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Now and Forever

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The line is drawn

The change is made

I come to you

I'm not afraid

  -- ‘Without Question’, Road to Eldorado soundtrack

 

            The silver haired boy stood panting as he desperately searched through his item list. He let out a curse when he realized he didn’t have any Rip Maen scrolls, revive rains or revive storms to bring back the blonde harvest cleric lying a few feet from him, let alone enough healing items left to heal the both of them. He now regretted not using those scrolls to learn the required spells; not that they’d do him any good now, his SP was too low.

            “En, please,” he pleaded at the now mutated blue haired blade brandier. “Come back to me.” For the briefest of moments, the tanuki blinked confusedly as if he were trying to shake off the haze one finds himself in upon first waking in the morning.

            He trembled, remembering that only a short few minutes ago, his usually clingy friend had been fine and Atoli was secretly driving him insane with her inane chatter. That was until an unexpected and undetected AIDA remnant had shown up in their area suddenly and before any of the epitaph users knew it, the black globules had latched themselves to Endrance, forcing his PC body to morph into some freakish blue furred tanuki like creature.

            Both Haseo and Atoli had tried to wear down the AIDA infected man without doing much harm to his pixilated body. That had proven to be mistake number two; the first being not bringing enough healing items amongst them since they hadn’t expected this to happen in such a low level area. Endrance had made short work of the blonde in mere seconds with just one swipe of his enormous clawed paw. Haseo had lasted longest and was almost completely out of HP.

            The mutated epitaph user leered at his prey, not a trace of the usual adoring and longing looks remained on his freakish face. The silver haired adept rogue shuddered as the tanuki like being’s tongue flicked out to lick his lips. “En, please,” he tried again, backing away only to find himself pressing against the blue force field that kept him from escaping the battle.

            The AIDA infected Endrance growled menacingly and made ready to pounce. ‘I’m gonna die,’ Haseo thought, resigning himself to his fate, ‘I’m really gonna die this time. I’m sorry Shino. It looks like you’ll have to look for Ovan on your own this time.’

            Having closed his eyes, not wishing to see his obviously gruesome computerized death when it came, Haseo missed the tiny blue orb popping out of nowhere. There was a brilliant flash of neon blue light and a boy with aqua blue hair and dressed in tattered red clothing floated in between the rogue and AIDA infected Endrance. The AI’s eyes narrowed in disgust at the monstrosity as he raised his right arm and pointed it at him.

            When no pain came, the adept rogue opened his crimson eyes and gasped in shock as Azure Kite’s arm glowed, the normally invisible bracelet shining ominously as the AI initiated the Data Drain. “Kite! Don’t!” Haseo begged, not wanting to lose another friend yet again.

            The aqua haired knight ignored the PC behind him and shot the black and purple ball that had gathered in his outstretched hand. The evil looking energy ball sailed through the artificial air and hit the tanuki monster straight in the chest.

            The AIDA infected blade brandier screamed in pain as the anti-viral program began reformatting his body’s data. Within the mere seconds it took, the tanuki like Endrance had vanished. In its place lay the now unconscious man he’d come to care for deeply. Haseo started to approach the AI and rip him a new one, but as usual, Azure Kite warped away before he could even get the first word out.

             A small groan at his side drew the silver haired boy’s attention to the slowly recovering blonde. “Atoli!” he cried, relieved that she hadn’t been sucked into a coma like Shino once had. “Thank goodness you’re ok!”

            “H-Haseo?” she asked groggily, “W-What happened? Is… Endrance-kun….” She couldn’t finish that sentence, seeing the prone figure mere feet away from them.

            “I don’t know,” Haseo muttered frowning in utter concern, “Kite was here, he…”

            “Oh dear!” the blonde harvest cleric cried. She rushed over to him and knelt beside the sky blue haired man. “Rip Maen!” she yelled, casting the revival spell. There was a pale blue glow and Haseo’splayer let out a breath of relief when the blade brandier’s HP gauge filled a tiny bit. That meant Endrance was all right. He hadn’t become a Lost One. “Ol Repth!” Atoli yelled again a few more times until the bar had completely filled.

            “H-Haseo?” the man groaned wearily in that rich velvety voice of his, struggling to get himself onto his feet again. “W-What was I… doing?” He frowned at the rather foggy memories of the past few minutes. He had the feeling that he’d done something to Haseo and Atoli, but just couldn’t remember what. By judging the looks of his other two party members, it couldn’t have been good.

            Surprising all of them, the silver haired boy latched himself onto the much taller PC, wrapping his arms firmly around his chest. “En, you came back!”

