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The Akatsuki's Daughter

By Jeanaye Perkey

Romance / Humor

Chapter 29


I groaned softly, and rolled towards the warm spot that had, until recently, held a body.

I curled into a ball, savoring the remaining traces of heat in the mattress before feeling a movement next to me, felling gentle fingers running over my hair and stilled instantly, not wanting to let on that I was awake, listening intently as the person spoke.

''So you're taking my girl away from me are you?''

I frowned lightly, recognizing Dolly's voice as the one next to me, Gaara's voice answering from across the room.

''Just to Suna. And then it's just until Aubry's is rebuilt. I doubt that I can convince her to stay longer if she thinks that she can return to work.''

Dolly chuckled harshly, though his fingers continued their gently movements on my hair.

''Don't be so sure of that. Ria worked at Aubry's more out of obligation than actual enjoyment. She's worked there since she was quite a bit younger and the debt that she thinks that she owes to him has been paid off for a while. She has no reason to return. ''

I forced myself not to give myself away and speak up. Telling him that I did have a reason to come back. A few of them actually. I couldn't stand not seeing him and Niko again. And I knew that Salem had Toru, but he was still my brother and I would miss him. And Weasel, and Die too. I couldn't just leave them all behind.

I managed to stay quiet and almost smiled at Gaara's reply.

''You're wrong. Even if she doesn't want to return to Aubry's, she won't want to leave you and the rest of her 'family'. She loves all of you very much. Especially Niko.''

He knew me well.

Dolly's hand stilled, resting on the crown of my head.

''I'll be blunt with you. I had been hoping that my words would make you think that Ria had no reason to return and you would do everything in your power to keep her with you. But apparently she has you as charmed as she has the rest of us.''

He patted my cheek gently before speaking to me.

''Sit up, Dearheart. I know that you're not asleep, and what I'm about to say concerns you as well.''

I opened my eyes and grinned impishly.

''Hi, Dolly.''

He smiled back slightly, watching me sit up before turning back to Gaara.

''I was disappointed that Ria was going with you to Suna. But now I am thankful that she agreed.''

I stared at Dolly, knowing that something was wrong before he even spoke, his voice viscous

''Rosa is useless.''

I looked at him, surprised by the vehemence in his voice, glancing at Gaara and seeing his own disgusted look before swallowing and turning back to Dolly.

''Wh...What happened, Dolly?''

He made a disgusted noise and crossed his arms.

''What didn't? After you left she came storming into my study, shouting something about you being an awful child, and how she didn't want you at the house anymore. I couldn't understand most of what she was saying in the first place, but Niko was still in the room and I asked her if she would rather take the discussion to another room.

She didn't acknowledge that I had spoken and Niko had walked over to her, tugging on her skirt. Trying to calm her down...She raised her hand to strike him.''

My eyes widened and I fell onto my knees. '

'She hit Niko?''

The image of Rosa raising a hand to Niko was enough for my mind to stutter to a halt, before it returned with ideas about how to kill the woman and get rid of the body without worry of anyone finding her or linking me to her murder.

Dolly gave me a ghost of a smile before he shook his head.

''No, Dearheart. I caught her hand before she could even come close. You know how I feel about parents hitting their children in such a way.''

I nodded and Gaara snorted, his arms crossed over his chest as he scoffed.

''She hit Ria.''

My eyes widened and I shot him a glare before turning back to Dolly, finding a deadly glint in his eyes, his voice quiet.

''When?''

I twisted my fingers together, chuckling nervously.

''Not in a while. It was when you first brought her here...''

I trailed off at his look and bit my lip, knowing what he was going to ask before the words even left his mouth. He was just too used to my evasion games.

''And how many times did she hit you after that first time?''

I sighed and felt my shoulders slump, my head lowering in defeat.

''Every time that I was alone with her and called you Dolly. She was careful that the bruises wouldn't show.''

It was hard to look at either Dolly or Gaara as the blood lust in their eyes increased.

Dolly's hands clenched tightly and he was breathing deeply, keeping his anger under control.

