A/N: You may view the full cover image for this story by searching "A Dangerous thing by km92" over at Deviantart's site.
A Dangerous Thing
Sakura held tightly onto the old lady under her. Tears were staining her cheeks while the pink haired lady silently wept for their sudden lost. Though she knew and understood this death was inevitable, it still made her heart ache for the older woman who she had fought together with mere hours ago. She grew a strong bond with the elder as they both took down the deranged, and dangerous, Akatsuki member, Sasori. Even when the old woman had confessed that Sasori was her grandson, who she struggled to raise in his parent's stead, it was Sakura she put first in their fierce battle. This old lady helped to destroy the confused boy's life, and all the while saving Sakura's very own.
"Chiyo-sama." Sakura whispered, hugging the woman tighter.
Grateful was an understatement of how appreciative Sakura was towards the lady. Though Chiyo-baasama would have scolded the rosette for her tears from her willing sacrifice, Sakura still could not help but let water trickle down her now stinging eyes. She just couldn't be like Naruto and the others at this moment. While they laughed, and cried tears of joy, for their Kazekage, she instead choked and mourned for Chiyo-baasama.
"I'm just playing dead..."
Sakura tensed lightly as she listened to the elder man behind her speak.
"I keep expecting her to laugh out loud and say that…" he spoke again before humming to himself.
Sakura, again, gave the still warm, lifeless body a squeeze.
"Yes," Sakura painfully whispered.
Sakura wished for nothing more than what the man behind her had said, though, she knew in the pit of her stomach that such an action was not going to happen. She quietly took note of the laughter around her, pondering again why she could not be like them at the moment. Though, the answer to that was obvious in Sakura's mind.
Chiyo-baasama was someone Sakura was much closer to than Suna's Kazekage. She knew Naruto and Gaara were close; very good friends she supposed she could say. They understood one another on a higher level. The villagers as well held a strong bond, and closeness, to their leader. So, it was without a question why they surrounded him now instead of their dead elder.
It was only Sakura there who could truly say she knew nothing of the young man. Heck, was even one word spoken between the two? She pondered lightly at that question. Her existence might not even be known to him to this day, but it didn't bother her in the slightest at the moment. She had grown to respect her closest friend, Naruto, and whatever feelings he had towards the young lord, she would try to feel the same. Out of respect for her blonde friend, she had no choice but to respect the once tailed beast host, Gaara.
Still, with those thoughts, she couldn't tear herself away from Chiyo-baasama. It wasn't that she disagreed with the older woman's decision, if she had she would have hesitated none to reach out and stop the old lady. It was just painfully hard to grasp that someone so close to her had sacrificed themselves for someone she held no bond, or close friendship, with. She knew deep down that this path was the right one, everyone around her could agree to that, and did so with their joyous moods. She just couldn't bring herself to their same state of mind, and she knew it was no ones' fault for that. Not her's, and certainly not Gaara's. So, it somewhat grieved her that she could blame no one for this mournful death.
Sakura's eyes suddenly widened as she listened to two pairs of footsteps march their way towards her. They stopped in front of the old, now cold, lifeless lady.
Quickly, Sakura whipped her wide eyes up towards the intruders. Saying nothing as Naruto and Gaara stared down towards Chiyo, frowns both plastered onto their faces. Again, the young woman second guessed whether the Kazekage knew of her existence while he kept his eyes off, and away from the pink haired girl. His action did not bother or offend her, she just pondered on it lightly. However, her thoughts were quickly dismissed, and she gave a silent thank you when Gaara spoke.
"Everyone, say a prayer for Chiyo."
Sakura grew appreciative as the rightful attention was now given to Chiyo-baasama, glad that the old woman's sacrifice was not in vain. Though, even from the start, she knew it wasn't.
Slowly, Sakura shut her eyes. Saying her own silent farewell to the woman she owed so much to.
"You alright, Sakura-chan?"
Stepping back from the glass doors in her room, Sakura turned to Naruto with a soft smile.
"Yes," she spoke with a nod. "I'm alright. Just thinking."
Naruto gave a smile of his own, a wide grin, while he peeked inside the girl's room through the hallway door. He watched as Sakura turned her gaze once again to the sand storm that whistled loudly outside. The glass doors she stared at led towards an open balcony, though, she dared not venture out to discover the storms destructive power.
"If you need anything, Kakashi sensei, and I, are right next door," Naruto spoke again.
He seemed uneasy at the thought of all three of them separated in different rooms. He had grown too accustom to all of them sleeping outside next to one another, though, he knew he could not turn down the hospitality they were given, nor risk being caught in the sands howling grip outside.
"I'll be fine, Naruto," Sakura spoke, keeping her apathetic eyes towards the darkness outside.
Naruto did not linger to ponder on the girl's solemn mood, the recent events surely being the cause he assumed, and instead shut the door behind him after speaking one last time.
"Get some sleep, Sakura-chan. We need it for the travel back home tomorrow."
Sakura merely sighed when she heard her friend's command, and the click of the door behind her. Her depressed mood still lingering over her as she thought of tomorrow's long trip.
"I'm sure I'll feel better once I'm back home," Sakura spoke to herself.
