by kathlaida-princess

Summary: Desert people never really learn to swim. People who have a hard time learning, have a harder time teaching. Still, love always finds a cute, original way to help in these situations… GaaNaru Fluff

Disclaimer: Unfortunately, I own nothing of Naruto or Gaara. They belong to Masashi Kishimoto.

Author's Notes: Hello dear readers! This is one of the Naruto-related oneshots I have in my head and will eventually type as time goes on. This one is the realization of an idea that popped into my mind while I was sitting on a bench by the swimming pool during class (I couldn't go because I was feverish) and I hope it is not too cliché. With some of the other oneshots I'll be writing, these ideas have some sort of a logical connection between them, so they're like a series of events.

Well, hope you enjoy!

After both of them resigned their posts as Kages and left their villages in the good hands of the special people that knew of their relationship, Naruto and Gaara moved to a different continent, far ahead of their reputations, and built a humble house in a place where mountain and lake, river and forest, beach and ocean collided, where they could finally live in full harmony with their feelings.

It took them years to explore their surroundings. In fact, even today many places remain unfound, many adventures remain unlived and many romance-triggers remain intact, even when returning to places previously visited. But one of the destinations the two ex-demon hosts first visited was the lake, to where the lazy river's streaming tears flowed, where the sleepy trees gathered and the forest converged.

On that day, the two young men were walking hand in hand through the forested area, their clothing as scarce as imposed by their condition of passionate lovers, and the late afternoon sun painted Gaara's hair with fire and Naruto's with golden stardust. It was midsummer and the warm breeze caressed the small droplets of sweat away from their foreheads, and a small, rather mischievous smirk into their lips.

They could hear the languid weeping of the river nearby and Naruto, imperceptibly brushing his thumb over Gaara's ever-white hand, stated convincingly, "We're almost there, 'ttebayo!"

The redhead, who had more than a dozen reasons to doubt of his partner's sense of direction (even though the blond had found the existence of the lake through an extremely reliable map), decided to trust him that time and merely nodded, allowing the other to drag him forward. In the worst case scenario, they would get lost in the woods and would have to spend the night there… which, from previous experience, he knew wouldn't be at all unpleasant.

Still, after a few more minutes of trekking, the two did barge into a small clearing in the trees, a gap that gave haven to the peaceful, virginal lake, and the toad sage's sunflower-colored eyes glistened in accomplishment.

"I told you we'd make it, 'ttebayo," his voice giggled.

"I know. I never said otherwise," Gaara as-a-matter-of-factly stated. But the excited spark in the corner of his jade eyes and the suggestion of a smile surrendered his stoicism to the other. He was always happy to find new places, just because of the unknown and romantic potential they could bear, the unforgettable stories that could be written there.

Naruto flashed his cheeky grin and led his lover forward one more time, until their toes could shiver at the water's eager touch. Then, the paler, more slender man watched the more tanned, more rugged one take off a shirt and a pair of shorts that somehow survived the redhead's previous love-attacks, leaving him with just the necklace offered by the Fifth Hokage, another quite peculiar pair of baggy shorts Gaara had never seen before and a lot of warm, sweet skin exposed.

The ex-Kazekage smirked lovingly at the stunning, endearing sight before him and followed his lead, swiftly removing his own superfluous clothing (which wasn't much, since his lover was much more unforgiving) until he was left with just a pair of boxers hugging his firm hips and thighs closely, pearly skin becoming golden under the lowering sun. He inwardly yelled in joy when Naruto approvingly chuckled at him, preparing to receive his lips with his own as the blond bluntly leant towards him. Gaara loved that transparency of his, the obvious intention of his actions. Because what else could the toad sage want to do by the lake, such a romantic spot, but to kiss, touch, cuddle and just find bliss together till their hearts' contempt?

But, unfortunately for the ex-Sand ninja's theories, the other man did not tease his lips in any way. Instead, he did the most unexpected thing: the blond's arms were suddenly thrown around his straight, thin waist and, lifting him off his feet, he ran forward and lounged them both into the watery mass, before the redhead could even react.

