[A/N]: Yes, I know, I know, I'm finally updating the story AND it's not the end of the world. How strange can this be? O.o OK, jokes aside, I am really busy at the moment. You see, I'm a senior and I have NO idea what I want to do next. So I'm kinda stuck preparing myself for Medicine, Law and Police Academy. And if one is busy studying to get admitted into one of these, imagine MY life. I barely have time to take a break, let alone surf the Net. So, please forgive my lateness with this chapter. Speaking of which, I am SO displeased with this one, it's kinda boring, but I have great plans for the next one. -mischievous grin- BTW, don't get surprised by the title. I've watched a lot of Survivor lately... The show rocks!

To NikkiColey and everyone who has wondered about the significance of Kizu's name. It means 'Scar' (those familiar with 'InuYasha' know it from Inuyasha's Kaze no Kizu also known as The Scar of the Wind). The reason for this choice: I wouldn't quite say that Kizu is scarred, but the murder of her father is and will be a hindrance in the path of her happiness. BTW, NikkiColey, 'Kuso' means crap, just so you know. Why would I want to name my character like that? O.o

I believe thanks are in order now: NikkiColey, Ratsemina, Kida-Of-the-Wolves, MyDyingDaysBlackRose, xX-Heady-Revelation-Xx, 3karen3, Moon Surfer, ProfilingXCSIXMyXCareer, Kyrie Twilight, justanothergaarafangurl, Koori Youkai Hime, Dragon of Twilight, Alysha Amber, Andrayat, Black Claided Cat, childofflameandwave, Elle Q. Kaye, His Friend Helena, SugarLandBabyGirl, The Black Deity, Thequietmute, Tilders, WritersLove, AmY-DyLaN-SoHiA-aNiKi, Crown-Daydreamer, Elven-Fire-Princess, I'mGaara'sLover, katarauchiha653719, Kawaii Chibi Kami, LunaBell08, Orange Gum Drop, randomgirl110, sheenosokey. And one of those tears-in-the-eyes moments: Thank you so much, guys, you are the only thing who motivates me to continue the story despite my dearth of free time. SERIOUSLY, I'm updating this only because of your support. GOD, I LOVE YOU SO MUCH! -runs crying out of the room-

Chapter Three: SURVIVOR (Kizu style)

Her legs wobbled as they were practically dragged on the stony floor, her left hand was closed into a fist near her hips, shaking with the intensity of the feeling – something between anxiety, terror and shock, or perhaps all of them combined into a not so pleasant emotion for every step she took sent chills down her spine, bigger both in duration and intensity while beads of sweat appeared on her forehead and at her temples. Not to mention the sweaty palms. Her dry lips were parted, taking in short quick breaths of air, her right hand was on the middle of her chest as the sudden terrifying feeling of choking due to the lack of air or the peril of the situation made her temporarily oblivious to the process of properly breathing. Her eyes were wide open, staring right in front of her, but not seeing anything. All she could decipher through the haziness of her vision were shapes and shadows, none of which were the least bit close to reality. But it didn't matter, really. She didn't need to see the worried faces of the employees in order to realize the danger she would be facing. She knew that. Oh, she knew it all too well.

That thought sent a new series of shivers through her entire body and her mouth was temporarily closed as she tried to get rid of the dryness in her throat by gulping. The sound echoed in her ears long and loud because of the eerie silence which surrounded the hall. The workers were doing their best trying to keep their negative thoughts out of Kizu's earshot by whispering one another, but it was all in vain. She didn't need to hear the words 'misfortune', 'Kami-sama', or 'poor child' because they had been present in her mind ever since the secretary called her. The imminence of death was the only coherent thought circulating in her mind.

As if on cue, her eyelids retreated more, her lapis lazuli eyes now wide open as everything around her changed. The beige walls began to fade and her breath was caught in her throat as her orbs seemed to see through everything. Behind the countless walls, she could see the others' offices and she went though all of them until her gaze remained glued on a massive double door which looked anything but inviting. Her eyebrows knitted as she was in visible pain only thinking of God knows what atrocities might await inside for her. Kizu was certain that behind the intimidating door her was her executioner. One mistake… that was all it would take for things to turn badly for her. With the decision not to delay the inevitable any further in mind and chakra traveling at a maddening speed in her system as a clear sign of alert, Kizu raised her right hand off her chest and knocked. That was the right moment to panic.

