((Okay! Well, I've got a flashdrive so since this story seems to be the most popular with reviews right now, I'm gonna keep updating my Gaara stories (Gaara's True Light and To Be Kazekage and Dead People Don't Always Stay Down). I still have to update DPDASD... wow, that's about as much of a mouthful as saying the actual name... but I started writing the chapter out and I'm still contemplating whether to continue with that starting or to start anew.

I would like to personally thank sprite21 and Miko Hayashi for reviewing the last chapter. And yes, I am a tease and will continue my reign of terror! *evil snickering*

Also, thanks to Miko Hayashi for favoriting this story. As for sprite21, he/she has been a veteran fan of this story forever!

Well, without further ado... let's get the confrontation over with so we can get to the gushy-mushiness!))

Chapter 36: A Lesson In Love

Chikage had been mentally conversing with the resident fox. It wasn't that she could hear him talking to her, she was just talking to herself in her head and pretending that he was giving him advice. So imagine her surprise when she heard her name on the wind, the voice of her beloved laced in the word. The soft, gravelly tone almost brought tears to her eyes. How long had it been since he'd talked to her? About a week and a half. And he had told her not to fall in love.

Such a strange phrase coming from his wind-chapped lips. She didn't understand why he said that but she hadn't been given the chance to make that promise. Good thing too... because it would have been broken before the first word left her lips. She'd been in love with him for so long now, how could she honestly say that she wouldn't fall in love. Once she was in, she couldn't fall out. Every day she'd loved him felt like an eternity of free-falling to her. And even though he'd used her without remorse, those feelings that she felt for him didn't go away.

Perhaps she was insane for believing that someday they would be together, that he could love her eventually. It might never happen. But did that mean that she was supposed to give up all those years of pining away and give her heart to another? She didn't know if she could do that.

"Chikage..."

There it was again. She had to be insane, hearing his harsh voice.

"Turn around."

She looked and her lilac eyes widened. He was there, behind her, staring at her! She slowly stood up, almost afraid but never of him. Instead, she felt that if she moved too fast, he would disappear like a mirage that disappeared when you reached out to it. "G-Gaara...?" Her voice was a mere whisper on the wind. She pushed her reddish-brown hair out of her face so she could see him more clearly.

The red-haired young man didn't disappear right then and there. He was back! Everything that was holding her back snapped like a twig as she ran up to him, wrapping her arms around his body. She was shaking from the force of her emotions and tears fell from her eyes and onto his shirt.

Gaara stood stock-still while Chikage held onto him like her life depended on it. He'd never been hugged and he was amazed that his sand hadn't reacted as it had in the past. The demon-vessel had been expecting an attack of some sort, not... not this! But it did feel nice, someone running to him instead of away from him. His arms slowly moved around her until he noticed the tears. The scent of tears were even stranger. She wasn't afraid of him- the tears of fear held a certain scent that he knew well. These were different. "Chikage... why are you crying?"

She sniffed slightly and answered, "I'm sorry... I missed you. That's all."

He stiffened up again. "You missed me? Even after what I did?"

The lilac-eyed female moved away and gave him a watery glare. "Don't get me wrong... I'm not happy about that. Everything that I know to be true tells me that I should be furious with you. I should start yelling at you for using me. You raped me, Gaara. And even if I love you, NOTHING gave you the right to take my innocense until I was ready to give it to you." Her glare lessened slightly as more tears fell. "But I can't turn off my feelings. When you turned me away after doing that to me... I felt sad that you didn't want me. Then you told me that you were leaving and not to fall in love. But Gaara, why did you say that? I don't understand. Why did you leave Suna?"

The raccoon-male sighed and shut his eyes against her piercing gaze. "I have a friend... in Konoha. He was supposed to help me learn. But in the end, he couldn't teach me a damn thing about..." He growled in frustration. "... l-l-love..."

"You wanted to learn about love? R-really?" Her voice was soft and full of disbelief. "You went on a mission to get love lessons?"

"I don't know anything about that. You know my past, you know that I've never had anything like that." He turned his head away, a soft blush on his cheeks. He was trying to hide it but failed miserably.

Chikage started giggling softly before it got louder and more prominent. After a minute of trying to keep it down, it burst forth in hearty rolls. She had no idea when the last time she'd felt so... so good! So happy! Oh, how wonderful it was to laugh again and actually mean it instead of trying to appease the people who asked what was wrong.

But Gaara wasn't too happy about it. "What?" he roared, his face bright red as he tried to shake the laughter out of her. "Stop laughing!" God, what the Hell was going on with her?

She tried to stop but it was a slow process that wasn't being helped by that shaking. Eventually, she was done and her smiled remained. "Ga-a-a-a-aar-r-raaaa... st-too-t-t-too-o-oppp sh-sh-sha-akk-king-ing m-m-me-e-e-e..."

He complied... when he was damn-well ready. But comply he did.

She was breathing hard, her face flushed, her smile about to crack her face in half. "Gaara... why didn't you just ask me?"

"What?"

"Why didn't you ask me what love was like? I'd been telling you how much I love you all this time and you've been mocking me. You used my love as an excuse to have sex with me but you never knew what love was. So why not ask me?"

"I didn't know... I mean, I knew but... what does it take to know that you are... like that? What are the qualifications of love?"

"Well, there's no real qualifications. Do you feel anything towards me? Tell me how you feel."

Gaara bit his lip in irritation. Didn't girls share feelings? Was she trying to turn him into a girl? He shook his head and decided to give it a try. After all, you don't love someone for so long and not come back with anything to show for it. "You make me feel sick... and warm. It's odd but I don't think that it's a bad thing. At least I haven't thrown up yet because of it. But... I don't know."

"You sound confused." He nodded and she continued talking. "I'll tell you what I feel. You may not feel the same but I feel the same warmth. Worms wiggle around in my stomach instead of butterflies fluttering. I want to know if you're having a good day or when you're having a tough time, I want to know what's wrong so that I can try to make you feel better. Even if I can't do anything to help, I'd like to be there for you. I want to see you smile, wipe your tears away when you do get sad, hold you when you want to be held, support you even if you don't need my help. Simply put... I love you."

((Wow... what does Gaara think about that? I've never been in love so all my sappy blathering comes from romance novels and other amazing fanfics that I'd found online. So until next time, read and review, my friends!))