Summary: The Hyuuga's eyes snapped open. Twenty-five!? How could she be twenty-five!? She was twelve. And married, he said? MARRIED? To who? Gaara/Hinata.
by Bullwinkle's Lady
She awoke in a sterile room. It smelled like the hospital. Hinata slowly opened her eyes, long hair hanging in her face. Long...hair? Since when did she have long hair?
Wearily, she propped herself onto her elbows, the room spinning and her head pounding. She pulled the strands of hair out of her eyes. It was hers. The long hair was hers. She blinked until the room was clear when someone spoke beside her.
"You've been unconscious for over a week."
The voice was masculine and...familiar, frighteningly so. Dull...monotonous – Hinata slowly turned toward its source, and her blood ran cold.
Sabaku no Gaara sat beside her bed. One of his legs were drawn in his chair, and he wasn't looking her way, but his eyes were closed, his body hunched, and his head lowered.
She didn't catch his heavy sigh, or the fact that he was immensely relieved, just that Gaara was sitting beside her.
And talking to her.
She was hit by a wave of dizziness.
The boy was taller...why was he taller? He was dressed differently as well, a black cape hanging around him. Gaara opened his eyes and crossed his arms over his chest, still not looking at her.
"Do you remember what happened, Hinata?"
He took particular care in pronouncing her name, exaggerated emphasis on each three syllables, as if he was mocking her, as if he knew her. Hinata's heart raced. What did Gaara have to do with her? Why did he seem different, and why was he beside her? "N-n-no," she squeaked, clutching her sheets to her chest.
Wait...what? There was a softness beneath her hands. She slowly looked down at herself. Breasts!?
Gaara finally looked at her, as if surprised by the smallness of her voice. "Are you all right?
No, she wanted to say, but she couldn't speak. Why would she be all right when a deranged murderer was seated right beside her? The last thing she remembered was seeing Naruto fight at the chuunin exam finals. What had happened since then? Why was she in a hospital?
Gaara slowly stood from his seat, eying her paling face and trembling shoulders. He was tall, and it wasn't just that. His face had aged, his hair an inch or so longer, and his hands, calloused, reached down to steady her. His eyes had become somehow unreserved, offering things that confused her. Concern!? She watched him bite his mouth and touch her forehead, as if to check for a fever. "You were visiting Konoha," Gaara muttered, withdrawing his hand and leaning over her. He narrowed his eyes, suddenly glaring. "I told you not to go. I didn't want you to go." His voice was apathetic, as always. How could he expect she wasn't intimidated? Gaara grabbed the front of her shirt, and their faces were suddenly inches apart. He pulled her closer still, his nose brushing hers, as if he intended to...to-
For the first time in her life, Hinata released a horrified scream. It was loud enough to wake the dead, and jolt every nurse along the corridor.
Gaara abruptly released her, pulling away. The door burst open and medics flooded the room, but Hinata continued to scream, only vaguely aware of the fact that she was hysterical. She watched Sakura rush to her side carrying a needle. She felt the point press into her arm, and the room became black again.
"How are you feeling?"
Yet another person she barely knew. She was simply thankful the man sitting beside her wasn't Gaara again.
But the red-head was present, arms crossed, standing against the wall – glaring at her again.
Hinata stared back, feeling her heart race. She wanted to run, hide – to scream again, because at that moment Gaara looked as though he wanted to tear her to pieces.
And Hinata stared. She could do nothing but stare. Her body was numb, her throat weak, the world – hazy. She was being suppressed by the sedatives Sakura had injected her with that morning.
Shikamaru seemed to notice the silent war waging between the two. He threw a pointed glare over his shoulder.
He glared at GAARA! Had he gone mad!?
"Gaara, maybe you should leave," the Nara drawled, not seeming to notice her look of shock.
There was a pause in which Gaara might have considered it, for he looked briefly at the floor.
Hinata felt suddenly nauseous. He was planning to kill her, wasn't he? Why else would he lurk in her room...waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike... The heiress barely noticed as Shikamaru continued to speak.
"She might be more comfortable without you."
