The Akatsuki's Daughter

Chapter 42


Four weeks later, and I had decided that wedding planning had taken over my life.
It seemed like every moment, from the time I woke up, to the time I fell into bed at night, Temari had me talking about wedding plans.
I didn't realize how much there was to getting married.
Flowers, food, seating, on and on until I wanted to just throw my hands into the air and convince Gaara to elope. Who needs a wedding anyways, right?
Speaking of Gaara, he was probably the only reason why I hadn't gone insane. He was coming home early each night, dragging me away from Temari, knowing that I was getting irritated with all of the details.
The one night that I had been able to spend some time away from the wedding planning, Temari being sent on a small mission, happened to be during the full moon. So I spent most of the day, and all of the night, cuddling Gaara.
He seemed to be getting used to controlling Shukaku again. At least he didn't hurt himself. But he did spend most of the time in a half consciousness talking to the Tanuki and clutching at my back.
I could never tell what the discussion was about, but I heard my name spoken a few times, so I was pretty sure that it was about me. Especially since I knew that he had been worried since he hadn't been able to locate the escaped ex-council member. And he had told me that he was a bit frightened that the man might try to send people to hurt me again.
I had told him that he really didn't have a reason to get rid of me anymore, which Gaara had grudgingly accepted. But I knew that he still held on to some doubts.
This full moon was a bit different than the others. Shukaku managing to convince Gaara into letting him talk to me. Something that I definitely wasn't prepared for.

