He had witnessed people in the act of sleeping many times. When he was young, he used to sneak into his sibling's rooms and observe them in their slumber. Then, it always made him feel indigent and curious as to why they could partake in this nightly ritual, but he could not. As he grew older, he continued to watch people sleep, mostly strangers from their bedroom windows - as a form of lame entertainment as he passed his time during the nights fully awake. At that point, he knew the reason why he couldn't sleep. It was the damned bijuu unwillingly sealed inside his body and mind.
Though he knew the reason why he couldn't sleep, he still didn't understand how people drifted off to sleep. Of course he had used the forced-sleep jutsu to unleash Shukaku before, but it instantly knocked him out. He never got the chance to simply relax into sleep, to feel the sensation between awareness and slumber. He also never felt the need to sleep. The Shukaku supplied him with enough chakra to always remain alert and steadfast in his actions.
But that was when he still had the bijuu...
It's been a few months now since the Akatsuki kidnapped him and extracted Shukaku...since he had died, and was resurrected.
It was very strange living without the bijuu after 15 years of its constant companionship. His mind was relatively vacant of the usual homicidal whispers and visions that demon would supply him with in order to induce blood lust to rise within him. At first it was easy to overcome them by simply killing a random victem. Then after his unforgettable combat with Uzumaki Naruto, he wanted to change. The bijuu continued his attempts to urge him into a murderous frenzy - but with his newfound philosophy about life, he found it harder to resist Shukaku's mental images. But he prevailed and earned the title of Suna's Godaime Kazekage.
The young red head also noted other changes in him since the bijuus departure. After training, battles, or even spending all day filling out his paper work, he felt strange - he couldn't put his finger on the feeling. His body felt...drained, as if he had expended almost all of his chakra. Sometimes his vision blurred during reading, followed by the strange urge to close his eyes for hours on end. His muscles ached and his already pale skin, was now even lighter in pallor. This boggled him because he hadn't done anything to warrant such feelings of, dare he say, tiredness. He had never felt this way only after working in his office.
Though he didn't really feel comfortable seeing doctors, he decided that he needed to get to the bottom of this. He would have confided in his siblings, but being still too soon after he had been kidnapped, he didn't want to worry them further.
After setting up an appointment, he had relunctantly seen a doctor for a check up. Adding to his discomfort, his doctor was a female. He was still unused to being "ogled" as his brother had called it, but luckily she had the decency to act as professional as possible. A major step in his book compared to the rest of the female population in his village who trailed after him. He wondered if he'd ever understand women.
Once his check up was completed and he explained the strange sensations his body was experiencing, she giggled slightly, but hid it behind the back of her hand. The young Kazekage lifted an eyebrow at her reaction. What could possibly be so funny about how he was feeling?! The doctor coughed back her slip up and gave him a more serious expression.
"Your body is craving sleep, Kazekage-sama," she said simply. He quirked his eyebrow again.
How could he require sleep now after years of only needing meditation to recuperate?
"Yes, sleep. I assume that the bijuu has sustained your body, letting you survive without sleep," she explained, "and I suppose that after years of accustomed insomnia, your body has built up a slight immunity to feeling tired after a day or so's work. However, now that the bijuu is gone, sustained periods of time without sleep is now dangerous to your health."
He blinked. "I see, what dangers could it pose to me?"
"Prolonged periods with out sleep and without the chakra of Shukaku can compromise your ability to fight off illnesses and infections, as simple as colds and small injuries. And if this continues, you could die."
The red head's eyes widened a fraction before returning to normal. If he died, he wouldn't be able to protect the village. And he would be damned if he would let a little cold take him down. If he was going to die...again...he would die fighting against an opponent stronger than himself.
"You need sleep, I suggest you do that tonight," the doctor said authoritatively, as she scribbled something down on her clipboard. He agreed to her medical orders and left the hospital.
Later that day, after his work day finished, returned home. He ate dinner reletively silently with his siblings as they chattered and occasionally bickered light-heartedly. He still didn't want to tell them about his situation until he was passed it. He ascended the stairs to the hallway where their bedchambers were located once he finished his meal. When he opened his bedroom door and closed it behind him, he became face-to-face with his untouched bed. He stood there, silently staring at the object as if it were something foreign - in a way it was to him. As he continued to eye it, the more he questioned himself about how he was to go about sleeping. This was all new to him, and he felt incredibly confused and very...uninformed.
