Here we go agian, I don't own it, you know it, I know it, the world knows it!
I hope you enjoy this one shot as much as I hated the sleepless nights over it. (I can't rest untill I've got the idea written down on paper.)


Dazed

The problem Matsuri had with any mission is the fact that if ever someone challenged them, or got in the way; Gaara, who even as Kazekage took an interest in her learning and went on missions with her, could easily take them out, no matter how powerful they seemed to be. She had once voiced this fact to him, but in between her embarrassed murmurs and nervous pauses she doubted he understood what she had been getting at.

This was a particular example; the contents of the mission had been simple and un-important, but on their way back to Suna, while resting in a road side tavern for half an hour, she was set upon by a drunk.

"Well what do we have here?" he asked as he sat down next to her, "What's a young girl like you doing here?"

"Drinking," she said simply, the man evidently had a few over the 8

"You're a cute one," he said, and he stroked her face roughly.

She shivered and pulled away instinctively, this may have not been the best course of action, as the man suddenly got angry and grabbed her by the collar.

"What's the matter?"

Matsuri got ready to kick him, until a cool hollow voice drifted over. "Leave her alone"

Gaara's voice had the effect of sobering everyone within earshot, coincidently the entire Tavern. The man who had been making the advances however was too drunk to notice the obvious threat in her sensei's voice.

"What, are you going to stop me?"

"If I have to."

The man seemed to find this amusing, "Ha, I'd like to see you try."

Suddenly he made a grab for Matsuri's arm, and succeeded in grabbing her t-shirt. He pulled her towards him swung her arm round to put her in a lock. It would have been very painful, had Gaara not swung a Kunai up right in-between the mans eye's.

The entire pub became silent, many people moved to hurriedly get out of the way, while other's seemed entranced by the fight and moved to get a better look. Gaara sighed, people like that sickened him, those who would watch a fight with excitement while not having the back bone to get involved.

He fixed his turquoise eyes into the assailant's own; who was suddenly sober, feeling the point of Gaara's kunai in the centre of his forehead. One wrong move and Gaara could kill him instantly, or just blind him.

"This is the part where you let go of her," Gaara's voice had its usual hollow tone, which had the effect of freaking almost anyone out. He sounded perfectly calm despite the situation.

The man nodded slowly, and released Matsuri's arm. She felt a rush of pain as the blood returned to it, and she walked to behind Gaara. He lowered the kunai but kept it in his hand, using the other to reach into his robe and pull out payment, which he chucked onto the counter.

"Come on let's go." He said, pulling his student out by her arm.

The tavern was right on the edge of the land of winds, so the roadway still had plant life despite the heat and drought. The wind cut down the road like a hurricane, pulling up dried earth and sandblasting it against anything exposed.

It was into this that Gaara and Matsuri walked, Gaara using his chakra to divert the sand around him, and Matsuri pulling up the collar on her combat vest and lowering her forehead protector to prevent her skin being ripped open. She had seen people with wind burn before, and she didn't intend for it to happen to her.

They hadn't gone down the road for 10 minutes before they were conscience of being followed. Turning round they were surprised to see the man from earlier tailing them. Gaara silently wondered why until he saw the man's arm, on which was a tattoo depicting two double headed axes crossed bellow a bulls head. He looked at Matsuri who already had her Johyo out.

"Be careful," he said, "This man appears to be part of the Bull's sect."

"Who?" she asked.

Gaara smiled, he forgot that as Kazekage he knew more about the secret sects and cults in the world than most.

"Never mind," he replied, "but be careful."

Matsuri smiled and stepped up, holding her weapon at the ready. She was confident, and happy that Gaara had let her do something herself, in contrast to his annoying habit of protecting her despite her year and a half advantage over him.

The man evidently wasn't expecting to fight Matsuri, and seemed to be taken aback about the prospects of being in a fight with her. He lifted a finger and pointed it at her.

"You might want to get out of my way, otherwise I'll have to hurt you."

Gaara spoke up, "Why don't you just back off, there's two of us and one of you."

"You humiliated me in there!"

"You were making a fool of yourself."

