Disclaimer: Well, if I owned 'Naruto'… It would have been called 'Gaara'.

Note: My biggest and earnest thanks to my life-saviour and beta, Cardcaptor Eternity!! Readers, she's the sole reason your eyes aren't bleeding and scorching from my run-on sentences, she saved Naruto from choking between sofa cushions, and prevented the Council Room to be invaded by elephants.

Everything that is running smoothly is due to her, and when it's not, it's because I was not a good girl and messed up her corrections. She's so awesome she's even beta-ing the Header Note.

Warnings: Its more angsty than my precedent story, I'm afraid. But I'm a big softie, so I can tell you there will probably be a happy ending. Also, Naruto is a big jerk in this chapter… forgive him, he's upset!

Inner Obstacle

Naruto was walking at a brisk pace in the Hokage tower, his red Kage robes billowing around him. All the various ninja he encountered stepped aside and respectfully bowed their heads while he bypassed them, his face serious and purposeful.

One of the biggest perks of being a Hokage, the blond shinobi thought, was that if people thought he was on important business, nobody dared to disturb him. Except for Sakura, of course ('Naruto, don't "I have a meeting" me! Your appointment is supposed to – be - with me, baka!') or Ino ( 'What, sneaking off again?? And what about those reports I left on your desk, are they- hey, come back here!!') or Kiba, Shikamaru or the rest of the rookie nine ('Important meeting? Sure, but Ichiraku Ramen will wait till I delivered my report to you, Hokage').

So all he had to do was to set his face in an "I'm busy" mask and walk like he had a destination to go to at once and, provided that he did not meet one of his childhood friends, people wouldn't question his wanderings habits. That was a really useful trick when he wanted to flee from his office or hide from the less glamorous and more boring aspects of Kage duties.

Like now, for instance.

Of course, "hiding" was probably not the best way to phrase it. It sounded certainly less dignified than "taking a brief and deserved respite from Kage duties, after single-handedly managing the most boring Council of Kage lived from history".

But since Naruto had promised the Raikage a private meeting during the one-hour pause this morning's Council was allowed, and balked at the last moment, hiding was probably more accurate.

However now, a little more of ten minutes after finally finding an unoccupied room to 'not-hide' in, you couldn't tell that Naruto was currently enjoying himself.

The blonde had thought that he would snatch Gaara away, and 'not-hide' with him and do the things they usually do in between Kage meetings, which was mainly gossiping shamelessly about the Mizukage's drinking habits or the leader of the Grass Country's outrageously young new lover.

But the young Kazekage had somehow slipped away as soon as the meeting was over and Naruto had not been able to trace his chakra signature, not that he had dare to wander to much, in case of an unwanted encounter with a Jounin from the Raikage's suite, or worse, with Ino Yamanaka (and what the fuck had crossed his mind to make such a harpy his personal assistant? Ah, yes, the Possession Jutsu, very useful thing, to know what went through the mind of various diplomats, that). So far, his recess period had been far less funny than originally planned.

Naruto stared through the window, pouting slightly. The room he was in was large and unoccupied, left away by both guests and more importantly, the ANBU, because of it's rather modest proportions, secluded position and complete lack of strategic interest, though it did offer a nice view of Konoha.

It was usually where the Hokage brought Gaara, so he went there in hopes that the redhead would find him eventually, even if he was currently sitting behind the couch and not on it, just in case Yamanaka found him first.

Of course, hiding behind a couch was hardly enough for a trained shinobi and a true nosey person like Ino, thus Naruto was absentmindedly keeping his chakra as low as a small pin-head ball of energy, so unnoticeable that he himself would have trouble finding his own feet.

Naruto sighed. Fifteen minute into the recess, and still no Gaara. Of course, the redhead knew that he was occupied (or supposedly occupied) with the Raikage, so he wouldn't think of looking for him, but still, couldn't he sense, like a good friend, that Naruto was in dire need of a distraction?

That was one of the things Gaara was truly good at, usually. Naruto would need him, and the redhead would pop out of nowhere and either sit next to his friend in a companiable silence or talk with him (or rather, listen with a small smile while Naruto did most of the talking). They had developed a growing bond, first born from similar fates, then strengthening over shared hardships. Both being Kage had helped, too.

Over the years, the redhead had filled the gap left after Sasuke… after Sasuke. Naruto had discovered in the ex-jinchuuriki a soul that, for all its caustic attitude, was truly driven by a caring nature and the desire to protect his people and help them all, as well as sometimes 'get their collective heads out of their collective arse', as he would have said it.

He smiled fondly, thinking of how his stoic friend seemed to always know what was in his mind, even before the Hokage himself knew what was bugging him. Naruto knew that he was still the only one who could bring a smile on the Kazekage's lip, a real one, not the half smirk he gave to the rest of the world.

