Author's notes: I don't own Naruto, Gaara, or any of the lot. I borrow them while Kishimoto isn't looking... but I think he knows. He doesn't even mind when I put them away dirty and in awkward positions.

Warnings: mild language, to be upgraded to naughty language later, and sexual themes, hopefully to be upgraded to sexually explicit things later... indeed that's where the story seems to be going.

If you see any grammatical errors or anything worth remarking upon, please feel free to do so. I will not pretend to be a good author and am open to criticism.

Pairings: Eventual NaruGaa, yes? I love NaruGaa... maybe some GaaNaru even.

Summary: Gaara is sick, but he doesn't know what's wrong. Can Naruto help him sort out these new strange feelings? GaaNaru NaruGaa


"Are you well, Kazekage-sama?" One of the Hokage's jounin, whose name he did not know, was smiling politely at him. Gaara nodded non-committally.

"Fine," he replied, shifting his eyes discreetly to the ninja's face to read his expression for a moment. He reasoned that it was just a civil request about his health, nothing more. He certainly hoped he did not look as unwell as he felt.

Gaara had never been sick before, so he wasn't quite sure what to expect. He had decided to make the trip to Konoha instead of being treated in his village; though Suna had made much progress in the field of medical treatment since their renewed alliance with Konoha, the leaf village was still the most renowned. And its Hokage just happened to be the most skilled.

Besides, whatever his ailment was, it was not ordinary. It was mystifying, frustrating, and potentially embarrassing. He could not remember being so miserable for a very long time. His thoughts swam in strange paths, his body betrayed him, and his dreams were unsettling, to say the very least. Gaara did not want any word to travel in Suna that he was stricken with some psychologically detrimental disease that would leave him unfit for his position as Kage. He hadn't even told his brother and sister what his symptoms were, though Temari had promised him a real threat to his health if he didn't confess. In response, he had ordered her to stay behind and act as Kage in his absence. She made a very able leader, in his opinion; he just didn't think she should be granted the power for long periods of time. It always went to her head.

Gaara's mind came back to him as the two men escorted him inside the Hokage's office and gestured for him to sit down. He signaled for his guard to stay behind, giving them quiet permission to disperse and do what they wished. After all, Gaara felt safer in the Hidden Village of the Leaves then anywhere else in the world.

"We apologize for the inconvenience, Kazekage-sama," the other jounin said deferentially. Sama Sama, always Sama. Gaara wasn't sure if he liked it or not. "The Hokage has been alerted of your arrival. She should be here soon."

"That's fine," he toned softly. "We did arrive ahead of schedule, after all. There is no rush," he added quietly. He was finding it difficult to concentrate, and a small migraine was forming behind his temple like a thundercloud. He focused instead on arranging his robes around him as he sank in to the comfortable armchair provided for him, then steepled his fingers underneath his chin, his sand gourd resting heavily on the floor beside him.

When the two men left he relaxed his posture, his shoulders drooping and his hands falling over the arms of his chair. He let his head sink into the cushion behind him. There was a plainly troubled look on his face. Lately, he had been adopting similar expressions like this more and more, though he still only wore them in private.

Gaara did not have long to brood, however, because a few moments later the heavy double doors behind him clattered open as he heard Tsunade enter the room. He had already regained his composure and sat stiffly, almost regally, as he waited for... what, he did not know. To find out what his affliction was, hopefully.

The Hokage leaned against her desk in an oddly informal way that didn't seem odd at all. She smiled warmly at Gaara, who began to rise, but she gently gestured for him to sit back down.

"Ahh, Gaara-sama," she started, her smile returning. At least she called him Gaara, he thought listlessly. "Your visit is welcome... though somewhat, er, unexpected."

Gaara looked up at her coolly. "I'm sorry if I've put you out at all."

Her eyebrows arched. "No, of course not. It's always nice to get a visit from your favorite political ally. And good friend," she added almost shyly. "Plus, it's pleasant to talk to a colleague now and then, someone who knows what it's like."

That was probably some well aimed snipe at his age, seeing as how she was more than old enough to be his grandmother, but it was also probably meant in good humor. The people in Konoha, he reflected, had a much better developed sense of humor than those in Suna.