That night he made many attempts to fall asleep, tried to remember the methods he'd seem people do while they were sleeping. But there was one thing he'd never seen them do, fall asleep. He always caught them in the act of deep sleep. And the more he thought about all that, the more he felt restless and unable to sleep.
This continued for a few more nights, and he got not one wink of rest. He felt increasingly exhausted, but still declined his inner conscious's suggestion to tell them. Temari and Kankuro went on relatively unaware about his predicament, until one day he passed out in his office while listening to a report from one of his Jounin.
When he awoke again, he found himself in his bed. Kankuro, Temari and another familiar face were standing over him. The third face was that of Hyuuga Hinata. He was at first confused as to why she was in the room with his siblings and himself, then he remembered why she was in Suna. Hinata was Konoha's ambassador and was spending a short time in Suna. Vaguely, he remembered Tsunade-sama telling him that she had also studied as a medic, among her more ninjutsu/taijutsu-type learnings.
Right now Hinata was closer to him and checking him over, with a light dusting of pink painted over her cheeks. His eyes sluggishly followed the movements of her dainty hands as they ghosted over his torso, as if checking certain spots. His brain faintly registered that his upper garments had been removed. At this very moment, he felt something that he did not like feeling...weak.
And Sabaku no Gaara was not weak.
Finally Hinata's movements haulted and she kept her palm flat over his mid-section. Gaara watched in a slightly detached manner as her small hand began to glow a luminescent green. His body felt cooler as the minutes went by, beginning first in the area where her hand was placed. Suddenly he felt a little more energized, as if his chakra system was getting a boost. He still felt that looming tiredness, though it was better than the uncontrolable feeling of utter exhaustion he felt before.
After a few minutes, the dark-haired girl removed her hand, her opal eyes fixated on him. Temari leaned in closer to him, a look of worry etched into her usually confident face.
"Are you alright, Gaara?" her voice wavered a little as she spoke her question. The young Kazekage didn't trust his voice so he simply nodded as little as he could and still convey his message. His older sister's face relaxed minutely. Gaara's eyes then slowly shifted to his second oldest sibling, Kankuro. The other boy had a look of worry, mixed with determination - as if he would stop it nothing until his little brother was in good condition again. Despite the way they treated eachother in their younger years, Gaara knew both his siblings cared deeply for him and his well-being.
His siblings then looked as if they were about to bombard him with more questions, when Hinata's timid voice broke in. "Kazekage-sama needs his rest," her voice sounded melodic to him, even in its quietness - she must have gotten rid of her stutter. The small girl turned and smiled at his worried siblings before adding, " You may visit him in the morning, and he is to take the next couple of days off duty."
'Off duty?' he thought. How was he supposed to lead and protect his village if he was off duty?
Temari and Kankuro nodded before relunctantly leaving his quarters, leaving himself alone with Hinata. She moved quickly and...almost uncomfortably as she gathered up his discarded clothes then turned to face him once again. "C-can you dr-dress yourself?" she asked.
So maybe she still does stutter...
Gaara willed himself to sit up and retrieve his clothes from her grasp. When her fingers brushed his, she quickly pulled them away as if he burned her. Was she afraid of him, or was it something else? He assumed the former. After all she was a timid girl and had witnessed his ruthlessness of the past. The boy sighed and cringed as his muscles protested each movement as he pulled his shirt and robes back on. By the time he got his overcoat halfway closed over his net undershirt, he realized one crucial detail he had forgotten to ask anyone how to fall asleep. He glanced over at the shy Hyuuga, she had appearently picked up all her medical supplies in a hurry and was heading for the door.
"Wait," he called after her, his arm halfway extended in case he had to physically stop her with his hand. Hinata's opalescent orbs peered backed at him again, they seemed a little wider than they were previously. Gaara suddenly felt very uncomfortable and "stupid" about asking this question, he didn't like appearing inept at such normal, human things.
For a long time he wondered what he was. If he was human or monster, or a twisted hybrid of the two. Even after knowing that he was really a human influenced by a demon, he still felt...alienated.
Things like sleep, friendship, happiness and...love - he shuddered at the last word of his list - that most everyone knew about, he was only beginning to understand.
Hinata blinked her large, sparkling eyes at him. " Yes, what would you need Kazekage-sama?" she asked.
For some reason that didn't sound right to him. "Gaara," he said, "call me Gaara."
Hinata blinked again, her cheeks turning a little pinker. "Hai Gaara-sama." Gaara still didn't like the formality of how she addressed him, but it was a start.
Wait...a start to what?
