So I'm rewriting this too, and a few others as well. My writing style has changed to the point that some things that have been sitting there for awhile are no longer compatible with my current style. So that's why I started rewriting Katana, and why I'm rewriting this and several others. Plus there's also a couple that have been sitting there waiting for a rewrite for ages, and I'll be dealing with them as well.
In any case, remember that I don't own Naruto and please enjoy the chapter.
A Life Bartered
The walls of the city of Konohagakure loomed before them, and the guards surrounding the powerful man entering the city tensed, ever ready for an attack. Not that they really needed to be, this was an ally city after all. But Sabaku no Gaara was the Kazekage, ruler of the desert lands that surrounded the equally imposing city of Sunagakure of the Land of Wind, and his guards were conditioned to be in the habit of expecting an assassin.
The presence of this powerful man was due to the fact that a rogue nation known as Sound had all but declared war on the Land of Fire, where Konoha lay. The enemy's numbers were vast enough to warrant the Hokage of Konoha, one Namikaze Naruto, to call for aid from his strongest ally, the leader of which also happened to be one of his oldest friends. Gaara and Naruto had seen one another often when they were younger due to the fact that both of their father's had been Kage's, and the two boys had been in the same age bracket.
Once they'd turned fourteen, however, that had changed. Gaara's father had died, murdered by traitors and usurpers who'd sought to take over the desert kingdom for themselves. They'd been embroiled in a bloody, civil war for a year, and when it had all been over, Gaara had emerged as the new Kazekage. He'd spent the next few years brushing up on politics, both theory and practical. He'd been busy fixing his nation and earning the respect of his people, and by the time he'd properly interacted with Naruto again, he was eighteen and thoroughly jaded, thanks to politics and the assassins that had come with the position.
Now, at twenty, Gaara was one of the most feared warriors out there, with a temper and a possessive streak to match. But he'd pulled his people back from the brink of near economic extinction and turned them into a mighty nation, who else could claim to have done something like that?
In any case, it was the reputation of his warriors that Naruto needed now from him, and Gaara was willing to lend their aid. The warriors of Sound were decimating Naruto's forces, and an alliance with Suna would ensure that Sound was driven back. Even if they hadn't been friends, Konoha was still a strong ally because of trade between their two lands. And now Gaara was here to go over details of his assistance to his oldest friend.
Once inside the gates of Konoha, Gaara cast a surreptitious glance around, noting that a lot had changed since he'd last been here. And also a lot that hadn't. He recognised a few places he'd been to all those years ago, the businesses still thriving in the economic hub that was Konoha. That was probably one of the reasons Sound wanted this territory so much, it was a resource rich land, fertile and with the perfect climate for bountiful harvests.
After making their way through the streets for at least half an hour, they finally came to the center of the city, the royal palace where the Hokage dwelt coming into view. Several minutes later they reached the main gates of the palace where Naruto himself was waiting for them.
"Gaara!" he greeted, coming forward and clasping his old friend in a hug. "I'm glad you could make it! I hope your trip wasn't too rough?"
"It was fine," Gaara said. "Your country is easily traversable."
"Sure…" Naruto said. "Well, shall we go up? My 'advisors' weren't too happy that I came out here to meet you myself, they seem to think that an assassin might get me or something. But this city is well guarded, so I told them to stuff it!"
"You didn't actually say those exact words, did you?" Gaara asked, quite annoyed at his friend's cavalier attitude towards his own safety.
"Of course not, I'm not that stupid!" Naruto defended. "I was more polite and diplomatic with the way I worded it."
"Diplomatic?" Gaara asked as they walked up the stairs leading to the main door. "That word doesn't seem to fit you."
"Oi!" Naruto protested as the great doors of the palace were opened before them. "I'm extremely diplomatic, thank you!"
Gaara wasn't too sure of that. Naruto had only been Hokage for six months, his father had died almost a year ago. He knew that Konoha's main council of advisors hadn't wanted to give the blond his position unless he could prove that he was mature enough to handle it, and obviously he had done so. But Gaara himself still needed proof that Naruto was fit to be Hokage. He knew his heart was in the right place, but was his head?
"You really need to visit more," Naruto was saying as the doors closed behind them. "I've hardly seen you in years, and even then it was always for business."
"I do have a country to run," Gaara reminded him, "and so do you, Naruto."
"Whatever," Naruto said with a shrug, and before Gaara could comment, there was a rather loud noise that came from a woman who stormed over to them.
"Naruto!" the woman yelled. "I thought we were going to meet your old friend together?"
Gaara stared at the woman, who was blonder than Naruto, wondering who she was. Already she was annoying him.
"Uh, I forgot, Ino," Naruto said, then turned to Gaara. "Gaara, this is my wife, Ino."
Gaara raised a non-existent eyebrow. Wife? Naruto saw the look on his face and sighed.
"It's a political arrangement," he told his friend. "Ino's father is Yamanaka Inoichi, one of the most prominent businessmen in Konoha."
"The most prominent!" Ino argued, then turned to smile sweetly at Gaara. "An alliance with my father ensures that Naruto remains in the loop where trade is concerned. But never mind that! Welcome to Konoha, Kazekage-sama, I hope you find your stay enjoyable."
Turning back to Naruto, Ino said, "I'm off to find Sakura, she promised me that we'd go over the dance for tonight."
Naruto nodded and she left, flouncing off to kami knew where. "Dance?" Gaara asked.
"We're having a feast for you tonight," Naruto told him. "There's gonna be some entertainment, including my wife and my sister dancing."