''Why didn't you ever tell me about this?''

I shrugged and plucked at the blanket.

''I didn't want to cause any more problems between the two of you. And I was afraid that if I told you, you would have killed her.''

Dolly chuckled without humor.

''Oh no, dear. I would have made her suffer more than just death. If she wasn't dead now, she would wish that she was when I finished with her.''

My eyes widened and flew back to him as I grabbed his sleeve.

''What do you mean, 'if she wasn't dead now'? What happened, Dolly?''

He shrugged and tilted his head, his voice uncaring when he spoke.

''She went into labor this afternoon. All of the emotions that she allowed herself to feel caused her contractions to start. I went to get the doctor and by the time I came back she was already far along.

Because of the stress that she put on her body these past months, the baby was stillborn. Rosa bled out after having it.''

I bit my lip against the sudden tears and shook my head.

''I'm so sorry, Dolly.''

He shook his head.

''Don't be sorry, none of this is your fault. But that's not the reason that I wanted you to go to Suna: I've had to write Rosa's family about what has happened, and I know that they are going to be convinced that I killed her, and the baby.''

I frowned.

''But you wouldn't do that, kill the child I mean.''

He nodded slowly and shrugged lightly.

''But they won't believe that. And I don't want you drawn into this in any way, and knowing Rosa's family, they will try to place blame on everyone except for their beloved Rosa.''

Dolly sneered suddenly.

''What a pointless creature she was. The only redeeming thing she's ever done is give me Niko. Typical woman.''

I rolled my eyes and Dolly, pointed at me suddenly, his voice serious.

''You are never to become one of those women. You are to remain a girl forever.''

My laugh caught in my throat as I saw Gaara's eyes flash in the shadows, his voice cold as he spoke.

''And how exactly do you expect her to do that? Will you turn her into one of your puppets so she never ages?''

I shook my head and gave him a calming smile.

''No, Gaara. That's not what he meant at all. You've never heard Dolly's rant about how most women are inquisitive and annoying things. You can actually ask Sakura about that. She heard all about it when they fought.

What he meant about my staying a girl forever though, was that he never wants me to become like most women and do pointless or idiotic things. To think things through with my mind before allowing my emotions to decide for me...Isn't that right, Dolly?''

He nodded.

''That's right. I'm glad that you've remembered that lesson at least.''

He tilted his head, his eyes sparking even as his face remained expressionless.

''Though I have to admit that it would be interesting to turn you into a living puppet. ''

I smiled for a moment before Gaara's growl caught my attention and I shook my head, giving my guardian a slightly scolding smile.

''Careful, Dolly. Gaara isn't used to your way of teasing yet and doesn't understand your sense of humor.''

Dolly looked over at Gaara and nodded.

''So I see. Do not worry, young Kazekage. I have never had any intention of turning Ria into a puppet. She was the first person that I was able to watch grow from a young child to a young adult, and I found that I quite enjoy it.''

He shrugged.

''And I'm retired.''

I laughed and turned to face him completely.

''So, what are you and Niko going to do now? Are you going to stay in the same house?''

He nodded.

''I plan on it. Niko is still young enough that he'll start to forget about Rosa, and Deidara is planning on moving in.''

He rolled his eyes and continued almost hurriedly.

''I did not ask that of him, but I think that he misses having children around. Niko will also be able to spend more time with the twins. That's were he's at now. Staying the night at Itachi's.''

I nodded.

''Good. As much as you deny it, I know that you enjoy hanging around Die. And Rosa has kept him run off for a long time.''

Dolly nodded and frowned suddenly.

''I need to get everything prepared for the funeral. There wasn't much time to reach a coroner before now, and I left Rosa's body on her bed. I need to get rid of it before I retrieve Niko. I don't think that he will handle seeing his dead mother as well as Salem did.''

I shook my head.

''No, probably not. But speaking of Salem, have you you told him about all of this yet?''

Dolly nodded and shrugged, unconcerned.

''Of course. He's in his room and I talked to him before I came up here.''

I crossed my arms and glared at him, almost pouting.