            Endrance stood silent, surprise and confusion on his otherwise adoring face. “I would always come back to you Haseo,” he said returning the embrace, still feeling guilty even if he had no memory of what had just happened.

            “I-I thought I lost you; like Alkaid, like… Shino,” the adept rogue found himself sniffling.

            “As long as you shall need me I will never leave your side,” he vowed, placing his chin on the shorter boy’s head.

            “I’ll… um… just… um… well, see you later, Haseo!” Atoli called as she began to discretely warp back into town, blushing profusely at the tender scene she’d just witnessed.

            “E-En,” Haseo murmured shyly, “I-I um… I’d like to meet you in the real world, if that’s okay with you. I… want to be able to really touch you this time; to know you’re really ok.”

            The sky blue haired man’s face lit up like it always did when ever Haseo would invite him on a quest or two. “I would love that Haseo. I would very much like to see your true loveliness with my own eyes and to hold you close as I possibly can as well.”

            The silver haired boy sputtered and blushed, so much so that the red markings below his eyes had completely vanished. “I-I’m not that special,” he muttered.

            “On the contrary my dear Haseo, your soul is the most beautiful I have had the pleasure of ever seeing.” Yet again, the poor boy felt the blood rush to his face, painting it an even deeper red. “When is it that you wish for us to meet?”

            Haseo blinked cutely before finally processing what had been asked of him. “Um… I’m usually really busy with work so, I’ll be hard to set up a definite date,” he said.

            Endrance gave him an understanding look. “I shall wait for eternity if it meant I would get to see you in the real world, Haseo.”

            Damn it! Why couldn’t he stop blushing?! Haseo coughed nervously as he felt his heart skip several beats for the umpteenth time that day. It was getting harder for him to play ‘The World’ with Endrance since the man’s flowery language had been affecting him more and more with each passing day they spent together.

            “How about if I contact you when I’m free? We can meet then.”

            “I shall wait with baited breath,” the sky blue haired blade brandier proclaimed, his eyes staring longingly at the silver haired boy.

            Haseo forced himself to look away, lest he be trapped by those deep crimson pools for eyes. “Um… it’s almost time for my shift. I’d better get going.”

            “Take care Haseo,” Endrance said, lovingly caressing the boy’s pale marked cheek before stepping away so he could warp out.

            “Y-You too En,” he murmured as the golden rings appeared and warped him from the area.

 

            Sakura Haruno took off the VR goggles she’d been wearing the past couple hours and logged off from ‘The World’. She could still feel the heat on her face and hear her racing heartbeat in her ears. “En,” she murmured dreamily, dropping the act she’d forced herself into whenever playing as her character. “I wonder if you’re really as wonderful as you seem to be.”

            If anyone had told her that she’d fall for some guy she’d met while playing an online game a few months ago, Konoha’s top medic would have beaten the fool to a bloody pulp. But Sakura was glad she had. Meeting Endrance had given her a reason not to think about Shino or ‘him’.

            It was that traitor Sasuke who had left her his PC data. She had guessed it was his way of apologizing for breaking her heart all those years ago. She’d been playing the popular game ever since; first as ‘Sora’, Sasuke’s character, then as the silver haired rogue when the original version of the game had been revised. It was the revision that had made her realize that the Uchiha boy was truly gone. It was as if the last link between him and her had finally been severed, that time beyond repair.

            Endrance had somewhat reminded her of Sasuke, that was what drew the kunoichi to the blade brandier. They both had the same cool, aloof manner, not to mention both were very easy on the eyes. Just being with him, worming her way into his tightly locked up heart had done wonders for her, especially with her friend in a coma. It gave her a reason to go on when all seemed lost.

With thoughts of the drop dead gorgeous man running through her head, the pink haired kunoichi headed to the shower to get ready for her shift at the Konohagakure hospital.

 

**************************************************************

 

            Sakura sighed heavily as she steadied herself against the wall. It had been a rather tiring day at the hospital with most of the patients complaining about or demanding things that were really nothing more than trivial. At least that was what she believed. And of course the visiting families had to add their own two cents as well.

            She loved her work, really. She loved being able to save lives. It was just that she couldn’t understand why people always had to protest the doctors’ methods. She knew them to be the best way to help the patients heal.

            However, her mind hadn’t been on her work lately. All she’d been able to think of was how her online friend Endrance had almost wound up in a hospital somewhere, just like her other friends had a few short months ago. She was relieved to see that he hadn’t, but just the thought of losing him scared her out of her pink haired mind. Every time she started thinking about what had happened that day, she would ask for extra work; anything to keep her mind occupied and from wandering to the sky blue haired man. Even if meant extra shifts as well, she didn’t care. Sakura just wanted to make sure she didn’t go where her mind wanted her to.