One moment, Gaara was laying down, his head pillowed on my stomach, his fingers digging into my hips and in the next, his body relaxed, gold eyes staring up at me.
I squeaked softly when I noticed this, seeing Shukaku smirk, untangling himself from me and sitting up.
''Hello again. Are you going to stop gaping at me or simply lay there, looking stupid?''
I closed my mouth, quickly pushing myself into a sitting position and putting a bit of distance between myself and the amused creature.
''Did you take over Gaara against his will again?''
Shukaku shook his head.
''No. I talked the boy into letting me talk to you. He has the complete ability to take control back at any time.''
I frowned, hugging a pillow to me.
''Why do you need to talk to me?''
He frowned, crossing his arms over his chest.
''There's a few issues that I think need to be brought out, since you seem determined to dig into my past.''
He shot me a glare and I laughed nervously, shrugging slightly.
''I was curious. Especially after that dream I had.''
He sneered, nodding slightly.
''I know. And since you're marrying the boy, I suppose that it's only natural that you want to know. As for that dream, let me explain about why that happened. Though the boy was mostly right, there are some things that he hasn't realized. But before we get into that...What is wrong in that brain of yours to think that my true form was 'cute?'''
I laughed, burying my face in the pillow I was holding, feeling my face heat slightly.
I could feel Shukaku getting irritated, his agitated shifting betraying his calm tone.
I looked up, trying to force down some stray giggles, though not really succeeding.
''Because you were. You had a fluffy tail. I told you once that I thought Raccoon's were cute and though I never thought that I would see you in any other form but Gaara's, I thought that you would have to of been adorable too. But, seriously Shukaku, I don't know how anyone was scared of you when you had those ears and that tail!''
I was laughing again and I saw Shukaku's eyes flashing dangerously. I brought the pillow back over my mouth, but kept my eyes on him.
He finally sighed, leaning back on his hands.
''It doesn't matter, I suppose. I will never be in that form again. When the priestess sealed me away after I was captured, that human like form died. Leaving me with my less powerful animal form. Though, with how strange your mind is, you would probably think that my animal form was 'cute' as well. Since it resembles a raccoon more than the human form.''
I shrugged, not really knowing the answer since I had never seen his 'animal form.'
He cleared his throat, drawing us both out of our separate thoughts.
''Anyways, like I said before, the boy was mostly right concerning why you were able to see into my past. There has never been a point where a tailed creature accepted his vessels choice of mate. Especially for those of us that lived solitary lives such as the Kyuubi and myself. For the most part we preferred to keep our distance from you humans.
But now, since we are locked inside of our host's bodies, we have no choice but to interact with you tedious creatures. Though we do make our disgust for the species known. Which I have done since I was placed into the boy. Which is one of the reasons why he is so stand offish. I've influenced his decisions.
So for one of us to actually show a preference to someone not our host is more than strange.''
I grinned.
''But you've accepted me.''
Shukaku grimaced but nodded.
''Apparently. Though I'm not sure how that happened. You are a strange girl.''
I laughed and nodded.
''Yeah, I know. So, why does your accepting me enable me to see your memories?''
He sighed.
''Because of what I am, and the fact that I am bonded with the boy, he gains some of my powers, things that normal humans can never imagine. When my species decides on a mate, we don't have a ceremony to bind us like you humans. But it is also more binding than a 'wedding.'
The boy has already chosen you as his mate, and because of that, even though you hadn't noticed it, the bonding process had already started.''
I frowned, leaning forwards.
''What does that mean, exactly?''
He shrugged.
''It won't affect you physically.''
He smiled suddenly, flashing elongated canines.
''Though I think that you would enjoy having raccoon ears and a 'fluffy' tail.''
I smiled slightly as he continued.
''But you will start realizing little things that you hadn't been able to do before. At least where the boy is concerned. You're going to know when he's close, without having to see him. You will begin to sense his emotions. And you will start to crave his presence more than you used to.''
I bit my lip, frowning slightly.
''I have noticed that I want to be around him more often. And that I'm a bit lonely when he is gone. Even with Temari a few feet away from me. I hadn't had a problem with that until about five weeks ago. I mean I missed him, but...''
Shukaku nodded.
''I know. And that will never go away. Like I said: the bonding process has started.''
I frowned.
''And this 'bonding' has something to do with why I am able to see your memories?''
Shukaku nodded.
''When you are asleep, your subconscious is more susceptible to roaming thoughts. You are able to link your thoughts and dreams with the boys. Something that can be both a blessing and a curse. Because the boy wasn't asleep, and had the guard on his mind up, your mind linked with mine. Something that would have never happened had I realized how linked the two of you already were. But I didn't have the walls around my mind up. I will have to be more careful about that from now on. Especially since you don't know how to control that syncing ability yet.''
I smiled slightly.
''What? You don't want me snooping around in your memories?''
He rolled his eyes.
''Hell no. You need to keep your mind to yourself or with the boy. You can stay out of my brain.''
I laughed and nodded.
''So this might happen again, only with Gaara?''
He nodded.
''It is very likely. If not an absolute. The boy and yourself are more linked than I ever thought was possible for humans.''
He was looking at me closely and I could feel my face heating slightly in a blush and I brought the pillow up higher.
Shukaku smirked for just a second before giving me a stern look.
''Another thing that we need to discuss is your curiosity about my past.''
I bit my lip, a bit worried about how he would react to my research. He surprised me by sighing softly.
''I know that you've been reading the book that the priestess and my first vessel wrote about me. The majority of that story is true, though there are certain areas that were embellished to make me seem like more of a monster than I had been at that time. Once you finish reading that book, I will discuss it with you.''
I smiled, suddenly moving onto my knees in my excitement.
''Really? You don't mind talking about it?''
Shukaku shrugged.
''Whether I do or not, I know that you will try to talk to the boy about it, and the truth is, that he doesn't know a lot of what happened. He resented me from the start, and learned how to separate his mind from mine very early.''
I frowned slightly, not sure what to say to that when Shukaku looked towards the window.
''The sun will be up soon. I need to give the boy back his body.''
I nodded, watching as Shukaku took a deep breath and closed his eyes.
A second later, a pair of hazy aqua eyes locked with mine, Gaara groaning softly. He crawled towards me, wrapping his arms around my hips and leaned his head against my chest.
''I always feel a little dizzy after Shukaku takes over.''
I nodded and wrapped my arms around him.
''I had a nice talk with him though.''
Gaara nodded.
''So I heard. It will be nice not to have to worry about startling you when your busy with something,''
I nodded, fully in agreement with him.
''Yeah. I won't have to worry about having a heart attack any time soon.''
I felt him smile and he nuzzled into me.
''We should probably go to sleep now. The sun is maybe five minutes from rising, and you will need your rest for dealing with my sister.''
I groaned, laying us down and letting Gaara rest against me, glad that the full moon was over for another month.

