Chapter one: Fight or Flight

"Neji Look out!" I screamed to the hyuuga that was team tens leader in the forest of death. Neji jumped sideways and just missed getting jabbed by the poisonous stinger of a mahabe` forest wasp. The top most dangerous wasp in the area of the hidden leaf village
For the most part it looked like a standard wasp but was sort of greenish-blue in color and had no eyes that were visible to a ninja's sight and stood 10ft. "Biakugon!" Neji shouted and veins appeared on the sides of his eyes and in his eyes. Neji was so hot some times.
He came at the wasp and landed 15 stone hard blows on the wasp's nerve system, stunning the monster long enough to jab a kunai knife through its heart. It bled black and tumbled to the ground with a high pitched shriek. Me, Neji, Rock lee and TenTen stared at it for a moment then my gaze fell on Neji who was clutching his left shoulder
"Neji! You're hurt" I cried and rushed forward removing my medical bag as I moved. Neji had moved so fast, how was it possible that the thing had stung him without me catching it? I rummaged through my bag to find the anti-venom for the wasp.
I found it and filled the needle as much as needed and looked at the injury. It was black and venom was bleeding out, white. I stuck the needle in him and smiled as the fast acting serum began to eat away the infection. Neji grunted and gritted his teeth. "Holy damn that hurts" he growled.
I removed the needle once the entire white toxin was gone and bandaged his shoulder after applying an ointment to keep the wound from getting dirty or infected. "Thanks Moriko" He whispered "You're welcome Neji" I whispered back and flipped my silky black hair back over my shoulder. Neji stood and I rose with him. TenTen snorted but Lee was ecstatic " very well may have just saved Neji-sans life with your sharp eyes and fast reacting" "She did save my life Idiot….that wasp's venom is 99.9% lethal" Neji snarled and Lee fell silent.
We kept moving only stopping at dark. We built a fire and I cooked up some fish and some of the few edible plants in the dark forest. We ate in silence and I changed the dressing on Neji's wound before we went to sleep. I stood guard. Hidden in the tree above my teammates
I never told them I was born and raised in these woods. Existence unknown to anyone but my mother- A sand Ninja and my father- A sound ninja- who were now dead The hokage of the leaf village had found me upon coming through the forest to see if it was worthy enough to be stage two of the chunin exams.
My tales of the deadly animals and plants, quicksand pits and snagging vines had helped him to choose it. I was not supposed to be helping Neji and his team in any way. But I was. I would help straggling groups I spotted here and there too. But only this team knew my name.

I watched the flames dance and awaited the time when they woke. I couldn't sleep for if I did I would be unable to watch over and protect my newfound friends. I whistled and Hadwin my red tailed hawk appeared silently and with a soft caw he landed on my left shoulder which had extra layers of the same soft hide as my Tunic to protect my shoulder from his Talons.
Hadwin eyed the team bellow me "they are friends" I assured him when his black tipped feathers ruffled and rose up. Instantly he relaxed. I was able to sleep with Hadwin keeping watch.
The next morning we ate breakfast and I introduced the team to Hadwin and they moved on with me and Hadwin tailing them. Suddenly Hadwin let out a terrified caw and took off "What the-"I wondered "Hadwin is never afraid" I protested.
"Anoka mythoi" I whispered and closed my eyes making the hand sign for "eye" and pressed two fingers over my right eye. Hadwin's eyes became mine. He was fearfully watching a group of sand ninja's. One was a blond female with her hair pulled up in four different ponytails and carrying a large fan. The other was a dark haired guy with a hood on his head and paint on his face with a puppet wrapped up securely and strapped to his back.
But these two were not what had Hadwin scared. It was the boy with longish, crimson red hair and the kanji for love on his forehead. His eyes were a sea foam green combined with extremely light blue eyes. His eyes were surrounded by black.
He wore a gourd of some kind on his back. His sinister eyes glanced at Hadwin and his eyes narrowed. Hadwin flew away. I returned to my own body and called for Hadwin who came to me quickly. Nestling against my neck and shaking badly "what's wrong with Hadwin? Moriko" TenTen asked "That red haired sand ninja must be really bad and powerful to frighten a honah fire-hawk" I whispered. Just then that same team appeared
the red heads eyes fell on me with a coldness I never thought existed I glared back at him. His female teammate's eyes widened and she whispered to her puppet master friend. I heard a little of the boys reply "Child of the forest" was all I heard. Suddenly the red head targeted Neji and sand began to spill from his gourd.
Hadwin cawed and fluttered his wings fearfully a slow, sadistic smile crossed the boys face. Without thinking I stepped up in front of the team. Their skills were nonexistent next to the chakra level coming of this guy. Red chakra He held a demon in him. "Gaara please
don't do this. You won't defeat her" The woman cried "oh that was helpful Temari. Now he's sure to take them out" the dark haired boy snapped.
The one called Gaara curled his lip in a feral snarl. I slipped Hadwin a couple food pellets and he flew into the air growing twelve times bigger than the biggest of wild hawks. He turned strait black with blood red eyes. I yelled as a familiar pain shot through me. The poison bond between us was growing stronger. We shared the same strength and weakness and abilities now. Big black wings sprouted and unfolded to a fourteen foot wingspan and black pinfeathers grew on the back of my neck, arms and legs. My teeth became like razors and my nails grew to look like Hadwin's. Hadwin cawed to me and I replied shrilly. This caught both teams off guard.
"Leave now or die" I hissed. My eyes turned blood red and the boys chakra controlled sand lashed out at me. I jumped up and Hadwin dove down but the sand caught him in a vise and began to squeeze I screamed in pain and hit the ground. The boy Gaara's smile widened
"Gaara...Gaara stop this please!" Temari screamed as I struggled to free myself and Hadwin The red head ignored her. "Please it for me…for your sister" Temari yelled. Gaara sighed angrily and suddenly my bird and I were free.
"Moriko are you ok?" Neji asked as I began to cough. Hadwin flew high and I felt air re-enter my lungs. He had known what to do. I stood and Glared at the redhead as I began muttering the words of the forest. I was suddenly wearing a short skirt of poison Ivy and a top to match held on me by vines that spiraled down my arms and then down my legs to form shoes. Another Vine was enlaced in my hair which was now braided my feathers and wings disappeared and I held a vine whip that was covered in poisonous thorns.
Hadwin flew low and I jumped on his back. I could sense the awe coming from Neji's team and the fear of the blonde and brunette on Gaara's team. I screamed and lashed out with my whip. Coming through the boys sand barrier and wrapping around him. His eyes widened as I yanked him up to where my face with its red, poison coated lips was inches from his
"One word from me and this Vine will inject you with two quarts of poison to which only I hold the cure. So I suggest you listen and listen good…Leave me and my friends alone, when I put you down….turn and walk away" I snarled in a whispery voice like a light breeze through a willow field.
He did not reply so I unraveled the vine and let him plummet a few feet. Only his sister's helpless, agonized scream compelled me to sigh and flick out my whip to catch him and lower him to the ground safely. "Gaara Let's go…" Temari ordered and Gaara turned on her
"Do not order me…as far as I'm concerned…I have no family" he hissed. Temari shrank back and nodded fearfully. Gaara walked past us. His angry eyes never left mine till he was out of sight. I sighed and got up on Hadwin's back. "Where are you going?" Neji cried
"nowhere…I just Tire of walking now and then" I shrugged and hung my whip from a loop at my hip and grabbed hold of Hadwin's feathers. I dug my heels in gently and he took to the air. I heard Neji gasp. Then finally they came to the building and concluded the stage two exams.

