I groaned as Gaara woke me up for what felt like the tenth time, nuzzling into his chest tiredly.
''No. Sleep, Gaara. Sleep.''
I felt his body shake and he shook his head.
''No, Love. We need to get up. I have to go to work, and I don't know how long it will take you to get ready.''
I groaned again and tried to push myself off of him, only to gasp and fall back against him at the sudden pain that shot through me.
Gaara frowned and moved my hair from my face so he could see me better, his eyes worried.
''Are you alright, Love?''
I bit my lip and closed my eyes against the sudden nausea.
''You want the truth?''
I felt him nod and I sighed.
''I feel awful. Like somebody took a sledgehammer to my body.''
Gaara growled, forcing his arms not to tighten around my abused body and I took a deep breath, trying to ignore the pain coursing through me.
''Okay. Try number two.''
I pushed myself up slowly, gritting my teeth as my injuries throbbed and paused before pushing myself into a sitting position. I took shallow breaths and slid off the bed slowly, Gaara's hands on my hips steadying me when I was finally standing.
I smiled over my shoulder and took a hesitant step out of his arms, wobbling slightly.
''I'm gonna take a shower.''
Gaara frowned and stood beside me, not letting me out of his reach.
''Can you do that without getting your bandages wet?''
I frowned and shook my head.
''I guess I won't get under the water. I can take a sponge bath though. I just need my clothes.''
Gaara nodded and I felt him moving away from me slowly. He grabbed the pill bottle from the bedside table and handed a capsule to me.
''Here. Take this first.''
I nodded and after taking the pill from his hand, swallowed it without water.
He nodded and took a step towards the door.
''Don't fall while I'm gone, Love. I'll be right back.''
I nodded and stumbled my way towards the bathroom, catching myself on the counter as my legs tried to buckle on me and forced myself to stay standing. A moment later I heard Gaara's footsteps making their way to the bathroom and he was suddenly beside me, his expression and voice concerned.
''Are you sure about this love?''
I nodded, setting my jaw determinedly
''Yeah. I need a shower. It will make me feel better.''
''How are you going to wash your hair?''
I frowned and my good shoulder slumped, feeling defeated.
''I don't know.''
Gaara frowned and laid a kiss to my temple before using his sand to pull a chair from under the opposite counter over to us, setting me down gently and rubbing my back for a moment.
''Hang on, Love.''
I looked at him in surprise as he moved toward the sink, and I frowned as I heard the water running. He came towards me and I felt the wet cloth pulling through my hair.
I pushed back the helpless feelings that ran through me and gripped the cloth of my pajamas tightly.
''I'm sorry, Gaara.''
He hummed gently.
''Why are you apologizing, Love.''
I swallowed against angry tears.
''I'm being a burden.''
Gaara's hands froze in my hair and he was suddenly in front of me, holding my cheek in his hand. His eyes serious.
''You're not a burden, Love.''
I shook my head and hid my face behind my hair.
''You shouldn't have to wash my hair for me. I should be able to take care of myself. I'm not a child. I shouldn't...''
Gaara cut me off by kissing me gently. He pulled away slowly and shook his head.
''Stop it, Ria. This is not your fault. You didn't go out looking for a fight and you shouldn't feel ashamed about needing help.''
He sighed and it was his turn to duck his head.
''After my fight with Naruto, I was really beat up. More so than you are now. And Shukaku was unconscious, so I wasn't healing as fast as I normally would. He stayed asleep for four days, and in that time, I couldn't even move without help. It was awful and I understand why you are so upset. But, I love you, Ria. And I would prefer that you ask me for help, rather than injure yourself more, just to keep your pride.''
I nodded and rubbed my nose against his gently.
''I love you, Gaara. Thank you.''
He nodded and finished running the cloth through my hair, getting the worst of the blood out of it before going back to refill the sink with clean water and lifted me from the bar stool.
''Do you need help with anything else?''
I shook my head and smiled.
''No. I think I go it.''
He nodded and after a brief kiss, left me alone.
I sighed and began to slowly remove my pajamas, searching through my bag for some simple clothes. I hadn't expected to not have the use of my left arm, so I didn't really pack many button shirts. I grabbed a pair of sweats and pulled out a purple button up shirt.
I laid them out on the counter and turned to grab the wet cloth, dipping it into the warm soapy water.
I frowned as I tried to wring the excess water from the rag, which refused to cooperate. I glared at the offending rag and finally was able to swipe the cloth over my skin without soaking the floor. I finished quickly and shivered as the cold air hit my damp skin, quickly pulling the plug in the sink and turned to my clothes, trying to hurry into them.
I looked at myself in the mirror when I finally finished buttoning the shirt and frowned. I looked like a hobo. Sweat pants and button up shirts do not go well together. Not to mention that the purple color of the shirt made the bruises on my face stand out more.
I shrugged, deciding that there was no help for it, and tried to walk towards the door, finding that my legs were shaking.
I took a deep breath and raised my voice slightly, calling for Gaara. He was through the door instantly and I smiled, wondering if he had been hovering nearby. I held out my arm and he swung me into his arms gently.
''Are you ready to go?''
I nodded and laid my head on his shoulder, noticing that he was in his Kazekage robes, his gourd strapped onto his back, the sand already swirling around us.
He held me tighter, and I closed my eyes as the sand surrounded us, transporting us into his office.
I opened my eyes, finding that we had landed by the couch and I sighed, looking around the room.
I groaned suddenly and Gaara looked down at me startled.
''Is everything alright, Love?''
I shook my head and turned to bury my face in his robes.
''I'm hallucinating again.''
He frowned and sat down on the couch, situating me on his lap.
''What are you seeing.''
I bit my lip.
''There are three pink bunnies, with capes and scythes, tying up a unicorn and trying to strap dynamite to it. Oh! The unicorn just kicked the bunnies and the lit dynamite blew up the bunnies. Now the Unicorn is running off towards a green sunset.''
