Strange Sleeping Arrangements
About 2100 words
M for safety
This one started out as an intended PWP, but the plot took over. I'm not offended, though I may finish & post the other version at my affdotnet account at some point.

Gaara still wasn't good at sleeping.

It hadn't mattered very much to him, really—he'd gone for so long without it that he hadn't immediately felt like he'd need to change the way his life went. But it still called to him, a terrible bone-deep weariness compounded by the chattering of Sand's medics, telling him that yes, he'd have been taller if he'd been able to sleep. Yes, he'd weigh more. Yes, he'd have better health and yeah, there's a chance he might not have been as irrational or wanted to kill people quite as much.

So he gave it a shot.

He woke up screaming.

It had to be the years he'd been without, the medics told him. Post-traumatic stress disorder, they said, and of a degree they'd never seen before. But he could almost hear their unspoken words: Unless they were able to walk him through sixteen years of being too terrified to ever sleep, he might never get a few calm hours let alone a full night.

They coaxed him into specialized meditations, gave him tea when he woke in cold sweats. They talked to him, droning endlessly, trying to convince him that his fears were years past. He locked them out of his newly furnished bedroom rather than see their expressions as he jolted, terrified, from another brief and uneasy slumber.

They gave him a specialized sleep aid, hoping it'd ease him enough for rest. But there'd been someone in the room that time, and when they came too close he'd attacked them before he'd even been fully awake.

As a group, Sand's medics stepped back. They gave up.

He knew he shouldn't have mentioned it to Naruto. But somehow it came up, and Naruto—being Naruto, and being determined to care for his friends no matter the nature of their problems—cajoled, threatened, pulled strings and twisted arms, and finally sent the person he considered best able to deal with any sort of medical dilemma. Sakura.

She read the previous medics' notes and talked to him for a little while as he weighed the gravity of her expression against her age and that ridiculous pink hair. Then she set him up in a hospital bed and sat down beside him in a chair for better observation.

All his practice meant he'd gotten a little better at sleeping. He managed to remain unconscious for almost half an hour before he struggled out of the subsequent blind rage to find her gripping his wrists, her blood dripping onto him from the claw marks on her arms.

She apologized to him even as she bandaged herself up; she made him another cup of tea and sat on the edge of his bed, her hand gentle on his shoulder, until he'd fought past his own self-disgust and gotten a hold of himself. The next cup she offered him contained a mild sedative, one created specifically to promote calmness; one, she told him, she'd successfully used on shinobi who'd gone into battle too young and come out with symptoms almost like his.

Gaara watched the way her gaze skimmed away from his and guessed: this was something she herself had used, as well.

His stomach tightened with worry—he was getting sick of this; the stress of all his wakings felt even worse than his not sleeping. But for the hope of something normal he accepted anyway, gulping the mixture down in one go and leaning back to rest, closing his eyes and letting the faint sound of her tuneless humming lull him into an easy, soft drift . . .

He must've dozed. That was the only explanation for the strange heaviness of his limbs, the sense of time having passed. But for the first time he wasn't waking terrified or already on his feet. Instead he remained prone, puzzled about the lack of fear . . . and the warmth pressed against his back, the heaviness draped across his side, and the damp rhythmic breath against the nape of his neck.

Yeah, he hadn't attacked anyone this time. But that didn't change the fact that there was someone. In. His. Bed.

For a second he was sure it was one of Sand's kunoichi, who'd snuck in for the chance to be near him when he couldn't drive them away. He'd drive them away now—he'd pitch them out the damned window. But when he looked down at the arm wrapped around him, the bandage covering the scratches he'd left just a short while before gave the girl's identity away.

And now he had a dilemma.

Whatever Sakura'd done had worked. But whatever she'd done had come with the added price—bonus?—of this strange arrangement.

He should probably pitch her out the window, too.

But he didn't particularly want to attack her again, intentionally or no.

He sighed; and as she snuggled a bit closer, he decided he could let it be for a little while longer. It wasn't sleep, but it was close. Warm, comfortable, he drifted, lulled by Sakura's warmth against his back and the slight weight of her arm over his waist, the soft crush of her chest against his shoulders and the light pressure of her fingertips against his stomach. Vaguely, he was aware of his body reacting to the situation, felt himself press, half-hard, against the fabric of his pants—but sometimes that operated independently of his conscious will. It wasn't anything to worry about.

Until her hand shifted against his stomach and bumped against him.

