Title: Diplomatic Behavior

Author: AppleL0V3R

Beta-reader: Terror-Of-The-Crimson-Night

Fandom: Naruto

Pairing: Sabaku no Gaara and Haruno, Sakura

Rating: T

Type: One-shot – Complete

Summary: This had proved it. Sakura simply was not made out for diplomatic behavior. She'd have to learn to control it if she wanted to continue to be his escort to these events.

Theme: 50 Shinobi LJ challenge (#37 – Training)

Word Count: 3,055

Disclaimer: If you've heard of it before, then it's obviously not mine.

..:Xx0o0xX:..

What the hell was she doing here? Really, she is a Konoha kunoichi, so ambassador or not, why in the world was she the escort of the Kazekage. As in the leader of Suna, Kazekage. It's not that she had any problems with Gaara himself, no, in fact she liked the guy – as much as someone of her personality could like someone as hard assed as him at any rate – but that didn't mean she wanted to escort him to all these fancy things. Once had been surprising, twice had been disconcerting and now thrice was a bit over board. Couldn't he use somebody from his own village for such things? Her Shishou most certainly did and she was sure that any one of Gaara's advisors would love to.

So why her?

It wasn't for looks; Sakura didn't have the body made for showing off. It wasn't for skill; she was an ambassador, not a diplomat and for good reason. And it wasn't for company; Gaara was the anti-social kind who preferred she just shut up.

And thus her confusion.

Part of her figured that she should just bring it up with the redhead so the whole thing could be laid to rest, but she knew that no matter how much she tried, Sakura was no made for delicate. And she didn't want to seem insensitive or ungrateful, that could have a negative effect not only on her career as an ambassador, but on the relation between Konoha and Suna as a whole. That wasn't something she could afford, so she had yet to bring the subject up with him. Not even subtly, she knew that she had no talent for it and did not need that backfiring on her either. Which ultimately left her with just leaving the whole thing alone.

She tried not to tap her heeled foot impatiently and refrained from checking the time by the clock on the wall. Gaara was not the type of person to be late. For anything. So where the hell was the insufferable guy? She let her green eyes skitter across the landscape once more only to be met with the familiar trees that she saw every time she was at the village gates, getting ready to leave. Ever since the Kazekage had started using her as his escort for all things political she'd gotten used to the sight.

Covered in a traditional kimono and her feet in the same high heels her Shishou wore, she waited for the redhead to arrive. The event itself wouldn't be until the next night, but it would be unseemly for him to simply walk into an event after having traveled the three-day-minimum distance between Suna and Konoha and only have her meet him at the gates.

But here she was, leaning against the large wooden doors of her home with no Wind Shadow in sight. How irritating.

After another fifteen minutes passed she was about ready to through her hands in the air and head back inside the village gates and let the guy fend for himself. But the healer side of her kicked up, wondering if he was okay. After all, Gaara was never late, he was punctual all the time, so the idea that he would be even five minutes late, let alone more than fifteen, had her wondering if something had happened. Like the possibility that he had run into trouble on the way over or he had caught some kind of sickness that was keeping him in bed.

Not so pretty pictures fluttered through her mind and she had to push them away before she did something stupid. Sure it was possible that he'd gotten hurt or bedridden, but it was also possible that he'd been held up by his council or something of the like. Even if he did meet problems of the harmful variety, Gaara was no pushover, he only had an escort for the picture it presented, not because he actually needed it. As was such with kages, all five were strong and had earned their position after all.

Still, she couldn't seem to shake her unease.

So she opted for a different way to settle it, finding the guy. It shouldn't be that hard since there was one route that he tended to like to take and that was by the main road. Sakura sighed quietly before pushing off of the gateway with her shoulders and started on heeled feet down the large dirt road.

She'd come across him eventually, she knew, hopefully sooner rather than later.

..:Xx0o0xX:..

Gaara refused to sigh, it was not becoming for him to do so no matter how much he wanted to. But he did settle for rubbing his temples in an attempt to banish the building headache his council had managed to induce. They all knew there was an even in Konoha he had been invited to and they knew he'd already sent ahead that he would go. That wasn't their problem though; their problem seemed to be that they didn't like his choice in escorts.

