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Cool down My Heat

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Chapter 1

The Man in the Mirror

The water was cold. It was ice-cold, but it evaporated when it hit his burning skin. His breathing was heavy, he was short on breath. He was suffocating in this tremendous hotness that made the blood boil inside his veins, and made his heart thump as if it was kept there by force, threatening to break through his rib cage. The freezing water showered over him and yet he could feel himself sweating.

Gaara turned off the water and stepped out of the shower, the contact of his bare feet with the cold surface of the bathroom tiles made a short-lived relief shoot through his entire body and it all lasted less than a second before the familiar and oh-so-torturing heat took prevail once again.

A mess of damp red locks reflected in the mirror as Gaara sought out both support and relief by holding onto the sink – short-lived relief, once again, but relief, nonetheless. It would soon go away, he knew, this feeling that made him look back to any fight wounds, even the most severe, with nostalgia. He had been having these "heat attacks" for a few days now, with no warning whatsoever, and it was always the same – heart thumping, head feeling as if it was about to blow, heavy sweating, dizziness… But at the same time he was more aware of his surroundings – he could hear better, see clearer, smell stronger…And that smell among many…That one particular scent…

It made him go crazy.

Thump, thump, thump. His heart continued thumping wildly and as if on command, which was most definitely not Gaara's, because he had already deemed that he had completely no control over the reaction.

It started slowing down, and for the first time in a few long, long minutes, Gaara was able to take in a deep, calming breath, and then exhale.

At last.

There was a tentative knock on the door and it opened with a creak. In the reflection of the mirror, a man with purple war paint on his face appeared.

"Konoha is waiting. We gotta get going, Gaara," Kankuro said, meeting his gaze in the reflection. Maybe Gaara had let some kind of desperateness and curiosity shine or reflect in his eyes as if wondering to tell the other or not. Maybe he'd let fatigue show it's unwelcome head, because Kankuro suddenly asked, "Are you all right, Gaara?"

Concern sounded in his voice, but it was successfully outshined by surprise – surprise that Gaara could actually not be all right. Up until now, Gaara had always ignored physical pain and aches, or at least he hadn't shown any visible signs of suffering. That's why the young man didn't go see the medic nins when these sudden heat attacks started in the first place, but the impact of the last one which still had his breath hitching and hands shaking, made him reconsider this. Next time, he promised himself, next time this happens, I'll look for help.

"I'm fine," Gaara told his older brother. His voice sounded chocked. He cleared his throat, "give me a minute," he said and reached to his right to take the towel that was hanging on the ledge to dry himself off, as well as assure the still observing him Kankuro that he was indeed all right. Gaara buried his face in the soft towel and sure enough, after a moment or so, the door clicked shut and he was left with himself once again.

Once his brother had left, Gaara suddenly felt the fatigue that made his muscles go numb. For a moment he wondered how he was going to make it all the way to Konoha in this state. It was always like that, after those attacks. This one had been the worst until now though. And at registering how his skin still radiated heat, he considered the towel unneeded and let it pool onto the floor.

Gaara looked closely at his reflection. He was seventeen years old. He was the Kazekage. Since the invasion from five years ago, he was rather close with his siblings. He had the respect and trust of the villagers and he could have the love of… well, pretty much each and every girl and the occasional boy in the village, should he only accept it. He leaned closer and narrowed his eyes. Stupid girls. What did they like so much about him? What made them squeal and faint at him simply handing them a scroll containing the details of their mission? What? His position? Most probably. His mansion? That could be one of the things. His looks…? He hated his looks, because once they were the looks of a monster. Gaara despised the man in the mirror, he wanted to break it, wanted to hear the sound of it cracking, wanted to punch the mirror and watch the glass shatter to pieces…

And then the face started changing and it took the image of a blonde girl with sun-kissed skin and big blue eyes that could make the oceans jealous…and as Gaara froze with his fist mid-way, he stared wide-eyed, his sudden anger vanished just as suddenly. In his head echoed a scream that would haunt him the rare times he managed to fall asleep.

It was the scream of a beauty being tortured by a beast.

Eating guilt hit him, self-loathing hit him, regret hit him, and along with it all, came heat.

Chapter Text

Naruto made her way through the crowd that was composed mainly of mincing nobles and priggish snobs. She felt so painfully short on breath that, despite the rules of secrecy she had bound and obligated herself with, she removed the porcelain mask that covered her face. It made little to no difference. The wedding orchestra muted the sounds of the nearby conversations, but surprisingly, despite the thumping in her ears and the fact she was almost running, Naruto could hear every single word.

She could even hear the dangling and jingling of the groom's heavy rings and bracelets as the man swayed his massive arms around and smugly explained how big his forth house was to a group of seemingly interested bootlickers.

Naruto, apart from her presently arising problem, wasn't so sure if she'd manage to last until morning without hitting anyone of those pompous fatsos. It wasn't just them that pissed her off - it was the fact that the bride was forced to marry one of them. The worst of them all, actually.

Taking a mission to guard the wedding of the Fire Daimyo's daughter and getting to spend a whole day around her, Naruto had her down as the sweetest girl alive. Princess Yumi reminded her so much of Hinata - the sweet, gentle Hinata, that the blonde more than often caught herself clenching her fists in rage. This was so unfair. Naruto couldn't help but imagine herself in princess Yumi's place. The mere thought of the likes of such a person, a stranger at the least, sleeping beside her, touching her, made her sick to the bones. Marrying some random fatass in order to please who? The Daimyo? The village? Like hell she would. That would cut her off from any possible way of finding her own true love because, even though she hadn't seen much of it throughout her life, Namikaze-Uzumaki Naruto believed in true love.

And she would not let anyone ever take it away from her.

A particularly hard thump and the sight of the exit had her abandon her thoughts and wish more than ever for some fresh air. The "Are you alright, Naruto?" that came from a fellow shinobi fell on deaf ears as she passed by in complete concentration directed towards finally reaching the exit. During any other circumstances, she would've laughed at how she completely resembled a prisoner wanting to break free.

At last, with a trembling hand, she slid the door open and then closed it just as shakily. The air should've been cooler, she thought and winced desperately. Now that she had no distraction and silence engulfed her, she felt the full impact of the heat that nested within her. On a nearby terrace, a woman wrapped her coat tighter and as she shivered, she headed back in. Her breath was visible as she exhaled. Naruto's own breath was visible. So why was she taking her jacket off now?

What was this heat that made her body shake and demand something she had no idea about so suddenly?

Her sandal tangled in a garland. Naruto cussed inwardly, simply because she lacked the needed amount of air within her lungs to voice her irritation. She kicked it away. Faint lights coming from the mansion behind her let her see where she was going as she continued stumbling forward.

The fingers of her right hand curled and uncurled a few times. She realized she had dropped her mask. The blonde would have been worried about it if only a second later that very hand hadn't shot up to clutch her chest. Her lungs burned and the girl made a few more weak steps to reach a fountain with sweet little angels with bows and arrows in their arms and cute tiny smiles. As much as her current state let, she glared daggers at them. Those little flying bastards, were they mocking her pain?

Supporting herself, Naruto sank a hand in the water. The hissing sound of hot iron being sunken into cold water was momentarily followed by the water starting to evaporate.

Silence.

"EEEEEEH?!" Naruto exclaimed with her mind refusing to believe it. Was she having hallucinations now? Both hands gripped tightly onto the marble (that should've felt cold, by the way), and sank her head to her shoulders in the water.

It felt…Hot. Naruto came out and immediately began coughing, she spat out the water that had gotten in her mouth. It was hot like tea. She turned around and a particularly hard thump from her heart caused her to slide down.

Naruto, yet again, clutched her chest tightly and gritted her teeth. Just a little more, she told herself, just a little bit more and it'll go away. A sudden shot of pain, however, made her let out a cry and shut her eyes closed tightly. Playing the game of a puppet and a master puppeteer, her body now demanded for her to draw quick, shallow breaths that made her throat go painfully dry and wish for the tea-like water of the fountain.

Naruto wanted to escape.

How do you escape your own body, though?

Hollow echoes rang through her ears and there was a faint sense of touch that tingled on her skin. It took Naruto some time to realize that something, no, someone, was before her, talking to her. A beat of sweat which was soon followed by another rolled down the side of her face as she parted her eyelids, a blurry version of a very worried Shikamaru came into view. He was kneeling in front of his comrade, at her current level of height. The alert and concern that shone in his wide eyes made him look unnatural and uncharacteristic compared to his usual persona of a lazy genius with no concern of what was going on whatsoever. This just made Naruto imagine how critical she must be looking.

"I'll go get some help!" He said hastily and was just about to shoot up when suddenly his wrist was trapped within an iron grip. Surprised, Shikamaru looked at her, then shot a tentative look back at the mansion. A particularly tight squeeze on the wrist made him look back at her. The genius must've spotted something in her eyes that begged for him to stay, to be by her side right then and there. He swallowed nervously. Placing a hand over hers, he tried to give himself a calm expression.

Naruto's chest rose and fell so quickly that it was impossible to count. The grip on Shikamaru's wrist was so tight that it threatened to cut off his proper circulation. It hurt him, but he didn't say anything, he was just looking at her reassuringly and she was more than grateful for that. The only thing Naruto could hear was the inhuman beating of her own heart and the boiling blood thumping in her ears. But nevertheless, it was her ninja instinct to read lips that helped her understand what Shika said, but she never heard it – "Hold on, Naruto".

Is this the death of me?

And then, all of a sudden, as if the time had stopped or as if someone had pressed the stop button, it all started slowing down. Naruto's breath stuck in her throat… And then she exhaled slowly as if for the first time in her whole entire life. Lids dropped shut on their own accord and her head swiped back in relief.

Naruto let go of Shika's hand, but did not miss him attempting to cover the redness that was left on his wrist with the black sleeve. It would surely leave a bruise. She wanted to apologize, but found no strength to do so.

"Che, you're so troublesome," Shikamaru said after a few moments of silence. He rubbed the back of his head in an uncaring way, but managed to sneak a look of concern towards her.

There, by the fountain, a girl lay.

And after all that, the girl reached into the thin air to caress the cheek of a man.

A man with sea-foam eyes.

Chapter Text

"Leave some for Gaara, you fatass!" Temari yelled and hit Kankuro with her mini fan.

"B-But he doesn't want any more," the man in a cat-like costume argued while rubbing the back of his head where a bulge would soon form, "he's been munching on the same rice ball for half an hour now!"

Gaara looked down at the half-eaten rice ball in his hand as if he was seeing it for the first time in his life. Across him, Temari was still playing the role of the big sister and continued scolding Kankuro, "That doesn't mean you have to stuff your face! What kind of-…"

"It's okay, Temari " Gaara interrupted and they both looked at him oddly. "I'm not hungry."

"But, Gaara, you should eat…"

"Here," he reached his arm out, "have mine." Kankuro looked at Temari as if asking permission. She had her arms crossed and was biting her lower lip as if fighting an internal battle.

"Fine," she sighed and looked away, "but don't expect any compassion when you start breaking the tree branches when jumping on 'em."

"Hey! I'm a man and men eat a lot!" Kankuro interrupted.

Temari shot Gaara a burning look, "And neither you, Gaara, when you turn into a bag of bones!"

Gaara, however, wasn't listening anymore. Something had been provoking him for a while, and now that same thing had rapidly increased. It's been tickling his senses, calling him, and now it had so greatly took hold of him that Gaara found himself in a trance.

That scent. He had to follow the scent. Nothing else mattered, nothing. Gaara didn't realize that he had hopped up on his feet. He didn't realize when, with a nearly crazed look upon his face, he had headed to the forest. Neither did he realize when he started running and his siblings shouted for him to stop. He jumped up, through the tall trees and dashed through the forest in the direction that was in no way leading to Konoha. did he realize it when a blast of wind to hit him from the back and he dug nails into the bark of the tree and swung himself to front of the tree to keep balance? No. Gaara started dashing through the thick forest once again.

Chakra strings wrapped around his ankle and in mid-jump, he fell to the ground. His ninja senses, despite still being under a trance, kicked in and he rolled over. Gaara was just getting up and ready to move again, when strong arms wrapped around his biceps and held him down. A roar, an angry and animalistic roar gurgled in his throat and maybe he would have broken free, if it wasn't for the ANBU that escorted them to aid Kankuro and help keep him in place. Gaara trashed and desperately tried pushing them off. The oh-so-tempting scent was calling him, waiting for him: it burned his nose and made his throat go dry, but he wanted to taste the source of the scent. He wanted to have it, to taste it, to hold it, to...

The sound of a hard slap immediately cut off the whole commotion. Gaara's cheek pulsated and his head was tilted to the side. Realization dawned on him. He had just ran what? Five miles without a single sense of his body telling him to stop. Was this his body? He looked down at his hands and inhaled. The thought of maybe Shukaku taking over his body ran through his mind, but disappeared just as quickly. He wouldn't doubt the power and effectively of Naruto's seal – Naruto…

Temari kneeled down in front of him and placed a concerned hand on his shoulder,

"What is happening to you, Gaara?" Gaara clutched his hair with shaking fingers and almost bent in two. The tempting scent still danced in his nostrils, burned his lungs, and seduced his mind... and maybe he could still reach it… before he had lost the track…

It took him a while to realize he was shaking and pulling at his hair.

"I need…" he let out in a husky whisper. Temari, who has been kneeling before him, waited.

"You need what, Gaara? Tell us." Her. He wanted her. He needed her. But he never said it. Just clenched his jaw and stood up. Gaara was used to not getting what he wanted. The Kazekage would not lose authority because of a simple whim: a whim that pulsated inside of him and made him question his sanity for not being able to resist.

And it shocked Gaara when he realized just how much he wanted to see Naruto.

Chapter Text

"Now that was fucking great!" Naruto beamed happily and stretched out.

"Tsk, so troublesome," said none other than Nara Shikamaru who was sitting beside the girl. He looked inside the food can he was holding, "you sure eat a lot. Are you certain you're a girl?"

"Was that some sort of a perverted suggestion, Nara?" the blonde mused and laid back at the base of а tree they had left their bags on. "Besides," she spoke as she probed her hands behind her head, "What a girl wants, a girl gets, they say."

"Girls are troublesome."

The blonde jumped and pointed a finger at him accusingly, "You're one to speak!" Then her expression became conspiratorial, her hands came up cover her wide grin. "I wouldn't say you were troubled when you were sucking-face with Temari-chan last time I came to your pl-…gyah! Dammit, what was that for!?" Shika had just thrown one of the empty metal cans at her direction. He rubbed his forehead and sighed. He gathered his things and put everything in his backpack, then left it aside.

"Let's just rest."

Shika crowed to her and she offered him a place on the orange jacket that now had the function of a blanket. Shika spread his arms and Naruto was fast to snuggle on his shoulder. There had been some unanswered question from last night's accident, but that could wait. They had been through so much together and now, as they simply lay there watching the clouds lazily crossing through the sky, it felt like the chain of their friendship was unbreakable.