That had all happened around two weeks before, and I still hadn't finished Shukaku's book. It was starting to bug me.
I glanced at Butterball, who was sitting by my chair as Temari rattled off a list of caterers that she thought would be best for the wedding dinner, wanting me to pick one.
I sighed and shrugged.
''I don't know Temari. You pick.''
She frowned, but nodded slowly.
''Alright...Ria, is something wrong?''
I looked at her quickly, seeing her concerned face and sighed, shaking my head slowly.
''No. I just never realized how tedious all of this would be. It's a bit stressful.''
Her eyes widened, her voice frantic as she spoke.
''I don't want you to stress, Ria. That will do horrors to your complexion!''
I laughed, picking up Butterball and placing him on my lap.
''I'll be alright. Don't worry about me. I know that there is still a lot that has to be decided on.''
Temari frowned, before gathering the scattered papers and standing.
''No. I won't let this planning make you sick. I'll take care of everything that we've already decided on. I'll go order the flowers and check up on the dresses. You go upstairs and take a nap. I know that you'll want to make dinner tonight, but for now I want you to go upstairs and rest.''
I bit my lip.
''But, Temari...''
She cut me off by covering her ears and humming loudly until I had stopped speaking.
''No! I'm pulling the age card. I'm older than you and know better. Now go to your room.''
I giggled lightly and stood from the table.
''Alright. I'll see you when I get up then.''
She nodded and took Butterball from me.
''I'll take the panda with me. Now go on! Get some rest.''
I nodded and did as she ordered, making my way towards my room. I closed the door behind me, glancing at the desk where I had left Shukaku's book.
I bit my lip and glanced at the door.
Temari had told me to relax, but I wasn't really tired and didn't want a nap. I looked back at the book and sighed.
Screw it. I was going to finish that book before I started dinner.
I grabbed the book from the desk and settled myself on the bed, piling pillows behind me.
I took a deep breath, knowing that the ending of this book wouldn't be pleasant and opened to where I had left off, again loosing myself in the story.


…............


Shukaku spent three weeks in Alera's home. Getting to know the aquatic creature, and finding that he had, at some point, started to care for her.
He had been well for at least a week, but started making up reasons to stay. It was too cold outside. His clothes were dirty. He didn't get enough sleep the night before. His body was achy. The list went on and on, but Alera simply nodded each time, inviting him to stay another night.
By the end of that third week however, Shukaku couldn't even find the slightest thing wrong to use as an excuse to stay.
He stood by the front door, a small pack slung over his shoulder, full of food that Alera had made for his journey. He was still going to find the rare treasure, so it would still take him a good month to get home.
Alera stood beside him, biting her lip lightly.
''If...If you feel like it, and aren't in too much of a hurry to get to your home, you can always come back to stay the night here. You'll probably use a lot of energy trying to capture that castle...''
Shukaku hid a smile, knowing that she just wanted to see him again. Maybe Alera had become a little fond of him as well?
Shukaku nodded, putting on an indifferent face.
''Maybe. We will have to see.''
Alera nodded, hiding a smile. By now she had gotten used to his contrary manners. So she watched him leave, expecting him to come back in a few days.
Shukaku left Alera's home, forcing himself to not look back. He couldn't figure out why he felt the way he did. For some reason, he didn't want to leave her. And he didn't care about the treasure so much either any more. His walking slowed until he came to an abrupt stop.
He cared for her. That's what this feeling was. He had never cared for anyone before. He wasn't sure he liked it.
He frowned, looking back at the small house that was a good distance behind him. It seemed like the further he walked, the more he wanted to return to her home. Shukaku groaned, rubbing at suddenly tired eyes.
He growled fiercely before turning back towards the house and stalking towards it. He threw open the door, not bothering to knock and bellowed for the girl.
''Alera!''
The startled women stumbled her way from the kitchen, her eyes wide.
Shukaku's eyes narrowed upon seeing her, motioning for her to come closer. Alera took a few hesitant steps towards him, biting her lip harshly.
When she was within grabbing distance, Shukaku's arm shot out, his hand wrapping around her upper arm and jerking her until she crashed into his chest.
She looked up at him with wide eyes, not sure what he was doing and gasped when he captured her lips in a harsh kiss.
Shukaku growled, deepening the kiss, while his arms wrapped around her small body, crushing her to him.
Alera hesitated for a moment before lifting her arms and tangling her fingers in his hair, scraping across his ears lightly.
Shukaku held in a groan as she touched his sensitive ears. He pulled away, finding that Alera's eyes had taken on a hazy glaze.
He smirked, tightening his arms.
''Come back with me.''
Alera blinked, trying to clear the fog from her brain and staring up at Shukaku.
''What?''
He sighed.
''I want you to return to my home with me.''
Alera bit her lip.
''Why? Why do you want me?''
Shukaku growled, not liking that she was questioning him. Especially when he didn't know the answer himself.
''I don't know. I just can't seem to leave you here. So come with me.''
Alera hesitated before nodding.
''Alright. Just...let me go pack some things.''
Shukaku nodded and waited as Alera ran from the room. He could hear some shuffling movements and let his mind wander.
What was he doing? Why did he want her?
He sighed, running a hand through his hair. There was something seriously wrong with him.
A moment later, Alera came back, another pack slung over her own shoulder.
She looked up at Shukaku, gnawing on her lip.
''Are you ready to go?''
Shukaku nodded, before turning on his heel and leading Alera out of the house.
She looked over her shoulder, saying a goodbye to what had been her home for over 8 years.
She sighed before turning away and following the fast moving Shukaku.

