(A/N: ...DON'T HATE ME! I'm sorry it has taken me soooooo long to write this! I keep forgetting I have this story and then I remember it and am all like, "Huh, maybe I should update that at some point in life". So here ya go! My external harddrive that had this whole story and my first rough draft of his chapter got in a car accident with me and got so beat up it won't work. I can retrieve the information off of it for $2,000 bucks according to Seagate but I don't have that kind of money and that's BS to the max yo! So I had to reread this story and rewrite this chapter but I did it all in two hours so BAM! Enjoy guys!)

Taste Tester

Chapter Twenty-Two: Gaara's Search

It was a little after sundown the following day when the vampire siblings emerged from their temporary shelter from the sun. It hadn't been too hard to find but the trio had barely gotten any sleep at all thanks to adrenaline, anxiety, and just pure worry. It had taken every ounce of Gaara's control to keep him from facing the deadly rays of the sun just to go get Sakura. They were so close and it was his stupid weakness to the sun that kept him from her side for yet another twelve-ish hours.

"Now remember Gaara, we're just scouting ok? No randomly attacking the entire coven. We won't win and you'll just be dying without getting the answers you desperately want. Keep your cool and listen, watch, and observe. We don't know where Sakura is but someone will definitely give it away. Sound good to you?" Temari explained, placing both hands on her hips intimidatingly.

The redhead lifted an eyebrow at her demands but nodded, "Even I know better than to run in headstrong. I'll listen, at least until I know where they're keeping her."

Kankuro patted him on the back and grinned, "I'm with you bro. When you attack, I'll be right at your side."

"Men, always so eager for a fight… Let's just go," Temari mumbled before racing off into the safety of the dark.

The demon lair wasn't more than a mile away from them. They had been seriously lucky to find a cave so close to their desired destination. The only obstacle now was keeping out of the demons' radar and staying hidden. They could not be spotted or their plans would be ruined. If the demons knew they were around, they would increase their defenses and make it that much harder to rescue Sakura.

"What the hell happened here?" Kankuro whispered, hiding up high in a tree overlooking the clearing that surrounding the ruined demon hideout.

The house looked worse for wear. It had several broken windows, doors, weapons littered the clearing, and the smell of blood still hung in the air. But it wasn't just demon blood they smelt, but human blood too. Lots of it.

"Were they attacked?" Temari questioned, mostly to herself.

Gaara's eyes narrowed curiously. "There is no creature that can challenge a demon besides a vampire. Something isn't right with this picture. Judging by the smell of human blood I would guess that humans attacked them, and did fairly well since there are no bodies lying about."

Kankuro snorted, "Yeah right, humans attacking demons? That's suicide."

"You have a better explanation?"

"Well no but it is completely insane, isn't it?" Kankuro mumbled in defense.

Temari rolled her eyes, "Shut up both of you. Look!"

The boys stopped their arguing to watch as a blonde demon exited the building with a familiar red haired demon. Gaara clenched his fists at the sight of them, 'Sasori and Deidara I believe. Fucking demons…' he mentally spat.

"Leader-sama has ordered for us to go after her as soon as we know who and what we're dealing with. Deidara since you failed in your task to keep the girl under our care, it's your job to go scout out our new enemies. Take a few newborns with you for extra protection and bring back whatever information you can. We cannot lose her, especially not to a bunch of humans. We will retrieve her, even if we have to slay an entire village in the process," Sasori ordered.

Deidara flinched under his gaze and nodded solemnly, "Yes Sasori."

"Don't return until you have plenty of information. Numbers, location, traps, weapons, and any other detail you can find. Only then will Leader-sama agree to see your face here once again."

"Y-yes Sasori, un."

The redhead turned up his nose to the miserable demon and headed back inside, leaving Deidara to clench his wounded arm and shuffle off to find some lackeys.

"So did anyone else hear that?" Kankuro asked, breaking the silence once the demons were out of hearing range.

Gaara nodded slowly, his mood increasing dramatically. "Sakura is alive and somewhere safe away from these demons."

Temari smiled at her brothers, "This is great news! Our chances of rescuing her are much higher now! Humans are way easier to fight than demons for sure."

"But these are no ordinary humans. They took on an entire demon coven. They are either very strong or very foolish. Regardless, they won and kidnapped Sakura. We have to find Sakura's scent, track it to the humans, and do exactly as Sasori stated: stay out of sight and get information. We have no idea what we're dealing with but we need to do this faster than the demons AND stay out of their range as well. Think you can handle this with me?" Gaara explained.