''Why is it that every time something crucial happens, you tell Salem, before you tell me? It's always about someone dying, or about me. Ticks me off!''

Dolly chuckled and patted my head gently.

''I talk to him about you, because I value his opinion and insight. And I tell him about deaths first, because I know what he has been through and how well he can handle the gory details. It's his reaction to the stories that tell me how much I can tell you without causing you any nightmare or trauma.''

I huffed, still irritated.
''Of course Salem handles hearing about gory stuff better. I mean, he slaughtered his entire family. And the reason I wouldn't handle it well is because you and Die shielded me from any major bloodiness.''

Dolly nodded, his expression unrelenting.

''And I still believe that we did the right thing. Now give me a hug so that I can return home, and figure out how to deal with that stupid woman's body.''

I nodded and did as he said, hugging him tightly.

''Bye, Dolly. I would tell you to have fun but...''

He sighed and pulled away, rolling his eyes.

''I have always hated cleaning up other people's messes.''

He turned towards Gaara, his eyes serious.

''I've told you this once, and I will tell it to you again just to get the point across: You take good care of my girl.''

Gaara nodded and watched Dolly warily as the older male walked past him and out of the room.

He stared at the closed door for a few minutes before I spoke.

''Gaara?''

He turned towards me and I could still see the wariness and blood-lust lurking in his gaze, making me hesitate a moment before holding my arms out to him, forcing myself to relax against the headboard.

Gaara walked towards me slowly and, instead of crawling into my open arms like normal, sat on the bed in front of me. I frowned slightly, tilting my head as I let my arms fall to my sides.

''Why are you so angry, Gaara?''

He clenched his hands and shook his head, his breathing increasing slightly.

''That woman, was an awful person.''

I nodded encouragingly and he continued.

''I seem to agree with Sasori and would have liked to have killed her myself. I haven't killed anyone out of anger in so long, and I was beginning to think that I was slowly losing my lust for their blood. Apparently I was wrong. I just need for them to make me angry enough and I regress back to my old self. Wanting to make their blood fall to the ground like rain.

At this particular moment, I am finding it difficult to not go in search of some poor person, and using my sand coffin to squeeze the life from them. I know that they haven't done anything to deserve it, and that it's wrong for me to think that way. But I remember how calming and fulfilling that it is.''

He shook his head and clutched his head between his hands.

''It's not helping that I can still hear Shukaku reminding me of how much I used to enjoy the kill. How much I need to kill someone.''

I bit my lip and moved closer to him, pulling his hand from his face and catching sight of the wanting in his eyes. It frightened me a bit.

I swallowed and squeezed the hand that I held.

''Gaara, do you think that the extracted all of Shukaku from you?''

He looked at me in surprise before shrugging.

''I've never really thought about it. But I don't know. I though that they did. I don't hear him talking as much as I used too, and I don't really feel him anymore. And I can sleep without having him take over, so they must have extracted all of him. I think that this is just me.''

I shook my head.

''But what if they didn't? What if they got the most powerful part of him, but left a strong enough part that he's able to talk and send images to you?''

Gaara paused, looking thoughtful.

''I don't know. I can hear his voice, but that may just be my memories reminding me of the things he's said. It would be a relief if it was him making me think this way, but I'm seriously afraid that it's just me.''

He locked eyes with me and I saw that he was confused. I tugged on his hand and he willingly crawled into my arms this time, resting his head on my shoulder as I wrapped my arms around him, resting my head against his.

''Don't worry about it, hon. I know that you can handle it either way.''

He shrugged and raised his head to look up at me, necessarily changing the subject. ''What did you mean earlier when you said that Salem slaughtered his family?''

I frowned at him.
''Did I say that?''

He nodded.

''Yeah. When you were talking to Sasori earlier.''

I thought back and groaned. I had said that. Curse my habit of speaking before thinking things through.

I sighed and nodded.

''I guess I forgot to tell you about Salem's past, huh?''

He nodded and I sighed, speaking reluctantly.

