The Akatsuki's Daughter

Chapter 33


Several months passed quickly, without anything spectacular happening. All of us seeming to fall into a routine rather quickly that I didn't think we had expected.

Kankuro and Misa spent most of their time together, except when he was sent out on missions, which Gaara had tried to keep small so that his brother could spend as much time with my overly rambunctious friend as possible...she had the habit of bursting into Gaara's room when Kankuro wasn't home and jumping on the bed to wake me up. On several occasions, Gaara had been lying in the bed as well and had actually yelped as she had landed on him. Needless to say, he was less than amused...which just caused me to laugh, Misa joining in with her own giggles, neither of us being frightened of his hate filled glares. We just spent too much time around Rogue Ninja's and dangerous people for it to affect us much.

Gaara typically went to the Kazekage Tower, sometimes convincing me to have lunch with him, and other times I wouldn't see him until it was dark outside, his eyes tired and his shoulders slumped when he walked through the door. Though he always seemed to perk up when he saw me, giving me a tired smile before I led him to the kitchen and got him some food.

I had taken control over the kitchen and the meals, Temari seeming relieved to not have to do so much anymore. Both Misa and I trying to go with her when she went food shopping to help lighten her stress a little more. She enjoyed the company, becoming more outgoing the more time that we spent with her.

At the moment, Temari had been sent to the leaf to deliver some scrolls and wasn't supposed to be back for another week. So I was taking advantage of her absence, trying to teach Misa how to cook.

She truthfully did well if it was something quick, and she actually paid attention to the instructions and didn't daydream. But if I set her to baking or something that took more than ten minutes, she needed a timer or she would forget about it and let it burn.

At the moment we were baking cookies, since I had promised Gaara that morning that he would have some when he got home. I had, somehow, convinced Misa that we needed to stay in the kitchen to make sure that they didn't burn.

I sighed as she began to fidget and rubbed at a knot in my neck.

''So what do you think we should make for dinner?''

Misa shrugged and went to the pantry, speaking as she stood halfway in the small room.

''I don't know. Kankuro said that he's beginning to like ramen. Do we have the stuff for that?''

I nodded and gave her the recipe that I had found from a cookbook.

''Yeah. Just pull these ingredients out and we'll get started.''

She nodded hurriedly and I turned to pull the cookies out of the oven, pausing when I felt an eerie feeling settle over me, casually glancing to the side and seeing a shadow moving towards me.

I stepped to the side just as a fist swung forwards, the hand hitting the stove where I had been standing a moment before, a dent in the hard metal.

I turned and found a man glaring at me, crossing my arms as I tried to keep my voice light, raising an eyebrow.

''Can I help you?''

He nodded and stepped towards me causing me to scamper away from him and I gave him a glare.

''I think that you're in the wrong house and you need to leave.''

He smirked and raised his hands in a deceptively peaceful manner.

''Listen. I don't want to hurt you. So, why don't you just come with me peacefully and I wont have to damage that pretty face of yours.''

I raised an eyebrow and snorted.

''I'm not going anywhere with you.''

He shrugged and moved towards me.

''Then I'll have to drag you away by force.''

I frowned and grabbed the cookie sheet, hitting him in the side of the head as he charged towards me. He yelled as the solid, hot metal met with his head and I saw another man enter through the living room and Misa throw a bag of flour at him as she came out of the pantry.

He growled and moved towards her, while I snarled and went to help her, letting some flames flow to the surface, throwing them at the man. He screamed and Misa took that opportunity to scratch at his eyes, causing his screams to increase.

I turned back to the man that had attacked me as he stumbled to his feet, holding his burnt face.

He roared and lunged towards me, a kunai in his hand. I danced away and landed a punch to his unprotected stomach, making sure that flames surrounded my fist.

He roared and I danced away again as he swung the kunai. It took a moment to realize that he had faked to the left and I yelped as the blade of the kunai sliced through the skin of my arm.

