A/N: Recently, I've been challenging myself by tapping into different fandoms and pairings. This oneshot is one such attempt and I'm pretty satisfied with the overall result. As for the title, I've shamelessly named it after Lady Gaga's Government Hooker simply because it fit so incredibly well that I had to.
As the official advisor of the Rokudaime Hokage, Sakura knew the exact criteria of the tasks that she was often appointed. As a friend of the Rokudaime, Sakura also knew that she needed to regularly reinforce boundaries regarding those criteria. Despite his proficiency as Hokage, Naruto was easily blindsided by their friendship. Her current predicament had been one such instance. Unfortunately, she had failed to negotiate her way out of this one. In this one rare instance, Naruto had been brutal in his persistence.
He had pulled rank on her.
"I can make the antidote," Sakura assured the room as they watched her flip through the journal that the Sunagakure elitist medical team had prepared for her.
"I'll require a couple of seasonal ingredients from back home, but quick transportation shouldn't be a problem, I assume? Until those ingredients arrive, I can hold off most of the patient's pains. Did he mention a specific area in which-"
"He doesn't care about the pain."
Sakura looked up from the journal and directly at the man who had spoken.
"He's my patient. I'll decide what to give him and not."
"You won't get any needles near him," Kankuro snorted. "That's for sure."
Which was why knocking him out with anesthetics had been her first priority upon arriving at the shared residence of the three renowned siblings. Next to the visibly upset Kankuro, Temari had remained stoically silent throughout the entire briefing and somehow that bothered Sakura a whole lot more than Kankuro's snarky comments.
The Kazekage was sick.
Gaara was sick.
So, Naruto had dispatched Sakura to the blaring heat and general discomfort of the desert, essentially pimping her out to Wind with the promise that she would get their ruler back in working order within a reasonable amount of time. Yes, the blond had quite literally claimed such and done so very loudly and enthusiastically. He had told Sakura to feel honored. Now she was nursing the Kazekage back to full health per request of Naruto and the Sunagakure government, and for the first time in years since having achieved the unofficial title of medical prodigy, she was battling a healthy dose of performance anxiety.
"How long will it take for the final antidote to be ready?"
She did a quick offhand calculation. "A week at most."
"You understand that you can't exit the building during that week?" Temari asked, throwing Sakura a skeptical look.
"Yes, I understood that part the first time it was read aloud. I assume you have some sort of laboratory installed for me to work in? Otherwise, this accommodation will delay my work and prolong the Kazekage's restoration."
She hadn't been happy to take on this job and she hadn't been happy when they told her that she couldn't move outside the perimeter of the mansion as long as the medical treatment was in process. You could always trust a village to go overboard with the safety precautions when it concerned their leader. Sakura couldn't even fault them for that. She would have done the same if Naruto had been sick.
Although, given Sakura's position within the Konohagakure government, the restriction felt more like an insult than any sort of safety measure. Of course, the safety part was aimed more at the Kazekage than Sakura herself, but that didn't really lessen the offensiveness of it. She was the Hokage's most trusted confidant and advisor. She was his darned best friend, as juvenile as that sounded, and the two nations were allies to the point of literally rubbing shoulders with each other.
Granted, she and Gaara were strangers in every sense of the word, but surely she deserved just an ounce of trust based on their mutual friendship with the Hokage. But no; she found herself locked up in the Kazekage's private estate together with his two distrustful and overprotective siblings.
She could pack a punch, but she couldn't pack three at the same time.
Her professional side told her to endure it and take it like a man. Clearly, Kakashi's and Tsunade's unorthodox teaching methods had done a real number on her mental self. This was why she didn't date. Her dates always turned out to be the lesser man, and she had enough issues without adding gender confusion to the mix.
"We have one down in the basement, right below the room you'll be staying in," Temari answered, playing the polite host. "Do you need an assisting pair of hands while you work? We have plenty of staff available."
"I'm fine on my own. Although, I would like to do my own diagnosis of the Kazekage before I begin any treatment. To confirm."
