Chapter 11

Blood bubbled from the lips of the man under him, pooling around and in his ears as he was rendered immobile by the shock of getting his throat slit and abdomen stabbed. It was a sloppy job, but Gaara had had no choice but to do it this way. The job, known as Yakushi Kabuto, big time drug dealer and specializing in the manufacturing of enhanced LSD (also smuggling and selling other small drugs on the side from the hospital he worked), had been very well gaurded when Gaara had arrived.

He had taken all the precautions and it seemed Gaara's employers had been falsely informed of how high the job ranked. Even though it still didn't come up to par with his recomendations for his own standards, it was still difficult and was irritating to actually have to come face to face with the dealer. He hadn't been able to get a clean shot for all the stacking carriers and employees in the way, and his job was strictly to get rid of Yakushi.

So he did, though not in the way that was more appropriate and professional.

Since his gun couldn't get a direct hit, he had abandoned his gear and had jumped from one of the stacked bunkers of supplies that had been his scoping point. Stalking like a predator through the maze of wooden stacking carriers that reached almost to the ceiling of the warehouse, he had quickly and quietly withdrawn the hunting knife he had slid into the side of his boot. He silently thanked his intuition for demanding him take it.

Once the target was within eyesight, he waited until the guards began shifting - effectively leaving Yakushi exposed so he could move in for the kill. His movements were in their own right beautiful. The way he moved, so silent and quick, like a leapard on the prowl. His body crouched close to the ground with one hand clenched tightly around the dangerous blade. He started out slow as he crept toward the target and picking up the pace once he was in sight.

He was darting at him then, eyes zoned in on the silver haired man with an air of death washing over him as his stealth put a murderous snake to shame. His hand came up and then he was upon him, quickly slitting his throat to cut off sound before dragging him into the shadows of the crates without creating so much as a rustle of clothing. The man, Yakushi, stared wildly up at him and Gaara flipped his knife his hand before thrusting downwards with a great force and digging the cold steel into as many vital organs as possible in one strike.

After a few seconds of twitching and jerking spasms, Kabuto Yakushi passed silently and Gaara wiped his blade before stepping away. Blood was spattered on his clothes and surrounding floor, but there was nothing to do about that. Although it irked him that he had to get messy with it, there had been no alternative. So, with a glare down at the dead man, Gaara grabbed onto the crates at his side before hauling himself up and out of sight just as the guards rounded the corner and found their dead boss lying in his own blood.

When the alarm was set off, ringing shrilly in the ears of the scrambling workers going for their weapons, Gaara was already outside and driving quickly away. He left no trace at all of his appearance or disappearance.

Like always, it was as though he had never been there in the first place and the death had happened out of thin air.


"Wait! Oh, come on don't do this to me! That's my favorite pair!!"

Matsuri dove at the dog that was currently dodging around the room with her underwear hanging from his lower jaw. The large canine barked excitedly and jumped over her as she fell to the floor and scrambled into her bedroom. With a frustrated growl, Matsuri pushed herself from the floor and ran after him, slamming the door behind her to block him in.

He stood stiffly on the mattress, head lowered and eyes sparkling excitedly as she crept closer to him, speaking in soothing voice. He didn't buy it and made to jump off the mattress to crawl his way under the bed where she wouldn't be able to reach him without lifting it up. By then, the new toy he had discovered would be ripped to shreds.

Matsuri, seeing the dog lean toward the edge of the bed, jumped onto the mattress and tackled the canine into the sheets. "Give it here you little pest!" she yelled, her hands grasping into the fabric of her underwear.

The dog 'woof'ed as his muzzle was shoved into the blankets and his body pinned beneath the girl above him. His paws scrambled around in the sheets, trying to claw himself from under her, only to feel his body being pressed harder into the soft linens. He yelped indignantly as his new toy was wrenched from his jaws and held out of his reach.