''When Salem was younger, he wasn't able to tell the difference between dreams and reality.

One day he lost control of his mind and began to see his family as monsters that were trying to hurt him. He grabbed his fathers antique katana and began to slash through the monsters. It wasn't until all the monsters were dead, and he had calmed down, that he realized that he had killed his family.

Dolly and I found him sitting in a pool of his families blood.''

Gaara shook his head.
''If I hadn't seen him today, I would have never imagined him being able to kill anyone.''

I nodded.

''It's scary when he looses control like that. I've seen him a few times when we were younger and he was trying to get at the creatures that were bothering him. When he couldn't hurt them, he began to bash his head against the cave walls. He said that if he caused enough injury to himself, that his mind would focus on the pain and the images went away.''

Gaara frowned.

''That actually worked?''

I nodded.

''Yeah. Once he had collapsed to the ground, bleeding and bruised, he would calm down, going back to his normal self. He used to tease me about it. Saying that if he ever got out of control to just hit him over the head with a frying pan and he would go back to normal.''

I shook my head with a frown.

''I never did find that funny.''

Gaara smirked.

''And he still hallucinate like that?''

I nodded.

''Sometimes. Though it's not nearly as bad as when he was younger. Dolly's medicine helps a lot. He hasn't needed to hurt himself in a long time.''

He nodded and moved us to lie down, pulling me into his chest.

''Are you upset about Rosa?''

I frowned and shook my head.

''No. I know that I should be, but I can't force myself to feel sorry for her. I don't like that her stupidity hurt the baby, but it's hard for me to be attached to something that I had never even met before.

Though I was upset when Dolly told me that she almost hit Niko.''

I gritted my teeth at the thought and Gaara nodded.

''I know. I saw the intent to kill in your eyes. What were you thinking about?''

I snarled.

''How to get rid of the body.''

Gaara's eyes widened in surprise before a grin broke out across his face.

''You bury it, Love.''

I shook my head.

''They would find that too easily. I would probably use the hottest flames that I could and make sure that nothing was left but an undistinguishable smudge.''

Gaara's body began to shake and he pulled me closer.
''Oh, Ria, I love you.''

I looked up at him bewildered.

''I love you too, but I'm not sure why my plan to kill someone would make you say that.''

He smiled and shook his head.

''I don't know. I liked hearing how protective you are of the people you care about.''

I huffed in amusement and shook my head.

''You're weird sometimes, do you know that?''

He grinned and shrugged.

''As long as you love me, Ria, I don't mind being a little weird.''

I laughed and pulled his head down so I could kiss him.

''I do love you. And your weirdness is just one of the reasons that I do. You close yourself off from everyone else and they hardly get to see that side of you. I'm glad that I get to.

You become emotionless and cold when you're around other people.''

He nodded.

''I know. I don't like showing my emotions to others.''

I nodded and snuggled closer.

''I know. And that's fine. As long as you show them to me.''

He nodded and laid a kiss to my forehead.

''I try hard to not close myself off from you. Though I do find it difficult sometimes, it's not nearly as hard as it is with other people. Including my siblings.''

I nodded and relaxed against him, glad that we still had a little time to sleep.

''Why were you across the room when I woke up?''

He shrugged.

''I had to take Butterball outside, and when I came back into the room, I found Sasori waiting to talk to me.''

I nodded and sighed.

''Alright. Goodnight, hon.''

He nodded and cuddled me closer.

''Goodnight, Love. Sleep well.''

I nodded and wrapped one of my arms around his waist, not wanting him to leave me again, and soon I was sliding back into sleep.



//////////////


The next time I awoke, it was to Gaara laying kisses to my face and neck, causing me to hum lightly.

"Time to wake up, Love.''

I grumbled softly and wrapped my arms around him, pulling him closer.

"Uh uh. I don't wanna."

He nuzzled into my neck.

"I suppose that you could stay here."

I shook my head.

"Hm. Not unless you're going to stay here with me."

He smirked against my skin.

"Then you better get up, because I can't stay."

I sighed and pushed him so I could sit up.

