Naruto tries to seduce Gaara...
When Gaara opens the door to his office, fifty naked girls greet him in chirpy unison. "Good morning, Kazekage-sama!"
Gaara blinks, and shuts the door.
Then he raises a hand and lets chakra flow to his fingers and curls them just so. Tsuki of his personal guard – the swirling inked red vines over the right half of his mask a deep red today, Gaara notes – appears by his side. "Kazekage-sama?"
"Open the door."
The young man is suddenly tense. "Hai." He looks up to his left and makes a sharp gesture, and another masked guard materializes by his side – Omi with the black rose on the mask, unfurling over his cheekbone. With his partner ready at his side, Tsuki palms a kunai and in one quick motion yanks the door open.
"Good morning, Kazekage-sama and friends!"
Tsuki gapes. Omi stares. Gaara reaches out and delicately closes the door again.
Well. Not his imagination then. Regarding his bewildered guards with a hint of amusement in green eyes, he nods at them solemnly. "Thank you. You may now leave."
"But what – that's – there might be – Kazekage-sama! Are you sure?"
Gaara's gaze sharpens in the way all who know him well have come to recognize as his way of raising an eyebrow. An evil smirky eyebrow. "You are welcome to investigate this threat on my behalf, then," he says almost sweetly, and opens the door to push a stunned Tsuki inside.
"Good morning, Kazekage-sama's friend!"
The door shuts yet again on fifty cherubic voices. Omi stares at his Kage, who gazes back beatifically.
Tsuki bursts through the door a heartbeat later, and even his ears are red. Gaara thinks that sometimes having younger guards, if only because the older generation is still wary of him, has its advantages. Stress relief, for one.
Omi backs away at the look in the other guard's eyes, shaking his head frantically, but he doesn't get far. With something that sounds suspiciously like a growl, Tsuki grabs his partner's hand and they vanish in a puff of smoke, Omi's yelp trailing in the air:
"But we're on guard duty and we just did it last night…!"
This is quite possibly too much information.
Mentally shrugging, Gaara opens the door for the fourth and hopefully last time, and steps in to a chorus of:
"Good morning, Kazekage-sama!"
He nods calmly at the crowd batting its eyelashes at him. "Good morning, Naruto."
"Damn, Gaara, you're really no fun at all."
The fifty identical pouts are too much for even the Kazekage, and he closes his eyes briefly with a wince. "I gave you my guard to play with. It is your fault that you let him get away. Now please change back, this is vile."
When the resulting smoke clears, fifty naked, male Naruto bunshins purr at him, slowly advancing forward. "Good morning, Gaara-chaaan."
Gaara's eyes go wide. His fingers twitch.
A mudslide of sand knocks all the blonds off their feet, and Gaara turns his back on the noisily drowning bunshins. The sand pulls back around the door, and he opens it for the very definitely last time of the day, walking out calmly and very definitely not thinking about his sudden desire for a harem. Or possibly a cold shower.
The sand closes the door for him from the inside of the room, and even the loudest sound now seems far away. Gaara thinks that he feels like having omelette for breakfast, and wanders off.
When, hours later, Tsuki and Omi finally turn back up to relieve their replacements, Gaara very carefully does not notice Omi's slight limp and inability to sit down, or his partner's very satisfied air. Instead he assigns them to head to the mess that is his office, to help his two secretaries salvage the paperwork, and retreats back into his private study.
He spends the afternoon finalising and tidying his notes for the annual trilateral meeting the next day between Suna, Konoha and Iwa, the main shinobi villages of the three Great Five countries that are politically most powerful and also geographically closest, sharing the same borders and continent. When dusk falls, he stops work to get his dinner from the kitchens – the price of his privacy is the need to carry out some menial tasks personally, but then he was never one to feel comfortable being waited on hand and foot – and is back outside his rooms in a few minutes.
A few steps away from the door, he pauses. There is light coming from underneath the door. Why is there light coming from underneath the door?
He is still staring when it swings open. "Ah, dinner," Naruto says happily, bouncing up to him. "I'm so hungry I could eat you, Shukaku and grit and all." The tray disappears from Gaara's hands and reappears in the blond's in a movement almost too fast to see. "You have great timing, Gaara, I just finished my shower…"
In Gaara's head the words rearrange themselves and sound like this: "Hello, Gaara, I arrived in Suna early because I was hungry and wanted to eatyou. You have great timing, I just finished my showerso it'll be perfectly obvious that I have nothing on under my dangerously low-slung towel which frames my inviting hipbones and is going to frame other bits soon because it looks like it's going to fall off at any moment. Oh, and I haven't dried off properly, so you can follow the trailing droplets of water with your eyes as they glitter all over my skin and slide down… lower."
