A/N: to those of you who read DB (Detrimental Benefits), i'd like to say that I AM NOT DEAD, but i have been grounded as of late. which lead me to write this in pencil in one of my composition books; you know, the kind sewn into the cardboard-y cover? anyway, i was bored and wrote this, and hope it fullfills yours need for GaaNaru/NaruGaa fluff while i try to get more computer time from my engroundment (word i made up, i know) to write it. i have, like, over half of the next chapter complete. sorta. have no worries, oh dear DB readers.

to those of you who don't read DB and found this randomly, hello! this is my... 3rd? 4th? i'm thinking 4th... NaruGaa/GaaNaru fanfic. so if you're new to me as an author, would you be so kind as to check out my other stories if you like the pairing? plz&kthnxbai.

OH YEAH. since i won't be here the 28th (as in, on the internet) THIS IS MY EARLY NARUGAA SPAMMING DAY ENTRY. huzzah! -cheers- go July 28th! -insert hearts here-

last note. i swear.
i totally could've put a smut scene or makeout session in this. but as you can see, this is rated K plus. which means, none of that frisky stuff. it'd be too overdone, really. i just wanted some fluff for once. so... sorry to disappoint. XD


Note-To-Self: Never Get A Kazekage Drunk
a GaaNaru oneshot by yours truly, Dreaming-Of-A-Nightmare


At first, everything seemed fine. I mean, what could go wrong? All the traumas in my life have been laid to rest. Orochimaru is dead, as is half of the Akatsuki (which lead them to go into hiding), Sasuke is being "reformed" by Sakura-chan in Konoha, and it's been years since Asuma's and Jiraiya's deaths. Ultimately, this is a stress-free time of peace. Hell, the Hokage herself sent me on a mini vacation to Sunakagure, insisting it would be best for me to visit my pal the Kazekage. Because to everyone else, he and I were close friends. In actuality, we hardly acted 'close'. Our relationship is complicated to say the least.

But it was my trip to Suna that made things turn un-fine and slightly stressful. Even if it was meant to be a vacation.

Because as I was listening to music in my given room late one Saturday night, suddenly Gaara comes bursting in. Straight away this told me something was off; Gaara never 'bursts' into places. He knocks politely, opens the door silently when allowed to enter, glides in gracefully, and then shuts the door gently behind him.

So when he came noisily crashing through the guest bedroom doorway, I nearly jumped out of my skin. Normally I could sense a fellow nin when they approached, or smell them (if I knew them well enough to recognize their scent; it's a fox thing, don't ask). But my music had distracted me, and Gaara smelled different. To me, he smelled all wrong. His scent is supposed to resemble sandalwood, cinnamon, faintly honey and blood, ginger, and hot desert sand. But at the moment he smelled only of ginger, cinnamon, sweat, and alcohol.

"Gaara…?" I venture, setting my headphones aside and shutting off my portable CD player.

He stumbles over to sit on the edge of the full-sized bed, his crimson locks in more disarray than usual. No to mention he was sweating along the hairline, causing his bangs to stick to his creamy skin. I noticed as I re-positioned myself to get a better angle that his cheeks and tip of his nose were flushed pink. His eyelids were drooping, too.

I hold back a laugh to ask the obvious. "Have you been drinking?"

He nods lazily. "Kank'rou took me out."

His speech is slurred to a mumble, though I can still understand him. And what he had just said made perfect sense. I crack a smile. "Is he hammered?"

Again my friend nods. "Yup; puked in the alley," he chuckles.

I've never heard him laugh like that. It was a pleasant, hearty sound that filled his throat and my ears.

Gaara continued. "He said, 'Bro, we gotta loosen you up. You're 18 now… so lemme take ya to a bar.' And I let 'im," he explains to me. I watch him sway and feel the bed shake in turn. Before I can react, he topples on his back, his 'Kage robes all askew. Gaara stares up at the ceiling for a second, then his hazy light teal irises hook with my deep blue.

