Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, never have, never will.

Human Nature: Side Stories
By: TF

In Dealings with Demons

In the years after Gaara's defeat at the hands of Naruto the bloody-haired boy had taken the time to reflect upon the ideals that had kept him going for so long. Naruto was the first, and only, person to defeat him, and the blonde boy had done it by defending something almost no one else had, the people who were precious to him. It was because of Naruto's ideals, and Gaara's subsequent defeat, that Gaara's outlook and goals had been changed.

Despite his change of heart towards most other people, he was still possessed by a demon that was spectacularly bloodthirsty. Just because Gaara didn't want to kill the people who had become close to him, the situation wasn't one of Shukaku sitting back and allowing himself to become completely overpowered by his small host. For a while it seemed like Gaara was going to lose his internal fight as his fits got worse almost daily until Shukaku was finally appeased and an agreement was reached between the two beings in Gaara's body.

When it came to fighting, the only difference in the red head's style was that he aimed away from allies, instead of just obliterating everything and everyone in the vacinity. This didn't impact his unpredictability, especially when Shukaku's screaming cracked his control and he lashed out at anything that moved. Fortunately, most of his allies were able to recognize when his control was weakening and take cover until he'd managed to regain full control.

Blood was, and always had been, a factor in anything that Shukaku did, through Gaara or otherwise. This led to the internal deal between Gaara and his demon that allowed the tanuki to take all of the blood he needed from anyone that was killed during the course of a mission, but even this sometimes wasn't enough, leading to a few of Gaara's fits. Despite this, Gaara was slowly becoming more stable, more controlled, and more respected by the Sand village.

The compromise between boy and demon had come with some interesting side-effects, including Gaara's use of his partial transformation into Shukaku without starting to lose control. Part of the change in Gaara was due to his defeat, but most of it was due to the willpower that Gaara started exercising over the demon when it started acting up. But even with this new calm Gaara was still unable to sleep.

As he walked calmly forward sand swirled in a spherical shape, growing arms that lashed out at the hired thugs standing in his way, leaving a trail of nearly bloodless enemies in his wake as particles of sand streamed out behind him, curling against the floor and walls before catching up again. His darkly ringed eyes were focused forward, intent upon their destination. Their bottomless green reflected the light thrown from the particles of sand swirling around him, specks of gold flashing against the cold calculations performed in his mind.

He walked forward, each step signaling another death as a pawn threw themselves into the crushing grip of his sand. A smile twisted his mouth as his eyes lit upon the sword flashing as it landed and stuck into the ground directly in his path. The tattooed ninja stood with crossed arms, kunai bristling as he looked down at the short red head surrounded by swirling sand, a superior smirk gracing his face.

Gaara didn't say anything, just sent his sand forward, knowing that this one would die just as all the others had. He continued to walk forward, even as the sword flashed in the gold-flecked light and came down upon his shield.

FIN

Notes: The next chapter of HN should be up within the next couple of days, it's over half way done, and will then just need to be beta-ed. Thanks to everyone who reviewed!