I'm sorry I didn't update earlier but I was very busy with my groups on deviantArt^^' I'm the founder of Naruto-best-fanarts and Gaara-best-fanarts, and co-founder in GaaraMatsu. If you're interested to check out those groups, find the links in my profile. Bonus: GaaraMatsu is actually hosting the contest :3
This chapter wasn't betaread.
Gaara, Matsuri, and Narutoverse still belong to Kishimoto Masashi. Damn it xD
Alive And Victorious
Chapter 20. Alive and victorious
Matsuri opened her eyes. She blinked a few times, rubbing against her forehead with the back of her palm, before she slowly rolled on her side and scanned the room carefully. Not that she expected to find anything there, but she had to see with her own eyes there wasn't even one grain of sand left.
Naturally, the room was empty. As if nothing happened there.
The girl sat up and stroked the bedsheet absent-mindedly, when the bittersweet memories of the last night returned. The fabric was smooth under her fingertips but it seemed to be cold. So cold in comparison to Gaara's warm skin.
She grabbed the fistfuls of the bedsheet and leant forward, pressing her face against it. The linen still held his scent, even if only a little. Matsuri inhaled deeply but the scent seemed to fade away. Desperately, she tried to catch it, until her rapid breathing turned into sobs and the hot tears soaked in the fabric. She knew that the hour was rather late and she was supposed to leave the house but she couldn't bring herself to care, while she wept into the linen, whispering her beloved redhead's name in a breaking voice, so desperate and sad as if he was already gone.
The jounins headquarters weren't as busy as they had been recently, since only several of them stayed in charge of protecting the village. Because of that, Baki was definitely surprised, when someone knocked at his office's door.
"Come in," he commanded, wondering who decided to visit him at this hour, when the entire village was gathering on the cliffs to see the army marching out. He could put a few guesses but he definitely didn't expect to see the Kazekage's red head, as the boy glimpsed inside, apparently checking out if Baki was alone. Once Gaara confirmed he could enter safely, he went in, his steps noiseless. The two greeted each other with a nod since there were no words needed between them. Baki stood up from his chair and went towards his former student, suddenly worried.
"I would like to ask you a favour," Gaara spoke, looking into Baki's only eye.
The jounin frowned, since there was something in the redhead's voice he hadn't heard before. Of course, Gaara wasn't used to making requests, but it seemed there was something more to his attitude than a simple discomfort caused by his decision to rely on someone else. Slowly, Baki acknowledged his words with a nod, and waited till the redhead gathered his thoughts and continued.
"Please take care of Matsuri while I'm gone."
Baki held his breath a bit, even if he couldn't say he was completely surprised by those particular words. So Gaara came to him with a personal request. That, more than anything else, told the jounin how Gaara had changed. There was a specific kind of courage recquired to make such a request, and Gaara hadn't had it before since he was always afraid of rejection. Baki knew it, because his former student, even if he had been terrifying and terrorizing, once, was always rather easy to read; at least to his teacher.
Proud with Gaara, and with himself, Baki held the redhead's gaze steadily, noticing that the boy swallowed almost imperceptibly.
"I decided she would stay in the village but I need to be sure she wouldn't disobey me. I have to be absolutely certain she's safe," the young Kazekage finished, and breathed deeply. Baki glanced away, rubbing his chin thoughtfully, while Gaara waited for his reply in silence.
"Yes, the girl could do that," the jounin muttered, eventually, more to himself than to Gaara.
Once, Baki was concerned that the girl would be an easy prey for those who would like to destroy Kazekage's reputation. As it turned out, he was wrong, and Gaara, who believed in Matsuri, was right. His logic failed where Gaara's instincts succeeded.
Maybe he ought to put more faith in his former student, after all.
The jounin looked into the Kazekage's eyes again, only to see a frail, unrecognizable emotion in them, when the redhead spoke in a quieter tone.
"She's... precious to me."
Precious. Baki didn't need to be told anything else. He grew serious immediately, his eyes sticking to Gaara's.
"I swear I will protect her with my life," he announced solemnly, and the redhead blinked, obviously astounded.
"I—" he stuttered, before he made a bow, as if he was a subordinate, and Baki was a superior. "Thank you very much—" Gaara said in a low voice, and was interrupted by the rapid knocking on the door.