Remembering her friends, and family, back at home, she let a small smile creep onto her face. Without a doubt they would be the ones to help fill this little empty void she now held deep in her heart, though, she knew there was only one person out there who could completely fill her barren feelings.
Her smile quickly sunk, and she stared out towards the small grains that tapped against her window.
"Where are you?" she questioned, her smile returning. "Maybe you're here. In Suna!"
Sakura chuckled at the silly thought. It wasn't impossible, but she knew better than to assume, or think, that her crush since childhood would be in a place such as this.
"Perhaps I'll ask Gaara to track you down with his sand!" Sakura joked again.
The thought of even speaking to Gaara about Sasuke sent Sakura into a set of small giggles.
"As if someone like him would take time from his busy life for me!" Sakura said through her laughs.
She slowly eased her laughter and brought a smile towards the glass door, catching her own reflection swiftly before her eyes focused to the sandy night air. Watching the small grains, her mind began to wander to both Sasuke, and Gaara.
"Both of them are somewhat the same," she spoke. "Quiet, reserved, mysterious…"
Sakura smiled at the three words she spoke. Was there no more she could say about Sasuke, or Gaara? She knew little about either of them, yet for one of them she held a deep affection for. With her mind focused on the two, her thoughts quickly turned to the two young men's fight back when they were participants for the Chuunin exams. Her eyes flickered as she tried to remember both of their, then, moves.
Lightning, and sand.
The pain of lightning was a mystery to Sakura, being that she had never been struck by, or come across a ninja who wielded the element like her teacher, or Sasuke. However, with her many medical teachings she had alongside Tsunade, she knew the danger of it. The burnt bodies of many victims she saw with her own eyes through the hospital also confirmed her suspicions. Not to mention, if she recalled correctly, Gaara had let out a blood-curdling scream like she had never heard when Sasuke had struck him with his own lightning. Sakura couldn't help but smirk proudly at the remembrance of it all. Yet, her face fell, and she blinked when she thought of Gaara's own technique.
Her memory quickly flashed back to when Gaara had his bone-crushing grip on her with his sand. That had been painful for Sakura, so much so that she gripped her chest tightly as she remembered the act. While she stared outside still, she pondered in her mind. Was sand truly that dangerous? Sand is just small grains of earth. No, sand wasn't a danger like lightning, she concluded. It was Gaara who was the danger, or at least, he use to be.
A dangerous thing.
'You're stupid…' her inner mind chimed.
"I know," she agreed with herself, gripping at the door handles in front of her.
For some reason, Sakura could not accept the fact that sand was once something that had almost destroyed her. Not when it was almost playfully dancing outside in front of her, and once again her curiosity took a hold of her. The, ever always, thoughtful student wanted to confirm once again for herself whether sand was harmful, or not. Slowly, she turned both the long handles of the two glass doors in front of her until they clicked.
She gasped and quickly jumped back when the two doors swung fiercely open from the strong wind. A loud bang echoing against the sides of the walls from the rough thresholds, and a loud howl from the outside world now entered her sleeping chambers.
Sakura brought an arm slowly up to shield her eyes from the grains that now swam through the air in her room. Her hair and shirt, along with the door curtains, blew roughly past her. It was at that moment Sakura reached again for the glass doors, deciding this was not the opportune time to test her theory.
As she reached for the doors to shut them, she paused suddenly, and swore that the howls outside, from the wind and sand, were calling her name.
Calling out to her.
Sakura's eyes raced towards the darkness out in front of her when she again thought she heard a voice summoning her.
'Maybe it really is the sand,' her mind spoke as she took a step forward.
There was a soft crunch below her, and her eyes whisked away from the outside to look at her feet. She wiggled her toes as she saw the light, brown sand begin to playfully wrap itself around her feet. A pile of the grains began to form at the edge of the door, and into her room as it continued to tickle her digits.
Again, Sakura mused as she continued to wiggle her toes and stare at her feet.
"How?" she questioned. "How can sand be so painful?"
She let her feet be enveloped by the sand. It felt so good against her skin, it was hard to believe that Gaara's strategy was one so feared.
Sakura whipped her head back up in determination, and narrowed her eyes to the outside world. Her wonders once again wrapping within her mind, and with that she quickly raised her arm. Opening her palm and spreading her fingers wide, she took a step forward towards the storm. She let her feet shuffle against the soft sand on the ground as she let only her arm venture out into the night air, and piercing winds.
"Sand…" she mouthed.
With her arm outstretched above her, she looked as if she was reaching out to someone and swore once again that the sand called out to her. Sakura merely kept her narrowed eyes focused in front of her when she felt the tiny grains hit against her skin, and the wind silently sweeping her arm to the side with its power.
She at first cringed at the sensation, but opened her eyes as the feeling left and instead gave her a slight numbness on her arm. With her arm outstretched still and eyes focused out in front of her, Sakura began to muse.
Maybe her theory was right.
She had to admit, the hard hitting sand was an irritation to her skin, but nothing more than that. Not painful where she had to pull away in fear. Not breaking skin where she would bleed. At worse, the most it probably would leave behind was a red mark, but that was something that went away with short time.
