This is my first attempt at Fanficton. So I'm taking a bit of a creative difference, fictional liberty if you will. The story takes place in Suna two-three years after Gaara is rescued and revived by Naruto and Elder Chiyo. The characters have aged accordingly and the storyline has stopped there. That means no Sasuke, no Akatsuki, no dead ero-sennin and/or Asuma.
*Disclaimer: It's my mind, Masashi Kishimoto's characters.*
"That's as far as I go. That's as far as I go! Just wait until Tsunade hears about this! I can't believe I got stuck with a ninja that's afraid of SAND!"
Sakura fumed as she walked through the calm desert on her way to Suna. She tried hard to reign in her anger, knowing that the hot sun would only drain more of her energy if she started to punch her way to the village. She was only about one hour into the desert and by her count she had at least seven hours left before she could even see the Village of Sand. And she was on her own.
"AFRAID OF SAND!"
She grumbled to herself as she stalked along in the direction that she knew led to Suna. If this was her first time trying to find the city, she'd be toast. She was lucky that she paid attention to Kakashi and his directions. She didn't have the luxury of nin-dogs if she got lost. She only had her wits and her fists. And all of a sudden she lost her footing in soft sand. Her mind quickly calculated the threat. Quicksand. She had chakra in her gloved fists ready to blow the hole of sand away when she came to a halt almost horizontal over the massive pit. Her head rose to level a glare at her would be savior.
"What the hell Kankurou?"
Sakura was utterly defenseless as she hung in the air, suspended over the sand, and yet she looked like she could still rip your head off.
Kankurou laughed. "It's nice to see you too Sakura."
Sakura frowned, "I could of handled this you know."
Kankurou stopped laughing and placed her gently onto the desert floor next to the sand pit and unraveled the chakra strings from her ankles and wrists. "What would you have done, punched it to death?"
She narrowed her eyes at the smiling Kabuki coated face. "Yes."
Kankurou's smile quickly fell as he looked around. "Where's your escort?"
Sakura snorted as she walked past him, careful to watch the ever present sand for any more hidden secrets. "About a day and a half away from Konoha by now."
Kankurou stood there shocked for a few second before taking after Sakura. "What do you mean a day and half away?"
Finally Sakura's anger got the better of her. She threw her hands up in the air and let out an exasperated yell. "HE WAS AFRAID! OF SAND!"
A minute passed and her friend was quiet. She turned to stare at Kankuro, who had his hands firmly pressed over his mouth.
And then his silence broke. His hearty laughter spilt out across the desert. Sakura stormed off in the direction of Suna. And try as he might Kankurou couldn't stop his laughter.
"Sakura…wait. I can't… breathe."
She spared him a glance back but continued at her swift pace. Eventually Kankurou caught up to her albeit a little breathless.
"Sorry, but come on, a ninja afraid of sand. It's funny."
His painted face was smiling down at her and two thoughts crossed Sakura mind. He doesn't look so mean when he smiles and since when did he get taller? But instead of voicing her mind she gave Kankurou a smile.
"It is kind of funny isn't it?"
Kankurou's grin spread even wider. "Damn straight. But wait until Gaara hears about this, he'll tear your escort a new one."
Sakura sighed, "He'll have to wait until Tsunade-shishou is done with him."
Kankurou grimaced. He knew what Sakura could do with those fists, he could only image what the legendary sannin turned Hokage would do. He was interrupted by Sakura's question. He watched her as she held her hand over her eyes and followed the sun's steady path.
"We have about seven hours until we get to Suna right?"
He cocked an eyebrow.
"Somebody has to have the brains on team seven."
"I guess so." He grinned at her, happy that her temper seemed to get better over the years that he hadn't see her. "Let's get moving."
"Finally," Sakura let out a heavy sigh as she entered into the city.
Kankurou grinned, "Welcome back to Suna Sakura."
She gave him a smile as the sun set behind her, making her hair look more like a smaller version of the blooming desert sunset than a wad of pink gum. Kankurou blinked.