"– so you don't mind do you? It's okay, right?"
"Yes," Gaara says, even though he knows the possibility of the question he's answering being 'Is it alright if I drop this farce of a covering and jump you right now?' is very low indeed.
Naruto beams. "Great!" he cheers as Gaara plays back the conversation. Irritating guards… overly uncomfortable spacious guest rooms…
"Now Neji can't keep complaining that I don't take enough care with my safety if you're there to kill… hey! Where're you going?" Naruto demands as Gaara turns around and begins walking back the way he came.
"I agreed for you to stay in my rooms," the redhead says calmly over his shoulder, not pausing in his footsteps. "There is no clause saying that I must be in them as well."
"But – Gaara! That defeats the entire purpose!" Naruto wails from the doorway.
"Enjoy my dinner," is Gaara's only reply as he turns the corner.
He hears his door slam shut, cutting off loud cursing, at the same time that he sees Temari head out of her own apartment, saying something to someone inside. She catches sight of him mid-sentence and squeaks, quickly shutting the door. "Uh – Gaara! Going to get dinner?"
"I have already done so."
"Oh. Well then –"
"I am doing so again."
Confusion replaces the flustered panic. "Are you feeling alright?" she asks worriedly, and a little warily. "No hallucinations, things going boom –"
"Tell Shikamaru that the Hokage has relocated to my rooms," Gaara says, ignoring her and the resulting red she turns. "I believe his guards do not know of this, or they would not have allowed it."
"Ah, right," Temari says weakly. "Does that mean you –"
"I will occupy other quarters until this meeting is over."
"Okay. Right. I'll tell the staff, after… I'll tell them."
Gaara eyes her, and then decides to take pity on her and not question further. He remembers a thought he'd had minutes ago, and says abruptly, "You were right."
Temari blinks. "About?"
"Hormones. And the repercussions of suppression."
The horrified, slightly glazed-over look on his sister's face as she desperately tries to erase the images from her mind makes Gaara feel slightly better. He smirks a little to himself and moves on. Behind him a door opens and he hears Shikamaru's voice: "Temari? Are you okay?"
"Maybe you'd better come inside and lie down. Come on… this way… geez, you are one troublesome woman."
There is a small pang of regret, and a voice screaming t him to get back to your rooms right now! but Gaara ignores both. His and Naruto's friendship is solid, and he will not ruin the best thing he has in his life with inappropriate thoughts, no matter how persistent.
No, he is strong. He is the Kazekage with nerves of iron! Lots of iron, because of all the blood he's absorbed in his sand. His defences are impenetrable! Hormones are underneath him! His resolve is as sharp as a naked blade of steel!
He becomes aware of a certain trend in his mental vocabulary, and hastily stops that train of thought.
At three in the morning, Gaara stirs. He checks the clock and notes that he's managed close to two hours of sleep – an improvement from the one hour of five years ago, and he's come a long way since his childhood's complete insomnia.
He has Naruto to thank, and, remembering, he smiles slightly. For Naruto to come to him with a jutsu to calm the demon in him, only four days after becoming the Hokage, meant that the blond had to have hit the classified collection of scrolls that only the Hokage could access within hours of his ascension, particularly if considering that the original jutsu had to be modified.
His memory is interrupted by movement – faint, barely traceable, but his sand is spread all around in and outside the room and Gaara frowns. The intruder is very skilled. He stills, sinks into a deep meditative calm so as to not alert the intruder to his own alert state, and waits.
The door opens. The door shuts.
The sand explodes into the air, wrapping the intruder securely, pinning him to the wall. Only then does Gaara sit up, reaching over to turn on the lamp by his bed, wondering why the intruder's making no noise at all, or even trying to struggle.
The warm light sinks into blond spikes of hair and illuminates a pair of narrowed blue eyes pointedly giving him a Look.
The sand dissolves, and Naruto crosses his arms and glares. "Isn't your sand supposed to recognize friends and not attack them?" he accuses in a loud whisper.