It took them two weeks to reach Shukaku's home. A large castle in the middle of the desert, though Alera could see an oasis about a mile behind the large castle. That must be where they got their water.
Shukaku led her into his home, seeing that his servants had kept the place clean for his return.
He could feel Alera looking around at the large room. But before he could tell her anything about his home, his head servant Syre was walking towards him, a large smile on his face.
''Master Shukaku! We were beginning to worry about you, since you were gone longer than you said that you would be.''
Shukaku sneered.
''I've told you before, Syre that there is no need to worry about me. I am one of the most powerful creatures in this plane. I can kill anything that gets in my way.''
Syre nodded, his smile slowly disappearing when he noticed the blue haired woman behind his master.
Alera hid behind Shukaku, not liking the sinister intentions that she read off of the man. Syre put on his best fake smile, taking a step towards the hiding woman.
''And who is this?''
Shukaku growled, not liking the way Syre looked at Alera.
''It doesn't matter. Just know that she is mine, and you, along with all of the other servants, will get her whatever she needs. You will treat her with as much respect as you give me. If you don't, I will gladly tear you to pieces.''
Syre nodded quickly, shifting his eyes from the small woman back to his master.
''Of course. I will inform the staff immediately.''
Shukaku nodded before grabbing onto Alera's wrist and leading her up the stairs.
Syre watched them go, a sneer coming to his lips.
This was not good. The plans that Syre had set involved Shukaku to be to not be tied down. This girl was ruining that. And she wasn't even powerful! She was just some lowly pond scum.
Syre growled lowly, startling a maid that had come to check on the missing head servant.
Syre turned away from her, coming up with a plan to get rid of his masters new plaything.

Shukaku dragged Alera to his room, throwing their bags to the floor and Alera to the bed.
The small woman giggled lightly, hugging the Tanuki when he crawled over her. They had become more comfortable with touching on their trip back to his home. Shukaku discovering that he liked physical contact much more than he ever thought he would.
Shukaku felt like he was smothering the small woman, but her tight arms refused to budge from around his shoulders.
''What do you think of my home?''
Alera smiled.
''It's very grand. At least what I saw of it. This room reminds me of you.''
Shukaku smirked.
''That's because this is MY room. Though I suppose it would be called OUR room now. I'm not letting you sleep in any other one.''
Alera nodded, pulling the leather band from his hair and dragging her fingers through the tangled strands.
''I like sleeping with you.''
Shukaku shot her a grin, causing her to blush brightly when she noticed the perverted sight.
''Not like that!''
Shukaku chuckled, nuzzling his nose into her neck.
''I knew what you meant. But I felt like teasing you.''
Alera nodded before yawning lightly.
''Can we sleep for a bit? I know that you will need to talk to your servants, but I am so tired...''
Shukaku nodded, rolling off of the small woman and pulling her to his chest.
''Of course. Go to sleep. We'll make our announcement to my servants when you wake.''
Alera nodded, laying a kiss to his chest where his shirt had come unwrapped.
Shukaku waited until he heard her breathing even out before letting his mind wander about what they had done on their way back to his home.
He had mated with her. On the second day into their journey. They had been resting by a large body of water when Alera had decided to take a swim. She had gone a little further downstream, hiding behind the bushes before stripping out of her simple clothes and stepping into the water.
She sighed as the cool water flowed over her skin. She had missed being in the water. She was an aquatic creature after all.
She dove under the waves, not realizing that she was being watched. Shukaku had stared in fascination as she swam deep into the lake, not coming up to the surface for over five minutes.
He walked to the edge of the lake, looking down into the clear water, trying to see her.
He was startled when cool water was splashed at him from his left.
He growled, moving into a battle stance before freezing at what he saw.
Alera treaded the water, her aqua hair fanning out behind her. Her bright smile directed at him.
''You can always join me you know? You don't have to stand there.''
Shukaku shook his head, crossing his arms over his chest.
''It's too cold.''
Alera shook her head before diving and coming back up directly in front of him.
''No. It's perfect.''
Shukaku smirked and knelt on the grass in front of her.
Her eyes were sparkling in a way that he hadn't seen from her before, and before he could stop himself, he was reaching towards her, his hands tangling in her hair and bringing her up so her lips could touch his.
This was the second time he had kissed her and it felt even better than the first. But he still didn't know why he was so drawn to her. He felt wet arms wrapping around his neck, a moment before he was pulled into the water.
Normally he would have been angry about being pulled into the water. But the water was warm and Alera's body was even warmer as she clung to him.
He had made her his mate that day. Not knowing why, but knowing that it was what was destined for him. She belonged to him now. And the mark on her neck proved it. Though he hadn't expected the sudden rush of emotions that came with the bonding. Alera's feelings had flooded into him, letting him realize what he meant to her, and her thoughts entered his mind as well at some of the most unexpected times.
He smirked now, running his fingers through the small woman's hair, the calming motions, along with her deep breathing, slowly lulling him to sleep.



