Summary: It was the most surreal of circumstances, really, to wake up next to a man well-known for his insomnia. Even more surreal, she would discover, were his reasons for remaining unmoved all night.
Short Note: I woke up with this idea one day and though, "What a great drabble for GaaSaku month!" This turned out way longer than expected, as usual. Happy Birthday Gaara!
By Socially Suicidal
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto
There are some things that one expects but turn out to be completely, radically, and sometimes even painfully different from that previous expectation.
Haruno Sakura found herself facing two of such things. These specific things, in her case, were meticulously categorized and defined - in the fashion that was one of her many trademarks no doubt - as the loud thrum of ache splitting the base of her skull and the vision-spotting dehydration to which she awoke, all while she was bathed in the warm, orange rays of the mid-morning sun.
She supposed the dictionary term for such a turn of expectations was underestimation.
Feeling the self-pitying urge to groan at her dismal state, but knowing the combined effort and noise would only intensify her dire straits, Sakura cursed herself and cursed the moment she had given into Naruto when he begged her to come out and celebrate the Kazekage's birthday. She cursed the apathy with which she had regarded the knowledge of the misery that would result as she had weaseled herself into taking drinking bets with all of the damn shinobi in Leaf, and even a few of the visiting Sand dignitaries and shinobi if her fuzzy memory served her, at the bar last night.
She found herself unable to even recall if she had won.
Sakura cracked open an eye only to shut it quickly as the light that filtered in through her half-drawn curtains assaulted the sensitive cornea. Attempting to roll from her stomach onto her back unsuccessfully as the base of her skull was pierced with a sharp stabbing pain, Sakura decided that she probably had won. She better have had won.
Taking a deep, fortifying breath into the fabric of her pillowcase, the pinkette lifted her left arm from where it had been strewn over the side of her bed and stretched awkwardly until her palm was flat against the back of her neck. Her chakra took a moment longer than it should to be summoned into her hand, but after a few excruciating moments she had dulled the torture to a dull ache. Perhaps it was something in her that felt she deserved the pain for acting so recklessly and indulgently the night before that kept her from eradicating it completely.
With that major distraction gone, she took a softer breath and dropped her arm to her side, letting her eyes flutter open once more. Ah, much better. She was already calculating how to cure the parchment of her throat when she noticed her arms were bear. This was normal, she usually wore tank tops to bed and doubled up on blankets to be sure that she could rid herself of the covers if she was warm or snuggle beneath them if temperatures dropped, ever the diligent and prepared woman she prided herself to be. The realization that disturbed her was that her shoulders were bare, as well.
Sakura shifted within the recesses of her soft, white sheets and experienced sensations that informed her already alerted senses to the fact that all of her was bare.
The realization that perhaps she had acted far more recklessly and indulgently than she had originally thought came hand in hand with the soft sound of a throat being quietly cleared from her right.
If such a thing was possible, Sakura was sure she could feel the blood draining from her face. She was now all too aware that the edges of her sheets lay across the small of her back, leaving the entirety of her upper body exposed to those pseudo-comforting rays washing over her bed. Pushing herself onto her forearms slowly, careful to keep the exposed front of her body concealed against the mattress, she turned to face the other occupant of her bed of whom she had so obliviously been unaware.
Sakura immediately tried to quell her initial panic, but as her heart began violently pounding blood throughout her body, she found the effort nearly futile.
There lay none other than Sabaku no Gaara, the Sand's esteemed and respected Kage, his corded pale arms folded in a deceptively relaxed manner behind his head despite the absolute rigidity held in the rest of his exposed upper body. His signature black-rimmed jade gaze was directed down at her, intimidating and powerful as the first day she met him, albeit more docile and softer than in those blood tainted days of his early youth. The dryness of her mouth could now be attributed to something a far cry from a hangover.
Swallowing thickly, the pinkette was hard-pressed to maintain his gaze but did so, for some reason feeling as if the effort was more worthwhile than succumbing to the alternative and looking away. Her eyes darted quickly across his body – the exposed plain of his chest that melted into his torso until her white sheet obstructed her further view of his pale skin, the edge lackadaisically strewn just over his hips. Promptly, she redirected her eyes back to his face.
Despite the increase of softness in his eyes - Sakura inwardly scoffed at that particular notion now that she was encountered with it - she couldn't decide if the expression in those jade – sea-foam, perhaps, from this light – depths was in fact the scorn she believed she saw. If it was, she was unsure if it was reprove over her ability as a kunoichi, or lack thereof, in her unawareness of his presence for so long or of her as a woman for finding herself in bed with a man she hardly knew.
