The Akatsuki's Daughter

Chapter 17


We had just gotten our food when I heard a voice that I didn't recognize calling out for Gaara.

So I wasn't surprised when I didn't recognize the person that was running towards us, his arm waving frantically, his face split by a large grin. What did surprise me however was the boys appearance. The tight jumpsuit and bowl cut weren't something that I would have seen from the people that visited Aubry's, though it was the massive eyebrows that caused my hands to twitch to find a pair of tweezers and slim down the caterpillar sized mess.

The boy spoke to Gaara almost as animatedly as Naruto had been earlier in the evening and I didn't try to listen, happy that Gaara had such a good friend, but not exactly caring about what they were talking about. Since I wasn't paying close attention to them, I noticed the girl that made her way through the crowd and came to stand beside the boy, grabbing his hand possessively

The green boy smiled at her and quickly introduced her, including me in the conversation suddenly.

"This is my girlfriend Megan. Megan this is the Kazekage Gaara and Ria."

I blinked at him, wondering how he knew my name, Gaara not having been able to even interrupt the boy before to introduce me. I was sure that I would have remembered the face, if not his name, had I even seen him at a glance.

The boy continued after introducing us to the girl, remembering where he had left off in his story and causing me to sigh silently. Gaara was still holding his food, not having even had a bite and I knew that it would be cold by the time that he got to eat it. I hadn't been as polite, eating my own meal while having been ignored earlier.

I decided suddenly that the next time Gaara wanted to go on an outing, that I would request somewhere secluded. Like a deserted island. Though with our luck, someone would pass by and believe that we were lost and try to help us get back to civilization. Stupid, overly-helpful people.

I was still inwardly ranting when I was suddenly shaken by the shoulder and I shot a startled look towards Gaara, finding him looking at me concerned before he even spoke. I noticed almost instantly that the green guy had left at some point.

"You weren't answering. I've called your name twice now."

I smiled sheepishly, apologizing quickly.

"I'm sorry. I was....well basically I was having a pity party, so I wasn't listening. Sorry. Did I miss anything?"

He shook his head and tugged me to the side so that we were out of the path of the passing people. It just seemed to be getting more crowded by the minute.

"No, Lee just wanted to talk to me. I haven't seen him in a while, and any other time it would have been nice to see him, though right now I really didn't want to talk to anyone."

I smiled and nodded, agreeing with him even though I didn't say it out loud.

"So that's the green guys name? Lee?"

Gaara smiled lopsidedly

"Green guy, huh? Well, I'll have to tell him that he definitely leaves an impression."

I snorted and crossed my arms over my chest.

"Well, yeah. He looks like a vintage exercise instructor with big eyebrows."

I saw Gaara's body shake as he silently laughed and I had to pat his back as he choked on the bite of food that he had just taken. His face was completely red by the time that he had gotten control of himself, smiling at me largely

"Yap. I'll definitely have to tell Lee about your thoughts...But not tonight."

He looked around frantically.

"For now, lets just get out of here before someone else starts trying to talk to us."

He grabbed my hand and retraced our steps back towards the building, both of us craving the silence of the abandoned roof.

The building was in sight when I saw a flash of familiar pink and suddenly pulled Gaara into some shadows, Sakura walking past us, a black haired boy at her side, his arms shoved in his pockets and a familiar pair of black eyes looking down at her, a slight smirk on his otherwise emotionless face. Even without being told, those eyes had given him away as an Uchiha and I could only think of one that Sakura would be walking so close to.

I looked up at Gaara as they turned a corner, disappearing from sight and giving us the opportunity to hurry towards the building again undisturbed.

"That was Sasuke, wasn't it?"

He nodded, his mouth turning down in a small frown.

" Yeah. How did you figure that out?"

I shrugged and gave him a small smile.

"He resembles Weasel a bit. The hair is different and his face isn't as creased with worry, but the eyes and the noses are the same. Even if I didn't know that they were brothers, I would have known that they were related.''

