Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto, only my OCs and Plot.

How I Met Your Mother

Chapter Ten: Part One: Beautiful Monster

All my life, and the hereafter…I've never seen, someone like you…

Gaara hesitated at her door before knocking stiffly against the wooden surface. There was no answer. He knocked again, this time a bit more forcefully. Still, not even an annoyed request to be left alone—not that Rinmaru ever requested such a thing. Gaara noticed that whenever she no longer wanted the company of others, she would simply make herself scarce and return once she had achieved her solitude. He assumed that she did that to keep up appearances. She couldn't bring herself to lose her manners even in the face of…in the face of this.

He gave one final knock, before deciding to just come in. "Rinmaru? I'm opening the door."

Since Ichigo's departure, they had moved Rinmaru into a more permanent room near their quarters. Temari and she had ordered a wide variety of items from various shops in the village to decorate, to make it more comfortable for her. Personally, Gaara had never been inside of it. Only Temari and Kankuro had had the privilege. He knew the reason for that in the beginning. She didn't like him back then, but now? Why couldn't he come? What was the reason now? He didn't let his mind wander into that thought too long before he pulled back from it.

His eyes adjusted to the room before him. as you walked in, you entered directly into a sitting area decorated with white couches with sapphire throws and a collection of pillows. There was a deep mahogany coffee table with random manila folders shrewn against it. Various photos peeked from the edges of the folders. It was obvious what they contained. Gaara had no doubt she had spent an ample amount of time familiarizing herself with the Divide's abilities.

During their communication with the Mizukage, it was revealed that each and every member was a rouge ninja from the Mist. Not only was the Mist's cooperation helping the sand, it was also correcting a blunder of theirs. The Mizukage was determined to have things settled within the coming hours.

Walking past the chairs, Gaara looked through the archway to his left. There sat her bed with white and sapphire bedding. A wide variety of plants decorated both rooms and the lights had been entirely replaced by delicate, twinkling chandeliers.

He smiled, walking toward her bed, before noticing the open balcony doors to his right. A breeze crept into the room and combed through his hair. He knew where she was.

Finding her on the roof had been simple. She hadn't tried to conceal her presence at all. She just stood near the edge, overlooking the village. Her strawberry hair gently danced through the air around her, glowing almost from the light above. It was early morning, giving Rinmaru an almost inhuman glow. He took deliberate steps toward her, announcing his presence.

She turned her head only partly, giving him a look of acknowledgement before turning back to the view.

"You know," she began, her voice quiet, "You don't have to keep checking on me."

"I know." Gaara found her entirely relaxed position startling. She seemed almost too calm. Even the coldest of ninja found it difficult to refuse emotion when people they cared deeply for were at stake. He didn't know what to make of this quiet, this stillness. He was worried she would do something rash. By the resolve in both her voice and stature, it was possible that she intended to take matters into her own hands. Could she make off with several members of the group and torture them beyond recognition? That seem possible, but also unlike her. Gaara was in new territory here. He could only guess at her resolutions, because try as he might, he didn't completely know her. Even if he wanted to—desperately.

"Are you giving me the silent treatment, Lord Kazekage?" Rinmaru asked, "Have I disappointed you?"

Gaara had no idea where her train of thought would lead them, but he'd spent enough time with her to know he should just prepare himself for the ride. Instead of answering, he walked toward the ledge and sat down, facing the view.

"You're going to make me do the talking, aren't you?" Rinmaru sighed, raising an eyebrow at him. He gave no real reaction, only watched her. She frowned and threw a hand to the air. "Of course. Well, allow me to tell you a story, Lord Kazekage. Perhaps when I finish, you'll understand why you shouldn't be wasting your time worrying about me."

"Worrying about you is not a waste of time," Gaara said sternly, surprising himself by his indignant tone of voice.

Her eyes fluttered and darted away from him as she drew her hair behind her ear. "I forget how sentimental you can be." She set her electric eyes back on him as she added, "I misspoke. Although I think it is a waste of time, I understand that you think differently."

"That's not an apology."