Gaara shook his head of the strange thoughts he was suddenly having. "Could you please," he paused, "help me fall asleep?"
The girl's eyes widened more, if that were possible and her face flushed red. "E-excuse me?" she asked in a shaky voice.
He gulped involuntarily and went to explain his predicament to her. "I've never slept before, I don't know how to fall asleep. Could you help me?"
It was then Hinata's turn to gulp. "I-I'll try, but this r-really isn't something I should be doing. Why not ask your brother?"
Gaara's expression turned serious. "You are a medic, and I want to get better as quickly as possible. My village's safety is at stake when I'm...like this."
He was ashamed of his vulnerability, Hinata decided as she took in the appearance of his guilty, down cast eyes. "Alright, I'll help you," she heard herself respond with a strange determination. She always ended up helping people out before thinking of herself, this time was no different. Gaara's eyes returned to her's and she shivered at the intenseness of his gaze. She was used to being attracted to Naruto's spirited, goofy expressions, not this.
Wait...she couldn't be attracted to him, that wasn't right. She liked Naruto.
"Good, arigato." his deep voice ruined her momentary resolve.
"O-ok, umm...you should lay down...on y-your bed." Gaara nodded and sat on the edge of his bed, then scooted into a position on his back. 'His body looks stiff,' she thought, 'he isn't relaxing.'
"Relax your body," she said softly. He nodded curtly before he willed his muscles to untighten. "Now close your eyes, I'm going to turn off some of the lights in here so it will be easier for you to fall asleep. Gaara nodded again, closing his eyes. Her gentle voice seemed sooth him. He heard her switch off some lights and again started to leave.
Cracking an eye open he voiced his thoughts. "Please stay...at least until I am asleep."
"H-hai," she stuttered and sat in a chair near his bed. She seemed to be looking everywhere but his face, but she'd give him a nervous smile when she did have to look at his face. Gaara closed his eyes again and attempted to fall asleep. He felt closer to slumber than ever before, but still couldn't reach what some called, "dreamland." He shifted a little several times and sighed in mild aggrevation.
"Is it impossible for me to sleep?" he murmured to himself for the most part. His eyes reopened and he ran a frustrated hand through his unruly hair. Hinata sensed his slight anger at himself and made a suggestion.
"Try not to think too much, clear your mind as you relax."
Gaara sighed and followed her directions. His body relaxed further, almost all thought left him, except for an annoying one...he was still trying figure out Hinata, and figure himself out for actually caring. He didn't care much for girls. Most of them were loud, obnoxious, and clingy. He was glad his sister were rarely any of those things. But Hinata also wasn't like most girls. She didn't faun over him, ask him out on dates, or admit her undying love for him every five seconds. Hinata was more shy and nervous, maybe even frightened of him. Her differences to other girls made him feel...interested?
Hinata sat hoping he would fall asleep soon, she needed to get away from him. He made her feel strange, and not because she used to be afraid of him - of course she was still wary of him, but he had proven himself in changing. No it wasn't that. She was beginning to feel and act in manners that she only did around Naruto. She didn't know if she liked it or not.
No, she did not like it...she liked Naruto!
She inwardly sighed. She had been Konoha's ambassador for a few months now, and occasionally stayed in Suna. And everytime she saw the Kazekage, her stomach fluttered with butterflies. But why?
"Hinata..." his whisper made her jump in her seat. Her moonlit eyes flew to him and softened. He suddenly looked miserable and it tore at her heartstrings. He looked desperate for sleep, and she knew his body was. If he didn't sleep soon, he'd really be in big trouble. Hinata tried to think of something quick that would help him fall asleep. She could always give him something to help him sleep, but that would be only a quick fix.
She thought back to what she used to do when her little sister, Hanabi, couldn't sleep - something the younger girl wouldn't admit willingly. She would sometimes sing a lullaby, or rub the smaller girl's back. But all of that seemed ludicrous if she did that for Gaara. The thought of it made her face burn with warmth. But maybe she could swallow her modesty and do this for him just this once, and ask him not to tell another soul. Yeah, that could work.
It would be better than him not getting any sleep...
She sighed. It was unavoidable...what would Gaara's siblings think about her if she couldn't help him get better? How would she feel if he got sicker?
No...Don't think about that!
After a few, long moments of staring at his pitiful state, and arguing with herself, she resigned herself to the inevitable. Gaara watched her with a mixture of wariness and interest as she got up and rounded the other side of his bed in slow, nervous steps. What was she doing?