I smirked up at him suddenly.

"Both Sakura and Sasuke looked happy to be alone, so we probably shouldn't disturb them. You know, to ask them where Naruto and the others are and meet up with them like we were supposed to do?"

Gaara smirked, catching on faster than I could have hoped for.

"You're right. They did look too happy to disturb. So let's go to a higher place. It would be easier to find everyone that way...if we wanted to."

I laughed, delighted that he was playing along with my silly game and Gaara swung me back into his arms, pausing as I took Butterball from his shoulder and hurried us back on to the roof.

Gaara set me down gently this time, instead of pulling me into his lap, and I placed the squirming Butterball on the ground, frowning slightly when I stood back up and found that Gaara was watching me intently. He made me a bit nervous when he would do that.

"What is it?"

He shook his head and hugged me to him suddenly.

"Nothing. I was just thinking that you look very pretty tonight. One of the prettiest girls at the festival tonight."

I buried my face in his chest, feeling my cheeks flush, though even through my embarrassment I noticed how cheesy that line had sounded and wondered where he had gotten such a lame, if sweet, line.

It took me a moment to calm my blush and decide to change the mood a bit, teasing him lightly as I pulled back and smiled up at him.

"Only one of them? And here I thought that once I was dolled up, I could beat all of them in a beauty pageant. Guess I'll have to settle for winning congeniality."

He snorted and rolled his eyes, leaning his head closer to mine, his eyes serious underneath the amusement.

"You are the prettiest girl in my world. There is no comparison.''

My faded blush came back full force and I almost screeched in embarrassment, his words this time not sounding cheesy at all and making me unable to make light of them.

He seemed to notice my sudden inability to speak and smiled, making me feel as if I had just lost some game that I hadn't been aware that we were playing and I was opening my mouth to ask him about it when his mouth slanted across mine in a sudden kiss, causing me to sigh and forget about my questions.

Since it wasn't likely that we would be interrupted, the kiss was slow, Gaara pulling me closer to him with his arms wrapped around my waist, his thumbs rubbing calming circles against my back as my arms wrapped around his neck, lifting myself higher.

It was too soon that we had to break apart to breathe, both of us gasping in air and I gave him a goofy grin before he lowered his head to kiss down my neck, causing me to laugh as he found cloth instead of skin. He grumbled as his fingers fumbled at the ribbons that held the neckline closed and I saw his triumphant smile before he began to kiss at my now bare neck and shoulder. He was following the line of the fabric, his mouth tracing the edge lightly, and it took me a moment to realize what was happening through the fog in my brain, his mouth touching the skin of my chest and causing me to start and jump back in surprise.

I saw the confusion at his empty arms before hurt filled his gaze and he stumbled back away from me, swallowing hard as he looked over my face before he suddenly turned away from me, walking towards the ledge of the building to stare down at the people below us. I watched him for a moment, trying to fix my now wrinkled Yukata and failing at it, simply deciding to leave it be for the moment, glad for the under dress that had come with it, making the gaping fabric far less indecent than it would have been had I decided to not wear it.

I walked towards the still silent boy, placing my hands and face against his back, speaking softly when he didn't move.

"I'm not going to apologize for stopping you. I'm really not ready for that intimate of things yet. Though I am sorry that my sudden pulling away from you hurt you. I didn't mean for it to."

I nuzzled into his back for a moment and felt him relax, a moment later I leaned back as he turned around, his arms pulling me back into his chest and allowing me to rest against him, his voice apologetic.

"I only thought that you were pushing me away for less than a second. Then I realized what was happening, why you had pulled away and I was more upset with myself. I...I really don't know what happened. It was like my body had a mind of it's own and knew what it wanted to do. All I had wanted to do was kiss you, and then in the next moment I was far below your mouth. I am so sorry, Ria. I really didn't mean for that to happen."

He shook his head, seeming to be a bit bewildered at his own actions and I smiled ironically.