I laugh. "Kuso, Gaara, you're drunk. Why didn't you make me tag along so I could get trashed with you?" I ask him playfully.

He closes his eyes and shakes his head. "I need you sober to protect me," he breathes out.

My post-laughter smile fades. I blink down at him. What's that supposed to mean? I'm about to pose that question when he rolls onto his side and scoots up to lay his head in my lap. "G-Gaara! Don't!" I protest. My heart begins to race in my chest for reasons I can't come up with.

"No…" he retorts, batting my protesting shoves away. "It's so comfortable…"

Wow, Gaara's a lot different after Kami-sama knows how many drinks. I sigh in defeat and start idly stroking his hair, my fingers automatically pulling the sweaty strands from his forehead. I see his scar above his left eye easier now, and trace it absentmindedly with a calloused finger. When you're drunk or hungover, I'm told it's nice to be petted; it soothes whoever's intoxicated. At my touch, Gaara does something weird: he hums. Now, I'm not talking about his usual agreeing-hum, disagreeing-grunt/hum, or "please continue"-hum; I mean a hum that's almost like a purr, a hum of pleasure. Somehow, that noise makes a shiver run down my spine to tickle my toes. I ignore the sensation.

Gaara adjusts the way he's laying by curling up on his side, one arm resting in front of him as the other comes up behind his head to grip the fabric of my festively orange pants. Cue a bout of heat to my whiskered cheeks.

"Naruto…" Gaara whispers.

I involuntarily gulp. "Y-yeah?"

"Arigato," he sighs, sounding on the verge of falling asleep.

"For what?" I wonder. What's he thanking me for?

"For being here, and being my friend," he replies, his words slurred horribly.

"Gaara, stop talking nonsense," I say to mask my embarrassment. Him saying something like that… I dunno, it flatters me. And I'm not sure if I deserve it.

In my lap, he shakes his head, the side of his nose tapping my mid-thigh twice, another shiver (this time paired with goosebumps) making it's way down my spine. He opens his black-rimmed eyes. "You don't understand," Gaara tells me. "I mean it." He pauses as his eyes close for a long moment. When they open again he's on his back and staring directly up at me, reading my face through his half-lidded eyes. Then, I realize his eyes are watering. "And I mean this, too: I love you."

I freeze in place and watch his tears slip over the corners of his eyes, leaving salty trails down the sides of his face and disappearing into his hair. Aishiteru? 'I love you'? Did he really just say that? Is this really happening?

Steadily, I cough awkwardly into my hand and regain my composure. "You're drunk, Gaara; you don't know what you're saying." My tone sounds stiff even to me.

He keeps silently crying. "No! I do know what I'm saying!" Gaara pounds a fist into the covers on his right. He balls up onto his side again, this time facing the right where he just punished the mattress with his frustration. His scar is hidden from view, and I almost wish to go back to tracing the indented lines in his flesh before he said any of that stuff.

"Shh, calm down," I murmur. Dammit, I didn't want to face anything like this when I came here. Because, little did he know, I've been confused a lot lately. About him and my strange urges to see him, spend time with him, and let him know that – if anybody – I care.

Gaara's tears stop their flow. "It's been a while…" he starts, his words seeming slower now that he's getting tired.

"Since what?" I say, trying to get him to say more and not drift off. He drifts off a lot, sober or not. It's as though he doesn't want to overwork his vocal cords by saying too much at once. That, and Gaara hides behind a shell of impassive emotion, and I bet if he spoke more, his emotions would get out, and he doesn't want that. I get that about him.

"Since I figured it out."

"Figured out what?" He isn't telling me much, but by Kami, while he's drunk I'm going to get him to say more. Let his vocal cords get overworked, see if I care. I just wish for him to tell me more all the time.

"Figured out that I'm in love with you." And Gaara laughs, like it's silly. "It was that day, three years ago, when you brought me back…"

He must mean when I brought him back from the dead with Chiyo-baasama's help, I conclude.