He should have realized how hard it would be for his servants to accept Alera. They were self-serving, cruel creatures that would betray another in a minute if they thought it would save their own skin. That's why he kept them. He hadn't wanted friends, or loyalty. Simply creatures that were afraid of him and would do their jobs because of that fear.
But he didn't think of that before bringing Alera to his castle. And he was regretting it. He had seen the spiteful glances that everyone in the castle gave her. Heard the cruel remarks that they made when they thought he wasn't in hearing distance.
It was time for an exhibition. Reminding them that he was in charge and he wouldn't stand for anyone criticizing him or plotting to hurt his mate.
Shukaku sent Alera to the oasis behind his home, telling her to swim in the large body of water for as long as she liked. He would come to get her when he was finished with his 'talk.'
Alera didn't even question him. Simply smiled, grabbed some bread and cheese from the kitchen and made her way towards the oasis.
Shukaku waited about ten minutes before calling for his staff, waiting impatiently for them.
Once he was sure all of them were there, he called two of the maids towards him. These two having been the most cruel to Alera.
He let the sand that he controlled surround them, stopping their movements.
Their eyes were wide as they stared at their master, bodies trembling when they caught the look of death in his gaze.
Shukaku turned towards his other servants seeing their surprised faces. He waved a hand towards the two bound women, snarling.
''I want to make it as clear as possible to all of you about how serious I am about what I have to say. And I thought that my point might get across better if I had some examples.''
He waved a hand at the two girls.
''These two have been disrespecting my mate. Something that I will not allow.''
He turned a snarl towards the maids, tightening the sand that surrounded them, causing them to gasp.
He felt the thrill of a potential kill run through him as the maids began to scream. He could feel the fear of the rest of the servants as they watched him crush the life from their bodies. He exhaled deeply as, with one final crunch, the light in their eyes faded, blood staining the grains of sand.
Shukaku turned towards his servants, who all stared at him with wide eyes, horror filled expressions on their faces.
He smirked, feeling the blood lust fade slowly.
''Remember this when you talk to my mate. If I find out that any other of you talk down to her again, or intentionally hurt her, I will not hesitate to slowly dismember you and bathe in your blood.''
He could feel the fear that his words caused and smirked evilly before leaving the castle, going to find Alera.



Alera sighed as she relaxed in the large indoor hot spring that rested in the lower levels of Shukaku's castle. Her hands resting on her swelling stomach.
She had been in this place for five months, and had found out that she would have Shukaku's child within the first six weeks. He had been silent for a few moments when she had first told him, but had smiled softly when the shock wore off. His feelings a happy blur through their bond.
Alera smiled, ducking under the water and letting her hair spread out behind her.
She could feel Shukaku approaching the spring and popped her head up out of the water, grinning at him.
''Hello there. Would you like to join me?''
Shukaku smirked, before shaking his head.
''No. I have to go stop a horde of lower class creatures that Syre said he heard was marching this way. I won't have them coming into my territory.''
Alera nodded, frowning softly.
''Can I go with you?''
Shukaku shook his head, reaching down to pull her out of the water and into his chest.
''No. It will be too hot for you out in the dessert. I won't be gone long, maybe three hours at the most.''
Alera pouted up at him, causing him to smirk and lay a kiss to her forehead.
''Go find something to eat and then go lay down. I can feel how tired you are.''
Alera sighed before smiling at him.
''It seems like I'm always tired. Or hungry.''
He shrugged before handing her dress to her, which she slipped on quickly. He kissed her lightly before sighing.
''I have to go now. I don't want those weaklings getting closer.''
Alera nodded.
''Alright. I love you Shukaku.''
She saw him stiffen before he turned a hesitant smile towards her.
''I know. I'll see you in a few hours.''
Alera nodded and watched him leave with a small smile. She yawned largely and decided against eating in favor of sleep. She would just get something when she woke up.