Out of the corner of his eye he caught Matsuri walking past the entrance guards. Sakura smiled at the petite girl strolling towards them, "Matsuri."
He watched as the girls shared a short hug.
"I'm here to take you to the Kazekage's office. He would like to meet with you before you retire for the evening."
Sakura nodded stepping out of the sun's setting colors and breaking the illusion that Kankurou had never meant to get caught in.
"What's that Kankurou?"
He turned his head away from the dying sunset and to Sakura. "It's nothing."
He looked back for one last glance, "Yeah, yeah. I'm coming."
"Sakura-chan, you are doing the land of wind a vast honor. We cannot thank the student of the Hokage enough for helping us in our time of need."
Kankurou could see the thin line between Sakura' eyebrows. It was a sign of her nerves being frayed. He had seen that same look many times before after team seven had saved the Kazekage from Akatsuki's grasp. She always gave him that look when he wouldn't listen to her. She would walk into Gaara's offices, gloves already on, and drag Kankurou back to the hospital. But he knew he deserved it.
He hadn't let Sasori's poison work its way out of his system completely. He had been the one to detain Sakura for one extra week because his over exertion caused his body to have numerous painful spasm in his arms and back. And Sakura insisted that if she was the one to start his treatment she'd be the one to end it. And now her left eye twitched and Kankurou braced himself for whatever hell she was about to unleash. Sakura surprised him though by letting out a soft sigh.
He immediately stopped and looked at her with a small smile. What she did next shocked everyone in the room. She walked around his desk and hugged him.
"It's good to see you too."
At first Gaara stood there, arms at his sides, before he wrapped them around the smaller ninja. He held her at arm's length for a short time before letting her go completely. She walked over to where she stood by Kankurou's side. He sent her a bewildered look and she just gave him a smile.
"So the reports I've taken a look at say that it's flu like but isn't responding to any medications."
Gaara nodding sitting behind his desk. "Our medics and civilians doctors think it might be a new strain of the virus but we haven't been able to find a cure yet."
She nodded. "I'll take a look as the patients first and get new blood smears and go from there. I'll keep you updated."
She turned to leave but Gaara stopped her, his sand wrapping delicately around her ankle. "Where are you going?'
She turned to him confused. "To work."
He chuckled a little. "I think not. You are to go straight to rest and start fresh tomorrow. The patients are in stable condition and you've probably used up half of your chakra on this trip."
She frowned and started to speak but Gaara cut her off. "That is an order Sakura."
She shut her mouth and nodded in defeat. "Who will be my escort while I'm here? I'd like to meet them tonight at least."
"Yo." Kankuro held two fingers in the air.
"I wanted your escort to be familiar with you. Since Temari is in your country preparing for the upcoming exams my brother was the other obvious choice."He sat down at his desk and started to fill in some files that Matsuri had given him. "He will be your guide as well as bodyguard."
Before Sakura could get over the shock and before she could yell at Gaara he held up his hand.
"I know that you are more than capable of taking care of yourself Sakura but I made a promise to keep you safe. I will feel more at ease as well."
She sighed at his calm face. She didn't think he'd ever forgive himself for nearly killing her 5 years ago. She would let him have this.
"Besides he insisted he do it."
Sakura looked shocked from one brother to another. Kankurou scratched the back of his neck sheepishly.
"I wanted to say thank you, for saving my life and all…. And beside all I have to do is follow you around all day. Easy peasy."
Sakura who was easily shocked that he wanted to thank her rolled her eyes at his last statement. He had changed, but his ego was still there, conceited as ever.
Gaara nodded, " You are dismissed."
Kankurou turned to leave and Sakura turned to follow.
She turned back to Gaara and pulled off her pack. She dug around in it while the brothers exchanged looks. Finally, she gave a cry of triumph.
"Ha. Found it."
She handed Gaara the letter written on Frog stationary. The Kazekage smiled.
"I promised I'd give it to you directly. He expects a letter back."
Gaara nodded tucking the letter carefully into his vest for safekeeping until he could read it later. Sakura smiled and turned on her heel, Kankurou followed her out not long after.