I have this huge scary test tomorrow ... X_X

Short, yes, but that's how it worked out. So now the plot bunny can leave me to my ionic bonds and hyperbolas already.

To Look On Tempests

Chapter III

Matsuri wrapped the blanket around her shoulders and clutched it close, felt its soft weight bearing down on her. Drowsy and warm, she made her way to the window, and peeked out between the shades, her tea cradled in her free hand. Outside, the sun was fully in the sky, burning brightly. She could see the robed figures of ninja hurrying to their tasks, heads ducked to avoid the light.

Midmorning.

I have a lot of thinking to do. I did not want to wake you. I made you some tea. Meet me later, if you like. I have given you the day off.

No signature. She hadn't expected one. And she didn't really need one. Gaara's crisp, slightly slanting script spread darkly across the paper, leaving a vast track of white around it.

Matsuri laid the letter down, and put her cup next to it with a small smile. Because that was so like him. Letting her sleep in. The day off. The tea.

"Hey – Matsuri! So, why won't you date me, huh?"

She turned to see him jogging briskly to catch up to her, his dark hair flipped rakishly to the side, smile firmly in place on his face, as if he was determined to keep it there.

"Isamu . . ." She kept walking, her body language deliberately neutral, "It's not you. You're a nice guy."

She thought he might have been expecting that. His face hardened anyway, and that too-bright smile slipped.

"It's him, isn't it?"

She kept her face calm. "Excuse me?"

"It's him, it's your . . ." He seemed to fumble, looking angry. "Your teacher. That kid."

"Do you mean Gaara?" She had turned her eyes forward, scanning the street.

"You like him, don't you?" Isamu's voice was hard, aggressive. "Admit it."

"Excuse me." She repeated simply, and turned down the nearest street.

She could hear him yelling after her. "He's going to treat you like shit, you idiot! He's going to treat you like shit! He already does!"

She finished her tea, and slipped from the blanket. It was cool in the apartment, although the day was beginning to warm up. Then the conditioning units would kick in.

I have a lot of thinking to do.

She folded the blanket neatly, and walked it back into the bedroom.


Meet me later, if you like.

She took her clothes off, folded each article, laid it aside on the chair. She did not live with Gaara, but she could hardly waltz out of the Kazekage's suite wearing his nightclothes without inciting a definite lack of productivity in his staff. The day off – when someone figured out that the Kazekage's assistant and special agent (and there were rumors that she was his personal assassin, as well) was not present – would be enough on its own. Matsuri sighed. She certainly appreciated the time off, especially for something . . . like this . . . but she was a jonin, and the work she was missing today would double up tomorrow because of it. And, while she admitted the benefits of rest, Matsuri did not like to be unproductive. She cleaned the scrub on the shelf (Gaara was a very clean person himself, but she did it anyway), and then poured some of his body wash onto it.

The water splashed about her naked body, and the suds rolled off beneath the scrub. Matsuri bent over to rinse her hair, combed it back with her fingers, and scrubbed her front. Her hands lingered over her belly, before gently rubbing away the soap.

I have a baby . . .

It would be just a small blob, a tiny mass of cells. She had seen the biology books. She knew the facts.

Matsuri stepped carefully from the tiled shower, and reached for one of the towels hanging up on the wall.

But still . . .

She glanced at the mirror, at her wet hair tracing its way over her skin, at the curves and hollows of her face.

Blue eyes or black? Brown hair or red hair or blond hair? Boy or girl? My nose? His eyebrows? Temari's lips? My mother's chin? And so much more . . .

The sheer possibilities were there, before her, an endless list . . . exciting . . . and . . .

And I'm having a baby.

For the first time, the first real time, the words seemed to click together in her mind, settle into unmovable, certain stone. This is real.

"Oh, wow." Matsuri whispered, and covered her eyes, although the mouth below them was smiling, laughing. "W-wow . . ."

She dried herself off with hands that did not quite know where they went or what they did, and walked back into the bedroom on clouds. She settled down on the bed that gave slight way for her weight, and reached over to the desk. To the rose leaning to the side of a glass, set in water, and firm below her fingertips. The flower was red, powerfully red, and Matsuri picked it up and held it close. Red like . . .

That's it, that's what I am.

Lucky, blessed.

Happy.