Disclaimer: If I owned Naruto, it’d be called ‘Gaara’. So, isn’t it a shame that I don’t own it?
Summary: There were many things that shaped the plans of a certain Nukenin, and one was a shinobi that was as destructive as fire. AU/Mentions of Shounen-ai/Yaoi/Yuri
A/N: Rewritten for your enjoyment! Actually, I just corrected a lot of mistakes, that’s all. Enjoy.
‘Come closer,’ the voice whispered as she continued to move forward. She was almost mesmerized by it and what lay ahead of her. Something inside of her told her to scream and resist, but she could only continue to do as the voice instructed.
‘Just embrace it.’ She reached out and touched her hand to the surface of the mirror-like wall. Its cool surface became warm to the touch and then flared to life. After a moment it became clear and she was able to see through it and at first all she saw were flames licking against the invisible wall.
Then she heard the screams as she gasped and pressed her face against the wall. She tried to look through the fire and saw them withering in agony as they tried to escape. They were calling out to her, reaching out to her to save them. It was her family.
She banged her fists against the wall, trying to break it and help them. ‘You killed them,’ the voice whispered in her ear as she screamed.
The five year old girl shot up in bed as she gasped and started to cough. She wrapped her arms around herself as she shuddered at the cold sweat that covered her small body. Her wide eyes peered around the dark room as tears slipped down her cheeks. “I’m sorry,” she sobbed. “So sorry.”
The fire had taken everything from her and had almost claimed her own life as well. She wished it had killed her as well, and then she might have been spared the pain of these last few lonely months.
She escaped from the dark house now as the dawns’ light started to spill in through the window of her nearly empty room. There were very little possessions that were left after that horrific night and what she did have had been provided by her uncle Katsu. He came by at times but never stayed long, but she didn’t blame him. She had killed his two best friends.
Again she spent the day training and roaming the outskirts of the village. She never went into Suna because it was forbidden for her to do so. It had been decided by the Kazekage that she was too dangerous and hadn’t even allowed her uncles to take her in. Now the only times she was allowed to enter the city was to buy supplies with money her uncles gave her.
It would be hot today as well and the wind slightly calmed her nerves as it caressed her tanned face. Her black hair had grown past her shoulders and it was tangled and wild. She had always had it combed and neat before, but that had been thanks to her mother. Her mother was dead now.
She trained everything her brother had taught her until her muscles ached and she collapsed to the ground. As she lay there, she knew that her clothes would get dirty but it didn’t matter since no one would be there to lecture her. When her eyes stung with the promise of tears, she wiped her face and stood once again to train. It kept her mind off things she didn’t want to think about.
When the sky was streaked with the light of an afternoon sun, she left the small training ground. She walked and came upon the playground as children her age ran around laughing. They wouldn’t let her play with them because they knew something terrifying resided inside of her. She was different than all of them.
Even if she knew she should leave before they spotted her, she was rooted to the ground as she watched them kick a ball between two goals. She wanted to cover her ears to shut out the sound of their laughter. Then she noticed a red haired boy sitting by himself on a swing, and recognized him. He was another that was hated but he lived within the city. She had seen him before and had tired to approach him a few times, but she had always been deterred by a blonde haired man.
One of the boys kicked the ball too high, and it got stuck on top of a roof. The children stopped to look up and wondered how they would recover it. None of them were skilled enough in jutsu to be able to get it. She almost moved to help them but stopped as she saw the ball move, and it seemed to descend toward them on its own. Turning, she noticed that the boy had left the swing and approached them.
It was a bit surprising to realize that the ball was being moved by the very sand, and it deposited it in his hands. She saw now why he was feared. He was just like her, but he seemed to have more control than she had. She turned to look at the kids and saw that he was receiving the same fearful looks.
Their voices reached her where she stood. “It’s Gaara,” one girl spoke fearfully as the boy lifted the ball hesitantly.
