A/N: Yes, it's another "ooh, they send each other letters~!1!!one" type of story. (even though I already wrote an e-mailing one). But I couldn't resist! I was mopping the floor (yeah, don't ask why I got the idea at that time) and was thinking about such a cute scenario, so I decided to write it out. It's terribly cliché, I know, but I couldn't resist. Problem is, I kinda-sorta stole an idea from someone else. And the idea is what when writing to Naruto, Gaara might cross out a few things because it's hard to write to someone he cares so much about.
Plus, I just love writing in Naruto's POV, and really missed doing it. ;D
EDIT: Due to popular demand, I have decided to make this a twoshot, and will post the next chapter within the next few days. Happy now, folks?
I think Sakura-chan has it in for me. I seriously believe she does; her and Tsunade-baachan. Both of them are constantly putting me through the stupidest situations. Tsunade-baachan sends me on wild goose chase kinds of missions and Sakura-chan tries to set me up on blind dates in our free time. And they both put me pain. Not all physical, either; some of it is really humiliating, which is it's own special kind of pain.
I sigh and let my head fall onto the wooden table outside by one of Sakura's most favorite restaurant. The pinkette looks down at me and smiles. "Aw, is something wrong, Naruto?" she says in a playful tone.
"Yeah, I'm bored off my ass and hating the fact that you keep dragging me into the dumbest stuff." I retort, my voice muffled by the cloth over my arms.
"Oh, come on, I don't do that," she defends. "I'm just trying to make you happy again. You've been so sour ever since that huge thing with the Akatsuki leader."
"Why shouldn't I be? A lot of things happened in that fight! Including…" I drift off, not wanting to remind myself of what happened to my old perverted mentor. I'm getting choked up already.
"Naruto…" Sakura says gently. She rubs the back of my hand. "Come with me. I think you need some R and R: rest and relaxation." She winks and pays for her meal before wrapping up what she didn't finish eating. She brings me up and pulls me off towards the hot springs.
I groan in protest but am forced to tag along nonetheless. I swear, Sakura is relentless! When she wants to do something, she won't stop until it's done. Why am I friends with her, again? Oh yeah, because I'm her teammate and I used to have a kiddy-crush on her.
While walking towards the hot springs, we come across Shikamaru and Temari. Shikamaru is still smoking, which bothers me, but none of us can get him to stop. Still, he's a lot better with Asuma-sensei's death, and I'd like to think it's thanks to Temari.
"Oi, Shikamaru! Temari-san!" I call out as I break from Sakura's grip and wave their way. The blonde and brunette glance up from whatever conversation they were having to wave in greeting.
"What's up, Naruto?" Temari asks once we meet.
"I'm dragging him to the hot springs to cheer him up," Sakura elaborates. "He's pretty reluctant, though," she added with a laugh.
Temari rolls her eyes. "Trust me, you don't know a reluctant man until you've worked with Shika over here," she says with a thumb pointing in his direction while he frowns at her, "Or have lived with Gaara." She shakes her head. "Especially if you've lived with Gaara. You want to see reluctant? Be with him when he's a cranky preteen and try to get him to just have one dinner together." Temari chuckles dryly. "That's reluctance times ten plus hell."
Shikamaru puts his hands in his pockets. "Yeah, when I was in Suna last week," he says around a drag of his cigarette, "He was only reluctance times three without the hell." The smoke leaks out as he speaks, and I try not to gag over the smell. "Big change, huh?"
Sakura agrees with a nod. "Gaara-sama has changed a lot over the years." She cocks her head. "I wonder how he's doing these days?"
Temari sighed and shrugs. "He's my baby brother, but I don't even know. He's so busy lately."
My attention is caught now. "You know, I sort of miss the guy. I wonder what he's up to… by the sound of it, he has as much to do as Tsunade-baachan, except he doesn't get drunk or takes a nap during the job."
Temari grins. "Yes, he's a very hard worker. Part of his recent reluctance is to stop working. I think he's still trying to prove himself to our village."
That sounds extremely familiar… a little too familiar. I look at the ground. "I respect that about him. He's a good 'Kage; a good leader, dattebayo."
Suddenly, Sakura gets this look in her eyes and she smiles really wide. "You know… if you miss him and are curious about what's going on, maybe you should send him a letter, Naruto."
