Spoilers: To chapter 212 of the manga.
This is the first of two "apology fics", which I'm writing to apologize to my friend and sister, both of whom were scarred by my parody fic, 'A Typical Love Story'. This is for Marmalade, because she loves Gaara, and everything GaaNaru. Thanks to my sister AaarikaaA for the title, which she stole from a song by J. Englishman, which she made me listen to because it was perfect for this story.
Oh, and for anyone who doesn't know, Shukaku is the name of the demon sealed in Gaara.
We're all style over substance and
We're pride reluctance to the bitter end
So give me passion over reason
Give me something to believe in
And I'll be content
Coz I want something more
I need something more
-- "More" by J. Englishman
The sand gets into everything. It's in his eyes, his ears, his hair; it permeates his clothes, and rubs against his skin. It has worked its way into the deepest valleys and crevices of his body. It has become a part of him.
Gaara knows this. There was a time when he fought against it, struggling in vain to deny its connection to him, to deny what he is. Then he accepted it, even revelled in it, drawing a perverse sort of comfort from his only ally in a world filled with enemies. It still provides him with comfort, but not in the same way it once did. He has let a few individuals get close to him now – his brother and sister, who have accepted him, albeit tentatively, as more than a deadly teammate.
Yes, the comfort he gets from the sand seems to have diminished recently. Suddenly the sand is not enough. He is slowly beginning to realize something, deep in the heart he had long ago forsaken: the sand pales in comparison to the things he has unwittingly stumbled across. Companionship. Friendship. Trust.
Gaara doesn't know exactly what love is, but he wonders if maybe it feels something like this. When That Boy beat him (no, not That Boy, his name is Naruto, and that's important) Gaara's whole world was turned on its head. It shocked him. He could be defeated, and by a boy no less; a boy with hopes and dreams like what Gaara once had. A boy, he discovered, who was scorned by his village. A boy without real parents to hold him and love him and tell him that he was all right. A boy under the protection of a demon.
A boy like him.
And yet, a boy so different.
And in his confusion and pain, Gaara let himself be led away. Let his siblings half-carry him back to the village. (They could have finished him off easily, he was so badly hurt. Why didn't they kill him?) And in the village of the sand they nursed him. They cared for him. And he lay unmoving in his bed and stared up at the ceiling. And he thought.
He thought about many things. He thought about Shukaku, and his life, and whether he was really human. He thought about his mother, and his uncle, and his brother and sister, and his father, the Kazekage, newly dead at the hands of the man's supposed ally. He thought about the village where he had grown up, and the village where he had taken the Chuunin exam.
But mostly, he thought about That Boy, Naruto. He thought about spiky blond hair and sky blue eyes. He thought about determination and optimism and hope and big dreams, dreams that were scoffed at and ridiculed but believed nonetheless.
Because Naruto gets into everything. He's in Gaara's thoughts, his actions, his every waking moment. Naruto has worked his way into the deepest valleys and crevices of Gaara's mind. Naruto has become a part of his soul.
Gaara knows this. And he thinks that maybe he should fight it, deny what he's becoming. But he knows better than that now. And now, finally, he thinks he knows what he wants.
Gaara is going back to Konoha. Because he knows that he needs the sand, but maybe he needs something else just a little more.
This is my second posting of this fic within eight hours, after I discovered a small but glaring error and removed the first version. ("Yashamaru was a man? DAMMIT!!" Although, that would make sense, seeing as the suffix -maru is put on male names ... but wow, I thought Gaara's caretaker was a woman ... I really should read more carefully ...)
And that's all, folks. Please click the little button at the bottom and let me know what you think.