Gaara was in a bad mood, alright. He was practically breathing fire and smoke was coming out of his ears. His robe was forgotten on the back of his chair, leaving the young Kazekage in a black T-shirt with a fishnet one underneath. The burning flames of anger were making him hotter than the usual blistering heat of the desert and he would sink his callous fingers in the collar of his shirt and pull it from time to time in a futile attempt to get some air to circulate underneath his cloth as his skin was blazing hot. He let another low curse escape his lips as he felt the irresistible urge to relinquish that place and go on a killing spree to relieve some of the tension. The target – Kankuro, of course. The corners of his lips raised in an evil grin as Gaara was suddenly enthusiastic about the prospect of meeting his brother later that day. He would make sure Kankuro paid for lying to him.

'As long as there's blood involved, you can count on me, too, kid.' Shukaku wickedly grinned, overjoyed at the extremely violent thoughts inside his host's mind.

'Oh, there will be more than blood, I assure you.' Gaara thought with the same sadistic smile on his countenance, his otherwise clear emotionless eyes portraying the virulent ire he felt inside. But there was more than wrath that he felt, it was anxiety, too. Along with excitement. He hadn't had a fight for months; surely this would prove to be entertaining for him. The cork of his gourd popped up and a tendril of sand arose like a snake slowly approaching its prey. Gaara's smile widened as he imagined his elder brother where he truly belonged – 6 feet under the sand with a funeral stone to prevent him from escaping. Not that he could, Gaara was certain Kankuro was on hell's guest-of-honour list. His sand suddenly fell to the floor as the young leader was brought back to earth by a knock at the door. He sighed, trying to regain his composure, not wanting to make a victim other than Kankuro. He ran his hands through his unruly hair for the hundredth time, making it messier than usual, he folded his arms over his chest while sitting properly on his chair and then he ordered the newest breakthrough in his office to enter. Although he tried to keep his anger locked inside, he failed miserably as some of it managed to sweep in his voice.

Outside the door, Kizu involuntarily shivered and all colour drained from her face at the sound of his voice. Him being her Death God, she was sure of it now. She took a deep breath and exhaled with a long-suffering sigh, looking at the gigantic door which seemed to scream 'Eat her up!'

'Breathe, Kizu, he can smell fear.' And with that thought in mind, she pushed the left half of the door, her eyes closed and her thoughts organized in a small prayer. Let it not be said that Kizu Namida had entered the Evil's Lair without asking for Kami-sama's help.

'You're late.' Gaara stated as she turned to close the massive wooden door and her right hand twitched as she slowly pushed it. Completely out of control and contrary to her wish, Kizu gulped, hoping that Mr. Doom hadn't heard it. But of course he did. For the shortest of seconds, he let a smirk of satisfaction grace his lips, but it was soon replaced by his usual morose countenance.

'I would have come sooner, but while my mind was yelling to hurry up here, my legs refused to cooperate.' Kizu turned around, ready to explain the (made-up) reason for her delaying so much, but all words got stuck in her throat as she finally saw the Kazekage. It was… shocking, to say the least, the image of him looking so… informal, as if he was a normal young man equal to her. There was no robe to cover his lean muscles, but a black T-shirt which complimented both his eyes and messy hair which screamed SEX. Kizu was taken aback by this sudden change, not that she had seen the Lord more than five times, but still… It was quite a sight to behold.

In the meantime, Gaara mentally growled as he saw her staring at him, remembering the earlier episode with his secretary. He had had enough of his fangirls and if Kizu didn't cease ogling at him, then there would be no stopping him from killing her. Or, at least, from torturing her until she got the message.

'Ooh, I like that… I've got some good means of torture in mind.' Shukaku felt the need to say, but was immediately sent away by a struggling-to-concentrate Gaara.

'Namida…' He warned her and at that very moment, Kizu lowered her gaze to the floor, blood rising to her cheeks and all coherent thoughts temporarily suspended.