I shook my head and closed my eyes.
''I don't like this. I can't tell what's real and what's not.''
Gaara rested his cheek on my head and rubbed my hip gently.
''I'm real. And you are with me in my office. And you are going to go to sleep, and I will still be here when you wake. I was supposed to have a meeting today, but I'll cancel and stay in here. I don't want to leave you alone.''
I nodded, knowing that I couldn't argue with him and win the argument. I didn't really want to be alone anyways.
''Okay. You probably need to start your paperwork.''
He nodded and placed me on the couch, pulling a cover that I had never noticed from the back of the couch and laid it over me. He stroked my cheek gently for a moment before stepping away and moving towards his desk.
I watched him with blurry eyes, trying to ignore the bunnies that were hopping around the couch and quickly closed my eyes, preferring the darkness of my closed eyelids to the fake reality that I was seeing.
A few minutes later, I felt the medicine making me drowsy and let it pull me into blackness.
I felt myself waking up and opened my eyes, only to slam them closed again against the bright sunlight.
Gaara's office had huge windows and, though nice for having natural light to work by, it wasn't my favorite thing to wake up too.
I turned my head and looked towards Gaara, who was glaring harshly at a scroll. He sighed and rubbed his eyes wearily, before grabbing a pen and signing the scroll and setting it off to the side.
He picked up another one and this time growled softly, before throwing it behind him and reaching for another.
I laughed softly and his eyes instantly raised to find mine. He smiled softly and placed the scroll back on the desk.
''How are you feeling?''
I frowned, and winced as I tried to shrug.
''A little sore. How long was I asleep?''
He looked at a small clock on his desk and shrugged.
''Around four hours. Time for another pill.''
I groaned and he smiled before walking towards me. He had a glass of water in one hand and my pill bottle in another. I took both when he reached me and he helped me sit up, flinching as I grimaced.
He sat next to me, as I took the pill and rubbed my hand lightly.
''Whatever is in those pills makes you oblivious. There were multiple ninja's that talked to me today with raised voices. And Kankuro came in carrying Misa, wanting to see how you were doing. He even shook you a bit before I stopped him. You didn't even acknowledge it.''
''Great. I guess that's okay as long as there's no need for me to wake up and move. How is Misa anyways?''
''Kankuro said that she has a major concussion, a broken leg, three broken ribs, a fractured wrist, a shattered arm and a few broken fingers.
I nodded and he smirked.
''They put her on a more potent form of your medicine.''
''Great. You'll have two girls around the house hallucinating.''
He smiled and shook his head.
''Kankuro said that she's not hallucinating. The medicine just causes her to pass out. He also says that she moves around a lot in her sleep.''
I smiled and shook my head.
''That's just Misa though. She normally rolls on top of the person next to her.''
''You have no room to tease her about that, Love.''
I stuck my tongue out at him.
''I rolled on top of you on purpose. She doesn't mean to.''
He shook his head and kissed my forehead.
''Whatever you say, Love. Are you hungry?''
I shook my head.
''Not at the moment. I think the drugs might cause a lack of appetite.''
''Could be. I didn't read that on the bottle, but then the medication affects people in different ways.''
I nodded and he yawned suddenly, causing me to smile.
''Would you like to take a nap?''
''I can't. I have too much paperwork.''
I forced back my smile and shook my head sadly, teasing him lightly.
''So the great Kazekage is beat by paperwork?''
He growled and I laughed as he lowered himself onto the couch, pulling me to lay on top of him.
I smiled as he wrapped his arms around me and I tried to move my hand into a more comfortable spot, only to growl in annoyance.
Gaara looked down at me and I frowned.
''You're robe is wrapped around my hand and won't let go.''
He smirked and plucked my hand from the cloth easily, before placing it on his shoulder. I sighed and nuzzled into his chest.
He nodded and I felt his breathing slow, telling me that he had fallen asleep. I smiled, glad that he was sleeping now. He hadn't been for the past few nights.
Since we had discovered Shukaku's presence, he had been tormenting Gaara more and more, and as the next full moon approached, Gaara became more anxious. This would be the first time in a long time that Shukaku was strong enough to hurt someone.
The night before I was attacked, Gaara had shot up in bed, holding his face in his hands, his body shaking harshly.
I had woken up as soon as he moved and touched his shoulder gently, feeling the clammy skin. He had calmed down after a moment and lowered his hands before turning to look at me.
''The dreams are getting worse.''
I had nodded and pulled on his arm.
''Lay back down, Gaara.''
He had shaken his head, but I had insisted.
''You don't have to sleep. But it's too cold right now for you not to be under the covers.''
He had smirked slightly at me and laid back down, pulling the covers over his shoulders and wrapping an arm around my waist.
I had sighed and ran my fingers through his hair comfortingly.
''Do you want to tell me what you dreamed?''
He had shrugged and tightened his arm.
''It was about this next full moon. I wasn't used to controlling Shukaku anymore and he took advantage of my carelessness, and took control. He went through the village, killing people and letting the blood rain from the sky. He laughed as the people ran from him, the screams terrified, and the mothers grabbing their children and running towards their homes, thinking they would be safe there.
All that time, I tried to gain control, but I couldn't force my way through. He was too strong. And I had to watch as my own body killed people, because someone else was controlling it.
I was terrified. But just when he was about to kill a young girl, I woke up and found myself beside you.'' He had sighed deeply. ''Maybe I should stop sleeping again.''
I had shaken my head.
''No. You don't sleep that much as it is. And you need that sleep now. I think that's why Shukaku is sending you nightmares, he knows that you're more careless if you're tired. ''
Gaara had hesitated for a moment before nodding.
''You're right. But, I still can't sleep anymore tonight. I'm still a bit shaken.''
