Just a Smile
Warning: rated for language and slight sexual content.
Note: I don't own the characters, just this story plot which is only going to be a one-shot for the holidays. So enjoy!
Gaara sighed to himself, looking over the stack of papers he had sitting on the coffee table in front of him. He'd been in Konoha for a few days now, attending Kage meetings and discussing negotiations for old contracts and other things that were necessary, but far from interesting. He had a few hours before the next meeting and the last thing he wanted to be doing was more paperwork when he'd just be handed another stack at the end of the day.
What made it all the more tiring for the redhead, was that right now all the people of Konoha were running around the shops, buying gifts for their families and rushing about for dinner ingredients. It was Christmas Eve for the people of Konoha.
He'd even seen a few shinobi running by over the roof tops as well, trying to avoid the crowded streets below, or so Gaara assumed.
Right now he'd love to be out there with them, but there was no point in wishing. Gaara wasn't from here and the only friends he'd made in the town were Naruto and a few people the blonde had introduced him to. The blonde was far too busy crashing a certain Uchiha's solitude for the holiday to be worrying about his bored and lonely friend. It wasn't as if the redhead really knew much about Christmas anyway, it just looked far more appealing from where he stood looking out one of the higher up windows of the Hokage Tower.
It wouldn't have been so bad being in the small apartment he and his siblings were staying in if it hadn't been so empty. Temari had left early that morning to go make herself at home with Shikamaru and his parents. She'd purposely told both he and Kankuro that she wouldn't be back for a few days, meaning Gaara was going to be left alone with a less than thrilled puppet wielder for company.
That had been before he'd come back from his last meeting though. He'd been surprised to come in and find the entire apartment dark and he older brother no where to be found.
Eventually he'd come across a quickly scribbled letter from the boy telling him he was going to be at the Hyuuga Estate for the rest of the day and not to wait up for him. This meant that Gaara was alone for the day, if not the next few as well. Chances were, Kankuro wouldn't be coming back for a few days either. He never planned to stay long at the Hyuuga house, but the redheaded sand wielder knew better. Hinata's sweet face appealed to his brother far more than it should have, and if she asked, he'd stay.
Gaara was certain she'd ask if she hadn't already.
As much as he hated to admit it to himself, Gaara was rightfully jealous of both his siblings. He was envious of Temari because she and Shikamaru had been together for two years now, and were closer now than ever, which they made clear with all the cuddling and silly fights they had whenever they were in town. Shikamaru often got sent to Suna on missions as well. Gaara wanted someone to come and see him like that when he couldn't leave his office in Suna.
Then there was Kankuro. Gaara was downright jealous of the purple and black clad boy. Not only did he get to go to the Hyuuga Estate whenever he wanted, but he got to be in the same house Neji lived in.
The boy was all too kind too, always rubbing this fact in Gaara's face. They both knew he held a certain liking for the older Hyuuga boy. Not that he'd ever tell another soul, having his siblings and Naruto know was bad enough, he was teased for it mercilessly.
Gaara sighed quietly to himself once more and pulled his gaze away from the window, deciding that paperwork was better than feeling lonely and jealous of the world for getting to have more fun than he did.
Neji grinned to himself as he headed down the snow covered streets toward the Hokage Tower. Today was the perfect chance for him to finally let Gaara know he actually cared about him, without being embarrassed about being caught by his siblings and thrown out. It was going to be hard work getting to the boy, but the white-eyed boy was determined to do it. Not that he was actually going to come out and say 'I love you! Marry me Gaara!' He was going to be way more discreet about it. Spending time with the boy had to come first and that's was Neji was aiming for today.
About an hour ago he'd been pacing the hallways of the Hyuuga house, bored out of his mind. He wasn't allowed to leave because everyone in the family was gathering together for dinner that night and he was obligated to be there. However, Kankuro had shown up and immediately been invited to stay for the night as well as for dinner, meaning that was one less person he had to worry about.
Then there'd been the overly helpful conversation he'd overheard between his cousin and Kankuro when they'd been talking in the library and he'd "just happened" to be pacing by.
"Kankuro, are you sure you should be staying tonight? It was going to be just you and Gaara right? What if he gets lonely? It's Christmas..."
