The Akatsuki's Daughter

Chapter 43

I was trying on my wedding dress, trying to hold still as Dori and another shop girl stuck pins into the fabric, altering it slightly.
I was alone with them, Temari having been drawn away by Krissy with promises of new fabric and designs. The two girls working on my dress were chattering endlessly about how much Gaara had changed and about how lucky I was
I sighed slightly, wincing as the small movement caused me to be stabbed by five sharp needles.
The two girls didn't notice my flinch and continued to stick more pins into the dress, their chattering increasing in volume as they switched the conversation to their boyfriends.
I turned pleading eyes towards Butterball, who was gazing at me lazily from a plush chair.
He wagged his tail slightly when he noticed that he had gained my attention. I smiled lightly, before wincing again as I was stabbed with another needle. By the time I returned home, I would be a walking pin cushion.
I sighed, causing Dori to look up at me.
''Are you alright, Ria?''
I tried to smile and nodded.
''I'm fine. It'll be nice when this is finished though.''
She nodded.
''A few more pins and we can get you out of the dress and into your regular clothes.''
I nodded, breathing a sigh of relief and trying to hold back the sudden urge to fidget.
A minute or so later, the two girls carefully helped me out of the pin encrusted dress.
I sighed happily when the dress was completely off, pulling on my jeans and shirt, ignoring the slight sting of where the pins had stuck me, leaving behind small wounds.
I watched as Dori and the other shop girl placed my dress on a mannequin, being careful to not dislodge any of the pins and ruin their hard work.
Butterball jumped off of his chair when he noticed that I had moved from the small platform that I had been standing on and came towards me, looking up at me with large eyes.
I laughed lightly and bent to pick him up, smiling as he laid his head on my shoulder, instantly relaxing.
I slipped on my shoes, wondering if I should interrupt Temari before shrugging and turning towards Dori, who was fiddling with the hemline, trying to get it to lay right.
''Hey, Dori?''
She looked over her shoulder at me curiously.
''Yeah? Did you need something?''
I nodded.
''Will you tell Temari that I went home? I don't want to disturb her while she's talking fashion.''
Dori laughed, nodding quickly.
''Yeah. I don't blame you. She and Krissy are pretty crazy when it comes to their clothes. Don't worry, I'll deliver your message when she comes out.''
I smiled.
''Thanks. I'll see you in about a week?''
She nodded, turning back to my dress and I took that as a sign that she was finished talking to me. I quickly made my way from the shop and towards the house. The dress fitting had taken longer than I had expected and Gaara would be home before I even started on dinner if I didn't hurry.
As I walked, holding on to the now sleeping panda, I thought about all of the plans that we had made for the wedding.
We had all of the flowers ordered, the greenhouse workers more than happy to supply them. Temari had helped find a location, an oasis just a bit outside of Suna, and sent a letter to Tsunada, asking her to proceeded over the wedding. She hadn't replied yet, though Temari seemed confident that she would accept.
Men had been hired to take chairs and tables to the oasis, and Krissy had made covers to go over those tables and chairs.
Two types of entree's had been decided on: chicken or pasta with a salad...and pancakes for Gaara.
The wedding cake I had picked out alone, trying to incorporate a bit of Gaara into the wedding, since everything else that had been ordered was a little too feminine or frilly. The cake was made out of cookie dough, the icing a whipped topping of black and red.
The figures that would be standing on top of the cake, Temari had customed made, but wouldn't tell me anything else about it, wanting to leave some surprises.
The bridesmaid dresses, excluding Temari's, had been put on hold for when Misa and Mona came to Suna in the next few months. Kankuro had refused to wear a complete tux and I had agreed with him, much to his sister's disapproval. Instead, he would be wearing a crimson dress shirt, black slacks, and a silver tie. Naruto and Lee would be wearing the same outfit, but with silver shirts and red ties.
Gaara's outfit was another surprise, though he and Temari had gone into this one together, simply not telling me. I think that he was a bit upset that he couldn't see my dress until the ceremony, and was taking his revenge by not even telling me what he was wearing.
I smiled as I walked into the house, hearing Kankuro stomping around in his room.
I rolled my eyes and placed Butterball on the floor before making my way to the kitchen to make dinner.
I wasn't in the kitchen for longer than ten minutes when I felt a familiar presence come up behind me, a pair of arms wrapping around me.
I smiled and turned my head to look at Gaara, who had placed his chin on my shoulder.
''Hi there, hon.''
His lips twitched.
''Hi, Love. Did you have a nice time with Temari today?''
I shrugged the shoulder that his chin wasn't resting on.
''I guess. They altered my dress so that it fits better, though it's mostly done. I'll have to go back next week to try on the finished product, and then again when the girls get here. But other than that, I think that everything is taken care of. At least on my end. What about you?''
I felt him shrug, reaching above me to grab the spices that I used to flavor the meat.
''It's fine, I guess. It's taking longer than I think it should, but Temari says that everything is on schedule''
I nodded.
''And you're going to make me wait until the wedding to tell me what your wearing?''
He nodded, turning his head so I could feel his smirk against my skin, his teeth scrapping gently as his spoke.
''Yeah. Unless you would like to show me what you're wearing?''
