Summary: Things always get about a million times more complicated and rarely go the way they should when ninja are involved, so it figures that a pink haired kunoichi and the Kazekage can't even go about romance the proper way. 14 encounters following the growth of a relationship. Gaara/Sakura, contains citrus.
Disclaimer: The characters and world of Naruto belong to Kishimoto . This is a fun, not for profit endeavor.
Author Notes and WARNINGS: Since this is a backwards sort of romance the beginning bits deal with sex between people who do not love each other (this, unfortunately, does happen in real life). If this bothers you, you might not want to read this story. However, I'm a gooshy romantic, so I can't keep the WAFF away for long. N.B. Story contains profanity as well as allusions to and descriptions of sexual situations.
It's mostly instinct that leads them the first time, and it's messy, awkward, and embarrassing as they manage to grope their way together.
Hardly surprising since they're both virgins.
He's sick of being harassed by his siblings, sick of being ribbed by Naruto, sick of being stalked by fangirls, and he just wants to get it out of the way so it isn't an issue anymore and he can go back to his normal life.
She's sick of being teased too, but more tired of being left behind by everyone, again and again. Tired of being alone. Tired of having the label "romantic" hurled at her like a taunt. She spent so much of her youth chasing after Sasuke in one way or another, that by the time she realized he was far beyond her reach (both physically and emotionally) everyone else had already been through the falling in and out of love and relationships process several times.
In the shinobi world kids grow up fast, and the pair is unusual; almost 20 and still chaste.
There's alcohol involved, of course, as there usually is in such situations. Not enough to truly impede judgment, but enough to make it seem like a really good idea when perhaps it is not.
Afterwords neither one regrets it really, although its first too painful and then too uncomfortable for Sakura to really get much out of it, and the sensations (on a body unused to physical contact) are so intense that Gaara barely has time to even begin to process them before it's all over.
Gaara scowls a bit at her wince when he pulls out of her body. Even though it's mostly instinct that leads them, either he's picked up on something in the bawdy shinobi world or one of Kankuro's endlessly patient and explicit lectures has sunk in because Gaara fumbles his hand in between her thighs. It's not beautiful or perfect or romantic, but eventually he manages to do something right because she tenses and gasps and her eyes slide shut with a shudder and both decide that perhaps it's a little better when it's a shared experience rather than a solo venture.
Although their first "encounter" ended without any resolution as to where they stood and what was next, Sakura seeks him out the next time he's in Konaha.
She tries not to blush when she approaches him with a friendly greeting, determined not to let their last meeting taint one of the few honest friendships they both have. Gaara has his shadows, his darkness, as do so many of her friends, but he will never hold her friendship ransom.
For the first time in their association there's a flicker of uncertainty in his eyes. But with her reassuring smile it eases and they fall into their usual pattern of Sakura offering pleasant, lightly teasing one-sided chatter to his gruff, monosyllabic replies.
For the moment it's like nothing has changed between them, and Sakura doesn't know whether to feel relieved or insulted.
But later that evening, halfway through a dinner that has slowly picked up friends and acquaintances until it takes up half the restaurant Sakura catches him looking at her.
There's a moment of hesitance, and then Gaara resolves to let her know that he's looking and his stare becomes intense and hungry.
To Sakura's surprise heat races through her veins.
She feels him following her back to her apartment from the restaurant – a shadow on the periphery of her awareness.
This time he tries to touch her first.
He's still awkward, and obviously self-conscious as he runs his hands over her shoulders and down her arms, cups her breasts, splays his fingers over her stomach and hips. But then, she's awkward as she touches him too, and she has nothing like his excuses.
It still stings when he enters her, but it isn't the burning, tearing pain like it was the first time, only mild discomfort that is quickly forgotten when he pulls one of her knees up to rest against his ribcage and rolls his hips. She gasps in surprise and he stills looking at her in question.
"No, sorry, not a bad gasp. Good, good gasp," she manages and he moves again. From the way he watches her carefully she gets the feeling that he's been studying and she catches little flickers of satisfaction when some of the book-theory proves true in practice.
Somehow they fall into a pattern of seeking each other out whenever in each other's respective village. It isn't a firm rule, but they have a shared intimacy now that makes them more than just friendly acquaintances. Sakura shies away from naming what they have, even in her head, because trying makes her nervous and uncomfortable. It doesn't occur to Gaara to assign labels.
One of the benefits of being a ninja is being surrounded by males at the height of physical perfection. It causes a small blossom of feminine pride when they spy on the boys skinny-dipping at a lake near Konaha.
