The blistering sun and swelling heat condensed around the scurrying man. Covered in desert robes, scouting the area was his daily routine since the recent war in the Wave country. How could those paranoid Council members expect an attack on the Sand; the Wave was miserably helpless to attack them, and on grounds they knew nothing of. And how could anyone hide in the desert? If they did camouflage themselves he’d feel sorry for those poor bastards under such heat.
ANBU mask plastered over his face and sweat sliding down from his temples he swore. He was amazed at his tolerance level. The only reason he accepted his work with minimal complaint was not because those shrivelled Council members ordered him to, but he was doing it for his Kazekage. Any help to his young leader made him happy, no matter what the task. Defend and protect him during the death? He wouldn’t think twice.
He was loyal to his leader, and had anyone seen them, they would have been shocked; they looked like friends! Hardly anyone was close enough in the Sand to call Gaara a friend, but not Tsubaki. His ‘closeness’ to Gaara could have been called friendship, though the word’s vague. They exchanged greetings, had casual dialogue and Gaara accepted the shinobi’s laidback attitude, whereas with anyone else, Gaara would have told them to shut up. Tsubaki had to admit; he often felt like he had to take care of Gaara. He was like a teacher worried about his student and in truth, he was always troubled with Gaara’s age and his demanding position; a position that was suited for men and not for a boy. Probably, the only explanation why their unusual friendship began was because during the war he had saved Gaara’s life.
He stretched on for a few miles and was about to head back when he heard a whimper. His initial guess was an animal and he placed his ear to the fiery sand. It became a little clearer, but he had to strain his ears to catch the dying sound waves. His eyes looked around him and guessed that the recent sandstorm had obscured something unusual beneath the heap of ochre sand.
Another painful whimper and he jumped back in shock. It was human, he was sure of it. In disbelief, he placed his hands in the soft sand and began to dig, but the dune was too high, his goal to deep and it would take him too long, he realised, to save the person in time. He knew no special jutsu’s, and so he ran back to the village to get professional help.
Sabaku-no Gaara, Gaara of the Desert, a name that certainly fit his reputation. But in the heat of the midday sun, the Kazekage would rather be back in his office than walking through the blazing midday heat. The mountain of sand levitated in the air, Gaara controlling it. Bits of golden sand trickled down like a drizzle of rain, Motomo gazing at the pieces like gold. He was a man that was with the earliest Kazekage’s, a traditionalist, a paranoid, and the leader of Gaara’s Council. He was in his 60’s, though at a stage of his life where no one could guess his age correctly. His glistening eyes no longer followed the levitating sand, and were instead fixed on a cave below, shut tightly by sand-covered, ancient doors.
“Here we go,” Tsubaki said as Gaara let the sand shower down elsewhere. He stepped into the whole, his feet crackling under the barren soil. He released the seal on the door with a swift movement of a simple handseal. He carefully opened the thick doors, creaking in protest. Before he could step any further the painful moan returned and a girl, with the last of her strength, crawled into the sunlight, her eyes squinting at the sudden breath of fierce light on her face.
She was in pain; that much was clear, her face sudden with dirt, dry tears caked lightly on her cheeks. She looked up, and Gaara was too startled to contain his shock; as soon as she looked up at him he was looking into startling emerald eyes.
“Green eyes!” Motomo spat in horror; never in their lives in the desert and beyond did they come across such unusual eyes. They contrasted beautifully with wavy, inky-black hair that cascaded down her face and to her shoulders, though not quite touching them. Her skin was a beautiful light brown.
But she was dirty with mud in her hair. Her eyes slowly fell and Gaara realised that she never looked at him in the first place; she was staring into space.
“Up we go,” Tsubaki encouraged, helping her to her feet, but she stared at the earth as though seeing it for the first time.
“What’s your name? Where are you from?” Motomo demanded.
He tried again, more forcefully, but the girl either couldn’t or had difficulty speaking.
“She’s traumatised,” Gaara told them.