"Ne, Shika," Naruto started off in a soft voice, mesmerized by the fluffy clouds above, "did I say something bad?"

Beside her, Shika sighed.

"No," he looked to the side and said as if he was admitting something unpleasant "…I guess I just miss her a little." The girl smiled.

"I'm sure you'll get to see her soon. I'm really happy for you Shika." A sad smile graced her features, "at least one of us has found love."

"Tsk, what are you talking about, Naruto?" He tried to sound carelessly, but the blonde could still sense the hidden tension in his voice, "even if Mister Perfect came on a white horse and said he wanted you, like hell I'd let him have you," said he and drew her closer.

She laughed at his unusual vigor.

"Wouldn't it be too troublesome for your lazy ass to bother?"

Shika huffed.

"I'm a genius, remember? I'll think of something."

"No need for now." She stretched her arms up in the air, "I plan on staying single or a looong time…which would probably be the rest of my life."

Shikamaru smiled, "you never know."

They lay just like that, careless, cloud-watching, and content. It was a good time.

And then, just as Shika was talking and Naruto was laughing, her voice stuck in her throat and she fell quiet.

"And he-…uh?" The boy looked down at her. "Naruto?" A strange feeling flooded him. She suddenly shot up to a sitting position and stared blankly ahead. Shika sat up too and followed her gaze, but spotted nothing. What had provoked such a reaction in the plain decor of trees and grass? "Naruto?"

He reached to touch her arm and in the matter of a millisecond, she had pushed him onto the ground roughly and pinned his hands beside his head. The girl held him in an iron grip.

"Ugh!" He grunted at the used force. "The fuck, Naruto?" And then Naruto bent down as she was sitting on his abdomen and inhaled his scent deeply: as the girl came to his head, she made a disgusted face as if she had smelled something rotten. Just as Shikamaru was about to say something, still ignoring the strange feeling in his stomach and considering this all to be just a game, the girl opened her eyes and shot a look to the side, inside the forest. It was then that Shika took notice in how animalistic her gaze was and took account of the power she was pinning him down with. Naruto was sitting on him, staring intently at the dense forest: she was not breathing, not moving, not even blinking. The girl looked like a wild cat, sneaking at its prey and ready to attack: her back was as straight as a string. Feeling puzzled but already with his brain working on full speed, Shika held his breath and waited.

And then.

Just as fast and abruptly as Naruto had pinned him down, now she disappeared from above him and, be it surprise or astonishment, it took a few moment for Shika to register the lack of weight on him.

"Shit," he immediately took off after her as he saw a flash of yellow and orange dashing through the trees. And in a completely different direction to what they were supposed to go, might he add.

The girl was fast, Shika knew it better than anyone else, but he had a trick up his sleeve.

"Shadow transporting jutsu!" the male sank into thin air only to reappear from a shadow cast by the trees a mere few feet behind the outraged girl. He'd have to do it, he knew he had no choice before him. Shika attacked the blonde with a shadow and it happened just as he had predicted – she dodged it and jumped down to the ground. If it was Naruto, he reasoned, she would've figured out I was plotting something. The thing is, I have the feeling this is not quite the Naruto I know.

Shikamaru jumped right behind her, "Kagemane no jutsu!" Shadows snaked to Naruto and pinned her in place. She roared, she trashed, she struggled.

"Tch, you're making it so troublesome, Naruto," Shika hissed as he fought to gain full control. He had her walk to a tree and then on the male's command they both fell to their knees. Slowly but surely, Shika crawled to her and pressed to her from behind. "It's okay, Naruto, it's okay," he tried silencing her as the blonde kept roaring.

The male was searching for a chakra-suppressing tag when, all of a sudden, Naruto slipped out of his jutsu's control and kicked him roughly off of her. Cussing under his breath, Shikamaru pulled himself together and took off once again. There was one general problem, though. The forest area was about to end.

That meant that his source of shading would come to an end.

And without his shadows, he was nearly defenseless.

Naruto ran like a wild animal, jumping over stones and kicking away trees. It was too soon to guess and right now he had other things on his hands, but if it was up to Shika, he was nearly sure the Kyuubi had taken over. Which meant he had to act. Fast.

A broad meadow lay ahead with not a single cast of shadow on it and Shika had only seconds before he was stripped off of his chances of retrieving the girl. Forming the hand seals, just as Naruto jumped out in the broad space of the sunny meadow, Shikamaru shouted,

"Shadow Sewing Technique!"

Shadow tentacles reached out and wrapped around the blonde's ankle. She fell and hit her head on a stone.

And then Naruto lost consciousness.

Chapter Text

Warm hands with slender fingers traveled along her backside and left nothing but burning flesh and anticipation in their way. Hot breath ghosted along the column of her neck and strong hands wrapped around the breathless torso, making every cell in her body twitch and writhe in desire.

"Do you want me to touch you?" A deep voice whispered in her ear and bit the shell seductively. Naruto was on fire, she was burning, she was being tortured slowly and painfully. She has never been surer about anything in her entire life.

"Yes," the girl breathed out and leaned against the body as she reached up a trembling hand and buried shaky fingers in the mop of hair.

The mop of messy red hair.

The blonde could feel the man's lips curling upwards against her neck, "where do you want me to touch you?" the deep voice made goose bumps appear along the girl's trembling body: she was completely left on the man's will.

"Everywhere" the girl breathed with lidded eyes and felt herself melting in this heat – the heat of the man with red hair.

His smile stretched wider against her neck and the hot breath traveled up and towards her ear "come to me then" he whispered and his strong arms held her tighter, and tighter, clutching her, crushing her, then something sharp – his nails – dug hard along her abdomen and split the flesh wide open.

Naruto's eyes shot open and she held her breath. Despite the jolt of sharp pain that shot through her body at the action, she looked around. Tap. Tap. Tap. The familiar sound of sandals hitting the thick bark of the trees filled her ears. The rhythmic and monotone sound seemed to somewhat calm her and she released a shaky breath when she realized she was dashing trough the forest. And, as she took in account a millisecond later, she was on Shikamaru's back.

"Huh?" Shika spun his head around to look at her and a mop of lazily tied up hair brushed her face and, if it wasn't for her still thumping heart and shock, the girl would have wrinkled her nose. The male stopped on the next tree branch with a dull thud and helped her slide off of his back. The moment Naruto stepped on her legs, they gave out. Shika caught her in the last moment and she softly bumped her back against the tree.

"Naruto? Are you…all…" Shika watched as the girl hastily lifted her jacket and the shirt underneath, and frantically fell about the sun-kissed abdomen. There was nothing inappropriate about the scene, but Shika had the urge to look away until he heard her sigh in relief. The girl leaned her head against the tree and closed her eyes. She couldn't quite remember her dream: blurry images danced before her closed lids and slurred whispers echoed in her ears, but the feel, the sensation was more than alive. So was the pain that overcame her when his claws ripped her flesh open…

Was he…the man in her dream…was he…

Gaara?

Her heart skipped a beat and she lolled forward. Familiar and oh-so-torturing heat licked her torso from the inside and started spreading along her body. Her hair fell loose in front of her face as she supported herself on shaky hands.

"We need to find out what's going on, Naruto. And you need to rest." Shikamaru was immediately by her side and put a hand on her shoulder to push her back. She didn't move though, and the boy recalled with rising fear how she had held him down with an iron grip. He straightened his back and reached for a kunai.

"Konoha…" nothing but a whisper was heard behind the veil of unruly golden locks. "Konoha…I need to go to Konoha…" Shikamaru knew Naruto and Naruto's voice was definitely not that deep. The girl's shoulders trembled and a deep chuckle rose from her throat. And then Shikamaru saw it. Nothing more but a few uncovered inches of her face made him freeze: a pink tongue licking long, sharp canines as the barely audible deep chuckle shook her body.

Shikamaru pulled out a kunai. Naruto stood up.

And to his surprise, instead of attacking him, as he, frankly, thought she would, she reached and took her backpack.

"Geez, Shikamaru, are you going to sit and laze around whole day? How much more have we got until we reach Konoha?" The girl asked annoyed and tied her hair up. Then she grinned. And, questioning his sanity and eyesight, the male noted her shiny teeth…with no sight of long and sharp canines, whatsoever. Shikamaru blinked.

Naruto bent to the still sitting boy and waved a hand before his eyes, "Helloooo, stop spacing out, you lazy ass, and let's go back home. I'm tired of this damned forest."

Shika furrowed and came up and onto his legs, "I went back to get our things and then carried you while you were out for a few hours." Shika said as he adjusted his backpack where it belonged. He wanted to see her reaction at his allusive tone.

She turned her back to him and made a few hard steps on the steady branch. "How. Far. Away. From. Konoha." She repeated in a low and menacing voice. His suspicions were confirmed and his heart swelled.

The girl before him, by no means, was the Uzumaki Naruto he knew.

Not entirely, that is.

He sighed and put the kunai away. She wasn't causing trouble. For now. "We're probably a day away."

She abruptly looked at him and smiled her usual stupid smile, "perfect." Then she made a sign for him to follow, "come on. Let's get out of here."

She jumped and Shikamaru followed her. He kept an eye on her and if he wasn't so busy analyzing and thinking about what the fuck was going on and how to handle it, he might have heard the girl whisper, "I'm coming to you."

He might have even noticed her animalistic gaze and trembling lips, holding back crazed-out laughter and hiding deadly canines.

"Kankuro-sama, Temari-sama," the leader of the medic-nins traveling with them addressed them, "aside from the high temperature of his body, which is gradually falling, we could find nothing wrong with the young Kazekage."

"Aah. Thank you." The nin bowed and went off. Temari and Kankuro exchanged gazes, then looked at their little brother, who was leaning against the stalk of a massive tree with a wet cloth on his forehead. They went and kneeled by him.

"Gaara," Temari started with a hard voice, "you're hiding somet-"

"I'm not fucking hiding anything!" Gaara shouted and jumped up, throwing the cloth away. "Can't you see that I know as much as you do?" His sister's expression softened as she, too, stood up, followed by Kankuro.

"Do you think that maybe the seal could have loosened and messed with your head?"

"No." I'm sure of Naruto's seal, he wanted to add, but his body started burning at the thought of her again. He clenched his teeth and spun around on his heels. Placing his right palm on the bark of the tree, he dug his nails and curled his fingers, leaving claw marks.

"Konoha…" he uttered.

"Gaara…"

"I need to get to Konoha as fast as possible," his mind spoke for him.

"Uhh…Gaara?" Kankuro sounded unsure and suspicious.

He was deaf to their calls. Excitement and anticipation bubbled inside of the young Kazekage and a sinister smile that the boy was unaware of stretched on his face. She was there. He knew he'd find her there. In Konoha.

"Gaara!" The boy snapped back to reality when Kankuro gripped his shoulder tightly and spun him around. The sinister smile that spoke of his secret plans was gone and, what was more interesting, Gaara didn't even remember it. His older brother was but an inch shorter than him and looked him dead in the eyes, appraisingly, suspiciously, still gripping his shoulders.

"Don't be stupid, Kankuro," Gaara brushed his hand away with his usual stoic façade on. "I clearly need an experienced medical check. And who is a better medic-nin and more experienced than Tsunade-sama?"

That night, as many, many nights before, Gaara couldn't fall asleep. He couldn't stop thinking how she, who he had clearly tried to kill, had cried for him, his enemy so many years ago. He couldn't escape the memory how, barely alive after the Akatsuki had kidnapped him, she had come to save him. The blurry memory of when he had opened his eyes and saw her teary, but happy eyes, and how he had heard her call for him in desperation, was his last memory of her. He had passed out due to his exhaustion, but later he was told about what she did for him and found out that she had made a seal that would let Shukaku's chakra mix with his own as time passed.

And it's been more than two years since then.

Gaara got up soundlessly and walked through the moonlit forest with slow steps. An owl hooted in the distance and it was like the sound triggered past regrets inside the man. He had tried to kill her. She probably hated him. Why would she save him them, he asked himself? It was probably her mission. She was a shinobi, shinobi did what they were told. They were weapons. Why did she cry then? They had told him how she had screamed about the unfairness and cruelty of being a jinchuuriki. She probably pitied him. And hated him.

He knew he deserved it.

And yet, his heart swelled at the thought and he clutched his chest. That blurry memory of her triggered more feelings that all of the love letters he had ever recieved from any other girl. Gaara came to the bank of the river that was silently flowing in the cool night. The ruble spiked his bear feet and it was as if even the little sharp stones wanted punishment for his deeds. Guilt ate at him and he bit his lip – something he never did in front of people – and stepped into the cold water. It calmed him and he liked to think that it somehow washed his sins away.

Then he looked up to the moon: the same moon he had stared blankly at for so many sleepless nights. The moon meant loneliness. Darkness. Sadness.

Gaara looked down at the clear water. It felt hotter than just moment ago. The river seemed to flow faster, as if wanting to take him somewhere. He looked up to where the river meandered through the valley, accompanied with miles of thick forest on both sides.

Maybe it was time for sun to shine for Gaara and drive away the evil moon.

Maybe.

But for now, Gaara just stepped out of the water.

Shikamaru sat up abruptly. Damn it, he had dozed off! He tsked and cursed loudly when he saw the empty and disarray sleeping bag. The moon lit his way as the male ran off towards the river bank – he could feel chakra gathering there and, with no doubt in his mind, he knew that Naruto was there.

It wasn't far away and it wasn't long before Shika reached the bank. The ruble rolled underneath his sandals that he had intentionally left on and he steadied himself. There, in the middle of the river, stood Naruto with her back to him, her long blonde hair cascading in mad waterfalls down her back, her slender figure lined out by the silky moon light. She was staring up. At the moon.

And then as if on slow motion, the girl spun her head around easily, not a single other muscle trembling at the action. Shika was ninja, an assassin, he had seen death and gore. And yet he remembered that one moment years after that: the way her neck twisted unnaturally to reveal her face where two crimson orbs shone in the dim light and the most sinister, the most demonic and menacing smile split her otherwise beautiful and affable features.

This wasn't Naruto.

This was the demon inside of her.

Shika breathed in abruptly. It was then that time started flowing again and the rest of her body came into view. Hands with long claws rested by her thighs. Apart from her usual orange shorts, she had only fishnet cloth wrapped around her breasts. The seal on her abdomen was visible.

And it was burning.

Just as the male was thinking through his plan, not that he really knew how to deal with that sort of thing, the seal's glowing faded away and the girl's stretched lips eased off. She lolled back with lidded eyes, but then caught herself and rubbed her forehead. Shika walked slowly to the water.

"Huh?" Naruto looked up at him. "Shika." She smiled the most genuine smile in full contrast to the one literally ripping her features mere moments ago. The male stepped into the water and went by her side. It was his Naruto again, he knew her by the smile.

Naruto looked up once again, "the moon is very beautiful tonight, ne, Shika?"

