Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto… yet.
AN: This was written for the prompt dreamerchaos came up with over at LiveJournal for the Shinobi Courtship Rules. Dreamer came up with rule #31 and it inspired the following story. To see the other rules go to https : / sites. google. com/site /shinobicourtship/ home/info (remove the spaces in the address).
My wonderful editor is Meiun. She fixes my commas and knits me lovely warm gloves!
The sound of feet rapidly pounding on the earth was the only thing accompanying flashes of movement through the forest. Trees and shrubbery melded into a greenish brown blur as the shinobi ran so fast they practically flew. Four figures were in front with three following in hot pursuit.
"Damn these guys are fast," Tenten griped as the figures ahead managed to gain a little more distance on them.
"Save your breath," Neji told his teammate as the vegetation began to thin and the wind grew hotter with each mile that passed beneath their feet. "We're about to cross into the Kazekage's territory. The heat from the desert should slow them down; we'll catch them in the dunes."
"Easy for you to say," Tenten muttered in annoyance. "You're not carrying a giant weapons scroll."
"Keep your fighting spirit strong, my friend!" Lee grinned recklessly as the wind ruffled his dark hair. "Soon we will defeat our opponents, complete our objective, and return to the village victorious." Lee clenched his fist in resolution, large eyes excited and determined.
"These bastards had better have the scroll. If we're on a wild goose chase there's gonna be hell to pay," the weapons specialist grumbled as she effortlessly vaulted over a dense bramble thicket.
"They have it," Neji confirmed, the last of the forest falling behind them, "I have seen it. Now, save your breath. We enter Wind Country."
The last few scraps of vegetation fell away and opened to rolling plains of baking sand. Lee watched with some satisfaction as the shinobi they were pursuing flagged under the unexpectedly intense heat of the desert. As allies to Suna, the Leaf shinobi had traversed the desert many times and although the intensely high temperatures still took their toll, they at least knew what to expect. These enemies from Stone hadn't a clue.
The harsh sun did as Neji had predicted and their foes pace slowed. Over the miles, the Leaf ninja steadily gained on them until it became apparent that there was no escape and the Stone shinobi turned to fight. They were at an advantage with numbers but seriously disadvantaged with terrain, the sand shifted and rolled beneath their feet in a way unfamiliar to the enemy but known to the soldiers of Konoha. Neji, Tenten, and Lee had fought in the Country of Wind many times due to their alliance with Suna and while the sand didn't feel right underfoot, they had experience to help guide them.
The battle was fast and furious. Tenten's weapons flew through the air and Neji was forced to let loose more than one hakkeshou kaiten in defence against a Jounin who showed remarkable proficiency with a water jutsu, combining it with the surrounding sand to launch mud based attacks. Lee faced off against the last two enemies with the enthusiasm and flair he was so characterised by. Leaping, spinning, and striking out lightning quick, his opponents were startled by his speed and the sheer power behind his blows.
Lee knew within the first few seconds of combat that he could defeat his two opponents. While he did have an over abundance of confidence in himself and his fighting ability, he also had the skills to assess his opponent. Even as he took a kick to the side that sent him flying into one of the dunes, the sand exploding around him in a grainy shower, he knew he could win. Flipping back to his feet, the taijutsu specialist sprinted across the sand. The smug look fell from his opponent's face an instant before Lee's fist smashed into it.
"Haaaugh!" With an impressively agile mid air twist, Lee's foot connected with the top of the Stone ninja's head and sent him slamming into the ground hard.
There was no time to pause, Lee heard the whistle of a kunai headed for his back and sidestepped while holding out his hand to catch the projectile. Using an enemy's own weapon against them really did wonders for destroying morale. The metal, warm from the enemy Chuunin's grip and the overhead sun, was snatched from midair and Lee was flying across the sand toward his next target. The battle was fast, brutal, and his opponent was using far dirtier tactics than Lee could respect. It was not a fight the proud Konoha Jounin enjoyed.
A shocked cry and crack of stone had the dark haired Leaf shinobi briefly diverting his attention from his enemy to his teammates. Tenten had been hit hard and thrown into a close rocky outcropping. She recovered quickly enough to avoid the follow up strike but Lee could see his friend was struggling. Time to finish this fight and go to the aid of his comrades! Turning his attention back to his adversary, the taijutsuist ducked low under a spinning kick before propelling himself upward and catching the Chuunin under the jaw with an uppercut. The blow held the momentum of his whole body behind it and the Stone ninja was pitched high into the air.
"Konoha senpuu!" Lee yelled as launched after the stunned Chuunin and executed a series of bone crushing kicks that pretty much guaranteed the end of the battle.
Sure enough, the Stone shinobi fell to the sand like a discarded rag doll and didn't try to rise again. Lee took a brief moment to survey his surroundings and even with his exceptional training, he couldn't help but jerk in shock. Standing only a few feet away and watching silently with arms crossed over this chest was the Kazekage. Deep crimson hair ruffled in the wind and the stunning green eyes watched Lee unblinkingly.
"Gaara?" Lee called in surprise and darted over to the Sand shinobi's side. "What are you doing here?"
Dark rimmed eyes looked Lee over once, taking in the dirty uniform dampened from sweat and a little blood with an unreadable expression.
"I want to speak with you," Gaara said, calm and unhurried as if they'd just bumped into each other during an evening stroll and Lee's teammates weren't battling enemy only a few feet away.
"I'm afraid it will have to wait," Lee said apologetically as he heard Neji snap "Hakke kuushou!" and felt the familiar blast of the Hyuuga's chakra. "I must assist my comrades. I promise you will have my full attention the moment the enemy has been neutralised."
The taijutsu specialist gave a wide grin and thumbs-up to cement the promise between them and turned to go and assist Tenten. He never got the chance. Gaara gave a small, almost inaudible sigh and the ground beneath their feet suddenly shifted and surged upward. The four shinobi still in combat all leapt away from the rising sand but were not fast enough. The Stone soldiers were quickly overcome and immobilised high in the air, wrapped in sand cocoons and staring terrified at the Kazekage.