"Hinata. He'll be fine, Gaara doesn't get lonely. He'll understand. Besides he's probably too busy with meetings to notice I'm gone."
Neji made a disapproving noise at the comment but continued listening, knowing full well that Kankuro hardly knew Gaara very well. Neji happened to be friends with Naruto, who was best friends with the redhead. This meant that Naruto talked endlessly about Gaara when he was worried about him, and who better to go to then the boy who actually liked hearing about a certain Kazekage?
Neji was the person Naruto went to when Gaara was feeling down or upset because Naruto's big heart just couldn't hold it in when he was worried about his friends. Neji knew the quiet redhead far better than Kankuro could ever dream to because of the blonde, something he took great pride in.
"That's not a nice thing to say Kankuro!"
Hinata's disapproving tone snapped Neji out of his thoughts.
"I'm sure he loves you and Temari and likes spending time with the both of you."
Kankuro gave a snort and Neji decided he'd have to kick the guy later for being so arrogant.
"Gaara isn't the loving kind Hinata. You don't know him as well as I do."
'You don't know him as well as you think you jack ass.' Neji thought, folding his arms and leaning back against the wall, a little upset by where this conversation was going. How could the boy be so uncaring? And with his little brother too.
"I may not know him very well, but I know he's still human! Everyone gets lonely Kankuro, he can't be above that. Besides, it's Christmas-"
"Christmas doesn't exist in Suna so that really isn't going to convince me I need to go back and spend it with Gaara."
"But you're here now and it does exist here! I'm sure he knows it's a holiday that families spend together."
"Believe what you want Hinata, I'm still not going to leave until after dinner. Your father has been so kind as to invite me to join you after all."
"You're so heartless."
"But you still like to see me and spend time with me so you can't be that upset. If it would make you feel better though I'll go hog tie that cousin of yours, tie a big red bow around him and leave him on the doorstep of our apartment for my brother. That way Gaara wouldn't be alone and I'd get that overprotective snob out of our hair. How does that sound?"
"Come on Hinata, you know as well as I do that that boy will do nothing but try to split us up for the rest of the night. Besides, it'd be the best gift I could ever give my brother. I'll never understand why he likes Neji, of all people, the boy is an ass. But since he does, he'd be the perfect present. See, I'm not that heartless!"
This was news to Neji. His eyes widened in surprise and he leaned a little closer to the crack in the door, not wanting to miss anything.
"Neji isn't that bad Kankuro. He just doesn't like you and so doesn't like the fact that we're so close. I can understand where he's coming from, I mean you certainly aren't very nice to him. Maybe he'd back off if you stopped being such an ass to him, he just wants to keep me safe. Like any GOOD older brother would."
Even Neji didn't miss the blatantly obvious jab Hinata had just made at Kankuro's expense.
"HEY! I'm an amazing older brother-"
"No, you're a horrible one. I've seen the way you act with Gaara and our conversation certainly hasn't proved differently to me. Neji is a much better older brother, and he's only my cousin. You could learn from him Kankuro."
Neji grinned and left the two to themselves, hearing Kankuro make an angry squawking noise at Hinata's words as he made his way around the corner and to the coat closet. In his opinion, Kankuro deserved everything Hinata had just said. Yet as much as he wanted to stay just to piss the older Sabaku off, he had better things to do tonight. Much more exciting than sitting at a table with a bunch of people who barely talked to him anyway. He knew he wouldn't be missed.
So after quietly sneaking out, that's how Neji found himself wandering the streets, purposefully moving in the direction of the redhead he'd been dying to see since he'd eavesdropped on his cousin.
He made his way carefully over icy sidewalk to the front of the building Gaara was staying in, carrying a grocery bag in one hand and a wrapped gift in the other. This was going to be an interesting meeting to say the least, but as bold as it was to just show up at the boy's door, Neji was more than excited to do so.
Gaara had successfully finished the stack of paper work on the coffee table and was staring at the ceiling exhaustedly, when the he heard a knock coming from the front door. It couldn't have been his siblings since they would have just walked in, but it couldn't have been a summons either since he still had a few hours before his next meeting. Gaara got up and he answered the door, his curiosity getting the better of him.
He was not expecting the person he found on the other side.