I grabbed the skillet from the counter and swung at the man. He evaded me and I growled, suddenly wondering why I had never let Dolly teach me some defense moves against ninja's, before I shot flames at the man's eyes and he yelped, putting an arm up to shield his face. I took his sudden distraction and swung the skillet hard, catching him in the temple.

He fell to the floor, clutching his head and I ran over to Misa who was pushing the man she was fighting away with air blasts. I hit the man with the skillet, catching his shoulder. He snarled and clutched his shoulder, turning towards me as Misa sent a blast of razor sharp wind towards him, cutting his skin and he yelled.

I tried to move towards her, but was suddenly grabbed around the waist and thrown into the wall, a fist connecting with my stomach. I gasped and fell to the floor, dropping my skillet and clutching at my stomach, only to have the man kick me in the ribs. I screamed and let the flames envelope me, shooting them at the man, letting them crawl up his legs and set his clothes on fire.

He screamed and began to run into the walls, trying to put out the fires.

I stumbled to my feet, finding Misa being pinned to the wall and being hit repeatedly. I stumbled towards her and grabbed the man by his long hair, yanking on it harshly and setting it on fire.

He screamed and I ignored the smell of burnt hair as I grabbed Misa's hand, pulling her towards the open door, gasping past my hurt ribs.

''We gotta go. We can't stay in here.''

She nodded and we ran as fast as possible outside. Misa gasped, and held her arm, which was twisted at a strange angle.

''Where are we going?''

I shrugged and growled as my ribs throbbed.

''Somewhere with ninja's. I don't know if we can make it to the Kazekage tower.''

She nodded and we suddenly found ourselves close to the market, slowly being surrounded by men, forcing us into a stop.

I bit my lip and Misa whimpered.

''I'm hurt, Ria.''

I nodded and pulled her behind me.

''I know, Misa. But we can't just let them win without a fight. Just stay close to me, okay?''

She nodded and I took a deep breath before letting a ring of white fire spread out from around Misa and I, flying towards the men that were closing in on us. I heard multiple screams, not aware that I had closed my eyes and wrinkled my nose as the smell of burnt flesh reached me.

I opened my eyes, finding a gap in between the men, a few having fallen away screaming at their burns. I pushed Misa towards the gap.

''Run, Misa!''

She took off, limping slightly and I moved to follow her.

I was almost to the gap between the men when I was suddenly jerked to a stop, somebody grabbing onto my hair and pulling hard, jerking me backwards and off of my feet.

I saw Misa pause and tried to shake my head, my hair still being held tightly.

''No, Misa. Run!''

She paused but nodded, running towards the tower. I was surrounded and somebody reached down only to have their hands burned. They yelped and I was suddenly being kicked and hit rapidly. Somebody stomped on my arm and I screamed as the bone snapped.

I felt myself slipping into unconsciousness, but forced myself to listen as they spoke. ''What do we do about the other one?''

Another voice answered.

''She doesn't matter. We were sent to get the Kazekage's girlfriend. That other girl isn't necessary.''

There was a movement and I was suddenly swung over someones shoulder, causing all of my shattered bones to move and I screamed before a hand at my neck sent me into darkness.


/////////


I woke up and whimpered as my body ached.

I opened my eyes and had to blink a few times to clear the haze, my gaze blurry and my head pounding, trying to move my arms so I could rub at my eyes, and yelped as my left arm screamed at me. I was instantly alert and took a deep breath to calm my panic as I looked over myself, finding that my right arm was chained to the wall and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't pull my wrist from the iron cuff.

I heard the door to my left open and turned my head towards the sound. A man of about 28 came towards me and kneeling a few feet away. He studied me closely and I did the same to him, refusing to flinch away.

He had gray eyes and a nice enough looking face. His sandy hair was cut short and he had a slight build. Nothing like the men that had attacked Misa and I.

He smiled, showing of straight, white teeth but it didn't reach his eyes.

''Hello, there. You gave my men quite a time today didn't you?''

I nodded and he frowned.

''I'll unlock that chain if you promise not to run away.''

I blinked, not answering and he sighed, shrugging lightly.