"Sure," Kankuro offered when Temari failed to. "Whatever ingredients you need from Konoha, I'll personally collect. Just write a list or something. I suck at the medical stuff."
Sakura almost objected. She didn't want to be alone with Temari.
"Alright," Sakura concluded and closed the journal with a satisfied nod. "I think I'm ready to do the diagnosis."
Guards were stationed both outside and inside the chambers of the sick Kazekage. Sakura supposed that it indeed was frightening to see one's ruler suffer so severely from something as medically common as blood poisoning.
Gaara was the epitome of resilience. She would have worried the minute that Naruto had dispatched her if she hadn't been aware of his ulterior motive.
Inside the Kazekage's chambers, the air was polluted with sickness and fever, and Sakura immediately wanted to lecture the Suna medical team about the most basic healthcare rule of them all; clean air. However, if she asked to open the windows, they would most likely double up on the guards and she couldn't perform with such a large audience breathing down her neck. It was bad enough that she was working on the Kazekage. She didn't need the additional pressure of being supervised while she did it.
Crossing the dimly lit room with her medical kit in hand, Sakura approached her patient.
Gaara was a man in his prime, both physically and mentally, and this was why it was so very disturbing to see him lying unconscious on his own bed, sedated with the most hardcore anesthetics that Sakura had had at her disposal upon her arrival.
It was like taking down a bull. It required balls and it required the right tools.
Even when sick – and she noted this somewhat shamefully – the Kazekage was still as attractive as ever. Up close, the visuals were even more stunning and if her professionalism had been any lesser, she would have used this situation as an opportunity to thoroughly map out the gentle slant of the redhead's jawbone and the subtle play of muscles cording down his neck and upper arms.
As an ally nation, Gaara often visited Konoha to promote the relationship between the two countries. Naruto also regularly visited Suna and left behind most of his paperwork for Sakura to deal with. Needless to say, she preferred it when Gaara came to visit them. She had never had an actual one-on-one conversation with the redhead, but last year they had reached a point where they began exchanging greetings. That had been somewhat of a turning point.
"All right, you," she spoke aloud and knelt before the bed. "Let's get you patched up so you can get back to governing your country."
Ten minutes later, she was finishing up the Kazekage's third blood sample when she withdrew the needle and felt his arm flinch in response. She didn't have to look in order to know that her patient was awake. Taking a mental breath, she looked up at the redhead's face. One half-lidded eye was studying her and the brightness of the teal iris confirmed what Sakura had already suspected. He clearly wasn't at full consciousness, but conscious enough to sense her presence.
She hadn't expected anything less.
His voice was thick and croaky – delirious – and Sakura remembered her place.
"Haruno Sakura," Sakura introduced herself automatically. "I'm here to heal you."
Technically, she wasn't healing him, but she doubted that he was conscious enough to understand the difference.
"Naruto's teammate," Gaara repeated and Sakura realized what he was asking.
"Naruto's friend," Sakura corrected him. The conversation felt disturbingly familiar and Sakura really did have to reconsider her choice of friends. She was tired of constantly having to read in between the lines. She was an expert at it, mind you, but it did get sort of tiring in the long run.
"Haruno," Gaara noted after a long pause and Sakura watched as the man went back to sleep, seemingly satisfied with her answer. For a moment, Sakura had to fight her laughter. The entire nation distrusted her, but within five minutes of barely-there consciousness the Kazekage himself decided to trust her. The irony was just too good.
"Kankuro is ready to take off," Temari announced. "He's asking for that list of yours."
Sakura had sensed Temari's approach when the blonde had turned the corner out in the hallway, so she wasn't startled when the other woman appeared beside her.
"I'll prepare the list," she replied, already going through the various ingredients that wouldn't be at her disposal in this climate. That wasn't to say that she couldn't have used alternatives that did exist in Wind, but she had most experience with the ingredients of her home country, and she figured that now would be a good time for her to draw on that experience.
"Is he awake?" Temari asked, gesturing to the redhead on the bed.
"Briefly. We'll have to do something about the environment in here," Sakura noted and stood up from the floor. "It's not doing him any good to be locked up like this. He needs fresh air."
