Title: Best Present Ever

Author: paws-bells

Characters/Pairing: Haruno Sakura and Sabaku no Gaara

Type: One-shot (Complete)

Genre: General/Romance

Word Count: 2895

Theme: LJ Community, Lethal Empathy Challenge #26, Best Present Ever

Rating: T (Contains content not suitable for children)

Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Kishimoto-san.

Summary: The clichéd method of locking a pair of stubborn, quarrelsome lovers together in a room works after all, as Sakura and Gaara are about to find out. After all, how could it not; when one is covered in only a towel and the other is not as apathetic as he appears to be?

Chapter Last Revised on: 28/12/07

By now, Sakura was definitely no longer amused by the situation that she had been most unceremoniously dumped in by idiot Naruto and idiot Sai.

Not that she had been very amused in the first place—she had been more bemused by the usual antics of her teammates than anything else actually—but she was definitely downright near panicking now.

How on earth could they do something like this to her?!!

Pleasant surprise, her ass!

A severely aggravated look crossed the face of the almost hysterical kunoichi as she recalled the smiling faces of both her teammates. Naruto had been grinning so hard that he was squinting and Sai was smiling blankly as per usual. She should have known that they were up to no good; things never bode well for anyone involved when both Naruto and Sai were smiling—together.

She should have known, damn it. She should have!

Instead she had played stupidly along; not suspecting a thing even when both Jounins innocently produced a spa voucher for her from the most exclusive spa salon in Konoha. She had been beyond delighted by the boys' thoughtfulness of course; she had given the twenty-year olds enthusiastic hugs for their little Christmas gift, squealing like an excited child and thanking both Naruto and Sai for their present. She hadn't even found it odd when the two of them (Naruto, actually) could not seem to wait to herd her into the spa retreat straight away. All too pleased by the extravagant present Sakura was only too happy to go right away, seeing that her busy schedule for the day had already been conveniently cleared by a smiling Sai.

Sakura could have cheerfully and enthusiastically strangled both her teammates right now. With her bare hands.

Oh, the spa treatment itself had been heavenly; a perfect experience that pampered her like a little princess. By the time she completed the spa package, Sakura felt like she shone from head to toe. Her vibrant pink-hair gleamed with life, her skin had a peachy glow and she looked radiant, never mind the fact that she was still wrapped in a towel and nothing else.

Then she had been ushered into a room by the smiling employees, and it all went to hell from thereon.

Groaning inwardly, Sakura thumped her head repeatedly against the door that she had huddled herself up against. She was really going to kill them for this!

Charcoal-rimmed jade eyes observed the agitated female from the other end of the room. Unlike the Konoha kunoichi, the Godaime Kazekage appeared completely unperturbed by the fact that he was being locked in a room with Haruno Sakura, who was currently dressed in a skimpy white towel and nothing else, the lucky man.

"The door is not going to open even if you crack your skull knocking against it."

His placid remark echoed across the room and made the pink-haired beauty stiffen. Sakura turned around slowly and stared at the powerful shinobi currently sitting calmly on the edge of the huge bed that encompassed a ridiculously large chunk of the room. Sakura blanched, and then quickly turned bright red at the sight.

At least he was still fully clothed in Kazekage regalia and not half-assed naked like she was.

Sakura frowned at the unfairness of it all. And what was with Naruto and Sai anyway? Geez…locking her in here with him. The other two Jounins were fully aware of her cold war with him and still they had to go and do this. Sakura really did not appreciate their interference at all.

And this was definitely their work alright. No sane person safe for the idiots of Team Seven would have been daring enough to trick the powerful head of Suna into something like this—and she just knew that Gaara would have went anywhere Naruto told him to, no questions asked. They were that good friends.

Sakura could not help but feel a little betrayed. And this 'lock-the-two-squabbling-lovers-together' plan was so ridiculous, anyway. What were they? Still little Genins?

"At least I'm trying." The kunoichi snapped irritably back at the impassive redhead, her growing temper doing nothing to curb her sharp retort. "What the hell, I'm going to punch my way out."

It was a rather good idea and thus decided; the pink-haired female started to gather chakra to her fist. Imagine her surprise when it was promptly covered by a heavy layer of sand almost immediately.

"Don't do it."

Her irritation grew immediately at the bland look on his face. That emotionless stare of his never failed to set her off—and was he doing it purposely to annoy her further? Sakura gritted her teeth.

"And why not?" She demanded immediately.

He looked at her pointedly, roving his gaze slowly from the tops of her creamy shoulders to the dainty arch of her feet. Despite her anger at him she started to turn pink at his intent perusal. She was also quick to remember that she was not properly dressed.