He leveled his gaze at her and nodded. "Yes, I suppose. However, I have to tell you, I did not exactly come here in a political capacity." Her eyes widened slightly, inviting him to continue. "I... have a slight problem. I'm hoping that you, with your medical expertise... might be able to help me," he finished, averting his gaze to the expansive view behind her, out the large office windows.

Tsunade walked around her desk and deposited herself behind it. She cupped her chin in her hand and looked at Gaara directly, a stern and curious glaze about her eyes.

"What's wrong with you?" Tsunade was, more often than not, blunt and to the point. "You don't look physically ill. Is it your chakra?" She tilted her head to the side, her warm brown eyes still regarding him with curiosity.

Far from being offended, Gaara expelled a tiny sigh of relief. He was glad she appreciated directness; he was a man of few words, and didn't like to waste them on trivialities. Getting to the point, no matter how much he dreaded it, was exactly what needed to be done.

He lifted his fingers to his left temple and rubbed the skin there idly, his eyes flitting to everything but the woman in front of him. Tsunade remained still and quiet, but her interest was piqued. What, she thought to herself, could be responsible for this? She'd never seen him more agitated. She doubted anyone had.

"Well... um." He mentally kicked himself. He did not say um. "That is.." He cleared his throat to rid himself of the giant obstruction that had lodged itself effectively in his esophagus. "I appear to have some sort of illness." He sighed, finally bringing his gaze back to her. "It's affecting my work." And ruining my life, he added silently. "I need help."

Tsunade's eyes widened to the size of saucers. Help? This was definitely a first. She wondered if Gaara had ever in his life asked anyone for help. Out loud, she said, "What are the symptoms of this illness?"

It took most of his resolve to not shift his eyes from her again. It took the rest of it to repress the warm blush he felt trying to rise to his cheeks. Setting his jaw in determination, he again went over the list of afflictions in his head that had been plaguing him recently, turning each over in his mind for the hundredth time, and calculating how to deliver this information in the driest, most clinical, and least mortifying words he could think of. He chose to start off with the easy stuff.

"Well, to begin with, I've been very... irritable lately."

The Hokage's eyes grew wider still, and the smallest twitch at the corner of her mouth spoke of a snicker barely restrained. "Irritable, you say?"

Gaara had not missed this reaction. He narrowed his eyes, the migraine still pounding a steady and raucous beat between his ears, a beat which seemed to grow in volume with every passing second. "Yes." He closed his eyes for a moment, trying to contain himself. Tsunade only watched him, marveling at the sudden lack of legendary control the young man had always employed. The playful twitch of her mouth was gone, and so was the amused sparkle in her eye. Instead, her lips had hardened into a sober line, and her brows drew together in an expression of serious concern.

Gaara's strange dark eyes reopened, and his face was slightly repentant, if not downright pitiful. "I mean, yes. More irritable than usual." Suddenly, he began to gesture wildly with his hands, nearly startling his host out of her seat. "The smallest things! Everything annoys me, and everyone. I know I haven't always had the most amiable personality," he paused to shoot her a dark glance, silently challenging her to smirk in response. "...But since I... came back, I have become more... I've gotten better. With people. I almost like them at times, and I am nearly certain that I even love my siblings to some degree. But the past few months, I've felt like a child again. I'm aggressive, and irrational. I think things I never think, and..." He placed his hands back in his lap suddenly, looking at them in surprise, as if he had just noticed they were moving of their own accord. "...Do things I do not normally do." There was an odd slump to his shoulders, as if he had already been defeated.

Tsunade said nothing at first, but concentrated on keeping her face a still mask. What she had just witnessed not only deeply startled her, but it worried her as well. In one breath the Kazekage had just uttered more words than she was sure he usually spoke in a week, and the look on his face was the most sincere expression of helplessness that her heart ached. As she quietly observed him, slowly sinking into his chair, that hand still poised at his temple, she thought to herself that he looked more and more like a troubled young teenager, and less and less like a kage. It was usually easy, with his grace and maturity, to forget how frightfully young he really was.