Alera stood in the middle of what had just recently become her's and Shukaku's room.
She could feel the fearful tears running down her cheeks as Syre blocked the doorway, a sharp blade in his hand.
He sneered at her, the week creature making him feel physically ill.
''Do you know why I'm doing this?''
Alera shook her head, taking an unsteady step towards the window when Syre took a step forwards.
''You are making my master weak. You, and this child. He's losing the killing instinct that made him so terrifying. In order to return him to that state of power, I need to get rid of you.''
Alera shook her head, pleading shamelessly.
''Please don't do this.''
Syre snarled.
''Begging? How pathetic are you? Just like the rest of your people. You're useless and emotional.''
Alera bit her lip.
''You were the one that killed my clan? Weren't you?''
Syre smirked, nodding slowly.
''Yes. Myself and a few others. They had a pointless existence. Just like you.''
Alera shook her head, reaching the window and looking to see how far of a drop it was. She was on the third floor.
She bit her lip, glanced back at the slowly advancing creature before throwing open the window and taking a leap out of it.
She could feel Syre trying to grab onto her hair. She hit the sand hard, feeling several of her ribs snap, her arm breaking and the bone puncturing the skin.
Alera stumbled to her feet, determined to find Shukaku.
She clutched at her broken ribs, finding it hard to breathe.
Alera tried to run, knowing that Syre would come after her if she didn't hurry. But her ribs throbbed with every step.
She heard the steps behind her, a moment before a sharp pain went through her stomach.
She gasped and looked down, finding the blade of a sword sticking out of her. She fell to her knees as the blade was pulled out, letting the wound bleed freely.
Alera felt the tears beginning to run down her face, knowing that not only she, but the baby inside of her would die soon.
She staggered again to her feet, not even bothering to put pressure on the wound. She only wanted to see Shukaku one last time. To say goodbye.
She stumbled across the hot sand, feeling the blazing sun beating down on her. She had managed to walk until the hills of sand hid the large castle before falling. She sobbed, unable to lift her body.
Her blood began to soak into the sand, turning the golden grains a dark brown. Alera closed her eyes, wanting to cry but too dehydrated to even form tears.
She gave a dry sob, not hearing the footsteps that stopped beside her. Though she did feel the hands that gently turned her over. She opened her eyes, biting her lip when she saw Shukaku.
He ran his eyes over her, seeing the large bloodstain that covered her abdomen, the way the bone of her arm protruded from the skin and the way she gasped in breath, instantly knowing that her ribs were shattered.
He swallowed hard, trying to get his voice to work.
''Alera. We need to get you home. Let me carry you.''
Alera shook her head.
''It doesn't matter anymore, Shukaku. I felt the baby die a while ago. And I will follow it soon. I can't feel my body anymore. Which I suppose is good because it causes me not to feel the pain either.''
Shukaku shook his head, his vision blurring.
He saw Alera smile softly.
''Don't cry, Shukaku.''
He shook his head. Was that what these small droplets of water were? Tears? He had never cried before.
''Who did this to you, Alera? I will tear them apart.''
Alera shook her head, frowning.
''No. Don't get revenge for me. I don't want you too. I want you to be happy. Find someone else that you can love. And have lots of children.''
Shukaku shook his head.
''No. I love you. I will always love you. I don't want anyone else.''
Alera smiled. That was the first time, and would most likely be the last that she would ever hear Shukaku say that he loved her.
''I love you too, Shukaku.''
Her eyes were becoming heavy and Shukaku pulled her to his chest, holding her tightly.
''I'm so tired Shukaku. So very very tired.''
Shukaku closed his eyes, leaning over her and burying his face in her sweat and blood soaked hair. He knew the instant that she died. The breath leaving her lungs with a small sigh, her body going limp. The bond that he had shared with her breaking with a snap inside his soul.
He felt the sob that filled his lungs, but forced it back. He held her, feeling her body become cold, even in the desert heat.
Shukaku laid her gently on the ground, releasing her from his arms and standing. He looked down at her, feeling the sadness and anger in his soul erupt. He roared, releasing the grief into the air, his anger causing the blood soaked sand to swirl around him. He would find the creature that had done this. And he would make them suffer. He would make them regret making him hurt the way that he was hurting.
Shukaku made his way to his castle, positive that he knew who had hurt his mate. When he had mentioned getting revenge for her, he had seen a flash of her memories. Another effect of the bonding.
He entered his home, instantly looking for Syre. He found him, sitting in the den, a small smile on his face while he drank alcohol from a large glass.
Shukaku growled, causing Syre to jump from the chair, turning to face his master quickly, his body visibly shaking as he dropped the glass, spilling the liquid on the expensive carpet.
''Master Shukaku! I wasn't expecting you home so quickly.''
Shukaku crossed his arms, forcing himself to not just kill the sniveling male.
''There were no trespassers But tell me Syre. Where is Alera? My mate doesn't seem to be in the castle, I can't feel her presence anywhere.''
He saw Syre swallow hard, before he put on a fake smile.
''I'm sure she is around, Master.''
Shukaku growled, no longer being able to keep up his charade.
''No, she's not. And you know it. You killed her, Syre. You murdered my mate, and my child. I warned you, if you were to hurt her, that I would kill you. And I don't make idle threats. I will make you suffer like you've never even thought possible.''
Syre took a step away, raising his hands as if that would be an effective barrier between them.
''But...Master! You don't understand, I did this for you! You were becoming weak. With them dead...''
Shukaku's roar cut him off, the weaker male already knowing that he had made a horrible mistake.
He felt sand wrapping around him, crushing any hope of escape. Syre looked down, noticing the strange color of the sand and smelled the familiar scent of blood.
Blood soaked sand was slowly crushing the small bones of his wrists and ankles.
Shukaku walked towards him, picking up the small parring knife that Syre had been using to cut apart a small fruit.
His eyes widened as his master advanced.
Shukaku lifted one of Syre's hands, bringing the knife to his first finger and cutting it off at the first joint.
Syre screamed, the sharp knife slicing through the skin and bone easily.
Shukaku smiled, enjoying the screams of his victim before moving on to another finger.


