Gaara isn’t often called in to deal with matters from the Engineering Department. Except for approving or vetoing certain village-sized projects, he doesn’t have much to do with them outside of paperwork.
Certainly not in person. Not anymore.
After the first incident–in which he was called in at three in the morning and all he did was stand around looking imposing as two engineers yelled, fought, cried on each other, then came to an agreement in the span of two hours. True, that first incident led to the village’s first successful hydroponics program, and later aquaponics program, but not as a result of anything Gaara himself did–he’s learned to use proxies since then.
But the young engineer standing in front of him looks like he won’t accept a proxy or no for an answer. Even if he’s nervously curling into himself.
Gaara doesn’t take offense. If he’s remembering correctly, this is one of the recent genin graduates. The one who had been slated for the Puppet Corps until Kankurou found out that he’d rather make puppets than fight with them, and so had shunted him into Engineering where he’d be happier surrounded by machines than people.
“Fukiya, correct?” Gaara asks, smiling to himself when the genin straightens at his name.
“Yes, Kazekage-sama!” Fukiya says, bows low, straightens back up, all in one enthusiastic movement.
“And you’re sure this isn’t just Yokume and Gosan arguing again?” He asks, just to confirm. He’s already standing away from his desk, gesturing for Fukiya to lead the way. Jinzo only raises his eyebrows instead of squinting angrily, so Gaara knows he’s not scheduled for anything else at the moment.
“Not this time, Kazekage-sama,” Fukiya says, sounding far less nervous the deeper into the building they go. The Engineering Department is underground. Deep underground.
“Was Baki unavailable?” It’s not that Gaara is trying to get out of it–he likes being involved in his village–but this is an unusual situation.
“We already called Baki-sama, Kazekage-sama, and he’s actually there now. But he said to go get you, Kazekage-sama.”
An unusual situation indeed.
They come to a stop outside a set of massive double doors. Fukiya glances around, looks sheepish when he catches Gaara’s eye, then enters a series of numbers into the keypad. A much smaller door opens up for them to enter through.
The first thing Gaara sees is Baki’s face, smirking. Then is Yokume and Gosan, eagerly shouting upwards. When he follows their line of sight, he sees a massive orb made of metal and glass…
… and what looks to be a small child inside it, happily fiddling with the wires of what he knows to be the Engineering Department’s ultimate pet project.
(Yodo doesn’t remember her biological parents and she doesn’t really care. As far as she’s concerned, they didn’t want her, so she doesn’t want them.
She doesn’t need them, either. She didn’t need them before, when she was just one of many Suna orphans running around the village, and she definitely doesn’t need them now that she has a family that loves her and actually wants her.
And plus, Father is the Kazekage and Mother is one of the most badass people in the world–Yodo’s not even exaggerating. Why would she care about some random strangers she’s never even met?)
The child is five years old, unbelievably smart, and–according to the engineers on the night shift–a stealth prodigy. Gaara will believe the first two, but given the way the little girl knows some of the engineers by name, he’s highly skeptical of the last one.
Both Yokume and Gosan are on the verge of tears, which isn’t an atypical state of being for them. But usually it’s over non-human matters.
“You can’t have a five year old working for the Engineering Department,” Gaara says, choosing to be the voice of reason here.
“Can she even read?” Baki asks, looking far too amused by the situation.
“I can hear just fine,” the little girl says, dangling from the catwalk, knees hooked around the railing.
She seems confident in her stability, but Gaara would rather not risk it. He sends a platform of sand up towards her and, after a couple of curious nudges, she switches perches.
“And I can read…” she continues, voice high and piping and offended.
“… most things,” she admits in a mutter after a moment’s silence, sand platform bringing her closer. “Math is easier, okay?”
Yokume and Gosan check on the orb, simultaneously gushing and arguing about the changes the child has made while Fukiya trails after them like an eager student.
“What’s your name?” Gaara asks, because for all that she knows the night shift engineer’s names, they don’t seem to know hers.
She seems to be content on the platform, even though it’s hovering close enough to the ground that she could disembark if she wanted to. She doesn’t answer for a moment, busy testing the pliability of the sand–it’s as pliable as he wills it to be. He lets her shape it as she wants and holds it still when she decides she’s satisfied with it. She appears to be building a model of Suna.