Gaara's entire system completely broke down with that. Feeling himself surrounded by unknown matter, sinking deeper with only Naruto's arms pulling him further down, the small but growing beacon of panic flashed in his gut and he reacted intensively to it. The horror made him engulf frightening amounts of water into his lungs in a desperate attempt to breathe, heightening his worries, and his entire body began squirming involuntarily. Among all that, he felt completely stupid. He should have known they would have to swim.

Of course Naruto didn't know the man he loved couldn't swim. He just wanted to give them a new environment in which they could explore each other through touch and passion. But, fortunately for the redhead, the blond almost instantly realized the alarming change in the other's chakra (after all, ever since a few years before, they practically shared the same chakra) and, with his heart suddenly heavy with preoccupation, was quick to relieve him from his pain, frantically moving his legs back and forth to bring them both back to the surface.

The two young men broke out of the water in a vertical shower of droplets and severe coughing from Gaara's part, and it was the ex-Leaf ninja the one to hold him in his arms, taking him to dry land, his steps cut out by the other's painful attempts to regurgitate all the liquid inside him. Naruto helped his lover the best he could, patting timely on his frail back while giving him the space he needed to recover, but he kept trembling at the thought that the other could have drowned, at seeing that look of panic upon the face he thought so beautiful. How could he be so careless?

After a few minutes, after the blond was reassured by the sound, sooth breathing coming from the redhead's chest, he tentatively lifted both his hands to hold onto Gaara's face tenderly, the green glint of fright in his eyes still carving sharp knives into his heart.

"I-I'm sorry, Gaara… I… I didn't know…"

"Don't worry, Naruto…" he immediately cut in, his voice still stoic and controlled. But he had averted his eyes from the blond's and was now moving back to set free from his grip. "It's all my fault. It was obvious what you wanted to do and I should have told you about it before. Just… thank you from taking me out of there…"

With this, he crawled further away from the sun-adorned man, away from the lake that could have taken his life, and he remained seated, his arms wrapped around his lifted knees.

What was that empty feeling, that hole inside him? What was that discomfort that seemed to bother him beyond the cold wetness, the still aching chest, the trembling muscles?

No, he knew exactly what that feeling was, he had felt it for so long in a time now so long forgotten… But why was it returning now?

He knew the answer to that question as well. For some time now, all that mattered was to be accepted by Naruto and just Naruto alone. And to know from his own delicious lips that Gaara didn't need to do anything for that to happen, or to be unconditionally loved by him, had been the redhead's greatest joy. But now he feared that it was not true… Because Gaara was aware of how much Naruto loved swimming, and how could Naruto want him now that he knew of his inability to accompany him in that activity he was so fond of? And what if there were more things, more important things separating them? How could their connection survive?

It was scary how loneliness could still get to him there and then, in his and Naruto's own private world, when he had already found and gave a kind of love that he was sure to be forever.

But Naruto wasn't following that line of thought at all. The blond had allowed the other to move away from him because it was understandable that he needed some space, but once he noticed the position he brought himself to, another surge of heartache struck him. He too knew the feeling that provoked it all too well, and he was definitively not going to let it steal his most special person away from him. He could almost see how Gaara's fiery head was working, his thoughts clear on his saddened mind, and he knew he had to stop them, or at least reverse them, somehow.

He too dragged his wet body across the sappy ground to approach the back of the moon-sculpted man and, noticing he hadn't moved at all and knowing that anything smart he could try to say would just backfire, he merely enclosed his trembling arms around his torso, his chin sinking on the fire of Gaara's head.

The redhead didn't notice the other's approach and he even startled at the loving touch. But he eventually and unavoidably lost the battle against his own temptation as he realized that gesture contradicted his fears, and leant against the warm body behind him, the sensation of being embraced that closely by that special person drowning out all the previous loneliness in a pinch. The darker skin sliding across his ivory one moved kindly, reassuringly and slowly, every nerve and fiber charged with the same love that had trapped Gaara in Naruto's heart and vice-versa. Gaara was always surprised at how Naruto had no special ability with the spoken word whatsoever but was always able to leave him breathless with his body language. But it was something he didn't mind. Not at all.