I shook my head, smiling slightly.
''No sir. It's bad luck. I don't want to start our marriage off that way.''
He huffed, sinking his teeth into me softly and making me jump. Ever since that day in the library when he had first bitten me, he had made a habit of sinking his teeth into any skin that was close to him when I said something he disagreed with. My neck taking the most abuse. Though he was careful to not break the skin.
''I don't believe in luck. But if it will make you feel easier, then I won't push you into showing me your dress. But you can't see my outfit either.''
I rolled my eyes, but nodded, cutting into the meat to make sure that it was done. Before I had even realized it, I had apparently decided on making hamburgers.
''Fine. Do you want cheese on your hamburger?''
He shook his head, nuzzling into my neck.
''Mmm. I'd rather just have you?''
I sighed, rolling my eyes. Another thing that was becoming a constant, was Gaara's increasing confidence with the physical part of our relationship and his perverted phrases. Shukaku was making it his mission to make sure that Gaara had a lifetime worth of information before we were married. I wasn't too happy that the innocent part of Gaara that I had come to expect and had liked so much was being slowly transformed into a typical guys reaction.
I sighed again, banishing the thoughts from my mind. I loved Gaara no matter how innocent he was. That would have disappeared after our wedding anyways. Might as well get used to it now.
I tried to pull out of his arms, only to have him growl and tighten his grip, making me protest weakly.
''Gaara, I have to finish dinner! Your siblings will be here wanting to know what the hold up is.''
He shook his head, dragging his nose across my neck to my collarbone.
''I don't care. You cooked the meat, I think that they can handle adding vegetables and bread. I haven't seen you all day, or most of yesterday for that matter. Temari has been taking up all of your time.''
I huffed, turning in his arms and pushing him to sit on a chair. I plopped myself down onto his lap, wrapping my arms around his neck, while his own arms returned to their previous position around my waist.
''Fine. Is there something you wanted to talk about, or did you just want my attention?''
He shrugged, pulling me closer and lifting a hand to pull out my ponytail so he could run his fingers through my hair.
''A little of both, I think. I missed you today. Usually when you get finished running around the village with Temari, you come by to see me and you didn't do that today. I guess I've gotten used to having you to talk to in the middle of the day. That way we can get any of the problems I had during the day talked about and we can just focus on lighter things when I come home at night.''
I sighed and rested my forehead against his shoulder.
''I'm sorry. I actually didn't have time to come see you today. I had only been home maybe fifteen minutes when you got here. I'll try to get away sooner next time, okay?''
He nodded, resting his cheek against my hair.
''Alright. I don't mean to make you feel obligated to come see me...''
I shot him a glare.
''Shut-up Gaara. You know I like to see you. Even if I have to see the windbags.''
He nodded, pushing my head back to lean against his shoulder.
''Alright, Love.''
I hummed, inhaling slightly. He always smelt like papers and ink when he came home from the office.
I closed my eyes, enjoying the strange silence that surrounded us when a sudden yell caused me to jump slightly, a frown coming to my face.
''Hey! Couldn't you let Ria finish dinner before capturing her attention?''
I glanced up, seeing Gaara shoot a glare at his older brother, his voice a rough growl when he answered.
''She finished cooking meat for hamburgers. It's on the stove. Hopefully a graduated sand ninja is able to put the rest of the ingredients together to make a meal. Don't you think?''
Kankuro sighed before I heard him move further into the kitchen. He scrounged around the fridge before grumbling again.
I felt Gaara tense under me, his arms tightening painfully.
''What was that?''
There was a hesitant pause before Kankuro sighed defeatedly.
''Nothing, Gaara. I'll eat my dinner in the living room.''
Gaara nodded and I heard the hurried footsteps as his brother left the room.
I looked up at Gaara, seeing his glare directed towards the living room and frowned.
''What's wrong, honey?''
He sighed, his shoulders relaxing and he turned his attention back to me.
''Nothing, Love. I think that I'm just tired. I haven't been sleeping well.''
I nodded, pulling myself from his lap, causing him to pout up at me.
''Well, let's eat something and then we'll go upstairs. Okay? You can take your shower and go to bed. That way you can maybe get some sleep. Sound good?''
His gave me a half smile, nodding slightly.
''Yeah. Though I'm not really hungry. I think that I'll just go upstairs if that alright with you.''
I frowned.
''You're not hungry? Did you eat a late lunch?''
He shook his head.
''No. I...I haven't eaten today.''
My eyes widened and, on a hunch, I laid a hand to his forehead. It was hotter than usual.
''Gaara...Do you feel okay? I think that you might have a fever.''
He shrugged.
''My head has been pounding all day. And my stomach has been queasy...''
I sighed, kissing his forehead gently.
''Go upstairs, Gaara. Take your shower, make it as cool as you can handle, then go lay down. I'll be up in a few minutes, okay?''
He nodded, standing shakily to his feet and I noticed that he wobbled slightly as he made his way up the stairs.
I watched him go, biting my lip harshly before going to ask Kankuro if there was any cold medicine in the house.

I found Kankuro spread out on the couch, grumbling to himself when he wasn't tearing chunks out of the half massacred hamburger in his hands.