Shika nodded and stared at her with the corner of his eye. What was the most scary was not that his best friend housed a demon that apparently took over her.

It was the fact that she obviously didn't recall it happening.

And as Shika offered for them to go back to sleep and led her out of the water, it didn't escape his notice how her gaze lingered down the river. She then frowned and followed him back to their improvised camp.

Chapter Text

It was the day after that the travelers from Suna made it to Konoha. there, the Hokage awaited them at the main gate and a large crowd had come to greet them, and especially the widely-known Kazekage.

"Ah, Kazekage. Welcome to Konoha."

"I'm glad to be here, Tsunade-sama," Gaara greeted back and instead of shaking the woman's extended hand, he took it and leaned down to kiss it.

"Ha," the Hokage snorted, "when did you become such a gentleman, you gaki?"

"I'm a fast learner."

Tsunade smiled.

"Well then, I'll show you to your rooms," Gaara walked after the woman and everyone else followed. The crowd was big, girls were screaming and shinobi were nodding at him approvingly, some stepped forward to shake hands with him. Gaara looked around carefully as he followed Tsunade.

He frowned.

There was no sign of Naruto.

"Oi, Shikaaaa!"

Naruto shook the snoring male and he jumped up from his sleeping bag. The girl stared at his morning hair for a moment, then boomed with loud laughter. Her wide smile made Shika's blood freeze for an instant as he recalled last night's events.

"You should see yourself!" she pointed at him, then flicked his messy ponytail, and a new set of convulsing laughter made her hold her stomach. "You manage to amaze me every single time," said the girl, wiping her eyes and standing up, "come on, sleeping beauty, we've gotta go back to Konoha, remember?" Naruto tightened her tied up hair and walked off to pack up.

The male got up and started rolling up his sleeping bag, "aren't you tired?" he asked.

"No, why? I shlept jlike a bhaby," the girl answered with her mouth full of onigiri and Shika almost sweat-dropped. She handed him one, grinning.

"Uhh, no, thanks. I'm not hungry."

"More for me then!" the girl chimed happily and stuffed her face.

"Why is it such a rush for you to go home anyway?" Shika asked cautiously and watched for her reaction with the corner of his eye as he zipped up his backpack. The girl seemed taken aback. She then shrugged, "I don't know. I guess I just miss the village and everyone, you know." Naruto continued munching happily on the rise balls. Shika frowned.

Somehow, this wasn't a good enough and believable answer.

"I'm going to the river for a bit," he informed the girl and sneaked a scroll under his jacket.

Shika snaked a hand inside the inner pocket of his jacket. Placing the paper tag he had just drawn out on the wet rubble, he looked around to be sure he wasn't being watched. Then, he performed the simple hand signs for this jutsu and poured chakra in the tag. The black characters depicted on it merged together and swirled to become a swirling black hole in the ground. Rolling up the scroll that he had just finished writing, he was ready to send it through the seal. Shika pressed his lips together – it felt like he was betraying Naruto, but he had no choice. He had to report. He had to warn the Hokage as to what was going on with the girl so that the woman would be ready to take action when they go back to Konoha.

Hit by a sudden feeling of being watched, Shika turned around.

"I didn't know we had to report to Tsunade-baa-chan today," Shika heard the girl say in a pretended surprised voice and looked up to see her jump off a tree behind him. The rubble cracked beneath Naruto's feet and she leaned against the tree with her arms crossed.

"I…" Shika swallowed, suddenly nervous, "I thought it was in place to warn the Hokage that we'll be coming back sooner than expected."

"Oh? And why would Tsunade-baa-chan want to know that?" Naruto pushed herself off of the tree and walked to kneel next to the male, "You know how busy she always is, why would you bother her with such unneeded information? All she needs to know is that our mission was a success, ne, Shika?" her blue eyes were distant and menacing, her voice held an unspoken threat.

She leaned in closer, "or could it be…that you're reporting something else?"

Shika's heart raced and he tried to give himself an uncaring expression as he looked away, "tsk, what are you talking about, Naruto? Now that you've said it, there's really no reason for me to report." the boy tried to sound bored, but as he reached to cancel the jutsu and tear the tag off the ground, he thought wildly of a way to beat around the bush and somehow report. However, he could feel Naruto's intense gaze on him. There was no way out of it. He curled his fingers around the corner of the tag and pulled it. The jutsu was canceled. Shikamaru felt like being beaten in his own game.

Naruto reached and curled her fingers around the scroll in his hand with a calm smile, "I'm glad we smoothed that, Shika," she chimed and as she held the scroll, the paper darkened and then turned to ashes, which the wind gust blew away. Naruto stood up and brushed off the remaining ashes from her clothes,

"Now let's head for Konoha." She stood up and walked off.

As Shikamaru followed her, he thought that the girl had lived to the description of being "troublesome". Now she had advanced to the next level.

A few levels higher, actually.

Now, she was life-threatening.

And Shika had the unpleasant feeling that there were higher levels for Naruto to advance to.

"You can rest here for now. We'll meet later, Kazekage, Temari-san, Kankuro-san." Tsunade nodded at them and turned around to walk away, leaving the three in front of their respective rooms in the Hokage tower.

"Hokage-sama," called Kankuro and locked eyes with Gaara, silently saying if you don't tell her, I will.

"What is it?" the blond woman asked with both hands on her hips.

Gaara furrowed his brows at Kankuro. He was going to tell her without his prompting and stupid threats.

"I've got a problem, Hokage, that I'd wish to get your opinion on," said Gaara in his usual husky voice and the woman stared him down.

"Very well." Tsunade spun on her heels, "follow me."

The Hokage led them to an unoccupied office, as it seemed, judging by the dusty desk and the stagnant air. The woman gestured for Gaara to sit on the wooden chair that rested before the desk.

"You might want to give your brother some privacy," Tsunade suggested to the other two as she rolled up her sleeves.

"It's okay," muttered Gaara and unbuttoned his blood-red cloak to take off the black shirt that hugged his slender torso underneath. As the male sat down on the hard chair, green light glowed off the Hokage's hands and slowly traveled along the male's naked back. The feeling was warm and relaxing. Gaara's lids weighed down and his vision blurred.

The outline of plump lips set on a blank face appeared before him and he couldn't help but drag a curious thump along them, marveling at the softness of the flesh. He wondered how they tasted and how they would feel against his own set of lips. An equally pink tongue's tip slipped from between the soft lips and licked the man's thump. Gaara felt its tickling roughness and slickness.

The lips he had so blindly admired now stretched into a wide grin with sharp canines adoring it: the teeth parted and clapped down on his finger.

Gaara's eyes shot open and he immediately looked down at his own hands. All was in place. The man exhaled as he tried to control his frantic heartbeat. The Hokage was still conducting her check-up. After a minute or so, she stepped back and the soothing green light died out. The woman went to the dusty desk and sat down on the chair.

"Well?" Gaara asked as the woman said nothing. She had her fingers entwined and was staring at him.

She then sighed and leaned back, "you're in perfect condition."

"What?" Kankuro almost shouted, "No, Hokage-sama, that can't be, you should've seen him, he was absolutely mad crazy!"

"But I haven't. And right now, your brother is in more than perfect condition. I can't detect any illness or damage on his body whatsoever."

Gaara didn't listen to them. The dream he just had was still before his eyes.

"Kazekage?" Tsunade addressed him and the man looked up. "I asked for how long you've been having those "heat attacks", as you call them."

"For about two weeks."

"I see," she leaned back.

A squeal made the male looked to the side, "Oh, Gaara, why didn't you tell us?" Gaara didn't answer. Temari reached and wrapped her fingers around his hand, "It's okay to ask for help, how many times do I have to tell you?"

"I didn't want to bother you…"

The girl looked hurt, "oh, Gaara…"

"You used to be the jinchuuriki of the Ichibi, correct?" Tsunade butted in.

"Yes, and about three years ago his chakra started mixing with my own. And now that Shukaku's gone, his chakra is all that's left of him."

"I see," the woman said thoughtfully.

"What if it's because of the seal?" Temari asked.

Tsunade snorted, "I couldn't possibly know, I'm not an expert on-"

"Where's Naruto?" Gaara let out the question so abruptly that the others got the feeling he'd been holding the it for long. Tsunade blinked at the sudden desire of the Kazekage to know the whereabouts of the loudmouth she held so dear.

"She's out on a mission. We'll have someone else check your seal, if she doesn't come back before your next attack, if there is such."

"No."

"No?"

"No one else. It's gotta be her." Gaara stared blankly ahead and gripped the armrests of the chair so hard that his knuckled went white.

"I see," the woman murmured thoughtfully. "Well then," she got up, "you should rest." She walked to the door and wrapped slender fingers around the doorknob. "Kazekage?" Gaara looked up at her.

"Why did your heart start thumping so suddenly?"

"Please sign here as well, Nara-san.," Shikamaru was currently registering their returning at Konoha's main gate – a chore that every shinobi had to go through when taking off for a mission or coming back from such. "Very well, now for Uzumaki-san to…sign…" the guard trailed off and leaned over the counter to look as the blonde girl walked off in a slow pace, dragging her feet.

"She'll sign later, she's not feeling well," said Shika as he handing the guard the documents and ran off to catch up to Naruto. The girl was walking in small steps and was staring at the Hokage tower with a hypnotized gaze. Shika furrowed his eyebrows – Naruto was acting suspicious again and could be a possible threat to anyone that happened to be near.

"Hey, Naru, how about I take you home so you could take a shower and rest, then I'm gonna come back and give the report? You don't have to worry." The two were nearing the entrence of the tower where various shinobi walked in and out and even more civilians walked along the street, sure that their lives were in safe hands.

"No, I can give it myself," the girl said without looking at him. They stepped into the building.

Shika pressed his lips together, "you need to come with me Naruto!" He reached to grab her wrist, but touching it, the skin burned him and he instinctively let her go. In the blink of an eye, the girl was already at the top of the stairs and turned left to walk down the round hallway, exactly where Tsunade's office was. A low chuckle lingered after the girl.

"Naruto!" Shika drew out a chakra suppressing tag and ran after her. He climbed the stairs wiyh two wide strides and when he looked down the hallway, she was gone.

"Say, Shika," the male almost jumped and turned around to see Naruto leaning against the wall with crossed arms. Golden bangs were covering the girl's face, but not enough to hide her blue eyes. She stepped forward. It's not too late yet, Shika thought and gripped the tag tighter behind his back, almost scrunching the paper "are you trying to make me stay away from him?"

Him?

Shikamaru didn't answer.

The girl stepped closer, "I know what you were trying to do earlier at the river…Ne, Shika…did you know?" the girl leaned against him, her palms rested on his chest, as her breath ghosted up to his ear, "…your heart starts beating faster when you lie," she whispered and now, Shika knew, it was already too late.

Just as the last word was leaving Naruto's lips, Shika slung his arm around to place the tag on her back in an attempt to withhold her, the place where her hands rested on his chest burned and an immense impact sent the male flying back to the wall, knocking the very wind our of him and blurring his vision, making his head spin and thump like mad. He couldn't keep balance, so he slid to the ground on his side. With unfocused vision and nearly suffocating for air, Shika caught a glimpse of Naruto's sandals as she spun around on her heels. He heard a deep chuckle and the faint echoes of her sandals as she ran down the hallway.

Gaara was just putting his black shirt back on. His siblings were discussing something, probably the check-up that had just taken place, but he had long ago decided to ignore them. Strange anticipation was bubbling in his chest.

Rolling the shirt down to his waist, he already knew what it was caused by. The male froze right into place and stared down at his feet, his hands letting go of the fabric and hanging loosely by his sides. However, Gaara knew, he was stronger than ever.

Because she was here.

She had come back, her scent was growing stronger, more appealing, more seductive, she was calling for him, she was coming to him.

"Gaara?" the tension caught his siblings' attention and when Gaara obviously didn't hear them, they didn't know it was already too late. The male looked up at the door, blood-red bangs covering his eyes and his jaw was clenched firmly – now they knew it was already too late.

Just as Temari reached for her fan and Kankuro – for his puppet, Gaara flew running past them, pushed the door with his palm, sending it flying off its hinges. The massive wooden door hit the wall behind with a loud thud, cracking to pieces.

And then, just as Gaara ran past the Hokage, making her hair and robes swish, just as Temari and Kankuro ran through the hole in the wall that was left, just as Shika forced all of his willpower to stay awake despite the need for oxygen, Naruto spun right around the corner: her sandals were still sliding on the floor from the speed she had run with, her hair swished from the abrupt turn, their eyes locked.

The time stopped: here they were, Gaara in mid-step, grabbing Naruto by both sides of her torso and lifting her up, her hair spilled in a million golden locks as she held his forearms, two masterpieces of sinister smiles stretching their features as their noses almost touched and breaths mixed together. It was like an intense source of chakra exploded, and its shock wave made time start flowing again – Gaara slammed Naruto against the wall behind so hard that it made pieces of the wall crumble down, a round crater with various rifts formed, and the walls vibrated. They slammed their lips together, locked them, and finally understood this burning heat, this need, this desire. They kissed like mad in the midst of all hell breaking loose: she wrapped her legs around his waist, he clawed at her clothes and rocked against her, slid his hands down her sides. There were screams around them, there was chaos. For them, however, it was perfect. The girl's head lolled back and Gaara bit at her collarbone, marking her, hard enough to draw blood. The girl let out a screaming moan and pulled at his hair, then dragged her nails down the back of his neck...

Suddenly, Gaara was pulled back and held down forcefully, his hands tied tightly behind his back with chakra strings. He roared and struggled, he trashed, he kicked and sought escape, until he heard a scream that stood above the whole uproar.

He froze and looked with wide eyes as the blonde girl slid against the crumbled wall, holding her collarbone where he had bitten her. The girl collided with the ground and her blue orbs rolled to the back of her head, as her body lay there unmoving.

What have I done, was Gaara's only thought.

Chapter Text

What have I done? … Gaara watched in slow motion, cheek and chest pressed to the cold hard floor as he was being held down rather hesitantly. Shinobi ran in every direction possible, someone was shouting orders, someone else was screaming for help and other was cussing. The chaos itself had unfolded.

The Hokage ran to the blonde girl on the floor, fear and concern written on her face. She held her face surprisingly gently but clumsily calling her name. Tsunade shook her then checked her pulse. The woman looked frightened.

Blonde hair swished and lifeless arms hung by as Naruto was carried down the hall. Probably to the Hokage's personal cabinet. The rushed clicking of heels against the stone floor stopped and Tsunade stood before Gaara. His cheek was pressed onto the cold stone, guards still held him, although loosely. They wouldn't dare be rough with a Kage. It might turn against them. The man was pale and his expression was void. His eyes… were like a whole village with all its people was closed into glass bubbles and was screaming for help before the burning fire of hell itself breaks loose and having nowhere to run.

The woman seemed uncertain. She made a sign for the guards to let him and she, too, walked down the round hall.

