Behind the Mask Part 2

Light music filled what parts of the large room weren’t occupied by the many bodies dancing to it.

Kankuro sighed again for the millionth time that evening, standing next to his brother.

Gaara eyed him coolly, wondering what had plagued his brother. As per tradition, the only people who weren’t wearing masks was a Kazekage and a handful of his bodyguards and advisors.

“What’s the matter?” He decided to probe.

Kankuro looked up and over to him before sighing again and replying, “I haven’t seen Temari or Kaya all night.”

Gaara had to hold back an eye roll. He knew his brother was interested in the Leaf Shinobi despite her lack of interest in him. Yet he too was curious about the where bouts of his sister and their friend.

Just as that thought had occurred to him, gasps and low chatter filled the room drowning out the music. His sea foam eyes followed the direction everyone was staring in.

Two young women just walked in. One was blonde, one had black hair. They wore matching outfits and mask. The blonde was dressed in a short, sparkly, sleeveless purple dress that showed off her shapely figure with purple lace attached to the end of the sparkly fabric half way down her thigh that fell down to her ankles showing off her strappy black high heels. Her hair was down and curled into loose ringlets that framed her round face. Her mask only covered her teal eyes. It was a black base covered with purple feathers and lace trim, allowing an odd black jewel to break up the pattern along with small amounts of gold glitter.

The black haired girl wore a black dress that was floor length. Her left sleeve was a thin off the shoulder chiffon strap that hung there loosely. The boddis of the dress clung to her frame showing off her excellent curves, her fair chest, her slim waist, her plump hips. The skirt however hung looser than the rest of the dress with a slit on the left side of the dress, showing off her shapely legs and strappy purple high heels, and allowed the skirt to flow about her with such grace. Her long, black hair was also worn down, but unlike her friend, it was worn straight. Her mask also only covered her black eyes, tapering down to cover a bit of her nose as well. The base of her mask was purple, it was covered mostly by black feathers and lace trim with the odd purple gem to break up the pattern and a small amount of silver glitter.

The women walked forward and began to mingle with other patrons, the party continued.

“Who are those girls?” Kankuro whispered to himself in awe of what he had just seen.

“Temari and Kaya.” Gaara told his brother.

“Wait, what?” Kankuro demanded, hearing his brother’s words.

“Those girls are Temari and Kaya who just walked in.” He told the brunette to his left.

“How can you be sure it was them?” Kankuro countered.

“How many other people do you know with teal eyes?” He countered.

Kankuro shrugged.

“Aside from that, the girl in black not only possesses a Konha Anbu Black Ops tattoo on her left arm, but the same scars on her right arm that Kaya does.” He reasoned.

Kankuro just pouted again, “Now I’m never going to be able to dance with her looking like that.”

Gaara just sighed at his brother and looked away, back to the girls. He could spot Temari easily enough, most of the girls this year had opted for red dresses so she stuck out rather well. The blonde was mingling with a few people, yet the red head’s sea foam eyes had to search feverishly for the black haired girl. He finally found her leaning against the furthest wall, a glass of wine in her left hand.

People around her gave longing stares at her, admiring her. Yet they all gave her the widest berth they could. Beautiful as she was, she was still her intimidating form and her harsh black eyes.

Gaara allowed himself to slip away unnoticed by his brother and body guards to the far side of the room where unwavering, onyx eyes followed his every movement.

The girl nodded deeply to the Kazekage as he stepped towards her.

“Good evening, Kazekage-sama.” She said smoothly.

“Good evening to yourself, Kaya.” Gaara all but whispered seeing her up close.

“I feel honoured that you recognized me.” She smiled at him.

“You aren’t difficult to spot when you know what to look for.” He smiled at her.

“And what were you looking for, if you don’t mind me asking.” Kaya smirked.

Gaara mirrored her actions, “I never knew you drank.” He motioned to the glass in her left hand, cleverly avoiding the topic.

Kaya shrugged, “Not generally. Alcohol dulls the senses.”