As soon as he heard the sand ninja breathe out in pleasure once and felt a pair of lean arms surrounding his waist, the blond chuckled in relief. He had succeeded in bringing him back from the anguish. But he still had some work to do.

"'Tis okay, 'ttebayo…" he warmly whispered into the pale base of the other's neck. "It won't happen again, I promise. And I always keep my promises."

The body in front of him shifted and turned around, allowing them both to embrace properly, chest-to-chest. Naruto was always moved when Gaara did these things, when he was the one to reach out for him. He was sure that no one would ever make him feel quite like that.

The blond kept his face close to the redhead's neck, which began vibrating calmly when he spoke, "But… but I still won't be able to swim with you, share this with you… And I really wanted to." His voice remained controlled and neutral, but this time he directed his jade eyes to Naruto's saffron ones, as if looking for an answer to his problem.

The whiskered man tried to give him that answer. "I will teach you, dattebayo." The flashing grin returned. "Not today, because I still have to learn how to teach you myself if you know what I mean, but I'll do it. Though…" the blond felt he needed to add that, "even if you don't learn to swim, nothing will change us. It's also great to have someone to return to from the water, to have these arms," he rubbed Gaara's arms gently, "dry and warm waiting for me after I finish…"

And the answer was correct. Gaara even chuckled lowly once at it, expelling all discomfort and sad questions from before with it.

"You know, Naruto, sometimes you do have a way with words. Thank you," he stated, stroking the whisker-like marks of his lover with his fingers.

"Don't say that, you're making me blush, 'ttebayo…" the blond chimed, moving closer to the other's touch.

"But that doesn't change the fact that I have ruined your plans for today," Gaara nonchalantly pointed out, proceeding to the other man's golden hair.

However, that fact only seemed to motivate Naruto even more.

"Nope," his nose rubbed against a paler one. "I have just the thing for us. What do you say about a piggyback-swim, 'ttebayo?"

Gaara stopped momentarily.

"A piggyback-swim?" he curiously asked.

With this, the blond reluctantly dropped the embrace around the redhead and turned his back to him.

"You hold onto my back and I swim for the both of us. It's easy," he explained.

And Gaara understood what the other said. But he wasn't very convinced about it. After all, the water was deep and vicious. It must be really difficult for Naruto to manage to swim in it on his own, let alone with an extra burden.

The ex-Kazekage folded his arms over his chest before asking again, "Are you sure?"

The toad sage merely rolled his eyes and said with a pleading voice, "Come on, Gaara, 'ttebayo! I have carried a running freak during the last part of a freaky race, a stuck-up actress who turned out to be a princess while running faster than a train and I even carried a priestess through an entire country to save the whole world, all on my back, and it didn't cost me a thing! Why wouldn't I be sure about carrying my most loved person for a small swim, dattebayo? Come on, Gaara, we can do this!"

And that, along with the clear eyes sending arrows with an effect quite similar to Cupid's at him, was more than enough to make the redhead compel. He should have known it by then. There was no way he could say no to the blond.

So, Gaara elegantly approached Naruto and, keeping a safe grip around his neck with his arms and locking his lower back with his legs in a way he was very used to, he held onto him, ready to "piggyback-swim".

Naruto's smile glowed again at yet another victory and he stood, not disgruntled at all with the extra weight. After making sure that his new "Gaara backpack" was perfectly adjusted, the whiskered man stepped into the water one more time, stopping only when the surface of the liquid reached his chin. Then, he spoke to the other man, "Now, I just want you to hold your breath until we return. We already know what happens if we don't do it... Oh, and keep your eyes open. This will be great!"

The redhead memorized all his instructions and made sure to obey them, at the risk of his own life. He was still somewhat afraid that something bad could happen to the man he loved, but statistics told him that the blond was quite reliable, and what could he do against that? He nodded in contact with the fluffy hair beneath him and he filled his lungs with as much air as he could keep inside.