"Finally!" Matsuri exclaimed as she held up her undergarments. Surveying the damage done, her lips formed a petulent pout and her eyes glared daggers at the canine looking innocently back up at her. "Oh, you are so dead mutt."

At that moment the phone rang loudly from the other room and Matsuri glanced at the door before looking back at the dog in front of her. "You're saved. For now. But don't get too comfortable because I'm going to come back in here to make sure you meet your scheduled demise."

"Hello?" Matsuri said breathlessly, cradling the phone between her shoulder and ear as she leaned against the wall, slightly tired from her wrestel with the dog and sprint to the phone.

"Hi, Matsuri. It's Hanabi."

"Hanabi? Is everything okay? Is Hinata okay?"

The voice on the other line sighed impatiently. "Yes, Hinata is fine. Why does everyone ask that question as soon as I call them? Look, I was just calling to tell you that you left your dish here yesterday. It's washed and waiting for you on the counter. You can come and pick it up any time you want since you have a spare key. Everyone is going to be out today so feel free to come whenever."

"Oh, okay. I'll stop by on my way to the pet store."

"Pet store?"

This time it was Matsuri who sighed and glared at the black mass of fur sneaking quietly out of her room to hide someplace else. "It's a long story."

"And I'm sure it's a very interesting story that you will have to tell me when I have more time, but I have to go. Be careful on your way over, the roads are pretty slick with ice."

"I will, thanks. Bye, Hanabi."


After they hung up, Matsuri walked down the hall back to her bedroom. As she opened the door she glanced over her shoulder and saw soft, milky ember eyes staring at her from behind the couch. Despite her annoyance at him, she found a small smile tugging at her lips and she sighed.

"Oh you little heart-thief," she accused quietly. "I can already tell I will never be able to stay mad at you for over three seconds."

The dog gave a wolfish smile and panted, wagging his tail lazily. Matsuri laughed and walked into her room and grabbed a change of clothes before going to get a quick shower. While the water warmed her chilled skin, she began tossing names for the dog around in her head. Some she said aloud, testing them, only to discard them as they fell wrongly off her lips. None seemed to fit but she was confident she would find one soon.


Temari bit her lip and stared at the door over her shoulder. He should be walking in any minute now, she thought. Any second he would walk through and see her bent over the copying machine as she pretended to have a problem with it when in fact she knew exactly what to do to get it working. Plug it in. But that was beside the point. She needed to get herself noticed by him, therefore starting the chain of events that would get him to trust her and accept her in his investigation. Therefore she would be able to cover up Gaara's tracks.

The door opened at that moment and Temari instantly twisted back around and bent over the copier, making annoyed noises in the back of her throat. In the back of her mind she was disgusted with herself for acting like a ditsy intern, but in reality she had no choice. She would choose family over pride any day, even though the Sabaku's were widely known for having more pride than the size of an elephant.

She heard someone cough and slowly rose, making sure to curve her back seductively before turning and looking the extra person in the eye with a mock pouting face. However, upon seeing who had happened into the room, her pout turned into a sour scowl and she crossed her arms - annoyed.

"Can I help you?"

The overweight handy man before her smiled grossly with a gleam in his eye. "Maybe I should be askin' you that, don't ya think?"

Temari swallowed the vomit rising in her throat as his eyes raked over her form, lingering on her deliciously exposed legs. "Excuse me," she said, making her way for the door. "I have to make a call to the janitors, they seemed to have missed a rather large grease ball."

The man's watery eyes furrowed in confusion, not understanding that he was the brunt of her insult and she groaned in frustration as she wrenched the door open and stormed out.

Only to bump into a solid body and stagger back against the wall beside the door she had just exited.

"Oh for the love of...would you people just stay out of my way!" she snapped, shaking her head clear and pushing off of the wall.

"You're the one that came storming out of the room like someone had kicked your cat."

Temari froze at the voice and quickly looked up at the man she had ran into and mentally pounded herself in the head. Nara. If he had been only a few minutes earlier he would have fell into her plan. But nooo, the disgusting handy man had to stumble upon her, completely ruining her plans, and she had to run into the very person she was trying to seduce. Fate was certaintly giving her a kick in the ass today.

