He heard the voice clear right next to him, on his left side to be exact. He was sitting upright in a chair; his fingers brushed the armrests, the pads of his fingertips recognizing the grooves in the wood to be the throne he sat on when greeting guests, diplomats and other men of high standards. The eyelid of his right eye twitched and he was surprised to not feel grains of sand. What happened to the storm? What happened to the cavern? A powerful pain sprang up between his eyes and he groaned as he bent forward eyes squeezing shut.
"If the Kazekage is taking a nap, we certainly wouldn't want to disturb his rest," the feminine voice was smooth with sarcasm and familiarity.
His mind ran in several directions trying with all his might to grab hold of some remembrance of what happened and why this felt so familiar. That voice was so eerily familiar, the tone the atmosphere.
Gaara's eyes snapped open and landed immediately on the dark haired woman that had tormented him for five years. She gazed right back at him her lilac eyes dancing with mirth and excitement. He frowned as he tried to figure out what had happened. The Hyuuga family stood before him the clan leader, his nephew Neji, his daughters Hanabi and Hinata.
The scene before him looked vaguely familiar, in fact Hinata looked a little younger, stress lines around her mouth were gone, the silver in her hair had vanished, and those unusual eyes were clear and bright no sign of the strain of five years.
"What are you doing here?" Gaara asked his voice felt dry and crackly feeling. "Get me water," he ordered to Matsuri who stood to his left.
Hinata's eyebrows rose delicately up as her lips twitched with humor further irritating the Kazekage as his eyes narrowed and his lips pressed into a line. Finally giving in Hinata's lovely mouth broke into a smile. Matsuri handed Gaara the water and he drank from it not letting his eyes leave Hinata.
"Forgive my oldest child's sharp tongue. I am here today to pay my respect and recognize Gaara of the Desert as the Kazekage of Sunagakure," Hiashi addressed, his tone cool and smooth. "Accompanying me is my nephew and future clan leader, Neji, along with my youngest daughter, Hanabi."
Gaara watched as two of the three figures behind the Hyuuga leader stepped forward. It was going just like it had five years ago, only Hinata had made her presence fully known to him. Suddenly Gaara felt himself grow cold as he remembered what came next in the little presentation going on before him. His fingers gripped the armrests of his chair and his eyes locked with Hinata's as she stared back with eyes shimmering with curiosity and laughter as if she wasn't afraid of what her father was going to say next.
"May I present my clan's gift to you," Hiashi announced waving a hand to Hinata.
Gaara's aqua gaze jerked to Hiashi in shock, skin paling just enough to cause the dark rings around his eyes to stand out in stark contrast. His hands gripped the armrests of his chair and he again stared at Hinata.
Her lips turned into a half smile as she stepped forward. Gaara felt the protest start to gurgle out from his throat, he was ready this time to reject his gift, reject the pain and sorrow that it would bring to his future, but before he could get the words out Hinata interrupted. She did so by pulling from behind her back a large scroll and offered it.
"A copy of our clans detailed chakra chart of the human body for your medical ninjas use," Hiashi explained in a lofty tone of voice.
Gaara met the dancing eyes of Hinata as she peered over the scroll. The little she-devil knew exactly what was going on and Gaara was clueless.
"I accept this gift with gratitude," Gaara replied with relief, he reached out and took the scroll. A shock of awareness went through him when his fingers brushed against hers. He had so many questions he had to have answered before they left. "Please won't you rest the night in Suna,"
Hiashi inclined his head, "We would be honored to,"
"Korobi will show you to your rooms," Gaara instructed he locked eyes with Hinata.
He knew he didn't have to say a word, she knew where to meet him.
He met her on the patio staring at the pond the water gently lapping on the edges of the tile. A vision of death reappeared briefly before him of a small child with red hair but it faded quickly. He tried again to recall the vision but it kept fading and the more he tired the harder his head pounded. Pausing for a moment he tried to regain his composure. Amun had followed him and trotted around him off into the green grass to chase after a butterfly. Frowning in confusion Gaara watched his loyal companion completely ignore Hinata.
"I don't understand," Gaara whispered referring to the way Amun was acting.
Hinata turned around and watched the dog frolic around, she smiled almost sadly. "Amun wouldn't know who I am, I've never lived here, never was part of his life or yours. I will have to say I felt a little sad when Yaoki and Korobi treated me like a complete stranger."