Chapter two: final exams

"Good luck to you all" I muttered as I dismounted Hadwin and walked with Neji and his team to the door.
"You will not be watching the final exam then?" Lee asked. "No. I must repair the damage to my forest that your people have caused." I declined. The three of them sighed in disappointment.
"It has been a pleasure to travel with you all. But I must go" I said and mounted Hadwin. "What if that Gaara kid is in there? We don't stand a chance…Plus, Neji is still injured." TenTen pleaded weakly. I sighed "please Moriko" Lee pleaded
"Guys…Moriko is the forests protector, she has to repair our damages to her home" Neji snapped. "Ok" they sighed and went inside. Neji turned to go then stopped and looked at me "Thank you forest child" He said. I nodded nobly and flew off on Hadwin.
The damages to the forest were not too bad. A few fallen trees and scorched earth from fires lesser fish and many dead ninja and animals. The fallen Ninja I brought to the gate of the forest.
It took less time than I thought to fix up my home. So I flew to the building at its center and Hadwin shrank to fit on my shoulder. When I entered, TenTen and Lee ran up to me "Moriko! Come quick! It's Neji!" TenTen cried. They ran ahead with me on their heels.
They brought me to desperately ill Neji who was placed on a pallet "Moriko is here now Neji…Its ok" TenTen whispered and placed her teammates head in her lap. I sent Hadwin after my med kit and he returned almost the same instant he left.
I removed Neji's soiled bandage and flushed the wound with ever-hot spring water. Causing the brave boy to wince I injected more anti-venom into him and applied the protective ointment. Then re-bandaged the wound, I slipped Neji a pill to cool the fever and return his strength.
Just then the blonde Temari girl walked over. An expression of fear and worry and pain on her face, Hadwin gave a warning and Temari discontinued her advance "Please ma'am…my brother, Gaara…He is ill and weak. Please help him to heal, before he can no longer fight against….it" she pleaded.
Something told me to help him and fast so I raced over to where her team was gathered around Gaara. Forcing him to keep awake, that's right he was a demon vessel. I laid my bag on the floor and tried to get close to him. His sand warded me off "I'm trying to help you shukaku….before this boy dies and you with him" I whispered. The boy's sensei looked at me, gapping.
"Yes I'm aware of the raccoon demon within the boy" I sighed and tried again to touch him. This time sukaku allowed it. I removed the boys blood coated shirts and examined the trio of slash marks across his torso. "Marahlago" I whispered the name of the forest shadow with a hatred years old. "Can you get him up and fighting again?" His sensei asked "yes. But the healing method is…very strange and painful" I warned
"just get it over with" a gruff voice whispered. Gaara, I nodded reluctantly and produced a dagger from my pack. I washed away the blood and sand from the wounds with spring water. And then grabbed the dagger and proceeded to draw the sharp blade over my arm and allowed the blood to drip into the wounds then into a bottle of hot spring water.
I added a few healing herbs and a drop of the anti-venom I made from forest shadow blood- collected the hard way mind you- and shook the bottle. I poured the mix onto the wounds and Gaara did his best not scream.
After that I drank some myself. Leaving it on my lips I bent over him and kissed him gently.
Temari and her brother along with their sensei looked at me as though I were mad. "I told you it was strange" I pointed out "and painful" Gaara growled. And a short while later. The wound was reduced to three scars.
I gave Gaara's sensei a pouch made of leaves "Inside there are ten pills. He must take one each day after today until there are no more left for the healing to be complete if not. He will spend the rest of his life in so much pain he will be hospitalized…..permanently" I ordered.
The man nodded. I helped Gaara to his feet and Temari embraced me. "Thank you" she cried. Gaara rolled his eyes and folded his arms across his chest. He nodded at me. He was expressionless but there was something in his eyes that had not been there before. But what,
I stayed for most of the matches Until Neji sent Hinata Hyuuga out on a stretcher. This made a sort of half smile cross my lips. Just when I was about to leave Gaara was called to battle Rock lee. I decided to hang around. Gaara nearly KILLED Lee and I smiled.
He must have sensed my presence because Gaara stared right at me before he returned to his sensei and brother and sister. My heart had fluttered unreasonably at his steely gaze and the small, sadistic-looking smile that had formed on his lips as he watched the broken and bloody Lee get carried away.
I blinked rapidly and realized Hadwin was looking at me. "What?" I asked and he ruffled his feathers with a caw that could only be a tease. I stuck my tongue out at him and he look to the air, surprising some of the ninja gathered and banked back to let me jump from my perch onto his back and fly through a large, open window.
I flew deep into the forest where a large tree sheltered a decades old house that was shabby but livable it was my home. Hadwin shrunk again and flew through the door as I opened it. Inside the walls were made of rock, A huge fireplace took up most the western wall, a wooden couch with rabbits skin cushions sat not far from it.
The rabbits had died of natural causes and I had put the hides to use. A door in the north wall led to a bedroom. I went into my room as Hadwin settled on the back of the sofa. My bed frame was made of wood and the mattress of the soft, skinned deer hide and hemmed with rabbit fur. The pillows were made of skinned deer hide too.
I sighed and lay my pack on the stone floor. Then Lay down on the bed and gave a heavy sigh. I must have dozed off because the next thing I knew my eyes were flying open at the sound of angry caws and a rush of wings from Hadwin in the main room. I ran to the door after grabbing up and readying my bow and arrow.
I entered the front room cautiously and my hawk flew to my shoulder. His angry black eyes watched the door.
Then I felt it too. That chakra level how had anyone found me? I opened the door hesitantly. It was the sand ninjas led by that red headed kid Gaara.
I huffed irritably and opened the door wider. "What do you three want?" I snarled. This Gaara kid was responsible for most of the damage done to my forest.
Gaara stood a few paces behind his siblings with his arms crossed over his chest and an angry, murderous expression. His siblings stood at my door. "Kankuro and I would like to thank you for saving our…less thankful brother and keeping shukaku from escaping" Temari smiled and Kankuro nodded.
"Whatever…if you really want to thank me take your demon and be gone from my forest" I hissed. I saw Gaara stiffen and dig his nails into his arms. I smiled at him cockily, he glared.