"On my honour I've got to kill you."

Gaara frowned, why did brainwashing cults always have to be so violent; with all their talk of honour and code, couldn't there just once be one in favour of peace and the benefit of mankind. He looked at the individual, like all of the Bulls he possessed what must be huge strength, but no knowledge of Chakra or ninjutsu. Therefore he was either still drunk, and had no idea what he was getting himself into; or he was just dumb muscle, and had no idea that they were Ninja at all.

"I'm warning you girly, I don't want to damage that cute face of yours."

Gaara smiled, alternatively he was a mix of both.

"Fine!" the man started to move forwards, pulling a knife out of his pocket as he did so.

Matsuri swung her Johyo, fired, and hit her target-using the weight of the spike to swig it round his body, quickly binding up his arms and legs. With a drunken "Ouff" the man fell down on his knees and then onto his side.

"Get this off me."

Matsuri walked over disappointedly, she had expected more of a fight from him and said so.

"Huh, you better run girl!" he said, she shut him up with a punch to the forehead. Gaara smiled and walked over to her, he was about halfway there when he heard the click. Matsuri was still stood by the man's body and he could see her freeze.

They say that in situations like this the world seems to move in slow motion, it isn't true. What actually happened is both Gaara and Matsuri's minds sped up 100 fold.

Gaara saw his student attempt to turn around and make herself small simultaneously, but behind her a pillow of energy billowed up lifting her light body up and projecting it strait towards Gaara. The force was so great that it knocked Gaara off his feet, and he was lucky that a shield of sand automatically created itself, protecting the pair from the blast.

They were thrown back a full fifteen feet, Gaara travelling in a neat parabola before landing on the roadway and sliding a bit further. Gaara cursed as he skidded to a halt and conscience of something causing an odd sensation in his arm.

Looking down he could see where Matsuri had, in reflex, ripped through his robe as her hand contracted, her nails had dug into his skin and he could see red seeping out of his skin.

Pain?

How had she done that, why didn't the sand bloc her as it did everyone else. He puzzled over it, there was the sand wall that had automatically been produced to protect him from the explosion, so why didn't it rush to protect him from a fast moving Matsuri, or her nails which now drew blood.

"mmmmm,"

Gaara looked at Matsuri.

"What happened?" she asked, as if she'd just woken up from an all night party.

"He had a flashbang on him, I caught you."

"Flash… what?"

She opened her eyes and found her face to face with Gaara; she lifted her self up slightly so she was level with him. Gaara looked at her with concern.

Slowly, unconsciously Matsuri felt her self moving in, closing her eyes as she did so.

"Matsuri?"

His voice snapped her back to reality. What the hell had she just been doing! She quickly jumped off Gaara, landing on her knees next to him.

"Sorry!" she said quickly.

"For what?"

"For…" she didn't know what to say, had he not noticed, or did he just not see what she was doing. She'd been about to kiss him, and he hadn't noticed!

Bit of a beat down.

"Are you feeling okay Matsuri?"

She started getting up, "Yeh I'm fine."

She fell down again, right into his sand. He got up and leaned over her, "your not are you," he said. He turned her head and looked at her, her brown eyes were defocused and dilated, textbook indications of concussion.

"Honestly sensei I feel fine." She got up and fell down again, although this time her decent was toped by Gaara, who caught and held her still.

"Which is why you can't stand up properly?" He lent down and ran one arm around her legs, swinging her over his shoulders and grabbing onto her arm as it went round his neck. She went to protest but was cut off by Gaara. "No arguments, looks like we won't be getting home tonight."

… … …

Gaara had to carry Matsuri about six miles, which wasn't a pain for him because of his habitual carrying of his gourd. The most trying bit of the journey was Matsuri's insistence every 300 meters or so that she could carry herself.

By the time they'd reached the nearest town the sun was minutes from setting, turning the sky a brilliant light crimson. Gaara was tempted to hunt around for some shinobi friendly lodging, but instead he opted just to crash at the first available vacancy, first taking off Matsuri's head band so as not to attract unwanted attention.