'I am dreadfully sorry, Kazekage-sama, if I had been announ-'

'No excuses.' Gaara peremptorily cut her off, headache forming at the irritating thought of having been waiting for her for 15 minutes. He, the mighty Kazekage, had been kept waiting for a mere girl who didn't have the common sense (or intelligence) to present herself before him on time. If anything, Gaara hated when people were late because he, serving as an example for the others, was always earlier than the time agreed or he seldom arrived dead on time. Having been forced to wait for 'the nuisance' (as he had called her after the previous night) was a disgrace for him. And a folly of her part. 'Make sure it doesn't repeat itself ever again.' He threatened, looking at the bowing girl in front of him.

'It won't, my Lord. I promise.' Kizu solemnly stated, looking Gaara straight in the eyes for emphasis. The Kazekage narrowed his eyes, not being used to eye contact because everyone else avoided him and Kizu, having noticed his reaction, tore her gaze away from his intimidating look and set her eyes on the eastern wall.

'Ease on the gas, kid, you're breathing fire. The girl is new at this, so you might want to show her the good stuff.' Shukaku joked, trying to dissipate some of his host's negative aura, but Gaara remained unfazed.

'There are no good parts related to being an Elder.'

'Of course not if your boss is such a prick.' The beast muttered, unhappy not to get some reaction from Gaara at his innuendo.

'Mind your own business, Shukaku. I'll take care of mine.'

'Sure thing, but don't start complaining later that your Elder is an emotional wreck. You will be the only one to blame for that.'

'My Lord?'

Gaara raised his head, aquamarine eyes meeting pure blue ones. He gripped the handle of a drawer from his desk as he once again fell into the same previous state of fury. Shukaku had just made him lose his focus on the task at hand. Damn that demon!

'May I inquire the reason as to why you have summoned me?' Kizu asked, setting her gaze on his tattoo since it was lack of respect to avoid looking at him. That and she didn't want to lose her mental health by gazing into his eyes again.

'If you may…' Gaara said, gesturing for her to take a sit in front of him and Kizu eagerly complied with his request. She didn't trust her legs to support her any longer. However, this brought her closer to her living nightmare, making her decision a rather unwise one. She placed her hands in her lap, playing with her fingers and not throwing a single glance in Gaara's direction. She had observed the guy was in a very bad mood and she didn't want to give him reasons to relieve all his anger on her.

'I have been informed that Tokaru will be unable to leave the hospital for at least a month.' Gaara began. 'Therefore, you will be his temporarily replacement. I've also been told that you've been introduced to the duties of an Elder and possess common knowledge of things related to having that status. Is it correct?'

'Yes, Kazekage-sama.' Kizu nodded, lifting her gaze and setting her eyes on Gaara for the briefest of seconds. The words 'temporarily replacement' discouraged her into thinking that the village's leader had no desire to acknowledge as a true Elder.

'Have you finished your training with Tokaru?'

'No, Sir.' She said in an undertone, looking on one side as she imagined Gaara's reaction at this bad news. Indeed, this put Gaara on some deep thinking because he was not willing to have a mediocre adviser. He worked only with the most capable people in order for things to be great in his village. He had no interest in starters, but this girl was somewhat different. She had potential. He had seen that much from her work the previous night. If given the chance, she might actually be of some help in the office.

'Do you consider yourself capable of performing an Elder's tasks?' Gaara finally vociferated, intently beholding the girl in front of him for any signs of hesitation. If she had no confidence in herself, then how could someone expect him to trust her abilities?

However, not even the slightest hint of doubt crossed her face. 'As a matter of fact, I do consider myself more than capable of being an Elder.' Kizu seriously answered, looking straight into Gaara's eyes to amplify her conviction. She wanted this job more than anything in the world and she had sworn she would obtain it even if it were the last thing she would do.

'She seems determined to see herself as an Elder.' Gaara mused, scrutinizing her entire being.

'I'm determined to see her on your desk or on her knees.' Shukaku playfully added and Gaara mentally groaned. It was really hard to concentrate with the shameless images the monster projected in his mind. Returning to the present situation, he eyed Kizu just like a predator does with his prey and leaned towards her, intent on finding a weak spot in her assertions. 'I hope you understand the importance of holding this status. Each and every one of your acts will have a direct consequence over the village. Are you ready to take that responsibility?'

'Yes, Sir. I will do everything in my power to ensure Suna's well-being.'

'Really?' Gaara said in an incredulous tone, leaning back in his chair and casting her an hostile look. 'Perhaps you would care to answer a question? Out of sheer curiosity.'