He looked up at me when I entered, his eyes instantly swerving to look behind me and I rolled my eyes.
''Gaara went to his room, Kankuro.''
He relaxed and smiled slightly.
''Sent him to bed, did you? He was a little crankier than normal, huh?''
I shook my head.
''He's sick. He's allowed to be snippy when he doesn't feel well. But I came to ask if you had any medicine?''
He frowned, taking a thoughtful bite out of his burger before he answered hesitantly.
''If we do, it will be in the cabinet above the sink in the kitchen. I don't know though. Temari normally takes care of that, and Gaara is hardly ever sick.''
I nodded and pointed to where he had placed his plate on the coffee table.
''Make sure you put your plate in the sink. I'm not going to come hunting for it.''
He smiled and waved, taking another bite out of his hamburger as he mumbled around the food in his mouth.
''Alright. I'll do that. Tell me when Gaara is feeling better, so I know when I can come around him without worrying about getting murdered.''
I nodded and left the living room , needing to look for some medicine.
When I opened the cabinet, I found a large amount of bottles and boxes. I bit my lip, picking up a bottle that looked familiar and read the information on the back.
'Use for congestion, coughing and sore throat.'
Nope. I replaced the bottle before grabbing another and sighed. Still not what I was looking for.
I was reading the label on my fifth bottle when I heard a worried voice behind me.
''Ria? Is something wrong?''
I looked over my shoulder, finding Temari, her arms full of shopping bags. She must have went shopping after leaving Krissy's shop.
''Yeah. Gaara is sick, and I can't figure out which medicine to give him.''
She frowned and dropped her bags on the table before walking towards me.
''What's wrong with him?''
I shrugged.
''He said that his head has been foggy, and his stomach is queasy. And he has a fever.''
She nodded, reaching past me for a brown bottle.
''Give him this. It sounds like he's getting the stomach bug that's been going around. From what I heard today, a bunch of the villagers have come down with the same thing. It's pretty bad if not caught early. Though it typically only last two or three days.''
I frowned and took the bottle and medicine cup that she held towards me.
''Okay. I better go give this to Gaara then. He needs to get better. He's pretty irritable when he's not feeling well.''
Temari nodded, smiling without humor.
''Yeah. I remember that from when we were kids. He didn't like taking his medicine either, so if you need my help, just yell okay? I'll help you hold him down.''
I laughed and nodded, waving away her concern as joking.
''Okay. I better get upstairs, he'll be out of the shower soon.''
She nodded, returning to her pile of bags.
''Alright. I'm going to eat, and then I'll take care of cleaning up the kitchen.''
I smiled, already inching my way towards the stairs.
''Thank you. I probably wouldn't have time to do that tonight.''
She nodded, waving a dismissive hand at me.
''I figured. Now go on. I can tell that you're having trouble having a conversation with me when Gaara is upstairs.''
I nodded and rushed from the room, though I tried to be quiet as I crept into the bedroom.
Gaara was lying on the bed on his stomach, his breathing ragged, the covers pulled up to his ears. As I walked closer, I saw that he was shaking underneath the blankets and frowned as I heard him sniffle.
I reached a hand out and ran my fingers through his hair.
He groaned and I saw the struggle he was having to open his eyes.
When he finally forced his eyelids to cooperate, I noticed that his eyes were glassy.
''Hey, hon. How are you feeling?''
I saw his shoulders shrug under the covers.
''I can't breathe. And the room is spinning.''
I sighed and reached towards him, pulling him into a sitting position and causing him to grasp his head.
''I'm sorry, Gaara. But I need you to take this medicine and you can't do that lying down.''
He shook his head.
''No. I don't want that, it's nasty.''
I sighed, pouring the thick liquid into the cup, measuring it carefully.
''I don't care. You have to take this, or whatever it is you have is going to get worse. Now drink this.''
I held out the medicine and he groaned, turning his face away. I sighed and rolled my eyes.
''If you don't drink this, then I'm going to pin you to the bed and pour it down your throat.''
Gaara's eyes widened and he turned to look at me, his bottom lip between his teeth.
''You wouldn't really do that would you?''
I didn't hesitate before nodding.
''Yes I will. I know that you don't feel good right now, but I also know that if you don't take this medicine that you won't get better as fast. Now are you going to take this, or am I going to have to sit on you?''
He pouted for a bit, and I thought that I was going to have to follow through with my threat of pinning him. But after another moment he sighed and took the plastic cup from me, downing the dark liquid with a grimace.
He swallowed harshly a few more times before turning a halfhearted glare towards me.
''That was gross.''
I smiled and laid a kiss to the top of his head.
''I know. But it will help. Why don't you lay back down while I get ready for bed. Do you need anything right now?''
He shook his head and lowered his body back to the mattress, pulling the covers over his head. I sighed and patted his cloth covered shoulder before grabbing my nightclothes and making my way towards the bathroom to change and brush my teeth.
When I returned, I could hear Gaara shuffling around under the blankets.
I sighed and walked over to him, sitting down beside him. He peeked out of the covers when he felt the mattress dip and tried to smile at me. His voice was hoarse when he spoke.
''Hi, Love.''
I sighed.
''Do you feel any better?''