“The matron at the orphanage use to call me Yodo,” she says finally, possibly unused to someone patiently waiting for her to answer.
Yodo wrinkles her nose in disgust, “I don’t go there anymore. Too many voices, it’s annoying. I come here instead.”
Gaara can feel his brow furrowing in confusion, hopes it doesn’t come off as irritated. His people are no longer scared of him, but he knows he’s still an intimidating figure. “For how long?”
Yodo huffs, as if she’s the one who should be annoyed by all these questions, “Almost four days,” she says.
Which isn’t as long as Gaara had feared, but definitely long enough that this should have been brought to someone’s attention earlier. Either as a missing child’s case or as an intruder in the Engineering Department–four days is too long.
“You’re not going to make me go back, are you?” Yodo asks him, blue eyes wide and staring into his.
Gaara doesn’t know what his face looks like now, but whatever it is, it makes Baki actually, audibly laugh.
(The Council talks about her as Father’s successor as if it’s a position she should be honored to have, instead of something they’re trying to force onto her.
She doesn’t know why they even think she’d want it–but then again, the only council member she’s ever spoken to is Councilor Odo who still thinks Mother is some kind of interloper or the most conspicuous spy ever.
She understands their reasoning, at least: Yodo may not be one by blood, but she’s still a scion of the desert. They don’t want her to end up like Temari-oba, married away in a different land and essentially lost to Suna.
No, Yodo doesn’t want to be Kazekage. But in this matter, she keeps quiet. As soon as she rejects it, they’ll turn to Shinki; and for all that he thinks he should be the next Kazekage, Yodo doesn’t think he actually wants to be, either.
Yodo can be a good sister.)
Yodo concedes to leave the Engineering workshop only when Gaara promises not to bring her back to the orphanage. She also demands dango, but after two years of raising a child, he knows better than to give her sweets without any substantial food to temper it.
They agree on takoyaki, which Yodo deems similar enough in shape to dango as to be acceptable, and which Gaara knows won’t lead to a sugar high and crash.
Between the Engineering Department and his office, Yodo sneaks her hand into his. He looks at her in surprise–it took Araya nearly a year to feel comfortable enough with him to do the same–and she begins to withdraw it, but he curls his fingers around hers and she smiles brightly up at him.
They pass by others at work. The administrative building is quite large, houses other departments besides Engineering, and someone must have sent word ahead because Jinzo is waiting for the two of them in Gaara’s office with a familiar looking set of forms.
“Another one?” he asks, almost as amused as Baki had been.
Gaara shrugs because he has no argument. Has nothing he’d want to argue against.
“Shall I have a runner go fetch Nara-san and Araya?” Jinzo asks, already flaring his chakra to summon one of the genin whose sole purpose is to do whatever he tells them apparently.
“And dango!” Yodo says, swinging their conjoined hands.
“Takoyaki,” Gaara corrects, considers for a moment, “And maybe some dango, too.”
Yodo cheers while Jinzo sends a second runner for the food and a third to prepare some drinks.
Gaara goes to sit at his desk. Rather than sit at the more comfortable couch, Yodo clambers onto the desk–taking care to avoid touching any of the paperwork, while she turns her head this way and that.
“Will this let me work in the Engineering Department?” Yodo asks, watching him write her name but not understanding the rest.
“One day, if you still want to, then you can,” Gaara answers, filling in the rest of the forms–his name, Shikako’s name, Yodo’s again. “This means that, if you want, you never have to go back to the orphanage.”
She looks up at him and in her eyes he sees maybe something like hope.
(Yodo thinks in terms of music. In tone and rhythm, tempo and frequency. She thinks of melodies and harmonies, instruments and voices fitting together into one cohesive song.
Machines are like that, too. Different components coming together to make something better and stronger than they are alone.
Sometimes there are problems–sometimes gears shift out of place and software doesn’t match up. Sometimes the drums go too fast and the strings screech instead of hum–but they can be troubleshot, they can be fixed. Music and creation and life are always open to additions and adjustments.
This is what family means to her.)
A/N: I really thought I’d be able to get this in before midnight Ah, well, I guess this is just a very early post then.
I’ll post these three up on ao3 later
(Also, I don’t know if anyone noticed but Yodo is meant to be neuroatypical.)