It was a beautiful day in Konoha, the sun was shinning, the birds were singing and people were buzzing around the market place.
I lifted my shopping bag up from the ground and slipped my right arm through the straps so it would rest on my shoulder as I bid good day to the shop owner.
I pulled my long, black pony tail over my left shoulder as I sighed. It was rare I got a day like this. One where I could just relax.
My younger brother, Sasuke, was no longer going down the dark path I had feared. The akatsuki was dealt with. The great war was over. The Hokage, Kakashi, ordered me to take the day off, saying after everything that had occurred I deserved a day where I was resting instead of training.
Ever since I was 14 years old I had earned the rank of Jounin, prior to that I was part of the anbu blackops since I was 9. At that age, my elder brother, Itachi, slaughtered my clan. He did it to save Sasuke and myself. The 3rd Hokage had called us in, knowing we were both unrivalably loyal and just. I had known nothing about the Uchiha plans prior to that meeting. Itachi then made me promise to take care of our little brother. A promise, that for many years, I thought I failed. I took care of Sasuke for 6 tough years before he left.
My entire life had been training and caring for him. As a daughter I wasn’t exactly well loved, especially by my father. So I trained day and night to prove myself. That, somehow, wound up with me being one of the strongest shinobi to ever come out of Konoha.
Perhaps it was through my dedication and determination to protect and serve that I allowed certain aspects of myself to get weaker. Communication outside of missions, knowledge about my feelings and willingness to accept them, my preferences.
I didn’t really have any super close friends, I had friends but non who really knew what I was thinking. I understood my feelings, however because of my loyalty to my position and village I never acted on them not wanting them to affect me in battle or compromise my, or worse the village’s, possition. As for preferences, I wasn’t girly. I wanted to be, but it wasn’t practical. I wanted to be like all those other girls who could strut down the street in dresses and heels, with their faces painted all pretty and their long hair flowing behind them. However, that was never practical. I always prided myself with being ready at a moment’s notice. So my wardrobe mostly consisted of shorts, t-shirts and muscle shirts. I did own fish nets and wrappings and wore them quite often, but it wasn’t the same.
I paused for a moment on my way back to my apartment and sighed. I was thinking way too much about that. Those weren’t the kind of things I should dwell on. Sasuke is back. The akatsuki are taken care of. All the villages are at peace with one another. And I have the day off.
I looked over my shoulder at were the call was coming from.
Kankuro and Temari were walking up to me.
I turned around and greeted them with a warm smile, “Hey, what brings you guys here?”
“We’re escorting Gaara.” Temari informed me, “He’s in a meeting with Kakashi. We thought we’d take a walk around and see some old faces.”
“Well it’s good to see you guys too.” I told them.
“Speaking of which,” Kankuro directed, “How’ve you been holding up knowing about your brother?”
“Kankuro!” Temari snarled.
I shook my head, “It’s okay, Temari.” I told her, “It’s been weird, I’ll be honest there. I do find it a little bit unfair simply because of what he managed to pull off for us during the war. Yet at the same time I understand the need for this kind of punishment after what he had done against us. And after so long of him being gone, it’s nice to know exactly where he is.”
“You seem to be taking it well.” Kankuro noted.
I shrugged, “It’s part of being a shinobi I suppose.”
“Say,” Temari said gaining my attention, “Gaara’s going to be in a meeting all day. Do you wanna head to the bathhouse with us? We don’t have on in Suna.”
It was obvious to me that Temari was trying to change the subject to make me feel better.
“That sounds like fun.” I told her, “I have to run some stuff back home really quick though. So how about I meet you guys there?”
“Alright.” She said with a nod, “But if you aren’t there within 10 minutes of us I’m hunting you down myself.”
I nodded as Kankuro rolled his eyes.
“I’ll see you there.” I said and bowed before turning and leaving.
I continued on my way, walking down the back alley leading to my apparent building. I made my way up the stairs as I took out my key from my pocket. I unlocked the door and stepped inside, closing it behind me. I toed off my blue shoes and stepped into the hallway. I walked down it and ducked into the kitchen, quickly putting my groceries in the fridge and cupboards.
Once I was done I exited the kitchen and was about to head into the bathroom to gather up some of my toiletries for the bathhouse, but something caught my eye.
I turned my head towards the window in the living room where something was off. The window was open, not like I left it, on the sill was a fresh cut, white lily.
I sighed before padding across room to pick up the flower and close the window. I didn’t have to look at the sill to know there was a small amount of sand there. I put the lily in a vase in the kitchen before going into the bathroom to gather my things.