Tenten flopped to the ground with tired relief as Neji landed beside her in a crouch, panting hard and glaring mildly in annoyance. The longhaired Hyuuga hated having his fights interrupted. Lee stood frozen for a moment, disappointed at such an anticlimactic end to a long chase and fight but relieved that his teammates were safe and relatively unharmed.
"The enemy is neutralised," Garra stated with the slightest hint of impatience in his tone.
Lee had to concede that they certainly were so he turned to face the Kazekage.
"And you have my full attention as promised," he said with a friendly smile. "What did you wish to speak to me about, Gaara?"
Lee had given up on calling his strange friend 'Kazekage-sama' years ago. Gaara had simply ignored him when he did until Lee had given up what social niceties he'd tried to learn and treated the most powerful shinobi in Wind like he wasn't just that.
"I want you to return to Suna with me. I require your assistance," Gaara announced.
Lee blinked his wide eyes in surprise. "Well, you know I'm always happy to help out a friend any way I can but I need to go back to Konoha and report first, complete the mission. That and I'll need Tsunade-sama's permission to-"
"Your team mates can report the success of your mission. I will send word to the Hokage that I have detained you," Gaara interrupted before turning his attention to the two enemies trapped in sand.
Vivid green eyes viewed their terrified expressions dispassionately as he raised a hand, fingers hooked like claws. Lee had seen his friend do this many times since they had first met and the action had been used to crush his arm and leg. It still brought with it a slight chill of memory but no fear. He was not afraid of Gaara. To his surprise, however, the powerful shinobi swept his hand down sharply and the sand cocoons followed his direction, slamming the Stone soldiers into the ground with a thunderous thump. The sand trickled away, leaving behind two bodies that were knocked out cold but not dead.
"Do with them as you wish," Gaara said to Neji and Tenten with a total lack of interest as he turned and walked away from the battleground. "Come Lee."
"Ahh… Neji?" Lee asked awkwardly, honestly not sure what to do and looking to his team captain for direction.
Neji's pale eyes narrowed slightly as the Kazekage paused, looking back over his shoulder. Darkly rimmed turquoise locked with the Hyuuga's pale eyes and although Neji could not discern any definite change in expression, he felt as though the red haired man was daring him prevent Lee from leaving.
"If you require assistance, Kazekage-sama, I'm sure that the three of us as a team will be able to aid you in anyway needed," Neji offered politely as Tenten retrieved their target scroll from the unconscious Stone ninja.
The weapons mistress looked as tense as he felt at the idea of Lee's unexpected departure. The Kazekage and Leaf taijutsu specialist had formed a very strange friendship over the past few years and it was not unusual for them to visit with each other. However, there was something that felt off about the situation. The jinchūriki seemed to consider his words for a short moment before speaking.
"I only need Lee's assistance. The two of you are unnecessary," was Gaara's curt reply. "By the time you return to Konoha I will have informed your Hokage of the situation."
There was a brief pause while Neji fumed internally, Gaara waited for the Leaf captain to tell Lee he was free to leave, and Lee and Tenten looked between the two men waiting for the next move. Lee could see the tick in Neji's jaw, which spoke of the Hyuuga's mounting annoyance and decided to intervene.
"I'm sure that Tsunade-sama will have no objections to the cooperation between our two villages in the youthful spirit of friendship and-"
"Fine, fine, go with him," Neji interrupted in exasperation.
Lee grinned at his teammates before turning to trot across the sand and catch up with the Kazekage who was already walking away, long coat fluttering in the strong wind. The taijutsuist knew that his Hokage would not be pleased about him diverting in the middle of a mission but would understand. Gaara was awfully difficult to say no to.
"So, what is it we'll be doing?" Lee asked curiously, as they set off across the barren plain.
Gaara's eyes unfocused slightly for a moment and Lee had learned over the years that this meant his unusual friend was contemplating how much information he was willing to reveal. He waited patiently, knowing the leader of Wind Country would tell him what he needed to know in good time.
"I have decided to explore new territory and require your assistance," Gaara eventually said. "You are the only one I have any interest in participating."
Lee was incredibly flattered and warmth spread through his chest at the knowledge that Gaara valued his skills enough to go and personally collect him for a mission. There was no way he would let his friend down! Nodding enthusiastically, he gave his powerful companion a thumbs-up and a wide grin.
"You can count on me, Garra! Together we shall triumph; there is nothing we can't achieve together! This will not only help to strengthen our bonds of friendship but also our bonds as allies. Now, tell me more. Are we expecting a battle?"
"I am expecting there to be some token resistance, yes. I am confident I will be able to overcome it with minimal trouble," the Kazekage answered in a mild tone.
"Excellent! Tell me your plan."
"I'd rather show you when we return to the village. Hold your breath," Garra ordered as he took hold of Lee's arm and sand poured from the gourd to swirl around them.
Lee quickly did as he was ordered, recognising the Sand shinobi's transportation jutsu. The first time Garra had done this with him he had not been warned and ended up breathing in a mouthful of sand. He'd choked so hard on the grains his throat had bled and Gaara now reminded him each time, even though it was no longer necessary (no way was Lee making that mistake again). Still, it showed his friend's concern and Lee appreciated the gesture. He was excited about the battle ahead of them; the one against the enemies from Stone had left him unsatisfied. He silently vowed to do his very best for Gaara as they disappeared into the sand.
"Did Gaara say what the mission was?" Tsunade demanded of the two shinobi standing to attention in her office while waving a scroll bearing the Kazekage's seal through the air. "Because it sure as hell wasn't detailed in his message."
"No, Hokage-sama," Neji answered. "He just said he needed Lee's assistance and that we would get in the way."