"…Ever since then, I knew. And Temari knew, too. She told me. She said, 'If you really love Uzumaki, you'll tell him.' She made a funny face when she said your name. Guess she doesn't approve. But I don't care. I love you anyhow."

I can't believe the stuff I'm hearing right now. I mean, sure, Gaara is really out of it and wouldn't say such things on a regular basis, – or, hell, in a million years! – but let's be realistic here: most people, when drunk, expose their true selves. If someone is violent and abusive and mean, it shows when they're drunk. If someone is a joker and dancer secretly, then it shows publicly when they're drunk. The list goes on and on. Point is, what Gaara is saying must be the truth (or something he thinks is the truth). Apparently, a drunk Gaara is a talkative, openly honest, clingy one.

"Gaara, I –" But as I'm about to admit something, I'm saved the humiliation as he starts to gag.

He cups his hand over his mouth and casts his gaze to me. "Help," he whispers.

I sigh and know exactly what needs to be done. After being around plenty of hangover-sick and utterly-wasted-sick people, I know how to 'help'.

I prop Gaara up and ease him off the bed, assisting him in walking as we make our way to the private bathroom attached to the room I'm staying in. I turn on the light above the shower for softness and flip open the toilet seat and lid in one move. Gaara un-cups his hand from his face and starts retching. I grimace and look away, trying to single out the scent of the air freshener plugged into the wall instead of the scent of bile and whatever Gaara drank.

I feel bad for Gaara when he's done. He's clumsily wiping at his mouth with toilet paper while a whimpering noise escapes his lips. My heart clenches at the sight. "Come on, upsie-daisy," I coax as I drag him to the sink to rinse his mouth with mouthwash. I smell spearmint as he gargles the green liquid.

Suddenly, I understand what he meant by "protecting" him. He meant I'd have to take care of his drunken ass since I'm the only one he trusts to do so. That little fact kind of fills me with pride. I'm the only one Gaara trusts to take care of him when he's vulnerable? Kami, now I know for sure he wasn't lying when he says he loves me.

I help my friend strip down some of his clothes and lay him in my bed. I'm about to set a blanket and pillow on the floor for myself when he calls out: "No… sleep with me. Please."

For a teeny-tiny second my perverted mind thinks of what else that phrase can mean, and I shiver (for the third time, might I add) at the mental images that apply. I remember, however, how innocent/naïve Gaara is in that way, so I shake those thoughts from my brain. "Um… okay," I comply with an uneasy feeling in my stomach. Who am I to disobey the Kazekage? Even if my stomach is doing flip-flops and he added 'please' at the end.

I shed my jacket and pants, leaving only my boxers and a t-shirt. Which is a normal thing for me to wear to bed. But it felt strange knowing that Gaara was wearing more or less the same thing, and that's he'd be beside me. Drunk, half-nude, under the covers sort of 'beside me'. More goosebumps coated my lightly tan skin.

"Naruto… arigato," Gaara repeats from earlier.

I swallow and turn on my side away from him in the dim, moonlight lighting. "For what?" I repeat, also from before.

"For this," I hear him say sleepily. At first, I think he means helping him out when he had thrown up or while he's not acting like himself.

But I'm mistaken. By 'this' he meant what he did next, which was to loop one arm around my waist and bring his body closer to mine. I stiffen at the contact. All sorts of emotions and thoughts flood through me. "Gaara…" I mutter, but he's not listening. I can feel his breathing chest against my spine, slow and even. He's out like a light.

As I try to sleep, I feel his blood pumping through his veins at an erratic pace. I feel his breath, hot and sticky on my neck, and some of it's scent drifts to my nose. It's minty but laced with something sour, and whether that's the alcohol or the vomit I don't know. It's sickening yet tolerable, and despite the discomfort coming from being Gaara's teddy bear, I don't have it in me to move a muscle.