Every time he was at the village he found me, and he left me a flower.
I showed him kindness when he was young and I was on a mission in Suna. Before I left he gave be a desert rose as a token of friendship, which I had preserved in resin shortly after coming home. However because I lived so far away I couldn’t be there for him like he deserved.
It wasn’t that I didn’t have feelings towards the red head. After the pain he went through in his childhood, dealing with the Shukaku, going through the trails of becoming a Kage, leading the great shinobi war. It was admirable to say the least. Because of that it was obvious he was dedicated, intelligent, loyal, caring, skilled as a shinobi. He was attractive physically too, there was never any denying any of that.
My 1 issue about accepting my feelings for the young Kazekage was his position. I was only a Jonin of a faded clan, and he was the leader of a nation, more than likely with many, much more suitable, suitors at his disposal.
I always had it in my head, ever since I was little, my life was going to go 1 of 2 ways. The first; I was going to become a respectable and high ranked shinobi who became K.I.A. in a mission so their allies could complete the mission or return to the village safely and possibly get reinforcements. The second; as a daughter, I had assumed my father(who was the head of the clan) or the Hokage, would have married me off to another clan or village to keep peace. With the war over and Gaara being the Kazekage, neither of those were paths for me to follow that intertwined with his.
I opened the front door and tapped the toe of my shoe on the cement of the inside of my apartment before closing and locking it and heading on my way up the mountain to the hot springs.
As I approached the entrance to the hot spring I saw Temari and Konkuro standing there with a variety of other people, including: Naruto, Sakura, Lee, Tenten, Ino, Kiba, Shikamaru and Choji.
“Took you long enough.” Temari smirked as she saw me.
“Sorry.” I said with a smile, “My head’s been else where.”
“Doesn’t matter!” Naruto cut in, “Let’s just go in already.”
We all sort of sighed but followed the blonde inside anyway.
“I just feel sorry Hinata couldn’t come.” Sakura said as she washed Ino’s back.
“It’s fine.” Temari said as she dumped hot water on her head to clean out the suds, “I get she’s busy. I was actually surprised, Kaya had said yes.”
I looked over at her from where I was shampooing.
“What’s that supposed to mean, Temari?” I asked her.
“Just that you always seem to be working.” She said and stood up, having finished cleaning herself, “And when you aren’t working you’re training like crazy.”
I shrugged and turned back to the wall, not really sure how to respond to the truth like that.
“How else do you think she got that good?” Tenten defended, “It’s those who work the hardest at what they believe in that go the furthest.”
“But if you’re always working,” Temari countered, “And don’t make time for relaxation and rest your body will be over exerted. But it’s more than just that.”
I felt Temari behind me, she knelt down and wrapped her arms around my neck bringing me into a hug.
“I like hanging out with you Kaya,” She told me with a smile, “I rarely come to this village, and because of it rarely get to hang out with you, so obviously I don’t like the way you always push yourself.”
“Sorry.” I told the blonde looking over my shoulder at her, our noses practically touching, “It’s just something I’m used to.”
“Well get unused to it.” Temari scolded and stood back up, “Besides, I happen to know, under good authority, a certain red head who has the hots for you.”
I looked over my shoulder at her in disbelief.
“Oh my gosh!” Ino gasped, “Really, Gaara of all people like Kaya!?”
“Why is that such a surprise!?” Sakura snapped at the blonde in anger.
“Kaya’s always cold and serious, never showing interest in anyone.” Ino started, “And Gaara of all people, if stone cold and static had a face it would be him. It just doesn’t make sense to me.”
“Ever thought he just doesn’t like feminine women.” Sakura snapped.
I sighed softly to myself and dumped water on my head to get the shampoo out of my hair. They both had their points.
“Do you two really have to talk like she isn’t here!” Tenten all but screamed at the 2 of them, “She has feelings you know.”
“Oh, right. Sorry, Kaya.” Sakura said.
“Yeah, sorry. It was just surprising.” Ino added.
“It’s alright.” I told them, “But take what someone says with a grain of salt.” I added, “You don’t know what’s true until you go to the source.”
I then stood and made my way to the bath to join Temari.
“Does that mean you’re going to ask Gaara when we see him next?” Temari asked with a knowing smirk.
“No.” I said shortly, submerging myself in the hot water, “Kazekage-sama has every right to his privacy. Aside from that, even though you’re his sister, it may be incorrect, then I have projected assumptions onto him which may cause a rift between Konoha and Suna. Something I will not be responsible for.”
“Blindly loyal too.” Ino added quietly.
I rolled my eyes and sunk further into the water, I didn’t want to hear anything more from any of them about this.
