Dedicated to RikkuX, for her story, "You'll Hate Yourself in the End"

-------------~If Only, A Vision Of Beauty~Chapter 7~Kiba's Return~-------------

Gaara and Naruto sat on the cliff's edge long after the others left the desert plain. The faint glow on the horizon emitted from the villiage, and dimly lit up their faces. Naruto's thoughts were lazily dragged to the thought of Gaara's pain, and he let them be. It was something he could freely think about. Nothing to be ashamed of.

"I must go." Gaara's voice returned to monotony and his expression returned to a blank stone. He stood up, holding out a stiff hand to help Naruto up.

"Gaara?" Naruto turned his face from the villiage to Gaara as he said this.

"Aa..?"

"Why do you mask yourself like this?" he swung his hand lightly towards Gaara's face, gesturing to the change in character from 'Gaara' to 'Gaara of the desert'. A small sigh could be heard from Gaara.

"I only feel like being me when I'm with you. I guess it takes a little preparation sometimes." His voice was still unchanging, and as Naruto watched him walk away, he closed his eyes for moments longer than a blink. He turned back towards his camp and dragged hihs fingers across the branches.

He was exhausted, but floating on air. Truly floating. He couldn't help but smiling as he walked back to camp. Everyone- almost everyone, anyways- was in couples. There was Sakura with Sasuke.... Ino with Shikamaru.... Asuma and Kurenai..... Naruto's mouth dropped open. Hinata was with.... Kiba!

"Kiba! You're back!" He ran up to his affiliate.

"Yeah, Temari and Kankuro picked me up." Everyone was silenced. Where there had been chatter, there was now mouths dropped open. Hinata looked up at Kiba.

"Nani?" She spoke quietly, but there was a definite happy tone in her voice, showing through the worry.

"Oh yeah... they told me about that fight....." Everyone stared at him, as he seemed to be insane. "I guess I'd better explain, ne?" A simultaneous nod from the peanut gallery.

"Well...."

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Gaara walked down the path towards his villiage. Inside he was happy- or the closest thing he could get to it- but outside his emotion was a blank stone. Still, the warmness inside of him was something new and exciting, something he'd never felt before. Normally, Gaara would have rather stayed in the dark shadows than walk through his villiage underneath the streetlights. Tonight was an exception, though, and as he walked to his house, he stayed in the pool of light that was Sand Villiage.

When he arrived at his house, he walked in to find the groceries unpacked and his brother and sister sitting on the couch, playing a game of Go.

"Hey Gaara!" Temari was in an unusually light mood, and she shot Gaara a smile. He paused before he reached the stairs, and glanced at her.

"Why are you so happy?" he stared at her, waiting for a reply.

"Didn't you see those fireworks? It made everyone happy!" She beamed, and Gaara forced down a blush.

"Yeah.. I saw them." He continued towards the stairs and trudged up them, avoiding any further conversation. As he climbed the top step, He remembered something. Shouting downstairs, he asked

"Hey Kankuro, where's that Kiba kid?" There was a stutter from the bottom of the steps and Kankuro paused.

"uuhh..... He.. left." Kankuro awaited an angered reply from Gaara, and uneasily glanced at Temari. Instead of the awaited frustration, though, the two only heard a simple

"Oh." The two siblings wore perplexed look. Temari whispered to Kankuro.

"Does Gaara like fireworks or somthing?"

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Kakashi grinned as he pulled the popcorn out of the kettle and sat down beside Kurenai, awaiting he subordinate's story.

"Are you ready NOW, Kakashi?" The impatient Genin inquired. Kakashi looked around him.

"Let's see.... Sake... Popcorn.... Dangos... yep!" Kakashi was sure he heard a muttered

"Finally" as Kiba began. "Well, When I was chasing the guy that took Sakura, which turned out to be Gaara, I was struck from behind. I got knocked out. When I woke up, I was with Temari and Kankuro. What they told me was that I got knocked out by some Shinzue chick. Basically, Gaara only fought you guys because he wanted to get you outta there, he knew that Narumi would've killed ya. Even though that guy comes out as a killing freak, he wanted as many people against Narumi as he could, and he hates that guy so much that he doesn't want him killing anyone. Who the hell knows why a killing freak would hate a killing freak... rivals, maybe?" Kiba took a big breath when he finished, and sat down.

"And this stupid girl that knocked me out made me weak." He cursed.

Kurenai and Asuma glanced at each other. Asuma leaned over and whispered to her.

"Shinzue?" Kurenai nodded.

Although those two Jounin started to get higher spirits because they had as strong a ninja like Gaara, Kakashi was thoroughly disappointed.

"That's ALL?" Kakashi pouted underneath his mask, and some of the younger ninja laughed. Their free time was up, but they had nothing more to do on their mission, so for the rest of the night, all the Konoha ninja stayed up around the fire, talking and laughing.

"OMG! KaKAshi! You are SO not serious!" Sakura would say,

"What's so hard to believe that Iruka's gay?" and Kakashi would nod, soon after receiving a punch from Naruto.