"I'm sorry, Detective. I was distracted." she prattled off, attempting an apologetic smile. "Forgive me, I hope?"

Shikamaru shook his head tiredly. "Yes, of course. It was no problem, really. I was distracted, too."

Silence settled over them and Temari racked her brain for something witty and teasing to say to draw him in, but nothing came to mind. Feeling desperate, she reached out and squeezed his shoulder as she stepped out of his way. "I hope you settle whatever is distracting you, Detective." she said seriously, hoping furiously that he would go for the deep, serious type of girls because she was hopeless in the giggly, bubbly field. Temari was all business, not fru-fru pinky induced.

At his widened eyes, she knew she had made an impression and began a slow walk down the hall, knowing he was watching her the entire time. Which is why she purposefully lengthened her steps to give a more sexy swing to her hips. As she rounded a corner and stepped out of his sight, a surge of power wrapped warmly around her and Temari grinned triumphantly. Phase one, complete.

She tried not to dwell too much on the guilt lingering in the back of her head. It would only complicate things in the end and she didn't need that kind of burdern. She had too much on her plate as it was.


Gaara shrugged on his jacket and stepped out of his house, having gave up the thought of getting some sleep. After arriving home at sunrise and grabbing a quick shower, he had tried to catch a bit of shut-eye but it had proved to be futile. He was too wired on his last job to have any hope of sleeping. Which was fine, he supposed. He didn't much feel like sleeping anyway.

He walked lazily down the sidewalk, heading toward the park he had been through before with a comfortable air. It had been a long period of time since he had been assigned anything, and he felt like everything was falling into place finally. He hadn't felt like this since before his siblings and himself had moved. He did feel unsettled, however. But over what, he wasn't quite sure.

It was just there, in the back of his mind, bugging him and eating at his insides. It was like an annoying little tick that refused to stop drawing blood. Maybe it was because of the fact that it was starting to snow and he wasn't a big fan of cold weather. Sighing heavily, he quickened his pace and began looking for some type of shop to spend the next half hour or so to wait out the snow before making his way back home. It seemed he wouldn't be able to make it to the park today. He didn't let the disappointment settle over him just yet, he would go another day.

A music store lay on the other side of the road and Gaara made his way toward it, being careful not to slip on the ice coating the roads and sidewalk. As he stepped onto the slick asphalt, a high piercing screech shattered the air and his head snapped to the side, watching in growing horror as a car came careening down the down the road straight toward him.

If he hadn't been trained to follow through with lightening fast reflexes due to his profession, the outcome of his situation could have proven to be problematic or even fatile. But he managed to jump out of the way of danger just as the car fishtailed and screamed to a stop in the middle of the road. A small crowd gathered on the sidewalk across the road and Gaara glared at them. Whenever some kind of fataility happened, people gathered like flies and buzzed their gossip from one ear to the next. It made him physically ill.

At that moment a woman stumbled from the car and into the road with a rather large canine following behind. A slow, satisfied smile spread over Gaara's lips as he watched the woman stagger on the road - gathering her footing - before quickly making her way over to him. He tucked his hands lazily in his pockets as he followed her with his sharp gaze and saw recognition flash in her bright eyes and her steps slow - much to his amusement - before she seemed to decide on some internal dilemma and continued on toward him with wary steps.

"Gaara?" she asked, stopping before him with a worried expression.

"If you wanted to kill me, there are easier ways to go about doing it." She didn't need to know just how serious that comment was.

The ice seemed to be broken between them and Matsuri gave a small smile as she laughed, embarressed. "I'm really sorry about that, the roads were just so slick and I wasn't expecting that. A friend of mine warned me about it but I guess I just didn't pay much attention. I should have put some chains on the tires or something."

Gaara shook his head. "It's fine. No harm done."