Gaara didn't know what to say.
"I grew kind of fond of them, in a way." Hinata replied with a shrug.
Gaara's frown intensified, "Where is the cavern? The dagger?"
"It never happened," Hinata replied calmly.
"Those five years never happened?" Gaara asked. "You're not my wife?"
Hinata raised her left hand; there was no ring on her forth finger not even a tan line. Glancing down at his hand he noticed the ring was missing also.
"We never got married, we never had a child, Kankuro and Matsuri have a strong marriage. Temari and Shikamaru are still together," Hinata rattled off everything quickly. "I should warn you though that some of what happened within those five years will occur in the future, and some of it won't."
Gaara didn't know if he should be relieved or deeply disappointed.
"Everything feels so vivid, so real," Gaara glanced at the pond. "Our son died right here, I held him in my arms. Every time I try to recall the vision it disappears."
"No doubt those memories will fade."
"We grew close," Gaara said.
Hinata suddenly reached out and cupped the side of Gaara's face leaned forward slightly as her thumb brushed against his check.
"Gaara," Hinata began her voice soft as a caress, "you're free of me, those five years of heartache, pain, and frustrations are gone. It never happened, your free to live your life as you see fit, marry a woman you choose."
"I promise you they will disappear it will be like a dream," Hinata smiled at him, "I have to leave, father won't understand why all of a sudden I am friends with the Kazekage."
Gaara understood, at least that was what he told himself, it was better that way, no long tearful goodbyes. It was appropriate for them to part ways as friends.
Before leaving Hinata turned around again and smiled, "By the way Gaara, what were you going to say to me right before the dagger was destroyed?"
Gaara was silent as he regarded her for maybe the last time. There was a considerable difference in the woman that stood before him, one of confidence, self-assurance. Her beauty seemed to intensify with the happiness the showed in her face. He knew exactly what he had wanted to say to her at that critical moment when they had stood on the brink of unknown. At least that much he could remember word for word. It just didn't seem right to say it to her now; he didn't want to burden her when she seemed so carefree and happy. However he couldn't just let her leave without saying something profound and philosophical, as the Kazekage it was almost like a duty to do so.
"What I said hasn't been spoken yet, as fate would have it" Gaara replied.
Hinata seemed to understand what he was doing for she nodded her head and gave him a whimsical smile, "Fate can be a cruel mistress."
FIVE YEARS LATER
"Uncle Garr, watch this!"
Gaara smiled as he watched his five year old niece take out her cat puppet and dance it across his office with the invisible strings attached to her fingertips. She had trouble pronouncing his name and it always came out with a growl to it. Sorie was the daughter of Kankuro and Matsuri and Gaara found great delight in her presence, as did Amun who was chasing after the puppet barking with excitement.
Sorie was absolutely charming; her dark brown hair was tied up in her usual ponytail her big brown eyes looked at the world with such energy and excitement.
A knock came from the door and Sorie jumped up to open it.
"May I help you?" Sorie's childish seriousness amused Gaara to no end.
"Lady Sorie, may I have an audience with the Kazekage,"
Gaara recognized Korobi's voice.
"Please come in," Sorie opened the door wider.
Korobi walked in with Yaoki trailing behind. Sorie lead the way and offered the two a seat in front of the Kazekages desk.
"May I get you a refreshment?" Sorie asked
"Isn't she the cutest?" Yaoki grinned at Korobi. "I want one."
"Yaoki you can't just have anything that strikes your fancy," Karobi said in irritation.
"He has a point Yaoki although she looks cute and harmless this little girl packs a punch," Gaara commented as he leaned back in his chair and winked at Sorie.
Sorie's smile widened as she jumped back and shouted 'puppets attack' an array of puppets came flying out of every corner of the room landing in Yaoki and Karobi's laps. When the attack was done Sorie started clapping and jumping up and down.
Gaara threw his head back and laughed at the surprise on the two shinobi faces. Life was good Gaara decided as he tried to stop his laughter, much of his memories had receded, to the point where if he did recall something he thought it a dream.
"Good job Sorie, we will work on that," Gaara replied with a smile. "Why don't you take Amun for a walk?"
Gaara waited for Sorie to collect Amun and leave the office before he began.
"Are Kanuro and Temari on their way?"
"Yeah they should be here shortly," Yaoki replied as he started untangling the string from around him.