"I had thought that you would know more subconsciously than you thought you did and I think that I was just proven right. Your instincts seem to make up for your lack of experience."

He shook his head and gave me a small smile.

"I don't know. But it's nice to not have to worry about messing up and doing something the wrong way."

I rolled my eyes and saw his smile change to a knowing smirk as he touched a spot where he had kissed. I was sure that there was a red mark and that it was starting to swell. I was also sure that if Mona saw it that I would get teased some more. But for tonight I was positive that she would be too busy with her own guy problems to worry about some small marks on my skin.

I was brought out of my thoughts by the feel of Gaara's hand suddenly lying against my chest where my heart was beating, his expression curious.

I saw him smile brightly before he grasped my hand with his free one and placed it onto his heart, causing me to tilt my head as I tried to understand what he was trying to show me.

It took me a moment, but then I grinned at him, understanding his sudden delight.

"Our heartbeats match."

He nodded happily and I let him keep my hand against his chest for a few minutes, noticing that he was about to speak, though he didn't get the chance, something choosing that moment to explode behind us.

We both jumped and I whimpered as I saw the bright lights that followed the noise, quickly hiding my face in Gaara's chest and tried to ignore the different colored explosions. I hadn't realized that there was going to be fireworks during this celebration.

Gaara's arms went around me tightly and I felt his fingers running over my back soothingly. I could tell that he was curious as to why I was shaking like a cold chihuahua, but at the moment I couldn't explain. The explosions were too loud.

As they started to show off more, shooting off several firework simultaneously, I covered my ears and pressed my face more into Gaara's chest, failing to block out the lights and sounds. I felt him stagger from the unexpected pressure but he soon regained his balance and hugged me tighter. He was trying his best to comfort me but I still couldn't stop the sob that ripped it's way from my throat.

My shaking had started when the explosions began, but as my crying had gotten worse, so did the trembling. I heard a whistling firework and my knees tried to fall out from under me. Gaara held me up, his hands making strange movements against my back and I suddenly felt something blocking the air around me, silence surrounding me instead of the loud explosions.

When the air finally whistled around me again, I simply stood still for a moment, trying to force my frightened brain to function and realized that we weren't on the roof anymore. The shifting substance under my feet had to be sand and I slowly pried my face away from Gaara's chest to look at my new surroundings.

Gaara had transported us somehow to a sandy cliff on the outskirts of Suna. One where I could still see the colorful lights that were the being shot off in the village, but I couldn't hear the explosions. I could already feel some of the tension that had wound through my body disappear and leave me feeling slightly dizzy.

I glanced up at Gaara, almost wincing as I saw his worried expression.

I quickly wiped at the tears that were still flowing from my eyes and tried to give him a smile as he placed a hand on my cheek, wiping away the falling liquid with his thumb. I trying to force myself to stop crying but a sob suddenly escaped my throat at his touch.

I quickly pressed my fist to my mouth, trying to prevent any other unexpected sounds and heard him sigh as he slowly lowered the both of us to the ground, setting me on his lap and beginning to rock me gently as he stroked my hair calmingly.

I shot a glare into the night, my tears still falling and making me more upset with myself. I was a mature, self-reliant young lady. And here I was acting like a 6 year old. Crying in a persons lap as they tried to comfort me.

Except when I tried to calm myself and force my tears back, I wound up just crying harder.

I finally gave up, too tired to fight anymore, and just let my tears finish falling. I could only hope that they would stop sooner rather than later.

I counted the minutes that past, becoming more irritated by the second and sighed in a mixture of relief and distaste when after fifteen minutes, my tears finally finished falling and dried on my cheeks. It took several breaths after that to calm my unsteady breathing enough that I could pull away from Gaara and look up at him in embarrassment

His expression was concerned as he stared down at me. But once he saw that I was calm, a portion of that concern lifted and he searched my face carefully before asking the question that I knew must have been bugging him since I had started bawling.