He notices a piece of paper sticking out of her pocket and he takes it. He unfolds the paper,
I wish you were here, the sky of the Leaf is beautiful. I’ve been to several villages and met some very friendly men, all offering me sake in exchange for stories I had to tell. Often I’d hear them converse about some shinobi they met a few days ago and how the conflict between the rain...
Gaara pauses. He skims until he reaches the end of the note.
He looks back down at her and asks, “Your name is Yuugao?”
It takes a while, but she finally registers what he tells her and with blatant effort gives a nod.
“How did you get in the cave?” Tsubaki asks her, but she’s unable to voice out a reply. Her eyes still gaze in the distance, her mind fixated on something she cannot stop.
“Let’s take her back,” Gaara decides without emotion, but Motomo contorts, “Gaara-sama, with all due respect, she could be a spy from the Wave! In such times, things still haven’t completely resolved. There may be still some clans that want to see us dead.”
“But she may also be innocent,” Gaara replies, his face as impassive as ever, “Right now, she cannot speak, she looks dehydrated and she has been surviving on wild plant within the cave. If you look carefully you’ll see the remains of a desert-lizard.”
He pauses, “If she’s a client, especially in the village’s desperate time, than abandoning her will not look good on the village’s reputation.”
It takes a while, but the older man finally agrees. He agrees, but the disapproval hooks on his face as he observes the young girl suspiciously.
A selfless man, a man focused on the wellbeing of his people, this was Sabaku-no Gaara. In truth, he had no time for the girl; had Temari been here he would have let her handle the situation. But as soon as they got back he sent a maid to take her to the kitchen to feed her.
Now, he was staring at his paperwork, his head in his hands as though studying for an exam. He was far from it.
Minutes went by in his office, three windows behind him and an occasional breeze blew in. As to who and where the girl came from, he had more pressing matters; there was still a whole lot of paperwork, all for his people.
He was about to flip his paper when he heard a noise from the kitchen. It was a clanging and maybe a shout. He looked back down at his paper; there was still a lot of work, and he didn’t want to be disturbed. He read the same lines three times over before he decided to get up and see what all the commotion was about.
“Gyaaahhhh!!!” an agonising cry of pain and Gaara stops in his tracks. He hears a plate shatter and a woman screaming.
He throws the doors open to the kitchen and has to quickly digest the scene: the chef is writhing in pain on the floor, his body jerking and his hands clenching, his mouth open, but crackling, almost dying sounds escape from his throat. His tongue is erect from his mouth and his eyes bulge like flower buds from his sockets. Yuugao stares at the man in complete horror, her eyes wide and her hands trembling in fear, a broken plate is by her feet. In a thud, the pale maid behind Yuugao faints like a sack of potatoes.
Gaara quickly gets to his knees, trying to get the man still; “Hey,” he calls, but the jerking won’t stop and Gaara panics, “HELP!” he cried into the hallway. A few moments later dozen men flood into the room,
“What the hell?”
“Quick,” Gaara orders, “Get him to a hospital!”
The body is lifted with difficulty, the man going into his final spasm before he faints, his lids fallen. He could have been sleeping. Four other pairs of feet stormed through the doors from the corridor, “What happened? Oh my god.” The Council members look at the flaccid chef, his chest barely moving to his breathing as the two men drag him out.
Gaara doesn’t watch them anymore and instead looks up at Yuugao. He meets her green eyes again, but there are full of fear, tears fighting to spill. He’s about to ask her if she’s o.k. but one of the Council men cries,
“Is that her, the one you found in the desert?!”
“That’s the one,” Motomo nods, looking at Yuugao with disapproving eyes.
Gaara ignores them and he get’s up, “Are you all right?”
She nods vigorously.
If Motomo’s eyes could shoot daggers he would. He had looked her up and down ever since they found her and didn’t like her one bit. He was surprised, flabbergasted, that his Kazekage, this intelligent and diligent boy, would not have one shred of suspicion about her. She was not only a stranger, she was a convenient stranger; one that shows up a month after the war with no voice and no headband. In his lifetime he knew of spies, he knew how sneaky enemies were, and sending a young “innocent” girl to assassinate the Kazekage would be easy. But he wouldn’t let Gaara fall for such an old trick; her innocence was nothing! The boy had grown too soft over the years. He doubted Gaara would ever befriend her, after all, his Kazekage had no friends he knew of... but still, he brought her into the village too easily.