I had nodded and kissed his shoulder.
''Okay. But that doesn't mean that you can't relax. You'll have to get up soon anyways.''
He had nodded and closed his eyes for a moment, speaking as he ran his fingers over my back lightly.
''Yeah. You can sleep though.''
I had nodded and snuggled closer to him.
''Yeah. Will you wake me up again if you need me?''
He had nodded and kissed my forehead, and I had drifted back to sleep.
I smiled now and touched his cheek gently, holding in a laugh as he instantly leaned towards the touch. I was learning that he enjoyed to be constantly cuddled and touched. He had been an affection deprived child and craved my attention now because he had never had it before.
I rolled my eyes before closing them. I wasn't used to the constant contact, but I was trying to adjust to it. It was a small compromise, that normally I enjoyed.
I snorted as his arms tightened around me in his sleep and I began to listen to his steady breathing before following him into sleep.
I had been going to work with Gaara for about a week before Matsuri discovered that I was there. She had made it a point to stop by every day, if only for a few minutes, but hadn't noticed me until that fourth day.
This day she came smiling through the door, not allowing the secretary to announce her and walked up to Gaara's desk, leaning over it towards him.
I noticed through my foggy brain that she wasn't wearing her normal ninja outfit. Her blue shirt was low cut and showing a large about of cleavage, her tan skirt was short, reaching the middle of her thighs while standing.
Her hair was also not in it's normal windblown state. It was tied back, showing off her face.
I rolled my eyes as I looked her over, knowing that if I was in my right mind I would have been slightly upset at the way she was practically throwing herself at Gaara.
But because the medicine was fogging up my brain I couldn't stop the smile as the bunnies hopped around her feet, laying mouse traps so when she stepped back they would snap at her.
I looked back at her as she spoke and saw Gaara's glare.
''Kazekage-Sensei, I've decided that we are going to have lunch together today.''
She lifted a basket that I hadn't noticed before and placed it on the desk, covering a paper that he had been reaching for. He growled and I saw Matsuri flinch slightly before she squared shoulders and forced a smile.
I saw Gaara's eyes widen and he was standing slowly, gold flashing in his eyes. Even through my drug induced fog I knew that look and coughed lightly, drawing both his and Matsuri's attention.
Matsuri's eyes widened and her face heated in a blush. I smiled, trying to give Gaara time to compose himself.
''Hello, Matsuri. How are you today?''
She frowned but after a look at Gaara, inclined her head slightly.
''Fine, thank you. I was just asking the Kazekage to lunch.''
I nodded and after a brief smile towards Gaara, waved a hand at her.
''Go ahead. I'm going back to sleep. Just avoid stepping back because of the mouse traps at your feet. And ignore the Unicorn. He'll try to eat your food...especially if it's chocolate.''
I saw her shoot a startled glance at Gaara and he shrugged.
''She's on medication right now. It makes her a little delusional.''
His lips twitched as he hid a smile and Matsuri shot me a seething look.
''Maybe we should leave the tower to eat lunch?''
Gaara shook his head.
''I can't leave Ria alone.''
I frowned at him and Matsuri threw a glare at me. Gaara crossed his arms and she sighed.
''Fine. We'll eat here.''
She began to pull containers out of her basket and Gaara returned to his chair, his arms crossed tightly over his chest.
Matsuri handed him a bento box and I saw Gaara sneer at it slightly before taking the chopsticks that she offered. He took a hesitant bite before pulling a scroll towards him, looking over it while he ate.
Matsuri bit her lip before grabbing her own bento box and sitting on the desk, next to Gaara's chair. He shot a glare at her but she ignored him, trying to start a conversation.
Gaara 'hmned' ever so often and Matsuri finally gave up, eating her meal silently. Gaara barely finished a quarter of the bento and I saw him hand it back to Matsuri, who looked down at it sorrowfully.
''Did you not like it?''
Gaara paused a moment before shrugging.
''I have never really cared for bento.''
Matsuri bit her lip and nodded. Everything that Gaara told her was hurting her more and more. It was hard to watch and listen too.
Matsuri packed everything away and stood next to Gaara's chair, biting her lip. Gaara didn't even look at her as he spoke.
''I have had lunch with you Matsuri. I now hope that you have that little fantasy out of your system and will never ask me again.''
He looked up at her with cold eyes. And even though Matsuri didn't flinch, I did. I did not want to listen to this. But I couldn't really get up and leave.
Matsuri's hands clenched and she held his gaze as he continued.
''And do not ever refer to me without my title again. You are my subordinate. A ninja that I once taught for a short time. I'm not even sure how you came to the conclusion that I cared for you in this way.
I have never treated you any differently than the other ninja's.''
Her eyes had filled with tears and I saw her nod, not letting the tears fall.
''I understand Kazekage-sensei. I apologize for inconveniencing you today.''
Gaara nodded and signed his name to another scroll before handing it to her. She took it numbly.
''That is the next assignment for you and your team. Please give that scroll to your sensei.''
She nodded and I closed my eyes, pretending to sleep as she walked past. There was no need to embarrass her more by letting her know that I was awake.
Once the door slammed I opened my eyes again, jumping as I found Gaara leaning over me.
I sat up slowly and he knelt in front of me, locking gazes with me.
''You didn't like the ways that I treated Matsuri.''
I bit my lip before nodding. It wasn't a question but I felt like he wanted me to respond anyways.
''I thought that it was a bit harsh. But you are her Kazekage and it wasn't my place to contradict you.''
He nodded, a frown on his face.
''I had to be harsh with her. I've tried to let her down easy before, but she doesn't seem to understand that. I finally hit my breaking point today.''
I nodded and leaned forward to rest my forehead against his.
''I know. I saw your eyes flash gold. That's why I talked to her.''
He sighed and lowered himself to rest his cheek on my thigh, looking up at me.