"Why did you start crying when the fireworks started?"

I bit hard on my cheek, not wanting to tell him. I had been taught to never reveal being afraid to anyone and I didn't want to admit to this particular weakness anyways, finding it a bit embarrassing. But Gaara deserved an explanation, as much as I didn't want to give it. He had spent most of what other people thought to be the best part of a celebration holding and trying to comfort me. So, despite my feelings and upbringing, I had to tell him.

I took a deep breath and looked off into the distance, refusing to see his expression as I explained.

"I told you that when I was little that Dolly saved me from being killed. But I don't think that I ever said anything about what he didn't save. As far as I know, I'm the only one to survive that night.

There really weren't many people in the village since most had fled away from the attacks. So there was no one around to put out the fires that eventually destroyed all of the homes and valley."

I stopped for a second to take another deep breath before holding out my hand and allowing a small flame to appear on my index finger.

"Fires themselves don't scare me. But they didn't just set the houses on fire, they used bombs to destroy a lot of things first. I can't stand the noises of bombs, or the memories that come with them. They cause me to do exactly what you just had to witness me doing. And I discovered a long time ago that fireworks sound too similar to bombs for my mind to distinguish the difference. So to avoid falling into a panic, I try to avoid them.''

I closed my hand into a fist,and the small flame disappeared as I ended my explanation

We sat in silence for a moment, the darkness around us becoming thicker, though the lights in the distance still exploded brightly. I wondered how many fireworks they were planning on shooting off.

Gaara suddenly sighed, drawing me out of my thoughts as he pulled me closer to him, his voice resigned.

"I wish you would have told me about all of this earlier. I would have discouraged them from having any fireworks."

I shook my head instantly.

"I don't want anyone missing out because of me. Most people enjoy Fireworks. And the colors and patterns are very pretty."

I looked at him and found him frowning.

"Then we could have left before they set the first ones off. I was the one that had to approve the schedule for them tonight. So I knew exactly when they would be."

I thought about it for a moment before nodding, looking back at the lights as I answered.

"Yeah, I guess that would have worked."

I turned back to him and noticed that his face was turned away from me.

I swallowed and ducked my head.

"I'm sorry, Gaara. I'm not used to telling people about my fears. Excluding Salem and Dolly, I really try to keep these type of things to myself and figure out a way to deal with them on my own."

He raised his face to me before hugging me tighter and nuzzling his face against the top of my head, my hair muffling his voice as he spoke.

"There is nothing for you to apologize about, Ria, I was just thinking about on other festivals and celebrations...I think that we'll just have to sneak off and hide at some point before the fireworks. Like I told you before, I have to be the one to sign off on the timing and we could simply leave some time before that."

I shook my head and pulled away from him, arguing with him.

"That makes you unable to see them well though! I don't want to be a burden on you. I want you to be happy. If I have to leave, I can go by myself."

He smiled at me gently, pushing some of my hair away from where it had stuck to the wet stains on my face.

"Ria, my heart, you are not and never will be a burden to me. I'm happiest when I'm with you. Plus, I have never really cared one way or another about the fireworks. They were simply something that the people of Suna enjoy."

His face became serious.

"And I do not want you going somewhere alone when you're upset. I'd rather you not go anywhere alone, now that I think of it. Even if you can defend yourself. But when you're upset you're not as aware of your surroundings as you would be if you were calm."

I nodded and gave in.

"Okay. I wont go hiding alone if I'm upset."

He nodded and his smile appeared again, his voice sounding relieved as he spoke.

"Good, I wont have to worry as much then."

I nodded and relaxed back into him, laughing as I pulled away again after my cheek had touched the cloth of his robes, causing him to look down at me with confused eyes. I shook my head and gave him a sheepish smile.

"I cried too much. The front of your robe is soaking."

He snorted in amusement before shifting me and I felt him moving and looked over him to see him removing his robes, revealing the crimson and brown outfit that he had worn at my home. He tossed his robes to the ground and pulled me back to him, causing me to smile as he gently pushed my head into his now dry chest.

