Leo: Hey guys! Not quite sure what to say today…do any of you even read my author's notes? Lol, I wouldn't blame you if you didn't I'm pretty stupid. :P But anyway this chapter will be the start of a lot of romantic development between Gaara and Misaki. Warning: There's a lot of idiocy towards the end of this chapter…as there always seems to be in my stories. (Since that was voted the final pairing) SO. Disclaimer~!

Misaki: My creator is too reckless and irresponsible to own a multimillion dollar anime/manga such as Naruto. She owns neither the anime, manga, merchandise, characters nor the plot.

Leo: *sigh* I wish I did though…but anyway commencing story!

Misaki's POV

I laid down in my bed listening to the soft sounds of the window blowing outside my window. It was eerily quiet but that was to be expected at this hour. I glanced over at my alarm clock it flashed a bright red 12:20AM back at me. I groaned and rolled over annoyed at my restlessness.

But then again it was to be expected that I would be just a tad bit restless, after all I had discovered that the Akatsuki was going to be coming after my best friend sometime in the near future. Just the thought of Naruto's lifeless body made me shudder in fear and sadness. I didn't even want to think about the loneliness I would feel. Not only that but, my sort of kind of friend-ish important person, Gaara had literally DIED yesterday. Any normal person with a heart would be a bit spooked by the thought that someone they held in high regard could have died…and stayed like that.

That wasn't the only thing that was bothering me though. I was feeling inadequate. I wasn't good enough. Even after training for two and a half years in both my medical skills and my ninja skills I still felt like I was a world behind Naruto. He was so overwhelmingly strong and mature now. It felt like I would never be able to catch up to him. He was Naruto, probably going to be Hokage at this rate and I was little old Misaki. Not quite sure how far I wanted to go. I felt like watching Naruto go so far was smothering me and discouraging me. I needed to get away from it all.

I suppose this is what Sasuke felt like.

I gulped and sat up. This was too much to think over in one night. I needed fresh air. Bad.

I swung my legs out of the bed, and hopped out my bare feet quietly padding across the sandy slightly gritty floor. I snuck past Sakura's, Naruto's and Kakashi's room and down the stairs seeing the front door in sight. I tried my best to jiggle the doorknob as quietly as possible before slipping out into the blackness of the night.

Once I shut the door behind me I took a deep breathe of the cool Suna air and breathed out a sigh of relief. It was then that I realized that I should've at least brought my shoes so I could take a walk. I internally weighed my choices. Go back inside the hotel and risk one of the staff or my teammates questioning me about where I'm going or I could stick it out and just go barefoot.

Barefoot it is.

I wandered through the streets hands in the pockets of my shorts, in an attempt to keep them warm. I briefly took them out and rubbed my hands up and down on my arms desperately craving warmth. For a village in the desert Suna sure got cold at night. It was times like these that I missed my long hair but at this point I realized that long hair was a hassle and made it easier for you to be caught in a fight. I was better off without it.

I looked up absentmindedly scanning the skyline. My eyes landed on the Kazekage tower, it loomed over the rest of the building in the village. I grinned, I always did like heights; I might as well…

I trekked stealthily but quickly through the village coming to a stop behind the tower. I channeled the chakra to my feet and slowly scaled the wall. I vaulted over the ledge of the roof and rolled onto it lying flat on my back, taking a breather from all the climbing.

"Who's there." The voice came out of the shadows but it sounded more of a statement than a question. I sat up quickly scanning my surroundings. Don't tell me I've been caught already, but that was to be expected. This is the Kazekage tower and everyone was likely on high alert after having their Kazekage kidnapped a few days ago.

"...Ahem, it's Misaki…" I coughed awkwardly hoping if I was compliant enough they wouldn't tell Kakashi or make such a big deal out of the situation. The longer I thought about it the more I thought that it was a stupid idea to climb the Kazekage tower just for fun. What kind of idiot does that?

Oh wait, that's me.

"…What are you doing here?" It was after this that I realized who had been talking to me all along.

"Gaara?" I padded along the perimeter of the roof careful not to fall until I came across the familiar sand-filled gourd strapped to the back of the red head. "Oh. Hey there."

"…" He simply turned to look at me. I plopped down beside him nonchalantly.