''Thank you. For stepping in. With the way I've been recently, I have no doubt that I would have taken my stress and aggravation out on her.''
I moved my hand, running my fingers through his hair.
''It's alright, hon. Nothing happened. And I'm sure that Matsuri gets your point now. You were pretty clear about what you thought about her today.''
He closed his eyes and hummed softly.
''I hope so. If she continues trying to convince me that I love her, I'm going to have to reassign her to another village and I don't want to do that.''
I nodded and leaned back against the couch, grimacing as my hurt ribs protested against the movement.
Gaara opened his eyes and pulled my pill bottle from his robes, handing a capsule to me.
''Take your pill Love, and then I want you to eat some of the fruit that we brought.''
I nodded and swallowed the pill quickly.
''I hate taking those things. At least I'm getting better at moving and I was able to take an actual shower this morning, since the doctors let me take the bandages off.''
Gaara nodded and leaned to the side, grabbing the small bag that laid beside the couch. He took out a container and handed them and a spoon to me.
''Here, Love. These are pears.''
I smiled and began to eat the fruit, glad that a can of them had been lying around his house. I hadn't been able to go shopping recently.
I sighed as I finished the pears and threw the empty container back into the bag, laying down again.
Gaara stared at me from his place on the floor and reached a hand to cup my cheek.
''How are you feeling?''
I shrugged my good shoulder.
''Fine, I guess. I hurt a bit, but the medicine is keeping me pretty numb for the most part.''
He frowned and I tugged on his wrist, pulling him closer to me and laying a kiss to his mouth. He sighed and moved on to his knees, his hand landing on my side. I gasped harshly and he pulled away instantly, a guilty expression on his face.
I shook my head.
''Don't worry about it. I miss kissing you. I haven't really been able to.'' He nodded and laid a kiss to my forehead.
''I know. But you're hurt and I get a bit too carried away when we start.''
I smiled and squeezed his hand.
''I like it when you get carried away though.''
He smiled and laid a kiss to my wrist.
''I'm gonna go do some more paperwork before I have to go to another meeting.''
I yawned and nodded.
''Okay, Gaara. Don't kill anyone.''
He smiled and stood up, walking back to his desk. I watched him sort through the papers for a moment before closing my eyes and falling asleep.
Two weeks after my encounter with Matsuri and I was able to move my left arm and had my stitches removed. My ribs would still ache if I moved the wrong way, but every other day of having the nurse use a healing jutsu sped up the healing process.
Gaara was still making me go to work with him, but I hadn't argued as of yet, even though I had stopped taking the medication and Temari had finally gotten back from Konoha
I had accepted that he liked having me with him and that I still couldn't protect myself completely. Plus I became tired rather quickly.
But on this day, I was a little irritated with him, more because I knew that he was keeping something from me than anything else
I looked at him from where I was sitting on the couch and glared as he ruffled through some papers. He glanced up at me, only to return his gaze to the scroll in front of him quickly.
I growled and stalked towards his desk, slamming my hands down on the wood across from him.
His head snapped up to look at me and I leaned towards him ignoring the twinge in my left arm and ribs.
''I'm sick of this whole keeping me out of the loop thing, Gaara. Whatever is going on, you need to tell me, because I'm getting really tired of your run around. Tell me what is bothering you.''
He frowned and reached for another scroll, which I grabbed before his hand could touch it.
''I'm serious, Gaara. Something has been bothering you for at least five days, and you have been avoiding me.''
He frowned, his voice emotionless.
''I'm with you everyday, Ria. And I talk to you every time I get a chance.''
I nodded and raised an eyebrow.
''You talk, but you don't really say anything.''
I walked to his side and sat on the edge of the desk.
''So spill, sweetheart. What the hell are you so concerned about telling me, that you've pulled yourself into a shell and refuse to share with me?''
He frowned at me and I crossed my arms, refusing to back down. He glared at me for a few minutes, before pushing away from the desk and going to look out the window, his arms behind his back.
''Do you really want to know what I'm upset about?''
I nodded before realizing that he couldn't see me.
He took a deep breath before turning back to me, his eyes harsh.
''I found out who hired the men that kidnapped you.''
I nodded, encouraging him silently to continue.
''It took longer than I thought, to get the information out of the men. But we did finally get one of them to crack.''
''It was one of the council members. I don't know which one, because none of the men we captured knows his name and the one that held you captive was found dead in his cell two days ago. He was the only one who could identify which council member it was.
So now, I have no way of knowing who I should be wary of, or if I should even let you out of my sight. Even with Temari home. The council holds so much sway over the village, that even if I did know who it was, I'm not sure what I could do about it.''
He sighed and his shoulders slumped.
''And I know that if I do find out that I may not be able to control myself and Shukaku might take over.''
I sighed and tilted my head.
''Come here, Gaara.''
He hesitated a moment before walking towards me and stopped in front of me. I rolled my eyes and clutched at his robe, pulling him between my knees. His hands found their way to my hips and I wrapped my arms around his neck.
''And you couldn't tell me this, why?''
''I don't really know. I thought that you might argue with me about being able to take care of yourself, or maybe you would confront the council members...''
He broke off and shook his head.
''I really don't know. Maybe it was because I'm so used to keeping these type of issues to myself. ''
I sighed and laid a kiss to his jaw.
''You made me promise to tell you when I fear something, will you not promise me the same? I may not be able to help much, but I can be there to listen. And sometimes that will make you feel better in itself.''
He closed his eyes and sighed.
''I can try. I can't promise that I won't try to fix things on my own, but I know how I feel when you shut me out like I did to you this week. I'm sorry that I did.''
I smiled and kissed his mouth softly.
''It's alright. Is there anything else that I need to know?''
He paused before nodding.
He returned to his chair and pulled me to sit on his lap, my legs straddling his hips. ''When Temari got back she gave me a scroll from the Hokage. Apparently Sasuke and Sakura are getting married, and we're invited to the wedding.''