            ‘I’ll ask for a break tomorrow,’ the pink haired medic said to herself, pushing away from the clean white washed wall. Sakura would say that every day and night, but her workaholic nature never really got around to doing so. The fear of almost losing another friend to that damned AIDA menace being the main force for driving her so hard.

 

**************************************************************************

 

            The redheaded Kazekage leaned against the balcony wall of his office, staring at the night sky. He’d been there since sunset and none of his staff dared disturb him due to his unpredictable mood swings. What had made him remain in that place for so long was the open scroll that lay silently on his desk.

            He had received the missive around sunset and immediately had gotten annoyed at its contents. It wasn’t that he hated the current Hokage; he found the blond woman to be tolerable yet annoying at times. But he did admit she was a capable leader for her village. It was just that he had hoped it was a different kind of message.

            Ever since he’d agreed to meet the boy he had fallen for, while playing the online game Kankuro had forced him to play almost a year ago, in person, he had been on edge constantly expecting a message from him telling him where and when they could meet. Once again, his hopes had been dashed for no such message had yet to come during these past weeks.

            Gaara had slowly to begun to think that Haseo had changed his mind; that he no longer wanted to see him. Sure they would still play ‘The World’ together whenever they happened to be online at the same time, but when he would ask about meeting, the boy’s reply had always been ‘I’m still busy with work’ or ‘Not yet’ followed by an apology. He wondered if somehow Haseo had learned about who Endrance really was and that was the reason for his reluctance to meet. After all even his own people still feared him, though they were slowly beginning to warm up to their new leader.

            His thoughts went back to the scroll, teal eyes narrowing as his mind went over the Hokage’s message.

 

To Godaime Kazekage Gaara, greetings,

            I am well aware of how busy you are, so I’ll make this short as I can.

            I am requesting that you allow my apprentice, Sakura Haruno to spend a few weeks in Suna. She has been rather depressed lately and has been burying herself too much in her work at our hospital. I believe a vacation in Suna will do her some good. You could even use her skills as a medical ninja for the duration if you’d like, just don’t let her get too carried away. She has a habit of working herself to exhaustion.

            I will be sending her shortly after your reply should you allow this.

 

Respectfully yours,

Tsunade , Godaime Hokage, Konohagakure no Sato

 

            Just what he needed, he thought angrily. He would be playing babysitter to some simpering girl for a few weeks. That meant he’d have even less time to spend with Haseo. How wonderful.

            Oh yes, he could have refused Lady Tsunade’s request; he was Kazekage after all, but he knew that the council would dispute that decision. They’d insist he accept it and allow the girl to ‘vacation’ in their village. The Hokage had offered the girl’s services as a medical shinobi to sweeten the deal as well. The other reason he couldn’t refuse her request was that ever since Sunagakure’s involvement in the attack during the Chunin exams, relations between the two countries had been rather strained. If he did refuse, he’d be risking repercussions from the daimyo of Hi no Kuni that probably wouldn’t be favorable for him and his village.

            So here he was, staring at the countless stars in the chilly desert night, trying not to think of the silver haired boy.

 

*******************************************************************

 

            The next couple days later found Gaara in a much better mood. The one thing he’d been waiting for weeks on end had finally arrived. His teal eyes practically sparkled when he had finally realized what had been written on the scroll that currently was in his hands.

Temari had looked at him quizzically, but chose to ignore it, preferring to wait for her younger brother to explain. She gave a tiny smile of her own when her dark eyes noticed the redhead’s lips curled into the barest hint of happiness. “I’ll um… go check on the gate patrols,” the blonde said, giving her brother the privacy she knew he’d ask for.

            Gaara didn’t hear Temari as she rose from her seat and silently, as a shinobi should, left the Kazekage’s office; his mind was elsewhere at the moment. “At last,” he whispered, eager to finally see his most precious Haseo. He just hoped that the Haruno girl wouldn’t occupy all his time. If she did, then peace between Suna and Konoha be damned. He’d kill her if she got in his way of seeing the silver haired rogue.

            He smiled as his eyes devoured the note again.

 

            Hey En,

                        It’s me, Haseo. Sorry for being so busy with work lately. I’m being forced to take a vacation in Suna for a few weeks. I know you said you lived there, so send me a message or something and tell me where you’d like to hook up, ‘k?