"I was just feeling a bit stuffy in the hotel so I came out for a stroll." I lied smoothly.

"Drop the act. You're lying." I glanced at him out of the corner of my eye. The bastard hadn't even turned to look my way. Tch.

"I don't know what you're talking about." I growled out with as much fake enthusiasm and happiness as I could muster. Which wasn't much to be honest.

"I can see that you're not happy." Gaara said finally glancing out of the corner of his eyes my way, "Why?"

I sagged tiredly, after not seeing this guy for two and a half years you would think that he would be a bit reserved but no, still just as blunt as ever towards me ever since the Chuunin Exams. "…I don't know. I feel like there's something I need to do with myself." I confessed a heavy sigh following afterward.

"Like what?" he asked smoothly.

I puckered my lip in wonder, "Not quite sure myself. It's just…you see how strong Naruto is. Well, I guess you didn't since you were sort of…dead at the time but he almost singlehandedly beat Deidara to death. It was a bit scary actually but it was another testimony to his strength…Made me think, what do I want to do with myself? I want to improve too. I feel like there's nothing that sets me apart, like I haven't improved at all." I took a breath to calm myself; everything had just come rushing out. I was pretty nervous; I had never confessed those feelings to anyone but myself and even that was in private.

"…" Gaara was quiet, I looked down refused to meet him eyes embarrassed at everything I had just admitted to. "I remember the Chuunin Exams." He suddenly spoke.

"Huh?" I was caught off guard where was this coming from…?

"You were fighting that Kin girl. You were a pretty spectacular fight, I was sure the other girl would win in the beginning but you suddenly turned the tables on her. Then in the forest when you were helping Naruto stop me and caring for Uchiha Sasuke. Your ninjutsu has definitely improved since then." He spoke slowly and surely. I smiled reassured that I had made SOME progress in the past few years.

"You were also the one who created and administered the antidote for Kankuro, correct?" He asked. I cocked an eyebrow but nodded.

"…Thank you." He spoke, I beamed pleasantly surprised. The great Gaara, Kazekage of the Hidden Sand Village, was thanking me for saving his brother. It was truly an honor. Truthfully, I had forgotten all about saving Kankuro but I guess to Gaara it was a big deal. It was his only brother after all.

"It was no big deal. Just about the only thing I'm good for anyway." I snorted leaning back on my hands, a wave of self-pity suddenly sweeping over me. I've become pretty pathetic, huh?

"I wanted to ask you about that." His firm baritone voice spoke again.

I nodded, "Ask away."

"I'm offering you a proposition to come become a medical ninja for the Village of the Sand." My eyes widened to practically the size of saucers at his request.

"Y-you…" I gaped at him, "You have got to be joking."

He finally turned to face me head-on, "Not permanently, you could still go visit the Leaf whenever it's necessary. Suna needs someone to help them catch up in the medical department."

I managed to finally shut my agape jaw as I seriously thought about the offer. There was nothing that was stopping me. I know Tsunade would agree to my absence. She knew the medical staffs in Suna were a bit lacking in comparison to Konoha. Plus, it's not like she could really refuse the Sand asking for a measly medic nin from Konoha no matter how much emotional attachment we had to each other. We were in an alliance with Suna; it would look really bad if the Hokage wouldn't part with one ninja due to an emotional attachment. Preserving the peace was a top priority.

Next, I addressed my feelings. Was I really ready to leave Konoha? Sure, it would be hard leaving all my friends behind and I wasn't necessarily sure if a medical career was the path I wanted to go in but wasn't this what I had been looking for all along? I had been looking for a way to make myself feel more important, like I had a purpose. Maybe this was what I need, more than anything else.

"You know what?" I decided right there and then. "I'll take you up on that offer. I'll do it."

Gaara gave me a long hard stare before nodding, "Good. I'll send out a messenger hawk tomorrow morning. I assume that you're going to alert your teammates on your own?"

I blinked. Oh right. Telling the rest of Team Seven. This should be great. "Uh…yeah. I'll figure it out don't worry about it."

He nodded before turning to stare up at the night sky again. Briefly, a thought flitted through my head as I watched him. Since Shukaku had been removed, Gaara should be able to sleep by now.

