Naruto Fan Fiction ❯ Requisition ( Chapter 5 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Tsuyoku: Here’s the fifth installment. I appreciate all the comments I got on the last chapter, which really motivated me to get this one up much quicker. Hope you enjoy it!

Sound Sleep 5

« So what else did the letter say? » Leave it to Shino to look for the bright side, though if he could find her a way out of even seeing Gaara, Sakura knew she would forever be in his debt. Not that she wasn’t already with the hospitality he’d shown in the last few weeks.

« Nothing else of consequence; he merely requested my presence but didn’t say anything further. » And as much as Sakura would never admit it, she was slightly scared. What did he want with her? Their lunch, which the bug man had prepared while Tsunade was delivering the news, had lost its luster and appeal in favor of the disappointment she was now enduring. She sighed for the nth time in days.

« I don’t know what to tell you, Sakura. Gaara has got to have something up his sleeve if he’s going this far, but we don’t even know why he was in your apartment to begin with. Maybe you should just go along with it. » He cleared his throat and stood to submerge their dishes into the sink water. « Tsunade did say you were now their biggest bargaining chip. »

« Yeah, that’s what I’m afraid of. She kept repeating that over and over in our meeting, but what about my feelings on this? No one seems too concerned that I don’t want to go through with having to meet him face to face.”

« Well, the way I see it, » Shino paused knowing that what he was about to say would upset her. « You don’t really have much of a choice here. »

Her eyebrows knitted together, and she stared at him for a moment, « You sound like Tsunade. You’re going to take her side on this? »

His hands ran through the dark locks on his head; calming Sakura was easier said than done in these situations, and by the flushed look on her face he knew that it wouldn’t be over so quick between them. « It’s not about sides, Sakura. As much as I would prefer that man never again be able to lay eyes on you, I doubt the Hokage is going to roll over at this chance to smooth things out with Suna just because you’re afraid. »

The rosette gaped in shock for moments—that was the most she’d ever heard Shino say at one time. Though it sucked to admit it, he was correct. The Konoha nins were taught many rules and ways of the proper ninja codes: one had said that selflessness was key to accomplishing any mission, another stated that sacrificing oneself for their village was the highest honor.

Sakura, however, doubted that when it said ‘sacrifice’ this was they had in mind.

« Whatever… » rising from her seat, she headed toward the front door. Shino called after her to thwart her departure, but she wasn’t having any of it. « I guess I just need some time to myself to think the situation over, Shino. You’re right about not having a choice in the matter, but that doesn’t mean I’m just going to roll over and accept it. » And she walked out.

The air in the woods was thick, uncomfortable unlike the cool, refreshing atmosphere of her hospital. Before running to the Hokage’s office, she’d happily shed her doctor’s robe, but the summer cardigan Sakura had worn was about to be peeled off in such heat. Between the trees she walked, pondering what would become of her life (since it no longer appeared to be hers to control) Sakura couldn’t help but feel the presence of all the nature around her.

Was she alone? No. Slowly, her eyes traced the path her alabaster hand made as it grazed a young leaf that flourished from a tree. When she widened her senses ever so slightly Sakura noticed something familiar in the air; it was a scent so particular that there would be no mistaking where, or really who, it was coming from.

« Gaara? » The aroma had hung stale in the atmosphere of her bedroom for days and she could only place one man as the origin. But the call fell silent around her save a small echo, even thought Sakura could feel it in her mind, in her body that she hadn’t been truly alone there.

Had she ever been alone since she started running from him?

« I’m quite sure that you’re out here, but I have to know. I have no idea why you, Gaara of the Sand, were in my bedroom those many nights. For the life of me I cannot figure out why you would be so… interested. » She paused for lack of a better word; she wasn’t expecting an answer, and she wasn’t disappointed when none returned. « You’re returning to Konoha; why me? » Sakura lowered to the soft moss of the forest floor and pounded her fists into a group of tree roots a couple of times before sighing again in frustration.  

