"Come on, Gaara, you have to practice it if you're ever going to meet someone who interests you! You can't stutter over saying it, or else the person you like won't think you're being serious!" Naruto scolds with a half-smile on his face. He wags his finger at his young 'Kage friend and enjoys the slight color rising to the redhead's face. It amuses Naruto when Gaara blushes; it is such a rare occurrence that it becomes an oddity savored by whoever succeeds in embarrassing him.
"But Naruto," the redhead growls lowly in frustration with his friend, "I don't have anyone that I 'like,' nor do I even comprehend all that surrounds something like a love confession." He sighs through his nose as he pinches the bridge between his eyes. "Why are we practicing this, again? Remind me."
Naruto had crossed his arms partway through Gaara's rant, and is not holding back the urge to roll his cobalt orbs. "Because it's good to be prepared. And because you need to learn how to interact with girls who're fond of you." He pauses to frown slightly. "Come to think of it, you already have a lot of admirers. I think it comes with being a young, debonair Kazekage." He flashes the redhead a grin. "Like that? I think it sounds cool."
"'Debonair' refers to suave men. I am not suave. At all," Gaara argues under his breath.
"But you're elegant, ne? In that regal-leader-sort-of-way," Naruto shrugs. "Anyway, we're getting off-topic. You need to try and say something nice, Gaara; something romantic, dattebayo! So come on, now; try it!"
"No. I've tried, and failed," Gaara states simply with a cross of his arms.
Meanwhile, Naruto is frantically flailing his arms about, trying to convince Gaara to finish what they started. "
Only because you used the wrong tone," the blond amends gently, "But I'm sure you can do it right this time. Just
think of something that makes you happy, and pretend you're confessing your love to it. For example: I can think of Ichiraku's specialty ramen, and by doing so, I can gladly profess how much I love it! So, you see: it's not so hard."
" the young 'Kage protests.
Naruto cocks his head slightly to his left. "Eh? What's wrong, 'ttebayo?"
There's nothing I can think of."
Gaara shakes his head.
You don't love anything?"
He glances downward. "No."
This isn't entirely true. Gaara loves his siblings
to an extent, but not enough to profess love whilst thinking of them. That would just be wrong.
Unfortunately, he can't explain this, at least not in terms that Naruto would immediately understand. So he goes on to say to the blond, "Perhaps if you gave me a better example, I could mimic it."
Naruto scratches the side of his head. "Hmm. I guess that could work. But I've never really practice it much myself
Heh, I suppose that makes me a bit of a hypocrite, dattebayo." He blows air out of his mouth. "Alright then: allow me to demonstrate."
If Naruto were half the pervert either of his mentors are, he would realize how severely out of context that sentence could be taken. Gaara tried not to express his own thoughts on such suggestive words; and damn it all if Kankurou's own corrupt ways aren't rubbing off on him.
Naruto clears his throat. Then, slowly, he turns his gaze to Gaara's aquamarine eyes and, ever so softly, says, "I've been meaning to tell you for a long while now, but I haven't been able to come up with the proper words. Still, I cannot deny my feelings for you: I love you."
Gaara freezes in place. He knows that Naruto is merely demonstrating a proper love confession; he knows this, and yet
And yet, he feels his whole body growing warm under Naruto's gaze, and his heart lurching forward in his chest towards his blond-haired friend. The redhead swallows hard, trying to wet his drying throat, because despite what his brain is telling him, his heart feels as though Naruto isn't acting. It feels as though Naruto is telling the truth.
Naruto smiles, immediately taken out of serious-mode, and gestures to Gaara as if to say, 'now you try!'
Licking his pale lips, Gaara adverts his eyes, casting them off to the side where a tree lies as he replies, "I also love you," and he hesitates, but then adds with a carefully placed glance at the blond's face, "With
all of my heart."
The blond thinks nothing of it. "That's wasn't half bad! You're getting the hang of this, Gaara! Great job." He slaps Gaara on the back in congratulations. "Out of curiosity, who or what were you thinking of when you said that?"
Who or what else could he possibly think of? After being told something like that in such a believable way, what else would cloud his mind? Obviously Naruto had been the sole thing on his mind when he said, 'I love you.' But
did that mean that it was the truth, previously unspoken, but now out in the open?
This thought makes Gaara nervous.
He shifted his weight from foot to foot. "I think we're done now, Naruto; that should be enough social practice for the day."
