This is the first chapter of my very first attempt at fanfiction! Yay! And of course, it's LeeGaara. Please read, and don't forget to review!
Gaara sighed as he crossed his arms and leaned against the window of his office. It was late, almost one thirty in the morning. Since he'd lost Shukaku to the Akastuki, he was supposedly able to sleep like normal people could. However, after a short lifetime of insomnia, he just couldn't find it in himself to sleep for more than a couple hours a night. Whenever he tried, it felt unnatural and alien. And while his sleeping periods were growing longer as time went by, he still couldn't manage more than two hours at most. That was more than enough.
Tonight, however, he found that he couldn't get any rest at all. For some unknown reason, his mind continually drifted back to the day he'd returned to the village only a couple years ago, after he'd been revived by Granny Chiyo. So many of his villagers were all gathered together, cheering and so happy to see their beloved Kazekage come home safe….
And he'd felt he closest thing to happiness in his life. A warm, almost painfully intense sensation that caused his chest to ache with fulfilled need. Even now, only a couple years after the fact, he still felt his lips twitch in an almost-smile at the memory. Is this what it was like to be loved?
He'd talked to Temari about it later. She told him yes, that he was loved by his people. That all he'd done to change himself and prove his worth to them over the years had gotten through. He existed for these people; their lives depended on him on an almost daily basis. His people loved their Kazekage.
So why was it, that he felt so lonely tonight?
Earlier, while he'd been silently patrolling the village, he'd come across his brother walking home with a kunoichi. They were both a bit intoxicated and holding onto one another as they stumbled along to Kankuro's apartment.
Before he'd seen them together, Gaara had sensed the change in his brother.
Kankuro was happier. He whistled while he worked, even while doing the paperwork he hated so much. He smiled more often. He had lost the edge to his attitude that usually characterized him, making him friendlier. He was often caught sighing and staring at nothing in particular with a dazed smile on his painted face.
Gaara had been worried about his brother at first. Sudden personality changes were usually signs of mental illness, and lord knows they'd had enough of that in their family. But when he'd brought it to Temari's attention, she'd laughed at him.
"Gaara," she said, still chortling a bit. "Kankuro's just got a case of puppy love. He'll be fine. He's just caught up in his new girlfriend."
"Puppy love?" Gaara said skeptically, his usually monotonous voice carrying a bit of an edge. The term was ridiculous, and held no meaning to the Kazekage. He did not see any humor in what he could only assume was his older brother's case of mild lunacy.
"I do not understand."
"Don't worry about it, Gaara." Temari had gently assured him. "Kankuro isn't losing his mind; he's just got his head in the clouds. He's started a relationship with a girl. Her name is Yuri, I think. It's just a phase. It should pass when he and his girlfriend get past the beginning stages of their relationship. This is a good thing. It means he may be finding his special person."
"So he is developing a bond with this girl." Gaara had stated with his brow puckered in thought. "And it is making him… happy."
Temari had resisted the urge to roll her eyes, reminding herself that her brother was still socially inept and didn't know most of the basics when it came to social interaction.
"Yes, Gaara." She had said patiently, nodding her blonde head. "That is usually why people start relationships like this. Because it makes them happy to be with another person. To gain a spouse, become intimate with that person in ways you cannot with other people, to have someone who you trust and confide in, and to ultimately fall in love with one another. That is what Kankuro is attempting to gain with this girl. But it's still too early to tell if they'll make it that far."
Gaara had been skeptical, but trusted his sister's intuition on the matter. However, he had started keeping a closer eye on Kankuro, just in case he began to show anymore outward signs of insanity. But the only other thing out of the ordinary he'd seen was that his brother defiantly was spending more time with this girl. They saw each other almost every day. And when the two would huddle close together and talk in low voices, Gaara would have the strangest urge to look away, feeling as though he was being intrusive to even see them being so intimate with one another. It was all very strange, and almost unreal. It left the Kazekage feeling very uneasy and confused.