Sakura was just about to pull her arm back, her assumption concluded, when again the wind let out a deafening howl, and her eyes widened to the sight she thought she saw in front of her. Her mouth dropped when she saw the silhouette of a person within the storm leap past her. She quickly whipped her head, trying to follow the shadow before…
Sakura brought her hand swiftly back from the night, and quickly wrapped her other palm against the pain on her arm. Her eyes winced and teeth hissed as she looked down to the sudden cut up along the bottom of her arm. The crimson blood slowly began to seep out.
It was then Sakura quickly reached for the doors, using her inhuman strength to shut them against the strong wind, and stepped back once done to stare out into the night. Placing her hand once again on the new cut.
"Ow…" she griped, but with a smile. "Guess I was wrong."
Looking back down at her injury, Sakura decided against healing the small cut with her chakra. It wouldn't take long before the mark would be nothing more than a scab. Slowly, she crept back to the doors, peering once again into the sandstorm. She tried to catch a glimpse of any sign of life outside, but knew in her mind that she wouldn't.
"It was just the sand and wind playing tricks on me," she smiled, turning now towards her bed. "Who would be mad enough to be out in that storm?"
Throwing herself on top of the bed, she smiled against the soft sheets before reaching for the lamp next to her. Letting the darkness blanket her room, she turned her head one last time towards the glass doors. Her eyes now focusing better with the night while she watched the sand continue to dance outside.
"What a day…" Sakura mumbled as she replayed the events in her mind.
Slowly, she turned her back against the window. Sinking her head deep into her soft pillow and letting sleep take over her.
"Wherever you are, good night. Sasuke-kun…" she whispered softly into the night air, unaware that the figure from before had returned to her doors.
Morning could not have come sooner for Sakura. All night she kept waking and scanning her room multiple times for a presence. In the end, she just assumed it was once again her imagination, and did her best to hide her now fatigue state from the rest of the group. She found a smile when she watched her teacher being dragged along by Gai in front of her. She tried her best to suppress a giggle at Kakashi's weak state.
Sakura listened to Naruto chime next to her.
"We're going to see Gaara first before we leave, right?" he finished with a grin.
Sakura smiled at the affection her friend held for Gaara, even though she could not feel the same about the Kazekage.
"Yes, Naruto," Kakashi weakly answered.
Naruto merely snickered in response, obviously pleased with the answer.
"I'd like to visit Chiyo's grave before we go too." Sakura spoke.
"Yes, yes…" Kakashi answered back.
Sakura grinned, again the thought of returning home sending her into a pleasant mood despite her exhaustion.
The group slowly marched their way back to the outside world. Sakura paused to stare up towards the beating sun, thinking about the nights previous events.
"Funny how everything is so calm now compared to last night," she mused, receiving agreements from both Lee and Tenten.
Sakura began her march alongside the others, her smile never leaving her face until the group halted in front of a frenzied group.
"What's going on?" Naruto asked, all of them stopping and watching as frantic residences were whisking back and forth against an entrance.
All of them staring inside with looks of unbelief on their faces.
"This is just awful…"
Sakura listened to the people around them speak, her and the rest of her team inching forward to catch a glimpse of the room everyone was now staring into with anguished faces.
"Why is this happening to us?"
"Why are they all after our Kazekage?"
The group stopped as they made their way to peer into the room like everyone else. All of their faces dropping when they saw the room literally ripped apart. Tables were turned over, windows and lamps were shattered, chairs and curtains looked to be shredded. And supposedly, as they listened to the villagers, this is where Gaara was the previous night.
"Oi…" Naruto finally seethed, his teeth grinding against one another. "Those bastards… Something better of not happened to Gaara!"
"Do not worry. I am alright."
The group turned to face an unscathed Kazekage. His dark eyes were apathetic, and arms crossed as he stared down at the Konoha group.
"Gaara!" Naruto cried out happily.
"What happened?" Kakashi asked, a little bit of his lively mood coming back to him.
"Looks like someone was trying to get Gaara again…"
The group watched as the Kankuro and his sister, Temari, stepped out from behind Gaara as the eldest brother spoke this.
"What do you mean?" Gai asked, all of them unbelieving as they had just saved Gaara once before, unsure how it would go again if he were taken.
"At least…" Kankuro began again. "That's one assumption. It probably was just some dumb kids messing around. This is why kids annoy me."
Sakura couldn't help but notice Temari's torment look as she stared down towards the hard ground below. Her eyes wavered slightly as she kept her lips curled back and gaze away from everyone else. She must truly be worried for her youngest brother Sakura merely assumed.
"What can we do to help?" Naruto asked, everyone's face dropping when Gaara held up a hand to stop them.
"Nothing," Gaara plainly answered. "You have all done enough already. I can handle it from here. It is as Kankuro says, probably just someone playing a prank."
"But-!" Naruto began to protest.
Sakura blinked as she watched her Konoha group begin to argue to protest against Gaara and Kankuro as to whether they were to stay and help find the culprit or go home. She pondered lightly at which side she was on. She knew the right thing to do was stay and help protect the Kazekage if there really was another threat, but at the same time, her heart gave a twinge at the thought of being away from her friends back at Konoha any longer.
She wanted to go home. She wanted to see her family once more. She wanted to share the info she had learned with Tsunade as well as wanting to know if there were any new leads to Sasuke's whereabouts.
She wanted to find Sasuke.