“Finish your food and take a shower,” Gaara ordered Yuugao, his face never wavering, “I want to talk to you.”
Motomo sighs in relief; “Finally sir, are you going to interrogate her?”
He crosses his arms casually, “I can only question her when her voice returns. There’s no point forcing it out. Maybe she’ll speak when she relaxes.”
Relaxes?! Motomo cries in his mind, and the other Council men shake their heads in disagreement.
“Sir, please, how do you trust her so easily?” one of the men with oily black eyes cries, his beard reaching down to his chest, “She is an outsider, she has no papers, no records no headband!” while he talks another man comes in and takes the maid out but they hardly notice, “She could be here to assassinate you! I don’t trust her, I don’t trust her eyes! She has the mark of the devil on her!”
Gaara knows the council men long enough not to resent them. All of them simply did their jobs and if they were narrow-minded, well, there was not much he could do about that. He went through their simple minds everyday, this was no different.
“The mark of the devil huh?” He turns and looks them in the eyes. There’s a slight shudder. They look into his stone-cold eyes encircled by dark rings embedded forever into him from sleepless years. His red hair, his blood-tattoo, crystal unwavering eyes that seem to hold a million things at once, but are shielded behind a person so withdrawn, almost soulless, with a gorge full of human blood seeped into sand that sat in his room. He was a person that had turned from a selfish killer into a selfless leader and protector.
“I have the mark of the devil.”
They suddenly contort at their mistake
“Kazekage-sama!” they say, as though it’s the most preposterous thing they ever heard. “Please, be reasonable,”
“It was not meant to be offensive!”
Gaara knows that they didn’t mean to insult him, but he proved his point and walked out, Yuugao fleeting behind him as he would show her where to get clean. Slowly, the Council members follow, except for Motomo who looks into a dark, misted vent and at an ANBU mask. He nods approvingly and the figure vanishes.
The circular stone table was clustered with papers and scrolls, twelve men occupying each seat. Motomo, at the head of the table, had begun the topic ever since he had seen her crawl out of the depths of the cave. They would listen to him, to his words, to his voice, to his reason, and his evidence.
“Gaara does not see the danger, but that’s okay, I will provide him with evidence. He has been affected by those eyes, and I will not let this girl harm our village!”
There were mumbles of approval, heads falling up and down in agreement. He paced the room, and with a stroke of his hand, presented scrolls laid on the table. Inked words and diagrams stared them in the face, the smell of musty scrolls he collected over the years tinged the air.
“I have set up a research team, hired the ANBU,” he was about to converse more when a loud snap and then a puff of smoke appeared behind him. Three ANBU’s were aligned.
“Back from mission and ready to report!” the middle ANBU said.
“What happened in the kitchen?” one man asked, “Tell us everything!”
“Well...’ the voice said, a little muffled behind his mask, “She was eating, drinking, like an animal. Hitomi, the maid, tried to talk to her, but the more she spoke the slower she ate. The maid didn’t say anything more and offered her another plate... And then, the chef ,well...”
“He had a seizure.”
There was a moment of silence and Motomo cursed. A seizure? No, that was impossible... unless... wait, yes...That had to be it!
“Are you sure it wasn’t a jutsu?” a woman in her 50’s asked, but Motomo shook his head, “No, it was a seizure. If it was a seizure he saw than that’s what it was.”
“How can he be sure, he was hiding in the vent?!”
Had the ANBU not worn his mask the whole Council Room would have seen his eyes roll. He knew his work, he was one of the best. But he kept his mouth shut.
“Continue following her,” Motomo ordered simply, “Don’t let her out of your sight!”
Since neither of his siblings was present, the situation had to be handled by him. He found it ironic that only after a month of no conflict he was faced with another complicated task.