Insomnia has struck me, and I feel like an idiot. All coherent thoughts are faltering in my head. It's like the sole things I can concentrate on are Gaara's body heat, his breathing, my own breathing, his arm over my tummy (right above the seal, I realize after some time), and the hushed mutterings coming from Gaara's sleep talk.

I counted my name in those mutterings like sheep. After six, the insomnia must have dissolved, because I was finally able to drift into slumber.

- - -

The next morning, I woke to find the bed empty and cold. Or, at least, empty and cold compared to last night.

I rub my eyes and stumble groggily into the private bathroom to do my business and splash hellowakeup! icy cold water on my face. I walk back into the room and slip on my jacket and throw on my pants. My bare feet meet the hardwood floor of the hallway as I step out of the guest bedroom. There's voices coming from the kitchen: Kankurou and Temari.

"Oi, there's our guest of honor! You'd think you were the one with the hangover! – Have a good night's rest, Sleeping Beauty?" Kankurou teases as he sips his mug of coffee.

"And you'd think you weren't one of the hangover victims," I retort. I scrutinize him; he looks pretty sober to me.

Kankurou flashes me a grin. "I am one, but I've had years of practice. So today I have a mere headache, nothing more. Poor Gaara, on the other hand, took some meds and put on a mask to go to work, but I bet he's dying right about now with a migraine."

"I'll go check on him after breakfast, 'ttebayo," I offer.

"Really? I was going to do the same after I got some of my own work done, but that's a better idea. Thanks a bunch, Uzumaki."

"Sure," I smile. "It's nothing."

"'Nothing' my ass," Temari says, putting her two cents into the conversation. "Here, I made extra." She nods for me to sit down at the table. She piles bacon and eggs onto the plate in front of me.

"Whoa, this looks delicious! Thanks, Temari-san!"

She waves the thanks aside with a smile on her palely pink lips. Temari dumps the used pan in the sink for later washing before hurrying off to the door. "I have to meet up with Shikamaru. He's arriving in Suna today on some mission or another, and of 'course I'm assigned to be his escort." She rolls her dark teal eyes. "Ja ne."

"See ya, oneechan." Kankurou calls as she slams the door closed. He folds up the newspaper he had been skim-reading and sets it on the table. With one last swig of his coffee, Kankurou stands. He runs his fingers through his brown hair. Blowing air out his mouth, he tells me: "I gotta run, too. Stick your dishes in the dishwasher when you're done, okay?" He makes his way to the door. "Oh, and don't forget to check up on Gaara!"

I wink and give him a thumbs-up. "Aye aye, taichou!"

He chuckles and salutes me. Then Kankurou's gone, and the Kazekage's abode becomes a lot quieter. Gah, I hate silences. Why do people think I talk so much? Or listen to music/watch TV when I'm alone? It's to avoid silence. Especially awkward ones between me and other people.

With a sigh I wash down Temari's home cooking with a glass of milk. I stack my dishes in the dishwasher as I was told. Then I wash my hands, comb my hair, don my forehead protector, and top it all off with brushing my teeth. Now I'm ready to go see Gaara.

Locating the semi-circular 'Kage office was a piece of cake; every 'Kage building is designed relatively the same in each village. The only problem I faced was how to enter. Should I waltz right in, or knock?

I decided it was best to knock. I tap on the wood three times. Gaara's non-slurring, calm, deep voice answers me. "Come in," he says.

I take a deep breath. I felt more nervous than I normally would. Why would I? It could perhaps be that the person I'm about to "check up on" admitted something very intimate to me merely hours ago? I exhale and open the door into Gaara's office. "Hey… you, um, feeling all right?" I ask, trying to be casual about the situation.

The redhead across the room glances up at me. Looking back down at his paperwork, he says lowly: "If you're referring to my hangover, then yes, I am feeling relatively 'all right'."

"Oh, well, that's good. Kankurou told me to check on you for him, but I was going to anyway. You gave me a bit of a scare last night… you weren't yourself."

He pauses in his writing (or signing, or whatever it is he's doing). Gaara returns his gaze to me, an unreadable expression in his eyes on his otherwise deadpan face. "What did I do?"