"It has no eyes," Gaara replies dryly. "It senses people by chakra, and since you have hidden yours…"
"Oh, yeah, forgot I did that so that the guys couldn't sense me sneaking out." Naruto considers this, and then drops his arms and beams. "It worked!" he says smugly.
Gaara just gives him a blank stare. "Your guards are going to age prematurely."
Naruto sticks his tongue out at him. Suddenly Gaara realizes what Naruto is wearing – or, more accurately, not wearing. He is, in fact, not wearing anything but a pair of soft, clinging pyjama pants, baring his very toned upper body to the light and not leaving much to the imagination regarding his very nice pair of legs, either.
Nerves of iron! Iron!
Gaara takes a deep breath and doesn't know what will happen to Naruto when he lets it out, but they are saved by the door bursting open. Omi knows enough to stay out of the room so the sand won't engulf him, only rise to hover protectively, and he calls from the doorway, "Kazekage-sama! The Hokage is missing, and we have to take defensive – measures – oh."
He stares at a half-naked Naruto. Naruto stares back.
"He's in there, isn't he?" comes Shikamaru's drawl. The Leaf-nin peers over Omi's shoulder and sighs when his gaze lands on Naruto. "Geez, you're more trouble than you're worth. Lee's wailing about how he's failed as your guard and Neji's going to strangle either him or you in the next five minutes, you know. And you," he says to Omi, "I told you there was no need to panic, didn't I? If you hadn't rushed off, I'd have told you that the Hokage's probably here."
"But – but why is he here?" Omi demands.
"Good question." Shikamaru looks blandly at Naruto. "Well?"
The blond opens his mouth. He shuts his mouth. Then he turns hopefully to Gaara.
"I would like to hear this, too," Gaara says placidly. "It should be interesting."
Naruto pouts. "Traitor," he accuses.
Gaara's retort is pre-empted by Omi's choking gurgle. Shikamaru hits him helpfully on the back, and when his eyes stop bulging, he manages to splutter, "Kazekage-sama – you and the – the Hokage –"
Shikamaru covers his face with a hand and mutters something unintelligible. Gaara's eyes widen. Naruto blinks rapidly. "Uh…"
"Don't be silly, Omi," a new voice interrupts, sounding amused. "Akiko's been trying to get into his bed for years, she's not going to lose to anyone now, not even the Hokage." Tsuki wraps an arm around an about-to-pass-out-at-his-lover's-disrespect Omi, and says into the stunned silence, "Good luck to you, though, Hokage-sama," before tugging Omi away.
Even Shikamaru is at a loss for words. Naruto has turned to stone.
Surprisingly, it is Gaara who finally breaks the awkward tension. "So she does not actually go around half-naked all the time in the rest of Suna, really," he says thoughtfully. "I wondered about that."
With a war cry, Naruto leaps on top of Gaara and shoves his face into the stunned redhead's. "Misleader of women!" he howls. "What have you done to my pure and innocent psychopath, you – rampaging pervert of perverts!"
Gaara, being the pure and innocent deprived psychopath that he is, reacts to the lips a thought away from his own and the body (half-naked!) pressed into his in the only way he knows how.
A blast of sand carries Naruto up and away, sweeping him into Shikamaru and sweeping Shikamaru up as well. The momentum sends them out into the hallway where, Gaara sense, it dumps them ungraciously in a heap before retreating back into the apartment.
Almost as an afterthought, it politely shuts the door in their faces.
Gaara sends the returned sand to seal and soundproof the room, and then lies back down and turns on his side. He ignores the faint outraged yells filtering through the sand barrier, and decides that he might just try that sleeping thing again. Not-thinking sounds very good right about now.
Especially when it comes with not-seeing the images trying to replay themselves in his mind.
The clock chirps the seven-o'clock alarm, and Gaara, who is already awake, turns it off and gets up. He spends the necessary time in the bathroom, and emerges ready to face the day.
Or so he thought.
Not five seconds after Gaara drops the barrier around his room to let some morning sun in, Naruto dives head-first through his window, yelling, "Off with the clothes!"
Gaara, in the act of reaching to take his Kage robes out, freezes with his arm in mid-air.
Naruto bounces to his feet and gives him a great big grin. "I convinced the Tsuchikage to drop the formal robes and all because it's too damn hot," he announces, and now Gaara has this image of the aging Tsuchikage doing a striptease for Naruto, and, oh, he can feel his mental stability slipping away.