Temari looks between Sakura and me. "That's a great idea! My brother never gets personal mail, so I bet it would brighten his day." She stands really close to me and pokes my chest on every other word. "So you better send him one, Uzumaki."
"Um, y-yes ma'am." I say, not wanting to disappoint someone like Temari. She's pretty crazy with that fan of hers, and I don't want to be at the other end of such a thing.
She smirks. "Good. Glad we understand each other." She turns to Shikamaru. "Come on, lazyass, we have things to do." Then she paces down the street in the direction that Sakura and I came from.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm coming, O Wench of the Sand," he says as he follows her. "See you around, Sakura and Naruto."
I wave goodbye after them, but am torn away from it when Sakura grabs me by the arm and takes me down a new path. "Oi, let me go! What happened to going to the hot springs?"
"We're not going to the hot springs; I'm giving you a little homework."
"Homework? But we're not in the academy anymore!" I object.
"No, but we're going to your home and you have some work to do!"
"Like what? My house is clean for once, I promise!"
She growls exasperatedly, and releases me while she stares me down. "Look, Naruto, Temari is counting on you to send her lonely brother a letter that I know you actually want to write, so we're not going to leave your house until we're ready to send it."
I groan in more protest, much heavier than when she was dragging me to the hot springs for 'R and R'. "But Sakura-chan…" I whine, "Letters are stupid!"
"No buts, Naruto! You're going to write one. Believe me," she adds much less bossily, "You won't regret it."
So I let her take me to my apartment, and she opens the door with her copy of my house key. We're such close friends, that I decided to trust her with it. Besides, you never know when an emergency might occur, right?
She sits me down at my kitchen table and hands me paper and a calligraphy pen. "I can help you if you don't know what to say," she offers.
I scrunch my face up. "I really don't know what to say," I admit. I look at the blank sheet of paper. Absolutely nothing comes to mind.
The pinkette giggles. "Kami, Naruto, you're so predictable." She shakes her head and looks into my eyes. "Start with, 'dear Gaara'."
"That sounds so girly." I grumble.
Sakura rolls her sea glass green eyes and leans back in her chair. "Fine, then just write, 'Gaara' at the top. It's a lot less formal and a bit short, but if it sounds 'manlier' to you, then by all means write it that way."
I chuckle. "Okay, if you say so." I start the letter with his name, the pen scribbling out black characters in my messy handwriting. "I should probably ask him a few things, huh? Like how he's doing, if he's busy, or if he's visiting soon. Right?"
"That's right," Sakura says with an encouraging grin. "And tell him that you miss him. That's always a nice thing to hear."
"Alright." I write out those things, but the letter sounds lame. "Maybe I should tell him about all the intense stuff that happened recently?"
"Yes, that's perfect! And tell him how you feel about it, and ask him if he's had any troubles." She lists off, her aura energetic. It's so energetic that I bet I could electrocute myself with her energy.
I sigh and keep writing. In the end, my letter sounds so dumb I'm tempted to throw it out the window.
"Let me read it, please, Naruto? I bet it's not as horrible as you think!" Sakura says with that pouting expression on her face. The same one I used to use when I wanted something (usually a higher-ranking mission) from Tsunade-baachan.
"Uhg, fine. Read it. But it's not very good," I say as I hand it over.
"I'll say! You're handwriting is atrocious," she giggles. She nudges me, and I'm ashamed to say that it hurt pretty damn bad; the girl doesn't know her own strength sometimes. "But… let's see how bad the rest of it is," she teases.
She clears her throat, and I know that means she's going to read it aloud. Great, just great! The last thing I need is for my neighbors (if they're home) to hear this dumbass letter I wrote to my red-haired friend in another village.
"How have you been doing lately? Your sister says that you've been real busy with Kazekage stuff. I wonder sometimes if I can do all the stuff you and Tsunade-baachan do as leaders when I become Hokage."
Sakura pauses to look at me with an expression that says, 'you're still not letting go of that dream, are you?'
