The Akatsuki's Daughter

Chapter 25

As we entered my house, Gaara made his way up to my room while I let Butterball and Sora outside, slipping out of my shoes as I waited for them to finish outside.

It didn't take long, both animals seeming to be tired and wanting back in faster than I was expecting.

Sora curled up on the couch when she slumped back inside, seeming to not want to share a bed with Gaara and I patted her head lightly before picking up Butterball and making my way to my room.

When I stepped into the room I found that Gaara was already lounging on my bed, his arms behind his head, his shirt and shoes on the floor.

I rolled my eyes, a smile on my face as I left him to change into my nightclothes. Sighing in relief as the comfy clothes settled over me and tugged my hair down from my ponytail before returning to my room and finding that Butterball had joined Gaara on the bed, the panda curled up at the foot sleeping deeply.

I smiled at the sight and went to crawl in next to Gaara, sighing as he instantly turned towards me and wrapped his arms around me, his voice a deep rumble under my cheek as he spoke.

''I spoke to Kankuro after you left Suna. He explained to me what sex was.''

I groaned and rubbed a hand over my tired eyes.

''I was hoping that you wouldn't ask him about that for a while. I told you that you didn't need to rush.''

Gaara nodded and lifted my face so that I would look at him.

''I wanted to know why you were so embarrassed about my questions. Now I understand. If the situation had been reversed, I think that I would have been just as embarrassed.''

I smiled shyly and shrugged.

''So Kankuro explained everything, huh? I hope that he explained it right and didn't add his view of things, like he did with that blushing business.''

Gaara nodded and shrugged.

''I could tell you what he said if you want.''

I shook my head quickly.

''No thank you! Ignorance is bliss, and I would like to stay in the dark about your brother's lectures.''

Gaara nodded and laid a kiss to my forehead, a small smile on his face.

''I don't blame you. Kankuro was very...vivid in his explanation.''

I wrinkled my nose at that before groaning suddenly, remembering that I had laundry in the washer. Gaara looked at me curiously and I untangled myself from his arms, sliding out of bed as I spoke.

''I forgot about the laundry. I need to dry it so it doesn't sour...if it's not even too late. I was gone longer than I had planned on being.''

Gaara nodded and stood from the bed as well, a frown on his face as he followed me into the hallway.

''I refuse to lose even a minute of time with you, Love. I'll go with you and make sure that you don't dawdle.''

I laughed at the thought of staying in the laundry room longer than necessary before shrugging. I wasn't going to argue.

We entered the laundry room and Gaara instantly moved to sit on the dryer, pulling his legs up so they were out of the way.

I smiled at how innocent this pose made him look and stood on my toes to kiss him gently, pulling back after only a moment, wanting to finish with the clothes and return to my bed. Instead of letting me pull away however, Gaara followed me and I had to push on his chest so he wouldn't fall from the dryer.

He pouted at me and I had to hide my laugh.

''I wasn't done kissing you yet.''

I nodded and transfered the clothes into the dryer

''Apparently. But I didn't want you to fall off of the dryer.''

Gaara shot me a glare, though it was a bit diminished by the pout that remained on his lips.

''Then you shouldn't have pulled away.''

I laughed, watching curiously as he pulled a shirt out of the washer, his forehead wrinkling as his eyes darted back to mine.

''This doesn't look like it belongs to you, Love.''

I shook my head and threw the shirt into the dryer, speaking as I closed the door roughly.

''It's not, it's Salem's. I told him that I would do a load of his laundry so that he wouldn't smell bad this week.''

Gaara frowned and jumped off of the dryer so that I could press the start buttons, his arms crossed over his chest.

''You jumped out of bed and stopped kissing me so that you could do Salem's laundry?''

I nodded and grabbed his hand, leading him back towards my room.

''Yeah. But now I'm done and we can go back to bed.''

Gaara huffed and placed me on the bed before curling up next to me, wrapping his arms around me and pulling me closer.

I sighed, enjoying how his body heat warmed the bed.

''I missed this.''

Gaara nodded and began to run his fingers through my hair.

''Me too, Love. I couldn't even lay in my bed after you left. I thought about you every time that I would try to sleep and when I reached for you, you weren't there.''

I sighed, snuggling closer to him. I had no solution to this dilemma And I was still trying to find one when his voice interrupted my thoughts.

''Did you know that Sasori stayed in Suna after you left? He came to talk to me the night that you left.''