"Good evening, Gaara."
Neji smiled brightly at the redhead and Gaara couldn't swear his heart didn't just melt at the sight. The boy looked better than he remembered, it'd been awhile since he'd seen him. Gaara mentally shook himself and he opened the door enough for Neji to come inside where it felt like summer. The redhead was from Suna, a desert, of course he was freezing and had the heater on full blast.
"I'm surprised to see you here."
Neji grinned sheepishly and gave Gaara an apologetic look.
"It's Christmas, and since your brother's presence is taking up my house I decided I'd rather be here."
That sounded lame to Neji. He shook his head, deciding he'd be better off just being boldly honest. Gaara was the type of guy who liked to get to the point.
"Truthfully, I was just looking for an excuse to come see you. It's been awhile and you certainly don't deserve to be left alone on a holiday like this, even if you don't celebrate it."
Gaara felt his face heat up and he knew perfectly well it had nothing to do with the warm room. He was totally being hit on, and what an amazing way to go about it too.
"Is that so? Well I did have a meeting to go to in a few hours, but since you took the time of coming so far... Will you stay for dinner?"
Gaara was not going to let his chance with the boy slip by, not for anything. Tsunade's meeting could wait until after Christmas if necessary.
"As long as you let me cook for you."
Gaara was even more thrilled by this answer and he made sure to hide his smile by turning away from Neji to shut the door behind the older boy. Neji didn't miss it though and a grin spread over his face as well.
"I think I'd like that."
"It's settled then. I'll start dinner."
Gaara watched Neji pull things out of the grocery bag he hadn't noticed he'd been carrying. He pulled out potatoes, leeks, a few other vegetables, cheese, and a pre-baked loaf of delicious smelling herb bread. The redhead's night was certainly looking up.
"Hope you don't mind. I was going to make soup for the two of us, but it's a lot warmer in here than I expected. You'd probably like something else huh?"
"Not at all. Soup sounds perfect."
Gaara answered quickly, discreetly turning off the heater by flipping the switch on the wall, hidden behind his back. Having the heater off seemed like a much better idea right now. Not only was his crush making him something warm, he'd also probably let Gaara cuddle closer to him if it got cold.
Suddenly turning the heater off was the best idea he'd ever had.
Neji smiled over at him before searching the drawers in the kitchen for standard cooking equipment left in all the rooms.
"I brought you a gift by the way. It's next to the bag, just don't open it yet. I want to see your face when you do."
Gaara looked over at said bag and noticed a brightly wrapped box sitting on the counter next to it. Was he supposed to have gotten a gift too? Crap, it wasn't like he'd planned this visit.
"I didn't get you anything."
The redhead said blankly. Neji just looked up and grinned, a knife for cutting vegetables in his hand.
"Don't worry about it. I'm just happy to be here, that's good enough for me."
Gaara wasn't going to give up that easily though. Neji was being far nicer than necessary and he deserved something special, Gaara just wasn't sure what.
When dinner was done and the two of them had eaten enough for four people, Gaara helped Neji clean up the dishes and get them washed before the two of them sunk down on the living room couch.
"So how'd you know I was alone?"
Gaara hadn't forgotten that little comment and he was curious.
Neji looked a little embarrassed at the question but eventually answered as best he could.
"Your brother was talking to my cousin. I can't remember what they were talking about at first, but eventually they got to talking about how you were left here alone because Kankuro had decided to stay for dinner at my house. They mentioned a few other things and I decided I'd rather be here with you than there with a bunch of stuffy old men talking business."
"What other things did my brother say?"
Gaara was starting to believe Kankuro had let his secret slip. Neji was probably here to officially, but nicely, turn him down. That was not a happy thought.
"He asked Hinata if tying me up in a red bow and leaving me on your doorstep would be an appropriate enough gift."
"He WHAT now?"
Neji laughed at the shocked look on Gaara's face.
"He told my cousin you liked me and since I've been looking for the perfect time to talk to you and possibly seduce you, I thought tonight was the best time to do so."
"Seduce me huh?"
Gaara's tone came off a little flat, but he was just using it to cover up what he really felt at the statement. Neji was doing an amazing job in the seducing department, and Gaara was thoroughly enjoying himself.