Gaara nodded in acceptance to that response.

“You always seem to gravitate to the edge of any large group. Why is that?” He asked, leaning against the wall to her right.

“I always like having some space between me and those around me. I like to have at least little reaction time.”

Gaara just stared at her at that. He finally took the time to properly appreciate her form.

“I’m sorry of this makes you uncomfortable.” Kaya almost whispered. Gaara had to strain his ears to hear her over the music and sounds of the people all around them.

“What makes me uncomfortable?” He breathed, his sea foam eyes meeting her black gems.

Kaya couldn’t meet his gaze as she half shrugged, half motioned to her right arm.

Gaara’s lips pressed together to form a tight line.

“Would you like to go somewhere more private with me so we can talk?”

Kaya looked up at him, almost scared she had upset him. Seeing there was no animosity in his eyes, she nodded slightly and allowed the red head to take the glass of wine from her hand and set it down before grabbing her left hand and leading her away.

The black haired girl did her best to keep her right arm hidden from view.

“I don’t believe I’ve told you yet how beautiful you look, have I?” Gaara said more to himself as they came to a stop on a deserted back street.

“Thank you.” Kaya said meekly, she had never gotten many compliments in her life and wasn’t sure how to take it.

“You know, Temari never told us that you would be coming here. It was a nice surprise. I’m glad you accepted her invitation.”

Kaya shrugged again, “Temari is a hard person to turn down.”

A ghost of a smile pulled at Gaara’s lips as he looked Kaya in the eye again.

“You didn’t ask me here to talk about Temari and me coming here, did you?” She breathed.

Gaara shook his head and reached carefully forward towards Kaya’s right arm. The black eyed girl stiffened for a moment before relaxing and letting Gaara’s warm hands pull her arm forward so he could examine it.

He turned it over gently, his fingers barely grazing the scared flesh as his hands moved up and down Kaya’s arm.

She was ridged in fear, yet trembling at his touch.

“Does it still hurt?” Gaara finally whispered, acknowledging Kaya’s fear.

“No.” She breathed to him.

“Are you afraid of me?” He asked, looking up from her arm into her eyes.

“No.” Kaya breathed again.

“Then why do you shake?” He asked, “Why do you hide this from me? Why did you lie to Kankuro?”

Kaya took a deep breath and closed her eyes tightly before she replied to the red head, “I lied to Kankuro because it’s a very long story to explain. I’ve tried my best to hide this from you because I know how bad you felt when it happened. I know how much you cried. I know you did everything you could to help me feel better once the doctors treated me. I know you thought yourself as nothing more than a monster because of what you did when I wasn’t even trying to hurt you. I… I don’t want this,” She motioned widely to her right arm, “To hurt you anymore than it already has in the past. I care about you and will do anything I can to make sure you never feel that way again.”

Gaara trailed his fingers up Kaya’s right arm, up her shoulder, her neck to her cheek. He carefully slid her mask up over her head, holding it in his right hand and using his left to wipe away the stray tears that fell from her right eye.

“I never want to see you in pain again, Kaya.” He whispered to the black haired girl, “I want to make sure no more pain ever be falls you. I love you.”

Kaya’s black gems flew open and stared into Gaara’s sea foam orbs.

“I love you too, Gaara.” She whispered, “I really do.”

Gaara smiled wide then, knowing she meant it.

“Then please don’t feel the need to hide this from me again. Please.” Gaara begged, ghosting his fingers along her arm again.

Kaya shivered at the touch but nodded.

“May I kiss you?” Gaara asked softly seeing Kaya’s eyes clear.

Kaya smiled broadly at the fact he asked that. But she nodded eagerly anyway.

Gaara leaned down slightly and pressed his lips gently against hers. Kaya ran her hand up his torso and placed them on his shoulders to help hold him place. The kiss was soft and light, but very loving and caring. It was exactly what the other craved from them, and there was nothing to block it.