I groaned and slapped a hand over my face.

''What did he say to you?''

Gaara shrugged, smirking lightly.

''Nothing to worry over, Love. A few threats, a short speech, and he left. After he apologized, in a round-a-bout way, for killing me.''

I groaned and dropped my hand away, instantly apologized.

''I'm so sorry, Gaara. Salem told me when Dolly was going to visit you after we got home. I didn't even have a way to warn you.''

He shook his head, his arms tightening briefly.

''Don't worry about it, Love. I expected it. Though in my mind, he was a little more vicious than he was in reality. The threats were still pretty graphic though.''

I sighed, preparing to apologize again but Gaara stopped me, a small smile on his face.

''Stop, Love. It's good that they worry about you.''

He paused for a moment and I looked up to see him biting his lip hesitantly.

''You know that I would never mean to hurt you, don't you? Whether it's emotionally or physically. I would never do anything that would intentionally cause you pain.''

I nodded slowly, frowning at him.

''I know that, Gaara. What's brought this on?''

He shook his head and sighed.

''It's just something that Sasori said. It made me think that maybe you thought that I might hurt you at some point.''

I rolled my eyes and huffed.

''I know that you would never hurt me, Gaara. And I'm sorry that Dolly made you think otherwise.''

I reached up to rub my thumb across his cheek bone.

''I know what you went through as a child, Gaara. And I know that because of that, you're more insecure when it comes to love and relationships. But I also know that with how you are now, that you would do anything possible to keep those you cared for safe. I have no doubts about how you feel, or of my own feelings for you. I love you, and I think sometimes that it will be me that will hurt you.''

Gaara nodded and captured my hand, bringing it to his mouth.

''I love you as well, my Ria. And you don't need to worry about hurting me. Every time that I'm around you I feel as if whatever part was still broken inside of me heals a bit more.''

I smiled, trying to hold back the tears that sprang to my eyes and kissed him quickly.

I pulled back after a moment and rested against his chest again, inhaling deeply and realizing how much I had missed even the way he smelt.

I closed my eyes, the emotions of the night seeming to have drained me and Gaara seemed to sense this, stroking my hair and relaxing me further, though I tried to stay awake for a bit longer.

''Are you going to be able to sleep tonight?''

Gaara shook his head, his hand never stopping it's movement.

''No, Love, I'm not that tired. But I can tell that you are. Go to sleep.''

I sighed and snuggled closer, unable to argue with him.

''Alright. Night, Gaara.''

He hmned softly and I finally lost the battle with my heavy eyelids and fell asleep.


I was startled awake by an outraged yell and instantly looked to my side for Gaara, frowning when I didn't find him.

I sat up to take a closer look around the room and jumped in surprise as my door flew open, banging against the wall, Salem storming into the room, a shirt held out to me in his tightly clenched fist. He stopped by my bed and shook the shirt in my face.

''My clothes smell like flowers, Ria. Do you have any idea why?''

I tried to bite down my laughter and nodded, a small giggle forcing it's way through despite my efforts.

''I used my detergent.''

Salem's glare became deadly and I fell back to the bed, almost choking with how hard I was laughing, his voice a growl when he spoke.

''This is not funny, Little Sister! I have to go see Toru today and what is she going to think when I walk in smelling like a chick?!''

I forced my eyes to look at him, my laughter catching in my throat as I caught sight of Gaara standing in the doorway, his body tense as he watched Salem cautiously and I sat up with a sigh.

''Just tell her that I used the wrong detergent. She'll just laugh and let it go.''

Salem's glare lightened slightly and he nodded, moving towards the door. As he passed Gaara, he held the shirt out to him, shaking it slightly.

''Never trust Ria to do your laundry! She uses a girly smelling detergent!''

Gaara's eyes drifted to me and after another brief glare thrown over his shoulder, Salem moved back down the hallway towards his room.

Gaara stepped into my room, closing the door behind him before he walked forwards and perched on the side of the bed, Salem's loud voice echoing into my room as he ranted.

''Stupid Deidara! Encouraging her stupid pranks! Of course he wouldn't care if he smelt frilly!''

I giggled and looked at Gaara, raising an eyebrow as I watched him nibble at a cookie.

''Did you leave me alone so that you could go get a cookie?''

Gaara smirked and nodded.