Sakura couldn't help but narrow her eyes and purse her lips towards Gaara. She did not want to save him just to have someone else close to her be lost again like Chiyo. She did not want to help the young man who wouldn't even take notice of her.
Sakura jumped lightly to the small, feeble call of her name. Her face coming almost nose to nose as she turned to face Temari.
"C-Can I speak with you?" Temari asked, her eyes quickly glancing to her arguing brothers before staring back up into Sakura's eyes. "Privately?"
Sakura merely nodded and followed the girl discreetly down the road and towards an alley, making sure her group behind her did not notice her sudden disappearance as well as Temari's brothers.
"What's up?" Sakura asked before looking down to what Temari quickly shoved into her hand.
"I-I gave those to Gaara last night…" Temari confessed, her solemn eyes once again falling to the ground and away from Sakura.
Sakura took a moment to stare at the older girl's expression before lifting the small bottle to her own eyes. Her medical knowledge quickly recognized the bottle before she even turned it to read the label.
"Sleeping pills?" Sakura questioned before turning her gaze back to Temari.
Sakura pondered lightly in thought, they weren't the most dangerous drug Sakura could think of. If they were abused, yes, but in this case, as she knew Gaara was standing down the street with open eyes, she knew no danger lingered.
"Just give him what the bottle prescribes," Sakura spoke, holding her arm out to hand off the bottle back. "If he still suffers from insomnia when the pills are all gone I'd take him to see a doctor. He may need something stronger."
Temari merely scoffed as she listened to Sakura's assumption.
"Gaara use to never sleep. Not while that monster was in his mind," Temari began again.
Sakura again pondered with a lightly gaped mouth, she knew Temari was referring to the Ichibi but was surprise to learn that Gaara almost all his life had never slept. No wonder Temari was quick to give it a shot yesterday, since the beast no longer lingered within him.
"Well…" Sakura began again, trying to soften up Temari's odd, solemn mood. "Like I said, just give-"
"I think Gaara was the one who destroyed that room!" Temari suddenly blurted.
The sand-blonde girl hugged herself tightly when she saw Sakura take a step back to the confession, surprise widening the rosette's mouth and eyes.
"I don't know whether it was because of those pills, or something else…" Temari continued.
"W-What do you mean?" Sakura quietly asked, unbelieving that the girl could think such a thing.
"Before he met Naruto…" Temari said, while tears leaked from the corners of her eyes. "I'd see it every morning. That beast would go wild in his mind, never letting Gaara sleep, and driving him to do monstrous things at night!"
Sakura frowned while she pondered at the thought.
"If Gaara slept the beast would overtake him," Temari spoke. "At night the monster would still plague his mind and kept Gaara awake while he did things like tearing his room apart…or worse…anything to please and quiet the Ichibi down and silence his mind."
"But," Sakura broke in, "you said that was before Naruto, right? So-"
Again, she was cut off by the frantic blonde.
"It slowly came to a stop when he met Naruto. He still would have his slip up's, but he was trying so hard and..." Temari sniffed, trying to dry her running nose. "I don't know, maybe he just would tune out the monster or something… Last night was the first night in a very long time…"
"But the Ichibi is out of his mind now! The monster is no longer inside him," Sakura spoke. "There should be no voices in his head now, Temari-san."
Sakura was trying to comfort the girl as well as grasp the knowledge that was being thrown at her.
"I know that!" Temari shot back. "That's why… I don't know what to do! Why would he act like his old self now?! Did he have a reaction to those pills or...?"
"How sure are you?" Sakura asked. "There's no proof it was him who did that to that room."
"I just know," Temari cried, kneeling herself down to her knees as she again stained the sand below her with tears. "I've seen it so many times before. It would haunt me when I was younger. I would know if I saw it again. I'm just lucky no one got hurt...this time."
Sakura hummed as she too stared towards the ground, unsure as to what to say or approach the situation. Why had Temari come to her in the first place? Because of her medical knowledge?
"Does he know he did this?" Sakura asked.
"I-I don't know…" Temari sobbed. "He didn't mention anything to anyone, yet he of all people should recognize his own destruction… I've known Gaara his whole life yet still, I don't know what my brother thinks! What sort of sister am I?!"
Temari roughly shoved her eyes into her palms.
"There should be no more voices in his head. So why is he doing this? Why is he turning back into his old self now?"
It was then Sakura shot her wide eyes up, realization hitting her as she recalled all she had learned about Gaara, and his solitude.
"Perhaps, he just needs some company at night." Sakura began again.
Temari slowly brought her eyes up in bewilderment, trying to take in Sakura's words while her tears halted. Sakura, meanwhile, shuffled uneasily on her feet.
'What a messed up kid,' her inner spoke in her mind.
"I don't know. I remember Naruto mentioning Gaara was very lonely once," Sakura spoke as she shrugged lightly, averting her eyes away to the ground. "Just an assumption I guess. Maybe he just needs a voice at night."
Sakura again felt awkward as the blonde scrambled quickly back up on her feet, still gaping and with wide eyes at her.
"I'm sure if you and your brother just talk him through the night a few times it may work out for him. Give him a voice to listen to for a short while until he gets use to the idea. You understand? Take away that loneliness he may fear," Sakura proposed before again feeling Temari's silent stare lingering on too long for comfort. "Temari-san, I'm real sorry but I think I should get back to the others."