 

            The usually calm and composed redhead practically yanked the drawer completely out of the desk as he opened it in a desperate search for a scroll to write on. Upon finding a blank one, he immediately began to write his reply; his hands shook with excitement and anticipation as he struggled to hold the brush steady.

 

**************************************************************

 

            Sakura leant against the tallest rock of the stone formation she’d come upon, grateful for the shade it provided from the merciless desert noonday sun. She was about to take a brief sip from her canteen when she heard a loud pop and a hastily sealed scroll appeared in her lap.

            Putting down the canteen, she eyed the scroll suspiciously for a few moments before deciding it was safe to open. Her emerald eyes shone as she realized what it had entailed.

 

My dearest Haseo,

            I am overjoyed you and I are finally able to meet in person. I shall count the seconds until you are here in Sunagakure with me. Though I fear our time will be much too short, for my own work has required that I spend time with another, I shall treasure each and every moment we are together. I shall await you at the rear entrance to the Kazekage’s tower at sunset once my work is finished for the day. Please do hurry, Haseo.

 

Eternally yours,

Endrance

 

            Sakura smiled, shaking her head. “That is so like you En,” she said chuckling at the blade brandier’s flowery language. She then reread the scroll, eyes furrowing in slight annoyance. “Definitely like you,” she muttered again, “You forgot to say which day. Don’t tell me you expect to wait there EVERY day until I do show up do you?  Shaking her head, the pink haired kunoichi took a sip from her previously discarded canteen.

            A few minutes later, she had searched through her pack and located a piece of paper and a pen. After scribbling her own reply she quickly performed a few hand signs, sending the note on its merry way.

 

***********************************************************************

 

            The Kazekage looked up from the pile of forms and letters upon hearing the sudden pop that reverberated through the silent office. His teal eyes widened in curiosity at the tiny piece of paper; he had half expected another scroll with yet another inane request. Picking it up, he glanced at it briefly. His eyes sparkled again upon seeing who it had come from.

 

Hey En,

            You forgot to say what day. Again. I don’t want you to wear yourself out again, so DON’T you dare waste time you can use for sleeping or eating waiting for someone who’s not going to show up. I’m about two days into the desert so it’ll be another two or three days before I get to Suna, we’ll meet then, ‘k?

 

            A low chuckle escaped his lips at his friend’s admonishing. “As you wish, Haseo,” he whispered, taking the boy’s words to heart. Ever since the adept rogue had started expressing concern for the taller man’s health and poor habits of taking care of himself, Gaara had slowly been adjusting his routine so he could properly feed himself and sleep. Surprisingly enough, he found that in spite of years of forced insomnia, it’d been relatively easy to fall asleep now that a certain demon had been forcibly extracted from him; though there were still many more nights he couldn’t than those he did.

            He glanced out the window and saw that it was now well past noon. “Soon, my love,” he whispered staring at the cloudless sky that was the same color of his PC’s hair. The next thing he realized was that he had skipped lunch yet again, for his body suddenly made its demands known with a rather loud rumbling. Blushing slightly, though there was no one to have heard it, the redhead gracefully rose from his seat and went in search of something to eat and perhaps even take a short nap; the sun was at its highest now and he did feel a tad hot.

 

*******************************************************************

 

            “Yes?” the Kazekage called at the soft hesitant knock at his office door.

            “K-Kazekage-sama,” his secretary fearfully said in a barely audible voice. A tiny smile appeared on his usually unreadable face. He didn’t mind the girl much, she was efficient and punctual as well as orderly, but he did wish she wouldn’t be so nervous around him all the time. It did however amuse him that the girl would blush every once in a while if he spoke to her in person. “T-There is a-a Sakura Haruno to s-see you,” she stammered fearing she’d disturbed him and was about to find herself in a sand coffin.

            “Aa,” he replied, “Send her in.”

            “H-Hai.”

            There was a short pause and moments later, the door swung open. He didn’t even bother looking up from the seemingly never ending pile of paperwork. “Hello, Gaara-san,” Sakura said cheerfully. “I’d thought I’d check in with you before, um, settling in. So, um, how are you? Any problems from…” she let the rest trail off, not wanting to bring the redhead any pain from the memories of what the Akatsukihad done.

            “I am fine,” he said as he signed yet another form. “If that is all…”

            “Look, I’m really sorry for all this. Honest. It’s just that well… you know how Tsunade-sama can get. I’ll make it up to you,” she said, shifting the weight on her feet nervously. She had heard that the once homicidal sand ninja had started to change after getting his ass handed to him by Naruto, but she still felt intimidated by him. He did try to kill her after all. “I’m a really good medic and well, if you don’t mind, I can help at your hospital while I’m here.”