"But we were hoping you would come with us to the sand village" Kankuro protested

"no" I snapped and closed the door. I watched them leave from the window, Hadwin screed softly and I scratched his head before turning away from the window and sat by my fire. Slow roasting a rabbit while Hadwin dinned on the meat raw, I boiled some grass with hazel nuts and burdock root and ate that with flat bread and wild strawberries for dessert.

Chapter Three: Sand Village

It had been a year since the chunin exams from the villages and my woods had been quiet. My daily life consisted of flying above the trees, hunting, fishing, picking berries and other edible plants, fighting of attacking creatures and mending my forest with healing powers.
I couldn't understand it, I was actually bored. I'd always been content before the chunin exams sent hundreds of ninja running around my home. But only one stuck in my mind. Gaara,
The dark, mysterious, temperamental, and not to mention hot, seventeen year old sand ninja that always made my heart flutter and my skin tingle with merely a glance. I thought back to kankuro's offer and wondered what his Village looked like.
That made my mind up. I whistled for Hadwin and flew back to my house. I grabbed up some skinned rabbit and deer hide and made a pair of tight fitting rabbit hide pants that laced up to my knees on the outside with deer hide leather strips and the ends of the legs were lined with rabbit fur on the outside.
I then made a long sleeved shirt with a waist that come just an inch bellow my bust and laced up to the elbows on the arm and a v-cut neck and it tied around my neck to hold the torso in place. I died the outfit a deep red using special berries and the juices of certain flowers.
I did my hair up in a tight braid and pulled on a pair of boots made of black snake skin with a soft deer hide on the inside I walked outside and mounted Hadwin. Who was sporting a kind of rope around his torso for me to grip? I gripped the rope and Hadwin took to the air.
Flying as high up as I could allow, we flew for hours before the sands of the desert came into view. I'd seen so much in the past few hours. Hadwin let out a screaming caw and when I looked down I saw Temari and kankuro. Both with new attire, waving,
I directed Hadwin to fly lower then land. Temari embraced me instantly "Oh my sands!" she cried "It took a year but you finally decided to show" Kankuro teased and I slugged him in the shoulder
"I inexplicably became bored with my surroundings…I couldn't believe it" I laughed. "Well I'm sorry to say this but I'm glad" Temari laughed "it's ok"

"yeah me and Temari are Jonin now…..Gaara is kazekage"

I stared at kankuro "wow"

"Yeah…well c'mon lets go let him know you're here" Temari said and we walked toward the center of the village where the kazekage tower was. The buildings were made of sand packed over wood and a few stones.
They led me up to the top of the towering building and Kankuro knocked on the door. "What" came a familiar, gruff voice, "Kazekage-sama, its Temari and Kankuro…We have someone here we want you to meet, may we enter?" Temari called
"Make it quick…I've got a lot to do today" came the irritable reply. Temari pushed open the door and inside the room was dark except for the few candles that provided light. Gaara stood by a wall made entirely of glass. Outside the desert was dark but light by a full moon and millions of stars. Gaara wore baggy, camouflage pants and army boots and was just pulling on an army green, long sleeved shirt.
His hair was a mess and a few locks fell over his left eye so the kanji on the right was still visible he looked angry. The light of the full moon illuminated his pale skin and darkened the black around his eyes.
"What the hell do you want Temari?" He growled

"Hello kazekage-sama…An old friend is here to see you" Temari replied and Kankuro moved aside so the young kazekage to see me. Sand swirled angrily around him. My right hand twitched and I felt my silver dagger slid down my sleeve into my hand.
"If anyone has a right to get angry it's me kid so do not even go there" I snarled. "Now now children play nicely" Kankuro stepped in and Gaara fixed him with a murderous, steely gaze. I stifled a laugh at kankuro's expression. "What is your reason for coming here?" he demanded "not to fight with your sorry ass if that's what you're asking" I snapped back
Hadwin cawed in agreement and Gaara's face darkened "Oh grow up already….kid" I snapped and rolled my tri-colored eyes. Temari and kankuro busted out laughing but Gaara silenced them with a look. "I came to visit with Temari…but she insisted on me dropping by. Ok so just shut up" I snapped when Gaara was about to speak.
"Let's get out of here" I muttered to his siblings and we left. We went and got ice cream then Kankuro showed off with his puppet and Temari with her fan. I showed off with Hadwin and we just had a blast. We had lunch at a restaurant and then Kankuro went with some of his friends and Temari took me on a shopping spree.
I had never seen clothes like the ones Temari showed me and helped me choose. "Gaara's eighteenth birthday is six weeks from now by the way and there will be a huge dance and feast. I think it only suitable that the woman responsible for saving the kazekage's life to be there" Temari said cheerily
"Uhh…" I hesitated "No…you can't so no...You just have to be there" she argued when she saw my expression. "ok fine" I sighed. She lugged me into a dress shop and let the black haired girl that worked there take over.
She took my measurements and then looked at my skin tone and eyes. They were a combo of grey and deep blue topaz. My skin was pale but not too pale. The girl constructed a flowing gown of silver that trailed a bit on the ground. It had a lace up back of deep blue satin ribbon.
And was hemmed with the same deep blue, She accessorized with silver gloves hemmed in blue that came above my elbows, silver strappy heels, and a choker made of hundreds of small, deep blue topaz gems.
Once I was all set the girl packed up the dress and accessorizes and Temari paid for it. We went back to the tower that night and I camped in Temari's room and we stayed up, sharing childhood stories and giggling. The stories Temari told showed me how Isolated my life had been but I didn't care because my way of life taught me superior survival and combat skills.
My stories of life in the forest seemed to mesmerize the little village girl. I even recounted the day I found Hadwin as a struggling chick who had fallen from the nest and raised him to be the bird he is today. And was sure to point out that I was two, Temari even filled me in on the Kazekage
"people were always so cruel to him, and I and my brother were no different. Parents kept their kids away from him and made them afraid to be anywhere near him….We all called him a monster and a demon, Now I regret it because now….now he really is a monster" Temari whispered. Teary eyed.
"when he was only nine our father tried to have him killed but shikaku…the one who loves only himself fought back where Gaara couldn't and killed the men That father sent after him…it was our sensei's Idea to transform Gaara into a weapon…and to teach him to control shikaku and the sand that protects him."
I was appalled by this information. "I should have tried to protect him…instead I helped to create the monster that he has become instead of trying to keep him from becoming the monster we all feared." Temari was in tears and I made no move to comfort her. I now understood the reason for Gaara's darkness and why he said he had no family.
I should try being friendly with him instead of letting him anger me, We went to sleep shortly after that and I woke way before the sun the next day. I found my way around Temari's room and slipped on a thin, dark blue sun dress with long, split sleeves that had white cloth between the blue. And the V-neck of the blue was filled in by the white.
At the elbows was thin gold ribbon. Barely noticeable, I un-braided my hair and let it fall in black silk waves down my back and over my shoulders. I took my super-long bangs and tied them in the back.