"But you didn't answer my question!" Naruto whines, and makes his best pouting facial expression in an attempt to woo Gaara into answering. "Come on, tell me, 'ttebayo! I promise I'll keep it a secret if it's something personal. Okay? Unless you want me to guess. Should I guess?"
That would work; Gaara can pick the fourth suggestion and claim it to be the truth, even though it actually won't be. Simple enough. "Fine. Guess if you wish to."
The kitsune smirks. "Awesome. I'm betting it was that old pupil of yours, that girl from your village
Matsuri, was it? I bet it was her you were thinking of!"
"No, not her," Gaara responds, seemingly nonchalant.
"Damn," Naruto sighs. He runs his hands through his hair. "It wasn't
someone from my village, was it?"
The Kazekage feels as though he is playing a game of twenty questions. "It was, in fact."
"Whoa, really?!" Naruto gasps. "But who do you know? Not
"No, it was not Haruno-san, either," Gaara replies with a would-be smile. Naruto will never guess, and that's the beauty of it.
Suddenly, Naruto's voice lowers a notch. "It's not
a boy, is it? Like Bushy Brows? Because I know that you fought him, and later saved him "
"No, Naruto, I was not thinking of Lee-san. However, if you must know, the person is male." He's not ashamed to say this; plenty of ninja are something other than heterosexual, if only because they bond with their teammates to such a degree that bisexuality or homosexuality occurs. Although this does not mean that many people are widely accepting of it least of all people of the Sand but it is not uncommon. However, the fact that Naruto had been able to guess as much has Gaara a tad worried; suppose Naruto guesses himself, what then? Will their friendship end? Gaara shudders at the thought.
Naruto is down to his fourth guess, and no matter what, Gaara has decided to reply, 'yes' to it. Unfortunately, Naruto isn't as slow as he looks; he's caught on.
"You probably weren't, but, uh, I have to check and make sure. So, um, I have to ask: was it me? Were you
thinking of me?" the blond stutters. His hands are twisting anxiously into the unzipped flap of his black and orange jacket.
Gaara is taken aback. Apparently, the redhead isn't as lucky as he had hoped; he's been found out. He tries to shake his head, but he finds his mouth betraying him by going with his original plan, which just so happens to be admitting the truth. "Yes."
And the redhead honestly expects a surprised sound being emitted from Naruto's mouth, or a fierce slap, or a fleeing action of some sort. Instead, Naruto is nodding.
"I thought so. I should've known better than to test you like that
Gaara jerks back into attention. "Test?" he questions with the narrowing of his eyes.
Naruto flushes and rubs the back of his head. "Uh, yeah
sorry. See, I was curious about how you felt about me, since you were so protective of me against Madara and his Moon's Eye Plan, and you always look at me and I've noticed that I'm the only one who can embarrass you on more than one occasion
so, I thought: maybe I should test him, dattebayo! And so I thought of this little strategy to get you to admit it." He sighs. "In retrospect, it's mischievous and cruel. So I really am sorry; my curiosity got the better of me."
Gaara is extremely tempted to punch Naruto in the nose. Extremely, extremely tempted. But he resists, because he wants to know one thing before he takes any type of action: "And why, may I ask, were you so curious about my sentiments towards you?"
The blond stares down at his sandals and kicks a bit at the dirt. "Er, well
"Spit it out, Naruto," Gaara grinds out.
"BecauseIkindofdevelopedacrushonyou,andIwashopingthatyoufeltthesame?" he supplies as an answer. The words come out in a hasty rush, causing them to blend together like some sort of verbal mosh pit.
But this doesn't hinder Gaara's understanding of said mosh pit. "You
" the redhead begins with a puzzled-yet-intrigued facial expression.
Naruto nods glumly. "Yes."
"So that's why
" he tries again, but cannot finish.
Gaara brings his hand to his chin in thought. "And all this time, we
"Pretty much," Naruto nod again.
"How foolish of us."
Naruto laughs weakly. "I thought so, too. Which is one of the reasons why I came up with this lame plan."
Gaara nearly smiles. Nearly. In place of a smile, he raises a hairless brow. "What now, then?"
Naruto raises his hands and lifts his shoulders, the perfect example of being confounded. "Shall we just say, 'fuck it and everyone else' and hold hands for the remainder of the day?"
Gaara steps up to his friend's side and nods once. "I wouldn't mind."
Grinning like a man who won Ninja of the Year, the kitsune laces his fingers with the redhead's and leans over to give the paler teen his first kiss on the cheek. "Neither would I, so let's."