Gaara slowly, even unknowingly, sat up kneeling.

He felt like he was underwater and had stayed without air for far too long.

He looked down at his hands then stared back to where they had taken the girl.

"What have I done", he whispered this time.

Gaara splattered cold water on his face and refused to look in the mirror. He wouldn't recognize the man there anymore. Losing composure, attacking people, hurting Naruto – Naruto… Just what had happened? He touched his lips. It had felt, unlike many things in his life, right. Perfect. And then there was this ugly tearing feeling nestled deep inside of him, eating at him, infuriating his previous guilt. It's already been an hour… it couldn't have been two or three even, could it? How long has he stayed locked inside that bathroom… Felt like weeks. He didn't want to go outside.

Why, why, oh why have things gone so wrong? How was he supposed to face her now, just when he-

"Come on, little bro, you have to get out some when, you know that. Can't stay in there forever!" No answer followed. Gaara ignored the muffled voice. "Look, I don't what happened and by the looks of it neither do you. Yeah, you fucked up. But as long as you keep yourself locked in there, you sure as hell ain't gonna fix anything. I kno-"

"Spare me your life prophesies and philosophies, Kankuro" Gaara interrupted in his stern voice and exited the small bathroom. The redhead awkwardly shifted his pale gaze from his brother and went to his gourd, carefully propped up by the awful brown couch. Lean fingers played with the straps and the young Kazekage didn't want to look or talk to the man behind. His brows were furrowed and the occasional bite graced his soft lips – a rare habit.

Kankuro scratched his messy head,

"Look, little bro, you're probably embarrassed by … what you… did with this girl… I mean, it was kinda hot but it was in front of everyone and, you kn-"

"Did she wake up?" Gaara interrupted again, unintentionally letting genuine emotions and affection lace his otherwise rigorous deep voice.

Kankuro seemed taken aback. Was his brother…concerned? Not just embarrassed as he thought he'd be?

"N-… Uuh, no," he cleared his throat "No. Tsunade-sama is with her. She asked about you – told her you needed some time alone."

"Is N-" guilt surged through him and made him bite his tongue. He couldn't say her name evev. "Is… she going to be fine?" Gaara asked in a silent whisper. The lean fingers playing with the strap of his gourd stopped and he timidly waited for the response.

The older man sighed. "She can't tell."

Kankuro was silent. He stared at his little brother's back with faint surprise and thoughtfulness. At the answer, the boy clenched the strap and lowered his head. This is the weakest he'd ever seen his little brother… even when he didn't dare call the boy so.

This weakness… this unfeigned and genuine concern made him look… well, human, and it was scary just how much of the calm and powerful Kazekage was a mask.

Kankuro stepped closer, "why don't you go see her?"

"I can't," light shake of the head.

"Why not?" the older brother tried placing a hand on the man's shoulder, but the other shifted his stance, not welcoming signs of affection at the moment. Kankuro tsked. He was being too hasty. It was the mask again.

"Look, Gaara. She went berserk too. It's not all your fault, you know. Sure, you two... kissed, which was totally weird-"

"It wasn't just a kiss."

"Yeah, exactly, it was more of a berserk make out," Kankuro scratched his head awkwardly remembering his stoic little brother roaming viciously the girl's body, thrusting brutally against her and, oh god, the way they kissed, how they fucking kissed, for god's sake! The man blushed madly and clicked his tongue. "The point, little bro, is that she attacked someone as well, hell, she almost sent the poor guy into a coma and-" at the menacing gaze that Gaara directed at him, he chocked on his words. Heavy silence hung in the room as Gaara shifted his intense gaze to the wall ahead.

"Kankuro… Do you think she hates me now?" came the silent question in a voice so fragile and child-like that Kankuro blinked. Just who was this girl to make this so powerful and composed man sound like he's about to break any moment now?

The older man tried to shrug off the question and sound positive and assuring, "of course not," but ended up only sounding pretended and nervous.

Gaara turned around hesitantly, but still didn't lock eyes with his brother, "I care about her." He looked away again.

"I know." Kankuro smiled gently. He felt his little brother closer than ever. Kankuro was a ladies man, but he knew about feelings. "Come. I'll take you to the Hokage's cabinet. She's there."

"I know where she is. You go… I'll come by later." Under the heavy doubtful gaze of his brother, Gaara added, "I will," and finally locked eyes with the other man. The sternness he ruled a whole village with was back, although still tinted with buried emotions, genuine revelations and fears.

Oh, the fear.

Kankuro nodded and went for the door.

"Kankuro," the latter stopped and turned to look back at Gaara who was staring outside the window. He saw him clench his fists in uncertainty.

"… Thank you…brother."

Oh, the fear.

"Damn brat, always causing trouble, dammit!" murmured the Hokage, but the concern in her voice was audible. And visible on her face. She had tried everything, done anything she could. The little brat continued just lying there! Barely breathing, not even an eyelash fluttering. If it wasn't for the shallow breathing she would look absolutely dead… And if this all was what she thought it was…

The Hokage bit her thumbnail.

"God dammit, I need the Kazekage to be sure!" she stated more to herself than to the other people in the room and shot for the door with furrowed brows and a determined expression.

"He said he'd come on his own!" almost shouted Kankuro and stood in her way to the door. The woman pushed him away with surprising strength, "I don't have time to wait for him to think about the meaning of life and brood whole day while the gaki is lying there unconscious almost four hours already!" Tsunade went to open the furious, "if that little red-headed brat thin-… Kazekage!" Tsunade opened the door only to come to the view of said male just standing there.

"Gaara…" Kankuro threw the unconscious girl a look and then stared back at his brother, suddenly understanding and processing the boy's feelings about coming here.

"How long have you been standing there?" asked the Hokage incredulously and just a bit suspiciously.

"A while."

Tsunade stepped away from the door and Gaara came in slowly, not looking at anyone, not even Naruto. Heavy silence hung around.

"How are you feeling?"

"…Better."

The woman nodded. Gaara finally sneaked a look at the insensate blonde girl and the sudden bite on his lower lip did not go unnoticed.

"Is she going to be fine?" he asked, not looking away from the blonde. Tsunade furrowed her elegant eyebrows. She couldn't help but somewhat, be it unintentionally, blame the young man for the girl's current state. The Hokage exhaled heavily and threw her hands in defeat, "I don't know." The woman tapped angrily with her high heels to the same ugly brown couch the girl was placed on and brushed off a strand of golden hair from the blonde's face, "I tried everything. All my knowledge, I used it all." She cupped the girl's sun-kissed cheek, "I did everything I could to help her."

The oh-so-known heavy silence nestled once again.

They couldn't help her? The greatest medic-nin of their time, of the history known to shinobi, couldn't heal her? Couldn't unmake his mistake? His sudden insanity?

What has he done?

Oh, the fear! The fear that consumes you, the fear that spreads through your every nerve and cell, the fear of knowing you are the one responsible, the fear of the truth.

Oh, the tightened throat.

Oh, the beating heart, thump-thump-thump-thump, and ice-cold sweat.

Oh the panic, the fright. The uncertainty, oh the consuming horror - like flames, licking and kissing your skin lustfully just before burning and scarring it forever.

Oh, human emotions.

And oh, poor Gaara's fragile little heart.

Gaara had been having this urge, like an insight when you know you have to do something, you just know it, but different from the heat before.

And just as Tsunade was caressing Naruto's cheek, just as Kankuro was standing there and Shizune awaited orders, just as Shikamaru, who was in the room as well, and even after being injured was reading through scrolls and spacing off, just as the guards stood silently and unnoticeably in the corners of the room and outside the door… time stopped… and just then, Gaara's urge intensified. It struck him and put him down on his knees.

The young man clenched his fists. He made the determined steps to the couch Naruto was lying on, eyes wide, lips parted, so caught up in the moment that he pushed the Hokage away roughly who had stood in front of him, hands spread, not letting him lean to the girl, guarding Naruto from him as she felt the sudden change in the man's demeanor. Tsunade didn't let him anywhere near Naruto. Not with that crazed-out gaze. Not with anything.

"Hokage… Tsunade-sama… please," the young man let out. Pleading.

The woman thought for a moment… then tentatively and cautiously stepped away. She still had her eye on him. He sat down carefully and leaned in to caress the blonde's cheek. She looked so peaceful. She was absolutely beautiful.

Where was all this coming from?

Something was making him do this. Guiding him.

Gaara leaned in and breathed onto the place he had bitten her collarbone – something he had a vague remembrance of. Like the whole thing. Then a lean finger traced the skin gently.

A red mark with complex characters and signs appeared on the touched spot. It resembled a seal being formed, just like when you seal a contract and pour your blood on it. And it faded away just as quickly. The man slowly cupped her cheek and looked at her. He could feel her shallow breath, inches away from her calm face.

What did that mean? Gaara himself did not know, let alone anyone else in the room who were there silent, waiting.

So Gaara waited as well.

Nothing happened.

The Hokage grew even angrier and pulled him back by the shoulder offhandedly. She was outraged. She was going to kill him.

Oh, the fe-

Just then though, Naruto breathed in deeply and all fell silent. Heavy lids parted slowly. Tsunade's hand fell from the man's shoulder in surprise as she stared, holding her breath. Naruto's blurry vision allowed her to see only a haze of red hair, pale skin, teal eyes… such beautiful eyes…

She shot forward and sat up.

Her head was spinning. Surprise in her eyes. The nice kind of surprise.

"Gaara…" she whispered and cupped his cheek not believing she was seeing the man so unexpectedly after what, three years? Why was he here?

Wait, where was here, where the hell was she?

Suddenly, sparse images and a ball of sensations of Gaara's lips moving roughly and demandingly against hers and strong arms shamelessly grabbing her whole body flooded her mind… and oh god, how that made her feel.

She just stared at him, inches away, surprise and confusion had just been joined by embarrassment and flushed cheeks. Naruto looked away and Gaara stood up, turning his back to her and stepping away to the window. Tsunade leaned in and took the girl into a rare hug. Naruto was seemingly confused, she kept looking to and away from Gaara's back.

"Tsunade-baa-chan? Uuh, what happened?" Then she reached to touch her collarbone. Gaara observed with the corner of his eye. The girl seemed confused by her own action as there wasn't anything there. It didn't even hurt there. She shrugged it off.

"Naruto!" Shikamaru rushed and sat on the couch next to her much too energetic for his lazy persona. His head was bandaged, his sandals were rolled down to let injuries on his legs and knees heal and more bandages peaked out of his loose black shirt and across his chest where he was burned. "Oi, you all right?"

Naruto looked at him and his bandages dumbfounded. "Shika! What-"

And then she remembered.

It was like the girl was watching the scene from afar: a shinobi turning against their friend and attacking them suddenly. It was surreal. Soft rosy lips parted. She couldn't believe it had been her! Shikamaru was her best friend in the whole wide world, she owned him so much! How could she have possible hurt him? Naruto felt dizzy. She was short on air. Shikamaru furrowed his elegant eyebrows in concern. The blonde clutched her head and frantic murmurs left her lips as she rocked back and forward and wouldn't look at him.

"Hey, hey, hey, Naru," Shika gripped her arms and with a bit of a struggle managed to make her let go of her golden locks. "Hey, look at me," he lifted her chin gently, "it's okay." Naruto looked up at him with broken blue eyes. She reminded of a guilty little child about to cry. "Tsk, come here," and he pulled her to his chest. The girl tried pushing back but he held her tight and caressed her golden hair, "you're so troublesome. It's okay, Naru."

"No, it's not," came a muffled reply and the girl clutched his black shirt, "I hurt you and I don't even know why… and all these other people, are they all right?" she sniffed and Shikamaru brought her closer.

"That's what we're trying to find out, gaki," Tsunade butted in with unusual tenderness in her voice. The woman stepped closer and sat down on the couch as well, "and don't worry. Everyone will be just fine. And now that you're finally awake, I'll have to run some examinations on both you and the Kazekage here." Naruto looked over to Gaara hesitantly and saw him just nod in reply, still looking out the window. Somehow, the man knew when she was going to look over at him. He had just averted his gaze after witnessing the whole scene and was gripping the ledge of the window a bit too tight.

Naruto pushed back from Shika gently careful not to hurt him any more, "Okay," she let out, "when can I go home?"

"You're not going home, gaki. You're not allowed."

"Uuh?!" Naruto looked at Tsunade incredulously and suddenly had much of her usual cheerful demeanor back. "What do you mean I can't go home?"

Tsunade shot up and clenched her fist, "You goddamn gaki, don't make me repeat myself!"

"But I want home!"

Shika chuckled observing the familiar scene and crossed arms behind his head. A vane pulsated on Tsunade's forehead and she swayed her fist, "You snotty brat, don't question your leader! When will you learn! What if you go berserk again and this time go on a killing spree?" Instantly, the woman knew she had taken it too far. Naruto's lips pressed into a thin line, she looked to the side with furrowed eyebrows and clenched the jacket someone had covered her with while she was out. Shikamaru looked at Tsunade slightly accusingly, unhooked his hands from behind his head and caressed the girl's shoulder,

"Oi, Naru. You can come stay over at my place. I'll watch over you. Is that okay, Hokage-sama?"

Tsunade brought a hand to her chin to think for a moment. " Hmm… I guess that could be done. But not without ANBU guards around your house and the room she'd be staying in." They both looked at Naruto almost expecting her to start her usual protests. But none followed. She nodded, biting her lower lip. Gaara's knuckles went white from gripping the ledge of the window. It cracked under the pressure and drew attention to him.

"And you, Kazekage," addressed him Tsunade, "you can stay in the apartment you were supposed to stay in the first place. It will be guarded, the opposite is out of the question, and since it's the Hokage office building, guards are always around. I'm sure you understand. The given situation requires these measures."

"I understand," the man spoke for the first time since the girl woke up.

Naruto's breath caught in her throat. The voice! Gaara's voice… that beautiful husky voice... was the one haunting her, calling for her all along. Electricity shot mercilessly through her whole body and when Gaara pierced her with the very depth of his teal eyes, she knew he had felt it too.

The two of them only.

It was their little secret.

Later Tsunade made a quick checkup on Naruto only coming to the conclusion that she too, just like Gaara, was in perfect condition. When asked what she thought it was, the woman answered that the main examinations tomorrow will show and that she wasn't still sure. It was already twilight when she let them go and rest. Gaara went to his respective apartment in the building and ignored both Temari and Kankuro trying to talk to him. The man locked himself inside and dived into paperwork while guards stood both outside the door and window on the terrace. More watched over from the neighboring rooftops.

Naruto went with Shikamaru, took a quick shower and went to bed. She was really sleepy. The girl didn't really talk much, just told him she was sorry and asked him to sleep with her on the bed, she didn't want to be alone. "Of course," Shika had said and Naruto fell asleep with the feeling she is forgetting something important.