"I'll see to it," Temari agreed, studying her brother with obvious concern. In a move that even surprised herself, Sakura reached out to put a careful hand on Temari's shoulder. The other woman shrugged it off.
"He'll recover," Sakura summed up in an effort to be the supportive professional that she ought to be. "It's blood poising, only to a particularly lethal degree."
"Any other person would have died an instant death," Temari commented.
"Yes," Sakura agreed without hesitation. "But he's only human, after all. He can't go completely unharmed."
He wasn't immortal, although sometimes Sakura herself believed Naruto to be. That was sort of the same thing, right? Then again, Naruto probably was immortal one way or another. If not in body, then in name.
"Oh, he's human, alright," Temari scoffed and turned around, heading for the exit. There was an implication relating to Sakura somewhere in that sentence, but Temari offered no elaboration and Sakura didn't ask for one. Together, the two women exited the Kazekage's chambers.
On the second day, Gaara's admirable recuperation skills had worked off her commonplace sedatives so fast that Sakura had produced a customized version that applied specifically to the redhead's genetic code.
Also, creating such a concoction took time and she desperately needed to kill some of that.
So far, the Kazekage had been surprisingly cooperative whenever she had done her tests. Now, by this third day, he appeared ready to talk. Unsurprisingly, with Temari as her only company in the large mansion, Sakura was ready to listen.
"How far along is the final antidote?"
"You'll be back behind your desk by the end of the week, Kazekage-sama," Sakura assured the man. She was studying her notes from the night before.
"I'm having a couple of ingredients imported from the Konoha storage. They're set to arrive today and I'll start mixing up the antidote. For now, I'm keeping the pain at bay with customized medication," she added as a second thought. She had to remember that her patient wasn't your regular run-off-the-mill Average Joe. He would expect to be told the details. And she was probably expected to give them.
"Naruto sent you."
"He was worried and suggested that I was put in charge of your treatment," Sakura confirmed and flipped to the next page of her neatly scribbled notes. She could feel Gaara's eyes on her face, but she didn't take her own eyes off the small notebook in her hand. Despite the guards in the room, the moment felt oddly personal and Sakura didn't want to add to that feeling.
"Haruno Sakura," Gaara mused aloud.
She hesitated. "That would be me, yes."
"Naruto said you volunteered for the job."
She almost asked the man how he would know anything beyond the dimensions of his ceiling, but that would probably have resulted in immediate decapitation. He had to be speaking the truth, since it would do him no good to lie to her. It was probably taken out of context. Either that or she had to start giving Naruto's manipulation skills more credit.
"That's not the case, I'm afraid," she replied and stopped by a dog-eared page.
"He also said you would say that," Gaara noted, finally drawing her attention off the notebook. He was too alert for a guy strapped onto numerous IV's. She didn't like it.
"I assure you that I have no influence on the decisions of the Hokage, Kazekage-sama," she answered.
This was not her best behavior, was it?
"Gaara," he corrected her. "And you are his advisor, are you not?"
She didn't reply, because she didn't know what to say. Gaara already knew that Sakura was Naruto's advisor. Gaara knew Sakura.
"He also suggested that I 'make a move on you'," Gaara continued when Sakura didn't reply.
Somewhere in the room a guard smothered a laugh. As a rule, Gaara didn't do jokes and the blank, uninterested look on his face clearly confirmed that. Starting tomorrow, the village council would need to look for a new ruler. Naruto was a dead man.
"I wouldn't put too much credit into what Naruto says, Kazekage-sama. Most of the time it's bullshit," Sakura replied and closed the notebook with enough force to punch a hole through the binding.
"Gaara," the redhead insisted for the second time that afternoon. "I find formalities inconvenient for prolonged periods of time."
She really wasn't staying around long enough for him to use 'prolonged'.
"Gaara," Sakura humored the man, her voice dry and clipped, while she reached up to adjust one of his IV-drops.
Her fingers slipped around the large instrument and she struggled to gain hold of it before it fell over and broke.
