I can't really say where Gaara and I stand presently. Well, okay, so maybe I know the physical location, but you know what I mean! Uhg, my brain is practically reeling here. Our relationship used to be stable and (like I've said before) easy; but now we stand on new grounds, somewhere that makes me feel queasy and elevated at the same time. I shouldn't be here! Last time I checked, I was straight and infatuated with a different close friend. And yet…

"Naruto," Gaara's silky, level voice calls to snap me out of my thoughts. Ever since he took my hand a few hours ago, I've been a lot quieter. By the sound of his subtle tone, Gaara notices and is wondering why.

Baa-chan's meetings are over; it's late in the night, so Gaara and everyone else from Suna is allowed some free time to enjoy Konoha and the multiple things here that they don't have; like trees, and grass, and bodies of water…

Anyway, Tsunade-baachan left Gaara in my care, as well as his siblings'. We're with them out in Konoha's lantern-lit streets, the warm early autumn breeze just cool enough so keep us refreshed, sweeping across our faces and down any gaps in our clothing. It's relaxing… if you're anyone else. For me, however, it's stressing. Why? Oh, I dunno, maybe because it's known be the 'romantic' type of air? Like spring, only more so. And stuff like that gets me nervous. I can't help that I'm bad with love crap! Then again, who isn't, but that's beside the point.


"Hmm?" I reply weakly, realizing that I'd drifted off into my thoughts again, and Gaara had once more called my name. "Sorry, I was getting a little spacey for a minute there. What's up?"

Gaara looks deeply into my eyes, trying to read whatever it is I'm thinking but not saying. For some odd reason, I start feeling clammy under his gaze. I don't understand it; what could've happened to make such a change in Gaara's feelings towards me, and (although I don't want to admit it) the change in my feelings for him? It feels random to me, but maybe it isn't…

"You're unsure," the redhead states collectively, a nearly unnoticeable frown in his brows.

"About what?" I ask, playing dumb.

His voice falls low, and his expression turns softer as he turns away slightly. I don't understand this, because Gaara has by no means acted this way in the past. "About me," he says just above a whisper.

"Oh," I mouth, my face feeling warmer. I steal a glance at his siblings, whom seem too preoccupied with something else to notice this exchange between Gaara and me. I run a hand through my spiky hair and blow air out my mouth as the run-through turns into a scrub at my scalp. "Well, see… um…"

Out of the corner of my eye I catch Gaara glancing at his siblings like I had. "Let's evade them," he suggests. "We can't work this situation out in front of them. Especially not Temari." Raising his voice a bit so they can hear, he calls to his sister, "Onee-san, Naruto is going to show me something. You two may venture wherever you please."

I smile when he calls his sister 'onee-san', presuming that he hasn't called her something that fond since he was a child. It's nice to see that he gets along with them now, unlike when I first met him and he controlled his siblings with fear.

"Oh… alright," Temari says idly. She shrugs and grabs hold of Kankurou's arm. "Come on, there's obviously something going on," I catch her muttering with a smirk to the brunette. I wonder if Gaara heard that, too.

Whether he heard it or not, I catch a relieved expression on his face for a moment. With a comfortable smile in his eyes, he walks ahead of me towards the walking path through the lighter area of the woods. He expects me to follow, and with a sigh I do because I have no real choice in the matter. If I don't follow him, none of this crap will get settled.

As I jog to join the Kazekage, a tiny flood of tingling heat courses down my body as I remember what it felt like to have my hand over Gaara's drumming heart. I slowly pace to a short walk and gulp audibly. The haze of the street lights fade and the moon illuminates the trees, casting shadows. I see a couple stars above me twinkle, as if they're squinting to spy on Gaara and me.

Now I'm feeling extremely uncomfortable, and I stop completely, grass crunching under my sandals loud enough in the silence for Gaara to hear. He turns and looks at me, his hair seemingly a dark maroon in the moonlight while his white robes glow faintly blue. He waits for me to say something.