From his apartment, Gaara looked through the window into the thick darkness of the village torn by the occasional lamp. The guards on the terrace stiffened immediately. Gaara glared at them and they shifted awkwardly. "I know where you are. I can feel you" and he looked in the direction of the Nara residence. Without quite realizing it or not bothering to, the young man grinned and then the grin turned into a wide sinister smile with blood-freezing and glowing menacing eyes adoring it. An expression so demonic and sinister to its very core that the guards by the window stepped back and swallowed in fear. They both grabbed their kunai and made a signal for the guards from the neighboring roofs to get in position and hold back the Kage if it came to it.

But looking back to the dark room, they watched as the young man slowly walked to the bed, taking off his loose black shirt in the way. He went to bed. Just like that.

The guards sighed in relief and relaxed. They were just signaling the other troops that all was fine when they remembered…

…Wasn't the Kazekage an insomniac?

Under the sheets, Gaara cracked a sly demonic smile and with a chuckle licked his lips.

"Mine."

Chapter Text

Originally posted on FF.net on February 12, 2016.

Chapter 8

A King Before His Queen

"Naru… to…" Shikamaru shot up and drew back rapidly. He rubbed his eyes and white spots covered his vision from the rough action. "Fuck…" His breath stuck in his throat. The man had woken up into the night to the sight of two piercingly blue orbs staring at him lifelessly. Hs first thought – she's dead. "No, she's still breathing," he noticed. Naruto was lying on her side breathing evenly, slightly curled up.
She was sleeping with her eyes open.
Instructions that all curtains must be left open were given so the guard on the terrace noticed Shika's bewilderment and got suspicious, reaching for his kunai. No, Shika did not want to get Naruto into trouble, so he reached out a hand and just when he was an inch away from her arm, feeling the warmth radiating from her skin which might he add was a bit intense, she breathed in suddenly and deeply and rolled onto her other side.
The guard was still looking. Shika pretended he was covering her with the blanket to sneak a glance at her face.
Eyes closed. Even breathing. Good.
He adjusted his pillow as if nothing had happened, put a hand underneath it and went to rest his head upon it. Then he stopped.
Did he… just see that?
Shika quickly threw a glance at the guard. He was signaling the others that everything was fine.
On the side of the bed Naruto was sleeping on, there was a night table.
On the night table, there was a kunai.
In the reflection of the kunai, Shikamaru saw red eyes glowing into the clear night, staring at him. But after he blinked subconsciously, the girl was sleeping again. Pain surged through his body and he shot up and got the kunai from the night table while the guard was still not looking. Shika went to put it on the night table on his side, but then decided to store it under his pillow. The guard moved his attention back to the room. He hadn't seen the man's actions. Shika closed his eyes and layed still, pretending he was asleep.
No, he did not fall asleep anymore that night, gripping the kunai underneath his pillow.

xxx

"Hey," Temari greeted her older brother. "Have you seen Gaara?"
"No, I thought he was with you."
"No. Haven't seen him today." They exchanged a glance. It was unlike Gaara to be late, he was always punctuate as hell and without saying a word more, they boh went down the hall for his apartment. In front of the door stood two guards. The situation was serious as Gaara never let any guards around his place no matter where he was visiting and despite the assuring that surveillance was a must.
"Has the Kazekage left his room already?"
"No," responded one of the guards in front of the big wooden door. "He has not gone out whatsoever since last night."
The two siblings locked eyes. Kankuro stepped forward, "Let me go inside." The same guard crossed his way,
"I'm afraid we have been instructed to not let anyone in." It would've been fine if the guy had said it in a usual voice, but his response was laced with cockiness and confrontation which enraged Kankuro. He stared at the guard from below his brows,
"Let. Us. In. We're his siblings. We want to talk to our brother."

"Hmph," the cocky shinobi grinned, "Maybe for something-something in exchange from the pretty lady behind you…"
"You damn bastard!" Kankuro was just about to jump the man when a loud thud was heard from inside the room. Taken aback, the two guards grabbed their kunai and kicked the door open as more guards rushed and took stance in front of the door. The siblings used the opportunity and snugged in with the fuss covering the previous restrain. Much unexpectedly to everyone, the room was empty and scaringly quiet. A shinobi came back form the bathroom signaling that the place was empty as well. The guard from the neighboring roofs and the terrace signaled that they haven't noticed anything unusual and took their stance in front of the big French windows. Goose bumps struck everyone in the room and the silence got even heavier.
Gaara's red coat was stretched onto the bed. The two guards from in front of the door exchanged a glance and the one Kankuro was just about to jump found himself obligated, under the heavy stares of his comrades, to be the one to inspect it. Gulping, he stepped forward cautiously, kunai in hand, recapping jutsus in his mind in a desperate anthem should it be necessary to fight a Kage. Fear snaked its cold hand and clutched at his throat. With slow steps he reached the bed and extended a hand in front to reach for the coat. He began shaking and fright shot through his body, swallowing not knowing why. The shinobi reached down a shaking hand. His orbs were wide, his action was rapid as he pulled the coat away. There was nothing more there than a meesy bed. The guy sighed with relief and the heavy silence suddenly lifted as people started whispering and commenting among each other. Temari shook her head as an answer to the pending question in her older brother's eyes – she didn't know what was going on either.
The shinobi by the bed sighed and then laughed to himself for his own stupidity to get so hyped up over nothing.
And then.

He froze.
As he was just about to dismiss the whole thing as a misunderstanding and brush off the screaming waves of fear, in the reflection of the window he saw a silhouette and in his head rang the most devious, blood-freezing and menacing laughter. His breath stuck in his throat.
"I beg your pardon for the messy room, everyone," Gaara's deep voice spread around the room and everyone turned to him taken aback, most of them with a gasp, someone even jumped in surprise but was quick to return to their shinobi mode. The Kazekage was by the door of the bathroom in his black pants, sandals and black shirt. Messy red hair adored his pale face and piercing teal eyes that made the heavy feeling from before settle back in the room. The shinobi that had checked the bathroom stared at him incredulously and shook his head at his comrades questioning and somewhat blaming glances, denying any guilt and hoping he was sane.
"I did not expect any visitors, let alone so many," voiced Gaara calmly and off-handedly, while placing a pouch with kunai and shuriken around his waist. "Has something happened?" The question was polite and unsuggesting. No one answered. As Gaara looked up from the pouch around his waist, he nailed the guard by the bed with his teal eyes, as if holding and controlling him by the sheer power of his gaze. Soft clicks were heard as he slowly and calmly made his way to him. Gaara stood in front of the guy, hands crossed behind his back, a void expression on his face. He and the guy were around the same height, but as this man of power stood before the guard and looked him down in the eyes, the Kazekage seemed giant and almighty. The guard got the same wave of shivers like before.
"I believe this is mine," uttered the young kage, not separating his eyes from the guy as he tugged on the coat gently. The guard's hands fell lifelessly beside his body and let the piece of clothing go. His lips were parted, eyes wide with fear as he was still held by these teal eyes. He wanted to look away.
He forced himself to.

But couldn't.
A tremendous second more passed by and Gaara turned around, went for the door and in the swiftest and most gracesful of manners swung the blood-red coat behind him, sliding in his right arm first, then the other one in. If he has seemed powerful before, his appearance and swift movements called for even more respect. He was the Kazekage, both in power and in presence.
The guard just continued to stand there. Frozen. His comrades stared at him and then back at the Kazekage wonderously. The ones that knew him had never seen the cocky shinobi so obedient and fear-struck. Gaara buttoned up his coat just as gracefully. The buttons clicked loudly around the room and the piece of clothing hugged his frame perfectly. Tilting his head to the side, he stared at the shinobi from over his shoulder,
"And I will ask you to be so kind as to refrain from such rude comments and suggestions directed at my sister or any lady at all, for that matter," he tilted his head slightly. "Am I clear?"
The shinobi only nodded. "Y-… Yes."
Gaara narrowed his eyes, "Good."
The redhead finally looked at his siblings and they snapped out of the situation, coming to him.
"Hokage-sama asked for your presence, Gaara," said Temari. "At her office." The young Kage nodded. They directed for the door. The other of the two guards that were standing from in front of the door rushed for his comrade and shook him by the shoulders,
"Oii, Taka-san, you okay man? What's gotten into you!"
Taka pushed the other away and grunted, "Get the hell off of me, Takeshi," he glared with hatred at the door and hissed through his teeth, "Stupid cunt, getting me into trouble!"
Gaara stopped dead in his tracks and stared at the guard from over his shoulder, eyebrows furrowed.
From their perspective, everyone in the room saw Taka the guard suddenly clutching his throat and collapsing to the floor in screams and pleading for someone to "get him off me!" as no one actually knew what he was talking about and didn't know how to help him.
From his perspective, Taka the guard saw the Kazekage turn around to face him with a furious expression, his eyes blood red, his mouth split up in a wiiide grin with long canins adoring it. The redhead launched at his throat and split open his flesh with long tearing claws, knocking him down to the floor, screaming in horror for help.
It was all in his head.
"Taka-san, what has gotten into you!" His comrades rushed to his side. "Taka, snap out of it! There's nothing there!"
As the man was still screaming and trashing on the ground, the Kazekage was standing still, staring at him without blinking. Killing intent and manace was sensible all over the room but yet Gaara didn't move at all. A small curl stretched his lips from one side. Temari noticed it was her little brother that was doing something and gripped his arm,
"Gaara, stop it," she hissed through gritted teeth, not wanting to get him into trouble.
Gaara suddenly snapped out of it and looked around, surprise evident in his eyes but he quickly took hold of himself and went back to his usual unemotional and stoic self.
The guard stopped screaming and coughed, gripping his throat, trying to breathe in some air but still ckocking in horror.

"MONSTER!" He shouted, pointing at Gaara with a shaking hand, still sitting on the floor, his comrades kneeling by his sides. "HE'S A MONSTER, I'M TELLING YOU!" He looked madly to his comrades with wide eyes, seeking support and assurance from them. They, however, stared at him blankly, not knowing what he was talking about. "He's a monster, didn't you see what he just did?! Restrain him!"
"Shush, Taka-san!" an older shinobi scolded him and pushed his pointing arm down, pressing it to his body, "you're not very wise to be talking that way to someone superior to you, let alone a Kage!"
Taka stared at them incredulously and protested.
"What the hell is going on here?!" Tsunade's demanding voice rang around the room. "What is this all about!"
Like an insane maniac before his salvation, Taka tore out from the shinobi around him, "Hokage-sama! Hokage-sama!" He crawled to the woman, "Hokage-sama! The mons-" One of Tsunade's ANBU guards, the Eagle, shot forward and put a sleeping seal on the man's forehead. "The m…ons..ter… he…" Taka fell to the floor and lost consciousness. His comrades were quick to prop him up by his arms and carry him out of the room under Tsunade's angry and wondering gaze, arms on her hips.
"Nomo, Chan!" Tsunade addressed two of the guards inside the room, "your reports on what happened here by noon."
"Hai, Hokage-sama."
"Kazekage," Tsunade stared at Gaara, "I've been awaiting you in my office for quite awhile now. Please be so kind as to finally join me," she said and went out of the room with her heels clicking on the floor.
Gaara followed.
And the well known scent graced his nostrils again.
He quickened his pace.
And breathed in the sweet scent deeply.

xxx

Shikamaru rubbed his head, half-asleep feeling that the pain from the hit was coming back. His hand rested on his forehead and he tried to doze off again when he shot up on the bed and looked around the room. Shit, he had fallen asleep. Shit, Naruto was not there. Shika grabbed his pouch and shot out the room. Throwing back a quick glance, even the guard that used to be on the terrace was missing. He limped over to the kitchen where the calming smell of toasted bread was coming from.
"Naruto?" He propped onto the door. Naruto had her back turned at him doing something on the counter and and jumped startled when he called her.
"Oh!- Fuck!" She hissed as she spilled some hot tea on her abdomen. "Tsk. A bit too sneaky in your own home, huh", she took a towel to try and clean herself but decided to take off the shirt all together.

"And you're not very ninja-like", was Shika's response as he gently threw a clean shirt for her to catch and put on. "Never let your guard down and expect the unexpected, remember? The good old academy lessons."
"Old but gold."

"True."
Shika went to sit on a chair by the counter but did not miss to sneak a glance at her abdomen – the seal was not visible. That somehow calmed his worries a bit.
"So," he propped a hand under his chin to support his head in his usual position, "what's for breakfast?" He asked a bit jokingly but enthusiastically. "Doesn't smell like your usual ramen."
"Because it's not and my ramen is delicious, thank you very much," the girl pretended she was pouting as she handed him a plate with toasts, cheese, butter and jam. "Thought that since I wounded you, I can at least help you around the house a bit," she tried to let out jokingly but her voice was laced with guilt and she was quick to turn around and go wash the dishes. Shika looked around and noticed that the laundry was taken care of, the mess around was cleaned and it looked everything seemed clean. He looked back at her doing the dishes and the way her blonde hair fell in waves onto her back. She was beautiful and he knew, how could he not know it. She was his closest friend but at that moment he could not help but wander what it would had been like, if they turned out to be more than friends… maybe in some other lifetime. She was his sister and he would make sure that she is with a man that loves her and treats her like a queen. "Naru… you shouldn't have. You know the cleaning lady will come today."
She shrugged her shoulders, "It's not a big deal. Besides, I had to busy myself with something. I couldn't sleep."
Thoughts about last night and the reflection of the red glowing eyes in the kunai creeped again into Shikamaru's mind. He needed to talk to her about everything that happened in the last few days, but did not know what to say or better – he did not know whether he should say anything.
"The door is right there," said Naruto and the young man was taken a back from his thoughts. She was still by the sink doing the dishes and he was just about to ask what she was talking about, when he noticed the two shinobi standing by the window inside the living room where they must have gotten inside through. Just a few minutes ago he had given her a lecture not to let her guard down and now he did not sense the intruders in his own home.
The two shinobi came in closer and ignored her remark, "Namikaze-Uzumaki, you've been summoned to the Hokage."
"Okay," she answered casually, drying a fork and looking absolutely uninterested despite their official tone of speech. After a few seconds of silence in which she dried a few more forks and spoons, she looked at them from below her brows, "Why are you still here?"
The guard shifted awkwardly, "You need to come with us."
"I will come when I get ready," she walked away to place some of the clean plates in a cabinet above the fridge.
"Hokage-sama has requested that you be taken to her at once and under surveillance."
Naruto shut the door of the cabinet loudly and walked abruptly to them and glared daggers,
"I don't believe she said that. Show me the written order."

