Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or any of its characters.

Chapter 29: Midnight Conversations

Over the next month, Kankuro continued to be her guide/company. Temari had long since finished with her interrogation of Shiho, but had opted for going on a string of missions rather than keep the blind medic company when she no longer truly needed it. That wasn't to say that they didn't get along. Somehow Temari's somewhat brash personality mixed well with the calmer demeanor of the Leaf girl. They held a mutual respect for one another and could converse well, but they weren't extremely close.

Kira and Kankuro's friendship was surprisingly coming along quite well. He reminded her of a less dense version of Naruto. He always tried to make her laugh, though the most he was able to get was a light upward twitch of the lips. He didn't follow her around every day anymore. Only on the days he was taking a break from training or was really bored. Even so, he would still walk with her to and from the hospital. Kira had a suspicion it was so he could see Yuri, the nurse at the reception desk. However, she didn't pry as it wasn't truly any of her business.

Every few days he would invite her over to join in family meals. These would be the only times she saw Gaara outside the Kazekage's office. He would be polite and conversations with him were usually concise and professional. This frequently earned an eye-roll from the two elder siblings. Kira, on the other hand, appreciated the Kazekage's professional attitude, as it helped to calm her nerves while in his presence. Her nerves had been quite fickle around the stoic man. They seemed to have her freeze up or have her tongue and stomach in knots. This confused her greatly. Normally, when she was nervous in the presence of a man, it was fear freezing her in place. This was a different feeling that she wasn't quite sure how to place. Nonetheless, Kira had grown use to interacting with each of the siblings to some degree.

However, over the course of that month, things weren't all that smooth. Especially in the hospital. Eleven more children had been emitted, all with poisoning and all with parents out on missions. The ages ranged from five to twelve years old.

Kira was only able to save ten of the children, the eleventh was too far gone for there to be anything that they could do for her. The mother had been distraught, taking her anger and grief out on the only one that she knew she could blame…Kira.

"Why!? I heard that you were able to cure this type of thing! Why didn't you save her? Mitsuko was only five! My little girl," The woman dropped into the seat behind her, her legs giving out on her. That didn't stop the power behind her accusing stare. Her next statement came out as a whisper, slowly getting louder as she went on, "You, you don't even look the least bit sorry. You lost my daughter! The least you could do was pretend like you care!"

Kankuro stepped up next to Kira, this being one of the days he shadowed her, and looked down at the mother, "You're going too far Hitsugaya-san. Sakurai-chan did all she could. She may not look it, but she isn't unaffected by this. I'm sure she's grieving in her own way-"

The glare that the woman sent the young puppet-master seemed to be powerful enough to burn a hole right through him, "Grieve? You think she's capable of knowing what I'm going through!? I just lost my daughter and you have the nerve to tell me that this, this, emotionless doll is grieving? How dare you!"

"Now hold on one sec- …Sakurai-chan?" Kankuro had glanced at her out of the corner of his eye and noticed that she had turned to walk away, leaving the mother to her sorrow. She had made it halfway down the hall by the time he was able to catch up to her, "Sakurai-chan?"

He made to grab her arm to stop her. The moment he touched her, her reaction was instantaneous. He was pinned to the wall that had been beside him by ice, the normally stoic girl's eyes widened in surprise, a solidary tear flowing down her cheek.

To say that he had a moment of déjà vu would be an understatement. He knew that look well. "Sakurai-chan, it's just me. I'm not going to hurt you, so just let me down, ne?"

Her eyes returned to normal as she melted the ice, returning it to her humidity sphere. Kankuro tried chuckling a bit to relieve the tension, "Sooo…what's going on? Why did you leave like that?"

Kira "looked" back down the way that they had come from, "She was wrong. I do know."

Kankuro's face contorted in confusion, "Know? Know what?"

Instead of coming up with an excuse or have her tongue betray her further, Kira instead shook her head, a light frown tugging at her lips.