''So we're going to a wedding? When?''
Gaara sighed and leaned back against the chair.
''If we go, we have to leave tomorrow morning.''
My mouth dropped open.
''Seriously? Are we not going?''
He shrugged, his hand brushing across my hip unconsciously.
''I'd rather not, but I think that we have too. Temari let it slip to Naruto that you were here, and I think that if we don't go, he might come to Suna and drag you to Konoha''
I laughed and nodded, able to see that scenario happening easily.
''Maybe. And you need to go anyways. Especially if the invitation was sent by the Hokage. You don't want to offend her by not going.''
He sighed and shook his head.
''I've never really cared about offending the leaf village, but I suppose that we should attend the Uchiha's wedding.''
I tousled his hair gently.
''It will give you a break from stress and paperwork anyways.''
He nodded and pulled me to rest against his chest, his arms tight around me.
''Yeah. I need a break.''
I nodded and hid a yawn, snuggling into his chest.
He began to stroke my hair and I smiled.
''If you keep doing that, I'll fall asleep.''
He hummed and nodded.
''Good. I want to hold you for a bit.''
''Can you work while you're holding me like this?''
He shrugged uncaringly.
''I don't really care. You need to rest to recover fully, and I need to hold you to calm myself down.''
I sighed and relaxed against him.
''Alright, hon. I guess I'll take my nap here then.''
He nodded and rested his cheek against my hair.
''I love you, Ria. Never forget that.''
I rolled my eyes and kissed his neck, smirking as his breath caught.
''I love you too, Gaara. Wake me up if you need to move, okay?''
He nodded and tightened his arms as I drifted off.
When we returned to the house, we found that Temari wanted to leave that night. She was harassing Kankuro, wanting him to pack quickly and turned to Gaara and I when she noticed our presence.
''You two need to go pack too. I want to be in Konoha by tomorrow.''
Gaara frowned at her and she waved a dismissive hand at us, ignoring his irritated look.
I rolled my eyes and pulled Gaara towards the stairs, smiling at Butterball who followed us slowly.
Temari had taken Butterball to Konoha, and I was glad that I hadn't had to worry about him when I was recovering.
When we entered the bedroom, I instantly went to dump my bag on the bed, going through the clothes, trying to find a suitable outfit for the wedding.
I sighed and shook my head, packing a few regular outfits and pajamas into the bag.
''I hope that they don't mind me wearing jeans to the wedding.''
Gaara walked towards me and wrapped his arms around my waist gently, looking at the pile of clothes, his chin resting on my shoulder.
''You should have brought that outfit you wore to Aubry's. I liked it.''
I smiled and rolled my eyes.
''I know you did. But it still wouldn't help me with my issue of having nothing appropriate for a wedding.''
He nodded, and moved his hand to where a flash of red cloth had grabbed his attention.
He plucked it from the pile of clothes, looking at it a moment, before dropping it instantly with a startled noise.
I laughed and he hesitantly picked up the bra again, his arm that was still around me tightening slightly.
''You should wear this. I like the color.''
''I do wear that, Gaara. I like the color too, that's why I bought it. But I don't think that Sakura will appreciate me showing off my undergarments at her wedding. So I need a fancy shirt to go over it.''
He sighed and threw the bra into the bag.
''That's not what I meant.''
I smiled and pulled the bra from the bag, laying it to the side before putting another shirt into the bag. I felt Gaara frown against my neck and he put the bra back into the bag.
I sighed deeply.
''I'm not taking that, Gaara.''
I reached to pull it out of the bag again, but he caught my hand and turned me to look at him.
I felt myself blush slightly and shook my head.
''Because if I take it, you'll be wondering all the time if I was wearing it.''
He smirked and placed his hands on my hips, pulling me closer.
''And the problem with that is?''
I sighed, feeling myself pouting slightly.
''Because I would prefer to not know that you're thinking about what I'm wearing under my shirts.''
He nodded and tightened his hands.
''Fine. I won't tell you when I'm thinking about what bra you're wearing.''
I bit my lip. That bra was one of my favorites...
He lowered his head and dropped his voice to a low growl.
''Either you pack the bra willingly, or I sneak it into your bag before we leave. Either way, it's still going with us.''
I rolled my eyes and gave in.
''Fine. I'll take it. But you need to stop talking so much to Kankuro. His pervertedness is rubbing off on you.''
He gave me a crooked grin and captured my lips, his hands at my hips pulling me tighter to his body. I sighed and was beginning to wrap my arms around him when a voice from the doorway caused me to pull away, finding Temari grinning widely.
''Aw! My baby brother is growing up so fast. I remember when he didn't even like girls...'' She frowned. ''But, he didn't like anyone so...''
She shook her head and Gaara glared at her.
''What do you want, Temari? We're busy.''
She laughed and walked further into the room, a rectangular box in her arms.
''I bought something for Ria in Konoha, and I thought that now would be a good time to give it to her.''
She held out the box to me and I moved from Gaara's arms, taking the box from her, my eyes wide. I opened it slowly and gasped as I saw the dress that was folded inside.
I threw the box onto the bed and unfolded the dress, holding it up to me, and cooing softly.
''Oh. It's beautiful, Temari, thank you. I didn't know what I was going to wear for the wedding and this will work perfect.''
She smiled and nodded.
''I figured that you and Misa hadn't brought any fancy clothes, and I couldn't allow you two to arrive at the wedding without proper clothing. What kind of girl would I be.''
I laughed and she placed a hand on my shoulder, pushing me gently.
''Go try on the dress. I want to see how it fits.''
I nodded and hurried to the bathroom.
As soon as the door closed, I began to pull off my clothes and stepped into the emerald dress.