A bit too haughtily, the shinobi nearly slapped the piece of paper in her face. He was not lying. There it was, black on white. The surveillance part was even underlined. Naruto felt betrayed and wrinkled her nose in anger. She could feel the shinobi's eat-shit grin under the mask for proving her wrong and she wanted to punch him, kick him, claw his eyes out and tear his skin, pull his hair out-
"Naru." Shika's soft voice took her back and she almost choke on the air she had been holding in. She loosened the fists she had subconsciously tightened. Shikamaru was now standing beside her – when did he come – and looked worried. Worry overtook her as well – where did all this anger come from, so sudden and so smashingly powerful?
"Very well," she shrugged the little episode off, hoping that the two intruders had not noticed but knew that had already happened by the way they exchanged a glance, "I will respect the Hokage's order and come with you. Just give me a minute to take my stuff."
She went off for the bedroom. The blonde took the shirt off, folded it neatly and left it on the bed. She put on her usual ninja clothes, strapped on her pouches and quickly breaded her hair and let it fall onto her back.
Behind her, the door opened with a soft click, "Do you want me to come with you?"
"No, Shika. I'll be fine. You stay here and take care of yourself." She passed him by quickly putting on her jacket without looking at him. He grabbed her by the arm and spun her around, then locked eyes with her, staring her down. There was no need to say anything.
"I'll be fine. I'll come back later."
Shikamaru did not find this very believable but under the guards' gazes, he could not say or do anything more, so he just nodded and let her go.
"Be careful, Uzumaki."
"Huh", was the response and the Nara was too late to turn around before they had left the house to see the girl.
But he hoped and wished that it was his imagination that made that single chuckle sound like the ones she let out when she went berserk.
But somehow, be it fear or a common-occuring pattern already, he somehow knew his hopes were in vain. The guards that were left around the house did not let him exit and he stayed in his home, waiting.

xxx

Naruto was walking down the streets to the Hokage building, one guard in front of her and the other behind her. She held her head up high. She looked like a criminal being escorted and it stugk her to realize that it was exactly what she was. And what – these two were supposed to uphold her in the case of need? Was that how weak the old hag thought she was?! The sudden wave of anger hit her again and she stopped dead in her tracks. The shinobi in front of her stopped and turned around, "Move," he ordered, the other one pushed her from behind and that was the last drop. The shinobi sensed the intent and one went to hit her chakra points, the other drew out a kunai and attacked her. She dodged and put one in a headlock, then slapped the kunai away from the other and grabbed him by the collar drawing him an inch away from her face, as she formed a sign with her free hand,
"Fying Thunder God Technique," she hissed and the crazed-out expression on her face left the guard that was staring at her more breathless than the teleportation jutsu did.
They landed on the round top of the Hokage office building which, ultimately, was the highest building in the village. If you have not experienced the fourth Hokage's transportation technique, you WILL feel nausea and will be disorientated. The two shinobi looked just like that and had trouble supporting themselves when Naruto let them go. She spun the kunai on her finger and pinned both their sleeves onto the metal surface.
"Here, hold onto this," she spat out and grabbed the written order. "Lucky for you I decided not to push you like you did with me."
She jumped off the top onto the round terrace, then leaned and hung onto the fence. Swinging twice, she let go and landed on the ledge of the window to Tsunade's office.

xxx

"The hell- Why are you hanging off my window, you damn gaki!" Shouted Tsunade who was just entering her office at that moment. "Where are-"
"The "surveillance" you sent to get me? Somewhere hanging off the roof. You should've known better, baa-chan. If you're gonna treat me like a criminal with guards all around my bed while I'm asleep and shinobi escorting me, you better get some more and fine ones. You have underestimated me." The girl slapped down the written order onto the desk, the hand-writing was undeniable Tsunade's.
Tsunade sighed and made a sign for the guards around her to go retreat their comrades from the roof.
Gaara stepped quietly into the room closing the door behind him and Naruto tried to ignore his presense which was not hard, because she was infuriated. Tsunade rubbed her forehead and stepped closer,
"Look, gaki, I know how it looks. But believe me, it is all only a formality."
"Yeah, right," Naruto stood by the window looking outside with her arms crossed.
"You think I am not aware I should send more than two shinobi to uphold you and let alone defeat you? I probably would have had to send the Kazekage over here."
At this, Naruto glanced at Gaara and when their eyes met for a split second, awkwardness nestled and the anger started subsiding.

"Tsk, whatever," she stepped into the room. "What is so important to interrupt my breakfast?"
"Well since you're the only sealing master and, who would've guessed, the best there is, you need to check Gaara-sama's seal to make sure it has not loosened up and he is not being influenced by his bijuu. And moreover, it should be you checking it, since you are the one that put it on him. I'm guessing that might be the reason for the… outbreaks. Same goes to you."
"My seal is perfectly fine and his is one of the strongest there are, so there's no reason for it to have loosened," she answered like someone whose job has been critiqued, "but since you went through all the surveillance parade and shit and you're asking me…"
She took the chair by the desk and put it in the center of the room, "I'm gonna need you to sit here, Kazekage-sama" she said without even looking at him. He flinched on the inside at her cold tone, guilt came upon him in new waves, but he just nodded and went to the chair. She took her sealing tools out.

"Oh, I'm gonna need you to not be wearing anything above the waist."
She continued unpacking her tools and scrolls and getting ready while Gaara shed off his clothing piece by piece. First, the blood-red coat, the black shirt, and the fishnet cloth that was so typical for ninjas everywhere. Naruto was squatted as she got the characters for the sealing ready onto the floor. As she placed her scrolls and unsealed them and Gaara undressed, she could not help but admire how the fine muscles on his back twitched and played under his every move. She shook her head to concentrate back on what she was doing. She wanted to go home.
"Okay. I need you to relax and trust me on that." She still sounded indifferent or at least tried to. She was standing in front of him, ready to form some hand signs.
"I trust you," he whispered and closed his eyes. Naruto started forming multiple hand signs and mumbling something. She was so fast in doing it that Tsunade just stared in awe and realized just how underestimating sending only two guards must have really been. The characters on the floor started glowing, they became alive and started and slid along Gaara's legs and up, forming a circle around his belly. Naruto breathed in and placed a thumb on his forehead, and put the other hand over his chest and closed her eyes as well.
At first, the walls of his mind resisted and did not let her pass in. She tried getting through, but they were too thick to be penetrated without putting too much tension on his mind. The hand resting on his chest moved up and behind his neck to caress him gently with a thumb. Then they both breathed in in perfect unison and when she tried entering his mind again, the walls were more like curtains now parted gently but still reluctantly and she moved in slowly.
Only on rare occasions for the most powerful seals was entering someone's mind on a deep level necessary and when it did come to doing so, Naruto was always careful and respectful to one's privacy and memories. She checked carefully the strentght and the characters of the seal inside his mind, but the intense images in Gaara's head distracted her and could not be passed as they jumped right before his eyes for her to see them. Suffering, loneliness, humiliation, sorrow, confusion, abuse. Shame. Self-loathing. Pain. Guilt.
Even under a trance, her eyes watered. She recognized herself, her own fte of a jinchuuriki in Gaara's younger years. She could hear him breathing unevenly and she wanted out, she wanted to run from her own memories of the same treatment, she did not want to see the little boy crying, she did not want to share both his physical and emotional pain, she did not want to feel the insanity flickering in his mind. Because she knew that now he was okay and was the Kazekage. But she had lost her concentration and was shaking as she tried to exit his mind but was locked inside and it was not a pleasant place to stay in.
Falling down onto her knees, she finally broke away and breathed in realizing she had been holding her breath. Naruto tasted blood from biting onto her lower lip so hard. Gaara was shaking and she cuppued his face, he clutched tightly to her arms beneath the shoulders and pressed his forehead against hers, back crunched like he had been defeated and exhausted from a battle.
"It's okay, it's okay," she whispered and tried to caress his hair but it came out more like pulling at it for she was shaking herself. The blonde summoned the strength to finish the sealing and locked it by a few final hand signs. Tsunade went to say something, but Naruto got up and interrupted her abruptly, "Everything's fine with the seal, baa-chan. I've made it better than for it to break after a few years." She collected her things quickly and went for the window, not looking at neither one of the two Kages. "And forget about me not being allowed to go to my apartment again and sleep there tonight."
"Don't forget about the fest tonight!" shouted Tsunade after her when she jumped through the window.
Tsk. The damn fest of the village. Naruto was off duty that night and had zero desire to go.
Later on that night, a few guards were nstructed to watch over the Uzumaki's apartment. She went grocery shopping and did not leave the building anymore that night.
Or at least, later on, the guards swore she never did, that is.

xxx

The day had ended in signing documents and closing deals, just as it usually went for Kages. The fest had started a few hours ago and Gaara was moving reluctantly among the crowd. It was his obligation as a leader of an ally village to celebrate and be present at such events although he had skipped most of them somehow. It was almost midnight already and he was tired of all the commotion around meeting everyone and everyone wanting to meet him. Everyone was wearing masks as this was the dress code of the fest, although neither of the Kages did so. Gaara was bored but tried to be polite to the important people that continued to present themselves to him. Some praised him, others decided to give him tips or suggested something about his ruling over Suna, some wives of the same important men were not short on openly offering themselves to him. Sigh.
And he just wanted to see Naruto. He wondered if she had seen… everything. Should he be embarrassed? Who knows what she thought of him now that she knew everything. Somehow either being pitied or hated by her made something in his chest twitch painfully.
"Where are you?" Temari was looking at her little brother who was now a lot taller than her. "You drifted off. Aren't you having fun?"
"Are you?" He asked her and pointed with the glass of wine he was holding somewhere behind her, "Looks like the night will become more fun for you."
Turning around, Temari saw Shikamaru standing in the crowd, looking at her with his hands in his pockets. He started to wave with a hand, but instead scratched the back of his head awkwardly. Temari blushed and started mumbling some protests at Gaara, but he interrupted her.
"Go. There's no need to be embarrassed of anything. I'm not Kankuro. And where would that moron be?"
For a second, Temari smiled at her brother's understanding and then shrugged, "He said he saw the greatest chick ever and that he'd definitely get lucky tonight. Five times already."
Gaara shook his head, "Moron," and took a sip of his wine. Temari went off awkwardly.
Gaara was standing in the crowd. It was so noisy, so crowded. He stared up at the moon. So beautiful. The clock hit midnight and it was time for the official dance of the festival. Everyone was supposed to dance with a partner as the loud melody for the dance boomed and continued to pulse over the village. Girls hooked themselves on his arms, yanking him to go and dance with them and he kindly refused, screams and loud noise muffled his hearing and the world started spinning. He looked back up at the moon and closed his eyes.
Then he breathed in the sweet scent. All his senses flared up measuring his strength, he pushed everyone whoever they were that were holding him back and made his way through the crowd. Maybe he had been too rude because he sensed that the crowd around him was still and was observing him but he was slave to another feeling and emotion at that moment and did not pay attention to any of it.
He made his way through and like some sort of a fanatic stared crazily at the top of the building before the plaza. There, a black silhouette as if materialized from thin air and the graceful silver light of the moon outlined a female figure with a long black dress adoring her body, the cloth and her hair swishing as the wind played with them. Gaara stood there, staring. Mumbling and rumbling was heard from over the crowd and fingers were pointed at that direction. The silhouette moved gently and the woman jumped off the building to land onto the ground much too gracefully for her not to be trained.
She stood up and Gaara stepped even closer. He rose the glass of wine he was holding and drank everything in one swallow, then shattered the delicate pice of glass onto the ground as it broke into thousands of shiny pieces. The moonlight and the dim lights of the village outlined her better. A long, loose strapless black dress. Orange mask over the eyes. Blonde hair held up in a ponytail. She was bare-footed but not a single sound was heard as she stepped onto the ground. Gaara met her half-way. He stood before her, staring her up and down, drinking her with his gaze. Then he collapsed to his knees in complete surrender and spread his arms completely.
He was there before her.
Bowing like a king before his queen.

Dim blue eyes with too big of pupils and red threads adoring them shot down to him and he breathed in, got up, cupped her face, then his hands slid down her shoulders, her abdomen, waist, and he pulled her to him abruptly. One hand stayed to rest on her waist, the other came up to take her hand in a dancing position.
They swayed gracefully across the ground in perfect harmony, not blinking once, not letting the other's stare go. He breathed in deeply the scent from the crook of her neck and her head lolled back as her knees went soft and he supported her. He shoved a finger under the silky ribbon holding her hair up and pulled it down, letting her beautiful golden hair free as he spun her around and then drew her back to him tightly. She was breathing heavily, losing the balance of her previously stable steps as they were dancing and he was losing his control and patience. He was barely registering that he was in one of those states, he was on the brink of going berserk but he couldn't care less. The sweetness was so intoxicating.
He drew her so close he almost crushed her, she lolled back and crooked her back, he clutched at the long black cloth that was her dress and tore it up loudly up to her thigh, then he took the bared leg and pulled it up to wrap around his waist, he breathed in and graced his lips over her collarbone and over the cloth tightly hugging her breasts. Their dance was so intense, so radiant with passion and desire. She held onto his shoulder and the back of his neck, she hissed and moewed as she felt the throbbing hardness rubbing against her as he was holding her leg up and pressing himself mercilessly hard against her. The red threads in her eyes started consuming the blue more and more and so did his.
Sensing the guards making their way through the crowd, Gaara broke off the dance and let her go. He cupped her face and barely graced his lips over hers before she disappeared in a yellow flash, just as kunai with chakra sealing tags landed where she was standing just a fraction of a second before that. Gaara glared at the attackers madly, he was infuriated and ready to tear them apart, when he was yanked by the sleeve and dragged in a pile of shinobi by Tsunade. He was just about to protest and break through, go back and kill those motherfuckers when a sleeping tag was placed on him and the last thing he saw as he slipped in unconsciousness was the Hokage's disapproving and thoughtful eyes staring upon him.
_

Hey guys! Well, I don't know what to say except that I'm happy and content that this is story is finally updated. Compared to how my life was the last time I updated it back in 2014, I can see why it took me so long as everything now is completely and absolutely different, for good or bad. But I'm finally feeling better as I'm still going through a lot of major changes and this update has lifted a weight from my shoulders. I hope you enjoyed the update and let me know what you thought in the review section.

Love,
pampoo

Chapter Text

Originally posted on FF.net on 04 (April)- 13 - 2017


Chapter 9


"The woman said to the serpent,

"From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat;

but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die."

Genesis 3:3


"Hokage-sama, as we already discussed, the chakra tags and seals placed around the target's-

"Not a target," Tsunade cut the shinobi off and corrected him with a hint of guilt, "just the... supervisee".

"Correct," the head of the supervising squad continued, "according to what the chakra seals and tags placed all around the supervisee's apartment bulding and the reports collected from the shinobis on watch, me included, Namikaze-Uzumaki has not exited the place whatsoever since yesterday afternoon and is still there as of the moment."

Tsunade was sitting behind her desk with her delicate chin and nose resting on her entertwined fingers. With furrowed eyebrows and intense gaze aimed at the floor, she conveyed the look of someone baffled, someone utterly sure they are right, but nevertheless lacking the means to prove it.

"And there have been no detected changes in the chakra levels whatsoever?"

"Negative, Hokage-sama."We are still investigating who the attacker might be."