Chapter Four: not really enemies. Not quiet friends

I pulled on a pair of small white sandals and left the room. Somehow I found myself on the roof. Watching and waiting for the sun to go up. I sat down with my legs curled against me. And looked out over the desert, It was gorgeous.
A soft shuffling sound made me jump and I grabbed my dagger that hung at my waist. But it was only Gaara. He had stopped when he saw me. "You can sit down you know. It's not like I bite" I muttered and he warily sat down beside.
Propped up with his arms behind him, one knee up and a slight slouch to his posture, He was actually relaxed it seemed. Neither of us spoke as the sky began to lighten. "Beautiful isn't it?" I asked as the first rays came into view on the horizon.
"I suppose it is" he muttered gruffly. I fell silent again and just that small exchange had eased the sense of discomfort I felt. I caught myself looking at him from the corner of my eye and wondering what was going through his head. He glanced at me and I looked away.
But Gaara had looked at me. Why? What could he be thinking that would compel him to look at me? Even a glance I risked another glance a few minutes later and he was looking at me again. We both looked away though I blushed scarlet. About three or four more times we caught each other looking at the other.
"Have you always lived here?" I said. Accidentally blurting a question that entered my head "Yes" He muttered. I had not expected a reply. "Did you always live in those woods?" he countered "yes" I nodded. And again conversation ended but it was even less awkward than before to sit in silence with him.
The sun was up even more by now and its light fell on Gaara making him seem surreal and even more beautiful than the moon had the previous night. Again I wound up watching him. But caught myself and focused back on the rising sun and tried to ignore the butterflies somersaulting in my middle.
"Did you sleep well?" he asked suddenly "as much as can be expected in a new place miles from my forest" Replied I. He nodded and we were quiet. It was beginning to get hot out when I stood and brushed off my skirts "see you around Kazekage-sama" I said with a bow of my head and he nodded back.
I had just come of the stair case when Temari popped up in front of me "There you are Moriko! I've been looking for you" she cried "where were you?"
"I was on the roof watching the sun come up" I explained shortly and Temari nodded. Then suddenly, Gaara passed us. Coming off the roof, Temari's eyes widened and a huge grin spread on her lips "watching the sun up indeed" she teased
"TEMARI! I can assure you that it was nothing of the sort!" I cried indignantly as I read her expression. "I know I know…you two can't stand each other….but a girl can dream and hope for her brother can't she?" Temari laughed and I shoved her playfully
she laughed harder as I rolled my eyes "well come on…lets go find something to do" she giggled and we took off down the hall. As we ran we passed Gaara and my hair lightly brushed his shoulder. Causing the young kazekage to stop and watch as we disappeared around a corner.
Temari and I wound up getting a manicure and a pedicure and Temari had the rough spots scrubbed smooth on my feet and hands. "A woman with calloused hands and feet can hardly be considered appealing in a dress like the one you will be in soon."
"But the gloves-"I started to point out but she waved me away "not the point" she scolded "I know" I sighed
and forced myself to be still. Next they trimmed the dead ends off my hair. But you couldn't tell. With that done Temari and I went out for lunch. I got so many stares and compliments it was insane!
Temari wasn't lacking them either. We walked around the village then went riding through the sands outside the bigger-than-I-thought village. That was a blast. I even treated Temari to a ride on Hadwin's back. We didn't return to the tower until two hours before sun down and that was just because I wanted to watch it go down from atop the roof. Temari and I parted ways. She to find her boyfriend shikamaru and me up to the roof,
What I wasn't expecting was to see the kazekage crouched low on the chimney. Watching as the sun began to fall. He looked up quickly at the sound of my feet on the tiles. Seeing only me he turned back to the sun and I felt tense all over again. But I shrugged it off and sat a few feet from him.
We watched in silence as the sun fell and the moon rose up. A quarter moons, a blood moon I heard Gaara whisper something under his breath and looked up at him "Pardon?" he looked at me as though he had forgotten I was there.
"Nothing, I was not speaking to you. Leave me be" he growled shortly "must you always be such an asshole?" I demanded "and I wondered why people call you a monster" with that I turned and ran. While I ran my foot slipped on a loose shingle and I fell.
Then suddenly a rope of sand wrapped around my waist. And something grabbed my arm. I looked up and Gaara had a hold on my wrist. He pulled me up and I brushed the sand off me. "I would have been fine without your help" I snapped. And continued to retreat,
I thought I heard him mumble something about dreams but chose to ignore him. I didn't tend to handle assholes lightly. When I came into Temari's room and slammed the door
"egotistical, self-centered, demonic fucking ASSHOLE!" I screamed at the empty room and prayed to whoever the hell was listening that he heard me. There was a knock on the door and when I opened it kankuro was leaned against the frame "so…tell me what you really think about him" "who said who I was talking about?"
"There's only one person who gets called demonic and self-centered in this house and that's Gaara…so tell me how you really feel" Kankuro laughed. "You ass" I laughed and shook my head "yes…yes I am" he joked.
I rolled my eyes and sank down on my bed. "So what happened?" he asked. "If I tell you will you shut up?" I asked ", not likely" he smiled "I just won't tolerate being spoken to like a slave…or a dog of some sort" I hissed and he gave me a curious look.
I rolled my eyes and replayed for him, the entire scene between me and Gaara. When I finished he just shook his head and muttered something that sounded like "my brother is an idiot" I stared at him and when he noticed this he shot me a sly smile.
I relaxed a bit and casually moved away from him a bit. Making it look like a switch of positions. We sat in silence for a moment then I faked a yawn "I'm kind of tired kankuro so I'm going to sleep" I said pointedly "ok...well, see ya" he uttered and slipped out of my room silently.
"UGHH!" I huffed and threw myself backwards with my arms outstretched. I heard the door open and felt Temari's chakra level. "Hard sunset?" she asked "go to hell" I snapped back " you too" she muttered.
I rolled my eyes and we got dressed for bed. I slept fitfully but dreamless.