''I thought that you would be asleep for a little bit longer and I was hungry. I didn't expect for Salem to storm in here and start yelling at you as soon as I left.''

His voice was not amused as he spoke and I grinned.

''I knew that he would be angry. But I never thought that he would storm around shaking his shirt.''

Gaara looked at me in surprise.

''You did that on purpose?''

I nodded and laughed.

''Yeah. It was a little prank that I thought would be entertaining.''

Gaara frowned and took a measured bite of his cookie before he spoke.

''When I heard him yelling at you I thought that I was going to have to stop a fight, because of an accident. Now I find out that you made him mad on purpose.''

He shot me a reproachful look, huffing slightly.

''Just for that, you can't have a bite of my cookie.''

I gave him a small glare.

''Are you telling me, that because I played a prank on Salem, that I can not have a cookie?''

Gaara nodded and took another bite of the huge cookie.

''That's right. You were not good and you don't deserve one.''

I huffed at him, crossing my arms over my chest.

It wasn't that he was forbidding me to have a cookie that irritated me, I would go get one if I really wanted one, it was the fact that he was taking Salem's side. He was supposed to be my boyfriend, not Salem's, and I felt like I was being ganged up on. Though I had to admit that if this had involved one of my friends, and Gaara had made them as angry as I had made Salem, I would have probably acted the same way. I sighed at my hypocritical thoughts and apparently remained silent too long, Gaara looking down at me as he spoke again.

''So are you going to apologize to Salem?''

I felt my eyebrows rise almost to my hairline and scoffed impatiently.

''I don't think so. Most likely he's already at Toru's and covered the smell up with strong cologne.''

I rolled my eyes.

''Besides, if I apologized it would ruin his chances of getting revenge. He would be so disappointed. Not to mention that he's already gotten over it. It was only one load of laundry after all. He can always re-wash them when he washes his other clothes. You'll see when he gets back.''

Gaara's look was surprised.

''Do you play pranks on each other a lot?''

I nodded and leaned back against my headboard, rolling my eyes slightly.

''Yeah. A few weeks ago he turned some of my favorite shirts pink because he threw a pair of his socks in with the clothes I was bleaching.

I glared at the ceiling.

'''He deserves to smell like a girl for a day, now that I think about it.''

Gaara shook his head slowly.

''I don't understand why you would want to play pranks on each other.''

I shrugged.

''It's just fun. I know that some siblings pull pranks on each other because they want to embarrass or hurt the other, but Salem and I aren't like that. It's all for fun.''

Gaara hesitated before nodding slowly.

''Temari and Kankuro fight like that. They're extremely violent with each other, but it's still obvious that they care about the other.''

I nodded and watched silently as his eyes became sad and I frowned for a moment before shifting so I could run my fingers through his hair.

''What's wrong, Gaara?''

He shrugged and looked away from me to stare at the floor, his expression twisting sadly as he answered.

''They don't act like that with me. It's my own fault, of course. The way that I treated them when I was younger made them fear me, and even now that fear hasn't completely disappeared. Sometimes I think that they still see me as a monster.''

I frowned and pulled him towards me, wrapping my arms around him tightly.

''You were not a monster, Gaara. And you need to stop thinking of yourself like you are.''

He smiled at me softly

''You're wrong, Love. I was a monster. You weren't there to see what I did. To see the look on my face. I enjoyed it far too much to not be considered a monster.''

I glared at him and tightened my arms.

''I don't need to know what you looked like Gaara, to know that you are not a monster. Monsters don't regret what they did, and you've told me yourself that you do. I don't consider you a monster and neither do your siblings. And I've seen the way your village respects you. Do you think that they would allow you to be the Kazekage if they thought that you were a monster?

You are the only one calling yourself a monster, Gaara, and you need to stop. If you need someone to play a prank on you to make you realize that you aren't one, I will gladly find someone who will drop water balloons on your head.''

Gaara stared at me for a moment before suddenly pulling me to kiss him. I smiled into the kiss. Apparently I had gotten through to him.

I pulled away from him after a moment, my smile still in place.

''So do I need to find someone who is willing to pull a prank on you?''

He shook his head and smiled lopsidedly.

''No. I don't really want to be pranked.''

I smiled and kissed him again quickly.

''Alright. You know that your siblings love you right? They're just giving you enough time to get used to the whole 'people love me no matter what' thing. They don't want to push you.''

Gaara nodded and leaned against me.