Once he'd checked in, paid in advanced and been given the key he went immediately up to room thirteen.

"Great," he thought, "that's just bound to be an omen. Things just aren't going my way today."

"Gaara sensei you can put me down now." Matsuri's voice emanated from behind his head.

Gaara smiled and put her down, she walked like a zombie over towards the bed, and collapsed in it. "Thank god," thought Gaara, "no arguments there then."

He set about making her comfortable, getting her out of her flak jacket and removing her shoes. Then he checked her pulse; normal, no sign of shock, and then placed the sheets over her. It was cold even on the edge of the desert at night and Gaara felt a moment of satisfaction when Matsuri clung to the covers and curled up beneath them.

After fixing him self something to eat he decided to turn himself in for the night.

Ah

That was going to be a problem.

Having never done anything involving any kind if civilisation Gaara had no experience in dealing with this aspect of the world, and for this reason he had neglected to be sure about the number of beds in the room. So where was he going to sleep?

"Curse you number thirteen!" he yelled inwardly.

Her bed's a double Gaara

NO! Gaara chased the bad thoughts out of his head; no bed sharing was going to happen.

Why not?

Because if there weren't rules about teachers sleeping with their students, and kages sleeping with Genins, then their bloody well ought to be. It just wasn't done.

Still mentally fighting the urge to sleep in a proper bed that night Gaara quickly arranged his sand on the ground, softening and shaping it. He'd never done this before but it worked in principle, the only worry was that it would collapse the moment he relaxed his Chakra.

He was going to be in for an uncomfortable night.

… … …

Matsuri woke when she felt a cold breeze run over her. She was surprised to find herself in a bed which wasn't her own, in a room she didn't recognise. It took her a while to work out where she was and why she was there; once she had she looked around the room for Gaara, finding him asleep on the floor.

Matsuri marvelled at her sensei, he'd taken off his robe and T-shirt leaving just his trousers on. His chest was perfectly formed, his six pack and pectorals were strong and firm but they weren't conspicuous. His arm muscles were shaped but soft, despite his dislike for close range taijutsu. She got out of bed and lent over him, he had the curious ability to look jaw droppingly hot and amazingly cute at the same time.

She gently touched the marks in his shoulder, now remembering the explosion and her quick flight into the titian haired teen. Absentmindedly she moved from his shoulder running her hand down his biceps.

"Do you mid Matsuri?" he asked.

She inhaled suddenly out of shock, having completely forgotten that Gaara didn't sleep; he couldn't without risking the Shikaku waking up and taking control of his body. She blushed deeply and removed her hand.

"Sorry, Gaara sensei."

He opened his eyes to look at her, "is there something you wanted?" he asked.

Matsuri was so tempted to say yes, that she wanted to sleep with him, that she wanted him to notice her in a more fulfilling way than just a student teacher relationship.

But she couldn't.

Whenever she contemplated going to Gaara's office in Suna and confessing her affections she would always falter; either at the planning stage, or at the door to his office. She was fed up with always standing out side nervously, and if he caught her only being able to ask if he was up for some training. But she realised that she just didn't have the courage; facing knife wielding shinobi was easy, facing Gaara was terrifying.

Gaara placed a hand on her cheek and pulled her to face him. He slowly scrutinised her, making sure that she showed no signs of concussion or shock from her earlier flight.

He noticed how Matsuri shivered under his touch, were his hands cold?

He decided to try something and gently brushed below her lip. She closed her eyes and let out a soft hum. Gaara pulled his hand away.

"So that's why you always bother me when I'm trying to work," he said softly, "why you take any excuse to be near me."

Matsuri blushed, to an extent that even in the almost zero light her red flush was visible. Tears started to manifest themselves in her eyes, she wasn't crying or weeping, but never the less some ancient instinct produced tears in response to her embarrassment… and sadness.

Hesitantly she moved forward and ran her arms around the Kazekage's neck, pulling herself close to him. Gaara responded by gently placing his arms around her. He felt her tears as she nuzzled into his neck. Any observer might think that it looked like romance in action; but anyone experienced in such things would have identified it like brother and sister. There was no love in Gaara's movements, just an automatic response to the situation.