He shook his head.
''I still can't breath.''
I frowned for a moment before gasping suddenly and jumping from the bed. Gaara watched me curiously as I went to my dresser, and after a moment of riffling through one of the drawers, came out with a glass jar.
I walked towards him, waving the jar slightly.
''Dolly made this salve for me when I caught the flu about a year ago. It's really good for stuffy noses. Can you roll onto your back?''
He nodded and rolled onto his back, looking up at me curiously as I unscrewed the jar's lid.
I sighed as the smell of lavender and eucalyptus hit me. Unlike most people, I had always liked that smell.
I crawled onto the bed and pulled the blankets down until they rested against his stomach. I winced as he began to shiver again and sighed, knowing that there was no help for that at the moment. I scooped out a generous amount of the salve and placed it on his chest, beginning to rub it across his chest, massaging lightly.
Gaara sighed and his eyes fluttered close, his breathing beginning to come easier.
''That's nice. Maybe I should be sick more often if it gets you to pay this much attention to me and touch me like this.''
I rolled my eyes, smiling lightly.
''You would have to take the medicine every two hours too.''
He groaned and looked up at me with pleading eyes.
''Couldn't we skip that?''
I shook me head, letting my hands move to his shoulders, working out some of the knots that had formed there.
Gaara sighed, his eyes closing again, though they shot open when I pulled away from him.
''Why'd you stop?''
I smirked.
''Did you not want me too?''
He pouted slightly and I laughed.
''Alright. Turn back over onto your stomach.''
He did so quickly and I giggled, before continuing to rub at the knotted muscles of Gaara's back. I frowned as I felt what a lifetime of stress had done and pressed a bit harder at a stubborn knot.
Gaara's breathing soon evened out, but I made sure to finish the job I had started before moving from the bed to turn off the light.
By the time I crawled under the covers beside him and pulled the blankets over us, he had began to shiver again. I sighed, and after wrapping my arms around him, pulled him to me, trying to use my meager body heat to warm him.
He sighed softly when he came to rest against me, his hands instantly moving to tangle in my hair. I smiled, noticing that his shivering stopped after another moment.
I laid a kiss to his forehead, causing him to mumble lightly and he scooted closer to me.
I sighed, knowing that I would need to wake him back up in a bit to give him some more medicine, but I hoped that he would begin to feel better after a good night of drug induced sleeping.
I let my eyes drift closed, trying to ignore the abnormal heat that was radiating off of Gaara's body when I gasped softly. I had forgotten about Butterball! I had been so concerned about Gaara that I had left the poor panda downstairs.
I pulled out of Gaara's arms, careful not to wake him, though he did groan and move towards where I had been laying.
I tried to be quiet as I tiptoed from the room, slowly making my way towards the stairs, seeing the light still on in the living room. I heard soft voices as I got closer, frowning as I heard what was being said.
''Do you think that this is a good idea, Temari? I mean, you've heard the rumors going around the village more than I have. The council isn't taking Gaara's refusal to step aside well and they see the upcoming wedding as a slap in the face. Do you think that they should wait a bit longer before doing something that drastic?''
I heard Temari sigh before she answered her brother.
''Gaara has been through so much in his life, Kankuro. And he's given up so much to become Kazekage. Don't you think that he deserves to be happy? He loves Ria, and who ever thought that something like that would happen? It's not like he had much of an example to know how to love when he was younger. We weren't much help in that realm even after the Chunin Exams. We still held him at arms distance. I mean, have you ever told Gaara that you love him? 'Cause I know that I haven't. As far as I know, Ria is the only one to actually tell him that. I won't do anything to stand in the way of his happiness.
And if any of those old fools tries to get in the way of our baby brother's happiness then I am going to assassinate all of them without any worry of the consequences.''
I heard Kankuro snort out a laugh, his voice less tense when he spoke again.
''You're right. We haven't been really caring siblings until recently, and Gaara deserves to be happy. We'll just need to keep our ears open to any talk of a coup.''
I sighed softly and made my steps heavier, making it seem like I had just came downstairs. As I walked into the room, both siblings turned towards me, Temari's eyes instantly became worried.
''Hey, Ria. How's your patient doing?''
I shrugged, sighing in relief as I noticed that she had Butterball in her lap.
''Fine, I guess. He's sleeping right now. I actually just came downstairs to make sure Butterball was okay. I was so worried about Gaara that I completely forgot about the poor thing.''
Temari cooed softly, hugging the panda tightly.
''Aw! Poor little panda bear. Don't worry, Auntie Temari will take care of you!''
I rolled my eyes, seeing Kankuro do the same.
''Alright. If you've got him, then I better get back upstairs before Gaara wakes up and decides that he needs to come looking for me.''
Temari nodded and I smiled at her, turning to go but stopped, my hand coming to rest on the door frame and I looked over my shoulder sending the siblings a small smile.
''One more thing you two: If you plan something against the Council Members, I would be more than happy to help you.''
I grinned at their startled faces before walking out of the room completely, hearing Kankuro's loud laugh following me up the stairs.
I eased the bedroom door open just enough to get inside, trying to allow the least amount of light into the room, before closing it softly behind me. I hurried to the bed, carefully crawling into the bed and again snuggling against Gaara, who had shifted at some point and was now facing away from me.