Now he would try to control it, willing down the flush of arousal at the contact. She was asleep. So if she accidentally groped him in her sleep, and he happened to like it—

Her hand moved again, sliding lower, her fingers feather-light as they encircled the tip of him, then delicately traced down his length. And as he hardened completely under her touch, he realized this wasn't an accident any more.

That was it; this was too much.

"Kunoichi, what are you doing?"

She jumped, jerking her hand away from him and scuttling almost completely off of the bed, and when he twisted to see her face she didn't seem able to look him in the eye. "I . . . I was, I . . ."

"You were?"

A pause; then the words came out, rapid-fire: "Just leaving."

Gaara expected her flight attempt—and when she tried to escape he caught her by her waistband and the back of her shirt, dragging her back to the still-warm spot she'd just vacated. "That's not a reason." Temper and lust, he found, were not a good combination, so he let her go and sat up rather than follow his first instinct and hold her down for the questioning. "Why are you here?"

"I . . ." She sat up as well, hand to her face as if to cover her embarrassment. "The sedative wasn't working. You made a . . . a noise in your sleep. It sounded like you were having another nightmare. I tried to calm you. You seemed to settle when I touched you, and . . . I was tired from the trip, and thought it'd be okay if I just sat there for a minute, and . . ."

And he'd ended up with a snuggly bedmate and half a hand job. His erection strained against his pants, reminding him that he'd very much like the rest of that hand job, and he reached down to adjust it to a more comfortable position.

Her eyes followed the motion, then remained there. "And . . ." A mutter that he couldn't decipher.


"And I didn't mean to, but then . . . You . . . It was an accident and—and . . . I'd never, well . . ." She didn't stop watching. "Does it . . . Did you do that because . . . I was there?"

"It's complicated," he grumbled, then slouched and glowered. Explaining the intricacies and quirks of his anatomy to her wasn't nearly so interesting a proposal as putting her hand back into place and letting her work things out on her own. Sand might be well and good as an ultimate defense, but it wouldn't do a damned thing to keep him from getting blue-balled by a curious kunoichi with wandering hands.

Sakura looked up at him, then back down, then up again. "Did it . . . upset you?"

Quite the opposite. He glowered more, shook his head once, and looked away.

"Gaara . . ." Her voice steadied, and he looked up to find her gaze steady on his. "We can keep this between us, right?"

That she, the supposed specialist ninja from Leaf, had abandoned all professionalism to grope him while he was supposed to be sleeping? Hardly a fair trade.

He could think of a better one.

"I won't tell anyone," he said. "On one condition."

Sakura hesitated, and he held out an arm to her. "Come here."

Hesitation shifted to alarm. "No."

"Not for that. That—" He gestured downward, speaking in part to order his body to behave. "That'll stop on its own."

"Then what?"

"I slept and it was all right." He shook his head, reminding himself to talk to her like his medic instead of his new warm, snuggly, frustratingly arousing toy. "No attacking anyone. No screaming. If that's what it takes . . ."

Gaara stopped, realizing that her look of trepidation wasn't directed at his face.

It seemed a guy with a hardon wasn't to be trusted, no matter his title.

"Would it make you feel better if I took care of it first?" he grumbled exasperatedly.

"Well, I . . ." Her forehead furrowed. "How would you—Oh."

He leaned back on his elbows; and because her touching him was vastly more interesting than his touching himself, he made the offer. "Unless you intended to continue satisfying your curiosity."

Sakura's expression shifted through a kaleidoscope of emotions: Horror, disbelief, curiosity, more horror, confusion, a brief second of consideration . . . and finally, resignedly, she sighed. "This bed is for sleeping, Gaara."

He thought of his bedroom, with its new futon and crisp sheets, and looked at her with renewed interest. "Which one isn't?"

Sakura rolled her eyes at him, though her lips quirked into a faint smile. "We can talk about that some other time." And with that, she lay back down at his side. "No ideas," she muttered, and fitted against him face to face, her forehead against his nose, one arm under his neck and her thigh between his.

"Like yours?" he countered, and felt her shoulders shake with a little chuckle.

"You know what they say about curiosity."

"It never killed anything of mine."

He felt her head move as she looked back down, her voice lilting sarcastically. "I can tell."

This was a lot more interesting than being unconscious.

Gaara relaxed, smiling to himself and exhaling contentedly against her forehead. He hadn't really wanted to sleep that much, anyway.