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Bruised and Angry Heart, Please be Gentle

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“Sakura,” Gaara grunted.

“Gaara,” she whined, rocking into him,

He grunted again and thrust harder, arms pinning her down.

Sakura panted and whined and arched and tried to imagine telling anyone she had let Gaara fuck her on the Kazekage desk. She imagined Naruto’s expression of horrified shock if he knew how her breasts bounced and her skin glistened and her hands crumpled important papers, the Kage’s robes hiding her feet from view as they wrapped about Gaara’s hips. Sakura grabbed his shoulders, dug her fingers in and felt something like a smile curl her lips as she moaned. Gaara thrust, trembling against her and Sakura fell into the rhythm of pleasure.

“Stay with me,” Gaara bit into her skin, teeth scraping he throat.

“Gaara,” Sakura simply repeated, inhaling the scent of his sweat and sand.

Now was not the time to say no. Not as he was curled over her, fucking into her on his seat of power. Sakura knew better than to say no now. And yes was never an answer, was never a choice.

“You’re mine,” Gaara claimed, tongue flat against her throat and teal eyes tinged yellow.

“Yes,” Sakura groaned, because that much was true.

For now at least.

.--.

Despite how popular a weapon poison was, no one offered to let Sakura even look at theirs, until Kankuro came a-knocking.

The knife he gave her had created something between them, and there was a wry twist to his lips when he looked at her now. Though he never came when Gaara was nearby. He always waited until Gaara was embroiled in Kage duties.

“I don’t quite fear him,” Kankuro said one day while showing Sakura how to distill a poison out of a cactus, “But there is nothing but blood tying us together.”

“I never had siblings.”

“Probably for the better,” Kankuro laughed, breathing out a cloud of smoke that had Sakura waving her hand.

“Those are going to kill you one day,” Sakura said automatically.

“That’s what people say of being related to Gaara and Temari,” Kankuro wheezed, “At least this brings me comfort.”

She dropped it easily, having had little real concern, but listened closely as Kankuro started to show her how to coat a weapon in poison that made it stick inside of dripping off. Kankuro was easy to talk to, easy to learn from, and he listened to no one but his siblings so no one told him to stop their lessons.

And when Gaara arrived home after a long day and frowned Sakura merely swept him into a hug.

“I can smell him on you,” Gaara said, and he must be speaking of the cigarette smoke because Kankuro hasn’t even brushed up against her accidentally.

“He’s teaching me,” Sakura said simply, hugging him closer.

This is a weakness of Gaara’s; hugs. He liked the cloying pressure, the firm hold, the closeness. No matter what mood he seemed to be in, Sakura could fold him in an embrace and he would calm, would focus on nothing but her.

Sakura learned to use hugs as a weapon.

.--.

“You could run,” Hiromi whispered.

“I could,” Sakura said looking at her clipboard, “But I won’t.”

“Why do you…” she trailed off.

Sakura knew she wanted to say ‘allow it’ but thought better of it. They both knew Sakura has very little in the way of options such as allowing and not allowing.

“I could go home right now,” Sakura clicked her pen, “And no one would ever reprimand me, no black mark would ever go on my record. Tsunade would simply smile and put me to work.”

She made a note on the paper, looked at the patient on the bed who was in for a simple case of appendicitis. She could do his surgery in the dark with one hand tied behind her back and guarantee his survival. Before she had come, he would have had a 50% chance of survival.

“I am a shinobi,” Sakura said, hanging the clipboard back up and making for the door, “and this is my mission.”

“This was not in the mission requirements,” Hiromi said bitterly.

“No, but we adapt,” Sakura grinned behind her mask, “and we flourish.”

.--.

“For you.”

Sakura blinked, coming awake slowly. Exhaustion weighed every limb down and it took a moment to blink the sleep away.

“Hmm?” she asked, looking into dusky teal eyes. He really did have pretty eyes.

“For. You.” he repeated.

She looked at his offering. It was a tiny green cactus with a large pink flower blooming on it. The pot was painted red.

“It matches you,” he said.

Sakura sat up letting the sheet slide from her body. Gaara loomed over her, hands wrapped about the pot and watched the way the material slipped over her bared breasts.

“Thank you,” she said reaching out.

He handed her the pot and she twisted the cactus this way and that to look at the pokey little thing.

“Is it poisoned?” she asked.

He nodded, eyes still sweeping across her skin.

“Thank you,” she repeated.

She had no idea why he was giving her this gift but it was oddly…endearing. She knew the only hobby he had, if you could call it a hobby, was gardening cacti. And he’d found one that matched her coloring but was also poisonous and then given it to her in a pot painted the same color as her robes.

He suddenly took the pot out of her hands and set it down on the nightstand. Then he leaned over with a demanding kiss. Sakura allowed it easily, leaning back into her pillows. He followed her down to the bed and she reached up, working on the ties of his robes.

“What time is it?” she asked into his mouth.

“3am,” he said even as he nosed her skin.

The downsides of insomnia were that most people slept during the night. She wondered faintly as he climbed into her bed if he had been lonely. Probably. That was Gaara in one word; lonely.

.--.

“Wanna spar?” Kankuro asked one day.

Sakura blinked at him over her mountain of paperwork. He was lounging in a roll chair he’d stolen from reception and crammed in her tiny office. A pile of wood shavings lay on the floor from his idle whittling, a tiny puppet hands sitting in his gloved palm.