Obscuring The Heart(Part 17)

I ladled a healthy helping of thick, lamb stew into a bowl and set it on the table in front of my father. I was still thinking about that poster that I had seen earlier that day. I knew there was something familiar about it, but I just couldn’t place it.

I ladled out some stew for myself and took my seat across from my dad.

“Sigrid, is something the matter?” The red head asked me.

“I was talking to Philip today.” I saw his confused face, “The bounty hunter.” I clarified, “And he showed me the poster of the man he’s been hunting. And there’s just something really familiar about him, but I can’t put my finger on what it is.”

“Well,” Stoik shrugged, “He’ll be out of our hair tomorrow, so it doesn’t gain any time still thinking about it. Besides I need you in top spirits. With all the other riders gone, many of the children have been terrified that there’s no one around to protect them from that monster in forest.”

My eyes lit up, finally remembering what that tattoo reminded me of.

“Didn’t they say that monster looked a lot like a scauldron?” I asked.

Stoik nodded, “Children and their imaginations. No matter how many times any of us tell them there is no way that a scauldron would be up in the mountains they insist they’ve seen one.”

I pushed away from the table and stood up, heading for the door and picking up my ax, quiver and bow along the way.

“Sigrid, where are you going?” Stoik called out to me.

“To hunt this monster.” I told him, flashing him a genuine smile before bolting out of the house so he wouldn’t be able to stop me.

“Are you sure this is where you saw it last?” I asked Gustav who was trembling under Shadowsplinter’s wing.

“Yes.” He squeaked out, “Can I please go now?”

I tilted my head to examine the tracks a little better. These footprints were way too large for it to be any of the other children in the village playing a prank on the others. It was a grown man, maybe about the same size a Mulch but I couldn’t be certain.

I nodded finally, “Take Fanghook and go home. You did as I asked so I don’t need you here-

I cut myself off as I turned around slightly to see he had already taken to the sky on his dragon and was heading home.

I sighed to myself and shook my head. He could ride a five ton flaming war machine like it was nothing, but at the prospect of facing a ‘monster’ he turned tail and fled.

I had to suppress a chuckle as I followed the tracks by lantern light. His reaction was probably the most logical to take. I was being the idiot.

I followed the tracks, weaving in and out of bushes, around trees, over a small creek. But the tracks were ever present. It was like whoever left them either wanted themselves to be tracked or had no care as to whom found them.

I took a pause to suppress a cough and to examine the tracks more thoroughly. There were overlays of other tracks on top, the same feet but they were much more fresh. I made the decision to extinguish my lantern and take a few moments to let my eyes adjust to the night. There was little light from the half moon filtering down through the trees, but it was enough for me to make my way.

I motioned for Shadowsplinter to stay where he was until I knew exactly where these were heading. I had a feeling that the tracks were leading to a small cave close by. It was mostly covered by a fallen tree, fresh saplings, bushes. It was something so out of the way that you wouldn’t know to look for it if you didn’t know it was there.

How did I know it was there? Simple. We all used to play in the forest as kids. Especially when Dagur came for the treaty signing. On one such occasion, when Dagur was here, we had wandered pretty deep into the woods. Shortly after a fight between the two of us broke out and we wound up on the ground wrestling. Eventually we rolled down the small hill, crashing into bushes and small rocks and who knows what else, eventually winding up down at that cave. Our previous fight had been forestalled due to our curiosity to investigate the small opening.

I was correct in my assumption and stepped forward carefully, making sure to avoid making any kind of unnecessary noise. Once past some of the further bushes I began to see the dim glow of a fire. I stepped forward a little more, making sure to move slowly and deliberately so that I would maintain my element of surprise. In all my years of hunting and fighting I knew this was crucial thing to maintain.

I grew within a few feet of the entrance of the cave, I could see him clearly thanks to the flames of the fire. He was about Mulch’s size, maybe a little taller. He had blonde hair and a long, scraggly mustache and beard combination. His brown eyes were both tired and hard, as if he’d seen more than his fair share of carnage yet he longed for a soft bed. His nose was big and unbroken, or at least it was set back properly, but what drew my attention the most was the tattoo on his right cheek. It was the tail of a scauldron.