"There is going to be no living with him after we give him this information," Kankuro said grimly.
Temari laughed as she kept pace with her brother up the stairs to the Kazekage's office.
"Strange really that he wouldn't let it go,"
"Like he knew something we didn't," Kankuro scoffed as he barged into the Kazekage's office without even a knock.
"Sorry we were late little brother," Kankuro began in greeting he glanced casually at the other two shinobi, "What happened to you." Kankuro asked as he took in all the puppets.
"Sorie happened," Yaoki replied with smirk.
"Your daughter is a holy terror," Korrobi replied in all seriousness.
Kankuro's chest puffed out in pride as he grinned, "Takes after her old dad she does,"
Temari snorted in disagreement, "She looks nothing like you Kankuro she is so her mother's daughter,"
Gaara knew fully well that he had to turn the conversation or they all would end up bragging about their niece for the next hour.
"It showed up?" Gaara probed.
"Yes," Kankuro replied than snapped, "but then you already knew that?"
Gaara's green eyes lit up with an unusual energy that the siblings hadn't seen for the past five years.
"I am glad to hear it, Yaoki and Korobi will head out tomorrow morning with me to check it out."
"Glad to hear it?" Temari asked, "It is absolutely horrifying."
"All the better for me to shut it down," Gaara replied. "You two don't need to come, I'll take care of it,"
"Well that's a relief," Kankuro replied with an exaggerated sigh, "because I have some unfinished business with my wife, in the bedroom, and if you must know it's of a personal nature,"
"That was too much information," Temari growled. "I'm out of here."
"Where are you off to? It wouldn't be to see a certain man with black hair, but who will remain unnamed?" Kankuro taunted behind his sister as he followed her out.
Temari made a growl, "Are you digging through my stuff again."
"You'll thank me one day for watching out for you," Kankuro yelled after his sister.
Gaara shook his head, "Will you two be ready tomorrow morning,"
"Of course Kazekage," Korobi replied all dignified and formal.
"That's what friends are for," Yaoki replied as finished putting the last puppet to rest on the floor.
Gaara watched the two leave he would have a tough time sleeping tonight.
The next morning was bright like any other day. Today however Gaara felt different for the first time he felt optimistic. That was a strange word to associate with himself but he felt it. The hope within him positively radiated around him. Even better was the excellent timing the small group was making on their destination.
A lot had happened in the last five years. At moments Gaara felt he was walking through a dream for some events had stayed the same as he watched it play out a second time in awe that he truly had relived it once more. Kankuro and Matsuri got married, only this time Gaara made sure the wedding ceremony and reception afterward was a huge affair. As a bridal gift he promptly fired Matsuri as his personal assistant much to her surprise and Kankuro's silent gratitude. He had also given them the summer estate, it had to many dare he say it, memories.
Temari broke off her association with the Nara fellow much to her two brother's disbelief and relief. It seemed Temari was content being on her own; Gaara kept her out of his affairs and didn't rely on her for emotional support. She kept her job as ambassador between the two countries even when he told her it wasn't necessary anymore. However, with all the traveling she still made between the two countries had Kankuro suspicious that she was seeing someone with dark hair. Gaara couldn't think of who in his limited acquaintance had black hair nor did he really care, as long as his sister was happy with her life he was too.
All the mistakes that he had made he had learned from and he was given the rare gift to redo what he had done.
Glancing behind him he spotted Korobi and Yaoki just behind him keeping pace. Amun was bounding off to the side enjoying a much needed run. With a rare satisfying smile on his lips the Kazekage pushed himself to go a little faster. He was headed to the farther boundaries of his land to one particular road that was being used of illicit trade. The road had been watched off and on by the Kazekage's shinobi force but this year, being the fifth year since the event, was being watched closely for any unusual activity.
Finally just as it had happened before, a certain incident had transpired on the exact day he thought it would and now was his chance. The anticipation was positively coursing through his blood like adrenaline.
Amun made it to the road before them curiosity getting the better of the dog he began sniffing the dirt. Gaara had always held the belief that all canines were senseless even if said canine had come from an Inuzuka. However things had changed Gaara was painfully aware of what was missing in his life these past five years and strangely so did Amun. So when the dog stared jumping around howling his excitement at the scent he had picked up, Gaara felt something very close to pride for the creature.