"Kazekage-sama!" the voice urged, apparently impatient. The redhead approached the door and put his hand on the doorknob. Baki still stood in front of his desk and watched the young ruler of Suna, who glanced at him over his shoulder. The pale aqua eyes assessed Baki for the last time before the Kazekage went out of the jounin's office, leaving his former teacher alone to his own insecurities and concerns.
It had been seven days since Gaara left the village, and Matsuri couldn't help but waiting for the letter even if she knew she wouldn't get any, at all. Suna ninjas had just arrived at Kumo, most likely. They were extremely busy at the moment, and Gaara was the busiest one amongst them. But... she hoped he would think of her, at least. Sometimes. Maybe.
She wondered about the people from other villages he would meet. The old dear friends. New formidable allies. Great, strong ninjas. Powerful, beautiful kunoichis. They would fight by his side. She wouldn't. And it was a bitter pill to swallow, still. She would begin to think of following him, despite her promise, if Baki didn't watch her. At first, she was surprised that the jounin kept her by his side for most times. She was glad he kept her busy, but she was suspicious, too. And finally, she just knew.
He was watching her. Closely. As if he expected she would attempt to sneak out. She still didn't know if he was doing it on his own, or if it was the Kazekage's order, but the fact remained. He watched her.
Sometimes, Matsuri was so desperate that she hardly controlled herself not to ask him about it. Not to ask him about any news on Gaara. The council was certainly getting some messages from Alliance headquarters but nobody would share them with a mere chuunin girl. Matsuri simply had to wait, and an impatient anxiety was a torture to her.
Sari was waiting, either. She was quiet and sad those days, since she hadn't find the courage in her to declare her feelings to Kankurou before he left, and now she could only silently pray he would come back home safely. Matsuri knew that Sari missed Gaara's brother just as much as she missed Gaara. She missed the redhead - everything about him - so much that it was killing her, and she wondered if he missed her, too. Usually, the girls would talk about it so the conversation would ease their anxiety... but not this time. There was no comfort for them, and talking about their loved ones would only rub salt into the wound, so they remained silent. Nobody knew the tears they shed at night, and the pain they carried in their hearts. Day by day, they waited.
It had been fourteen days since Gaara left when the first gossips started running rampant, and people began to whisper about legions of dead ninjas, who were brought to this world by Akatsuki, and made fight their former comrades. At first, it seemed too unbelievable to Matsuri. She couldn't quite imagine the power recquired to call back hundreds, or maybe even thousands of long since dead people, whose bodies must have been long rotten and turned to dust. However, the rumours didn't stop spreading like the fire in the woods. Day by day, the picture they were creating grew more and more horrible and daunting, and Matsuri often found herself waking up in the middle of the night, crying from fear. In her nightmares, the swarm of zombies was destroying Sunagakure, killing her friends, and annihilating everything she held dear.
Those nights, she sat on the window-sill and watched the night sky, silently calling out to him through the space. Naturally, he couldn't hear her, but it made her feel a bit better. Just a little bit... because he was still alive. He wasn't wounded, and he didn't fall yet. Such news would be announced immediately so Matsuri knew that he was alive, and nothing else mattered.
He was alive.
It had been twenty five days since he left, when several disabled ninjas returned home. Their injuries were healed by the medics from Medical Division but even the greatest healer couldn't make cut limbs grow back. The disabled ninjas wouldn't contribute to the war effort unless they would be formidable strategists or medics so they were sent home. The long journey from Kaminari no Kuni to Kaze no Kuni didn't lift their moods, and when they finally arrived, the stories they were telling about the enemy were definitely not what Suna needed at those tough times. Baki tried to shut them up but a few days later another two Suna ninjas appeared at the village's gates. Those were hit by an unknown irreversible technique, which no one from Medical Division could counter. At the prospect of an inevitable death, the wounded ninjas asked the headquarters for permission to return home and, if they would be lucky enough, die with their families by their side. The permission was granted, and now they came back to the village, bringing some names that were not listed before, Pakura included. The message was a shock to the council and the villagers, since many of them had come to know Pakura before she was betrayed and murdered by Kiri. An overwhelming fear began to seep into the hearts of the people of Suna even if the Alliance seemed to handle the enemy quite well. But still, the news Matsuri feared the most did not come, which meant the Kazekage was still alive.
And then, a week later, they brought the dead from the battlefield for the first time.
