"No, Gaara-san, this is not just a rose!"
He couldn't understand what else it was. So Gaara stared blankly at the excited green beast of Konoha who had seemingly appeared from nowhere to accost him with a plant.
Lee stared at him, as if waiting for something.
Gaara crossed his arms over his chest. "Then what –"
"It is a symbol of love and passion! YOSH! Yours to give to that one most special person who captivates your youthful heart the most like a beautiful sunset on the beach or a gentle snowfall!" He held the flower to his chest, feet moving subconsciously into a box dance, and Gaara watched, half amused but mostly intellectually lost. "On this very day, this very special day, you must give this to your most special person, Gaara-san!"
And then he paused. "You do know what today is… yes?"
"Yes, I'm well aware of what today is." As kazekage, it was his duty to know all holidays celebrated in his village, no matter how miniscule they were. He also had taken to learning the holidays of his country as a whole and the neighboring hidden villages and countries. It was a safe precaution in case he arrived on such a date that people dressed in animal skins and dancing around a bonfire bombarded him with prayers and tried to offer him one of their daughters as his wife.
Then again, that has happened on days that weren't holidays before… It normally helped to know nonetheless.
"Do you not see those youthful, fiery beauties eyeing you down with great intent of love in their eyes?"
"Yes, I can see them." It was incredibly hard not to. He suspected that they would begin a rampage if he even looked at them directly. So he did not.
"Then you must choose your most special person and hand them this rose!" He all but forced it into the kazekage's hand, grinning like a maniac (though that wasn't much different from usual).
"… It's just a rose," Gaara upheld. "Nothing more."
"J-j-just a rose? But it is not just a rose! I do not know how else to explain this to you, I have tried every possible explanation Gai-Sensei has told me!" Fretful tears welled up in Lee's eyes. "Am I not… as great a speaker as my sensei? Have I not learned at all? Oh, GAI-SENSEI!"
Gaara almost wished he had the decency to lie and say, "Oh, I get it now. So it's romantic, right?" But he wasn't that kind and he honestly had no clue why something red as blood, thorny, and destined to whither and die could symbolize love.
Or, at least, he couldn't understand how it could symbolize love in a good sense. If a rose withered and died away, was that the true meaning of love? That that too would wither and die and then he would be left with a black, crumbling heart?
He frowned at the rose. What were its hidden values that made it so indispensible? And, as he was thinking about it, where did Lee get that? It was no desert rose, it was a grandiflora rose, not just that, but a crimson bouquet grandiflora. That grew nowhere in his country, much less on the trail between Konohagakure and Sunagakure.
It should be dead by now, if Lee carried it all the way from his homeland here, even at the speed he runs.
But Lee was still talking, lamenting about his failure, and Gaara heard the desperate vow to run around Sunagakure with seven boulders attached to his legs until he learned to speak as influentially as his sensei… YOSH.
Gaara reached out a put a hand on his shoulder before he could break off and make good on his solemn self-challenge. "Try explaining it one more time."
"B-but I have explained it every way I can think of…"
"There is always another way."
"Y-yes, that is true…! YOSH, that is the truth! There is always another way, most definitely!" And then his proud, glittering black eyes dulled. "I can not think of another way…"
"I am more of a physical learner," Gaara offered, though he knew he learned equally well verbally. "Do you know a way physically to show me?"
Perhaps the reason was, and Gaara couldn't be entirely sure, that Lee was his friend and that was why he didn't want him to look so… defeated. And by the meaning of a rose too.
Gaara, for all the foolish reasons that he had been defeated by before, had to admit that that was the most foolish one he had ever witnessed.
Lee thought about it for a very long time, frozen there like a statue with Gaara's hand still on his shoulder. And then, like a lightening flash, he smiled.
Gaara blinked because that smile was the one Lee used most commonly when about to do something either incredibly heroic or incredibly stupid. And was that a blush?
Lee took the rose from him and got down on one knee. He pressed the bloom to his lips and then smiled more softly up at him as he held the rose in front of him, elbow bent slightly, and crooned, "Gaara…-chan, would you please accept this rose as a token of my affection?"
Ah. So the rose did have some hidden values that he could not view with the naked eye. Otherwise, why would his heart be going faster? Suddenly, that rose was looking much more appropriate to the representation of love, simply because it was being given to him.
Lee coughed lightly. "G-Gaara-chan?"
He reached and took, no, received the bloom. Lee blushed furiously but was grinning like the fool he was as he fiddled with his gauze wrappings. "Do you… Do you, err…"
"Yes, Lee." Gaara offered a hand and Lee took it, hopping idly to his feet with the kazekage's unneeded but wanted assistance. "I understand."
Author's Note: Happy belated Valentines Day, KakaIru!