            Gaara’s lips shifted into an imperceptible smile. He could see what the Hokage had meant. He nodded giving his assent. “But only as an advisor,” he warned, “Your Hokage has asked not to let you work yourself to death.”

            The pink haired kunoichi blushed profusely. “She would have to say that wouldn’t she?” she asked sheepishly. “T-Thank you anyway, Gaara-san. I’ll um… head over to the inn then.” Sakura turned to leave but paused when she heard the Kazekage call after her.

            “I’ll have Temari show you to your room,” he said coldly.

            She whirled around and stared at him puzzled. “Y-You don’t have to do that Gaara-san. I sure I can find the inn on my own.”

            “You will be staying at my residence,” he said in a tone that left no room whatsoever for objection. “Medics are valuable people here. You deserve no less.”

            Again the pink haired girl blushed, making her skin go red as her vest. “T-Thank you again, Gaara-san.”

            The redhead nodded then silently rose from his seat and opened the door. The secretary jumped, startled at the Kazekage’s sudden appearance. She gulped nervously when his teal eyes locked on hers. “Send for Temari,” was all he said before returning to his work. The poor girl breathed a sigh of relieve she didn’t even know she’d been holding. When she finally realized that she’d live for yet another day, Gaara’s secretary hurriedly passed on the message.

            A short while later, the four pigtailed blonde strode from the Kazekage’s tower and headed toward their home with a pink haired girl in tow.

 

************************************************************************

 

            Gaara stood before his closet, frowning in irritation as he tried to pick out something to wear for the meeting he’d been eagerly awaiting. He definitely thought his robes of office were not an option; he wanted to look his ultimate best for his beloved Haseo.

            “Got yourself a hot date, eh little bro?” Kankurou jibed as he watched his sibling stare intently at each piece of clothing.

            “Do you wish to die?” the shorter of the two asked coolly, not taking his eyes from the closet.

            The older brunet gulped noisily; when Gaara used that tone, he knew such threats were no laughing matter. “I-I’ll um… yeah… see ya Gaara!” Kankurou quickly dashed from the room fearing for his life if he’d stay.

            It was not until a few minutes later that the former jinchuuriki finally decided on an outfit. He’d passed on his usual blood red ankle length trench coat and padded vest and instead chose a skin tight black mesh T-shirt and a blood red tank to go over it. To complete the ensemble, Gaara had picked a pair of equally tight black leather pants that, Temari had once so eloquently put it, made him look like he’d spilled paint all over his legs. As for shoes, well all he had were the standard issue Suna ninja sandals so; he had to go with those.

            Glancing at the clock, he hurriedly eyed his reflection making sure that every crease in his snug fitting pants had been smoothed over and every hair was in its appropriate place. There was no way he was going to disappoint Haseo. His heart raced so rapidly, that Gaara swore it would burst from his chest at any second.

            Dashing to the mansion’s entrance, he slipped on his sandals in record time and with the speed rivaling that of a cheetah, arrived at the rear entrance of his tower mere seconds later.

 

******************************************************************

 

            Sakura checked her appearance in the full length mirror tucked in the corner of the Kazekage’s guest room. She smiled, satisfied that she had chosen wisely. The pink haired kunoichi had no idea what her online friend looked like in the real world so she had decided to just wear what she had worn that day – after a quick shower of course.

            ‘Good thing I bought duplicates,’ Sakura thought as she yet again went over her appearance for the umpteenth time. Hugging her rapidly developing chest was a copy of the red sleeveless vest she’d had on earlier; an extra pair of tight bike shorts accented her long shapely legs in all the right places and the pink slit skirt on top of them displayed just the right amount of flirtatiousness. Instead of her Konoha hitai-ate, her sakura colored hair was now held back by a simple blood red strip of cloth.

            ‘Looking good girlfriend!’ her inner self crowed smugly. ‘You’re gonna knock ‘im dead! Cha!’

            The pink haired girl had to agree. She always did think that was her best look. Tugging her short black gloves on, she winked at her reflection and excitedly hurried on her way to her date with the sky blue haired blade brandier.

 

*************************************************************************

 

            Gaara’s teal depths glued themselves once again to the street before him as he leant anxiously against the tower wall. Scant nanoseconds later, they quickly rose back to the clear blue sky when the one he awaited had yet to appear. He didn’t mind… much. The Kazekage had arrived earlier than he’d expected and was now glaring at the sky, silently ordering it to hurry up and let the brilliant fireball that was the sun sink below the desert horizon.