The despair reigned over the village, followed by anger. Many ninjas, who were told to stay in the village, wanted to join the Alliance army on the battlefield, replacing their dead comrades. Baki was furious, and threatened to punish them severely if they disobeyed Kazekage's orders, but they kept boiling over. After a few days, Matsuri couldn't endure their tedious discussions any longer. She yelled at them, and the words her heart chose were rather embarrassing, but the ninjas finally stopped whining, and it was all that mattered.
Matsuri could understand them so well since she wanted to fight, too. But she remembered what Gaara had said when she complained. You won't be just sitting around and doing nothing. And they weren't. No one could say they were bored or inactive. Of course, it didn't stop them from worrying about their friends and relatives fighting against Akatsuki, but Matsuri finally realized - and she hoped everyone realized it, too - that there were no greater or lesser tasks in this war. Those who were fighting on the battlefield needed to be certain that their homes would stay unharmed, and their loved ones would be safe. Only then they could fight without fear. And the task of protecting the homeland was appointed to those who stayed behind.
The realization considerably decreased Matsuri's impatience but it didn't ease her fear of Gaara's death. She wondered how he was doing, and how her friends were doing. Darui had become quite a puppeteer but he was still a chuunin, and he still had a long way to go as a ninja. Yakku went to the war, either, but she tried not to think about him. There was no reconciliation of any kind with him before he left, and she regretted it a little. If, by any case, he would die, he wouldn't know that she forgave him for what he did to her. Naturally, she was still wary about him. She wanted to know if he planned to continue on his attempts to ruin her relationship with Gaara, or he had just given up after his recent fail.
Oddly enough, several days later she heard the familiar voice in the hospital. Appalled, she froze in her steps, and listened carefully, even if she knew she couldn't be mistaken. It was Yakku's voice, weak and trembling with agony, answering the medic's questions. The girl approached them reluctantly, not knowing what to do. Another two medics passed by her, and hurried behind the screen. The one who was inquiring Yakku went out, scanning his notebook with a frown. Raising his eyes briefly, he spotted Matsuri lurking behind the screen, and waved at her.
"Matsuri-san, you're going to help," he commanded, and she opened her mouth to protest. "This is emergency," he said, before she was even able to speak. "Whatever you were going to do, has to wait until we're finished with this."
Since Matsuri wasn't ordered to do any emergency treatment, she couldn't deny the request, at least not without telling a sound reason. Slowly, she joined the medics gathered by Yakku's bed. At first, she didn't see the boy's face, because Sekka was leaning over him, his genius hands glowing with a green light, as he moved them up and down the patient's body. When Matsuri stepped closer, Sekka glanced at her over his shoulder.
"Matsuri, you're going to assisst me." Before she could react, he continued giving orders. "Abiru, take the blood sample to the laboratory. Tsuchino, go to Ebizou-sama, and kindly ask him for the permission to enter his library. We need everything you can find on techniques causing incessant bloodloss, immediate treatment of the victim, and countertechniques."
The medics hurried away, and Sekka shifted aside, so Matsuri could finally see Yakku's face. He was very pale, to the point of his skin taking on the greenish tint. His expression was serene, and his eyes seemed to be unbearably weary, when he blinked, focusing his gaze on his former friend.
"Hello, Matsuri," he croaked in a weak voice, and Sekka growled under his breath.
"Quiet," he ordered, not looking at the boy's face. "Matsuri, concentrate on the heart, the SAN in particular."
The kunoichi put her palms on Yakku's chest, immediately.
"Do not try to stabilise the rate," Sekka warned. "But don't let it drop further, either."
She nodded, swallowing, and focused on forcing the chakra into her hands, while Yakku drew in the long, shaky breath.
"Matsuri, they say I'm dying," he said, earning another glare from the medic. "And I want you... to know—"
"Quiet!" Sekka hissed, placing his palms on Yakku's stomach. "Lie still!"
"I have to... sort this out... before I'll... go."
"We're doing anything possible to not let you go," Matsuri assured but Yakku only rolled his eyes. It seemed even this small movement took a lot of strength from him, because he rested in silence for a few minutes before he spoke again.
"Matsuri... listen... I lasted this long... to tell you... that I know... that I was... wrong."
"Stop talking, now!" the medic commanded, apparently losing his patience.
"I can't," Yakku whispered. "Matsuri, please... forgive me..."
"Don't think about it, now," she pleaded. "It'll only make you feel worse."