"I should upgrade the medical instruments within my home. They are outdated. I apologize for the inconvenience," Gaara stated once Sakura had secured the drop.
In the beginning, Sakura had often thought of Gaara's demeanor as dispassionate and blasé. Nowadays, she knew it wasn't indifference, but rather rock solid observation and calculation that made him appear so aloof and unapproachable. Kakashi had the same thing going on for him, though he tended to rotate towards dumb and perverted instead.
"I've worked under worse conditions," Sakura answered. She could feel the redness of her face working its way up across her forehead. At this rate, her blush would expand to her scalp and she was not in any way amused or entertained by that fact.
"If you'll excuse me, Kazekage-sama, I'll have to go see if your brother has returned with my ingredients."
Sakura didn't chicken out very often, but this time she very much did. And she didn't care that Gaara undoubtedly recognized her retreat for what it was.
On the fourth day, Sakura's optimized pain medication had Gaara up and about. She had mixed and stirred the final antidote when Kankuro had returned from Konoha that same morning, but the concoction would have to simmer for the next two days. She found Gaara outside on the balcony attached to his chambers. She had headed up to there to inform him of the news. Temari was with him and looked almost frightfully upset. Sakura had prepared to back up and quietly leave when Gaara addressed her.
"You have a sunburn," he greeted her.
"I sat outside yesterday. I'm sorry for intruding. I'll-"
"Temari is leaving. Now."
Without a word of protest, the blonde woman got up from her seat and walked past Sakura with as much dignity as a defeated person could muster. Clearly, Gaara had gotten his way and Temari had not. It was uncomfortable how much insight you got into the relationship of the three siblings when you lived under the same roof. Well, two. Kankuro had been absent pretty much the entire time that Sakura had been holed up inside the mansion. If he had been there, he would have provided entertainment.
Sakura was ready to go home. She couldn't keep rereading Gaara's medical profile every evening for lack of anything better to do. She should have insisted on bringing one of her assistants. Then she would have had company besides that of her neurotic thoughts.
"Sit," Gaara offered and gestured to the chair that Temari had occupied seconds ago. Out in the sun, you could see the vague signs of illness on the man's face. His cheeks were a little too hollow and his skin looked clammy, though that could have been a result of the humid air. His eyes hadn't lost their attentiveness however, but were actively engaging eye contact with the medic.
"Next time, consult with your doctor before leaving the bed," Sakura reminded the redhead. "So, your brother arrived this morning. I've mixed the antidote, but it needs another two days before it's finished. You should be ready to go back to work within the next three or four days. I'm advising you to lay low for the remainder of the month, though. Your body has been severely weakened by the poison attack, and it'll not be at its full capacity until the end of the month. You might make a miscalculation out in the field."
"That is of no concern."
"I don't work in the field."
"At all?" Sakura blurted.
"My responsibilities lie elsewhere," Gaara answered as a way of explaining.
"You mean you're a diplomat?"
"I am the face of my village," the redhead replied with a cursory glance in her direction before he went back to staring aimlessly at the view from the balcony. Right then Sakura was about to overstep some serious boundaries – and most likely standard protocol – but surprisingly she got the feeling that Gaara wanted her to. And when the Kazekage gave you a lead, you followed it without question.
"Was that what you were arguing with your sister about?"
He was silent for so long that Sakura nearly threw herself off the balcony.
"I expressed my desire to forgo diplomatic affairs in favor of field work," Gaara eventually confirmed.
Sakura could understand why he felt the need to escape from the responsibility that accompanied his title. He was her age. If she had achieved this much at this point in her life, she wouldn't have known what to do with it. Gaara, on the other hand, had clear visions for the future, like a true leader ought to have. Nevertheless, he had to be split between his contrasting duties. Much like her, in fact. He was a killer and a diplomat. She was a killer and a healer.
She was surprised that this had never occurred to her before now.
"As the Kazekage you have the final word," Sakura pointed out.
"As the Kazekage I decide very little on my own," Gaara explained as though she ought to know. She did know.
"Have you discussed this with your brother, too?" she heard herself ask.