"That's obviously not what I want."
Shikamaru briefly smiled, and Hinata didn't know why. He must have noticed the confused panic in her eyes, for he grabbed her shoulder and squeezed it reassuringly. "Hinata, we think you might have amnesia."
"What's the last thing you remember?"
Gaara was closely watching her from across the room. She tried not to look back. "I – I-" she took a gulp of air. "I-I-I-"
Shikamaru moved completely in front of her, successfully blocking the sand nin from view. "Breathe," he urged her.
She complied, closing her eyes, and sucking in deep breaths. Why was her head pounding? Why did she have long hair, and – breasts!
Amnesia, Shikamaru had said. She had lost a gap of memory. How much?
"Hinata, you're twenty-five," the Nara said, as though sensing her uncertainty.
The Hyuuga's eyes snapped open. Twenty-five!? How could she be twenty-five!? She was twelve. Twelve! Twelve!
Shikamaru sighed, ignoring her look of denial. "Gaara's your-"
"Get out," interrupted Gaara.
Her eyes widened, and she looked at the redhead, then back at Shikamaru, her eyes pleading, Don't leave me alone with him!
The Nara blinked. He threw another odd look over his shoulder at the sand-user. "What?"
"You're obviously scaring her," mentioned Gaara sarcastically.
A bead of sweat rolled down Hinata's temple as Shikamaru's eyebrow twitched. His odd look became an incredulous one. He opened his mouth to retort, but bit his tongue. "Fine," he muttered.
Hinata's heart threatened to burst.
Shikamaru turned back to Hinata, patting her arm reassuringly. His eyes were sympathetic, and...amused? He leaned down to whisper something she could barely make out.
"He's my brother-in-law and I know him well. I like him. You like him. Gaara's not the psychotic-type anymore. Just try not to have a heart attack when he tells you."
Tells me what? she wanted to ask, but she couldn't speak, she could only breathe.
The Hyuuga nearly cried as Shikamaru stood. "I'll see you in Suna, Hinata. Hopefully you'll be relatively normal by then."
Her heart sunk to her stomach as Shikamaru exited the room. When the door closed behind him, Gaara pushed himself off the wall and took the empty seat beside her bed. She watched him slowly reach behind him and uncork his sand gourd. Her mouth opened in a silent scream as she prayed he would be quick about murdering her.
That's when Gaara, oddly, reached into his gourd and unearthed paper...and a pen!? He kept writing utensils in there!?
"You should get some rest," Gaara mentioned, not looking at her as he placed the sheet against his knee and began to scribble something down.
Hinata slowly sunk into the bed, pulling the sheets over her head. She didn't notice the corner of Gaara's mouth twitch as he watched her from the corner of his eye.
He was there again when she awoke the next morning. She wondered whether he had even left. It was rumored that Gaara didn't sleep, that Shukaku made him an insomniac. She imagined him watching her sleep, and her skin crawled.
Those black rings around his eyes were terrifying...and interesting. She watched him continue to write notes. Sometimes he walked over to the window where a few carrier pigeons were always waiting. Who could all those messages possibly be for?
He seemed to notice her curious glances. "I'm taking an...unexpected break from my post. I have to keep in touch with Suna."
Then why was he in Konoha? To be with her? And what kind of post did he have that required his constant correspondence? He must have been important. Perhaps a jounin...maybe even in the ANBU.
Gaara returned to his seat as a nurse entered with breakfast. Toast and orange juice, but what more could she expect from a hospital? She watched the nurse pull out a small flashlight and examine her eyes, though it was rather pointless being that she didn't have pupils. "How's your head?" the woman inquired.
"Um...it hurts," mumbled Hinata, feeling rather awkward that Gaara was listening in on her check-up. Was it even legal? "What happened?" she questioned.
"You suffered head injuries in an ambush on your way to Konoha," stated the nurse simply. "We were very worried about you. You were in a coma for a while, but you seem to be doing a lot better now that you're with your-" she paused. "What's the last thing you remember?" the nurse questioned, and took to examining a spot near the back of Hinata's skull.