I stare down at the forest floor, dusty and grassy with random dying weeds and mossy rocks turning brown with the oncoming winter a couple short months away. (Man, don't I sound too poetic? I swear, the seriousness of the situation is making me go crazy inside, thinking about the small things like my surroundings when normally I couldn't care less! Or maybe it's the fact that I'm in Gaara's presence? That certainly could be part of it…)

Eyes still locked on the ground, I speak up: "So what's this all about? Why do we need to be isolated from everyone to talk?"

"You're not that dense, Naruto. You know why." He retorts immediately.

I wince, not wanting to admit why. It's kinda… awkward. "No, I am that dense. What's all this for?"

"Look at me," He says, his voice closer than before. Strange, I hadn't heard him move…

I cast my eyes upwards and meet his, which are a fraction below my eyelevel. Is he a little bit shorter than me?

"You're not dense. You can read people better than anyone, and I've hinted enough by that simple gesture earlier," he states matter-of-factly. "You're in denial."

How come he's the only one that can see that kind of stuff? I'm pretty sure no one else notices when I'm in denial about something; they all think I'm messing around or a complete idiot. To be honest, I like it that way; it's safe.

"So what if I am?" I return, my tone defiant but my lower lip trembling nervously. "It's not my fault that I can't wrap my mind around…" I drift off, my thoughts turning to mush.

"The thought around what, Naruto?" Gaara questions.

In the moonlight, his eyes look minty-grey instead of aqua. It's distracting.

"Will you not answer me?" he asks, his voice softer. He scowls lightly and turns about face. "I had a feeling you'd be difficult."

Now, you'd think when he said this he might sound angry, but I'm surprised; he sounds instead very remorseful, as if he's sorry that I'm being 'difficult' and wishes I wasn't.

My throat is dry, so I wet my lips and swallow as I touch his shoulder. He flinches, not used to being touched unless he imposes the action first. "I'm sorry, Gaara; I don't mean to be. I'm just… confused."

"What's there to be confused about?" he says, still refusing to look at me. Before, I couldn't look at him; but now, I can't seem to look away. He's the opposite. "Either you know what the emotion is and realize that you feel the same, or you don't."

I bite my bottom lip. "Well…" I say slowly as my hands slides off his shoulder, "I know what the emotion is…"

He peers over his shoulder, turning towards me half of the way. I gasp minutely, blinking as if I don't believe what I'm seeing. I thought his voice sounded thinner when he told me my choices, but I hadn't realized that he was crying. Not much, and there wasn't more than a single trail down one cheek, but his eyes were watery and darker, meaning if we were in the sunlight, they would be a bloodshot pink.

"Gaara…" I say in a hushed, breathy tone. My heart is melting in my chest, turning into a bloody pool in the pit of my stomach.

"What is the emotion? I think I know, but I don't fully understand…"

Seeing him on the brink of being in pain and utterly lost makes him seem vulnerable. Like rescuing him from the Akatsuki's clutches all over again, I feel the need to shelter him.

Not knowing what I was going to do, I followed my arms and feet towards him, my fingers clasping together and my skin growing warmer as I bring our bodies together. I don't know what this is supposed to mean, holding my friend and fellow Jinchuuriki (er, well, not any longer, but he used to be) so close to my heart – literally. I'm sure it's breaking down whatever walls the redhead holds within himself, and probably shattering our friendship.

"It's love, Gaara," I murmur in his ear, the blood red strands of his hair soft against my cheek. I'm burning all over, as if Kyuubi's chakra wis flowing through my flesh. But it's not; this is something else.

I hear a sharp intake of break come from him, and take it as a gasp. He tenses under my arms before steadily beginning to loosen. With essentially no distance between us, I feel his heart speed up and slow down, following the same patter of his muscles. "I thought so," he accepts after a moment.

I nod and pull away enough to see his face, my arms remaining on his shoulders. "When did it happen, do you think?" I wonder in a low voice that sounds small to me.

He doesn't hesitate. He focuses on my face as he tells me: "The second I saw you smiling at me after I returned from death; the feeling started then, and didn't stop." He waits for a reaction, but so far the only one I can make is an open-mouthed gape. He continues with his hand clutching his shirt, "It hurt to say goodbye to you. I didn't know when I'd see you again, and somehow that hurt me. But I knew I had to let go of your hand and let you go back to your people." He pauses, his eyes leaving mine as he removes my hands. My mouth is shut tight by now, a stream of words bubbling up but not coming out. "So when you sent a letter to me…"Gaara croaks, tears welling in his eyes again, although not spilling over, "…It's odd, but I've never felt happier."