"So you've become especially irritable lately..." She took a moment to jot this down on a blank scroll nearby. She glanced up at him, the end of her pencil hovering near her mouth. "Any special stresses in your life lately? New pressures, something you've never dealt with before?" She had noticed the frequent reaches for the space above his eyes, which she was sure indicated headaches. She was fairly certain Gaara had always had migraines, although they had gotten better once he was able to rest. He was probably more stressed than usual. I wonder how much sleep he's getting? She decided she'd ask him about that too.

She looked up at him again. He was sitting quietly, left index finger lightly tapping the upholstery of the chair's arm, apparently deep in thought. She watched this nervous and completely new display a little uneasily. Unwittingly she began to chew on her pencil, Gaara's nervous energy seeming to sink into her.

"No." The answer was cool, crisp, resolute. "In fact, I've had an easy time lately, relatively speaking." The finger stopped tapping as soon as he noticed it, although his hand still tremored a bit. That seemed to annoy him further. "Winter's coming, and although that doesn't mean a lot in Suna, there are less missions to assign, fewer people to deal with... It's downright calm. It's the only reason I could excuse myself indefinitely to come here." She nodded. Konoha was experiencing a similar calm, though it would not last long; it never did. Tsunade knew that the Kazekage would not leave his post unless there was good reason.

What I'm looking at, she thought, is a good reason.

"Any extra pressure from any of the clans in your village? No maddening requests from the elders?"

His finger had begun to beat another furious rhythm, this time on his robes, but he failed to notice. "Nope."

Tsunade started a little, sure she had heard him wrong. Gaara was not in the habit of sayings things like "nope." Must be Naruto rubbing off on him. She hid the smiling crease in her eyes by pretending to write down something else on the scroll in front of her. I wonder if that's a really good thing, or a really bad thing.

"How's your training going?" Kazekage or not, she knew Gaara still trained.

"Fine. I've lost some of my power since... I came back, but you know that." She nodded. He still referred to it as 'when I came back.' Not long ago, it was 'when I died,' but she was sure Naruto also had something to do with that. "I have had a little more trouble controlling my chakra lately..." he admitted. "But I believe it's more of a result of what is happening, not a cause."

"Any other symptoms?" She noticed the bite marks on her pencil then, and rubbed her tongue across her teeth in mild disbelief. She put it down decidedly.

"Ah. Other strange things, feelings that are difficult to define." That was understandable, seeing as Gaara did not have the emotional scope that most normally socialized people did. "I feel as if... something bad is always about to happen, but I don't know what. I find myself worried over trivial things, to the point where my stomach feels heavy and unpleasant and my heart beats too fast." Tsunade picked up the slightly mangled pencil again and began to write down in earnest, amazing at how quickly and easily he spoke. Wonders never ceased.

She raised her gaze to him once again. He wasn't looking at her, but his fingers were raised to his head again in that familiar position, only this time he was rubbing the seal on his forehead instead of his temple. "So you've been feeling more anxious than usual?"

He swiveled his eyes to hers without tilting his head. "Anxious?"

She nodded. "Anxious. Nervous."

He chewed his lip thoughtfully, and even the Hokage could not help but notice how endearing it made him look. "Yes. Nervous. Very nervous. All the time. I keep second-guessing myself and my decisions. I wonder if I'm doing things right or not, when I never would before..."

"I see. Anything else?" Her voice was calm and ordinary, but privately she was wondering what was going on. It just sounded like stress, but what were the external factors? With Gaara's unusual past, there were so many things to take into account.

His face soured the tiniest bit. "Yes. When I'm around other people, all I want is to be alone." Her pencil paused for a second, because she didn't know if it could be justified to write something that obvious down. Gaara of the Sand, antisocial? Not exactly headlining news. "But when I am alone..." He trailed off, and Tsunade waited, expectantly. "When I'm alone, I want to be around people. It's as if I can't make up my own mind." Now that was worth writing down.

"Any physical symptoms at all, Gaara-sama?" She was no psychologist; her specialty lay in the healing of ninjas' bodies, not their minds.

"Mm," was all he said. She folded her hands underneath her chin and cocked her head again.

"Mm? Is that a yes, or a no?"

Once more, his eyes would not address her though his voice would, in a much quieter tone. "I do not know if it means anything, but..." His voice lowered still. "I've been... sweating a lot more lately." His eyes, steadily downcast, narrowed a bit. Tsunade was little baffled at what he had said.