“Here,” he said, holding it out for them to take. There was a shy expression on his face and his movements were cautious as if he thought they would attack if he moved too quickly.
“Suna no Gaara,” a boy muttered and stepped back. Their eyes were the same, viewing him as a monster. “Run!” They turned and all started to run from him. She looked at the boy and saw as his eyes widened in shock and disbelief. He was frozen in place as he continued to hold the ball in his hands.
She gripped her chest as she winced, and wondered if this boy felt the same pain that she did when they all ran from her, avoided her, and called her bakemono.
“Matte!” he cried and lifted his hand toward the six fleeing children. “Don’t leave me alone!” Her arms came around herself as she felt chilled and saddened, and as she watched, the sand sprung up and caught hold of the children. It started to drag them back toward the boy as they screamed.
She tilted her head to the side and could only watch them being pulled by the sand. Moving forward, they saw her and pleaded for help. The boy turned startling turquoise eyes toward her and she saw the crazed expression in them, and the sand sprung up toward her but she merely stood there. It surrounded her and cut her in various places on her skin, and blood spilled down her cheek as she closed her eyes. The sand seemed to howl like a beast that wanted to devour her, and she waited.
“Why are we different?” she whispered as it compressed around her to crush her. A split second later it stilled and fell away as if her words had been enough to stop it. When she opened her eyes and glanced up, she saw a man standing in front of the children.
It looked like the sand had attacked the others and he had jumped in front. There were cuts along his arms and face where it had slammed into him at full force. “Please stop, Gaara-sama!” he yelled at the boy who looked shocked.
The other kids had been released, and some of them appeared to have passed out. She looked down at the sand in confusion, not understanding. It had been so close. She had been so close! The sand would have crushed her and ended her suffering. “Dosh’te?” she asked and fell to her knees as tears spilling down her face. Everything should have ended then.
The man turned and seemed to misunderstand as he gave her a sympathetic look, and a kind smile. She recognized him. He was the one that had stopped her all those times she had tried to speak to the red head, and there was something else. His eyes held the same look as all the others. She saw the hate just behind the surface of his kind fašade.
However, it wasn’t directed at her and she saw his eyes shift toward the boy and understood that it was directed at him. Her gaze moved to him now, and saw that he was staring at her with those eyes that had black rings around them. His scarlet bangs fell over them and she couldn’t help the smile that stretched over her face. “Do not trust so easily,” she muttered before she stood and stumbled off.
She didn’t want to go back to that house, but there was no where else for her to go. She had no home.
When the sun gave up its seat to the moon, she returned to the empty house. This wasn’t her home, since that had burned to the ground with her family in the blazing inferno, and left her alone.
She sat on the floor and leaned against the wall beside the front door. Dragging her legs against her chest, she hugged them and rested her chin on her drawn up knees as her messy bangs hid her eyes.
‘Why are my eyes different?’
‘Because when they were made, a bit of red got mixed in.’
That’s what her mother had said to her since her black eyes had blood red pupils and rimmed in crimson. Afterwards she had combed her long black hair until it shone with a healthy glow.
The tears came and flowed down her face as she remembered, and the salty liquid made her cuts sting. She made no expression of pain. Her eyes were blank as she stared into the darkness of the room, and all she could see were the flames. All she could remember was her mother’s charred face staring at her from the burning house before it had collapsed around her.
Her mother had always been a frail woman and suffered from illness almost every day of Arisa’s short life. She couldn’t even muster the strength to lift her into her arms and hug her. Everyday she had suffered with that sickness, but that day was different.
She had forced open the window and had lifted her up like she weighed nothing before throwing her outside. As she sat up from where she had landed, she had seen her mother smile. She must have been in terrible pain in those last moments, yet she had smiled.