He groaned when he felt me against his back and turned, scooting down the bed and nuzzling his face into my chest.
''Where did you go? I missed you.''
I sighed.
''I'm sorry, I was hopping to get back before you woke up.''
He sighed.
''I always wake up if you move away from me.''
I nodded and wrapped my arms around his neck, running my hands through his hair.
''Do you need any more medicine?''
He groaned, shaking his head.
''No. I don't want any more of that stuff. I just want to go back to sleep.''
I nodded, laying a kiss to the top of his head.
''Then go to sleep now, hon.''
He moved closer, one of his hands clutching my hip. His voice was sleepy as he spoke.
''Don't leave me again.''
I nodded and tightened my arms. It was strange that he wanted to be coddled like this. Not to say that I didn't like it.
I smiled and again closed my eyes, letting myself fall to sleep.


I woke up to Gaara sniffling and coughing roughly. I opened my eyes, finding him looking miserable.
I placed my hand to his forehead, gasping at how high his fever had gotten. I sat up and reached across him for the bottle of medicine, measuring out the liquid and handing it to him. He took it and downed it quickly, causing me to realize just how awful he really felt.
''Do you want me to get you anything?''
He frowned.
His voice was just a raspy whisper and I quickly nodded before hurrying from the room. I stumbled down the stairs, ignoring the darkness that surrounded me. It had to be around 5:30, the sun close to rising.
I found the kitchen, my hand fumbling on the wall for a light. I sighed when I finally found it and instantly went in search of the tallest glass that they owned.
Gaara's body was trying to sweat out whatever sickness he had caught and I didn't want him to get dehydrated.
I found a large glass and a lemonade pitcher, filling both with water and a few ice cubes before making my way back up the stairs.
As soon as I pushed the door open, I heard the awful retching sounds coming from the bathroom and grimaced, placing both glass and pitcher on the bedside table.
It became deathly quiet after only a moment more and I was debating on whether I should check on him when the bathroom door opened and Gaara stumbled out, his head lowered and his body swaying.
I moved to grab his arm, leading him to the bed where he sat down bonelessly. He groaned and covered his face with his hands.
I sighed and reached for the glass, gently tugging at his hand and curling it around the glass.
''Here, honey. Drink this.''
He pulled his other hand away from his face before taking a slow drink of the cool water. He sighed as he swallowed, his eyes closing briefly before he began to down the glass quickly, not stopping to take a breath until all of the liquid was gone.
I took the now empty glass from his hand, noticing that it had began to shake slightly.
''Do you want another glass?''
He shook his head and I placed the glass on the table next to the pitcher. When I again stood in front of him, he tangled his hands in my night pants and rested his face against my stomach.
I sighed and wrapped my arms around his shoulders.
''You need to lay back down now, if you don't feel like you're going to throw up.''
He shook his head.
''I have to go to work.''
My eyes widened and I pushed him away to see if he was joking.
His eyes were hazy, but I couldn't find any trace of humor in them. I shook my head, making sure that he was looking at me when I spoke.
''I don't think so, Gaara. You're too sick to go anywhere. You can hardly even make it the few feet to the bathroom without collapsing, much less to the Tower. The Windbags can just deal with not having you for a few days.''
He shook his head and opened his mouth to speak, but I covered his mouth with my hand.
''No. I'm not budging on this. You can't go. If I have to, then I will go tell them that you are sick, but I'm not letting you out of this house until you are better. Now crawl back into bed!''
I saw him trying to think of an argument but he finally sighed and nodded, sliding onto the mattress and pulling the covers over him, his body shaking again.
I took a step away from the bed, a clammy hand shooting out from the nest of blankets and wrapping around my wrist stopping me.
''Don't leave.''
I sighed and shuffled towards him, bending to kiss his forehead.
''I'll be right back. I just have to use the bathroom, okay?''
He nodded and I knew that he wouldn't close his eyes until I was back in the bed.
I quickly finished what needed to be done in the bathroom, ignoring my rumpled reflection in the large mirrors and made my way back to Gaara. I climbed back into the bed, having the feverish Kazekage snuggle into my chest, his voice raspy as he mumbled.
''Why did I have to get sick? I have too much stuff to do to be sick. So much paperwork...''
I rolled my eyes and ran my hand across his back, frowning as I felt how hot his skin was.
''I don't know, Gaara. But Temari did say that this bug was going around. With how many people come into your office, it's not really surprising that you would have caught some sort of cold. I'm guessing by the way that you're acting that you're not sick all that often?''
He shook his head.
''No. Being a Jinchuriki normally helps my amune system to be work really well. This is the first time I've been sick in over six years.''
I frowned, noticing that he had begun to shake again. He tried to push himself closer and whimpered when he couldn't. I sighed and hitched a leg around his hip.
He sighed softly, his eyelids fluttering closed.
''Thank you, Love. I shouldn't feel this cold.''
I shrugged and bit my lip slightly, an idea worming it's way into my head and refusing to be brushed off until I finally gave in. I used my inside fire to heat up the skin of my body trying to keep it from becoming a full fledged flame. I had never tried this before to keep someone warm, but it seemed to work alright since Gaara's shaking subsided after a few seconds.