"Hey, Gaara? No offense, but what are you doing up here?"

"This is my tower."

I narrowed my eyes, bastard. Treating me like I'm a third rate idiot. "You know what I meant."

"…I'm not used to sleeping yet. It feels peculiar knowing I can sleep safely, without Shukaku taking over." He confessed stonily.

I nodded; I could see the logic in that. After 16 years of barely ever sleeping there was reason to believe why sleeping would seem so weird to him now. It was then that I noticed the drop in temperature again. I shivered drawing my hands up to rub my arms vigorously trying to restore some feeling to them. I saw Gaara glance at me out of the corner. I blushed and turned away in embarrassment.

I felt a soft fabric settle over me a cloak draped softly over me. I glanced back to see the sand settling it over my shoulders securely.

"It gets cold in the desert at night. You're not even wearing shoes." Gaara commented. I attempted to give a nonchalant shrug through my embarrassment. There was a warm, tingly, slightly uncomfortable-but-in-a-good-way feeling in my chest and my face just so happened to be turning redder by the minute.

But that didn't mean anything. Nope. Nothing at all.

I hesitated before scooting a bit closer to lean my head on his shoulder. I ignored his burning gaze on my head and focused on relaxing. Gaara was warm and right now that's all I wanted to feel. I closed my eyes finding myself lightly dozing. The last thing I registered was the sand adjusting the cloak on my shoulders before I was out like a light.

I awoke to find myself lying back in my bed in the hotel, I furrowed my brow I was pretty sure I had fallen asleep on top of the Kazekage tower. I shrugged my shoulders, it was a pretty easy task for Gaara to use the sand and carry me home like that. I turned to my bedside table to see the cloak laying folded neatly on the table, reminding me that last night wasn't a dream.

And that meant Gaara's offer to me was real.

I gulped, today was the day that we were supposed to set off to Konoha; I would have to break the news to them today.

On cue, Naruto burst through my door, "Misaki! Get your lazy butt up. We're getting ready to go so hurry up."

I bit my lip, not even mad that Naruto hadn't even bothered to knock although I tell him that every time he storms into my room back in our apartment which would be empty once I left. Crap, this was not helping.

"Uh… Naruto I have something to tell you." I murmured, he had been about to walk up the door but he had turned back in my direction in interest.

"What's up?" He lightly leaned against the doorway, so relaxed and unsuspicious. I was really going to hate saying this.

"Um, I won't be coming home with you guys." I blurted out mentally smacking myself for how vague that sounded.

Naruto's brow furrowed in confusion, "Um, yeah you are. You kind of live in Konoha. What's that even supposed to mean?"

"Naruto." I tried again to explain it, "I'm not coming back to the Leaf. I'm staying in the Sand."

He didn't move for a few seconds as he processed that. "What the hell do you mean by that? Stop playing jokes, Misaki. Hurry up, let's go. We're gonna be late." Naruto quickly strode forward roughly pulling me off the bed by my wrist.

"Naruto I just told you I-"

"STOP MESSING AROUND!" Naruto barked effectively cutting me off. He lowered his head so that I couldn't see his eyes anymore but I had already gotten a glimpse. Loneliness. Hurt. Betrayal.

"Naruto! What are you yelling about now?"

"It's pretty loud in here so early in the morning." Kakashi and Sakura filed in. They abruptly stopped once they saw that both of us weren't speaking. Suddenly Naruto dropped my wrist and turned away.

"Let's go." Was all he said before he went down the hall disappearing from my sight. I sighed and plopped down on my bed, rubbing my wrist to soothe the probably bruised skin.

"What was that all about Misaki? What did you say to him?" Sakura confronted me; I could hear the angry tone in her voice. I scowled, legitimately shocked. Why was I suddenly the one to blame?

"You didn't even hear my side of the story yet. What are you snapping at me for?!" I snapped back, a bit irritated at her blaming tone.

"Well you obviously said something to upset him! You saw how he stormed out!"

"I didn't say anything to upset him! He went and got upset all on his own! It's not my fault!"

"Misaki." Kakashi spoke calmly effectively silencing us. I turned to glower at him instead. "Just tell us what's going on."

I took a calming breathe smoothing all the emotions out of my face, "I'm staying in the Sand."

