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18 September 2005 @ 09:37 am
Naruto fic: Diplomatic Relations, Part Three  
This is my personal favorite piece of fic in all that I've written in quite awhile; one of those chapters that writes itself without a struggle, and makes me all warm and happy inside. It's Lee+Gaara, part of the Diplomatic Relations continuity, but it can be read standalone. I hope you all like it ^_^

(On another note, I was out most of the weekend, so didn't have time to answer comments, but I will as soon as I finish posting this. Thanks hugely for all the reviews; I was able to finish that Freeport chapter - soon in the beta process - work on ANBU and move forward on this fic thanks to all the great encouragement)

Title: Diplomatic Relations
Author: Maldoror
Rating: PG13 for this part, for language.

Part Three: Sandstorm

"Desert have mercy. Desert have mercy," the old woman muttered again and again, stirring the fire fiercely. The wind screamed down the air vent and nearly killed the flame.

"Desert have mercy," the old woman muttered again, her eyes wide and bright with fear that Lee didn't understand.

It had been awesome and terrifying to see the entire desert rise up and hurl itself upon Sunagakure, a huge wall of yellow sand lashed by lightning and winds. But sandstorms like these occurred regularly according to Captain Sanada. Everybody had known this one was coming. Sand Shinobi could feel one creeping up on them, and Gaara could sense their approach several days ahead of time. The Kazekage had made sure all outlying patrols had been warned and were ready to fall back to the walls.

Fortunately somebody had remembered to warn Lee too; Captain Sanada had caught him just as he was about to leave for his daily jog around the village and canyons, and had dragged him into the safety of the garrison fort on the outskirts of the village. Considering the sudden furious speed with which the storm had arrived, Lee was rather thankful.

Protected by their thick stucco walls, Shinobi and a few civilian caretakers huddled around brazeros or sat at the tables in the corner and drank their strong desert coffee in silence. Lee was the only one near the window, trying to make out, through a gap in the shutters, the fascinating shifts of sand in the jaws of the storm. Everybody else stayed as far away from the doors and shuttered panes as possible. There was tension and some fear in the air.

"Desert have-" the old woman interrupted herself with a gasp and dragged her robe up to cover her face and open mouth.

Every Shinobi had felt it, including Lee. Something was stirring out there. Inside the perimeter of the village. A huge boil of chakra moving slowly in the maelstrom past their building.

Lee stared out the crack in the shuttered window, but he couldn't see further than a couple of feet. The sand hissed and rattled against the shutter as if it was trying to reach him.

"What the hell is that?" he said sharply. "Guys? Can you feel-"

The Shinobi around him turned away. They hunched over their tables or drew the veils of their helms over their faces.


The murmur seemed to have no source; it hung like a haze in the room full of tension and superstitious fear.

"Gaara of the Desert..."

Lee boggled at the men and women around him, then he marched towards the barred and bolted door. If that was Gaara out there, somebody should check it out and help him inside. If that wasn't Gaara out there, somebody should really check it out, because that was a hell of a lot of chakra. What was wrong with these people? He ignored the cut-off cry of one of the guards. All sound vanished to be replaced with the wild lament of the wind as he opened the door. He thought the old woman had screamed. He closed the door quickly behind him, arm raised to protect his eyes.

A dark shape was walking slowly up ahead. Lee could barely make it out through the lashings of wind and sand. He was surprised he could see anything at all, actually; maybe the storm was abating a bit.

Lee marched forth. The sand immediately invaded his clothes, mouth and nostrils, it scraped at every inch of bare skin it could find. Lee coughed and brought both arms up to defend his face. Up ahead, the figure stopped.

It was Gaara.

He was dressed in his usual black longcoat, whipping about his legs and ankles as it was lifted back by the storm. He had the gourd on his back and both arms at his side; he wasn't protecting his eyes, to Lee's amazement. Lee himself could barely see, his lashes already thick with grains.

"Gaa-" Lee coughed again.

He was downwind from the Kazekage now. Lee blinked and prudently lowered his arms, feeling a sudden change in the gale. The storm still raged, but it was curling and howling around Gaara like waves hitting a breaker.

Of course, it's sand, Lee reminded himself with self-directed exasperation. This was Gaara's element.

The roiling chakra in the air seemed a bit excessive for simply keeping the sand off of Gaara's face, though...

Lee blinked grit out of his eyes, slightly protected now by whatever force was surrounding Gaara. The Kazekage wasn't stopping the wind and sand. They beat against him in a brief, fierce battle. When they lost, they broke around him and curled and wailed, weaving around his shoulders and through his fingers in surrender.