Hinata blinked, slightly confused as to what the woman had been on the verge of saying. She was too disordered to analyze the situation. The head examination was painful – and dizzying. "The c-chunnin exam finals," she mumbled.
Gaara was watching her again. A look of surprise briefly crossed his face before he replaced it with apathy. Why was he concerned? Were they...somehow...friends?
When the nurse left she laid back and stared tiredly at the ceiling, half-lidded eyes only wanting to close. She felt confused...exhausted...like she was missing a piece of her life. She was twenty-five, and she didn't know who she was at that moment. Was she still a genin, or had she raised in ranking? Was she still living with her family, or on her own – was she married? Maybe...to Naruto? She felt her cheeks warm.
And then reality struck her. She snapped her eyes closed.
Her and Naruto? Not likely. The blonde boy hadn't even visited her. She was probably alone, just as she had suspected she'd be all her life. But was it wrong to still hope...that maybe...some day...?
"Are you all right?"
Hinata opened her eyes and glanced at Gaara. Again, that curiosity in his eyes. It was unnerving for some reason.
"You seem flushed," he mentioned.
Her blush deepened. How was she supposed to answer that? She needed a diversion, and looked at her untouched breakfast. "D-Do you want some?"
She had offered to share her breakfast with Gaara.
Kami, she had offered to share her breakfast with Gaara!
"I'm not hungry," the man mentioned, but seemed to freeze, and he slowly lowered his pen. He tiredly rested his face against his knuckles. "So you're finally warming up to me?"
The heiress stared at him, feeling strangely mortified. "Wh-what?" she squeaked, blushing.
"I changed my mind, I'm feeling hungry. Can I have some, Hinata?"
Always saying her name like that. Always so familiar with her.
Friends. Maybe...they were...friends? She picked up a piece of toast and nervously handed it to the redhead. He raised it to his lips but didn't open his mouth, instead opting to stare at her. Sometimes he stopped writing his messages to blatantly watch her. It was a habit of his, a shameless one, because he knew she was aware of it yet didn't seem to care. It made her extremely uncomfortable – well, more so than she already was. She found herself seeking yet another distraction.
Shikamaru had called Gaara his brother-in-law...did that mean...? "So Sh-Shikamaru and Temari are m-married?"
Gaara briefly nodded. "They just had a child..." he trailed off.
Hinata slowly smiled. She wanted to know more – about her life, about her peers, but didn't know how to ask. Gaara seemed to read her. "Your old teammate – Shino? – has a daughter."
Her eyes widened. "H-how old?" she asked shyly.
She contained a squeal and Gaara contained his amusement.
"Naruto and Ino-"
"-just got married."
Hinata turned away from him, suddenly feeling rather sick. Privacy, she needed privacy, just for a moment. "I...I have to..." she trailed off, climbing out of the bed. Gaara didn't move from his seat as she ambled wearily to the bathroom, and she didn't notice the wisps of sand that circled her ankles, prepared to catch her if she fell.
The next morning she doused her face in cold water before looking up into the mirror. Her hair was long and tickled her shoulder blades. Her face had become more so mature than confused, as she felt. And her body – she had a body, not a girl's but a woman's, and it was-
She stared at herself, jaw slack.
Maybe Gaara was hanging around for reasons other than just to keep her company. It would explain all the staring. She exited the bathroom, arms folded uncomfortably over her bust. Gaara eyed her as she climbed into her bed and pulled her sheets up to her nose. She had a body. A nice body. What was she to do with such a body?
Her face turned pink.
And so, Gaara was back for her daily scrutiny – or brainwashing – session. She couldn't yet determine just which it was – or exactly what he wanted. Even if they were friends, hadn't he been around long enough?
He smelled good...which she appreciated, because she never saw him come or go.
It was that afternoon that she finally worked up the courage to ask, "What are you d-doing here?"
"You're prone to anxiety attacks," Gaara responded simply, not looking up from his paperwork. "Sakura says I should give you time to get used to me."
Hinata cocked her head to the side. "W-why?"
Gaara didn't respond.
It was her fourth day alone in that room with Gaara, and Hinata feared she would go mad.