"Better?"

I sighed contentedly and nodded tiredly.

"Much better."

We fell into silence and I could feel my body wanting to sleep and glanced at the moon, seeing how high it was and frowning.

"Gaara?"

He hummed, his fingers continuing their calming path over my spine.

"Hm? What love?"

I smiled at the endearment, though I didn't mention it.

"How late is it?"

He was quiet for a few minutes, his own face lifting towards the moon before he lowered his gaze back to me.

"Judging from the moon, it's about 2:30."

My eyes widened and I jumped to my feet in alarm, falling back into his lap as my legs refused to hold me and knocking the breath out of him. Gaara made an 'oof' sound and brought his arms back around me, slowly helping me up and steadying me as I almost fell again. His voice calming as he spoke.

"Ria, calm down. Your friends know that you're with me, they shouldn't be too worried about you. The festival is still going on and I doubt that they are even back at the hotel yet. I imagine we will even make it back before them, so there isn't a reason for you to panic so."

I sighed and fell against him, my legs still tingling slightly from being still for so long and I shook them out as I spoke, my voice relieved.

"I thought for sure that I was going to get a speech when I got back."

Gaara frowned in confusion and I shook my head, snickering slightly.

"Salem is one of those protective big brother types. He gets pretty concerned when I'm late and will probably come and see me as soon as he gets back to make sure I didn't go insane when the fireworks started."

Gaara nodded and pushed my hair away from my face.

"Would you like to go back then? That way you can get inside before Salem does?"

I nodded and gave him a small smile.

"I probably need to. Salem is no fun when he's upset or worried."

I looked towards the light of town and realized for the first time that I hadn't seen Butterball since we left the festival. I looked at Gaara with wide eyes, feeling a bit nervous.

"Gaara? Where's Butterball?"

Gaara snorted and rolled his eyes, seeming to sense my worry and pointed to his robes on the sand. There, except for a few black spots that I had thought were shadows, completely blending into the white robes, was a sleeping Butterball.

I sighed in relief and gave Gaara a large smile.

"So, how are we getting home so fast?"

He smiled.

''The same way that we got here of course."

He let his arms release me before stooping to pick up both the sleeping panda and his robes, handing both to me so that he could have his arms free.

He pulled me towards him and pressed my face into his chest, his breath ruffling my hair as he leaned his cheek against the crown of my head as he spoke.

"Keep your eyes closed until you can't feel the wind anymore. I don't want you to get sand into them."

I nodded and closed my eyes tight. I really didn't want sand in them either.

I felt Gaara moving his hands behind my back again and frowned as the wind suddenly picked up. I could feel grains of sand hitting my skin lightly and pressed my face closer to Gaara's chest as my eyelids fluttered. The temptation to open my eyes was almost too much for me.

Once the wind died down, I opened my eyes and frowned before closing them again with a small huff. I should have realized that there wouldn't be any light in a ball made of sand. So of course I couldn't see anything inside.

If it wasn't for the fact that I could feel Gaara's arms around me and hear his breathing, I wouldn't have even known that there was someone else with me.

After another moment I felt the wind again and opened my eyes. This time I saw Gaara's face illuminated by moonlight and I smiled up at him.

"Well, that's an quick and easy way to travel."

He smiled smugly.

"I enjoy it."

I looked up at the window that I thought was my room and sighed in relief. It was still dark, which meant that no one was inside yet and I could avoid scolding from my overly protective brother.

I looked back at Gaara and smiled brightly.

"There's no one back yet...Would you like to come up?"

He shrugged and nodded slowly.

"If you want me too."

I nodded and grinned widely.

"Of course I do! There may be a strange person in there. And poor defenseless me could get hurt."

He snorted at my joking before grabbing my hand and leading me inside.