Now I feel like crying! Who knew the two of us could be such saps? "G-Gaara…"

"What?" he snaps. He blinks away his tears and points at me, the only readable expression lying in his eyes as his voice goes dead. "Say something to me! I need to know right now where we stand, Naruto."

And, suddenly, I know: after what I'm about to tell him, we can never be friends again. Because even though I've been trying to decide the entire night exactly what he's demanding me to answer, I know how to answer. How did I figure it out now of all times, you ask? Well, if you saw the look in his eyes right now, you'd be just as decisive as I am. With an achingly slow-pumping heart, I confess: "I'm in love with you, too, Gaara."

He looks completely taken aback. The Kazekage sways for a millisecond on his feet. He takes a step backward, his mouth falling open part of the way as he blinks unsurely at me. He's awestruck and unable to speak, so his lips start to twitch. He's never heard anyone say that to him, and I'm sure he was prepared to live the rest of his life without hearing those words. Hell, I'm the same! But not anymore. Not now, when I know how he feels… even if he is another male and an unexplainably precious person to me, despite how we were when we met a few years back.

I smile weakly to hide how weird I feel. "Are you going to stand there all night, or are you going to believe in me?" I ask, my arms open as if waiting for an embrace.

He looks from my right hand, to my face, to my left, over and over again. Then, finally, he resumes his composed facial expression and lowers his eyelids. "I'm not sure. It seems…"

"Too good to be true?" I supply. He nods. I chuckle with no real sound and smile brighter, stronger, some of my teeth daring to show. "Well, for a shinobi, everything that isn't fatal seems that way. But now that I'm not in denial anymore, I know it's true. So if you can know that, too, then –"

Without warning, Gaara launches himself at me, and for a second I think he's going to attack me due to the dumb way I was trained. But when I feel his arms around my neck, I know he doesn't mean any harm. It's out of character for him to be flinging his arms around me, but I don't mind. In fact, the little gesture of affection is totally welcome; I don't know how, but it feels like we're supposed to be chest-to-chest.

I wrap my arms around his waist and smile into his shoulder. "See? Now that wasn't so hard."

"Naruto," Gaara breathes, and I like the tone he uses for my name. It's lacking the shock like when he came back to life, but it sounds similar.

I'm still smiling, relief and a golden sense of no longer being confused lifting me up. I turn to face the redhead dead-on. His skin is smooth and milky-pale in the moonlight, his scar deep, dark slashes somehow accenting his chin and mouth with it's contrast. I lean down, my eyelids closing automatically.

Gaara tenses under my hands, and at first he doesn't know what I'm going to do. His hands clench the sleeves of my jacket, but I hardly feel the little pinch he gives me. I quickly press my mouth to his, for fear that I'll lose my nerve. There's a muffled sound coming from Gaara, and then a humming noise of him accepting my kiss.

I don't know how to describe it… it's the weirdest and best feeling in the world, something I'm not used to but am absolutely enjoying to the fullest. In response, Gaara begins to messily mold his lips with mine, and it takes a few tries until we get it right. At this point, I feel his nails digging into my arms, and his shaggy hair is woven around my fingers. I pry open his mouth with my tongue and get a giddy feeling in my chest as if my heart is going to fly out of it like a bird. Gaara welcomes me inside, his tongue experimentally messing around with mine. We part for air, and I start giggling.

The redhead raises a brow muscle at my laughter. When the chuckles pass, I explain myself. "It's so natural; it kinda freaks me out."

"Is that a good thing?" he wants to know.

I nod with a wide grin plastered on my face. "Definitely."

And then I dive in for another kiss, which Gaara is prepared for this time around.

A/N: Y'all had to have your cliche kiss, didn't ya? The dorky letter thing wasn't enough, was it? Or the hand-holding? You all simply HAD to have the kiss? Jeez! I've written so many NaruGaa kisses and smut that I was hoping I didn't have to write it this time! But I did, and despite all the fuss I'm making about this, I actually love how it turned out. XD