However...he wasn't as scary as she had originally thought. He was actually more...boring, than he was scary. She was tempted to throw something at him.
But she barely knew him, and she was Hinata. Boring little Hinata. She didn't randomly throw things at people...right?
But she wasn't Hinata.
She didn't know who she was anymore.
Something inside her made her really want to bother Gaara.
She glanced at him, surprised that his head was back, eyes closed. Gaara can sleep?
"I'm not sleeping," the jinchuuriki mentioned, as though he could read her mind. Hinata blinked. The man hadn't moved or opened his eyes. "Not that I can't sleep these days," Gaara continued. "I'm just not good at it."
She continued to stare. Gaara had become so...open with her and her with him. They spoke sometimes – casually. It was odd seeing Gaara casual with anyone.
And he was always there, watching her...looking after her?
"Are we...f-friends in the real world?" Hinata asked in a tiny voice.
"This is the real world," Gaara responded impassively.
She ignored him, lightly shaking her head. "Or maybe we w-work together?"
There was a pause.
"We're friends. We work together," he admitted.
"So you're...good?" asked Hinata, feeling heat rise to her face in embarrassment.
Gaara turned his head to glare at her.
Hinata bit the inside of her cheek, forcing herself to continue. "You said I w-was visiting here," she gulped uncomfortably. Everyone was afraid of the unfamiliar. Everyone was afraid of change, and her world had suddenly changed. "Shikamaru said he'd see me – in Suna. I live in – Suna." It wasn't a question, it was a simple fact, one she had been denying for the past few days.
Gaara said nothing.
The door suddenly opened, and someone entered the room. A man, a Hyuuga, long hair and brawn body. It took her a moment to realize this man was Neji. He approached her bed, placing his hand on her shoulder "It's good to see you Hinata. The medics haven't been allowing you visitors over the past few days."
Shocked, the heiress looked at Gaara, then back at Neji, wanting to say something along the lines of, Save me! Was she the only one who could see her stalker-sand-nin? Neji crookedly smiled. "How are you feeling?"
How was she feeling? She was feeling a lot of things, including stress, fatigue, anxiety – fear. She hated how she felt, and desperately wanted to know who she was, but was too afraid to ask. "I'm...fine," she mumbled, looking down.
"I'll let you get some rest. I'm told you had a panic attack. Amnesia can be...very traumatizing." He briefly pressed his lips to the top of her head – something she hadn't expected him to do. Something she'd never known him to do. Neji then nodded to Gaara. "Can I speak to you outside?"
She stared as the redhead followed her cousin out of the room. What was Neji speaking to him about?
Hinata silently hugged herself. Things that hadn't made sense before...she was beginning to discern. Gaara, Gaara, Gaara... She watched him return, and he immediately noticed her paleness.
She squeezed her eyes closed. "Before, you tried to...to k-kiss me, right?" The heiress took a deep breath. She'd never kissed a man. Well, she didn't remember ever kissing a man, but she could have...possibly...done a whole lot more. She felt like a twelve-year-old stuck in a twenty-five-year-old's body. And Gaara, of all people, he was...everywhere. He was her world. "You're – m-my – b-b-boyfriend?"
"Try husband." Perhaps he was impatient, as she claimed quite regularly in their household. Perhaps it had been a mistake, because he was quite human, contrary to popular belief. Gaara watched her, expecting it to turn green, to sweat, to vomit-
She was blushing. "Y-you're lying."
He shrugged, slightly amused. "Maybe," he muttered.
"Don't say that. Don't make me think you're lying – that I can't trust anything you say!"
She had stopped stuttering. Gaara slowly approached. "So you like me," he accused.
"It's not my fault," Hinata contested, though she wasn't really contesting. "I'm predisposed to like you." Her voice had become louder, stronger, as though she was quite accustomed to bickering with the man.
"We fell in love," Gaara mentioned. He was suddenly beside the bed. He leaned over her, like the last time, but Hinata dropped to her pillows, feeling dazed. Through half-lidded eyes, she stared up at him, shaking, breathing, but Gaara was undeterred. With his hands stationed on either side of her head, he leaned closer until the warmth of his breath tickled her lips.