/////////


Gaara opened the door to the room and we stood still for a moments, waiting for our eyes to adjust before we walked in fully and I began to fumble for the light switch, finally finding it after knocking my hip into a table, blinking in the sudden brightness.

I turned back to Gaara in time to see him put Butterball on the floor. The Panda apparently deciding that he had had enough of the day, scampering off towards my room, nudging the door open with his nose before he disappeared inside.

I smiled at Gaara, who was also watching the animal's actions in amusement.

"I guess we wore him out today."

He nodded, a small smile on his face as he took my hand and pulled me towards the door that Butterball had just gone through. He slipped out of his shoes once I had closed the door behind up and I was following his lead, taking off my own shoes when I noticed the envelope on the nightstand that had not been there when I had left that afternoon.

I picked it up curiously and sat on the bed beside Gaara as I opened it, feeling him sit up and put his arms around me, his cheek resting on my shoulder as I read the note, sighing in relief as I instantly recognized Dolly's hand writing.

"Ria.

Deidara and I were close by and he insisted that we come to see how your trip was going. He has been pouting for over a week now since he hadn't been able to visit you with the ninjas around.

We were close to the building where you were hiding when the fireworks started and were about to check on you before the Kazekage disappeared with you

. Hopefully he took you somewhere away from the noise. I'm glad to see that the boy is taking care of you. And you seemed happy to be with him. I am unsure about how I feel about how close the two of you seem to be already.

I've realized that I will have to have a talk with him sooner than I had originally thought.

But do not worry about me visiting him while you are around. I want you to enjoy your vacation. It has been some time since you have taken anytime at all away from Aubry's.

I will visit you when you come home, Dear One. I need to make for certain that you are truly fine and happy with the boy.

Dolly.

I smiled and leaned back into Gaara, hearing his small sigh as he shifted slightly, his voice soft by my ear.

"I take it that it was good news?"

I hummed and nodded.

"Yeah. It was just Dolly checking up on me basically. Well that and he wants to talk to you."

He sighed, his body slumping slightly with the heavy breath.

"I thought that he might. In all of the books I read, most fathers want to talk to the potential boyfriends."

I turned to give him an incredulous look, my eyebrow raised and a knowing tilt to my lips.

"And what books have you been reading, sweetheart? Could these be romance novels?"

His cheeks colored slightly and his lips pulled into a pout, his voice defensive.

"No."

I laughed, suddenly understanding why I had thought his words from earlier had sounded so cheesy. If he was trying to gain any knowledge about relationships from those types of books, it wasn't any wonder that he had spouted off one of the terrible lines.

"I never would have thought that you would like mushy lines and cliché endings, hon."

Gaara frowned and huffed, arguing with me lightly.

"It's not that I like them Ria. It's just that I don't know how to behave, and the last time that I left you I wanted to know how to act around you, so I asked Temari what I was supposed to say and do. She just threw a stack of romance novels at me and refused to tell me anything besides that she was not having those type of conversations with me."

I giggled harder and his pout intensified, his voice tinged with a whine.

"In not one of the books did the heroin ever laugh at the male lead when he was explaining things to her."

I scoffed as I continued to laugh, leaning my head back against his chest as I spoke through my chuckles.

"Oh, Gaara, I'm sorry. Romance novels are just so cheesy and unrealistic that I can't believe that people read some of them. They're really no good for relationship advice. I can't believe that your sister would even give you such a things to help you."

He sighed and frowned.

"I guess they wouldn't help with how to talk to Sasori then would they?"

I shook my head and gave him a comforting smile.

"Probably not. And I wouldn't have recommend you repeating a line from anything when you speak to Dolly anyways. He wouldn't appreciate that.

Though, I can't say that I'm exactly worried either. I think that you will know what to say when you speak to him without needing any help."

He nodded, his mouth twisting slightly in thought before he spoke through a sigh.

"I just don't want him to tell you that you can't be with me."

I scoffed and rolled my eyes, a small smirk on my face.