Or she could have been completely wrong about the entire thing and the blank look with which he regarded her was just that - blank.
Gaara wasn't known to be a man easily read, of that much she was certain, and his reputation preceded him. It was not to say the shinobi lying silently next to her was a stranger, a far cry considering how she had been a major part of the faction that had saved his life all those years ago, but he was also hardly a familiar entity. To Naruto, perhaps, the normally contemplative and diplomatic shinobi was something like a comrade, more like a friend with which he shared a similar past, but that familiarity was never extended to her passed the exchange of pleasantries and short political small talk during their encounters, few and far between, over the years since his rescue.
She recalled, a bit ironically in hindsight, greeting him and his siblings during the early hours at the bar last night, warmly wishing him a happy birthday and exchanging a few words about the trip they had made from Sand. The trip truly hit the trifecta of practicality as it served as a vacation for the over-worked Kage, a time during which he could enjoy a relaxing celebration of his twenty fifth birthday, and a chance to discuss matters of trade with the Hokage during the times of peace both villages were currently enjoying. Gaara had expressed mild reluctance in leaving his village under the jurisdiction of his councilmen, but his sister elbowing him with a laugh made it clear just who had facilitated his taking a vacation.
Now a man fully submerged in the power and quiet confidence that came with his status and position, Gaara and his sure to be newly warped opinion of her caused a twist of her gut, despite a jolt of indignation that wanted to believe she didn't give a single shit if he now thought lowly of her. Logically, she knew that was not the case as her current situation made not only her but her village look bad in front of the leader of one of their closest allies. If Tsunade found out - oh Kami, if Naruto and Kakashi found out, especially considering the positively withering look of disappointment she would surely receive from her former sensei - and she squeezed her eyes shut, willing that train of thought to dissipate completely, before opening them again to find that the redhead's expression had shifted to something perhaps closer to curiosity.
"You're awake," his hoarse, deep voice startled her as he spoke in his flat tone. She was unsure if his statement of the obvious referred to her physical state of being conscious or if he had thought she had been attempting to discern whether she was dreaming or not. Perhaps she had been mistaken in thinking it was curiosity entirely.
Her lips parted but as she found no immediate intelligent reply, they shut promptly. There was no need to state what had obviously occurred between the two of them, to do so would be pointless and perhaps even an insult to both of their intelligences – they had both indulged in too much alcohol the night before and had somehow, in their mindless intoxication, ended up beneath her sheets. Sakura hadn't even been aware the Kazekage had been drinking. Regardless of their state of sobriety, they were consenting adults and Sakura refused to act as if they were anything but.
"I-," she began in a squeak, before shaking her head and beginning a new path, "Why are you still here?" Sakura finally asked bluntly, astonishment, not accusation, evident in her tone. Even with her limited knowledge of the etiquette of such situations, she was sure it was customary not to stick around to see the repercussions of drunken one night stands in the morning, especially when such a thing occurred with whom it had occurred.
Gaara shrugged minutely, a jerk of his tense shoulders, redirecting his intense gaze to the ceiling. She wasn't sure if he did so to avoid her gaze for whatever answer he planned to give – if he planned to give one at all – or because he decided she was unbecoming to continue looking at. It was a moment before his quiet voice gave a simple answer, "I am unable to find my pants."
She found herself stunned speechless for a brief moment before a fit of laughter bubbled from her chest and she began giggling hysterically, pressing her face into the pillow to muffle her mirth. Such successfully kept her from seeing the skin between the redhead's brow crinkle as he scowled and shifted his now at least slightly irate gaze back down to her.
"I'm sorry," she laughed, turning her cheek as she wiped her visible eye, attempting to get a hold of herself. The entire situation was just too bizarre for her not to react in one of two very extreme ways. Perhaps having a near psychotic break in front of one of the most powerful shinobi in existence in the form of a giggle fit - at his expense - was not the wisest of things for a kunoichi to do, but some still functioning logical side of her brain told her it was better than breaking down into a fit of hysterical tears of embarrassment and self-hate.
"I fail to see the humor," he muttered darkly. The alcohol must not have burned completely from her system because she could have sworn he was pouting. A very intimidating, powerful pout, but a pout nonetheless. Perhaps it could be that the Kazekage was not one to enjoy being the brunt of a joke?