Oh…so that's why.

Whether they were currently in a lover's spat or not, there was just no way in hell he would allow her to prance around half-naked for other men to see.

With a defeated sigh, Sakura released the chakra in her hand. His sand fell away immediately the moment she did. She looked at him and could not help but twitch with displeasure at the impassive look on his face.

How on earth could he still be so calm about this?!

"Because doing anything else would be a waste of energy."

She wasn't even aware that she had spoken out aloud.

She scowled, then after making sure that her skimpy towel was tightly secured, began to make her way towards the huge bed as well. She tried her best not to associate the huge mattress with the handsome Kazekage currently sitting on it. From now on he was going to be asexual as far as she was concerned, and she sat herself gingerly on the other side of the bed.

He stared at her.


Wordlessly, the redhead refocused his gaze somewhere else.

Sakura's scowl worsened as she crossed her arms over her chest and looked the other way as well. This was the first time in three days that she was in such close proximity to him and she was so tensed because of it. But he was just sitting there, as calm as you please! This was unfair!

And this was entirely his fault in the first place.

Emerald eyes darkened as she remembered their argument three days ago. He had been so cold and frigid and it had hurt her even though she had tried her best to hide it. Had it been wrong of her to want to help ease his burdens sometimes? Life as a Kage was extremely stressful and draining and she knew it better than most; what with her shishou being the Hokage and her lover the Kazekage.

But she should have known that he was long used to being proud and alone and fiercely independent, and of course her feeble attempt to help had been met with utmost suspicion and stubborn pride. Did she think that he was unable to handle his duties? Did she think that he was too young…too mentally unstable?

Her well-intentioned actions had somehow reminded him of the initial disapprovals of the village council of Suna when he first took over his father's position and in the end Sakura had gotten the brunt of his icy temper, leaving the Konoha VIP complex in a flurry of pink hair and tearful emerald eyes.

And now, finally sick of Gaara's increasingly volatile temper as well as Sakura's brave but obviously distressed façade, their friends had decided to force the two proud and stubborn beings together to fix things once and for all—by hook or by crook.

It was too bad that Sakura was obstinately trying her best to ignore the enigmatic male sitting on the other end of the bed. If anyone was going to apologize, he was going to be the one to start! Sakura huffed softly to herself as she fought the growing ache in her heart.

She deflated almost immediately.

Damn, but she missed him so much. It was so rare for him to make the trip to Konoha and here they were spending his time here in a mulish standoff. Sakura felt like crying and to her horror, the telltale prickle in her eyes told her that she was tearing—again.

She was not going to cry in front of him!

The pink-haired kunoichi blinked rapidly and sucked in a deep, shaky breath.

It caught his attention of course—and it was most obvious to him that she was getting highly agitated. He looked at her slowly. She was mumbling to herself now, angrily pushing aside silky pink locks of hair that had fallen into her face away from her eyes as she tried her best to swallow her growing upset. She looked as beautiful as ever despite everything that she had been through the past few days, and if anything this experience had taught him that despite her incredible prowess as a strong and fiercely protective kunoichi, she was rather delicate emotionally. She hardly looked it most of the time, what with her strong and confident nature but she could be easily wounded by sharp words not from just anybody, but from those whom she cares—and loves.

Her most important people; and he had been one of them.

He had been careless with her that day. The increasing pressure that the elders had heaped upon him as well as the exhaustion of travel had made his temper a little shorter than before, and she had accidentally trod on a rather sensitive topic with him. Those were no excuse of course, but he had hurt her all the same.

Jade eyes stared at his petite pink-haired kunoichi. She was looking away from him, arms crossed protectively against her chest and back half-turned to him. Everything about her posture shouted that she trying to defend herself from being hurt by him again and—

And if he wasn't careful, he was going to lose her.

She was going to be stolen away from right under his very nose when he wasn't looking, when he was stuck in Suna and she left all alone in Konoha, where she could be easily charmed away by some caring, understanding shinobi of the Leaf. Someone who could make her smile and laugh easily, someone who didn't have a temper like his and would not hesitate to show her the affection that she craved so much.

His upper lip curled in a silent snarl at the notion of her smiling at a besotted male, her beguiling eyes soft with warmth and affection, her cheeks dusted by the lightest layer of pink. His sand stirred with increasing agitation.

There was no way in hell he would allow that to happen; let her give away his smile to somebody else. She was his to keep, and even if she changed her mind now he was not going to let her go.