Rinmaru's lips quirked in the right corner, and a burst of warmth budded in Gaara's chest. She was still there, after all. She was still Rinmaru.

"Well, I wasn't trying to apologize." She told him as she settled beside him, leaning back on her hands. "Anyway, listen up because I won't be repeating myself…

"As you know, I was born to the most noble house in Water Country. My family is the wealthiest, the most influential. I was denied nothing, even something another child had. I didn't take things, mind you, no, I was much too prideful for that. Things were given to me, gifted to me, and I accepted all things for they were my birthright you see." Rinmaru smirked at him as she weaved her words through his head. "At the age of three, I was much more advanced than others my age. Not only could I speak in complete, flawless sentences, but I could read and write. It was also at this time that I began my taijutsu training."

Gaara thought it strange that a noble born began training so early, but he didn't question it. In the shinobi world, this was not unheard of.

"As you guessed…I was flawless at that too—" she cut herself off, and then frowned at him, "Why are you making that face, Gaara? This isn't some sob story. I told you before that I have a perfect life, didn't I? This isn't where I suddenly reveal that I was tortured as child." With another sigh, she continued on, "As I was saying, everything I did was excellent. As it is now, so was it then. Not only was I a child prodigy, completely unheard of, but I was also the most gorgeous child in all the country. People would stare, marvel, open-mouthed at my beauty. I could halt entire parades, and each and every servant would trip over themselves for a single smile from me. Not that that isn't still true…because it is."

Gaara knew she was trying to make him smile when she said that. He knew. It had worked anyway.

"There was one maid I adored beyond all others, and her name was Chiryo. She was of average beauty with short black hair. She wasn't particularly graceful or well-spoken. But…she was warm and I loved her. I loved her the way only a child knows how to, completely and without hesitation. When I'd wake from a nap, I'd catch her staring at me, her light brown eyes tracing the soft lines in my hair. For only moments, I would see something heated there, something akin to anger, but the moment I'd yawn all cute and small, it would be gone. Snuffed away. It would be as if the emotion never existed.

"She was my constant companion. Even on the eve of my fourth birthday, she and I were together. We were at my grandfather's in the best rooms in his palace—my room's. My mother and father were away and my grandfather had retired to his rooms. She and I talked and giggled well into midnight, until she decided she wanted to take me on a walk. I readily agreed, reaching for my shoes, but she hurried me along without them. She told me I wouldn't need them." Rinmaru paused at this her eyes stealing over to Gaara. "We walked along for what felt like an hour to me. I remember my legs not being long enough to keep up, and deciding to walk faster to compensate for the difference as her hand tightened on my wrist. I remember her not speaking a word to me as I asked where we were going. I remember being cold and thinking that something was wrong. I was right, of course. When we finally stopped, she pulled me toward a wooden wagon with a single horse. A man with a grey beard greeted us.

"It was so strange to me, but I just knew…I knew what was going on. Those moments of flashing anger, envy, and jealousy added up to this one sum. She didn't love me…she hated me, but she was only so good at hiding it. Had she been better, I may not have brought along a kunai. In summary, I tortured the both of them until they died. I was angry, you see, and felt that I was owed some retribution. I was, of course, but still. To a shinobi of my skill, it was akin to slaying children, something similar to taring apart a newborn kitten. They were thin as paper, but I did not care. I couldn't. I still don't. I walked away from that experience with a single thought: You cannot love everyone. They will only disappoint you and die in the end."

That story…and her conclusion, didn't quite add up the way it should have. What point did this story have other than to show where her coldness stemmed from? Her inability to trust without reason?

"Let me guess. You want to know why I told you this? You want to know why I told you this insignificant story of mine?"

"Your story is not insignificant."

Rinmaru rolled her eyes, "Okay, Gaara. Calm down. Will you let me finish? Anyway, I've decided to care for Temari, my children, Nanao, Baki, Kankuro and you too, Gaara. I've decided to care for you, so do you know what that means?"

He said nothing, knowing well enough she only asked for dramatic effect. But he leaned closer, finding it difficult to look away from her. His heart was skipping, beating weirdly in his chest. His pulse felt uncomfortable, his breaths clumsy. He wondered if she noticed at all.