There was a knock on the door behind her as she gasped and turned around. She lifted her head as she gave the door a startled look, but she quickly wiped her blood-shot eyes. Turning, she pulled it open and blinked in confusion. The red haired boy from earlier stood there and he was holding a bag against his chest. Since the room behind her was dark, the light from the lamps outside spilled over her as she opened the door a bit wider, and she had to squint to see him clearly.
He offered her the bag. “I...brought you this, for your cuts,” he muttered quietly. He was looking down as if he was ashamed but she had also seen the fear and hope in his eyes. “It’s ointment.” He stood there quietly as she stared at him. After a moment, she reached out and took it. She saw the surprise play across his face and wondered if he had done the same thing with the other children and had been rejected.
“Arigato,” she whispered and saw his face relax in a smile. She suspected that it was a rare thing. “Would you...like to come in?” Her voice was underlined with hope. The house was dark and empty, and she didn’t remember the last time her uncle had come over.
He hesitated and she flinched but offered a forced smile anyway. “You don’t have to.” ‘They never want to come in.’ She started to close the door, but he told her to wait. Opening it again, she peered at him expectantly. He nodded, and after a moment she stepped back and allowed him to enter.
She closed the door when he entered and plunged the room into darkness. The sound of his nervous shifting reached her ears as she moved down the hall. Since she hardly had any furniture she managed to avoid tripping over anything. When she reached the kitchen, she turned on the light and it lit up the hall she had gone down. The boy’s slightly darkened figure stood by the door, and he followed when she motioned with her hand.
As he entered the room she had already started to make tea and told him to have a seat at the table that was in the middle of the small kitchen. He did as she instructed and she sat in the chair across from him a moment later. For a while, she merely stared at him and he started to shift around a bit nervously after several seconds.
“W-what is your name?” he asked her. She could tell that he wasn’t use to talking with another but neither was she. After all, no one spoke to her. Next year she would start going to the ninja academy as her brother had done but she doubted that anyone would talk to her even then.
As he asked her for a name, she paused and tilted her head. She wasn’t sure what to answer since to her, she had died along with her parents and brother in that fire. She was no longer Ashikaga Arisa. That person was dead.
When she opened her mouth, her own name did not pass her lips. “Ashikaga Eizan,” she said instead. She had been very close to her older brother and he had taught her a lot in the last few years he had been alive.
He gave her a strange look, since it was mainly a boy’s name but she only stood and walked toward the stove. The kettle had stared to whistle to indicate that the water was boiling. She poured the water and made tea for herself. “Would you like tea?”
She could feel his eyes on her back as he stared like they all did, but he was different. The sand coming to life and attacking the kids was proof of that. This boy was feared as she was. Unlike him, she was able to summon something else to her bidding, though. It was the reason why she blamed herself for the fire. She had started it.
Even if she had not meant to, she had done so. That was her Kekkei Genkai. She could create fire or manipulate it to her will. She was sure that her mother had known it had been her fault, but she had still saved her. By that time, her brother and father were already dead.
The nightmare had started it all and it had started to consume her room and then her brother’s. The ceiling had crushed him and her parents had been awakened by the sound of it caving in.
They had most likely known that he was dead and had gone after her first, her father using a water jutsu to cut a path to her. He had managed to douse her with a weak water technique to bring her around before the fire consumed him. She had awoken to his shrieks of agony and screamed as she cowered on the already demolished bed.
Her mother, who had somehow managed to survive the flames surrounding them, had rushed in as sections of the roof started to collapse. She had forced the window open even as the flames licked at her arms and hands, and had lifted her. She’d faltered only once before throwing her outside.
When she sat up she saw her mother’s face smiling at her from the burning house before the whole structure crumbled on her. That last image of her mother had been burned into her memory forever. She’d been found staring blankly at the rubble that had once been her home.
They all knew what had happened and feared that it would happen again if they got knew her. The next day, the Kazekage had decided that it was not safe for her to live within the city, and hadn’t let her uncles care for her. She was confined to this small house just on the outskirts of Suna.