''You're truthfully hurt so bad that I would be surprised if you could even walk without the adrenaline, much less run.''

He reached above me and unlocked the chain and I let my arm fall to my lap. It was too bad that I was too tired to summon any fire, or I could have killed this guy and left.

He smirked and sat a few feet away.

''I would have preferred if you weren't hurt as bad off as you are. It'll be hard to sell you with the way your face looks. But I suppose that that's not my problem.''

My eyes widened and he chuckled as I winced, noticing for the first time that one of my eyes was swollen.

He stood up and moved to lean against the wall across from me.

''You're probably wondering why I've done this, right?''

I nodded and he shrugged.

''I'm a business man. Understand that this is nothing personal. I have nothing against you or the Kazekage. But the men that keep me out of trouble do. So they contacted me, wanting me to get rid of you. In exchange, I can walk through Suna and multiple other places without worrying about getting taken into custody.''

He shrugged.

''It took me a few days to figure out what to do with you. I'm against killing women. Especially young women like you. So I contacted a couple of men who agreed to sell you. They get to keep the money they make off of you, and I get to keep walking the streets like a normal person.''

I groaned and tried to force my abused body to move, only to bite back a scream as I felt my broken ribs push against my side and through my skin.

The man sighed and went to the door, opening it and yelling at someone.

''Are they here yet?''

There was a muffled reply and the man came back in, followed by two hooded men. The shorter man gasped and I suddenly felt a hand on my cheek. I flinched away, instantly regretting the action as my ribs pushed further out of my side.

The man next to me groaned and turned his head towards the other cloaked man.

''She's hurt bad.''

I opened my eyes instantly. I knew that voice. I looked up at the cloaked man and smiled as he pushed the hood from his hair.

''Well, hi there, Dristan. 'Magin meetin' you in a place like this.''

He chuckled at my fake southern accent and moved the hair from my face.

''Hey there, Ria. You look like crap.''

I tried to laugh, but wound up grasping my side and groaning, the pain making me feel a bit nauseous.

''Ugh. Don't make me laugh.''

Dristan bit his lip and turned to the other man, who I figured was Ash.

''What're we going to do?''

Ash pushed back his hood and I saw a dangerous look on his face as he turned towards my captor.

''What do you expect us to do with her? We can't sell her, and even if we didn't know her, the condition that she's in wouldn't be worth the risk.''

The man huffed and crossed his arms.

''That isn't my problem now. Just get her out of Suna before the Kazekage finds her.''

Dristan frowned.

''Why would the Kazekage care if a visitor went missing?''

I smiled lightly and shrugged carefully, finding that my left arm couldn't move even at the shoulder.

''He didn't tell you much did he?''

Dristan frowned and Ash groaned, rubbing his face wearily.

''Aubry said something about Misa and Ria dating powerful ninjas in Suna.''

He looked at me. ''Don't tell me that you are dating the Kazekage?''

I smiled and he groaned again before Dristan laughed.

''You would go for the best, Ria.''

I nodded and Dristan pulled out a roll of gauze from his pocket.

''Raise your shirt so I can bandage your side. You're bleeding.''

I nodded and lifted my shirt, ignoring his gasp as he saw the protruding bone. He wrapped the gauze around me quickly and frowned.

''We need to get her to a doctor, Ash. If Sasori finds out that we saw her like this and did nothing, he'll be at our throats faster than we can go into hiding.''

I smiled at the mention of Dolly and my captor scoffed.

''You can't just let her go! We had a deal.''

Ash growled and made a threatening move towards him, causing the man to stumble back.

''You can keep your deal. If you knew who her family was, you wouldn't have captured her in the first place. Do you know what they would do to you?''

The man shrugged.

''I have immunity from the men that I work for. None of the Kage's can touch me.''

Ash snarled and Dristan laughed before replying.

''Who said anything about Kage's? We were talking about her Father.''

Dristan paused.

''Wasn't Sasori from Suna?''

I nodded and Ash smirked harshly.

''If he found out what you've done to her you wouldn't be able to hide or go to your employers. He will track you down and make you wish he would just kill you.''