"Normally I'd say he was being really rude, but this is Gaara we're talking about so he was just his usual socially gracious self," Tenten added with a shrug. "He was insistent that only Lee could help him though."
"Damn brat snatching my soldiers up mid-mission," the Hokage grumbled as she rounded her desk and dropped into her chair. "You did the right thing, Neji. Gaara's a strange one but we need this alliance with Wind to remain strong. If he wants to help you accomplish your mission so he can borrow Lee for a bit I won't kick up too much of a fuss, but the lack of information he sent through is just unacceptable."
She slammed the scroll onto her desk in frustration. Neji and Tenten stood quietly at attention; there was really nothing they could say about the correspondence between the leaders of two villages. Tsunade knew this and waved them away impatiently.
"Go on; get out of here," she ordered and waited until the door clicked closed behind them before turning to Shizune and demanding, "What?"
"What? I didn't say anything," Shizune quickly hedged as Tonton gave a snuffle in her arms.
"Yes and your silence in this case is speaking volumes. You have a notion, out with it."
The dark haired assistant furrowed her brow for a moment before setting the little pig on the ground and leaning her hips on the Hokage desk comfortably. "It's just… well, the Kazekage has been attending more diplomatic negotiations lately and always takes off afterward to spend time with Lee. It's been awhile since they've seen each other and I'm wondering if he was just missing his friend."
"Heaven knows the brat doesn't have the social niceties to extend a normal invitation for a visit," Tsunade added with a small, tolerant smile.
"Exactly, so he cooks up some story of a mission and snatches Lee up as soon as he's in his territory."
The blond haired woman sighed and shook her head. "See, if we were dealing with anyone else I would think of that as a viable explanation but this is Gaara we're dealing with. Doing something like that, making up missions, isn't even within his realm of understanding. He's too straightforward."
"That's true," Shizune conceded, "but if there really was a mission he would have detailed it to you rather than the vague message you received."
Both women were silent for a while, Tonton making the most noise as she snuffled around the room trying to find a good spot for a nap.
"I know what you're thinking," Shizune finally said.
"We're not considering that possibility yet," Tsunade answered flatly and began shuffling the papers on her desk.
"But what if you're right? It would be better to address it sooner rather than later."
"If I'm right, Shizune, I'm going to need a case of sake and a psychologist. We'll give it a week and then start thinking about considering it."
Shizune nodded and gathered up some documents for filing. "It is rather… unsettling."
"Unsettling? It's down right terrifying," the Hokage said with a shudder. "The idea of Gaara of the Sand being sexually interested full stop is disturbing. The idea of him being sexually interested and experimental with Rock Lee… of all people."
Both women looked at each other for a moment and the agreement that the topic would not be raised again until a week's grace had passed went unspoken.
Lee's breaths came in deep gasps that sounded strangely loud to his own ears. He just couldn't steady his breathing and his ragged moan echoed obscenely in the room as Gaara scratched a nail over an already sensitised nipple. The sound had the Kazekage snapping his hips forward sharply in an attempt to drag another from the Leaf Jounin's throat. Sweat beaded on both their bodies and dripped into the sand that swirled beneath them.
When Lee had left with Gaara only a few days earlier, he had never even considered the possibility that the 'new territory' they were setting out to explore was him. Yet, here he was, on his knees, bent forward at the hips, arms buried to the elbows in sand that refused to release him as the most powerful shinobi in Wind slid in and out of his body in a steady rhythm that was slowly driving them both mad. Hot puffs of humid air stirred the hair at the nape of his neck as the Kazekage leaned over him and Lee took comfort in the fact that he wasn't the only one having trouble breathing.
Teeth grazed over his right shoulder, sharp points scraping old scars and bruises from earlier bites. Even though he knew what to expect, Lee couldn't help his groan as Gaara caught the skin at the back of his neck, the delicious sting making him tense in pleasure. More sand lapped over his calves, spreading his legs slightly wider before pinning them in place. Lee could escape the sand if he wanted to. While it did have a tight hold on him it wasn't enough to actually restrain him, he could get out of its grip without even opening a gate. The sand wasn't keeping him there; he wanted to stay.
Blunt nails dragged lightly down his back as Gaara straightened up and Lee arched into the sensation before surprisingly strong hands gripped his hips. He definitely wanted to stay. When he and Gaara had arrived at Sunagakure, it had turned out that the Kazekage had left his people without informing them of his departure. Temari and Kankuro had been angry over their brother's unexpected disappearance but once they had seen Lee with him, they had both paled.
"Lee, where did you come from?" Temari had asked in a slightly strangled tone of voice that was pitched higher than normal.
Lee had bounded up to Gaara's siblings with his friendliest smile. "Hello Temari, Kankuro! It's been too long. Gaara picked me up on your eastern outskirts at the end of a mission. Apparently there is some new territory that needs to be explored."
At his words, the wind mistress and puppet master had both turned a rather frightening shade of greyish green and Kankuro's eyes went wide and wild.
"Oh hell," he said, painted face pinching in what looked like physical pain, "he wasn't kidding."
"New territory," Temari repeated as Gaara approached them.
Lee looked them over with mounting concern. "Is this place really that dangerous?"
He had expected there to be danger when Gaara had come for his help but for the mere mention of it to draw such a reaction from the two hardened shinobi… perhaps Lee had greatly underestimated the difficulty of the task that lay before them.
"Will you be joining us?" the taijutsuist queried and blinked in surprise as both siblings instantly flushed a dark shade of red.
"Fuck no! I'm gonna go get drunk," Kankuro declared as he instantly turned and started walking down the street. "Incredibly, thoroughly, memory blockingly drunk."
"Umm…" Lee said uncertainly as Temari gave one last pained look at him and Gaara before going after Kankuro.
"I'm going to help him," she muttered mechanically and neither sibling looked back.
"It's just as well," Gaara said as he started walking again and Lee quickly followed. "They would most certainly get in the way."
