ALONE

Alone in the dark and in pain, Sakura couldn't see the moon over the tops of the trees. She was wet, cold, miserable, and incapacitated. Her chakra was down to zero and she had an injury to her leg, but thankfully it was not life threatening. Naruto was most likely reaching Suna about now, so she knew that it wouldn't be long before a rescue party began searching for her.

Shifting her body on the mossy, forest floor, she took comfort in the fact that she was still within the borders of the Land of Fire. The sounds of nearby animals were an unexpected comfort as she drifted off to sleep.

Sakura dreamt of shifting sand and a wave of ice that seemed to come out of nowhere, and then woke to the sounds of battle. Her vision was blurred in her first moments of consciousness, and she knew somebody was nearby; four people. To her shock, one of them was the Kazekage, Gaara.

Sakura struggled to sit up as a blast of wind grazed her. It obliterated the tree behind her and shafts of light poured in from above the canopy. She held her bleeding arms unevenly in front of her face, afraid of what sight would greet her if she opened her eyes.

It seemed to take forever, but eventually, a soft, deep voice was calling her name. She peeked out from behind her trembling defences and gasped, lowering her guard at last.

'Gaara?' She rose to her knees and crawled over to him.

What power had exhausted the Kazekage, and so quickly? Whoever it had been, there was no sign of them. The forest had been trampled; the sign of battle the only explanation for Gaara's limp and exhausted body.

'Sakura,' he said softly. 'I apologize for being so late. Naruto was w-worried─'

'Sshh.' Sakura grabbed his shoulder. 'Here, let me help you.'

She held her hands over his abdomen and concentrated. 'Come on.'

Her sleep on the forest floor had begun to restore her chakra, but unfortunately, she could not heal him completely. Dropping to the ground next to him, she sighed.

'That's all I can do in my condition,' she said. 'We both just need to rest up. Then we can head to Suna.'

Gaara nodded his head. 'Thank-you.'

She smiled, leaning against him. He was definitely more comfortable than the tree. Sakura could not fall sleep again however, and listening to his breathing, knew that Gaara was also awake. Just remembering that demon was once inside of him, she could not relax. But it was gone, and he was not that man anymore. Focusing on his breathing and feeling the warmth of his body, she tried to at least to rest her eyes. They were allies after all. It had been so long ago that he had been a homicidal maniac, bent on killing Uchiha Sasuke, or anyone else that got in his way. Sakura sighed, shifting her head slightly.

'You should really sleep,' Gaara said, his deep voice reverberating through his chest and having a soothing effect.

Her eyelids grew heavy and her body screamed for sleep. Perhaps he was right. It was time to finally let her guard down around him. After all, it was him who had come to her rescue. No longer caring about anything but the steady, soothing breathing of her rescuer, she drifted off to sleep.

Sakura woke in the early hours, when there was barely enough light to see her hand in front of her face. Gaara was as still and silent a sentinel as ever - clearly staying awake was still second nature to him. He had spent the majority of his life avoiding sleep after all. Her waking did not go unnoticed.

'Are you okay?' He asked.

She nodded. 'I'm comfortable.'

'Really?'

'You're quite warm too.' It was lucky for Gaara that it was still mildly dark. She imagined he was blushing. 'You're a very soothing person; your voice, your demeanour and your scent.' She sighed heavily, teasing him.

His breathing quickened - he was probably too embarrassed to respond. Sakura giggled. 'Relax, Gaara. I was only teasing. We're alone out here, in the woods. It's me who should be concerned about being taken advantage of, by you.' She giggled again. 'Although,' she sat up enough to stare into those pale eyes. 'It would warm me up.'

'Uh, Sakura-'

'Oh come on, Gaara, Kazekage of the Sand, do you really have anything else pressing you need to be doing?'

Gaara was an indecisive person. He mulled over her words. 'Are you teasing me again?'

She shook her head. 'I giggle too much when I tease. So, Gaara, do I look even remotely hysterical right now?'

A soft ray of light hit his face as the canopy above them shifted in a gentle gust of wind.

'You want to do what exactly? Make out on the forest floor?' His face was slightly tinted pink. She could tell he was both embarrassed and interested by her proposal.

'Okay,' she thought. 'I'll put the poor guy out of his misery.'

Sakura leant into Gaara and kissed him. It was intended to be a taste of her, just to see how he would react, and boy did he react! She was half on him, half off, kissing him passionately and letting his hands rest on her. There was no-one else in this world, no greenery nearby and no sound in the vicinity during their intimate encounter. She had no intention of sleeping with him while lying amongst bushes and kindling, so it never went that far.

But she found herself wanting more. This mission to gather intelligence on Orochimaru that had gone wrong had turned out to be far more interesting than intended. She moaned into Gaara's mouth enjoying his touch, his smell and the gentle caress of his fingers on her bare skin. She moved his hand downward, to indicate he had her permission to explore, and she did the same.

'Why am I not nervous?' The thought didn't bother her, but it made her wonder.

She held off from going any further with Gaara, just indulging in this encounter, living in this moment of pure bliss. But it had to end at some point, and when they both came up for air, she silently scolded herself. That look of delight and confusion on his face, that cute way she could just tell he was wondering what this all would eventually mean. She had made her bed with this one, and was excited at that prospect.

'I want you so much.' She told him silently, and then said aloud: 'Well, that was refreshing.'

Sakura had had no idea, when she entertained the idea of making out with the Kazekage, that she would want more. And not just of his kisses, or his cute, innocent expressions, but also of him. There was a future in this. She could see it. She just hoped he saw it too.

He sighed deeply. 'It certainly was.'

Sakura grinned down at him, still hovering, and her body against his. 'Well, Kazekage, shall we head back to Suna?'

'Huh?' He was confused.

She ruffled his hair, loving the feel of it. Yeah, she was a hair fanatic. 'If we've got enough stamina to make out, we've got plenty to hoof it back to your place.'

She winked at him cheekily.