Kizu blinked, not liking where this was going. 'Yes, of course.'

'What can a girl like you do for the village? After all, you have no experience in what you are about to do, therefore possessing some skills is out of the question.'

'This doesn't sound too good.' Kizu thought, fearing the outcome of his statement.

'You clearly know nothing about ruling Sunagakure, let alone advise me in problems related to it.'

'This is bad. Really really bad.' Kizu gulped, certain that the aftermath would prove to be unfortunate for her.

'And from what my informants have gathered, you started training two months ago, so you are nowhere near being ready for the responsibilities of an Elder.'

'Shit, this can only lead to one thing…'

'I highly doubt your ability of being my adviser and I consider you utterly unfit for the job.'

'Jeez, couldn't he have said it any more… delicately? But again, I couldn't have expected anything else from a man destitute of all compassion.'

'In conclusion, I am unwilling to give you the title you wish for. Unless you have something to prove me wrong.'

'This is the most crucial point in obtaining the job. I won't hold back. I don't care what he'll think of me after this, seeing as he doesn't know anything about me, either, but this doesn't stop him from talking like that. Unfit for the job? What the hell does he know about it? I've striven so hard for this, I'm… I'm not leaving this office until I get the job I so deserve!'

'May I speak?' Kizu asked, struggling to keep her tone of voice as polite as possible, though she was bristling with rage.

'Please do.' Gaara allowed, curious about her reply and how it would affect him.

'Afraid you'll lose the bet?' Shukaku asked with a sly grin to which Gaara could only answer with a proud 'You wish.'

'I understand that my lack of experience is a very disconcerting fact, but I assure you that if I had been given an opportunity-'

'Opportunity is something that you earn, Namida.'

'I cannot earn something for which I am not permitted to fight, Kazekage-sama.' Kizu retaliated, voice becoming to grow thick with irritation.

The corners of Gaara's lips almost imperceptibly lifted for a second and he leaned back in his chair even more, bringing his left hand on the desk. Kizu's gaze not once wavered from Gaara's, not even as he began drumming his fingers, and seeing as he was the object of her undivided attention, he could not but admit: 'Fair enough.'

Kizu mentally sighed and her uptight posture visibly relaxed. She even let a small smile lighten her face a bit as the pride of having made the Fifth Kazekage acknowledge something she had said gave her hope and more determination. But she knew it wasn't over, no one had ever been even with Sabaku no Gaara, let alone defeat him, whether in battle or speech. She may have obtained a point, but the match was by no means over. Not with her being victorious.

The tapping of Gaara's fingers ceased and he brought his other hand on the desk, too, entwining his fingers and leaning towards Kizu again. 'Supposing I do hand you the post because you… earn it, as you imply. There is still the problem of age. Not to mention the inexperience which is, without a doubt, your greatest disadvantage.'

'I fail to see what age has to do with this.' Kizu retorted, trying to keep her mind off their closeness which undoubtedly made her feel uneasy. It was far too close for her comfort, his gaze far too piercing, his breath far too warm and enticing. But she had to concentrate. 'If one is made for a certain job, his age is of no consequence.'

Her opponent's eyes narrowed again. 'A bit too preposterous of you to consider yourself made for being an Elder, don't you think? After all, the decision belongs solely to me. And from what you've said so far, it seems I have no choice but to hire you. Does my having a say in this bother you, Namida?'

His hostile look didn't manage to break Kizu's defense barrier, though. If even, she felt more determined to prove her value. 'My sincerest apology if I may have offended you, Kazekage-sama. Though I have to affirm I find myself offended, as well. I am but a humble servant and my respect for you is so high no one will ever make it fall. I assure you my allegiance will lie with you forever and I don't have the smallest doubt that every choice you make is a wise one for you always put Sunagakure's well-being before anything. No matter the decision you take with regard to my being an Elder or not, I will thoroughly welcome it. And I am sorry if you have taken my confidence for boastfulness. I assure you that you are sadly mistaken. What I meant by saying that I am made for the job was that I have been indoctrinated with this ideas ever since childhood. I was taught I would be the village's Elder and no one else by the members of the clan.'