"What I had done... to you... was awful... but now... I understand..." he whispered, his voice even quieter than before. "He's a... great shinobi... Amazing... I wish you could... have heard... his speech... to the allied forces—"
"Yakku, stop talking!" Matsuri interrupted. She didn't want to speak about Gaara, especially not with Yakku, not even mentioning Sekka who was listening to their every word. It was too embarrassing, and hurtful, too.
"I know... why you chose... him... I admit... I was wrong... about him..."
"This can't go on," Sekka said to Matsuri. "You have to leave. Ask Tomari or Sari to come and assisst me. We also need a medicine to counter the effects of the draught, which forced the bone marrow to produce more erythrocytes."
"No!" Yakku raised his head, and collapsed on the pillow, gasping. "I can't... die—" he coughed heavily, as his every breath seemed to tear his lungs apart.
"You're not going to die, young man! You have to live and tell the Kazekage himself that you were wrong about him," Sekka said a bit harshly but Yakku didn't seem to register his words.
"Matsuri..." he went on. "I'm so... sorry..."
"That's okay," she said in a low voice, leaning forward and stroking his forehead. "It's all right, now. Rest. We'll talk about it later."
Yakku closed his eyes, and relaxed a bit.
"Are you... happy... with him?"
Matsuri didn't reply at once, biting her lip. She didn't have much practice as a rookie medic nin, let alone the skills, but she learnt already that sometimes people knew that they were going to die. If that was the case, she had to stop insisting and let Yakku speak so he could find peace before he would go.
Her friend opened his eyes, obviously trying to read her expression to find out why she didn't speak.
"Yes," she answered at last, as the tears welled in her eyes. "I am."
Yakku's eyelids slid down again, and he sighed heavily.
"You know... I thought... it would hurt... if you would... admit... that he makes you... happy... But... it doesn't... hurt... anymore..."
"Good to hear," Matsuri replied, smiling weakly. "Now, please, just rest and let us help you."
"I'm glad... you want to... save me... but I've seen... too many deaths... to be oblivious..." He wheezed and coughed again, the thin trickle of blood slowly streaking down his chin. "I'm... dying... That was... pretty wicked... technique..."
"You can't die!" Matsuri protested, terrified. "You made it this far!"
The faint smirk curved the corners of his mouth.
"So... you care... about me?"
"You silly, of course I do!" she sniffled. "I always have."
Before he could reply, several skilled medics joined Sekka in his attempts to save the boy's life. They had sent Matsuri home, and she had no chance to talk with her friend again. She was restless, worrying Yakku would die before she could see him again, but she knew medics wouldn't let them have a private conversation unless Yakku's condition was stable. Given that even the medics from the Medical Division couldn't help him, there was actually not much hope he would survive.
The next day, Matsuri woke up early, and hurried to the hospital, only to find out that she was right. Yakku didn't survive the night; the combined effect of the technique, and the draught some medic from Kawa no Kuni had administered to him before the boy got to Suna, were too much for his weakened body. They didn't know if his strength had finally dropped to the point where he simply gave up, or something happened to him that decreased his will to live. Of course, Matsuri instantly thought the conversation with her took away Yakku's life, and she felt so guilty. Now, apart from the enormous grief, she also had to bear with the nagging sense of guilt. She was frightened by how hard she cried at the funeral. She refused to think what her reaction would be if it was Gaara. She pushed away those thoughts, put a mental barrier around them, and pretended they never existed in the first place. Yakku's death was horrible enough and Gaara... Gaara was still alive.
She repeated it in her head as if some kind of mantra.
Gaara was still alive.
It had been forty six days since he left, when the messenger hawk brought the most welcome message: The Alliance defeated the enemy. At first, people seemed to be disbelieving, or maybe even reluctant to accept the news. The victory meant there would be even more wounded to look after, and even more dead to be buried, and people had enough of suffering. However, the victory is not something one could simply ignore, so after a few days they began celebrating. For Matsuri, there was no reason to celebrate, yet. The one she was waiting for still didn't come back, and she was more impatient than ever, climbing the cliffs each and every day, and looking at the eastern horizon for as long as she could. One day in the morning, she noticed the distant figures, small at first, but growing bigger and bigger with every minute. The girl's heart almost leapt from her chest while she stared at the familiar flak jackets and turbans, her eyes watering and stinging from strain. Unfortunately, she couldn't spot the distinctive red hair anywhere, and the fear clawed at her chest, forcing the breath out of it. Close to fainting, she jumped off the cliff, and joined the crowd, which had already gathered at the gates. When the approaching army got closer, Matsuri was certain that Gaara wasn't amongst them. As the Kazekage, he would have walked at the very front, but she couldn't see him anywhere. His siblings weren't there, either, and the girl wondered what held them back.