Kankuro smacked his shoulder smartly earning a growl from the younger vampire. "As if you could shake me off! I'm with you til the end little bro."

"I wouldn't think of leaving you two males to face all this alone. You definitely need a feminine brain around to keep you out of harm's way, well and to keep you two from killing each other. I'm in too," Temari replied, winking at him.

Gaara nodded curtly then stood up, "Fine, I'll track her scent and lead the way. We'll find them before long and hopefully figure out what we're up against before nightfall."

"Anything you say Gaara," Kankuro stated, jumping up as well.

"Track away hound dog," Temari added, getting to her feet,

The redhead glared at her before jumping down to the forest floor and scurrying through the trees, out of any demons' sights and as quickly as he could. He would find her scent in no time and maybe catch a glimpse of her before night fall. 'I hope!' he mentally shouted.

"And that's how you throw a kunai!" Naruto stated, proudly waving a hand toward the target at the end of the ten yard trench.

Sakura had been up with the younger demon hunters all day, watching them train and argue pretty much the entire day. Currently they were in a trench with two manmade rows with a big wooden target at the very end of each row. Naruto had insisted on teaching Sakura how to throw kunai's so he brought her down into this random deep trench with Tenten, Ino, and Kiba.

"You throw like a girl," Kiba taunted.

Ino clocked him in the head making him groan and hold his throbbing skull. "I can hit harder than you, moron. Watch what you say."

Tenten nodded and twirled her kunai skillfully, "I second that."

"Ugh, my bad."

Sakura smirked at Naruto who was still waiting for some acknowledgement. "That was impressive, Naruto. I must admit I've never seen anyone throw a dagger so far before! And so accurately!"

"Psh, that's no dagger and he didn't even hit the dead center! Watch this," Ino interjected, stealing Tenten's kunai to launch it down the second row, hitting the center perfectly.

"That's exactly what I did!" Naruto argued.

"No way, yours was spinning to the left the whole time."

"Wanna bet? We hit the same spot."

"I'll prove it, come here!" Ino snapped, running the target with the hyper blonde hot on her heels.

Tenten sighed in their absence, "I apologize for their competitiveness. Ino is hardheaded at times and Naruto is just dumb. They are entertaining to hang out with though."

"Oh I don't mind, I like playful teasing like that. I just got done living with three siblings who bickered all the time. It was fun to watch and sometimes even settle arguments. Must be something you get when you spend so much time with someone, huh?" Sakura replied.

"You lived with three siblings that weren't your own? Why would you willing enter a situation like that?" Kiba questioned, knowing that having one sister was far more than enough.

Sakura shook her head, "Well at first it wasn't willingly but I've really come to like them a lot. I hope to join their family one day but I have to find them first. I have no idea where their house is located from here though, and Tsunade won't let me leave until she's done using me as bait too."

"You're more than just bait Sakura, you're our friend now too! I'm sure you'll be back with your friends in no time. We just have to be patient," Tenten piped up.

Akamaru rubbed his giant body against the rosette female making her smile and pat his head gently, "I hope you're right Tenten. I miss them all a lot."

"Naruto sucks everyone!" Ino yelled, joining back up with them.

Naruto pouted and crossed his arms over his chest, "I do not! The target is tilted."

"Excuses. Anyway, it's getting kind of late out so I better head back to my house now. I'll catch you in the morning," Ino stated before jumping out the trench.

"She has the right idea, we have been up training most of the day. I'll take Akamaru back home and get a decent night's rest for once. See you later guys. Bye Sakura," Kiba said, before jumping onto Akamaru's back and riding off into town.

Tenten scratched the back of her neck worriedly, "I suppose it is kind of dangerous to be out in the forest this late at night. Not that I doubt my skills as a hunter but I don't want to face a hoard of demons with only Naruto at my side. I'll probably die that way and Sakura will get kidnapped all over again!"

"I'm not dead weight ya know!" Naruto whined.

"Says you…" she mumbled.

Sakura glanced around at the dark trees above their heads, hoping distantly for a glimpse of her favorite vampire. 'Are you nearby Gaara? Have you come to find me yet?' she wondered.

"Grab my hand Sakura," Naruto said, offering her his hand to pull her out of the trench.

She hadn't even noticed he had climbed out but she accepted his offer and allowed him to pull her out of the trench with Tenten right behind her. "So home then?" she asked.