As he held her Matsuri slowly began to cry for real, he chest moving gently against Gaara's in a un-rhythmical fashion.

"I'm sorry Gaara sensei," she said softly, her gentle sobs only partially affecting her speech, but the sadness in her voice was obvious, "I know I'm a pain and a nuisance," as she spoke Gaara could feel her lips gently rub against his skin.

"No," he said, "you've never been a pain Matsuri." He looked her in the eyes, where her tears had made them shine, "I can't understand though?"

She swallowed her tears, "Understand what?"

"Why you'd fall for me, a jinchuuriki?"

Matsuri smiled sadly, "I don't care that you've got Shikaku in side of you, I don't care that you were intended to be an ultimate weapon," she drew in close, savouring the idea of what it would be like to kiss right then and there, "I love you Gaara."

She was amazed that she actually had the courage to say it. "I adore you," she continued, "can I help that?"

Gaara silently shook his head, and he began to unwrap his arms from her. She quickly dropped one of her hands from his neck and grabbed his wrist, nuzzling her face back into his neck.

"Please Gaara sensei, hold me." She pleaded with him.

"Matsuri.. I don't…."

"I know," she whispered, "but just this once, let me pretend."

She slowly felt his arms run back around her body, and felt a spark go off inside her. The feeling of being held by Gaara, even if he didn't love her, it was unbelievable for her.

Gaara unhooked one of his arms and lifted his hand to his forehead, to the red kanji.

"Love,"

A word he'd never expected anyone to apply to him in the romantic sense. Yes he was no longer viewed as the outcast animal, as Kazekage people had began to become accustomed to his presence, and they started accepting him for what he was. But he'd never expected this kind of love, of adoration.

The more he thought about it the more he began to feel evil, and the less he cared for the whole affair. He wouldn't mind risking Shikaku have his body, just to escape from the situation for a while, but he knew he couldn't.

Why did he feel evil? Because Matsuri adored him, and he could see what rejection would do to her, she'd poured he heart out to him and he now had to turn it away. Why couldn't he feel anything for her? He searched his soul for a hint, anything to indicate maybe some level of feeling. But he couldn't find it.

Maybe years of rejection had destroyed the ability for him to love, or maybe he just couldn't find anything for his student.

He removed his other arm from around her waist, and in response she relaxed her cling on to his neck. She smiled slightly, out of pain, and moved to get back into the bed.

She considered her affections. Of course Gaara wouldn't return them, he was the leader of the whole of Suna, and she was just some crappy Genin. Even that was a laugh, she was a year and a half older than him, and was only a Genin. And what could she offer him, she wasn't particularly beautiful; brown hair and eyes like pretty much every girl in Suna. She quietly envied the stunning girls of Konoha, wishing so much that she could be like them.

She cried her self silently to sleep.

… … …

In the morning they got up ate and left in silence, Matsuri still feeling like someone had rust run over her soul, and Gaara because he had no idea what to say. Well what do you say in that situation?

Although they had about eleven hours of walking to get to their village they'd set out as early as possible, so Gaara was hopeful that they'd get back before sundown. The morning was cold but thankfully still, and they didn't have to worry about losing their skin in the desert wind.

For two hours they walked like that, during which time the sun came up, and the road disappeared, merging into the rolling dunes commonly associated with the desert.

Gaara was the first to break the silence, "Matsuri?"

"Yes Gaara sensei,"

"Have you noticed?"

"The three men behind us? Yes." She didn't look round, instead used the guards on her gloves as a mirror. She examined the reflection, 3 black dots were clearly visible on the sand, probably thinking that because they were keeping their distance then they'd remain covert. "What should we do?" Matsuri asked.

"Nothing, if we turned round to confront they'd see us coming and run, if they follow us all the way to Suna then they're idiots." He stopped and looked at the sun, "of course they could be getting ready with some others to ambush us; but that won't be a problem."

"Why not?"

"Because I'm willing to bet on who they are, and if I'm right they have no knowledge of ninjutsu; it will be a snitch."

"I'll hold you to that."