Tsunade locked eyes with the shinobi before her but decided to not correct him and dismissed him along with his assigned squad with a simple gesture of the hand. The Hokage spun around in her chair and stood up abruptly to look through the window with her hand behind her back. Her amber eyes were still troubled and thoughtful. Although she had walked in late on the scene last night at the festival, she was sure it had been Naruto. The Hokage had honestly not expected another outburst so soon, they were getting more and more frequent. She clicked her tongue and bit her thumbnail. She suddenly realized some chuunin-level chakra seals could not escape the notice of a seal master who could probably very easily manipulate and fool them, and a squad of supervising shinobi was just as inefficient when it came to such power.

At that moment, Tsunade recalled all the times the blonde girl had surprised her with her skills, mastering kage-level techniques like the Thunder God and resurrecting entire burried arts like high-level seal mastering, as well as developing it and coming up with new seals. She had even sealed back the leftovers of the Kazakage's bijuu single-handedly!

The Kazekage was another case. Taught into the art of sand mastering by a someone as powerful as a former Kage, Suna's leader was not any less impressive. And menacing, Tsunade realized. Given the events from the last few days, she doubted there was still no demon power left in him, although it should had cleared up already. It is common for kages to hold back and to not display their strongest techniques unless in times of genuine need. However, Tsunade had no idea what he might be hiding up his sleeve. What both of them could be hiding.

If they paired up, God knew what to expect.

Tsunade held her head up high and eyed the precious village before her, chasing the grim thoughts away. Naruto loved this village too much to let her bijuu take control over her, especially after she had mastered her demonic powers. It was highly unlikely for the composed Kazekage to lose control as well.

However, the most recent events pointed at just that, even partial memory loss in both of them and even the greatest medical ninja could not put a finger on what was going on, as their symptoms were unknown to any medical scroll the village owned and both their answers proved to be too vague to suggest a concrete diagnosis.

Tsunade squinted, heavy suspicion overcoming her.

What if they are just buying each other time?


Naruto had put on her ANBU uniform and was sitting on the edge of the bed tying up her ninja sandals and eating an apple. She stood up and, taking another bite of the juicy green apple in her left hand, she looked around the bedroom in attempt to spot her mask. She lifted and looked through some messy clothes and upon not finding it there, she took the clothes to the laundry basket in the bathroom. She faced the mirror and, holding what was left of the apple between her teeth, rinsed her hands, dried them and ran fingers through her long blonde hair, tilting her head back as she formed a ponytail and secured it up tightly. She took the last bite off of the apple and threw away the stub in the kitchen, then came back to the bathroom to brush her teeth.

She had more time left before the training but wanted to stop by Shikamaru's or maybe walk around first. It was a beautiful day. Last few days' events had put her off and stressed her out, not knowing what the hell was going on and what, when and where could happen.

She had a good status in the village right now. The thing she was most afraid of was people seeing her as a criminal again, an outlaw, a monster.

That wouldn't happen, she shook the grim thoughts away, people know what I've done for the village, both during the war and after. They woudn't forget.

As she was hunching down over the sink brushing her teeth, she looked up at herself in the mirror.

Or would they?

She had had a dreamless night and missed the festival since she was off duty and was not keen on shinobi of a lower rank than her fallowing her around as if she were a criminal.

Naruto sipped some water from her hand, swirled it in her mouth and spat it out in the sink along with the toothpaste. She sipped some more water and pushed back to look at herself in the mirror. She needed to find her mask. As she spat out the water again, something caught her eye. She pulled down the collar of her shirt and looked at the red spot on the conjuction of her neck and shoulder. Naruto could have sworn she saw black characters on it just a moment ago!

She touched the spot and felt nothing. Deciding there was nothing that could be done about it right then, she pulled back her collar and went back into the bedroom to fasten her pouches and get her weapons ready. The mask was nowhere to be found and as Naruto went to the kitchen for- huh, she did not know why exactly, but she suddenly felt dizzy and held onto the counter for balance, bumping over her fruit basket.

A red apple rolled all the way from the kitchen to under the bed and as Naruto felt better as suddenly as the dizziness had hit her, she squat down to collect the fruit from under her bed. There, next to the apple, was an orange half mask she had never seen in her life.

She grabbed the apple along with the mask and when she pulled them out, she gasped in surprise as it was her own whole ANBU mask she was holding - that of a fox. The girl turned the mask around to examine it, but even the scratches were the same. The mask shone in her left hand and she looked from the mask to the apple in her right hand, back to the mask of a fox, then back to the apple, and suddenly thought about the forbidden fruit.

Naruto stood up, attached the mask to her pouch belt, and as she was going out of the apartment, she threw the red apple in the trash can with unexplainable anger._

"...and this is where our top shinobi train," Tsunade was leading the Suna visiters through a glazed hallway, the sounds of weapons being thrown around and techniques shouted out and performed came in through the glass wall from the training ground under them. Tsunade had taken on the role of showing the Suna visitors around, determined to take no more chances and to closely observe the Kazekage, while acting normally around him and not mentioning last night's events, "all ANBU and S-class ninja, that is. They are devided into squads with an assigned leader to each one, who might change, of course, and all squats are under one leader."

"One leader?" Gaara let out in controled surprise, stopping to look at the training shinobi from his high stance. Undoubtably these were the best of the best, he could tell only by their posture and the graciousness they performed their techniques with, sparring with each other. "A role too crucial and impossible to be given to a single person. In Suna we have a dozen major squad leaders who are responsible for the top-class ninja training. I watch over them very often myself. Is the leader you?"

Tsunade and the others had stopped as well and gone to the railing to look at the undergoing sparring. The Hokage had noticed how Gaara never looked at her, even though the question was clearly aimed at her.

With hands on her waist and staring at him intently she answered firmly, "No," as if waiting for his reaction which never came. She breathed in and told herself to not overdo it. "Maybe that would appear to be the reason why Suna is looking to hire shinobi from Konoha," she smirked.

Gaara looked at her with the corner of his eye and stated emotionlessly, "Still only a proposal. From your side."

Tsunade clicked her tongue again.

"They are about to start a simulation training right outside in the woods," Tsunade spun around on her heels and encouraged the rest to follow her with a graceful hand gesture.

As she started walking and the rest followed her, she looked back at the Kazekage with the corner of her eye.

He stepped forward, held onto the railing, and breathed in deeply.

Then he let go and followed the others with a blank face.

Tsunade looked ahead and furrowed her eyebrows together as they stepped through the tunnel leading them to the training area of the woods.


Naruto was walking down the streets of Konoha. The sun felt warm on her face and it was a beautiful day indeed, just as it looked from outside the window. Torn parts of last night's festival's decoration and confetti were still covering the streets and Naruto recalled how she used to be able to attend all the festivals as a civilian and have fun. This had been the second annual festival since the war had ended and Naruto was supposed to attend both as an ANBU guard.

As she was walking down the street, she overheard a group of Academy students,

"Did you see what happened to the Kazekage last night, Moemi-chan?!"

Naruto stopped in her tracks and traced the squeaky voice to a group of Academy students on her left.

"I was so worried about him! The way those shinobi attacked him was so heartless I WAS SO WORRIED ABOUT HIM!"

A third girl participated, "Did you find out why they attacked him?!"

"I was in the back, but a minute before that people in front of me were commenting on him dancing with some wom-"

"I BET IT WAS NAGIRI-CHAN, SHE IS SO SNEAKY!"

Their voices were suddenly muffled and the orange half mask flashed before Naruto's eyes again. She rubbed her forehead and started walking down her way agai-

"Mom, LOOK! IT'S THAT PRETTY LADY FROM LAST NIGHT, SHE HAS THE SAME PONYTAIL!", a little boy hanging on his mother's arm shouted happily, pointing a finger right at the Naruto. The group of Academy students Naruto had just eavesdropped on stopped talking and looked at her as well, along with everyone close enough to hear.

The mother grabbed the her son's arm and put it down, "Stop it, Rai-chan, it's rude to point at people and shout on the street!" She yanked her son to go. However, she still turned around and looked at Naruto.

Naruto just stood there and had no idea what was going on. It took her a few seconds to come back to her senses and chase all the flashes of masks and crowds and music she was getting, turn around and continue walking down the street in a fastened step as the group behind her started whispering.

She did not know what they were talking about, but reached up to her ponytail, grabbed it and rolled it up into a bun.

For what it was worth, she decided to skip the walking around and home visitng and head directly to the training grounds.

Before she knew it, she was running.


The space they went out in was what a typical invillage wood looks like - medium tall trees with wide trunks and a meadow not so far from where the exit was. A lot of trainings were conducted in the area as the grass was noticeably stamped down and multiple targets hung from the trees. The shinobi from the training ground came out shortly and spread around, some casually chatting or ordering their weapons, clearly having a short break between trainings.

Gaara split from the group and looked around. Everyone was wearing their ANBU outfit and had the accompanying tattoo on their shoulder. Most of them had taken their masks off and Gaara quickly examined their faces. He was standing among Konoha's finest assassins, Konoha's finest murderers. And yet, he could not seem to be able to point out their leader. Who was he? Where was he?

Gaara walked to a young man sitting alone on a trunk of a tree eating a sandwich.

"Is this your first day?", Gaara asked casually but emotionlessly and sat down on the neighboring trunk.

The shinobi looked at him and chuckled, "Second, first time for this particular training," he answered willingly, taking a huge sloppy bite from his sandwich and munching loudly. There was something rusty and coarse about him that did not exactly suit a shinobi, but that's how Gaara knew he would talk. "Some other shinobi and I got sent on a training from Iwagakure, I talked to people sent from other villages as well. Looks like Konoha and Suna are the leading villages in strenght and we have to learn from them. "Who knew," he snickered, "with a still teenaged Kazekage, probably too busy with fighting off puberty, am I right?!Wonder who came up with this fake data!"

"Suna has always aimed at being on friendly terms with Iwagakure and will always do so," Gaara answered calmly, reaching to the ground to scoup a handful of sand most likely spilled from a training bag and looking at the way the sunrays coming from in between the tree branches shone on the grains of sand.

The shinobi gave him an odd look but brushed it off and took a huge bite out of a freshly unpacked sandwich. " 're you new s'well?"

Gaara could swear he saw a few crumbs being spat out of his full mouth.

"You could say so," the Kazekage eyed the man, "I hear there is one leader for all top-class shinobi. Who is he?"

The shinobi shook his head and swallowed noisely, "Not a he. It's a chick. And a damn hot one. Great ass, but always wears that mask and the uniform itself is covering some fun parts," he smirked and bumped Gaara with his elbow, immediately feeling awkward and out of place as Gaara showed no reaction. He cleared his throat and continued in a more courteous manner, "The Golden Fox, that's how I heard the others calling her. Have seen her twice."

The Golden Fox. Gaara knew that name, but had never met he shinobi in person.

Or had he?

Gaara swallowed heavily and could no longer ignore the way his nostrils flared.


Naruto walked into the empty training facility and headed straight to the second-in-command.

"Hawk," she addressed the Higga, "is everyone ready for the simulated training?"

"Positive, Fox. Everyone is out in the training fields awaiting instructions." Reluctantly, he added, "The Hokage and Kazekage have also decided to visit today."

Naruto raised and eyebrow, "Is that so..."

Hawk was eyeing her much too intensely an Naruto looked at him, "What?"

"Nothing, just... Are you sure you're okay?"

Naruto pressed her lips together and snapped at him, "Yes, why wouldn't I be?" She rubbed her forhead and furrowed her eyebrows, "I'm sorry Nao-san. Things are just... weird."

The Higga nodded and went for the exit to join the others quietly.

Naruto sighed heavily. She reached to her back pocket and took out her headband and tied it around her arm. It was red - different from the one everyone else owned, and put her mask on.


"Taka-san, we are about to start the training," a shinobi who Gaara guessed was the squad leader approached them with three other shinobi standing behind him adjusting their weapons and putting their masks on. "You are falling behind, Taka-san. Moreover, the Hokage has paid us an unexpected visit."

Taka got up and dusted his pants, "Chillax, Nao-san, I was just sitting talking to my friend here. He's new and needed some advice," he smirked and laughed.

Gaara stood up and approched them. The squad leader looked at him, then back at Taka and hissed out angrily, "Taka, you moron!"

"Kazekage-sama!" the squad leader bowed respectfully and the shinobi behind him followed, as well as anyone close enough to hear. Gaara stood before the man and dismissed the formality with a simpe hand gesture.

"What th-" Taka looked at the squad leader, then at Gaara, then back at the leader and upon realizing what was going on, reddened profusely and could not even manage a simple bow.

The squad leader strenghtened his back and spoke in a respectful but concerned voice, "Kazekage-sama, I beg your excuse for anything our comrade might have said to you and hope that our two villages are still strong and steady allies."

"All is good, Nao-san. Is this your squad?"

"Yes, it is, Kazekage-sama. I could not help but notice that the Hokage has joined you as well. Should we be alert?"

"A good shinobi is always alert, Nao-san. Now, is your leader going to be present at the training today?"

"Positive, Kazekage-sama. We cannot start before the isolation seals have been activated. They isolate the training area, thus no one from the outside can see us and no jutsu can possibly harm a civilian or a bulding."

"Hmm. How did you obtain such seals?"

"The leader. The Golden Fox is a seal master."

The answer confirmed Gaara's suspicions, but what left him choking on his breath was the sweet flaring scent that burned its way down his tightening throat and left him dizzy.

Gaara tightened his fists in attempts to keep control. He eyed the exit and knew before everyone else who was about to walk out through it any second now. The Golden Fox was undoubtably Naruto - how could this sweet torturing scent ever lie - absolutely gorgeous with her back straight, head held up high, two thick heavy twin braids starting from the top of her head and ending on her abdomen, and a mask of a fox. Gaara wondered if choosing a fox had anything to do with her bijuu or that was the easiest way other shinobi had come to know her.

Sensing the presence of their leader, the squads formed and lined up. Naruto walked in front of all squads, then turned around to face them with arms behind her back.

She looked around,

"I see some newcomers today. Welcome to those of you who are supposed to be here, and, Hokage-sama and Kazekage-sama, I suppose you will be leaving soon since the training is about to start?"

"I would like to participate in the training," Gaara let out in a deep and steady voice and eyed the Hokage as if asking for permission. Naruto cocked her head to look at the Hokage as well as if telling her that under no circumstances could he saty. Tsunade looked from one to the other, pressed her lips together, and confirmed her approval with a hand gesture.

Naruto clicked her tongue.

"Today, you are going to face your worst enemy," she spoke in a loud and clear voice and stopped to look around observing everyone's face, "Yourself." She stepped forward, reached to her pouch, drew out a sealing tag and after throwing it up in the air, a scroll fell down and she grabbed it. Naruto threw it on the grass and let it unfold. "I would like to ask everyone to create a solid clone - the type that can actually take damage. Good. Clones, step forward." As the clones did so, Naruto started performing a long row of hand signs, activating the seal.

