Disclaimer: the characters in this fic such as Shukaku, Gaara, Matsuri, etc. don't belong to me, although if they did, then both Gaara and Matsuri will finally make a return appearance in the manga, but Shukaku will stay in the Akatsuki's statue.

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!

Special dedication to: Nymyrra, because our discussion inspired these drabbles, and Aideko, for her interest in this odd pairing.

Naruto: 20 Shrouded Trysts

(20 Truths About Shukaku x Matsuri)

By Tiger5913

Theme #1 – Initiation

Both demon and host take interest to the girl that steps away from the crowd to approach the fearsome ultimate weapon of the Sand.

Gaara is dumbstruck, and Shukaku is skeptical. He doesn't believe she has any noble intentions in the least bit; someone must have put her up to this, maybe threatened her into compliance. What the hell can this shy little runt do? When she fails at picking up the heavy club, Shukaku is quick to laugh at her feeble efforts.

Though he does silently admit that the pleading note in her voice is a little bit appealing…

Theme #2 – Secret

He knows the perfect time to strike. He knows when Gaara is exhausted and at his weakest point. He always makes sure no one is around to ruin his fun before he takes over the borrowed body to wreck havoc – that is, to a controlled extent. Discretion was never his strongest suit, but he has to conceal his wicked intentions so his host doesn't find out what happened during the mysterious blackout.

By chance one night, he stumbles across a certain skittish girl that seems to sense his strange behavior right away.

Shukaku grins wickedly while his golden eyes flash.

Theme #3 – Faith

There is a full moon hanging up in the sky, and many villagers have retired to their homes particularly early on this night. Matsuri has heard quite a few terrifying stories about what their beloved Kazekage used to do once a month, but she isn't quick to believe them. Unless she witnesses those events with her own eyes, her perception of Gaara won't change just based on wild tales.

When the bole-haired girl meets him on a certain night, the other side she has only seen once before, several years ago, her instinctual suspicions cause a reasonable amount of hesitation.

Theme #4 – Incognito

When they first encounter each other, his initial instinct is to threaten the girl to keep her mouth shut. But Shukaku holds his tongue, just barely, and in that moment of silence, he realizes she doesn't seem all too sure of her inexplicable suspicions.

Finally, Matsuri greets him in her usual manner, answering his question.

Now he has to play nice and beguile the girl to keep her in the dark. Of course, he knows she would notice the eyes, and so he keeps his gaze averted at all times. Not like there is anything that interesting to look at.

Theme #5 – Unveil

The startling revelation conflicts her mind with indecision.

Should she tell Gaara? How would he react to that knowledge? She certainly doesn't want to be the source of any distress for him. Maybe he already knows… but that seems unlikely. She remembers watching Gaara avidly struggling to suppress the demonic presence during his fight against Seimei. If he has had any difficulties since then, she wouldn't know. After she passed the Chunin Exam and he became the Kazekage, she hasn't seen her former sensei engaging in combat.

Nevertheless, Matsuri believes his will is strong enough to overpower the demon's control.

Theme #6 – Barrier

The demonic side only comes out during the night of a full moon… so if she just avoids him on that occasion, surely he won't pursue her. Right? There are far more interesting people to capture his attention.

But it pains Matsuri greatly to know that he is tormenting the other villagers with his wicked intentions and insatiable bloodlust.

There has to be a way to stop the demon without harming innocent people or alarming his brother and sister… It's possible she has the sole knowledge of his malignant presence, so she bears the responsibility of standing in his way.

Theme #7 – Challenge

She stands in his path, determined to confront him on this night.

"I… I know who you are. What you are."

Shukaku considers dismissing her claim and keep on pretending to act like his host, but continuing the farce is such a hassle.

"Hah," he scoffed, unfazed by the information. "You can't do a damn thing to stop me."

"I could tell him… and he'll make sure you never have control again."

Those words made his head snap up, and he glared coldly at Matsuri, snarling his reply, "Try it, little girl, and I'll kill you on my next raid."