''I have noticed that they have started saying things to me that they would never say before. Temari nags me more than she would have ever dared and Kankuro tries to tease me. Though I don't always understand.''

I nodded, smiling gently.

''So maybe when you get home you should explain what you're feeling and tell them that you love them. At least to Temari. I know that that would make her happy.''

Gaara stiffened against me and looked up at me with wide eyes, his breath coming harshly.

''Tell...Tell them that I...''

He broke off, shaking his head harshly enough that I though that he was going to hurt himself.

''I can't, Ria. I've listened to Shukaku's voice tell me over and over again that no one could love me. And I still can't force myself not to believe it. Even now, every time that I tell you that I love you and you don't answer right away, I can hear him whispering that you don't love me back. Or that you've realized what horrible things I've done and that you've changed your mind.

I don't think that I could handle any more of that. Especially not with Temari and Kankuro. I've treated them so cruelly..they have the most reasons to hate me. I don't think I could stand it if I found out that they only tolerated me because I'm their brother.''

I hushed him and rocked him gently, cooing lightly.

''Hush, Gaara. I'm sorry. I didn't realize that this would be so hard for you.''

He looked up at me with a deep sadness in his eyes and I had the brief thought that if he wasn't so used to these feelings that he would be crumpled in a corner.

I tightened my arms around him and buried my face in his hair.

''I love you, Gaara. You never have to doubt that. If I ever hesitate in replying, it's not because I'm rethinking if I love you, it's because I'm amazed at how much I love you.''

He sighed and closed his eyes, relaxing in my hold again.

''I love you, my Ria. Thank you. I'll try to remember what you said the next time I hear Shukaku's voice.''

I nodded and kissed his forehead.

''Good. And I love you too.''

He smiled softly.

''I know.''


After some time, Gaara calmed down and I had prodded him down to the kitchen.

My stomach had decided that it was time to eat, grumbling loudly and I had laughed as I had pulled Gaara off of the bed. He had followed me docilely, not really saying anything and I knew that he was still a bit upset about earlier, though I tried to draw him out of his funk, speaking to him after I had pushed him down into a chair and went in search of food.

''So, what do you want for breakfast?

He shrugged and leaned back into the chair.

''I had cookies.''

I frowned, my eyes narrowing.

''Are you saying that you ate more than one cookie?''

He smirked, nodding quickly and I shook my head, laughing slightly.

''You're going to have a major sugar high. Those cookies were huge. You need to eat something else or you're going to get a headache. I think I'll make chocolate chip pancakes.''

Gaara shrugged and I smiled comfortingly.

''Don't worry, hon. I don't cook like Temari.''

He smirked and nodded.

''I know. I ate your cooking when I was here the last time. I knew it couldn't be horrible when I saw the way that Naruto was scarfing it down.''

I giggled and shrugged.

''Naruto would eat anything if he was hungry enough. He really likes food.''

Gaara shook his head, smirking impishly and seeming to come out of his sadness as we spoke about his sister's cooking.

''He won't eat Temari's cooking. He asked Hinata to cook for him while he was in Suna. Does that tell you how awful her cooking is? Even Naruto won't eat it.''

I laughed and shook my head.

''At least she tries.''

I paused in stirring the pancake batter, a sudden thought coming to me.

''Hey, Gaara? I know that Temari isn't the best cook, but what about Kankuro? Can he cook?''

Gaara shook his head his expression confused.

''Not at all. Why do you ask?''

I grimaced and poured the batter onto the hot skillet, not turning around as I answered.

''Because Misa can't cook either. Mona won't let her into the kitchen anymore. The one time that she did, Misa not only messed up the recipe, but burnt the food so bad that the kitchen filled with smoke. It was like that for three days, even with them airing out the house.

So now Misa does all of the cleaning, and Mona has taken over the cooking.''

I placed a pancake onto a plate and looked over my shoulder to see Gaara smile, his shoulders shaking in silent laughter.

''Don't worry, Love. They'll just have to order out every night.''

I laughed and rolled my eyes.

''I guess. Unless Mona changes her mind about Misa going into the kitchen. I seriously doubt it though.''

I turned back to take up the remaining pancakes and paused as a pair of arms wrapped around my waist suddenly, Gaara's chin resting on my shoulder as he looked at the food curiously.

I shrugged my unoccupied shoulder and flipped the pancakes and gasped lightly as he began to lay random kisses around my neck, having gotten bored with watching me cook.