"Yeah, I'm starving!" Naruto replied, patting his stomach.

"You're always hungry. Let's hit the ramen shop before bed, what do you say Sakura?" Tenten suggested.

"Sounds good to me."

Naruto cheered and raced ahead of them toward the lit village.

As they neared the entrance, a familiar figure stepped out of the shadows to meet them. "Tenten you know better than to keep our guest out so late. What if she had been spotted and kidnapped?" Neji scolded, glowering at her.

Tenten frowned at her old teammate, "I'm sorry Neji, I didn't realize it had gotten so late."

"Don't yell at her, I'm to blame too!" Naruto interrupted.

"But you don't have any brains, she does. I was five seconds from coming to retrieve her myself," Neji pointed out.

The blonde boy gasped in outrage but Sakura stepped forward before he could explode, "The point is that I'm here now and safe. Can we just get inside before I really am kidnapped or something?"

The pearl-eyed man stared at her for a moment then nodded, "Of course. You go right inside, I'll scold these two for a moment longer."

Sakura opened her mouth to argue but Tenten shook her head, "Just go Sakura. He's a tight-ass but I've dealt with his lethal mouth for years."

Neji snorted at the insult but Sakura only sighed and did as she was told. It was going to be a long night.

Gaara took in the sight before him in silent glee. Standing at the very edge of the village was Sakura, alive and well. She seemed perfectly at ease with the group around her and looked relaxed, but he had expected this since she was among humans rather than filthy demons now.

"Sakura!" Temari exclaimed as quietly as she could.

"Well I'll be damned, I honestly didn't think we'd get to see her since this is the closest we can get," Kankuro commented.

Gaara wanted nothing more than to race down there and scoop her up in his arms right this second but he knew he'd be dead before his feet even touched the ground. There were traps everywhere, not to mention human guards all over the woods. It was miracle they had gotten this close but for now they could remain in this spot until the humans patrolled this area.

"So what now? We know she's alive and looks unharmed but these humans don't look too friendly. If we randomly walked up they would probably kill us on sight," Temari explained.

"We're not going to do anything tonight. All I wanted was a glimpse and I got it. Now I have to somehow get her away from the village long enough to at least talk to her and figure out what our next action will be. I don't just want to save her, I want those demons dead. They will forever come after her until she dies so we need them dead right away and we can't do that alone," Gaara answered.

Kankuro cocked his head to the side, "Do you think they'll willingly work with vampires to kill them all?"

"I have no idea but it doesn't hurt to find out. But to do so I need Sakura's help. I have to leave a message for her somehow to meet us tomorrow night. Temari, do you have any ideas?"

"Hmm…well we could carve her name in a tree or something? Or maybe your name? But it has to be somewhere she'll find it," Temari offered.

Kankuro snapped his fingers. "How about multiple trees?"

"She would definitely see the message then," Temari agreed.

The redhead nodded slowly, "Alright, Temari you mark two trees south of the town, Kankuro two trees to the north and I'll mark one on the east and one on the west. Pick good trees, one that she couldn't miss if she wanted too."

"And don't be seen Kankuro," Temari warned.

The painted vampire rolled his eyes, "Even I'm not dumb enough to be caught by humans."

"We'll see. Meet back here in a few," Gaara ordered before dropping to the ground and running off to fight some trees.

It seemed like a silly plan but only Sakura knew his name so marking the trees with his name would mean nothing to the other humans here. They might be thoroughly confused but they wouldn't understand the message like she would. It was a message only for her and hopefully she would see it by tomorrow, that way by tomorrow night she would be in his arms once again.

'I look forward to that more than anything else in the world. I will hold you again Sakura, I swear it,' he vowed mentally, before slashing his name into the tree before him.

The demons hadn't located the village yet so Gaara wasn't worried about them seeing him just yet. They had left their coven not long after the vampires but newborns had their own directives and randomly ran off from time to time, leaving Deidara to chase after them and delay his mission longer than he would've liked. It sounded silly but it was going to help Gaara and his siblings out very well in the long run. Every minute Deidara was delayed, was a minute Gaara could devote to Sakura's rescue, and that is something very, very valuable to him.

"Ok, I'm officially full. No more ramen will fit in my stomach for at least five or six hours," Naruto announced, leaning back on his chair.

"You're such a pig Naruto. Eight bowls?! That's inhuman," Tenten remarked.

The blonde boy turned his nose up at her. "You don't have to pay for it so quit your nagging."