Well, maybe his siblings could, Naruto half-heartedly admitted. Gaara has considerably warmed up to them with the years. But he was one hundred percent sure he still was the only one who could make Gaara laugh. A sound that had first nearly startled Naruto to death (he had first though that the wheezing sound coming from the kazekage was due to asthma), he found it rapidly addictive and was now trying to make it happen as soon as possible (especially now that it had lost its wheezing quality to sound more normal).

That was why he looked forward to all the official meetings with the other Kage, rare as they were. In those moments they usually tried to spend all their free time in each other's company catching up, talking, drinking, and generally strengthening the unique bond they shared.

The current event taking place in Konohagakure was a big one scheduled to last a couple of weeks at least, because it was not so often that you can gather the most powerful leaders under the same roof (and without one of them wanting to blow it away, no less). The Hokage was the one leading it, meaning he was on a tighter schedule than the rest of the assembly but despite this, he had to forfeit only one evening with the Kazekage.

Naruto looked at his pocket watch, and grimaced. Twenty minutes into the recess. Well, he might as well give up on Gaara and try to find the Raikage now.

He was tensing his muscles to get up when he heard the door open and close, somewhat abruptly.

'Shit! Ino!'

He froze, and frantically clenched his chakra down.

But as he was trying to make one with the carpet, he noticed two things: first, that the person who has entered was suppressing its chakra as well, something Ino was not very good at when she was angry, and second, that judging from the sounds of the footsteps behind him, the person was actually persons.

He pondered for a moment as to what would they do in such an isolated room, when the sounds of laboured breathings and rustling of clothes gave him his answer. Naruto grinned. So he was about to witness a make-out session, wasn't he? Man, Jiraiya would have been so proud!

The soft panting grew slightly louder, and if Naruto was one to judge, they were coming from two very masculine bodies. The Hokage bit his lips to prevent a chuckle. So, would he finally be able to confirm all those rumours about Raidou and Genma? Heh, he'd wait just a tiny moment before leaping from behind the sofa and embarrassing the hell out of-

A low moan escaped one of the men, and for a microsecond, chakra flared.

Naruto's smile was instantly wiped from his face. He felt as if his insides were clenched by an icy fist.

'No, not him. It can't be...'

Slowly, oh so slowly, as if to give time for the world to right itself, Naruto rose and finally turned to look at the two intruders.

They were both shirtless, and sprawled against the door as if they couldn't fucking wait to go fully inside to paw at each other.

One of them was tall, with a muscular chest and blue hair. Naruto dismissed him at once. His eyes were on his companion.

His smaller and slender companion.

With red hair.

With pale, smooth and flawless skin.

And a freaking Sand gourd lying at his feet, along with his discarded upper clothing.


Just then, the blue haired man, whose disgusting hands were roaming all over the redhead's body, dipped his head to bite at the junction between his companion's neck and shoulder, and pushed their hips together.

Another moan escaped the smaller man, and he turned his head to give the man a better access to the pale column of his neck, offering a full view of his pleasure-flushed profile to Naruto.

'Fucking Gaara'

Naruto watched the quivering black eyelids, the hazy and unfocused blue orbs peeking behind them, the slightly parted lips and the red blush that was blossoming on his face, wholly resulting in a look that Naruto had never seen before.

He was so wrapped up in his own world that he did not realize he had released his hold on his chakra, which was now growing accordingly to his emotional turmoil.

He did not realize that the two men before him had frozen, both shocked by the unexpected burst of wild chakra and killing intent that had surged toward them.

He did notice, however, the blue-haired Jounin detaching himself from Gaara's neck and raising his head. Then the man met his eyes, paled and immediately took a step backward, hitting the door rather loudly in the process.

Gaara still has not moved.

Naruto knew that the redhead had recognized him from his chakra signature, and yet, was refusing to acknowledge him, a fact that both angered and darkly pleased the Hokage.

"Probably too ashamed to meet my eyes now… and right he should be".

He circled the sofa and slid toward the door, stopping only when he reached Gaara's level.

"My, my" he said in an overjoyed tone that was eons away from his normally cheerful one "I know that my dear 'friend'" he used the word to pour as much scorn as he could "the Kazekage, is dedicated body and soul to strengthening the bonds between the different villages, but Gaara…"

The redhead had finally turned his head to look at him, and he was even more angered by the blank gaze he was offered, the one usually reserved for everyone, but him.

The blond bent to pick up some of the discarded clothes.

"But Gaara… be careful not to cross the border of decency in the process and cause shame to your village"

He sighed and held up the clothes between his thumb and forefinger, as if they were dirty rags and not the blue and white Kazekage's robes.

"Well… too late for that I suppose." And he threw the robes in Gaara's face.

In two powerful strides, he was out of the room.


It took a full minute for Nobuo Sasagawa, elite Jounin, captain of the Tsuchikage's personal guard, to regain enough of his frayed nerves and dress himself properly.

For the moment he recognized the chakra as the Leaf Leader's, and despite a killing aura so powerful that it had successfully froze him down, he had ceased to think that he was really in mortal danger, but when he had finally looked at the Hokage…

His eyes were bloody red.