Oblivious to the trauma he's inflicted on his friend, the Hokage rambles on. "It's too hot for my normal clothes, even, so I just threw on shorts and a sleeveless. Hope you don't mind."
Gaara takes in the extremely cut-off cut-offs, and the tight-fitting shirt, and suddenly the Tsuchikage vanishes from the strip-tease equation, to be replaced by –
– a mental image of himself keeling over frothing at the mouth. Oh, the horrors of imagination.
Gaara shudders, and thinks longingly of the good old days when all he thought of was blood. Oh, and dead people. Deciding that he needs to get away now, he reaches out again for his robes – and promptly gets his hand smacked away.
Holding the injured hand in question, he glares at Naruto half-heartedly, making sure to keep his glare above the neck. "Now what?" he growls.
"You can't wear robes! I just told you, the dress code's informal. You have to wear an outfit like mine," Naruto says firmly.
"That," Gaara says succinctly, "is not informal. That is indecent."
"Really?" Naruto looks down at himself thoughtfully. "You know, maybe you're right. I don't feel like going all the way back to change, though, so – lend me some clothes, will you?"
And to Gaara's horror, he grabs the hem of his shirt and starts lifting.
In that one instant, Gaara realizes that he's out of options. He refuses to go near the blond, and touching him to stop him is unthinkable. He can't run out of the room, because that's cowardly and, really, just plain suspicious. The same goes for ordering Naruto to stop. He can turn around, but that's just extremely temporary because the room is not that big and he's next to the cupboard with the clothes that Naruto wants to borrow, and he's not sure at all anyway that his willpower is strong enough to keep his body turned away.
So he does the only thing he can think of. His fingers curl to form a shape –
"You called, Kazekage-sama?"
Naruto's yelp causes Tsuki to turn around from bowing to his Kazekage in time to see the blond yanking his shirt back down. The look in Tsuki's eyes as he turns back around says plainly, I'm not going to ask, I'm really not going to ask, and I don't want to know.
Almost crying with relief (only internally, of course) Gaara nods to his guard. "Please transport the Hokage to his rooms to change."
"Transport or escort?"
"Transport. He does not… feel like making the trip," Gaara adds with a little vindictive satisfaction.
"Gaara…" The scowl is obvious in Naruto's voice.
"I am smaller than you. My clothes will not fit." He gives Tsuki a Look, hidden from Naruto's sight by his guard's frame, that fairly screams get him out of here now! and Tsuki receives the message perfectly. He turns and grabs Naruto's wrist in a too-fast movement. Gaara has just enough time to see Naruto's eyes widen, and his mouth open – and then they are gone.
Gaara pulls out random items of clothing and dresses for his life. Naruto might come back, after all. When he's done and there's no sign of The Return of the Blond, he breathes a sigh of relief and escapes to the kitchen.
He really hopes Naruto changes before the meeting, or he might just end up signing Suna over to Konoha or some such just because the blond pouted, or stretched, or –
With some despair, Gaara wonders if it's possible to conduct a Kage meeting blindfolded.
Gaara is making a mental list. It is a list that is growing at astounding speed, demanding attention that should by rights be put on the documents before him and the droning of the Tsuchikage's assistant as he reads off a pre-prepared stack of documents.
The list is titled, 'Why Konoha Keeps Getting Really Good Deals Out Of Kage Meetings In Which Naruto Takes Part'. It goes like this:
1. Naruto squirms.
2. Naruto squirms in a really distracting, rhythmic movement centred around his hips.
3. Naruto squirms with a faint blush on his cheeks, although this might just be because of the heat (Gaara suspects otherwise).
4. Naruto makes the occasional helpless little noise in the back of his throat, ostensibly because of boredom (Gaara suspects otherwise here, too).
5. Naruto bites his lips to keep from interrupting tedious, never-ending speeches, and they end up plump and red. His lips, not the speeches.
6. Naruto's skin looks artfully oiled to highlight every shift of lean muscle under smooth skin. Of course, this might be just the sweat due to the heat (Gaara really is a suspicious bastard, though).
7. Naruto plays footsie. Okay, so this might be limited to Gaara himself because he cannot imagine Naruto running his toes against some other Kage's calf (KILL! KILL!), and the blond has done that to him out of boredom before, but against his thigh is going a bit too far.