As a smooth, un-calloused hand released his hip to the wrap around his straining erection and a wet tongue dragged up his spine, Lee had to agree that it certainly was best they were alone.
"What I'm saying is that I want my taijutsu specialist back, now!" Tsunade snapped at the representative from Suna.
The little fat man with a scrappy moustache and ruddy cheeks looked caught half way between frightened and determined. One did not become an ambassador for the Country of Wind by having a weak constitution; but an enraged Hokage was enough to make any diplomat nervous.
"Lady Tsunade, we understand your frustration in this matter. Please let me assure you that Rock-san is a most welcome guest in our village and that we have no intention of detaining him from his duties," Hitoshi said, trying to conciliate the angry leader.
"But you are," the buxom woman interjected.
The Suna diplomat raised a hand in placation. "However, there are some factors that need to be taken into consideration before we can, in good faith, return him to you."
"It's been two weeks, Hitoshi! I started yelling at you a week ago and I am rapidly running out of patience. Why the hell is it taking so long for you to return one of my shinobi to me?"
"Ah, well, you see, the Kazekage-sama has-"
"Essentially stolen one of my people!" Tsunade interrupted Hitoshi's stammering. "And from all reports he stole him to… 'explore new territory'." God, she just couldn't bring herself to say it aloud so she stuck with the wording her spies had reported back to her with. It seemed to be the favoured term in Wind regarding the situation.
Colour crept up the stocky man's neck even as his face paled. "Yes, well, it would seem that our Kazekage is rather fond of Rock-san."
Tsunade raised a finger to halt the diplomat's flow of words. "We're not going there."
"Agreed," he answered with an enthusiastic nodding of his head.
Taking a deep breath to calm herself, the Sannin finally stopped pacing in front of her window and dropped into her chair. Leaning forward, elbows on desk, she fixed the Wind ambassador with a hard stare.
"I am going to say this once and once only, so listen well," she warned. "In one week, Rock Lee will either be standing in front of my desk wearing his ridiculous spandex uniform and looking thoroughly embarrassed or I will be collecting him personally from Suna." She watched with some satisfaction as the man's chins bobbed when he swallowed nervously. "Considering I know Lee can make the trip between our Villages in two days if he really tries, that gives you five to get back home and get him moving."
Hitoshi started wringing his sweating hands in his lap. "It might not be quite that simple, Hokage-sama."
"Make it that simple!" Tsunade snapped, slamming a fist onto her desk.
Four and a half days later, Lee was sprinting all out to reach Konoha village. Well, as all out as he could with the intense ache that had settled in his hips and lower back. It was sorer than he had expected but nowhere near as bad as he had been forced to endure in the past after a hard battle. He knew that by strengthening his resolve he could push through the restrictive discomfort and achieve his goal of being back in Konoha in two days. He would have aimed for a day and a half if it weren't for the company trying to keep pace with him.
The fact that he had to stop regularly so the Wind shinobi who were escorting him could rest and recover certainly helped him not to fall into too much discomfort. He had tried to argue against being accompanied, telling them that he would make better time on his own, but an escort had been insisted on. Something to do with ensuring his safe return to Konohagakure to avoid international displeasure.
That Gaara was displeased with his leaving was an understatement; however, the Kazekage had eventually relented when the Leaf Jounin had put his foot down. Even the sand wielder knew how stubborn Lee got when it came to his duty and his village. Lee had left with the promise that they could 'explore' together again next time they met up and he wouldn't 'explore' with anyone else in the mean time. Gaara had been mildly mollified after that and allowed the sand barrier surrounding his residence to lower so they could leave.
It had been an incredible few weeks! Lee was certain he would remember them vividly for the rest of his life, long after the finger shaped bruises, shallow bite marks, niggling aches, and sand burns cleared up. He would have to wear his loose standard Jounin uniform for awhile after returning to the village. His beloved spandex suit would need to stay in the wardrobe until he managed to get a leash on his wayward memories. Hopefully Gai-sensei would understand it was only a temporary necessity for the sake of decorum.
"Do you have any idea how much trouble you've caused me?" Tsunade yelled as Lee stood to attention in her office, his spine ramrod straight. The powerful woman was pacing angrily behind her desk and glaring at him through sharp amber eyes.
"Sorry Hokage-sama," He answered promptly.
"I had to deal with diplomats, rearrange teams, delay missions, and threaten that damned red haired brat all because you wanted to sneak off for a couple of weeks and… and… ugh!" The Godaime threw her hands in the air in frustration before stopping her pacing and pointing a finger at him. A finger, Lee knew, that could easily knock him to the other end of the village. "Never again, you hear me? Never again! You're not allowed within a 50 kilometre radius of Suna. In fact, you're forbidden from crossing the boundary into Wind at all unless explicitly ordered. Understood?"
Lee saluted sharply. "Yes Hokage-sama!"
Tsunade still looked agitated. "I can't have my shinobi running off to have… relations with the leaders of other villages. It's completely unacceptable." Suddenly she stopped pacing and looked as though she'd just been struck with an idea. "Shizune!"
The dark haired assistant came flying through the doors from the corridor looking harried. "Yes Tsunade-sama?"
"This situation calls for drastic measures," the Hokage declared. "Go get the record of the Shinobi Rules of Courtship; I'm adding a new one."
Under no circumstances are intended allowed on missions anywhere near their suitor's Village. Lady Tsunade had to threaten Lord Kazekage with physical harm if the man did not return her taijutsu specialist.
There was a nasty flu going around Konoha and the personnel for missions were more a case of who was healthy enough to run them than the usual well thought out and balanced teams. As it was, the team Lee was currently working with was running hell for leather away from a rather large group of pursuing enemy shinobi. They were in Bird Country, having escorted a dignitary home after trade negotiations at the Dynamo's palace in Fire Country. For their return trip, they had been entrusted with important documents detailing secret trade routes between Bird and its surrounding neighbours.