Chapter five: Gaara's Party

The next morning we hung around the tower watching as people scurried around. Darting in and out of the ball room with decorations and all sorts of other things. At about two hours before the party Temari drug me into her room and sat me down at her dresser.
"Moriko, we have to do something with your hair" she said and began pulling and tugging at my hair, snagging it into braids, twists and curls. Eventually she had my hair swept to the left and falling like black silk in curls over my left shoulder.
Two braids ran parallel to each other on my right. The bangs on my right were twisted and curled and falling loose. There were tiny sapphires strung throughout my curls. She then set to work on my makeup. Black eyeliner, mascara, blue eyeshadow, glitter gloss, foundation and powder. She dabbed perfume on my neck and wrists
she pulled out my dress. And I slipped it on. "No...It's too long" Temari said, shaking her head. She took out her sewing kit and grabbed the hem of my skirt. She cut it off at knee level and removed both of the underskirts that were keeping the skirt flared out. She took some dark blue ribbon and replaced the trim then split the skirt clear up to my hip.
She cut out a diamond shaped piece of fabric that reveled my navel. She cut the collar of the dress even lower and put the trim back on it. I was shocked at the beautiful fairy-like girl in the mirror once Temari had my jewelry on me.
"Much better" she smiled and we nodded at each other. I pulled on my silver strappy heels while Temari put on a simple, black dress with a tie-on neck and no back. And a pair of black strappy heels. She let her hair hang loose and it shocked me how pretty she actually was.
She fixed her makeup and we headed down to the ballroom where the party was held. I was a little nervous about stepping into a room full of people after living, isolated and alone with no one but a fire hawk to talk to, and Temari saw this.
And gave me a reassuring smile. I took a deep breath and we entered the party. The walls were deep crimson and the floor was diamond cut marble. The decorations were black and red. Streamers, balloons, and all sorts of things. The music was up to date and awesome.
Temari spotted Shikamaru and went to be with him. I was still standing by the wall when kankuro descended the steps in a white shirt and brown pants and boots. But it was not him I was watching. Coming down the stairs behind kankuro was Gaara.
His hair was in the same style it had been the last time I had seen him a few weeks ago in his room. In camouflage. But this time he wore a black, button-down shirt, black pants and boots and the contrast of the color black against his crimson hair and pale skin with the black around his eyes sent chills up my spine.
Everything about the young Kazekage of the sands positively screamed 'Dangerous!" and demanded respect. He had a 'no nonsense' set to his jaw and his pale eyes gleamed with years of pain and anger. He scanned the room full of people with a look of distaste and anger.
All he wanted was to be left alone. I realized. So I made a mental note to do just that. Unless he approached me first which was not likely. He followed his older brother till kankuro took some blue haired girls hand and led her to dance.
Then Gaara stood leaned against the wall directly in front of me. His eyes met mine as the song "bring me to life" began to play. His eyes flashed with some distant memory and his eyes closed. I suddenly felt like I wanted to cry. I knew his pain. I'd been ignoring the same pain of feeling unwanted, hated, and alone all my life. Because I had loved my trees, my animal friends and enemies. But Gaara, he still had it much worse. He had no one but shukaku-the raccoon demon- close to him.
Finally, I had to look away. I felt a light breeze draft through the open window beside Gaara
and the slight tickle of sand carried in on the wind. I opened my eyes and gave a startled cry. Gaara stood in front of me. A slow, evil-looking smile formed on his lips. But I was unafraid. He didn't scare me; neither did shukaku for that matter.
Which was strange since everyone else seemed scared to death of him. Then Gaara, Kazekage of the sand village and known to everyone as 'demon or monster' Held out a hand. Asking without words for me to come to him.
I looked at him for a moment. Everyone was watching. Fear of whatever plans they thought the kazekage had for me in their heads showed on their features. Steeling myself, I smiled and took his hand. This earned several fearful gasps from on lookers and a look of surprise from Gaara. He hadn't expected me to accept such a rare offer that would have sent any other girl running. Fearing death.
They had to be shown that Gaara wasn't all bad. I mean he had to have SOME good in him, didn't he? "Far away" played as we started to dance. His hand in mine and his other on my lower back was oddly pleasant. His touch was gentle as we moved.
I sighed to show I was comfortable and relaxed. He was Tense as if expecting I was just trying to look brave in front of everyone and that I would suddenly run away screaming. I moved my free hand from his shoulder to around his neck. And put my head on his shoulder.
Several gasps and whispers followed that. The song changed to "It's been awhile" but we kept dancing. Neither trying to pull away. If he had tried to I would have let him go. But he squeezed my hand lightly and spun me around. Kankuro and Temari had ventured out onto the floor with us, with their partners. Temari looked at her younger brother, then at me. My face barely visible on his other side and she smiled.
I danced only with Gaara that night. After the first two we split for a while. Then Temari had forced us together and kankuro helped her. Which really annoyed me and eventually Gaara snapped at his siblings and they let us be.
The party lasted all night and was done by the time it was time for the sun to come up. I was too exhausted to watch it today though and had just enough energy to shower before bed. Temari was even too tired to say anything about the dance between me and Gaara.
The one where we were willing anyway. I slept peacefully for the first night since I came to the village. I woke up hours later. Late morning from the brightness of the sun through Temari's window. I dressed in a short denim dress and western boots. I pulled my hair into a braid and left Temari's room. She was already gone. I was passing Gaara's room when I heard Temari saying something "when will you realize that she's perfect for you?" she asked "leave me be Temari" Gaara's gruff voice snarled
"I just want to see you happy for once….I want to see you really smile, not that monstrous…eerie smirk you get on your face just before you kill someone either." Temari's voice was on the verge of anger. "I don't need love…love does not exist for me as it may for you and kankuro." Gaara hissed.
"You really are nothing more than heartless a monster" Temari snapped and I heard her throw something at the Kazekage who's will-powered sand blocked it, tossing the object against a wall. Shattering it. I kept moving, what girl was Temari referring to? oh well it was none of my business.
I went into the indoor garden and sat at the edge of the built in pond and watched the colorful coy fish swim around in a man-made pond that looked as though it had been placed there naturally. I took off my boots, and put my feet in the water. Missing the huge river that was part of my forest. They had placed a weather machine in the indoor garden so that it was as if the plants.
Not native to the desert were still in their needed conditions. As I sat, I thought of Gaara and how good it had felt when he held me close as we danced because we wanted to. It had been so different when we'd been thrown together by Temari and kankuro. He had been tense and anger and irritation had emanated from him.
A familiar caw from over head made me look up. HADWIN! I hadn't seen him in days! "So this is where you ran off to" I whispered and he flew down to land on my shoulder. I petted him and played with him for a while. Then we took off, through the sunroof when it opened
he flew as high as we could and stayed that high. I let my hair loose, threw my arms open wide and put my head back.

Chapter Six: fire hawk analogy

I thrilled at the feel of wind rushing past me. Hadwin's feathers under me and no one around but us and the birds. I filled my lungs with crystal clean air. I suddenly thought of Gaara. Temari had called him a heartless monster.
But yet, I had heard it beating when I placed my head on his shoulder. Gaara had a heart. It just had to be found. And if he were a monster, he would not have danced with me like he did. He would not have been as gentle as he had.
I knew that much. I knew all about Gaara from his disclaimed siblings and the village's people. I steered Hadwin to the left and we landed on the roof of the tower. He went back to the garden and I sat on the roof. The air was chilly, winter was coming.
I had been here for a month now. Yet it felt like

Forever. I left the roof after a while. I felt so blue, so alone. I nearly ran into Temari as she was coming out of her room as I was coming down the hall. "WHOA!" I cried, dodged around and kept going. My hands in my dress pockets.
I was coming up next to Gaara's door when it slid open and Gaara stepped out "May I borrow you for a second Moriko?" He muttered gruffly. "Yes Kazekage-sama?" I asked as I followed him in and he closed the door then sat at his desk, plans for what looked like redecorating a room where spread out.
He swept those up and put them aside. Mumbling something about Temari and annoyance. I stifled a laugh "What is it you needed from me Kazekage-sama?" I asked he had began looking over some kind of document.
He looked up "oh yes…Temari has brought something to my attention" he began and I gave him a questioning look "she wants to give you your own room here, and I'm going to allow it….providing you plan to stay. I will not let her waste her money putting a room together for someone who has plans to leave eventually" I blinked
"are you staying?" he demanded. I had not thought of leaving or staying. And I informed him of that.