For the past hour, they had successfully managed to delay him with their insistence that he should pick someone from Suna instead of the one he usually had. They had used the reasoning that Sakura was from Konoha and not even in a place of any real political power. This had earned them all a cool stare because they knew she was one of the best ambassadors in a long time from her village. She was adept at soothing tensions and making compromises that all parties could agree to when the need arose and she had healthy respect for all those higher than her and an a camaraderie temperament for those at her level and a motherly-teacher sort of approach to those younger than her.

Haruno, Sakura was really good at what she did. And on top of that she was the Hokage's former student and that meant she mattered to Leaf Village, so the fact that she was willingly his escort to each event he attended in said village should that there was a strong relation, one he was not willing to jeopardize just because his council didn't like the fact that she was a kunoichi and because she was not of notable decent.

So not for the first time that evening, he commanded their silence, "Haruno is and always will be my escort."

"She has no experience at being a good escort." One of his advisors through back.

He frowned, this was another one that they liked to use. While the rosette could indeed get things done as far as being an ambassador went, she wasn't as good at anything political. The young woman could not for the life of her, seem to remember the difference between foreign policy and diplomatic behavior. They were not one in the same and he was constantly having to remind her on each of their outings. But it was small things, ones that were always overlooked and really anyone but him even noticed.

It was one of the things that had intended to rectify really soon if she didn't figure it out for herself.

"She was not raised in courts, but she has not offended anyone nor are her mistakes blatant. She will correct it on her own. Are there any other objections?" Sea foam eyes turned from one face to the next, daring them to say anything more on the subject.

They did not.

He nodded, more to himself than to them, "Good. Then I will return before the end of the week."

And now he was running over an hour late and cursing it because he knew how hyperactive the pinkette's mind was and how easy it would be for it to jump to the conclusion that he was hurt or something else of the sort. He found her just as he crossed a large almost meadow-like clearing, not too far outside the village gates but still something a walk to get back to them. She stopped all of a millisecond after he did, her green kimono rippling slightly at her sudden stop but she kept her footing easily even on the black high heels she was wearing.

She was quick to bob her head, keeping her body straight as she bowed respectfully to him, straightening almost before she was finished making the motion. And then she was hurrying forward until she was a few feet before him. He could see her relief in the set of her shoulders and the way her smile was one of ease and not strictly polite and detached. The young woman was simply not made for detached, even though most diplomats could muster it, she seemed unable to do so. She could do polite and professional well enough though, and that was what she had made due with.

"Gaa – Kazekage, I'm so glad you are alright." She didn't stumble over her wording as much as she had the first time around but she still had to catch herself when it came to addressing him. It was one of the many small things that she really did need to correct and stay correct on. It was also one of the few that he could do nothing about because it was all her. Unless he wanted to take extensive measures and he didn't think that was quite necessary.

Her green eyes turned assessing as she glanced over him, clearly making sure he wasn't wounded in any way. He knew from experience that if he was, she would obstinately demand he let her tend to it until one of them gave way and even though he was infamous for his ability to stand firm once he'd chosen something, she nearly always got her way. Another thing that needed to be fixed, but since she wasn't one of his ninja rather than Konoha's he hadn't seen fit to do anything about it either. Especially since he knew that she did it because she viewed him as friend and wanted to see him without any injury at all. Though he supposed a portion of it did have something to do with her compassionate nature.

"I am uninjured."

She made a noncommittal noise in the back of her throat and after a moment returned her eyes to his, a brilliant smile that was a slight sheepish though in no way apologetic lit her face, "Never hurts to make sure."

He thought about simply nodding, letting the whole subject drop right there. Normally he would. But he decided now was a good a time as any to address all the nitpicky problems with her behavior as his escort. So instead of starting for the Konoha gates, he took to strides forward, eating up the space between the two of them just like that. "I was held up by my council. They feel you are not a proper escort."

Sakura recoiled slightly, as if she'd been struck. The close proximity between them clearly not a factor at all and she didn't even step back. As quickly as she had reacted, her face melded back into its normal countenance – a simple smile. Though she underlined it with curiosity. "Oh, may I ask why that is?" Her tone held a slight edge that her posture didn't, and he was reminded of the fact that she didn't like to be looked down on for any reason by anyone. It was something he admired about her, but it was also something he knew would get her in trouble sooner or later; provided it hadn't already.