Dristan shuddered, his eyes going wide as he spoke in a slight panic.

''I heard that the last man he tortured before he left the Akatsuki was kept awake as he pulled his organs from his body and cut him apart. They said that the man's screams could be heard through the entire village for hours.''

He looked at me and I tried to shrug. It wouldn't surprise me.

Ash swallowed thickly and I saw the man that had captured me turn an ashen gray.

''S...So what are you going to do with her?''

Ash frowned and Dristan looked at me.

''We should probably take her to the hospital.''

I groaned and shook my head.

''No. No hospital. Just go find one of the ninja's that's looking for me.''

Dristan frowned, looking at Ash, who hesitated.

''Can you swear to us that you will not mention our part in this to Sasori?''

I bit my lip and looked up at him hopefully.

''I can promise you that I will portray you as my rescuers and convince him not to go after you?''

Ash frowned and Dristan nodded.
''That sounds better to me. If Sasori ever found out about this...fiasco, even if Ria didn't tell him, he would confront us. And we may not make it out alive.''

Ash nodded and Dristan moved away from me, speaking to his partner as he walked out the door.

''Keep that fool here and I'll be back with the ninja's.''

Ash again nodded and the man moved to follow Dristan before Ash placed a hand on his shoulder and threw him into the wall.

''He was talking about you, not Ria.''

I chuckled and groaned as my ribs throbbed.

Ash winced and kept an eye on the other man, who was now slumped against the wall.

We didn't have to wait long for Dristan to get back with the ninja's, and I instantly saw Kankuro. He caught sight of me and was by my side, lifting me gently into his arms, causing me to groan and I saw him wince.

''Dang, Ria. Gaara is not going to be happy to see you like this. Though truthfully, he hasn't been happy since Misa ran into the tower, screaming about you being kidnapped.''

I sighed, knowing that he was probably close to tearing someone apart by now.

''Where is he now?''

Kankuro shrugged and I winced as the motion jostled me, seeing his mouth tighten into a hard line as he breathed in deeply.

''Let's get you to the hospital and then we'll talk about Gaara.''

I groaned and shook my head, instantly protesting.

''No! No hospital.''

Kankuro sighed.

''Am I going to have the same issue with you as I did with Misa?''

I growled and he groaned.

''Yap. Same issue. Well, I'm not risking you hurting yourself anymore, so I'm sorry, but you'll forgive me later.''

I frowned at him as his hand moved, and I again fell into darkness.


/////////


I groaned as a frantic voice woke me and I wrinkled my nose as a faint smell of ammonia hit me. I gasped and opened my eyes, finding myself in a white walled hospital being surrounded by nurses, Kankuro still holding me.

I began to struggle and he yelled.

''Ria! Stop struggling! This is for your own good!''

I screamed and pushed against his chest, my heart thumping rapidly against my injured ribs.

''No! I don't want to be here! Let me go!''

Kankuro yelped as I almost wriggled out of his arms, only to be caught by another pair of steely arms and hugged tightly to a chest.

I looked up and saw Gaara's aqua eyes staring back at me. I sighed and relaxed against him, looking up at him pleadingly.

''I don't want to be here. I don't like hospitals.''

He didn't reply, his jaw clenching and he ignored the wheelchair that a nurse had pushed towards us, his voice steely as he spoke.

''I'll carry her.''

The nurse nodded and led us into a room that was already filled with people. I whined and pressed closer to Gaara, who tightened his arms before turning to Kankuro who had followed us.

''You can go check on Misa.''

He nodded before rushing off and a nurse closed the door. Gaara placing me on the examination table before leaving my side and going to stand against the wall across from me, where he could survey everything that the people were doing.

A man in a white coat came towards me and I growled at him lowly. He paused and glanced at Gaara who nodded at him encouragingly, waving a dismissive hand.

The doctor nodded at the silent gestures before turning back to me and clearing his voice before speaking softly.

''Miss. We need to check your wounds. We can't treat anything until we know what's wrong.''