I assessed my options. The cave was small so there wasn’t any room for a full on scrimmage between us, and with the small opening and all the foliage around I was on my own because Shadowplinter couldn’t get in this far. He was a big man too so I wouldn’t be able to overpower him. I could have run back to the village and gotten Philip or another adult out here to help me, but the odds of them being as silent as I was were slim to non.

I watched carefully as the flames began to die down into low embers. Norman hadn’t moved in the entire time I was there, and after a few more minutes I realized why that was. He fell over from his sitting position onto his side with a dull thud. He was breathing heavily and evenly. I was in luck.

I waited a few more moments before making my move, I wanted to make sure he was in a deep sleep. I pulled my bow and quiver off of my shoulder and set them down silently on the grass, they would only hinder me.

On my hands and toes I slowly advanced into the cave careful to not make a single sound. I knelt right in front of the large, sleeping man and carefully brought his hands together in front of him. I then carefully wrapped the ball end of my chain scythe around his wrists and secured it so he wouldn’t be able to wriggle loose. Then, being careful not to make a single sound, I slowly backed out of the cave on my toes. Once back out into the open night air I straightened myself up to my full height and sent Shadowsplinter a hand signal to come forward and land on the fallen tree hanging over the cave.

He did as I signaled, and the second he had touched down I had secured the scythe end of the chain to the guards on the back end of the saddle. I double checked to make sure that was secure before scurrying back into the gave to check on Norman. He was still asleep, chain firmly secured around his wrists.

Satisfied I left the cave silently and picked up my bow and quiver, hanging them on my shoulder like before. I then climbed up fallen tree and mounted Shadowplinter.

“Alright, boy.” I started, patting his neck softly, “We’re gonna have some extra weight here, but all we have to do it get him to the village. If you can manage that, there’ll be a bucket of apples waiting for you once we hand him over. Alright?”

He didn’t let out a roar, knowing silence was best here. Instead he let out a lot of air through his nostrils along with small amounts of smoke to let me know he was up for it.

“Alright.” I said more to myself that time, “Sky.”

Norman the Nimrod’s back his the deck hard. Philip the bounty hunter towered over him with a grim smile on his face.

“I owe dis all to you, miss Sigr’d.” Philip smiled at me.

I shrugged, “One less thing for the people of Berk to worry about.”

“If’n it’s alright’n wit you, I’d like’n to come back her ‘nd share with you the bounty I get off o’ him.” Philip offered.

I shook my head, “I was doing a duty to the people.”

Philip shook his head, “Wouldn’t be righ’ta leave her and take all the treasure for myself. Sides, you’s the one who found ‘im in da fir’t place.”

I shrugged again, “If you feel the need to do it I can’t stop you. But he’s your prize.”

“Dat he is.” Philip agreed, “You known, miss Sigr’d,” He said more thoughtfully this time, “If’n you’d evar consider a differ’nt path, bounty huntin’ might’n be it for ya. You seem to be a real goodin’ at it.”

I shrugged again, “I know how to track. It’s not really a be all, end all skill.”

It was Philip who shrugged this time.

“Just a sugges’n.”

I shrugged once more.

“Well, thank you for taking this, nuisance off our hands, Philip.” Stoik cut in. He had been there the entire time and decided now was the best time to speak.

“Thanks is mine, chief.” Philip replied with a polite nod, “I won’t’n be botherin’ you ‘nd your people no more.”

“Safe travels.” My father bid as Philip boarded his ship and shoved off.

We waved until he was well out of ear shot.

“He seemed nice.” I said more to myself than to anyone else. I knew what was about to come.

“Nice?” Stoik growled as he turned his attention from the disappearing boat to me, “He seemed nice. A bounty hunter? A man you only barely know the name of, that you risked your life to go out and find him his target. All because he seemed nice!”

“His target, ” I started, “Was a man who was terrorizing our children. At least now you have one less thing to worry about.”