“Spar?” she asked.

“Yeah. I need to stretch,” he said.

Sakura considered it.

“Okay,” she said.

By the time they reached a training ground, all hard-packed sand and tall boulders, Gaara was waiting, arms folded over Kazekage robes. He said nothing as Kankuro gave him a respectful nod, only watched them step onto the field.

Sakura tucked her veil and sunglasses away but pulled out the googles she’d arrived in and strapped them on. Sand was everywhere, and one arch of a leg could throw it in her face.

“Rules?” Sakura asked.

“Meh, I think we’ll be okay without them,” Kankuro said, “But if you could try not to turn my puppets to dust that would be awesome.”

Sakura nodded and flexed her hands.

She had been doing work out routines every morning and evening, when the sun wasn’t high in the sky, to keep in shape, but she had yet to spar anyone here. Most people didn’t want to talk to the Konoha nin let alone fight her.

“Ready?” Kankuro asked.

“Come at me,” Sakura grinned, feral and tensed.

He did indeed come at her. She dodged the first blow, the second, and then redirected the next. She noted the needles that ran along his fingers and saw the sheen of his favorite poison.

The thing about Kankuro was that he was very, very skilled. If his brother hadn’t been a jinchuriki he would have been in the running for Kage and he had the strength to back it up. He was a master of the Puppet Troupe and THE leading knowledge in poisons after Chiyo. Kankuro liked his peace and quiet though, and she’d noticed that at home in Suna he was a quiet hooded figure with quick eyes but lazy posture.

On a real battlefield Sakura would not have liked her chances against Kankuro, even knowing some of his style and his poisons. But in a nice polite spar she could see the way he used his less deadly poisons, how he went with less deadly puppet traps.

Still, he was skilled and thus Sakura never even noticed the moment he switched out with a puppet; suddenly he was just exploding in spike traps, long deadly lances erupting from his chest to try and impale her.

She dodged by a hair’s width, a new long gash opening itself across her cheek. She burned the poison out with barely a thought, face smoking as the wound sealed shut. She stretched her senses but it was just her and the puppet to her. Kankuro was an excellent puppet master and a mark of that was that you never saw the puppet director. Its what made puppet masters so dangerous; while you thought you were fighting an ordinary man, suddenly they were riddled with traps and poisons and were entirely expendable. It was like fighting armed juggernauts.

If you didn’t find the puppet master you often died.

But this was just a spar and Sakura decided she might as well focus on the puppet.

It was all hot sun and burning sand and the sheen of poison on wood and steel as they danced. Sakura forgot about even Gaara as she twirled and leapt and tried to crush with her fist. It was…it was exhilarating. Sakura felt some of the tension seep out of her, leak from her shoulders and neck. The low level headache she’d had the entire time in Suna faded away with the adrenaline.

Sakura grinned as her blood pounded, as tension slipped away in a battle haze. Sakura, after she had learned how to channel all her temperament into her fists, after she had learned to let go of the idea of being a pretty and good girl, found joy in how battle made her blood sing. She was at home here, every sense sharpened on the idea of winning. Sakura wasn’t just about survival anymore, now she was a girl preoccupied with victory.

Which is why she carried so much tension these days. Suna was not a place you emerged victorious, especially not with Gaara at it’s shining helm. Suna was a place you survived. And maybe not even that.

Sakura brushed the thoughts away along with the sweat on her nose and flipped a pair of knives into her hands.

Sakura went for the puppet with a plan in mind, trying to get above it and realized she wouldn’t be able to gain the height she needed to come down on the puppet as it matched her leap. Just as she came to this conclusion a small disk of sand swirled to life. Sakura took the opportunity. Like stepping stones they appeared and Sakura ricocheted off of them, twisting to lunge at the puppet from above. She twisted around the spike that erupted from the top and came down on the thing like a rockfall.

She’d been watching the joints, watching how it clicked and clacked the whole battle. And now she came for those weak areas, her blade shining in the light as she butchered the puppet.

“Aw, come on,” Kankuro groaned as his puppet fell apart before his eyes.

He stood from the sand, a camouflage tarp slipping off of him, a minor genjutsu fading away. He really was very good at that. His shoulders slumped and Sakura straightened herself knowing the spar was over. Not that either of them were done, but she knew when an ending had been declared.

“Good match,” Sakura clasped a hand to her chest in a typical Konoha salute.

“Yeah, good match,” Kankuro echoed, a smile at his lips even as he looked over his puppet with a careful eye.

Sakura had tried not to damage it too much, aware of how much work he put into them.

“I don’t think I’d like to face you full out on your own home playing field,” Kankuro said thoughtfully, squinting up at her as she pushed her goggles.

“Right back at you,” she agreed.

“Sakura.”

Sakura had almost forgotten about Gaara, but he demanded her attention easily enough. She looked up to find him watching her intensely.

“Let’s go.”

She bobbed her head as he turned on his heel and strode off.

“Thank you, I really did enjoy the match,” Sakura told Kankuro.

Then she spun around and hurried after Gaara knowing he had little patience for dallying. She followed him all the way back to the Kage home and maybe the adrenaline from the fight was still thrumming in her veins because when he pushed her up against a wall Sakura laughed instead of shaking.

The battle had made more than just her hot-blooded and Gaara started his own battle with her, his teeth sharp and his hands merciless. Sakura laughed and pushed right back.

.--.