He smirked at me and touched my hair.

"Your hair needs to be brushed again. Though that may not help with the fact that at the moment it is defying gravity."

I reached up and tried to smooth down the messy mass, but soon gave up with a sigh.

''Oh well. It will look more like a rats nest by the time we reach Suna, anyways. I'll just throw it up into a ponytail.''

He frowned.

''Would you like me to brush it before we go?''

I smiled and shook my head.

"No, hon. It would be a waste of time and would probably just make me want to go back to sleep."

I grinned.

"But if you still want to when we get to Suna, then I'll let you."

I sighed and stood from the warm bed instantly shivering.

''I blame you for this. Making me get up before the sun has time to heat my room.''

I shot him a glare over my shoulder before moving to grab a pair of traveling clothes and going to the bathroom to change my voice drifting back to him as I yelled.

"You just had to go back to be Kazekage. So of course we had to get up early and deal with the cold morning air."

I sent him a smile before closing the door, not waiting for his reply.

I got ready quickly, not wanting to keep him waiting and knowing that we would still have a long walk to Suna.

I finished putting my hair up and walked into the bedroom to find Gaara changed, wearing his gourd. I realized that I hadn't seen him wear it while he was here and I supposed that he felt out of place in a non-ninja village while wearing it.

I smiled at him when he looked at me and saw the teasing spark that entered his eyes.

A second later I felt sand wrapping around me and tossing me to the bed, causing me to yelp and look up to find Gaara hovering over me, a smirk on his face.

I tilted my head.

"You know if you wanted me to lay back down, all you had to do was say so.''

He shrugged.

"It was more fun to throw you though."

I rolled my eyes and shook my head.

"Well, since I'm back in bed, what do you plan on doing to me?"

He smirked and leaned closer, his lips brushing against mine.

"Well, I thought that I might...tickle you!"

I stared at him stupidly for a moment, my mind having drifted into a daze, but began struggling the instant I understood his words. He grinned as I tried to wriggle out of his arms and began to poke at my sides, causing me to squeal and thrash around, trying to get away from his hands.

He grabbed my wrists in one of his hands, pinning them to the bed while his other hand continued to dig into my ribs. I had tears streaming down my face and through their haze I saw Gaara grinning down at me.

He leaned down and licked my ear, causing me to laugh harder. I tried to speak but kept being interrupted by stray giggles.

"G..Gaara! St..Stop!''

He shook his head, and I found that I couldn't really catch my breath anymore, still trying to get away from him.

There was a hesitant knock on the door and Gaara stopped suddenly to glare at the offending noise. I smiled, thinking that the person on the other side could probably feel the heat of his gaze.

I was still giggling when Gaara swung himself off of me and went to wrench the door open, revealing a nervous Kankuro. Gaara growled at him and I had to put my recently released fist to my mouth to keep from laughing.

Kankuro looked nervously from Gaara, to me, and back again and I saw him swallow hard before he began to speak.

''Sorry, Gaara. But you said that you wanted to leave at 7:00, and it's 7:45 already. Unless you wanted to stay later...''

I finally took pity on the rambling boy and moved to stand beside Gaara.

"Don't worry about it, Kankuro. You just saved me from a merciless round of tickling, and Gaara would thank you for reminding him about the time if he wasn't pouting.''

Kankuro's eyes widened and Gaara sent me a glare before moving to retrieve our bags, handing mine to me.

I smiled at him before turning back to his brother.

"So what have you done with Misa?''

He shrugged uncaringly.

''She's downstairs saying goodbye to Mona."

My eyes widened.

"Is Salem down there?"

He nodded and I didn't wait for any more of a reply before pushing past him and running down the stairs. I was on the last step when I heard the enraged scream and the rush of water.

I burst into the living room to find a soaked Mona, Salem holding a water hose looking smug. Mona turned towards me, her eyes raging and her clothes dripping onto my wood floors. She pointed a trembling finger at Salem.

"That moron sprayed me! I came to say goodbye to you and Misa, but I can't stand to be in the same room for another minute. I'll see you when you get back.''