The two stepped into the sunlight of the village. She followed Gaara closely by his side, her arms together over her chest. She was frightened, extremely frightened. Every time she saw a person her eyes widened in fear and she moved away.
Gaara had guessed the worst.
They stopped under a tree, one of the only trees in the village, a bench placed beneath the sappy leaves. They sat down in silence, the desert breeze rustling in the tree. In the distance were children, their happy laughter carried in the soft wind as they swayed on swings and kicked footballs around. There were few people dressed lightly and enjoying the quiet afternoon. Chatting couples, laced fingers and close faces, lips locked and whispers.
They stood up again, and this time she had her hands lowered, her body more relaxed. Her face was less pale with a slight pink in her cheeks. A slight gleam came on her face and he took her to the shopping area. There they walked through crowds, and by the time they were halfway she smiled, smiled so much in happiness! There was no sound from her, but her beam was evident.
“Welcome to the Hidden Village of Sand,” he told her and her lush eyes radiated delight.
Is she responsible for what just happened? He asked himself, not really looking at her, but keeping an eye on her. Did she really cause that man to... spasm?
“Where are you from?” he asks when they slow down.
They stops and she tries to speak, but her voice comes out in rasps, “I... Y...”
“It’s okay, don’t force yourself,” he said and she nods. They continue, until suddenly her eyes widen and she points at excitedly at a small stall with fruits. A plump woman with dark hair greets them, her hands weary of labour, “Fresh from the greenhouses!” she smiles at her customers and suddenly her face falls, before she gasps so suddenly in sweet shock, “Kazekage-sama! Ame!” a young girl comes from the store, clearly her daughter, a little bored, until her face meets Gaara’s and she can hardly suppress a shriek, “Kazekage-sama!” she bows respectfully, her cheeks ablaze in a pinky blush, “Welcome, welcome! Can I help you? Wow, what an honour that you’re coming to our shop!” Gaara smiles and buys some fruit.
Yuugao eats as they walk in the shade, crunching through fruit deliciously. She offers him some, but he rejects, she tries again, this time putting it closer to his face. He shakes his head, and she pouts her lips. She walks ahead of him as though angry, and he looks at her back, confused. Then he follows, and she suddenly turns, he face contorted in a hilarious imitation of Motomo, large seeds completely stuffed in her cheeks and her eyebrows in a deep menacing frown. His lips curve...
What the hell?
It rang out of him, for the first time in his life, spontaneously and full of joy.
Sabaku-no Gaara, laughed, beautifully.
No one, no one believed their ears.
Silent, but with a smile, she followed Gaara as he showed her to a spare room in the house of the Kage’s. He opened it with his key and let her walk in first. As she stepped in he switched on the light.
It was medium, with four walls, two with windows and a balcony outside. Her bed was in the centre, comfortable and king-sized. She gasped, stared at her room, than went to the window and gazed at the village before opening a window to let the cool night air in.
“Get some sleep,” he told her and she nodded excitedly, bowed as a way of thanks and honour, and let him close the door.
Gaara sighed, walking into his room, several balconies above his guest’s, their potential client, he kept reminding himself, hoping that’s what she was and nothing else.
Moonlight streamed into his room and he stepped outside, his chest bare and the cool breeze whispering against him. He looked over his village, at the canyon walls. His gorge, rarely worn since the war, sat in its corner. He had managed little work today... he had to make up for it as soon as she could talk.
A soft pillow and a sheet: Until two years ago Gaara hadn’t felt the bliss of sleep; awake all night and day, he suffered the cruel fate of Shukaku within him, envying men with their hours of relaxed muscles, while he was always tense. Now, the cold desert breeze actually meant something, and dreams weren’t just things he heard about. For two years now, he experienced dreams...
Still no luck with speech. Gaara could tell the Council members were getting impatient and they had nothing better to do than watch Yuugao. By the time he finished his work that day, night had crept in and the unexpected happened:
There was a cry from the street close to the building. It was a person he knew, someone he knew very well! It was a male voice, and it was in agony. He reached the bottom of the staircase and found a crowd.
