Disclaimer: the characters in this fic such as Gaara, Matsuri, etc. don't belong to me, although if they did, then by the end of the series, they will be married and have a couple of children running around the Kazekage office.
Dedication: God, my parents, my fans, Masashi Kishimoto for creating the Naruto series and giving us these colorful characters, and especially to my beloved friends, especially Nymyrra, Zero-Nightmare, Kzdatgurl, Nakoudo Byakugan, PhoenixSong4232, GaaraXmatsuri, Musashi Sanada, T. A. Raskelt, narufangirl16, Francisco Devilman Warrior, and all of you wonderful readers!
Naruto: From Beginning To End
Installment: Set Alpha, Part 2
Before he dared to believe in love again, he had thought nothing could last forever… and every single day, she was there to assure him that he would never feel lonely again.
For as long as they were alive, he thought darkly. He sincerely doubted that love could transcend death. He almost wanted to be selfish just to keep her with him, but it wasn't his place to ask her to stop being a shinobi. Matsuri had made that choice by her own will, and her desire to fight was beneficial to the village.
His personal feelings could not interfere.
Matsuri whimpered in pain when she accidentally cut herself, and her boyfriend immediately went to her side, surprising the girl by covering the wound with his mouth, his warm tongue circling the injured area and sucking away the blood.
Her eyes widened in surprise at his action. This was certainly an unexpected method for treating a wound… Where had he learned to do this? And why not resort to more conventional means? She knew his knowledge of medical standards was limited, but… Surely he had a reason.
When she asked him, Gaara answered simply, "I wanted to ease your pain."
Gaara was adamantly devoted to his responsibilities and refused to stay home when he had fallen ill, so Matsuri remained in the office with him and compassionately tended to his needs.
"I don't want you to become ill," he remarked when she refused to leave.
She must have learned how to be stubborn from his sister, for she quickly countered with, "And what about all of the other people working in the building? I have to make sure they don't come into your office or they might get sick."
She had a valid point. The young Kazekage sighed in resignation.
She thought he didn't like to sing, but to her surprise, she strolled right by the closed bathroom door while he was taking a shower and managed to hear a pleasant tune drifting through the air.
Matsuri immediately stopped in her tracks and went back to listen as his unseen audience. He didn't utter any words, but the melody was soft, soothing, and pleasant, especially combined with his calm, deep voice. She closed her eyes and blocked out the noise of the running water.
All too soon, the singing ended, and the girl wondered when she could hear him again.
The night was peaceful yet stunning in natural beauty, she marveled silently, and appreciated why her boyfriend preferred this environment as her gaze scanned across the setting, finally focusing on the largest brilliant star.
She had no idea what the moon meant to him, but for her, it made the night brighter and appear less menacing. When she was a child, her parents had constantly warned her about the perilous dangers of the darkness. As such, Matsuri preferred the daytime much more.
But now, there was no reason to fear the night… not when she had Gaara by her side.
For the longest time, the sand wielder felt like he didn't belong anywhere, even in his own village, but now, there was a second place he could consider home, and all of the inhabitants welcomed him with warmth and love.
"What, are you living at her place now?" Kankuro jostled his younger brother after he spent yet another night away from home.
Gaara appeared mildly flustered, but before he could respond, Temari quickly came to his defense with a surefire distraction, "You sound jealous, Kankuro. Don't tell me you'd turn down a chance to have a sleepover with a girl."
"He can be a little clueless sometimes, but he means well," Temari quipped while letting out an amused laugh when she heard about the latest fumble her younger brother had made with his girlfriend.
Matsuri nodded, believing the blonde kunoichi. Clearly, Gaara had little to no understanding about the concept of romance, but she certainly would never berate him for his lack of knowledge. She knew he was conscious of his social blunders. In time, he would learn, and she was willing to be patient.
"Tell you what; I'll give him some advice next time, okay?" The older girl offered.
Despite his social inexperience, Gaara had known about her feelings toward him for quite some time, but he kept his distance because of the sand spirit's unnatural interest in her.
He was uncertain of the intentions Shukaku harbored toward her, but he truly doubted any of them were noble. Maybe the tailed beast was intrigued because she knew of his presence, and yet didn't show discomfort when being around Gaara.
Regardless of the reasons, the red-haired ninja was determined to keep her safe from the malicious spirit dwelling within him. He put the necessary distance between them for her safety.
It surprised Matsuri to find out that her boyfriend felt rather uncomfortable in the presence of thunderstorms, which she discovered on a diplomatic visit to the Land of Lightning.