"I still had to watch that horrific scene. I'm scarred for life now, thanks," she mumbled.

"Nag, nag, nag, nag, nag!"

Sakura giggled and pushed her bowl aside, "You don't get along with anyone here, do you Naruto?"

"Actually no one gets along with ME. I'm very enjoyable to be around," he replied.

"Said no one ever." Tenten piped up.

Neji rubbed his forehead tiredly, "You two act like children."

"And you act like a cranky old man," Naruto countered.

"It's called maturity. Do it."

Tenten yawned and stretched high above her head, "Well that's all I can take for the night. I'm calling it quits. Sakura, you coming home with me?"

"Actually I was hoping to stay with Naruto tonight."

The group stared at her in shock, even Neji looked surprised. "Are you serious?" Tenten asked.

"If Naruto is ok with it, yeah," Sakura answered determinedly.

"Hell yeah I'm ok with it! I'll sleep on my pull-out mat and you can have my bed! It'll be my first sleepover since my last mission!" Naruto exclaimed excitedly.

Neji shook his head, "If you had any sense you'd stay as far away from his house as possible, Sakura."

"Well I need to talk to him so staying with him is my best option. Besides, I like Naruto so far! I'm sure overtime he can become super annoying but I don't plan on being here long enough for that to happen. I'll see you all in the morning though. Goodnight guys," Sakura stated, dipping her head politely.

"Night," Tenten murmured, watching the couple leave the shop.

"You really want to talk to me Sakura? What about?" Naruto question, not even two seconds after exiting the shop.

The rosette shrugged, "Let's wait til we're in your house before I say too much about it. I just have a feeling you'll understand my situation better than anyone else in the village. I need someone I can trust with my secret."

"Oh man, I get to know one of Sakura's secrets! Let's hurry!" Naruto urged, taking her hand and running to his house near the entrance.

Naruto lived alone in his tree-fort without much of anything. The interior was pretty empty except for a bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen. It didn't seem possible to cook anything up in a tree or go to the bathroom for that matter but she'd learn all about that in time, if she got curious enough. Right now she just wanted to get this off her chest.

"Ok so I'll sleep here on this mat and you can have my bed, which is right in here…Um, let me clean it quick. Stay in here," Naruto said hurriedly, pushing her back out of the bedroom before she could get a good look at the inside.

She didn't mind a messy house; it was how it chose to live and she wouldn't say anything of it. But if it made him feel better to clean it quick then who was she to judge?

"All better! Just some laundry that needed to be moved. Come on, let's sit on the bed and you can tell me your secret," Naruto piped up from the bedroom.

Sakura entered the dimly lit bedroom and stepped over clothes to sit beside him on the surprisingly big bed. "Ok, what I'm about to tell you, you can't tell anyone else. I need help from someone inside the village and I need someone who can trust me and that I can trust. I want to help you guys defeat those demons but I have something I need to do first before I become bait."

"Sure, what do you need to do?"

"I need to find someone, a friend of mine. I was living with him and his family right before I was kidnapped. He has no idea what really happened and probably hates me right now. I have to make things right and then I'll help you guys out in any way I can."

He nodded in understanding before pointing at her. "Your boyfriend?"

She blushed and shook her head, "I-I don't think we're dating but I do like him a lot. I left on bad terms and I just want to see him and clear things up before things get critical with the demons."

"Do you have to leave the village to see him?" he asked, knowing that getting her out of the village would be pretty difficult.

"Maybe. I'm sure he's nearby, if not right outside the village now. He's probably been following me since I was kidnapped, just wanting answers but I haven't been able to give him any. The last time I switched places it was daytime and that was when Neji saved me from the demons and brought me here. Gaara couldn't have witnessed that so he might be even more confused right now," Sakura explained.

Naruto was really confused now. "Wait, daytime? Can't he come out in the daylight?"

"Well no, and this is where you learn my secret. See Gaara….he kinda, sorta, might be a vampire."

(A/N: Ok so that's chapter 22, now I just have to get my ass in gear and finish this damn story :P I don't have a laptop right now either cuz that broke in California so I'm only able to write when I'm at my parent's house once every two weeks or so :\ Not good odds I know but hey at least I got one chapter out! Hope you liked it, next chapter is the big REUNION! Don't miss it, keep checking for updates, review, and please continue to love me ;) I promise I'll continue updating til this story is finished, I will NOT leave it hanging! Trust me my lovely readers and I will honor your trust with more chapters and more SakuxGaa. Thanks again everyone!)