"What exactly are we looking for in this caravan of…um…" Korobi stuttered out trying to find the appropriate word.
"Caravan of women," Yaoki supplied with a grin.
"Retrieving something that's all," Gaara replied casually as he knelt beside Amun and whispered. "Find her,"
Oh she had been in worse situations like this one, in fact just like this one. Rubbing her wrists she looked around at the four other girls besides her trekking behind the men. None of the other girls spoke any language that she understood just like she remembered.
She was still amazed that she remembered the date, time and place. Her memories had faded quite a bit but this one she hung on to. Five years ago she had left land of wind holding onto that one memory with all her might and as soon as she was home she wrote it down circled it on her calendar and never forgot about it. Like she had told him the memories faded but for her they turned into very real dreams. So real she would wake up thinking it was real, but it wasn't.
Now the only problem was waiting and hoping that he would come. If he showed up than she would know that he hadn't moved on, that he had the same dreams or memories that just wouldn't go away. Her last dream was very vivid and it was playing out just like this.
She followed docile and meek as she was given a number and given the outfit with the outrageous headdress with the ostrich feathers dyed in greens and blues, cheap tinted gold earring hoops and cheap cotton that didn't hide anything.
As she was ushered into the arena with the other girls she immediately scanned the crowd of disgusting men. She couldn't see very well and after a few minutes she began to realize that maybe this was a mistake that he wasn't here, that maybe he wasn't having the same memories haunting him as they did her. After ten minutes she started looking for her escape route.
Her keen eyes found the gate analyzing the weakness in the metal and judging the distance it would take her to reach it. Before she put her plan into action she heard the commotion in the crowd. Screams of fear and shock. A dog began to bark and howl, and she spotted the signature color of the Kazekages men.
Hope bloomed within her heart. The sand beneath her feet began to rise caressing her skin as it circled around her. It guided her to the gate she had been eyeing and she followed it quickly. The sand had already grinded the lock down to dust and she hurried through it. She raced up the stairs and ran right into a solid chest.
Dazed she glanced up into the aqua colored eyes of the Kazekage.
She shivered at the way he said her name. He said it with warmth and awe, his eyes conveyed it and his touch verified it.
"I had a dream last night," Hinata began in excitement she didn't know how to tell him why she was here the words just became jumbled in her mind.
Gaara suddenly ducked as a random man came up to attack. He pulled Hinata to the side with him as he tried to get them out from the thick of the fighting. It was up to his shinobi to take care of this mess not him. It was now his focus to get them out of the thick of things so he could talk to her.
"I don't think this is the time to tell me about a dream," Gaara replied curtly as he turned right and spotted in the distance the clearing he was looking for.
"I dreamed that you forgave me," Hinata was breathless as she ran to keep up with him.
"Again Hinata this isn't the time," Gaara snapped impatiently, almost there he thought as he spotted Korobi taking down another member of the illegal gambling operation.
"I dreamed you would come to me," Hinata continued rushing it out just as Gaara pulled them both clear of the fighting.
Chest heaving, eyes burning intensely Gaara stared at her. It had been five years since he had last saw her and all those intense feelings flooded back.
"What else did you dream?" Gaara asked hoarsely.
"That we would live the years together," Hinata replied stepping forward.
Gaara felt his heart lift at her words.
"I have had the same dreams," Gaara stated.
"It was meant to be," Hinata replied with a smile as her hand took his.
"You knew I was going to find out if this place appeared in the future, you knew I'd be here, on this date,"
"I hoped you would be," Hinata replied with a smile. "Are you going to tell me what you said on this day to me?"
For once Gaara smiled and took her face gently in his hands as he whispered against her lips, "I love you." Before he dipped down and seized her in a passionate kiss.
They broke apart and Hinata smiled, "A fresh start?"
"A new beginning," Gaara replied with a small smile.
"Take it slow?" Hinata asked.
"Take our time," Gaara agreed.
"I can't wait," Hinata whispered.
"Me either," Gaara replied.
They smiled at each other in the middle of chaos around them they were in their own world. They were given a second chance a new beginning and it seemed a good idea to accept this gift that was once again offered to them both, and it was a rule to never return a gift.
That's the End. I do have to say I am a little disappointed with my writing I don't feel in the groove like a used to be. But I did try I think I made this a more complicated plot line than I should have and I had trouble finish it the right way. I want to thank everyone who stayed with me and reviewed.