"Sweating? More than usual?"

He looked agitated at the question, as if he didn't want to repeat himself. "Ah."

"How much did you sweat before?" She tried to keep her voice even, professional, clinical. She didn't want to admit to herself that this was turning into the strangest conversation she had ever had, considering her audience. When she had walked into her office this afternoon to find the Kazekage, the last thing she imagined was a long diatribe about his sweat glands.

"A little. I never really did that much." Gaara's eyes were still trained on the floor, apparently closely examining the most interesting floor tile he had ever come across. Tsunade began to roll her pencil between her lips again, not realizing what she was doing. Her mind was much more occupied with what he'd said. She couldn't imagine anyone living in the climate Gaara came from who didn't sweat profusely. It was a damned desert. On the few occasions she had traveled there in a diplomatic fashion, it had been hotter than balls, even in the fall.

"How much do you sweat now?"

"A lot more." Gaara was annoyed. Did she want him to pour it in a measured cup? All he wanted was for her to diagnose him, treat him, and get him the hell out of there. This was possibly the strangest conversation he had ever had, and he was not enjoying it. Not that he enjoyed much of anything these days.

"Okay..." She coughed slightly into her hand, not sure if she should inquire further on this issue. "Anything else going on with... with your body?"

He noticed the strangled quality of her voice. As he had feared, this was proving to be a very embarassing experience. I'm probably dying, he thought. At least I wouldn't have to put up with this anymore.

He sighed dramatically. "I don't know."

"Well. How are your eating habits?" That was a safe topic, right?

He finally looked up, his brow creased in thought. "I suppose... I eat a lot more than usual, actually." He said this as if it had just occurred to him. "Before I usually barely touched the meals prepared for me. Now I almost always finish it." More like always, he thought. Weren't life threatening diseases supposed to be marked by decreased appetites?

"Really?" Tsunade tried not to sound surprised. Well, if anything, that was a good sign. Except, some people ate more when subjected to stress. But Gaara was so frail looking, a few square meals would be anything but bad for him. She added this interesting note to her list. "What about sleeping? Do you sleep every night now?"

His face, which had still been slightly pinched in thought as he was reflecting on his diet, changed dramatically. It was as if a thunderhead had manifested itself in his expression; his eyes grew dark and his brow drew together in an angry line; his mouth curled into a very disagreeable frown. Tsunade watched this transformation with interest, and a little trepidation. "Gaara-sama?"

"I..." his voice was as dark as his face, but laced with uncertainty. "I have been sleeping at least a few hours every night," he replied. By the quality of his voice, one would never guess they were talking about the simple act of closing one's eyes and becoming unconscious for a certain amount of time every night.

She was afraid to ask the next question. "Have you had any, er, strange dreams lately?"

His brow was still knit in a worried line. "Dreams, for me, are strange," he responded cryptically.

Once again she found herself asking, with a small amount of exasperation, "Is that a yes, Gaara-kun, or a no?"

His chin lifted and his unsettling eyes settled upon her. For some reason she had called him Gaara-kun. It could be construed as an act of deep disrespect, but he found it more pleasing than anything. The only other one to call him that was...

"That's a yes, Tsunade-baasan." His lips curled into a half smile, and his expression was almost restored to something halfway complacent, until he remembered what they were talking about. "I have been dreaming."

Tsunade was openly grinning at him. It was the first time she had ever seen him smile, just the tiniest bit, and it was a very nice thing to see, if only for a moment. He is quite handsome when he smiles...

"Well, yes, can you tell me about any of your dreams?"

Gaara was glaring, thought thankfully not at her. His malevolent stare was trained back on that singularly fascinating tile in front of her desk. She heard a strange whispery noise, like tiny beads falling on glass. After a moment she discerned the source of the sound: Gaara's sand was shifting in its gourd. As she watched the container actually twitched once, then lay still, but small granules continued to cascade gently inside. She glanced at Gaara, wondering if he felt threatened.

"I don't know," he replied slowly. "I can never remember what they're about. I just know that they're... unpleasant in some way." The oddly soothing sound of sand swirling in Gaara's gourd continued as he spoke. "I never dreamed before. Now, I dream every night. It's unsettling."

