The Akatsuki's Daughter

By Jeanaye Perkey

Romance / Humor

Chapter 31


I felt Gaara's arms sliding away from me carefully and I threw a leg over his, stopping his movements.

He sighed and stilled.

''I guess that I can't sneak off without waking you up, huh?''

I laughed softly and I shook my head, squinting open my eyes to look at him in the dim room.

''I'm not that tired.''

He nodded and smiled.

''Well, since you're awake, good morning.''

I yawned and stretched lightly.

''What time is it?''

I felt him shift and he shrugged.

''Around four in the morning.''

I groaned.

''We went to sleep at two.''

He nodded and I huffed.

''So why are you waking up so early?''

He shrugged and replaced his arms, pulling me closer.

''I was going to try to get some work done early, so I could maybe get back to you sooner. When I was in the office yesterday I saw all the paperwork that has accumulated on my desk.''

I sighed and nuzzled into his neck.

''I guess you better go then, huh?''

He nodded, tightening his arms.

''Guess so.''

He didn't move and I laughed, causing him to smirk and I leaned up to kiss the corner of his mouth.

''Would you like for me to spend lunch with you at the tower? I'm sure Temari would let me cook something to take to you.''

He nodded quickly.

''I would like that. That way I won't need to wonder what trouble you and Misa have gotten into.''

I giggled.

''We don't get into that much trouble.''

He snorted and shook his head, unconvinced.

''Sure you don't, Love.''

I smiled and shrugged, changing the subject.

''So what do you want for lunch?''

He thought for a moment before smiling hopefully.

''Chocolate chip pancakes?''

I laughed and shook my head.

''Seriously?''

He nodded quickly and I smiled.

''Okay. Chocolate chip pancakes it is.''

He smiled and relaxed.

''Good. Now I just have to wait until lunch.''

I shook my head and laughed.

''No. What you have to do first is get up and go to work.''

He groaned and rolled on top of me, nuzzling into my neck and grumbling softly.

''I don't want to get up now. You're awake and I don't want to leave you here.''

I laughed softly and he began to bite at my neck.

''Are we going to have to go through this every morning while I'm in Suna?''

He mumbled something that sounded like 'maybe' against my neck and I opened my mouth to scold him, only to have his mouth press against mine, cutting off my words.

I smiled and kissed him back, while slowly pushing us into a sitting position. I pulled away and Gaara looked around curiously before sighing, a small pout coming to his face.

''You are cruel, Love.''

I nodded and rubbed my nose against his.

''The sooner you start working, the sooner you get finished.''

He sighed and crawled out of bed, and I watched him gather his robes. Realizing that he must have felt my eyes on him, because he turned and smirked at me.

''Should I change in the bathroom, or would you be fine with me changing in here?''

I shrugged.

''It's your room, Gaara. You can change wherever you want.''

He frowned at me before moving to the far wall and pressing on it, causing a doorway to swing open and I gasped softly. I had never thought about where his bathroom was, but it never occurred to me that there was a secret door that led to it.

I was still staring at the secret door when Gaara came back out wearing his Kazekage robes, his gourd strapped onto his back.

I giggled lightly and he smirked at me.

''What's so funny?''

I shook my head.

''You look very professional, Gaara. I feel like I should be on my best behavior when you're dressed like that. Though, I have to admit that my best behavior would still be frowned upon by anyone with manners.''

He frowned and shook his head, rolling his eyes.

''I'd rather you act like you normally do. I deal with enough people that are on their best behavior around me. Whether it's because they're afraid or because I'm Kazekage. I'd rather you act normal.''

I smirked and crawled off the bed to move towards him, Gaara placing his hands on my hips when I reached him and causing me to smile up at him.

''I'm glad that you feel that way. 'Cause I'm not that great at being a proper chick.''

He smirked and bent to press a kiss to my forehead.

''I know that, Love.''

I stuck my tongue out at him before pushing out of his arms and moving towards the still opened the doorway, peeking inside curiously before oohing loudly as I stepped inside fully.

And I had thought that the other bathroom was big. This was gigantic.

The floor and counters were black marble. The sunken tub sitting in the center of the room, looking more like a small hot-tub than a bathtub, it's edges raised so you could lean your head back comfortably.

The shower stood in a corner of the room, completely made out of stone except for the glass door that was stained in black and white checkers.

Counters lined each side of the wall. One holding jack and jill sinks, the other just marble, both having large mirrors running across the back, making the room look even larger than it was.

A separate room held the toilet, a door closing it off from the bathing area.

I knew I was gaping and could feel Gaara's amusement from behind me as I shook my head, trying to find my voice.