“Bodies, I see bodies of the Wind! I see bodies of the Wave! Aaagh!” It’s a masked ANBU, and he’s clutching his head in pain. By his feet on the earth is Yuugao, her eyes wide as she tried to shield herself from him.
“He’s hallucinating!” a man cries from the crowd, and shinobi’s arrive at the scene, trying desperately to calm him down, but he thrusts his arms frantically, as though trying to push his visions away.
Than he hears her voice, and it sticks to him, and it would stick to him forever. It was Yuugao, and she was crying, barely audible, “Oh my god... oh my god... oh my god!”
The ANBU than jerks crazily, just like the chef, before he stops writhing, and slowly falls to the dirt. The shibobi run to him, and they remove his mask...
Before he can do anything they drag his body over the dirt and to the hospital wing. More shinobi’s arrive as they try to push the crowd back, insisting that there is nothing to see. The next second the Council arrives. Motomo appears, and two ANBU’s rush past Gaara, his hair fanned from their speed. They restrain Yuugao, heaving her from the dirt.
“What’s this?” Gaara demands, his face still passive, with no emotion.
“We knew we recognised her!” one of the Council members cry out. The ANBU thrusts her head up by the threads of her hair as she tries to bite herself free. She cries out from the force,
“Hey!” Gaara warns, surprised, but he’s interrupted, as Momto speaks loudly, “Yuugao, Yuugao of the Arba clan, am I right?”
There’s a mumble from the crowd as he continues, “A clan thought to be extinct. Yuugao...” he addresses her, “What does your name mean? Huh? Tell the Kazekage!”
She flinches and whimpers, fear overtaking her whole body as she feels her skin burn from the force the ANBU hold her.
“Nightflower!” she cries out desperately, finally letting it out. She looks at Gaara with sadness
Nightflower? “So?” Gaara asks, confusion, anger in his eyes for the way his men treat her.
“Nightflower, or more commonly known as the moonflower: A rare white blossom that blooms only in the moonlight. A beautiful flower, elegant and petite. But, you can’t trust appearances only. The smell of the moonflower is invigorating, but the contents of the flower are so poisonous it can cause confusion, agitation, hyperthermia, seizures and in the worst case scenario a coma... to name a few...”
“What are you saying,” Gaara retorts, “That she has the power of the moonflower? That she caused the chef to go into a seizure, that the ANBU here was hallucinating?”
“That’s right. Don’t you think it’s convenient for her to play the innocent victim, to show up unexpectedly with no records and headband? But her green eyes are unique to the Arba, and not only that, her powers are a bloodline limit! They hired especially her to assassinate you, but unlucky for her, she was caught in the sandstorm and had to find temporary shelter! She came across that cave, but got trapped under the sand!”
Gaara looks at her, but she’s frightened to the core.
“You caused these things to happen to the ANBU?” he asks, his voice never wavering, “Were you aware when you did it?”
“I... I...” tears stream down her face, the moonlight reflected in her salty streams.
“All right, let her go.”
They stare at him.
“I said; let her go.”
Motomo lost his voice, unable reply or defend himself. Yuugao’s released, and she falls to the ground, crying as lowly as she can, her head bowed.
“Please, leave these grounds now,” he tells his people, who cannot stop staring, shocked at his decision, disgusted by the girl, eager to see what he will do next.
“In times of post-war it’s normal to feel fear from opposing villages,” he tells his people, “But treating her like she’s a demon will be no different than the way her village did.”
Yuugao nearly stops breathing and gasps. She looks up and stares at him with her eyes wide.
“The way her villagers, did?“ Motomo repeats in confusion, “Gaara-sama, what are you taking about?”
“You were thrown out by your village right? And when you tried to go back, they locked you up in that cave.”
He looks away at the soil, a slight hatred visible in his eyes, “Treating you because you’re different... Because you are born with fearful power...Even your own family turns against you.”
He looks back at her, this girl who was so afraid of the world. Yesterday in the village had proved that to him; she flinched whenever she saw a person, a sign of a fear of getting hurt for what she was, powers she could not control. But as soon as she got comfortable she was able to open up, and today, for the first time, she was able to talk!