The enemy chasing them were not wearing any distinguishing marks of loyalty and Lee had to wonder if was for subterfuge or they were bandits hoping for a profitable take. Bandits very rarely accosted fully uniformed shinobi but it had been known to happen occasionally if they formed a large enough group. There were ten enemies chasing them and while Lee normally would have been able to out pace them easily, he was in a group with two Genin. They really had been terribly low on manpower. They had been forced to divert from their path toward home and veer for the Country of Wind.
They had first been alerted to the enemy's presence when they had literally walked into a trap. The poison gas had affected one of the Genin. Lee had gotten him out of the thick vapours quickly but the young one had still breathed in a lungful and was slumped unconscious on their team leader's back.
"We're almost at the border, Tamiko, just keep it up a little longer," Mariko called to her other Genin, the third of their usual team sick back in Konoha.
The Genin was looking exhausted and a little frightened though she hid it well. Lee could tell his fellow teammates were pushing their bodies to the limit, giving their all just to maintain their current pace.
"Do not worry!" Lee grinned winningly from his guard position at the rear of the group. "I will allow no harm to come to any of my precious comrades!"
Tamiko, a sweet girl with an aptitude for earth-based jutsu, looked over her shoulder at the dark haired Jounin. "I can fight too, Lee-sensei, just give me a chance."
"I have no doubts you would give the enemy an excellent challenge, Tamiko-chan, and your youthful desire to fight along side your friends has warmed my warrior heart! Channel that eagerness into your body and use it to fuel your speed!" Lee grinned and pumped a fist into the air.
They passed the markers indicating the boundary line between countries was approaching; their enemy was also gaining on them. With a quick flash of speed, Lee landed next to Mariko and spoke to her in a low tone.
"I'm sure you are well aware that I am forbidden from entering into Wind Country," he said. "I am pleased to have escorted you this far but soon I will turn and engage our pursuers in combat. Once I have defeated them, I will make my way back to Fire via an alternative route."
"You're allowed into Wind under extreme circumstances, Lee-san," Mariko told him with an exasperated look, "and you have my permission as team captain to do so now. There's no way I'm leaving you on your own with so many enemy approaching."
"Please do not misunderstand me," Lee gave a small sharp smile, "I am looking forward confronting this band of miscreants. They have injured young Kaname-kun and I feel the need to repay them in kind. Please get the children to Suna hospital as soon as possible; I am sure the medical staff there will be more than willing to assist."
"Lee-san, I am not leaving you here to face so adversaries many alone!" snapped Mariko as if the taijutsuist were insane.
It wouldn't be the first time someone had thought that about him and sure as hell wouldn't be the last. Lee knew he was crazy; he just had his own special brand of it.
"I'm afraid, captain, you don't have a choice in the matter," Lee answered her with a deceptively friendly grin. "Ask Suna to send reinforcements if you feel it necessary but first you need to get the children to safety. I will see you back in Konoha."
With that, Lee hit the brakes and skidded to a halt right on the border of Wind.
"Lee-sensei?" Tamiko called back at him, surprised worry pitching her young voice higher than usual as she slowed to look back at him.
"Keep going, Tamiko-chan!" Lee yelled after her, striking a good-guy pose and flashing his widest grin. "Use all the power of your spring time to guide you beloved team mate to safety! It's up to you now, young blossom, guard them well and do your village proud!"
Both females shot him a look that said he was clearly mad but mixed into their expressions was gratefulness and worry. They knew they needed to get Kaname to medical treatment as soon as possible and didn't stop running. Turning back to the path they had just travelled, Lee saw his targets approaching.
Watch me, Gai-sensei, the Leaf Jounin thought as he crouched and slipped his hands into his orange leg-warmers, I will do our way of the ninja proud.
He straightened, impossibly weighted nunchucks clasped in bandaged hands, and took up his ready pose.
"Life Gate OPEN!"
The extra power flooded his veins, bringing with it both pain and euphoria as the third gate released. Lee was in trouble. Big trouble.
The one he was fighting against was a very skilled genjutsu and ninjutsu user. The man mixed physical attacks with illusionary ones and Lee – with his total inability of moulding chakra – had no idea what was real and had no way of breaking from the genjutsu's grasp. The attacks came so quickly and continuously that he could barely dodge them and it was incredibly frustrating that every time he struck out at his enemy it turned out to be an illusion. He didn't even know if the injuries he'd sustained were real or not!
He could only hope to increase his power enough that the one trying to control him would be overwhelmed and the illusion broken. When he had been caught in its influence there had been four enemies left. He had managed to kill two within the first few moments of combat when the shinobi were still wondering how he could be so stupid to confront all of them alone. He'd killed a third before they had fully comprehended the first two were dead and he was a very real threat. After that, things had gotten a little more challenging.
Through sheer desperation to finish the fight and make sure his teammates weren't still being pursued, Lee had dropped his leg warmers and taken to fighting with the weights contained within in the staff formation. He swung his pole through the wall of earth surging toward him only to have it waver and vanish as a kunai sliced into his thigh from behind. With a growl of annoyance, the Leaf Jounin slapped the other kunai from the air. Only half of them were real. He landed in a crouch and spun to see spikes of water flying toward him with his enemy standing behind them in a high tree branch, fingers locked in the 'horse' symbol.
Even though it was likely another illusion, Lee couldn't pass up the chance that it was actually the genjutsuist's real body. He kicked off the ground again and shot upward, dodging the sharp liquid projectiles and slamming his staff into where the man was standing. All that happened was the smirking figure vanished and he broke the tree in half. If Lee had been one to swear, he certainly would have let loose a rather colourful run of expletives at that moment. However, Gai-sensei had taught him to maintain his composure and integrity no matter the situation. Mastering both the body and mind was the way of taijutsu and his way of the ninja. These bandits were not going to make him lose that.