"Seal!" she bit her thumb and upon smearing blood on the paper, the lines of characters from the seal came to life and crawled from the paper to the grass and up on every clone. The clones turned around to face their owners and as they did so, their eyes turned black.

She reached for another tag, unsealed it and drew out a shiny golden ball from it.

"This is your target. You have three hours to find it, " the girl stepped forward, kneeled down and let the ball fall and sink into the seal, making the target disappear somewhere into the forest, "The training will take place in the woods area all the way from the North gate to the East gate, this is the area the isolation seals will be protecting. Your clones may attack you at any timе, anywhere on a random basis, they have not been programmed. You can either go looking for them or let them find you, you can stay in your team, form a new one or go on your own. You can go after your clone and try to eliminate them before going after the target, or try your luck and try to find the target before the clone finds you. The clones will not kill you. However, I am sure you do not want to hurt badly, which they can do. Good luck. The training starts now," she announced and the clones disappered.


It might have sounded like a lot of work, but these were Konoha's top assassins and even though the given time amounted to three hours, a little over an hour Naruto sensed that most of the clones were already disqualified and people were close to the target, so she headed that way. They had all chosen to either form teams or stay in their own teams, which was a good sign, but Naruto wondered if they would keep up the teamwork if it were a real situation and at stake was more than a shiny ball.

She had disappeared right after announcing the task as she did not want any conversation with any of the Kages whatsoever. The burning scent was following her everywhere, so she had taken the time into finding the deepest part of the wood to be alone.

Surely, there were rumours going on. She was sure the shinobi that have witnessed last days'outburts have ratted out, despite their pledge of convidenciality, and the leader of the supervising squads has never really liked her anyway.

Naruto reached for the sealing tag and as she did so, it turned black and puffed away into thin air. The target had been discovered and she was almost there. She was just about to use the Thunder God technique and was so engulfed into her thoughts and worries, that she did not sense the shinobi landing on the neighboring branch.

"Naruto," Gaara called her and she almost slipped in surprise, however quickly composing herself and looking straight ahead, "We need to talk."

"I've nothing to say to you," she quickened the pace.

"You know that's not true."

"Leave me al-

"LOOK OUT!" Being so distracted and trying to run away from him, Naruto barely registered what happened before Gaara jumped from his branch, grabbed her and pushed her off of her brach which was the last one before a big meadow. They spiraled down and Gaara summoned his sand but still took a part of the blow, landing on his side and back from the tall tree with Naruto landing on top of him. A cloud of precisely aimed sharp kunai sank into the bark of the tree exactly where Naruto had been and some fell on the meadow. A clone emerged from the woods but since that was the meeting spot and most of the shinobi were there, someone quickly took care of him before he could even land on the ground.

"WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING" Naruto shouted and snatched out of Gaara's hold and stood up. He stood up with a slight wince too,

"Did you not see the kunai?!"

She spun on her heels and started walking away, "I did not need your help! DAMN IT, Gaara!"

Naruto was suffocating with anger and stopped dead in her tracks, then grabbed her mask, undid the ribbon and threw it on the ground, then turned around and stormed towards Gaara,

"Fight me!"

He seemed taken aback, "No."

"Fight me, Gaara! Fight me! FIGHT ME!"

"NO!"

She almost reached him and started forming hand signs. Gaara grabbed her arms, held them tight to her body and hissed through gritted teeth, "I am not going to fight someone who has saved my life. And I am not going to fight you, Naruto!"

Naruto wanted to struggle and to oppose him, wanted to provoke him, but instead she found herself absolutely and utterly defenceless. Being so close to him made her body shake and melt at the same time, the strong but gentle grip on her arms made her heart thump and her breath to hitch with consuming desire. Looking up into his firm teal eyes and noticing the same inner storm going on inside them made her want to surrender herself to him.

His lips parted to let out the heavy breath stuck in his throat and his chest heaved up and down with impossible breaths.

The stinging feeling coming from her neck was ignored and as the grip on her arms grew more gentle, all she could see was his puffy lower lip and how beautiful it was.

"I would never fight you," he let out in a more gentle and warm voice, then swallowed loudly. As he looked into her cloudy eyes and his arm traveled up to her shoulder and then neck, he blinked and all that was left in his arms was a shine of a yellow flash.

Suddenly, he was able to breathe again. He looked around, taking in all the stares and darting a look at the Hokage leaning on the trunk of a close by tree with crossed arms and puzzled and thoughtful expression.

She turned around and walked away, and so did Gaara.


When Naruto came back to her apartment that same evening, she did her quick routine in the bathroom, undid the pouches and the uniform and threw herself in bed.

She did not even bother turning the lights on.

If she had, maybe she would have noticed the shiny red apple which was back in the fruit basket.


Would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.

Best,

pampoo

Chapter Text

Dear Readers,

I really – really – appreciate you sticking with me through the years and following this story as well as my other ones.

I came up with this story after a dream 10 years ago. At that time, I was in my early teens and – unfortunately – did not finish this story back then, as I should have. What happened over time is that I lost touch with the feeling I wanted this story to convey. Yes, I still love GaaFemNaru. I still Use GaaFemNaru is my other stories. However, I like to think that my writing style and constructing characters and plots as a whole have become more sophisticated now as I've grown. I've struggled to reconnect with Cool Down My Heat now as an adult. The last chapter I wrote was in my late teens and it took everything out of me and it just didn't have the same feeling. You can see that the last chapter is different than the ones before it and I was really not satisfied with it.

Then I tried to continue multiple times during my early 20s, but the disconnect and my mind constantly taking me to make the plot more complex and adding more plotlines confused and frustrated me. I tried continuing it as recently as a few months ago, but it just did not come out the same.

I really appreciate everyone who has been with me through this. I should have just completed it back when I thought of it, but for some reason or another, I just couldn't-and then it was too late.

I've been hurt over stories that I'd loved that were discontinued because of the authors losing touch with them.

As an apology and in the hopes to make it up to you, my readers, and GaaFemNaru lovers, I'd like to post the following summary/chapter where I'd like to take you through how I envisioned the story developing and ending. So that I can provide at least some sense of completion for those who have been involved with this as well as for myself. It will sound more like a dry book summary than the intense writing language I like to use. Remember, I mostly disconnected from this story because I now see it as flat but still really like the intensity, the pairing, and just the angsty, porn with plot concept. It was meant to be dark, intense, and hot. Let's get this all out so it stops haunting me.

I guess this could be rated 18+ for sexual content.

Here we go:


The next chapter was going to continue with Tsunade looking more into Gaara and Naruto's condition. I see now that it would be obvious to Tsunade exactly what it is that they're going through, but back then I wanted to open up sometime between them meeting in Konoha and things going down once they figure out they are in demon heat.

So, they go about their day. In the evening (or a few evenings later), Naruto goes to Shikamaru to sleep over there again. I don't have an answer why I made Shikamaru and Naruto seem so intimate other than I really like Naruto having attention and I think Shikamaru is very respectful and cares for her (I think the same about canon Shika with canon Naruto). Shikamaru is freaked out after all the creepiness from before and is seriously concerned for Naruto.

Gaara and Naruto go into heat during the night again – she wakes up with red eyes and gets up to exit through the window. Shikamaru wakes up and follows her, mad at himself that he wasn't able to stop her. She is fast – very fast – and he has trouble catching up to her. He is really scared that she is headed toward the Hokage building and considers his options. Gaara also wakes up in heat and escapes despite his guards. He actually sleeps in the Hokage building and just sands away the shinobi that come in his way in the hallway (this is one of the things that I couldn't get over while trying to continue this story as an adult – I couldn't turn off my brain reminding me that things like that would have consequences, despite Gaara being a kage. You don't just go berserk several times attacking people in a foreign village and then walk away. This is one of the things that made me frustrated and made me want to add a more complex plot to account for events like that, but that would ruin the simplicity of the plot and the overall feel of the read. I really just wrote this when I was very young and didn't understand all the nuances a good plot has, and I just couldn't turn off my brain and ignore it).

Naruto runs into the Hokage building, possibly hurting a few guards. She runs down the hallways and reaches Gaara. They jump each other in front of the Hokage's office door – I imagined that they wouldn't be completely out of control at that moment – they would feel a burning desire to mate but would still have the mind to restrain themselves. So Tsunade opens the door and they are right there at the door frame, breathing really hard and staring at each other, Naruto has red eyes. Gaara also has his mind about still and doesn't want to jump his friend because of demon heat. They are actually very good friends and Gaara is very respectful toward her and very grateful for what she has done for him and how she has influenced his life.

After this case, Tsunade puts her foot down and has Gaara move into Naruto's apartment until their heat passes despite both of their protests. Gaara goes to Naruto's apartment. At first, it's super awkward – they don't constantly have those heat moments where they go crazy. They are good friends, but they haven't seen each other in a while and haven't caught up and now they're suddenly put in an apartment together expected to just fuck it out or tough it out because of some demon heat! And they're virgins. It's awkward.

I was also going to include some lowkey background conflict brewing - either the Hokage receiving intel that someone is tracking the Kazekage, or that there is suspicious activity in the village, or that someone was tracking Naruto.

From then on, I remember several particular scenes I wanted to include in the apartment:

- They do spend time together doing normal things since they are stuck with each other and normally get along, although it's awkward at the beginning. So they catch up slowly, play games, train, etc. I was going to transition these moments of normality into them falling in love (Gaara already has feelings for her, and maybe Naruto now develops romantic feelings for him too).

- Kiba comes by and Naruto opens the door – she's wearing very scarce clothing, she is very much in heat and is very seductive. Kiba of course can smell all the crazy pheromones and is stuttering, he also gets horny af. Gaara somehow interferes.

- Gaara is really, really trying to resist the heat. He feels guilty about the past and the whole current situation and feels it is his responsibility to keep them both on track and make sure that Naruto comes out of this with her dignity and virginity intact so that she can fully and consciously decide who her first time should be with and not just let some demon heat decide that for her. But it's getting harder and harder to resist her- he acknowledges that he had feelings for her even before all this and that fact, combined with her proximity and how she attempts to seduce him, make it increasingly difficult for Gaara to resist and keep them both in check. He doesn't know if she has feelings for him. He always knew she was chasing after Sasuke and thought that it could be because of more than friendship.

- One of those days, Naruto is already giving in and tries to push Gaara down and rub against him to seduce him and kiss him. Gaara somehow manages to resist and gets up and flees. He goes into the bathroom and he is painfully hard in his pants. He's already shirtless. He holds the edges of the sink, taking deep breaths and trying to steady himself and not give in to the very primal urge to go back and fuck her into the floor. He sees that he won't calm down this way, so he turns on the shower to the coldest water possible and gets in there with his pants on, desperate for something to ground him. He didn't lock the door though and Naruto comes in. He is too weak to fight it now and Naruto is somewhat more in control – she slides down his pants while he is still in the shower. He watches her, pleading with his eyes for her to not do anything she would regret but he doesn't have the strength to say it anymore. She sucks him off and the whole scene is very intense. He stops resisting - he holds her hair, fucks her mouth, and cums in her mouth.

- On another occasion, Naruto gets horny as fuck again and tries to seduce Gaara to make him lose control and fuck the shit out of her. They're on the floor and she is straddling him, rubs her pelvis against his clothed hard dick. Gaara gives in for a second and grabs her hips and thrusts up into her a few times. He arches back at the feeling and she scratches down his bare chest. Then he flips them over and puts his weight on her to hold her down. He works fast - takes off her pants with her underwear too. He spreads her out and eats her out passionately. Naruto is convulsing and pulling at his hair. He fingers her and he eats her out and makes her cum several times to make sure that her heat will be calmed for a while. When she cums for the last time, he has been hard the whole time and he comes up and jerks himself off and cums on her belly. He rolls to the side and they're both breathing hard.

It becomes more and more clear to Gaara that this heat will most likely not go away until they mate and he is becoming so exhausted and frustrated with holding back trying to keep them both on track. He wants to look out for his friend and not have such an important decision of hers be influenced by carnal demon desire. However, he has so little resolve and power left, and Naruto's heat seems to be greater than his own because she has a stronger demon and he is just starting to be consumed and feels himself begin to give up.

The faithful evening comes when Gaara goes completely into heat, goes completely berserk. He has half a mind still to protect his friend so he runs outside and goes on a rampage. Naruto finds him somewhere in the dark outside – and this was going to be a really intense scene – and kisses him passionately, and they both give into the heat now. They go back to Naruto's apartment and fuck the shit out of each other.

Then it's 4am and it's almost dawn – Naruto is on her knees, he face pressed into the mattress and her legs shaking. She pleads with Gaara that she cannot possibly cum anymore, that she is exhausted, while her cum keeps dripping down thighs mixed with his. Gaara fucks her like that from behind and makes her cum one more time. Then they are both exhausted and finally feel much better than they have in weeks.

Several hours later, Kakashi or other shinobi pop in through the window and tell them that the Hokage wants them in her office. I was going to include a funny scene of Naruto being downright embarrassed to be caught in bed like that.

So they go to the Hokage's office and she examines them again. They're still in heat but don't have the higher body temperature as much anymore and they both look calmer. Tsunade tells them that they would most likely have to mate again until the mating cycle is over, or they will get their previous symptoms back.

And they do fuck more. And in between that, they find time to talk too. And they become closer and closer, and then they realize that they are now fucking still but the mating cycle ended several days ago.

Remember that background conflict brewing that I mentioned in the beginning? I was going to I think it was going to be someone spying on them and then attacking the village. Years after I started writing the story, I decided that maybe I should include Sasuke into the background conflict – he kidnaps Naruto and is jealous of her relations with Gaara. This was the moment when different unnecessary plotline started popping in my head and messing with my original idea and feel of the story. At one point I thought I'd make Sasuke dead (having died through the war) and make Naruto super depressed over that. Or Sasuke having been her previous lover. All of these extra ideas distracted me from the very original plot! Which was: Gaara + Naruto + demon heat + some random background conflict = tons of sexual tension, tons of fucking, intensity, and minor background conflict resolution. Boom!

So there was going to be some type of battle, conflict and its resolution – Sasuke or no Sasuke, and a happy ending. Gaara and Naruto are in love and everyone is happy.

My early teenage self thought it would be soo romantic to finish off the story by making Naruto pregnant - looool! - I'd never do that now. But in the original idea – yes, she was going to be pregnant at the end, it was going to be a boy, and Gaara was going to move to Konoha or Naruto was going to move to Suna and not be Hokage but she'd be happy.


So that was that in a nutshell. I lost touch with that story and the feelings I wanted it to convey. I love Gaa/FemNaru and I like to think that I use that pairing in a more sophisticated way in my stories now.

I have a huge story coming with plenty of GaaFemNaru, much to Sasuke's jealousy, just how I've found I like it now. :) All of my other stories contain GaaFemNaru also in some way.

Let me know what you thought? I know it's been forever and that it's not a proper update. But man – it feels good to put this behind me, although improvised, and mark this story as complete! :)

I'll see you around in another story.