She sent a final glare towards Salem before walking out the front door, her clothes sopping.

I turned my attention back to Salem, finding him grinning and couldn't stop my own smirk from breaking out over my face.

"I thought that you were torturing her when I heard her yell."

He shook his head, chuckling lightly.

"Nope. Just sprayed her with the water hose."

I looked towards Misa and Toru, both sitting on the couch, their faces showing the same expression of surprise, their eyes wide. I laughed at them and motioned towards Toru when she looked at me.''

"Can I talk to you?''

She nodded and followed me to the other side of the room, looking nervously towards Salem. He looked between the two of us and I stuck my tongue out at him seeing him return the gesture before I turned back to Toru.

"Okay. First thing: Try to keep Salem away from Mona. Obviously they can't be trusted around the other. Second: I figure that you will be over here a lot, and I would prefer to have a house to come home too, so will you make sure that Salem doesn't burn it down?''

She nodded and I smiled.

"And try not to let Salem push you around. You don't have to do everything he says you know?''

She nodded and laughed.

"I'll try, Ria. Don't worry. I'll take good care of him, and the house."

I nodded, still smiling.

"Thanks, Toru. He deserves it."

She nodded and I moved towards Salem, Toru making her way back to the couch.

Salem frowned at me as I stopped beside him.

"What was that about?"

I shrugged.

"Just giving her some advice about how to deal with you.''

He chuckled.

"Anything that I should know about?"

I shook my head.

''Nope. Now are you going to give me a hug goodbye, or do I go to Suna without one?''

He grinned and wrapped me in a tight bear hug, lifting me off the floor and knocking the breath out of me.

I gasped and hit his shoulder.

"Put me down, you big brute, I can't breathe."

He laughed and lowered me back to the ground just as Gaara and Kankuro came into the room.

Salem grabbed my attention by a tug on my hair.

"You better come back, Little Sister. As soon as Aubry's is rebuilt. Otherwise, I'm going to come get you and drag you back by that rats nest you call hair.''

I laughed and shook my head.

"Yeah yeah. I'll be sure to remember that."

He nodded and pushed me to where I had dropped my bag, where Gaara was waiting patiently.

Kankuro was holding Butterball in one arm, the other wrapped around Misa.

I smiled at Gaara and grabbed my bag, letting him lead me from my house and out into the sunshine to make another trek to Suna.

Misa chattered endlessly on our walk and I let my mind wander, only listening to half of what she was saying, glad that we were almost to Suna and deciding that I was sick of walking through the blowing sand.

We had paused so we could shake some of the sand out of our shoes when Misa said something that caused me to stiffen.

"This trip is so much more fun than when we were walking home the last time. Don't you think, Ria?''

I nodded hurriedly, hoping that she would catch my warning looks and drop the subject. She didn't of course and giggled.

"I mean, we don't have that cranky messenger with us and I'm not sick.''

She nodded in satisfaction and stopped speaking.

I breathed a sigh of relief that suddenly caught in my throat as Kankuro spoke.

"Why were you sick?''

Misa smiled and I knew that she was going to be her normal self and explain every detail that had happened on the way home, causing me to sigh and grit my teeth, listening to her story.

"Well, I cried a lot before we left and hadn't been drinking enough water while we were in Suna, so I got dehydrated.

And then we weren't allowed to stop, so the desert heat made the dehydration worse, especially since I wasn't drinking anything while we walked.''

Gaara interrupted, his eyes narrowed.

"Why weren't you allowed to stop?''

She frowned, thinking hard, not realizing the warning signs that he was giving off.

"The man said that he wanted to get back to Suna quickly, because he was a ninja, not a babysitter.''

Gaara's arm that had wrapped around me tightened dangerously, pulled me closer to his side, his hand on my bruised hip and I was at least glad that he didn't notice my wince.

"So, even when he found out that you were sick, he didn't let you take a break?''

Misa shook head, still smiling.

"Oh, no. He didn't know that I was sick. Not at first at least. Ria confronted him and forced him to stop, letting us rest.''