            As if it had finally had enough of the somewhat intimidating redhead, the sky suddenly took on a reddish orange hue, soothing purples and pinks danced here and there throughout the fiery sky.

            “Um…” came a shy female voice.

            Annoyed that he’d been disturbed, Gaara turned his head to glare at the fool who’d dare intrude upon his precious time with Haseo to see the Haruno girl standing a few feet away from the tower’s rear entrance. “What is it you want?” he asked, not bothering to hide his irritation.

            ‘Why is Gaara-san here?’ she wondered, ‘I-It can’t be!’ Sakura thought, unable to tear herself from the oh-so-delicious looking Kazekage. One almost could hear the wheels turning in her mind as she tried to work out why the redhead was at this particular place at this particular time. “E-Endrance?!” she ventured cautiously. It had to make sense. She did think his and Endrance’s voice were similar, though the blade brandier’s was friendlier. True, the player behind the PC could have altered their voice as she had while playing, but it was too eerie for her taste that they both had a rich velvety tone to their voices.

            The redhead’s teal eyes widened in shock; how did she know who he was online?! He continued to stare at the pink haired girl in confusion. It was clear that she was frightened now, probably remembering how, during his village’s and Orochimaru’s attack on Konohagakure, he had once tried to smother her with his sand. His usually hard teal orbs bore into her own emerald depths, searching for the silver haired rogue he had come to care for like no other.

            For what seemed to be an eternity of tense and pregnant silence, Gaara finally found what he had sought. Hidden within that sea of fearful green was the same passionate and feisty Haseo he had spent so many countless hours with. Gaara relaxed then with the grace of a cat stalking its prey, hurried over to her.

            Sakura, still certain she was about to meet her death, closed her eyes as she backed against a nearby building, not wishing to see the sand as it would surely envelop her and crush her to a shapeless bloody pulp. She most definitely hadn’t expected what happened next.

            The slightly taller redhead had snaked his arms around her waist and chest, crushing the pink haired kunoichi close to him as he possibly could. “Welcome, Haseo,” he purred into her ear as he laid his head upon the kunoichi’s shoulder, “my love.”

            Sakura hadn’t even realized she’d wrapped her own arms around the Kazekage’s neck on pure instinct. She fluttered her emerald eyes open and closed them again when she felt Gaara’s lips brush lightly against the pulse point of her neck. The pink haired girl couldn’t help give out a slight moan as a deft tongue glided across the soft fragrant skin and the redhead’s hungry mouth sucked gently, marking her as his. Sakura boldly brought one leg up and hooked it around his waist before shyly placing her lips on his.

 

*****************************************************************************

 

            “You’re being rude, you know that Kankurou,” the blonde said, appearing suddenly at her younger brother’s side. The brunet had been watching their redheaded sibling from a nearby roof for a while and had found he was unable to tear his eyes away as Gaara began to make out heavily with the pink haired kunoichi from Konohagakure.

            “We’re shinobi, Temari. It’s our job to spy,” he quipped still watching the couple fighting against blushing and obviously losing. “Besides, you were curious about Gaara’s date too or you wouldn’t be here.”

            “Be as that may, it’s still rude.” She quickly turned her head away at a rather loud moan from the girl below, blushing as well. “Now leave him be.” She then grabbed onto the puppet ninja’s arm and began to drag him from the roof.

            “H-Hey!” Kankurou started in protest, but once Temari had her mind made up, there was no stopping the oldest sand sibling.

 

**********************************************************************

 

            “E-G-Gaara,” Sakura moaned as the Kazekage’s hands began to wonder over her curvaceous form. “I-I’m sorry. F-For not telling you I was…”

            Gaara stopped what he was doing, placing a gentle hand on her lips to silence the leaf shinobi. “I already told you, Haseo… Sakura, that gender has nothing to do with this. I love you… deeply.”

            “Exactly, you told, ‘Haseo’,” she replied, remembering one of the many email responses he’d sent her after receiving an e-card. “NOT me.”

            “Sakura, does it really matter that much to you? I am Endrance and I am Sabaku no Gaara. To me they are one and the same, just as you and Haseo are.”

            The pink haired kunoichi stared at the Kazekage for almost an entire minute before speaking again, trying to straighten herself out. “It’s just that I wasn’t expecting it to be you,” she said sheepishly and turning her head to one side.