"None of my adopted family ever told me what I couldn't do, unless it was a danger to my health of course. And even then I sometimes did it anyways."

He huffed and gave me a fond smile, his eyes shining brightly.

"I could see that."

I laughed and nodded, snuggling closer to him and letting us fall into silence for a moment until Gaara sighed unhappily and I looked up at him questioningly, his body shifting against mine uncomfortably.

"Your friends are back."

He grimaced.

"Along with Sai and Kankuro. Apparently you're going to have a full house tonight."

I smiled and shook my head.

"We can stay in here. We don't have to leave the room at all I don't think."

He nodded and relaxed again.

"Good. I don't think that I could handle all of those people tonight. "

I nodded, preparing to tease him about being anti-social, flinching instead as Mona's loud yell echoed through the apartment like suite. I was almost sure that people on the street could hear her as well.

"Misa! If you don't stop sucking face with Kankuro and get up these stairs right now, I'm going to lock you out!"

I heard Misa giggle a moment before the door slammed shut. I felt Gaara heave a sigh and looked up at him to see a disgusted look on his face as he looked at the door, causing me to smile lightly.

"What's wrong, honey?"

He grimaced and shook his head, his gaze returning to me.

"My brother is a pervert."

I raised an eyebrow and held down a giggle at the distaste in his voice.

"Why do you say that?"

He shook his head again and huffed.

"I don't really know how to explain it. You're just gong to have to see for yourself. But believe me, he is a pervert."

I nodded and shrugged.

"Alright. If you say that he is then I believe you. But I think that Misa can handle it. Besides, he can't be as bad as Sai."

I rolled my eyes and Gaara smiled, shaking his head lightly.

"No. He's not that bad. He just has his moments."

I huffed and smiled.

"I think everybody does. You would be surprised if you heard what gossip goes around Aubry's."

He nodded and frowned suddenly.

''The one time that I was there Misa got pulled into some guys lap."

I blinked up at him in surprise.

"How did you see that? The banister is tall enough and the lights are situated so that the people downstairs can't see anything that happens upstairs."

Gaara smiled and hugged me tighter, looking pleased with himself as he shook his head, his smile once again secretive.

"I can't tell you."

I pouted and pulled back to look at him.

"Why not?"

He grinned, his teeth glinting in the light of the room.

"Because it's a secret."

I glared at him and tried to pull away completely.

"That's not fair! I told you my secrets tonight. You can at least tell me one of yours!"

He shook his head, his smile still on his face as he refused to let me go, tightening his grip around me until I had given up and he continued.

"It's not really a secret, Love. I was just teasing. It's just a jutsu that I can use."

He frowned suddenly, his arms tightening unconsciously.

"Though at the moment, I'm so tired that I can barely move, much less show it to you."

I stilled completely and gave him a worried frown.

"I wish you would have said something earlier. I would have let you lay down."

He smiled sadly and shrugged.

"Why? It's not like I'm going to sleep anyways. I might as well be holding and talking to you for the short time that you're here."

I sighed and rolled my eyes, pulling away from him and sliding off of the bed to turn the lights off, blinking in the darkness for a moment until I could see by the moonlight that was coming in through the uncovered balcony doors.

When I was able to move without tripping over anything, I walked back over to the bed and pushed Gaara to where he was lying down, crawling in beside him and pulling the covers over us as I curled into his chest, his arms instantly going around me. Resting underneath the Yukata's bow and making me frown.

That was going to be an uncomfortable problem. I had never been able to sleep on my stomach, and the bow hindered laying in any other position comfortably. Not to mention how tightly the fabric was wrapped around me.

I needed to get up and change, but Gaara's breathing was slowly deepening and I wanted him to rest...just in case he was wrong and could sleep. And I knew that if I left the bed, it would pretty well ruin any chances of him falling into a deep sleep.

I sighed softly and tried to wiggle out of the bow without moving the bed and disturbing Gaara.