Lee, who hadn't realized he had that much imagination, took a step closer.

Gaara slowly turned around. Lee stopped dead in his tracks.

This was the Old Gaara.

Lee recognized that small, cruel grin, the narrowed eyes with staring pinpoint pupils. They haunted some of his worst nightmares, the ones where he woke up sweating and with his left arm and leg aching.

The wind hissed and grasped at Gaara, ripping through his hair and touching his skin, but the sand did not cut him. Gaara blinked slowly, the basilisk stare moving away from Lee, who was standing very still. Gaara of the Desert lazily tilted his head back, eyes almost closed as if the howling wind was caressing his face like a lover.

Lee really hadn't thought he had this much imagination. But it wasn't his imagination that he was in some danger here. He had to be careful. Should he fall back a few paces to follow Gaara? Stay motionless until the Kazekage turned around? Or go up to Gaara and try to talk him out of the storm? No, that was stupid. He had no grasp of the situation. But he didn't feel like leaving Gaara-

A dark shape surged out of the sand from the direction of the garrison fort, grabbed Lee by the shoulders and dragged him back into the fury of the storm.

"Wha-" Lee got a mouthful of sand for his efforts. He noticed briefly that though the wind was stronger than in Gaara's leeway, he wasn't being pushed and prodded with the full force of the sandstorm, either. It was as if a hand of chakra still sheltered him and his guide a bit as they headed away.

One last glance behind him showed him that Gaara had turned around once more and had taken another slow step out into the storm.

Once in the leeway of the garrison fort, Lee, through eyes streaming with tears, recognized a bundled-up Kankuro from the puppet bound on his back. Gaara's brother dragged him towards the garrison door and hammered on it. When it didn't open, Kankuro kicked it and yelled a few curses and threats until it did. Then he shoved Lee inside. The Shinobi who'd opened the door slammed it behind them, locked and barred it, and then ran back to the thickest wall near the brazero, looking over his shoulder as if he could see his Kazekage slowly stalking by in the jaws of the storm.

"Lee," Kankuro panted, hands on his knees, voice layered with steely patience. "I know you're new around here, but please use whatever common sense you got? That was beyond dumb."

Kankuro was dressed in his usual getup, and Lee suddenly realized that suit covered every inch of Kankuro's body. He'd pulled the veils that hung to the side of his cat-eared hood across his face to protect that as well. Lee had never realized how practical the strange costume could be. Which, for an inhabitant of the desert, only made sense (though that didn't explain Temari's outfit, come to think of it). The one addition to Kankuro's usual costume were a pair of wide, thick leather goggles which the Sand Jounin now lifted from his eyes and stuck up on his forehead. A few other guards who were hanging around, staring at the two men, wore the same protection over their eyes.

"Good thing I was in the fort," Kankuro muttered. "And that those boneheads thought to warn me. Do you realize-"

"What is he doing out there?" Lee asked, though a part of him knew; a small, darker part of Lee he wasn't fully in touch with and which would have surprised most people to learn he even had.

Kankuro glanced around - glared, really, and a few of the less valorous guards decided they had duties elsewhere.

"He...likes to walk around in sandstorms," Kankuro muttered.

Then he turned towards the window next to the door, though now the full fury of the storm was back and the view through the gap in the shutters was once more counted in feet.

Kankuro spoke in a low tone as if he didn't want to hear his own words.

"He never sleeps. Never rests. He...it never lets go. And...things happened when he was younger. Bad things. Really, we're all lucky he's strong enough to suppress all this shit most days. But he's...not as...stable as he sometimes appears to be. He's constantly fighting against it. And on days like this, well, he likes to let go a bit. He goes out and plays."

From the way Kankuro said it, it wasn't a game anybody else would understand or want to participate in.

"Everybody's locked indoors anyway. So he walks through the storm, and...you know, cuts a bit loose. I...yeah, I guess he's not as stable as I- as we would want...he can be..." Kankuro's voice dropped to a whisper, "maybe people are right to be afraid of him..."

But he seemed to catch himself almost immediately and turned to glare at the others across the room. The old woman was huddled near her fire, her face still buried in her robe and only a pair of fearful black eyes peeking above it. As Lee watched her, she made an old, superstitious sign he'd seen before - sometimes he'd glimpsed it as it was discreetly directed at the Kazekage's back; an old warding gesture against demons.