Even more surprising was his reason behind it.
The weather itself didn't cause him too much distress, just the fact that lightning was unpredictable and rapid. If the bolts were ever to strike down at any of his important people, he might not react in time to protect them.
The brunette looked at him incredulously for a moment, but then quickly asserted that the chance of it happening was very low.
He learned the importance of forging and keeping bonds from Naruto Uzumaki, but Matsuri was the one that gave him the courage to believe in acceptance from other people.
Gaara was unsure of how difficult the process had been for Naruto, but the Sand villagers were not very forgiving. For the first several months after he had made the declaration to change, many people still openly scorned him. On several occasions, he wondered if it was worth his time and effort to try and alter what could not be changed.
Whenever he faltered, Matsuri was right there to encourage him.
His admirers were everywhere, Matsuri griped silently as she and Gaara carefully maneuvered through the crowded marketplace to avoid the screaming fangirls.
They called out his name like they owned him, and she turned toward them with a frown. She hated hearing the jeers against her, as if she was unworthy to be graced by his presence. No wonder he preferred staying out of the public eye when he wasn't working, if he had to deal with this kind of behavior on a frequent basis.
Finally, when the couple ran out of patience, they resorted to traveling in the sky.
She giggled lightly at the bewildered expression on his face and then patiently went through each explanation once again, showing him the various features of the laptop computer.
From the time she spent working at the Academy and helping the young students, she had the chance to figure out the mechanisms of a computer. Matsuri thought her boyfriend would benefit from learning how to use it, for personal and work purposes. Proper application would likely help him review documents and get paperwork done more quickly.
Once the redhead heard that, he seemed more enthusiastic about absorbing all the new information.
It was hard to think up a gift for someone that essentially had every material item he needed, and finally, she decided to make one by hand, knowing he would appreciate that gesture the most.
Matsuri remembered seeing a certain torn and battered stuffed animal hidden in his closet before… She didn't know why it had been stowed away so furtively, but figured the item was important to Gaara.
She obtained a few instructional guides and sewed a teddy bear together to give to him.
He seemed startled at first glance, but then accepted it with a thoughtful, intense gaze.
Because of his serious demeanor, Gaara rarely smiled, finding few reasons to do so in the first place, but then he found himself doing that just a little more often around his girlfriend – her jubilance was influential.
He didn't understand conventional humor, but presumed that an appropriate response was a smile whenever his brother told jokes. Temari and Matsuri would either laugh or groan depending on how funny the puppeteer was being, while the redhead only gave facial reactions. The brunette noticed this aspect after repeated instances and immediately began plotting.
Now her next goal was to make him laugh.
Even though she was a shinobi, the bole-haired girl had remarkable optimism and faith in a world tainted by evil, and he wondered how she could possibly retain so much innocence after everything she witnessed.
She still believed people were decent by nature, that it was uncommon to come across someone who would take advantage of others. Rather than criticize her for having such a naïve perception of the world, he asked the trusting kunoichi about her mindset.
"If everybody thought the worst about each other, then we'd never be able to trust anyone," she answered with a sad smile.
Matsuri was orphaned at a young age, and being stifled by loneliness made her yearn to be part of a family again; nothing made her feel more complete than being around Gaara and his siblings.
She shyly mentioned this to Temari one day, and the blonde kunoichi laughed while replying, "Hey, you'll be my sister when you marry Gaara."
The brunette blinked in surprise at the notion as a deep blush slowly began to spread over her fair cheeks. Was marriage even a possibility in her boyfriend's mind…? She really didn't know, since they had never discussed the subject before…
"Temari said cloud-gazing is peaceful," Matsuri offered with a sweet smile, and he nodded to show he could consider the notion, never mind the fact that clouds were a rare sight in the dusty, windy desert.
At present, the redhead glanced up to see the sky covered by hazy dust that was swirling around due to momentum of the wind. His girlfriend's gaze quickly followed suit. It was a bit strange to think his sister would have this kind of suggestion, but she likely picked up that habit from the genius shinobi of the Leaf Village she used to date.
Like everyone else in the village, Matsuri had her gaze intently fixed on the dark night sky as the young Kazekage fought to protect his people from the dark-robed stranger that invaded their sanctuary.
She could feel frustration emanating from the grounded shinobi, for surely they all wanted to help their leader fend off the enemy. Unfortunately, none of them had aerial capabilities, and they would just be getting in the way if any arrows were fired.