Right after that, Naruto did the exact same and they finally embarked on their first adventure across the lake.

And it was... stunning.

At first, the horror from before prevented Gaara from enjoying the trip properly, but, after a reassuring squeeze by his carrier, he suddenly opened his eyes and realized he didn't want to close them ever again.

The virginal water around him suddenly lost its scary side and appeared gorgeous to the redhead, particle after particle capturing each of the many beams of light from above and spreading them, sending them into every direction to allow the entire lake to rejoice with their beauty. And as an addition, this light frequently landed on his lover's hair, giving it a new shade of golden that sat all too perfectly on the sand ninja's eyes. As Naruto sped up his pace, the liquid seemed to hug and cradle Gaara in the kindest of ways, like the embrace of a mother he had never experienced.

Occasionally, entire family groups of fish of all colors, shapes and sizes would speed up past them, making Naruto point and giggle, something that reached the redhead's heart quite easily every time. Something similarly endearing happened whenever an exquisitely-shaped seaweed swayed lazily close to them or a bigger kind of animal protested at these humans' invasion and the blond complained back, a long stream of big angry bubble-spoken "dattebayo"s erupting from his big mouth. Gaara recorded carefully all those moments into his mind, making sure to remember not just the plot of the small scenes and the many participants but, most importantly, the feeling of safety and haven that came from the tanned body moving beneath him. Yes, all that was because of him.

Eventually (and the ex-Kazekage was rather surprised that it had not been sooner), the two men's breath ran out and they had to resurface, this time in a less clumsy manner. And, when it happened, Gaara could not hide a genuine and wide smile away from the sunny face beneath him.

"See, I told you it would be great!" Naruto laughed.

"I know," Gaara replied. "I just wasn't aware that it would be THIS great. This place is... breathtaking. I am really thankful you're doing this with me."

These confessions made the blond want to reply in a way that was not intended to be performed through words, so, swiftly turning to face the other man, he intended to kiss him. But... he did not do it just yet. He remembered he was in a whole new place for the both of them, and it was logical even for him that they had to make the most of their first time there. So, cupping the redhead's face with both his hands, Naruto requested, "Gaara, do you think you can hold your breath one more time? There's something I'd like to try..."

Curious Gaara, who never moved from the position he used to hold onto the other, nodded and filled his lungs with the so much needed air right before his lover pulled him down once again, but this time not moving forward in the least.

Naruto, still holding the redhead's face tenderly, waited just one second to allow them to sink deep enough and then promptly leant forward, instantly connecting lips with the paler man. The other first reacted with a small eruption of surprised bubbles, but his intense reply was immediate and soon they were moving their mouths together in a familiar, sweet, unforgiving rhythm, the luminous water around them rather adding passion than cooling it down. It was much better than the blond had first expected.

And, it was in the midst of their lovely ritual that the toad sage had a strange idea. And, after some thinking, he realized that it was just crazy enough to work. And, if all went according to plan, he would accomplish his promise sooner than expected…

He was quick to give it a start. His hands left the face still playing with his and reached out to grab Gaara's. The other did not seem to notice the movement at all. Then, Naruto managed to loosen the grip the redhead had on him just to break it completely and finally, after reluctantly abandoning his lips, he swam away, just a few centimeters away, and beckoned to an extremely confused and wide-eyed Gaara to come and join him, so that they could resume their previous activities.

For a moment, the ex-Kazekage forgot all the discomfort and panic he had previously felt inside water and just moved forward. Awkwardly, of course, wiggling his limbs uncoordinatedly in the process, but he had moved, and he was now holding onto the blond once again, recapturing his lips. Naruto smiled inwardly at that. His plan was working just fine and Gaara was oblivious to all that.

The ex-Leaf ninja repeated the process several times: suddenly breaking apart from the redhead, swimming away from him, distance increasing each time he did it and then beckoning at him, motivating him to rejoin him in their fiery kiss.