Tonight, he had a strange ache in his chest as he thought about the new bond between his brother and the girl named Yuri. When he'd seen them walking back to Kankuro's apartment, they'd been clutching at each other so intimately. Kissing, holding hands, she'd leaned into him while he'd wrapped his arm around her waist.
Gaara had never, ever been touched that way. Even now, people gave him plenty of personal space, and did not touch him unless absolutely necessary. The villagers trusted their Kazekage, and did not fear him as much as they used to. But old habits die hard, and they'd developed this sense of personal space with him throughout years of caution and testing new waters with his role in the village.
Tonight, while attempting to rest, he'd finally understood what he'd been feeling when he'd seen Kankuro and Yuri together. The ache in his chest was jealously.
He did not want either Kankuro or his new girlfriend so intimately, not at all. But the more he thought about it, the more he realized that he was jealous of the two of them and what they had with each other. He was longing to have his own special person that way. It was something he'd never before thought himself capable of having. He still did not believe that he would have another person in that way. It was better that he forget the whole idea had ever come into his head. He should get back to bed, or attend the small pile of paperwork on his desk.
But his mind kept wandering back to that forbidden longing, wondering just what was entailed when developing this sort of bond with someone….
His attention was snapped back to reality when he heard a sharp tapping on his door. He turned away from his window. He had already sensed his subordinate's approach. He wondered only briefly what business anyone might have with him at such a late hour.
"Enter, Baki." Gaara called softly.
Baki opened the door and stepped inside Gaara's office. He nodded quickly in greeting.
"Kazekage-sama," Baki said quickly. "There is an issue along the northern perimeter. A small team has found a wounded shinobi several miles from the border with Rain Country while doing their usual rounds. The insignia on the shinobi's headband is that of Fire Country, and we brought him here under guards.
"While it could be an imposter setting a trap, we thought it best to play it safe. If he really were from Konoha, we would want to lend support to our allies so as to maintain good relations. He has not woken yet, but has medi-nin attending his injuries. I came to consult you on where we should go from here."
Gaara nodded in mute approval of Baki's actions. Tending to the shinobi was a good decision. The peace between Fire and Wind country was currently steady. However, there was still a chance that if this shinobi were from Konoha and had been left to his own devices while fatally injured, when Suna nin could have saved him, it would most likely rock the boat of the two country's treaty. And if the shinobi were an imposter, he would be easily interrogated and disposed of.
"I'll come and see the man myself." Gaara said, making his way to the door.
"Yes, Kazekage-sama." Baki said, with a nod as he followed a step behind his leader.
"Oh, good! Kazekage-sama, I'm glad you're here. The Leaf Shinobi has woken up."
Gaara had just stepped through the front entrance into the Suna Hospital when a doctor in a white coat stepped up to meet him. Baki was still just a few steps behind Gaara, keeping a respectful distance from Gaara's personal space.
Gaara nodded at the dark haired doctor, whose name tag said 'Hideki Haru'.
"So we know for a fact that he is from Konoha?" he asked.
"Well, it may be a bit too soon to tell. We still have yet to identify him, but we have someone reviewing the bingo books as we speak. If you'll come with me, I'll lead you to him." the doctor explained, sparing a brief glance at his clip board before turning down a hallway.
Gaara followed Dr. Hideki down the hallway and up a flight of stairs, listening as the man explained the condition that the patient had been found in.
The Leaf shinobi in question had sustained multiple lacerations all over his body, and a severe wound to the head. Due to the head wound, the man couldn't remember anything about himself. He did not know his name, where he came from, what he'd been doing before he was injured, or where he currently was. He was, however, very polite and energetic for someone who'd been hit over the head too hard. Or, perhaps, because he'd been hit over the head too hard.