It was a halter top, the thick, silk like ribbons tying behind my neck. The front had a V neck, showing off some cleavage and the back was lower than I would normally wear, though it only came to below my shoulder blades. The top was formfitting, but it flared out into a full skirt at the hips. The hem stopped just above my knees.
I smiled as I looked into the mirror, ignoring my discolored skin and spun, letting the skirt fly around me. I giggled and noticed the zipper in the back, grimacing as I tried to reach it, my left shoulder and arm protesting.
I gave up after a minute and went to the door, finding Gaara shooting a glare at his sister, who appeared to be ignoring him.
''Hey, Temari? Can you come help me real quick. There's a zipper.''
She nodded and squeezed through the bathroom door, looking me over and squealing loudly.
''You look wonderful! Turn around so I can get to the zipper.''
I did so and smiled as the zipper slid up easily.
Temari had me spin slowly and clapped her hands delightedly.
''Seriously, Ria. Who would have thought that you had an amazing body. You always cover it up with those baggy clothes.''
I rolled my eyes and she hugged me suddenly.
''I left shoes for you on the bed. Try not to wrinkle the dress when you pack it.''
I nodded and she grinned at me before strolling out of the bathroom. I shook my head and turned towards the mirrors, looking at my reflection. The dress hid most of the bruises my body sported, and the ones on my face were light enough now that I could use makeup to hide them.
I smiled as I saw Gaara peek through the cracked door and giggled as he stepped fully into the room, only to stop again, his eyes widening.
I twirled, letting the dress flare up and showing off a bit more of my legs before stopping to face him.
''So? What do you think?''
His eyes raked over me and he swallowed hard.
''Um. You look...not like yourself.''
I bit my lip and raised an eyebrow in amusement.
''Is that a good or a bad thing?''
He blinked hard and shook his head.
''Good. Definitely good. You look amazing.''
I put my hands on my hips and gave him a teasing frown.
''And I don't normally look amazing?''
His eyes looked over me again, this time his gaze lingering hotly and I felt myself shiver as he replaced my hands that had fallen from my hips with his.
''You don't normally look like this.''
His eyes finally made their way back to mine and I drew in a ragged breath as I saw the heat there. His eyes held a small hint of gold and as I opened my mouth to tell him, he crashed his mouth to mine, his lips moving roughly.
His hands skimmed across my back lightly and I gasped suddenly as he pinned me against the counter.
His lips left me after a minute, beginning to trail down the front of my neck, following the line of the ribbons.
I closed my eyes briefly, pulling his mouth back up to mine and kissing him briefly before slipping from his arms, my heart beating quickly.
''I...I need to change.''
My voice was rough and I swallowed hard. Gaara made a move towards me before shaking his head and nodding, taking a deep breath before he spoke.
''Yeah. I...I'll be in the bedroom.''
I nodded and watched as he walked quickly from the room. I sighed as the door closed behind him and leaned against the counter, trying to calm my frantically beating heart.
Well...I guess that was one way for him to get rid of his stress. I giggled suddenly and covered my mouth quickly, not wanting Gaara to hear me.
I changed out of the dress carefully, folding it and pulling on my other clothes. I grabbed all of my night things from the bathroom and walked into the bedroom, finding Gaara lying on the bed, a bag by the door next to his gourd.
I smiled and finished packing, setting my bag next to his before throwing myself to lay on top of him, ignoring the shot of pain that went through my body.
His eyes shot open and his arms wrapped around me, keeping me from sliding off of him. I smiled and tapped his nose.
He smiled and nodded, tightening his arms briefly.
''You did. But now you're in my arms and I'm not letting you go. I'm going to hold you until Temari comes to yell that it's time to go. I'm not looking forward to sharing you.''
I smiled and shook my head.
''You shouldn't have to share me that much. Naruto will be with Hinata.''
''We'll see. But I'm still gonna hold you until we have to leave.''
I nodded and snuggled into him.
He smiled and closed his eyes, waiting for the others to get ready to leave.
It wasn't more then fifteen minutes before Temari came crashing through the door and threw a harsh look at us.
''What are you two doing lying in bed? We have to go or we won't make it to Konoha by tomorrow.''
Gaara glared at her and I sighed, letting her continue her rant.
''Are you two even packed?''
I nodded and pointed to the floor where she stood.
''Our bags are right there.''
She looked down before nodding.
''Let's go then.''
I sighed and crawled off of Gaara slowly, trying to avoid causing the sharp pains that would hit me if I moved too fast, I had already been too careless today and I was starting to feel the effects from that.
Once Gaara and I were walking towards the door, Temari picked up Butterball and shoved our bags into our arms harshly, causing my left arm to twinge. I winced, and Gaara, who was watching me closely, growled.
Temari glanced at him and I laid a hand on his arm, keeping him from moving closer to her like he wanted.
He took a deep breath and clenched his fists tightly.
''Ria is still hurt, Temari. Not as bad as she was, but reckless movements, like you shoving a bag into her chest and arms, causes her pain.''
Temari's eyes widened and she bit her lip, her eyes repentant when she looked at me.
''Oh. I...I'm sorry, Ria. You and Misa just act like nothing is wrong with you and I forget that you're still healing.''
I smiled and slung my bag onto my right shoulder.
''It's fine, Temari. Let's just go.''
She nodded and we followed her downstairs, Gaara taking my hand and clutching it tightly. Kankuro and Misa were standing by the door, bags swung over their shoulders.
Misa grinned as soon as she saw us, and Temari led us all outside and towards the Suna gates.
Once safely closed outside of it, Temari stopped us and looked at her brothers.
''If we hope to get to Konoha by tomorrow, you two will need to carry the girls. They aren't ninjas and can't move as quickly as us. I'll carry Butterball.''
I looked at Misa, and we both sneered at the mention of our lack of ninja ability. A moment later, we were scooped up into strong arms and I frowned up at Gaara, who kissed the tip of my nose.
