by kathlaida-princess

Summary: The mushiest day of the year has arrived at the Sand Village, and some people don't have the luck to truly share it with another person… But will this keep Gaara and Naruto from having one of the funniest days of their lives? Of course not! GaaNaru Friendship

Disclaimer: I do not own anything related to Naruto, unfortunately. If I did, I'd made sure that the best relationship there would be perfectly used. (that's GaaNaru xD)

Author's Notes: Hello dear readers! I wrote this small fic as an entry for a Valentine's contest for a club at dA, and it came from the fact that you can also celebrate the love you have with a friend in this special day. The idea is simple and probably not the most original one, but I'm still fond of it and I hope you'll be as well!

I know what day is it. Throughout the three years after I realized I was loved, I made sure to learn everything about that strange yet so beautiful and precious concept, and the people who taught me would be really poor teachers if they had left this day out of their explanations.

I have been sensing its approach for over two weeks now. My most trusted shinobi have been spacing out constantly with only a smile connecting them to this world, my siblings have been acting extremely kind (which is something I know isn't normal, since they are constantly bickering each other and, in some occasions, me as well) and the entire village has been sighing in a way I can only blame on the mixture of contradictory feelings I was told love brought.

And, today, all that seems to have reached its peak. Even the severe clay walls look tenderer in their place, the hot weather has calmed down in its anger and the birds sing another, much mushier song. Since I am aware of how much this day affects my people, I have allowed all of my shinobi to take the day off as soon as they came in, for them to spend it with whoever they wanted. I can't deny how happy I felt when I saw all those blissful smiles facing me.

About me? Well, I am not particularly busy either. As the leader of the Sand Village, I am doing my best to keep my people free from any kind of danger and the paperwork to fill out is only five millimeters thick. But I don't really want to be out there. Although I know the basics of what love is and now consider it something very important to keep me going, I still haven't been with someone who can share THAT KIND of love with me. Any other day, it wouldn't matter much to me. I'd say to myself that the right person will eventually come up and I could be patient. Today, however, this atmosphere is pressing closely into me, filling my lungs with the toxic air of Valentine's Day, and, as I look out the wide window of my office, I wish to be part of the couples happily hanging about down there.

Surprisingly of me, I sigh. I know my siblings are somewhere out there too, with their own dates. Shinobi from the Leaf Village. Kankurou with the pink-haired Sakura, Temari with the lazy-scumbag Shikamaru. They have been together for some time now, which is actually something I, as a leader, approve, since it brings our villages together. But that leaves me as the only person at Sand alone.

Somewhat absent-minded, I observe those couples. The bliss etched into their expressions seems priceless to me. As my eyes move from one to the other, the growing feeling of something missing grows more and more unbearable. Suddenly, however, I notice a familiar and surprisingly lonely silhouette amongst the crowd. A very orange, very blond and very silly silhouette. The only one that is able to make me smile like I am now. I never expected Naruto to be here today, I probably assumed he too had his own date back at Leaf.

My feet begin moving even before my thoughts. He is rather far away from the window right now, but he looks somewhat gloomy from what I can make out, and that's not something normal. I leave my office inwardly cursing at my windows (and that's not the first time I do it, since temperature in the Sand Village are usually unbearably high) and their disability of being opened, while my steps are fast trying to reach my best friend.

Yes, my best friend. From the moment he saved my life, I made sure to use every chance I had to repay that huge debt and that made us spend a great amount of time together, consequently (and astonishingly easily) bringing us closer than anyone could even imagine. It is that connection that makes me finally be face-to-face with him in no time, and he realizes my presence right away, his expression lighting up when his two pools of sapphire meet my eyes.

"Gaara!" he chimes. His voice always sounds like an orchestra of happy bells to me.

"You came all this way and you weren't going to greet me?" I ask, trying my best to sound offended and obviously failing.

"Actually, I thought you were down here somewhere… I didn't want to bother you…"

I let out a small saddened chuckle as I reply, "As you can see, that's not the case. And I assume neither is yours."

He awkwardly strokes one of his whiskers, "Hehe, I guess not…"

I nod and merely squeeze one of his shoulders with one of my hands. For a while now, it isn't quite necessary to use words between us to give reassurance and I have been slowly discovering that these small actions are actually more valuable to people. I actually understand that: for how long have I craved for someone to touch me this lightly?