“Sigrid!” Stoik boomed, “I don’t care about that. You could have been hurt. You were hunting a wanted man for heaven’s sake! You leave, in the dark no less, without much of a word, force young Gustav to take you to where this monster was seen and then proceed to track it alone!”

“I had Shadowplinter with me.” I shot back.

“Oh, and having your dragon makes all the difference?” Stoik snapped.

“Yes.” I seethed, “He wouldn’t let anything happen to me!”

“But what if something did happen to you?” Stoik demanded.

“Nothing happened!”

“But what if something did? What if it was a dragon out there that posed a threat and not a heavily sleeping man? What if it was someone much more alert? What if-”

I cut him off, “What if Norman started stealing children? What if he started wrecking crops and stealing farm animals and ruining our livelihoods?” I demanded, “What then? Had I not acted as I did we could potentially be have a much different conversation right now. We can stand here all day and talk about what ifs and what could have been and how stupid I am for doing what I did. But at the end of the day dad, nothing bad happened. I ran off in the middle of the night, that’s not odd for me. I tracked someone in the forest, we all do that from time to time. Yeah, maybe it could have been a dragon, but it wasn’t. So, how about instead of continuously going over all the things that could have gone wrong and obsessing about my lack of safety, can you not just be happy that I solved something for you and came out of it okay?”

Stoik looked almost ashamed, he had learned how to better talk to Hiccup and myself over the past few years instead of just yelling at us about our mistakes and what we should be doing. He’s learned to listen and see things from our point of view, but that didn’t mean he liked it.

“I know you’re just concerned dad,” I assured him my placing a reassuring hand on his arm, “But I’m not a kid anymore. I know how to handle myself.”

“I thought you were still sick?” He all but whispered back at me.

I shrugged again, “I’m mostly over it. Besides, I think that clean night air really helped me.”

He could only half smile at me, which I mirrored back. Somethings were getting really hard for him to accept. My strength and intelligence seemed to be among them.

Behind The Mask(A Gaara One-Shot)

A firm knock swept through the house early that morning. Temari’s eyes lit up, knowing exactly who that was.

“I got it!” She all but yelled, running past her brothers to get to the front door.

“She’s way too much of a morning person.” Kankuro yawned at his sister.

Gaara merely shrugged at his siblings.

“Guys, you better behave. Kaya is here!” Temari called again coming into the kitchen with the black haired girl in tow.

Kaya waved shyly to the two men.

“What are you doing here, Kaya?” Kankuro asked the Uchiha.

“Temari invited me to the village for the annual festival of the masks. I hope you don’t mind.” She said softly, her black eyes holding Kankuro’s own black orbs.

“Of course they don’t mind, right guys?” Temari smiled.

Kankuro was about to say something, but he was cut off by his brother for once in his life.

“Not at all.” Gaara cut in, smiling at the kunoichi, “I hope you enjoy your stay here. We’ll try to be as hospitable as possible.”

“Stop being so formal you two!” Temari all but yelled at them, “Kaya, you are here for vacation. You don’t need to address Gaara as Kazekage-sama anymore, and Gaara don’t get overly formal either. I know you have that habit.”

Both shinobi just looked away from the blonde, but said nothing.

“Good.” Temari said finally, “If you guys need us, Kaya and I will be upstairs in my room working on our costumes for the festival of the masks. Don’t need us.”

“A little late to be working on them, don’t you think sis?” Kankuro cut in before the two hurried out of the kitchen.

“Never too late for women with our expert taste.” Temari smirked before pulling Kaya along with her.

Gaara’s eyes lingered on the spot where the black haired girl once stood.

“Man, I hope I can dance with her tomorrow night.” Kankuro sighed to himself, causing his brother to glance at him.

“Oh come on, Gaara.” Kankuro probed, “Even someone like you has to admit Kaya’s a pretty girl. Well, pretty, and smart, and strong. She’s a real catch, I’m surprised she’s still single.”