He sighed softly, nuzzling his nose against the bared skin of my collarbone.
''You're warm.''
I nodded, gasping softly as his hands found their way under my shirt and came to rest against my back. I bit my lip for a moment before sighing, hearing his breathing even out as much as possible with his stuffy nose.
I rubbed his back gently, feeling the warmth that had been heating my skin slowly fade, returning to my normal body heat. Gaara grumbled slightly, his fingers digging into my bare back before he again relaxed. The heat under the covers was enough that he wasn't going to be cold for a while.
I sighed, feeling strangely tired. I supposed that keeping such a tight leash on an element that was normally considered unmanageable had drained me. Normally I just let the fire do what it wanted and burn as hot as was possible when I released it. But I couldn't do that when I was simply trying to warm my skin.
I shook my head, smiling as Gaara grumbled at the slight movement before he settled back into sleep.
I yawned lightly, noticing that the sun was beginning to light the room. I would need to pull the thick curtains closed if Gaara was having trouble with his head like I thought he might. But I suppose that I would deal with that when he woke back up.
I felt my eyes becoming heavy and sighed, again following him back into sleep.


I woke up to a knock on the door and looked up to see Temari peeking her head into the room. She smiled slightly when she saw me.
She came into the room, biting her lip lightly.
''Where's Gaara?''
I smirked and lifted the covers slightly, revealing the red head that had burrowed under the blankets, his face pressed against my upper stomach.
She giggled lightly and shook her head.
''How's he feeling?'
I shrugged.
''Better I think. His nose is still stuffed up, and he keeps complaining about his head hurting, but he hasn't thrown up in a while.''
She nodded, looking behind her at the closed door of his room.
''Matsuri came by a few minutes ago. Apparently she went to the Tower looking for Gaara and got worried about him not being there. She came here after that, and I thought that she was going to burst into his bedroom when I told her that he was sick.''
I rolled my eyes.
''I'm sure that would have gone over well, since I'm the only one visible in the bed at the moment.''
I glanced down at the lumpy blankets that didn't really look like another human body and Temari laughed.
''Yeah. She would have thought that you had killed him.''
I laughed, shaking my head.
''He might actually be wishing for someone to put him out of his misery by now. He hasn't had a very good night.''
Temari nodded, her eyes softening.
''I wouldn't imagine. Gaara hardly ever gets sick but when he does, it's extremely serious.''
I nodded, ignoring how the body next to me had suddenly stiffened, the breathing betraying that he was awake.
''Yeah. I could tell that. How long does this bug normally last?''
She shrugged.
''It depends. For some it was only 24 hours, but then I heard about some that it lasted a full week.''
Gaara tensed and I rubbed his back gently.
''Well, hopefully Gaara will only have the 24 hour bug.''
Temari nodded, smiling softly.
''Hopefully. I'll leave you alone, but I wanted to tell you that I made breakfast if you're hungry. I know Gaara won't want to eat but you don't need to starve yourself. Your wedding dress won't fit.''
I laughed lightly, feeling Gaara smirk against my skin where my nightshirt had ridden up.
''I'll try. But I'm not hungry right now. Did you get Matsuri to leave?''
She shook her head.
''Not yet. She demanded that I come to check on Gaara first.''
I heard a sigh and Gaara turned towards the door, pulling the covers down so Temari could see his face.
She seemed startled to see him awake but smiled at him.
''Hey, Gaara. How are you feeling?''
He sniffled and her smile softened.
''That bad, huh?''
He nodded and I winced when he spoke, his voice painfully hoarse.
''Yeah. Tell Matsuri to go home. I don't want to deal with her today.''
I rolled my eyes and Temari smiled.
''Alright. Try to let Ria up so she can eat, okay?''
He nodded before turning back around and returning to his original spot.
Temari grinned and shook her head.
''I guess I'll go talk to Matsuri now. She'll be pacing a ditch in the floor if I don't hurry.''
I laughed and nodded.
''Yeah. I'll be down in a bit to eat.''
She nodded and with one final smirk thrown over her shoulder, left the room, closing the door behind her softly.
I heard Gaara sigh when he heard the door click shut.
''It's really bright in here.''
I nodded.
''Do you want me to close the drapes?''
He sighed, before nodding slowly. I scooted out of his arms going to close the heavy, tan drapes, blocking out the sunlight.
I stood by the window, blinking hard and trying to get my eyes to adjust. I was about to make my way back to the bed when there was a hesitant knock on the door. I stumbled my way towards the noise, hearing Gaara grumble under the blankets.
I finally made it to the door, only opening it enough to peek out and sighed when I saw who was on the other side.
Matsuri stared at me with wide eyes, beginning to wring her hands.
''Hi, Ria. Um...Is Kazekage-sensei in there? I...I wanted to check on him.''
I frowned, not quite sure how to handle this when I felt a pair of hands wrap around my hips tightly, and a rough voice spoke from the shadows behind me.
''I'll be fine, Matsuri. Now leave. I don't need you here.''
The girl flinched and bit her lip harshly.
''Oh. long as you're alright. I guess I'll go home then?''