She frowned.

"But then he grumbled something that made Salem angry, thought I'm not sure what it was, and I thought that he was going to strangle him.''

Misa turned her attention towards me.

"What did he say to you, Ria? I know that you were mad, and were going to say something back to him, but then Salem was there and holding the man off the ground by his neck.''

I nodded and bit my lip nervously, my eyes flickering around as I fiddled with my shirt. Gaara and Misa were both staring at me intently and I began to wring my hands.

"It...wasn't anything important. You know, Salem and I took care of it and I've left it in the past.''

Misa caught on to my hesitant answer and quickly switched the subject, shooting me an apologetic look. Kankuro followed her lead and joined into her conversation, but Gaara wasn't as easily distracted.

He pulled me closer and lowered his voice so that only I could hear him.

"Ria, my heart, I think that we need to have a talk when we reach my house.''

I stared at him pleadingly.

"Do we have to? It won't do any good and will only make you angry. And I prefer it when you are happy when I am around.''

He smiled slightly.

"I am always happy when I'm with you. But, Ria, I am the Kazekage and I need to make sure of the well being of my people.''

I nodded and grinned, using his words as an out.

"Alright. Well, your Messenger was upset that I made him stop, and then frightened when Salem tried to strangle him, but then got over it and was okay when he left. Mostly because he was glad to get away from us.''

Gaara nodded, a frown on his face.

"Fine. But that doesn't tell me how your well being was.''

I shrugged.

"I'm not from Suna though, Gaara. You aren't my Kazekage. You've got more important things to worry about than a small fight between myself and your messenger.''

His shoulders slumped suddenly and his eyes were sad as he looked at me.

"You don't want me to know about your problems or help you with them?''

I sighed and squeezed closer to his side, my shoulders slumping. With anyone else I would think that they were being manipulative, but in Gaara's case I knew that it was more that he thought I didn't trust him and it made me sad.

"It's not that, honey. Of course I would like to tell you about my problems, but concerning this, I'm afraid that you won't know how to separate your feelings of loving me from your duty of being Kazekage. That man didn't do anything that required punishment.

He was stating a personal opinion, and had it been any one else, you wouldn't care what he said. Especially since Salem and I handled it. The man apologized, and I see no reason on getting the Kazekage involved.''

He stared at me for a moment before nodding, his eyes curious.

"So if I promise not to see this as a matter for the Kazekage, will you tell me what happened, as your boyfriend?''

I bit my lip hesitantly.

"I don't know. I don't think it's possible for you to separate the two.''

He bit his own lip.

"Can we try at least? I don't like it when you have to keep things from me.''

I sighed, wanting to tell him that we shouldn't chance it, but couldn't get past how pleading his eyes had become. I was having trouble on not stopping in our walking and kissing him until he forgot what we were talking about.

I shook my head and sighed, he was cheating and he didn't even realize it.

I knew suddenly that if he ever looked at me in the way that he was looking at me now, it would be almost impossible for me to ever tell him no.

His face became confused and he squeezed my hip, forcing me to hide another wince.

"Is something wrong, Love?''

I shook my head, shaking away the hazy thoughts and smiled.

"No. I'm fine. I'll tell you about what happened if you really want me too. But we need to talk about it before we reach Suna. I don't want you to be close to him, in case you can't calm yourself down.''

He nodded and looked down to where he was holding Butterball, the panda beginning to squirm and I smiled.

"You better put him down. I think he has to go to the bathroom.''

Gaara made a disgusted noise and almost threw the poor panda to the ground, pointing and snarling at the passive animal.

"You are not going to pee on me again.''

I giggled as the panda simply shook out his fur and wandered off before I turned to look at Kankuro and Misa, finding my friend Misa sipping from her water bottle.

"Maybe we should all just take a bit longer. We should be seeing the gates soon anyways.''

Misa sighed in relief and I gave her a pointed look.

"Are you drinking lots of water?''

She nodded and gave me a small smile.

"As much as possible without having to go pee every thirty seconds.''