For the time being, everyone had to be patient and hope for the best.
The brunette clasped her hands together in visible concern.
She believed in the spiritual world, and wondered if he had experienced the surreal realm of the afterlife during his brief death, for surely his selfless actions would have sent him to a heavenly place… not that she would ever ask him such a question.
Matsuri still found it hard to believe that he had actually died… In her eyes, Gaara was strong and confident, practically infallible. Ironically, his generosity had led to his downfall.
But his selfless concern had not gone unnoticed. Another sacrifice brought him back to life… a second chance so rare and almost impossible to obtain.
Initially, Gaara was reluctant to get involved with the girl and possibly corrupt her, for if he ever dragged her down into the bleak abyss, then guilt would haunt him eternally, but her persistence finally quelled his pessimistic worries.
"You're not evil," she assured him for what seemed to be the hundredth time. "I know you wouldn't hurt me… I trust you."
Her words touched him, in spite of his doubts. Darkly, he wondered if she would still say that after finding out everything he had done in the past… He hoped in this instance, history would never repeat itself.
After living in the desert so long, the heat hardly bothered him anymore, especially when he saw what his girlfriend wore on a particularly hot day – he convinced her to stay indoors until night fell.
Not that he would let her go out with those clothes. He himself could barely tear his gaze away from the sight of her bare skin as she casually walked around the house, apparently oblivious to his staring.
Forcing his attention over to a different subject, Gaara focused on reading the book, despite the fact that his line of vision discreetly kept trying to revert.
Looking at the moon gave the sand wielder mixed feelings – guilt because he used to lose control to Shukaku on the night of a full moon, but also relief that he would never have to endure the overpowering experience again… he didn't have to fear hurting her.
No matter the circumstances, he intended to use his powers only for virtuous purposes. He would fight for the people in his village, and to protect everyone that was important to him.
His sins could not be forgotten, but would remain in the past for all eternity, where they belonged, never to resurface.
With a few simple waves of his hand, countless grains of sand rose to his command, and she tensed her body in anticipation of an incoming attack; she had told him not to go easy on her, and she was determined to prove her worthiness.
A wave of sand slammed right into her body and carried her through the air, crushing her petite form against a rock wall.
Matsuri saw him tense up visibly… until he realized he had only struck a clone.
Starting slightly, the sand wielder turned around just in time to see her attack coming from behind.
Matsuri loved everything about him, from his dark red hair to his unique tattoo to his somber attitude, and she couldn't help wondering why he would want to be with such a plain girl like her.
There was no doubt in her mind that he loved her, but really, he could be with any girl of his choice, especially considering the number of willing admirers he had.
Then again, they were rather vindictive and nasty-tempered… She recalled the afternoon when one of them approached her with bitter, jealous words.
Fortunately, Gaara had shown up and ordered the girl to leave.
Despite assurances from his brother and sister, Gaara still wasn't completely sure how she would react to his question, but he definitely did not expect to reel back from the explosive volume of her excited, passionate response.
They told Temari first, and she was ecstatic, but then immediately asked when they were going to make her an aunt, which caused the young couple look at each other with widened eyes.
"So I'm getting another sister, huh?" Kankuro sighed dramatically when he heard the news and feigned disappointment at the prospect, but he quickly grinned to show he was only kidding.
End of Set Alpha
Bonus: Steam, 100 words, Gaara x Matsuri – dedicated to Mooncatcher
By the time she awoke, he was always gone. She understood his reasons for leaving so prominently. Gaara was an early riser, and he preferred being first in the office.
Still, Matsuri mused one morning while taking a shower, it would be nice if he took just a few seconds to say good-bye. But she debated whether or not to tell him that. It wasn't necessary…
Sighing wistfully, she turned off the water and pulled back the curtain to step out, when she suddenly noticed a message written in the steam on the mirror.
"Join me for lunch at noon."
End of Installment
Author's Note: Oh, school and work seem very determined to keep me away from writing. Sigh… Well, and also role-playing, to an extent, hehe. But I kind of want to cut back on that so I can have more time to work on fanfiction. I know I'm way long overdue for putting up the first chapter of my multi-chapter GaaMatsu story, but I'm actually still developing ideas, so please be patient with me while I keep working on those. For now, please just enjoy these drabbles, and I'd love it if you readers could leave a review and tell me your thoughts.
By the way, if any of you readers would be interested in joining a LiveJournal role-playing community with mature content as its premise, please send me a PM! I'm specifically looking for a Matsuri to play with…
With love for my fans,