"Wh-what?!" Sakura squawked. Kakashi's eye widened a fraction of an inch before he composed himself.

"Why?! Did you get permission?! What did Tsunade say?!" Sakura bombarded me with questions. I help up my hand for her to stop and let me speak.

"I'll be staying to train the medic nins in Suna. Gaara offered last night. We're waiting on Tsunade's response, until then I'll be residing in Suna. But I can safely assume that I will probably be staying considering that Suna and Konoha are in an alliance, one ninja shouldn't be too much to ask for. I think Tsunade will accept." I answered.

Kakashi and Sakura were quiet for a while before they nodded slowly absorbing the news, "I think maybe you should go talk to Naruto again."

"What? Why? All he's gonna do is yell at me again." I refused stubbornly.

Kakashi shrugged, and left the room Sakura slowly following after, "It's your own fault. If you change your mind then you can meet us at the gates. We're leaving in 15 minutes." Kakashi tossed a wave over his shoulder my way before shutting the door leaving me on my own.

I pulled my feet onto my bed folding myself into a little ball. "Baka Naruto. Stupid Kakashi making me feel bad. Why should I go talk to the jerk again? He even bruised my wrist. I didn't even do anything." I mumbled to myself.

My mind flicked back to the first moment I saw Naruto.

"Hey kid get back here! You'll pay for this!" I turned to see at least 12 ninja chasing a blonde boy through the streets of Konoha. The boy had on green goggles and as lugging a bucket of paint. He had whisker-like marks on his cheeks, a simple swirl t-shirt, and brown cargo pants.

"As if! Believe it!" The boy shouted running even faster.

BAM

The yellow-haired boy smacked into me knocking me to the ground, "Oh man! Sorry!" he said before picking himself up and continuing running away from the ninja. I looked back, puzzled and slightly irritated at the boy. I looked at the ninja coming my way; I nimbly rolled out of the way before they could trample me to death. I got up, pretty pissed off but deciding to ignore this incident.

"What an annoying village…" I tusked continuing on my way to the Hokage's Tower. "Whatever, It's not like I'll ever meet up with that guy again might as well let it go…"

I chuckled at the memory. Boy was I wrong; we had met up again and become almost inseparable. I had become his first friend when everyone else hated him. And he was my first friend when I was new and knew nobody else. There was also that time we passed the Academy exam…

"Iruka-sensei? Can we open our eyes now?" I whined.

"Yes!" Iruka replied. "Congratulations on graduating!" he held out two forehead protectors to us. "Let's celebrate! I'll buy you two one cup ramen each!"

Naruto immediately tackled Iruka, "Iruka-sensei!" he said excitedly. I joined the group hug laughing merrily.

I snorted now that I thought about it, there were a lot of memories I was leaving behind in Konoha. The dumb fights between me and Naruto about who got the last ramen cup, the parties, the BBQs with Team Asuma, school, missions, the Third's funeral, finding Tsunade, training with Jiraiya and Kakashi, even Sasuke. So many memories, both good and bad. I found tears springing to my eyes which I angrily wiped away.

Damn, they haven't even left and I'm missing them already.

I hopped out of my bed slipping my shoes on and quickly ran down the hall. At the very least I had to thank them for everything. There's so much I haven't said yet that I needed to thank them for.

I ran out of the front door of the hotel and down the street heading quickly for the front gates. I had about five minutes left. I sprinted full pace weaving swiftly between the civilians in the streets. I ignored the irritated yells at me to slow down and instead, increased my pace. I came to a stop panting at the front gates. I shoved past the crowd to the front. I cupped my hands around my mouth and took a deep breath, "NARUTO!"

He turned back to look at me in surprise, "Misaki…? I thought…"

"THANK YOU." I bowed deeply and straightened up, "Thank you for everything you've taught me in my time in Konoha. You showed me how to believe in myself when everyone else doubted me. You showed me that I do have the potential to become stronger and that I can be important to someone too. And…and…" I gulped my eyes prickling with tears, I felt a hot tear roll down my face but I didn't even care at this point, "thank you for being my friend. I really appreciate it. Thank you so much for everything."