As Sakura turned, she felt the young woman's soft hands entwine with hers, and cringed as she knew what was coming next. Reluctantly, she turned back to face the older woman.
"Sakura-san…" Temari breathed. "You're brilliant! That must be it!"
"I-It's just a theory," Sakura forced a smile. "I can't promise it will work, but at this point anything is worth a shot, right?"
Temari took a step closer to her friend, picking Sakura's hand up along with hers.
"What do we do if that doesn't work?" the blonde asked.
Again, Sakura tore her uneasy eyes away from Temari's teal ones. Discomfort setting within her whole body as her knowledge knew little, to none, for Gaara's solitude illness.
"Temari-san, I-I'm not sure… This isn't my field of knowledge-" Sakura began before being quickly cut off.
Sakura did not hesitate to return her eyes back to Temari that time.
"I'm begging you, Sakura-san!" Temari frantically spoke, tears again forming under her eyes. "Stay here, just for a little while, until Gaara gets better!"
'No way!' Inner shouted in her mind for the now silent Sakura.
"I can't go through that hell again I did years ago!" Temari cried, almost as if knowing she was battling against Sakura's doubtful thoughts.
'We have to go back to Konoha. Our friends!' Inner shot back.
"The village will be in danger!"
"He might kill again!"
"Please, Sakura-san. He is my little brother-"
"A-Alright!" Sakura cried above both voices.
Temari gasped lightly as Sakura yelled out her answer. The blonde swore she could see tears fly from Sakura's eyes as she shut them and agreed to her new duty. Though, Temari quickly dismissed the thought as a new wave of hope washed through her. The blonde gave off a silent laugh when she again watched Sakura turn her gaze away.
"I-I didn't pack that much clothing though…"
Sakura gasped as she felt Temari pull her into a tight hug.
"You don't think you'll be taken care of for all you're doing?"
Sakura merely blushed at the thought.
"What exactly do we tell him the reason for me staying?" Sakura asked. "I'm assuming you don't want to be blunt about this situation with him."
"We'll just say you're staying to help Gaara with his sleeping disorder. Just helping him to learn to naturally sleep without any medication," Temari winked as she spoke. "It's basically still the truth."
"The others…" Sakura again pondered, "I don't know how to tell them or how they'll react to-"
Sakura stopped mid-sentence when she saw Temari's playful smile while she slipped her hands away, and skipped lightly towards the road.
"Leave it to me!" she chimed, quickly pacing herself back to the group with a new found adrenaline.
Sakura instead lingered within the alley as heavy doubts rested on her shoulders. She weighed her whole frame awkwardly and painfully within herself.
'Why?' her inner voice cried. 'Why did you give in to Temari's tears?'
"Shut it…" Sakura mumbled, slowly picking her feet to follow the blonde.
The slower she went, the better. She would make her way back to her comrades in gradual inches. She dared not be caught up in their questions at the moment and instead moved like a snail in hopes of Temari explaining everything so she didn't have to force herself to.
'We can still get out of this,' Inner tried to reason.
"Stop it," Sakura pleaded out loud as she continued towards the group. "This is already hard enough, but what could I say? Temari was desperate."
'That guy though…' Inner hissed as she referred to Gaara. 'He doesn't even know who we are. He tried to kill us once. Why should we help him?'
"He's Naruto's friend," Sakura defended. "Besides, it would hurt Naruto to learn that Gaara turned back to his old ways…"
As Sakura neared the group, she slowly lowered her head, somehow unable to look into the eyes of everyone. Though, she was grateful her mind had stopped their argument at the moment. There was no turning back for her now.
It was the sad call of Naruto that forced Sakura to force her eyes up. The group now turning all their surprised looks away from Temari to stare down at their pink haired friend. The look in their eyes letting Sakura know that they had just taken in what Temari had promised to tell, but as Sakura turned to gaze at everyone her heart stopped when her eyes fell onto Gaara's dark ones. She quickly looked away as her body tensed to his emotionless gaze.
Inner Sakura mentally kicked Sakura at the girl's sudden reaction. It wasn't that his gaze had scared her away, it was just at that moment, Sakura could say that the young lord finally took notice of her existence. He now knew who she was, this new being in his life, though she was still unsure if he could recognize her from years ago. Sakura couldn't help but again shiver at the thought that now she would be spending some good amount of time with Gaara, possibly seeing the dangers the young man could create once more.
"Sakura-chan, you're really staying?"
Sakura turned towards her long friend, Naruto. Her heart twinged when she saw his saddened expression, and she merely nodded yes to answer him.
"It'll just be for a short time!" Temari tried to cut in, and disband the glum atmosphere.
Still, Naruto couldn't help but frown and turn his sad gaze down as he remained silent.
'Please Naruto… Beg them, convince them I can't stay!' Sakura mentally pleaded.
She would never learn that was exactly what the boy had wanted to do, but kept his silence out of respect for Sakura's decision. He also couldn't deny Gaara any help for the sake of their close bond, even if that meant parting ways for a little time from his crush.
"I didn't get to see you for almost three years…" Naruto finally peeped.
Sakura turned her shocked eyes towards the boy, almost feeling her tears come out, though she kept a strong face while she watched his sad one.