If he had his gorge he would have been better prepared, the action so unexpected. As soon as she got to her feet she ran into him and smothered him in a hug.
His eyes were wide in disbelief, his body stiff from such soft physical contact.
Motomo and his partners stared in shock. Gaara’s heart seemed to have failed him; it was completely still and immobile, before he realised that she was showing him affection. He looked to his side and at the face over his shoulder, her arms wrapped around his chest. Slowly, he raised his arms and took his light hold on either arm, softly holding her away from him. He stared at her in confusion, before he let her go and walked back into the building.
A dark room, cluttered by documents and records, papers to sign, hawk-mail to approve and stamp, “Your son died during the war,” stamp, next note, “You’re daughter died in the war” stamp: the list of paperwork went on and on. Luckily, he didn’t have to bother with money affairs and calculations; he had other people that tedious work for him. He must assign ANBU’s and jounin to missions, think very carefully which squads to send. He even surprised himself; four years ago he wouldn’t give a rats-*** about the lives of other shinobi, now he had to make intelligent decisions almost on a daily basis. The Council of course, was present during matters like sending shinobi on missions, and usually their louder, “more experienced” voices rang through for hours as they’d sometimes spend a lifetime debating on issues. Quiet by nature, Gaara would listen, and when his opinion was asked, he would usually agree.
On his desk was a note he wrote for himself: “Proposal: Development plan for better schools”. It was still a mere idea he had for the village. He wanted his people to be as happy and as prosperous as the people in Konoha; a beautiful village defended by strong and loyal shinobi, usually embracing the diversity of clans. He wanted that for the Sand as well, a place where strong shinobi would take his place when he died.
But it was neither the time nor the place to think of such things. Probably his most useful and outspoken task was leading his men and defending the village, be it an attack from the sea of directly from the desert. It was, of course, the only reason he was Kazekage. As a 16 year old, the Council members didn’t bother listening about his ideas for better schools and training grounds like the ones he saw in Konoha. No, their favourite subject was war and preventing it. These old men had probably lived through generations of warfare, seen their fair amount of their own shinobi turn against them, and so Gaara had to wait until he had little more authority to present his ideas to these jumpy, aged men.
The moon was beautiful as usual, the breeze chilly, but years in the desert made him immune. He sat on his windowsill, arms on his knees and mouth hidden from view. His solemn blue eyes were focused on his city outside, but strange thoughts elsewhere. His heart was still thumping against his ribcage, and he wondered hopelessly, a slight frown on his face, what it meant. A hug from that girl. It was just a hug, and yet this one was different from the ones he got from younger (and sometimes older) girls in the village, provided he wasn’t carrying his gauge. A hug, that caused his stomach to churn, was this hug like the ones he’d seen couples do? An embrace that he didn’t understand… one that usually had a kiss, short or long. Funny, how his mind was now thinking of such things, and he suddenly gasped when he imagined himself kissing Yuugao. He saw his reflection. His eyes were different.
A woman had come in, and by the looks of it she was a medical shinobi from the hospital, a paper in her hand, “I’m sorry to disturb you sir, but Tsubaki... he’s gone into a coma.”
Gaara couldn’t move. It took a while before he was able to collect his thoughts and reply. “Thank you,” he said, his voice steady, but his heart in sudden shock. Tsubaki you fool... You were only trying to protect me, weren’t you?
He thought angrily about how Motomo must have hired him, persuaded him that if he cared do much about his Kazekage, he would damn well stop this girl from killing him. Tsubaki hated the Council, but if he were to defend Gaara… that was a different story.
He sighed in mysery, wondering how long it would take for his friend to get out of his coma. Days? Weeks? Years? What a fool, what a fool!
The city was beautiful tonight despite the ill things that were happening under his roof. The moon was almost halfway waxed, a fat crescent amongst a thousand stars. He sighed and before he knew it, his mind had reverted back to her…
“Moonflower!” he heard her cry in his head again. He looked back at himself; godammit he cursed, god dammit, god dammit GOD DAMMIT!