            Gaara gingerly cupped her cheek and turned her face back so they were eye to eye again. “Nor I you,” he murmured, feeling guilty for the less than loving thoughts he had of her earlier. “I should have known you were my precious Haseo when his’ arrival coincided together with yours.” He then kissed her to prevent any more doubt from escaping the kunoichi’s mouth.

            Sakura opened her rose colored lips, giving him better access. Within moments, the two were panting and moaning – mostly on Sakura’s part – as Gaara’s hands repeated their previously interrupted exploration. “My Haseo,” he purred as he went to mark her once more. “My precious cherry blossom fairy.”

            “En,” she moaned, “Aishiteru.”

 

****************************************************************************

 

            It had been a whirlwind for them the next two weeks, each one never wanting to be apart from the other for long. Sakura’s days were filled with the hustle and bustle of advising and helping the workers at Suna’s hospital. Gaara had on many occasions had to almost practically drag her away from them whenever he felt they were pushing his cherry blossom to hard – which was every day.

            The Kazekage had preferred the pink haired kunoichi to spend every moment with him, but both knew that both their work was quite important as well, so poor Gaara had to wait until it was almost sun set before fetching her.

            It was the nights he treasured the most, for once the sun disappeared from the sky, the feisty kunoichi was completely and totally his. He’d spend each and every moment catering to Saura’s every whim, which included a few romantic dinners and the occasional trip to ‘The World’. Poor Saku went ballistic when she had learned that her ‘Master En’ and the silver haired adept rogue were officially together. They had spent the whole time online trying to get Bo’s ‘sister’ to calm down while avoiding any further damage to Haseo’s HP due to the irate shadow warlock’s spells. That was to become one of their fondest memories.

            When it was time to retire for the night, the two lovers would spend the rest of the nighttime hours in the most passionate embrace any shinobi has ever seen. But what Gaara loved the most was the quiet moments he’d spend watching his beloved cherry blossom sleep.

            She looked so beautiful then, her usually neatly coifed pink tresses tussled and thrown about like a halo and her lovely face even more angelic as she peacefully slumbered at his side. How he wished to keep her there for all eternity, but the redheaded Kazekage knew that she would never leave her beloved forest for long. He knew delicate blooms could not last long in the desert. So he contented himself with what little time they had had left; there was no telling when they’d be able to see each other in this world again.

            “Gaara?” Sakura asked groggily as she rubbed the sleep from her emerald eyes.

            “Go back to sleep, love,” he whispered, placing a gentle kiss on her forehead. “You’ll need the energy for the trip back tomorrow.”

            The pink haired kunoichi frowned slightly. “So soon?” she asked again, not wishing her vacation had to end so soon. She could have stayed there in Suna forever if she were able, she was no longer the weak crybaby of a girl she’d been all those years ago. She was stronger now, especially after all the Akatsuki and Sasuke had put her through. Not to mention the online ordeal she’d only just survived a month or so ago. She was sure she wouldn’t wilt in the harsh desert heat, why couldn’t he see that? But then, there was the matter of Konohagakure. She’d always love the tall majestic trees surrounding the village. A part of her would never be truly able to part from her beloved forest.

            Gaara remained quiet for several moments, opting to hold his precious flower close to him as possible. Sakura sighed, taking comfort from her lover’s strong embrace. “I would have you remain here forever,” he said, startling her out of the slight doze she’d fallen into.

            The leaf shinobi blinked her verdant orbs, not sure she’d heard him correctly. ‘That sounds like a proposal to me,’ her inner self teased, ‘Way to go Sakura-chan! Cha!’ “Gaara…” she began, afraid that any words spoken now would make her wake to find that all that had happened the past two weeks to be nothing more than a dream.

            “I would never force you to leave your home, Sakura,” he said, the sadness in his teal depths belying the calm of his tone.

            “If only I were a Suna shinobi,” she muttered wistfully, “Then I’d really be all yours.”

            The barest hint of a small appeared on the redhead’s thin lips. “You already are, my love.” He then kissed her passionately, causing her to moan in need as his tongue plunged beyond her rose colored lips.

            As he proceeded to shower her with his love, a plan began to form in his mind – one that was certain to make both lovers eternally happy.

 

**********************************************************************

 

            “Well I’ll be,” the platinum blonde Hokage said chuckling as she went over the scroll that had suddenly appeared almost as soon as she sat down to begin the day’s work, “Took you two long enough.”

            “Tsunade-sama?” Shizune asked, curious as to what had her usually morning hating mistress chuckling so early. The black haired medic was dead sure she hid all the sake this time, so Tsunade didn’t appear to be drunk. Smiling, the Hokage handed her the scroll. Shizune’s eyes bugged out as she read.