She wondered if he really couldn't recall his dreams, but he seemed genuine. She clicked her tongue, he fingers traveling to her hair to pull on it idly. "Do you remember how you feel when you wake up?"

For the second time in less than an hour she was nearly startled out of her chair in surprise. No sooner had the question left her lips than a loud POP! issued from the opening of the gourd and sand flew up in a small wave overhanging her desk. She hadn't even time to duck when the appendage froze in midair above her head, then disintegrated into a cloud of rolling, falling particles. Tsunade's hands flew over her head as a billowing pile of sand rained down around her, her desk, her entire office. Gaara watched all of this, strangely calm.

Tsunade chanced to open her eyes, afraid there would be grit stuck to her corneas, and sighed. She brushed sand out of her hair, her clothes, but it did no good. The stuff just seemed to stick. She turned a gaze on her patient that was half questioning, half accusing.

Gaara's eyes lowered apologetically. "I'm very sorry about that, Tsunade-sama." He flexed his fingers minutely, and all the sand was swept back into the gourd, every last particle. The cork reinserted itself with a quiet squeak, and the room stilled. "That's been happening a lot too. It's reflecting my mood, I think."

Tsunade didn't want to point out that if that was the case, then Gaara had basically just admitted to wanting to attack her. Instead she just smiled maliciously and picked up her pencil again.

"That's quite all right, Gaara-kun. Now, how about those dreams?"

As she had expected, he scowled, but thankfully, the cork remained firmly in place, though she still thought she heard the sand shifting nervously inside. He glanced at the gourd quickly, and it ceased, as if he had admonished it with a stern look.

"I'm not sure..." He crossed his arms and sighed, looking more like a sullen teen than ever.

"Good feelings? Bad feelings? Scared feelings?" She felt like she was talking to a five year old.

"Yes. All those wrapped into one. And guilt..." He tilted his head curiously. "When I wake up I feel like I've done something wrong. I just don't know what it is." Tsunade felt a prickle at the back of her neck and she reached back to scratch it absently, thinking an escaped torrent of sand was rolling between the tails of her hair.

"Guilt? Hmm..." She didn't want to think on it too hard; she wasn't a dream interpreter, after all. The tickling sensation was still there poking at her, but she ignored it.

"Also, I feel other things when I wake up." He shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "Things I don't understand, things I've never felt before." Gaara didn't like admitting his ignorance, but he did have to admit, these things baffled him beyond measure. "And then I get upset and irritated because I don't understand." His scowl was more pronounced. "It's annoying." Most things were, in his opinion.

"Other feelings?" She wondered what he could mean. Could he be referring to sexual feelings? She looked at him appraisingly. The thought had just occurred to her, but had anyone ever sat Gaara down and explained the facts of life to the young man? The thought made her want to chuckle out loud... Surely that couldn't be the case. Unless...

"Oh... Ohhhhhh... Oh my goodness..." She hadn't meant to say it out loud. Her mouth was a wide O of surprise, and her eyes mimicked the shape. She looked like a woman who had just had the most astonishing and revolutionary epiphany of her life.

Gaara stared at her openly. "What?" he asked, in a tone he hoped was polite. He didn't like the look on her face. It didn't look promising for him at all. He waited a few more moments, but her face was still frozen in that maddening expression and she would say nothing. "WHAT?" His temper, shorter than usual these days, flared.

Finally, she snapped her mouth closed and shut her eyes; her eyebrows creased together as if she was thinking critically about something, and he heard her murmur to herself, though he couldn't understand what she was saying. Then, "It can't be..."

He was growing livid. He was just about to stand up and throttle her with his very own two hands when she smacked her palm down on the desk with a smart thwack! and smiled coyly at him.

"Gaara-kun. How old are you now?"

He stared at her, confused. "I'm... 17 now, I guess." He didn't know why he added 'I guess' to the end of that, but he was feeling very uncertain of himself right then.

She looked doubtful for a moment, but continued. "Have you noticed anything strange happening to your body, besides sweating? Has your skin changed at all?"

He paled visibly. Actually, the skin on his face had changed in strange ways recently. He had been feeling slightly more... oily, lately. She smiled. The look on his face was answer enough.