Gaara noticed from his aerial view that she was significantly taking out her frustrations on the forest floor, and through some human spark inside a part of him that Shukaku had yet to touch, Gaara heavily debated answering her call. The more human she seemed and the more emotion this Sakura showed, another part of him grew into control. Before he could catch himself from leaping, Sakura now had a full view of her ‘stalker’ as he jumped into the clearing.

« It is you, » her mouth trembled, mind recalling her past impressions of the violent, repugnant Gaara of their childhood. He was no longer just ‘the man who slept in her bedroom without her knowledge at night’; seeing him in person again had brought the vision of him she’d made in her mind to a stunning halt and replaced it with the cold green eyes of a killer.

« Hn. » Okay, first response wasn’t getting either of them anywhere. « Haruno, » he meant to continue, but his flustered companion beat him to it.

« What the hell do you want from me? » Gaara didn’t respond at first, just stood there with him arms folded across his chest and tried to stare her down. Unfortunately for him, Sakura’s adrenaline high made it roughly impossible (even in her current state of fear) for such fierce intimidation to get to her. « I asked you a question, Gaara of the Sand, » she rose and walked toward him. « What is it; why were you in my room sleeping, and why did you request me to be present at the meetings? » Her demand had only a second to register in her mind before she was gripped around the neck by his sand. He felt no threat, but important or otherwise this woman was not going to disrespect him so easily.

« Listen here, woman, I don’t take demands lightly, nor are you in the situation to request any information from me. » His sand ran over her arms and legs tingling each individual hair and joint while Sakura realized that at one deadly thought from the man in front of her, she would be crushed within its grasp. Through her moving prison, the kunoichi just stared back at him with fear mixed into confusion and anger. Even if her mouth had been free, she wouldn’t be able to tell you if she’d say something to Gaara or remain quiet in hopes that he’d give something away. Of course, she hadn’t time to ponder it, for Gaara continued, « You will be there at the meetings at my request not only because you have to but because you might be interested in the topic of discussion, which greatly concerns you.

« And what makes you think that’s going to get me to come? » The sand had thankfully moved aside for a moment, thought she could already feel some of the grains in her increasingly dry mouth.

Gaara closed in on her still trapped figure and looked in her green eyes. His own might have seemed similar to her own in color had they not been glazed over with an apathetic and cruel look. « Considering, » his warm breath floated over her face, her mouth once again being covered by his weapon of choice. « you’re too curious about this matter to miss it, I think you’ll end up showing. And I’m going to add—if you try to run from me, I’ll come after you. Wouldn’t want to resort to such tactics, would we? » For good measure Gaara waited until Sakura understood that it hadn’t been a rhetorical question.

She shook her head side to side, amazed at how the sand wouldn’t let her struggle, but when he wanted her response it was as movable as air. The towering form over her stood back. He was surprised at himself; he knew he could be ruthless, but even he was amazed how this woman made him act. But people always resorted to desperate moves when around someone that had something they wanted.

He sank slowly back into the rest of the forest along with his sand leaving Sakura to percolate over everything he said. Gaara was right in a way, she thought. Even she was too damn curious to miss this, though after this encounter the pinkette was dreading it even more.

Gaara had mentally punched himself for even considering leaving Suna and heading to Konoha to find her, let alone doing it. He’d been sitting in his private quarters willing just five minutes of sleep, but it had never come. Shukaku would normally have jumped at the chance to take over in Gaara’s vulnerable state, but ever since that first night he’d jumped into her window, the demon was less and less of a raging beast threatening to take over and kill everyone like the old days. Not that he was going to share that fact with anyone.

People feared him as long as he was a mystery to them, but it seemed that this new side of him was just as mysterious to himself as he was to any outsider. Never in his life had he craved something so powerfully, save his childhood yearning for the unconditional love of another, and if he’d been anyone else, Gaara might have been scared—though Gaara of the Sand was never scared of anything—including himself.