8. Naruto pouts. This has been liberally used before and so Gaara's built up some resistance to it already, but combined with everything else in his newly acquired repertoire…
At this point, to Gaara's tremendous relief, the Tsuchikage's assistant finishes. Gaara considers the strangely weighted silence that follows, and feels the rage rising. He clears his throat very deliberately. All eyes suddenly tear themselves away from Naruto's loose-limbed form to look guiltily at him.
Once again, Gaara's belief that Naruto is much more cunning than he lets on is confirmed. Despite the Tsuchikage's age, and the fact that his assistant was seemingly looking at his documents (perhaps he is skilled at multitasking or has an extra pair of eyes, Gaara wouldn't put it past him), the guilt is plain to see on their faces even though the glaze.
Gaara is not happy.
Sand hisses. Faces suddenly lose colour.
There is a confused silence. Then Lee, always brave and never subtle, says, "No… what? Kazekage-sama," he adds quickly.
"Everything… what? Uh, Kazekage-sama."
Gaara's eye twitches. The people around the table lean away from him. It would have been more discreet if they hadn't all done it at the same time.
"Everything. From the increased border patrols to the trade concessions. No."
His meaning finally dawning on the room, the Tsuchikage's multitasking assistant blurts, "You can't do that!"
Gaara is kind enough to have his sand consume the glass of the window before the man sails past the place where the glass used to be. His shriek dwindles.
Even the Tsuchikage is frozen, and Naruto's gaping. There is not a sound, except for the mournful whistling of the wind outside. It's hard to tell with the masks, but Gaara's pretty sure Neji is smirking.
Temari tries to salvage the situation. "Gaara, you know it's not very diplomatic to reject the Tsuchikage's proposals before –"
"All the pretty words actually mean he wants more men and money from us even though we and Konoha already provide the majority of those in issues concerning border security," Gaara says very precisely. "Just because I do not speak much does not mean I am stupid. Speaking is overrated. Diplomacy is overrated. If we spoke plainly and shortly the world would be a happier place."
If Naruto can act like that to get what he wants, then Gaara sees no reason why he can't speak like he wants to, in order to get his point across.
"There'd be more wars," Omi points out without thinking. He's on visible duty today, one of the four Sand guards standing around the room. "Lots of dead people and all that."
Gaara doesn't even blink. "Like I said."
"This meeting is over." Gaara turns to move out of the room.
"We have not heard from you yet." Naruto's voice is clear in the horrified silence. "Nor have we had our say." The words are formal, but the tone is slightly petulant, like a child deprived of a toy.
Gaara doesn't look back for fear of what he will see. "We will continue tomorrow. I will send messengers to inform you of the new venue."
"New venue? But –"
"The window here is broken." Not that the window's of any concern, but Gaara has plans. No one will see bits of Naruto if he can help it – including himself. The amount of temptation he's had to withstand so far would have earned him sainthood if he'd been normal; as it is, it should already more than redeem his past misdeeds.
Kankurou makes one last attempt. "Gaara, it's still early –"
"I am going to the Barren Valley."
"– so you should take as much time as you need to relax, we'll take care of everything, not to worry, take your time," Kankurou finishes without missing a beat, but Gaara can see from the corner of his eyes that his brother's eyes are a little too wide. "You have a good time, now. Don't rush yourself. Really don't rush yourself."
Gaara spares a moment to give his brother a Look, before striding – not escaping – out of the room. The murmur of protest rises as he opens the door, but it subsides as he closes it on Temari's voice saying, "I wouldn't stop him if I were you, that valley used to be a mountain range…"
He does eventually head to the Valley, the place he used to go when he lost control and felt like destroying all that was around him, but before that he summons a few Sand-nin and gives them certain orders.
The best defence, after all, is a good offense.
In the middle of his dinner, hidden away in his rooms with very definite orders to his guards to do everything in their power to keep the Hokage in his rooms, and failing that to give their Kazekage early warning if the Hokage escapes, Gaara becomes aware of a figure leaning against the doorframe to his right, with the air of a posed model. He keeps his eyes on the scroll he's reading as he eats.
"Go away, Naruto," he says calmly. He doesn't want to look, he doesn't want to look…
"It's Akiko, Kazekage-sama, here to serve you in… any… way."
Now Gaara really doesn't want to look. "I am busy, Akiko. Please leave."
"But Kazekage-sama, I'm here to report to you on the project you assigned this afternoon."