I bit my lip and nodded slowly. Since I was already here, and I had no doubt that Gaara wouldn't let me leave, I might as well cooperate. As much as I hated to.

''I can't move my left arm.''

The doctor frowned and motioned to a male nurse.

''We'll have to cut the shirt off.''

The doctor turned towards Gaara and bowed slightly.

''Kazekage-sama, you might wish to step outside? I do not believe that this will be pleasant to see.''

Gaara glared, his arms tightening over his chest as he remained stubbornly still and I smirked as the doctor sighed and turned back to the nurse, who had grabbed a pair of scissors. Anything that inconvenienced the medical staff made me feel a bit better about the whole situation.

The nurse cut my shirt off and I flinched as the cold metal slid against my skin, leaving me in my bra, the freezing room making me shiver and wish for a heater.

The doctor looked at the bandages that covered my torso and took the scissors, cutting those off as well. He paused as the bandages stuck to the drying blood on my side and sighed, looking up at me apologetically

''This is going to hurt, I'm afraid.''

I nodded and gritted my teeth as he pulled the gauze free, causing the bleeding to start anew and again felt the nausea that came with the intense pain.

I looked at Gaara and saw him close his eyes briefly before returning his gaze to my face. I felt the doctor probe at the protruding bone and I hissed, any patience that I had had with the place evaporating and my temper coming to the surface.

''Do I look like a cow being sold in the slaughterhouse?''

His eyes widened and he shook his head, causing me to growl.

''Then stop poking and prodding at me like I am.''

The doctor sighed again, and I swore silently that if he did it again, I was going to tear his spine out through the hollow of his throat and strangle him with it.

I felt the prick of a needle and turned a glare towards a female nurse who was by my injured arm. She began to feel the bones and I suddenly felt the nausea increase as the pain increased and the bones shifted unnaturally.

''Her radius is fractured, and her shoulder is out of place.''

The doctor nodded and wrote on his clipboard before pressing at my ribs.

''Three ribs broken on the right side, two on the left.''

The male nurse touched my face and back of my head, coming back with bloody fingers.

''Black eyes, but nothing broken and a mild concussion.''

The doctor nodded and went back to scribbling on his clipboard as the female nurse began to unbutton my jeans. I slapped her hands away and snarled.

''Keep your hands to yourself, lady.''

She held her up in surrender and stepped away, her eyes wide.

''I was just checking for injuries on your legs, Miss.''

I shook my head.

''The only problems I have on my hips and legs are a few bruises. Just stick to my upper body.''

She looked towards the doctor, who nodded.

''She's not in shock. She would know if her legs were hurt.''

The nurse nodded before moving behind me and cleaning my head with a wet cloth, speaking as she shifted my hair.

''The head wound does not need stitches.''

The doctor nodded and stuck another needle into my side, numbing it.

''Good. The side wound will.''

I looked away as he began to work on my side, not wanting to know how he would move the bone and stitch it up. The male nurse slid my shoulder back into place and wrapped my arm before performing some hand signs, a soft green glow lighting his palms and soothing the pain as he pressed them to my skin.

I felt the same sensation on the back of my head and closed my eyes, feeling the pain lessen.

A moment later, the doctor began to wrap bandages around my side and I opened my eyes to see his hands also glowing green, his voice seeming to be less irritating as my pain faded slightly.

''We can't heal the wounds completely. Your bones, for instance, will take time to heal. But our jutsu does speed up the process. Instead of taking months, it should only take a few weeks. This is completely healed of course. Most people ignore the doctors advice and start moving their almost healed limbs sooner than we recommend.''

I nodded and sighed hopefully.

''Can I leave now?''

The doctor frowned and Gaara shifted as the doctor turned his head to speak to him.

''She will need to be watched carefully, because of that concussion...''

Gaara nodded and walked forwards, the nurses scurrying out of his way, and with the tension rolling off of him, I couldn't blame them for their anxiousness..

''I'll do that. She wants to go home. She'll need to wake up every two hours?''

The doctor nodded, speaking hesitantly.

''Yes. If you prefer for her to stay...''