Kankuro sighed lightly and nodded, "It's fine, you don't have to tell me. But you really should find someone to talk to. It helps when dealing with the emotional stuff that comes with losing someone. Take it from someone that knows." He gave her a light grin and patted her shoulder.

She stiffly nodded and continued her work for the day, the puppeteer trailing behind her as usual.

She couldn't sleep. Even her usual method of concentrating on a random person's steady heartbeat wouldn't allow her to drift into oblivion. Kira sighed lightly as she got up. Every so often there would be a night like this. One where sleep simply wouldn't come. When she was back in Konoha, she was able to focus on Deidara's heartbeat in the next room. When she was on a mission, it would be one of her teammates'. There was something about being near a trusted person that helped with the difficult nights.

Kira gathered her humidity sphere around her and went to the roof. Sometimes exhausting her mind by 'watching' the nightlife of Suna helped. The mother and child from earlier in the day filled her mind, causing her restlessness. I do know. At least, to some extent.

Kira was pulled from her thoughts by another presence that appeared on the rooftop, seemingly out of nowhere. She whirled around into a defensive crouch before his signature registered in her mind. Surprisingly, it was his voice that she recognized first and had her begin relaxing her posture.

"Sakurai-san, I am not here to harm you. I wasn't even aware that you were here. Forgive me for startling you."

Kira straightened from her crouch only to bow, "My apologies, Kazekage-sama. I should have been more aware of my surroundings."

Gaara waved his hand dismissively, "I transported here, so there was no way you would have been prepared for my sudden appearance. And please, you may drop the titles. I did not escape my office for a break just to be formal elsewhere."

Kira nodded slowly, "As you wish, Gaara-sama."

Gaara's lips twitched upwards, "Close enough I suppose. May I?" he asked, gesturing to the space next to her.

At her nodding consent, Gaara strode forward and took a seat on the edge of the rooftop and beckoned her to retake her seat. She complied and sat stiffly, her nerves turning her stomach into knots once again.

"I take it you are here because you cannot sleep?" at her confirming nod he continued, "I find this spot one of the most relaxing in the village. This is one of the highest buildings outside of the Kazekage tower itself. This allows me to oversee my precious people; to make sure all is well."

"Your precious people sir?"

Gaara nodded, "I'm sure you've heard the phrase from Uzumaki Naruto."

"I have. He would fight to the end for those he holds dear." There was a brief pause before Kira inclined her head in his direction, "If I may ask, who is it that you consider precious?"

Gaara looked away from the city a moment to glance at her before taking in the village again, "My siblings, of course. But all of Suna as well. It is my duty as Kazekage to treat everyone here as my precious people. To fight for them with everything that I have."

"Even those that still hold ill will towards you?" Kira asked before she realized she spoke aloud.

Gaara didn't seem phased at all by her question, "It is harder to forget a wrongdoing then to forget a kindness. I do not blame my people for not forgiving me for the sins I have committed against them. I once did horrible things. All I can do is protect them to the best of my abilities so that one day my people will know peace."

Kira felt her heart warm slightly in response to his short speech. He held such conviction and devotion for his people, it was admirable.

"Do you hold anyone precious, Sakurai-san?"

Kira paused a moment to contemplate her answer. It was no longer difficult for her to think of people that she would willingly protect. Many faces coming to mind, letting a ghost of a smile come and go on her features, "Hokage-sama, Shizune-san, Inoichi-san, Hinata-san, Shino-san, Kiba-san and Akamaru, Naruto-san, and Deidara-san. They are all precious to me. They did not leave me despite my nature or my aversion to certain people. They cared for me simply for me and have been patient."

"The aversion being toward men?"

Kira's head tilted slightly in question.

"It was a side note in the profile given by Tsunade-sama. She wanted to be sure you were comfortable and asked to have you in contact with more females if possible."

Kira nodded slowly. She wasn't surprised to find this out.

"If I may," Gaara asked slowly, "You are more disinclined to associate with men, and yet you hold many in high regard."

Kira faced forward and sighed softly, "They are the ones that have shown me that men aren't all monsters."