''I never thought that I would see a bathroom this big in someones house.''

I turned to see him leaning again the door-frame, watching me in amusement, waving me further into the room and I squeaked as I caught my reflection in one of the long mirrors. I looked awful. More so than I normally did in the mornings.

My eyes were bloodshot, my cheeks raw from rubbing at them, and my unmanageable hair was sticking up in every direction imaginable. I groaned as I tried to run my fingers through the gnarled mess, wincing as I pulled at the knots.

Gaara walked into the room, grabbing something off of the counter before he came to stand behind me, and I suddenly felt the familiar tug of a brush, causing me to sigh.

''Gaara, you don't have time to brush my hair right now.''

He huffed.

''I am the Kazekage. I have time to do whatever I want. And right now, I want to brush your hair. Now relax so I can continue.''

I bit my lip and sighed, trying to do as he asked. Though it was hard when every pull of the brush tore out more of my hair.


//////////


Gaara finally set the brush on the counter in front of me, braiding my hair and I raised an eyebrow at him in the mirror, seeing him shrug.

''I've watched Temari braid her hair plenty of times and memorized the movements.''

I rolled my eyes and suddenly caught sight of a blue band around Gaara's wrist, where his sleeve had fallen back, causing me to laugh as I recognized my ponytail holder, seeing his sheepish smile.

''I couldn't just leave it on the ground, and I couldn't think of where else to put it. Then I just forgot about it.''

I giggled as I watched him wrap the ponytail holder around the braid and reached up to touch my hair, smiling as I caught a glance of the braid in the mirror.

''You did a good job. Much better than I could have done.''

He smirked smugly and nodded.

''I know. I told you that I studied how Temari braided her hair. It's common for a ninja to watch a jutsu and then copy it. Mimicking the braiding of hair was much easier.''

I shook my head and turned to kiss his cheek gently.

''Thank you, Gaara. It wont get as tangled this way.''

He nodded and I stretched.

''Aren't you supposed to be going to work now?''

He frowned and suddenly swooped down, throwing me over his shoulder causing me to squeal and crane my neck to look at him.

''What are you doing? I can walk you know?''

He shrugged, almost causing me to fall off his shoulder and began walking to his room, where he threw me onto the bed.

I 'oofed' and looked up, noticing that Gaara was hovering over me, his body shaking in his silent laughter, the corner of his eyes crinkling in amusement.

''I felt like carrying you back to bed. Since I know that's where you would have gone when I left anyways.''

I glared up at him and he kissed the tip of my nose, forcing me to fight down a smile at the cute gesture.

''Maybe you shouldn't seem so eager for me to leave next time. I won't have to carry you on my shoulder.''

I scoffed at him, feeling my amusement leave just as quickly as it came and he bent down to kiss me, causing me to growl and keep my lips still. He pulled back and pouted at me.

''So now you're not going to kiss me back?''

I glared, shaking my head and he huffed, rolling his eyes.

''I can make you, you know. Kiss me back, I mean.''

I raised an eyebrow and shook my head while he smirked and argued.

''Oh, Love. Yes, I can. I'll show you.''

He leaned towards me, again capturing my mouth and I sat rigidly, unwilling to let him prove me wrong.

He ran his hands over my sides before grabbing my hips tightly, causing me to gasp. He took that opportunity to deepen the kiss, one of his hands leaving my hip to cup my face, angling my head to where he wanted it.

I groaned softly and instinctively began to kiss him back, trying to match his pace. I felt him smirk and a few seconds later he pulled away, a smirk on his face.

I stared at him a moment, not understanding why he pulled away before groaning and slumping into the mattress.

''Fine. I guess you can make me kiss you back. You win.''

He nodded smugly and lowered his body to lay on top of mine, nuzzling my collarbone.

''I told you. So what's my prize for winning?''

I shrugged and brought a hand up to run through his hair.

''I don't know. What do you want?''

He was silent, his breathing steady and I found myself falling to sleep while I waited, his warmth enveloping me.

He sighed suddenly, dragging me out of my daze.

''Do you know what I really want?''

I shook my head and hummed.

''No, what?''

He sighed and wrapped his arms around me.

''I want to stay in bed with you all day, with no interruptions, and no jealous fangirls or windbags.''

I smiled softly and rubbed what I could of his back.

''Though I agree with that wish. I don't think that I can give it to you.''

He sighed and slumped against me.

''I know. It was just wishful thinking.''

I giggled and shook my head.

''It's good that you know, but you do realize that you still have to go to work? You will see me at lunch.''

He sighed and moved off of me.