There he goes, being blunt and short again. I blink as something dawns on me. "You mean you don't remember?" Somehow, I'm hurt by that. Saying and doing what he had… it was a big thing for me. It meant a lot to me even if he was drunk. And even though the actions were small in comparison to… uh, other things we could have done.

He shakes his head. "Not entirely," he answers. Another pause. He glances away, and I miss his blue-green gaze. As if reading my 'in comparison' thoughts, he struggles to ask: "We didn't… we didn't do anything… together, did we?"

I cock my head. "What d'ya mean?"

Gaara shifts uncomfortably in his seat. "I was dressed when I awoke, but we were in the same bed, so I was wondering… if… we…" I expect him to finish or make a gesture, but he doesn't. He just stares down at his desk.

My eyes widen and my cheeks turn a lovely shade of magenta, I can feel it. I understand what he's getting at. "N-nani?! No, no, no. We didn't… I mean…" I cough into my hand. "Nothing like that happened, I swear. Besides, you know me: I wouldn't take advantage of someone, especially not one of my friends."

Gaara nods and looks relieved. "Thank Kami-sama," he mutters to himself. Louder and directed at me, he says: "Not that I would regret such a thing." My face gets hotter upon hearing that, and I feel like my head is going to explode.

"You… wouldn't?" I ask, but my voice breaks and the second word comes out as a squeak. Something in me is glad to know that sex with me wouldn't be seen as a regret in Gaara's eyes, despite being alcohol-induced sex. I smile weakly. "Well, we didn't. Demo… you did say something to me."

He tenses at the words. He sets his ink pen down. "What did I say?" Gaara questions, his eyes piercing into mine.

I break the deadly eye contact. "You kind of admitted your feelings towards me," I mumble out as I fiddle with my fingers in my lap. I look back in time to see a faint blush on his face.

Gaara sucks in air. "I did?" he asks to clarify. He shakes his head minutely. "What a mess," he states, once again to himself. This time, I barely caught him saying it. I had to half-read his lips.

"I don't mind," I say hurriedly. I want him to know that it won't wreck our bond. He needs friends, and I'm not going to be one that he loses. Not over something like this. Last night, when Gaara laughed like it was all so silly, he was right. Because this, right here, right now… this is silly. Ridiculous. "I didn't even mind when you embraced me." My voice cracks again at the word 'embraced'.

"Did I do that? Truly?"

Gaara, I can tell, is trying not to show how embarrassed he is inside. I can tell he's attempting to hold it all in and keep his carefully constructed mask on. For who's sake – his, mine, his siblings', his country's – I can't decipher, but it's important for him to not show everything. And like I had explained last night, I totally get this about him.

"Look, Gaara, its no big deal, dattebayo." I want to reassure him, make him feel better, so that he doesn't have to hide behind that shell. "It would be a big deal is we had some anything… um, more physical… but we didn't, so it's nothing. You were under the influence of alcohol, so it wasn't your fault. You probably didn't mean anything by it. Heh, I mean, you were pretty freaking loopy. You had your head in my lap, for goodness sake!"

His cheeks tint pinker at that last tidbit of information. He wasn't buying my act, however; he sensed that it was a big deal (at least for me). "I still don't recall, but I get the picture. And you're wrong." Gaara's voice is sterner than it had been a moment ago. He stands, completely setting aside his paperwork for now to direct all his attention at me.

"I am? How?" I want to know.

He ignores my question. Instead, he says: "I suppose I know what type of drunk I am: the overly affectionate type. Makes sense; I've been deprived affection since birth, so it's only natural that I'd take matters into my own hands."

Aside from last night, that's probably the most speech I've ever heard Gaara make in one time. He must only act this way around me…

Gaara strides over to where I'm sitting, which happened to be a chair next to a bookshelf. I stand to meet him. "So… all that stuff last night was the truth, then?" I ask nervously.

He nods. "Are you fine with that?"