"Bunch of numbnuts," Kankuro growled. "Gaara will defend this village with his life. He nearly died once for our asses already. That's the only way those Akatsuki bastards could have caught him two years ago. And even now." He glared fiercely at Lee. "There's things out in the desert, in the bad spots. Monsters. Just like your Forest of Death. Even worse. And they also come out to roam in sandstorms. That's one of the reasons why we have garrisons around the village, fully manned. No army or Shinobi could get through this, but we've still been attacked by some pretty scary things in the past, when the storm is at its worst. But not in the past few years. They don't reach Sunagakure any more."

But was that the Kazekage protecting his village, or was that just part of the game for Gaara of the Desert? Maybe both...Lee wondered if any senseless monster would come to Suna today, and fall victim to its defender's unleashed amusement.

Lee stared at the room around him, at Kankuro and the nervous guards, at the old woman, at the barren desert crashing like surf against the window outside, and thought of the single figure alone in that fury.

"May I please borrow these?" he asked politely, reaching for Kankuro's goggles.

"What- what do you think you're-" Kankuro stared as Lee fitted the eye protection over his head. They were scratched from the Sand, but still better than bleeding eyeballs.

"If there's dangerous animals or monsters out there, someone needs to watch his back."

"Watch his-" Kankuro gaped. "The whole desert is watching his back! He has eyes in every grain of sand in the air right now, and that's a fucking huge heap of sand! What do you think you can do?!"

"We won't know if I'm not there," Lee pointed out. "I am the military envoy to Sand, a representative of Konoha, and I have to stand for the Alliance between our villages. I am not going to leave the Kazekage to face danger without my backup. Thanks for the goggles-"

"You'll need more than goggles, mate," Kankuro said, staring at him bug-eyed.

"I'm not afraid."

Kankuro's gaping mouth closed, and the look he gave Lee was suddenly unreadable. "No, you're not, are you...but that's not what I meant," he added, briskly. "Here, take this too."

Kankuro marched over to one of the guards near the stairs to the second floor, grabbed the man and brazenly stripped him of his outerwear and veiled helm.

"The wind's gonna feel like sandpaper on your face. If you don't want to be red as a tomato for a week and in a lot of pain, you'll need to gear up properly."

"Thank you."

"Whatever," Kankuro muttered as he stuffed the helmet on Lee's head with a bit more force than was necessary. "Just don't get killed. I don't want to fight a war against you crazy Leaf guys again."

"Don't worry, I can defend myself. I practice in the Forest of Death daily and in worse places as well; I know what kind of dangerous animals you find there."

"That wasn't the sort of getting killed I meant." Kankuro grabbed Lee by the arm as the Leaf Shinobi headed towards the door. "Seriously, Lee. Don't get near him. He's very unpredictable in these sort of circumstances."

"I know," Lee said, and Kankuro must have seen the knowledge in Lee's serious face because the puppeteer dropped Lee's arm and looked at him with some surprise. "I'm not stupid, though I won't claim to know that much about what he's been through and what he needs now to fight it. I'll keep well back, but I won't leave him alone out there. It's just not right."

The scratched sand goggles were warping his vision, but he thought he saw Kankuro flinch briefly.

"Fine," Kankuro muttered. He marched back towards the guard and this time grabbed the poor, confused man's goggles. "I'm coming with you though."

Lee hesitated. He was quite aware that he was riding out on the power of blithe and happy ignorance here. Kankuro had grown up with Gaara, he'd seen him at his worst, he knew exactly what was out there today, and Lee knew that Kankuro was afraid.

"You don't have to-"

Kankuro was able to direct a remarkably fierce glare at Lee through the thick goggles he's slipped over his eyes. "Let's go. You don't know what's a safe distance, and he's my brother- anyway, I'm not gonna let you get yourself sandblasted and create a diplomatic incident. That slug-woman Tsunade would rip us all a new one-"

Lee ignored the growls and the vernacular that followed. 'He's my brother' was enough.

"Let's go then," he said happily.

"Just for the record, this is really dumb and I don't like you very much right now," Kankuro grumbled.

He was already unlocking and unbarring the door to the storm.

End of Part Three

Today, the weather on the other side of the mirror is: happy
the Antisocial Little Ice Queen: Berserk: Gatts is staring at Griffith'svaultedthewall on September 18th, 2005 04:55 pm (UTC)
Eeeeee, Lee

(And crazy!Gaara!)

