience."
A clear cough from the behind the counter, had the two men turning in that direction where an older attendant was frowning sharply. Gaara, turned towards her completely, as it was towards him, her look of displeasure was focused, but before he could say anything she spoke,
"The usual Naruto kun?" she asked sweetly, smiling at the blond.
"Chiyo chan!" the blond man practically shouted as he walked over to the counter.
"You look even more stunning today, you should always keep your hair down." He said as he reached over the counter to raise a few strands of the woman's silver locks.
"You youths today." The woman chided, swatting his hand away,
"My Husband might be old, but I dare say he still has some fight left in him." She said, her smile reflecting that of the one Naruto wore,
"If only you were free, and I a bit older." Naruto continued, he countenance downcast, "Ah, how fate is cruel."
The older woman laughed outright as the blond covered his face on the counter, pretending to weep in agony.
"I'm guessing that performance warrants a few extra custard tarts?" she asked, her voice coaxing as she moved away from the counter. The bait was set, and by the speed at which the blond rose his head revealing a brilliant smile, it seemed apparent it had a bite.
"Oh, Chiyo chan, you are the best! There's still time, we can run away together, elope in Hawaii! Your custard tarts, and my 'Hunka Hunka burnin' love!" Naruto shouted after the woman as she disappeared through doors leading to the back of the store laughing.
Turning, said blond was meet with a most peculiar look plastered on his friend's face. Peculiar yet quite funny. He burst out in his own fit of laugher at the expense of a very confused Kazegage.
Gaara sighed, at the moment he was liking this trip less and less and why the hell was there a bear in his stomach?!
Hinata was just a few blocks away from the hospital when, she bumped into someone most unexpected.
"Hyuga?" came the obvious question. Hinata groaned…
"Diedara-san, how nice to see you again." She lied
"Oh, you remembered my name, did I leave such a lasting impression on you?" he asked, all cockiness in tow.
"Why yes you did." Hinata answered, smiling ever so sweetly,
"Now, I would like to the follow the instructions associated to that impression and get as far away from you as I can." She said, still smiling.
Diedara pouted, " Now, why would you want to do that?" he asked as he reached for her backpack and swung it over his shoulder.
"Where you headed un?" he asked as he started off in the direction in which she was originally headed. No better choice but to go along with it, she did
"Work," she said as she caught up with him,
"You know, that place where responsible people spend their time doing something productive which ultimately leads to a greater good." She concluded felling the need to apply logic and principle to her statement seeing as her companion lacked the two
"Oh, you mean the paycheck?" he answered, glancing at her from the corner of his eye.
Hinata stopped and glared at his back, until he turned to look at her with a quizzical look,
"No, I meant working as a way of giving back to society, as in trying to ensure your environment is as much comfortable to yourself as possible while at the same time not infringing on the comfort of another" she said with just enough force without the threat of sounding condescending.
"There's no such thing, yeah." Came the monotone response.
Hinata looked up at the longhaired blond, her previous annoyed outburst quelled and now a slight interest resided in its place
Diedara glanced down at the woman beside him, only to catch her looking up at him
"Damn, those are sexy." He said, his gaze lingering on her face a few seconds before he turned back to the street. Confused whether to be embarrassed or annoyed, she opted for an alternate route altogether.
"What do you mean by there being no such thing as working to bring yourself comfort?" she asked
"Oh, no I said no such thing un." Came the quick response
"You see work like a guarantee right?" he asked, glance down at her once again
Thinking on her feet, she responded, "Well, in a way, yes."
"Well I don't, before this job at Akatsuki, I couldn't hold a job for more that three weeks, yeah." He said with a small chuckle
"You were being fired?" came the feminine voice at his side
"Er.. no, I was being bored and they were mostly short contracts anyways, so…. see, you see work as an opportunity and seek it for stability, I see work as a eventual pay check and seek it for expression." He concluded.
After pointing the correct street to continue on at a intersection, Hinata continue the conversation,
"You seek it for expression?" she asked, intrigued as to what his answer would be
"Yes, exactly that, un."