Gaara's eyes widened considerably when she sat down on the other side of his bed. Her face appeared to be so red, that he thought she would faint any second. He prayed that she wouldn't. He liked looking at her conscious face.
His gaze lowered to her trembling light pink lips and fixated on them. Strangely he felt like tasting them, but that was absurd. How could you taste a person's lips?
Suddenly the awkward memory of catching his sister kissing that other lazy leaf shinobi popped into his mind. So there was a way...
His wayward thoughts were hastily broken when her lips began forming words. Crap! She was talking to him.
"...try a different postion."
Gaara shook his head and blinked. "Excuse me?"
The girl blushed a little more. "Maybe you should try a different, more comfortable sleeping position?" she offered.
"Show me what you think would be comfortable," he ordered, though he didn't mean to make it sound that way. His words made her blush more furiously, her body shaking a little. He felt bad. Here she was, probably terrified of him and he was practically asking her to be in an intimate situation. He didn't want her to be afraid of him. He looked away from her guiltily. "Gomen nas-"
"T-try, laying l-like this," she interupted his would-be apology. He glanced back over at her and nearly blanched himself. She was laying down on her stomach her face towards him, and she was so...close.
The way her arms were curled around his pillow and her innocent face, made him find her irrisistable. He had to control himself damnit! Gaara gulped and slowly nodded. He shifted a little on the mattress, mirroring her position. This did feel more comfortable. But his mind was still on her, making him restless.
His body moved closer to her's out of its own accord and he continued to stare at her, probably with the same wide eyes she was exhibiting right now. Her body heat permeated from her to him from their closeness, soothing him and driving him crazy at the same time. Was this attraction he was feeling? It certainly sounded like the feelings his sister explained to him. It scared him.
Hinata shuddered a little as he gave her an earnest expression, even his own cheeks appeared to be flushed. Was he feeling the same feelings she was? Oh god that wasn't good, was it? Her eyes moved to his shoulders when she noticed movement and saw that his muscles were quivering there. In fact all of his muscles were quaking...
"Are y-you alright?" she asked in an unsteady whisper.
Gaara's eyes continued to gaze at her, his hairless brows knitted together in what she assumed was confusion and nervousness. "I..." he trailed off. He didn't even know how to ask this, or why he wanted to ask this...
Her large lavender-tinged, white eyes looked into his. He cleared his throat anxiously. "I want to...hold you, please," he finally asked.
She heard the desperation in his voice and her heart hammered in her chest. Should she let him, hold her? Maybe he would finally fall asleep. Please fall asleep!
She nodded a little and slowly edged her way closer to him. Gaara felt relieved that she accepted. His body turned onto its side and he lifted an arm to accommodate her. Hinata shifted close to him until she was against his body, his arm then lowered, wrapping around to her back. Gaara let out an soft, but audible sigh and rested his head atop her's, her own head tucked under his chin. The soft skin of her face lightly pressed into the crook of his neck.
He shifted slightly one last time to get more comfortable, his lips brushing against her smooth forehead through her thick bangs. His lips tingled when they unintentionally touched her skin and his nostrals flared a little when he took in the scent of her midnight hair. He felt her stiffen in his arms at the contact. His own muscles went ridged when her sweet smell overtook his mind and senses. Hinata felt the butterflies again, only more intense this time and her lower lip quivered. This was too much for her...she felt that her emotions were a whirlwind inside of her, like nothing she felt before. What she felt for Naruto was simple, Gaara made her emotions...complicated.
Now that she knew for certain what he felt for her, she didn't think she could get away from it if this went on. She had to! Because she wanted Naruto...not Gaara, right?
His arm nudged her closer to him and he let out another contented sigh. Hinata felt like she was being smothered, in a a literal and emotonal way. What should she do? What should she do?!
Gaara's body shifted again, this time he seemed to be pulling away from her, but only slightly. His face pulled back to look at her own, his expression soft, yet intense at the same time. She didn't know what to, but she had to think of something fast!
His eyes were half-lidded and his face was slowly inching towards her's. Hinata's mind was in a panic, but outwardly she was frozen, wide-eyed to the spot. Her conscience screamed at her to stop this, that she shouldn't be doing this, that she should want this. She screwed her eyelids tightly shut. Oh what to do? What to do?!
She felt the soft, moistness of his lips on her's and all her thoughts about stopping this ceased. She was taken aback by the sensation of him lightly kissing her, she expected his lips to feel like sandpaper. Her own body betrayed her and she applied a gentle pressure to his lips in return. Maybe this was what she was supposed to do...