''You're right. And I have all of that paperwork that needs to be looked over.''

I nodded and sat up, letting him kiss me roughly for a moment before I pulled back, smiling gently as I untangled his arms from around me.

''Have a good day, Gaara. I love you.''

He smiled and nodded.

''I love you too, my Ria. I'll see you at lunch.''

I nodded and watched as he moved towards the door, walked into the hallway and closed the door behind him.

I sighed and flopped backwards on the bed, savoring the warmth there and drawing the covers over me. I still had a while before I needed to get up and make Gaara's lunch. I could sleep a little longer.


////////




I was startled awake after what felt like just a few minutes after I had closed my eyes by a pounding by the bedroom door. I growled and climbed out of my warm cover cocoon and jerked open the door, finding a grinning Kankuro.

''Hey, Ria. Will you tell Gaara that he needs to go to work.''

His smile took on a perverted look.

''Unless, you wore him out so much last night that he decided to take the day off.''

I frowned and pushed some of my fallen hair from my face, my foggy brain trying to follow what he was saying. Once it finally processed what he meant, I snarled and glared.

''Look, Puppet Boy. Gaara and I haven't done anything like that, and for your information, he went to work early this morning.''

Kankuro blinked at me, his face stunned and I frowned. Did he not know that I had an attitude?

He chuckled and shook his head.

''Jeez, Ria. You're kinda cranky in the morning aren't you? So Gaara left this morning?''

I yawned and nodded.

''Yeah. Around four this morning. I'm supposed to take him something for lunch.''

Kankuro's perverted look came back and he snickered.

''So you're waiting to be in the Kazekage tower before you do anything? That wouldn't be my preferred spot, but I guess if hard surfaces is what you're into...''

I snarled, but before I could speak a retort there was a squeal and I was tackled, almost falling backwards by the weight that suddenly pushed against me, a loud voice speaking in my ear.

''Ria! Good-morning! How did you sleep? Aren't the beds here amazing!''

I groaned, trying to find my balance as I was clung to.

''Misa! Too early for happiness!''

She laughed and pulled away, her face split in a large grin.

''Aww. It's never to early for hugs and smiles.''

I sighed and pushed her towards Kankuro.

''Well hug you're boyfriend. I need to get dressed and make some lunch for Gaara.''

She nodded and Kankuro pulled her towards him, seeming amused by the girl's antics.

''If you want, Misa, and I can walk you to the Tower on our way to market. I'm taking her out today. There wasn't much that she got to see before it got too dark yesterday.''

I nodded and smiled lightly, still trying to wake up fully.

''Thank you. That would be nice. And will probably make Gaara feel better.''

Kankuro grinned impishly.

''I know. Why do you think I offered? I'm trying to get on his good side so I can ask him a favor.''

I laughed and Misa hit his arm.

''That's awful! You should be willing to help your brother without wanting something in return.''

Kankuro rolled his eyes and I smiled at the couple.

''I'll meet you two downstairs. Say in about fifteen minutes?''

Kankuro nodded and pulled the still chattering Misa towards his room, her voice echoing into the hallway even when the door was closed.

I shook my head and walked to my room so I could get ready for the day.


Five minutes later, I was in the kitchen, convincing Temari to let me cook. Which wasn't all that hard to tell the truth. Though she was a bit skeptical about the choice of food, her expression changed completely when I asked her if she would like to keep Butterball for the day.

She grinned and nodded quickly, throwing random containers into the lunch bag that I was supposed to take with me.

I bit my lip, wondering what concoction was inside before adding the containers of pancakes and syrup to the almost overflowing bag.

She smiled as I grabbed the heavy bag from the table and suddenly yelled for Kankuro.

I flinched at the loud noise and Kankuro came into the kitchen, Misa close behind him.

He glared at his sister and stuck a finger in his ear.

''Jeez, woman. Can't you use a less shrill voice? I think my ears are bleeding. I don't know how Shikamaru handles being in a room with you for more than ten minutes. You're so annoying.''

Temari glared back at him, her hands on her hips.

''At least I don't play with dolls like a three year old.''

Kankuro snarled at her, and Temari bent to grab Butterball, ignoring her brother's frown, reaching the kitchens door before Kankuro spoke again.

''They're puppets, not dolls. And they're used for fighting. The only thing you're voice is good for is causing all the ears around you to bleed.''

Temari threw a rude hand gesture at him, not even sparing him a glance, before walking out of the room.

I laughed and shook my head.

''She's gonna poison your food or something one day.''

He shrugged and nodded, grinning widely.

''I know. But she's my older sister, and I have to irritate her.''