"Don't insult Iruka!"

"Who said calling someone gay was insulting? All the best people are gay." Mistakenly, or so it seemed, Kakashi pointed to himself. Even though everyone knew he was 'kidding', a fit of laughter rang out through the group. The only quiet one was Neji, who was sitting at the edge of camp, looking into the thin cluster of trees that surrounded them. Naruto saw this, and shouted.

"Hey! Neji! Stop being an uptight cockroach and come join the party!" Naruto recieved weird looks for this, and he turned his attention back to Shikamaru, who was the one sending the look.

"Cockroach?"

"Whhaaat? It was the first thing I thought of saying!"

"Don't be stupid, Naruto, you never think." Sasuke grinned, and expertly dodged a tackle.

"SASUKEEEEE!"

As the party grew on, Hinata couldn't stop glancing over to her older cousin. Within an hour, Hinata whispered to Kiba

"I'll be right back" and walked out of his arms to talk to her cousin. As she approached him, she quietly started speaking.

"Neji-san, a-are you ok?" She tapped him on the shoulder and he didn't turn as he spoke.

"I'm fine. Sorry if I don't feel like acting like a baboon." He folded his arms and retreated to his book.

"Sometimes it helps just to have fun, even in the most tough times. It takes your mind off things."

"It's things like that which make people weak. I am surprised that Sasuke was willing to let his guard down." There was a growl in Neji's voice as he spoke of Sasuke, and Hinata sighed, retreating from the light of Neji's flashlight, and heading back to Kiba.

*******NEXT DAY********

It was late in the morning, but the camp was still quiet. Not only had the Konoha ninja not slept in days, but all of them had stayed up extra late.

Even Neji.

He had finally retreated to the firelight, and although he was silent, every now and then he surrendered to a grin. So as he slept in his tent, which he shared with Lee, he was undisturbed.

Suddenly, there was a shout.

"NARUTO!!!!!!!!!!!" Sakura shreiked, and her along with Naruto and Ino shot out of bed.

"Sorry sorry sorry Sakura-chan! I must have came in here instead of my tent on accident! I was tired! EEP! DON'T KILL ME!!!" Naruto ran out of Sakura's tent full speed, and Sakura, still dressed in yesterday's clothes, chased after him. He quickly climbed into his tent, which he shared with Sasuke, and pulled a sleeping Sasuke in front of him as a shield. Sasuke woke up with Naruto's arms around him from behind.

"NARUTO!" He, aswell, chased Naruto out of the tent. Poor Naruto retreated to yet another tent, which happened to be Hinata's and Tentens. He used Hinata as a shield this time, and Kiba, who'd woken up at all the commotion and climbed out of his tent with Shino, tried to kill him after he 'hugged' Hinata.

"HEEELP MEEE KAKAAASHIIIIII-SENSEEEIIIII!!!!!" Naruto screamed, as a horde of Genin followed him. Other than Kiba, Sasuke, and Sakura, the rest of the camp joined in either to help their friends or because he'd woken them up. Kurenai and Asuma were down by the sandfall drinking coffee, so they didn't hear Naruto.

Kakashi slept through it all.

When Asuma and Kurenai returned that morning, Naruto lay twitching on the ground, dangerously close to the still-hot ashes of the fire. The rest of the camp was eating breakfast, and even Kakashi had woken eventually. Over breakfast, the camp-members whispered to each other.

"Do you think we should try and wake him?" Hinata asked.

"He's already awake, just in shock." Shino said. Kakashi raised a finger in discovery.

"Pour water on him!"

"Shhh! Kakashi! WHISPER!" Ino stood up and crept to grab a bucket, filling it up in the nearby pond and handing it to Sakura. "Think of it as revenge."

With an evil grin on her face, Sakura tiptoed up to Naruto. She laughed madly as she poured the freezing water all over Naruto. He shot up.

"Ah! I missed breakfast!" He raced to the table and wolfed down the rest of the bacon, seemingly unaware of his current, wet, state. "Oh, Kakashi-sensei, where did that chick Shinzue go?"

Kakash glanced uneasily at Kurenai, and she nodded. Taking over, she started by explaining the Kage Ningyou jitsu. She showed everyone her arm.

"He tried to do it on me, but I pulled away so he didn't complete it. When we had Shinzue here, she fell into shock, somewhat like Naruto, and when she rendered unresponsive to Narumi's control, we're gussing he killed her."

The wide eyed ninja looked at her, not believing his ears.

"So what do we do about Narumi, then?" Sasuke cut in, and Kakashi sighed.

"It'd be a felony to kill him, he's from another country and isn't a registered ninja anymore. Unless a ninja kills another REGISTERED ninja, it's still considered murder. So I guess we have to capture him somehow." One thought ran through the minds of all the Konoha ninja, and Neji stated it.

"Gaara."



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A/N - Short chapter but I NEEDED to update. Badly. R&R!

-Kounouri