Their kiss only lasted a few seconds, but it was enough to push all her romantic thoughts of Naruto to the back of her mind.
Gaara didn't know if he should have done that, but he felt so strangely drawn to her face, her lips - and before he could stop himself, he was kissing her. But now he didn't regret his decision. She had returned his advance and it made him feel elated. But he still didn't know where all these feelings were stemming from. Wasn't he a being that could not love or accept love? No...he shook his head inwardly...that was all behind him now.
After breaking contact with Hinata's lips, he again gazed at her. Her expression seemed to have changed from the fear and nervousness of before to of more...acceptance? It was still hard for him to discern human emotions aside from pain, fear, and hate, but he really wanted to learn now.
He wanted to feel human.
That kiss changed a lot of Hinata's perception of the young Kazekage. She was observing him in a new light. At first her body and heart resisted this new feeling, but now she wanted the softness of his kiss again. As they continued to watch eachother, her eyes picked up and memorized his facial features. She had to admit, he was quite handsome. Why didn't she notice him in this way before? Maybe she had, but was just denying it to herself.
Hinata's transluscent white eyes lowered to his mouth, wanting to kiss him again, but still feeling shy about it. She gently bit her bottom lip as she tried to work up the courage to kiss him first this time. When her eyes traveled back up to see him eyeing her intently, she lost her resolve and pressed her lips against his.
He answered her kiss eagerly, his hand sliding from its place at her back to rest at the base of her skull, bringing her closer. They broke apart moments later, for oxygen and Gaara's hand caressed her cheek. He stared down at her, a question in his pale aquamarine eyes.
"What is this feeling? What am I feeling?" he murmured lowly. His body was feeling fatigued again, but he willed himself to stay awake until Hinata voiced her answer. He had to know from her.
The timid girl's eyes sparkled in the faint lighting of his room. She bit her lip again in contemplation. Gaara didn't like it when she abused her lip like that, even if it wasn't too harmful. He would have stopped her, but he was so tired. He only wanted to focus on her and what she would tell him.
Finally Hinata spoke an answer as honest as possible. "I'm not sure myself...but I know that I feel the way you are feeling right now. Perhaps we'll figure out that answer someday."
He listened to her words and repeated them clearly in his mind, he gave a satisfied, albeit exhausted, nod to her reply. His eyelids now felt like lead weights over his eyeballs and he had to close them. A contented, small smile ghosted his features as he was finally able to drift off into a subconscious state. Hinata noted that he looked younger and more innocent when he was asleep. She felt happy that he was able to find enough comfort from her to achieve sleep. She had helped him and it made her heart swell. She, Hyuuga Hinata, the labeled "failure," had succeeded in two more things in her life.
She had helped the Kazekage, thus also aiding his village. And found someone that felt for her, the same thing she admittedly felt for them.
Feelign tired herself, Hinata snuggled closer to her human "teddy bear" and fell into a relaxed slumber. A faint smile gracing her lips.
"Gaara, are you awake-" Temari's voice was cut off by the sight she saw after peeking her head into Gaara's door the next morning. She had been eager to check up on her youngest brother and see if he was alright. What she saw was not what she had bargained for.
Gaara lay on his back while Hinata was curled up against his side, her head pillowed by his chest and shoulder. One of his arms were lazily thrown around her, as if to keep someone from taking her away. One of the girl's hands were splayed against his chest. The two younger shinobi looked to be in complete peace with eachother. And Gaara was...sleeping!
At first, the older kunoichi felt awkward looking at the scene, then she suddenly felt devious. A wicked grin crossed her face and she poked her head back out intothe corridor. "Oi, Kankuro, get your ass over here now and see this!" she yelled as loud as she could without disturbing the sleeping pair. She heard the middle sibling grumble from his own bedroom, seeing as his door was open. Lazily, the puppeteer stumbled out of his room, obviously just awoken by her voice.
"Nani?" he asked rubbing the sleep from his left eyes. Temari grinned and gestured for him to look through Gaara's doorway. Kankuro sighed and stepped infront of his sister to see what all the fuss was about. Inwardly he was alarmed at first, until he saw her devilish smirk. His dark brown eyes widened when he saw the two sleeping teenagers, his face contorted in shock. Moments later he was covering his mouth to hold back his rising laughter.
He turned back to his older sister. "As sweet as this is, we're going to have to tease him about this,' he whispered to her. Temari nodded.
"I agree," she quietly responded, her smirk growing.
Kankuro got a quick idea and voiced his suggestion, "Get the camera."