And his lips were bared in a totally humourless smile that only served to show the bloody fangs in his mouth.

So he stay frozen and did not say a thing when the Konoha Leader spoke –or rather, insulted- the Kazekage, and bypassed him to get to the door.

Of course, Nobuo has always known that the Rokudaime Hokage was a Jinchuuriki, a man-demon, but knowing it and actually witnessing evidence of it was totally different.

More frightening, for once.

Funny how till now he had thought of Naruto Uzumaki as a powerful shinobi, but an easy going and laidback kind of guy, something that in the eyes of the Jounin, made him nearly harmless. Well, that certainly was a mistake, like thinking that he was too nice to be a true homophobic and certainly not the kind to sprout a malevolent aura like acid fumes at the sight of two guys with their hand in each other's pants.

Putting the last of his clothes –his Jounin vest- back in place, he turned toward the Kazekage (he will never be able to think of him as 'Gaara' outside of bed, and never before he had been in a less bedroom-like mentality than now) for parting words which then died in his throat.

The Kazekage had not moved at all. He was still half-undressed, with no top and his fly opened. His eyes were completely empty, and he was clutching the blue and white robes in his hand.

Nobuo felt a twinge of pity in his chest. The young man did not deserve to be treated that way, it obviously affected him, and he looked so young and... small? No, wait, he was not getting smaller, he was sinking on his knees.

Before the Mist nin's eyes, the redhead slowly burrowed his face in the kage's robes and yelled. And the jounin who had stayed still faced to Naruto's wrath, fled from the anguish in that cry.


At the end of a day that had to be the most bizarre of her whole career as the Hokage's assistant, Ino Yamanaka really thought that she had faced too many emotions in the scope of one afternoon.

First, she had been angry when she had realized that Naruto was once again skirting off his duties, and hiding away from her like a guilty schoolboy caught skipping classes.

Then she had panicked when she felt a burst of chakra like no other coming from a deserted part of the building. She had raced toward it, thousands of frightening hypotheses running in her head as to why her Hokage was reacting that way. Was he under attack? Hurt?

Relief was very short-lasted, flooding when she spotted him alive and visibly not pursued nor surrounded by enemies, and retreating at once when she realized that the atypical chakra was still rolling off him in waves. And then she saw his eyes. Red.

Fear had been immediate, and was still there, though it was now also mixed with wariness and confusion. Still, she followed her boss, who had stormed back in the Council's Room. He was seated when she entered, and his eyes were back to their original sky blue, though his face was unusually set. Even so, and despite him being half an hour early before the Council was due to resume, she took her place behind him.

Slowly the Room began to fill with dignitaries. Ino saw a man from the Raikage's suite trying to approach Naruto, a frown on his face, and –probably- reproaches about the failed private meeting on the tip of his tongue, but suddenly the Raikage –a Genjutsu prodigy of mere 14 years old- held his arm out, effectively stopping the man.

After a puzzled glance at his master, the diplomat relented and sat back down. Ino started breathing again; truth be told, she was not sure that the Hokage was stable enough to be bothered right now; she could still feel his chakra going on and off.

On the other hand, the fact that the Raikage had noticed Naruto's inner turmoil was not good news, because it meant that most of the people in the room noticed it too, which was a diplomatic faux pas. Of course, the faces of the three other Kage were complete masks of blank politeness, but there was a telltale nervous shifting from their respective shinobi.

As time went by, the air seemed to fill more and more with tension. Everyone in the room now had picked up the peculiar atmosphere and traced it back to the Hokage's chakra pattern.

Tension soon changed to nervous shifting as time trickled by, and the obvious lateness of the Sand's delegation was beginning to weight on everyone's mind.

Finally, when Ino was nearly sure she would burst with the tension of it all; the Council Room's double doors opened one last time to the Kazekage and his Jounin Guard.

Gaara looked the same as usual, and only Ino, who knew him well, could notice the slight tightening around his lips and eyes, and how he looked stiffer than usual.

Of course, body language reading was completely overrated here, since as soon as the Kazekage passed the door, Naruto emitted an angry spike of chakra, as perceptible for the assembly as the sound of a plate crashing to the floor.

The mind-reader Jounin groaned internally. Now everyone and their neighbour could surely pinpoint the source of Hokage's displeasure as the Kage from Suna, who normally was the closest ally of the Leaf. Great. She could just visualize the diplomatic turmoil of the coming days. Now she only had to hope that nothing serious was behind it.

She eyed him warily as the redhead took his seat seemingly without noticing everything, but really avoiding looking in the Hokage's direction.

Shortly after that, Naruto announced, between clenched teeth and with eyes that were burning a hole in the wall somewhere next Gaara's head, that the afternoon session was opened.

Fear had taken hold, and would not let go.

-- TBC --

Voilà! Yeah, Naruto is a meanie… he'll get better I promise… but maybe slightly worse beforehand… OO

Constructive criticisms are more than welcome, and reviews make me more creative, I swear!