"It means," she told him dryly, "That I must do all that is in my power to keep you alive, and you must do all that you can to keep from disappointing me. It's how it all works now. It's the only way."

After watching her a moment, Gaara finally made himself speak, finding his voice surprisingly even, "I'd thought that after I'd learned more about you, listened to your story that it would give me exactly what I needed, that it would make understanding your motivations easier." It was like reaching the end of a puzzle and finding that it connected to something much larger, more intricate.

"I'm not difficult to understand, Gaara. You're just overcomplicating me because you think I'm better than I am, but I am not. We are not the same; I am monster." A strangely placed grin appeared on her lips, "I suppose that's what's so appealing about you. You see shadow where there should be a creature in wait. It's adorable. Misplaced, but…no less adorable."

"Rinmaru." Gaara didn't know what else to say anymore, how could one person be so exasperating? "You are not a monster. I would know—"

"Please, I've heard the stories, Lord Kazekage. I am no fool. You were a misguided child, who was unloved and undisciplined. I was born perfect and I still made the decision to be who I am. It would have been easy, child's play to simply kill those two, but I didn't. Again, we are not the same." She seemed to tease him with her eyes as she spoke. "I've noticed something about you Gaara. I've noticed something even you probably don't know about yourself. Since the day that I met you, you've been trying to save me. From what? I've never been completely sure, until today. You want to save me from me, even if I like what road I'm on and what bloody paths I choose to take. But…because I've decided to care for you, I'll do you one last favor."

She was switching subjects on him, he knew of course they'd argue if she didn't.

"What I want to do is string up every last member of the Divide and slowly remove body parts until they slowly go insane. I want to take a set of nails and hammer them into their skulls until I see what happens…" Rinmaru paused, her limbs relaxed and the sudden venom in her voice slipped away. "That is what I want, but if you want…I'll let you save me. Tell me not to do it…and I won't. Tell me to show mercy, and I will. Save me."

Gaara needed to hear no more. He reached out to her, hesitantly reached out until he'd managed to place a hand awkwardly on her knee. He looked into her gaze unblinkingly, knowing that in this moment, there should be no hesitation. "Please, Rinmaru. For me, don't do this."

She held his gaze a while, and then breathed out, the air rushing out of her lungs like a dam breaking. "For you." With that, she leaned back against the roof. "That's all I needed to hear."

For me. Gaara thought. What does that mean? What does any of this mean? He shook his head, he had no right to dwell on it. They'd be leaving soon, and the mission required his focus—deserved it.

He joined her against the roof, his back against the cold, his head turned to her. She'd closed her eyes; all tension had left her. There was a small smile in the corner of her lips. He hung on to that, watched it.

If she was in fact a monster, even though he doubted it, at the very least she was a beautiful one.

"I don't think your beloved would appreciate your staring at me like that," Rinmaru said, her voice soft, teasing. Back to Rinmaru.

Gaara stated the obvious, "I don't really care."

She seemed to shrug, "I just thought I'd let you know."

Author's Note: Yeah, I know it's been a while. I know. But, as I said, this will be finished before the year is out. I think that's why I'm dragging. I don't actually want to finish it, but all things must end. Also, I pretty much lied in my other Author's Note, so I hope you guys aren't really reading these.

I wanted to dump a big chapter on you guys, but I'm doing a lot of revisions and I know if I don't put this out now, it'll take me forever to update again.

Anyway, love the favorites, follows and reviews. Weirdly enough, this is my most popular story despite having only nine—now ten chapters. Go figure. I can't promise a swift update, but I'll be completely transparent…if you guys want me update fast, I'll see what I can do. Or, I'll just space them out so I update monthly until the end of the year. There should only be about…four(?) chapters left. It may be five since I'm splitting this one in half.

This is a long Author's Note, I know. But, it's more for me than for you. It's almost like I'm having a therapeutic conversation with myself. Anyway, here we are. Next chapter will close out this subplot and get us officially on the main plot (not that we haven't been there for nine chapters). Anyway, thanks for everything guys.

Drop a review, favorite or follow, whatever you like.