Gaara's glare stopped him from speaking and the doctor nodded, changing his words instantly.

''Of course, you wish to have her home, Kazekage-Sama. If you need any help, simply send for us.''

Gaara nodded and picked me up gently and I sighed, tucking my head under his chin, happy to be off of the cold table and against his warm chest.

The doctor stopped us suddenly and held out a bottle, which I took with my working hand, trying to pay attention as he explained.

''Those are pain medication. You will need to take one every two hours for the first week or two. By the third week, you should be able to use over the counter pain reliever. I would also like for you to come to the hospital in a few days for a check up.''

I sighed and nodded, grudgingly saying thanks to the doctor before turning to Gaara and biting my lip.

''Where's Misa?''

Gaara frowned and walked us down the hallway to another door.

He knocked on it gently and a moment later, a tired looking Kankuro opened it, his voice relieved as he looked over me before his eyes returned to his brother.

''Hey, Gaara. What's the verdict?''

He shrugged, careful not to jar me too much.

''She had a bone sticking out of her skin.''

Kankuro winced and moved aside so I could see Misa on the bed. She had an I.V. in her hand, and her face was pale, bandages wrapped around her head and a hospital nightgown covering her.

She smiled when she saw me, tears springing into her eyes.

''Hey, Ria! I'm so glad they found you.''

I nodded and smiled gently.

''Yeah. It was actually Dristan and Ash that found me and went for help.''

Misa smiled happily

''Dristan's here?''

I shrugged my good shoulder.

''I don't know if he is anymore. They were pretty skittish when they found out it was me that they were contacted about.''

Misa nodded and closed her eyes, still smiling smugly.

''I told you that it was good to know them.''

I smiled again and nodded.

''Yeah. You were right. How'd you do when Kankuro brought you here?''

She groaned, her face scrunching in a frown.

''I hated it. These people get into your bubble!''

I smiled and nodded.

''Yeah. I know. I hate these places.''

She nodded and grimaced.

''I have to stay here overnight. There's something wrong with me that they wanted to watch.''

I nodded, feeling slightly sorry for her.

''I'll have to see you tomorrow then.''

She nodded and Kankuro sat next to her, clutching at her good hand and speaking to Gaara.

''I'm gonna stay here with Misa. Alright, Gaara?''

Gaara nodded, seeming unconcerned.

''That's fine. I'm taking Ria, home. I'll deal with everything else tomorrow.''

Kankuro nodded and relaxed next to Misa, who was so drugged up that she had fallen asleep the moment her eyes had closed and we had stopped speaking to her.

Gaara didn't wait to tell his brother goodbye before surrounding us in sand and transporting us into his house. We winded up in the kitchen and I sighed as I glanced around, seeing the mess that covered the room. And entire bag of flour had been spilled across the floor, footprints in the powder giving away how much Misa and I had struggled against the two men. Cookies were broken and trampled by the oven, and the cookie sheet was badly bent.

''Temari isn't going to be happy about the mess in here.''

Gaara growled and placed me on the counter before fixing me a glass of water.

''She will get over it.''

I nodded and he handed me the glass and a pill from the bottle that the doctors had given me.

''Take this, Ria.''

I did as he said and shivered, looking down at myself and finding that I still didn't have a shirt. I frowned and looked up to see that Gaara's robes were rumpled, causing me to smile.

''Did you have me wrapped up in your robes, Gaara?''

He nodded and took the glass form me before picking me up again, walking us slowly up the stairs as he answered.

''I didn't think you would like to run around the hospital without a shirt. I know that I didn't want for you too.''

I nodded and kissed his shoulder.

''You're right, I wouldn't. Thank you.''

He nodded and sat me gently on his bed before standing.

''I'll go get your night things. Don't move.''

I nodded and watched as he walked tensely from the room.

I bit my lip and sighed. He was angry. Really angry. Though I knew that it wasn't at me, I still didn't like it. He was trying so hard to keep his calm that I knew that he would explode if even a tiny thing added on to his anger.