I paused after a moment, having loosened the bow and thought about the shorter dress that was under the Yukata. It would be easier to sleep in. With my sleeping habits I would be less likely to get tangled up in the shorter fabric.

I yanked on the bow, finally pulling it completely loose and gasped lightly as Gaara's arms pulled me tighter to him, hearing him sigh tiredly.

"What are you doing, Ria?"

I sighed and relaxed my limbs in defeat.

"Trying not to wake you up mostly."

He smiled and hummed.

"I figured that. You were being extremely careful not to move the bed or my arms. What I meant though was: what were you trying to do that you were moving around so much?"

I laughed nervously and let my eyes drift to the ceiling for a moment, feeling slightly embarrassed

"I was um...well, I was trying to take off this bow and Yukata. They're hard to sleep in."

Gaara's body went still, his breath catching in his throat and I was quick to explain further.

''There's an under-dress. I wasn't trying to undress completely. It's just that the hem of the outer Yukata is really long and will get tangled around me when I move.''

I knew that my face was slightly red and Gaara was silent for a few minutes before he cleared his throat and nodded slowly.

"I see...Do...do you want me to help you?"

I sighed and smiled in relief, nodding slightly.

"If you can unwrap the the stupid bow fabric, I can squirm out of the outer dress."

He nodded and sat up, bringing me up with him and turning me so that I faced away from him, his fingers tugging at the long strip of fabric that had wrapped around my waist tightly.

It took him far less time than it would have taken me and a few seconds later I sighed, finally being able to breath fully again and pushed the fabric that had once been a bow onto the floor, not caring if it got wrinkled.

I turned back towards Gaara and smiled as he looked back at me, his eyes darting away as he swallowed and spoke nervously.

"Do you want help with the rest?"

I giggled and shook my head, thinking that he wouldn't have thought to offer if he hadn't read about something similar recently.

"Was there something like this in one of the romance novels you read?"

He blushed lightly and nodded, his eyes coming back to mine.

"Yeah. But...do you?"

I paused and shrugged.

''I don't really need it, but you can help if you want. It's kinda just like wearing a robe over pajamas at this point.

He let out an amused breath, my words seeming to have calmed whatever nervousness he had been feeling and he reached towards me, gently pushing the hanging Yukata off of my shoulders and I pushed that onto the floor as well, snarling at it slightly. That was just too much work. Both to get it on and taking it off.

I felt Gaara's arms wrapping around me again and turned back to him as he pulled me down to the bed, tugging the covers over our shoulders as I rested against him.

I sighed as I felt more comfortable this time, smiling at him gratefully.

"Thank you for helping me. I don't think that I'll ever wear a full Yukata again. They're too much of a hassle and they aren't very comfortable. No matter how pretty they are."

He smiled and nodded.

"I don't blame you. That was a lot of fabric, and the bow seemed rather tight around your waist. Do you feel better now that it's off?"

I nodded instantly and opened my mouth to reply before jumping in surprise as a loud bang sounded from the room next to mine. Gaara shot a glare towards the loud noise and I laughed before yelling, my voice carrying through the walls.

''See? It's not that hard to fall off of the bed, is it?"

I heard Mona laugh and then Salem was yelling as well.

"Hey! Quit being dirty in there and go to sleep."

I heard Mona growl loudly and then she yelled back.

"Shut-up, jerk! You don't know whats going on! So go jump out the window. Besides, you're just jealous."

I heard Mona laughing again but didn't hear if Salem replied, my own laughter drowning out his reply if he did. Gaara's look of disgust caused me to laugh a bit harder and I saw him smile ironically as he shook his head.

"Your friends."

I nodded and continued to laugh softly.

"Yap, we're all crazy. But it would be boring otherwise."

I snuggled closer to him as I calmed and his arms tightened around me, the rooms around us falling quiet and I felt him tugging his fingers through my hair, the movements relaxing me enough to drift to sleep, despite the excitement of a few minutes before.


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