They were now walking passing a large red brick office building when Deidara drew Hinata's attention to a painting on the one of its walls. It was graffiti by definition but rather well executed and inspiring by appearance.
"Would you call this his job, hmm?" Deidara asked an enthralled Hinata, as he pointed to the artist just a few yards away from them working on another one of his pieces.
"Y-yes, it's beautiful." came the meek response.
"But, although he does it in a certain sense, to give back to society, and you seem to support his idea, it doesn't quite fit your definition, now does it, un?" he asked.
Hinata was slightly confused, but then caught unto his meaning when a security guard dashed pass them waving his baton at the culprit responsible for defacing the building.
"Work isn't focused on bringing comfort to yourself within the bounds of minimizing discomfort to others, it's merely completing a task assigned to you in a way in which you would be trusted enough to continue doing it and are rewarded for it." He said as he adjusted the bag on his shoulder, and continued down the block, Hinata followed.
"But then, what does that leave us?" she asked after they had traveled a few minutes in silence.
Deidara chuckled, "That, leaves us, us, un" he said smiling. A rather hansom smile, one Hinata did not expect him to have.
"We get to be comfortable in a way, the one thing we can control; ourselves and by default, the things directly associated. That way, there is no desired result, no expectations, just moods and actions, life and art."
Gaara looked on with clear interest, as the woman assembled two small bags of pastries on the counter in front of him. Naruto was busy flirting with the younger attendants to notice the intense stare the red head had locked with that of the flaky crush treats.
"Would you like one?" came the sudden question,
Gaara looked up suddenly at the woman, surprised at the clear accent in her voice, he hadn't noticed that before. He was contemplating on how to go about a suitable response, when she placed a small tart on a plate and handed it to him,
He accepted the small proffered dish with reluctance, obvious reluctance.
"It's not sweet." Came the sudden statement
Looking up suddenly at this as well, the red head was met by knowing eyes,
"I know, sweet things are just….insufferable" she said with a clear glint in her eyes, a smile playing on her lips.
Leaning towards him, she whispered, "I do wonder how they bear it."
Gaara was slightly disturbed by this statement, what a peculiar turn of events.
"You work in a pastry shop." He said, "Almost everything is sweet."
Chiyo's smile faded slightly, sticking out her chin she answered,
"Just because I don't like eating them, doesn't mean I can't enjoy making them. Plus this coming from the man who admittedly hates social gatherings and still continue to be the Kazekage of such a large town" she said, the glint back in place
"You know who I am." This was stated, as asking if she did was a rather silly question.
Chiyo's smile grew,
"Of course, Kazekage sama." She said bowing slightly, though it was obvious she was mocking him. "Or should I say Gaara kun?"
Gaara's face gave nothing away as he began piecing things together,
"You know my sister." He stated,
"That, I do." Came the response as she reached over the counter to take the plate from his hand, only he wouldn't let go of it.
"Disrespectful to elders, some exemplary Kage you are." She said, clucking her tongue at him.
Gaara sputtered, him?! Disrespectful?! He was a Kage, his title alone warranted respected. feeling defeated as they slowly began to draw attention from the other attendants, he smoothly let go of the plate, but before she could carry it across the counter, he reached out and grabbed the tart, careful not to crush it in his grip. He smirked, witty old woman, meet your match!
"Give it here." Chiyo demanded, her accent becoming more prevalent as she diverged from formal speech
"You gave it to me." Came the monotone response
"And clearly you don't want it" she countered, but before she could go any further, Gaara promptly stuff the entire tart into his mouth.
Chiyo stood still, shocked, surprised. Here was the Kazekage of Suna, with a straight face, a stuffed mouth, and was that a growling stomach?
It started small, but soon, the glint of amusement once present in her yes, spread like wildfire across her face until, she was tearing up and holding her stomach laughing. By now all eyes were on the duo, Naruto was smiling along with the woman, though he was not sure what had happened.
"Temari had said you hadn't changed much, but… but... this?" the older woman tried between burst of laughter.
Embarrassed at his actions and desperate to gather what like pride he had as a Kage and leave while his self pride was still intact, Gaara tried to swallow the tart. whole, and nearly chocked.