'Indeed, you are the best choice for this job seeing how the previous Elders have been chosen within your clan, but this is not enough to convince me you are worth it. I have other options, people whom I trust and who are better than you at this time. So let me make it clear for you: despite your advantage of inheriting the title, you do not lack competition. Don't be under the delusion that you will become the Elder no matter what.'

'Then the solution is fairly simple.' Kizu immediately replied and Gaara's eyebrows knitted in confusion. 'If there is a competition, then allow us to battle for the title. This way you will have no doubt you have gained the best person for the task.'

'I cannot.' Gaara nonchalantly stated. 'You will be at a clear disadvantage because they, unlike you, have been trained for a longer time and have professed in certain domains. It will not be an equal battle.'

'But I agree to it!' Kizu whole-heartedly exclaimed, trying to persuade Gaara.

'I do not!' Gaara's slightly-raised voice echoed throughout the room and Kizu backed away in her chair, vexed to have failed obtaining a chance to prove her being worthy of the rank and surprised of Gaara's sudden outburst. She was running out of options and this brought more despair upon her as the dreadful feeling of helplessness held sway over her entire being. Her anxiety and anger − for not being able to do anything to convince Gaara that she was the most capable person − emphasized and, as a consequence, her judgement was clouded by impatience and mortification.

'Then how am I going to obtain the job?' She desperately asked, formality momentarily forgotten. This fact didn't go unseen by Gaara, who didn't look displeased at her mannerless way of questioning, but accomplished to see the girl finally reacting to his pressure. Her cold way of thinking irritated him extremely and Gaara mentally smirked as he anticipated a very satisfying fiery conversation.

'I suggest you step back for the time being, continue your training and claim the title when you will be 100% prepared for it.' Gaara said in a deadpan voice, looking through some papers on the desk as a 'End of discussion' sign which did nothing but to addle Kizu's brain more.

'So what you are basically telling me is that I should give up. I had no idea this is how a leader encourages his devotees. Or is it just because in this case the leader is you?' Kizu folded her arms and threw Gaara a look of contempt.

Now that was something Gaara most definitely did not anticipate. No one in their right mind had dared address him in such an insulting manner and he fought to recollect his thoughts, although the blood was boiling in his veins. If it was one thing he could not tolerate, that was to have his authority as a Kazekage challenged.

'Wow, this girl has balls, I admit that.'Shukaku joined the conversation, feeling the oncoming explosion of Gaara's fury. His joke went down like a lead balloon, though, because Gaara could perceive nothing but the unforgivable insult brought upon him.

'Would you need a reminder of to whom you are addressing?' Gaara's unsteady voice was low and dangerous and Kizu mentally yelled at her stupidity. 'To hell with it, if he has no intention of offering me the job, then I might as well give him a piece of my mind.'

'No, I think I have a pretty good idea. I just don't see why I should appeal to formality if you don't even bother to listen to my pleas!'

'I have no need of a weak Elder!'

'I AM NOT WEAK!' She jumped to her feet in a blazing fury. 'How dare you presume such a thing? You know nothing about me! I have worked so hard to become a good Elder, you know nothing of the sacrifices I had to make!'

Gaara was up, too, in instant, eyes full of kill intent and breath coming out in short, quick gasps. 'This conversation ends here.'

'Not if I continue to talk.' Kizu defied him, her being swarming with misery, fear and shame. He was, after all, the Kazekage, and she didn't even have the right to look him in the eyes, let alone react like that. By no means did she intent to inveigh against him. She was sorry, but could not repent. It was too late. 'I know you doubt my capability, but this is no reason to completely disregard my application. And I simply refuse to believe I was doomed to failure from the start. Moreover, how many people were against your being chosen as a Kazekage?' Her voice subsided as equanimity overtook her, even though Gaara's anger only increased.

'Don't compare the present situation with-'

'How is it any different? Kazekage-sama, have you not fought to earn the title you now proudly hold? Were you not even younger than I am right now? Have you trained how to act like a Lord before actually becoming one?'

The abrupt question threw him off balance and he couldn't reply for he had not expected her to pull out that trump card. He fought against the restlessness of his temper while Kizu fell in her chair, voice shaking with emotion. 'Everybody…' He looked at her with cold eyes, but she kept staring at her hands, seemingly lost in her own thoughts. 'Everyone expects me to fail. To prove that I am as worthless as they think of me. A disgrace… which I now have no doubt I am.' Her face softened as a small bittersweet smile graced her lips, thus leading to the disappearance of Gaara's frown and the calming of the tension he felt inside. 'I guess I…broke the single promise I made in my entire life. I deceived the only person who trusted me…and blotched the memory of…the person I most care about. The person who taught me everything I know. Everything I am. Or, at least, everything I thought I was.'