No one dared visit her except for her uncle and two of her cousins that brought her food, clothing or money to get by. The two girls that visited her had family abilities that the others didn’t and were avoided as well. Theirs weren’t as frightening as hers, but they were mostly avoided because they were related to her like her other cousins.
“No, I prefer coffee.” The boys’ voice wrenched her from her musings, and she clenched her hand over the handle of the kettle. She tried not to think of the things that made her life miserable, but at times she wasn’t able to help it.
She nodded and made him the coffee without hesitation, but didn’t asking why he drank such a strong drink. She had seen the dark circles under his eyes and suspected that he didn’t get a lot of sleep. When she asked if he wanted any cream or sugar he simply stated that he drank it black. Again, she didn’t ask him about it.
Walking over, she set it before him before moving to sit down. She would have offered him something to eat with it, but the only thing that she had was the necessary things. She had nothing to be offered to a guest such as odango, or even ohagi.
They sat in silence as they each drank from their own cups. After a moment, she looked at him. “They don’t like me either,” she said and he looked startled. Then he smiled slightly.
After a moment he lifted his gaze and looked around once. “Where’s your family?” he asked her quietly. Her hands froze as she had been about to set the cup of tea back on the saucer, and she lowered her head until her bangs obscured her eyes.
She held back a shudder as the memories came again but managed to shove them back into the recees of her mind. “I…killed them,” she finally answered. When she lifted her head there was a surprised look on his face. “It was an accident. I can’t control it.”
He seemed confused, so she lifted her hand in front of her, and concentrated hard so the ability wouldn’t go out of her control. Soon, flames started to crawl over the skin of her arm, wrist and hand. He watched with wide eyes and a slightly open mouth. She moved her fingers a bit to show him that it didn’t hurt. “They also call me a monster.”
“You…are just like me,” he muttered and a smile cracked his once sad features. She found herself returning it. “You can be my friend because you are like me.” A light came lit up her eyes as she nodded her head. She really did hope that they could eventually become friends because the loneliness was torture.
When he was leaving, she asked him his name and he hesitated before replying. “It’s… Gaara.” She smiled and nodded.
Before he walked out the door she caught his arm and he turned to look at her. “I would not trust that man,” she warned. “His eyes are hateful even when his face is kind.”
He frowned slightly as he turned to face her, and she released him. “You mean Yashamaru?” he asked her. He shook his head. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. He’s the one that made me the ointment. He was worried about you being hurt.”
The muscles in her face hardened and her hand gripped the door knob tightly. “His eyes are the same. They are the same as everyone else that looks at me with hate and fear, as if I were some kind of monster,” she growled. “You would do well to be careful.
When he shook his head again and tried to protest, she slammed the door in his face. She leaned against it as she breathed in deeply and after several moments she heard him walk away.
She covered her face with her hands as she slid to the floor. ‘Dosh’te?’ He had been one of the only people that had been kind to her since her family’s death, and she had driven him away. She had only been trying to warn him.
But she had seen it in his eyes. He cared about this person, and to have said such things about him... It would always be the same.
She curled into a ball as she fell to the floor and drew in shaky breaths as she tried not to cry. For a moment she wondered if this was her fate. She wondered what horrible thing she had done in her past life to have been cursed with this ability. If she really was cursed then maybe she was destined to be alone and hated for the rest of her life.
Maybe she really was a monster.-
1. Suna no Gaara: Gaara of the Sand
2. bakemono: monster
3. matte: wait
4. arigato: thanks, thank you
5. Kekkei Genkai: advanced bloodline, refers to something passed down through the genetic make-up in a specific clans. Many fear the clans that possessed these skills, which could not be copied outside of the clans.
6. Kazekage: literally “Wind Shadow”; top ninja in Hidden Sand Village
7. odango: dumplings.
8. ohagi: rice cake covered with bean jam, soybean or ground sesame.
End, Chapter One