I try to swallow, but no spit goes down my throat. My mouth is dry. I lick my lips, wanting to create some saliva. "Y-yeah," I stutter. Being the container of a demon, I never thought anyone could love me. So, when someone does, girl or boy, why deny that person? I'm not sure if I'm in love with Gaara in return, but I care about him enough to give him a chance. He's been a Jinchuuriki, and hurt multiple times; is anything, he deserves a chance.

A tiny smile tugs at the corner of his mouth at my affirmation. I'm taller than him after three years of growing, I notice. I'm left staring down at his eyes. Gaara takes a step closer. "Good," he says with a feather-light hint of happiness coating his tone.

Then he hugs me.

'Shocked' would be an understatement here. Honestly, who would've thought a sober Gaara would hug anyone (hell, I didn't even think a drunk Gaara would.)?

Yet here I am, returning the gesture and flushing redder than Hinata as my eyes close inattentively.

Gaara's body feels so very small when he's against me, in just about every way. I'm inches taller, more muscular, have broader shoulders… he's just so thin and slim, tone but almost weak, his body feeling more like 14-years-old instead of 18. I know for a fact it's from years of having sand protect and fight for him without much effort on his part. No sleep would do the trick, too.

Essentially, Gaara's a petite, vulnerable person, despite being a ninja and village leader (which is dangerous in itself; being any leader puts you on the A-list; the assassinator's list). Wait a minute… this means… last night, he wasn't just talking about being drunk; Gaara wanted me to protect him no matter what. He entrusts his life to me. He's giving himself to me, and no, not in the perverted way, as much as part of me wouldn't mind that sort of trade-off.

"Gaara…" I breathe out, one of my hands sliding into his hair and caressing his head to my shoulder. Why did holding him feel so good?

"You accept me," he says as a revelation. And almost sounds like he was going to cry again.

"I always have," I reply, thinking he means that I accept him as an ex-demon carrier and as a person.

But again I misinterpret his words. He surprises me by meaning something else. "You accept my feelings for you even though I'm another male."

Oh. So that's what he meant.

Chikushou.

I wince. I'm still unsure. I said he deserved a chance, and I'm sticking with that, but I gotta face the facts: I've liked Sakura – a girl – from 12 years old to 17 years old. I created the sexy jutsu with my straight orientation in mind. I like the female half of the human race... mostly. And the one part that makes me say 'mostly' is one boy, one exception I've always had: Gaara. Because with him, I've always felt a connection deeper and thicker than any I've made with anyone else in the past.

"Gaara, I dunno…" I say slowly. I really do want to accept him, and without meaning to, my heart, body, and soul already have. It's just my stupid logic in my stupid head that stupidly wants to reject him and his feelings. If my heart/body/soul are all on board, why not my mind?!

He makes enough distance between us to stare into my eyes and read my multiple facial expressions. "What is it?" he wonders, his tone of voice hushed and afraid. "What's the matter?"

Something clicks into place in my head: I can't hurt him, not after all the shit he's been through. I won't be another person to hurt him. Not when doing that will hurt me, too.

So I smile wholeheartedly at him. "Nothing." I pause, my palms sweating as I grip his sleeves and lean in. I place my lips over his. I've never kissed someone on purpose before… I've fantasized about it, usually with Sakura-chan, but I guess that's never going to happen. I gave up on her a year ago.

Gaara gasps, a small, airy sound, as I shape my lips around his. I expected them to be chapped from the dryness of the desert. Yet they weren't. Gaara's lips were smooth and firm, and fit perfectly with my thick, pouty ones.

Maybe it was the high of my official first kiss, but I decided another thing: I was in love with Gaara, and have been since we went to rescue his pupil, Matsuri. Yep, that long. About five years ago when I was 13.

So I tell him. "I love you," I confess.

He goes dead silent after that. I don't even know if Gaara believes me. What I do know is this: if Kankurou had never gotten him drunk, none of this would have ever happened.

- End -