''It's better this way, Love.''
I sighed, knowing that he was right and situated my bag in front of me, leaning against him.
I wasn't used to being carried through the harsh winds and had to quickly close my eyes against the gritty sand that blew into my face, already feeling as if dirt had gotten into my eyes and mouth.
We didn't stop for breaks very often and I wondered how they kept running without pausing. I asked Gaara about it once, succeeding in getting a mouth full of sand and Gaara had laughed at me silently.
He lowered his face and spoke with his mouth close to my ear, preventing the sand from getting to him.
''We're pacing ourselves. This isn't as fast as we can go. But we can go at this pace for hours before we require a stop.''
I nodded and turned my head, my lips brushing his jaw and feeling something gritty. I pulled away with a confused look and he smiled halfheartedly.
''It's a sand shield that I place over my skin when I travel.''
I bit my lip and lifted a hand to touch his cheek, feeling the hard sand that kept me from touching skin.
''I...I don't think I like it.''
He nodded and tightened his arms slightly as the wind picked up, kicking up more sand.
I sighed and buried my face in Gaara's shoulder, knowing that I couldn't speak to him until the sand became still again.
A while later, the sand gave way to hard dirt and rock. Soon after that, we became surrounded by trees. I looked around curiously, unaware until that moment how much I had missed trees.
The sun was rising when we finally reached the Konoha gates and I wiggled until Gaara placed me on my feet, Kankuro doing the same with Misa.
Two ninja's stood guard at the gate, smiling hugely when they saw Temari and bowing in respect as they noticed Gaara.
They had a hushed conversation with Temari, glancing rapidly between Misa and I before opening the gates and allowing us through.
Gaara had grabbed my hand as soon as my feet touched the ground, and now led me into Konoha, his fingers linked through mine.
I looked at Misa and found her skipping in front of Kankuro, her head moving rapidly, trying to memorize every little detail. Kankuro was watching her closely, making sure that she didn't move out of reaching distance. Ever so often he would reach out and slow her pace by tugging lightly at her hair.
I smiled and began to look around myself, sighing in relief as I looked around the empty streets.
Konoha was much different than Suna. The buildings were painted bright colors, the food stalls sporting bright signs, encouraging people to come inside and eat.
The road we walked on was well packed dirt, and all of the outer walls were surrounded by trees.
My gaze drifted back to Gaara, finding his eyes on me.
I smiled and squeezed his hand, pulling a small smirk from him. He turned back to watch were he was walking and frowned suddenly.
''Temari, where are we going?''
Temari's shoulders tensed and she didn't look at him when she answered.
''We are supposed to stay at the Uchiha compound.''
Gaara came to an abrupt stop, a glare on his face. I paused beside him and his hand tightened uncomfortably around mine.
''And why exactly, are we having to stay at the Uchiha compound, Temari?''
His sister took a deep breath before turning to look at him, clasping a sleeping Butterball to her tightly.
''Because the Hokage invited so many people that the hotel is filled. Sakura realized this, and decided that certain people could stay in the compound, so more could come to the wedding and not have to worry about where to sleep.''
Gaara snarled and Kankuro broke in with a nervous laugh.
''It shouldn't be that bad, Gaara. At least this way we can avoid most of the Leaf villagers.''
Gaara sighed and waved a hand at Temari.
''Lead on then.''
Temari nodded and I frowned, lowering my voice to speak to just Gaara.
''Wasn't the entire Uchiha clan murdered in the compound?''
Gaara nodded, and I shuddered.
He glanced at me, a smirk on his face.
''Don't tell me that you're superstitious, Ria?''
I narrowed my eyes and shrugged.
''I don't like to stay in places that people have died. Especially when they were killed as violently as I know these people were. Certain things linger after something like that.''
Gaara smirked evilly and I glared at him.
''Don't you dare think about scaring me tonight.''
He gave me an innocent expression and I pouted at him, a slight whine in my voice.
''I'm serious, Gaara!''
He shrugged and I huffed, pulling my hand out of his and crossing my arms. He rolled his eyes, and wrapped one of his arms around my waist, pulling me back into his side.
I tried to pull away from him again, only to have him tighten his arm and smirk at me, his voice filled with impish amusement.
''The villagers will start to come out of their homes soon. Do you really not want me to hold on to you when they surround us?''
My eyes widened and I pouted.
''You're such a jerk sometimes.''
He turned wide eyes towards me, his smirk still in place.
''Anything to keep you huddled next to me, Love.''
I stuck my tongue out at him and he grinned before Temari came to an abrupt stop. I looked at her and found another wall and an archway, leading into what looked like an entirely different village.
The dirt road wasn't well walked, the houses were in disrepair, and some of the shutters even blew open and closed in the wind.
All in all, it looked like a typical ghost town. A place that I really didn't want to stay the night in.
Gaara looked at me and I moved closer to his side, a shiver running up my spine. A memory of another abandoned compound came to mind and I took a deep breath shoving it back behind a door and locking it tightly, glad that Salem couldn't see this. I was sure that the sight would set off memories for him that were better left buried.
Gaara frowned slightly and pulled me forward to follow Temari through the archway. I went numbly, hearing the wind sweeping through the abandoned houses, sounding like pain filled moans.
I clenched my hands, forcing myself to move forward and ignored the strange feelings of paranoia.
I wasn't sure how I was going to stay in this place, but tried to shove that thought away as we stopped in front of a large house.
Temari raised a hand to knock on the door frame, setting Butterball on the ground. He instantly ambled over to me and I picked him up, comforted by the warm furball.
Temari glanced back at me, a smile on her face, before knocking again, this time louder.
We heard a movement inside and a moment later the door slid open, a tired Sakura looking at us.
''Oh, hi. I wasn't expecting you guys until this afternoon.''
Kankuro shot a glare at Temari, who shrugged.