"Any... Any extra hair, Gaara-kun?"

This time he was not able to hold back the blush that rolled into his cheeks. Once again, he needed to say nothing. That was something he was hoping to not have to address.

"And... Gaara-kun..." Her eyes dropped to the parchment in front of her, and she picked up her pencil decisively. A moment later she had laid it down again, then picked it up once more, and began tapping the end of it on her teeth, clearly nervous. "When you dream..."

His stomach instantly knotted with dread, and the sand in his gourd gave a sudden lurch.

"That is, when you wake up..." Her eyes were still glued to the desk in front of her, as if she'd rather look at anything but him. He felt the same way. His throat was dry, and his cheeks burned. He wondered if it would be rude to ask for something to drink. Yes, that was a good idea, why hadn't she offered it to him in the first place? It's just common courtesy, he thought erratically, trying to block out the sound of her stumbling, dotty voice. It's the first thing that should be out of her mouth, really. He opened his mouth to ask for a beverage, but no sound came out. Tsunade, concentrating only on how to phrase the question she was trying so hard to ask, did not notice. I'm so thirsty, he thought desperately.

"...When you wake up, are your sheets ever... I mean, is there ever any..." She paused, then raised her eyes defiantly to his face. She was not going to shy around this. It was always best to be as frank and direct as possible. There's nothing embarrassing about this, after all. But when she saw the scarlet tinge in his face, she couldn't help but cringe for the young man. He already knew what she was going to ask.

Her eyes narrowed determinedly. "Gaara, when you wake up after these dreams, are your sheets damp? Wet, with something other than sweat?" There, she said it. She could feel her own face beginning to flush a small amount.

Slowly, the warmth receded from his cheeks. He closed his eyes and sighed, chiding himself silently. Obviously, there's some reasoning to her questions. That's a good thing. He tried to reassure himself. In all honesty, he did not know why the subject brought up such personal humiliation; he just knew, deep down in the pit of his stomach, that these occurrences were wrong, they were unnatural, and above all, they made him feel confused, miserable, and unsure of himself. Gaara could handle violence, he could handle pure, personal hatred, but this powerful upwelling of conflicts within himself... He wasn't prepared to battle himself again, especially when the enemy was so damned unpredictable. His body as well as his emotions had joined forces against him, and they were winning.

Melodramatic, he thought. Instead, he said quietly, "You could say that." I wish you wouldn't, but you are.

Tsunade sighed. "Okay. Anything else you want to tell me?"

He shook his head staunchly. Even if he could think of anything, he wasn't going to say it. His eyes focused on the floor. Gaara quietly waited to hear whatever terminal illness he had been stricken with.

The Hokage sighed again. He wished she'd stop doing that. It was like she was mourning him already. Would I be mourned? He wondered with morbid interest. Probably not. They might wear black, but it'd probably be a celebration. Naruto might miss me, but that's all. He sighed himself. But that's only because he's a fool.

"Well, Gaara-sama, I have good news and bad news." She was poring over her list, the half chewed pencil twirling between her fingers. Didn't she need to consult a book or something? He would feel much more reassured if she had some large, dusty volume in front of her as she checked tiny rows of ancient text. The strange look on her face was even more unnerving.

"What is the bad news?" He voice was hardly more than a whisper in the large room.

"Noo, I think I'll tell you the good news first, you should hear it." Her voice, on the other hand, did not appear to be the most appropriate tone of someone who was about to diagnose a serious disease. He fidgeted in his seat.

"Fine." The last of the blood was still draining from his face. "Then what's the good news?" He couldn't help the sneering inflection of the word. To him, "good news" meant "not as bad news."

She looked at him directly, a frank expression on her face. "The good news, Gaara-kun, is that you are going through something that every single person that lives in this world has gone through at some point. Or will go through." His eyes widened substantially. "You just seem to be experiencing it a little later than most."

"What... What can you mean? What is it?" He didn't understand at all. Everyone went through this? This hateful misery, these strange layers of pain and confusion, moodiness, heart stopping nervousness...?

These troublesome dreams...

"Absolutely. It's called puberty, Gaara-kun. And it's the most common thing in the world."