He'd assigned…? Oh, yes, Akiko is in Jirou's team. He should have remembered. There is nothing for it now, though. "Report then."
Akiko sashays further into the room – there is no other word for the way she moves. "We'll need to recruit others to increase the pool of chakra, but otherwise the groundwork's laid out –"
"Good." It's slightly rude, but his guards are used to his abruptness anyway, so he interrupts her without much hesitation and no guilt at all. "I appreciate the effort. Now –"
"Don't you want to know who we're planning to recruit?"
"I have faith in the capabilities of your team. Please convey my appreciation to your teammates."
There is a flirty little laugh. "Oh, Kazekage-sama! Your appreciation? Really? It's nice to know that you… appreciate me. And my team, of course." The last is added as an afterthought.
Gaara reminds himself that Akiko is a very competent kunoichi, one of the best; she has to be, to have made it to the second tier of guards, beneath only Gaara's personal team. Sometimes he has trouble remembering this and why it would be a bad idea to squash her, though. "Yes, your team has my appreciation. Now, I would appreciate it if you would return to your work and leave me to return to mine."
Sometimes Gaara wonders if his increased verbosity has to do with the fact that Akiko, and Rie before her, tend to misinterpret orders unless they are worded very closely and bluntly. He'd learned from the Rie Days, though – not too blunt, for the imaginative capacity of scorned women (especially if they are kunoichi) bent on 'If I Can't Have Him, No One Can!' revenge is a terrible thing.
Though, after the fact, Gaara learned from Kankurou that 'You're annoying and shameless and your clothing does not suit your figure at all' generally does not go down well with even the most level-headed of women. It certainly served to decrease the number of not-so-subtle hinting looks from the kunoichi around Gaara, at any rate, something that Gaara is grateful for, even if he still cringes when people mention in hushed voices Hell's Fury Wednesday.
He surfaces from painful recollections in time to see, surprisingly, Akiko take a step back. "Very well, Kazekage-sama. I'll take my leave – oooops."
That last bit is because, somehow, in the middle of her bow (her very low bow, incidentally showing off her cleavage to ample perfection, not that Gaara cares) the kunoichi managed to trip on absolutely nothing (maybe she overbalanced because of the quite likely unnatural weight in her front, but Gaara thinks that this is probably not the reason) and is now in the process of falling forward.
Into Gaara's lap.
In dawning horror, the redhead watches in slow motion as she falls. His sand, firmly in place as an anti-Naruto barrier, is too far away to catch her in time; his own cross-legged position does not allow him to get up and run away. Gaara closes his eyes and braces himself for the impact –
For the impact –
For the –
Is that muffled squealing he hears?
He opens his eyes.
"You'd rather let this – this – this, into your room, than me?" Naruto demands hotly, jabbing a finger at a trussed-up, gagged Akiko unceremoniously dumped on the floor. "Look at what she's wearing! Look at what she's not wearing!"
Akiko manages to work the hasty gag from her mouth. "Speak for yourself!" she shrieks.
For once Gaara agrees with her. At least, he would have agreed with her if his mental facilities could do more than gibber, but the sentiment is there. Naruto is wearing cut-off mini-shorts again, shorts that ride low on his hips…
And nothing else.
And since Naruto is facing Akiko and partly away from Gaara, the redhead has an almost perfect view of the perfect butt in those shorts, just begging to be groped and squeezed and bitten.
What's left of Gaara's mind is grateful that Naruto's back is not fully turned and so the view is not a complete one, because if it was then it would have been the point of no return for Gaara and ripping his fellow Kage's only piece of clothing from him in front of witnesses is not an advisable move.
"It's for stealth purposes, I had a hell of a time escaping," Naruto is snapping at Akiko, hands on slim hips, drawing attention to lickable hipbones.
On one hand, this is good, because it distracts Gaara from Naruto's behind. On the other hand, this is very very bad, because it merely gives him a choice of targets if his fraying control snaps.
"Then why didn't you just stay in your room! And why did you have to come here!" Akiko is practically howling back.
Naruto opens his mouth, and it stays open. No words come out.
"See! You can't answer that, you… you… shameless little… thing!"
There is a moment of suspense, in anticipation of a catfight. Then Naruto snaps his jaw shut and smiles slowly, evilly. Gaara and Akiko hold their breaths for what appears to be the ultimate trump card.