Finding her mind surprisingly clear compared to the chaotic mess it was in mere moments ago, no doubt a result of her laughter induced near meltdown, the kunoichi found herself contrite, "I'm sorry," she repeated sincerely, worrying her lip between her teeth. The kunoichi didn't fail to notice as his eyes flickered toward her mouth for the briefest of moments and wondered immediately if actions like that had aided in creating the situation they found themselves in. Sakura pointedly ignored the heat flushing across her cheeks, "I meant no insult by my reaction. It's just not every day you wake up next to the Kazekage," she paused for a moment and her brow furrowed, feeling herself dangerously close to rambling but unable to stop just the same, "Well, perhaps it is for you, considering, well, you are the Kazekage so…" she trailed off, the urge to put her head through a wall never greater.
Sakura also wasn't sure if she was the only one that heard, "It's not every day you wake up to the face of an ex-mass murdering psychopathic bloodthirsty sadist who not only had killed countless people but had also tried to kill you and your closest friends" instead of "the Kazekage."
Even if she had thought herself adept at doing so, Sakura didn't even try to label the expression with which he now was staring at her. Fantastic, now he thinks not only am I a whore, but a crazy whore.
"But you know who you are," she continued quickly, lamley changing the subject back to the matter at hand, "Er, I wonder where your pants are." As if he hadn't probably spent the last eight hours wondering the same thing himself.
She caught him off guard again and his eyes shifted back toward the ceiling. Gaara twitched in what may have been a shake of his head, the movement so slight as to only cause a minute swaying of his long, dark red spikes across his forehead. She duly noted his hair had grown much longer since she last saw him.
Sakura wondered if averting his eyes was the same for him as nervous laughter and rambling was for her. She hadn't considered how he may have felt when he woke up to find himself in the bed of a foreign kunoichi. At that thought, Sakura paused as she amended her thoughts.
"You still don't sleep, even now," She said, and if it was a question, it certainly did not sound like one nor did it prompt an answer – or any kind of response, for that matter – from the taciturn shinobi next to her, "How do you sleep off alcohol when you don't sleep?" She mused aloud.
Either the combination of the early morning light framing his pale features and the hangover she had be unable to forget despite her ordeal was causing her eyes to play tricks on her or the stoic, unreadable Kazekage smirked for the briefest of moments before replying, "Some handle their liquor better than others, kunoichi."
It was probably the combination of what he had implied about her ability, or lack thereof, to handle her alcohol and his less than respectful addressing of her that sparked enough indignation for her to tense and spit out an impulsive rebuttal, "You damn well know my name, if my memory serves it's the only thing you knew how to say a few hours ago."
The moment the words slipped out of her mouth, her green eyes widened as she cursed her stupidity for the umpteenth time since she regained consciousness. This time, Sakura managed to overcome the bubble of nervous – terrified? – laughter that tried to come up. He shouldn't be able to make her feel so intimidated in her own damn bed, without even saying a word.
Gaara hadn't moved yet, if anything, he had tensed impossibly more and she had begun to wonder how his muscles weren't shaking with the effort to remain that still. He suddenly sat up and stared down at her. She had to crane her neck to keep their gaze locked from over her shoulder.
His eyes narrowed as he scrutinized her. She realized belatedly what she must have looked like – waking up with a killer hangover after a long night of drinking and, well, evidently, other rambunctious activities with not even a chance to attempt to tame the mess of pink around her head – and was thankful that, from this position, his body shielded her from much of the luminescence that would have revealed further her haggard appearance. "You remember that much?" he asked quietly, the harsh, stern expression of his face somehow neglecting to reach his soft, rasping voice.
When it was clear to him she didn't follow his train of thought, he amended flatly, "You remember me saying your name," Gaara wasn't sure if the dark blush that trampled across her visage amused or annoyed him before he demanded, "Recall where we left my pants." His authoritative tone was not lost on her, but it did successfully instigate her.
She scoffed, "we," he said it as if he really meant you, but continued quickly upon seeing the unimpressed jade gaze pinning her down, "Why can't you – seeing as how some handle their liquor better than others?" She quoted, smirking smugly as she used his words against him.
His lips set in a thin line and he swallowed noticeably – or was she just watching him too closely? – and his voice was almost so low she didn't catch it, "I suppose I was preoccupied."
Sakura couldn't decide if she was filled with more embarrassment or unfamiliar feminine pride at his disclosure. She figured equal parts both.
(She also couldn't remember the last time she had been so unsure of so many things in such a short period of time. She supposed it was the effect of being in the presence of the laconic redheaded Kage. But that was here nor there, at this point.)