Gaara took a seat in his chair and let out a long inaudible sigh to relieve some of his inner tumult. He furrowed his eyebrows not knowing what to say next and loathing the fact that he had to deal with such raw emotions.

'I always said you had that effect on girls. You make them cry, be it out of grief or pleasure.'

'Shut up, demon, I don't expect you to understand.'

'Fine, fine, gee. All this tension in the air and you ain't even getting laid.'

A muscle under Gaara's left eye twitched and Kizu, finally raising her gaze, interpreted it as vexation she was to blame for. She slowly pushed her chair back and got up, catching Gaara's gaze as he looked to see what she was doing.

'I am… extremely ashamed of myself for behaving like that in front of you and I am more than certain apologies would do nothing to alleviate the pain I must have caused you. However, I… I truly am sorry for the way things turned out.' Her saddened face and dewy eyes proved the truth of her words and Gaara knew the meeting was then finally over. She bowed and turned for the door, but she was able to make three steps towards it when a tendril of sand blocked her way. She closed her eyes, having expected him not to simply let go of his anger and waited for his next move. And waited. And waited until… nothing happened.

'Sit down.' She was struck by the calmness of Gaara's voice and her befuddled face turned to him, expecting to find a fuming Lord ready to give her a piece of his mind. But Gaara simply looked at her childlike face as if nothing had happened.

'Do I need to repeat myself?' he asked, pulling the chair back and starting to rise, but Kizu was in her chair with bated breath by then. She doubted things could get any worse than they already were, but she wasn't willing to take any risks. Gaara allowed himself a small smile inside his mind while Shukaku grinned naughtily.

'Speed: check. What do you know? She might be able to keep up with you in the bedroom, after all.'

'Can you stop thinking about sex for at least five seconds?' Gaara's patience with his demon's Kankuro-like behaviour was at its limits.

'Come on, kid. You know me better than that.'

'And how I repent for it every single day of my life.'

Kizu was playing with her fingers, not knowing what might await her and Gaara ensconced himself in his chair, bending to open a drawer and pick an envelope and a sheet of paper.

'Nuh uh huh, you lost the bet, kid.'

'And so did you. We're even.'

'Then we have to reach an agreement here. 3 hours.'


'Eight?! What the hell is wrong with you? Wanna become a martyr or something? Four.'

Gaara sighed, knowing there was no escaping Shukaku's rambling and that if the demon was dissatisfied, he would most definitely get countless headaches. 'Five hours and that's final.'

'Deal.'Shukaku agreed, grin spread all over his face.

With a sly smile, Gaara picked a pile of papers beside the envelope and placed them in front of the confused girl. Kizu looked at them with a frown, not understanding one bit of what had happened for the last two minutes, raised her eyes to cast Gaara an inquisitive glance, then lowered them to the papers again. In all her thoughtlessness, she failed to see what he was trying to convey. There was an envelope with the word 'Elder' written on it and behind it there was a stock of papers, the front one having her name in the upper right corner. Her amazement was so great that she gasped in shock, sound which she immediately drowned by clapping both of her hands over her mouth as she realized it. She looked at the young Kazekage in time to see a light trace of amusement disappear from his now placid face.

'I need you to make a file with all information about you and present it to me at 8 p.m today the latest. That is your timetable organized for the entire week you will be working as an Elder. This is the period your abilities will be tested, but I trust you will perform your duties as a true Elder despite this being a test.'

The fact that Sabaku no Gaara was taking her into account for the job was beyond belief. Kizu was overjoyed as realization dawned on her and her alight eyes expressed the buoyancy she no doubt felt. 'I did it! I did it! Damn, I'm good!' She thought as she mentally did a victory dance.

'Inside the envelope you will find documents through which you will have access to every piece of information in this office and outside. However, if you ever need something from the highly-classified area of the library, you will come here and ask for permission. I cannot let anyone enter there unless they have serious reason to do so.'