By the time Shukaku's blood lust was satisfied, Syre was a writhing, bleeding mess. Hardly recognizable as anything resembling a once human like creature.
Body parts were thrown across the room, blood covered the furniture and the walls.
Shukaku left the barely alive Syre lying on the floor before leaving the castle. As he walked away, he collapsed the sand that held up the castle, letting his home become buried, and killing all of the remaining servants. Though most had apparently fled when they had found out what Syre had done. The fools that hadn't were crushed by tons and tons of sand.


Shukaku walked for what seemed like days, fighting those that crossed his path, secretly hoping that one of them would kill him. His will to live was slowly waning, but he couldn't find anyone strong enough to kill him and his pride wouldn't allow him to throw a fight, even now.
He came across a human, his chakra large compared to others that he had met. So he attacked. Soon finding that he was too weak from lack of food and sleep to even stand against a simple human.
The human wasn't alone however, and Shukaku was soon surrounded. He sneered at the pathetic attempt at an ambush, but soon frowned when he recognized a priestess, her robes giving her away.
She pulled out a small urn, chanting softly while Shukaku attacked the men. He injured three of them before the Priestesses chanting reached his ears, stopping him. He covered his ears, feeling a jutsu surrounding him.
He regretted attacking them as soon as he realized what the chant was. A sealing jutsu. Something worse than the death that he wished for. He groaned as he felt his soul being transferred to the urn, knowing that the life he would live from that point on would be in the weaker hands of humans.


…..........