Theme #8 – Opposition

To think, the scrawny little brat actually had the nerve to stand up to him!
She used to be shy and cowered at the sight of her own shadow, but then a short while back, she started to get bold – and it is obvious the credit goes to his host's loudmouth sister.

Well… it looks like Matsuri actually grew a backbone over the last couple of years. How refreshingly irritating.

But the sand demon isn't too irritated. At least it would make the challenge somewhat more interesting. There's little point in drawing fear from someone that spews it too easily.

Theme #9 – Deduction

The next time he surfaces, he immediately seeks her presence.

He finds her rather quickly, and a wicked grin creases his lips at hearing an audible gasp hitch in her throat.

Before she can recover from the initial shock, he asks casually, "So how the hell did you figure it out?"

After a moment of shuffling to find her voice, she replies, "You're… different."

That vague answer doesn't satisfy him – he demands to hear more.

"It's true… you don't act like him at all. I knew something was off from the beginning…"

The tailed beast releases a snort of disbelief.

Theme #10 – Vulgarity

She notices his vulgar language right away. It's quite startling to hear those kinds of words coming out of Gaara's mouth. The bewildered girl has to consciously remind herself that the demon is taking command and speaking.

"I hope you don't talk like that around any children," she chastises rather sternly during one of their earlier conversations.

"I don't deal with kids; they're fucking annoying." Shukaku grins when she frowns slightly. "And I've already got my hands full fighting with the brat."

"'The brat'?" Matsuri repeats.

His grin widens with predatory intent as he sneers, "Yeah. Your precious Lord Gaara."

Theme #11 – Utility

Matsuri has the privilege of knowing his true identity, so she must pay the price for possessing the secret.

She is only good for one thing, just like all other women.

He never kisses her or leaves any marks on her delicate body, but his hands are very active.

Her discomfort is obvious, and he has to restrain her during every encounter. Fortunately for the tailed beast, he has long since mastered his control over the sand, effectively negating her resistance. His abilities far exceed that of his host.

She struggles, but her consent is of little importance to him.

Theme #12 – Scapegoat

"Why won't you leave me alone?" Matsuri asks the tailed beast, her voice sounding almost pleading.

"Oh, you'd rather have me go out and hunt for new toys?" He taunts her, knowing how she would answer. Shukaku has long since figured out her intentions to distract him so he won't divert his attention elsewhere. Why not make the girl live up to her self-imposed obligations?

Fear enters her eyes at his proposal. "Don't hurt other people… Please… it'll ruin Lord Gaara's reputation…!"

"So keep your fucking mouth shut, or their blood will be on your hands."

He has trapped her.

Theme #13 – Susceptible

Gaara only utilizes his sand abilities for combat or mission purposes, but the tailed beast cleverly discovers another use.
With her arms and legs bound by the strength of the stiff grains, she can only move enough to increase his excitement. He licks a long path up her neck and she shivers – from pleasure or fear, he doesn't know. Not that it really matters. He isn't doing this to satisfy her needs.

Because of her pitiful feelings and pathetic consideration toward his host, the girl makes it pretty damn easy for the eager sand demon to take advantage of her.

Theme #14 – Suspicion

Even though he consciously tries to keep his thoughts away from the girl, his host is aware of his mild interest toward her. Since they share the same mind and body, it's rather difficult to separate their respective mentalities. They certainly can't sever the connection by any conventional means… only through death.

Don't concern yourself with Matsuri, comes the immediate command as Gaara attempts to strengthen his mental barrier.

Kya, you're not my fucking keeper, kid, the tailed beast retorts in reply with a condescending sneer. He could easily rile up the little brat with unpleasant images of the girl.

Theme #15 – Rationing

Her innocence dangles before him, tempting the sand demon to take it away. But he knows that if he pushes her that far, she will likely resist him to high hell, and when it's all over, she might spill her guts to someone she trusts.