"Another week or two I can live with," Naruto finally confessed, showing the girl that he supported the decision with a wide grin of his own.
"Naruto…" Sakura hissed, trying to hold back tears.
It was Kakashi this time who called to get the girl's attention as she turned to look at him with a heavy heart.
"You do realize that when this is all done and over with, you may be quickly sent off on another mission? You might not get any time to rest when you return to Konoha," Kakashi warned.
"Don't worry," Temari again tried to ease everyone's worries. "We won't overwork her here. She will be treated as if this were a vacation for her."
Kakashi seemed to accept that answer, and instead nodded his head in understanding, again turning his lazy eye back to his pupil.
"We'd stay if we could Sakura," Kakashi spoke again. "But I've already sent Tsunade-sama a message of our returning. If we weren't to show in the time I told her then she would worry. However, if you hear any word of a possible threat to Kazekage-sama, do not hesitate for a second to contact Konoha."
"Got it," Sakura finally broke her silence.
Forcing out a smile, Sakura watched as everyone relaxed to her look, now supporting her, and her decision. They had nothing to fear, their pink haired friend would return safely to them once she was done here.
It wasn't until Sakura saw Naruto walk up to the sand trio that her smile fell and instead looked on as she watched, and listened, to the group say their farewells.
"See ya…" Kankuro was the first to speak up.
"Y…Yeah!" Naruto merely grinned awkwardly before setting a solemn gaze back to Gaara.
Knowing Naruto, Sakura could tell the boy was wanting to say more but unsure how to approach it.
"I guess this is when you shake hands and part way but…" Naruto lightly laughed, scratching his cheek in nervousness. "I'm bad at that kind of thing though! So…"
Sakura's surprised gaze watched as the normally quiet Gaara slowly raised his hand up towards Naruto. So out of character it looked to Sakura, and had to assume Naruto felt the same since he merely continued to look shock at Gaara's sudden action.
It wasn't until Sakura saw the Kazekage use his sand powers to lift Naruto's hand into his that she pondered.
'Is he really what Temari says he is?' she questioned in her mind.
Was this young man really bent on killing and destroying at night while he held onto Naruto's hand firmly during the day? Was he so lost in the solitude of his mind that it drove him to be wild? Was the voice of the deranged Ichibi really more comforting to him than his own empty mind?
Sakura could no longer wonder as she listened in on Naruto's request to the young Kazekage.
"Take care of Sakura-chan," he said with a grin, his hand still firm with Gaara's. "She is a very important person to me."
Sakura was positive it was only her who noticed Gaara's quick and sudden reaction to Naruto's words. It was almost as if she saw him take an inward gasp of surprise. His eye had twitched, his body had unbalanced slightly before he regained himself in less than a second, and his firm hold on Naruto's hand had tighten before quickly releasing back to the previous grip.
Even Naruto did not notice the sudden reaction while he continued to grin stupidly.
'Why did he react like that?' Sakura wondered.
"Don't worry," Gaara answered apathetically, taking a step back from Naruto. "Haruno will be safe under my watch."
Sakura sighed as she began rummaging through her small packs. Taking out her few days worth of clothes and setting them into her new drawers. After that was done, she straightened out her long pajama top that was on her before kneeling back down to the hard, cold floor.
She peered lightly at the villages' custom style of homes, and picked at the floor under her. It was so alien to her to see the dried clay settle in between her fingernails as she continued to mark the cold floor. In all entirely, she had pictured the Kazekage's home differently than to what she was seeing now. Though, she did admit the clay home they all lived in, including herself now, was indeed bigger than Tsunade's residence.
Sakura sighed as she listened to the sand storm billowing once again outside her window, wondering if the village ever got peace from the sand at night. Pulling her finger back from the coral colored floor, she turned to rummage through her pack again. Pulling out her many small weapons until…
"Ah," she mused, turning a folded picture towards her eyes. "I forgot I had this in here."
Sakura smiled as she looked down to a circular portrait. A copy of her old one that resided in her house, that had her, Naruto, Kakashi and Sasuke.
"I use to bring this with me on all my missions," Sakura spoke to no one but herself. "I can't believe I left it in here."
Taking another glance at the picture, Sakura again placed the delicate paper onto her drawer before returning back to her pack. Before reaching a hand into her bag though, she sighed and leaned back against her legs. The cold ground scratching her skin lightly. She mused again as to why she was here inside the Sand siblings' home.
After Naruto and the others had left, Gaara again made no attempt at recognizing the pink haired girl. Merely ordering Temari to escort her home as he went on with his duties. It wasn't until dinner time when Gaara had reappeared, simply stating he was off to his room as Sakura gazed at Temari.
"You need to stay with him tonight," Sakura whispered to the girl. "Take away his loneliness until he falls asleep."
Sakura remembered seeing the blonde hesitate to this, but quickly nodded in understanding as she made her way to where her younger brother was. It wasn't until then that Sakura assumed she should do the same as Gaara and seek rest for the night. She was completely exhausted, having already one night of restless sleep as well as another emotional drain. Switching out into her pajama top, and unpacking her clothes until she was where she was at this point.
"Heh," Sakura lightly mused as she continued to stare towards the ground. "Gaara… Just who are you exactly?"