Gaara said nothing as he finished his breakfast, but he couldn’t argue with his brother.

Kaya’s long black hair, soft black, round eyes. Her button nose and thin mouth. She had high cheekbones and a tapered chin. She had a very feminine face, and a very feminine form. Though her curves were not quite as defined as they could have been had she not been a shinobi, but she still had a decent chest and full hips with a toned butt. She possessed a lot of muscle on her for a woman, but non of it was bulk it was all finely tuned to be hard as steel through intense training. Yet with a light scar nicking her jaw line, just left of her mouth and bandages that constantly covered her right arm to hide a hideous scar and the fact she stood taller than most girls at 5’7 gave her quite an intimidating appearance. Couple that with the fact she was almost always in her combat attire and carrying all her weapons never made for an easy approach.

So to Gaara, it wasn’t a real surprise that she was still without a partner. Yet he would not allow the excitement of knowing that for a fact to take over him. He had liked the Uchiha ever since they had met when they were young. He too held the hope that he might be able to dance with the girl.

“I hate these things.” Kankuro whined as he tried to adjust the collar of his robes, he was accompanying Gaara to the festival of the Masks as his body guard, and, as per tradition, he had to dawn ceremonious robes.

“I’m right behind you with that.” Gaara grumbled to himself as he tried to fix his collar in the mirror.

“Um, forgive me if I’m interrupting.” Kaya’s smooth voice called  from the door way into the living room where the men stood, trying to fix their collars.

“You aren’t interrupting, Kaya.” Gaara assured the black haired girl without turning around, “What is it you need of us.”

“Yeah, it’s almost time for us to-woah.” Kankuro cut himself off as he turned around to look at the Leaf Shinobi, “Please tell me you are attending like that.”

Gaara, both confused and irritated looked over his shoulder to see what had sparked his brother’s more perverted side, he had to do a double take.

Kaya was standing in the door way, her hands clasped behind her back she was being especially careful to keep her right arm out of sight of the two. What she had on was what caught the attention of both men.

It was non other than a short, black, silken night robe that showed off her great curves and the miles that were her legs. Gaara couldn’t help himself but to allow his eyes to wander down and take note of the faint little nick and scars that healed over and littered her legs.

“No.” Kaya said slowly, staring at Kankuro confused, “Temari let me borrow this so I could come down and tell you guys to go on without us. We’ve had just a little wardrobe malfunction. Don’t worry though, we’ll catch up.”

Gaara just nodded and looked away, hoping to fix his collar shortly. He would not allow himself to drool over her like his brother was.

“We’d love to get going,” Kankuro grumbled, finally realizing that Kaya was not comfortable, “But these damn, stupid collars! We should really get rid of these!”

“Um,” Kaya started again, “I can help if you guys want.”

“You know how to do these?” Kankuro asked in disbelief.

The black eyed girl nodded, “My father had traditional robes kinda like that, I learned how to do them up.”

“Be my guest.” Kankuro smiled at her, opening his arms as in invitation to the girl.

Kaya hesitated a moment before striding into the room. The sleeves on the robe only came down about three-quarters of the way, still showing off a fair amount though. Her right hand, going up her wrist and forearm, extending even further than that, was covered in healed over burn scars. Some would think she slid really badly on grass or stone walkways. It was actually from high pressured sand slicing against her arm. But there was only two people who knew that.

“How’d you get that?” Kankuro asked as Kaya pulled lightly on his collar and did it up in a matter of seconds.

“Training accident.” She said shortly before turning to Gaara and quickly doing his up not meeting his gaze. He watched her hands carefully. He knew exactly how she got that scar. He knew exactly the amount of pain she had been in when she had gotten it. He knew exactly how many stitches were put in her arm to keep it together after it had happened. He wanted to run his fingers over it and make sure it didn’t hurt anymore.

But the second his collar was snapped into place, Kaya’s kind hands were gone and she began to walk out of the room.

“We’ll see you there then.” She sent a smile over her shoulder before all but disappearing back upstairs before Temari could yell for her.