Just as he was about to tear open the fourth gate and kick into higher gear, what felt like an explosion rocked the area and threw Lee from the tree he was perched on. Quickly, he executed a tuck and roll and was preparing to catch a near by branch when there was a loud hissing sound and the world went black. Lee landed on a moving surface of sand and instantly started investigating his surroundings. His hands had to do the seeing for him in the dark and he quickly discovered he was in what felt like a ball of sand. Was it another illusion or something else all together?
Suddenly, a pressure eased from his mind and Lee felt some of his injuries disappear while others he had not been aware of emerged. It seemed like his five senses finally awoke properly again, losing the dullness that had settled over them while trapped under the illusion user's power. He felt lighter and infinitely more exhausted; a familiar sharp pain throbbed in his temples like it had when he would train under genjutsu with Gai-sensei. Lee felt confident he had been released. He was also confident he knew who had helped him.
The sand shifted and light poured in from above as the ball disintegrated. Stunning green eyes peered at from under crimson hair, a familiar and much missed face set in an expression of hard disapproval.
"You are weak against genjutsu. You should not have fought him."
"Hello Gaara," Lee grinned as he dropped to his haunches in the sand and felt the gates within start to close, heavy fatigue washed over him. "What are you doing in Bird Country?"
Gaara was glaring at him as a small muscle in the smooth pale jaw ticked, not a good sign. "I was informed of your situation."
"Mariko-san and the kids made it to Suna safely then?" Lee asked and at Gaara's small nod, he felt a weight fall from his shoulders. "That's good. Is Kaname-kun alright?"
The Sand shinobi gave an almost unseen shrug. "He was alive and being treated when I left. My doctors are very capable, I'm sure he's fine."
"Good. That's good." Lee flopped back into a sitting position and started making a proper mental assessment of his body's condition. Not too bad, he was sure he could run if absolutely necessary. "There were three others that might have gotten away while I was under the genjutsu."
"They're dead. I encountered them on the way here."
Lee gave his friend the once over automatically even though he knew that no shinobi of their level would have been able to get through the automatic sand defence. Sure enough, the Sand shinobi was untouched.
"You opened gates again," the Kazekage stated with displeasure obvious in his voice. "You are too reckless, you should have run."
Lee shrugged as he pulled out his canteen and swallowed large mouthfuls of water. Damn he was parched.
"Even if I had run I couldn't be sure I was really running. I wasn't even sure if I was really fighting and not just standing still while thinking I was fighting. There was no way to know what was real and what was being fed to me so I decided to stay true to my way of the ninja and try to break from the genjutsu. I am sure I was almost there and would have eventually triumphed over my foe through youthful determination, persistence, and raw power!"
Gaara's glare darkened dramatically as the sand around and under Lee swirled and hissed angrily. "You would have kept opening gates until you died. That is not permitted."
Ah, there really wasn't anything Lee could say to that. The emotionally unstable sand wielder did tend to get rather unsettled at the idea of his death so instead of arguing Lee decided to – just this once though – give in.
"Alright," he agreed nodding tiredly before grinning up at his friend. Gaara looked as gorgeous as the last time Lee had seen him, even with the angry scowl. Actually, the scowl was kind of dangerously sexy. "So you came to get me?"
"Yes, I have need of you," the Kazekage declared in his blunt manner and Lee's interest was instantly piqued. The last time Gaara had need of him they had been locked in hot and sweaty coitus for nearly three weeks.
"Oh?" he asked and took another deep drink of his water, his mouth suddenly dry for completely different reasons.
"I have decided to explore new territory and once again require your assistance," Gaara said and Lee's heart rate instantly doubled.
"I thought we had already thoroughly explored that territory," the taijutsuist answered as excitement heated in his veins.
"We have explored your territory, yes." The corners of Gaara's mouth tilted up the tiniest amount as green eyes glittered in their dark rims. "You have yet to explore mine, however."
Lee tried very hard not to come in his pants.
"After we crossed the border into Wind country, we made our way directly to the capital to seek medical assistance and shelter from the Kazekage," Mariko reported as she stood at attention in the Hokage's office. "They freely aided us and undoubtedly saved Kaname's life. I informed them of Lee-san's situation and asked that help be sent to him. I had no idea that the Kazekage would go personally to-"
"Wait a moment," Tsunade raised a hand to halt the shinobi's flow of words, "are you telling me that Gaara went and got Lee?"
Mariko looked rather uncomfortable. "Yes Hokage-sama."
Tsunade sat up a little straighter in her chair. "Where's Lee now?"
"Umm…" Mariko was saved from answering by a knock on the door.
"Excuse me, Tsunade-sama," Shizune said as she entered the office looking a little nervous. "You have a visitor that I think you'll want to see immediately."
Stepping to the side, the dark haired assistant revealed a fat little man with a scrappy moustache and ruddy cheeks.
"Hello again, Tsunade-sama," greeted Hitoshi with his most disarming smile.
"Oh no," Tsunade groaned tetchily as she rose to her feet, "not again."
Skin as pale as sandstone and smooth as marble slid against Lee's callous roughened fingertips. It was like warm, living silk unmarred by the ravages of battle and housing a power far greater than Lee could hope to comprehend. Brilliant and beautiful, it was wrapped around him in strong, slender limbs that clung tightly. Gaara rode him slowly, leisurely, his breath catching with each roll of his hips. Lee's hands – hands that could crush stone without thought or effort – carefully cradled the Kazekage's exquisite backside and supported him as he moved.
He caught a nipple the colour of light rose quartz between his teeth and worried it gently, loving the way the graceful curve of Gaara's spine arched as the Sand shinobi pressed closer to him. They paused like that for a moment, Lee holding his lover up, just the head of his erection pressed inside gloriously tight heat while he nibbled and teased the hard nub between his lips. Hands tangled themselves in his mussed black hair, alternatively tugging away and pressing him closer as if they weren't sure what they really wanted.