"We're a bit worried about his mental stability." The doctor mused as they turned a corner on the third floor. "He has the oddest habits and vocabulary. He speaks very formally, and keeps referring to things as being 'youthful'. He keeps setting bizarre challenges for himself, and setting even more bizarre consequences for not succeeding those challenges. We keep trying to make him sit back and rest, but he's very strong and doesn't want to stay in bed. If he tries to get up and exercise anymore, we may have to sedate him. It's the oddest thing... we're fairly sure that's a result of the head trauma."
Gaara frowned minutely. This was sounding all too familiar. From his experience, there were only two men in the entire world that fit that description, and both were most defiantly Konoha shinobi on active duty. This most likely wasn't an imposter after all….
The doctor came to a stop outside a closed door and turned to face Gaara and Baki. He glanced at the clip board once more before giving one last warning.
"There is one more thing I should inform you before I open the door. It seems the patient is having an issue with impulse control, again due to the head injury. He cannot help but say whatever come to mind, and has done a few things without cautionary thinking. This is very out of character of a shinobi. Please be on your guard."
Gaara nodded, and then followed the doctor into the patient's room.
"But Sumiko-saaaaan! It would not be very youthful of me to sleep for any longer, I assure you that I feel fine! I must complete 72 more in bed crunches so that my body may remain in the most youthful condition! I cannot laze about!"
"No more! It's very late and there are other patients trying to rest without you running about the room and keeping them up! Your body is trying to heal, and you're only making it worse! Lay down, before we have to sedate you. If I catch you doing anything other than resting in bed, I will call in reinforcements. That's not a threat, it's a promise."
"You do not have a very youthful attitude, Sumiko-san."
Gaara stepped into the hospital room to find none other than the Konoha shinobi Rock Lee sitting in a hospital bed and arguing with a young nurse. Lee was dressed in a hospital gown, and covered in even more bandages than usual. His head in particular was heavily wrapped in gauze, and hiding his bowl cut hair style. Despite the lack of green spandex, he still wore his orange leg warmers under his hospital gown, and his headband was on the bedside table. His wide eyes were even rounder than usual as he pleaded with the nurse to leave him to his exercise.
"You can stop searching the bingo books. This man is named Rock Lee, and he is defiantly from Konoha." Gaara said to Baki, before turning to the doctor.
"The self imposed challenges and references to youth are personality traits, and not caused by the head trauma. You said he has lost his memory?"
"Yes, that's right." Dr. Hideki said as he scribbled something onto his clipboard. "Usually with cases like this, we would need to surround him with familiar things to jog his memory. If he is from Konoha, we need to send him back as soon as possible so that he may be surrounded by friends, family, and his home environment."
"Baki, send a message to Tsunade-sama. Inform her that we have Rock Lee here and the condition he is in."
"Right away, Kazekage-sama." Baki said, bowing quickly before leaving to send the message.
"I like your hair!" Lee exclaimed from his seat on the bed. He leaned around the brunette nurse named Sumiko, and was looking at Gaara with very bright appraising eyes.
Gaara turned to Lee, raising a bare eyebrow.
"That would be the lack of impulse control at work." Said Dr. Hideki with a frown. "He cannot help but say what comes to mind. Unless that's just another odd personality trait…?"
Gaara shook his head and walked to the side of Lee's bed. He ignored the nurse as she walked quickly away, giving a wide berth to her Kazekage. Many of the villagers were intimidated by his presence, and she appeared to be one of them. Lee, however, had no such inhibition and was openly grinning at Gaara in a way that suggested the head trauma was making him loopy.
"I like your hair. Red is not my favorite color, but your hair is so bright and vivid! It is very attractive." Lee complimented.
Gaara pretended not to hear that, though Lee's words gave him the peculiar urge to examine himself in a mirror. He had never heard anyone describe him that way before. Attractive? What did that even mean? Despite knowing that the compliment was ridiculous, Gaara felt something warm on his cheeks.
"Do you recognize me?" Gaara asked, his voice low and without inflection.