In the distance Naruto shouts, and there is a loud splash as the others are quickly shedding clothing.
"Yeah, Naruto's got nothing surprising, but take a look at Lee! I mean he wears skin tight spandex! Where does he keep that thing?!"
Hinata is blushing so hard that for a moment Sakura is worried she's going to have an aneurysm, but Tenten and Ino are giggling together, each muffling the others laughter with their hands.
Since Sakura's a medic she's seen a lot of them mostly naked anyway. But part of her purrs in licentious pleasure when Gaara drops his pants and she gets to admire in the sunlight the whipcord strength in his taught muscles and the way his ivory skin glides over his body.
Ino whistles lowly, "Damn check the Kazekage," she makes a rude phallic gesture, "whoever gets to play with that is one lucky bitch."
And since she's only had experience with one guy she never thought to wonder about comparison. She assumed the initial pain and discomfort had been all on her part for the price of virginity. But in the light of day she suddenly has a new appreciation for the man who sometimes shares her bed.
She feels a little guilty. Someone like Ino would probably have a much better idea of what to do with a powerful, intense, gorgeous man like Gaara. With the thought comes an unexpected surge of jealousy. The idea of another woman touching his body is surprisingly unpleasant.
There is doubt in her mind now, and she can't banish it. Sakura has not been a very active participant in their encounters – doing little more than holding on for the ride. What if he grew bored with her?
There's a determined glint in her eye as she kisses her way down his body, nudging his hands away when he reaches for her.
When she licks him from base to tip his entire body tenses and he's looking down at her with wide, shocked eyes.
Then he's in her mouth.
Gaara comes off the bed with a strangled snarl and a curse and his hands are in her hair as she caresses his thighs, humming in pleasure at the corded strength she can feel there.
She's nervous that she's doing something wrong and trying to remember the 'tips' she read earlier in one of Ino's trashy magazines. At least she doesn't seem to be hurting him. Gathering her courage she cups his balls and sucks hard and he makes a guttural sound like he's dying before he comes hard in her mouth.
She swallows, out of practicality more than preference, and while it's a little odd and not particularly pleasant, when she looks up and sees The Kazekage sprawled boneless in her bed, panting like he's run a marathon, and looking down at her like she's the most amazing thing he's ever seen she realizes that she likes it.
Kneeling there between his thighs she doesn't care if the idea is gross or that now her mouth tastes funny. If it will make him look at her like that, she will do this a hundred thousand times.
This is power.
She has this odd fascination with his hair, because he has so little on his body and what he does have is such a pretty color.
They're both panting lightly - one of his arms is wrapped loosely around her knee and her head is resting on his thigh. Its impossible to tell who is up and who is down in this position - sprawled catty corner on Gaara's huge bed.
She traces a finger along the dark red curls at his groin.
"Hn," he squeezes her knee to draw her attention and she blushes to find him looking down his body at her with a bemused expression.
"Your hair's a pretty color," she explains simply.
His gaze shifts and a long, pale finger traces along her bikini line as his questioning expression almost becomes a smirk, "Indeed."
He's taken to breaking and entering.
Well, not breaking and entering in general - specific breaking and entering.
Specifically her apartment.
She keeps coming home to find him sitting on her couch with his arms crossed over his chest in his usual pose, just waiting. He doesn't demand sex, but that's the understanding that's between them.
She knows that if she told him 'not tonight' he would leave without a fuss, but it's like he has some 6th sense that lets him know when she'll be coming back from a mission so worked up that her clothes will be half off by the time she can cross the distance to the couch, or when she's had a hospital shift so hellish that she fucks the frustration out on him.
Not that he minds.
It's reciprocated. Its the same way she starts to be able to read his moods; to be able to tell when he will respond better to her nails digging into his back and her teeth in his shoulder and when she should wrap herself around him and hold him as if she'll never let go.
They've come to know each others bodies very well. There's hardly any awkwardness now, and they have been together enough times, and enough time that both feel comfortable suggesting new things and indulging in experimentation. It's rare now that one of their encounters doesn't end in them both shuddering and dazed in the pleasure of post-orgasmic bliss.
They suit each other physically. Their heights are compatible, their builds, the way they fit together…
In the months since they began their "association" Gaara has begun to open up to her and Sakura is shocked to realize one day that it isn't just the great sex that makes their encounters so enjoyable, but the sense of 'comfortable' that she gets from being with him.
She's been a kage's assistant for nearly 8 years now and her best friend is a jinchuuriki – there are things about his life and his past that she understands - that he doesn't have to explain when he's with her. She can listen in sympathy when he vents frustration about his office, or is haunted by the shadows of his youth. She finds that he respects her, as he does all of Naruto's special people, but even further than that. He actually listens when he asks her to explain some aspect of her job.