Once he’d returned, the torn man spotted Temari outside his offices seemingly having an innocent snack, but a closer look revealed her eyes glancing toward the main gates every now and then. Gaara guessed that she was waiting for someone, and by the look of her face when he arrived, he assumed that her wait was over. The redheaded Kage had vowed to avoiding his siblings and teammates even more than usual since Kankuro had started poking into his private life. No doubt he’d let Temari in on the little rumor that their younger brother might have found a girl.

« Gaara. » Temari stated when he walked within range of her voice. Damn it all, Temari and Kankuro used to be so trepid when it came to just talking to him. The hearsay of this ‘romance’ of his had instilled a sense of humanity in his image, and he didn’t like it one bit.

« How was your trip to… where did you say you had gone again? » Psh, as if he would fall for that. Gaara knew better when it came to petty tricks.

« I didn’t say. »

Temari mentally stomped her foot. She’d finally gotten up the gall to mention it to her brother, and he just denied it like it’s nothing!

She trotted after him toward the entrance to his offices and their private quarters as her eyebrow rose, « Earlier we received some information from Konoha by messenger, who raised the matter of number of people at the meeting… among other things. »

Konoha—strange how that place held something of his interest now. Gaara almost stopped completely in his tracks as she finished her sentence, and Temari was not so dense as to miss his shift in mood. Kankuro had mentioned something about Konoha striking a nerve in him, but she’d needed to witness for herself whether or not their brother would fall for someone in that particular village.

Why did it always have to be the difficult one?

Just as well, who in Konoha would he fall for… or would fall for him?

Temari was fairly sure that with her mention of Konoha she’d hit on something deeper, but she feared that death might be fast upon her if she said anything about the mood he was in at the moment.  

« Were you listening? » Temari shook her head at his question and looked at her brother oddly. « I asked whether all the appropriate papers were delivered to my office? » Temari just nodded. « Were any of them open; has anyone seen their contents?’

She grimaced for a moment, « No, they haven’t. » Why hadn’t she thought to look at them or ask the messenger about the meeting further? Her investigative skills were lacking these days, something the blonde was intending to build on as her scrutiny continued. He looked at her carefully, letting her know that he didn’t trust her and was watching her every mood.

Temari bit her lip knowing that Kankuro already had Gaara on guard about everything. How was she going to pull this off?

As soon as he arrived in his office, a very anxious Kage strode over to the stack of papers decorating his table. Although seeing so many documents on his desk was a very common observation, his expectations rose slightly. It was as if he’d sent off bad news and was very anxious about finding out the response. Though he knew that the Hokage, Lady Tsunade, was less than likely to refuse Sakura’s involvement, it gave his insides a little preemptive jump about whether or not his intimidation would appear as powerful on parchment as it was in person.

Kage, with the recent reception of your letter proposing a treaty, I must concede that these dealings will proceed with the utmost cooperation from the Village Hidden in the Leaves...’ Tsunade had gone on a lengthy diverge about the profits of a union for both countries, but Gaara barely skimmed over the words, more interested in a subject that hit closer to home.

On the matter concerning the companionship of one Sakura Haruno, I have spoken with Ms. Haruno myself, and she seemed as eager as I to advance our dealing and will gladly make an appearance when our nations convene.’

Gaara set down the letter with a smirk gracing his lips. The sheer statement or implication that Haruno (or the Hokage herself) were at all ‘eager’ to see him made the Kazekage chuckle inside. He had personally spoken with the pinkette, and it was obvious that Sakura held just as much disdain and fear for him as she did when they were adolescents. Nevertheless, as long as the redhead’s plan was going full and steady in the right direction, he couldn’t care less regarding the feelings of others: especially those of the stubborn Sakura.