Neither feelings, embarrassment or pride, justified not at least attempting to help him. How could this be any more awkward, anyway? They were both relatively unfamiliar with this type of circumstance – she figured he was, anyway, although she had a few doubts of his unfamiliarity considering certain memories that slowly were filtering in from a few hours before – and both evidently quite uncomfortable. The only thing that had kept her from springing from her bed was her state of undress. Although the kunoichi couldn't see herself feeling any better about the whole thing even after his physical presence was gone from her house, she conceded that the only way to get out of the immediate discomfort was to aid him in locating his misplaced article.
"Erm, I'll go look for them," she offered and his gaze slid back down to her wordlessly. Sakura pushed herself onto her knees; her pillow tightly clutched against her chest and sat up next to him, slightly taller than him kneeling. He didn't seem to plan on looking away any time soon. "Could you um, maybe close your eyes?" She requested quietly, knowing she was being illogical, obviously he had already seen everything there was to be seen. Unsurprisingly, the thought did nothing to cool the raging heat on her face.
He grunted slightly, surprisingly and thankfully not commenting, and slowly closed his eyes. Letting out a breath she hadn't been aware she was holding, Sakura slid off of her bed and picked up the first articles she found on the floor – her black panties and a white undershirt she figured must have been his. Wordlessly, she glanced back at him, still sitting in her bed with his black rimmed eyes closed, and turned to walk out of her room. The only indication that he moved was the soft sound of the blankets rustling from behind her.
The kunoichi padded lightly down her hallway, checking the living room briefly to find no hint of his missing article and continuing into her foyer, finding the same results. Frowning, she absently wandered into her kitchen, shocked when she spotted a black mass of fabric strewn in a heap on the floor. She smirked as she picked it up, bemused. Why the hell were they in the kitchen?
She paused before returning to her room, leaning against the counter as she contemplated the strange place she had found them in. The small of her back hitting the cold stone of her counter jolted a memory, a memory of being clumsily pushed against it and gasping as she had reached to grab the first thing to come into her grip and had yanked just a bit too hard with her inhuman strength. Well, at least that explains it, she thought wryly.
"They were in the kitch-" the kunoichi began as she entered her room, stopping suddenly when met with the entirely naked form of the Kazekage staring back at her emotionlessly from where he stood next to her bed.
"G-agh…Kazekage- Lord Kazekage!" Sakura sputtered, averting her eyes and clenching them tightly shut at the entirely too pleasant image before her.
She didn't hear him move, but when he spoke in that infuriatingly deep, quiet voice of his, it was from much closer than where he had been before, "I think it was made quite evident that you know my name as well, Sakura." A moment of silence before he continued much more quietly, almost like an afterthought, "Nothing you haven't already seen."
Did much more than see, her mind's voice quipped lightly before she opened her eyes and turned to stare up at his face again. "You really didn't leave because of these?" She asked, her voice quiet but somehow felt like yelling compared to his hoarser, deeper one, as she held up his respective lost item, careful to hold it to her side as to not brush against him.
His eyes flickered down to her hand before his unreadable gaze met hers again, "Yes," he replied earnestly, "besides," he continued before she could even question the disappointment beginning to curl in her stomach, "seeing as this was, how you put it, 'the craziest thing' you have ever done, how could I resist being around to watch your reaction when you awoke to the aftermath?"
Gaara's expression hadn't even minutely shifted as her jaw felt slackened and eyes went wide. She ignored the heat racing up her neck as something she probably should have been used to by now. Had she really said that, to him of all people? Of course that's something I would say. The pinkette thought irately. Her teeth clenched, embarrassment fueling the anger needed to snap back with a retort just as jarring as his own casual comment, "Are you sure I said thing and not person?"
She hadn't even seen him shift and her back was hitting the wall as the fabric of his pants slipped from her fingers upon impact and fell to a pool on the floor as he stalked predatorily over her, scowl contaminating his previously stoic features. Sakura wondered vaguely if perhaps antagonizing the powerful shinobi before her wasn't exactly the wisest course of action. The thought was promptly snuffed out as she considered all of the other even less wise decisions she had made in the last twelve or so hours and they easily trumped getting on his nerves.
An ironic smile curved her lips before his mouth had a chance to push roughly against hers, as she was sure it was going to in some odd, male way of proving just how willing she would be to succumb to a "crazy" man, and it made him pause for only a moment. Add a little alcohol and a little less intentional goading on both of their parts and this exact moment could very well be the moment that had gotten them into this trouble in the first place.
As the Sand shinobi's mouth descended onto hers, she could only think how truly these were the most surreal of circumstances.