With a sharp suck, Lee slid Gaara down his body and ran his tongue up the pale chest to press his lips against the pulse thundering at the side of the long throat. The salt of sweat tingled on his tongue and the heady scent of arousal sat heavy in his nostrils. Each time Gaara rose, the redhead would inhale deeply through is nose and his expression would soften, like a man emerging into sunlight and breathing deep after being trapped underwater. With Lee only just still inside him, the pale shinobi would pause for a heartbeat before descending again. As Lee slid back inside him, Gaara would expel all the air from his lungs in a long sigh and his forehead would furrow, lips parting to show even white teeth. The Kazekage's breath would always hitch slightly when his prostate was brushed and Lee would roll his hips to enhance the sensation for his lover.
Lee just couldn't get enough of watching the tightly controlled man's changes of expression. They were beautifully captivating.
Vivid turquoise eyes were slitted, barely visible behind the dark pigmentation that ringed them, hazed, and blinded by pleasure. Deep scarlet hair clung to flawlessly pale skin in damp clumps that highlighted the aroused flush on high cheekbones. Gaara appeared to revel in their easy pace, their slow lovemaking, which contrasted so differently to how they had coupled together before. When the Sand shinobi had been the one taking Lee, their pace had been faster, more energetic, and slightly rough. It had been exactly what Lee wanted and Gaara had certainly appeared to feel the same way.
When it had come time for Lee to take Gaara, however, he had wanted it to be slower, gentler. Lee was too aware of his own strength to feel comfortable going too fast and the automatic sand defence had to be taken into consideration as well. If Lee was to be completely honest though, it because deep down inside – well, really it was more just below the surface – he was a hopeless romantic. And watching Gaara explore and experience the new pleasures of bottoming for the first time had been beyond description.
Gaara's voice was breathy with an edge of need and Lee knew exactly what it meant. The Leaf Jounin shifted his position and began to thrust into the tightening passage faster. Green irises disappeared behind closed eyelids and slightly dry lips opened on a soundless moan as Gaara began to rock his hips at an ever-quickening pace. Lee could feel the small, tell tale convulsions around his hardness and slowly, teasingly, trailed a scarred hand across the silky damp skin of a hip. Taking hold of the erection dripping over his stomach, the taijutsu master watched as his lover's head bowed forward and the normally stoic features transformed into something desperately wanting.
This was by far Lee's favourite expression to watch and he slowed his thrusts just a little in order to prolong it.
"Look who finally decided to come home," Tsunade chirped sarcastically when Lee entered her office. "Nice of you to join to us again, I hope we didn't interrupt your little vacation too much."
Lee's face was a good solid red of embarrassment as he marched over and stood at attention in front of the Hokage.
"I'm sorry I was away for so long, Tsunade-sama," Lee apologised as he saluted smartly. "It was a difficult situation to extract myself from." He blushed a little darker, mortified at his choice of words and the unintended innuendo in them.
"I'll bet," the buxom woman drawled with an amused tilt to her lips. "I'll make this short, Lee. You did an excellent job on the mission and showed great courage – and more than a little stupidity – in allowing your team to reach safety. I commend you on that; you're truly an excellent example of a shinobi of Fire Country."
At his Hokage's words, Lee couldn't help but feel deeply touched. It was so rare he was praised by anyone other than Gai-sensei.
"Not done yet!" Tusnade interrupted him sharply and Lee fell silent instantly and straightened his spine a little more. "I am not impressed that you have once again managed to get yourself into a situation where I've had to issue threats to have you returned! This is the second time, Lee. I have already told you it was never to happen again and it did. It's completely unacceptable. This will absolutely be the last time, you understand me?"
"Yes Hokage-sama!" Lee answered and snapped into another salute.
"Don't let this happen again. I'm serious, Lee."
It happened during a hard sparring session at the village's outer training field. Lee and Gai had decided to take a quick break and rejuvenate their bodies with some of his mighty instructor's amazing Power Tonic. It was a new recipe that tasted like mackerel mixed with elderberries and burned from lips to stomach but was wonderful in reawakening the senses and clearing the sinuses. Every time Lee took a drink, his nose would run and his eyes would water but his body certainly felt more awake. It was also an excellent cleanser as Lee knew he would spend most of the evening on the toilet.
There had been only the slightest hint of movement in the vegetation, just a shadow moving in a way different to the surrounding forest, before figures dashed onto the field. The taijutsuists automatically snapped into their ready poses as they were confronted by four cloaked and masked ANBU operatives. The masks bore the design of Wind Country and Lee knew his confusion would be showing on his face. What were they doing here? Darting a quick look at his instructor showed that the older man looked less confused and more resolved, as if he had been expecting their arrival at some point. Obviously, Lee realised, he had missed something but his former sensei was prepared as always.
"Lee-san," one of the masked figures spoke, "we require you to accompany us-"
"If you are going to enter our beloved village you are required to do so via the main gate and register your presence with the proper authorities," Gai interrupted sharply, taking a step toward the ANBU. "I am assuming you have done so already and our Hokage is fully aware of you being here. Is this the case?"
There was an awkward pause and one of the ANBU toward the back of the group shuffled a little.
"Gai-san, we have been in-"
"Is this the case?" Gai demanded again with a harsh edge in his tone and Lee felt his muscles ready for combat. If the Wind ANBU had not registered at the gate then they were trespassing and although there was an alliance between their villages, it could be seen as an act of disrespect if not hostility. Kami help them that this wasn't the case.
There was another flash of movement and Kakashi landed next to Gai along with the senbon user Genma.
"That's not the case at all, I'm afraid," Kakashi said in a deceptively mild tone.
The Copy-nin sounded and looked relaxed but his headband was up, both eyes uncovered though the sharingan still hidden behind the scarred lid. Likewise, Genma's senbon was no longer between his teeth but twirling between deft fingers.