"Well now would be a precise time to think about it"

I thought of the life of ease and beauty I had as an option here versus struggling for survival in a jungle with only Hadwin. Hadwin, my best friend, my war-bird…he loved it here. He loved the lack of perimeter and the tower's garden.
"Yes kazekage-sama….I plan to stay" I said finally. Something flashed in his pale eyes for a split instant then was gone. "Ok. I'll give Temari the go ahead and I'm warning you…there is no telling what she'll do" He said finally. "Yes kazekage-sama…Thank you" I stood and bowed "you can leave if you wish now" he said darkly and I left. I looked back over my shoulder before I stepped out. He had an elbow propped up on the desk and his forehead in his hand, fingers in his hair. Wearing that black and tan outfit he seemed to favor in various dark colors. His gourd was beside him.
He sighed and ran his hand though his hair before returning to his original position. I left his room/ office and continued my way down the hall. As I turned the corner I heard Gaara send someone for Temari.
I laughed at the worried expression of the man who hurried past me. Calling franticly for Temari. I had no clue what I wanted to do. "Hey Moriko!" I turned at the sound kankuro calling me. "Hey Kan" I smiled as he ran up to me.
A blonde haired boy and the girl Hinata who I recalled getting carried off on a stretcher after a battle with Neji were trailing him. "Moriko…this is Naruto and his girlfriend Hinata" Kankuro introduced them "you want to go catch a bite to eat with us?"
"I got nothing else to do…so why not" I shrugged and he beamed. "You guys want to walk or fly?" I asked the others once we were outside "what do you mean fly?" Naruto asked and at the same time a familiar cry filled the air "That is what she means by fly" Kankuro grinned and pointed up where Hadwin was soaring above us
"it's a bird…you can't ride a bird" Naruto argued "oh yeah?" I challenged he nodded. I cupped my hands around my mouth "chirrup!" I screamed in a bird-like screech. Hadwin screed back and dropped into a dive. Landing beside me.
"This is Hadwin" I smiled and Hadwin nudged me with his massive head "that's a honah Fire hawk….they're an endangered species…native to dark forests" Hinata gasped. Looking into Hadwin's large, golden brown eyes.
"I heard they got big if fed certain things…I saw one at one point during the chunin exams…but this one is larger than that one" "Hadwin was the only fire hawk in the dark forest. So it was him you saw…he's just a baby though so he's got a little bit more to grow" I stated and tossed him a few food pellets. "There is no way I'm riding that thing" Naruto said shakily "I-I- w-would l-l-like t-to" Hinata stuttered. "You gotta take it up with him too" I said Hinata approached Hadwin cautiously "hi-Hadwin?" she looked at me "yes that's his name…it means 'war-bird" I nodded.
"Umm…W-w-would y-you-m-mind If I f-ff-flew w-with y-you and M-Moriko?" Hinata stammered. Hadwin lowered his head to study her with an eye the size of a basket ball. Hadwin himself was the size of a full grown elephant. He crooned softly and Hinata looked to me for translation. "Pay attention" I nodded she looked back as Hadwin lowered himself and outstretched his wings.
I ran and Jumped up on him then offered a hand to her. She climbed up. Next kankuro asked and Hadwin allowed him. Naruto set off on foot. So I let Hadwin show off a bit for his new passengers. Hinata loved it. She had been studying the bird for a while now. She even knew that it was known as the king of honah's forests.
We were there long before Naruto so we had a table already. "whew..what a walk" Naruto huffed and slumped down. "Sorry, wouldn't know anything of the sort" I said smugly and fed Hadwin a piece of meat "hey..your bird shrunk!" Naruto cried "yeah…he can do that…It helps him hid..and get into small spaces" I said. Blinking with a mockingly shocked expression.
the other two laughed. The waitress came and we placed our order. The guys got involved in a conversation about going to a bull show so Hinata started asking questions about Hadwin and how hard it was for me to care for and raise him. I told her how Hadwin came to mine in the first place.
"so doesn't that mean there could be more in your forest than just him?" she asked
"no. A female fire-hawk only lays one egg every nesting and then she leaves the woods…that's it, and males are hardly existent and that's what is endangering the species. People see them as dangerous, which they can be, and so they kill them…because they can't domesticate them or understand them…so they destroy 'em" I responded
"If they can't be domesticated…how did you tame Hadwin?" she wondered "Hadwin follows me and obeys me because he wants to….Fire hawks are VERY loyal and noble creatures, I saved his life when I found him and took him in…and as a result he has attached himself to me…we literally are one and the same soul…If one of us is experiencing an emotion, the other feels it too.
when I'm in pain Hadwin is in pain…and vice versa just like, If one of doesn't like someone or something…neither does the other one. It just works that way. It's been that way between us since I first got on his back when I was nine. I think Him allowing me onto his back did something and created the bond between us."

I explained "oh…so he could leave you but with this bond between you what would happen?" she asked. "We would live on. But we would be like zombies. Feeling only pain and loneliness" I choked. "how do you know…if the bond is so rare?" she inquired.
"because he's already left me once" I mumbled and Hadwin came closer to me. Nudging my jaw. "so if one of you were to die?" Hinata probed "I would become a hollow shell of myself if he died and he would commit suicide" I huffed "and I know this because that's what happened when my sister died. Her fire hawk committed suicide….starved itself then picked a fight with a puma and didn't fight back"
I was choking on my memories and Kankuro saw this. "Hinata give it a rest" he advised. She shut up. We finished lunch, paid for it and left. The three of them went to look around town for some stuff they needed and me and Hadwin went looking around.
As I walked I knew people were staring at me. The girl their monster of a kazekage had danced with at his party, the one who had been unafraid and comfortable in the arms of a demon. They whispered too I bet.