He sat down carefully and picked up his pen. With as steady hand, Gaara quickly drafted a makeshift time and date for the meetings. which would finally allow him a good night’s rest for the first time in a few very long weeks. With that finished, there was plenty of other work to be done, and the more papers piling the large desk, the more impeding they would become to his contrivance.

In the meantime, the young Haruno girl had hulled up in her own apartment for a spell’s rest after the training session she had put herself through. After the less than revealing meeting with Gaara in the secluded woods, an encounter that had left her mostly confused, Sakura shared the whole ordeal with her roommate, who suggested she find a pastime to take her mind off things for the time being. If there was any situation that Sakura knew would push Gaara to the last place in her mind it would definitely be asking Naruto for some training. From experience in the old days, there had been times (mostly after being beaten and driven to exhaustion) in which it was hard enough to remember her full name much less think about her current stalker.

The blond, loud, orange fiend she called a friend had been scarfing carious foods down at a Ramen Stand when she requested his help. “Well, Sakura, it’s about time you ask me! I haven’t seen hide or hair of you since you got that hospital job. Guess the old hag is working you way too much. » Then he’d received a large, albeit nostalgic bump on the head.

« You know better than to insult my mentor to my face like that stupid. Now let’s get going; I need a good workout. »

Truthfully, Sakura needed a workout like she needed Gaara to demand more of her than he already had, but alternatively the only other option included thinking, which would lead to images of Gaara. So her spar with Naruto lasted a good hour, hour and a half. Just enough to get her tired and ready to collapse into bed.

She looked over by her window from the position on her bed. The furniture, she remembered, had once felt softer, but such an impression could be blamed in the uncomfortable feeling that looking at that particular spot in this room gave her. It was appalling to think of how many times he leapt over that sill, which was almost always open when she slept. And Sakura had been none the wiser. Anyone else and she’d always woken up, senses alert, but something was amiss with all of that. He obviously hadn’t set off any alarms in her slumber, which could only mean one of two things: a) he was really covert on a whole different level than she’d even seen before, or b) that her own body didn’t sense him as a threat to her. The rosette highly doubted the latter in the sense that Shino hadn’t yet achieved that state in her mind, and she was more comfortable around him than most people.

She couldn’t help but shutter at the offending leftover sand as she never moved her eyes off it. Wasn’t he in perfect control of the sand? So how had he slipped up and left this reminder that he’d been there?

« I have to clean this up. » Her feet managed to collect a few of the grains on their soles when she squatted down to sweep the annoying scraps into her hand and toss outside the window. « Unless you’re planning on continuing these nightly visits, Kazekage. If so, I needn’t bother to have tidied up. » the pink-haired nin spoke to no one in particular, save the warm air. She expected and hoped for no response; the only reason she was currently standing in her apartment was the fact that one-per-day visits were as far as she was going with Gaara, and she assumed the feeling was mutual. Unless he was really after her for her personality, Sakura wasn’t going to make the mistake of letting her guard down around him, but perhaps he was going to leave her alone until they debated things out in the meetings.

« Hey you up there… » Her eyes glances to the figure standing right off the road near her window. She couldn’t quite make out who they were in the small amount of light the sun had left behind, but they could obviously see her perfectly while she leaned out of her niche. After a moment of adjusting her eyes, Sakura’s widened slightly in shock. If the revelations of the past few weeks were a burden on her shoulders already, this new arrival was certainly an unexpected turn in the whole scheme.

Temari had stormed Kankuro’s rooms after being shunned by their sibling. He looked up from cleaning the dried blood off joints in his puppet (she didn’t want to know) and sat down on an armchair like this form of communication with her oldest brother was common. « It’s something to do with Konoha alright. » The painted man on the other side of the space gave her his full attention for the time being and gestured for her elaboration. « The messenger today delivered those documents from Konoha, right? I let him know when he finally arrived back in town, and it looked as if that struck something in his mind. Gaara went straight up to his office to deal with them. »

« What part of that is unusual to you? »

« That’s not the point, Kankuro! We should have taken a look at those papers, » she huffed.