He was shaking. His heart wouldn’t stop thumping like a maniac, his thoughts wouldn’t stop thinking about one girl. Finally, he realised what this new feeling must mean and the dangers it brought. He understood what was happening to him, to his heart. No! ‘This is not the time for such useless emotions,’ he thought, ‘I have to focus on the village...’ Yet he couldn’t stop thinking about her.
It was close to nine p.m, the lights in some homes already out as their young ones slept. He switched the lights off in his office, a small click and then he closed his door. In the hall the lights still burn loud and fierce. He can hear people talking, and goes the opposite direction, and up the stairs. There, is Yuugao’s temporary room. He opens the door and hopes she hasn’t fallen asleep from exhaustion, but she’s on her bed, staring blankly at the moon. She’s wearing the cloths he got for her.
He walks in, and by the looks of it, she hasn’t noticed. He walks to her and speaks her name, “Yuugao...”
Startled, she jumps, than blushes fiercely before falling to the floor and bows deeply for him, “Thank you Gaara-sama. Thank you so much for giving me food and water and clothes... and shelter! I’m sorry... I’m sorry I caused you trouble today.”
For a moment he doesn’t say anything, her voice beautiful and it rings nicely in his ears, than he asks her to get up. She does, her head avoiding him. He gulps despite himself. “Yuugao... I,” he looks around him, “Can I sit down?”
“Of coarse!” she gasps, suddenly aware of her rudeness and steps back, so he can sit on her bed.
She sits down as well. For a moment their quiet, not saying anything. He wanted to talk to her, ask her if she had any way of controlling her powers, if she was afraid of going outside, so many things he wanted to ask, but he didn’t know where to begin, and before he knew it he heard a sob.
He looked at her and saw the most shocking thing.
She was smiling.
“Wha- I...” Crying and smiling? Was that normal?
“Are... are you hurt?”
She laughed and said, “No... no, I’m crying out of joy...”
“Yes... ever since you said I could stay in this village... I’m so happy! Such kindness... I... I guess I’m overwhelmed by your kindness!” she quickly dries her tears with her sleeve. He cannot take his eyes off her, her smell intoxicating.
“I have found a place to stay... close... to...” she trails off, embarrassed. “I’m sorry, I... I can speak now... I can move. I can breathe... But still, even though I’m here, in this village... I can’t help but feel...”
“That someone is watching you? That you won’t be easily accepted because you’re different?”
She looks out of the window, “I cannot ask for anything more. I am here, and you have shown me that there are other people in this world… good people... but, I cannot protect myself, and I know that, eventually I will be destroyed. But, when I die, at least I know that someone, no you...showed me compassion. That’s why I’m crying. There is someone who doesn’t hate me...”
Gaara’s feels a pang of pain in his heart, a pain that he recognises, and knew all his life. But this girl... she didn’t show hate or resentment for what her people did, or for who she was. Instead, she accepted it, her soul embraced it.
She blushes, “All I ever wanted my whole life. Safety...”
He can no longer contain himself and hugs her, one full of compassion. Tears stain his eyes, tears of overwhelming sadness, “Don’t talk like that, please, don’t say such things!”
She gasps, surprised at his reaction. He holds her away from him and looks her fiercely in the eyes, “I will protect you... You’re powers shouldn’t be something that is feared.” He tells her, not accepting anything else. He looks away for a moment, than continues, “I... Nobody should feel the pain I felt, the pain that chokes up your lungs.”
Her eyes quiver.
He stares a moment longer, and his heart suddenly beats in his chest. He stares at her lips. The moment seems like an eternity, but he bends his head to the side, his brain no longer working, his feelings driving him. He looks at her eyes and can see it in her too. He knows what he wants; he knows how to express what his heart is telling him.
Suddenly a door opens and the moment is gone. They separate quickly, and their heads fly to the doorway. It’s Motomo.
If he was shocked at what he saw, or if he already predicted it, than they couldn’t read it in his face.
“Sir,” he said, “I have some startling news,” he says, and looks at Yuugao in disgust. “Very startling news.”
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