Kizu nodded her head, barely able to hold in the screams of happiness which were threatening to escape.

'That will be everything. If there is anything else I will need from you, I will let you know.' Gaara stated, looking at all the emotions in Kizu's eyes.

'Yes, Kazekage-sama.' She said with a big smile plastered on her face and turned to leave, anxious to share the big news with someone. Anyone, just to get it off her chest.

'Namida.' She turned to look at Gaara whose impassive face had turned to a serious one. 'This is your only chance, so don't screw it up.'

She perceived the encouragement behind that poignant statement and bowed, keen on making him understand she will be the best Elder he will ever have. She opened the door, but stopped in the threshold and looked at Gaara, who was reading some papers, and thought she should thank him, but pondering a while about it, she understood Sabaku no Gaara wanted no appreciation from her part. Only results.

'Kazekage-sama…' He raised his aquamarine eyes to stare in her cerulean ones and Kizu smiled. 'I will definitely make you not regret this decision.' And she closed the door, leaving Gaara alone with his inner 'friend' who started to ramble excited about the changes about to happen at the office.

Gaara smirked as he reclined and bent his head back, looking at the ceiling, sinking his fingers in his hair again. 'Things got worse than I expected.'

'All the better for us.'

'True. I am tired of submissive people who obey me out of cowardice and not loyalty. Someone who has the courage of his own convictions like her will be a good change around here.'

'The interview was a success. I was sure she would give up when you clearly said she had no chance, but… Damn!'

'I knew she was different from the other employees, I just needed to see how much.'

'I doubted your plan would work, but I have to admit, kid, you're a genius. However, her defiance is going to bring you problems sooner or later.'

'You can't win something if you're not willing to take risks.'

'Do you think she realized this was a test?'

Gaara's smirk turned into an evil grin as he thought about it. 'I think that will be the last thing on her mind after she carefully looks through the papers.'

Outside the room, Kizu dashed to her office like a bat out of hell, her grin making her new colleagues drop their jaws in bewilderment.

'Did she just come out of there?' Someone asked, pointing towards the massive double door, hand shaking while doing so. 'Like that?' He continued, Kizu's joyful countenance embed forever in his mind.

'Something is terribly wrong with her.' Someone else concluded while the others nodded their heads in agreement.

'The poor child. He must have scared her so terribly, she has gone mad.' A middle-aged woman said and everyone made the sign of the cross, praying for the return of the unfortunate soul's sanity as they heard Kizu scream from her office.

Back in the safety of her newly-assigned office, Kizu let out the squalls of joy she had been forced to hold in Evil Gaara's Lair and she started jumping up and down, trying to get rid of the sudden burst of energy which overtook her. When she felt herself somehow back to normal, she humped on her desk and opened the envelope. She was delighted to find she truly could enter any of the rooms where the village's archives were preserved, but her grin was replaced by a pout as she couldn't understand something. The unfathomable reason for which Gaara, against his better judgement, had given her this chance plagued her clueless mind. Moreover, why did he have those papers ready for her if he deemed her unfit for the title as an Elder? She kept on thinking about that as she placed the envelope back on the desk and took the pile of papers only to discover that it was just an enormously long sheet of paper which, although Kizu was holding the upper side, the other one fell to the ground and occupied the entire floor. Kizu gulped, seeing the massive amount of paper and her eyes were instantly glued to the title: 'Tasks'.

In his own office, Gaara was up, leaning against the wall with folded arms and gazing out of the window. Now that he had someone to do the tough work for him, he could afford more breaks, much to Shukaku's happiness.

The other workers were doing their respective jobs, each of them busy with the task at hand, but they all stopped from their work when they heard another scream.


The prayers were started again, this time more intensely for the matter was getting worse by the minute, and in a certain room at the end of the hall, Gaara smirked, the echo of her cry having reached his office, too.

'So much for the surprise.' Shukaku sniggered at her impulsiveness while Gaara's smirk widened.

'Impatient, isn't she?'

Well, this was it. A very boring chapter, in my opinion, but I will make up for it in the next chapter where perv-master Kankuro makes his appearance. YAY! Me loves writing Sabaku family scenes. Also, if you haven't understood the bet between Gaara and Shukaku, it will be explained in the next chapter, too. But until then, HAPPY NEW YEAR, minna-san! :3 Spread the luv!