Gaara smiled, it was pleasing to know that despite last night they were still able to talk. They continued walking for another half hour or so, before they sprung the trap.

Seven men dressed in black utility vests, all supporting weapons of some description rose up out of the sand in front of them, simultaneously with four men on each flank. Gaara looked the closest one up and down and sure enough found the tattoo he expected on his left bicep. He'd expected there to be some sort of retribution for they're fight with the man the day before, but he hadn't expected it to come so fast. Evidently underground crime cults were becoming bigger in the land of wind.

One man stepped forward, he carried a elongated Katana, which had a fanged end, which would probably cause more pain than damage, but looked intimidating.

"You two attacked our member yesterday." the man said.

"He attacked us," accused Matsuri; the man ignored her and looked at Gaara.

"Stay out of our way," Gaara commanded, his eyes levelling with the mans own. Most people would have backed down if Gaara looked at them that way, his sea green eyes weren't the bright blue of Naruto's, but the lack of eyebrows and the thick black insomnia induced rings were hypnotic. Or was it just that he never, never, blinked.

"You think you can win against fifteen of us."

"And the two you've hidden under the sand behind us, not the best camouflage I've ever seen."

Matsuri saw two men get up from behind them; although they weren't hidden any more the gang now had the two ninja surrounded.

"You think your so clever don't you?" said the leader.

Gaara smiled, "yes."

… … …

He jumped over the two men at the back, throwing shuriken at them without looking. Both stars found their mark, lodging themselves perfectly in each respective target's skull. Without even having to think about it the sand in his gourd jumped out and formed a protective band around his body, ready to move perfectly to his will.

One word erupted from the gang, "Ninja!"

Matsuri didn't intend to be useless in this fight, she drew out her kunai and slapped a paper bomb to it, throwing the explosive into the nearest opponent. As the explosion cleared the girl had already drawn her Johyo. She used it one handed as she drew out shuriken and launched a volley at a whole group, who were paralysed with the surprise of how the tables had been turned.

"Ha, gotch'ya," she yelled as all three of them fell to the ground. Then she yelled as hands caught around her waist.

… … …

Gaara felt a tinge of satisfaction as he crushed another two assailants under the sand. That was the last of them, except the one who had ran for his life. Except…

"Gaara,"

He turned round to find Matsuri being held by one of the younger attackers. For a moment he wondered why Matsuri didn't just drop him, and then he saw the flashbang being held behind her back. One wrong move and it would go (as the name suggested) flash and bang, and blow the two into lots of pieces. Flashbangs were nasty because they not only blew up, they also filled you with shrapnel, a luxury that paper bombs couldn't give.

"So you're ninja?" the man asked. He had that manic look that said he wasn't bothered with dying.

"Yes we are." Gaara replied, keeping any signs of worry out of his voice.

The man laughed, "Such a shame," he stroked Matsuri's face with the grenade he had hold of, "I hate taking such a pretty life."

Click.

Like before white flash erupted from the device; the difference this time being that it didn't through Matsuri, it simply engulfed her.

… … …

Gaara charged up the hill. A small crater had been formed in the sand, and it was filled with… remains. Gaara felt sick as he tried to find anything left of his student, but he couldn't tell anything apart. Inside he was screaming at himself for being so blasé with the situation, but he kept looking.

"Gaara?"

The voice was small and weak, but it was easy to find the source, half buried in sand was Matsuri's shaking frame. Gaara's joy at finding her actually alive was quickly replaced as he pulled out of the sand. She wasn't looking good.

"Is that you sensei?"

"Yeah"

She smiled, "I can't see a thing." She was shaking uncontrollably, and her face had a clear red line dug in it. Gaara leaned over and held her, gently stroking her face. His attempt at calming her down didn't work to well, she continued shaking.

"I can't feel my legs,"

"It's just shock."

"You expect me to believe that?" she asked, "I can't move Gaara!"

He looked at her legs and could see why, they were full of bits of metal and deep cuts. He placed a hand on her back and turned her over, she screamed in pain.

"I need to look Matsuri," he said, "I'll be as gentle as I can."