I stared at the book, suddenly horrified. No wonder Shukaku was so terrified about Gaara getting close to someone. He didn't want to feel the way he felt when Alera died again. Even if it was dulled by another's mind.
I sighed, leaning back against the pillows, thinking about how to approach Shukaku about what I had read.
I don't know how long I sat there, but I was drawn from my thoughts by the sound of the downstairs door opening.
I smiled and ran from the room, down the stairs, and threw myself into Gaara's arms.
He grinned and kissed my hair softly.
''Hello, Love. What have you been up to today?''
I shrugged, wrapping my legs around his waist as he lifted me higher, walking us to the kitchen.
''I finished Shukaku's book.''
Gaara frowned, but nodded.
''Did it answer your questions?''
I nodded, unwrapping my legs from around him as he placed me on the counter.
''Yeah. Though I'm not sure how I feel about what happened to him.''
Gaara sighed, moving to the refrigerator, looking for a snack before dinner.
''Shukaku's life isn't happy, Love. You knew that before reading the book.''
I sighed.
''I know. But it never crossed my mind that his wife and child died in front of him.''
Gaara froze, groaning and covering his eyes. It was only a moment later when his hands lowered, revealing the gold eyes that I was becoming used to, though they looked sadder than was typical.
''That's why I told you to finish reading. Though you were raised by powerful ninja's, they did their best to hide you from the harshness of life.''
I nodded, already aware of this fact. I leaned forward, trying to catch Shukaku's quiet words.
''I haven't felt the pain of losing someone I care about since that day. And I never want to feel that way again. I've tried to warn the boy away from loving you, but obviously that didn't work. So I've been trying to caution him against taking the Council's threats lightly. He's listening to that at least.''
I shot him a glare.
''Are you the reason why he's been so stressed lately?''
Shukaku shrugged and I snarled at him, causing him to chuckle.
''It's not as bad as you're thinking. The boy has had a lot on his mind. And not all of it was caused by me.''
I frowned, leaning forward even more as he continued.
''His council has been a form of stress for a while. Ever since he came back form the Akatsuki. They don't want him as Kazekage. He's not a puppet that they can control and it makes them angry. I keep waiting for them to mess up so badly that the boy slips and I'm allowed to take over and kill them all. It would be nice to be covered in blood again.''
I wrinkled my nose and leaned away from him, causing him to grin.
''You should try it some time. It's a good feeling. Having that kind of power.''
I shook my head and raised my chin primly.
''I don't think so. That's gross sounding, and would probably stain my hair.''
He shook his head, smiling slightly.
''You are human. Of course you would think that way.''
I bit my lip, wondering if I was perhaps crossing the line with my next question.
''Did your Alera like to kill people?''
All trace of amusement left Shukaku's face, his eyes narrowing and a growl ripped from his throat.
''We aren't going to talk about that.''
I frowned.
''Why not? I know that you're still not over what happened, I don't think that there IS a way to get over something like that. But it would be good for you to talk about her I think.''
Shukaku growled lowly and I gritted my teeth, refusing to cower from him.
''No. I don't want to talk about her. You have no idea what it's like to watch the only person that you ever cared about bleed to death in your arms. Knowing that there is nothing that you can do to save them.
If I had never left, Syre would have never gotten to her. He wouldn't have dared.''
I bit my lip.
''You blame yourself, don't you? About being gone when she was killed? It wasn't your fault, you know? You did nothing but try to protect what was yours.''
Shukaku sneered.
''I did a great job of that, didn't I? What I cared for the most in life was still destroyed. All because I wasn't around.''
I sighed and lifted pleading eyes to the ceiling for a moment.
''Shukaku, you did nothing wrong. Stop blaming yourself. At least for that. You've killed plenty of other people to blame yourself for. Maybe you should feel bad about that instead.''
He snorted, shaking his head.
''They were just insignificant humans. There's still plenty of them on this planet.''
I rolled my eyes and huffed.
''I should have known that there was no getting through to you.''
He shrugged.
''No. You are just another human. Though one that my vessel has become extremely attached to.''
I grinned, crossing my arms.
''Whatever. You know that you like me.''
Shukaku frowned for a moment before shrugging.
''I tolerate you. As much as I can with you being a human.''
I laughed, causing Shukaku to smile.
''I need to give the boy his body back. He wants to spend time with you.''
I nodded and watched as his eyes closed for a moment before they opened again, revealing hazy aqua.
Gaara took a stumbling step, falling to rest against me. I wrapped my arms around him quickly, holding him up as he caught his breath.
''I hate it when Shukaku takes over like that. It always makes me dizzy...and I'm still hungry!''
I laughed and laid a kiss to his forehead.
''Why don't I just go ahead and make an early dinner?''
Gaara sighed before nodding.
''Yeah. Can we have pancakes?''
I rolled my eyes but nodded. I hadn't made pancakes in over three weeks and he was having withdrawals
''Yeah, hon. I'll make you pancakes. But you have to let go of me first.''
Gaara shook his head, tightening his arms.
''No. I want to hold you for a minute.''
He looked up at me, his eyes apologetic.
''So I guess that you've noticed that I've been worrying, huh? I'm sorry about that. I did try to keep it to myself.''
I frowned.
''But why would you? I mean, I know that I can't help with the political stuff, but it should make you feel better to talk about it.''
He shrugged.
''I just didn't want to stress you out. You've been planning the wedding, and I know how tired you've been because of that. I didn't want you to have to worry about my problems as well.''
I rolled my eyes.
''I would have liked to have had something to talk about besides that wedding, Gaara. Your sister has been driving me nuts with all of that.''
Gaara smiled.
''Speaking of my sister, where is she? I was planning on having to fight her for your attention again.''
I laughed and shook my head.
''She realized how irritated I was today and gave me the day off, telling me to rest.''
Gaara sighed, his hands beginning to run across my back.
''I'm guessing that she took Butterball with her?''
I nodded, looking down at him.
''Yeah. You sound a bit disappointed?''
He nodded, moving back and lifting me from the counter.
''I am, I guess. It seems like Temari has become his owner now. I hardly see the panda anymore.''
He gave me a curious look and I looked at him.
''What?''
He smirked.
''I wonder what she will do when we have a baby.''
I shot him a glare.
''I don't know. But that is not happening for a while.''
He grinned, moving to sit at the bar.
''We'll see, Love.''
I huffed, looking at him over my shoulder as I pulled ingredients from the cabinets.
''No. I refuse!''
He shrugged, letting the room fall into silence, excluding the sounds of rattling cookware.


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