I tightened my grip on the spatula and frowned harshly. It was hard to concentrate on food when he was being such a distraction. He was shifting the collar of my night-shirt, his mouth attacking my bare shoulder and I was glad that the pancakes were finished, dividing them up onto two plates before swiveling in his arms to face him, my arms wrapping around his neck.

''You're not nice, do you know that?''

He frowned, his eyes confused.

''How am I not nice?''

I shook my head in mock reproach, sighing playfully.

''Here I was, making you something to eat, and you decide to kiss me when I can't kiss you back. That wasn't nice at all.''

His face brightened and he smirked, reaching past me to turn off the stove before he replied.

''Well, you're not cooking now.

I smiled and pulled his head down to touch his lips to mine, letting him kiss me until I had no choice but to pull away to breathe and noticed that Gaara's breathing was still normal. I wasn't able to stop the glare that came to my face.

He smirked and squeezed me lightly.

''Why are you glaring at me, Love?''

I wrinkled my nose.

''Because you're not even a little out of breath, and I'm gasping in air.''

He smiled and shrugged.

''It's my ninja training again.''

I huffed and pouted.

''Stupid ninja training.''

He smiled and waved a hand at the food.

''Do you still want to eat, or are you content to just have me kiss you breathless again? Because if you are, I would prefer to move away from the hot stove.''

I laughed before turning to grab the full plates and walking past him, noticing the disappointed look on his face as I passed him.

He sat down in his abandoned chair and stared dejectedly at the full plate in front of him, a small pout pulling at his lips and I huffed, flinging myself onto his lap, grinning as his eyes widened. His arms came around me to stop me from sliding from his lap and I looped my arms around his shoulders loosely, swinging one of my legs childishly.

''Santa, I want a new pair of shoes, and a leash for Butterball, and someone to clean my house for me.''

Gaara was staring at me blankly and I laughed as I laid a kiss to his jaw.

''You just have to get what you want all of the time don't you?''

He shot me a haughty look and nodded his head. His chin lifting into the air.

''Of course. I always get what I want. I always have.''

I laughed and shook my head.

''Even though I believe that's probably true, you're going to have to wait until I finish eating. Because if I don't eat something soon, my stomach is going to be yelling, loudly.''

He pouted, but the disappointed look had vanished as he nodded.

''Fine. I suppose that I don't want your stomach to yell at me again.''

I nodded, still curious as to why he was sad to begin with and frowned slightly.

''Why did you look so upset earlier? It wasn't just because you weren't getting your way. You genuinely looked disappointed.''

Gaara frowned and looked away from me.

''I don't want to tell you. It's embarrassing.''

I grinned evilly and turned his face back to mine with a finger on his cheek furthest from me.

''Oh no, honey. I can tell you some embarrassing things. If it would make you feel better.''

His eyes widened and he shook his head quickly.

''No, I'll tell you. I was disappointed because it seemed like you would rather eat than kiss me.''

I frowned at him and shook my head, speaking seriously when with any other person I would just huff and claim that they were being ridiculous. I couldn't do that with Gaara, his insecurities a problem that I had to tackle the moment they made an appearance and as seriously as possible.

''There are very few things that I would rather do than kiss you, Gaara. That ranks pretty high on my priority list. There aren't a lot of things that I would rather do than kiss you. But I do have to eat.''

His arms tightened around me, pulling me closer and he buried his face in my hair as he shook his head and answered.

''I know that, Love. I do, really. If the council had seen how unsure I am, they would never had made me Kazekage.''

I breathed deeply and pushed him away, smiling at him gently.

''Yes they would have. You've never had to deal with these type of feelings before, so it's understandable that you would be unsure.

The way you act with this is not anything that would have determined you becoming Kazekage, I don't think. You are wonderful to the villagers and they believe that you are the best thing to happen to Suna in a long time. I don't think it would matter to them if you were a bit uncertain with things that you are new to, as long as you continued to be their favorite Kazekage. ''

Gaara smiled slightly and I turned in his arms to reach our plates, handing one to him.

He took it and smiled at me lopsidedly.

''If I had known that you were going to sit on my lap the whole time, I would have woken you up long before Salem came bursting into your room.''

I rolled my eyes and took a bite of the pancakes, refusing to reply to that comment before sighing happily. Somehow the chocolate chips were still gooey.