"Because I'm the Hokage," Naruto says silkily. "And unless you want to upset the diplomatic ties between Suna and Konoha, you had better get out now."
Gaara almost applauds, only he can't decide which is the lesser evil – the blond or the skank. Actually, come to think of it, the two terms are not mutually exclusive.
There isn't much the kunoichi can say to that, of course, so after an incredibly venomous glare, she mumbles her apologies and good-byes, and hops her way out the door. Naruto's smug grin never leaves her figure until he can slam the door behind her, and then he turns to flash a victory sign at Gaara.
The pose is wasted, however, seeing that Gaara's eyes are tightly shut to protect what's left of his sanity. "Naruto," he says calmly (or as calmly as possible at the moment anyway, which is perhaps more hysterical than calm), "Why are you here?"
Naruto pouts, but gives it up when Gaara's eyes remain tightly closed. "Can't I visit a friend who's feeling a little unwell?"
"Thank you for your concern, I am perfectly fine, please go away now."
"You're obviously not fine! Look, you can't even open your eyes! Are they that sensitive to light? Does it hurt? Come on, stop working – I'll turn off the lights, let's get you into bed right now."
Gaara knows that Naruto is not stupid. He cannot really believe that Gaara is unwell, can he? Gaara finally lets himself acknowledge the fact that, yes, Naruto's behaviour so far is probably not his normal behaviour and is also probably (definitely) aimed at him in particular... with sex as the likely end goal.
And Gaara wants nothing more than to give in.
But he can't.
Not because he does not want to ruin their friendship – though that is a consideration – and not because they are both Kages (distance is no barrier to either of them, and shinobi villages tend to be very open minded about these sorts of things, because all jounins are relatively insane and nothing can faze villagers used to encountering jounin on a daily basis). Not because he does not want to take his relationship with Naruto further, because that is actually what he wants, what he dreams of.
No, it is because he does not want to be a replacement for Uchiha Sasuke.
Sasuke, who Naruto just broke up with.
Gaara knows these things about Naruto, even if Naruto does not seem to know these things about him (Akiko, Rie), because all of his shinobi who visit Konoha are under orders to report back on the Hokage, amongst whatever other duties they are there to carry out.
It pains him to think that Naruto would try to use him in this way.
But he is used to such feelings, and so he pushes them easily away as he has always done.
"Naruto," he says ominously, still refusing to open his eyes. "Your dressing is extremely inappropriate for anything outside your own private rooms. Think of what your village would say if they knew that their Hokage was running around in a state of undress."
"Um… they'd say, 'good for you, Hokage-sama!' and then take their cue from me?"
An image of 'Konoha, the Almost-Nudist Village' parades itself before Gaara's eyes. The words pop out of his mouth before he can stop them, probably due to the horrifying image having stunned his brain:
"Your village will be overflowing with tourists."
There is a pause as Naruto tries to work out his line of thought. Then there is a choking sound. "Oh my god," Naruto says faintly. "Gaara… your mind works in mysterious ways."
Gaara ignores the trace of awe in Naruto's words, because frankly, that is just disturbing. "Naruto," he says, letting his impatience show, "I have a lot of work left to do. Will you please leave?"
"Do you really want me to?" Naruto's voice is half-coy, half-serious.
No, I don't, I want you to stay! "Yes," Gaara says firmly, as the rest of him calls his mouth traitor.
"Alright." Naruto sounds resigned, but a touch of determination makes itself known as he adds, "I'll leave you to work… for now."
"Thank you." Gaara keeps his voice pleasant. "I will see you tomorrow."
"Yeah, alright." Naruto's presence moves towards the door, and then pauses. "Try to get more sleep, okay? You have years of sleep deprivation to catch up on."
Gaara feels his heart warm. This is why he cannot get mad at Naruto. He opens his eyes, and this time the lust that surges at the sight of his friend cannot overpower the affection, and he smiles. "I will try."
Naruto gives him a quick grin, and then ducks out of the room. Gaara feels a sense of loss, but then again, he always feels that way without Naruto's presence beside him.
With a sigh, Gaara turns back to his work. He really does have quite a bit of it to get through, and normally the stubborn and serious streak in him will not let him rest until he finishes it all, but he thinks that it will not hurt to leave some of it for the next day, for once.
He promised Naruto to try to sleep more, after all.
To be continued...
Ashen | "Off with the clothes!"