"I wasn't aware that you have a sister," Gaara said, trying to recall anyone ever mentioning one.
"I don't really," Naruto admitted. "But Sakura-chan is as good as. We grew up together, before I met you, but her family moved away to one of the border towns. She came back a few years ago and we bonded again."
Vaguely Gaara remembered that not long after he'd met Naruto when they were kids, he'd annoyed him by moaning about how his Saku-chan had been taken away from him. Maybe this woman was the one he'd spoken about? Naruto was talking to him again, and Gaara made himself pay attention.
"Let's get you to your rooms," the blond said. "Relax and get some rest if you need, then I'll see you at the feast. We'll talk about our alliance tomorrow, ok?"
"Sure," Gaara said, and let himself be shown the way to the Ambassadorial rooms.
Sakura was sitting in the royal gardens when she was startled by a voice behind her saying, "Boo!"
Jumping a mile in the air, Sakura turned with murder in her eyes to face her new friend, Ino, who'd been married to her childhood friend Naruto for only three weeks now. The two of them were so alike, it was almost scary. They were both loud, obnoxious and extremely annoying, but Sakura had learned that they also shared a devotion towards their friends, and a willingness to do anything to protect those that were precious to them. So despite her flaws, Ino was promising to turn into one of her best friends.
"Dammit! Don't scare me like that!" Sakura yelled.
Ino laughed at her, clutching her sides as she chortled, "You should have seen the look on your face!"
Sakura glared at her. "What do you want?" she asked.
"I want to go over the dance, of course," Ino said. "We only have one more chance before tonight. Oh and speaking of, the guest of honour arrived about ten minutes ago, and I have to say, I don't think I've ever met anyone who could pulled off rude and grumpy without trying like he can."
"Really?" Sakura said. "Did he say something offensive?"
"No, it was more the way he looked at me, I could tell we'd never get along," the blonde noted.
"Well, you are too much like Naruto," Sakura said with a slight teasing smile.
"That doesn't explain why he's such good friends with my husband then," Ino said, then she grabbed Sakura's hand. "Come on! Practice!"
As Ino dragged her out of the garden and down the hallways to the room that had bee set aside and emptied for their use, Sakura wondered why she'd let herself get roped into this dance. Even though she loved to dance, this particular one was one that she didn't like, but it was a traditional Konoha dance, and Ino'd wanted to make an impression on her husband's friend. But the dance was highly sensual, and had its origins in the Red Light districts. It tantalised the senses and turned even the most stubborn man into putty.
But that was just because of the modifications to the dance. When it had been adopted by the ninja academy, they'd changed it to use chakra. Kunoichi were taught to use this dance immediately when they hit puberty, Sakura knew, and the use of the chakra was standard for any seduction mission carried out. The only reason Ino knew this dance was because she'd had kunoichi training before marrying Naruto.
Sakura had also studied at the academy, but when her parents had moved, her education had ended. That was until an aunt on her mother's side had come to stay with them, an aunt who was a retired kunoichi, and she taught Sakura everything she knew, including medical ninjutsu. Her aunt, who was actually a great-aunt technically, was a famous medical kunoichi known to all as one of the Legendary Sannin, Lady Tsunade. She was also the only Sannin still alive.
In any case, Ino and Sakura had reached the room they were to practice in, and the pink haired girl sighed as her friend ran over to start up the music player, then came towards her with a huge grin on her face. Ino reached out her hands and Sakura took them, deciding to just lose herself in the music as she began to sway.
The scene was set as all the guests were settled into their seats for the feast and the entertainment. Naruto hadn't told him much about the dance his wife and 'sister' were doing, other than the fact that it was a traditional Konoha dance. But then he'd chuckled and said that its origins were a little questionable, though it was still entertaining. Questionable origins? Gaara wasn't sure he liked the sound of that.
In any case, everyone was here, ready for the evening to begin. Gaara had noticed that there were two vacant seats next to Naruto, on his left. He himself was sitting at the blond's right, but he figured the two empty seats were for the missing women. Several dishes full of food had already been brought out and people were already helping themselves when a man with silver hair that stuck out everywhere stepped out into the space set aside for the entertainment. The man was wearing a mask over at least half his face, and Gaara's eyes narrowed when he realised that this was Hatake Kakashi.
"Bout time," Naruto muttered next to him, and Gaara glanced at him briefly before returning his attention to the man in the center.
"My Lord Hokage, Lord Kazekage and other esteemed guests," Hatake said. "It is with great pleasure that I introduce the first round of entertainment tonight. Please welcome Namikaze Ino and Haruno Sakura for the yūwaku no odóri."
The lights dimmed and an overhead one switched on as two women appeared, dressed in silken gauze. One of them Gaara recognised from earlier as Naruto's wife, and the other one… He inhaled a sharp breath at the sight of her, wondering at the beauty she exuded. The clothes she wore clung to her curves, showing off the contours of her body, but without being revealing. Her face, a picture of serenity as she prepared to dance, was absolutely perfect, nothing off in the way of symmetry. And her eyes… he couldn't see them close enough, but they seemed to be a shade of green.
Gaara was quite taken with the rosette before him, and he sat there, rooted to his seat, as she began to dance alongside the other one. His insides began boiling and he wondered why he was having such a strong reaction to this one female, when he'd never had this reaction to anyone ever before.
He felt the subtle waves of chakra emanated over him, and he wondered if that was why. In any case, Gaara decided that, if this feeling persisted after the dance when the seductive tones of the chakra were gone, then he was going to do anything and everything he could to make this woman his own.
So what did you think? Review please!
I put the two together and I hope it means Dance of Seduction.