Matsuri blinked. "I almost ran you over with my car and you say 'no harm done'? Did you hit your head on the sidewalk? Do you I need to take you to the hospital to check for a concussion?"

He smirked mockingly. "Are you implying there is something wrong with my head?"

"Considering you think getting ran over is no big deal, yes, I am going to question your sanity. Repeatedly, in fact, if I need to."

He shrugged. "I wasn't hurt and neither were you, that's all that's important."

Matsuri hesitated before nodding. "You're right. But I am sorry, I should have been more careful."

"I should have been watching where I was going."

At that moment the dog at Matsuri's side began to growl softly, eyeing the man before him with stoney ember eyes. His hackles raised, he flattened his ears and swished his tail angrily. He didn't like the smell of this man, the intentions he was giving off in his scent. It unsettled the canine deeply and he moved in front of Matsuri's legs to block off the man in case he decided to move in.

Gaara raised a brow at the dog in question and leaned back to eye the glinting fangs peeking out from under his lips. Impressive, he thought. Very impressive indeed. He could've made a hell of a guard dog at his firm with teeth and muscles like that. With a bit of training, he could quickly rise to the top of the canine promotion table.

Matsuri entangled her finger's in the dogs fur reassuringly. "I'm sorry, I guess he isn't too friendly with strangers." he could hear the doubt in her words.

"It's fine." Gaara said. "He won't hurt me."

As the words left his lips, Gaara reached out and patted the dog on the head and l kneeled down to his level. "Will you, boy."

Even the dog could sense the dangerous air surrounding the man before him and it was hard not to roll over on his belly to him, but the canine refused to conform. His protective instincts were stronger than the urge to please a master and he continued to growl softly in his throat, fixing his glittering eyes on the intimidating man before him.

Gaara smiled easily, watching the dog's confused emotions flash through his expressive eyes. Rising from his crouch, he nodded to Matsuri. "Seems like a good dog. What's his name?"

"I haven't given him one yet, I kind of just got him last night." At his skeptical look she just shook her head. "Long story." she sighed.

Gaara gave a slight lift of his shoulder, showing indifference. "I have time."

Matsuri looked baffled for a moment before shaking it off and looking over her should as car horn beeped loudly. "Uh, hold that thought while I go move my car. Can you watch my dog for a second?"

As he gave his assent, she darted off, much to the dog's alarm, and leaped into her car to move it out from the middle of the road. Gaara ran a hand through his hair and shook off the annoying snow as he layed his other free hand on the dog's back to stop him from getting any ideas of running off. The canine sat at his feet and snorted, not liking being left with the strange man or with the cold snow.

When Matsuri rejoined them, breathless from her running, she smiled warily - still nervous around Gaara with suspiscion burning in her gaze. "Did you want to come with me to the pet store? I can give you the whole story there."

He glanced up at the gray sky before looking back at her guarded black eyes. "Anything to get out of the snow." he grunted and followed her across the street to a small building with a sign reading 'Pet Shoppe' in Old English letters.

A wicked grin settled over his features as he trailed behind her, liking the oppurtunity to get to know someone that had been related to one of his jobs. It was an odd, curious feeling that he was almost positive he shouldn't be pursuing, but Gaara was a creature of curiousity and he was easily throwing caution to the wind as he sped up to walk beside her, watching her carefully from the corner of his eyes. It was like a fun little game, playing with this woman who just a few weeks ago seemed to be empty from pain. She seemed to bounce back pretty quickly, but Gaara was willing to bet that she was suffering more than she showed and he concluded that exposing her wounds would prove to be a Granted it was cruel, but for someone who hardly got close to anyone besides family and spent their workdays assainating, ripping away a person's mask seemed to be an ideal challenge. If only for the time being. He could always get bored with it, after all.

So I hope that confrontation wasn't too assy. Please be patient, I know the updates are super slow but I have a lot to do right now. I can't wait for a break from school. Please tell me what you think and again, sorry for the slow updating!