The next moment, the uproar people caused became barely bearable. Parents and children, couples and friends, all of them began crying, calling and squealing with happiness, or grief. Matsuri stood In the middle of the pandemonium, her mind blank, and her hands cold. The initial disappointment faded away quickly, leaving only emptiness in her heart, when she looked around, her gaze blurry. Suddenly, someone came to a halt next to her, and called her name. The kunoichi frowned, realizing she knew that voice, even if it wasn't the voice she wanted to hear the most.
"Darui," she uttered indifferently, and he hugged her to his chest in return. Surprised, Matsuri embraced him gingerly, listening to his voice whispering to her ear.
"Matsuri, you have no idea... I'm— It's so good to see you, so good to see you!" he rambled. "And Sari, where is she? I want to— No, I don't even— Suppose I should see Sana first... Oh, Matsuri!"
With those words, he leant backwards, and Matsuri could finally see his eyes, veiled with tears. Those were haunted eyes; the horrors Darui had just experienced were still written in them, and all his emotions were flayed open for her to see.
She grabbed his hands, and squeezed them with all her might.
"I love you, too, Darui," she said with an angelic smile, and he sniffled quietly, blinking to force the tears back. "Now, go and see Sana. She's on duty at the moment; you will find her at the Kazekage Tower's entrance."
Darui stared at her, apparently confused, and she pushed him towards the gate.
"Go!" she repeated. "We'll see each other later, and you will tell us everything. Now, go!"
Without further delay, he turned around, and ran towards the gate. After a few steps, he stopped, and turned around again.
"He had to stay in Kumo for a few days more but he'll be here soon!" Darui exclaimed. "Wait for him, will you?"
Matsuri gasped, pressing her palms against her chest, and nodded. She was ready to wait in this very spot, literally, unless Gaara wouldn't come, but she realized it wasn't a good idea. Biting her lower lip, she dragged herself towards the cliffs, wondering what it was what made Gaara stay in Kumo when all the troops marched away already. Was there a kind of farewell party? A special celebration for the victors? Whatever it was, she hated it deeply, since it prolonged the painful separation for another week, or so.
She had to wait for another five days and two hours until someone stormed into the hospital, carrying the most welcome message. Matsuri was treating a patient at the moment, and her hands started trembling immediately. The shinobi whom she was treating smiled weakly when he saw her reaction.
"Easy, girl," he muttered. "Don't worry about me. I'm fine."
The kunoichi blinked, astonished. Furrowing, she tried to link the patient's comment, and her actual emotional reaction. Gradually, she realized he probably thought she was nervous about treating because she thought she could do something wrong. Faking a smile, she prayed for someone to come so she could ask them to take her place. When Sari came running, with an enormous beam plastered to her face, Matsuri was on the verge of tears already. Abiru was following Sari but he didn't look content at all.
"I want to go there, too," he lamented. "Why should I stay here?"
The next moment, something apparently clicked in the patient's brain.
"Aren't you Kazekage's girlfriend?" he asked, and three young medics snapped their gazes at him. Matsuri blushed madly, and nodded in silence. "Then go!" he encouraged, gesturing towards the exit. "You must have missed him a lot, haven't you?"
Abiru glared at Matsuri, and sat down with a sigh.
"Thank you," she said at last, her voice faint. Behind her, Sari was shifting impatiently, and it didn't help Matsuri to keep her calm when she explained Abiru what she was doing earlier. When she was done, Sari caught her hand, and the girls dashed out as if they grew wings. Many people had also heard the news so the streets were rather busy. Matsuri and Sari started pushing through but it didn't took long when they had enough. They weren't ninjas for nothing so they swiftly climbed the nearest wall. Soon, they reached the gates, and went out, squeezing each other's sweaty hands. Matsuri's heart was hammering like crazy when she stared at the eastern horizon, recognizing familiar figures in the distance. The first thing she could distinguish was Temari's giant fan, the next - Gaara's red hair. The sobs began to rise within Matsuri's chest, and she pressed her fingers against her mouth. From the corner of her eye she could notice that Sari did exactly the same thing. The small group crossing the desert was getting closer and closer, and it lasted hours.