I nodded and Misa smiled, grabbing onto Kankuro's hand.

''Are we ready to go?''

I turned towards Kankuro he shrugged.

''Sure. Let's get outta here before Temari comes back ready to hit me with that giant fan of hers.''

He laughed at his own joke and I flinched, imagining Temari beating him senseless. I wondered how much that had happened as I followed him out the door.


No one paid any attention to us as we walked the Suna streets.

Kankuro smiled and wrapped his arm around Misa's waist before placing his other arm around my shoulders.

''I feel like a pimp. I have a girl on each arm walking the streets.

I rolled my eyes and Misa giggled loudly, causing a few heads to turn our way before the people shrugged and looked away.

I frowned at their lack of interest, comparing it to the night before when all they did was stare. I suppose that it was just because they weren't used to someone walking with Gaara. They would just have to get used to that.

Kankuro moved his arm from my shoulders to push the tower door open and allowed Misa and I to enter the building first, walking up the long stairwell to stop in front of the sniffing man.

I frowned as I noticed him and he looked towards Kankuro first.

''Hello, Kankuro. Is there something that I can help you with?''

Kankuro nodded.

''Yeah. Is Gaara in his office?''

The man nodded.

''Yes. The Kazekage just got back from a meeting and doesn't have another until later this afternoon. Do you want to see him?''

Kankuro shook his head and pushed me towards the door.

''No. But Ria needs too.''

The sniffing man narrowed his eyes at me.

''Oh, it's you. I thought that you were gone. I do not know if the Kazekage wishes to see you.''

I glared at him but didn't get a chance to retort, as Kankuro's laugh grabbed the man's attention.

''He does. Trust me. If Ria, ever comes to see Gaara, just let her into his office. Even if he isn't in there. If you don't, you may be looking for another job.''

The mans eyes widened and he nodded, motioning for me to go through the door and I took a step before turning to smile at Kankuro and Misa.

''Thank you. I'll see you two later. Have fun.''

Kankuro smirked and I could have face palmed as I realized what I had said.

''Sure, Ria. You and Gaara have 'fun' too.''

I sighed and Misa giggled.

''Well...If it's the kind of 'fun' that I think you're talking about, Kankuro and I wont be doing anything even close to that. He's supposed to show me around more today.''

Kankuro's smile fell from his face and I laughed before waving bye and moving towards the door as the couple left the room.

I felt the secretary's eyes on me as I knocked on the door, hearing a grunt from inside that I took as permission to enter.

I pushed into the room quickly, closing the door just as quickly and forced back a giggle as I found Gaara surrounded by scrolls and paperwork.

He looked up, a glare on his face that instantly fell away when he saw me.

I set the bag on the floor and walked towards him, letting him pull me onto his lap when I was within arms distance.

I smiled and relaxed against him.

''How's your day been?''

He groaned and laid his head on my shoulder, nuzzling his nose into my neck.

''Boring. I've already had to deal with the windbags today, and I have another meeting with them later. Then the rest of the time, I have all this paperwork. Being Kazekage is just dull some days.''

I rolled my eyes and smiled.

''Whatever. You know that you enjoy it, no matter how dull.''

He nodded and shrugged.

''I do. Being Kazekage has it's benefits.''

He smirked against my skin.

''Like getting my way and having no one question my orders.''

He pulled away to glare at me, playfully, his lips tugging into a pout.

''Except for you.''

I laughed and nodded.

''Well, somebody needs to stand up to you sometimes and no one else seems to have the guts to do it.''

He grinned.

''But I can still convince you to do what I want...most of the time.''

I huffed and crossed my arms, sticking my tongue out at him before I spoke.

''That's because you cheat.''

His grin widened and he nodded.

''But, all's fair in love and war.''

I laughed and pretended to be be indignant.

''Hey, that's my line!''

He shrugged, still smiling.

''So what did you bring me for lunch?''

I rolled my eyes at the change of subject and left him to pick up the bag from where I dropped it before walking back to him and watching as he moved the papers out of the way, making a place to put the food.

I laughed as he sorted through all the papers.

''It looks like a blizzard of papers landed on your desk.''

Gaara shook his head in disgust.

''I hate paperwork. I didn't become the Kazekage to sit behind a desk and sign papers.''

I smiled teasingly and laid the bag on the now cleared wood.

''No. You became Kazekage to tell people what to do and to get your way all of the time.''

He snorted and began to rummage through the bag, looking curiously at all of the containers.

I shrugged and helped him pull them out, explaining as I did so.

''I don't know what most of these are. Temari put them in there.''

He flinched and began to throw them into the trash, causing me to frown.