It is such a pain in the ass to abide to all of these rigid restrictions when he would like nothing more than to completely unleash his desires, to cause destruction until his pores reeked of blood, to indulge his drinking habits to the point of passing out, and to fuck any and every woman.

Theme #16 – Persuasion

"Don't lie – you enjoy it," he accuses with a knowing smirk as the girl tries to shrink away from his touch.

Matsuri shakes her head vehemently, and irritation flickers within his golden eyes.

He will prove her wrong.

Every woman is different, but he knows from experience that most of them have the same pleasure points. He can tell from her rigid, tight muscles that she is fighting to resist his advances, and he wants to mock her fruitless efforts. She is so damn virginal that it's almost amusing.

Shukaku gloats at each gasp and tremble he elicits from her.

Theme #17 – Loyalty

Matsuri despises the way her body reacts to his touch. It's as if she is betraying Gaara.

But when Shukaku keeps his eyes closed, it is somewhat more difficult to distinguish the two. After all, he is using Gaara's body to seduce her. She is his prisoner, bound by the sand that remains deaf to her cries of protest. Her struggles are all in vain.

In particular, his accusations weaken her resistance. Has she really brought this onto herself? Would she abandon her morals to steal a taste of her deepest fantasies?

Numbly, the girl hangs her head in shame.

Theme #18 – Confusion

Why is he even wasting his thoughts on that meek girl? She doesn't mean a damn thing to him.

Why is he bothering to treat her with any notion of care as if he doesn't want her to break? All humans are pitifully feeble and easily replaceable.

Why does it piss him off to hear his host's name tumbling from her lips? The tailed beast knows damn well about her obvious affections.

Why does disappointment always flicker over her face after their eyes meet? Maybe she prefers boring turquoise rather than his unique shade of gold.

Not that he cares.

Theme #19 – Encore

The last time Shukaku sees her is during the full moon before the Akatsuki infiltration.

If he had known this would be their final encounter, he'd take her all the way. He has pursued her for so long that he didn't think about how it would end, if ever. What a shame, just as he is beginning to familiarize himself with her body. Her pert breasts are small and her ass is fairly flat, but he's not that picky.

All he needs is a female body to touch and grind against. That will satisfy his desires for the time being.

Theme #20 – Solitude

He left his host grudgingly, knowing it would be some time before he gained his freedom again – who knew what the hell those Akatsuki morons were planning? But maybe his next host would be easier to control, assuming they intended to use his powers for destructive purposes.

He didn't have any attachments to a single entity in the world, unlike all the people that would miss the red-haired ninja and maybe even blubber over his death.

When it came time for Shukaku to depart, he would always leave alone… and remain alone in the frigid darkness of his confining prison.

Bonus – Guilt

On the first full moon after the extraction, Gaara finds himself feeling compelled to perch upon the rooftop, as he has always done before.

He is accustomed to ascending alone, and starts in surprise to see Matsuri suddenly approaching him.

They sit together in silence for a while, and then she initiates small talk, as he expected of her.

A little ways into their conversation, she asks, "Um… is he… is he really gone, Lord Gaara?"

He looks up sharply. "Who?"

"The… spirit," she clarifies softly.

Gaara averts his eyes so she won't see the guilt lingering in them.


The End

Author's Note: The first story of 2009! :D Unfortunately, I have to go back to work and school on Monday, so that means less time for fanfiction. Sigh… Hell, I'll manage somehow, hehe. After all, I need to keep working on my multi-chapter GaaMatsu fic and get the first chapter out to you readers ASAP.

Oh, and by the way, the last bonus drabble is my way of assuring you readers that I haven't abandoned the GaaMatsu front – that is still my favorite couple, hands down. But I can't help feeling fascinated with the twisted third wheel that is Shukaku. If he hadn't been extracted, I really question whether or not Gaara and Matsuri can have a relationship. They might be able to, but I don't think it'd functional too well… Or can it last in spite of the circumstances? Hmm…

As always, my dear readers, please leave a review and let me know what you think of these 20 truths on Shukaku x Matsuri!

With love for my fans,