I waited for a few minutes for him to return, the pills slowly taking affect and I giggled suddenly and covered my mouth. Oh. No. They made me loopy. I looked towards the corner and saw a pink bunny, standing upright, a black cape over it's shoulders and a scythe clutched in its paw.

I groaned and hit my forehead with my able hand.

''Oh no! Not again!''

I was covering my eyes when Gaara came back in and he pulled my hand away from my face, his eyes worried.

''Are you alright, Love?''

I nodded and smiled sheepishly.

''I'm hallucinating. And extremely giddy.''

He frowned and grabbed the bottle from where he had placed it on the bedside table, reading the label before nodding.

''Yap. May cause drowsiness, hallucinations, and a sense of euphoria.''

I giggled and he shook his head before helping me to my feet and leading me to his bathroom, where he placed my pajamas on the counter. My toothbrush and face wash had found their way into the bathroom weeks ago.

Gaara paused and looked over me, his face heating slightly.

''Do you need my help?''

I shook my head, feeling my knees shake under my weight.

''No. I think I can manage. The nightshirt buttons, and I can do that one handed.''

He nodded, not seeming entirely convinced, but not willing to argue with me.

''Yell for me if you need help. I'll leave the door cracked.''

I nodded and pulled my nightshirt towards me, Gaara hurrying from the room, though ht left the door ajar like he had said.

I took a deep breath and tugged my jeans off and my night pants on, finding it hard to do without moving my left arm. I finally got them up and decided to brush my teeth before attempting with the shirt.

I winced as I shifted my injured arm into the shirt before finding that the hardest part, was getting the two sides of the shirt together and keeping them there while I grabbed at the buttons. It took me far longer than I liked to finally get the shirt closed and I sighed as I got it buttoned...mostly, and walked out of the bathroom, finding Gaara already laid out on the bed, the covers turned down on my side so I could crawl under them easily.

I smiled and slid under them, pressing myself to Gaara's bare back and laying a kiss to his shoulder blade.

He sighed and pulled away slightly.

''Stop, Ria.''

I smiled, feeling far more foggy than I had a few minutes before.

''Why? You normally like my kisses.''

His voice was cold as he answered.

''You're hurt right now.''

I giggled and inched closer, not understanding what he was saying really.

''But I'm not hurting. It's all fuzzy right now.''

I placed my lips to his back and let my tongue lick there. He growled and his sand lifted me, placing me on the other side of the bed, his voice raising in a way that I hadn't heard it do before.

''I said stop!''

I gasped lightly and had to swallow hard at the sudden tears that filled my eyes. I knew somewhere deep down that I was being foolish, and that Gaara wasn't meaning to be cruel, but my brain was too foggy from drugs and exhaustion to comprehend that he was trying not to hurt me.

All I could think about was what I had gone through and that I wanted to be held. And he had pushed me away.

I rolled off the edge of the bed and moved towards the door, hearing a movement behind me as Gaara shifted to look at me, his voice again controlled when he spoke.

''Where are you going?''

I shrugged my good shoulder, not looking at him as I continued on my way to the door, my legs shaking more than they had in the bathroom and making my movements harder.

''To my room. You don't seem to want me here, and I'm not going to stay anywhere that I'm not wanted.''

He sighed, his voice weary.

''Ria, come back to bed.''

I shook my head and took another step towards the door. He hadn't said anything about me being wrong and that he did want me with him. And in my drugged mind, all I wanted to do was leave him alone and have a pity party.

I felt a few of the treacherous tears fall and frowned as sand blocked the doorknob. I stiffened, refusing to turn to look at him.

''Move your sand, Gaara. I want to leave.''

He paused and I saw the sand move from the door, only to wrap around my hips and pull me back towards the bed. And for the first time since I had met Gaara, I struggled against the sand, my tears flowing down my face and making dark spots as they landed on the rough grains.

The sand paused and I suddenly felt arms wrap around me, and pull me back into a hard chest.

''Are you crying, Ria?''

I shook my head and cursed myself as my voice broke.

''N...No.''