Hinata's eyelids almost completely lowered. She desperately needed answers, and she couldn't run away again. Though she was absolutely terrified...she was also enthralled. "What do I love about you?" she murmured faintly.
He kissed her, and it wasn't harsh as she expected it would be. It was soft, careful. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him closer, feeling him climb over her, and his lips trail to her neck. Her face reddened, and she gasped for breath, but images – vague, obscure, but sometimes quite clear – they returned viciously, each with its own assault, and she could barely manage a whimper when Gaara's lips met hers again. She kissed him back, allowing it to deepen, and his tongue to knead hers, nipping, tasting, exploring every inch of her mouth.
She withdrew for air, and watched Gaara smirk. He lightly bit her nose. "You remember this," he mused.
She couldn't organize what she did and didn't remember, but the prospect of not being with Gaara – of not remembering his glares she deemed to be pouts, or those nights in his office when she had to lure him to bed, his insistent bites and kisses, the monotonous way he did everything, except for loving her- "Kami, I need you, I need you - Gaara-"
She gasped, because suddenly he was touching her - touching her in places she hadn't touched herself, and showing her precisely what each spot was for.
"I probably shouldn't be – traumatizing you, like this," Gaara muttered vaguely, working his way along her jaw and toward ear. "But I'm a man. Or a lecher. You say I'm a lecher."
Despite their tangled limbs, she messily climbed over him, until she had pushed him to the mattress and was straddling his waist. Gaara submitted, compliant...pleased. "I think I'm one as well," she weakly offered, staring down at him.
She loved that vague hint of a smirk upon his lips, the dark markings around his eyes, the tattoo on his forehead, the fact that he was odd, exotic, frightening, and beautiful, a living contradiction and he was all hers. He was far stronger than he looked, and far weaker than he looked, and she wanted him, needed him-
And then she collapsed against him, her face in his chest, sobbing, crying, she couldn't stop crying. She was hysterical again and didn't know why. She felt Gaara's body stiffen beneath her.
"...this isn't sex," he mentioned curtly.
She began to cry harder and felt his arms encircle her waist. She remembered Suna, their home, their life – he the Kazekage, and she a jounin. She would have scolded him for being there, waiting for her, when he should have been with his land. She remembered his kisses, their nights – their many late nights – she remembered her attack near Konoha. She had killed the perpetrators but had suffered head trauma and collapsed at the scene.
And now she was awake again. "I think you traumatized me," she mumbled wryly. Her lips connected with the hollow in the center of his collarbone, and she listened to his breathing deepen.
The door opened. "It's good to see you two getting along."
Hinata blushed hotly when she realized that Sakura had entered the room, though her husband seemed unaffected. The Hyuuga attempted to climb off him, but tripped on one of their limbs, and toppled over the side of the bed. Her body met with a cloud of sand and she blinked as she was gently lowered to the floor.
Gaara hadn't moved but stared at the ceiling, still breathing. He slowly sat up, smoothing his clothes, and briefly nodded to the person who had followed the pink-haired medic in.
It seemed Naruto had visited her after all.
And he was smirking. Hinata feared her face would catch fire.
"How's your memory?" the blonde inquired.
"Better," said Hinata, climbing wearily to her feet.
"Obviously," said Sakura, jabbing Naruto with her elbow. This only managed to heighten the Hyuuga's embarrassment. Sakura was holding a chart. "Do you think you're ready to get out of here?" she inquired.
Hinata hurriedly nodded, and the corner of Gaara's mouth twitched.
"I'll leave your discharge papers on the counter and let you two get back to...um..." The medic flashed a grin and exited the room, dragging Naruto along behind her. Hinata felt her blush deepen.
Gaara stood. "So you remember?" he questioned.
Hinata walked to his side. "There are black spots," she stated, staring up at him.
He caught her in another kiss, lightly biting her bottom lip as he pulled away, paused, then kissed her again, muffling her feeble protests. "We'll have to work on that," he muttered against her.