"No," Gaara answered, furrowing his brow. "Why did Naruto tell me to make a move on you?"
He asked the question so clinically that Sakura found it hard to be embarrassed. She had to admit that the redhead sounded genuinely interested in her answer. The fact that he had addressed the subject a second time was a testament to that, and since Sakura had run off last time, she probably owed him an honest answer this time.
"Well," she began tactfully. "I believe he said it because he knows that I wouldn't reject any of your advances. In case that you should ever entertain such preposterous notions, of course. That was a compliment, actually. I think it came out wrong. Did it?"
He was watching her far too intently, and she was blabbering nonsense.
"I'll head down to the laboratory and check up on the progress of the antidote," she announced and stood up from her seat, not giving Gaara the time he obviously needed to think of a reply. "Do you want to stay out here or would you like to go back inside? The sun is setting and I won't have you out here when the temperature drops. It could counterwork the medication."
"You shouldn't cheapen yourself."
She paused. "Cheapen?"
"Preposterous," Gaara mimicked her words from earlier.
She frowned, prepared to protest. "I was-"
"Speaking from my point of view?" the redhead suggested.
"Yes, of course," she defended herself. She hadn't realized that she had been shrinking away from the man in the chair until the small of her back met with the balcony railing. Gaara must have realized this as well, because the look in his eyes turned absent.
"I will go inside before the sun sets," he assured her.
"Good," Sakura answered a bit too briskly.
She didn't go to sleep that night. She missed Naruto, but she also wanted to bash his head in.
"You're up early," Temari noted when Sakura shuffled into the kitchen around 4 am. She was surprised that Temari had used 'early' and not 'late'. "Antidote not giving you problems?"
"Bad dream," Sakura lied.
"Pick your poison."
In retrospect, that had been a rather thoughtless thing to say, and Sakura wouldn't blame Temari if the woman should hate her for it.
Two days later the antidote was ready. As a rule, Sakura felt secure enough in her treatments that she always headed home immediately after injecting an antidote, but seeing that this was the Kazekage, she had decided to monitor him until she was perfectly certain that her antidote was working. Or rather, Temari and Kankuro had insisted that she did, and perhaps it was wise to be a little more attentive when dealing with high profile patients. Gaara certainly qualified as such.
She had just sent word to Naruto about her imminent return to Konoha and was having breakfast in the second floor kitchen, when a disgruntled Kankuro approached her. She had always been comfortable around the guy and probably treated him with less respect than what she ought to. The three siblings were considered royal blood by their village, but Sakura liked to think that she got a little leeway for having saved the man's life back when they were teenagers.
"He's definitely on his way to recovery," Kankuro grumbled, rubbing the side of his head.
"Of course," Sakura noted, pleased as she should be. "Did you go in to say hello?"
"He thought I was you."
She frowned and gestured to his head. "And he hit you?"
"He hit me when he realized I wasn't you," Kankuro explained.
"I should go check up on him," Sakura said and prepared to slide off her stool. "If he exercised enough energy to hit you, he's definitely improved overnight."
"That or he really wanted to hit me."
Sakura turned around in her chair to face him, departure forgotten. "Why would he want to do that?"
"I might've pissed him off."
"Did you aggravate my patient?" Sakura asked, her tone performing a swift change from curious to deadly. Kankuro was unaffected though. In fact, he seemed outright amused.
"Fuck, you both are so hung up on this patient doctor thing," he grinned as he bravely remained seated on his chair next to Sakura. "That's a lot of potential for some kinky shit, right there."
Sakura was absolutely certain by now that the two Sand siblings were in on Naruto's underhanded scheme. She kept on receiving these weird jabs from both Kankuro and Temari, but she didn't have the guts to call either of them out on it. She wasn't sure that she wanted to.
Luckily, Temari made her appearance just then.
"You've done a wonderful job," she greeted Sakura, sounding the most genuine that she had in days. "He's already bossing people around and you only injected the antidote yesterday evening."
"Glad to be of help," Sakura tried to smile.