"Unless you don't wish me to, yes."
"Oh I wish you to."
Gaara said quietly looking up to see the smug, pleased look on Neji's face. So he wasn't getting dumped before there'd even been anything between them. Thank god.
"Oh, here. Before you do anything else, I want you to open this."
Gaara leaned a little closer to Neji and took the present offered to him. He'd almost completely forgotten about it. The dinner and conversation had been distracting. Once the present was in the redhead's hands, Neji watched him carefully unwrap it without ripping the paper and smiled when a questioning look came over Gaara's face. He never would have expected Gaara to be such a curious person. He was excitedly pulling out the filler paper and Neji could easily see the curiosity filling his eyes. Gaara's fingers paused when all the paper was gone and he could see what was in the box. The curious and excited look, slowly melted into a soft, sweet smile.
Neji was blown away by that smile. He'd never seen the boy smile like that and it was a gorgeous expression on the boy. This was the greatest present Neji could have asked for.
Gaara pulled out a small bag of home baked cookies and set those on the coffee table next to his previously finished paperwork. He loved cookies, especially fresh, chocolate chip ones like these, but that wasn't what had him smiling in such a way. Neji had also gotten him a small stuffed panda bear teddy.
"I would have gotten a little raccoon but they didn't have any."
Gaara looked up from his gift, the smile staying on his lips.
"This is perfect. I had a teddy bear just like this one when I was little. I'd take it everywhere with me and when I was too old to carry it around, I kept it sitting next to my bed. It got so torn up I ended up having to throw it away because all the stuffing was coming out of it and getting all over everything. I kept it for years though before Temari made me toss it. Thank you Neji."
Neji smiled back and nodded. He was glad he'd gotten the chance to make Gaara so happy.
Gaara thought up the perfect gift to give Neji back and set his present down carefully on the table. Neji was completely surprised when Gaara was suddenly straddling his lap, facing him.
Said redhead ignored the question and proceeded to claim Neji's lips with his own. He wasn't soft about it either. He lifted himself up on his knees and lifted Neji's chin so he could lean the boy back against the couch as he kissed him. Neji's lips were firm against his soft ones and he loved the contrast, the boy didn't seem at all shy about kissing him back either.
When Gaara finally pulled back, he was panting and flushed, Neji looked up at him when he finally managed to lift his head off the back of the couch.
"Why'd you stop?" Neji wasn't liking the absence of Gaara's warm body against his own.
"Stay the night with me?"
Neji was even more surprised by that question, but immediately nodded his head.
"If you'll have me."
"Oh I'll have you. As many ways as I can before we both collapse."
Gaara whispered the last sentence into Neji's ear before crawling off of him to write a letter to Tsunade, she at least needed to know he wasn't going to be making it to their meeting.
Tsunade sighed as she shoved a few unfinished papers off her desk to make room for her feet. She was not in the mood to sit through any more meetings with the other Kages but she had another one soon and wanted to relax before she had to meet with Gaara, it was her last meeting for the day and she wanted to get it over with. At least he was one of those Kages she could stand. The rest were unbelievable. Tsunade tipped back a bit more whiskey before Shizune suddenly barged into her office, looking at her feet disapprovingly before a letter was shoved into the Hokage's hands.
"A letter from Gaara?" Tsunade mumbled, reading the front of the envelope before moving onto the letter itself.
Due to some unforeseen circumstances, I'm going to be holding one of your shinobi hostage for the rest of tonight and hopefully the better part of tomorrow as well. Because of that I will not be making it to our meeting. I'll talk to Shizune when I'm free again to reschedule. If any of the Hyuugas come asking for Neji, tell them they'll have to bring it up with me as I refuse to let him leave until I'm finished with him.
Sabaku no Gaara
Tsunade was going to have to remember to thank the brat for giving her a free night now that she no longer had to suffer those last few hours of her day. The boy had just made her night and Neji was probably making Gaara's right now. Tsunade smirked, dirty thoughts filling her head.
Hope you enjoyed this story! Happy Holidays...
And for anyone curious, no, I haven't forgotten my other stories... I just haven't had time to update them but during this break I'll do my best to fix that...
So look for the updates to Aishiteru Academy and Surviving the South!