Naruto clearly gets the message and the trademark giant grin immediately makes its appearance.

"So, what should we do today?" he asks upon realizing neither of us is alone today anymore.

I really don't know what to answer. Now that I don't have my office walls to protect me and the entire Valentine's Day atmosphere is attacking me, it's easier for depression to corner me and have its way. I'm sure I don't want to have anything related to the romantic climate, and that leaves us with few available options.

Apparently, my inner struggle is visible through my eyes, for I hear Naruto giggle and say, "Yeah, I know, this day is sucky to me too…" and then I notice a more mischievous edge adorning his face, "But that only means I'll be able to carry on with my first plan for today. With your help, of course."

I'm curious now. I see my friend's excitement and I slightly mirror it, "And what were you planning on doing today?"

The impishness of Naruto's smile increases, "What do you think about pranking the couples?"

And now I'm confused. How will bothering the happy couples make us feel better about today? But he is quick to explain.

"These guys are all selfish! Take Sakura and Shikamaru, for example. They forced me to come here because "they didn't want to be alone" and needed me to escort them and now look at them, 'ttebayo! They didn't even bothered to say a good-bye and were already glued to your siblings… And now I'm the one to BE ALONE. I just think that you trust your friends everyday and you are always expecting them to always be there for you… And then someone else all pretty and stuff comes and you forget all about them… It's not fair and they should know it… And I want to see where they'll go to talk about their lousy date after I'm done with them. That, and I also have a few new tricks I wanted to show you, hehe…"

After taking it all in and giving it some thought, I admit Naruto is right. Not that I have reasons to complain, I never really had anyone right next to me all the time, so no one has been really unfair to me, but I can see why Naruto thinks that way. Half of his ninja generation (me included) owes him their life or a much better way of thinking (in my case, both), so he is probably the one who deserves the most love this day. That is maybe why I just say, "I'll help you then."

That grants me a quick embrace from my friend as he replies, "Cool, thank you so much, Gaara!"

And then, after letting me go, he steps away from me and beckons me to follow him, which I do, and we're headed somewhere hidden to plan out our mischief.

Naruto has indeed returned with several tricks up both his sleeves. I chuckle at some of them, cringe at others, actually blush at the bolder ones and even get too excited at the best ones (I am the Kazekage, it's a bit against the rules to play pranks, even if innocent, on the people you swore to protect, but there's actually something quite appealing in it). There's a peculiar glint in his sparkling eyes as he speaks and illustrates his plans with big, dramatic gestures as I listen attentively, and it makes me glad that I am participating in this with him and no one else. I give out some of my opinions when he requests them, and together we make up a schedule that is sure to keep us busy and well entertained for the rest of the day. After all is done, the couple chase begins!

We start with Naruto's main targets, the Leaf shinobi themselves and my siblings as well, as a direct consequence. Temari and Shikamaru are spending time at the only café my village has, and Naruto is mean enough to drop a powerful sleeping pill onto the already lazy ninja's cup. I guess Temari won't get the chance to do anything with him, and that makes me happy in a very overprotective-brotherly way.

Next, Kankurou and Sakura. My friend is especially mad at my brother for diverting the pink-haired kunoichi's attention from him, so he is very determined to humiliate him. They are in a restaurant and Naruto takes full advantage of it: Kankurou sits on a balloon that pushes out a very embarrassing sound, he finds his paint-face dyed a different color and even finds his food tampered with extremely spicy condiments to add some interesting aspects to Kankurou's behavior. The only reason why the owner of the restaurant did not kick the blond out is because I'm there and Naruto's under my leadership privileges today.

Many other couples ensue and taste our burn. We empty chocolate boxes as they're being offered to excited girlfriends, angering said women beyond control. Naruto teaches me the infamous Sexy Jutsu and both of us use it on other couples, to the men's great pleasure and awaiting pain (well, I find out that angered women are outstandingly dangerous). We take several volumes of the "Make Out" series from Naruto's large stock (I think three years training with Master Jiraiya can do that to you) and spread them around more couples. We fill some flowers with bugs, right after they're bought.