With each passing time Gaara added some quality to his movements, with each passing time he applied more vigor and passion into the fireworks of their lips. On the last time, Naruto made sure to interrupt the kiss in the best part and moved five meters away from his lover. The redhead then swam better than ever, his movements fast, strong and timely and, when he reached his destination and pale skin met darker one, all the adrenaline pumping across his veins was put into his mouth.

Only then did Gaara get the chance to lean his head to the side, allowing him a wider space of maneuver, only then did he get the chance to sink his thin fingers into the blond's unruly hair, preventing him from escaping again.

Only then did Naruto get the chance to press both hands against the base of the redhead's back, fusing their bodies together completely, only then did he get the chance to invade the other's open mouth passionately, tongues touching and sliding, exploring and dancing, wrestling and moaning, separating and then meeting once more.

They gradually forgot where they were and the reasons that led them there, the circular seal upon Naruto's navel began burning brightly even if it wasn't sealing anything any longer, breathing wasn't a top priority anymore.

Their top priority was now to move closer, to touch further, to sink deeper, to drown out all reason. As long as that happened, there was no need for air.

However, eventually the two ensnarled bodies began floating up, imperceptibly to their owners, and when their heads broke through the water's barrier, their lungs' demands finally became too strong to ignore.

Both sadly broke the kiss and took a deep breath of the renewed air, but didn't dare to move away from each other, afraid to make that feeling go away. Rushed pants left their lips in torrents, eyes were clouded over with lust, but the effort that had provoked it printed an unmistakably blissful grin into the two men.

The toad sage chuckled and then commented, now drawing circles with his fingers upon the other's bottom, "THAT was not exactly what I was thinking, dattebayo… But it sure was an improvement."

"I agree…" Gaara added, leaving a trail of small kisses upon Naruto's nose line.

Only afterwards did the blond remember what the purpose of their little "adventure" had been.

"And now you know how to swim," he neutrally informed.

Confusion changed the other's expression.

"I do? How come?"

But his memories replied his own question. He DID swim before, each time he needed to return to his lover. He had been so focused on the returning part that he wouldn't even notice the swimming part if Naruto hadn't talked about it.

Just to make sure, the redhead let go of the whiskered man and began paddling around. It was true. His movements were still far from perfection, but they were working: he was actually swimming.

"Wow… You're right…" Gaara stated in realization, his smile widening.

That gave a new light to Naruto's grin as well.

"I know, 'ttebayo. Like I said, I keep all my promises."

And the last part of the blond's plan hit the redhead.

"Oh, so all of that was part of your lessons? I thought you weren't going to teach me today…"

"Yup. What can I say, the opportunity presented itself…" Now was Naruto's turn to swim towards the other man, returning to their loving holding position. "Are you happy?" he asked, massaging the love-shaped scar on the redhead's forehead.

"I really am. Now we can do this together. And I can't really explain how much that means to me. Thank you, Naruto. You still are the most unpredictable shinobi of all…" Gaara said, still smiling.

But the other's grin gained a more mischievous edge.

"Does that mean I get a prize for this?" he asked.

The ex-Kazekage chuckled, looked up to see that the last traces of sunlight were already vanishing from the clear sky and then replied, "Well, first let's get you home and dry you all up, and then we can discuss the matters of prize…"

Naruto giggled. "I like that plan."

So, after having one last underwater lip-fest-with-fireworks to linger in their memories, the two ex-demon hosts swam out of the lake and held onto each other forcefully, for the cold air of the night made their wet skin shiver and only each other's touch had enough warmth to contradict that.

The two men walked home while embracing, in a faster pace than the one in which they arrived.

In middle of the trip, Naruto came up with another brilliant idea…

"N-next time, we just need to remember to bring a blanket and we can d-do the whole thing here…"

As Gaara tremblingly laughed in reply, the forest began its preparations for a soothing night of sleep and the lake moved further away, awaiting said next time. Somewhere ahead, the two men's house was rather preparing for more warmth and passion, moving closer with a promise of an ineffable time.

And that's it ^^;

Only while reading it over did I notice I haven't written the words 'I love you' one single time, and I don't even feel it's really needed.

Really hope you like it, despite the scary length!

kathlaida-princess logging out…