 

To the Godaime Hokage, Lady Tsunade,

            I am requesting the transfer of your apprentice. Included are the necessary forms. Rest assured, no harm shall ever come to her for she will have the best protection Sunagakure has to offer.

 

With Respect,

Godaime  Kazekage, Sabaku no Gaara

 

            “What does this exactly mean, Tsunade-sama?” the younger woman asked, not knowing what to make of Gaara’s request.

            “It means we’ll be one medic short, and I’ll be out of the best apprentices I’ve ever had,” the Hokage replied, still smiling.

            “You’re going to allow that?! After all we’ve gone through with Orochimaru and the Akatsuki?! Did you get into the sake again Tsunade-sama?!”

            Tsunade let out a hearty laugh. “On the contrary, Shizune, I’m quite sober, no thanks to you.” She muttered the last part under her breath. “I am going to accept Gaara’s request,” she said, giving her assistant a cryptic smile, “It would seem they’ve finally stopped skirting around each other.”

            The brunette’s eyes bugged out again, realizing now just what lay hidden behind the Kazekage’s last sentence. “You mean…”

            “They finally hooked up,” the blonde said smugly. ‘And about time you stopped fighting yourself “Haseo”.’ Tsunade allowed herself to continue feeling smug for a bit longer, enjoying how flustered it had made Shizune.

            She had never told anyone about her ‘other guilty pleasure’. It wasn’t gambling, everyone knew about that. She’d never admit it to anyone, not in a million years, but the most respected and feared Hokage to date had become a bit of an online addict. No one would ever know that she’d go running around the virtual world in a skimpy red bikini like outfit while sporting long pink pigtails and glasses – and she’d kill any who did find out.

            Tsunade had started playing ‘The World’ on a drunken dare by an equally drunken Jiraiya. She had started with the intention of playing for a short few minutes with the intention of never playing again. However, that was almost a year ago, she’d yet to quit. Just before meeting a silver haired adept rogue, she’d been contacted by the game’s creators and made an honorary administrator, a job she rather enjoyed – though, of course, she wouldn’t admit to that either.

            Being ordered to ‘keep an eye’ on Haseo the blonde Hokage had hacked into the company’s database to get further info on the boy. She had gotten the shock of her life when she found that Haseo was none other than her own apprentice. Upon learning of his true identity, Tsunde made it her duty to make sure that no real harm would come to either the girl’s PC or real body, that and teased ‘Haseo’ to no end about the ‘boy’s’ growing attraction to Endrance.

            She’d been surprised to learn of the sky blue haired man’s identity as well, but said nothing – not because it was a violation of company policy to divulge such info but – because she had wanted to see where this budding relationship would lead. Gaara needed someone to care for, and her apprentice seemed to be perfect and more than up to the task.

            Tsunade remained quiet as she merrily went about filling out the forms before sending them back to Suna.

 

*************************************************************************

 

            Gaara didn’t have to look up to see who had entered his office. He would now and forever more recognize his beloved’s chakra signature anywhere.

            “Well, um…” Sakura began nervously, secretly wishing that she didn’t have to go, “I just wanted to say goodbye before I…”

            The Kazekage had gotten up and was now silencing her with a single finger under her chin. “Who says you’ll be going anywhere?” he asked with false evilness. Sakura had started to say something again, but Gaara’s intense eyes had her frozen. She’d gotten over her initial fear of him ever since she’d found out he was Endrance, it was the raging passion in those turquoise jewels that held her in place. Giving her a smug smirk, he held up a stack of papers before her face. Confused emeralds blinked a few times before widening in astonishment as they realized what they had been gazing upon. “Th-These are…!”

            The redhead continued to smirk. “Your transfer papers, you are now a citizen of Suna,” he said proudly.

            Sakura stared at the signature for several moments before finding her voice again. “Tsunade-sama really approved it?! I just can’t believe it!”

             “You doubt your own eyes?” he teased, cupping her cheek.

            “No, of course not…! It’s just that I wasn’t expecting this, that’s all.”

            Gaara smiled, pressing her against him. “No you weren’t,” he said, refusing to let her go. “You can still leave, if you want to,” he murmured, nuzzling her cherry scented locks.

            “You wrote to Tsunade-sama, didn’t you?” she lightly accused.

            “Hai, what if I did?”

            His cherry blossom smiled back. “Arigatou,” she whispered before wrapping her arms around his neck and pulling his head down into one of their more passionate kisses.

            “My cherry blossom fairy,” he murmured before resuming their tongue dueling.

 

~Fin~