I walked down the hall of the Hokage building and knocked on the door when I came to it. The Hokage had called me in today, apparently I had mission on a special request.
“Come in.” I heard from the other side.
I opened the door and stepped in, closing it behind me. I walked up to the desk and bowed.
“You wished to see me, Hokage-sama.” I said.
“Kaya, we’ve gone over this, repeatedly.” He told me with a little smile, “It’s just Kakashi, nothing more, nothing less. But that’s besides the point isn’t it.”
He paused and stared at me, “The Kazekage had requested this of you himself.”
I straightened up, waiting in anticipation to hear what was needed of me.
“He would like of you to spend the day with him.” I was told, my face dropped for a moment. Of all the things He wanted of me, the Kazekage of the sand wanted to spend a day with me of all people.
“At his request you are to address him Gaara, not Kazekage-sama, treating him as a friend from dawn until dusk. This is your mission, you do have the opportunity to refuse it.”
“The Kazekage of the sand had specifically requested me for this mission.” I stated, “I don’t know for what purpose and I don’t know why, but if I refuse a mission coming directly from him it could cause great tension between villages. I refuse to allow that happen on my watch. I accept.”
He nodded, “Then you will find Gaara waiting for you at the training grounds.”
“You are dismissed, Kaya.” The Hokage tole me.
I bowed and turned leaving the room, and closing the door behind me.
I stayed under the shade of the trees in the training grounds as I watched Naruto and Gaara spare a little.
“You’ve gotten better.” Gaara noted to the blonde.
“Yeah, I’m not going to let you be that far a head of me for long, Gaara.” Naruto told him.
“I expect nothing less.” The red head told him, “I’m sorry to cut this interaction short, Naruto, but-”
“I know, I know.” Naruto cut in, “You got things to do. Thanks for taking the time though. I’ll see ya’ later!” The blonde then took off running, most likely to Ichiraku’s.
The red head sighed as he watched his friend take off. I approached slowly from my position.
“Good morning, Gaara-sama.” I said as I came up beside him.
The red head turned to me in surprise, I had never used his name to address him since he became Kazekage.
“Good morning, Kaya.” He told me with a gentle smile, “I’m glad you accepted.”
“It’s not every day that I get a mission from a Kage of another village.” I informed him, “Though, I must say that I’m surprised about the details.”
“I couldn’t think of any other way to hang out with you as equals.” He told me, “Though, even that seems to not be 100% fool proof.”
“I’m sorry, Gaara-sama, but our titles still hold as they are. I’m afraid that’s the best I can do in terms of informalities.” I said to him.
His smile faded as I told him this but he nodded anyway, “Would you like to go for a walk with me?”
I nodded with a little smile, “I’d like that.”
Walking shoulder to shoulder we made our way out of the training grounds towards town, up and down the streets. We were just talking, catching up, letting little things off our chests.
“The rebuild had certainly gone well.” Gaara noted as we were walking down a back alley, “It’s almost like you can’t tell it was destroyed.”
I nodded, “Everyone pulled together, so the rebuild went very fast.”
“I’m sure you’re conflicted about your brother aswell.” He added.
I just shrugged before saying, “I suppose, you get used to these sorts of things.” I told him, “Being a shinobi, loss is almost a synonym. It’s unfortunate, but it’s just how things are.”
“I don’t believe you should lose anything ever again, Kaya.” Gaara told me, stopping and turning to face me. I did the same.
“That’s very kind of you, Gaara-sama.” I told him, “But I don’t think I have much else I could lose. My family. My village. The Hokage. I think the only thing I have left that’s of note is my life.”
“What about your friends?” He asked.
I looked up at him, he had grown to be about an inch or 2 taller than me. His face had matured quite a lot since he had first become Kazekage. His sea foam eyes were still unreadable to me not matter how hard I tried. His bright red hair was still messy, but considerably less than it had been before.
“I would die, before I let another person I hold dear die.” I all but hissed, “I lost too many in the war for me to be able to handle that again.”
My black eyes bore into him as I said that. I meant every singe word. I would never let that happen again.
The sounds of a stomach growl cut through my glare. I saw Gaara’s face become flush as the sound reached both of our ears.
I put my hand over my mouth to try to stop the giggle from coming out.
“Gaara-sama,” I said to him with a smile, “If you were getting hungry you should have told me.”
He said nothing, just looked away.
“Where do we want to go?” I asked him, “Ramen? Sushi? Bbq? Nabe? Curry? Sandwiches? Help me out here, I can’t read your mind.”
“What do you prefer?” He asked, still embarrassed.