''I was anxious to get away early. If we hadn't, Gaara might have not been able to get away.''
Sakura nodded, yawning hugely and stepped away, motioning us to follow her. Which we did slowly. Sakura stopped in what looked like a living room and turned to us with a small smile.
''I found rooms for all of you in the main house. I didn't think that you would want to stay in one of the others.''
Misa shook her head quickly and I was thankful for small favors. I didn't get the same awful feelings in this house as I did from the others.
Temari sighed and lifted her bag higher on her shoulder, seeming to become more impatient with each passing minute.
''Would you mind showing us where we can put our bags. I have somewhere that I need to be.''
Sakura frowned at the rude tone and I watched Kankuro fidget nervously, the two girls staring the other down.
A minute later I heard footsteps and got my first good look at Sasuke Uchiha.
His black hair had a blue tint to it and was spiked in the back. His face was pale and his mouth seemed to be in a permanent frown.
He looked us over and I saw the usual Uchiha eyes pass over me. They were black at the moment, though I knew from the stories that I had heard that he could use the Sharingan.
As his eyes turned back to Sakura I saw that his eyes lighted slightly, but retained their aloofness. Besides that small light for Sakura, there was no other emotion that I could find. Unlike his brother, that had an almost constant look of amusement, Sasuke Uchiha's eyes were cold and distant.
Temari sighed in irritation, but before she could say anything, Misa squealed loudly and I turned to see her running towards two people who had just entered the room from another door.
I smiled as Mona was tackled in a hug. Misa pulling her away from an irritated looking Sai.
Mona patted Misa's back awkwardly and I grinned as she looked over at me.
She frowned at me for a moment before pushing Misa away from her, looking over the other girl as well.
Mona's frown deepened and she dragged Misa over to where I stood, her eyes raking over my face, her shoulders tense and her voice holding a hard tone.
''Alright. What exactly happened to you two?''
She sent a suspicious glare towards Kankuro and crossed her arms.
''Both of you are covered in bruises.''
I nodded and Misa giggled as Mona glared at Kankuro.
''It's not his fault, Mona. Some ninja's attacked us.''
Mona frowned and looked at me.
I nodded, recognizing that she had suspected that Kankuro had turned abusive and I was quick to calm her while still wondering why she would jump to such a conclusion
''We didn't know who they were. Still don't for the most part.''
I grinned smugly.
''But, Misa and I kicked there butt's...mostly.''
Mona grinned and nodded, her glare turning away from Kankuro as she answered primly
Sakura cleared her throat harshly and I winced at the noise, turning my attention to her. Sasuke was glaring at us and Sakura had her hands on her hips, her eyes still holding a tiredness in them that I didn't understand.
''If you don't mind, it is still extremely early and I would like some more sleep before I have to go check on the wedding preparations.''
I saw Temari's eyes narrow, and her hand tightened on the straps of her bag. I could tell that she was getting angry and it was Kankuro's voice that answered Sakura, far more calming than I typically heard from the older boy.
''Thank you. It was a long journey, and we would all like to rest I think.''
Sakura nodded and led us out the door Mona had come from, waving a hand towards the hallway lined with doors.
''You can pick whatever room you like. Sasuke's and my room is on the other side of the house.''
Kankuro nodded and thanked her. She nodded and quickly left, leaving us to find our rooms.
Temari sighed deeply and looked at Mona.
''Where is your room?''
Mona pointed to an open door halfway down the hall on the left.
''There. Though I haven't been there much, since Sai lives in Konoha''
Temari nodded and went to the door closest to her.
''I think that I'll take this room. I won't be here often either. ''
Misa looked into one of the rooms and cooed gently.
''I like this room.''
Kankuro nodded and followed her to the door, before turning towards Gaara and I.
''Which room do you want Gaara?''
He shrugged and went to the room furthest away from everyone else, pushing open the door, before turning back to Kankuro.
Kankuro nodded and closed the door to his own room. Gaara looked at me and smiled, his eyes teasing.
''Are you coming to see our room, Love? I really don't want to leave you in the hallway with all of those ghosts.''
My eyes widened and I hurried to him.
He grinned and took Butterball, setting him on the floor and tugging me into the room, closing the door quickly.
As soon as the door clicked shut, he pulled me to him and sighed.
''I wish we didn't have to stay here.''
I frowned, thinking back to Temari's attitude in the main room.
''Does Temari not like Sakura? ''
Gaara scoffed and shook his head.
'' Or Sasuke. She thinks that Sakura is an obsessed fangirl and that Sasuke is a self centered idiot. When we joined Naruto to search for him, I not only had to order Temari to go with us, but threaten her as well. Even then, she still hesitated.''
His eyes narrowed, his tone harsh.
''Truthfully, I'm not to fond of Sasuke myself.''
I laughed and snuggled against him, feeling the sand that covered his shirt. I pulled back and wrinkled my nose.
''I need a shower. So do you by the way.''
He nodded and shrugged.
''You can take one first. As long as you're sure you won't fall asleep standing up.''
I rolled my eyes and smiled slightly.
''I think I'll be alright. You did all the work getting us here.''
He nodded and began to pull off his gourd and coat. He pulled off his black shirt and I watched as sand fell from it and his skin.
I frowned and touched his shoulder gently, feeling the sand armor that still covered his skin.
''Are you going to get rid of this?''
He paused before doing a hand sign and the sand left his skin, returning to the gourd. I smiled as I was able to now touch his skin and laid a kiss to his chest before retrieving a pair of clean clothes and shower things from my bag.
''I'm going to take my shower now. Will you be alright in here by yourself?''
He smirked and nodded, already moving to sit on the bed.
''Yes, Love. I'm not terrified of these type of places like you are.''
I nodded and moved towards the sliding door that led to the bedrooms adjoined bathroom. Leaving Gaara and Butterball alone in the room.