Having no response, an easy silence passed between the pair for a few minutes as they listened to the nocturnal sounds of the desert village.

"Kankuro told me about the incident at the hospital."

Kira remained silent, waiting for him to elaborate or ask a question.

"What did you mean when you said you know? I can make an educated guess, but I would prefer to hear it from you."

Kira bit her bottom lip lightly before shifting slightly to hug her knees, "Gaara-sama, what was your relationship like with your parents?"

The young Kazekage stiffened slightly from the unexpected question, but responded slowly. If he were to gain her trust, he must return it in kind to her as well.

"Mother died during my birth. Father…disliked me for various reasons. He tried to have me killed a number of times."

Kira nodded slightly and sighed, "My mother was a kind woman, but she died because of me possessing a kekkei genkai. She protected me." She paused to calm her racing heart, "My father…he blamed me for her death…he did…unkind things to me. This unkindness resulted in me conceiving a child, and also in me losing it. This happened twice. I lost both of my children without seeing their faces, without being allowed to even start loving them."

She felt his eyes on her as a single tear traced down her face, "I know what it's like to lose a life so closely entwined with your own. However, that woman was able to love her child and she saw her face as she grew. That is a pain that I suppose I cannot imagine."

She felt another tear fall as she swallowed the emotion, trying to conceal it behind a mask once more. Kira almost jumped when she felt his hand placed on her shoulder. But she had 'seen' him move, so she knew it was coming. Kira moved her head in his direction.

"I will make sure the one that is doing this is apprehended and tried for his crimes Sakurai-san. We will put a stop to these children being hurt. No mother should have to lose a child."

Kira felt a smile once more and sense of release overcome her. She felt so much more at ease then she had in a very long time. "Thank you, Gaara-sama."

His hand fell back to his side as he looked up at the moon, "Of course…Kira-san."

They sat in companionable silence for another hour before the steady beating of Gaara's heart lulled the blind kunoichi into a much needed sleep.

(Gaara's POV)

After an extended period of silence, Gaara felt a weight land on his shoulder. He was rather startled to find that the Leaf kunoichi had fallen asleep and had unwittingly lain her head there. The redhead felt his heart jump at an unusual rhythm and furrowed his brow. Strange. This only seemed to happen in the past few weeks when Kira was around.

He glanced down at her sleeping figure and studied her for a moment. The way the moonlight played across her features was fascinating. Her pale skin seemed to glow in the ethereal light, her blue-black hair catching the beams of light to create a starry night within her locks. And he knew that if she were awake, her eyes would look like the moon itself.

Gaara blinked rapidly to rid himself of such thoughts. If his sister had seen how poetic his mind had become, he was sure that she would never let him live it down. Temari was no longer afraid of his glares. She knew that he would never be able to hurt her now. A fact that was mildly inconvenient at times.

He internally sighed. Why was this woman making such foreign thoughts enter his mind? He supposed that he should ask his brother about this in the morning. It couldn't be healthy for his heart to beat so irregularly or for his mind to be distracted by poetical nonsense.

The young Kazekage shifted slightly in order to carry the slight woman without waking her. Once he had her cradled against his chest, his sand swirled about them only to dissipate after transporting them into her room.

He gently laid her on the bed and removed her sandals, moving to drape the blankets over her form. A quick glance told him that she was still fast asleep. However, his eyes focused on the single strand of hair that bisected her face. Drawn by an unknown force, his hand moved to brush the hair behind her ear. His fingers lingered and lightly traced back over her cheek.

Gaara's eyes widened as he quickly removed his hand. He stared at it for a moment, as if it would suddenly do something else without his consent. His eyes glanced once more at her peaceful form before his sand engulf him once more.

He really needed to talk to Kankuro in the morning.

Finally! Some romantic progress…however dense both parties may be . Tell me what you think and maybe give me some theories as to what you think is going to happen! I love seeing if I'm insanely predictable, or if this keeps people on their toes enough :D Please Read and Review!