She looked at me sadly and I shrugged, though it was Gaara that answered, his tone still managing to sound cruel with a hoarse voice.
''I don't care where you go. Just leave me alone. I'm tired and I can't deal with you today. If you want to talk to me, then you can wait until I go back to the office.''
She nodded, her lip trembling slightly and her voice shook as she spoke.
''Oh. I'm sorry, Kazekage-sensei. I'll...I'll see you later I guess.''
She turned towards the stairs and I sighed, while pushing Gaara back towards the direction of the bed.
''Go lay down, hon. I'm going downstairs real quick.''
He nodded and I felt him move away before I rushed out of the room, catching up to Matsuri on the stairs landing. I winced as I saw the tears falling from her eyes and touched her arm gently.
She turned towards me quickly, rubbing at her face, trying to erase the signs of crying.
I sighed.
''Look, Matsuri. I'm sorry. Gaara is not in a good mood right now. I mean he's really sick, and a bit cranky. I don't think that he meant what he said a minute ago. At least how he said it.''
She shook her head, trying to smile.
''No, I understand, I shouldn't have come over here. Temari warned me downstairs how irritable he was, but I didn't listen. He's never talked to me that way before, so I didn't expect it. I guess I should have listened, huh?''
I shrugged and began to lead her down the stairs.
''You were worried. That's understandable with how much you care for Gaara. And if he wasn't feeling as terrible as he is, I'm sure that he wouldn't have treated you that way.''
She smiled slightly and followed me into the kitchen. I frowned as I looked at what Temari had cooked, trying to supress a shudder. The scrambled eggs were runny, the toast burnt and the bacon was still bleeding.
I shook my head and reached for the cereal. It would be quicker to eat anyways.
I saw Matsuri's look of disgust as she glanced at the massacred food and I laughed, starting in on my own breakfast.
''Temari is a wonderful girl, but she really can't cook.''
Matsuri nodded.
''I can tell. How do Kankuro and Kazekage-sensei eat this stuff?''
I shook my head.
''They don't. I normally cook, and believe it or not, Gaara can cook for himself. Not well, but it's edible.''
She smiled softly, before sighing.
''I guess that I'll go home. I...I have a date later.''
I grinned at her.
''Really?! That's great! Where'd you meet him?''
She bit her lip, her cheeks blushing slightly.
''Um...his family owns the new bookstore that just opened. They recently moved to Suna from a mountain village. His name's Yue. He's really nice.''
I smiled, swallowing a bite of cereal.
''That's wonderful, Matsuri. I hope that everything goes well with him.''
She smiled shyly and nodded.
''Me too. This is the first time that I've gone on a date with anyone.''
She bit her lip.
''What do you think I should wear?''
I laughed, shaking my head slightly. No matter were I went, girls were all the same.
''Well, it depends on where you're going. I mean if he's taking you to a fancy restaurant, then you want to wear a nice dress, but if it's just casual, then just a pretty dress, or cute jeans and a nice top?''
She nodded and I could tell that her mind was working in double time.
''Okay. I'll see what I have. Thank you. I should probably go so you can take care of Kazekage-sensei. He didn't seem like he wanted you out of his sight.''
I nodded, sighing lightly and standing, rinsing out my bowl as I spoke to her.
''Yeah. I'll talk to you later. Tell me how your date goes, okay?''
She nodded quickly and I trusted her to be able to let herself out of the house while I made my way back to Gaara. Hopefully he was asleep

When I returned to the room, I heard the labored breathing from the bed and sighed.
''Close your eyes Gaara. I'm going to turn the light on for a minute.''
I heard a groan and I flipped the light on, blinking at the brightness that lit the room.
I walked over to the bedside table, picking up Gaara's medicine and pouring him another cup full. He watched me with a snarl and shook his head as I tried to hand it to him.
''No. No more medicine.''
I sighed, trying to force patience.
He cut me off by snarling slightly and shook his head.
''No, Ria! I won't take any more of that.''
I frowned and walked closer to the bed, pouting at him pleadingly.
''C'mon, Gaara. Please? I know it's gross, but you need to get better!''
He shook his head, pulling the covers over his head.
''No. Can't you just rub my back chest with that stuff again?''
I sighed, almost throwing my arms out to the side in exasperation.
''I will, if you take this. Please? Just a little bit?''
Gaara pulled the covers down a bit, revealing fevered eyes.
''I don't want it.''
I frowned and glanced at the dark liquid that filled the tiny cup as Gaara pulled the covers back over his head, and I sighed as an idea coming to my mind. Though I wasn't too happy about what I was about to do, it was the only way I could think of to get him to take his medicine.
I crawled onto the bed, straddling his legs and tipped back the medicine into my own mouth, making sure to not swallow. Gaara lowered his blankets again, his mouth open slightly to breath, and I quickly latched my mouth on to his, transferring the medicine from my mouth into his.
He made a strangled noise, his hand coming up to my shoulder, weakly trying to push me away. Once I knew that he had swallowed the medicine, I pulled back, wiping away the stream of liquid that had escaped from his mouth.
I sighed, wincing at the hurt look he was giving me and he flinched away from my hand as I tried to push his damp hair from his forehead.