I speared another square and held it out to Gaara, who had yet to even cut into his own plate of pancakes.

''Here. You have to at least try a bite.''

He stared at the morsel doubtfully before sighing and accepting the bite I held out to him. I watched as he chewed slowly and saw his eyes widen.

He reached around me, quickly grabbing his own plate and I laughed happily as he began to shovel the pastry into his mouth so quickly that he would have made Naruto proud.

I returned to my own meal and wasn't surprised when he suddenly choked, coughing harshly as I patted his back. I had to bit my lip so I wouldn't laugh at him. The color that had taken over his face could rival his hair and I found that strangely amusing.

He caught his breath after another moment and lifted his eyes towards me, a harsh glare contorting his features.

''Are you laughing at my discomfort, Ria?''

I bit my lip hard, knowing from his tone of voice that I was in trouble. I smiled innocently at him and shook my head in denial.

''Do you really think that I would do something like that?''

His glare became harsher and I laughed nervously, looking away.

''Well, maybe I would.''

He growled softly and I threw my mostly empty plate onto the table, crossing my arms over my chest protectively.

''Fine! Yes, I was laughing at you! Are you happy now? You truth Nazi.''

I pouted at him and his lips twitched in amusement as he traced my pout with his finger, his mouth splitting into a sudden grin as I tried to bite at his fingers.

''You're pouting, Love.''

I nodded and huffed softly, causing him to frown.

''Are you not talking to me now?''

I shook my head viciously and he hesitated a moment before moving his plate to the table and wrapping his arms around me tightly.

''Alright. I suppose that I will just have to settle on a kiss then, since you refuse to speak to me.''

I remained silent and he smirked before kissing me gently.

I groaned softly at his cheating and felt his smile widen as his hands moved to my hair, tilting my head and deepening the kiss.

I had given up being upset with him and was shifting, trying to get closer to him when the kitchen door burst open and a disgusted noise caused me to pull away, shooting a glare at Salem.

My glare turned to concern almost instantly and I searched his expression, finding panic beneath the disgust, my own heart beating faster at his look.

''What's wrong, Salem?''

He seemed to remember why he had ran into the room in the first place and swallowed hard, his throat bobbing visibly.

''Somebody set fire to Aubry's. I was at Toru's when I saw the smoke. The others are trying to put out the flames, but it wasn't looking good when I left.''

I stared at him horrified.

''Is everyone alright? Was anyone inside the building?''

Salem shook his head, his hands raised calmingly.

''Everyone is fine. It was too early for anyone to be there for work.''

I sighed in relief and relaxed slightly.

''Do you know who set the fire?''

His face hardened and he snarled.

''We don't know for sure, but we think that it was Yuki, and Suki.''

I groaned and snarled.

''Of course it was. If I could get my hands around their bunny necks, I would strangle them!''

Gaara's arms tightened around me comfortingly and Salem nodded, his eyes hard.

''Same here, Little Sister. If it wasn't for Toru, I would already have a hunting party ready to go after their heads.''

I nodded and stood up, pulling Gaara up after me.

''I'm going to go change and then I'll meet you at Aubry's, or...what's left of it.''

He nodded.

''Alright, Sister. I'll see you in a bit.''

I nodded and watched as he turned on his heel and rushed out the door.

I sighed and turned back to Gaara, giving him a sad smile.

''I was hoping that I could spend some quiet time with you and let you relax. You have enough trouble to deal with being a Kazekage You don't need them when you're away from Suna trying to just be Gaara.''

He smiled comfortingly and pulled me to him, hugging me tightly.

''You couldn't help this, Love. And I can say that your life definitely keeps me on my toes.''

I huffed tiredly and pulled away.

''I have to go change clothes.''

Gaara nodded and nudged me towards the stairs gently.

''Go. I'll rinse the dishes and meet you upstairs in a little bit.''

I nodded and stood on my toes to kiss his cheek quickly before making my way to my room, silently cursing the Bunny Twins and their vindictive behavior.


I had just finished pulling on my shirt when Gaara knocked on my door and I smoothed out the wrinkles in the cloth as I spoke.

''It's okay, I'm dressed.''

He peeked into the room hesitantly and when his eyes found me clothed, stepped fully into the room.

I watched as he walked to the corner next to my bed curiously, and raised an eyebrow when he picked up a black bag that I hadn't noticed the night before.

I tilted my head as he began rifling through it and he smiled at me as he caught my curious gaze.

