Standard disclaimers apply. I'm just borrowing these characters for a little while.
Author's note: Kishimoto-sensei's plan is to fit the entire 4th Shinobi War Arc into a matter of days in the Naruto timeline, but I'm taking the liberty of extending it since war is never so quick and clean-cut. Events from the manga will be added, removed or shifted around. Please pardon my impudence.
It was, in retrospect, completely expected. After all, this was a war they were talking about.
Of course, it didn't mean that Sakura was prepared for it. And judging from the slight widening of Gaara's eyes, neither was he.
"No," they had both declared simultaneously.
Tsunade was having none of that – she crossed her arms over her chest and did her best to stare down her student. It did make Sakura winch a little, but it was more out of reflex than anything else.
The formal title; Tsunade was being entirely serious.
He gave as good as he got, apparently, and crossed his arms for good measure.
"Kazekage-sama, you are serving as the Regimental Leader of this war. It is imperative that your well-being is placed as a top priority. We cannot have you running around with unattended injuries, missing meals or God forbid, not sleeping," Tsunade added the last bit with a smirk, knowing well enough that though Gaara could sleep now, it was not something he considered very important in his daily routine.
She then gestured to Sakura and said, "As a show of the depth of our alliance in such times, I am assigning my apprentice, Haruno Sakura, to oversee to your care and health. She will be attached to the 4th Division as of this moment, but her first duties are to you. To facilitate her work, I am discharging her from the 3rd Division."
With every word that Tsunade spoke, Sakura's face grew paler and paler. She had signed up for a war, to be a frontline medic, and Tsunade was essentially tossing her off to babysit Gaara.
Gaara apparently felt the same way.
"With all due respect, Hokage-sama, I do not require a babysitter. We have capable medics in our Division, my Ultimate Defence has not been compromised, and I do not need to be spoon-fed nor fussed over," Gaara's voice remained passive, but Sakura noticed the slight tightening of his hand over his crossed arms anyway.
"Capable medics are one thing, but no one matches the dedication of my student here," Tsunade turned to face Sakura fully, then sealed her fate for her – "Haruno Sakura, you are hereby assigned this S-rank mission of ensuring the vital well-being of our Regimental Leader, Sabaku no Gaara and Fifth Kazekage of Sunagakure. Failure is not an option."
Sakura blanched – there was no wiggle room out of this one, not when it was declared as a mission.
"Shishou, I have to be in the frontlines! My primary duty should be to minimise casualties on the battlefield. The Kagekaze does not require round-the-clock watch! It's not like he has the tendency to go barreling head-first into the enemies like Naruto does."
"Sakura, am I taking you off frontline duties? No, I just want you to take on the additional duty of our Regimental Leader's well-being. You will still report to the Medic Unit everyday, so there's no escaping that," Tsunade's smile turned positively cunning, "Don't tell me you cannot manage an extra healing session here and there, and making sure that the Kazekage's dietary needs are met?"
Sakura resisted the urge to snort indignantly – it was painfully obvious that Tsunade was goading her. Tsunade wanted her to react and snap up this additional workload in defiance. In her younger year she would have pumped her fist and accepted anything thrown her way immediately.
Well, she was never one to shy away from a challenge, not even after all these years. Especially such a simple one.
Of course, the fist-pumping bit was not so appropriate for one of her standing anymore.
"Very well, Hokage-sama. I accept this mission, and I shall report to the Kagekaze's quarters daily between my other obligations."
Tsunade smirked. "Sakura, he's going to be your main obligation. That is what being a personal medic is about."
On the inside, Sakura was swearing up and down. On the outside, she merely smiled politely and nodded.
"Of course, shishou."
"Good. You can start by taking a baseline reading of the Kazekage's health," then Tsunade turned to Gaara, "And Gaara? This time, when a medic tells you to strip for a physical examination, could you please keep your underpants on? I don't think my medics can take anymore surprises of such a nature."
Sakura told herself that it would be extremely undignified to faint in horror, no matter what the circumstances.
Gaara pinched the bridge of his nose, and muttered more to himself than anyone else, "I am not going to have a say in this, am I?"