Then she continues: "Speaking of the old hag, are you coming to Konoha soon for a meeting with her? It'd be nice to see you again. That way, we could catch up on things or something. I don't about you, but lately things here have been crazy. People my friends and I care about have passed away, and, well… there's been some fights with severe injuries, but nothing I can't handle. With the exception of losing Jiraiya… you've heard of him, right? He was pretty close to me. Like a father figure, I guess you could say. I won't get mushy on you about it, but you can probably see what I mean by 'crazy'. I'm nowhere near as busy as you are, but it's been hectic. I've had to run around doing all kinds of tiny missions for Tsunade-baachan, and let me tell you, it's pretty annoying. But I think she's trying to keep my mind off of things, so I don't mind it. Have you had anything like that happen to you? Like your siblings bugging you to try and cheer you up? Sakura's been doing that. She's a great friend, but sometimes I just want to handle things on my own; especially if it's my feelings…" Sakura stops reading for a second, the amused expression on her face gone. It's replaced by something much more tender, her lips relaxed from their smile. "Naruto, I had no idea –" she starts, but I cut her off.
"It's okay, 'ttebayo. Just finish reading the damn thing."
She nods and opens her mouth to speak again. "Still, I can't complain. You probably understand what I'm going through more than anyone else, because somehow, that's simply how you and I are. I got to say, I really appreciate that. It's comforting to know there's someone out there, a friend of mine, who knows that about me. You were probably the first person to see passed my smiling mask and into my inner self. That's real talent right there. I guess you can do that with people, Gaara: you can analyze them real well." Sakura laughs while she reads. "You're right about that," she comments. She finishes up with the last bit I have written: "Anyway, I just thought I'd send you something to see how you're doing and to tell you that I was thinking of you.
"Until next time,
I flush a little and scratch the back of my head. "That last part sounds super girly, doesn't it?"
Sakura smiles softly. "No, not at all. It sounds… friendly. Which is good, Naruto." She stands up. "Now then, we should send this right away."
"Yeah, okay, 'ttebayo," I murmur. I follow her out the door and into the street. The messenger bird station isn't too far away, so it doesn't take long to arrive. We attach the letter to the one that sends mail to the Kazekage mansion in Suna.
As Sakura-chan and I watch the bird fly off above the trees of the forest, she places her hand on my shoulder. "Now all we have to do is wait and see if he replies."
I cross my arms over my chest. "I doubt it. Gaara doesn't seem the type. I just hope he gets the letter and reads it."
The pinkette makes a face. "Hmm, yeah, that might be a problem."
"Thanks for confirming my doubts," I huff sarcastically.
She hits me lightly in the arm. "Don't be so negative, Naruto. You've been that way too much lately. How about I buy you some ramen?"
The word 'ramen' is like a trigger switch with me. I immediately grinned brightly, my positive demeanor back. "Would you really?"
"Of 'course. I hate seeing you like that," she confesses.
I hug her briefly. "Thanks, Sakura-chan!"
* * *
A couple weeks went by. At one point, I completely forgot about my letter to Gaara since it was a random occurrence and so small to me. I was curious about him, sure, but I knew he wouldn't respond. I sent the letter because Sakura-chan and Temari-san made me. Without them, I might have written something like it, but I would have never actually put it on a bird and sent it off. I suppose that goes to show how shy I can be.
But one day, when I was out in the woods sparring with Bushy Brows, Sakura came running towards us. Without a second's delay, Lee stops fighting me and starts shouting her name, his bandaged hands stirring the air in greeting.
"Hi, Lee!" She says in a chipper tone. She sends him a peace sign before coming up to me with a piece of paper in her hands. "Guess what you got?"
"A restraining order from Tsunade-baachan because I'm bothering her too much about missions?" I ask with a grin on my face.
"No," she coos, "Something much better. You got a letter!"
"Really? From who?"
"What do you mean, 'who'? From Gaara, you baka! He replied!" The pinkette bubbles as she waves the paper around. "Some on, let's go read it!"
"Oh, uh, okay," I say, suddenly nervous. I turn to Lee. "We'll finish this later, Bushy Brows. Bye!"
"Goodbye, Naruto-kun! I look forward to our re-match!" He says with a thumbs-up and a shining grin, as per usual.
I give him a quick wave as I run to catch up with Sakura. When I do, she's stopped under a tree away from everyone. She sits in the grass and pats the ground beside her, motion for me to join her. I fall to the ground and take the letter that she offers. "Read it to me," she demands.
"Sure," I nod.
I don't mind, honest. I don't think Gaara would write to me saying anything Sakura-chan can't hear. I clear my throat and open the letter, my lips parting and taking in air before I begin to read.