Although Sakura is hesitant to give a name to what they are, she tentatively allows the thought to surface that he might be one of the best 'friends' she has.
One month her period is late.
For an agonizing four days she's on pins and needles, berating herself, a medic, for not taking better precautions.
When she wakes up with blood on her thighs she's honestly torn between relief and disappointment, and she knows that she's in trouble.
She should not be wondering what their children would look like.
It's gentle and her orgasm builds so slowly that when she finally comes she almost blacks out. She can't decide whether or not she likes it though.
Because It's too much like lovemaking - and lovemaking can break her in a way sex can't.
They've both been working themselves hard. She comes back to her apartment later than usual on a night she knows he's in town. They've been doing this…whatever it is for nearly a year now – and she makes a point of making her excuses to her friends when she knows that the he'll be around and available. Unfortunately, tonight she was pulled into a surgery near what should have been the end of her shift.
She'd been disappointed – she'd heard from Shizune that Gaara's visit was only set to last a couple of days this time, and if she didn't see him tonight she probably wouldn't see him at all. Usually if she's this late home he will have left by now, leaving only a whisper of his scent and the finest scattering of sand across her windowsill.
He's asleep on her couch.
It's almost amusing, the way he's gracelessly slumped over onto his side, arms still crossed over his chest.
She tucks a blanket in around him and while taking the opportunity to study his sleeping features (he still sleeps so little that she knows this is a rare opportunity) she drifts off, kneeling on the floor with her head on the couch.
She wakes, groggy, sometime in the night, when she's being pulled up onto the cushions, cradled against the warm body there, and covered with the blanket.
Later, Sakura will realize that this is the first time they sleep together.
He finds he likes the warmth of another body next to him while he sleeps. He makes excuses - tells himself she's too emotionally soft to kill him, and that having two people will have a better chance of alerting him to danger than just one person.
But there's something…nice…about allowing himself to fall asleep after their encounters.
He finds that he doesn't sleep as well anymore when he has to sleep on his own. He sleeps better when they're together, whether they're in Suna or Konaha (even though Sakura, not used to sleeping so close to someone, shifts around at night). He refuses to move away and give her space in the bed.
As soon as she begins to drift off to sleep he pulls her tight against his body, his arm a firm anchor around her waist.
Her breathing and heartbeat have become his favorite lullaby.
She should be at the hospital at this time - but the faint smell of blood, antiseptic soap, and tears means he doesn't have to ask why she is home instead of at work. He feels like he's intruding on the privacy of her grief, and he stands next to her window, not knowing whether to stay or go.
"Gaara, I … can you…" there's a hitching sob, a broken, hollow sound before the words come that he feels he's been waiting to hear for an eternity spent in aimless darkness, "I need you."
It feels like he's dying, this pressure swelling in his chest. For a moment he can't move even though he's telling his body to go, go, go. Then he's in front of her without remembering getting there.
It's mostly instinct that leads him. God knows he doesn't have a lot of experience in comforting people to know better, but he does what seems right, pulling her close to cradle her with his body, wrapping himself around her like a shield and she clings to him as if he is her safety and salvation. In that moment he would die for her. And it's a terrifying, thrilling realization.
He appears at her door the next day. He's never knocked to request admittance before, and Sakura isn't quite sure what to make of it at first.
He invites her out to dinner.
When they walk into the restaurant on the corner every shinobi present falls silent. She can feel him tense beside her, and by this point she knows his body well enough to read in the way he moves what he doesn't say in words. She shifts a step closer to him and casually takes his arm.
It's the same motion countless women have done countless times, a gesture both affectionate and proprietary. He shifts again and turns slightly, looking down into her eyes, and her heart nearly stops at what he reveals to her. When it starts again it feels too full, full to bursting.
By the next morning the entire city will know about the 'date'. Every ninja and many civilians will be whispering and guessing and wondering about what exactly lies between Sabaku no Gaara and Haruno Sakura.
But only the flabbergasted Hokage, woken earlier than she would like from a slight hangover with The Kazekage and her prize pupil in front of her, will know just how serious the connection is. And when Tsunade nods her assent and approval and turns away slightly (to hide that she's tearing up) she will be the first to see the way that they look at each other and will not be in the least surprised when their first child is named "Aiko".
Closing notes: I didn't have anyone in mind for who died in #13, nameless ninja #246. "Aiko" means "Love child", kind of a lame uncreative cop-out, but there you are.