Despite being where she was now, even though she had agreed to help, Sakura still could not believe that she knew very little of him.
"He has insomnia I guess," Sakura inwardly laughed as she tried to recall the new things she had learned about him. "He use to kill and tear things apart when he was younger."
Sakura stopped herself and gulped as she felt a sudden shudder and fear develop deep inside her at an old memory.
"He had tried to kill me when I was younger…"
Sakura again cringed at the memory, her inner once again arguing with her.
'Why are you helping him then?!'
Sakura knew, and was taught, that this was a situation where she could not hold any grudges against anyone. It was not the ninja way. She was told to let go of such, to merely accomplish missions given to her without second opinions. She could be ordered to kill her closest friend and save her worse enemy, and she would have to throw all emotions out the window, and do so.
Yet, she could not get over the light detest she held for the young Kazekage. Just like she could not get over her feelings for Sasuke, she could not let go of the thought that one of Naruto's closest friends had tried to murder her years ago. Even if Naruto had forgiven him for that time.
'He didn't even apologize to you for that!' Inner shot again.
Sakura merely gave out an amused smile.
"I don't think he even knows who I am," she told her inner self. "Perhaps he's a better ninja and has thrown that memory out of his mind."
Sakura winced as she felt a surge of pain shoot up from her arm suddenly, and with hissing teeth brought the new scab from yesterday to her eyes view. She gasped lightly as she saw blood begin to trickle down from it.
"How?" she asked herself, bringing a hand to cup at the cut again. "How did it open back up?"
She paused as she felt a foreign element on her hand, and quickly brought her bloody palm up to study it with her eyes. It wasn't the feel of her own warm blood that had her eyebrows rising with question, but instead the small grains that she felt scratch at her arm.
"Sand?" she questioned, squinting her eyes and trying to catch a glimpse of the small grains that mixed with her blood on her palm.
A loud bang was what interrupted her thoughts, and she turned as the round window in her room fiercely opened to let the sandstorm outside billow inside her room. The strong wind blew past her and put out her only source of light, a small candle, and darkness soon enveloped her room. Despite how innocent the wind's act was, Sakura quickly jumped to her feet. Reaching into her bag for a kunai before her eyes began to examine the now dark room. The blood from her arm continuing to drip and stain the clay floor.
'Something isn't right…' Sakura spoke in her mind as her eyes continued to circle her room.
It wasn't until a howling laughter echoed against the walls did Sakura seethe.
She knew for certain now something wasn't right.
Listening to the laughter drown out the wind's own cry, Sakura gripped her kunai tighter. More blood seeping out from her wound from the pressure while her eyes desperately tried to focus in the darkness. The young woman began to panic when she heard the laughter growing more demented and loud, she swore she had heard this crazy screech once before.
"Come out!" Sakura called into the night air, keeping a steady and brave voice. "Show yourself!"
Sakura's bravery quickly fell as she felt the laughing, hot breath behind her neck. Her eyes widened, but quickly she swung both her kunai and body backwards. Hoping the weapon would make contact to the person behind her. She gasped as she felt the person quickly grab her arm before any damage could be done, the intruder's hand tightening their grip on her as they let her blood from the cut stain and drip through their fingers. The cackle still echoed in the room as wind and sand poured in through the window still.
Letting her eyes focus in the dark, her eyes narrowed at her assailant. Somehow, she had known all along who it was, and had indeed heard this laughter before. She struggled against his hold until she was able to break from his grip and leap back away. Trying to put distance between the deranged young man and herself.
It was only then that the intruder stifled his laughter to a chuckle, tilting his head sideways and upwards while sending the glaring Sakura a deranged and psychotic grin.
"Gaara," Sakura hissed.
Again Gaara merely snickered at the girl as he raised his head higher.
"I guess my theory about you wasn't right," Sakura gave a smirk of her own, yet sending Temari a quick apology for her failure.
Her mind than quickly shot to Temari. Was the other woman alright? At this point however, Sakura could only blink that thought away as her eyes finally focused on Gaara's features, lingering on his eyes especially. She quickly realized that his pupils held no green in them and were merely white.
Like a dead person.
With that evidence, Sakura was quick to assume that the young man was not in his right state of mind. Whether he was sleeping in his head, or something had taken over him, she did not know.
"Good," he finally hissed through his teeth with another chuckle. "So good."
Sakura only kept her eyes narrow and kunai raised, the blood from her arm now staining hew own weapon.
"I smell it," Gaara again chuckled, his sadistic grin growing. "It smells so good."
Sakura shivered to Gaara's words, unsure as to what he was talking about.
"Open your eyes… Gaara," Sakura quietly pleaded, hoping to reach the young lord.
To her words Gaara quickly whipped his head down in a blink of the eye, his smile still big as his blank stare lingered on Sakura's glare.
"Blood," he murmured. "Your blood smells so good. It drove me here. Your sweet, smelling blood."
It was with those words that made Sakura quickly place her palm that held the kunai onto her bleeding scab. Keeping her eyes firm on Gaara, she released chakra and began the process of healing the wound. Her eyes and body never wavered when she saw Gaara's grin quickly fall, and his eyes panic to her action. If it was blood that was stirring his mind and making him crazy, than she would seal it away.
"No!" he frantically cried, flinging his arm up in an odd motion.