''Aren't you even going to look at what the are?''

He shook his head.

''No. I don't want to know.

He reached for the containers that held the pancakes and I stopped him.

''You'll want that.''

He paused and opened the lid, placing them on the desk and frowning.

''Are you not going to eat?''

I shook my head.

''No. I'm not hungry.''

He turned a pout towards me.

''Does that mean that you just came to drop this off and now you're leaving me?''

I shook my head and smiled, rolling my eyes.

''No. I'll stay here as long as you want, but I'm not going to eat.''

He gave me a reproachful look.

''You'll be hungry in a little bit, though.''

I shrugged, unconcerned.

''I'll deal with it. You, on the other hand, need to eat. It's not like you can just leave to get something if you get hungry.''

He sighed and nodded.

''I probably wont be home until late.''

I smiled.

''I figured that. Especially now that I've seen all of this paperwork.''

He sighed again and reached out to pull me back onto his lap, wrapping both arms around me when I had settled against him.

''I'm sorry that I'm not spending time with you.''

I scoffed and gave him a pointed look.

''Honey, you are spending time with me. What do you call what we're doing right now? You're definitely not ignoring me.''

He shook his head.

''But I won't see you until late tonight.''

I shrugged.

''But you will see me. And if tomorrow is anything like this morning, I'll see you then too.''

I smiled impishly.

''Don't worry so much. If I feel like you're not paying enough attention to me, I'll make sure to do something to get your attention.''

He smirked, his eyes lighting suddenly.

''What would you do to get my attention?''

I grinned and raised my chin into the air primly.

''I'm not telling you. It's my little secret.''

He frowned.

''Well, maybe I should ignore you, just to see what you would do.''

I shook my head and laughed.

''I don't think that you could. You like holding and kissing me too much.''

He nodded and shrugged, giving in easily.

''You're right. And speaking of kissing you, I haven't done that since you've been here.''

I smiled and he pulled me to him tightly, pressing his lips to mine and causing me to sigh as I tangled my hands in his hair, shifting suddenly so that I could straddle his lap and press myself closer.

He tightened his arms, deepening the kiss, only to have me pull away as someone knocked on the office door.

He groaned and placed his head on my shoulder, his voice slightly rougher.

''There's someone at my door, isn't there?''

I nodded and slid off his lap, causing him to pout at me.

''I liked you like that.''

I rolled my eyes and moved to sit on the couch in the corner of the room, ignoring the lingering looks that Gaara was sending me.

He sighed after a moment and raised his voice, telling the person to enter. The sniffing man coming into the room and bowing lowly as he spoke.

''Kazekage-sama, Matsuri is here, wanting to know if you would like to go with her to lunch.''

Gaara shook his head.

''Please tell her that I am extremely busy and must decline.''

The secretary nodded and looked around the room curiously before spotting me on the couch. He nodded slightly, seemingly pleased with himself before leaving again, closing the door behind him softly. I turned to Gaara after he was gone and gave him a strange look.

''You're secretary is weird.''

Gaara nodded and took a bite of pancake, humming around his mouthful

''He was trying to figure out where you had gone. He prides himself on being observant. I don't know what he would have done if you had slipped out without him noticing.''

I nodded, shaking my head slightly.

''Yeah, like I said: Weird.''

He nodded and took another bite, the door flying open only a second later and a livid Matsuri flew into the room.

Gaara glared and set the container he was holding on the desk, his voice unamussed.

''Is there a reason why you busted into my office?''

Matsuri placed her hands on her hips, glaring.

''I wanted to make sure that you actually told your secretary that you were too busy to have lunch with me.''

Gaara waved to the stacks of paperwork, his voice cold as he spoke.

''Are you sure now? I am extremely busy and don't have time to leave my office for anything less than an emergency.''

She nodded, looking ashamed of herself, her shoulders slumping.

''I'm sorry, Kazekage-Sensei. I let my emotions get the better of me, again. I have something that I would like to discuss with you, but I will come back later.''

Gaara nodded, his eyes hardening and his voice pure ice.

''One thing before you go. Do not ever burst into my office again. I am your Kazekage and that is not the proper respect that you should show me. Understand?''

Matsuri nodded and gulped.

''Of course, Kazekage-Sensei. I am sorry that I barged in without permission.''

Gaara nodded and turned his attention towards his paperwork.

''You are dismissed then.''

She nodded and bowed lowly, hurrying out of the room.

I waited until the footsteps faded before turning back towards Gaara, frowning harshly.

''I do not want to be here when she comes back.''

Gaara frowned at me, his forehead creasing.

''Why do you say that?''