I nodded and pulled on Gaara's hand as Misa plopped down on the sand, Kankuro sitting next to her.

"C'mon, Gaara. I better tell you about what happened. We won't have a chance later.''

He nodded and let me lead him away from the others, moving out of earshot and I tugged him to the ground, a small sand dune hiding us partially from the other two.

"I had to threaten the man to get him to stop when Misa was sick. He wasn't happy about stopping and began ranting to himself, without really thinking about his words. He did apologize to me later, so I let it go, though he did say that he understood if I went to you to complain. Though I really never planned on telling you anything about it.''

I took a deep breath and shook my head before continuing.

"He said that just because I was screwing around with you, that I still had no right to tell him what to do...''

I trailed off as I saw the confused look on his face.

"What does 'screwing around' mean?''

I sighed and shook my head. The innocence of this boy.

"It's another word for having sex.''

His eyes widened and he nodded slowly.

"I've heard that expression a few times.''

I nodded and continued, thinking that maybe we could get around him being angry because he wouldn't exactly understand the name that the messenger had called me and tried to downplay it by keeping my voice light.

"Yeah. He just called me your whore and...it really wasn't that bad...''

My voice railed off again, cursing at myself as I looked at Gaara and realized that he at least recognized that term. His eyes were livid and he was visible seething as I touched his arm gently.

"Calm down, Gaara. He was just angry and didn't mean any of it. I told you that he apologized later for what he said.''

He took a deep breath, trying to swallow his anger.

"But he called you a...a whore.''

I nodded patiently, catching myself before I blurted out that I had been called worse.

"But he apologized.''

He shook his head, and I noticed that sand had begun to swish around us as his hands clenched, his eyes closing for a moment.

"You were right about me being angry. I'm having trouble with not transporting myself to Suna and burying him.''

I laughed unsteadily, nodding. Looking at the swishing sand.

"So I've noticed. But you can't do that, remember? You are the Kazekage and you killing someone that insulted your girlfriend, and then apologized of his own free will, would be looked down upon.''

He groaned and covered his face with one of his hands, his free arm wrapping around me and pulling me closer as he growled lowly.

He was having trouble controlling himself and I figured that it would be better if I helped take his mind off of it.

I sighed softly and tangled my hands in his hair, tugging his lips to mine. He stiffened for a moment before sighing into my mouth, his hand dropping from his face as he wrapped both arms around me, pulling me closer.

His lips moved against mine harshly and I groaned as he deepened the kiss and I forced my eyes to stay open until the sand stopped moving. As soon as it came to a rest, I let my eyes close and allowed myself to kiss him for another minute before pulling away.

He growled and chased my lips, barely brushing them.

I giggled breathlessly, Gaara moving back a bit to watch me gasp in air, his eyes intense.

The second that he thought I had enough breath, he slammed his lips back to mine and moved one of his hands to pull out my ponytail, tangling his hand in the released mass. He tilted my head, deepening the kiss further and I grimaced at the slight pulling of my hair, but let him continue without protesting.

After a while of though, I reluctantly pushed him away, receiving a glare, and I frowned as I noticed the strange gold tint in his eyes as his arms pulled me impossibly closer. If it hadn't been for his good balance, we would have tumbled to the sand.

"Stop pulling away from me. I want to finish kissing you.''

I giggled and slipped one of my hands from his hair to cup his cheek, my voice breathless as I spoke.

"You can't finish kissing me here. We're in the middle of the desert, with your brother and his girlfriend within eye shot.''

He growled again and I smiled comfortingly before continuing.

"But I'll tell you what: As soon as we get to your house, and into your room, I'll let you kiss me as much as you want, without stopping you for anything other than letting me breathe. Deal?''
He smirked, his eyes losing that golden spark, the aqua sparkling at me intensely.

"Promise?''

I nodded and he tightened his arms briefly, lowering his mouth to kiss me quickly before pulling away again.

"Deal.''

He untangled his arms and stood up, pulling me with him and leading me towards where Kankuro and Misa were still caught up in each other, hurrying them to begin our walking again.


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