I can't wait until part four! :D I've loved these so far!
Maldorormaldoror_gw on September 20th, 2005 12:31 pm (UTC)
Thanks ^_^ As I said in the intro, I might like the more serious and mature Kazekage, but I still have a tender spot in my twisted lil' heart for psycho Gaara of the Sand :P
Elizabeth Culmer, only a *little* bit crazy...edenfalling on September 18th, 2005 05:12 pm (UTC)
Now that you've written it, it seems perfectly obvious that Gaara would have a thing for sandstorms. And that there would be monsters in the desert. Pulling out the obvious things that nobody thinks of... that's a gift.

Also, I really, really like Kankuro here, with his grumbling and his fear and his snarly defensiveness of both himself and his brother. (Lee, as always, is just huggable. He will do the right thing if it kills him, no matter how objectively stupid it may be.)
Maldorormaldoror_gw on September 20th, 2005 12:20 pm (UTC)
Your description of Lee is spot-on ^_^ As for Kankuro, I've always liked hard-bitten realists, and I like his interaction with Gaara in the manga. I just had to include him.

I'm hoping to put in another sandstorm before the end, just to get Gaara to interact with them more; I find the idea of Gaara going nuts in a sandstorm like a cat on catnip too fun to let go that easily :P
kiyakotarikiyakotari on September 18th, 2005 05:24 pm (UTC)
**points** I agree heartily with everything edenfalling said - took the words right out of my mouth.

In addition...is it sad that, in my opinion, the sexiest part of this fic so far is a sandstorm? Or is that intentional? **drools all over Gaara**


<_< **wipes Gaara off** ^_^;; Sorry about that.
Maldorormaldoror_gw on September 20th, 2005 12:30 pm (UTC)
Lol, it's intentional. You know me from way back, mate, you know how weird I can be :P Part of the sexiness is Lee's interpretation, because since he's arrived in Sand, he's not yet seen Gaara so relaxed and sensual (and utterly up-the-tree psycho, but that's beside the point). Maybe towards the end of the fic, when the pairing is actually confirmed, we might have some more sandstorm shenaningans ^_^ I can almost see it; threesome, SandstormxGaaraxLee. My head is a very weird place these days....
This feather may look worthless...: gaara btchplzsilverkiiri on September 18th, 2005 05:25 pm (UTC)
::lovelovelove:: Oh, I want more. I am so greedy, but I love this fic so much! Gaara Gaara Gaara!! I'm mildly incoherent right now.
Maldorormaldoror_gw on September 20th, 2005 12:26 pm (UTC)
Glad you love it ^_^ Gaara's going to get more and more fleshed out in the coming chapters, and he's fascinating to write, lemme tell you. Bloody hard, but fascinating :P
(Deleted comment)
Maldorormaldoror_gw on September 21st, 2005 12:38 pm (UTC)
Thanks ^_^ More's coming (eventually)
Alisonsonnie_skies on September 18th, 2005 07:29 pm (UTC)
i am sooooo, unabashedly in love with this fic...i check to see when its updated like, all the time. so, lets make me happy (and about a ton of other people and update nice and soon.
Maldorormaldoror_gw on September 21st, 2005 12:37 pm (UTC)
Thanks ^_^ Now that I'm responsible for the happiness of tons of people, I'd better buckle down to that next chapter (which is being temperamental...) ;)
loreleilorelei76 on September 18th, 2005 07:39 pm (UTC)
yer a tease
I can't decide if it's because you're a truly brilliant writer who knows just when to cut off the story and leave us all hanging, or if it's because you are a sadist who likes to see us writhe and beg for more. I mean, obviously it's the former, mostly. But just to appease the latter...I cast myself at your feet and beg, nay, GROVEL for more.

Gah, who knew Lee could be so hot despite the eyebrows? Suddenly, orange legwarmers and green spandex gets me all worked up.
Maldorormaldoror_gw on September 21st, 2005 12:36 pm (UTC)
Re: yer a tease
Hmmm, I'd have to say...it's answer B! *cracks whip and laughs maniacally*

I'm a bit stuck on the next part, so it may not come out quite so quickly, but hopefully sometime next week ^_^
Emi: Jiraffe go BOOMthe_loud_monk on September 18th, 2005 07:45 pm (UTC)
When I saw this I was like "... OMG SHE UPDATED" and I immediately read this story and WOW. The sexiest part IS the sandstorm, and it makes so much sense that Gaara would go into to get his crazy high on. ^^-

I like that you made Kankurou go with Lee, because I expected it to be like a just Lee and Gaara thing, but then you added Kankurou to go with him and YAY! ^^-

"Just for the record, this is really dumb, and I don't like you very much right now," Kankuro grumbled.