''I need a clean shirt.''

I nodded slowly.

''But when did you get a baghere?''

He shrugged and pulled out a tan shirt, tugging it on as he spoke.

''I came here before going to Aubry's. Salem opened the door and told me where you were. He told me that he would bring my bag to your room.''

I nodded and rolled my eyes. Knowing Salem, he had probably just opened my door and thrown the bag into the room. I ran a hand through my hair and grimaced as my fingers got caught in the tangles. I would have to wait another day until I could get Salem to brush it.

I was beginning to pull my hair up when I caught Gaara's gaze in my mirror.


He walked towards me and grasped my hands, pulling them away from my hair and letting the tangled mass fall down my back again.

''Sasori said something about you not knowing how to brush your hair. But I thought that he was joking...Can you really not brush your hair?''

I shrugged and shook my head.

''No. There was no reason for me to learn. Die always took care of my hairstyles when I was little and Salem normally brushes it now... When he isn't busy or I don't forget.''

He hummed and began to run his fingers through my hair. He caught a tangle and instantly pulled away with a frown.

''Your hair is really knotted.''

I nodded and moved to sit on my bed, trying to comb out the tangles with my fingers.

''Salem has been really busy and I didn't want to bother him. He won't be happy with me when he finally gets a brush to it.''

Gaara frowned before grabbing something off of my vanity and climbing onto the bed to sit behind me.

I tensed slightly, unsure of what he was doing until I felt the familiar pull of a brush. It had never occurred to me to actually ask Gaara to brush my hair and I was slightly embarrassed that he was doing such a thing now. It was one thing to have my adopted brother or Die brushing my hair, but having Gaara gently brushing out the tangles was strange.

Though the longer I thought about it, the more I wanted to laugh. The feared Kazekage of the sand village was tenderly untangling his girlfriend's hair.

After a moment I relaxed and tried to ignore the constant pulling. Gaara sighed after another moment, and I slumped as he brushed through the detangled strands, humming lightly when he spoke.

''I didn't think about how soothing this would be. For me. It's a repetitive motion, and your hair is so soft...''

I rolled my eyes and shrugged, Gaara grumbling suddenly and I grimaced, knowing how temperamental my hair was.

''I'm sorry. Did it tangle again?''

I felt him nod.

''A little bit. But nothing near like it was.''

He became silent again and I could feel my eyes drifting close, even though I knew that we needed to leave. I was just reluctant to pull away from him, claiming that my hair was now tangle free. It had been a long time since someone had taken so much time in brushing my hair and, once it was detangled, I had always liked to have it messed with.

Gaara's voice drew me from my haze however and I sighed.

''You probably shouldn't let your hair get that tangled again, Love.''

I forced myself to be still, knowing that any movement would just tangle the strands again.

''I told you, I didn't want to be a bother to Salem. And now that Aubry's has burned...''

I let my sentence drift off, unprepared for the rush of sudden sadness.

Gaara set the brush down and pulled my hair into its normal high ponytail as he spoke, his voice guarded.

''What will you do now that Aubry's is...gone?''

I could hear the hesitancy in his voice as he searched for the least hurtful words and I sighed, letting his arms that wrapped around my shoulders pull me back into his chest.

''I really don't know Gaara. I know, without them saying it, that they won't let me help them rebuild.''

His arms tightened and he buried his face against the back of my neck, making it hard for me to understand him.

''Would you like to come back to Suna with me tomorrow?''

I bit my lip, trying to think if there was a reason for me not to go. Salem would be fine with Toru for company. She would comfort him better than I ever could. And it wasn't like I had to work now.

I smiled sadly and nodded, reaching up to squeeze his hands.

''I would like very much to go back with you. It will be too depressing around here for a while. Aubry's has been around for what seems like forever. I don't want to see another building there until it's finished. I don't know how I would react to see a skeletal frame.''

I felt the tears cloud my vision again and forced them back, Gaara nuzzling against my neck and tightening his arms comfortingly.

''I'm sorry, Love. If you need me, I'm here.''

I smiled and turned in his arms, smiling softly.

''I always need you, Gaara.''

I ruffled his hair playfully and grinned teasingly.

''I just don't need your attitude.''

He smirked and I kissed him quickly before pulling him from the bed.

''Well...Let's go see what damage has been done to the building.''

Gaara nodded and let me lead him from the room and out of the house.

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