He turned his face away from me, but not before I saw the betrayed look and how his eyes watered slightly. I felt his emotions and bit my lip against the tears that welled in my own eyes.
I leaned over him and nuzzled my nose against his neck, trying to ignore the tremulous feelings that washed over me.
''I'm sorry, Gaara. But you won't get better if you don't take your medicine. Don't be upset.''
He still wouldn't look at me and I bit my lip, wondering if I should stay where I was or leave him alone.
I waited for what seemed like hours, but in reality couldn't have been more than ten minutes when his arms wormed their way out of the covers and wrapped around me, turning his head to bury his face in my hair.
''I'm not mad. Not really. I know that you had the best of intentions. But, Ria, I'm sick, and my emotions are not exactly stable at the moment. Don't try to trick me into taking that medicine again.''
I nodded, still not regretting my decision completely.
''Alright. Do you want me to rub that save onto your chest now?''
He hesitated for a moment before nodding and removing his arms so I could sit up. I reached towards the table and grabbed the blue jar, scooping out a large amount and lathering it onto his chest, feeling him relax under me. One of his hands moved to rest against my thigh, rubbing his thumb against the soft fabric of my night pants as his eyes closed.
''Thank you, for taking care of me I mean. I don't know what I would do if you weren't here.''
I shrugged before realizing that he couldn't see me since his eyes were closed.
''You don't have to thank me Gaara. Except for trying to get you to take medicine, I like taking care of you. I don't get to do that a whole lot, you know? And even if I wasn't here, I'm sure that Temari would be playing the nurse role and making sure that you stay in bed.''
Gaara shook his head, squinting his eyes open to look at me.
''I wouldn't listen. The last time I was sick, she tried to to make me stay in bed, but I didn't listen. I ended up getting worse, almost to the point where I had to go to the hospital. Though at that point, I don't think that the doctors would have done anything to help me. It was during the time when the villagers still thought that I was going to go crazy and kill everyone.
Anyways, I collapsed in the kitchen and Kankuro had to lug me to my room. I think that I really worried my siblings.''
I nodded, rubbing my hands over his arms.
''I imagine that you did. If you weren't so stubborn about staying in bed, then you wouldn't stress them out so much.''
He shrugged and grabbed my hands, tugging me down to lay on top of him, his arms wrapping around me and one of his hands, pressing my face into his neck.
''I know. I just hate feeling like this. Though, you have to admit that I've been pretty good today.''
I hummed, nodding slightly.
''Yeah. You haven't given me half as much trouble as I was expecting.''
He sighed and laid a kiss to my temple, before jerking back suddenly.
I looked up at him startled, seeing his wide eyes.
''Gaara? Is something wrong?''
He nodded.
''I just realized that I am contagious, and that I have been exposing you to this sickness. You should probably not even be in the same room with me, much less cuddled up to me and kissing me.''
I rolled my eyes and smiled.
''Oh well. Too late now, hon. I'm already exposed and if I'm going to get sick, then I'm going to get sick. Now though, I'm going to turn the light off so you can sleep some more. Alright?''
He nodded, frowning slightly.
''Are...Are you still going to lay with me then? Since you're already 'exposed' to this cold?''
I nodded, sitting up and moving off of him.
''Yeah. I have no intention of leaving you on your own for long, if I can help it. Knowing you, if I left you alone, you would try to sneak out of the house and to your office. And I can't have you doing that until your well.''
He nodded, beginning to cough harshly. I grimaced at hearing the gunk in his lungs. Maybe I should find Temari and have her go ask the doctor if there was a type of medicine that he was recommending to those that had this bug.
I was apparently gone too long for Gaara's liking, because I heard him moving and he groaned.
''Come back to bed, Love.''
I laughed and made my way over to my side of the bed, crawling under the covers and being enveloped in warm arms.
''You know, it's normally me that wants you to come to bed. Apparently our roles have been switched for a bit.''
He nodded and curled into me, nuzzling his head into my chest, hooking a leg over mine.
''I should not be this tired. I've slept more than I have in weeks and yet I still feel exhausted.''
I nodded, bringing a hand up to run through his hair.
''You're sick. Your body is trying to fight off whatever germs have entered your body and you need sleep for that. Is Shukaku helping at all?''
He shrugged.
''Not really. Unlike when I was younger, he doesn't have a whole lot of extra strength to fend off sickness. I mean, if it was life threatening, then I know that he would try to get rid of it, but with just some cold, I think that he prefers to just let my bodies natural defenses take over.''
I nodded.
''Alright. I guess that that's understandable. It just sucks that he can do something about it and instead makes you suffer. Though I do like keeping you away from work, since I think that you need a break, I just wish that it wasn't because you were sick.''
He hummed lightly, his voice tired as he spoke.
''Yeah. Maybe I need to start taking at least one day off a week.''
I nodded, fully in agreement with that idea.
Gaara yawned, pulling himself closer to me and sighing.
''I'm falling asleep, Love. Will you stay in bed with me while I sleep? I'm afraid that I won't wake up this time if you move.''
I nodded, laying a kiss to his head.
''Yeah, hon. I won't leave.''
He nodded and after a moment. I felt his body relax as he fell asleep.

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