Notice: Comments about someone being OOC will be ignored. I will not actively try to make them be in character just for you people. I'll try to keep them as much in character as I feel like I can, but I'm not going out of my way to do so. If I want Gaara to laugh, or Shikamaru to say no to a shogi match, or Sasuke to smile, then I'm making it happen.
. . .Okay, maybe having Sasuke do anything but smirk is a little bit too weird, even for me, but you get my meaning.
And now, ladies and gentlemen,
I present to you, your dose of fiction.
Sabaku no Naruto
Here we are, thought Naruto, walking into the Sand village. He walked through the streets, heading towards the Kazekage's office. He had come to give Gaara one last visit before heading back to Konoha.
Hopefully he'd see her at some point, too.
As he headed towards the Kazekage tower, people stared at him and murmured amongst themselves. He knew why they were staring and he didn't care.
They were staring because they recognized him as the Kazekage's friend.
People and their obsessions with those in power.
Whatever, I'm here, Naruto thought, going up to the secretary. "Excuse me, but is Gaara busy right now? I wanted to see him."
"He was just giving a briefing to Temari-sama, but he should be done fairly soon. You're welcome to wait, Naruto-sama." She gestured to the seats lining the wall.
"Just Naruto is fine." Rather than taking one of the seats, he leaned up against the wall, ignoring the looks of desire that the secretary was giving him. So, Temari was getting a mission, huh? Maybe he was in luck. He mentally prayed to whatever gods were out there that she was getting a mission to Konoha.
Please, let me be lucky in this! he thought.
The door opened, and the Wind Mistress came out, closing the door behind her. He smiled. She looked beautiful as usual. He raised a hand and stood up, walking towards her. "Hey, Temari-chan."
She whirled around to look at him with wide eyes before her face transformed into a smile as well. "Naruto-kun! What are you doing here?"
"Visiting." Naruto did his best to ignore the frown that was crossing the secretary's face as she glared a bit at Temari. "It's... it's time."
Temari's eyes widened again, immediately understanding the significance of the phrase. The secretary looked confused - which was to be expected, of course. "You mean you're going back?" She looked saddened by the news.
"Um... yeah..." He hated to see that look on her face, and before he could stop himself, he gave her a hug. "It's not like we'll never see each other again, you know," he said with a slightly joking tone, and looked her in the eyes. He felt relief when he saw her smile again. Then he blinked when he saw the light in her eyes brighten even more.
"Hey, since I'm going to Konoha on a diplomatic mission, we can go together, right?"
He smiled at that. "Yeah." Though he said it calmly, he was mentally dancing inside. He thanked whatever gods that were for this chance to be with her for a few more days.
"Well, why did you come here? Shouldn't you have already been heading back?"
"Yeah, but I want to see Gaara one last time before I go." That, and I wanted to see you, he added mentally, but he didn't say it. He was afraid to say that.
Afraid of rejection.
He'd been rejected too many times for him to ever feel comfortable with saying something like that before knowing whether or not she felt the same way. If there was even a chance that she didn't, then he didn't want to risk it.
"I see. Well, he's right in there, so you might as well go in," Temari said, pulling Naruto out of his thoughts.
"Thanks. I'll see you at the gate?"
"Yeah. See you there at about 10 o'clock, 'kay?" she replied with a smile. Then she walked off.
Naruto watched her walk away until she disappeared, before turning back to the door to Gaara's office, and walking in. Once again, he ignored the secretary as she pouted a bit.
What was it with women and men in power? And why did they think that he was one of them? Sure he had friends in high places, but that didn't mean that he was in a high place.
"Hey Gaara." Naruto said, coming in.
Gaara's head shot up and he gave him a small smile. "Naruto! It's good to see you." He stood up and came around the desk to stand before him.
"You too." He clasped Gaara's shoulder. "I came back to see you one last time before I go back."
"I see... it's finished?" Gaara asked.
"I see. Well, it was good seeing you one last time, old friend."
"We're not friends, Gaara - we're brothers, in all but blood." Naruto shook his head, smiling.
Gaara truly smiled at that. "Yes. That we are. When will you be leaving?"
"I told Temari that I'd meet her at the gates at 10."
"I see." They were silent for a moment.
Then, "When do you plan on telling her, Naruto?"
Naruto looked away, out the window, before looking back at Gaara, and surprising the redhead with the pained look in his eyes. "I... I don't know..." Naruto shook his head. "I'm... scared, Gaara. I've been rejected so many times that I'm afraid of it happening again. And besides, a relationship like that... over such a long distance... I don't know if we could do it," he said, clutching his elbows with his hands.
"You could do it, Naruto. If anyone could make a relationship like that work, it would be you." Gaara then smiled. "And I know for a fact that Temari loves you also."
Naruto's head shot around to stare at Gaara, wide-eyed. "H-how?"
"Because she came to me the other day asking what I thought of you, and if I would approve of a relationship between you two."
Naruto stared at Gaara for a moment, before he grinned. "I'll ask her while we're traveling then. And Gaara... thank you."
"Of course, Naruto. And I'll see you sometime soon."
And with that, they parted ways, as Naruto headed out the door with a smile on his face.
"What are you so happy about?" asked Temari when she saw him later at the gates.
"Nothing," Naruto said, still smiling.
"Oh really?" She asked, raising an eyebrow.
Naruto just gave her a small grin. "Yes, really. You ready to go?"
"Completely. And you?"
"Of course. Let's go." And with that, Naruto gestured out the gates and fell into step beside her as they walked.
A little while later, and Temari looked at him again to notice he had a small happy grin still on his face. It made her grin as well, but she was still curious. "You going to tell me why you're so happy now?"
Naruto looked away from her. Should he tell her?
Might as well.
"It's because I get to spend time with you," he said quietly.
He glanced back at her to see that she had stopped and was looking at him with wide eyes. He stared back, worried now about any form of rejection that she would show him, and then blinked when she smiled up at him.
"Likewise, Naruto." And she wrapped her arms around his neck in a hug.
Even as surprised as he was, he hugged her back, his arms holding her close.
If he was honest with himself, he didn't want to let her go - he just wanted to hold her like this forever.
But they had to keep moving - they had a destination to get to, and even though he himself had no real deadline to do it by, Temari was on a mission – and so she did have a deadline.
So, he pulled away from her, smiling at her again, before saying, "Let's keep moving." She nodded, and they continued walking side-by-side.
He resisted the urge to hold her hand, then blinked.
She had grasped his hand herself, and was entwining her fingers with his.
He saw her shoot a smile at him, and he smiled back, and they made their way to their destination.
Konohagakure no Sato.
The Village Hidden in the Leaves.
Next: Sabaku no Naruto - Reminiscing
Previous: Sabaku no Naruto - Prologue