Lee's face grew utterly serious as he tilted his head to the side, looking Gaara up and down. He appeared to be concentrating very hard as he focused on Gaara's sandals, up his dark pant legs and coat, pausing on the gourd before moving onto the kanji on Gaara's forehead.
"You look familiar. Something about you makes my left arm and leg ache. But I do not remember your name, or how I should know you." Lee said, finally. His voice was a bit more subdued as he spoke. However, he quickly burst into a blindingly bright smile and gave a thumbs up.
"I may not know who you are, but I like you already! You have very attractive hair, and you look powerful. Is your big gourd full of water? Do you carry it on your back for training? That would be a good idea. I should do that, too. You appear to be in the full springtime of your youth! That is something not to be taken for granted! What is your name?" Lee said. He spoke a mile a minute, hardly pausing for breath between his words.
Gaara didn't comment, but set the gourd on the ground with a hefty thump, and pulled up a plastic chair to sit on.
"I am Gaara of the Desert. What do you remember before you woke up here?" Gaara asked from his seat.
He crossed his arms, and listened as Lee launched into a completely one sided conversation. Lee said that he didn't remember very much at all. He could vaguely recall a few faces and the image of lots of greenery where he lived. He said that he didn't know how long he'd been wandering around the desert, alone and wounded before the Suna nin found him. He would often bring up the most miniscule details that seemed to have nothing to do with the conversation at hand. He would comment on a bug that was buzzing at the window, Gaara's hair again, a dream he'd had about squirrels, then back to his trek through the desert. He couldn't seem to concentrate on one subject for more than a few minutes at a time. Lee mentioned more than once that he was happy to be found and brought here, but that he was not happy that the nurses wouldn't let him exercise.
"You need to rest and heal." Gaara said, standing and sliding his chair back against the wall. "You've suffered a head injury, and several lacerations. Stay in bed and relax while you wait for your fellow Leaf ninjas to retrieve you. Your name is Rock Lee, and you are a shinobi of Fire Country. You are currently in Sunagakure, the village hidden in the sand. I will come back later to check on your progress. Do not give the hospital staff any more hard times."
Gaara turned and bent down to pick up the gourd by the strap.
"Nice ass." Lee said appreciatively, leaning to the side to get a better view of Gaara bending down. Gaara's eyes widened in mute shock as he stood back up and pulled the gourd to his back. What had Lee just said…?
Dr. Hideki had been sitting in the corner of the room during the whole interaction, scribbling notes onto his clipboard as Lee talked. Now, hearing the foreign shinobi commenting on the Kazekage's backside, he couldn't help but splutter and all but leap from his seat.
"That would be the lack of impulse control again! I am so sorry, Kazekage-sama. I will give him his medicine and make him lay down right now." The doctor said quickly, his face red.
Gaara ignored the man and his splutters as he stared at Lee with wide eyes. Lee grinned at him unashamed, and returned the thick stare with one of loopy indifference.
"What did you mean by that?" Gaara asked, his voice holding a curious edge to it. He silenced Dr. Hideki's distressed yelp at the question. The doctor had seemed to be a very calm, stoic person before. Now, though, he seemed to have lost his cool.
"I meant that you have a very attractive behind, Gaara-of-the-Desert-san." Lee said, nodding and grinning as though his comment were completely natural. "I wish your clothes were not so thick, so that I could have a better view. Or, even better than that would be for you to not be wearing any clothing at all. And me, for that matter. Oh, yes, it would result in much youthful fun if we were to both not be wearing any clothing right now."
Gaara raised a skeptical brow at the Leaf shinobi. Just what in the world could be so fun about he and Lee taking their clothes off?
It was at this point that the doctor insisted that Gaara leave, mumbling and spluttering unintelligible things as he lead Gaara away from the word. The only words he understood from the red faced doctor were 'impulse control', 'so sorry', and 'Ohmygod!'.