Chapter Seven: Giving in

I went out and shopped around a bit. I bought some new clothes and shoes. I also bought some more food pellets for Hadwin and then on a whim I bought Temari a new hair kit and a big black fan with pink cherry blossoms on it and new shoes. I bought Kankuro a new pair of gloves and some wood polish for his disgruntled looking puppet, and new shoes. Then it came to Gaara. The tough one. But I couldn't just leave him out.
everyone else always left him out when he was a kid. I would not be part of that category. Finally I decided on a pair of faded black jeans, and a black, sleeveless shirt that had red on the collar and that symbol I saw on his gourd, with a pair of black boots. I paid for my stuff and headed back to the tower. I gave Temari and kankuro their stuff since I ran into them first. I found out from a kitchen maid that kazekage-sama was most likely still in a meeting with his advisers and the last kazekage.
I ran to Temari's room and pulled on a white, thin, long sleeved, off the shoulder, knit sweater. With a pale pink tank top under it, a pair of faded, worn out jeans with the knees ripped open and the start of new rips both above and below the knee and a pair of dark brown, high heeled boots, I pulled on my favorite blue jean jacket. I left Gaara's stuff on his desk.
I snatched up my IPod and went up to the roof. My favorite song " can't hold us down" by Christina Aguilera played and I sat down. Feet way apart, knee's drawn up and my arms resting on my knees and the silver IPod touch in my left hand. Ear buds in and music blasting.
my mind turned to Gaara for the third time that day. I sighed and let it go. Images of the moves Gaara pulled that hospitalized Rock Lee flashed and then that tiny smile as he looked up at me, hidden in the shadows with Hadwin. "walk away" by the same artist played and I sighed, snatched out my hair tie and let it fan out around me, laying one leg down and putting both hands on my stomach as I watched the falling sun turn the sky different colors.
I looked at the blue and red and thought of Gaara's crimson hair and pale eyes. Then a thought crossed my mind that I instantly rejected. I fought it but the realization was too powerful. I was in love with Gaara of the desert, Kazekage of the sands, and perhaps one the top most lethal, heartless, cold, unfeeling ninja in existence.
but it was undeniable. I sighed again. I thought about him. Remembering the flash of gorgeous muscles I'd gotten the night I came here. When he had been pulling on his shirt. I bit my lip and my mind went into fast forward mode. Slowing down at the party. His hands on my back. And how close he had been.
and the smell of Georgio Armani's 'Aqcua Di Gio. And blood. The realization that I had smelt blood on him and not realized it. And now I couldn't bring myself to care.
Then, suddenly, an anbu black ops ninja was standing over me. Mask still on. I jumped and propped myself up on my elbows. These guys were rarely seen. Especially up close unless you had done something bad enough to be on the death list. My heart thumped, but it wasn't fear.
was I going nuts? I wondered. then the black op reached up and removed his mask. Then I realized why my heart had not been afraid. It was Gaara. I sighed and lay back down. He crouched low and lay his mask down.
he was silent and we watched the sun. I glanced over at him and wondered what he was thinking. Then decided I most likely didn't really want to know. Considering how he was dressed and all. I studied the mark on his arm. I heard only the best became an anbu black op.
But then Kazekage-sama was known to be ruthless and merciless in killing. That was shukaku's doing though. At least I hoped it was. He closed his eyes and I took the chance to study his features in full. His lips were perfectly sculpted, not too full or too thin. The predatory look to the shape of his eyes. The way the soft wind blew his hair.
With his eyes closed he lost that criminal look and his beauty showed. The set of his jaw wasn't like it usually was. The angry crease in his brow was gone. He looked so peaceful. I thought I finally might have an Idea of why he loved to come up here. But all I could do was guess.
I was suddenly gripped by the irrational, suicide warranting, impulse to touch him. But If I did he would probably kill me. "My Immortal" played on my IPod and I felt my eyes begin to water. I didn't want him to see me cry but the power of the song, and spending early mornings and late nights watching the same sun go down outside the forest with my five year old little sister Aiko when I was nine was strong.
A single tear escaped my eye and I was startled to feel it be brushed away. But when I opened my eyes. Gaara was gone. I rolled over onto my stomach, hiding my face in the arm of my jacket and cried for the first time. I hadn't even cried the day they were taken from me.
But I cried now. I cried for hours. I must have cried myself to sleep. When My eyes opened I was in Temari's room. Laying on top of the covers. Thankfully still in the clothes I wore up onto the roof. I sat up and yawned. My clock read nine pm.
I sighed. I had a good idea of who had put me in here. But I wasn't about to say anything to anyone in case I was wrong. I got up and left the room. I could see people scurrying in and out of a room down the hall. A room right next to Gaara's .
They were totting paint supplies. Temari must have them working on my room. Then my Guess proved right when I heard her yelling at one of the workers. I just couldn't make out what she was yelling at him about. I could have been mean and poked my head in as I walked by but I wasn't that kind of girl.

Chapter eight: Orochimaru

I walked into the parlor and stopped cold. Gaara stood beside the hearth, one arm propped up on the mantel, staring into the flames and listening to whatever Kankuro was saying. I sank back into the shadows and went out through the kitchens.
I couldn't get that Image of Gaara out of my head. He had looked troubled but also angry. Then again, he was always angry. And I didn't blame him. I walked around outside for a while. The wind whipped around me and I thrilled at the feel.
I wanted to give Kankuro and Gaara time to finish their talk and leave the parlor but the desert was freezing at night. I went back inside, through the kitchens, and into the parlor. Gaara and Kankuro looked up.
I blushed and turned to go down the hall. "Moriko?" kankuro asked. I forced a look of cold steel into my eyes and turned to him "what do you want kankuro?" I asked. A look of impatience on my face. "do you know a guy by the name of Orochimaru?"
He asked guardedly " No kankuro…I lived in a forest all my life remember?" I sighed "that's right,..Thank you Moriko" he nodded. I yawned and nodded.
He motioned for me to continue on my way, and I did. "we can't know she isn't lying. All we got to go by is her word for all we know, she's working for him" I heard Kankuro say to Gaara.
I ran up to Temari's room and found every documentation On me and my parents and sister, and where we lived. Signed for authenticity by all the Hokages and Kazekage's at that time, as well as me, my mother and my father. I stuck them in a worn, brown, leather satchel and went back down to the parlor where the two ninja were still conversing "Only my word huh?" I asked and threw the satchel at kankuro. Who was seated in a luxurious looking, black leather couch.
Gaara, still standing by the hearth. Looked at me "You heard?" Temari asked. Stepping out of the shadows. "yeah" I snapped. " It's not real hard to hear him in an empty parlor talking about someone who developed extra sensitive hearing in a forest where there is danger at every bend in the fucking path"
I was close to tears out of anger. Aiko's face flashed before my eyes. I would never disgrace Aiko. Or my parents by working for someone whose very name sounded evil. Let alone his face. I did not personally know Orochimaru but I had heard of him. And his occupations.
When kankuro just stared at the satchel and didn't move or speak. "maybe…before you go judging someone and go accusing them of treachery…you should look in the mirror and ask yourself…….who's the real traitor here?, who's the real MONSTER here? And you just might be surprised what the answer is"
I could tell I hit a cord with both Temari and kankuro when I mentioned the word 'monster' which had been pointedly to refer to Gaara. Who was paying no more attention to me than a dwarf owl to the spins on a cactus.
Kankuro took out the papers and studied them. When his eyes fell on the signatures on the papers they got huge and he handed them to his younger, meaner, and more powerful in every way brother.
Gaara studied them without a trace of emotion on his face. Temari was reading over his shoulder. "Nice pedigree" she mumbled "dangerous combo" kankuro spouted. I smirked at him with a go-to-hell expression.
" guess kankuro had nothing better to do since his girlfriend is a doll….." his eyes widened and he averted them from mine. A bright blush blossomed on his painted cheeks. "kankuro?" Temari was turning red, trying not to laugh. Then, she busted. A soft, quiet chuckle graced the air for a split second.
then was gone. It took me a minute to realize that it was Gaara!, I had actually gotten a non-sadistic chuckle out of him. And his siblings didn't seem to notice or care. I looked at Gaara and smiled. Just to let him know that I had still paid attention to him.
He just looked at me. As though he couldn't understand how it was that I, a girl who'd only known him for a short while, paid more attention to his existence than his siblings. I just looked back at him. I felt like he was trying to tell me something with his eyes but I couldn't understand what he was saying.
I shot him a small smile. And he actually smiled back Sort of. His eyes flickered to the small, hourglass pendant on the chain around my neck. Then back to my face. I grabbed the necklace and stuck it back under my shirt.