"Thank you for sending me a letter; I didn't expect such a thing from you, and it was a pleasant surprise to come into my office to find one morning. I've been sleeping more and more lately, something new for me since the removal of Shukaku. I've also been having dreams, which are strange to me, because they seem so illogical… and…" I squint down at the page. "I can't read this, Sakura-chan. He crossed it out. All I can read is the word 'and'."
"Let me see that," she says. She grabs the paper and looks it over. "Well, he has beautiful handwriting," she remarks, "But I can't read it, either."
After shrugging and handing the letter back to me, I decide to keep reading. "Events in Suna have been minimal compared to what my sister has told me about events in Konoha. According to her, more than merely 'fights with severe injuries' happened; she says you had an entire attack from the Akatsuki, and that certain people like your former mentor, Jiraiya-sama, battled with Pein the Akatsuki leader. She said that you fought as well, and that no one wants to repeat how that went, which sparks my curiosity. Perhaps when I visit, we can 'catch up', and you can relay those events in greater detail for me.
"I have no doubt that you could do just a good a job as your leader does or I do when you become Hokage, which I think is a feat you're destined to take on. As far as prying siblings go: yes, they are attempting to do similar things that your friend Sakura-san is attempting. Only my siblings are also trying to pull me away from my work, which I won't stand for eighty percent of the time. They also try to talk to me about 'my feelings', and it makes me rather uncomfortable. You probably know why. Unlike you, I…" I frown. Again, a bunch of stuff is crossed out, and I can determine are the words 'unlike you, I'.
"Is there more crossed-out words?" Sakura asks me.
"Well, keep going, then."
I shrug and continue. "You're correct about one thing, though: I do analyze people. And what I see in you, is…" I tilt my head. "Wow, this part is really blacked out. You'd think Gaara would just take out another piece of paper and re-write this since he keeps messing up so much."
"Oh my Kami, Naruto, are you so dense?! Don't you get what's happening? Man, I should've figured it out from the first scribbled-out part!"
"Figured out what, Sakura-chan?" I demand to know.
"Think about it, Naruto: why would Gaara struggle with what to say to you, and why would he cross out so many personal things directed towards you?" Sakura inquires with mirth in her eyes.
I shrug. "I don't know, maybe because he doesn't communicate with people often? And I bet he's never written a non-business letter in the past."
"Hmm, true, but what else, Naruto? Think like a girl for ten seconds."
"Just do it!" she yells.
"Okay, okay, sheesh…" I grumble. "Um, let's see: struggling to find the right words, leaving out what needs to be said… In a girl's mind, I guess he'd be acting like – Oh." My eyes grow wide and my lips clamp shut. I swallow hard, but my throat feels dry.
Sakura-chan is smirking, her eyes wild. "You see now, don't you?"
I feel my face heat up. I point a finger at her. "Oh no, no way! That can't be right! That's… I mean…" I lose my steam quickly. "You're just over thinking it."
"Am I?" Sakura smiles. She taps my arm to sort of push me, as if I were being silly and needed to stop. "You know a girl is never wrong. Besides, it makes a lot of sense, when you think about it…"
"No!" I repeat. "I refuse to believe that Gaara might be… b-be… um…" I sputter, my tongue dying in my mouth.
"Fine, don't believe me. But tell me, what did he sign the letter with?"
"Something crossed out, and then his name and job title," I sigh.
"Something crossed out, huh?" the pink-haired girl grins. "I rest my case."
"I hate this."
"Because it's so wrong," I murmur.
"Why? Because another guy has a crush on you?"
"Then why, Naruto?"
"Because it's not as wrong as it should be. And that's wrong." I reply in a small voice.
Sakura simply laughs. "Teenaged boys," she says dismissively and with a roll of her eyes. "You can't get them together, or tear them apart."
"I said it once and I'll say it again: letter are stupid."
"Perhaps," Sakura agrees, "Or perhaps you're stupid for not realizing this sooner." She smiles. "You know, I heard that he'll be coming to Konoha next month. maybe you should confront him about this."
"And then what? Let him kill me?"
"Nah," she tells me as she walks away, "Just let him kiss you."
My face heats up again and I get defensive. I start shouting all sorts of things at my best friend, and the entire time she's laughing her ass off.