Rushing to his side, Chiyo gently tapped on the red head's back and as she repeated shouted for him to chew.
"How silly of you to try swallowing it whole." She chided, swatting him on the shoulder. Now standing this close to him, within arms length, she couldn't help herself but pulled him into a tight embrace.
Gaara groaned, there they go again with the hugging. But being this close to the woman there was something familiar. Something…
"I know you." He said as she released him, "I know you but… I'm not sure who you are." He said, knowing he wasn't making much sense.
"Five years as your nanny and this is all I get, "I know you but I'm not sure who you are." She asked, he hands on her hips
Gaara was at a lost for words. Nanny? For some reason that didn't seen quite right.
"You've gotten tall yes, but you were so much cuter as a baby." The woman continued unaffected by his look of confusion. Then something clicked,
"Cinnamon." He said, it was an unorthodox thing to state but it seemed right.
"You do remember!" the woman exclaimed, reaching into her pocket to produce a small cinnamon stick. She smiled softly,
"Of all the things to remember…" the woman's gaze turned soft and slightly unfocused as she reminisced of times past.
"Here you are, little Gaara kun, Kazekage." She said
Gaara wasn't sure why, but he suddenly felt extremely proud of the fact that he was Kazekage, it wasn't an easy position to attain, especially with a past like his. Funny, it took and 'almost' complete stranger for him to realize that.
To the left of him, Gaara heard, snickering, turning he saw Naruto with his hand over his mouth, his eyes, bulging. Exactly three seconds later, the blond burst out a fit of laughter, his finger pointed in Gaara's direction
"Little Gaara kun, Gaarakun, Ga raccoon, haha…" he said, earning a snicker or two from the attendants around him.
"That's Kazekage of Suna, Gaara kun." Gaara countered,
Shutting up almost immediately, Naruto, stood from the chair, his hands to at his sides.
"Kazekaga sama." He said wearing a playful smile, however the rigidity of his 'mock' bow told another story that just feign respect. Gaara caught it, his almost lighthearted mood disappearing as his face went blank once again.
"Oh, poop! Ni Men Haizi A!" came a feminine voice in their midst,
"So, what if he's Kazekage, You're getting married!" Chiyo said smiling, a contagious smile that spread Naruto.
"That I am." He said, immediately back in spirits.
His face partly covered by his lowered head, a low deep voice came rumbling out of the ribcage of the redhead amongst them
"You're getting married?" he asked, looking up and across the room to the blond
Wearing a goofy grin, while scratching the back of his head, an old childhood habit, Naruto tried avoiding his eyes, which pinned him to the spot where he stood.
The slap was loud and pronounced, drawing the attention of everyone in the immediate vicinity.
Sakura walked into the office of her mentor with little motivation and a lot of reluctance. No one liked meeting with Tsuande after a night with a lot of sake, since sake = hangover and hangover = headache and a headache for Tsuande was a pain she shared.
So it was more than a little surprising to notice no one in her office and just a simple single note stuck to the center of the –first time ever completely free from scattered files- desk. It was short and to the point. "CHOSE ONE". Below the sticky were two envelopes, a green one bound in gold and the other, a simple red medical file. Needing a break, from it seemed, everything, Sakura reached for the red case file and left the room. She'd let Hinata have the fancy looking one, she'd had enough of a complicated life as is.
Tenten looked up from her arm to find all eyes on her, backing up a step she raised her hands in surrender, though she wasn't sure to what she was surrendering.
"Mosquito." She said clearly, pointing to the small swollen mark on her forearm. But when the staring eyes did not leave her, she became alert,
"Is this some kind of prank?" she asked, looking around the room for any suspicious individuals or items, but when she came up blank, she guessed again
"Is this store just weird like that?"
A small chuckle floated across the room, drawing her attention.
"Hi, Tenten." Naruto said smiling, though it was a few degrees lower than his normal full out grin. She smiled back, and then noticed the other man.
"Kazekage sama." She said bowing, Gaara nodded towards her direction returning her formal greeting. And then his gaze returned to its original target.