He looked at me curiously but didn't speak. Finally Temari quieted. A few minutes had stretched out like an eternity during that moment of wordless communication between myself and the kazekage of the sands.
I whistled low and Hadwin came flying out of nowhere. Literally. And landed neatly on my shoulder. I smiled at him and petted the top of his head. He nipped at the tip of my finger affectionately with a soft cheep. "hey, I haven't seen him in a while" Temari mused, studying the fearsome-looking creature
"he stays in the garden mostly" I shrugged. Suddenly Hadwin cried out again and took to the air. Landing neatly on the arm Gaara had laid on the hearth of the fireplace. Hadwin was usually terrified of Gaara. I didn't spend much time pondering it.
"well….If kankuro is done trying to turn me out to be some kind of traitor…I'm going to bed before I give in to my desires and he winds up dead" I said. Making my tone lighthearted and friendly. Adding weight to the death threat I just delivered.
Kankuro Handed out my papers. Hadwin shot forward and snatched them from him. Returning to me with the strap of the satchel in his beak. I took it from him and left.

CHAPTER NINE: A secret worth keeping

I went to Temari's room. Showered, changed and fell asleep with Hadwin next to me. Again I woke an hour before the sun and I dressed in a pair of faded jeans, sandals, and a tight, crimson half shirt. And went up the ladder to the roof. As always Gaara was already there, sitting with one knee up, and the other laying flat and leaned back on his arms. He was wearing the clothes I'd bought him.
I was filled with happiness, and surprise that he liked something I bought him. I fought my smile and sat down. Close but not Too close to him. He'd topped the outfit perfectly with a backwards, black ball cap. God, someone give me a fucking camera!. We sat in silence for the longest time. But it wasn't uncomfortable. I was used to his silence. And silence in general.
"Why did you cry?" I was caught off guard, he'd never spoken before. So I couldn't ignore him. "A song I was listening to reminded me of how my little sister Aiko and I used to sit on the fence around the forest and watch the sun come up. Then later, we'd watch it go down. And that brought back memories of my mother and father" I whispered.

"so why didn't you change the song?" He asked innocently

"I couldn't bring myself to, and it was time I cried anyway"

"please explain?"

"I've never cried in my life, no matter what…not even when they were taken from me" I whispered

"what happened to them?....If you don't mind me asking" his voice was low, almost inaudible "They were murdered…by a man who's name Kankuro spoke earlier…That's why I got so angry" I murmured. Gaara was quiet again. That was the most I had ever heard him say.

"Yet, you told him you didn't know Orochimaru" He accused suddenly "I don't KNOW him, I saw him fleetingly as he left the woods….and I'd seen a photo of him among my mother's target files…I never spoke to him….A few minutes after I saw him, I found my parents and sister murdered beside the creek just outside our home" I explained. Gaara nodded understanding.
"So he killed them" It was a statement. Not a question so I did not reply. Suddenly I realized that somehow we had shifted closer to each other. I turned back to the sunrise. If I mentioned it, he would move away. Suddenly I felt something surprising, He shifted slightly and his Hand covered mine. We both jumped. Our eyes met and I blushed furiously, Only Gaara could get that kind of reaction from me.
I averted my eyes and went to pull away. But he caught my hand. I jerked my head up in surprise. His eyes were calm, but the anger that always showed was deeper into his eyes, replaced by a look I'd never seen in them before. He leaned closer, I was hit with a wave of Aqua di Gio and that faint hint of blood. My skin tingled.
I closed my eyes as his lips touched mine. Gentle, tender, barely there. When I responded jut a lightly he came closer increasing pressure, and heating the kiss. For someone so cruel and cold, he could be incredibly gentle. His lethal hands were gentle on my jaw line. He moved closer and I put one hand in his hair. Knocking his hat off. I wound up on his lap somehow but neither of us cared. I felt so safe, so content, and at ease completely.
We pulled back for air. "Our secret" He whispered. It was a statement. An order. I nodded breathlessly and we kissed again. I'd imagined several time what it would feel like to kiss him, and now that I was, It was better than I ever imagined. Passion poured off him. I knew that as soon as we left this roof, that we were back to normal, Not quite enemies but not even close to friends.
Neither of us was ready for a public relationship. After a while he turned me loose and we stood up. Ready to start our days. I turned to leave but he caught my hand, swung me back around and kissed me fiercely I smiled and he gave his usual smirk. I walked away from him reluctantly. As I ducked down to go through the low door that lead to the ladder
I looked at him and smiled. He shot a crooked smirk. I went down the ladder and was headed out when I came across Temari. "Hey…there you are I've been looking for you" she cried. Oblivious to my thought train. "Umm…ok, here I am" I shrugged "I can see THAT smartass….c'mon and follow me" she said. I shrugged again and followed her.
Temari led me to a room beside Gaara's. and took out a silver key, unlocking the door, She opened it and stood aside for me to enter. I gasped. The room was beautiful. The walls were the same shade of blue that showed in a sunset, The high traffic, plush carpet was a pretty, off-white. The king sized, Canopy bed was cherry wood, the curtains were white sheer as were the pillows, the comforter was a couple shades darker than the walls and covered in white rose embroidery.
The eight door dresser was white, as were the curtains to the large window that led out onto a third story balcony. There was a set of white, double doors that led to a closet big enough to be another bedroom. A box full of empty picture frames of all sizes This confused me until I reentered the main room and found the small digital camera and the easel and paints I found. Along with a sketch pad and everything I needed with that.
I turned to Temari I smiled "Thank you" she nodded. "don't mention it…..sister" she said and I stared a left. SISTER?. I shrugged and sat down at the cherry wood desk and took my sketch pad.

Chapter ten: A side that no one sees

I randomly moved my pencil on the sketch pad and daydreamed. Back to the rooftop with Gaara earlier. When I looked down I had a perfect sketch of Gaara. Looking just as I'd seen him earlier before we got to talking, or kissing. I'd even managed to bring to life the anger and hurt in his eyes. With color pencils.
I smiled and sat the pad down.