At this point I was sobbing loudly and messily, desperately trying to wipe away my tears and stop them from flowing but I couldn't. "I'm so grateful to all of you; you've taught me so much. I'm sorry that I could be so cocky, and that I never know when enough is enough. I'm sorry for being such an insensitive jerk to Sakura and you sometimes. I'm sorry that I always gave Kakashi-sensei such a hard time for being late; I know he can't help it. I'm sorry for making fun of your hair behind your back, Neji. I'm sorry for thinking that Gai looked like a total idiot sometimes. I'm sorry for sometimes forgetting cleaning the bathroom on Fridays when it's my turn, and that I always end up losing your socks when I do the laundry, and that I lied about not knowing where the last ramen cup went, I'm sorry that I always stole money out of your wallet to go secretly buy the newest snacks that weren't even that good. I'm sorry about the time I sold your underwear to Konohamaru for 50 yen*! It was only because he was curious what kind of underwear you wear and I was short on money for that manga book I really wanted. I'm sorry that I filled your hair shampoo bottle with glue that one time and it took you 3 hours to wash out; I just wanted to get back you for eating the last granola bar, you knew I was saving it though so it was only fair. I'm sorry about-"

I stopped my rambling when I felt a bone crushing grip around me preventing me from rambling anymore.

"Baka! I'm not mad about any of that stuff I already knew about most of it anyway. You're a real idiot you know that!" Naruto cried comical rivers as he blubbered and insulted me at the same time. I hugged him back just as tightly.

"Baka Naruto. You shouldn't have yelled at me this morning, I'm gonna make you regret it the next time I see you, you bastard! Dammit, now you've got me crying, you damn idiot."

"You're the bigger idiot."

"No, you are. Baka."

"Am not!"

"Are too!"

Our crying fest had somehow turned into an insulting contest as we bickered with each other back and forth. The people around us sweat dropped at our idiotic display of friendship.

"BOTH OF YOU ARE IDIOTS!" Sakura yelled at us before knocking our heads into each other.

"OUCH! SAKURA THAT HURT. DAMN YOU!" I held my head in obvious

"WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING SAKURA-CHAN? ARE YOU CRAZY?!" Naruto yelled in annoyance. A vein popped in Sakura's head at the accusation. She punched Naruto in the head sending him sprawling to the ground.

"WATCH YOUR MOUTH, IDIOT!"

"Sakura, Naruto, I think it's time that we go now before you guys say anything else that embarrasses the rest of us." Kakashi sighed and face palmed at our combined idiocy when put together. But I couldn't blame him; I had said some pretty embarrassing things in front of this crowd. Gai was sobbing into the crack of his elbow obviously annoyed at being called 'stupid looking'. Neji looked slightly pissed and Tenten looked mildly amused.

"Hey, Gaara." Naruto said suddenly serious again. Gaara, who had been standing quietly in slight amusement, looked up to meet his eyes. Naruto held out his hand, "Promise me that you'll be able to handle an idiot like Misaki."

A vein pulsed in my forehead, "Who you calling an idiot, idiot?!"

Gaara just firmly shook Naruto's hand, giving a short nod and a small genuine smile. Naruto shot him a short grin before turning to face away from the gates of Suna.

"Alright! Then we're set to go! Let's move out!" He said marching away.

"Naruto!" I called out wanting to say one last thing. He turned back expectantly waiting to hear.

"…You better get stronger while I'm gone! If you don't than I'm really gonna kick your ass!" I smirked sinisterly at him.

"Humph, you better believe I will!" Naruto grinned determinedly before turning and running after the rest of the team who had begun their departure back to Konoha. "Same to you."

I nodded. I would definitely get stronger. I watched them until they turned to small specks in the distance and then disappeared beyond the horizon. I sighed and turned back to Gaara.

"Nice to be working with you, Kazekage-sama." I smiled shyly holding out my hand. He gave me a quaint smile and shook my hand firmly.

"Same to you."

Leo: Wow! That was a long chapter! But goodbyes are hard to write. I realized while I was writing this how stupid Naruto and Misaki can be. Especially Misaki. She can be a real idiot lol. But please read and review! :) Sorry for any spelling and grammar errors btw. I need a beta! Anybody want to do it?

*50 yen = about 50 cents. Yup. She's that stupid.