"I'm sure these boys just got a little lost and were stopping by to ask directions on where to sign in." Genma grinned at the masked figures. "Isn't that right, fellas?"
The Wind ANBU's body language was projecting both wariness and readiness though they were careful not to make any movement toward weapons. Of course, being the elite of Wind they didn't really need weapons to be incredibly formidable. The masked shinobi who had originally spoken, blue swirls decorating his mask, spread his hands in a non-threatening gesture.
"We have simply come to deliver a message to Lee-san."
Regardless of their alliance with Wind and Lee's blossoming love for their Kazekage, his loyalties were first and foremost to his village and there were protocols in place for a reason. He was a mighty Jounin of Leaf and would act like one.
"I will be more than happy to receive that message," Lee said, a determined narrowing to his eyes, "after you have registered your presence as is proper procedure. I understand that you have gotten turned around in this unfamiliar territory so it will be my honour to guide you to the gate. Will you please follow me?"
There was a moment's uncomfortable silence before all four masked heads dipped in small but acknowledging bows. "Of course, Lee-san, please guide us."
As the group moved off, Gai clapped Lee on the shoulder proudly, Kakashi lowered his hitaiate, and Genma stuck his senbon back between his lips.
"Someone up there is messing with me," Tsunade groaned into her sake cup and glared at the photo of Jiraiya on her desk. "It's you, isn't it? This is payback for when you groped me in that bar in Tea Country and I broke your jaw."
"I'm quite sure that Jiraiya-sama wouldn't do something like this." Shizune smiled as she poured her long time friend another drink and herself one in the process. "That isn't to say that he's not likely laughing his head off about it though."
The blond haired woman snorted inelegantly in amusement before swallowing some of the potent liquid. "Without a doubt. Hoi!" she called out and the head of a Konoha ANBU materialised from the ceiling. "Have they left yet?"
"Not yet," the woman wearing a red patterned mask representing a deer answered. "By all accounts they are still kneeling at Gai-san's feet and trying to persuade him to allow Lee-san to leave with them. Apparently the honoured Kazekage is becoming somewhat 'frustrated'."
The two women sitting with their drinks cracked up laughing.
"Oh god, teenagers." Shizune chuckled as she took another sip from her cup. "They really are quite desperate."
"The ANBU or the brat?" Tsunade quipped in delight.
"Both, but the ANBU certainly are laying down their dignity on this one."
"Yeah, well, would you want to go back to a frustrated Gaara and report that you failed in this particular mission?" Tsunade asked with a devious little grin. "Where's Lee now?" she asked the ANBU still hovering through the ceiling.
There was amusement in the masked woman's voice as she answered. "Still sitting on the wall between Kakashi-san and Genma-san who are taking absolute delight in teasing the hell out of him."
"Good, he needs it," Tsunade chuckled. "Shizune, I do believe we're going to have to make another entry in that lovely little document."
The dark haired assistant grinned and rose far more gracefully to her feet than anyone who had just drunk more than half a bottle of sake should be capable of.
"Of course, Tsunade-sama." She retrieved a scroll from a near by rack and unfurled it on the Hokage desk with a flourish. "May I also suggest sending the updated version to a certain village leader via the convenient means of communication currently grovelling at the front gate?"
"Ooh, grovelling," Tsunade mused. "Good word. Might have to use that."
Under no circumstances are intended allowed on missions anywhere near their suitor's Village. Lady Tsunade had to threaten Lord Kazekage with physical harm if the man did not return her taijutsu specialist.
(Addition to afore mentioned rule)
Under no circumstances is the mentioned Kazekage's ANBU guard allowed anywhere near the Village Hidden in the Leaf in an attempt to steal said taijutsu specialist. Nor will their grovelling and begging on their hands and knees get them past the main gate and Gai-sensei.
Gaara finished reading the correspondence from the leader of Konoha – hastily delivered to him by the team of nervous ANBU in lieu of what (or who) they had actually been ordered to retrieve – and tossed the scroll onto his desk with an annoyed huff. The text 'Rule #31' stood out boldly against the white parchment and the Kazekage was sorely tempted to shred the document containing the latest copy of Fire Country's Shinobi Rules of Courtship.
"Meddlesome old bat," the sand wielder muttered darkly as he settled back in his chair with a brooding glare. "Kankuro never has this much trouble."
He sat quietly for a time, glaring at the scroll hard enough that the page might have actually withered slightly while mulling over the problem in his head. It didn't take very long to come up with a plausible solution that would benefit both villages and work to strengthen the alliance while affording him the true outcome he desired. He wasn't a genius for nothing. Rising to his feet, he left the gourd leaning against his desk as he exited his office and traversed the sort distance to his sister's. Fortunately, the wind mistress was working late and still at her desk pouring over diplomatic trade agreements.
"Temari." The young woman marked her reading place with her finger and looked up at him.
"Hey, you're still here? What time is it?" she asked as she looked around for her desk clock, which had been buried somewhere beneath the mountains of paperwork. It was not unusual for the both of them to lose track of time, Temari being a workaholic and Gaara an insomniac.
"Late," he answered her. "We are going for dinner and to discuss a new program I want implemented as soon as possible."
Teal eyes narrowed slightly in confusion at his words. "Dinner sounds good but what new program are you talking about?"
"A shinobi exchange program with Leaf."
The teal eyes widened. "Umm… Gaara, I'm not sure that-"
"The two candidates I'm most interested in participating are Lee and Shikamaru," he interrupted her and noted with satisfaction the surprised raising of blond eyebrows and the light flush that coloured his sister's cheeks.
They stared at each other for a moment before Temari's expression split into a wide devious smile. "I'll bring some notepaper to dinner, shall I?"
"Do that," Gaara said as he turned to go and retrieve his gourd, the finer details of the program proposal already being analysed in his head.
The End ^_^