Sometimes we separate and play our own pranks alone. My sand is actually very useful when using it to touch a woman inappropriately and letting the blame fall on an unknowing boyfriend and Naruto's Multiplication Jutsu allows him to elaborate his pranks further than I could ever imagine.

As the day goes on, there is not one single couple who survives our attack and, success after success, a miniature version of universal chaos invades the Hidden Sand Village's streets. This precious time with Naruto presents my day with the best emotions I never thought I'd feel when I woke up this morning. There are times I laugh so much that I even bend over my stomach, tears leave my eyes and my entire body trembles beyond my control, making me fall on my back as well. In these times, Naruto follows my lead and does the same, maybe because he's still not used to see me like this (gee, not even I am used to laugh like this!), or maybe just because the moment justifies said reaction. I try my best to save the tingling that this feeling leaves in my senses deep inside my memory and my heart, because I know and realize that true happiness comes from that.

However, when all the couples have had enough off the outdoors and, at least the ones who survived the pranks, decide to move their dates somewhere else, my funny friend and me are left without eligible victims and decide to call it a day, and a very productive one too.

And since our bodies ache so much from all the mischief, we automatically head towards our spot, the place we spend most of our time together whenever Naruto comes to the Sand Village. Both of us sitting on the top of the roof of my house, the orange setting sun hogs and recklessly stretches across the sky in front of us. The two of us still make last comments on the best pranks of the day, but we are quick to notice that both of us are carrying a small package. Naruto is the first one to talk.

"Hmm… While we were apart, I got you this…" and he awkwardly pushes the box into my hands, wrapped in a hideous kind of paper that fortunately is only available on this time of the year.

It's my turn to give him my present as well. I just reach it out for him, waiting for him to grab it. "I got you something as well. I thought you might like it…"

We open our presents at the same time, and both packages turn out to contain chocolate. I smile greatly at mine. Chocolate molded into chocolate-chipped cookies. "I really enjoyed it, Naruto. You know my tastes well."

But I guess I know Naruto's even better, for the blond is now facing a gigantic glass bowl filled to the brim with noodle-shaped chocolate, as well as all ramen toppings and condiments. His eyes are now two sapphires stars and his voice becomes more acute as he yells, "My God, Gaara, this is great! Thank you, thank you so much!"

I find myself again inside a tender embrace and return it. There's something so satisfying in such an action that it seems almost like a sin not to give into it. After that, both of us put my own chocolate and also the ones that we stole during our pranks into the big bowl and begin eating contently, without worrying about the melting and messy part.

The best thing you can do with a friend (as long as you are not allergic to it) is to have chocolate with him. Torrents of chocolate.

And as the sun keeps on going down, I turn to a munching Naruto and speak up, "Thank you so much for coming, Naruto. I am really glad that I got to spend Valentine's with you."

Naruto turns on his disarming smile once more and promptly replies, "No, thank YOU, Gaara. For not leaving me alone today. I really appreciate that, dattebayo…"

After a few moments of silent well-being, I feel his body shift and then his left arm moving, running across my back to grab hold of my own left hand kindly. His chin then rests upon my right shoulder and I let it be, placing my head on top of his and holding onto this beautiful contact with all I have, still both of us attacking the chocolates.

And, as we remain this close, I come upon an important realization. After today, I know I'll never be able to abandon the man beside me for the kind of love it's supposed to be celebrated today, I don't even miss that feeling anymore, as his presence has cleared away all loneliness. And that can only mean one thing: the bond I have with him can only be of love too, and maybe a stronger kind of love, the one that hangs on over time and makes all emotions remain priceless forever.

And that is the love I want to celebrate every Valentine's Day.

Not through kissing, having dates or anything more carnal or normal (because, let's face it, neither of us is normal).

But just like today: through pranking, through spending time together like this, embracing and having chocolate.

Through helping more people realize what I have just realized.

My lazy voice his clear in the spotless air.

"Happy Valentine's Day, Naruto."

And so is his reply.

"Happy Valentine's Day, Gaara."

And that's it, for Valentine's Day ^^

Love takes so many shapes!

Have a beautiful day!

kathlaida-princess logging out…