"And Kankuro, you ass, you get to repair the whole in the wall yourself," Temari said and elbowed her brother. The display was oddly endearing, but Sakura most of all wanted to gorge down the last of her breakfast and make a swift retreat. Naruto was a manipulative dick and she fully intended to tell him so when she returned.
"He was asking for you," Temari said and exchanged a look with her brother that Sakura purposely missed.
"I'm headed up there when I'm done eating," Sakura answered.
"You might want to bring your battle gear," Kankuro said underneath his breath. She didn't ask what for. That would have been too easy.
Gaara didn't agree with her when she told him that he shouldn't have hit Kankuro.
"You consider Naruto family, do you not?" Gaara asked her.
"Well, yes, but he's-"
"Has he not suffered numerous concussions by your hand?"
Hand, feet, head, whatever. You got creative at some point.
"But I can make up for it by healing the damages that I cause," she said.
"How is that irrelevant?" she argued, her tone exasperated.
"You said there were no excuses for hitting family and friends," Gaara said. "Saying that you can heal the damage is an excuse."
She had said that, she realized.
"I say a lot of things," she said.
There were a lot of things that she didn't say, too.
On the last day of her stay in Suna, she was taking a nap out on one of the shadowed patios of the mansion. She had already made the needed arrangements and would be taking off the next morning. It was a chilly day for the citizens of the village, but a temperate day for Sakura herself. Lounging in one of the cushioned swings, she nearly jumped out of her skin when extra weight was added to the overly luxurious piece of furniture. She cracked her eyes open and immediately proceeded to scoot up into a sitting position when she recognized the person who had had interrupted her afternoon of self-indulgence. Ironically enough, the arrival of said person was likely to up the rate of self-indulgence.
"Kazekage-sama," she said, sounding baffled. "You made it all the way down here without any dizzy spells?"
He didn't answer at first.
"That's good. Good," she replied. "I'll be leaving tomorrow morning, but I'll leave my notes for your medical team to save in case you should experience a kickback."
Her heart slammed against her ribcage in steady intervals and an almost fully recuperated Gaara would never miss such an observation. With that last thought in mind, Sakura averted her eyes to the wooden floor of the patio. There was a gentle breeze in the air and Sakura could feel it blow past her ankles and shins from where she sat upright in the swing. Surprisingly, she managed to remain calm when that same wind materialized and proceeded to crawl up her skin, like tiny corns of sand. Without looking down, she studied the horizon and felt her lips give away to a small sardonic smile.
"Gaara," she heard herself say. The sand twirls down by her shins dissipated.
"Sakura," he responded and she was naïve enough to look up and get caught in the man's gaze.
"I'm leaving," she said.
"I am aware," Gaara replied, his eyes narrowing a fraction of an inch.
"You're upset," Sakura stated. Her chest was starting to feel light with lack of oxygen and she drew in a deep breath that caught Gaara's immediate attention and had his eyes swerve down to her neck. Later, she would question her sanity, but right now, when Gaara was so very fixated on plain average her that she sort of decided to go with the flow.
"You're upset that I'm leaving," she said.
"Yes," he confirmed and stood up from his seat. The change in weight disturbed the balance of the swing and Sakura was swung backwards. She tried to steady herself, but when the bench swung back forward, Gaara was right in front of her. He grabbed her elbow and with the added momentum of the swing, he pulled her up and off the cushions.
It was inevitable when she bumped face first into his chest.
The hand that slid around her waist wasn't.
They tripped backwards. On purpose, she suspected, because a near healthy Gaara could easily have withstood the impact. They tripped backwards and Sakura followed the redhead's lead when he fell down into one of the lawn chairs. The chair was wide enough to accommodate both of them, but despite Gaara's obvious intent, Sakura was still shocked when he steered her directly down into his lap. Catching her eyes, he shifted beneath her, rolling his hips in a deliberate moment, and she slid down further on his thighs, nearly sitting chest to chest with the redhead. If she hadn't gripped the sides of the chair in a moment of clear thinking, they would have kissed right then.