I LOVE THIS QUOTE @o@ *saves it*
Maldorormaldoror_gw on September 20th, 2005 12:37 pm (UTC)
I love Kankuro, and his support of Kazekage!Gaara. In the manga, when Kankuro ran out into the desert after Deidara - I was squeeing like a fangirl. Same as when he asks Naruto to save his little brother. *Happy pur* He wasn't about to let Lee go out there alone!

There's going to be 3-4 more parts to this before we start getting even hints of yaoi, so I thought a little sensual sandstorm would help people wait ^_^ I'm weird, I know...
Dark: Smiledarksideofstorm on September 18th, 2005 08:18 pm (UTC)
"Bunch of numbnuts," Kankuro hissed

That just made me cry with laughter... perhaps not the best thing to do in a library, but never mind.

Loved the idea of Gaara cutting loose in a sandstorm, that guy is so tightly wound. I can see Sasuke and Kakashi doing similar things... actually, I imagine most Shinobi would...
Maldorormaldoror_gw on September 20th, 2005 12:34 pm (UTC)
I think most Shinobi have a place in time where they can cut loose. It's probably necessary for their mental health. And cheaper than therapy :P

Glad you liked it! Don't get kicked out of the library though ^_^
Jolicense_points on September 19th, 2005 01:19 am (UTC)
"huddled around brazeros"
what's a brazero? Is it like a brazier? the heater-things with coals in them?

Gaara is so cool, out playing in a sandstorm... (happy at the image) ^.^
Maldorormaldoror_gw on September 21st, 2005 12:34 pm (UTC)
Re: coool
Yeah, a brazero is another word for brazier, the open-aired heaters, except now that I think of it, the word is probably french ^^; Maybe I'll change it...

Glad you liked Gaara and his sandstorm :P

aozora23aozora23 on September 19th, 2005 04:11 am (UTC)
Just caught up, I missed a lot. I'm really enjoying this - very good!
Maldorormaldoror_gw on September 23rd, 2005 04:05 am (UTC)
Thanks, glad you're enjoying it! ^_^
kinsugikinsugi on September 19th, 2005 06:21 am (UTC)
...you crazy Leaf guys...
Whose fault is it that all sorts of kinky images arise, unbidden, at this phrase? *glares*

...curled and wailed, weaving around his shoulders and through his fingers as if surrendering...
Wonderful imagery, Gaara playing in the sandstorm.

...he's my brother...
Nice touch, Kankuro going out to protect Lee; and perhaps there will be unexpected ripples from this choice.
Maldorormaldoror_gw on September 21st, 2005 12:41 pm (UTC)
Whose fault is it that all sorts of kinky images arise, unbidden, at this phrase? *glares*

Not mine, I'm sure, I've not even written the first hints of a Naruto lemon yet :D

As I said in a previous response, I love the way Kankuro goes from fearing Gaara in the manga, to wanting to protect him. That's a complex but very rich transition, I had to pay it some homage :)
Illucienillucien on September 19th, 2005 03:07 pm (UTC)
Ah, you update pretty fast. I love all the ideas in your fics, their very interesting to read. I can't wait to see what happens! Lee's very dumb but cute. ^^
Maldorormaldoror_gw on September 23rd, 2005 04:04 am (UTC)
I like dumb but cute. That's why I keep my cat ^_~ These little snippets of fics are easy to write, so far, so I'm grinding them out pretty fast. Glad you like it!
cirquenayacirquenaya on September 19th, 2005 03:33 pm (UTC)
Oh. Wow. The crazy old woman, the monsters in the sand, Gaara being sexy in the sand, and Lee wanting to watch his back. It was all perfect. This story is making me so happy. All of it just works. I can't wait for the next installment.
Maldorormaldoror_gw on September 23rd, 2005 04:02 am (UTC)
Thanks, this story makes me happy too ^_^ Well, maybe not next chapter which turned around and bit me, but I'm getting it under control now, should be out this weekend...
Rieka De-Volkaranty_rie on July 23rd, 2007 01:06 am (UTC)
Lee's eagerness to make sure Gaara's alright is touching, and so is Kankuro's reluctant concern for his brother. I feel a lot of empathy to the poor puppeteer right now.

I do wonder if Lee will be able to face Gaara, all that is Gaara, and come out alive. I like how this Gaara is complete, what you mentioned in the previous chapter, how everything he's done was done consciously. I really hate fics that try to 'humanize' Gaara by blaming the One-Tail for everything 'bad' he's done.