Sakura cried out as she felt her hand release her scar, and her one arm rise and twist painfully back above her head. She gasped as she peered up to look at it, a bracelet of sand was spinning tightly around her wrist. It's power holding her arm straight up against her will. It was only when she heard another chuckle emit from Gaara that her eyes turned back to him, watching as he inched his way closer to her.
"You can't move," he again grinned, drool escaping his teeth and flowing to the floor below him. "I won't let you."
Sakura again hissed at this new technique of his. Yet, she never fidgeting or showing fear as the young Kazekage reached, and stretched out her bloody arm towards him. The rosette continued to watch as Gaara fixated his blank eyes to her fresh scab, drool still puddling below him and his breaths poured out heavy, and unevenly, into the room. The young woman continued to fight against the arm that was still raised above her, trying desperately hard to send Gaara back from her with a heavy punch of her own.
"It smells so good," he again chuckled.
"Gaara…" Sakura called once more, seeing his blank eyes turn away from her arm to stare into her own green eyes. "Open your eyes. This isn't who you are."
The two only kept their eyes on one another. To Sakura it seemed perhaps her words had finally reached his glaring, deranged look until…
"Ah!" Sakura cried, and winced her eyes when she felt Gaara's thumbs split open her scab even wider.
More blood began to seep out as he kept his eyes fixated on the squirming girl.
"Your reaction," he hissed, using his thumbs to keep her gash wide open before he lowered his lips towards her arm. "I missed this."
Sakura merely whimpered in pain, and watched the young man with parted, watering eyes as he let his hot breath trail down her arm. His eyes staring deeply at the cut before he asked.
"How would you know who I am, Sakura?"
Sakura's eyes widened to both what she had heard, and was now feeling. Surprised greatly at the usage of her name, but even more flabbergasted when she felt his dry, cold lips and hot, wet tongue begin to douse themselves within her deep cut. Sucking and lapping up her crimson.
Sakura's first thoughts were that of the risks that now threatened Gaara as he dragged his tongue up Sakura's bloody gash. She blamed her medical knowledge for that, but quickly forgot that concern when she felt him pull her skin wider against his thumbs. Feeling, and seeing, the desperation in his look for more blood.
"So good…" he let his voice escape before again, entwining his lips onto Sakura's arm.
"Control yourself, Gaara!" Sakura shouted as she watched the boy rise and twist his head upwards towards the sky.
A look of pure ecstasy and fulfillment filling his blank eyes as he continued to hold onto Sakura's bloody arm.
"I've missed this," he said before twisting his lips back down to her arm. "I've missed doing this for the longest time now."
Sakura felt a light blush come on as he gave her growing cut a gentle, soft kiss. Almost as if thanking it for the meal before roughly sinking his sharp canines deep into her arm and gash, and reacting, Sakura let out a blood-curdling scream to the sensation. With again, wincing wet eyes, she turned to look at Gaara. A grin spread across his face as he kept his teeth deep in her arm and eyes on her expression.
Purely enjoying the look he was forcing her to have.
"Gaara," Sakura pleaded. "Please don't do this… You'll be letting down your village if you turn back now."
Sakura cringed as he began to grind his fangs deeper into her skin, narrowing his eyes towards her to show he was greatly displeased as to what she was saying. Though, the rosette quickly took it as a hint that perhaps she was finally reaching out to him, and she swore she could see some green returning in his eyes.
"Your brother," Sakura began again. "Your sister. They both have grown so close to you, don't give them any reason to break that bond with you now."
"Shud ub…" Gaara tried to demand through her arm, his red stained teeth still lingering into her skin.
As Sakura continued to watch Gaara, she felt her risen arm begin to respond to her brain. The sand trapping her arm was beginning to disperse, and she twitched her fingers lightly before speaking to Gaara again.
"Naruto would be devastated to see you like this again…"
Sakura cried out as she felt Gaara drag his fangs across her skin painfully before standing himself tall, and throwing the girl roughly back onto the floor. With quick reaction, Sakura placed her bloody arm into her healing hand. Making sure not to leave even a drop of blood, or scab, behind while she continued to watch Gaara carefully. Making herself ready if another attack was in motion.
Instead, she saw as the Kazekage began to hold and pull against his hair. Screaming out in pain while her blood and his drool dripped onto the floor below. When his eyes fell back onto her, Sakura quickly stood herself tall. With her arm now healed she was again ready to fight if needed.
"You…" Gaara hissed threateningly, showing off his red stained fangs from her blood while taking a step closer to Sakura.
Sakura only kept her body and eyes still as she watched Gaara. Narrowing her pupils in the process so as to look intimidating, and only wincing them slightly when she saw the break of dawn begin to enter into her room. The bright sun now blinding her, though she made no attempt to show it.
As quick as lightning though, Sakura cried out as Gaara flung himself towards her. The poor girl ducked out of his way and held onto her head as the young man lept out of the open window that was behind her. His sand quickly followed him, trying to keep up with his speed as it raced out the window after him. His haste caused the window to tightly shut itself back after every last grain left her room.
As soon as Sakura heard the window behind her shut, she gave out a loud gasp. Letting the very breath she was holding in out, and as she did that she couldn't help but let out a nervous laugh so as to calm herself.
"He remembered my name."