Naruto flinched, then found himself speaking though he wasn't quite sure on what he was saying. His rambling didn't get far though as someone else entered the store,
"Ryu kun, see? We're here." Came the soft feminine voice as a brunette woman walked through the door with a small crying child holding on tightly to her free hand.
Sighing loudly, she dropped her briefcase unto a table, scooped the small boy up into her arms and began to make her way across the room. She looked slightly unkept, her hair pulled up into a messy bun and her jeans were covered with marker smears.
"Kurenai Sensei." Tenten said moving towards the woman. "Ohayo"
Weary red eyes looked in the girl direction,
"Bad day?" Tenten asked as she reached for the small child now sitting on his mother's hip
"The worst." Came the blunt response. Her indirect burden now lifted, Kurenai rotated her shoulder and groaned. Asuma was so going to pay for sending two extra days pursing a deal he knew was shaky from the start. Damn passive-aggressive environmentalists.
"Pistachio Coffee cookies" she called after Tenten as she carried the boy towards the counter, his crying finally abated. Tenten turned with a confused/surprised look on her face, Kureinai shrugged, what could she say, Ryu had weird tastes.
Turning back to her briefcase, she took notice of the other patrons.
"Ore? Kazekage? Naruto? Oh! Naruto, congratulations! I heard great news from Kakashi." She exclaimed walking over to embrace the blond. Slightly embarrassed, Naruto smiled politely at the woman.
"I heard it was quite a public display, your proposal." Kurenai said smirking.
Naruto could practically feel the heat rushing to his face as he remembered what a public spectacle Sasuke's proposal actually was. Though the teme did make up for it later. Uchihas apologize in very, very unique ways.
"Are you here for the engagement party?" Kurenai asked as she turned towards Gaara,
"Isn't it a bit too early?" she glanced back at Naruto, who was still blushing as his mind went places innocent patrons in pastry shops should never know about.
"I didn't even know there was going to be a wedding." Gaara said, his voice void of emotions.
Light turquoise and red eyes turned towards the blond, one pair waiting expectantly, the other slightly intrigued.
"I happened yesterday!" Naruto howled as he felt himself being pressured into an answer. At first he didn't know how to respond so said the first thing that came to mind, fortunately it was the right thing.
Gaara blinked, "Yesterday?"
Naruto nodded his affirmation.
"But how does she know?" he asked looking towards Kurenai.
"Kakashi." The woman replied
"But how did he find out?" Naruto asked, from what he could remember Kakashi…
"Cause I was there." Came the sudden masculine voice behind him.
"Ah!" Naruto shouted as he spun around to see his teacher standing behind him.
"Yo." Kakashi greeted, his one visible eye, arched upward as he smiled.
"When did you get here?" Naruto asked, his hand over his heart as he willed it to calm down.
"I was here right from the start." Kakashi responded, "They make the best baguette." Three pairs of staring eyes focused on him in disbelif,
"What? Am not allowed to enjoy good French bread?" he said before disappearing behind his ever-present copy of Icha Icha Paradise.
Naruto turned back to Gaara smiling, "See, I didn't have any time to tell you. Though, I am glad you're here." He said, his smile evolving into a grin
Gaara nodded in understanding, then begged a question
"Have you had time to think about it?" he asked
"Think about what exactly?" Naruto answered with a question of his own.
"I assume it is the Uchiha who proposed? You have not mentioned anyone else." Gaara continued,
Naruto nodded, "We have been together for three years." He said.
"Ah, yes. That means you must have already figured it out." The redhead said dismissing the subject. Naruto was confused,
"Figured out what exactly?" He asked
Gaara turned back to Naruto his face void of emotions, "I would also assume that the Uchiha is normal and has not…. additional parts?"
"Additional parts? What the hell are you talking about Gaara?" the blond asked exasperated.
"What to do on the wedding night of course. I take it would be quite an interesting feat" Gaara responded, his statement justified in his own mind.
So, it was with somewhat surprising to see Naruto tumble over, Kakashi's book falling from his hands to reveal a shocked visage and Kurenai slapping her hand over her face with a loud groan. Poor sheltered Kage kid.
Been pretty busy, but I got this chapter done
Until next time