“I know it’s spring, but I’m really feeling nabe.” I told him.
“Let’s get that then.” He said.
“Alright, I know the best restaurant too.” I said and started walking, him following, “My favorite pot that they have is the vegetable one. It always has beautiful seasonal vegetables in it, mushrooms, and both buckwheat and konjaku noodles in it. I personally like to get it in chicken broth rather than beef or vegetable, but we can get whichever you’d prefer. I’m just letting you know my experience, Gaara-sama.”
“It sounds delicious.” He told me, the embarrassment fleeing from his voice.
“It is.” I told him, “I just hope you’re a big eater.”
“Why’s that?” He asked in concern.
“I never really eat much.” I admitted, “Don’t get me wrong I eat until I’m full, but that just never seems to be as much as everyone else.”
“Whatever you don’t eat, I will.” Gaara assured me, “Especially if it’s as good as you say it is.”
Gaara sat next to me as we were perched on top of a cliff that overlooked the entire village. The sun was beginning to set and the entire landscape was bathed in a yellow-orange light.
We sat in a comfortable silence enjoying the view.
“So, tell me,” I said finally, breaking the silence, “Why did you really want to spend the day with me?”
The red head gave me the smallest ghost of a smile as he replied, “I don’t think you would believe me.” He told me in his deep, raspy voice.
I smiled, pulled my legs up from dangling over the edge of the cliff, brought my thighs up to my chest and turned to face him fully.
“Try me, Gaara-sama.” I urged him.
Gaara rose and dusted himself off before extending a hand to me, silently asking me to stand with him.
I took his pale hand in my tanned and scared one, allowing him to help me stand.
“I know you’ve never been the kind of person to cross boundries like this,” He started, not letting go of my hand as he spoke, “But a person like you, Kaya, only comes around once in a lifetime. A person who will do any and everything they can for what they believe in, to grow as powerful and as dedicated as you. Someone with that much passion and love in your heart, and strength that can’t be matched.”
“These are very kind words of you to say, Gaara-sama.” I said thinking he was done.
“Kaya,” Gaara started, some emotion I couldn’t place shadowing his eyes, “You have shown me love. And I have grown you love you back. I know we never had a romantic relationship to support me saying this. But I do love you, Kaya. And I want to wake up every morning to be loved by you, so I never forget how you make me feel.”
I could not believe what I was hearing, “Gaara-sama?” I asked slowly, not sure what he was getting at.
“Kaya,” He said slowly as he took a step back from me, let go of my hand, reached into his pocket for something, and he got it he knelt down on one knee before me.
One of my hands went over my mouth as I shook my head not wanting to believe this.
“Will you marry me?” He asked with such a beautiful smile on his face.
“This is wrong.” I managed out, trying not to cry.
“Do you not feel the same way?” Gaara asked, seeming hurt.
“It doesn’t matter how I feel!” I all but yelled at him.
Gaara rose very fast and all but glared down at me, “I’m asking you to tell me how you feel and you insist it’s wrong?”
“My feelings have nothing to do with it!” I insisted, “You are the Kazekage of the sand, you more than likely have hundreds if not thousands of much more suitable potential suitors than a Leaf shinobi!”
“Kaya.” Gaara barked at me, “I don’t care about any other girls that are out there, I want to be with you. I want you to know that. And as Kazekage I hereby order you to forget about titles and positions and what’s considered correct and what’s not for a minute and tell me what you feel right now, with me.”
I let out a small hiccup before answering, “I feel so unbelievably happy right not. I feel like I want to jump into your arms and kiss you and cry, and tell you I feel the same way. I feel so overwhelmed with emotions I almost can’t express them as well as I want to.” I wiped my eyes with the backs of my hands, not wanting to look him in the eye.
After a few seconds of silence between us, his pale, slender fingers hooked under my chin and made me look at him. His eyes were such a beautiful shade of blue in that moment, it made my knees go weak.
“Then do all of it, Kaya.” He told me and gently pressed his lips against mine.
The kiss was gentle his lips were soft and cool. I was so happy because I was finally able to express my emotions for him. I wrapped my arms around his neck, bringing him down closer to me. Gaara wrapped his arms around my waist and gently pulled me close to him not wanting to hurt me.
We pulled away for some air, we still held each other close. Gaara rested his forehead on mine after he pulled my headband down towards my neck. He bore his blue eyes into my black ones.
“So, will you marry me, Kaya?” He asked, almost desperately.
“I would love to, Gaara.” I said with a smile and pressed a light kiss onto his nose, “Because I love you.”
Gaara only smiled wide and pulled me closer.