Matsuri's entire body shivered with impatience; unconsciously, she made a step forward, then another, but it was still not enough. The distance between them was still so enormous that she couldn't bear it any longer. Without even realizing it, she began to walk but soon she was running, her feet continuously getting stuck in the loose sand. Stumbling and gasping for air, she ran, her eyes focused on Gaara. People behind her were saying something, laughing and commenting, but it seemed to her as if those voices were only a distant buzzing. They meant nothing.
She could see that his skin wore the marks of a fight for the first time. His flak jacket was torn, his sandals worn, but it didn't matter at all. He came back to her, just like he promised.
Alive and victorious.
Suddenly, the sand under her feet hardened, and it felt as if she was running down the village's road. The change was unexpected, and made her trip, but she regained her balance quickly. Beaming, she dashed forward again, while the crowd far behind her followed her example. Gaara quickened his pace, either, coming to a halt only a minute before Matsuri threw herself in his arms.
Laughing and crying, sniffing and whispering, she clung to him as if she fought for her dear life. The embrace was tight, almost desperate, but it was still not tight enough for those two who simply wanted to melt into each other. However, it didn't took them long before they stepped away from each other, holding their hands, and finally looking into each other's eyes.
The sight made Matsuri gasp from shock. She blinked, wondering if it was only her or there actually was something different about Gaara's eyes.
She knew those eyes. She could read the sea-foam orbs almost as well as she could read her own. And now, what she had just seen utterly confused her, because something was gone from them. Something that had been there from the very first time she saw him was gone, and Matsuri could see it even clearer when he leant in to kiss her.
The kiss tasted bitter like tears, and sweet like the dream coming true. Somewhere far, far away from the couple someone whistled at the sight, and someone chuckled, but they couldn't care less, while they stood in the middle of the desert, moving their hands up and down each other's body as if uncertain if it was for real. Matsuri stepped back first; she savoured the kiss, and didn't want to break it, but on the other hand she simply had to see Gaara's eyes again.
The redhead grabbed her waist and lifted her, the shadow of a first honest smile lurking just behind his usual calm expression. His face was spotted with Matsuri's tears when he turned around a few times before he put her onto the ground again, wiping the shining streaks from her face while she stared into his eyes, amazed.
They were always kind of blank, except of those rare moments when he let them reflect his soul. But now, they were alive, in a way that seized her completely.
Gaara seemed to register her immense shock at last, since he blinked, and froze in his movements. Matsuri shook her head quickly, her own onyx orbs unable to avert from his even for a moment, contemplating, searching, looking for an answer why the war, which had inflicted so many wounds on bodies and souls of other people, didn't have the same effect on Gaara. Actually, it was the opposite, and Matsuri gasped when the realization dawned on her.
The agony, which completely disappeared from his eyes, could only mean one thing: That his soul was healed at last. Matsuri didn't have the slightest idea how or why it happened but the truth of it was undeniable, and it increased the happiness beyond all imagination. The war was won, and the enemy defeated. They were about to celebrate the victory with the ones they loved, but when the small, gentle smile finally found its way to Gaara's lips, Matsuri thought that there could never be more important, and greater victory than that.
A/N. Yes, it's the last chapter! This was how it was planned from the very beginning. I planned this story almost a year ago, and I'm so proud with myself I managed to finish it xD Thank you very much for comments, favs and follows! And I'm so grateful to my wonderful betareaders: Annabella Colt, Katakiari, and Ranchii! :* You're great! Thank you for your patience to put up with my English! ^^'
Naturally, I have already started planning another multi-chaptered story :D I made the poll to know, which one of two plots you would like to see developed first, and majority of the people voted on 'fake girl theme' xD However, I'm going to write the second one. Why, you ask? Well, there are a few reasons. I feel more like it, simple as that. I've been writing romance for a year, you know. Apart from that, there are the reviews ^^' Most of them is like "oh great chapter can't wait to read the next one" so I decided I'm not obliged by the poll result. Sorry^^' And, finally, DivineHearts brought to my attention that there is a large shortage of non-romantic Gaara stories, recently. "It would be nice to have a change of pace in genre," she said, and I agree with her completely!
So, "The Longest Road"'s prologue will be submitted on September 5th. Why this day? See the date when the first chapter of "Alive And Victorious" was posted! xD