Disclaimer: Naruto is owned by Masashi Kishimoto

Cover image: "Bonding Father and Daughter" by Purple23cutie on Deviantart. Used with permission.

Spoiler Warning : Contains spoilers for the 'Kazekage Rescue' arc

Author's note: This story takes place years after canon. The Naruto characters are grown up now and have children of their own. For the purpose of this story, I have Gaara married to Matsuri. If you do not like this pairing, please do not flame. You can replace Matsuri's name with who's ever you choose. Who he's married too doesn't matter, the story's about him and his daughter. I hope you enjoy it.

Gaara's Rei

Gaara wandered towards his daughter's bedroom, cracking the door open a tiny bit. " Rei? Are you alright?" Rei sat wrapped in her blankets, shivering. Masturi had said the girl was getting a bit of a fever, and had sent her to bed early. It was well after midnight now. Gaara paused in her doorway. Should he get water? Another blanket? What would help her sleep?

"I had a bad dream and I can't sleep, I'm too cold."

"Let me get your mother," he said, turning to leave. Hearing her whimper, he paused; peeking in again and watching her tiny form buried under the blankets. She clutched her stuffed animals in pale fingers. Gaara opened the door a little more and slipped into her room quietly; walking to her small bed and sitting on the edge of the quilt. "The sleep will make you feel better," he said quietly.

"I keep having bad dreams that bad guys are coming." She huddled under the blanket further. Gaara rubbed her back gently, "trying to get you?" he asked, referring back to a dream she had many nights ago.

"No," she whispered, huddling deeper, "trying to get you." She hid her face safely away so that he couldn't see her cry. For a moment Gaara just sat there, unsure of himself. This was his second child but his son, Isamu, was relatively easy to handle. Masturi made sure he was well taken care off. Gaara assisted in training his son as a shinobi as he grew to age, but even that position had recently fallen to Kankuro because the boy showed an impressive ability and interest in chakra control and the art of the puppet masters. But Rei? Small, delicate Rei. She was different, and a lot more difficult.

"There was a white bird, and a scary looking man." Rai mumbled from under the covers.

Gaara frowned. "What did this man do Rei?"

She squirmed and whimpered. "Hurt you and carry you away." She started crying softly. Gaara's frown deepened. He wasn't well practiced in helping children sleep, hardly ever doing so himself. "Rei it's. . ." his voice died off. Gaara pulled the bundle of blankets closer to himself, pulling the linen away until he could see her face. He very softly kissed her on the forehead. "I'm right here. There is nothing to worry about."

she raised her arms around his neck and lay her head on his chest, raising slightly and brushing sand from her cheek, then she shut her eyes. "Maybe if I don't sleep I won't have bad dreams."

"Yes, but you will never have good ones either." Gaara replied.

She paused and thought about it for a moment, then raised her head, staring up at him in the dark. "Do you have good dreams too?"

For the millionth time in his life, Gaara was once again amazed at the ability of children to ask a question that had nothing to do with the subject at hand, yet fully believing that it was important. "Sometimes," he said leaving it at that. He had made that mistake with his young son years ago, who caught him awake one night and assumed that if his father didn't need to sleep, neither did he.

"Can you tell me a story like Mommy does?" Rei asked.

"I can go get her."

"No I want you too."

Gaara frowned at her, she just stared back expectantly

"I'll help you," she said. "Once there was a. . . " She frowned in thought. "Very pretty girl."

"Is this girl you or your mother?" Gaara asked.

"No daddy! Don't be silly! She's a princess."

"But you. . . "

"No daddy, you're doing it wrong."

They ended up in a short staring contest, to which Rei finally looked away and buried her forehead in his clothing again.

"Alright Rei I'm sorry. Please keep going, I want to hear it."

"Alright."

The girl told a strange story about a princess who lived in a mountain, with lots of pets. It seemed this princess was kidnapped and a handsome samurai came and rescued her, bringing her back home to her parents. Gaara wasn't sure where she got such tales from, or why they seemed to calm her, but they did. So, he held her while she talked and watched her get sleepier and sleepier.

Soon after- wards, her eyes shut and her breathing stilled to the steady whisper that filled the streets at night; the sound that surrounded Gaara in the dark hours, but that he could never make himself join. Even without the Shukaku to fear. It had been ingrained in his heart and head that sleep was evil. That for him, it would bring nothing but danger and hurt. He knew what it felt like to be tired, and he could number a few times when he had dozed off, only to awake in fear of what might have happened while he slept. Nothing ever did anymore but still, fear was something that the Kazekage couldn't shake. A simple bedtime story with a happy ending wouldn't cut it for him.

So, for a while (most of the night actually,) he held his youngest child and watched her sleep. He might have dozed a few times, his body screaming at him to rest, but he was always very much aware of where he was and what was going on around him. The slight breeze from an open window downstairs, the way the air shifted from cool to hot, the sound of an owl somewhere across the desert, and the steady breathing of that precious existence in his arms.