I shook my head and walked towards him. He scooted his chair back, expecting me to sit on his lap and he pouted when I placed myself on the cleared spot on his desk instead. I smiled gently as he pushed the chair back towards the desk and I began to run my fingers through his hair as I explained.

''She's going to tell you that she loves you. I don't want to be in the room when she does.''

He gave me an irritated look and yanked me off the desk, so I again straddled his lap, his voice irritated.

''I thought that we had already talked about this and I had convinced you that I don't love her.''

I smiled and rolled my eyes.

''It's not that. You were very convincing and I believe you. It's just that, that's something private and I don't want to witness it. It would be embarrassing...for everyone.''

He nodded and smirked after a moment, his voice impish.

''So I'm convincing, am I?''

I snorted and rolled my eyes.

''You know that you are. You don't me to confirm that.''

He smiled and nipped at my chin gently, a gleam in his eyes as he pulled back.

''Can I convince you to kiss me then?''

I smiled and wrapped my arms around his neck, shifting to pull myself closer to him.

''Fine. But what about your lunch?''

He shrugged. Unconcerned.

''I'm not that hungry right now.''

I laughed, but was cut off quickly as Gaara's mouth collided with mine.



////////


I allowed Gaara to kiss me for a bit longer before pushing on his chest and forcing him to eat. He pouted for a few minutes, but finally reached for the now cold pancakes, speaking with a sigh.

''I have a meeting in about ten minutes. And I guess I wont have time to eat later.''

He tightened his arms around me when I tried to move, giving me a pointed look.

''But, I'd prefer it if you stayed where you are.''

I rolled my eyes and nodded.

''Fine. As long as you eat.''

He nodded in agreement and I shifted until I could sit sideways across his lap, leaning my head against his chest, listening to his heartbeat as he scarfed his food, throwing it back into the bag when he was finished and wrapping his arms around me. I let him hold me for a bit longer before pulling myself from his arms and standing slowly, shaking out my legs, seeing his small frown.

''You have a meeting.''

He sighed and slumped into his chair.

''Stupid meeting. Does this mean that you're leaving me now?''

I nodded gently.

''I probably need too.''

He frowned, his eyes narrowing.

''Are you going to be walking home alone?''

I rolled my eyes and nodded.

''Yeah, Gaara. I'll be walking alone. It's not like there's a whole lot that can happen in between here and there.''

He still looked worried and I sighed, speaking convincingly.

''I'll be fine, Gaara. I can take care of myself.''

He shrugged, not looking convinced.

''Still, I think that I'll make sure that you get to my house without any trouble.''

I frowned in confusion, tilting my head to the side.

''How are you going to do that? You have a meeting soon and can't walk with me.''

He smirked secretively.

''I don't have too. It's the jutsu that I told you about. The one that let me know when Misa got pulled into someones lap.''

His smirk widened.

''Would you like to see?''

I nodded quickly and he did a few hand signs before covering one of his eyes. He pointed behind me with his free hand and I turned to find an eyeball staring at me. I yelped in surprise and fell backwards, landing gracelessly on Gaara's lap.

He 'oofed' and wrapped his arms around me, holding me still and I turned to find both of his eyes staring at me in concern.

''Are you alright, Love?''

I smiled sheepishly and nodded.

''Yeah, I'm fine. Your jutsu startled me. I wasn't expecting to see an disembodied eye staring at me. Sorry.

He smirked and tightened his arms briefly.

''Well, you're being startled got you back onto my lap, so I'm fine with this.''

I rolled my eyes and kissed him quickly before untangling myself and standing again, grabbing the bag.

''I really need to get out of here. Otherwise I'll make you late, and that probably wouldn't go over so well with your windbags accepting me here.''

He grimaced and I frowned.

''Is something wrong?''

He shrugged and stood from his chair, explaining as he stretched.

''The meeting I had last night, the one that Matsuri came to get me for, was about their view of you. That woman you met at the park got to her father sooner than I expected.''

I bit my lip, nervous suddenly.

''Wh...What did they say?''

Gaara shook his head and bent to kiss my forehead gently.

''I don't have enough time to tell you right now. But I'll explain it to you tonight when I get home. Alright?''

I nodded and kissed his lips quickly.

''Of course. I'll see you tonight then.''

He nodded, his eyes suddenly serious.

''I'll know if you need me. But still...be careful.''

I nodded and moved towards the door, only to be stopped by Gaara's voice.

''I love you, Ria.''

I smiled over my shoulder and blew him a kiss.

''Love you too, hon. I'll see you tonight.''

His smile was the last thing that I saw before I closed the door and left the tower.