"You are leaving," he said, his voice delightfully brusque and touching places that Sakura very much wanted touched. For a long moment, Gaara searched her eyes for something that Sakura was afraid he would find.
"The chunin exams start next month," she said. "You'll be staying in Konoha then."
"I might not want to," he warned her.
For all its intimacy, the moment was strangely formal and it kept Sakura's sense of judgment intact.
"You might not want to?" she said and felt her legs ache with repressed energy and adrenaline. She wanted to push herself off him. Or push closer. "If this is some sort of passing fancy of yours, I'd rather-"
"I might not have time to," Gaara clarified before she could jump to conclusions.
"Is this a fight? Are we fighting now? Or are we doing something differently?" Sakura asked, gritting her teeth from the effort it took to remain still and not punch the guy. It felt like a fight. A battle of wills, maybe, though it seemed as though they both wanted the same thing, so that made little sense.
"A little bit of both," Gaara answered and tightened his grip when she tested its strength. He didn't have to elaborate on the 'both' part.
"Are you doing this because of that stupid crush of mine?" she finally asked aloud. She hated admitting to it, but sadly that didn't make it any less true. Yes, she had crushed on Gaara of the Desert just like any other healthy woman before her had done.
"That was an entire year ago and it lasted only for one month!" she continued. "You're not doing me any favor by-"
"Stop complaining, Sakura-chan," Naruto interrupted and stood up from his chair with a flourish that was entirely unnecessary and only served to irritate Sakura furtherer. "You'd love to get the guy within reaching distance, sick or not. The way you've ogled him the past year only proves that. I'm pretty sure he's noticed himself, in fact. I'm offering you the perfect chance here! Provided you heal him, of course, so you both can get down to business, but I'm sure you'll patch him up in no time."
"What?" she sputtered, watching in complete horror as Naruto saw straight through her.
"He's not as asexual as you believe, Sakura-chan. If you play your cards right, you have a pretty good chance with him, I think."
Sakura had trouble stitching together a coherent sentence. "Are you implying that I want to-"
"Do the nasty with our beloved Kazekage?" Naruto quipped. "Yes. Yes, I am. And there's a pretty good chance that the feeling is mutual."
Being the selfless person that she was, Sakura didn't act on aimless desires, particularly not those of the flesh. The man was sex on legs and she could appreciate that. From afar and in secret, that is. You didn't get up close with Gaara of the Desert unless you were absolutely certain that the man had an interest in you. You didn't get up close with Gaara of the Desert, period.
But you sure did want to.
"Am I wrong?" Naruto prodded after a long pause, practically lying across his desk to study Sakura's face. Sakura knew when she had lost a fight.
"When are they expecting me and how serious is his condition?"
Sakura's body loosened the grip that she had on the chair.
Without the support of her grip, she slid down all the way into Gaara's lap, groin connecting to groin, and both of them stilled.
They were at a stalemate until Sakura's body went into a sudden series of twitchy, almost violent, jerks. Gaara responded with a low groan in her ear, followed by a suppressed chuckle. Both things were equally strange as Sakura had never associated either of them with the levelheaded Kazekage. In retrospect, that was incredibly naïve. Gaara was very much a man, and she was sitting on the very obvious proof.
"Do we kiss?"
It was a stupid question, but she couldn't associate Gaara with the prospect of kissing, either.
Gaara sounded horribly frank when he answered. "Is that not a criterion?"
She blinked and he took it as his cue to align his mouth with hers, drawing her into a kiss of such precision and intent that her stomach dropped all the way out of her toes. Seep out, she thought distractedly, like sand. She had no idea how to reciprocate without coming off as clumsy and uncoordinated, but when Gaara reached up to grab her chin and tilt her head to the side, she decided that it didn't matter.
"Did you tell him to make a move on me?"
"Did he make a move on you?" Naruto asked with an indulgent smile, looking far too young and far too immature in his Hokage robes. It was at this point that Sai seemed to catch onto the subject.
"If we're discussing romantic conquests, I'd like to-"
There were a lot of things that she didn't say, but she knew that Naruto never failed to hear them, anyway.