He sighed and turned me so he could see me, lifting his hand to brush away my tears, his gaze tired and his shoulders slumped.

''I hurt you didn't I?''

I shrugged, refusing to look at his face, knowing that I sounded petulant when I spoke.

''That didn't seem to matter to you a minute ago.''

He sighed and placed a hand under my chin to lift my face to his, his eyes repentant.

''I'm sorry, Love. I didn't want to hurt you physically. It never occurred to me that I could hurt you emotionally by pulling away. What happened today...''

He shook his head and caressed my cheek, closing his eyes for a moment before speaking, his voice slightly choked.

''Do you know how helpless I felt when Misa ran into the Tower as broken as she was?''

I bit my lip and he shook his head, opening his eyes again to look at me as he explained.

''The first words out of her mouth was, 'they took Ria.' I could have destroyed the entire village without thought at that moment. I didn't know where you were, or what had happened, Misa passed out after stating you were taken, and Kankuro literally had to hold me down so I wouldn't rush off.

He told me that I had to think, but I couldn't. All I had running through my mind was that you could be hurt, or dying, and I had no way of finding you. Of helping you.

Kankuro punched me in the face to get me to think, and I finally calmed down enough to organize a search party. I wanted to go with them, but at that moment, the council thought that whoever took you, must want me to look for you and that it was a trap. I knew that if Suna was destroyed while I was searching for you that you would be disappointed in me and I couldn't stand that.

The men that you and Misa fought are in our custody, along with the man that held you captive. The others that surrounded you have gotten away, but I don't think that they're of any importance. They were just hired mercenaries.''

He pulled me to him gently and rubbed my back, his heart beating rapidly against his chest.

''What would I have done without you? How would I survive, Ria? I'm sorry I hurt you by not explaining this earlier and pushing you away, but to know that I could cause you more pain by holding you to me, because I was so relieved to have you with me...''

He shook his head as he trailed off.

''I'm sorry.''

I was crying harshly by the time he finished speaking and nuzzled his neck gently, feeling much weaker and incompetent than I had in years. Blaming myself for causing him to feel so distressed.

''I'm sorry I worried you, I tried to get away. I told you that I could take care of myself, and I couldn't even defend myself and Misa from a few ninja's.''

Gaara pushed me away gently and shook his head, his eyes serious.

''No, Love. I saw what you did to those two men that came to the house. You did good. If it had just been those two, you would have been fine. And you got Misa away from others.''

I shook my head, not accepting his praise.

''They would have went after her if it wasn't for the fact that they just wanted me.''

Gaara nodded.

''Do you know why?''

I frowned, thinking back over the past few hours.

''The main guy said that he was hired by some important people to get rid of me. He didn't name names.''

Gaara nodded and ran his hand over my hair before laying us back down and using his sand to turn off the light, his arms still around me and allowing me to snuggled against him this time without protest.

''I want you to come to the office with me tomorrow.''

I frowned.

''Why?''

He sighed and explained patiently.

''Because you can barely even button your own shirt. And what if the people that wanted you gone come back? Can you honestly say that you would be able to stop them?''

I paused and shook my head, sighing deeply.

''No. I can't.''

He nodded and kissed my forehead, seeming glad that I had admitted to such a thing.

''Exactly. So you're coming with me tomorrow.''

I sighed and nodded, rolling myself to lay on top of him, my legs on either side of his. He tried to push me away gently, but I wrapped my good arm around him and shook my head.

''Don't. This is one of the few ways I can be warm and comfortable, and I'll probably roll in the middle of the night anyways.''

He sighed and nodded, wrapping an arm around my lower back, his fingers caressing the skin that my shirt had risen up to reveal there.

''Alright, Love. I'll humor you.''

I smiled and laid a kiss to his chest.
''Thank you. I love you.''

He nodded and brought his free hand up to stroke my hair gently.

''I love you too. Don't forget that I have to wake you up every two hours.''

I groaned and he kissed my temple.

''Sleep well, Love.''

I hummed and closed my eyes, almost instantly falling asleep to his soft movements and breathing.


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