Though I hadn't shown it to Gaara, I was a little nervous of walking the Suna streets alone. The thought of being around all of those people made my skin itch and my heart pound uncomfortably.

I peeked out into the bright sunlight, finding that the streets were mostly clear, and calmly began walking towards his house, ignoring the feel of eyes on me, thinking that it was Gaara's jutsu.

After a few minutes, I felt a prickling at the back of my neck, my instincts warning me that something had changed and I forced myself to walk slowly when they were telling me to run, to get away from the suddenly hostile atmosphere.

I hesitated before passing by an alley right before Gaara's house, one that I hadn't noticed before. I wasn't sure of how to bypass it and instead took a deep breath, lifted my head high, and walked as calmly as possible past, only to be grabbed by harsh hands and pulled inside.

I forced myself to not react without seeing who the person was, not I wanting to hurt someone unless they actually meant me harm.

I looked at the person and sighed as I locked eyes with Matsuri, seeing her glaring at me, her eyes puffy and red.

As soon as I was in the shadows of the alleyway she dropped my arm and took a step away.

I sighed, not really wanting to deal with her today. And I really didn't want to have a physical fight with her.

She crossed her arms over her chest and I leaned against the wall, waiting for her to speak.

''You're in love with Kazekage-Sensei, aren't you?''

I nodded, refusing to hesitate.

''Yes, I am. Very much.''

Her glare hardened and suddenly reminded me of a certain red head that had better be in his meeting.

''I don't like it.''

I blinked at the girl and shrugged.

''Well, I'm sorry that you feel that way, but truthfully, I don't think that you get a say in who I love or not. Nor does it really matter whether you like it or not.''

She took in a deep breath, calming herself before speaking.

''I'm in love with him too. And I love him more than you. You barely know him, but I've been with him for years. I've see the things that he can do and I'm not afraid of him.''

She paused, whispering under her breath.

'' Not much anyways.''

She shook her head and continued.

''I will talk to him when he get's out of his meeting, and I can almost promise you that when it comes to a choice between the two of us, he will choose me.''

I sighed and let her continue to rant, feeling worn out and glad for the wall against my back.

''I'm sure that when I tell him how I feel, that he will love me back. I don't think he really cares about you. He acts the same when you're around as he does when you're not. People in love act differently than people that aren't. And let me tell you, Ria: Gaara still acts like he hates the world either way.''

I didn't reply to that, though my mind was screaming that she was wrong. When I was with him, Gaara acted like the world didn't exist and no one was watching us,his eyes lighting in a way that I had never seen before.

Matsuri shrugged, her chin raised into the air snidely.

''I think that you should just go back to that gutter that you call a home. I'm sure you won't have any trouble finding your way back.''

I drew in a harsh breath, suddenly unable to hold back my temper.

''Okay. I can understand that you're angry at me. But don't you ever, and I mean ever, refer badly to my home again! You have no idea where I'm from, or what it's like there, so shut-up!''

I could feel my body heating violently and the flames tingling at my skin, though I held them back stubbornly. It wouldn't do either of us any good to burn the girl to cinders. Though at the moment, I knew that it would make me feel better.

Her eyes widened and I tried to calm myself before speaking, clenching my hands into fists as I tried to regain my calm.

''Look. Just go back to Gaara, and if he says that he wants to be with you then I will pack my bags, leave, and never bother the two of you again.''

I saw the relieved look on her face and hurried to continue.

''But he has to tell me he loves you himself. I learned a long time ago not to believe that someone doesn't love me, unless that person tells me themselves. So you make sure that he tells me.''

I stared at her a moment, before turning my back on her and walking quickly out of the alley and into the Kazekage Mansion.

I sighed as the door closed and leaned against it heavily, needing it's support.

I don't know how long I stayed there, but that's how Temari found me, almost dropping Butterball when she caught sight of my face, instantly rushing towards me.

''Ria! Are you alright?''

I smiled weekly and nodded.

''Yeah. I just didn't realize when I started dating your brother that I would have to deal with lovesick fangirls.''

Temari sighed and closed her eyes, her voice weary when she spoke.

''You met Matsuri?''

I nodded and pushed away from the door, rolling my shoulders tiredly.

''Yeah. Though I think that I scared her a bit. She looked a bit shaken when I lost my temper.''

Temari raised an eyebrow, not seeming to believe my words.

''You lost your temper?''

I nodded and snickered.

''Kinda. Though it wasn't that bad. Normally if I seriously loose my temper I start screaming and burning stuff... or I cry.''

Temari laughed and shook my head, still seeming to not believe that I was able to become angry.