He was slightly taken aback at her use of the word 'common.' To him, this was anything but common. He opened his mouth but she continued.

"Basically, it's just a process your body goes through to prepare you, physically and mentally, for adulthood. The symptoms you're experiencing are mostly a result of the hormone levels in your body changing. You're going through an adjustment period." She was almost smiling now, relief evident in her face.

"Hormones?" He was confused. More than that, he was tired of being confused. "What are you talking about? What are these feelings supposed to mean? And what am I supposed to do about it?" If she thought she was going to relieve him by telling him everything was normal, common, fine, natural, whatever, she was very wrong indeed. He had come here to find the cure for his ailment, not the knowledge that it was all right to be sick.

It was her turn to look surprised. "Gaara-sama... It's just..." How could she explain it? She supposed it was not as natural for him, a socially shunned child with none of the knowledge or experience indoctrinated into most people, to understand. For a normal child, it was a trying time, full of angst and anger and sometimes even new love. Not to mention the sexual awakenings that would make anyone's head spin. But for Gaara, it must be a whole new world, one that he had rudely and quite unexpectedly been shoved into. He has no idea... She felt a sharp stab of pity, and an overwhelming protectiveness for the young man sitting in front of her. He's too old for this, she thought again critically. It could only have been his unusual youth that led to such a late blossoming. Perhaps his body had been incapable of maturing until Shukaku had been removed. Naruto went through it though, and he still has the demon within him. She shrugged mentally then. Who knew? It was clear that Gaara's body was changing though, but the process was much harder on him.

"The feelings you're having are most likely of a sexual nature, which is why they feel good and bad at the same time, and why you dream so much. Your dreams are an outlet for your frustration, and what your conscious mind rejects, your dreams revel in. Which is probably why you won't let yourself remember." Her voice had taken on that crisp, professional tone again, and she was brandishing the pencil at him as she spoke. "Your body's changing, Gaara-kun, and there's nothing you can do about it."

He looked at her weakly, trying to retain some semblance of dignity as he asked, "And what, pray tell, could the bad news be?"

"The bad news is that whatever miracle cure you were banking on when you came here doesn't exist." She dropped the pencil on her desk with a clatter. "There is no cure, except time."

Time heals all wounds... A fluttery voice sounded in his brain. His head drooped. He was undeniably disappointed. He took some measure of relief in the fact that he was not, as he had dreaded, dying, but not as much as he thought he might. There was nothing to be done about it. He would simply have to gruel his way through it. He just could not imagine how.

His fingers twitched near the mark on his forehead again, deep in thought. If other people do it, I should be able to. Why does it seem so hard to me? Gaara met Tsunade's gaze. "You went through this?" Part of him wanted to add, "and survived?"

She smiled fully, showing him her teeth. "Of course. That was a long time ago though..." She suddenly looked wistful, and she was twirling her bangs in an almost adolescent manner. Tsunade smiled again, her eyes focusing. "It isn't easy, but you'll get through it. It's just going to be a little more difficult for you than most people. You've led a very different life than most." At her own words a spark of an idea flickered into life inside her brain. "Hmm... maybe..." She murmured aloud.

Gaara did not seem to hear her. He was staring into space. "What am I going to do?" He also appeared to be talking to himself.

Tsunade did hear this, however. "Gaara-sama." His attention was diverted back to her at the title. "I know I said there's no cure, and there isn't, but I might be able to help you with the process."

His face told her he was interested.

Again she smiled, one eyebrow arching above the other. "I think I know someone who may be able to help you."

He wasn't enjoying the small anticipatory game she was playing. "Yes?" He struggled to keep his voice even.

Tsunade brought her hands to her face. "When was the last time you saw Naruto-kun?"


That's where I'll end it. I'm not much of a writer, so I hope this reads well. As I mentioned before, I accept constructive criticism by the droves. I also happen to enjoy any type of review, for that matter. /smiles

Gaara is drastically OOC in this chapter, but I'm just trying to get his desperation across. Incoming: Uzumaki Naruto, to the rescue!!

Note: Gaara and Naruto are not lovers, the references to him in this chapter are only of their friendship, which will be filled in more later. This chapter is one long boring scene, omg!