It was something that she had to understand.

And it was then that Sakura noticed him looking at her—again. She frowned at him with suspiciously teary eyes but this time he did not look away. Instead, Sakura was mildly taken aback when he started to creep towards her, dark gaze intense.

Despite her very best efforts to control herself, her heart started to gallop like crazy within her chest.

Emerald eyes were wide as he came nearer and nearer, until she could literally feel the comforting heat that his body was emitting in waves. She froze.

"…Gaara?" She sounded slightly uncertain at the almost fierce look on his face. "I think it would be better if we-"

His eyes narrowed immediately. Better if we what? Stop seeing each other? Start seeing someone else instead? Was she finally getting tired of him? Did she want to terminate…their relationship?

If so, he wasn't about to let her finish.

Sakura barely had time to emit a startled gasp before he reached for her and promptly covered her mouth with his. Too stunned to react, she could only remain perfectly still as his lips devoured hers insistently. His hand came up to touch her face haltingly as his eyes burned into hers.

Sakura did not understand—but he was kissing her so passionately that it was hard to think. Her eyes slipped close eventually and she submitted to him at last, moving closer to him and returning his kiss tentatively.

His arm came around her waist to pull her nearer to him and she jolted slightly at the sudden contact before settling back down again, angling her face up to him and wrapping her arms around his neck.

His kiss was hard and thorough and completely possessive, and when he withdrew slightly from her she appeared most bemused by his abrupt burst of affection. Her lips were reddened from his assault and her eyes slightly dazed, and the earlier hints of anger and upset frustration in her eyes all but completely wiped clean.

"I'm sorry—but I'm not letting you go."

Her eyes widened as his firm tone.


She did not understand what on earth he was talking about. One minute she was trying to convince him to find a way to get them both out of here unscathed the next he was apologizing to her.

His eyes were fierce. He was equally convinced that she was just as determined to leave him.

"I apologize for hurting you that day but you chose me, Sakura." His voice was hard now, as if he was preparing himself for a difficult fight that he was most determined to win no matter the cost. "You chose me and I'm not going to let you change your mind and choose another."

The flare of uncertainty was so nearly imperceptible that she almost failed to detect it. Then she saw the grim look on his face, the quick flash of anxiety in his beautiful jade eyes.

She stared at him for a long time; and suddenly she understood why he was holding her so close to him, his gaze dark and so very possessive. She felt herself soften—to tell the truth he had already won half the battle when he kissed her earlier. She could never seem to resist him no matter how hard she tried, anyways.

"Is this your way of apology then?" She asked eventually in a soft tone.

He looked at her.


She started to smile joyously, and had he known that all it took was an apology from him he would have given it to her right away.

"I forgive you." She turned her head slightly to kiss the side of his mouth, and immediately the tension between them was dissolved just like that. "And don't be silly, I'm not planning to leave you just because of a little argument." She looked at him with mild reproach. "You hurt me though…but you apologized and kissed it better, so I'm not mad anymore. And if you ever do something like that again…I swear I'm going to punch you until all your teeth drop out."

Then she smiled innocuously at him—and it amazed him once again just how easy it was to please her. All it took had been a simple gesture on his part to take her pain away.

He was inwardly startled to realize that he held as much power over her as she did him.

"I was actually trying to convince you get us out of here…not try to break up with you." She mused aloud. Then her eyes danced with wry amusement. "Damn, this means that I'm going to have to thank Naruto and Sai-baka after all, aren't I-"

She sneezed before she could complete her sentence and he looked at her. Her hair was still slightly damp; she appeared freshly scrubbed, her skin glowing healthily with a most enticing scent of strawberries emanating from her. Before she could do anything else he bent his head and nudged his nose against her collar bone for a long sniff of her sweet scent. Then he ran his tongue down the length of her clavicle. She shuddered and turned pink at his affectionate behavior.

"Gaara-" She sounded slightly breathless.

"We will wait for them to let us out." His low voice was firm against her skin—but growing husky. She knew what that meant. Her eyes darkened and she did not resist when he started to coax her down onto the bed. "I'm quite sure that I can find something for us to do until then."

She blushed at his comment as long, callused fingers loosened her towel and started to tug them off her lithe frame. It had been so long since he had been allowed access to her—and he was most ravenous for his pink-haired lover. She sighed softly when he ran his lips across every inch of skin that he revealed.

"Gaara." She looked quietly into his eyes. "I will never purposely leave you. You know that, right?"

He looked at her upturned face, earnest and sincere. Jade eyes warmed fractionally.

"Aa. I know."