''Well, I'll have to make sure that I don't make you angry. I don't want to get burned...or make you cry.''

I rolled my eyes and shook my head with a smile.

''I'll try not to lose my temper THAT badly.''

Temari nodded and smiled.

''Changing the subject, are you hungry?''

I shook my head and sighed.

''Not really. I kinda lost my appetite.''

Her smiled softened and she nodded.

''Alright. But I have something in the kitchen that I think you'll want to see.''

I nodded and let her lead me to the kitchen, pausing as I noticed the stack of books on the table, tilting my head questioningly as Temari turned back to me with a smile, waving a hand at the books.

''I went rummaging through the attic today, and found some old photo albums. I thought that you might want to see them. You can see how cute we all were when we were little.''

She winked at me and I laughed as she placed Butterball on the floor, smiling at me brightly.

''I have to go shopping right now. But if you have any questions about the pictures, just pull them out and ask me when I get back, okay?''

I nodded and smiled gently.

''Okay. Thank you.''

She nodded, returning my smile, and after a brief goodbye, walked out the kitchen door.

I waited till the door closed behind her before rushing to the table, flopping down into a chair and flipping open the first album.

On the first page was a picture of a baby. The writing next to it read 'Gaara, one hour old.' He already had a mess of red hair and his eyes that were a deeper shade of blue than he sported now.

I looked down the page and saw a young, blond woman with a round belly, smiling at the camera, and holding the hands of whom I thought were young Kankuro and Temari. This picture wasn't labeled, but I could take a guess about who the woman was.

I looked closer at the picture and found characteristics of all three sibling in her. Though Temari favored her the most, Kankuro had her nose, and Gaara had her smile. It was far too sweet for me to handle.

I smiled sadly and turned the page.

The first picture was of a brown haired man in the Kazekage robes and I figured that this must be the siblings father, and previous Kazekage. I frowned as I looked at him, finding that, though Kankuro had his hair and eyes, Temari and Gaara didn't look a lot like him at all.

I leaned closer, looking at the glaring eyes and shivered slightly. There was something cruel about his eyes that set me instantly on edge. I shook my head and went to the next picture, finding a man that looked like Gaara's mom. The infamous uncle.

I narrowed my eyes, searching for any indication that he was able to do or say the terrible things that he had said to Gaara and frowned when I saw nothing but kindness in the soft smile.

I shrugged and moved to the next picture, 'awing' as I saw the picture of a two-year-old Gaara in a crib. His eyes were already rimmed in the dark circles, telling me that even then he wasn't allowed to sleep and I felt like I wanted to reach into the picture and cuddle him. So cute.

I turned the page and in this photo he was around 5 or 6, the adorableness causing me to giggle happily.

He was grinning, holding his teddy bear close to his chest and I continued to smile as I looked at the next picture, expecting him to be the same happy child, only to lose my smile and suck in a quick breath at what I saw.

He seemed to be the same age as in the last picture, but he was not longer smiling. Instead he was splattered with blood, his hair matted together as blood streaked down his face. His glare that I was used to was turned towards the cameras and he held the cork to his gourd in a hand.

I took a deep breath before turning the page, finding not only Gaara, but his siblings and an older man that had half of his face covered. All three looked terrified of Gaara, their shoulders stiff in the picture, their bodies visibly leaned away from him.

Gaara himself had his arms crossed tightly and glared at the camera, looking as if he was preparing to kill the person behind it.

I frowned unhappily and wasn't as quick to turn the page this time, already knowing that there wouldn't be any happy pictures from that point on.

The next picture was of a twelve year old Gaara, his eyes filled with a hatred that none of the other pictures had held. This picture was closer up and I gasped as I got a closer look at his eyes, quickly glancing over the other pictures before leaning back against the chair, biting hard at my bottom lip.

In all of the photos, there was a tint of gold in the normal aqua. Gold that I had caught sight of a few times since I met him. But I had just brushed it off.

I thought back to the times I had seen it, my eyes widening and my breath stilling. It was always when he was severely agitated, or when he was so angry that he wanted to kill someone.

I groaned and placed my head in my hands. I had been right: They hadn't extracted all of Shukaku. That gold in Gaara's eyes was the small part of Shukaku that was peeking through. He had been regenerating since the run in with the Akatsuki and too weak to torment Gaara. But it seemed that he was now well rested and was trying to convince Gaara to kill again.

That was probably what would make him strong again. The murdering.

I sighed and stood up, grabbing the album. I would need to tell Gaara about this. I just hoped that I could convince him that I was right.

I shook my head and walked up the stairs, my stride slow, the panda following behind me slowly.


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