« And break the royal seal on them? I don’t think so; you’re better off trying to sneak a peek at them now that he’s opened them, but how you’re going to do that, I have no idea. » He picked up his rag and resumed cleaning weapons and such until his sister interjected for a second time.

« I’ve already thought about that, Kankuro, and that’s where you’re going to come in. » He raised his eyebrows in shock at her. « You get to sneak in there next time he’s away and find out who those papers are talking about. Obviously there’s something unusual about them, otherwise he wouldn’t be so on edge. » Kankuro paled through his thick makeup, impossible as it seemed. Was she really saying this?

« I don’t imagine we’re going to think of anything that would get him out of his office, we’ll just have to start checking everything… What? » Temari couldn’t have been more obvious if she’d lit a light bulb over her head. The girl had some kind of notion—he just hoped that it was as devious and effective as all of her other brainstorms.

« The messenger. »

« What about the messenger? »

« Do you feel like intimidating anyone today, Kankuro? »

The growth of anything remotely resembling vegetation started not ten or so miles from the limits of Suna, where it started small and then increasingly grew into vast shade for those not used to the desert regions. It was about that point where Konoha’s messenger stopped his quest to take Suna’s reply to the Hokage and emptied his shoes of sand. He huffed in the heat, sweating beads that slipped down his face at every movement he made.

The young man stilled when he heard a cracking branch not too far from him. He looked up and saw some dark figure in a nearby tree, and with his attention focused on Kankuro, Temari made a beeline for the young man’s pack.

When he noticed that he had multiple attackers, the low level nin jumped sideways barely avoiding a blow from her large fan. « Who are you? »

« Relax, dude, we’re from Suna, » replied Kankuro whilst her moved in on the guy. « We’ve come to escort you the rest of the way to Konoha. » As soon as the nin relaxed and let down his guard, Temari knocked his ass out cold.

« Shouldn’t have been so trusting, » she rifled through his pack to find a bundled message from their Kage with his royal seal, which she carefully lifted up as to not break it. « Now, let’s see what we can get from this, » the blonde said as she stepped over the messenger and leaned to tree to read.

« What’s it say? »

« The only name mentioned besides the Hokage is Haruno; apparently he is ‘satisfied that the conditions have been met and will be looking forward to meeting with them to consider the details of such a treaty.’ That’s most of it. » She motioned toward the unconscious emissary, « take him and the reply to the Hokage’s office when we reach Konoha. I’ll go find her and see what light she can shed.

Temari could have giggled inside; this was just like being a detective! Solving mysteries was fun, especially when it meant putting their lives on the line as they investigated their fearful brother’s love life.

And this was where Temari had ended up after arriving in Konoha. « You’re Haruno, right? » The girl did look familiar; the pink hair was a little hard to forget once you met her.

« Yes, I am… Temari. » The blonde smirked; her reputation preceded her obviously.

« You probably have an idea as to why I’m here. »

Sakura was well aware, so she debated inviting her up on the off chance Temari was here on some kind of orders from her brother. In the end, however, curiosity always wins over…

Kankuro laid the still comatose man on a couch outside the office of Tsunade. Her foyer seemed like a good place to drop him off since it was usually crawling with people. Her assistant ran over first—concerned for the guy but still weary of Kankuro.

« I’m just here to deliver from Suna. Your harbinger passed out in the desert heat. »

Tsuyoku: wow, I can’t believe that I managed to get this one up so fast. I think I discovered a better way for me to personally write—therefore everything just comes together at the end, but we’ll see. I tried to edit this at four in the morning, so if there are too many mistakes, please don’t get frustrated. I’ll beta it later, and if it’s too bad I’ll repost a better version. Thank you guys! Please, please R&R it’s really helping me put out chapters! ^.^