The red head cringed at the sight of her back; the explosion had removed almost all of her flack jacket and ripped through her undershirt. He back was a mess of blood and shrapnel, and the only place her skin wasn't torn was at the very top of her back.

"Does it hurt?" he asked.

"Yes."

He rolled her back so that she was facing him and placed his arms back around her. She was still shaking and occasionally she coughed, bringing up blood. Her lungs must be pierced. She moved her arm up to grab his cloths, and pulled herself into his chest.

"I'm going to die aren't I?" she said.

"No, I'll get you back to Suna."

"Don't bother," she let go of his cloths and fell back. Gaara quickly tightened his grip on her.

"No you don't, I'm not having you die on me."

"You wasting your…" Her objection was silenced by something soft.

Despite the fact that she couldn't see Matsuri's eyes opened wide; she'd never felt them before but she could easily tell that Gaara had pressed his lips to hers. She slowly closed her eyes, enjoying the sensation that she had dreamed about for almost three years.

He broke away but she could still feel his face less than an inch from hers.

"I'm not leaving you," he breathed, the taste of blood still in his mouth. He began to lift her up but she cried out in pain, the sound ripping through the air. He stopped moving.

"Matsuri you know when people tell you to be brave on a mission?" he asked.

"Yes,"

"Well this is like that, I need you to be brave now. This will hurt like Hell but I've got to do it."

She didn't say anything in response, just nodded, her eyes staring into space. Gaara reached into the pouch on his waist and pulled out a small syringe containing morphine. He jabbed it in her neck, looked at her and pulled out another, she was going to be in a lot of pain.

… … …

Gaara had never moved so fast in his life, he'd turned an eight hour journey into a two hour one. He'd stormed through the gates of the village and headed strait to the hospital.

They'd prepped her strait away for surgery, one of the medical ninja quickly asked Gaara about anything that might be affecting her.

"Yes I gave her some of my Morphine."

"How much?"

Gaara couldn't remember, "Two; maybe three."

"Three; Christ are you trying to kill her?"

"She was in a lot of pain…"

"She's small for hell's sake, one should have been enough!"

"I didn't know…"

"Yeh well you should!" The Medical ninja stormed through the doors, "I hope it hasn't gotten to her head!"

Gaara never felt so bad in his life. He began wondering if this was just a nightmare induced by Shikaku, and he'd actually fallen asleep.

For the first time in his life Gaara understood the principle of wishing that he could wake up.

… … …

She survived, they'd managed that much. Her eyes would recover in time but never fully; and her back would be scarred for life, as would her face.

Gaara went to see her about a week after the incident, when finally the doctors were satisfied with her recovery. He walked in to find her desperately trying to see her hand.

"Give it time," he said, startling her, "that's what they told me anyway."

She smiled, "Hello Gaara."

He sat down on her bed, minus gourd. "You okay?"

"I feel it," she looked at him with sightless eyes. "How bad do I look?"

He examined her face, a thin white line went down the left side of it, crossing over her nose and finally halting on her cheek.

"Better than you did," he said, gently brushing her face with his hand. She brought hers up and pushed his away.

"Gaara you can stop the romance act now," she said, "I don't need to be comforted."

He smiled, "What makes you think it's an act?"

He kissed her gently, retuning his hand to her cheek. In response she tried pushing him away, but quickly it turned into her wrapping her arms around his neck and pulling him in. She ran her fingers through his hair and grabbed it, revelling in the feeling.

When he pulled away she gasped, "Gaara?"

He chuckled silently, "You know the reason why I rejected you, why I thought I didn't love you? It's because I was expecting some strong new feeling to erupt inside me, like it always says in those cruddy romance novels. But I was waiting for something new when in fact I was feeling the important thing all along." He smiled again, "I'm just sorry it took this to make me realise it."

She smiled as well and pulled him close to her, finding his chest and nuzzling in into it.

"I love you Gaara." She said.

The red head stroked the tattoo on his forehead, "I love you too."


Yes Matsuri is older than Gaara look it up if you don't belive me.

Shiny button, I wonder what happens if you press it?