And he certainly didn't like to be on the receiving end of it. Though he couldn't say he didn't like ruffling her feathers, it was more than a little amusing to see her all puffed up and prickly, especially when he knew that it was indignation not her really fury and therefore, no harm would be done.

He kept his eyes directly on hers, so she would know that he agreed with they had said, so she would know he was serious. "You're not exactly what's expected of an escort. Especially since you're mine to each of these events."

She tilted her head, "So basically, since I'm from Konoha, not an official ambassador and am an escort for you, the Kazekage, no matter how good I'm doing, I have to do more than is expected."

Sea foam eyes didn't so much as blink, "And you are not even at the expectation line."

Her lips fell into a scowl, looking like she really wanted to cross her arms and huff. Instead she opted for letting her green eyes wonder for a few moments before coming back to his, more resolved than they had been when he brought it up, "Well, I've never known you to start a topic without a reason. So I'm assuming you're going to do something about my 'not up to snuff' manners?"

If he didn't know better, he'd say she was sulking. But he ignored it in favor of responding, nodding curtly as he did so, "Correct. If you wish to keep being my escort of course."

This time, her eyes narrow, "I was under the impression that I'm continuing to be you're escort because you want me to."

It was his turn to frown. Certainly, he had requested specifically that she be his escort, but it was because Uzumaki had told him that she would be perfect for it, better than any of his advisors or anything. Gaara knew she was adept in her field and that she was a very quick learner, not to mention she was widely known as the Godiame Hokage's student so he had figured that it would be worth a try. The first time she had clearly been awkward, but by the end of the night she had grown comfortable in her skin. The second time she had been surprised, but agreeable all the same and by the third time she had exasperatedly asked if they were going to make it a pattern.

She'd never objected, never complained, and she had seemed comfortable enough that he would request her services again. After all, she was more than just politely pleasant. Sakura was easy to get along with, amusing and could hold a decent conversation. She was very opinionated, most of the time with interesting and refreshing stand points, but she didn't feel the need to argue or fight over it though she did stand by her beliefs. She was open minded and curious, willing to stick her nose into it if she was allowed.

"And I was under the impression that you more that willing."

This time, she did huff. "True, but I didn't sign up for this. Besides, what's wrong with my behavior?"

"Arguing with the Kazekage in public?" He suggested idly.

"Bold. But not unheard of, and I'm not being disrespectful."

"You continually have to remember to catch how you address me."

She pressed red lips, green eyes still full of life and determination, "It's automatic. I'm working on it."

"Fix it. You tend towards foreign policy rather than diplomatic behavior."

"You've mentioned that." She told him dryly, "But again, it's a knee jerk reaction, I'm an ambassador not an advisor."

No matter which way he looked at it, she knew where she was messing up and she was honestly working on fixing her mistakes. If he wanted it the way it should be, he was going to have to compromise. He was going to have to teach her, rather than let her figure out what she was doing wrong and fix it by her own means. After all, his approach clearly wasn't working, so a new one was in order.

Especially since he really didn't want a new escort. Sakura was good enough for him and more than just tolerable, he liked having her around because she made the day or night go by faster and made it less suffocating to be in for any amount of time.

Decision made he focused intently on her, ignoring the way her perceptive eyes caught the change immediately and became wary. "They will be fixed now."

Her face twisted with her shock, "But–"

He already knew what her protests would be though, "We are already late, a little longer will not hurt. In fact, I've already sent a bird ahead; Tsunade knows I will be late."

"How–"

"I will assist you in fixing all the small problems that you have."

She stared at him for a long moment, clearly baffled. But she'd been in his presence enough that she'd already told him that he was quite blunt. Which was true, there was no reason to beat around the bush so why do it?

Finally, he watched as she glanced behind her in the direction of the gates before nodding, looking more like she'd agreed to fight on a battlefield than learn a few lessons in behavior. "Well, considering I don't think I have any real chance of getting out of this, then let's get started. What's first?"

Gaara didn't even blink, not the slightest perturbed with her. He was used to her acting this way when she realized she was trapped into a situation she wasn't too fond of being in but didn't mind going through it all the same. He knew her transparency was something that he should probably cover while they were doing this, but when the opportunity arose, he found he didn't want to. That was one transgression that he realized he didn't want to correct, so he let it be, knowing that no real harm would be done in such a choice. Besides, he liked being able to tell what got under her skin and what made her blush.